It Continues to Be a Real Mystery Why Republicans Aren't Connecting with a Majority of Female Voters

[Content Note: Misogyny; heterocentrism.]

A week after I wrote about this piece of shit ad in which it's implied women pick candidates like boyfriends, now I'm obliged to write about this piece of shit ad in which women choose candidates like wedding dresses: "The College Republican National Committee launched on Wednesday a nearly $1 million digital ad campaign across 16 states, aiming to draw young voters to the GOP with what the group's chief calls 'culturally relevant' ad campaigns. The first ad, launched Wednesday morning in Florida, is modeled after TLC's Say Yes to the Dress, where brides-to-be look for wedding dresses."

A young thin blonde white woman appears in a series of wedding dresses as she spins, a la the credits to Say Yes to the Dress, followed by text onscreen reading: "Say Yes to the Candidate."

The bride appears in a talking head segment, again in the style of Say Yes to the Dress. She is identified as: "Brittany, Undecided Voter." She says: "Budget is a big deal for me now that I just graduated from college." Cut to video of her looking through dresses on a rack, then admiring herself in a mirror after she's tried on one. "The Rick Scott is perfect!" she tells a thin middle-aged white woman, who is her dress consultant.

"The Rick Scott" (Rick Scott is the Republican Governor of Florida) is a simple, elegant gown. As the bride models the dress for her friends and mother, she says in voiceover, "Rick Scott is becoming a trusted brand. He has new ideas that don't break your budget."

As her mother, a red-haired middle-aged woman in a black and white polka-dot dress, makes a revolted face, a male voiceover says: "But Mom has other ideas." Cut to Mom in a talking head segment. "Gloria, Bride's Mother." She says, "I like the Charlie Crist."

Cut to the bride with her dress consultant, trying on a fussier gown that does not flatter her shape as well. She looks horrified. (Charlie Crist is the former Republican Governor of Florida and current Democratic candidate for Governor of Florida.) In voiceover, Mom says, "It's expensive and a little outdated, but I know best!"

As the bride models the dress for her friends (who hate it) and Mom (who loves it), the dress consultant says: "And don't forget—the Charlie Crist comes with additional costs. There's over two billion dollars in taxes, three-point-six billion dollars in debt, and fifteen percent tuition increases." Mom cheers.

The bride is now buried in an oversized veil and yards of fabric. "But I'll be paying this off for the rest of my life!" the bride exclaims, looking miserable.

Her friend, a young black woman ("Tiffani, Maid of Honor"), in a talking head segment, says: "We could not let her walk out of the voting booth like that!"

"Mom," says the bride, "this is my decision! And I see a better future with Rick Scott." Triumphant music as she once again models the Rick Scott gown.

"Sometimes it's hard to let go of old styles," says the male voiceover, as Mom looks disappointed. "But it all worked out in the end, because Brittany said yes to Rick Scott!" Champagne and cheers.
Wait—is she marrying Rick Scott, or voting for him? If she's just voting for him, why does she have a maid of honor? This metaphor is bullshit.

You know what else is bullshit? That Republicans evidently cannot think of a way to appeal to female voters without casting us as relationship-seeking girls.

(Which, you know, maybe wouldn't be so tempting if the Republican Party ran more female candidates. As an aside.)

Honestly, the only thing more insulting than the implication I would choose a candidate based on the same criteria I use to choose an intimate partner is the belief that I could conceivably be persuaded to choose a candidate based on an ad this fucking stupid.

Yes, it's a real mystery why young women aren't flocking to the Republican Party en masse, when the best strategies they've devised to appeal to young women are: 1. Take away their reproductive rights; 2. Insult them!

Keep up the fine work, dipshits.

[Note: There are versions for Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Michigan, and Pennsylvania, too.]

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Daily Dose of Cute

image of Zelda the Black and Tan Mutt lying beside me on the couch on her back, with her legs in the air and her head hanging off the side of the couch
Zelly, subtly hinting she would like some belly rubs, please. LOL.

As always, please feel welcome and encouraged to share pix of the fuzzy, feathered, or scaled members of your family in comments.

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Fat Fashion

This is your semi-regular thread in which fat women can share pix, make recommendations for clothes they love, ask questions of other fat women about where to locate certain plus-size items, share info about sales, talk about what jeans cut at what retailer best fits their body shapes, discuss how to accessorize neutral colored suits, share stories of going bare-armed for the first time, brag about a cool fashion moment, whatever.

* * *

As a lot of discussions about Fat Fashion, for very good reasons, center around what we can't get—things in our size, things that work for our body shapes, things that are fashionable—so today's suggested topic is: Things That We Covet. That is, neat things we've found that we want to buy, as soon as we can afford to buy them, or things we will never be able to afford but love to drool over anyway, or things we adore but don't have the bravado yet to wear, or whatever.

Basically, share the plus-size items you've found that you do love!

I've been mooning over this Joe Brown "From Russia with Love" coat ever since I first saw it at SimplyBe:

image of a blue-toned 'gorgeous jacquard fabric and luxurious semi-fitted tapestry coat'

At a price of $199, I will never own it, lol, but I love looking at it. It's a really beautiful coat, and certainly not typical of the stuff that's usually available for fat ladies.

Anyway! As always, all subjects related to fat fashion are on topic. You don't need to stick to this one! If you've had a great fashion moment lately, want to solicit advice on where to find a particular item, or whatever, go for it.

* * *

Have at it in comments! Please remember to make fat women of all sizes, especially women who find themselves regularly sizing out of standard plus-size lines, welcome in this conversation, and pass no judgment on fat women who want to and/or feel obliged, for any reason, to conform to beauty standards. And please make sure if you're soliciting advice, you make it clear you're seeking suggestions—and please be considerate not to offer unsolicited advice. Sometimes people just need to complain and want solidarity, not solutions.

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Two-Minute Nostalgia Sublime

McAlmont & Butler: "Yes"

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In the News

Here is some stuff in the news today...

[Content Note: Guns] What in the everloving shit is wrong with the Secret Service?! "A security contractor with a gun and three convictions for assault and battery was allowed on an elevator with President Obama during a Sept. 16 trip to Atlanta, violating Secret Service protocols, according to three people familiar with the incident." Whoooooooooops. Get it together, assholes!

[CN: Class warfare] Yet another Republican-appointed judge has ruled that "much of the Affordable Care Act must be defunded and millions of Americans must lose their health insurance. ...To date, nine federal judges have considered this question of whether much of the law should be defunded. Only three—all of whom are Republicans—have agreed that it should be. ...If [Judge Ronald A. White's opinion] is reviewed by a panel of judges interested in neutrally applying the law, White will be reversed." Fingers crossed.

[CN: Death penalty; torture] After a series of botched executions across the US, Oklahoma has decided that instead of getting rid of the death penalty, it will simply increase the amount of sedative given to inmates by five times the current dosage and reduce the number of media witnesses allowed. Fucking hell.

[CN: Carcerality] Corrections Corporation of America, the US' biggest for-profit prison company, wants to get in on the halfway house business. Sure. If your business model depends on high rates of recidivism, what better way to ensure increasing profits than making sure there's no rehabilitation access for anyone? Reprehensible human misery profiteers.

Big Pharma is basically running our for-profit healthcare system: "US doctors and teaching hospitals received $3.5 billion from pharmaceutical companies and medical device makers in the last five months of 2013, according to the most extensive data trove on such payments ever made public. The payments, disclosed by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) on Tuesday, include consulting and speaking fees, travel, meals, entertainment, and research grants." Swell!

[CN: Drones; surveillance] Hey, since police forces all over the US are getting other kinds of military equipment, why not surveillance drones? What could possibly go wrong?

I like this habit that married actors Felicity Huffman and William H. Macy have for facilitating active listening as part of their communication: "I'm loathe to talk about this [and] give advice because I happened to luck out in marriage, but once a week we do sit down and make sure we take half an hour, each person gets 15 minutes, just to talk with no crosstalk. I talk, then you talk. ...You kind of just deeply check in with the other person. When you have 15 minutes to talk, which is endless, by the way, and if you want to sit there in silence you can but when you have 15 minutes to talk, you kind of actually see what's going on with the other person without any talk-back."

A Tetris movie is being made, because of course it is. "It's a very big, epic sci-fi movie," Threshold's CEO Larry Kasanoff says. "This isn't a movie with a bunch of lines running around the page. We're not giving feet to the geometric shapes. ...Brands are the new stars of Hollywood. We have a story behind 'Tetris' which makes it a much more imaginative thing… What you [will] see in 'Tetris' is the teeny tip of an iceberg that has intergalactic significance." Sounds perfect!

And finally! Here is a great story about two stray dogs who are BFFs, who were rescued together, and are now looking for a forever home together. ♥

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NOT Good2Go

by Shaker masculine_lady

[Content Note: Sexual assault; hostility to consent.]

Good2Go, reviewed by Amanda Hess in the Ladies Area at Slate, is a new app that is ostensibly supposed to aid in the oh-so-awkward communication about sex that happens in so-called hook up culture. It is also supposed to somehow reduce sexual assault because it makes sure consent is present.

Here's how it works: After deciding that you would like to have sex with someone, launch the Good2Go app (free on iTunes and Google Play), hand the phone off to your potential partner, and allow him or her to navigate the process to determine if he or she is ready and willing. "Are We Good2Go?" the first screen asks, prompting the partner to answer "No, Thanks," "Yes, but … we need to talk," or "I'm Good2Go." If the partner chooses door No. 1, a black screen pops up that reads "Remember! No means No! Only Yes means Yes, BUT can be changed to NO at anytime!" If he or she opts instead to have a conversation before deciding—imagine, verbally communicating with someone with whom you may imminently engage in sexual intercourse—the app pauses to allow both parties to discuss.

If the partner—let's assume for the purposes of this blog post, partner is a she—indicates that she is "Good2Go," she's sent to a second screen that asks if she is "Sober," "Mildly Intoxicated," "Intoxicated but Good2Go," or "Pretty Wasted." If she chooses "Pretty Wasted," the app informs her that she "cannot consent" and she's instructed to return the phone back to its owner (and presumably, not have sex under any circumstances, young lady). All other choices lead to a third screen, which asks the partner if she is an existing Good2Go user or a new one. If she's a new user, she's prompted to enter her phone number and a password, confirm that she is 18 years old, and press submit. (Minors are out of luck—the app is only for consenting adults.) Then, she'll fill out a fourth prompt, which asks her to input a six-digit code that's just been texted to her own cellphone to verify her identity with that app. (Previous users can just type in their phone number—which serves as their Good2Go username—and password.) Once that level is complete, she returns the phone to its owner, who can view a message explaining the terms of the partner's consent. (For example, the "Partner is intoxicated but is Good2Go.") Then, the instigator presses a button marked "Ok," which reminds him again that yes can be changed to "NO at anytime!"
There are approximately 8 million things wrong with this, and it's even worse than the rape "prevention" nail polish that came out a few weeks ago. At least the nail polish didn't actually give rapists a method to manufacture a record of consent.

Good2Go guides users through a somewhat arduous process (I mean, if I was "totally wasted," I couldn't follow it) to determine if everyone is game for sexytimes and is more sober than drunk. If everyone is good to go, then they proceed to the sexytimes WITH A PERMANENT DATA POINT ABOUT THE CONSENT CREATED.

Rape isn't a misunderstanding about consent. Rapists don't rape because they aren't clear if their chosen victim wants to have sex or not. They don't actually care about consent. They want to dominate and control another person explicitly without consent. They don't forget to get consent, they don't misread the signals, etc. All of those excuses are made in the rape culture in which we live, and inherent to all of them is the belief that rape is about sexual desire and/or rapists are really nice guys who make mistakes.

Rapists who rape women do so because they want to rape women. Rapists who rape men do so because they want to rape men. Consent is irrelevant, until the rapist is in front of a judge... "Per the data from the kind folks at Good2Go, we can see that the witness consented to sexual intercourse at 6:47 PM on August 23rd. The defense rests."

Consent is a process, and isn't ever a done deal. Consent at 7 PM isn't consent at 11 PM. Consent for a kiss isn't consent for oral sex. Consent for one sex act isn't consent for another. This app structures consent as a contract, without options or process. Good2Go is like the worst sort of rape joke. It will embolden rapists and isolate and blame survivors.

The app we need is one that builds respect for women and girls as human beings and fosters empathy for survivors.

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First Case of Ebola Diagnosed in US

[Content Note: Illness.]

Yesterday, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed that a man in Texas, currently a patient at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas, has the Ebola virus, making his the first diagnosed Ebola case in the United States.

Officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Texas Department of State Health Services, Presbyterian Hospital and Dallas County Health and Human Services all participated in a Tuesday afternoon press conference. CDC Director Thomas Frieden related the information that the individual who tested positive had traveled to Liberia.

The person left Liberia on September 19 and arrived in the United States on September 20 with no virus symptoms. Frieden said that it was four or five days later that the patient, who is believed to be male, began developing symptoms and was ultimately admitted to Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas on Sunday, September 28.
So, two things to note: He did not contract the virus in the United States, and he was not symptomatic when traveling, so it is extremely unlikely he infected anyone else during his travels. Ebola is not airborne, nor is it passed via water supplies; one must come in contact with an infected person's body fluids in order to contract the virus.

(Here is the CDC's Q&A page on Ebola.)

Because there is a possibility the man's family members may have contracted the virus, they will be monitored for symptoms for the next three weeks. Frieden says he has "no doubt that we'll stop this in its tracks in the US." Let's hope so.

The one concerning thing is that the man "first sought medical help on Friday, and was treated and sent home. Ebola was not recognized."
Frieden said the early symptoms of Ebola, like fever and nausea, can easily be mistaken for other illnesses. But he added that public health experts have for months been urging doctors and nurses to take a travel history on anyone who shows up with such symptoms and to be on the alert for Ebola in anyone who has been to Guinea, Liberia or Sierra Leone.

With worsening symptoms, the man sought care again on Sunday, and was then admitted to the hospital in Dallas and placed in isolation.
I hope that this case will underscore to healthcare providers the importance of documenting patients' travel histories.

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No Rules

[Content Note: War; terrorism; drones; death.]

Last year, President Obama announced new rules governing the use of drone strikes, which included a prohibition on the use of drone strikes unless there is a "near certainty" that the strike will result in zero civilian casualties. At the time, President Obama said it was "the highest standard we can meet."

And now that standard is being tossed out like so much garbage, because it's too difficult a standard to meet in our not-war with IS.

The White House has acknowledged for the first time that strict standards President Obama imposed last year to prevent civilian deaths from U.S. drone strikes will not apply to U.S. military operations in Syria and Iraq.

A White House statement to Yahoo News confirming the looser policy came in response to questions about reports that as many as a dozen civilians, including women and young children, were killed when a Tomahawk missile struck the village of Kafr Daryan in Syria's Idlib province on the morning of Sept. 23.

...[Caitlin Hayden, a spokesperson for the National Security Council] said that a much-publicized White House policy that President Obama announced last year barring U.S. drone strikes unless there is a "near certainty" there will be no civilian casualties — "the highest standard we can meet," he said at the time — does not cover the current U.S. airstrikes in Syria and Iraq.

The "near certainty" standard was intended to apply "only when we take direct action 'outside areas of active hostilities,' as we noted at the time," Hayden said in an email. "That description — outside areas of active hostilities — simply does not fit what we are seeing on the ground in Iraq and Syria right now."

Hayden added that U.S. military operations against the Islamic State (also known as ISIS or ISIL) in Syria, "like all U.S. military operations, are being conducted consistently with the laws of armed conflict, proportionality and distinction."
Emphasis mine.

Yesterday, after Britain's Royal Air Force delivered its first airstrikes against IS targets in Iraq, US Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes tweeted:

screen cap of tweet authored by Rhodes reading: 'U.S. welcomes first airstrikes against ISIL targets from our UK allies today in Iraq.'

Is that more representative of proportionality or distinction, do you think?

This is what is happening: We have lifted guidelines that protect civilians, and we're publicly high-fiving other nations who are dropping bombs that may or may not kill civilians, under the auspices of making us safer, despite the fact that every single thing we know about drone campaigns demonstrably indicates that they make us less safe by serving as compelling recruitment tools for enemies of the US.

Which is to say nothing of the fact that we are claiming a right to make ourselves safe at a grave expense to the safety of other people.

President Obama's drone program and policy are shamefully cruel. And the Republican opposition, who reflexively and vehemently hate literally every single other thing this president does, are completely silent on this issue—because they're quite content to support warmongering.
The issue arose during last week's briefing for two House Foreign Affairs Committee members and two staffers when rebel leaders associated with factions of the Free Syria Army, including Abu Abdo Salabman, complained about the civilian deaths — and the fact that the targets were in territory controlled by the Nusra Front, a sometimes ally of the U.S.-backed rebels in its war with the Islamic State and the Syrian regime.

But at least one of the House members present, Rep. Adam Kinzinger, an Illinois Republican who supports stronger U.S. action in Syria, said he was not overly concerned. "I did hear them say there were civilian casualties, but I didn't get details," Kinzinger said in an interview with Yahoo News. "But nothing is perfect," and whatever civilian deaths resulted from the U.S. strikes are "much less than the brutality of the Assad regime."
Shrug. Proportionality. Distinction.

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Open Thread

image of a multicolored collection of ukeleles

Hosted by ukeleles.

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Question of the Day

Suggested by Shaker RachelB: "Is there a road not taken in your life that you think about, and what does it look like?"

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Yikes Corner: "Gone Girl"

[Content Note: Antifeminist tropes; misogyny. This thread will contain major plot spoilers for the book, and possibly the film, Gone Girl.]

screen cap of tweet authored by me reading: 'I just finished 'Gone Girl.' What in MRA wank fantasy hell was that?! Christ.'

Does anyone want to discuss with me how much I hated this vile book? LOL. Because I hated it a whole bunch.

Anyone else?

There was a lot—A LOT—I hated about it, but what I hated most is its mockery of people who believe victims of abuse. That mockery is in every thread of its fabric, built right into its structure.

The author, Gillian Flynn, says feminism should allow for female villains (and I agree), but a female villain doesn't have to look like an MRA caricature of women.

Flynn says she's "grown quite weary of the spunky heroines [and] brave rape victims...that stock so many books." (Ahem.) And I understand what she's saying: Recognizing women's full humanity, even as fictional characters, means allowing them to be "wicked," too, but it's possible to write "wicked" female characters who aren't "wicked" in ways that play into existing antifeminist narratives.

As but one of many examples from the book: The female protagonist falsely accuses three different men of rape. Three.

The book has been called satire, or a dark comedic take on misogyny and/or patriarchy—or marriage (!!!)—but I'm not convinced it works as a commentary on these things, because it's entirely possible to read it "straight." That is, without any feminist critique, reading the female protagonist as the ultimate "psycho bitch" (actual words from the book) that many misogynists imagine every woman to be.

If a man who hated women, one of the men who harbors dark prejudices about the sinister motives of women to ensnare, to trap, to manipulate, to harm, to play the victim, to manipulate, to conquer, can read a story and close the cover on the last page with a grin of smug satisfaction that his every suspicion about what women are really like has been confirmed, I'm not sure that story has a reasonable claim to effective commentary.

Here is the trailer for the film version, now in theaters.

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Matthew Yglesias: "7 reasons Indiana Governor Mike Pence will be the GOP nominee in 2016."

Melissa McEwan: 7 reasons Indiana Governor Mike Pence should not be the GOP nominee in 2016...

1. Nope. No. No to the hell to the no. No, no, no. I mean it. Really. No way. No how. Hell no. No. Nope. Nuh-uh. Nah. No the noth power. #nofuckingway. Not even the tiniest, infinitesimal, unfathomable modicum. Nopey nopey nope. Negatory. Nein. Nyet. Non. Nei. Naheen. Hell fuckin' no.


"NOOOOOOO! God! No! God please no! No! No! NOOOOOOOOOO!"

gif of an eagle making an alarmed face


"No no no no no no no no no no no no no no."



gif of The Dude from The Big Lebowski saying 'What the fuck are you talking about?'
"What the fuck are you talking about?" NO.

7. No.

I rest my case, your honor.

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Quote of the Day

[Content Note: Classism; racism.]

"I just wish city officials would go after racism with the same manic intensity as they are going after blight."—Peter Hammer, professor of law and director of the Damon J Keith Center for Civil Rights at Wayne State University, on Detroit's $1 billion blight removal project, which is demolishing abandoned buildings "at a speed of at least 200 houses a week."

Hammer's not suggesting that there is not a need for policy that includes blight removal, but that blight removal alone is not the comprehensive solution the city needs: "Racism is what got us into this mess, yet there is nothing in this blight removal report that deals with issues of race, or segregation, or discrimination, or white flight, which is the absolute root cause of why we have the issues of abandoned buildings and blight in Detroit in the first place."

I highly recommend reading the entire piece. It's really worth your time.

[H/T to my pals Ellen and Kathryn.]

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Daily Dose of Cute

Pictures of Deeky's handsome cats, taken while I was visiting last weekend (and shared with Deeks' permission):

image of Potter the Black and White Cat, lying on his side, looking mischievous

image of Jack the Pale Ginger Cat, lying on the floor under a dining room chair, looking sweet

They are the sweetest boys, and I love them both to pieces. I don't know how it is that there are people who insist cats have no individual personalities. Potter and Jack are so different, and no one would mistake either of them for any of my girls. Although I am certain that Jack and Olivia, both so talkative and both such persistent wee beggars, are distant cousins, each of whom made their way to us by presenting themselves in the road.

As always, please feel welcome and encouraged to share pix of the fuzzy, feathered, or scaled members of your family in comments.

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I Am from the No-Gun Culture and I Don't Speak Your Language

[Content Note: Guns.]

Via Atrios, I read this story about a restaurant in Louisiana that is offering a 10% discount to patrons who come in with their guns.

"I just need to see a weapon. I need you to be carrying a gun," says Bergeron's owner Kevin Cox.

That's right. The restaurant began offering a 10% discount a couple of weeks ago, for bringing in both your appetite and your gun.

"As long as everybody has a gun we're all the same size," says Cox.
The first thing I think is the thing I have written before: I did not grow up in the gun culture, I am not comfortable in the gun culture, I do not feel safe around a lot of people with guns, and I really don't want to be in public spaces where there are a lot of guns. And yet I am constantly admonished to be tolerant of the gun culture, with zero reciprocal expectation that people who love guns respect that I don't share their enthusiasm.

And the second thing that I think is that Kevin Cox does not understand what it is like to be a marginalized person who lives under a persistent threat of real harm. Because if he did—if he really understood by way of lived experience what it is like to live in justifiable fear of likely harm, as opposed to living in conjured fear of inventing boogeymen to rationalize arming oneself as if weapons can stop the erosion of unearned privilege—he would know that being "all the same size" isn't really the issue.

Those of the words of a very privileged person whose closest experience to being obliged to sit with fear is having a bigger kid steal his lunch money.

If he'd lived a different kind of life, maybe he'd understand that the solution to real violence, to genuine existential threats, is not the capacity to commit more violence, but an urgency to diminish the things underwriting violence in the first place. Fear, hatred, need. Things to which guns are not an answer, and never will be.

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Two-Minute Nostalgia Sublime

Tori Amos: "Cornflake Girl"

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In the News

Here is some stuff in the news today...

[Content Note: War] War, war, war, never-ending war: "Afghanistan and the US have signed a long-delayed agreement to allow international forces to stay in the country beyond 2014. In a low-key ceremony at the presidential palace, the Afghan national security adviser and the US ambassador signed the bilateral security agreement in the presence of the new Afghan president, Ashraf Ghani. ...Under the terms of the agreement, signed by national security adviser Mohammad Hanif Atmar and US ambassador James Cunningham, about 12,000 foreign troops are expected to stay to train and assist Afghan security forces after the US-led combat mission formally ends at the end of 2014." The "train and assist" plan has worked great in Iraq, so I don't see what could possibly go wrong.

The Secret Service is being called onto the carpet over the breach of the White House by a dude with a knife. Julia Pierson, the director of the Secret Service, told members of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform: "What happened is unacceptable and it will never happen again." But how did it happen in the first place?! Isn't that literally the most basic function of the Secret Service?!

[CN: Natural disaster; death] Mount Sakurajima Volcano Erupts in Japan: "A second volcano erupted in Japan on Monday, days after a deadly eruption at Mount Ontake that killed at least 36 people. Mount Sakurajima, an active volcano that erupts frequently, is located about 31 miles from a controversial nuclear plant where Japan's government has announced plans to restart two reactors." My god. It has been a really rough couple of years for Japan. Fuck.

[CN: Misogyny] It Continues to Be a Real Mystery Why Republicans Aren't Connecting with a Majority of Female Voters: "On Friday and Saturday, conservative politicians and activists descended upon Washington, D.C.'s Omni Shoreham Hotel, for the Values Voter Summit... Though birth control is popular among, well, everyone, [members on a panel titled 'How Conservatives Can Win with Millennials and Women'] seemed indignant that anyone in the GOP would support over-the-counter birth control, as several Republican senatorial candidates have done. According to [Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life], birth control is carcinogenic and so the people providing these 'dangerous chemicals' to women are waging the real War on Women. ...Hawkins even found a way to paint men as the true sufferers in the abortion debate." Of course.

[CN: Animal abuse] This is awful: "The global loss of species is even worse than previously thought, the London Zoological Society (ZSL) says in its new Living Planet Index. The report suggests populations have halved in 40 years, as new methodology gives more alarming results than in a report two years ago. The report says populations of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish have declined by an average of 52%. Populations of freshwater species have suffered an even worse fall of 76%." Halved in the last 40 years. Halved.

[CN: Drones] If you are able to view video, I highly recommend watching John Oliver's segment on drones from his most recent episode.

Something something giant flag.

A perfect fit! "Former CNN host Piers Morgan will be joining the Daily Mail Online as the website's U.S. editor-at-large, according to an announcement on Tuesday."

Do you have a dog with hip dysplasia? Then you might be interested in this new harness that could help.

And finally! Here is a great story about Iris, a little girl with autism, and Thula, a cat who is Iris' BFF. ♥

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On Plus-Size Sewing

by Shaker sweetbyrd

[Content Note: Fat bias.]

"Well, if you don't like the plus sized clothing they sell in the stores, why don't you just sew your own?"

And even though that is an absurdly reductionist argument (not least of all since you need to have at least some basic knowledge, resources and time to even contemplate sewing your own clothing), I decided to call the speaker's bluff. I am lucky enough to have the knowledge, skills, and resources to sew at least some of my own clothing, so I decided to give it a try. Making things appeals to something in me anyway, so I'll admit that I wasn't a hard sell. To ease my way into things, I decided to start off simple, with a knee-length a-line skirt.

So I took myself down to my nearest fabric store in search of a sewing pattern. For readers that are uninitiated into home sewing, a pattern provides basic instructions for turning a length of fabric into a wearable garment. While it is true that there are online tutorials for creating certain pieces of clothing, I (like many people who have learned how to sew) learned using patterns. I am therefore vastly more comfortable using a pattern than an online tutorial. At least for my first venture back into sewing, I wanted to stay within my comfort zone.

I thought that a pattern for a simple-to-make and popular wardrobe item like an a-line skirt would be easy to find. I was wrong. The fabric store I was using had at least one pattern book from each of the dominant pattern manufacturers, and I looked through every single pattern book they had. I found no suitable patterns in any of them—and I wasn't being that picky.

Out of curiosity, I looked back at the patterns available for straight sizes. ("Straight sizes" is the common term used to refer to those sizes that are not plus sizes.—Ed.) Not only did I find patterns for skirts like the one I wanted to make, but I found a wide selection of patterns for clothing that catered to many situations and style sensibilities. By comparison, the plus size selection was scant and meager. Too many options were body-negating; that is, designed to cover up the body underneath and conceal its shape. And if that if your style jam, more power to you, but it does not represent the be-all and end-all of fashion statements that plus sized women want to make. And I am by far not the only person to have noticed this problem.

So let me get this straight; in order to get clothes that both fit me and that I want to wear, I basically have to learn how to draft or alter patterns (and proceed to do so), so I can use that pattern to sew the clothes, and then make the clothes so I can have the ability to wear them (paying for the requisite supplies and training at each step). Whereas my sister, who wears straight sizes, can simply walk into a department store and grab something off the rack (and be assured that, if she doesn't find what she wants in one store, she stands a good chance of finding what she is seeking at the next one). Uh huh—that isn't a double standard at all.

Clothing, in modern American society, is not just a way of being un-naked, but a form of communication. And the state of plus size fashion, as represented in retail, and even as options for sewing our own clothing overwhelmingly communicates the message "I don't deserve any better". We are constantly being told that our "appearance matters", but plus sized women are consistently denied the tools with which we can take control of those appearances. This is the sartorial equivalent of denying us a vocabulary with which we can express ourselves.

Since more than half of women in the U.S. wear a size 14 or above (which is the common definition of "plus size"), I can only imagine a torrent of repressed communication bursting forth when plus sizes are treated with the same amount of respect accorded to straight sizes. But although I believe that things are better than they were in days past, I also know that this is still a world in which well-known designers who deign to make plus size lines refuse to advertize those lines.

Note: I would be utterly remiss if I didn't mention that there are some awesome independent pattern designers out there who do include plus size women in their pattern selection. In fact, I recently found and bought some wonderful indie patterns from a designer whose aesthetic really resonates with my own (however—fabulous though the patterns I bought may be—they do not include an A-line skirt). I just don't think I should have to look as far afield as Australia to find patterns for attractive clothing that fits me.

Open Wide...

Are You Even Serious Right Now, DC Comics?

[Content Note: Misogyny; heterocentrism.]

Behold, two new terrific t-shirts being offered by DC Comics:

image of a men's t-shirt featuring Superman bending Wonder Woman backwards for a kiss, accompanied by comic text reading: 'SCORE! Superman does it again!' and a women's t-shirt featuring the Batman logo with text reading: 'TRAINING to be Batman's wife.'

Victoria at The MarySue explains:
On the left, we've got a men's shirt that depicts a scene inspired by Superman/Wonder Woman, which, you'll remember, was a romance themed title developed last year to appeal to women since why would we ever want to read a comic book that's not about kissing? (edit: it's actually from a cover of Justice League 12, however, because DC does sure love their crossovers) The text reads "Score! Superman does it again!"...

Also, Wonder Woman's a lasso-less "it" now, we guess. Yeah, that's why her arm's all weird at the bottom of the shirt; she's supposed to be lassoing Superman in the picture. But why present a powerful female superhero using one of her trademark symbols as a marker of sexual agency when you can instead present her as a stiff, rigid board to be scored upon?

On the right is a shirt from the juniors department of Walmart, which says "Training to be Batman's," and then "wife" in a different more stereotypically feminine font. It's a little known fact, but you are not allowed to spell the word "wife" in any font other than cursive.
Just to be abundantly clear: These are licensed shirts. Licensed and approved by DC Comics. Who continue to be mystified by the continual outrage and contempt of many of their female fans.

Why u so mad, tho, when we make such great shirts for ladies?

One of the problems, as ever, is that there are simply not enough female superheroes, and, among the small stable of female DC superheroes, very few have the status of the most prominent male DC superheroes. (Arguably that number is exactly ONE: Wonder Woman.) In the cavernous vacuum of female heroism, turning Wonder Woman into a sex toy for Superman and inviting women to train to be Batman's wife are even more insulting.

And they would be insulting even if there were more female superheroes.

But DC is essentially communicating here that not only do they not care about developing and promoting top-tier female superheroes; they want to diminish the one top-tier female superhero they have, because women are only worth being sex objects and wives for male superheroes. Their property.

Which is to say nothing, of course, of the aggressive heterocentrism of this shit. (Suffice it to say, there is not an equivalent "Training to be Wonder Woman's wife" t-shirt.)

Again, I am struck by how an industry built on wildly creative imagination can be so aggressively unimaginative when it comes to human women.

It should be an embarrassment to people who can imagine the future, conjure the past, and create new worlds and their inhabitants, that they can't imagine a woman who wants to be Woman Woman because she is herself a superhero, who wants to be more than a male superhero's fucktoy.

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SCOTUS Strikes Again

[Content Note: Racism; classism; disablism.]

A year after the US Supreme Court made a terrible ruling that gutted the Voting Rights Act, the Court has again, in another 5-4 decision, issued a ruling that undermines access to voting:

In a 5-4 decision that divided entirely along partisan lines, the Court allowed cuts to Ohio's early voting days to go into effect. Notably, this decision came down just 16 hours before polling places were set to open in that state.

...As Judge Peter Economus, the judge who initially suspended the voting changes, explained in his opinion, the reduction in early voting days were likely to disproportionately impact African American voters. Many black churches conduct "Souls to the Polls" events that encouraging churchgoers to vote after attending Sunday services, and removing an early voting day on a Sunday reduces the opportunities to conduct these events. Additionally Judge Economus discussed empirical evidence demonstrating that "a greater proportion of blacks not only cast [early] ballots than whites but do so on early voting days that have been eliminated by" the new voting schedule.

This impact on African American voters matters because the Voting Rights Act provides that "[n]o voting qualification or prerequisite to voting or standard, practice, or procedure shall be imposed or applied by any State or political subdivision in a manner which results in a denial or abridgement of the right of any citizen of the United States to vote on account of race or color."
Early voting is also an important accommodation for some people with disabilities, as well as people who have to work on Election Day, and who can't afford to lose hourly wages to vote and/or can't afford to lose their job entirely fighting for their legal right to vote with someone who doesn't care about their legal right to vote.

I am increasingly contemptuous of this Supreme Court majority and their lifetime appointments and their garbage decisions which limit democracy for marginalized people and expand "democracy" for privileged people.

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