ASK Musings

No matter where you go, there you are.

Monthly Archive: May 2019



May 2019



What I’m Reading – May 19, 2019

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““Since 2012, I have advocated tirelessly to empower our communities and make them safer,” she said in a statement Saturday. “But the work is not done. I am proud to announce that I will run to represent District 1 on the county commission.” Fulton announced Saturday that she would launch her campaign for the District 1 seat, which will be relinquished in 2020 by the term-limited Commissioner Barbara Jordan. Miami Gardens Mayor Oliver Gilbert is also running for the seat, one of five up for grabs after Miami-Dade voters approved a two-term limit for the 13-member board in 2012. Miami Gardens is the biggest city in District 1.” Sybrina Fulton, mother of Trayvon Martin, will run for Miami-Dade County Commission (by Martin Vassolo for the Miami Herald)

Gun Violence

“Eubanks was 17 at the time of the Columbine shooting, according to CNN affiliate KMGH.
He was in the library with his friends, trying to decide whether they were going to go fishing or play golf after school, when they heard the sound of gunshots. “A teacher ran through the same doors that we just entered into the library, yelling at everybody to get under the tables, that somebody had a gun, and I remember just being in shock,” Eubanks told CNN last year.” Columbine survivor Austin Eubanks found dead at 37 (by Amir Vera for CNN)


“But Kessem was about to become the latest victim of a government policy that effectively de-recognizes her parents’ marriage, granting her no automatic rights to American birthright citizenship despite the fact that both her fathers are U.S. citizens. That policy, Kessem’s fathers told The Daily Beast, poses a unique threat to LGBT families, and could change the decades-old legal understanding of what the word “family” even means. “This is a very clear attack on families, on American families,” Roee, who married Adiel in California in 2013, told The Daily Beast. “Denying American married couples their rights to pass their citizenship, that is flat-out discrimination, and everyone should be concerned about this.”” Trump Administration to LGBT Couples: Your ‘Out of Wedlock’ Kids Aren’t Citizens (by Scott Bixby for Daily Beast)

Reproductive Health

What is going on in the US is misogynistic and horrible. If you want to fight back, here are a couple of options:

National Network of Abortion Funds

Stop Abortion Bans

Something Good





May 2019



What I’m Reading – 12 May 2019

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Reproductive Health

“Helmi Henkin—chair of the clinic escort group West Alabama Clinic Defenders and Alabama’s only statewide abortion fund, the Yellowhammer Fund—witnessed the incident, called police, and uploaded a picture of the driver’s car to her social media accounts for people to share. “She is fine now, but we were just really emotionally overwhelmed by the incident,” Henkin told Rewire.News.” In Alabama, an Anti-Choice Protester Tried to Run Over an Abortion Clinic Escort (by Auditi Guha for Rewire.News)

“David Simon, creator of “The Wire” and “The Deuce,” said in a tweet on Thursday that his company Blown Deadline’s “assessments of locations for upcoming development will pull Georgia off the list until we can be assured the health options and civil liberties of our female colleagues are unimpaired.” “I can’t ask any female member of any film production with which I am involved to so marginalize themselves or compromise their inalienable authority over their own bodies,” Simon said.” Two production companies pledge to pull filming from Georgia over strict anti-abortion law (by Aris Folley for The Hill)

“The primary purpose of HB 481 is to prohibit doctors from terminating any pregnancy after they can detect “embryonic or fetal cardiac activity,” which typically occurs at six weeks’ gestation. But the bill does far more than that. In one sweeping provision, it declares that “unborn children are a class of living, distinct person” that deserves “full legal recognition.” Thus, Georgia law must “recognize unborn children as natural persons”—not just for the purposes of abortion, but as a legal rule.” Georgia Just Criminalized Abortion. Women Who Terminate Their Pregnancies Would Receive Life in Prison. (by Mark Joseph Stern for Slate)

“The long and short is, though, I got to a point of wanting to get sterilized because I wanted to a.) stop being told by doctors what I actually wanted, and b.) be able to say “see, now I CAN’T change my mind, so what else have you got to say about it?” People take this choice—one that doesn’t impact them in even any mild way!—really personally. They view it as a judgement of their own choices. And honestly, after doing All Of The Thinking about it for the last, oh, third of my life, I’m kind of done dealing with it. I’m done walking judgemental busybodies through it and justifying it and thinking about it myself.” I Got My Tubes Tied at 31. Here’s What I Learned (by Hanna Brooks Olsen via Medium)

Sexual Assault

“If the Senate Judiciary Committee, led then by Mr. Biden, had done its job and held a hearing that showed that its members understood the seriousness of sexual harassment and other forms of sexual violence, the cultural shift we saw in 2017 after #MeToo might have begun in 1991 — with the support of the government. If the government had shown that it would treat survivors with dignity and listen to women, it could have had a ripple effect. People agitating for change would have been operating from a position of strength. It could have given institutions like the military, the Department of Education and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission greater license to take more decisive action to end the scourge of harassment. And research shows that if leaders convey that they won’t tolerate harassment, people within an organization typically obey.” Anita Hill: Let’s Talk About How to End Sexual Violence (by Anita Hill for The New York Times)

Gender Essentialism in Sport

“The controversy surrounding Semenya echoes the broader media treatment of intersex athletes. The argument being made against Semenya is the same one that was made about Indian runner Dutee Chand, and Spanish hurdler Maria José Martínez-Patiño before that. While transgender and intersex are not the same thing, they’re often conflated in public discussion. (“Transgender” is a term used to describe somebody who was assigned one gender at birth but identifies with and will often medically transition to another. “Intersex” is a term used to describe any number of medical conditions where someone is born with characteristics outside of the typical male and female binary, ranging from the noticeable to the invisible.) The terms were confused last week when Fox News reporter Carley Shimkus incorrectly referred to Semenya as “a transgender Olympic runner” during an episode of Fox & Friends. Shimkus apologized the following day.” Caster Semenya, and the myth of the uneven playing field (by Parker Molloy for Columbia Journalism Review)

School Shootings

“The words were familiar to 15-year-old Duarte, who has participated in nearly 50 active shooter drills in the five years she’s been a student at the STEM School in Highlands Ranch, Colorado, a few miles away from Columbine High School. Only this time, it wasn’t a drill. Two students opened fire on their classmates on Tuesday, killing one and injuring eight others before they were taken into custody.” This Is What It Sounds Like Hiding In A Dark Classroom During A School Shooting (by Tasneem Nashrulla for Buzzfeed)

Something Good

Singer / Songwriter / Podcast host Jenny Owens Young occasionally writes songs for A Cast of Kings, an unofficial Game of Thrones Podcast. The latest is a bit of an ear worm and I like it. (Spoilers, obviously): The Long Night





May 2019



Invisible Women by Caroline Criado Perez

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Four Stars


Best for:
People looking for hard facts on how the lack of data collected about women harms us.

In a nutshell:
Much of ruling society treats (cis) men as the default, dismissing the needs of women as abnormal. This screws us over.

Worth quoting:
“Like so many of the decisions to exclude women in the interests of simplicity, from architecture to medical research, this conclusion could only be reached in a culture that conceives of men as the default human and women as a niche aberration.”

Why I chose it:
I wanted some hard facts to support something I was already generally aware of.

I really struggled with picking up this book. Normally I wouldn’t because the topics is right up my alley. It’s non-fiction. It’s written by a woman. It talks about sexism. It focuses on statistics and data. That’s my jam! Except the author is a problematic feminist and I hate that she is the one who wrote this book, because she has a real problem with the idea of cis women (she wants to be called woman by default, not a cis woman, necessarily othering trans women. Oh the irony). Which means this book never once gives even a sidebar mention of the fact that some of the data gaps she is focused on are even worse for trans women. She also quotes a transphobic woman (Sarah Ditum) in the first few pages. I wish she were a better on this, but here we are.

The fact is, she has written an interesting and easy-to-read book that should piss everyone off. From data gaps about unpaid care work and women’s contributions to the economy to the fact that women metabolize and react to medications differently than men (but are often barely represented in studies — if they are included at all), she looks at the literally hundreds of ways that society places the needs of men in general above the needs of women in general, and the impact it has on how we navigate the world.

Obviously this requires some generalizations. For example, many of the areas focus on women’s role as caretaker, specifically as a mother. I’m not a mother and never will be, so I don’t fit in that realm. But I recognize that overwhelmingly most women will at some point have a child, so I appreciate that not taking that into account will harm many, many women.

Some were areas I’d been aware of before, though not in this level of detail. But other things were light-bulb moments. Early on in the book she talks about the planning of public space and public transportation, and some of the revelations were, looking back, obvious, but also so insidious as to not have occurred to me before.

The focus on the average man’s life experience as the default informs so many decisions in our world, and that means women get left out, left behind, and actively harmed. And the solution is to collect — and the use — more data, but there’s a problem there, as the gatekeepers for things like funding scientific studies are overwhelmingly dudes, and they don’t see the need for studying women-specific issues, or even disaggregating data by sex or gender.

There aren’t easy solutions that corporations and governments are just going to accept and implement. My biggest take-away from this is to be alert to any new studies I read that generalize about people, and to be an outspoken advocate to ensure that new initiatives at the government level have taken into account the lives not just of men, but of women, as well as people in other demographic groups.

Keep it / Pass to a Friend / Donate it / Toss it:
Keep it.



May 2019



What I’m Reading – May 5, 2019

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Bigotry in Sport

“No matter what her personal medical history is, her story illustrates the way people, especially people of color, can be scrutinized when they seem to fall outside gender norms. Being intersex is not the same as being trans, but society at large tends to conflate the two, Pagonis said. “And a lot of people hate trans people.” Meanwhile, “I see a lot of intersex phobia that is heightened because she’s a black woman,” Pagonis added. “Had Caster been a gender-conforming, straight-identified white girl who just was faster than the other people, they would have never invaded her body” by demanding testing, they said.” “I am a woman and I am fast”: what Caster Semenya’s story says about gender and race in sports (by Anna North for Vox)

“Alternatively, the IAAF could consider the road it has not yet travelled: engage in educational efforts aimed at promoting informed discussion, allaying fears of the unknown and promoting understanding as a viable alternative to exclusion. In other words, the IAAF could take the lead in creating a sporting environment in which it becomes possible to truly recognise women with high testosterone as the “humans, daughters, and sisters” that our president, Seb Coe, claims them to be at the same time as he denies their right to participate.” I was sore about losing to Caster Semenya. But this decision against her is wrong (by Madeleine Pape for The Guardian)

““There is no such thing as a standard level of testosterone in a woman’s body,” the doctor explained to i.“A lot of women can be affected by higher than average levels of testosterone. “They can have too little energy or libido, or too much hair and too many mood swings because of conditions like polycystic ovary syndrome or pre-menstrual syndrome, that affects millions of women.” Doctor ‘wouldn’t prescribe’ the hormone suppressants IAAF demands for Caster Semenya (by Jasmine Andersson for i news)

Public Health

“We have been listening to the alerts from the Pan American Health Organization. There are outbreaks of measles [in the United States] largely because persons have not taken the vaccine,” Fredericks-James said. The outbreak comes amid an alarming number of measles diagnoses in the U.S., with 704 cases already reported this year in 22 states — the most in 25 years. It’s an astonishing uptick for a disease that was declared eradicated in the U.S. by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2000.” Scientology Ship Quarantined in St. Lucia After Measles Diagnosis (by Seth Abramovitch for The Hollywood Reporter)

Racism in Policing

“The report on the New Year’s Eve killing, which sparked national police accountability protests, was disclosed this week following journalists’ requests under a new California police transparency law. The previously sealed internal file, written 10 years ago, documented how the Bay Area Rapid Transit (Bart) officer Anthony Pirone “started a cascade of events that ultimately led to the shooting”. Pirone called Grant the N-word while detaining him, hit him in the face in an “unprovoked” attack, and later gave a series of false statements contradicted by videos, investigators said.” Officer punched Oscar Grant and lied about facts in 2009 killing, records show (by Sam Levin for The Guardian)

The Patriarchy Harms Everyone

“The idea of an “emotional gold digger” was first touched on in 2016 by writer Erin Rodgers with a tweet that continues to be re-posted on social media—both by women who married self-described feminist men, and by those with more conservative husbands. It has gained more traction recently as women, feeling increasingly burdened by unpaid emotional labor, have wised up to the toll of toxic masculinity, which keeps men isolated and incapable of leaning on each other. Across the spectrum, women seem to be complaining about the same thing: While they read countless self-help books, listen to podcasts, seek out career advisors, turn to female friends for advice and support, or spend a small fortune on therapists to deal with old wounds and current problems, the men in their lives simply rely on them.” Men Have No Friends and Women Bear the Burden (by Melanie Hamlett for Harper’s Bazaar)

Something Good

If you enjoy Game of Thrones, check out the deep dive recaps every Thursday:  Game of Thrones ‘The Long Night’ Deep Dive Recap (by Lord Castleton for Pajiba)