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Politics Archive

Sunday

19

February 2023

0

COMMENTS

Why Marx Was Right by Terry Eagleton

Written by , Posted in Politics, Reviews

Three Stars

Best for:
People who are already VERY familiar with Marx’s work and are looking for an outside opinion on how to defend different aspects of it.

In a nutshell:
Author Eagleton looks at what he believes are common arguments uses against Marxism and refutes them.

Worth quoting:
“Only through others can we come into our own.”

Why I chose it:
I thought it would be an interesting and easier to read way to learn more about Marx’s thoughts and writing. (Spoiler alert: it wasn’t, at least not for me.)

What it left me feeling:
Skeptical

Review:
I might have been led slightly astray by the pull quotes from reviews on the cover of the copy I purchased. ‘Irresistibly Lively and Thought-Provoking.’ ‘Short, Witty, and Highly Accessible.’ I think this is probably true (except the short part – a 250 page book is not short. It’s not long, but it’s not short), but the caveat should be on there somewhere that those only apply to readers who are already very well acquainted with the writing, theory, and discussion of Marx and Marxism. This is not a book where one LEARNS about Marxism. This is a book where one thinks more about it in relation to other areas of thought.

It is an easy read, in that the author is a decent writer. However, after reading the first half of the book very carefully, I ended up just skimming the latter half because I knew what was coming, and I knew it wasn’t going to be what I was looking for. Each chapter starts with what I think is a flaw in the set-up of the book: instead of pulling real quotes at the start to highlight the arguments opposing Marxism that he’s about to refute, he just has a sort of paragraph where he paraphrases the complaints. I think I get why he made that choice, but it doesn’t work nearly as well as real-world examples. It leaves Eagleton too open to complaints of strawmen.

In the chapters I read closely, a lot of Eagleton’s arguments seemed to boil down to this: Capitalists might make a claim about Marxism, but even if the claim is true, it’s also probably true of Capitalism. Or, because Marx (notoriously) doesn’t really talk about the details of what his version of society would look like, it’s easy to impose outside opinions on it in a negative way, and that’s not fair.

But here’s the thing – these arguments all sounds fine to me, but I don’t know enough about Marx to know if Eagleton’s commentary is accurate. Now, this is going to be an issue with pretty much all non-fiction books, right? We rely on the author to be something of an expert in their field, to have thought through and researched. When I read a Mary Roach book, I don’t just accept everything at face value, but generally I assume that her interpretation of the facts is generally accurate.

But with things like political philosophy, for me it gets much murkier. What values is the author bringing into the discussion? Are they the same as my values? What have they chosen to leave out that would change the entire discussion? Without some of my own first-hand reading of the text, this type of book isn’t really going to work. When I was in grad school for philosophy, yes, I definitely needed to read articles by contemporary writers that discussed Aristotle, but I also needed to read Aristotle myself, so I could come into the discussions with some first-hand understanding. And I think that in the same way, before I (or others) read works like this, we need to read the original arguments first.

Now, is that the author’s fault? Probably not, and that’s why this is a three star and not a two star rating for me.

Recommend to a Friend / Keep / Donate it / Toss it:
Keep and maybe revisit later

Saturday

28

January 2023

0

COMMENTS

You Just Need to Lose Weight by Aubrey Gordon

Written by , Posted in Politics, Reviews

Four Stars

Best for:
Fat people looking for solidarity and words they can use when faced with anti-fat bias. Thinner people who need to learn some truths.

In a nutshell:
Writer and podcaster Gordon shared 20 well-researched essays tackling myths related to fatness and anti-fat bias.

Worth quoting:
“The cultural mandate for fat people to lose weight isn’t about health — it’s about power and privilege.”

“Doctors’ prejudices mean they provide fat patients with lesser care, in turn, leading fat patients to less accurate diagnoses and less effective treatments.”

“The fear of being fat is the fear of joining an underclass that you have so readily dismissed, looked down on, looked past, or found yourself grateful not to be a part of.”

Why I chose it:
I subscribe to her podcast ‘Maintenance Phase’ and read her previous book ‘What We Don’t Talk About When We Talk About Fat’ and enjoyed it.

What it left me feeling:
Motivated

Review:
I am someone who can usually find clothes that fit me in standard high street shops (the only restrictions usually being my height, as I’m quite tall), and I don’t identify as fat. I note this up front because I think my review and perspectives should be taken with a grain of salt, as I’ve generally only witnessed, not directly experienced, the impact of anti-fat bias and hatred.

Gordon came to prominence under the writing handle of ‘Your Fat Friend,’ and is a dedicated fat activist. She is a fat queer woman and an activist who spends some of her time debunking wellness and health myths on her podcast Maintenance Phase (which she co-hosts with Michael Hobbes). I’d describe her project as dedication to speaking truth to a world that doesn’t seem to care about truth when it comes to thinks like body size, weight, or health.

The book is a collection of 20 essays broken down into four sections: Being Fat is a Choice, But What About Your Health, Fat Acceptance Glorifies Obesity, and Fat People Should … Each section has 4-6 essays that are only 5-10 pages long, but includes not just Gordon’s opinions on these myths, but research to back up what she is saying.

Some essays cover areas that I think many people who care about this topic will be familiar with, such as the absurdity of using the BMI for anything related to personal health, or the myriad ways society mistreats and abuses fat people. Other areas may not be as familiar, or might strike a note of discomfort with thin people, such as the myth ‘skinny shaming is just as bad as fat shaming.’ In many of the essays, Gordon speaks directly to thinner people, calling out the ways in which we can be unintentionally complicit, and the ways in which thinner people might think they are being supportive but are really being harmful.

I love how so much of what Gordon shares upends ideas that so much of our society have accepted as true. That whole ‘as long as you’re healthy’ trope – nope. She rightly points out that no one owns us their health. It’s okay to be fat and healthy, and it’s okay to be fat and unhealthy, just as it’s okay to be thin and healthy, and thin and unhealthy. People deserve access to health care and appropriate support for health ailments, but people are not more worthy of love or proper care and treatment in society if they are healthy.

I also found her last chapter to be an interesting choice to include: “Anti-fatness is the last socially acceptable form of discrimination.” That falls into the myth category for her not because anti-fatness is somehow no longer socially acceptable (it is) or that it isn’t discrimination (it is), but because it is not the LAST form of discrimination. She discusses racism, anti-trans hatred, anti-gay hatred, and points out that thinking that anti-fatness is the last discrimination that society deems acceptable shows a wild ignorance about the state of the world today.

Recommend to a Friend / Keep / Donate it / Toss it:
Keep and Recommend

Tuesday

22

February 2022

0

COMMENTS

Abolitionist Socialist Feminism by Zillah Eisenstein

Written by , Posted in Abolition, Politics, Reviews

Three Stars

Best for:
I’m not sure who the target audience of this book is. I’d think it’d be someone like me, but it didn’t work for me.

In a nutshell:
A series of essays. I really can’t describe it as I’m not quite sure what I just read.

Worth quoting:
“Suffering is more than economic and will remain grossly unequal as long as it is dealt with in this partial fashion.”

“There is no one kind of feminism, although it is often represented as though there were, and that one is too often assumed to be white, western-hetero, and liberal or neoliberal.”

Why I chose it:
I saw it in a bookshop and thought it looked interesting.

Review:
This is referred to as a book, but it feels more like a loose collection of essays. And despite the title, discussions of abolition and socialism do not come up as often as I would like.

Eisenstein has some interesting thoughts to share, but each essay (or chapter) is both too long and too short. They feel a bit too long because I’m not sure what the main thesis is for some – they end up being a bit disorganized for my taste, though each feels very similar, so I think it is more the author’s style as opposed to being bad writing, if that makes sense. Basically, I think it will work for lots of people but it just doesn’t work for me. And too short because I think there is more to each topic to be explored, but they don’t quite get there for me.

One part I appreciate, and something I think some popular socialist movements in recent times have not gotten right, is that she makes it very clear that the problems of society won’t be solved if we just address economic inequality. Racism, misogyny, anti-gay, anti-trans, and ableism are all intertwined.

I think this book might work if each of the essays were sort of an intro or jumping off point for going into deeper study and discussion of the main topic. But as a collection it just wasn’t for me.

Recommend to a Friend / Keep / Donate it / Toss it:
Donate it

Thursday

7

January 2021

0

COMMENTS

Attempted Coup

Written by , Posted in Politics

So, that happened, eh?

I turned on the TV yesterday afternoon to see a bunch of pathetic men and women (MAGAs) storming the US Capitol Building, because they had a sad that they lost an election. Inside, a bunch of elected pathetic men and women (e.g. Republicans) were giving speeches about non-existent election fraud.

The MAGAs decided they were going to come inside, and the Republicans suddenly started clutching their pearls, acting shocked – SHOCKED – that exactly what they’d been encouraging the MAGAs to do actually happened.

And the MAGAs didn’t have to do much to get inside, because the Capitol Police appeared to just let them in.

So much about what happened yesterday is infuriating. The current president – who should definitely be impeached and immediately removed from office – encouraged the MAGAs in their march, and then released a video declaring his love for them. Meanwhile, the Republicans read their lies into the Congressional record during the certification process.

The entitlement of the MAGAs isn’t surprising, because we’ve seen how the police often act when faced with white people vs Black people and those supporting them. You’ve probably seen the photo of the Black woman with a flower being charged by police in full riot gear. Meanwhile, at the US Capitol last night, even though they’ve known for weeks that this riot was heading their way, they seemed to just let them in. And once the MAGAs were inside, they appeared to be allowed to run around like kids in a toy store. Destroying offices. Possibly accessing sensitive information. Disrespecting everything about our electoral system.

And then, once the MAGAs decided they were done, the Capitol Police just escorted them out. Fifty two arrests. The rest just got to go back to the Holiday Inn and exchange ‘war stories’ about the time they stormed the Capitol.

(But is it really storming when the people meant to keep you out welcome you, taking selfies?)

We should all be livid. We should be livid that the MAGAs hold these views, and that the Republicans encourage them. We should be livid at Mitch McConnell and Mike Pence. I see people praising them for “doing the right thing.” That is not okay. The bar is so low it’s being melted by the heat of the Earth’s core. If Mike Pence really had a problem with Trump, he could have resigned after the election. Shoot, he should never have signed on. Him remaining in his role is an acceptance of every single one of Trump’s actions, from putting children in cages to inciting an insurrection.

And McConnell? He’s always been horrible. Remember how he treated President Obama? McConnell is an asshole who is 100% concerned with power. That is it. He’s Trump, but smart. He doesn’t get to distance himself now. Just because he did the right thing when he’d tried all other options first doesn’t make him worthy of praise. For the next six years, he needs to be ignored, and when he isn’t being ignored, he needs to be shamed for his actions.

I disagree with President-Elect Biden when he says ‘This isn’t who we are.’ It is who at least 75 million are, and probably more. It’s a huge problem, and pretending it is a small group of people, or that this is anything new, isn’t helping.

Sunday

13

September 2020

0

COMMENTS

Weapons of Math Destruction by Cathy O’Neil

Written by , Posted in Politics, Reviews

4 Stars

Best for:
Anyone concerned about how inequity is perpetuated by seemingly ‘neutral’ or ‘scientific’ processes.

In a nutshell:
Data scientist O’Neil explores what she calls WMDs, or Weapons of Math Destruction – large algorithms that are largely opaque and control aspects of our lives, from college rankings and admissions to credit scores to voting. She argues that these systems are flawed and have biases built in that harm all of us.

Worth quoting:
“The human victims of WMDs, we’ll see time and again, are held to a far higher standard of evidence than the algorithms themselves.”

“A model’s blind spots reflect the judgments and priorities of its creators.”

Why I chose it:
Seemed appropriate given the recent A-level shitstorm we’ve lived through in the UK.

Review:
Every August in England, 17- and 18-year-olds find out their A-level scores. Unlike in the US, where basically unless you royally screw up in the final term of your senior year you are going to the University you were accepted to in March, in the UK students receive conditional offers. Let’s say you want to go study Chemistry. Well, at a top school, you might receive a condition offer of AAA – meaning you need As on three of your A-levels (the best mark is an A*), and one of those will need to be Chemistry. Okay, so come mid-August, you go to your school and learn that you received … AAA! Hurrah! You confirm your place at university, and start the following month.

This year, because of the pandemic, A-level exams were scrapped. Instead, the government put together an algorithm that was meant to sort out what grades students would have gotten had they sat their exams. It was based on a few things, like practice exams, coursework, etc. It also, apparently, took past performance of the school a student attended into account.

Do you see where this is going?

On results day, tens of thousands of students received A-level results DRAMATICALLY lower than what they had been predicted to get. And the general theme was that those lower scores were received by students in areas with overall poorer performing schools. Students were essentially punished by the algorithm for doing too well, and had their places in university pulled out from under them, upending their entire futures. In the end, the algorithm was scrapped, students were put through horrible stresses, and universities now have more students than they would have, in the middle of a pandemic.

I share this story because I can see it making its way into this book during the next revision. O’Neil is a great writer, making a book that could have been dry and confusing extremely easy to read and engaging. It’s also infuriating,

She looks at things like credit scores being used to rule people out of jobs, at recidivism models used in sentencing in the criminal punishment system, and even the college rankings in US News and World Report. She also touches on how Facebook and Google create profiles using all the data they have, adjusting their targeting accordingly.

She refers to algorithms as ‘opinions formalized in code,’ and that’s especially frightening considering how many people view such algorithms as value-neutral and just ‘showing data.’ The negative impacts – generally borne by people who are poor, or aren’t white – are seen not as self-perpetuated by the models themselves, but as moral failings of the individuals who are judged by these flawed systems. Its insidious.

It seems inescapable, but O’Neil does offer some suggestions at the end, and they don’t seem entirely out of the realm of possibility (GDPR, which is law in the EU, is one fix, and it passed). But man, it’s yet another thing that our society needs to fix.

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

Saturday

22

August 2020

0

COMMENTS

The Black Jacobins by C.L.R. James

Written by , Posted in Politics, Reviews

Four Stars

Best for:
Those interested in the history of enslaved people who successfully fought back.

In a nutshell:
Enslaved people revolt against the British, Spanish, and French over twelve years, eventually creating Haiti.

Worth quoting:
“The cruelties of property and privilege are always more ferocious than the revenges of poverty and oppression.”

Why I chose it:
I received this as a birthday gift this year.

Review:
You will be shocked to learn that I, a white woman raised and educated in the US, knew nothing about how Haiti came to be. I KNOW. It’s almost as though the history I was taught was incomplete in some very specific ways.

This fascinating book tells the story of how those who were enslaved in what is now Haiti revolted across over a dozen years to eventually claim victory by ensuring an end to slavery, expelling the French colonial government, and declaring independence.

The story told by this book begins 229 years ago this week (21 August 1791), and follows the complexities of race, class, slavery, and revolution. The main focus is on Toussaint Louverture, who led most of the revolution, though eventually he was taken to France and died in jail. He was a slave until 1776, then fought in multiple battles until undertaking, with others, a fight inspire by the French revolution.

I have some trouble following detailed military histories, especially when I don’t have the basics already in mind. I only recognized one name in this book before I read it – Napoleon, and he only shows up in the last 50 pages or so. I think to truly grasp everything in here, I would need to read it at least two more times, maybe more. But that speaks not to the quality of the writing, but to my lack of foundational knowledge of the subject.

I’d recommend this to anyone who is interested in history and the fight for freedom.

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

Thursday

2

January 2020

0

COMMENTS

Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism by Vladimir Lenin

Written by , Posted in Politics, Reviews

Three Stars

Best for:
People interested in a sense of what the Marxist philosophers were saying in the 1900s. Admittedly a niche market at this point (for now, anyway).

In a nutshell:
The title basically nails it – Lenin argues that Imperialism is Capitalism at its end.

Worth quoting:
“..for both uneven development and a semi-starvation level of existence of the masses are fundamental and inevitable conditions and constitute premises of this mode of production.”

Why I chose it:
It was assigned as part of the Marxist book club I’m in.

Review:
My how my life has changed. Never thought I’d be reading and reviewing Lenin, but here we are.

This fairly short book serves as a surprisingly relevant discussion of imperialism, and specifically how capitalism fuels the colonialist actions of nations. Lenin lays out the development of monopolies (along the way refuting the idea of truly free markets, as they eventually evolve into monopolies), the major role that banks play in consolidating wealth and capital, and how the need to further feed these monopolies needs nations and corporations to seek out further raw materials and financing.

In the book, the primary areas discussed are oil and coal, but substitute pretty much anything modern and its clear that monopolies have not gone anywhere, and imperialism is alive and well, though perhaps not in the exact same way. Amazon.com doesn’t invade countries and claim their land, but they do take over cities, making those cities dependent on them to survive (*cough* Seattle *cough*). Something like 40% of the box office in 2019 were came from Disney studios. Companies — and countries — continue to seek new customers and new materials for their products, further consolidating until all those ‘choices’ we think we have are just different ways of our money going to the same few individuals.

Some people may not find this disturbing. As long as they get their next season of Stranger Things, or their favorite shampoo arriving on their doorstep 24 hours after they order it, they don’t much care. And frankly, much of the time, when I’m not thinking about it, I don’t care either. But then I look at how Amazon treats their warehouse employees. In some places that might be the ‘best’ job available, but it’s still crap, and Amazon can get away with it because they’re the only game in town. Monopolies like this are harmful to nearly everyone in some way (except the people diving into their vault of cash, Scrooge McDuck-style).

There are a couple of areas that I picked up on that don’t seem to have held up (or at least, haven’t necessarily come to pass on the time line of 100+ years). At one point Lenin talks about how the Stock Markets have become less important and I get the impression that he thinks they will eventually fade away. However, in the US we can see that while Stock Markets are playing around with essentially fake value, how those markets move drives so much of the commentary about how ‘healthy’ the economy is. A company can lose millions of dollars in ‘value’ in the stock market in one day because of a news story, and that’s what’s reported. The overall value of the market is still shared at the end of newscasts. People care about it, even if it shouldn’t matter.

The other area (which may be the result of me not fully understanding the book) that I found didn’t quite hold up is the assumption that this imperialism is the last stage of capitalism, and that necessarily capitalism is decaying. To me this implies that soon after this writing (in the early 1900s), Lenin believed that capitalism would cease to be. Obviously that hasn’t held, but perhaps his other writings clarify this point or provide detail on what would need to happen to speed up this decay.

Keep it / Pass to a Friend / Donate it / Toss it:
Toss it (I read a printout of a PDF, and as its in the public domain, anyone can read it online.)

Sunday

3

November 2019

0

COMMENTS

The Mass Strike by Rosa Luxemburg

Written by , Posted in Politics, Reviews

Three Stars

Best for:
People interested in the history and politics behind mass strike movements.

In a nutshell:
Philosopher and Marxist Luxemburg provides a history of the mass strike in Russia, and outlines how it could work in Germany (I think?).

Worth quoting:
“The plan of undertaking mass strikes as a serious political class action with organised workers only is absolutely hopeless.”

Why I chose it:
It was this month’s pick for a book club I’m in. I know some of the politicians many of my peers (and at times myself) support identify as socialists; I realized I don’t know much about the history of socialism, communism, or anti-capitalism. This book club I’m in is exploring more of that history.

Review:
Since moving to the UK I’ve become much more aware of worker rights in general and unions in particular. My partner is the head of a union branch and is working to actively organize people in his industry. I’ve been a member of a union long ago but am not currently in one. I’ve also supported strikes – I participated in the Women’s Strike in March of 2017, though that one had some issues.

This small book provides a history of strikes up through about 1910, then talks about how it might work in Germany. I think. I have to admit that I have a hard time following some of this writing. There are terms that clearly mean something specific when discussion worker actions and socialism but I don’t quite understand them. I’m looking forward to the book club discussion taking place later this week so I can get a better sense. However, I think the main point is that strikes can work but they cannot be limited to just organized labor. Maybe?

Ugh, there’s so much I don’t know.

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

Saturday

14

July 2018

0

COMMENTS

“Bring the Noise”

Written by , Posted in Adventures, Politics

Since moving to London in January I’ve felt a bit disconnected from the US political nightmare that is President* Trump. I do listen to podcasts of the three MSNBC evening shows (Chris Hayes, Rachel Maddow, Lawrence O’Donnell) daily to at least stay informed, but especially since I’ve left Facebook and Twitter, it hasn’t been as in my face as it was during the first year of his presidency*. Plus, I’m living in a country that has its own absurd nightmare unfolding (*cough* BREXIT *cough*), so sometimes its too much to process all of it and I end up watching reruns of Game of Thrones just to experience some lighter fare.

It’s also been a bit challenging to get acclimated to our new community. I want to support folks fighting against oppression, but I also just got here six months ago and so am not entirely sure of all the different issues, nor do I know who the trustworthy players are. I’m working at learning, but it’s definitely taking time.

That said, a few months ago (while still a member of Facebook), I started following the Women’s March London. When it was announced that President* Trump would be visiting the UK sometime in July, they scheduled a “Bring the Noise” protest. Once the date was finalized, I responded to a call for volunteers and ultimately agreed to serve as a march steward.

At a little after 10 on 13 July, we gathered near the BBC headquarters near Oxford Circus and received instructions, along with some gorgeous high-visibility vests and wristbands identifying us as part of this march. That ultimately proved handy as many, many individuals had high-visibility vests and shirts on that day. Myself and a handful of other women volunteered to serve at the back of the march, basically ensuring the group stayed together and allowing for the street sweeper (as well as an ambulance and a police vehicle) to follow behind.

In anticipation of crowds not being sure where to go, we were dispatched to tube station exits nearby. We did a lot of shouting at folks with placards to direct them to our meeting point. However, there was a second march scheduled for around 2 PM the same day (and following a similar route), so we did get some confused folks.

In fact, the sole negative interaction I had came from someone who was looking for the steward meeting point for that parade. He asked where the stewards were meeting, and I asked “for which march?” I think that must have deeply offended him, as his next statement was “the main one.” I sort of tilted my head at him because I was genuinely confused. Again, I’m no longer really on any social media, so while I knew there was another march, I had no real idea who was involved (other than the Socialist party, as they had signs already out at 9 AM), and I certainly didn’t know if that one was meant to be the larger, or if the Women’s March was. “Which is the main one?” He got quite huffy and said “No disrespect, but you know what I mean.” Unfortunately for both of us, I really didn’t, so I said so, to which he responded “I’m just trying to do a good thing. God!” And then stormed off.

People can be so odd.

The start of the march itself was lovely. There were opera singers who sang a couple of songs and then led the crowd in “We Are Family” before the march stepped off. The back of the march finally crossed the start line about 20 minutes later, and ultimately spent about 90 minutes marching through central London to Parliament Square. It was loud. It was fun (at times). It was depressing to think about how this was so necessary. There were some fantastic signs, some great costumes and make-up, and a lot of people with children. It was inspiring, and also at times frustrating.

Because of the other march, some folks saw us marching and thought they’d missed it, so they jumped in with us. Which, the more the merrier! But we always made sure to let them know what this march was, and where the other was starting just in case it wasn’t where they wanted to be.

It was also a warm (though not oppressively hot) day, and some folks were a bit slow, so we’d have to encourage them to speed it up a little because there were rather large cars following quite close behind us and they were encouraging us to keep the gaps as small as possible. There were community liaison officers from the police department there as well, and they were nice and helpful, but I’ve got some feelings about policing in general, so I wasn’t entirely sure how to interact with the men. It is a bit of a different dynamic here as they don’t carry guns so there isn’t the immediate fear that a wrong word will lead to a POC getting shot, but still.

Once we passed Trafalgar Square it got a bit harder to contain folks as the streets there are wide and the road was closed the entire way. By the time we reached Parliament Square (and the Trump Baby Balloon – which you can sort of see in this blurred shot), I was completely drained.

I didn’t stay for the rally, but walked across the bridge to catch a bus home and finally eat something other than grapes (my planning was poor – though I did have plenty of water!).

I feel that what I did was necessary and helped make the march experience a better one for people, but I’m not sure it’s something I’d have the energy to do on a regular basis. At the same time, I know these protests are important, and while there are folks taking the lead to organize them, they also need volunteers to do some of the grunt. I think a good ratio might be 1:3 or 1:4 — for every three or four similar events I go to, I need to volunteer to help with one. If we all did that, we certainly would have plenty of folks helping out.

In the end, these protests were meant to show President* Trump that he is not welcome in the UK, and that people here do not support him. I doubt he got that message. He’s not very intelligent, and he’s willfully ignorant on many topics. I can’t imagine his aids allowing him to see coverage of the protests, and I doubt Fox News framed them as anything other than gatherings of wounded snowflake liberals.

That’s not okay, but it’s reality these days, so instead I think we should focus on the fact that we all took some time on a Friday to show each other and the rest of the world that we do not support President* Trump — not his policies, not his racism, not his misogyny.

And that’s something.

Some coverage of the event:

Women lead day of angry London protests against Donald Trump

Thousands of women storm London in #BringTheNoise march against Donald Trump

*Always an asterisk, because he didn’t actually win the popular vote, and at least some of the votes he did earn were likely influence by a foreign government

 

 

Sunday

2

July 2017

0

COMMENTS

What I’m Reading – July 2, 2017

Written by , Posted in Feminism, Politics, What I'm Reading

Horrific Executive, Legislative, and Judiciary Action

“Nevertheless, the Texas Supreme Court held on Friday that the benefits of marriage may not need to be granted to same-sex couples on the same terms and conditions as opposite-sex couples. And the Texas court reached this frivolous conclusion in an unanimous opinion.” The Texas Supreme Court just gave a big, fat middle finger to same-sex couples (by Ian Millhiser for Think Progress)

“The all-girl team representing Afghanistan hails from Herat, a city of half a million people in the western part of the country. To interview for their visas, the girls risked a 500 mile trek cross-country to the American embassy in Kabul – the site of several recent suicide attacks and one deadly truck bomb in early June that killed at least 90 people. Despite the recent violence, the teenagers braved the trip to the country’s capital not once, but twice, hoping a second round of interviews might help secure their 7-day visas after the team was rejected on its first try. But no luck.” Denied: Afghanistan’s All-Girl Robotics Team Can’t Get Visas To The US (by Hilary Brueck for Forbes)

Speech

“The law does not share that interpretation. “The First Amendment only regulates the government,” explained Rebecca Tushnet, a professor of First Amendment law at Harvard. Does she think there is any merit in telling a person that her critique of your art is infringing on your free speech? “No.” It’s been a surprisingly effective rhetorical strategy nonetheless. Americans are fiercely proud of our culture of (nearly) unfettered expression, though often not so clear on the actual parameters of the First Amendment. To defend speech is to plant a flag on the right side of history; to defend unpopular speech is to be a real rogue, a sophisticate, the kind of guy who gets it. “Freedom of speech is such a buzzword that people can rally around,” Ms. Sarkeesian said, “and that works really well in their favor. They’re weaponizing free speech to maintain their cultural dominance.”” Save Free Speech From Trolls (by Lindy West for The New York Times)

Misogyny

“The event, called Gaming Ladies, was intended to create a safe space for female game developers, a demographic that’s woefully underrepresented in the gaming world. In response, a small, vitriolic group plotted on the forum ForoCoches (an invite-only car forum that’s basically a Spanish-language 4chan) to pretend to be transgender women in order to gain access to the conference and disrupt it.” King’s Gaming Ladies event canceled following targeted online harassment campaign (by Tim Mulkerin for Mic)

“Their presence was plainly not, as one of them later said in an “apology” video he posted to Twitter, to “give us the chance we never gave them” and to “hear us out,” but was instead to intimidate me and put me on edge. They will no doubt plead innocent and act shocked at what they characterize as the outrageousness of such allegations. This, too, is part of their strategy: gaslighting, acting in a way intended to encourage me and their other targets to doubt ourselves and to wonder if all of this isn’t just in our heads. But to anyone who examines their patterns of behavior with clear eyes, the intentions of their actions are undeniably apparent.” On VidCon, Harassment & Garbage Humans (by Anita Sarkeesian for Feminist Frequency)

Racism

“A longtime symphony fan, Ahmad knows the orchestra doesn’t permit flash photography during its performances, so she turned her flash off to snap a shot before the show started. “I was shocked,” she said. “I just very calmly said to him, ‘You cannot hit me. That’s assault. If you hit me again, I will charge you.’ At that point he called me a child and an expletive, and it was just very stunning. I won’t repeat the word.”” Professor says she was assaulted twice at the Toronto symphony and nobody stood up for her (by the CBC)

Criminal Punishment System

“Violence against People of Color (POC), gender and sexual violence against Womxn of Color (WOC) and Queer Trans People of Color (QTPOC), is endemic and systemic. It is colonial, centuries-old, poured into the very foundation of this nation. It keeps the status quo intact; upholding cis male patriarchy and white supremacy by brutalizing the marginalized into submission. Violence is the norm and it has been happening for a long time. If you’re surprised by recent tragic events–then you’re not paying attention but, more importantly, you have the privilege to not pay attention. Ask yourself, why did I not see? What in the world around allows me to not see? What in myself allows me to not see?” 9 Ways Non-Black Folks Can Show Up For Charleena Lyles (by Sharon H. Change for South Sound Emerald)

Fatphobia

“When we returned for our sophomore year, she told me the pressure had become too much. She feared for her partners’ shame, feared for more bullying from her tough love parents, feared for the jeering her thinner friends had to endure when they spent time with her. So she got weight loss surgery. I told her I was happy for her, and I was. She’d made a decision about how to engage with her own body. We’d often talked about how often our bodies were taken from us — from unsolicited diet advice to fatcalling, unwelcome comments about our orders at restaurants to bullying in the name of “concern.” Thinness was the only way she could truly end all of that.” On Weight Loss Surgery And The Unbearable Thinness Of Being (by Your Fat Friend for The Establishment)

Sexism

“However, Gail Simone, whose Wonder Woman comics from 2008 to 2010 inspired several facets of the film, noted on Twitter that her name did not appear among other thanked creators in the credits. That list was, in fact, entirely male, leaving out other influential creators, such as series editor Karen Berger. And while “The Marston Family” is listed, William Moulton Marston’s partners Elizabeth Marston and Olive Byrne—two women who played integral roles in the character’s inception—are not named, nor is Marston’s assistant and longtime Wonder Woman ghostwriter Joye Hummel Murchison. This isn’t to say men weren’t snubbed too (H.G. Peter, another of Marston’s co-creators, remains uncredited), but it’s hard not raise an eyebrow when two men who created a sword are given credit instead of any woman who worked on the world’s most famous female superhero.” ‘Wonder Woman’s’ Credits Reveal the Sexist Mistreatment of Women in Comics (by Sam Riedel for Bitch)

Something Awesome to End The Week