tim: Solid black square (black)
Again, no nice formatting due to the high number of links I was sifting through.








[Syllabus for white people to educate themselves -- I haven't read all these links yet, but I plan to] https://docs.google.com/document/d/1By9bUjJ78snEeZuLXNGBdlVMJgEQWMEjR-Gfx8ER7Iw/mobilebasic#heading=h.bi12zdslqy3z





[also re: safety pins] https://www.facebook.com/amadi.lovelace/posts/416858352035561




And one non-election-related link, because we need it:

tim: Solid black square (black)
Sorry, poorly formatted list because I'm a hurry to get all these included. May go back and edit later.

Actions I have taken to prepare for the Trump administration, by Valerie Aurora (2016-11-13). I like the emphasis here on mutual aid, and I agree with the level of seriousness.

These Babson College frat bros messed with the wrong Wellesley women of color – because we fought back, by Jalena Keane-Lee for the Tempest (2016-11-11). This happened at my alma mater.

a time to heal, by Kris Straub / chainsawsuit (2016-11-10). A comic.

"funny how folks grousing on working harder to understand plight of folks with rural background they never mean my queer ass from Briggs, Tex" -- [twitter.com profile] destroyed4com4t on Twitter

Documented Instances of Harassment, and a Request to Trump Supporters, by Jim C. Hines (2016-11-12).

Doing Liberation Theology In A Reactionary Time, by Rev. Dr. Susan Brooks Thisthlethwaite for the Huffington Post (2016-11-12). 'Christofascism, according to Sölle, is a Christianity that individualizes and sentimentalizes Jesus, severs his connection to the Hebrew prophets, and makes a mockery of his ministry and mission to the poor and the marginalized. Christofascists have a “God without justice, a Jesus without a cross, an Easter without a cross — what remains is a metaphysical Easter Bunny in front of the beautiful blue light of the television screen, a betrayal of the disappointed, a miracle weapon in service of the mighty."'

How Do You Talk To Your Kids?, by Saladin Ahmed (2016-11-12). A poem.

"If you're a Trump voter who is tired of being called a bigot, if you say you voted for him based on gun rights or economic issues, or because you think Hillary really was that awful, and in spite of his rhetoric, rather than because of it, I believe you. If you're in my life, I clearly don't think you're a vile hateful person. But if you're now watching protests across the country and you don't understand why, or think they are just being sore losers, let me break something down for you. These people aren't just angry or sad that someone they didn't support won the election, they're scared...", by Michael Rex (quoted by Sydne Sullivan) (2016-11-11).

I've heard enough of the white male rage narrative, by Hadley Freeman for the Guardian (2016-11-10). "Trump’s supporters, like Brexit supporters before them, will say that these are merely the bleatings of the sore losers – the Remoaners, the Grimtons, or whatever portmanteau is conceived next. This objection always misses the obvious point that these people aren’t mourning for themselves. Whereas those who voted for Trump and Brexit did so to turn time back for their personal benefit, those who voted for remain or Hillary Clinton did so because they know time only moves forward, and this benefits society. To try to force it back hurts everyone."

A graphic on what "it's going to be ok" really means, by Geri Weitzman (2016-11-11).

I’m a disabled American. Trump’s policies will be a disaster for people like me., by Ari Ne’eman for Vox (2016-11-09).


















tim: Solid black square (black)
I can't sleep, so I'm writing down the things I wrote down on post-its over the past few days when I wasn't sure where to put them:

Racism is neither absurd nor irrational. It's self-interested. You can't teach something their salary depends on them not knowing.

What "diversity of opinion" means is that saying what's happening right now is normal and fine.

All y'all told me that I had to show more respect to white cis het men, more deference to white cis het men, because "diversity of opinion" etc. etc. But you don't get my labor today. I'm grieving; if you're not going to grieve with me, stay out of the way. If you've lost nothing, then you can't understand the loss that I'm grieving. If you can't accept without understanding, then stay out of the way.

What America stands for is racism, xenophobia, transmisogyny and other forms of misogyny, and rape culture, and it showed us that this Election Day. Don't forget that. When someone shows you who they are, believe them.

Right now, my friends and I are trying to decide between fight, flight, or freeze, and not everybody has the first two options. If you have other options, consider yourself lucky.

the rest of this is addressed to my friends and allies, known and unknown

You don't need to be better. This didn't happen because you weren't good enough.

You don't need to forgive, understand, listen to or empathize with Trump supporters. You don't need to comfort them about what they did, or temper your expressions of rage and grief to make them feel less guilty, because you do not need to set yourself on fire to keep somebody else warm.

You might feel like you didn't do enough to stop this. Forgive yourself, then start doing whatever it is you wish you had done.

"All the petty demons trying to break me in two
I was born stronger than any of you
It's alright
It's alright
It's alright"
-- the Mountain Goats, Hail St. Sebastian
tim: Tim with short hair, smiling, wearing a black jacket over a white T-shirt (Default)
This article about applying harm reduction to your secure use of the Internet has been going around. I can't share it in good conscience without adding a few things to it. I work for Google, but the following is my personal opinion.

If you're concerned about your data being collected (and I understand that you may be concerned about Google retaining your data not because you think Google will use it inappropriately, but because you fear that the federal government will require them to surrender it), use Chrome without being logged in. People disagree on how safe Tor really is, but my odds are on "not." If you don't have the level of technical expertise necessary to read the source code for yourself, you probably shouldn't be risking your life on it. It doesn't guarantee full anonymity. The reasons why are fairly complicated, which is a good sign you might want to avoid being lulled into a false sense of security.

For email, I wouldn't really recommend riseup. The author alludes to this, but: any widely used anarchist/radical site has been compromised already. Having a low volume of data makes you an easier target.

A friend I trust has confirmed that Signal is trustworthy. I agree with this article that regular SMS is not secure.

Passwords: use a password manager, turn on 2-factor wherever you can. Pretty much what they say.

Google: Don't log in when searching if you're worried (use multiple browser windows). As an insider, I can say Google takes user trust and privacy extremely seriously. I can't share everything that backs up that belief, but I will vouch for them.

It was pointed out to me that: "Turning off geolocation on a cell phone doesn't do much; the government can and will subpoena cell phone tower records which provide enough geolocation information."

If you would like to see how Google works with government requests for data, watch this official video on how Google responds to search warrants.

I don't trust Duck Duck Go any further than I can throw them, honestly. I would say the same thing about any other small service. They may be trying to do the right thing, but there are lots and lots of ways to retain more data than you intend to, and it takes a huge amount of human resources to not do that.

tl;dr: Only big companies have the resources to actually protect your privacy. Whether they want to do that is a different story. I'm confident that Google does want to do that, because without user trust, Google has no business.

Pretty much nothing is resistant to the government coercing you or your friend with the email server or Google into giving up data, because coercion is how the government works.

Use non-discoverable media when possible. Talk in person.

Whatever you're doing, think about what security people call your "threat model": what are you trying to defend against? What concrete risks do you face if your data gets into the wrong hands? What are the benefits of using a communication mechanism that's subject to surveillance? An example of threat modeling is your bicycle lock: if you have a nice bike and you ride in a major city, you might want to carry a heavy-duty Kryptonite U-lock at all times, plus extra locks for the wheels. That's because you can infer, based on information that you have, that your bike is attractive to thieves, there are many thieves, and they will try hard to steal your bike. If you have a rusty bike and live in a small town, you might be OK with a cable lock because the benefit of not having several pounds of metal to carry around outweighs the risk of theft, and a good U-lock costs more than your bike did. You can think about analogous trade-offs as they apply to your use of networked communication technologies.

This is one post where it's perfectly fine to well-actually me if you have security or systems expertise.
tim: text: "I'm not offended, I'm defiant" (defiant)
[CW: homophobic slurs]

A friend forwarded this statement From Julie Norem, a professor at Wellesley College (my undergraduate alma mater):

There is now a lot of discussion of those in a "liberal bubble" having ignored the alienation and desperation of many Trump voters, and some claim that the widespread fear and analogies to Kristallnacht are overblown. I would have more sympathy for the first point and would be more reassured by the second if some white guys in a truck hadn't driven around campus yesterday, yelling about Trump's win and Hillary's defeat, screaming about "Wellesley dykes," and spitting at African-American students.

She adds that the two men were students at Babson College, a business school near Wellesley. These men, who will soon graduate with prestigious business degrees, are not being left out of the new economic order.
Edited to add: The names of the two men are Parker Rand-Ricciardi and Edward Tomasso.

Where I work, we have a tradition of posting memes on our intranet. I posted this today:
Cut for an image that includes a quoted slur )

in response to something an executive was telling us about the right way to respond to those who supported a fascist president-elect.

I learned as a child not to empathize with people who had no empathy for me. I learned that it was dangerous to do that. Reserving my empathy for those who were able to reciprocate was one way in which I survived; in which I kept myself as an individual rather than being absorbed into the organism of my mother's narcissism. (I wrote about that yesterday.)

Now as an adult, I'm being told to "reach across the aisle", to listen, to understand.

I'm being told to get out of my "filter bubble" and my "echo chamber", which is to say, to spend less time in the few spaces where I'm relatively confident I won't be called a faggot by people who think I'm cis or a dyke by people who think I'm trans.

I am being told to empathize with people who have no empathy with me. That thing I learned I had to not do in order to stay alive? I'm being told I'm a bad person if I don't do that.

On top of what blood I've already spilled, y'all want my emotional labor, too. Because empathy is emotional labor -- when entered into voluntarily, that's no bad thing. But the kind of empathy being demanded here is coerced emotional labor.

And I'm wondering if people who voted for Donald really want empathy from me, even if they say they do.

To empathize with somebody, you have to be in relationship with them, even for a moment. You have to recognize their humanity and they have to recognize yours. A relationship where that recognition only goes one way is a relationship between a child and their abusive parent, or the moral equivalent thereof.

(I do think it's possible to genuinely empathize with people who have no empathy for you. Some people do that. There seems to be a historical precedent of nailing them to a cross.)

So if you, Trump voter, want my empathy, you're going to need to see what my grief looks like, because you're going to have to see me if I'm going to have to see you.

What is it like to watch people grieve en masse because of something you did? I don't know. If I'm to try to empathize with you, I would have to know how you would answer that question.

I don't think you would answer. I think you would talk about how uncomfortable my grief makes you, and how it's cruel for me to make you suffer in that way. Maybe that is the answer.

We've been told "You need to have conversations with people different from you." If I'm going to have those conversation, I need an answer to this question. What is it like to watch people grieve en masse because of something you did?

Do you really want to see what my grief looks like? If you tell me that I'm not really grieving, it means you don't. If you tell me that it's not fair for me to hold you accountable for voting for a xenophobic rapist when you aren't personally a xenophobic rapist, then that means you don't. If you say that you personally did not drive through the Wellesley College campus and spit on Black students, refusing to acknowledge the part you played in making those Babson College students think it was okay to do that, then that means you prioritize not seeing my grief. If you deny that my feelings exist and derail the discussion to be about your feelings instead, then it means you don't want to see what my grief looks like.

You say you want me to reach out to you. You say it, and yet, you hide from me -- if you talk to me at all, you hide from me under narcissistic defenses like "You don't really feel the way you say you do", "It hurts me when you say you feel the way you do", or "Sure, I lay down with dogs, but I have no idea where these fleas came from."

You hide from me because you're scared to look at the damage you've done to me, to us.

When I posted that meme, the only response I got from someone on the "other side" I was supposed to reach out to said:

"And yet, you call people racist and sexist."

Paraphrasing: "you deserve to be called a faggot, because that is the punishment justly meted out to people who name racist and sexist behavior, people who question white and male cognitive authority."

Kiese Laymon wrote, about being called a racial slur:
I think and feel a lot but mostly I feel that I can't do anything to make the boys feel like they've made us feel right there... ("How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America: A Remembrance")

You can't empathize with me because there is nothing I could call you -- not "racist", not "sexist" -- that would ever make you feel like I feel when you tacitly excuse anti-queer hate speech.

You can't empathize with me, and you don't want me to empathize with you. You don't want to see what my grief looks like.
tim: Solid black square (black)
America I've given you all and now I'm nothing.
America two dollars and twenty-seven cents January 17, 1956.
I can't stand my own mind.
America when will we end the human war?
Go fuck yourself with your atom bomb
I don't feel good don't bother me.
I won't write my poem till I'm in my right mind.
America when will you be angelic?
When will you take off your clothes?
When will you look at yourself through the grave?
When will you be worthy of your million Trotskyites?
America why are your libraries full of tears?
America when will you send your eggs to India?
I'm sick of your insane demands.
When can I go into the supermarket and buy what I need with my good looks?
America after all it is you and I who are perfect not the next world.
Your machinery is too much for me.
You made me want to be a saint.
There must be some other way to settle this argument.
Burroughs is in Tangiers I don't think he'll come back it's sinister.
Are you being sinister or is this some form of practical joke?
I'm trying to come to the point.
I refuse to give up my obsession.
America stop pushing I know what I'm doing.
America the plum blossoms are falling.
I haven't read the newspapers for months, everyday somebody goes on trial for
America I feel sentimental about the Wobblies.
America I used to be a communist when I was a kid and I'm not sorry.
I smoke marijuana every chance I get.
I sit in my house for days on end and stare at the roses in the closet.
When I go to Chinatown I get drunk and never get laid.
My mind is made up there's going to be trouble.
You should have seen me reading Marx.
My psychoanalyst thinks I'm perfectly right.
I won't say the Lord's Prayer.
I have mystical visions and cosmic vibrations.
America I still haven't told you what you did to Uncle Max after he came over
from Russia.

I'm addressing you.
Are you going to let our emotional life be run by Time Magazine?
I'm obsessed by Time Magazine.
I read it every week.
Its cover stares at me every time I slink past the corner candystore.
I read it in the basement of the Berkeley Public Library.
It's always telling me about responsibility. Businessmen are serious. Movie
producers are serious. Everybody's serious but me.
It occurs to me that I am America.
I am talking to myself again.


America this is quite serious.
America this is the impression I get from looking in the television set.
America is this correct?
I'd better get right down to the job.
It's true I don't want to join the Army or turn lathes in precision parts
factories, I'm nearsighted and psychopathic anyway.
America I'm putting my queer shoulder to the wheel.

-- Allen Ginsberg


Nov. 10th, 2016 02:40 am
tim: Solid black square (black)
I grew up under authoritarian parenting. I was not allowed to have a self, only to be a projection of what my (single, though that's only relevant grammatically) parent wanted me to be, wanted me to be to fill the holes in her own self-conception. What I thought and felt didn't matter; what I liked didn't matter. I left home at 16; more than half of my life has passed since then. I am just beginning to learn how to live as a survivor rather than as someone who denies they have anything to say they survived.

We elected a fascist president. Fascism is authoritarian parenting applied to an entire nation. Fascism says that if you have power, you get to do what you want, that the voices of the people you're doing things to don't matter. That was how I grew up. It's how all children grow up to some extent, but extremely so for me (that's been confirmed by an independent expert.)

And we have people saying it's not that bad. That the president-elect, whose to-do list before inauguration includes appearing in civil court to be sued for raping a 13-year-old girl, couldn't possibly be as bad as all the things he said he wanted to do. That the president isn't really all that powerful. That it's all going to be okay. That he couldn't possibly have meant any of the things he said while campaigning. That we're all going to be safe. Nobody has any factual basis to be saying any of this. If Donald can't become president for some reason (for example, if the civil suit against him concludes that he really did rape a 13-year-old girl), then Mike Pence will, the guy who wanted to legally require trans kids and teenagers to undergo electroshock therapy to try to make them cis, and who wants anyone who has a miscarriage to be legally coerced to hold a funeral for the embryo.

But anyway, most of the people who are saying this are either in denial or have little to lose as a result of a fascist regime taking over their country.

But not only am I in danger -- more so, my friends, my chosen family who are essential to me being alive as a queer person with no family of origin that is capable of loving me -- I'm being retraumatized, as a survivor of emotional abuse perpetrated by a narcissistic parent.

Like many narcissists, my mother was (or is) charming, and few people who meet her see her as a threat. So the questions people ask me when I talk about being a survivor tend to be along the lines of: "What did she do that was so bad? Was it really all that bad? Parents have it so hard, how can you blame them? They all do what's best for their children."

He can't really that bad, he won't really round up Muslims to put them in internment camps even though we have historical precedent for similar acts within the past 100 years, maybe some of the women who say he sexually assaulted them are lying about it.

This is traumatic for many of us, but for some of us, it's retraumatization as well.

As an adult, I thought that whatever happened in my life, it couldn't possibly be worse than what I experienced as a child, because children are completely powerless and I'll never be completely powerless again now that I'm grown. Now, I'm not so sure that's true, because fascist politicians' goal is to make us all their children, and they are not good parents. I still think that the worst times in my life are over forever, but now that I have people in my life who I care about and who care about me, I'm not sure that watching them get hurt will be easier to endure than what I endured alone from birth to age 16.

Experience teaches me that most people don't want to hear about trauma, even some people who have survived trauma themselves. So those of us who are the canaries in this coal mine will be ignored, and instead we'll keep hearing "everything is going to be okay" until we can't hear each other anymore.

Rita Mae Brown wrote "Never hope more than you work." Working requires learning from the canaries, not trying to tell them they're not really as dead as they think they are.

As survivors we get shamed for our learned helplessness, but having adapted to situations where we have no power might turn out to be a useful adaptation.
And I'm not kidding when I say that as survivors, we're adapted to situations like the ones we're in right now, where the one we're in right now is importantly different from abusive childhoods in that we have the freedom to work together with other like-minded adults to protect ourselves, our families (chosen and otherwise), and our children or future children. I'm no longer a powerless child, but an adult with a good credit score, employable in a skilled profession. I plan to make myself useful.

Some things I've been called for speaking truth:

"professional scolder"
"naïve relativist"
"toxic individual"
"a central pole of attrition within the FOSS community"
"anti-individualist, illiberal"
"collects 'people he has slandered' the way some people collect stamps."
"the loud bitch responsible for the Debian takeover right now" [I've never had anything to do with the Debian community]
"professional histrionic victim"
"fat neck beard transgender scum"
"the meanest bitch on campus" (blast from the past)

To all of the people who said these things: you ain't seen nothing yet.
tim: A bright orange fish. (fish)


  • Exit Strategy, by EricaJoy (2016-11-03). "Staying is not a desirable option. Staying leaves me in a country run by a person who can start a war and would probably start one because someone slighted him."
  • [CW: sex; sexually explicit images (porn covers)] The Erin Brockovich of Porn, by Jeremy Lybarger for Esquire (2016-11-04). "We almost made it through lunch without mentioning the turkey basters full of cum, which would have been a shame."
  • Goodbye to all that: I’m done with Election 2016, by Sady Doyle for Global Comment (2016-11-03).
    I’m tired. I’m tired of debating whether gender plays a role in the election of the potential first female President, whether sexism is affecting media coverage or public sentiment, whether Hillary Clinton’s female supporters are selfish for caring about gender when There Are So Many Other Problems In The World After All, whether sexism itself even qualifies as a problem. I am tired of the lingering hangover of the Democratic primary, tired of what this conversation has shown me about the seemingly well-meaning, “progressive” men in my life. I am tired of seeing the damage that even the mildest, wimpiest, plaid-shirt-clad beardy-bro can do when he’s been given license to stop taking sexism seriously, and therefore stopped worrying that he might get somebody hurt.
  • is donald trump a ‘man of peace’?, by leftytgirl (2016-11-03). 'Why do some on the left seem to believe Trump is a ‘man of peace’? What personal traits of his is this based on?'
  • What Hillary Clinton's Fans Love About Her, by Chimamanda Adichie (2016-11-03).
    A conservative writer labeled her a congenital liar when she was first lady, and the label stuck because it was repeated over and over—and it was a convenient label to harness misogyny. If she was a liar, then the hostility she engendered could not possibly be because she was a first lady who refused to be still and silent. “Liar’ has re-emerged during this election even though Politifact, a respected source of information about politicians, has certified that she is more honest than most politicians—and certainly more honest than her opponent.

    Because she is already considered guilty in a vague and hazy way, there is a longing for her to be demonstrably guilty of something. Other words have been repeated over and over, with no context, until they have begun to breathe and thrum with life. Especially “emails.” The press coverage of “emails” has become an unclear morass where “emails” must mean something terrible, if only because of how often it is invoked.

  • When Truth Falls Apart, by Maria Bustillos for The Awl (2016-11-02). So good:
    "Dismediation is looking to make you never really trust or believe a news story, ever again....

    It’s not that we can’t agree on what the facts are. It’s that we cannot agree on what counts as fact.

    (There's something to be said here about the relationship between what Bustillos calls dismediation -- the propagation of epistemological nihilism -- and the denial of marginalized people's lived experiences that is the substance of gaslighting.)

  • His message was that America is fine, by Aaron Bady (2010-11-01). Yes, this article is six years old, but so much of it still rings true: '...by condemning both ideological “sides” equally for the crime of being ideological, he implies or explicitly claims that the truth is to be found in a “Real” that is outside those ideological filters.'

Everything else

tim: protest sign: "Down With This Sort of Thing" (politics)
In what follows, I'll assume you already have a passing familiarity with the candidates and ballot measures. For background information, http://smartvoter.org/ and https://ballotpedia.org are helpful.

Like most such guides, this one will start out being relevant to everyone eligible to vote in the US, then quickly narrow itself to just California, then further narrow itself to Alameda County and then Oakland (specifically City Council District 1).

tl;dr: Californians, vote no on 60 if you want to protect sex workers, yes on 62 to abolish the death penalty, and Oaklanders vote no on Measure HH to oppose fat-shaming and vote yes on Measure JJ to extend protection against unjust evictions. In writing this, I was helped by the Alameda County Green Party's voter guide and the Friends Committee on Legislation of California (FCLCA) voter guide.

President: Hillary Rodham Clinton

I don't believe that Clinton is the lesser of two evils, or in fact, evil. I believe she is the best-qualified person to be president. I'm not considering making a protest vote; to me, there's nothing to protest.

I'm leaving this part brief both because you've probably already made up your mind, and other people have already said the rest (I don't, of course, agree with every point made in every one of the following articles):

US Senator: Loretta Sanchez

I'm a single-issue voter -- in this specific case, that issue is not attacking sex workers:
A sex work activist group, the Erotic Service Providers Legal Education Research Project (ESPLERP), today joined sex worker rights groups and civil rights organisations in condemning yesterday’s raid on Backpage’s Dallas offices and the arrest of their CEO and controlling shareholders.

“This is just the latest attempt to shut down online sex work advertising,” said Maxine Doogan, President of ESPLERP. “It will not stop sex work. All it will do is force sex workers back onto the streets, where they are far less safe and vulnerable to violence and extortion. In effect, Kamala Harris is deliberately making the lives of sex workers more dangerous to boost her Senate hopes. Disgusting.”

Read more... )
tim: "System Status: Degraded" (degraded)
[CW: rape]

In my state, California, there's currently a proposition on the ballot to abolish the death penalty: Proposition 62, on which you should vote Yes if you're eligible to do so. You should also vote No on Proposition 66, whose goal is to make the process of state-sponsored murder more efficient. So it seems like it's a good time to think a little bit about the desire for capital punishment as a socially-acceptable response to trauma.

Racism and Capital Punishment

The death penalty persists in the United States is to punish and control people of color, primarily Black people. The legacy of kidnapping and enslaving Black people and using their labor as the foundation of a new state is one of the things that differentiates the United States from almost every other economically powerful nation, and capital punishment is another. Historically, the application of capital punishment to people convicted of rape is one of the most clear-cut instances of the disproportionate application of capital punishment to people of color. The specific case I address here is a case of rape and murder, so keep in mind the history of how capital punishment has been applied to Black men accused of rape even though this particular case was a white-on-white crime. While capital punishment advocates often claim that the death penalty should be reserved for the "worst of the worst" criminals -- and the case I'm about to talk about is just such an example -- in general, the application of capital punishment to white defendants is quite inconsistent, and understanding that helps us understand how "worst of the worst" arguments serve to obfuscate the irreducible racism of capital punishment in the US. While the occasional white death row inmate might help dissemble the racist goals of the death penalty, the thing that predicts where it will be applied most strongly is race, not the severity of the crime.

Of course, people who support capital punishment don't generally try to be overtly racist, so they enlist survivors of violent crime -- generally, white survivors, who other white people sympathize with -- to camouflage their real agenda. Moreover, many survivors of violent crime don't want the people who hurt them to be executed. Nonetheless, there are survivors of violent crime who willingly enlist in the pro-state-sponsored murder campaign, as well as family members of murder victims, and I mean to clear away the cobwebs (well aware as I am that other people have expertly documented the white supremacy that lies beneath.)

Acceptable Trauma Survivors and Revenge

Survivors make good camouflage because most people find it at least somewhat understandable why people would want revenge against people who hurt them or their loved ones in the worst possible ways (sometimes misleadingly called "closure"). The desire for revenge -- specifically the form of revenge that involves having the government murder somebody for you -- is considered within the realm of reasonable responses to trauma, even though there is no consensus among the public on whether or not capital punishment is good public policy (among experts on law and violent crime, of course, consensus exists, and that consensus is that it's bad policy.) And yet we might ask: why?

Read more... )

Acceptable trauma survivors -- those who are victimized by people unrelated to themselves -- are supported when they wish to deal with their trauma by having the state kill people on their behalf. Unacceptable trauma survivors take violence into their own hands -- frequently against themselves, rarely against others. Honesty about the prevalence of violence and abuse requires empathy for all survivors, without granting any class of survivors special permission to potentiate violence. Breaking the cycle of abuse requires ending capital punishment and confronting our collective desire to punish. We can acknowledge that we are hurting while working as hard as we can to control our natural desire to hurt others in response, to show them what it feels like. We have to confront our collective desire for vengeance in order to be freed from the misguided hope that further bloodshed will heal us.

Thanks to Gwen, Jon and Ken for their comments on a draft of this essay.

Do you like this post? Support me on Patreon and help me write more like it.

tim: A bright orange fish. (fish)
A post about whether you would go back in time and kill baby Hitler, by Jim Henley (2016-10-28). I just want to quote this entire post because it's so good. "You never. Need. To murder. A baby!" (I want to think more about the extent to which violence permeates the culture we live in so that this is a thing that needs to be said.)

Why would Facebook fire Peter Thiel?, by Paul Biggar (2016-10-26). This needs to be said, and maybe because it's a white man saying it, some of the people who need to listen will listen: 'Look at the words they use — “scared for the lives”, “hate and violence”, “his attacks”, “existential threat” — and contrast them to Altman’s and Zuckerberg’s: “because they support Trump”, “support of a political candidate”. Altman and Zuckerberg are talking about mere political support. The others are talking about fearing for their lives.' (I disagree with Biggar about one thing: the idea that people who aren't like him deserve to be safe is political; for most of us, whether we deserve to be safe is a highly politicized question. Nonetheless, the distinction between being unsafe and being disagreed with is important.)

Why I'm Done Talking About Diversity Or, Why We Should Try an All-White Diversity Panel, by Marlon James (2016-10-20). So many good points here. I think this relates to what I wrote about in "Opinions Are Abundant and Low-Value, too, in that we can only be fooled into thinking "diversity of opinion" is a useful goal if we think of diversity as a goal rather than an incidental outcome.
"Well for one, saying these isms are dividing us is implying that we are equally to blame for the division. What is happening is one group using social, economic and political policies to separate themselves from others, not always deliberately. It’s not for the black person to be more open-minded. It’s for the white person to be less racist."

"Diversity can’t accomplish anything because diversity shouldn’t have been a goal in the first place."

"The point I will raise at a diversity panel this year, will be the same point I raised ten years ago, which again reinforces the question of what purpose these panels serve."
Developer hiring and the market for lemons, by Dan Luu. So many good points here -- Luu examines and eviscerates, in detail, why the belief that engineering managers accurately assess talent -- and therefore, the belief that "all good developers already have jobs" -- is completely wrong. It follows pretty easily from the points Luu makes that prejudice against people who change jobs frequently is illogical unless you blame people for having been in a bad working environment.

Some things that might help you make better software, by David R. MacIver (2016-10-27). This is not just a random bag of ideas -- I think that the points about testing and documentation are deeply related to the points about culture, working from home, and working hours. I'm working on a blog post in which I elaborate just that, but in the meantime, this is a really great list of things you should know about doing software right, written from a holistic standpoint.

Academia, Love Me Back, by Tiffany Martinez (2016-10-27). 'On the second page the professor circled the word “hence” and wrote in between the typed lines “This is not your word.” The word “not” was underlined. Twice. My professor assumed someone like me would never use language like that. As I stood in the front of the class while a professor challenged my intelligence I could just imagine them reading my paper in their home thinking could someone like her write something like this?'

[CW: white men with guns; description of murder] I Went Undercover With a Border Militia. Here's What I Saw, by Shane Bauer for Mother Jones (2016-10). There's a lot here. An incidental point that jumped out at me was: "there is an added concern among law enforcement that going after a group simply for training 'could backfire and make them feel persecuted or victimized.'" So much for the war on terror... oh wait, we only care about terrorists feeling persecuted or victimized if those terrorists happen to be white.

The pyramid at the end of the world, by Elmo Keep for Fusion (2016-10-28). What a weird, beautiful article about a weird, beautiful monument to how close we continue to come to nuclear annihilation. I don't know if it was written specifically about this place, but the song "Nightshift Watchman" by David Wilcox came to mind. "If I do my job, my job is over..."

Debunking Patient Zero, by Azeen Ghorayshi for Buzzfeed (2016-10-26). As several of my friends pointed out this is not news, but it should still be disseminated. '“There was so much anxiety and fear about HIV and origins of HIV that it led to blame — blame along people’s beliefs, blame along people’s prejudices,” Richard Elion, an HIV researcher at George Washington University, told BuzzFeed News. “People want to believe that bad things in the world happen because of bad people. But biology doesn’t work that way.”'

The Racist and Sexist History of Keeping Birth Control Side Effects Secret, by Bethy Squires for Vice (2016-10-17).

When tech firms judge on skills alone, women land more job interviews, by Erin Carson for Cnet (2016-08-27). Not news either, but it's always good to have more evidence.

The Accidental City, by Helena Fitzgerald (2016-10-27). If you're at all sentimental about New York City, subways, or the New York subway system, you'll enjoy this.
tim: text: "I'm not offended, I'm defiant" (defiant)
I noticed a theme emerging as I assembled today's links: emotionally manipulative lies you may have been told lately. Gaslighting seems more prevalent than ever: people who want you to include abusers in your social circle, disengage from the political process, or blame yourself for your place in an oppressive socioeconomic order have a lot of tricks up their sleeves. I hope these links will shine light into those corners of your mind where you might be inclined to believe the voices saying you're "just too late and just no good."

Lie: "Isn't calling people out for their abusive behavior just as bad as abusing people?"

  • When is naming abuse itself abusive?, by Valerie Aurora (2016-10-24). This is so good and I want to print out many copies and nail them to various walls:
    "Naming and accurately describing abusive behavior is necessary and powerful at the same time that it makes many people feel uncomfortable.... Being uncomfortable is not in and of itself a sign that you are doing something wrong. I encourage people to think about what makes you uncomfortable about naming and describing abusive behavior, or seeing other people do it. Is it compassion for the person engaging in abusive behavior? Then I ask you to apply that compassion to the targets of abuse. Is it fear of further abuse by the person being called out? Then I urge you to support people taking action to end that abuse. Is it desire for a lack of overt conflict – a “negative peace“? Then I suggest you raise your sights and aim for a positive peace that includes justice and consideration for all. Is it fear that the wrong person will be accidentally targeted? Then I invite you to reflect on the enormous risk and backlash faced by people do this kind of naming and describing. And then I invite you to worry more about the people who are remaining silent when speaking up would benefit us all."
Lie: "You need to tolerate people who think you shouldn't exist -- not just tolerate them, but collaborate with them. Diversity of opinion is sacred."
  • Peter Thiel, YC, and hard decisions, by Ellen Pao (2016-10-17). "Giving more power to someone whose ascension and behavior strike fear into so many people is unacceptable. His attacks on Black, Mexican, Asian, Muslim, and Jewish people, on women, and on others are more than just political speech; fueled by hate and encouraging violence, they make each of us feel unsafe."
  • Part-Time Power, by Leigh Honeywell (2016-10-19). 'We all get to make a choice as to what constitutes “intolerable intolerance”. YC has made it clear that Thiel’s actions and words are tolerable enough to them to continue to give him power over people in their organization, and I find this unconscionable.'
  • When the Genius Men of Silicon Valley Suddenly Don't Seem So Smart, by Sam Biddle for The Intercept (2016-10-19).
  • The hypocrisy of Facebook's silence on Peter Thiel's support for Donald Trump, by Julia Carrie Wong for the Guardian (2016-10-18). "Money talks, and in Silicon Valley, it seems, money can say whatever it wants as long as one’s public statements (be they convention speeches or Washington Post op-eds) obfuscate the bigotry that lies beneath."
  • “Emotions are Running High…” by Arlan Hamilton (2016-10-21). "This week, another entity was set to make a very generous investment in my company. This was a deal a few weeks in the making, and at approx $500k would have made a huge impact on what we’re building at Backstage. Because this entity has close business ties to Thiel, I was faced with the decision to be a hypocrite and take the cash, or not be a hypocrite and respectfully decline it. I chose the latter."
  • Twitter Fires Its VR Project Manager After Homeless Rant Resurfaces, by William Turton for Gizmodo (2016-10-19). Sometimes there's justice in the world.
Lie: "Sure, maybe he's a serial abuser, but he does such good work and that's the important thing."
  • [CW: sexual harassment; universities; but I repeat myself.] From Texas to the Smithsonian, following a trail of sexual misconduct, by Michael Balter for The Verge (2016-10-24). Systemic sexual harassment and professors' and administrators' insistence on making sure it keeps happening. So familiar.
  • Why I won’t be attending Systems We Love, by Valerie Aurora (2016-10-22). "Even if Bryan doesn’t attack me, people who like the current unpleasant culture of systems programming will. I thought long and hard about the friendships, business opportunities, and social capital I would lose over this blog post. I thought about getting harassed and threatened on social media. I thought about a week of cringing whenever I check my email. Then I thought about the people who might attend Systems We Love: young folks, new developers, a trans woman at her first computing event since coming out – people who are looking for a friendly and supportive place to talk about systems at the beginning of their careers. I thought about them being deeply hurt and possibly discouraged for life from a field that gave me so much joy."
Lie: "You're not allowed to be glad that Hillary Clinton will be the next president -- just look at all the awful things she's done."
  • [CW: abuse] Hillary: My President, my Patronus, by Tierney Wisniewski (2016-10-21). I really related to this article about finding vindication as a child of a narcissist from watching Clinton succeed by exposing Trump for who he is: "I’m an only child. I had no witnesses inside the family. It was my word against that of two unreliable adults. Now, watching one more very unreliable adult, I have millions of witnesses to corroborate my perceptions of what is happening, and the documentation to back up our perceptions. And that part feels awesome."
  • The Leftist Case for Clinton, by Milo Beckman (2016-10-19). "Clinton has consistently been as far to the left as a public figure could be in America without being dismissed as a lunatic."
Lie: "Real conservatives aren't like that. He's just bananas."
  • Trumpworld, by Michelle García for Guernica (2016-10-21) "...For much of the campaign season, the press and commentators have branded Trump as an aberration, his rhetoric seemingly a deviation from the political norm, his vision for the country a frightening possibility of the future. In reality, much of Trumpworld already exists." García shows how Trump's white supremacy and anti-immigrant racism are nothing new. Nor are they unique to the right wing: "Partisan differences offer little or no immunity from the violent border paradigm, even among those seemingly supportive of immigrants."
Lie: "Well, anyone could win against Donald Trump."
  • Hillary Clinton’s 3 debate performances left the Trump campaign in ruins, by Ezra Klein for Vox (2016-10-19). While Trump's opinions aren't unusual among conservatives, his strategy (or lack thereof) is, and Clinton has exploited it skillfully: "The dominant narrative of this election goes something like this. Hillary Clinton is a weak candidate who is winning because she is facing a yet weaker candidate. Her unfavorables are high, her vulnerabilities are obvious, and if she were running against a Marco Rubio or a Paul Ryan, she would be getting crushed. Lucky for her, she’s running against a hot orange mess with higher unfavorables, clearer vulnerabilities, and a tape where he brags about grabbing women "by the pussy.""
Lie: "If you're not doing well economically, you're lazy. Just work harder."
  • The myth of personal life under capitalism, by Susan Rosenthal (2015-01). "Transforming inquisitive children into obedient, producing and reproducing machines requires a persistent shaming process that compels us to reject every part of ourselves that might rebel: our curiosity, our need to be heard and valued, and our need to actively shape our lives and our world. As a result, we cannot be complete human beings. When we believe that parts of ourselves are unworthy, we are ashamed to show ourselves, and our relationships remain superficial and insecure."
  • The Gaslighting of the Millennial Generation, by Caitlin Herron (2016-10-17) "The negative opinions directed at millennials are a perfect example, on an enormous societal scale, of cultural gaslighting."
  • Millennials Who Are Thriving Financially Have One Thing in Common… Rich parents, by Gillian B. White for the Atlantic (2015-07-15).
    The study calls this a 'funnel of privilege': Young adults with rich parents soon become rich themselves.

    "Haves are turning their riches or their wealth into bigger wealth because they are investing in the housing market by simply living in a house," says Gudell. This advantage is one that these Millennials will carry forward as they earn more than their degree-less peers, and save more than those who were forced to throw away tens of thousands of dollars on rent due to their inability to buy. In the future, they’ll have wealth to pass down to their own kids, continuing the cycle.

tim: A bright orange fish. (fish)
The white flight of Derek Black, by Eli Saslow for the Washington Post (2016-10-15). I am not sure how much credit former white supremacists deserve for coming to their senses, but nonetheless, this is a pretty gripping story about the son of one of the founders of Stormfront disowning his previous involvement with white supremacist groups. Education can and does change people sometimes, even though doing the work of educating isn't any specific marginalized person's responsibility.

Discerning Emotional Abuse in Relationships, by Xan West (2016-10-14).

D&D For Young DMs and Players 3: The X-Card, by Rory Bristol (2016-10-03). Interesting example of content warnings in practice (in the context of roleplaying games.) h/t [personal profile] joxn

[CW: rape, rape culture] When Men Brag About Sexual Assault, by [livejournal.com profile] siderea (2016-10-10). I also recommend its predecessor piece, Trump's Sexual Inkblot. This is about much more than just Trump:
The "locker-room banter" excuse says to women (and others), "you don't get to make the same natural surmises that men get to make about the very same speech acts applied to other crimes". It's a double standard: when the crime being boasted about is sexual in nature, women (and others) are supposed to give it a pass. "He's just saying that. It doesn't mean he does it."

When it comes to sexual crimes and torts, women (and others) are told they are supposed to suspend operation of their common sense. What men say when bragging about sexual misconduct is to be held in a little epistemological bubble, where none of it means, signifies, or counts in any way outside the bubble. Within the bubble – the rhetorical "locker-room" – those speech acts are to be understood and evaluated only by a special set of rules, which insist such utterances are not of relevance to the (presumed female) parties spoken of, only to the (presumed male) parties spoken to. Those utterances are not to be taken outside of the bubble; they are not to be exposed to reasoned contemplation in the light of anything outside the bubble whatsoever. We are to pretend under all circumstances not to have heard that which we have heard that men arrogate to the bubble; we are to pretend not to know anything the knowing of which men arrogate to the bubble. It is, Orwellianly, knowledge that, if we know it, we are forbidden to know.

[CW: suicide, discussion of mental illness hospitalization] Suicide Didn’t Kill Me, But Capitalism Might, by Beck Levy (2016-09-09). 'The bottom line is that in this ongoing crisis, “awareness” and “ending stigma” are toothless if depoliticized. All the awareness in the world won’t dismantle for-profit healthcare. Applying free-market principles to human needs wreaks havoc on our bodies.'

North Carolina Governor: My wife and I are being shunned by friends over anti-trans law, by Nick Duffy for PinkNews (2016-10-13). The lack of self-awareness here is breathtaking.

Men, You Can Survive Without Us—Please Try, by Ijeoma Oluo for The Establishment (2016-10-14). "All of this fear that you cannot survive without us is leaving so many of us dead."

The Ada Initiative’s legacy, one year on, by the Ada Initiative, 2016-10-17. Includes a list of ways you can continue supporting women in open technology and culture!

How False Narratives of Margaret Sanger Are Being Used to Shame Black Women, by Imani Gandy for Rewire (2016-08-20). On how Margaret Sanger's views on race have been grossly misrepresented by the pro-forced-pregnancy movement.

on #notallmen, derailing, and the fury it causes, by Jay (2015-08-01). Because this can never be said enough times:
Let’s talk about metonymy.

thefreedictionary.com defines the kind of metonymy I’m talking about as “a figure of speech in which the name of one object or concept is used for that of another to which it is related, as “scepter” for “sovereignty,” or “the bottle” for “strong drink”. So, if we extrapolate, we see how saying “I hate men” could stand in for “I hate the kind of man that rapes, kills, refuses to listen to me, voids my agency, trivializes my experiences, speaks over me, and makes jokes at my expense.”

You can see how the one is quicker and easier than the other.

White Nonsense: Alt-right trolls are arguing over genetic tests they think “prove” their whiteness, by Elspeth Reeve for Vice (2016-10-09). White supremacists got their 23andMe results and you won't believe what happened next! (Truly delightful.)

Election Update: Women Are Defeating Donald Trump, by Nate Silver for FiveThirtyEight (2016-10-11). Good.
tim: A bright orange fish. (fish)
Every Body Goes Haywire by Anna Altman for n+1 (2016-10-06). Long, beautiful article about the experience of chronic illness.

[CW: discussion of disordered eating] I Wasn't Addicted To Food. I Was Addicted to Dieting, by Virgie Tovar for Ravishly (2016-10-06). "...I do have a tendency to use experiences the way addicts use substances, because I learned addictive behavioral frameworks growing up." How when food gets used in a way that resembles an addiction, it's actually dieting that people use to distance themselves from their own feelings and reactions, not eating -- the "impulse to create emergencies and drama."

Trans Girl Periods. Yes, that’s right. No, I’m being serious. Just read the damn article, by Alaina Kailyn (2016-10-06). Bodies are so fascinating! I hadn't known that for many trans women, taking the same dosage of exogenous hormones every day still causes hormones to fluctuate, producing the same emotional ups and downs many cis women experience as part of the menstrual cycle, as the body adjusts its own production of hormones in response to the external feedback.

Fuck Portlandia, by In Other Words staff (2016-09-30). "...the last time the show filmed in our space, the production crew asked to us to remove the Black Lives Matter sign on our window."

Elon Musk Follows Zero Women on Twitter, by Sarah Jeong (2016-10-04). "Of course, Musk often retweets articles about Tesla Motors or SpaceX, which means he’s probably retweeted articles written by women. After all, about half the planet is occupied by people who aren’t men, and it would take a lot of effort to manage to completely erase them."

Idiocracy Is a Cruel Movie and You Should Be Ashamed For Liking It, by Matt Novak for Gizmodo (2014-07-29). I've never seen this movie and always thought there was something deeply anti-human about it, and Novak explains exactly what it is.

Trump and the Truth, by David Remnick, Eyal Press, Adam Davidson, and Adam Gopnik for the New Yorker (2016-09). This was written before That Video was released; it's still good to see a small number of Trump's lies systematically exposed.

More Evidence That Open Offices Make People Less Social, by Drake Baer for New York magazine (2016-09-16). Not that facts are going to persuade managers to reject open offices, since open offices were never instituted based on facts, but it's still nice to have facts. "...people who work in open-office plans had worse co-worker friendships than people who had private or shared offices" is something that resonates with my experience, since the sensory overload of an open office is such a drain on my resources that it makes me want to spend as little time in my office -- and by extension, with coworkers -- as possible.

Artificial Intelligence’s White Guy Problem, by Kate Crawford for the New York Times (2016-06-25). "Currently the loudest voices debating the potential dangers of superintelligence are affluent white men, and, perhaps for them, the biggest threat is the rise of an artificially intelligent apex predator.

But for those who already face marginalization or bias, the threats are here."

Your ‘Political Beliefs’ Don’t Justify Racism, by Andrew Wang for the Huffington Post (2016-09-21). I've been waiting for somebody to connect the dots as to how "political diversity" is how fascists sneak their ideology through the back door. This isn't quite that, but it approaches that. (I tried to write about it in "Opinions Are Abundant and Low-Value", too, but since then it's gotten clearer and clearer how transparent "political diversity" is as a veneer over white supremacy and fascism.)

"Political diversity is valuable. But a definition of political diversity that does not emphasize the reality of identity politics is amorphous, and overlooks how these discussions are often the first issues to be unwelcome and disrespected in the political arena. What then forms is a guise under which racist views must be tolerated. And when such a tolerance is made explicit by an educational institution, that institution becomes an enabler of racist rhetoric."

I especially appreciated this insight into how paradoxically limiting it is to use American two-party politics as the metric for "diversity of opinion": "...it becomes almost impossible to move beyond a partisan realm of discourse when traditional politics have been selected by institutions as the starting and ending point of debate."

[CW: discussion of fatphobia and bullying] Emotional Implications of Weight Stigma Across Middle School: The Role of Weight-Based Peer Discrimination, by Jaana Juvonen, Leah M. Lessard, Hannah L. Schacter, and Luisana Suchilt in the Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology. I read the abstract and another article summarizing this one, about how it's weight stigma, not being fat, that harms the mental health of fat middle school students. (Chorus of "well, duh" from every fat person in the room.)

This Transgender Boy Gave A Powerful Speech To Counter Fear At His School, by David Mack for Buzzfeed (2016-09-14). In a better world, adults would come for other adults who terrorize 12-year-olds because of their amorphous fears -- in this world, 12-year-olds have to stand up for themselves against those adults, and Ari Bowman, a 12-year-old trans boy, did that; you can watch a video of his speech to school board officials.
tim: text: "I'm not offended, I'm defiant" (defiant)
Being an ally to queer people (or any other group, but in this essay I'm going to be talking about queer people) is a process -- it's not a label you can affix to yourself once and for all, but a title that has to be earned by continued effort. What kinds of work does an ally do? How do you create a space that's safe for queer people?

As a general principle, you can show through your behavior that with everything you do, you're thinking through what effect it might have on queer people. The way to demonstrate your intent is not to tell people what it is, but to act on it.

When I was 16 I was dating a guy who was older than me. I won't say how much older -- if I did, you would probably think poorly of him. But what I wish to recall here is a way in which he was wiser than me, perhaps due to being older, perhaps not. At this point in my life, I believed that I was a heterosexual girl, and as far as I know, everybody else also believed that about me. My boyfriend and I went to Boston Pride together. It was my first Pride event, and I don't remember why I wanted to go. I didn't know that I was queer until about two years later. Maybe there was a band playing that I wanted to hear. In any case, I tried to hold hands with him while we were walking through the park to get to the festival. He said that no, we shouldn't hold hands, because it wasn't tasteful for us as a hetero couple to do that at a queer event.

I was ashamed of myself both for having broken a rule and for not having known the rule existed, but I didn't want to admit that, so instead I was mad at him for pointing it out. Surely, I thought, everybody around us should know that we're people who think it should be safe for everyone to hold hands. They should just know that our hand-holding was saying that; not "Look at us, it's safe for us to hold hands in public but it's not safe for you."

I don't hold it against my past self that much for being so narcissistic -- I was 16 and had pretty limited life experience. But nevertheless, I was wrong. I was wrong even though we actually were a gay couple. It's just that neither of us knew it at the time. We experienced heterosexual privilege because we could both be sure that no one was going to look at us and react in the way that homophobes do when they think they see a queer couple.

I also want to note that 1997 was a different time, and context is important. Maybe it would be okay for a couple with heterosexual privilege to hold hands at Pride now. What remains the same, and what will remain the same as long as there's inequality between queer people and heterosexual people, is that there are things that have a different meaning when somebody with heterosexual privilege does it. Indeed, that's precisely what "privilege" means: that the same action can have different consequences, different risks and benefits, depending on who's doing it.

If you are a person experiencing conditional heterosexual privilege at any given moment, what I expect you to do in order to be an ally is to quietly reflect along these lines: "Hmm, am I in a space where it's safe for queer people to make out? Because if I am, then great, I'm going to make out with my partner with reckless abandon. But if I'm not, then I'm not going to do that, because I don't wish to take advantage of my heterosexual privilege. If queer people would get hurt for doing it, I don't want to be the one who's doing it all the while knowing that my queer friends in the same room can't do the same." I expect this more strongly from people who are in a life stage where they've been exposed to enough different perspectives that they can take other people's point of view. (In other words, I don't hold 16-year-olds in 2016 to higher standards than I hold my past 16-year-old self.) And so if someone isn't making this mental calculation, I notice, and I conclude that they're not thinking about how queer people will feel about what they're doing. And then I conclude I'm not safe, because I'm not in the group of people whose welfare is being looked after.

Why might people (any people) engage in public displays of affection, anyway? They might not have any private place in which to be affectionate, which is another reason I don't hold younger people to this standard all that strictly. That can be true both for people with, and without heterosexual privilege in a given situation. They might be swept away by the tide of overwhelming lust -- again, I cut younger people more slack here, since overwhelming lust does tend to take precedence over awareness of others when overwhelming lust is new to you, and that's OK with me. But there are other reasons. Maybe you decided "I would like to let other people here know that I'm a man who has the status that comes from a reasonably attractive woman being willing to let me stick my tongue down her throat." Maybe you didn't, but if you have a choice in the matter -- if you're getting all up on your partner because you weighed the costs and benefits and concluded the benefit to you was greater -- then there's a reason why you're choosing to do it in public.

For people who are affected by homophobia and/or transmisogyny in a given context, at a given moment, displaying affection can be an act of defiance; there's a reason that kiss-ins are a form of protest. I think that we would all agree there are still boundaries as to what it's acceptable to do, sexually or romantically, in front of others who didn't consent to see it. Within the community, we might disagree as to where those boundaries are (for example, some queer people would prefer not to see nudity at Pride marches, others prioritize moving the Overton window when it comes to what kinds and degrees of sexuality are acceptable in public), but we agree that there are boundaries. But systematic homophobia means that the same actions have a different meaning when the people doing them are perceived as being a heterosexual couple.

I don't think it's too much to ask that people think about how what they're doing might affect other people in the context they're in, because I think if you already assessed your surroundings well enough to make the decision to neck in public, I'm going to expect that you also thought through what effect it has on the people around you -- you already concluded that it was safe for you to do this, so I don't think it's asking too much to consider others' well-being too. (And again, I expect more of that consideration from people who are past the age where sex is so new to them that it's easy to get pulled under by a wave of lust and act without thinking.)

So when people with heterosexual privilege who are roughly grad-school age or older are smooching in public, to me that's a signal of an unsafe space. (If they're younger, it doesn't give me enough information to draw that conclusion.) It's unsafe because I know that the people doing that aren't thinking about how queer people might feel about it, and if they're not thinking about that, it's probably not the norm to think about it here. Inattention to (relatively) little slights goes hand in hand with callous disregard for bigger ones.

You might reasonably ask how far it goes, the obligation not to rub in other people's faces "here I am, safely doing the thing you can't do without risking your neck." For example, in the US when the right to marry wasn't universal, there were heterosexuals who refused to get legally married until everybody was allowed to do so. I think that's a nice gesture, but I don't think anyone was obliged to do it. Marriage has financial and social benefits (which is precisely why we were fighting for it in the first place), and I don't think that the collective benefit of a heterosexual person forgoing marriage exceeds the individual cost to that person of not getting married when they would have done it otherwise. If refraining from marriage isn't obligatory whereas being discreet about what you do with your partner is, where do you draw the line? That's really up to you and what you can be comfortable with -- there's no rulebook for how to be a decent human being.

I don't think it's too much to ask when I ask middle-aged people with heterosexual privilege to refrain from making out and heavy petting in, say, the front row of a concert. After all, if you're that age and you can afford concert tickets, you can probably make out later at home, without bothering anybody else. (I don't mind heterosexuals as long as they don't flaunt it in public.) Not every queer person is going to agree with me on this, and ultimately, if you're heterosexual or if you're in a relationship that doesn't make you susceptible to homophobic violence, who you agree with is up to you and your conscience.

I'm trying to be careful to address people with heterosexual privilege here -- conditional or not -- rather than heterosexual people because the effect of two people who really are cis and heterosexual laying it on too thick in public is indistinguishable from the effect of two people doing the same thing who aren't cis, or who aren't heterosexual, or both. It's important to respect people's self-identification, but also important -- if we're going to live in an interdependent world -- to recognize that privilege exists and that both self-identification and others' perceptions of your identity mediate that privilege. If you're trying to tell me that I can't call out any instance of heterosexual privilege in action without first interviewing the people involved as to their sexual orientation, I'm going to say that you're gaslighting me. "What if they're actually pansexual or genderqueer?" re-centers the conversation on the people doing harm rather than the people being harmed. It's a silencing tactic, because the effect is to shame people out of talking about privilege. And it's a gaslighting tactic, because the effect is to cause marginalized people to question their own perceptions of reality. ("You're not really seeing what you think you see.") Saying "this shouldn't affect you because I'm not heterosexual" is more or less the same as saying "I didn't intend to to harm", and we know that intent doesn't determine effects. Both statements are demands that one's own narrative be privileged over anybody else's.

What matters more than the specific subject of PDAs is that if you tell me there is literally nothing you would give up -- no way in which you would make yourself uncomfortable, no matter how small -- for the sake of making queer people more comfortable, then you're just saying you don't care about queer people. If you're not willing to put anything on the line for us, then at least be honest about it and don't gaslight us by telling us you care.

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tim: A bright orange fish. (fish)
A bit late, because I've been on vacation. But linkspam doesn't take a vacation!

The Psychology of Victim-Blaming by Kayleigh Roberts for the Atlantic (2016-10-05). Good outline of how the just-world fallacy causes people to blame victims.

Protect Your Irritated Nervous System by [personal profile] sonia (2016-10). Good stuff about understanding chronic stress.

The Importance of Paying Attention in Building Community Trust, by [personal profile] mjg59 (2016-10-03). If your community doesn't handle the little things, no one will trust you to get big things right.

It’s Not About Race!, by John Metta (2016-09-18). 'When a white person says “It’s not about race,” they are pretty much always saying it when a Black person, or a Latino person, or a Muslim person is not acting the way a white European would act or wants them to act.' (I probably would have cited this in "The Filter of Unemotionality" had I read it sooner.)

Language in Emergency Medicine: A Verbal Self-Defense Handbook, by Suzette Haden Elgin (1999). I am thinking about this approach to communication and would like to read and think more about it. "In order to understand what another person is saying, you must assume that it is true, and try to imagine what it could be true of" isn't advice I follow all the time, or even most of the time, and I especially don't want to assume that what somebody is saying is true when what they're saying is that I don't deserve to live. However, there might be more times when it's useful than I've accounted for.

A Health Benefit of Roller Coasters, by James Hamblin for the Atlantic (2016-09-26). Now this is the kind of science I love: "So I used real urine … to avoid criticism."

The Sexist Response to a Science Book Prize, by Thomas Levenson for the Atlantic (2016-09-30).

Some links about weight and fatphobia. CWs apply to all of them, but particularly the two articles by Gina Kolata, which are quite wrong-headed and pathologizing (having a body size and shape that some people find sexually unattractive isn't a "disease", folks), but still contain some useful information.

The Mythology Of Trump’s ‘Working Class’ Support, by Nate Silver for FiveThirtyEight (2016-05-03).

A Pox On Your Box: The Problem of LELO Hex, by Lorax of Sex (2016-09-25) -- about a supposedly-revolutionary new condom design that's anything but.

Life-Hacks of the Poor and Aimless, by Laurie Penny for The Baffler (2016-07-08):

'Can all this positive thinking be actively harmful? Carl Cederström and André Spicer, authors of The Wellness Syndrome, certainly think so, arguing that obsessive ritualization of self-care comes at the expense of collective engagement, collapsing every social problem into a personal quest for the good life. “Wellness,” they declare, “has become an ideology.”
When Penny writes, "There is an obvious political dimension to the claim that wellbeing, with the right attitude, can be produced spontaneously," it reminds me of the blog post I want to write about the political uses of cognitive-behavioral therapy.
tim: text: "I'm not offended, I'm defiant" (not offended)
A road sign that says 'emotion' with a right-pointing arrow'In subcultures like computer science academia and the technology industry that are dominated by white men, self-identification as "rational" is a cornerstone of many members' self-image and social status. In these groups, people who make sincere, vulnerable comments invoking their personal stake in an issue rather than objective, rational truth are often shamed for being "emotional".

All speech is motivated by emotion: we don't speak unless we feel that it's important to us to do so. Cognition is impossible without emotion: emotion directs our attention, tells us what's important and what's not. People who can't experience emotions become completely unable to function. Speaking requires effort, and expending effort requires an emotional reason. If it wasn't important to you to say something, then you would be silent. Derailing comments, too, are motivated by emotions: primarily, fear and insecurity. When people re-center a discussion on themselves, they are motivated by fear. For example, attempting to reframe a sentiment like "Black Lives Matter" as "All lives matter" may appear to be neutral, but it is in fact motivated by fear that valuing Black lives threatens white privilege.

When Alice states her lived experience and Bob says, "Prove it -- give me facts, citations to peer-reviewed studies," when he doesn't normally demand that level of evidence from other men, Bob is being emotional. Like all speech, his response is driven by an emotion: in this case, the desire to silence Alice.

So framing some speech as neutral or unemotional exploits a social loophole that puts an outbound filter of rationality onto whatever privileged people say. If all speech is emotional, then we have to ask what political reasons here are for labeling some speech as emotional and some speech as unemotional, and what political purposes this labeling has.

Cold and detached responses

"To me, all of this seems like typical geek behaviour: something is making them uncomfortable, and so they attack it on "rational" grounds. Most likely, they aren't even aware of the gut reaction fueling their logic." -- Jessamyn Smith
The hallmark of an Trojan horse emotional response -- the kind of words that slap you in the face while telling you that you're unhinged for crying in response -- is its cold and detached vantage point. The people delivering these cold remarks typically position themselves as authority figures, rather than citing lived experience. They're likely to use language that disclaims responsibility ("Some people say..." or "Some people might be alienated by this...") or to employ the word "should" ("You should understand that I have good intentions.")

An example of hidden emotion is the idea of "meritocracy". We all know that meritocracy is a lie, but here I want to call attention to the concealed emotion that the concept is pregnant with. Consider the following dialogue:

Alice: Why is your company 90% male when the population is only 50% male, and 95% white when the general population is only 60% white?
Bob: You see, Alice, we're a meritocracy. I only hire the best people for the job.
Alice: Fuck you, Bob.

Who is being emotional here? Bob is terrified of being found out: he's terrified that other people will believe Alice when she points out his discriminatory hiring practices. He's probably also scared that he, himself, won't measure up -- merit-wise -- in a fair contest that didn't exclude most men of color, women, and non-binary people. Moreover, he's scared of not seeming objective, because to not seem objective and rational is -- in his culture -- to come off as unmasculine. If he can frame himself as making decisions only based on merit, he can conceal the role of personal relationships in who he favors. If he can make other people think he's immune from the human tendency to filter assessments through the lens of how much you like somebody, then they'll treat him as a leader, because we've been taught that leaders are (emotionally) above it all.

So the meritocracy trope is an emotional argument, though it's rarely treated as one. Alice's frustration is nothing compared to Bob's terror of being revealed for who he is. The abuse of the "neutral point of view" concept on Wikipedia -- whose editors and bureaucrats constitute another white- and male-dominated subculture -- is another example. If you can call your own point of view "neutral", you won't have to answer questions about what caused you to have that particular point of view. If you don't have to answer those questions, you can appear as cool, detached, and emotionless as possible.

The emotional content of tone arguments

In general, respectability politics and tone arguments are always emotionally driven:

  • "I agree with what you're trying to accomplish, I just think your tone is unproductive."
  • "If you expect to win allies over, you're going to have to meet them where they are."
  • "If you don't educate me, then how can I learn?"

More important than the specific words are the subtext that all of these remarks share: "I'm cool-headed and thinking rationally about the best tactics for achieving social progress. You're unable to think clearly because of your emotions, and can't liberate yourself without help from somebody like me."

But tone arguments are deeply emotional.

I cannot hide my anger to spare you guilt, nor hurt feelings, nor answering anger; for to do so insults and trivializes all our efforts. Guilt is not a response to anger; it is a response to one's own actions or lack of action. If it leads to change then it can be useful, since it is then no longer guilt but the beginning of knowledge. Yet all too often, guilt is just another name for impotence, for defensiveness destructive of communication; it becomes a device to protect ignorance and the continuation of things the way they are, the ultimate protection for changelessness. -- Audre Lorde

In response to listening to the anger of somebody whose oppression you benefit from, you might experience guilt (because you've done nothing to effect change) and fear (that your power and privilege will be taken away if enough people listen to and are moved by the message you perceive as angry.) Your feelings of guilt or fear tell you to do one thing: everything you can do to make the pain stop, to silence the speech that is causing you to experience narcissistic injury, to feel guilt and fear -- feelings you don't want to have. Your emotions also tell you that if you feel hurt by somebody else's anger, they must be expressing that anger only to hurt you -- they can't possibly have any other reason for sharing their thoughs. This is a form of narcissism.

As another example, suppose that Alice says, "hey, fuck you if you think women quit jobs in science and technology because they're not interested -- we quit because of harassment." And suppose Bob says, "Stop being emotional. We should study whether women leave because they just have different interests." Bob's detachment from the issue may cause others to perceive his statement as unemotional, where Alice is perceived as emotional. But Bob's statement is motivated by emotion too: the fear that something bad will happen if Alice is allowed to share her personal experience. Terri Oda pointed out that if you think biology explains the low numbers of women in CS, then you're bad at math: the "logic" that leads men to speculate about causes for women's lower participation in science that don't involve men's active efforts to exclude women is actually emotional. Their emotions about their own power and privilege and whether or not a more egalitarian science culture would jeopardize those things stop them from seeing the truth.

False empiricism can be another form of emotional argument. Suppose that Carol says, "hey, it hurts me and makes me feel excluded when you address a mixed-gender group I'm in with, 'guys.'" Don might respond with, "Well, actually, 'guys' is used in a gender-neutral way." This is false, but more important than its truth value is the emotional charge that Don's statement is imbued with. While at first blush, it might seem that he is making a factual point about language usage or descriptive grammar, attempting to shut down Carol's first-person account of how she feels being called a "guy" is an appeal to emotion: it is motivated by Don's discomfort with examining his behavior and with being told that something he didn't intend as harmful is harming people. Don doesn't really care about what the dictionary says "guys" means; he cares about stopping Carol from speaking, and the dictionary argument here is an ex-post-facto justification for Don to try to shut Carol up. Appealing to empiricism is how Don channels his discomfort with hearing Carol be open about how it makes her feel when she's casually misgendered; it's irrelevant, since how common misgendering is doesn't obligate Carol to change how she feels about it, but he knows that accusing her of being factually wrong is likely to create an emotional reaction in her -- or at least in the people observing -- that will silence her, and that's what matters to Don.

Another form of false empiricism comes up in discussions of trans people. The discourse of "biological sex" is something cis people use to derail discussions in order to de-center trans people's lived experience in favor of making trans people seem "unscientific" and therefore crazy, illogical, or emotional. In reality, biologically essentialist narratives have very little to do with biology and a lot to do with cis people's fear of a world where gender and sex are consensual. (I've written about this before, starting with "Chromosomal Politics" and continuing: [1], [2], [3], [4], [5], [6].) Cis people are terrified of the gaping void that opens when it becomes impossible to define your identity solely by appealing to your genitals. So they say things like, "Gender is social, sex is biological," or that sex is determined by someone's assessment of your genitals at birth.

People who say these things don't actually understand biology, so their comments -- sciency-sounding as they might seem -- are based in emotion, not fact. It's emotion that lets them make the leap from "most of the time, men have penises and women have vaginas" (an empirical observation) to "any posited exceptions to this rule are because someone's lying rather than because the rule could be incomplete." Emotion blurs the mind enough to confuse this sloppy thinking with rigorous analysis. But sciency-sounding stuff has cognitive authority. Meanwhile, trans people who state our lived experience of being men or women, as well as non-binary people who state their lived experience of being other genders, are labeled as "emotional", which goes along with the idea that gender is different from sex: gender is said to be all in your head, therefore not as real when it doesn't match your sex, which is real and observable by others. So fake-scientific discourse motivated by fear wins here over honest avowals of lived experience. Borrowing cognitive authority is a tool to avoid addressing how cis people would feel if we accepted both gender and sex as traits that are impossible to determine through objective observation.

Another example is the drive to disbelieve marginalized people who report sexual assault, discrimination, or harassment: common responses from privileged people tend to sound like, "Let's give them the benefit of the doubt" (where "them" always refers to fellow privileged people), "We shouldn't jump to conclusions; not all the facts are in yet", "We should hear both sides", or "There could have been other reasons why she was fired." Privileged people who obsess over proof in these situations tend to be motivated by a need to discredit and invalidate whatever a marginalized person says, especially when it threatens the power of someone they identify with. Their fear drives them to sow doubt about marginalized people's authority to speak about their own life experiences. "We need to hear both sides" may sound logical, but the selectivity with which white men employ their skepticism is guided by emotion: disproportionately, it's used against the people they fear and hate. When somebody only demands extraordinary degrees of evidence in response to claims made by marginalized people, you can be sure that they make these demands for emotional reasons. The end result of a double standard that demands extraordinary evidence to support patriarchal actions (e.g. women being raped, people of color being discriminated against, trans people being harassed) without requiring the same evidence for assertions that don't challenge patriarchy is to uphold patriarchy itself. Patriarchy perpetuates itself through emotions -- fear and insecurity -- rather than logic, and part of how it works is characterizing typically-masculine emotional outbursts -- outbursts that include repressing other people's emotional expressing -- as logical.

Pattern recognition and the paradox of openness

What do all these people have in common: the meritocracy-citers, the pseudo-scientists, the selective skeptics, the phony empiricists? They hope that their fear will look like neutrality when they use magic phrases like "innocent until proven guilty." They don't feel secure letting somebody else who has a different life experience talk -- they fear their privilege won't stand if disprivileged people are heard.

They forget that we are capable of recognizing patterns and that we notice when they reserve all skepticism for claims that threaten the status quo. They think ticking off a list of logical fallacies will fool us, that we won't notice their terror at having to engage with the substance of an argument that poses a threat to their power. Fear doesn't become invisible when concealed by a veneer of faux-rationality and pseudo-logic. When someone says "you're just being emotional," we know to look harder at what they're trying to hide. We can't smell fear, but we can infer it logically from the presence of rhetorical strategies that have the function of guarding privilege.

"Female emotion itself is being portrayed as a destructive force that must be tamped down, contained, and (if at all possible) totally denied, because if it ever breaks through and becomes visible, that woman will become dirty, shameful, and disgusting." -- Sady Doyle, Trainwreck

To a much lesser extent, men expressing emotions that are usually coded as "female" also receive the treatment Doyle describes. Masculinist definitions of "emotion" often construct the anger men often feel and express as non-emotional. Anger is often a veneer for fear, which is also an emotion, as much as gender-conforming men do their best to conceal the fear they experience. Fear of having to compete with women and minorities is emotion too, and drives all manner of behaviors, from enforcing sex segregation in competitive sports to pseudoscientific arguments as to why women are worst at math. Anger is also an emotion: as marginalized people we frequently hear "don't be so angry, you'll scare people," but we rarely hear anyone tell us directly that we scare them. Meanwhile, we are expected to tolerate their anger as they browbeat us about our tone or scold us for believing a woman "before all the facts are in." Privileged men are scared of emotions outside the narrow band that men are allowed to express, and will do pretty much anything to suppress their expression.

There's a paradox that dictates what speech gets labeled as "emotional." Often, it's speech from people who are being open and vulnerable about their emotions (which is a rare thing for people to do, by the way, outside the context of close relationships in private.) But speech doesn't become less emotional when the speaker is frantic to cover up their fear, insecurity and worry with logical-sounding words and phrases. Just because the speaker may not be fully aware of the emotions that underlie their speech doesn't make the speech less emotional.

Ironically, sincerity will get you tagged as "emotional" and not credible; when you conceal your motives, you get tagged as "logical", and the more social status you have, the more logic gets attributed to you.

The drive to side with people who have power and status is also emotionally based: it's grounded in the belief that seeking the protection of people who have power will keep you safe.

"You're being emotional" means "I'm trying to make you feel shame." When you are trying to make someone else feel ashamed, it's a pretty good bet that you are feeling shame or guilt yourself and are trying to displace it onto somebody else, as if shame were a hot potato. in reality, shame is more like a virus: it spreads.

"You're being emotional" means "I have more credibility than you." Most of the time, accusations of "emotional" motivation are driven by the need for power. Fear of powerlessness and helplessness is also an emotion.

"You're being emotional" means "I'm feeling an emotion I would prefer not to feel, and it's your fault." (I wrote about this before in "The Second Job, or, Men Feel Entitled To Not Feel Things".)

"You're being emotional" means "I feel upset because of what you said, so you must have said it because you were upset, too."

"You're being emotional" is a form of false dismissal. The "false dismissal" pattern, which I previously wrote about in "Gendered Language: Feature or Bug in Software Documentation?" is a sign that someone is being emotional and trying to hide it. We see this in a common class of ad hominem attacks (which are rarely recognized as ad hominem) along the lines of: "You care, so you must be wrong" or "You have strong opinions, so you must be wrong." Beyond the logical flaws inherent in dismissing an argument because the person making the argument cares, bringing up your own assessment of somebody else's emotional state or intensity is generally not conducive to logical argument unless you've been asked for it. I think people who jump to the "you're being emotional" silencing tactic often confuse the absence of emotion with the presence of truth.

"You're being emotional" means "I'm uncomfortable with my own emotions, especially those that are coded as female, and I reject them in you as a way of acting out my rejection of the same emotions in myself."

Maybe we should just retire "you're being emotional" and stop obsessing over eradicating emotion from conversations about social and political issues. What would happen if we treated speech that comes from a place of emotional vulnerability as more compelling, not less? If all speech is motivated by emotion, isn't it better if we state and examine our emotional states in regard to speaking and listening, rather than desperately pretending we don't have emotions -- which in itself is motivated by desire to protect ourselves and our status? Can we view reason and logic as tools for accomplishing goals that our emotions guide us to, rather than letting our emotions govern us by pretending they don't exist?

Further reading

Thanks to Gwen for her comments on a draft of this essay.

Image credit: Creative-Commons-licensed image by Joe Shlabotnik on Flickr.

Do you like this post? Support me on Patreon and help me write more like it.

tim: A bright orange fish. (fish)
'Ladies' Is Gender Neutral, by Alice Goldfuss (2016-09-15). "I hope this has opened some people’s eyes to what it feels like to be excluded, and how something so simple as a shirt that fits can make an impact."

My Childhood Was Appropriate For Children, by Annalee for The Bias (2016-09-23). "Bisexuality is perfectly appropriate for children, because many children are bisexual. Treating bisexuality as an ‘adult’ topic? As if it’s a deviation kids couldn’t possibly understand? That’s what’s not appropriate for children."

Valuing chronically ill graduate students, by Sarcozona for Tenure, She Wrote (2016-09-22). "None of my colleagues would ever say to me that they think I shouldn’t be a scientist or that chronically ill and disabled students should be barred from academia, but when there isn’t (adequate) funding for sick students, chronically ill students are effectively excluded from academia."

ADHD Tipping Points: Why people with ADHD suddenly seem to fall apart, and what you can do about it, by Emily Morson for Mosaic of Minds (2016-09-15). About why people with chronic illness (whether that illness is categorized as mental or physical) often seem to function normally up to a point, then fall apart during adulthood -- writte about ADHD, but I think it can apply just as well to C/PTSD and probably many other illnesses.

[CW: rape] Cockblocking Rapists Is A Moral Obligation; or, How To Stop Rape Right Now, by Thomas MacAulay Millar for Yes Means Yes (2013-10-20). Lots of good points in this, including the importance of noticing boundary-pushing, and this: "What can people do with unsubstantiated accusations? Quite a lot, actually."

Two pieces on the trash fire that is Out magazine's decision to profile professional harassment campaign organizer Milo Yiannopoulos:

Occupy Wall Street, five years on: fire in the dustbin of history, by Laurie Penny for the New Statesman (2016-09-17). 'Being on the left is, in some ways, an exercise in learning how to fail. Of course, all resistance movements eventually fail, because those which do not succeed in overhauling the existing order invariably become the existing order. Wilson, writing as Bey, reminds us that the Temporary Autonomous Zones are, by their nature, ephemeral. “Such moments of intensity give shape and meaning to the entirety of a life. You can't stay up on the roof forever — but things have changed, shifts and integrations have occurred — a difference is made.”'

Take the Cake: Fat Fury, Fat Love — Claiming 'Fat Space' In Activist Communities, by Virgie Tovar for Ravishly (2016-09-08). "I too feel intense pressure to be perpetually kind, patient, and educational whenever I write or speak about fat discrimination and body image. Often, I do genuinely feel kind and patient and educational. The problem is that when I don’t feel that way, I am expected to bypass feelings of anger or disappointment in favor of sublimation, with the idea being that this sublimation benefits me/all people (since I am a subset of all people)."

Why I Quit My Job To Live Off My Private Wealth, by Fiona Pearce for Reductress (2016-09-20). "Life is about choices, and you only get one life to live. The only way to take control of your destiny is to decide how you really want to spend your time—which is why I chose to quit my job and live off my vast personal fortune."
tim: text: "I'm not offended, I'm defiant" (defiant)
I thought I would make a list of my favorite Geek Feminism Blog posts, since it's a bit hard to find some of the great older posts there. I omitted my own posts as well as most cross-posts. (Excluding cross-posts excluded some of my favorite posts, alas, but I wanted to focus on content originally published on the GF blog.)


Why We Document, by Mary Gardiner. "But what makes it worth it for me is that when people are scratching their heads over why women would avoid such a revolutionarily free environment like Free Software development, did maybe something bad actually happen, that women have answers."

Questioning the Merit of Meritocracy, by Skud.


But Women Are an Advanced Social Skill, by Mary Gardiner.

Is requiring Open Source experience sexist?, by Mary Gardiner.

Self-confidence tricks, by Terri Oda.

Geek feminism as opposed to mainstream feminism?, by Mary Gardiner.

How to Appear Incompetent in One Easy Step, by Amber Baldet.

When You Are the Expert in the Room, by Mary Gardiner.

Meritocracy? Might want to re-think how you define merit., by Terri Oda. "It’s not the intelligence of the group members that matters; it’s their social sensitivity."

"Why don't you just hit him?, by Mary Gardiner. "Harassment is not a private matter between harasser and victim, and it’s not the victim’s job to put a stop to it."

Letting down my entire gender, by Terri Oda. "You feel like changing the world rests in your hands, and you let the world down because you had to say no. You had to quit. You had to hide."


On competence, confidence, pernicious socialization, recursion, and tricking yourself, by Sumana Harihareswara. "It’s as though my goalposts came on casters to make them easier to move"

Impostor syndrome and hiring power, by Mary Gardiner.

in memory of nina reiser, by mizchalmers

Geeks as bullied and bullies, by Mary Gardiner

Online harassment as a daily hazard: when trolls feed themselves, by Mary Gardiner.

On being harassed: a little GF history and some current events, by Skud. 'I didn’t quit because I couldn’t handle the technology, or because I had a baby, but because I had become fundamentally disenchanted with a “community” (please imagine me doing sarcastic air quotes) that supports the kind of abuse I’ve experienced and treats most human-related problems — from harassment to accessibility to the infinite variety of names people use (ahem ahem Google Plus) — as “too hard”.'


What she really said: Fighting sexist jokes the geeky way!, by Jessamyn Smith.

How I Got 50% Women Speakers at My Tech Conference, by Courtney Stanton.

I take it we aren’t cute enough for you?, by Mary Gardiner. "I want to get this out in the open: people love to support geek girls, they are considerably more ambivalent about supporting geek women."

Pipeline Guilt, by Jessamyn Fairfield. "It’s a heavy burden to want to be the best example for women in your field, at the expense of your own happiness. And it’s easy to hear about the leaky pipeline and see it as prescriptive, implying that individual women have to choose to stay in the pipeline in order to help solve the problem."

How do you look for jobs in an industry known for biases against women?, by Terri Oda.


Dear male allies: your sexism looks a bit like my racism, by mizchalmers. "Here’s what I want to tell you, dear male allies. It is such a relief. Listening to other peoples’ voices? Is incredibly moving, and humbling, and endlessly interesting. Shutting the hell up while I do it? God, how I love the sound of not-my-own-voice. Going into battle against racists and so forth? So much easier, now that I have a faint clue what’s actually going on."

Book Club: Three times a Geek Feminist walked away from Omelas (and two times she didn’t), by mizchalmers. "Now I think the best we can do is practise vigilance. To watch out for people who might be locking children in rooms. And to refrain from locking children in rooms ourselves."

Tech confidence vs. tech competence, by Alex. "This is in stark contrast to communities where tech competence is valued above all else: where people feel they have to hide their mistakes. In such settings we routinely observe low volunteering rates from people in marginalised groups, with low retention from beginning volunteers, because people are too scared to ask for help or too scared to admit that they don’t know how things work."


It is easier now that I look like a guy, by Fortister. "Instead of spending my weekend hacking open source I spend my weekend figuring out how to defend the notion of my humanity."

Dropping the F bomb, by Skud. "Women in tech groups are not necessarily feminist. Some actively work against feminist ideals."

tim: A bright orange fish. (fish)
Adult Film Site XHamster Buys Alexis Arquette Sex Tape, Immediately Destroys All Copies, by Don Crothers for Inquisitr (2016-09-18). Good.

White Woman at Her ‘Most Authentic’ When Appropriating Other Cultures, by Taryn Englehart for Reductress (2016-03-08).

To find Hillary Clinton likable, we must learn to view women as complex beings, by Caroline Siede for Boingboing (2016-09-15). "So why is Clinton critiqued for raising her voice like Sanders, speaking hard truths like Biden, and making an awkward Pokémon Go reference we almost certainly would have dubbed a “dad joke” had Kaine said it? Why do we find their flaws likable and Clinton’s flaws off-putting? Why isn't she seen as America's awkward aunt or nerdy stepmom?"

26 Things Emotionally Strong People Do, by Jeremy Radin (2016-08-25). "Emotionally Strong people have four emotions: strong, abundance, no I am not having a panic attack I’m just tired from being so busy manifesting what I am blessed about every day, and hashtag."

The lasting impact of white teachers who mispronounce minority student names, by Clare McLaughlin for Quartz (2016-09-07). '...it’s okay to make an error, “but it is not okay to ignore the mistake or not learn from it.”'

All 314 Bruce Springsteen Songs, Ranked From Worst to Best, by Caryn Rose for Vulture (2016-09-13). I feel personally attacked by this list in all sorts of ways, but I enjoyed reading it.

Mansplaining: how not to talk to female Nasa astronauts, by Laura Bates for the Guardian (2016-09-13). "In the meantime, here is a good rule of thumb for overenthusiastic men on Twitter to follow: if she’s wearing a Nasa spacesuit, take a minute to consider whether you really want to tell her how to do her job."

Why You Shouldn’t Label People “Low Performers”, by Ryan W. Quinn for the Harvard Business Review (2016-09-14). In general, labeling is a cognitive distortion. In specific, this article talks about why labeling employees as "good" or "bad" workers undermines an organization.

The Collective Gaslighting of the Trigger Warning Debate, by Miri (Brute Reason) for The Orbit (2016-09-13). "If people are telling you that they are trying to engage with trauma-related material and you insist that they’re actually saying that they want to avoid it–or literally ban it from being taught–you are gaslighting them. You are insisting that you know better than they do what’s inside their own heads. You are pretending that they said something other than what they actually said, making them doubt their own thoughts and words."

Real Talk: Women in Tech and Money, by Cate Huston (2016-09-15). "...if you know that part your career is likely to be over within ten years, you (if you are sensible) factor that into your financial planning. Looking at the data, it makes sense for women in tech to do the same."


tim: Tim with short hair, smiling, wearing a black jacket over a white T-shirt (Default)
Tim Chevalier

January 2017

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