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The Politics of Not

15 Oct

 

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From “The Sneetches,” by Dr. Seuss

I was thinking today about how much of politics seems to center around what we’d like people to believe we’re not. “We’re not abusers,” that’s a big one. “We’re not like those people.” We’re not overly restrictive, we’re not overly lax. We’re not extremists, we’re not like those who say we are extremists.

Or people may not eat meat, or not eat various and sundry other foods. If we are women, we may want to be thought not to be women who submit to men, or maybe even we would like to say we are not even women, though we know that when it gets right down to it, you are what you are.

But what you are seems less important all the time in this culture. With the Internet, we have a whole new set of ways to explore appearing to be what we’re not, or alternately, if we are less ambitious, to merely trumpet our not-being in various venues. People I am less well acquainted with may inform the world at large that they are not suffering from various social phobias. A more advanced form involves announcing you’re not into purity politics, this latter being seen as an essentialist way of saying what one is not.

Our love of announcing what we’re not is making it seem odd and old-fashioned and perhaps even suspect when people write about what they are. What’s their agenda? we ask ourselves. What are they hiding? Or, even better: Why are they like we are not? We shall have something to say about this. And we do.

So, little by little, what we are disappears behind closed doors, into our more interior landscapes, and our public life turns into endless warfare between various Nots. And this we call activism.

 

 

 

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The Glasgow School Sisters who Influenced Klimt

14 Oct

#womensart ♀

Despite being central to the “Glasgow style” of art, influential in the expansion of the Art Nouveau movement, sisters Margaret (1864-1933) and Frances MacDonald (1873-1921) were both born in England. The MacDonald family, however, moved to Scotland when the girls were still young.

marg selfMargaret MacDonald

Due to their privileged upper-middle class background, Margaret and Frances received a rare female broad education in subjects ranging from Latin to science from a pioneering school for girls. After their earlier schooling, in the early 1890’s the sisters then enrolled at the Glasgow School of Art. Unlike many places of education, which still restricted and excluded on the basis of sex, the Glasgow School was described as providing a more “enlightened” space for women artists. Here the sisters and their fellow females were allowed to work towards a career in art by studying a variety of mediums, from textiles and embroidery to painting and…

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Gwich’in prepare for another battle to stop drilling in caribou calving grounds

14 Oct

Warrior Publications

8885949_web1_171011_anwr_caribou The Porcupine caribou herd in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). (Peter Mather/petermather.com)

‘A way of life is going to be destroyed if you do this’

by Lori Fox, Yukon News, October 11, 2017

Lorraine Netro’s eyes filled with tears. She folded and unfolded her hands nervously, broke them apart and tugged at the edge of her brightly-printed scarf.

“It’s just very hard to find the words to talk about,” she said. “I get very emotional.”

“We have a spiritual connection to the caribou. The caribou sustains our way of life, they sustain our spirit and our soul.”

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Organizing and Nonprofits

12 Oct

A few thoughts on this.

1. If you ask people for money, either organizationally or as an individual, say thank you. The more you personalize this the more effective it will be. People love feeling valued and appreciated. They will forgive you for a multitude of sins if you do this for them.
2. Don’t organize as a nonprofit that runs an enterprise unless there is some clear financial benefit to doing so. If you work on your own or as a private enterprise or club, your reporting obligations will be many fewer and public expectations much less as well. Nonprofits are commonly suspected of being up to no good and expected to be completely transparent, even beyond legal requirements. If you look like you’re hiding anything people will hang you with it whether you deserve it or not. Do not assume the public in general understands how nonprofits work. There is a tendency to believe that the nonprofit just collects money and the people running it pay themselves tax-free. There is also a tendency to believe there is money hidden. Even if you are completely transparent people will want to argue with you about the money because it makes them feel more involved. Find better ways for them to be involved. An overly passive membership will not feel the same kind of commitment and involvement and will be more likely to devote themselves to power plays.
3. It is okay to have paid staff. It may be a big improvement on overworked and cranky volunteer managers. But again, people will want to know who they are paying and what their responsibilities are and how accountable the paid staff will be.
4. Make your financial statements public. Do this whether you are legally required to or not. Publish profit and loss and income statements, not just lists of things. See number 2.
5. If this all sounds too overwhelming, don’t organize as a nonprofit. Sole proprietorships and clubs and other less formal groups can do lots of good work and public perception of them involves much less suspicion. And gift income to individuals is tax-free up to a certain point. But even if you don’t organize as a non-prof, even if there are security reasons that preclude financial transparency, see number 1.

Pronouns – The *Real* Problem…

11 Oct

Powerful meme.

Dead Wild Roses

Yep. Women got 99 problems and worrying about pronoun use shouldn’t be one of them.

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QotD: India’s female students say ‘to hell with it, we won’t stand for molesting and Eve-teasing’

8 Oct

Anti-Porn Feminists

The first time Shivangi Choubey missed the curfew at her student hostel was a night in late September. It was not the only rule she broke that day.

Women students at Banaras Hindu University are not supposed to protest. Many are made to sign a contract that spells this out explicitly. Men are not required to sign anything of the kind.

Nor, at many hostels on campus, are women served meat, permitted to speak on the phone after 10pm, or allowed out in the evenings when their male counterparts still roam the tree-lined campus on sputtering two-wheelers or cram into the library to study.

So it was especially shocking – and unprecedented in the university’s 100-year history – when Choubey led 200 women through the gates of their college to join hundreds of others assembled outside Lanka gate, the campus’s bustling entrance. “Nobody ever misses a curfew,” she says, pulling…

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Morning

6 Oct

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That Has Such People In It

6 Oct

I think at times about how I am a terrible friend. I don’t ask questions. You are supposed to ask questions, but I don’t know the right questions to ask. I fear I will ask the wrong questions. And then it will be terrible.

So what happens is I wind up just asking odd questions that make it be about me. And that’s wrong. That doesn’t work.

But on the Internet, we show ourselves differently, so that makes it harder to know what questions to ask. We cannot ask “You look tired, can I get you something?” We cannot see each other’s immediate beings, and this makes it really hard to know which questions to ask. We cannot see each other crying and know what to do.

All we can do is try to hope that we will somehow know when each other of us are crying, and then, somehow, also get some feeling about what to do about all this pain that we cannot really see, let alone hear.

Whatever we come up with will never be close to enough, and we know that too.

This is our brave new world, they tell us. I think it is the ruins of our old one, just with fancier lighting.

Talking About Erotic Fantasies

4 Oct

If you eroticize patriarchal imperatives, if you act them out materially or in fantasy, what are you doing? I’m not talking about being economically coerced to do so. I’m not talking about wearing makeup so you’ll get better tips while waitressing.

I’m talking about doing it erotically. I’m talking about kink. We like to say kink is somebody else, but how many of us women have really freed ourselves of this coercive culturally induced thing about sexual submission?

I mean, this goes really deep. It’s so easy to get caught up into it, because the culture wants you to so very much. It’s in a way a kind of relief to let yourself get into it.

It also becomes a terribly bad habit, because one gets attached to whatever one is habitually orgasming about.

But it’s more than a bad habit. It’s a kind of alliance with the patriarchy, all this. And when women say it’s therapeutic that’s what makes me so angry, is seeing that it’s about that alliance, that relief in caving to the alliance. It’s not some kind of therapy. It’s not some kind of cool exploration. It is caving to the cruel and brutal desexing driven by the patriarchy, any way you do it, including with each other.

This kind of desexing cannot exist in the same space with non-hierarchal sexuality. It drives real sex right out of the room. They cannot exist in the same space.

And for so many of us, it can be the only way we know how to understand sex, because this was all we were taught.

If we’re lucky, we find some guidance out. And the fact that luck is necessary for so many women, to open ourselves to other possibilities outside of all this coercive ideology, enrages me.

Puerto Rico

1 Oct

I’ve been seeing for some time that what to do about climate refugees is going to wind up being the great moral dilemma, the biggest ethical crisis of this century. I know that’s saying a lot, but everything else plays into it.

Do we just let them die? Do we look for ways to profit, such as trafficking the children?

Do we let this be the culling of the species, this devastation of those who contributed least to the problem?

Or do we turn our heads, go on blindly contributing to the ongoing trashing of this place we live on slightly higher grounds in? And if so, do we really think that is an answer? To what is that an answer?

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