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Sunday News Round-Up, Sunburn Edition

February 27, 2011

A bit of what I’ve been reading this week, when I haven’t been outside getting a mild sunburn. In February.

Via fellow librarian Bobbie Newman, I learned of this piece, “The Hazards of Leading Culture Change” (click on the download link for the PDF). It’s kind of oriented toward businesses/organizations instead of movements/activism, but there were a few points I thought were relevant:

“When you are up to your backside in alligators,” goes the oft-quoted line, “it is hard to remember you were there to drain the swamp.” Organizations under pressure are fraught with alligators-those seemingly never ceasing crises that keep leaders up at night. But, if all the energy goes into simply fighting alligators, there will always be alligators. Culture change is about focusing on source, not symptom—cause, not contest.

the illusion of advancement is far worse than none at all

Three turtles sat on a log in the edge of the swamp. One decided to jump in. How many are now on the log? Nope, there are still three. Deciding and doing are not the same thing.

Culture change is hard work and requires enormous patience. Many leaders are by nature impatient people who think results can be produced with the snap of a finger and completed by the end of the week. Culture change takes a long time because it is complex and disruptive. Culture change involves unlearning old habits and acquiring new ways of thinking and behaving.

Lunapads has a couple of suggestions For the Bookworm On Her Period.

The New Black Woman asks, Why are white feminists silent on Limbaugh’s attacks on FLOTUS? Apparently Limbaugh criticized what Michelle Obama was eating on a trip (while completely misrepresenting her nutrition message, of course), and basically called her fat, saying she “does not project the image of women that you might see on the cover of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue.”

Honestly, I don’t pay any attention to Limbaugh. His comments are clearly problematic because, at the very least, they misrepresent her message (hello, healthy eating does not mean you never ever eat anything unhealthy – it means awareness, better choices most of the time, and balance – not “roots and tree bark” as Limbaugh suggested), they put him in the position of policing what she eats and looks like, and they hold up an unreasonable (and not even real; Limbaugh, meet photoshop) standard and call it “healthy.” They basically say, “if she’s not an object of sexual desire in my estimation, her opinions aren’t valid.” And that, my friends, is utter bullshit.

Renee at Womanist Musings has more on this issue, and writes:

There is nothing about her physical body that needs to change, and the fact that she isn’t willing to starve herself, or engage in harmful eating practices to attain a figure that is unnatural for her, sends a positive message to young girls and more specifically young girls of colour, that they are fine they way they are.

I have to say, too, that I’ve also been troubled by the comments that are basically, “Limbaugh’s fat, so he can’t say anything.” No, if Michelle Obama were saying everybody should try to eat better and she was eating ribs for breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day, Limbaugh could say something. No matter his size, no matter how much we might dislike him. But that is not the case. I don’t think the way to respond to body size policing is with more body size policing. Let me be 100% clear that this is not in any way to defend Limbaugh. I think his comments were crap. But I think that if people are going to respond to his crap comments, the way to do it is to criticize the substance, not to attack another body. It just sounds like some version of “so’s your mom” – and doesn’t get us anywhere.

Also on body image, Marianne at The Rotund has this to say:

“Real women have curves” was a marketing slogan thought up to sell people overpriced, ill-fitting pants. It does NOT promote body positivity – it only perpetuates body policing by turning the tables on people who don’t fit into yet another arbitrary ideal.

The job is to BUST THE FUCKING PARADIGM APART, not shift it a little bit toward the fat side. The job is to remind people, bodies are not public property and your opinion about an individual’s body is only an opinion, not a valid judgment of their worth as a human being. The JOB is to destroy systemic oppression of nonconforming, rebellious bodies no matter what those bodies look like.

Trans woman Tyra Trent was found murdered in Baltimore, reminding us once again of the violence trans women and men are too often subjected to. The Baltimore Sun covered the story, but included several quotes from Trent’s family members calling her “he,” and a cousin used the word “flaunt.” Tyra was also called a “sex worker” in the piece, while the same piece notes she had not been arrested since 2008. Argh. Other coverage, were it exists, is no better.

The Vanderbilt Medical School is hosting its annual LGBT health week this year from March 14-19. Overall it looks more LG than T, although Friday’s “Case Presentations in Adolescent Hormonal Therapy” might be relevant to trans health (no additional description is available at the moment – here’s the site).

I don’t think there’s a chance in hell this Georgia bill will hold up, but here it is. HB 1 would make “prenatal murder” illegal/a felony. It excludes “naturally occurring expulsion of a fetus known medically as a ‘spontaneous abortion’ and popularly as a ‘miscarriage’ so long as there is no human involvement whatsoever in the causation of such event.” Most miscarriages are unexplainable and so it would be impossible to prove that there was absolutely no human involvement in it. There is a lot of scientific debate about what may or may not increase a woman’s risk of miscarriage, so that’s a huge potential can of worms that could criminalize the smallest of everyday choices, not only abortion. Aside from which, there is necessarily human involvement, given that a fetus resides *inside* another human! It also defines a fetus as a person from “the moment of conception” (nevermind that at conception, it’s not a fetus. biology, whatever!). Amie and Jill at RHRC have more.

I haven’t watched them yet so I can’t say anything about them, but Dr. Nicholas Fogelson (Academic ob/gyn) has provided video of a recent talk he did on delayed cord clamping.

Next time I wonder why people call out online feminism for ageism, I’m going to remind myself that somebody who is 32 said she should pull back in order to make sure there was “a place for younger feminists to build their careers and platforms.” Okay, then. Kathy at Her Five Dollar Radio brings this up and asks “what you do “graduate” to when you feel you’ve aged out of the feminist blogosphere?” Over 30 as “old” is a huge problem; so’s the focus on “careers and platforms” instead of social change.

Things to learn more about: “The Native Women’s Association of Canada reports that 582 indigenous women and girls have disappeared or were murdered over the last five years.” For a U.S. update, the Seattle Weekly points to a new federal task force set up to address violence against native women. Here’s the press release from the Justice Department.

The New York Times has an editorial on recent abortion and family planning-focused legislation, The War on Women.

From libraryland, library folks are talking this week about Harper Collins’s completely absurd approach to ebooks.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. March 2, 2011 10:37 am

    This very, very old feminist was struck by the importance of pungent line in your post, BUST THE FUCKING PARADIGM APART. I think that’s been missing in the past, oh, 30 years or so of defending a woman’s right to choose. I never expected that Republican women in Wyoming would upend the patriarchy–but there you are. Thanks to Rachel Maddow, we got to see and hear them– http://maddowblog.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2011/03/01/6163022-tonight-small-government-republicans-win-a-culture-war?pc=25&sp=25

    • March 5, 2011 1:46 pm

      Naomi, I saw that, too! Thanks for sharing the link, I caught it briefly on tv and haven’t had time to look it up online or share it.

  2. March 22, 2011 9:31 am

    I had my own version of that quote, in story form –

    Sometimes you come into a situation full of energy, ready to change the world. Initially your power gets you through any resistance, and you’re unaware of any problems. Week by week, you notice that your feet are dragging, and in fact are in mud. Over time every step you take gets harder and harder, as more resistance is brought to bear against your efforts. The resistance becomes tremendous over time. One day you realize that where once you were full of energy and optimism, now the only thing you can think of is getting out of the mud.

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