Friday, May 30, 2014

Weekend Reading: The Seemingly Intractable Problems Edition

Who wants to read about all the problems we can't seem to get our acts together to fix? You do! Or at least, I did- and I gathered a bunch of links for you.

First up, Jelani Cobb continues the discussion about America's poor record of racism in a post at the New Yorker. He makes a good point about how we fight every advance towards justice until at some point we pivot to claim the advance as proof that the problems are in the past. He said it better than that, though, so just go read what he wrote.

N. K. Jemisin gave a powerful speech calling on us to fight bigotry. She is talking about the sci-fi and fantasy community, but her words resonate beyond that.

Arthur Chu wrote a devastating critique of the misogynistic aspects of geek culture. If you have somehow missed reading this, go and read it now. It is really well done, and my only complaint about it is that I had forgotten that creepy scene in Revenge of the Nerds but now I remember it again. Ick.

Kate Harding has a well-written and somewhat terrifying look at the men's right activists and pick up artists and the guys who have just absorbed some of their screwed up ideas as they have leaked out into the broader culture. As she says: "It's not all men. But golly, it's a depressing number of men."

It’s not all men, but golly, it’s a depressing number of men. - See more at:
It’s not all men, but golly, it’s a depressing number of men. - See more at:
It’s not all men, but golly, it’s a depressing number of men. - See more at:
It’s not all men, but golly, it’s a depressing number of men. - See more at:
It’s not all men, but golly, it’s a depressing number of men. - See more at:
Let's not forget the guns! And the disgusting, intimidating tactics of some open carry advocates. And the way the extremists are working to keep smart guns off the market.

Here's a sliver of good news about one problem- some people are starting to take online harassment seriously, and are figuring out ways to curtail it in their online communities.

I'm not sure what to make of this one: an essay by a very thin woman about what it takes to be that thin. I really appreciate Alana Massey's honesty in this, but admit I am a bit horrified by what she is describing, and a lot horrified by the behavior of the men she describes. So I guess there's a good reason not to want to be super thin- I'd apparently become attractive to a disturbing group of men. Although, are they really any worse than the men I've run into who are just into me for my bra size? It is hard to say. Ugh.

I'm sure I have more good things in my Twitter favorites- which, incidentally, is where a lot of my weekend links come from, so if you ever want to read more things, you can always go browse there directly. Keep in mind, though, that I favorite things that I want to come back to read as well as things I have read and liked. So it will be a bit uneven.

I'm going to stop here for the night, though, and go hang out with Mr. Snarky. And since I gave you a bunch of depressing links this week, have a delightful Doctor Who-Rocky Horror Picture Show mashup, too:


  1. Anonymous8:25 AM

    Haha, my thought was *exactly* the same as yours on that thin essay. If that's the kind of man that unnaturally thin attracts (because her details of how she stays thin are unnatural, not shaming anybody who has a low BMI given a healthy lifestyle), then wouldn't one want to put on a few extra pounds just to screen out the douchecanoes? Seems easier than having to go on a few dates with them or to sleep with them to find out they're jerks, and you don't have to pretend all you want to eat is iceberg lettuce when you're out for lunch.

    Great links this week and my entire family huddled around the computer to watch the Dr. Who RHPS mashup.

    1. She said in the essay that she thought there were benefits to being a size 0 beyond the fact that more men were interested in her, but she didn't say what those were. I doubt I'd trade cheeseburgers and beer for them, though.

    2. Anonymous2:01 PM

      I noticed that as well, and that she didn't say what they are, but I'm also fairly sure they wouldn't fadge in my field either where it doesn't hurt to be a bit dumpy. Being skinny (and made up) is possibly more important in creative fields or something.

      I also have a problem with the "You didn't eat that" mentality as I've known a few people who really are that skinny without trying and they get harassed about their weight too (by the "go eat a sandwich" crowd). Some people really do just have high metabolisms, and sometimes people have unpleasant or even dangerous health conditions that cause excessive skinniness. Personally I prefer to do my best to try not judge people at all by what they weigh, overweight or underweight. I'm willing to bet there's more people who are naturally underweight who really do eat burgers than there are people who pretend to eat burgers so they'll be sexier to men. I didn't even know that was a *thing*. But I do know people who have thyroid conditions, IBS, unexplained infertility, and what their doctors think are regular healthy lifestyles they just don't put on weight. Men too.

    3. Yes! I agree about the metabolism bit. One of my good friends in college was always trying to gain weight, and she got a lot of grief from people about being "too thin." I don't think there is too thin/too fat so much as there is healthy/unhealthy. And even a lifestyle like the essay described- eh, fine, if that's what you want. It didn't sound unhealthy so much as unpleasant and like she now attracted a really obnoxious sort of man. She would probably look at my lifestyle and think it was horrible. I have to admit that the cheeseburgers aren't so great health-wise.

  2. Anonymous2:00 PM

    I feel like I've been on the opposite trajectory as Alana in that I am naturally thin, but because I don't do anything dedicated to maintain weight, have gone from being unusually thin in my 20s to normal thin in my mid-30s. I have no idea what advantages she's finding in being very thin that make her want to sacrifice so much to maintain her weight there. I experienced no noticeably better treatment in my sub-110 20s. If I can think of any difference, it's that I don't get dismissed as little and cute as much or have as much tension with other women, and I think both those things are more age/marriage related than weight gain related (and also, those are pluses!)

    -- Miriam.

  3. I'm with Miriam. At 5'11, I've never been below 110, but I weighed 126 all through my 20s (pregnancies where I gained 30 lbs each time and was back to normal in a month or so. I gained 5 pounds the year I turned 30, and another 5 at the next birthday.

    I would rather that trend not continue. Part of it has to do with identity part with an wardrobe I've invested in. I would say that my weight is 90% metabolism and 10% dislike of things like mayonnaise. When I eat a burger, it has a couple of hundred calories less than the menu reflects. Compound those types of decisions over a lifetime of habits and I think it does make a difference.

    As far as men go, there are good ones out there who treat thin women with respect. The trick is being more than defined by your weight. I would guess that the same thing goes for all body types b


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