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Feministing says goodbye

I just found out that Feministing is closing up shop. And the reason why is close to my heart. From their goodbye post:

“As digital media has become corporatized, many independent news sites and blogs have been forced to shutter. As the New York Times reports today, unfortunately, we find ourselves among these. While we became more financially sustainable over the years—in large part thanks to the support of readers like you!—we ultimately couldn’t build a long-term funding model in today’s media environment that would allow us to compensate our team fairly for their valuable work.”

The corporatization and convergence of both print and digital media have narrowed the perspectives represented as “mainstream” over the last several decades. Social media have, of course, arisen to offer an even greater variety of perspectives, but they do so without the oversight of journalist integrity that made independent media sources so important.

I’m very sad to lose Feministing as a site to read.

Screenshot showing Feministing's blog post about why they're shutting down


The election, blaming, and emotional labor

In the wake of last week’s presidential election, I’ve been thinking a lot about emotional labor. Many of the posts I see on my social media accounts are about blame. I understand this as an initial reaction–I think it’s fascinating to figure out what messages resonated with which voters based on turnout–but I’m really struggling with some people’s sustained obsession with casting blame. In particular, I’ve seen many people blaming women.

Let me just repeat that and be a bit more specific. Liberals are blaming women–especially white women–for the outcome of this election.

I’ve had liberal friends talk about how white women handed Trump the election. I’ve had them tell me that straight women aren’t politically conscious and just listen to their husbands to decide who to vote for. I’ve had them tell me (simultaneously!) that white women won’t be affected by the things people fear from a Trump presidency and also that they don’t understand how women could vote for him given the ways he treats women.

And I have just one question. Why are we so obsessed with holding women accountable? A whopping 63% of white men voted for Trump, compared to 52% of white women. College-educated white women were the only white demographic group I’ve seen reported on who didn’t break for Trump (though admittedly by only a few points). About 33% of Latino men voted for Trump as well as 13% of Black men; both of those numbers are significantly higher than women in the same ethnic groups.

Liberals blaming women for Trump’s election–while utterly failing to hold men, especially white men, accountable in any way–is a symptom of the very same sorts of rhetorics that scapegoat women for unwanted pregnancies, discriminatory pay practices, and domestic abuse situations.

Clearly, as a white woman, I have a stake in this argument. But on top of the scapegoating behavior I’ve described above, I’ve also found myself being asked to do emotional labor for others–often others who have more privilege than I do–even while being blamed. And I’ve seen this happening to other people, too–consistently and powerfully. The article I’ve linked below (“50 Ways People Expect Constant Emotional Labor From Women and Femmes”) is, I think, instructive. Here are a few of the problematic patterns it notes, with direct quotes in standard texts and my additions in italics:

  • 2. Friends offload their problems – sometimes serious problems that we’re not equipped to handle – onto us before we have agreed to talk about them, often expecting an immediate response or requiring that we engage with the things that are bothering them specifically, and with no acknowledgment that we are also struggling.
  • 7. If we are in professions that involve interactions with people, those we serve expect us to act as their therapists and to be on call at all times (see above) even in the midst of our own crises.
  • 11 & 12. We have to justify decisions … again, and again, and again, while watching others make the same decisions we are punished for with no repercussions whatsoever
  • 30. We’re expected to keep the peace with our cohabitants under all conditions, even if this means sacrificing ourselves for the sake of others’ emotional and mental health and self-interest
  • 33. In the workplace, we have to worry about presenting our ideas in a non-threatening manner but also in a way that allows us to claim credit for our labor when someone else, inevitably, discredits or colonizes it.

I hope that those struggling to make sense of the world today might, in the future, do a better job of doing so in ways that value cooperation, shared accountability, and intelligent inquiry. I, for one, am about to start holding myself accountable for intervening in patterns of woman-blaming when I hear them.

50 Ways People Expect Constant Emotional Labor from Women and Femmes

Free college? How about accessible college.

Making college free was a big topic early in this presidential campaign season, though it’s faded a little bit now. Feministing has recently published a story called “Making college free won’t fix my problems with academia” by Barbara Sostaita. In this piece, Sostaita explains how the cost of college is “only the first obstacle low-income and students of color face in our academic journeys.” She discusses the (many, many) cultural barriers, including campus buildings with overtly racist names, policies with sexist and racist histories, alienation through perpetuation of model minority narratives, lack of diversity in faculty, and more.

I think this might be the smartest article I’ve read on the subject of free college.

I’m not a proponent of free college, myself. (But affordable, accessible college–certainly!) I could give you a whole list of reasons why, but that’s not the point. The more important takeaway here is that the cultural barriers Sostaita describes are elitist, racist, sexist. These barriers are very, very wrong and very, very real. Instead of focusing on free college, perhaps we should focus on creating productive environments for students who are already at university and are struggling because they don’t see people like themselves in the faculty, because they’re facing an onslaught of microaggressions every day, because the system is built against them. Let’s start there.

Read Sostaita’s full story here


Inclusive Syllabi

This site is fantastic for thinking about syllabus design–definitely re-visiting it when it’s time to plan fall classes! The whole thing demonstrates the importance of this statement: “Accessibility cannot be an afterthought and it cannot be assumed.”



Being an ally

In the wake of the horrific events at Pulse in Orlando this weekend, I’ve been trying to be thoughtful about ways to be a good ally to my LGBTQI friends. The list below is compiled from several lists I’ve read as well as ideas from friends. This list is ordered in a way that makes sense to me, but I think different actions and priorities will make sense and work better for different people. In other words, this isn’t a directive, but it might be helpful–it’s been helpful to me in thinking through this.

  1. Shut up and listen. I am not the victim here; it is not my time to talk. I will try to be an ally without taking rhetorical space from my LGBTQI friends. Many who are hurting right now need someone to hear them.
  2. Speak up when appropriate. If I witness someone doing something homophobic or sexist or otherwise mean/inappropriate, I have an obligation to say that this behavior is not okay with me. It contributes to a culture where things like Orlando happen.
  3. Pay attention to affiliations. Religious, political, commercial, whatever. I will be paying close attention to the rhetoric and actions of any church I attend and any politician I am thinking of voting for, and I will not support people or institutions who engage in hate.
  4. Stay focused on the real issues and work to have hard conversations. A friend recently posted this WSJ project that juxtaposes items from “liberal” and “conservative” Facebook feeds to demonstrate how social media can function as an echo chamber that tells users what they want to hear. I will, instead, seek information from many perspectives and try to engage people with a diversity of opinions. (Check it out:
  5. Respond to physical needs as well as emotional ones. If you see a friend suffering, check in to make sure they’re okay. Take them out for lunch, or make a dinner to drop off. Here’s a practical one: Give blood. Since Red Cross policies prevent many queer men from giving blood, this is a need that feels (and is) especially real right now.