Monday, November 30, 2015

Very Important Update

I'm Twittering again (Fannie Wolfe @fanniesroom).

I'm still not sure it's the medium for me, given my tendency toward being verbose and getting into prolonged Internet discussions with trolls that, like, no one else actually cares about.

But, blog things are always slow around the holidays, so I suspect I'll be doing lots of lurking around the Internet and possibly occasional tweeting until after the New Year's.

This critical post was brought to you by Beca's sexual confusion in Pitch Perfect 2 (via today's featured fan video).  In case you're wondering, I'm experiencing no sexual confusion about any of that.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Quotes of the Day

An conversation between Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Gloria Steinem?  Yes, please.

Just try to mostly ignore the male moderator.  At one point he references the blatant discrimination Ginsburg faced when law firms refused to hire her after she graduated from law school at Columbia first in her class. He says:
"You remind me of my grandmother’s line: Rejection is the best thing that can happen. It pushes us. There might not be a Ms. magazine or Notorious R.B.G. without it."
Hmmm, categorizing systemic discrimination against millions of women as simple "rejection" that "pushes us" to do better?  Gloria Steinem for the win:
"But there might not be a need for a woman’s magazine, and there might be a court that actually looks like the country. There’s no virtue in injustice."
Later, when talking about gender roles and marriage, Ginsburg makes a salient point about marriage equality's legacy to the women's rights movement:
"It’s a facet of the gay rights movement that people don’t think about enough. Why suddenly marriage equality? Because it wasn’t until 1981 that the court struck down Louisiana’s 'head and master rule,' that the husband was head and master of the house. Marriage was a relationship between the dominant, breadwinning husband and the subordinate, child-rearing wife. What lesbian or gay man would want that?"
In all, the interaction between Ginsburg and Steinem during the conversation is great, as they build each other up and compliment one another throughout.

Early on, the moderator asks Ginsburg if she was a Ms. reader, after which she responded, " I certainly was. From the first issue. I thought it was wonderful."  Later, Ginsburg mentions working on a book about civil procedure in Sweden, and Steinem chimes in: "For which she learned Swedish. Is that not incredible?"

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Yes or No

Fannie's Room should implement comment moderation in the voice of Blaine the Mono from Stephen's King's Dark Tower series?

Okay, I kid, it's just that I'm about a quarter of the way through Wizard and Glass.  And, as I was reading it, I was thinking that it could be entertaining to deal with trolls and abusive commenters with comments like, "YOU ARE BEING VERY IRRITATING AND RUDE." Or, when banning people, to say, "SEE YOU LATER ALLIGATOR AFTER WHILE CROCODILE DON'T FORGET TO WRITE."

And, of course, the primo retort for when people inevitably come back sock-puppeting or directly emailing me: "TOUGHT TITTY SAID THE KITTY."

Every now and then, Little Blaine would chime in with a, "Ohh, you better watch out, you're making her mad."

Ahhh, fun times.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Writer Participation/Moderation As an Ethical Duty?

[Content note: Transphobia]

Sociological Images is a blog I've long admired, read, and (at times) participated in via the comment section.

The comment section there has often had its share of anti-feminist/anti-LGBT/anti-progressive commenters, which I've engaged with.

As part of my somewhat-regular series on blogging and civility, today I want to raise the topic of what responsibilities a blog forum and/or an individual writer might have with respect to comment moderation. By "responsibility" I'm not referring to a legal responsibility, but more of an ethical one. Although blogging is no longer a new practice, I don't think standard practices or thoughts really exist.

What raised this topic, for me, was Lisa Wade's recent post drawing parallels between the practice of using fear-mongering about white women's safety to justify both racist and transphobic discrimination with respect to restrooms.  

As of the time I'm writing this post, 31 comments follow the post, with about half of them being opposed to allowing transgender individuals to determine for themselves which restrooms they should use. About half are in favor of transgender self-determination, and a few are the typical oddball non sequitur comments of the type to be expected following virtually any post anywhere on Internet.

On principle, I'm not opposed to discussions that people consent to enter into about controversial topics, even if by having those discussions it may suggest that a matter of human dignity should be a debatable topic. Even if the person being argued with isn't convinced in that instance to change their mind, witnesses to the conversation sometimes are.

What is more troubling, to me, is tolerating commentary that is solely abusive, without the blogowner/blogger addressing it, such as:
"Trans women are males." 
Like, that's it. That's the person's entire comment. Deep thoughts with "Imelda B." Being a conclusion without an argument, it doesn't contribute significantly to the discourse, engage the original post, or do anything other than inflict more abuse on trans people.

Now, Lisa Wade is an academic and my experience with some academics who blog is that they don't often engage in comment sections following their posts (and I don't think I've ever seen her engage in the comments of any of her posts, but I can't say for certain whether that's happened ever). I experienced a similar phenomenon as a guest blogger at Family Scholars Blog (before Anna, Barry, and I broke it with our progressiveness, HA HA JUST KIDDING!!!), which would grant space to various academics to post articles. Only very rarely would most of these academics participate in the sometimes-very-active (and quite contentious) discussion threads that their posts generated.

I have no idea why, and this is only my experience - and I do know that comment moderation and participating in online discussions take time and resources. So, perhaps that's the issue. Whatever the case, I find that when academics blog, they often treat the practice as though its more akin to a writing a news article (after which journalists rarely engage in comment threads) than a blog post.

However, as I wrote in the comment thread at Sociological Images, I would argue that it's somewhat irresponsible/troubling to post topics about marginalized members of society such as trans* individuals (particularly if one is not a member of that group) and then to stand back (as in, not participate in the broader discussion, and not moderate comments) when a sort of "anything goes" commentary about that group is going on, much of which, yes, actually is abusive toward that group.

I'm not wedded to my opinions at this point, and would enjoy some broader perspectives on this issue.  Lots of people have lots of different opinions on comment moderation, as it's something that's really hard to do well - and as a blogger myself, I'm sensitive to that.

I think what is irking me is when writers bring up a controversial issue that seriously impacts people's lives and then ghosting when people talk about it like complete jerks. As I often feel during conversations with anti-gay individuals, I think there can be substantial class and privilege aspects to starting discussions when they are, from the writer's perspective, purely theoretical/abstract rather than lived.

Does the academic becomes less an educator and more an instigator of, well, an online discussion forum where any opinion is welcome to the table merely because someone has one?

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Judge Disrupts Home Life of Child in Foster Care, Because Heterosexism

Can we get a big, loud *slow clap* for Team Bigotry?

According to Utah's Division of Child and Family Services (via Deseret News), a judge has ordered the removal of a 1-year-old child from the home of her lesbian foster parents.  

Rather than basing his decision on the content of the couple's parenting skills, the judge, Scott Johansen, purportedly based his decision on their sexual orientation.  In so doing, the various news accounts I've read claim that he referenced, but did not specifically cite, "studies" allegedly showing that heterosexual parents were "better" than same-sex parents (scare quotes mine). 

(Hmm, I wonder if Johansen had read the widely-discredited Regnerus study?)

The two women had the support of the child's biological mother to be foster parents, and Utah DCFS director Brent Platt is quoted in the Deseret article as follows:
"'There weren't any concerns about the family and no concerns about the placement, it sounds like [the judge] has concerns overall with same-sex couples being foster parents.'
Hoagland and Peirce have met every DCFS requirement to become licensed foster parents, including routine reviews with the division while they have been caring for the child, according to Platt. If the girl would have become eligible for adoption and the couple had expressed interest in taking her, the division intended to support them, he noted.
'It's my understanding they have a couple of older children, these are experienced parents," Platt said. 'As far as we're concerned, it was an appropriate placement. It was a placement that worked for the kid and worked for the family, so we were surprised the judge issued that order.'"
The child has been living with the couple for 3 months, and the judge has ordered her removal within a week to an as-yet-unidentified family.  Thus further disrupting the child's life. You know, because outcomes.

From her much-lauded 2014 dissent to the 6th Circuit opinion that upheld same-sex marriage bans, Judge Martha Daughtry's quote regarding the illogic of anti-gay advocacy seems apt:
"How ironic that irresponsible, unmarried, opposite-sex couples in the Sixth Circuit who produce unwanted offspring must be 'channeled' into marriage and thus rewarded with its many psychological and financial benefits, while same-sex couples who become model parents are punished for their responsible behavior by being denied the right to marry."
And, apparently, the ability to be foster parents. (Although I want to be careful to note that in this particular case, we do not know the circumstances of the biological parents. Unlike the "pro-family" crowd, I think people put their children up for adoption for a myriad of reasons, only one of which might be "irresponsibility.")

The facts about "pro-family" actually being pro-family speak for themselves.

Whether they're promoting fraudulent "ex-gay therapy" that does more harm than good, ripping children from stable homes, or running dehumanizing smear campaigns to deny trans* people access to bathrooms, Traditional Family Warriors ("TFWs"- let's make it a thing) so often prioritize their own selfish bigotries and prejudices over the actual best interests of children.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Welp, This Is Everything

I sporadically watch SVU these days, but back in the day I shipped Olivia/Alex pretty hard.  I still think Cabot was the best DA on the show.

And also, it's too bad Liz Lemon wasn't bisexual, because Gretchen Thomas was probably the best potential partner who came her way. Good god, Lemon.

Here is your courtesy fan video of the week.  I would watch the hell out of this movie.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Nolite te Bastardes Carborundorum

Say what you will of Andrea Dworkin, but she was spot on in Right-Wing Women that a world in which women's lives were valued only insofar as they engaged in childbearing would be a very scary place for women.

In such a world, women without children would be deemed "not worth much." Their lives pointless.

Why do I bring up this book from 1983?

When in Rome, I suppose.

Over at his blog, conservative Christian Rod Dreher cruelly shares his opinion on the worth of women's lives.  I find a small satisfaction, I suppose, when non/anti-feminists just sort of come right out and say these things.  While some conservative writers keep their repugnant thoughts just below the surface, there's nothing like a "telling it like it is" dude to keep feminists like me from getting too complacent in our victories.

Writing of Gloria Steinem's dedication of her recent book to the doctor who performed her abortion many decades ago, Dreher writes:
"To be 81 years old, to publish a memoir, and to dedicate it to the doctor who killed your unborn child in your womb — what a sad waste of life. Two lives. That dedication is an epitaph and an indictment."

NEWFLASH: The Handmaid's Tale was a dystopian novel. Dystopian.

But seriously, if someone of Steinem's accomplishments has wasted her life (and Dreher gets to be the judge of this, because.... umm?) then there is absolutely no hope for the rest of us. Although, over at his blog, there really seems to be no woman, trans person, or "SJW" who is too large or small for Dreher to mock or judge (just like Jesus would do, I'm sure).

What gets me is not Dreher's mean, judgmental tendencies - those, after all, are so expected from a conservative Christian as to be unremarkable. It's the attitude that because a feminist woman's morals differ from his own, she either completely lack morals altogether or, alternately, cannot possibly have lived a useful, meaningful life.

I stand opposite Dreher on many issues, but I would never assume that I have authority to dismiss his entire life's work (or his life, for that matter). Indeed, as some feminist theologians have theorized that male-centric religions such as Christianity mimic and misappropriate a birthing process that men are fundamentally envious of, so too does this your life was pointless since you didn't live by my Christian morals mentality mimic and misappropriate abortion, of sorts.

With one fell swoop, a man deigns to erase a woman's life as "wasted." As though he has that power.  Such is the entitlement that Christianity imbues in some men.

To end, Dreher himself has been promoting his own "teachings" about conservative Christians voluntarily isolating themselves from a SJW-laden, secular society that they can no longer live in since the laws don't replicate/enforce their values upon everyone else. I guess the kindest thought I can share on that front at the moment is good riddance, don't let the door hit ya, etc.