"Challenging racism, sexism, and violence in media"

Welcome to Hell

WELCOME TO HELL
This is an important milestone that women are inviting men to the hell they experience EVERY SINGLE DAY! Join us!

Men are scared after #MeToo? Think what it’s like for women

American men are afraid. They’re fretting over their ability to give a colleague a well-meaning hug without it being interpreted as lecherous, worried that the scores of powerful men being fired is a sign of a full-blown “sex panic”, and that the era of #MeToo is “criminalizing courtship”.

As the women of Saturday Night Live put it: “Welcome to hell, now you’re in our boat.”

You can understand why, during a national reckoning over rape and harassment, women would have a difficult time mustering empathy for men woeful over hugs and dating rituals. We spend our whole lives afraid, but a few months into men not being able to act with sexist impunity and it’s a “witch-hunt”.

If you think #MeToo will change everything, ask your mother if she thought the same thing about Anita Hill allegations in the 1990s
Across the media we’re hearing from men and women about the supposed consequences of the #MeToo moment. Masha Gessen at the New Yorker says the new focus on affirmative consent could “criminalize bad sex”. Geraldo Rivera responded to Matt Lauer’s firing by claiming that society is “criminalizing courtship”. And Bari Weiss at the New York Times, referring to her suspended colleague Glenn Thrush, writes that we’re “criminalizing behavior we previously regarded as presumptuous and boorish”.

Yet no one has gone to jail. No one has been arrested. In fact, no one’s behavior has been “criminalized” even when it appears that it was actually criminal. Harvey Weinstein is accused of decades of abuse, including rape, which he denies, and he jetted to Europe. Lauer, accused of sexual assault, was making $20m a year. Louis CK exposed himself to women, yet no criminal charges have been brought against him.

But as Rebecca Traister put it: “A powerful white man losing a job is a death.” What we’re seeing now is the national funeral.

Tellingly, few expressing fears in this moment are mourning the derailed careers or battered aspirations of countless women who left their jobs and industries after being harassed. No, the real talent lost is male, gone to the same sad graveyard with men’s treasured ability to touch female subordinates without permission or consequence.

If I sound irked, it could be that a lifetime of watching my back has made me a bit testy. Like most American women, I’ve learned – oftentimes through experience – that I am not safe. Women know that they’re at risk whether in the streets, at work, or at home. Soon I’ll have to pass on this knowledge to my daughter, teaching her to walk the line of keeping herself safe while also trying to remain unjaded. (After all, we’re called naive if we don’t protect ourselves, but if the everyday precautions anger us too much, we’re hysterics.)

#MeToo means I can be honest about why I skip office Christmas parties
Jean Hannah Edelstein
Read more
Perhaps the problem is that powerful white men have not been afraid enough. Maybe the incredible sense of entitlement that’s allowed men to treat women so horribly without consequence is something that can be killed – or at least hobbled – with a nice dose of fear. And maybe that fear, even if temporary, will give women a much-needed respite. After all, we don’t even know who we are without that anxiety hanging over our heads; it would be nice to catch a glimpse of the carefree woman we never got to be.
Read more:

Women to Watch: Shanthi Sekaran

Welcome to KQED Arts’ Women to Watch, a series celebrating 20 local women artists, creatives and makers who are pushing boundaries in 2017. Driven by passion for their own disciplines, from photography to comedy and every other medium in between, these women are true vanguards paving the way in their respective communities.

Born and raised in Sacramento to parents who immigrated from India as medical professionals in the 1960s, Shanthi Sekaran finds that her background continually informs her work. Her first novel, The Prayer Room, (MacAdam/Cage; 2009) is the story of Viji, a young Indian woman who marries an American man, moves to Sacramento, gives birth to triplets, and navigates culture clashes as an immigrant in 1974 America.

Sekaran’s second novel, Lucky Boy (Penguin Random House; 2017), opens
Read online

WAGE GAP for Black Women

Black women receive 67 cents to a white man’s dollar.
Casey Quinlan @ Think Progress
Monday is Black Women’s Equal Pay Day, the day that marks when black women are paid the same wages as their white male peers were paid last year. Black women are paid only 67 cents on the dollar relative to non-Hispanic white men, according to analysis from the Economic Policy Institute.
Black women could lose $840,040 over a 40-year career compared to non-Hispanic white men, according to the National Women’s Law Center, and in some states, that wage gap could lead to a loss over $1 million.
According to EPI, the wage gap for black women has only grown worse and black women are working more hours. Looking at the lowest wage workers, the annual hours black women work grew 30.5 percent between 1979 and 2015 compared to a 3.2 percent increase for white men.
Several black female celebrities and politicians brought attention to the pay gap on Monday, including Serena Williams, Tracee Ellis Ross, and Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-NY).
“Black women are the cornerstone of our communities,” Williams tweeted.

The wage gap persists at all levels of education and in all occupations. Black women with advanced degrees still make $7 an hour less than white men who only have a bachelor’s degree and white male physicians and surgeons earn $18 per hour more than black female physicians and surgeons.
There are also significant state differences in the wage gap. Maine, Mississippi, Alabama, Nebraska, South Carolina, District of Columbia, Virginia, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and Missouri all had earnings ratios between white men and black women ranging from 59.7 percent to 55.2 percent. But Louisiana paid black women the worst in comparison to white men, at 46 percent. Black women’s median annual earnings tended to be lowest in southern states.
A 2016 Institute for Women’s Policy Research report shows why racial and ethnic differences in the pay gap tell us much more than simply looking at the pay gap by gender. The report found that the median weekly earnings for black women were $641 across occupations compared to $815 for white women and $1,025 for white men. Black men and Hispanic men made less than white women, at $718 and $633 respectively. Asian men and women had the highest median weekly earnings.
It would take a very long time for black women to reach pay equity with white men, according to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research. Black women would have to wait until 2124 for equal pay if wages continue to change at this slow pace. But policy experts do have suggestions for how to mitigate the wage gap.
Black women are subject to racial and gender biases in higher education, in the labor force, and in housing. Studies have found racial bias in how police use force on black men and women, and too often, police fail to help black women who are victims of crime. In a 96-page report released this year, “The Status of Black Women in the U.S.,” the National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA) and Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) recommended several approaches to improving the financial health and well being of black women. The recommendations included: pursuing criminal justice reform, expanding Medicaid, providing more support to and recruitment of black female political candidates, and raising the minimum wage. The EPI analysis of the wage gap recommends raising the federal minimum wage to $15 by 2024.
Thanks to Adrienne Mahsa Varkiani.
WomenEqualityRacismEconomicsMinimum Wage

New Community Radio for Central Coast

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We have an opportunity to purchase a community radio station serving the Santa Cruz are. The airwaves can reach a potential audience of 152,000 people. We hope to start a new station with public service and localism at its heart. Community radio is relevant because it connects us to one another in an increasingly digital world. The programming will celebrate cultural, political, and artistic voices that are excluded elsewhere. The doors are open for your ideas and creativity to flourish. We have 45 days to raise funds. We need your financial help NOW to secure these licenses for the public good.
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Hole Helped Free Dozens During Pulse Shooting

Orlando police chief John Mina’s decision to blast a hole through an outside wall at Pulse provided an exit for many trapped inside – including the shooter.Police photos issued hours after the Orlando attack show a simple hole in a wall, about 4ft high and 3ft feet wide. It looks unassuming, just a gap in the grey concrete blocks, but for dozens of men and women who had been cowering behind the wall for hours in mortal terror, it was their escape route to survival.

Pulse nightclub attack renews AR-15 rifle debate: would a ban make a difference?
Read more
At about 5am on Sunday morning, three hours into the deadliest mass shooting in US history, Orlando’s police chief, John Mina, made the portentous decision to send in a Swat team and blast a hole through the outside wall of the Pulse night club, where already more than 30 people had been killed and at least another 30 injured by the gunman. “It’s a tough decision to make knowing that people’s lives will be placed in danger,” Mina said on Monday morning, with notable understatement.

It is not known whether any of the hostages were killed in the operation, or if so how many, but for those who got out, Mina’s decision was life-saving. First a controlled explosion was carried out, but when it failed to breach the wall Mina sent in a Bearcat armored vehicle to punch out the hole.

Immediately the floodgates opened. Traumatized club-goers, who had gone to Pulse on Latin night for what they thought would be a life-affirming chance to dance to salsa and merengue but had ended up trapped in a horror sequence, began pouring out.

“We were able to rescue dozens and dozens of people who came out of that hole,” Mina said.
Read full article @ http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/jun/13/pulse-nightclub-hole-wall-hostages
and see how the world mourns the mass shooting in Orlando

The Legal Genital Mutilation for Girls

Why do girls want labiaplasty? They’re told to hate every inch of themselves
By Jessica Valenti
Despite all the feminist progress we’ve made, women and girls are still subject to mixed messages about how their bodies must be perfect

It would almost be easier if there were a specific moment that sparks self-loathing in a young girl. A particularly nasty comment made, maybe. Or an advertisement that inspires just the right amount of doubt in her appearance and forever shifts the way she thinks about herself. If only it were that simple, if there were just one moment we could help our daughters avoid.

The truth is much more complicated – and much more intimate. For all the feminist progress made, there is still a shocking amount of disdain for women’s anatomy when it is not firm, tucked, primped and waxed.

As labiaplasty – surgery to change your vulva’s appearance – has become increasingly popular among women, it’s also become the surgery of choice for an ever-growing number of girls. So much so, in fact, that the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has issued a set of recommendations for doctors on how to talk to adolescent patients seeking the procedure. Hopefully, guidelines for parents considering allowing their minor daughters get the procedure aren’t far behind.

“The first step is often education and reassurance regarding normal variation in anatomy, growth and development,” the guideline reads. In other words, girls need to be told that not everyone’s body looks the same. The ACOG also outlines possible reasons for the increase in girls getting surgery, like pubic hair removal trends and “exposure to idealized images of genital anatomy” (a polite way of saying “porn”).

Apparently it isn’t enough that 80% of 10-year-old girls in the US have been on a diet, or that the celebrity best known right now for having her lips plumped with artificial filler is a teenager. Now teenagers are worrying about their genitals being too fat or long or uneven.

It’s easy to be outraged; some girls hating the most intimate parts of their bodies enough to seek out surgery is incredibly distressing. But it shouldn’t be surprising. We live in a country where the mere act of saying the word “vagina” can get you fired, or barred from speaking, as Michigan representative Lisa Brown was after using the word in a speech against an anti-choice bill.

When I spoke to Miki Agrawal, co-founder and CEO of Thinx period panties for an upcoming podcast, she recounted how New York City’s public transit system initially refused to carry her ads on the subways because one of them featured a picture of a peeled grapefruit that too closely resembled a vagina. (Using grapefruits for ads about breast augmentation, however, was fine.)
Screen Shot 2016-04-28 at 8.12.54 AM
It’s no wonder girls would feel they need to keep their bodies in check, trying to look the way that will bring them the most praise – or the least amount of negative attention.

And so we tell our daughters that they are beautiful, but also that looks don’t matter. We enroll them in sports and try not to talk about dieting in front of them. But even with all the proactive parenting we take on, it’s hard to be hopeful when women are constantly finding new and innovative ways to hate every inch of themselves.

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/apr/28/girls-labiaplasty-self-hatred-body-image

DO NOT READ THIS

[Essay] RED LIGHT THERAPY
By Adam Phillips, from Unforbidden Pleasures, which was published this month by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Phillips is a psychoanalyst and the author of more than fifteen books.

Traffic changed in the United States after the First World War, when the traditional mutual accommodation travelers had been making to one another on their bikes and cars and carts was replaced by a set of lights. The purpose of the signals, according to the anthropologist James C. Scott, “was to prevent accidents by imposing an engineered scheme of coordination.” The proliferation of vehicles and the new scientific and bureaucratic fantasies of efficiency and productivity caused familiar forms of cooperation to give way to new, technologically implemented rules. Practical judgment was delegated to a red lamp. People had known when to stop, but now they were being told when to stop.
In the Netherlands in 2003, a “counterintuitive traffic engineer” named Hans Monderman proposed removing traffic lights in the interest of what he called shared space. When his theory was put to the test, the results were extraordinary, and they led to a series of “red-light-removal schemes” across Europe and America. Monderman began, Scott tells us, with the observation that, when an electrical failure incapacitated traffic lights, the result was improved flow rather than congestion. As an experiment, he replaced the busiest traffic-light intersection in Drachten, handling 22,000 cars a day, with a traffic circle, an extended cycle path, and a pedestrian area. In the two years following…the number of accidents plummeted to only two, compared with thirty-six crashes in the four years prior. Traffic moves more briskly through the intersection when all drivers know they must be alert and use their common sense, while backups and the road rage associated with them have virtually disappeared. Monderman likened it to skaters in a crowded ice rink who manage successfully to tailor their movements to those of the other skaters. He also believed that an excess of signage led drivers to take their eyes off the road, and actually contributed to making junctions less safe.
It is a suggestive experiment, not least because questioning the rules—wondering what a rule is, and what it means to follow a rule; wondering what morality is, and why moral obligations matter—is a perennial concern of ours. We are always tempted to ask, as Laurence Sterne does in The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, “Is a man to follow rules—or rules to follow him?” Indeed, we are encouraged (that is, educated) to ask in whose interests the rules are made, and for what purpose; whether we are being punished or coerced in the name of being protected; and whether the rules apply to some people but not to others. It has become second nature now for many people to think that rules—even in their most extreme versions, as taboos—may always be no more and no less than human artifacts. We are inevitably exercised about where we draw the lines, the kind of lines we draw, and to whom we delegate the drawing of lines.
In certain circumstances, killing people is not forbidden, but killing certain people is; torture is not forbidden, but torturing certain people is; sex is not forbidden, but certain kinds of sexual activity with certain people are; and so on. Virtually no one supports incest or pedophilia, but in every other case, when it comes to the forbidden—what we mustn’t do, as opposed to what we shouldn’t do—there are always exceptions, mitigating circumstances, good reasons found for redescribing forbidden acts as acceptable. Nearly all rules seem to be breakable. This is the familiar legacy of the Enlightenment; this is what a certain kind of modern person believes. Everything forbidden can be redescribed as ultimately desirable. Everything sacred can be rendered secular.
But, like attending to the stoplights, attending to the rules can mean inattention elsewhere. Rules are supposed to attract and organize our attention, and to be taken for granted. The rules have to be wholly absorbing, and automatically abided by; a second nature to deal with our first. Rules—and particularly absolute rules, the guardians of the forbidden—are not supposed to be forgettable. Indeed, when it comes to the forbidden we are not supposed to let our minds wander; we are supposed to be utterly gripped, in the grip of the law. The forbidden is by definition defined, is always already defined, such that one cannot be ignorant of it or casual about it. Whether one is conscious or unconscious of the definition, it is in principle knowable. Acculturation, adaptation, means living as if one knows what is forbidden.
Psychoanalysis—the theory and therapy that organizes itself around forbidden desire—adds that we can be at once conscious and unconscious of what is forbidden; and that being able to rename forbidden pleasures as unforbidden is the only way to find out what it is possible to say about them. Psychoanalysis is the only secular therapy that puts the otherwise sacred idea of the forbidden at the heart of its theory and practice, and it has added an emblematic profession to the culture: one that makes us go on thinking about the forbidden in a secular language. By the same token, it exposes not merely what forbidden desire inhibits but what the whole idea of the forbidden forbids us from considering. The thing, the real thing, that the forbidden has kept us from thinking about is the unforbidden. The pleasures we allow ourselves have suffered at the hands of the pleasures we don’t. By placing unforbidden pleasures in the shade, we may have forbidden ourselves more pleasure, and more about pleasure, than we realize.
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In Monderman’s traffic experiment, fewer accidents took place because people were more attentive to what they were doing. They were more alert, as if rules made people less sentient; as if something were handed over to the rules, and implicitly to the rule makers, that made people behave automatically, or as sleepwalkers, or as people less inventively competent than they in fact are. If Monderman’s experiment is about red-light removal schemes, in Scott’s telling it is also about the more or less impeded, regulated, formulated flow of something or other. What kind of flow does the red light think it is organizing? What is the catastrophe the red light wants to avert?
When it comes to the forbidden, we have to distinguish between the authoritarians and the experimentalists, between the essentialists and the pragmatists. The pragmatists, the experimentalists, say, “I (or someone else) have tried this— have done this forbidden thing—and it had, by our standards, catastrophic consequences. We mustn’t let anyone we care about do it again.” The authoritarians, the essentialists, say, “This is evil, it certainly mustn’t be tried, and preferably shouldn’t be thought about or discussed. It is what our worst punishments are designed to abolish.” The French psychoanalyst Béla Grunberger was an experimentalist when he wrote that the reason the father should prohibit his son from sleeping with his mother was that the son who slept with his mother would be unable to satisfy himself or her, and so would be humiliated. In this version of the Oedipus complex the father is not a castrator but a guardian of his child’s future potency. God was being an essentialist in the Old Testament when he told the Jews, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” Either way, the forbidden is the foreclosure of certain ways of thinking about the future. The forbidden refers to a future that mustn’t happen.
Yet when the traffic lights were removed—and this is one of at least two familiar kinds of modern story—the assumed catastrophe did not occur. In fact, as luck—or something else—would have it, things were even better than before. There were fewer accidents, the flow improved, there was less rage, more common sense. The other familiar modern story is that the red lights are removed and the consequences are beyond our worst imaginings; this is what tragedies and all political tyrannies are there to tell us about. But after Monderman’s experiment, Scott writes, “Small towns in the Netherlands put up one sign boasting that they were free of traffic signs,” and a conference discussing the new philosophy proclaimed, “Unsafe is safe.”
We know something of what it is like to drop the idea that there is such a thing as forbidden knowledge. And we know what it is like for certain forbidden desires to become unforbidden; indeed, some of our most terrible histories, of racism and sexism, are about the forbidding of desires that clearly need not have been forbidden. In retrospect these histories seem to some of us to be the fundamental histories of our times. They are both wildly unintelligible in their cruelty and all too intelligible. Also, the best bits of psychoanalysis have been able to tell us something useful about the anxieties that prompt the forbidding of desires, and about why, therefore, we should not always be overly confident as forbidders of desire.
Nobody now believes that we could, or would even want to, abolish all forbidden desires, any more than anyone could imagine a culture without the category of the unacceptable. (The forbidden is the unacceptable at its most intractable.) And some of us may believe—psychoanalysis clearly has a stake in this—that forbidden desires, like everything else, can be understood in a way that makes them less forbidden, or certainly less unthinkable. People traditionally come to psychoanalysis because of the monstrousness of their desires, or what they take to be the monstrousness of their desires; and the analyst redescribes what she can. But, obviously, there can be no psychoanalysis—just as, presumably, there can be no culture—without the idea of forbidden desire.
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Growing up means growing up into what we call knowledge—the appropriate acknowledgment— of the forbidden. The forbidden is what adults need to tell children about, explicitly and implicitly, consciously and unwittingly. And the forbidden is essentially a story about the consequences of certain kinds of desiring. It is a catastrophic story, a punitive story, a story that is intimidating by definition, about what can happen if certain desires begin to flow. We have to wonder what it is like—what are the effects of children and adolescents growing up in an adult world that is obsessed by forbidden desires and pleasures, often at the cost of the unforbidden ones? And why, by the same token, might it be assumed that promoting unforbidden pleasures could seem to be merely a forlorn consolation for the middle-aged? Forbidden pleasures have stolen the show, but the more intriguing and unpredictable continuity of our lives may lie in our largely unarticulated experiences of unforbidden pleasures, in all their extraordinary variety. The aim of development may be to become as dependent as possible, not as transgressive as possible.
If we take forbidden pleasures as the essence of pleasure, as the real pleasures, what happens to the unforbidden pleasures? Do they really exist—are they derivatives, substitutes, sublimations?—and if they do, what kinds of pleasures are they? Are they all poor relations of the real thing? Are they merely for the timid, the inhibited, the cowardly, the dull? Is unforbidden pleasure merely hedonism for infants and the elderly?
If we believe, for example, that real pleasure, profound pleasure, passionate pleasure, is forbidden, or derives from the forbidden, then clearly courage is what we need, and risk is what we will celebrate and idealize. We will need to be as brave as possible in not betraying our desire; indeed, to promote unforbidden pleasures is to imagine a world in which we don’t have to take courage or cowardice very seriously. There certainly seems to be an old-fashioned story about heroism lurking somewhere in our commitment to the forbidden, in which the bold, the risk-taking, the transgressive, are, by definition, having a better time. If one of my greatest pleasures in life is my morning coffee, am I a pathetic person? If being as kind as is possible gives me the life I want, am I some kind of weakling? If I prefer friendship or political activism to sexual relationships or sexual encounters, am I just inhibited? Are the seekers of unforbidden pleasures simply bland? Are they great sublimators and displacers but poor realists? Are unforbidden pleasures sad substi-
tutes for the forbidden ones? What has the monism of forbidden pleasure—the siren song, the abiding claim on the Freudian subject of the forbidden— stopped us from thinking about pleasure?
By convincing us that we should be suspicious of our desire for the unforbidden pleasures, psychoanalysis may have oversimplified us, and given us an impoverished picture of our pleasure-seeking, and of ourselves as pleasure-seekers. Psychoanalysis, it seems, has repressed the unforbidden, refused to elaborate it, and wanted to not take it too seriously. Or it has simply interpreted the unforbidden as a refuge from, or a disguised, watered-down version of, the real, horrifyingly exciting thing.
It is possible that paying so much attention to forbidden pleasures grossly narrows the pleasure people can take in one another, and over determines and confines their moral thinking. The forbidden has perhaps been overly forbidding. What would our lives be like if we didn’t take it for granted that forbidden pleasure was real pleasure, the only real pleasure? What if we thought of people seeking a multiplicity of pleasures, without a preassumed hierarchy?
We know what ideas about sanity have done to and for ideas about madness, and how the rational and the irrational have been mutually defining, and how heterosexuality has formed and deformed homosexuality, and vice versa. It should be no less important to track the effects of choosing, if not always preferring, the forbidden pleasures over the unforbidden ones. There can always, after all, be two-way traffic. The parts of ourselves that desire forbidden pleasures might have a lot to learn from the parts of ourselves that desire the unforbidden. The seekers of unforbidden pleasures may know something about pleasure that has never occurred to the transgressive.

http://harpers.org

Standing up to Rape Culture

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, a time to amplify the stories of survivors and inspire individuals to take action to stop sexual violence in their communities.
That’s why this week, we’re asking you to tweet that you believe victims of sexual assault. Together, we can stand with survivors and challenge the cycle of violence.
We’re making progress thanks to films like The Hunting Ground and initiatives like the White House’s It’s On Us. But we still have a long way to go to.
Just take singer Kesha’s attempt to break from former producer and alleged assaulter, Dr. Luke. Last week, she shared that she was offered freedom from her contract if she recanted her sexual assault accusations. But rather than perpetuate the myth that many sexual assault claims are false, Kesha’s standing firm and demanding justice.
That’s why this week, we’re asking you to tweet that you believe victims of sexual assault. Together, we can stand with survivors and challenge the cycle of violence. From representation project.org
Check them out!

Terror Comes Home

When will the violence end? When will we stop using weapons to speak? When will the US stop making and exporting weaponry, chemicals, bombs, ships, drones and more?

Welcome to Hell

WELCOME TO HELL
This is an important milestone that women are inviting men to the hell they experience EVERY SINGLE DAY! Join us!

Men are scared after #MeToo? Think what it’s like for women

American men are afraid. They’re fretting over their ability to give a colleague a well-meaning hug without it being interpreted as lecherous, worried that the scores of powerful men being fired is a sign of a full-blown “sex panic”, and that the era of #MeToo is “criminalizing courtship”.

As the women of Saturday Night Live put it: “Welcome to hell, now you’re in our boat.”

You can understand why, during a national reckoning over rape and harassment, women would have a difficult time mustering empathy for men woeful over hugs and dating rituals. We spend our whole lives afraid, but a few months into men not being able to act with sexist impunity and it’s a “witch-hunt”.

If you think #MeToo will change everything, ask your mother if she thought the same thing about Anita Hill allegations in the 1990s
Across the media we’re hearing from men and women about the supposed consequences of the #MeToo moment. Masha Gessen at the New Yorker says the new focus on affirmative consent could “criminalize bad sex”. Geraldo Rivera responded to Matt Lauer’s firing by claiming that society is “criminalizing courtship”. And Bari Weiss at the New York Times, referring to her suspended colleague Glenn Thrush, writes that we’re “criminalizing behavior we previously regarded as presumptuous and boorish”.

Yet no one has gone to jail. No one has been arrested. In fact, no one’s behavior has been “criminalized” even when it appears that it was actually criminal. Harvey Weinstein is accused of decades of abuse, including rape, which he denies, and he jetted to Europe. Lauer, accused of sexual assault, was making $20m a year. Louis CK exposed himself to women, yet no criminal charges have been brought against him.

But as Rebecca Traister put it: “A powerful white man losing a job is a death.” What we’re seeing now is the national funeral.

Tellingly, few expressing fears in this moment are mourning the derailed careers or battered aspirations of countless women who left their jobs and industries after being harassed. No, the real talent lost is male, gone to the same sad graveyard with men’s treasured ability to touch female subordinates without permission or consequence.

If I sound irked, it could be that a lifetime of watching my back has made me a bit testy. Like most American women, I’ve learned – oftentimes through experience – that I am not safe. Women know that they’re at risk whether in the streets, at work, or at home. Soon I’ll have to pass on this knowledge to my daughter, teaching her to walk the line of keeping herself safe while also trying to remain unjaded. (After all, we’re called naive if we don’t protect ourselves, but if the everyday precautions anger us too much, we’re hysterics.)

#MeToo means I can be honest about why I skip office Christmas parties
Jean Hannah Edelstein
Read more
Perhaps the problem is that powerful white men have not been afraid enough. Maybe the incredible sense of entitlement that’s allowed men to treat women so horribly without consequence is something that can be killed – or at least hobbled – with a nice dose of fear. And maybe that fear, even if temporary, will give women a much-needed respite. After all, we don’t even know who we are without that anxiety hanging over our heads; it would be nice to catch a glimpse of the carefree woman we never got to be.
Read more:

Women to Watch: Shanthi Sekaran

Welcome to KQED Arts’ Women to Watch, a series celebrating 20 local women artists, creatives and makers who are pushing boundaries in 2017. Driven by passion for their own disciplines, from photography to comedy and every other medium in between, these women are true vanguards paving the way in their respective communities.

Born and raised in Sacramento to parents who immigrated from India as medical professionals in the 1960s, Shanthi Sekaran finds that her background continually informs her work. Her first novel, The Prayer Room, (MacAdam/Cage; 2009) is the story of Viji, a young Indian woman who marries an American man, moves to Sacramento, gives birth to triplets, and navigates culture clashes as an immigrant in 1974 America.

Sekaran’s second novel, Lucky Boy (Penguin Random House; 2017), opens
Read online

WAGE GAP for Black Women

Black women receive 67 cents to a white man’s dollar.
Casey Quinlan @ Think Progress
Monday is Black Women’s Equal Pay Day, the day that marks when black women are paid the same wages as their white male peers were paid last year. Black women are paid only 67 cents on the dollar relative to non-Hispanic white men, according to analysis from the Economic Policy Institute.
Black women could lose $840,040 over a 40-year career compared to non-Hispanic white men, according to the National Women’s Law Center, and in some states, that wage gap could lead to a loss over $1 million.
According to EPI, the wage gap for black women has only grown worse and black women are working more hours. Looking at the lowest wage workers, the annual hours black women work grew 30.5 percent between 1979 and 2015 compared to a 3.2 percent increase for white men.
Several black female celebrities and politicians brought attention to the pay gap on Monday, including Serena Williams, Tracee Ellis Ross, and Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-NY).
“Black women are the cornerstone of our communities,” Williams tweeted.

The wage gap persists at all levels of education and in all occupations. Black women with advanced degrees still make $7 an hour less than white men who only have a bachelor’s degree and white male physicians and surgeons earn $18 per hour more than black female physicians and surgeons.
There are also significant state differences in the wage gap. Maine, Mississippi, Alabama, Nebraska, South Carolina, District of Columbia, Virginia, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and Missouri all had earnings ratios between white men and black women ranging from 59.7 percent to 55.2 percent. But Louisiana paid black women the worst in comparison to white men, at 46 percent. Black women’s median annual earnings tended to be lowest in southern states.
A 2016 Institute for Women’s Policy Research report shows why racial and ethnic differences in the pay gap tell us much more than simply looking at the pay gap by gender. The report found that the median weekly earnings for black women were $641 across occupations compared to $815 for white women and $1,025 for white men. Black men and Hispanic men made less than white women, at $718 and $633 respectively. Asian men and women had the highest median weekly earnings.
It would take a very long time for black women to reach pay equity with white men, according to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research. Black women would have to wait until 2124 for equal pay if wages continue to change at this slow pace. But policy experts do have suggestions for how to mitigate the wage gap.
Black women are subject to racial and gender biases in higher education, in the labor force, and in housing. Studies have found racial bias in how police use force on black men and women, and too often, police fail to help black women who are victims of crime. In a 96-page report released this year, “The Status of Black Women in the U.S.,” the National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA) and Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) recommended several approaches to improving the financial health and well being of black women. The recommendations included: pursuing criminal justice reform, expanding Medicaid, providing more support to and recruitment of black female political candidates, and raising the minimum wage. The EPI analysis of the wage gap recommends raising the federal minimum wage to $15 by 2024.
Thanks to Adrienne Mahsa Varkiani.
WomenEqualityRacismEconomicsMinimum Wage

New Community Radio for Central Coast

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Hole Helped Free Dozens During Pulse Shooting

Orlando police chief John Mina’s decision to blast a hole through an outside wall at Pulse provided an exit for many trapped inside – including the shooter.Police photos issued hours after the Orlando attack show a simple hole in a wall, about 4ft high and 3ft feet wide. It looks unassuming, just a gap in the grey concrete blocks, but for dozens of men and women who had been cowering behind the wall for hours in mortal terror, it was their escape route to survival.

Pulse nightclub attack renews AR-15 rifle debate: would a ban make a difference?
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At about 5am on Sunday morning, three hours into the deadliest mass shooting in US history, Orlando’s police chief, John Mina, made the portentous decision to send in a Swat team and blast a hole through the outside wall of the Pulse night club, where already more than 30 people had been killed and at least another 30 injured by the gunman. “It’s a tough decision to make knowing that people’s lives will be placed in danger,” Mina said on Monday morning, with notable understatement.

It is not known whether any of the hostages were killed in the operation, or if so how many, but for those who got out, Mina’s decision was life-saving. First a controlled explosion was carried out, but when it failed to breach the wall Mina sent in a Bearcat armored vehicle to punch out the hole.

Immediately the floodgates opened. Traumatized club-goers, who had gone to Pulse on Latin night for what they thought would be a life-affirming chance to dance to salsa and merengue but had ended up trapped in a horror sequence, began pouring out.

“We were able to rescue dozens and dozens of people who came out of that hole,” Mina said.
Read full article @ http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/jun/13/pulse-nightclub-hole-wall-hostages
and see how the world mourns the mass shooting in Orlando

The Legal Genital Mutilation for Girls

Why do girls want labiaplasty? They’re told to hate every inch of themselves
By Jessica Valenti
Despite all the feminist progress we’ve made, women and girls are still subject to mixed messages about how their bodies must be perfect

It would almost be easier if there were a specific moment that sparks self-loathing in a young girl. A particularly nasty comment made, maybe. Or an advertisement that inspires just the right amount of doubt in her appearance and forever shifts the way she thinks about herself. If only it were that simple, if there were just one moment we could help our daughters avoid.

The truth is much more complicated – and much more intimate. For all the feminist progress made, there is still a shocking amount of disdain for women’s anatomy when it is not firm, tucked, primped and waxed.

As labiaplasty – surgery to change your vulva’s appearance – has become increasingly popular among women, it’s also become the surgery of choice for an ever-growing number of girls. So much so, in fact, that the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has issued a set of recommendations for doctors on how to talk to adolescent patients seeking the procedure. Hopefully, guidelines for parents considering allowing their minor daughters get the procedure aren’t far behind.

“The first step is often education and reassurance regarding normal variation in anatomy, growth and development,” the guideline reads. In other words, girls need to be told that not everyone’s body looks the same. The ACOG also outlines possible reasons for the increase in girls getting surgery, like pubic hair removal trends and “exposure to idealized images of genital anatomy” (a polite way of saying “porn”).

Apparently it isn’t enough that 80% of 10-year-old girls in the US have been on a diet, or that the celebrity best known right now for having her lips plumped with artificial filler is a teenager. Now teenagers are worrying about their genitals being too fat or long or uneven.

It’s easy to be outraged; some girls hating the most intimate parts of their bodies enough to seek out surgery is incredibly distressing. But it shouldn’t be surprising. We live in a country where the mere act of saying the word “vagina” can get you fired, or barred from speaking, as Michigan representative Lisa Brown was after using the word in a speech against an anti-choice bill.

When I spoke to Miki Agrawal, co-founder and CEO of Thinx period panties for an upcoming podcast, she recounted how New York City’s public transit system initially refused to carry her ads on the subways because one of them featured a picture of a peeled grapefruit that too closely resembled a vagina. (Using grapefruits for ads about breast augmentation, however, was fine.)
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It’s no wonder girls would feel they need to keep their bodies in check, trying to look the way that will bring them the most praise – or the least amount of negative attention.

And so we tell our daughters that they are beautiful, but also that looks don’t matter. We enroll them in sports and try not to talk about dieting in front of them. But even with all the proactive parenting we take on, it’s hard to be hopeful when women are constantly finding new and innovative ways to hate every inch of themselves.

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/apr/28/girls-labiaplasty-self-hatred-body-image

DO NOT READ THIS

[Essay] RED LIGHT THERAPY
By Adam Phillips, from Unforbidden Pleasures, which was published this month by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Phillips is a psychoanalyst and the author of more than fifteen books.

Traffic changed in the United States after the First World War, when the traditional mutual accommodation travelers had been making to one another on their bikes and cars and carts was replaced by a set of lights. The purpose of the signals, according to the anthropologist James C. Scott, “was to prevent accidents by imposing an engineered scheme of coordination.” The proliferation of vehicles and the new scientific and bureaucratic fantasies of efficiency and productivity caused familiar forms of cooperation to give way to new, technologically implemented rules. Practical judgment was delegated to a red lamp. People had known when to stop, but now they were being told when to stop.
In the Netherlands in 2003, a “counterintuitive traffic engineer” named Hans Monderman proposed removing traffic lights in the interest of what he called shared space. When his theory was put to the test, the results were extraordinary, and they led to a series of “red-light-removal schemes” across Europe and America. Monderman began, Scott tells us, with the observation that, when an electrical failure incapacitated traffic lights, the result was improved flow rather than congestion. As an experiment, he replaced the busiest traffic-light intersection in Drachten, handling 22,000 cars a day, with a traffic circle, an extended cycle path, and a pedestrian area. In the two years following…the number of accidents plummeted to only two, compared with thirty-six crashes in the four years prior. Traffic moves more briskly through the intersection when all drivers know they must be alert and use their common sense, while backups and the road rage associated with them have virtually disappeared. Monderman likened it to skaters in a crowded ice rink who manage successfully to tailor their movements to those of the other skaters. He also believed that an excess of signage led drivers to take their eyes off the road, and actually contributed to making junctions less safe.
It is a suggestive experiment, not least because questioning the rules—wondering what a rule is, and what it means to follow a rule; wondering what morality is, and why moral obligations matter—is a perennial concern of ours. We are always tempted to ask, as Laurence Sterne does in The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, “Is a man to follow rules—or rules to follow him?” Indeed, we are encouraged (that is, educated) to ask in whose interests the rules are made, and for what purpose; whether we are being punished or coerced in the name of being protected; and whether the rules apply to some people but not to others. It has become second nature now for many people to think that rules—even in their most extreme versions, as taboos—may always be no more and no less than human artifacts. We are inevitably exercised about where we draw the lines, the kind of lines we draw, and to whom we delegate the drawing of lines.
In certain circumstances, killing people is not forbidden, but killing certain people is; torture is not forbidden, but torturing certain people is; sex is not forbidden, but certain kinds of sexual activity with certain people are; and so on. Virtually no one supports incest or pedophilia, but in every other case, when it comes to the forbidden—what we mustn’t do, as opposed to what we shouldn’t do—there are always exceptions, mitigating circumstances, good reasons found for redescribing forbidden acts as acceptable. Nearly all rules seem to be breakable. This is the familiar legacy of the Enlightenment; this is what a certain kind of modern person believes. Everything forbidden can be redescribed as ultimately desirable. Everything sacred can be rendered secular.
But, like attending to the stoplights, attending to the rules can mean inattention elsewhere. Rules are supposed to attract and organize our attention, and to be taken for granted. The rules have to be wholly absorbing, and automatically abided by; a second nature to deal with our first. Rules—and particularly absolute rules, the guardians of the forbidden—are not supposed to be forgettable. Indeed, when it comes to the forbidden we are not supposed to let our minds wander; we are supposed to be utterly gripped, in the grip of the law. The forbidden is by definition defined, is always already defined, such that one cannot be ignorant of it or casual about it. Whether one is conscious or unconscious of the definition, it is in principle knowable. Acculturation, adaptation, means living as if one knows what is forbidden.
Psychoanalysis—the theory and therapy that organizes itself around forbidden desire—adds that we can be at once conscious and unconscious of what is forbidden; and that being able to rename forbidden pleasures as unforbidden is the only way to find out what it is possible to say about them. Psychoanalysis is the only secular therapy that puts the otherwise sacred idea of the forbidden at the heart of its theory and practice, and it has added an emblematic profession to the culture: one that makes us go on thinking about the forbidden in a secular language. By the same token, it exposes not merely what forbidden desire inhibits but what the whole idea of the forbidden forbids us from considering. The thing, the real thing, that the forbidden has kept us from thinking about is the unforbidden. The pleasures we allow ourselves have suffered at the hands of the pleasures we don’t. By placing unforbidden pleasures in the shade, we may have forbidden ourselves more pleasure, and more about pleasure, than we realize.
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In Monderman’s traffic experiment, fewer accidents took place because people were more attentive to what they were doing. They were more alert, as if rules made people less sentient; as if something were handed over to the rules, and implicitly to the rule makers, that made people behave automatically, or as sleepwalkers, or as people less inventively competent than they in fact are. If Monderman’s experiment is about red-light removal schemes, in Scott’s telling it is also about the more or less impeded, regulated, formulated flow of something or other. What kind of flow does the red light think it is organizing? What is the catastrophe the red light wants to avert?
When it comes to the forbidden, we have to distinguish between the authoritarians and the experimentalists, between the essentialists and the pragmatists. The pragmatists, the experimentalists, say, “I (or someone else) have tried this— have done this forbidden thing—and it had, by our standards, catastrophic consequences. We mustn’t let anyone we care about do it again.” The authoritarians, the essentialists, say, “This is evil, it certainly mustn’t be tried, and preferably shouldn’t be thought about or discussed. It is what our worst punishments are designed to abolish.” The French psychoanalyst Béla Grunberger was an experimentalist when he wrote that the reason the father should prohibit his son from sleeping with his mother was that the son who slept with his mother would be unable to satisfy himself or her, and so would be humiliated. In this version of the Oedipus complex the father is not a castrator but a guardian of his child’s future potency. God was being an essentialist in the Old Testament when he told the Jews, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” Either way, the forbidden is the foreclosure of certain ways of thinking about the future. The forbidden refers to a future that mustn’t happen.
Yet when the traffic lights were removed—and this is one of at least two familiar kinds of modern story—the assumed catastrophe did not occur. In fact, as luck—or something else—would have it, things were even better than before. There were fewer accidents, the flow improved, there was less rage, more common sense. The other familiar modern story is that the red lights are removed and the consequences are beyond our worst imaginings; this is what tragedies and all political tyrannies are there to tell us about. But after Monderman’s experiment, Scott writes, “Small towns in the Netherlands put up one sign boasting that they were free of traffic signs,” and a conference discussing the new philosophy proclaimed, “Unsafe is safe.”
We know something of what it is like to drop the idea that there is such a thing as forbidden knowledge. And we know what it is like for certain forbidden desires to become unforbidden; indeed, some of our most terrible histories, of racism and sexism, are about the forbidding of desires that clearly need not have been forbidden. In retrospect these histories seem to some of us to be the fundamental histories of our times. They are both wildly unintelligible in their cruelty and all too intelligible. Also, the best bits of psychoanalysis have been able to tell us something useful about the anxieties that prompt the forbidding of desires, and about why, therefore, we should not always be overly confident as forbidders of desire.
Nobody now believes that we could, or would even want to, abolish all forbidden desires, any more than anyone could imagine a culture without the category of the unacceptable. (The forbidden is the unacceptable at its most intractable.) And some of us may believe—psychoanalysis clearly has a stake in this—that forbidden desires, like everything else, can be understood in a way that makes them less forbidden, or certainly less unthinkable. People traditionally come to psychoanalysis because of the monstrousness of their desires, or what they take to be the monstrousness of their desires; and the analyst redescribes what she can. But, obviously, there can be no psychoanalysis—just as, presumably, there can be no culture—without the idea of forbidden desire.
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Growing up means growing up into what we call knowledge—the appropriate acknowledgment— of the forbidden. The forbidden is what adults need to tell children about, explicitly and implicitly, consciously and unwittingly. And the forbidden is essentially a story about the consequences of certain kinds of desiring. It is a catastrophic story, a punitive story, a story that is intimidating by definition, about what can happen if certain desires begin to flow. We have to wonder what it is like—what are the effects of children and adolescents growing up in an adult world that is obsessed by forbidden desires and pleasures, often at the cost of the unforbidden ones? And why, by the same token, might it be assumed that promoting unforbidden pleasures could seem to be merely a forlorn consolation for the middle-aged? Forbidden pleasures have stolen the show, but the more intriguing and unpredictable continuity of our lives may lie in our largely unarticulated experiences of unforbidden pleasures, in all their extraordinary variety. The aim of development may be to become as dependent as possible, not as transgressive as possible.
If we take forbidden pleasures as the essence of pleasure, as the real pleasures, what happens to the unforbidden pleasures? Do they really exist—are they derivatives, substitutes, sublimations?—and if they do, what kinds of pleasures are they? Are they all poor relations of the real thing? Are they merely for the timid, the inhibited, the cowardly, the dull? Is unforbidden pleasure merely hedonism for infants and the elderly?
If we believe, for example, that real pleasure, profound pleasure, passionate pleasure, is forbidden, or derives from the forbidden, then clearly courage is what we need, and risk is what we will celebrate and idealize. We will need to be as brave as possible in not betraying our desire; indeed, to promote unforbidden pleasures is to imagine a world in which we don’t have to take courage or cowardice very seriously. There certainly seems to be an old-fashioned story about heroism lurking somewhere in our commitment to the forbidden, in which the bold, the risk-taking, the transgressive, are, by definition, having a better time. If one of my greatest pleasures in life is my morning coffee, am I a pathetic person? If being as kind as is possible gives me the life I want, am I some kind of weakling? If I prefer friendship or political activism to sexual relationships or sexual encounters, am I just inhibited? Are the seekers of unforbidden pleasures simply bland? Are they great sublimators and displacers but poor realists? Are unforbidden pleasures sad substi-
tutes for the forbidden ones? What has the monism of forbidden pleasure—the siren song, the abiding claim on the Freudian subject of the forbidden— stopped us from thinking about pleasure?
By convincing us that we should be suspicious of our desire for the unforbidden pleasures, psychoanalysis may have oversimplified us, and given us an impoverished picture of our pleasure-seeking, and of ourselves as pleasure-seekers. Psychoanalysis, it seems, has repressed the unforbidden, refused to elaborate it, and wanted to not take it too seriously. Or it has simply interpreted the unforbidden as a refuge from, or a disguised, watered-down version of, the real, horrifyingly exciting thing.
It is possible that paying so much attention to forbidden pleasures grossly narrows the pleasure people can take in one another, and over determines and confines their moral thinking. The forbidden has perhaps been overly forbidding. What would our lives be like if we didn’t take it for granted that forbidden pleasure was real pleasure, the only real pleasure? What if we thought of people seeking a multiplicity of pleasures, without a preassumed hierarchy?
We know what ideas about sanity have done to and for ideas about madness, and how the rational and the irrational have been mutually defining, and how heterosexuality has formed and deformed homosexuality, and vice versa. It should be no less important to track the effects of choosing, if not always preferring, the forbidden pleasures over the unforbidden ones. There can always, after all, be two-way traffic. The parts of ourselves that desire forbidden pleasures might have a lot to learn from the parts of ourselves that desire the unforbidden. The seekers of unforbidden pleasures may know something about pleasure that has never occurred to the transgressive.

http://harpers.org

Standing up to Rape Culture

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, a time to amplify the stories of survivors and inspire individuals to take action to stop sexual violence in their communities.
That’s why this week, we’re asking you to tweet that you believe victims of sexual assault. Together, we can stand with survivors and challenge the cycle of violence.
We’re making progress thanks to films like The Hunting Ground and initiatives like the White House’s It’s On Us. But we still have a long way to go to.
Just take singer Kesha’s attempt to break from former producer and alleged assaulter, Dr. Luke. Last week, she shared that she was offered freedom from her contract if she recanted her sexual assault accusations. But rather than perpetuate the myth that many sexual assault claims are false, Kesha’s standing firm and demanding justice.
That’s why this week, we’re asking you to tweet that you believe victims of sexual assault. Together, we can stand with survivors and challenge the cycle of violence. From representation project.org
Check them out!

Terror Comes Home

When will the violence end? When will we stop using weapons to speak? When will the US stop making and exporting weaponry, chemicals, bombs, ships, drones and more?

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DO NOT READ THIS

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