Friday, May 22, 2015

Some feminisms I love, some I pity

A friend emailed me because she thought I was bashing all feminists with Dear feminists upset by last week's Game of Thrones. I was initially annoyed, because I thought the title should make it clear I was addressing a specific subset of feminists. But the friend identifies as feminist and tends to assume all feminists are the same, so I thought I would spell this out:

I identified as a feminist for most of my life, and am still happy to identify as a universalist feminist, a socialist feminist, or an equity feminist, though it's simpler to just be an egalitarian or equalist. My heroes include Sojourner Truth and Eleanor Marx and every woman who has ever worked for full equality for all women.

I pity bourgeois feminists because they channel their outrage against men instead of the system that has historically been primarily exploited by men. I pity academic feminists because they create elaborate theories of gender that have nothing to do with the real world they have never inhabited. I pity identitarian feminists because their obsession keeps them from looking for what lies beneath social identities. I can't hate any of them, because there is something real at the root of their anger, but what's real is misunderstood in a way that does not threaten their privilege or help the exploited. They tend to be more interested in the ability of queens to rule with all the rights of kings than in making a world where we're all free.

Links to cartoons by Toby Morris, whose observations about New Zealand apply to my country and probably yours

I clicked a link to The Pencilsword: On a plate with a little trepidation because it was described as a cartoon about privilege. I was pleased to find it's about economic privilege, not social privilege. (Yes, they're often related, but some rich people lose their wealth and kill themselves because they know they'll lose their social privilege too, and the New Rich always gain the social privileges of wealth, even if jealous members of the Old Rich sneer at them for retaining some traits of the lower classes. Most social privileges come with fine clothes and grooming, and disappear with them, too.)

If you like that cartoon, you can find links to more at Toby Morris - Contributor - The Wireless. The  recent work is stronger than the older work, which is how you want it to be, but they're all worth the minute or two they'll take to read, which is also how you want it to be.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Dear feminists upset by last week's Game of Thrones

Spoiler warning: plot points from GoT and disagreement with modern feminism's understanding of art and sexual violence.

The torture and castration of Theon Greyjoy doesn't offend you, but the idea that a bad man might rape his wife does?

Like the castration of Theon, the message of Sansa's rape is simple: rape is horrible, one of the worst things a person can do to another. The show has had horrible people being horrible since it began; it is not called Game of Kiddie Chairs. The goal is to win an iron throne made from swords. What show did you think you were watching?

I realize that readers brought up on romance novels would expect Ramsay to be defeated by a virtuous knight or to fall in love with Sansa and be transformed into a husband who is worthy of her. But this ain't that show. The one thing you know is bad things happen to good people. Your only consolation is knowing that bad things will also happen to bad people. Sansa undoubtedly survives her marriage to Ramsay. It's not likely that Ramsay survives this season.

People obsessed with male and female gazes should note that the scene ultimately has a male point of view, but that POV is not Ramsay's thrill in using Sansa, but Theon's horror at what's being done.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Zumba versus Salsa for physical and psychological health

Zumba and salsa seem to do equally well for mental health, but Zumba has an edge for physical issues, based on a recent study. From Salsa dance and Zumba fitness: Acute responses during community-based classes:
There was a significantly higher (p < 0.001) total time spent in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (51.2 ± 3.1 vs. 32.6 ± 5.9 min), total energy expenditure (411 ± 66 vs. 210 ± 46 kcal), and total step count (6773 ± 556 vs. 4108 ± 781 step) during Zumba fitness when compared to salsa dance. Significant pre-to post-class improvements in positive well-being (p < 0.01, partial η2 = 0.41) and psychological distress (p < 0.001, partial η2 = 0.72) were simultaneously observed for both salsa dance and Zumba fitness.
I don't know enough about the kind of salsa classes in the study to speak knowledgably, but since this is the internet, I won't let that stop me:

My guess is salsa is a little more connected to recreation than Zumba, which began when an exercise teacher had to improvise with his Latin dance tapes, so Zumba is a bit more focused on physical fitness. But "a bit more" is important in that sentence: Zumba only works if you focus on the same thing you should focus on with salsa: having fun moving.

You can derail agendas, but not conversations or investigations

I liked this bit in Establishment Journalists Pride Themselves on Staying on the Official Rails: "Rails, after all, are meant to keep a vehicle on a predetermined track. It’s not much of compliment to compare a journalist to a smoothly operating train, always showing up at the official stations."

I'll take that point further: When people say you're derailing, ask where they want to send you. And remember that to someone who thinks you're derailing, you're not in a conversation; you're in a lecture that allows some comments from the audience.

Derailing is rightly a scary metaphor. For people who thought they were in for a cozy ride, dealing with the unexpected is annoying or terrifying. But many passengers in history have been trapped on trains that they would have gladly derailed.

Shorter version: Derailing is just a way to say someone is thinking freely. Authorities hate that.

Monday, May 18, 2015

"The Lynching Party" - flash fiction by Will Shetterly

The Lynching Party

Will Shetterly

The storm's last flash of lightning came with the last twitch of the red-headed man's feet. The Kid looked uneasy, so Curly said, "Someone's got to deal justice to horse thieves." They rode back in silence.

Near the town limits, they saw Doc, Slim, and Tex galloping toward them. Tex called, "Want to join a necktie party?"

Curly began, "That red-headed sumbitch—"

Slim shook his head. "Naw, not him. Widow Jones thought he stole her horses 'cause he was passing by when they disappeared, but they just wandered off. Pancho found 'em down by the creek."

The Kid began, "Then who—"

"My barn burnt down," Doc said. "I heard the loudest crack of thunder ever. When I looked out, a man in a duster was riding off. Big Jim says he saw a sumbitch in a duster making camp down by the river." Doc touched his spurs to his mustang and rode on.

As Slim and Tex followed him, Tex called, "You coming?"

Curly and the Kid glanced at each other. The Kid looked uneasy, so Curly said, "Someone's got to deal justice to barn burners." And they rode after Doc, Slim, and Tex.

Adam Smith quotes for supporters of Basic Income

"The necessaries of life occasion the great expense of the poor. They find it difficult to get food, and the greater part of their little revenue is spent in getting it. The luxuries and vanities of life occasion the principal expense of the rich, and a magnificent house embellishes and sets off to the best advantage all the other luxuries and vanities which they possess. A tax upon house-rents, therefore, would in general fall heaviest upon the rich; and in this sort of inequality there would not, perhaps, be anything very unreasonable. It is not very unreasonable that the rich should contribute to the public expense, not only in proportion to their revenue, but something more than in that proportion." —Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations

"All for ourselves, and nothing for other people, seems, in every age of the world, to have been the vile maxim of the masters of mankind." —Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations

"No society can surely be flourishing and happy, of which the far greater part of the members are poor and miserable." —Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations

"Civil government, so far as it is instituted for the security of property, is in reality instituted for the defense of the rich against the poor, or of those who have some property against those who have none at all." —Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations

"As soon as the land of any country has all become private property, the landlords, like all other men, love to reap where they never sowed, and demand a rent even for its natural produce." —Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations