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Friday, October 31, 2014

Links - 31st October 2014

Joy Behar sees racism in “Black Friday.” Can “White Christmas” be far behind? - "We’re not sure what’s worse about this video clip. Was it Joy Behar questioning the hidden racist meaning in the term “Black Friday” or Whoppi Goldberg revealing that she was “going commando”?"

Homebuilders scrap 'master bedroom' because of racist, gender-biased connotations

Idioms need not apply - "In discussing Jeremy Lin’s playing vulnerabilities, an on-air ESPN announcer used the phrase “chink in armor” and it was repeated in an ESPN web headline early the next morning. The announcer has been suspended and the headline writer fired because the idiom was deemed offensive... 'He said he has used the phrase “at least 100 times” in headlines over the years and thought nothing of it when he slapped it on the Lin story'"
Comment: "I’m still working on Santa Claus’ brazenly racist AND sexist catch phrase “Ho ho ho!”."

Saturday Night Card Game (Mitt Romney Gives Race Card Players The Rope With Which To Hang Him) - "The latest example is the nontroversy over Mitt Romney’s play of the common phrase to “hang an albatross around his neck.” That metaphor was used frequently during the 2008 campaign as commenters throughout the left-blogosphere wanted Democrats to hang George W. Bush around John McCain’s neck. Romney used this metaphor yesterday in New Hampshire when referring to our economic misery index, which he substituted for the word albatross, and then applied it to Barack Obama. You can guess the rest, media buzz and cries of racism because in the games of the race card players, hanging the misery index around Obama’s neck or hanging Obama with it, just like it was hung around Carter’s neck, is exactly the same thing as saying “let’s lynch the black guy.”"

The Death of David Reimer - "Money had been a leading exponent of the theory that children were born psychosexually neutral and could be assigned to either gender in the first years of their life... Money's meetings with Brenda were a darkly comic study in how a scientist could refuse to see the evidence he didn't want to see, and how a subject can gradually learn to respond to his cues... For much of his career, Money's admirers saw him as a bold pioneer fighting puritanical reactionaries. This was his self-image as well. He touted himself as a defender of sexual liberation: for the rights of gays and other sexual minorities, for legalized pornography, for breaking down social taboos. But this seemingly libertarian attitude obscured an authoritarian core. When the truth about the Reimer case was exposed, the sexologist suddenly seemed much more repressive than the conservatives he hated. Not that he acknowledged this. He told Colapinto that the press's embrace of Diamond's exposé was a product of right-wing media bias and "the antifeminist movement," insisting that "they say masculinity and femininity are built into the genes so women should get back to the mattress and the kitchen." By this time, though, his critics were emerging not just from the right but from the community of open intersexuals—people born with mixed or indeterminate gender. It turned out they don't like to be coerced by social engineers any more than they like to be coerced by the party of rigid sex roles."
Science (and reality) is misogynistic and anti-feminist!

Where Online Social Liberalism Lost The Script « The Dish - "social liberalism was once an alternative that enabled people to pursue whatever types of consensual personal behavior they wanted, and thus was a movement that increased individual freedom and happiness... the public face of social liberalism has ceased to seem positive, joyful, human, and freeing. I now mostly associate that public face with danger, with an endless list of things that you can’t do or say or think, and with the constant threat of being called an existentially bad person if you say the wrong thing, or if someone decides to misrepresent what you said as saying the wrong thing. There are so many ways to step on a landmine now, so many terms that have become forbidden, so many attitudes that will get you cast out if you even appear to hold them. I’m far from alone in feeling that it’s typically not worth it to engage, given the risks... I cannot tell you how common it is for me to talk to 19, 20, 21 year old students, who seem like good people, who discuss liberal and left-wing beliefs as positive ideas, but who shrink from identifying with liberalism and feminism instinctively... The culture is one of attack, rather than of education. And the claims, typically, are existential: not “this thing you said is problematic from the standpoint of race,” but rather “you’re a racist.” Not “I think there’s some gender issues going here that you should think about,” but “you’re a misogynist”... Everything that you like is problematic. Every musician you like is misogynist. Every movie you like is secretly racist. Every cherished public figure has some deeply disqualifying characteristics. All of your victories are the product of privilege. Everyone you know and love who does not yet speak with the specialized vocabulary of today’s social justice movement is a bad, bad person. That is no way to build a broader coalition, which we desperately need if we’re going to win"

Engaging The T - "Kevin Williamson notes how Laverne Cox, appearing as a trans person on the cover of Time, nonetheless refused to answer a question about whether she had had her genitals reassigned as too “invasive.” Sorry, Laverne. But if you’re out there explaining yourself, you’ve gotta explain all of it. And the elaborate and neurotic fixation on language – will writing “transgender” rather than “transgendered” reveal my inner bigot? – is now so neurotic even RuPaul has been cast aside as politically incorrect... politics has eclipsed the English language here and that language itself has become enmeshed in a rigid ideology:
'The obsession with policing language on the theory that language mystically shapes reality is itself ancient — see the Old Testament — and sympathetic magic proceeds along similar lines, using imitation and related techniques as a means of controlling reality'...
the insistence of many transgendered people on the need to permanently reconcile their physical bodies with their mental states is in some ways a rather conservative impulse. There’s a reason that Iran’s theocrats allow for sex-change operations but not gay relationships. The transgender desire not to be trans-gender but to be one gender physically and mentally is actually quite an affront to queer theorists for whom all gender and sex are social constructions. Many of these people want testosterone and estrogen and surgery to end their divided selves. And it doesn’t get more crudely biological and not-social than that. Which means that there are also divisions within the trans world between those who might be able to pass completely as another gender, after reassignment surgery, and those whose visual ambiguity or androgyny will remain"

Is “tranny” a slur or an identity? Who decides? - "Tranny, the highest-profile of these words, is both a slur and a term of endearment, a brand that can sting and a badge that can be worn with pride. And when some people cherish a word that others despise, who can be said to own it, to possess the authority to declare it fair or foul? It’s a vexing question, but one that we must consider, because the answer will go a long way in determining what the LGBTQ liberation movement—and liberation is the key word—looks like after gay marriage... RuPaul’s comments have joined impassioned missives from trans artist Mx. Justin Vivian Bond, trans author and artist Kate Bornstein, and drag performer Lady Bunny, all of whom in their own ways echoed RuPaul’s view that “banning” tranny was an example of a conservative minority speaking on behalf of—and doing a certain kind of violence to—those for whom the term is, in the words of Bornstein, a “valid, vibrant, and vital identity”... you will see self-identified trannies accusing their critics of PC tyranny, while the other side accuses them of internalized transphobia... it does not seem inaccurate to me to interpret some transgender people’s insistence on transitioning seamlessly from one gender to the other—to reinforce the gender binary, in effect, by eschewing the conceptual friction that third-way terms like tranny and even she-male engender—as a conservative impulse... I am troubled by how, in our zeal to create a so-called “safe space” for ourselves, safe can so easily become code for ideologically pure. As history has borne out time and again, that’s not a space that’s safe for anyone"

Sydney's Best Banh Mi Pork Rolls - "An authentic banh mi has no less than 10 ingredients, each playing a part in balancing sweet, savoury, sour and spicy flavours... For Ngo, gourmet banh mi, for which some places are charging more than $8, is against everything banh mi stands for." [Banh mi] is for the everyman. It's street food, it's cross-culture. It's not about separating people by class, by taste or by gourmet knowledge," Ngo says. "That's why I'm against banh mi for $8.50 … It's about egalitarianism and accessibility.""

Blasts from the past: The Soviet ape-man scandal - "IT WAS the story with everything: secret papers, an evil Soviet dictator and a zealous zoologist hell-bent on breeding a creature that was half man, half ape. When details of Ilia Ivanov's attempts to create an ape-human hybrid emerged in the 1990s from the newly opened Russian archives, they prompted a rash of lurid headlines. Ivanov became the "Red Frankenstein". His proposed liaisons were invariably dangerous. There was even the suggestion that he had been ordered to breed super-strong hairy warriors for what The Sun in London dubbed "Stalin's mutant ape army"... Ivanov headed home with 20 chimps to stock a new ape nursery in the subtropical Soviet republic of Abkhazia. He knew now that his best chance of creating his hybrid was to find Soviet women willing to carry half-ape babies in the interests of science. In the event, only four chimps made it to Abkhazia and so while the nursery set about acquiring more apes, Ivanov looked for volunteers. At least five women volunteered... When Ivanov put his proposal to the Academy of Sciences he painted it as the experiment that would prove men had evolved from apes. "If he crossed an ape and a human and produced viable offspring then that would mean Darwin was right about how closely related we are," says Etkind. When Ivanov approached the government, he stressed how proving Darwin right would strike a blow against religion, which the Bolsheviks were struggling to stamp out. Success would not only bolster the reputation of Soviet science but provide useful anti-religious propaganda to boot... There is a third possible motive - that Ivanov's research was part of an ambitious plan to transform society. The high-ranking Bolsheviks who backed Ivanov were intellectuals who saw science as a means of realising their dream of a socialist utopia. "Politicians could change the political system, nationalise industries and turn farms into vast collectives - but the task of transforming people was entrusted to scientists," says Etkind. "The aim was to match people to the socialist design of Soviet society.""

GamerGate: A Closer Look At The Controversy Sweeping Video Games - "What it boils down to is many people feeling upset that the video game space has been so heavily politicized with a left-leaning, feminist-driven slant. I’ve heard from many readers claiming they have no problem with more women and gay people represented in games; they simply don’t want every game to be critiqued based on these factors... [there's] a strong reader backlash because many readers don’t want to be told what’s good or bad about a game’s social politics, they just want to hear about the game itself... we have a glimpse at just how much each side of the equation loathes the other, how each side has labeled the other in order to dehumanize them. Whatever truth belongs to each label, simply utilizing these sorts of terms in any debate is more about propaganda than it is about digging for answers... Whether or not some people are capitalizing on a culture of victimhood is a matter largely of opinion, and not something that can simply be stated as fact any more than alleged, unverified death threats against anyone ought to be reported as fact. So much of this is mired in speculation and partisanship at this point that it’s almost impossible to see the forest for the trees. Anyone selling you simple answers is likely ripping you off."
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