A Woman’s Worth?

every woman in this pic tho pic.twitter.com/6Y2SvY4YlU

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The Kavanaugh hearings are a shit show but they do show what a corner certain parts of society have painted themselves into:

  • They’ve tried to argue, “it was a long time ago,” and lost the moral high ground because there is no expiration on decency
  • They’ve tried to argue, “even if it DID happen, he’s a good man,” and lost the moral high ground again because good men (and there are PLENTY OF THEM) don’t harass women
  • They’ve tried to argue, “the mistakes of youth shouldn’t follow people,” and lost the moral high ground for simultaneously holding opinions that young men and women who commit petty crimes or fall pregnant should have those choices follow them for the rest of their lives
  • They’ve tried to claim respecting women, and then got the highest office in the land to cast doubts and aspersions on the women who have come forward (almost all of them admitting fear of doing so, having seen what happened to Anita Hill and knowing how many of the EXACT SAME MEN will be questioning them in the same way).
  • They’ve tried to use the “drunken/slut/drunken slut” aspect…but women aren’t tolerating that shit any more.

There have been libellous accusations made on Twitter that cross the line into outright conspiracy theory. There is some evidence of coordination of smear tactics and commentary amongst allies (looking at you, Senator Hatch’s office). And even as more and more accusations of bad, crass, and increasingly ugly behavior piled up, the Senate seemed hell bent on trying to fast track his confirmation.

In other words…

The hearings have also underscored for me that if there’s anything people who benefit from a powerful structure can do, it’s ignore the corners.

Kavanaugh’s defense of himself was all the things that a woman, a person of color, or frankly any member of the non-patriarchy could never be: tearful, a bit petulant at having to defend himself in the first place (a textbook definition of privilege), indignant, and emotional.

Every male Republican senator who questioned him expressed sympathy for having to deal with the accusations. There were far fewer expressions of sympathy for Dr. Ford for her ordeal. Lindsey Graham seemed to be auditioning for a role on the Cabinet with a shrill explosion that interrupted Ms. Mitchel, the lawyer hired to question Dr. Blasley Ford and the nominee. The reigns were never really handed back, meaning that Dr. Blasley Ford was questioned by a trained lawyer, Judge Kavanaugh was questioned by his allies. The Cable News Watcher In Chief tweeted his support.

This whole story has been an exercise in patriarchy closing ranks in self defense. I have no doubt that there will be a committee vote today, and I expect he will be seated to the Supreme Court. In spite of a desperately partisan biases on display (on both sides, yes, but one has to wonder how his statements may come back to haunt him in his future rulings). In spite of credible questions of bad behaviour and poor judgement. In spite of it all.

At some point, the ruling party (and a whole lot of society) is going to have to make a decision: are women–their bodies and their stories, their truths and their needs–disposable or not? Is the safety and autonomy of girls and women worthy of defense and respect, worthy of holding powerful men to account and denying them advancement and prestige when they violate it?

Or are women’s bodies acceptable collateral damage on your route to power? If yes, fine. Own it. It’s misogyny, and it really is that simple.

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I Can Tell I’m Getting Older Because…

“The afternoon knows what the morning never suspected.” 
― Robert Frost

Standing on hard floors in bare feet is really uncomfortable and I now require house shoes to wander around my own space.

10pm feels late.

“Going out,” of any variety, sounds like an enormous amount of work. I still willing to put it in, mind you…but socializing now requires planning, foresight, and effort and not just whimsy.

I’ve had to google a slang phrase that I’d never heard before sometime in the last week.

Random parts of my body have started aching or feeling “off” for no readily apparent reason.

I love fashion, but I have to stop myself from harumphing the style choices of The Kids These Days (TM).

On that same note, a lot of what was once in style for me has now come around BACK into style. In some cases more than once!

I love heels. I no longer am able to spend a whole day in them.

Salads are now a reasonable choice for dinner. When did that happen?!

Younger friends talk to me about their dating shenanigans and I’m confused at the amount of apps and pop culture knowledge required to understand their stories. My sympathy, however, is undivided! The kids out there are dealing with a lot and if ever I am suddenly widowed, that’s it. I’m adopting 12 cats and calling it a day. I am not cut out for the jungle anymore!

 

Farewell Summer 2018

“Why the **** would I throw shade will all the sunshine!”
– Big Freedia

I am not a summer child, I’d rather feel cold than hot any day of the week, and cooler temperatures always meant jumpers, books, and school season, but I’ve grown more fond of the summer over the years. I don’t have the wardrobe figured out, but I’ve grown better at holidays. And while I still hate feeling overheated, I’ve grown to appreciate the seasonal doses of Vitamin D since living in the UK.

I’ve had some hard summers here. 2014 was a bit of a low point, and 2015 wasn’t that much better, but the last few years have been marked improvements. Travel has absolutely helped, Greece last year and Prague this year, as has a much better work balance and better contracts.

As Summer 2018 winds down, I’m already prepared to look back on it fondly as an overall success. The politics were bad, but the pop culture was good. I’ve not been reading enough, but I’ve consumed a lot of fun podcasts and series, and I’ve become a much more wide ranging news and non-fiction reader (socio-economics is my current theme of study). My health drastically improved and after winding down a satisfying contract, I started up a new and challenging one that I’m both intimidating and excited by. I’m almost afraid to put this out there, the universe being a conniving and changeable entity, but things feel very good right now. Far from perfect, and plenty still to cause worry, but good. I don’t feel that way often, and I like to enjoy it when I do.

This fall I’m looking forward continuing to try and write more. I’m sure you’ve noticed the uptick in posts and word count ’round these here parts, it’s been a bit sloppy in some cases but intentional. I’m looking forward to playing with my wardrobe and bathroom shelf more. I’m looking forward to spending more time with my husband–we’ve both worked hard this year and are starting to be able to enjoy the results of that effort a bit more, which is deeply gratifying. I’m really look forward to travel and good friends! Jeff and I are going to try and squeeze a minibreak in somewhere if we can afford it, we’re going to my parents’ house for Christmas this year (thanks to my parental units’ generosity) for what looks to be a full house, and Katarina is finally coming to visit before her first novel debuts and she becomes too famous to jet around the world!

I don’t have anything else particularly profound to say except that I’m trying to just sit with the progress and the gratitude a bit before the summer draws to a close. I do not practice gratitude enough and usually am so busy with thinking and planning ahead that I don’t remember to just take a beat. So before the bustle of the fall (the best season, fight me if you dare) hits, I just wanted to jot down a brief farewell to a season that has served me well. Pouring one out for you, summer, looking forward to catching up next year.

Weekend Links: We Need to Talk About Kavanaugh

“The President and the Congress are all very well in their way. They can say what they think they think, but it rests with the Supreme Court to decide what they have really thought.” 
― Theodore Roosevelt

Darlings, again Friday is upon us and again I have put together an absolutely scrumptious and extra long list of links for you. I am making an effort to leaven political news with humor, thoughtfulness, and ardent feminism. FUN! And once again, I’m dropping this post early because it’s already ridiculously long. This is probably unwise because all the news bombs drop on Friday these days, but oh well!

This week, of course, the FEMA Chief is under investigation, a former National Security Adviser is having charges brought against him, the administration announced another $200m in tariffs (aka, fancy taxes), a Supreme Court nominee stands accused of sexual assault in his minor years (and the nation doesn’t know what to do with this information). It’s provoking a lot of challenging conversations, which is good, but I still believe he is likely to be ramrodded into a seat on the highest bench in the land, which I believe to be bad. It is not too high a bar to clear to ask that our Justices be either free from or cleared of such allegations before taking a lifelong appointment.

Should past sins haunt a man for the rest of his days? Well, it depends. A lot of people who say that a teenage mistake should not condemn a man for the rest of his life are gung ho about a teenage girl carrying an unwanted pregnancy to term, or jailing other teenagers for life for some infractions. Others seem to want to declare an amnesty period for all men: prior to 2018, no sexual crimes should count against us, we know better now! …As if we didn’t have laws or society expectations until two years ago when this reporting started coming out. Overall, a lot of people seem to want a revolution without having to pay a price or do the work required to make society better. Part of that work is the uncomfortable task of holding people to a new standard, even when it’s “your guy.”

Meanwhile, this guy in particular is the culmination of a near half-century strategy to stock courts with justices of a particular political persuasion. He’s also been appointed by a president who is under investigation for obstruction of justice. What are those in power willing to overlook in order to meet their goal? Well, we will see. I expect: all of the above.

We’re in the midst of Fashion Month, so this investigative reporting on the shocking wages some craftswomen earn whilst propping up some of the world’s luxury fashion houses is very well timed.

Americans need to stop believing that women do the majority of care work because we want to. It’s because we’re expected to, because we’re judged if we don’t, and most of all, because it’s incredibly difficult to find male partners willing to do an equal share of the work.”

Another story that should be too stupid to be real, but is.

Guys, did anyone else not realize that “comedic wildlife photography” was a thing? If so, let me share some recent enlightenment with you!

From the very beginning, the devices that the Founders hoped would prevent the rapid mobilization of passionate majorities didn’t work in all the ways they expected,” writes Jeffrey Rosen in The Atlantic.

This weather report went viral for a reason. (language warning on the link) This is a great example of how media and digital innovations can be used to educate and provide context to a population.

There is something deeply, deeply chilling about the idea that a sexual assault allegation surfaced about a Supreme Court nominee and somehow his supporting party had a 65-signature letter ready to go to testify to his decency. In other words…the Republicans knew. And it was not disqualifying or even worthy of commentary, just a problem to be preempted. I felt physically ill reading these updates.

Hot DAMN, what a thread!

Everything is going to kill us

YouTuber and Guy On the Internet CGP Grey is thinking about something that I too am thinking about a lot. I have felt my own attention span shrink over the years and have also filled up silences with the noise of podcasts, videos, music, the endless phone scroll, and so on. And I also wonder collectively what this is doing to us as a society in which most of our problems require long term solutions and our patience and ability to focus is in ever dwindling supply.

Further to the previous link, this piece about the confluence of our current tech and culture and our own primal instincts (and the damage it might be doing) is a sobering but worthwhile read.

This news story is chilling and bizarre.

I want to frame this entire Vox piece on the “redemption” arc of #MeToo perpetrators and what so many (mostly men) are STILL NOT GETTING. “By any sane moral calculus, concern for restorative justice or redemption ought to focus on the victims. The women. What is their “road back” from the harm C.K. did to them? How will they be restored or redeemed? What are we doing for them? What is C.K. doing for them? This is what women see: that somehow, we’ve made men the protagonists again. Somehow or other, it always ends up being about the men, their struggles and second chances, our feelings for and about them.”

What do women want from the #MeToo men? More than the bare minimum of human decency, writes Anne Theriault.

…it seemed to me essential, as a bare first step, for the man in question to understand that his experience is not inherently more important than the experiences of women, to acknowledge what he did, and that it was wrong. This is the minimum precondition for the better world we’re struggling toward. It is amazing, if not surprising, how many of the men in question are incapable of it.” Give this woman all the accolades.

NO SHIT.

I believe her.” A powerful essay.

How good men become complicit in protecting bad ones. (Can be extrapolated to any powerful group over less powerful ones; see also: police.)

Dealing with good art from bad people.

The 2008 Financial Crisis officially kicked off ten years ago this week. I had quite literally just graduated from university a couple of weeks earlier.

The Economist is celebrating their 175th anniversary with a manifesto issuing a call to rekindle liberalism as “universal commitment to individual dignity, open markets, limited government and a faith in human progress brought about by debate and reform.” It’s well worth the read.

Interesting.

I loved this article by Pandora Sykes in interrogating what we share and what we withhold, especially in a culture where our ability to overshare has never been greater.

I will be very upset if Gen. Mattis goes.

WHO WANTS THIS? WHO ASKED FOR IT?

Give this man a programme and a massive budget to accomplish this mission.

The gross catch 22 of the pro gun lobby when it comes to black men in particular (in the wake of the hideous murder of Botham Jean): more of you should be gun owners to prevent harm being done to you, but possessing a gun will automatically put you on the threat register of law enforcement and common citizens and make you more likely to be the target of violence or a police shooting.

Speaking of, what would stop or at least limit mass shootings? One journalist decides to ask an unlikely set of experts: mass shooters.

This is my local farm and my local piglets. Return them, scoundrels!

Planet Money re-released their first ever episode in honor of both their anniversary and the anniversary of the global financial crisis they were more or less founded to help explain. It’s a doozy in retrospect. They’ve also listed their Top Ten episodes which are well worth a listen! This has been an important show both in the trajectory of podcasting as a medium, and more me personally as I’ve lived through a recession and learned a lot about economics and money through quality journalism and nonprofit medium.

This seems…well…unsurprising and increasingly common.

Guys, this is super awkward, but one of you is going to need to buy this for me.

No. Just no to the awful and tired phrase, “boys will be boys.” Boys will be men someday, with the power and weight of patriarchy behind them.

We as a society need to take a long, hard look in the mirror on the subject of basic empathy and kindness.

Salute the Captain!

The Duchess of Sussex nailed her first major public issues project, but what we need to talk about is how absolutely adorable and lovely her mother looks!

Weekend Links

“It’s 4:58 on Friday afternoon. Do you know where your margarita is?”
Amy Neftzger

Another Friday is upon us and I’ve compiled a bit batch of weekend reading to get you through the long hours until the Sunday Blues! It’s been another wild week of news and we have much to discuss. Meet me in the comments!

#FreeTheNipple goes way back!

Something wicked

The joy of fall dressing is real!

A thoughtful take on the future of a franchise.

Super normal.

Super great.

“Be aware of false balance” is an editorial directive that should get behind a lot more topics and not just this one in particular.

Two queens. I appreciated the conversation this sparked about how and where women’s rage is still deemed inappropriate, even among champions. Also, women supporting other women (especially in the face of absurdity and impediments) is literally the best thing in the world.

This follow up piece resonated within me like a struck bell: demand the apologies you deserve.

More good things to look forward to as a species.

It’s not an accident that the US President and others has tried to rebrand protests against police brutality (and by extension racism, corruption or bad faith). It’s a conversation a lot of people are desperate to avoid.

More allegations. Genuine question: when does Ronan Farrow sleep? [ETA later this week: Moonves and others out. Good. But my god, do NOT try and fuck with or attempt to discredit Farrow.]

Just awful.

This should be unacceptable and completely avoidable in a modern, advanced society.

GOALS GOALS GOALS. Shut up and take my money!

A thoughtful take on this next phase of #MeToo we find ourselves in.

Another one bites the dust…I’m very sorry to say.

Answer: no, but good question.

Shock. Surprise. A lot of our preconceived notions and propaganda points about immigration are wrong and the actual facts are fascinating!

A break from terrible news for this tease!

This story is a good example of something that I find troubling and an example of how certain bad faith actors are incredibly good a manipulating media. It is very common for conservatives in particular to say that conservative viewpoints are censored–when what they really mean is unpopular in popular spaces like certain social media platforms. This is bad faith because it denies the reality of algorithims which cater and boost content relevant to the viewer in question–meaning that a person with a certain viewpoint is actually statistically likely to get their view reinforced with content. It is also bad faith because it fails to acknowledge the wealth, power, and influence of the conservative media machine and the fact that conservative politicians and appointees are in power at every level of state and federal government. What censorship?! The President routinely favors and calls into certain networks and platforms while vilifying others. Organizations who are led by left-leaning individuals are then pressured into appearing unbiased in favor of their own view points and, in my opinion, go out of their way to then cater to opposing view points. This is, of course, exactly what the aim of the accusations is in the first place. Again, bad faith.

We have a new president…of Planned Parenthood!

Absolutely fuck this noise. The number of immigrant children being detained has spiked again.

Let us celebrate the anniversary of his never-ending war with Eddie.

We have a contender for the “most dystopian phrase I’ve heard in a while, and boy isn’t that saying something” category from Mr. Bezos.

And finally, we have another contender for the “worst thing he’s ever tweeted” category this week:

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ETA: your Friday news blast.

Read Any Good Books Lately?

“It is what you read when you don’t have to that determines what you will be when you can’t help it.” 
― Oscar Wilde

A question for your Monday, kittens: do you go through phases in your pop culture consumption? I ask because I’m trying to read as close to 100 books as I can this year and after a strong start, a couple of months ago I just sort of trailed off a bit. I must have been in a podcast kind of mood because the vast majority of my media, entertainment as well as information, has come through audio rather than books for a good couple of months. This is weird, because I LOVE to read.

So, I’m making a concentrated attempt at finishing some of the items on my library list, and I’m looking for recommendations.

I’ve recently finished, “The Power,” by Naomi Alderman, “Fantasyland: How American Went Haywire,” by Kurt Andersen, and “Norse Mythology,” by Neil Gaiman. I’ve been working on, “White Trash: the 400 Year Untold History of Class in America,” by Nancy Isenberg which should be required reading for anyone who ever wants to open their mouth on class or race in America in public. I am also counting down the days to a couple of new romances by Tessa Dare and Lisa Kleypas, who are two of my favorite writers in the genre.

Basically, I read everything. Give me a list of what you’ve loved and why in the comments. Has a particular genre tickled your fancy? I read a few political books earlier this year but have largely taken a break from them because…the news. I am particularly interested in more philosophy or economics if anyone has suggestions, but I also accept trashy bodice rippers, ground breaking YA, and trippy science fiction!

I Miss Style Blogs

“Create your own style… let it be unique for yourself and yet identifiable for others.” 
― Anna Wintour

Quick question, those of you kittens interested in fashion, beauty and style: which bloggers and channels have you followed for years, and why? I’ve unfollowed a lot of style blogs over the years–not because I don’t like or want to support them as a medium, but because I’ve gradually found so many of them to be less and less interesting or unique. In fact, in retrospect, I think I have tended to unsubscribe in batches when I just get bored of certain sites. I saw too much repetition, too much similarity of content, and too many overlapping aesthetics. Instagram and other social media have compounded the problem, both in the fashion and beauty spaces and (off the back of a chat with Katarina), I’ve been thinking about this lately in the wake of last month’s Week of Outfits project.

Frankly, I miss the “old” style blogs of about a decade ago. The ones where (mostly) women and girls crafted unique and instantly recognizable fashion senses, sometimes with a lot of money but often without. I never begrudged them the odd PR gift or contract because I trusted them to blend the items they received for free into the style they had taken the time to publicly develop, curate and share.

Of COURSE there are still people out there creating beautiful images and good writing around style and beauty, but I’m surprised by how few writers and videographers I follow now than what I used to. There are plenty of stylish (mostly) women out there who do really good and thoughtful writing about style but the rise of monetization and blogger-directed PR has complicated the kind of writing I see. The beauty space is sort of notorious for this. You can tell exactly when the PR machine has kicked in for a new launch because quite suddenly every single blogger and YouTuber will produce content raving about a product or line at exactly the same time, usually using very similar language. NARS just launched a new mascara and every beauty blogger and their photographer boyfriend seems to have ended up in Ibiza for the press party. I don’t necessarily begrudge them their good fortune either…but I’m not going to watch a dozen vlogs of the same event featuring the same people and rave reviews of a product they couldn’t possibly have road tested.

In some ways this new reality isn’t massively different from the magazine model, but I think that blogs and magazines are different platforms in key ways and that has always informed the kind of coverage they did. For a long time, editors were seen as arbiters not just of good taste and style, but also good judgement and trusted recommendations. PR has obviously affected this too and it is increasingly easy to either see or at least make informed guesses about how PR money is influencing coverage.

I get it, it was always sort of inevitable that a full blown business model would emerge around “influencers,” and as I’ve said I don’t really fault the women who are able to make livings off of it. Good for them! I sure as hell don’t think I could do it! But I still miss that era of internet writing and visual display all the same.

A few writers and YouTubers I still follow these days include…

Audrey a la Mode – writes about and films content on “slow fashion” and thoughtful shopping. Because her style is fairly classic, she is able to really demonstrate the value of second hand shopping and building an intentional wardrobe. A lot of her outfits are straight from Town and Country at any point in the last 50 years, but her content has always struck me as very authentic and genuine.

Where Did You Get That – equally enthusiastic about vintage and ready to wear, her enthusiasm for shopping and style is infectious and, because she makes a point to mix old and new pieces and buy what she loves, she has cultivated her own aesthetic. She loves clothes and it shows.

Sea of Shoes – one of the OG style bloggers who is famously eclectic in her tastes, mixing couture and eBay finds.

The Anna Edit – a British beauty blogger who has since branched out into a lot of style and lifestyle content, but one I’ve followed for a long time. She’s another example of a blogger who has maintained what feels like a very authentic and consistent voice, which I like, and she also writes thoughtfully on mindful consumerism and how she makes certain business choices.

The Frugality – Alex is another British blogger who I’ve met and briefly got some work experience overlap with in my freelance days at Red Magazine. These days she a full time freelance stylist and writer, who blogs about style but also the London home she and her husband are renovating together with a newborn in tow.

I clearly have certain “types” when it comes to the women I follow. I am interested in self-aware and authentic women who like what they like without excuses, and are intelligent and intentional about their lives and respective styles. I am interested in women who have something to show or say, and not just sell.

So again, who do you follow in the “style and beauty” world, and why? What about their content speaks to you? Let’s chat in the comments.