Tag: 2021

Weekend Links: Female Rage, Activated

We have a LOT to unpack, kittens.

General mood.

Today I learned

The first giant beauty brand has fallen under the axe of COVID. Or is there more to the story?

Amazon disrupted paid books, and it’s now disrupting the lending medium.

Feminism is a fractured movement. After all, what does a single mother in a favela have in common with a Manhattan socialite? Yet the pandemic—or more accurately, the economic shutdowns imposed to contain it—has affected women and girls around the world in remarkably similar ways.”

Our longest war never had much of a consistent (or legal, to my mind) justification. I remember arguing this point my freshman year of uni in a freshman writing class and I have never wavered in my thoughts on the matter. But it’s beyond clear at this point that so many people are unable to quit it, and unfortunately for us a lot of those people work at the Pentagon.

Gripping mystery.

I found this piece indescribably comforting because my brain has felt so broken for months now. Long COVID, “brain fog,” and other descriptions don’t come close to explaining it, even though both are accurate. My ability to focus is shot to hell right now.

Ouch. Right in the feels!

Nope, but I’m willing to bet the Catholic church gets there before the Mormon one does.

Nicely done, Guam. ‘Bout time.

HOOOOO BOY. Let’s talk about that Oprah + Sussex interview. There is literally no one better at interviewing than Oprah, no one.

A comprehensive take on the wider context.

For two generations, women who marry into the Royal Family have been expected to be thin, fertile—and silent. Meghan embodies all the negative stereotypes Britons have about our distant cousins across the Atlantic: too loud, too brash, too much. It will be beautifully ironic if this American can, by speaking out, change the tone of royal coverage in Britain.”

Much like No 10, the Palace has an undoable PR and comms job most days…but still, it took two days to come up with this hilariously inadequate response?

Couple complain about perceived abuses of media, media figures displays the exact same behavior in question, media figure loses job. IT’S THE WOMAN’S FAULT, SURELY. Full disclosure, I hate Piers Morgan and his particular brand of offensive oppinutainment and provocation. I like to think this sort of approach is on the decline but there are holdouts.

Misogyny is flying fast and thick this week, between the Sussex vitriol, the horrible murder of a woman here in the UK sparking discourse on women’s safety, and Tucker Carlson getting his ass handed to him by the Pentagon after he decided to turn his provocateur gaze on women in the military…and separate to his sustained and targeted attacks on a female journalist. Like Morgan, I can’t wait for this noxious brand of personality media to die.

And finally, our political system is WHOLLY INADEQUATE for this, but far from soundbites, we need actual deep philosophical discussions and substantive challenges on a number of political and policies. For example, what do we actually want out of a justice system? Because whether your ambition is “deter crime” or “rehabilitation” or ” appropriately retribute…” our political and social status quos aren’t necessarily aligned with our stated aims. Anyway, Abby puts it a lot better and more creatively than me:

Year of Intention: February

A spacetime paradox: the shortest month of any year is, in the year of Our Lady Beyoncé 2021, the 13th month or 350-something’th day of March 2020. Trying to mark the passage of time feels like a futile effort these days, but I’m trying to really bring back the accountability and favorites posts as they sort of help fill that void for me.

Wins

Depression made life rough this month and took a toll on my physical health as much as my mental. But physiotherapy is helping to improve my bad knee and hip, this month in spite of myself. Shoutout to Six Physio, their team has been fantastic to work with at every single stage thus far.

Speaking of depression, it’s amazing how much it messes with your head and rationality. It’s been on my To Do list since the start of the year to build my credit history more in the UK as part of the buy-a-house-someday goal, and for no good reason whatsoever, I’ve been putting off things like a credit card application (I’ve used my international/US cards and mostly bank or shop in a cash-based way here in the UK ever since we moved here). Well this month I girded my metaphoric loins and started the process… And of course the inevitable conclusion is that it took me less than 15 minutes to do something that I’ve been failing to do for two months and I’m sure there is a great life lesson in that which I will refuse to learn.

Continued weekly meal prep this month, and layered on a mini goal to do more vegetarian meals. I mean, that just means I exchanged meat for cheese in absurd qualities, but sure, let’s call it healthier.

Continued reading massive amounts of books, including a few classics in and amongst the pure, satisfying trash. I had a very senior director in my company casually drop into conversation when we doing a project catch up that her weekend plans included Wandavision and a “stack of trashy novels” and I have honestly never felt more SEEN in my life.

This was month two of paying off credit cards in full and putting 1,000 into savings. Next month looking at opening some longer term savings or investment accounts.

Fails

It’s self-centered to write, but I’m continuing to struggle with my weight and my intentions in this space. There is a definite dearth of willpower and I don’t know how best to develop it.

Household upkeep generally was another willpower problem are this month. Mustering the energy to finish chores sometimes felt like too much work, which is probably another symptom of depression. But the practical upshot was that unfolded laundry languished on the sofa for days and dishes stayed in the dishwasher longer than they should have. Not ideal, but oh well. There’s a pandemic on. Be kind to yourself, kittens.

Weekend Links

Hi darlings, your internet aunty is deep in the throws of a depression spiral over here, so this note won’t be as perky or as snappy as usual. Like everyone else, I seem to have hit some kind of horrible wall recently. Must be the upcoming one year anniversary of our LATEST bout of existential threat or something. Seasonal depression, meets pandemic depression, meets normal depression.

In between multiple bouts of crying every day, I’ve slapped together a surprisingly good bunch of links for your reading pleasure. Seriously, there is a lot of great and fun stuff for you this week, just in case like me you are completely unable to summon any serotonin.

The Senate of the United States, having a normal one over here…

Our building has seemed suspiciously quiet for a while now

My long term thirst for Henry Cavill over most of the competition was and remains solid evident of my good taste. And is there any more petty but thrilling pleasure than when your aesthetic preference is also acknowledged to have been The Correct Choice? It’ so satisfying. The Man From UNCLE is still a great and underappreciated movie, though.

REDWALLLLLLL!

Oh good, only a year and change too late.

Friend of the Blog Caitlin Kelly strikes again, on how Bridgerton’s influence is only beginning, and how it’s giving whole communities of experts and enthusiasts their due.

Speaking of costuming, let me recommend a couple of channels and creators to truly send you down a rabbit hole this weekend:
Abby Cox, a dress historian specializing in the 18th century and not afraid to Go There when it comes to stuff you really want to know about boobs, periods, corsetry, and more. She’s also hilarious, historically rigorous, and just an overall feminist delight. Bernadette Banner, an Edwardian expert and former Broadway costumer who uses her personal experience with scoliosis to delve into dismantling myths about shapewear, highlights traditional craftsman and houses, and roasts fast fashion using medieval tailoring. She’s a babe. I particularly recommend her latest vid about the effects of Bridgerton on athleticwear. Yes, really.

Overdue but still very welcome for Black History Month. We would not have almost any genre of American music, much less global dittos, without the unique heritage of Black culture and pioneers.

Well well well, if it isn’t the consequences of our actions

What a badass.

Likewise, what a gent–even when no longer with us.

As per usual, Ronan Farrow (speaking to Amanour and Company) breaks down the differences in the insurrectionist mob of January 6th, what separates them, and what unites them in thoughtful and accessible ways. Worth a watch:

My honest to goodness reaction at seeing this story was, “OMG look at the itty bitty dinosaur!”

Anti-Asian racism and racist incidents are on the rise, including for Pacific Islanders and many ethnic and racial groups that come under that broad category. Don’t forget that we can and must advocate for several communities individually as well as under broad umbrellas such as “immigration” and “people of color.” If your privilege protects you against certain bigotries, stand up for individual communities as well as broad groups. These are not mutually exclusive.

Ignoring the headline, which I expect will put some people off, this is an excellent discussion on the role of conservatism can play in preserving democracy or breaking it. Ardent and die-hard leftist that I am, I actually agree with the thesis that it’s the behaviors of the right that really determine the path of governments because they are often the institutional guardians of what we retain and why, while the left’s role is (broadly speaking) to push for change. Both of the institutional tensions need to exist in healthy ways for democracy to work.

Good. Because I have no faith that the Senate will impose any consequences. Literally none.

This week I learned a fascinating piece of history for the first time, and one that showcases the complexities of racial privilege in America. Mixed race families, slavery and sexual consent, “passing,” and class differences all rolled into one, and a Second Lady you have never heard of.

I AM NOT A CAT. The 2021 battlecry of everyone who has utterly lost the Zoom plot.

Weekend Links

Kittens, I suspect even my mild case of COVID hit me harder than I thought it did. One month on and a persistent feeling of exhaustion remains, and I’m trying to figure out it it’s just the usual January blues, the pandemic lockdown blues, or the widely touted longer term effects of the disease which has officially killed over 100,000 people in the UK.

Chicken and egg, eh? Am I broken…or is the world just kinda like this now?

I have no conclusions. Scholars remain divided.

Anyway, in spite of…everything…there are moments of joy to celebrate. Hannah’s THIRD book was announced, and X got engaged! Truly friendships are the balm of the soul, I’m so delighted for my girl squad I could just bust. Here’s your usual mix of Deep and Dumb from the internet to get you through the last weekend of the first month of this sure-to-be-cursed year.

We are still finding out more about the Capitol raid and ProPublica has a great (if somewhat distressing) compliation piece on the POV from Parler before it lost its hosting options. Sidenote, the whole attempt by the GOP to just pretend that January 6th never happened is sort of making me lose my mind.

And as America has exported QAnon conspiracy theories across the Atlantic, European conspiracy theories and disinformation are also making their way to the United States.”

I think people aren’t nearly concerned enough with the Fermi paradox overall, but that’s just me. If the universe is empty but for us…why? And if it’s not…where is everybody?

Everything Is Broken. “If…the idea of mass brokenness seems both excruciatingly correct and also paralyzing, come sit with me. Being on a ship nearly 4 million square miles in area along with 330 million other people and realizing the entire hull is pockmarked with holes is terrifying. But being afraid to face this reality won’t make it less true. And this is the reality.”

100,000 people are dead in the UK and still these people

If you want it in a sentence, I guess it goes something like this: The GameStop saga is a ludicrous stock mania born of pandemic boredom and FOMO, piggybacking off of a clever Reddit revenge plot, which targeted hedge funds, who made a reckless bet on a struggling retailer—and it’s going to end with lots of people losing incredible amounts of money.” It was a wild week on Wall Street, fam.

Facts may not care about your feelings, but your partisan view does not care about facts. That’s bad and scary for all of us.

Trauma-bonded nostalgia for the 90s and how the 30-year cycle of reboots displays itself in pop culture and politics. Also summarized generational anxiety in its current form more succinctly than anything else I’ve come across: “…and young people don’t feel trapped by the future, because nobody believes in the future anymore.” But also a plea to give up on nostalgia and try brave and terrifying alternative possibilities instead.

My freshman year roommate at university and I had a theory, that The Emperor’s New Groove is the most quotable movie of all time and that there is a quote for practically every occasion. I have yet to be proved wrong.

The gamers are at it again.

Natalie strikes again. This video is nominally about TERF doublespeak, but as per usual, is also a parable for so many more issues related to bigotry and what underpins it. It’s also a timely examination as to how all kinds of groups use specific language techniques to have the conversations they WANT to have (“Why should I be forced to think trans identities are valid?”) instead of the conversation that actually IS happening (“Do people deserve respect, legal autonomy and human rights?”).

When your worldview is a lie

I know I am not as sympathetic to those caught up in conspiratorial thinking as I logically could be. I know how the manipulation works, how media echo chambers function to reinforce the things you already believe or want to be true and insulate you against any difference of thought, and how radicalization works regardless of whether it sends you left or right, religious or secular.

Humans and groups are complex and there are no tidy narratives. I saw people attacking and beating police at the Capitol and I saw people ostensibly on the same side trying to protect those victims. I am sure there are people who never imagined that a protest would turn into a violent storming of the Capitol…but I am equally sure that there are people who knew exactly what they were doing and planned for it.

The evidence of this is mounting every day.

How they were meeting, coalescing, and coordinating on social media.

How specific some of their individual or group agendas were.

How they are not going to stop.

How more is already being planned.

Sympathy for the devil?

And so, no, I do not think of all of these people involved in the storming of the Capitols in exactly the same way…but I am struggling to parse the categories correctly. I think many of them are victims, but where does that victimhood end? In addition to willful bad actors, some were probably just caught up in a moment, the collective conscious of a mob. The vast majority of them have been lied to and isolated from alternative points of view for so long that many people do believe we are living through some kind of cataclysmic crisis.

If I believed some of those things, would I be willing to do something drastic about it? Yeah, if I’m honest with myself, I can see the appeal or at least the logic. Everyone likes to think that if put in the circumstances of history, that they would make the valiant and historically vindicated choice. Well, a lot of these people think that’s what’s happening and they are trying to make what they understand to be a valiant choice. There’s a strange sort of bravery in it.

The problem is…the underlying premise of their belief is deeply, tragically flawed. The people who converged might have nuances and differences, but underpinning all of them is a collective, fatal lie; that the election was invalid in some way.

What do we make of genuine attempts at heroism for a false cause? It’s the same logic of ISIS, the crusades, leftist eugenics of the late 19th, early 20th century, and more. Fervent commitment to a false cause is a human problem, it’s always been with us.

So, what do?

So while I want the people who did illegal and violent actions on January 6, 2020 to face the requisite legal repercussions for their actions, I still think the long term focus MUST be on the ecosystem that made this not just possible but probable. Garbage in, garbage out. We should hold people accountable for their individual actions, but we MUST hold responsible the people who should have been a check on the worst of this and didn’t. And yes, that includes the President, which is why I think impeaching him is the right thing to do. There needs to be deterrent for leaders and those in power from feeling able to leverage violence and extremism – whether through incitement, tacit approval, or passive acceptance – for their political benefit.

I don’t know what to do long-term, however, about the problem of living in alternate realities that are founded on these beliefs. QAnon believers still believe President Trump has a plan to take down a global pedophilia and hormone harvesting ring of Satan worshipers (yes…really…). NeoNazis are already spinning last week as a victory that validates their views and appeals to new recruits. Lots of various other groups believe that they are going to be marched into concentration camps, have their guns confiscated, that the government is about to enact martial law, and any other variance.

Each of these worldviews shares a trait: they have an almost religiously protective reaction to any attempts to persuade them otherwise. It reinforces their faith more than harms it. It’s why I wrote about giving up most of my attempts to argue with people who disagree with me with a view to convincing them – because I’ve lost confidence that it actually produces an effect.

But then, what will work? The only thing I can think of is rooting it out, which is also why I favor deplatforming and push back strongly when it’s called censorship. It isn’t.

We have to confront the ecosystems that create and sustain brittle and false worldviews. This is partly what activists mean when they want to dismantle white supremacy/racism/misogyny, or dispute terminology in a way that makes conservatives mad. It’s also what produces so much backlash against this activism – see paragraph above. If your worldview premises are challenged and they are somehow fundamental to your identity (religious, political, social, you name it), you might interpret a different opinion or movement as an attack. And you might respond accordingly–that’s exactly what’s happening.

We don’t have to be talking about “isms” for this logic to work. I could say the same same is true of the systems of education and media and politics in which we find ourselves, which have helped shape deep and entrenched identities. At a deep level, I’d say this gives insights into how left-leaning people like me position themselves and why. Because I don’t want to dismantle existing systems of power (white privilege, patriarchy, the worst iterations of wealth inequality, and so forth) because they are MEAN or UNFAIR–a criticism often lobbed which I think is juvenile and patronizing. I want them to end because they are founded on lies or false narratives.

We have to confront the lies at the core of these identities. Otherwise they will do what extremist and reactionary movements have always done – reconstitute themselves underground until they see another chance to break out again. History demonstrates this over and over.

The Big Lie

Ultimately I keep coming back to thinking about lynch mobs, that horribly American historical precedent. This is absolutely stemming from seeing a gallows erected on Capitol Hill. People are frantically debating whether it was meant to be symbolic or was intended to kill people…and I think that utterly misses the point.

It’s as useless an argument as whether we were supposed to take Trump “literally or seriously,” because ultimately…it doesn’t matter. The big lie enables and justifies either outcome. That’s why it’s so dangerous.

Looking at the history of lynchings in America, it is actually rare that every single person would have participated in the actual torture and murder of the victims, many would have been spectators or even treated it as some kind of ghoulish community event. But everyone in those crowds would have thought what was happening was “right,” “justified,” or even “righteous.” They would have believed that this action would have been taken because the victim, almost inevitably a person considered inferior or dangerous (whether Black, Jewish, German, Chinese, or any other group) “deserved it.”

You didn’t have to be the one slinging a rope over a tree limb to participate in the big lie of racism. They believed what they were doing was right, whether they watched from a picnic blanket or murdered with their bare hands. These might not be considered equivalently evil acts when viewed in isolation through a purely objective lens – but you can’t do that. Both are categorically underpinned and linked by the same false and evil premise and you cannot detach one from the other.

To do so is to capitulate to the lie. And ultimately, that’s what they want.

Weekend Links

Guys, I just

I mean…

The thing is…

I can’t. Have some links. Let’s catch up in the comments.

See, the American right needs its viewers and product consumers absolutely livid with rage and grievance…but not enough to actual riot over it. That’s a tricky balance, and I’m not surprised they lost control over it. That’s always the end result of rabble-rousing. I wrote about this back in 2016 and the last four years have only reinforced my thinking on the matter.

Hells yeah, and I’m one of ’em. Shout out to my doctor who explicitly said she didn’t want to take me off my meds in winter in a normal year and she definitely wasn’t going to do it in 2020. Bless her.

A story about emeralds, the best gem:

Indeed, there are things from 2020 we need to retain, and righteous anger is one of them. And activism, which is not at all what the storming of the Capitol was.

This story is bizarrely engrossing.

America under Trump became less free, less equal, more divided, more alone, deeper in debt, swampier, dirtier, meaner, sicker, and deader. It also became more delusional.” Yeah…but he owned the libs, so…

I know we shouldn’t be surprised by anything this may does anymore, but still – HOLY SHIT.

A grim assessment.

Locking the barn doors after the horses have stormed the Capitol….

Who cleans up after the coup?

When you feel betrayed by your messiah figure, what happens to belief? Well, you despair, you hold out hope, or you wait for a sign. MAGAland is bang on target. But I feel obliged to repeat, this is also bang on target for fascist movements which will stay enraged and look to the next guy to lead them to victory. Apart from his personal failings, which are legion, the long term risk of Trump was that he would pave the way for someone much better at the authoritarian dictator gig than he was.

Starting to think misinformation is bad and dangerous, fam…

Understanding the new mutations of the coronavirus.

Do. Not. @. Me.

Fascism is at its most base and basic, the singling out of chosen, “superior” in-groups to enjoy the protection and backing of those in power–from vicious rhetoric through violent means–at the direct expense of villainized outgroups who are denigrated, disempowered, and at worst violently targeted.

And here’s the thing: you can’t fake it. You can’t cosplay fascism on the weekends. You can’t indulge in a little light fascism for fun and profit. You can’t enable it, it thinking it will benefit you but that you can leave it behind when it becomes just a little too distasteful. You can’t flirt with fascism. It’s not what you believe, it’s what you do.

Because due to the very nature of the ideology and by design there are ultimately only two categories–the fascists, and their victims. You are either with them or you are against them, and all the evidence of history shows us that there is no room for conscientious objection. The structure does not allow for it. Sooner or later, whether because you truly believe in it, or are just willing to look the other way while others enact it, you end up with the fascists or on the enemies list. Every. Single. Time.

A lot of people have cosplayed as seditionists and lite-fascists for so long that that’s what they have in effect become. It frankly does not fucking matter what is in their heart of hearts. Fascism is what you do, not what you believe.

You can be shocked but only the dangerously or willfully ignorant can claim to be surprised over the events of the last 24 hours. This is the wholly predictable (and indeed, predicted!) culmination of years of media manipulation, deconstruction of institutions (including the very notion of god damned objective truth), and the coddling of the absolute worst of our national character and history. It doesn’t matter the numbers of their minority, what matters is the vigor of their commitment and intent.

Every single politician who did the devil’s arithmetic and calculated that they could infinitely head a mob, continuously whip it to greater heights of rage, and expect to stay in charge of it, your ignorance alone should disqualify you for public office. The entire weight of history is against you. Every person who told themselves that by staying in the room and abetting the worst tendencies of a malignant narcissist with the nuclear codes they were somehow doing us all a favor, your hubris is insulting as it is laughable. Every official who is performatively resigning with less than three weeks left in their tenure, your cowardice and self-interest after spending four years enriching and empowering your ingroups is naked. You deserve to be hounded from public life. Every single person who shrugged at the antics and rhetoric (which you would NEVER have tolerated from anyone outside your precious ingroup), you are complicit not in just the coarsening of our public life, but in a rising tide of nationalism and authoritarianism which you were happy to go along with when it benefitted you…BECAUSE of the people it harmed, not in spite of it.

Fascism isn’t something you believe, it what you do. And you are either with them, or you are against them.