Mostly, I’m posting some highlights this week so I have an excuse to share this picture with you. It makes me smile every time I look at it.
There were some wonderful posts this week on reaching outside ourselves with compassion and non-judgment. Since Hanna’s meditation homework for the week (she’s taking a series of classes on the eightfold path) was to only speak words which were “kind, true, and necessary,” I thought it would be appropriate to highlight the work of folks who are encouraging us in that direction.
Amanda Marcotte @ Pandagon mused on political dynamics of the bile directed at so-called “hipsters.”
What’s fascinating to me is that these narratives are so evocative in our culture, and the consequence of that is that the group being bashed as smug and elitist—hipsters, liberals—is assumed to be the ones that have to do the compromising and apologizing. The mainstream narrative in our culture is that hipsters have all these privileges of good taste and pleasure (which is impugned into money, though statistically, I’m guessing they’re no more or less middle class than their traditional bashers), and therefore they’re the ones who need to be taken down a peg, even though in the real world, the people bashed as “smug hipsters” are hardly exempt from being treated like shit for who they are, which is one reason they shun living in rural and suburban communities where they’ll be excluded and choose to live in urban areas where they can find people they get along with.
Read more at The Narrative of Inauthenticity.
Anna @ FWD/Forward writes about how the world-at-large continues to presume that only able-bodied folks participate in real life activities … until someone with disabilities has the temerity to ask to be included in everyday life.
What I end up getting out of this story is that the burden of pushing for something to be accessible pretty much consistently falls on people with disabilities themselves. We have to ask because no program, no building, no website, will be willingly designed with the idea that people with disabilities are part of a broader target audience. Only websites, buildings, and programs aimed right at people with disabilities will do so. (Until laws are passed, of course. And even then the law will be only grudgingly followed.)
Accessibility is often treated like a favour that non-disabled people do for (or even to) disabled people, one that is given out of the goodness of one’s heart. It’s an individual’s problem to bring up, and the solution is for individuals to come up with.
…We don’t act like putting a door in the front of our building is a favour we are doing. We assume that doors are necessary. And yet, people treat having a ramp to that door as a favour they are doing, when the ramp serves the same purpose: it allows people to come inside.
Read more at Accessibility is Not an Individual Problem.
Rachel @ The Feminist Agenda talks about how effortless it is to write with respect about transgender folks.
None of these things appear to have required a superhuman effort on the author’s part. None of this required arduous editing and rewriting. Perhaps this is because the author appears to have simply approached the story as if it were about a real human being, deserving of just treatment and human compassion.
I propose that this approach could serve as a model to guide you in your coverage of news stories involving transgender people. Just think of them as humans, and treat them with the kind of respect that you want to be treated with. I promise you, it’s not that hard.
Read more at How It’s Done.
Anna North @ Jezebel reflects on what it means to parent a child whose appearance or behavior is deemed “weird” by the majority of society.
…sadly, being a “weird” kid doesn’t always turn out so great. The father of bullying victim Asher Brown said of his son, “He was very different. He’s not the type of kid that would try to wear the newest clothes or try to do the coolest thing. He was an individual.” And for this, Brown was tormented until he committed suicide. Of course, some kids who act differently from the rest are embraced — but unfortunately, some suffer.
That doesn’t mean Asher Brown’s parents should have made him dress differently, any more than they should have made him pretend to be straight. The people who need to change are the perpetrators, not the victims of bullying. But at the same time, let’s not pretend that being the “weird” kid at school is easy. Parents need to support their kids’ individuality, but they also need to watch out for signs of bullying, and teach kids to talk to an adult if it happens. And, unfortunately, they may need to advocate strenuously for their kids’s safety, because schools don’t seem all that good at doing this on their own.
Read more at Should Parents Let Their Kids Act “Weird”?
Tumblr blogger lucy @happy monsters shared the following thought, which I will include here in its entirety.
Instead of judging someone, calling them slut or whore or dumbass or jerk or whatever, isn’t it easier to tell yourself you simply don’t understand their lifestyle and let it go? I’m something I used to dislike, only because I used to be ignorant. And now I understand. People have different lives and different upbringings, make different choices, like different things; to each and everyone of them their decisions are just as justified as yours are to you.
Next time you call someone a bad word, remember that there is someone out there who’s just as willing to judge you for what you do because they don’t know you. Then you complain about judgmental people? No one wants to be a bad person, honestly, but they’re deemed so by people who don’t understand them. No one. Furthermore, people are governed by emotions most of the time, just as much as you are yourself, so try walking in someone else’s shoes for once. Strong emotions almost always hinder rationality, just because you are more sober than someone at a given time doesn’t mean you’re any better at handling things.
I need to remember this, even if I’m not making sense, even if none of this is true. Because so far it’s working and I’m beginning to empathize with everyone around me better. Long way to go, though. Long way to go.
Check out the rest of lucy’s blog at happymonsters.tumblr.com.
And finally, Lisa Factora-Borchers @ My Ecdysis has written a follow-up post to her beautiful (and oft-cited) explanation of the term “kyriarchy” in which she challenges a recent mis-use of the term in an article published in The Guardian. The Guardian author suggested the term was about “individual liberation.” Lisa writes
The purpose and measure of kyriarchy – and feminism in general – is not to increase our time at the microphone so we can more accurately assign BLAME. The purpose and measure of kyriarchy is to further understand the power and crippling tendencies of the human race to push, torture, and minimize others. It is in our nature to try and become “lord” or “master” in our communities, to exert a “power-over” someone else. Kyriarchy does not exist to give us tools to further imprison ourselves by blaming our environment, upbringing, or social caste. It is the opposite. Kyriarchy exists to give us tools to liberate ourselves by understanding the shifting powers of oppression. It is not about passing the megaphone to men so they can be included in the oppression olympics. Simply check-marking our gender, sex, race, ablity, class, citizenship, skin color and other pieces of identity will not free us from the social ills of our stratified society. Kyriarchy is not the newly minted alarm clock to wake us up to what’s wrong. It exists to radically implement our finest strategies to deconstruct our personal and political powers for the liberation of self and community. For self AND community.
Which is why I so vehemently disagree with Hodgson who believes that the most helpful piece of kyriarchy is “its emphasis on individual liberation…”
Please indulge my own theory-making right now: There’s no such thing as liberation if the word ‘individual’ precedes it.
I cannot speak for Elisabeth Schussler Fiorenza. I cannot pretend to even guess what Hodgson herself means in writing that phrase “individual liberation.” However, in the spirit of feminist theology, in the spirit of radical understanding of power, I would argue with 100% confidence that the absolute LAST thing that kyriarchy strives for is individual liberation. Solely pursuing your own liberation often comes at the expense of others. That’s not liberation, that’s mainstream feminism.