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Posted by Libby Anne

Last week scientist Matt Taylor wore a shirt covered with scantily clad women for a live interview. When women called this out, one individual responded by creating a shirt covered with burka clad women, which he dubbed it feminist approved.

shirts 2

Reader timberwraith responded to the burka shirt as follows:

I’ll share an observation of the burka vs. skin dichotomy made by many feminists long before this particular this gent’s clothing issues reared its mediocre head.

It doesn’t matter whether you are talking about expecting women to cover up from head to toe in service to “modesty” or you are talking about expecting women to wear as little clothing as possible in service to sexual gratification. Both instances revolve around cis het men’s sexual desire and the expectations that arise around them. In the first case, women are expected to adjust their clothing choices i n deference to avoiding the titillation of men’s sexual desire. In the second case, women are expected to adjust their clothing choices in deference to enhancing men’s experience of sexual desire. They are both two sides of the same coin: patriarchal societies expect (and often demand) women to constrain their clothing choices and more generally, their lives, in deference to cis het men’s perceived sexual needs and desires in accordance to the ways that men’s needs and desires are constructed and filtered through an all pervasive sexist, misogynistic cultural matrix.

In both cases, we are talking about sexist oppression. In BOTH cases.

So, the continued juxtaposition of widespread, over-sexualized images of women as symbolic of sexual and gender liberation in contrast to burkas and similar restrictive clothing as representative of sexism and misogyny run amok is bullshit.

Topolect writing

Sunday, 23 November 2014 05:22 am
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Posted by Victor Mair

This is an interesting question raised by the Writing Chinese project at Leeds.  Helen Wang mentioned it to me in the hope that I might be willing to share my thoughts.  I'll do Helen one better and share this with many others, in hopes that they too may be willing to share their thoughts.

I'd like to call to your attention this project at the University of Leeds.  It's about contemporary fiction from China.

They have a bookclub format – with a new book and author for discussion each month. It's intended to be inclusive and open to all.

Helen went along to a one-day event they organized on 1 November – very well-attended with a genuinely welcoming atmosphere, and a good discussion. They also have an online forum.

The author for November is Yan Ge, a young woman from Sichuan who tries to bring Sichuanese topolect/local expressions into her writing.

The online forum discussion started with this:

One question that came up in our bookclub discussions today on this chapter (and also in the masterclass last week) was the use of Sichuan dialect, or local slang. From a translator’s viewpoint, how do/should/can you deal with this?

On a broader but related topic, while in our Leeds group (unfortunately without any Chinese native speakers present) we could all discuss at length the notorious obsession in the UK with regional accents and related prejudices / stereotypes of class / backlashes against class etc etc, we couldn’t quite work out whether or not a Chinese readership is likely to have a similar response — what does it mean nowadays for a Chinese reader in, say, Beijing to read a story where characters speak in a Sichuan dialect?

and is currently asking:

I suppose the question I’m wondering about really is to what extent a Chinese reader reading 我们家 feels the local Sichuan flavour of the setting, and then what that implies in terms of cultural assumptions/stereotypes etc.

Two things I [VHM] never do:  refer to Sichuanese, Cantonese, Pekingese, Taiwanese, etc. as "dialects" or "slang" (the latter is especially demeaning).  I simply call them "topolects", which is a neutral designation for them and which is also an accurate translation of the Chinese term FANG1YAN2.

" The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 5th edition"   (11/14/12)

" Mutual intelligibility" (5/28/14)
(see the long list of posts linked at the bottom)

"What Is a Chinese “Dialect/Topolect”? Reflections on Some Key Sino-English Linguistic Terms," Sino-Platonic Papers, 29 (1991).

Also here and, for a complete lists of my LL posts dealing with topolects, see here.

See, as well, The Classification of Sinitic Languages: What is “Chinese”, which is a chapter from this book:

Breaking Down the Barriers: Interdisciplinary Studies in Chinese Linguistics and Beyond

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Posted by Victor Mair

What would you think if you encountered terms like this?

Two-oriented Society

Three-zation / Threezation

You might wonder if the people who dreamed them up were high on something when they produced these opaque, unidiomatic renderings.  Yet such terms are official translations of Chinese expressions.  As such, they have entered the stream of global English.

The first item is the Chinglish rendering of liǎngxíng shèhuì 两型社会.  It refers to a "resource-conserving and environment-friendly society".

The second item is the Chinglish rendering of sānhuà 三化, which refers to "new industrialization, new urbanization, and agricultural modernization".

Here the "threezation" policy is linked to a "three-driven" strategy.

When I try to grapple with such Chinglish expressions, I experience a feeling of disorientation in my own language.  I get a similar feeling when I confront key concepts in North Korean ideology, such as the famous doctrine of Juche.  This seems pretty innocuous when rendered as "self-reliance", which is the usual translation, but I don't think that's what Kim Il-sung had in mind when he first pronounced this doctrine on December 28, 1955, which is why it is sometimes referred to as Kimilsungism.

Despite the fact that the North Koreans have tried, as much as possible, to purge their language of Sino-Koreanisms, this is a clear example of such vocabulary.  In Hangul, it would be written 주체, but in Chinese characters it is 主體.  In Mandarin, that would be pronounced zhǔtǐ and would have meanings such as these:  "subject; main body / part; principal part; mainstay".  In philosophical discourse, Juche would convey the idea of "subjectivity" or "agency".  In political parlance, however, Juche has the connotations of "self-reliance" and "independence".  But the North Koreans seem to have run with the term and put their own stamp on it to such a degree that I find it very difficult to grasp the meaning of Juche, much less render it into transparent English.

Summing up:

liǎngxíng shèhuì 两型社会 ("two-oriented society")

sānhuà 三化 ("threezation")

Juche 主體 (""subject[ivity]" –> "self-reliance" –> "independence" –> "Kimilsungism")

If such terms of political and intellectual discourse come to us with ready-made English renderings, should we go along with them, or should we provide our own more idiomatic and felicitous renderings for them?

Not to mention "running dog", "paper tiger", and many other Chinglishisms that are already firmly embedded in current English.

Cf. "Xinhua English and Zhonglish" (2/4/09)

"Hurt(s) the feelings of the Chinese people"(9/12/11)

"Chinese loans in English"  (7/10/13)

[Hat tip Tansen Sen]


Is the Emerging Church Relevant? [Liveblog]

Saturday, 22 November 2014 09:26 pm
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Posted by Tony Jones

This week I’m at AAR/SBL, and I’m liveblogging some of the sessions I’m attending. Emergent Art Car This session is sponsored by the Critical Research in Religion group, and it’s called, “Is the Emerging/-ent Church Relevant?”

Xochitl Alvizo of Boston University gave the first presentation, Is the Emerging Church Important from a Feminist Practical Theological Perspective? Her thesis is that the few hipster white men who make up the popular perception of the Emerging Church Movement [ECM] are effectively erasing the truth, that the ECM is a large group of diverse people who are questioning church practice and theology. To imagine the ECM as a deconstruction of conventional church means to move beyond the high profile names and to, in the words of John Caputo, “Make the impossible happen.” This is exactly what feminist theologians have been doing since Mary Daly in the 1960s. The ECM can be measured in its success by this same metric as feminist theology. Alvizo studied 12 congregations to see if they are what they say they are: relational, organic, and inclusive. She looked for the congregations’ ability to question their own embedded patriarchal habits. Her findings are not yet complete, and she is analyzing her results. But two of the most pressing questions so far are, 1) the structure of the ordained clergy. Traditionally, the ordained clergy have a monopoly of the teaching and the power, disempowering the laity and keeping the liturgy from being the work of the people. Alvizo has found that ECM clergy are renegotiating these roles and attempting to subvert the traditional clergy roles. And 2) the relationship between ECM congregations and denominations. She has found that while some ECM churches are attached to denominations, they are often uncomfortable with the patterns of authority in those denominations. Shenandoah Nieuwsma, of the University of North Carolina and Elon University presented, Certain of the Uncertain: The Emerging Church’s Quest for Authenticity and Meaning through Aesthetic Experience in the Technological Age. Millenials, she says, are unusually open to nuance and gray in truth claims. Her students at Elon seem always to be asking, “What does this have to do with me?” Millennials want to decipher truth through their own senses. As such, the ECM’s commitment to seeking truth through aesthetics may have special currency among millennials. Nieuwsma then talked about a particular congregation, Emmaus Way in Durham, North Carolina. Direct bodily experience more than taught intellectual content reveals truth in this congregation. She particularly pointed to the church’s artistic philosophy and their practice of détournement. That is, “conversion and therapy” groups take pieces of art and subvert them, using them for the exact opposite reason than their original intent. She concludes by saying that the ECM deserves more attention at AAR for several reasons, including its commitment to democratic negotiation and aesthetic truth. Next was Randy Reed, Appalachian State University, The Southern Strategy: The Potential for Emerging Church Recruitment among Southern Millennials. Reed started by painting a picture of the religiosity of Southerners. What’s been found by researchers is that millennials are dropping their affiliations both with evangelicalism and with the church writ large, and this is true as much in the South as anywhere. So, shouldn’t the ECM be attractive to Southern millennials? Potentially, yes. when he gave quotes from ECM leaders to Southern millennials in focus group, there was significant receptivity to those quotes. Openness and questioning were seen as positive aspects of the message of the ECM. When it came to the Bible, it was both compelling and problematic. The groups were shown a short video in which Brian McLaren compares the Bible to either a constitution or a library. Some found this very attractive, but others thought this was the place where the ECM went over the line. Making the text the locus of authority is deeply problematic, Reed says, since a text does not interpret itself. What is really authoritative is a community and its interpretation of the text. But a mainline, liberal initiative that downplays the importance of the text will not work. Instead, the ECM could make forays into the South since it both takes the text seriously but also employs a postmodern hermeneutic toward the text. Finally, Michael Zbaraschuk of Pacific Lutheran University presented, Playing Defense or Offense? The Theological Playbook of the Emergent/ing Church, with Some Armchair Quarterbacking. He admits that he went into the preparation of his paper thinking that he would be very critical of the three people he studied: Rob Bell, Peter Rollins, and Your Favorite Blogger. But instead, he found more depth than he was expecting, and more implicit critique. Bell wears his seminary training lightly, says Zbarachuk. He is sympathetic to process thought, and he’s resonant with Pannenburg. He has a “process sensibility” in his writings. What is Bell post-? He has not, for instance, given up on the Bible as a grand narrative, so he can’t be properly called a postmodernist. Bell has also said that our interpretations are getting better, making him almost a hypermodernist who believes in progress. In general, Bell is on the offensive. Next, he talked about me. I’m going to skip writing about this part, since it’s too weird. He said I’m balanced between offense and defense. Finally, Pete (who’s sitting next to me). Pete is not playing offense or defense. Pete has abandoned the Biblical narrative and is playing a different game altogether. Questions from Zbaraschuk:

  1. Is the ECM just another version of consumerism?
  2. Is the ECM just as reliant upon big name personalities as other movements?
  3. Is the ECM really as radical as ECMers would like it to be? He used my metaphor of “feral Christians” from The New Christians to ask this question.

The Big Announcement

Saturday, 22 November 2014 06:04 pm
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Posted by Tony Jones


Last night was pretty epic, at least by AAR/SBL standards. We had a standing-room-only crowd for the live recording of Homebrewed Christianity with John Cobb, Catherine Keller, and Jack Caputo. IMO, the quote of the night came from Cobb:

It was around that time that the hotel staff came in the room and confiscated all the beer. Fortunately, most of it had been consumed by then.

At the end of the evening, Tripp Fuller and I announced a new partnership between HBC and Fortress: Theology for the People. That is, The Homebrewed Guides to Christianity. That’s right, the galaxy’s top theological podcast is going to bring its irreverent, smart talk to the page. The first book, The Homebrewed Christianity Guide to Jesus by Tripp Fuller will be out by AAR/SBL next year. And other spicy volumes will follow.

Watch this space for more info, and stay tuned for the podcast we recorded last night. It will be available soon.

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Posted by Roger E. Olson

The Ultimate Horror Story: Reflections on Stephen King’s New Novel Revival (Spoiler Alert)   I rarely read a Stephen King novel or any similar novel of the “horror” genre. They’re just not my “thing.” I’ve read a few of that genre that I thought were good, such as Ray Bradbury’s classic Something Wicked This Way [Read More...]


Saturday, 22 November 2014 01:37 pm
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Posted by Mark Liberman

Frazz continues to explore vocabulary and its measurement:

World Book of Faith

Saturday, 22 November 2014 12:21 pm
anglomedved: (Default)
[personal profile] anglomedved

For the past year or more I have been either translating or correcting some fifty or so texts for a ‘World Book of Faith’ to be published next year in English by a Belgian editor. It follows on an earlier World Book of Happiness and a World Book of Love. In my view it is better than either.

The texts come from Christian, Islam as well as Hindu and Buddhist and Confucian sources, with the odd Wicca thrown in for good measure, and include both big names (for Christianity: Metropolitan Hilarion Alfayev and Prior Enzo Bianchi) and smaller fry.

The great majority of texts express for me an honest attempt to come to terms with the ‘mysterium tremendum’ of that which is greater than ourselves and exercises a call on our lives. Most of the writing comes from the edge, rather than the centre of organized religion, which is probably a good thing. The two or three which gave me trouble were the Christian ones where I sense the Christian message of ‘love God and love your brother’ has elided into ‘love God in your brother’. The standing naked before one’s creator, and the readiness to be turned inside out by him have gone by the board. Instead of this deep conversion we have a ‘reframing’ of Christianity as ‘do good to your neighbour and feel guilty about living in a society that is richer than others’. I am not saying that Christianity does not command us to feed the hungry and clothe the naked, but if it no more than that, it is no more than enlightened humanism, and there is no need to go to church or fight with God. Which is indeed what has happened, particular in northern European Protestantism. Put at its harshest: if you cannot feed people’s souls, and give them something to live for beyond themselves and their neighbours, it probably makes precious little sense feeding their stomachs.

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Posted by Fred Clark

How bad is the politicization of white evangelical religion? How thoroughly has every trace of the gospel been replaced by partisan political sloganeering? It’s this bad:

After speaking to a Sunday school class about immigration, a woman asked if she could talk to me. She pulled me aside and whispered, “I think there’s a girl in my daughter’s class this year who is, umm, not legal. What should I do?”

She explained that her daughter had befriended a new girl. When they talked, the student was evasive and said she wasn’t allowed to say where she lived for fear someone would take her mother away and send her back to Mexico. The woman asked me, “What should I do? Do I need to turn her in?”

I assured the woman that she had no reason to report the girl or her mother and suggested she encourage her daughter to invite the girl over instead. “But couldn’t we get into trouble if she’s not here legally?” the woman asked.

I often hear these kinds of concerns when I speak about immigration.

That’s Dale Hanson Bourke writing at Christianity Today. What she means there when she says “I often hear these kinds of concerns when I speak about immigration” is that she often hears these kinds of concerns when she speaks about immigration to white evangelicals.

Because they’ve completely lost the map.


Nice white Christian ladies welcome the stranger in Jesus’ name. (Dallas Morning News photo by Ron Baselice)

What does this show us? It shows us a people whose “concerns” — whose response to the actual stranger in their midst — is not primarily shaped by the gospel, by their “relationship with Jesus,” by “the authority of scripture,” the Bible, or any of the other stuff they’re always on about. Their response is not shaped by those things at all.

It is shaped by Fox News. And AM talk radio. And the National Religious Broadcasters. It’s shaped by the explicit right-wing partisanship of Charismanews and by the the implicit right-wing partisanship of Christianity Today.

It has been reduced to a shrinky-dink caricature of Christianity, one in which that phrase — “the stranger in your midst” — is not even recognized as a massive biblical motif, except perhaps maybe out of context, in reference to a fetus, because that is the primary and almost the only meaning that “Jesus” and “the Bible” have anymore, as a shorthand for criminalizing abortion.

Just consider how many utterly wrong turns one has to take to arrive at the position in which a little girl comes to your Sunday school class and your first thought is “Do I need to turn her in?” That’s sick.

Sure, it’s good to see Christianity Today pushing back, ever so slightly, against some of the ramifications of this sickness. Hanson Bourke offers a helpful explanation for CT’s readers to correct some of the more ludicrous lies they’ve apparently ingested wholesale from Fox and “Christian” radio. But here again, the goodness of what’s being said is overshadowed by the fact that it needed to be said at all.

Here’s the final point in Hanson Bourke’s article. Just consider what it means that a group of Christians needed to be told this:

5. It is not against the law to welcome a family into your home or help them, even if they are undocumented.

Including new children in the classroom in your family events is a wonderful way to help them feel accepted. Showing hospitality to a child or a family whose immigration status is questionable does not create legal problems for citizens.

New children in any classroom often feel lonely and need a friend. Children whose families are from a different country or culture can feel even more alone. As I assured the woman at church, reaching out to such a child is not only legal; it is a special act of kindness that will benefit not only that other child, but her child as well.

OK, so now these Christians know that there is no legal barrier to stop them from helping undocumented children. Against such there is no law.

But consider the deplorable modesty of the argument Hanson Bourke has to make for her evangelical audience. She’s not reassuring them that they won’t get in trouble for all the help they’ve been providing to immigrant families, because their Fox-addled Republicanism has barred them from providing any such help up until now.

Actually, helping these families is an idea introduced by Hanson Bourke. The “concern” she’s heard from evangelicals wasn’t about whether or not they would get in trouble for helping other people. Their concern was, again, “Do I need to turn her in?”

Jesus Christ. By which I mean, listen to Jesus Christ: “I was a stranger and you did not welcome me.” Therefore you “are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.”

Do I need to turn her in? Holy motherloving hell.

A century ago, American churches were busily expanding their “home mission societies” to minister to immigrants arriving in America. They cooked meals, helped provide housing and clothing. They taught English lessons and helped immigrants find work. That early-20th-century home mission work was also harmfully entangled in all sorts of colonial attitudes, problematic ideas about assimilation and Anglicization, etc. But even if their acts of mercy were, in part, due to imperfect motivations, those Christians were still responding to the arrival of new immigrants with acts of mercy because that’s what Christians do.

They knew this. They did not have to be argued into it or persuaded and cajoled into accepting the idea. White evangelicals today apparently do not know this. Such acts of mercy are not a part of their identity. Particularly not when it comes to the Others they hear demonized in their daily devotionals from Fox News and Christian hate radio.

Something has gone very, very wrong.


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Posted by Brianna Kovan

Screen shot 2014-11-21 at 2.25.47 PMIn a 15-minute address Thursday night, President Obama issued an executive order that will expand protections and opportunities for undocumented immigrants in the U.S. and their families. Last year, the Senate passed a comprehensive immigration reform bill, but House speaker John Boehner didn’t let the House vote on it, claiming that Republicans didn’t trust Obama’s administration to effectively implement it. Yesterday’s executive order, which is expected to protect up to 5 million people, sidesteps Congress completely.

In short, the immigration reform will:

  1. Offer temporary legal status to undocumented parents of children who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents, allowing them to apply for work permits (on the basis that they’ve lived in the United States for a minimum of 5 years, pay taxes and pass a background check)
  2. Expand the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program—which allows people who were brought into the United States as children to apply for deportation deferrals and work permits—by extending the eligibility cutoff from 2007 to Jan. 1, 2010.
  3. Reallocate all of the Department of Homeland Security’s enforcement resources to deporting undocumented immigrants who are criminals (rather than deporting law-abiding people).
  4. Expedite the process of reuniting families who have been broken up due to immigration obstacles.
  5. Create a faster, easier process for highly skilled workers and entrepreneurs to move and change jobs, rather than waiting years for approved working visas.

President Obama’s executive order has a particular impact on women, who make up 51 percent of the immigrant population. Immigration reform is, at its core, a women’s issue: According to the National Network for Immigrant and Refuge Rights, most women immigrate to the United States in order to “reunite with family, to make a better life for their children, or to escape oppression, discrimination and violence that prevent them from living full and free lives in their home countries.”

Thanks to Obama’s executive action, many women will now be able to focus on creating and cultivating fulfilling lives, rather than constantly fearing deportation. Additionally, many more undocumented women can now vocalize workplace injustice and domestic violence without fear of deportation.

While this is a giant step forward for immigration reform, there is still work to be done: The current plan does not extend benefits of the Affordable Care Act to undocumented immigrants. In a press release following Obama’s announcement, Feminist Majority Foundation president Eleanor Smeal said:

Although the announced executive actions are an important first step, we continue to call on Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform that will reach all immigrants and that will ensure that everyone has access to comprehensive health care. The current plan does not enable taxpaying immigrants who qualify for temporary relief to access the benefits of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) health care marketplaces, Medicaid, or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

According to a report from the Guttmacher Institute, the 6.6 million undocumented women between the ages of 15 and 44 are more than twice as likely to be uninsured, as compared to their native-born and naturalized counterparts. Lack of health insurance makes women more susceptible to cervical and other cancers and sexually transmitted infections, and more likely to become pregnant unexpectedly.

Thus, while we join people around the country in applauding President Obama’s efforts, there is still significant work to be done. In reference to the immigration reform, Obama said during the address, “That’s the real amnesty—leaving this broken system the way it is.” The lack of access to health care is the next “broken system” that needs fixing.

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Screenshot taken from The White House‘s Youtube video of the announcement. 



Brianna Kovan graduated from the University of Michigan with a B.A. in English. She is currently an editorial intern at Ms. 

Choking on a Waterfall of Watermelon Seeds

Friday, 21 November 2014 09:00 pm
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Posted by Nikky Finney

447070421_1b541ff3c7_zReprinted with permission from Nikky Finney

On Wednesday night Jacqueline Woodson won the 2014 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature. After she left the stage the host of the National Book Awards, Daniel Handler, told the crowd that she, a Black woman, “was allergic to watermelon” and then implored the crowd at the National Book Awards to “let that settle in your mind.” I found myself staring at my laptop and choking on a waterfall of watermelon seeds.

What was spit and spoken out into the celebratory New York City night was bigger than Daniel Handler’s racist joking comments and Jacqueline Woodson’s stunning marvelous win.

News reports immediately called the comments “unfortunate.” Really? That’s it? That’s all you have to say?

What was spit and spoken, was spit and spoken, into a National Book Award microphone, in front of a National Book Award logo, and launched out into a world that hears such “unfortunate” comments all the time and rarely does anything to try and make it right, in order to abort the next racist moment to come, rarely steps into the moment courageously, by saying something, anything, about it, no matter who said it, but decides instead to simply wait for the present “unfortunate” storm to pass so that we can get back to life as normal.

Life as “normal” for this Black girl’s life has meant that every day in America I have to be prepared to endure the shotgun fire of old watermelon jokes aimed at my heart and my life. After the shotgun fire of these “unfortunate” words I am then told to stand there and “let it sink in” as if it wasn’t already lodged beneath my skin like a spray of bullets and then I am expected to just move my broken Black girl heart along. The old LP record starts to play: Pick up some Duck tape on the way home Black girl, bandage up your wounds for the umpteenth million time—you’ll be fine in the morning.

The words Handler spoke were spit and spoken into my face just as they have been spit and spoken into my black face for most of my life. The truth is: his words were spit and spoken into all of our faces. His racist “unfortunate” words are part of what keeps us where and what we are as a country that refuses to deal with “race.”

I was born into this violent and strange Black people and watermelon world. I grew up hearing and seeing watermelons, not as ruby sweet fruit, but as strange fruit slung into my face and hanging from trees as accompanying racist representation of Black people and the cutting emotional and physical violence that stalked us two hundred years ago and keeps stalking to this day.

Before cutting on the National Book Award ceremony I had come home from a day at my office, an afternoon spent preparing notes on Claudia Rankine’s book CITIZEN, which my MFA students are reading and discussing, which happened to be one of the five 2014 National Book Award poetry book finalists.

I thought I was safe. I thought I had left all of Rankine’s moments of “invisible racismmoments that you experience and that happen really fast” at the office.

Suddenly and without warning Handler throws his watermelon joke up into the air like a Monday night football pass that anybody in America can catch. The watermelon breaks against the posh black-tie Cipriani restaurant lights and shatters into the keyboard of my computer without warning. I stare down at my fingers.

Everything is red and sticky.

The Zora Neale Hurston quote that Rankine uses in her book as oar, “I feel most colored when I am thrown against a sharp white background” launches into my chest and begins to pound me against the laughing cyber audience at the National Book Awards.

I hear some in the audience laughing into the cavernous room along with Handler and his ridiculous rocketing racist joke. I stand up in my house and stare at the lap top screen. I look at the door to make sure it is locked. I look around to make sure I know where I am. I look down at my feet to make sure I am not standing in front of my 13, all-white, MFA students, in a calm discussion about quotidian racist moments in America, in our end-of-semester text, a week before Thanksgiving.

I am in my house, right? With the door locked, right? Safe on my blue couch, right? I have left all of that other behind, for now, right?

Not, right.

A few hours pass and I calmly and with respect send an email to the National Book Foundation suggesting that it might go a long way if they were to issue an apologyon behalf of the organizationwho gave the microphone to the man, who we now know, did not deserve a microphone. I am told, by the National Book Foundation, that it does not feel an apology is warrantedby them. I am told that if the National Book Foundation apologized it might seem as if they had done something wrong and not the host himself, who had already apologized on TWITTER.  I am told an apology would place the light on the racist remark and not on the winners themselves.

While washing my red sticky hands off in the kitchen sink I wish that the National Book Foundation had known my grandmother.

One summer at my grandparent’s farm, when I was 9, I spent the day fishing with two friends. On the way back to our individual homes, one of those friends picked up a handful of river rocks and aimed his proud elbow at a trio of bottom windows in Mr. Elijah’s barn. I stood there watching with my jaw dropped, amazed at his accuracy and his blind arrogance.

Later that night, after word made its way back around to our individual families about what had happened that day, all three of us were marched together back to the Mr. Elijah’s house. I didn’t understand. I told my grandmother that I had done nothing wrong. I tried to make my case for my innocence by even showing her how I had kept my hands in my pockets, as Eugene had been the one who picked up and threw the rocks. But my case fell on wise deaf ears.

“You were there,” she told me. “You are not responsible for breaking the glass but you are responsible for walking away as if you were not involved, as if you were not there, as if you did not have the power or the courage to do something to try and make it right.”

Winning the National Book Award for Poetry, in 2011, was a great honor but before that I won something far greater, what my grandmother taught me about collective responsibility.

I am sending this missive out today in order to keep reaching for the writer in me that Ursula K. Le Guin spoke of yesterday as she accepted the 2014 National Book Award for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, the one who writes for freedom, and I will refuse, forever and a day, to remain silent about the cozy racism that the National Book Foundation, and the rest of us who occupy the human race, but sit silently by while the watermelon jokes fly, spraying their staining red meat and black seeds on us all.

Even if our mouth was not the mouth that said itwe still must have and find the courage to speak out against such moments as these, lest all our windows be broken, lest all our great literary celebrations be reduced to a watermelon patch.

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Photo courtesy of Flickr user the Humanette licensed under Creative Commons 2.0


Nikky Finney is the author of four books of poetry: Head Off & Split (2011); The World Is Round (2003); Rice (1995); and On Wings Made of Gauze (1985). Finney also authored Heartwood (1997) edited The Ringing Ear: Black Poets Lean South (2007), and co- founded the Affrilachian Poets. Finney’s fourth book of poetry, Head Off & Split was awarded the 2011 National Book Award for poetry.

Smart people saying smart things (11.21)

Friday, 21 November 2014 10:58 pm
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Posted by Fred Clark

Questions From a Ewe, “Please don’t blame your sexism on Jesus”

I think the most offensive thing that you said, which I know you’re just parroting what other sexist clerics have said before you, is the bit about blaming your and the clergy’s sexism on Jesus.  I must insist you all stop doing that.  Please own your sexism and stop using Jesus as your scapegoat. Christ didn’t give us an all-male priesthood.  The men and their male hegemonic culture gave us an all-male priesthood. Truly, for heaven’s sake, own your discrimination; own your sexism.

Eliel Cruz, “How a conservative Christian can have a loving approach to homosexuality”

I understand why having full theological affirmation is important to many LGBT friends of mine. A theology that says intimacy between same-sex individuals is a sin is a theology that considers LGBT people as second-class children of God. Yet, there will never be a full theological consensus on same-sex sex for all of Christianity. We’re too diverse in our hermeneutics, backgrounds, and beliefs to ever all agree. But can someone have a traditional stance on their understanding of this topic and still be a loving and safe person towards the LGBT community?

Darnell Moore, “I’d Rather Go to Hell for Telling the Truth”

Years would pass before I was able to love myself more than my church members, former pastors, and even God supposedly loved me. It’s complicated because the churches I attended were spaces where my spirit was healed and killed. In fact, some of the worshipping spaces I attended were home to some of the most caring people who just happened to proclaim uncaring theologies. But I had to leave toxic worshipping spaces, and friendships, which had me believing lies. I had to separate myself from church leaders and parishioners who apparently “loved” me so much they felt the need to torment me with bad theology as opposed to allowing me space to live a full and loving life, with integrity, surrounded by affirmative people. The price of gaining entrance into their “heaven” would have been hefty, costing both my life and soul, had I stayed and believed their words.

Doktor Zoom, “Obama Said Words From the Bible, Is That Even Allowed?”

You might think that conservatives would be delighted that Obama, what with his devotion to atheist Muslim liberation theology, had finally invoked the Bible for the very first time in his public career, but instead, they were astonished that his lips did not catch fire from quoting the Worship Words, which are for Yang Chieftans only (and don’t even get us started on the people in comments sections attributing “The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose” to the Bible — you know, from Paul’s Letter to the Merchants Of Venice). …

So, to sum up, children: Barack Obama never mentions Jesus or the Creator or quotes the Bible, and that is terrible. Except for when he does quote the Bible, which he obviously doesn’t understand and despises. And now all these nice people will go to church and pray for Jesus to rescue America from all these goddamn brown people.

Maria Joanna Krol-Sinclair, “To the Guy I Punched in the Face in Prague”

Now, look, I don’t usually go around assaulting strangers, but apparently you do, as evidenced by the very apparent (to me as well as to random people milling around) hand-so-far-up-my-dress-that-it-was-literally-painful as you passed me on the street. Ok, nope, take that back: I don’t want to assume anything about you, dude-who-stuck-his-hand-up-my-dress: after all, this was the first time I assaulted anyone, maybe it was your first time too?

… I felt a beet-sized knot rising in my throat and knew that I had two options: I could swallow it, like I, and every other woman has done a thousand times. I could swallow it, and add it to the list of times I was made to feel physically unsafe in the street.

[syndicated profile] lovejoyfeminism_feed

Posted by Libby Anne

The Coalition for Responsible Home Education (CRHE), a nonprofit organization founded last year by homeschool alumni, has a chance to win a $1000 grant and needs your help! All you need to do is click on this poll and vote for them! It’s super easy, and will only take a second. I’ve previously run guest posts by two of CRHE’s board members, Kathryn Brightbill and Ryan Stollar. Some of you have asked what you can do to help homeschooled children. Well, now you have an opportunity!

CRHE is currently neck in neck with the next contender, so please vote and share! Voting ends Wednesday November 26th.


Homeschool alumni have recently founded two nonprofit organizations, CRHE and Homeschool Alumni Reaching Out (HARO). CRHE advocates for homeschool policy that takes children’s interests into account and HARO offers community support for alumni and raises awareness about child abuse in homeschooling communities. I am a blog partner HARO’s Homeschoolers Anonymous (HA), and have written about CRHE’s Homeschooling’s Invisible Children (HIC) website in the past. I am excited about these and other efforts by homeschool alumni and am glad to do my part! Please do your part by voting for CRHE!

[syndicated profile] ms_magazine_feed

Posted by Ellen Bravo


Divide and conquer.

That’s what the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) tried to do this year in order to stop local governments in Pennsylvania from ensuring workers could earn paid sick days—or even unpaid leave. But it failed big-time, thanks to the strong stand of progressive legislators and the smart organizing of a broad coalition, particularly anti-violence advocates.

ALEC, if you haven’t heard of the shadowy group, is, as reported on the Ms. Blog, “a corporate-funded, right-wing ‘membership organization’ of state politicians that supplies its members with ‘model legislation’ to take back to their home states.” Back in August 2011, members of ALEC shared at their annual meeting a bill that had been signed into law by Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker that would prohibit voters or legislators from passing local paid-sick-days ordinances. ALEC promoted it as a model for others, giving participants a target list and map of state and local paid sick days policies prepared by the National Restaurant Association.

So far, 11 states have now passed such ALEC-backed laws, including Oklahoma and Alabama this year. But similar efforts in 2014 failed in Washington, South Carolina and now Pennsylvania—the latter a state that had been declared a priority by the Pennsylvania Restaurant Association (which obviously doesn’t want to pay when its workers get sick, thus encouraging many to show up at their food-serving jobs while ill).

In Pennsylvania, ALEC-member Seth Grove, a state representative, first tried to pass a stand-alone bill to preempt sick-leave legislation. Other legislators added multiple amendments that would have required elected official to take votes that might have been unpopular with their constituents. The measure didn’t move.

So another ALEC member, state Sen. John Eichelberger, tried a different tack: He stuck the preemption provision as an amendment onto a bipartisan bill, HB1796, that was designed to help those experiencing domestic violence. That bill exempted victims of domestic violence from “nuisance ordinances” that allow landlords to evict those who call 911 more than a certain number of times. The bill had passed the state House with broad bipartisan support.

The preemption seekers assumed advocates in the area of domestic violence would not let anything stand in the way of passage of their bill. They assumed wrong. Instead, the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence and other organizations let it be known they would not support the bill if the sick-leave amendment were included. That’s right, they wouldn’t support their own bill.

After calls and emails and lots of social media, a number of legislators on both sides of the aisle decided to return the domestic violence bill to its original version. That bill then passed the state Senate unanimously. Said Marianne Bellesorte, chair of the PA Coalition for Healthy Families and Workplaces,

We’re delighted to see that our Senators prevailed over the tactics of corporate lobbyists and donors who tried to hijack a non-controversial bill protecting domestic violence victims. … We ask that legislators put their energy behind passing—not preventing—earned sick days legislation statewide. Earned sick days help strengthen families and the economy. The policy keeps working Pennsylvanians from having to choose between going to work sick or losing a day’s wages—or worse, a job. Instead of undermining democracy and local control, we need to work toward solutions that help—not hurt—our state’s working families.

HB 1796 was sent to the governor a week ago; he is expected to sign it. And meanwhile, activists around the country celebrate a growing string of wins on paid sick days, as special interests such as ALEC are finding it much harder to squash workers’ progress.

Photo of Pennsylvania Capitol by Flickr user Kumar Appaiah under license from Creative Commons 2.0



Ellen Bravo is director of Family Values @ Work



[syndicated profile] gc_library_feed

Posted by gloucestercitylibrary

For more information, go to the Overdrive page on our full website.  Or, just go directly to the Download Center. All of the titles this month are in MP3 format.

Anatomy of a Misfit, by Andrea Portes. Read by Caitlin Davies.
Bittersweet, by Colleen McCullough. Read by Cat Gould.
Blind Spot, by Reed Farrel Coleman and Robert B. Parker. Read by James Naughton.
The Burning Room, by Michael Connelly. Read by Len Cariou.
A Demon Summer, by G. M. Malliet. Read by Michael Page.
The Golem of Hollywood, by Jonathan Kellerman and Jesse Kellerman. Read by John Rubinstein.
Prince Lestat, by Anne Rice. Read by Simon Vance.
The Scorch Trials, by James Dashner. Read by Mark Deakins.
The World of Ice & Fire, by George R.R. Martin, Elio Garcia, Linda Antonsson, et. al. Read by Roy Dotrice and Nicholas Guy Smith.
Yes Please, by Amy Poehler. Read by Amy Poehler, Carol Burnett, et. al.





OTW Fannews: Speaking Out for Fandom

Friday, 21 November 2014 05:27 pm
[syndicated profile] otw_news_feed

Posted by Kiri Van Santen


Banner by Alice of a simple drawing of a human with a speech bubble containing a heart and a page of writing'

  • While quite a few articles in the media continue to portray fanwork creators as somehow abnormal, even while acknowledging their part within a larger remix culture of popular entertainment, others set fandom more positively in this cultural environment. This support has come from fans and entertainers alike.
  • The 'Not Another Teen Wolf Podcast' interviewed actress Eaddy Mays about fanfiction. "'First and foremost, the media portrayal of fanfiction infuriates me. It’s immature, among many things. It’s bullying. And it should be illegal, frankly." Mays proved herself an it-getter. “It’s when she’s talking about a book the Sterek Campaign sent her about the popular slash ship that you can see exactly how much she takes this issue to heart. She picks it up to make a point, flipping it over and noticing something written on the back for the first time...'It says, ‘Made with love.'' She has to pause, the emotion evident in her voice. 'Can you wrap it up better than that? I don’t think so. That’s it. It’s made with love. So why would you cast any dispersion on that?'”
  • Not all actors seem as in touch with slash fanworks. The Mary Sue focused on contrasting comments made by Benedict Cumberbatch and Orlando Jones in the same week, with Jones saying "'I get it—it’s another way to go but it’s no less valid than what we’re doing and it’s certainly interesting, so I really get a kick out of that. To read fan fiction and to see fan art and to watch other people’s artistry paint different colors on top of what we’re doing… how can you be mad at that? That’s just completely awesome!'"
  • At Bustle, Emma Lord wrote about getting over her embarrassment with fanfic and countering common arguments. "[W]hen did any form of writing get deemed 'lazy'? We’re actively creating something, whether or not it will be widely consumed or appreciated. We’re testing ourselves as writers all the time, trying to see if we can keep the original author’s characters true to themselves, or if we can find ways to surprise and intrigue readers who are into the same fandoms we are. That is the polar opposite of lazy!"

Who have you seen standing up for fanworks? Write about them in Fanlore! Contributions are welcome from all fans.

We want your suggestions! If you know of an essay, video, article, podcast, or link you think we should know about, comment on the most recent OTW Fannews post. Links are welcome in all languages! Submitting a link doesn't guarantee that it will be included in a Fannews post, and inclusion of a link doesn't mean that it is endorsed by the OTW.


On the Duggars and the Locus of Outrage

Friday, 21 November 2014 06:11 pm
[syndicated profile] lovejoyfeminism_feed

Posted by Libby Anne

I recently received the following email:

Hi Libby Anne,

I’m a long-time reader of your blog, so I know you occasionally write about the Duggar family. Well, recently I heard about a fairly popular petition to get the show “19 Kids and Counting” cancelled. Maybe you have also heard this, but if not, here is one news story about it:


Supposedly, this was due to comments they made against gay marriage. Perhaps you were already planning on doing a post about it. Either way, I (and probably others) would be curious to know: what do you think about this? Should TLC cancel the show? Are people calling for its cancelation for the right reasons? Is this a good opportunity to bring other harmful ideas promoted by the family to light?



Curious asks some very good questions, questions that have been percolating since I first heard about the petition a few days ago. So let me walk you through my current thought process.

Yes, the Duggars are homophobic. They are also incredibly sexist, carefully limiting and curtailing their daughters’ dreams. The Duggars have long supported cult-like organizations run by men who sexually harassed and molested teenage and young adult girls in their employ (Doug Phillips and Bill Gothard). Actually, the Duggars continue to support and promote one of these organizations (ATI), which has jettisoned its founder (Bill Gothard) but is run by the same leadership that spent decades covering up his sexual offenses.

The Duggars have for years promoted child rearing books that require parents to “break” their children’s wills and to shun “rebellious” adult children. They don’t allow their adult children to so much as go shopping without an “accountability buddy,” and don’t allow their adult daughters to text significant others without having a parent in on the conversation. And lest you think the adult children opt into this system entirely out of their own free will, did I mention the shunning “rebellious” children bit? That would be what this is about.

And have I even gotten to the question of what the Jim Bob and Michelle are doing with all of the money they get from TLC? They certainly don’t appear to be putting it in accounts for their children, whom they continually insist they cannot afford to send to college.

Oh, and Michelle Duggar says things like this:

In your marriage there will be times you’re going to be very exhausted. Your hubby comes home after a hard day’s work, you get the baby to bed, and he is going to be looking forward to that time with you. Be available. Anyone can fix him lunch, but only one person can meet that physical need of love that he has, and you always need to be available when he calls.

In the Duggars’ world, women are not allowed to say “no” to sex. A wife’s duty is to always “be available when he calls.” Also part of the Duggars’ world is the belief that wives must submit to their husbands. You better believe that Jill and Jessa, both recently married, fully believe that they must obey their new husbands. They believe this because that is what their parents spared no pains to teach them. That’s how this works. 

So I am at a loss as to why, out of all of this, it is only now and only with regards to their homophobia that people have a serious problem with the Duggars. It’s not even like this is the first time the Duggars have combined their opposition to gay rights with their politics—in 2012 they campaigned for Rick Santorum, emphasizing his opposition to marriage equality. Don’t get me wrong, I find the Duggars’ views abhorrent. But why this issue and this moment, and not other issues or earlier moments?

The petition itself was actually started months ago, when Michelle recorded her transphobic robocall, but didn’t gain much traction. It only began making real progress toward gaining signature last week, when the Jim Bob and Michelle posted a photo of themselves kissing and invited other married couples to post their own photos. When gay and lesbian couples became posting their own kissing photos, the person running the Duggar facebook page deleted them. And that, dear readers, is what actually caused the current outrage against the Duggars’ homophobia.

So let’s get this straight. The Duggars support an extreme version of patriarchy that holds that wives must be constantly sexually available for their husbands, and no one bats an eye. The Duggars promote child rearing practices that involve spanking infants and punishing children for frowning, and no one cares. The Duggars don’t allow their adult children to be unchaperoned or to text their beaus without daddy reading over their shoulders, and everyone smiles and calls it quaint. The Duggars support a sexual predator and continue supporting his ministry even after his actions are made public, and everyone yawns. Michelle Duggar records a transphobic robocall and most people just shrug. But the Duggars delete pictures of gay and lesbian couples kissing from their personal facebook page, and that is enough to bring a hundred thousand people out of the woodwork to demand TLC to pull the show.

Now for the million dollar question: Do I think the petition is a good idea? Would I like to see TLC pull 19 Kids and Counting?

Here is what I would like to see: I would like to see TLC be honest in its portrayal of the Duggars. I would like them to be clear about the fact that their star family supports the ministry of a serial sexual predator. I would like them to be clear that the girls are not given any semblance of true choice when it comes to leaving home or going out with a boy. I would like to see them be honest about the child rearing practices the Duggars support, rather than allowing the Duggars to smile and hedge every time someone asks them about spanking.  I would like to see them be brutally and painfully honest about what Michelle and Jim Bob are teaching their daughters about their role in life, as women. I would also like to see more attention paid to the quality of education the children are receiving, and why none of them have attended college.

The problem I have with TLC is not so much the fact that they run the Duggar’s show as it is the fact that they portray the family as all cutesy and happy and sweet, covering over the horrible things the parents believe and support and the impact these things have on their children. I grew up in a family like the Duggars. I was the oldest of twelve children, homeschooled, courtship, the whole thing. There is so much there that the TLC crew doesn’t even touch on as they fall all over themselves giving the family a happy friendly smiling glaze.

I don’t think we should require families on TV reality shows to support gay rights. I do think we should demand that the networks that air reality shows be honest about their subjects. And while we’re at it, let’s demand that TLC set up accounts for each of the children rather than simply handing the cash over to their parents. But where’s the outrage pushing that cause?

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"This is my prayer: that your love may overflow more and more with knowledge and full insight to help you to determine what is best."
-- St. Paul's Epistle to the Philippians 1:9-10

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