The Bible used to get a lot of things wrong

Thursday, 18 December 2014 11:57 pm
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Posted by Fred Clark

Amanda Marcotte writes at Salon about “10 things conservative Christians got horribly wrong.”

Looking over the long history of people claiming to be speaking for God’s wishes, it quickly becomes evident that Christians are frequently on the wrong side of history. Here are 10 things that American Christians of the conservative stripe got completely wrong when they were so sure they were speaking on God’s behalf.

I realize that Marcotte is both an atheist (gasp!) and, even worse, a feminist, and thus she’s not someone that conservative Christians are inclined to listen to. So let me point out that many politically conservative white evangelical men would agree with her on at least some of the items in her list.

For example, the first item on Amanda Marcotte’s list of “things conservative Christians got horribly wrong” is slavery. Southern Baptist spokesman Russell Moore agrees with her. Here’s what Moore recently said on that topic:

The founders of the Southern Baptist Convention were wrong and wickedly wrong on the issue of human slavery. And the problem wasn’t just that they were on the wrong side of a social issue; they were on the wrong side of Jesus and the gospel when it came to brothers and sisters in Christ made in the image of God that they treated with injustice.

Moore would probably (I think) agree with about half of Marcotte’s list. I’m guessing he’d also agree that conservative Christians who defended segregation were “horribly wrong.” And I’d guess he would agree that Prohibition was a mistake, and that opposing women’s suffrage was wrong (but not opposing women’s ordination). And I’m pretty sure he would say now that evangelicals’ hostile anti-Catholicism during the 19th and most of the 20th centuries was something that shouldn’t have happened.

But he would likely disagree — strenuously — with the other half of Marcotte’s list, which includes things like evolution, official prayer in schools, contraception and marriage equality.*

On all of those points, of course, Moore and his fellow “conservative” Christians would insist that their own opinions aren’t the issue here. What matters, rather, is what the Bible clearly says. It’s not that “conservative Christians” reject evolution, but that the Bible insists it’s wrong. And same-sex marriage is anathema not because “conservative Christians” think so, but because that is what the Bible clearly teaches. And contraception is wrong because the Bible clearly says so (right there in … um … I’ll have to get back to you with chapter and verse on that one).

These conservative Christians would object to Marcotte’s assertion that they are wrong on these matters. What she’s really saying, they would say, is that the Bible is wrong about such things.

The problem with that argument is that this is exactly what those earlier conservative Christians said about slavery, segregation, women’s suffrage, Prohibition, and the Papist Menace. If Russell Moore’s Southern Baptist predecessors had been confronted with Moore’s claim that they were “wrong and wickedly wrong on the issue of human slavery,” they wouldn’t have defended their opinion — they would have said it wasn’t about their opinion, but about the clear teaching and inerrant authority of the holy Word of God. And then they’d have viciously attacked Moore for his refusal to accept the clear and unambiguous authority of scripture.

"You shall proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you ..."

“You shall proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you …”

This isn’t speculation about how they would respond. This is what they actually did. Those pro-slavery Southern Baptists were — regularly and repeatedly — accused of being wickedly wrong about slavery. And their response — documented in thousands of volumes — was always to attack their accusers for infidelity to the clear teaching of the Bible.

Anti-slavery Christians, in response, insisted they weren’t criticizing the Bible itself, only the way that pro-slavery Christians had chosen to interpret the Bible. The problem isn’t with what the Bible says, they argued, but with how the pro-slavery Southern Baptists were reading it and misusing it.

But that response only made those pro-slavery Baptists angrier. There can be only one way to read the Bible, they insisted. There can be only one way to interpret it. More than that, really what they were arguing was that the Bible didn’t need to be interpreted at all.

That claim is the identifying characteristic of the people Marcotte identifies as “conservative Christians.” They all share this idea that the Bible is uniform and unambiguous — that despite being a diverse collection of ancient texts written over a period of centuries in diverse contexts for diverse audiences, it never displays a diversity of perspectives. The Bible, they insist, never contradicts itself and never presents opposing views, and thus requires little interpretation for a contemporary reader.

Unfortunately, while this view of the Bible is horrifically misleading, it’s also widely accepted not just by conservative Christians, but by many of their critics. Thus we see things like Marcotte writing “the Bible clearly has a positive view of slavery” — uncritically accepting not just the illiterate anti-hermeneutic of the fundies, but even their favorite thought-suppressing adverb (“the Bible clearly …”). 

The Bible does, in fact, contain a great deal of material that endorses various forms of slavery. That is undeniable. Slavery is, in various parts of the Bible, commended and commanded. In some places in the Bible, an abundance of slaves is presented as evidence of God’s blessing.

But the Bible also does, in fact, contain a great deal of material that attacks slavery. That is also undeniable. Slavery is, in various parts of the Bible, condemned as contemptible. In some places in the Bible, an abundance of slaves is presented as evidence of wickedness, disobedience and rebellion against God.

Such contradictory arguments can be bewildering if you haven’t got some way of determining which part of this biblical argument is the winning side. (Jubilee, people, it’s always about Jubilee. All of it.)

But there’s no way of doing that if you’ve decided ahead of time that such intra-biblical disputes cannot be allowed to exist. Pretending they don’t exist doesn’t make them go away. Refusing to acknowledge their existence doesn’t make them vanish in a puff of smoke — no matter how much “conservative Christians” wish that it were so.

This is a huge problem for 21st-century white evangelicals. Like Russell Moore, they’re mostly convinced — now — that white evangelical support for slavery had been a terrible mistake. Yet they still want to cling to the pro-slavery Christians’ insistence that the Bible is uniform and unambiguous and that no interpretation is necessary to understand what it clearly says.

So while they’re pretty sure those earlier, pro-slavery Christians were wrong, they’re not able to explain how or why they were wrong. And thus, today, they are also unable to explain how or why they themselves are right about all the things they claim “the Bible clearly says.”

If those early Southern Baptists were wrong about slavery, then they were wrong about the Bible — wrong about how to read the Bible. They were wrong about slavery because they were wrong about how to read the Bible.

Contemporary white evangelicals want to retain the same approach to reading the Bible, but not the same conclusions about slavery. That doesn’t work.

If you want to retain the anti-hermeneutic of the early Southern Baptists while rejecting their pro-slavery views, then you can’t say, “The founders of the Southern Baptist Convention were wrong and wickedly wrong on the issue of human slavery.” You have to say, instead, that the Bible itself used to be wrong and wickedly wrong on slavery, but somehow isn’t anymore (even though it never changed).

If you’re not willing to reject that anti-hermeneutic, then you have to say that the Bible itself used to be wrong about a lot of things.

- – - – - – - – - – - -

* I’m a bit worried about mentioning item No. 4 on Amanda Marcotte’s list:

4) Pain relief for childbirth. The Bible explicitly lays out pain in childbirth as Eve’s punishment for sin, so unsurprisingly, that’s what many Christians in the 19th century believed had to be so. Once reliable pain relief in childbirth began to be developed, therefore, there was a lot of resistance to it from Christians who feared it defied God to let women have some relief. … Eventually, the argument that women owed it to God to suffer through childbirth faded to the fringes of right-wing Christianity.

It’s true that this was once conventional wisdom — a widespread argument that shaped common practice. Childbirth was seen as something that ought to be painful, because Eve. Today, though, that argument is a mostly forgotten relic of history.

But today we also have a reflexively polarized religious right that trips over itself in a rush to oppose anything and everything that we evil liberals and baby-killers view approvingly. Just by mentioning stuff like this, we may be giving them ideas. If Amanda Marcotte approves of reliable pain relief in childbirth, that probably means that Barack Obama does too. And Sandra Fluke and Rachel Held Evans and Hillary Clinton and Nancy Pelosi and Brian McLaren and Planned Parenthood. Probably even Rob Bell.

And once they realize that, they’re likely to start angrily opposing such pain relief as another evil symptom of women’s lib and the sexual revolution. After all, if bearing children isn’t as painful and dangerous as it was back in the Golden Age, then it’s like we’re giving these wanton hussies permission to go out and do the sex without the fear of pain and suffering that God intended to accompany such filthy behavior, etc., etc.

If you think that’s an exaggeration, keep in mind that this is exactly what has happened in recent years when it comes to the abruptly newfound white evangelical opposition to contraception — a position that has surged to prominence without any credible biblical, ethical, scientific or logical argument to support it.

OTW Fannews: Small Scale Fandom

Thursday, 18 December 2014 06:34 pm
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Posted by Janita Burgess


Banner by Rachel of a generic Newspaper banner with the OTW logo and the words OTW Fannews

  • The Baker Orange featured a campus fangirl who discussed her fannish history. "Although she chooses to forget about her fangirling over the Twilight series, she says it was the show that 'started it all.' When she went to the midnight premier for the first movie, the atmosphere of the event really turned her on to the idea of being a fangirl. 'It was a bunch of fans getting together. I think thats what made it so much fun because everybody was there because they wanted to see the movie the second it came out... Then I realized that there were fandoms for tv shows and books, all the fun stuff... It’s really easy to get so involved with it when your on social media. It makes it a lot easier to freak out with people who understand."
  • Wisconsin Public Radio's Central Time show featured a fanfiction discussion in which a few guests and callers discussed being fanfic writers. Asked if there were interactions with her readers one writer said, "There is and sometimes it's not always an equivalent exchange, because once you post something it's out there whether or not you want critique or commentary, once it's out there you're going to get that critique. If it's something where I'm working with someone because I do co-write with a friend, we do a lot of give and take. Or I may post a snippet and say "I'm stuck with this idea...if you were writing this what would you do?" (No transcript available).
  • ZeeNews India was among several sites discussing an upcoming documentary on Rajinikanth fans. Said co-producer Rinku Kalsy, "Joyjeet Pal...who is also the producer of the documentary, used to tell me how small kids in Rajini's state are affected by his stardom... They aspire to be like his characters portrayed in the film. How they look up to Rajini and parents are also happy with their children's decision of becoming like him. So, we thought we should explore this further."
  • AV Club wrote about a Super Heroes vs. Game Heroes video on YouTube. "It’s essentially a fan film with deeply committed cosplayers mixing it up and uttering various catchphrases or obvious dialogue for their characters, but the clever conceits (one of the Minecraft bricks being the Tesseract, dimension jumping, and the resolution of the fight) elevate it beyond most fan creations. The special effects are especially impressive for this short film, with many aspects of the games and movie versions of these characters being perfectly replicated by a much smaller studio."

What details about fandom make it personal for you? 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.


This Advent, Think Different. What Is GOD Waiting For?

Thursday, 18 December 2014 08:54 pm
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Posted by rileyobrienpowell

It’s Advent again. This is the time, leading up to Christmas, when we reflect upon the thousand storylines of prophecy through the centuries that moved in solemn procession toward that One climactic event; the incarnation, the birth of Jesus. We reflect upon the convergence of those storylines culminating in this one Messianic babe. Every sacrifice, [Read More...]

Maximizing Buzzword Compliance

Thursday, 18 December 2014 03:25 pm
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Posted by Mark Liberman

From a "sponsor message" sent to me by the Chronicle of Higher Education "on behalf of Campus Management":

Institutions are facing a convergence of forces that, combined with an outdated technology infrastructure, have created the need for a new approach in education technology: the On Demand Model for Higher Education.

Discover the cornerstones of this innovative strategy, including how to enhance constituent engagement, provide more flexibility in academic delivery and financial aid, and leverage an agile infrastructure to grow and adapt in any market.

Hear from a panel of thought leaders as they discuss rising above technology challenges to empower dynamic models of engagement and delivery, and in turn positively impact growth, retention and financial security.

I'm chill about jargon, in general, but empty rhetoric does amuse me. With the addition of a few metasyntactic variables, this could be about almost anything at all:

Institutions are facing a convergence of forces that, combined with an outdated technology infrastructure, have created the need for a new approach in [FOO]: the [BAR].

Discover the cornerstones of this innovative strategy, including how to enhance constituent engagement, provide more flexibility in [BAZ], and leverage an agile infrastructure to grow and adapt in any market.

Hear from a panel of thought leaders as they discuss rising above technology challenges to empower dynamic models of engagement and delivery, and in turn positively impact growth, retention and financial security.

It's probably also time for an updated version of the Universal Marketing Graphic:

Nut rage

Thursday, 18 December 2014 03:16 pm
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Posted by Victor Mair

The biggest news in South Korea these days is the macadamia nut tantrum that occurred on Korean Airlines last week.  Heather Cho, the eldest daughter of Korean Air Lines chairman Cho Yang-ho and herself a high-ranking executive at the airline (though since resigned), threw a monumental hissy fit when she was served macadamia nuts in a manner that she thought was not suitably elegant.  Amongst the usual media accounts of the incident, there was this statement from the UK Guardian:

Bloggers and the Korean press lambasted Cho for her arrogance, and took to social media to mock her for going “nuts”.

and reports of this tweet in Korean from an online shopping mall/auction site that makes a sort of punning reference to “that nut.”

Jeff Weinberg asks whether “nut” or “nuts” in Korean is used for “crazy person” or “crazy” as it’s used in English (and maybe primarily American English).

According to Bob Ramsey:

So far as I know, 'nuts' in the sense of 'crazy' is only an American English term. 'Nuts' is not used that way at all in Korean. What the Korea press does talk about that I found curious,though, is associating her with 'peanuts' (ttangkong) — I think I remember seeing her called the ‘peanuts lady’ in some headline–when we know from the Western press that the furor was over the serving of macadamia nuts. Not sure why Koreans were talking about peanuts instead, except that those nuts are more familiar to Koreans than macadamia nuts. But none of these words, as far as I know, is associated with going crazy or wild the way 'going nuts' is in America.

Haewon Cho concurs:

"Nuts" does not mean "insane" in Korean. Because of this incident, Korean Air (대한항공, Daehanhanggong , RR; Taehanhanggong, MR) is ridiculed as "땅콩 항공 (Ttangkong hanggong, RR; Ttangk'ong Hanggong, MR; Ttangkong means peanuts, hanggong means airlines). It's because peanuts are so small and not something expensive or important? I am not sure….

Ttangkong also refers to a short person. For example, Mihyun Kim, a professional golf player, is often called "Super Ttangkong" because of her height (5' 1").

Here is the image of "Ttangkong hanggong" that Korean internet users have created:

Interestingly, this incident has created a sudden increase in sales of macadamia nuts.

The End of Movies

Thursday, 18 December 2014 03:35 pm
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Posted by By Ross Douthat

Why the fate of the "The Interview" promises to make Hollywood's artistic problems worse.
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Posted by Roger E. Olson

Review of Oliver Crisps’ Deviant Calvinism: Broadening Reformed Theology Part One   I have invited other interested persons to join me in this series. I will post occasional (tentatively about one chapter per week) reviews and others who read the book are welcome to agree, disagree, add to, etc. I ask that those who are [Read More...]

Mary's Lullaby

Thursday, 18 December 2014 05:00 am
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Posted by Richard Beck

The Brilliance is, hands down, my favorite Christian group. I can't tell you how much I love their music.

Perhaps one of the most beautiful Christmas songs I've ever heard is "Mary's Lullaby" from their album Advent Vol. 2.
Mary's Lullaby (The Brilliance)

Sleep my child
Sweet child of mine
For the days ahead
Will be full of life
Tonight my child
Close Your eyes
I will hold You
Close Your eyes

You're my light
You're my lamb
You'll lead us all
By Your hand
But tonight my child
Close Your eyes
I will hold You
Let me hold You
I will hold You
Close Your eyes
Close Your eyes
Some kind soul embedded the song on YouTube:

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Posted by Libby Anne

Like many other white evangelical children, I grew up singing this song:

Jesus loves the little children
All the children of the world
Red, brown, yellow
Black and white
They are precious in His sight.
Jesus loves the little children
Of the world.

I suspect it’s things like this that make it so hard for so many white evangelicals to really address race in this country—they think they’ve addressed it already. I mean after all, look at the lyrics to that common children’s song! And I mean, look at verses like this:

Galatians 3:28—There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

And look at all of the evangelical missionaries! If white evangelicals were racist, would they really be out there trying to convert the heathen of deepest darkest Africa?

Oh wait.

Anyone who knows anything about the history of missions knows that white evangelicals have a long tradition of using missions to promote cultural supremacy. I have a lot of respect for people who go to other parts of the world to build wells or learn about other cultures by living among them, but white evangelical missionaries have long gone “into all the world” with the explicit purpose of tearing down other groups’ cultural customs and replacing them with white evangelical cultural customs. White evangelicals’ purported care for all the children of the world, “red brown yellow, black and white,” has long masked the fact that they see other cultures and other beliefs as dark and inferior. 

Now take another look at Galatians 3:28 and remember that white evangelicals use this same verse to claim they promote gender equality even as they proclaim that the husband is the head of the household and that wives are to submit to their husbands. There is a stark difference, within evangelicalism, between spiritual equality and other kinds of equality. White evangelicals believe in spiritual equality and hold that the spiritual is far more important than the earthly. This dual belief makes it easy for white evangelicals to dismiss earthly equality as unimportant.

Okay, next point. White evangelicals will often claim they do not see color—that they are colorblind. Yet in many ways, they have simply replaced the word color with culture. Let me explain what I mean. I grew up believing that black people were especially lazy, especially violent, and especially likely to be promiscuous or on drugs. But I wasn’t given the impression that these things were an inherent result of being black. Instead, the message I got was that they were a part of black culture, and that it was black culture that was the problem. It is this very logic that allows white evangelicals to look down on people of color and blame the tragic results of centuries of racism on people of color while at the same time denying that race is a factor. (Read more about this here.)

Of course, this last point is arguably common to political conservatism more generally. Perhaps that is a testament to how intertwined the two have become—in today’s world, to be a white evangelical is to be politically conservative.

But now, have a look at this for a moment: 


Text, in part: 

Dear Mr. Landrith:

Thank you for your phone call requesting information concerning interracial relations here at Bob Jones University. The University has an open admissions policy, and we accept students of any race. The student body is fully integrated with all students participating in all activities and organizations regardless of race.

Bob Jones University does, however, have a rule prohibiting interracial dating among its students. God has separated people for His own purpose. He has erected barriers between the nations, not only land and sea barriers, but also ethnic, cultural, and language barriers. God has made people different one from another and intends for those differences to remain. Bob Jones University is opposed to intermarriage of the races because it breaks down the barriers God has established. It mixes that which God separated and intends to keep separate. Every effort in world history to bring the world together has demonstrated man’s self-reliance and his unwillingness to remain as God ordains. The attempts at one-worldism have been to devise a system without God and have fostered the promotion of a unity designed to give the world strength so that God is not needed and can be overthrown.

. . .

This letter is from 1998. Bob Jones University changed its policy on interracial dating in 2000, because George W. Bush, then a presidential candidate, was slated to speak there and their ban on interracial dating was becoming A Big Political Problem.

I don’t know how many white evangelicals opposed interracial marriage in 1998. I do know that 16% opposed it in 2012. As for my own upbringing, I suspect my father would have scrutinized a black suitor more than a white suitor, but if he had found a black suitor sufficiently godly, politically conservative, and a hard worker, I suspect my father would have accepted him—and that he would then have patted himself on the back and made good use of having a trump card against any claims of being racist.

I bring up Bob Jones University’s ban on interracial dating prior to the year 2000 as it is perhaps the most extreme example of ways white evangelicals can claim they are not racist while at the same time holding ideas that are very racist indeed. After all, Bob Jones University claimed they saw all people, regardless of color, as equal before God—at the same time that they also strongly opposed interracial dating.

So where does all of this leave us? I grew up in a white evangelical home, hearing of missions and of spiritual equality. In fact, my parents very obviously believed they were combatting racism in teaching my siblings and I that God loved all peoples, and when they valued missions work and spoke of converting the whole world. And yet. And yet. Even as they taught us these things, my parents spoke of the darkness of other cultures and religions around the world and the problems of black culture in our own country. They thought they were inoculating me against racism, but in practice they were teaching me racism.

And that, I think, just about sums up white evangelicals’ race problem.

foreign babies

Thursday, 18 December 2014 08:09 am
deird1: Spike looking at Harmony, with text "you were meant for me; perhaps as punishment (Spike Harmony punishment)
[personal profile] deird1
People have different first names in different countries, for the record. It's like this whole thing.

I have found it very interesting having a son in Germany, for many reasons. But mostly because his name's gone all weird.

In Australia, he has one of the most common names ever to exist. It's been in the top 20 Aussie baby names since before we were even a country. In Australia, everyone already knows the spelling, the pronounciation, and the nickname, without having to ask.

In Germany... it's not just an uncommon name; it's a non-existent name.

Here, I'm getting very used to having the exact same conversation over and over:
"What's his name?"
"...Lach-lan?" (as though I've just presented them with a random mash of syllables that must be carefully tested)
"Yes. Lachlan. It's Scottish."
" she's a girl, then?"

They cannot pronounce my son's name. They cannot spell my son's name. The correct spelling convinces them they were wrong about the pronounciation. And they're all sure he's a girl.

It's rather fascinating.

Approval Plan

Thursday, 18 December 2014 04:00 am
[syndicated profile] rookie_feed

Posted by Brodie

Collage by Ruby A.

Collage by Ruby A.

Before I was exposed to “fat acceptance,” a movement that advocates for an end to social, medical, and political discrimination against fat people, I felt awful in my skin. Even in my happiest times, I could never shake the sense that I was too much in size and not enough in every other way—that my fat body made me unacceptable and unworthy. But this new community, which I stumbled upon online, turned my self-perception on its head. I started to see my body as a political weapon, and one that I could be proud of. Society wanted me to cover up, hide, or shrink? I’d show everyone how powerful I was by wearing short skirts, demanding that people notice me, taking up space, and refusing to apologize for it.

After the initial, revelatory wave of self-confidence settled in my bones, I was surprised to learn that there were still days when I woke up feeling awful, when I didn’t want to look in the mirror, or couldn’t feel good about myself, no matter what I wore or how high I held my head. I was filled with shame—but this time it wasn’t because of my body’s mere existence. It was because I wasn’t feeling great about myself every second of every day. Now that I knew what it meant to not hate my body, did it mean I was being a phony, or betraying my fat sisters, when I had negative feelings about it or wished I could look like someone other than me?

I can be the most body-positive person in the world, but that doesn’t mean I will always feel good, or that other people’s projections or prejudices won’t bother me. Since stripping the word “fat” of its power, I’ve encountered other people who are so afraid to confront it that, when I’ve described myself as such—never in a way that is insulting or derogatory, just as a description of my body that feels more right than “curvy” ever did—they’ve jumped at the chance to assure me that, “No no you’re not fat, you’re beautiful!”

I’m here to assure you (and myself) that you can be both, even on the days when you don’t recognize the latter. Every body is worthy of self-love; every body is cool and great and powerful. Having to remind yourself of that sometimes does not make it any less true. Here’s how I do it:

1. I let myself adapt.

Like any new political perspective, my approach to fat acceptance has changed and grown as I’ve gotten older, just as my views on feminism shifted as I molded them to fit the person I became. I figured out that the label “body positive” suits my outlook more accurately than just “fat acceptance”; while being able to remove all the negative connotations from “fat” was an important step in my self-worth journey, it was equally important to me that all bodies were seen as good bodies, and that none were given more prominence or respect over any others.

In the first few years after I discovered fat acceptance, I felt like people were either with us or against us; that the only two states you could be in were being unhappy with your body (like I was before F.A.) or happy being fat (like I was after F.A.). I know now, though, that someone saying they want their body to be smaller or different is not the same as them saying, “I don’t want to look like you.” Another person’s decisions have nothing to do with me, and they certainly are not making those decisions to rub them in my face. When Beyoncé worked hard to shed her post-Blue baby weight, I once would have interpreted it as a slight against her bigger sisters instead of what it actually was: someone doing what she needed to do to feel like her body was right for her. It took time for me to understand that no women are safe from having their bodies policed, and that it’s not thin women who are the adversaries of the fat acceptance movement, but rather the structures that enforce ideas about what bodies are “good” or “right.”

2. I tune out.

Here’s something I wish I was told the second I could comprehend language: What other people think about me and my physical self—“good” or “bad”—ultimately does not matter. Their tastes and opinions about me should not inform my own. When I first spoke openly about my newfound acceptance of my body, a guy I knew congratulated me on my positive outlook before assuring me that he would “always be a chubby-chaser.” All of a sudden, I saw myself the way this dude saw me: As a personality-less thing he could fetishize. And he thought he was complimenting me!

I was so shocked and grossed out by his comment. More than that, I was furious that I had worked so hard to get to a point where I could finally share how great it felt to accept myself, and he elbowed in and made it about him (and how special he was for not being “like the other guys”—you know, the ones who are so superficial that they’re only attracted to women for the way they look). I didn’t confront him about what he said, but I’ve encountered dudes like him since–men who make a show of being attracted to fat women and expect me to fall over myself with gratitude that they’re paying attention to me. I’ve found that a clipped, “Good for you,” or, “That’s nice,” says everything I need to: I heard you, but I do not care what you think.

Whenever someone tries to tell me that my worth lies in how attractive my body is to them or anyone else, I try to remember one thing: That other people are irrelevant to my mission, which is to be the flyest version of myself at all times. The only person who has a say in how I look, or how I feel about how I look, is me.

3. I identify my triggers.

Checking in with myself when I sense that my self-love is starting to slip has helped me pinpoint why it’s happening. Over time, I’ve been able to identify a few common triggers:

My period. Like a frazzled lady in a tampon commercial, I always feel bloated and irritable a few days before I get my period. As wrong as I might feel at that specific moment, I know to remind myself that it will pass, and that after my hormones level out, I’ll return to my old self. And until then, you’ll find me wearing leggings 24/7, eating chocolate, drinking peppermint tea, watching Kourtney & Khloé Take the Hamptons, and not giving a fuuuuuuck.

Conversations about diet. I’m all for people doing what they need to do to feel healthy and happy, but more often than not, talk of cleanses and significant dietary changes digresses into talk about weight loss, which can make me feel like shit. I’m happy to talk about new recipe ideas or tricks for adding more green veggies to my dinner, but when calorie restriction is the topic at hand, the message I hear (even if it’s not being said explicitly, or even the person’s intention) is: “I would rather drink this disgusting lemon water than look like you.” I’ve been in this situation enough times that I want a button that says “I survived the ubiquitous green-juice trend of the 2010s,” but it’s also taught me that the best course of action for me is to remove myself from such conversations. If my two instincts in life are fight or flight, this situation is one where I find it best to just GTFO.

Trying to fit in—literally. Nervous breathing and cold sweats can sometimes grip me when I have to do things that put my body at the forefront of people’s minds. Things fat people are often criticized heavily for—going to the pool or the beach, eating in public (particularly when it requires sitting in a tiny booth), traveling on an airplane or other cramped spaces—will increase my levels of discomfort tenfold. I’ve learned to dial up my self-awareness when I start being down on myself and question where all the self-criticism is coming from. There are people who will never stop having issues with my body’s existence in public, so even if I can hear their audible sighs as I squeeze past them on a plane, or feel their eyes on me as I grab a burger on my way home, I pretend to be oblivious. Usually “just ignore it and it will go away” is the least-helpful non-advice ever, but I hold fast to the belief that people’s reactions to my body are theirs to deal with. The times I was most critical of other people’s bodies coincided with the lowest points of my own self-esteem, and I truly believe in the link between feeling good about yourself and being kinder to others. Until they join me in my “all bodies are good bodies” mentality, I’ll be over here, blockin’ out the haters.

4. I’m kind to myself, and listen to myself.

Sometimes thinking so much about my body puts distance between it and myself—like when I sit down and write about it and find I’m thinking about it as a subject to dissect (metaphorically—no scalpels involved) rather than everything from my mind to the fingers that are typing these very words.

When I feel myself disassociating from my body in this way, I watch this video of Meredith from StyleLikeU’s “What’s Underneath Project” and listen carefully to her closing words: “In my body is a good place to be because, functionally speaking, I know at the end of the day, it’s the only home I’ve ever had, and it’s the only home I ever will have. So no matter how much I argue with it, at the end of the day I have to treat it like my home. And home is where you’re supposed to feel the safest. And home is where love happens. And home is where you’re supposed to feel best about yourself. And, uh, welcome home.”

(Are you crying yet? Me too.) Trust me when I say that once you accept yourself, not even the low points can make you forget that. Knowing you’re allowed to love your body is just step one. After that comes the hard part: practicing that love when your instincts/other people/your hormones are telling you to do the opposite. But I promise you, it’s worth it. ♦

Mystery Language

Thursday, 18 December 2014 03:00 am
[syndicated profile] languagelog_feed

Posted by Mark Liberman

Can anyone determine what language this woman is speaking?

If the flash player doesn't work for you, try the HTML5 audio version:

Yuletide Status

Wednesday, 17 December 2014 10:50 pm
cadenzamuse: Cross-legged girl literally drawing the world around her into being (Default)
[personal profile] cadenzamuse

WORDS: 998


December 17, 2014

Thursday, 18 December 2014 12:00 am
[syndicated profile] rookie_feed

Posted by Caitlin H.

Caitlin is trying to find some balance this week.

Caitlin is trying to find some balance this week.


I have a legitimate crush, the kind that excites me but also scares me a little. Read More »


Our first night back with our mother was special. Read More »


I’m so close. There’s no stopping now. Read More »


I don’t want to envision my future, because it seems too bleak. Read More »

[syndicated profile] ms_magazine_feed

Posted by Maria Giese

shutterstock_195767792The recent “Guardians of Peace” Sony hacks are rocking Hollywood this holiday season with revelations of studio-wide sexism.

News that Jennifer Lawrence, arguably the biggest movie star of the moment, received lower pay than her less-famous male co-stars on 2013’s American Hustle could spell catastrophe for Sony—and new hope for women if the revelations lead to action.

According to The Daily Beast, a Columbia Pictures president sent an email to Amy Pascal, who co-chairs Sony alongside Michael Lynton, on December 5 regarding the pointsbackend compensation that is paid after the film is releasedreceived by Lawrence and the other stars of American Hustle.

While Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, Jeremy Renner and director David O. Russell received nine points of profit, Jennifer Lawrence and Amy Adams got 7. And Jennifer Lawrence was originally slated to receive just 5.

This revelation, unfortunately too commonplace in Hollywood to be shocking, could be the long-awaited “tipping point” needed for state and federal agencies to launch industry-wide legal action to fight gender inequity under Title VII.

More hopeful still, Lawrence’s lower pay (as well as new information about Sony’s studio-wide gender pay gap among staffers) could set off a domino effect of class-action sex discrimination lawsuits against all Hollywood studios.

It’s been a long time coming. In 1978, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission prepared a significant, in-depth report detailing race and sex discrimination in Hollywood, but at that time the agency was not authorized to sue.

And in 1983, the Directors Guild of America (DGA) led a class-action discrimination lawsuit against three major studios on behalf of its women and ethnic minority members, but by 1985 the Guild was disqualified from leading the class because the judge ruled that the Guild itself discriminates against women and minorities.

Traditionally, thanks to studio secrecy and employee fear of blacklisting, Hollywood studios have been undaunted by legal reprisals for gender bias, and audacious in continuing rampant sex discrimination. So far, not much has changed in a post-leaked-email world.

While Amy Pascal admitted to Jennifer Lawrence’s pay disparity, saying “there is truth here,” she has yet to apologize or accept responsibility for Sony’s apparent studio-wide policy of discriminating against women, from staffers to stars.

The good news is the leaked emails knocked down the wall of secrecy on pay at Sony, allowing women to see, unquestionably, that they’re being paid less than their male counterparts.

Lack of transparency stands as one of women’s biggest barriers to pay equality, but lifting the curtain can lead to systemic change. Take the example of Lily Ledbetter: Once an insider friend at Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company informed Ledbetter that her male colleagues were getting paid more, she sued. The suit went all the way to the Supreme Court and resulted in the groundbreaking Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009, signed into law by President Obama.

For women in Hollywood, the new “Guardians of Peace” leaks may become historic in the centuries-long fight for gender equality.

Gathering “smoking gun” evidence on sex discrimination in an industry as secretive as Hollywood has proven to be extremely difficult, not only because of lack of transparency, but also because getting hired in Hollywood is largely based on personal relationships; the many, many women who do experience sex discrimination fear blacklisting if they speak out.

If women and U.S. civil liberties organizations can use evidence like the “Guardians of Peace” leaks to demonstrate how gender-pay inequity is rampant in American media, and they can prove that cases like that of Jennifer Lawrence are examples of deeply entrenched, industry-wide discrimination, then they can encourage state and federal agencies to create Title VII class action lawsuits for women in Hollywood. And that’s how real change gets made.

Photo of Jennifer Lawrence via Shutterstock

Screen shot 2014-12-17 at 3.01.38 PMMaria Giese directed the feature film When Saturday Comes and the award-winning indie feature, Hunger, based on the novel by Nobel Prize winner, Knut Hamsun. Educated at Wellesley College and UCLA Graduate School of Film and Television, she is an active member of the DGA and currently serves as the Women’s DGA Director Category Rep. Check her out online and read her activist/agitator web forum.

Yuletide Status

Wednesday, 17 December 2014 07:13 pm
cadenzamuse: Cross-legged girl literally drawing the world around her into being (Default)
[personal profile] cadenzamuse

Word count: 338
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My Prayer

"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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