Links of Great Interest: Sit down and shut up.

Seriously. Who would look at a newborn’s clit and decide to cut off a chunk of it? Also, just as an FYI: Independent women will be cut.

Ashelia reflects on when trolls go real. DJ Bell sent me a link on the fury caused when someone’s entitlement is challenged that resonates with Ashelia’s points. Sounds like something similar went on surrounding Wiscon. More, from KTempest.

Why you SHOULDN’T go see Avatar: TLA.

and why you should question the casting of Cleopatra.

Reproductive control and domestic violence often go hand in hand.

Ide_Cyan talks about The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.

In last week’s Thursday Interruption, I included Rihanna’s “Te Amo,” which I am starting to dig. Here’s a review. I like that they’re doing capoiara in part of it, and that I think they’re doing something more complicated than what’s going in Katy Perry’s “I Kissed a Girl.” Like, I think that if KP was all OMG I KISSED A GIRL FOR ATTENTION!!! then this is all OMG I KISSED A GIRL I’M A LITTLE CONFUSED AND HOLY SHIT I DIDN’T MEAN TO LEAD YOU ON. One’s drama, one’s consequences. The video is also all Beauty and the Beast — I think the song is from the Beast’s perspective regarding love, violence, and sincere affection. Plus, my roomie, who is a hottie with a really big brain, is pointing out that in the mythos of Rihanna (DV survivor, etc etc) that the “I think it means ‘I love you'” could be more about her being unsure about what love means in general. Your thoughts?

The Carl Brandon Society helped me go to Wiscon. <3 <3 <3

Can’t we blame the victim just once?

Joe Barton wants to apologize.

This photography project wants to complicate hierarchy. Dear everyone: Pat Hill Collins wants you to re-read Black Feminist Politics.

Some thoughts on bodies from TheShapeofaMother.

From DJ Bell: Can a negative body image keep you from living a full life?

Some more thoughts on anti-immigration policies.

Snarky unpacks Sean Young.

The Golden Girls rock light sabers.

Oh, Obama, I see what you did there.

KLB reflects on homosexuality and religion.

Angela Davis discusses Judith Butler, racism, and homophobia. More here.

Toronto’s Pride committee is FAILING at the above points.

From Charles RB:

Margaret Hartmann on Jezebel talks about how vital the cartoon Daria was during her teenage years – it gave her the courage to risk “social suicide” instead of abandoning an unpopular friend – because it gave her a character she could truly relate to. She laments “there weren’t (and still aren’t) too many smart female characters in pop culture that painfully geeky girls can relate to… there are more geeky, ostensibly unattractive women on TV… but they’re all still hoping to earn the admiration of their peers”.

Personally, I was more of an Elisa fan. 😀

From Scarlett:

This is an article about Julia Gillard, who just became Australia’s first Prime Minister. Try here for a more feminist slant. I’m not surprised that the first woman PM got there ‘cos the party got sick of the guy people voted in; I’m more surprised that they gave her the spot at all. (The way our political system works, the people vote for the party and the party choosen the PM; so even though Gillard was deputy PM, the Labour party could have chosen anyone who held a seat in the lower house.) My guess would be that there’s an election coming up and Labour’s quite shaky, and it’s generally a career death-knell to be the person at the helm when your party loses an election; better to give that honour to a woman, eh?

The broadcast news have been all over the ‘Fashions of Julia Gillard’ slant, although I couldn’t find anything on that in print.

Jha helps to mythbust Helen Keller. Willow talks about the poor timing here.

Rhi reflects on privilege in fandom.

Residential schools EXPOSED

Becky Thompson talks about tenderness and social justice.

From Charles RB:

BBC report on prostitution in Bradford, with an interview with a former prostitute who works for a support charity: “Tolerating
prostitution on the basis that it is inevitable is not an option, she says, arguing that society would never accept child abuse. You need to make the people who prop up this system responsible – the drug dealers, pimps, those who wait outside school gates to lure girls into slavery,” she says. “At the moment, support for women is all about vaginas and veins – not the heart and soul.

(It also comes up that former sex workers, if they’ve been arrested, find it hard to leave sex work because of their criminal records)

From SunlessNick:

Over at Shakesville, Melissa asks what Bechdel Test-passing films or series you would make if you had the money

HAHA Boondocks disses Tyler Perry.

Split This Rock wants YOUR poetry!

Queen Eadgyth’s bones will get reburied.

From Nijireiki:

Without Airbrushing.

On shopping while suspicious.

A novel about Anne Frank and Peter’s sexual relationship is getting some bad press. I’m a little confused as to why — wasn’t there totally a part in the Diary where she asks her mom about masturbation and another part where she talks about kissing girls? She was awesome because she was a vital, hopeful, exuberant girl, not because she was like… Pollyanna.


  1. Scarlett says

    Note to self: proof read my descriptions next time in case maria publishes them wholesale :p

    Also, if you google ‘julia gillard fashion’ – at least on Google Australia – you’ll get an Aus site called fab Sugar, which calls her ‘frumpy’ and compares her to ‘glamorous’ first ladies like carla Bruni and Michelle Obama. Total journo fail to not getting that Gillard is actually the HoG, not the wife of one.

    The shopping while suspicious – I have to admit, I’ve been that sales girl. I’ve held goods out of reach of black, sloppily-dressed customers until they paid for them, which I wouldn’t have done to a white, well-dressed person. (Ocassionally did it to a white, sloppily-dressed person, though.) It’s taken a lot of conscious thought not to do that.

  2. says

    Re: Independend Women will be cut – Urgh. A Cesarean, as far as I know, *is* a risky procedure that nowadays is mostly done for perceived convenience, yes. But if the article features a table *clearly* recognizable as a joke, and with a source underneath that leads you to the Science Humor Magazine it’s from – but the table is treated seriously. Makes me almost stop listening at all.

  3. says

    I kind of hate to do this, since generally Hollywood whitewashing (Avatar!! Grrr!! 21!! FROTH!!) sends me into a blind rage, but the Cleopatra article has some misconceptions about Egyptian history and Egypt owns.

    I mean, there’s certainly a lot of controversy and ambiguity over the racial characteristics of the Ancient Egyptians themselves, stemming from the 19th century European tendency to take credit for everything ever (See also the Great Zimbabwe clusterfuck where a bunch of archaeologists assumed that a bunch of white people clearly randomly appeared in the middle of Zimbabwe to build a huge city since obviously it couldn’t have been Africans who did it) and the highly stylized nature of Egyptian art (the dark tones male figures were painted in and the pale ones females were painted in having more to do with ideal gender roles then literal depictions of appearance, etc., etc.). Joyce Tyldesley’s Cleopatra: Last Queen of Egypt, which I assume reflects current scholarship since it’s from 2008, points out that throughout Ancient Egyptian history the country was open to immigration from Libya, Nubia (Hi King Taharqa! You rule! Um, literally.), Asiatics, or wherever, so (to quote), and most foreigners who came to Egypt were assimilated into the wider population, “the Egyptian people showed a diverse range of racial characteristics, with red-headed, light-skinned Egyptians living alongside curly haired, darker-skinned neighbours.”

    All of this is mostly (but not totally I guess but I’ll get to that in a second) irrelevant to Cleopatra and her Ptolemaic buddies, though. The article refers to “the claim that Cleopatra was Greek” and then gets into some analysis of Greek ethnicity, but the Ptolemy I was actually a Macedonian, although the Macedonian elites of this period (but not the Greeks) thought of themselves as true Greeks. The Ptolemaic family tree doesn’t branch a whole lot, since the two things the Ptolemies loved most of all were marring siblings to stabilize the growth of the Royal Family and then proving this strategy hilariously wrong by murdering one another anyway, but Berenice II was Lybian and Cleopatra I was part-Persian.

    Cleopatra’s mother is thought to be Cleopatra V, a Ptolemy. Tyldesley points out this could be wrong and her mother could be “an elite woman from anywhere in the Hellenistic world”, but given the structure of Alexandrian society probably Greek or Egyptian so those were the Alexandrian elites. If her mother was “Egyptian” that could mean she looked like anything from Nubian King Taharqa to the mysteriously red-haired Rameses II. Her paternal grandmother, and maternal grandmother (if she was even a different person form her paternal grandmother– oh, those wacky Ptolemies) and grandfather are also unknown and could be from anywhere in the Classical world.

    So anyway Cleopatra, as the product of a Greek-speaking froth of mudering incestuous foreign conquerers of Egypt, is “somewhere between 25 per cent and 100 per cent of Macedonian extraction”, with the rest possibly Egyptian or possibly Greek or anywhere else in the classical world. Combined with the fact that “Egyptian” itself is such a mix of various ethnicities we really can’t be sure just what she looked like. (somebody in the comments section of that blog described her “half-macedonian and half-greek” which is pretty hilarious and wrong).

    Does this mean that Angelina Jolie is an appropriate casting choice for Cleopatra? I dunno. But given what is and isn’t known about Cleopatra’s ethnicity by modern Egyptologists this isn’t exactly Great Zimbabwe being yonked away by some Europeans when they took a liking to it.

    Anyway I agree with the article’s wider points about erasure and the whole Hollywood movie industrial complex basically being irredeemably racist as shit, but Egyptian history is rad so I wanted to lay down some sick Egypt facts I guess.

    • says

      also making a post about 19th century racial politics with my victorian moustache dude avatar is p. ironic i guess

      oh well

    • Patrick McGraw says

      The above also bugged me greatly about the article, particularly the writer’s claims about what ancient Greeks actually looked like – apparently, contrary to all of their artwork, ancient Greeks did not look Greek.

      What really irked me about the article, though, was how the writer declared themselves the arbiter of “authentic” blackness, backing up their claims with “this is how Africans will decide if you are black or not.” Because apparently Africa is homogenous, and there is a single “African” standard of blackness, and if you don’t meet it because your genes were expressed in any of the many, many, many shades that aren’t “black” enough, you aren’t really black, because you don’t “look like the ancestors” (who again, were apparently a single homogenous group for all of Africa).

      • says

        Which for true irony is the literal opposite of how the Egypitans saw race and nationality, since they saw “Egyptianess” as strictly cultural, not a genetic roll of the dice in an extremely diverse population in terms of appearance.

        Maybe this whole conversation is stupid, since race is a social construct (a potent one worth discussion, of course), and Egyptians and Macedonians and Greeks all constructed race differently than we do. The Ptolemies considered themselves Greek in culture, spoke Greek among themselves (only Cleopatra VII even bothered learning Egyptian, had Greek names and lived in a Hellenistic milieu. They certainly saw themselves as existing apart from their Egyptian subjects, and the Egyptians saw them as foreigners since they weren’t Egyptian in culture, no matter how much they may or may not have physically resembled one another or what racial categories we’d put ’em all into with our 21st century Western construction of race.

    • Brand Robins says

      While I disagreed with many of the article’s points about history, I enjoyed for the simple fact that it represents an energetic swing of the pendulum. For a long time all black history was erased from Egypt by European scholars trying to make Egypt non-African in every possible way. So now if folks swing a little wide of the mark the other way, well…

      Its interesting to me where I become irritated with people’s use of history. How many articles about white Egypt have I read? Maybe one about a blacker than that Egypt won’t harm me much.

      Ironically, my first thought about Angelina Jolie as Cleopatra wasn’t “too white” (though egh… I can see an argument there). It was “too pretty, too hot.”

      Why must Cleopatra, who many of her own age commented was not the most attractive woman physically but drew men because of her strength, ambition, and personality, always be played by the current standard in sexual attractiveness in Hollywood. Why must we replace the attraction of personality with the attraction of physicality?

      (Never mind, we all know why, right?)

      And as for Avatar, don’t get me started. The movie is a cluster fuck, but much of the commentary against it is also a little… well, it isn’t always on solid ground either, in my mind. It is fucking terrible that the movie is about white people saving the world. But I also don’t think it would have been great if it was about how the Inuit who aren’t Inuit in any way except that they wear parkas taught the Japanese boy that he had to become good by overcoming his Japanese culture and listening the the kid from Tibet about being peaceful, cause folks from Tibet are really peaceful, and now we get to see the Invading Japanese get put in their place by the oppressed peoples of the earth….

      Feh. Though it would have been nice if there was a whole movie, that no matter how jacked up it was on what constitutes race and ethnicity, never had any white or European cultures at all. I can’t stand the whitewashing of the cast. But I also have A LOT of problems with the completely boned up “Disney costume as culture” understanding of race and ethnicity in the source material. So… egh. The whole thing is a disaster.

      • FM says

        “Why must Cleopatra, who many of her own age commented was not the most attractive woman physically but drew men because of her strength, ambition, and personality, always be played by the current standard in sexual attractiveness in Hollywood. Why must we replace the attraction of personality with the attraction of physicality?”

        YES. This drives me crazy. I think the “real” version of the story is so much more interesting than a story about a woman who attracted men because she was hot.

    • FM says

      I would also like to know her sources on the first inhabitants of Sicily and Greece being black, since she claims it’s a fact. I’ve always read that the Sicanians were what we would think of as “white” today.

      • Maria says

        I’d actually always heard that they were mixed, and that’s why northern Italians and southern Italians looked different and had different hair textures, and why Greeks were a darker version of white.

        Considering that the whiteness of the Italians, Greeks, and the Irish is a pretty recent thing, I think it’s pretty hard to say definitively whether they were “white” or not, particularly since US courts were a bit confused on what to think of them and people from the Caucasus Mountains, who’d be technically Caucasian but weren’t white by US definitions. I think there’s a couple of cases on that in White By Law.

      • Patrick McGraw says

        The comparatively recent “whiteness” of the Irish is also a pretty good sign that skin color isn’t the end-all-and-be-all of race as a social construct.

        • Maria says

          That’s one of the reasons I liked Michelle Moran’s take on Nefertiti. While the next book in the series was pretty white-washed, the first was very OMG MULTIRACIAL NATION!~!

  4. says

    . Who would look at a newborn’s clit and decide to cut off a chunk of it?

    Answer: this procedure is NOT being done on “healthy little girls” whose only “problem” is that they have big clitorises? Do you understand what Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia is?:

    These are girls whose clitorises are big enough AND MISSHAPEN so that they look like penises, and the REST of their genitals are also malformed. Labia may be fused together, blocking the opening to the vagina. … The kids who are born with this condition start off in severely poor health due to endocrine system problems, and THOSE issues are treated immediately after birth. (Those problems can be life-threatening.) After the initial medical treatment for the life-threatening issues, parents decide how to proceed with the other issues based on the severity of malformation. Again, these are not “big clits.”

    • Jane says

      …so, ambiguous visual gender, then? Obviously, these genitals must be edited to conform to what We Have Decided is not “misshapen.”

      Yeah, nothing to debate there.

  5. Clare says

    Okay, what I’m about to say will not go over well. The answer to the question, “Who looks at a newborn’s clit and decides to cut out a piece of it?” is, “Lots of people.” There are many forms of CAH, ranging from enlarged clitorises to actually fused vaginas, and most of them are treated surgically, usually while the girl in question is a baby. I fully admit to not having read all of Poppas’ research/publications, but my best friend (a biologist) did. As she explained it to me, in most of these cases, the newborn had a clitoris approximately four centimeters long, which is almost ten times the average size. The standard surgical response to this, unfortunately, is a clitorectomy. For Poppas to brag about saving nerves is disingenuous, but his procedure may well have been preferable to some of the standard surgical practices.

    Now, there are even more issues with the followup visits than the fact that he was touching young girls with a vibrator (which is already horrifying). Poppas had no ethics board approval for doing this, and thus was flying completely under the radar of any official supervision. And not only is it wildly unethical, it’s also bad science. His justification was that this was proof that his procedure was better for continued sensation than the standard ones, but he had no control group or even other post-surgical girls to compare his results to.

    The outrage over Poppas’ work is completely justified; I just think it’s important to know some of the context.

    • Maria says

      Thanks for that! I’ve heard of cliterectomies done medically in the US, but was mostly weirded out by the vibrator thing, and that it looked like his IRB approval had NOTHING to do with what his actual work was on.

      • Clare says

        Agreed. The device in question was not like a vibrator you could buy at a sex shop or anything, but there was no real justification for a sensation test (even though sensation tests are done after many surgeries) in the absence of anything to compare results to.

        Also, there’s no evidence at all that these procedures were being done to keep the girls from becoming lesbians, so I’m a bit weirded out by the fact that so many people are saying that was the motivation. I believe in outrage, but I think it’s important to know exactly what one is being outraged about.

  6. April says


    The table is a joke, yes, but jokes have to have some basis in truth to be funny. The frightening part is that OBs and L&D nurses have a reason to find it funny.

    • says

      But the basis could just be that it’s a procedure done for convenience. And medical professionals are used to horribly dark humour, partially to cope with all the shit they see. And ridiculous checklists can also be a joke about beaurocracy.

  7. Jen says

    as I said before, I love the Rihanna video, the song is good. I see it in contrast to Katy Perry’s video which says ‘I am definitely heterosexual so don’t get any funny ideas yeah? But sometimes I do sexy things with girls and maybe you can watch, boys’. The main thing that stands out is that lesbians can’t relate to that, it’s alienating.
    In Rihanna’s video she’s playing a woman who is in a relationship of some sort with another woman. which is nice, cos it’s not treated as a big deal (like WOAH THIS IS TWISTED AND WEIRD). which is probably why it hasn’t been on TV much. sigh.

  8. Jenny Islander says

    Isn’t Avatar: The Last Airbender the cartoon series? I thought that Paramount had to drop the word “Avatar” from the movie title, leaving it just The Last Airbender, due to issues with that Ferngully remake.

    Which turned out to be nicely symbolic of all of the other things that were dropped. Such as respect for the viewers. 19 million viewers tuned in to the series finale, so let’s take out the stuff that they went on to talk about with great excitement and joy on very long threads all over the fannish Web for months–or did I just never stumble across the jillions of pages where people went, “Tsk. If only Katara were whiter, and what’s with all the Chinese?” and the long “QFT” response threads?

    • Patrick McGraw says

      Correct about the titles, though I personally like to refer to Cameron’s film as Dances with Fremen in Ferngully.

      • Casey says

        I just called it “DeviantArt: The Movie”. Before I learned the actual PLOT (if you can call it that) of Avatar, I was just raging at how the mediocre DA anthro/furry fan-fart aesthetic seemingly took over the box office (I mean, come on! Giant blue cat-people? With dreads? STOP IT! >_<).

  9. M.C. says

    I’d like to mention that Daria and My So Called Life inspired a very sucessful German tv show titled “Mein Leben & Ich” (My Life & Me) which ran for 6 seasons.
    It’s the only show I ever watched that’s about a girl who’s geeky and even more sarcastic than I am. And Alex was the only heroine who wasn’t nice, wasn’t conventionally beautiful and didn’t have a love interest because she just didn’t like people. Alex was so sure of who she was, she never wanted to be popular, she just wanted the world to leave her alone because she was way smarter than everybody else. Of course it didn’t work and Alex had to deal with the stupidity around her. (Eventually they also gave her love interests because I guess you can’t have a show about high-school students without some sex, but even her rising hormones couldn’t change Alex’ uncompromising cynical personality.)

  10. says

    Of course, “Mein Leben und ich” was wasted by RTL who broadcast it during all hours of late night and early morning, sometimes seemingly at random.

    But I agree, great series.

  11. Jenny Islander says

    Another reason not to go see A:TLA: I’ve been following the reviews and it looks as though we’ve got a winner for Worst Movie of 2010.

    This takes real genius, considering that it’s supposed to be the feature-film version of a TV series. A TV series that’s been highly praised for its backgrounds, fight scenes, costuming, etc., etc., etc. A TV series that’s available on Netflix. He could’ve done a shot-for-shot remake of the best bits, figured out how to stuff the overall storyline of Season 1 into about two hours (not the hour and a half the film actually runs), and walked off with pots of money and a guarantee of two more movies. Instead, he made the movie that may finally have killed his career.

  12. Casey says

    The “Can’t We Blame the Victim Once?” thing is appalling, especially because most everyone AGREES with the “rape me once, shame on you; rape me twice, shame on me” post….ALFJSLJSKGNKGLSFNMLDKFGNLKFJDLGJDF

    @RMG, you make me wanna be an Egyptologist~! 😀

  13. Casey says


    @Patrick McGraw: I agree with what you said; just because you’re black doesn’t make you the arbiter of blackness, the same way the man-splaining trolls who come on here aren’t the arbiters of maleness just because they’re male (my closest comparison). :)

    • Patrick McGraw says

      Yes, exactly! No one else is the arbiter of your identity. People doing so is one of the most emotionally hurtful things I have experienced.

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