Links of Great Interest 8/21/09

Bored at work? Check out these links of great interest! 😉

Yo, the Marriot says it’s not their fault if you get raped in their parking lot. They recanted their statement eventually, but WTF, universe? At least marital rape might become illegal in the Bahamas.

K. Tempest Bradford has some good advice on improving the quality of SF/F anthologies.

UnusualMusic has a post at ABW on the erasure of Asian characters in Hollywood movies.

Shakesville has an interesting post up on mistrusting certain men because of their (un?)conscious collusion with patriarchy.

More info on healthcare reform here. Sarah Palin has also weighed in. When did OK! become a politically relevant magazine? Was I, like, asleep?

This cool new women’s magazine looks promising. Unfortunately, women who like to look at hot naked men don’t exist.

This is a cool post on women/desire and the male gaze.

Is Lady Gaga a tool of the Illuminati? This is kind of hilariously awesome.

Here’s a video clip on child brides.

Pregnant women must ALWAYS be cute. At least you’ve got something to puke in while you panic about babies.

Would you buy your child a Lil Monkey baby doll?

Ever wonder what goes on behind the scenes of women’s body builder contests?

This is a constantly updated archive of healthcare stories.

These women talk about their combat experiences in Iraq.

This Youtube video talks about solar power and its use in the fight against hunger.

Did someone get told?

The reporting of the Sodini slaughter is, needless to say, quite troubling.

Right, so John C. Wright had this big long post up on how SYFY will have more LGBT characters, but then the internetz exploded in his face and he took it down. Fortunately, it’s been saved and responded to.

PETA loves animals but hates fat women. Skinny women, on the other hand, make for excellent sexualized ad fodder.

Can you read Tamil? Here’s [article removed] some info on a woman doing work with South Asian LGBT comms. [ETA: The link’s dead, unfortunately.]

These links are NOT safe for work, but are still of great interest!

Women are a growing market for porn. Soon it will make sound financial sense for those romance covers to change!

Feminist Pornographer talks about desire as a facet of feminism.


  1. sbg says

    From the Palin/OK! bit:

    For a less anecdotal statement of fact as to why that contention is total bullshit, save me some time. For those of you who have health insurance from a non-government source, please go look at your policy. I mean really look at it, not just skim over the co-pay and how much you have to fork out a month for you, you + 1 or you + 2 or more–read the whole damn policy. And tell me what care your health insurance company–not you or your doctor–what medical decisions about your care that your health insurance company does not now control already that the government suddenly would.

    OMG, this. I work in benefits/insurance at least part of the time and the level of ignorance regarding healthcare, medical insurance in particular, never fails to astound me. I fret quite often that people do not even seem to CARE about anything but the bottom line, or whether or not they can go out of network. All these arguments Palin spouts about level of care, etc., just make me choke – does she think we’re living in a dreamworld of equitable care right NOW? I mean, seriously, the elderly, the disabled and the really, truly ill already receive the worst care.

  2. Charles RB says

    The Women at Arms article is interesting, though Specialist Alfaro’s blunt statement that “everyone”* wanted to get the first confirmed kill and use the guns was pretty disturbing.

    * Based on other two accounts, this is likely exaggerated.

  3. Pocket Nerd says

    Given the crazypants anti-feminist religion espoused by the Marriott family, I’m not surprised they place the blame squarely on the rape victim. (This is also why I generally won’t stay in Marriott hotels when I travel.)

    On the plus side, expanding Bahamas rape laws to cover marital rape is a good thing, and one of the essentials of women’s rights. If the law does not recognize the possibility of rape within marriage, it implicitly declares women are possessions, not people.

    “We had no bankable Asian stars!” is the lamest excuse ever. It’s a veiled admission that Hollywood isn’t interested in fostering or promoting non-caucasian talent. Admittedly, there are a few notable Asian actors, but (like black actors) they generally achieved their positions despite Hollywood’s influence, not because of it.

    (Am I a bad person for liking 300?)

    Filament magazine looks interesting. (I’ll have to keep it away from my SO, though, or she might decide she’d rather look at hot naked men than portly naked me.) The “female gaze” page is particularly interesting, and suggests this won’t be the same old boring misogynist smut… although of course I expect to hear the “men’s rights” boys kick and scream about the “feminization of men.”

  4. Patrick J McGraw says

    The article on the erasure of Asian presence in film is interesting, but I worry that the writer is tossing in anything that could be viewed as an example of whitewashing without checking it.

    For example, the Cowboy Bebop movie: Spike Speigel isn’t Asian. All the indications of race that we get point to him being Jewish. So while casting English/Hawaiian/Chinese Keanu Reeves as Spike does change the character’s race, it most assuredly does not fall under whitewashing Asian characters.

    Regarding GI Joe, Snake Eyes has always been white. His story certainly qualifies for the “Mighty Whitey” trope where a white guy outdoes his adopted culture, but it isn’t a case of whitewashing.

    Also, I fail to understand the writer blaming Keven Spacey for the whitewashing of 21.

  5. Anemone Cerridwen says

    Kevin Spacey had a producer credit on 21. I think he helped develop it as a vehicle for himself. So he gets a finger pointed at him fair and square.

    I made a comment on the white-washing article about the erasure of Canadians in American films with Canadian characters (they tend to hire Americans to play Canadians and Canadians to play Americans, when they acknowledge the existence of Canada (10% of the US domestic market) at all. Grrr.

  6. Pocket Nerd says

    Is it really fair to judge historical figures by modern standards? By modern standards, even the most diehard abolitionists of the 19th century would be raging racists; most of them didn’t want black people to be equal to white people, they just didn’t think they should be outright property.

    Jefferson, like everybody else ever, was influenced by the culture in which he grew up. Even though I like to think of myself as reasonably enlightened, I’m certain in 200 years some of my morals and views will be regarded as either quaintly antiquated or downright offensive.

    I’m not defending slavery, or suggesting that sex with a slave isn’t rape by any sensible definition of the word, but I don’t think it’s productive to single out Jefferson and pretend he’s somehow worse than pretty much every other affluent white male of his culture. Yes, women’s rights and minorities’ rights were pretty much nonexistent back then. It’s good that we’ve improved so much, though we still have a lot further to go.

    • Maria V. says

      I think it is fair, actually, for two reasons. Firstly, because statements like yours contribute to a type of historical amnesia. While Jefferson’s attitude toward women and African Americans was common for his time period, it wasn’t the only attitude going on. Some slave owners were agressively anti-racist, freed their slaves, and tried to make the land they controlled a racial utopia. I think it’s really easy to excuse people like Jefferson by saying, Oh, they’re products of their time, but to say that disregards the possibility of free will. Plus, it’s like Nikki Govanni says — we’re not called to be products of our time. We’re called to be products beyond our time. Anything less is a failure of imagination.

      I hope that made some sort of sense. I’m heavily medicated right now because of having caught a case of swine flu. :-/

  7. SunlessNick says

    I don’t think it’s productive to single out Jefferson and pretend he’s somehow worse than pretty much every other affluent white male of his culture.

    Renee isn’t saying he’s worse. She’s saying that his place in American history doesn’t absolve him, especially since – as Maria says here, and Zuzu says there – other men of his time did know and act better.

  8. Zahra says

    I stand strongly with Maria V. on this. The phrase “historical amnesia” is a great one, because statements like Pocket Nerd’s above erase the wide range of opinion that existed at the time. I study and write about time periods in which no one, not even slaves themselves, questioned slavery as an institution, but the 18th century is NOT one of those eras.

    There certainly were abolitionists at the time, like David Walker, who were arguing for black equality as well as liberty. Oddly enough, many of them were black. To argue otherwise not only erases the voices of white radicals of the time, but also contributes to the modern-day white-washing of the abolitionist movement. Statements like the above reflect contemporary racism (that the majority white position speaks for the entire era) more than they reflect on that which existed hundreds of years ago.

    Too often these discussions are distorted by fame. People will try to defend, say, Jane Austen’s treatment of slavery in Mansfield Park, when they haven’t read widely in the period–and believe me, once you’ve read Blake and Barbauld and host of other contemporaries you know how much of a conservative she was. Similarly with Shakespeare; people try to defend him by saying he was better than Marlow; but he was much more racist and anti-Semitic in his portrayals than some of the less famous and more forgotten playwrights of the day. Being right isn’t always linked to great literary talent; and great political success often does link to not rocking boats steered by powerful interests, as in Jefferson’s case.

    I also agree with Maria V’s 2nd pt. Nikki Giovanni says it better than ever I could, but–slavery was wrong then, as it is wrong now, and I do believe that people of the time knew it, and chose to cling to a false ignorance. I think, in fact, that the huge amount of pro-slavery propaganda produced at the time is a pretty good indication of guilt and discomfort.

  9. Anemone Cerridwen says

    “I think, in fact, that the huge amount of pro-slavery propaganda produced at the time is a pretty good indication of guilt and discomfort.”

    Thank you for this one sentence. I feel so much better now about all the pro-porn pro-sex-work pro-sex-in-media-period noise I keep hearing these days.

    And yes, it’s a good to remind people that abolitionists were often black. I hadn’t remembered that part.

  10. Zahra says


    Thanks. I think remembering many, perhaps most, abolitionists were black — despite the fact that it was a far more dangerous position for them to take — is incredibly important. As is disabusing ourselves of the idea that whatever most white people thought at the time was the end of the question.

    Your analogy to certain types of pro-sex-work etc. propaganda is an interesting one, which hadn’t occurred to me. But I find it striking because the history of slavery is so deeply linked to the history of prostitution. (Present too, unfortunately.)

    Without getting completely off-topic, the pro-sex-work position, at least among feminists, suffers enormously from similar racialized dynamics. In that the white perspective on sex work — overwhelmingly drawn from the upper echelons of a very steep pyramid — is presumed to be more important, or more typical, than that of women of color who work in less safe but more common settings. Even when the latter are the actual majority.

  11. Charles RB says

    “In that the white perspective on sex work — overwhelmingly drawn from the upper echelons of a very steep pyramid — is presumed to be more important, or more typical”

    I’m not even sure it’s the white perspective, because AFAIK a lot of white sex workers aren’t in an “upper echelon” either. It looks more like the ‘middle-class’ (for want of a better term) perspective is presumed to be more typical.

  12. says

    If we don’t label Thomas Jefferson a rapist because he lived in ignorant times, how can we label today’s rapists? We STILL blame the victim. We STILL excuse the lovely bright young men who just got a little out of hand while partying one night. We STILL think of rape as lust gone too far rather than the simple violent act of torture that it is.

    We have so many stupid, hideous, humanity-denying attitudes on rape, how can we blame any rapist for his actions, if we allow society’s shortcomings to be used as an excuse?

  13. Fraser says

    “and I do believe that people of the time knew it, and chose to cling to a false ignorance. I think, in fact, that the huge amount of pro-slavery propaganda produced at the time is a pretty good indication of guilt and discomfort.”

    Or it could be an indication they sincerely believed slavery was a wonderful institution. They’d still be wrong, but that doesn’t mean they weren’t sincere.

  14. Zahra says

    @ Charles RB

    Yes, class plays into the sex work debate in a lot of ways. I think you’re right that many white sex workers/people in prostitution aren’t in the upper echelons of the industry–but those upper echelons are pretty damn white, in contrast to, say, people working the street or even strippers who don’t work in the 2% of clubs that forbid patrons touching. The latter don’t get TV shows or book contracts, and I think race is a factor there.

    But I was also thinking about the role race plays in outsider perspectives on sex work. The pro-sex-work position is largely based on an idea of sexual liberation which is very white (and also middle-class). It’s about throwing off the strictures that have confined white women’s sexuality: the pressure to not be sexual, be a good girl, etc.

    That doesn’t invalidate those ideas or say that they only apply to white women; but many women of color are fighting the idea that they are automatically oversexed and sexually available to whatever man asks. The joyful reclamation of the word “whore” etc. often doesn’t resonate, because even when women of color are fighting the pressure to be a “good girl,” it comes from a different place.

    Do you know a woman of color who has been solicited as a prostitute simply by the virtue of her race and the fact that she was in a mostly black or Latina neighborhood–despite the face that she was wearing sweats/helping post a sign/carrying her laundry/all of the above? I do. It’s shockingly common.

    If you ask women of color who have done sex work/been in prostitution (especially lower down the ladder) what they think of the industry — well, first of all, it becomes hard to ignore the death toll, the high rates of murder by johns or drugs or controllers. But from those women I have heard some of the harshest criticisms of the industry — the voices that say, “My life was a living hell” — and of the pro-sex-work policies that have been enacted.

    I don’t think there’s a one-size-fits-all answer to this diverse industry and complex problem, but I do think we should listen to those voices.

  15. Zahra says

    @ Fraser

    “Or it could be an indication they sincerely believed slavery was a wonderful institution.”

    Actually, I don’t think so. The 18th century saw a huge propaganda battle between pro- and anti-slavery forces. I think that the fact that the pro-slavery side fought so hard, with so many pamphlets and public lectures and the like, shows that they were nervous that conscience could get in the way of their profits. (As it turns out, they were eventually right.) If everyone agrees with you, you don’t waste a lot of time and money trying to convince everyone to agree. And there were high-profile converts to the cause of abolition, like John Newton, the guy who wrote the lyrics to “Amazing Grace.”

    I’m not saying that they weren’t those who chose to believe slavery was fine for their own comfort, but I do think the outpouring was in part a form of protesting too much. The transatlantic slave trade and the ensuing bondage were an ugly, ugly thing, and the evidence for its inhumanity was a lot more in-your-face than many earlier forms of slavery. Its opponents were also better-organized and surprisingly influential.

    But you can go back to the 2nd c CE, and find in Apuleius’s Metamorphoses a critique of slavery under the Roman Empire. The idea that something is wrong with slavery isn’t a new idea.

  16. Charles RB says

    @ zahra – good points, I hadn’t considered the involvement of race in gender/sex stereotypes. And race could have something to do with “upper-class” sex work being listened to more, though your bit on the harsh criticisms from non-white sex workers makes me wonder: maybe it’s also because the “upper class” accounts aren’t harsh?

    After all, if the job’s actually alright and there’s a bit of glam to some of it, then it’s not really a problem (except for a few bad bits) and so we as a society don’t have to worry about it. This is going to be extra true for guys.

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