26.05.14

(TW: misogyny, violence, violence against women, death

The main story on the internet at the moment is a pretty difficult one for a lot of people. Yesterday in California, Elliot Rodger shot and killed 7 people after posting a video to youtube detailing his severe and terrifying hatred of women. This act of violent misogyny has sparked a massive conversation about the violence, whether actual, threatened or potential (all of which have serious consequences for women’s lives) that women face; for some, every single day.

If you’re up to it, the #YesAllWomen hashtag on twitter is worth a read, detailing the experiences women have with violence and misogyny, from supposedly minor to major. It inevitably needs to come with major trigger warnings for violence, sexual assault, physical and psychological abuse and death.

Some other interesting (but again, very hard to read) pieces on the shooting and the issues it raises include this piece on The Belle Jar about the problematic way the media has been reporting on this tragedy, especially speculations about Rodger’s mental health. s.e. smith has also written about the issue, focusing on the systemic violence that women (and indeed most people who do not identify as men) face and the fear we are constantly subjected to. Laurie Penny’s piece looks at the ‘not all men’ reaction that women often get when discussing male violence and misogyny. Beatrix Campbell’s piece is not directly about the shooting, but examines neoliberalism as a distinct form of patriarchy (though, be warned, she doesn’t engage with some issues in a particularly critical way).

Before moving on from this horrible subject, I want to take a moment in all the #YesAllWomen discussions to acknowledge that the ability to take such precautions as making knuckle dusters out of one’s keys, or (in jurisdictions that allow it) carrying small weapons like tasers and pepper spray, is not universally available to women. Quite apart from the fact that these precautions may make little difference, the US at least has a history of denying such measures of self-defence to women of colour and trans women. We have to always keep in mind the intersecting lines of identity that silence or lessen the impact of some voices in global discussions of violence.

If you’ve still got the energy for some more devastating and challenging commentary, read Ta-Nehisi Coates’ incredible long-read at The Atlantic on the case for slavery reparations in the US. If the last 36 hours have left you unable to do that right now, please save it and read it later: it is an incredibly important argument and a stunning piece of journalism. The article is meticulously researched and a lot of that research has been posted along with the final product. This interview with Coates is also worth a watch.

Still on institutionalised prejudice, but on a slightly lighter subject, this piece on colonialism in science fiction is an interesting read. I’m especially interested in discussions of political issues in sci-fi right now ’cause I just hit a very stressful story arc in Battlestar Galactica (by the wizard gods, you haven’t seen Battlestar Galactica? Go and watch it right now. No, go and read it after you’ve read Ta-Nehisi Coates’ essay).

Interest in the story of the nearly 300 kidnapped Chibok girls in Nigeria, has sadly (and almost inevitably) waned of late, so it’s worth reading about the deployment of US troops in Chad to assist the search, some obstacles facing the search, the political ramifications of the crisis in Nigeria and another piece from The Atlantic on the issue (the Atlantic may be my favourite site for current affairs and social commentary at the moment).

Finally, to cheer you up, Alex Casey’s blog at Flicks.co.nz on movie makeovers and why they are the worst is hysterically funny (be warned, do not read immediately before you have to work, or you may, like me, have to explain to people why your mascara is halfway down your face). If you’re a West Wing fan, have a read of this oral history of the show (Allison Janney thought that Gail was the same goldfish for seven years) and go and play with this RIDICULOUS show of nerdery, in which an uber fan has created a giant graphic analysis of the episode ’17 People’.

It’s going to be a hard week, so look after yourselves and each other.

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