October 2010

The Internet's Invisible Women

This is something I personally struggle with often.  Obviously, I visibly identify as female when I'm writing for this here blog.  But in a lot of other places online, I use a gender-neutral name. 

The up side of using a gender-neutral name is that you aren't constantly being hassled and insulted because of your gender.  Most people, in the absence of any gender identifiers, assume that you are male.  Male is the default in our society, whether you're talking about internet users or t-shirts.

The benefits of a gender-neutral name aren't just hypothetical.  I recently mentioned my gender ("outing myself," as it were) in a comment on Reddit.  About 75% of the response to my comment was either positive or neutral.  25% was just horrifying. 

Hair Politics

An interesting read in the New York Times this week, by a woman in her 50s who prefers to keep her hair long.  It seems that this confounds some people, although they seem not to realize it. 

I hadn't thought about it, but I have had some odd reactions to my hair, as well.  I'm pushing 40, and I have always kept my hair long. 

(Mostly because, being thick and coarse and curly, it's a lot easier to manage when it's long.  Just clip it back with some barrettes or a headband, and you're done.  When it's shorter it tends to stick out at wacky angles, or encircle my head like an awkward "middle-aged white woman afro.")

On Rape Apologists

It never ceases to amaze me that any time I talk about rape, people show up to tell me how I'm wrong.  Or at the very least, misinformed. 

Here's a tip: if you find yourself on the side of rapists, it may be time to rethink your position.

These rape apologists are almost always men.  But occasionally you see a woman arguing the point.  These women often turn out to be members of extremely conservative religions.  Perhaps the less said about that, the better.

One common argument is that "if someone leaves the front door unlocked, it's their fault if their house gets broken into."  (In other words, the house was asking for it.)

Alas, Poor Pink

Kate Harding has a great article in Salon about the color pink.  Surely one of the most divisive colors in the spectrum in American right now.  (Although humanity has a long history of sending colors in to fight our proxy wars.  Think of the Crips and Bloods.  Talk to a Jewish person about brownshirts.  Ask an IRA member to wear orange.)

Pink is a minefield for third wave feminists. 

On the one hand, you want to actively resist labeling girls with the color pink, and speak out against things like the "laptop for girls" (which is a regular laptop, but pink) or the "car for girls" (which is a regular car, but pink), or the "camera for girls" (which is a regular camera but.. you get the idea).

Pro-Ana Snacks

There has been a lot of RAGE in the blogosphere lately about the various horrible slogans trotted forth by the makers of Pretzel Crisps.  Their first slogan was "You can never be too thin."  They followed up with "Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels." 

Both of these are slogans which are cherished by the pro-anorexic communities.  (Yes, that's a real thing.  Yes, they are terrifying.  No, you shouldn't check them out.  Yes, they're mostly on Livejournal.) 

You frequently find them amateurishly photoshopped over the picture of an unhealthily skinny woman, and passed around as "thinspiration."  Oh how I wish I was kidding.