Quick note, though -- Just because I included a link as a favorite here still doesn't necessarily mean that I or VP as a whole agrees with the content. I mean, it might -- but some favorites are so because of the community discussion they inspired.
Also, as a reminder, in lieu of trigger warnings, I use keywords describing the themes of the piece. Please skim these before deciding to read the excerpt or click through for the full article. Outside sources are not safe spaces, and mainstream source's comments should almost always be avoided.
This special edition roundup includes both our favorite outside links and our favorite MMMMonday guest posts.
A preview of our off site choices: intent versus impact; survivors reclaiming masturbation; how babies are made without sex or gender; neonatal end of life care; disabled bodies and body positivity campaigns; labeling women as "crazy;" a love letter to the world through our bodies; the intersection of strong and skinny; why I don't diet; and 100 amazing trans Americans you should know.
Our Favorite Off Site Articles:
- Intent vs. Impact: Why Your Intentions Don’t Really Matter by Jamie Utt at Everyday Feminism (Keywords: allies, oppression, privilege, listening, intent, impact)
I cannot tell you how often I’ve seen people attempt to deflect criticism about their oppressive language or actions by making the conversation about their intent.
At what point does the “intent” conversation stop mattering so that we can step back and look at impact?
After all, in the end, what does the intent of our action really matter if our actions have the impact of furthering the marginalization or oppression of those around us?
- 5 reasons for survivors to reclaim masturbation at We Can Come Home (Keywords: sex, masturbation, trauma, abuse, assault, healing, orgasm, pleasure)
For many years, I used masturbation primarily as as way to dissociate. Some survivors have used masturbation addictively, and/or as trauma reenactment — some of us had to masturbate as a part of our experience of violation. There are many reasons why we might want to put masturbation up on a shelf for awhile. Certainly there have been stretches of time when I’ve done that: no one can tell me anymore that I have to get myself off, and forcing an orgasm is altogether too triggering. There are times I want my body to be a place that has no sex in it.
- Canadian author explains how babies are made without sex or gender by Carmen Chai at Global News (Keywords: books, children's literature, sex education, parenting, gender, family structures)
In the new children’s book, What Makes a Baby, a Canadian sex educator walks kids as young as four years old through where babies come from. What sets this book apart from its predecessors is that it doesn’t refer to moms and dads, nor does it mention gender – there are no blue, tuxedo-donning sperm or pink, girly eggs.
And this is all done on purpose: the author Cory Silverberg says his book is catering to the wide range of families, not just the nuclear family.
- End of Life, at Birth by April R. Dworetz at The New York Times (Keywords: premature birth, death, disability, neonatal care, medicine, parenting)
After eight weeks, Miracle came off the ventilator we had put her on. But three days later we had to turn it back on, and it was possible she would die or remain on the ventilator permanently if we didn’t give her steroids, which can have side effects as serious as cerebral palsy. Her mother opted for the steroids. But Miracle’s father was angry. He muttered to me: “Why do you do this? Why do you keep these babies alive?”
- Where Are All the Disabled People in the Body Positivity Campaigns? by Rachel Cohen-Rottenberg at This Body Is Not an Apology (Keywords: body image, disability, media representations)
As I’ve become more aware of myself and my standpoint as a disabled person, I’ve become more aware of how many otherwise progressive causes ignore us. For example, in academia, critical theory often leaves out issues of disability from the triad of race, class, and gender, even though disability weaves its way through all of them. I was shocked when I realized that theories built on an awareness of the devaluation and stigmatization of bodily difference often ignore the category into which everyone might someday fit: disability. But perhaps that is exactly why disability is left out. Most people feel such fear and vulnerability about the possibility of becoming disabled that they simply want to push it out of their minds.
- On Labeling Women “Crazy” by Dr. Nerdlove at Paging Dr. Nerdlove (Keywords: misogyny, relationships, mental health stigma, gaslighting, emotional abuse)
There are certain words that are applied to women specifically in order to manipulate them into compliance: “Slut”, “Bitch”, “Ugly/Fat” and of course, “Crazy”. These words encapsulate what society defines as the worst possible things a woman can be.
- A Love Letter to the World Through Our Magnificent Bodies by Jes at The Militant Baker (Keywords: NSFW, photography, nudity, body image, beauty standards, self love)
I'm still reeling from the magic of that night; an evening spent in beautiful body solidarity with nearly 70 other women. It was what Jade Beall would call "Medicinal Photography"... a shoot where you heal fragile pieces on the inside as you celebrate the strength of your outside.
Here we are, 68 women, one message.
This is our love letter to the world through our magnificent bodies.
- What happens when the pursuits of “skinny” and “strong” collide? by Caitlin Constantine at Fit and Feminist (Keywords: body image, strength, beauty standards, weight loss)
By now I’m sure most of you are familiar with the saying “Strong is the new skinny.” It shows up fairly regularly on fitspo images and in fitness circles as a way of promoting a new standard of female beauty, one that is focused on strength and physical power instead of weight loss and restriction. The words are often accompanied by photos of women showing off glistening muscles while they pose with weights or perform feats of bodyweight strength. If you have spent any time at all in the fit-o-sphere, you’ve seen what I’m talking about.
- Why I Don’t Diet – An Ode to My Father by Tiffany at More Cabaret (Keywords: fat, weight loss, body image, disordered eating, family, death)
His feats of athleticism echoed like legends among his family and friends. There was the time he simply forward-pressed an enormous king-size bed from the sidewalk to a second-story window; it took six men to wrangle it inside. There was the time he and my mother were trapped in a collapsing apartment, and he picked her up with one arm and ripped the dead-bolted door out of its frame with the other. There was the time he stopped an attempted mugging by walking up to the assailant and plucking the knife out of his hand, like you or I would flick off a bit of lint. He was a giant, thriving and vital, built of strength and flesh.
But he didn’t want to be a giant. He wanted to be thin.
- 100 Amazing Trans Americans You Should Know by Saeed Jones at BuzzFeed (Keywords: trans activism, education, health care, art, gender)
The brainchild of We Happy Trans’ Jen Richards and Antonia D’orsay, executive director of This Is How, the Trans 100 represents an effort — which will hopefully be reflected across the LGBT community — to break down implicit (and explicit) transphobia in media coverage by highlighting the diversity of trans Americans. Janet Mock, a noted trans activist and member of this year’s list, declared during her keynote address at the Trans 100 Launch event on March 29 in Chicago, “I am here tonight because of the 99 other names on the inaugural Trans 100 list and the unrecognized thousands who are not on this list whose quiet acts are changing lives.”
A preview of our top MMMMonday picks: HIV and marginalization; visiting the doctor while fat; exotification of the POC community; midwifery, doulas, and the trans* community; and talking about privilege.
Favorite MMMMonday Posts of 2013:
- World AIDS Day: Who Can Get to Zero? by Matthew Rodriguez (Keywords: AIDS, HIV, health care, public health, stigma)
To understand why HIV thrives in those communities, it is pivotal to understand how oppression occurs and how HIV thrives in these spaces. The people in power in a society -- people who often don't belong to any of the groups listed above -- have the privilege of making and implementing policies that are often meant to serve and better the lives of people who look just like them. In fact, some might ultimately define "privilege" as the ability to think about the world and only see people like one's self in it. When these marginalized groups, for many different reasons, don't have the same access to a variety of services that can help prevent HIV transmission, one is considered at "higher risk."
- Magic Pills and Miracle Surgeries: Visiting the Doctor While Fat by Karalyn Shimmyo (Keywords: body image, fat bias, health care, weight loss, discussion of exact weight numbers)
In his recent article “Obesity: Chasing an Elusive Epidemic,” bioethicist Daniel Callahan recommends a program of “social pressure on the overweight” as a solution to the so-called obesity epidemic. Anyone who takes public transportation in New York City has witnessed the recent public health initiative shaming fat people and those who drink soda and make other food and “lifestyle choices” deemed by the NYC Dept of Health to be catastrophically unhealthy. Advertising like this sends the message that fat people are not only sick and icky to look at, but are not real humans worthy of respect - hence all of the dehumanizing, headless photos.
- Exotification of the POC community by Erika Harada (Keywords: race, ethnicity, exotification, fetishization, dating, attraction)
As much as that’s true, having a racial fetish is not exactly the same thing as being attracted to blondes or redheads. Preferences might attract someone to a potential mate, but is likely something that is negligible when it comes down to actually getting to know someone and forming a bond. Fetishes, on the other hand, are things that can override all other things that one is attracted to in a person -- a race fetishist would only ever pursue people of that certain race, and would not consider having a partner of any other race. The person is reduced to an object, like a high-heeled shoe or sexy stockings, and nothing more.
- Birth workers. by barrelofrain (Keywords: health care, midwifery, doulas, trans* community, gender essentialism, childbirth, pregnancy loss, abortion)
Some of the birthworkers in the room talked about the pressure they felt from their midwifery schools to be more gender conforming; there was a real expectation that a midwife should be "womanly." There also tends to be a lot of gender essentialism, especially with language about "mothers" and "female experience," that can exclude trans* or gender nonconforming folks. Many of the birthworkers didn't even have much experience with queer clients because many queer families use fertility interventions, which puts them on the medical track for the birth.
- Talking about privilege (Keywords: race, privilege, oppression, allies, safe space)
Because we've been talking about privilege in relation to SSRs and other related topics, and because just about all of us hold privilege of one kind or another, this seemed like an important topic to bring up. Of course, the history of racism is quite different than the history of disablism, or the history of cissexism, but all oppression is related even if we can't draw direct comparisons.
Check these out and tell us what you think. Any questions? Do these pieces broaden your understanding of Safe Space in VP? Let's talk about it!
Did you miss any of these links the first time around? Have your thoughts changed since then?
As always, feel free to share anything you've read or written that stands out for you in 2013!