Well-Dressed Air Traveler, do you even hear yourself?

Slate allowed this to happen, and I’m just sitting here with my face contorted into this impenetrable mask of WTF. Someone named J. Bryan Lowder is trying to browbeat the rest of us into dressing a certain way when we travel by air because his eyeballs can’t take the assault of our grungy t-shirts and sweatpants all over the airport. I was going to do a translate job on his piece similar to how I did with Emily Yoffe’s rape apologist fuckery, but now that I’ve read it in full, I think my brain has been forced to put too many neurons in quarantine. Something about Lowder’s writing has inhibited my creative abilities.

Look at this shit here:

However, the primary reason I make the extra effort to plan my travel outfit is because, well, no one else does. Among the cavalcade of pajama pants, tracksuits, nightgowns, painting rags, and ill-fitting sweatshirts that one encounters in the world’s terminals and stations these days, the competently dressed individual stands apart as a beacon of civilized life, an island of class amid a swamp of schlumps. By dressing myself as a decent human being who is aware that he is in public, I like to think I am performing a small act of resistance against the increasingly slobbish status quo.

and this:

When we dress well for travel, we are not only making ourselves look good; we’re also signaling that we are invested in making this shared experience pleasant for everyone around us. Think of it as a kind of sartorial social contract: Honor it and your minor efforts make transit a more pleasing activity; break it, and reveal your misanthropic narcissism to, quite literally, the world. What else to call putting one’s own base comforts above the comfort of all?

And meanwhile he insists that he’s not elitist, no, not at all.

The difference between his position and mine ultimately comes down to a matter of priorities. Lowder feels good when he’s dressed nicely. I feel good when my clothes are as accommodating as possible to my body and the positions it might assume in the incredibly tedious, time-consuming, uncertain endeavor that is air travel. Lowder thinks I would feel better about traveling if I dressed better for the occasion. He is mistaken.

Aside from the inherent scarcity of the preferential treatment that airlines occasionally roll out to passengers who dress to advertise their inherent superiority from the swamp of schlumps, some of us simply aren’t interested in making friends that way. I have no intention of making a new pal on a flight, and I wouldn’t want to be friends with someone who doesn’t understand how I stay comfortable while packed into a coach seat. If everyone took the same care with their appearance as J. Bryan Lowder, then nobody would get a better seat on an airplane based on their presentation. For those who currently get that Sartorial Elite treatment, they can fucking keep their new Fashion Police BFFs and go sip their airline cocktails in some hoity-toity Beautiful People Club where the rest of us will not assault their poor beleaguered eyeballs.

When I travel by air (and it’s not something I do on a regular basis), my fellow airline passengers are almost uniformly people that I do not ever expect to see again, ever, in my life, and I have not the slightest reason to care what they think of how I’m dressed. This is something that makes me different from Lowder: I honestly don’t care how those other people in the airline feel about my clothes. Really don’t give a fuck. Can’t even bring myself to dredge up any sympathy for those who have an opinion of how I look when I get on an airplane. I do my best to smell decent when I’m jammed into a sardine can with a hundred other sardines, but those other sardines are not entitled to an opinion of how I look. Here’s another difference between me and Lowder: I do not make friends with people based on our ability to rise above the unwashed masses with our keen fashion sense. I bond with people based on shared experiences and affinity for creative insults.

I just can’t quite buy Lowder’s argument that dressing a certain way makes transit a “more pleasing activity,” because his use of phrases such as “civilized life,” “competently dressed,” and “shlumps” shows what his real attitude is. He wants everyone in the air terminal to have the same priorities as he does. He wants us to know that our dressing like slobs make air travel more uncomfortable for him, and that our failure to prioritize his sensibilities over our ability to sit in coach seats for 10 hours is a demonstration of “misanthropic narcissism.” If I decide that wearing a shapeless cotton dress with grungy sneakers is the best way to get through the hell that is a transcontinental flight, that’s what I’m gonna wear, and if that makes anybody else’s travelling experience less pleasant than airlines make it, they will find my apology buried twelve inches inside my big dimply ass. If I have to run the risk of spending the night in Athens airport, I have fewer than zero fucks to give about anyone’s Sartorial Social Contract.

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They still want us to cross the street.

PZ Myers picked up this…humorous…new meme, but I refuse to put another copy of the unaltered image into Google, so I’ve done my part with it:

Original meme shows compact car hitting female pedestrian on roadway. Text was: "FEMINIST LOGIC" "Don't tell me when to cross the street. Teach drivers not to hit people."  I have super-imposed new text: "ARE YOU FUCKING SHITTING ME? DO YOU THINK RAPE IS JUST LIKE AN ACCIDENTAL COLLISION? WHO ACTUALLY THINKS THIS WAY? WHO?"

Original meme shows compact car hitting female pedestrian on roadway. Text was: “FEMINIST LOGIC”
“Don’t tell me when to cross the street. Teach drivers not to hit people.”

Short version: there is no universe in which this analogy is not completely fucking inappropriate in every possible way. This is another one of those analogies that say more about how anti-feminists think of men than about how feminists think of women.

As PZ points out right away, we actually DO have a system of education aimed at preventing motorists from running over pedestrians. Some countries might be more lax than others about enforcement, but here in the US, you need a license to drive. You can be criminally prosecuted for driving without a license. Part of the licensing process is demonstrating that you know how to watch out for pedestrians. Not everyone has the right to drive a car. Some people are not eligible for driver’s licensing because they do not meet the conditions for operating a motor vehicle without putting lives in danger.

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While we’re on the subject: they still want our nudie photos.

Like I said yesterday, all the “advice” aimed at women to keep ourselves “safe” isn’t really serious. Nobody genuinely, truly wants us to behave in such a way that we have no vulnerabilities for predatory people to exploit. Folks love to scold us not to drink so damn much, but they don’t actually want us to take it far enough that rapists and other abusers would be unable to attack us.

Right now the news of Women’s Personal Safety is about nude photos. Unless you live under a rock, in which case you probably aren’t reading my blog, you’ve heard about all the famous women whose intimate photos were stolen from their iCloud accounts and shared with the entire Internet. And I’m sure you’ve heard some of the commentary about what those women should have done so that they couldn’t be violated like this. “Don’t take nudie pictures with your phone!” “The Internet isn’t safe!” “Nothing you put online is ever really secure!” “Use stronger passwords!”

I’m somewhat more sympathetic to the people who now preach the gospel of Not Taking Pictures Of Yourself Naked, but that’s mostly because the Internet is a fairly recent invention, cellphones with cameras are even more recent, and yeah, okay, the advice is pretty straightforward. It’s a lot less socially revolutionary and personally restrictive to refrain from putting nekkid photos of yourself online than it is to avoid rape by eschewing alcohol.

Even so, it’s worth asking why these women took these photos and stored them in iCloud accounts. If we were to sit down with Jennifer Lawrence, Kate Upton, Ariana Grande, etc. and ask sincerely, what were their reasons for taking and uploading those photos, their answers would probably all be variations on a particular theme: there were men who wanted to see them naked. They took those photos, and uploaded them, because some guys asked them nicely to do so.

This is different from revenge porn, in that the guys who asked for the photos to be taken do not appear to have been involved in stealing those photos and sharing them without the women’s consent. Both violations are similar in that they, admittedly, would not have been possible if those women had declined to take photos of themselves unclothed.

So, this is a question that I want feminist-allied, women-loving men to ask themselves: Do you really want nubile women to stop sharing nudie pics with their men? Do you want your next girlfriend to be afraid to give you a picture of her naked self?

Do you want to live in a world in which nudie pics are never taken and shared between intimate friends and partners, because there are too many people who fail to respect boundaries and privacy?

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What if we really DID stop getting so wasted?

Sometimes I like to think about what would happen if women (all people who are at risk of rape victimization, really, but the advice is primarily aimed at women) really followed all this “personal safety” advice ostensibly designed to prevent rape? Of course it’s really about making sure they rape someone else, but still: what would happen if we really did what the unending Greek chorus of comparing women’s bodies to unlocked cars were constantly shrieking at us to do?

“Don’t walk alone at night!” “Have a buddy with you at all times!” “Don’t stay out so late!” “Stop getting so wasted!”

“Guys like this don’t pick on the SOBER girls!”

I want to share another issue I have with all this finger-wagging at women to avoid rape by not getting drunk: this is not serious advice.

I’ve already said a lot about how inappropriate it is: rapists target their victims, and they make good and sure their targets drink too much. Drunk victims are seen as less sympathetic, while drunk rapists are seen as less culpable.

I’ve already gone on about how unproductive it is: if drunk girls aren’t available, rapists choose their victims based on other vulnerabilities.

But there’s something else that I don’t see in the discussion about the “personal safety” approach to rape prevention: all these people constantly scolding us not to drink so much, not to “let” rapists find us vulnerable, not to leave our proverbial cars unlocked in bad neighborhoods? They don’t mean it. Not really.

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I Shouldn’t Have to Dip My Nails In a Drink to Reduce My Risk of Rape


As anti-rape products go, the nail polish sounds a lot more user-friendly and pro-active than most. Still, the fact remains that all anti-rape products are designed to work at the site of the person at risk of victimization. I really wish this were a product that worked in more cases. I also wish we could focus more on structural factors and less on individual rape-avoidance.

Originally posted on TIME:

Every few months, a new product to help women avoid rape hits the market. This week’s is an innovative new nail polish that can identify the presence of drugs when dipped in a drink.

Considering that conservative estimates put the percentage of American women who’ve suffered sexual assault between 20%-25%, there’s huge market potential for this product. Of course, there is the fact that roofies, a nickname derived from the sedative Rohypnol, are less commonly used by serial predators than alcohol itself. A 2007 National Institute of Justice study found that only 2.4% of sexually assaulted female undergraduates were either certain or thought that they’d been drugged. On the other hand, studies conducted on college campuses show that alcohol is involved in anywhere between 50%-90% of sexual assaults. It is the weapon of choice, as expert David Lisak puts it.

I don’t want to dip my nails into…

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Marijuana is the new “slut.”

I just made up that analogy on the spot.

Latest news from Ferguson, MO is that Michael Brown had marijuana in his system at the time of death.

So my response is: Yeah, okay? If someone shot me in the coming week, my blood chemistry might show evidence of recent alcohol consumption. And?

Cannabis is not the type of substance that makes you behave in such a way that the people around you might fear for their lives. From what I hear about the effects of cannabis, it actually does just the opposite.

Renisha McBride had alcohol in her system at the time of her death. That explains how she wrecked her car, which explains why she was asking for help, but it does not explain why Ted Wafer decided to shoot her.

Michael Brown smoked weed at some point in the last 40 days before Darren Wilson shot him. That gives us nothing about the reasons why he had to die.

It reminds me of the range of reasons that many people have for labeling certain women and girls “sluts” after their rapes enter the news cycle. The word “slut” no longer says anything about their decision-making prior to victimization. They’re sluts because other people decided to do them harm. So it is with Michael Brown’s blood chemistry. He didn’t die because he was a cannabis user, he died because Officer Wilson shot him repeatedly.

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Ireland’s acting like the setting of a dystopian novel.

This is the sort of thing that happens when a suicidal woman requests an abortion in Ireland.

The poor girl must have been devastated. She was certainly traumatised enough to go on hunger and fluid strike. The HSE went to the High Court to get a care order to prevent her from starving herself. Eventually, she surrendered and allowed the baby to be delivered by Caesarean section sometime between 23 and 25 weeks.

She did what the law asked of her: presented herself to a panel of three psychiatrists and told them about her suicidal ideation. The psychiatrists agreed that she was a suicide risk and should be allowed a termination, but the obstetrician stepped in and insisted that the pregnancy was far along enough for a live delivery and therefore MUST have a live delivery.

She tried starving herself. No, she wasn’t allowed to starve; the state took her in and forced her not to starve or dehydrate. As long as she was pregnant, she did not have permission to die.

This is only a couple of steps removed from the setting of a dystopian novel I was working on (now shelved indefinitely) around the same time as beginning my urban fantasy work; in present-day Ireland, they only keep her hooked up for a short time, and they don’t appear to be forcing psychotropic drugs on her, but still, this is a very Handmaid’s Tale way to treat a young woman who doesn’t want to be pregnant.

Something tells me they don’t roll out the protective orders for suicidal people who aren’t pregnant. Now that the baby is out, there’s nothing stopping her from killing herself.

Delivery at 25 weeks is nearly the bare minimum required for a fetus to survive delivery. There’s a reason why nearly all parents with wanted pregnancies keep them going closer to 40 weeks if at all possible. Staying alive after such a premature birth is doable, but it’s not healthy.

The physical effects (her mental health is clearly irrelevant as far as the state is concerned) of Cesarean section are far from trivial, especially compared to abortion. She’s been forced into a major operation, with permanent effects, in order to deliver an extremely premature infant whom she did not want to conceive in the first place and will not raise.

I do understand where the Irish government is coming from, in handling such cases this way. If one pregnant woman can say she’s suicidal and get a safe abortion in an Irish hospital, it won’t be long until ALL women with unwanted pregnancies can get terminations just by claiming to have suicidal thoughts. Before you know it, the Republic of Ireland will be known as a country where any woman can get a pregnancy terminated legally by a qualified doctor. Everyone knows Ireland is supposed to outsource their abortion care to Great Britain. Anything less is a travesty. The woman in this case was unable to travel to the UK for a legal abortion. I’m seeing from other sources that she is not an Irish national, so it’s probably an immigration concern that kept her from making the trip. It’s the most disadvantaged and desperate women who can be forced to keep their pregnancies to the point of just barely viability, and who can be taken into state custody to keep from starving themselves. Those with more control over their life circumstances can exercise their right to reproductive freedom in other countries.

But that said, how far does it have to go? How many more women have to go on hunger strike, or successfully kill themselves, before the Irish government decides that allowing legal abortion to happen within its own borders would not be the worst thing ever? How many women will they incarcerate and force into major abdominal surgery for the sake of barely viable micro-preemies before they start re-examining their priorities?

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“What do you mean, you ‘do voices’?”

I came home last night, and at some point between checking my phone on the train, and opening Twitter at home, the news of Robin Williams’s death had entered the media. I think it was Danielle Brooks’s Tweet that I saw first.

Whatever plans I had for the evening went out the window. Now I have a hangover from an evening of ugly crying.

I don’t blame Mr. Williams for taking his life. I’m not interested in castigating the deceased for their failure to stay with the living. I’m devastated that he was so sick he had no better options.

As much as I loved his work, I haven’t seen all his movies. Now renting as many as possible so I can rectify that omission.

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Someone’s priorities are really skewed.

This asshole happened:

 “This Ebola epidemic could become a global pandemic and that’s another name for plague,” said broadcaster Rick Wiles on his “Trunews” program.

“It may be the great attitude adjustment that I believe is coming,” Wiles continued. “Ebola could solve America’s problems with atheism, homosexuality, sexual promiscuity, pornography, and abortion.”

Someone is really, really eager for a new plague to come along and punish America for its overly accepting, pleasure-seeking, independence-oriented ways.

I don’t think it’s any accident that all the “problems” Mr. Wiles listed either pertain to enjoying sex, or refuse to put money in the church offering plate.

Of all the horrible shit that’s going on in our country, and of all the destruction we’ve wrought elsewhere in the world, there are plenty of people, like Mr. Wiles, who think the real problems are, respectively: not being Christian, fucking people of the same gender, fucking lots of people in a given stretch of time, watching other people fuck, and fucking while refusing to accept uncontrolled fertility.

We drove a wrecking ball through Afghanistan, we’ve jackhammered Iraq, we’ve failed to clean up our messes in both of those countries, we continue to enable the Israel/Palestine conflict, we waste absurd amounts of money and human productivity on punishing people for non-violent drug offenses, and we keep millions of families in poverty. Our entire nation owes its existence to genocide and slavery.

Enjoying sex and not apologizing, though? Now THAT is where this guy’s God is putting the smackdown on us.

Most people, including the vast majority of American Christians, tend to think that Wiles’s laundry list of sins ranges from “not a problem in the least” to “less of a problem than people dying of Ebola.”

And yet, there are still people who keep guys like this in business. Many of them do a lot of the same things that are supposedly bringing God’s wrath on us, but they feel bad about it, and that makes all the difference.

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My husband is more to me than a living jar-opener


I can open my own jars, haul furniture, mow the lawn, and get things off high shelves.

If I were unable to do any of those things, what would patriarchy have to offer?

Men don’t owe me their physical strength or time for help with activities that are beyond my muscular capacities. At the same time, I don’t owe them my gratitude for their existing with greater upper-body strength.
Patriarchy isn’t really interested in making women’s lives easier by persuading men to be available to help women when stronger arms are needed. Patriarchy is interested in making women dependent so that our assistance is constantly available to men. Differences are not written in stone.

Originally posted on Fit and Feminist:

If you’ve been on the internet at all in the past week, you’ve probably already seen the Women Against Feminism tumblr going around, or at the very least read about it.

I didn’t think too much of it when I saw it, for two reasons. For one, most of the women had a tenuous grasp (at best) on the definition of feminism, one that seemed like it was informed in its entirety by Rush Limbaugh and Jessi Spano, and also the belief that “misandry” jokes are actually serious.

The other reason was that most of the “women” actually looked like teenage girls. Considering that I was super into Ayn Rand when I was a teenage girl, I can’t get too far up on my high horse with regards to the contributors. Let’s just say that if Tumblr was around in the late 1990s, I’m sure there’d be a photo of…

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