Monthly Reading: January, 2015

The same as Sunday Reading, but on the last Sunday of every month, instead of every week.

When Your Girlfriend wants Two Girlfriends

They are in a relationship with a woman who has a long-term partner, and open to seeing other people. ‘I think polyamory places quite a lot of emphasis on sex and (romantic) love, but for me non-monogamy is important as part of a wider practice of thinking critically about all relationships – both sexual and non-sexual.’

 On Effigies and Elegies

In its broadest definition, an “effigy” is a representation of a person, usually life-size, and almost always three-dimensional. More distantly, an effigy also describes funerary art that might adorn a tomb or coffin. But effigy also carries within it its negative connotation: a crudely made figure representing a hated person and made to be publicly destroyed (eg “George W. Bush was burned in effigy”).  In the twitter storm and media outrage machine that followed the discovery of the lynching images, it was this last meaning that framed, if not foreclosed, the conversation.

The brutal secrets behind ‘The Biggest Loser’

TW: Fat Shaming, ED

‘The whole f- -king show,” she says today, “is a fat-shaming disaster that I’m embarrassed to have participated in.”

On Sentimentality: A Critique of Humans of New York

The problem with sentimentality here is not the infusion of emotion into a political issue; on the contrary, it is the funneling of emotion into mute forms, preventing the marriage of thought and feeling that produces the most concentrated social action. Sentiment, in cases of social strife, obfuscates constructive empathy, perhaps the element whose disuse most directly sustains white America’s blissful and deadly ignorance. 

[…]

One of the most glaring threats that HONY makes to humanity lies in its pretension of representing all of its diversity through the lens of a single individual. While claiming to define the population of New York, it presents a whitewashed image of an earnest, vibrant city that takes place predominantly in Manhattan, during the day. The individuals featured are only those Stanton feels comfortable approaching, those he deems interesting enough to photograph, who do not take offense to an intrusive white man’s request to commodify their images. 

Love Homoscopes

Astrology is not trying to trap you. It’s really more about holes, and all your ways out.

Life in the accelerated academy: how it’s possible for Žižek to publish 55 books in 14 years

Where it becomes surprising is when considering how consistently it would be necessary to sustain this sort of rate – I assume there’s an editorial infrastructure around Žižek which takes much of the work out of the many additional publications (edited collections, interviews etc) and also that pitches books to him at least some of the time. In this sense his commercial success likely translates into institutional scaffolding that reduce the cognitive load of writing i.e. reduces the number of things he has to think about in order to move from one project to the next.

Gender, blah, blah, blah

Writing — coming to writing — is a profound act of self-realization that can be as arduous and painful as it can be exhilarating. I try hard not to coalesce all men into one lumpen category, including those who doubtless have also overcome struggles, internal and external, to be where they are. Struggles are often invisible. But one need only look at the pages of our literary magazines to see that women’s writing has a wholly different status culturally — Alice Munro, Hilary Mantel, Eleanor Catton notwithstanding. Our idea of serious, intellectual writing appears to be overwhelmingly male.

The Uncompromising Anti-Capitalism of Martin Luther King Jr. 

What would be a born again America for Martin Luther King? An America that understands, as King put it, “that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring.” An America that feels as passionately as King that, “The curse of poverty … is socially as cruel and blind as the practice of cannibalism.” An America that believes, as King did, that “The time has come for us to civilize ourselves by the total, direct and immediate abolition of poverty.”

Universities must not become part of the security apparatus

Imagine this. You’re teaching a course on current affairs and decide to have your class debate the merits and demerits of fracking. The debate is passionate and gets out of hand, with students on both sides getting personal. You calm them down, and the session ends. But you’ve noticed that one student, a passionate environmentalist, is sullen and withdrawn, not engaging with others, and obviously anxious. You are under a standing instruction from your dean to report all such symptoms to the faculty administrator. Next week, the student is absent. You learn that, based on your report, she is now under the supervision of your university’s local authority, with a support plan to help correct her radical tendencies.

Now consider this. The Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill 2014-15 being considered by Parliament proposes that all university governing bodies have a statutory duty to implement measures that prevent radicalisation that could lead to acts of terrorism. In addition to barring radical advocates from speaking on campuses, the new law will require every local authority to set up a panel to which the police can refer “identified individuals” who are considered to be vulnerable to radicalisation. All universities are identified as “partners” with their local authorities in this process of referral.

CN: Don’t read the comments, bc fatphobia, but article important.

Here’s why overweight people are sharing doctor stories on Twitter

Which leads you to this:

Why there’s no point telling me to lose weight

He hasn’t asked me how much exercise I already do. He doesn’t know that just last night I danced energetically for four hours then walked several miles home. I assume that he tells all his fat patients the same thing, without bothering to find out about their individual situations. This doesn’t exactly fill me with trust that I’m receiving responsible medical advice. I don’t visit this practice again.

I have been fat my whole life. So when healthcare professionals ask me—in the middle of a consultation about something completely unrelated—whether I know that my BMI is too high and whether I’m engaged in any weight management, I’m always a little surprised when they act like they might be the first to have ever brought it up. As if I might have made it through my 30 years without ever once noticing that I was fat and that some people think that fat is bad.

 

Racism in Post-racial Europe

The economic crisis engulfing the continent may be pushing furores about burkas and minarets temporarily off the front pages but, as the November 2011 arson attack against the offices of the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo demonstrates, the issue of whether there is a space for difference in Europe is never far from the agenda.

I’m Plus Size and I’m an Athlete

My saying is that if you train like an athlete, nurture your body like an athlete, and you’re passionate about your chosen sport like an athlete, then guess what – I believe you’re an athlete no matter what your shape or size is.

THE BRUEG[h]EL CENSUS

The Younger – wittingly? unwittingly? – has made this dead cosmic circuitry bearable, transient; along those paths and on that frozen river our eye is made to criss-cross, not circle, and finally escape the painting. And he has done all this in direct contravention of the central thought process of the original – that these circles go nowhere for a reason. They mean something.

Political Prisoners, Prisons, and Black Liberation

Fascism is a process, its growth and development are cancerous in nature. While today, the threat of fascism may be primarily restricted to the use of the law-enforcement-judicial-penal apparatus to arrest the overt and latent revolutionary trends among nationally oppressed people, tomorrow it may attack the working class en masse and eventually even moderate democrats. Even in this period, however, the cancer has already commenced to spread. In addition to the prison army of thousands and thousands of nameless Third World victims of political revenge, there are increasing numbers of white political prisoners — draft resisters, anti-war activists such as the Harrisburg Eight, men and women who have involved themselves on all levels of revolutionary activity.

Among the further symptoms of the fascist threat are official efforts to curtail the power of organized labor, such as the attack on the manifestly conservative construction workers and the trends towards reduced welfare aid. Moreover, court decisions and repressive legislation augmenting police powers — such as the Washington no-knock law, permitting police to enter private dwellings without warning, and Nixon’s “Crime Bill” in general — can eventually be used against any citizen. Indeed congressmen are already protesting the use of police-state wire-tapping to survey their activities. The fascist content of the ruthless aggression in Indo-China should be self-evident.

How to Uphold White Supremacy by Focusing on Diversity and Inclusion: Liberalism’s inherent racism.

All of these assumptions are grounded in liberalism: the egalitarian principle which works to ignore and erase difference rather than to undo oppression. It strives for a post-feminist, post-queer, post-racial or racially colorblind world. Liberalism as an ideology deems equal rights and equal treatment as a higher priority than  material justice, or as an effective means towards  it. Its presumptions of equality are false, as individualist equality may be written into law and policy while material inequality thrives. It effectively abstracts and obscures power dynamics along lines of race, class, and gender. The difference between material justice and liberalism is the difference between actually making reparations for a long history of racism and countries like Austria, Finland, Hungary, France, and now Sweden removing all mentions of “race” from their legislation.

On Liberal Racism, Sexism and Islamaphobia: Why Liberals Don’t Deserve Our Trust

It’s why anti-racism, feminism, support for gay rights, trans rights, and the rights of the disabled do not often enough go hand in hand. It’s why Islamic fundamentalism is perceived as so much worse than Christian fundamentalism. This is the problem with liberalism: it doesn’t require a person to unpack his entire history of socialization, prejudices, or subliminal endorsements of systems that have always benefited straight white males, he just has to pretend to appreciate diversity and to be against oppression.

In reality, marginalized folks need more than just an acknowledgment of our struggles. We need more than support of gay marriage with no emphasis on the LGBT homelessness crisis or the trans Woman murder rate. We need more than an endorsement of equal pay for Women without addressing the lack of support for caregivers and families. We need more than acknowledging that slavery was wrong and the lukewarm support of affirmative action without a full-fledged commitment to reparations for a community that has been ravaged by 400 years of forced labor, Jim Crow, and segregation. We need more than the idea of freedom from religion while singling out a religion not practiced by the majority of the 1% that pull the strings in this country. We need more than all of this, but so far liberalism has failed to give it.

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