Laurie Toby Edison


Joan Rivers: Icon, Mean Girl, and Feminist All at Once

Debbie says:


I never liked her performances; I’m allergic to mean comedy–I see plenty of meanness out there without intentionally adding more to the mix. At the same time, I understand the role of mean comedy–for other people–as catharsis, as outlet for feelings otherwise repressed. So I try not to write off the Joan Rivers, and Richard Pryors of this world, especially when they come from some kind of marginalized, one-down perspective.

I certainly never liked her plastic surgery, but I always liked the way she was open about it. Since she died, a lot has been written about the documentary, Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work (full film available for free at the link). When Roger Ebert reviewed the film in 2010, he said:

She’s a woman who for various reasons depends on making audiences laugh. They walk in knowing all of her problems, knowing her age, eagle-eyeing her for the plastic surgery, ready to complain, and she forces them to laugh, because she’s so damned funny. I admire that. Bernard Shaw called it the Life Force. We see her in the film’s first shot, without makeup. A minute later, ” Joan Rivers ” is before us. Her life is a performance of herself.

Yes, she’s had plastic surgery. Well, why not? I think it’s wrong for most people. But show business is cruel and eats its old, and you do what you have to do. She talks about it. She talks about everything.

We’re short on women who talk about everything. We’re short on women who tell the truth about their own relationships to their bodies. And most of the ones we do have are political people with fairly small platforms, speaking mostly to audiences who already agree, or come close to agreeing. Rivers had the national stage. As a household word, she could tell (problematic) jokes about aging and millions of people would hear them, and some would think about them.

No more Botox for me. Betty White’s bowels move more than my face.

Nasty (or at least intrusively personal) to Betty White. Honest about Botox. Honest about bowels. Kind of funny.

My vagina is like Newark [New Jersey]. Men know it’s there, but they don’t want to visit.

Heterosexist. Racist and classist, since many or most East Coast people know how black and poor a town Newark is. Honest. Funny.

My breasts are so low now I can have a mammogram and a pedicure at the same time.

Honest. A little bit privileged (pedicures are a token of affluence, which may be part of why millions of women scrimp and save to get one). Quietly encouraging women’s health. Funny.

Philip Maciak wrote a fine piece about her at Slate.

But if show business was cruel to Joan Rivers—and it was—Joan Rivers was cruel right back. In 1994, just two years after Leno took over for Carson, Rivers founded the institution with which she will likely always be associated. The format of Fashion Police has evolved, it’s jumped around to various networks, and the fawning foils surrounding her have been cast and recast, but the basic idea has remained the same: Joan Rivers has a TV show where she mercilessly, gleefully denigrates what other celebrities look like. For 20 years the show has proven to be the perfect platform for Rivers’ one-liner-at-a-time battle with show business. Like Rivers herself, the show has a weird insider-outsider perspective. Is it the party organ of Hollywood’s systematic war on women? Or is it a suicide attack from within Hollywood itself?… At its best, Fashion Police was a fun, backhanded celebration of all the forms beauty can take in Hollywood from America’s premier insult comic. At its worst, the show was mean-spirited fluff. …

For her whole career, Rivers has been self-consciously pushing boundaries. In recent years she’s often spectacularly pushed the wrong ones, but we shouldn’t forget that, at one time, she was pushing the right ones—and doing it virtually alone.

After reading around to write this post, I’m going to make time to watch the whole documentary, which is a huge surprise to me.

I may not like mean girls, and maybe you don’t either. Writing Rivers off as “just a mean girl” isn’t a whole story; one of the things she did is forced us to see her as a whole, complex person who could not be easily written off or pigeonholed. I wonder what she would have to say about the fact that both writers I found to quote about her are male.

Thanks to Alan Bostick for insisting there was something worth writing about following Rivers’ death.

Women Cartoonists Draw Their Bodies

Laurie and Debbie say:

We were absolutely delighted with this feature by Kristen Radtke at Buzzfeed, in which she asked 23 cartoonists to draw their own bodies, each followed by a short statement from the artist. Radtke obviously made brilliant choices. You have to look at the entire linked page to see the phenomenal variety, both in artistic style and social statement.


“In my early comics, all of my girl characters were super idealized and cute — they looked how I wished I could look.”Megan Kelso

Here’s most of Radtke’s text for her article:

…The comic’s industry was and remains exceedingly male-dominated. From R. Crumb, one of the most celebrated comics artists of all time, and his often violent depiction of women, rendered as grotesque, over-accentuated commodities, to the hypersexualized, bra-breaking breasts and quivering thighs of superhero comics, most female bodies in graphic form are enough to make Barbie look realistic.

So what happens when women draw their own bodies in a medium that has represented them so poorly? While graphic books published by men each year still outnumber those by women, the exclusionary landscape of American comics has been called into question. From blockbuster successes like Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home and Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis, to rising indie artists and vibrant online communities, female cartoonists are producing some of the most exciting work in the genre.


“I’m just trying to draw people in a humane, mostly unsentimental way that reflects the tone of my stories. I find it hard to draw people ‘pretty’ for the most part. I like all the lumps and bumps.”Lauren Weinstein


“It’s challenging to be part of an industry where it’s still a novelty that women are cartoonists… Everyone deserves to see themselves reflected in the media they consume.”Nicole J Georges

We can’t remember when we’ve had a harder time picking a few representative images out of a gallery. Virtually all of the choices are awesome, and awesomely different from each other. They make you want to spend hours exploring the websites and work of the cartoonists whose work you know and the ones whose work you don’t know.

When women are encouraged to draw, comment on, and represent our own bodies, amazing things happen. And when the women whose work is shown are this talented, it’s even better.

Hey, Kristen Radtke! What do you think would happen if you did the same thing with male cartoonists drawing their own bodies?

Post-Labor Day Links

Debbie says:

The whole world is talking about the release of nude celebrity (women)’s photos and everyone has a different take on it. In the Atlantic article at the link, Jessica Valenti spins it (accurately) as violation and discusses it in terms of consent. In California, Representative Jackie Speier moves to the context of revenge porn, and is sponsoring Federal legislation against the practice (eleven states have already adopted anti-revenge-porn legislation). I’ve also seen conversations about the NSA and privacy, and how that linkage is not generally being made.

Really, it all comes down to one thing: our bodies are not appropriately used as entertainment, they are not appropriately used as currency, and they are not appropriately used as vengeance. Until we can develop a culture in which all bodies, and especially women’s bodies, are appropriately used, be very thoughtful about who has custody of your nude photographs, and how you trust the people who have them.


Hijabs, like all covering choices, raise the question of “what’s underneath?” In this three-year-old photo essay, Francisco Guerrero spoke to and photographed several Malaysian Muslim women who wear the hijab some but not all of the time.


Guerrero said:

“What most of these women wanted to express is that wearing the Hijab was mostly their personal choice and this would vary depending on the social context. One of the women explained it by comparing it to wearing one’s ‘Sunday best’ when going to church of more formal family occasions.”


Here’s another years-old essay, this one by renowned historian Tony Judt. Judt died in 2010, not long after it was published. It’s as evocative a description of severe immobility disabilities as you are ever likely to find.

With extraordinary effort I can move my right hand a little and can adduct my left arm some six inches across my chest. My legs, although they will lock when upright long enough to allow a nurse to transfer me from one chair to another, cannot bear my weight and only one of them has any autonomous movement left in it. Thus when legs or arms are set in a given position, there they remain until someone moves them for me. …

During the day I can at least request a scratch, an adjustment, a drink, or simply a gratuitous re-placement of my limbs—since enforced stillness for hours on end is not only physically uncomfortable but psychologically close to intolerable. It is not as though you lose the desire to stretch, to bend, to stand or lie or run or even exercise. But when the urge comes over you there is nothing—nothing—that you can do except seek some tiny substitute or else find a way to suppress the thought and the accompanying muscle memory.

But then comes the night. …

I am then covered, my hands placed outside the blanket to afford me the illusion of mobility but wrapped nonetheless since—like the rest of me—they now suffer from a permanent sensation of cold. I am offered a final scratch on any of a dozen itchy spots from hairline to toe … and there I lie: trussed, myopic, and motionless like a modern-day mummy, alone in my corporeal prison, accompanied for the rest of the night only by my thoughts.


Fashion in the discount stores makes a whole lot of sense … if it comes in your size. Plus-size fashion blogger Chastity Garner Valentine is starting a boycott of Target’s new Altuzarra line:

Dear Target:

For so long, I loved you.  I always went above and beyond in our relationship.  I’ll visit you to get a couple of items and more than a couple hundred dollars later and a cart full of products, I have left giving you way more than I ever planned to. No matter how much I give, you never seem to appreciate me.  All I want is the clothing you offer all your other regular sized customers, but you always leave me out.  With that being said, I have to end this relationship.  It’s you, not me and for my own well-being and my self dignity I have to sever ties between us. 

This may seem a little dramatic, but the recent release of the photos of Altuzarra for Target collection has me feeling slighted. … Literally 50 pieces of beautiful (and I mean beautiful) affordable clothing and none of it will be remotely close to the size that I wear. The collection consists of deeps hues of burgundy, fabulous snakeskin prints, and fall worthy silk-like maxi dresses…enough to make any fashion lover lust.  My heart sinks.  You have once again made me feel like a second-class customer and because of that I’m going to have to discontinue my relationship with you altogether.

You go, Chastity!


Did you know that men’s and women’s bathing suits used to cover just about exactly the same amount of skin?

… the fact that the man in the ad above is covering his chest is evidence that there is a possible world in which men do so. I can see men in bikinis. Likewise, women go topless on some beaches and in some countries and it can’t be any more ridiculous for them to swim in baggy knee-length shorts than it is for men to do so.

My instant reaction to this nasty story was “Well, this will make the news when she commits suicide.” I hope I’m too cynical in this case.

A New Jersey middle school is refusing to allow 13-year-old Rachel Pepe to return to her school unless she dresses and identifies as a boy.

Actually, I hope her family finds a way to get her out of that school and into someplace where she can find some respect. Like yesterday would be good.

I enjoyed this essay by Dave Smeds about the beauty of karate.

As a muse, competition is flawed. It requires a person to measure his or her skill using an external gauge. That has always felt false to me. If I do well in a session of jiyu kumite (freestyle sparring), is it because I was great, or was it because my opponent’s performance sucked? Do I deserve credit in those instances when I just happened to be the player who was bigger, stronger, faster, or younger? If I do poorly, is it because I slipped up and used lousy technique, or was I simply matched up against a stronger, faster, younger opponent against whom I didn’t really have a chance?

If I’d hadn’t found a way to measure my progress that I could believe in, a way that felt real to me, I would’ve quit.

Beauty was what hooked me.


We all know that computers are transformative tools, and here’s an especially dramatic example.

Nobumichi Asai (leading a team of high-tech folks) used projection mapping and real-time face tracking to transform and retransform this model’s face. I think the work is fascinating, and I cannot help but note the named artist/scientist and the un-named model. I hope she was well paid, and that she enjoyed the process.

Sources: Feministing, io9, and Sociological Images, plus assorted other blogs I read.

Sharing The Walls

Laurie says:

I posted here about my work in LGBT: Our Common Wealth, an exhibit currently at the Commonwealth Club Gallery in San Francisco that runs through September 19th. It was curated by Pam Peniston.

I wanted to also post about the work of some of the other artists who shared this beautiful exhibition.  They include Kim Anno, Lenore Chinn, Tina Takemoto, Bren Ahearn, Jeremy Sanders, Indira Allegra, and Preston Gannaway

Tina Takemoto has an impressive small installation from her Looking for Jiro Onuma project

Looking for Jiro Onuma explores the hidden dimensions of queer sexuality during the incarceration of Japanese Americans in World War II. Jiro Onuma immigrated to the U.S. from Japan in the 1920s at age 19, and he was imprisoned in Central Utah during WWII. Jiro worked in the prison mess hall and liked muscular men. He was also an avid collector of homoerotic male physique magazines. This project tries to imagine how Jiro Onuma survived the isolation, boredom, humiliation, and heteronormativity of imprisonment as a dandy gay bachelor from San Francisco.

The Japanese word “gaman” means enduring the unbearable with patience and dignity and the “art of gaman” refers to artworks produced in the prison camps using found materials. Gentleman’s Gaman reengages the craft practices established during incarceration and infuses them with a queer sensibility.


Gentleman’s Gaman: Tarpaper Portrait of Jiro Onuma and Friends


And work from Kim Anno’s stunning Water Cities series

I am interacting with science, performing hydrodynamic experiments in tanks, creeks, rivers, oceans, and various other bodies of water. Sometimes I stage the photographs both as a puppet master and a director, other times I use underwater equipment to record water light, and animal and human phenomena as it interacts with the camera. I use a tapestry of sound elements as a tool of commentary.

Over the past four years I am involved with making multi-media public art works that are collaborations with actors and composers. In the great outdoors, I am working with new digital cinematography and its interaction with sound in strange, abstract as well as familiar ways.

Currently, I am making a work: Men and Women in Water Cities. This work is in progress, and involves actors, and filming people in predicaments underwater. The work is inspired by Robert Longo’s paintings: Men in Cities, but takes off in unexpected directions. The most recent chapter, Water City: Berkeley, is completed as of 2014.



And Lenore Chinn‘s powerful portrait Before The Wedding.

… For the painting of Kim and Ellen, I had actually been toying with the idea that it would be kind of nice to do an image of women. I like the idea of doing an image of two women who had very different personalities, and whose appearance was also very different. They also come from different ethnic cultural backgrounds. Kim is of mixed ethnicity, part Asian, part Native American, and I believe Polish as well. And Ellen comes from a Jewish background. So what I wanted to do was something that incorporated their background and their interests. This is the way I approach all of my paintings of figures, but particularly if I’m doing something that is thematically about a relationship or partnership. I like to see if I can incorporate a variety of these different elements and bring it into a cohesive design… “

“We decided to set the stage for this project in Kim Anno’s studio over in Oakland. We talked about things that might be included as design elements, props if you will, that would fit the bill for what we had in mind. And so in a way it was somewhat of a collaborative effort, even though I was staging the things that we decided to use. I said I would like to have Kim’s artwork in the background, and she had some very interesting works on paper which we could include, and I told her that I also recalled seeing a Chinese screen in her studio, and liked the idea of incorporating that somehow. And then the rest were things that we had thrown together as we were going through their home, before we got to the studio.”

“We spontaneously set things up, moved things around, and tried out different things. We had candles which included a couple of metal candlestick holders æ like little winged angels æ and we thought metaphorically they would be really good to include because they stood for their relationship. We had a lot of texture and light. We had had a fan, but it didn’t work very well, because it blew out the candles! So that’s how that painting came to the surface. – from a video interview Rudy Lemcke


I’m delighted to be in an exhibition in my home city with such fine work.

Cosplay: Widening the Range

Debbie says:

I was struck by this article by Phaedra Cook on All That’s Cosplay.



Not surprisingly, cosplay (“costume play”) tends, like most cultural activities, to be primarily thought of as being for the young and conventionally pretty. Cook did not discover cosplay until she was well over the stereotypical target age for cosplayers:

Cosplay wasn’t a “thing” when I was in my 20s and 30s—at least as far as I knew. For that matter, I was far too busy raising three kids, running my own graphic design and IT businesses and maintaining a marriage to have much in the way of hobbies. The first pop culture convention I ever attended was San Diego Comic-Con in 2009. Talk about starting big! …

The first year, I was in awe of the cosplayers running around in elaborate costumes and, quite frankly, a little jealous. …

The second year, I didn’t want to be left out. I did a half-assed “cosplay” of Death from Sandman which consisted of a black tank top, black jeans and the appropriate squiggle drawn out to the side of my right eye. I thought I looked okay until I saw someone who put some real effort into it and looked 100% better than I did. My ego, at that point, was crushed.

One of the things I personally like about cosplay is the range of costume quality–everything from the kind of “half-assed” costume that Cook describes through very complex, extremely representational efforts can be seen in cosplay venues. Everyone involved (even if their egos are crushed) is getting some kind of pleasure out of the effort.

Again unsurprisingly, how much effort you put into your costume isn’t the major factor in how much attention you get:

 I realized that most professional photographers didn’t have much interest in taking photos of my cosplays, and that hurt. My husband did, of course, and he is an excellent photographer. So did Andreas Schneider, who is absolutely amazing and I was so incredibly flattered when he chose two of my photos for the Cosplayers Canada SDCC magazine that he produces and sells. (Get a copy of the 2014 one for yourself. …)

On the other hand, one photographer half-heartedly snapped off a few shots and made it quite clear that he was only interested in shooting hot chicks. Most other photographers didn’t even look at me twice. I was never even up for consideration. They’re looking for young, thin women and I just don’t qualify.

Cook describes her journey from feeling over-age, inappropriate, and unappreciated to finding out what her efforts are all about:

It stings, but something else happened along the way: I was getting an incredible amount of support and positive feedback from women my own age, as well as many younger people, even those who do not cosplay themselves. …

Why go through all this time and expense at my age? Why not just grow up?

Well, being a grown-up is highly overrated, first of all. Grown ups don’t have enough fun, frankly.

Second, cosplay encourages me to work out and take good care of my skin, nails and teeth. I look good for 46 and many people think I’m in my 30s when we first meet.

Third, despite some of the snubs, cosplay has helped me build my self-confidence. It takes a whole lot of guts to stride confidently down a public street to a convention center in costume. The cat calls and jokes I hear along the way aren’t “fun,” but I’ve learned to handle them with grace.

Fourth, I never feel more vital, energetic and young than when I’m in costume. It’s an act of rebellion. There’s a segment of society that discards older women and thinks they should be relegated to a role of caring for others. If you’re a sexy older woman, you’re denigrated as a “cougar,” like there must be some inherent immorality surrounding it. Cosplay is my way of giving the finger to those people.

She leaves out one reason that I think is very important. She describes in the article that because of cosplay, she has taught herself to design costumes, to sew (” who knew that sewing an inset ‘V’ was a geometry exercise?”), to work with unfamiliar materials. In a time when so few of us work with our hands, and make actual physical things, this is a huge advantage to any hobby that calls for these skills.

Readers of Body Impolitic may be frustrated with Cook’s body image issues — I know I am. Despite her efforts to appreciate herself as she is, she still feels unhappy about her weight, and is already planning more “age-appropriate” costumes when she is over 50. I would rather see her celebrating her size, and plannign her 60+ Catwoman, or Princess Mononoke. At the same time, I see in her article the trajectory toward even more self-acceptance. And I love how she’s getting there.

It’s not just older women who need to get the message of being vital and caring for themselves. I want younger women to know that there should be no fear about getting older. Whether or not you feel confident and sexy has everything to do with how you take care of yourself and whether you assert your right to be the person you want to be.

Thanks to Geek Feminism for the pointer.

#iftheygunnedmedown: What We See and What We Believe

Laurie and Debbie say:

In the wake of the shooting of Michael Brown, a young black man named Tyler Atkins posted these two pictures on Twitter:


He used the hashtag #iftheygunnedmedown, which is now a 25-page Tumblr and shows up in well over 150,000 tweets.

First, we have to honor the pure political power of these photographs … and all the young people killed by police whose tragic deaths have generated this power.

What does this project tell us?

“One picture is worth a thousand words” is a cliche so basic that we hardly even hear it when we say it. In fact, if you ask most people, they’ll tell you that in these days of Photoshop, pictures aren’t real, and can’t be trusted.


But still, we react to what we see, and we especially react to what we see first. The first image we see of someone in a story (tragic story or otherwise) will create the story. We are primates; this is probably hard-wired into the connection between our eyes and our brains. Thus, the media’s habit of choosing a specific photograph to repeat and repeat with a particular story is a method of controlling not just our reactions, but the story itself.

In the case of Michael Brown, we are supposed to see the stereotypical “he was a black thug” photograph, which carries the message, “So it was okay for the cops to shoot him.” (Of course, that’s vicious racism; we’re just saying what message is being conveyed.) In a few cases, the family gets a clean-cut shot into the media before they get their hands on a “thug shot,” and that changes the story. “Saintly victim” stories work the same way: images of thin blonde girls with blood on their faces send just as clear a message as images of tough black youths.


In #iftheygunnedmedown, African-American young people, starting with Tyler Atkins, are taking control of their own images. This kind of response is important and rare and, like the app recording police encounters (also created by African-American youth), it has some potential to change the story, especially when (like this hashtag) it shows up as a front page story in the New York Times. When the victims and targets take control and expose the mainstream culture’s lies for us, something important can shift in us.

#iftheygunnedmedown comments on human complexity. No one is just a saxophonist or just a street kid, just a college graduate or just a club dancer. No one — no one — is just a black thug.

Links Re-Appear Without Warning

Debbie says:

Singer Meghan Trainor has a song called “All About that Bass” which is catchy, and sends a strong message:

Chloe at Feministing loves it and deconstructs it:

loving yourself because dudes like what you’ve got going on is a pretty flimsy form of self-acceptance. In fact, it’s not really self-acceptance at all if it depends on other people thinking you’re hot. Most of us want to be attractive in the eyes of the people we find attractive — I sure as hell do — and I don’t want to downplay how great that can feel. But the point of loving yourself no matter what is that you love yourself no matter what boys, or anyone else, thinks about your booty. And there’s certainly something to be said for reiterating the idea that there are some men who prefer curvy women, especially when the vision of female beauty we see in popular media is almost uniformly slender, white, able-bodied, and so incredibly specific that a tiny percentage of the population can ever live up to it.

Chloe goes on to say “it’s like it’s scientifically impossible to write a song about how great it is to have curves that doesn’t insult people who don’t.” Laurie and I struggled with this so much when we were working on Women En Large: Images of Fat Nudes. We learned that there are ways to talk about one kind of beauty without dissing another, but it’s hard work, because people are so ready to hear that building up one thing is automatically dissing another. I feel confident that it can be done in song lyrics, short and punchy as they are. Meghan Trainor, are you up to the task?


Every feminist blog I read linked to this one, and no wonder …

As one YouTube commenter points out, a disproportionate number of the men in the video are men of color, which (to say the least) I think was a bad decision. Nonetheless, the point is well taken, as long as you remember that telling women to smile is by no means limited to men of color.


Sesali Bowen at Feministing talks about a little-examined aspect of female sexuality:

so much of what we (Americans) think about sex is caught in limited, male-dominated, and frankly, fictional perceptions of how our bodies should work (because… porn). Our incompetent approach to sex education has done nothing to address one of the most widespread misconceptions, and consequences have been dire. But today I am willing to go where few feminists have gone in examining this important and widely-felt issue through a critical feminist lens. Today I am going to share the truth about lube! …

the notion that vaginas should always be wet is another way of suggesting that women’s bodies should be constantly available and ready for sexual consumption, specifically penetration. Because out here in the wild west, sex just happens. 

More importantly, because of this myth that a normal vagina always gets wet on cue, lube has really gotten a bad reputation. Pushed to fringes of our sexual consciousness, so many people view these amazing concoctions as only necessary when having anal sex or doing something especially adventurous, like double penetration or nuru body slides. This simply isn’t true! Lube is great for so many reasons. It adds another sensation that can enhance pleasure, even if you are already wet. It also improves the function of condoms, especially latex ones which can dry out the wettest of vajayjays. It can also provide taste, heating, cooling, and tingling sensations that all work to make sex more pleasurable. And better sex = more relevant feminism. This very scientific formula is the reason why using lube makes you a better feminist.

And she goes on to share excellent technical information about kinds of lube, how to use it, and more.


I’m seeing a lot of centenary posts about World War I, but here’s something I didn’t know. World War I marks the shift (in the United States) from corsets to bras. Melissa Pandika at NPR has the story

since corset frames were mostly made of metal, which was needed for ammunition and other military supplies, the U.S. War Industries Board asked American women in 1917 to stop buying them. Around the same time, the modern-day bra emerged, freeing up wartime steel and women alike. …

the War Industries Board’s corset ban, which freed women to work at physically demanding factory jobs — and 28,000 pounds of steel, enough to build two battleships. By the time the war ended in 1918, corsets were fading fast.

Pandika’s article also includes the history of the bra, which (in its modern form) was invented and later marketed by Caresse Crosby in 1914.


Speaking of bras, or at least of removing them, Jay Livingston  is musing about topless sunbathing (with graphs, because it’s Sociological Images):

Americans are much more likely to feel uncomfortable at a topless beach. But they are also much less likely to have been to one. (Northern Europeans – those from the Scandinavian countries and Germany – are even more likely than the French to have gone topless.) (Data are from a 2013 Harris survey done for Expedia.) …

{There is an]other way of thinking about the relation between fashion and ideas: exposing your body changes how you think about bodies.  If people take off their clothes, they’ll become more comfortable with nudity. That is, whatever a woman’s original motivation, once she did try going topless, she would develop ideas that made sense of the experiences, especially since the body already carries such a heavy symbolism. She would not have to invent these topless-is-OK ideas all by herself. They would be available in the conversations of others. So unless her experiences were negative, these new ideas would add to and reinforce the thoughts that led to the original behavior.

Livingston makes some interesting connections here, based on some 2009 and current very similar articles about the end of topless sunbathing in France.


And finally, photographer Cameron Drake’s anatomical x-ray gifs, for the beauty inside bodies …


Sources: Feministing, io9, and Sociological Images, plus assorted other blogs I read.

Beth Gwinn: Dream Project

Laurie says:

My friend Beth Gwinn has spent her professional life taking superb photographs of writers and performers. Now she has a portrait book project, and she’s doing a kickstarter.


Science Fiction and Fantasy writer Neil Gaiman

I’m Beth Gwinn and I have been a professional photographer since 1980.  My life has been a unique photographic journey, passion directing where my lens pointed. Photography, music, and Science Fiction/Fantasy have been my principal Interests.  In 2000 I published a book called “DARK DREAMERS” about influential people in the Horror genre, which consisted of exclusive large-format photos taken by yours truly and original interviews by Stanley Wiater.  Now my dream is to produce a similar book, about significant people in the area of the Fantastic- authors, artists, producers, directors and others.

Publishing has changed quite a bit since 2000.  That is why I am launching a kickstarter.  I have spoken to three publishers about this project, but publishers today, although interested, none is able to afford the funding needed to get it off the ground. That is why I am launching a kickstarter.


Science fiction writer Fred Pohl

……This is a dream project for me.  Literally years in the making.  Ever since I first read comics and Fantasy stories I have had a deep love for the richness of the field’s visions, for its imaginative depth.  I see Science Fiction as Dreaming of the Future; we dream,we move into the future, and dream again.  My goal is to raise $35,000 to fund the travel needed to take new photographs, and to assemble and edit any originals from my files, and pay the writer who will conduct the interviews with today’s visionaries of the fantastic.  Contributions of all sizes will make a difference.  Please help me to dream this dream



MacArthur award winning science fiction writer Octavia Butler


Science fiction writer Pat Cadigan


Beth will make a stunning book.

#NMOS2014 : Vigils For Michael Brown

Laurie says:

Michael Brown, 18, a recent high-school graduate who was to begin college today, was found guilty of one crime this past weekend: walking while Black.


Ezell Ford was beaten and shot by police in South LA Monday night.

I was 13 when Emmet Till was beaten and shot to death. He was 14. I was 15 when I went to my first anti-racism demonstration.

In 2012 I was at a vigil for Trayvon Martin’s murder and a TV reporter asked me what I thought. I said I was 72, I’d been doing social justice work for much of my life, and this was the tragedy that never changes. I was angry then and now I am so angry I can hardly write.

Kirsten West Savali says all of this far better then I can (all quotes are from her):

Sometimes at night, when my three sons are asleep, I run my fingers through their soft curls, and touch their warm skin. Then I recoil as the horrific vision of bullets piercing their innocent bodies invades my thoughts. I picture them screaming, “Mommy!” and not being there to save them. So I hold them tighter and attempt to quell the paralyzing fear that comes with knowing that they will be viewed as potential threats to be neutralized before they are viewed as human beings to be respected. I trace their faces and wish that I can always hold their hands when they cross the street and that they can stay forever within the cocoon of my embrace.

But I cannot. They cannot.

And one day, I will have to tell them that we brought them into a world that they were never meant to survive.

From #NMOS2014: “In reaction to the brutal killings of Michael Brown, John Crawford, Eric Garner, Dontre Hamilton and several other innocent Men and Women, we will hold a vigil honoring and remembering the fallen victims of police brutality. Join us in the National Moment of Silence to show support for the victims’ families.

I’ll be at the vigil for tomorrow at Civic Center at 4 in San Francisco. Check for #NMOS2014 location in your city.

In her 2010 poem, “My Son Runs In Riots,” Christy Namee Eriksen wrote of a boy who:

met men with gray hearts and silver badges
and he has
bullets in his back,
he has
bullets in his front,
he has 56 baton blows, six kicks in his ribs and
when you watch the video
it’s tough to tell whose son it is

Thanks to Chupoo for pointing at Kristen’s post.

A Transgender Woman Fights Back: Julia Serano’s Open Letter to the New Yorker

Debbie says:

This blog has long been a fan of Julia Serano, author of Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity, and Excluded: Making Feminist and Queer Movements More Inclusive.


Laurie and I were both especially impressed with Serano’s “Open Letter to the New Yorker,” written in response to Michelle Goldberg’s article, “What Is a Woman? The Dispute between Radical Feminism and Transgenderism,” and published in The Advocate (but not, apparently, in the New Yorker). Goldberg approached Serano while she was writing the article, and Serano is–well, unhappy is a mild term–for how her responses to Goldberg were included.

Serano starts by dissecting the premise:

I have found that mainstream publications seem to enjoy portraying these debates under a false transgender-people-versus-radical-feminists dichotomy. (“Hey, two groups of gender-freaks just so happen to hate one another — let’s publish that!”) In reality, many transgender activists are also feminists, and TERFs* tend to be antagonistic toward many other feminists and gender/sexual minorities, including sex-positive feminists, femme/feminine people, bisexuals, and other non-lesbian-identified queer people, and sex workers, just to name a few. Really, a more accurate framework for the article would be “the dispute between radical feminists and the vast majority of feminists and LGBTQ activists who disagree with them,” but that isn’t so sexy and probably wouldn’t generate quite as many page views.

*Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminists

Serano then gets into Goldberg’s initial (and final) position in the article:

Goldberg also expressed her concern about TERFs being silenced by trans folks (e.g., their events being protested or boycotted, or venues pulling out after trans people and allies complained). I explained to her that, while I believe that TERFs should be free to assemble and hold their own events if they wish, some of these situations are far more complicated than that. For instance, if an explicitly LGBTQ organization (which sports a “T” for transgender in its acronym) holds an event, wouldn’t it be somewhat hypocritical for it to host performers who tacitly support or outright advocate for trans woman-exclusion policies? Or if a college has a policy protecting students and staff from discrimination based on gender identity, and Sheila Jeffreys comes by to give a talk about her new book in which she describes trans men as “women” and trans women as “men,” and insists that the latter group are merely sexually deviant men who are trying to take over feminism (we’ll get to that in a moment), well then, there is a serious conflict of interest here!

If I say I am fat (or old or disabled or …), and you look at me and say, “You’re not fat (or old, or disabled, or …)!” you are overriding my sense of myself and my lived identity with whatever your personal definition of “fat” (or your personal aversion to the word) might be. Serano is making the very same point about gender.

And then it gets personal …

When The New Yorker fact checker contacted me to verify the parts of the article that involved me, it became clear that several passages from my book Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity in which I discussed certain aspects of my sexual history were going to be included in Goldberg’s article. I got the impression that they were intended to show “my side” of the story in relation to Jeffreys depicting me as an “autogynephile.” Being naturally horrified by the possibility of having my sexual history litigated within the pages of a national magazine, I sent another email to Goldberg expressing my concerns about the inclusion of this material (I have subsequently made this and another related email publicly available here), and she told me that those passages had subsequently been removed from the final piece.

Last Monday the article came out. And I was rather dismayed to see its final form. While (thankfully) Goldberg was truthful when she said that the passages of my sexual history would be removed, she hadn’t mentioned that the article was going to include Jeffreys’s and Blanchard’s views about “autogynephilia” without any mention that the theory has been scientifically disproven. And if that weren’t bad enough, Goldberg casually mentions that Jeffreys (who is depicted as a sympathetic, if eccentric, character in the article) considers me to be an “autogynephile” without mentioning any of my arguments against the theory and Jeffreys’s hypocritical appropriation of it.

(See the link to Serano’s whole letter for a long discussion of “autogynephilia” and why it is, to be overly kind, not a reasonable descriptor of anyone.)

And then it gets even more real:

Oh, and one last thing: In the last week since you published Goldberg’s article, a teenager was stabbed in Washington D.C., because of the fact that she is transgender. Also, in the last six weeks, two trans women of color have been found brutally murdered in Baltimore, and some suspect it may be the work of a serial killer who is targeting trans women. So here’s an idea: Why don’t you publish articles about these more serious matters rather than faux journalism pieces about trans activists purportedly “oppressing” radical feminists? Oh yeah, I almost forgot: You wouldn’t get nearly as many page views…

If you haven’t read Goldberg’s article, don’t. But if you haven’t read Serano, either this essay (there’s lots more, and it’s all good!) or her books, you have a treat in store.

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