I’m very excited to be starting a 2-month guest blog series, entitled Revenge of the Feminerd, at Bitch Magazine blogs on feminism and nerd culture. You can find my first post here.
Monica at TransGriot reminds us that the idea that trans people using bathrooms makes them less safe for others is B.S. – The people who are most at risk of being attacked in washrooms are trans people.
A Brooklyn maternity shop owner who made news for offering a discount to lesbian moms is now receiving threats (via Towleroad).
Guestpost #53: Jarrah Hodge – Ten things I’ve learned from Twitter
Twitter is not just about people telling you that they’re shopping for socks or eating a ham sandwich. If you’re only tweeting about the mundane activities of your life that have no relation to your followers, you’re doing it wrong. Twitter is about carrying on conversations, not announcing your schedule.
However, if the socks or ham sandwiches are particularly notable, it’s fine to tweet about it! Were you shopping when you came across hand-dyed, locally-crafted toe socks? If you have a lot of crafty, environmentally-conscious, sock-obsessed followers, they might appreciate the tip. I post pictures of crafts I make and people often ask how they can do the craft at home.
Synonyms for “tweet” like “chirp” are NOT acceptable. I went to a Vancouver-area “tweetup” and the guy next to me posted the following message on Twitter: “Chirping away at #YVRtwestival”. The immediate reaction of the people reading the back channel on the projected screens around the room was collective shock and a desire to shun the person who dared use the word “chirp”.
Keith Olbermann (formerly of Countdown on MSNBC) is a jerk. He blocked me and a bunch of other feminist twitter-users for saying he should correct some factual errors made by Michael Moore in a guest interview. This was five months ago and I’m still blocked from following him. Not that I’d want to anyway, because he’s a jerk.
Anyone can be an opinion leader, at least for a brief period of time. If what you’re saying has value to your followers, you can find your message spread far and wide to people you’ve never had contact with before.
Try not to post stupid things online rather than trying to keep the stuff you’re posting private. Privacy is a myth in social networking, especially on Twitter. Sure, if you protect your tweets they don’t show up on Google, but your followers can still see them. Unless you trust ALL your followers to keep your tweets to themselves, you can’t expect they won’t get out. So think before you post that insult about your supervisor or that embarrassing photo of you from a friend’s drunken party.
If you want to see the stats of clicks on a bit.ly URL, just add the “+” sign to the end of the URL in your address bar. This is the coolest thing in the entire world. I am not exaggerating.
Everything is made better when put in Hulk-speak. And it’s the only time you can get away with using all caps. Consider the following from @FeministHulk: “HULK SMASH HEGEMONY! HULK SMASH OPPRESSION! HULK SMASH TILL HULK GET DIZZY AND FALL DOWN! HULK HEART SMASH SO HARD.”
You never get over that warm fuzzy feeling you get the first time someone like Wil Wheaton re-tweets you.
People care that you’re transparent about your motives and honest about who you are. This is true in the world outside of Twitter, too.
Last night I was fortunate to attend a screening of Liz Canner’s feature-length documentary Orgasm Inc. followed by a Q&A with the director at the SFU Medicalization of Sex conference.
Canner started work on Orgasm Inc. when she was offered a job with the pharmaceutical company Vivus, editing erotic videos to be used in clinical trials of a new cream designed to treat what they called “Female Sexual Dysfunction”. She gained permission to film some of her work and interview Vivus employees for a film she was developing on pleasure.
Over and over she saw experts in the media claiming that 43% of American women suffer from some kind of sexual dysfunction. However, when she started asking questions about why “Female Sexual Dysfunction” seemed to have arisen only recently as a term, she found more and more evidence that the “disease” was mainly a creation of pharmaceutical companies designed to convince women that normal changes in sex drive and sexual feelings are pathological and need to be treated with medication. It turned out the 43% figure came from a drug company-funded study that included women who simply had simply had a period of experiencing pain during intercourse. And a lot of the medical experts hyping FSD as a disease were also receiving pharmaceutical company sponsorship.
In the introduction she gave at the screening, Canner stated she began to realize that pharmaceutical companies, “are not just in the business of developing drugs; they’re also in the business of developing diseases.” As her film notes, women’s bodies and sex drives have been a prime target for medicalization, from early fears about “hysteria” to the more recent labelling of “Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder”.
In the Q&A after the film, Canner talked about how messed up it is that our culture promotes things like vaginal rejuvenation surgeries and drugs for FSD and that on average, girls start looking at porn at age 11, when meanwhile we don’t have comprehensive sex education. She talked about how many of the women who are told they have FSD are told to ignore other contributing factors like normal aging, relationship dissatisfaction, past abuse, and use of anti-depressants and oral contraceptives. Not to mention that some women still don’t realize that most women can’t have orgasms through intercourse alone but need direct clitoral stimulation.
Canner does see the marketing as a type of anti-feminist backlash, but she points out: “In a way I think this is a continuation of the neo-liberal agenda. Free markets don’t care about what gender you are.” But women’s body insecurity makes them a prime target for this kind of medicalization.
Canner’s film is a must-see: alternately hysterically funny, moving, and inspiring. Some key memorable moments are her interviews with drug company representatives who all but admit they’re more interested in marketing a product than researching its long-term effects on women’s health or whether there’s a need for it in the first place, an interview with a nurse who underwent “vaginal rejuvenation surgery” only to suffer complications that almost killed her (the surgery also didn’t have the desired result), and another interview with an older woman who agreed to have a cable implanted in her spinal cord to send electrical signals that were supposed to give her an orgasm. I won’t give the whole thing away but let’s just say the results were dubious.
So if you get a chance to see Orgasm Inc., take it. you can find screening information on their website at orgasminc.org and you can also find them on Facebook and Twitter.
PopJolly has a neat infographic with facts and stats on masturbation, in case you’re curious about whether kangaroos do it or want to know how many people have bought the “fleshlight” (no nudity or sketchy language but still probably a little NSFW).
I came across this ad (left) in a Sociological Images post by Lisa Wade that looked at how the Blue Buffalo Trading Company has subtly gendered its advertisements by colour-coding all its dog-related images blue and all it’s cat-related images pink.
It struck a chord with me because I’d been channel-surfing the week before and come across a sitcom in which a male character was being teased for getting a cat, under the assumption that single men owning cats is an indicator of effeminacy or homosexuality.
I’d written it off as just absurd at the time but the Sociological Images post made me wonder whether there was actually a larger stereotype out there that dogs are pets for men and cats are pets for women.
Talking to some friends and looking into it further I’d argue that view does exist. Certainly the way we describe cats and dogs tends to be gender-bound. In the Blue Buffalo ad, all the dogs on the site are referred to by male pronouns while cats are treated as female.
So maybe the whole idea that there are cat people (vain, demanding, intuitive) and dog people (high-energy, affectionate, but maybe not all that smart) is just another way to ask whether people are more masculine or feminine. Maybe it’s just a way of reinforcing a gender binary. Anyone who’s owned dogs or cats know that there are animals with many different personalities. I’ve definitely known some high-maintenance dogs and some pretty relaxed cats.
That said, it seems to me that there’s more of a stigma around men owning cats than women owning dogs, although if you have any examples of women being teased for being masculine for owning dogs, I’d be really interested to hear them, so please comment below.
Lisa Wade speculates that the reason we stigmatize people who own cats (men and “cat ladies”) is because in our society masculinity=cool, and therefore it’s seen as more cool to own a dog than a cat. She points to an ad campaign targeted at men to try to convince them that “it’s okay to be a cat guy” (i.e. owning a cat doesn’t threaten your masculinity).
The ad is cute, but the campaign still implies that it might not be cool to be a cat guy if it stopped you from riding your motorbike or showing how tough you are.
What do you think? Have you seen examples of the idea that cats=feminine and that therefore straight, single men shouldn’t own them?