Thanks to reader Carole for sending this in:
…said knock you out.
…told me not to come.
…said there’d be days like this.
Last year, in anticipation of Mother’s Day (in the US), we talked about our relationships with our moms, in all their messy, loving glory. This year, we’d like to hear from you about the some of the best advice your mom–or gram, or auntie, or maternal role model of your choice–gave you.
It can be general or specific, heavy or fluffy, funny or serious. It can even be advice that wasn’t given to you as “advice,” but as “how it’s done,” which is how it worked in my house.
Mamas say a lot of things. For this week’s FFT, give us some of their best.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has issued a revision to its policy statement Ritual Genital Cutting of Female Minors. Almost everything I’ve read about this so far implies that the AAP is promoting female genital cutting (FGC): the custom of ritual cutting and alteration of the genitalia of female children that persists primarily in Africa and among certain communities in the Middle East and Asia.
Initially, I was horrified, and I still am. FGC is surgical misogyny. So I read the original policy statement issued in 1998, and the May 1 update. The AAP states that it opposes “all forms of FGC that pose risks of physical or psychological harm” to children. I don’t think it’s cool to mess with people’s bodies without their consent even when it’s not physically or psychologically threatening. But physicians in some communities are obviously struggling to deal with parents’ requests to perform FGC.
In the United States, federal legislation prohibits FGC and mandates educational programs for physicians about the harmful consequences of the practice. The AAP is advocating for a change in law that would enable pediatricians to offer a ritual “nick” as a compromise when they are asked to perform more extreme procedures. The document presents strong arguments for and against that approach. Here are some key excerpts from the policy statements:
When parents request a ritual genital procedure for their daughter, they believe that it will promote their daughter’s integration into their culture, protect her virginity, and, thereby, guarantee her desirability as a marriage partner. In some societies, failure to ensure a daughter’s marriageable status can realistically be seen as failure to ensure her survival.
The physical burdens and potential psychological harms associated with FGC violate the principle of nonmaleficence (a commitment to avoid doing harm) and disrupt the accepted norms inherent in the patient-physician relationship, such as trust and the promotion of good health. More recently, FGC has been characterized as a practice that violates the right of infants and children to good health and well-being, part of a universal standard of basic human rights.
Protection of the physical and mental health of girls should be the overriding concern of the health care community. Although physicians should understand that most parents who request FGC do so out of good motives, physicians must decline to perform procedures that cause unnecessary pain or that pose dangers to their patients’ well-being.
I’m up to my painfully-throbbing sinuses in final papers right now, but a friend forwarded this report from The Chronicle of Higher Education about the gendered nature of student incivility towards their instructors.
When it comes to being rude, disrespectful, or abusive to their professors, students appear most likely to take aim at women, the young, and the inexperienced.
Bullies bully those they perceive to be “weak”? Check. Women, even those with stellar credentials, are regarded as less authoritative than men? Check. Granted, the results were self-reported, and there was no breakdown regarding of the race of teachers or students, the type of school (SLAC, land-grant college, Ivy league, etc.), or discipline.
I’ve been fairly fortunate where I teach; the students are eager to get good grades (and sometimes actually learn), and they’ve had the sort of privileged upbringings that means they mostly channel their aggression into pissing and moaning outside of class.
But I have, this year, dealt with crap I thought only happened in the first third of those “inspirational” movies about idealistic white teachers in minority, inner-city classrooms.
Today I read an op-ed in the New York Times that made me so angry it took me a good couple hours to calm down after reading it. I’m still fuming. In the piece, entitled “Tearing Away the Veil” (no violent or rape-y overtones there!), the leader of the French National Assembly, Jean-François Copé, tries to argue why the impending ban on the burqa and niqab is not only necessary, but a good thing for France and democracy. In doing so, however, he manages to uphold every single negative stereotype about French politics and culture. His essay is absolutely breathtaking in its snobbery, xenophobia, chauvinism, privilege, and unabashed hateration.
The ban would apply to the full-body veil known as the burqa or niqab. This is not an article of clothing — it is a mask, a mask worn at all times, making identification or participation in economic and social life virtually impossible.
Except that women wearing the niqab and the burqa participate fully in economic and social life every single day, in France and elsewhere. It in no way prevents them from interacting with people or going about their business…unless someone is discriminating against them.
This face covering poses a serious safety problem at a time when security cameras play an important role in the protection of public order. An armed robbery recently committed in the Paris suburbs by criminals dressed in burqas provided an unfortunate confirmation of this fact. As a mayor, I cannot guarantee the protection of the residents for whom I am responsible if masked people are allowed to run about.
Masked people! Allowed to run about! WON’T SOMEONE THINK OF THE CHILDREN????
I am just out of things to say lately, about the world or anything else. And my parents are visiting, and we’re all tired and run down around here. So! A roundup of cool YouTube videos I’ve had linked for awhile!
Nuala Cabral – Walking Home – a great piece on street harassment, highly recommended.
Areas of Tennessee experienced a major national disaster recently; did you know? Homes are under water, highways and streets are impassable, 28 people have died and missing people are unaccounted for, Nashville landmarks have flooded and there is a water conservation emergency. Preliminary damage estimates are in the hundreds of millions of dollars, if not billions. President Obama declared four counties a federal disaster area Tuesday. The Tennessean has extensive coverage of the flood but you’ll have to search below the fold for coverage on just about every other major news site. Granted, a Pakistani-American man failed to detonate a bomb in Times Square over the weekend, so the media must devote nearly all of its time and energy to covering that story.
Oh beloved commonwealth of my birth…you seemed to be on the right track. I was so happy when you went to Obama in 2008. But Jesus H. Christ at a barbecue, look what’s happened since. You sent a bunch of Jesus-freak Republican assweasels to Richmond and now Gawker snarks that “Virginia is really becoming a strong competitor for the America’s Nuttiest State contest.”
Let’s start with Governor Bob McDonnell, whose Master’s thesis—earned at age 34 from a mediocre holy-roller university—decried working women and feminists as “detrimental” to society and asserted that government policy should favor married couples over “cohabitators, homosexuals or fornicators.” Also, Bob thinks slavery was no big deal.
Bob’s flying monkey is Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, who recently went out of his way to inform Virginia’s colleges that despite their current stated policy of non-discrimination, they could screw over gay employees and it would be a-okay with the AG’s office. The letter was so gratuitiously homophobic that even my conservative, old-school alma mater responded with a respectful but unambiguous FUCK YOU. Oh, and Cuccinelli’s a Birther.
And now, having blown off gay rights, civil rights and women’s rights, Cuccinelli’s addressing a serious concern: a bare breast on the Virginia state seal and flag. The allegorical figure of Virtue, having just slain Tyranny, is letting her toga dip a little low.
Now, I grew up looking at this state flag. The Seal is on my birth certificate. But until this week, I thought Virtue was a man, since she looks pretty androgynous and the breast in question could easily be mistaken for a big Neo-Classical pec muscle. And SRSLY, who notices this shit?
Now, my building has a live-in super who we can call on in emergencies, but this was actually so gross that I was embarrassed to go knock on his door (Y’all know I’m not easily embarrassed, so you can imagine just how gross it had to be for me to feel that way.) Instead, I borrowed a plunger from my neighbors and went to work myself.
And I fixed it. The toilet works again. Cue the Hallelujah Chorus.
I mopped the floors, then washed them and the commode with disinfectant, then washed them again, then threw out the rags I’d used. If I could have steam-sterilized the whole bathroom, I would have. Then I went for a run while everything dried and tried to forget the whole ordeal.
Have you ever had to tackle something unexpectedly gross/scary/hard and been proud of how well you coped? Please share in the comments.
Dr. Dorothy Height’s memorial service was held yesterday at Washington National Cathedral. Everyone from President Obama to the newspapers to the news anchors mentioned that in addition to her remarkable and courageous life of service, Dr. Height was a lady who knew how to dress. The Washington Post‘s Robin Givhan paid tribute to the message behind Dr. Height’s stylish hats and jewel-toned suits. (Article here, fabulous slide show here)
In matters of appearance, Givhan wrote, there are a host of ways in which one can flash both self-confidence and self-respect.
How we express that confidence and demand for respect depends on who we are. We might put on a power suit, or a pair of Doc Maartens. We might choose to wear hijab…or not. We might prefer something symbolic of our national origins, like a sari or kente cloth. Big hair? Natural hair? Earrings? Hats? Tattoos? It’s all about how we present ourselves, unapologetically, to the world.
As a child, I loved dresses. I had lots of them in lots of colors, many sewn by my mother and grandmother. I loved strutting around in those dresses. I gave them up for a while, though. I can count on one hand the number of times I wore a dress during my four years in college; it was the mid-90s and jeans ‘n’ flannel ruled. But now when I want to make a statement, I’m back to dresses, and not basic black—I wear colors that let people know I have arrived. I especially love wearing a bright, chic dress when everyone else is a man in a suit. Those dresses make me feel like I’m projecting my confidence—and my unapologetic female-ness—to the whole room.
What’s your favorite statement-wear? What conveys your fabulousity when you want the world to pay its respects?
Stephanie Grace, a third year student at Harvard Law School, sent an email to a few (?) students in an effort to clarify remarks she made about race during a dinner conversation. The content therein is racist and sexist. She says she does not rule out the possibility that “African Americans are, on average, genetically predisposed to be less intelligent.” Less intelligent than what, I am not sure. However! She also states that she could “be convinced that by controlling for the right variables, we would see that they are, in fact, as intelligent as white people (the standard by which all intelligence is judged – Ed.) under the same circumstances. The fact is, some things are genetic.”
Things go downhill from there. She claims that “prenatal levels of testosterone” are to blame for women’s inferiority in mathematics. She also categorizes this as a “genetic,” so perhaps testosterone levels contribute to women’s inferiority in biology as well.
That email eventually made its way to several Black Law Students Associations (BLSAs) and now, the Internet at large. Despite Above The Law‘s efforts to keep her anonymous, Grace’s name got out, and people are angry! Some are angry about the content of Grace’s email, but many are angry that Grace’s “privacy” was not respected – that she is being “victimized.” Just browse Above The Law for a little while (if you can stomach it) to see where America’s future attorneys stand.
This post is not about Stephanie Grace specifically, because Stephanie Graces are a dime a dozen. This one just felt comfortable enough to put her pseudo-intellectual bigotry into an easily-transmittable format. The defenses of Stephanie Grace are more interesting than the woman herself.
By now, you’ve undoubtedly heard of Arizona’s racist new immigration law. President Obama has asked the Justice Department to analyze the constitutionality of the law, and some legal challenges have already been filed and others will undoubtedly follow.
Here’s the best copy of the final bill I’ve been able to find. Broken down into very basic terms, what it says is the following:
1. For any “lawful contact” made by a police officer,
2. Where “reasonable suspicion” exists that the person is an undocumented immigrant,
3. A “determination” must be made as to that person’s immigration status,
4. Except if such determination will “hinder an investigation,”
5. And the police officer may not “solely consider race, color or national origin” in making that determination.
I set this out in this brutally formalistic and almost benign way to point out that this is one of those instances where the law has been drafted to survive a constitutional challenge, using buzzwords from case law to reassure judges that everything is safely within the four corners of the Constitution. For example, “lawful contact” is legal code for the fact that in order to stop people under this law the police will have to justify it independently, i.e. that they were investigating a crime or a complaint of some kind. This is to protect the law from a Fourth Amendment search-and-seizure challenge. The same goes for “reasonable suspicion.”
(Of course, Arizona has simultaneously made it a state crime to not carry your documents with you, so that handily takes care of the whole, “they can’t just stop you in the street on suspicion of being illegal” bullshit some proponents of this bill are parroting. In other words, you can simply be apprehended on the “reasonable suspicion” that you are not carrying your documents with you, and then that provides the predicate to “determine” your immigration status.)