I haven’t done one of these in a long while, but I’ve read some great stuff this week.
The Hunting of Billie Holiday
Read this piece! It describes the beginning of the (failed) war on drugs and looks at the racism and misogyny that fuelled much of it and the bizarre and tragic targeting of Billie Holiday that got it started. [CN: Racism, sexualized violence, drug use.]
One day, Harry Anslinger was told that there were also white women, just as famous as Billie, who had drug problems—but he responded to them rather differently. He called Judy Garland, another heroin addict, in to see him. They had a friendly chat, in which he advised her to take longer vacations between pictures, and he wrote to her studio, assuring them she didn’t have a drug problem at all. When he discovered that a Washington society hostess he knew—“a beautiful, gracious lady,” he noted—had an illegal drug addiction, he explained he couldn’t possibly arrest her because “it would destroy… the unblemished reputation of one of the nation’s most honored families.” He helped her to wean herself off her addiction slowly, without the law becoming involved.
Thank You Margaret Wente for Exposing Rape Culture
This is both a great response to Margaret Wente (yet again) being a patriarchy-enforcing asshole, but also gives a really clear breakdown of what rape culture actually entails and how Dalhousie’s failure to adequately respond to the dental students’ disgusting comments (and privileging of the safety of the perpetrators of sexually violent comments rather than the victims) is yet one more way that rape culture is systemically entrenched. [CN: rape culture.]
Yet as Wente sees it, the systemic problem to be addressed isn’t entrenched male sexism. It’s entrenched female sexism, specifically, overly sensitive young women “monsterizing” men: “We’ve turned our brave and fearless daughters into neurotic, quivering piles of jelly,” she writes, the upshot being “an entire class of highly privileged, mostly affluent young women who feel unsafe on campus, micro-aggressed at every turn, utterly unable to cope with the garden-variety misdemeanours of boys and men, who have been behaving badly since time began, despite our many efforts (most quite successful) to civilize them.” Let’s leave aside the fact that branding a generation as “neurotic, quivering piles of jelly” suggests a lack of familiarity with today’s teenage and young adult women. Or that ridiculing women for feeling unsafe on campus ignores the actual risks that exist. The fact is that this generation is not “utterly unable” to put up with vile, women-hating crap: It’s that they are utterly unwilling to do so.
Yes Means Yes–Meet The Predators
This is a piece I go back to again and again and again. Firstly, it accords with what my experience in the anti-violence movement tells me. Secondly, it not only identifies who is primarily doing the perpetrating but it gives men step-by-step instructions on what their role is in ending rape culture. [CN: The piece deals with how rapists operate.]
Change the culture. We are not going to pull six or ten or twelve million men out of the U.S. population over any short period, so if we are going to put a dent in the prevalence of rape, we need to change the environment that the rapist operates in. Choose not to be part of a rape-supportive environment. Rape jokes are not jokes. Woman-hating jokes are not jokes. These guys are telling you what they think. When you laugh along to get their approval, you give them yours. You tell them that the social license to operate is in force; that you’ll go along with the pact to turn your eyes away from the evidence; to make excuses for them; to assume it’s a mistake, of the first time, or a confusing situation. You’re telling them that they’re at low risk.
To end on a brighter note, here is my new favourite tofu scramble recipe. I’ve made a lot of tofu scrambles (and eaten even more) and this one is my favourite. It’s really simple, creamy, mild, and has the best attributes of scrambled eggs without actually tasting like eggs. It’s everything I want out of a tofu scramble and/or a weekend brunch.