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Reflections on Respectability

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New York Daily News

Trigger Warning: Discussions of violence

Whitepeople believed that whatever the manners, under every dark skin was a jungle. Swift unnavigable waters, swinging screaming baboons, sleeping snakes, red gums ready for their sweet white blood. In a way, he thought, they were right. The more coloredpeople spent their strength trying to convince them how gentle they were, how clever and loving, how human, the more they used themselves up to persuade whites of something Negroes believed could not be questioned, the deeper and more tangled the jungle grew inside.But it wasn’t the jungle blacks brought with them to this place from the other (livable) place. It was the jungle whitefolks planted in them. And it grew. It spread. In, through and after life, it spread, until it invaded the whites who had made it. Touched them every one. Changed and altered them. Made them bloody, silly, worse than even they wanted to be, so scared were they of the jungle they had made. The screaming baboon lived under their own white skin; the red gums were their own.

Toni Morrison, Beloved

We hold these truths to be self evident,

That Black and Brown people in America,

No matter our country of origin,

Are under surveillance by the police state,

Under attack by white supremacy, homophobia, and misogynoir,

And suffer under the threat of annihilation everyday.

Respectability hasn’t saved us.

You can get killed holding a sandwich,

Walking home from the corner store, for

Playing your music “too loud,” or even while

Looking for help after crashing your car.

You can see your children swept away in the storm,

You can be gunned down in aisle of a big box store.

Respectability can’t save us.

You can be assaulted at a traffic stop,

Be attacked while walking home with your friends,

Get shot 41 times for reaching for your wallet,

Or be left to an ignoble death after second-rate health care.

It doesn’t matter if you are heading to college

Or headed to the corner to slang rock

Our pursuit of Life, Liberty, and Happiness is a pipe Dream.

Respectability won’t save us.

Don’t think just showing your ID,

Speaking the King’s English,

Letting go of saggy pants and gold fronts,

Is enough to stem the tide of all our spilled blood,

Is enough to prove that our lives matter.

Respectability was never meant to save us.

Only we can stem the tide

By showing up for one another,

Showing out for another,

Loving on ourselves and each other,

Marching, agitating, organizing, and supporting each other.

We’ve always been here her and

We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.

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#GamerGate: a Primer by Sly

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Hope LGM frequenter, Sly doesn’t mind being a front-pager tonight. I just want everyone to see his great summation of GamerGate:

Here’s a basic but somewhat detailed summation:

      • Most people who have been on-line long enough get to know about the various self-identifications that form the loose confederation of Organized On-Line Misogyny: Your Red Pillers, your Slymepitters, your MRAs, your Incels, your PUAs, your MGTOWers, etc. Though they differ in the details of their reason for being women-haters, they are unified to the extent that they (a) hate women and (b) use the Internet to talk to and organize with other women-haters. Feminists know them well. Veterans of the Skeptic-Misogyny conflicts got to learn over the past few years how they can’t stand women who have the temerity to bring their lady-brains into what they, the misogynists, assume to be de facto male spaces.

        Anyway, #GamerGate is essentially a repeat of what happened within the Skeptic/New Atheism movement. A subculture that was predominantly male and thus saturated with all the notions of masculinity that men are socialized to accept as natural, whether they are unhealthy or not, is becoming less predominantly male. The men who cling to those notions of masculinity, especially the toxic varieties, see that they are losing cultural capital among their peers. They feel marginalized, and those within the confederation of On-Line Misogynists find a new fora for their overtly toxic anti-feminism. Reactionary movement ensues to “take back” the subculture from the people who are ruining it. Many bystanders who have no idea whats going on get swept up as cannon fodder in a conflict they know nothing about and useful idiots for a ideology that they’d otherwise reject.

        It is in this context that Zoe Quinn’s ex-boyfriend posted his missive in which he alleged that Quinn traded sex for good press. The misogynists seized upon it, pointing out yet another instance of how women ruin everything. Doxxing/Harrassment/Threats ensued. When the allegation turned out to be bunk, the Doxxing/Harrassment/Threats had to be justified somehow, so more doxxing was done to find something to rationalize the initial breech. Quinn doxxed another charity (also false). Quinn slept with her boss for a promotion (also false). Quinn made up the doxxing/harassment/threats (plainly false). The conspiracy theories were rampant, and the campaign took on a new title when actor and wingnut jerkoff Adam Baldwin was the first to tweet one of the original conspiracy videos under the hashtag “GamerGate.”

        Various attempts were made to shield the harassers and conspiracy mongers from allegations of sexism, like organized donations to the charity that Quinn didn’t dox, the manufacturing of a “chillgirl” gamer mascot who, like, totally doesn’t need feminism because it’s not like it was 100 years ago – GAWD WHY DONT YOU JUST LET ME PLAY GAMES, setting up sockpuppet twitter accounts claiming to be women and minorities using the hashtag #NotYourShield, etc. All of this was deliberately organized as a means of public relations.

        Those of us who saw how utterly stupid and noxious this was started voicing our disgust. Leigh Alexander, a writer and Editor-At-Large for Gamasutra, published an article titled “‘Gamers’ don’t have to be your audience. ‘Gamers’ are over” in which she said that the changing face and mentality of the gamer identity is a welcome thing, because people who believe that they have a license to exclude others from the identity by any means necessary – up to and including waging campaigns of harassment – are a bunch of rabid jackals in the midst of a death rattle. Other on-line publications put out similar articles. This is ultimately what blew everything up, because if there’s one thing that reactionaries cannot stand is when you stop criticizing what they love and start criticizing them directly. They forgot about Zoe Quinn (GamerGaters now refer to her as “Literally Who #1,” or “LitWhoW1,” while Sarkeesian is “LitWho2″), and switched their harassment campaign to those critical on-line publications.

        Otherwise neutral parties were swept up into the “movement” as its Useful Idiots, misunderstanding the “‘Gamers’ are Over” message as an assault on anyone who plays videogames. These people likely now constitute a majority of GamerGaters, and is why so many GamerGaters claim they don’t support doxxing and harassment. To be fair they’re being honest, but they exist solely as a shield for the misogynists to voice and act upon their misogyny.

        And so, at the present moment, GamerGate, as a collective identity, is composed of two groups preoccupied with the following causes:

        Group #1: Scouring any tint of cultural leftism from gaming.

        Group #2: Disavowing Group #1.

        Group #1 survives by trading complicated conspiracy theories done up as 30-minute YouTube vidoes or 120000×80000 pixel MS-Paint images, linking articles from anti-feminist writers at Forbes and Breitbart to one another, and totally crushing on anti-feminist women like Christina Hoff Sommers (because, as everyone knows, you can’t be a misogynist if you’re a woman or agree with a woman who spouts anti-feminist gibberish). That, and trading cartoon kiddie porn and creepshots on 8chan.

        Group #2 survives by shouting “NOT ALL GAMERS ARE LIKE THAT!” without realizing that no one is talking to them.

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1 day ago
...And everyone dismisses group 2 out of hand, thus pissing them off and pushing them further down the path toward group 1, without providing actual resources of support for the victims of abuse by group 1.

So the same thing as usual.
Boston, MA
1 day ago
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1 public comment
1 day ago
Not accurate. At all.
1 day ago
Form all I have seen on 8chan, Twitter etc. it is. People claiming to only care about free speech right next to antisemitic, racist and mysoginist statements.

More Information Proving That the BMI is Useless

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Governor Schwarzenegger, everyone's favorite example of an obese man

You know I like to call it “useless trash,” but…. I’m being polite. From the NYT:

More recent studies have indicated that many people with B.M.I. levels at the low end of normal are less healthy than those now considered overweight. And some people who are overly fat according to their B.M.I. are just as healthy as those considered to be of normal weight, as discussed in a new book, “The Obesity Paradox,” by Dr. Carl J. Lavie, a cardiologist in New Orleans, and Kristin Loberg.

Unlike readings on a scale, B.M.I. is based on a person’s weight in relation to his height. It is calculated by dividing weight in kilograms by height in meters squared (or, for those not metric-savvy, weight in pounds divided by height in inches squared and the result multiplied by 703).

According to current criteria, those with a B.M.I. below 18.5 are underweight; those between 18.5 and 24.9 are normal; those between 25 to 29.9 are overweight; and those 30 and higher are obese. The obese are further divided into three grades: Grade 1, in which B.M.I. is 30 to 34.9; Grade 2, 35 to 39.9; Grade 3, 40 and higher.

Before you contemplate a crash diet because your B.M.I. classifies you as overweight, consider what the index really represents and what is now known about its relationship to health and longevity.

The index was devised in the 1830s from measurements in men by a Belgian statistician interested in human growth. More than a century later, it was adopted by insurers and some researchers studying the distribution of obesity in the general population. Though never meant to be an individual assessment, only a way to talk about weight in large populations, B.M.I. gradually was adopted as an easy and inexpensive way for doctors to assess weight in their patients.

At best, though, B.M.I. is a crude measure that “actually misses more than half of people with excess body fat,” Geoffrey Kabat, an epidemiologist at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, has noted. Someone with a “normal” B.M.I. can still be overly fat internally and prone to obesity-related ills.

Remember that conversation we had about “normal weight obesity?” I get the feeling that this is what that phrase was trying to convey – a person who has a “normal” or “underweight” reading on the BMI, but a high body fat percentage. In other words, a high presence of fat, a little presence of muscle.

Calling B.M.I. an imperfect predictor of a person’s health risks, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cautions doctors against using it as a diagnostic tool.

…which is funny, considering how they still use it. I digress.

Governor Schwarzenegger, everyone's favorite example of an obese man

Governor Schwarzenegger, everyone’s favorite example of an obese man

The article goes on to explain things I’ve already told you… er, I mean, reasons why the BMI is inefficient as a marker of body awareness:

For one thing, body weight is made up of muscle, bone and water, as well as body fat. B.M.I. alone is at best an imprecise measure of how fat a person may be. When Arnold Schwarzenegger was Mr. Universe, his B.M.I. was well in the obese range, yet he was hardly fat.

Another problem: the distribution of excess body fat makes a big difference to health. Those with lots of abdominal fat, which is metabolically active, are prone to developing insulin resistance, elevated blood lipids, high blood pressure, diabetes, premature cardiovascular disease, and an increased risk of erectile dysfunction and Alzheimer’s disease.

But fat carried in the hips, buttocks or thighs is relatively inert; while it may be cosmetically undesirable, it is not linked to chronic disease or early death.

While I could’ve done without the “cosmetically undesirable” bit, I think this is an important point. The context of the body mass is far more important than the sheer amount of mass itself, and understanding that is the first step to realizing that the scale doesn’t have as much value as we’ve been led to believe when it comes to health. When it comes down to it, a lot of what most of us need – muscle – will cause many of us to actually gain weight, but experience improved qualities of life.

I think most doctors are ‘concerned’ that, if we get rid of the BMI as a legitimate metric, we’ll have nothing to replace it with. I don’t think that’s entirely accurate, either. We can easily replace the BMI with calipers and body fat percentage scales as a more accurate provider of physical context. Sure, doctors might have to learn a little more about the body that simply plotting you on a chart, but it’d be for the best for everyone.

There’s one more quote I want to share before I go on my little rant:

On average, women have a higher percentage of body fat in relation to total weight than do men, but this does not necessarily raise their health risks. And African-Americans, who tend have heavier bones and weigh more than Caucasians, face a lower risk to health even with a B.M.I. in the overweight range.

I’ve never seen this quantified – in research, anything, anywhere – and considering the vast array of combinations that “black” comes in as far as what contributes to genetic makeup, I’m starting to grow skeptical of any research that mentions race without specific genetic data. With all due respect, self-reporting (no matter if it’s of your food intake or your race) doesn’t cut it in scientific data.

That being said, the article goes on to tell you more things I’ve already told you, and some things I’m going to tell you again. Most people don’t set out on weight loss journeys to hit a certain number – they set out to look a certain way, and then think a certain number is going to get them there. People often say, “I need to lose [insert body part] fat,” and then presume that losing 15lbs will make the difference, so they subtract 15lbs from whatever they currently weigh. Rarely is it that easy.

What oftentimes happens is people rush to do tons of cardio, wind up losing what little muscle they may have, and find not only their body fat percentage going up but the metabolism going down much faster than it would if they were merely losing fat. Furthermore, it prevents our thinner friends from getting adequate health and fitness information for themselves, because the assumption is that they don’t need it – they’re thin, so whatever they’re doing must be okay.

What it all basically amounts to is… we’re worse off for focusing on the damn scale than we otherwise might’ve been. Yay.

I don’t blog this stuff as a way of saying “Hey, you shouldn’t care what you weigh! Go splurge on a cheesecake! YOLO!” I write about it because – while, yes, I believe you should be able to choose freely what you do with your body, but I also believe that if you choose to change your body, then you should do so with information that is as accurate as possible. Relying on a metric that wasn’t even built for the ways we use it, for example, isn’t ideal.

The post More Information Proving That the BMI is Useless appeared first on A Black Girl's Guide To Weight Loss.

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3 days ago
...but for real, weight lifting.
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Re-stating our support for the victim/survivor in the Dana McCallum case

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[Content warning: rape]

Back in April, we published a statement of support for the victim in the Dana McCallum rape case. In the letter — written by Liz Henry and co-signed by Leigh Honeywell, Valerie Aurora, Brenda Wallace, Tim Chevalier (me), Annalee Flower Horne, and Beth Flanagan — we stated our empathy and support for the victim/survivor — who is McCallum’s wife (they are in the process of divorcing) — in this case as well as for her family.

This month, McCallum accepted a guilty plea for two misdemeanors in this case: one count of domestic violence with corporal injury to the spouse and one count of false imprisonment. McCallum will serve probation, community service, and will have to undergo counseling. We already included this link in a linkspam, but given our previous statement of support for McCallum’s victim, I want to reiterate that support.

As Liz wrote in our statement of support back in April, “Rape is a horrible violent crime no matter who the rapist is.” McCallum’s wife read a statement that says, in part:

I must say that it deeply saddens me that as a victim, my only public support has been from hate groups. I expected more from the LGBT and feminist community. It’s a shame that they can’t do the emotional work it requires to process that someone they love is capable of such an awful crime. That is their burden to carry, though.

In April, we also expressed disappointment in the transmisogynistic response to McCallum’s crime. As geek feminists, we believed then, and do now, that we can and must accept that someone in our community is capable of the crime of rape. Hard as it may be to accept, self-identified feminists can sustain rape culture — up to and including actually committing rape — too. We also believe that at the same time, we must resist the narrative that would use this crime to de-gender or misgender McCallum and, by extension, trans women. Rape can be committed by anyone, regardless of their assigned sex at birth or their self-affirmed sex or gender. Structural power dynamics and rape culture mean it’s far more likely to be committed by cis men than by people in any other group, but that is a fact that needs to inform anti-rape organizing — it does not make rapes committed by specific non-cis, non-male people less damaging.

McCallum’s wife also said that she still loves McCallum and wants “forgiveness” to prevail. The Revolution Starts at Home (PDF link) is recommended reading for anyone curious about what that might look like.

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vintagegal: Gordon Parks - Black Muslim Protest 1963 (via)

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Gordon Parks - Black Muslim Protest, 1963 (via)

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frankensteinfanclub: Anyone that uses your grasp of the English language as an indicator of your...

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Anyone that uses your grasp of the English language as an indicator of your intelligence is probably a racist

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