Links: Saturday, March 15th

March 15, 2014 Links 3

An animated gif of a grey and brown tiger cat curled up and napping.Had a rough week? Here’s a cat napping.

  • Unlikable Heroines – Erin Satie writes about the oft discussed “unlikable heroine” and wonders what we mean, exactly, when we use the terms likable or unlikable.

    When I dislike the protagonist, I do not care. And, before too long, I do not want to read.

    But that doesn’t mean the protagonist has to be a good person. ‘Likability’ has no strict connection to any virtue or vice, any personality trait. Pull a random assortment of qualities from a grab-bag and whatever the result is, a character possessing them all could be likable. By the same token, assemble all the most sterling qualities and breathe them into being, and the resulting paragon could be very difficult to like.

  • Black Face. Blue Eyes: A Black girl’s obsession with blue eyes – Freelance writer Erickka Sy Savané wrote a great story about growing up and wrestling with identity and self-esteem.

    By junior high, the power of the right eye exploded into my brain when Vanessa Williams became the first black Miss America. There was no denying that it had everything to do with those eyes. Think about it, wasn’t it the only thing that separated her and runner up Suzette Charles? Both were beautiful African American women, but one had those eyes and the other one didn’t. The way I saw it, all I needed were eyes like that to blast off into the stratosphere and become the first black something.

    So I got creative. Everyday I would come home from school and dedicate an hour to willing them into existence. I did this by burying my head into a pillow, squeezing my eyes tighter than Simon Cowell’s ass, then declaring over and over again that by the time I opened them they would be BLUE! Needless to say, it didn’t happen.

  • The Black Press During the Civil War – I enjoyed this quick history feature in the NYT and how it reinforces that African-Americans weren’t sitting around passively awaiting emancipation. They were actively agitating for it.

    Some voices in the black press, like The Christian Recorder, questioned the logic of black soldiers’ risking their liberty (captured black soldiers could be enslaved) or their lives for a country whose Supreme Court had held that black people, whether enslaved or free, were not citizens.

    The Anglo-African, though, actively promoted the use of black troops in an editorial titled “The Reserve Guard” that August:

    “Colored men whose fingers tingle to pull the trigger, or clutch the knife aimed at the slaveholders in arms, will not have to wait much longer. Whether the fools attack Washington and succeed or whether they attempt Maryland and fail, there is equal need for calling out the nation’s ‘Reserve Guard.’”

  • The institutional sexism of NHL Ice Girls – Melissa Geschwind takes on NHL teams’ practice of using scantily clad “Ice Girls” to shoot t-shirt cannons or shovel snow off the ice and how it alienates female fans. At least NBA and NFL cheerleaders are talented dancers who, you know, dance. Ice Girls are eye candy only. (Yeah, it’s hockey again. I work here and I’ll do what I want.)

    Some teams have fully-clothed people (sometimes men and women, sometimes just men) clearing the ice. No teams have half-dressed men shoveling the ice, nor would anyone expect them to. Why should they? There are plenty of places for gay men and straight women to go for that kind of thing, and a hockey game just isn’t one of those places.

    But it is a place to go if you want to see scantily-clad women, because EVERYWHERE is a place to go if you want to see scantily-clad women. It’s so pervasive that the people it appeals to can no longer recognize when it’s inappropriate, or even just out of place.

  • ‘What I Wore When Sexually Assaulted’: Women of Twitter Report – @Steenfox hosted a Twitter discussion the other night about what people were wearing when they were sexually assaulted. The Root shares some of their answers while preserving their privacy.

    Twitter user @Steenfox—real name Christine Fox—was still reeling Wednesday evening from an earlier online debate with a follower who insisted that women’s revealing attire could be a contributing factor to sexual assault.

    “I was trying to make him understand that it absolutely does not make a difference, and that the responsibility does not lie on women,” she told The Root.

    So when a report of a grandmother’s assault came across her timeline, she used it as a reminder of the absurdity of blaming women’s clothes or conduct for their attacks.

  • Twitter, Rape, and Privacy on Social Media – Buzzfeed also covered the “what were you wearing” discussion, and the backlash has been furious. There’s been questions about how or if the listicle writer got consent and if discussing something on Twitter should mean Buzzfeed can post your content and make money off of it. I think the moral of the story is easy: just because you can, it doesn’t mean you should.

    No journalist wants to get self-righteous about a listicle, and most journalists are aware of the moral implications of any conversation about who gets to tell whose story. I think that’s why many are grasping at a black-and-white (but almost comically obsolete) distinction between “public” and “private” in BuzzFeed’s defense (backlash phase two). Being a “public figure” whose life was recorded and transmitted to others used to be the tax on having a certain amount of power. If having a public Twitter account now qualifies you, as they suggest, we’re counting a lot of people just trying to talk to their friends and maybe make some new ones. For journalists, these people require an ethical axis beyond public-private — one that acknowledges the high personal stakes these conversations involve for their participants and not, say, Hamilton Nolan, who wrote the Gawker post flippantly dismissing the entire debate. That Gawker would sooner make the vacuously provocative claim that these people are using Twitter wrong than listen to them explain how they’d like Twitter to be used is a sad echo of the argument that got us here in the first place: Those women were asking for it with their attention-seeking behavior.

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An ice hockey fan from north of Boston and the genre's most beloved troll, Ridley enjoys reading contemporary and historical romance, as well as the odd erotica novel. As someone who uses a wheelchair, she takes a particular interest in disability themes.

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3 Responses to “Links: Saturday, March 15th”

  1. Amara

    Always fascinating links! This time, I’m particularly interested in those last two. I didn’t catch the original tweet stream as it happened and wish I had, horrifying as it must have been.

    So much to think about…

  2. Tina

    I watched the ‘what you were wearing’ thing happen on twitter almost in real time, and it really was gut-punching visceral stuff. The media response in the aftermath was very frustrating. Not so much the ones who actually did reach out to the originator of the thread (The Root, for instance) but the ones who had the nerve to take umbrage that she was upset with the way the story played out.

    Not only did Buzzfeed not get her permission to use to her name or image, but when she rightfully voiced her dismay (again on twitter), some took to their blogs and upbraided her for her anger. She very astutely observed that they were painting her as an ‘Angry black woman’ and were missing the point entirely. As she said, it isn’t about credit, it is about ethics.