Links: Friday, August 29th

August 29, 2014 Links 23

A view of a dimly lit tunnel crudely cut from light colored stone.

Home owner discovers ancient underground city beneath his house in Anatolia

Today’s Links:

  • ‘Dear Prudence’ Just Gave the Most Offensive Advice Imaginable to a Bisexual Woman – This week in biphobia features the generally-awful Emily Yoffe stuffing a woman back into the closet and locking it shut.

    In an earnest letter, “Irrelevant Closet” notes her husband’s hesitation about the idea of coming out, but truly believes that her friends and family would embrace her sexual orientation. But Prudence believes remaining in the closet is the only way to go, perpetuating stereotypes of bisexual people as threatening, indecisive mates in the process.

    “You are confusing your personal sexual exploration with a social imperative,” she wrote. “But you say you are planning to not only stay with your husband, but remain monogamous. I agree with your husband that making a public announcement about something so private will not be illuminating but discomfiting.”

  • Lifetime Promises To Bring Out The ‘Strong Black Woman’ In White Women – Everyone involved in designing and greenlighting this show needs to be put in a rocket and shot into the heart of the sun.

    Lifetime’s new show Girlfriend Intervention is not subtle about its message. Its premise is four black women giving a makeover to a white woman on the theory that, as they put it, “Trapped inside of every white girl is a strong black woman ready to bust out.”

    The four makeover makers are Tracy Balan on beauty, Nikki Chu on “home and sanctuary,” Tiffiny Dixon on fashion, and many-many-many-time reality star Tanisha Thomas (most notably of Oxygen’s Bad Girls Club) as your — this is real — “soul coach.” Thomas lays out her philosophy early in the first episode, saying that black women are taught that no matter what else is going on in your life, “as long as you look fabulous, that’s all that matters.” On the other hand, she says, “with Caucasian women, you get married, you marry the man of your dreams, you have his children, and now it’s time to stop taking care of you? Girl, I missed that memo.”

  • Empowering Makeover for Maynard Handicapped Spaces – No one involved in this “empowering” re-do of the handicap symbol is a wheelchair user. I happen to more closely resemble the figure in the older symbol and resent the implication from a bunch of non-disabled do-gooders that I lack agency or dignity because of it. Non-disabled people taking it upon themselves to decide what we need is the opposite of empowerment.

    Maynard’s municipal parking spaces—all 15 of them—got a refresh this month: A new graphic icon.

    Gone is the standard International Symbol of Access, which portrays a passive, immobile person in a wheelchair. In its place, there’s the icon created by the Malden-based Accessible Icon Project, which depicts a more active and empowered person in the wheelchair.

    The makeover was spearheaded by 18-year-old Maynard resident Kayla O’Mahony, who suggested it to the town’s Board of Selectmen on May 7.

    “I want to help shift society’s perspectives on people with disabilities, and I figured an old, outdated icon that people look at every day was a good place to start,” O’Mahony said in a statement.

  • Quick Thoughts On NFL’s New Domestic Violence Policy – Jessica W. Luther breaks down yesterday’s letter from the NFL’s commissioner on the league’s new approach to domestic violence perpetrated by players.

    My quick thoughts:

    1. Everyone should read the entire letter before forming opinions about it.
    2. Good job, public and sports media who got really angry that Ray Rice only got a two-game suspension for beating his fiancee unconscious. The outcry following that punishment is most definitely the ONLY reason this letter exists today.
    3. 5 of those 6 policies are proactive. This is important. The 6th part – the punishment part – will get a lot of play and sports media will focus on it. But the first 5 policies are all about preventing violence before it happens, both internally within teams and externally within communities. Punishment will not deter this violence but rooting it out before it happens, that could.
    4. All the stuff about being proactive in an attempt to prevent violence (which is the bulk of the letter), FEMINISTS DID THAT. The NFL was listening to somebody when they wrote that letter and it wasn’t just DUDEZ.
  • Building 3D with Ikea – Apparently the Ikea catalogue uses CG to create images of individual furniture pieces as well as entire rooms. What a time to be alive.

    Every year, CGSociety goes to SIGGRAPH, one of the premier conferences on innovation for the computer graphics and VFX industries in the world. In 2012, we watched as Martin Enthed, the IT Manager for the in-house communication agency of IKEA, gave a short presentation. He told us how their visualisation team had evolved from the use of traditional photography for the IKEA catalogue to a system today, where the bulk of its imagery is CG. I remember leaving the auditorium (which was packed) thinking, “Those natural-looking photographs in the IKEA catalogues are amazing. I can’t believe they’re mostly CG. It’s incredible.” It was such a great presentation that we went and saw it again in 2013 when it was an official talk, and figured you guys might like to know how IKEA did it – what they had to build and innovate to get their still images to look so real. So we made a time to catch up with Martin, and asked him how and why IKEA decided to make the leap from traditional to digital.

  • We Must Risk Delight After a Summer Full of Monsters – Molly Crabapple has an important piece on finding and clinging to whatever joy you can as the world crumbles around you.

    We need beauty. But what right did I have, I kept asking myself, in a world so full of hell?

    In his poem, “A Brief for the Defense,” Jack Gilbert attempted an answer. “We must risk delight,” he wrote. Life contains everything. Tear gas in Ferguson. Books read on the grass. Foley’s murder. Dancing in New Orleans, till sunrise blots the stars. We’re meat—fragile and finite. But joy is survival.

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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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23 Responses to “Links: Friday, August 29th”

  1. Meoskop

    The undeground city link is amazing – living somewhere underground anything is impossible, it’s really otherworldly to contemplate.

  2. cleo

    I second Meoskop – the underground city images are amazing – especially the drawing of the 11 level underground city. Wow.

    I only read Dear Prudence when she writes something link worthy and usually dumb. I read about her bad bi advice on AutoStraddle the other day and I’m still kind of seething about it – I should have known better than to glance at the comments on Dear Prudence. As a bi woman married to a man, and a deeply private person, I’ve struggled with this myself the last few years.

    My advice to this woman would be to come out as she feels comfortable, to get support from other bi people (depending on where she lives, she may be able to find a bi meet up or discussion group, and there are groups on line), and especially to encourage her husband to become more educated about being bi. My husband was always accepting of my identity, but he admits now that he really didn’t realize how important it is to me at first. Many conversations, articles and queer friends later, I think he understands where I’m coming from better.

  3. Roslyn Holcomb

    The Dear Prudence thing is confusing. If she’s so confident friends and family would be ok with it, why would she wait until now to come out? I dunno, the timing just seems odd. I mean, assuming she dated prior to marriage wouldn’t people have noticed that she dated both men and women? Odd.

    Not sure what the hell is going on at Lifetime. Their efforts at “diversity” are laughable at best. I can’t believe this is actually going to be aired.

  4. cleo

    @Roslyn Holcomb – I think the point of the Dear Prudence letter is that the LW didn’t come out earlier or date women because she didn’t realize she was bi before she married. Which happens.

    I actually see both sides here – I get why she wants to share this important thing about her identity that she’s just figured out and I get why her husband’s a little freaked out. (I hope she keeps talking with him about why she wants to do it and really listens to his concerns).

  5. Roslyn Holcomb

    See, that makes me wonder what her point is even more. I just imagine what my reaction would be if my husband made such a discovery. What would be the point of such an announcement unless he did indeed plan to act on it? I understand one’s sexuality being part of their identity, but if it hasn’t been up to this point, why now? I dunno, it seems to me that it would mean renegotiating the terms of the marriage, much like if someone decided to become more religious or something along those lines. They’re basically changing who they are, and that might or might not be okay.

  6. Ridley

    @Roslyn Holcomb: This line “I understand one’s sexuality being part of their identity, but if it hasn’t been up to this point, why now?” is biphobic. Identity doesn’t depend on sexual practice. You can easily be bisexual, identify as such, and only have different-sex relationships (after all, it’s a lot easier to find a mate from the much larger pool of people into the opposite sex).

    I honestly don’t see why a partner mentioning their bisexuality would be threatening. If your partner’s attraction to the opposite sex doesn’t leave you worrying that they’ll “act on it,” why is same sex attraction any different?

  7. Heidi Belleau

    @Roslyn Holcomb:

    If I may, as a bi woman?

    If she’s so confident friends and family would be ok with it, why would she wait until now to come out? I dunno, the timing just seems odd. I mean, assuming she dated prior to marriage wouldn’t people have noticed that she dated both men and women? Odd.

    Personally I waited to come out (for a second time) until after I was married because so many people told me I couldn’t be bisexual that for a time I forced myself to believe them. Like, who cared that I felt deep romantic and emotional attraction to women? Who cared that I fantasized about them sexually? Who cared that I crushed on female celebrities? All that mattered was who I’d actually brought into my bed. Bisexual people face an attitude that we can’t be bisexual unless we keep a perfect 50/50 ratio for our entire sexual/dating history. We internalize that. We convince ourselves our bisexuality isn’t real or it doesn’t matter . . . until one day some of us wake up and realize that actually, yes it does. It matters to us, it’s real to us, and why the heck are we letting other people dictate our own sense of self? Even if I’m not currently sleeping with a woman or even planning on it, I’m still bisexual. It’s a part of me. A part of me other people often try to suppress or deny, which makes it all the more important for me to state it. Even to my husband. (Who doesn’t feel threatened by it at all, actually. If anything, he’s delighted, and it’s enriched our sexlife together!)

    They’re basically changing who they are, and that might or might not be okay.

    Which is why it’s all the more important to tell people. When you “pass” or are “invisible”, you spend a great deal of your time wondering about people “would he still respect me if he knew?” “would she still be my friend?” “would I still have my job?” and yes, “would my husband still love and trust me to be faithful?” Passing for straight does provide us with a measure of physical safety and security, but it takes its toll on us emotionally and spiritually. Sometimes we tell people just so we can know once and for all. Maybe that means we break up with someone who can’t trust us or respect us–which is for the best for everyone. Maybe that means our partner learns to know us–and to love us–fully and wholly. We don’t have to wonder anymore. We don’t have to keep this secret just on the off chance. Our relationship and our sense of self is at peace.

    Being closeted hurts and coming out matters. Even for bisexual people.

  8. Roslyn Holcomb

    I don’t think my comment is biphobic at all. I specifically stated that if someone’s bisexual identity hasn’t been a part of who they are up to this point, why would it need to be now? That’s not about sexual acts, that’s specifically about identity. If my husband’s identity were to change, I think that’s grounds for us to reconsider what our marriage is about, let alone the need to announce it to family and friends. Especially given that this is something that is a fairly recent discovery. I didn’t say the announcement would be threatening, I questioned what would be the point. If they have no intention of changing their behavior within a monogamous relationship, why would they feel the need to make this announcement to family and friends. What’s going to change and what difference does it make?

  9. Roslyn Holcomb

    But Heidi, she’s already come out to her husband, and he apparently had no problem with it. He only questioned her need to announce it to others. Obviously, it’s crucial to share such information with your intimate partner. I’m just puzzled as to why that would also apply to those outside your relationship. IMO, if I’m in a monogamous marriage the only person who would be interested in who or what I’m attracted to would be my partner.

    And, I’m not sure that in this particular instance this would qualify as passing. After all, this is something she only recently realized about herself. It’s not like she knew she was bisexual and chose to conceal it, or hide it from others. Not disclosing everything about yourself is not passing. It’s not like someone asked if she were bisexual and she denied it. That, IMO, would be passing. No one is entitled to know everything about anyone else.

  10. Ridley

    @Roslyn Holcomb: “What’s going to change and what difference does it make?”

    The person remains bisexual either way. Why not mention it and live openly? Why hide it?

  11. Roslyn Holcomb

    I’m not saying they should hide it. I’m questioning the need for an announcement. This might be a generational or even a cultural issue, but I’ve always had a problem with the “Oprahization” of our culture. Everything that goes on in my life isn’t everyone’s business. I don’t think she should lie about it, and I certainly wouldn’t encourage that, but some type of “coming out of the closet” thing just seems weird to me, especially given the circumstances of their relationship. Is there some type of bisexual community she would now want to join? What exactly is it that she’s seeking that is any different than who she was before?

    I would be opposed to my husband doing such a thing simply because his sexuality is nobody’s business but his and mine.

  12. Heidi Belleau

    @Roslyn Holcomb:

    I’m bisexual all the time, not just when I’m in a relationship. It’s a part of who I am, my community, my way of looking at and experiencing the world. The question of “but would that person still like me?” still applies, and yes, it can negatively impact your relationships with people. I’ve had friends who didn’t know and I felt like I couldn’t get close to them on the off chance they wouldn’t approve of this part of me. Coming out solves that. The constant question is answered and you can move on with your life.

    Similarly, straight people can say some incredibly toxic things when they don’t know someone LGBT is listening. Coming out can help prevent that. Make at least SOME people consider what jokes they tell or what issues they choose to pontificate on when I’m standing right there.

    And yes, as someone who lives it daily, I ask you to trust my lived experience when I say it is “passing”. Not disclosing in our society doesn’t equal “she could be any sexuality”, it means “she is straight”. This is an effect of heteronormativity. The default is straight and we are assumed straight until we purposefully and often repeatedly and vehemently announce otherwise. Ergo, when we don’t state our sexuality in one way or another, we are “passing” as straight.

    No one is entitled to know everything about anyone else, this is true. We all have the right to be assumed straight and some of us even depend on it for our safety and security.

    But on the same token, we ARE entitled to share ourselves with others as we deem necessary and healthy–so long as we don’t do it in a way that violates other peoples’ boundaries. For example: I could tell anyone I am bisexual, but it would be inappropriate for me to do so in the context of making unwanted/uninvited sexual comments about them.

  13. Heidi Belleau

    @Roslyn Holcomb:

    I would be opposed to my husband doing such a thing simply because his sexuality is nobody’s business but his and mine.

    You are mistaking sexual identity and sexual preferences when you say things like this. Identity is so much more, and it goes beyond the bedroom and beyond your current relationship. The fact that I like X position is nobody’s business but my husband’s and my own, but my identity as a bisexual woman matters to me outside of that context and I have the right to announce myself and identify myself.

    Similarly, you’re mixing up the right to keep a secret with the right of another person to dictate what secrets you keep.

    1. I’m bi and I don’t want to tell anyone because it would effect my career.
    2. I’m bi and my husband doesn’t want me to tell anyone because I’m his wife and he thinks I shouldn’t be allowed to share that part of myself because he said so.

    Are two VERY different scenarios. One is a person taking charge of their own identity and persona and reputation. The other is a person having that choice taken from them by a third party, which is NOT okay. To me, it would be like my husband telling me not to tell anyone I am a feminist. That’s not for him to decide.

  14. Roslyn Holcomb

    I understand that you are bisexual all the time, not just when you are in a relationship, Heidi. Presumably, that’s the case with pretty much everybody regardless of their sexuality. However, in this particular case this woman is in a marriage, thus, her actions don’t just impact herself, they impact her husband too. She didn’t know she was bisexual prior to the marriage, and I gather she didn’t belong to any particular community, or have bisexuality as part of her identity. That’s why I asked if she was looking to join a community or seeking something else that would cause her to want to make this announcement. I think at a bare minimum she should spend some time reflecting on her motivation for this announcement.

  15. Roslyn Holcomb

    I understand the difference between sexual identity and sexual preferences. Sexual identity is not predicated on sexual behavior whereas preferences are. IMO, neither is anyone else’s business unless I choose to make them so. And yes, as a sentient human being, you have the right to tell any and everyone anything about yourself you choose. Just as I have the right not to do so. However, if I’m your marital partner and you ask me about it then yes, I will say I would prefer that you not do so. All of this is of course, predicated on the fact that you are an adult and can do as you please.

    But in regard to the woman in the scenario, I’m still trying to figure out what would be her point. Even if, as you say, she’s concerned if people would still be her friends if they knew and the other issues you raised, I dunno, it would still be puzzling to me as the partner of the person.

  16. Heidi Belleau

    @Roslyn Holcomb:

    I think at a bare minimum she should spend some time reflecting on her motivation for this announcement.

    I’m curious as to why you are assuming she hasn’t done so already. Coming out isn’t something you do on a whim, mindless of the consequences. Not in our society. And no matter how much her decision affects her husband, it will affect her eight thousand million times more. If he’s a straight cis man, he’ll come out of this just fine.

    As for the rest, I’ve given you plenty of reasons why a person would make this choice, all valid. If her husband can’t accept those reasons and still seeks to control her self-expression and how she identifies and to whom, then it sounds like it would be better for the both of them if they ended their marriage.

  17. Roslyn Holcomb

    I’m assuming that she hasn’t spent a lot of time reflecting on her motivations for making such an announcement because she is an adult woman who just realized what her sexuality is. It’s been my experience that people who make such a discovery, whether it’s about sexuality, religion or some other issue, tend to go all evangelical about it. Newbies, regardless of the issue can be some of the most hard-core and prone to make impulsive decisions. So yes, I would give her the same advice I’d give anyone in such a circumstance, to slow down and really reflect on what her motivations might be. Obviously, if she decides that this right for her, by all means go ahead.

  18. Ridley

    @Roslyn Holcomb: The only motive I can see this person having is a desire to be seen as she is (bi) instead of who people assume she is and who she’s pretended to be (straight). Counseling her to prioritize straight people’s comfort over her need to be honest with friends and family strikes me as unreasonable and biphobic.

  19. Roslyn Holcomb

    I don’t know what to say to that Ridley, because I don’t think it’s unreasonable to take other people’s feelings and concerns into consideration especially when you’re married. I can understand wanting to be open and honest with people, but I also know from experience what the consequences of that openness can be. After all, my husband has experienced employment discrimination because he has a black wife. It’s all well and good to talk about wanting to be honest, but unfortunately, that type of openness can have consequences and in a marriage you’re not the only one to be impacted. I don’t consider that biphobic. I think it’s the reality of living in a world where others can have a direct impact on one’s ability to feed oneself and your children. It would be lovely if such things didn’t happen, but having experienced the nightmare of income loss and having to relocate due to other people’s prejudices I think it’s only reasonable to take that into consideration. This is especially true in a situation like this one, where one partner went into the marriage thinking their partner had one sexuality to find now that she has a different one. And while it’s great to think such things shouldn’t matter, in reality they do.

  20. cleo

    @Roslyn Holcomb – I see a lot of your points. I also favor slow change, especially when someone is in the early, evangelical, stages of discovering something. And I agree that the LW should reflect on why she wants to come out – and explain it clearly to her husband. It does impact him too. But it also impacts her. And if she feels like she needs to disclose her identity to key people in her life to feel authentic or honest, then that’s something they need to deal with as a couple. Yes, she’s changing the terms of their marriage – it’s true he didn’t sign up for a bi wife – but part of being married is dealing with changes. I really hope they can find a compromise that both are comfortable with.

    I’ve been struggling with this myself. I’ve had very similar conversations with my husband about my desire to be a little more open about my orientation. Like Heidi, after I married, I stopped disclosing because I’m a private person and it didn’t seem like it mattered. And then, a couple years ago, I realized that everyone I’ve met in the last 10+ years thinks I’m straight, and I felt like I was living a lie. I definitely feel like I pass for straight. I’m slowly figuring out how to be a little more open, without making my husband too uncomfortable, without risking my livelihood, etc. It’s not easy. But it feels important.

  21. Roslyn Holcomb

    I too hope they can find a compromise that will work for both of them. In such a situation it’s crucial to be sensitive to the needs and the impact on both partners.

  22. Anastasia Vitsky

    If no one made homophobic or biphobic jokes, cast slurs, or other inappropriate comments related to sexuality, then perhaps coming out wouldn’t be such an issue. The problem is that being read as a heterosexual woman means she will be privy to conversations she would rather not experience. (A similar example might be a biracial person being an unwilling participant in a racist conversation because others don’t realize she is not fully white.)

    If this woman’s husband had given any of these reasons for his concern (fear of professional reprisal, loss of income, etc.), then it would make sense to talk over the implications together. I would think, however, that such serious reasons would have been mentioned by the letter writer. Perhaps he does have these reasons and hasn’t been able to articulate them yet.

    However, the letter writer seems to have this general position: I feel false living the way I do now. I don’t feel as if I am being honest.

    For whatever reasons, she would rather choose to deal with the discrimination and difficulty of living openly as a bisexual, rather than living as if she were heterosexual. No, it might not be an easy choice, but we must assume that she has good reasons for making this decision.

    Race-based and sexuality-based experiences with discrimination stem from opposite motives. Race-based discrimination forces unwanted attention onto someone who is trying to live a normal life without being categorized, labeled, and stigmatized. Sexuality-based discrimination typically is about forcing people to pretend to be something they are not. It’s about suppressing attention rather than giving too much of the wrong kind.

    For that reason, (and of course people can experience both types of discrimination at once, in addition to sexism) “coming out” is important to LGBT folks in a way that might be difficult to understand for people who never had the option of “passing.” To be able to pass might seem a privilege…but that privilege comes at a price.

    As an adult, she should have the dignity of making her own choices.