Follow-up to previous post.
I have always loved this flag because it made me proud to be an American. that men and women put their lives on the line to be what they were, who they were, and live their lives the way they felt they ought to be lived—free.
If anyone deserves to use this flag presently in America, it’s the young, gay man who was kicked out of his house and has to be homeless with his partner, whom he loves more than his bigot parents can ever understand. It’s the woman of color who is objectified and vilified at the same damn time.
Not the privileged, aging white people of America. They don’t understand what it is to be told “you can’t, you shouldn’t, why would you bother, sit down and don’t” and they probably never will.
I have a deep respect for the people who fought and won this country, including the incredibly human, flawed, and not inherently Christian “founding fathers.” So the fact that the Tea Party has adopted this symbol of human deserving makes me sick. It makes me sad, sick, and hurt for the people who deserve to fly this flag, because those are the people who know what it is to be tread on.
I have seen some conversation about the term Special Snowflake. Well, I never thought that a Special Snowflake is someone who is going to great lengths to be an individual. That would just make everyone a Special Snowflake every day and that’s just too easy. I didn’t realize that others definition deviated
Here’s my definition:
A Special Snowflake is someone who thinks that they are being different, and being an individual, when really they’re thoughts and/or actions are upholding an often oppressive status quo that is widely accepted by the majority.
For example, a girl who say that “all women are bitches, rude, catty, always PMSing, but I’m different cause all my friends are guys and I’m cool and I’m not over dramatic or emotional.” <—- I call that a case of being a Special Snowflake because that girl thinks her point of view makes her an individual, when it’s really just internalized sexism which validates misogynistic roles and stereotypes. Teenagers who believe that they are individuals by saying that they all other teenagers are stupid and only care about sex or that they’re all rude, etc. are Special Snowflakes because that’s not news. You’re not being an individual by treating the group that you are in autonomously and complaining that everyone is a stereotype except for you, you’re just enforcing the status quo. And that is the core of being a Special Snowflake.
And really, I think that’s a more appropriate definition. I don’t care if someone really wants to differentiate themselves and be individuals, but I do care when people are trying to be “different” when they’re just relishing in widely-accepted oppression.
(Also, I have not found sufficient evidence to conclude that the term “Special Snowflake” is being used en masse to dismiss non-binary or disabled people, but that is another issue I suppose.)
I felt compelled to comment on this post by madamethursday because I think the subject is interesting (and because I’m probably one of those grammar prigs s/he lambasts).
In my opinion, there’s a difference between posting a little graphic that bemoans the fact that many people mix up their/they’re/there and reposting someone’s personal commentary or story in order to nitpick about grammar or spelling. A BIG difference. The latter is definitely an aspect of the ‘tone’ argument and dismissive in a particularly shitty way. The former is not.
So I agree that going all Grammar Police on people—when it’s not your job to do so—is not only snotty, but a form of derailing.
BUT, there is a reasonable reason for the language rules that the OP decries: we use language is to communicate. Grammar and spelling rules ease communication. It would be difficult to get ideas across, particularly abstract and subtle ideas, if we were each using idiosyncratic versions of English.
An English teacher—a good one, anyway—isn’t trying to make people feel stupid, ashamed, or marginalized by teaching ‘correct’ grammar and spelling. They’re trying to give students the best tools to communicate in particular settings (formal, professional, academic). You have plenty of opportunities outside of formal education to learn slang, Ebonics, regional idioms, tech speak, and other forms of ‘incorrect’ English. You don’t have very many opportunities to learn ‘correct’ English outside of school.
Sure, you can argue that this is oppressive language policing, but the reality is that we live in a world where using ‘correct’ English in particular situations still matters. It is what it is. Fighting the power is one thing; surviving in the here-and-now is another.
So while I agree that ‘correct’ English has privileged class connotations, as well as a history of imperialism, sexism, ableism, and so on, I don’t think simply criticizing language rules for these sins is enough. Sometimes you have to speak the oppressor’s language in order to get through to them. Personally, I advocate giving marginalized peoples as many tools (including languages) as possible.
I also think the OP is vastly overestimating how much control language authorities have on enforcing usage rules these days. The U.S. isn’t France—oftentimes, the editors of Merriam-Websters and the MLA are frantically trying to catch up with a language that’s constantly, rapidly evolving.
The way we speak and write English changes all the time, which is why there are constantly new editions of dictionaries, style guides, and grammar books being published.
Why? Because the language authorities want to stay relevant. The rules they put in place are oftentimes the result of reviewing popular language use. I assure you that they don’t just sit in book-lined studies sipping sherry and pulling definitions and guidelines out of their asses. They’re trying their best to domesticate the unruly shape-shifting beast that is English so that we can use it to till our postmodern fields and harvest our feminist crops…
(Um, ignore that last metaphor.) But yeah—the problem isn’t that ‘proper’ English exists. The problem is people being assholes about it.
Disclaimer: I’m a well-educated U.S. academic and former editor with all the privilege these roles entail. I’m also fairly well-versed in postcolonialism, feminism, etc. and have studied language theory…all of which makes me disinclined to take an extreme position on either side. What’s wrong with moderation?
In a new study published in The Journal of Applied Social Psychology, psychologists Kristin J. Anderson and Melinda Kanner explored undergraduate students’ evaluations of lesbian, gay, and heterosexual professors of a hypothetical course, Psychology of Human Sexuality. They provided students with a syllabus of the course, providing biographical information about the hypothetical professor including political ideology, gender, and sexual identity. The researchers also varied whether the syllabus had typographical errors. They examined whether students would differ in their evaluations of the lesbian/gay and heterosexual professors, especially in terms of whether the professor was politically biased.
The researchers found that lesbian and gay professors were viewed as politically biased, while heterosexual professors with the exact same syllabus were viewed as objective. On average, lesbian/gay professors were rated more harshly, and students pointed to political bias and typographical errors (typos) on the syllabus as their main reason for the negative evaluation. However, heterosexual professors were not negatively evaluated for political bias and typographical errors.
The findings of this study are similar to past research that has already indicated that professors who are women and racial and ethnic minorities are rated more harshly by students and often presumed to be biased. White heterosexual men, on the other hand, are presumed to be objective and unbiased, and they are less likely to be challenged by students. Whereas students’ evaluations of professors are used to make hiring and promotion decisions for professors, students’ relatively harsh evaluations of minority professors (including women, people of color, and sexual minorities) can unfairly hurt the careers of these groups of professors…
The problem with cultural appropriation is that it replaces the original with a copy created by the dominant culture. It dilutes the original, removes all symbolic value from it and replaces it with a ready to consume product devoid of context and meaning.
Cultural appropriation, at its most extreme, is a violent form of colonization because it removes the original group behind the culture and reinforces stereotypes about that group (i.e. ALL First Nation folks are reduced to “war bonnets”, whether their culture uses them or not; all Latin@s are reduced to a stylized version of Catholicism regardless of their spirituality; etc.). The mechanism of commodifying a culture ends up being a tool to re-inforce [sic] racism as it reduces the people behind those cultures to a mere cartoon like representation of their realities. It’s a great way to ultimately Other and objectify entire groups of people by taking something that is dynamic and ever evolving and freezing it for a marketing photo opportunity.
About a week ago, we got a submission here at TFH that I need to address. I don’t like to “call out” our readers, but I think this was mostly our mistake for publishing the submission without comment.
I understand that people need things to make them feel good about what we are doing in our feminist circles. However, we can not do it on the backs of those who are marginalized. We must use the strides that we have made. Using marginalized people takes us backward, using what we have actually done pushes us forward. Feminism has a long, sad history of inequality and exclusion. Let’s stop it now.
If someone with a disability says something you think is awesome and progressive, do you think it is awesome mostly because they have a disability or because of what they said? Assuming that people with disabilities don’t know as much as those without, or that they can not be completely aware of what they are saying, is ableist, condescending, oppressive, and completely dehumanizing.
Oppression porn is using other people’s circumstances to make you feel good about yourself. It has expanded from what we often refer to as “poverty porn”, when we objectify those living in poverty for our own purposes: to raise money, to feel pity, to feel better about ourselves, to pat ourselves on the back for whatever difference we feel we are making. It is also extensively used in reference to those with disabilities.
It needs to stop. It needs to stop with us.
We must not use other people’s circumstances to make ourselves feel better. In doing so, we further stigmatize, marginalize, and oppress the group that we are using. It is objectification, and it is wrong.
As we activists delve into relentless assaults upon privilege, I think we often forget that personal core. It’s not just that privilege in and of itself is problematic. […] We call people on their microaggressions, on their ignorance, on their privilege because they hurt. They fucking hurt. And we don’t want to keep being hurt. We want to be safe. […]
Calling out is difficult. As we’ve all experienced, it can get quite vicious and painful for everyone involved. In our rush to protect ourselves, we so often forget about the humanity and vulnerability of the person we’re debating. But it’s worth it. Because the alternative hurts, too. And even if that hurt isn’t nearly as visible, the cost of complacent silence can be so much higher.
That’s why we watch our privilege. That’s why we call others on *all* their ignorance. Because even if it might be acrimonious at the time, it’s not about tearing us apart. It’s about creating a space where we can stay together.
That last paragraph is just about the best explanation of why “calling out” is important that I’ve ever come across. People accuse those of us who call out privilege of unnecessarily straining and fracturing relationships, when really, we’re calling out privilege in order to improve those bonds.
It’s not a real or worthwhile relationship if it’s not based on equality, care, and respect for everyone involved.
I love how the introductory section of the section on the psychology and behavior of stalkers is mostly an attempt to suggest that many victims of stalking lie about being stalked:
In the UK, for example, most so-called stalkers are ex-partners and evidence shows that the mentally ill stalking type of behaviour propagated in the media occurs in only a minority of cases of alleged stalking. As with sexual harassment law, it is very easy for false claims to be made or at least for the law to be broken as the law is so ill-defined, whether or not someone has been harassed has no objective definition and claims can be made arbitrarily. Compensation claims add another reason for false and malicious claims. A UK Home Office Research study on the use the 1997 Protection of Harassment Act (which is the UK stalking law) quotes “The study found that the Protection from Harassment Act is being used to deal with a variety of behaviour such as domestic and inter-neighbour disputes. It is rarely used for stalking as portrayed by the media since only a small minority of cases in the survey involved such behaviour.
But I’m fairly certain that if anyone went in and tried to alter the stalking article to make it less of an apology for stalkers, their corrections would be immediately marked for deletion. This is a common occurrence in controversial or political entries.
It’s shit like this Wiki article that makes it laughable when people refer you to things like dictionary definitions to prove their points. This may come as a shock, but the point of view of marginalized/oppressed groups (such as stalking victims) is rarely represented in mainstream reference resources. These days, Wikipedia almost counts as the latter. It’s disappointing—but perhaps unsurprising—that a novel experiment in crowd-sourcing a ‘people’s encyclopedia’ merely repeats many of the biases and distortions of the larger culture.
Fascinating piece on the place of frybread in contemporary Native American culture. This article touches on Native American history, the obesity crisis on reservations, and the politicization of frybread by folks like Sherman Alexie:
For Lewis and many other Native Americans, frybread links generation with generation and also connects the present to the painful narrative of Native American history. Navajo frybread originated 144 years ago, when the United States forced Indians living in Arizona to make the 300-mile journey known as the “Long Walk” and relocate to New Mexico, onto land that couldn’t easily support their traditional staples of vegetables and beans. To prevent the indigenous populations from starving, the government gave them canned goods as well as white flour, processed sugar and lard—the makings of frybread.