Clarissa's Blog

An academic's opinions on feminism, politics, literature, philosophy, teaching, academia, and a lot more.

The Countdown Begins

Today is December 1, and that means I have exactly one month left to wind down my crazy research extravaganza that has lasted for a little over a year. The house is filled with library books that cover every available surface, my brain boils and gives me the weirdest dreams known to humanity, and the neighbors probably know me as the lady with the crazy hair who walks around in a daze, mumbling and bumping into trees and mail boxes.

One article has been handed it with final revisions completed. Now I have to finish revisions on two more articles, do one last rereading and editing of the book, and submit a book proposal to some publishing houses. 

After that, I’m ready to vegetate for 55 days.

Muslim Challenge

My university is organizing a “Muslim Challenge.” In the course of the event, women will be handed out free hijabs to “get a glimpse of the experience of veiled Muslims.”

No activity is planned where “veiled Muslims”  will be encouraged to get a glimpse of the experience of women who do not consider themselves anybody’s property.

It is especially cute that the activity is being announced right after a TA at a neighboring university beat a 14-year-old girl for not wearing a hijab.

I guess this answers my question as to whether there is anybody else left anywhere interested in remembering – no, not the concept, that shit is dead – but at least the word “feminism.”

Are Putin and Erdogan the Same?

I understand it when people say “Russia and Turkey are the same” as a humorous gesture of sorts. But when this is said seriously, it scares me because one needs to amputate all memory of very recent events in order honestly to see no difference.

Let’s just look at a single little difference between the two countries. Who annexed a large territory from a neighbor by threatening to use nuclear weapons?

Annoying and distasteful is one thing – and Erdogan is obviously is all that and more, but seriously and calmly deploying nuclear weapons, as Putin recognized he did in order to annex the Crimea, is in a different order of magnitude. And by the way, everybody who was there when the threat was made took it very seriously, as we saw from later events, so let’s not start pretending that we know better and qualifying the threat as not serious.

I have no interest in “defending” Erdogan but I’m tired of false analogies, carelessness, and people’s persistent need to deny that the world is complex and varied and that things don’t need to be “just like” anything else.

Russia Keeps Burning Books

Russian authorities continue the destruction of the Turkish school in the occupied Crimea that they started back in 2014.

Today, they burned all the books in Turkish and fired all the teachers of the Turkish language. Mind you, though, the persecution against the Turkish school in the Crimea began over a year ago.

There is a narrative being promoted by the very clueless that Turkey’s decision to shoot down the Russian fighter jet that breached the country’s air space was sudden and unexpected. Nothing could be further from the truth. Russians have been provoking Turkey in every way they could for quite a while. Erdogan actually showed an uncharacteristic restraint in not responding for as long as he did. The current conflict between Russia and Turkey was a long time coming.

A Mizzou Prof Commits a Hate Crime

An Assistant Prof at Mizzou viciously assaulted a 14-year-old child because she wasn’t wearing a hijab.

I hope that Mizzou students have something to say about this hate crime committed by one of their faculty members. The department that hired and retained this woman-hater must be held accountable for its bizarre hiring practices. The administration should explain how it was possible that somebody who hates women this much was allowed to poison the campus environment for so long. I’m hoping to see a wave of protests, sit-ins and student demands about this hate crime.

Sad Walmart

Why are Walmart commercials always accompanied by such depressive music? Even the commercial about the salary raises at Walmart has such a sad tune playing in the background that one can’t help thinking that the music is trying to communicate something like, “. . . but nothing can help these workers at this point.”

Sabbaticals and Work

Thanksgiving weekend. Sunday, 4 pm. What do you think I’m doing? Yes, I’m working. Like I did yesterday, and the day before, and on Thanksgiving proper.

So if anybody suggests that academics on sabbaticals do no work, I ask you to spit in their stupid, lying faces.


“Are you a Turk or a citizen of Russia?” the Russian government asks of its millions of Turkish citizens. There didn’t use to be a contradiction but now that Russia is busily hate-mongering against Turkey there is:

Thus far, the adversarial, identity-driven turn in Russian politics has avoided drawing domestic dividing lines beyond the question of who supports Putin, and who doesn’t. . . Until now. Now, the Russian government is demanding that 12 million Russian citizens of Turkic ethnicity to choose between their citizenship and their ethnic identity.

That’s exactly what Russia needed. Yet another ethnic minority to hate and persecute.

I just want people who started saying, after the 11/13 terror attacks in Paris, that maybe it is a good idea to get over the West’s opposition with Russia and involve Russians in a fight against ISIS to start noticing that any, ANY attempt to flirt with Russia’s current regime results in something like this.

Hollande travels to Russia, Obama chats with Putin at the G20 – it all looks innocent enough. And then today, Russian airplanes targeted a peaceful marketplace in Syria, killing at least 30 people (in an area with zero ISIS presence, obviously). And a very peaceful minority in Russia gets singled out for harassment for no reason whatsoever.

It might be fun to fantasize about how great it would be if Russians defeated ISIS. But when you engage in this fantasy, you contribute to the environment where these fuckers feel emboldened to kill more people.

At some point, the insane desire of so many Western do-gooders to lend a sympathetic ear to Putinoid shit needs to end. I know everybody is in the grip of their teenage rebellion against the Cold War. But isn’t it time to grow up already and notice reality?

Changes and Traditions

There is this Russian trivia show that N and I adore and always watch. The show consists of very intelligent, highly educated people answering questions sent in by members of the Russian – speaking audience from all over the world.  The show was inherited from the Soviet times and went through some very curious transformations as it adapted itself to historic developments.

For instance, back in the USSR, the prizes were books because books were very hard to get and it was prestigious to have them even if you weren’t a reader. And on that show, everybody was a reader, of course.

In the 1990s, during the bandit wars, the show acquired a very dark and heavy tone. Books disappeared, and the show turned into a high-stakes casino of sorts where members of the educated class enacted their terror of wild capitalism.

Todat, the prizes are always and only large sums of money but everybody is used to capitalism now and the environment around money is much calmer.

But other places were transforming, too. For instance, one of the show’s traditions is a short break during which the players are served, in a very majestic way, “traditional English tea.” Aside from the obvious goal of product placement, this is a way of borrowing some of the intellectual cachet that “traditional English” things possess.

For years, the brand of the “traditional English tea” served was Pickwick. But “traditional English” is as likely to transform as “traditional” anything else. A few years ago, the “traditional English Pickwick” changed into “the traditional English tea Ahmad.”

At first, there was a lot of alarmism among the show’s fans. Ahmad is displacing Pickwick! What’s next, Mohammed instead of Nelson? This is what England has come to! The horror, the horror! But then it turned out that Ahmad was actually a very good tea and that, unlike the horribly tasting Pickwick, it was even enjoyable to drink. So the panic subsided. And now every self-respecting “Russian” restaurant in the US carries Ahmad because immigrants love the show and are eager to be part of the new traditions of their old country by way of the traditional English tea.

I remembered the story because, like a typical Russian – speaking immigrant, I’m drinking my Ahmad right now and checking the program to see when the new episode of my old Soviet show will be aired.



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