How Come Tattoos and Piercings Are Suddenly a Women’s Issue?

It’s very frustrating when people take issues that concern women and men equally, erase men from them altogether, and just concentrate on the female part of the equation in order to present themselves as feminists. Body acceptance issues are one example. Men and women suffer from poor body image and fatphobia equally, yet there are folks who insist that this is an exclusively female problem.

Now it turns out that there are attempts to read tattoos and piercings in the same gender-skewed manner:

I’m not saying that teens only get tattoos as an act of rebellion; it’s obvious that there are as many reasons for getting tats or piercings as there are people who get them. But there’s no question that the desire to mark the body as one’s own (rather than one’s parents, or one’s peers, or the fashion industry’s) is a huge part of the appeal of permanent body modification. But tattoos or piercings aren’t for everyone. Without judging or criticizing those who do choose to tattoo or pierce, we need to work harder to give young women alternative strategies for taking public ownership of their bodies. Whether inked or not, every girl deserves the reminder that her body belongs to her alone.

Note how “teens” and “people” are suddenly transformed into “young women” and “every girl” who need to be given strategies (obviously by some benevolent paternal authority that is there to rescue these poor damsels in distress.) Men of all ages get tattoos and piercings everywhere, yet somehow they are completely erased from this discussion. Is the suggestion here that men’s reasons to engage in these practices are different from women’s? Or is it, rather, that they are not worthy of attention? Is that because women are a perennial mystery that needs to be solved or eternal victims to be saved from “society”?

This is the kind of quasi-feminism that does nothing but perpetuate the gender divide and present men and women as coming from entirely different planets.

Committee Work: Autistics Win

Now that I’m starting my 3rd year on the tenure track, I have finally figured out how to fulfill service obligations in a way that isn’t a waste of time and is actually fun. I managed to get elected to the university-wide Research and Development committee that distributes $375,000 in research grant money each year to scholars at our university. This way, I will see many grant proposals and learn what makes an outstanding proposal. This is a very valuable committee that everybody wants to be on because it does real work. It isn’t just some mindless paper-pushing. This is really crucial work that will benefit our entire university.

So now I’m on one College of Arts and Sciences committee (that also does really fun, important work) and this university-level committee. They both only occupy one’s time during the Fall semester and leave you completely free (yet still on the committee lists) in spring and summer. Nobody can possibly ask me to do any more service than this, and I’m really enjoying myself in the meanwhile.

And don’t think this was easy. I had to resist certain amount of pressure to assume other, boring, useless and time-consuming service obligations while I was waiting for these two fun committees to open.

The moral of the story: it’s sometimes hard for young scholars to resist the pressure and they end up being pushed into way too many service assignments. However, we have to remember that everything we do has do benefit us in the long run. The person who will come out winning is the one who is the least prone to allowing senior colleagues to guilt trip her into doing things she doesn’t feel like.

Being autistic really helps because it liberates you from wondering if people will still like you if you keep saying “no.”

Weekend Plans

I have managed to get through the first week of classes and the first two weeks of committee meetings while being sick with the flu and an ear infection. I feel better now, but I still can’t hear anything in my right ear and feel constantly exhausted. So my plans for the weekend are:

  • sleep a lot
  • read for fun
  • take very long baths
  • blog
  • cook
  • drink a lot of tea
  • eat tons of raspberries and peaches
  • watch at least 2 very silly shows on television
  • go for walks with N.
  • do absolutely no work of any kind whatsoever

I’m sure that after 2,5 days on this regimen I will be as good as new on Monday.

Am I Being Disrespected?

A post on College Misery titled “Yes. I’m a Woman. No. I’m Not His Secretary” suggests that being engaged in the following dialogue by a student means you are being disrespected on the basis of your gender:

Student: Do you know if Professor Zhou is in his office?
Me: I don’t know. Why don’t you knock to find out?
Student (knocks and is silent, walks into my neighbor’s empty office)
Student: Do you know where Professor Zhou is?
Me: I’m afraid not. He comes and goes as he pleases.

This is the beginning of the semester, which means that many new students are wandering around the campus trying to figure out where everything is located. Today, two students came to my office to ask me where the lab is located. One inquired about the Registrar’s Office. One asked about the cafeteria. And three were looking for a bathroom.

All of these inquiries must mean I’m being horribly disrespected. I just can’t figure out whether I’m being asked all these things because I’m a woman, an autistic, a blonde, a Ukrainian, a Jew, a blogger, an immigrant, a temporarily hearing-impaired person, a younger person, an older person, or a person wearing red shoes with sparkles (all listed attributes are currently true). Such an opportunity to feel self-righteously downtrodden and I’m missing it because I have no idea what I’m being discriminated for in these instances.

Convention on the Rights of the Child

I just discovered here that in the US there is opposition to the Convention which guarantees that most basic rights of children. These rights can be summarized as follows:

Children have rights to life, identity, nationality, knowledge of and care by hir parents, self-expression, thought, conscience, religion, free association, privacy, access to health care, access to resources to allow children with disabilities to fully participate in the community, education, and leisure. Signatory governments have obligations to protect children from neglect and abuse as well as to provide financial, development, and psychological support.

Do you know of anybody who would object to any of these rights being granted to children? I think that all these things are so obvious and so basic that no reasonable individual can possibly object to adopting the convention and practicing it in full.


An Online Degree for Autistic Students

This sounds like a great idea:

For some students with autism, the idea of operating in the social environment of a college classroom can be so debilitating as to derail the pursuit of higher education at all. For those who do enroll, their condition can make it difficult to succeed in a traditional classroom setting.

But Dana Reinecke, in the department of applied behavior analysis at the Sage Colleges in Albany, N.Y., said she realized that through online learning, students with autism can overcome those barriers. “It allows them to learn from their most comfortable environment, whether it’s home, a library, a friend’s house, a treatment center, their psychiatrist’s office,” she said. “It takes away that need to be in a room full of people that they might be uncomfortable with.”

I just hope that the program will be limited to those autistic students who specifically choose to participate in it because that’s what they (not their parents) want. I also hope that autistic students who prefer to receive on-campus instruction will not be steered away towards online learning.

I just walked down our building’s hallway and noticed how many disabled students there are in the classrooms, in the hallways, in the computer lab, in the cafeteria, etc. At the other universities where I taught, I never saw such a significant number of people who are visibly disabled on campus. A society that expects its disabled citizens to hide from view so as not to disturb the sensibilities of the able-bodied folks is a fully fascist one. And I’m sure everybody knows by now that I don’t use this word lightly.

If autistic students decide they don’t feel like being on campus, I believe they should definitely be accommodated. However, those of us who want to be on campus should be recognized as valid inhabitants of the academic world who can freely do so.

Blogger Getting Weirder by the Minute

I can’t stop celebrating the brilliant idea to move this blog to WordPress that I got in May of this year. After all the issues it has had and all the multiple ways in which Blogger has let its users down, it has now come out with a policy of deleting the following kinds of blogs altogether:

– Affiliate marketing.
– Content created with scripts and programs, rather than by hand.
– Content or links referencing referral-based activities such as GPT, MMH (“Make Money from Home”), MMF (“Make Money Fast”), MLM (“Multi-Level Marketing”), PTC, or PTS.
– Content scraped from other blogs / websites.
– Copyright Infringement.
– Large blogs with multiple, unfocused / unrelated subjects.
– Links to Illegal Downloads / Streaming / Torrents.

God keep us all from some ignoramus at Blogger deciding what consists copyright infringement. Also, this potentially endangers every single blog that linked to absolutely any website whatsoever. How am I to guarantee that a website I linked to 2 years ago hasn’t had an “illegal torrent” (whatever that even is) placed on it in the meanwhile?

And what about “large blogs with multiple, unfocused / unrelated subjects”? My blog is large because I post like crazy. I also address any topic that catches my fancy at any given moment. Who will decide if the blog is “focused” enough for Blogger’s standards?

Intersex People and Trans Women Discriminated Against in Australia

Apparently, the definition of a sex offender in Australia is a person whose existence offends some folks’ bigoted sensibilities. Intersex people and pre-op trans women are now required to place themselves on the sex offender list to get the medication they need:

Cyproterone Acetate, better known as Androcur, is an anti-androgen medication taken by both male and female intersex individuals.  A change in Australian health care policy, though, means that intersex people–those born with both male and female biological traits–can only get Androcur by signing themselves onto a potential sex offenders’ list.  The same is true for female-indentified transsexuals, who take the drug to suppress male hormones.

We are all used to the fact that the definition of a sex offender keeps getting diluted to fit in as many puritanical concerns as possible. This new development in Australia, however, is so offensive to any reasonable person that words fail me to address it.

WTF, Australia? WTF?

Bush Versus Obama

Can anybody explain to me why so many people opposed Bush’s invasion of Iraq “to remove a bloody dictator” and simultaneously support Obama’s bombings of Libya “aimed at removing a bloody dictator”? Is messing in other countries’ affairs a good thing when it is carried out by a politician you support?

I just don’t get the logic here. If you were anti-Iraq war, how can you be cheering on what’s happening in Libya?

And please don’t tell me “there is a huge difference between an intervention “that helps forces that want to be helped” and invading a country to “liberate” it, ready or not.” Bush supporters also told us stories about the people of Iraq who were desperate for their country to be invaded and liberated.