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Clarissa's Blog

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

Ask Clarissa

Please use the comment thread of this page to ask me any questions. I will either answer them here or, if your question is especially interesting, write a separate post in response.

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458 thoughts on “Ask Clarissa

  1. lamestllama on said:

    Clarissa, I often wonder if you wouldn’t get a lot more of your actual work done if you didn’t write so much on your blog. I would be interested to know how you keep up teaching commitments, research targets and post so much here. Especially when quite frequently you end up arguing with somebody who really has nothing to offer and not worth your effort.

    I was surprised to learn that your blogging is done by phone. What is the secret to your prolific output?

    BTW you blogs draws ever nearer to one million hits.

    Like

    • “BTW you blogs draws ever nearer to one million hits.”

      – I don’t think we will get there before New Year’s, though, which is what I really wanted. 😦 December will be bad hits-wise, as usual. It will be so annoying to get the coveted million two weeks after the set date.

      I’m very obsessed with stats. Even married a statistician. 🙂

      Like

    • *I* would but I can tell how Clarissa is doing it.
      1. A lot of the posts are short and are like discussion questions: hey look at this! They are interesting but they do not take all that long to compose.
      2. A lot of Clarissa’s responses to people do not respond to every single point they make. This makes them a lot faster to write.
      3. I think a lot of the longer arguments with Clarissa in them, take place while she is riding on the bus or something like that and couldn’t really work anyway.
      4. I think she gains and does not lose energy and focus from blogging, and that that is the main reason she does it. Remember, she is a person who puts the tv on in the background while she writes. Blogging on breaks from grading, stuff like that, can spur you on and not slow you down if you are in control of it.

      Like

      • “1. A lot of the posts are short and are like discussion questions: hey look at this! They are interesting but they do not take all that long to compose.
        2. A lot of Clarissa’s responses to people do not respond to every single point they make. This makes them a lot faster to write.
        3. I think a lot of the longer arguments with Clarissa in them, take place while she is riding on the bus or something like that and couldn’t really work anyway.
        4. I think she gains and does not lose energy and focus from blogging, and that that is the main reason she does it. Remember, she is a person who puts the tv on in the background while she writes. Blogging on breaks from grading, stuff like that, can spur you on and not slow you down if you are in control of it.”

        – This is all 100% true. You know me very well. 🙂 The only time consuming thing about blogging is checking out the new posts by the bloggers I follow in the Google Reader.

        Like

  2. Clarissa, thought this might be something interesting to post, two videos about Soviet cars (hilarious) and the third one featuring the Chaika car used by the Soviet elite. I’d imagine it would terrifying to here that car pull up to where someone lived.



    Like

  3. WorriedGradStudent on said:

    Hi Clarissa,

    I am currently in a Spanish M.A. program. My question is in regards to grades. I have always heard that if you aren’t getting A’s in grad school, it means you shouldn’t be there. I have gotten a couple A’s, but the rest have been B’s and B+’s. My program, unfortunately, is kind of dysfunctional, and I believe that has negatively contributed to my grades. While I don’t have all A’s, I will have presented at 2 conferences by the time I receive my degree this May and I am in the process of writing a thesis that I know I will do a fabulous job on. In your opinion, are my grades going to prevent me from getting into a PhD program?

    Like

    • I have to be honest with you: many grad schools have a policy not to accept anybody who has even a single B in the MA program. This, however, doesn’t mean that you need to give up on doing a PhD. When you apply, make sure that your portfolio reflects your strengths that are not limited to coursework. Get some really good recommendation letters, write a very strong statement of intent. This is still doable but more complicated than it could have been.

      Like

  4. Amaxis on said:

    Hello Clarissa, I am an uruguayan who accidentaly droped to your blog because of some Rodó´s review. I havent seen yet in deep your blog but I think I could visit it often, (Its late here and I have to sleep now)
    I saw you read lot of philosophy! and that you are really quite actualized!
    Im just passing by in order to recommend you some new thinker from my country who is slowly getting bigger -not in popularity, but in thoughts- who is quite pertinent nowadays. Sandino Nuñez is his name and I believe you would apreciate his work. Greetings from the south!

    Maximiliano Sanguinetti

    Like

  5. You, some time ago, published a video animated to show the changing borders within Europe some time ago. I cannot find it. Do you have the URL?

    Like

  6. Roberto Severino on said:

    Who would be your favorite philosopher and why? How has this philosopher shaped or influenced your life and worldview?

    Like

    • I really like Slavoj Zizek. I disagree with about 85% of what he has to say but that’s why I like him. what is the point of engaging with a philosopher you agree with completely? And he has really beautiful things to say about the stupidity of multi-culturalism and tolerance (two concepts that he detests). here is an example:

      “Moral majority fundamentalists and tolerant multi-culturalists are the two sides of the same coin, they both share the fascination with the Other. In moral majority, this fascination displays the envious hatred of the Other’s excessive jouissance, while the multiculturalist tolerance of the Other’s Otherness is also more twisted than it may appear – it is sustained by a secret desire for the Other to REMAIN “other,” not to become too much like us.”

      Or here is Zizek on liberal guilt: “We white Leftist men and women [should] leave behind the politically correct process of endless self-torturing guilt . . . [Western] politically correct self-flagellation is an inverted form of clinging to one’s superiority. . . The positive form of the White Man’s Burden (his responsibility for civilizing the colonized barbarians) is thus merely replaced by its negative form (the burden of the white man’s guilt): if we can no longer be the benevolent masters of the Third World, we can at least be the privileged source of evil, patronizingly depriving others of responsibility for their fate (when a Third World country engages in terrible crimes, it is never fully its own responsibility, but always an after effect of colonization).”

      Lovely!

      Like

  7. I added a parenthetic expression to my name on my last two posts. Now apparently I cannot post without going to moderation from Firefox, and I cannot remove the addition. I have switched browsers to see if that makes a difference. Do you know how I can correct my name and restore it to just ‘David Bellamy’?

    Like

  8. You have often expressed your position on housewives & others on your blog, and I wanted to ask which minimal conditions you think a person should fulfill in order to “have a right to”
    1) respect
    2) love
    himself or herself.

    Like

  9. Another completely unrelated question: you wrote about the great ability nowadays to change careers in midlife, and I wondered about your own profession. What is the cut-off age for getting the third degree, if one wishes to become university professor?

    Like

    • I don’t think there is a cut-off age. I know a few people who did it after the age of 40 and 1 after the age of 50. They are all very happy, and their careers are going great.

      If one has the resources to pursue a PhD, nobody can legally bar people of any age from doing it. We are also legally barred from discussing the ages of job applicants. But we are a state university.

      Like

  10. kelly on said:

    hi clarissa,

    since you seem like an experienced blogger i wondered if anyone has ever commented on frequent google alerts from people trying to use other’s people e-mail accounts. I’ve got 3 in the last 2 weeks. Any advice?. Thanks. K

    Like

  11. Wirbelwind on said:

    I would like you to take a look at this article and, if you have enough time and energy of course, to write something about this.
    http://jezebel.com/5981308/kids-are-going-to-touch-genitals-lets-not-get-too-freaked-out-about-it?post=56988281

    Like

  12. There was some “entity” on one of my Youtube videos, commenting there recently, who kept going on and on (and on) about how Andrea Dworkin was Jewish and feminist. Now I find this article:

    http://www.totalfascism.com/feminism-a-jewish-war-on-femininity/

    I haven’t read it yet, but it seems like something others may be reading or thinking about.

    Youtube commentators tend to be totally nuts.

    Like

  13. Here’s one for you to tackle, Clarissa:

    Fetuses with mental disorders: http://recoilmag.com/?p=1948

    Like

  14. I sent you an email earlier about languages with and without future tenses. I was sending it to several friends and family members at the same time, and so I neglected to put ‘blog’ in the title. I will resend it if you do not get it because it is tagged as spam.

    Like

  15. Have you hidden the list of recent comments that was formerly on the right side of the screen, or is that WordPress’ doing?

    Like

  16. Because I’ve been getting so heavily into my training of late, my dreams last night were violent and deranged. There were, for instance, a lot of snakes biting each other aggressively and biting other people.

    Then there was this part about Clarissa. She suddenly jumped into my car and tore off in it, in a maniacal fashion. The police brought her back and I frowned at her severely: “It was the autism, wasn’t it?”

    Like

  17. Care to write a piece on these freakazoid parents who are seeking asylum in the U.S in order to continue to homeschool their children?
    http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2013/03/20133772515825350.html

    Like

    • This case goes back a while. More deep background on them, especially this (my emphasis):

      One of the Romeikes’ concerns was about their kids getting bullied. But their main objection involved what was being taught in the classroom. “The curriculum goes against our Christian values,” Uwe says. “German schools use textbooks that force inappropriate subject matter onto young children and tell stories with characters that promote profanity and disrespect.”
      […]
      But beyond that, many religious parents have problems with sex education and other curricular requirements. “Whether it’s a state school or a private school, there’s still a curriculum that is forced onto children,” says Kuhnle.

      I really wish these sorts of people would find the strength of courage to talk about things they don’t like. No one is preventing them from talking to their kids.

      In short, grow a spine.

      Like

  18. kelly on said:

    Since the Vatican has established a line for the faithful to provide input on Pope’s election, no names though, let’s occupy the line with comments in protest. Because this guy is an irresponsible intruder with tremendous negative consequences on people’s personal lives, as well as in society. Let’s raise our voices!.

    Like

  19. kelly on said:

    And the Boston Globe should be running an article on his archbishosp sensibility and intellect. Pretty much in the same vein than the one in today’s newspaper saying that Cardinal Mahoney of Los Angeles shouldn’t be at the Sixtine Chapel voting for the new Pope but in St Quentin!.

    Like

  20. kelly on said:

    I am happy with the new Pope. He speaks italian with argentinian accent!!!. That’s cute

    Like

  21. kelly on said:

    And he uses his hands as italians do!

    Like

  22. kelly on said:

    Glad that he took Francis as his Pope’s name. His biirth name is very difficult to pronounce: Jorge, gee that’s tough

    Like

  23. I have been reading this discussion why many people hate school lit:
    http://www.cracked.com/blog/4-ways-high-school-makes-you-hate-reading_p2/

    And wanted to ask your opinion. Found myself partly agreeing with some of the points.

    The moral implications of bringing an animal back from the dead after millions of years, or even of just cloning, is just as deep, and far more relevant, than say puritan morality, or why Ethan can’t leave his wife for a new younger lover, or an old lady making one kid miserable and the other into a sociopath because she was left at the altar

    OR the author’s point:

    The Scarlet Letter, Wuthering Heights, Great Expectations, Ethan Frome, Walden, Heart of Darkness, Madame Bovary, The Catcher in the Rye and The Sun Also Rises all suck. OK, that’s just my opinion, but the average high school student — hell, the average human being — will probably agree on a bunch of those at least.

    I read “Ethan Frome” and “Wuthering Heights” and didn’t like them. “Madame Bovary” was not much better. “Heart of Darkness” is hard for most, including me, to read because of the writing style.

    “The Scarlet Letter” did teach me about American Puritan history, their worldview. Compared to the books in the former paragraph, it was the most interesting. But chief interest to me lay in cultural & historical studies aspect, not in finding something relevant to my world today, far removed from American Puritan morality, which still is partly there in US, judging by some of US approaches to sexuality. To students in US Puritan sexual morality aspect is relevant, but can this novel give more than that? Would be interesting to hear your view.

    I am not for teaching “Hunger Games”, but surely there are more relevant books (than f.e. “Ethan Frome” and “Wuthering Heights”) about f.e. what happens when military complex gains too much power, moral dilemmas in medicine and law, libertarianizm, theory of evolution, etc.

    Isn’t “An Enemy of the People” by Henrik Ibsen more relevant than “Ethan Frome”? (Only planning to read it, but read what the play is about).

    The critiques of studying mainly dead, white, middle-class, male authors OR “Victorian morality” authors (like Jane Austen or Edith Wharton’s “EF”) does resound with me.

    Like

    • “The Scarlet Letter, Wuthering Heights, Great Expectations, Ethan Frome, Walden, Heart of Darkness, Madame Bovary, The Catcher in the Rye and The Sun Also Rises all suck. OK, that’s just my opinion, but the average high school student — hell, the average human being — will probably agree on a bunch of those at least.”

      – Yeah, and then they all go and vote for the illiterate Bush because they have no idea that he is illiterate. They simply can’t judge.

      “The critiques of studying mainly dead, white, middle-class, male authors OR “Victorian morality” authors (like Jane Austen or Edith Wharton’s “EF”) does resound with me.”

      – If that is all you see in these writers, I can only commiserate. In my profession, we do not look at the biographies of writers because they are completely irrelevant to anything. The biographic approach is there most primitive in existence.

      “The moral implications of bringing an animal back from the dead after millions of years, or even of just cloning, is just as deep, and far more relevant, than say puritan morality, or why Ethan can’t leave his wife for a new younger lover, or an old lady making one kid miserable and the other into a sociopath because she was left at the altar”

      – “The lady doth protest too much.” A little something tells me that this author has a very profound need to to deny that Puritanism is still the central driving force of American society.

      ” what happens when military complex gains too much power, moral dilemmas in medicine and law, libertarianizm, theory of evolution, etc.”

      – If one is interested in current events, one can always read a newspaper. Mayakovsky used to say (in order to shock people) that the best work of art is a newspaper headline. I hope we don’t have to reduce our vision of art to this snappy line.

      Like

      • As for Jane Austen’s “Victorian morality”, please see the date of the writer’s death and compare it with the time when Queen Victoria began her reign. Seriously, I expected better from you.

        Like

      • // – If one is interested in current events, one can always read a newspaper.

        Isn’t one of tasks of literature to grapple with those issues too? Why study Wuthering Heights + Ethan Frome + Austen, while not giving any novel dealing with those issues?

        // need to to deny that Puritanism is still the central driving force of American society.

        May be she does, but I am not denying it.

        // – If that is all you see in these writers, I can only commiserate.

        I didn’t say that, but that I partly agreed with the criticism.

        My goal was also to understand what significant I missed in “The Scarlet Letter”, except historical and Puritan morality aspects. Wanted to ask your opinion.

        Like

        • “Isn’t one of tasks of literature to grapple with those issues too? Why study Wuthering Heights + Ethan Frome + Austen, while not giving any novel dealing with those issues?”

          – Слышится поступь советской учительницы литературы. “Чему учит нас это произведение?” Sorry, folks, it’s untranslatable. 🙂 🙂

          “My goal was also to understand what significant I missed in “The Scarlet Letter”, except historical and Puritan morality aspects.”

          – Maybe that it’s a work of art, not a history textbook. The main criticism leveled against the Impressionists was that they didn’t depict reality faithfully. Critics didn’t see any value in such unrealistic portrayals. The word “beauty” was not part of their lexicon.

          Like

  24. Another comment there creates a theory about long descriptions in old novels:

    One thing to keep in mind with older novels is that people in those days didn’t have a massive picture library in their brain courtesy of films, TV, internet, and photo books. So they wouldn’t be able to conjure up a scene in their heads as easy as we can.

    If I introduce countess von Schnitzelhoffen and tell you that she’s blond, young but serious, and wears a formal green dress, you’ll fill in the gaps yourself based on your visual references regarding the Teutonic looking countesses – probably using a bunch of film clichés.

    The same 18th century person would need to be told how her hair was done, what type of dress she wore, what impression she made on others, what exactly her background was, etc.

    So to summarise it all in a TL:DR recap:
    If you read an old book, there’s tons of descriptions in there that you can easily skip. That stuff is in there for the pre-modern media ages.

    Sounds both right and wrong to me.

    Like

    • “One thing to keep in mind with older novels is that people in those days didn’t have a massive picture library in their brain courtesy of films, TV, internet, and photo books. So they wouldn’t be able to conjure up a scene in their heads as easy as we can.”

      – What an idiot. It’s the exact opposite. People today are used to have imagery fed to them. they can’t conjure up anything in their minds. This was different for those who grew up not pegged to a flashing screen. The system of education on this country is sorely deficient. People pontificate without any shame or attempt at reflection. What made this creature think it is entitled to opine on things so far outside of its comprehension? Like Pushkin said, some people shouldn’t judge above a boot.

      Like

  25. What is the apparent suffix (or the apparent suffixes) -vik and -nik in Russian?

    I just figured out that the word beatnik in English must be a Russian imitation, like refusenik. Cannot believe I never noticed this before but what, then, is nik, exactly?

    Like

  26. Liz on said:

    I would really like to come up with my own “classics” book list to read over the next four years, but I have no idea where to start. I’ve read some, but not many classics. Are there any lists I should consult?

    Like

  27. el on said:

    Amanda Marcotte wrote about an interesting topic today, concerning all of us, in my eyes, and I wanted to ask your opinion.

    // Most news coverage regarding drones is about the debate over their use as weapons, so you might not know that drones—which are basically just flying robots—are sold commercially and can be used for all sorts of stuff. Mostly as toys …

    EXCEPT —
    WOMAN’S DESCRIPTION:

    This afternoon, a stranger set an aerial drone into flight over my yard and beside my house near Miller Playfield. I initially mistook its noisy buzzing for a weed-whacker on this warm spring day. After several minutes, I looked out my third-story window to see a drone hovering a few feet away. My husband went to talk to the man on the sidewalk outside our home who was operating the drone with a remote control, to ask him to not fly his drone near our home. The man insisted that it is legal for him to fly an aerial drone over our yard and adjacent to our windows. He noted that the drone has a camera, which transmits images he viewed through a set of glasses. He purported to be doing “research”. We are extremely concerned, as he could very easily be a criminal who plans to break into our house or a peeping-tom.

    http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/05/14/are-creepy-dudes-now-using-drone-technology-for-their-nefarious-ends/

    People discuss whether it was a trespass or not. However, even if it was one here, since the drone was flying over the woman’s yard, what about flat dwellers without yards? What about drones with great camera’s making high quality photos from across a street? Are today’s people forced to live in artificial lightning behind close windows, if they don’t want their private photos put online by all and sundry? May be, we aren’t there yet and few have drones as toys so far, but we’ll very soon be there.

    And having one’s photos online can be very damaging. Naked or having sex comes to mind first, but there can be other situations too. Like creepy, possibly stalking people seeing your children, even if not they originally made the pics. Or in case of naked photos, being fired, which does happen.

    Like

    • I don’t think these spy toys are new. I’ve been seeing them for years in those in-flight magazines that are distributed on airplanes.

      If somebody went to all this expense and trouble to film me naked, i’d consider them crazy since there is a lot of fresher bodies available for free and with zero effort online. 🙂 🙂

      Like

    • Yes, essentialism rules. 🙂 Words fail me to describe how much I detest these essentialist myths of all women being touchy-feely, communitarian, family-loving, ultra-sociable, non-competitive, non-violent creatures.

      I always end up concluding that, all evidence to the contrary notwithstanding, I must be a man.

      “Men commit far more violent crimes than women (about 90% of homicide and robbery offenders in the U.S. are men) but equality can dampen crime. “In more gender-egalitarian societies, there is much less crime by both women and men,” says Jennifer Schwartz of Washington State University, Department of Sociology. “And in those societies, the crime gap between women and men is somewhat larger, that is, women participate even less in crime.” – See more at: http://www.damemagazine.com/2013/05/10/five-things-we-know-about-societies-run-women#sthash.5N3bCrL1.dpuf

      Because the object where women unload their violent impulses is not considered worthy of being defended by law. That object is a child. While men pummel each other, women pummel children. The only difference is that the latter crime is applauded.

      Like

  28. Benoni on said:

    I finished my A levels this month with my Cold War history exam. I found something that surprised me in one of my revision guides when I was studying for the test – apparently the Helsinki Accords of 1975 introduced the Soviet citizenry to “previously unknown ideas of human freedom”. I can see how a Soviet citizen wouldn’t understand how capitalism works, but I’d assumed very simple ideas like the ones expressed at Helsinki, such as freedom of speech, would’ve occured naturally to most people at some point. I don’t want to make any assumptions about a place I’ll never get to see myself, though. But I just can’t imagine it being hard to see that arresting people for criticising the government is a bad thing. Am I being naive or is the author of my textbook being patronising?

    Like

    • I have to say that the author of the textbook is being extremely patronizing. By 1975, nobody over the age of 60 took the Communist regime seriously. Everybody who was into reading participated in the culture of Samizdat where people would reproduce the forbidden books and magazines manually and circulate them. Many people tuned into the BBC. My parents did all those things. The Soviet people idealized the extent such freedoms existed in the West but, of course, they were well-aware that freedom of speech was possible.

      “But I just can’t imagine it being hard to see that arresting people for criticising the government is a bad thing.”

      – By 1975, everybody criticized the government and almost nobody got arrested. You had to try really hard to get arrested for something like that. Of course, this criticism wasn’t done publicly but the cynicism about the regime was very wide-spread.

      Like

  29. Wirbelwind on said:

    Since cameras everywhere seem to lower crime, let’s install them at every house to combat domestic violence ! So sad.
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/jul/13/domestic-violence-private-matter-cctv

    Like

  30. Wirbelwind on said:

    If you thought that the previous article and its author were insane, take a look at this:
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/jul/23/open-borders-australia-asylum-seekers?commentpage=2

    Like

  31. Gaspar on said:

    I read your blog every day and love what you write. A friend sent me a link to this article. I was not impressed. Maybe I am missing something. What do you think of the arguments made in this article?

    http://www.christenacleveland.com/2013/03/listening-well-as-a-person-of-privilege-recognize-that-the-rules-are-different-for-you/

    Like

    • The link is highly entertaining, thank you. The sad part is that many people take this kind of thing completely seriously. This is why I warn people from the start that they keep the word “privilege” off my blog. There are many places where the privilege itch can be scratched but his isn’t one of them. 🙂

      Like

  32. Gaspar on said:

    Thank you! I know far too many people who take privilege-policing much too seriously; perhaps they aspire to be politicians or ministers of religion.

    Like

  33. I know that you are not a Pagan, but it occurred to me that you might like the analysis in this blog post. Would you prefer that I send such links by email rather than posting them here?

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/pointedlypagan/2013/08/the-pro-life-movements-hidden-subtext/

    Like

    • This is a great article! Thank you! I see comments a lot more often than the emails, and you can leave links in the comments to any post. I see them as they appear with the newest first, irrespective of how old the post is.

      Like

  34. http://worldtruth.tv/why-walt-disney-is-trying-to-corrupt-our-children-2/

    This is one of the silliest videos I have seen in a long time. Of course, subliminal images are everywhere, but so what?? It makes me wonder why the people who made it are so anti-sex.

    Like

  35. http://mattforney.com/2013/09/16/the-case-against-female-self-esteem/

    I thought this might amuse you. I have read few things so ridiculous.

    David

    Like

  36. The list of recent comments has disappeared. I have been wishing it was longer.

    Like

  37. Marša on said:

    hello…. i really want to know where i can download telenovela ROSA DIAMANTE (starting with Mauricio Ochman and Carla Hernandes). i really love this telenovela… and i want download it, but i dont know wher…. so please for help 🙂

    Like

  38. Evelina Anville on said:

    I am wondering if you have a response to this. I just read it and am sputtering mad. http://homeschooling.penelopetrunk.com/2013/11/15/we-are-all-teachers-which-is-why-we-dont-need-teachers/#more-5221

    Like

    • I don’t think that depriving children of socialization is a healthy response to their parents being immature and incapable of handling simple realities of daily existence. Taking the kids permanently out of school because of a cracker is insanity. It is also abusive.

      I’m very sad for the children of this bored and useless drama queen. Imagine what she puts them through at home if a single cracker provokes this enormous drama in her life. I tremble to think what happens when she breaks a nail.

      Like

      • 1 Milk, 1 Meat — What about Jews, who want to eat kosher and have to wait several hours between meat and milk? Will they require pig’s meat too soon, for a balanced diet? 🙂

        Like

  39. I am curious whether you are hopeful about the economic future of Ukraine. The massive protests remind me of the 1960’s here in the U. S.

    Like

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