/Tag: culture

Bad girls, good.

At root of the treatment of Lewinsky, Harding, Hill, and Bobbitt is good old fashioned misogyny, inflected with complicated mixes of racism, exoticism, puritanism, and classism. But that’s also the history of treatment for basically anyone in America. What distinguishes their treatment is its intersection with postfeminism: the idea that began to take hold in the late ‘80s, enduring through the mid ‘00s, that we, as a society, were “beyond” the need for feminism. Feminism had done its work, in other words — Women could have credit cards! There was Cosmopolitan! Women were in the workplace! — and was no longer necessary. In place of feminism, there was “girl power” (think Spice Girls) and “commodity feminism,” e.g. the idea that one’s ability to buy things was tantamount to liberation (see: Pretty Woman).


When we reconsider Lorena [Bobbitt] — and Anita Hill, and Tonya Harding, and Monica Lewinsky — part of what we are reconsidering is postfeminism in general. I remember, when I first learned about postfeminism as a concept, feeling like it had unlocked so much of my youth: Oh, that’s why it wasn’t cool to be a feminist! That’s what’s going on in Pretty Woman! That’s why I never liked the Spice Girls but could never articulate why! That’s why Sex and the City is so ideologically confused!

Anne Helen Petersen on post-postfeminism.

One of those “right in the feels” essays for those of us who grew up female and confused in the ’90s and ’00s…

2019-02-12T16:00:42+10:001st August, 2019|Tags: culture|

Universal comfort.

And not all biases are as obvious or culturally insidious. Maybe you just think no one under 21 should ever be depicted or mentioned as having sex because you’re under 21 and find the idea of sex incredibly distressing. And you’re allowed to find it distressing! No one should ever coerce you into having sex before you’re ready, whether that happens when you’re 17, 27, 97, or never! But if someone writes a YA novel where they draw on their own experiences of losing their virginity at 17, and it makes you uncomfortable – they are not sexualizing you. That YA author has no idea you, as an individual, exist. Instead of leaping to that explanation for why you find yourself uncomfortable, consider the chance that what you’re actually reacting to is someone portraying the experience of being a teenager in a way that you don’t identify completely with, and being challenged with the non-universality of your experience is what’s making you uncomfortable. 

‘Lena on universality.

I think this is a really interesting way of framing this conversation, particularly because it explicitly states that reactionary fandom anti “discomfort”1 with media—despite usually being framed in “woke” language—is coming from exactly the same damn place as white boys who get mad about girls and people of color in “their” A Star War (or whatever).

  1. See also: people unironically using the word “comfy” to describe media, which is both a huge red flag and massive berserk button for me. Yay!
2019-02-07T13:23:24+10:0024th July, 2019|Tags: culture, pop culture|

If everybody looked the same…

Why is everything—from website to cafes—suddenly starting to look exactly the same? And is it even a problem if it does?

2019-02-05T14:43:38+10:0020th July, 2019|Tags: culture, design|


Let’s dig into “gravitas,” because it’s an ambiguous word, selectively applied. Ever wonder how expression that’s feminine, working-class, queer, or POC isn’t deemed as having “gravitas”, but talking like an Aaron Sorkin character does? Men have “gravitas,” women get “likeable.”

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on words.

Ocasio-Cortez is specifically namedropping Sorkin here because she’s saying this in response to some of his dipshit comments. Also, The West Wing is still a bad show and that’s a take I will now and forever stand by.

2019-04-29T12:06:40+10:0016th July, 2019|Tags: culture, politics|

The purity cost.

So what did happen to all those girls who signed “purity plegdes” back ten or twenty years ago? If you’re thinking “probably nothing good” then… yeah, basically. But possibly not in the way you’re imagining…

2019-02-05T10:58:16+10:0014th July, 2019|Tags: culture|


But I’m struck by how one primary reason a fiasco like Fyre Festival could happen, or indeed how many of the worst aspects of influencer culture can happen, is because of the very real emotional effect of the Fear of Missing Out. It’s especially true because FOMO is a designed, intentional result of using most modern social media apps.


The stakes are so much higher now then back when we just worried that social media would make us feel bad about missing a party. Yes, that’s still a cause of stress, but far worse is social media enabling grifters to profiteer off of innocent people’s credulity. How can we fret about missing our friends when the emotional manipulation of social apps has warped every institution in our entire culture?

Anil Dash on missing out.

2019-07-31T09:39:47+10:0013th July, 2019|Tags: culture, social media, tech|

Young Tumblr Brown.

If you come to believe that you know the truth about someone or that you know their “real” self, then there is nothing else to learn. There is no need to listen or to observe. You can assume that every argument is conducted in bad faith. There can, in fact, be no dialogue at all. Conversation is altogether precluded.


We are thus tempted simultaneously, and somewhat paradoxically, to believe that those we encounter online are necessarily involved in an inauthentic identity game and that we are capable of ascertaining the truth about them, even on the slimmest of evidence. […] Or, to put it another way, we believe we know the truth about everyone and the truth we know is that there is no truth to be known. So our public sphere takes on not a cynical quality, but a nihilistic one.

L. M. Sacasas on the Discourse.

I’m somewhat torn about this article, as well as the essay that it references about “the unmasking style” in arguments.1 On the one hand, I think understanding “the unmasking style”—understanding that it’s even A Thing—is really critical in understanding certain manifestations of Arguing On The Internet and okay I’m going to say fandom antis. I mean I think it’s useful in understanding fandom antis (among others).

But, on the other hand… a lot of Arguing On The Internet really is conducted in incredibly bad faith. And assuming good faith in those situations isn’t just futile but can be actively dangerous. So… yeah.

I don’t really have a pithy conclusion or an action list or whatever to solve this apparent paradox, incidentally. Just… these things. They exist.

  1. Which, again, I think is interesting reading but have issues with on… numerous grounds, really, not the least being the author is one of the sorts of people who’d unironically put scare-quotes around the word “microaggressions” while simultaneously utterly failing to comprehend what they actually are.
2019-02-04T13:22:54+10:0011th July, 2019|Tags: culture, social media|