Hey hi helloooo,
This week’s Hot Take-Aways is a little different. I didn’t include the What’s New section, because there were a couple bigger topics to discuss this week, and I wanted to give them lots of room.
Speaking of room… when did Untucked get a budget, girl? What was that! I kind of loved the new Untucked, even though it felt very pandering to straight viewers. Season 10 of Drag Race is off to an exciting start, and that’s all I’ve say about that.
Anyway! Here are your hot take-aways for the week of March 23, 2018:
If you read nothing else this week:
- The Story Behind Jordan Peterson’s Indigenous Identity (The Walrus) — Robert Jago has the receipts on-hand to read everyone’s favourite fascist philosopher to filth!!!
- I Learned to Shoot an Assault Rifle — At My Jewish Youth Group (The Forward) — contributor Madeline Winard lays out the inherent contradictions of a “progressive except for Palestine” position; how can one support gun control while supporting the Israeli occupation?
- If Lawmakers Want To Protect Sex Workers, They Must Listen To Us (HuffPo) — Ty Mitchell argues that this anti-sex work bill (which passed the American Senate this week) is premised on a fundamental refusal to listen to sex workers. It’s been in law for less than a week, and it has already shown itself to be a nightmare.
On Cambridge Analytica
The Cambridge Analytica Con by Yasha Levine for The Baffler (link)
This is the biggest story of the week, and it’s not exactly easy to make sense of at first. Yasha Levine does a good job of explaining the story of Cambridge Analytica and the Facebook data scraping that helped elect Donald Trump, and then moves swiftly onto a takedown of how and why this is actually frighteningly unremarkable. The language is clear, precise, and emotional, and the context he provides is really useful. I would strongly recommend this piece for a bigger sort of perspective on exactly how fucked we are due to increasingly broadened collusion between predatory capitalism and the state (even if they don’t fully embrace the anti-capitalist angle as much as I think they should).
They Didn’t Even Need to Hack Facebook by Branko Marcetic for Jacobin (link)
Marcetic also does a sharp job of explaining this news story and providing additional context. He argues that we absolutely should be outraged and resistant to this kind of unfettered violation of privacy — but we should be rising up even when it’s not for political purposes. Facebook, Google, et al. are consistent violators of privacy in pretty much every way imaginable, and they turn those violations into selling opportunities that affect our political choices every day. This is a broader issue than just the election.
Nonetheless, this article (like so much of what I read from Jacobin) left me wanting more. I wanted to know, What does this mean for activists under surveillance? What does this mean for those in the Global South? What does this say about the propensity for capitalists to affect political outcomes? What does this tell us about the power of capital in dictating politics? There are bigger questions here, and I wish the author had engaged with them substantively.
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On “Women and Femmes”
Why the Popular Phrase “Women and Femmes” Makes No Sense by Kesiena Boom for Slate (link)
People had complicated feelings about this article. Overall, I think the argument is very strong in that way that comes from someone with an academic background, and a grounding in class analysis. Boom has picked the perfect examples to show the misapplication of “women and femmes,” and she cuts out any extraneous info that might complicate her point (even at the risk of leaving things out).
Still, there’s cause for greater discussion. When I shared this article, my friends Xaelah and Steve talked about how something in it felt off. Taking the focus off of perception and subjective reading doesn’t do much for those whose bodies (and thus, genders) are regularly policed in public space even if they are cisgender; it can be argued that critiquing “femme” as a whole, in highly specific contexts, and without offering an alternative, undermines a more realistic discourse of gender as it impacts Black and Brown people, who experience the material consequences of gender differently than privileged white bodies. Should we be attacking “femmes” as it’s used? Or should we be recognizing that “woman” is not as binary as it’s made out to be, and that words like “femmes” allow us to contain the complexity of this category without assigning gender to folks without their consent?
Women and Femmes Unite: a Structural and Political Analysis of Femininity by B. B. Buchanan for Wear Your Voice Mag (link)
This piece is a follow-up to the previous one, by B. B. Buchanan. In many ways, I think it’s valuable, but I didn’t think it was the article it should have been. Most of my issue with it honestly comes down to the editing; this is an important discussion, and it requires clear and concise writing, but you can tell from the first paragraph that the editor took a hands-off approach. The author has a strong point to make, but the editor needed to challenge them to develop it further and engage more directly with the Slate piece.
Words have meanings, but those meanings change. It would be better to discuss what we mean when we talk about “femme,” and to contextualize that vs. the many variations on the term seen in various queer spaces, rather than to just dismiss it as incoherent. The way the term is currently used makes it seem like we’re talking about a fem gay man and a transfem person and a nonbinary femme and a trans woman and a cis woman and a fem(me) lesbian (cis or trans) simultaneously — which may be the case, but then we ought to think about where that makes sense, and where it doesn’t, why that is. It’s also necessary to ask where this discourse leaves others who are impacted by misogyny, especially those who are not protected by whiteness (such as Black and Brown butches).
Gender discourse is exhausting. Give those pieces a read and tell me what you think.
OK!!!! If this was your first time viewing Hot Take-Aways, we’ll be back to the regular format next week. And as always, if you’re not already signed up for the newsletter, you’re missing out on weekly emails with additional content right in your inbox. Sign up here to get in on it.
Have a good weekend, comrades. Stay safe out there.