Thursday Link Dump

Clever Manka, · Categories: Thursday Link Dump

ELLE magazine’s article on Missy Elliott

Missy Elliott’s work doesn’t deny death, or poverty, or bad times, but it pushes for recovery. In her most recent single, “I’m Better (feat. Lamb),” which was released in January, the chorus circles around and gets repeated with a robotic flow: “I’m better, I’m better, I’m better / It’s another day, another chance / I wake up, I wanna dance / So as long as I got my friends /…I’m better, I’m better, I’m better.” This is not a boast from her to her fans; it is a mantra to them from her, even if there is a self-help quality to it. What matters more is that it feels determined, and that is what her fans depend on her to provide—the good news.

I cut my group commenting (and gif-ing) teeth in the LJ community ontd_p (oh no they didn’t-political) and the conversations there about body hair were always Very Interesting. I wonder what they would make of this article.

My husband and I spent our Valentine’s Day evening in couples’ therapy talking about my leg hair. We’d been working toward becoming an “optimally erotic couple” for months, but I’d inadvertently thrown a wrench into our progress by letting my political views into our bedroom. It turned out I wasn’t the only one who had assimilated centuries’ worth of images about what a sexy woman is supposed to look like.

Men aren’t “better” at taking risks (it’s just that simply existing is risk enough for most of those who aren’t cis white men).

The Establishment serves up a fine piece damning academia, specifically the persistent failure of white imagination

When institutions from primary school onward amplify white-centered stories and histories as the only “great” art, it becomes easier to imagine zombies in an Austen landscape before people of color can be inserted therein. When non-white voices and stories are erased — or, worse, in their rare depictions, consistently presented as less than, negative, or one-dimensional — white people are rendered incapable of imagining people of color as fully human, complex, and equal to themselves, living lives just as rich as (if not richer than) the white experience.

I have never purchased something based solely on an advertisement nor have I ever (to my knowledge) been influenced to purchase something impulsively from an ad. If these were real ads, I don’t know that I’d be able to say that.

Getting healthy is hard (and time-consuming and exhausting and seemingly never-ending)

I have learned the tricky part of being healthy is to keep on sustaining good practices of health even when I am feeling great. Feeling the most well is most dangerous for me, because that is when I decide I can skip that exercise, eat more dessert, work a little harder and longer.

Citizen Science: because goodness knows the U.S. government isn’t “accelerating innovation” on its own anymore!

Why it’s necessary to go beyond just representation in fandom and media

Escapism isn’t truly escapism when you keep finding the same microaggressions, erasure, and stereotypes in the stories you love and are trying to escape into, and we ignore this truth at our peril because it’s never “just a story.”

While we’re on the topic of fandom, I’ll quietly haul out another article that subtly articulates why I hate the term “trash” when applied to fans-of-the-thing. Stop using that term, fandom. It is not yours to use or reclaim.

You don’t let any more Nazis in, and I won’t be making a scene.” Georgetown professor C. Christine Fair is a hero for our times.

Enrollment isn’t enough. Women need mentors in STEM.

In a year-long study—one of the strongest yet to look at the value of mentorship—Dasgupta showed that female engineering undergraduates who are paired with a female mentor felt more motivated, more self-assured, and less anxious than those who had either no mentor or a male one. They were less likely to drop out of their courses, and keener to look for engineering jobs after they graduated. “Often, science is messy and things don’t turn out neatly,” Dasgupta says. But in this study, “it was very gratifying how clean the results were.”

85 Responses to “Thursday Link Dump”

  1. meat_lord says:

    Thinkin' about body hair now.

    The first woman I met who didn't shave her legs was in college. Her grasp of personal hygiene wasn't great, which may account for some of why I found her leg hair gross. But despite my initial, visceral disgust (which totally went against my feminist beliefs), I wanted to be supportive of her choices–and by the end of college, I'd mostly stopped shaving, myself.

    I wonder if I'd feel differently about letting my hair grow if I was a cis woman. I still get the "woman-looking person with visible body hair= what??" response, but … it's not a gender-threatening experience to me, if that makes sense.

    • Doc_Paradise says:

      I still get the "woman-looking person with visible body hair= what??" response, but … it's not a gender-threatening experience to me, if that makes sense.

      Yeah. Same here.

    • CleverManka says:

      That does make sense, yeah, and what an interesting aspect of the experience. I'm sure there's a collection of essays out there by trans and non-binary people and their relationships with body hair. If there isn't, there really should be. Body hair is Such A Topic and conversations about it run in the weirdest ways sometimes.

      If you don't mind, I'd like to use this as a comment thread for body hair if others want to join in?

    • Faintlymacabre says:

      The body hair article triggers so many memories and feelings for me. I remember exactly when I stated shaving my legs- my brother was engaged to a woman- they were late teens, I was in my early teens, and I disliked her intensely (my instincts turned out to be correct, but at the time, all I knew was that I 100% did not want to be like her and had no factual reason to pin it on). One day she made an offhand remark about how I didn't shave my legs, just like her. That night- shaved my legs.

    • CleverManka says:

      Thanks, meat_lord for inviting a comment thread on body hair.

      As an extremely pale woman with a lot of black hair, I started thinking about body hair when I was eight years old and boys made fun of the hair on my legs. Eight. Eight years old. I immediately stopped wearing shorts without knee-length socks (luckily this was the mid-70s so it wasn't such an outrageous fashion choice). Once my mom finally let me have a razor (sixth grade), I shaved my legs damn near every day. I'm not as maniacal about it now, but it's a rare week where I don't shave twice.

      Because the ridiculous side effect of such fastidious shaving is that now I can't stand the feeling of anything (socks, stockings, tights, pants legs, even sheets) against my legs when they have hair. I had to stop shaving for a few weeks after the hysterectomy (I couldn't manage to hold the any of the physical poses necessary) and I honestly lost sleep because of the discomfort from the friction with the sheets. There's the possibility I might be able to eventually get over it, but I can't afford to sacrifice the sleep for six (or more) weeks.

      I started getting electrolysis on my upper lip after boys in 7th grade made fun of my already-impressive facial hair. Those genes and social indoctrination are still strong, though, because I still have to depilate my upper lip, chin, and cheeks at least once a month.

      Fucking body hair issues, I swear.

      • Heathered says:

        Is it right to comment here or am I squashing the thread? I remember the Toast "every comment" piece really airing out my thinking about this because I was able to laugh at people's strident insistence on there being one right way to do it. My parents (I mean, this would fall to my mom, but neither of them stepped up) seemed to think I would learn about things like personal body care via osmosis, which meant I learned about them from hearing classmates discuss who was ugly or not. I shaved with no soap the first time because I didn't know any better, and it was hellacious. Now I have to do it once a month or so or it gets too itchy to live, but I wish it had been one of those learning/bonding experiences with *someone* rather than a private shamefest.

        • CleverManka says:

          Sure! Here or directly to meat_lord is just fine (although they might not want the comment notifications?).

          Poor little you, shaving with no soap or shaving cream and the first time, too! *pats the you-that-was*

      • RoseCamelia says:

        Not as fair as you, oh fairest and cleverest Manka, but I also have light skin and dark hair heritage. I also received my first leg hair teasing at age 8. However, my mother showed me how to shave my legs that very night. I then shaved daily, by choice, or so I thought, until my late 30s. So much wasted time & effort.

        Mid-30s I began to grow an impressive goatee of bristles. Not soft hair, thick bristles. I was horrified and ashamed. This was a very lean time for me financially, so I spent hours plucking. Every night. Hours. Crying and plucking. For over 10 years.

        Then a few years ago I reached a financial situation in which I no longer feared homelessness. I immediately found an electrologist. I drove 90 minutes, one-way, every 6 weeks to spend painful but hopeful hours with her.

        3.5 years later my face is bristle-free.

        But I can now achieve Leg Hair Don't Care attitude, though I still shave my legs when I plan to wear shorts or a skirt. Sometimes I forget to shave, but expose my legs anyway. And I'm proud to go sleeveless with dense, dark armpit hair, showing young girls in this conformity culture that they have choices.

        So this cis-woman still feels panic at the thought of facial hair, but feels free about other body hair. I don't understand it. I welcome speculation, advice, questions.

        • CleverManka says:

          I have no advice because obviously I'm in the same boat. I'm getting the Woman Of A Certain Age bristly hairs, too, and I hate them. *sigh* So no speculation but plenty of solidarity!

        • Fancy_Pants says:

          Yeah, I wrote a big manifesto below about how I stopped shaving my legs and am all easy-breezy about it. But you better believe I pluck my chin hairs and get my moustache waxed on the regular.

          I don't know why! I just know that I feel *right* with leg hair and *horrified* with facial hair. Maybe because we spend so much more time looking at faces? There was a video going around recently about a lady who wears a full, dark beard, and it was gorgeous and I wonder if there were more images like that around if we'd freak out less about our facial hair.

          • meat_lord says:

            I definitely think that if there were…any images in pop culture of women with facial hair that weren't mocking, attitudes would be different.

          • Onymous says:

            Yeah I mean the "bearded lady" is a circus attraction. The "hairy forearmed lady" might not be a thing on Vogue but she's also at worst 'patty down the street with three kids who will thump you one good if you piss her off'

            The beardless man meanwhile is an oxymoron (I mean we can shave but the possibility is a requisite for manhood)

          • kkw says:

            There's totally a character in Tolstoy who's a fascinating beauty at least in part because of her moustache, and it was so hard for me to wrap my head around, and I've always been secretly ashamed of my difficulty envisioning her. I am so here for more/any representation of this. (I personally have a great relationship with my body hair, thank you hippie parents, but not with my facial hair, fuck you patriarchy.)

        • vladazhael says:

          Similar. I shave my legs if and only if I damn well feel like it, but damned if I'm not paranoid about turning into Tom Selleck if I don't take to my face with tweezers on the regular.

          But the I also shave my armpits on a fairly femme-standard schedule.

          I don't know. I think as long as you can sit down with yourself every once in a while and check that your reasons for doing whatever you want to do are *yours* and not someone else's, and also give yourself the freedom to change things if and when you need to, you're okay.

        • Xolandra says:

          I have had those face hairs for always, see below re: electrolysis and laser. i also hates them with the fiery passion of a thousand sun, and will lase them until my dying day.

        • meat_lord says:

          I'm so sorry about your years of crying and plucking. That sounds awful.

          Honestly, I might panic about facial hair too, despite not being a cis woman; I don't know yet. (I hope it feels right to me when it comes in, if only because then I won't have to worry about removing it.)

      • Kazoogrrl says:

        I haven't thought about this in a long time! Most of my body hair is light and slow growing. I shape my brows a bit, shave my armpits weekly because I prefer the feeling (I prefer shaved pits on men, too) though when I tried to grow it out it didn't come in thick enough for my preference. I shave my legs every few weeks, I found it actually helps control ingrown hairs from wearing pants. The only place I really give a damn about shaving is my bikini line, and I may start to get that waxed. I don't mind if guys shave too, I have an ex who did it for a while. This may all be societal programming, but I can also be sensitive to textures and I find how I feel about body hair can overlap with that.

    • Fancy_Pants says:

      I am SO EXCITED to talk about leg hair you guys! I stopped shaving my legs regularly, oooh, probably 5 years ago and only shaving if I had a wedding to go to (in a short dress). Then I figured, why undertake such a big project for just one day, and stopped shaving entirely at least 3 years ago. I have a particular memory of attending a cousin's fancy shmancy cape cod wedding in a short pink dress with a luscious mane of leg hair. And no one cared! Or at least no one commented.

      My hairy leg journey has been 100% positive, thanks to (1) medium-light body hair, (2) running with a liberal hipster crowd, and (3) an extremely chill and non-fragile male partner. He really hates leg stubble (understandably), but doesn't super care about soft leg hair vs. smooth legs. All the (few) comments I've ever gotten about it have been from women, along the lines of "I love that you don't shave your legs!"

      I'm so grateful that it's been NBD for me, because I started feeling really uncomfortable with shaved legs around the time I was shaving once or twice a year for weddings. It just feels and looks WRONG to me, personally, to have shaved legs (on my legs, it looks very nice on other people). So it was never a political statement, so much as a necessary expression of my androgyny.

      • CleverManka says:

        My hairy leg journey has been 100% positive
        What a happy-making phrase!

      • Lee Thomson says:

        I feel lucky to be in your camp as well, and it was aggravation and inertia that pushed me there. I realized I was so pissed off I "had" to shave my legs for a cousin's wedding that I only shaved the fronts of my shins and at that point I realized I cared not one whit and stopped everything.

        Although I will go after a bristly chin hair because otherwise I will flick it for hours and it drives me mad. And if I can see my mustache I'll yank out one or two hairs that are within view and then leave the rest.

        But yes – 100% positive, propelled by lackadasical

        • CleverManka says:

          I will go after a bristly chin hair because otherwise I will flick it for hours
          As I was reading this comment I noticed I was doing this with one of those and am immediately off to the bathroom to pluck it.

    • Xolandra says:

      O HAI. I also have body hair, and i also depilate. I have done laser, electrolysis, and shaving; sugar and wax are too ouchy for my tastes.

      I have weird skin, so I shave once a week, twice in the summer time. I have never managed to not shave; I think that part of the reason that I haven't is because of the ritual that surrounds shaving for me; I get a nice long bath, smooth skin, lotsa lotion, and generally a nap afterwards. But when I left the house this morning, I definitely shaved because I was wearing something that would show my legs. So, you know. It can be both, right?

      Know what I don't depilate? Literally anything else. I stopped shaving my pits on the regular (ie, more than once a month) two summers ago, when i got into natural deodorant, and it has been AMAZING. I smell less, and my armpits aren't irritated and itchy. I still shave every now and then, but I also wear sleeveless tops out dancing fairly regularly and literally no one has ever said anything about it. In fact, the only person who has ever squicked about my unshaved pits is me; a friend had a photo booth at a wedding, and i went to take a pic with my arms up and wen "whoops, nope, not that, not right now!". I may still regret not having taken that picture, tbh.

      it occurred to me that depilation was all about control. Picking off vulnerable strands of keratin one by one had become almost like dieting: a compulsion that allowed me to retain some semblance of mastery over my body. I might have to sit with this for a bit.

      Re: gender presentation and body hair, i read a book once (The Leather Daddy and the Femme, it is VERY NOT SAFE FOR WORK, FOLKS) that described an NB character as not genderless so much as vacillating between genders, sometimes presenting one and sometimes presenting the other. Seeing long leg hair on otherwise female-presenting humans does this for me. Which is weird, because masc-presenting humans shave too, and hairless masc legs don't do the same thing for me, personally. I wonder wherein lies the difference?

    • mowinda says:

      I still shave my legs because I like the way it feels but I stopped shaving my armpits (well, I still kind of trim them because it can get out of control under there) and it's the one thing that my mom does not understand about "you kids today." She doesn't care about me doing traditionally feminine things almost all of the time but not shaving the armpits and using a menstrual cup are both beyond the pale for her.

      I still feel weird in some formal settings having unshaved armpits but I feel weird in most formal settings so it's fine. And I feel like I sweat way less and I like the way it looks.

      That said, I have out of control chin hairs that I hate with a fiery passion.

    • meat_lord says:

      FWIW, I never really felt pressured to shave my bits (perhaps this is because I avoid dating or having sex with straight men…?) I've tried shaving my bikini area just to see what it's like and what it's like is ITCHY OH MY GOD. Not my cup of tea.

  2. Rillquiet says:

    Yesterday Code Switch posted another great episode, this one about the slavery story that ran in The Atlantic. It doesn't offer easy answers, and it's well worth the half-hour listen.

  3. Fancy_Pants says:

    Staying healthy really is the hard part. I think culturally we have such an achievement mentality, that we like to frame everything as a journey with an ending. Like people talk about their "weight loss journeys" or their "mental health recovery" like it's a thing they accomplished and got the shiny medal for and are DONE with.

    The real challenge is maintenance, and it never ends. You need to sleep 9 hours *every* night, you need to carve out an hour for exercise *every* day, you need protein at *every* meal, and maybe you'll need to spend an entire day on the couch *every* other week. And that's way less glamourous because it doesn't feel like progress. It's just stewardship, which we tend not to celebrate.

    • CleverManka says:

      And that's way less glamourous because it doesn't feel like progress. It's just stewardship, which we tend not to celebrate.

      There's an amazing essay in there, just sayin' if you ever feel like writing it.

    • Xolandra says:

      I call it fleshprison maintenance. Consider the following usage:

      GentlemanX: what did you get up to tonight?
      Xolandra: o, you know. ate, a little yoga, flossed my teeth. You know, fleshprison maintenance.

    • damngoodcoffee says:

      This is so freaking spot on. I'm working on it but I am NOT great at it, by any means.

  4. Xolandra says:

    I have so much to read rn! But before I do, friends, this is OT and not LR, but I NEED TO TELL SOMEBODY and I think y'all may appreciate this: I just got back from my lunchtime stitch n bitch where I am working on the body for my alien facehugger, and I looked at my project and was like "this looks like… something else, hur hur hur" and my stitch n bitch buddy was like "that's not what that looks like, what even would anyone DO with something that size?" and I had NO IDEA WHAT TO SAY. Like. I made non-committal noises and moved the conversation along with "I feel like we just learned something about each other this lunch hour"

  5. vladazhael says:

    I started my Thursday morning linkscapades early and plunged down the Medium rabbit hole, wherein I found this, which has made it imperative that I go home and watch The Love Witch this very night: https://medium.com/mtvnews/female-gaze-lana-del-r… (Bonus points: my long-distance crush has already seen it, and enjoyed it, and is certain I will as well. This guy… I like him.)

  6. Xolandra says:

    Aw yissssss, that risk taking article is amazing, and feeds into another of my personal bees: EVO PSYCH IS NOT SCIENCE. Any discipline that looks at society and says "how does my boner explain this?" IS NOT SCIENCE.

    • vladazhael says:

      Any discipline that looks at society and says "how does my boner explain this?" IS NOT SCIENCE.

      brb, embroidering a pillow…

    • mowinda says:

      This is one of my THINGS too but every time I try to explain why it makes me so mad I just end up shaking my fists at the sky while someone explains to me how they read a self help book that justifies why everyone's husband wants to cheat on them. AHHHHH

      • Xolandra says:

        Well. If communication skills were at all worthwhile masc genders would have selected for it, but as it turns out communication is really just a subterfuge to prevent my boner from getting into attractive (note: the definition of attractive = beautiful = ppl I want to put my boner in and is not historically or societally dependent, nope NOPE) people so although it SEEMS like it might have been a good thing for men to develop (you know, for increased odds at delivering a deep dicking) "just grab em by the pussy" is so much more effective and THEREFORE CHANGE NOTHING BECAUSE SCIENCE.

        Sorry. I get a little worked up.

        • mowinda says:

          I remember reading a study in a social psych class about how they had thought that when choosing partners men choose attractiveness first and women choose wealth first as desirable traits but then they tried to replicate it in other countries and in countries where women had more power (I'm guessing measured by equality of opportunity and access to stuff like abortion) the effect disappeared and both women and men rated attractiveness first.

    • meat_lord says:

      Evo psych is the fucking worst and I loathe it.

  7. Onymous says:

    MISSY.

  8. Onymous says:

    also I appreciate that it's in quotes and all but “optimally erotic couple” Maybe it's because I've never even been part of a "nominally erotic couple" but… nope, just straight nopetopus on that, I can't even quite put my finger on it besides the implied self negation of it but I appear to be having an allergic reaction to the phrase,

    • Xolandra says:

      One does wonder who defines "optimal"…

    • Fancy_Pants says:

      Working on optimizing your sexuality seems like, oh I don't know, internalizing the very worst of late-stage capitalism, as all the cool kids are saying.

      Maybe just have…fun? It's supposed to be fun yes?

      • CleverManka says:

        But, but, but it's only fun if you're doing it optimally!

        • Fancy_Pants says:

          Oh god, what if I'm not having the maximum amount of fun I could be having? What if other people are eroticizing better than me?

          I gotta go make a spreadsheet and a gant chart!

      • Onymous says:

        I am a very firm believer in the Chesterton quote of "anything worth doing is worth doing poorly": If it's not worth doing without​ 10000 hours of practice then it's not happening.

    • meat_lord says:

      There's something so depressing and unsexy about having to optimize something that's primal and fun and fluid and communicative and imperfect.

  9. Lee Thomson says:

    I love you all

    that is all

  10. vladazhael says:

    YOU GUYS. I found this masterpiece of shade right here: http://www.mtv.com/news/2994473/did-a-man-write-t

    • CleverManka says:

      oh my goddddddddddddddd

    • meat_lord says:

      "As I slip an apron over her mane of chocolate-brown hair, for which Pantene has paid her millions, and tie it around her tiny waist, I wonder whether her legions have felt for years the same sharp pang of protectiveness that I’m feeling at present. Even as she projects strength and self-assuredness, Gomez is not stingy with frailty."

      KILL IT WITH FIRE.

      You know, it shouldn't surprise me at all any more that men can and will turn the most extraordinary and talented women into one-dimensional masturbatory fantasies even when they're supposed to be engaging deeply with their personhood… but the lengths to which dudes/Rob Haskell takes this blows my damn mind. Ugh,

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