Eleven years ago, an article in Wired magazine helped establish the reputation of Asperger's as "the geek syndrome." As the condition has become more prominent in the popular imagination, it has acquired a close association with computer technology. One could write a whole book on the relationship between Asperger's and cultural fascination with and anxiety about technology, but here I just want to begin to question and deconstruct that relationship.
Some big news broke recently involving the so-called "honor killing" of four women close to where I live, and the media coverage has just been troubling to say the least. A father, his eldest son, and his second wife have been convicted of first-degree murder in the slaying of three of their daughters and his first wife.
The fact of Geeti Shafia, Sahar Shafia, Zainab Shafia, and Rona Amir Mohammad’s deaths is an unmitigated tragedy. But its political meaning for the Western states whose resources are being funneled increasingly into surveillance and policing (domestically, through immigration and border services, and through imperial wars) is not self-evident.
Nor, perhaps, is its connection to the topic of youth, sexuality, and education, but let me tell you what I think about that.
One of my close friends pointed out when I began to write this series that I wouldn’t have the opportunity to explore a freelance writing career if I weren’t able to take risks with my own earnings. And she’s completely right. Bitch is wonderful, but as an independent, nonprofit publication, blogging for them doesn’t exactly pull in large amounts. If I had a family dependent upon my wages, I would have found a more traditional academic or salaried nonprofit job that allowed me to have a reliable income, but I probably wouldn’t have had time to write this series for this audience. At least in part, my current class privilege is what allows me to write about class privilege.
Valentine's Day is next week—a time for Occupying VDay, celebrating Galentine's Day, or, for the more traditional among us, spending lots of money on fancy cards and pink candy. While a polarizing event to be sure, Valentine's Day is, in its purest form, about love (and candy). What it is not about, at all, is stalking.
You know who missed the "stalking is not romantic in any way and therefore should not be included in any Valentine's Day paraphernalia" memo? LOTS OF PEOPLE.
There have been countless observations made here at Bitch and elsewhere about how the term “slut” has been used, abused, and reclaimed with varying degrees of success. In this post, I want to explore a topic that I’ve been having a lot of conversations about lately with a friend who works full time at my university. Her position happens to be managed by the undergraduates in the student government. She's said that while few undergrad students would raise their hands if asked “are you a feminist?,” many more seem to feel like the work of feminism is done and what they've taken away from it is a message of sexual empowerment and freedom. What I wonder about is how much this message is a product of second wave feminisms and how much it is a reflection of the rampant oversexualization of women in the media. My friend hears this version of empowerment in watercooler talk about whose "number" is higher and who "got" whom after the bar last night.
The Republican presidential candidates deservedly get a good amount of critical coverage due to the homophobic, racist, and misogynistic rhetoric that they seem to spout at every campaign stop. This election, though, is one of the first times in my memory that the candidates’ classism and profound oblivion regarding their own privilege have really taken center stage. While I’m sure there will be more gaffes to come, I’m wrapping up this series this week, and I thought a roundup of the more classist political soundbites might be a good parting gift.
Kids are indeed the future and so they're also the site of great moral panic. As more kids are skipping the closet, debate rages on about what is appropriate to "expose" young people to—which also raises the question of what is appropriate to acknowledge as already existing in young people's experiences. And because it is easier to recognize the specificity of queer sexuality, sociality, and familial forms in the face of unmarked mainstream culture—where hetero love stories provide the narrative framing for most cultural products—youth and non-normative sexuality are a fascinating and revealing combination. (Maybe my next post will be on why the Disney Princesses have made the "PC" leap to include a princess of color but won't be advertising a lesbian princess any time soon?) So in this series, I want to ask: How have discourses of sexuality and gender been transformed in the context of youth? Who gets to speak for kids? Where do young people receive their most influential messages about the values around sex, sexuality, and gender, and their proper performance?
You might be thinking about the price of diapers, health insurance, or preschool programs when trying to work out a rough answer. But don’t forget the $230 silver ballet shoes that your five year old will grow out of in a few months, or the $56 baby blanket, or the $500 bassinet.
There has been disagreement among researchers and diagnosticians about whether the two diagnostic labels really represent distinct conditions since Asperger syndrome first became its own recognized and "official" diagnostic category. There are multiple sets of diagnostic criteria for Asperger syndrome, but recently the criteria put forth in the APA's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual have been thrust into the spotlight. A proposed change to the upcoming DSM V would consolidate all of the diagnoses on the autism spectrum under a single diagnostic label, "autism spectrum disorder." In popular discourse and mainstream media outlets, the other conditions on the spectrum—childhood disintegrative disorder and PDD-NOS [pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified]—are completely erased. The focus is solely on "classic" autism and Asperger syndrome, and the proposed consolidation of the two labels has given rise to fierce controversy and even panic.
The problem, though, is that the filmmakers seem to misdirect the anger. As upsetting as it is to see corporations (some of which were bailed out with federal funds) avoid their taxes, the problem is that what they’re doing is legal. Most corporations aren’t breaking any laws by using these tax havens—in fact, they have an obligation to their stockholders to protect their investments, and using tax havens is a highly effective way of doing that. Corporations are not going to voluntarily pay more taxes, and a high corporate tax rate that’s unavoidable will likely just cause them to do business elsewhere. The problem isn’t with them; the problem is in the tax code.