Happy feminist Friday!
It's been a long week here at PolicyMic. After the final presidential debate on Monday night, pretty much everyone in the office felt roughly like this:
Oh, wait, I'm sorry, that's kind of how we felt during the debate too. Really, my only amusement came from trying to figure out why gender equality had suddenly become part of Romney's foreign policy platform when I swear I had never heard him utter the words 'gender equality' before.
(Note: I would love it if PolicyMic readers fact checked me on this. I considered trying to sift through all his campaign materials to prove that it's true, but I don't have the time or the statistical software to do so.)
But somehow, we soldiered on through Monday, only to be greeted with Akin 2.0 on Tuesday night. It all seems so familiar that at this point, I'm definitely suffering from Republican rape outrage fatigue.
As Maureen O'Connor puts it at NYMag, "We have gotten really efficient at covering these things. But why? Are we having the same conversation again and again because we're not getting anywhere with it? ... Or is it a ritual, like walking the stations of the cross or performing a choreographed dance? We enter the process already knowing how it will end, but we do it anyway because, like all rituals, it's largely symbolic and exists so participants can announce their memberships in various tribes."
You'll have to bear with me this week, because my obsession with narratives, and particularly social justice narratives, is shining through in my reading material.
At my favorite literary blog, the Rumpus, Steve Almond interviews conservatives. Says Almond, "The left and right in this country are growing more isolated—and therefore alienated — from one another. Ask yourself: How many of my friends/acquaintances hail from across the aisle?
"My intention was to allow conservatives to speak for themselves. I interviewed a bunch, and chose three voices that struck me as representative. My not-so-secret hope was to dig beneath the binary dogma — to unearth the hopes that might unite us. I was after solace.
"That I failed, and so abjectly, should occasion any number of emotions. At the bottom of them all is helplessness."
It's a fascinating read.
At Color Lines, Julianne Hing interviews Janet Mock, one of the editors for People.com, who came out as a transgender woman in Marie Claire last year. Mock says some amazing things about narratives of trans people in the media, including the following:
"When I told my story I was coming at it as a media insider, so I understood how to communicate it so my story was told in the way that reflected me. But at the same time it still went to old tropes, it still got caught up in that because [the magazine] … had done trans stories before and that was how it was for the last one so that’s how it must be for you as well. So it’s also about having the inner confidence as a media subject to say: No, that’s not how you should tell it."
In addition to being a feminist, I am also (shockingly!) an NPR listener, and a hard-core data/research/journalism geek. Yes, I did put this book on hold at the New York Public Library after reading an excerpt on fact checking at the New Yorker over at the Columbia Journalism review. And yes, I will read it right after I finish Library: An Unquiet History. Although I am no longer working at the circulation desk as I did in college, I am a librarian at heart.
And, like many others, I was upset about this episode of RadioLab when I heard it. In "Yellow Rain," Robert Krulwich and Pat Walters spoke with Eng Yang, a Hmong man from a tiny village in Laos who experienced the phenoemon of yellow rain in the '70s, as his niece Kao Kalia Yang translated, an exchange which ended leaving producers and listeners alike "profoundly troubled." They were heavily critiqued for their handling of the interview.
This week, at Hyphen, Kalia Yang shared her and her uncle's experiences with RadioLab.
"There is a great imbalance of power at play. From the get-go you got to ask the questions. I sent an email inquiring about the direction the interview would go, where you were headed — expressing to you my concern about the treatment of my uncle and the respect with which his story deserves. You never responded to the email. I have it and I can forward it to you if you'd like. During the course of the interview, my uncle spent a long time explaining Hmong knowledge of bees in the mountains of Laos, not the hills of Thailand, but the mountains of Laos. You all edited it out. Robert Krulwich has the gall to say that I 'monopolize' — he who gets to ask the questions, has control over editing, and in the end: the final word. Only an imperialist white man can say that to a woman of color and call it objectivity or science. I am not lost on the fact that I am the only female voice in that story, and in the end, that it is my uncle and I who cry ... as you all laugh on."
And, finally, it's nearly Halloween, otherwise known as my favorite holiday, despite how ridiculously sexist pre-made Halloween costumes for women are, not to mention how ridiculously racist Halloween costumes can be.
But don't be depressed! Watch this video instead.
Did I miss things in the feminist blogosphere this week? Leave the links in the comments, and happy Halloween!