Quick Hits

So I’ve just spent five days traveling for a two-day trip (thanks, thunderstorms at JFK!) and I’m in that late-summer community college crunch, with a pile of papers to grade on one end of my desk and three syllabi to write on the other. Hence the silence over the past few days. But if I did have time to blog, here are the things I’d write about:

*The BlogHer conference, which I didn’t attend but still feel free to opine on. The language in the article is annoying, especially its use of overly effeminate words like “flurry” (to describe reactions to death threats) and its gratuitous references to makeup, baby clothes, and Oprah. And yet again, an article about women is relegated to the fashion and style section (maybe the references to makeup were inserted to try and make it fit?). This part rang true, though:

“Women get dismissed in ways that men don’t,” said Megan McArdle, an associate editor at The Atlantic Monthly who writes a blog about economic issues. She added that women are taught not to be aggressive and analytical in the way that the political blogosphere demands, and are more likely to receive blog comments on how they look, rather than what they say.

Of course, if Megan McArdle wants to be taken seriously, maybe she shouldn’t say women only like SF if we think it’s a fairy tale. Anyway. I’ve been a blogger for about eight years now, and a political blogger for about two of those years, and I’ve experienced my fair share of dismissal. My analysis of common anti-Semitic language on the left, for example, was applauded by Jewish women, but dismissed by many Jewish men as “naive,” “timid,” and a demonstration that I fail “to grasp” how anti-Semitism really works. Incredibly enough, many of those men proceeded to correct me by rewording the points I’d already made. Was the problem that I’ve been trained not to be too aggressive? Or were men spotting the female handle and not reading the post very carefully? A little of both, I think.

Mind you, I’m not trying to call out specific people here. This is a culture-wide problem, and we all play into it to varying extents.

*In 1994, the AMIA Jewish Community Center in Buenos Aires was bombed; 85 were killed and 300 were wounded. The government has been dragging its feet on the investigation for the past 14 years, and relatives of the victims – faced with dwindling prospects for justice – are seeking compensation.

*I’m still not sure what to make of the media hype over Amy Winehouse visiting a couple of Jewish delis. Gadzooks, a Jewish woman bought some bagels. You’d better alert the me… wait, never mind. What is it about a mainstream star enacting her culture that’s so titillating? Is it a fascination with Jewishness, or a fascination with ethnicity in general? Is she a Nice Jewish Girl or a JAP? Is she both? Are we supposed to be worrying about that? (I can’t remember what online tabloid I found the pictures in, so you’re just going to have to trust me that this really happened. While searching, though, I found that Eryn Loeb of the Lilith Blog wrote about the phenomenon a few months ago.)

*Ultra orthodox rabbis are using the law of lashon hara (a prohibition against gossip) to force molestation victims and their families into silence. I’ll confess, I didn’t find the article all that helpful, so I’ll refrain from commentary. Also, I’m crashing. G’night.


5 Responses

  1. RE: Amy Winehouse, I live near her and the paparazzi is always outside her house and milling around Camden waiting for her to make her appearance. It’s such a pain. I don’t know whether they’re fascinated with ethnicity or just plain obsessed with everything Amy Winehouse does.

    Also, just a little thing to point out but she wouldn’t be a ‘JAP’ cos doesn’t the ‘A’ stand for American?

  2. I think the fascination is with Amy Winehouse herself and the bagels thing may be driven as much by media obsession with her body – fat! thin! anorexic! – as with her ethnicity. All I can think when I see her picture is “leave the poor girl ALONE”.

  3. Oops. Er, JEP? JBP? Just plain JP?

  4. Do you mean “aggressive” in rhetorical or substantive terms? My criticism of your Feministe post was, in a sense, a critique that it wasn’t radical enough (which I guess could be a synonym for aggressive), not in the language you used, but in the meta-framework (incidental versus structural) you used to describe the problem. And that’s a criticism I still stand by. I think it’s perfectly legitimate to query whether or not we are really approaching anti-Semitism in sufficiently radical terms, because I think the standard approach that conceptualizes anti-Semitism as aberrational rather than the norm in global (including progressive) circles just isn’t working.

    I do, however, repeat my concession that “get at” would have been a better descriptor than “grasp” for my indictment of how you treated the Israel = Nazi comments.

  5. In my particular case, I think I could have been more aggressive rhetorically. The point of the post wasn’t to claim that anti-Semitism is an aberration; rather, I wanted it to serve as a jumping off point for broader work by analyzing a few common manifestations of it (which I do think people repeat without knowing where the rhetoric comes from). I wanted to get people thinking about it by starting with something accessible; however, your criticism is valid.

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