Monday, August 31, 2009


The language we use every day can be highly problematic. Some words have highly negative and hurtful connotations, and many of those words we are discouraged from using, or perhaps we use them in order to protest. Sometimes, I favor the use of these words. For example, like many of my peers, I feel comfortable in reclaiming the term "queer" as an adjective to describe non-(conservatively described)-traditional sexuality (and "gender queer" for the same with regard to gender). "Queer" is still often used as an insult, in which case it's certainly not appropriate or acceptable. But it's being reclaimed.

However, there are two words that I've recently noticed too many of my friends and peers using. These two words are ones that I've used incredibly frequently in the past. However, though a lot of hard work, I've been eliminating them both from my vocabulary.

It's not easy. I slip up. But it's gotta happen. Otherwise, the door is open for discriminatory language of all times.

These two words are "retarded" and "lame."

The word "retarded," as far as I know, means slowed or delayed. I'm mostly used to seeing it in a musical context (ritard/ando). But when it's used to describe a person who is developmentally delayed or challenged, it takes on an extremely negative meaning, much in the same way that the word "gay" still (unfortunately) can.

Argue all you want that the word "retarded" is medical, or that it's not meant in a bad way. That's all I heard it used as these days. "Oh man, that sucks! That's so retarded!" Or "Ugh, I'm such a retard/'tard." Maybe it would bother me less if people actually DID use it appropriately, instead of as an insult or slur. I've only seen it used as the latter lately.

It never occurred to me that "lame" was offensive until I began frequenting Shakesville. Even then, I think it's the most frequently uttered mistake word in the comments section (I've slipped, and someone today did, too). But once it was explained to me, which took about a second, it made perfect sense. It probably already makes sense if you think about it, even without an explanation.

"Lame" is ableist language. Ableism is one of those weird disciminations, one that no one seems to notice unless 1) they experience it and are perceptive, or 2) they're made aware of it while studying other forms of discriminations, or 3) something else, since categories are flawed. But it's real, as weird as it sounds (weird if, again, you've never thought about it). It's when people are discriminated against because they have some sort of illness or disability or SOMETHING that makes it difficult sometimes/all the time to do things that are expected of what are commonly thought of as "normal people."

There's an intersection and crosswalk near work that's ableist (or the designers are). There isn't enough time to cross the 4 lanes of traffice and two islands during the walk signal. I'm not kidding; I'm able to walk/run just fine, and I have to start crossing before the walk signal and practically run across in order to be halfway across the final lane before the light IN that lane turns green.

Can you imagine what it would be like if I were in a wheelchair? Or on crutches? Or if I had an injury that made it nearly impossible to walk quickly? It would take 2-3 walk signals to get across.

I'm not lame in the sense that my limbs are in fine working order (for now). But I have a chronic illness (in remission right now, yay!). It's been disabling in the past. And that's what the word is referring to: not "normal"-abled people. So when you say something is "lame" when you mean, say, "lousy," you're essentially saying that people who are not "normal"-abled are lousy.

"But Stephanie! I'm just so used to these words! And you know me; I'm a good person who doesn't discriminate against people with mental physical disability. You know I don't mean those words in a bad way against them, right?"

You don't have to use those words anymore; it'll just take a conscious effort to stop. And if you just can't think of words to replace those ones, you're just being lazy and not very creative.

"But what if I mess up?"

I mess up all the time. But that doesn't mean that I give up and I have to keep using this language. It just means I have to try harder. For example, I used "lame" much more frequently than I did "retarded," so it was harder to stop using. So, if I find myself beginning to say it, I just change it to "lousy." It's easy; since they have the same first letter, I've got time to quickly change words (employed very much at Zeldathon, by the way).

Here's the thing: I can't force anyone to stop using these words. But I will ask that you stop using them in conversation with me.

Final notes:
- I put "normal" in quotation marks when talking about disability because normal is subjectively defined. Additionally, someone who is currently "normal" might not be tomorrow. And depending on the activity in question, different people might be able or disabled.
- I don't HATE anyone, by the way, for using these words. You guys are my friends. I'm not trying to make you feel guilty; I'm trying to decrease discriminatory language. Don't think I'm angry with anyone.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Dear assholes

I'd appreciate it very much if I could live my life in peace. That means that when I'm walking home from work, I'd like to just be able to walk home from work.

So when you feel the strange, unexplained need to shout cat-calls at me? I will flip you off. That's as polite as I'm going to get. Because I'm trying to walk home. It's none of your business. You have my permission to go fuck yourself. ENJOY.

(This letter to assholes is brought to you by the dickwad who shouted, "Hey maamMY!" from what I assume is a friend's car today while I was minding my own fucking business.)

Monday, August 24, 2009

Stomach D:

My stomach is feeling off today, and I don't know why. On Wednesday at the gym, I nearly puked, but I don't think that's related because I went to the gym Friday and Saturday and ran yesterday, and I was fine.

But right now, I'm feeling all icky and barfy.

Schedule for the rest of the day:

Feed lots of cells (shit, have to put my medium in the water bath to warm it up)
Get PCR results when the run has ended
Figure out with my supervisor what to do about the STUPID spot test (probably will end up making new reagents and buffers)

If I am not feeling better by about 3, I'm going to have to reschedule the gym for tomorrow.

Today in Frustrating Experiments

This is the sixth time I've tried to do this spot test. First, the cross-linker didn't work. The second time, the cross-linker STILL didn't work, but we didn't realize that was the problem. Then I tried using the oven. Didn't work. Then I tried using the oven, but at a lower temperature, and I also didn't dilute my samples.


But when I tried it again with the dilutions? Didn't work.

Today, I tried another set of dilutions, so we'd have high concentrations of samples.

DIDN'T #@*&$%Q#ing WORK.

Dear people who think that careers in research are cool:

In bio research (as well as chem research), sometimes you can follow a previously tested protocol perfectly and not get results. Sometimes, you get better results depending on NOTHING in particular. Sometimes, it makes you angry.

If you don't like having nothing to show for very hard work, bio research isn't for you!



Sunday, August 23, 2009

A strange situation

Have you ever been really good at something, but you will do whatever you can not to do it?

For me, it's cleaning. I'm great at it. You'd have to be, growing up with my mom (who'd have to be good at it, too, growing up with my grandmother). I annoy roommates by asking them to clean the bathroom after they've just cleaned it. I told my roommate, Kevin, earlier this week when we were planning a massive apartment cleaning, that if he wanted to do a general cleaning of the place, I would do all of the anal/nit-picky parts. He ended up doing a very thorough cleaning ... but there's still plenty for nit-picky me to do (my list involves reorganizing the bathroom cabinet and dusting the heaters).

My room looks like a tornado stopped by ... for a month or so. My mom, when she visits, keeps asking, "How can you live in this room?!" I don't have an answer.

Do I like living in filth? Hell no. I cringe when I wake up to find that I slept next to a bag of tortilla chips (yes, this happens more frequently than I would like to admit). I won't sit in my arm chair because there are Loki-feathers covering it (the plate from when I had Graham crackers last week doesn't make it any more inviting). I have several pairs of shoes, a trash bag, and my college degree sitting on the floor.

According to my brother's girlfriend, and completely unprompted by my mention of a similar habit, my brother also is responsible for littering the bedroom floor with, of all things, string cheese wrappers (I can see four from where I'm sitting on my bed). So, I'm guessing something might be hereditary, yes?

Anyway, I'm GOOD at cleaning. But I'm even better at giving my neurotic, anal, nit-picky, cleanly self a heart attack.

I mean, besides my habit of bringing food/drink into my bedroom and leaving the remains, I guess it's not that bad. It's mostly clothes, receipts, books, shoes. But all together, I can understand why my mom hates visiting me.

And now, back to my current task: completely reorganizing my clothing drawers (I have to, for the first time ever, carve out a lot of room--half a drawer--for work-out clothes). See, this is why I don't clean; I go crazy over which pairs of underwear go in the "period," "not gross enough for period, but not nice enough that I'd strip for someone if that's what I had under my jeans," "really cute, and in great enough shape that I wouldn't mind showing someone," and "ew, thong" groups. NOT JOKING.

(For any cute, single, women-liking men out there between the ages of 21 and 28 who have jobs and do not live with their parents, if you're reading this, I tend to keep common spaces clean. Also, the underwear I'd wear on dates is the stuff from the "really cute" or "ew, thong" groups. Just saying.)

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

A girl beat OoT!

This past weekend, I flew down to Miami for the second annual Zeldathon. I finally got to meet and spend time two close friends I had made from last year's Zeldathon, which was incredibly awesome. I also made some new friends.

I decided to make the trip mostly to see people, although I also knew I could beat one of the games far more quickly than it had been done last year. Ocarina of Time had taken 24 hours; I kept going to sleep or going to class, expecting to see the next game when I got back, but finding the guys in the Forest or Shadow Temples, or still trying to defeat Ganondorf. Ocarina of Time was the game most responsible for the 72-hour marathon turning into a 104-hour one.

I did the game in under 10 hours, shorter than my practice time. Somehow, I managed to go quickly even as I fudged bosses and spent a half hour trying to get a dungeon item (in my defense, the problem was with the controller; the game wasn't designed to be played on a GameCube). Because of our timing with the first Zelda game, as well as A Link to the Past, I had to play late at night, so everyone pretty much missed the second half of the game (I finished at about 5:40 am).

I wasn't the only woman in the radio station. The guys had various female friends who were visiting; my friend Kami was there to help feed us. But I was the only woman who was actually lined up to play, and I think I may have been the only woman who did end up playing (someone correct me if that's not true).

Twice, I brought up issues that some of the guys really didn't like. First, I suggested that the best way to improve the role of women in the Zelda series, and to connect with female gamers, would be to have a normal Zelda game, except that Link, the protagonist, is female. No changes to weapons or abilities. No gender-switching of any other characters. No added romantic subplots.

The guys, a few in particular, reacted not just with disinterest, but with active disdain. I would lose male gamers, they said. Link is already a very anonymous, general character, and his male gender was arbitrary, they argued (except that if his gender didn't matter, he would be she sometimes). They accused me of trying to change the fundamentals of the greatest gaming series ever.

Later, I commented on the white-washing of the game series. I pointed out that all of the humanoid characters were white, except those who are evil in some way (for example, Ganondorf has practically greenish brown skin). I was then informed that, well, the Japanese just hate foreigners! They hate non-Japanese! They're really xenophobic, you know. It's a different kind of racism than the US, which is why I probably don't understand it. And besides, I was nit-picking! There were other races in the game (non humanoid). And it's not as if I was going to single-handedly change Japanese culture. It didn't seem to matter that if the Japanese were xenophobic, all of their games would star characters who looked Japanese, not Caucasian.

There was plenty of inappropriate, immature behavior among participants and visiting friends, including when one person took a small plushy of what looked like a naked PowderPuff Girl, held it up to the webcam, and sang about boobies while moving around the plush ones obscenely. The use of the words "retarded" and "lame" was rampant, among 'thoners, friends, and viewers. Several times, I had to tell off people for either joking about or making casual comments about rape. More times, I had to call out (male) viewers for making inappropriate sexual or suggestive comments in the chat, either in general, towards me/other women on the cam, or towards other viewers.

I was often known as "the girl" when I was on cam. I was nicknamed "Sleeping Beauty" while I was taking a nap. The answer to "Who did Ocarina of Time?" was frequently "A GIRL!"

It's not that I felt unwelcome. Spending time with my friends, even while sleep-deprived beyond my wildlest dreams, was awesome, and I didn't once feel as if anyone thought I shouldn't be there. I did feel welcome. But there were constant reminders that I was a woman, and there were several attempts to bully me into silence.

One viewer in particular made a rape joke, and I called him out on it immediately, telling him that we had a zero tolerance policy for rape jokes. He went through the classic defenses: he was just kidding, I was over-reacting, everyone hated him, no one cared if he said it, etc. I stood firm. If he wanted to continue making those comments, he could leave. I didn't feel safe enough in my environment to tell this asshole that I had been sexually assaulted, just as many of the children we were raising money to help had been assaulted.

My friend Pablo has expressed a desire to have a more mature, more professional event next time. Some people might argue that the goofy, immature atmosphere is what attracts our viewers. Really? I thought our viewers came to cheer us on while we played Zelda games. I didn't realize that they came to see someone strip to his (falling-off) boxers, girls kissing for donations, childish and rude language/conversations, and so on. If we can't be fun and interesting without turning into nasty assholes, then we have problems.

In all, the weekend was interesting, feminism-wise. While I've never been fooled into believing that the gaming industry was woman (or LGBT or POC) friendly, I had hoped that there would be some more maturity among the players and friends in the radio station. And while the internet itself is not the gaming industry, for the marathon, it had some pretty strong connections. Even without those connections, people feel comfortable, through the anonimity of the internet, to voice racist, sexist, and heterosexist views, harass others, or just be plain nasty.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Zeldathon '09

Here's hoping you all tune in to Zeldathon '09! In short, Zeldathon (a Zelda marathon) consists of a bunch of gamers playing through all seven current console titles in the Legend of Zelda video game series. In a row. Broadcast online.

The event will be broadcast on (through UStream; register for free to chat) beginning on Friday, August 14th at 6 pm until every single game is completed. While individual players might stop to eat, sleep, hit up the restrooms, and hopefully shower, the games won't stop.

And it's not pointless. We will be raising money for the National Children's Advocacy Center, which provides services to victims/survivors of child abuse, and also offers training and programming. Last year, the Zeldathon team raised almost $1500 for Child's Play; this year, we hope to surpass that amount. We'll begin collecting donations when the event starts, and we won't stop until the end of the event. Last year, we raised more than our $1000 goal that way.

For more (and more detailed) information about the event and the participants, check out

To get reminders about the event this weekend, or to spread the word, search for us on Facebook and invite yourself to our Facebook event.

To learn more about the NCAC, check out

To donate, please check out during the event. There will be a donation widget, ChipIn.

About donations: If you donate, your money goes straight to the NCAC's PayPal account, which they've kindly set up for this event. Zeldathon members don't handle any of the donations personally, so none of your money will get "lost" in transit. Additionally, 100% of the donations go to the NCAC. While it would be supercool if we were getting paid to do this ... we are not.

About the games: The Legend of Zelda is a video game series from Nintendo that was originally released in 1986 with the NES game of the same name. Since then, Nintendo has released approximately 13 more games for various consoles. Due to technological and time constraints, we will be playing the 7 major console games: The Legend of Zelda (NES), The Adventure of Link (NES), A Link to the Past (SNES), Ocarina of Time (N64), Majora's Mask (N64), The Wind Waker (GC), and Twilight Princess (Wii). The games star the young adventurer Link, who typically must rescue the land of Hyrule and its Princess Zelda from the schemes of the evil Ganon (although it should be known that the details vary widely, game to game).

To my friends and acquaintances, I will personally be flying down to Miami, where the event is being held, on Friday evening. Sometime on Saturday, I will be kicking some serious ass on Ocarina of Time. I hope to get it done in less than 10 hours, which is my current time. I won't be staying the entire time, though; I will be leaving early Sunday afternoon so I can, you know, go to work on Monday.

Transphobia or not?

Today, in the Boston Globe: Mass. transgender inmate denied electrolysis

The short: Transwoman who murdered her wife in 1990 is being denied electrolysis (a specific, expensive type of hair removal).

Do I believe that it's fair to deny Michelle Koselik electrolysis? If it's funded by the taxpayers, yes, I believe it's fair. There are countless transpeople who cannot afford surgery or the more effective/permanent forms of hair removal. I'm cisgendered, and I can't afford electrolysis; if I could, I promise you that I wouldn't have any stray lip/chin hairs, and if I were truly loaded, my bikini line would always be ridiculously perfect.

If sex-change surgery/other medical procedures (including electrolysis) are not covered for all people, then I see no reason why taxpayers should cover such procedures for a convict.

I do wonder, however, if it's appropriate to have a transwoman in a male prison.

Monday, August 10, 2009


I just finished my practice run-through for this weekend's Zeldathon. 10 hours and 5 minutes! Complications:

- Gohma should have taken about 1 minute to beat instead of the 5 ish it took me. That hasn't happened since the first few times I've played. SHAME.
- King Dodongo also took longer, but it was because I was being stupid. I also fell off of a bridge earlier in the dungeon.
- I need to write down the order of the passageways in Jabu-Jabu because I spent about 5 minutes getting lost.
- I promise next time I will not forget to get the Zora's tunic and then have to restart.
- I spent a little time exploring in the Spirit Temple because I hadn't written up a walkthrough.
- None of the mini-dungeons should ever take this long. Fire and Shadow in particular were a pain. Solution? GO SLOWLY.
- I probably won't be stopping to check the Sox game/my email. Nor will I be chasing a small bird around the apartment.

I'm guessing it'll take me 9:30 to beat the game this weekend.

Yes, I'm a nerd. But I didn't sit down and memorize the game. Over the years, I just somehow remember it. I know, it's weird.

But at least I saved the Triforce from Loki--I MEAN Ganondorf.

(FYI, this is Ocarina of Time we're talking about.)

Happy Monday!

Big, huge, mega-thanks to all of you who've been so supportive of me with regards to the whole "my dad is a huge turd" business. I appreciate it a ton. While this certainly isn't the first time that my dad has done or said something completely unbelievable, this is one of the first times that no one has said anything like, "Well, yeah, but what did you say that got him to say that?"

I'm at work right now; it's been a slow day so far. I'm pleased, though, because for the first time in weeks, I've gotten here at 9 on a Monday; usually, I sleep in a bit and come in around 9:40. It's not that 9:40 is unacceptable, to either me or my supervisor. I just feel better when I get here earlier.

I'm running a gel this afternoon. To anyone who happened to be online when I was doing research at Tufts, you're familiar with this already ("Hey, what's up?" "I'm running a gel, and if it doesn't work, I'm going to break something"). I just have to run some already cut/linearized DNA to make sure that it was cut/linearized properly. Fun! I think we're also doing a reverse-transcriptase reaction today, and I know I have to feed and split cells.

Work feels so much like research at school, but that's okay with me. I enjoy it.

I do not enjoy feeling like someone punched me in the back ... thanks to the gym.

My mom comes home tomorrow. I wonder how she will react to my dad's email!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Growing up Feminist with a Sexist Dad II

I'm not going to go into too many details right now, but here's a short summary:

My father is not a good father, sexism aside. He has always treated me differently than he's treated my siblings, and it's not simply that I'm not his favorite. Again, this is the man who used to throw me in the basement when I was little. I'm not saying I was a little angel when I was little (on the contrary, I was so stubborn that even my mom might be at her wit's end; of course, I'm STILL stubborn, so go figure). He never really grew up; dealing with him is like dealing with a self-centered, greedy five-year-old.

When I was seventeen, I stopped talking to him. I didn't talk to him again until I was almost twenty-one. During that time, I looked at colleges, took the SATs, picked Tufts, picked my majors, and developed new passions, feminism in particular. I had been in a long-term sexual relationship, which he had only heard about in passing from my siblings. He had gotten married.

I don't know why I began talking to him again. I think it was because I thought I could deal with him, create my own limits, gain some control over the relationship I would have with him. I was wrong. Sometimes things were better or worse, but he never stopped talking down to me, never stopped trying to control everything. I knew he hadn't changed, but it was becoming harder and harder to have any agency in the relationship.

Recently, I've had a tough car situation. I had asked both parents for help. My mother helped. My father did not. And in the process, he insulted me. About women's studies. I called him out on it in what I consider a very straight-forward, un-angry email.

The response I got was nothing short of astonishing. It was a massive novel-sized email, one that rivals the ones I used to send to my ex (Rob, I doubt you'll ever read this, but my dad's email makes the ones I sent you look like tweets). And the whole thing was about him being in the right, and how he feels.

The best part?

I had told him I was hurt that he had made fun of women's studies (and my classmates) shortly after my graduation. By shortly after, I don't mean a few days. I mean about an hour and a half. He also implied strongly that because I was a WS major, I COULDN'T DO MATH. Here's what he had to say about my hurt feelings:

As for my apparent disrespect for your passions, I am bothered by the overall notion that I am supposed to support your passions. If you were passionate in the same way Osama bin Laden is passionate should I blindly support that? I am allowed to have my own opinions and views just as you are and I am happy that you are a passionate person. But unless you have explained to me that you have come to those views thoughtfully and logically and rationally I am not going to simply support them because you are my daughter. I think the missing link here is that by not communicating with me for more than three years I did not see you grow into these views and passions; instead, they are being presented to me in an apparent final form. Once I understand how you got to where you are now from where you were when I knew you as a teenager, I will be more capable of supporting you in the way you want me to. I am your father, not your cheering section. Regardless of all this explanation, I am sorry that I offended you at lunch after graduation with my comments.


I am planning on sending my dad the following email:


No one who truly loves me would ever say the things you've said to me. Don't ever sign a message with "love" again. You are a liar.

Do I care if I get disowned? Not remotely.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

LA Fitness Shooting

Last night, 48-year-old George Sodini entered an LA Fitness all-women group workout in Pennsylvania and opened fire before killing himself. He murdered three women and injured nine others.

Globe details can be found here.

Two things about this case infuriate me. Well, the whole thing infuriates me. You know what I mean.

Firstly, Sodini planned this attack. He planned it on a website for nine months. This isn't the first time that a major act of violence had been planned on a public website (Liam Youens, the murderer of Amy Boyer, also had a website).

I'm not going to scream and shout that every last one of us should have known about Sodini's site or his plans. I didn't know about it. But I think someone must have. And I wish that someone had alerted authorities.

Secondly, what on earth was the motivation behind the attacks? Easy.

Sodini was sick of being rejected by women.

And so, because he was tired of rejection, he went and shot up an all-female gym class.

I'm not a psychologist, nor am I a profiler. But I'm guessing that Sodini was furious at women for not paying enough attention to him/dating him/loving him/sleeping with him/treating him the way he thinks men should be treated. And so he had to do something about it.

But instead of examining his own attitudes and behaviors ("I wonder if there's something I'm doing, without really thinking about it, that impacts my interactions with women," or "Hm, I haven't been on a date in a while. Maybe I'll see if there are any good dating sites I could try"), he placed blame. He didn't just put blame on the individual women who had rejected him (I have a feeling he did place blame on them, just not just them); he placed blame on all women. It's the fault of women that Sodini was lonely. It's the fault of women that Sodini hadn't been on a date in a while, or had sex in even longer.

I don't believe that it would be remotely just to blame a person for not being interested in another person romantically or sexually. Sodini's blaming habits alone are inappropriate enough. But the problem here isn't just that he blames, but that he blames generally and indiscriminately. If you can blame all women because some women rejected you, and you blame all women for not having relationships/sex/dates ... then I think you don't treat women like people.

In fact, you might even think it's okay to murder some of them as punishment for humiliating you.

I consider this crime to be a hate crime and an act of terrorism.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Fun Pastimes

Looking at what people are reading as I walk to the front of the train. Sometimes, people read books. Other times, they're reading newspapers. I like when they're doing work; it's fun to see what work people do.

And this is how I know that one of the men who rides the train with me is reading Redwall.

Home late D:

My ELISA (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay) won't be finished until about 5:30/5:45 so I have to stay till 6. Poor Loki. He was sad last night when I wouldn't let him share jam crackers* with me. SAD BIRDEH.

I need to learn how to draw because I think a cartoon of Loki snuggling with my laptop would be the coolest thing ever. He's all, "Mmmmmmmrrr, I wuvs you ... mmmmmrrrr so waaaarm ...." And then I'll need to hit backspace, and he'll be all, "WHAT, no, you're in my personal space!"

* Jam crackers, a term I learned from the show Friends, refers to when you take Graham crackers and put jelly on them. They are marvelous.

How would you define "racist," then?

Okay, so, many of you are familiar with the whole Gates' arrest controversey that isn't quite dying down. Black Harvard prof has trouble getting into his house after a trip. He and his black driver try to get inside. Neighbor is worried that someone might be breaking in, but isn't sure. Calls police. White officer shows up; black prof is already in his house. Black prof proves identity and residence, but gets angry when he's asked to go outside. White officer arrests black prof for his conduct. Everyone goes nuts.

Some quick thoughts:
- I'm actually glad that the neighbor called police. Too often, we see something potentially dangerous, and we don't do anything about it. We say to ourselves, "You know, it must be that the guy is having trouble getting into his own house." Or, for those of you who know a thing or two about rape culture, "You know, I'm sure that guy is just helping his drunk girlfriend to a bed upstairs where he will take care of her and keep her safe." Just checking is important, and that's what the neighbor was doing.

- Racial profiling, being illegal, isn't something that happens consciously. White society might view one behavior as normal in a white person, but risky/dangerous/suspicious in a person of color. We must point out when this happens. That's how you stop it. In this case, Gates became very frustrated and angry. I do not think he would have been arrested had he been white. I think his anger and frustration were seen as somehow dangerous because of his skin color.

- Just because a black cop said that he approved of the arrest does not negate race from the equation. Plenty of white people don't approve of the arrest; does that mean that NO white person should? That's like saying, "My joke wasn't sexist because another woman laughed."

Now, we're seemingly at the point where we can keep the incident in mind, but make jokes about it (as seen here and here). But it's not over.

An Officer Barrett, a Boston police officer, sent an incredibly racist, sexist, and insulting letter to Globe writer Yvonne Abrahams (don't read it unless you want to be shocked by the kind of people we let onto the police force). He was suspended, pending termination. Mayor Menino is nothing short of enraged:

“I was angry about the incident when the commissioner spoke to me [Tuesday] night,’’ Menino said. “I said, ‘He has no place in this department, and we have to take his badge away.’ That stuff doesn’t belong in our city, and we’re not going to tolerate it.’’

The mayor said he has not seen the e-mail and while the officer is not officially terminated, he might as well be. “He’s gone - g-o-n-e. I don’t care, it’s like cancer, you don’t keep those cancers around.’’

What did Barrett say?

“I did not mean to offend anyone,’’ he said. “The words were being used to characterize behavior, not describe anyone . . . I didn’t mean it in a racist way. I treat everyone with dignity and respect.’’

Uh, no. Oh, and now he's suing. Yeah.

According to the lawsuit, the mayor and commissioner’s actions caused Barrett pain and suffering, mental anguish, emotional distress, posttraumatic stress, sleeplessness, indignities and embarrassment, degradation, injury to reputation, and restrictions on personal freedom.

Barrett, on the police force for two years, requested that they be enjoined from decreasing, terminating, or withholding any wages. He also asked for money damages to compensate for the emotional and physical pain he suffered, attorney’s fees, and punitive damages.

Here's what I don't, and will never understand:

How can you possibly say something so obviously racist and offensive? And sexist and offensive? And then think that you treat everyone with dignity and respect?

How can you say that this is not about race when you used racial slurs? How can you say you're not racist when you used racial slurs and expressed racist sentiments?

Unless, of course, you don't think your letter was racist. Which makes sense. Otherwise, you wouldn't have said those things because you would have known and understood that they were racist.

The city of Boston doesn't deserve the punishment of having this awful, awful person on its police force.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Happy Pants Day!

Happy Pants Day!

What, you might find yourself asking, is Pants Day anyway? A fine, fine question.

Pants Day is the day that occurs about once every year where I've been working hard to get healthier, and a pair of pants that I purchased around last Pants Day fit again.

Last year, after jogging on a regular basis for about a month, I'd slimmed down some, and I bought a cute pair of capri pants (Happy Pants Day 2008!). When I tried to wear them after this winter ended, it just didn't happen (Sad Pants Day 2009). Up to about two months ago, I still couldn't get the capris past the tops of my thighs. Lovely.

After 3 solid weeks of gymming, and a different approach to eating (eating every 2-3 hours, eating more protein), I can celebrate Pants Day (the happy one)!. I'm wearing my capris to work today.

They are tighter than when I bought them. Shit happens. But it's nice to know that the gym is working (you'd never know it based on how I look and feel while there; when I showed up at my mom's apartment after a workout, she laughed pretty hard).

So, happy Pants Day as I continue to take steps to become a fat chick stuck in a skinny chick stuck in a fat chick!

Lulz, humorless feminist!

I have a not-that-close friend with whom I communicate on Facebook every so often. We usually just comment on each other's statuses and notes, and so on. Yesterday, this was one of his status updates:

"Ugly code is like a fat chick. Every programmer has done it at some point, we just hope no one ever finds out about it."

Of course, the comments that followed were from people who all thought this was HILARIOUS, and several people had clicked "Like."

I commented: "Dislike."

He replied: "Just appreciate the humor and let it go. It doesn't apply to me, I just thought it was too funny to let my CS buddies miss out on - and from the looks of it, it seems they like it."

I replied: "I'm not being humorless. It's just not funny."

He replied: "Then ignore it... ? Because clearly it is pretty funny. Just look at all the programmers who love it (but will never love a woman)."

Someone else replied: "Philosopher, thespian, and comedian, Daniel Lawrence Whitney has said it best, 'I don't care who ya are, that's funny right there'."

Is this quotation funny? No. First off, as an overweight woman, it's insulting for a friend of mine to make a joke about how men will sleep with fat chicks for the hell of it, but then be ashamed of it. I'm sorry, I'm something to be ashamed of? A guy would only do me for sex, not because he cared about me, or (even worse) was attracted to me?

Secondly, there are female programmers. So you're insulting them by creating a joke that excludes them while at the same time insulting them.

And yet when I say that it's not funny, I'm told to just find it funny anyway, admit that it's funny (because clearly it's impossible that I didn't find it hilarious), or to just shut up and stop ruining everyone's fun.

No one has explained to me why this is supposed to be funny. I already know why it's not funny. "Shut up or laugh" is not a convincing argument to get me to feel differently.