07 December 2010

Shitty things that happen to me.

So a thing happened over the break. It was awful and continues to be awful. And I am having a hard time talking about it, so I'm going to try and write it down.

Trigger warning. The following post describes threatened gun violence and a serious lack of respect for physical boundaries.

Thanksgiving break was more awkward this year than usual. Mom and Kevin (my stepdad) have been having problems lately, and from what I could tell before all the shit went down, it seems to stem primarily from the fact that they are living where Mom wants to live. When they got married, Kevin wanted to live in the country, despite the fact that my mother likes cities. So they moved to the country. To the middle of fucking nowhere. You have to drive 30 minutes to get to a grocery store, and Mom commuted 30 minutes every day to work as a recruiter in a warehouse. She didn't like it much, but when you live in the middle of nowhere, you take what you can get. Kevin worked for himself at home. Then this year, I don't know why or what was discussed, but they kept the house in the middle of nowhere and rented one in Dallas. (It's about a 2-hour drive, so the thought was that the middle-of-nowhere house could be for holidays and occasional weekends.) Mom returned to her old job in Dallas, which she likes much more, and she was ecstatic about the move and their new house. Kevin has apparently been miserable in Dallas. He doesn't like his job, he doesn't like the city, and has just done everything he can to make her miserable, too. They've been fighting constantly.

So I go visit, and it's awkward, like it always is with Kevin, because he is always weird about me being around. I think that part of it is that I always stick up for Mom when I think she's right (and more often than not, that's the case). He acts like we gang up on him or something. He also doesn't seem a big fan of me thinking I'm right about anything either, because he's got this inferiority complex and thinks that college-educated people just sit around making fun of and judging non-college-educate people. Anyway, the break goes okay, I spend a lot of time with Mom, and it's fun, and we drink wine and shop and do the things we do around Thanksgiving. A couple of days after Thanksgiving, we drive to middle-of-nowhere house, and hang out and drink wine. Kevin doesn't drink. After Mom walks inside to go to the bathroom, Kevin gets up and sits next to me and puffs himself up and says, "But I don't know why it doesn't chap your ass that your taxes pay for bums living under a bridge in Dallas." This statement was only tangentially related to what we were talking about. A couple of things: I was tipsy, and Kevin was not. Kevin is also a big fan of trying to be bigger than you when he argues with you, and gets up in your space, and does not fucking listen. We've had the Kevin-thinks-all-poor-people-are-totally-undeserving conversation. And it ended with me in tears. So he could predict what was going to happen. But I'm tipsy, and he pissed me off by bringing it up, so I argue with him instead of doing the smart thing, which would be telling him we are not talking about this. And he baits me, and tells me that he knows all poor people/homeless people are undeserving because of people that he knows. And won't listen to me when I tell him that most homeless people are vets, disabled, or single mothers. Numbers don't matter! Kevin has his opinions and anecdotes! Whatever. So I get in tears again, and I tell him I am not having this conversation anymore, and just because he doesn't have compassion for other people doesn't mean he can antagonize me for having it. I walk off. It is obvious why I walk off; he is not listening, he is acting as though my emotional reaction is completely illegitimate (and a sign of the illegitimacy of my argument), and we are getting nowhere except me being upset. You know, because of my silly lady-feelings.

I wash my face and go sit in the front yard. We had been in the backyard, so I hear Kevin and Mom yelling. Then Mom comes and yells at me because THERE IS A MIDDLE GROUND AND NEITHER OF US ARE WILLING TO SEE IT. Which is ridiculous, since my parents have NO IDEA where I stand on particular welfare issues. They don't actually give a shit, because they just know I don't disagree with their counter-factual assertions that most homeless people are lazy and deserve to starve to death.

After yelling at me, Mom goes back to yell at Kevin. I'm texting my friends a mile a minute, and call Adrienne, who calms me down a bit, and when I come back (it's been about 15 minutes or so), Mom and Kevin are STILL fighting outside. So I walk up, and I'm still, you know, angry, and tell them to please stop yelling about me, and just fucking talk to me. And Kevin says, "We're not yelling about you! We're talking about getting divorced BECAUSE of you!" And well, I've heard that one before. So I said, "No. You aren't allowed to say that. I've heard that from my father before, and he was just as full of shit as you are. Your problems with Mom are not my fault." And he was not happy about that response. We get into it, and Mom is pissed at me for yelling at him, and he's pissed at me for standing up for myself, and I'm pissed at Mom for not standing up for me or even listening, and pissed at Kevin for being a complete asshole without once recognizing the power dynamic in our relationship that makes every. fucking. disagreement. difficult. So he stands up and keeps getting in my space. And, dude. I had a verbally abusive father. He tried to physically intimidate me all the time. He knew that he would win every argument because he could, and he knew that he could just stand close to me to threaten me with violence. It didn't matter if he had any intention of actually hitting me, he just wanted me to know that he could. And so I back up. Multiple times. And I push Kevin away and I tell him to stop getting close to me. And he backs me up against a fence and puts his hands on my shoulders. At this point, I'm not even listening to what he says because my brain is in panic-mode. And I tell him to stop physically intimidating me (which upsets him) and to stop touching me, at which point he gets this horrified look on his face and sits down in the truck with the door open.

Mom yells at me, telling me, "He just wanted to hug you!" As if that made it better? I repeatedly told him to get off, and back up, and even pushed him back. I DON'T CARE WHAT HIS INTENTIONS WERE. I get to decide when I am touched, and that includes hugging. And instead of asking, "Can I hug you?" he continued to ignore my obvious distress and my desire for him to back the fuck off, because he thought that his good intentions and desires superseded my right to not be touched when I don't want to be. IF he had asked, I would have said no. I didn't want him to be hugging me any more than I wanted him to physically threaten me. I WANTED HIM AWAY. But my mother and him both acted like I was being irrational and crazy. And I tried to explain (very distressed, so I'm sure I wasn't entirely coherent) that he was triggering me, that I wanted him away to he would stop triggering me, and my mother said, "You think your bullshit is more important than anything." I have honestly never wanted to slap her as much as I did in that moment. It hurt to hear her say that, to know that she thinks my desire for bodily autonomy is just my irrational reaction to abuse.

And we aren't even to the bad part of the evening. At this point, emotions high, Kevin pulls out a gun. As far as I can tell, a loaded gun. (I don't know that much about guns.) And he fucking cocks it. My mother's reaction was puzzling, because while he is just holding the gun next to him, I think it's pointed more at us than at him, though it's not being aimed. She starts crying harder and screaming at him not to hurt himself. So I gather that this has happened before. The asshole has threatened self-harm with a loaded fucking gun to manipulate my mother more than fucking once. I'm more scared than angry, though, so I back up several feet (If he had shot it, very likely it would have hit one of us, because the trajectory of the bullet would have passed through him and we were standing in its way.) and yell at him to stop. He says to Mom, "She [he means me] accused me of being a pervert!" That, of course, didn't happen, but I think Kevin thinks I only have the right to say "no" to sexual touch, and thus my "no" meant that I thought it was sexual touch. I thought no such thing, and as I've never been sexually assaulted, by my father or anyone else, I was completely baffled by his interpretation of what just happened. But, you know, there's a loaded gun being held by an overemotional and obviously unhinged man, so I say whatever it is he wants me to say. I'm sorry, don't hurt yourself, we're only worried about you. I didn't mean any of it, but I was scared to death he was going to a) shoot himself, scar his son and my mother forever, and she would blame herself for the rest of her life or b) shoot me or my mother. He yelled and freaked out and waved it around until Mom finally got him to relinquish it, and she hands it to me (OH GOD, I thought, I don't even know how to make it uncocked! I just set it down in the grass next to me) and hugs him. And he gets out of the car and HUGS ME. And I'm so relieved that he isn't threatening violence anymore, and scared that if I get upset with him he'll freak out again, that I let him, and I keep saying "I'm sorry. I'm sorry." I think I meant it at the time--I'm fairly used to men convincing me that their crazy and violence is my fault.

Then he sits me down, since Mom has stormed off inside and said "I don't have to put up with this shit anymore" (truer words), and tries to have a heart-to-heart with me. I'm still, again, scared and emotional and upset, so I let him think we've made up, and I tell him he needs to go apologize. He is honestly baffled. "Don't you think she should apologize, too?" (Um, NO. You just held a LOADED GUN in our vicinity and threatened violence. NO, SHE DOESN'T NEED TO APOLOGIZE.) And I just look at him, aware that I can't even address how fucking not-in-the-pale his actions were, because who knows what will set him off again? And he tells me he's not happy, and shouldn't she care about him being happy? He goes inside and fights with her and comes out and she wants to leave. And so I am, of course, relieved we are leaving and I help her pack and she is upset, and she asks me to get him to talk to her again. So I go tell him, and he asks me if I care if they make up. I look him in the eye and tell him the truth; I only care that she is happy (and safe, but I didn't say that). He looks angry, which scares the hell out of me.

Finally, after much debating on Mom's part, we leave. About 10 minutes away, she asks me to take her back. I didn't know what to do, so I pull her over and tell her I can't go back there, because I'm afraid for my safety and for hers. "That thing with the gun--has that happened before?" She nods at me and says, "He would never hurt us." "On purpose, Mom. Do you think that was normal?" "No, he needs help. It's not normal." "Mom, it's dangerous. And it's manipulative." "But he might hurt himself if I don't go back, and it will be my fault." "NO. That would not be your fault. That would be his fault. All you have done is argue with him, and that does not warrant that kind of reaction." Finally, kind of reluctantly, she agreed to go on with me to Dallas.

Next morning, she asked me if I was okay. No, I'm not okay. "Why not?" "Because, Mom. I'm afraid for you, and I think that you are normalizing behavior that is manipulative and abusive. If that had been my boyfriend, you would have called the cops and forcibly made me leave that relationship. I can't and won't do that, though I do regret not calling the cops." And I know I shouldn't have said that. I knew it when I said it. But I needed her to hear that this was abuse. That threatening to kill yourself is emotionally manipulative, and the result is that she are too scared to leave. That is not okay. But what I needed her to hear and what she needed to hear were probably different, which is why I don't have any idea what to say to her now. I love her, and I'm scared for her, and I want her to be happy and safe. And I don't think she is either of those things now, and I wish she would decide to divorce him. I would be there for her, and would be her go-between, and go with her to the courthouse, and help her hire someone to move his shit out. I could be amazing at that. But instead I am sitting at home wondering if she wants to talk to me when I don't know if I can, doing fucking nothing to fix this situation. Because I can't fix it. And it's killing me.

05 December 2010

Teaching composition: How do we make students conceptualize themselves as writers?

At the risk of a very boring lead-in to this post, here's a thing I wrote for class! We had to write a kind of "what I learned this semester" assignment for my pedagogy class, after teaching according to the prescribed syllabus. So I thought I'd share it with you guys and get your thoughts, especially since I haven't been posting lately. So enjoy!

The main goal of a writing teacher is to improve her students' writing, but in order for this to happen, an instructor must convince her students that they are writers, not merely students, engineers, scientists, or mathematicians taking a writing course. By doing so, she can be more confident that her students will get something more meaningful and lasting from her class than a passing grade. In the worksheets that my students filled out at the beginning of the semester, most students indicated that what they would gain from my class was a basic competency in writing for their future professions. Those that find the class relevant only think it is relevant for their future professional life (and perhaps for the rest of their undergraduate careers). One student wrote, “My boss one day will expect me to write well, and will judge me on my writing ability, so I hope to improve my grammar and writing for my future job.” While there is nothing wrong with this personal goal, nor is it problematic for a writing teacher to indicate to her students that professionals are often expected to write in the course of their jobs, students will be more successful and will get more out of a writing course if they see writing as a skill they will use, and already use, outside of the classroom and the workplace.

Almost all students are writers before they enter a freshman composition course. They write emails; on a myriad of internet sites, including Facebook, Twitter, Livejournal, and blogs; in the margins of books; in notes, letters, and birthday cards; in diaries and journals; in school newspapers or yearbooks; and some even write fiction or poetry. They belong to discourse communities before they enter academia; they attend church, belong to clubs and organizations, volunteer, belong to service or social justice groups and communities. While students often think that a composition course will only help them to participate in the discourse communities to which they are newly inducted (academia and their respective professional fields), relating a composition course to the discourse communities to which students already belong should be a responsibility of a writing instructor, and doing so will help students to invest in the course beyond their commitment to learning grammar or getting a passing grade. Many of my students have told me that they do not see the relevance of my class to their lives, usually in response to my comments on their essays asking them to be engaged and interested in their writing. Indeed, how can I expect them to be engaged when the assignments are easier for them to complete successfully if they do not care about the topic at all? Assignments that ask them to be objective and without bias are difficult enough at their age, but I also think they are counter-productive when made high-risk major grades. There are ways to teach our students to summarize fairly and without overt bias, but basing a major assignment on those skills made my students feel as though their positions did not matter. After the first two assignments, which explicitly forbid students from making their positions their arguments, many of my students were cautious about sharing their positions in the third paper. More than once I heard in class: “So, we're allowed to state our opinions?” Because I had been teaching them to make arguments that could not reveal their positions, my students did not know how to conceptualize their positions as positions, supported with reasoning and argumentation, as opposed to opinions, mere statements of unsupported preference.

Further, these two assignments forced me to ban the word “bias” from my students' papers. All semester, I have struggled to convey to my students that everything written includes some bias, and thus to use the word as a weapon is not in good faith. Their use of the word “bias” in this way is partly a result of a cultural preference for objectivity, but our emphasis in ENGL 104 on objectivity in the first two major assignments does not help. By demanding essays that refrain from stating positions, and calling this objectivity, I produced students that believed arguing for a position is biased and illegitimate. And because my students did not argue for a position until the fourth paper, I was only able to talk with them about being fair, as opposed to objective, in arguing for a position for a few weeks. They did not receive almost any practice in this, despite the fact that this skill is just as important as avoiding overt bias when necessary. In fact, in most discourse communities, arguing for positions in a fair way is far more useful than summarizing objectively or analyzing without overt bias.

Another way that writing courses often do not position students as writers outside the classroom is by not allowing for revision. In most discourse communities, revision is an important part of the writing process, and if the community does not allow for outright revision, then it allows for responses, dialogue, qualifications, and corrections. Only in academia (and then only at the undergraduate level) is the draft turned in on a deadline a final one, graded with no chance for discussion, revision, or correction. This process decontextualizes student writing, and makes assignments unrelated to the discourse communities in which our students participate, where most texts are not utterly final and finite. Further, not allowing for revision does not encourage (or, as is sometimes necessary, force) students to draft multiple times, a process necessary for successful writing.

The solution to these problems is assignments that allow my students to participate in different discourse communities. In such a project, I would elicit from each student a discourse community to which they already belong (a church congregation, a blogging community, a school newspaper, an activist community) and have them work with me to produce a writing assignment positioned within that community. The first part of this project would be a fair, researched summary of the characteristics of the discourse community, while the second part would involve making an argument within that community. Because I think students should participate in and take responsibility for their own education, students would be responsible for working with me to create a rubric for assessing their assignment, based in part on the first part of the assignment. Both portions of this assignment would allow for revision after the draft is turned in. If students are unhappy with their final product (or their grade), they would have the option to revise.

This type of assignment would result in several positive outcomes. First, by having students identify discourse communities to which they already belong, it would position my students as writers outside the classroom. They would be encouraged to be invested in the assignment and in themselves as writers within a particular discourse community outside of a professional or academic sphere, which would likely result in their greater commitment to improving their writing beyond the desire for a good grade. Second, it would reduce the emphasis on objectivity that the current syllabus has, and introduce my students to position arguments, those arguments my current students have called “opinions” and “biased” all semester, much earlier. Third, it would allow for and encourage revision, indicating the vital role this part of the writing process plays. This would also allow for a discussion of how texts in other discourse communities allow for revision, discussion, response, and correction, and thus position students' writing as not merely anchored in academic or professional discourses. Last, this type of assignment would position other discourse communities as comparable and just as legitimate as the academic discourse community, to which the remaining course assignments would be written. The course would thus avoid the preference for privileged discourses, and the delegitimization of underprivileged discourses, that is found in both the university and in our larger culture.

It is the responsibility of the writing instructor to teach students to write, but to what end? Students who enter a freshman composition course should not be given only the option of becoming a better academic writer, but also a better writer within the discourse communities to which they already belong. The composition course should be an opportunity to become a better academic writer, a better blogger, a better editorial writer, a better Twitter-er, a better activist writer, a better newspaper column writer. Without that opportunity, what a student does in a composition classroom is unlikely to stick with her, unlikely to translate outside the walls of the university, and unlikely to give her the sense that she is capable of creating change through her writing.

01 November 2010

A quick post about The Walking Dead

The makeup for this show: phenomenal.
Cross posted at Geek Feminism.

Like any good geek, I love me some zombies. So of course I tuned in last night to AMC's new zombie show, The Walking Dead. And I found myself disappointed. Spoilers ahoy! (NB: I haven't read the graphic novel. This is just a review of the pilot that aired last night.)

23 October 2010

Sometimes the Batt is hilariously infuriating...

Like this article about a sophomore football player:
At first glance, Ryan Swope is the atypical Aggie - with shaggy blonde hair [you know, gay] and an Austin background [see? totally gay], he fits the College Station stereotype of Longhorns [Batt writers don't know how college works. Living in Austin makes you a Longhorn! Also having a particular kind of hair.].
Does this newspaper just not have an editor?

11 October 2010

Privileged college students and "hobos": Exactly alike?

So usually the Battalion is boring. But when it decides to spice up the boring with offensive, it goes all-out. One of this week's issues features an opinion piece comparing college students and "hobos." Yes, you read that right. Because privileged college students and homeless people are exactly alike! And comparing them is hi-larious! And "hobo" is a totally not-offensive, not-dehumanizing term!
I was only thinking about how I could eat my lunch and study at the library, but the lack of a home base made me feel like a vagabond. I gave the subject more thought and realized most college students demonstrate the habits of hobos.
Ahahaha! Get it? College students are just like hobos because they lack a "home base." Never mind that they have homes. That's not what being homeless is about! It's about napping outside!
Many off-campus dwellers find themselves in situations similar to this: a full day of classes while running on two hours of sleep simply will not cut it. What's a college student to do? We nap. Anywhere and everywhere we can: outside, inside, on park benches, on the stairs, in class, on couches in the library, on the grassy knoll, in quiet areas or loud. It is possible to find nappers in the most obscure places on campus.
We could debate about whether this author meant something different by using the word "hobo" instead of "homeless." Hobo implies some choice in lifestyle as well as carrying a slightly romantic air. That we've romanticized the "tramp" or "hobo" is in itself problematic; it allows things like this article to imply that homeless people choose to be homeless, or enjoy being homeless. It elides the systemic inequalities in our country that lead to crippling poverty and homelessness. It elides the fact that the vast majority of homeless people are single women with children, by putting forth the image of the "hobo," a carefree, wandering man. And the comparison of the homeless with college students assumes, incorrectly, that there's no such thing as a homeless college student.

What this article actually says is offensive enough, but what it elides makes it reprehensible.
It isn't easy to live the life of a college student, or a hobo, but it will not last forever. Unless you decide to further your education, a job after graduation will give you a bit more stability. The job you so desire will give you a constant influx of cash that will hopefully allow you to keep your cool in the presence of free food, while wearing clean clothes on a regular basis. Rest assured, this lifestyle is temporary.
This conclusion is horrifying. Let's not talk about actual homeless college students, for whom sleeping in the library is not just a convenient alternative to going to your dorm or apartment, but one of very few undesirable options. For whom getting something to eat, a place to shower, or a place to sleep are a struggle, all on top of keeping up with schoolwork and paying for tuition. This could have been a thoughtful article, one that pointed out that joking about being "homeless" because you're broke (not poor) and nap on campus is incredibly insensitive and offensive. It could have motioned toward the fact that A&M likely has its own homeless students, who have few resources in dealing with their struggle. Instead it emphasizes that your own "hobo" lifestyle in college is temporary (and thus humorous!). By celebrating the financial security of the upwardly mobile (and, for the most part, already middle- or upper-middle-class) students of A&M, this piece has a problematic takeaway: Your privilege means you can make jokes about whatever you want, because serious downers like homelessness and poverty don't touch your life. It's not a problem if it's not your problem.

If you're homeless in the Bryan/College Station area, contact Family Promise or Twin City Mission. (Feel free to list other resources in the comments.)

You can contact the opinion editor for the Batt, Ian McPhail, at opinion@thebatt.com, or the general editor, Matt Woolbright, at editor@thebatt.com.

06 October 2010

Connecting with female characters in geek television

Cross-posted at Geek Feminism.

s. e. smith wrote this amazing post a while back at Bitch's Push(back) at the Intersections: "I Just Don't Like That Many Female Characters." And I read it and was like, "OMG GEEK CULTURE." Because, really:
'I just don't really like many female characters, you know?'

I see this coming up again and again in discussions about pop culture; this is an attitude I myself once embraced and espoused, like it was a badge of honor to dislike most female characters. I thought I was being oh-so-edgy and critiquing female characters when really I was engaging in an age-old form of misogyny, where people prove how progressive they are by saying they hate women.

I know, it sounds weird. But there is a thing that happens where some feminists declare themselves firmly to be 'one of the guys.' I'm not sure if it's a defensive tactic, designed to flip some attitudes about feminism and feminists, or if there is a genuine belief that being feminist means 'being one of the guys.' Once you are 'one of the guys,' you of course need to prove it by bashing on women, because this is what 'guys' do, yes? So you say that you don't really 'connect with' or 'like' female characters you encounter in pop culture.
If feminists feel pressure to be accepted as "one of the guys," imagine how geek women feel, particularly early in their lives, when they often feel isolated from one another.
This tendency to dislike female character reminds me of another "being one of the guys" strategy: I often meet women who tell me proudly, "I just don't get along with women.* All of my best friends have been guys." These women also often think that this fact actually makes them progressive (because nothing's more radical than failing to create female-centric relationships!). And most of the women I've known who say this are geeks. It's actually one of the reasons it took so long for me to become friends with geeks, because "I don't get along with women" is dealbreaker for me. Any woman who says this is either a) telling me that I can never expect more than perfunctory friendship with them or b) inviting me to denigrate women as well, as the basis of our friendship. And no thank you.

Which is not, of course, to say that these ladies are horrible people. Women who refuse to connect with other women, fictional or real, are not causing the problem, but perpetuating it, because they've bought patriarchal narratives about women hook, line, and sinker. They seek connections with men, because men are the rational, smarter set, and by doing so they feel required to malign their own genders, because, as smith points out, "bashing on women" is just what dudes do. But loving other women, connecting with other women, is one of the most radical feminist act one can perform. And I think that goes for fictional characters, too, especially since I know that my personal path to feminism would have been greatly hindered if it weren't for Xena and Buffy.

So it hurts my heart when geeks inexplicably "hate" female characters on geek shows. Indeed, the two examples smith uses are actually from geeky/fantasy/SF shows: True Blood and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It seems like misogynist write-offs of female characters are disturbingly prevalent in allegedly progressive fan cultures (like the overtly feminist Buffy), and the ones that have been pissing me off lately are, of course, Doctor Who-related. A sizeable part of DW and Torchwood fandoms has a lot of ire for female characters from these series. The two I want to focus on, in part because hatred of these characters is well-represented in both fan communitities, are Gwen Cooper (from Torchwood) and River Song (from Doctor Who).

[Spoilers for season 5 of Doctor Who and Torchwood: Children of Earth (season 3) below the fold.]

[Trigger warning for imagined violence against female characters, slut-shaming, and other misogynistic language.]

02 October 2010

Learning Curve...

My friend Rena wrote this post recently, about how her recent exposure to feminism has helped her to learn some things about healthy relationships. She's a lovely lady, and I hope you enjoy! (Courtney)

Cross-posted from JMBL.

Having just ended a relationship, I thought it might be a good idea to catalogue what this relationship taught me. Well, I was also partially inspired by another blog post I read.

This relationship taught me a lot about what I like and don't like... and what I want and don't want. Aside from personal preferences though, I also learned a few things about what a good relationship should be.

Relationships are built on trust and communication.

Well, I've always known that, really. It was one of my keywords back when I was 18, before I got married. Yet, I think I didn't pay enough attention to it . This applies really to any relationship: friends, lovers, family... the quality of the relationship will depend on the level of communication and trust.

The confusing part for me this time around was attempting to figure out how to make this work with someone who had some rather fundamental differences in belief. Yes, I believe it's possible for two people to not believe in exactly the same things, or necessarily be passionate about the same things, and still have a healthy relationship. It's something I had no previous experience with though, since my only previous relationship was with someone who shared all of my fundamental beliefs. I think that hesitation and confusion led me to be far more forgiving of some things than I ought to have been.

Warning Sign #1: No respect for Boundaries

One of the things that this experience really drove home for me was that someone who can't respect boundaries is not someone I ever want to be in a relationship with. When they ask me about things that make me cry, and know that this causes me distress, yet continue to ask and to push, that's a sign that they care less about hurting me than about what they want. When they ask me to do something to which I clearly say no, and continue to ask again and again, until I finally say yes, that's a sign that they're going to push for what they want, regardless of what might be best for me. When I clearly state that something is not okay, and they try to do it anyway, then claim they have forgotten... it's more likely a sign that they care more about what they want than about showing me respect.

Warning Sign #2: Reluctance to Clarify

First, a really great quote about how to clarify what you want from someone else before you enter into a non-exclusive relationship (though I think some of these things would be good to talk about before entering into an exclusive relationship also):
I always set down at the outset - what does the other person want to be told, or not, about other partners?  How do we handle mutual friends, and who can get told, or can nobody?  How much notice is needed before showing up?  What things, sexually, are off-limits?  Does the intimacy end at the bedroom door - all affection becomes friendly once outside it - or are we holding hands walking down the street and kissing on street corners?  What labels or answers do we feel comfortable giving when other people ask?  And the biggest agreement, which is if anyone's feelings change, the other person gets told immediately - whether it's growing disinterested or falling in love.  Either one can make everything end badly.
(It's a great post, but please be warned if you go to read it, that some of the content may be triggering for rape victims.) When I read this post, it made me realize that there were several things I hadn't asked that I probably should have. Being in a relationship where the lines are fuzzy and you are often confused is a sign that you need to clarify. Reluctance on the part of the other person to make those clarifications is definitely a warning sign. Asking and receiving no response may be a sign that you need to get out.

Warning Sign #3: No Response to Feedback

With me, I was in a situation very different from any situation I'd ever experienced before. This really drove home the need to be able to give feedback and have that listened to and responded to. Yes, response is crucial. See my last post. Effective communication requires feedback. If I say something and get no response, I don't know if I was clearly understood. Good relationships require you to be able to both give and receive this kind of feedback, because good relationships are all about figuring out what works for all parties involved. There is no generic template here. Each pairing of people entering into relationships have their own unique preferences and issues. When someone cannot, or is not willing to, discuss feedback issues, that's a warning sign that they may not really care about that feedback.

Warning Sign #4: You Can't Take What I Say Literally

Everyone jokes around sometimes and uses sarcasm or irony to mock things. Sometimes. When I find myself needing to reverse the meaning of about half of what someone is saying though, that starts to become a problem. When their manner of joking is to frequently insult me, though they clearly intend it to be taken as a joke, I start to wonder if it's really a joke. And then I found this:
Our culture tells men constantly that women emasculate you, that they're gross and icky, that they ruin everything, that they deserve violence and punishment, thatthey ruin your life once you're married, that they deserve to be hated. And you and your buddies joking about how women are only good for sex and cooking are not fucking helping.
In this post, Courtney links to another post that has much more eloquent things to say about the issue than I ever could. The point though? The point is that just because you didn't really mean it, or just because you intended your words to be taken as a joke - doesn't mean that they were. When someone you're in a relationship with tells you that the solution to this is that you need to lighten up and realize that they are not serious/joking most of the time, that's a warning sign. The real solution? They need to work on clearer communication. Maybe they should learn to say what they actually mean instead of wanting other people to always understand that they do NOT mean what they are actually saying. It might even be a warning sign that they DO mean what they are actually saying, and that calling it a joke, or saying, "I would never actually mean that!" is merely an excuse to cover their butt.

Warning Sign #5: I'm Going to Tell You What I Am; That Makes it Okay.

Here's my last thing to keep in mind for the future. I recently read this article:
This is the “I’m Such A Dick” Gambit. And before we proceed, it is time to discuss. For the “I’m Such a Dick” Gambit, aside from being the world’s Number One Most Popular Rhetorical Device To Open Your Sexist Op-Ed With, is also one of the more fearsome and annoying weapons of psychological warfare in existence.
I really HIGHLY recommend the article. Because here's the thing: When someone tells you that they are a bastard, they're often doing it to manipulate you.
I’m such a dick! Do you not find me charming?

We have already established that this person is an asshole; he admits to it. We’ve also established that being an asshole is funny and cool. Your choices are to laugh along, congratulate him on his discernment — wow, people who aren’t Dick really ARE losers, aren’t they? — or RUIN EVERYTHING FOREVER BECAUSE YOU’RE MEAN AND HATE FUN. Magically, by admitting that he is a total prick sometimes, Dick has managed to leave you, the person who objects to his behavior, holding the bag.
Saying what they are is a ploy to take away our ability to object to their behavior.
(And if the confession is made with any degree of sadness, watch out. Chances are that you are dealing with a Level Two Dick, or “Pity Dick,” who is shielded from critique by his own poor self-esteem, forged from the fires of Hell into an unstoppable weapon that lets him get away with basically anything, because if you’re mean he might cry.)
Our response might even be to defend them: "No, you're not a bastard. You're just human." Now we've just given them permission to continue acting like a bastard. So when someone starts saying something along the lines of, "I'm such a bastard," it may be a warning sign that they actually ARE a bastard. Feeling bad is different from being bad.


I think I still have a lot to learn about how to have a healthy relationship with someone who doesn't share all of my fundamental beliefs. At the very least though, I've learned a lot about what to watch out for, and how to identify behaviors that are not simply differences in belief, but warning signs that this is not a person I can have a healthy relationship with, regardless of beliefs.

25 September 2010

Quote of the Day

Getting people past an individualized approach to sexism is hard enough most of the time -- it's that much harder when the people in question believe that they, too, have been persecuted (as "beta males") and thus know just as much about the topic as women. Let me be clear: geek men often do suffer by virtue of failing to live up to hegemonic masculinity. However, they are nonetheless still men with all of the privilege this entails, even if their patriarchal dividend is slightly smaller than that of some other men.

20 September 2010

Quote of the day

"You know, conservatives always talk about how they want to return to some magical Golden Age of America, circa 1945 to 1960, and I say we start with bringing back the 80%+ tax rate that the wealthiest Americans paid at that time. Yay for nostalgia."

-Melissa McEwan at Shakesville

An unscheduled personal break

So, Ryan and I broke up, which is why the end of my blogging break was followed by zero posts. My heart is a little broken, so it may take me a bit to get myself together and writing again. Just wanted to let you guys know I haven't forgotten about you, and I'll be back soon.

06 September 2010

Some links for you.

I don't know how cleansing this break was. A lot of it was me saying to myself, "ergh, I just don't care about the internet today." Which may sound like nothing, but "the internet" is the community in which I participate to make up for the fact that I have few friends in real life. So I did connect a bit more with them these past couple of weeks, and even made a few new ones. (It's fall, so there's new blood in the department. I'm pretty excited about that.) But I've just been feeling sort of apathetic and ungrounded. Clearly, all those folks who say the internet makes you less sociable and breaks up community are stupid. But I'm back! So let's get me out of this funk with a linkspam.

First, because I like starting with Doctor Who, I ran across this article at Overthinking It in which the author perfectly identifies why season 5 is just not doing it for me--a lack of thematic consistency. So ze re-writes the season to give that consistency, and it's actually pretty fucking amazing. It's also a long read, so bookmark it for later if you need to.

Another longish read about Doctor Who is the beginning of Ryan's fanfic, featuring the ginger Doctor. Yeah, you heard that right. "Leena and Red and Those Who Never Were." It's a million times better than every NuWho book I've ever read, which is a lot of them.

There were a number of fantastic posts about gaming, women, and sexism the last couple of weeks. It was kicked off by Pewter's "I Don't See Your Problem: Sexism, World of Warcraft, and Geekery" at The Mental Shaman. She also has a round-up of responses and related posts up at her blog. Related: "Ain't I a Gamer?" at the Border House and Quin's "Daughter of Zero Queens: Roleplaying as Resistance" (really recommended), as at the Border House.

Geek Feminism Blog also put up a post about "The Myth of White Male Geek Rationality" recently. It is, like, everything I've ever wanted to say to scientists, but with less swearing.

From Julian Abagond at Sociological Images, the perennial question I've heard in the gaming and anime worlds: "Why Do the Japanese Draw Themselves as White?" The answer: they don't. We only think we do because we assume white as default.

"In Defense of Being Crazy": Gayle talks about the importance of self-identification and language use in that process. (Full disclosure: I am actually a big fan of, and have a lot of respect for, both Gayle and s.e. smith from FWD.)

Sexist Beatdown is back! Amanda and Sady talk about Eminem, Rihanna, and domestic violence. Awesomeness, as it always does with them, ensues.

This lovely comic from Ampersand illustrates the sexism behind street harassment and the oft-repeated response that women should take it as a compliment:

I actually got catcalled on the street the other day. I was walking from my apartment to the corner store to get some cokes at about 9 or 9:30, and some dude called out, "Hey baby." (I couldn't see him, because our street is poorly lit. Presumably because there are no sidewalks.) I ignored him. "Hey sexy lady. Come over here!" I walked faster, and I was scared and pissed, because I immediately thought, maybe I should have brought Ryan with me. To walk 2 blocks. It was humiliating to think, even for a second. Fuck.


(A pretty thin woman in a yellow dress in from of a fake pink castle interior.)

If you find a man who's big and hairy and beastly and it seems like he wants to hurt you, buuut he's got a lot of money and a really big house, stick it out, you can change him.

(She does a little dance as the title "Advice for Young Girls From a Cartoon Princess" appears in chunky hot pink letter.)

Desire is when a man wants you so much that he's willing to yell at you and beat down your door and tell you if you don't eat with him, you don't eat at all. It also kinda means he wants you to be skinny.

There was once a really hot, successful man who was very goal-oriented and extremely popular who wanted to marry me, but I didn't feel like it was enough of a challenge. Never settle for something that doesn't feel like it's a challenge.

I don't like the term "beastiality;" it sounds...blegh. I like the term "interspeciality" because it sounds like "special."

Find a man who wants to imprison you with his love. The longer that you're trapped with the same person, it will start to feel like home. Stockholm!

You don't need to have fancy people friends. Things around your house can be your friends. Don't just sit on furniture--talk to it. Candlesticks are really good at love advice because they're French!

The key to love is to tolerate everything. Oh god...everything.

The lesson here is beauty is in the eye of the beholder--as long as the woman is good looking.
 Um, YOU'RE WELCOME. This was one of my favorite Disney movies growing up. (I used to have a Beauty and the Beast tent set up on my bed, that I slept in. Maybe this is why I'm claustrophobic.) So I love this video inordinately.

04 September 2010


Gayle's pictures of her adorable cat playing in the sheets inspired me to show you my babies, since I never have. Here's Captain Pusspants, my big squishy:

Get that camera out of my face, woman!

I love books.

The desk is where kitties belong.

Lucy (short for Lucilla Marjoribanks) doesn't like me taking pictures of her.

Hi there.

26 August 2010

Guest post at The Rejectionist

I am just a linker lately. I have a guest post up (with an astoundingly long title) at The Rejectionist, talking about how one can be a feminist lady and a Victorian science fiction academic at the same time. My life is full of negotiations, it seems. So go read it! And if you don't read The Rejectionist already, you should. It's rather fab.

Also, the Daleks would have been so much scarier if they were more like the Martians in this picture. Machine bodies that aren't clunky! Creepy-ass tentacles that actually do things! Daleks would so get owned by the Martians.

21 August 2010

A break

We need one. And, since my lower back decided to make it unbelievably painful for me to sit at the computer, walk, or do any-fucking-thing, today is a good day to start. Adrienne's off to Burning Man soon (envy!) and I need to be getting into school-is-about-to-start-I-have-prepared-nothing panic mode soon. So we'll be taking off a couple weeks from blogging, though I'll drop in every once in a while with links or pithy remarks. Enjoy the end of summer, folks! We'll see you when it's over.

20 August 2010

She Geek: Women and Self-Labeling in Online Geek Communities

(The following is a project I did for my sociolinguistics course, and I thought you guys might like it. Enjoy!)

My intent in this project was to examine the labeling of female-oriented geek spaces on the internet. What I found was that self-labeling of geek women often defeats the potentially subversive act of creating a female-oriented geek community.

I would argue that the mere creation or and participation in geek communities labeled “for women” are aggressive acts towards male-dominated geek culture. One of the reasons we can see these communities as a challenge to mainstream geek culture is the still-prevailing myth of internet neutrality.

This myth argues that since we are “disembodied” on the internet, everyone begins on equal ground.

Bodies don't matter in cyberspace. This is not how it works in real life, however, particularly in geek spaces. It is true that until you mark yourself as Other than the privileged class—male, heterosexual, cisgendered, abled, middle-class, and white—you will be assumed to be those things. However, this will not protect you from hate speech or sexist, racist, and homophobic “jokes,” since geek communities often engage in these forms of discourse. Even objecting to these discursive acts, without revealing the state of one's own body, will immediately mark you as Other, and leave you vulnerable to harassment and denigration. By labeling their spaces as for women, female geeks challenge the neutrality myth, by making their female bodies conspicuous and by demonstrating a need for safe cyberspaces for women.

In a study of the language of male gamers playing within a Quake server, Natasha Christensen claims that
Even though the world of cyberspace allows for the possibility that gender can be transformed, men in Jeff's Quake Server continue to relate to each other in ways which support male dominance and heterosexual male superiority. [...] In the bodiless realm of cyberspace, it is fascinating to note that men who are able to create an alternate world where masculinity is defined differently do not take this opportunity. Instead, real life is mimicked not only by taking on the physical attributes of strength, but also by using ways of talk that emphasize aggression and sexual dominance.


Therefore, in the same way that sports and war help to perpetuate the concept of male dominance through physical strength, the Quake server also promotes the idea of success through aggression and violence. [...] Sports and war games became a way for white middle class men to fight their fears of social feminization. At the turn of this century, online computer games are being used in the same manner. Computer geeks who are especially vulnerable to the accusations of being less than manly are able both through the actions and discourse on Quake to demonstrate the qualities required of hegemonic masculinity. Emphasis is placed on the strength of the masculine body while discourse sets the players apart from anything that is feminine.
The same patriarchal standards that put women at a disadvantage also disadvantage computer and other geeks. Often, geeks cite an experience of growing up with bullying and teasing, precisely because they do not live up to hegemonic masculinity. Instead of using cyberspace to fight against hegemonic masculinity, however, geek men often use it to buttress those standards and fulfill them discursively instead of physically. This is precisely why geek women find online geek spaces—necessarily discursive spaces—to be so unwelcoming and hostile. And it is through alternative discourse, whether blogging or forum writing or fanfiction, that women challenge this culture of hypermasculinity.

By marking their spaces as “for women,” even while inviting men, female geeks mark themselves as physical bodies just as conclusively as the homophobic and misogynistic discourse of Quake players marks their bodies as male. And by doing so, women respond to and challenge both the hypermasculine discourse prevalent in online geek spaces and the myth of the neutral, disembodied cyber subject.

Geek Culture & Its Discontents

Matthew S. S. Johnson writes in “Public Writing in Gaming Spaces” that
Gamers who participate in writing activities, including blogs, strategy guides, walkthroughs, fanfic, and forums, “foster their own sense of agency through active participation in and frequent contribution to gaming communities in the form of written texts. Collectively, they not only gain influence over other gamers participating in games or game-related community projects, but also over the production companies who produce the software that originally inspired them” (271).
Johnson argues that these online gaming writing projects are an example of civic participation and public writing. I would like to expand his argument to include similar writing projects in all geek fandoms. One of the most common reasons that fans cite for joining writing projects like blogs and forums is that they wish to join a like-minded community. When women join geek communities and find gendered hostility, joining or forming a female-oriented alternative spaces is not only a reaction to male-dominated communities, but a civic response to them. Forming a Livejournal group for geek women is, I would argue, a move to challenge and change the mainstream geek communities.

We can see this desire to gain civic agency through discursive acts in many minority geek writings. Garland Grey, for example, writes in 'Cause I'm Nerdcore Like That: Toward a Subversive Geek Identity,
Writing our own comics, and blogs and forming our own communities gives us strength. When confronted with the cultural purity police, the ones who swoop in to Geeksplain to us, we can answer from a position of solidarity. We can create safe spaces of our own. Spaces where we can debate and discuss the ways Science Fiction comments on society’s treatment of The Other, spaces where our voices aren’t drowned out by simplistic fanaticism. A place where, for instance, a group of people can watch one of the X-Men movies and someone can, during one of the many scenes where Cyclops and Wolverine are having tense arguments about who is better for Jean Gray [...] simply scream out GAWWWWD JUST KISS ALREADY! BROKEBACK THAT SHIT! and not have people get all middle school about it.
 Garland argues that by creating separate discursive spaces, like queer-oriented or female-oriented forums, subversive geeks can create their own authority, one strong enough to stand up to the mainstream, white, male, cisgendered geek authority. His example, in which fans can “scream out” a reference to queer subtext, indicates that what non-mainstream geeks need is a space to speak without worrying about hegemonic gender and sexuality standards. Unlike the highly-policed Quake server, then, geek women (and geeks of color, disabled geeks, queer geeks, trans geeks) need a space of free discourse, in order to change the larger geek culture.

So, what does the labeling of these communities do for this potentially subversive discursive project? Let's move on to my data collection and results.


My data came from Livejournal, which I chose because it is an online community with a reputation for being more female-friendly than other places online, and thus attracts more women-oriented communities and female geeks to join them.

I used a series of search words intended to bring up mainstream groups that self-identify as geeky or nerdy. This series was as follows: geek, nerd, science fiction/sci fi,Star Trek, Star Wars, Doctor Who, comic book/graphic novel, fantasy, Lord of the Rings, gaming/gamer, World of Warcraft. To collect my data, I went systematically through each the search results for each search term and identified the groups meant for women. Each group then needed to fulfill a number of criteria to be included.


I only included groups whose titles indicated that they are intended for women. I excluded groups that hinted toward a female focus (like Squee Corner) without explicitly stating that focus. This was mostly to avoid ambiguity. The point of this project is to see how women label themselves when they create geek communities for themselves. Thus I can only count groups that explicitly label themselves “for women.”

To avoid groups that do not attract members or activity, each group must have at least 3 posts. However, the activity does not have to be recent.

If the group is intended to sell something, it will only be counted if the description indicates that the creator/seller herself is a geek.I only included one result that was intended to sell a product, because the creator clearly intended to create a community of geek women, while also selling her geek-inspired jewelry.


Once I collected the groups that fit the criteria, I counted the gendered words (e.g. girl(s), women, female, heroine(s), ladies) in the titles and subtitles of all the communities for women. If the title and subtitle repeat a gendered word (like Geek Girls Anon: Because Geek Girls Need Love Too), the word is only counted once for that title. If the title and subtitle contain multiple gendered words, I counted each word once for that title (for example, Warhammer Online Ladies: Female Gamers counts as 1 example of ladies and 1 example of female).


I found 52 Livejournal communities that fit the criteria, with the following breakdown: 18 general geek and nerd, 4 general science fiction, 5 Star Wars, 2 science fiction/fantasy, 1 fantasy, 2 Lord of the Rings, 16 gaming, 4 World of Warcraft.

The 52 Livejournal groups had 55 labels. Girl makes up almost 40% of these labels, significantly more than any other label. Considering the great variety of gendered terms used by geek women, the popularity of girl is surprising. So why do geek women choose to label themselves girls so often? None of the groups' profiles indicated that these groups were for anything other than adult women, yet they consistently describe themselves as geek girls.

If the creation of separatist spaces is a radical and civic act, why do women choose the label girl so often? I think that the label of girl can be harmful to the project of challenging geek culture, and that it is often chosen specifically for that property.
Feminism & Female Aggression
In an article on the BBC News site covering the worldwide phenomenon of Girl Geek Dinners, a networking organization for women with careers or personal interest in technology, the author reports that Girl Geek Dinners rejects the label of feminism. Said one of the organizers:
In a sense [Geek Girl Dinners] is a feminist movement as it aspires to a lot of the same ideals but I don't want it to be seen as something that is feminist as this can be seen as something marginal or negative.

We're not trying to be radical or disruptive, but to show that women have a place in technology. [emphasis mine]
While Geek Girl Dinners is not active on Livejournal, the attitude shown here seems commonplace in communities intended for geek women. Geek women often don't want to rock the boat, and see the political element of making an all-female geek community to be “radical” and “disruptive.” We can see this pattern in some of the profiles of the Livejournal communities labeled with girl, which we'll look at next. 
I created this community so that girl gamers could find each other and talk about gaming with people who take them seriously- not because of some imaginary hatred for the male gender. Some of my favorite people are boys; but any girl gamer will tell you that it's difficult to talk games (I mean *really* talk games) with a guy. It's just a fact of life. We love you, for honest. Try not to feel so threatened, aye? ;)
This entire paragraph is meant to display non-aggression—the reference to “some imaginary hatred for the male gender,” “some of my favorite people are boys,” “we love you, for honest,” and “try not to feel so threatened, aye?” Even the winking smiley face at the end is intended to communicate that this group is not meant to intimidate geek men.

This is a rating community for Geeks with Chic. It's open to Females and Males alike, despite the name of the community. I thought I better open it up to both sexes, can't have me being sexist now can we?
This one is slightly sarcastic, but since the groups actually allows both men and women to join, it still communicates that the group is not threatening to the male-domination of geek culture. Out of the 52 groups on Livejournal, a full quarter of them explicitly invite men to join, indicating that these groups' desire to appear non-threatening to male geeks. The use of the label girl is, I believe, related to this desire. Girl indicates immaturity, non-threatening femininity, and a lack of aggression. Because of the powerful statement that all-female geek communities make in their mere existence, geek women who don't want to be “radical” or “disruptive” use tactics such as labeling themselves girls or chicks or fangirls, as well as describing themselves in non-threatening ways and inviting men to join their communities.

I don't want to shut out the possibility that geek women can reclaim the label girl and use it in a way that does not connote non-threatening, or challenges and plays with the damaging stereotypes imposed by male geeks, in much the same way that geek women use the terms estrogen brigade and fangirl. However, while it is possible for women to effectively claim the label girl, when this labeling is coupled with other tactics of non-aggression, it counteracts the subversive potential of geek communities oriented toward women.
Refusing Heteronormativity?
There's another, less depressing answer to the question, “Why do geek women call themselves girls?” That answer is that some geek women are refusing to participate in the heterosexual matrix. In a study of nerd girls in a California high school, Mary Bucholtz notes that
Refusal to participate in the heterosexual matrix is also linked to the flouting of conventional displays of femininity and masculinity. […] Nerd girls do not wear revealing clothing, and although sometimes they may wear items decorated with Sesame Street characters or other emblems of childhood, these do not exhibit the combination of infantilization and sexualization evoked by the clothing of the cool white girls. […] (123).
Bucholtz notes that nerd girls in high school reject conventional femininity in their clothing choices, and while they embrace “childish” fashion, their doing so does not correspond with a sexualization. It is possible that some of the Livejournal groups that use girl to describe themselves are doing so in the same vein; by using girl, they are rejecting the conventional femininity connoted with the words ladies or women, but also rejecting the sexualized connotation of girl, one that links girl with submissiveness and non-aggression. Considering the widespread objectification and sexualization of women in male-dominated geek culture, calling oneself a girl can be a radical act in itself, refusing to be considered a female body ready for sexual appropriation by one's subculture.

The ways in which geek women label themselves is complex and multi-layered, and deserves further study. Looking at the ways in which geek women self-label could throw light on how women in more mainstream culture react to the negative connotations of female gender labels, and on the coping mechanisms of women who exist in male-dominated subcultures.

Works Cited

Bucholtz, Mary. “Geek the Girl: Language, Femininity, and Female Nerds.” Gender and Belief Systems: Proceedings of the 4th Berkeley Women and Language Conference. Ed. Natasha Warner, Jocelyn Ahlers, Leela Bilmes, Monica Oliver, Suzanne Wertheim, and Melinda Chen. Berkeley: Berkeley Women and Language Group, 1998. Print. 119-131.

Christensen, Natasha Chen. “Geek at Play: Doing Masculinity in an Online Gaming Site.” Reconstruction 6.1 (2006): n.p. Reconstruction: Studies in Contemporary Culture. Reconstruction, 2006. Web. 5 August 2010.

“Geek Girl Chic.” Community profile for geekgirlchic. Livejournal. geekgirlchic, 10 September 2006. Web. 8 August 2010. http://community.livejournal.com/geekgirlchic/profile

“Girlgamer’s Journal.” Community profile for girlgamers. Livejournal. girlgamers, 1 August 2010. Web. 8 August 2010. http://community.livejournal.com/girlgamers/profile

Grey, Garland. “‘Cause I’m Nerdcore Like That: Toward a Subversive Geek Identity.” Tiger Beatdown. Tiger Beatdown, 28 July 2010. Web. 3 August 2010.

Johnson, Matthew S. S. “Public Writing in Gaming Spaces.” Computers and Composition 25 (2008): 270-283. ScienceDirect. Web. 6 August 2010.

Knowles, Jamillah. “Girl Geek Appeal: Women’s Movement Online.” BBC News. BBC, 7 May 2010. Web. 8 August 2010.