Frankly, I don't have much to report this week. Or, I have lots to report and not the energy to do the reporting. You know those times of your life when you are so busy busy busy, but at the end of the day you can't really remember what's gone on, or where you are? Yeah, hello from that land. Land, I dub thee "Frenzilandia". Apparently, this is the (parallel universe) land where I have not foresworn kale or green smoothies. That feels like a confession I should have saved for an actual, proper, literal confessional booth. Anyway, think of me in the rolling green-smoothie-filled lands of Frenzilandia whilst you pore over the topnotch internet artefacts below. Enjoy!
- On medieval peen:
o Just to be clear, by “peen”, yes, I do mean “penis”. Yes, medieval people had genitals too! Thanks to the glory of Twitter, and medievalist Gillian Kenny, I can present to you the medieval, wearable and whimsical version of modern-day dick pics. How about a fourteenth or fifteenth-century lead badge showing three humanoid phalluses carrying a vulva on a litter? Or a mid-fourteenth-century lead badge featuring a peen-on-legs bowing to a noble vulva-on-legs? Or – hold the phone! – an illustration of a fierce nun HARVESTING PEEN from a PEEN TREE, from a fourteenth-century French manuscript? Yup, that's the image above. Fabulous. If you fancy learning a bit more about the image, its female illustrator and the manuscript its in, check out a blog post by Lucy Allen.
- On images (not just of cute animals, promise):
o On a particularly stressful day, I vented my tormented spleen to my dearest friend, a sterling and stalwart companion who I’ll call Mo. As ever, she was brilliant, providing sympathetic listening (i.e .agreeing wholeheartedly with my nebulous rant), a pep talk, and a link to some soothing and cute internet animals. Everybody needs a Mo on their speed dial. I’m passing on the love by sharing a link to Sheldon the Tiny Dinosaur, a web-comic about a tiny dinosaur who thinks he’s a turtle. Joy!
o In the Guardian, Jess Cartner-Morley writes about the evolution of the Pirelli calendar since its beginning in 1964. The pin-up calendar, packed full of women half-naked to promote tyres (at least in theory), – has become a lauded artistic artefact, attracting top-flight models and photographers. Cartner-Morley sketches out the power dynamics (and negotiations) between ostensibly down-market low-class brand (Pirelli make tyres, after all) and goddesses of the runway, noting that:
Pirelli’s triumph is a masterclass in image management, one that leverages basic instincts in a sophisticated marketplace. Its power lies in the fact that being acknowledged as sexually attractive is a valuable asset to women in the public eye, whereas being seen as sexually available is demeaning. So the deal Pirelli strikes with photographers and models is that they get to be sexy, and Pirelli gets to be classy.
o Since 2011, Japanese artist-photographer Tatsuya Tanaka has posted a picture of miniature tableaux daily, featuring tiny human figures posed with banal household objects. (You can buy Tanaka’s coffee table book here.) The pictures are clean, witty, and intelligent – making the viewer rethink their relationship to the quotidian objects pictured, and recontextualise the objects themselves, teasing out alternate values for this regular stuff we all take for granted as “not-art”. I adore Tanaka’s mission statement, on the “About” page:
Everyone must have had similar thoughts at least once.
Broccoli and parsley might sometimes look like a forest, or the tree leaves floating on the surface of the water might sometimes look like little boats. Everyday occurrences seen from a pygmy’s perspective can bring us lots of fun thoughts.
I wanted to take this way of thinking and express it through photographs, so I started to put together a “MINIATURE CALENDAR” These photographs primarily depict diorama-style figures surrounded by daily necessaries.
Just like a standard daily calendar, the photos are updated daily on my website and SNS page, earning it the name of “MINIATURE CALENDAR”
It would be great if you could use it to add a little enjoyment to your everyday life.
- On women kicking ass and/or navigating life:
o I shared a piece by Jess Zimmerman in my last Internet Bibliography, and am happy to have another incandescent article to share this time around. On Hazlitt, Zimmerman details her decision to leave her husband in 2012. It is - as we have come to expect from Zimmerman - an elegant, insightful and incisive piece, a meditation about what it is to be a woman in our society as much as it is about one specific woman’s hard and necessary choices. She writes:
It felt inexplicable. Sometimes I called it “my early midlife crisis.” Other times I called it “my nervous breakdown,” but in a tone that made it clear I was joking even though I also wasn’t. I often thought of those fungi that infest ants, take over their bodies, and make them march from the nest to wherever the fungus wants to go. Zombie ants.
But it wasn’t really inexplicable. It was, in fact, fairly mundane. What had happened was this: I realized that, like many women, I had made all the decisions of my life on someone else’s behalf. I knew how to figure out other people’s expectations, and how to try to dodge their disappointment, and how to stay out of the way and not nag and not need things. I didn’t know what I actually wanted, at all.
In small, tidy caps, I’ve scrawled out my favourite line on a purple post-it put it up on my wall (see the picture that above): ‘…nobody tells you the phoenix is born as a tender, featherless baby bird.’ Something to keep in mind when we go about this terrifying business of life.
o Over at Metafilter, user dublin asks what she – as an established female engineer – should say to new female engineering students at university. Mefites, as ever, chime in with an array of useful content, and share some personal stories about navigating a traditionally male field. Useful and engaging resource for all female academics and all of us who interact with students.
o In New York Magazine, Kerry Howley profiles female big-game hunter Rebecca Francis, shamed on Twitter by Ricky Gervais for happily posing with her latest kill, a magnificent giraffe. The story was published – somewhat unfortunately – shortly before reports emerged that American hunter-dentist Walter Palmer had shot and killed beloved Zimbabwean lion Cecil. This scheduling near-miss, however, doesn’t detract from the verve of the article, which teases out the various discomforts people have with Francis, the ways in which she herself views hunting, and the potential dichotomy of Francis’ approach to femininity. As an important bonus, read a series of tweets by Ijeoma Oluo unpacking the horrific absurdity of mass mourning for Cecil, swift justice planned for his killer compared to apathy and nonchalance in response to American people of colour. For example:
But we also think it's fucking gross that this dude is more likely to go to prison for killing a lion than he would for killing a black man.— Ijeoma Oluo (@IjeomaOluo) July 29, 2015
o This month, Captain Kristen Griest and first lieutenant Shaye Have have become the first female army rangers in US military history. The testing to become a ranger is beyond brutal: Griest and Have deserve the highest respect, irrelevant of gender, for attaining ranger status. Nick Palmisciano – a West Point grad who went through Ranger School himself – presents his response to the Grist and Have’s achievement. It’s an interesting viewpoint into the way in which negative/misogynist views can and do shift when an individual is exposed to the reality of women in their (working) life. Whilst Palmisciano initially considered female soldiers weaker, less than their male counterparts at West Point, he quickly discovered that this is just not the case. Now, he trumpets his pride for the first female rangers, and concedes that they are, quite simply, tougher than him.
o I am so jealous of Lacey Donohue. She had a killer idea for a reflective article for Jezebel: reviewing the story of her 20s life through the prism of Amazon purchases. Fantastic idea, really brilliant. Sigh. Anyway, Donohue remarks:
Our Amazon order histories are not versions of ourselves we share often, but they offer a rare glimpse into our gloriously messy and occasionally embarrassing life stories. In these orders, it’s easy to track life’s twists and turns: presents sent to names long deleted from our phones, boxes shipped to houses we’ll never see again, books sent to friends who have since passed away. A glance at all our purchases—every single one—tells a far more compelling story than any Facebook feed ever could.
I’m compelled to wander through my own Amazon order history, and see what it throws up about the past iterations of me. I suggest you do the same, so we can swap notes over a cheeky daiquiri (straight up, no ice).
- On trigger warnings:
o In response to a series of articles by Kate Nonesuch discussing the use of trigger warnings in classrooms (1, 2), Mefite conspire offers an excellent, insightful piece of critique. They elucidate the misogyny inherent so frequently in push-back against trigger warnings, and analyse the rejection of such warnings more generally. For example:
One thing I've observed about the development of trigger warnings in the mainstream consciousness, is how much of it is wrapped up in misogyny and rape culture. Historically, the push for trigger warnings really originated with war veterans experiencing PTSD. As someone who frequently consults on accessibility, when I introduce trigger warnings in this context to people, no one really has any real objections to warning people that there might be gunshots or war scenes or blood - because hey, nationalism, we need to respect the folks who served our country. But veterans are not the only people who suffer from PTSD - the other really big demographic is women who have experienced rape or domestic violence. Yet, when we shift the dialogue from veterans to women, somehow trigger warnings become much more controversial.
- On disability issues:
o Liz Jackson blogs at The Girl with the Purple Cane about her life as a cane-user, designing for disability with fashionable and functional styles, and experiences from her life. I whole-heartedly support her campaign to make US retailer J. Crew sell a fashionable cane in their stores, thereby destigmatising mobility devices in the public imagination and providing those who use canes with more decent, fun, stylish choices. I’m working through her archive, but my favourite post of hers, so far, is a breakdown of the real phenomenon of “Post-Traumatic Growth” – the positive (yes, really) consequence that can flow from traumatic life experiences.
o As a sort of counterpoint, over on This Body is Not an Apology, Cara Liebowitz explains – with wit and verve – the massive problem of “inspiration porn” for those with disabilities. In essence, “inspiration porn” objectifies individuals with disabilities – they are viewed solely as a means for inspiring those without disabilities, who often coo and oooh over memes and images of the disabled “beating the odds”. Ick. Read Liebowitz’s piece and act accordingly please people.