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September 27, 2010

"Undateable," or, How Sexism Hurts Men Too

Greta Christina reviews the book "Undateable," which claims to help men avoid 311 things that make women not find them attractive. Greta points out what an utterly ridiculous standard this sets for men. And I applaud her for it. Greta Christina's Blog: How Sexism Hurts Men: "Undateable"
. . . Now, I will admit: Parts of this book are superficially funny, and a fair amount of its advice I agree with. Or rather, since one of my main objections to the book is "Who the hell cares what these women or anyone else thinks, who died and made them the arbiter of manhood?", it might be more accurate to say: A fair number of these authors' preferences are ones I share. (I don't like sandals with socks, either.) But I find a huge amount of this book utterly baffling. Many of its "Don'ts" seem entirely neutral, random to the point of being surreal. Don't own a van? Don't play video games? Don't be lactose intolerant? It's as if the authors were advising men, for the sweet love of Jesus, whatever else they do, if they want women to date them and have sex with them, don't eat green beans. And for me, many of the "Don'ts" in this book are actually positive "Do's." Making the whole exercise even more perplexing. (I like colored sheets, and body piercings, and guys who go to Star Trek conventions. So sue me.) Much more to the point, though: Taken together, these 311 pieces of advice on how to forge yourself into a dateable guy paint a picture of acceptable manhood -- not idealized manhood, not even desirable manhood, just base-level tolerable manhood -- that is so rigid, and so narrow, it rivals anything any woman has ever read in any stupid, shallow, "20 Tips On Catching a Man" women's magazine. It's so narrow, Odysseus himself couldn't navigate through it. It's so rigid, it'd make the manufacturers of Viagra jealous. The primary thrust of this book is that men ought to be manly -- but not too manly. They can't be girly or sissy... but they can't be macho gorillas, either. They have to find a perfect, razor-thin window of perfect masculinity. And they somehow have to not be self-conscious or anxious while doing it...since that's not very manly. . . .

September 24, 2010

Judge Reinstates Air Force Major Discharged Under DADT

Judge Reinstates Air Force Major Discharged Under DADT | TPMMuckraker
She appealed. In 2008, the Ninth District Court of Appeals ruled that the military can only fire a servicemember under Don't Ask, Don't Tell, if firing them will further the military's interests. The court sent the suit back to Leighton. Today, Leighton ruled that Witt's firing was unconstitutional. "The application of 'Don't Ask Don't Tell' to Major Margaret Witt does not significantly further the government's interest in promoting military readiness, unit morale and cohesion," he wrote in his ruling. "Her discharge from the Air Force Reserves violated her substantive due process rights under the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution. She should be restored to her position as a Flight Nurse with the 446th AES as soon as is practicable, subject to meeting applicable regulations touching upon qualifications necessary for continued service." He also said that her discharge hurt her unit. "The evidence before the Court is that Major Margaret Witt was an exemplary officer. She was an effective leader, a caring mentor, a skilled clinician, and an integral member of an effective team. Her loss within the squadron resulted in a diminution of the unit's ability to carry out its mission," Leighton wrote. "Good flight nurses are hard to find."

Demand for SEO making journalists see red

SEO means "search engine optimization," and is a codeword for "get lots of internet attention and ad revenue." What impact is SEO having on journalists? Reports from the field -- Nieman Journalism Lab
Some journalists I communicated with (who shall remain nameless so they can keep their jobs) say SEO is pushing them to the brink. The demand that every story generate traffic creates, in their minds, horrible pressure to produce work that will be measured only by how much it is read. The more they can seed their work with SEO terms and then promote their work on social media platforms, the better their metrics and the happier their bosses. But that formula can make for some very exhausted journalists. I emailed with one unhappy Washington Post reporter. She described a scene not unlike the one described by Jeremy W. Peters in The New York Times, with the majority of morning editors’ meetings focused on looking at web numbers and “usually, making coverage decisions based on that.” The reporter’s complained: If my blog has an awesome day, I get complimented on it. If I spend weeks digging into a really juicy story, I don’t hear anything from anyone (well, unless it gets picked up by Gawker or it gets epic levels of hits). So what should I spend my time doing? There have been several instances when reporters (or content producers) have been told by [SEO people] to drop everything they are doing and file some pithy blog post about the hot topic of the moment, which usually fades by the time we can get a story up.