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Alyssa Rosenberg: Feminist Media Criticism, George R.R. Martin’s A Song Of Ice And Fire, And That Sady Doyle Piece

Alyssa gets annoyed when another writer attacks GRRMartin for the roles of women in his Ice and Fire series and opens a discussion of fantasy literature, ideals, women's roles, and so much more. It's really a wonderful rebuttal to a thoroughly disingenuous piece. Feminist Media Criticism, George R.R. Martin’s A Song Of Ice And Fire, And That Sady Doyle Piece | ThinkProgress
. . . First, there’s the explicit statement that Sady thinks nerds are inherently inflexible morons incapable of accepting criticism or thinking deeply about the material they love with an eye towards its political flaws: Because here’s how it goes, when you criticize beloved nerd entertainments: You can try to be nuanced. You can try to be thoughtful. You can lay out your arguments in careful, extravagant, obsessive detail. And at the end of the day, here is what the people in the “fandom” are going to take away: You don’t like my toys? I hate you! So, get it out of your system now, because, guess what, George R.R. Martin fans? I don’t like your toys. Deal with that. Meditate for a while. Envision a blazing bonfire in a temple, and breathe in its warmth and serenity. Then, imagine me dumping all your comic books and action figures and first-edition hardback Song of Ice and Fire novels INTO the bonfire, and cackling wildly. Shockingly enough, saying things like this doesn’t actually make you cool. It makes you another iteration of the kind of person who insists that feminists like, say, me or Sady Doyle are shrewish harpies incapable of nuance or conversation. Now, sexism is more entrenched and more broadly impactful than disdain for nerds. But that doesn’t actually mean that these kinds of statements are useful or clever when they’re deployed by feminists against nerds in a way that they’re not when they’re deployed by misogynists against feminists. It is much, much easier to dismiss an entire genre or way of engaging with culture than to sort through it, to learn about the way people read it and take meaning from it, to identify, for example, the reasons that fantasy literature can be both profoundly meaningful to women and a fulfillment of male fantasies. But declaring something unsalvageable just means that you’re lazy, not that you’re correct. It forecloses any possibility of change within a community, or as Paul Crider put it in response to Doyle deleting a bunch of comments on the site by men, “If a male is intrinsically incapable of contributing valid criticism of a feminist critique, then what is the point of a male trying to understand the critique at all? ” And such broad-based attacks on nerds ignore the work of people who identify as members of that community and are working to make it a better, safer place, be it the women of the Mary Sue or the women of the Con Anti-Harassment Project. . . .

August 29, 2011

The entire idea of auditory learners versus visual learners is likely bunk

Think You're An Auditory Or Visual Learner? Scientists Say It's Unlikely : Shots - Health Blog : NPR
We've all heard the theory that some students are visual learners, while others are auditory learners. And still other kids learn best when lessons involve movement. . . . Psychologist Dan Willingham at the University of Virginia, who studies how our brains learn, says teachers should not tailor instruction to different kinds of learners. He says we're on more equal footing than we may think when it comes to how our brains learn. And it's a mistake to assume students will respond and remember information better depending on how it's presented. For example, if a teacher believes a student to be a visual learner, he or she might introduce the concept of addition using pictures or groups of objects, assuming that child will learn better with the pictures than by simply "listening" to a lesson about addition. In fact, an entire industry has sprouted based on learning styles. There are workshops for teachers, products targeted at different learning styles and some schools that even evaluate students based on this theory. This prompted Doug Rohrer, a psychologist at the University of South Florida, to look more closely at the learning style theory. When he reviewed studies of learning styles, he found no scientific evidence backing up the idea. "We have not found evidence from a randomized control trial supporting any of these," he says, "and until such evidence exists, we don't recommend that they be used."
*Thanks, Anne-Marie!*