90-year-old Holocaust survivor arrested at Ferguson protest

Image by Steven Hsieh via The Nation

Image by Steven Hsieh via The Nation

Ninety-year-old Hedy Epstein, who was one of several protestors arrested outside Missouri Governor Jay Nixon’s office, is no stranger to state-sanction discrimination and violence. Epstein fled the Holocaust as a child. A true intersectionalist, she insists on applying the lessons of the past to the present, refusing to remain idle in the face of persecution, whether she’s protesting the demolition of Palestinians’ homes or police brutality and racism in Ferguson. Read More »

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Feministing Jamz: Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off”

our mudflap girl, jammin on her headphones

If you spend most of your social media time on Twitter, your feed is probably mostly about what’s happening in Ferguson, MO, right now. If you spend most of your social media time on Facebook, however, it’s probably light on the racialized state violence and suppression of journalism, and heavy on the NEW TAYLOR SWIFT SINGLE (what’s up with that social media split? Buzzfeed explains).

That’s right, everyone’s favourite 25-year-old permateen has a new song out, and it’s poppy and upbeat and it’s all about not letting the haters get you down. Read More »

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Daily Feminist Cheat Sheet

Trayvon Martin’s mother writes a letter to Michael Brown’s family.

On speechlessness, racism and respectability in #Ferguson.

“Please disabuse yourself of the notion that my purpose on earth is to tuck ignorance in at night.”

The New York Post explains that catcalling is actually flattering. Now you know.

The power of peers in preventing campus rape.

Women are more often to be penalized for asking for flexible work schedules.

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Fatal Hypothesis: How Belief in a Just World is Killing Us

(A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte. Georges-Pierre Seurat 1884)

(A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte. Georges-Pierre Seurat 1884)

If prejudice is a structure, as it has now become popular to say, what are its girders made of? What holds it up and what makes it endure? Certainly a great many scholars have ventured indispensable answers to these questions, but in the wake of Michael Brown’s murder and the ongoing tragedy in Ferguson, Missouri, I think there is one thing we can pull out of these rich analyses for further examination: the just-world hypothesis.

In defiance of all sense, I often do read the comments, largely because even these feculent brain droppings can provide essential insight into the state of our society. Put simply, to understand one of the roots of police brutality, one need only look at what its most ardent defenders are saying.

Racism is a painfully obvious theme, of course, even among self-identified police officers who leave comments on forums and websites. Only those dense enough to bend light around them could deny the role of race in Ferguson or its intimate salience in all other tragic episodes of police brutality. But one thing that makes the poison of racism positively infectious and seductive to the majority of people who want to believe they are fundamentally good is the sense that everything happens for a reason, and that there is a kind of cosmic order and justice. This is how nominally good people end up justifying murder and terror as seemly expressions of a “just world.”

A Culture of Death

In other words, the Just-World Hypothesis. This notion is basically the more appropriate term for what most people unwisely call “karma;” in part, it’s the idea that “what goes around comes around.” According to this cognitive bias, we live in a fundamentally just world where most or all occurrences are just or explicable. It’s not hard to see how this bedevils feminist and anti-racist politics, surely: this is part of what makes victim-blaming in rape culture so durable. It is more comforting to believe that we live in a fundamentally just world where, if only one did not do x, y, or z, she simply would not have been raped. Similarly, the way that so very many (mostly white) people leapt on the invidiously released surveillance video that allegedly showed Michael Brown robbing a liquor store just before his death reveals how hungry such people are for an explanation that exonerates our society of any responsibility (even as the police’s claims are fraying). Read More »

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70 percent of voters say the government should not restrict access to abortion

7-in-10-infographic 2A new poll confirms that, contrary to the persist framing of abortion as a “polarizing” issue in the media, Americans are actually pretty united in their support of abortion rightsRead More »

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