July 29, 2014 § Leave a comment
Today my collaborator (we’re working on the title) Ryan Milner and I published an article for The Conversation on the history & significance of the Rickroll phenomenon, specifically the recent 5-second YouTube takedown that never was. Quoth:
Rick Astley, 80s pop singer and unlikely king of internet memes, is dead. Or at least the most persistent song in his catalogue is. Or at least its most popular unofficial YouTube upload is. Or at least it was, for a few hours, most recently in July 2014 but before that in 2012 and again in 2010. And in the exaggerated rumours of its death are lessons on intellectual property, internet culture, and what resonates in the ephemeral swirl of the socially-mediated web.
July 17, 2014 § Leave a comment
Yesterday Tom Junod at Esquire published a long, thoughtful, and at moments utterly heartbreaking article about pit bulls in America. As he explains, pit bulls –a category that includes pit bull mixes– are ubiquitous nationwide, not just in the inner cities but also, increasingly, in suburban areas. One would think that this would translate to greater acceptance of the breed (or perhaps more accurately, the classification, as pit bulls aren’t really a breed as much as a mix of common traits), but nope, not so much. As he writes:
We might accept pit bulls personally, but America still doesn’t accept them institutionally, where it counts; indeed, apartment complexes and insurance companies are arrayed in force against them. And so are we: For although we adopt them by the thousands, we abandon them by the millions. The ever-expanding population of dogs considered pit bulls feeds an ever-expanding population of dogs condemned as pit bulls, and we resolve this rising demographic pressure in the way to which we’ve become accustomed: in secret, and in staggering numbers. We have always counted on our dogs to tell us who we are. But what pit bulls tell us is that who we think we are is increasingly at odds with what we’ve turned out to be.
July 13, 2014 § Leave a comment
I know, I know, I haven’t been posting much, largely because I immediately jumped from submitting my first book to working on the proposal for my second book, which will focus on antagonism, mischief, and humor online. Also, all these episodes of Broad City, Frisky Dingo, and Sins & Secrets aren’t going to watch themselves, oh well. I will likely return to a more regular posting schedule once my life schedule gets back to normal, or what passes for normal. For now, here is a puppy expressing concern for his elderly friend!
June 16, 2014 § Leave a comment
The amazing humans over at the Fembot Collective have just put together an SOS map visualizing the discrepancy between expected incidence of college sexual assault (based on the White House’s recent report on the subject) and the assaults that are actually reported and disclosed per the Cleary Act. As anyone even remotely familiar with sexual assault on college campuses (or sexual assault generally) will be utterly unsurprised to discover, the discrepancies between these numbers are staggering. Here is that map, as well as Fembot’s explanation of the research process (full disclosure: I helped with some fact-checking).
On that same note, here is the story of one woman –one woman amongst thousands and thousands of women– whose experiences are not reflected in the Cleary statistics. Not reflected because she did not report her assault; and not reported because she didn’t think it would do anything, and more insidiously, because she’d internalized the idea that it was her fault for “letting” it happen. As writer and Yale grad Amanda Ruggeri explains of her decision to remain silent:
As the years went on, I became only more aware of just how commonly this happens — and how few of us have come forward. In our senior year, I was in an all-female secret society. There were 13 of us. We were 21 years old. As each of us gave our “bios,” or life histories, the traditional way to jump-start what was meant to be a lifelong bond, I kept count.
The number was four. And all four assaults had gone unreported, un-investigated, and uncounted.
A few years later, I was having dinner with two good friends. Somewhere between our second and third cocktails, we found out that each of us had, at one point during our university years, been raped. We were all strong women, and none of us had pressed charges. We were all smart, and none of us seemed to realize, deep down, that we were entirely blameless for what had happened. We were all writers, and none of us had published a sentence about our assaults.
“I was roofied and raped in college,” I told a different friend about a month ago. She took a swig of wine and laughed wryly. She had been, too, it turned out. A bartender. A glass of water. A ten-hour blackout. A naked wake-up. Vomit on her hands. She did a rape kit, but she wished she hadn’t: invasive, traumatizing. She did not press charges. She did not know where he was, these days.
“It’s like women are the walking wounded,” a friend commented to me once. Dealing with it on our own, quietly — whether because that’s what strong women do, or what good girls do, I’m not sure.
But one thing is for certain: Most of us don’t speak. No matter how strong we are, no matter how “feminist,” we carry around with us a sense that, somehow, we brought the assault on ourselves. We were too flirtatious. Or we didn’t say “no” loudly enough. Or we were wearing the wrong thing. Or we should have known better than to go to his room, get in his car, go for a drink, accept that shot.
I’d say I’m not sure where we pick up those signals, so much and so early. Except, of course, that I do — because they’re everywhere.
I won’t even try to throw together a tidy conclusion.
June 8, 2014 § Leave a comment
Chris turns 30 today, and tomorrow I turn 31; today is essentially our joint 30th, after which point I once again become the scoreboard leader in years accrued. It’s also Nathan’s estimated birthday, so although we might be + or – a week or so, we’re treating today like the Triple Crown of Phillips-Menning spawnage. I’ve never really been much of a birthday celebration person, so it’s not like we’re doing summersaults and smashing our faces into rainbow cupcakes, but I am very much enjoying the prospect of my 31st year — not only will the book be out of my hair very very soon (not soon enough, obviously, but that’s been true for the last six years), but beginning in the Fall term I’ll be a full time Lecturer in Humboldt State’s Communication Department. The ultimate, long-term goal is to secure a Tenure Track position at HSU in Comm or English or elsewhere, and I’ll get there eventually — but one does not simply hail mary to one’s favorite university and immediately get the big prize. These things take time and patience and various intermediary steps, and I’ve been doing just fine with that, thanks.
And so, onwards! It’s a beautiful day, and I’m an excellent age. I think I’ll go buy myself a Japanese teacup & then watch some X-Files. Perfection!
June 3, 2014 § Leave a comment
Things have been raaaather hectic of late, what with final book details and etc etc, plus other simmering projects like fact-checking campus rape statistics for a sexual assault data representation project forthcoming from Fembot, a feminist media and tech collective. More on that later this week when the thing goes live but boy howdy, are those some grim statistics. Because of that I’ve just not really been “paying attention to anything,” as they say in the business.
But! Here’s what Chris sent me when I told him “I need you to send me something funny or cute.” He said these pictures, apparently of Kirsten Dunst “and that guy who looks like Toby Maguire” were so NOT cute they were funny, which is good enough for me.
In that same vein, here’s a video I clicked on because the headline read “You Can’t Punch People Because You Want Pancakes,” which is a lie.
Another thing I liked this morning was teens reacting to an old internet instructional dealie; as a general rule, “The 90s” plus “The Internet” is always going to be pretty funny. Money quote: “Their clothes and their computer…it’s just so OLD.” You bet your cybernet they are! Also, apparently the source of this magical gif:
That’s all I got you guys, God bless you all.
May 23, 2014 § Leave a comment
Hey there strangers! Today I was supposed to drive up to Seattle for 2014’s International Communications Association meeting, however the fates intervened by sending a minor medical emergency Chris’ way. Meaning no Seattle for this guy (Chris will be fine but now is not the time for travel). I might be Skyping into our panel tomorrow morning, some brave soul might present as my proxy, or they may just tweet the thing out & call it a day. In case they go with the third option, I’ll be posting the transcript of (what would have been) my talk in a subsequent post.
In other news, revisions continue to be made, and all that. June 1 is quickly approaching, there’s miles to go before I sleep, etc!
April 27, 2014 § Leave a comment
I don’t have much of a temper, as a human, and in fact could stand to cultivate maybe 10% more of one. There are however a few things that make me just RAGE: booking flights and hotel rooms (really, filling out any sort of online form), mouth sounds, sexist men, board games, and formatting references for academic papers. This last thing in particular is the one area in my life where sometimes I am tempted to procrastinate (excuse me, “engage in tactical delays“), and occasionally even do (only for like an hour though). So, it is with great delight and happy-of-myself-ishness that I can announce that I am done-done-DONE with my highly weird 50-page reference list. It’s been ages since I looked the list over carefully, and was struck by the following:
- Good god I have a lot of sources that have “since been deleted.”
- A handful of my sources were written/edited/compiled by Chris, though at the time I first encountered whatever thing I hadn’t yet met him so his name was just another name.
- I had to think carefully about how I handled Encyclopedia Dramatica references, since in the 5 years since beginning this project, the site has undergone 3 respawns and the majority of the content I originally found there has been lost in the anals (not a typo) of time. The Chicago Manual of Style isn’t equipped for that shit.
- Related to my second point, it’s funny to format sources created by friends.
- It’s funny to remember where I was geographically and in my life as I picked through each reference. Like I can clearly remember where I was sitting not just when I first found whatever source, but when I initially formatted whatever source. Feels time-capsuley man.
In conclusion, I am done with formatting, and from here on out will be concerned with final revisions & line editing! PROGRESS.
April 24, 2014 § Leave a comment
April 21, 2014 § Leave a comment
Harrowing article out of the Guardian today, which challenges the “monster rapist” narrative in which only the most aberrational, violent, and outright psychotic men commit acts of sexual violence against women. Sometimes this is true, author Tom Meagher writes; sometimes men who do bad things to women are in fact psychotic. But much more frequently, they aren’t. Much more frequently, these men are average dudes, the problem being that average dudeness is often predicated on and actively normalizes violent sexism.
Some quotes, though you (particularly if you are male) should go read the whole thing immediately:
While the vast majority of men abhor violence against women, those dissenting male voices are rarely heard in our public discourse outside of the “monster-rapist” narrative. Indeed, the agency of male perpetrators disappears from the discussion, discouraging male involvement and even knowledge of the prevalence and diversity of male violence against women. Even the term “violence against women” sounds like a standalone force of nature, with no subject, whereas “men’s violence against women” is used far less frequently.
While not attempting to broad-brush or essentialise the all too abstracted notion of “masculinity”, male invisibility in our discourse can be compounded by masculine posturing, various “bro-codes” of silence, and a belief, through the monster myth, in the intrinsic otherness of violent men.
The idea of the lurking monster is no doubt a useful myth, one we can use to defuse any fear of the women we love being hurt, without the need to examine ourselves or our male-dominated society. It is also an excuse to implement a set of rules on women on “how not to get raped”, which is a strange cocktail of naiveté and cynicism. It is naive because it views rapists as a monolithic group of thigh-rubbing predators with a checklist rather than the bloke you just passed in the office, pub or gym, and cynical because these rules allow us to classify victims. If the victim was wearing X or drinking Y, well then of course the monster is going to attack – didn’t she read the rules?
It’s an upsetting read, but I could not recommend this article highly enough.