And why does artificial intelligence need a gender at all? Why not imagine a talking cat or a wise owl as a virtual assistant? I would trust an anthropomorphized cartoon animal with my calendar. Better yet, I would love to delegate tasks to a non-binary gendered robot alient from a galaxy where setting up meetings over email is respected as a high art.
But Julie could be the name of a friend of mine. To use it at all requires an element of playacting. And if I treat it with kindness, the company is capitalizing on my very human emotions.
Fat, Concern Trolling: 11 Reasons Your 'Concern' for Fat People's Health Isn't Helping Anyone by Melissa A. Fabello and Linda Bacon at Everyday Feminism
Concern trolling – which is the act of a person participating “in a debate posing as an actual or potential ally who simply has concerns they need answered before they will ally themselves with a cause” – is something we see all too often, even on our very own Everyday Feminism Facebook page.
And most often, we get these sort of “But isn’t this freedom actually kinda dangerous for society?” comments on articles that we post about fat acceptance and body liberation.
And to be honest, it’s disheartening to see feminists – people who we generally trust to engage with content and have their status quo boundaries pushed – rush to quote sketchy research and throw oppressive ideologies around all in the name of, supposedly, “health.”
But when we live in a world that so desperately hates people of size (um, hello, “War on Obesity”), we completely understand how these prejudices turn into truths in our minds.
Fandom, 90s, Queer Joy: '90s BFFs We Shipped Before Shipping Was a Thing by Natasia Langfelder at AfterEllen
Note: That title (and the opening paragraph) is terrible, because shipping was a thing way before the 90s. God, people, learn your fannish history if you're going to write about it. (The opening paragraph says that in the 90s, fan fiction was just getting off the ground and "shipping" wasn't something they talked about. Um. No. Wrong. Incorrect. Do your research, people. One example: slash fanfic goes back to at least the 70s. Kirk and Spock shippers, as just one group, could shout this stupidity to silence.)
Mostly I love this list, but it includes Buffy and Faith. While I still, to this day, ship the hell out of Buffy and Faith, calling them BFFs is a stretch, and that was part of the appeal.
Okay, before everyone gets upset, I recognize that Willow and Tara are the best couple to ever couple. However, Willow and Tara weren’t a thing until 2000. In the ’90s, Willow had no idea her soul mate wasn’t a dude. What we did have in the late ’90s was Sarah Michelle Gellar and Eliza Dusku alternately fighting each other and working together to slay vampires, and it was the hottest thing ever.
Buffy and Faith were both sarcastic, funny and bore the burden of being a slayer. They totally understood each other, even when they were at each other’s throats, their longing glances at each other proved they were ready to throw down their weapons and have a make out sesh. And there’s no way you ever forgot about the time they danced together at The Bronze. Faith was also a lot more fun than mopey, brooding Angel. Who would choose Angel over Faith?! Sadly, the Buffyverse left this pairing unexplored.
Mental Illnes, Privilege: Why Speaking Up About Mental Illness is a Privilege by Anna Spargo-Ryan at DailyLife
People told me I was "brave". You're so brave, they said, for being honest and out there about your mental illness. It's so brave of you to lay it down like that, to stand up against stigma and discrimination.
What a load of crap. I didn't share these photos because I'm brave. I shared them because I'm privileged.
The only reason I'm able to share my experiences with mental illness is that I do so with little risk. I have a family who love and support me with full awareness of my illnesses. I'm self-employed in a dual-income household. I will not be out on the street, I will not be broke and I will not be ostracised by the people I love. I'm already ahead of the mental health game before I even start. I am a white, educated and middle-class person living in a capital city, and that means I have a loud voice.
The system is not set up to support people outside of this model. In fact, it begets mental crises in at-risk people and groups. The barriers to seeking treatment are immense and often insurmountable. To seek treatment is to confront stigma head-on, and for many people that can mean shame, fear, financial distress, exclusion and discrimination.
Dumb luck, too, that I am privileged enough to share this with you. Middle-class, white, educated. I have better access to mental health support than 99.9% of the world population. I'm not brave. I'm shouting.
Science, Space: NASA Working on Technology to Shoot Us to Mars Super Fast With Lasers by Dan Van Winkle at The Mary Sue
One of those technologies is photonic propulsion, or literally shooting us there with lasers, and the best part is that it’s not nearly as outlandish as it sounds. As a matter of fact, the Kepler space telescope is already using the pressure of photons traveling from the sun to balance itself and continue its mission in space. Meanwhile, The Planetary Society is using a similar technique for propulsion of its LightSail spacecraft.
However, to actually propel large spacecraft (LightSail is pretty … well, light) to the relativistic speeds (speeds even somewhat approaching the speed of light) necessary to significantly shorten space travel times, NASA wouldn’t so much rely on photons from the sun as on powerful lasers on Earth that would be directed at the spacecraft. This could allow a robotic mission to reach Mars in a matter of days.
Cultural Appropriation: Not Your Idea: Cultural Appropriation in the Birthing Community by Aaminah Shakur at The Toast
A dear friend of mine was just talking about her experiences with this and her new baby. The second I saw this article, I thought about her.
It wasn’t until about seven years later, when I had a Nicaraguan partner, that I had the opportunity to see Central American mothers wearing their babies on their backs in blankets. In the last 10 years, thanks to the internet, I have seen a resurgence in accessible information about babywearing. Unfortunately, most information and marketing is geared towards middle class white women, often with selling points about this great “new” phenomenon and requiring expensive contraptions, while disregarding the communities of color in which babywearing has been the norm since the beginning of time. This is evident in the lack of Black and Brown families present in most marketing campaigns and even social media. Four years ago I started a Tumblr dedicated to just showing people of color babywearing, and it was difficult to find pictures to post (this has since improved somewhat). It was also met with anger from white women who said that there was no need for a blog just for families of color and that it was “exclusionary.” They seemed to totally miss the irony of that term.
It is worth noting that traditional forms of babywearing and belly-binding did not require owning multiple $50-200 wraps or strappy carriers. All one needs is a long scarf, piece of fabric, or blanket. One can argue that it was only a matter of time before wraps became commercialized, and that marketing of wraps is responding to a demand. On the other hand, I would suggest that such marketing is exactly what makes these options seem “not for you” to many poor parents of color for whom such an expense is simply not realistic. Instead of teaching that belly-binding and babywearing can be done with one item, and showing how any scarf of a certain size can be functional, marketing suggests that babywearing is complex and expensive. For poor and non-white women who are also at a higher risk of accusations of neglectful caregiving, the question of safety is also very real. Marketers are quick to imply that carriers and wraps are necessary for safety despite the fact that women all over the world continue to wear their babies with a thin cotton scarf and no problems. It isn’t about the type or cost of your wrap, it is about being knowledgeable about how to use it safely. Access to the traditional knowledge of our ancestors and support to acknowledge that wisdom and methodology is a key missing ingredient because it has been appropriated by white women who fail to do outreach to the communities from which they have stolen the traditions.
Science, Health: 10 Epidemics Waiting to Happen (That You Won’t Enjoy) by Mira Grant at BuzzFeed
Who loves a good epidemic? Not…not anyone. Like the VH1 Top 20 Video Countdown, only kind of more disgusting. Mira Grant, author of Parasite, Symbiont, and the bestselling Newsflesh trilogy, presents the Top 10 Future Epidemic Countdown! Remember, good hygiene and vaccination can protect you from many potential illnesses, as can adherence to basic quarantine procedures. Don’t panic, plan. And don’t use an outbreak as an excuse to be an asshole.
We have a reliable vaccine for polio: we have a way to keep it from spreading. But it hasn’t been considered a disease of great concern in America since the 1960s, and the polio vaccine is one of many to have been disputed by the anti-vaccination crowd. The return of polio to the nations where it is not currently a concern is not an “if,” it’s a “when.” I have nothing funny or pithy to say here. It’s coming. We could stop it.
Finally, in case you haven't seen it: My Little Pony doll creator.
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