Stand With Wendy

If you get your news from, well, major news outlets, chances are that you have no idea who Wendy Davis is. She is a state senator from Texas who, on Tuesday, spent thirteen hours filibustering a piece of anti-choice legislation. SB5 aims to not only ban abortion after twenty weeks of gestation, but to raise the requirements for clinics where abortions can be performed to such a level that the law would effectively shut down all but a handful of the state’s clinics.

Texas has over twenty-six million residents. This is a big deal for millions of American women. With a Republican majority in the Texas senate and Governor Yosemite Sam Rick Perry unlikely to veto any anti-choice measures, the only way to stop SB5 from being passed was with a filibuster.

Each state has its own specific regulations for its state legislature. On a federal level, filibusters can go wildly off-topic (we have all heard stories of entries from a phone book being read) and can even be performed without anyone actually standing and speaking. In Texas, filibustering means speaking on-topic without sitting, leaning against your podium, or taking a break.

So that is what Wendy Davis did. For thirteen hours. She received three “warnings,” being accused of going off-topic (in once case by discussing Roe v. Wade, because, you know, that’s so unrelated to a bill that restricts a woman’s right to choose?).

She was then prevented from filibustering further, but her allies in the senate then began asking questions on procedure and arguing against Wendy being silenced (to stall for time). When the questions failed, crowds of onlookers began chanting so loudly that the senate was unable to call a vote until after midnight (the deadline).

Now, just to clarify, this was not followed by major news outlets. But this was livestreamed. It was all over Twitter. If you don’t take Twitter news seriously, you should know that it’s not just for gossip or Arab Springs or hearing about earthquakes before everyone else. #StandWithWendy was trending, worldwide, above almost everything else.

While there are millions of wonderful, pro-equality, and tech-savvy baby-boomers in the world, this image best represents my thoughts on the livestream:

This is really, truly important. My dashboard on Tumblr is usually full of fandom images, funny images, and occasionally beautiful people in various stages of undress. Tonight, it was all about Wendy Davis, Texas, and the filibuster—from images or a few words of support to my friend’s wonderful thoughts on the filibuster and how people view Southern politics. Twitter was no different. It was beautiful.

We followed the filibuster, we followed the debate on procedures, we followed the protest as the senate Republicans desperately raced against time.

To the collective outrage of hundreds of thousands of people who were viewing this live (I listened to the livestream for hours, like a radio show, while doing other things), the senate “passed” SB5, though it was after midnight. Which is illegal. And they stamped the official time as 11:59. As some people phrased it, they “mansplained time to a clock.”

As if no one would notice.

It was only while I was already writing this post that the closed-door session announced that, despite their best efforts, they could not get away with “passing” SB5. Because, officially, they were determining if it had been passed, but they were actually determining whether or not they could get away with their time-altering shenanigans (time-travel irritates me in science fiction, so you can imagine that I was not delighted to see it used by politicians to break their own rules—rules that had been so important to them when a female senator was breaking them).

But SB5 failed. Thanks, in large part, to Wendy Davis.

The reaction of the crowd of Texans who had gathered was thunderous applause.

Guys, this was a great example. We’re all excited and nervous about today, when we’ll find out how the SCOTUS has ruled on issues of marriage equality. But it is important that we also remember that tonight was a victory for Texas women. Which means that it was a victory for people.

Finally, this post would not be complete without me adapting a Star Wars quote to this situation:

PS: It is 4AM and “Wendy” and “Texas” are both still trending. Worldwide.

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I Need Masculism Because . . . Oh, Wait. I Don’t.

Did anyone see the #INeedMasculismBecause tag on Twitter a little while ago (February 9th)? It was (wonderfully) trolled by feminists from every walk of life—sarcastic tweets about the underrepresentation and oppression that men face on a daily basis by far outnumbered the genuine tweets. The image above represents my own contribution.

You can read about how it all started here. Like most ridiculous things on the internet that test the fine line between humor and irritation, it started with 4Chan.

Masculism is the: “Belief that equality between the sexes requires the recognition and redress of prejudice and discrimination against men as well as women.” Though there are elements within the movement of masculism that are specifically anti-feminist, not everyone who talks about masculism is anti-feminist. And don’t get me wrong: I am totally against prejudice (including those prejudices which I have).

But I do not “need masculism.” No one does.

And, well, the world is laughing at you, Men’s Rights Activists.

I totally get it. Gay or straight, men should not be forced into specific roles simply because they have Y-chromosomes. Not in terms of what jobs they have or how they should dress or how they should behave. Male rape should not be one of the few crimes less reported than female rape.

But what Men’s Rights Activists do not seem to understand is that the social element commonly referred to as “the patriarchy” is responsible for these ridiculous expectations of what men have to be in society. Patriarchy already defines how many people see males. Men’s Rights Activists also do not seem to realize that there is already a movement that advocates for them. A social movement that is opposed to rape and inequality and forcing men or women into or out of specific niches because of their sex, gender, or orientation (among other things).

That movement is called feminism.

I could continue ranting about how Men’s Rights Advocates who promote masculism are basically people who either do not understand what feminism is or who want a version of feminism that exclusively talks about their problems.

But I will not, because the delightful and humorous artist Gingerhaze (Noelle Stevenson) already penned this perfect piece.


PS: I am aware that there are darker elements of masculism. Men who believe that women are awarded sole custody the vast majority of the time (incorrect—it’s about even). Men who believe that there is an epidemic of false allegations of rape (false allegations are even rarer than convictions of rape, and considering that only a small minority of rapes are reported, a minority of those prosecuted, and a much smaller minority of those prosecutions lead to convictions, that is a very small proportion). Men who are genuinely opposed to feminism because women owning property, running for office, serving in combat, and doing other things that men have been doing for millennia are incredibly threatening to the fragile egos of some men. But that is really another conversation.

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Suicide On-Air?

photo of radio pictures
A radio station in Dublin, Ireland hosts a nightly program where callers can ask questions and talk to the DJ. A caller rang FM104 Phoneshow , identified himself as “Jay” and told the station we was standing on the ledge of a bridge with a knife about to kill himself and he wanted to speak to the host, Jeremy Dixon. The phone screener informed Dixon of the situation and Dixon and the station decided to put the call through in the hopes that Dixon could talk the man down.

The Irish police and the man’s parents were called to the scene, traffic was halted and a very emotional Dixon tried calming down “Jay”. “I’m not qualified to deal with this,” Dixon said while on-air dealing with this intense situation. The caller eventually hung up, and around midnight he was talked down from the bridge. The whole incident got #104FM trending on Twitter with people weighing in on what had happened. Some were calling the airing of this call “distasteful and voyeuristic” others were on the side of the station.

People tweeted that this caller had pulled this stunt, on the same bridge four times last month and that the radio station had done nothing to halt his actions. Dixon tweeted that he was “completely drained” after the call and said the next morning that the station had “no other way to deal with the call but to air it”:

He wanted to talk to FM104. He didn’t ring anybody else, he didn’t ring his family, he rang FM104. … When someone rings and they feel as desperate and that, there is only one thing to do and that is to talk to them. … Hopefully it has worked.

This explanation has done little to put of the fires on social media with one person tweeting:

Patrick Abbott@patrickabbott

This smacks of what happened recently to those crank call radio DJs in Australia and the nurse in the UK. No lessons learned#fm104

And the other side of the argument:

erin large@erinmollylarge

#fm104 had NO choice in broadcasting that call. They risked their license for it. He threatened suicide if they didn’t! WHAT WOULD YOU DO?!

The station has said that after the incident that its staff would receive training for how to respond to suicidal behavior. Where do you stand on this? Should FM104 have aired the call?

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The Twitter Lifeline During Hurricane Sandy and the Impact of Social Media on Current Events

photo of twitter hurricane sandy pictures
When super-storm Sandy was making her way to NYC, I was sitting in my little cube at my job in California. I have a little TV in my cube and so do my coworkers, and all of the TVs were on and tuned in to the news but the sound was off and backs were turned, the faces were reading Twitter.

Every desk I walked by was pouring over a Twitter feed of some kind. That’s how I got my news, too. I read Ice-T and Coco, who were breaking down the storm from New Jersey, and Julie Klausner who was in the thick of Manhattan. Even today I’m following their updates about the storm. Julie was evacuated to a friend’s apartment with her cat, and Ice-T and Coco still have no power.

I was watching my feed as my friends in New York tweeted that they were okay, where they were, and what was happening. Later during the hurricane, I fell in love with Cory Booker, Mayor of Newark, New Jersey.

The night of the storm I lay in bed and saw a RT from Bette Middler of Cory Booker. I clicked on his feed, I had no idea who he was at the time, but I saw this man responding to tweets every few seconds. ‘DM me your address I’ll come there’, when someone would say the emergency number wasn’t working he would reply with one that was. When someone said power was out he responded with “I’ll report it, I’m in the area do you need anything?” he was out all night. Three days later he’s still updating people on Twitter letting them know he’s there.

When word got out that the NYC Marathon was going to go on, I watched my feed explode with anger. People going on and on about how awful it was to not cancel it and a few hours ago I watched as they rejoiced that Bloomberg announced that due to an outcry on social media, the race had been canceled. I saw pictures of people sharing power with signs that said “We have power, please use it to charge your phones or go online”. Getting online was a connection, it let us know you were there and what you needed.

I saw the storms devastation on Instagram and Twitpics, I saw the share link for the Google doc that was listing displace persons, and I read the hashtag #NOLATONYC where survivors of Katrina reached out and comforted people over 1,300 miles away.

Like it or not our lives play out over social media. Or lives intersect over social media. It is an age of rapid fire information. And is that always such a bad thing?

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