On the heels of North Carolina’s recent decision to require transgender people to use public restrooms that correspond to their identified sex at birth, Target has just released a new policy indicating that transgender people may use restrooms in its stores that correspond to their present gender identity. While this initiative has received strong support from many corners, it is also not without controversy; most notably, the American Family Assocation (AFA) has called for a boycott of Target on the grounds that this policy “endangers women and children by allowing men to frequent women’s facilities.”
With these claims in mind, there is some importance to my inquiry in doing a bit of fact-checking. As the evidence suggests, transgender people are no more likely to be sexual predators than anyone else, and yet as a group they experience disproportionately higher levels of discrimination and harassment in public venues (and in bathrooms, in particular). Moreover, in response to those who claim that Target’s policy will invite sexual predators of all gender identities into bathrooms, the data indicates that people are no more likely to be attacked in a bathroom than anywhere else, rendering most of the safety arguments relatively void. Continue reading “Do Bathrooms Matter? Revisiting “The Bathroom Problem””
So, have you seen “Dumb and Dumber To” — the sequel to the 1994 hit starring Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels? No? Well, you ought’a — it ain’t “Dr Zhivago,” sure, but there’s some little gems in there worth thinking about. Continue reading ““Sorry Harry, We Thought You Know””
While not aiming to trivialize ongoing conflicts elsewhere in the world, I couldn’t help but make a connection between the above article and a video making the rounds of social media, in which the University of Tennessee’s football coach sniffs out the source of the song “Sweet Home Alabama” playing while his team practices — a song much associated with one of his team’s arch rivals (which, yes, happens to be where I work). Continue reading ““Why would we have that playing at Tennessee?””
With my grandparents living in Missouri, the “Show Me State” motto was always familiar to me as a child. The notion from that motto that seeing the world is how you know the world became more complicated when I met my wife. She sees the world differently from me, noticing differences in colors that look the same to me, differences that I have neither perception of nor words to describe. If seeing is believing, whose vision (perception) should I believe?
The issue of perception of color has come into the foreground after the sensation that was Dressgate. In one segment of a Radiolab podcast on color from several years ago (embedded below) that suddenly became popular, they compared the number of different color perceiving cones in the eyes of different animals (beginning about 9:30 in the podcast). Dogs have two, humans three, butterflies five, and mantis shrimp top the list with sixteen. Continue reading “Seeing Is Believing, Or Is It?”
– Jacques Derrida, Writing and Difference (1978), p. 285
This pic was making the rounds of social media the other day — have you seen it? It depicts the presidents of Brazil, Chile, Argentina today, and, at bottom, during the 1970s.
It speaks for itself. Right? Continue reading “A Woman’s Touch”
Do you know the tale of the Sneetches? It’s a Dr. Seuss story, published in 1961, about the inhabitants of a beach who are exactly the same apart from some having stars on their bellies. It’s a difference with no necessary significance, but it soon takes on consequence, of course.
Now, the Star-Bell Sneetches had bellies with stars.
The Plain-Belly Sneetches had none upon thars.
Those stars weren’t so big. They were really so small.
You might think such a thing wouldn’t matter at all.
But, because they had stars, all the Star-Belly Sneetches
Would brag, “We’re the best kind of Sneetch on the beaches.”
With their snoots in the air, they would sniff and they’d snort
“We’ll have nothing to do with the Plain-Belly sort!”
And, whenever they met some, when they were out walking,
They’d hike right on past them without even talking… Continue reading “Stars Upon Thars”
Yesterday, in Part 1, I wrote about some of the conceptual problems that I find in a recent Hufftington Post article on the ironic similarities between two sets of devotional rituals, said to be shared by Hindus and Buddhists in Sri Lanka, and the way — again, according to the article, and also the site on which it is based — that this commonality might provide a basis to overcome perceived difference and conflict.
But there’s more to talk about at the site (created by, according to the Huff Post article, a Sri Lankan-based, University of Chicago trained anthropologist). For instance, its Intro page opens as follows: Continue reading “What Came First, the Difference or the Similarity? Part 2”
The Huffington Post has a new article that opens with:
Hindus and Buddhists in Sri Lanka may have been divided through political strife over the years, but they have one important thing in common. Her name is Pattini to Sinhala Buddhists and Kannaki to Tamil Hindus, but she is one and the same goddess shared in religious practices by the two faiths.
And it closes with the following:
Most importantly, in her shared worship among Hindus and Buddhists Pattini-Kannaki is an ironic reminder of the parallel cultural traditions that may exist between groups divided along ethnic or political lines… Continue reading “What Came First, the Difference or the Similarity? Part 1”
Back in late June 2013, three members of Culture on the Edge had a conversation on Facebook about the category “code switching” (nicely exemplified in the above Key & Peele skit, featuring Luther, President Obama’s “anger translator” [watch it below]), a conversation that later led to two blog posts on our site, referencing this conversation (here and here) and, ultimately, to Monica Miller conceiving of a workshop at Lehigh University, funded by a Collaborative Research Grant from its The Humanities Center — an opportunity that will involve Lehigh faculty members, James Peterson, Associate Professor of English and Director of Africana Studies, Jackie Krasas, Associate Professor of Anthropology and Sociology and Director of Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies, along with three of her Edge colleagues: Merinda Simmons, Leslie Dorrough Smith, and Vaia Touna — all of whom work on identity and language, but in very different domains and historical periods.
We hope that the following conversation — spruced up a bit for public consumption — helps to set the stage for some of the early thinking that may be in the background of the workshop, which takes place in April 2014 (more news on that coming soon).
Ok, I have a query: it strikes me that, despite how many use it, “code switching” is a profoundly imperial category, one that perpetuates certain notions of race (when it is applied to studying some instances of African American English), while seemingly only describing them, yet no one realizes it.
What do you think? Continue reading “Behind the Scenes: A Conversation on “Code Switching””