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Rebecca Rabinowitz
04 March 2015 @ 03:18 pm
Intersectionality is not a hard word and it's not a hard concept. It's not from academia in any kind of exclusive way. It's about activism. Most importantly, it's not abstract or obscure -- it's about real people and day-to-day life. Kimberlé Crenshaw coined the term.
Rebecca Rabinowitz
23 February 2015 @ 01:40 am
Something stunning happened recently in the world of CFIDS/CFS/ME. The NIH, the CDC, and the Dept of Health and Human Services (and more) had asked the Institute of Medicine to look into the evidence base of this illness. They have now come out with a smashing report. Please read this brief report on their findings and recommendations. Even shorter, a few key facts they want people to know. If you'd like to see more, like the public release video and/or links to other parts of the report, go here.

The IoM comes down for a narrower definition and a new name. As a person who's had this illness for 22 years, I can tell you that what they say is bang on. This is really, really important. This is the biggest and best thing I've seen happen around my illness, ever.

SEID: systemic exertion intolerance disease. Start saying it. If you have connections to anyone in -- or adjacent to -- the medical field, please send them the IoM links. This new report and illness name could actually lead to research funding. We need research funding, badly. Without research funding we will never find cause and treatment. Immediately, it can lead to better understanding and attitude by medical pratitioners, which leads to better patient care. It can help patients explain their illness to anyone in their lives. This new name and this report can help so much. Please help spread it.

I'm so excited. This is hope.
Rebecca Rabinowitz
18 February 2015 @ 03:55 pm
My friend Amanda MacGregor is talking to her 8 year old, Callum, about sex, on a podcast called The Longest Shortest Time. 22 minutes, worth every minute.
Rebecca Rabinowitz
Mental health medications are not your enemy by my friend Amanda MacGregor at SLJ's Teen Librarian Toolbox. This article is about The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand, but it's relevant to other books too, and to life overall. Please read it.
Rebecca Rabinowitz
15 January 2015 @ 08:01 pm
Jacqueline Woodson's memoir Brown Girl Dreaming is wonderful. Wonderful. Go read it.
Rebecca Rabinowitz
One step in integrating fat politics into your life is refraining from imposing fatphobia on others, which means (among other things) refraining from urging weight loss on anyone. Much urging of weight loss hides behind the guise of concern for health when really it’s an insidious mix of aesthetic, moral, and cultural discomfort at fat people existing—and especially at fat people existing without trying to lose weight. Refraining from saying or hinting that fat people in general or a certain fat person should strive to be less fat—that’s big. Once folks are on board with fatpol, they pick up this important step pretty quickly.

Something that’s harder for folks learning fatpol to absorb is that making a statement about oneself is actually making a statement about other people. When a person talks about their own weight-loss diet—or some exercise that they hope will lead to weight loss or prevent weight gain, or the notion of calories being burned, or a diet food they purchased or ate—that’s feeding into cultural fatphobia. There’s no way to say those things without reinscribing the status quo fatphobia. Simply saying that you are trying to lose weight—or wish you could lose weight, or bought a Lean Cuisine, or burned some calories doing whatever—taps into the current of fatphobia. Fatphobia is a fierce and unforgiving current that never stops flowing. There’s no still pool into which your simple comment can go. When you mention weight loss stuff—unless you’re questioning or undermining the assumption that weight loss is good—you are invoking cultural fatphobia. You’re giving fatphobic oppression a tiny boost.

If you say that kind of thing near a fat person—if you mention joy at weight loss, wish for weight loss, sadness about weight gain, purchase of a diet food, the burning of calories—you are talking about that fat person. Even if you mean to be talking only about yourself, you’re not. You can’t. You don’t have that power. It’s not your fault that you don’t, but you don’t. Cultural fatphobia is that strong.

I don’t mean that it’s anti-fatpol to mention activities that happen to burn calories. But it is anti-fatpol to mention the calories. If you mention calories, you’re referring to weight loss and weight control. There are plenty of ways to talk about the jumping, dancing, running, swimming, sex that you just did or are about to do without tying it to weight control. Don’t mention the calories.

Or, you know, do. It’s your right to mention whatever you want. Maybe you are trying to lose weight or prevent weight gain. Maybe your cousin is, and you just toss that fact into the conversation. You and your cousin have the right to do whatever you want with your own bodies. But know that when you talk about it—even the quickest mention of calories or Slimfast—you’re not talking only about yourself. You’re talking about the fat person near you and all the fat people who aren’t near you. You can’t help but. There is no neutral. Cultural fatphobia is just that big.

It’s like individual book characters. A fat bully character in a book implies that fatness is connected to bullying—because our culture already has that stereotype entrenched. A fat bully character in an individual book invokes the culture in which it exists, and brings all that to bear. Can’t help but.

You know how I said there’s no neutral? There’s a good side to that. If you seem to be actually achieving neutral, you’re probably actively helping. If you refer to yourself or a book character as “fat” and you say it neutrally, without denigration and without symbolism? That’s helping. That’s activism. If you write a fat character whose fatness isn’t symbolic of anything? That’s helping. If you go through the world—no matter what your body size—as if fatness is a neutral trait, that’s helping. That’s magnificent.
Rebecca Rabinowitz
17 November 2014 @ 08:06 pm
Crazy by Linda Vigen Phillips has some interesting things about the treatment of mental illness in the 1960s. I have reservations about the ending regarding treatment of mental illness and would like to discuss the ending if any of you have read it.

Meanwhile, Crazy holds a stellar example of how white America uses the notion of Indian-ness as something for itself. There are no Indian people in the book. There are three mentions of a mountain range near the white protagonist's house. Here's the first one (slashes indicate a line break; the prose is free verse):

“my favorite mountains, / the ones that always remind me of an old Indian chief / lying on his back / with his hands across his chest / like he’s sleeping peacefully, / and I can smell the wild sage growing / in the field across the road / and the crisp air feels good / on my hot cheeks” [42].

Two later references to the "Indian chief" mountain shape [81, 163] are about the same. Indians aren't real breathing humans; they're a concept for a white character's metaphorical and emotional use. Indians connote nature and romanticized comfort for this white girl. Indian-ness is not about real Indian people; Indian-ness is a symbol, for white people to use for themselves.
Rebecca Rabinowitz
02 August 2014 @ 01:41 am
Via my dear friend Jess, here is a way you can wear an entire book on your shirt. An actual entire book.
Rebecca Rabinowitz
13 June 2014 @ 05:06 pm
It's posted at xojane, if you're curious.