The Surprising Thing at Never Trust a Jellyfish

Cross-posted from: Never Trust a Jellyfish
Originally published: 19.07.16

Kids shouldn’t be allowed too much screen time, it’ll rot their brain, everyone knows that. Ok, that makes sense, but have the people who hand out these sage pieces of advice ever met a toddler? Because if they had they would know that turning on any device with a screen within a 1 mile radius of a kid will result in the said kid either wrestling the device from you, demanding you hand it over peacefully or throwing a migraine-inducing tantrum.

blogger
pictured: a wrestling match waiting to happen

Theoretically, the idea is ‘limited screen time for kids’ but practically speaking, all parents eventually realize that limited screen time for kids = limited screen time for parents.

So yes, I end up either not watching tv at all or being subjected to episode after episode of talking ponies and their friendship problems.

my-little-pony
As a parent to a 2 year old, that isn’t exactly too surprising. What’s surprising though is that I’m starting to realize I actively avoid non-toddler friendly programming even when I do have the opportunity to watch it. Grown-up tv may have more depth, variety or entertainment value, but kids tv has something better: a make-believe world where nothing bad can ever happen. With the kinds of things happening in the real world these days, I kinda prefer the primary-colored world of preschooler tv.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t need any more ‘realistic’ and ‘gritty’ in my entertainment when the world is too real as is.

SPIN: MORE GETTING WOMEN ON TV VERY, VERY WRONG by grainnemcmahon

Cross-posted from: Femineach
Originally published: 29.03.16

I mainlined Spin series 2 on Walter Presents.

*Do not read this if you haven’t watched it.*

It’s a cut and thrust, wheel and deal, dog eat dog, keep your friends close and your enemies closer, French, political drama. There are few things that I like more than that but I had to suspend all of my feminist sensibilities to be able to watch it at all. I promised myself that I wouldn’t “do feminism” on it but here I am regardless. (Feminist analyses are just like the hiccups, really: uncomfortable, concerning, infuriating, and like the divil himself to stop.)

There were several criticisms about the representation of women in Spin series

1. For starters, all of the women there were in some way dependent on their menfolk (Valentine on Pierre*, Appoline on Simon, yer woman who was the candidate on just about everyone, really) and much too capitulating. It was a valid enough criticism but I could get over it for the odd glimmer of fight and rebellion. Juliette, the daughter, was irredeemable but she was young and selfish and we were all that once. 
Read more SPIN: MORE GETTING WOMEN ON TV VERY, VERY WRONG by grainnemcmahon

Why I Reject Forgiveness Culture by @EKSwitaj

Cross-posted from: erringness in perfection class
Originally published: 29.09.14

 

For trauforgive_pic_1000x700ma survivors, there are many paths to healing and moving on. Why does forgiveness culture demand that survivors forgive their abusers?

 

When I say that I am against forgiveness, I am not judging individuals who choose to forgive. If doing so helps you, then by all means, forgive. What I abhor is a culture that places demands on victims and survivors, insisting that we are not whole until we forgive. Forgiveness culture implies that betrayers and abusers can expect to be forgiven — they can hurt and harm and rage — and should their targets decline to forgive, they can rest smug in the assurance that the refusal reflects a flaw in their victims, not in themselves.

I can relate many small wrongs after which the offender has apologized, claimed he would never demand forgiveness, and then become condescending when I’ve not immediately accepted the apology. “We don’t have to be enemies, but sure, I’ll leave you alone,” said one text message. I had not said I would not forgive him; I had simply not forgiven on demand. Still, this incident was relatively minor. ….

 

Why I Reject Forgiveness Culture was first published by Stir Journal. You can find the full article here.

erringness in perfection class : Elizabeth Kate Switaj is a Liberal Arts Instructor at the College of the Marshall Islands and a Contributing Editor to Poets’ Quarterly.  She completed her PhD at Queen’s University Belfast with a dissertation on James Joyce as an EFL teacher.  She previously taught English in Japan and China in December 2012. (@EKSwitaj)

 

‘Rethinking Feminism’ by @Finn_Mackay

Cross-posted from: Finn Mackay
Originally published: 13.04.16

Institute of Arts & Ideas ‘Rethinking Feminism’ debate, Kings College London, in association with Unilever. 25th April, 2016.

First, I’d like to start by pointing out that there are probably as many definitions of feminism as there are people who identify as feminist.

For me, I understand feminism to be a global, political movement for the liberation of women and society, based on equality for all people.

However we may define it, what is clear is that feminism is in resurgence today. This is a resurgence that has been unfolding here in the UK since the early 2000s. Sometimes it is called a third, or even fourth wave. Feminist activism is visible once again, online and on the streets. Feminist commentary and political theory is also seen in the mainstream in ways that it was not before. Young women are often to be found leading this resurgence, finding a home in one of the oldest and most powerful social justice movements the world has ever known.

Alongside this rise it is not surprising that the anti-feminist backlash has also mobilised and grown, rightly sensing this latest threat to the fragile and defensive status-quo.

This backlash manifests in the base harassment of women that we see online and in public space also. The threats, stalking and intimidation of women who dare to be women and achieve; who dare to be women and speak their mind; who dare to take up space.

There are also the more insidious elements of this backlash, powerful as they are, hidden often in plain sight. This is the co-option of our movement, the gender mainstreaming, the steady dripping dilution of the radical and revolutionary political theory which forms the basis of the Women’s Liberation Movement.

Feminism has become nothing more than a marketing ploy, advertising gimmick or soundbite. We are told that feminism is about buzzwords such as ‘choice’ and ‘empowerment’ and ‘having it all’. It is not these things. The act of choosing for example is a daily fact of life, it is not a feminist act. We may as well say feminism is about breathing.

In fact, that these sort of buzzwords are chosen to simplify and demean feminism in the first place actually show just how far we have to go and how much a real feminist movement is needed. What kind of world do we live in where a woman having a job, earning money and also having a family or caring for dependents including children, is seen as some sort of impossible dream and labelled as ‘having it all’? Many men have jobs, families and children and earn money without this being seen as some sort of incredible step for their sex class. Choosing where we work or how much we work, choosing whether or not to have children, choosing what space we take up, choosing which way we walk home, choosing whether we speak or not….these things are not some sort of privilege. They are fundamental necessities of life in a community and society; fundamentals that we know are so often denied to women around the world, including here in the UK. The fact that we cannot guarantee such basic rights is the very reason feminism exists.

The backlash against feminism can be seen in every sphere, in all elements of the media, advertising and the beauty industry for example.

What has happened is that our language of liberation has been stolen, bastardised, turned on its head and sold back to us under the guise of ‘empowerment’. This is an empowerment that funnily enough can be found in some new consumer good, a diet or new make-up or new fashion magazine. An empowerment that can be found for example in products like ‘Fair & Lovely’ the leading skin lightening cream, marketed in Asia and Africa and produced by Unilever. Proving that through the prism of capitalism, racism is just another bargain basement.

Another way the backlash shows itself is in the way we are now expected to laugh at our own oppression. Where old fashioned sexism has become some sort of nouveau retro-banter and harmless fun. As seen in adverts for products marketed at men, such as that teen-boy staple, Lynx, also produced by Unilever. As if we have supposedly come so far now as to achieve some sort of silent equality where all our struggles have been won, while yet miraculously the world has stayed just as it was and where feminists are the moaning prudes for pointing this out.

Feminism has not been won and is not over because feminism is a revolutionary movement for change, not just a changing of the guard. We certainly don’t want equality with unequal men and we understand that ultimately we cannot have equality in an unequal world. A world where wealth flows upstream, a world of gross and growing inequality that has brought us to the brink of a planet crisis.

We have ever more sophisticated technology and yet we use these skills to invest in the tools of killing, such as the planned £100billion renewal of Trident missiles, 1000 times more deadly that the bombs that decimated Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Our science can put humans on the moon, but it can’t seem to find a way to save the planet the rest of us are still on. It is surely vital that we focus technology on the preservation of life, instead of the eradication of life; lessons explored in schools of feminism such as Eco-Feminism, making the links between patriarchy and capitalism.

We are here today debating ethics and universal goals, and we must be able to talk about ethics that apply to all, otherwise these ethics mean nothing. It is dangerous for example when ethics stop at borders, borders of nationality, race, religion, sex or indeed species. Ethics are not something to be bestowed only upon certain peoples or certain species and yet denied to others who are ‘othered’.

Yesterday, the 24th April, marked the World Day for Laboratory Animals and the abuse and exploitation of animals in vivisection conducted by companies, such as Unilever, can never be ethical. There can be no human liberation without animal liberation.

All of these are feminist concerns because feminism is about building a better future for all life, indeed it is about whether we can even have a future at all. Feminism is indeed global, because justice is not.

 

Finn Mackay: Feminist activist and researcher.

Post-Brexit, time to question neocolonialism. via @MsAfropolitan

Cross-posted from: Ms Afropolitan
Originally published: 03.07.16

The arguments that Africa will be worse off post-Brexit are everywhere. To give just a few examples, Foreign Policy writes that “Brexit Is Bad News for Africa. Period.”  Newsweek explains “Why Brexit is bad for Africa.” Quartz is all doom and gloom in “Afrexit – Brexit will be terrible for Africa’s largest economies.

While the titles all imply that Brexit is bad for Africa, the articles’ content actually reveal that Brexit is mainly bad for the UK. As FP states, “Brexit will leave Britain with a fraction of the influence it currently wields in Africa”. It is a “damage to British interests in Africa.” What are those interests? Well, one example is the London Stock Exchange listed South African company, Lonmin, which fell 15.7% after Brexit. Yes, this is the same Lonmin behind the Marikana massacres. Bad for Africa? Hardly.  …

 

You can read the full article here.

 

Ms. AfropolitanA site about Africa and Diaspora in society from a feminist perspective.

A Girl is a Half-formed Thing by Eimear McBride – a review by @Durre_Shahwar

Cross-posted from: HerStory
Originally published: 19.02.16

I wrote this review a year or so ago when I was doing my MA Dissertation and I forgot about it until now. Why publish it now? Because I recently read Deborah Kay Davies’ Reasons She Goes to the Woods (2014), which is another fantastic novel about a young girl, coming of age, and mental health, to put it elementarily, and I felt that the two books had some themes in common. This is not to say that they are similar. They are not. I repeat: they are not similar. But they have “unconventional” layout and writing style and both play with the concept of sibling relationships amongst other things. So, I’m publishing it again with some revisions, because this book is definitely worth raving about. Apologies in advance for the informal tone of this review – I don’t usually do this, but a year ago I was a newbie to book reviews and still find this a difficult book to review.


Read more A Girl is a Half-formed Thing by Eimear McBride – a review by @Durre_Shahwar

SWEET SURVIVAL by @anewselfwritten

Originally published: 07.02.16

Forty-five and still standing. I have made it this far.

So by definition I have survived. Yet, it is only recently that I have come to consider myself a survivor. This is probably common to many of us: reaching that understanding of what happened to us later rather than sooner.

My own story is nowhere near unique, probably not even rare: abused on a regular basis by my maternal grandfather between the ages of five and 11. Repeated trauma, occasionally disclosed, but never responded to.

It can be hard, particularly on a bad day, to say to yourself “I am a survivor”, or even, to use the words of pop goddess Gloria Gaynor, to know “I will survive”. After all I don’t feel like much of a survivor when I am reliving a trauma, in the midst of an anxiety attack, overdosing on attachment despair, feeling deep shame, or hating every label applied to me (including survivor). On those days I feel like a victim.


Read more SWEET SURVIVAL by @anewselfwritten

A UK GUIDE FOR NON-LAWYERS ABOUT PROTECTING WOMEN-ONLY SPACES: June 2016

Cross-posted from: Louise Whitfield
Originally published: 16.06.16

HOW LEGISLATION PROTECTS WOMEN-ONLY SPACES AND SERVICES:
AN OVERVIEW

by Louise Whitfield, Public Law Specialist and Partner at Deighton Pierce Glynn

Click here for a PDF version of this legal briefing

INTRODUCTION

This briefing is designed to highlight the existence of legal protections for women-only activities, spaces and services to help ensure that these rights are properly understood and to avoid misinterpretation that may threaten their existence. The following topics are dealt with below:

  • Summary of what is and isn’t covered by the Equality Act 2010
  • When discrimination is lawful
  • Women-only associations
  • When discrimination against women-only events is unlawful
  • The legal responsibilities of public bodies


Read more A UK GUIDE FOR NON-LAWYERS ABOUT PROTECTING WOMEN-ONLY SPACES: June 2016

Safe Spaces and Cosseted Childhoods

Cross-posted from: Communication, Kids and Culture
Originally published: 26.04.16

safe spacesThe Head Teacher at St Albans High School for Girls, Jenny Brown, has spoken out recently about the current trend for safe spaces at Universities across the UK, for which she blames the cosseted childhoods our children now experience in comparison with the tough times of the past. She says:

Is there a teacher or parent left in the country who doesn’t decry the sprouting of the safe-space movement in universities?

“The movement . . . comes with a language that alone alarms: no platforming, safe spaces, trigger warning . . . But why are we surprised? We’ve created this. These undergraduates are some of the first children brought up in health and safety heaven.

“These children of the millennium didn’t play unsupervised, they didn’t play outside . . . they didn’t climb trees, grub up or get back for supper with torn jeans and wet wellies.”

Yup. I’m one of those who is horrified by all this self-indulgent protection from the world that some young people need, it seems to me that there’s a crucial stage of development being missed here: your young adult life is a time when you should be coming up against new ideas and opinions which anger, challenge and even disgust you.
Read more Safe Spaces and Cosseted Childhoods

Her Dress, His Choice by @EstellaMz

Cross-posted from: Uncultured Sisterhood
Originally published: 13.11.14

In the nineties, girls and women navigating through downtown Kampala would have been surprised to end the journey without being groped and stalked. By men. This was normal; men being men and women being, well, objects for men to grab, gawk and leer at. Negative reaction often resulted in a barrage of insults. It didn’t matter that they had just called you ‘sister’ or ‘mummy’ or ‘auntie’. You were buttocks, breasts, legs. Yours was to suffer it, preferably with a smile, and keep walking.

Years later, we hear stories of women who have retaliated against this harassment. Surprisingly, men are said to cheer them on, and playfully chide their colleague for the unthoughtful move. And so you would think that a lot had changed on these streets. However, last year when Ugandans were gifted with a Christmas of laws, including the notorious anti-miniskirt act, hardly had the thud of the honorable speaker’s gavel died out, than mobs were undressing women in the name of policing decency.


Read more Her Dress, His Choice by @EstellaMz

Suffragette – A Film Review at Madam J-Mo

Cross-posted from: Madam J-Mo
Originally published: 24.10.15

CareyThis post contains plot spoilers about the 2015 film Suffragette.

On one hand I was very excited to see the 2015 film Suffragette because this is a period of history I have long been fascinated and inspired by. One the other hand I was very nervous to see the film precisely because I know so much about the era – and I was worried that the film industry would either a) over-dramatise things for effect to distort facts, or b) invent one or two things to make the plot more ‘Hollywood’.

I always refer to myself as a supporter of the suffragists rather than the suffragettes. The suffragists (the peaceful ones who campaigned for many decades but rarely made the news) far outnumbered the militant suffragettes (the ones who got the headlines for the few years they were active), and it frustrates me that the law-abiding, peaceful and effective suffragists are so often overlooked than their more sensational sisters. So while it looks unlikely that a film about Millicent Fawcett’s lifelong campaign and petitioning will be made any time soon, Suffragette is the best we’re likely to get for now.
Read more Suffragette – A Film Review at Madam J-Mo

Girls Sold into Marriage In Exchange for Money, Animals and Food

Cross-posted from: Hiding under the bed is not the answer
Originally published: 29.05.16

I was eleven when I heard that they had come to claim me. I heard them drinking to celebrate the agreement. The day the deal was sealed, there were some pigs and some food ready … I fled. I was very scared. And then, I felt very guilty for everything that happened after I escaped from my village.

This story was told by Odilia López Álvarez, a indigenous women of Cholorigins, now an activist in the Womens’ Rights Centre in Chiapas (Centro de Derecho de la Mujer), Mexico. Her’s is a story that has been told many times. In Chiapas it is still possible for men to obtain an eleven-year old “wife”, to provide them with domestic and sexual services.

It is unlikely this story will be the last one, despite the Federal Senate’s recent initiative to raise the minimum age for marriage to 18 in twenty-five state congresses and thus guarantee girls’ and teenage girls’ rights. The proposal was adopted in Chiapas and the state civil code was amended to only allow adults to marry.

Even so, it is questionable how much of an impact this will have within the indigenous communities of Chiapas, since marriages between minors are not usually celebrated according to state law, but only orally in the presence of “witnesses to the union”. These wedding are valid only in accordance with the local community’s “customs and practices” and are not registered. As a result it is difficult to know how many women and girls are forced to marry this way.   …

 

You can read the full post at Hiding under the bed is not the answer.   This story is translated and abridged by Cath Andrews from an article written by Patricia Chandomí and originally published by CIMAC Noticias. It is published at Hiding under the bed is not the answer with the generous permission of the author.*

 

 

Gaslighting Culture by @smashesthep

Cross-posted from: Smashes the P
Originally published: 05.11.15

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Lately I am really coming to terms with the fact that patriarchy is a gaslighting culture, and for the most part, messages do not need to be true in order to be consistently believed by a large number of people, or to be actively disseminated by the media. In fact, I’d go far enough to say that truth is often considered irrelevant in the media. I used to get angry when these messages veered so far off course from the truth, but I’m starting to see that as a feature and not a bug. That is, they never were meant to convey truths or reality- they were meant as wide spread propaganda.

For example, neo-liberal culture frames personal individual negative impacts in terms of “choice” and “consent” rather than systems of power that constrain groups of people, even though choice has very little to do with whether, say, impoverished inner city kids succeed in school. The same is true with the hidden-in-plain-sight fact about the toxic nature of masculinity and male pattern violence. The fear of taking sides or being too radical by *naming the problem* shapes the thinking patterns of almost the entire world.
Read more Gaslighting Culture by @smashesthep

Jo Cox & Our “Othering” Guilt by @LitDelights

Cross-posted from: Literature Delights
Originally published: 17.06.16

Yesterday in a most brutal and horrific attack, one of the bright stars of our politics, one who cared for and helped our most vulnerable, was brought down. Permanently. Jo Cox was shot and stabbed in broad daylight.

With rumours abound there seems little doubt that the culprit was a supporter of far right political views. Within a few hours however, the oh-so predictable cries of mental illness and that of a loner, began. More on that later. But for now, how nice it is for all of us to find something to burden the blame, to “out” that “spot” of guilt. How lovely it is for our conscious to find sanctuary in reasoning that this is a one off, this was someone who was “sick in the head”. Maybe we ought to listen to Shakespeare a little more closely? Despite repeatedly washing her hands, and chants of “out damn spot”, Lady Macbeth was unable to wash away her guilt. And if you really stopped and paid attention, you would find that the spot still remains with you too.

Jo Cox’s death is not just some bizarre, inexplicable, unavoidable one-off from a mentally ill, lonely dude. It is a symptom of our society; the one WE have created. The one she worked tirelessly to improve.


Read more Jo Cox & Our “Othering” Guilt by @LitDelights

Eroticon, Erotica and Porn by @decadentmadamez

Cross-posted from: Dirty Sexy Words
Originally published: 26.05.16

 

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If you’ve ever been to Eroticon, you’ll know it’s amazing*. It blew my mind the first time I went . I loved it just as much the second time I went, but, well, they do say that three times is the charm, and when you add in the fact that the wonderful Ruby Kiddell has hosted this weekend of wonders for the final time, it’s perhaps unsurprising that I’ve spent the past few days with an idiot grin on my face and a profound, unshakeable conviction that I did something amazing, and that we are amazing.

In most people’s heads, there is a dividing line between erotica and porn, whether it’s class-based (erotica is expensive and upmarket, porn is grubby and cheap) or artform-based (porn is visual, erotica is text). Though elements of the mainstream world regard any type of sex-related entertainment as dubious, there’s a general consensus that something erotic is morally and culturally superior to anything designated pornographic.

 


Read more Eroticon, Erotica and Porn by @decadentmadamez

On gender and hierarchies by @saramsalem

Cross-posted from: NeoColonialism & It's Discontents
Originally published: 02.06.16

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I think one of the first things I learned about feminism was an inherent contradiction that didn’t strike me as such when I first heard it: on the one hand, there are universal solutions to gender inequality, such as education, employment, sexual rights, and so on – these are not necessarily context-specific (the details can be) but need to happen everywhere in order for gender equality to become a reality. And yet on the other hand, there are very different levels of gender inequality across the world. This very difference  in the level of inequality could point to the need for different kinds of solutions, but this did not seem to be the case. Instead this difference functioned to create a very clear – even if rarely labelled such openly – hierarchy in terms of gender equality. At the top of this hierarchy we have the role model countries: Scandinavia, Western and Northern Europe, and sometimes Australia, the US and the UK. And then underneath we have a series of levels with different countries. Typically Egypt and other Arab and African countries come somewhere at the bottom. 
Read more On gender and hierarchies by @saramsalem

I was born by @cateleven

Cross-posted from: The Feminist Poet
Originally published: 30.05.16

I was born this knot of nerves
Of great heat and flux
I swelled and ebbed
An abundant churning sea
And I soaked up all the hard truths
And I carried the layers
Of frowns and smiles
On my skin
All those words spat
Sat just below the surface
All those hands that touched me
Slept deeper
Behind my ribs
Waiting for a pause
For the tide to be out
When I was grown
When I was greyer
And my edges softer
And the skin a little laxed
When those hands would be remembered
With a ferocity
That would tear the skin from my bones
I would turn and turn
Over and over
Looking for a different space
Another place in the bed
Where it could not be felt
Where those words could not be heard
And the only place
The only free spot
The only calomine for my ever-burn
Was the constant motion
Of a sea swim-a rising tide
Or a long hill and valley run
Never sitting still
Never finishing

Tomboy by @HeadinBook

Cross-posted from: Head in Books
Originally published: 02.06.16

Do people still ask children what they want to be when they grow up? It’s not a question I’m aware of hearing these days; perhaps because the answer: “heavily in debt and renting till I retire at 94” is too guilt-engendering for the adult in question to cope with.

Shopping for children’s clothes last week, though, I saw that Next have grasped the nettle…sort of. Among the varicoloured bits of jersey were two T-shirts which flirted with the idea of one’s destiny in life:

Screen Shot 2016-05-22 at 11.29.49                Spot the difference?


Read more Tomboy by @HeadinBook

Creative work might not make big bucks, but we must value it. by @sianushka

Cross-posted from: Sian and Crooked Rib
Originally published: 31.05.16
So says the Vice Chancellor of Queen’s University in Belfast, in response to how they are managing budget cuts by amalgamating courses such as anthropology and sociology into wider subjects of study, so that instead of 21-year-olds passionate about their specialism, we have instead: 
 
Now, I’m not saying that supporting 21-year-olds to understand the job market and how they can take their place within it is a bad thing. I could have probably done with some of that. 
 
But what I am saying is that when you have the head of a university basically denigrating the joy and wonder that humanities research can offer an undergraduate student, encouraging them to take on post-grad study, potentially becoming a world specialist in their field and inspiring others behind them – well, something has gone very, very wrong in the way we think about the value of education and specifically university education.  


Read more Creative work might not make big bucks, but we must value it. by @sianushka

Internet mob shames mom in Harambe’s name by Prof. Rebecca Hains

Cross-posted from: Dr. Rebecca Hains
Originally published: 31.05.16

The tragic killing of Harambe the gorilla has prompted an international outpouring of grief and rage. Harambe was killed by Cincinnati zoo officials to save the life of a preschooler who somehow entered the gorillas’ enclosure. It’s a decision officials maintain was their only possible course of action, given Harambe’s great strength and the fact that tranquilizers can enrage animals before they take effect.

Since then, more than 350,000 people have signed a Change.org petition demanding “justice for Harambe,” which blames Harambe’s death on “parental negligence,” insisting, “the zoo is not responsible for the child’s injuries and possible trauma.” The signatories ask for Child Protective Services to investigate the family and for the Zoo and the Cincinnati Police to “hold the parents responsible” for Harambe’s death.

As many parents of young children can intuit, the logic of this petition is questionable. It is reasonable for parents to expect a zoo to have barriers sufficient to prevent small children from entering the enclosures of dangerous animals. According to a statement made by primatologist Julia Gallucci, the design of Harambe’s enclosure was faulty: “The gorilla enclosure should have been surrounded by a secondary barrier between the humans and the animals to prevent exactly this type of incident,” she noted.  … 
Read more Internet mob shames mom in Harambe’s name by Prof. Rebecca Hains