Self-deception has repeatedly served as a bedrock of cruelty.
It has transformed greed into gallant heroism, where invasion of lands is adventure, displacement of natives is about saving the savages, and theft and self-enrichment is ingenuity.
It has rationalized subjugation as the “natural order” of things. Women — at home; gays — in the closet; natives — in reserves; and Blacks — in farms or in ghettos. …
Settler deception in Canada, however, is unique in the euphemism it employs. …
On Saturday, the Bristol Post reported the story of how a 34-year-old man was intending to play one of the city’s public pianos in order to “win” back his ex girlfriend. Calling the woman who he’d been dating for four months “Rapunzel”, the stunt was intended to show off how much he loved her.
As is fairly typical in these kinds of stories, the Post branded the stunt as romantic, calling Luke Howard “heartbroken”, tagging his efforts as “dedication” in their tweet. However, in refusing to accept his ex girlfriend’s “no”, and by making a huge public statement demanding that she recognises his “love” for her, Howard’s behaviour is not romantic. It’s entitled – and it’s symptomatic of a wider problem of men’s harassment of their exes.
This is not the first time that women have been told to accept men not taking no for an answer as a romantic gesture. From John Cusack’s ghetto blaster in Say Anything… to the best man’s creepy filming of his friend’s bride in Love Actually, the ideal of a heartbroken man harassing the object of his affection has been sold to us as true love over and over again.
But there’s nothing romantic about refusing to accept that a woman has a right to leave you. It’s not a love story when a woman tells a man “no” and he demands she change it to a “yes”. ..
After Kathy Acker: the life and death of a taboo-breaking punk writer, by Suzanne Moore
… At 53, the experimental writer was too young to die and her reaction to her illness had pushed away so many friends who had tried to help her. This was a lonely place, or maybe she had slipped fully into a world of magical thinking – I can’t say. Looking back, though, I think this was how she had always lived. Another way to put it is that Kathy lied. Or that she created her own myth via a series of strategic personas. All her work was an attempt to the dissolve the “I’ , the narrator, the ego. This constant slippage of identity. Who is talking? Who is the author? What is writing but copying down words? What happens when language is lost?
To pin down the real Kathy Acker then is a self-defeating task but Chris Kraus’s biography of her is a brilliant and necessary thing. There is a wonderful ambivalence between subject and object here, which wires up a tension throughout this incredibly well-researched book. Kraus and Acker moved in some of the same circles. The poet Eileen Myles once said that Kraus was “entirely obsessed… wanting to be Kathy”. Sylvère Lotringer – who was Kraus’s husband, and who features in her previous book, I Love Dick– had an affair with Acker for three years before he met Kraus. Inside one of his books, Kraus found an inscription from Acker: “To Sylvère, The Best Fuck in the Word (At Least to My Knowledge ), Love, Kathy.” …
‘Kids are gross’: on feminists and agency, by Caitlin McGregor
… My son, Oscar, is three. He is articulate and perfectly able to understand plain English, but people are constantly talking about him, in his presence, as if he’s not there. Many of my friends are self-described fierce feminists, who can and do rant indefinitely about the indignity women suffer by being silenced, ignored, objectified and dismissed, and yet they consistently do all of these things to Oscar. They ignore his requests not to be touched or embraced, and never make what is to me the very obvious connection between this and their own feminist positions about the non-negotiable need for consent. They override his very clear statements about his emotions; they even laugh when he’s upset and say, in his hearing, that his anger is ‘cute’.
None of these people are purposefully cruel, nor is their approach to interacting with children unusual. What has often perplexed me, though, is how often this kind of behaviour is exhibited by people who are so involved with and driven by feminism, which is so heavily grounded on assertions of dignity, autonomy and respect. What I’ve come to suspect is that many feminists’ failure to recognise the autonomy of children is, at least in part, symptomatic of the way children have for many feminists become symbols of oppression. But when we are unable to separate the systematic discrimination that makes mothering a ridiculously difficult and often oppressive role from the fact that children are sentient, autonomous human beings who deserve dignity and respect, we are in danger of allowing glaring hypocrisies to creep into the way we construct and use feminist principles and ideas. …
Unlearning the myth of American innocence, by Suzy Hansen
… For all their patriotism, Americans rarely think about how their national identities relate to their personal ones. This indifference is particular to the psychology of white Americans and has a history unique to the US. In recent years, however, this national identity has become more difficult to ignore. Americans can no longer travel in foreign countries without noticing the strange weight we carry with us. In these years after the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the many wars that followed, it has become more difficult to gallivant across the world absorbing its wisdom and resources for one’s own personal use. Americans abroad now do not have the same swagger, the easy, enormous smiles. You no longer want to speak so loud. There is always the vague risk of breaking something.
Some years after I moved to Istanbul, I bought a notebook, and unlike that confident child, I wrote down not plans but a question: who do we become if we don’t become Americans? If we discover that our identity as we understood it had been a myth? I asked it because my years as an American abroad in the 21st century were not a joyous romp of self-discovery and romance. Mine were more of a shattering and a shame, and even now, I still don’t know myself. …