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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The (wo)man behind the curtain

posted by Silvana
There are a lot of things being written about me on the internet, so I guess it's time to resurrect this blog just for a minute to put some stuff out there. This deserves more than just a few tweets. In the interest of full disclosure and honesty.

On December 17, my friend Gayle and I wrote this post. It was about #mooreandme and the discourse around the allegations of rape against Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. It included, among three other arguments, this bit from a chat conversation:
silvana: i dont even know what to make of sady's last post
"It is very, very low. Because Michael Moore’s actions indicate that rape survivors just don’t mean as much to Michael Moore as Julian Assange getting bail. They just don’t. He has assigned a demonstrable, monetary value to these two causes, and as far as we know, Assange is worth $20,000 and providing necessary aid to sexual assault survivors is worth $0."
i find this to be shit
me: i find this to be UTTER SHIT
there are no zero sum games like that in life
silvana: moore doesn't have any obligation to give any money to anyone
silvana: As far as the world knows, going out for french food is worth $100 to silvana, and helping rape survivors is worth $0
i am so mad
me: i just went out for dinner and paid for pizza. I VALUE PIZZA MORE THAN RAPE PREVENTION.
i love our examples
written at the same time
silvana: hahahahhaha
silvana: and starving children
and people who have been the victims of landmines
me: and rape epidemics in the congo!
or liberia!
silvana: and women held as sexual slaves in thailand
me: sady doyle gave $50 for rape survivors. why does sady doyle hate starving african babies?

We used crass words, yes; it's pretty par for the course for me and especially for the feminist blogs. I admit that I hesitated about posting the words "fuck you," I didn't want it to sound mean. But on review, I assumed it would be taken in the crass, flip, somewhat humorous way it was meant. This is, after all, the internet, and if there's one thing internet feminists know how to do, it's swear.

I didn't mean to hurt her. When I found out that I did, I apologized. But it has nevertheless blown up.

Sady Doyle has taken issue with what we wrote. Here's what she has written about it so far. She also left this comment on our post.

I'm not going to quote all of it, because it's a lot, but here are some things I found particularly troubling:

"I'm sad that (if I'm recalling correctly, if you're the same "Gayle") you wrote me an e-mail saying that you'd started a new blog because you liked mine so much, I'm sorry I promoted that newborn and relatively readerless blog on Tiger Beatdown when it had very few posts and no comments, and I'm sorry that, now that you have readers and are receiving comments, you're trying to invite those comments by posting that I'm "UTTER SHIT" and shouting "FUCK YOU" at me. I wouldn't do that to you. I'm not sorry I helped you out, but I am sorry that it meant so little to you, and that you don't see me as a person deserving of basic respect."

"It’s just: Now that I’m getting all of these messages about the “enemies” I’ve made, for pointing out how even idealistic activist left-wing types will dissimulate and back-stab and attempt to promote themselves at your expense and without respect for you, I think it’s time we all get a brief crash course in How Things Work. If you’re a friend of one of these women, will you find a way to be nasty now? Yes, quite possibly you will."
(ed note: If someone can figure out what those last two sentences mean, please tell me; I am genuinely baffled.)

"It’s OK, Gayle. You did a bad thing. You were purposefully hurtful to someone who’d never done anything to you, and had in fact helped you in the past. You don’t have to post anything on your blog that you don’t want to; you just have to think about what sort of space you want your blog to be."

"But always look at the man behind the curtain. That’s my advice to you. The next time something seems to come up out of nowhere, somebody falls out of favor or becomes subject to hostilities, always look behind the curtain. You don’t know what’s back there. And I, personally, don’t care if there’s a chance that I’ll get in trouble if I tell."

"First I heard $10K, then I heard that someone had donated $2K on top of it, which I think means they have about $14K with the matching in place. That's a lot of money for them. That's a lot of people being able to call and deal with their rapes with qualified professionals.

$14K. That's a big number. For helping survivors.

Would you prefer that we didn't raise it?"

"If folks really want the link, I’ll send it, maybe. But this isn’t feminism. This is pretty clearly personal. This is someone getting all “FUCK YOU” over I am just not sure what, after I’ve done everything in my power to re-affirm that I like her and don’t need her to agree with me. So, yeah. It doesn’t have to be a spectator sport. I just mention it because, wow. Shit got pretty real these past two weeks. But this?

This was officially the lowest blow."

Those quotes are only a fraction of what's she's posted, which you can read in the links above. So, in response to these four words, we get a half-dozen posts in which she says that we are craven, self-promoting, backstabbing, disrespectful, purposely hurtful, venomous, using Sady as a way to get comments, and that we don't care about rape survivors.

You can decide for yourself what you think about this. But from where I'm standing, it looks like, apparently, because we posted the words "FUCK YOU" and called her argument "UTTER SHIT" in a chat where we were clearly making jokes and being crass, we are now getting the responses you see above. There is nothing else. There is no other objection. All the things that Sady has written about how she is upset at us, is about those four words.

Apparently, the fact that we disagree with her arguments means we don't want money to go to rape survivors. But it's not clear what her raising money for rape survivors has to do with the quality of her arguments, or somehow bears on the question of whether we should agree with her.

I still maintain that her argument as quoted in the chat above boils down to an assertion that anything that you have spent money on, you value more than all the things you haven't spent money on. And it was the argument that was used, again and again, to raise money for RAINN. I think raising money for rape crisis centers is great. But that doesn't mean I think every single thing that's said in support of the fundraising is correct. I still believe that what she said about the fact that Assange is fighting extradition suggests his guilt (as I quoted from here) is wrong and dangerous. I still believe that in the course of promoting #mooreandme, Sady made some disingenuous and problematic arguments, more than just these two.

I still haven't gotten any response to the arguments themselves. And that's fine--Sady isn't obligated to respond to me or anyone. But I would have liked to engage about them, rather than have this discussion about four words I used in a blog post.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Hasta la vista. Bitches.

posted by bitchphd
So what happened?

From where I sit (pinned down by a cat), honestly, the title and raison d'etre of the blog really no longer apply. I've been out of academia now for something like five years--long enough that I'm not actually sure how long it's been. I still have strong opinions, but the severe unhappiness and depression that were, to be honest, major drivers of the urgency and bitchiness of the blog are also things of the past. For now anyway, and I hope permanently. And most importantly of all, my primary purpose in starting the blog has, I think, been met: there are *tons* of people out there who are also depressive/bitchy/feminist/mama/academic/anxious/funny/cynical/etc. types, who experience at least some parts of the world in ways that are congenial to me, and I to them, and the blog has, I think, been a successful part all of our discovering that the internet is a really awesome way to ditch the facades and talk, honestly, about our experiences. Even the pseudonymous part of doing so feels almost like an afterthought: it's been quite some time since Bitch was a fairly transparent (though still quite enjoyable) nom de plume, rather than a proper mask.

That plus it sort of feels like Bitch PhD is a more or less complete body of work. Not that we don't/won't continue to have things to say on the blog's topics--feminism, politics, society, recipes, even academia--but we, the various Bitches, have each reached a kind of closure of the parts of our lives that the blog served. Sybil has a job she's happy with, but it's not blog-friendly. Ding has switched jobs and found a man, for god's sake. LeBlanc got MARRIED. Taddy claims he hasn't changed, but he got cancer, recovered, is returning to his real life and (most importantly of all) has realized, I think, that he is a damn good writer. I'm a housewife, and Pseudonymous Kid is old enough now (10 next week!) that he has started to censor what I write about him, the little shit.

We may not all be living happily ever after, but I think we're all at transitional stages and ready to move to something new.

But as I said, that doesn't mean we're, like, dead or anything. Ding and I are both thinking of starting book blogs; LeBlanc may be getting annoyed by DC blog politics, but she's nonetheless become Somebody among the big boys and girls; Sybil may be blog-free for a while but she seems to have become a semiregular twit. Taddy, well, you guys gotta talk Taddy into starting a goddamn blog of his own.

For now the blog will stay exactly where it is. Lauren at Feministe has offered to archive some "best of" posts, and I may get around to taking her up on the offer. If/when I get my own domain (which I'm totally going to do with the next blog; some asshole has been squatting on bitchphd.com for years now) I'll try to figure out how to move everything over there. In other words, stuff will still be around, hopefully to be occasionally discovered by new readers as well as fondly printed out--EVERY SINGLE PAGE--and bound in gold leaf by each and every one of you.

I shall forever remain your humble servant.


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Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Everybody's So Different I haven't Changed

posted by taddyporter

In my family we hate to be parted but we love to say goodbye. We love the weepy, beery farewells, the exit calls to have one more drink, one more bite, to stay just a little longer. The grown ups embrace and the little kids cling to each other, screaming as we pry them apart. You'd think they were being sold into slavery. We each press each other as if ...we may or might never all meet here again.
And we press a sack lunch on the departing, something for the road. Frequently, there is a bale of hand-me-downs the children of the hosting house have outgrown but which will do just fine for the children of the departing. We slip dollar bills to the little kids and tell them to buy themselves a treat. We slip a ten or a twenty to the older kids and tell them not to spend it all in one place.

I guess that's why the wake is our clan's supreme expression of solidarity. We love to say goodbye.

Its too bad the internet won't support a wake. Or maybe I just don't know how to have one on the internet. There's a lot of things I didn't know about the internet until I came to BitchPhD.

In fact, this blog has been a revelation to me, one revelation after another. I came here following a recipe search for pan de dulce and was introduced to a sweetness I never imagined. A complicated sweetness, one requiring a palate sophisticated and discerning and learned. This is, after all, BitchPhD, not SweetHoneyintheRockPhD.

I thank you for being so sweet to me. Thank you for many kindnesses. Thank you for giving me time to become a little learned and listening to me while I struggled to express what I've learned. Being invited to join the bloggeen of the Sisters Bee has been a great honor. I will never forget it. I will never forget you.

My time posting here has coincided with one of the most tumultuous phases of my life. Shortly after I started posting, I left my little home on the mountain to work in Wisconsin for what I expected to be a few months. Nearly two years, six months of chemotherapy, one ghastly surgery, two hospital stays, and several months of physical and mental therapy later, I'm back in my mountain croft. I never, ever, ever, want to leave again.

Not sure what I'm going to do from here on. I've got a lot of catching up to do. I need to find my place, again, among the members of my household and among my friends. It may or may not be worth writing about. The Great Recession has caused much dislocation for our people. My experience is unique to me but has probably been repeated, in similar form, millions of times over the last couple years. Just look at the BitchPhD staff. No one of our bloggeen is in the same place and situation they were two years ago.

Except me. I'm back where I started. Mostly, I want to play my guitar and have a drink with my friends. And wake BPhD.

Dr B said the internet is a big place and it is. The world, however, is really a very small place. Who knows where we might run across each other again? Anywhere people crowd in for a drink and a dance and a bit of a joke, that's where to look for me.
I'm the guy at the end of the bar, chatting up your sister.

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Social Network

posted by Silvana
I'm not sure what I ever hoped to accomplish by blogging. I think it was more a compulsion than anything. I had stuff to say, damnit, and I wanted to know if anyone would listen. I needed more, always more social interaction, especially when I started blogging, which was when I was in law school and dealing with a lot of isolation and not having enough fun. I figure there were people on the Internet who wanted to have fun conversations and shoot the shit. I would have always said that I was trying to do some kind of public service. I still think that's true. I think blogging can be incredibly important to people who feel isolated or alone, people trapped in bad relationships or shitty towns or a dead-end job. In some sense, I became a feminist blogger because I felt trapped in the activity of being a woman in patriarchy, which is a real pain, and I wanted to reach out to other women in a similar position and see if we couldn't come up with something good that made sense of it all.

And we did.

Moving to DC made me like blogging less and less. I met a lot of people who are journalists and writers and bloggers and it seems that so many people are connected intimately to this internet, more so than they are to each other. I got tired of vitriolic comment threads where it seemed like everyone was itching for a fight. I get enough fights off the internet. I got tired of people trying to score points. And I can blame bloggers and commenters all I want, but let's face it, the truth is this: I don't have as much to say any more. I have less patience for trying to convince people who disagree with me. I don't find it fun anymore.

I'm sure this won't be the last time I blog. People change, circumstances change, and again I'm sure I will be moved to say something, to get it off my chest, to vent, to write it out and pull things together and make something coherent out of living, in words. When I do, it will probably be at Tiger Beatdown, where Sady has kindly offered me the space to do it when I feel like it.

Thank you all for reading.

More than that, thanks to Bitch for asking me to blog for her, which at the time and for several years after was huge for me. What an honor. Thanks to all the rest of the crew for entertaining me and for being my friend.

Until then, I hope I see you all in the real world, and we can emphasize with hand gestures instead of html tags.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Fireside chats

posted by Sybil Vane
When I was a grad student, I TA'd for a professor, now a friend, who liked to say, "The best thing about semesters is that they end." He had the right demeanor to pretend he meant it cynically, but I heard him weave it unto an undergrad lecture once and know he had a whole Benjaminian kind of thing going on (that and he is more earnest than he let on). Semesters are great like stories are great like novels are great like movies are great: they have a beginning, a middle, and an end and in giving us a narrative to inhabit from start to finish, they give us the sense of experiencing the only thing we all really want to know about but can't: how the/our story ends. "What draws the reader to the novel is the hope of warming his shivering life with a death he reads about."

So you can see where I'm going with this: closing down Bitch PhD is like dying.

Not that. But it is something I'm trying to feel satisfied about, something I want to let be an ending in the best narrative sense of the world. This blog was an important part of a narrative for me. It was the first blog I ever paid real serious attention to. It informed so very many of my opinions while I was a grad student. On things like this and this and this, just to name a few. It was through this blog that I met my first ever internet people in real life. And hey, remember when we did this? Ah, the times.

This blog was important to me long before I wrote on it and B's voice was probably the first feminist voice in my adult life that really resonated with my concerns, my glibness, my anxieties, my ambitions. I am sure the story is the same for a lot of you. And a lot of you!! You've been so great to me since I have been writing here, making me feel so sure that my stories were interesting, funny, and really worth all the space they get in my head. And that my recipes are sometimes good. And the lovely fellow bloggers, with their complicated lives and fierce commitments and sharp brains and short short tempers with trolls.

It's a love fest, the whole thing.

And now everyone gets a chance to put, if not a period, perhaps a semicolon or maybe even a comma on the story [Confidential to my students: the latter two of which continue to NOT be able to be used interchangeably]. Which is a comforting luxury, in its own way.

I doubt I will blog again somewhere else. Clearly, my momentum of late has petered. Moving, new job, family back together, 5 yr old, 30 Rock, it all takes a lot out of me. I got to do the thing I never imagined would happen: I found a tenure track job in my field in the town where I have the most friends and where my husband's career is solidly planted, where we can afford a house and like the school district and the weather and the restaurants. I am not sure that the academic blog world needs my story, that anyone is really served by having this story told. It's happy making, which is a service, but you know what I mean.

It would, in some ways, be good for me to be writing about the job. There are a lot - and y'all, I mean a lot - of things about this institution and the the way the place works that make for SERIOUS blog content. But for a variety of reasons I feel that it's likely I would be un-anonymized by someone there, sooner or later, if I blogged regularly, and for a variety of reasons I feel like I would likely get fired if I were found out while doing a lot of unsavory blogging. It's just not a good idea. And neither is glib happy blogging.

So for now, my blog story ends with what is probably a period. The Vane family is back under one roof, LV is happily-ish ensconced in a new school where she is not being secretly taught about Jesus. Instead she is mixing up other traditions and came home a few weeks ago announcing that on Eid, a person gets to stay home and eat apples and honey all day. She is planning a vampire faerie costume for Halloween. I am reading wikipedia articles on chemotherapy (seriously) and visualizing clumps of hair on my beautiful wood floors in an attempt to psych myself up for the Next Great Smoking Cessation, to begin when the weather gets genuinely cold. I am comfortably in the midterm mode of my teaching performance and my students seem so far to respond in the ways I expect them to; they like me, for the most part. Mr. V and I are remembering how to share parenting during the weekdays; the inevitable quibbling that results is nothing in comparison to the luxury of having someone else to pack lunch and do end of day pick up. The CAT has settled on her favorite sun spots on the back porch and the front porch. She never kills songbirds, despite all that you readers gave me to look forward to. I miss football this season, but I can't root for Ben. I made amazing manicotti last weekend. And sweet potato pie with vanilla whipped cream. And the bakery down the street sells amazing baguettes.

You can imagine the tedium that kind of material would produce, as far as posts go.

Thanks so much for talking so much with me. Thanks to Delia, to Silvana, to Taddy, for being allies and for being so goddamned smart. Thanks to B for hosting for such a long time. If I make my way back somewhere, you'll be the first to know (so I should get your numbers. So we can text. Or something).

ETA: Also, I forgot to note that I do wonder if B is really shutting down the place because I did that fucked up thing where I made the comments go backwards-wise and I never figured out how to fix it and everyone just hella hates it still. My bad, y'all. I broke the place.

The elephant in the room

posted by bitchphd
We, the Bitch Collective, think it is past time to acknowledge an unfortunate fact: this blog has withered on the vine. There are various reasons for this, and some of us will write closing posts in the next few days which may address them. But in any case we will be putting Bitch PhD out of its misery in the next few days.

That said, most of us will continue to blog elsewhere, under our real names or other noms des plumes. It's a big Internet. We'll see you around....

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

...and, farewell.

posted by Delia Christina
It's been loads of fun, poppets. But I gotta go.
Life is calling and I've been postponing it a bit with all my navel gazing, jeremiad-ing and general bitchiness.
But don't worry; I have not been tamed. Me and my afro, we're in the dulcet-toned environs of philanthropy and I expect several apple carts to be overturned over the course of the year.

Maybe you'll see me again. Maybe I'll be the woman to throw a pie in Rahm Emanuel's face.
Whatever the case, catch me over at Screed. Or on the Twitter, @DeliaChristina or @DeliaC.

Ciao, bellas!

Delia Christina


Thursday, September 09, 2010

hello, again.

posted by Delia Christina
Last week I resigned from my position with the Large Women's NonProfit to join the Large Statewide Philanthropic Organization. My last day is tomorrow.

What am I feeling? Relief.

Relief that I'm no longer behind the Illinois state budget 8-ball, working for a direct service organization. I know my coworkers are looking for some signs of sadness but I can't help it if indecorous spurts of glee leak out of me.

Relief that I networked my ass off, lined up my champions, searched strategically and interviewed smartly (after that initial phone interview that caught me unawares. Preparation, always preparation!)

Relief that I bumped my salary by $11k and can perhaps afford a new couch to replace the secondhand Ikea couch with the big dent in it, where my butt busted the springs after a frolic with M-.

Relief that, in such a tough, competitive environment, I bore down, concentrated and won what I wanted. Did I do this alone? Nope. I had a whole team of people supporting me: my boss, my COO, my mentor, my contacts, my friends, my M-, and I thank god for all of them. But ultimately I'm proud of what I did and how I did it.

I'm so relieved it's over. Maybe I can breathe now.
Where else have I been over the summer? Oh, you know. Introducing the boyfriend to the family in LA, hanging out with the Head Bitch and discovering the gay gene gallops through the family.

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