Saturday, 31 January 2015

Comment/Content Policy: Rules of Engagement for BattyMamzelle

Editor's Note: This post was originally published on January 12, 2014. I have recently discovered that several of my essays have been turning up on other websites without my permission or knowledge, even though my content use policy is very clear that I do not allow the republication of my work. For prevent confusion, I am bumping this post up with a few minor changes that should make any ambiguities in that regard more clear. 


In the last few months, this blog has had gotten a lot more regular traffic, for which I am incredibly grateful. However, it also means that because I often write about feminism and anti-racism, I get a lot of ignorant and uninformed comments from people insisting that I make the same arguments over and over again, tailored to their level of understanding. To that end, I decided to start 2014 off with a clear set of guidelines that I can insist people who engage with me to follow. I am tired of being expected to "prove" my lived experiences, and I won't be doing it anymore. The comment policy will allow me to dismiss unfounded nonsense without having to engage with trolls or the willfully oblivious.

So, without further ado, here is the official BattyMamzelle comment and content policy!

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On Comments:
  1. This is my kingdom and I am the Queen. Whatever I say goes. 
  2. Comments are heavily moderated and approved at my discretion. I determine what is and isn't appropriate at any given time.
  3. Because I like discussion and dialogue, 90% of comments will likely make it through, so don't be shy about adding your voice.
  4. Dissenting opinions are allowed and welcome as long as they are respectful, productive and elevate the conversation.
  5. If your comment is racist, sexist, homophobic, misogynistic, derailing, trolling, or any other kind of bigoted that I deem offensive and impermissible, it will be deleted without explanation. Deal with it. This rule includes charges of "reverse racism."

On Content Use:
  1. Cardinal rule: DO NOT STEAL MY WORK. I work very hard on the essays I publish and I deserve to be credited and compensated for my labour. Do not republish anything from this site without express written permission from me. Permission may be sought by emailing me at battymamzelle@gmail.com
  2. Unfortunately, I am not entertaining requests to republish my work at this time. To be clear, this means that I do not wish to be cited in academic works of any kind, or republished anywhere online. Exceptions may be made on a case by case basis. Hyperlink citations are allowed and encouraged, however you must explicitly credit me by name and link back to the original piece. I would also love it if you also shot me a quick email to say you were citing me. This is not mandatory, but I do like to know where my ideas end up, and what context they are being referenced in. If you purposely fail to properly cite my work, or cite it for the explicit purpose of mocking/derision, I will not hesitate to name and shame you online. Foul-play is a two way street that I don't often have opportunity to travel.
  3. If you're unsure if what you would like to do with my content constitutes fair or appropriate use, shoot me a quick email and I'll let you know, but a cursory definition of plagiarism should help you figure it out on your own.
  4. Sharing posts via social media is obviously not a problem, and in fact, heavily encouraged.
  5. To that end, if you think that I have used something without proper/adequate citation, let me know and I will fix it. A quick comment on the offending post should suffice, but emails are welcome.
On General Expectations of Civility:
  1. At all times, remember that I write this blog for myself, in my spare time. I am not an educator on feminism or anti-racism. I am also not a voice for all black women everywhere. My opinions are mine and I speak only for myself. The purpose of this blog is not to provide an education, but simply to act as a venue for my opinions. That you might glean something from being here is delightful, but ultimately incidental.
  2. Because I often write about feminist issues as they relate to pop culture, I expect commenters to have a basic level understanding of feminist concepts and definitions. If you do not have this knowledge, know that much of the discussion will not be accessible to you. Think of my writing as a 400-level college course with pre-requisites.
  3. Racism101: Intro To Racism courses can be found at Racism School. Please note the working definition of racism that is used on this blog.
  4. I am not a teacher. I do not get paid to do this. I do not owe anyone my time or attention. Do not demand an explanation, tailored education, or approach my work in a way that indicates you feel entitled to access to me, or you will be ignored and likely banned. Good faith enquiries will entertained as depending on my mood when I find them. Always remember that Professor Google has 24/7 office hours.
  5. If you find yourself unable to comply with these very reasonable rules, then this is not the place for you. Thank you for stopping by.

Accusations of censorship or "suppression of free speech" will be mocked. Remember at all times that this blog is MINE, and I will do with it as I see fit. No one but me is entitled to a voice in this space. If you dislike the way I moderate discussions or disapprove of the way I deal with dissenters, you are welcome to start your own blog. Blogger, Wordpress and Tumblr are free and available to the public. 

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Naturally this post will eventually be buried in the archives, so always remember that these rules can be accessed in their entirety at all times from the comment policy tab above. The rules of engagement will be strictly enforced. Check back regularly to see that there haven't been changes or additions, as it will be up to you to ensure you haven't broken the rules. Not having read them before commenting will not be considered a valid justification for breaching the rules. That said, I look forward to hearing from you!


Friday, 30 January 2015

#ShameOnShonda Is Bullshit: On Black Women, Mental Health And Intersectionality

via IB Times

This morning, there was grumbling on my twitter timeline about the storyline of last night's episode of Grey's Anatomy. A hashtag, #ShameOnShonda, had been started in protest of what was perceived as a stigmatization of mothers with post-partum depression, or PPD. In the story, a black woman had driven her two children into a lake, almost killing them, and causing a major traffic accident in which other people were also injured. Many of the doctors of the show speculated about what kind of mother she must be to have tried to harm her kids. One doctor in particular, April Kepner (pictured above), who is heavily pregnant, deeply religious and had just found out her fetus suffers from Osteogenesis Imperfecta (brittle bone disease) was especially severe in her condemnation of the mother's actions. In the end, it was revealed that the mother had a tumor of sorts on her pancreas that explained her behaviour and her escalating symptoms before the accident. The mother was neither "crazy" nor evil; she was ill.

To me, the episode was very clearly commentary on the differences between the relationship of black women and white women to mental health and motherhood. (Expertly complemented by the relationships of black and white women to each other on How To Get Away With Murder later that night.) I tweeted about the misinterpretation of the episode earlier today (storify below) but I wanted to expound on some of those thoughts in a longer post.


Saturday, 24 January 2015

Do You Have Time To TV?: On Television Overload

Image Credit: Vulture
[click to enlarge]
Have you ever felt like there's just too much television to watch? I have, and it turns out, that's not just in my head. According to the research department at FX networks, there were "328 scripted first-run prime-time programs aired on ad supported or subscription-based broadcast, cable and streaming networks in the U.S." in 2014 alone. That's a whole lot of television. It feels like in the last couple of years, the number of "must watch" and critically acclaimed television shows has increased substantially, and the odds of missing the zeitgeist are high if you aren't paying rapt attention. How anyone could even attempt to keep up with 180 scripted show a year is beyond me, and that doesn't even take into account reality television staples like The Bachelor or American Idol.

Personally, as a teenager I never used to watch more than 2-4 hours of television a week. I kept up with 7th Heaven, One Tree Hill and Gossip Girl. That was it. But when I got to college and I started having to watch everything online, I started picking up new shows to fill in the gaps in my boredom. I wasn't tied to the television anymore, and I could finally watch whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted.

Being an international student in a new environment and away from everything that was familiar to me, it felt like a blessing to be able to stay inside, away from the hellishily cold tundra of Boston, and let myself be completely absorbed into all kinds of different stories, and no longer have any limits on time. I mainlined all of Lost, Ugly Betty, 90210, and Desperate Housewives in my freshman year alone. And that was before binge-watching even really became a "thing." When I discovered Hulu, it became so much easier to keep up with several shows at once, and each season I added new great shows to the roster. Some survived (Grey's Anatomy, picked up in my sophomore year) and some didn't (State of Georgia, cancelled my junior year) but there was always something new being recommended online as the new best show that I felt like I had just had to watch.

But right now, there's so much on my schedule that I spent all of the winter hiatus catching up on back episodes of pretty much everything from Homeland to American Horror Story to Arrow. Last year the fervor surrounding the imminent end of Breaking Bad left me feeling positively bullied into catching up. (I did, and it was great. #RIPHank) But conversely, it's made me realize that sometimes shows suck, and it's okay not to watch them even if everyone else still is. There's no point devoting hours of my life to television that I no longer enjoy. My new approach has been to put some shows on the "cancellation watchlist." Basically, those are shows I'll get into when they either naturally end or get cancelled. Top of that list is The Good Wife, and next in line is Shameless. Both Damages and Weeds have been on that list forever and I have no idea when I'll get around to them. For the shows that have only recently premiered, I've opted to wait out the season and watch them while they're on hiatus. Last week I finally got through Penny Dreadful (which I'll probably be dropping to be honest) and True Detective and Transparent are next on my binge list.

Since I generally prefer to align my critical focus on the intersection of feminism and pop culture, I often feel like there are certain things that I have to watch in order to be able to fully participate in conversations about how media influences our perceptions of the world. I feel like I have to be able to understand the reference points that television is using, so that I'm better able to critique them constructively. I resisted Game of Thrones for three seasons before I finally caved, but now I've realized that for some things, resistance in futile.

While I'll definitely be trimming my television schedule this year, I'm also going to be open to making room for great television. The Fosters is a show that I resisted watching because I thought my plate was already too full, but it turns out that the reason it has such a large fan base is because the show is genuinely excellent. (Seriously, go watch it. Right now) The same goes for Reign and Chicago Fire. And while I don't think I really ever have to get to everything that ever premieres on television, isn't it kind of awesome that there are so many options now? There's something for everyone, and there is a lot of choice. I can't really say that's a bad thing.

What about you? Do you ever feel bogged down by your television watching schedule? Have you ever dropped shows because you weren't interested anymore? Have you ever picked up shows because you felt left out of the conversations about them? Are there any shows you're planning to catch up on? Any shows you're sad to see go? Tell me about it in the comments.