Latest on twitter:

"There is a vocal and popular contingent of men who are instantly suspicious of a woman with anything approaching power. Unless she makes a huge show of using that power only for their benefit – and sometimes even if she does – there will be people who are essentially convinced that her power must come from some form of modern witchcraft, and that whatever she’s offering, however much people seem to value it, must be eye of newt in disguise."

The truth about trolls and the men they worship, by Jess Zimmerman (via guardian)

(Source: theguardian.com, via guardian)

alonesomes:

halielizabeth_ posted this on Instagram! It’s an excerpt from my poem “Left”. 

Also true, and hard-won.

alonesomes:

halielizabeth_ posted this on Instagram! It’s an excerpt from my poem “Left”.

Also true, and hard-won.


From Science Daily
Going Through the Motions Improves Dance Performance
July 23, 2013 — Expert ballet dancers seem to glide effortlessly across the stage, but learning the steps is both physically and mentally demanding. New research suggests that dance marking — loosely practicing a routine by “going through the motions” — may improve the quality of dance performance by reducing the mental strain needed to perfect the movements.


The new findings, published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, suggest that marking may alleviate the conflict between the cognitive and physical aspects of dance practice, allowing dancers to memorize and repeat steps more fluidly.
Researcher Edward Warburton, a former professional ballet dancer, and colleagues were interested in exploring the “thinking behind the doing of dance.”
"It is widely assumed that the purpose of marking is to conserve energy," explains Warburton, professor of dance at the University of California, Santa Cruz. "But elite-level dance is not only physically demanding, it’s cognitively demanding as well:
Learning and rehearsing a dance piece requires concentration on many aspects of the desired performance.”
Marking essentially involves a run-through of the dance routine, but with a focus on the routine itself, rather than making the perfect movements.
"When marking, the dancer often does not leave the floor, and may even substitute hand gestures for movements," Warburton explains. "One common example is using a finger rotation to represent a turn while not actually turning the whole body."
To investigate how marking influences performance, the researchers asked a group of talented dance students to learn two routines: they were asked to practice one routine at performance speed and to practice the other one by marking.
The routines were relatively simple, designed to be learned quickly and to minimize mistakes. Yet differences emerged when the judges looked for quality of performance.
Across many of the different techniques and steps, the dancers were judged more highly on the routine that they had practiced with marking — their movements on the marked routine appeared to be more seamless, their sequences more fluid.
The researchers surmise that practicing at performance speed didn’t allow the dancers to memorize and consolidate the steps as a sequence, thus encumbering their performance.
"By reducing the demands on complex control of the body, marking may reduce the multi-layered cognitive load used when learning choreography," Warburton explains.
While marking is often thought of as a necessary evil — allowing dancers a “break” from dancing full out — the large effect sizes observed in the study suggest that it could make a noticeable difference in a dancer’s performance:
"Marking could be strategically used by teachers and choreographers to enhance memory and integration of multiple aspects of a piece precisely at those times when dancers are working to master the most demanding material," says Warburton.
It’s unclear whether these performance improvements would be seen for other types of dance, Warburton cautions, but it is possible that this area of research could extend to other kinds of activities, perhaps even language acquisition.
"Smaller scale movement systems with low energetic costs such as speech, sign language, and gestures may likewise accrue cognitive benefits, as might be the case in learning new multisyllabic vocabulary or working on one’s accent in a foreign language."



I am sure this holds true for other complex artistic forms, too.

From Science Daily

Going Through the Motions Improves Dance Performance

July 23, 2013 — Expert ballet dancers seem to glide effortlessly across the stage, but learning the steps is both physically and mentally demanding. New research suggests that dance marking — loosely practicing a routine by “going through the motions” — may improve the quality of dance performance by reducing the mental strain needed to perfect the movements.


The new findings, published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, suggest that marking may alleviate the conflict between the cognitive and physical aspects of dance practice, allowing dancers to memorize and repeat steps more fluidly.

Researcher Edward Warburton, a former professional ballet dancer, and colleagues were interested in exploring the “thinking behind the doing of dance.”

"It is widely assumed that the purpose of marking is to conserve energy," explains Warburton, professor of dance at the University of California, Santa Cruz. "But elite-level dance is not only physically demanding, it’s cognitively demanding as well:

Learning and rehearsing a dance piece requires concentration on many aspects of the desired performance.”

Marking essentially involves a run-through of the dance routine, but with a focus on the routine itself, rather than making the perfect movements.

"When marking, the dancer often does not leave the floor, and may even substitute hand gestures for movements," Warburton explains. "One common example is using a finger rotation to represent a turn while not actually turning the whole body."

To investigate how marking influences performance, the researchers asked a group of talented dance students to learn two routines: they were asked to practice one routine at performance speed and to practice the other one by marking.

The routines were relatively simple, designed to be learned quickly and to minimize mistakes. Yet differences emerged when the judges looked for quality of performance.

Across many of the different techniques and steps, the dancers were judged more highly on the routine that they had practiced with marking — their movements on the marked routine appeared to be more seamless, their sequences more fluid.

The researchers surmise that practicing at performance speed didn’t allow the dancers to memorize and consolidate the steps as a sequence, thus encumbering their performance.

"By reducing the demands on complex control of the body, marking may reduce the multi-layered cognitive load used when learning choreography," Warburton explains.

While marking is often thought of as a necessary evil — allowing dancers a “break” from dancing full out — the large effect sizes observed in the study suggest that it could make a noticeable difference in a dancer’s performance:

"Marking could be strategically used by teachers and choreographers to enhance memory and integration of multiple aspects of a piece precisely at those times when dancers are working to master the most demanding material," says Warburton.

It’s unclear whether these performance improvements would be seen for other types of dance, Warburton cautions, but it is possible that this area of research could extend to other kinds of activities, perhaps even language acquisition.

"Smaller scale movement systems with low energetic costs such as speech, sign language, and gestures may likewise accrue cognitive benefits, as might be the case in learning new multisyllabic vocabulary or working on one’s accent in a foreign language."

I am sure this holds true for other complex artistic forms, too.

(Source: thenearsightedmonkey, via amandapalmer)

Compilation of facts re Michael Brown

feminism5ever:

For all you gross cop apologists + people who haven’t been keeping up:

  1. Autopsy showed no sign of struggle. Also, the autopsy showed the bullet wounds on the inside of his arm which means that his arms had to be up.
  2. The picture of the CT scan that’s being passed…

Recap.

genderfuckedover:

thewomanfromitaly:

i-am-river:

So, i read this awful article using bathroom “scare tactics,” which was claiming that trans women are potential rapists. “Men” who dress as women to gain access to women only spaces and force them self on women. This really upset me and i had a bit of a Twitter rant. They were read by others and i was urged to post them in other media also, so i am posting them here. (Edited together in easy reading format from top to bottom.)

This is the link in the first tweet about how there are no cases of a trans woman attacking a cis woman in public restrooms: Link 1.

This is the link in the second tweet about the cases where trans people are assaulted in the bathroom by cis people: Link 2.

if you’re cis and you follow me i’m gonna need you to reblog this

don’t care if you’re cis or trans, this is important.

(via strawberreli)

Today in Solidarity: Justice for Eric Garner Edition (8.23.14)

(Source: socialjusticekoolaid, via racialicious)

micdotcom:

Days after Michael Brown’s death, Ferguson looks like a war zone

A vigil held for Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager gunned down by Ferguson, Mo., police on Saturday in disputed circumstances, turned into what the media described as a riot on Monday evening.

But while national coverage has focused on the indisputably counterproductive violence and destruction committed by Ferguson residents during a moment of anguish, videos and photos taken from the scene show local police aggravating the situation as well.

Years of tension have reached a boiling point

(via strawberreli)

Goodbye, my Hero

joshruben:

image

I was a weird kid - pale and pudgy, wearing sweatsuits of various colors (thanks mom), always making strange noises and talking to myself in the mirror, both by myself and in the company of my action figures.

During these - lets call them “formative years” - I was sitting in Keyboarding…

To Baby or Not To Baby

amberbensonwrotethis:

I have tried to write this post twice and each time Tumblr has deleted it. I am trying one final time.

I am 37 yrs old. Do I want to have a baby or not? This is a question I ask myself time and time again.

I am an artist. I am independent and creative and intelligent and I love making things. It is what moves me and makes me happy. I could do what I do for the rest of my life and be totally happy if…

…every time I saw a baby or small child, I didn’t get horrible pangs in my ovaries.

I adore children and I feel a physical pull toward them. I have a strong, physical need to fulfill my biological imperative. BUT I don’t want to give up being me. I am selfish. I am an artist. In ten years, I’ll probably be ready to settle down, but right now I am not. In ten years, I will not be able to have a baby.

There in is the rub.

My dad sent me a very thick manila envelope filled with stuff about egg freezing that he’d printed off the internet. I know at least a dozen women who have gone this route, but it’s expensive and, in the end, not completely full proof. I am just not sure it’s for me.

Often I wish I was a man. Men seem to be able to have careers and a family. They are able to do it late in life, too. I know a number of men in their fifties with toddlers. This is not an option for me.

Yes, I can adopt - I think about this, too, and I haven’t ruled it out. But the ability to have a biological child is going away fast and soon the choice will be made for me.

It’s a non-choice choice this just waiting to see what will happen - but right now it’s all I’ve got. 

What say you, Ladies? You picking up what I’m putting down? I’m curious to see if someone out there, based on their own experiences, can allay my mind and help me get some perspective.

For what it’s worth, it took two web browsers and a full password reset to even get into Tumblr to respond to this. Something funny and karmic, huh?

I’m 33, soon to be 34, and I’m single with no partner prospects. I’m also an artist, and work a union trade where I am well-respected and well-paid for what I do (although I do have to be able-bodied enough to do it in order to be paid, which makes pregnancy and the immediate aftermath somewhat daunting). I live in a beautiful apartment that I am slowly making into the home I want it to be, after (too?) many years of devotional labor making homes for my partners. It has been a bizarre and bracing and necessary reversal to take all that attention I’d poured onto other people, and figure out for myself what I actually want, what I prefer, what I like, and to put my shoulder to the wheel for myself. To be my own wife, as I sometimes say. Even now, approaching two years of that singleness, it feels risky to say all of that. I am so very good at being partnered, and still so very clumsy at being alone. 

The question of how and whether and when to have kids is something that comes and goes in intensity for me. I want to have children, but to be honest, alongside that desire comes this yearning to have a partner who also wants to have children, and specifically wants to have children with me. And alongside those desires comes everything else that I’ve worked so hard for in my life and that I live with in a more daily way: earning more than my own survival, becoming elite in my trade, aiming to produce art and stories that excel, having beautiful and meaningful possessions, doing something to make this world a more liberated place, and so on and so on. My desires are kaleidoscopic, and depending on which way I turn, different patterns fall into place.

One pattern is about ambition, and pushing the limits of sleep. I don’t see having a child (or children) as antithetical to great ambition. I’ve wanted many things in my life, and love many things simultaneously, and seek greatness in a few. Having a child now feels of a piece, honestly, with my ambitions as an artist and a tradeswoman and a culture maker and an activist. I refuse a paradigm where the sole role that will be available to me during pregnancy and afterwards is that of “mother” — and some patriarchal Hallmark version of that role, at that. My own mother was always a mother AND an artist, AND an intellectual, AND her own complex, driven, multi-dimensional human being. Mind you, I’m not interested in refusing the role of mother, especially after entering into that dynamic knowingly with another human being who had no other choice. But if there’s one thing I want my kid to know, it’s that I am more than one thing, and so are they. We have options and possibilities and potentialities and commitments and changes of heart and circumstance. I want that multiplicity to be legible to my kid.

But what I am increasingly aware of as I grow older is that while my heart may be infinitely complex and multitudinous (and it is), I am still constrained by time and energy. Much to my chagrinI need to sleep sometime. It’s the certain prospect of that deep, gut-wrenching fatigue that gives me pause, especially as I contemplate the prospect of getting pregnant without a partner. I hear you about the non-choice choice — I went through a period where I was just enraged at people whose fertility stays with them for their entire lives. Why must I be forced into choosing now, with a biological window that will close on me? Why does my chance at contributing to a blood line have to have this time limit? I can make art for the rest of my life — make movies, tell stories, sing harmonies to my beloved friends’ songs and record them through one lens after another — I can, in effect, have a thousand art “babies” and reach to touch forever just like that. And I will. But if I want this piece of forever, of creativity knit in flesh and bone, I have to choose and I have to choose soon. 

Because if I choose to move forward with getting pregnant without a partner, there are a lot of ducks to get in a row to make that happen. Not impossible, just complex. (Thanks, science. Thanks, feminism.) But I’m also very skilled at driving complex projects, so it’s not even that complexity I’m worried about. You touch on this briefly on Twitter, Amber, about this feeling of “failure.” I realized that I too had that shadow lurking over me, an implication that I had failed in my previous partnerships, failed to find a partner to have kids with — and in fact, *would* fail because finding someone to partner with and have kids with in this biological timeframe feels completely ludicrous and irrational. And when I finally got that thought articulated and conscious, I knew I had to turn that around somehow. I needed a new way to frame the issue. The best I’ve gotten to so far is contemplating how to rearrange my thinking so that I can see having a kid on my own as an act of love and confidence in myself — and not evidence of my failure (to be loved/to be lovable). I also, frankly, needed to decouple (ha, literally) the question of being single from the question of whether to parent. I just can’t have being single be a determining factor in whether I become a parent — it’s a vault that’s too high to make dating even remotely feasible. I’m far more willing to be a single mom facing the prospect of dating than be a single woman who’s dating to get a partner to get to be a mom, which just feels like hell on wheels when I imagine it.

The whole thing is hard to parse, and the stakes are laughably high. But I guess the other thing I’d want to tell you is that you’re not alone in this. I think these are questions that a lot of folks face, and as other folks have said, there is no one right answer. But I also think taking the time to discern the kindest, bravest, wisest answer for you is the way to go. For me, realizing that these questions sit in the center of a number of my deepest fears (about being too much, wanting too much, being unlovable, etc.) helped me at least to reframe more gently and think very carefully about what’s possible, and check my assumptions and come up with different paths. And ha — we’ll see! I’m definitely still working on it. 

Best of luck, and mad respect to you, always. 

how every breath is hard-won

So…. I heard somewhere that this season’s allergen load was going to be the worst in many years, partly because of the climate change weather extremes. I heard that, because it was going to be so bad, many folks were going to experience seasonal allergies for the first time. As someone who has lived with seasonal/environmental allergies (and the asthma induced by them) for many years, I took this warning seriously. I’ve come to expect that I will generally have a week in the Spring and Fall where I am largely incapacitated — I just had come to think of that as par for the course of my life. But when I heard this warning, from the Farmer’s Almanac or somesuch, and the thought of more than a week of that being likely on the horizon, I decided not to chance it.

So I went to the allopathic doctor and said, “Drug me.” My doctor was funny and dry and laughed at my matter-of-fact way of describing my current baselines. “Basically, what I think we have to do is actually get your asthma under control.” I realized that I had always gone the other way — manage the allergies, and the asthma will take care of itself, or so I thought. But as I was gearing up to go see her, and becoming hyper-aware of my body so that I could faithfully report what I was going through, I also realized that I was basically living with a low-grade asthma attack most (okay — all) of the time. She prescribed three different inhalants in various forms, with various routines for me to follow. And I followed them.

And, like my doctor thought, once I’d stabilized the asthma, the more allergy-oriented inhaler became superfluous, and I stopped using it. (My body also seemed to reject it — but that’s another story.) The other thing that became clear is just how much I’ve fundamentally normalized my cycles of better and worse breathing. That’s just how I breathe. I didn’t even know what 100% relief felt like — turns out, to me, it kinda feels like nothing. As I know is common, it wasn’t until my primary maintenance inhaler ran out about a week ago that I took notice of how basic relief — full lung breathing without effort or constraint — had quietly become my new normal. Frankly, outside of certain measured activities like meditation and yoga, I don’t think about my breathing all that much. Even though it hurts a little pretty much all the time. I’ve actually had to find different cues to catch my attention so I’ll notice when I’m having an attack, and then maybe do something to relieve it, because slightly shallow, slightly pained breathing is… well, just how I breathe “normally,” right? But after roughly two months of feeling something else, I now know that asthmatic breathing isn’t categorically intrinsic to who I am.

Though I have to tell you — this feeling, this light pressure on my sternum, this ache in the middle of chest — it does *feel* intrinsic to who I am. I just thought it was something else: a kind of melancholy that never quite goes away, a tinge of brokenheartedness that is just always with me, how close tears (a closed throat, a gasp) often feel and how much that points towards the beauty of this world and how precious, how hard-won each breath is… As a fellow asthmatic and friend once said to me, having this kind of environmental and stress-induced asthma feels like a way our bodies keep us from diving in too deep too quickly towards the world, no matter how much we both dearly want to (and do, consequences be damned). I’m always a little skeptical of poetic meanings ascribed to bodies and ailments and abilities — if it’s useful to you, if it makes you kinder and more compassionate, then sure. But be careful — I think there is also use and meaning in the clarity and spaciousness of a full breath, even if I don’t quite know what it is for myself yet. My momma always said to be careful about how much you love your own misery. I’ve clearly found ways to love these aches of mine, but no matter how much it felt familiar to me, or how easy it felt to just slip back into a habit of half-breaths these last few days, or how much all of that poetically confirms something to me simultaneously about how tough and secretly tender I am… I still called the pharmacy tonight and refilled my prescription. Because I’d like to keep discovering, one day after another, all of what these lungs, this heart, the oxygen in my veins and the sound of my own voice can be.