We Need to Talk-About Science

One might argue that science is enjoying a bit of an upswing in terms of pop culture. Science fiction movies are in at the moment, documentaries about actual scientists are also box office hits, Bill Nye is a household name, and there’s The Big Bang Theory on television (Not a fan.  Don’t have cable.  Also it’s painful to watch other people think Asperger’s is funny.)

So maybe it’s cool to be a scientist- at least in some abstract, aren’t nerds cute kind of way.  But what about science itself?  I’m sorry to say science is not sexy.  The plodding work involved in the scientific method is not glamorous. Lab work is downright tedious.  And that whole thing about having to replicate scientific results—how boring.

But we don’t all have to be scientists to appreciate what science brings to us ordinary humans—a way of understanding the world around us.  A way of possibly even improving the world around us.  This is not new, right?  From the polio vaccine to Tang to solar panels, science brings us new technology that improves the life of everyone. But we also have to have the wisdom to use what we are given.

My own personal favorite celebrity scientist, Neil deGrasse Tyson, embraces pop science, saying it gives him a vehicle to communicate to a larger audience.  He urges scientists to learn to communicate better, to reach people who may have other things on their minds than the physics of Star Trek. “You testify to Congress and you say they don’t get it there’s something wrong with them. Noooooo. There’s something missing in your lexicon because everybody else is fluent here.”

Well, it’s past time for learning to talk about science. We have completely failed at imparting even a rudimentary standard of scientific knowledge on the general public.  I see no other possible conclusion when the incoming Trump administration is riddled with anti-science buffoons.  This goes well beyond a Republican tendency to prioritize short term economy building over long term environmental consequences.  We have an incoming administration of anti-vax climate change deniers, and I’m scared.

Let’s take global warming.  On record as rejecting the overwhelming scientific evidence for human-created temperature increases, we have, based on my 4 minutes of research, Pence, Pruitt, Perry, Carson, Mulvaney, and Sessions.  So much for the 97% scientific consensus.  We’re screwed.

I’m not really sure how we got here.  Was it Oprah?  Was it Oprah giving platforms to anti-vax hot bod turned concerned mom Jenny McCarthy and Dr. (there really is nothing behind the curtain but I’m pretty and I have an MD) Oz? Was it evangelical-fueled anti-intellectualism insisting God and Einstein couldn’t both be right? Was it the dumbing- down of America that began once we won the space race? Reagan-era materialism over knowledge?

Is it just our own self-centered natures, unwillingness to embrace unfortunate truths, the stubborn human trait of lack of foresight?  Are we all like Donald Trump who complained that those irritating scientists were threatening to take away his hairspray? “So if I take hairspray and I spray it in my apartment, which is all sealed, you’re telling me that affects the ozone layer?…I say no way, folks. No way. No way.” If only Donald Trump’s apartment were a closed system. I’d be the first to encourage him to use all the hair spray he wants.

But none of us live in a closed system.  We’re all in it together.  Well, you people who live in Miami are going first, but the rest of us could very well suffer real consequences if scientific policies backslide over the next four years.  I wish I had some sage advice as to how to temper the impending apocalypse, but all I can say is stay angry, and stay vigilant.  And help us, Neil deGrasse Tyson, you’re our only hope.

 

 

 

When Trump is Your President

Close elections are tough.  Close elections where the majority of people who voted actually lost are brutal.  If you are like me and in the majority, you’re upset right now.  I understand.  You feel personally betrayed by every neighbor, friend, colleague, and relative who voted Donald Trump. You blame the media.  You blame the DNC.  You blame the RNC.  You blame third party voters.  You blame Bernie Sanders.  You blame Hillary Clinton.  You blame your racist uncle.  I’m with you.  You are genuinely fearful of a new era of discrimination against people based on their gender, their race, their religion, who they love, or where they pee.  I think your fear is justified.  You lay awake thinking about the nuclear codes in the hands of a man with the emotional maturity of a four year old.  A period of mourning is appropriate.  But let’s not be paralyzed by the apocalypse before it happens.

Look, I’m not here to tell you that everything is going to be ok.  I’m not going to say it doesn’t matter who is president because that’s not true.  Besides it’s nihilistic.  The first order of the day is to fight back the existential dread of the dawn.  Some of us do this every day anyway, but if you’re new, I’ll give you a minute to catch up.  I’ll even wait until you finish that bottle of tequila.

I’m certainly not going to tell you it will be ok because you are a good person, and God is in control, and you are in his favor, and everything happens for a reason.  That’s nihilism too.  Dressed up like a big red poppy. If you are a person of faith, I hope your faith gives you enough strength to accept the hard truth that religion is, by design, the institutionalization of complacency.  If it guides you to action, great.  If you give away your personal responsibility to a higher power, then get out of my God Damn way.

It is perfectly ok to throw one hell of a tantrum.  Scream, curse, drink, smoke, run, cry.  You’ve got about 3 months to do it.

But you may not spend the next four years prostrate at the grave of your dreams.  I guarantee you Hillary Clinton won’t be.

You may not renounce your citizenship.  How dare you?  The democratic process is not over because you got an I VOTED sticker.   You don’t get to stop being an American because your candidate didn’t win.

And let’s just stop right here for a moment with the jokes about how we won’t need a wall because immigrants won’t come here under a Donald Trump presidency.  It’s not funny to imply that watching your children die of starvation due to US trade policy is somehow a worse fate than a Donald Trump Presidency.  It’s not.  It’s not worse than living in a dictatorship either.  The fact that you do live in a democracy is a privilege most people don’t have. So get a grip.  You have duties.

And don’t say Trump is not your president.  Because by doing that, you absolve him of accountability.  It is only because he is your president that you have the opportunity to hold him accountable.  And he must be held accountable for each and everything he does from here on out.  Held accountable by you.

You don’t have the luxury of saying there is nothing more you can do.  Do you know who your senators and congressional representatives are?  They are your allies, no matter who elected them.  They do represent you if you voted for them or not.  Do you know their email addresses?  Their phone numbers?  Do they know you by name?  If not, then you have plenty of work to do.  You must demand that they mitigate the Tump presidency.  That’s your job.

Everyone mourns at their own pace.  Take some time.  But then pick yourself up and pull yourself together.  Be an American.

What Happens When The Polls Close: A Poll Worker Reveals All

It was my intention to write a blog today about what it’s like to be a poll worker after the polls close and all the votes have to be counted.  In light of the unexpected Trump win, however, some of you might rather just go watch cat videos in your pajamas with a bottle of tequila, and if this is the case, you have my permission to do so.  Take care of you.

In my state, the polls closed at 7:00 pm.  It was immediately called as a Trump win.  Since my state is neither any shade of purple nor a swing state, the rest of the country gave no more thought to the ballots cast here.  However, rest assured each and every ballot is counted here just like everywhere else.  I’ve worked with a few different election commissions, and every one of them takes this job very seriously. I’ve encountered a few frustrations, usually in the form of less than up to date technology, but everyone I have encountered during this process has been professional.

I also consider myself a professional.  I’ve received training, and I am paid for the work I do.  I hope all my friends that keep thanking me for my volunteerism are not disappointed, but the truth is being involved in the polls at any level means putting aside your personal preferences in favor of the integrity of the process, and this requires a bit more from you than just being an enthusiastic volunteer.  After all, I have put myself in a position where I can go to jail for fraud.  They like to have your social security number in that type of situation.

My job begins when the polls close, and it begins by waiting.  Even though the polls close at 7:00, everyone who is still in line gets to vote, and all ballots have to be accounted for before everything is put in a big locked box and escorted to a central location by state prisoners accompanied by armed guards.  I find this somewhat ironic, and I always wonder if any of the people transporting ballots have been denied the right to vote.

The boxes (there are 50 of them) didn’t really start arriving until about 8:30 at which point, Trump had already taken the lead in made-up media world. The last box didn’t show up until almost 11:00.

The boxes are then opened and every ballot, including affidavits and absentee ballots for that district, is accounted for.  A little black box with electronic data on it is carried off to a secret room where most of the votes are tabulated.

But each box also has a number of paper ballots, each in its own sealed envelope.  These are absentee ballots and early voting ballots.  My state has very limited early voting for people who are over 65 or meet other specific criteria.  Still, in our county that amounted to 6000 sealed envelopes.  Do you know how long it takes to open 6000 sealed envelopes?  Hours and hours. It turns out, there is a machine for this.  A letter-opening machine.  But we only have one of those, and sometimes it slices the ballot into strips.  Most of these ballots go through a scantron machine, but the machine cannot read them all. About 20% require human eyes.  That’s where I come in.

I am a member of what’s called the Resolution Committee.  If your ballot cannot be read by a machine for any reason, it comes to us and we do our very best to create a new ballot that reflects your intentions.  The new ballot is marked with a code that links it to your old ballot which is kept in another locked box, and then it gets fed back through the machine.  Some ballots are printed out on regular paper and are simply the wrong size to go through the machine.  Others are creased from being folded to fit into the envelope.  An accidental smudge (or the 4 people who wrote their names on their ballots) or a small tear can also throw the machine off.

Then there are the people who just cannot or will not fill in a bubble.  I do not know who you people are.  But for those of you who circled your favorite candidates, or marked them with a check or an x or a smiley face, your vote was counted.

Then there are the write-in candidates.  My state does not recognize write-ins unless someone dies, but there is a space that says write-in, and some people insist on using it. To be fair, this is pretty confusing, and I think there should be big signs that explain this or something, but there are not.

So if you wrote in anyone, your vote did not get counted although we recreated the rest of your ballot if you made an actual choice for another race.  I do not know who you think you are going to amuse by writing in Mickey Mouse.  Who do you think sees that?  I will tell you. Me.  Just me. Or another committee member. At 1:00 in the morning.  We do not think you are funny. And if you wrote in Bernie Sanders, your ballot was treated exactly the same way as Mickey’s.  I hope you feel good about yourself.

The most common user error was selecting multiple candidates for one office.  I don’t know what you people are trying to pull.  Is this supposed to be some kind of political statement?  It is not.  It is paperwork paid for by your tax dollars.

In partisan elections, there are 2 committees, one for each party.  So during the primaries, I handled only democratic ballots.  During the general election, there is no party affiliation attached to your ballot in this state, so we just merge into one big committee.

This means that while you were yelling obscenities at the TV and texting your ex who you just know voted third party, I was actually watching the results come in sitting at a table with members of the Republican Party.  For almost 7 hours.

A certain amount of professionalism is expected and maintained.  This is not the time or the place to talk politics.  Still, 7 hours, most of which is spent waiting for other people to open envelopes, is a really long time, and there is only so much time you can spend discussing Rebel Football. For me, this is approximately 7 minutes.

I will be honest.  I thought these people were monsters.  I cannot think of one excusable reason to vote for Donald Trump.  Not one.  Not because you are pro-life, not because you are anti-immigration, not because you want a conservative supreme court.  There is nothing NOTHING that justifies the support of a racist, misogynist bigot like Donald Trump.  My months of incredibly amateur research on the Trump phenomenon yielded no answer other than the fact that his supporters hate everyone different from themselves.  Themselves being white male supremacists.

Well, they looked like normal people.

Ok, well really they looked like well to do former Greek Society members.  And they were. But as the night wore on, and state after state turned red on the big map in the front of the room, I discovered something interesting.

While cheering every time your candidate got an electoral vote would be considered in poor taste, you might expect at least someone in the room to be feeling celebratory even if gloating was kept to a minimum.  But they weren’t celebrating.  Not even a little bit.  In fact, they considered the entire election to be one big shit show controlled by the media which was unlikely to result in anyone being completely satisfied.  They are not wrong.

I waited for someone to slip up and show their true colors, to say something racist or homophobic or misogynistic, but no one ever did.  The closest the conversation came to that was speculation over whether Hillary and Bill had an arrangement that included both of them taking on female lovers (this was after the coffee ran out), with a bipartisan consensus that this was entirely their business and theirs alone.

They seemed just as worried about the next four years as I am, and worried about many of the same things.  They worried about having enough money to leave something to their children, about being able to afford medical care, about global warming.

I’m not at all sure what to take away from this. I still think a vote for Trump was an irredeemable heinous act.  But while we shared the last snickers bar at 2 am, the Republican contingent seemed just as bewildered as I felt.  As to why they voted for Trump, I really don’t know, but my sense was that it is because they are Republicans.  And that’s what Republicans in red states do.  That doesn’t seem like anything close to a good enough reason.  There is plenty of blame to go around.  At this particular moment, I am blaming those of you who would not consider backing Bernie because you thought an establishment candidate would do better against an anti-establishment candidate, but we are not going to ever learn anything from this election by declaring the winners monsters.  I’m going to need some time to work on that.

votevote

Grab is the Four Letter Word

I suppose it is not really shocking that there are going to be some people who stand by their man, in this case Donald Trump, no matter what.  Which isn’t to say that pussygate hasn’t sent a few decent Republicans running for the hills.  Finally. Really, McCain?  You could have jumped ship long before now.  Still, it’s interesting if not downright entertaining to witness just how someone goes about defending video evidence of Trump claiming to grab women by the privates without their consent.

The first tactic, that it was just locker room talk, is pretty weak, and puts the defenders in an awkward position.  Either all men talk like this, in which case all men are horrible, or only Trump talks like this which makes him horrible all by himself. You tell me which scenario plays out better for the GOP. Awkward.

It’s ludicrous, but it’s a thin veil for a disturbing truth.  A good number of people out there really seem to think that the choice of language is what’s at issue here.  That it’s the word, “pussy,” which is offensive.  What’s more relatable, after all, than saying something you wish you hadn’t said in language more colorful than you’d want your grandmother to hear?  We’ve all done it, at one time or another.  For me, this usually involves me dropping something heavy on my foot in front of my children.  Surprisingly enough, they seem to be pretty well versed in alternative speech choices.

I am flabbergasted I need to explain this to people, but no, it is not the word “pussy,” it’s the word “grab.”  And that word is as dirty as they come.  It implies an impulsive thoughtlessness, the way you might grab something to eat instead of having a gourmet meal.  And it’s not something you do to another person after asking permission.  If your preferred line is “Mind if I grab your ass?”  I’m guessing you’re not getting very far. But thanks for asking.  That’s more than Trump did.

And I have a word or two for those from the right who denounce him by expressing outrage on behalf of their mothers and daughter.  Really?  How about outrage on the behalf of humanity?  The type of empathy that only kicks in when you can imagine injustice occurring to someone close to you is exactly what’s wrong with the conservative movement to begin with.

I assume the point of trying to label Trump’s horrible comments as locker room talk, despite the fact that he was nowhere near a locker room but in public with a camera pointed in his face, is to characterize it as all bluster.  Men Talk.  That doesn’t mean they Do.  That there is mounting evidence that Trump has Done plenty is being categorically dismissed, as women often are when they complain about men and their tiny grabby hands.

If this wasn’t bad enough, I’ve seen a new tactic circulate over the past few days.  Have you seen the memes?  Beyonce and Miley Cyrus are favorite targets, but there are pictures of any number of powerful ladies performing on stage grabbing their own crotches.  Now to be honest, I’ve always thought this to be a might unseemly, but no one has ever accused me of lady-like behavior, so whatever.  That’s quite beside the point.   These memes are apparently designed to get you to not vote for Hillary Clinton. Kidding.  They are designed to  justify the continued support of a man who has time and again proven himself to be a misogynist pig.  My apology to pigs.

Let me trace the lines for you because it may not be obvious at first.  The fact that these women, who will of course all be voting for Hillary, are willing to debase themselves in such a way proves that Trump is not really a bad guy after all because…ummm…because….well they have pussies…and they are-how dare they–having pussies in public!  Therefore…umm… Trump’s comments on the grabbability of such obvious pussyness is inevitable.  Plus the universe has already gone to hell in a hand basket, and this is clearly Hillary’s fault.

Ok, I might need some help here from those of you posting this meme.  I mean do you really not understand consent at all, or do you just think it is so unimportant that you’ll ignore it to keep a woman out of the White House?  How dare you? How dare you equate bodily autonomy with sexual assault?  And you wonder why Hillary calls you deplorables?

The only thing worse than Donald Trump is his supporters, and long after he fades away into oblivion, they will be left with their pathetic fragile angry white masculinity.  And I will be here with my pussy.  And I will defeat you with every breath I have.

 

It’s the Barrel that’s Rotten: Black Lives Matter

 

I’ve been wanting to write something about the epidemic of police shootings of  black men in this country.  I’m finding it really difficult.  I’m completely overwhelmed. What do I, a middle-aged white woman, have to add to this conversation?

First I want to say I’m heart-broken, and I’m sorry.  I am heart-broken for the lives lost-the fathers, sons, brothers, lovers, friends who are gone and for those who continue on without them.  I’m sorry to all the mothers of black boys who have always known that their babies were not safe out there, that the police force could not be counted on to serve and protect their precious children.  I’m sorry.  I didn’t know.

How could this happen, we ask?  It must have been a crazy, isolated incident.  A bad apple, a misunderstanding, a fluke.  Only then it happens again.  And again.  I know it’s hard to keep track, but over 100 unarmed African Americans were killed by police in 2015. And at least 15 have been killed since Colin Kaepernick refused to stand for the National Anthem in protest less than a month ago. So you have to stand up and say, no.  It’s not a few bad apples.  The barrel is rotten. Repeated shootings of unarmed black men are caused by police culture.  It’s really that simple.  And we can do better.  We need better training, better salaries, and body cams, and we need to clean house.  We need to do it now. Men and women who are unprepared or unwilling to diffuse difficult situations need to find other occupations that do not involve firearms.  They need to do it today. And the organizations they work for need to see to it.

So what can I do?  I can support Black Lives Matter.  I can do that.  And I can call you out if you are one of those people still yelling ALL LIVES MATTER!  I can’t believe there are still STILL people out there who seem genuinely surprised that this is offensive to those of us mourning the loss of innocent souls.  I’m not sure I can get through to you.  Do you know what you sound like when you say ALL LIVES MATTER?  It’s like if I showed up at your mother’s funeral, went to the front of the church, pushed the preacher out of the way, grabbed the mike and yelled DEATH IS SAD FOR EVERYONE! That’s how bad you sound.  Just stop it.

I wonder, now that my boys are almost grown, if I did right by them by teaching them to respect police officers.  I taught them that these were people that put their lives on the line every day to help us.  That they were heroes just for putting on the uniform.  I believed it.  And all of my interactions with police officers (and as a boring middle-aged white women, there haven’t been that many) have been professional exchanges. Pleasant even, to the extent that getting a speeding ticket can be pleasant.  All of them except one.

It’s been almost a year now, and it still bothers me.  I think mostly it bothers me that I didn’t report it.  I wish I had. It was around 10:30 at night, and I was driving my son home after a concert.  I was on a well-travelled but poorly lit road, and I hit a roadblock.  There were a couple of cars in front of me, and I waited patiently for my turn to be cleared of whatever.  I left my high beams on. Look, I am really sorry I left my high beams on.  I forgot I had them on.  I can see how that would be annoying to someone conducting a roadblock.  When I reached the stop, a short, blond man in uniform approached my car.  He took his super Krypton powered flashlight and shone it directly in my eyes.  

“Does the light hurt your eyes?” he asked?

“Yes,” I yelped, trying to shield my face.

“Well, now you know how it feels,” he said pointing to my lights and waving me through.

“Oh my God,” said my son.  “What an asshole.”

So thank you Rankin County Police Department for preparing my son  to deal with men in blue in the real world. Next time one of his friends calls you pigs, he probably won’t defend you like I had taught him to.

This man purposefully inflicted actual pain on me because I annoyed him.  I was temporarily blinded, but I drove off anyway, which was potentially dangerous.  Is this the man you want holding a gun on an unarmed black man when things get tense?  Is it?  Do you think this was the first or the last time he used his power to ruin someone’s evening because he could?  To say he acted unprofessionally is not good enough.  Because I am willing to bet money that his colleagues and his superiors are well aware of just what kind of man he is. This was not some sociopath skillfully preying on unsuspecting motorists while his superiors were none the wiser, this was a man who is clearly and publicly ill equipped to handle the badge. It is the responsibility of our police departments to not hand people like this guns. We must hold them accountable.

 

Thanksgiving: The Macaroni Holiday

 

If it is fall where you are, goody for you.  It is still ninety something every day here in the Deep South.  Well last month it was one hundred and something, so I suppose those Starbucks pumpkin-spice lattes are justified.  Kidding.  Starbucks pumpkin-spiced lattes are never justified.  Still, it is only 65 days until my favorite holiday.  The countdown starts today.

I could go into some earnest tirade about the farce of the first Thanksgiving or delve more deeply into the childhood trauma when all the boys were pilgrims and all the girls were Indians, and the Indians got to serve the meal.  Seriously, what were you thinking?  But I don’t feel like talking about that today.

What I want to talk about is traditional Thanksgiving Food! The weird thing about Thanksgiving is no matter how much you may or may not like your family, you are pretty much stuck with them for this one.  So how do you know how other people celebrate?  I’ve eaten turkey off the same table cloth for like 45 years now.

Back when I was married, I did attend a few with my husband until I finally decided they were just doing it wrong, and I’d let them ruin Christmas instead.  It really wasn’t all that different in terms of food.  The China was better but you weren’t allowed to actually let your utensils touch the plate lest you scratch it.  By better I mean not Corelle.  It was really the this-is-the-one-opportunity-you-have-per-year-to-demonstrate-your-femininity-through-perfect-piecrust-and-well-behaved-children vibe that got to me.  Also they dismissed my suggestion for sweet potato pie as “well, that would be ethnic, wouldn’t it?” And I failed at ice cube duty and had to watch football with the men.

My family does pie just fine although one might accuse of us putting quantity over quality some years.  Of course one pie per person is not too much.  You don’t want to cook on Black Friday do you?  There is also the yearly retelling of that time my brother set the table cloth on fire by sticking a used match back in the box.  I swear that gets funnier every year.   And it’s even better knowing that if this had happened in my ex’s household, there would be much wringing of hands, blame games, and numerous dips into the female family members’ rather large stash of Prozac.  Oh.  Yes.   I knew.

I realize not everyone celebrates the same way.  But still, the typical spread of turkey and sweet potatoes and cornbread unites us as Americans. Celebration of gluttony is a universal, right? Or so I thought until I came across this image:

t-day

Today I learned that I am black.  Except hang on, what is that?  Is that…..macaroni and cheese?  The hell you say. Hang on a second.  I have to make a phone call.

Do you eat macaroni and cheese on Thanksgiving?

Yeah.  Don’t you?

I have to call my mother.

Mom!  Mom!  Did you know black people eat macaroni and cheese on Thanksgiving?

No.  But that sounds like a great idea!  Are you bringing someone?

Now, you may be laughing at me but I’m not the only one who didn’t know this.  Pat Robertson didn’t know either.  You gotta watch this.  And then you can laugh at me some more.

Me and Pat Robertson.  Thanksgiving.  It brings people together.

I think the reason this tidbit of trivial information seems to produce such a strong reaction is that Pat and I figured we all ate the same stuff on Thanksgiving.  I mean that’s what tradition is, right?  Perhaps it makes us a bit uncomfortable to admit that not only do we not share our homes and traditions on Thanksgiving, we don’t do a lot of celebrating with people we think of as outsiders as all.

I figured I should google it.  Why do white people not eat macaroni and cheese on Thanksgiving?

And crowdsource says:

That is a very good question.  I believe it is a black thing.

I’m white. I have never even heard of people eating mac and cheese on Thanksgiving so it must be a black thing.

There’s nothing wrong with eating Mac and Cheese, no matter the day or race.

I’m black, and I’ve never heard of any black people eating mac n cheese on Thanksgiving.  Seriously, I would assume it’s a white thing, actually.

We should all eat mac n cheese on Thanksgiving. I f**king love mac n cheese.

You people have restored my faith in humanity.  Everyone invite someone from outside your family over for Thanksgiving.  There should be mac n cheese.

 

Burkini and the Breast: Sisters in Feminism

When I started this blog back in January, I had no idea I’d be writing so much about boobs.  In fact, believe it or not, IRL I don’t given even my own breasts that much thought unless I pop a wire or something, but here we are.  I’ve already written about imposed modesty here and why I think the Free the Nipple movement is important even if you prefer to keep your hooters covered here.  But I am not done.  Ok, today’s blog isn’t really about boobs (sorry), it’s about the Burkini.  Kudos to whomever coined my new favorite term.  The next round of coffee is on me.

If you haven’t actually seen a Burkini, here’s a picture of the beachwear for those women desiring full coverage.  Surprisingly enough they are gaining some popularity among all types of women, not just the Muslims who inspired the style.  You might want one if you are a skin cancer survivor, for example.  Also, they look really comfortable, like they might keep sand out of places you don’t want sand.

burkini

Unless you live in France.  French authorities are actually demanding that women wearing too much clothing on the beach disrobe.  Burkinis are banned.

Let’s first dispense with any pretense that this is about feminism.  Feminism is about women wearing whatever the hell they want.  So if a parade of topless women walks by demanding the right to tan their ta-tas wherever men can go topless, that is feminism.  If most women on Le Sandy Shell Beach cover body parts X, Y, and Z, but a FOREIGNER shows up covering her whole alphabet and you object, that is not feminism.  That is Islamophobia.  See the difference?

If you want to have a conversation about how women all over the world are oppressed or controlled by the societies in which they live, please be my guest.  It’s a great conversation to have, but let’s dig a little deeper than shaming women for what they choose to wear.  Let’s talk about how women in the US only make 79 cents for every dollar men make. Or about how there are so few women in American politics.  Let’s talk about that.

Modesty is not an absolute.  It’s a cultural construct.  You can say it’s about religion if you really think you can separate religion from culture in any useful way. But this means you accept a variation in religious norms. If you really believe that Christian women cover their breasts because God requires modesty, but Muslim women cover their hair only because Muslim men are sexist pigs, then just go ahead and admit to us all that you have no tolerance or understanding for other cultures or religions other than your own.  And yes, I am ashamed of you.  You should work on that.

Let’s try an empathy exercise.  You are a strong independent woman of means, and you decide to expand your horizons by traveling to the planet Stripteaze to gaze upon the rubied shores of the Double D Mountains.  Upon your arrival, you are required to remove all your clothing and walk naked through the streets in front of all the Stripteazians.  If you think this might make you uncomfortable or you wouldn’t want your mother to do it, maybe you can begin to imagine how a woman raised wearing a hijab feels when asked to uncover her head.  Naked.  That’s how she feels.  Naked and exposed.  And none of us should have to feel vulnerable about our bodies.  Whether we wear a Burkini or nothing at all.  That’s feminism.