friday five 2.3.17

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1. on pitying melania

The #FreeMelania narrative circulating that the First Lady is trapped in an unwilling marriage is not only speculative, but also strikingly unfeminist. It is sexist for us to assume that she is under his control or lacks agency. To do so ignores the fact that she leveraged her privileged to attract the attention of a sociopathic billionaire, and subsequently helped get him elected to the highest office in the United States.

She is no victim in need of rescue; she actively defended her husband's erratic, inappropriate behavior and radical policymaking, citing "boy talk" and "strong will" in lieu of actual human decency, and she used her rare moments of public address to help construct a narrative that somehow painted him as fit for the presidency.

Refinery29 wrote a surprisingly critical piece on this, stating:

#FreeMelania is rooted in this flawed characterization of women, and obviously of one woman in particular. Maybe because she's beautiful; maybe because she's an immigrant herself; maybe because she doesn't pipe up often—but definitely because she female—it's easy to cast Melania as the undercover liberal we would prefer her to be.

A contributor at Forbes argues that #FreeMelania was to be taken as social commentary, but this risks normalizing the new administration's damaging and archaic attitudes toward women, and trivializes the fact that she was a co-conspirator in this whole, ugly rise to power.

Don't feel sorry for her because she is his wife. She doesn't need nor does she deserve your sympathy. Feel sorry for the wives of other men that have their religious and civil liberties stripped away from them because they came to this country seeking a better life for their families. Feel sorry for the daughters that are victimized by sexual predators like our president and told that they are made to feel like nothing but objects for male consumption, feel sorry for the mothers that are denied healthcare and ownership of their own bodies. But do not feel sorry for the woman that, given the choice between ethics and status, repeatedly chose the latter.

2. the end of user-friendly design

A really good take on the necessity of humanity in design and the way we interact with technology (and how adorable is Kuri omg).

3. mental models i find repeatedly useful

I think this is the key to self-improvement, and what most resolutions ignore. The trick is not to change your thinking but to reframe it. It's also an excellent exercise in conceptual blending: if you can apply the principles of theoretical physics to your everyday interactions, just think what that does for your problem-solving skills. I also like that it includes applications for several different disciplines of life—reasoning, negotiation, deciding—to help you become a more nuanced person in all of your relationships.

4. how to #stayoutraged without losing your mind

Kind of an Activism 101 for people new to activism, and/or those who feel overwhelmed by the influx of problems from our new unmitigated mess of an administration.

5. when silence is betrayal: on asian american debt to the radical king

In all of the discussions around social injustice, many of them neglect to mention intersectionality, which is so important and relevant to literally everything. It reminds us that movements are not isolated incidents, but rooted in the struggles of other marginalized groups throughout history, and it informs our perspective of the world today. It acknowledges that ultimately, we all want the same things.