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TWIF Vol. 52

1. Twitter Bans Racist Abuser In Defense of Leslie Jones.

It’s a sad truth that even as a woman at the top of her field, Leslie Jones can’t escape the racist, misogynistic trolls who live on the Internet. If anything, her success has made her all the more vulnerable to these online predators. With the release of the new, female-led Ghostbusters film this week--which has garnered some interesting, potentially gendered feedback--Jones, a celebrity brave enough to maintain a strong social media presence, has suffered harassment and abuse on Twitter from some of the world’s most disturbing bigots with an even more disturbing amount of free time on their grubby little hands. One of the most prominent offenders is conservative columnist Milo Yiannopoulos--AKA the lovechild of Tim Gunn’s evil twin, Governor Mike Pence, and this badger--who has officially been banned from Twitter because of his ongoing racist harassment carried out against Jones. And while this was a necessary move on Twitter’s behalf, it took a little too long for them to dole out any punishment, and they’re now under fire for their methods of protecting users (or lack thereof). Until they get that fixed and the haters are silenced, we’ll be over here just spreadin’ the #LoveForLeslieJ.

2. Miss America To Feature First Openly Gay Contestant.

You may recall a certain #GiveElsaAGirlfriend hashtag from a couple months ago that inspired a Thinxpiece from one of our own, asking Disney to increase femme visibility (“introduce” femme visibility is probably more accurate considering how there is, like, none as of now) by writing in a female love interest for the Frozen 2 lead character, a queen who wears dresses and has long hair. And while we haven’t heard back from Walt just yet, some good news this week warmed our little queer hearts: this year’s Miss America pageant will officially feature its first openly gay contestant, Erin O’Flaherty of Missouri. Her philanthropic focus is on suicide prevention, highlighting how LGBT+ youth are far more likely than their peers to experience thoughts of suicide and to die from it. And yes, Miss Missouri does all this in a dress.

3. Melania Trump Plagiarizes, Husband Still More Evil.

When you hear the mass media suggesting that Melania Trump’s speech from this week at the RNC (Republican National Crisis) “may have” “been inspired” by a “certain first lady” “Michelle Obama,” don’t believe them. The truth is that Ms. Trump’s speech is *direct plagiarism* with lines lifted straight out of Michelle’s 2008 DNC speech in support of her husband during his campaign. In response, there has been considerable public contemplation about how eerily familiar it is to see a white person piggy-backing off of a black person’s achievements--i.e. taking credit for black language, dances, music, and any number of other cultural contributions (yes, we’re talking to you, Steve King). And while that is a critically important conversation to be had, Melania didn’t write the speech, and in times like these, it’s ludicrous to heap all our criticism at her, forgetting about her evil husband. Plus, it appears that the Trampaign (Trump campaign? No?) is trekking right along without really addressing this controversy. Read more of our thoughts on why the coverage needs to maintain balance here.

4. Playboy Model Body-Shames Unsuspecting Gym Patron.

As if we needed any more reason to skip the gym this week, people like Playboy model Dani Mathers are clearly hell-bent on shaming us into shape (or just into a closet). At the gym this week, Mathers illegally photographed a naked woman in the changing room and posted it to her public snapchat with the caption, “If I can’t unsee this then you can’t either,” implying disgust with a random woman’s body. This is one of those moments, Dani, where you go ahead and take several seats. Not only is this behavior just totally middle-school-maturity-level mean, but it highlights an insidious truth about internalized misogyny and the way women are socialized to treat one another. Instead of appreciating that this woman, though imperfect, is healthy and treating herself right by getting some exercise, Dani chose to engage in the cultural act of body-shaming that has permeated the minds of women and convinced us that we are beholden to an impossible standard of beauty for which none of us will ever truly qualify. If the curvy, lumpy, beautiful stranger is reading this right now: you are an inspiration to the rest of us humans. Keep lovin’ yourself (you, too, Dani Mathers).

5. Remembering Qandeel Baloch.

Qandeel Baloch was a Pakistani woman who challenged gender norms in her home country by making herself famous on social media. She was provocative and unique, and engaged in behaviors that, in the U.S., are generally just par for the course. She was fun-loving, she was self-serving, and she was incredibly subversive. She was murdered this week by her brother, in what is suspected to be an "honor killing" spurred by some of her posts to unregulated social media platforms, one of which included selfies with a Muslim cleric. Qandeel was unapologetically herself in a world where doing so was dangerous enough to get her killed. As of now, her brother has been arrested, after initially evading police custody. It is still so impossibly dangerous to live in this world as a woman who decides to live for herself, independent of societal norms and stipulations. We may rarely have highly publicized stories of gender-based honor killings in the U.S. as they do in other parts of the world, but every time we pardon domestic violence--every time we pardon the Brock Turners, every time we pardon the Donalds and the Milos, the Bill Cosbys and the Woody Allens--we are fanning the flames of our own brand of honor killing. And whether it’s the murder of a life or the murder of a soul, the violence haunts us in every corner of the globe. We still have a lot of work to do on the path to giving womanhood its freedom back, but we’re prepared to do it. This one's for you, Qandeel.

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