via TikTok

Menstrual taboos are as old as time and found across cultures. They've been used to separate women from men physically — menstrual huts are still a thing — and socially, by creating the perception that a natural bodily function is a sign of weakness.

Even in today's world women are deemed unfit for positions of power because some men actually believe they won't be able to handle stressful situations while mensurating.

"Menstruation is an opening for attack: a mark of shame, a sign of weakness, an argument to keep women out of positions of power,' Colin Schultz writes in Popular Science.

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The White House

If you missed the Wall Street Journal op-ed this weekend that set social media discussions ablaze, here's a brief recap:

Joseph Epstein, a professor emeritus at Northwestern University, penned an opinion piece titled "Is There a Doctor in the White House? Not if You Need an M.D." that was bafflingly sexist in both its premise and its delivery. After an opening line that read, "Madame First Lady—Mrs. Biden—Jill—kiddo: a bit of advice..." he proceeded to explain how the doctorate that Dr. Jill Biden earned is not the same as having an M.D., and so she should cease using the title of "Dr."

The entire op-ed reeked of condescension (referring to a grown adult as "kiddo" is rude under any circumstances) and misogyny (imagine addressing an accomplished man in such a manner). It was also just a bizarre and cringe-inducing take overall. Epstein shared how he'd somehow fallen into a 30-year teaching job at Northwestern with just a B.A. degree, whined about the standards for doctorate degrees (which he himself does not have), complained about honorary doctorates (which he does have) and claimed that Dr. Biden using her title of doctor feels "fraudulent" and "comic," despite the fact that she literally has a doctorate in education and teaches at a university where professors with doctorates are generally referred to as "Dr."

People pounced in righteous outrage, and understandably so. Women with doctoral degrees of all kinds changed their handles to include their doctor title. Women and men alike explained why the piece was so incredibly problematic. Female former students of Epstein's shared their experiences in his classes, adding credence to the accusations of misogyny.

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Blackface has a long and shameful history in this country. We think—we hope—after numerous call-outs and emotional explanations, Americans get the message: blackface is not okay. But that isn't the case, as many were re-made painfully aware, when Dr. Regina N. Bradley, a professor and critically acclaimed writer, shared the shocking auditory version of her new essay, "Da Art of Speculatin'", on Twitter.

Due to outrageous oversight, Fireside—a progressively minded short-story magazine who claim, in their About page, to resist "the global rise of fascism and far-right populism"—hired a young, white male voice actor to read and record Bradley's essay—an essay that identifies its writer, in its very first line, as a "southern Black woman who stands in the long shadow of the Civil Rights Movement."

According to the Washington Post, Rineer spoke in an accent that listeners interpreted as something that would appear in minstrel show, an American form of entertainment developed in the early 19th century, in which white people lampooned Black people, often portraying them as dim-witted and buffoonish, with stock characters including the dandy, the slave, and the 'mammy.' It's incredibly, incredibly offensive. So it's no wonder that, upon hearing the clip, a horrified Bradley fired off an outraged tweet, asking Fireside and Rineer if they honestly thought this is what she sounded like.



How could something so offensive have been approved, one wonders, especially in a year defined by reckoning with racial injustice? For the answer, look to Pablo Defendini, the publisher and editor for Fireside, who claimed, "nothing insidious in his decision… he just didn't listen to the recording before posting it."

"The blame for this rests squarely with me, as the person who hires out and manages the audio production process at Fireside," Defendini said in a statement. "In the interest of remaining a lean operation, I've been hiring one narrator to record the audio for a whole issue's worth of Fireside Quarterly, and I don't normally break out specific stories or essays for narrating by particular individuals."

"My personal neglect allowed racist violence to be perpetrated on a Black author, which makes me not just complicit in anti-Black racism, but racist as well."

As for Rineer, he regrets not breaking a contract rule and contacting Bradley directly about her work. His gut instinct told him not to proceed—that he was the wrong person for the job. Still, upon expressing his doubts to Fireside, he was ignored, and so proceeded with the recording—he'd already signed the contract.

"I made the mistake of reading Dr. Bradley's work and assuming an accent that was not representative of her voice," he said. "I had tried to find a different narrator who would be a suitable representative in my network and via public forums, to no avail, in the week-long time frame I had."

As for Bradley, Defendini's apology isn't cutting it. "Not listening" isn't an excuse—it's deepening the wound. Black Women have been "not listened" to since the dawn of this nation's founding.

"I am angry," she wrote. "Seething from centuries of silenced Black women angry."

We probably wouldn't have The Beatles without Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly and Elvis Presley. And we wouldn't have rock and roll as we know it without The Beatles. If you agree with the school of thought that we build off the accomplishments of our predecessors, then Cecelia Payne is as rock and roll as they come.

In a Facebook post making the rounds again after the original went viral two years ago, Cecelia Payne is once again having a light shined on her accomplishments. And yet, it still doesn't seem close to what she deserves.


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