Your comments! I AM SOOOOOO SORRY!!!

Gah! I am so sorry! People have been leaving interesting and insightful comments for months, and those comments never appeared because I didn’t know people were leaving them!!

I actually thought I had turned off comments months and months ago. See, after the snarky Smartest Boy Urbanist post, I got so many comments along the lines of “Ur a bitchc*nt from hell” and “stop whining you fucking bitch” that I got fed up and wanted to deny those idiots the pleasure of thinking that I was even reading garbage. And, in addition, I really don’t see why I should pay (not very much, but it’s the principle) for a website that gathers up all the whiney man-hate in the world directed at me.

(My favorite story about this kind of crap comes from Mary Beard; she published a screen shot of one of the nastier comments, and one of her followers piped up and said “hey, I know that guy’s mum.” And so Professor Beard called the dude’s mother–turns out, he’s in high school (quelle surprise). Mum made him apologize and ask Professor Beard out to lunch. HAHAHHA. And she went. I would have done, but she’s a badass.)

So I thought I had turned off comments entirely. I didn’t love doing that since so many smart people do have comments, but I have quite a few people who email me comments instead of leaving them on the website. And of course there is always Twitter for people who need to “Actually” on me. I haven’t lacked interaction, to say the least.

Unfortunately, I only set the comments to “moderate” rather than “off.” Gah! So I went through and moderated all the backlog and the comments should be there. I will see what I can do about being more on top of comments from here on out. I’m tempted to leave them on…but we’ll see.

Again, my apologies. I would say this level of incompetence is unusual around here, but I’ve had my water pic for about a month now, and I still almost drown myself with it twice a week. So…

Male panic about exposing harassment is not about due process; it’s about losing male privilege

I’ve encountered various bits of whining on social media about Franken and about “witch hunts” and two things: for the love of god people, will you please learn to use the phrase “witch hunt” properly? No, the reckoning that some men have had to face (some; I repeat, some) over their harassment/predatory behavior at work has not created an environment where anybody accused = guilt and immediate punishment. No, this is not like McCarthyism where innuendo got you blacklisted.

There is no government commission threatening these men with jail, although it sounds like some of them should be facing charges. (A homeless dude pulls out his baloney pony on the street to take a whiz because we’re too cheap and stupid to provide toilets in public places, and cops get all over him; Louis CK and Charlie Rose do the same with their dingles at work with much less justification, apparently, and they just retire to private life with their gobs of liquid cash.)

Let’s do some deep background here: due process doesn’t come into play in employment except in environments where unions have a very, very strong hold. Americans cheered while Reagen lead the charge to destroy those, and they continue to vote for labor-hating plutocrats like Trump, so I think it’s pretty clear that Americans could care less about protecting people at work.

Thus: You can be fired if your boss simply doesn’t like you. Yeah, they may need to manufacture some “cause,” but that’s not terribly hard, especially since we’ve made American workers so poor most can’t hire private counsel to start challenging such dismissals. You can be fired if people suspect you of anything, really, and proof can be cursory, for the same reason.

You can be fired after years of excellent work because some pointy-headed Ernst and Young management consultant decides that you are superfluous.

So, yeah, I kind of think having a whole bunch of coworkers come forward to say that somebody assaulted them or exposed themselves to them merits being let go. And while it’s sad that all this happened to the various men involved here in a way that involved public shaming, they worked pretty hard to become famous and that fame and influence shielded them for years from the way it looks. The fact that it is now embarrassing is unfortunate but part of the deal with fame.

Male panic over all this has diddly to do with protecting employment or due process or anything else. It has to do with protecting male privilege. Male privilege works like white privilege. Just like supposedly nonviolent whites benefit from violent racism expressed via police and white supremacist organizations, supposedly innocent men benefit from hostile work environments. Crapping on women, from interrupting them to forcing them to look at your junk, is a way to a) alienate them from the workplace in ways their male colleagues do not experience and b) discipline them to their place in the work hierarchy. Both lead to less competition for men at work; men, as long as they avoid becoming feminized in any way themselves (“ya pussy”) enjoy status simply for not being women and thus subject to abuse. It’s a way of reinforcing the whole “We may have to let you in here, but we’re still on top” bullshit. And it works to bestow prestige on men who fear economic competition from women at work.

Men are nasty to me at work because they are scared shitless of my brains. This started in grade school. It continues today. Seriously: in my department, there are dudes that nobody can stand; dudes the rest of us wouldn’t spit on if they were on fire. One of these dudes basically ripped into me (under the guise of a “joke”) during a seminar, and I sat back and waited for my male colleagues to step up. None of them, not a single one, did. Not even men I considered friends, who had acted as mentors to me, said anything real. Not even a man in the department who was getting praised and petted and elevated for all his wonderful work on equity in the academy.

Not a single one. This had happened so many times before this instance that I can’t even count.

Now, part of this may be simply that I can generally take care of myself, but I shouldn’t have to. As I sat in that room listening to the nonresponse, I realized that absolutely all of these men were afraid. They were afraid of him; he’s the sort of dude that is pretty smart, but hasn’t done any real work in years, and people circle around him because he is mean, and somewhat clever, and they don’t want to be bested in a war of worlds because that’s how the academy measures penises.

But they were also afraid of me. Still are. There’s a reason this ass goes after me, why men like him always go after me, and there’s a reason why male bystanders–supposed allies–don’t really ever join my opposition when in reality, all that would do is shut down an asshole.

And it’s the same reason why some men are pooping their pants watching powerful men get taken down. If the meanest, most powerful man can get taken down, their maleness is not the armor it has been before, and that’s scary.

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Charles Grassley should apologize for the obvious misogyny of his comments

Most of my friends and colleagues know that I am a Iowan by birth and upbringing, and granted my age, Senator Charles Grassley has been a permanent feature of the political landscape there pretty much my entire life. My father was a politician a and my family was thus steeped in politics, at all levels–we thought about it a lot, and it’s one of the things that led me to my scholarship.

Grassley was, in my young mind, a man who had different fundamental beliefs about the world and how it worked than me and many of the people in my family. I could live with that; that sort of competition among differing visions of collective life and its largely unknowable parts were for me the very grist of politics–it’s what politics is, to no small degree, for.

But mostly, I thought Grassley was a gentleman. A sharp politician, pretty ruthless at getting what he wanted, sure, but a gentleman at heart.

The vicious way he undercut President Obama’s SCOTUS pick wasn’t cool, but I understood it. Grassley and his followers think they are saving the babies, after all, and dirty hands and all.

I admit: over the years, I’ve looked up to Grassley at various moments.

But then after the Senate’s crap tax bill, The Des Moines Register had this quote from Grassley:

“I think not having the estate tax recognizes the people that are investing,” Grassley told the Register in a story published Saturday. “As opposed to those that are just spending every darn penny they have, whether it’s on booze or women or movies.”

Now, the Register leans left. (All media leans; any editorial viewpoint has a perspective. That’s doesn’t mean you get to take the license that FoxNews and Breitbart do and just make up whatever shit they want like No-Go zones.)

The blowback on Grassley’s remarks was predictable, and he’s since come out and said the quote was taken out of context. Uh-huh. How, exactly? It’s a pretty straightforward quote. But let’s see the blithering rationale, reported in the Post, shall we?

“My point regarding the estate tax, which has been taken out of context, is that the government shouldn’t seize the fruits of someone’s lifetime of labor after they die,” he said in a statement. “The question is one of basic fairness, and working to create a tax code that doesn’t penalize frugality, saving and investment. That’s as true for family farmers who have to break up their operations to pay the IRS following the death of a loved one as it is for parents saving for their children’s college education or working families investing and saving for their retirement.”

Ok, in the real world, he could have just said something much pithier at the outset: “We believe that it’s right to reward frugality and let people leave their children what they have accumulated.”

The end.

But instead, Grassley pulled of his mask to let us know *exactly* what he thinks of women. And it’s awful. And he should apologize.

He won’t. He’ll clarify, he’ll double-down. I don’t to agree that intergenerational transfers of wealth should be exempt from taxation, but it’s not an outlandish position to take. But the “bitches and hos” assumption is. Women don’t earn. They live off men. The good ones become baby factories in return for their keep; the bad ones hang out and laugh too loudly in taverns and put out for drinks and decadent liberal Hollywood movies.

The thing is: I am sure that Senator Grassley always thought this way, to some degree. But the fact that he felt so free to vocalize it, in a newspaper that has been none-too-friendly to him, says a lot about Donald Trump and tone-setting. As I’ve written a million times here, tone-setting matters and when you have a president who relishes saying things like “grab ’em by the pussy” and a party rallying around a mall creeper, the darker parts of your attitudes get to come out for display. He knows his people will never hold him accountable, even though they should.

It’s bad for everybody, this lowering of the discourse around women in the Republican Party. I doubt it’s good for the GOP, and it’s very bad for women. I don’t think we have to police everything that everybody says, and I’m tired of the outrage machine, too, but there’s something fundamentally bad about public rhetoric that derides entire groups when it comes from the mouths of elected leaders.

All y’all Los Angeles urbanists should be listening to LA Hashtags Itself #lahashtagsherself

Dr. Brettany Shannon is one of our USC alums who is currently serving as a Bedrosian Center fellow here at USC. The Bedrosian Center has a great suite of podcasts that I have always sought to support as much as possible because Bedrosian is just full of great people.

Brettany has been doing LA Hashtags Itself for two seasons, and it is a great idea for a podcast. Here’s the description:

Los Angeles Hashtags Itself, a six-episode, limited series podcast, looking at Angeleno organizations leading trend of using digital media for urban & social development. Digital media are fast becoming the for material and social placemaking.

This past week they released my favorite episode yet: The Fug Girls. I had NO idea that Brettany and I were both fans, and now we have SO MUCH MORE to talk to about. I AM SO HERE FOR THIS.

Here is Brettany’s website. I’m a little worried that she’s stopped blogging or abandoned the site (she’s busy), but you can see a lot about her projects there.

You can find her on Twitter at @brettanyshannon.

Brettany Shannon’s Bedrosian Center write-up is here.

The bench comes back to the backyard, for awhile

One of the chapters in my book is a description of a year-long ethnography I do of a bench located in my front garden. I’ve had the bench out there for four years, through vandalism, neighbor complaints, etc…but today it went back into the backyard because some of our guests decided to start behaving like pretty bad neighbors. I don’t know what the writing is; I do know I am sick of picking up the garbage they leave.

I don’t know what the next step is. Go back to being a simple inner ring suburb homeowner, with a front garden that is for looking but not dwelling?

I am sad.

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Going up for full professor, sharing my statement and experience, in the hope it helps

I shared over Twitter last week that I got the news I was promoted to full professor. I took my time getting there; my department chair, Marlon Boarnet, told me about two years ago that I should go up, but I was nervous about my citation count and not having the book done, and putting together these cases IS SO MUCH WORK that a) I didn’t want to go to the trouble of dealing with it, nor did I want to put my colleagues through all the hassle of the case if it wasn’t going to fly. (I have good colleagues for this kind of thing; they would have told me the case wasn’t ready to go if they weren’t ready to bring it forward, as it IS a lot of work for them, too; and b) I didn’t want to risk getting turned down as even if it doesn’t mean job loss, I’m sensitive enough that a reject from the central administration would have prompted me to spend large amounts of time sulking in my bed and watching Gilmore Girls reruns and eating Ben and Jerry’s, the 21st century version of Achilles pouting in his tent. So I put it off.

Last February, Marlon, David Sloane, and Mike Nichols press-ganged me into it; David knew the the book was taking a long time, and he decided it wasn’t worth waiting for and I had done enough research, service, and teaching without that to merit the promotion. I put together the case, unwillingly. However, since Marlon and Mike (my dean of faculty) gave me such a short deadline for putting the case together, and the work coincided with putting together the special issue for JAPA, I didn’t really have time to overwork it or worry about it as much as I normally would have. I just did the best I could and sent it.

For the first time in a very long time, I trusted other people. Marlon is a very, very conscientious and diligent administrator. He wouldn’t slop together the case, and David Sloane, who is running Promotion and Tenure this year, is also unbelievably conscientious in doing service (which is why he ends up doing all the things.) Both are really good leaders.

I thought it was going to be an iffy case, so I didn’t think I’d hear until next spring, unless my dean, Jack Knott, choose not to take the case forward. Jack is also somebody I trust on these things; he won’t send over a case he doesn’t believe in.

So when Jack called on Wednesday I thought, well, that’s it. Either the Price School is in LA Times with some scandal of some sort, and it involves something I can help with…or he’s decided to tell me that this year the case is a no-go. I figured it was probably the latter as I read the LAT front to back every day, and I hadn’t seen anything.

But–nope. He was calling to say that the central administration sent word along that they, too, had approved the case. Everything is very hush-hush here; we don’t see the letters, we don’t see the departmental votes, we don’t see any committee reports. I didn’t ask any questions because I didn’t want people to feel like they were violating rules.

Thus I didn’t even know it had left the school for approval at the university level. So it was a big surprise and, honestly, a great honor. The other people who hold the rank of full professor here are among the finest scholars in urbanism: Tridib Banerjee, Dowell Myers, Gen Giuliano. Cray that I am among them.

This sort of thing must be fun for Jack, too, and David. David was the program chair and Jack was the dean who hired both Elizabeth Currid-Halkett and me as young assistant professors and then got to see us both promoted to full.

Anyway, my takeaway lesson was: believe your colleagues when they tell you it’s time, and don’t be a giant chicken.

Here is a copy of my Personal Statement to read through to help with yours. I know I sound like Braggy McBraggerson, but these personal statements are the not the time for modesty, false or real. Men don’t usually have that much trouble with these statements. Women often do. Suck it up and brag. If you need me to give you a pep talk to get yourself to brag, I will happily administer one. People may snicker about how much you’ve bragged–though most of us know the game enough to know self-promotion is part of it–but living well, i.e., getting the professional cookies you deserve, is the best revenge.

Putting the Black in Black Friday list of black-owned stores compilation

I can’t stand crowds, but I love local businesses. Last year, my student Matthew Miller (ABD, going to be job seeking soon) introduced me to Black-Owned Businesses Black Friday last year. And white people need to shop at black-owned stores, period. If we want people to do well, we have to support their endeavors. There’s no excuse because there’s lots of great prodo out there.

Towards that end, I really want support Black-owned businesses on Black Friday, but I have no intention of leaving my lair to put up with crowds. Bless y’all who go, but I just can’t handle it.

In that spirit, I have rounded up some places to visit in person, if you are an extrovert and like go to out, and some BoB online, if you, like me, plan to hide Friday.

Black Book’s List of Black-Owned Businesses in Los Angeles

Black Moms Blog’s list of all things (so many cute things)

Black to Business’ List

Fashion Bomb Daily’s list

Afrobella’s 350+ MegaList of Black-Owned Businesses (So many of the jewelry artists have beeeeeyooootiful things that would make great gifts. And if you are not already reading and gifting Tanarive Due’s books, we can’t be friends.)

Black Girl Long Hair’s 80+ List (children-owned businesses! Cookies! Popcorn! My favorite things!)

Props to Esty because they will show you All Teh Things Black creators sell on the platform. Anybody if Esty terms are good for creators? I hope so. If anybody wants to get me this or anything from SoulandSubstance, please do not hold yourself back.

I have working more on my sketching and drawing skills, and there are great Black YouTube artists who teach very, very well. And I think they get money from views and subscriptions through ads. So I will post them:

Evan Burses’ Cartoon Block

Love, Teacup, Kisses (Tatyana Vogtdigital illustrator, who signs under AVO adorbz in every way, and very gifted).

Alphonso Dunn is a fantastic art tutor, and IF MY HUSBAND IS READING THIS I WANT THIS BOOK PLEASE.

I feel like I am letting the side down a bit on YouTube, as these folks seem to be fairly well taken care of in terms of followers, so if you have some more for me to link to, please send them on.