May Links Roundup: Rock Polishing

I promise, I was not Googling “sexy stalactites”. I was innocently browsing Twitter the other day when @sbearbergman decided we all needed to be cheered up by “Do Not Fuck This Rock” discourse. Tumblr user Astolat’s picture of what seems to be a naturally occurring malachite dildo prompted a scientific thread about why the pH and temperature of the human vagina can dissolve rocks. Then it swerves into a useful and timely political example:

The good news? Biochemically speaking, you’re probably ok to put it in your butt. It’s not as acidic or salty in there, plus there’s a huuuuuge stockpile of gut microbes right upstream that can quickly repopulate the colon after spelunking is complete. However this stalactite is not flared at the base so it is the wrong shape for putting in your butt. Do not put this stalactite in your butt.

This all looks like fun and games, but I think it’s really interesting that the internet’s mistake in concluding that this stalactite is fuckable is very similar to the mistake made by the Flint water management system. Hear me out.

Central to the Flint lead poisoning crisis is that authorities only looked at & tested Flint’s water in its central treatment plant before it went out through the pipes. Not after it went through the pipes. They did not consider what would happen biochemically as it went through the pipes and metals started dissolving.

Similarly, in concluding that the stalactite is fuckable, the internet only considered the stalactite itself. Not the biochemical processes that would happen to it as it, welp, went through the pipes.

Media frequently reports that the Flint River’s water is “corrosive,” leading many to believe the river is full of industrial waste. This ain’t the case. You’d need industry to fill a river with industrial waste, and industry left decades ago. That’s why Flint’s so poor. So what IS in the water? Road salt. Plain old stupid road salt. The old Detroit-based source didn’t have salt because it came from Lake Huron which has a large, mostly rural watershed. Meanwhile the Flint River runs through a lot of towns, making it slightly salty as everything melts down in spring. And as we recall from the stalactite experience, a little salt is all it takes to get metals to dissolve…

Morals of the story: when dealing with a biological system pls consider asking a biologist, your vagina and/or city could depend on this.

If you’re not already in awe of pussy power, check out Vice’s list of “Vagina Dentata Myths from Around the World”. For example, a Russian folktale tells of:

…a beautiful young woman who is married off to a gross, old man. In order to avoid having sex with the guy, the young bride puts a fish head in her vagina so its teeth will cut him every time he tries. The husband is traumatized, she “calls him a fool for not knowing that young girls’ vaginas usually have teeth,” and she lives the rest of her life without having sex with him.

The blog When You Work at A Museum… recounted an incident in 2016 where a “Christian school” teacher asked for her high school students’ tour to avoid any artwork with sex, violence, or “pieces that glory in immorality”. As the blogger noted, that leaves out the vast majority of museum holdings:

Obviously anything with nudity is out. That shuts down much of the sculpture wing and the NeoClassical, Rococo, and Mannerist collection, which ironically includes many of the Christian paintings.

Could we show them the armor or weaponry collection? Probably not, since links directly to graphic violence.

What about a mural depicting slavery? That’s unquestionably immoral.

A follow-up post featured the satirical “Universal Never-Nude Art Museum Tour Map”.

Last night I attended an enjoyable online reading by Callum Angus from his new story collection A Natural History of Transition. He read a magical-realist piece titled “Rock Jenny” about a young woman who transitions from boy, to girl, to mountain, and beyond. It made me feel momentarily liberated from the pressure to choose a binary gender expression that would be legible to the mainstream. London-based DJ and performance artist Dahc Dermur VIII expresses a similar attitude in his “Extreme Beauty Routine” video for Vogue Magazine, demonstrating how he creates his over-the-top Goth couture looks. In his vestment-inspired, operatic gowns, Dahc has reclaimed the flamboyant majesty of the Christianity that once oppressed him.

At Jewish Currents, Jules Gill-Peterson, author of Histories of the Transgender Child, contends that “The Anti-Trans Lobby’s Real Agenda” is to redefine citizenship in cis-het white Christian terms.

Since at least the antebellum period, as historians have detailed, the racial innocence invested in the figure of the white child has served as an anchor of proper American political feeling. Statecraft and governance often invoke the hypothetical child’s welfare and protection as a justification for dismissing real people’s political demands. The politics of “protecting” the innocent white child have rationalized the disposability of entire populations, like immigrants, the descendants of enslaved people, criminals, people with disabilities, and so-called deviants. Today we are witnessing trans children’s addition to this list.

Meanwhile, in Current Affairs, journalist Noah Berlatsky (whose teenage daughter recently came out as trans) wonders “Why the Panic Over Trans Kids?” He debunks pseudo-scientific studies about “Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria” and “trans trenders” as the skewed perspectives of parents who can’t accept that their children have independent private lives. Moreover, even if peer influence and the greater visibility of trans discourse online helped some kids latch onto this identity, why is that a problem? “If we had a study showing that kids are more likely to want to be poets if they’re friends with other kids who consider themselves poets, that wouldn’t make love of poetry a dangerous plague. Even if our gender identities are affected by those around us, or the media we take in, unless you are transphobic—i.e. you think it’s bad to be trans—then [so what]?”

They might even become trans poets!

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