Shannon Weber, Ph.D

Author of Feminism in Minutes (Quercus Books, 2019) | Inequality researcher | Writer at The Body Is Not An Apology

News & Cultural Criticism

Anti-Trans “Feminists” Converted My Friend: Here’s Why We Can’t Stay Silent

I was scrolling through my Facebook feed one average day recently, when all of a sudden I was confronted with a post condemning the recent passage of a bill protecting the rights of transgender youth. The same bill all my other friends, primarily queer and trans, were celebrating. The post was by someone I went to graduate school with… for gender studies. I double-checked. I triple-checked. I quadruple-checked. Was this really what she was saying? Was there something I was missing? What the hec

What is the Responsibility of People with Privilege in the Face of Fascism?

If you can possibly stand it, don’t run away. I’ll say it again: don’t run. If your life’s not in danger, if you’re not the one who will be stolen away from your family and locked in a cage next, don’t run away. As much as you can, don’t look away, don’t make concessions to power, don’t excuse, don’t downplay to make yourself or others feel better. I understand that you, all the “yous” out there with relative privilege compared to those who are most under attack by the Trump regime, may well

Kidnapping, Jailing, and Abusing Immigrant Children is Body Terrorism

I live in a country where millions of people avert their gaze from or even celebrate the jailing of children, torn from their parents and often trafficked across state lines. Apparently it’s acceptable to commit human rights abuses against a population if you’ve already dehumanized them to your supporters, made an exception because as “illegal aliens”, they’re not quite the same category as you or me. And even though it’s not a new phenomenon — take the history of the US, or Nazi Germany, or Rwa

5 Things I Learned as a White Person After Visiting a Southern Plantation Dedicated to Slavery

In February, my partner and I took our first-ever trip to New Orleans, Louisiana during the city’s festive Mardi Gras season. It was an incredible experience, but the most impactful part of our visit by far was our day trip to the Whitney Plantation. Located about an hour’s drive outside New Orleans in the heart of Louisiana’s “Plantation Country,” the Whitney Plantation opened in 2014 as the only plantation in the state to center the experiences of the Black people enslaved there. As I’ve argu

Summer Is Not for Street Harassment — Regardless of Gender, Race, or Size

Ah, summer. Enduring six months of a freezing New England hellscape in order to re-enter the world of soft, swirling sand dunes and jeweled salty ocean waves. The perfume of sunscreen. Living in the city, battling the humidity as I take my dog to the park. Existing as a curvy, white, queer femme, cisgender woman. Feeling men’s eyes travel over my ass and my boobs as I walk down the street, hoping with each step they won’t initiate skin-crawling, dangerous contact. For many of us, especially in

Feeling Traumatized and Gaslit By American Gun Violence? You’re Not Alone

On Saturday, March 24th I traveled from my home in Boston to Washington, D.C. for the March for Our Lives, doing my part to support my country’s youth in stopping the devastating epidemic of mostly preventable gun violence that continues to mark the United States as an absurd outlier against every other major industrialized nation on earth. In so doing, I also fought back against the trauma I’ve developed living in a country where this constantly happens, and the gaslighting the NRA has attempte

Let’s Stop Acting as if Queers Need to Look a Certain Way to be Queer

In my city, there’s a monthly queer-women-and-company dance event called Flannel Takeover. It’s supposed to be a tongue-in-cheek reference to the visuals of being a queer woman: someone who wears lots of flannel. Line up, ladies and trans gents and non-binary folks! Grab a beer, don your snapback, aaand let’s perpetuate the lazy stereotype that queer woman equals masculine. A memory: my best friend since college, when I first visited him almost seven years ago in the city I now call home, wante

How Conservatives are Using Cis Women's Bodies to Destroy Trans Women's Lives

With very few exceptions, almost every woman and non-binary person closest to me has been a survivor of sexual violence, often committed by people in their own families. The perpetrators of these crimes have overwhelmingly been cisgender men, correlating with national data demonstrating that (cisgender) men are, by far, the gender group most likely to commit sexual violence. Fueled by the #MeToo movement, we are, as a society, finally starting to talk about our appalling rape culture and the pe

Stormy Daniels' 60 Minutes Interview Points Out Something Hugely Problematic About How Women Have Sex

“[Donald Trump] was sitting, you know, on the edge of the bed when I walked out, perched,” Stormy Daniels told Anderson Cooper Sunday night on an explosive episode of "60 Minutes," one that drew the highest ratings in 10 years as Americans tuned in to hear more about the president’s latest sexual scandal. “I realized exactly what I’d gotten myself into,” Daniels continued, “and I was like, ugh

10 Ways to Check Your Privilege With Fast Food and Other Service Workers

My brother is a service industry worker. He works at a hamburger restaurant doing all sorts of tasks, from taking orders from testy customers who want to order items that don’t exist on the menu, to cleaning up the messes people leave behind on their tables, to cleaning bathrooms and taking out garbage as swarms of flies buzz around his face. All for ten dollars an hour. Many of the ways that poor and working-class people, as well as immigrants and people of color in general, are demonized also

Why We Need Black Feminism More Than Ever Under Trump

In April 1977, members of the black feminist Combahee River Collective—named after Harriet Tubman’s 1863 raid in South Carolina to lead more than 700 enslaved people to freedom—published a document called the Combahee River Collective Statement. In this document, they made a case for understanding how racism, sexism, class oppression, and homophobia are all connected, writing, “If black women were free, it would mean that everyone else would

5 Undeniable Reasons We Need To Talk About Christian Privilege

When I was four years old, my parents moved me from Los Angeles to northern Idaho, where I would live for thirteen years—plus a year-long stint in heavily Mormon Utah during first grade—until I moved away to New England for college. During this time, I was exposed to a poor and working-class, white-dominated culture in which evangelical Christianity was the reigning religion, and anything that deviated from it was seen as shocking, suspect, and potentially evil. Living in Idaho meant I had a fr

Olympics Row Reveals White Supremacist Pagan Foothold

This week The New York Times reported that the uniforms of this year’s Norwegian Olympic Alpine ski team have caused a stir among those concerned about neonazi co-optation of Viking symbols. The Viking-themed uniforms include the runic Tyr symbol, used chiefly in a linguistic context but which also refers to an ancient Norse god of war. It’s also become a symbol used by the Nordic Resistance Movement, a neonazi organization founded in Sweden in 1997, with additional official chapters in Finland

Conservative Attacks on Obama-Era Education Guidelines Ignore How Racism Works

Betsy DeVos and company are at it again. The DeVos-led Department of Education is currently cooking up ways to get rid of the 2014 Obama-era guidelines for K-12 public school discipline, which was aimed at ameliorating discrepancies based on race, class and disability when it comes to how students are punished in school. In November, conservative think tanks Center of the American Experiment and the Fordham Institute helped coordinate a meeting at the Department of Education wherein teachers cr

Why White North Americans Need to Understand Ourselves as “Settlers”

If you’re white, this land was not made for you and me. Like many white North Americans, I grew up with a vague idea of where my ancestors came from. In my case, they were scattered across Western Europe, and I was fascinated by what their lives must have been like. But I had no real connection to what it means, culturally, to be Irish or Scottish or British or German or Norwegian. One time as a Girl Scout, my troop leader had us create a cookbook with recipes from all of our different cultura

Who Will Have the Guts to Pull Americans Out of the Wreckage of the Student Loan Crisis in 2020?

Who Will Have the Guts to Pull Americans Out of the Wreckage of the Student Loan Crisis in 2020? Donald Trump and his ally Betsy DeVos are stopping at nothing in shredding our public educational system and further perpetuating the rampant economic and education-based inequality plaguing our increasingly Dickensian society. Their latest move in attacking students is the provision in the tax bill that would tax the tuition waivers of graduate students, which for many students would increase their

President Ebenezer Scrooge: "A Christmas Carol" Offers A Valuable Lesson This Holiday Season

In 1843, Charles Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol as a critique of English poverty and class oppression, especially the appalling treatment of the low-income children he visited in “ragged schools.” However, his condemnation wasn’t limited to England: His visit to America (where he was greeted as a literary hero) inspired him to write a critical treatise titled American Notes. Prefiguring many recent political op-eds, he argued that D.C. politics were poisoned with “[d]espicable trickery at elect

Southern Plantations Should be Slave Memorials—Not Storybook Theme Parks or Trump Businesses

Southern Plantations Should be Slave Memorials—Not Storybook Theme Parks, or Trump Businesses The Trump brothers, Eric and Donald Jr., have embarked on a new business venture to open luxury hotels in Mississippi as part of an effort to cash in on the state's blues music culture. These hotels will be far removed from commercial airports or interstate highways and will be in a majority black, economically depressed area "surrounded by cotton and soybean fields," according to the Washington Post.
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Lifestyle & Mental Health

6 Reasons Being Angry Doesn’t Mean You’re Hateful: It Means You Value Your Boundaries

I’ve learned a lot of things about anger in my life. Growing up, I learned to be there for other people when they were angry, helping soothe their unruly emotions, or at least bearing witness to them, packing away my own emotions until they felt like a choking, gnawing grief I couldn’t shake. Later, in my emotionally abusive relationship, I took the feelings of guilt that had been instilled in me by my family for having my own adult life, and I channeled that guilt into taking care of my emoti

When the Gender Binary Puts A Damper on Date Night

I am a cis queer femme woman partnered with a non-binary queer person. While I enjoy so many things about our five-year relationship, including the fact that people recognize me as queer when we are out together, my babe is basically misgendered wherever they go. Even by other queer people. It’s rare for them to have a validating experience when it comes to gender, especially in a public place, where they are almost always mistaken as female. On a recent date night, we had a server who was so o

7 Things You Can Be Proud of Doing by the Time You’re 35— Even If You Didn’t Save Twice Your Yearly Salary

It’s safe to say that the vast majority of us are definitely nowhere near able to save twice our yearly salary by age 35, despite the newest out-of-touch punchline from the financial sector. As an American in my early 30s who, like most of “our” generation if you’re also American, has a negative net worth thanks to graduating post-financial crash, trying to build a career under the crappy economy, and accumulating vast student loan debt—I get it. You’re probably broke, or at least perpetually a

Self Love Isn't Easy: 10 Difficult Things I Do to Practice Radical Self Love

Self-love is crucial for surviving and thriving in an oppressive society hellbent on making us feel like we’re wrong or not enough. But precisely because of this society, cultivating self-love can be difficult. As someone who has struggled with depression and anxiety, I know how much energy it can take just to get through the day. When you’re stuck treading water, self-love can feel like an unobtainable luxury. But none of us were meant to be trapped in a constant state of self-hating inertia.

Gaslighting on the Job?: 7 Ways to Know if Your Workplace is Abusive

As I have entered my thirties, I’ve become aware of a pattern in my life: finding myself in toxic situations, strategizing to break free from them, and following my heart to move forward like the resilient goddess I am. As a working-class high schooler, I escaped a dead-end rural town I hated, moving thousands of miles away to attend a top-tier college (with, admittedly, sky-high student loan debt to match). Later I extricated myself from an emotionally abusive marriage with someone I met at tha

What It's Like to Get a Queer Divorce After Fighting for Marriage Equality

In a few words: it sucks. Breakups are horrible things, even if, as in my case, they really need to happen. And getting a divorce, with the complications of being legally entangled with someone else and having to get government institutions involved in order to start rebuilding your life, is a unique brand of horrible. But getting a divorce after being denied the right to enter into a marriage, fighting for it in high-profile ways for years while being attacked by the Right and often mocked by

10 Ways I Was More Resilient After 2017 Tried to Kill Us All

As relieved as so many of us were to close out the dumpster fire of a year that was 2016, most of us in the United States—and everyone around the world impacted by American foreign policy—also probably looked toward 2017 with trepidation. Whose lives would be destroyed by the monster just elected to office? Which communities already living on the edge of precarity would be thrown into the abyss? Would the world be annihilated by nuclear war? How quickly will the earth hurtle toward irreversible

How to Survive the Holidays in a Cross-Class Relationship

The holidays are supposed to be a time of warmth, joy, and pulling family closer. But, as so many of us know, the reality is often far messier. For those of us dating partners who come from a more privileged class background, the holidays can be awkward and even demoralizing. The good news is that none of us want the holidays to be an alienating buzzkill or a (re)traumatizing culture shock for our partner(s). With a healthy dose of humility, a touch of humor, and a lot of self-reflection and c

We Need to Stop Calling Emotional Abuse in Queer Relationships "Drama"

Teen girls are constantly stereotyped as more “emotional” than boys and prone to getting into “catfights” and “girl drama.” This sexist notion is particularly confusing for queer girls seeking to date other girls. Since our relationships are often already invisible in most conversations, it makes it even harder to navigate the dating world and figure out what types of expectations are reasonable in relationships. Such “mean girl” stereotyping also impacts how queer girls and women view ourselve

Spirituality

Meet the Woman of Color Behind the World's Most Popular Tarot Deck

Most magical folks are probably familiar with what is typically known as the Rider-Waite tarot deck, as it has become the iconic face of tarot for more than a hundred years. But did you know that the phenomenal woman of color artist and occultist Pamela Colman Smith played a prominent role in the deck’s creation as its illustrator, yet has received almost no credit throughout the deck’s history? Born in Pimlico, London in 1878 to a white American merchant father, Charles Edward Smith (son of th

Turning 20: Practical Magic Travels Through the Realm of Outsiders

Twenty years ago, Alice Hoffman's 1995 novel Practical Magic was adapted into a heartfelt film that—along with other pieces of '90s pop culture such as The Craft, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Charmed, and Teen Witch: Wicca for a New Generation—kicked the renaissance of empowered, female-driven witchcraft into high gear. And America has been enchanted ever since, with interest in witchcraft continuing to surge in recent years.

Let the Light In: 6 Ways to Use Body Magick to Heal From Trauma

No matter what type of trauma we are working to heal, it’s a fact that the effects of trauma live in the body. Many of us concerned with justice and trauma reject the Enlightenment-era thinking that our minds and our bodies are discrete components separate from one another, instead recognizing that our bodies, psyches, and spirits are holistically connected. As a witch, and a spiritual person more generally, I use the idea of body magick to practice bodily healing at an energetic, deep soul lev

Walpurgis Night Lets Witches Celebrate the Resiliency of Spring

If asked to name a holiday associated with witches, most people would immediately think of Halloween. But there is another holiday, exactly six months from October 31, that has been associated with witches for centuries: Walpurgis Night. Walpurgis Night, or Walpurgisnacht in German, has traditionally been celebrated in northern Europe and Scandinavia on the evening of April 30. It’s named for Saint Walpurga (sometimes spelled Walburga), an English 8th-century abbess—basically a nun queen. When

Curses! 11 Witchy Destinations to Visit In Salem, Massachusetts

Salem, Massachusetts is world-renowned for its infamous persecution and execution of twenty people for witchcraft in 1692-1693. What is less commonly known is that Salem, affectionately nicknamed “The Witch City” by locals, has since become a thriving haven for real-life witches, Wiccans, and neopagans. There’s even a section of town called Witchcraft Heights! With more than a million visitors every year, there are several tourist hotspots to be found, such as the Salem Witch Museum, The Witch H

Top 5 Modern-Day Mystics to Survive and Thrive in These Treacherous Times

There is much to mourn since my last piece on Patheos. We mourn the victims of the white supremacist who murdered two men trying to defend two Muslim teen girls on public transit in Portland, Oregon. One of the men killed, Taliesin Myrddin Namkai Meche, reportedly had “close ties to the Pagan world.” We mourn those killed in the Grenfell Tower fire, victims of the English government’s greed, never forgetting that the first named victim of the fire was Mohammad Al-Hajali, a 23 year-old Syrian re

Why Queer Femmes Make Incredible Witches

In the past few years there has been increased attention to the renaissance of witches and witchcraft in popular culture: witches in film, witches in fashion, and witches fighting back against the dystopian Trump regime. This resurgence has also been felt in LGBTQ communities. As a queer femme witch, I have witnessed queer femme communities becoming progressively vocal and embracing elements of witchcraft, brujería, and other magic(k)al ancestral practices. This makes a lot of sense. You could