Friday Links: The Stalin ruins Women’s Day edition

Translated Soviet Women's Day Poster from 1932

Once upon a time, I used to post Monday links. I’m bringing them back, but on Friday. Because I actually have time to think of smart posts on the weekend. Not so much on Fridays.

It is a weird week when the 60th anniversary of Stalin’s death rolls around and it’s also (almost) International Women’s Day. I guess that’s how it played out the first time around too.

1. Speaking of Stalin’s death…

Lots of cheery reading to be had. Like how half of all Russians still think he’s a swell dude. In fact, his approval ratings are soaring proving that the only good dictator is a dead dictator.

Or you could read Vicki Boykis’s take on Stalin in the Facebook era (though you may find yourself drowning yourself in chocolate after – consider yourselves warned):

how did people let Stalin happen? And the answer is, people let Stalin happen the same way that you pass by a piece of litter on the street without throwing it out, or see a car stranded on road and don’t slow down to help.

And then in a fit of optimism, she broke the cardinal rule of the internet and started arguing with the crazy. Want to know what happens when you try to tell a bunch of Stalin supporters that he was a murderer?

“That’s when I kind of knew that I had lost, because you can’t argue with crazy, but the thread went on for another two days, with people insisting I was wrong, American, hysterical, and playing fast and loose with facts. What really scares me is that I was questioned on numerous times, on where I was getting my information from, that Stalin had killed all these people….I just didn’t know how to respond, because how do you cite years of research, multiple scholars begging the Russian government to open its archives, pulling together what they could, and that they still came up with a lowball estimate of 20 million people? I don’t know how to prove I’m right to people who believe Stalin was the optimal leader for Russia with complete access to historical documentation, not to mention grandparents and great-grandparents whose lives he ruined. Just ruined, without even thinking about it.”

Like I said, lots of chocolate.

2. It’s Women’s Day – let us all bash women together

That Marissa Meyer – can’t do anything right. First she dared to come back to work after two weeks. Which, I might add, is only four weeks sooner than the US mat leave, so really. Then she refused, refused, to call herself a feminist. And when she finished pissing off the women, she turned her attention to the geeks, having the audacity to tell Yahoo staff they had to stop working from home. Good thing she’s too busy running an empire to read our opinions. (Also, why do people care so much about Marissa Meyer’s mat leave? Let’s just check back in with the kid in 18 years or so. Now that’s an opinion that matters.)

Here’s the one piece you really should read on the Meyer backlash, from Hanna Rosin, who thinks that a high-powered woman’s refusal to identify as a feminist is worth thinking about. Aside from debate over who and what is a feminist these days, it’s about our obligations to the collective vs. to ourselves.

“Think about it from a purely tactical standpoint. Mayer is exactly the kind of person feminists should want on their team. She is a young CEO in an industry dominated by men—an industry that in many people’s minds stands for the future. Unlike many extremely successful female executives, she has not sacrificed a family life; she is married and has a baby. Yet she has been treated with so much scorn…Both these cases highlight the philosophical differences between movement feminists and Mayer. Her critics believe in collective action. Mayer shouldn’t give up her maternity leave because she is setting a bad example, by teaching employers to expect unreasonable levels of commitment from working mothers. What’s good for one sister has to be good for them all. Same for remote work. Yahoo may have some specific corporate reason why calling everyone back to the office is critical at the moment, but Mayer shouldn’t do that because, again, as a strategy, it sets a bad precedent. Mayer, however, does not live in a world where collective action makes sense. She lives in a radical meritocracy, where ideas and strategies survive because they are useful, or successful, or forward thinking in some way.”

Now, what was I just saying about good old Soviet Russia…

3. More horsemeat!

If you’re still in mourning about all the IKEA meatballs you’ll never eat again, this will make you feel much better. Plus, it’s from journalist Julia Ioffe (who reported from Moscow for a few years and is now based in Washington) with a footnote to the Leningrad Siege. You can’t go wrong – “On the pleasures of horse meat

4. If life were a Libyan prison

While we’re talking food, here’s a guy who was tortured in a Libyan prison and all he wants to talk about is the cuisine. He’s like an episode of Portlandia on steroids, except it’s tragically real. But now you can wash down those meatballs with some Libyan chow.

5. The manvolution cometh

Low-hanging fruit, but come on, how could I ignore the broghurt? Boys, you need to start buying more yoghurt and spare us the agony of man-marketing. It’s time to step up.

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  1. Alex on March 8, 2013 at 3:26 pm

    Hi Lea, always a pleasure reading your posts! One small comment, Julia Ioffe is now based in Washington DC

    • Lea Zeltserman on March 8, 2013 at 7:15 pm

      Hi Alex, thanks for the kind words! And for the correction on Ioffe – I’ve updated accordingly. I had a feeling she was back in the States, based on her Twitter feed, but her website seemed to indicate otherwise.