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Ed Yong talks to health-care workers with long COVID

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dismissed by their peers, some medical professionals are re-evaluating how they've treated their own patients #
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pfctdayelise
6 days ago
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Melbourne, Australia
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That Funny Feeling

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Bo Burnham's dystopian ditty is finally on YouTube #
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pfctdayelise
6 days ago
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Melbourne, Australia
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my boss says he can’t hire me at his new company because he’s attracted to me

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This post, my boss says he can’t hire me at his new company because he’s attracted to me , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

A reader writes:

I’m a woman who works for a large company in my field, on a fairly small team. I’ve always felt like I’ve gotten along great with my (male) manager and my coworkers. It’s always been professional, no socializing outside of work, but I’ve enjoyed working for my manager.

About a month ago, my manager announced that he secured seed funding and would be striking out on his own at the end of the year to pursue an idea related to the work we do. It’s a great idea and I think he’s got a lot of potential to really make it big and, if not, the experience of working on the idea would be pretty fantastic both practically and as a resume builder. I talked it over with my husband and decided to ask my manager to meet me for coffee over lunch to find out if there was any possibility of putting my hat in to join him.

When we sat down, I broached the topic and he sighed and said he knew that’s what I wanted to talk about and he wanted to be honest with me that he couldn’t even think about taking me with him because he’s very attracted to me and has had a crush on me since we started working together. He said he knows that in a small start-up environment we’d have to work more closely together and would likely have to travel and spend time together outside of normal office work and that he doesn’t trust himself to not act on his attraction and can’t do that to his wife, even though he knows I would add a lot of value. He then went on to say that he offered a role to one of the men on my team and that that guy was going to take it. He said he wanted to be honest with me because it has nothing to do with my work. I was so shocked and blindsided that I just said “okay” and we awkwardly walked back to the office in silence.

I’m so embarrassed and I feel completely stupid that I didn’t pick up on this. He’s only ever been friendly in a professional way. He’s not leaving the company for two more months. I don’t know what to do or how to move past this in working with him and I’m really angry that this is the reason I’m missing out on this opportunity. Plus, how did I never realize this? What do I do for these next two months to work with this guy?

I just dropped an F bomb in a post yesterday and I don’t like to dilute the impact by using it again so soon … but screw this guy.

He doesn’t “trust himself” around you? As if it’s entirely up to him, and if he made an advance you’d fall delightedly into his arms bed? Despite never having shown that kind of interest in him, and being married to boot? I love how the concept of you having some agency doesn’t enter into his thinking at all. It’s all about him.

And what was his intent in sharing this with you? It’s not that he’s just a good guy trying to be transparent, because by telling you about his “crush,” now it’s out there and you have to deal with knowing. In fact, I suspect that he likes that you know, because in his head there’s now more chance of something happening between you. He could have used dozens of other reasons for not hiring you in his new venture; he chose to use the one that’s about his pants, without thinking or caring about how discomforting it might for you to hear that from your boss. Again: all about him.

And this does put you in a really crappy position. You’re supposed to be comfortable with him being your boss for another two months? And what about after that — will you be able to rely on him for references and networking without having to worry that he’ll be cooler toward you since you didn’t greet his declaration more enthusiastically? It’s an abuse of the position he’s in, and he’s fully in the wrong for putting you there.

For that reason, I’d seriously consider whether you might want to report the conversation to your current employer’s HR department. They can’t control his hiring practices at his new venture, obviously, but for now he still works there and they might have something to say about him telling an employee he manages that he’s attracted to her and can’t trust himself around her. Whether or not to do that depends on things like how good your HR team is and whether you’re up for dealing with the (hugely problematic) ways reporting can sometimes become as much your burden to carry as it is his, but know that option is there.

Meanwhile, though, you have nothing to feel embarrassed about. He’s behaved professionally up until this point; don’t blame yourself for failing to read his mind. Even if looking back now you do see signs — like if he was a little warmer toward you than others, a little more enthusiastic about talking to you — it was 100% appropriate for you to interpret that through the lens of him being your boss and to just figure he liked your work or you happened to have some natural rapport. (In fact, that’s one of the most insidious effects of this kind of thing — you think you’re getting attention for your work and later have to question whether it was your work or something else.)

But you didn’t miss anything or mess up in any way. This is all him.

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pfctdayelise
24 days ago
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wtaf
Melbourne, Australia
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The rise of the he/they: an investigation | Xtra Magazine

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Last spring, I clicked on the Instagram story of a boy who, in the interest of brevity, I’ll call an acquaintance. I hadn’t seen much from him in a while, so I was surprised to discover that, some time over the harsh Toronto winter, he’d moved overseas. I went to his profile to look for further evidence confirming this change and was confronted with another: his bio now read, simply, “he/they.”

It’s not just them. Over the past year, perhaps egged on by isolation-induced intense self-reflection, “he/they” has gained a startling ubiquity. Friends of mine who once confidently called themselves gay men expressed apprehension and uncertainty over their gender identity. Non-binary friends began experimenting with more masculine self-descriptors and talked about passing comfortably as men. The hes are certainly they-ing. And the theys? He-ing.

It’s hard to track something like this, and admittedly, my immediate circle skews extremely transgender. Still, androgyny is certainly en vogue, and there’s a noticeable uptick in feminine and gender-neutral aesthetics even among straight men. Non-binary identification is also rising. In 2021, one in four LGBTQ2S+ Americans between 13 and 26 identified as non-binary. Masculinizing mastectomies (what people usually mean when they say “top surgery”), previously marketed exclusively at “FTM” trans men, are now available for “FTX” or “FTN” non-binary patients. “Microdosing testosterone” as a method of achieving more androgynous masculinizing results has also grown in popularity. Gender-neutral pronouns no longer generate the same reactionary aplomb as they did in years past. Across the board, queers seem to be more playful and flexible with how they identify, and the pronoun “they” helps express that openness. 

Charles, 24, is a transmasculine person based in the D.C. area. Like other trans masc people I talked to, Charles leans on “he/they” to name their particular position as someone who presents as male, but doesn’t see their gender as anything akin to a cis person’s. In their words, the configuration of “he/they” indexes the dual nature of their gender—how they perceive themselves, and how they are perceived by others. “I present myself as someone who is both visibly queer and visibly Jewish… so the presumption that most cis strangers have of me is that I am a ‘man,’” they write via email. “‘He’ is what the world usually sees, but ‘they’ [is] how I internalize my gender.” 

Charles began transitioning thinking that they had to be a man, in a binary sense of the word; they’re now much more ambivalent. “The question I kept asking myself was: ‘Am I a man? What does that mean? Is manhood something that is embodied or projected?’” they say. “I came away from that inner monologue often feeling as though I was not a man, even though I had so desperately clung to that label when I first began my transition.” Charles feels they have access to and can participate in masculinity, but they choose not to—even if transitioning has made it so that strangers on the street may now see them as “male.” They’ve embraced femininity as a more authentic part of their gender identity and expression. My friend Kade, when asked about their own use of “he/they,” is even more explicit: “I actually don’t want to be perceived as a cis-passing male,” he says. Using “they” helps them with that.

I could relate to these friends’ expressions of their own gendered desires, but their ability to be so intentional with their presentation felt unlike my experience. It is often relatively easier to successfully “pass” as trans masc than as trans fem; being misrecognized as cisgender is not something I necessarily experience. My relationship with gender-neutral pronouns, and with non-binary identity generally, is more practical: rather than something I felt I was choosing with my whole chest, I saw it as more of a soft spot to land on while I figured everything else out.

When I first started to understand myself as non-binary, and then as some kind of trans woman (at least most of the time), I had a conflicted relationship with masculinity: I felt abandoned and endangered by the men in my life, and I needed to put as much distance between them and myself as possible. Other queer people, including those (like me) who have at one time identified as gay men, may feel something similar. Claiming non-binary identity seems to give people space to explore; if queerness already puts you at a distance from normative masculinity, why stop there? Switching up my pronouns helped mark that difference. And though I no longer identify with “he” at all, masculinity, in some queer sense of word, still holds appeal. I want to explore it from a safe space without losing sight of myself. “They” gives me room for that, and it seemed to for the he/theys I interviewed, too—the same way that people once used to write “trans” with an asterisk, a sign of something more to come. On this, I remembered a tweet from my friend Ty Mitchell: with the loss of the marriage equality question as an easy way to gauge a gay person’s politics, we now have to rely on “dangly earrings and Azealia Banks.” A new marker of political Otherness.

“I don’t personally feel the need to restrict anyone to identify with just one thing,” says Zach, 24, who is based in Montreal. Zach says they use any pronoun, and though it may confuse people, this simple act of refusing to be pinned down is a meaningful gesture of gender expression. “To fit in and live my life without being emotionally drained and constantly explaining myself, I’ve found a middle-ground that feels correct and safe to me at this time, even though I know that this will most likely change as I continue to evolve in this body,” he told me via email. 

Another he/they, Charlie, is even more explicit about the role of pronouns as a signifier: “He/they feels like a way for me to place myself in a cultural context—as a way to indicate that I’m privy to progressive conversations about gender,” the 26-year-old from Brooklyn said, adding that they saw it as an effort to “reckon with my masculinity.” 

These he/theys saw their pronouns as a good place to start. For others, pronouns are entirely secondary. V, a 21-year-old of South Asian descent, uses he/him pronouns and does not identify as trans. But masculinity, he says, was never available or desirable to him anyway. “Growing up, my feminine traits had people around me excluding me from masculinity as a whole even though I was always referred to as ‘he’… people [called] me a girl, coaches [made] me play with the girls’ team and people [questioned] ‘what parts I had down there.’ This disconnect between how people viewed me and the pronouns they used is why I never linked my pronouns and my identity,” V told me via email. 

This was a theme across interviews. Many queer people struggle to figure out where they fit within “masculinity” when that category had never felt available to them at all. I join the ranks of Larry Mitchell and Morgan Bassichis in being a firm believer in the potentially revolutionary power of fagginess. So, it seemed, were the he/theys I spoke to. But fagginess only goes so far on its own. As internet scholar Christopher Persaud notes, where white gay people may have some limited access to idealized gender roles premised on whiteness, queer people of colour often have no access at all. Persaud, 26, a “notoriously ambivalent he/they” based in Los Angeles, primarily identifies with Blackness and femininity—a position that puts them outside the boundaries of both normative gender and conventional notions of non-binary identity predicated on whiteness, thinness and Western-centrism. 

“There’s some value in thinking about how race structures who gets access to certain kinds of gender in the first place,” Persaud tells me by phone. “I’ve always felt that my gender experience is specifically that of, like, a femme, Black gay person. Like, that itself is my gender. Even if I wanted to lean into a particular sort of popular culture version of what non-binary ‘looks like,’ I don’t really have access to that, and it’s just not how I want to look.” 

Where race and embodiment intersect may explain some patterns in queer gender identification, they say. In their experience, anti-Blackness forecloses their engagement with normative masculinity, whether gay or straight, and so being Black has enabled them to disregard the anxieties around belonging and rejection that they see among their white peers. For that reason, among others, Persaud suggests that the politicized resentment many gays and he/theys project onto their unquestionably male counterparts may flow in part from a sense of disrupted racial belonging. 

It is hard to justify masculinity on its own merits. If non-binary identity is on the rise, then it is for good reason. Among queer and trans people, as trans masc writer Noah Zazanis suggests, there exists a contradictory desire for masculinity and to be free of it—“to be acknowledged as men” without reproducing male power over women. Manhood, wherever it is synonymous with excess, power, control and invasion, is celebrated and institutionally inscribed; yet in our day-to-day life—in self-consciously queer and feminist circles, at least—what is ultimately a structural issue has mostly fizzled out into a sense of certain bodies or identities as being inherently compromised. And while men who sleep with men have historically been somewhat cut off from the definition of what masculinity is or can be, they are still demonized as men among some queers. To be fair, this demonization is not unjustified: gay men are certainly capable of harming and violating others, and so these kinds of hard boundaries are absolutely warranted. But the reduction of masculinity to basically either having or being a dick seems to leave a lot of queer people adrift. 

It’s worth interrogating how much we gain or lose by saying simply that a “male” identity or “male” bodies are the problem, rather than the structures of male power. When there are truly no good men, then it’s perhaps no wonder that folks with feminist politics who have been coercively assigned to the category of “male” may seek refuge elsewhere. “They” helps name that refuge, hanging off the end of “he/” like a dangly earring. It is used to speak our politics for us, offering an alternative identity as a way out of the uneasy dance between a contradictory identification with and opposition to masculinity. 

Non-binary identity works as a shorthand for communicating a person’s political, aesthetic and affective relationship with normative or traditional gender. It gives folks space to claim affinity to a specifically queer way of relating to masculinity, one that is free from identification with men as a class. Whether we are moving toward or away from the category of “male,” the label “he/they” marks a disaffection with what makes conventional masculinity so dangerous. It’s an opportunity to escape the dredges of cisness and toxic masculinity that comes with it, and find a kind of masculinity that is queer, in many meanings of the word. 

But whether or not identity can do that on its own is an open question. In practice, then, it is necessary to ask: What might queer masculinity look like? 

Con is a 33-year-old trans masc non-binary person of Southeast Asian descent living in Scarborough, Ontario. He began transitioning about four years ago and has been enjoying the difficult process of unlearning the association between “queer” masculinity and toxic masculinity. 

“When I think of queer, I think anything that is the opposite of cishet-straight culture (heteronormative culture). So I think anyone who doesn’t identify with their gender assigned at birth [or] social norms have a more radical way of viewing the world…. To me all of that is queer,” Con tells me by email. “I love and hate what masculinity is. I feel good expressing myself physically as masculine but I also hate what masculinity has taught me in the past such as disregarding/gaslighting femme labour or [using] bro talk/code. My relationship with both masculinity and femininity have evolved and continue to evolve.”

This is the difficult part, much more than the simple declaration of Otherness. If we can identify what masculinity gets wrong, then we can also explore what it gets right—and how people of all genders and experiences can tap into it. 

If talking with these he/theys has revealed anything, it is that fixating on gender identity alone often stands in the way of seeing how queer people truly live and work together. If we’re going to fight for queer liberation, for economic and social equality, then femininity and masculinity are necessary attributes for all of us to share and put to use. And though I’m not a he/they, I’ve learned similar lessons about the meaning of masculinity as I’ve tried to figure out how I want to be in community with people, how I can use my body and my skills in service of queer sisterhood. The more I talk with other trans and non-binary people, the more I’m forced to confront a seemingly obvious yet elusive fact: “feminine” and “masculine” are not really opposites at all. And one’s body is not a barrier to either.

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pfctdayelise
24 days ago
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Melbourne, Australia
rocketo
25 days ago
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seattle, wa
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my employee wasn’t respectful enough after the company messed up her paycheck

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This post, my employee wasn’t respectful enough after the company messed up her paycheck , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

A reader writes:

I’m not comfortable with one of my new staff members and how overconfident she is. Her work is great and she needed very little training but she’s got very big britches.

“Jane” has only been with us for two months. Just today she asked for a meeting with me and our payroll manager. It turns out payroll made an error entering her direct deposit information that resulted in Jane not getting paid, not once but two times.

Our company requires potential candidates to complete sample assignments during the interview process and we pay them an hourly contractor rate. It turns out she didn’t get paid for her assignment period, or for the next full pay cycle. The payroll employee apologized directly to Jane in an email, because it was their error in entering her information and not following up/fixing it that resulted in Jane not getting paid. Jane was able to show emails back and forth where she checked in with the payroll employee and asked if it was fixed, which they confirmed it was. Today was payday and Jane didn’t get paid. She checked with the employee again and they acknowledged that they “thought” it was fixed. It’s upsetting for Jane, I understand, but I think she was out of line about the whole thing. People make mistakes.

Neither payroll nor I knew anything about it until today. We both apologized and assured her the issue would be handled. After that, she looked at me and the payroll manager and said, “I appreciate your apology, but I need you both to understand that this can’t happen again. This has put me under financial strain and I can’t continue to work for COMPANY if this isn’t corrected today.”

The payroll manager was heavily in agreement, but I was speechless that she’d speak to management like that.

Payroll handled the whole thing and cut her a check with the okay from HR. Jane had referenced that not being paid put her in financial hardship and unable to pay bills, so HR allowed the use of the employee hardship fund and gave her $500 in gift cards so she can get groceries and gas and catch up on bills. I’m just kind of floored that she’s getting gift cards after speaking to her superiors like that. I’m also uncomfortable because why is our company responsible for her fiscal irresponsibility? Her personal finances or debts are not the company’s responsibility. I just don’t think it’s the company’s responsibility to give her more than what she’s earned (the extra $500 from the employee emergency relief fund) to fix things for her if she overspent or didn’t prioritize her bills or save smartly. We also don’t know if she is actually experiencing a financial hardship or just claiming she was.

HR allowed her paid time to go to the bank today and deposit her check. I told our HR person that while it’s not okay Jane didn’t get paid, the way she approached it was uncalled for. HR told me, “She’s right, it can’t happen again and it shouldn’t have happened at all.”

I’m getting tired of the respect gap I’m seeing with younger staff. I think Jane would be better suited in a different department. I’m not comfortable having her on my team since it’s obvious she doesn’t understand she’s entry-level and not in charge. Should I wait a while before suggesting she transfer to a different department?

I’m going to say this bluntly: you are very, very wrong about this situation, both as a manager and as a human.

Your company didn’t pay Jane money they owed her in the timeframe in which they were legally obligated to pay it. They did this twice.

Your company messed up, and their mistake impacted someone’s income. That’s a very big deal.

The payroll department handled this exactly as they should: they apologized, cut her a check immediately, and helped repair the damage their mistake had caused. Jane shouldn’t have to suffer for their error, and their remedies were appropriate and warranted.

Your objection to this because the company shouldn’t be responsible for Jane’s finances is nonsensical. Your company is responsible for paying the wages they’ve agreed to pay in the timeline they’ve agreed to pay them in. They didn’t meet that obligation, and so they fixed it. That’s not about them being responsible for Jane’s debts; it’s about them being responsible for adhering to a legal wage agreement and treating an employee well after failing at a basic responsibility and causing that person hardship.

Suggesting that someone who needs the paycheck they earned to be delivered to them on time “didn’t prioritize her bills or save smartly” is wildly out of touch with the reality of many people’s finances in this country and how many people live paycheck to paycheck (particularly someone entry-level who just started a job two months ago and may have been unemployed before that). But frankly, even if Jane didn’t save smartly, it’s irrelevant; your company’s mistake is what caused the problem, and it’s what’s at issue here.

Your speculation that Jane might be lying about her financial situation is bizarre and reflects poorly on you. It’s irrelevant and you don’t seem to have any reason for wondering that other than an apparent desire to cast Jane in a bad light.

You’re absolutely right that there’s a respect gap in this situation — but it’s from you toward your employees, not from Jane toward her employer.

There’s nothing disrespectful about Jane advocating for herself and explaining that she’d be unable to stay in the job if the payroll mistakes weren’t corrected. She gets to make that choice for herself, it’s not an unreasonable one, and it’s not disrespectful for her to spell it out. In fact, I’d argue it’s actively respectful since respect requires clear, polite, direct communication and she gave you that.

When you say Jane doesn’t seem to understand she’s entry-level and not in charge … Jane is very much in charge of where she’s willing to work and what she will and won’t tolerate. Every employee is, regardless of how junior or senior they might be.

Corporate power structures require deference in things like decision-making on a project, but not the sort of obeisance in all things that you seem to be looking for.

Somewhere along the way, you picked up a very warped idea of what employees owe their employers, but you don’t seem to have thought much about what employers owe their employees. You urgently need to do some rethinking and recalibration if you’re going to continue managing people.

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pfctdayelise
50 days ago
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Jane sounds like a boss...in the good way, not the OP way.
Melbourne, Australia
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1 public comment
deezil
50 days ago
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Just go read the comments for the absolute dragging this boss got for the letter.
Louisville, Kentucky
angelchrys
50 days ago
Oh, I can't wait

The story behind Mariah Carey’s secret ’90s alt-rock album

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the label killed the idea of releasing anything that could compromise her pop star image #
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pfctdayelise
50 days ago
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kinda awesome
Melbourne, Australia
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