Feminism and Intersectionality

Yesterday, I wrote about Patricia Arquette’s speech. Afterwards, I looked to see what others were saying about the subject on WordPress. (Instead of youtube comments which are just painful).

What concerns I saw most of was intersectionality.

 I thought I wrote about this at another time, but I can’t seem to find the post. Maybe I did, maybe I didn’t. Either way, I’m revisiting the conversation under the subject of her speech.

Intersectionality comes up as incorrect, but it is a word.

It’s a word that adds a whole new factor to the feminist conversation.

Intersectionality is defined by Wikipedia as “the study of intersections between forms or systems of oppression, domination, or discrimination.”

It means that you do not fit into one of the latter categories because of one piece of your being.

You can be black and be the president.

You can be a woman and have a successful business.

You can be poor and rise up to the middle class by the time you’re twenty-five.

There are success stories and those are awesome, but they typically do not contain much intersectionality.

When I hear the “I’m not a feminist because my aunt owns her own business and got it by myself,” I usually ask ‘how?’

Not in the way of it’s a statistical improbability, but in the way of what type of family did she come from? What was her educational background? What race is she? What religion does she practice? Where is she geographically located? Was she born in the United States?

These are all contributing factors to having success or to not having success. This is why you hear white guys complaining that women aren’t oppressed because she makes a lot of money and he doesn’t. Typically, intersectionality isn’t being used. (Or there’s just an assumption of needing a hand-out.)

Intersectionality also adds to the problems of defining oneself as a feminist. Typically, a person who believes in intersectionality and feminism has a hard time in those waters.

I support equal rights whether that be gender, sexuality, race, or religion.

I name myself a feminist first because I’m defined as a woman.

I have a lot more bits of myself that are in a more ‘dominant’ role. I’m white. I’m in a heterosexual relationship. I’m a Christian. I came from a family that was lower middle class (maybe even lower), but I received a good education and have graduated from college.

I’m less oppressed than I am in a dominating class.

This is where people become angry about so-called ‘first world feminism.’ Women in the United States seem to be whining when most of them have a lot more than other countries.

I’m going to talk more about comparisons in a later post, but just because you have successes doesn’t mean you shouldn’t support those who don’t.

I don’t think it’s fair that women are typically seen as more passive, a follower, in need of less money, and are shoved to caretaker jobs that are not paid well.

This doesn’t mean I do not support other causes and in many cases, I almost support them more, it’s just that I can speak for women. I can connect with other women more than I can in any other activist group because I am a woman.

Feminism gets tricky in here. This doesn’t mean all women have to be white and middle class. This is actually a problem. It’s hard to find a space if you’re a woman and don’t fit into these parameters and it sucks.

If you’re black and say you support feminism, what does that mean? Does that mean you think your rights as a person of the black community is less than your rights as a woman?

No!

What it means is that terminology is hard and our society is based on categorizing. We want somebody to define themselves as one thing. We hate intersectionality as a whole because it’s the interplay of many categories and some that cannot be seen immediately.

IT ENRAGES US.

So keep doing it.

I define myself as a feminist. But in my case, that includes equal rights entirely. I will go on a march with anybody, but I will make sure to speak up for my experiences and make sure those who do not get their voices heard are able to speak up for themselves.

Do I wish that Arquette had thrown out that intersectionality word?

Yes.

Do I understand that she was in a limited time frame and might not have had the time to do it?

Once again, yes.

There are strides that we still need to take and we should never start criticizing because there’s always more work to be done. I hope that other people see that she left out a critical part, but are also happy that she said something. Maybe it wasn’t everything, but steps in the right direction will make a change.

We can hope that another celebrity will jump on this and add more to the conversation.

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Some Awesome Things We Saw at The Oscars

I don’t typically watch The Oscars. It’s not that I don’t care nor is it because I boycotted it.

#OscarssoWhite was trending and let me tell you, I think it is important. I’m sure many have seen this around the internet as The Oscars came closer.

It’s important. It really is and I saw some of those problems come to light last night. Notably, the foreign winners who were rushed off stage much faster than the American ones. Bravo to Pawel Pawlikowski for talking through the music that tried to rush him off stage. He kept going and we were loving it.

Neil Patrick Harris didn’t quite do the best as an Oscars host, but in my experience, nobody really does. It’s hard to grab a hold of that crowd. Some of his jokes were a little off color. I thought that he brought attention to the white problem in the Oscars. Maybe he was playing it down by joking, but it’s better to call that out even if the crowd wasn’t accepting it.

Who doesn’t like a good song number? And of course, Anna.

Now, let’s get to the good stuff.

The SPEECHES!

This right here is why I’m glad I didn’t boycott the Oscars. I want to hear what these stars have to say. The Academy has serious problems and it is amazing when their recipients are giving out speeches that empower all sorts of different people.

Attention was brought to ALS, Alzheimer’s, veterans, suicide, black rights, women’s rights, and how the country treats their immigrants.

I encourage readers to watch all the videos if  you didn’t catch them. They are well worth your time and were inspiring. I would also discourage you from reading the comments. The general rule is to not read Youtube comments, but I never can help myself. I read the one for Common and John Legend’s acceptance speech and felt sad. The fact that some people still think that saying “…be happy with how far this country  has come” will appease people is beyond me. Yes, we have a black president and yes, there are successful black people doesn’t mean we are equal. It means we’re getting closer to racial equality, but if people stop fighting, there will only be steps back.

I, of course, am going to talk about Patricia Arquette’s speech, winner of best actress in a supporting role. Here’s a video clip:

The support from the audience was fantastic, most notably Meryl Streep. What I found to be puzzling was some of the shocked faces. Happy, but shocked.

It’s crazy that saying women need equal rights can be so shocking to people. The faces were not angry, they were happy. They were only surprised that this woman would dare say it.

The argument Arquette made was perfect. “To every woman who gave birth to every citizen and taxpayer of this nation, we have fought for everybody else’s equal rights.” That argument.

Right away, she slams down people who ask ‘what do women really do?’ She uses childbirth as a necessary job that women do for this country. She doesn’t argue that women work and volunteer and give back to their community (which they do), she throws out the fact that women have primary roles in childbirth and rearing. That is fantastic.

I have read the arguments against her speech and each of those would need a blog post in itself. Some I have already talked about, but most I still need to.

-The wage gap
-‘Care’ of women
-Housewifery
-Women in other countries

There are a lot more of course, but these were just some of the problems youtubers had. Unfortunately, most were complaining about ‘first world feminists’ and how they all need to die out. Once again, ignorance breeds hate. It’s unfortunate. I always wish I could argue with them, but I can’t. It’s one of those never-ending battles.

If you have any questions or would like me to comment on a specific problem the community has with feminism, please  let me know. I will not attack you, just answer with the knowledge I have.

I hope readers go and watch the other videos. They are well worth it and were beautiful. Read other blogs that focus on the discussions that those speeches started. Once again, well worth.

Off topic but go watch Lady GaGa’s performance. I was surprised and shocked at how wonderful it was.  Never knew she could actually sing.

Posters, Nerds, and Tattoos

Wall to Wall

What do you display on the walls of your home — photos, posters, artwork, nothing? How do you choose what to display? What mood are you trying to create?

Currently, nothing and I’m sure that’s bad. After living from tiny apartment to tiny apartment, I feel like posters and pictures make the space seem even smaller if that’s possible. I don’t have any children to put pictures of up and I’m not plastering the walls with pictures of me and my boyfriend. Yuck.

I did have a wonderful poster I got for Christmas from said-boyfriend. He bought it from dftba.com and it’s a quote from John Green:

“…because nerds like us are allowed to be unironically enthusiastic about stuff… Nerds are allowed to love stuff, like jump-up-and-down-in-the-chair-can’t-control-yourself love it. When people call people nerds, mostly what they’re saying is ‘you like stuff.’ Which is just not a good insult at all. Like, ‘you are too enthusiastic about the miracle of human consciousness’.”

I’m going to be honest here and say that I did copy and paste this in from Goodreads where it’s in normal black font and size. I guess you’re getting what the poster looks like! YAY?

Anyway, it was an awesome poster with John Green (whom I aspire to be) talking about how awesome nerds are. What else would I want? Unfortunately, my dog ate it two days later when he left it on the floor. Sad.

Let’s talk about what I would like for my writing room because that’s where I would most likely put up wall decorations. I would love to have a post-it note collage where I could write down my random ideas and snatches of conversation. I want my John Green poster up as well to remind me why I write. A Harry Potter one would be lovely to remember where my inspiration comes from. A big piece of my own calligraphy in Tengwar (elvish script) would also be cool.

That last one I have a small version of, I guess, but it’s cross-fandom. In Tengwar, I wrote Daenerys’s full name with all the titles. You know: “Daenerys Stormborn from the House Targaryan, mother of dragons…” and on and on and on. It was fun. I have odd hobbies and intense love for my fandoms.

I’m moving into a whole new topic but it links to a love for fandoms, so I guess it’s not new-new.

I do not have any tattoos mostly because I’m terrified of getting bored. I get bored with everything. If a book takes me more than two weeks to read, it’s discarded. I have no patience. My boyfriend has been working on the fifth Game of Thrones book for three months. I know the ending. It is painful.

And yet, I want some fandom tattoos. My body would become a showcase for all things I love. A Harry Potter quote on my ribs, a Tengwar LoTR quote wrapped around my ankle, a Buffy tribute (somewhere), a mockingjay on my shoulder blade, and maybe something to tribute Dany from Game of Thrones as well.

It’s a crazy time. I’m always looking for ideas and I’m always afraid I’ll change my mind. I used to really like Twilight and now I hate it. What if that happens with something like the Hunger Games? I really like the books and I found it inspiring, but it’s not to the point of the other books and shows I have watched.

This is my life.

Any tattoos any of you have to represent your fandom alliance? Don’t worry, I won’t steal.

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Gillian Flynn, a Feminist

**Shouldn’t contain spoilers and if there are, they are small**

For the last four days, I rushed through Sharp Objects and Dark Places unable to put either book down. Sharp Objects captured me with the twisted mother-daughter relationship and the ending that made this a psychological thriller. Dark Places did not capture my attention as well, but I still turned the pages in a rush to see how it was going to end. I read Gone Girl in June of 2013 (thanks Goodreads!) and gave it a four star, but it probably deserved five. After finishing Sharp Objects and before I read Dark Places, I started to wonder, is Gillian Flynn a feminist?

There are a few things that led me to ask this question. I wasn’t passionate about feminism when I read Gone Girl so the review I wrote on Goodreads had not a comment about it. Now,  I am. While reading Sharp Objects, the question of Flynn’s feminist stand started to nag at me. There’s this section where Camille has a conversation with Detective Richard. She asks if an eighth grade girl had sex with four high school guys, would that count as rape. He said hell, yes. The girl is underage, the boys are around fifteen (?) and she was obviously vulnerable. Most feminists would say that this is rape and would say the guys were only out for themselves and they probably were. Camille’s response makes readers take a double take. “And sometimes drunk women aren’t raped; they just make stupid choices– and to say we deserve special treatment when we’re drunk because we’re women, to say we need to be looked after, I find offensive.”

Now that’s a statement.

Time to unravel!

When I went to India, there was a conversation of the backlash of all of the protective measurements for women to stop rape. The backlash was reinforcing the idea that women need to be protected. This is like saying women can’t go out to parties by themselves or they might get raped. Unfortunately as much as I want to say that it isn’t true, it still is. I’ve heard multiple stories. We shouldn’t say ‘why didn’t she bring a friend?’ or ‘she shouldn’t have dressed up like a slut,’ but the problem remains. It sucks and puts women in a difficult situation. It also puts men in a difficult situation. We assume that men only want sex and unfortunately, most men reinforce this idea. I’m not saying that they’re all rapists or even capable of rape, it’s just that we see comments from guys talking about how their girlfriend doesn’t give them sex or they want sex. Okay. I’m going to keep that as a mostly truth though I know it’s not always true because it could be a social construction; either way it exists.

Now to look back at that quote. The boys she was with might not have been capable of rape, but could still be fine with being a guy she had sex with. This is where an argument comes up. If she was drunk and inhibitions gone and they were drunk and she was obviously able to be taken advantage of (considering her home life), does it count as rape? When can somebody make a decision? Of course, she was thirteen and legally, it was rape. What about socially? I agree with her quote. To a point. I’m not sure, but I believe I at least planned a post where I talked about some of the ways men debase women. One of the unintentional ways is “I would never hurt a woman, she needs to be protected.” Ouch. This is a problem and it should be addressed. Women do not need to be protected. We can see this in the characters Flynn creates. You can’t argue that they need protection; if anything the men need protection. Detective Richard is more horrified by everything Camille does than any of the women. Her step-father has no clue what’s going on and is being manipulated without even knowing. Her writing begins to prove that women do not need protection.

Unfortunately, Gillian Flynn’s ideas are progressive. This is good, but it also assumes a world exists that’s out of our reach currently. Right now, we’re trying to rework the relationship between men and women. We’re trying to see people as individuals without grouping them together with similar characteristics just because of their gender. We want women who can be seen as people and not objects and men who can be seen as more than just sex seeking. Gillian Flynn is moving past this teaching men that rape is never okay and women should be able to have sex for fun to the understanding that women do not need protection and can make decisions even when drunk; that protection is not needed. This is a theory that’s difficult to wrap our heads around in a society where we’re trying to reform the idea that when drunk, it counts as rape and victim blaming is not okay. Flynn presents a new argument that is both hopeful (women not needing protection) and harmful (potential victim blaming). It’s progressive but may be too progressive in our current situation.

Gone Girl presents a female character that is more obvious than the others (save for Camille’s mom). I can’t talk much about this book without spoiling it, but the characters are both hated in the book. I asked one of my friends if he liked the movie (still haven’t seen it) and he said yes, but that the woman was a bitch and he hated her. He never said anything about hating the husband who is equally as horrible just in a different way. The husband’s behavior is acceptable in current circles. While it’s bad, we can understand it. Her behavior on the other hand isn’t. She’s called a bitch because she’s manipulative. We don’t see that often and when we do, it’s her fault. He was the one affected and his behavior was a reaction. Her’s is never accepted. She’s seen as the instigator.

Of course, Flynn does not seem to be in agreement. She creates a woman who gets back at her husband with manipulation. A woman will lose in a fist fight (in most cases) but manipulation? That’s harder to fight. People hate her, but when we examine her behavior, it makes sense. What else was she to do? Of course, she is insane. That can’t be ignored. She never tried having a conversation with him, but instead took it to the next, next, next x10 level. She’s a psychopath, but an intelligent one who examines the social contract and uses it for her own purposes. It’s twisted, yes, but it’s difficult to call Flynn a misogynist when she portrays strong women in a progressive, not backwards, way.

Gillian Flynn has said that she is a feminist. She takes assumptions about women and flips them. In Sharp Objects, the detective says the killer has to be a man because women do not kill unless it’s for revenge or from jealousy. All of the perceived notions are switched on the readers, making the writing twist our familiarity to something that we can barely recognize. I do think Flynn is asking for a world that is more progressive and radical than we are at. I’ve heard women and men say that woman shouldn’t be protected when they’re drunk, but it’s with accusatory tones and filled with excuses for behavior that they know was wrong. This type of understanding she is asking for is with respect for the doer, knowing that it was a decision that one person made and it shouldn’t be forgiven when it was her choice.

Flynn is definitely an author that feminists should keep their eyes on and people who blame the woman or say ‘she was drunk; she wanted it’ have to watch or read with more knowledge than what they currently hold. I hope to read more from her in the upcoming years.

Can Reading be Harmful?

Reading is supposed to broaden the mind. Reading allows a person to put their feet in the characters shoes and hopefully, be able to do that in real life too. There are plenty of articles about the benefits of reading fiction or why you should date somebody who reads or the ability to empathize when readers start young. What about the harm of reading? Does it exist?

In two days, Fifty Shades of Grey, the movie will be released in theaters around the United States and I’m sure the movie will be a box office hit. Those who got through the book will be excited to see their imagination blossom on screen and those who didn’t read the book (but wanted to) will only have to set aside 125 minutes of their precious time and be visually assaulted without the need to read through Ana’s eyes and will also not have to cringe every time “oh my” is used. Unless they’re going to keep that too. We can hope not.

I’m not going to try to make this a complaint about Fifty Shades because for one there are so many other blogs and forums you can read about the complaints, and two I liked it my first read through. Despite the cringe-worthy prose and complete lack of reality (you don’t have an email address but you got a job out of college being an English major? Really.) I still liked it for the simple fact that it was escapism and took roughly three days to get through the entire series. I felt no more educated by the end of it, but I also didn’t feel horrified.

I also read a lot. I’m not going on about how great I am. I read some simple books but I try to add in books that truly open my understanding of myself or the world. When reading might become harmful is when it only includes the “escapist” books.

We have all heard the arguments about Fifty Shades. “He raped her!” “She signed a consent form!” and on and on and on. My opinion is more on the fact that the whole story is so unbelievable that we shouldn’t have this argument. She’s a 22 year old virgin who managed to get a job at a publishing company (not as a receptionist) right out of college with her English degree. This does not happen. Of course, being a virgin and obviously not able to use technology (why is this a thing?), I don’t think she had enough information to give informed consent, but either way, this book is realistic enough to take seriously.

And yet….

And yet, we worry about how people are taking books like this with simplified plots and paper-thin characters. Despite readers calling it out as horrible or simply, escapism, we worry that it’s affecting our communities. It is possible for reading to be harmful.

It is one thing to simply read for escapism, but the problem comes when people who don’t read often and desire somebody like Christian Grey and even worse, want to be like Anastasia Steele (how horrible are those last names?!). This sounds a lot like victim blaming, so let me explain.

I’m not a feminist who consistently thinks women should be abstained from taking responsibility for their actions. Trust me, I think Christian is manipulative and I don’t care that he has all of these childhood issues because he should have had some of those solved before pursuing a relationship with a girl as ‘vanilla’ as Ana. Yet, I still worry that Ana, along with Bella, might be seen as role model. Girls who do not inform themselves and rely on information from the guy who’s telling them what they should be doing, who only have knowledge in cooking for their boyfriends, who never learned how to stand on their own two feet, and who only show their ability to stand up for themselves to protect their fetuses. I don’t think this is role model material and most people know this. Most.

There are those who don’t and this is a simplified example of the problems reading can bring to those who don’t read widely. What about those who only read racist stories? What about those who are only allowed to read from a strict approved book list and even though Fifty Shades would most likely not be on there, what other books are being left out?

Obviously my title was an attention grabber. I don’t think reading can be harmful because I think reading is the best thing a person can do. It’s when people read narrowly and refuse to try other books. It’s when a person disregards others comments on the book and don’t see the problems that may stem from the literature. I always try to read the reviews of books after I read them to see what people are saying. I try to make myself (and usually don’t succeed) read scholarly articles on the books I have read to see what people believe is the affect of that book on readers and society.

What book has made you question yourself? What book makes you consider censorship?

Thoughts on College and Goals

Today is the first day of classes and I’m not there. This is the first time in 19 years that I will not be attending some type of school and it sucks.

There are some people who truly do not enjoy school. They go because they know that’s how they will reach their goals or they go because they have to. I know a number of people who are like this in college. They loathe classes and wish it would be break forever. I mean, I have similar thoughts during the summer, but now that the semester is actually starting up and I am not there, it’s terrifying.

I have always enjoyed school. Sure, in middle and high school, it wasn’t my favorite, but that’s to be expected. And of course, I didn’t always want to go to my classes in college, but once again, everyone has those days. Now that I really have no choice, it’s horrible. I don’t have a job either so that’s some of the problem. I’m waiting for replies to my resumes and applications, but so far, it hasn’t happened. This means I’m sitting at home, crocheting a lot, and watching House at a terrifyingly fast pace. I try and read in the morning and blog to keep my mind working, but I can feel it slowing down.

Being 22 and out of school and not have applied to grad school yet, it’s a terrifying wide open space with no answers. I try to make a list of things I do want to accomplish in the next five years or so. I’m going to publish them here so I can maybe set myself to achieving these goals. If any of you readers have some thoughts or suggestions, please comment. (These are in no particular order).

1) Read more books
2) Blog at least two times a week
3) Have readers care enough to comment on said blogs
4) Work on that novel!
5) Find a job to pay bills
6) Find volunteer hours that maybe relates to helping women and children
7) Find a job that is involved with my career goal as social activist
8) Go to Grad school for something
9) Open an Etsy account and sell my crocheted work

So there’s 8. Some of them like 5 and 7 might have to happen with a length of time in between them, but hey, at least there’s a list.

Not being in school right now is boring and it’s hard to make myself read intellectual books without a professor assigning them to me. I’m a self-starter, but it’s nice to have at least somebody who will have a discussion about the book with me. I just finished Bad Feminist by Roxanne Gay, which proved to be interesting and thought provoking though most of it I had heard before. I’m trying, but it’s difficult.

If you are going to be starting college, please realize that the education you receive there will change you and that is good. If you’re a major that will actually end you up with a job, good for you! Don’t be afraid to take some liberal arts classes too. You shouldn’t undervalue something that will change the way you look at the world around you. Never close your mind to knowledge. If you’ve graduated, any words of advice? How are you guys holding up and did you achieve your goals or did you find something better that you would not have even imagined right out of Undergrad?

I’m going to go watch way too many House episodes now and crochet the day away.

Book, Books, and More Goals?

Easy Fix

Write a post about any topic you wish, but make sure it ends with “And all was right in the world.”

It’s 2015 and that means another personal reading challenge.

I read and I believe I read a lot considering what I do. In 2014, I read 82 books. I’m sure others read more than this especially considering five of those books were Angel graphic novels and a few others were children’s books. At the start of 2014, I re-read the Harry Potter series as I try to do almost once a year. I also read the Percy Jackson series, which has become my current favorite series right now (working on the Heroes of Olympus currently). I included Sex and the Citadel that I had to read for my Anthropology class. In Spring, I included some of the other books I had to read for classes (I cannot remember what ones those were anymore). Overall, I came to 81 books. I was in my last year of Undergrad and taking some challenging courses. I worked at the library and did not take a summer break. I also learned to crochet, so that meant an increase in Netflix watching and a decrease and personal reading. I tried to get through the Chronicles of Narnia and failed. Completed the Song of Fire and Ice. Finished off the Alice series and am very happy I can stop reading it. I read some amazing books as well: The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender, The Golem and the Jinni, House of Leaves, We Were Liars, and Written on the Body. All of which I would recommend. YA/Magical Realism, Historical/Magical Realism, Meta/Horror?, YA/Mystery, Women’s/Romance. All of those books were wonderful reads, but now a new year!

My goal for 2015 is set at 85 books. I didn’t make goal of 100 books last year, so I decided to set this one higher than my completed. I have a feeling I’ll read more considering I’m no longer in school 😦 and do not yet have a job. I have two reading challenges currently. My 85 books and one that was re-posted of Facebook a few times and currently lives on my Pinterest.

2015 Reading Challenge. I've pretty much done this on my own already, and I'm counting some things I've had to read in school because I loved most books..but it's a great idea!

So far I have: A book with more than 500 pages (A Discovery of Witches), A book you can finish in one day (Ghosting), A book set somewhere you’ve always wanted to visit (Anansi Boys), A funny book (I Suck at Girls), A book with magic (The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of her Own Making), and that’s all right now.

That’s also all the books I’ve read so far except for The Lost Hero which could fit into one of the categories already chosen, but I  used one of the others for that category. I’m going to try not to double dip. I don’t think I’ll be able to get all of them out. A book set during Christmas would be a hard one for me to figure out. Does it mean a holiday book? Or does it just have  to have Christmas in it? A book with bad reviews? Ugh. Many of the books with good reviews I can’t stand. A book set in your hometown? I live in a tiny town. I’m going to have to find one set in Ithaca, the closest known town. My grandma did give me one Tess of the Storm Country. It may have to be a double/triple dipper because it fulfills a few categories that I’m not sure I want to fill: a classic romance, published 100 years ago, and is set in Ithaca, NY. YAY! She did give me one that’s hard to read because it’s a cheap version of an ebook since she said it’s hard to read on the Nook. It’s definitely harder to read in print (tiny print and horrible lack of white space). I might have to cheat. Sarah Dessen’s new novel comes out in May as well! So that’s exciting.

I like my challenges so I hope I’ll actually be able to complete this one (and maybe write more reviews?). For 2015, my goals are:
-Read at least 85 books
-Crochet some stuff and sell some stuff
-Find a job I love/Apply  to grad school/those type of goals
-Write and finish a rough draft of my Middle-grade novel

If I can manage to complete all of that, all will be right in the year 2016.

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