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The Linkspam of midwinter (July 2014)


And this winter, which has finally arrived in Melbourne, have a lovely collection of links for your pleasure.

Don Weise at Huffpost Gay Voices writes, “When I Call Myself Bisexual“:

As part of the new edition of Bi Any Other Name, the classic anthology of bisexual writings that Loraine Hutchins and Lani Ka’ahumanu edited almost 25 years ago, there’s a new introduction that looks at where we were around bisexuality when the book was first published in 1991 and where we stand today. For me, their editor, one of the more surprising statistics they cite is the fact that no national LGBT organization has an openly bisexual board member. Finding this difficult to believe, I said, “Surely the Human Rights Campaign or Lambda Legal has bisexual board members.” Not one openly bisexual board member, they told me. Yes, there was a bisexual woman they knew of on a national board, but she chose not to come out as such. As much as we know that the closet is a sad place, and while I personally frown on closeted gay people in most instances, I could relate to not wanting to disclose all of who you are, sexually speaking, when you’re already dealing with the ongoing, daily hassles around just being gay. Who wants to add another layer to one’s outsider status, especially within one’s own community? In fact, I found it completely understandable that someone would serve on the board of a national LGBT organization and remain closeted about their bisexuality, because I did it myself.

Vivian shares on their tumblr, “Ten Things You Didnt Know (and Didn’t Care To Know) About Being Bisexual“:

  1. Bisexual men are 50 percent more likely to live in poverty than gay men
  2. Bisexual women are more than twice as likely to live in poverty as lesbians
  3. Bisexual men and women are at least one-third less likely to disclose their sexual identity to their doctors than gays or lesbians

Anne Thériault at The Toast writes, “Fairy Tales Are Women’s Tales“:

Fairy tales are women’s tales. This has been said before, in words cleverer and more articulate than my own, but still, it bears repeating: fairy tales are women’s tales. They’re bent-backed crones’ tales, sly gossips’ tales, work-worn mothers’ tales and old wives’ tales. They’re stories shared, repeated and elaborated on over mindless women’s work like spinning or mending or shucking corn. These stories are the voices of those who were, within a social and cultural context, so often voiceless; they’re women’s whispered desires and fears, neatly wrapped up in fantastical narratives filled with sex, violence and humour. Fairy tales speak of the things that women most hoped for – a prince, a castle, a happy ending – and those that they were most afraid of – that their children would be taken from them, that men would hurt them or take advantage of them, that their family wouldn’t be provided for.

Georgia White at The Toast writes, “The Wife of Bath, Misandrist Prophetess“:

The premise of the Canterbury Tales, for those unfamiliar, is that of a party of pilgrims travelling together to visit the shrine of Thomas Becket; to pass the time, they are to tell each other two tales on the journey there and two on the journey back. Chaucer never got close to finishing four tales for each pilgrim, but the ones he completed vary wildly in tone and subject matter, from traditional verse romances to several bawdy sketches of provincial life known as fabliaux to a beast fable concerning a rooster and a fox. Each tale is accompanied by a Prologue—usually brief—that introduces the pilgrim relating it and establishes some of their personal traits and beliefs. The Wife of Bath’s Prologue, however, is very long, and much more interesting for our purposes than her Tale is.  Without invitation she charges straight into a lengthy homily, bolstered by explicit personal detail, on marriage, gender relations and women’s self-governance.

Sarah Kendzior writes, “On being a thing“:

I write articles that have resonated with millions of people, often in an emotional way. But I never write about myself or my personal life. I have multiple platforms and if I wanted to, I could. I choose not to – in part because I think focusing on myself distracts from the social and political problems I depict, but also because I value my privacy.

I am like this in “real life” too. I have been described as aloof, but I try to be generous and kind. I take care of my family and my community. I don’t care about fame, which is much more of a curse than a gift. I reject most media interviews. My priorities are my loved ones and my work. Yesterday I was reading Charlotte’s Web to my daughter: the story of “a true friend and a good writer”. That is all I aim to be. If I had the choice, this is how I would be remembered.

Jacob Tobia at Huffpost Gay Voices writes, “Why I’m Genderqueer, Professional and Unafraid“:

But one question loomed above all others as I started my job last week: what should I wear to work?

In many ways, it’s a concern everyone faces. On the first day, everyone wants to get their outfit just right. The morning before a new job, most of us spend an extra ten, twenty or thirty minutes making sure that our hair is properly coiffed, our deodorant is both effective and unobtrusive and our outfit is on point.

But for transgender and gender non-conforming people like myself, the question of what to wear to work becomes an exhausting question of identity and of survival. For us, the question changes from “how do I present my best self at work?” to “can I present my best self at work?”

Chelsea Manning writes at The New York Times, “The Fog Machine of War“:

However, the concerns that motivated me have not been resolved. As Iraq erupts in civil war and America again contemplates intervention, that unfinished business should give new urgency to the question of how the United States military controlled the media coverage of its long involvement there and in Afghanistan. I believe that the current limits on press freedom and excessive government secrecy make it impossible for Americans to grasp fully what is happening in the wars we finance.

Elias J. writes at feminspire, “A Letter to “Activist” Dan Savage, Who Continues to Bully My Trans Sibling“:

Let’s talk a bit about reclaiming words. It is a common belief in activist circles that you can only reclaim slurs if they affect you. If you’re not black, you cannot reclaim the n-word; if you’re not a gay man, you cannot reclaim the f-word; if you’re not a woman, you cannot reclaim the b-word; and if you are not a trans woman, you cannot reclaim the t-word.

Megan Amram writes, “HAPPY FATHER’S DAY, MOM“:

I honor my mother on Father’s Day because, when my twin brother and I were four months old, my father left my family. Or in Internet parlance, “unfollowed” us. You might be thinking that that sounds like a despicable thing for a father to do, but remember – I made very bad small talk at that age! I mooched off dad’s money, and my resume was lacking in all marketable skills. My brother refused to split the check when we went out to dinner! Ever! It was quite a hostile environment for a grown man. So he went splitsies (I think that’s the legal term??). He went AWOL. Oh, excuse me, typo: “A-HOLE.” He went a-hole. While he was vaguely in and out of our lives as small children, I haven’t spoken to him in almost fifteen years now. I mostly regret that I don’t know what he thought of Avatar!

I’m not interested in disparaging my father. One, because then there’d be nothing to explore in my future one-woman show “My mother’s Jewish, my father’s Jewish, and I’m Jewish! And HUNGRY! FOR DADDY’S HUGS…AND KNISHES!” (running off-off-Broadway in a meat locker in Detroit). But two, because I truly don’t feel any emotional wounds. It is not enough to say that my mom was the best mom anyone could’ve asked for. She was a superwoman. A champion. An Übermensch (German for “female Uber driver.”)

Isaac Z Schlueter writes, “LB_T“:

He said, “That movie was kind of boring.”

I was shocked, and then I realized he was talking about the plot.

“Well… I didn’t really pay attention to the plot, tbh.  That movie’s just lots of Brad Pitt being gorgeous and half-naked.”

“You’re not as straight as you think you are.”

“Yeah, like you’re not attracted to guys sometimes.”

“Nope.”

“Not ever?”

“Not ever.”

“Not even Brad Pitt?”

“Not even a little.  You’re bi, dude.”

“Huh.”

Angrily Internetting wrote a twitter rant she then put on storify, “Message to Monosexuals (And Every Person Who Speaks to Me)

Pamela Clark writes at xo Jane, “35 Practical Steps Men Can Take To Support Feminism“:

His comments have prompted me to create a list of more practical tools. Most men — particularly men who benefit from multiple forms of structural privilege — do many things in their daily lives that directly or indirectly contribute to a culture of gender inequality. Even men who support feminism in theory can be not great at applying feminism in their everyday practices.

This list entails suggestions for some practical tools all men can apply in their day-to-day lives to foster equality in their relationships with women, and to contribute to a culture where women feel less burdened, unsafe, and disrespected.

Rejected Princesses

Natasha Vargas-Cooper at Out writes, “Soccer’s Fa’afafine Superstar“:

During her summer break back home in American Samoa, Saelua gave soccer one more shot and rejoined the national team. For the first time, she made first string, becoming the first transgender player to compete in a FIFA World Cup qualifying game. The president of FIFA, Joseph Blatter, sent her a personal letter of congratulations.

Rongen also did something no coach had ever done before.  “He was the first coach to call me Jayiah on the field, and not Johnny,” Saelua says. Rongen also installed Saelua as the team’s center back. “Can you imagine that in England or Spain?” Rongen asked reporters before the first match. “I’ve really got a female starting at center back.” Though the team did not qualify for the World Cup, they won their first competitive match, beating Tonga 2-1 and breaking a 30-game losing streak.

Clementine Ford writes at Daily Life, “The two most complained about TV ads of 2014“:

Once upon a time, before women rose up and began to suffocate men with all their female privilege, the unsanitary topic of women’s leaky bodies was handled in exactly the way it should be – through mysterious whispers, myth-building and strangely hypnotic euphemisms. It was necessary that we do so, because everybody knows that women’s body holes double as portals to the realm of demons and even speaking of them might cause one to activate and suck a little part of earth into the netherworld.

So before evil witch-women gathered under full moons to cast spells from their devil teats which gave them total command of humanity’s most powerful institutions, we shrouded such things in secrecy, knowing full well the danger that would be wrought from speaking the names out loud. Moonblood. The Curse. Menstruation.

Leigh Alexander writes, “But WHAT CAN BE DONE: Dos and Don’ts To Combat Online Sexism“:

You may notice that a lot of things happen to do with sexism on the internet. Sometimes someone has done a sexist thing and people are talking about it. Sometimes someone has written an article about the time they experienced sexism and other people are having feelings about it.  Sometimes a particular woman or women is being harassed on Twitter and you are witnessing it.

As you know, sexism is bad, and when bad things happen, you might have feelings about it too. But how can you help? What should be done? Here is a guide:

Evette Dionne at Bustle writes, “What It’s Like To Have HPV: How The Vaccine Failed To Protect Me As a Black Woman“:

It’s upsetting to me that Gardasil leaves many black women without adequate protection against HPV and cervical cancer. Conflating the healthcare needs of white women with those of black women keeps us from accessing adequate treatment in multiple areas, and this especially troubling when it comes to HPV. Had there been funding for a vaccine specifically designed for my black, female body, a shot that protects my body as well as it does white women, I might very well be HPV-free today.

Andrea Smith writes, “Beyond the Pros and Cons of Trigger Warnings: Collectivizing Healing“:

There is a continuing debate about the politics and efficacy of trigger warnings within activist, social media and academic spaces. There are merits to the various arguments on all sides of this discussion. However, sometimes what is missed is the larger context from which trigger warnings emerged. In particular, this intervention emerged from the recognition by many of us in the anti-violence movement that we were building a movement that continued to structurally marginalize survivors by privatizing healing. We had built movements that were supposed to be led by bad-ass organizers who were “healed” and thus had their acts together. If we in fact did not have our act together, this was an indication that we had not healed sufficiently to be part of the movement. We built movements around an idealized image of who were supposed to be rather than the people we actually were. The result was that we created a gendered and capitalist split in how we organized. Healing was relegated to the “private” sphere and became unacknowledged labor that we had to do on our own with a therapist or a few friends. Once we were healed, then we were allowed to enter the public sphere of organizing. Of course, since we continued to have problems, we continued to destroy our own organizing efforts internally with no space to even talk about what was going on.

Ben Pobjie writes at The Roar, “Ian Thorpe’s coming out is not about us“:

The sense of entitlement was palpable: it was clear there was a widespread belief that Thorpe ‘owed’ us something, and was chucking in the towel before settling this debt.

It was as if the man was our property, and by deciding that after many years of single-mindedly pushing his body to the very limits of physical possibility, he had somehow stolen himself from us.

It was as if, having dedicated his entire adult life – and a hefty slab of his pre-adult life – to the obsessive pursuit of the black line at the bottom of a pool, he had thereby forfeited the right to do anything else.

 

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Let’s talk about Thorpe


Is it news that Ian Thorpe is gay, by his own admission?  Yes, it is news, it’s always news whenever anyone with prominence comes out and states that they are not heterosexual, because being queer is still seen as unusual.  Is it any of our actual business who Ian Thorpe is attracted to at any given point in his life? Fuck no it is not.

What really bothers me about the whole thing is that Ian Thorpe for years has been repeatedly asked by people whether or not he’s gay.  He’s told everyone who has ever asked, and everyone seems to have asked at one point or another, that he was straight, and the constant pressure he’s been under to actually be gay, is astounding.  It does look like the media has hounded him into just admitting that he is gay so they’ll leave him alone.  That’s no way to be authentic to yourself.  If anyone thinks that the media will now back off Ian Thorpe because he has now stated that he is gay, then those people have rocks in their heads.  Those women that he previously dated, they’ll be interviewed – friends, family, acquaintances, etc – all interviewed and fed to those of you who think that digesting someone’s personal life is a right, not a privilege.

If Ian Thorpe wanted to come out, then it should have been in his own time.  It is possible that this interview with Michael Parkinson was his own time, and the nerves I’ve read described were those of relief and anxiety of finally being able to be himself – though they could equally be of frustration and resignation that this question has been asked yet again, and deciding to just say “yes” because maybe then it’ll stop.  I’m not going to watch the interview, and these comments are based on the media I’ve read prior to the interview being aired.

Sexuality is fluid, people move and change, and someone who says that they are straight today might identify as gay or bisexual later in life, and vice versa.  I don’t have any problems with people shifting from one sexual orientation to anther, what I do have a HUGE problem with, is that people proscribing a sexual orientation on someone for how they are perceived to be acting.  If you don’t act like a macho manly man, then you must be gay – that’s the message that the hounding of Ian Thorpe, and others like him, give to young men – queer or not.

Additionally, I’m not at all surprised that people haven’t asked him if he was bisexual, because bisexuals are invisible and apparently evil/gross/two-timing back-stabbing arseholes.  I should know.

Additional reading: Gay or straight? That’s Ian Thorpe’s business

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The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak


A few months ago I was having a conversation about the difference between some forms of Western Spirituality and Eastern Spirituality, and why some Westerners are so attracted to forms of Eastern Spirituality. In the end, we reached the conclusion that it might be due to some forms of Eastern Spirituality focusing on being present in the body and most forms of Western Spirituality essentially viewing the body as an evil necessity before you move onto the afterlife.

This then tied into some thoughts I had about yoga, and then some more thoughts I had when my yoga instructor told the class to be and feel heavy, to let our weight sink into the floor, and to let our legs and feet support us, not our shoulders or neck.  The mindfullness meditation that I do from time to time, also focuses on being in the body, on being present in the moment, and focusing on the breath, on the sensations of sitting or lying still for a period.

This blog post, which I will attempt to selectively quote from, pretty much sums up my experience of Christian teachings (Catholic for the most part) in relation to the body versus the soul:

Many of the early church Fathers were educated in Greek philosophy or came under its influence. The result was an amalgamation of Christian theology with Greek philosophy.

The theology of the early Middle Ages was dominated by the towering figure of Augustine of Hippo, who completed the fusion of the Pauline emphasis of sin and grace through faith with a Neoplatonic view of man that stressed the imprisonment of the soul in the body. This dualism led to an increasing asceticism in the life of the medieval church, which meant an attitude of indifference or even outright hostility toward the body. The official theology of the church concentrated on getting the soul of the believer into heaven, through the Sacraments, or at least on saving it from hell, as the doctrine of purgatory developed. —James N. Lapsley, Salvation and Health, p.39.

Coming down to the medieval period, Lapsley continues:

If the health of the body was not forgotten, it was once again generally relegated to the status of a matter of relative indifference, which might as well be sacrificed to gain eternal bliss. This was the situation that obtained as Martin Luther grew toward manhood at the turn of the sixteenth century.  —Ibid., p.41.

The medieval church did not understand what the New Testament meant by “flesh” and “spirit.” In real Greek fashion she understood these terms to designate two parts of man — the higher and lower natures. Since things like body, work, eating and sexuality belonged to the “flesh,” they were regarded as inferior functions, if not tainted with evil. On the other hand, prayers, fasting, celibacy and religious tasks were regarded as “spiritual” and therefore superior, if not meritorious.

Or a concept of “soul-salvation” which is not a “whole-salvation” can lead people to think that since God is not very concerned with the body, neither should they be too concerned about how they treat the body. It is amazing how many Christians think that they display their spirituality by neglecting the body. If they hasten a coronary by bad living habits, they think that this will be a good testimony of their dedication to the Lord’s work.

It makes sense then that those people attracted to religions and forms of spirituality that focus on being present in your own body, treating it well, and stepping gently on the world around you, are not going to be attracted to Christianity necessarily.  It makes sense that people who want to look after themselves, their environment, and their planet are attracted to forms of belief, exercise and spirituality that support those things.

This is, in part, why I do yoga as a form of exercise.  It’s one that recognises my body, my journey through life, my ability, and is patient with where I am at today.  I am not after the spiritual aspects of yoga, but being a form of meditation and exercise that developed from Hindu, Buddhist and Jain philosophy, it is differently grounded to the philosophies that I grew up with.  When I did ballet as a child, we were not taught to move with our breath, to ground ourselves and be connected to the ground we stood on, and we were not taught how to breathe properly (being a singer helped there).  Instead we were taught to be as light as air (which is funny in retrospect), to glide, gracefully above the earth as if we were not made from it.  Fencing, my preferred form of competitive sport, is again a sport about being light, and nimble – and one not designed so well for women, but that’s a different story.

To take up room, to be heavy, to be your body are radical notions in Western Christian philosophy where the body is seen as something that carries around the soul while you do enough good deeds to get into your deity’s good books before being allowed to be rewarded with heaven after you die.

 

 

Oh, and I chose the title of this blog, as one of the worst lines in the Bible – the need to sleep, to eat, to live are seen as a weakness versus things that actually need to be addressed.

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Let’s try with some empathy


Now I understand you don’t want to engage with the angry person who is swearing over there.  You can see that they’re upset, but you’re not entirely sure why, and you’re certainly not sure why they’re this angry.  Surely such a little thing shouldn’t provoke such strong emotions in someone – they must be unhinged, or overly sensitive – surely.

After all, dealing with angry, upset, and/or sweary people isn’t pleasant and it certainly isn’t fun.  So of course the logical response is to tell them to calm down, to tell them that you won’t engage with them when they’re like this, that you feel threatened by their response, and that their language is inappropriate and that they need to be more civil.

How about instead of telling someone how they should react to something, you think a bit about why they might be reacting that way, how constant microaggressions might have worn them down, and how this might have been the final straw after they’ve been polite to everyone else whose pushed them down that day/week/month/year.  Think about how they might actually see the thing that you said or wrote, and how that might look from their position.  Actually apologise for upsetting them and then invite them to tell you what you can do to avoid upsetting them again in future – because people generally want to avoid having their feet stepped on, they will often provide you with suggestions resources on how your organisation or yourself can be more inclusive, open, and less upsetting.

But if they don’t, because it is not their job to educate you, go and find those resources yourself.  Read up on the issues, reactions, things to avoid doing, things to do, and ways to be a better person and organisation.  There are many of people out there who blog about these issues, and you can read those and learn why it is that people are upset about this issue, and decide how you can be a better person/organisation.

If you still don’t understand the issues, go and talk to people you know who identify with the person who was upset and ask for their advice.  Go and talk to organisations that represent the person who was upset and find out what you can do in future to avoid upsetting people who identify with that group.  Be empathic, care about those who are in pain, and do what you can to avoid adding to the burdens they carry.  Be a place of safety, sanctity and refuge from the rest of the places that haven’t yet learnt to be empathetic and better.

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Winter might be here linkspam (June 2014)


So I have a lot of posts I’ve collected over the past few months, and it’s high time to share them with you all, and stop feeling guilty about the backlog, and it’s going to be epic because I haven’t written for so long, and I have collected a huge range of great posts.

First up Alex Mills writes, “Anxiety and The Age of Entitlement: A Personal Story“:

Under Abbott’s new policy, if I didn’t have the support of my family, I would have found myself with no source of income or support. Where would I have lived? How could I have payed rent? How would I have purchased food, or payed for the frequent visits to my doctor and psychologist? And how would I have afforded the petrol that got me to all of these appointments?

I would have had no access to support for half a year. And honestly, I can’t really imagine where I might have ended up. When I think back to that time in my life, I am terrified at what this policy would have meant for me. Emergency relief, borrowing from friends, sleeping on couches – all of these things would have been a reality. I could have been homeless.

Blurg5000 writes at I’m Sorry I’m Like This, “The Spikes“:

As horrific as it must sound, sometimes you have to remove a person’s sleep site in order to engage that person. Rough sleeping is incredibly harmful, it affects a person’s physical and mental health and most importantly their personal safety. Each night you sleep rough you are risking getting a kicking because people do that to homeless people.

I guarantee that the outreach team in Southwark know about this site and have been trying to stop people rough sleeping there for some time, not because they lack humanity or a sense of community but because rough sleeping kills people. On average, homeless people die 30 years earlier than the rest of the population. It’s a slow suicide. Or sometimes actual suicide. Are businesses and housing associations cool about condoning something that kills people? No. That’s why they’ve put the spikes there. Or made the benches single. Or too narrow to sleep on. Look around you. These measures are in place all over London.

Violet Blue writes at ZDNet, “Thanks for nothing, jerkface“:

For LGBT, political dissidents, activists and at-risk people everywhere, Google’s little Google+ project became a loaded gun pointed right at anyone whose privacy is what keeps them alive.

Users found out in January 2014 when Google+ force-integrated chat and SMS into “hangouts” in the Android 4.4 “KitKat” update.

At-risk users were disproportionately affected, most especially transgender people who needed to keep their identities separate for personal safety and employment reasons.

One woman was outed to a co-worker when she texted him, and risked losing her employment.

Dylan Matthews writes at Vox, “More evidence that giving poor people money is a great cure for poverty“:

So there you have it: money sent to poor people abroad doesn’t get wasted on booze or cigarettes. But it’s worth asking whether we should even care how it’s spent, ultimately. There’s something more than a little unseemly about Westerners casting judgment on poor people halfway across the world for having a beer or a smoke. As the authors’ World Bank colleague Jishnu Das once put it, “‘does giving cash work well’ is a well-defined question only if you are willing to say that ‘well’ is something that WE, the donors, want to define for families whom we have never met and whose living circumstances we have probably never spent a day, let alone a lifetime, in.”

Xeni Jardin writes at Boing Boing, “Investigative report on collapse of US mental health care system”.

Stella Young writes at ABC RampUp, “‘Life skills’ program teaches wrong lesson“:

Choices are rarely made in a vacuum, and if hair removal for women was a genuinely unbiased choice, it would carry no consequences either way. Removal of body hair would not be met with society’s approval while letting it grow is met with surprise, ridicule and sometimes even disgust. I do it, in part, to conform to patriarchal standards of beauty. It might not be a particularly feminist or unbiased choice, but ultimately it’s my decision. The same cannot be said for this student who, from her mother’s account, had discussed the notion of hair removal at home and made a decision not to shave.

It’s important to reiterate this point: this young woman was presented with a choice. She made one. Then someone in a position of authority told her that removing her body hair is a “life skill”, implying that it’s something she has to do in order to better understand and operate in the world around her. Part of the school’s rationale is that the girls are more likely to avoid being teased if they conform to these social rules. Perhaps they’d be better off teaching tolerance and acceptance of all people, rather than conformity.

stavvers at Another angry woman writes, “An open letter to all men“:

By now, your fingers are probably twitching with the urge to scream NOT ALL MEN ARE LIKE THIS. I can almost feel your agitation, and your desire to say this. Guess what? That desire to burst in and announce NOT ALL MEN is tied in to that self-same sense of entitlement. You say it because you feel entitled to my time and attention. You say it because it horrifies you that I might feel negatively to you and you want to show off what a nice guy you really are.

The Bisexual Community Tumblr commented on the movie G.B.F.

Hiromi Goto made a WisCon 38 Guest of Honour Speech:

It matters who and what is being focused upon in fiction. It matters who is creating a fictional account of these tellings. I don’t think the “burden of representation” rests upon the shoulders of those who are positioned as under-represented. If this were the case we would fall into an essentialist trap that will serve no one well. However, I’m okay with saying that it is my hope that white writers who are interested in writing about cultures and subjectivities outside of their own consider very carefully: 1) how many writers from the culture you wish to represent have been published in your country writing in the same language you will use (i.e. English) to write the story, 2) why do you think you’re the best person to write this story? 3) who will benefit if you write this story? 4) why are you writing this story? 5) who is your intended audience? 6) if the people/culture you are selecting to write about has not had enough time, historically and structurally, to tell their story first, on their own terms, should you be occupying this space?

Simon Leo Brown at the ABC (Australian) writes, “Female video gamers offered real-life escape from online sexism“:

Hannah Morrison, 20, is a major investor in Power Up Melbourne, which is planning to open a “geek bar” in Melbourne in early 2015.

She is particularly keen to create a safe space for women to play video games after experiencing “horrible sexism” while playing online with other gamers.

Rebecca Shaw guest posts at Shiela’s with, “I <3 Internet“:

I found chat rooms where I could actually talk to other lesbians. It still took me a long time to even type that I was one. I was still too terrified to even admit it to a stranger on the Internet. Because the moment I did, I knew it would become real. There was no turning back. But the Internet quickly helped me come to the realisation that there were people all over the world who were funny, smart, (seemingly) normal, happy AND gay. Everything I had been denied in my life up to that point was now at my fingertips. It is hard to overstate what kind of effect a feeling of belonging, a feeling of community, a feeling of same-ness can have on a lonely and isolated teenager. I still couldn’t find the courage in myself to come out until a few years after that, but it didn’t matter. I had the Internet. Without it, I truly don’t know how I would have survived those years. I don’t know if I could have. I felt totally and completely alone; I felt I had nobody I could talk to, that there was nobody that would understand or love me.

The inaugural Special Issue of New Scholar, edited by Gillian Darcy, Nadia Niaz, Caitlin Nunn and Karen Schamberger. This issue concentrates on scholarship around the concept of belonging.

A Lynn at Nerdy Feminist writes, “On Anger“:

The stereotype of the angry oppressed person runs rampant. Angry feminists. Angry gay/trans people. Angry people of color. Chances are, if you’ve ever spoken out about a social issue, you’ve experienced tone policing and had your entire viewpoint dismissed because of your anger–whether than anger was real or just perceived on the part of the listener/reader. These same people offer their sage advice that others would listen to you if you were nicer, that you’d “catch more flies with honey,” and that the oppressors can’t learn unless you’re willing to play nice and educate them.

I saw an unattributed* quote floating around that hits at this point:

People often say ‘stop being angry and educate us,’ not understanding that the anger is part of the education.

This so hit home with me for primarily two reasons. The first is the outward message that those who need/want to be educated about these issues must know that understanding anger is inherently a part of this education. How can you try to empathize with someone’s oppression without acknowledging the emotions that come from that? Having your people murdered, fearing/surviving harassment and rape, not being free to live the lifestyle you want, etc. are all situations that come with a lot of emotions, one of which is logically anger.  In order to learn about oppression and move toward being an ally, you must be able to understand that.

Mark Bently Cohen writes, “How to Support Your Bisexual Husband, Wife, Partner“:

As previously discussed, bisexuals have much higher levels of anxiety, depression, self harm and suicidality than any other sexual orientation. One of the biggest sources of these internal stressors for bisexuals is the conflict between coming out as bisexual, or questioning, or confused, to a spouse or partner.

“This is not what I signed up for!” one woman told her wife upon discovering she is bisexual. Would she have responded the same way had she learned her wife had cancer? Or was dealing with depression? Or had lost her job?

Of all the unexpected circumstances which take us by surprise along the road through life, bisexuality is not something to fear.

Foz Meadows writes at What Happens Next: A Gallimaufry, “Female Bodies: A Weighty Issue“:

Clearly, these women all wear different size clothes for reasons that have absolutely nothing to do with their weight, and everything to do with height and bodytype. But because of the fashion industry’s obsession with tall, thin, white, ectomorphic models – women chosen, not because they’re a representative sample of the population, but so their minimal frames can better serve as coathangers for clothes that privilege a very specific aesthetic over function – we have learned to correlate small sizes with healthy bodies, the better to justify their primacy on the runway, in advertising and on screen as a healthy ideal. Never mind that modelling agencies have been known to recruit at eating disorder clinics, with store mannequins more closely resembling the bodies of anorexic girls than average womenmodels eating tissues to stay thin and rail-thin models photoshopped to hide their ill-health and prominent ribs: because “plus size” models – that is, women whose bodies are actually representative of the general population – are treated as a separate, exceptional category, the fiction persists that “plus size” is a synonym for “overweight”, “unhealthy” or “obese”: women too enormous to wear “normal” clothes, even though the norm in question is anything but. As such, plus-size models are frequentlyderided as fata jokeunhealthy and bad role models. Today, catwalk models weigh 23% less than the average woman, compared to 8% just twenty years ago – yet whenever this disparity is pointed out, the reaction of many is to just assume that average women must be overweight, and that using plus size mannequins will only encourage obesity. Throw in the fact that women’s clothing sizes aren’t standardised, but fluctuate  wildly from brand to brand – or within the same brand, even - and the idea of judging a woman’s health by what size jeans she wears becomes even more absurd.

Amy Cato at Women’s Agenda writes, “An open response to a man offended by all-female shortlists“:

My own path wanting to spend my career assisting experienced women get positions with great companies stems from many years involved in recruitment and women’s charities. Professionally, I was tired of hearing excuses during the recruitment of leadership and technical roles that the women candidates ‘didn’t exist’ or ‘are too hard to find’, so I put my money where my mouth is and launched Executive Women Shortlists. To clarify the business raison d’etre, one of the main services is the supply of additional senior women to add to a company’s existing pool of applicants, meaning men do not need to be excluded from the opportunity.

Not only is it good for collaboration and idea generation to have a more inclusive management team but also companies that have higher female representation at the senior levels of business outperform those that don’t by 34% according to McKinsey Global research. So, whether like me, you are passionate about getting more capable women into chief executive vacancies on the ASX 200 (currently we only have 3.5%) or whether you are simply interested in improving company financial results, the focus on hiring more women remains the solution.

Laurie Penny writes at New Statesmen, “The slippery slope of gender: why shaving and snacking are feminist issues“:

First, a spectacularly misogynist and homophobic (and now withdrawn) advert from Veet, manufacturers of hair-removing goo, claimed that failing to remove your leg-hair with the help of Veet products will turn you into an actual bloke. Then there was the equally repugnant site set up to shame “Women Eating on the Tube”, featuring non-consensual pictures of women doing just that, because there’s nothing worse a female person could possibly do than demonstrate in public that she has a body which gets hungry. There have already been some stellar pieces written about this round of gender policing, the best of which have been by Paris Lees and Ellie Mae O’Hagan respectively.

At Alas a Blog, “Panti Bliss Lectures About Being Lectured About What Is Not Homophobia“.

NK Jemisin writes, “Confirmation bias, epic fantasy, and you“:

I suspect this was not aimed at GRRM, specifically. MedievalPoC has made the same point about “historically accurate” medieval European video games that make conspicuously inaccurate choices in development, and so forth. MedievalPoC points this problem out as endemic to the genre in general, which isn’t really a surprise since it’s endemic to our society. The blog is dedicated to pointing out the literal erasures and revisions that have been inflicted on art of the era to make it conform to modern — and quintessentially white supremacist — beliefs about how medieval Europe “should” have been. (And if you haven’t figured it out yet, you should be following MedievalPoC. Like, now.)

Avicenna writes at A Million Gods, “World Vision (Except for the Gays)“:

World Vision are no longer a humanitarian organisation in my eyes.

See living in the UK, World Vision don’t push their Christian Credentials, so it was rather surprising to find out that they are a Christian organisation. So I went to check their American website. So while the British one has a vague reference to “God” the American one is explicitly Christian.

But this one line from their site got me.

We work in nearly 100 countries, serving all people, regardless of religion, race, ethnicity, or gender.

But not sexual orientation, but then World Vision is not a force for equality. Okay it may have forgotten that serving all people includes the GLBT?

Annie P Waldman writes at Vice, “Inside the Kafkaesque World of the US’s ‘Little Guantánamos’“:

Prisoners describe the communication management units, or CMUs, as “Little Guantánamos.” In 2006, the Bureau of Prisons created two of these units to isolate and segregate specific prisoners, the majority of them convicted of crimes related to terrorism. The bureau secretly opened these units without informing the public and without allowing anyone an opportunity to comment on their creation, as required by law. By September 2009, about 70 percent of the CMU prisoners were Muslim, more than 1,000 to 1,200 percent more than the federal prison average of Muslim inmates.

In the CMUs, prisoners are subject to much stricter rules than in general population. They are limited to two 15-minute telephone calls per week, both scheduled and monitored. Visits are rarely permitted, and when family members are allowed to visit, they are banned from physical contact, limited to phone conversations between a plexiglass window. This differs from the general population, where prisoners can spend time with their visitors in the same room. To further the isolation, some of the CMU prisoners are held in solitary confinement, with only one hour out of their cells each day.

Andy Khouri writes at Comics Alliance, “Fake Geek Guys: A Message to Men About Sexual Harassment“:

Can you imagine, gentlemen, receiving that threat from a potentially dangerous man whose identity you have no hope of discovering but who knows your name, what city you live in, what you look like and where you work?

Now imagine receiving messages like that from men so frequently that you’re no longer bothered by it.

Now understand how f*cked up it is that you’re no longer bothered by it; that you’re no longer bothered by men’s anonymous threats of brutal sexual violence, because they’ve become just as common as a train not arriving on time.

Aja Romano at The Daily Dot writes, “The Mako Mori Test: ‘Pacific Rim’ inspires a Bechdel Test alternative“:

In response to this post, and in the process of running down numerous arguments for why the Bechdel Test can’t and shouldn’t be the only measurement by which feminist films are judged, Tumblr user chaila has proposed the Mako Mori Test, “to live alongside the Bechdel Test”:

The Mako Mori test is passed if the movie has: a) at least one female character; b) who gets her own narrative arc; c) that is not about supporting a man’s story. I think this is about as indicative of “feminism” (that is, minimally indicative, a pretty low bar) as the Bechdel test. It is a pretty basic test for the representation of women, as is the Bechdel test. It does not make a movie automatically feminist.

wolsey at Queereka writes, “Planned Parenthood“:

The first time I went to a Planned Parenthood personally, I was barely 15 years old. I had been sexually active for the very first time with my then boyfriend. It had been a blood filled fiasco wherein the condom broke. Being a person with a uterus, this was a problem.

The events had occurred the evening before, and I shown up to sit on the concrete in front of the doors to the clinic waiting for it to open. This was not how I had envisioned losing my virginity.

I was driven to seek help not just for my fears of pregnancy, but because the very concept of pregnancy froze me with terror. There are not many things that give me dysphoria, as a transgender man, but the idea of being pregnant in this body was the nuclear option when it came to dysphoria.

Michi Trota at Geek Melange writes, ““Letting the Jerks Get to You” Isn’t Really the Problem“:

Leaving aside for the moment how it’s both laughable and depressing that once again, it’s the opinion of men in the comics industry that’s solicited in determining whether or not things are “vastly improving” for women dealing with sexism and misogyny, rather than the women who are actually dealing with it and therefore might have a rather different perspective and metric for determining what “vastly improving” actually means, let’s look at Bendis’ answer:

I get a lot of crap for being Mr. positive from people who are having a hard time seeing the cup half-full but I completely agree with you.

I think things are vastly better than they were and that only makes the shitheads stand out even more. Things are not perfect, all of society’s problems are not solved, but I do think the good guys are winning.

Ah yes, because it’s terribly hard having your optimistic bubble popped by people who might be dealing more directly with the fact that their cup looks very much to them like it’s not only half-empty, the water is fracking-contaminated as well. It’s rather easier to think that the water’s getting cleaner when you’re not the one who is actually having to drink it, isn’t it?

Trudy Ring at Advocate writes, “Study: Childhood Bullying’s Effects Persist for Decades“:

Childhood bullying, the bane of many an LGBT youth’s existence, has social, physical, and mental health effects that are still evident in survivors 40 years later, according to major new research findings from the Institute of Psychiatry at King’s College London.

The data comes from the British National Child Development Study, which follows all children born in England, Scotland, and Wales during one week in 1958. The new findings, published online Friday by the American Journal of Psychiatry, covers 7,771 children whose parents provided information on their child’s exposure to bullying when they were aged 7 and 11. The children were then followed up on until the age of 50.

shweta narayan writes, “A thought on playing at the lowest possible difficulty level, and telling other people what’s easy“:

Okay now let’s imagine we’re all playing a massive roleplaying game called The Real World. There’s an area of this game, let’s call it the “Speculative Fiction community”, that has interesting enough storylines and characters that players keep coming back to it, but it also has a number of nasty monsters. Let’s call them… trolls.

Now: here is a secret* about the trolls in this region.  They are ridiculously nerfed on the easy setting. When you’re playing the game on hard, or gods forbid on multiple-marginalizations, these trolls do a ton of extra damage, and have endless adds, and an “uncomprehending/dismissive” buff that lets them ignore most anything coming their way.

None of this matters on easy mode, mind. They’re annoying, but like most things in the game, pretty easy to take on. You don’t have to worry much about strategy or conserving resources when you’re on easy mode! You just need to run in and wave your sword around! But those of us playing the game on harder settings, we’ve figured out strategies, and we’ve figured out where not to go. We know the best approach is to avoid these monsters entirely, and avoid even indirect contact. We know that any item connected to them could be cursed on hard mode, and do further damage. We’ve figured this out from painful experience. So, when a couple trolls manage to infiltrate a high-status area of the region, and people comment that they’re going to avoid them…

…and in comes someone who is playing the game on the easiest fucking mode there is, right, who has set himself up as so sympathetic to people playing on hard. And he uses this platform to tell us that we’re playing the game wrong, we mustn’t protect ourselves because it’s not sportsmanlike.

Natalie Nourigat draws a beautiful comic at Home is where the Internet is called, “Don’t let fear stop you from traveling!

JA McCarroll writes at SheRights, “The Language of Dude Feminism

Rather than attacking the institution of masculinity itself, several recent campaigns have attempted a sort of masculinity triage, trying to eliminate violence against women, while still flattering men with the label of protector. These campaigns, such as “real men don’t buy girls,”“my strength isn’t for hurting,”are various incarnations of “how would you feel if someone said that to your mother /sister /girlfriend,”and have proven to be enormously popular, achieving prodigious re-blogs, conferences, and media airtime.

They are, by many metrics, successful, and have gotten institutions long silent on the rights of women to speak up. I believe we are the better for them, but I also believe that they do not go far enough, and we all must, as feminists, radicals and progressives, push against our comfort zones.

Colin Schultz at Smithsonian.com writes, “A Scientist’s Gender Biases Mouse Research“:

Duhaime-Ross reports on a new study, which found that mice are scared of men. When a male researcher works with a mouse, the mouse’s body courses with stress hormones. This doesn’t happen when a woman scientist is doing the work. The difference in how mice respond to male and female researchers could potentially skew everything from behavioral studies to cell research.

It’s not so much that mice are scared of male researchers as it is that mice are scared of male mammals. A whiff of testosterone from any male mammal is enough to trigger this fear, says Jef Akst for The Scientist. “In all likelihood, mice just haven’t developed a way to discriminate between the smell of a male mouse and the smell of other male mammals, so men also elicit a fear response,” says Duhaime-Ross.

Alexandra Bolles writes at GLAAD, ““But you don’t look queer”: students challenge stereotypes with viral campaign (PHOTOS & VIDEO)

SBS provided us with, “Aust trackers forgotten in foreign land“:

A Queensland researcher is investigating the fate of up to 50 Aboriginal trackers who assisted Australian troops in South Africa only to disappear from the record books.

It’s possible some died but others may have fallen victim to the new White Australia Policy.

Griffith University’s Dr Dale Kerwin has spent more than 15 years trying to find the lost indigenous men of the Boer War.

Annalee Newitz at io9 writes, “Hey Star Wars — Where the Hell Are the Women?“:

So when I looked at that Star Wars cast list, Hannah was on my mind. Surely in the second decade of the twenty-first century, she’d be given more awesome female characters to choose from in this contemporary incarnation of Star Wars. Leia would still be there, as the fighting princess — but maybe there would be a female fighter pilot whose swagger could rival Han Solo’s, or a female Sith strutting through some scenery-chewing lines. Nope. There’s one female name other than Carrie Fisher’s on that cast list: the relative unknown Daisy Ridley, whom fans are speculating might play the daughter of Han Solo and Princess Leia. Of course, more cast members will be announced, but this is probably our core cast — the main characters.

Having Ridley is great, but one new female lead in a cast of men? That’s how we launch ourselves into the future of this series, which inspires little girls with pink swords, as well as old girls like myself who graduated to sharper weapons long ago? Are we seriously still pretending that the universe is comprised almost entirely of men (and mostly white men at that)? Mythic tales are supposed to open up possibilities, not shut them down.

Adam Grant writes at The Atlantic, “Why So Many Men Don’t Stand Up for Their Female Colleagues“:

The traditional explanation is sexism. Psychologists Peter Glick and Susan Fiske have eloquently highlighted two different kinds of sexist ideologies that cause men to justify gender inequality and resist sharing their power and wealth. “Hostile sexists” believe that men are superior beings who deserve to rule the world. “Benevolent sexists” are more pro-women—just not in leadership. They view women as beautiful, fragile creatures who ought to be protected by men, not be followed by men. And, of course, some men are comfortable with the status quo: They’d like to preserve hierarchies—particularly those they benefit from—rather than destabilize them.

Although there’s little doubt that these reasons prevent some men from being better advocates for the women around them, a more subtle cause has been overlooked. Some men want to voice their support, but fear that no one will take them seriously because they lack a vested interest in the cause.

Liam Croy at the West Australian writes, “Review rejects Hawkins appeal“:

Ms Hawkins, who has osteogenesis imperfecta or “brittle bone disease”, was working as a Legal Aid lawyer until her contract ended in February.

The 33-year-old reapplied for the disability pension while she tried to find a new job – no easy task, given her severe physical restrictions.

Much to her surprise, her claim was rejected last month on grounds she was not impaired enough.

A Self Made Woman writes, “On Being Cissed, or, The Night That Janet Mock Mistook Me for Cisgendered“:

To be cissed is to feel like your world isn’t yours. It feels like a hand has reached across time to shove that part of you that didn’t know if you could or should, and tell him, her that he, she doesn’t exist. To be cissed is for your tribe to cast you out without knowing it, leave you to languish in that dark place between who you are and who they think you are.

Cameron Kunde at Affect Magazine writes, “The Bisexual Block“:

That same year, the nonprofit advocacy group BiNET USA (http://www.binetusa.org) reached out to Google when it discovered that the word bisexual was blocked from Google’s autocomplete function. When you type in gay, lesbian, or transgender, Google will automatically suggest common searches pertaining to those terms. When you type in bisexual, however, you get a blank screen.

In the five years since, Google has responded more than once by blaming algorithms, saying that the search term bisexual is blocked from the auto-complete feature because of a high correlation to pornography. This logic is highly flawed because a search for “gay porn” yields over 400 million more results, and “lesbian porn” yields over 20 million more results than a search for “bisexual porn”. The terms gay and lesbian are undoubtedly used to search for porn more frequently than the term bisexual. In 2012, Google announced that it had unblocked the word and suggested that phrases would soon pop up like “bisexual quotes”, “bisexual rights”, and “bisexual parenting”. It has been over two years since this announcement and the term bisexual continues to yield an auto-complete void.

Foz Meadows at shattersnipe: malcontent & rainbows writes, “Silence Is Not Synonymous With Uproar: A Response To John C. Wright“:

Do you see the issue? You cannot state, as your opening premise, that SFF fandom is being handicapped by silence and an unwillingness to speak out, and then support that premise by stating the exact polar opposite: that there has, in your own words, been vocal uproarDoubtless, what Wright meant to imply is that the persons against whom the uproar is directed are being silenced by it – that he, and others like him, such as Larry Correia and Theodore Beale, are now suffering under the burden of enforced quietude. But given that all three men are still writing publicly and vocally, not just about the issues Wright raises, but about any number of other topics, the idea that their output is being curtailed by their own “unwillingness to speak for fear of offending” is patently false. Indeed, by their own repeated admission, Correia, Beale and Wright are wholly unafraid of causing offence, even sometimes going so far as to seek outraged reactions. So if Wright and his fellows proudly don’t care about being offensive, then who does: who really fears to speak? By untangling the nonsensical web that is Wright’s attempt at logic, a paradoxical answer emerges: that the people who actually do care about causing offence – the apparent victims of silence - are simultaneously the same gossipy, vocal detractors responsible for silencing… ourselves, as it turns out. Where “silence” is a synonym for “uproar”.

At A Paper Bird, “Too brown to be heard: The Brunei brouhaha“:

I’ve said my bit on the recent burst of outrage over Brunei here, at PolicyMic. Briefly, I wrote that despite the exclusivist furor in the US and UK over the “antigay” impact of the measure, shari’a is much more likely to affect the rights of women. And I said that Western activists’ reluctance to acknowledge the multiple dimensions of the issue, much less the pioneering work of women’s rights activists across southeast Asia, was a disgrace.

I got some nods, some hate mail, and more than the usual amount of incomprehension. I had an argument on Twitter (an oxymoron, anyway), with an eminently earnest man who responded to me at complete crosspurposes. Why, I kept asking, wouldn’t you check with women’s groups or sexual rights activists across the region, who have experience with context and culture, in planning a boycott? “There are no LGBT groups in Brunei,” he kept answering, as if this meant there was no one to talk to about the issue anywhere except Los Angeles or London: no relevant expertise outside his postal code. Meanwhile, the tempest kept growing. Britain’s chief LGBT lobby group, Stonewall, declined to endorse a boycott of the Brunei-owned chain of hotels. Its acting head, Ruth Hunt, wrote in the Telegraph: 

We only implement actions that we can calculate will have an impact. … I do, however, fear that the boycott could do very real harm to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people of Brunei. By turning the issue into a battle between gay people and the Sultan – which it isn’t, it affects everyone in Brunei, not just gay people – we limit the opportunity for dialogue and put the lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people of Brunei at far greater risk. A group of people, I hasten to add, who’ve yet to publically call for a boycott.

Lesley at XOJane writes, “It’s Always A Radical Act When A Fat Woman Shares A Picture Of Herself Online“:

In another life, when I had aspirations of being a proper academic, I used to give guest lectures at colleges and universities. I’d get up in front of rooms full of quarrelsome and bright young adults and present a bare-bones introductory version of the subject in which I’d spent the better part of my life developing my expertise: deep cultural analysis of the ways in which women’s bodies, particularly fat bodies, are represented in media.

Part of my lecture included a comparison between two images. One was an image of four nude women, lounging strategically over one another to cover crotchparts and nipples, taken from Cosmopolitan magazine. The other was an image of a group of nude fat women, from Laurie Toby Edison’s art photography book Women En Large.

Rebecca Moore at The Life and Times of an Exceptionally Tall Mormon writes, “University Study on Sexism In BBC’s Doctor Who (Infographic)“:

Conversations were allowed to pass if they were not centered around a man but did briefly mention one. This was to allow for a companion to be able to mention the Doctor, for example if someone were asking where they were from they could say “Oh, I came here in a box with a man called the Doctor,” and then carried on. Or also perhaps two women discussing something where they may briefly mention their brother, employer, etc. If the mention of the man was removed from the conversation, the purpose of the conversation would still stand. An episode could also pass if the conversation(s) happened in the presence of/with a man as long as it was still between at least two women who were actually conversing with each other (i.e. more than one or two lines and was clearly directed at each other), and about something besides a man. However, conversations where two women were addressing the Doctor (or another man), and not really talking to or acknowledging each other, were not included. This was to allow for three (or more) way conversations, since the test did not say that a man/men observing/participating in the conversation with two or more women disqualified it. A simple address was not considered as a conversation. The women had to have more than a two line exchange. (See end of post for a full list of failed episodes.)

Can you imagine, gentlemen, receiving that threat from a potentially dangerous man whose identity you have no hope of discovering but who knows your name, what city you live in, what you look like and where you work?

Now imagine receiving messages like that from men so frequently that you’re no longer bothered by it.

Now understand how f*cked up it is that you’re no longer bothered by it; that you’re no longer bothered by men’s anonymous threats of brutal sexual violence, because they’ve become just as common as a train not arriving on time.

Read More: Fake Geek Guys: A Message to Men About Sexual Harassment | http://comicsalliance.com/sexual-harassment-online-rape-threats-comics-superheroes-lessons-men-geek-culture/?trackback=tsmclip

Can you imagine, gentlemen, receiving that threat from a potentially dangerous man whose identity you have no hope of discovering but who knows your name, what city you live in, what you look like and where you work?

Now imagine receiving messages like that from men so frequently that you’re no longer bothered by it.

Now understand how f*cked up it is that you’re no longer bothered by it; that you’re no longer bothered by men’s anonymous threats of brutal sexual violence, because they’ve become just as common as a train not arriving on time.

Read More: Fake Geek Guys: A Message to Men About Sexual Harassment | http://comicsalliance.com/sexual-harassment-online-rape-threats-comics-superheroes-lessons-men-geek-culture/?trackback=tsmclip

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The bisexual linkspam of Autumn (May 2014)


I have so much linkspam, as I haven’t done a linkspam round up for ages (I’ve been busy), so I thought I’d do one just on all the bisexuality related news and posts I’ve found.  Sit back, and enjoy the ride.

Will Dean at the Desert Sun writes, “Awareness and acceptance of bisexuality on the rise“:

And this disbelief in bisexuality often leads to its general lack of acceptance. The doubts are especially and, perhaps unexpectedly, pronounced among gay people, many of whom have struggled with having their sexual orientation acknowledged and respected.

“There’s a misconception that bisexuals can’t be trusted in relationships,” says A.J. Walkley, a bisexual woman and activist who lives in Arizona. “If a lesbian is dating a bisexual woman, there’s an underlying fear that she’s going to miss penis at some point and go back to a man. There’s this thought that we can choose, we have the choice of being in a heterosexual relationship or homosexual relationship, that we have straight privilege.”

An academic article, “From Bias to Bisexual Health Disparities: Attitudes Toward Bisexual Men and Women in the United States” by Friedman M. Reuel, Dodge Brian, Schick Vanessa, Herbenick Debby, Hubach Randolph D., Bowling Jessamyn, Goncalves Gabriel, Krier Sarah, and Reece Michael.

Eric Sasson at New Republic writes, “Why Are Americans More Accepting of Gays and Lesbians Than Bisexuals and Cross-Dressers?“:

Cross-dressers aren’t the only members of the LGBT spectrum who trail gays and lesbians in social acceptance: As a recent piece in The New York Times Magazine showed, bisexuals face constant biphobia and even struggle to scientifically prove that bisexuality exists. Despite a greater number of Americans claiming to be bisexual than either gay or lesbian, far more bisexuals are in the closet than their LG counterparts. Straight people have more negative attitudes towards bisexuals than gays and lesbians. These factors have led theorists to coin the phrase “bisexual erasure”: The idea that our society systematically ignores and dismisses bisexual identity.

The Bi Writers Association writes, “Bisexual Book Awards announces finalists“:

Sixty books were nominated to our second Bisexual Book Awards. “We are thrilled that an unprecedented number of bisexual books were nominated this year. No book awards has ever seen 60 bisexual book submissions,” says Sheela Lambert, Director of the Bi Writers Association. The previous record was held by the Lammy Awards, who received 33 nominations to their bisexual book categories in 2011.

Jac at Queereka writes, “Bisexual but not Binary“:

Last year I moved to San Francisco. I spent many hours in queer spaces, and I met many queers, some of whom identified as “bisexual”, despite having lived for years as nonbinary. They explained to me that “bisexual” does not necessarily imply a gender binary any more than hetersexual or homosexual. Take a look at the etymology.

  • “Homosexual” comes from the Greek homos, meaning “same.”
  • “Heterosexual” comes from the Greek heteros, meaning “different,” or “other.”
  • “Bisexual” comes from the Latin bi, meaning “two.”

Two of what? If “homo” is same, and “hetero” is different, we can read “bisexual” as referring to attraction to both same and different. It’s true that during part of its past, “bisexual” was meant as attraction to both sexes. During part of its past, “computer” was used to refer to a mathematician. Language changes.

Nathaniel Frank at Slate writes, “Bisexuality Is Really Not That Complicated“:

On the surface, there’s something perfectly reasonable about defining bisexuality as acts-based. That’s what we do with other identities. Bakers are bakers because they bake. Firemen fight fires. Criminals commit crimes. So bisexuals sleep with both genders, right? But from this simplistic understanding, sloppy stereotypes too easily emerge: Bisexuals must desire both genders equally or they’re not really bi; and if they desire both genders equally, they’ll never be satisfied with monogamy, because they must sleep with someone of each gender consistently to be identifying as bi. Openness to both genders gets redefined as needing both genders. And having a range of desires—which, as Freud pointed out, is the most obvious way to characterize all humans—is reconverted back into the binary our culture just can’t shake: You can like one sex or you can like two equally, but none of this weird spectrum crap.

This is silly. Some feelings and beliefs, as opposed to acts, are considered so profound and enduring that people identify around them regardless of how they behave. Romantic desire may be one of these things. You’re straight or gay even if you’re a virgin. So why not bisexual? Faith is another source of enduring identity, and many religions have their own internal debate about this. Some people don’t consider you a Christian if you don’t, as an act of will, believe in Jesus. Yet I’m a Jew no matter what I do.

Dr. Herukhuti writes at The Bilerico Project, “Bi Erasure Is Psychic Murder: The Quest for Bi Culture“:

That splitting and policing of sexual desire, relationship narrative, and life experience is at the heart of what makes bi erasure a psychic murder. By selecting which loved ones and sexual partners in someone’s life are worthy of being recognized, bi erasure is a violent amputation of a person’s chosen family and community.

The destructive impact of such psychic violence contributes to an environment hostile to bisexuality and bisexuals, evidenced by the existing disparities in poverty, suicide, domestic violence and health among bisexuals. Many bisexuals feel an intense betrayal when gays and lesbians, our brothers and sisters in sexual oppression, participate in bi erasure.

Lyndon Evans writes at Focus on the Rainbow, “The Continuing Bigotry Against Bisexuals In The LGBT Community“:

The announcer was talking about some of the gay Pride parades which had taken place during the day and said to paraphrase, “members of the LGT community came out today to celebrate their Pride.”

Needless to say the announcer and/or writer of the news story was ignorant of the fact that there is more to LGT and bisexuals make up a big part of the community. Here again and this time by a news announcer we were made to be invisible.

 

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My new pledge – no more games with only male characters


I was at work, doing worky things and my ex-intern, but still my minion, shares with me a link for the Kickstarter of Kingdom Come: Deliverance.   He knows I am a gamer, as is he.

I scroll through to see if it is something that I’d enjoy playing or not, and find one of the stretch goals – at raising $600K, the developers will add a “Playable female character”.  This, I should add, is the fourth stretch goal, and the character developed is not the main character, but is a character you can play as part of a memory, or prequel who helps the actual main character, a bloke, end up where he is when the story of the game begins.

Wow, I thought to myself, me and people like me are optional extras for game developers, and that’s when I decided – I will no longer play games where there are only dudes present as options, or where the developers think that playable female characters are only worthy of a stretch goal.

The developers of Kingdom Come: Deliverance were criticised by players and others for their lack of playable female characters, and they fell back on “this is a period game set in Europe in the 15th century, women weren’t heroes” (not an exact quote).

Anyone who knows anything about history knows that women foughtJoan d’Arc was alive and well in the 15th century, and she fought.  Saint Geneveive didn’t fight, but she certainly was active in the fields of war, negotiation, and keeping shit real in Paris in the 5th century.  Then you know there is a proud history of women pirates.

There was nothing stopping the developers saying, “right, the main character is either man or a woman (your choice), but the female character will have to disguise herself as a boy/man because of the environment/culture/time period that this game is set, and may have extra levels of difficulty because of that”, because I’m certain that women often did that, as they do today in places where appearing as a girl or woman can be risky.

But back to my pledge.  I will no longer play a game if the only character options are men, or male anthropomorphised creatures.  From now on, I will only play games that allow the selection of men/women/neuter characters, where the main character is a women, or where the player is effectively an ungendered god (ie myself).  This means that there are plenty of new games that will come highly rated and recommended that I will not play.  I was looking forward to Watch Dogs, but as the only protag in the game is yet another dude, I’m not going to play it.

As it turns out, looking at all the games in my play list, and on the shelf, the ones I’m most likely to play are those with options for different gendered characters, so it’s not like my pledge is going to be hard personally – but imagine if lots of people made this pledge.  Imagine if we as consumers forced gaming companies to actually portray women and girls as active story-tellers in their own lives?  Imagine if women and girls were not sexualised objects, or Ms Men, or motivations for male characters to do other things – how much richer stories would be told then?

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The legacy we leave


I’m a strong believer that we should leave the world, and the people we touch (as much as possible) in a better state than we found it.  We should not pass our damage down onto our children, but lesssen or remove it as possible.  Every generation should hopefully be better than the last.  And I see that (with the exception of politics) that many of the people I know, love, interact with, and read about seem to at least feel the same way.

Fiona O’Loughlin is one of my favourite comedians.  I love her stories, her honesty and most recently her book, “Me of the Never Never“.  There was one passage in particular that resonated with me:

As you cross the Todd River, Aborigines are in full view always, sometimes drinking, sometimes fighting, but mostly just sitting.  I think it would be fair to say that it is usually in the car when you’re crossing the river that urban Alice Springs kids, black or white, will ask their parents for the first time about the Aborigines in the river.

‘Why do those people sit in the river all the time?’

To my mind it is a crucial question that requires a crucial answer and it can go either way.

‘Because they’re drunks.’

‘Because they’re bludgers.’

‘Because they’re no-hopers.’

I guess, as is often the case, racism comes as much from ignorance as malice, but right at that moment you can either pass on intolerance or not, and it’s such a heavy load to hand onto a little kid.  A kid that may well spend his or her life in Central Australia has been given with authority a very heavy sack of fat, pompous, pious prejudice.

‘Why do those people sit in the river all the time?’

‘I don’t know, maybe they’re waiting.’

‘Waiting for what?’

‘Waiting for better days, I think.’

Simple.

And I thought after reading that passage, “Yes, that’s exactly it – we shouldn’t pass racism, homophobia, biphobia, transphobia, queerphobia, or sexism onto children.”  We should shelter them as much as possible from these things, let them know that they exist, because otherwise it’d be a nasty shock when they encounter them, but to not teach our prejudices to our children.

Of course, this is really a hard thing to do.  Easy for me to say as a woman who hasn’t managed to successfully have children, hard for a parent whose children want to know what their parents thoughts are on various issues.  I don’t envy parents in this regard.

But if we could shelter children from the structural sexism, racism, and homo, bi, trans* and queer phobias that exist in society, or at least get them to question themselves and others when these things are presented as facts wouldn’t that make the world a better place?

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Biphobia in allegedly inclusive spaces


So there is a queer film festival in Canberra and NSW starting soon called shOUT.  I’m all for film festivals, particularly queer ones that show the entire LGBTIQ community as fully realised people who live interesting, dull, full, empty, happy, sad, sexy, and unfulfilled lives.  Because unsurprisingly we’re just like everyone else, we however are a small percentage of the population that has same sex attraction, or who doesn’t fit in with the gender binary, or with the gender that they were born with, or whose gender was undetermined at birth.

And then I saw this poster:

ShOUT! gay, lesbian & trans film festival

Where are the bisexuals I asked?  Sadly, I wasn’t convinced that leaving out bisexuals on the poster was entirely an accident, though it would be hard to argue that they didn’t have the space to fit it in, because as a queer film festival, and one that had used the #LGBT hashtag, they clearly knew that bisexuals exist, and yet made a conscious choice to not include us.

And while writing this post, shOUT confirms in a tweet to me that they left off bisexuals in the poster because homophobia allegedly includes biphobia (I get a tad annoyed/sweary in the exchange).   And then they sent me an email after I used their “Contact us” form to ask them WTF:

We fully recognise bisexuality and do use the term “LGBT” where possible. However, we have chosen not to recognise “biphobia” or bisexuality in our communications as we believe (as does IDAHOT) that biphobia is inherently included under homophobia – as the phobic responses exhibited by persons toward those whom are bisexual are not in response to the heterosexual relationships those people maintain, but the same-sex (homosexual) relationships they maintain.

We do not intend to cause offense and we certainly do not mean to exclude. The festival is actually aimed at the heterosexual community as well as the LGBTQI community and therefore we need to find a midpoint in the language we use to communicate with both communities. We in no way mean to marginalise or sideline any sexuality or gender however the inclusion of bisexual would also require that we include intersex, queer/questioning, asexual and pansexual which are also part of the community acronym… and its very hard to have any artwork or communications that is headed by

“The 3rd Annual shOUT! Gay, Lesbian , Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex, Queer, Questioning, Asexual, Pansexual Film Festival”

“…chosen to not recognise “biphobia” or bisexuality”

Just let that sink in for a moment.  An organisation that is hosting a queer film festival, one that allegedly represents the entire QUILTBAG community, chose to not recognise bisexuality or biphobia because marketing and well bisexuals only face homophobia, not biphobia from within our own community.

Now I completely disagree with IDAHOT that biphobia is under the umbrella of homophobia, and any inclusive organisation would also.  Biphobia is a completely separate and distinct phobia from homophobia, and one that bisexuals face from within the LGBTIQ (mostly LG) community, as well as from the wider straight community.  From the UK Bisexuality Report:

Homophobia, heterosexiam and heteronormativity

When tackling biphobia it is important to remember that, like lesbians, gay men, and anybody else who identifies as outside of heterosexuality, bisexual people are also subject to homophobia, heterosexism and heteronormativity. Heterosexual people can also be subject to homophobia and biphobia in cases where their sexuality is misread.

Homophobia consists of negative attitudes towards those with ‘same-gender’ attractions and relationships, expressed as anger, disgust, fear, or other negative emotions. It includes hate crimes, workplace discrimination, the use of the word ‘gay’ as an insult, and the perpetuation of negative stereotypes of LGB people. Institutionalised homophobia is where whole structures, organisations or societies are homophobic.

Bisexual people may also be more likely than heterosexual people to be subject to transphobia and cisgenderism (attacking or discriminating against those who transgress the perceived gender binaries, or making assumptions about how men and women should appear or behave). This is because bisexuality, in itself, is seen by some as a gender transgression, in that it is not conforming to conventions of femininity (for women) and masculinity (for men) which involve being attracted to ‘the other gender’. In addition (and more so than lesbian and gay sexuality) attraction to more than one gender can be seen as challenging the gender binary for those bisexual people who do not distinguish people on the basis of gender.

Biphobia

Biphobia refers to negative attitudes, behaviours and structures specifically directed towards anyone who is attracted to more than one gender. Biphobia is perpetuated in common representations of bisexual people (see above) and attitudes towards bisexual people are often found to be even more negative than those towards other minority groups. A related idea is ‘monosexual privilege’ which refers to the privilege experienced by all those whose (stated) attraction is to only one gender.

Bisexual invisibility

  • Referring to ‘homophobia’ rather than ‘homophobia and biphobia’ when speaking of negative attitudes, behaviours and structures in relation to LGB people.

Bisexual exclusion

  • Claiming to speak for LGB, or LGBT people, and then failing to include ‘B’ in the name or mission statement of a group, neglecting bisexual-specific issues, and/or dropping the ‘B’ within materials.

Bisexual marginalisation

  • Prioritising lesbian and/or gay issues over bisexual issues.
  • Failing to engage with bisexual individuals or groups in relation to policy and practice.

Double discrimination

Another issue specific to biphobia is double discrimination: the fact that bisexual people can be discriminated against both by heterosexuals and by lesbian and gay people. Both groups can be suspicious of bisexual partners (fearing that they will be left for someone of the ‘other gender’) and assume that bisexual people will be a threat to their relationships. Some lesbian and gay people may also feel threatened if they have any ‘other gender’ attraction themselves and are faced with the tough prospect of a second ‘coming out’ if they were to identify as bisexual. Also, some people can feel that the existence of bisexuality ‘muddies the water’ in a way which calls into question the basis on which they have fought for their rights.

It can be particularly difficult for bisexual people when they are excluded from, or rejected by, lesbian and gay individuals or groups where they had expected to find safety and community. Common historical examples of such exclusions include having to fight to be allowed to take part in pride marches, being relegated to the back of such marches, and having no bisexual people on the stage alongside the lesbian, gay and trans people there. Some gay clubs and services have also had gay-only door policies meaning that bisexual people have been forced to lie if they want to participate. … the legacy remains among bisexual people accessing services today, and there is still fear among UK bisexual people that they will be rejected if they attempt to engage with LGBT groups.

From where I’m sitting, shOUT’s refusal to recognise bisexuality and biphobia is looking very biphobic.

Let’s take a look at the rest of their website.  Firstly I think it’s great that they’ve included trans* people in their marketing material, however they do completely bollocks that up in the first paragraph on their home page though:

shOUT it OUT! The shOUT Gay & Lesbian Film Festival is returning for its 3rd year in 2014. A whole month of the best queer cinema from around the world to make you cry, cackle and cringe.

Yes, I’m cringing already, because we’ve gone from LGT to LG – and that’s a bad and worrying sign.

Their IDAHO page fares a little better, it mentions both trans*phobia and intersexphobia – something their email suggested that they’d not include… so I’m confused.

The aim of the shOUT film festival is to create awareness that, although rights for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Intersex (LGBTQI) individuals has progressed substantially in Australia, many peoples attitudes have not changed – leading to homophobia, transphobia and intersex-phobia in workplaces, schools, public and even at home.

shOUT made a conscious decision to not include bisexuals, because then they’d have to include other groups, and instead of using an umbrella term such as “queer” they decided that excluding potentially the largest group of the LGBTIQ community, because it was convenient.

I’m not in Canberra or  NSW, so I can’t not attend this event in order to demonstrate my displeasure at their response to me regarding bisexuality and biphobia.  However, with my Bi-Alliance President hat on, I will be approaching the committee and asking what we’re going to do about this.  I strongly encourage you to write to shOUT and ask WTF regarding their policy of choosing not to recognise bisexuals and biphobia, particularly if you live in NSW and had been planning to attend.

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Men are mourned, women mourn


My trip through parts of Europe last year really drilled home how little importance has been placed on the lives of women throughout history.  In Italy, church after church had funerary monuments dedicated to important men, with statues of women mourning around the monument.  Women, when they existed at all, had small plaques outside the church.  Only men were important, women were decorations.  This shouldn’t be all that surprising, but after having previously travelled through Germany and France where prominent women are more likely to have been acknowledged, even if not at the same level as the powerful men, it did come as a shock.

In Cologne, Germany, some Abbesses had funerary monuments inside churches, and many of the men buried inside the churches were either prominent priests or bishops, or Kings/Lords of the region (sometimes both, Cologne is odd).

In France, there are less people buried inside churches, but there were still some recognition of prominent women, St Genevieve (Patron Saint of Paris) and Joan d’Arc in particular.

On one hand, it’s tempting to say that this is all in the past, that women are now (more) equal with men and therefore if those same churches were built today that there would be far more women recognised.  However, I don’t think that is true.  In Paris, the honour to be interred at the Parthanon goes by far more to men than to women.

President François Hollande, who had been strongly urged for more than a year to add more women to those awarded the honor of burial in the Panthéon, named two women on Friday — but also two men.

In doing so, he disappointed feminist groups and others who had lobbied on behalf of an array of women and who wanted to see only women added this time.

The Panthéon, a huge building in one of the oldest parts of Paris, has been the nation’s monument to worthy historical figures since the French Revolution. Of the 73 people honored there, 71 are men and include figures like the philosophers Voltaire and Jean-Jacques Rousseau, as well as Louis Braille, who invented a system of reading for the blind. Marie Curie is the only woman to make it on her own merits (the other was included at her husband’s insistence). [New York Times]

Yes, the Parthanon is not a new institution, and so the number of men will outweigh the number of women, but there are many prominent women in France that have not been recognised for their contribution to that country.

But have things really changed since the Renaissance and the French Revolution?  Are things much better in Australia, a nation that prides itself on being much more egalitarian?  Sadly no.  Australia was Federated in 1901, which is when we became a country and not a collection of smaller countries/states that struggled separately.  Women won suffrage shortly after that (1902) Federally, and then the States had to follow (though South Australia and Western Australia led the way granting suffrage to women before Federation).

This means that when someone prominent dies, someone who has contributed to society in a meaningful way (usually politics, sport, military service, arts, philantrophy, etc) the Government (State or Federal) will offer the family a State Funeral.  Now remember that Australia is egalitarian, but not equal.  Women’s involvement in the public sphere is still relatively recent, so there are less known prominent women in Australia than men.

That said, the number of women who have been offered State Funerals is really very low.  Most recently, State Funerals have been offered to Dame Elisabeth Murdoch, AC DBE, Hazel Hawke, AO and Margaret Whitlam, AO (whose family turned the offer down).

Some prominent Australian women have either not had offers made, nor had their request for a State Funeral accepted.  Janet Powell, AM, former leader of the Australian Democrats, and the second woman in Australia to lead a political party, was refused a State Funeral in 2013.

In the last few weeks of her life, a number of women assisted Janet’s family to make a formal request to the Victorian Premier for a State Funeral for Janet.

It was refused. We were told it was a Federal matter. And so we went back to the Prime Minister’s department. Time was of the essence. Finally came the ever-so-polite email.  Apparently it has not been customary for successive Australian governments to accord a former leader of a recognised minority party with a State Funeral. The email went on to say that occasionally a distinguished Australian is recognised, who has made an outstanding contribution to Australian society. Not surprisingly, the names given were all men.

In our social history thus far, few women have been accorded the fitting honour of a State Funeral. Such tributes customarily have been made for major party leaders, Ministers, Chief Justices, footballers, racing car drivers and yes, wait for it, many other – men.

Edith Cowan, MBE, Australia’s first elected woman to Parliament was not offered a State Funeral.  Vida Goldstein, the first woman in the British Empire to stand for election into a National Parliament, and who worked tirelessly for feminism and suffrage, was not offered a State Funeral.  May Holman, the first female ALP politician in Australia, who served as MP for 14 years before her untimely death in a car accident, was not offered a State Funeral.  Dame Annie Florence Gillies Cardell-Oliver, DBE, who until recently held the record for the longest sitting woman Parliamentarian, was not offered a State Funeral.  Dame Nellie Melba, one of Australia’s greatest performers, was not offered a State Funeral.  Queensland’s first female politicians, Irene Maud Longman, who was barred from using the Parliamentary dining room, and who had to cope with the fact that there were not female toilets in Parliament House, was not offered a State Funeral.  Victoria’s first woman elected to Parliament, Lady Millie Gertrude Peacock was not offered a State Funeral.  The first Victorian woman in Federal Parliament, and co-founder of the Aborigines Advancement League, Doris Black, was not offered a State Funeral.  Margaret Edgeworth David McIntyre, OBE, the first woman elected to the Tasmanian Legislative Council was not offered a State Funeral.

This is not to say that women haven’t been offered State Funerals, but they seem to be exceptions to the norm.  The earliest offer of a State Funeral to an Australian woman that I could find (it was turned down by the family) was to Emma Miller in 1917.  Other State Funerals include:

  • Dame Enid Lyons, AD GBE – The first woman to be elected to the Australian House of Representatives and the first woman appointed to Federal Cabinet.
  • Dame Mary Gilmore, DBE – An Australian literary icon and the first writer to be accorded a State Funeral since Henry Lawson’s death.
  • Joan Child, AO – First woman to be the Speaker of the Australian House of Representatives
  • Dame Annabelle Jane Mary Rankin, DBE – the second woman member of the Australian Senate, the first woman from Queensland to sit in the Parliament of Australia, the first Australian woman to have a federal portfolio and the first Australian woman to be appointed head of a foreign mission.
  • Janine Haines, AM – the first female federal parliamentary leader of an Australian political party, the Australian Democrats. She was also the first member of that party to enter the federal parliament after the party’s formation.
  • Dame Roma Flinders Mitchell, AC, DBE, CVO, QC – first female Governor in South Australia (and probably all of Australia), and more kick arse than you can imagine.

All together I could only find evidence for 8 State Funerals conducted for prominent Australian women, and 2 funerals that were offered but were declined by the families of the deceased.  I’m sure I’ve missed some in my afternoon of research, but it seems rather unbalanced that there are only 10 easily found State Funerals for women.  In Australia as in the rest of the world, men are mourned and women mourn them.

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