Welcome to the 71st Down Under Feminists’ Carnival

Welcome to this, the 71st DUFC.  Do you know what that means?  It means that we’ve been doing this for quite a long time and that it’s lots of fun.  Thank you so much to Chally for organising these and providing me with some submissions, and to Mindy and Mary for sending me many submissions.  Any omissions are my own, and if I missed a great post you made this month (and you’re a feminist writer from Australia and New Zealand), please let us know about it in the comments.

International Women’s Day

Heidi La Paglia writes at NUS Women’s Department, “International Women’s Day and the Continued Importance of Feminism“:

In the last few decades’ women around the world have come a long way in their progress towards gaining autonomy and equality with men. In Australia alone, the successes are almost countless. Changes in legislation have allowed women to access affordable means of contraception, join the workforce in areas previously dominated by men and follow aspirations apart from getting married and having children. BUT… while women HAVE come a long way in their fight for emancipation, there are still many goals we’re yet to met [sic].

Christina Ryan at intersectionalitytimes writes, “Reflections on International Women’s Day 2014 (or the only X in the village)“:

Can these women speak for the 1 in 5 of their Australian sisters who have disabilities? No, and nor should they. Just as they shouldn’t speak for our Aboriginal sisters, or our LGBTI or culturally diverse sisters. The experiences of women of diversity are different and relevant. We bring enormous depth and difference to any conversation on any issue. Most importantly we aren’t just focussed on our own space. Just as women generally will talk about finance, geopolitical events, and architecture (for example), and not just stick to childcare or maternity leave. Women of diversity will talk about finance, geopolitical events and architecture, but we will talk about them with very different eyes and understanding.

Betty Taylor at One Voice in the Crowd writes, “Tony Abbott A Feminist …Delusional Thinking“:

What a ridiculous statement. Abbott refers to a handful of women who have had various measures of success in attaining prominent public roles. The success of a few women does not mean that gender equality has been achieved for all women. Abbott also fails to acknowledge his own role in the public abuse & humiliation of Australia’s first female Prime Minister, Julia Gillard. When one woman is abused and degraded, all women become vulnerable targets.

Kimberley Ramplin at The Referral writes, “It is about feminism…“:

Third wave feminism is a reaction against the second wave ignoring the voices and agency of women of colour, differing abilities or gender identification.  In scorning the third wave, Hardy scorns the Ciceronian legacy she professes to admire; for we move further along the path of ‘kindness, generosity, goodness and justice’ through welcoming and celebrating diverse voices, not mocking or ignoring them.  Hardy’s column is a strange exercise in confirmation bias: ‘my weltanschauung* is better than yours and I am here to liberate you’; yet most of her criticism is reserved for middle-class, white, female feminists.  Yes, she is correct in using the dread ‘socialism’ tag twice in four paragraphs: International Women’s Day was started by groups of European socialists.  In 1911, more than one million women and men attended IWD rallies in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland, campaigning for women’s rights to work, vote, be trained, to hold public office and end discrimination.  I’ll repeat that for the peanut gallery: women AND men joined together to give birth to this crypto-socialist feminista wankfest.  A week later, the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire claimed the lives of 140 women in New York City, cementing labour standards and working conditions as a key angle of future IWD observances.

New Matilda writes, “Why You Should Know About These Women“:

But what about the underrated women, the quiet achievers, and the historical figures whose contributions laid the foundations for others?

Who should we know more about this International Women’s Day? New Matilda asked 10 women for their recommendations.

Kath at Fat Heffalump writes, “Happy International Women’s Day!“:

You see that’s what misogyny is.  It’s the myth of “femininity”.  The myth that womanhood fits one narrow band of features and behaviours, and that womanhood is a competition between the female of our species to appeal to male of our species, and only those that “win” the attention of men are allowed to consider themselves “feminine”.  Femininity is measured by how pleasing a woman is to men – by her appearance, her voice, her behaviour and her sexual availability.

Intersectionality

Aaminah Khan at Days Like Crazy Paving writes, “No such thing as “normal”“:

I am not normal. I am too brown and too female (and femme) and too mentally ill and too queer to be normal. Most of the people I know aren’t normal. And every time one of us tries – usually so that we might get that job we really want or a place on that guest speaker list or a piece of writing published or just acceptance into a new circle of friends – we find that the goalposts have shifted. Because the big secret about normal is that it’s whatever the people oppressing you want it to be. You can never meet the standard, because the standard will change with the specific goal of making you fall short yet again.

Transcendancing writes at The Conversationalist, “Queerness and Midwifery“:

Where I find my experience of studying midwifery stands out next to my classmates and teachers around me is my acute awareness of my queerness. I have moments of feeling apprehensive, of worrying about my queerness in the context of midwifery. I worry about fitting in with my classmates and with my future colleagues, though really this is just the uncertainty of a new situation speaking. By now, I am quite practised at navigating outward queerness and ordinariness in new group situations. Largely, I think queerness stands out to me only because my gendered experience, for possibly the first time ever, does not stand out to me at all.

Saman Shad at Ideas At The House writes, “Intersectionality and why we need it“:

While intersectionality has certainly proven to be a divisive issue amongst feminists I feel it is something that very much needs to be discussed and adopted by the wider feminist community. Feminism used to mostly be the domain of white, educated, middle-class women. Issues that needed to be targeted by feminism were hashed out by smaller groups, generally in academic circles. Now, however, with the rise of social media, feminism has been somewhat democratized – all women are deciding what issues matter and are relevant to them.

Jo at A Life Unexamined writes, “The Reality of Disadvantage“:

It was here that I started to question some of the things going on. Many of the things my group chose to represent as attributes of an ideal ambassador were straightforward: friendliness, organisational skills, patience, enthusiasm. Thinking of the emphasis on low socio-economic areas and Indigenous students, I threw in ‘cultural sensitivity’ and ‘awareness of own privilege’ – two things I think lie at the basis of any social justice-type work. But as soon as I said the word ‘privilege’ left my mouth, I was shot down. My fellow group members frowned at me. ‘I don’t think that’s necessary,’ one girl said. ‘Surely everyone is unique and has challenges of their own?’ Well, yes, I thought. But there’s a difference between individual challenges and institutionalised or generational disadvantage. But I could sense the hostility, so I said ‘ok, I won’t add it then,’ and we moved on.

Relationships

Sydney Jones at wom*news writes, “Preview of Upcoming Zine “Injustices and Inequalities”“:

I don’t even have to make up a hypothetical situation here to explain to you how these conversations play out after I politely message back, telling the man I’m not interested. 8 times out of 10, he will ask something along the lines of “Why not?”. I sincerely feel that I should not have to answer that question. If I’m in a bar and a guy starts to talk to me, I will make it clear if I’m not interested. I’ll tell him I have to go or show him with body language. But online, you have to be more direct. I do have to say “No.”

Jo has started a new blog/space called The Asexuality Story Project, allowing people to submit biographical stories about their journey from around the world.

Orlando at Hoyden About Town writes, “Friday Hoyden: Hortense Mancini“:

In the middle of the 17th Century, an Italian noblewoman brought her five daughters to Paris, where her brother had acquired a position of enormous political power, with the intention of finding them all illustrious husbands. They were pretty, educated, noble, wildly intelligent and gracious good company, so this wasn’t a difficult task in itself. A good marriage on paper, however, bears so little relationship to what the experience of it will be. The five Mancini sisters and their two cousins, nieces of the highly influential Cardinal Mazarin, were collectively referred to at court as “Les Mazarinettes”, which tells us how little France appears to have changed in four hundred-odd years. Hortense Mancini was her uncle’s favourite, and was made his heir. She was married at fifteen to one of the richest men in Europe, who turned out to be an obsessive, violent, controlling abuser.

Media

AlisonM at The Hand Mirror writes, “Pregnant and Headless“:

Stock images were born of marketing — trying to get particular groups of people to buy stuff; or to illustrate company annual reports, brochures, political party propaganda. The images are selected, as scholar Paul Frosh explains it in a paper aptly titled “Inside the Image Factory”, “in accordance with the classificatory regimes employed by advertising and marketing discourse to specify meanings and target audiences (most fundamentally class, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, and age)”. He goes on to point out that the ethical question raised by this is connected to representational power, in particular “the inability of certain groups to control representation of themselves or even to be represented at all.”

Over at the news with nipples, “The special women’s section“:

Making an explicit effort to include women’s voices in the news is an excellent idea, but it is a terrible idea to put them in a special section that men will never read. It’s the same complaint I have about Daily Life (another complaint being that the content is often indistinguishable from the lifestyle and entertainment sections), and about the All About Women Festival at the Opera House, where well-off women will pay to see other well-off women talk about stuff they already agree with. Some of the festival will be interesting – Ilwad Elman and Mona Eltahawy are speaking – but is unlikely to lead to any real change because it’s pitched as an event for women. Don’t get me wrong, I think there’s a lot of benefit in women talking with each other about how to change things, and in writing for each other about our opinions and lives. We do that all the time, and I enjoy it and learn a lot from it. But if cultural change is the goal, then it won’t happen this way.

Liz Barr writes at No Award, “Secrets & Lies“:

My blurb:

Manpain. No sympathetic adult women.  One person of colour, unsympathetic.  The hero has never read a detective novel ever, and is following the How To Look Totally Suss playbook.

Nevertheless, the mystery is interesting and I like the setting, so I’m probably going to keep watching.  And blogging.

Rebecca Shaw writes at The King’s Tribune, “Relatable Relationships“:

Not only am I a lesbian (which means I am a woman, in case you hadn’t realised), I am also a FAT woman (not to be confused with my alter ego Fatwoman, who is like Batman except she spends all her money on parties). In the same way that being a lesbian has defined certain aspects of my life, being a fat person in this society has as well. For me, as a privileged and white fat lesbian, the anti-fat sentiment I have experienced my entire life has been more pervasive and damaging than any amount of direct homophobia I have encountered (so far). Don’t get me wrong; they are both REALLY fun to experience, and they have a lot in common, especially when it comes to media representation. If you try to list all the thin, white actresses who have ever played a straight character on television or in movies, you would be here for days and days and eventually your colleagues would call the police because they would be concerned that something had happened to you because you weren’t annoying them at work. And something WOULD have happened to you – you would have had died of starvation and dehydration, but not before realizing that in the big picture, almost all women in movies and TV are thin, white and heterosexual. The number of lesbians on screen compared to their prevalence in actual society is low. The number of fat women on screen compared to their prevalence in actual society is INSANELY UNJUSTIFIABLY low.

Avril E Jean at Becoming Avril E Jean, Artist writes, “Why ‘The Big Bang Theory’ utterly fails to describe Geek and Nerd culture“:

I come from geek culture. I identify as a geek, I’m a massive massive geek. I’ve been in FOME, MURP, and the SCA. All my friends are both female and males. My collection of star trek and wars figures is actually slightly embarrassing. I watch SF, I read it, and I will get involved in a discussion about Babylon 5 at the drop of a hat. THERE ARE HUNDREDS OF WOMEN LIKE ME.  All my female friends are equally geeky. Geeky girls like geeky boys and there is a lot of dating and going out and socializing.  This stuff just is not shown on that TV show.

Repro Justice

Julie at the Hand Mirror writes, ““Choose Life” is not about choice; it’s about force“:

There’s a new campaign by one of my least favourite lobby groups (Family First in case you were wondering), which is encouraging people to wear special pink and blue ribbons to say “Choose Life,” by which they mean don’t have abortions.

The use of the word “choose” implies that Family First is asking people to make a choice.  But in fact what they actually want to do is take away the very choice they are supposedly promoting.

Julie at the Hand Mirror also writes, “The fundamentally anti-women notion at the heart of anti-abortion campaigns laid bare“:

Let’s be clear; this example shows us precisely what the opposition to abortion are all about: denying those with uteruses power over their own bodies, and encouraging those who aren’t pregnant to hold sway over those who are.  Most of the time that is going to be a woman disempowered, harassed, upset, abused, and a man taking power, harassing, hectoring, abusing.  And that is fundamentally anti-women.

Lauren Ingram writes at Birdee, “THIS IS WHAT MY ABORTION WAS LIKE“:

The morning of my abortion, I got dressed in comfortable clothes and my boyfriend drove us to the clinic. Despite the time, around 7am I think, there were protestors out of the front of the building. They were all white, over 60, praying loudly and holding signs. Their mere presence infuriated me and I resolved to let them have it if they said anything to us. Somehow they ignored us (maybe we didn’t look enough like we were going to get an abortion?) and we walked right in.

tigtog writes at Hoyden About Town, “Debate vs Inquiry and “Reasonable Debate” as a silencing tactic“:

As Greta also notes, most arguments based on fetal personhood fail to engage with the unconscious violinist analogy: since one cannot be compelled to donate the use of one’s tissues/organs to a born person who will die without them, not even if their survival is dependent upon oneself and oneself alone, not even if one caused their fatal condition, then (again) what is the justification for making abortion a special case?

Mary at Hoyden About Town writes, “Fetal personhood in NSW: “an issue that should be of serious concern to all of us”

Megan Clement-Couzner writes at New Matilda, “Are The Abortion Wars About To Begin?

Are these just the demented bleatings of a fringe-dwelling religious right? Yes and no. While Australia is overwhelmingly pro-choice, the attack in Victoria came from Liberal MP Bernie Finn. In the NT, the Attorney General has proposed laws that criminalise pregnant women who drink alcohol. In NSW, a female Liberal member is sponsoring Zoe’s Law in the upper house. ‘Zoe’ was the unborn daughter of NSW woman Brodie Donegan, who was struck by a drug-affected driver in 2009. When Zoe died in utero, the driver who caused her death was charged with injury to her mother.

Our Stories

Julie writes at The Hand Mirror, “On her bike“:

It’s actually going well.  I have worked out I have poor balance (I fall off quite a bit, have trouble with take off too), and that’s not all that likely to go away.  I’m also rather scared of going fast, so I use the brakes a lot going downhill.  People smile at me more when I have the basket on, and it’s quite delightful to be able to get around my suburb and a bit further afield and say hello to those I meet on the street; something I could never do in a car.

What I’ve worked out is that when I cycle I feel I am a part of the neighbourhood I’m moving through, with all my senses, as opposed to being separated from it by the steel and glass shell of a car.  And that’s a good feeling.

LGBTIQ

Rebecca Shaw writes at SBS, “Why I don’t care about Fred Phelps“:

The WBC held up a mirror to people undecided on gay rights, and a lot of those people have not liked what they saw. They have caused citizens to band together, groups of bikies to take up the cause, and come together to do things like block the WBC from picketing. Phelps has no power over us. He is nothing. The tiny, mostly-related Westboro Baptist Church is nothing. You should feel no pangs of anything – except worse hunger pangs (I still haven’t had lunch).

Danielle Colley writes a story told her by a mother of a trans* child at Daily Life, “My eight-year-old daughter just wants to be a boy“:

I was driving along in the car recently when my daughter, Ruby*, asked if she could go to the doctor’s and get a penis. She’s eight. My breath caught in my throat, and without taking my eyes off the road, I said I’d have to Google it when I got home.

Parenting and Families

Poor Stevie writes, “oh, baby“:

I mean, all my love and Cheezels to Jodi Gordon and Braith Anasta, but for pretty much every woman I have spoken to about motherhood, their newborn baby did not bring the glowing joy and love this photo depicts. It’s not the couple or their little family I have a problem with – they are all incredibly brave to wear white - it’s the “bundle of joy” bullshit women are force fed.

Race and Racism

Chally Kacelnik writes at Global Comment, “The Australian Aboriginal People With Disabilities Being Held In Prison Without Trial“:

To be frank, I’d be surprised if anyone in Australia is surprised. There’s a long history of disproportionate incarceration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people – who number two per cent of the general population versus a quarter of the prison population – and appalling treatment within the prison system. There have been so many Aboriginal deaths in custody that 1991 saw a royal commission, most of the recommendations from which have not been put in place. As such, deaths have been on the rise in recent years, such as that of Mr Ward, an Aboriginal elder who died from being transported in an extremely hot prison van by Western Australia’s Department of Corrective Services in 2008.

Celeste Liddle writes at Rantings of an Aboriginal Feminist, “Fair-skin privilege? I’m sorry, but things are much more complicated than that“:

Additionally, whilst I never denied skin colour as a marker, and whilst I also don’t deny the existence of some fair skin privilege in the some ways, what about visiting the concept of “migrant privilege”? The White Australia Policy existed until the early 1980s yet from the 1940s onwards, following the impacts of wars, it was chipped away at bit by bit. Non-white immigrants were eventually accepted into the country in various “waves” to the point of Malcolm Fraser openly supporting multiculturalism and opening up the refugee programmes to many Asian nations. This country has gone so far backward since this time with elections being won on the basis of “stopping the boats” that I am disgusted to live in it. Yet, here’s the thing: my father, despite being born in this country and having ancestors that had been born in this country for roughly 4000 generations, was not counted in the census as a citizen of this country until he was 17 years old. This is why I have problems with the term “First Australians”. Each successive wave of immigrants became Australians before the First Peoples, regardless of skin colour, were recognised as human beings. Therefore, migrant communities, whilst actively discriminated against by other Australians and enduring vast poverty, racism, ostracism and countless other things, also had more rights in this country than the First Peoples.

Aaminah Khan at Days Like Crazy Paving writes, “Fairy tales for privileged kids: “the anti-white racist”“:

See, racism isn’t just about prejudice. Is it possible for non-white people to be prejudiced against white people? Sure. I mean, I don’t know about you, but if I lived in a community where land and house prices were soaring because of gentrification, leading to me having to give up my home, I’d probably be a little prejudiced against the people driving me out onto the street. If I were to be looked over for a promotion because my boss didn’t want a non-white person being a public face of the company, I’d probably be a little prejudiced against the people who made the decision that a non-white spokesperson would seem too threatening to be effective. If my son were, say, shot dead in cold blood by a white man who was then found not guilty of murder because my son was walking home on his own wearing a hoodie, then…yeah, I guess I’d probably be a little prejudiced against the assholes who ensured my son’s killer was never brought to justice.

So yeah, non-white people can be prejudiced against whites.

Can they be racist against whites? Nope.

Jennifer Wilson at No Place for Sheep writes, “The unbearable ignorance of Tim Wilson, Human Rights Commissioner for *Freedom*“:

Everyone, Mr Wilson asserts ought to be allowed to use the term “nigger,” for example, because it is widely used in black communities. Wilson reveals his monumental ignorance and gobsmacking stupidity, through either his incompetent or  deliberate misunderstanding of the difference in the meaning of that term, when used within communities or by outsiders.

This dangerous call for absolute free speech favours only white people, and only certain highly privileged white men are demanding it. Wilson’s call for “personal responsibility” in this matter is ridiculous. There are matters society cannot afford to leave to an individual’s sense of “personal responsibility” and as has been proven over and over and over again, hate speech is one of them.

Poverty

Kath at Kath-Homeless writes, “Understanding Homelessness in Australia“:

I have spoken to so many people that have opened up to me in the last few weeks it is fantastic. Many have or know people that have been homeless. I hear so many different versions it is amazing how common it is. People that have lost their jobs, family members, housing due to bills, deaths, or as a youth or in their younger years. But all I have spoken to have recovered from it. I am having trouble doing that at the moment because of having car problems, money stolen from me, health and car insurance costs and general living car expense. It is very hard to do on newstart. People do not want people that don’t work or a struggling in their share accommodation and if so it is quite unaffordable if you are not employed. Many will say well others are doing it. Yes many are they are sharing houses together or living with a pensioner or family. I myself do not want to share a house full of people on the dole just as people do not want to share with me so this is another reason I am homeless.

Politics and Law

Kate Galloway writes at Curl, “Queensland to reintroduce gendered statutory language“:

In this post however, I will examine the legitimacy of a lower profile change proposed by the Bill: the renaming of the head of the CMC from ‘chairperson’ to ‘chairman’. See eg clause 35:

35 Amendment of s 224 (Qualifications for appointment as the chairperson)

(1) Section 224, heading, ‘as the chairperson’—
omit, insert

chairman and deputy chairman

(2) Section 224, ‘chairperson if’—
omit, insert
chairman or deputy chairman if

It would, I imagine, be argued that there is no legal effect to the change. Section 32B of the Acts Interpretation Act 1954 (Qld) provides:

In an Act, words indicating a gender include each other gender.

Kate Galloway also writes at Curl, “Women’s Property“:

I’ve spent this last few weeks going back to basics. What was I really trying to show? My (bigger than PhD) idea is that the notion of property is itself inappropriate to deal with contemporary issues. I think property theory, in its liberal market mould, is unsuitable for our contemporary culture (copyright), for culture in its wider sense (first nations/Indigenous peoples’ customary ‘title’) and it is most certainly unsuitable to deal with the huge issue of the environment, including of course, climate change. My PhD thesis is about the gendered nature of property and how it upholds the economic dependence of married women (married in a legal and de facto sense).

In my view, all property does is support the creation of a new market based on the idea of atomised, separated, individuals who are ‘rational profit maximisers’ and are in competition and unconnected with anyone else.

Julia Baird writes at the Sydney Morning Herald, “Quentin Bryce showed her true colours, quietly“:

Dame Quentin Bryce has mastered the art of the subtly powerful gesture.  When she – our first female governor-general – swore in our first female prime minister on June 24, 2010, she wore a dress the colour of rich butter. Pinned conspicuously below her shoulder was a brooch of purple silk flowers, with green linen leaves and white stems. The colours of the suffragettes.

bluemilk writes, “Abbott wants to stop measuring gender equality in the workplace“:

Given this data is all computerized and the bulk of it is collected in a standard payroll database it is difficult to see what exactly is so onerous about this but Sloan is trying her best to make the case. The other kinds of data collected by government include the family friendly working arrangements offered by a company and which of their employees use them. Again, all of this information is routinely collected by companies about themselves. Sure, reporting requirements aren’t cost-free but they’re not enough to have any Human Resource Department on a fainting couch either. And anyway, there’s no significant penalty for non-compliance and half the firms love the exercise because they use any better-than-average results to compete for the best job applicants.

Chally Kacelnik writes at Global Comment, “Australia’s Manus Island Shame: Where’s the Inquiry?“:

In response, Papua New Guinea’s Justice David Cannings initiated the inquiry. The Australian Broadcasting Corporation reports that, late on Friday, ‘the inquiry was put on hold after lawyers for the PNG government obtained a stay order in the Supreme Court in Port Moresby,’ claiming that Justice Cannings is biased because he has worked as a human rights lawyer. Immediately following this, Justice Cannings launched a new inquiry, and allowed Australian barrister Jay Williams access to the centre. All this has clashed with Papua New Guinea’s and Australia’s Prime Ministers, respectively Peter O’Neill and Tony Abbott, who are, according to Mr Abbott, in concert in agreeing that there ought to be no inquiry. Mr Abbott added that most of the asylum seekers were ‘economic migrants’ rather than true refugees.

Jennifer Wilson at No Place for Sheep writes, “Taking to the streets: why protest matters“:

March in March has come in for a fair amount of criticism for its alleged lack of focus and purpose.For some reason, ordinary citizens expressing grievances against their government is not regarded as being focused, or as having any purpose.

El Gibbs writes at No Fibs, “Moving Blue Mountains for #MarchInMarch: @bluntshovels reports“:

Moira Cox, Rachel’s mother, hasn’t done anything like this before. She heard about the March in March on Twitter and is passionate about her dislike for the current government. Ms Cox is concerned that commercial media will not cover the marches because she wants the Government to see how people feel about them.

Disability

Stella Young writes at Ramp Up (ABC), “Practicing pride in the face of exclusion“:

When I discovered the social model of disability when I was 17, it allowed me to make a distinction between the limitations of my body and the failings of society. In a nutshell, the social model tells us that we are far more disabled by inaccessible environments and hostile attitudes than we are by our physicality. My disability comes not from the fact that I’m unable to walk, but from the presence of the stairs. We are not wrong for the world we live in, the world we live in is not yet right for us, and we need to change it.

Eliza Cussen at Ramp Up (ABC) writes, “Something a little more comfortable“:

Online dating instantly expands your options. In many cases, it allows people with disability to go ‘under cover’ and reveal their disability to people on their own terms. But it also means opening yourself up to the scrutiny of the internet, which, as we well know, can be an unfriendly place.

“The beauty of online communication is that if you don’t tell them, the person on the other end of the line has no idea that you’re in a wheelchair, and therefore they treat you as a ‘normal’ person. I crave normality,” wrote my friend Holly.

I’d wager anyone who’s spent more than 20 seconds on a dating site will have worked out a filtering system for potential suitors. On OkCupid I would only respond to men who messaged me using full sentences. Those who introduced themselves with “Heeeeeeeeeeey” were let straight through to the keeper. Holly would avoid everyone who said they were fun-loving because she doesn’t enjoy redundant statements. (Who doesn’t love fun?)

Feminism & Sexism

Jo at A Life Unexamined writes, “Not Being Sexist Isn’t That Difficult“:

One of the reasons I was drawn to Dreamfall in the first place was because it had a cast of characters dominated by females: something of a rarity in the gaming industry. The primary protagonist (bear with the tautology) and the secondary protagonist are both female and well-written, complex characters. A large portion – probably the majority – of the supporting cast are also female, and women are portrayed in all sorts of positions and stages in life. The racial diversity is pretty good as well – though the game does fall short on its range of body types and shapes.

All this was quite pleasing while I was playing, but it wasn’t until three quarters through the game that I really noticed what I was enjoying the most: the lack of that casual sexism and misogyny that worms its way into so many games. Because three quarters through the game, you suddenly gain a sidekick: the obnoxious sexist sidekick, in the form of a talking crow. And then I realised how much I had been enjoying the lack of that character earlier in the game.

Celeste Liddle writes at Rantings of an Aboriginal Feminist, “Aboriginal Feminism – So what does this entail?“:

Due to the process of colonisation, what effects white women generally affects black women, however due to the intersection of race, black women face unique battles as well. Back when the women’s movement was fighting to access to safe and effective contraception and legal abortion in this country, Aboriginal women were additionally fighting for the right to keep their children in the face of the legislation that led to the Stolen Generations. White women were fighting for economic independence separate from men (eg: so they were not forced to be married to have security) and the right to equal pay while black women were also fighting to be paid for their labour in the first place.

Georgina Dent writes at Women’s Agenda, “Can anyone afford not to work?“:

In theory we might support the idea of women working and having a family but the reality isn’t quite so encouraging. Australia women are stuck in the middle – waging a logistical war between wanting a career and a family. The fact our female workforce participation rate lags the rest of the world, and is slipping, confirms it.

Shonias writes at Hoyden About Town, “Cloaking device“:

The moment I arrived, unbeknownst to me, my cloaking device had been deployed. I stood waiting to register, and when a position was free, the bloke on it gestured to the man who had arrived after me. I just wasn’t there. Some women could see through it – the woman on the merchandise stand remarked on my unlikely existence. However, a woman I approached at a cocktail meet and greet looked straight through me and turned to a man at her left.

tigtog writes at Hoyden About Town, “SIgnal Boosting: Surly Amy’s Skeptic and Atheist Do Better Challenge“:

Amy’s tapping into something fundamental about human nature here: most of us want what we do in the world to matter to others as well as ourselves, to make some sort of difference to people other than ourselves, to leave some sort of legacy that others will recognise and value after we die.  Religions all provide some sort of framework within which people can find projects to join which fulfil this desire alongside fellowship with likeminded others who will honour their passing, as part of a community of shared values which recognises efforts and accomplishments beyond the commercial/careerist/competitive world of earning their livelihoods.

Andie Fox (bluemilk) writes at Daily Life, “Natalie Barr doesn’t speak for all women“:

Reading this you feel defensive, naturally. Your life hasn’t been exactly like these success stories. It is tempting then to continue this conversation of individualism and to describe the specifics of your own life as counter-argument. But unless we’re very thoughtful about it, this kind of discussion tends to be dominated by a lot of very similar voices (ie. those with access to the media), tends to over-generalise, and tends to limit definitions of sexism to intentional acts by one person against another. This capacity to recognise sexism rarely and only on an individual level means we seek to fix sexism simply by shaming offenders. Preferably in public. Sexism is therefore corrected by correcting the individual.

Clementine Ford writes, “Can we stop being delicate about cunts?“:

And look, they may sound crude but they have a place in a lexicon that quite comfortably embraces labels like ‘cocksucker’, ‘dickhead’, ‘dickbrain’ (as favoured on-air for many years by former 5AA radio talkback host Bob Francis) and even ‘asshole’. The fact is, much of modern English has been influenced by writers like William Shakespeare and Geoffrey Chaucer (the latter of whom was fond of a bit of ‘queynte’ in his writings). Humanity loves a good dirty joke or double entendre. Show me a clever writer with a dirty mouth and I’ll show you a cunning stunt. As Lauren Davidson writes here, “It really does seem only fair that if Shakespeare, Geoffrey Chaucer, James Joyce and D.H. Lawrence — a bunch of old white men — could use it rather joyfully, why shouldn’t we?”

Violence *Trigger Warnings for posts in this section*

Louise Taylor at intersectionalitytimes writes, “Domestic Violence against Indigenous Women is Everybody’s Problem“:

On any available statistical analysis Indigenous women are significantly more likely to be a victim of family violence. To be hospitalised because of it. To die as a result of it. Some would argue to have their children removed because of it. Ridiculously Indigenous women appear more likely to be criminalised themselves for their engagement with the systems charged with protecting them when they report family violence.

Claire Shove writes at Sextracurricular Studies, “Art Against Female Genital Mutilation

Claire Shove also writes, “YouTube, Tumblr, and Ethical Responsibility in Celebrity-Fan Relationships“:

And so it continues. As of yet, none of the people accused or anyone from NerdFighteria has addressed any of this in a video, and so the main forum for discussion is still Tumblr. I’m hopeful that this discussion will move onto YouTube soon as well. Partly because the people who are responsible for these actions should be a part of the discussion, and partly because Tumblr has now been definitively proven to be an unsuitable place for sensible discussions of abuse, and for survivors to seek support. This should come as a surprise to no one, given that it is the residence of the most intensely devoted fans of these YouTubers. Having said that, I’m glad in a way that this has all started on Tumblr, because the most intensely devoted fans are also the people vulnerable to coercion and abuse.

Clementine Ford writes, “There’s no such thing as rape culture“:

I always thought my commitment to challenging rape culture was due to me caring deeply about the fact we live in a sexually aggressive, oppressive world that forces women to bear responsibility for our own rape prevention while casting men as primal creatures so easily overcome by the sight of exposed flesh that they can’t help but force themselves onto women (despite complaining about how feminists always paint them as rapists).

Eliza Cussen writes at Women’s Agenda, “How my work saw me threatened with rape online“:

As a Crikey reader recently said, a ‘troll’ is someone who posts on a Star Wars forum that Star Trek is better. Still, I think the word troll can be applied here. This form of abuse is being done by people who think a woman’s safety is no more important than the fictional struggle against the Galactic Empire. It is done by people who think of women only in the abstract, individuals who merely exist on screen.

Aaminah Khan writes at Days Like Crazy Paving, “[TW: child abuse] Cry of the Tiger Cub – or: I Grew Up with a Tiger Parent and All I Got was This Lousy Psychological Trauma

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Things to do in Paris

I originally wrote this for my mother, but thought if other people are travelling, and are looking at things to do, then they might find this information useful.

The Palace of Versailles

There are trains that go directly to Versailles from the centre of Paris and are clearly identified at the station.  It’s a short walk from Versailles station to the palace itself, and I cannot recommend highly enough buying a return ticket in Paris because the queue at the end of the day to buy tickets back to Paris are very long.

Entry to the palace, the gardens and Marie Antionette’s estate are 18 Euros.  This will take an entire day.

The website above has an FAQ about the best days of the week and best times to go and see the palace.

You can prebook your tickets and print them out before you leave and this is highly recommended to avoid queues.

Musee d’Orsay

This is Paris’s home to Impressionist art.  It is massively big, and James and I didn’t finish the entire museum in half a day.  You might be quicker than us, or plan your trip better, but you should spend at least half a day here if you are interested. This is in the middle of Paris, so easy to get to from just about everywhere.

Tickets cost 11 Euros and can be prepurchased and printed ahead of time (a surcharge applies, but you avoid all the queues which is important).

Notre Dame

On the island of Il de la Cite on the Seine, the Cathedral is famous and huge.  There will probably be a queue to enter, it’s free, but the queue moves quickly the the times I’ve been there.  There are also free public toilets just outside the Cathedral, and there is often a queue for them too, but they have helpful attendants who make sure the queue moves and that the toilets are clean (toilets are underground).

The Cathedral has King Louis’ (one of them) dedication of France to God inside, and a lovely statue of Joan d’Arc (and a story about how that Cathedral fought for her to be sainted and her name to be cleared).  There are also three HUGE rose windows in the church.

Depending on how long the queue is and stuff, this probably only takes an hour.

Church of Saint Severin

Just across from Notre Dame is this small, and usually not visited church.  It is incredibly old, it comes with it’s own well, and is actually rather pretty.  This won’t take long at all to visit.

Musee d’Orangerie

This museum hosts Claude Monet’s lillies and if you like Monet’s work, then I highly recommend visiting.  There is also some other art held at this museum, but the main attraction is Monet’s waterlillies, hosted in circular rooms and beautifully lit.  It is easy to spend an hour looking at just the lillies before wandering off to visit the rest of the collection.

This museum is related to the Musee d’Orsay, and when we visited a couple of years ago, you could buy one ticket for both.  This museum can easily be done in half a day.

Tickets are 16 Euros if you are buying a ticket together for the Musee d’Orsay, but as far as I know cannot be purchased online together.  Otherwise the ticket is 9 Euros.

The Basilica of Sacre Coeur

A little outside the main city of Paris, but served well by public transport, Sacre Coeur sits on one of the highest points of the city.  Using the Paris visitor pass (see below) you can catch the Funicular up the hill (there are WAY too many stairs) and see inside the church.  Entry to the church is free, but if you want to see the crypt below (interesting, but not creepy), you have to pay a small fee.

Jardin du Luxumbourg

This is a large formal garden in the heart of Paris, an easy walk from the Latin Quarter.  Entry is free and in the Parisian tradition, if you find an empty seat, you can take it to wherever you’d like to sit in the garden (under a tree, by that fountain, over in that patch of sun).  It’s a very pretty garden and as the website says, there are a range of activities you can do in it.

The Louvre

I cannot stress how important it is to prepurchase your tickets for the Louvre.  The queue often snakes around the courtyard the Louvre entry is in, and if you have a ticket, you can just walk through.

This gallery is massive.  You cannot complete it in one day, and it is really important to decide on what collections you are most interested in and take the time to go and see those.  We fit two and a half collections in a bit over half a day.  I highly recommend the Assyrian and Babylonian exhibition, and the sculpture exhibition (though sometimes a bit macabre) is pretty amazing (that’s where I took the photo of the sleeping knight).

If you are purchasing tickets online, I recommend using FNAC as they have two offices near The Louvre, which will make ticket collection easier.    This holds for all tickets that you have to collect.  Tickets are 13.60 Euros when purchased online.

Le Tour Eiffel

If you are interested in going to the Eiffel Tower (and it is pretty spectacular), you should buy your tickets today (or at least very soon).  Don’t queue because you can queue for 3 hours, and that’s 3 hours you can spend doing other things.  You can do what I’ve done many times and that is wander around the base of the tower and have a look at just how massive it is.  That bit is free.  Prebooking your ticket is pretty cheap, so if you have firm and agreed upon dates (or as soon as you do), and you want to go up the tower, then book as soon as you can.  Access to the tower extends close to midnight in summer.

Cimetière du Père-Lachaise

If you’re interested in seeing where Oscar Wilde, Chopin and Jim Morrison (or a host of others), this is the place to go.  It’s massive, and big, and full of interesting monuments to famous and infamous dead people.  Also lots of monuments to those who died in WW2, which makes it quite sad at times.  It’s somewhere very interesting (and touching) to spend a day.  It’s free, though there are people selling maps outside for 2 Euros with clear notation of where the buried famous people are.

The Latin Quarter

This is the area to find a good meal in.  There are lots of restaurants, with cuisines of all the different cultures that make up France.  Lots of good and cheap food to be found here.

Paris Visite pass

I highly recommend getting one of these to travel around the city.  It makes using the metro a breeze and covers all forms of public transport within the circular ring road of the city.  It’ll probably cost you around 26.50 Euros, and is worth every cent (zones 1 – 3). The ticket to Versaille will be additional to this.

Paris Passport/Paris Museum Pass

I don’t recommend one of these.  To make them worthwhile you have to rush between all the attractions, and you really don’t get to see enough to enjoy yourself.  Plan what you want to do, when you want to do it, and go from there.

Speaking the language

It’s recommended to have some basic French at your disposal, greetings, farewells, please, thank you, sorry, hey you, excuse me, etc.  It also helps to have a little bit extra for restaurants, but most of the ones we went to (including the suburban not tourist ones) had some English and we got by.  Free French lessons can be obtained at Duolingo.

Once you greet someone in French, it is often ok to then ask if they speak English.  Parisians appreciate the effort.

Lonely Planet Paris Guide

I can’t recommend this book highly enough, it has a street map of central Paris, a Metro map, and lots of information about things to see and do.  I’ve only listed a few things here, and really you could stay in Paris for a month, and do something different every day and still not get everything done.

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Meet my friend Kath

I met Kath on Twitter when she was hosting the @homelessinMelbourne account as a guest curator.  I responded to a few of the things she tweeted and we started a conversation.  It was around this time she started her own twitter account @kathhomeless, so I started to follow that too.

Kath is a 52 year old, homeless woman who lives out of her car in Queensland.  She tweets about the problems of being homeless, how one lives in a car, tweets the stories of her life and how she ended up homeless (and it’s not a simple story), shares photos of her home cooking (and it looks pretty tasty), and beautiful sunsets and sunrises.

Sunrise photo by Kath

Kath also has a blog, which initially was put together by one of Kath’s other followers, giving Kath an opportunity to collate her stories, share information with others, and host her great photos (so you don’t have to be up at sunrise to see the great shots).

Because this is the internet, and people are cynical, doubting arsehats, Kath cops a fair amount of abuse on Twitter, with some people claiming she’s only on Twitter to beg for money (which she’s never done in my interactions with her), that she’s lying about being homeless, that she’s homeless by choice, or that she’s lying about all the things she’s done or had happen to her in the past which has resulted in her current situation.

If you really feel it’s your place to do due diligence while reading a person’s story, perhaps you should be asking what your motivations are and who made you ruler of other people’s lives.

Kath’s most recent blog post calls for an understanding of homelessness:

The last few days have been quite draining for me trying to explain my situation to people that just don’t understand or think they do but don’t! I have been attacked by people that don’t care and think homelessness is a joke and is not real. They think it is my choice to be homeless or I choose to live this way. They have no idea of the reality of homelessness. They have never experienced it and probably never will. They have led a sheltered life away from the real harsh world. They do not understand how it can happen to people and blame me for being that way. They do not know any facts and really don’t care to find out the truth as they really don’t want to be involved with it. They question my answers to their questions and ridicule me on my comments. I try my best to be polite and help them understand what homelessness involves but they don’t care to listen. About the closest they will ever get to homelessness if the cross the street if they see a homeless person or do a sleep out which I call a camping adventure to act as if they care of to promote themselves that they are involved in a cause. It is a shame that they do not even want to understand such a major problem in Australia but why should they after all we choose to live this way. How can anyone end up homeless? It must have been my fault. I try to explain to them to read my blog and comments on twitter and maybe help them to understand my situation but they do not even do that. They are to ready to ridicule and simply don’t care enough to find out the fact. If they did it would problem raise emotions they have never and probably never will and make a fool of them for being so abrupt and uncaring. So I say to all of them good luck.

Many of my followers think that is easy and they can help me with my homelessness. Many have tried to help me by contacting charity organisations or government organisations including local MP members without my knowledge. After they do they contact me and their reaction is shock horror now they understand why I am homeless. I say to all don’t bother. No one can help as their is no housing. A shortage of housing is the problem simple. A MP or a charity just cant pull out a room or unit or house out of the air. I wish all would understand this. I have so many that try to tell me what to do with good intentions but they just don’t understand that I already have. I spent the first 6 months in Brisbane searching for answers. I learnt a lot about how the government deal with homelessness and how the charities and organisations spend there funding. It became a bit of a game for me. Gave me something to do researching all of this. No going on the housing list will not work. Yes I am injured but not disabled. No I am not a priority and will not get prioritised because I am sleeping in my car. In fact most don’t recognise me as homeless because I have a car and I am not sleeping under a bridge or a park.

Poverty is rising in Australia, which means that those who are homeless are going to remain that way, and that more people will be at risk of homelessness.

The OECD finds that poverty is rising in Australia with the number of those living in poverty accounting for 14.4 per cent of the population, compared to the OECD average of 11.3 per cent.

But Professor Whiteford, from the Australian National University in Canberra, says it does reveal some concerns within Australia.”We’ve got a lot of issues we need to address in Australia, and I think there are some obvious ones, like unemployment’s deteriorated over the past year or so. And there seems to be, particularly, problems of increasing proportions of young people who are neither in employment, education or training.”

What can we do about homelessness?  We can help those we know are homeless by giving them a couple of dollars when we see them.  Short-term accommodation is very expensive, not to mention quite risky as you end up living without a safety net or somewhere to store your belongings.  It is not our job to judge how people spend money once we give it to them, and it is not our job to pre-judge people’s spending intents and avoid giving them money because you believe they may not spend it in a way you agree with.

How can you help Kath?  Well another one of her followers set up a Pozible campaign in order to be able to buy her a new car fridge so she can keep her required medication close to hand.  Excess money will go towards much needed surgery and/or a camper van if possible.  If you have a couple of spare dollars handy, then I fully recommend this Pozible campaign.

Homelessness is a complex issue with no simple answers.  People who are homeless have often ended up that way through a collection of misfortune and, despite what our great Prime Minister Tones says, no one chooses to be homeless.  Helping those who are less fortunate than ourselves is not only what good people do, it’s necessary when the Governments of the day are likely to reduce the current level of Newstart allowance because they want to abolish the Mining Tax.

The chief executive of the Australian Council of Social Service, Cassandra Goldie, sought to broaden the debate over the consequences of the mining tax repeal legislation.

“In addition to assistance for the children of veterans, the government is proposing to abolish a range of measures which provide much needed assistance to low-income households, on the pretext that they are linked to the minerals resource rent tax,” Goldie said.

“This includes a $4 a week supplement for people struggling to cope on the $36 a day Newstart allowance, now widely recognised as grossly inadequate. The supplement is the only real increase in the Newstart allowance in 20 years. In this context, taking away this meagre increase from those already in hardship is unconscionable.”

Kath, and everyone else on Newstart is doing it hard, and when we can help them out, we should as good fellow citizens and as good people.  Some of this will be lobbying MPs, some will be working with charities to provide services, goods or food to people in need, some of this will be direct cash hand outs, and some of this will be educating others about the fact that homelessness is not simple, and is worth more than a sound-bite or some CEOs sleeping in nice sleeping bags one night a year.

We can do better as a nation and as people by looking after the vulnerable members of our society.

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Are Women People: A Book of Rhymes for Suffrage Times

I found this book on Project Gutenberg and it’s by Alice Duer Miller, I thought it might be an interesting read and I was wrong, it’s a fascinating read.  Miller picks apart many of the arguments used against suffrage, sadly arguments used against women and feminism today, and neatly takes them apart in poems.  I’m going to quote some of my favourites below and comment underneath (as appropriate), but I highly recommend you pick up a copy of the book from Project Gutenberg if you can – it’s not very long but is very entertaining.

The Revolt of Mother(“Every true woman feels….” – Speech of almost any Congressman)

I am old-fashioned, and I think it right
That man should know by Nature’s laws eternal,
The proper way to rule, to earn, to fight,
And exercise those functions called paternal;
But even I a little bit rebel
At finding that he knows my job as well.

At least he’s always read to expound it,
Especially in legislative hall,
The joys, the cares, the halos that surround it,”How women feel” -
he knows that best of all.
In fact his thesis is that no one can
Know what is womanly except a man.

I am old-fashioned, and I am content
When he explains the world of art and science
And government – to him divinely sent -I drink it in with ladylike compliance.
But I cannot listen – no, I’m only human -
When he instructs me on how to be a woman.

Sound familiar?  Our lovely Prime Minister Tones has often instructed us on how to be women.

The Maiden’s Vow

(A speaker at the National Education Association advised girls not to study algebra.  Many girls, he said, had lost their souls through this study.  The idea has been taken up with enthusiasm)

I will avoid equations,
And shun the naughty surd,
I must beware the perfect square,
Through it young girls have erred:
And when men mention Rule of Three
Pretend I have not heard.

Through Strum’s delightful theorems
Illicit joys assure,
Through permutations and combinations
My woman’s heart allure,
I’ll never study algebra,
But keep my spirit pure.

Miller studied mathematics and astronomy at college in the late 1800s, so she must have thought it terribly funny that someone was advising against learning algebra.  Of course, the idea that maths is hard and not for girls is a poison that still lingers today, thankfully though we’re not being told we’ll lose our souls if we study algebra (which I quite enjoy).  Though I do wonder why boy’s souls are more robust at surviving algebra.

“Oh, That ‘Twere Possible!”

With apologies to Lord Tennyson

(“The grant of suffrage to women is repugnant to instincts that strike their roots deep in the order of nature.  It runs counter to human reason, it flouts the teachings of experience and the admonitions of common sense.” N.Y. Times, Feb. 7, 1915.)

Oh, that ’twere possible
After those words inane
For me to read The TimesEver again!

When I was wont to read it
In the early morning hours,
In a mood ‘twist wrath and mirth,
I exclaimed: “Alas, Ye Powers, These ideas are fainter, quainter
Than anything on earth!”

A paper’s laid before me.
Not thou, not like to thee.
Dear me, if it were possibleThe Times should ever see
How very far the times have moved(Spelt with a little “t”).

The Times Editorials

Lovely Antiques, breathing in every line
The perfume of an age long passed away,
Wafting us back to 1829,
Museum pieces of a by-gone day,
You should not languish in the public press
Where modern though might reach and do you harm,
And vulgar youth insult your hoariness,
Missing the flavour of your old world charm;
You should be locked, where rust cannot corrode
In some old rosewood cabinet, dimmed by age,With silver-lustre, tortoise shell and Spode;
And all would cry, who read your yellowing page:”Yes, that’s the sort of thing that men believed
Before the First Reform Bill was conceived!”

And this is certainly how I feel about The Australian and most of Murdoch press.

Why We Oppose Pockets for Women

  1. Because pockets are not a natural right.
  2. Because the great majority of women do not want pockets.  If they did, they would have them.
  3. Because whenever women have had pockets they have not used them
  4. Because women are required to carry enough things as it is, without the additional burden of pockets
  5. Because it would make dissension between husband and wife as to whose pockets were to be filled.
  6. Because it would destroy men’s chivalry toward women, if he did not have to carry all her things in his pockets.
  7. Because men are men, and women are women.  We must not fly in the face of nature.
  8. Because pockets have been used by men to carry tobacco, pipes, whiskey flasks, chewing gum and compromising letters.  We see no reason to suppose that women would not use them more wisely.

Given the dearth of pockets on women’s clothing today, I can only assume that fashion designers took this to heart and have been denying us pockets.

But Then Who Cares for Figures

An argument sometimes used against paying women as highly as men for the same work is that women are only temporarily in industry.

Forty-four percent of the women teachers in the public schools have been more than ten years in the service, while only twenty-six per cent of the men teachers have served as long.

The Bundesrath of Germany has decided to furnish medical and financial assistance to women at the time of childbirth, in order “to alleviate the anxiety of husbands at the front.”

How strange this would sound: “The Bundesrath has decided to furnish medical assistance to the wounded at the front, in order to alleviate the anxiety of wives and mothers at home.”

When a benefit is suggested for men, the question asked is: “Will it benefit men?”

When a benefit is suggested for women, the question is: “Will it benefit men?”

I suspect that this final question still holds true today, even though it’s pretty awful.

Why We Oppose Votes for Men

  1. Because man’s place is the armory.
  2. Because no really manly man wants to settle any question otherwise than by fighting about it.
  3. Because if men should adopt peaceable methods women will no longer look up at them.
  4. Because men will lose their charm if they step out of their natural sphere and interest themselves in other matters than feats of arms, uniforms and drums.
  5. Because men are too emotional to vote.  Their conduct at baseball games and political conventions shows this, while their innate tendency to fore renders them peculiarly unfit for the task of government.

Feminism
“Mother, what is a Feminist?”
“A Feminist, my daughter,
Is any woman now who cares
To think about her own affairs
As men don’t think she oughter.”

I love that this still holds true today.  I’m tempted to get this on a T-shirt.

Playthings

Last year the shops were crowded
With soldier suits and guns -
The presents that at Christmas time
We give our little sons;
And many a glittering trumpet
And many a sword and drum;
But as they’re made in Germany
This year they will not come.
Perhaps another season
We shall not give our boys
Such very warlike playthings,
Such military toys;
Perhaps another seasons
We shall not think it sweet
To watch their games of solder men,
Who dream not of defeat.

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The last day of summer linkspam (February 2014)

We come to the end of a rather hot summer, though the past few days have been spring/autumn like (for a change), and I have been remiss, because I’ve been busy, in putting together my collection of interesting links and stuff to share.  So here it is.

Philip Guo at Slate writes, “Silent Technical Privilege“:

OK, all of the above was a lie. With one exception: That is me in the photo. When it was taken, I didn’t even know how to touch-type. My parents were just like, “Quick, pose in front of our new computer!” (Look closely. My fingers aren’t even in the right position.) My parents were both humanities majors, and there wasn’t a single programming book in my house. In sixth grade I tried teaching myself BASIC for a few weeks, but quit because it was too hard. The only real exposure I had to programming prior to college was taking AP computer science in 11th grade, taught by a math teacher who had learned the material only a month before class started. Despite its shortcomings, that class inspired me to major in computer science in college. But when I started freshman year at MIT, I felt a bit anxious because many of my classmates actually did have over 10 years of childhood programming experience; I had less than one.

Even though I didn’t grow up in a tech-savvy household and couldn’t code my way out of a paper bag, I had one big thing going for me: I looked like I was good at programming.

At Politically Homeless, “Scott Morrison should be sacked“:

It strains credibility that the Navy veered off course and did not realise its vessels were in Indonesian waters. The Navy sent its vessels where government told them to go, and did what government told them to do. It is not OK to blame the military for government policy blunders, and ultimately such a tactic will work against the government rather than the military.

From now on people in the military are more likely to leak against this government. People in the military are more likely to have credibility that politicians lack. Any difference of opinion between a politician and the military will be resolved in favour of the military (with the possible exception of bullying allegations). When you consider that military personnel vote Coalition more than any other occupational grouping, this is a political own-goal as well as a governmental one.

Boing Boing have embedded Jay Smooth’s fantastic video, “How to talk about race, productively“, and apart from it being brilliant, is it just me or does Jay Smooth have one of the most amazing speaking voices ever?

Rafe Posey at BuzzFeed writes, “How To Write About Transgender People“:

2. Use your subject’s preferred name, pronoun, and picture.

When was the last time someone asked you to prove that you’re a man or a woman, or that your name and the gender marker on your driver’s license match what’s on your birth certificate? We will tell you who we are. Your job is to listen, not to decide that you have a better idea about who we are just because you think we are “confused.” We don’t need you to explain our identities to us, and we do not need your permission.

Use the names, pronouns, and pictures that we provide. If you are honestly confused, ask politely what our preferences are, and then honor our answers. If we provide information in confidence, don’t reveal that information.

Aaminah Khan at Days Like Crazy Paving writes, “The invisible girl – bisexuality in a biphobic society“:

I’m a bisexual woman in a relationship with a straight man. That means I don’t exist.

You see, in order for society to accept me as bi, they need to see evidence. If I’m not neck-deep in a threesome with an attractive woman on one side and a strapping man on the other, how can they be expected to tell that I’m not monosexual? If I’m dating a woman, I must be lesbian. If I’m dating a man, I must be straight. Unless I’m dating both at the same time, I can’t be bisexual.

The first person to tell me I wasn’t “really” bi was a gay friend of mine. I believe I’ve told the story before, so I won’t retread old ground, but suffice to say that while he was the first, he certainly wasn’t the last. I’ve heard it all – it’s just a phase, I’m fence-sitting so I don’t have to pick a side, I’m greedy, I’ll cheat on my partner, I’m just doing it for the attention, I just don’t want to come out of the closet. It seems everyone has a theory about my sexuality that they’re just dying to share with me, as though they’re the first people ever to think of it. (Yeah, I’ve never heard the one about how I can’t be bi because I’m not poly before. You’re so original!) You’d think I’d know my sexuality better than a stranger, but in a world where anything perceived as differing from the norm instantly becomes fair game for public discussion and dissection, it seems the only person who isn’t a self-proclaimed expert on my sexuality is…me.

Rohin Guha at Jezebel writes, “The Myth of the Fag Hag and Dirty Secrets of the Gay Male Subculture“:

It’s a dirty secret of a subculture of the gay male world about women: That they’re essentially unwelcome, unless they come to us as a Real Housewife, a pop diva, or an Tony award winner–or an unassuming fag hag. To anyone just coming out of the closet and hoping to get his bearings in the gay male community, the attitude towards women is simple: They are just objects whose function is to serve gay men. Maybe it happens when gay men get too comfortable in newly-discovered safe spaces–where they get to call the shots as their proudly out new selves. Or maybe it happens through cultural conditioning. Whatever the cause is, it becomes clear: If there isn’t any kind of transactional exchange happening, then women lose their value in gay male subcultures.

Laurie Penny at New Statesmen writes, “Why patriarchy fears the scissors: for women, short hair is a political statement“:

The “manosphere” really hates short-haired girls. On “game” forums and in personal dating manifestos, the wickedness of short-haired women pops up time and time again as theme and warning – stay away from girls who’ve had their hair chopped off. They’re crazy, they’re deliberately destroying their femininity to “punish” men, but the last laugh will be on them, because the bitches will die alone. Yes, there are people who really believe this. In 2014.

This week, a writer going by the handle Tuthmosis put out a short article explaining why “Girls With Short Hair are Damaged”. The piece has now received over 200,000 interactions on Facebook, so I’m not going to link to it again here. If you scrape through the layers of trolling, though, Tuthmosis’ logical basis for declaring short-haired women “damaged” is pretty interesting.

He writes that long hair is “almost universally attractive to men, when they’re actually speaking honestly. . . Women instinctively know this, which is why every American girl who cuts, and keeps, her hair short often does it for ulterior reasons . . . Short hair is a political statement. And, invariably, a girl who has gone through with a short cut – and is pleased with the changes in her reception – is damaged in some significant way. Short hair is a near-guarantee that a girl will be more abrasive, more masculine, and more deranged.”

Cooper Fleishman at The Daily Dot writes, “The ‘girlfriendzone’ flips the ‘friendzone’ myth on its head“:

So here’s something new: a reaction to the friendzone, called the “girlfriendzone.” It comes from Reddit, whose feministcommunities are becoming an increasingly large presence in the culture there, calling out bullshit and misogyny and forming a safe space for women to converse openly and honestly. Or to give advice to male redditors.

“She’s not friendzoned you, OP,” ObscenePenguin writes. “You’ve girlfriendzoned her. … Seeing a female friend only as a girlfriend is girlfriendzoning.”

It’s flipping the script: identifying the friendzone as an entirely male creation, and putting the onus on dudes not to be entitled pricks about it when girls don’t throw themselves at them.

Jim C Hines writes a very detailed response to Larry Correia’s article in which Larry suggests that requests for science fiction to be more inclusive are killing the genre (which is why we have such great things as Women Destroy Science Fiction Kickstarter which has been successfully funded).  Jim’s article is titled, “Fiskception: Dissecting Correia’s Critique of MacFarlane“.

Cosima Marriner at Fairfax writes “Study finds same-sex parenting is not harmful for children“, which shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone.  Also not coming as a surprise, but frustrating, is that this article is dumped in “Life & Style” and therefore less than “news”.

Children raised by same-sex parents fare just as well in their education, emotional and social development as those raised by heterosexual parents, new research shows.

The report on same sex-parented families in Australia, commissioned by the Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS), found “there is now strong evidence that same-sex-parented families constitute supportive environments in which to raise children”.

The findings are at odds with Liberal Senator Cory Bernardi’s recent comments that the “gold standard” for children’s development is having a biological mother and father who are married.

Report author Deb Dempsey, who reviewed all the research on same sex-parented families, said there was a wealth of evidence that showed the children were doing fine.

Taryn Fox guest posts at Geek Feminism with, “How to kill someone without pulling the trigger“:

The “Just World” fallacy

This is a fancy name for the idea that people tend to get what they deserve. Here in the States, we call it “liberty” and “objectivism” and “reducing dependence on government.” In the Linux and Free Software communities, we call it “meritocracy.”

It’s an extremely convenient belief to have if you’re at the top of your pecking order. It tells you that you deserve to be there, because of how awesome you are. And it tells you not to worry about anybody beneath you, because if they’re deserving they’ll make it eventually. And if they’re not, well, don’t worry about it. It’s their fault, and helping them will just keep them dependent on you. Better to throw them out of the nest and watch their carcasses smear on the rocks, until you find one that can fly like you could.

This mindset stigmatizes being weak or in need of help. It turns being a newb, at life or at Linux, into something to be ashamed of. And when you have this mindset yourself, and are weak or injured, you’re ashamed of everything. You have a desperate need to please others and show that your life is worthwhile. You’re afraid to admit failure, to yourself or to anyone else, because you know that you’ll be destroyed and it’ll be your fault.

Faine Greenwood writes at SF Gate, “Gender gap: Men getting paid more than women in Silicon Valley“:

Men who hold graduate or professional degrees earn a whopping 73 percent more than women with the same educational qualifications, while men with a bachelor’s degree earn 40 percent more than women with the same credentials, the study found.

Income inequality by gender is worse in Silicon Valley than it is for the whole of California: U.S. Census Bureau figures found that males with professional or graduate degrees earn 52 percent more than women when the entire population is taken into account, while men with a bachelor’s degree earn 36 percent more.

Interestingly, the situation in Silicon Valley is actually getting better, notes Rachel Massaro, vice president and senior researcher at Joint Venture Silicon Valley, who crunched the numbers.

“In 2010, men with a graduate or professional degree earned 97 percent more than women with a grad or professional degree,” she said.

Allen Clifton at Forward Progressives writes, “Florida Ordinance Makes it Illegal for Homeless to Use Blankets to Protect Themselves from Weather“, which has since been reversed as reported by T.S. Strickland at PNJ, “Hayward changes course on Pensacola homeless blanket ban“.

Tofik Dibi at Vice writes, “Life as a Gay Imam Isn’t as Bad as It Sounds“:

Just about every predominantly Muslim country forbids homosexuality. In nine of those countries, homosexual activity carries the death penalty. But the thing is, the whole Islamic prejudice against gays seems to be based on one monumental misconception: that certain verses in the Qur’an about Sodom and Gomorrah condemn homosexuality. They do not, according to Ludovic-Mohamed Zahed, Daayiee Abdullah, and Muhsin Hendricks, three openly gay imams I spoke to who are trying to end the marginalization inflicted on LGBT Muslims because of their sexuality.

Tina Vasquez writes at bitchmedia, “It’s Time to End the Long History of Feminism Failing Transgender Women*trigger warning transphobia and Cathy Brennan*:

This debate is not just feminist-theory inside baseball. Though outspoken, politically active trans-exclusionary radical feminists are relatively few in number, their influence on legislation and mainstream perceptions of transgender people is powerful and real.

For example, transgender people were able to readily obtain government-funded healthcare prior to 1980. That year, Janice Raymond wrote a report for the Reagan administration called “Technology on the Social and Ethical Aspects of Transsexual Surgery” which informed the official federal position on medical care for transgender people. The paper’s conclusion reads, “The elimination of transsexualism is not best achieved by legislation prohibiting transsexual treatment and surgery, but rather by legislation that limits it and by other legislation that lessens the support given to sex-role stereotyping.” In her book Transgender History, Susan Stryker says that the government curtailed transgender access to government social services under Reagan, “In part in response to anti-transgender feminist arguments that dovetailed with conservative politics.”

These days, trans-exclusionary feminists’ voices seem louder than ever, as they use social media to amplify their message. If you start following feminist conversations online, at first it seems like there’s a chorus of individuals running websites that speak out against the dangers of accepting transgender women as women. But then it becomes clear that numerous websites and Twitter feeds come from just one person: Cathy Brennan. On her personal site, Brennan lists her numerous blogs: Gender Fatigue (which recently published a tirade about Janet Mock’s gender that would make Piers Morgan blush), Pretendbians (devoted to documenting transgender people who “oppress Lesbians”), Name the Problem (which posts mugshots of alleged sex offenders along with write-ups about trans activists), the aforementioned Gender Identity Watch (which posits to watch “legal developments that erase female reality”), and a private site called Fauxmosexuals.

Laurie Penny at New Statesmen writes, “The way we talk about rape and abuse is changing*trigger warning rape*:

Rape culture means more than a culture in which rape is routine. Rape culture involves the systematic silencing of victims even as women and children are instructed to behave like potential victims at all times. In order to preserve rape culture, society at large has to believe two different things at once. Firsty, that women and children lie about rape, but that they should also act as if rape will be the result if they get into a strange car, walk down a strange street or wear a sexy outfit. Secondly, if it happens, it’s their own fool fault for not respecting the unwritten rules.

This paradox involves significant mental gymnastics. But as more and more people come forward with accusations, as the pattern of historical and ongoing abuse of power becomes harder to ignore, the paradox gets harder to maintain. We are faced with two alternatives: either women and children are lying about rape on an industrial, organised scale, or rape and sexual abuse are endemic in this society, and have been for centuries. Facing up to the reality of the latter is a painful prospect.

Mia McKenzie from Black Girl Dangerous writes, “4 Ways to Push Back Against Your Privilege“:

3. Shut up

This one is so, so important. If you are a person with a lot of privilege (i.e. a white, straight, able-bodied, class-privileged, cisgender male or any combination of two or more of those) and you call yourself being against oppression, then it should be part of your regular routine to sit the hell down and shut the eff up. If you can recognize that part of the reason your opinion, your voice, carries so much weight and importance is because you are a white man (or whatever combination is working for you), then pushing back against your privilege often looks like shutting your face. Now, of course, using your privilege to speak out against oppression is very important. But I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about chiming in, taking up space, adding your two cents, playing devil’s advocate, etc. when 1) no one asked you, 2) the subject matter is outside your realm of experience (why do you even think you get to have an opinion about the lives of black women??), 3) anything you say is just going to cause more harm because your voice, in and of itself, is a reminder that you always get to have a voice and that voice usually drowns out the voices of others.

Rebecca Shaw writes at SBS, “Comment: Why it matters that Ellen Page came out“:

Her nervousness instantly took me back to the night that I first spoke those words out loud to another human being. It was one of the scariest things that I have ever done, and I remember the clenched feeling in my chest, my stomach rolling with nerves.

We were sitting outside in the cold, and I can still see my breath coming out hard and fast into the night air. I was terrified – and drunk. And yet, I knew that the person I was telling would be 100 per cent fine with it. In fact, I knew that she probably already knew. It didn’t matter. Saying those words out loud, even to an incredibly receptive crowd (like the HRC) is petrifying.

Brocklesnitch writes, “Biscaryials“:

Take Olympic diver Tom Daley. Don’t you think it is weird that he seemed so COMFORTABLE saying that he still fancies women while dating a MAN? Someone has obviously been taking acting lessons from Dustin Lance Orange is the New Black!! How else could you explain that he seemed content to imply that he is attracted to both sexes? That is just not possible. They are so different! Men like doing things like sports and beer and women like doing things like shopping and wine! How the fuck could you ever be attracted to both of those, like some sort of hybrid human who could enjoy beer AND wine? Or sports AND shopping?

leenamielus at Facetruth writes, “I Took Off My Hijab“:

By adding more layers. A knit hat and scarf around my neck to be exact.

I didn’t understand what was happening at first. People started talking to me more. Women would speak to me like I knew them since forever. Men looked at me like I was actually approachable. And I was made to feel like I was actually from this planet.

Maybe I was finally fitting in? Maybe I was no longer self conscious about my unique dress code and a face lacking makeup?

But then it became fishy. The Muslim taxi drivers who would almost always say “Assalamu Alaikum,” ask me where I’m from or if I’m single, or not allow me to pay for the fare became cold and dry. I would simply give the address, and the only dialog thereafter was at time of payment. It was puzzling.

Jacqueline Applebee at Blogging in Shadows writes, “Biphobia“:

The bank I work for starts an LGBT networking group.  I don’t quite believe it is real until I enter a room full of happy faces.  Queer staff and their partners from all over the South-East have travelled to our Brighton head office to take part in the launch.  Of course, Biphobia turns up to the event too.  He sloshes down bottles of wine, and eats all the sausage rolls.

A senior cashier from Littlehampton corners me by the windows.  “Did you bring your girlfriend with you?” she asks.

“I have a boyfriend,” I respond before I can stop myself.  “He was busy.”

The cashier looks like I’ve slapped her.  “This group is vitally important for gays and lesbians.  It’s not for straights.”

“I’m bisexual.”  I’m aware my voice is a whisper.  I’m aware I don’t want anyone else to hear me.  Biphobia slips an arm around my shoulder.  I feel totally intimidated.

Alan Austin at Independent Australia writes, “Churches combine to condemn Abbott’s evils“:

Last month, IAlisted several transgressions which have dismayed Roman Catholics. These include bioethical issues, persistent blatant lying, dudding Indigenous people, cutting overseas aid, abusing vulnerable people, militarism, spying and redistributing wealth and income in favour of the rich.

Since then, further wrongs have provoked the outrage of Catholics and Protestants alike.

What seems most offensive, however, is that those committing such clear violations of fundamental Christian teaching actually profess strong personal belief.

Such hypocrisy, according to all strands within Christendom, deserves special condemnation.

Several religious groups have sheeted home blame for this week’s loss of life on Manus Island to Abbott’s regime.

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It’s time (again) to stop using gay as an umbrella term

In an almost good article, arguing for continued inclusion of Trans* people, writer Tyler Curry fucks the rest of the article up by excluding bisexuals and intersex people.  Because the Huffington Post now requires you to link your Facebook profile to their site for you to comment, you now get an entire blog post growling about this issue instead of a comment on Huffington Post as I don’t have a Facebook account.

Look, I don’t even this article… Trans* people can be gay, lesbian, bisexual and straight, and they are a multidimensional part of the LGBTIQ community, a vital one that should be included and celebrated.  If you’re a transphobic arsehat that doesn’t agree then you should not be part of the LGBTIQ community.

If you’re going to write an article championing the continued inclusion (as if you could exclude them) of T, then you perhaps should examine your article and ensure that it’s completely inclusive and not excluding any other group, such as intersex (I), or bisexuals (B).  Tyler uses “gay and lesbian” and sometimes just “gay” to mean LGBTIQ, and we should beyond using gay as an umbrella term and making invisible lesbians, bisexuals, and intersex people.  Tyler uses bisexual once when referring to the “gay rights movement”… not “the LGBTIQ rights movement”, not the “queer rights movement”, no the “gay rights movement” because apparently they’re the rights that matter the most?  Tyler also seems to be completely oblivious to the existence of intersex people in the LGBTIQ community, as well as those who prefer to identify as queer.

This article is fail on so many levels, I’m disappointed in Tyler Curry and HuffPo (as usual) for failing to get it right.

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Let’s talk about Doctor Who, story telling and character development

This post is going to be about the most recent (2012/2013) series of Doctor Who and may touch on the 2013, 50th Anniversary episode, and the 2013 Christmas special.  If you haven’t watched any of these, and don’t want the spoilers ahead, have a kittie and enjoy the rest of the internet.

Ok, let’s get started

Story telling

It’s not that Moffat can’t tell a good story, well maybe it is.  Coupling was funny, but is based on his life, and Sherlock is based on Arthur Conan Doyle’s work, so maybe he can’t tell a good story.  What really annoyed me about this entire season (minus 50th anniversary special and the Christmas episode), was that the story arc, and apparently there was one, was pretty much non-existent.  The Christmas episode ended with the disbandment of “The Great Intelligence” so that it would be a long time before it could threaten the earth, or the galaxy or something.

The first episode of 2013 had a cameo appearance of the Great Intelligence (a seriously wanky name for a villain), that the Doctor doesn’t notice, but is a suggestion to the viewer that something more might come from this.

And then nothing, nothing concrete about the Great Intelligence until the final episode when we discover that the Great Intelligence is pissed at the Doctor for constantly upsetting his plans, the plans we should note that have never really happened during this season apart from the 2012 Christmas special and the first episode in 2013.  That’s two whole plans in a season, that’s not plans, that’s a side story that something forgot.

It turns out that the Great Intelligence has a massive backstory, but as a minor reoccurring villain the average fan, especially new fans, are not going to have the foggiest idea what is going on.  This is not a story arc, this is a shoehorned “let’s make everything neat and tidy and pretend we had a plan”.

River Song

The Name of the Doctor (final episode of this season), casts the Doctor as a selfish arsehole.  It’s not exactly like it’s hard to cast him like that, in an earlier season River Song tells Amy not to grow old in front of the Doctor, that it upsets him (oh woe, poor Doctor who has been associating with humans for at least 1000 years, he should be used to it).

After Clara has done something of her own volition for a change (more on that later), River attempts to stop the Doctor entering the bright shiny thing, and only at this point does the Doctor acknowledge that he can see her.  We find out that at this point in her timeline she’s dead, but is effectively haunting the doctor because he hasn’t said goodbye, and he’s been ignoring her because it’s painful.  Quite frankly I think being dead and haunting someone who won’t say goodbye to you is more painful than the Doctor’s fee fees (especially as her death was pretty tragic), but he is important man, so his feelings are totes more important that River’s, and she’s dead anyway.

Clara

Clara spends most of this season doing what’s she’s told.  Protect this, go there, do this, stay here, and this follows through until the 2013 Christmas episode.  When she does do her own thing, it’s often to save the Doctor from something or someone, or to beg someone else to take action to save the doctor.  She’s a stereotypical female character, feisty, determined, somewhat argumentative (but only to a point), and wants to have all the fun – except when she doesn’t.

The sad thing about the character of Clara is that there was a lot of potential for mystery and exploration of why she was always around saving the Doctor.  There should have been (given the ending of the episode The Name of the Doctor) more attempts by the Doctor to remember if he’d run into her before, or only recently (because it was only recently as far as the current stories go).

The Doctor’s “Mysterious Girl”, and the resolution of why she keeps appearing in the Doctor’s life is apparently the true arc of this episode, but again it’s shoehorned in.  There is the Doctor pondering it, but instead of actually talking to people who might know (as he’s done in other seasons), or doing much beyond sometimes thinking about it (out loud), it’s not really the point of the season, even though it is.

The pregnant/not pregnant scan during an earlier season when it turned out that Amy was effectively a replicant/pod person (or whatever they were called), was quite well done, and on reflection you could see that the stories linked into each other as there was a common theme.  Clara is not a theme, she is a character.  You can’t really use a character like Clara as a theme in the same way as you can use a scan, or a series of words (Bad Wolf), or the scar in the universe.

And really the Doctor treats her like she’s 7 half the time.  He attempts to protect her, even when she doesn’t want protecting.  He breaks his promises to her about not leaving her behind, or about letting her join in the fight, and apparently this doesn’t piss her off enough to tell him to get fucked (and it should).  Unlike some of the other “companions” that the Doctor has recently, Clara obeys and sets out to do the best job obeying that she possibly can, except when she thinks she’s being left behind, in which case she’ll do what she can to stay and help/protect the doctor.

The Christmas episode

Which makes the Christmas episode all the more annoying.  Against Clara’s express wishes, and the Doctor’s own promise (and we didn’t see him cross his fingers), he sends her away, multiple times.  Clara fights to come back and manages the first time, but not the second, until she is brought back by the Tasha from the Church of the Papal Mainframe.  Seriously the Doctor is such an arsehole.

The Doctor spends over 300 years on Trenzalore, and for the first time, despite hanging around in his current form for a few hundred years, he ages and gets frail… how many hundreds of years, on a planet that is pretty much at war every day, does the Doctor stay there?  The planet’s population seems to not just survive, but also thrive despite being at war for over 300 years (that’s a lot of war), though I can be convinced that the war was more occasional incursions.

Once again Clara saves the day by begging the Time Lords (who just want to be set free so they can keep being the arseholes of the universe), to save the Doctor.  Her mission in life is to save the Doctor, she has no other purpose in this universe.  Sure she gets to look after children from time to time, but mostly she’s just off saving the Doctor.  It’s been remarked upon before that women in Moffat’s universe are the nurturing caring types and that’s pretty much all they get to be, and Clara pretty much just that.

Conclusion

Moffat really needs to stop being show runner.  He’s had lots of fun now, but the show will do better (and attract all the fans that have left because of him) if someone else took over.  The last season was so disappointing and frustrating because it was so badly put together.  Some of the stories were good, but I watched the season out of habit (and because I was travelling and watching TV during the heat of the Roman summer was a necessary thing).  I want to be gripped by the stories and the season arc like I was when Russell T Davies was running the show. I want the seasons to be as tight as Torchwood and as gripping, and this last season was a joke.

Doctor Who isn’t likely to drop in ratings anytime soon, because people are still watching it and still hoping for the magic to return.  It’s not going to return, and I’m beginning to lose interest in watching future episodes.  I’m vaguely interested in Peter Capaldi’s Doctor, but with Moffat running the show, I don’t know if I can be bothered.

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A radical suggestion

At yoga last week, as we were being told how to stand in mountain pose, to stand strong and let our legs and feet connect us to the ground, to not try and hold ourselves apart from the floor using our shoulders, my yoga instructor said, “take up all the room you need”.

Take Up All The Room You Need.

Far too often women, especially fat women, are made to feel very conscious of the amount of space that they take up.  Let me quote from people who say it much better than me:

I got to thinking about just how conscious I am of the space my body takes up, and how I have to negotiate my body in a world that marks me as “abnormal”.  The more I paid attention to it, the more I noticed that almost every aspect of my life is framed around this process of moving my body around in the world. (Fatheffalump)

 

One thing that fat people often tell me makes them uncomfortable is the idea that they take up too much space.  Here’s what I think about that.  I think that our bodies take up just the right amount of space, whatever size they are.  If they get bigger or smaller they still take up just the right amount of space.  Because they are our BODIES.

It is ridiculous for people to think that they, and anyone smaller than them, take up “the right” amount of space, but those bigger than them take up too much. Spare me.

Nobody takes up too much space just by virtue of existing.  Tall people don’t take up too much space.  People in wheelchairs don’t take up too much space.  Fat people don’t take up too much space.  If you are on a crowded train and you sit with your legs completely splayed out sprawling across as much space as you can, then an argument can be made that you are taking up too much space, but it is impossible that your body takes up too much space just being your body. (Dances with Fat)

 

Fat phobia is a largely invisible form of oppression in our society. Frequently masked as concern for health (and the link between fat and health is widely exaggerated), it is nonetheless a highly damaging form of body policing, usually targeting women. In an extension of institutional sexism, women who dare to take up space are punished and ostracized, whether it be their conversational space, their body language, or the literal volume their bodies occupy.  (Fire Sea Studios)

I never considered my yoga instructor to be overly radical, but by telling each of us in that class to take up the space we needed, she showed that she understood the pressure to take up less space, the need for everyone in the class, and everywhere else, to take up the space that they need, and to be comfortable with that.

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The biggest and most epic linkspam of all time (Jan 2014)

Thanks to my blog running out of bandwidth in early December, and then subsequent headaches as I migrated the entire thing to another provider (with more bandwidth), I didn’t get to do my linkspam post in early December, so this will be epically epic. Sit down, get some popcorn, and enjoy the stories.

Michael Shulman at the New York Times writes, “Bisexual: A Label With Layers” (which for some reason is in “fashion and style”):

Whatever the answer, Mr. Daley’s disclosure reignited a fraught conversation within the L.G.B.T. community, having to do with its third letter. Bisexuality, like chronic fatigue syndrome, is often assumed to be imaginary by those on the outside. The stereotypes abound: bisexuals are promiscuous, lying or in denial. They are gay men who can’t yet admit that they are gay, or “lesbians until graduation,” sowing wild oats before they find husbands.

“The reactions that you’re seeing are classic in terms of people not believing that bisexuality really exists, feeling that it’s a transitional stage or a form of being in the closet,” said Lisa Diamond, a professor at the University of Utah who studies sexual orientation.

Adam Mordacai presents a fantastic spoken word piece by Guante, at Upworthy, “If You Tell This Dude To ‘Man Up,’ You Better Be Prepared To Learn Why What You Said Is Awful

Colin Freeman at the The Telegraph writes, “Child taken from womb by social services“:

It will be raised in Parliament this week by John Hemming, a Liberal Democrat MP. He chairs the Public Family Law Reform Coordinating Campaign, which wants reform and greater openness in court proceedings involving family matters.

He said: “I have seen a number of cases of abuses of people’s rights in the family courts, but this has to be one of the more extreme.

“It involves the Court of Protection authorising a caesarean section without the person concerned being made aware of what was proposed. I worry about the way these decisions about a person’s mental capacity are being taken without any apparent concern as to the effect on the individual being affected.”

Benquo at LessWrong writes, “Wait vs Interrupt Culture”:

Then I went to St. John’s College – the talking school (among other things). In Seminar (and sometimes in Tutorials) there was a totally different conversational norm. People were always expected to wait until whoever was talking was done. People would apologize not just for interrupting someone who was already talking, but for accidentally saying something when someone else looked like they were about to speak. This seemed totally crazy. Some people would just blab on unchecked, and others didn’t get a chance to talk at all. Some people would ignore the norm and talk over others, and nobody interrupted them back to shoot them down.

But then a few interesting things happened:

1) The tutors were able to moderate the discussions, gently. They wouldn’t actually scold anyone for interrupting, but they would say something like, “That’s interesting, but I think Jane was still talking,” subtly pointing out a violation of the norm.

2) People started saying less at a time.

Maria Bello at The New York Times writes, “Coming Out as a Modern Family“:

My feelings about attachment and partnership have always been that they are fluid and evolving. Jack’s father, Dan, will always be my partner because we share Jack. Dan is the best father and the most wonderful man I’ve known. Just because our relationship is nonsexual doesn’t make him any less of a partner. We share the same core values, including putting our son first. My more recent ex, Bryn, remains my partner because we share our activism. And Clare will always be my partner because she is also my best friend.

Van Badham writes at Women’s Agenda, “Van Badham battles the Brosphere: On women, trolls and the Australian media in 2013“:

Perhaps due to the phenomenon of watching Australia’s first female prime minister forced, position notwithstanding, to suffer the sexist indignity so familiar to Australia’s working women, local feminist commentators have found a ripe readership for their opinions. Ripe enough, in fact, that many of the old mastheads are now commissioning from a pool of what used to be marginal activity. Discussions of rape culture, slut-shaming, abortion wars, the gender pay gap and sex discrimination are happening not in dingy ex-broom-closets in university union buildings or in photocopied newsletters mailed out irregularly from an underfunded women’s centre, but across the mainstream media – and every day.

Georgia Dent at Women’s Agenda, “Women need to work an extra 25 years to match men’s superannuation“:

The average 60-year-old Australian woman would need to work an extra 25 years in order to retire with the same superannuation account balance as her male counterpart.

The Westpac Women & Retirement Readiness Report, released yesterday, shows a $121,200 gap between the median super account balance for women and men ($108,900 and $230,100 respectively). This means a female earning an average wage of $51,200 would need to work until she is 85 to start her retirement on a level financial playing field.

Bob Owens at Bearing Arms writes, “Southport, NC cop shoots tased and restrained 90-pound HS student after allegedly stating, “we don’t have time for this.”*trigger warning – mental health, police violence*

It appears that the two officers that initially responded to the call had Keith Vidal calming down from his episode with a third officer arrived. The situation then immediately turned for the worse, and Vidal was tased repeatedly and was in the grip of two officers when the third officer reached in with his duty sidearm and killed him at point blank range.

Bridie Jabour at The Guardian writes, “History wars: the men behind the national school curriculum review” and gives a run down on Kevin Donnelly and Ken Wiltshire.

Preston Towers at AusOpinion writes, ““Everyone’s an Expert on Education” – Pyne’s Education Revolution of Two Men“:

An extraordinary timeline. First of all – the review by Donnelly and Wiltshire is supposed to take 4 months. 4 months to consult educators, administrators and legislators in every state and territory, analyse the education system of other countries. That sounds like they’ll only have time for “talking to a few friends”, rather than broadly consulting.  Next, that the changes recommended will be implemented in 2015.  How Pyne suggests schools will be able to get time for teachers to rewrite programs is not mentioned, nor is how the review from Donnelly and Wiltshire will be converted to outcomes that could be easily integrated.  Programs for 2015 in Years 8 and 10 will start to be written in Term 1 this year – many schools would have already finished them. It’s been one of the largely program rewrites in the past decades of teaching and Pyne wants schools to change the programs within six months?  I would suggest school systems – not just public ones – may have a problem with this.

gradient lair writes, “10 Ways That White Feminist and White Anti-Racism Allies Are Abusive To Me In Social Media

The idea that I should simply overlook these irritating and manipulative passive aggressive behaviors, ones that occur hundreds of times a month (not hyperbole) simply because these Whites on the Left don’t tweet me direct slurs (some do use coded racist language though) is something that doesn’t sit well with me. Microaggressions harm. Occurring regularly over time has just as much impact as dealing with less frequent incidents of overt racism and the day to day of dealings with institutional racism.

Victoria Bond at HuffPost Gay Voices (still problematic) writes, “Three Problems for Bisexuality“:

Connor at The Independent put the sexual revolution front and center rightly. The work of psychologist Roy Baumeister, for example, supports that the sexual revolution impacted women’s lives much more than it did those of men. But Connor obscures the main point of female sexuality’s adaptability (pointing toward bisexuality in the case of same-sex contact) by pitting the findings on women against those of men, those of “the standard.” Connor’s reading of women as “catching up with men,” implies we are behind and also tacitly considered less than men. Freud himself immortalized the inferiority with which women are commonly regarded in his most famous question: “What do women want?” Women’s desires may even in the 21st century remain mysterious irrespective of how many answers feminism and one of its many offshoots, like the work-life balance debate, for example, has provided. All the same science is not clueless. This “women are mysterious because we’re not like men” crap is just that: crap. Chivers’s research at least lays the carnal aspect of female sexual desire bare. We are aroused by male-male, female-female, female-male and even, to some degree, animal sounds. In other words, female desire is flexible. Given this is the case doesn’t it make sense that women would be more profoundly adaptable to the evolution the sexual revolution set off and that men’s numbers remain steady, due to how little we have allowed the sexual revolution to really touch them? Especially given their sexual wiring shows less changeability than ours.

Adam Clarke Estes of Gizmodo writes, “Your Face and Name Will Appear in Google Ads Starting Today“:

So how does that make you feel? Google obviously wants you to feel okay about the changes. The company assured users in its announcement blog post, “On Google, you’re in control of what you share.” (Emphasis Google’s) And that’s technically true. You can opt out of the face-flaunting new feature through this settings page in Google+, but if you don’t do anything, Google says it will use your information without explicit consent.

Celeste Liddle at Rantings of an Aboriginal Feminist wrote, “Further to my piece on sexism, racism and the AFL“:

In addition to the Brownlow Night point, I also feel it is important to look at women’s sport as a whole. Women work their guts out on the fields constantly. They work just as hard, if not harder, than the men. In comparison though, they receive very little recognition for their efforts and dedication. Their sponsorship is chicken feed and their professional earnings, with only a couple of exceptions, amount to pocket money in comparison to what men in AFL will make. In addition, society itself, due to a deeply embedded culture of believing women’s sport is not as good due to their lesser physical capabilities (or something) or that a woman’s place is not on the field. For further information, please revisit the kind of slurs you hear directed to male players when they are perceived to not be playing their best game. Our amazing Australian women’s cricket team which continually brings home the trophies gets zero recognition compared to our currently mediocre men’s team. Our almost unbeatable netballers get paid about $15k in their rookie year, compared to the $130k AFL players get. Each year, the Deadly Awards offer three sports categories for men to win in, one unisex category and one for women. You get my drift.

Annabel Crabb at the ABC wrote, “Pay cuts hurt, don’t they Prime Minister?

People don’t like pay cuts. It’s a uniquely insulting process to have to go through, as it entails not only a decline in quality of life, but a broader judgment, keenly-felt by the subject, that the world does not value what they do. And that is not a nice feeling.

We know that this feeling is universal, because it’s exactly how Tony Abbott felt, after losing 40 per cent of his income in 2007 when the Howard government lost power and he went back to a basic backbench salary.

“What’s it called? Mortgage stress? The advent of the Rudd Government has caused serious mortgage stress for a section of the Australian community, i.e. former Howard government ministers!” he said at the time.

Mark Pygas at Listverse writes, “10 Amazing Women Who Led Rebellions“:

Male revolutionaries such as Che Guevara have gone down as heroes for leading rebellions against “the Man.” But forgotten by history are the women who took on far greater powers than Fulgencio Batista. Throughout the ages, women have led rebellions and revolutions which took on the might of the Roman Empire and the vast wealth of the British East India Company.

Sarah Morrison at The Independent writes, “Russian bisexual activist Irina Putilova is released from detention and taken off fast-track asylum list“:

A woman who was facing deportation to Russia has been released from detention and taken off the tougher fast-track asylum system after thousands of people signed a petition to support her release.

Irina Putilova, a 28-year-old bisexual activist, left St Petersburg six months ago, after fearing for her safety. The activist talked to The Independent from Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre on Monday and said that under Russia’s new anti-gay legislation, which criminalises the promotion of non-heterosexual relationships, she did not feel safe to return home.  She added that it was “totally impossible” for her to be free in Russia as an LGBTQ person.

Katy Waldman at Slate writes, “Society Tells Men That Friendship Is Girly. Men Respond by Not Having Friends“:

American men are starving for friends, writes sociologist Lisa Wade in Salon. Or, more precisely, adult white heterosexual men have fewer friends than any other group. The friendships they do form are often superficial, involving less support and “lower levels of self-disclosure and trust.” The sad part is that surveys show that men desire closeness and intimacy from their male friends just as women do. So why don’t they have it? Around the age of 15 or 16, Wade suggests, friend-like traits such as emotional openness, vulnerability, supportiveness, and caring become risky for boys to show; these qualities get suppressed in favor of self-sufficiency, stoicism, and competitive fire.

Wade sifts through the work of researcher Niobe Way, who interviewed high-school boys over four years about their evolving same-sex bonds. One kid, Justin, said this about his best guy friend:

We love each other … that’s it … you have this thing that is deep, so deep, it’s within you, you can’t explain it. It’s just a thing that you know that person is that person … I guess in life, sometimes two people can really, really understand each other and really have a trust, respect and love for each other.

Three years later, Justin came down to earth:

[My friend and I] we mostly joke around. It’s not like really anything serious or whatever … I don’t talk to nobody about serious stuff … I don’t talk to nobody. I don’t share my feelings really. Not that kind of person or whatever … It’s just something that I don’t do.

Hugo Gye at the Mail Online writes, “Work – it’s not for girls: Most Britons still believe men make better plumbers and pilots and think women shouldn’t be soldiers or electricians“:

Gender stereotypes are not yet a thing of the past as a new survey reveals that many people still have strong opinions on which jobs are suitable for men and women.

Two-fifths of Britons believe there are some jobs which women should never do, including soldier, mechanic and surgeon.

A similar proportion think that men are unable to do some jobs properly, such as beautician, florist and nurse.

Doug Saunders at The Globe and Mail writes, “Britain has an ethnic problem: the English“:

Let’s face it: Britain has an ethnic problem. Its patchwork of peoples, once the envy of the world, has become frayed, its harmony devolving into anger and xenophobia. And, we should be honest, the problem is rooted in one ethnic group – one large but troubled people who are failing to integrate into modern postindustrial society.

While some of its more ambitious members have found success in politics and business, this community is falling behind educationally and economically as a whole, self-segregating into ethnic enclaves, becoming increasingly prone to violence, rioting and substance abuse. More troubling, in recent years they have begun to vote for ethnic extremist parties that threaten to undermine basic British values.

Who are these people? The English. Once a tolerant, welcoming people who thrived in scholarship and commerce, they have become a drag on British society.

Janell Ross at The Root writes, “Racism Linked to Infant Mortality and Learning Disabilities“:

On the long list of health disparities that vex and disproportionately affect the lives of African Americans—diabetes, cancer and obesity among them—one of the earliest and, it turns out, most significant, may be just when a black child is born.

A pair of Emory University studies released this year have connected the large share of African-American children born before term with the biologically detectable effects of stress created in women’s bodies after decades of dealing with American racism. As shocking as that itself may sound, the studies’ findings don’t end there.

Racism, and its ability to increase the odds that a pregnant mother will deliver her child early, can kill. There is also evidence that racism can alter the capacity for a child to learn and distorts lives in ways that can reproduce inequality, poverty and long-term disadvantage, the studies found.

Sean Strub at HuffPost Gay Voices (still problematic) writes, “Kenneth Cole Needs a History Lesson“:

The “first AIDS research organization” was actually the AIDS Medical Foundation, which preceded amfAR by two-and-a-half years and was founded by people with AIDS, including Michael Callen, Dr. Joseph Sonnabend, a pioneering researcher and community physician and Dr. Krim (pictured on right; photo by Peter Serling). Sonnabend knew Krim from interferon research and had asked for her help in raising money to study his sick patients. The partner of one of Sonnabend’s patients — an African American, I might add, whose role has also been largely lost to history — suggested formation of a foundation to pursue research drawing on Sonnabend’s pool of patients.

At the Gamma Project, “Is The Bisexual Experience different?“:

I started at Gamma Project with former experience counselling gay and lesbian clients in similar community settings. At the time I felt my previous knowledge was easily transferable to bisexual men and their concerns. After several counselling sessions with a variety of bisexual clients I was convinced otherwise and surprised how different this client group was to my previous client group, the gay and lesbian community.

What stayed with me most was that many of my client’s stories had an underlying theme of isolation and secrecy. It didn’t matter if I was talking to transsexual clients who were waiting to dress up at home once their wives and families had left, or if I was engaging with married and sexually loyal bisexual men who were yearning for male friends to share their emotional life – their common concern was a craving for being accepted and acknowledged.

Nitasha Tiku writes at Valley Wag, “Paul Graham Says Women “Haven’t Been Hacking For the Past 10 Years”“:

Okay. Deep breaths. Still with me? Graham makes clear in this interview that people who do not fit into the archetype of the precocious programmer are routinely dismissed as unworthy. That archetype, of course, is usually attached to a penis. No wonder Graham once said he can be “tricked by anyone who looks like Mark Zuckerberg.” If you’re a female engineer who found her interest in STEM education squashed early in life by gender norms, but had the guts to try again later, your cred as a coder is questionable. If you’ve been programming for the past 10 years, rip off your invisibility cloak because Graham has never seen the likes of you. That must be why Graham’s wife Jessica Livingston, who cofounded Y Combinator and has been instrumental from the beginning, is the institution’s “secret weapon.”

Will Ripley at 9news.com writes, “Transgender woman’s lawsuit leads to CDC policy change for breast cancer screenings“:

When Blair tried getting a free mammogram this spring, she never imagined what would happen.

“When I was told that I didn’t qualify because I was transgender, that just really shook my foundations,” Blair said. “I’m really no different than anybody else.”

Her income at the time was below the poverty line and she met all the requirements, except one: CDC policy only covered “genetically female” patients.

Ray Filar at The Guardian writes, “Where were all the lesbians in Queer as Pop?“:

In these post-Queer as Folk times, the word “queer” is rarely said on TV. Not with any approval, anyway. That might be why Channel 4′s documentary Queer as Pop: From Gay Scene to Mainstream, initially seemed so exciting. If you’re part of a subculture whose existence is generally ignored – despite its considerable influence on wider culture – you grasp at any mainstream attempt at representation.

Yet in promising to explore “the men, music and moments that have brought pop music out the closet”, this documentary replicated mainstream prejudices by writing women out of its cultural history. Featuring a bland narrative peppered with sweeping generalisations (including the frankly fantastic claim that David Bowie putting his arm around guitarist Mick Ronson on stage was “more important in British pop culture than all the Pride marches, and Stonewall”), the show was livened only by the undeniably great pop music.

Jack Weatherford at Lapham’s Quarterly writes, “The Wrestler Princess“:

Although mentioned in a variety of Muslim sources as well as in the accounts of Marco Polo, Khutulun almost disappeared into the fog of historic myth. Only by chance was the story of the wrestling princess resurrected in a twisted way in the eighteenth century. In 1710, while writing the first biography of Genghis Khan, the French scholar François Pétis de La Croix published a book of tales and fables combining various Asian literary themes. One of his longest and best stories derived from the history of Khutulun. In his adaptation, however, she bore the title Turandot, meaning “Turkish Daughter,” the nineteen-year-old daughter of Altoun Khan, the Mongol emperor of China. Instead of challenging her suitors in wrestling, Pétis de La Croix had her confront them with three riddles. In his more dramatic version, instead of wagering mere horses, the suitor had to forfeit his life if he failed to answer correctly.

Fifty years later, the popular Italian playwright Carlo Gozzi made her story into a drama of a “tigerish woman” of “unrelenting pride.” In a combined effort by two of the greatest literary talents of the era, Friedrich von Schiller translated the play into German as Turandot, Prinzessin von China, and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe directed it on the stage in Weimar in 1802.

More than a century later, Italian composer Giacomo Puccini was still working on his opera Turandot at the time of his death 1924. Unlike his other operatic heroine, Madame Butterfly who lived and died for the love of a man, Turandot rejected any man whom she deemed inferior to her. His opera became the most famous of the artistic variations of her life’s story.

Katie W at The Toast writes, “Misandrist Animals“:

The anglerfish swims. She spends her life in the deep darkness of the sea. She notices little outside of herself, only the glow of the occasional passing edible fish and the movement in water created by those too big to be seen in the darkness. Encounters with other creatures happen so far in between that, most of the time, she believes herself to be the only one. She forgets that her swimming is a purposeful search for food; in time, she forgets everything but herself. The majority of her life is spent in darkness, alone. Her interactions with the males of the species are cut short-she notices them briefly as the find her, but then they bite and merge and lose themselves in the worship of her, and she no longer remembers their existence. She does not acknowledge the others who were when she lays eggs, because by the time she is ready, they no longer exist; they are a part of her. They are a tail, a fin, a reproductive organ hanging off of her magnificent surface. The anglerfish requires nothing but the intermittent fish meal: a sacrifice to her altar. Knowing herself to be a god, the anglerfish swims as a prayer to the only creature in the void.

Adina Nack at Girl w/Pen! writes, “Healthy Relationships and Families – Beyond Monogamy“:

Yes, poly women say that they relish the opportunity to have multiple partners. The equality of allowing everyone access to multiple partners, regardless of gender, means that polyamory has a significantly different impact on women than polygyny. Women in poly relationships tend to be highly-educated and able to be financially independent if circumstances require – a significant departure from women in polygynous marriages who are typically denied education and access to paid work. Poly women generally chose the relationship style as adults, rather than entering arranged marriages as adolescents who may not have even been consulted about their wishes. Results of this gender parity are evident at the community level, in which most of the high-visibility leaders, activists, writers, and researchers are women.

Charlotte Shane at The New Inquiry writes, “Downward-Facing Drones“:

I’ve heard particularly devout practioners claim that yoga, if it were even more widely practiced than it already is, would eliminate murder and soothe tensions between nations. It’s common knowledge among yoga devotees that if only politicians did yoga, civility would be restored to our government. (It’s less commonly known that Congressional gyms already offer regular yoga classes.)

Speculations like this might seem too facile to be worth criticizing, but they’re a symptom of prizing the body as a foolproof thoroughfare to one’s heart. Though Americans may treat sports heroes as gods and resist acknowledging their obvious flaws, rarely does a form of exercise itself convey the philosophy that physical prowess leads to holiness.

Laurie Penny at New Statesman writes, “Sherlock and the Adventure of the Overzealous Fanbase“:

Fan-ficcers are used to being treated as the pondscum of the nerd world, a few slimy feet below the table-top roleplayers and historical re-enacters. They don’t care, because they know – alright, alright, because we know – that fanfic is brilliant. I’ve spent many years hanging out in fanfic communities, mostly as a reader rather than a writer (my cringeworthy teenage Buffy slash was mostly done on paper). Fan fiction is where modern storytelling enters the realm of myth and folktale, where characters take on a life beyond the control of their authors, where they are let loose in communities with their own ideas about how to tell a story. More and more writers are coming out of those communities – not just E L James with her steamy Twilight rip-off, but fanficcers who break out into publishing their own original books, sometimes to great critical acclaim.

Excuse me, by the way, from taking a break from serious social justice writing to totally nerd out. It’s just that I’m desperately interested in stories, and who gets to tell them, and who has to listen.

Barbara Ehrenreich at The Atlantic writes, “It Is Expensive to Be Poor“:

For most women in poverty, in both good times and bad, the shortage of money arises largely from inadequate wages. When I worked on my book, Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America, I took jobs as a waitress, nursing-home aide, hotel housekeeper, Wal-Mart associate, and a maid with a house-cleaning service. I did not choose these jobs because they were low-paying. I chose them because these are the entry-level jobs most readily available to women.

What I discovered is that in many ways, these jobs are a trap: They pay so little that you cannot accumulate even a couple of hundred dollars to help you make the transition to a better-paying job. They often give you no control over your work schedule, making it impossible to arrange for child care or take a second job. And in many of these jobs, even young women soon begin to experience the physical deterioration—especially knee and back problems—that can bring a painful end to their work life.

Michelle Nijhuis writes at Slate, “Bilbo Baggins Is a Girl“:

And you know what? The switch was easy. Bilbo, it turns out, makes a terrific heroine. She’s tough, resourceful, humble, funny, and uses her wits to make off with a spectacular piece of jewelry. Perhaps most importantly, she never makes an issue of her gender—and neither does anyone else.

Despite what can seem like a profusion of heroines in kids’ books, girls are still underrepresented in children’s literature. A 2011 study of almost 6,000 children’s books published between 1900 and 2000 showed that only 31 percent had female central characters. While the disparity has declined in recent years, it persists—particularly, and interestingly, among animal characters. And many books with female protagonists take place in male-dominated worlds, peopled with male doctors and male farmers and mothers who have to ask fathers for grocery money (Richard Scarry, I’m looking at you). The imbalance is even worse in kids’ movies: Geena Davis’ Institute on Gender in Media found that for every female character in recent family films, there are three male characters. Crowd scenes, on average, are only 17 percent female.

Susana Polo at The Mary Sue wrote, “The Two Most Inexplicable Examples of Video Game Community Harassment This Week“:

In my title I call each of these examples of harassment “inexplicable,” even though they have clear explanations: some folks are uncomfortable with a woman making video games. Some folks are uncomfortable with a perceived feminist being involved in their video games. But “inexplicable” was really my first reaction: you mean a bit of gender swapped fan art led to backers demanding that heads roll and money be refunded? That an interactive fiction game placed on Steam Greenlight would incite an internet community that apparently believes that because they have the attention of men, women can never suffer from depression?

Dr. Elisabeth A. Sheff at Psychology Today writes, “Fear of the Polyamorous Possibility“:

Coming to the realization that there is an option to have openly conducted non-monogamous relationships is what I call the polyamorous possibility. Once people become aware that there is middle-ground between monogamy and cheating they have grasped the polyamorous possibility, and can never unthink it again. They may reject the idea or decide to explore it further, but the potential for themselves or their partner to initiate discussion of a polyamorous relationship exists in a way it had not before they became aware that polyamory is a social option. In my research, I have found that three common reactions follow realization of the polyamorous possibility.

Annie-Rose Strasser at Think Progress writes, “Fox Guest Encourages Female Host To Quit, Get Married, Have Babies“:

In the piece, Venker argues that women won’t find fulfillment trying to balance a relationship and family with full-time work. “Financial independence is a great thing,” she writes, “but you can’t take your paycheck to bed with you. And there’s nothing empowering about being beholden to an employer when what you really want is to have a baby. ” She uses this opinion to advocate for women having less of a role in the workforce, and letting men be the breadwinners. “Unlike women,” Venker writes, “a man’s identity is inextricably linked to his paycheck.”

Tracey Lien at Polygon writes, “No girls allowed“:

If the selection at the average retailer is anything to go by, girls don’t play video games. If cultural stereotypes are anything to go by, video games are for males. They’re the makers, the buyers and the players.

There is often truth to stereotypes. But whatever truth there may be, the stereotype does not show the long and complicated path taken to formulate it, spread it and have it come back to shape societal views.

The stereotype, for example, does not explain why “girls don’t play video games.” It does not reveal who or what is responsible for it. It does not explain how an industry that started with games like Pong (1972) or the first computer version of Tic-Tac-Toe (1959) came to be responsible for a medium that, for most of its history, hasn’t had even an aisle’s worth of games for Maida.

ReBecca Theodore-Vachon at RogerEbert.com writes, “Acting right around White folks: on “12 Years a Slave” and “respectability politics”“:

In his article “I Hate Myself: What Are Respectability Politics And Why Do Black People Subscribe To Them?”, Maurice Dolberry defines Black Respectability: “They are an undefined yet understood set of ideas about how Black people should live positively and how we should define Black American culture.” Dolberry traces the roots of this ideology as far back as the 19th century with the formation of the Women’s Convention – a group of Black women from various Baptist churches whose mission was to uplift and unify the African-American community. One of their missions was to go into poorer communities, handing out flyers that instructed them how to behave properly in public, proper hygeine and the importance of sexual abstinence. Unfortunately, Black Respectability politics would only target those of lesser economic means.

Even noted Black intellectuals like W.E.B. DuBois engaged in respectability politics. In his 1920 essay “The Damnation of Women,” DuBois described abolitionists Sojourner Truth and Harriet Tubman as “strong, primitive types of Negro womanhood,” and hoped for a “finer, type of black woman wherein trembles all of that delicate sense of beauty and striving for self-realization.” While DuBois appreciated both women’s contributions to the end slavery, their physical appearance and socioeconomic background did not qualify them as the right kind of “Negro” DuBois desired.

Dr. Jill McDevitt at A Day in the Life of a Sexologist wrote, “I accompanied someone to the police station to report a sexual assault, and this is what happened*trigger warning for discussion of rape, rape apologia, and arsehats*

Amanda Hess at the Pacific Standard wrote, “Why Women Aren’t Welcome on the Internet“: *trigger warning for online harassment*

A woman doesn’t even need to occupy a professional writing perch at a prominent platform to become a target. According to a 2005 report by the Pew Research Center, which has been tracking the online lives of Americans for more than a decade, women and men have been logging on in equal numbers since 2000, but the vilest communications are still disproportionately lobbed at women. We are more likely to report being stalked and harassed on the Internet—of the 3,787 people who reported harassing incidents from 2000 to 2012 to the volunteer organization Working to Halt Online Abuse, 72.5 percent were female. Sometimes, the abuse can get physical: A Pew survey reported that five percent of women who used the Internet said “something happened online” that led them into “physical danger.” And it starts young: Teenage girls are significantly more likely to be cyberbullied than boys. Just appearing as a woman online, it seems, can be enough to inspire abuse. In 2006, researchers from the University of Maryland set up a bunch of fake online accounts and then dispatched them into chat rooms. Accounts with feminine usernames incurred an average of 100 sexually explicit or threatening messages a day. Masculine names received 3.7.

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Getting it wrong (again)

This post is going to discuss the second book and movie in the Hunger Games Trilogy, Catching Fire.  There will be discussion of the plot, so if you haven’t read or watched the movie and don’t want to be spoiled, wander away now.

I love the Hunger Games series.  I love the writing, I love the depth of the characters, and I love that the main character is an incredibly traumatised teenager who is doing her best to protect those she loves and who tries to be strong despite suffering from untreated PTSD.

Jason Kottke put together quotes from two interesting posts on Gender Roles and Monogamy in the Hunger Games,  and the quotes are interesting (I haven’t yet read them in full), and then he makes an incredibly gendered slur and messes the whole post up.

Maybe this is why the end of Catching Fire (minor spoilers!) — Katniss as the cliched irrational hysterical woman who can’t be trusted with information — felt so out of place compared to her gender fluidity throughout the rest of the movie.

Now, I don’t know if Kottke has actually read the books, but he clearly failed to grasp the second last scene of the movie.  Katniss (who is a teenager and I think that really needs to be kept in mind), wakes up in a Captiol aircraft, after thinking she was dead.  She takes off the oxygen mask, pulls the drip out of her arm and grabs the first weapon to hand – because she’s not only traumatised, she’s also rightly paranoid.  She listens to the voices on the other side of a door, and then charges in asking where Peeta is.

When she discovers who is on the other side of the door, and that Peeta isn’t there she is upset and furious.  She is not “hysterical” which is a gendered slur.  She is not “irrational”, another gendered slur.  She is upset that Peeta has been left behind because she knows what will happen to him, after watching the beating of Cinna at the beginning of the Quarter Quell.

And the reasons that Haymitch gave her for not letting her in on the plot was actually entirely reasonable, Snow was watching her, and with them watching her, the rest of them were free to wheel, deal and do everything else behind her.  It was in everyone’s interest that she not be told.  I didn’t see her fury at being kept in the dark about that, but about the fact that the promises made to her that Peeta would be kept safe even if she dies, were betrayed.  She cared more about him living than she did about herself, and those who had made promises to keep him safe had broken those promises.  Of course she was pissed off, she had every right to be.  She was not irrational and she was not hysterical.

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