Posted: May 22, 2013 at 10:42 pm | Tags: bisexuality, equal marriage, lgbtiq, privilege
I can’t believe I’m still writing articles about this, but here we go again. Recently Murray Lipp, a social justice activist in the US, penned an article for the exclusionary named HuffPost “Gay Voices” section titled, “‘Gay Marriage’ and ‘Marriage Equality’ — Both Terms Matter“.
Clearly, not everyone shares the same understanding of the terms “gay marriage” and “marriage equality” and I think it’s crucially important, in the overall quest for equal marriage rights, that the relationship between these terms is explored and articulated.
Just about everyone (even those who have no connection with or interest in gay rights politics) understands what is meant by “gay marriage” — it’s the phenomenon of two people of the same sex getting married, a woman and a woman, or a man and man.
Except it’s not. Gay marriage, is two gay people getting married, not two people of the same sex. If I married my girlfriend I would not be having getting gay married, as neither of us are gay. The continual privileging of “gay” to mean QUILTBAG, makes invisible anyone who doesn’t identify as gay.
In general, however, it is the phrase “gay marriage” — and not “same-sex marriage” — which has dominated public discourse when discussion turns to marriage between persons of the same sex.
Which is typically because those who identify as gay have found the term useful, and haven’t pushed back on media using an exclusionary term. Those that spoke the loudest were handed a term that suited their identity and they ran with it. If the media had started with “same sex marriage” the story would be quite different and we’d all be much happier.
In recent years there has been a growing trend by gay rights organizations, and politicians pursuing changes in marriage laws, to downplay the words “gay marriage” and to focus instead on “marriage equality.” While the logic behind this strategy is understandable it has also led to confusion as to what these different labels mean and has resulted in some supporters of same-sex marriage developing an unwarrantedly negative view of the phrase “gay marriage.”
Could that be because “gay marriage” completely excludes those who identify as bisexual, or those trans* folk who don’t identify as gay? I have a very negative view of the phrase “gay marriage” and it is not at all unwarranted. After all, I want to be part of the team, not on the sidelines being ignore as the bisexual community is far to commonly used to.
Adjectives are a key part of language. These important words help to describe differences between similar things. They bring visibility to the diversity that exists in just about every aspect of human existence. Without adjectives language would have considerably less communicative value. Placing the word “gay” in front of “marriage” provides useful descriptive information.
Yup, useful descriptive information that the person using the term doesn’t understand that using exclusionary language is a problem (words matter people). If you want to be an ally to the bisexual community, and bisexuals:
Use inclusive language. Unless you know for a fact that both members of a couple are gay, refer to them as a same-sex couple, not a gay or lesbian couple. Likewise, use “same-sex marriage” rather than “gay marriage”, “LGBT rights” rather than “gay rights,” “the LGBT community” rather than “the gay community”, “pride” or “LGBT pride” rather than “gay pride”, “homophobia and biphobia” rather than just “homophobia”, and so forth. When naming an organization or group, use “LGBT” rather than “gay” if applicable (for example, a “LGBT-Straight Alliance” rather than a “Gay-Straight Alliance”.) [Feministe]
I don’t know how many times people in the bisexual community, and our allies, have to tell people such as Murray Lipp that words matter, and the continued use of “gay marriage” does not include bisexuals and others.
Related to this, campaigns for the legalization of same-sex marriage increasingly downplay the “gay” aspect and focus more on “marriage equality,” which in large part is an effort to avoid having to deal with the very real stigma that is often linked with all things “gay.” While this strategy to neutralize stigma has no doubt helped fuel the success of some of these campaigns, and drawn in more straight supporters, it has also had another impact: the demonization of the term “gay marriage.” It should come as no surprise then that some supporters of same-sex marriage have internalized this and developed a negative view of the term.
I do wonder if Murray Lipp actually spoke to anyone who didn’t like the term “gay marriage” before his article and attempted to understand their objections before just making shit up. I have not internalised homophobia and have a negative view of “gay marriage” because of the stigma attached to the word “gay”. I just really hate being sidelined by people who I thought were on my side.
There are number of reasons why “gay marriage” remains a powerful and very useful way to refer to marriage between people of the same sex. As previously outlined, “gay marriage” has instant recognition value — people know what it means — it’s easy for the mind to grasp and understand the concept. When discussing any issue, and especially when trying to attract supporters for a cause, rapid recognition of this kind is extremely valuable, especially in today’s society in which time and attention spans are limited.
Except… except we’re not all gay. I’m not gay. My girlfriend is not gay. My husband is not gay. My husband’s boyfriend is not gay. By continually using “gay” as an umbrella term, you make it harder for bisexuals to exist. You’re making the only options available straight or gay. Guess what, there are other options, and we’re so very sick of you not paying attention to us. Hello! We’re over here!
“Gay marriage” refers to the actual phenomenon of same-sex marriage, the legal union between two people of the same sex. It’s something which is legal or not in any given part of the world. “Marriage equality,” on the other hand, refers to the equal allocation of rights and benefits to all married couples, regardless of whether those couples are opposite-sex or same-sex. It does not describe a type of marriage. It describes an outcome, an achievement or goal, that being the attainment of equality.
“Gay marriage” refers to the legal recognition of two people who identify as gay being married. Not necessarily all same-sex marriages as we’ve discussed. I’m a big fan of “marriage equality” and “same-sex” marriage, and you should be too if you want to be seen to be an ally to the entire LGBTIQ community.
While it seems like an impossible dream, there is certainly the hope that one day “gay marriage” will be legal throughout the entire world. If that ever happens there will perhaps then be less need to make distinctions between gay and straight marriage.
And this proves my point. For Murry Lipp to even have written this indicates that at no point during this article did he consider those who didn’t identify as gay.
In the comments of this article, which I have contributed to, Murray continues to fail to understand that “gay” is not an umbrella term for QUILTBAG and that his exclusion of those who don’t identify as gay could possibly be a problem. Here is an activist who needs to be educated in being a good queer ally, and ignored until he’s done that education.
Posted: May 21, 2013 at 10:42 pm | Tags: body image, fat, Feminism, shame, thoughts
I would argue that there are two kinds of shame, the shame of realising that you’ve completely fucked up and done the wrong thing and the shame used to silence people by either making them believe that they are wrong, that something they did was against societal standards, or that they failed to live up to some imaginary standard.
I don’t want to talk about the first type other than to say being ashamed of doing the wrong thing is a powerful lesson, provided you admit it, apologise and work at not doing it again.
The second type is the one I want to talk about. The second type of shame, the silencing one, the one that can stop you seeking help you need, finding support mechanisms, that makes you feel less because of some attribute (real or imaginary) that you do or do not possess, or stops you leaving the house.
The second type can be imposed by other people or just through societal conditioning. As an example fat people are regularly shamed by just about everyone by virtue of being fat. Just existing as a fat person apparently is something to be ashamed of, and something that many people will point out to your face. Also less subtly and direct, is all the media and government “concern” about obesity and what needs to be done about it. Being fat is apparently shameful, and in worse case scenarios, fat people won’t seek medical help for life threatening conditions because they don’t want to be shamed further, or they attribute their health status to being fat versus whatever it might actually be. The fact that fat people are also shamed by their medical professionals adds to an incredibly unfair burden. Kath at Fat Heffalump writes a lot about why being fat is nothing to be ashamed of.
Being a woman is something that we’re often shamed for, whether it be because we haven’t removed enough hair, we’re not wearing the right amount of makeup, we’re wearing not wearing enough, we’re wearing too much, we’re drinking, we’re not drinking, we’re too old, too young, menstruating, eating, not eating, “being emotional”, nagging, having sex, not having sex, or any other of a number of attributes that some imaginary perfect woman would not have.
I looked at the list of things I was supposed to feel ashamed about one day, while standing naked in front of a mirror, and I decided that they could, for the most part, go and fuck themselves in a fire. Why should I stand cowered by the world because I didn’t measure up to some arbitrary standard that next to no one else measured up to either. Just think, if there were people who measured up to this standard women’s gossip magazines (which pretty much sell shame) would be out of business. I decided at this point that I was going to do my best to live shamelessly, to ignore other people’s attempts to shame me for being myself, and love who I was.
I’ve always found it interesting that “shameless woman” is an insult, but there is no male equivalent. Not that men aren’t shamed either – it’s just a different set of criteria (having feels about things, not acting in an appropriately masculine manner, being perceived as weak, etc). The phrase “shameless woman” does come from the bible though, so thanks Christianity for making life suck.
One of the things I learnt growing up was that I had to do it on my own, that I should be able to manage by myself, and that appearing as if I couldn’t cope was a weakness. Let’s just say that was one of the worst lessons to learn. It took me close to breaking point before I realised that I was trying to do it on my own in silence because I was ashamed to ask for help. The bad lessons I’d learnt included the silencing of shame – because asking for help would be an admission that I wasn’t able to cope and do this on my own any more. The relief of laying aside the shame and finding out that help was available was an amazing thing.
It’s terrible that as a society that we both unconsciously perpetuate shame by not speaking up against it, and that we let shame impact on us. Being you should be nothing to be ashamed of. None of us are perfect, none of us are perpetually strong, none of us have a perfect body, our emotional responses are valid, our choices to participate or not in the beauty standard are our own, our ability to cope or not cope as the situation arises is ok, your health situation is nothing to be ashamed of, your money or lack of it is nothing to be ashamed of.
Please do not let shame rule your life. Go out there, be a proud shameless person, and speak your mind.
Posted: May 1, 2013 at 10:39 pm | Tags: bisexuality, body, body image, disability, equal marriage, Feminism, Gamer culture, lgbtiq, media, politics, polyamory, racism, Religion, sex work, sexism, trans*
So, here are all the awesome and interesting things I’ve been reading lately (well the ones that don’t end up in the Down Under Feminist Carnival – which you should totally check out).
Chrys Stevenson at Gladly the Cross Eyed Bear writes, “Piers Akerman – Dinosaur Extraordinaire“:
Of course, every age has had its share of dinosaurs. And, as I contemplated the ridiculous sight of Piers Akerman channelling fellow fossil, Corey Bernardi on the Insiders, it occurred to me that, in a different age, Piers Akerman would have been making similarly ridiculous arguments about other issues.
For example, Piers, arguing that “…if you can have all of the social benefits of a civil union without calling it marriage, why do you want to go that extra step?” reminded me of the dinosaurs who argued against those new-fangled horseless carriages. Why would you want a motor vehicle when you can have a perfectly good horse?
Kevin Rose at the New York Mag writes, “Meet the 28-Year-Old Grad Student Who Just Shook the Global Austerity Movement” proving that simple errors can affect millions of people:
Herndon became instantly famous in nerdy economics circles this week as the lead author of a recent paper, “Does High Public Debt Consistently Stifle Economic Growth? A Critique of Reinhart and Rogoff,” that took aim at a massively influential study by two Harvard professors named Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff. Herndon found some hidden errors in Reinhart and Rogoff’s data set, then calmly took the entire study out back and slaughtered it. Herndon’s takedown — which first appeared in a Mike Konczal post that crashed its host site with traffic — was an immediate sensation. It was cited by prominent anti-austerians like Paul Krugman, spoken about by incoming Bank of England governor Mark Carney, and mentioned on CNBC and several other news outlets as proof that the pro-austerity movement is based, at least in part, on bogus math.
s.e. smith at This Ain’t Living writes, “Seriously Though Why Are Vision and Dental Coverage Extra?“:
I took a look at my body in the mirror this morning, just to make sure everything was where I’d left it, and indeed, everything appeared to be. Every now and then I like to do that, you know. One thing I noticed about my body, and something I think about rather a lot, actually, is that my eyes and teeth appear to be rather firmly and permanently part of it. I mean, I guess I couldn’t have been looking at my body at all if I had no eyes, so obviously those came factory installed in my case, but when I opened my mouth, lo and behold, a set of choppers loomed at me and I was reminded that I needed to brush my teeth.
Yet, health insurance companies as well as government health care programmes seem to believe this is not actually the case, that eyes and teeth are either not part of your body, or are optional upgrades. Extras that you can pay more for if you want them, but aren’t supported under warranty, so to speak. Like, okay, we’ll insure your smartphone, but if something happens to the special bluetooth headset you bought to go with it, don’t come whining to us, because that’s not our responsibility.
s.e. smith at This Ain’t Living also writes, “Inspirational Boy Doesn’t Let His Lack of Impairment Stop Him“:
Most of us could never imagine being nondisabled, and the daily hardship that comes with it; little Billy Jo is really such an inspiration with his courage and bravery every day, let alone with his bold dream of becoming a dancer. Just looking at him is a reminder that there are so many special people among us who have been sent to bless us and teach us. Billy Jo is a lesson in tolerance and he’s sending such a great message to other nondisabled children like him who have a chance to see that it’s possible to achieve great things if you try hard enough.
David Donovan at Independent Australia writes, “Tony Abbott and the “slit your throat” staffer scandal“:
The lies seem to be stacking up, but there are also, of course, questions of ethics and integrity — such as how does a staffer that physically threatens another person and then offers to be a spy for a prominent journalist get to keep his job at all?
And, even more importantly, what cuts to funding for Indigenous programmes are planned under a Coalition Government. Given some of our previous reports, Abbott’s true commitment towards Indigenous affairs must be drawn into question — Roberts’ statements compound these concerns.
None of these questions appear to have been asked by Australia’s dormant mainstream media.
Belen Fernandez at Aljazeera writes, “How to write about Muslims“:
Needless to say, the aftermath of 9/11 did not yield much thoughtful consideration on the part of the mainstream punditry as to the context for such events. According to one prominent narrative, 9/11 was simply evidence of an inherent and unfounded Muslim hatred of the West.
A notable exception was veteran British journalist Robert Fisk. In an article published in The Nation immediately following the attacks, Fisk issued the following prescient warning:
“[T]his is not really the war of democracy versus terror that the world will be asked to believe in the coming days. It is also about US missiles smashing into Palestinian homes and US helicopters firing missiles into a Lebanese ambulance in 1996 and American shells crashing into a village called Qana and about a Lebanese militia – paid and uniformed by America’s Israeli ally – hacking and raping and murdering their way through refugee camps.”
The sale of the “war on terror”, Fisk stressed, depended on the obscuration of all details regarding past and continuing devastation of Arab lands and lives – including US State Department-applauded sanctions that eliminated half a million children in Iraq – “lest they provide the smallest fractional reason for the mass savagery on September 11″.
Will at Queereka writes, “I am Queer: Beyond the Trans/Cis Binary“:
This is a difficult topic for me to find the right language for. I do not feel that there are labels that really encapsulate my identity. “Gay” is too focused on sexual orientation and does not help me to make sense of those aspects of my gender that are variant and non-conforming. “Man” does not really adequately describe me either, and it’s a category and label I have a lot of discomfort with. I do not identify as transgender because I feel that to do so would be appropriative. I also do not care much about recognition (people seeing and identifying me as man) or misrecognition (typically people hearing me and identifying me as a woman, or just randomly calling me “ma’am” or “she/her”) as far as gender is concerned—though I do despise being identified as heterosexual because I am a white male-bodied person (this often happens online, people assume that because I am white and male-bodied that I must therefore be straight as well). I do not identify as cisgender because my gender identity does not match “man,” the gender normatively assigned to my male body. I did come across the term “demiguy,” which vaguely seems to capture my feelings, though I think any association I have with masculinity is because I’m outwardly conforming in appearance in many ways—it’s not because I identify with masculinity in any meaningful way.
This is why I have begun to define myself simply as queer. I have what would be considered a normative male body, but my gender identity is not normative. And it continues changing as I live my life. Part of the impetus for this piece has been the ending of a three-year relationship in which I often felt trapped and judged to the extent that I shaped my behavior to be more conforming than I had previous to the relationship. The sudden, abrupt ending of that relationship turned my world upside down. But it also gave me an opportunity to take stock. In a lot of ways, I was not being true to the self I had finally come to accept before entering that relationship. Now, three years later, I’m re-discovering who I am, what I value, and starting to make sense of my inner dialogue.
Jenny Morber at Double X Science writes, “The average human vagina“:
So, are you normal? Are you average? Yes. No. Most likely. It turns out that there is so much variation among female anatomy that doctors, surgeons, and researchers find it difficult to define exactly what normal is – or even if it exists. And a few at least have been trying.
A beautiful animated short called Caldera which I strongly recommend watching.
Mariam Veiszedah at ABC Religion writes, “Inescapable racism: Reflections of a ‘proud refugee‘”:
I was also subsequently advised by others on Twitter that I should have the phrase “proud Aussie” in my Twitter profile, rather than “proud Refugee.” I use this phrase in my profile, not because I am an ungrateful Aussie, but because I want to demonstrate that refugees are educated and active participants in our community. Ultimately, I want to help change perceptions. Moreover, if my actions don’t demonstrate my gratitude, how would a label somehow do the trick? And why must I assert my level of Australianness every minute of the day? Excessive pride and racial hate speech should be viewed in the same manner – both are entirely unnecessary, really.
Since Friday, I’ve been overwhelmed by messages of support and compassion, and indeed by offers from strangers to help me. For every instance of abuse, there are many expressions of compassion and solidarity. Perhaps the one that has meant the most to me was from former Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser: “I am deeply sorry you had to experience that, some people are so insensitive and stupid, try not to let worry you.” Mr Fraser, of course has been especially vocal in recent times and spoken out about the plight of asylum seekers – if only some of our incumbent politicians shared and expressed his same convictions!
Zoe Krupka at New Matilda writes, “Why Mourn Boston – And Not Kabul?“:
There’s been a lot said lately about how we’re talking about Boston and not so much about Iraq and Afghanistan. We’re wondering if one life is worth more than another in our current media cycle. But what’s behind our arguably disproportionate attention to the Boston bombings? Are we just suffering from an incapacity to care for more than our own?
There’s a conversation we’ve been trying to have about racism in the reporting of the Boston bombings. It’s the same conversation we try to have every time there’s a tragedy in the West that measured globally, barely tips the Richter scale of international disaster. We get started with this conversation, as Virginia Trioli recently tried to do, but it either gets brutally cut down or prematurely cut short. I think we’re having trouble following it through because the truth of why we seem to care more about Boston than about Kabul and Ramullah may just be too hard for us to swallow.
Violeta Politoff at New Matilda writes, “Why Media Gender Equality Matters”:
VicHealth has shown that among men, the most common predictor of the use of violence against women is their agreement with sexist, patriarchal, and/or sexually hostile attitudes. So based on this research it is clear that seeking gender equity in the media, where ideas are disseminated and reinforced, is integral to the prevention of violence against women.
In the research I’ve undertaken with Professor Jenny Morgan, we’ve found that, in spite of the importance of attitudes towards gender equity in the ongoing issue of violence against women, issues of gender are rarely discussed in the reporting.
The lack of context in the reporting of violence against women tended to make the violence appear only as an individual problem (a family or relationship problem) rather than also being part of a broader social problem. One consequence of individualising the issue is that it tends to erase gender from discussions of the dynamics of violence against women, even though attitudes towards gender play a central role in the ongoing problem.
Daniel Golding at ABC Arts writes, “BioShock Infinite: an intelligent, violent videogame?“:
The first major choice that players of BioShock Infinite are presented with is whether they would like to publicly punish an interracial couple or not. You may choose to throw a ball at the couple, who are tied up in front of a crowd at a fair, or you may choose to throw the ball at the man who is asking you to do so. The outcome of your choice is mostly the same.
Let’s think about that for a moment. BioShock Infinite, the game that many would hope to point to as an example of how art and subtlety might be found in expensive, mainstream videogames, sets up its moral stakes by asking the player if they would like to be a violent bigot.
These are the complex and difficult decisions found in videogames in 2013: would you like to be in the Ku Kux Klan or would you like to be Abraham Lincoln? Would you like to join the Nazi party or found the United Nations? Would you like to be for or against?
Do you see the nuance here? Do you see the art?
John Walker at Rock Paper Shotgun writes, “Misogyny, Sexism, And Why RPS Isn’t Shutting Up“:
There is a clear message: Rock, Paper, Shotgun will never back down on the subject of sexism and misogyny (nor racism, nor homophobia, for that matter) in games, the games industry, and the games journalism industry. Good times are ahead – we can see them.
Many women are mistreated and misrepresented within the games industry. It’s not a matter of opinion, a political position, or claim made to reinforce previous bias. It’s the demonstrable, sad truth. Ask women in the games industry – find out. That you may not perceive it does not mean it doesn’t exist. That you may not perpetuate it doesn’t mean it isn’t relevant to you. Whether you are male or female or identify anywhere between does not exclude you nor repudiate you from the matter. The amount to which you think it doesn’t exist is directly proportional to the amount to which you do not care that it exists. If you don’t care that it exists, I hope you are willing to be open-minded enough to try to empathise with others that do – at least give that a go. And if you care passionately about it, and feel offended by the tone of this piece as if it doesn’t acknowledge you, then I apologise, and hope you understand why.
Jane Hodge at Champions of Change writes, “Australia’s Hysteria“:
Although Australia experienced a rise in asylum applications, the total number of applications registered in Australia in 2012 was a modest 15,800 compared with the 355,500 claims received in Europe and the 103,900 received in North America. As information and research from Australia’s commonwealth parliamentary library shows, since 1999–2001, when Australia last experienced a surge in boat arrivals during the Howard Government, irregular maritime arrivals (IMA’s) lodging asylum claims have consisted primarily of people from Afghanistan followed by Iraq, Iran and Sri Lanka. However, Australia has not shouldered a significant amount of asylum flows from these countries—much higher numbers of asylum seekers from these countries have gone to the UK and other destination countries. In fact, as Guterres notes, none of the industrialised countries, Australia included, shoulder a significant amount of asylum seekers compared to the developing countries neighbouring most of the world’s conflict zones. The vast majority of asylum seekers are hosted in countries such as Pakistan, so the burden of assisting the world’s asylum seekers and refugees actually falls to some of the world’s poorest countries.
So what does this tell us about Australia’s hysteria around receiving 3% of the industrialized worlds asylum applications? (3% take note, is the amount of applications lodged, not the amount of visas granted). What this tells us is that other industrialised countries, and many more poor developing countries, take many more asylum seekers than we do in Australia, and that they deal with the situation much better. Take Sweden for example, who accepts nearly 3 times the number of asylum seekers per year than we do in Australia. In Sweden asylum seekers are welcomed, are assigned their own case worker and lawyer, are allowed freedom of movement and work rights, are allowed to live with friends or family, and are provided financial support and a housing allowance, all whilst their claims are processed in a maximum of 3 months. Sweden, it seems recognizes asylum seekers for what they are; everyday humans like you and I fleeing persecution.
Shakira Hussein at New Matilda writes, “A Female Muslim In Parliament“:
Such spaces are far less visible in Australia, but even here more and more Muslims like Faruqi are speaking out against homophobia. One of the most high-profile young Muslim women, human rights activist Samah Hadid, caused a minor stir within her community when she told The Australian that she was “a passionate advocate for gay rights”. There is still a lack of friendly space for LGBT Muslims, but up-and-coming leaders like Hadid are willing to put in the hard work to create them. The idea that a Muslim politician must therefore take a homophobic policy stance does not reflect the worldview of many Muslims in Australia.
I do not expect to agree with all aspects of Faruqi’s political opinions just because we belong to the same religions — or because we belong to the same gender, come to that.
Julia Serano writes, “Bisexuality does not reinforce the gender binary“:
The second, and far more important reason (at least for me), why I embrace the word bisexual is that people perceive me and react to me very differently depending on whether the person I am coupled with is (or appears to be) a woman or a man.
In the hetero-mainstream, when I am paired with a man, I am read as straight; when I am paired with a woman, I am read as queer. In queer settings, when I am paired with a woman, I am read as lesbian/dyke/queer and viewed as a legitimate member of the community.
But when I am paired with a man (especially when the man in question is cisgender), then I am not merely unaccepted and viewed as an outsider, but I may even be accused of buying into or reinforcing the hetero-patriarchy.
So in other words, the “bi” in bisexual does not merely refer to the types of people that I am sexual with, but to the fact that both the straight and queer worlds view me in two very different ways depending upon who I happen to be partnered with at any given moment.
Faisal Darem at Al-Shorfa writes “Children Parliament in Yemen strong voice on major issues“:
Members of Yemen’s Children’s Parliament may be young, but they serve as the first line of defence on children’s issues and can influence government policy.
Its members can summon ministers who handle children’s rights for questioning or make recommendations and submit them to the House of Representatives and the Shura Council for discussion.
The Children’s Parliament meets for three days every three months in one of parliament’s halls. Its members have the support and sponsorship of the president and the Yemeni Parliament.
Children’s Parliament in Yemen was established by the Democracy School, a grass roots organization in Yemen, which oversees parliament’s elections and organises its meetings. Its inaugural session was held in 2000.
Lauren Rankin at policymic writes, “Transphobia Has No Place in Feminism“:
Bigotry is often born out of fear and confusion at those whose identities we don’t understand. We fear that their difference reflects on our sameness, and in a rush to blanket ourselves in the comfort of conformity, we demonize their difference. Progressives often bemoan the bigotry underlying the policies and political positions of those on the right, but the sad truth is that bigotry exists even in progressive and feminist spaces. And nowhere is that more evident that in the transphobia, both latent and outright, that underwrites many facets of the feminist movement
Often, mainstream feminists simply avoid talking or writing about trans women. Trans woman and activist Sophia Banks emphasizes that while she identifies as a feminist, her experience within the feminist community has been largely mixed. “Intersectional feminists have been great but many radical feminists have been really hurtful towards me,” she says, highlighting that many feminists work within the confines of gendered language, and, perhaps unknowingly, operate from an assumption that cisgender women (cisgender means someone who identifies with the gender they were born with) are their target audience.
Any assumption that cisgender women are the only true women is a blatant form of bigotry. And honestly, it’s in direct violation of Feminism 101. After all, Simone De Beauvoir said more than half a century ago “One is not born, but rather becomes, a woman.”
Javier C. Hernandez at The New York Times writes and obituary for Mary Thom, “Mary Thom, an Editor Who Shaped Feminist Voices, Dies at 68“:
Mary Thom, a chronicler of the feminist movement and former executive editor of Ms. magazine, died Friday in a motorcycle accident in Yonkers. She was 68 and lived in Manhattan.
The Women’s Media Center, where Ms. Thom was the editor in chief, announced her death. Ms. Thom joined Ms. magazine in 1972 as an editor, rising to become executive editor in 1990. She was known as a journalistic virtuoso who shaped the writing of many of the feminist movement’s luminaries, including Gloria Steinem.
Deborah Stone at Arts Hub writes about Shareena Clanton in “‘I just want a job where I don’t get beaten up.’“:
Aboriginal actress Shareena Clanton will hit screens in Wentworth this week playing Doreen Anderson, a prisoner with a history of drugs, alcohol and abuse. Clanton is already well known from her role as Lilly in Redfern Now, another drug addict, this time with a psychiatric illness.
If you are sensing a theme here you’d be right and it’s impossible to ignore Clanton’s conclusion that the reason is simply racist typecasting. Casting directors take one look at her dark skin and cast her as a victim or a loser.
‘In the roles I get I’m always being beaten up, if not physically, then emotionally. I’m always a drug addict or I’ve been abused or I’m supposed to be this dumb Aborigine. Why can’t I be the secretary or the cop? Why can’t I just be the mother on the Kellogg’s commercial sending the kids off to school with breakfast?’
Over at the UN website, “Religion and culture cannot justify discrimination against gays and lesbians, Ban warns“:
Pledging that “we must right these wrongs,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today denounced discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people, and declared that religion, culture and tradition can never be a justification for denying them their basic rights.
“Governments have a legal duty to protect everyone,” he said in a video message to the Oslo Conference on Human Rights, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, voicing outrage at the assault, imprisonment and murder of. LGBTs. “Some will oppose change. They may invoke culture, tradition or religion to defend the status quo.
“Such arguments have been used to try to justify slavery, child marriage, rape in marriage and female genital mutilation. I respect culture, tradition and religion – but they can never justify the denial of basic rights.”
Clementine Ford at Daily Life writes, “Debunking the myths of sex work“:
Over the past few weeks, I’ve been both witness to and participant in a number of conversations around sex work, autonomy and feminism. A recent argument on Twitter had me baffled by one representative from a conservative feminist organisation in Australia, who trotted out the tired idea that sex work degrades and harms all women. Elsewhere, people have been rehashing the argument that the sex industry is a sort of Outland ghetto for traumatised drug addicts, abuse survivors and the mentally ill, all of whom are connected by the singular characteristic of having little to no self-esteem. We can pity them, but gosh wouldn’t we just hate for anyone we loved to be them?
Well no, I wouldn’t hate that actually. I have a number of friends and acquaintances who have either been or currently are sex workers. No doubt I know greater numbers of women still who may one day become sex workers. And I’m tired of seeing their lives denigrated because of how they choose to make money – as if taking off your clothes for a pre-arranged fee is somehow less honourable than working for a mining company or a tabloid magazine.
Demonising sex workers under the guise of “helping” them is simply a way of expressing puritanical snobbery. As an intellectual tool, it relies more on myths and prejudices than any real knowledge of the lives of sex workers.
Wade Roush at xconomy writes, “Dropcam CEO’s Beef with Brogramming, Late Nights, and Free Dinners“:
It probably has something to do with the 26-year-old CEO’s views about the right way to build a company—which emphatically aren’t the views you’ll find at most startups around Silicon Valley. He thinks the lavish perks at many technology companies, especially the free on-campus meals, are a disguised form of mind control, designed to get employees to work 12- or 14-hour days.
That’s why there are no free dinners at Dropcam—around 6:00 pm the company shoos employees out the door to eat with their families. And here’s what else you won’t find at Dropcam: free services or products that trade on users’ attention or data to earn revenue; an engineering department full of young, single, childless males; and, according to Duffy, assholes of any description.
Merran Reed at Time Out Melbourne writes, “Free Love: The Age of Polyamory“:
Anne asserts that polyamory isn’t for everyone. “You’ve got to really enjoy relating to people and spending time with them. You’re going to get confronted with a lot of your insecurities whether you like it or not. So if you’re not looking for personal growth, don’t bother.”
Having multiple relationships challenges what Hollyweird movie endings have instilled in us, rejecting the idea that one person can make you complete. “That’s what I love,” Anne exclaims. “You’re free to enjoy what is organically real about the relationship. You don’t have to make it anything else.”
At brofiling, “white privilege radically changes the appearance of Tsarnaev bros“:
Just so it is said, clearly and unambiguously: the Tsarnaev brothers are white guys. They are white. The FBI’s own wanted poster for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev lists his race as “white”, but you would never know it from the cover image on The Week.
Hold up the cover to someone else, and ask them how many white people they can see on the cover. Chances are they will identify Gabby Giffords on the top left and the image of the Boston policemen (all white men) on the top right, but how about those two guys in the center? Nope, not a chance that anyone would say these caricatures look white.
Why? Because in addition to being white they are also “Muslim”, which is the current dehumanizing “Other” label that whiteness has constructed as a sanctioned target for violence in US popular culture.
Sarah Burnside at New Matilda writes, “How To Make It As A Female Op-Ed Star“:
These opportunities also come with inbuilt limitations. English writer and activist Laurie Penny noted in a 2012 interview that the “first two articles I ever had commissioned by a major newspaper were about my experience of anorexia as a teenager and my brief stint as a burlesque dancer”. These pieces had followed on the heels of unsuccessful pitches of “any number of serious political pieces which didn’t have anything to do with me or my arse”.
Penny explained that “[y]oung women in particular have to work very hard to get into this industry, and it’s often a toss-up…between getting work and being taken seriously”.
Posted: April 9, 2013 at 8:26 pm | Tags: body, differences, disability, equal marriage, Feminism, gender roles, harassment, lgbtiq, patriarchy, people, politics, privacy, privilege, rape, reproductive rights, sex work, sexism
So what a month, I’ve finished collating the Down Under Feminists’ Carnival, and have my own linkspam to attend to. There is some great stuff here, and yes it is epic. The epic of all linkspam.
Suw Charman-Anderson at Firstpost Technology writes, “Facebook finally admits to tracking non-users“. Please after reading this article go and implement all the recommendations to protect your privacy.
Chaitanya at Applied Ghandi writes about “‘Saalumarada’ Thimmakka – A Peerless Green Champion!“:
Thimmakka, aged 101*, is a native of Hulikal village in the Magadi taluk of Bangalore Rural district in Karnataka.
She has an unsurpassed credit to her name—some 1000 plus sturdy banyan trees, which she has lovingly tended against all odds, from mere saplings to a sweeping canopy.
Saalumarada Thimmakka (“saalumarada”—“row of trees” in Kannada—is an honorific people have added to her name) and her landless labourer husband Chikkannah could not have children. So one day more than 60 years ago, they started planting trees.
Elizabeth Plank at Policymic writes, “France Makes Contraception and Abortion Free“:
Access to free, legal and safe abortionsdoes not, has not and will never increase pregnancy termination rates in the long-term. Unlike soda refils, abortion does not become more attractive when it’s free. Abortion is not an attractive choice, it’s a really difficult one. Abortions aren’t like half price easter chocolates, women don’t run out and get them because they’re on sale (easter chocolate sale? WHERE? WHERE?). They get them because they need them, and that’s why the government should be concerned with provinding affordable and safe access to them.
At Offbeat Bride, a guest post by Babelglyph, “How I made a d20 engagement ring for my secret lesbian D&D proposal“.
David Badash writes at The New Civil Rights Movement, “Bisexuals Are The ‘Turd In The Punchbowl’ Says Massachusetts Pastor“.
That Lively is a well-known hate monger and the head of a hate group should give him no less cover, should afford him no less condemnation from his fellow pastors. Indeed, it should give them all the more motivation to denounce him, for he is making their Christianity a mockery.
Lively, whose “turd in the punchbowl” post for some strange reason hit Memeorandum, a popular news aggregator that tends to highlight the most popular news stories of the day, claims that marriage “is a clean and holy institution.” It’s doubtful many married people would describe their marriages as clean. Marriage is far from clean — it’s messy, challenging, hard work, although certainly priceless.
Clementine Ford at Howling Clementine writes, “How to handle a patronising dipshit: A guide“.
Cory Doctorow at Boing Boing writes, “NYPD will arrest you for carrying condoms: the women/trans/genderqueer version of stop-and-frisk“:
NYC has a law prohibiting “loitering for the purposes of engaging in a prostitution offense” which lets cops arrest whomever they feel like, on the strength of their conviction that the person is probably a sex-worker, on the basis of flimsy circumstantial evidence like carrying a condom, talking to men, or wearing tight clothes. Like stop-and-frisk, it’s part of a pattern of laws that assume that the police have infallible intuition about who the “bad guys” are and lets them use their discretion to harass and bust whomever they feel like. And like stop-and-frisk laws, the “condom” law shows that the much-vaunted cop intuition is really just bias, a dowsing rod that leads officers to poor women, genderqueer people, and trans people.
PZ Myers at Pharyngula writes, “The difference between us and them” *trigger warning for discussion of rape*:
As is typical, the conservatives have this unimaginative, short-sighted view of what it means to tell someone rape is wrong. They’re all imagining a woman confronted by an attacker who then solemnly tells them that they’re committing an illegal act, and expecting them to simply stop. But that’s not what she’s talking about at all.
We live in a culture where boys grow up to be privileged, entitled little shits who think women are pleasure objects for their benefit. Let’s start there and change that. Let’s say that frat boy antics are not OK. Let’s tell media to wake up and notice that women are autonomous human beings, not convenient plot points and MacGuffins. Let’s wake up and realize that valuing women only for the size of their breasts and the youthfulness of their skin is dehumanizing. She’s talking about taking on the difficult task of changing cultural attitudes.
bisexcellent writes, “The Language of Opposition“:
The language of opposition can suggest that multiple-gender attractions are paradoxical. This isn’t an uncommon view. The belief that people can not be bisexual is based on this.
It can also imply conflict between same-sex attraction and other-sex attraction. The idea is that there’s heterosexuality and homosexuality, and bisexuality is those two competing in an individual. They do not consider that multiple-gender attractions can simply coexist, or that these attractions can form a cohesive whole.
Karen Rowan at My Health News Daily writes, “Pediatricians’ Group Supports Gay Marriage, Adoption Rights“:
The American Academy of Pediatrics announced in a new policy statement that it supports the rights for gay and lesbian couples to marry as well as become foster parents and adoptive parents.
“Research shows children thrive when there are two parents who love them and can provide a nurturing environment for them, and that sexual orientation makes no difference, said Dr. Benjamin S. Siegel, professor of pediatrics and psychiatry at Boston University School of Medicine and co-author of the policy statement, which is published online today in the journal Pediatrics.
Shannon Barber at Nudemuse writes, “Nudemuse…daily nattering.“:
In light of the many terrible things that my stress levels could cause, why is it that people who are so concerned about my health overlook all those things just because my ass is smaller?
I’ve had it happening on the internets as well.
Of the dozen or so people who have anonymously congratulated me on being a smaller fatty, not one of them has seemed at all concerned about my actual health.
So again I am left with the distinct impression that no, nobody who wanted me to lose weight in the first place actually cared about my real health.
Daniel Ellsberg writes at Boing Boing, “A Salute to Bradley Manning, Whistleblower, As We Hear His Words For The First Time“:
Whoever made this recording, and I don’t know who the person is, has done the American public a great service. This marks the first time the American public can hear Bradley Manning, in his own voice, explain what he did and how he did it.
Now I hope the American people can see Manning in a different light. In 1971, I was able to give the media my side of the story, and it is long overdue that Manning be able to do the same. As Manning has now done, I stipulated as to all the facts for which I was accused. And I did that for several reasons, and I suspect that Manning had the same motives.
Rebecca Kamm at the The New Zealand Herald writes, “Stop telling women to smile“:
What is it about being approached by a strange man out of the blue and told to “Smile!” that’s so stomach-knottingly aggravating? Is there something a little bit passive aggressive about it, or are you just over-sensitive?
Yes, there is, and no, you’re not.
Sadie Whitelocks at MainOnline writes, “Mother launches range of Down Syndrome dolls for daughter, 13, so she can ‘see something beautiful’ when she plays“:
A mother has created a range of Down Syndrome dolls inspired by her daughter, who is affected by the chromosomal condition.
Connie Feda, 49, from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, set about making a mini-me version of her youngest child, Hannah, after she complained that none of the dolls in a toy catalog looked like her.
But in a bid to give other children like hers ‘a friend for life’, Mrs Feda turned her Dolls For Downs project into a full-time occupation and her plastic figurines are set to hit the market in May.
Alicia Simmonds at Daily Life writes, “When did it stop being OK for men to hold hands?”
So what went wrong? How did white/western men go from frolicsome fraternities to mute masculinity? How did we crash from the love-song of male friendship to the homophobic clamour of the empty seat between men at the cinema? Why does an early twentieth century photo of footballers show them amorously folded one on top of the other while a late-twentieth century picture would show them perched upright, hands on knees, legs forming a bodily barricade?
Ibson blames the rise of homophobic sentiment in the twentieth century, culminating in the feverish anti-gay witch-hunts of the 1950s. Of course sodomy was never looked kindly upon, but it wasn’t until the late nineteenth century that homosexuality emerged as a specific identity, rather than just a practice. Homosexuality moved from something that you did (like kissing or masturbation) to something that you were (a homosexual). Branded with their own label, homosexuals were pathologised as a problem for medicine or psychiatry to solve. Throughout the twentieth century homosexuals became increasingly suspect.
And the more threatening homosexuals appeared the more that male bodies drifted apart. A chill wind swept through male friendships. Heterosexual men became careful not to send messages that they could be gay. Paranoia replaced public affection.
Sophia Pearson, Stephanie Armour and Christie Smythe write at The Age, “Morning after pill access expanded as judge blasts FDA delay“:
US District Judge Edward Korman in Brooklyn, New York, excoriated the Food and Drug Administration yesterday for what he called a 12-year delay in making the emergency contraceptive, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd.’s Plan B, available over the counter.
“These emergency contraceptives would be among the safest drugs sold over the counter,” Korman wrote, and “the number of 11-year-olds using these drugs is likely to be minuscule.”
“The invocation of the adverse effect of Plan B on 11- year-olds is an excuse to deprive the overwhelming majority of women of their right to obtain contraceptives without unjustified and burdensome restrictions,” the judge wrote.
Huffpost Gay Voices writes, “Microsoft Outlook Features Gay Wedding In New Ad” (ahem marriage equality):
Microsoft Outlook features a same-sex wedding as part of its new advertising campaign.
The new clip shows two women tying the knot before one updates her surname within the Outlook program.
Laurie Abraham at The New York Times writes, “Teaching Good Sex” a program I’d really love to see implemented in Australia too:
Sexuality and Society begins in the fall with a discussion of how to recognize and form your own values, then moves through topics like sexual orientation (occasionally students identify as gay or transgender, Vernacchio said, but in this particular class none did); safer sex; relationships; sexual health; and the emotional and physical terrain of sexual activity. (The standard public-school curriculum sticks to S.T.I.’s and contraceptive methods, and it can go by in a blink; in a Kaiser Family Foundation survey, two-thirds of principals said that the subject was covered in just several class periods.) Vernacchio also teaches a mandatory six-session sexuality course for ninth graders that covers some of the same material presented to the older kids, though less fully.
The lessons that tend to raise eyebrows outside the school, according to Vernacchio, are a medical research video he shows of a woman ejaculating — students are allowed to excuse themselves if they prefer not to watch — and a couple of dozen up-close photographs of vulvas and penises. The photos, Vernacchio said, are intended to show his charges the broad range of what’s out there. “It’s really a process of desensitizing them to what real genitals look like so they’ll be less freaked out by their own and, one day, their partner’s,” he said. What’s interesting, he added, is that both the boys and girls receive the photographs of the penises rather placidly but often insist that the vulvas don’t look “normal.” “They have no point of reference for what a normal, healthy vulva looks like, even their own,” Vernacchio said. The female student-council vice president agreed: “When we did the biology unit, I probably would’ve been able to label just as many of the boys’ body parts as the girls’, which is sad. I mean, you should know about the names of your own body.”
Anne Summers at Daily Life writes, “The question no man ever gets asked“:
If once we were vapid creatures who, in the view of Sigmund Freud, could not decide what we wanted, now we are voracious careerists who want the lot. That the question is even posed is, of course, gratuitous and demeaning, since the “all” refers to having a job and a family. If you are a bloke, you can have it “all” without anyone raising an eyebrow – or even asking how you manage to “do it all”.
This was a source of particular irritation to Nicola Roxon who resigned as attorney-general earlier this month and who is leaving the Parliament at the next election because she wants to be at home for her young daughter. She often mentioned in media interviews that it really riled her that she was constantly asked how she managed to combine being a cabinet minister with being a wife and mother, whereas her male colleagues who were husbands and fathers were never asked the same question.
Douglas Martin has written an obituary for “Yvonne Brill, a Pioneering Rocket Scientist, Dies at 88“, thankfully now updated to remove most of the sexism:
Mrs. Brill — she preferred to be called Mrs., her son said — is believed to have been the only woman in the United States who was actually doing rocket science in the mid-1940s, when she worked on the first designs for an American satellite.
It was a distinction she earned in the face of obstacles, beginning when the University of Manitoba in Canada refused to let her major in engineering because there were no accommodations for women at an outdoor engineering camp, which students were required to attend.
“You just have to be cheerful about it and not get upset when you get insulted,” she once said.
A post by Lisa Wade PhD at Sociological Images, “Men-are-People and Women-are-Women: The Obituary Edition” outlines the changes made to the obituary by the New York Times.
An excellent guest post at Nursing Clio, “Same-Sex Marriage Does Threaten “Traditional” Marriage“:
Marriage equality is a threat to those who do not believe in EQUALITY between the sexes in general. Some who oppose marriage between two women or between two men believe that homosexuality is a sin, or that same-sex marriage harms children, or that it will lead to more divorces. But as I listened to the “protect traditional marriage” ralliers outside the U.S. Supreme Court hearings last week one unified message came through loud and clear: same-sex marriage threatens traditional marriage because it challenges ideas about proper gender roles.
Same-sex marriage makes a lie of the very foundation of traditional gender roles. Same-sex marriages say that a woman can run a household, or that a man can raise a child. This does not square with those whose lives and beliefs and relationships depend on upholding and living their lives based on differences between the sexes. Over and over on C-SPAN I hear people in 2013 arguing that both a mother and a father are needed in order to raise children – indeed, that children have a RIGHT to both a mother and a father. (And so, you see, proponents of same-sex marriage are not actually supporting the granting of rights, but rather the taking away of rights… of children. The twists in logic are mind-boggling.)
Peter Mercurio writes in The New York Times, “We Found Our Son in the Subway“:
The story of how Danny and I were married last July in a Manhattan courtroom, with our son, Kevin, beside us, began 12 years earlier, in a dark, damp subway station.
Danny called me that day, frantic. “I found a baby!” he shouted. “I called 911, but I don’t think they believed me. No one’s coming. I don’t want to leave the baby alone. Get down here and flag down a police car or something.” By nature Danny is a remarkably calm person, so when I felt his heart pounding through the phone line, I knew I had to run.
Judith Shulevitz at New Republic writes, “Why Do Grandmothers Exist? Solving an evolutionary mystery“:
Besides being classed among the oddities of the animal kingdom, post-menopausal women lack obvious utility. They tend to be weak. They don’t have much sex appeal. They eat food working people might make better use of. In Paraguay’s Ache tribe, aging women used to listen with terror for the footsteps of the young men whose job it was to sneak up on them with an ax and brain them. Most societies don’t actually murder their grannies, but that women manage to attain old age is an evolutionary mystery and requires explanation.
Some people deny that women did live past menopause, whether in the Pleistocene era or the nineteenth century. Before modern hygiene and medicine, the argument goes, people just didn’t live very long. But most scientists don’t think that anymore. It is true that, in the olden days, fewer people reached their golden years. Children dropped dead with disturbing ease, keeping life-expectancy averages low. But humans still had the capacity to live twice as long as our hominid ancestors. Those who got to 15 had about a 60 percent chance of making it to 45, at which point odds were respectable that they’d reach old age. Many anthropologists and biologists now believe that the bodies of Homo sapiens were designed to last about 72 years.
Stephanie Pappas at Live Science writes, “Men Who Blame Victim for Sexual Harassment Are Often Harassers“:
The findings are a confirmation of what social scientists had expected, said study researcher Colin Key, a psychologist at the University of Tennessee, Martin. But the results could help explain why some environments seem to foster sexual harassment, Key said.
“There are some toxic work environments where males dominate, and there is a culture that lets them engage in this action and then get away with it,” Key to LiveScience. Hopefully, this just adds to the knowledge that we need to target the whole system sometimes and not just these men.”
MarkCC at Good Math, Bad Math writes, “A White Boy’s Observations of Sexism and the Adria Richards Fiasco“:
See, I’m a white guy, born as a member of an upper middle class white family. That means that I’m awfully lucky. I’m part of the group that is, effectively, treated as the normal, default person in most settings. I’m also a guy who’s married to a chinese woman, and who’s learned a bit about how utterly clueless I am.
My own awakening about these kinds of things came from my time working at IBM. I’ve told this first story before, but it’s really worth repeating.
One year, I managed the summer intership programs for my department. The previous summer, IBM research had wound up with an intership class consisting of 99% men. (That’s not an estimate: that’s a real number. That year, IBM research hired 198 summer interns, of whom 2 were women.) For a company like IBM, numbers like that are scary. Ignoring all of the social issues of excluding potentially great candidates, numbers like that can open the company up to gender discrimination lawsuits!
So my year, they decided to encourage the hiring of more diverse candidates. The way that they did that was by allocating each department a budget for summer interns. They could only hire up to their budgeted number of interns. Only women and minority candidates didn’t count against the budget.
When the summer program hiring opened, my department was allocated a budget of six students. All six slots were gone within the first day. Every single one of them went to a white, american, male student.
yourlesbianfriend at Queer Guess Code writes, “Un-Memorizing the “Silence is Sexy” Date Script“:
A woman once told me pointedly something that has stayed with me to this day. We were kissing. Lying on the cold wood floor, my hand traveled across her stomach and she whispered, “I think we should take it slow.” I agreed immediately. Before moving in to kiss her again, I said, “Just tell me when to stop.”
This, I thought, was considerate. Respectful. Sexy. But she quickly corrected my mistake. Pulling away from me, her face took on a serious expression and the words she spoke illuminated a misunderstanding I had long nurtured, even as I knew myself to be a thoughtful feminist with much respect for other women.
In essence, what she said was, “Women are not given enough opportunities to say ‘yes.’”
Brendan Kiley at the Stranger writes, “Freedom Is Frustrating“:
One night a few weeks ago, it hosted its latest welcome-home party, for well-loved Reef employee Katherine Olejnik and her friend Matthew Duran. The two had been released that day from the SeaTac Federal Detention Center (FDC) after five months, including two months of solitary confinement, for refusing to answer arguably McCarthyesque questions about other people’s politics in front of a grand jury. The federal prosecutor was ostensibly interested in some political vandalism in Seattle on May Day—but neither Duran nor Olejnik were in Seattle during the demonstration. (Olejnik had been working a shift at the Reef.) Duran and Olejnik say they were shown photographs and asked to talk about who knew whom, who lived with whom, and whether those people were anarchists. When Duran and Olejnik refused to answer, they were sent to prison for civil contempt. At the time, Olejnik’s attorney, Jenn Kaplan, said, “I’d hate for the public to think of her as an obstacle to a prosecution rather than as a principled person.”
Lindy West at Jezebel writes, “If I Admit That ‘Hating Men’ Is a Thing, Will You Stop Turning It Into a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy?“:
Though it is a seductive scapegoat (I understand why it attracts you), none of these terrible, painful problems in your life were caused by the spectre of “misandry.” You can rest easy about that, I promise! In fact, the most powerful proponent of misandry in modern internet discourse is you — specifically, your dogged insistence that misandry is a genuine, systemic, oppressive force on par with misogyny. This is specious, it hurts women, and it is hurting you. Most feminists don’t hate men, as a group (we hate the system that disproportionately favors men at the expense of women), but — congratulations! — we are starting to hate you. You, the person. Your obsession with misandry has turned misandry into a self-fulfilling prophecy. (I mean, sort of. Hating individual men is not the same as hating all men. But more on that in a minute.) Are you happy now? Is this what you wanted? Feminism is, in essence, a social justice movement—it wants to take the side of the alienated and the marginalized, and that includes alienated and marginalized men. Please stop turning us against you.
It is nearly impossible to address problems facing women—especially problems in which men are even tangentially culpable—without comments sections devolving into cries of “misandry!” from men and replies of “misandry isn’t real” from women. Feminists are tired of this endless, fruitless turd-pong: hollow “conversation” built on willful miscommunication, bouncing back and forth, back and forth, until both sides throw up their hands and bolt. Maybe you are tired of this too. We seem to be having some very deep misunderstandings on this point, so let’s unpack it. I promise not to yell.
Posted: April 3, 2013 at 9:24 pm | Tags: body, body image, disability, family, Feminism, gender, IWD, lgbtiq, media, parenting, patriarchy, politics, poverty, racism, rape, repro justice, violence
Hello and welcome to the fifty ninth Down Under Feminists’ Carnival. There has been so much going on this month I think you’ll thoroughly enjoy all the posts I’ve collected.
International Women’s Day
Helen at Blogger on the Cast Iron Balcony writes, “International Women’s Day 2013: Time for action to end violence against women” and discusses the great work that feminism has achieved over the past year.
Jo at A Life Unexamined writes, “To every woman in the world” an affirmation to all women about how awesome we are.
Clemintine Ford writes about Fairfax Digital’s very odd decision (now rectified) to retitle the Daily Life section to “Women’s Perspective” in “An open letter to Fairfax Digital“.
Clem Bastow at The Vine writes “Let’s talk about Adam Hills and Joan Rivers” in which she writes how wrong Adam Hills’s response was to Joan Rivers’s comments.
Deborah at Bee of a Certain Age writes, “Missing the point“:
There’s no attempt to talk to any women bloggers about their experience of trolling. And what we know now is that the abuse handed out on-line to women who dare to blog is outrageous.
Molly Eliza at Wom*news writes, “The Price of Existence“:
Even existing on the most basic level has a price tag. The bottom of Maslow’s pyramid. You need to pay for a roof over your head, food to eat, electricity, water, healthcare; all of those things we took for granted as kids, assumed that they were just a given. You pay through the nose to keep on living. It seems that the poorer you get, the more you pay to keep on living. We all know this, and accept it as the status quo – that living, existing on the most human level comes with a price. After all, that’s why you have a job.
Orlando at Hoyden About Town writes “Friday Hoyden: Ela Bhatt“:
“I would urge us to ensure that six basic primary needs are met from resources within 100 miles around us. I call it the ’100 mile principle’. If food, shelter, clothing, primary education, primary healthcare and primary banking are locally produced and consumed, we will have the growth of a new holistic economy, that the world will sit up and take note of.”
Kim at Larvatus Prodeo writes, “Feminism, Julia Gillard and Magical Thinking“.
Cat Williams guests posts at The Australian Independent Media Network with “stupid lefty whore“, where she discusses the value in knowing the arguments of the other side, and her experience of misogyny online.
My post “The proof is actually in the Tony Abbott pudding” was nominated for this carnival:
So today Abbott has come out saying that he’s a changed man, that he’s grown and changed (recently) and that we shouldn’t judge him by comments he made 35 years ago. Ok, sure, I won’t judge Tony Abbott for comments he made 35 years ago, back when he was a dick, I’ll judge him for comments he’s said far more recently than that, which still show he’s still a dick.
Andie Fox who blogs at blue milk, has the following piece in the Guardian, “Julia Gillard’s adoption apology comes after an abyss of trauma“.
Megpie71 writes at Hoyden About Town, “On Political Polls and Negative Rainfall“:
Poll watching is the great spectator sport among Australian journalists, and there are polls just about every week measuring how people feel about X, Y, or Z. What these polls leave out (and what they have to leave out) is due to the mechanism of our representative democracy, how we-the-voters feel about issues doesn’t matter most of the time. It only matters on one day every three years – on election day, when we get to cast our votes. The rest of the time, it’s just noise, and no amount of opinion polls showing how concerned we are by $ISSUE are going to change the fact.
Personal politics this time and my blog post on “When it’s not about you” was nominated to be included in this month’s carnival:
So this is for those people who fail to consider other people before looking for their own emotional resolution. Those people who demand closure or their emotions handled when the epicentre of something bad happened to someone else they know. I do get that generally we are self centred individuals who think about our own suffering before others, but we should perhaps consider not opening our mouths when someone else has every reason to be suffering or grieving more than we do ourselves.
Jacqui Tomlins writes, “Without Jesus, our students are lost“:
A couple of weeks ago my kids came home from school (a local state primary) with a letter asking whether I would like them to undertake Special Religious Instruction (SRI). No, I wouldn’t, I told the school – three times in heavily circled biro. It’s not the first time I’ve been asked this question and every time it really, really annoys me.
Joanna at The view from down here writes, “I could talk“:
So much I could say. So much I could post. Though of course not all of it I would post. I could and probably should post about the NDIS/disabilityCare thing and the problems with that label, not to mention any of the other funding or UN Convention on the RIghts of people with disability implications. Or I could talk about the sense of disconnect I fear between the expectations placed on the NDIS and what I fear the outcomes will be, especially in terms of the expectation of being participatory human members of society. Not to mention our own expectation of this.
Sarah Jane Innes at Sarah’s world of procrastination writes, “Deadly Bloggers Challenge week 11: Language“:
I am dyslexic. Dyslexia is more then reading things incorrectly. The words trip and tumble. There is a disconnect between my brain and what is intended to be said.I speed through sentences so that people don’t notice the incorrect words, the stammer, the confusion, the fear. Words have long been my enemy. Rather ironic that I have an Honours degree in Communications (Writing). People are unforgiving. They judge your intelligence based on your spelling, your pronunciation, your grammar. I refuse to use the popular name as I find it offensive so lets just call them the Grammar police.
Joanne at The view from down here also writes, “A cautionary tale aka: of Picolo, cake and dodos“, and I’m really sorry that she went through that experience.
Helen at Blogger on the Cast Iron Balcony writes about Helen Razer’s dig at Destroy the Joint in “We waste enough energy already explaining to trolls“:
To be fair to Razer, and to get back to the general topic of this rant, this attitude is not unique to her. I wish I had a dollar for every Tumblr social justice blogger who has blasted “feminists” for not writing about the Terrible Thing which she has decided is the Thing which must be written about du jour. Next thing you know she’s posting about nail art or some favourite food. (This is perfectly OK by me, by the way – I’m not the one wanting to make a huge deal out of blogging/not blogging any given topic. But consistency, y’know.)
Jennifer Wilson at No Place for Sheep, writes about her views of Helen Razer’s recent comments and Jenna Price’s response in “Feminism. Feminists.”
Mindy at Hoyden About Town writes, “Defining feminism and destroying the joint“:
I do think that Razer has misjudged the point of Destroy the Joint, it won’t have failed if it doesn’t bring down the Patriarchy. That is a big ask for one organisation where three waves of feminism have failed to do that before. The same with Everyday Sexism – it is less about destroying the Patriarchy in one big gulp and more about pointing out how everyday things we often take for granted are sexist. Will it change the world, probably not, will it open a few eyes and start a few minds working – yes and that is a success right there.
Kim at Larvatus Prodeo writes, “Destroy which joint?“:
What’s the message here? Yes, representations are important. Culture shapes life. But material life is reflected in Culture too. Social location is important. It’s very easy, perhaps too easy, to sit in one’s hot desk at a Co-Working Space tweeting anti-Alan Jones messages. Lo, how the Old White Men have fallen! Yep, contest their ground. But don’t forget – they won’t go away so easily. Because the real injustice is the permanent suppression, the permanent inequality, the permanent oppression that so many women not on Twitter live as their daily existence. The key is to think that, think outside your own circle, talk as well as decry.
Team Oyeniyi writes, “If this is feminism, you can keep it – Warning: discussion of rape and swearing”
So while I appreciate the essay’s philosophic merits, I’ll be damned if I can correlate the content to saving women NOW, TODAY! I don’t need to analyse the history of the rise of feminism to push countries to pass laws to prevent the subjugation of women. I don’t need to consider “The cyborg is a creature in a post-gender world; it has no truck with bisexuality, pre-oedipal symbiosis, unalienated labour, or other seductions to organic wholeness through a final appropriation of all the powers of the parts into a higher unity.” What I need is to see that fucking decal gone from that ute so small children aren’t seduced to organic unwholesomeness.
Can be bitter writes, “Bitterness by request: What got us into feminism” with her story of how she got into feminism (which is clearly obvious from the title of the post).
Wom*news writes “UQWC’s Reply to ‘Fabulous Feminism’ in Semper Floreat” in which they reply to an article which paints itself as feminist while being very much not so.
At Musings of an Inappropriate woman, “At home in the Musings household…” briefly follows a conversation.
stargazer at The Hand Mirror writes about “changing names“:
but globalisation has tended to change some of that. because many eastern cultures absorbed the notion that western cultures were more advanced and modern, they have adopted some of the cultural norms of the west. with the result that women who were never expected to change their names on marriage are now pressured to do so. the societal pressure that was so absent is now building & has been for some time now.
Jennifer Wilson at No Place for Sheep, writes “If you see a child as “sexualised” there’s something wrong with your vision” *trigger warning for discussion of rape*
Utopiana at Rantings of an Aboriginal Feminist writes, “Spambots: the horseman of the binary patriarchy apocalypse“:
Here’s the thing: I am currently thinking that the patriarchy is so deeply embedded that all you need to do is type a phrase whilst sitting on your couch in your pyjamas and suddenly shiny patriarchy will appear. Like dial-a-patriarchy or something. It’s really so convenient. I, for example, typed “fake tanning” on my blog and managed to receive three posts from alleged fake tan providers discussing the virtues of their products. My post examining labiaplasty got a further two posts from cosmetic surgery companies (apparently) talking about the wonderful procedures they had on special should I wish to craft myself into the ultimate socially-acceptable woman. My comments on surrogacy earned me a post from an international surrogacy provider talking about the wonderful genetic material incubators they had available (in other words, women) just raring to produce a little Celeste clone so my life would be complete. Elsewhere, I questioned the Lingerie Football League and ended up with a free-ticket offer to one of their games (sadly, the tickets were available in North America not Northern Burbs Melbs). A literal cornucopia of patriarchal advertising just eager to get to my inbox. It is really quite insane.
Mikaela Wangmann at the NUS Women’s Department writes, “Gender Studies is under attack. Again.“:
This is a huge issue as not simply because a reduction in courses and subjects that students have to choose from is a detriment to their education by lack of breadth but also because it awkwardly reflects a lot of what is taught in these courses. To be honest I can’t think of better way to mirror the content of these courses about how women have been undervalued and had to fight for every freedom we enjoy today but also show the distance we still have to go than by cutting them.
Race and Racism
Mehallelujah writes, “I’m not racist but…“:
We see ‘I’m not racist but’ comments on social media all the time. Websites like theantibogan.wordpress.com have been set up to give the online community the power to name and shame racists, sexists and homophobes. Such initiatives can make big statements particularly in the online sphere where people often think they have the added advantage of anonymity. But what of real life encounters? Where do we go to report IRL racists?
stargazer at The Hand Mirror writes about her hopes for the new Race Commissioner in New Zealand, Susan Devoy in “hoping for the best” and how important it is that they be able to work together:
if she fails to act or to speak, she won’t suffer the consequences: i will, or some other marginalised person and/or community of colour will. if she fails to do her job properly, i will find it harder to fight the discrimination i face in my day to day life.
Mindy at Hoyden About Town writes a book review “#AWW 2013: Mum Shirl book review“:
Reading this book is like having a cosy chat with MumShirl. She gently but unflinchingly reveals how white policies, perhaps well meaning but misguided perhaps intentional, had devastating effects on Aboriginal communities. She talks of her early life at Erambie Mission in Cowra with her family, discovering she had epilepsy and her early struggles with it when medication was still unavailable to treat it, marrying, child rearing and losing her marriage and giving up her child to the care of relatives. She also talks about the extensive efforts she went to to support prisoners, family and anyone and everyone in need of help. She was a founding member of both the Aboriginal Legal Service and the Aboriginal Medical Service. Throughout her determination to do her best is her motivation, no matter the cost to her personally. She really was an amazing person (she passed away in 1998). She was awarded an MBE in 1975, an Order of Australia in 1985, Aborigine of the Year in 1990, and named as a National Living Treasure shortly before her death.
Queen of Thorns at Ideologically Impure writes, “Fuck off Jezebel: Quvenzhané Wallis is too good for your shit edition“:
Now, to Jezebel. Jezebel, which on top of all its previous crimes against social justice decided that right now, right after a young black girl was called a cunt by The Onion, was the perfect time to post a big ol’ article about how cunt isn’t a bad word, it’s a word we should reclaim, woo yeah girl power right on.
Jo Tamer at Wallaby writes, “Sexuality and sex work” where she recounts a conversation she participated in where a straight woman asked a gay woman how much money it would take for her to sleep with a man.
Spilt Milk writes “Comfy world“:
In dealing with homophobia in my daily life, I’m coming to see just how fiercely straight adults also hoard the soft furnishings of social ease.
Chrys Stevenson at Gladly, the Cross-Eyed Bear writes, about the “Hattonvale Nursery Queensland – homophobic rant“.
Chally at Zero at the Bone wrote a “Book Review: A Love Story Starring My Dead Best Friend by Emily Horner” which sounds like something I’d love to read.
Jennifer Wilson at No Place for Sheep writes “Dance me to the end of love” about her relationship with her husband.
blue milk posts “Review of Things I Didn’t Expect (When I Was Expecting) by Monica Dux“:
One of the strengths of Things I Didn’t Expect (When I Was Expecting) is the way it so clearly identifies the contradictory pressures on new mothers – be natural, but don’t let yourself go. Speaking of hypocrisy, there’s also an excellent discussion in the book of the duplicitous game of ‘bad mother’ confessions that women sometimes play in mothers’ groups where the information they share is really slyly designed to enhance their own reputations as good mothers. But this is the difference between a feminist author like Dux, and a less nuanced writer – Dux is ultimately forgiving of the ‘bad mother’ game because she understands that while this behaviour silences us, it is also really about mothers coming to terms with the pressure of the ‘selfless mother’ expectation that is on all of us.
Julie at the Hand Mirror writes, “No country for young babies” regarding the baby left in a car at a supermarket carpark and the judgement poured on the mother of that child.
AlisonM at the Hand Mirror writes, “UN ‘Family’ Resolution Raises Concern” and spells out why there are concerns.
Utopiana at Rantings of an Aboriginal Feminist writes, “Turning 35 and the quandaries of reproductive “choice”” talking about the different types of choice (to have children or not as one example), and other reproductive issues, including surrogacy and birthing choices.
AlisonM at The Hand Mirror writes about a court case in New Zealand currently where a driver is being charged with reckless driving causing death of his wife’s fetus in ‘Careless Driving Causing Death’:
“There’s no definition of a person in the transport act, so that’s where this issue will focus on. What does it mean by a person,” he said in an interview in January. Along the way, however, Miller says, the police also must prove that Gebretsadik was careless and, if so, that it was the collision that caused the death of the fetus. His complaint with the police over the “causing death” charge is what he sees as their lack of compassion.
Team Oyeniyi writes, “Womanhood: from menstruation to menopause” describing her recent experience of menopause and the decision to try HRT (MRT).
Can be bitter writes, “Songs I Listen to While Running #2: ‘Sexy and I Know It’, LMFAO“:
LMFAO go out of their way to posit that every body can be “sexy”, even those that do not meet society’s expectations. We know this from the fourth line, “This is how I roll, animal print pants, out of control”, where Redfoo seems to feel the need to address his unconventional appearance. This is reiterated with his “big afro”, and wearing a Speedo at the beach. Although he clearly attracts attention (“Everybody stops and they staring at me”), he does not apologise for standing out or taking up space. In fact, he relishes it, and asks for more (“Girl, look at that body”).
Bridgett Judd at the ramblings of an idiot writes, “The Obesity Paradox” in which she discusses the fact that the “war on obesity” has lead to a rise in eating disorders.
Sleepydumpling at Fat Heffalump writes, “Creating the Problem In the First Place“:
This shit doesn’t happen in a vacuum. These same media outlets publish story after story beating the “obesity epidemic” drum, and wringing their hands over “childhood obesity”, and then wonder why children obsess over their weight from a ridiculously early age? These media outlets crap on about being “healthy”, which is just diet-talk reworded with no actual conscientious addressing of holistic health of all people, and then they get all up in arms about children dieting? They allow the most hateful, bigoted crap about fat people to be published in the comments and call it “opinion”. Not to mention that every single time I go to a mainstream media site, women’s or not, I am bombarded with ads for weight loss. Where do they think kids, and their parents, get all of this stuff in the first place?
blue milk posts an interesting “Conversation with my gynecologist“.
Chrys Stevenson at Glady, the Cross-Eyed Bear writes, “Tales on a Tutu” about being inspired by a Fat Activist to make and wear her own tutu and about choosing to be an activist.
LudditeJourno at The Hand Mirror writes about “Scaffolding” and her recent experiences of her body.
Sleepydumpling at Fat Heffalump writes, “Public Fat Shaming is not Good Marketing” about a recent experience she had while attending a public event.
Queen of Thorns at Ideologically Impure writes two separate posts on the fatpocalypse, “I am become fatpocalypse: the apology” and “I am become fatpocalypse: eliminationism” both of which are great.
Violence *trigger warning for posts in this section*
the news with nipples writes, “Warped reporting at Sydney Morning Herald and Daily Telegraph“:
It’s tough being a woman. We just walk down the street and then, out of nowhere, an assault happens to us. We need to be particularly careful of these disembodied assaults that just hang around until they can happen at someone. At least, that’s the impression I get when journalists report on violence against women: men don’t assault women, it’s just that women have assaults happen to them.
Katie Larissa at Wom*news writes, “Slut: A Myth“:
Everyone knows that the word “slut” has power, whether we agree with it or not.
It is used to shame and degrade women and, more importantly, to put them in a box with a label that says “you’re not human here” and to make sure they stay there. Whilst there are many different variables in the slut-shaming game, the objective remains the same: to ensure women’s behaviour is deemed “acceptable” by societal terms, and to make sex a source of shame and not power. In a culture that is so concerned with labels and definitions, one has to pose the question: what is a slut? After years of being called a slut, of hearing my friends being called sluts I can only assume that a slut is a woman who doesn’t adhere to every societal expectation heaped upon her.
MJ at Kiwiana (inked) writes “No, seriously, please stop bringing up false accusations when we talk about rape“.
Jo at A Life Unexamined writes, “When will women stop being told to be more careful?“:
So when the media talks about women taking preventative measures to stop rape, it’s actually not dealing with the issue at hand very well at all – it’s only taking a tiny percentage of rapes and assaults into consideration. It’s telling us that if we just act ‘more carefully,’ we can stop being raped. With the implication being that if we are attacked, well, we obviously weren’t being quite careful enough.
the news with nipples writes, “How much do we need to know?“:
There’s a wider discussion to be had here, about what should be shown and what shouldn’t be shown. Particularly as these stories get reported all around the world. When someone takes a gun into a school and starts shooting children, should the media make him famous? On the other hand, if his identity is just a minor part of the story, it removes him from his crime.
LudditeJourno at The Hand Mirror writes, “TVNZ smacks their b*tch up“:
What was this about for TVNZ? Their appalling choice of backing music makes it look like it was all a bit of a laugh. Their focus on all the reasons people don’t intervene – including putting up an image of brave bystander Austin Hemmings not once but twice makes it look like they don’t believe community responsibility is possible. Their slavish hyping up of one young man’s potential for violence felt more like watching the build up to a boxing match than anything else. Their joky, oh-imagine-looking-like-a-dick defense of choosing not to intervene isn’t that far off the “it’s just a domestic” excuse of the 1950s.
Orlando at Hoyden About Town posts, “A Short Post on Rape Prevention“.
Orlando at Hoyden About Town writes, “Friday Hoyden: Zerlina Maxwell“.
Louise Scarce at NUS Women’s Department writes, “Your Group of 8 law degree: now featuring rape culture“:
My law lecturer made a rape joke while delivering a lecture to hundreds of students. Most of the
students laughed. That concerned me. But, I was equally concerned about the statistical certainty
that some of the students who laughed must have themselves been survivors of sexual assault.
When a well-respected professor from a sandstone university jokes about rape, he sends the
message that rape is a laughing matter. His voice is more powerful than most. His job is to teach us
about legal and ethical standards. By virtue of his position as a legal academic and student mentor,
this man had a responsibility to counteract rape culture, not perpetuate it.
Mikaela Wangmann at NUS Women’s Department writes, “The sad thing is…”
I haven’t been able to get this out of my head since, and I think that it is important that we don’t forget that these things are still happening, dont put dealing with them in the to hard basket, say that colleges are just out of our reach or we can’t make the change in the 12 month term. But realise that the campaigns we run and in particular Talk About It are really important, they can and do help young women who are being abused, pressured and harassed. They do force Universities, Colleges and Government to take action.
Sarah Jane Innes at Sarah’s wold of procrastination writes, “Self Worth“:
My low self-esteem has led to my low self-worth and now they feed each other. Like most things wrong with adults it can be blamed on my childhood, specifically my teenage years. I was bullied, on all sorts of levels in all sorts of ways since year 4 (possibly earlier it’s all a blur). I was bullied for being new, for being quite, for freckles, for weight, for mental illness, for awkwardness, for my ‘weird’ family, for my learning difficulties. Basically I was the bully’s easiest target. I feel things deeply and I used to wear my heart on my sleeve. I still feel things too deeply but I try and hide it. Laugh it off or deliberately appear humourless. The years of bullying have worn away at me in a way that prevents me feeling worthy of the successes. I try to counteract this; I have had years of therapy on and off. I have realised on one level that my bullies were sad in their own ways, low on self-esteem, victims of bullying whether at school or at home. One actually has on her social media profile that she can’t stand ‘shy people’ or people with ‘mental weaknesses’, she plans on being a Journalist. I wonder how with her apparent lack of empathy. For the most part these people have no place in my life, I cut the ties, unfriended and avoid. Some I pity because of their current life circumstances but none of this undoes the pain and hurt. None of this fixes my self-esteem problems. Nor should it. The day I feel better because my former bullies are not successful in the ways that I measure success is the day I sink to that high school level.
Posted: March 27, 2013 at 9:29 pm | Tags: relationships, responsibility, stuff, thoughts
*trigger warning for discussion of rape*
So this is for those people who fail to consider other people before looking for their own emotional resolution. Those people who demand closure or their emotions handled when the epicentre of something bad happened to someone else they know. I do get that generally we are self centred individuals who think about our own suffering before others, but we should perhaps consider not opening our mouths when someone else has every reason to be suffering or grieving more than we do ourselves.
It is not the job of the person/s who are in the epicentre of some terrible event to consider the feelings of other people who are peripheral to the epicentre. The epicentre sucks, and the concentric circles of closeness from that event also suck, but they suck less and less than the epicentre.
Let me give some examples, one that I’ve experienced myself even. When a partner of 18 months left me to be monogamous with his other partner, someone I had hoped to receive some sympathy from when I told them the news was upset with me because I didn’t think of her feelings in telling her this news. She expected me to sympathise with her over the loss of a potential relationship she might have had versus the actual relationship I’d lost. She was angry that I didn’t sympathise with her, even though I was completely unaware of her potential relationship. She’d made it all about her and failed to consider where the epicentre of hurt was in this instance.
Another scenario, one I’ve heard more than once, when a relationship breaks down and someone not in the relationship exclaims their disappointment at the relationship breaking down, wanting some kind of support for their pain over hearing that the relationship is over, without any consideration for what the person is telling them feels about it.
Just like when someone discloses to you that they’ve been raped, the focus should not be on the listener’s feelings about the whole issue:
Maintain the focus on her. This is tricky, because each rape victim is unique and the response they need from you may vary from person to person. I have in the past said not to react with anger, because that puts the victim in the position of having to talk someone down from committing murder or assault, but I’ve since heard from rape victims who felt that anger in response to their stories was helpful and cathartic. So I will amend my earlier statement to say that expressing emotion, even strong emotion, is probably fine, but do it while remembering that this moment isn’t about you so much as it is about the victim. Communication is very valuable here: “I’m going to kill him!” is very very unlikely to be helpful, but saying “I know this isn’t about me, but I’m just so furious at him. Is there anything I can do for you?” is one way of expressing strong emotion while still affirming that you are there to help the victim, rather than she being there to talk you down from homicide or console you at being confronted with rape culture*. [ana mardoll's ramblings]
So, if it isn’t about you, don’t make it about you. Be there for the person at the epicentre of tragedy, because if that was you, you’d want exactly that. Don’t make the person/s at the epicentre have to care for you and take time away from processing their own emotions and reactions about the tragedy, don’t give them more work in having to care about you.
This has been your friendly PSA for the week.
Posted: March 15, 2013 at 4:57 pm | Tags: catholic, education, rape, sexual abuse, violence
*trigger warning for rape and sexual abuse*
So today’s WTF appears courtesy of Paul Mullen, Emeritus Professor of Forensic Psychiatry at Monash University. He’s attributed by the Age as saying:
Sex education should be expanded to teach young men not to sexually abuse children, a forensic psychiatrist has told a parliamentary inquiry in Victoria.
Paul Mullen, emeritus professor of forensic psychiatry at Monash University and the former clinical director of Forensicare, told the inquiry into the handling of child abuse that sex education needed to be revamped to prevent it.
Children “get a lot of detail, liberal sentiments, about gay or straight lifestyles. They get nothing, absolutely nothing, about the sexual abuse of children and boys’ and men’s responsibility not to perpetrate that activity,” Emeritus Professor Mullen said.
Now granted this is at the Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry into the Catholic Church’s handling of rape and sexual abuse of children, but really any such statement should be broadened that all rape and sexual abuse against anyone regardless of age of gender is wrong and people should be educated in relation to that.
It’s not like Catholic Priests didn’t also rape adult women, and hush that up or suggest that perhaps it was the woman’s fault.
So Emeritus Professor Paul Mullen, what we need is education for everyone, regardless of gender, that explicitly states that the sexual abuse of anyone is wrong. Given the high percentage of male perpetrators of sexual violence, the education should definitely be, “don’t be that guy“, but also that being raped or sexually assaulted is never the fault of the victim, but always the fault of the perpetrator.
These are important messages, and I am concerned that Emeritus Professor Paul only narrowly targeted his message when he had the opportunity to address a broader societal issue that ties into the issues of Catholic Clergy sexual abuse.
Posted: March 11, 2013 at 2:53 pm | Tags: body, body image, bullying, fat, fat hatred
*Trigger warning for bullying, fat hatred and eating disorders*
So that terrible, terrible show “The Biggest Loser” is back on TV, which means that I will be avoiding whatever channel it’s on (I don’t watch TV enough to even know that), and I won’t be watching that TV screen when I’m at the gym. Because regardless of how some people might see the torture of fat people “inspiring” as they learn to love/hate their bodies for TV, I just find the entire thing repulsive.
This season, according to the TV ads I’ve seen, we’re doing parent and child teaming, because with stats just pulled out of someone’s arse (because they’re not cited anywhere in the ad), if you are an obese parent, you’re far more likely to have obese children. The dad whose interview appears on the ads I’ve watched talks about how his son comes home from school crying because he’s beingbullied about his weight and that this (Biggest Loser) is an opportunity for him to gain some confidence.
The Biggest Loser, apart from being a show that even in the ad we see almost kills the father, is not a show that will help anyone gain confidence. In the small amounts I have watched over the years, I cannot see how being screamed at by personal trainers, being forced to binge on food to the point of tears, being hounded about not doing enough, and having your body gazed upon and judged by the entire country is going to do anything for your confidence.
If that boy was my son, I would be talking to the school about the bullying he’s receiving, I’d talk to the parents of the children who are bullying my son and explaining the effects of bullying, I’d go to the Department of Education and demand more action if not enough was taken, I’d ensure that my son had proper counselling or psychological care to help build resilience, confidence and develop tools to build support networks. I’m not saying that this family hasn’t done any of this, what I’m saying is that in my toolbox in dealing with this issue The Biggest Loser does not, and would never, appear.
I feel sorry for those who compete to enter The Biggest Loser. I feel for all the fat hatred they’ve swallowed and believe that they only way that they’ll truly be happy is to lose weight while almost killing themselves for the pleasure of doing so.
Don’t let me be the only one telling you that The Biggest Loser is possibly the worst torture porn you will ever watch, let Kai Hibbard, a contestant in the US version tell it to you instead. Parts 1, 2, & 3 of her interviews with Golda Poresky detail her experiences on the show, having to ignore doctor’s orders, developing an eating disorder and the bullying from the TV producers.
Do Australia a favour and do not watch The Biggest Loser. Leave it alone, shun it as it should be shunned, and instead work on removing fat hatred from your own vocabulary and if you can, pointing it out to others as something that is unacceptable.
Posted: March 11, 2013 at 1:31 pm | Tags: Christianity, equal marriage, lgbtiq, media, politics, Religion
So today Abbott has come out saying that he’s a changed man, that he’s grown and changed (recently) and that we shouldn’t judge him by comments he made 35 years ago. Ok, sure, I won’t judge Tony Abbott for comments he made 35 years ago, back when he was a dick, I’ll judge him for comments he’s said far more recently than that, which still show he’s still a dick.
Harsh you might say, but I note he hasn’t actually come out distancing himself from those far more recent comments. Let’s look at today’s news across the spectrum of news agencies.
First the ABC:
Federal Opposition Leader Tony Abbott says he can guarantee that his religious views will not impact on policies about women.
The Liberal leader has also backtracked from his previous views on homosexuals and saying the numbers of abortions each year is a “legacy of unutterable shame”.
“I didn’t express it as well as I could have or should have,” Mr Abbott said.
“And I absolutely accept that for any woman facing an unexpected pregnancy, the choices are tough.”
“Faith is important to me. It’s important to millions of Australians. It helps to shape who I am. It helps to shape my values,” he said.
“But it must never, never dictate my politics. Judge me by what the considered view today is, not by throwaway lines and off-hand comments 35 years ago.”
Mr Abbott, who as student politician at Sydney University opposed gay rights, also said he no longer has the strong views on homosexuality he used to.
In the interview Mr Abbott reaffirmed his opposition to gay marriage.
Ok, so from the ABC report, we know that the choices women have when dealing with unexpected pregnancies are tough, but there is no mention of any new Coalition policies towards the decriminalisation of abortion. Abbott has also said that although his faith is important, it won’t dictate his politics, asking that we don’t judge him by his dickish comments 35 years ago. He hasn’t, as I said earlier, repudiated his comments over the past 11 years, many of which suggest that his politics are deeply influenced by this faith. He also said that his “strong views on homosexuality” have changed, but he still opposes marriage equality. Which suggests that although he might now think that the queer community are ok, he isn’t all for equal rights.
Additional information from news.com includes:
Mr Abbott reflected on the now-famous speech by Prime Minister Julia Gillard attacking him as a misogynist.
“It wasn’t fair and it wasn’t true,” he said.
He said he had said things in the past which he wouldn’t say today, and believed in things that he did not believe now.
“I have changed and I like to think I have grown,” he said.
His views on homosexuality have also changed and he now warmly accepts his sister Christine Forster as a lesbian, after she left her marriage of 19 years to be with her new partner Virginia.
So which things has Abbott changed his mind on? The news articles, and I’m guessing also from the content the 60 Minutes interview, he has just said he’s changed his mind and hasn’t actually enunciated what he’s changed his minds on. No, I’m not going to watch 60 Minutes and listen to Abbott’s voice to determine whether he’s been clear on what he’s changed his mind on precisely, if there was anything substantial it would be reported on in the media such as:
TONY ABBOTT SUPPORTS MARRIAGE EQUALITY
ABBOTT SUPPORTS ABORTION DECRIMINALISATION
As none of these things were reported, I think it’s yet another sound bite in the vain attempt to make Abbott seem like a decent individual.
And truly, it is so heart warming that he STILL LOVES HIS OWN SISTER even though she has come out as a lesbian. When I read that, my heart swelled fit to bursting and the stars shone brighter than ever before. What type of monster would Abbott be if he actually disowned his sister or stated he couldn’t stand his sister’s decision to live her life true to herself? That wouldn’t be politically wise, so despite leaving her high and dry in that she cannot marry her new partner or anyone else of the same sex, saying that he “warmly accepts” his sister really is the barest minimum he can do.
And from The Age:
He also stated that earlier comments condemning abortion were poorly stated and admitted that his opposition to homosexuals had changed once he had got to know gays.
Supported by his lesbian sister, her lover, his wife Margie and his daughters, Mr Abbott said that when he claimed three years ago during a television interview that he felt “a bit threatened” by homosexuals, he had been trying to guard a family secret.
He had only just been told by his sister that she was a lesbian.
“Now I couldn’t talk about that then because it was deeply personal and deeply private,” he said.
“But certainly, they were very tough times for our family, hence my comment, because the cohesion of our family was threatened at that time. But I’m pleased to say that we’re all in a better space now than we were then.”
Interviewed at a family barbecue at his Sydney home, Mr Abbott’s sister, Christine Forster, said he had been “completely unfazed” when she told him that she was in a lesbian relationship after 19 years married to a man.
Mr Abbott, who has always insisted marriage was between a man and a woman, even appeared to hold open the vague possibility of a future policy change by his party on same-sex marriage.
So Abbott is attempting to have it both ways, being “completely unfazed” when his sister outed herself to him, and also that “the cohesion of [his] family was threatened at that time” – though granted without context that could be in relation to another issue that had nothing to do with his sister. The way it is reported however, makes it look like he didn’t react well to his sister coming out as a lesbian, but then he got over himself – well done Abbott – you’re a mostly decent human.
And it shouldn’t take you getting to know some “gays” before your attitude to them changes to acknowledging their equal citizenship and humanity. Accepting that the broader queer community is make up of regular every day people is a no-brainer, except if you are a fundamentalist Christian who is happier to deny the humanity of your fellow citizens than to question what you have been taught.
Until I see some policy changes from Abbott which genuinely indicates that he’s shifted from his known ultraconservative views to what he is now claiming to be, I don’t accept his claims that he’s grown and changed into a decent individual, and that the Liberal Party is even remotely something I could vote for in the future.
Posted: March 9, 2013 at 4:40 pm | Tags: equality, Feminism, IWD, media, sexism, violence
Happy International Women’s Day for 2013. I’ve been meaning to write for a very long time about why feminism is still required and how the fight for true equality has a long way to go, and what better day than today to write such a post. The saddest thing for me is that since I first conceived writing this post, with a title more along the lines of “Why we still need feminism”, I’ve continued collating frequent examples of sexism, violence, double standards, misogyny, etc. These stories are not single instances of bad behaviour or individuals whose attitudes date back to the 50s, all of these stories are current, the issues, violence, at horrible attitudes being things that women have to manage daily. This isn’t good enough and society (and I’m looking at you men) needs to do better.
As Elizabeth Broderick, Australia’s Federal Sex Discrimination Officer said at the recent TEDx Women event in Melbourne, women have fought and gained a lot in the past 100 years, but it’s time that more men joined the fight with us, because it’s time that men started changing men’s minds.