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I wandered lonely as a linkspam (October 2014)


So, in a very short time I gathered a wide range of interesting posts and I need to close out several tabs in my browser, so here we are and I’m sharing more interesting (well at least to me) things with you.  If you are not interested in linkspam today, go and check out my cookbook blog, and look at all the cooking I’ve been doing recently.

Ian Baker writes at Medium, “Growing Up Poor With Three Parents“:

It’s easy to see why people might come to think of polyamory, at least in the form they see today, as the purview of “rich, pretty people with too much time on their hands.” However, this viewpoint fails to acknowledge the underprivileged nonmonogamists among us — it serves to alienate the disadvantaged, to discourage them from even trying it. This denies polyamory’s considerable economic, social, and structural benefits to those who need them the most.

I am a second-generation poly person, who grew up in the eighties. My parents were quite poor when I was born, and I’ve experienced a great deal of class mobility over the course of my life. I’ve witnessed first-hand how economic privilege is not a requirement for nonmonogamy. In fact, the nontraditional nature of my family directly facilitated my own escape from a life of poverty. This is what it was like for me, growing up poor in America with two moms and a dad.

Juliet Khan at Comics Alliance writes, “Fear As A Way Of Life: Why Women In Comics Don’t ‘Just Report’ Sexual Harassment“:

Fear is also meant to keep us safe from sexual harassment, assault and abuse. We’re told not to stay out too late, not to go out alone, not to drink, not to lead anyone on, not to go home with anyone, not to ever feel safe in any situation that a man might take advantage of. If you fear the (implicitly common) worst from the men around you, you will escape it. When harassment, assault, and abuse take place anyway, fear is often a distinctly purposeful element of the encounter. Sometimes, this is subtle—it might take place in a deliberately secluded spot, or the perpetrator might be in a position of power over your future. Or, in the case of rape-and-death-threat style online harassment, the naked point of it might be to instill fear. After the harassment, assault, or abuse has taken place, it is fear that keeps women from speaking out. Fear of being branded the whiny bitch, of enduring the Anita Sarkeesian experience, or having one’s career torpedoed by a thousand nerds high on a lifetime’s worth of entitlement and vitriol.

Fear is what keeps us silent. Fear is what keeps men from understanding the ubiquity of these experiences. Fear is what keeps us from attaching a name to our allegations. Fear is what makes harassment, assault, and abuse a rite of passage for women in this industry and the world beyond. Fear, in this society, is what makes you a woman. And fear, in extinguishing discussion of its cruelties, keeps us from understanding its nature and better dismantling it.

Michelle Garcia writes at Advocate.com, “Op-ed: My Bi Choice“:

During my first year here, I was just glad to have a job. I pitched dumb articles and prayed I wouldn’t screw anything up (I did. A lot). But paired with being at the bottom of the totem pole on the staff, I also felt like my own sexuality was still not valid. I had a boyfriend and barely had any lady experience. I had lived through all kinds of racism and sexism, but the extent of overt homophobia hurled at me involved some stupid girl in eighth grade calling me a dyke, and me replying, “So?” and then she shrugged, and then music class started. Here I was writing articles about people being murdered solely for being transgender, or people being prevented from marrying or serving openly in the military. There were bigger problems in the world than my bi invisibility. So I failed to speak up. Often. I simply didn’t feel gay enough.

Kate Hakala at Nerve writes, “The Weird and Troubling History of Bisexuality Studies“:

Today marks the 15th annual Celebrate Bisexuality Day — a day dedicated to bringing respect, visibility, and awareness to all people who identify as having fluid identities. Since more than half of the LGBT community is comprised of bisexuals (1.8% of the total American population), it’s important to give recognition to a group that includes people of all gender identities from cis to trans and sexual orientations from queer to pansexual. We’re talking everyone from Anna Paquin, to Cynthia Nixon, Chirlane McCray, Tom Daley, Angelina Jolie, Billie Joe Armstrong, Megan Fox, Clive Davis, Megan Mullally, Andy Dick, David Bowie, and Lady Gaga.

Bisexuality can sometimes feel like a largely invisible orientation because of its historic neglect and ridicule in both the media and sciences. Often times, bisexuality can be portrayed as “greedy,” “a bridging mechanism,” to homosexuality, or worse, “imaginary.” All of which, of course, are inaccurate. In honor of bisexual visibility, Nerve took a look back at landmark scientific investigations which discussed both the validity and invalidity of bisexuality through the decades. This is how we got from Alfred Kinsey to Tom Daley.

Melissa Parke’s speech was published in The Guardian, “No one should be fooled into believing security is as simple as greater surveillance and deeper silence“:

I question the premise of the government’s general approach to this area of policy, which is essentially that freedoms must be constrained in response to terrorism; and that the introduction of greater obscurity and impunity in the exercise of government agency powers that contravene individual freedoms will both produce, and are justified in the name of, greater security.

If we want to continue our lives free from terrorism and orchestrated violence – so the argument goes – we have to accept shifting the balance between freedom and constraint away from the observance of basic rights and towards greater surveillance, more interference, deeper silence.

Let me say that no one should be fooled into believing it is as simple as that.

Catherine Buni and Soraya Chemaly write at The Atlantic, “The Unsafety Net: How Social Media Turned Against Women“:

All of this raised a series of troubling questions: Who’s proliferating this violent content? Who’s controlling its dissemination? Should someone be? In theory, social media companies are neutral platforms where users generate content and report content as equals. But, as in the physical world, some users are more equal than others. In other words, social media is more symptom than disease: A 2013 report from the World Health Organization called violence against women “a global health problem of epidemic proportion,” from domestic abuse, stalking, and street harassment to sex trafficking, rape, and murder. This epidemic is thriving in the petri dish of social media.

At this summer’s VidCon, an annual nationwide convention held in Southern California, women vloggers shared an astonishing number of examples. The violent threats posted beneath YouTube videos, they observed, are pushing women off of this and other platforms in disproportionate numbers. When Anita Sarkeesian launched a Kickstarter to help fund a feminist video series called Tropes vs. Women, she became the focus of a massive and violently misogynistic cybermob. Among the many forms of harassment she endured was a game where thousands of players “won” by virtually bludgeoning her face. In late August, she contacted the police and had to leave her home after she received a series of serious violent online threats.

Danielle Keats Citron, law professor at the University of Maryland and author of the recently released book Hate Crimes in Cyberspace, explained, “Time and time again, these women have no idea often who it is attacking them. A cybermob jumps on board, and one can imagine that the only thing the attackers know about the victim is that she’s female.” Looking at 1,606 cases of “revenge porn,” where explicit photographs are distributed without consent, Citron found that 90 percent of targets were women. Another study she cited found that 70 percent of female gamers chose to play as male characters rather than contend with sexual harassment.

This type of harassment also fills the comment sections of popular websites. In August, employees of the largely female-staffed website Jezebel published an open letter to the site’s parent company, Gawker, detailing the professional, physical, and emotional costs of having to look at the pornographic GIFs maliciously populating the site’s comments sections everyday. “It’s like playing whack-a-mole with a sociopathic Hydra,” they wrote, insisting that Gawker develop tools for blocking and tracking IP addresses. They added, “It’s impacting our ability to do our jobs.”

Camille Beredjick writes at Everyday Feminism, “Why Some Bisexuals Don’t Feel Welcome in the Queer Community“:

As queer issues are beginning to get public attention, and awareness of gay and lesbian relationships is rising, there’s one group that often gets left out in the cold: bisexual people.

Inae Oh at Mother Jones writes, “Ladies, Let Sarah Silverman Convince You to Get a Sex Change to Fix the Gender Wage Gap“:

Sarah Silverman, “writer, comedian, and vagina owner,” is no longer going to wait for the rest of the country to get on board to fix this inequality. In a new satirical video, she proposes the only rational solution left—get a sex change.

“Every year the average woman loses around $11,000 to the wage gap,” Silverman explains, while waiting patiently to choose the perfect penis for her surgical transformation. “Over the course of the working years of her life, that’s almost 500 grand.”

At Go Make Me a Sandwich, “D&D 5E: Why so many wimmenz??“:

UGH WIMMENZ WHY DOES THE NEW D&D HAVE SO MANY OF THEM THEY ARE OBJECTIVELY TERRIBLE AMIRITE AND ALSO BROWN PEOPLE DON’T RUIN MY FANTASY ABOUT MAGIC AND DRAGONS WITH BROWN WOMEN WTF IS WRONG WITH YOU

Jesus, internet. Could you maybe try to be less awful some time?

So here we go. Because it’s a thing worth saying, here are some reasons why D&D 5E is great and is totally a thing that tabletop gaming needed. (Spoilers: it’s the art)

Also, taking a step back, look at the characters being depicted here. These characters all come from obviously distinct cultures. So not only do we have group portraits that include a variety of ethnic backgrounds, but we also have PoC adventurers who come from obviously non-white cultures, rather than being rolled into some White Fantasy Crypto-European culture.

Which is really just the best, because yay social justice! But also because White Fantasy Crypto-Europe has gotten boring as shit. So the fact that WoTC has taken effort to portray a variety of cultures that go beyond different flavors of white people is amazing, because it’s new and exciting.

Howard Hotson at Times Higher Education writes, “Germany’s great tuition fees U-turn“:

Why did Germany introduce tuition fees in the first place? The answer, in short, is that politicians favoured the idea. Self-styled “modernisers” had been advocating tuition fees since German reunification in 1990. Cultural differences between east and west initially hindered this plan, but the main obstacle was a federal law banning tuition fees, which echoed provisions guaranteeing free education in the constitutions of individual states. In 2005, however, the Federal Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe ruled that moderate fees, coupled with affordable loans, would safeguard these constitutional provisions. Within two years, a cascade of laws had swept through most of the federal Länder. The attraction of shifting some of the funding burden to individual beneficiaries was irresistible. So was the compulsion to imitate the changes made elsewhere, lest universities in one’s own state should remain less well funded, and the public purse more stretched, than in neighbouring states.

Seven out of 10 states in west Germany introduced fees in 2006 or 2007; an eighth, Bremen, was prevented from doing so by a lawsuit. Only two – Rheinland-Pfalz and Schleswig-Holstein – resisted the tide completely.

If such unanimity had been maintained, policymakers would now be declaring these changes inevitable. Yet within a single electoral cycle, their long-sought policy was comprehensively overturned. The only state still charging tuition fees in 2014, Lower Saxony, will cease to do so at the end of this academic year.

Waleed Aly wrote at the Sydney Morning Herald, “Burqa ban a political excuse for persecution“:

But ignorance is no barrier precisely because this debate really has nothing to do with the women being recast as some kind of problem. Strip it all back and they’ve done nothing to invite this. They aren’t the ones charged with plotting “demonstration killings”. They aren’t the ones being busted carrying weapons or attacking police officers.

They are, however, the ones most often assaulted or abused on the street or on public transport. They’re the ones whose freedom we try most to restrict.

In short, they become the symbolic target for our rage; the avatar we choose to represent a generalised enemy, and the threat it poses. In this, we obey what seems a diabolically universal principle: that whatever the outrage, whatever the fear, and whatever the cause, it is women that must suffer first and most.

Potty-Mouthed Princesses Drop F-Bombs for Feminism by FCKH8.com

Mera Terrha Pakistan writes, “Bisexuality is a Queer Sin“:

Moreover, if you’re a bi woman in a queer group and you’re with a woman, you are functionally lesbian so that’s okay. You can talk about your bi-ness and everyone will make a big joke about it, but basically, it’s okay, you haven’t strayed. But if somehow you accidentally fall for a man and are in a relationship with him, suddenly it’s not funny anymore. A bi woman in a relationship with a man is straight (and dead) to lesbians.

What I’ve found more interesting recently is that bi men are also disregarded by gay men, but not for being traitors ore foreign agents. It’s more that gay men think men can’t actually be bi. Oh, you can get a gay man to say that, of course, men are bi and bisexuality exists, all that jazz; but in gossip or chat mode, when it comes up that a man says he’s bi, the answer goes something like: “Him? He’s a pakki khusri! He’s just saying he’s bi because, trust me, I’ve seen millions like him, he’s not just gay, he’s a bottom!”

At Even Aud, “Children and Transgender People Part 2:“:

You can explain that the world is a very complex place, and that people often react with fear, anger and even violence to these complexities. In the case of trans people our existence challenges some very,very deeply held beliefs. The idea that there are, and only should be two mutually exclusive genders that your gender is immutable after birth and no changing can happen, is literally one of the foundations of western society.Transgender people shake that belief. It causes a very fundamental fear  in people. “if they are transgender, if their gender changes..what about me? Could that happen to me?” For many cisgender people this is a terrifying prospect. Gender is something that we base a lot of ourselves around. Transgender and especially genderqueer/non binary /gender non conforming people shake that base. When that is shaken some people would rather react with oppression, violence, bullying instead of taking a look inside themselves and examine their gender and answer tough questions.

Mera Terrha Pakistan writes, “Liveability“:

This is a queer problem. It requires a queer solution.

People are being killed. All kinds of people in all kinds of places. Targeted. Planned. Angry mob murders. Serial murders. And there is no real sense that can be made, no coherent thread that can be pulled between everything so that we can say, yes, this is why, let’s just stop this one thing and…

So the problem of fear and the problem of the closet and the problem of being suddenly hurt or killed one day are all the same problem. How do you live your life in this country and feel like you’ll actually live? How do you act yourself?

Giselle Nguyen writes at Rookie, “Closed for Business“:

“Are you sure?” Carl asked as we sat on the edge of his bed.

“Yep,” I said confidently. I’d heard the first time could hurt, but mostly I was excited. He put a condom on as I lay down, buzzing with anticipation. He pushed into me…and I screamed at the pain, which was unlike anything I’d ever felt before. I ran to the bathroom and cried. I didn’t know if this was normal, but it felt excruciating. You never forget your first time—especially if it happens before you know you have vaginismus, a physical condition that makes penetrative sex incredibly painful or, in extreme cases, impossible.

Gina McKeon writes at the ABC, “Life on the inside: how solitary confinement affects mental health“:

Inmates held in solitary confinement experience a range of mental health problems including anxiety, panic, insomnia, paranoia, aggression and depression.

Don Grant, a forensic psychiatrist formerly with the Queensland Community Forensic Mental Health Service, says these psychological effects are the result of: social isolation, which can lead to further withdrawal; boredom and sensory deprivation, which cause brain activity to slow; and a lack of control with no personal autonomy, which may lead to a loss of self-reliance and dysfunction in social situations when an inmate is released.

Eliel Cruz writes at Everyday Feminism, “13 Lies We Have to Stop Telling About Bisexuals“:

Unfortunately, the binary way of thinking that informs the reasoning of many who remain unconvinced by the reality of bisexuality ultimately oppresses everyone through its perpetuation of unflinching heteronormative or homonormative standards.

Being intimate with someone of the same sex doesn’t mean you’re gay, just like being intimate with someone of the opposite sex doesn’t mean you’re straight — it just means you fall somewhere in the beautiful, fluid spectrum of sexuality.

Here we are in the supposedly enlightened year of 2014 – and yet, biphobia persists. In no particular order, here are a few of the most tiresome lies society really needs to stop telling about the bisexual community.

Natalie Tencic at ABC writes, “Papua New Guinea’s gay and transgender community finds safety in Hanuabada village“:

Gay men walking the streets of Port Moresby are often targeted by local men, particularly those who hail from PNG’s highland provinces, and have been raped, beaten and even murdered.

But in Hanuabada, things are different.

Documentary filmmaker and photographer Vlad Sokhin noticed this when he stumbled on the village during his travels.

“[It’s] probably the only place in Port Moresby where they feel safe and many of them, they were born in different places so they moved to Hanuabada village because they are accepted by the local community there,” Vlad said.

Alyssa Bereznak writes at Yahoo! Tech, “Microsoft CEO Says Women Shouldn’t Ask for Raises, Will Instead Magically Receive Them via ‘Karma’ (UPDATE)“:

It’s not really about asking for a raise, but knowing and having faith that the system will give you the right raise,” he told Klawe (who, presumably, was screaming inside). He went on to further imply that there was an incalculable je ne sais quoi about a woman who never asks for what she truly wants.

“That might be one of the initial ‘super powers’ that, quite frankly, women (who) don’t ask for a raise have,” he said. “It’s good karma. It will come back.”

UPDATE 8:24 p.m.: Nadella followed up his remarks on Twitter with a staff-wide email that was also posted on Microsoft’s press website. “I answered that question completely wrong,” he wrote. “Without a doubt I wholeheartedly support programs at Microsoft and in the industry that bring more women into technology and close the pay gap. I believe men and women should get equal pay for equal work.” He added, “If you think you deserve a raise, you should just ask.”

Nadella concluded that he’d “certainly learned a valuable lesson.”

John Scalzi writes, “A Note on New York Comic Con’s Anti-Harassment Policy“:

First, you literally cannot miss it — it’s on several human-sized signs right at the entrances to Javits Center (the other side of these signs say “Cosplay is not consent.” Second, the examples are clear and obvious and the policy is not constrained to only the examples — but enough’s there that you get the idea that NYCC is serious about this stuff. Third, it’s clear from the sign that NYCC also has a commitment to implementation and execution of the policy, with a harassment reporting button baked right into its phone app. This is, pretty much, how an anti-harassment policy should be implemented.

And as a result, did the floor of the Javits Center become a politically correct dystopia upon which the blood of innocent The True (and Therefore Male) Geeks was spilled by legions of Social Justice Warriors, who hooted their feminist victory to the rafters? Well, no. The floor of the Javits Center looked pretty much like the floor of any really large media convention — people wandering about, looking at stuff, wearing and/or admiring costumes and generally having a bunch of geeky fun. Which is to say that as far as I could see the policy didn’t stop anyone from enjoying themselves; it simply gave them assurance that they could enjoy themselves, or get the problem dealt with if someone went out of their way to wreck their fun.

Yassmin Abdel-Magied writes at Junkee, “Junk Explained: Here’s Everything Jacqui Lambie Doesn’t Know About Sharia Law“:

The word “sharia”, taken literally, is Arabic for “path” or road to a watering hole or place of salvation. The five universal principles that underlie Sharia are ‘protection of life’, ‘mind’, ‘religion’, ‘property’ and ‘offspring'; rulings in Sharia law are based around the protection and promotion of these five areas and, logically, decisions that see their degradation are fundamentally unIslamic.

In practical terms, traditional Sharia is quite unlike any “legal system” as we understand the term in the modern West — a bunch of acts and legislation sitting in a library — but more a constantly changing and evolving process to try and ensure society lived intelligently and ethically. It was not written down in a legislative state-based form like today’s law, giving it the freedom to be able to be constantly revised and improved upon. Sharia was kind of like Java; you need it for everything, but it was always being updated.

At the Quinnspiracy, “What To Expect When You’re Expecting (the internet to ruin your life)“:

Don’t give yourself a hard time for feeling a certain way. It’s a messed up position you’ve been put in and there’s no “right” way to feel. You’re not failing if it bothers you, you’re not failing if you’re angry, you are not failing for not being “tough enough”. A lot of emotions come with these situations, and you’re totally allowed.

Grayson Perry at New Stateman writes, “The rise and fall of Default Man“:

They dominate the upper echelons of our society, imposing, unconsciously or otherwise, their values and preferences on the rest of the population. With their colourful textile phalluses hanging round their necks, they make up an overwhelming majority in government, in boardrooms and also in the media.

They are, of course, white, middle-class, heterosexual men, usually middle-aged. And every component of that description has historically played a part in making this tribe a group that punches far, far above its weight. I have struggled to find a name for this identity that will trip off the tongue, or that doesn’t clutter the page with unpronounceable acronyms such as WMCMAHM. “The White Blob” was a strong contender but in the end I opted to call him Default Man. I like the word “default”, for not only does it mean “the result of not making an active choice”, but two of its synonyms are “failure to pay” and “evasion”, which seems incredibly appropriate, considering the group I wish to talk about.

A list of the Nobel Prizes awarded to women

Kalev Leetaru writes at Foreign Policy, “Why Big Data Missed the Early Warning Signs of Ebola“:

Part of the problem is that the majority of media in Guinea is not published in English, while most monitoring systems today emphasize English-language material. The GDELT Project attempts to monitor and translate a cross-section of the world’s news media each day, yet it is not capable of translating 100 percent of global news coverage. It turns out that GDELT actually monitored the initial discussion of Dr. Keita’s press conference on March 13 and detected a surge in domestic coverage beginning on March 14, the day HealthMap flagged the first media mention (which was, it should be noted, in French). The problem is that all of this media coverage was in French — and was not among the French material that GDELT was able to translate those days.

To give an idea of the importance of monitoring across languages, through a grant from Google Translate for Research, GDELT has been feeding a portion of the Portuguese edition of Google News each day through Google Translate for the past year. It turns out that upwards of 70 percent of the events recorded in Portuguese-language news do not appear in English-language news anywhere else in the world. Further, a large portion of these events relate to situations outside of Portugal and Brazil, including former colonial states in Africa, as the map below shows. Increasing our ability to process all of this material would yield tremendous gains in monitoring local media of the sort that provided the first indicators of the Ebola outbreak.

Shawn Burns writes, “How editors and journalists can produce better and fairer reporting on people with disability“:

Dr Taleporos, and other advocacy journalists working in the disability media space, are driven by a desire to redress what they view as problematic news agendas and public discourse. In their view, despite the considerable consumer power of PWD and long-established media guidelines on disability, mainstream news media remains inclined to follow the well-trodden path of stereotypical representation of people with disability and disability issues.

A Taxonomy of Mansplainers

Debunking the Men’s Rights Movement

Laurie Penny writes at New Statesman, “Social Justice Warriors and the New Culture War“:

If I sound angry here, it’s because I am. I’m angy because I’ve had to listen to these things being said to and about me and many other women creators I admire for too many years now to be polite about it. My anger, however, is different from the incoherent rage sloshing around 4chan, Reddit, MRA forums and other nests of recreational misogyny right now, because the people perpetrating these attacks on women, the people who are so unspeakably angry that women dare, they dare with their stupid ladyheads and evil ladyparts, they dare to come into their special boy spaces and actually demand a voice, they don’t understand why not everyone can see how right they are, how noble, how absolutely justified they are in their cause. They believe that they are justified because freedom of speech—except not freedom of speech for women and queers and people of colour, because those people don’t really speak, they just whine, shriek, scream, like animals, because really that’s all they are, animals.

They think it’s a game.

I’m talking about the whole thing—not just hounding individual women, hacking individual celebrities’ nude pics, trying to trash the reputations of women in the public eye according to outdated double-standards with less and less relevance to our real lives. I’m talking about gender itself, sex and sexuality itself, as a game you can play and win by ‘beating’ the other ‘side’ into submission. A game where the other ‘side’ isn’t really human at all. Shoot to kill. Destroy the brain. Move on.

Devon Maloney writes at The Cut, “The Most Feminist Moments in Sci-fi History“:

But sci-fi history actually has featured ahead-of-its-time, female-identifying authors and creators who have challenged conventional notions of race, gender, and sexuality head-on for centuries. Their contributions are so essential (some are by far the most out-there in the canon) that without them, the genre could not possibly have grown into the blockbuster behemoth it is today. Like many sci-fi creators, this radical group’s explorations weren’t limited to faroff planets; they dove into the sticky, difficult, often ugly realities of their own worlds, many of which are still with us today. They tackled misogyny, homophobia, racism, and the dangers of conventional gender roles — concepts often foreign to the world they inhabited. While their efforts were not always celebrated in the mainstream, they opened the possibility of a better future and pushed the conversation forward.

An extremely nerdy caveat: Many female voices have been excluded from the sci-fi canon based on the argument that the works they create aren’t “really” science fiction, but fantasy (in Party Down, Martin Starr’s Roman is fixated on this — the distinction between “hard” sci-fi and fantasy). While most of this “categorization” is simply a sexist dodge, we do believe in categories. For our purposes, let’s define science fiction here as the depiction of fictional worlds in which science (including space travel), technology, and/or pseudoscience feature prominently and necessarily in the story’s telling. Therefore, A Handmaid’s Tale, though probably one of this writer’s favorite books of all time, is not science fiction (Atwood herself has described it as speculative/dystopian fiction, a genre having more to do with social critique than adventure), while superhero comics — when they feature superpowers — could be considered such.

Understanding Issues Facing Bisexual Americans (pdf)

Elleanor Chin writes at bitch media, “Instead of Banning Yoga Pants, Schools Should Crack Down on Harassment“:

What exactly are adults assuming about “distraction”? Are they talking about boys being sexually aroused? Boys having romantic feelings? Looking at girls? Boys aren’t just passive sacks of hormones, magnetically thrown off course by female parts or pheromones. Young men and boys are responsible for their own arousal, attraction and attention span. Controlling girls’ dress assumes that boys are more frequently or severely distracted just by being around girls than any other source of distraction and that the only way to fix it is to control the girls.

How do you tell if a boy is “distracted by” a girls attire? Is it because he’s catcalling her?  Talking about her? Here is where it gets tricky, because schools have a general mission and right to maintain discipline and control student attire to the extent it disrupts the educational environment. But no coverage of this issue I’ve read has discussed how the boys’ distraction actually manifests, and how disruptive it is. But in her letter to the Billings Gazette, Ashley Crtalic makes the connection to sexual harassment, which is certainly a tangible disruption. Crtalic points out that when she was harassed, she was wearing jeans and a t-shirt, not the outfits that got her punished for dress code violations.

Gwendolyn Henry writes at Collected Works, “Reasons why Bi People of Colour often do not participate in spaces created for them“:

Thanks for raising this question regarding Bisexual People of Color and hearing our voices on various forms of media. My take is:

1) Writing our story is not a priority, survival is. [Many]BiPOC are already struggling with physical and mental health conditions so just breathing and staying alive is top on the list.

2) Many BiPOC are closeted in the Lesbian and Gay community. Writing or posting videos using the words [word]”Bisexual” would require them to go through a lot of emotional obstacles and many of [us]them don’t want to and/or don’t have the support to do so.

2a) I found BiPOC writing under the terms “Queer” but that still doesn’t clearly state how many genders they find romantic/sexually attractive. [Queer can apply to people who have multi gender attractions/non-monosexuals (bi, pan, fluid) and monosexuals (lesbian/gay). This umbrella term can often make bisexuals and their unique experiences and needs less visible.]

Erick Brethenoux writing at A Smarter Planet Blog, “The Importance of Tracking Big Data Emotions“:

There are concerns, however. A fine line exists between being perceived as understanding or invasive. But analyzing emotions and getting close to people should not just be about selling more products. It should be about evoking and understanding emotions that help break solitude. This will create opportunities to share empathy and compassion.

It could even enable people to heal faster.

When my daughter was three-years old, she had to have tubes placed in her ears to help with chronic ear infections. What was interesting though was not how she healed, but how she helped others get better. Her surgeon explained that they scheduled operations on Tuesdays and Thursdays, the same days as the most difficult adult procedures. The adults would then recover in a large and common recovery room alongside the children. Why? Because empirical data proves that adults recover faster when exposed to small children who are also recovering.

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Gamer Gaters are cowards


So yesterday I baited some Gamer Gaters because I have a death wish, or was bored, or something, and two individuals responded… and I engaged them briefly, and they went away.  Nothing particularly thrilling, or scary, or anything about this – but something interesting.  Both the accounts were relatively new, around 500 tweets each compared to my 27,500+ tweets.  It reminded me of this graph:

It also reminded me of the friend of mine who was targeted by them recently for daring to post an open letter to his students regarding Gamer Gate, for the suggestion that supporting women in gaming was a good thing, and that harassing women was creepy behaviour (detail here).  And despite the Gater’s stated aim that they weren’t about having people fired, several of them still wrote to the principal of the school he works for.

Of course, they do all of this anonymously.

Posting to 8chan about Gamer Gate means you end up calling yourself, or being called, The Leader of GamerGate.  No one posts under their name, no one is brave enough to actually own the shit they’re posting, they’re all happy to post it anonymously, hiding behind pseudonyms.

Those who are decried as “Social Justice Warriors” (SJWs) – though I’m actually a Social Justice Ranger who is going to take my next level in Cleric – generally post under their own names:  John Scalzi, Brianna Wu, Chris Kluwe, Anita Sarkesian, Zoe Quinn, Wil Wheaton, Joss Whedon, Felicia Day, Leigh Alexander, Dan Golding, Brendan Keogh etc.  There are plenty others who have posted blog posts, written news articles, and tweeted under long-held accounts if not their actual names.

The other thing that is currently annoying me about Gamer Gaters is their claim that they are against “corruption” in gaming journalism.  Despite rarely being able to actually demonstrate any actual corruption, and most of them not being able to point to the specific instance of corruption that made them join this movement, they’re not starting their own corruption free journalism (whatever that would mean).  Instead of creating the change they want, they’re tearing down the existing structures they’re pissy about.  It would seem that most of them actually fail to understand what review journalism is, and instead want a return to the glorious day (if it ever actually existed) where game reviews were more about how realistic breast bounce physics are and how pretty are those guns, versus why are we spending so much time animating breasts and shooting people, surely there are more things to games than that.

If Gamer Gate went off and crowd funded their own games journalism site, and spent time deciding amongst themselves who were the most eloquent so they could write for the site, or whatever, then this whole thing would be over.  Those who care about diversity in games could write about it where they can, and those who don’t would also have a site to go and write in.

But no, Gamer Gate has to tear down the existing infrastructure because it doesn’t meet their expectations, despite a whole lot of other people being REALLY FUCKING HAPPY WITH IT THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

I have been playing games since at least 1985.  I have seen the games, I have played the games.  I have been a real gamer since before most Gaters were born – I remember passwords for games, Commodore 64 loading screens, playing in 4 colour CGA, copying floppies from friends so I could play the newest games, playing with and without joysticks and gamer pads (not the ones that are available today) and sitting around the computer with my sisters while we puzzled out what to do next in whatever game we were all playing.  I am a grandmother of gamers.  This movement by sad people who want a return to a simpler time, have never even lived in that simpler time.  You can’t turn back time, you can’t return to the glory days, which weren’t that good, of the 80s when games were games, and women were sex objects.  This is the world you inhabit, and you’d better start building something positive and worthwhile, or all you’ll do is look back and regret.

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#endGamerGate2014 Linkspam


I’ve been paying attention to Gamer Gate, because as a woman who plays games and who likes to see diverse representation of characters and stories, they’re a group that does not have my interest at heart, and are likely to actively target me.  Fortunately I’m not famous, and in Australia, which means I have several degrees of protection, not afforded to other prominent women in the gaming industry.

So instead of putting this in my general linkspam, I’ll put it all here so that those of you who aren’t interested can skip it.

You know you’ve made it big when the main stream media picks up on what you’ve been doing – but making it big isn’t always a positive thing.  When the mainstream media are looking at you like something they wished they hadn’t stepped in, perhaps continuing the bad fight is not optimal for your movement.

Anyway, onto the posts!

Jay Hathaway writes at Gawker, “What Is Gamergate, and Why? An Explainer for Non-Geeks“:

What is #Gamergate?

“#GamerGate” is an online movement ostensibly concerned with ethics in game journalism and with protecting the “gamer” identity.

“Ostensibly”?

Even regarded generously, Gamergate isn’t much more than a tone-deaf rabble of angry obsessives with a misguided understanding of journalistic ethics. But there are a lot of reasons not to regard the movement generously.

Jessica Valenti at The Guardian writes, “Gamergate is loud, dangerous and a last grasp at cultural dominance by angry white men“:

The recent uproar – said to be over ethics in journalism but focused mostly on targeting outspoken women who aren’t journalists at all – is just the last, desperate gasp of misogynists facing an unwelcoming future. But this particular bitter end, while long overdue, is loud, angry and extremely dangerous.

Female game developers Brianna Wu and Zoe Quinn have fled their homes in fear after a terrifying barrage of rape and death threats. Feminist media critic Anita Sarkeesian was forced to cancel a talk last week at Utah State University after the school received an email promising a “Montreal Massacre-style” mass shooting if the “craven little whore” was allowed to speak. And despite assurances from Gamergate supporters that they have no problem with women, their de facto leaders are being outed as violent misogynists.

Charlie Brooker at The Guardian writes, “Gamergate: the internet is the toughest game in town – if you’re playing as a woman“:

I haven’t always been the kind of man who plays videogames. I used to be the kind of boy who played videogames. We’re inseparable, games and I. If you cut me, I’d bleed pixels. Or blood. Probably blood, come to think of it.

Games get a bad press compared with, say, opera – even though they’re obviously better, because no opera has ever compelled an audience member to collect a giant mushroom and jump across some clouds. Nobody writes articles in which opera-lovers are mocked as adult babies who never grew out of make-believe and sing-song; obsessive misfits who flock to weird “opening nights” wearing elaborate “tuxedo” cosplay outfits.

On no account go to the opera yourself: you’ll probably run into a mafia boss. According to at least one film I think I saw once, mafia bosses love opera, because there’s loads of death and killing in it. Yet politicians don’t table motions solemnly condemning opera’s dangerous level of violence.

There seems to be a small yet vocal core of maniacs bafflingly resistant to the notion that women should have any say in the games industry at all. Even recent statistics indicating that female players now outnumber men can’t sway them, thanks to a lazy assumption that most of those women are playing Candy Crush or other, equally non-taxing “casual games” apparently un worthy of being called “games” at all. I don’t think that’s true, and even if it were, I wouldn’t blame women for voluntarily choosing to play something soothing and non-threatening in their free time, since they spend so much of the rest of their time being forced to play a terrifying survival horror MMORPG colloquially known as “The Internet”. Women are the hardest hardcore gamers there are, by miles.

Jon Stone at The Guardian writes, “Gamergate’s vicious right-wing swell means there can be no neutral stance“:

One thing they really do have in common is a desire for positive press coverage. When I wrote a blog post last week examining the permutations of zealotry within Gamergate and the way the movement misunderstands and perverts the language of reason, it was dismissed as one of a number of “biased” articles that only told one side of the story.

But even leaving aside the fact that Gamergate’s “argument” is an irreconcilable mess of trembly fingered accusations, vendettas and uncertain nods to complex problems, the fact remains that there is only one “side” to be discussed, and that is Gamergate itself. As much as it would like to nominate as its opponent a power-axis of leftist games critics, mainstream journalists, developers, activists and academics, this axis doesn’t exist.

Nor do Gamergate’s critics mass beneath any banner, or rally together to punish individual targets the way Gamergate does. The misdemeanours alluded to are many and various because this “other side” is simply people from all walks of life, gamers and non-gamers alike, reacting (or not reacting, as the case may be) to Gamergate.

Chris Kluwe writes at Medium, “Why #Gamergaters Piss Me The F*** Off“:

There’s this herd of people, mainly angsty teenage caucasian men (based on an informal survey of 99 percent of the people who feel the need to defend this nonsense to me on Twitter), who feel that somehow, their identity as “gamers” is being taken away. Like they’re all little Anne Franks, hiding in their basements from the PC Nazis and Social Justice Warrior brigades, desperately protecting the last shreds of “core gaming” in their unironically horrible Liveblog journals filled with patently obvious white privilege and poorly disguised misogyny. “First they came for our Halo 2’s, and I said nothing.”

Gaming is part of who I am, I can promise you that.

Thus, when I see an article titled “Gamers are dead,” referring to the death of the popular trope of a pasty young man in a dimly lit room, it fills me with joy, because it means WE FUCKING WON. So many people are playing games now that they are popular culture. They are not going away. All sorts of cool things, that I like, are now things that a whole bunch of other people like! There’s enough space now for people to make games that are strange and disturbing and maybe highlight a different perspective of the world, because gaming is no longer a niche activity, it’s something that everybody does. There is room for art in video games. That’s awesome!

Brendan Keogh, an Australian game critic wrote at Ungaming:

I was having a conversation with a fairly polite gamergater. They asked me a bunch of questions and I asked if I could reply with a tumblr post instead of a hundred tweets, so this is that post. There was an ongoing conversation before this point, which you should be able to find via the links easily enough.

I find this idea that journos don’t respect the gaming audience or their readership really interesting, and it comes up again and again. But, really, what I see haters saying as ‘not respecting’ their readership is, to me, just journos not pandering to their readership. You don’t have to look far to see sporting outlets condemning abusive fans at sporting events or film outlets condemning the spreading of nude pics by fans of celebrity actors. These writes, along with the games journos who condemn the more toxic elements of gaming’s culture, don’t do this because they don’t respect videogame players. They do it because they do respect them enough not to pander to them. Go back just a decade or so, and all games journalism is nothing but a celebration of how great videogames are. This weird insider “we’re one of you” kind of tone permeates old issues of gaming mags where those non-gamers just don’t you, but we get you, we are you. We’ll tell you what you want to hear about how great and politically incorrect this or that game is.

A storify of tweets about the Escapists coverage of Gamer Gate, “Game Devs on Gamergate“.

Hayley Tsukayama at The Washington Post wrote, “The game industry’s top trade group just spoke out against Gamergate“:

That prompted the the nation’s top trade group for video game companies to speak out Wednesday. “Threats of violence and harassment are wrong,” said a spokesman for the Entertainment Software Association in a statement. “They have to stop. There is no place in the video game community—or our society—for personal attacks and threats.”

It’s a simple statement. But it indicates just how seriously the gaming industry is working to break free of the worst stereotypes of its community. Game culture is, no doubt, changing. The ESA now boasts that women comprise nearly 50 percent of its audience. The push toward mobile gaming, in particular, has expanded the industry’s audience at a faster rate than ever before. The Gamergate controversy has drawn attention to the worst kind of video game player — misogynistic, violent and reactionary.

In other words, exactly the kind of player that the industry no longer wishes to be the face of the industry.

Arthur Chu at The Daily Beast writes, “Of Gamers, Gates, and Disco Demolition: The Roots of Reactionary Rage“:

The biggest 1970s music bonfire was not done by a church, and the records they destroyed weren’t metal records. And they didn’t use kerosene and a match, they used explosives. And rather than singing hymns and being quietly self-righteous, the event erupted into an orgy of violent rage.

I’m talking, of course, about the ill-fated promotion the Chicago White Sox ran on July 12, 1979, known as “Disco Demolition Night.” (Most notably written about by Dr. Gillian Frank in this scholarly retrospective.)

What exactly made so many people—let’s not be coy here, so many young white men—hate disco so much? An aversion to a steady dance backbeat? A dislike of orchestral instrumentation? What?

Did it have nothing to do with the fact that disco icons were frequently black women like Gloria Gaynor and Diana Ross, who sang anthems of empowerment like “I Will Survive” and “I’m Coming Out” and seemed like the polar opposite of the aggressively macho white frontmen rock fans idolized?

Just look at the rhetoric used by angry 1970s rock fans to bash disco. It goes beyond just finding the music unpleasant, it invokes the rhetoric of legitimacy. Disco artists aren’t “real” musicians. They don’t play their instruments live, like rock guitar gods; it’s too “produced,” it’s too “studio,” it’s fake.

Moreover, guys who listen to disco are fake. They dress in expensive leisure suits and hang out at fancy clubs. They don’t get down in the dirt and tear it up like us hard-core, genuine, masculine fans. They’re not real men, and women like them for not being real men, which is unacceptable. The face of the New American Man under the disco reign of terror is John Travolta from Saturday Night Fever. You don’t want your sons growing up like that, do you?

I’m afraid of masculinity, and privilege, of the male sense of “honor” they combine to create, and the incredible reservoir of madness that “honor” can unleash when it’s threatened. Of how incredibly petty the offense can be and how insanely disproportionate the retaliation can be.

Brianna Wu writes at XO Jane, “It Happened To Me”:

They threatened the wrong woman this time. I am the Godzilla of bitches. I have a backbone of pure adamantium, and I’m sick of seeing them abuse my friends.

The misogynists and the bullies and the sadist trolls of patriarchal gaming culture threatened to murder me and rape my corpse, and I did not back down. They tried to target my company’s financial assets and I did not back down. They tried to impersonate me on Twitter in an attempt to professionally discredit me and I did not back down.

The BBC called me “Defiant,” in a caption. I plan to frame and put it on my wall.

My name is Brianna Wu. Ordinarily, I develop videogames with female characters that aren’t girlfriends, bimbos and sidekicks. I am a software engineer, a popular public speaker and an expert in the Unreal engine.

Today, I’m being targeted by a delusional mob called “Gamergate.”

Devin Faraci at Badass Digest writes, “Why GamerGate Already Lost“:

When this news broke something happened: everyone on Twitter blamed GamerGate, the harassment campaign organized under a hashtag and run off the kiddie-porn disseminating website 4chan for being too extreme. While the threatening letter never mentioned GamerGate it was pretty clear that this lunatic was on their wavelength. Despite protestations that GamerGate is about ethics in journalism (we’ll get to why that’s hardcore bullshit), it’s been mostly a force for hounding women, especially Sarkeesian and indie developer Zoe Quinn, with developer Brianna Wu becoming the latest women run out of her home by specific violent threats from GamerGaters.

The Sarkeesian threat name-dropped Marc Lépine, who was the Elliott Rodger of Montreal, murdering 14 women in a self-described battle against feminism – the same enemy that GamerGate says it fights. This is the world of GamerGate, sick, pathetic men who are so threatened by women that they must either murder them or terrorize them into silence.

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Republishing: Let’s talk about Islamaphobia


I first wrote this post back in February 2013, when Geert Wilders was in Australia, being bigoted and racist.  Given Tony Abbott’s recent comments about instituting a law to ban hate preachers (we already have such laws, but never mind), and a random Guardian commenter’s hope that this wouldn’t block Geert from coming out to Australia, I thought I’d republish this post so we can remember what Geert actually believes in, and the outcome of beliefs such as his.

——————————-

Geert Wilders, the bigoted and racist Dutch politician, is in Australia peddling Islamaphobia.  It is safe to say that I pretty much disagree with everything he has to say.  In the marketplace of ideas his viewpoints attract people who already hold the same repugnant views as himself, those that haven’t actually thought deeply about what is being said, and those who are afraid of difference.  I hope in this post to reach the last two groups, the first is welded off from hearing anything I say.

Wilders would have you believe that Europe is at risk of being overrun by Muslims and that he alone stands against the Muslim tide, which would have everyone required to submit to Sharia law, cats and dogs living together, or something.  The article in today’s Age is a bit vague about what all these threats are:

Mr Wilders – impeccably dressed and coiffured, a polished media performer who never raised his voice despite some hostile questioning – said Islam was a totalitarian system that was incompatible with freedom. Individual Muslims might integrate into Western countries, but Islam never could.

“I am here to talk about the Islamisation of Europe,” he said. “If you think what happened in Europe will not happen in Australia, you are totally wrong.”

Shorter Wilders, “The Muslims are coming, things will go badly, run for the hills/ban them from coming in the first place!”

I don’t know “what happened in Europe”, I’m guessing that the French Government banning of Face Covering is clearly the fist move by the Muslims to take Europe, closely followed by banning of Mosque Minarets. Europe must be reeling from such attacks by the Muslim community… oh no wait, I got that back to front – the bigoted and racist Governments in Europe are making the Muslim communities in their respective countries feel unwelcome and unappreciated.

I might also mention from Wikipedia:

Major lethal attacks on civilians in Europe credited to Islamist terrorism include the 1985 El Descanso bombing in Madrid, the 1995 Paris Metro bombings, 11 March 2004 bombings of commuter trains in Madrid, where 191 people were killed, and the 7 July 2005 London bombings, also of public transport, which killed 52 commuters. According to EU Terrorism Report, however, there were almost 500 acts of terrorism across the European Union in 2006, but only one, the foiled suitcase bomb plot in Germany, was related to Islamist terror.[105] In 2009, a Europol report also showed that more than 99% of terrorist attacks in Europe over the last three years were, in fact, carried out by non-Muslims.[106][107][108] In terms of arrests, out of a total of 1,009 arrested terror suspects in 2008, 187 of them were arrested in relation to Islamist terrorism. The report also showed that the majority of Islamist terror suspects were not first generation immigrants, but were rather children of immigrants who no longer identified with the culture of their parents and at the same time felt excluded from Western society, “which still perceives them as foreigners,” thus they became “more attracted to the idea of becoming ‘citizens’ of the virtual worldwide Islamic community, removed from territory and national culture.” [emphasis added]

In reality, the Islamisation of Europe is all in Wilders’s, and others who think like him, head.  Governments in Europe are nowhere near embracing Islam and instead are making life difficult for their respective Muslim communities.  It is this difficulty and entrenched racism that drives some to extremism.  Less people like Wilders would probably mean less extremists, if I am reading the bolded text above correctly.

For those who believe the Muslim Demographics urban myth, Snopes.com have a lovely debunking of that for you here.

Let’s now consider a vital point that Wilders and his ilk hope you don’t think about.  They talk constantly about the Muslim threat, the Islamisation of Europe, that Muslims are effectively plotting together to enact Sharia in a town near you.  Now just think about this for a moment.  Of all the people you know, how many of them are 100% committed to a religious or political idealology?  Of all those people, what is the percentage of them who will act on their religious or political idealology to attempt to change the status quo?  Of that percentage, how many of them are going to be ultimately successful?  It’ll be a number fairly close to zero.  Now, how many Muslims do you think are actively engaged in Islamicising the nearest town?

Now this may surprise some people but Muslims are not a monolith, they do not have an agenda to take over Europe, or Australia, or even the world.  Muslims don’t even have a central authority unlike Catholicism and the Anglican Church.  The idea of an overarching Muslim agenda smacks very much of a rewording of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. A hoax which ultimately resulted in the Holocaust.

The average person has average dreams and ambitions, to be happy, to have somewhere to live, to have people to love and be loved, to enjoy their day, to have enough food to feel full, to be healthy, and to be financially comfortable.  To suggest that anyone of any religion does not have these dreams and ambitions is suggest that they are not the same as you, that they are a completely different type of person and that they have alien desires to your own.

I know that new things are different, and that people asking for recognition of the articles of their faith may seem like they are attempting to force their beliefs on you, but just as religious days such as Christmas and Easter are public holidays in Australia, and that Coles promotes “Fish for Lent” (which pushes Christianity and Catholicism respectively on everyone else), surely recognising that other religions have their own special days and special dietary requirements won’t hurt.  In fact, if it weren’t for the fantastic people who have braved the institutional racism of Australia when they came here, Australia would be a far poorer country in relation to art, fashion, food, innovation, business, design and other fields of endeavour.

Eating Halal food will not make you Muslim no more than eating Kosher food would make you Jewish.  Halal and Kosher are terms that relate to religious requirements for food, they are not a gateway drug into religious experience.  Eating fish during Lent does not make one a Catholic, avoiding eating beef does not make one a Hindu, and being a vegetarian does not make one a Jain or Buddhist.  With the exception of the Mormons baptising people after they’ve died, you cannot be inducted into a religion by stealth.

No religion is superior to another, they are all flawed and I’m not a fan, but I respect people’s individual rights to believe and participate in any faith they choose.

For those people who argue Al Qaeda, I would like to remind you that they are a fringe group, and are definitely a terrorist group, a group who can only control through terror.  I would also point out that other religions have also had their own terrorist groups with Christian Militias (with Israeli help) in Lebanon massacring Muslims in Sabra and Shatila; the Catholics and Protestants in Northern Island; the Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda; the Klu Klux Klan in the US, and Sikh Extremism. There is no way that terrorism is an activity only undertaken by Muslim extremists.

In summary:

  • People who follow a religion are people
  • No religion is superior than another
  • Terrorism is a result of extremism and elements of fundamentalism which can occur in any religious group
  • Recognising different religion’s special days and dietary requirements is not conversion by stealth
  • You cannot be stealth inducted into a religion

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Republising: How much do you trust?


I wrote this post in August 2011, and again with the rise of bigotry towards those who are, or who are identified as, Muslim, particularly Muslim women, I thought I’d publish it again.  This one is particularly for the Jackie Lambies and Cory Bernardies who believe that women can’t be trusted to choose to select which aspects of their faith they want to engage with.

……………………………

Feminism is the radical idea that women are people.  People that can reason, think, educate themselves, and make their own decisions.  For some men at the end of the 1800s and early 1900s, this was a radical notion, and one that took a great deal of getting used to.  Society is still structured around the antiquated notion that the default human is male (I’ll blog more on that another time) and so there is still a deep societal distrust of women who do their own thing, who act differently to others, who stand up for themselves, and they get called names, and pressured to be like everyone else, because a group of women being the same is somehow more comforting.

Ok, I might have made most of that up, or it might be a long chain of thoughts from all the feminist blog posts I’ve read over the past ages, or it might be that I’ve been watching the world from the sidelines from time to time.  This post, which is white-Western feminism based, is about what we (and I’m thinking about both society and Western feminists) trust women to do and what we don’t.

This post is partly inspired by Chally’s recent post on religious faith and social justice and on thoughts I was having on the flight over to Malaysia before I fell asleep on the plane.  I’m not sure what inspired them exactly, but let me lay them out for you.

If we can trust women to make up their mind on which political candidate they are going to vote for, if we can trust women to decide on which medical procedures and treatment they wish to undertake, if we can trust women to decide on who they do and do not want to sleep with (slightly contentious in rape culture I know), and if we can trust women to make their own moral and ethical decisions, why do so many of us have trouble trusting women deciding to be religious (with all that their specific faith entails)?

Yes there will always be cases where women are pressured into things, that happens with every example I’ve listed above, and no one suggests that women shouldn’t vote because they’re being pressured into voting for a certain candidate, or that they shouldn’t be able to make their own medical decisions because they’re being pressured into it by someone.

Maybe I’m completely misunderstanding the debate about women who follow the strictures of their faith.  But from what I’ve heard about politicians and some people who identify as feminists, women are clearly being oppressed by the strictures of their faith – the faith that they have most likely chosen to have.

I am an atheist, I am against organised (generally read as Christian) religion attempting to dictate to me and anyone else who isn’t a member of that faith how to behave.  I am for the separation of religion and politics.  But most importantly I am for the right for any individual to practise the faith that they believe in if it is doing no harm to anyone else.

As a former Catholic I remember many of the times I questioned whether what I believed in was real, from when I was a child to the day I stopped believing.  Perhaps we should give religious women credit that they have also spent time questioning their faith and the strictures of that faith, and that they have made a conscious choice to continue believing and to continue practising their faith.  These women do not need to be rescued from an “oppressive religion”, a religion that they probably do not believe to be oppressive – as the nuances and the ways that it is practised will be as individual as each person in that religion.

 

Further reading:

A great discussion on the comment thread of Stargazer’s post on The Hand Mirror, “yet another burqa post”

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Republishing: How to radicalise your population


I wrote this post in March 2011, and with the current political climate in Australia, I think it  needs to be republished.  The situation described below is not much different in Australia currently with many of our Conservative politicians calling for bans of Sharia law, bans on burqas (which aren’t worn in Australia, and they usually  mean the niqab), and now increased threats and assaults against those who appear to be Muslim.  This typically means Muslim women are being assaulted, usually by bigoted white people.

……………………….

I’ve read with… well not exactly dismay because it is part of the whole USA falling into a chasm… more resignation, the stories recently of the US Congress setting up a body to probe US Muslims, of US taxes going towards law enforcement bodies to “educate” them about Islam and instead failing to do so, and about Tennessee wanting to ban Sharia.

[ok I now have a fever and am sick, so if this post doesn’t make all the sense that I intend, apologies]

The stories above are just the Government actions taken against US Muslims.  They do not detail in any way the daily prejudice, discrimination and bigotry faced by Muslims in the US.  Islamaphobia is in full swing.

From where I’m sitting (sick and fuzzy headed), the Islamaphobia in the US (yes, I know it exists in Australia too, and is equally problematic) can lead to some very bad outcomes.  The estimated number of Muslims in the US is around 2.3% of the US population (Australia’s Muslim population is 1.71% of the overall population).  There just are not enough Muslims in the US (or Australia) to rise up and protest against the oppression they’re suffering (unlike the peoples in many Middle Eastern nations currently – which has nothing to do with Islam and all to do with oppression, lack of opportunities, etc).  The research on stereotype threat also suggests that Muslims may feel that they have to conform to the predominant sterotype held of them, which doesn’t do anyone any favours.

If we look back at history, we can see many many examples of groups that have been vilified and terrible results (clearly we are very bad at learning from history and are doomed to repeat it).  The news media played a large part in the Rwandan Genocide.

According to recent commentators, the news media played a crucial role in the genocide; local print and radio media fueled the killings while the international media either ignored or seriously misconstrued events on the ground.[14] The print media in Rwanda is believed to have started hate speech against Tutsis, which was later continued by radio stations. According to commentators, anti-Tutsi hate speech “…became so systemic as to seem the norm.”

From late October 1993, the RTLM repeatedly broadcast themes developed by the extremist written press, underlining the inherent differences between Hutu and Tutsi, the foreign origin of Tutsi, the disproportionate share of Tutsi wealth and power, and the horrors of past Tutsi rule. The RTLM also repeatedly stressed the need to be alert to Tutsi plots and possible attacks. It warned Hutu to prepare to “defend” themselves against the Tutsi. (Source: Wikipedia – link above)

Sound familiar?

We can also look at the internment of Japanese people (definitions on who was Japanese or not was interestingly broad) in the US during World War 2.

Many concerns over the loyalty of ethnic Japanese seemed to stem from racial prejudice rather than evidence of actual malfeasance. Major Karl Bendetsen and Lieutenant General John L. DeWitt, head of the Western Command, each questioned Japanese American loyalty. DeWitt, who administered the internment program, repeatedly told newspapers that “A Jap’s a Jap” and testified to Congress,

I don’t want any of them [persons of Japanese ancestry] here. They are a dangerous element. There is no way to determine their loyalty… It makes no difference whether he is an American citizen, he is still a Japanese. American citizenship does not necessarily determine loyalty… But we must worry about the Japanese all the time until he is wiped off the map.

Internment was popular among many white farmers who resented the Japanese-American farmers. “White American farmers admitted that their self-interest required removal of the Japanese.” These individuals saw internment as a convenient means of uprooting their Japanese American competitors. Austin E. Anson, managing secretary of the Salinas Vegetable Grower-Shipper Association, told the Saturday Evening Post in 1942:

“We’re charged with wanting to get rid of the Japs for selfish reasons. We do. It’s a question of whether the white man lives on the Pacific Coast or the brown men. They came into this valley to work, and they stayed to take over… If all the Japs were removed tomorrow, we’d never miss them in two weeks, because the white farmers can take over and produce everything the Jap grows. And we do not want them back when the war ends, either.”

The Roberts Commission Report, prepared at President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s request, has been cited as an example of the fear and prejudice informing the thinking behind the internment program. The Report sought to link Japanese Americans with espionage activity, and to associate them with the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Columnist Henry McLemore reflected growing public sentiment fueled by this report:

“I am for the immediate removal of every Japanese on the West Coast to a point deep in the interior. I don’t mean a nice part of the interior either. Herd ‘em up, pack ‘em off and give ‘em the inside room in the badlands… Personally, I hate the Japanese. And that goes for all of them.”

Other California newspapers also embraced this view. According to a Los Angeles Times editorial,

“A viper is nonetheless a viper wherever the egg is hatched… So, a Japanese American born of Japanese parents, nurtured upon Japanese traditions, living in a transplanted Japanese atmosphere… notwithstanding his nominal brand of accidental citizenship almost inevitably and with the rarest exceptions grows up to be a Japanese, and not an American… Thus, while it might cause injustice to a few to treat them all as potential enemies, I cannot escape the conclusion… that such treatment… should be accorded to each and all of them while we are at war with their race.” (Source: Wikipedia article linked above)

Again, the same sort of language is used to vilify a group, which then results in investigation and restriction of that group’s ability to participate in society.  I worry that the Muslims in the West (particularly in the US and Australia) are going to be increasingly targeted and that is going to end up being really bad.  I don’t really have a solution, just fears that the situation is going to get worse, but I hope I can stand up against Islamaphobia whenever I encounter it.

Propagating this fear runs the risk of radicalising the general population against those who follow Islam, and that crimes against Muslims may not be reported or may not be fully investigated by the authorities.  Discrimination and prejudice will continue to rise, people may feel obliged to recant their faith in order to face less bigotry, to hide their culture and act white, to remove their sense of self to find some safety.  This sucks.

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All the linkspam forever more (September 2014)


I’ve been busy, and consequently I haven’t been keeping up to date with all my linkspam – though I have been collecting it in copious quantities.  I’m going to group it by type because that appears to make sense to me right now.  Enjoy

Feminism

The Bloggess wrote, “Women Who are Ambivalent about Women Against Women Against Feminism“:

But then I remembered that I’m too lazy to make a tumblr and that this whole thing was a bit ridiculous. Here’s the thing:  Do you think men and women should have equal rights politically, socially and economically?  Then you’re probably a feminist.  There are a million tiny aspects of this to break off into and I get it.  It’s complicated.  There’s not just one type of feminist, just as there’s not just one type of Christian or Muslim, or man or woman.  Hell, there’s not even just one type of shark.  Some are non-threatening and friendly.  Some get sucked up into tornadoes and viciously chew off people’s faces until that guy from 90210 stops the weather with bombs.  (Spoiler alert.)    The point is that sharks, much like feminists, are awesome, and beneficial, and the world would be a worse place without them.  Plus, they’re incredibly entertaining and even if you sometimes think they’re dicks for eating cute seals you still yell “HOLYSHITLOOKATTHAT!” when Shark Week comes on.  I think this is a bad analogy.  Lemme try again.

Lea Grover at Scary Mommy writes, “Darling, We Don’t Play With Our Vulvas At The Table“:

I don’t want them to grow up ashamed of their bodies or confused about what they do. I don’t tell them about cabbage patches or storks, I make an effort, always, to be honest about human reproduction. Every aspect of it.

I’ve had conversations with other moms about having “the talk.” I don’t think my kids and I will have that particular talk, because they already know. And we talk about it often- kids are obsessive creatures. We read Where Did I Come From? and What Makes A Baby which together cover every aspect of the subject. We can talk about IVF and c-sections, because both of those are part of the story of their births, and we can talk about the fact that yes, mommy and daddy still have sex regardless of our plans for conception. And when they’re older, we’ll start talking about contraception.

Because lying to your kids about sex helps nobody. Telling them that sex is “only between mommies and daddies” is a lie that leads to confused, hormone charged teenagers. Telling them that sex is “only something that happens when two people love each other very much” is a lie that causes hormone charged teenagers to confuse “love” with “lust,” or “obsession.” It leads to leaps of logic like, “If I have sex with them, we must be in love.” Or worse- “If I love them, I have to have sex with them.” And how many teenage tragedies are based on that misconception?

Kathleen at Films for Action writes, “10 Female Revolutionaries That You Probably Didn’t Learn About In History class“:

We all know male revolutionaries like Che Guevara, but history often tends to gloss over the contributions of female revolutionaries that have sacrificed their time, efforts, and lives to work towards burgeoning systems and ideologies. Despite misconceptions, there are tons of women that have participated in revolutions throughout history, with many of them playing crucial roles. They may come from different points on the political spectrum, with some armed with weapons and some armed with nothing but a pen, but all fought hard for something that they believed in.

Let’s take a look at 10 of these female revolutionaries from all over the world that you probably won’t ever see plastered across a college student’s T-shirt.

 

Sexism

Lara Hogan writes, “On unsolicited criticism“:

But by the end of the day after my keynote, I was crushed. I had received a ton of praise and positive feedback, too, but I couldn’t hear it. My brain could only retain were these random, surprising, caught-off-guard moments that required me to nod and smile and try to make sense of what these people were saying. After dinner, I nearly broke down; I went to my manager, Seth, and told him what was going on. [1]

Seth turned to a nearby presenter (and fellow coworker) and asked, “Hey Jonathan, did you receive any constructive criticism or feedback after your talk?”

Jonathan said, “What? No. I mean, people said it was good. But not really feedback.” We continued our poll. The male presenters we asked received no unsolicited feedback (other than “that was great!”). Some women I spoke with, however, had received feedback on their tone as well.

I asked Seth, “Wait, are you saying this is gendered?”

Ariel Schwartz writes at Co.EXIST, “How Street Maps Can Be Sexist“:

Straightforward as they may seem, street maps aren’t objective. Shifting borders mean that maps are often political statements. They also can be sexist.

Eddie Pickle, the former CEO of geospatial company Boundless, first started paying close attention to sexism in the mapping community in 2010, while the company was recruiting new hires. Gender disparities in the tech field weren’t just a culture problem, he realized–there was also a problem with the data.

OpenStreetMap is a massive free map of the world, editable by anyone. Companies like Flickr, Foursquare, and Craigslist all use it in their products. But unlike Google Maps, which rigorously chronicles every address, gas station, and shop on the ground, OpenStreetMap’s perspective on the world is skewed by its contributors.

At The Business Spectator, “Gender pay gap worst in 20 years“:

On average, men in full-time work are being paid nearly $15,000 more a year than women, data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows.

For part-time workers, the gender pay gap would be wider because a higher proportion of women in casual jobs.

CommSec economist Savanth Sebastian says the pay gap is linked to large salaries paid in the mining and construction industries, which are traditionally dominated by men.

Junot Diaz is quoted at Hello, Tailor:

If you’re a boy writer, it’s a simple rule: you’ve gotta get used to the fact that you suck at writing women and that the worst women writer can write a better man than the best male writer can write a good woman. And it’s just the minimum. Because the thing about the sort of heteronormative masculine privilege, whether it’s in Santo Domingo, or the United States, is you grow up your entire life being told that women aren’t human beings, and that women have no independent subjectivity. And because you grow up with this, it’s this huge surprise when you go to college and realize that, “Oh, women aren’t people who does my shit and fucks me.”

Alex Brown at TOR.COM wrote, “Guardians of the Galaxy, We Need to Talk“:

It’s hard to be a comics fan if you’re not a straight white man, given that most of the representative iterations of diversity end up as one dimensional tokens, expendable sidekicks, or fridge-able sex objects. DC’s done a pretty terrible job in their comics and movies at creating female, PoC, and/or LGBTQIA characters that aren’t cardboard plot devices used to inspire the male protagonist into heroic action. To be fair, DC gets good marks on television with Arrow (and presumably The Flash), but since the shows won’t crossover into the movies, it’s more or less cancelled out in the grand scheme of things.

Not that Marvel is much better. Comics-wise, Marvel is slowly but surely getting more diverse, but the MCU is a more depressing story. While the MCU has been good at not actively excluding us non straight/white/male fans, they haven’t been very good at including us in the content we’re fanning over. Black Widow, Pepper Potts, Agent Hill, Peggy and Sharon Carter, Rhodey, and Falcon are awesome, but they don’t really get to do anything outside of the white male superhero protagonists. We saw Steve Rogers hang out at a coffee shop while off the clock, but what does Natasha do when she’s not SHIELD-ing? Why only three straight black dudes in the movies (with no romantic interests so as to keep them “non-threatening”)? Why not an Asian, Native American, Middle Eastern, or Hispanic character with a major role? Or a trans person? I like John C. Reilly and Peter Serafinowicz a ton, but why not hire people of color for those roles instead? Why couldn’t Corpsman Dey go home to his husband instead of his wife? Where in the MCU are the rest of us?

Kieran Snyder wrote at Fortune, “The abrasiveness trap: High-achieving men and women are described differently in reviews“:

Not long ago I was talking to an engineering manager who was preparing performance reviews for his team. He had two people he wanted to promote that year, but he was worried that his peers were only going to endorse one of them. “Jessica is really talented,” he said. “But I wish she’d be less abrasive. She comes on too strong.” Her male counterpart? “Steve is an easy case,” he went on. “Smart and great to work with. He needs to learn to be a little more patient, but who doesn’t?”

I don’t know whether Jessica got her promotion, but the exchange got me wondering how often this perception of female abrasiveness undermines women’s careers in technology.

Gamer Gate and sexism in gaming

Jonathan McIntosh wrote at Polygon, “Playing with privilege: the invisible benefits of gaming while male“:

One particularly astounding theme I’ve noticed running through online discussions surrounding these incidents has been a consistent denial that there is any real problem with the way women are treated in gaming. Despite the abundance of evidence, I’ve seen many of my fellow male gamers, in comment thread after comment thread, dismiss the issue as “no big deal” and insist that everyone is essentially treated the same.

The fact that a great number of women have been speaking out about how they experience prejudice, alienation or worse on a fairly regular basis seems to hold little weight.

David Auerbach at Slate wrote, “Letter to a Young Male Gamer“:

I realize that you don’t have a problem with women per se. Think of Kim Swift, the awesome game designer who was project lead for the legendary Portal, or think of Halo engine programmer Corrinne Yu. You realize, I know, that your life would be better with more women like them in gaming. Swift herself has written about how rough women have it in the industry, so keep in mind that targeting Quinn will drive away the next Kim Swift. That’s not a trade you want to make. Publicity and cronyism are ephemeral. Good games are forever.

Posts that I found interesting (otherwise unclassified)

Jenna at Cold Antler Farm wrote, “An Open Letter To Angry Vegetarians“:

I recently received your note, the one that accused me of being a murderer. I understand why you are angry and I applaud your compassion. I understand because I was a vegetarian for nearly a decade, the same breed as yourself actually. Meaning; I chose the diet because of a love for animals, passion for conservation, and concern for our diminishing global resources. Avoiding meat seemed to be a kinder, gentler, and more ecological choice. I supported PETA. I had ads in Vegan magazines for my design website. I am no longer a vegetarian and do raise animals on my small farm for the table, but we have more in common than you may realize.

It would be foolish for me to try and change your mind about eating animals, and I have no interest in doing so. The vegetarian diet is a fine diet. We live in a time of great abundance and luxury, and that means choices! Never before in the history of the human animal have so many options for feeding ourselves been presented like they are now. If you want to eat a gluten-free, dairyless, low cholestoral, and mid-range protein diet based on whey extracted from antibiotic free Jersey Cows-  you can. Your great grandparents could not. There was no almond milk at the Piggly Wiggly and ration cards kinda ruined that conga line. But now there is so much food and your diet is as much a personal a choice as your religion and sexual activity, possibly even more personal. So understand I am not writing you this open letter because you don’t eat meat. I’m writing you this letter because you called me a murderer.

Conscious Capitalism: Can Empathy Change the World?:

Conscious Capitalism, Inc. started as an organization in August, 2006, and focuses principally on enterprise and the recognition that every business has a purpose beyond the firm.

“Rather than seeing business as a tube [money in, money out],” says Klein, “we look at business as an ecosystem of interdependent interrelated stakeholders. For stakeholder management, the business has to produce profits over time, but that doesn’t mean that’s its sole purpose. For the business to be sustainable, flourish, and be resilient, it needs to focus on the whole rather than its parts.”

Klein points out that corporations have often purposefully served the societies in which they flourish. Companies like Avon and Johnson & Johnson  articulated their primary purpose in their original charters, which was not about making money, but serving their stakeholders. The robber barons also recognized that making money and giving portions of it back was an important part of business (Carnegie built libraries, Rockefeller created museums).

Paul Ford at Medium wrote, “How to Be Polite“:

Here’s a polite person’s trick, one that has never failed me. I will share it with you because I like and respect you, and it is clear to me that you’ll know how to apply it wisely: When you are at a party and are thrust into conversation with someone, see how long you can hold off before talking about what they do for a living. And when that painful lull arrives, be the master of it. I have come to revel in that agonizing first pause, because I know that I can push a conversation through. Just ask the other person what they do, and right after they tell you, say: “Wow. That sounds hard.”

Pope Alexander writes at Jezebel, “What Steven Moffat Doesn’t Understand About Grief, And Why It’s Killing Doctor Who“:

Then Moffat, of course, took over the show as show runner. And once again, people just seem to keep… not dying. Part of the problem is that Moffat’s a big fan of the Giant Reset Button — so much so that he literally wrote in a Giant Reset Button into the episode Journey to the Center of the TARDIS. One step above the “It was all a dream” plot, the Giant Reset Button absolves the characters and the writers of any repercussions and they can carry on as they were, even though we, the audience, saw a “major event” that is evidently no longer relevant. You can have your fun and adventure, but you need not learn or grow or change from it.

Race and Racism

For Harriet writes, “7 Black Women Science Fiction Writers Everyone Should Know“:

Though Black women’s literature spans every genre imaginable, the visibility of Black women in speculative fiction is often low. These women create work that not only speaks to their experiences but imagines new worlds and possibilities. Their stories take us on journeys. And while though the work may offer temporary moments of escape, when we return we’re better able to interpret our own place in the world.  If you’re interested in taking the trip, you’ll want to check out these Black women science fiction writers.

Beth Neate writes at ABC Open, “Peggy Patrick AM: A Queen Among Men“:

Whenever Peggy Patrick’s name is spoken, be it by Indigenous or non-Indigenous Australians, she receives a special reverence. Peggy Patrick is a woman of singular magnitude.

A prodigious singer, dancer, artist and storyteller, Peggy has performed throughout Australia. Frances Kofod, a linguist who has worked in the East Kimberley since 1971, is collaborating with Peggy on a bilingual autobiography. She believes that Peggy’s repertoire of Kimberley song cycles is unparalleled and that her cultural knowledge is akin to an encyclopedia.

Richard Parkin writes at SBS, “Enough fear mongering, let’s give Lakemba a fair go“:

While great credit should go to Mr Blair for having the courage and bravery to survive a full twenty-four hours in this anti-Anglo hot-bed, would it be nit-picking to suggest that a lot of what he wrote was wrong?

Let’s just presume that Mr Blair, the person subbing his column, and his editor all had justifiable reasons for shying away from the actual evidence that didn’t fit the story they were peddling – like the fact that one in two people in Lakemba aren’t Muslims; that one in four are Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Buddhists, Hindus or Anglicans; and that three in four people are proficient in English.

Why let facts – gleaned from made-up sources like the Australian Bureau of Statistics – get in the way, if they don’t suit your narrative of fear?

After Senator Lambie’s attacks on Sharia, the ABC posted, “What is sharia law?“:

Jamila Hussain, an Islamic law expert from Sydney’s University of Technology, said sharia was “a way of life for most Muslims”.

“It’s first of all religious duties – things like prayer and fasting, and also, importantly, paying money to charity and supporting the poor and looking after the weak and the vulnerable,” she said.

“It’s also everyday transactions. It guides Muslims in their way of life, teaches them to dress modestly, treat other people decently, be ethical in their business dealings.

“It also includes all those things we would normally call law – things like contract law, commercial law, family law, finance and banking law.

“And of course there is the criminal law element, though in most countries Islamic criminal law is not in practice. It is in places like Saudi Arabia and Pakistan where it’s very conservative, but not in most countries.”

“That the sharia obliges Muslims to comply with the laws of their country of residence is premised on the Koranic dicta demanding fulfilling “obligations” and “covenants,” as in the imperatives “You who believe, fulfil your obligations” and “Honour your pledges: you will be questioned about your pledges,” he said.

“Muslim jurists, therefore, understood that the ultimate authority in any country belongs to the government.”

Randa Morris writes, “Scary White People? White People Responsible For Five Out Of Every Six White Murders“:

Five out of six white people murdered in the United States are killed by a white person. That’s according to the most recent FBI crime data report, which provides demographic information of the race of victims and offenders, for all known murders that occurred in the US, in 2012. There were 3,128 white murder victims that year. Out of all of those murder victims, less than 500 were killed by minorities. The other 2,628 were killed by other white people.

We often hear about black on black killings, and we know that the rate of black people who are killed by other black people in the US is far too high. What we don’t often hear about is the shocking number of white people who are killed by other white people. But when you look at the statistics in light of the most recent US population data, you find that the rate of white on white homicide is entirely out of line with the racial makeup of the country as a whole.

Disability

Cara Liebowitz at That Crazy Crippled Chick writes, “The Trouble With Ableist Metaphors“:

But I was struck recently when, in the course of emails back and forth about inspiration porn and ableism, a colleague used the metaphor “I was blind and now I see.”  I’m sure he had the best of intentions and didn’t even stop to consider the ableist nature of the metaphor – but that’s sort of the point.  Ableism is so incredibly deeply ingrained in our culture that people use ableist language – yes, even people who should know better, I fully admit that I probably invoke these metaphors far more often that I should – without a second thought every day.  I’m not sure that happens with any other form of oppression (feel free to correct me if I’m wrong).

But wait!  I should stop being so literal, shouldn’t I?  After all, it’s just an expression!  No one actually means them!  Which is all well and good, but as my dear friend K says often, intent is not magic.  But the problem comes when we take both the literal and metaphorical definitions and step back to critically analyze what we mean when we say such things.

LGBTI Issues

Lisa L. Spangenberg wrote a very badly titled post at Boing Boing, “Misleading on Marriage: how gay marriage opponents twist history to suit their agenda“:

As someone in a same-sex relationship, I followed arguments for and against the overturn of DOMA with some interest. As a medievalist, my attention was particularly caught by arguments against DOMA on Twitter and elsewhere that asserted that Christianity and history unilaterally agreed that marriage means one woman and one man and coitus. This simply isn’t historically accurate even within the context of Christianity and European history.

Let me take you on a millennia-long walk down the aisle. The modern notion of marriage is connected with the historical, traditional model that those opposed to marriage equality like to cite, but it’s not nearly as clean a connection as parties on either side of the same-sex marriage divide would like to claim. It is in fact, varied, changeable, and chaotic.

Stavvers writes, “I am cis“:

But wait! Those who deliberately refuse to understand the word “cis” cry. Surely I cannot be cis if I do these things, because I’m subverting gender roles.

Nope.

Ashley C Ford writes at Buzzfeed, “30 Bisexual Women Discuss Their Long-Term Relationships With Men“:

3. “It’s like coming out all over again.”

“I have avoided telling my queer friends that I am in a relationship with a man. It’s like coming out all over again and I’ve experienced resistance against it. It feels like you are mistrusted, that people think you have actively chosen to take the route of most privilege without considering the ways in which you are now held at the margins by the community you most identify with. I am new to this relationship and still trying to navigate how to move through both worlds. Sometimes it means passing depending on the context because it’s hard to play the role of educator and/or be on the defense all the time. Even with friends, I’ve faced microaggressions in the form of jokes: ‘How does straightness feel?’”

M.A.Melby writes at Trans Advocate, “Quit attacking your allies!“:

I have seen various version of this phrase. “Quit attacking your allies!” – many, many times.  I’ve only been involved heavily in trans activism for about two years.  How and why I’ve become as invested as I am is a long story; but at the end of the day, I am a woman who was assigned female at birth.  I am cis.  So, it’s odd that this statement has been directed at me, but it often has.  It’s also something that I will never say.

The reason that I am pledging never to say, “Quit attacking your allies!” is because it’s not a sincere defense or tactical criticism.  It’s a threat.  The implication is simply: If you criticize me, if you are angry with me, if you say anything that makes me uncomfortable, I will withdraw my support from your cause.  In addition, the majority of the time, this phrase is not used by anyone actually involved in activism.  There is no support to withdraw.  Instead, there is power and privilege that can be put into play.  I’ve come to understand that “Quit attacking your allies!” is often code for: Respect my social status as being above you. Be quiet or there will be consequences.

Who are these “allies” that must not be attacked? Who must be placated? Who are these people being misunderstood or subject to undo scrutiny?

Prejudice at Pride

At TransGriot, “Black Trans History: Lucy Hicks Anderson“:

Lucy Hicks Anderson was born in 1886 in Waddy as Tobias Lawson.   When Lawson entered school she insisted on wearing dresses to school and began calling herself Lucy.  Since the transgender definition hadn’t been coined at that time to diagnose what was going on in her life, her mother took her to a physician who advised her to raise young Lucy as a girl.

Lucy left school at age fifteen to begin doing domestic work and left Kentucky in her twenties to move west.   She settled in Pecos, TX and began working at a hotel for a decade until she married Clarence Hicks in 1920 in Silver City, NM and moved west with him to Oxnard, California.  She divorced him in 1929.

The News Minute reports, “Padmini Prakash, India’s first transgender TV news anchor urges parents to be more receptive of their transgender children“:

She is India’s first Transgender TV anchor – Meet Padmini Prakash, a 34 year-old transgender based in Coimbatore who has broken the stigma faced by this section of society and has become the face of Lotus TV news channel in Coimbatore.

To parents in general she had a strong message: “Parents, when they come to know that their children are transgenders they should accept them for who they are. They should not isolate them. Parents should accept them and society should accept them”

Pete Smith at The Guardian writes, “Jaiyah Saelua: if I experience transphobia I just tackle harder“:

The nation’s size is reflected in their football record. Seventeen years, 30 defeats and 229 goals conceded – including that infamous world record defeat against Australia in 2001 – were American Samoa’s bare statistics since making their international debut. However, Saelua worked her way into the starting side after a lengthy apprenticeship, and helped her team achieve a World Cup win over Tonga.

The result, and Saelua’s story, has received global recognition thanks to Next Goal Wins, a film that has been released globally over the past few months, having screened at the recent Sydney Film Festival to positive reviews and large audiences.

Travelling extensively to promote the film, Saelua now finds herself somewhat unwittingly cast as a role-model and spokesperson for transgender sportspeople. It is, however, a role she is happy to fill.

Dameyon Bonson writes at Star Observer, “Reconciliation and decolonisation in suicide prevention“:

QUITE tragically, as you are reading these first few words there is a high probability somebody will attempt to end their life by suicide. There is even a higher probability that that somebody is part of the LGBTI community, particularly if they are at the point of self-realisation and disclosure. If that person is an Indigenous Australian, the probability amplifies yet again.

How do I know this? Because that’s what the evidence suggests. LGBTI people are said to have the highest rates of self-harm and suicide of any population in Australia. Same-sex attracted Australians are said to exhibit up to 14-times-higher rates of suicide attempts than their heterosexual peers. Yet, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, there were 996 suicides reported across Australia between 2001 and 2010 among Indigenous peoples. We are told that 1.6 per cent of all Australians die by suicide but for Indigenous peoples, this rate is more than 4.2 per cent, or one in every 24.

As mentioned, the evidence only suggests this because we are coalescing the data from two different groups and hypothesising the math. In other words we aren’t really sure.

 Repro Justice

John H Richardson writes at Esquire, “The Abortion Ministry of Dr. Willie Parker“:

After medical school, he bought a big house and a nice car and overstuffed his refrigerator the way people from poverty do, but those satisfactions soon seemed empty. He dated but never quite settled down. Inspired by Gandhi’s idea that the Gospel should appear to a hungry man in the form of bread, he went to work in a food pantry. But gradually, the steady stream of women with reproductive issues in his practice focused his mind. He thought about his mother and sisters and the grandmother who died in childbirth and began to read widely in the literature of civil rights and feminism. Eventually he came across the concept of “reproductive justice,” developed by black feminists who argued that the best way to raise women out of poverty is to give them control of their reproductive decisions. Finally, he had his “come to Jesus” moment and the bell rang. This would be his civil-rights struggle. He would serve women in their darkest moment of need. “The protesters say they’re opposed to abortion because they’re Christian,” Parker says. “It’s hard for them to accept that I do abortions because I’m a Christian.” He gave up obstetrics to become a full-time abortionist on the day, five years ago, that George Tiller was murdered in church.

Violence (trigger warning for all posts in this section – likely to contain stories of violence, transphobia, biphobia, homophobia, sexism, harassment, etc)

Stavvers writes, “Is stalking feminist praxis these days?“:

But ultimately, the fault here isn’t mine. There’s things I can do to tighten security, and I’ll do those things. The real problem here is TERfs. This is not feminism, it’s being a fucking creep. These people are a danger. This is why I have a hair trigger on my block button for them and anyone who pals around with them: it’s proved it to me. You never know when one could be passing on information.

I write this post as a reminder: a reminder that this isn’t some sort of intellectual parlour game. The safety of women is at stake here. I’m fine and I’m alive, but what I want to come from this is an increased level of awareness. I want this post to be read. I want people to know that the TERfs literally stalk women. And I know that me being cis means more people are likely to care.

Isn’t that just the most fucked-up thing?

Janelle Asselin at bitchmedia writes, “How Big of a Problem is Harassment at Comic Conventions? Very Big.“:

As 130,000 people head to San Diego Comic-Con (SDCC) this week, it’s important to recognize that while harassment can occur in comic shops and elsewhere, the bulk of complaints regarding gender harassment in comics happen at conventions. Yet SDCC has failed to put an emphasis on their harassment policy by not publicly posting signs about harassment or having a clear and well-publicized reporting process for incidents.

As a comics editor, writer, and fan myself, I got interested in how often people at conventions experience harassment. So earlier this year I conducted a survey on sexual harassment in comics, receiving 3,600 responses from people that varied from fans to professionals. The survey was distributed and conducted online, with people sharing it via Twitter, Facebook, and especially Tumblr and self-reporting all information. Of the people taking the survey, 55 percent of respondents were female, 39 percent were male, and six percent were non-binary (see the raw survey data here).

Helen Davidson at The Guardian writes, “Violence against women a national emergency, say Our Watch campaigners“:

A comprehensive national initiative is focusing on distorted ideas of gender equality as part of plans to tackle the “national emergency” of violence against women and children.

Our Watch was established by the commonwealth and Victorian governments last year, and on Friday revealed its strategy to achieve a complete rejection of domestic and family violence within 20 years.

Margaret C. Hardy at The Coversation writes, “We need to talk about the sexual abuse of scientists“:

The life sciences have come under fire recently with a study published in PLOS ONE that investigated the level of sexual harassment and sexual assault of trainees in academic fieldwork environments.

The study found 71% of women and 41% of men respondents experienced sexual harassment, while 26% of women and 6% of men reported experiencing sexual assault. The research team also found that within the hierarchy of academic field sites surveyed, the majority of incidents were perpetrated by peers and supervisors.

 

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My feels, and why I don’t really talk about them


I’m pretty sure I have feelings, after all I get happy, sad, angry, forlorn, depressed, stressed, etc, but I don’t often talk about them – to anyone, with the occasional exception of my husband (and only one of said husbands, the other gets the high level stuff that everyone else who asks how I’m feeling tends to get).

There are “good” reasons for this, as in my childhood and adolescence primed me to be someone who struggles to communicate and understand how I feel about things at any given moment.  Childhood and adolescence are also known as our formative years, for very good reasons.  We learn how to deal with the world around us, what things are appropriate to do or to avoid, how we should communicate, what we should communicate about, how to react to things, etc.  Clearly major events during our childhood and adolescence impact on our formation as people, both positively and negatively, and those impacts last throughout our adult lives.

Now that I’ve given some background, let’s go back to me.  When I was three and a bit, my mother had a stroke and I assumed adult responsibilities in my family – which mostly involved being responsible for my sisters and providing emotional support to my dad.  Three year olds don’t actually have a very good grasp on what it means to be an adult.  I wasn’t sure how to emotionally respond to this, so I didn’t.  To an extent, this was my normal.  I didn’t know anything else, it was just something I lived, and I’m not alone in this, children who end up translating for their parents when they family migrates or flees to another country, or children who have caring responsibilities for their parents or siblings have similar issues I imagine.  Their experiences are likely to involve more trauma than mine, but my experiences have impacted me as an adult.

Combined with that is the general Australian reticence to talk about emotional things, a situation captured in “she’ll be right mate”, and my fractured relationship with my mother in the last few years before I moved out of home.  My parents, the adults I spent the most time with as a child, were themselves damaged by their own childhood. My mother’s biggest lesson from her childhood was that children lie (which is epically fucked up), and dad’s (though he hasn’t said this to me) was to be very careful in what he shared lest it be used against him.

This did impact my ability to share with my parents, my father often seemed awkward (and he still is) when feelings were discussed – apart from the high level stuff such as “I got angry when …”.  My mother didn’t believe me, and certainly didn’t believe me when I told her about serious things like being sexually assaulted or harassed at school.  She never said this until much later in my life when she apologised to me for the impact this had on me, I felt that I couldn’t tell her things, so I didn’t.  I envied my friends who had different relationships with their parents, where they could talk to them about things.

Before I moved out of home, my mother had taken to “talking with me” which was more her talking at me while I did my best to remain calm and not get upset.  Our relationship immediately before I moved out of home was incredibly toxic (it has since been repaired), and I felt that even showing the slightest bit of emotion (usually crying because the words she was using I felt were to wound), was to let her “win” whatever battle we were currently fighting.

All of this combined with bullying at school when we moved to Bendigo, because I was different to everyone else, means that the safest route is to not show much emotion, to not talk about it, and to sort stuff out myself.  Sorting stuff out myself is slow, slightly faster if my husband is available, but as he’s suffers from depression himself, that’s not always an option.  I know I avoid talking about me by talking about all the interesting things I’ve learnt, read, or seen.  It’s easier to be interesting than it is to talk about how I feel about things.

There isn’t much of a way forward in this that I can see.  The defensive mechanisms I developed as a child are incredibly hard to undo as an adult.  I know it is possible to relearn behaviours, but there needs to be motivation to do so and right now I don’t see a need.  I’m doing mostly ok right now, apart from my work being incredibly overwhelming, and feeling that I’m juggling too many things (which given the number of things I’m juggling is not surprising).  Right now, I’m doing as well as pretty much anyone else in my situation would be.

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5

Disproportionate retribution


UPDATE: Below I linked to a blogger I called George (he posted anonymously) and quoted a piece he wrote.  The blog has since been deleted.  The cache of that blog post is here.

I believe that people who consider themselves to be good people believe that racism, homophobia (sadly to a lesser extent biphobia and transphobia generally), and sexism are bad things.  I wouldn’t say that people who think that racism, homophobia, biphobia, transphobia and sexism are ok are entirely bad people, they’re probably very nice to some people, but they’re certainly not the type of people that I want to hang around with.  Anyone who thinks that their feelings about certain things trump the actual rights of others to exist and participate fully in society is wrong.

Why do I write this, this which would seem to be bleedingly obvious?  Because there are people who seem to think that threatening people who think that racism, sexism, homophobia, biphobia or transphobia is bad, is entirely justified.  Some people think that threats of sexual harm, death, and threats against family members are ok, because just because someone holds a different belief system to them.

Anita Sarkeesian recently released the next instalment of her Feminist Frequency, Tropes vs Women in Video Games project.  Some people were so very upset that Sarkeesian was critiquing something that they held very dear, that they made sexualised, violent threats against her, published her address and threatened her parents. (TW for this entire link)  Then several other people claimed that she was making the threats up for attention, while threatening her.  You can’t make this shit up, though apparently some people appear to survive the cognitive dissonance to believe you can.

So at the same time Sarkeesian was publishing the threats she received, Gamer Gate kicked off after allegations that an indy developer of games had slept with a journalist in order to receive more favourable reviews.  The allegation was made by her ex-boyfriend, and involved slut shaming, so those in the broader gaming community who don’t think that sexism is awful, piled on the developer, and then after a redirection onto the broader gaming media/press, suggesting that it was effectively corrupt.  Evidence now exists that suggests the whole Gamer Gate saga was an orchestrated event by certain individuals.

One of the things that annoyed me most about both Gamer Gate and the treatment that Sarkeesian receives for being a critic, beyond the sexism, is those who think there is a middle ground.  Those that argue that those in support of Sarkeesian and/or Zoe Quinn are behaving as badly as those against.  Apparently one side calling the other side names (MRAs, misogynists, sexists) is as bad as the other side making violent sexual and death threats.  I don’t see the equivalence personally.

An anonymous, indie game-dev (I’ll call him George) wrote a piece that suggested that only threats against women are taken seriously, and the men who receive both death threats and/or violent sexual threats are ignored by those who support Sarkeesian, and/or feminism within the computer game industry.  George also thinks that the threats that women receive are solely because arseholes know that the best way to upset a woman is to insult her gender [emphasis in original]:

Sure, you say you hope someone dies of aids, that makes you an asshole. Some people are assholes. That will NEVER change, and assholes will always pick a stick to beat you with that is most effective and most offensive to you. If you’re a woman, that is what the stick will be. If you were gay, that’s what the stick would be. If you had big ears… And so on. Don’t confuse the choice of stick with the reason for wanting to beat you with it in the first place.

Assholes will mock someone’s disability. They will mock someone’s race. Mock someone’s appearance. Mock someone’s voice. Mock and insult anything that it is apparent to them will hurt those they are attacking’s feelings.  Assholes will threaten you with violence, they will threaten you with death. They will threaten you of rape, in the ass if you’re a man and, well, it may vary with a woman. They will wish cancer upon you, or that you die in a fire. They are assholes, and are not representative of ANY group except a group of assholes. Stop drawing a circle around the assholes targeting you with sexist insults or threats and attributing what they say to our entire gender, painting us as rape supporting monsters, please? Can’t you see how that’s a horribly generalised and sexist thing to do? Double standards again. The amount of times I’ve read SJW pieces using ‘men’ as a collective term for a bunch of offensive opinions of the ‘asshole’ group makes me want to weep. ‘Men’ think this, ‘men’ view women as… and so on. If I said ‘women are manipulative liars’ because I’d had the misfortune to be hurt by several female manipulative liars I would rightly be called out as making a sexist generalization. Why is the same not true in reverse? Because the SJW’s dominate the online dialogue, and anyone who feels otherwise is by definition a sexist.

Yes, George went with the “not all men” part, because apparently it is all about him and other people like him.  For those who don’t know, SJW means “Social Justice Warrior” and is meant to be a derogatory term.  Quite frankly it’s one I like.

So instead of getting “assholes” to stop, by shunning them, by banning them from commenting in particular forums, by suggesting that perhaps that grow the fuck up and start being responsible for themselves and their actions, George would rather break down the numbers of male gamers that exist and the approximate realistic percentage of male gamers who are likely to troll and then scream, “SEE NOT ALL MEN”.

This isn’t helpful.

John Bain suggests that there really are two sides of this debate, that name calling isn’t helpful (he’s probably right there), and that there is no such thing as MRAs or SJWs (he’s wrong there).  In this post John tells us how we are to have the debate, that we need to calm down and effectively think about why the other side may be reacting the way they are, and everyone needs to chillax.  Quite frankly, John doesn’t get to dictate to anyone, especially the group under fire, how they react to something, and how they should respond.  Despite John attempting to run the middle ground in this piece, he uses emotive language, such as “weaponize”, which will draw his readers to a certain conclusion.

John also believes that everyone is seeing this as a black or white issue, and that all shades of grey as lost.  I’ll agree that some people are drawing a line in the sand and saying, “everyone on this side of the line is ok, this other side – not so much”, but I also think that is what people have to do to be safe and/or build safe communities.

What about the so-called “other side”? I’ve been placed on the opposite side to these people by representatives of these people and the side they supposedly oppose. I did not elect to be there and I decry being on it. I will not take part in such weak-minded labeling and neither should any of you. Where is the hate coming from? Women who have experienced abuse and those that aim to support them? Absolutely. A marginalized group? Definitely. I can’t speak from this perspective because I have not experienced it, but I will also not deny that this abuse exists. Unfortunately, the response to it has been to perpetuate a cycle of abuse. As I mentioned earlier, it’s so much easier to open fire when you think you can’t miss. The reality is, all you are doing is missing. Both “sides” have been spewing hate and poisoning any attempt to discuss this rationally. It’s almost as if everyone is bullying everyone else and then acting all surprised when they don’t see their point of view. You don’t convince people of your point of view by putting them on the defensive with aggressive, absolute language from the very start. An open mind often lacks defenses and if you feel attacked those defenses will go up and in doing so, your mind will close.

If we are to marginalize anyone, let’s marginalize those who not only refuse to take part in the discussion but actively seek to ruin it. This “war” is a sideshow distracting us from talking about the real issues and make no mistake, that’s exactly what an extremist wants. There are many worthwhile discussions to be had about all the topics I’ve listed and more besides but some people are vehemently against us even having them. I won’t be silenced by people like that and I also will not stop trying to discuss this issue with reasonable people, even if they appear unreasonable because of some 140 character soundbite on Twitter. Some of these people are those I know to be reasonable but have taken an unreasonable action at some point. As someone who has taken many unreasonable actions in my life, especially online, I won’t condemn them for that but I will try and offer a perspective.

I don’t believe that videogames cause players to develop sexist attitudes, just as I believe they don’t cause players to become violent. I also don’t believe that everything portrayed in videogames is ok. Lots of videogames are really bad for a wide variety of reasons, mechanical or otherwise. They’re often dumb, bull-headed and they pander oh boy do they pander. I want better videogames because I think our hobby can soar even higher than it currently does. I think for the most part, everyone involved in this wants that (or they don’t care at all, I don’t honestly believe there is a cadre of people trying to destroy videogames, at least, not that we interact with) but we are all approaching it from different perspectives. It is time to view those perspectives as something of value rather than try and shut them down. Experiment, invent, innovate in every aspect of gaming. Sometimes it won’t work, it might create something that sucks or simply something that people don’t like, but its only by learning from our failures that we create future success. Right now there is nothing creative about this debacle, it is purely destructive.

Overall John makes some good points, but I am sad that he does not clearly state that threats are bad, and suggests that both sides are equivalently bad.  Personally I think that saying someone is a misogynist is less bad than receiving death threats.

Erik Kain at Forbes writes more about the press and their role, as he sees it, in Gamer Gate:

What it boils down to is many people feeling upset that the video game space has been so heavily politicized with a left-leaning, feminist-driven slant. I’ve heard from many readers claiming they have no problem with more women and gay people represented in games; they simply don’t want every game to be critiqued based on these factors. I’ve heard from others who readily admit that they miss the days when games were more male-centric. One reader emailed to say that he has no problem with women, but video games were a nice boys club of sorts, a refuge from women where the boys could play for a while undisturbed.

So we have many left-leaning members of the press writing about issues that matter to them—maybe sometimes doing it to bait readers, but often likely doing it because these are issues they actually care about—and a strong reader backlash because many readers don’t want to be told what’s good or bad about a game’s social politics, they just want to hear about the game itself.

This reminds me of the clip that James played for me the other day:

I don’t think that the gaming press is out to “bait” readers with left-leaning social commentary on games.   I think that the gaming press, and gaming critics are doing their job.  Quoted in Ian Steadman’s New Stateman’s piece is a quote from Pauline Kael:

Let’s start with a quote from the film critic Pauline Kael. In 1972, she reviewed A Clockwork Orange in the New Yorker. Here’s an extract:

There seems to be an assumption that if you’re offended by movie brutality, you are somehow playing into the hands of the people who want censorship. But this would deny those of us who don’t believe in censorship the use of the only counterbalance: the freedom of the press to say that there’s anything conceivably damaging in these films – the freedom to analyse their implications.

If we don’t use this critical freedom, we are implicitly saying that no brutality is too much for us – that only squares and people who believe in censorship are concerned with brutality. Actually, those who believe in censorship are primarily concerned with sex, and they generally worry about violence only when it’s eroticized. This means that practically no one raises the issue of the possible cumulative effects of movie brutality. Yet surely, when night after night atrocities are served up to us as entertainment, it’s worth some anxiety. We become clockwork oranges if we accept all this pop culture without asking what’s in it. How can people go on talking about the dazzling brilliance of movies and not notice that the directors are sucking up to the thugs in the audience?

If you are going to critique a game, then you’re going to critique all of it.  Does it give an easy pass to racism, homophobia, biphobia, transphobia, or sexism?  Does it suggest that genocide is completely acceptable?  Does it think that enforced sterilisation is acceptable?  Are the only heroes/playable characters in the game male and white?  Are the only enemies in the game male and not-white?

These are the discussions that a mature industry should be having, and not something that should be hurting anyone’s feelings. If you don’t want a part of those discussions, then don’t consume the media where they’re happening.  Switching off isn’t hard.  Making threats because you disagree with the views of games journalists or game critics is wrong, and makes those that are making those threats come across as dangerous, and as people who should be shunned from the wider gaming community.

You see, the wider gaming community should be safe for EVERYONE.  It should be a place where anyone, regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation, ability, age, or status should be able to have fun without having to avoid certain games.  AAA companies through to indie developers should be considering how their game will come across for everyone, and ask themselves if they are negatively stereotyping anyone, engaging in lazy media tropes, and/or generally producing a product that only markets itself to a small percentage of gamers.  More diverse games leads to more diverse experiences for everyone, and this is a good thing.  Far too often a white male is the default character, and there is no good reason for that.  It isn’t hard to model a woman (Assassin’s Creed), and it doesn’t take so much extra development time to develop playable characters with different shades of skin – not when you’re making multiple models for the city anyway (Watch Dogs).

So in summary, don’t threaten other people, because that’s a horrible thing to do.  If you disagree with something, move on.  You can rant to your buddies, but don’t threaten someone with harm because they have a different opinion to you.  If you want to find a middle ground between a group that is receiving death threats and threats of harm, and those that are making the threats – don’t do that either.  Also, don’t tell people who are part of a marginalised group, how they should be responding to an issue.  Finally, make gaming spaces safe for everyone.  Stop thinking that computer games are a boy’s club, and that women are interlopers.  We’re now 48% of the gaming population, we’ve been here for a long time, and we’ll be here for the rest of time.

Update: Many people in this debate have pointed to a study which claims that men receive more online threats than women, therefore women are not worse off than me.  This piece rebuts the entire study.

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5

Welcome to the 75th Down Under Feminists’ Carnival


Hello, and welcome to a world full of fantastic feminist writing from the month of July.  Before you rush off to get your drink of choice (a nice cup of tea would be my recommendation) and sit back to enjoy writing by Australian and New Zealand feminists, I want to beg you to host a carnival yourself.  The Down Under Feminists’ Carnival desperately needs new hosts from October 2014 onwards.  Don’t think that it is a monumental job, I and others will provide you with links to lots of great posts, you just need to detail them with as much (or as little) information as you like.  Some hosts just provide the author’s name and the blog title as a clickable link, others categorise them, and some put summaries about what the post is all about.  You put them together as you feel most appropriate to your time and energy.  So now that I’ve encouraged you to host a carnival, please wander over to the Down Under Feminists Carnival website or email chally [dot] zeroatthebone [at] gmail [dot] com and say you want to host, and your availability.

And on with the carnival.

Feminism

Skud writes at Geek Feminism, “Dropping the F bomb“:

It felt good, at first, to be in a group of tech women who had similar experiences to me. Yet, when I started to talk about feminist issues — mentioning sexism in the wider open source or tech community, for instance — I was shut down. I was essentially asked to leave the channel and go somewhere else if I wanted to talk about that stuff. Better yet, it was the project’s male community manager — men were allowed in this channel — who took it upon himself to push me out of that space, and who still continues to this day to shut down feminist discussion in communities that he leads.

Clementine Ford at Daily Life writes, “So you want to be ‘beautiful’ instead of ‘hot’?

But there are few greater mysteries that perplex the female mind than the elusive riddle of beauty. Specifically, who has it and what does it mean? Specificallyer, what makes a woman beautiful instead of just hot? The world’s greatest lady philosopheresses have pondered this for literally thousands of years or maybe even two seconds and been unable to provide a definitive answer.

Until now.

Alex Skud Bailey rewrites Google’s apology regarding their real name policy in, “Meanwhile, in an alternate universe…“:

We apologise unreservedly to those people, who through our actions were marginalised, denied access to services, and whose identities we treated as lesser. We especially apologise to those who were already marginalised, discriminated against, or unsafe, such as queer youth or victims of domestic violence, whose already difficult situations were worsened through our actions. We also apologise specifically to those whose accounts were banned, not only for refusing them access to our services, but for the poor treatment they received from our staff when they sought support.

Eliza Cussen writes at Fix It Dear Henry, “Who holds back the electric car? White Ribbon does.“:

Women don’t need to be told the questions men need to ask themselves about violence. We don’t need to be told how many of us are being killed by our partners or exes. We don’t need to be told because either the reality of it, or the potential of it is part of the female experience.

Both O’Keefe and Pickering wrote their pieces as part of their role as White Ribbon Australia ambassadors. This is an exclusive boy’s club. I can only imagine they have poker nights to which no women are invited. In the lead up to White Ribbon Day in November each year, these men are trotted out, promising to start a dialogue between men about the culture that permits violence against women. This is a good thing.

However…

Eleanor Robertson writes at Comment is Free at the Guardian, “Tackling the gender gap is simple: pay women more money. End of story“:

Here it is: we simply pay women more money. Whether we do this by reducing women’s tax burden, providing them with an income supplement, or allowing women to personally shake down their male colleagues until an appropriate amount of change falls from their pockets, I don’t mind. But it’s clear that sitting around furrowing our brows isn’t working, so it’s time to make some changes.

Alex Skud Bailey provides slide decks and notes on the talks she delivered at Open Source Bridge, including Knitting for Programmers, Feminist Point of View: A Geek Feminist Retrospective and “Advanced” Community Management.

Judy Horacek writes, “This Creative Life No.2 – July 2014“:

I have often said that I became a cartoonist to try and change the world. I mean this as a true statement, but also as a slightly tongue-in-cheek one. Much as I would like cartoons to be all-powerful – to believe that the pen is indeed mightier than the sword, and the missile and the drone – well, just take a look at the world…

What the ‘change-the-world’ statement boils down to is that I became a cartoonist because I care deeply about certain things such as social justice, feminism, the environment. These are the things I like to make cartoons about. Of course I also do silly jokes that are about nothing, but my first love is making cartoons commenting on our society and our world.

Kelly Ellis guest posts at the Daily Blog, “GUEST BLOG: Kelly Ellis – Privilege Lost“:

I learned I was now an alien. I learned that the social contract men had was different from the one for women. I learned that male privilege was not a free ticket to the footie or a free upsize on a Mac Meal; male privilege is simply the freedom from prejudice that everyone else gets for not being a man.

Marianne Elliot guest posts at Justine Musk with, “I don’t care if you like it (guest post by Marianne Elliott)“:

Last year I spent most of five months travelling through the US, Canada and Europe talking about my book, ZEN UNDER FIRE. At almost every book talk I gave, someone would ask me, ‘Weren’t you afraid to be in Afghanistan, such a dangerous country for women?’

My standard answer was that all countries are dangerous for women.

Allison M writes at The Hand Mirror, “Pat Rosier and Who We Remember“:

As Prue writes, Pat’s early life was relatively conventional. Her dad was a railway clerk, and she grew up at a time when no one in a working class family, “let alone a girl”, went to university. She married, had two children and trained as primary teacher, which was her job from 1973 to 1985. Then, something happened. Pat found Simone de Beauvoir, the Women’s Liberation Movement, lesbianism – and reinvented herself.

Pat chronicled at least part of that reinvention in the 1991 collection, Changing Our Lives: Women Working in the Women’s Liberation Movement, 1970-1990 (eds Christine Dann & Maud Cahill, Bridget Williams Books).

Orlando writes at Hoyden About Town, “Friday Hoyden quick hit: Linda Brodsky“:

Dr Linda Brodsky was an American paediatric ear, nose and throat surgeon. In the 90s, having become a tenured professor at SUNY Buffalo, she discovered she was being paid far less than male colleagues, many with less seniority and fewer qualifications. On further investigation she found that the same was true of her pay from her medical employers, and that it applied to other women working in the same institutions. When she attempted to have the disparities addressed she was fired. Dr Brodsky spent years suing her employers, not only on her own behalf, but to help ensure that other women would not be treated the same way. She was aware that the privileges she had put her in the rare position of being able to fight, and thus made it a moral obligation.

I wrote a piece called, “Let’s try with some empathy“:

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

Media and Stories

Clementine Ford at Daily Life writes, “The two most complained about TV ads of 2014“, which I’m mostly sharing for the First Moon Party ad, it’s the best:

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

But then the feminists took over, and everything changed. Now we’re forced to endure grotesque advertisements which mention heathen words like ‘vagina’, ‘tampons’ and ‘hole’. The top two most complained about advertisements of 2014 so far were created for Carefree.

Zhenya at beyond escapism writes, “Always already perfect: beauty and female characters in fantasy books” (Zhenya also has a number of great book reviews at her blog too):

But there’s another feature that’s missing from this list, at least when it comes to the major female characters in fantasy. I’ve written about this before, but today I felt a Need to Vent, and in any case I think this is a topic that deserves a post of its own. It’s time to talk about beauty – or more specifically, the way that beauty is pretty much compulsory for the major female characters in a fantasy novel.

Anna at Flaming Moth writes, “Macbeth, Prophesy and Trauma“:

Lady Macbeth, for example, is less and more than she has been given credit for. When, in lines that fix themselves in the listener’s memory, she tells her husband that she would kill her own child if she had sworn to do so, it has usually been read as a mark of her callousness, forgetting that her point is that this is the most horrifying thing she can think of doing. When she asks for the help of dark powers, rather than demonstrating her fiendishness, she shows her vulnerability by revealing to us that she doesn’t have the necessary resolve to perform evil deeds without them. Immediately after Duncan’s murder she even admits, privately, that she was not capable of bringing herself to do it.

gillpolak writes, “On the suppression and bastardisation of minority voices“:

The writers who tell me that they are entitled to write about any story in the world bug me. These are the writers who claim that the artist has privilege of story regardless of culture and regardless of understanding and regardless of permissions and regardless of power differentials. I’ve been trying to explain to them that writing is never culturally neutral and that there are ethics involved. I’ve said that cultural appropriation is not a good thing and tried to explain why. I’ve said many things. Some writers listen and learn respect. Some writers seem to have a selective deafness, quite possibly arising from their culturally privileged background.

Scarlett Harris at The Scarlett Woman writes, “Leaning In to Grey’s Anatomy” (Spoiler Alert):

Across its ten season run, Grey’s has dealt with parenting, childlessness, abortion, romantic relationships—both heterosexual and otherwise, illness, loss, friendship and career mostly through the eyes of its female protagonist, Meredith Grey, and her colleagues, friends and family: Cristina, Izzie, Lexie, Callie, Arizona, April, Addison, Bailey and so on. This season, though, seemed to really tap into the oft-mentioned feminist issue of “having it all” (meaning kids and career) and what happens when a woman shuns that path.

Sky Croeser writes at Global Comment, “Maleficent: an anarchafeminist fairytale?“:

I’ll start off with the news that will surprise no one. Maleficent is overwhelmingly white: the only notable role for a non-white character is a captain sent out to destroy Maleficent, played by John Macmillan. Beauty is not only glaringly white, but also thin and conventionally attractive (notwithstanding augmented cheekbones). Disney is obviously not brave enough to explore a world that includes people of colour and unconventionally beautiful people as protagonists, even if that world is populated by walking trees and fairies.

And now for the surprise: Maleficent felt like a credible anarchafeminist fairytale (especially if you consider the whiteness of the film to mirror, sadly, the frequent failures of anarchist and feminist communities to fully address the ongoing impacts of structural racism).

No Award went to the movies and saw Snowpiercer.  Liz wrote about it here, “No Award goes to the movies: Snowpiercer” and Stephanie here, “snowpiercer: the revolution cannot be trusted if it’s white“.  Both great reviews  looking at different aspects of the movies, and not agreeing on it at all.

Kerryn Goldsworthy guest posts at Hoyden About Town with, “Every Australian Novel Ever!“.  It’s funny, you really want to read it.

Politics

Rachel at the Abyss of Perfect Knowledge writes, “Dear Australian Liberal National Party“:

It is obvious you kept this stereotype of “the ideal Australian LNP voting family” in mind when you ignored the fact that 719,700 Australians were unemployed in May 2014. You kept this stereotype in mind when you ignored the fact that there were only 146,100 job vacancies in Australia during May 2014. It looks to me like the numbers don’t exactly add up. You kept this stereotype at the forefront of your minds when you ignored the fact that 2,265,000 Australians are living below the poverty line. My family falls below this line.

My family is my mother. She works two jobs, seven days per week and still does not earn enough from her jobs to pay rent, bills and living costs. Unlike your stereotype of drinking, partying hard and going to music festivals I give most of the money I receive from Centrelink (i.e. taxpayers) to my mother so I can continue to live at home. She would not be able to keep me at home without this money.

Ebs at The Travelling Unicorn writes, “To be black is to be political“:

The judgment happened when I met a certain community member last night. She looked me up and down when she was introduced me and with a critical eye said “I’ve never met you before”. I politely brushed it off but fact of the matter is, I’ve met her a million times over.

Like many blackfellas, my moderate and sometimes uncontroversial public demeanor means that I am passed off as just another white claiming heritage, when in reality, I know who I am, I know who you are and I am careful as fuck around you.

Why? Because despite your immense intelligence and connection to certain parts of my community, you are a ticking time bomb. A lateral violence molotov cocktail that is just waiting for me to fuck up so you can discredit me in any circles that you can.

Veronica Sheen writes at The Conversation, “Ten job seekers per vacancy: a reality check on welfare overhaul“:

The overall unemployment rate is now 6%, and 13.5% for 15-24 year olds. In May there were 146,000 job vacancies with 720,000 people unemployed. Another 920,000 were underemployed and wanting more hours of work. Underemployment is a very important labour market indicator as, under the terms of internationally agreed labour statistics collection, an individual is counted as employed if working one hour a week for pay or profit.

Altogether, these figures mean 1.64 million people who have no work or not enough work are potentially competing for available job vacancies.

Ariane at Ariane’s Little World writes, “Musings on Radical Inclusion“:

The idea of radical inclusion seems both wonderful and deeply problematic to me. On the one hand, this principle is probably 90% of the reason I decided to go. It’s very clear that I don’t have to already be part of the community to welcomed by it. That’s awesome. But when I start to think about the implications of being truly radically inclusive, that pesky “other hand” gives me trouble. To be inclusive, and to welcome people, implies that the space is safe and accessible for those people. To be inclusive and welcoming to everyone implies a space is safe and accessible to everyone, and I’m not entirely sure that such a space can actually exist, even in theory.

Stephanie at No Award writes, “things your government has been doing“:

UGH, AUSPOL. Why must you be the blurst? Anyway, to keep you up to date on reasons to hate our federal government, here’s a summary of some things over the last week. Don’t worry, there’s more.

LGBTIQ

Rebecca Shaw writes at SBS, “Comment: Opponents of same-sex parenting are part of the problem“:

In this week’s ‘news that is shocking to nobody except for those who blindly ignore logic and reason because of ideology’, a study from researchers at the University of Melbourne has found that children of same-sex couples do just as well as children with heterosexual parents, and are, in fact, above-average on a number of key measures of physical health and social well-being.

The research surveyed 315 same-sex attracted parents with a total of 500 children aged up to 17 years old. Lead researcher Dr Simon Crouch attributed the positive differences to same-sex couples facing less pressure to fulfill ‘traditional’ gender roles, leading to a more equitable distribution of child-care and work responsibilities, which contributes to a more harmonious household and a positive impact on the children’s health.

Rainbow Lotus at Signposts and Mirrors writes, “Bi-activism and Sisyphus“:

For some years now I’ve been involved in a local bi community, and have been on the committee of an organisation which provides support and engages in raising bi-visibility.

I am increasingly feeling like the proverbial Sisyphus because not only does it feel like that we are continually having to stick our hand up to say, ‘don’t forget about us’ within the LGbTI (lower case ‘b’ intentional, see this post) communities, but I also feel like there is a lack of willingness to stand up and be engaged by those who identify as ‘b’ or otherwise attracted to more than one gender.

Rebecca Shaw writes at Brocklesnitch, “Thorplease“:

Ian Thorpe and I are almost exactly the same age, give or a take a few weeks. In 2000 when we were both 17, we were in slightly different places. I was at home in my regional Queensland town of Toowoomba, watching the Sydney Olympics with my family. At the same time, he was becoming the most successful athlete at those Olympics, and the most talked about person in Australia. A lot of this talk was admiration for his amazing achievements in swimming, but another part of it was discussion about his sexuality. About the way he talked, his voice, his soft-spoken way, and the fact that maybe he was gay. That he probably was gay. In the following years he was asked about his sexuality over and over again. It was discussed in the media, and by the public (don’t kid yourselves), constantly. And he was forced to answer the question, over and over again. And he chose to deny it. Until now. For whatever reason, he has decided to go on television and make it final, to tell us for once and for all that he is not heterosexual.

Rebecca Shaw also writes at Kings Tribune this month with, “Queer women and straight men“:

This could be a cynical conclusion to draw, but this issue was not invented by Tinder and is certainly not restricted to Tinder. At least on Tinder you can just swipe away the problem without being approached. There are plenty of other apps where queer women are inundated with messages from men attempting to convince them that they just need a man.

The issue is not even restricted to the Internet. In the year of our Beyoncé 2014, the mindset of some straight men that you encounter online, within apps, out in the real world and in a lot movies is STILL that lesbians are just waiting for the right man to come along. Women can’t possibly be satisfied emotionally or sexually with only each other. The patriarchy benefits straight men the most, and some of them are bewildered and scared by the thought that women can somehow get along without them.

Jay Aaminah Khan writes at days like crazy paving, “So You Just Met a Bisexual: a Guide for Allies (and “Allies”)“:

Congratulations! You just met your very first bisexual! Isn’t it exciting? I’m sure you’re brimming with questions about everything from your new friend’s sex life to whether or not it’s true that they’re invisible. (They are. All bisexuals have the ability to disappear whenever they like.) Before you draw up a list and start the interrogation, however, let me preempt a few of the questions you’re most likely to ask – and explain to you why you probably ought not ask them.

Elizabeth writes at Spilt Milk, “Queer mothering in a straight world: AMIRCI Conference Paper“:

For the first four years of my daughter’s life I was, to the casual observer, a straight woman. That is to say that for her formative years, our family fit the social norm. Her family structure — mum, dad, kid — was represented in almost every picture book, almost every television programme, and was replicated in almost all of the suburban homes around her. Our family was visible, in that we were allowed to be seen anywhere, and invisible in that we appeared so normal as to be entirely unremarkable. And like so many couples, we were afforded a level of comfort that we took for granted even as it demanded a certain amount of silence about how very unhappy we were.

Indigenous peoples

Celeste Liddle writes at The Guardian, “We must remember Indigenous warriors who fought war itself” *TW: Rape*

As Paul Daley wrote on Monday, getting the war memorial and the public to acknowledge the frontier wars is difficult enough. Within the story of frontier conflict though, we need to remember so much more. If we don’t, we risk neglecting our true history – especially the trials of women, many of whom have descendants alive today.

We need to remember those women who carried out resistance actions, such as the “howling hideous old hag” Colonel Peter Warburton’s party captured during their exploration of Victoria. This woman deliberately led Warburton’s party in the opposite direction to native wells, dehydrating them and their camels for two days, and also keeping them away from local clans.

Bree Blakeman writes at Field Notes & Footnotes, “Rest in Peace Amala.“:

Rest in Peace amala, my old Mummy, who always told me that I didn’t treat my husband right, whose company I adored. (If one could explain the art of witty, acerbic conversation in Yolŋu-matha, and the skilful play on words, switching across and back between languages.) Countless hours together in company under the mango tree, weaving, talking, smoking and drinking tea (and amala would often break into song, so quietly, half facing away). She taught my dhuway what it meant to be a son-in-law and he duly avoided her as his mokul, sending gifts and care through his galay, my brothers and sisters. She was my amala and I was her waku.

Celeste Liddle writes at Rantings of an Aboriginal Feminist, “On diverse views of Constitutional Recognition“:

Part of the reason the discussion on Constitutional Recognition is being held is that sections of the constitution were written specifically to exclude Indigenous people. This is evident from the race power that it includes; the amendment of which has been recommended by the expert panel. Therefore, a question arising from sections of the community is this: do we wish this historical example of institutionalised racism to be rectified simply by our inclusion within the constitution, or are there other moves that we should take to ensure that we are coming to the table as respected original peoples and negotiating the way forward for this country on equal footing?

Celeste Liddle also provided a series of profiles as an alternative to the Miss Naidoc titles, guest posted by many different authors, I will link to them all: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13.  Celeste’s explanation for the Ms Naidoc profiles is, “Stuff “Miss NAIDOC”. Bring on the first annual “Ms NAIDOC”!

Bodies and body image

Clem Bastow at Daily Life writes, “Prince Fielder: why everyone is talking about this naked male athlete“:

This is why representation is so important: if you can see it, you can be it. And in this case, “it” doesn’t necessarily mean “a pinup”, but when your body type is not only rarely seen in mainstream media, but on the occasion it is seen it’s played for laughs, it’s not hard to imagine that seeing a bigger dude a) reach the top of his game and b) have praise heaped on him as a newly minted sex symbol is a big deal. For the rest of us, it’s cause to stop for a moment and wonder how much of what we think (or “know”) is attractive is down to what the media tells us is so.

Chally writes at Zero at the Bone, “Being ill when you’re already ill“:

I’m ill. It’s what I think of as “normal person sick,” a fever, a cough, sneezing, and weakness that’s keeping me in bed and from my usual routine. It’s not pleasant in and of itself, but it is pleasant to be able to explain this and get instant understanding and sympathy, because I’m rather used to questions and justifications as a person with a chronic illness. You don’t have to explain “normal sick”. You don’t have to rely on someone accepting that you’re not just being lazy or exaggerating.

Kath at Fat Heffalump, writes, “No Fat Chicks“:

Firstly, most of you already know, I’m a fat chick.  I’m also a single fat chick.  Apparently, being a fat chick is a BAD THING.  The author of the blog/book, Adrienne Santos-Longhurst says that she is offering “the no BS guide to dating with confidence for the plus size girl” – so let me just get this right.  Being a plus size girl is ok, but being a fat chick is not.  Indeed, that is what she says at the top of the page… “If you let your size dictate how and who you date then YOU, my dear, are a Fat Chick.”

Sexism

Brianna Doolan at Lip Mag writes, “masculinism and the ‘f’ word: a terrifying tale in modern discourse“:

An Broc claims that feminism has an inherent misandry (the hatred of men) and that it perpetuates the idea that ‘all men are rapists, all men are wicked and there’s this big evil patriarchy which never existed in history…feminism tends to demonise all men and holds all men guilty for the crimes of a few.’

Alternatively he believes in a concept called ‘feminin-ism’, a novel idea of a woman who identifies as a feminist but wants to know how to protect herself.

Maeve Marsden writes at Daily Life, “Just for Laughs: the world’s favourite comedy festival has no room for women“:

This morning I got an email from the Sydney Opera House informing me that I could buy tickets to “the world’s favourite comedy festival.” I love comedy, I thought. Indeed, I perform comedy. This is the festival for me!

Except it isn’t.

Like so many comedy festivals, events, open mic nights and variety shows, ‘Just for Laughs’ has just announced an exclusively male line up. Now, I’m not saying that Bill Bailey, Trevor Noah, Rhys Darby, Jim Gaffigan and Dave Thornton aren’t funny, I am just completely fed up with the exclusion of women in Australian comedy.

Scuba Nurse at The Hand Mirror writes, “Shouting from water skis“:

Sometimes being a woman in a male dominated field feels a bit like trying to teach from water-skis.
No, water-skis are not the best platform to teach from.

Race and Racism

Yassmin writes at Redefining the Narrative, “Are you worried about the European elections?“:

The recent European Union elections have given a legitimate seat to quite a few far right parties, prompting questions around where this level of extremism is coming from, and to what end it is leading?

The Huffpost reports on some of the most extreme, including the Dutch party which wants to rid the country of Moroccans (who were ironically brought in by the Dutch themselves to bolster their workforce), a group in Hungary who want all Jews to sign a register (sound familiar?) and a number of strongly anti-immigration and anti-European parties across the continent.

It is extremely disappointing to see such strong levels of hatred, downright racism and homophobic rhetoric coming out of so called ‘civilised’ nations.  We have been frustrated in Australia with the level of anti-asylum seeker language, but it hasn’t reached the levels of mainland Europe and the Tea Party across the pond.  Where is this all coming from, why is it so and how can we tackle it?

Family

Shae at Freerange in Suburbia writes, “Awkward“:

The other Mum cocks her head to the side, looks back at the team, looks back at me and has a face that says I’m confused. She is silent.

That’s all it takes for my must-I-be-having-this-conversation-and-it’s-sure-not-to-go-well-and-I’m-destined-to-be-the-weirdo-again brain to decide I should just jump in. Let’s get it over with. GO.

“She’s not in school uniform because she doesn’t go to school. That is we home educate. She’s the same age as these girls though and even knows one of them from her sister’s ballet”. This all spills out in one breath and without punctuation. I’m kind of spewing forth this info at the poor woman.

Shae at Freerange in Suburbia also writes, “This is Willow. She loves sharks.“:

Her other big passion, aside from ballet and Monster High dolls, is SHARKS. Willow loves sharks. Particularly Great White Sharks. We have borrowed every shark book from the library at least twice, watched all the docos and browsed a lot of you tube. Willow loves them so much that on our recent trip to Seaworld she stared into the tank, sighed, and asked “do you think they’re happy in there?” rather than being pumped to see them up close. She has a big heart.

She is worried the numbers of great white shark, and others, are in decline. She wants to know why practices like shark netting, shark culls and killing sharks for fin soup are still allowed. She has concern for the health of the ocean where her favorite animals live.

Penguin unearthed writes, “Oral History“:

Tui used to love to imitate his father, Henry Haswell, when he was in full flight complaining about his dinner table. To tell the story, my dad started putting on the accent of Henry Haswell and quoting him – who apparently had the scottish accent common to the people in their part of New Zealand at the time (Henry’s parents were part of the great Nova Scotian migration to northern New Zealand in the 1850s).

So my father was imitating the voice of a man who died more than a hundred years ago, which had been passed on to him by his father, via Tui. It is quite amazing to see oral history in action like that.

Violence – Trigger warnings for all posts in this section

Scarlett Harris writes at The Scarlett Woman, “Walk A Mile in Their Shoes.“:

From here the conversation turned to domestic violence victims and, as we oft hear, “why they just don’t leave” and that “there would have to be some evidence of years of abuse” when victims are pushed to the brink and end up murdering their abusers. By this point I was livid and held myself back from saying what I am about to type lest I damage my at-arms-length but daily relationship with these people: intimate partner violence doesn’t just happen out of the blue. It’s not like one day your loving, equal partner snaps and hits you and that’s it: you leave them (although I’m sure there are a small amount of cases like this, the vast majority of abusers have a pattern of behaviour prior that results in violence).

Liz Barr at No Award writes, “Power, abuse, fandom“:

Is the internet safe for kids?  AHAHAHAHA NO.  And I’m not here to tell people with real, actual children how to supervise them online.  I just have a cat, and I can assure you that he’s not allowed on the internet without an adult human present.

But here’s the thing: fans create fan work, and some of these artefacts are problematic in terms of their sexualised portrayal of children.

Kath at Fat Heffalump writes, “I Stand With Shakesville“:

The truth is, there are lots of things you can do.  Start by believing women who talk about this abuse and harassment.  Help by saying clearly and publicly “This is wrong. This has to stop.”  Signal boost when women write about the abuse and harassment they face.  When other people make excuses about the abuse and harassment women deal with, challenge them.  Tell them it is not acceptable to minimise or excuse the abuse and harassment.  Campaign online platforms like Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, and any others to put in adequate security for their users – proper block functions, well moderated abuse reporting systems, clear anti-abuse terms of service requirements and strong anti-hacking/spam systems.  If you know a woman who is being harassed/abused online, listen to her when she needs to vent.  Ask her if she’s OK and if there are any ways you can help.  Often just knowing someone cares and is listening is the thing that is least expressed.  Support her if she goes to the authorities to report it.  Document anything you receive by being associated with her.

tigtog writes at Hoyden About Town, “Procedure Fail: WisCon, Feminism and Safe Spaces“:

Readers who are already part of SF fandom have probably seen a lot of this WisCon 38 fallout already, and there is a great deal of related/background reading that might seem daunting to those anyone who hasn’t heard about this at all (I certainly haven’t read everything myself), but this situation is worth people outside SFF reading about because one of the major revelations that has come to light about how/why this was mishandled so badly was that decision-makers were not made aware of nor did they factcheck all relevant information before reaching their decision: precedents regarding a similar situation at a different convention in recent years that was mishandled in a way that should have made WisCon more alert to avoidable mistakes,  past accusations/confessions against/from the accused, details of reports from accusers in this situation not conveyed, the accused was given further followup and input into the final decision but the accusers were not, and claims about legal obligations made by the accused have since been revealed to be false. Since this sort of institutional memory-holing of relevant history regarding serial harassers and non-transparency of procedures to the accusers is precisely the sort of social convention that serial harassers rely upon in order to keep getting away with what they do, alongside the fallacy that harassers are obvious deviants who could never be part of my well-ordered community (when in fact they are commonly those with the well-liked/respected status to be given the benefit of the doubt when/if reports are made against them), it’s worth reading about the mistakes of communities with which one isn’t familiar so that one can learn about patterns to watch out for and procedural standards which need to be known and practised by decision-makers.

Mindy at Hoyden About Town writes, “Today in someone is wrong on the internet“:

Clicking through my favourite feminist blogs this morning I came across an interesting comment left by well lets call him Alphaboy (naturally on a post that had nothing whatsoever to do with his comment). Alphaboy (not his real name) is very concerned about throat cancers. Not just any throat cancer but ones caused by Human Papillomavirus (HPV). Not just any throat cancers caused by HPV but specifically the ones in men. (Can you see where this is heading? [ha! unintentional pun]).  HPV throat cancers are believed to be primarily caused by oral sex.

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