Essay: It belong to them, let’s give it back

I submitted this essay for assessment (I got a HD) in the first trimester of last year.  It’s relevant to a twitter conversation so I’m posting it here as submitted.  All errors are mine.

Essay question:

Please research and critically discuss examples of the ways in which museums and/or governments are responding to the issue of repatriation. Do you think they are effectively addressing some of the problems of the past?

Introduction

After the settlement of Australia by the British in 1788, the collection of Indigenous Australian remains and objects began with collected items ending up in both Australian and international museums, and in private collections.  The acquisition of these remains and objects occurred in circumstances that today would be seen as illegal (Chamberlain 2005).  Remains and objects were largely collected “to preserve evidence of cultures that appeared to be disappearing” (Simpson 2009, p. 128), and to support a ‘scientific’ view that Indigenous Australians were “deeply inferior” (Fforde 2009, p. 42) to Europeans.  This essay will examine two case studies of the returns of remains to Indigenous Australian communities, the governmental and institutional responses to repatriation of remains and objects, and how repatriation of remains and artefacts addresses problems of the past.

The Return of Tasmanian Ash Bundles

In March 2006, the British Museum decided to return two Tasmanian cremation ash bundles to the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre (British Museum 2006a).  These ash bundles had been stolen by George Augustus Robinson in the 1800s and eventually donated to the British Museum in 1882 (British Museum 2006b, Material Religion 2007).  The passing of the Human Tissue Act in the United Kingdom in 2004 and the British Museum developing their policy on human remains in 2005 facilitated this return (British Museum 2006a, Material Religion 2007).

The Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre had been requesting the return of these items since 1985, and the British Museum initially claimed that they were unable to agree to the request as they did not have the power to de-accession objects in their collection (British Museum 2006b).  The return of the ash bundles involved an assessment that the ash bundles had been “well documented, published, studied and recorded” (British Museum 2006b, p. 1) and that returning the ash bundles would “not lead to any loss of existing information” or “offer any further significant information in the future” (Material Religion 2007, p. 157).

The British Museum (2006b, p. 2) acknowledged that for the Tasmanian Aboriginal community that the existence of the ash bundles and human remains in the museum “embodies all the pain of dispossession and genocide which they experience on reflecting on their colonial history”.

The Return of Remains from Edinburgh University to the Ngarrindjeri Nation, South Australia

The Edinburgh University adopted a pro-repatriation policy regarding human remains in 1990, after long campaigning by Australian Indigenous groups (Fforde 2009).  The remains that the Edinburgh University held were from all over Australia, but the majority of them were from the Ngarrindjeri people of South Australia (Fforde 2009).  The remains of the Ngarrindjeri people had been collected by William Ramsey Smith in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries (Elmslie and Nance 1988).  Ramsey Smith was Adelaide’s “coroner, inspector of anatomy and chairman of the Central Board of Health” (Elmslie and Nance 1988) at the time and he sent the remains to Edinburgh University (Scobie 2009). Although the remains have been returned to the Ngarrindjeri people via the Repatriation Unit of the National Museum of Australia, the Ngarrindjeri people have not had the funding to rebury all of their ancestors (Fforde 2009, Scobie 2009).

The Ngarrindjeri people have also had remains returned to them from the Australian Museum in Sydney, Museum Victoria and the Royal College of Surgeons in London (National Museum Australia 2003, The Wire 2004), and have reported that the return of their ancestors is healing damage of the past (Scobie 2009)

The return of human remains

Indigenous Australian groups have been requesting from overseas and Australian museums the return of the human remains of their ancestors and objects that were stolen or taken from them.  As evidenced above, the return of human remains from Australian and British institutions has been facilitated by the UK Human Tissue Act and by institutions voluntarily returning remains.  This has not meant that all institutions in the UK have returned remains, or that all remains repatriated to Australia have been returned to Indigenous groups.

The Advisory Committee for Indigenous Repatriation (2014) recommended that for those remains that are returned to Australia without further provenance, that they be housed in a National Resting Place.  Where remains are only provenanced to states or territories, the remains are kept in one of the eight museums funded for this purpose, so that the remains are closer to home and that further identifying work can be undertaken to identify which Nation they came from (Advisory Committee for Indigenous Repatriation 2014).

The Australian Government’s position on the repatriation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander remains is that they should be returned unconditionally and voluntarily, and with the collaboration of the relevant peoples (Advisory Committee for Indigenous Repatriation 2014). However, some institutions in the United Kingdom are very reluctant to return remains to Australia.  The Natural History Museum, for example, has previously claimed that they cannot return remains if they those remains will be reburied, or in some cases buried for the first time, because their researchers will lose access to the remains for further scientific examination (Turnbull 2007).  Turnbull (2007) argues that as most of the Indigenous Australian remains held by institutions outside Australia are less than 500 years old, the scientific information that can be gathered from the remains could be gathered from their descendants and that there is no need to retain the remains in museums and institutions.

The return of objects

The Australian Government has stated that they seek “the return of secret sacred objects only from within Australia” (Australian Government Department of Communications and the Arts 2013, p. 6), and not from overseas despite the fact that these objects were often stolen, looted or obtained through “the gross inequality of power” (Besterman 2009, p. 109).  Indigenous Australians who seek the return of artefacts held in institutions outside Australia have to negotiate the return on their own, and generally institutions are not willing or able to return objects (Reppas 2007).

In 2002, Directors at eighteen of the largest museums in the world signed a statement taking a stand against the repatriation of objects in their collections (Reppas 2007).  The museums argued that objects in their collection “find value in their juxtaposition with other objects” (Gorman 2006, p. 79) and that “the privileged position of non-Western objects and cultures within contemporary knowledge systems would not have been achieved were it not for the position of acquired objects within the great museum” (Gorman 2006, p. 79).  These museums claim that current ethical codes or laws should not be applied to their historical acquisition processes, and that their current collections have added to the national heritage of the countries in which they are based (Gorman 2006).  In making these statements, these museums disregard the effects of their previous acquisition policies on those peoples who have been negatively affected by colonialism, claiming that removal of items from their collections would be more harmful than past practices.

The British Museum cannot de-accession objects in their collection after a High Court ruling in 2005 which prohibited the museum returning drawings looted by the Nazis to the rightful heirs, unless those objects are duplicates or useless (Reppas 2007).  The High Court ruled that more recent Acts of Parliament overtook the UK Government’s previous adoption of resolutions and conventions that spoke to the return of objects to people and nations who had been dispossessed of them (Reppas 2007).  Clearly the UK Government is afraid, as per Prime Minister David Cameron’s comment in 2010 that “If you say yes to one [request], you suddenly find the British Museum would be empty” (Associated Press 2016).

Consequently, regardless of how the British Museum and other UK Government funded museum institutions obtained the objects in their collection, they cannot return them to their rightful owners.  This is contrary to the International Council of Museums’ (ICOM) Code of Ethics for Museums (2013, p. 10) which states:

  1. 2 Return of Cultural Property

Museums should be prepared to initiate dialogues for the return of cultural property to a country or people of origin. This should be undertaken in an impartial manner, based on scientific, professional and humanitarian principles as well as applicable local, national and international legislation, in preference to action at a governmental or political level.

  1. 3 Restitution of Cultural Property

When a country or people of origin seeks the restitution of an object or specimen that can be demonstrated to have been exported or otherwise transferred in violation of the principles of international and national conventions, and shown to be part of that country’s or people’s cultural or natural heritage, the museum concerned should, if legally free to do so, take prompt and responsible steps to cooperate in its return.

ICOM’s Code of Ethics is a voluntary set of principles for museums and in this case it is not the museum that is preventing the return of stolen or looted objects but the UK Government, their legislation and willingness to take the matter to court if a museum attempted to return an object.

In 2013 the Australian Government enacted the Protection of Cultural Objects on Loan Act 2013 (Cth) to prevent museums and institutions where objects are being loaned to losing “ownership, physical possession, custody or control of the objects because of:

  • legal proceedings in Australian or foreign courts;
  • the exercise of certain powers (such as powers of seizure) under Commonwealth, State and Territory laws; or
  • the operation of such laws.” (Explanatory Memorandum)

This legislation was created after the Dja Dja Wurrung Native Title Group obtained an emergency declaration under Australian heritage protection laws to stop the return of bark etchings which had been on loan from the British Museum and the Royal Botanic Gardens in Surrey in 2004 (Fray 2004, Daley 2015).  The etchings were returned to the United Kingdom after the court case to retain them was unsuccessful (Fitzsimmons 2015).

The legislation has meant that the British Museum and other institutions are willing to loan Indigenous Australian objects, and other objects and artworks, to Australian museums and institutions (Daley 2015).  On one hand, it means that Indigenous Australians can reconnect with their culture but on the other, it is a reminder that these objects are held outside Australia and that they were taken from them through theft, force or coercion (Daley 2015).

Addressing the problems of the past

While the return of remains from museums and institutions around the world have been welcomed by Indigenous Australians and the Australian Government, issues remain regarding the return of objects from museum collections.  Tom Trevorrow, the chairman of the Ngarrindjeri Heritage Committee, who has worked to for the return his ancestors’ remains stated that “healing is beginning” (Scobie 2009) now that his ancestors are back on their country.  Fforde (2009, p. 47) states that “repatriation is fundamentally about facilitating the rights of a source community to decide the future of their ancestors’ remains”.  Indigenous Australians whose ancestors have been returned after removal “gain control over their history and culture” and “some dignity is restored” (Besterman 2009, p. 109).

The return of remains to Indigenous Australians rectifies some of the past wrongs against them and their ancestors and it is both a spiritual and cultural necessity as it assists in the preservation of their way of life (Chamberlain 2005).  Chamberlain (2005, p. 349) also argues that the failure by overseas institutions to return objects “could amount to a denial of such peoples’ right to maintain their culture or to manifest their religion”.  However, one option available to museums who are unable or unwilling to return objects to their rightful owners, is to involve the traditional owners of the objects in how those objects are displayed and interpreted which would give the traditional owners a sense of control over those objects (Davies 2004, Gorman 2006).

The Australian Government’s commitment to the repatriation of Indigenous Australian remains and the repatriation of secret-sacred objects held in Australian museums supports Indigenous Australians connection and ownership of their heritage (Advisory Committee for Indigenous Repatriation 2014, Australian Museum 2007).  Returning objects to the originating Nation or peoples goes a long way to assist in rebuilding identity and can help Indigenous Australian cultural renewal through knowledge transmission (Roehrenbeck 2010, Simpson 2009).  Simpson (2009, p. 122) writes that “the repatriation of ceremonial materials from museums may be … linked to strategies to aid recovery from post-colonial trauma, and … to contribute to indigenous health and well-being.”

Conclusion

Although some museums and institutions are repatriating Indigenous Australian remains to their descendants and objects to their traditional owners, there are still museums and institutions who have not done so, or who are unable to do so due to governmental regulation.  The return of remains and objects to Indigenous Australians is highly important to them, and adds to the healing of the ongoing trauma of colonialism.  In the future when museums and institutions that are currently unable to return objects have those obstacles facing them removed, revisiting how this affects Australia’s Indigenous population, what objects are sought, and whether the objects are preserved or used will add to the understanding of the importance of repatriation.

Bibliography

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Associated Press 2016, ‘India changes tack over return of Koh-i-Noor diamond’, The Guardian, 20 April, retrieved 23 April 2016, <http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/apr/20/india-changes-tack-over-return-of-koh-i-noor-diamond>

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Chamberlain, K 2005, ‘We Need to Lay Our Ancestors to Rest—The Repatriation of Indigenous Human Remains and the Human Rights Act’, Art, Antiquity & Law, vol. 10, no. 4, pp. 325-352.

Daley P 2015, ‘Preservation or plunder? The battle over the British Museum’s Indigenous Australian show’, The Guardian, 9 April, retrieved 24 April 2016, <http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2015/apr/09/indigenous-australians-enduring-civilisation-british-museum-repatriation>

Davies, C 2004, ‘Property Rights in Human Remains and Artefacts and the Question of Repatriation’, Newcastle Law Review, vol. 8, no. 1, pp. 51-64.

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Fitzsimmons H 2015, ‘Indigenous tribe demands Dja Dja Wurrung bark exhibits on display at British Museum be returned’, ABC News, 25 April, retrieved 24 April 2016, <http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-04-24/victorian-indigenous-tribe-demand-bark-exhibits-be-returned/6419998>

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Reppas, MI 2007, ‘Empty “International” Museums’ Trophy Cases of Their Looted Treasures and Return Stolen Property to the Countries of Origin and the Rightful Heirs of Those Wrongfully Dispossessed’, Denver Journal of International Law & Policy, vol. 36, no. 1, pp. 93-123.

Roehrenbeck, CA 2010, ‘Repatriation of Cultural Property-Who Owns the Past? An Introduction to Approaches and to Selected Statutory Instruments’, International Journal of Legal Information, vol. 38, no. 2, pp. 185-200.

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Love one another as I have loved you

I see a lot of Christians hating on the LGBTIQ+ communities (well probably less the straight intersex people who identify as the gender they were assigned at birth), quoting Leviticus and Paul as justifications for doing so.  Both of those books have histories significantly different that what most people believe, and most Christians pick and choose from these books what they will and won’t follow.  These books are used to beat the LGBTIQ+ communities because of the versus contained therin.

Leviticus 20:13

If a man has sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They are to be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.

Romans 1:26-27

For this reason [idolatry] God gave them up to passions of dishonor; for even their females exchanged the natural use for that which is contrary to nature, and likewise also the males, having left the natural use of the female, were inflamed by their lust for one another, males with males, committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the recompense which was fitting for their error.

You know what Jesus said about LGBTIQ+ people?

What Jesus did say was (John 13:34-35):

 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

And later in John 15:9-17

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. This is my command: Love each other.

I’ve given the whole thing here because it gives a bit more context.

If you believe that Jesus was real and that the gospels are the story of his brief 33 years on earth (he really did pack a lot into those last 3 years), then the first quote from John above he said this as he washed his disciples’ feet.  It is believed that the John who wrote this gospel was an actual disciple of Jesus, so the fact that in a short period of time Jesus apparently told his disciples to love one another repeatedly should be something that is noted by most Christians.

Of course, it rarely is.

If Christians loved one another and others like Jesus loved his disciples, and followed Jesus’s teachings, then there would be a whole lot more love and forgiveness and a whole lot less bigotry and judgement.

Jesus also had a fair bit to say about judging people, he wasn’t a fan.

One lesson everyone should really take from Jesus’s life was who he hung out with.  He spent time with those elements of society who were reviled.  He broke bread with tax collectors, who were considered sinners straight up (usually because they collected tax AND a bit extra), and with sex workers (who are still shunned today).  His disciples were fishermen, not the higher ends of Judean society at the time.  He healed the sick and unclean, he worked on the day of rest and called the upper echelons of society hypocrites.  He was not popular with “society” and was a rebel with a cause.

If Jesus came back today, he’d still hang out with the poor, the sex workers, and the reviled in society (LGBTIQ+ people, drug users, refugees, etc).  He wouldn’t associate with the Catholic Church (the Church that claims to be the direct descendent of the church that the disciple Peter started), he wouldn’t associate with politicians, he wouldn’t associate with the rich, nor would he associate with those who claim to know and understand the exact inner workings of the mind of god (those Christians who say what god does or does not like/want/etc).

Jesus told the story of the Good Samaritan because he wanted his disciples to understand that people are good and worth attention and care regardless of their cultural background and difference.  He told this story after being asked “Who is my neighbour?”, and it’s important to note that the neighbour is someone who hated by Jewish society at the time.

Jesus commanded that his disciples love one another, but that commandment should not be interpreted in a narrow way, meaning to only love those who are like yourself or have your exact way of thinking.  Jesus wanted his followers to love as he loved the world.  To love so much that he submitted to being crucified in order to save people from the burden of sin (so the theology goes).

So when any Christian person tells you that they “love the sinner but not the sin”, they aren’t loving the sinner, they are judging (because you have to judge first to identify that someone is sinning), and not loving someone as Jesus loved.

When any Christian tells you that a group in society does not deserve equal rights, or is less than them due to misfortune, race, religion, or ability, then they aren’t loving someone as Jesus loved and commanded.

Christianity gets a lot of free passes for some truly vile shit they have pulled over the years, and are still pulling today (here and here).  I want to call our the poor behaviour of Christians and Christianity when I see it.  I want to remind them that they should be loving their neighbour as themselves, that they were ordered by Jesus to love, and that their behaviour right now isn’t showing that at all.

So during the fight for marriage equality, and other fights where society adjusts and shifts and equality is granted where it hasn’t been available before, I will call out shitty, non-loving behaviour, because it is the right thing to do.

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Welcome to the 109th Down Under Feminist Carnival

Hi all, it’s been ages since I blogged because I have been busy with school, life, more life, and then some more life.  I’ve missed you all and I only have one more semester to complete in my course (Graduate Diploma of Museum Studies), which I will write about later (much later, like in November when I’m back from being overseas after I’ve finished my course).

But anyway, there is a Down Under Feminist’s Carnival to share with you all, and I should get right on that.  Thanks to Chally and Scarlett for providing submissions for the carnival.

Feminism

At Tea and Oranges, “Reflections on women in public life“:

But I reckon there must be a way to change how we work so that a steady simmer is the maximum setting. We don’t need anyone to be at a roaring boil, at risk of flooding over and drenching the flames and ruining the whole thing. It’s actually inefficient, really risky, and it means that some of the people at the top get there based on whether they can put in total life commitment long hours – not on other more important criteria.

Emily at Emily Writes wrote, “Dispatches from a car seat wet with an unknown substance“:

I’ve been trying to work out how to say thank you in a way that totally encapsulates the huge and actually quite overwhelming gratitude I feel for you all. When I had to go offline the most beautiful and loving messages started flowing in by email, and then not just by email – by post too.

Judy Horacek provides a collection of comics on the topic of Quests at her blog.

Marian Lorrison writes at the Australian Women’s History Network, “‘Of idle and vagrant habits’: Women and divorce in colonial Australia“:

Most historians realise how difficult it is to trace the intimate lives of ordinary women, especially those of the working class, who were too busy earning a living to write letters or diaries. This is why colonial divorce records offer the historian such a variety of archival treasures, revealing abundant detail about the daily lives and loves of women from different social classes and backgrounds.

Marian Lorrison at Australian Women’s History Network reviews Susan Magarey’s “Passions of the First Wave Feminists” with, “From puritanical wowser to passionate reformer: The re-making of Australia’s first-wave feminists“:

‘Passion’ is not a word usually linked with feminists of the so-called ‘first wave,’ who have received more than a little bad press since they began to agitate for the franchise in the 1880s. The story of suffrage in Australia has been overwhelmingly portrayed as an isolated middle-class phenomenon. This is perhaps inevitable given the scholarly focus on the movement’s leaders, who were for the most part affluent women with time and money enough to pursue political causes. Ian Turner’s inflammatory 1969 claim that Australian women were handed the vote on a plate is also no doubt a reflection of the idea that suffrage in Australia was unexciting and uneventful, with an all-male legislature magnanimously bestowing citizenship upon the women of an enlightened and fledgling nation.

Deb Lee-Talbot at Australian Women’s History Network reviews “Creating A Nation: 1788-1990” with “Fashioning a woman’s place: The creation of an inclusive Australian history“:

One particularly outstanding element is how well this collaboration of authors wrote fluid yet separate chapters. McGrath’s chapters (1, 6 and 12) focus on Aboriginal historical experiences and Quartly’s chapters (2, 3 and 4) present historical narratives about the colonies between 1788 and 1860. Grimshaw’s chapters (5, 7 and 8) create a framework through which to conceptualise Australia from Federation to 1912, whilst Lake’s chapters (9, 10 and 11) finally focus on the more recent twentieth-century history.

Vicky Nagy at the Australian Women’s History Network writes, “The Essex poisoning ring“:

In the midst of tumultuous events in mid nineteenth-century England (revolutions on Continental Europe, famine in Ireland, Chartist revolts, and women demanding the right to vote) the deaths of a few children, two husbands and one brother – all working class, all living in rural villages around Essex, and spaced out over five years – should have barely caused a ripple. However, the events between 1846 and 1851 in the north-west and north-east of Essex caused tension amongst pharmacists, physicians, politicians, newspaper reporters and their editors – not to mention the general populace, who were now riveted to any news about the so-called Essex Poisoning Ring.

Micro-aggressions, race and racism

Stephanie at No Award writes, “Continuum: First Aid for paper cuts“:

Sometimes micro aggressions are subtle and gentle. They’re so tiny and insignificant that I’ve called them paper cuts since before I knew what micro aggressions were.

The thing about micro aggressions, though, is that you have to be on guard for them; and sometimes you’re on guard and they happen anyway, and they cut and cut and cut, and all you think of when you look at that project paperwork is bleeding on it.

proudblacksista writes at Ramblings – conquering kids and cancer, “The trouble with AMS“:

I have trouble maintaining my medication regime at (Local Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Medical Service). I go to the service, my whole family goes and it annoys me that I have to see a health worker, I tell him or her, what I am there for. If I wasn’t sick I wouldn’t be there so why do I need to see the bouncer of the AMS. I then go back to the waiting room and wait for my name to be called to see the doctor. My name gets called and I don’t see the doctor, I have to explain to the nurse why I am there and she takes my blood pressure we talk about that and when she has finished I don’t go into the doctor, I get sent back to the waiting room. After another wait, my name is called again and I finally see a doctor. But It’s not the same doctor I saw last time I was there and I have to tell him what I have already told the health worker and the nurse. I ask for a refill of my medication, should be easy, but it’s not this bloke needs me to give him my entire history, I dutifully submit to him taking my blood pressure, checking me over and asking me again why I need the (list of medications).

Disability

Tessa Prebble writes at The Spinoff, “Ableism is everywhere. Parents of children with disabilities are challenging it, are you?“:

For people in the disability community, the abled community’s shock at these instances of ableism is frustrating. Frustrating because they’ve been trying to tell us this all along. They’ll look at what I’m writing and wonder why it took this story being told by an abled white woman, the parent to a disabled child – and not a disabled person herself – before anyone listened. They’ll shake their heads, because we should have known about this discrimination already. This shouldn’t be news. And they’re right.

Media

Stephanie went to Continuum and writes about SF and horror at writes at No Award, “Continuum: SFFH with Asian characteristics“:

This is not a panel write up; it’s more of a rambling meander of panels I was on and panels I witnessed and thoughts I had along the way. It includes recommendations. But all of it is talking about Asian (mostly Southeast Asian) science fiction, fantasy and horror.

Scarlett Harris writes for SBS, “How watching ‘Search Party’ is like looking into a millennial mirror“:

Major spoilers ahead for the first season of Search Party – particularly the finale.

When we’re introduced to Search Party’s protagonist, Dory (Alia Shawkat), she’s going through the motions in a stagnant relationship with Drew (John Reynolds), who generally whines for Dory to fix him a microwave dinner when he’s hungry and uses her for his solo sexcapades.

Family

Scarlett Harris writes for SBS, “Comment: I can’t get a rental because I own a dog. So now I’m homeless“:

Jennifer Duke, review editor at Domain.com, agrees, telling me that the lack of rentals that are pet-friendly results in “at some point, some pet owners [having to] make the decision between having a roof over their head and keeping their dog or cat. These are adults who are having their life choices and choice of companion dictated to them by a landlord.”

Jess Moss at The Spinoff writes, “Your different brain: How we will tell our child about her diagnosis“:

When we received our girl’s diagnosis last year, we didn’t tell her.

Neither of us queried whether we’d fully explain it to her or not. We both assumed that we wouldn’t for the time being. She’d just turned six and the list of compartmentalised issues on report was long.

LGBTIQ

Chrys Stevenson at Gladly, The Cross-Eyed Bear writes, “The Narcissism of Margaret Court“:

The whole kerfuffle about Margaret Court’s unpopular views on the LGBTIQ community and marriage equality has very little to do with her tennis achievements or the name of a tennis arena. It has everything to do with which side of the argument is telling the truth and which is spreading malicious and deceitful misinformation. In a nutshell, it’s about who is bullying who.

An anonymous post at The Spinoff, “The Masterbatorium: A queer experience of conceiving“:

For years we referred to our bathroom as ‘The Masterbatorium’. We were a house of women who liked showers and baths very much, but the naming came from what happened in our bathroom once a month for six months.

Rebecca Shaw writes at Kill Your Darlings, “Wedded to the System“:

On 18 May, Peter ‘Bon’ Bonsall-Boone died after a long struggle with cancer, leaving behind his partner of over 50 years, Peter de Waal. The two men were activists from the very beginning of their relationship until the very end of Bon’s life, appearing in a video for marriage equality as recently as April. They simply wanted to be equals, and dedicated their lives to that cause.

Miscellaneous

Emily at Emily Writes has organised a “Wine Mum Night” in Wellington (I think).  Anyway, it sounds great and if you can go, you should.

Violence

All posts in this section should be viewed with trigger warnings for harassment, assault, rape, abuse, etc.

Julie at The Hand Mirror writes, “Colin Craig is an abuser“.

 

And that’s it.  Thank you so much for reading.  Please volunteer to host (check out the future carnivals page to see free slots), leave comments on bloggers’ posts, share the carnival on your blogs/social networks, and read away.

Related Posts:

Welcome to the first DUFC of 2017 (#104)

Well technically it’s posts relating to feminism from December 2016, but let’s celebrate the end of that dumpster fire of a year and hope that we can find the strength and love to fight the creeping fascism around our region and the world for this year.  May all our favourite celebrities, friends and family members live at least another 5+ years and we get all the cuddly animal love that we want.

If you enjoy this collection of feminist+ posts from around Australia and New Zealand AND think it might be cool to host yourself, please volunteer.  Hosting is actually quite easy, I and other people will send you quite a few blog posts for inclusion, and all you need is a bit of time to list them and a blog in which to include them.  Some of us might even loan you our blogs if you don’t have one of your own, but are interested in putting one of these carnivals together.  We can talk about that later.  Information is available here on how to volunteer.

Without further volunteers the carnival, which has been going for a long time, will fail, so please form an orderly queue and volunteer.  It’s fun, interesting, and not a lot of work.  Volunteers are needed from the end of this month (January 2016) onwards.

Thanks to Chally, Ana, Mary and Jessica for sending through submissions for this month.

To the carnival!

LGBTIQ+

The ACL were fire bombed, and then they weren’t and Chrys Stevenson wrote about it at the Stirrer, “ACL Perverting The Truth“:

Shelton blamed left-wing politicians and activists for inciting the ‘attack’. Our sin? Accurately describing an organisation which dedicates  millions of dollars and the vast majority of its time towards attacking the LGBTIQ community as a ‘hate group’.

What has since transpired is that the ACL’s building was not “rammed”. The vehicle appears to have been parked neatly outside in a parking bay.

Nor was it ‘attacked’. After speaking to the driver and his family, Federal Police confirmed the incident was neither politically, religiously,  nor ideologically motivated.

“Cartoonist” Bill Leak attempted to draw yet another cartoon vilifying the LGBTIQ+ community in Australia, and it made little sense.  Rebecca Shaw attempted to explain it to us at SBS, “A lesbian tries to figure out what the heck Bill Leak’s latest cartoon is about“:

Ah yes. Get it? Perfectly clear. You see everyone, there is a gay boat. I would say ‘gay cruise’ because that is much more funny and clever, but I highly doubt Bill Leak knows about cruising, considering the only depiction of gay men he seems to know is based entirely on the Gimp from Pulp Fiction.

Tyrone Unsworth suicided in November 2016 and Rebecca Shaw penned this thoughtful post some days later. “Tyrone.“:

There have been my own words, and all of the words from people in my community, voices blending into a chorus of rising up and shouting out. Not as one, because they have come from every perspective you can imagine, but all with a similar pursuit. A diverse community forced to reason, goad, justify, explain, bargain, plead, protest and demand that they simply be given the freedom to live as they are. A community full of people who have had to fight to be allowed to live. Not live as in Laugh, Love, Live. Fight to literally live. To survive in a world that has made it difficult, if not often impossible, to exist in. And with each concession, with each tiny step toward the place we should have already been from the start, with each ‘victory’, we have had to keep fighting, mired by the world around us.

Lucinda Horrocks shares oral histories of the Gay Liberation Movement in 1970s Melbourne in the Culture Victoria exhibition, Out of the Closets, Into the Streets, “Out of the Closets: A homosexual history of Melbourne“:

So to understand what was at stake for lesbians and gays to take to the streets, we need to cast ourselves back into an earlier mindset. If you were queer, Melbourne before Gay Lib was an intolerant world. ‘If we found ourselves catapulted back to the 1950s it would be kind of a nightmare,’ says Dr Graham Willett, historian and author of Living Out Loud – a history of gay and lesbian activism in Australia. As Graham explained when we interviewed him for our project, while a camp scene (the term ‘gay’ was not used before the 1970s) had flourished in Melbourne since at least the 1920s, it was hidden, coded and discreet. ‘Mostly what [gay and lesbian] people had to put up with was the discrimination, the sense that they were disgusting in the eyes of lots of people or somehow flawed’ says Graham.

Feminism

Chris Kelly, Chancellor of Massey University, said some very sexist things and then didn’t quite apologise, and then resigned.  Stephanie Rodgers has all the detail at Boots Theory, “Massey Chancellor: women graduates only worth 40% of a real veterinarian“:

Does this actually need unpacking? Are we actually on the cusp of 2017 and I have to spell out why it’s so insulting, small-minded and frankly bizarre to be write off women’s professional abilities and value because they might have babies?

What about women who don’t want to have kids? What about women who enjoy more practical study than theoretical? What about women who don’t just go into veterinary science because (as implied further on in that godawful article) they love puppies and kittens and ickle babby wabbits?

Natalie Kon-Yu and Enza Gandolfo recently attended a conference and the plenary speaker was incredibly sexist, “Embedded misogyny: the academic erasure of women“:

Outside Natalie was joined by several other academics who had quietly walked out of address, and some who were too smart to go in in the first place. The academics Natalie spoke to included men and women from several different ethnic backgrounds. No-one could believe that at a conference in a creative field in Australia in 2016, a plenary speaker could be so blind to gender (and to race, for that matter – but that’s a whole other paper).

The world lost many great people in 2016, including Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds.  Anna wrote about them both on Hoyden About Town, “2016 Hoydens: Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher“:

Instead of doing my own inadequate round-up of commentary on Carrie in her role as General Leia in the Star Wars verse, I suggest heading over to The Mary Sue to browse through their terrific series of articles. Most people posting early footage of Debbie have chosen Good Morning from Singing in the Rain, which I freely admit is irresistible, but we must remember what a long-term, all-round star of the golden age she was, so I have put something more obscure but no less joyful below. Though people think of them both first as actresses, they also gave us a model of the possibility of a textured, mercurial yet utterly solid relationship between mother and daughter (plenty of re-watchings of Postcards From the Edge going on around the place this weekend), and Carrie was an absolute lion in the crusade to make it acceptable and understandable to live a rich life while negotiating mental illness.

At Flip That Script, they’re dreaming of a feminist Christmas, “Women: mothers, sisters, aunties, and grandmothers. Here is your ‘not to do list’ this silly season.“:

It is not a women’s job. We are not natural at it. We don’t necessarily ‘like it’. Social conditioning is a thing.

Women (girls) are taught to run events and functions, and men (boys) are taught to enjoy them. Christmas is no exception. Christmas is the peak. Sure, everyone needs to chill out more on Christmas. To slow down, pull back on the consumerism, and to just have fun times with friends and family. But everyone has to eat, and everyone has to get together in the first place – and those things require careful, considered planning. Logistics are hard work.

Tangerina writes about how women already do lots of unpaid labour that asking us to volunteer to raise the profile of the unpaid labour and the pay gap seems a little off, “Female Dancers Needed“:

But volunteering and ‘joining movements’ are one in the same. We have always given generously of ourselves and our skills, we’ve always handheld our friends and family through emotional labour, hit the streets with pamphlets, cared for our elderly, chaired meetings, hosted (and fed) fundraisers and then got up and went to our lower paid jobs afterwards. And the level of generosity and corresponding pay gap only gets higher and wider for Women of Colour.

Ana Stevenson reflects on how Ms. Magazine disrupted the masculinist language associated with the Christmas season in 1972, ““Peace on Earth Good Will to People”: Holiday Reflections on Ms. Magazine“:

The message itself was controversial. Taking the deep red and forest green associated with Christmas and tweaking these colours to hot pink and fluorescent green, it simultaneously reframed a phrase with foundations in Christianity and emotive resonance surrounding the holiday season.

The phrase Ms. sought to redefine is derived from the King James Bible. Luke 2:14 relates the annunciation to the shepherds, an episode in the Nativity of Jesus. After an angel tells of the coming of the Messiah, more angels appear, saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”

Politics

Celeste Liddle writes at Eureka Street about discovering her grandmother was a member of the stolen generations, and how Aboriginal workers have been exploited forever, “Aboriginal workers still slipping through the gaps“:

It would be nice to think that free Aboriginal labour is firmly rooted in the shame of the past and as a nation, we have moved forward. Yet in 2015, the Federal Government decided to roll out the ‘Community Development Program’ (CDP) in remote areas of the country. The CDP is a remote Work for the Dole program and has been widely condemned; not just by the Australian Council of Trade Unions but also by recent Jobs Australia report which shows how harmful it is. People engaged in the Community Development Program are required to work 25 hours per week year round for only their Centrelink payments and if they fail to comply, they can be cut off. Reports show a community-wide decline in purchase and consumption of fresh food as participants are cut off from their payments leaving other impoverished family members more financially-stretched.

Luddite Journo at The Hand Mirror writes about the disturbing research that suggests that “science” can predict whether children are going to grow up to be criminals, “Three year olds, “science” and burdening society“:

The problem here is not that people without enough are a burden on society.  It is that we have structured our society so that many people do not have enough but the rich can thrive.  Finding ways to blame three year olds for intergenerational, entrenched poverty and racism is a quite the side-step, even for the most vicious of benefit bashers.  I wonder how well Professor Poulton’s test predicts white collar crime?  I’m sure it takes into account the institutional racism which study after study has identified in our criminal legal system.  And I’m certain he found a way to pay attention to the fact that the children of rich people may not need to access social services in the same way because they are well-protected by the wealth of their parents.

Brigitte Lewis examins the roots and impact of feminist digital activism, both online and off, “Feminist Digital Activism: The revolution is being streamed, snapped and tweeted“:

While the internet is undoubtedly a cesspool of sexual harassment, it is also the site of digital activism. With the creation of digital activism, a feminist and female-led revolution, once pronounced dead – has been reignited. As Gil Scot-Heron famously said, “The Revolution Will Not be Televised” (1970); somewhere, on the internet, it will be streamed, photographed, tweeted and then turned into a meme.

Mary over at Puzzling.org writes a continuation of a series, “Moving to Australia as a progressive in 2016: discrimination, violence, and activism“, this time covering Indigenous dispossession and oppression, refugee rights, worker’s rights, racial equality and anti-racism, LGBTI rights, women’s rights, disability rights, and sex work.

2016 in review and looking forward to 2017

Andi Buchanan’s year in review.

Ariane wrote two pieces for the end of 2016, “Word for 2017” and “Happy New Year!

Tigtog at Hoyden About Town wrote, “Open Looking Forward to 2017 Thread

It almost fits, blue milk wrote about what December looks like in her part of Australia, “What December 2016 looks like (in the subtropics)

Reproductive Health and Choice

After Catherine Deveny had thoughts about men opting out of pregnancy, blue milk posted, “On the idea that men should be able to ‘opt out’of parenthood“:

Men can ‘opt out’ already. Don’t have sex with women, get a vasectomy, take lots and lots of responsibility for contraception. Oh.. you mean not that kind of “control over reproductive choices”.

Cristy Clark wrote about Catherine Deveny’s article at Overland, “Deveny’s ‘financial abortion’ is a form of coercive control“:

But if ‘pro-life’ campaigners were genuinely concerned with the preservation of life, they would do more than fight to deny women access to abortion. They would spend their time actively working to create an environment in which women are genuinely supported to carry their pregnancies to term. Instead, these anti-choice campaigners are the exact same people who lobby for legal and economic policies that create poverty and ongoing systematic disadvantage for mothers (particularly in terms of workplace and public life participation).

So what does motivate anti-choice activists? The available evidence seems to indicate they are more concerned with controlling women and undermining their bodily autonomy – a conclusion supported by their participation in denying basic human rights to pregnant and breastfeeding mothers. Examples of this include the widespread denial of birth rights (such as free and informed consent prior to invasive medical procedures) and the pervasive shaming and exclusion of breastfeeding women from public spaces.

Emmaline Matagi writes at Spinoff, “Positive: A mother’s abortion story“:

My stomach drops. I haven’t even realised I am seven weeks late. I’ve been so busy with life; three kids, teaching full-time, studying for a Masters part-time, being a wife, a volunteer, a woman. When was my last period? Last month? The month before? I don’t even know.

My health history is a complicated one: three children, three emergency cesarean sections, two resuscitations and a nine-week premature baby.

I tell my husband the news. He’s devastated. “There’s no way we can do this, we just cant lose you,” he says. “Look at how sick you are! Look at you, this is happening all over again we just cant lose you!” His words stick in my mind for days. And so I finally get up the nerve to see a doctor.

Families

Emily at Emily Writes, feels guilty about abandoning her blog given she’s been writing elsewhere.  But she has some snippets for us, “Assorted tales from a stairway covered in shoes“:

Oh poor neglected blog. Now that I have abandoned you for a better, brighter, more scintillating and stimulating lover (The Spinoff Parents) I barely see you anymore.

I keep trying to come back to you but I don’t have much to say here. I have been noting things down, not particularly interesting, but they’re things I can assure you.

Race, racism and representation

Emmaline Matagi writes at Spinoff, “Representation matters: A mother talks about what Moana means to her and her daughter“:

As a mother to a six-year-old daughter of the Pacific I can honestly say that this film will stay with my child. She won’t ever forget it. Nor will I let her. Moana is a young brown girl, with long, thick black hair, thick brown lips, big brown eyes, thick black eyebrows and a love for the ocean and her family. I see my daughter in Moana. More importantly however, is that my daughter sees herself in Moana! Why is that important? Because never before in her short six years of life or my longer 30 years have we Pacific people ever been able to say we truly see ourselves as the hero of an animated movie – EVER. Moana represented her, her family, her people, her ocean and her story. The history of our ancestors (albeit a tiny glimpse into our amazing history) is our history nonetheless and it’s on the big screen now. My children, like many others, adore Disney movies. They love watching the animation, love the stories, and they love getting dressed up like the characters and pretending they are in those fantasy worlds. Moana is different for them. This time they got to see themselves and they don’t have to dress up, they don’t have to pretend they are in a fantasy world, this is their world.

Book Reviews

Stephanie at No Award is attempting to justify buying a book.  I also need to justify buying this book because it aligns with my research interests, “book review: asia on tour: exploring the rise of Asian tourism“:

This is an academic book; however it’s very accessible. Even the chapters that include ethnographic studies and academic definitions are lacking in dense language. Published in 2009 it’s a little old, but as an introduction to talking about Asian tourism in Asia, and post-colonial travel regionally, it’s a great one. It’s also a good introduction to tourism studies in general, if that’s a thing you’ve been vaguely interested in but never tackled before.

Violence *All posts in this section contain trigger warnings for violence*

Rosie Dalton writes about the concerning study which showed that women were more likely to tolerate stalking like behaviour after watching rom-coms, “New Study Shows Rom Coms Make Us More Tolerant of ‘Stalking Myths’“:

Only in the land of romantic comedies are stalking narratives somehow portrayed as less dangerous than they actually are. Take There’s Something About Mary, for example, where the creepiness of Ben Stiller hiring a private detective to track down his high school crush is somehow glossed over. These kinds of subtle narratives in rom coms can have real world impacts though, as a new study by gender and sexuality expert Julia R Lippman, of the University of Michigan has found. According to The Guardian, Lippman’s report I Did It Because I Never Stopped Loving You found that rom coms featuring men engaging in stalker-like behaviour can make women more likely to tolerate obsessiveness from prospective romantic partners.

Vera Mackie explores women’s experiences of militarised sexual abuse during the Asia-Pacific War, and the survivors’ campaign for acknowledgement by the Japanese government, “The Grandmother and the Girl“.

Lisa Durnian examines patricide prosecutions where children killed their mothers’ abusers, demonstrating how it is not just the immediate victims of violence who suffer in abusive household, ““Mum will be safe now”: Prosecuting children who kill violent men“.

Dianne Hall discusses how gendered familial roles in early modern Europe institutionalised family violence and influenced its treatment in the courts, “Domestic violence has a history: Early modern family violence“.

Joanne McEwan delves into legal responses to wife beating in eighteenth-century England, and its resonance with contemporary discourses, “The legacy of eighteenth-century wife beating“.

Jane Freeland looks at the spirit of survival women demonstrated in the face of domestic violence at other women’s shelters – this time in Cold War Germany, “Writing their stories: Women’s survivorship and the history of domestic abuse in divided Germany“.

Mary Tomsic explores cinematic representations of physical and sexual violence against women in We Aim to Please, a 1970s Australian feminist film, “We Aim to Please: Cinematic activism, sex and violence“.

Lisa Featherstone reveals the controversies that dogged the campaign to criminalise marital rape in Australia in the 1970s and 1980s, “Rape in marriage: Why was it so hard to criminalise sexual violence?“.

Senthorun Raj discusses how pop culture stereotypes about homosexuality enable bureaucratic violence towards refugees, “Are you really gay enough to be a refugee?“:

What do Madonna, Oscar Wilde, Greco-Roman wrestling, clubbing at Stonewall, and having a lot of sex have in common? Not much really, other than the fact that Australian refugee decisions are saturated with these stereotypes – stereotypes that have been used to determine whether a person is “genuinely” gay and subject to a “well-founded fear of persecution.” As a gay man who some politicians would class as “elite” because I live in the inner city suburb of Sydney and prefer investing in books than mortgages, I could tell you very little about Oscar Wilde’s literary contributions. Yet, for same-sex attracted refugees, the demand to prove “gay identity” is no joke. The bureaucratic violence perpetrated against queers who seek refuge leaves more to be desired.

Jessica Hammond writes, “Runner’s Guide to Rape Culture” where she rightly picks apart an author’s “safety tips” on how women can  avoid being assaulted while running.

Related Posts:

Fearmongering about painkillers – codeine

TW Discussion of suicide

So  I’ll preface this post with the following – I am not someone who uses codeine frequently.  I don’t suffer from any form of chronic pain, and apart from when recovering from surgery, will probably have medication containing codeine about once every 4 – 6 months.

I am passionate about people being able to access the medication they need, when they need it, without unnecessary hurdles being put in their way, and today’s news about codeine moving to only be available in Australia by prescription, is a hurdle in everyone’s way.  From me and my very occasional use, to those who have chronic pain who use it much more frequently.

Also, all the reporting on the topic is frequently terrible, conflating all opioid related deaths with those caused by codeine, and attributing carrier drug deaths and injuries (usually paracetamol or ibuprofin) with codeine.

Let’s start with some important numbers:

  • Population of Australia (end June 2016) a bit over 24,000,000 (source)
  • Victorian Road Toll (2015): 257 (source)
  • Number of women killed by intimate partner violence: Approximately 1 per week (around 52 per year on average) (source)
  • Number of deaths in Australia in 2015: 159,052 (source)

The importance of all these numbers will make sense further down this post.

I’ll start with the ABC article (the second that I read on this today) which claims in part:

“Medication that are available over the counter or through pharmacies should be substantially safe and not subject to abuse.”

Now paracetamol and ibuprofen are safe, generally in the quantities that the box tells you to take them.  Excessive paracetamol (overdosing) causes:

Signs of paracetamol overdose include drowsiness, coma, seizures, abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting. Another name for paracetamol is acetaminophen (often known by its brand name, Panadol®).

There is only a small difference between the maximum daily dose of paracetamol and an overdose, which can cause liver damage. Large amounts of paracetamol are very dangerous, but the effects often don’t show until about two to three days after taking the tablets. (source)

Excessive ibuprofen (overdosing) causes:

An ibuprofen overdose can damage your stomach or intestines (source)

Both of these drugs, which are commonly available in Australia, you can buy them almost everywhere (convenience stores, supermarkets, chemists, petrol stations, etc) are only just safe in the recommended doses.  If you have a compromised liver, or mix up your dosage, you can cause serious damage to yourself, if not die from the medication.

Neither paracetamol or ibuprofen are addictive however, so apparently it doesn’t matter how dangerous they are.

Back to the ABC article.

The TGA said misuse of over-the-counter codeine products contributes to severe health outcomes, including “including liver damage, stomach ulceration, respiratory depression and death”.

Overdosing on codeine causes:

Overdose symptoms may include slow breathing and heart rate, severe drowsiness, muscle weakness, cold and clammy skin, pinpoint pupils, and fainting. (source)

So the TGA is partly lying.  The liver damage and stomach ulceration are the result of the carrier drug, either paracetamol or ibuprofen.  I’m not sure how many tablets you’d have to take to get the overdosing effective of codeine from the blended paracetamol/ibuprofen and codeine tablets, but I’m pretty sure that the internal bleeding and liver failure will probably kill you before the “respiratory depression” does.

From the ABC:

Dr Greenaway said an Australian study using coronial data showed there had been over 1,400 deaths in a little over a decade.

A little over a decade.  Let’s say that’s 13 years since no one has bothered giving us the actual numbers.  That’s around 108 deaths per year attributed, apparently, to codeine.  Because the ABC (and all the other media outlets) didn’t bother to find the actual source of these figures, I’ve just spent 2 minutes finding them for you.

From a press release from the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre:

The rate of codeine-related deaths in Australia more than doubled between 2000 and 2009, driven primarily by an increase in accidental overdoses, according to new research by the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre at UNSW.

“While we can’t look at trends over time beyond 2009, our sample of 1,437 codeine-related deaths between 2000 and 2013 allows valuable insights into the circumstances surrounding these deaths,” said Ms Roxburgh.

Of the 1437 deaths included in the study, just under half (48.8%) were attributed to accidental overdose, and a third (34.7%) to intentional self-harm.

Most codeine-related deaths (1201 = 83.7%) during 2000–2013 were attributed to multiple drug toxicity. A small proportion (113 = 7.8%) were specifically attributed to codeine toxicity. The remaining 123 deaths (8.5%) were attributed to other underlying causes, such as coronary heart disease, cardiovascular conditions, or other drug toxicity.

More than half (53.6%) of the cases of codeine-related death included a history of mental health problems, 36.1% a history of substance use problems (including misuse and dependence), 35.8% a history of chronic pain, 16.3% a history of injecting drug use, and 2.7% a history of cancer.

Those who had intentionally overdosed were more likely to be older, female and have a history of mental health problems; those who had accidentally overdosed were more likely to have a history of substance use problems, chronic pain and injecting drug use.

Ms Roxburgh said these characteristics highlight a complex patient population in need of specialist services.

Ok, so the TGA is being even more dishonest.  123 deaths over a 13 year period were related specifically to codeine toxicity.  That’s 9.4 deaths per year.  The 1201 deaths were multiple drug toxicity, which would most likely mean, since it isn’t spelt out, that the individuals died from consuming multiple substances, such as paracetamol and/or ibuprofen containing codeine, and potentially other medication.  As I’ve already noted, overdosing on paracetamol and ibuprofen is very bad for you.

34.7% of those deaths were suicide.  That’s not people getting addicted to codeine and then dying, that’s people using a commonly available drug and committing suicide.  I’m sure that those who were intentionally self harming with drugs containing codeine would find any other drug that would have the same outcome, and yet I don’t hear the TGA calling for prescriptions only for ibuprofen and paracetamol.

I included the last bit of the press release because it’s a point I want to come back to.  Mostly that addiction is treated like a moral failing and not a social failing.

And moving onto the Guardian:

The use of common, opioid-based painkillers such as codeine, morphine and oxycodone has increased by four times over the past decade and Australian is among a handful of countries consuming the bulk of the world’s opioid medication supply, according to figures from the independent body responsible for implementing the United Nations international drug control conventions, the International Narcotics Control Board, published in the Lancet.

This is deliberately misleading.  You cannot get morphine or oxycodone over the counter at a pharmacy.  Including these two opioids in a discussion about codeine is muddying the waters.  Also, Australia “is among a handful of countries”.  What does that even mean?  What is a handful of countries, who are the other countries, and given we produce a lot of our own opioids, what relevance does this have?

The Guardian continues:

The Australian Medical Association has said it accepts the plan will result in additional health system costs and higher workloads for GPs, but AMA vice-president Stephen Parnis said that should be weighed up against the cost of harm inflicted by the misuse of codeine, intentional or otherwise.

The TGA is making a currently available, over the counter, widely used and not widely abused drug, into a prescription only drug in an environment where the current Australian government is attempting to reduce the number of subsidised doctor’s visits to everyone (source), which will make life even more difficult for those with chronic pain conditions.

The Guardian continues:

“We also know that the number of people suffering avoidable harm in this area has been increasing over time, to the point where, at least in Victoria, the number of deaths from overdose of prescription narcotics is higher than the road toll.”

And my numbers come into play.  The road toll for Victoria in 2015 was 257.  The number of people who die (on average according to the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre) is about 110 per year.

Ah… but see what AMA actually said, “the number of deaths from overdose of prescription narcotics”.  This decision is about over the counter codeine.  It is not about prescription opioids of any other kind, and yet in attempting to justify a decision which is really just going to annoy and make life harder for people, we get all these other reasons.

The AMA dude has one more thing to say in the Guardian article:

Parnis said codeine also posed a hidden danger.

“The body converts it to morphine and in fact a proportion of the population can convert it so quickly that they can suffer serious harm as a result.”

This is true, but moving to a prescription based service is not necessarily going to root this out.  Are doctors going to get more training and time to treat addiction?  Are doctors going to know which person amongst the hundreds of their patients has a metabolism that can quickly convert codeine to morphine and potentially harm themselves as a result?  It’s very unlikely.

Moving onto the article in The Age:

A TGA statement released on Tuesday morning said there was evidence that misuse of codeine contributes to liver damage; stomach ulceration and perforations; low blood potassium levels; respiratory depression and death.

The TGA’s statement, again, is incorrect.  Misuse of paracetamol and ibuprofen contributes to liver damage, stomach ulceration and perforations, and low blood potassium levels.  The TGA is conflating two different sets of harm caused by different drugs, into one in order to bolster their position.

The Age continues:

The decision comes after reports of codeine addicts swallowing up to 100 tablets a day, and people “pharmacist shopping” to get around rules introduced in 2010 that restrict purchases of more than five days’ supply of the drug at one time.

“reports of codeine addicts”, citation needed.  Also, any more than 6 (ibuprofen) or 8 (paracetamol) tablets, yet alone 100 tablets a day is an overdose amount of paracetamol or ibuprofen.  I call bullshit on this claim.

Also, it’s not hard to “pharmacy shop”, almost everyone has to do it at one point.  Some pharmacists treat anyone who asks for certain types of medication as drug-seeking,, whether it be something containing codeine or pseudoephedrine (the one that works versus phenylephrine which doesn’t), or something else.  If a pharmacist treats you badly, you go to another pharmacy (if you can).

Despite the fact that pseudoephedrine can be used to make cheap, bathtub, biker speed (Tripod quote), you don’t have to get a prescription to get it.  Sales of products containing pseudoephedrine plummeted when manufacturers substituted in an ineffective ingredient (claiming it was helpful even though studies said it wasn’t), and pharmacists started treating customers who – legally – sought to buy the stuff that does work as though they were drug-seeking addicts. The same could be done to codeine really.

Back to The Age:

In 2013, Monash University researchers reported nine deaths over a decade linked to toxicity from codeine-ibuprofen medicines such as Nurofen Plus.

Less than one death a year from codeine and ibuprofen.  More women are killed in intimate partner violence per year and sadly the Government is doing sweet fuck all about that.  More people die on our roads each year, and the Government does quite a bit about that.  Also I don’t know whose figures to believe.  I’m not sure if this 9 deaths are just in Victoria, or are from a different type of study as undertaken by National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre.

The Age:

Government agency data also shows the number of Australians being treated for codeine addiction more than tripled over the decade to 2012-13, from 318 to more than 1000 a year.

More than 1000 a year.  That’s 0.0004% of Australia’s population.  Apparently that number (the 1000) is probably under reported as some people treat themselves for codeine addiction.  There isn’t any discussion as to how much codeine addiction costs the health system, so it’s hard to know if more than 1000 people being addicted to codeine, who want to not be addicted any longer, is a huge cost to the medical system or just an inconvenience.

This is in error.  Loads of resources and articles say that emergency hospitalisation of someone overdosing on codeine compounds cost about $10,000 each.  The AMA says “A review of 99 hospitalisations caused by the misuse of OTC analgesics containing codeine found they cost, on average, $10,000 per admission.”  That’s broken down a bit more over here where we find out that most of it is once again ibuprofen’s fault.

28 tablets per day?  That’s a lot.

When you treat addiction as a moral failing, despite the fact that most of the people who use codeine regularly are people who have chronic pain conditions, then you let everyone down.  The next person who becomes addicted to codeine after surgery or a bad fall is listed as the failure, instead of just something that sometimes happens when you’ve sustained certain injuries, have certain medical conditions, or have gone through major surgery.

The National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre at UNSW commented that:

Those who had intentionally overdosed were more likely to be older, female and have a history of mental health problems; those who had accidentally overdosed were more likely to have a history of substance use problems, chronic pain and injecting drug use.

Ms Roxburgh said these characteristics highlight a complex patient population in need of specialist services.

Instead of treating the underlying conditions that people, who use codeine regularly, have, we treat them like they are the problem.  Instead of treating addiction as an illness, we treat it as a moral failing.  We fail everyone when we act this way, and the TGA needs to actually consider the messages they’re giving those who use codeine regularly, and to stop misleading the public about the actual harm of codeine.

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Welcome to the 101st Down Under Feminists’ Carnival

Welcome to the 101st Down Under Feminists’ Carnival.  My apologies for it being late, I was trapped behind two epic assignments that I had to complete for uni.  They are now done, and I am free for the remainder of the year.  Woohoo!

Below is a collection of feminist writing from Australia and New Zealand, written in September.  If you want to host a Down Under Feminist Carnival, you can go here and let Chally know.  It’s not a lot of work, many people will send you blog posts to include, and it’s lots of fun.

On with the show!

Feminism

Liz wrote at No Award, “The invisible women“:

It’s one of those frustrating reads because Liz went in wanting to agree with everything it said, and wound up picking it all apart. Three over-long Facebook comments later, Liz remembered we have a blog.

Anna at Hoyden About Town wrote, “BFTP Friday Hoyden: Emma Goldman“:

At a time when the Australian government is doing its best to behave like a blend of Dickensian villains and French aristocrats, without the compensatory good taste in cravats of either [ed to note: this observation does not require updating], we are more than due for a genuine revolutionary for a Friday Hoyden. Emma Goldman was a Russian (or technically Russian Empire, from an area now in Lithuania) Jewish immigrant to the USA, who spent her life being persecuted for her work campaigning for the rights of workers and marginalised groups of all kinds.

Cesca at myflatpacklife wrote, “Stuck in the middle“:

I have turned into Mummy Pig.

Dammit.

Mummy Pig just wants wholesome family fun. She just wants some fruit. And five minutes to pick berries without having to stop and admire a four year old’s basically empty bucket, or be yelled at. She just wants jam and maybe a crumble or two. Why does she have to be judged for her food choices? Why does she have to have her dignity stripped away by a blackberry bush – let’s all come laugh at the fat pig stuck in the prickly thorns! Why does she have to involve the whole family and share when all she wants is a fucking dessert? It’s not all about you Peppa!

Celeste at Rantings of an Aboriginal Feminist writes, “The Politics of Miscarriage“:

Which brings me back to miscarriage. As stated, in the moment, I felt relief. I didn’t tell work at the time because I was on leave, but as the rest of my saga became apparent, I was left with no choice but to tell them. I required post-operative sick leave after all. Perhaps I felt relief due to my circumstances, but considering that these circumstances were in the confines of a heterosexual relationship, and considering that this relationship had gone the way whereby I ended up a victim of violence, how is this narrative not valid in the discussion of miscarriage?

Daisy Dumas and Anna Maxted at Essential Baby write, “Why working women keep quiet about miscarriage“:

“Nobody understands it unless they have had one. It is impossible to compute unless you have been through it, just like any grief,” she says.

She is one of a low estimate of about 150,000 Australian women who miscarry each year – the vast majority of whom keep their anguish to themselves and, if working, continue as usual through the ordeal.

Olive Brown wrote at The Wireless, “Please, call me wahine“:

I remember learning about Suffrage Day at school, but I don’t remember ever seeing or hearing about wāhine Māori in the narratives and representations I was taught. Wāhine Māori were very much part of the suffrage movement.  In May 1893, Meri Te Tai Mangakāhia, addressed the lower house of the Te Kotahitanga Parliament (Māori Parliament) – being the first recorded woman to do so – she not only requested wāhine Māori be given the vote, but went further than the contemporary aim of the European suffrage movement, and asked they also be able to sit in the Māori parliament. She was one of other influential wāhine also part of the suffrage movement.

Jessica Tuhua guest posts at Sacraparental, “Nine-year-old Jessica tells us about feminism“:

I wrote about feminism because not many people at my school know anything about it, and I wanted to use the opportunity to speak about something important. It was very difficult to write about, so I re-wrote my speech six times! 

Cristy Clark wrote at Overland, “Dissenting feminisms: reflections on the Feminist Writers Festival“:

In the lead up to the event, we were accused of programming predominantly white women rather than women from a diverse range of backgrounds. In fact, over 40 per cent of our speakers were women of colour, and of the remaining women, a majority were able to speak from a diverse range of perspectives, such as identifying as LGBTQI women, or as women with a disability – but we could still have done better in this regard.

Andie Fox at ABC Radio National (audio segment) with, “In Defence of Sexting“.

Reviews of things

Liz at No Award wrote, “Liz reads: 4 Australian novels“:

How amazing is fiction? People just MAKE UP STORIES, which I then buy and read and insert these ideas from other people’s heads into my brain!

Body political

Fat Heffalump wrote, “Melbourne Fashion Week Plus – The Political“:

I had a lot of really intense feelings about being invited as a special guest to MFW+, mostly for two pivotal reasons.  Firstly because I’m not a fashion blogger in any stretch of the imagination – I love clothes, and expressing myself through the way I dress.  I love colour and texture and shape and I love the way putting an outfit on can make me feel.  But my focus as a fat activist is changing the way that fat people are both perceived and treated.  Don’t get me wrong, I believe clothing and fashion are important in fat politics – after all, access to suitable clothing is important to be part of society and because fashion and clothing can be really empowering, especially to those of us who have been denied access.  But to be invited and supported by MWF+ as an activist to be part of the event, knowing that they wanted my very political, feminist, fat active perspective to be included in the event means a lot to me.

Tangerina writes, “Bodies, food and fitness in the workplace“:

When you have an open conversation about being worried you’ll put on weight if you have another piece of that brownie, you probably don’t stop to think how that affects the people in the office who weigh more than you. That the subtext of what you’re saying is I’m afraid my body will look more like yours. And that although most of you would be horrified to think you’re hurting people by making idle small-talk, you are making your workplace less safe for fat people, people with (or recovering from) eating disorders and people with different abilities and health needs than you. And that’s not okay.

LGBTIQ+

Chrys at Gladly the Crossed Eyed Bear wrote, “The Race to Irrelevancy – Shelton’s Australian Christian Lobby“:

Despite the millions of dollars the Australian Christian Lobby has ploughed into demonising the LGBTIQ community, it has decisively lost the battle for Australian hearts and minds. As the debate has progressed, the Australian public has moved inexorably towards treating their fellow citizens as equal human beings. The fear-mongering fanaticism of Lyle Shelton’s fundamentalist lobby group (which wants the government to spend $200 million to amplify its message of homophobic hatred) has failed to gain traction.

Rebecca Shaw writes at SBS, “For f*ck’s sake, stop treating the LGBTQI community like a political football“:

Wow, what a roller coaster we’ve all been on in the past little while. A roller coaster where you have to be ‘this LGBTQI’ to ride. A roller coaster called The Marriage Equality Debate that is mostly unpleasant and throws you around and makes you wonder if you will even survive. Even if you don’t want to be riding the roller coaster, even if you couldn’t give a shit about it, you are pretty much forced to ride it just by virtue of living your life in this country.

Rebecca Shaw continues with her ranty pants at SBS, “Straight people need to stop telling us how to feel about the plebiscite“:

Lots of things have made me angry about this whole plebiscite situation. There’s the homophobic arguments we have to hear, the fact our government won’t simply legalise equal marriage even though the mechanism is available and it is what a majority of the country wants, the fact that it is even an option that the rights of a minority might be literally put to a vote, and of course the fact that McFlurrys at McDonalds are no longer flurried, only stirred.

I wrote, “Being out makes a difference“:

Being an out bisexual is so a part of my life, I forget that it helps other people.  Two people, one a friend of a friend, and one a business associate, have commented positively on the article, one talked to me about bisexuality and the invisibility she feels because she is married to a man, as well as how she feels unwelcome in LGBTI spaces because she is bisexual and married to a man.  The other thanked me for the work I do (outside my paid work), saying that this was so important, and made such a big difference to people.

I also wrote, “A weekend of erasure”:

The main stream media (MSM) is not very good at discussing bisexuality.  They tend towards the old myth of “straight, gay or lying”, which means that for the most part people who don’t identify as straight, gay or lesbian, tend to end up with one of those labels anyway, because bisexuality isn’t an option, despite it being right there in the middle of the acronym for the community of non-straight and/or non-gender conforming people – LGBTI.

Families

Emily writes at Mama Said, “Four“:

“Even if the boy is four does he keep his mama?”

“Yes”

“Even if the boy is..” he struggled to free his fingers to hold up six or maybe eight – finally ten. “…this many?”

“Yes. Go to sleep”

Emily writes at Mama Said, “Goodbye, old friend“:

When I felt lost and hopeless trying to find my place in the world he was my companion. I felt as if I always had this funny little friend who would accept me.

At Tea and Oranges, “Transitioning to parenthood“:

And parents too, we’re all experiencing a lot of the same stuff! Snapping at our partners about little things, etc. Feeling torn between wanting to connect with the kids and wanting space away from them. I thought it would be handy to have one of those guides for us. Based on zero research because when would I get time to do that, just my reckons, so please add in the comments if you’ve got thoughts. These are all things that I’ve experienced at one stage or another, and all things that I feel much much more strongly when I’m at home fulltime.

Race, racism, representation

Nadia at Mixed Nuts writes, “Border Dwellers and Forked Tongues“:

Anzaldúa speaks of how being multilingual in a monolingual, monocultural, straight white world means that those of us who are aware of our multiplicity – the minoritised, the disenfranchised, the exoticised – are required to perform daily acts of mutilation on ourselves to simply exist. She talks of the silences that this forces upon us. She talks of the toll that twisting and silencing herself has taken on her spirit, on her humanity. And she resists.

Yassmin Abdel-Magied at Medium writes, “I walked out of the Brisbane Writers Festival Keynote Address. This is why.“:

There is a fascinating philosophical argument here. Instead, however, that core question was used as a straw man. Shriver’s real targets were cultural appropriation, identity politics and political correctness. It was a monologue about the right to exploit the stories of “others”, simply because it is useful for one’s story.

Yen-Rong at Inexorablist wrote, “Dangerous Ideas”:

She took aim at those criticising a white, British writer for penning a novel from the perspective of a young Nigerian girl. She poked fun at those who ask that others not speak or write on their behalf. She defended the right for writers to offend. She blatantly rejected the notion of identity. And she did so under the guise of expressing dangerous ideas.

Karen Wyld writes, “Media Decolonised“:

Similar to other colonised nations, Australian media is white. And, let’s not mince words, it shamelessly displays ignorance, cultural bias and racism. I don’t see this changing anytime soon. Not when there’s support for such outdated views – and a profit to be made.

Dr Sophie Loy-Wilson writes at the ABC, “Search for Daisy Kwok uncovers Shanghai’s lost history of Chinese-Australians“:

If the White Australia Policy has an afterlife, I came face-to-face with it in 1996. Flicking through Tess Johnston’s book, A Last Look: Western Architecture in Old Shanghai, I saw an image of Daisy Kwok outside her family’s now decrepit mansion in the Jingnan district of Shanghai.

Trinity at Fruit From The Vine writes, “10 things I wish my friends knew about being Māori“:

Please pause on this one. Ngai Māori, like a lot of indigenous cultures, have had our land, language and culture all stripped ruthlessly close to the bone. You may say, ‘Yeah yeah, stop playing the victim card, I know all this’, but the truth is, you don’t. If you’re not Māori, you may know the words, but you haven’t walked every step of your existence with this reality hanging over your identity. More likely to be words forming a sentence of a past-time with no personal connection to you, this is for Māori, our life, our pain, and the culmination of all our suffering summed up within a sentence.

Omar Sakr writes at The Vocal, “We Need To Talk About Lionel Shriver“:

The question is not, for example, can a white person write an indigenous person’s story? The question is, should a white person publish a story from an indigenous person’s perspective in a country that is still invested in killing and displacing indigenous people, in a country still overwhelmingly producing white stories in film, literature, and TV? Is it ethical for a white person to use their access, to profit from a story using experiences not their own, but which the market is hungry for because homogeneity is mind-numbingly boring but not boring enough to disrupt the inherent biases built into our society?

Language

Stephanie at No Award writes, “steph speaks singlish“:

Steph is in Singapore and using Singlish like a pro! (It’s easy, cos it’s like Manglish only a bit more different) Because most of our readers are Aussies, and if there’s one thing Aussies love it’s slang, she’s compiled a list of important words she knows/has been learning to use in Singapore.

Nadia at Mixed Nuts writes, “Diverse Women Writers“:

Some of this was discussed during the open forum, when the audience was asked to comment on the day’s proceedings and make suggestions for improvements. Overall there seemed to be a feeling that events like this one were useful because of how isolating it often is to be the only non-white, nonbinary, non-male, non-straight person in the room. To be with a cohort with whom we could share multiple intersecting parts of our identities was a relief. There was a discussion of the use of the word ‘women’ when what was meant was more broadly ‘not men’, and the possibility of using ‘women and nonbinary’ as an identifier was floated, which several of the people I spoke to seemed to think would work.

Monica Dux at The Age wrote, “Families that stay together sometimes shouldn’t“:

Writing about the term “community”, the celebrated sociologist Zygmunt Bauman observed that, while most words have meaning, some also have a “feel”. According to Bauman, “community” is such a word. It gives us a warm, fuzzy feeling. And the word “family” is very similar.

Politics

Jane Caro at The Big Smoke wrote, “John Howard’s comments: lack of foresight, lack of understanding“:

A few days ago at the National Press Club, ex-Australian PM, John Howard, claimed that it was just the “truth” that women would never achieve 50% representation in our parliaments (or anywhere else, I imagine) because of their caring roles. Well, Mr Howard, there is one area where women are rapidly approaching 50% representation and that is among the ranks of the homeless. It is estimated by those who work in the sector that 44% of the homeless are women. The fastest growing group without a roof over their head, in fact, are women over 55.

Chally wrote at Zero At The Bone, “Telling truth, but not the reality“:

Telling half the story has inevitably led to confusion and a split response. Responses to this comment seem to be split between “good on him for telling the truth” and “he’s had his day”. There are of course also the people who seem to think that Mr Howard was saying that women belong in the home and agree with him that that’s a good thing – which he probably meant on some level, given how concerned he was about people thinking he said a terrible thing, but didn’t say.

Jane Gilmore writes at The Feed, SBS, “Comment: Hanson’s policies on family law equally dangerous“:

Phil Coorey reported in July this year that the Nationals are considering giving support to some of the One Nation policies in an attempt to prevent rural votes leaking down to Hanson. He quoted one Nationals MP as saying family law was something the Nationals need to “treat seriously”.

If you believe the Nationals think treating family law seriously means added protection for abused children and women, please get in touch so I can tell you about this wonderful bridge I have for sale.

Violence in all its forms (Trigger warnings for most of these posts)

Clementine Ford wrote at Daily Life, “Rape culture is caring more about protecting an offender’s future than his victim’s“.

Sam Conner at Gimpled writes, “We’re Not Funded To Do That“.

Related Posts:

A weekend of erasure

Trigger warning for biphobia and bi erasure

The main stream media (MSM) is not very good at discussing bisexuality.  They tend towards the old myth of “straight, gay or lying”, which means that for the most part people who don’t identify as straight, gay or lesbian, tend to end up with one of those labels anyway, because bisexuality isn’t an option, despite it being right there in the middle of the acronym for the community of non-straight and/or non-gender conforming people – LGBTI.

So it started with a garbage fire of an article published by The Telegraph.  It’s a UK paper, I really don’t know how it rates generally, but this article was awful.  The article was titled: ‘I felt like I was falling’: the moment I found out my husband was leading a double life. He was gay 

Let’s take the first moment of epic fail in this article, by the author Camilla Smith:

My husband Peter was away for work when I found the postcard of Manly Beach, in Australia. Sent from an unfamiliar friend, there was a comment about watching men sunbathing, and how Peter would enjoy the view.

After 10 years together, seven of marriage, it was instantly clear that Peter was gay.

“Instantly clear” that despite what I assume were 10 years of mostly happy relationship, one where they were together for such a long time, that Peter is gay.  Not bisexual.  In fact, in this entire article, Smith is of the opinion that bisexual men do not exist.  She goes to great lengths to pain Peter a philandering gay man using her as a “beard”.

So Smith continues:

I had a cup of tea, walked the dog, and when Peter came home, I told him what I had found.

He didn’t break down. He didn’t try to deny the friend or that he had a sexual interest in men. He didn’t, however, agree he was gay.

I think, for the age group of men like Peter and Keith Vaz, the image of a gay man is different to what you see now. If you grew up in the 70s, being gay meant Larry Grayson and John Inman, camp-as-a-row-of-tents clichés. They must have looked at these images and thought, that’s not me.

It was such a narrow view of homosexuality. Now you have rugby players, CEOs and soldiers who are out, but not then.

And yet Smith has no clue about bisexuality.  For her, if a man is attracted to men, he cannot be attracted to women.  Smith’s view of the spectrum of human sexuality is so incredibly narrow, that she could not even conceive that her husband, the man she’s spent 10 years in a relationship with, could be bisexual.

I don’t think he wanted to come out because I don’t think he wanted to be gay. Somehow, for him, it was preferable to be bisexual.

Probably because he’s actually bisexual.  It’s this erasure that harms bisexual people so much.  Not just Peter who is in the midst of being erased by his wife, but every other bisexual who reads this awful story and feels that they can’t be bisexual because we’re not real, that they have to deny who they are because the only options are straight or gay.  This erasure leads to the incredibly high rate of domestic violence against bisexual people, as well as higher rates of suicide and drug abuse than gay and lesbian people.

I was happy to believe him. We had a good life, a nice home. I wanted to save our marriage. We went to counselling. We made love.

But every so often I’d have a snoop. And I’d find a ticket to a gay club, or find a receipt for a gay sex toy.

She wanted to believe him, but clearly didn’t trust him.  I don’t actually quite understand what Smith believed.  Clearly her husband was (and presumably still is) attracted to women as well as men.  You know, the definition of bisexuality is attraction to more than one gender, so Peter is doing a great job of that.

Smith’s lack of trust is incredibly grating.  She clearly isn’t interested in communicating honestly with Peter, talking to him about establishing boundaries that make her feel safe, talking about what he does.  No, instead she’s “snooping” through his stuff.  Finding a ticket to a gay club, which might just be where he was hanging out with his non-straight friends, or finding receipts for “gay sex toys”.  I have no idea what gay sex toys actually are.  I assume Smith found receipts for buttplugs or other anal play toys – and if he’s using them himself for his own pleasure, I don’t actually understand what her problem is.

I’m trying to put a time line together of this whole relationship mess, and Smith is not very helpful with that… but anyway

I do feel he stole my adult life away. He could have told me before we got married that he felt he was bisexual and wanted an open marriage. He could have told me when I found the postcard that he was gay and given me the chance to start again. He could have told me that like many men – gay or straight – he didn’t want to be monogamous.

Ok… no one steals your life.  Smith gave her time and energy to this relationship and apart from the time at the end when she was an untrusting, biphobic jerk, she seemed to be happy.  Probably apart from the IVF bit, no one likes that.

Maybe, and Smith doesn’t consider this, Peter didn’t know that he was bisexual when they married each other.  Not everyone realises when they hit sexual maturity that they aren’t the societally expected heterosexual.  People do come out late in life.  Also, nowhere in this whole article does Smith say that Peter actually admitted that he cheated on her.  She believes that he has, and I’m sure she would have included it if that conversation occurred and he’d put his hand up and said yes.  So perhaps Peter, and since we don’t know I can’t say for certain, was entirely monogamous with Smith, and apart from hanging out with LGBTI people (not actually a crime) did everything well.

Also, stop with calling this bisexual man gay.  Peter has said repeatedly that he’s not gay, and Smith’s erasure of that is so wrong.

And apart from the Telegraph actually publishing this awful bit of writing, it’s the bit at the end which adds to the harm:

Straight partners of gay, lesbian and transgender people can find confidential support…

That’s ok, bisexual people are definitely a figment of your imagination. I haven’t provided the link to the email address that appears at the bottom of the article, I am not convinced that providing it would actually be a wise move.

Ok, so that was the first of my rants.  The second article which I noticed pretty much erased bisexuals and called bisexual women lesbians was published by The Guardian, “‘Love is always complicated’: Elizabeth Gilbert and the rise of later-in-life lesbians”.

I want to be completely clear here that I accept that there are women who come out later in life as lesbians, and for their own completely valid reasons did not come out earlier.  I also want to state that I accept that people have the right to label themselves.

The last point I just made has the following thoughts from me though.  If bisexuality wasn’t so incredibly stigmatised as an identity, would more people who are attracted to more than one gender use the label?  There are plenty of other labels under the bisexual umbrella (as several of us call it) that are used such as fluid, pansexual, polysexual, etc.  I think that those who identify with any label that suggests that they are non-monosexual is likely to face the same stigma that bisexuals face.

Later-in-life lesbians – women who identify as lesbians or declare same-sex feelings in their 30s, often after serious relationships, marriage and children – have come more into the public consciousness in recent years, with a string of high-profile women publicly leaving heterosexual relationships for female partners.

“Or declare same-sex feelings”… so those who aren’t identifying as lesbians, and are probably bisexual.  The word bisexual does not appear once in this article.  Not once.  It’s so thoroughly erased that this article pretty much states that if a woman comes out as attracted to other women, she can only be identified as a lesbian.

This is despite the following lovely quote from Susie Orbach:

Susie Orbach, who spent more than 30 years with the writer Joseph Schwartz, and had two children with him, before marrying novelist Jeanette Winterson, writes in the Guardian on Friday: “We are finally beginning to recognise that sexuality is neither a binary nor fixed. That love, attraction, identity, attachment and sexuality are more layered and interesting than they have been allowed to be represented in the public space until now and that as their complexity is opened up to us, the crudity of realising you were always gay or always straight is for many people a nonsense.”

And instead of asking why women don’t want to be labelled despite the fact that it would appear that they are bisexual, and instead of examining how non-lesbian women in same-sex relationships find community and operate in a world where they are being mislabelled, we get:

Jan Gooding, chair of Stonewall and group brand director with insurers Aviva, said that women who shift sexuality later in life are often keen not to be labelled in any way – like Gilbert, who does not explicitly refer to herself as a lesbian in her post but rather declares that she loves another woman.

Gooding speaks from experience: she had been married for 16 years “to a very wonderful man” and had two sons when she fell in love with another woman, but said she feels very protective of her husband and children and previous relationship. “People find it difficult to believe that I could fall in love with a woman out of the blue,” she said. “But it does happen, people haven’t necessarily been holding out until middle age. This idea that everybody knows deep down does a great disservice to individual journeys.”

I would love for more people to seize the identity bisexual, to be like Peter and stay firm, insisting that they are bisexual, not gay, not straight.  To state that there is nothing wrong with being bisexual, and that bisexuality is just another sexual orientation along the spectrum that is human sexuality.  This is why I am out.  This is why I am visible.  I want people to know that they can be bisexual and happy, that they can be in relationships with bisexual people and be happy, and that finding community and belonging are important and healthy things to do.

One day the MSM will get it right, and I’ll keep ranting until they do.

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A blog about feminism, religion and stuff… in no particular order