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Thank FSM it’s the end of 2014 Linkspam


So life has been incredibly hectic with end of the year shenanigans, and now I’m on leave, Christmas is over, and I have a game downloading, let me share with you all the interesting things I’ve found over the past few months.  I should do these on a more frequent interval, and maybe that’s something that can happen next year.  I’m going to categorise these for ease of reading/writing.

LGBTIQ

At Queerty, “Officer Speaks Candidly About Life And Struggles As A Bisexual Man Inside The Salvation Army“:

“Despite all of this negative information you have received concerning how the Salvation Army treats the LGBT community,” he says. “I enjoy the ministry we have. I love helping people out. I’m not in it for the money. I’m here to serve God by helping others. That being said, if I were to [publicly] go against my superiors, I would be terminated immediately and be left homeless.”

At the Bisexual Community Tumblr, “The difference between monosexism and biphobia“:

Monosexism causes bisexual erasure (from media, literature, art, TV and film, etc.), it causes discrimination when it comes to activist priorities, budgeting, etc. It causes the social isolation that leads many bis to have poor health and mental health, and prevents proper treatment and support that might help alleviate them. It keeps bi people “low” on the “pecking order” and creates all sorts of oppression. I see monosexism as the main factor responsible for all the horrible statistics in the Bisexual Invisibility report, for example.

So, basically, monosexism is the system, the base structure. It is everything which isn’t directly aimed at bi* people but nonetheless has the effect of eradicating our existence or legitimacy.

Emma Sleath writes at the ABC, “I am intersex: Shon Klose’s story“:

“I would like to see a world where no one identifies as either male or female, but that we just acknowledge each other as human beings.”

Milo Todd writes at Everyday Feminism, “5 Ways That Bi Erasure Hurts More Than Just Bisexual People“:

This year, Bisexual Awareness Day/Celebrate Bisexuality Day was on September 23rd.

That same day, the National LGBTQ Task Force thought it’d be a good idea to post an article entitled “Bye Bye Bi, Hello Queer,” in which leadership programs director Evangeline Weiss said “she is ready ‘to say bye bye to the word bisexuality.’

She said it does not describe her sexual orientation, and she encouraged readers to cease using the word as well as she felt it reinforced a binary concept of gender.

Let me drive that home a little more. The National LGBTQ Task Force not only thought it would be a good idea to publish an article insulting, misrepresenting, and forsaking the bisexual letter in their own name, but did so on Celebrate Bisexuality Day.

Indigenous Australia

M.H.Monroe at Aus Thru Time writes, “Eel Farming“:

To exploit this abundant seasonal food source, the Aborigines constructed an elaborate system of traps and even canals that were on a scale that could be considered to be engineering. Among the sites where these structures were built of stone and still remain are Ettrick (Mainsbridge Weir site), Lake Condah, Toolondo and Mt William.

A detailed study of the trap network has been carried out at Lake Condah, the publication they produced is Aboriginal Engineering of the Western Districts of Victoria. The study found many stone races (above ground canals), canals, and stone walls, up 1 m high by 1 m wide made from black volcanic rocks that are common in the area. These walls were often more than 50 m long. Channels had been dug into the basalt bedrock that were up to 1 m deep and extended for up to 300 m.

Feminism

Philip Oltermann writes at The Guardian, “Forgotten fairytales slay the Cinderella stereotype“:

Once upon a time … the fairytales you thought you knew had endings you wouldn’t recognise. A new collection of German folk stories has Hansel and Gretel getting married after an erotic encounter with a dwarf, an enchanted frog being kissed not by a damsel in distress but by a young man, and Cinderella using her golden slippers to recover her lover from beyond the moon.

The stash of stories compiled by the 19th-century folklorist Franz Xaver von Schönwerth – recently rediscovered in an archive in Regensburg and now to be published in English for the first time this spring – challenges preconceptions about many of the most commonly known fairytales.

Elena Glassman, Neha Narula and Jean Yang write at Wired, “MIT Computer Scientists Demonstrate the Hard Way That Gender Still Matters“:

As computer science PhD students, we were interested in fielding questions about programming, academia, MIT CSAIL, and how we got interested in the subject in the first place. As three of the few women in our department and as supporters of women pursuing STEM [Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics], we also wanted to let people know that we were interested in answering questions about what it is like to be women in a male-dominated field. We decided to actively highlight the fact that we were three female computer scientists doing an AMA, to serve as role models in a field that’s less than 20 percent female.

As it turned out, people were extremely interested in our AMA, though some not for the reasons we expected. Within an hour, the thread had rocketed to the Reddit front page, with hundreds of thousands of pageviews and more than 4,700 comments. But to our surprise, the most common questions were about why our gender was relevant at all. Some people wondered why we did not simply present ourselves as “computer scientists.” Others questioned if calling attention to gender perpetuated sexism. Yet others felt that we were taking advantage of the fact that we were women to get more attention for our AMA.

Marguerite Del Giudice writes at National Geographic, “Why It’s Crucial to Get More Women Into Science“:

So what difference does it make when there is a lack of women in science? For one, it means women might not get the quality of health care that men receive.

It’s now widely acknowledged that countless women with heart disease have been misdiagnosed in emergency rooms and sent home, possibly to die from heart attacks, because for decades what we know now wasn’t known: that they can exhibit different symptoms from men for cardiovascular disease. Women also have suffered disproportionately more side effects from various medications, from statins to sleep aids, because the recommended doses were based on clinical trials that focused largely on average-size men.

Nicole Hernandez Froio writes at Words by Nicole Froio, “On misogyny in the gay community“:

Even if I could say which group is worse, that’s not the point (and it will never be the point). Misogyny in the gay community exists and it has to be addressed. The worst way to go about it is to say: “Wah! But straight guys are even worse!” That’s just shifting blame and denying that, even though you are oppressed in one instance, you were still raised in a patriarchal society that teaches hatred of women and femininity.

Race/Racism

Imran Siddiquee writes at The Atlantic, “The Topics Dystopian Films Won’t Touch“:

Whenever Hollywood does get an opportunity to talk about race in one of these movies, it minimizes the subject. Characters of color like Beetee, Cinna (Lenny Kravitz), who mentored Katniss, or Christina, Tris’s best friend in Divergent (played by Kravitz’s daughter Zoe), certainly play major roles in these stories, but their race is never at issue. You might say that this is an example of admirably “colorblind” filmmaking—were it not for the fact that the audience’s perspective is always that of a white protagonist.

To an extent, the diversity of characters depends on the source material, but producers typically have some leeway in casting decisions. Suzanne Collins, in her original novel, does not explicitly describe Katniss as Anglo-Saxon (she has “olive skin”), so it’s actually the filmmakers who make the decision to default to white. In fact, Collins intentionally leaves many lead characters in the novels racially ambiguous, creating a more integrated and nuanced world.

Nicholas Kristof at The New York Times writes, “A Shooter, His Victim and Race”:

IAN MANUEL is a black man who has spent most of his life in prison. Yet he still has a most unusual advocate calling for his release: a white woman whom he met when he shot her in the face.

Manuel fired the bullet when he was barely 13, and he fit all too neatly into racial stereotypes, especially that of the black predator who had to be locked away forever. One of the greatest racial disparities in America is in the justice system, and fear of young black criminals like Manuel helped lead to mass incarceration policies that resulted in a sixfold increase in the number of Americans in prison after 1970. Yet, as his one-time victim points out (speaking with a reconstructed jaw), it’s complicated.

Marlene Halser at ynet writes, “German village plays prank on neo-Nazis“:

Instead of taking the neo-Nazis seriously, this time they decided to play a prank on them. Under the slogan “Right against right: (“rechts gegen rechts”), Wunsiedel’s residents gave the neo-Nazis’ march a new purpose.

For each meter the neo-Nazis marched last Saturday throughout the village, local companies donated 10 euro for a project called “Exit”, a NGO that supports neo-Nazis who are ready to leave the milieu.

Cool things

Simon Leo Brown writes at ABC, “Melbourne street art featured in new photo book, Street Art Now by Dean Sunshine“:

Street Art Now is Dean Sunshine’s second book on Melbourne street art.

“At the end of the day [street art] is all ephemeral, it’s not designed to last,” he told 774 ABC Melbourne’s Libbi Gorr.

“If it did last forever, then you’d have nothing to go back and see, there would be nothing fresh.”

He said the constant turnover helped improve street art, with artists pushing themselves to create better work.

Mallory Ortberg writes the perfect response to hearing both sides of an argument at The Toast, “We Regret To Announce That Your Request Of “Gotta Hear Both Sides” Has Been Denied

Reproductive Justice

Joe Gelonesi at Radio National writes, “The metaphysics of pregnancy“:

By all accounts, this seems like a question about the structure of reality; the meat and potatoes of metaphysics. So why is there an absence of interest? For Kingma, this hints at an elemental division.

‘I suspect that maybe it hasn’t been very obvious as a topic because the kind of people who have traditionally done analytic philosophy wouldn’t have been very closely involved with pregnancies. They would not have been pregnant themselves or even been close to pregnant partners.’

It does scream of gender inequity in the higher reaches of the hard-headed end of town; men do analytic philosophy in greater numbers and they might be searching elsewhere in the grand structure of the universe for questions and problems. However, Kingma does concede some less cynical reasons.

‘I explained my theory to a friend and she turned to me and said, “No—the real reason is that it’s too difficult. This stuff is difficult enough without getting pregnancy involved”.’

Jessica Mason Pieklo writes at RH Reality Check, “Pregnant Wisconsin Woman Jailed Under State’s ‘Personhood’-Like Law“:

After submitting to a urinalysis, Loerstcher disclosed her past drug use to hospital workers. But instead of caring for Loerstcher, who as it turns out was 14 weeks pregnant, hospital workers had her jailed.

Politics

Ben Pobjie writes, “Hyper-Auto-Repellence: A Personal Plea“:

It’s not that I hate Christopher Pyne. I mean, I do, but that’s not the important thing here. The important thing is that every word out of his mouth, every action he takes, every step in his life up to now, has seemed perfectly calculated to force me to hate him. And frankly, though I hate the man, I also worry about him. When a fellow is so desperate to be disliked that he stands in parliament to merrily spit in the face of the old man who just died, there is something quite concerning going on behind his smooth, shiny facade.

Ben Eltham writes for New Matilda, “G20 Summit Was The Icing On Abbott’s Horror Year“:

But hosting a big summit? That really should be a free kick. Mingling with nearly every major figure in global politics is almost the definition of prime ministerial and statesmanlike. A big summit like the G20 also delivers blanket media coverage for the government of the day, sidelining its critics and relegating opposition parties to bit parts. On the television news, which is still where most voters get their political news, images dominate: handshakes and flag-waving, red carpets and koala cuddles.

Needless to say, these should be positive moments for an incumbent. That was certainly the Coalition’s plan: after all, it has made a more assertive foreign policy its leit motif ever since MH17, in large part to distract from Joe Hockey’s unpopular budget.

It takes a special sort of mismanagement, therefore, to stuff up such a golden opportunity. And yet, somehow, that is what has occurred.

Jazz Twemlow writes at Junkee, “Five Things The Government Could Cut Instead Of The ABC“:

#4. School Chaplaincy Program!

Right right. Broken planes, megalomaniacal walking scrotum with eyes, desolate earth. You love all of them. Got it.

But how about school chaplains? In Joe Hockey’s budget, school chaplains were allocated $243 million — almost exactly as much as the ABC’s cuts — yet they remain less appealing than being locked in the back of a meat truck with anyone from the Gamergate hashtag.

Seriously, take the Government’s school chaplaincy program out of context, put it anywhere else, and ask if you’d still like to splash out $243 million. What about a University Warlocks Program? Postgraduate Palm-Readers, anyone?

No Place for Sheep writes, “Abbott uses taxpayer dollars to narrow divide between church and state“:

Under the Abbott government’s proposed education reforms, taxpayers will fund bible studies colleges and the training of priests while support for secular universities will be cut.

Abbott has already flagged that his government will provide $244 million for a new school chaplaincy scheme while removing  the option for schools to employ secular welfare workers. The only possible explanation for this is that it’s the government’s intention to impose Christian ideology on students in secular public schools.

Rape Culture

Kate Harding writes at Dame Magazine, “Hey, Jian Ghomeshi, I Call B.S.!“:

I do not know for sure whether Ghomeshi is an abuser or the victim of an elaborate revenge campaign. But here’s what I do know for sure: He is asking us to believe that multiple former sex partners have chosen to accuse him of sexual violence—not the fun kind—in solidarity with one particularly bitter ex.

It’s not just that one woman is so angry about being rejected by him that she falsely accused him of criminal behavior. It’s that she rounded up a bunch of other women, who all agreed they would lie to reporters in an effort to smear an innocent man. He has done nothing wrong, nothing non-consensual, yet all of these women hated him enough to conspire to get him fired and publicly humiliate him. They “colluded” to establish a false “pattern of [nonconsensual, potentially life-threatening] behavior.” Because one of them was rilly, rilly mad.

Gamer Gate and online harassment

Stacy W at Who Let The Bees In writes, “Gamergate and Harassment: Learning Lessons Over Time“:

Every couple of days I got another email. Sometimes several in a day. I didn’t tell anyone about it, not friends, not my husband, not anyone. Usually I deleted them without reading. Sometimes I would read them. Most of the time they were filled with “shut your mouth you selfish slut,” or some such things. I thought the harassment was just a part of standing up against Gamergate. I had a fairly neutral tone that was on the side of against Gamergate, though I didn’t dislike anyone actively in Gamergate.
But someone had taken a deep, personal dislike in me.

Zoe Quinn writes, “Let’s Talk About Ethics In Games Journalism!“:

Putting the toxicity and hatred that has predominated GamerGate aside for a minute, the other defining trait of it is its blatant, transparent hypocrisy and doublespeak.

At We Hunted the Mammoth, David Futrelle writes, “Meme of the week: Is “Actually, it’s about ethics in games journalism” the new “Not all men?”

At srhongamergate, “Collection of #gamergate Misconceptions & Lies

Clickhole wrote a brilliant tongue in cheek article, “A Summary Of The Gamergate Movement That We Will Immediately Change If Any Of Its Members Find Any Details Objectionable

At We Hunted the Mammoth, David Futrelle writes, “Presented with evidence of one of their own sexually harassing a woman, GamerGaters deny and deflect and offer excuses

Soraya Chemaly at Huffington Post writes, “12 Examples: Pew’s Online Harassment Survey Highlights Digital Gender Safety“:

Many people are inclined to argue in somewhat unhelpful and binary fashion that “men are harassed online more than women,” and leave it at that, but the details matter. Women are much more likely to experiencing stalking, sexual harassment and sustained harassment online. Men are more frequently called “offensive names,” or be “purposefully embarrassed,” and, while men indicate that they are marginally more likely to experience physical threats, stalking and physical threats overlap. “Young women,” researchers concluded, “experience particularly severe forms of online harassment.”

Gamergate, the most recent example of what misogyny looks like online, illustrates several of the findings of the Pew Report, particularly in the way that it illustrates the seamlessness of online and offline violence and demonstrates the problems social media companies face when they promise to keep users safe.

Max Read at Gawker writes, “How We Got Rolled by the Dishonest Fascists of Gamergate“:

Unable to run Alexander out of game writing, as they had with the writer Jenn Frank, or force her from her home, as they did to the developer Brianna Wu, or threaten her from public engagements, as they did the following week to the critic and activist Anita Sarkeesian, Gamergate went after her publisher. And, in an unbelievable and embarrassing act of ignorance and cowardice, Intel capitulated. The company’s laughable “apology,” released late on that Friday afternoon, didn’t cover up the fact of Gamergate’s victory: Intel was not replacing its ads.

Failing to adequately cover this act of spinelessness was the first big fuck-up we at Gawker committed. Intel surrendered to the worst kind of dishonesty, and we allowed it to do so without ever calling it out. So let’s say it now: Intel is run by craven idiots. It employs pusillanimous morons. It lacks integrity. It folded to misogynists and bigots who objected to a woman who had done nothing more than write a piece claiming a place in the world of video games. And even when confronted with its own thoughtlessness and irresponsibility, it could not properly right its wrongs.

Yonatan Zunger, Chief Architect at Google wrote on Google +:

It’s come to my attention that I haven’t yet made a public statement specifically about #GamerGate. But as it’s come up in a few threads, at this point, I think it’s about time that I made my position on this matter absolutely clear.

“GamerGate” is a lie from beginning to end. It has exactly three parts to it: it has its core, which is and has been from the very first day about allowing and preserving a “gamer culture” which is actively hostile to women (among others), and preserving it by means of threats, harassment, and violence towards anyone who ever suggests that it should be otherwise.

Chris Plante writes at The Verge, “Gamergate is dead“:

Gamergate died ironically from what it most wanted: mainstream exposure.

The threats aimed at women made by many of its most radical members received attention through mainstream online news outlets, the front page of The New York Times, and yesterday evening, the satirical television program, The Colbert Report. Interviewing Anita Sarkeesian, who has received numerous death threats for her feminist critique of video games, the conservative television host character “Stephen Colbert” became a feminist. When a fictional ideal of repressive rhetoric thinks your movement is too much, then it’s time to reconsider.

Dan Golding writes, “Some things I should’ve said“:

  1. Pretty much all the ‘gamers are dead’ articles (not to mention a huge amount of mainstream press subsequent to gamergate’s eruption) cite either Leigh Alexander or I, who posted similar articles within the space of a few hours. Most of them cite us both. But Alexander has been a target of harassment, and with a few pitiful exceptions, I haven’t. Wonder why that might be?
  2. What harassment has stemmed from my post, however, has been those people choosing to pursue Adrienne Shaw, a woman whose research I referred to in my article. There are YouTube videos and imageboard threads trying to pick apart Shaw and her research, to establish a conspiracy that would mean that I had an ulterior reason for quoting her. Shaw seems to have dealt with this attention with a lot more aplomb than I would’ve—she’s a very impressive person.

Mark Serrels at Kotaku Australia writes, “For A Culture At War, PAX Australia Was The Perfect Antidote“:

Eventually the question came. And it was framed exactly as written above: “what about ethics in video game journalism?”

It was asked by a stern looking young man who had had his hand up for quite some time. The question at the time felt vague, ill-formed and very non-specific. I wasn’t quite sure what to make of it. ‘What about ethics in game journalism?’ What about them? How do I feel about them? Sure, they should exist. All journalists should be bound to a certain code of ethics. Do I think game journalism has issues in that area? Absolutely – we can always improve and we should always be looking to improve. But that wasn’t the question really. The question was a loaded gun aimed directly at the panel. That question was: how do you feel about #gamergate? Hashtag ‘Gamergate’.

The other panelists spoke. They said things. Not patronising things, confronting things certainly, but not patronising. Daniel Wilks of Hyper stated unequivocally that if you are going to accuse someone of behaving unethically you had better name names and you had better back up your accusations with hard evidence – absolutely correct. Tim Colwill of games.on.net was, as always, articulate about his views. He insisted he has never himself seen any breaches of ethics during his time as a games journalist.

Then something strange happened.

As I began to address the question, looking the man directly in the eye as I spoke, he calmly decided to stand up out of his chair, turn his back on me and walk out of the theatre. He actually turned his back on me and walked out on the panel as I was speaking directly to him.

Damion Schubert at Zen of Design writes, “Gamergate’s Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Week“:

Yes, this is the week that #GamerGate was too crazy for Breitbart.com.  there were scandals a-plenty in the Land of Ethical Journalism and they were, as you might imagine, all extremely ethical.  This time, though, the bad ethics were coming from INSIDE THE HOUSE! Let’s just take a quick jaunt through the characters with starring roles this week.

Sharon Smith writes at PC Mag, “PAX in the age of Gamer Gate“:

Only once did I witness an audience member reference GamerGate, or more accurately “ethics in journalism” whilst attending a panel filled with games writers and editors. It did not play out as he would have liked. Every member of the panel deflected the question with eloquent responses and refused to mention the hashtag or enter into anything that could become a debate. After being shut down, the questioner decided to leave his front row seat and walk out of the room – to the sarcastic applause of hundreds of people. What was that I could read between the lines? We don’t want that crap here.

As a female member of the press I did not feel any kind of hostility. Developers were keen to talk to me, presenters went out of their way to answer my questions and I was generally treated like, well a normal person. And the crowd? I love those people. Random conversations in queues and shared tables, apologies for the slightest bumps in passing, invitations to join in on demos and games – PAX was the friendliest weekend I can recall ever having.

Anna Merlan writes at Jezebel, “Woman Gets Death Threats for Tweeting About Disliking A Dude’s Shirt“:

The Philae probe touched down on the comet yesterday, making a bumpy landing, but still successfully sending back the first images we’ve ever seen of a comet’s surface. One of the scientists involved, Matt Taylor of the European Space Agency’s Rosetta Project, decided to give an interview about the probe while wearing a polo shirt festooned with colorful images of scantily-clad cartoon ladies.

Yes, it’s just a shirt, whatever. But it’s also not the smartest choice to show that the STEM fields are a super welcoming place for women. And that’s what Rose Eveleth pointed out, a science and tech writer and producer for TheAtlantic and a bunch of other places. She tweeted the above rebuke, a pretty mild one, and was promptly met with all of this mess…

@shanley on who gets protected in white male free speech-land AKA Twitter

Randi Harper writes about her experiences with harassment in the Tech community with, “Still Here, Part 1: A Memoir” and “Still Here, Part 2: Call to Arms

Keith Stuart writes at The Guardian, “Zoe Quinn: ‘All Gamergate has done is ruin people’s lives’“:

The undercurrent, however, has always been darkly misogynistic. The victims of Gamergate’s ire have mostly been female developers, academics and writers. It was an alleged relationship between Zoe Quinn and a prominent games journalist that kickstarted the whole furore this summer. Quinn and several other women have since had to flee their homes after death and rape threats – mostly for pointing out that the games industry has a problem with representing women.

When I speak to her, Quinn has been in the UK for four days. She doesn’t know where she’s going next. She’s been staying on friends’ couches, at hotels. There is no destination.

“How could I go back to my home?” she asks. “I have people online bragging about putting dead animals through my mailbox. I’ve got some asshole in California who I’ve never talked to hiring a private investigator to stalk me. What am I going to do – go home and just wait until someone makes good on their threats? I’m scared that what it’s going to take to stop this is the death of one of the women who’s been targeted.”

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How to be a good parent to your bisexual, lesbian or gay child


I am specifically not writing about trans* or intersex children because I am not trans* nor intersex.  As a bisexual, my advice will fit (mostly) lesbian and gay children of straight parents.

Also, this is not advice for parents who are already awesome and love their non-straight children and their non-straight children’s partners.  This is not advice for parents who are homophobes either – unless you want to get over yourself. 

I am going to use the term “queer” to refer to bisexual, lesbian and gay unless I specifically need to refer to the individual orientations.

So your child isn’t straight, they’ve come out to you as something other than straight, or perhaps you’ve come across that knowledge some other way, and have indicated that although you’re not particularly comfortable with the idea, you still love your child – this is step one in being a good parent.

The next step might be tricky, it might be tricky because you’re from a generation that doesn’t talk much about relationships, or because you mistakenly confuse queer relationships as sex sex sex, and therefore view talking about queer relationships as talking about sex and you’re from a generation that doesn’t talk about sex.

Talk to your child and their partner about things.  Talk to them both, don’t ignore the same-sex partner because you don’t know what to say or how to say it. Relationships between straight people and relationships between queer people are more or less similar.  The differences aren’t so important that they need to be focussed on, and the similarities are where you bond.  If your child is in a relationship with someone of the same gender as themselves, then the conversations about how they met, what they do for a living (if they’re working), their hopes and dreams and the like  are just like the conversations you’d have with your child’s straight partner.  It might seem awkward to you, but that’s ok – feel that awkwardness and own it.  Your child and their partner live that awkwardness as society still mainly considers non heterosexual relationships to be odd, different and sometimes wrong.  Your brief experience of awkwardness while interacting with your queer child and their partner, should be an empathy building exercise for you, you can begin to understand what it is like when your child and their partner exist in the wider world.

One of the most important things you can do when interacting with your child and their partner, is to not see affection between them as wrong or disgusting.  You might indeed find it discomforting, but sit with that, feel it, and then remember empathy.  If you see affection between opposite sex couples as sweet/cute/adorable/lovely/normal, then remember than the affection between your child and their partner is exactly the same. You’ve been conditioned to think otherwise, but don’t for the love of any deity you hold holy, say or do anything that suggests that your comfort and feelings are more important than your child’s.  The more exposure you have to non-straight people, the easier this gets, and the more normal it seems (because it is).

As a straight, not entirely comfortable with queer people, parent – it is your duty as a good parent to love ALL of your child, and to work as hard getting to know their same-sex partners as you would if they brought home an opposite sex partner.  It is your job to come to terms with your own internalised homo/bi/trans-phobia and and banish that from you.  It is your job to educate yourself on the struggles faced by your child.  There are so many people who will happily talk to you about your discomfort, your lack of knowledge regarding the LGBTIQ communities, and who can hold your hand through your own journey to full acceptance – don’t expect your child to do all the work.  As a good parent, show good faith and do most of the work yourself, do not expect your child to carry the burden of your struggle to understand and accept.

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I wandered lonely as a linkspam (October 2014)


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mera Terrha Pakistan writes, “Liveability“:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But in Hanuabada, things are different.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A list of the Nobel Prizes awarded to women

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

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

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

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

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

A Taxonomy of Mansplainers

Debunking the Men’s Rights Movement

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

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

They think it’s a game.

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

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

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

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

Understanding Issues Facing Bisexual Americans (pdf)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It could even enable people to heal faster.

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

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Gamer Gaters are cowards


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

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

Of course, they do all of this anonymously.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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#endGamerGate2014 Linkspam


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

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

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

Anyway, onto the posts!

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

What is #Gamergate?

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

“Ostensibly”?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Brendan Keogh, an Australian game critic wrote at Ungaming:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Republishing: Let’s talk about Islamaphobia


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

——————————-

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

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

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

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

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

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

I might also mention from Wikipedia:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In summary:

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

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Republising: How much do you trust?


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

……………………………

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Further reading:

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

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Republishing: How to radicalise your population


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

……………………….

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sound familiar?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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All the linkspam forever more (September 2014)


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

Feminism

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Sexism

Lara Hogan writes, “On unsolicited criticism“:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Junot Diaz is quoted at Hello, Tailor:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gamer Gate and sexism in gaming

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

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

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

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

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

Posts that I found interesting (otherwise unclassified)

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

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

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

Conscious Capitalism: Can Empathy Change the World?:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Race and Racism

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Disability

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

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

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

LGBTI Issues

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

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

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

Stavvers writes, “I am cis“:

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

Nope.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Prejudice at Pride

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 Repro Justice

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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  • Glenn Fleishman Says:

    I went and read George's piece, and it's the usual line, just longer and with more links. You summar...

  • Rebecca Says:

    Hi George, Thanks for dropping by. You don't have to agree with me, the same way I'm not agreeing ...

  • George Says:

    Not not mention the entire section where I offer an actual workable solution to a lot of these issue...

  • George Says:

    Thanks for distilling a long piece with many independent and equally important points raised, along ...

  • Katherine Says:

    This is why I don't follow certain famous people on Facebook and Tumblr anymore. Every time they scr...

  • Mindy Says:

    Wow Bec this is outstanding, and thanks for including me!...

  • Chally Says:

    This is so substantial that I won't even be able to get through all of it in one sitting! Thank you ...

  • James Smith Says:

    Did you really need more proof that christians are judgmental, arrogant, unforgiving, and intolerant...

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