Posted: July 31, 2012 at 8:51 pm | Tags: catholic, Christianity, equal marriage, lgbtiq, media
I was really excited to hear that New Zealand was considering a marriage equality bill, and hoped to avoid reading comment from homophobic alarmists, decrying the current decay of modern society, and stating that allowing “teh gays” to marry will bring about the collapse of civilisation as we know it.
However, today a few people on Twitter linked to a “he said, she said” article from stuff.co.nz which sought comment from Christian religious personnel regarding their thoughts on marriage equality, one Catholic Priest and one Uniting Reverend. The comments from the Catholic Priest, Father Merv Duffy were jaw-droppingly astounding, and so ranty pants strapped on, I’m all prepared to have a go.
Posted: July 27, 2012 at 9:44 pm | Tags: Feminism, geek, Indigenous Australia, pirates
So the blog has been a bit quiet, here are some things to read and go, “hmmm” at.
From Geek Feminism, “How Science-Geek Culture Discourages Female Science-Geeks“:
Math and science are hard. I worried that when I found something challenging in math or science, it was because I was a girl and lacked the mental machinery to understand it. (I thought of myself as a “girl”, because I was still technically a teenager.) I accepted evolution. Many times, I had panick attacks over the possibility that I had innate, hard-wired mental limitations. Before graduating with a science degree, I was unproven. There was no proof that I could be a science person, but I already saw mountains of scientific evidence suggesting that I could not be a science person. Unproven male geeks don’t struggle with science research telling them that they can’t do science when they start to try.
I was reminded, somewhere, of the story of Cheng I Sao, and the fact that Natalie Kim wrote the comic of her life which will be published sometime in 2012. More information here.
Thanks to Twitter I found this amazing article on archaeologists and the Jawoyn people of the Northern Territory. Apart from the title, and repeated use of the phrase “pre-history”, I was really excited to read about the collaborative relationship between the archaeologists and the Jawoyn people, and the information and artefacts that are being found. From “Dreamtime cave: rewriting pre-history“:
The 2010 dig at Gabarnmung also unearthed a piece of a basaltic stone axe 4cm long and 2.5cm wide, lying about 50cm below the cave floor. It was not so startling to find a stone axe. Ancient people have been smashing two rocks together to produce stone tools for more than two million years. What was different about this axe was that someone had sat down with a stone and skilfully ground it until a sharp edge was made. Under the microscope the parallel striations wrought by the patient toolmaker are evident. Stone toolmaking was, like writing, one of those technological milestones that evolved independently in different civilisations. But the Gabarnmung axe supports evidence that it was people in Eastern Asia, New Guinea and Australia who got there first. Throughout Australasia ground axes are found at ages greater than 20,000 years; in Europe, Africa and West Asia, the oldest ground axes are 8,000-9,000 years old.
Perhaps the Gabarnmung axe was used to chop pieces of goanna for the cooking fire. When its owner left the cave for the season, the axe must have slipped into the charcoals – the same charcoal now carbon-dated to 35,500 years old. This is a very, very old ground axe – older than ancient ground axes previously found in New Guinea, China or Japan. It is, in fact – for now – the world’s oldest ground axe. The Jawoyn ancestors were the innovators of their time.
From Women’s Web, an interview with Christine Gordon:
‘A REAL FEMINIST’
But if you a feminist, if you are a real feminist in the sense that it is something that is so inescapable from you, that you really can’t imagine a time when you are not saying ‘hang on, that doesn’t seem quite right to me’, or if you are not promoting a woman who is younger than you, then you are not quite at home.
It took no time at all for the Readings Bookshop to start celebrating International Women’s Day and promoting the works of Melbourne feminists.
I can’t remember who it was who said this, but she said that you have to keep re-inventing yourself, you have to keep finding areas that you can work in.
Every ten years or so there is a call to arms, in a way. There is something occurring that is so vital that you have to get behind it, there is something so wrong with the way we are living and thinking that you have to get on board, and you have no choice.
For me, feminism has been like that. From my teenage years I have felt I have no choice. It is about social justice.
Posted: July 10, 2012 at 10:35 pm | Tags: asylum seekers, Christianity, media, migration, politics, privilege, racism, Religion
Tony Abbott said the following today (in the Australian, article titled: Abbott slams boatpeople as un-Christian*)
TONY Abbott yesterday claimed boatpeople were acting in an un-Christian manner by “coming through the back door” and should not be encouraged to “jump the queue” with people-smugglers.
Asked on ABC Perth radio why his attitude to asylum-seekers was unchristian, the Opposition Leader responded: “I don’t think it’s a very Christian thing to come in by the back door rather than the front door.
“And I’m all in favour of Australia having a healthy and compassionate refugee and humanitarian intake program.
“I think that’s a good thing. But I think the people we accept should be coming the right way and not the wrong way.
“If you pay a people-smuggler, if you jump the queue, if you take yourself and your family on a leaky boat, that’s doing the wrong thing, not the right thing, and we shouldn’t encourage it.”
Posted: July 7, 2012 at 2:40 pm | Tags: ACL, Christianity, equal marriage, lgbtiq, media, Religion
Malcolm Turnbull gave a speech on equal marriage and how perhaps Australia should have civil unions first as several other countries have, in order to demonstrate that the sky won’t fall in if same-sex relationships are recognised. I’m not going to engage in this debate here other than to say I support marriage equality now.
The Age wrote about this today, and for some reason quoted Lyle Sheldon from the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL), I have no idea why:
The Australian Christian Lobby, which is campaigning against the gay marriage legislation, is warning the Labor Party it risks the creation of a US style religious right if it continues to push for a change to the definition of marriage.
“At the moment both sides [of politics] have policies that appeal to Christians but this issue is damaging Labor,” the lobbby’s chief of staff, Lyle Shelton, said.
Mr Shelton said the rise of the religious right in America had been “polarising politics horribly” and “we don’t need that in Australia at all”.
Now, how I look at this collection of statements is as follows, the Australian Labour Party (ALP), for the most part, supports marriage equality. The ACL warn that if the ALP continues to support marriage equality and not the ACL’s favourite form of bigotry, then there is the potential for the (small) religious right to get political and active in Australia, the way that the religious right is active in the US. The ACL are suggesting that if the ALP continues to support (for the most part) marriage equality, then Australian Christians (and by this suggestion they think most of them although this is not the case) will abandon the ALP and will form their own political party. The ACL go on to suggest that this is a bad thing.
Here’s a small hint for the ACL. Australia has been for many years now a far less religious country than the US. To even suggest that the religious right (such as the ACL) could suddenly be more polarising and horrible than they already are is somewhat laughable. It is sad that the ACL has focused so much energy and fear marriage equality when the majority of Australia is on-board with the idea.
As we know the ACL is linked to the religious right in the US and Dominionism. I suspect their “Warning, warning, you will create the religious right in Australia” is far more of a “YAY RELIGIOUS RIGHT”.
If the ACL want to stop “polarising politics horribly” they should just get out of the marriage equality debate and stop spreading fear and bigotry. After all they cannot know the mind of their god, they cannot practice unconditional love while denying rights and recognition to others and there are so many other social justice issues to look at, poverty, war, the continuation of the NT Intervention, etc. So many issues where Christian compassion, unconditional love, and care can be better spent, in my opinion, than continuing to fear a group who just want to be like everyone else.
Posted: July 4, 2012 at 9:16 pm | Tags: Christianity, genetics, ivf, media, Religion
On 3 July, The Age published an article called, “Couples use IVF to pick genes” discussing how IVF has advanced to the stage where couples with some genetic diseases or susceptibilities can now screen out embryos (that is an important word there, remember that one for later) who carry the genes for those diseases or susceptibilities. I’ll let the article explain more:
FERTILE women with genes that predispose them to breast and ovarian cancers are using IVF treatment at two Melbourne clinics to select embryos without the genes.
In a new trend that has heightened ethicists’ fears of ”designer babies”, Australian IVF specialists say women are spending thousands of dollars on a technique called preimplantation genetic diagnosis to select embryos without the same genetic issues.
The women involved carry mutations of the BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 genes, which give them a 60-80 per cent chance of getting breast cancer in their lifetime.
Those with BRCA 1 also have a 30-60 per cent chance of getting ovarian cancer while those with BRCA 2 have a 5-20 per cent chance of getting ovarian cancer.
Posted: July 4, 2012 at 8:28 pm | Tags: bisexuality, body, body image, Christianity, equal marriage, Feminism, gender roles, growing up, lgbtiq, media, Religion, violence
I’ve been distracted with my current Cook Book Project so haven’t been blogging as much, and this linkspam is pretty much the entire month of June, and the first few days of July.
Today, I discovered a new blog, thanks to @DeadlyBloggers on Twitter called, “Rantings of an Aboriginal Feminist“, and I love her most recent post, “A total and hairy non-issue“:
My own personal journey with depilating is probably similar to other women, particularly in western countries. I had grown up noticing my mother shave her legs, and seeing women with smooth legs on TV and all around me, and at what is probably a ridiculously young age (about 8 ) I deemed my own legs too hairy and shaved them for the first time. I cut them to bits with Dad’s rusty old Gillette Blue 2, and didn’t try that again for another year or so. I’d call my “need” to shave an “unconscious social intervention” as it was based on observation and “normalising messages” hitting me from a very young age. But what was a completely conscious one was when mum took me aside at about 11 or 12 and showed me how to shave my armpits. From that point onwards, I was paranoid of raising my arm if I hadn’t shaved. It wasn’t mum’s fault as nearly every girl in my school seemed to be in the same boat, if not then, then over the coming years.
After a spike in traffic on my blog, and specifically regarding my post about Dan Savage’s biphobia, I wondered what he’d done this time. Apparently he’d used a derogatory comment in relation to GOProud, a coalition of LGBT Republicans and their straight allies. *trigger warning for homophobic language* From the Huffington Post, “Dan Savage and the Other, Uglier F-Word“.
A great article discussing the myth that bisexuals don’t exist called, “Gay or Straight, Most People Think Bisexuality Isn’t Real” from the Philly Post:
There are many people who feel attraction to both genders—or who are indifferent to gender entirely, who are just attracted to people and deal with the gendered parts when things get intimate. How is it possible that high-schoolers think it’s chic (though a little passe) to be bi, but our mouthpieces of popular celebrity culture don’t know what to do with famous people who have fluid sexuality?
Even after all these years of progress and activism related to sexual orientation and gender, there remains a core disbelief among gay and straight that bisexuality exists. Some think it’s a phase girls go through in college; others think it’s a bullshit position a guy takes because he’s afraid to be gay. It’s not validated on either side of the aisle, so to speak. So bisexuals disappear into headlines: Frenchie Davis is a lesbian. Score 1 for the absolutist team.
Another article on bisexuality, this time from the Windy City Media Group titled, “Series on bisexuality looks to document diversity in sexual behaviors“:
Bisexuality is sometimes looked on with confusion from both the heterosexual and homosexual communities. Researchers from Indiana University conducted a series of studies recently to explore how the stigma and stereotypes of behaviorally bisexual individuals stands up to reality, and how these men and women are actually living out their sexual lives.
“I was really surprised to find, among some of the guys, how they weren’t open at all about their sexuality,” he said. “For a lot of them, it had been the first time they’d ever talked to someone about engaging in sexual behavior with both men and women. There was a lot of stigma, even shame from both gay and straight friends and family members about bisexuality that was above and beyond just typical stigma. For some of them it really did seem like they were clearly linking that with having mental health issues, like feeling depressed or anxious or not comfortable with their sexuality because they felt like they were sort of the only ones. So in terms of the needs for actually doing this type of research, it was really validated.”
No Place for Sheep wrote a piece about “Belief versus human rights“, in relation to Gillard’s (Aussie PM) personal beliefs about marriage equality impacting the human rights of the LGBTIQ community. I recommend this post even though the BTIQ part of the spectrum are missing somewhat in the post.
Be that as it may, the fights led me to thinking about belief. While I agree that everyone is entitled to their beliefs, I don’t agree that everyone is entitled to act on those beliefs to the detriment of others. Once a belief is extrapolated from the personal realm and used to determine the lives of others it is no longer personal, it is political.
Personal belief can legitimately determine the course of one’s own life. If you don’t believe same-sex marriage is right, for example, then don’t make a same-sex marriage. Nobody in our country will force you into an arrangement that powerfully disturbs your moral sensibility.
What disturbs me, however, is the argument that personal beliefs ought to be set apart from the interrogations we are at liberty to apply to all other human processes. The personal belief is elevated to the sacred, inspiring respect and reverence simply because it is a personal belief, and regardless of its substance. While I find this bizarre, hinting as it does at some transcendental exterior governance, I have little problem with it, as long as the belief remains in the realm of the personal. When it becomes prescriptive, I argue that it is no longer protected from scrutiny and critique by reverence.
It turns out that Mitt Romney doesn’t like bisexuals or trans* people (well there is a surprise) to the point where those words in a anti-bullying guide resulted in the guide not being produced/endorsed by his office, “No mention of ‘bisexual,’ ‘transgender’ under Romney“:
Former governor Mitt Romney’s administration in 2006 blocked publication of a state antibullying guide for Massachusetts public schools because officials objected to use of the terms “bisexual’’ and “transgender’’ in passages about protecting certain students from harassment, according to state records and interviews with current and former state officials.
Romney aides said publicly at the time that publication of the guide had been delayed because it was a lengthy document that required further review. But an e-mail authored in May of that year by a high-ranking Department of Public Health official – and obtained last week by the Globe through a public records request – reflected a different reason.
Two pieces, one from Novel Activist, “Martha Nussbaum: Objectification, Sexualisation and Conservative Hypocrisy” and the other from No Place for Sheep, “What is objectification, anyway?“:
There’s an almost constant stream of allegations of objectification through sexualisation currently being made in Western society. These are leveled by concerned citizens against much popular culture, and based largely on images of women that culture produces. These allegations presume an objectifying gaze, that is, they insist the viewer will inevitably reduce women portrayed in certain ways to objects to be used for sexual gratification, rather than seeing them as equal human beings. Clothing, facial expressions and postures are used as signifiers of objectification, as well as language.
The signifiers chosen by concerned citizens are based on a Judeo-Christian perception of the adult female body as unruly, dangerous and indecent, and requiring concealment except in specific circumstances such as marriage and other committed monogamous relationships. Clothing that reveals too much of the body’s “private” zones is regarded as transgressing moral codes, as are postures and language that imply female sexual desire, and/or stimulate male “lust.”
An introductory post and a follow up three post series on “Christian Fundamentalist Homophobia: It Really Is About Fear” (introduction, part 1, part 2, part 3) from the phoenix and the olive branch *trigger warning for homophobic language and hate speech (excerpts from all four posts):
I was raised to be homophobic. Oh, my church had lots of ways to deflect the label when it was applied to us, but deep down, I was afraid. The other kids were afraid, too. When pressed, we would spew lines like “hate the sin, love the sinner” or “I’m not afraid of gay people, I just disagree with their lifestyle.” (That one confuses me now: how can you “disagree” with someone else’s life? It’s not about disagreement, it’s about disapproval.) There’s always this old favorite, too: “They don’t even know they’re in sin; they’re deceived. We need to pray for them.” Thing is, all of this masks a genuine, visceral, inculcated fear. I wasn’t raised to have a vague, condescending, pious pity for LGBTQ people. I was raised to be violently afraid of them.
In my church, homophobia was a matter of course. We didn’t spend a lot of time hashing out the Scriptural arguments against homosexuality. Occasionally Paul and Leviticus were cited, but more often, sermons would rattle out evidence of modern depravity along these lines: “…and Satan has so perverted this generation that it thinks there’s nothing wrong with divorce, abortion, contraception, homosexuality, and girls throwing their babies in trash cans and doing drugs.” Defiance of gender roles was just one of the most obvious signs of demonic control.
Whether or not my church explicitly intended for me to receive this message, I understood homosexuality as one of an array of perversions. Homosexuality, promiscuity, pedophilia drug addiction, alcoholism, cheating, self-harm, unwed pregnancy and abortion were not treated as separate issues. I was afraid of gay people because I was taught that it was impossible to be gay or lesbian without partaking in all of the above.
These rhetorical strategies also reveal fundamentalist Christianity’s basic approach to LGBTQ identities: they are symptoms of an overactive sexuality. The demon that leads men to pornography and women to prostitution is the same one that causes sexual attraction to break out of the appropriate boxes. Fundamentalists don’t fully accept LGBTQ identities as categories. Instead, they see them as temporary stopping points on the way to total depravity. Hence their slippery slope arguments and their conviction that you can “pray away the gay.” The implication is that if you don’t “pray away the gay,” you’re mere moments away from self-harm and child molestation. [emphasis in original]
I have one final thing to offer to the “hate the sin, love the sinner” crowd from the other side of the fence they built to keep us illegal Christians out:
Unconditional love does not mean loving someone while disapproving of their actions. It means forsaking the right to disapprove. You cannot love who I am and hate what I do. What I do shows you who I am.If you choose to love a figment of your imagination, some idea of who I might become, then you love only your own mind, and what you hate is me. [emphasis in original]
Another post from the phoenix and the olive branch, “Bedroom Submission, Birth Control and Tokophobia” on the harm of Christian Patriarchy on women and the author herself *trigger warning for discussion of rape*:
Worse yet, in my church, women were told we were merely “incubators” for male seed. A man’s children were his; a woman’s children were also his. There was effectively no difference between a man’s children from another marriage or the children a man and woman had together. All belonged to the father. The mother was just the vice president: a useful source of authority in her husband’s absence, but ultimately powerless.
Pregnancy and babies, to me, signaled the dehumanization of women. Once women became mothers, they were trapped forever, at the mercy of their husbands. I looked at pregnant bellies and I saw swollen bee stings inflicted by aggressive overlords. In darker moments, I imagined myself committing suicide if I became pregnant. Abortion would save my life (a desperate realization that shocked me a little bit), but I would be cast out on my face. Pregnancy therefore looked like the end of the road. A death sentence. Once the wedding bells rang, I was a soul without a body in the eyes of the church. [emphasis in original]