Posted: January 12, 2012 at 10:06 pm | Tags: Language, lgbtiq, media, racism, WTF
Two articles in today’s Age (online) were so jaw-droppingly bad I thought I’d draw everyone’s attention to them. The first is an article sourced from AFP, and appears to have been just been pasted in without any consideration of the AWFUL language included.
The article is titled, “Outrage as naked women dance for tourists in ‘human zoo‘”, seems just from the title, to be an article on tourism exploiting women – and then you read further in, not too much further in, just the first paragraph:
Rights campaigners and politicians have condemned a video showing women from a protected and primitive tribe dancing for tourists in exchange for food on India’s far-flung Andaman Islands.
Primitive? Primitive? According to who? Is there any way that sentence could be any more racist? The women are part of the Jarawa people, an group of people indigenous to the Andaman Islands. How hard is that to say versus “primitive”?
The second article is titled, “Court in same sex tennis furore” is in relation to Margaret Court and her issues with an equal marriage protest/action at the Australian Open. Hoyden About Town blogged very nicely about the issue here.
Part way through the article…
Court, a 24-times grand slam singles champion and a pastor at the Victory Life Centre church in Perth, has long opposed same-sex marriage but sparked a fierce backlash from retired women’s champions Martina Navratilova and Billie Jean King, both homosexuals, when she reiterated her views in a Western Australian newspaper recently.
“both homosexuals”????? I don’t know how Martina Navratilove and Billie Jean King actually identify, but the correct terms most commonly used to describe women in same sex relationships, are lesbian or bisexual. The term homosexual has a negative history from being classed as a mental disorder. Steve Williams has a great blog on the issue here.
To my mind, the word “homosexual” has a very clinical cadence to it, and the emotions it seems to invoke appear to stem from the not too distant past when homosexuality was still thought of as an affliction and a mental disorder. There’s also an inherently androcentric core to the word “homosexual.” Of course, it can be used to refer to both gay and lesbian people, but I’d wager that the word “homosexual” is mostly used in reference to gay men, especially when utilized by social and religious conservatives. Moreover, it probably carries notions of sex and, by extension, anal sex or sodomy, which is usually one of the central pillars of disgust threaded throughout most prejudiced material.
Posted: June 1, 2011 at 10:40 pm | Tags: abuse, Language, minority rights, politics, privilege, WTF
Fucking hell, the Victorian Liberal Party, in their grand “law and order” plan, have decided that instead of having people who are charged with using:
language deemed to be indecent, disorderly, offensive or threatening. (The Age)
go to court, a process which is time consuming and rarely successful (on the point of the prosecutors), that police will now be able to issue an on-the-spot fine of up to $240.
The Age article continues:
The crackdown — which extends the Baillieu government’s ever-growing law-and-order agenda — means police will be able to issue infringement notices for offensive behaviour and indecent language similar to parking and speeding fines.
Attorney-General Robert Clark said the idea was to lower the police workload by allowing them to issue fines instead of tackling bad language using the court system.
“It frees up police time for other law enforcement activities and enables them to more readily issue penalties against those offenders who deserve them,” Mr Clark said.
“By providing police with as many enforcement tools as possible, Parliament is sending a strong signal that people who engage in criminal behaviour can expect to be dealt with under the law.”
Offensive language has been an offence in Victoria since 1966. Swearing — if it is deemed serious enough — can carry a penalty of up to two years’ jail, and is even considered an offence if no one is present to hear it.
In truth, they’ve all been out of bounds since the Act was introduced in 1966, but until 2008 anyone thus charged had to have their case heard in court. That took time and effort and got in the way of more pressing cases. Frankly, who could blame the legal system if it collectively decided it really couldn’t be arsed to hear such matters – matters that Ross Garnaut might feasibly have described as “pissant”? (The Age -another article)
Because saying “FUCK” (and other swears) is clearly criminal behaviour. I didn’t know, until now, that “offensive language” was actually a real offence, and only had been since 1966. I’d also like to know what “offensive language” actually means. Sure it’s almost described with “indecent, disorderly, offensive or threatening” language, but what does that really mean?
How will police define “indecent, disorderly, offensive or threatening” language? Will some groups, as I suspect they will, receive far more leniency from police in relation to swearing than others? Will some groups who have threatening language used towards them (those who are not white, the homeless, the LBGTIQ community, etc) really have an effective response from the police if they report the language used against them?
It has been suggested that this is just an attempt at revenue raising by the Victorian State Government, and I’m inclined to agree. Instead of ensuring that minority groups who already have existing issues with police are protected adequately, this will be further power for some police to put the boot in even more.
Then there is the cultural impact – the fact that people can (and probably will) be fined for swearing at sporting events, live music concerts (Yeah, how is Cee-Lo (warning for NSFW swears) ever going to perform his song in Victoria?), comedy, or the theatre? The Melbourne International Comedy Festival (one of the biggest comedy festivals in Australia -possibly the third biggest in the English speaking world), is worried that the new laws will impact on the festival next year.
Comedian Wil Anderson yesterday tweeted in response to the news. “Victoria announced on-the-spot fines of $240 for indecent language. Suddenly my [comedy festival] show is going to cost me a lot more next year.”
Melbourne International Comedy Festival director Susan Provan said she was taking a wait-and-see approach. “We at the Comedy Festival will be waiting with bated breath for news on what does and does not constitute swearing,” she said. However, she added that the festival may need to consider hiring people “with bleepers in all areas of our activity”.
The Baillieu government is pitching this as part of its ever-expanding law-and-order agenda, but the cynically inclined might wonder if it is not also a blatant revenue-raising exercise. Given the difficulty of successfully prosecuting someone for swearing (or, more broadly, offensive language) in court, this is by and large money the government would not otherwise have had. (The Age)
The Age article the excerpt above is from also defines all the places in which it will be illegal to swear – and about the only place you will be able to swear will be in the privacy of your own home – provided that the public is not gathering there – so not when you’re having a party probably.
In fact, there is little agreement even on what constitutes “offensive” language in 2011, as distinct from 1966. One man’s meat is another man’s cruelly harvested animal flesh, as it were.
In a much-noted ruling in 2002, NSW magistrate David Heilpern observed of the F word that “one would have to live an excessively cloistered existence not to come into regular contact with the word, and not to have become somewhat immune to its suggested previously legally offensive status”. (The Age)
With no fucking clue as to what constitutes offensive language, the potential for this new police power to be massively misused is very high. Personally I’d take the fine to court and ask that the 2002 NSW ruling be taken into account, if I was fined by the police for swearing. I have that luxury and privilege. Those who have minimal incomes, minimal support, and/or an unfamiliarity with the Australian Justice System are going to struggle to have the fine waived, and in many cases struggle to pay the fine.
This is not a law which does anyone any favours if all the attention is put on “offensive” and none on “threatening”. I’d like to see “threatening” strengthened, and a real discussion about whether or not we need to be protected from swears when we’re out in public these days.
Posted: December 7, 2010 at 10:48 pm | Tags: differences, Language, politics, USA
This post is partially inspired by Chally’s post at Feministe, though on different topics, and nowhere near as well written as her piece – which I’ve just re-read and have fallen in love with all over again.
But anyway… here are some issues that I would LOVE the USA to address, because they piss me off no end.
I don’t live in the US
As Chally pointed out, the world does not revolve around you, not even close. You are not the only country that uses the internet, though that must come as a bit of a shock. Internet sites are getting better at noting this, but really, if you are a multinational company, and you sell to countries outside the US, defaulting to the US (especially when you can figure out that my IP is from Australia) is just rude.
Not to mention the number of times when I first started on the internet and put AU as the country code in forums and was asked if I was from Austin…. no, there really are other countries out here.
I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve read about a job vacancy listed in the LinkedIn groups I’m in and someone has listed a two letter state code, which I presume is somewhere in the US. Oddly enough I’m not across your 50 states, where they are, what their capital cities are and how on earth to decode their state abbreviations. If you’re a member of an international forum, for flying spaghetti monster’s sake, just spell out the state if it’s that important to you AND list that this job is in the US (so I can ignore the post and move to the next one). Every other non-US role I’ve seen advertised lists the country – it’s just the USian jobs, which list two letter codes which could be anywhere, which piss me off.
So yes, start looking outside your borders, realise that there is an ENTIRE world out here, with people who use the internet, shop on the internet and who work and job hunt.
Posted: October 21, 2010 at 2:13 pm | Tags: identity, Language, self-labelling
Dear Colleague and everyone else that does this,
I have a small request. If I ask you to not refer to me by a particular name, then don’t. I don’t care if you think it’s funny or cute or sounds interesting, if I ask you to stop using it in relation to me, just do. To not do so, indicates that you don’t respect my wishes and think that your fun, desires, whatever are more important than mine.
I know that it can seem trivial, but there are lots of good reasons why people don’t want to be known by particular names or labels, or want to be known by particular names and labels and it is not your place to judge their desires, and ignoring them suggests that your desire to label them or to call them something is far more important, regardless of the reasons why they don’t want you to.
It is not your place to judge the validity of the reasons why someone refuses a label or name. It should be enough that I can say, “Do not call me X”, without also having to provide a reason behind that. And if I do provide a reason, listen to that reason and respect it, no matter how irrelevant you find it. Because it matters to me, if you respect me then it should matter to you.
Yes, my reasons for not liking the name “Becky” may seem trivial, but I hate that name being applied to me and have threatened violence upon people who have called me that name, unknowingly or otherwise. So when I ask you to not use that name, just don’t. Because when you do, I know that you really don’t respect my wishes about how I want to be known.
Posted: October 18, 2010 at 5:02 pm | Tags: emails, Feminism, sexism, WTF
*Trigger warning – this post discusses language misuse detrimental to women*
I rarely encounter direct sexism (that I notice – different story) in my day to day life. I read about sexism, I comment on sexism in the media, but rarely do I end up calling-out sexism from someone in my day-to-day life. If that makes sense. I’m very, incredibly and wonderfully lucky in that my partners, their partners, my family and my friends are all non-sexist. We’re not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but there is little in the way of direct sexism in my life.
Enter Michael Barnett, a blogger and commentator, and a member of the National LBGTIQ Rights list (Australia) that I’m on. He has a blog, and is currently upset with a female member of the (Melbourne?) Jewish community who has been posting homophobic comments in various forums. He announced his latest blog post on the National LBGTIQ Rights list with:
More deluded rantings from this homophobic Jewish bitch. She really needs to see a vet.
I told Michael that I was upset with the language he’d used to describe the woman he was upset with, and told him that there were plenty of other ways to refer to someone without equating them to an animal or belonging.
Michael, to my surprise (I really don’t know him) refused to apologise stating:
No apologies. Please channel your offence at the viles (sic) homophobes.
I informed Michael that I can be offended at both homophobic behaviour (and individuals) AND people who are sexist and that I would indeed like an apology from him as well as an undertaking to modify his language use. At this point another member of the mailing list pointed out that homophobia and sexism were as vile as each other.
Michael decided at this point to deflect responsibility for his language use onto the individual he was upset with and also to tell me that I was not offended.
I won’t tolerate homophobic rants from vile bitches like [name redacted]*. If you are offended by what I write, I suggest you have a tete-a-tete with [name redacted] and politely ask her to stop writing the offensive material that I don’t like that drives me to write the material you find offensive.
Please don’t get all high and mighty on me. You are not offended. You are being precious. [name redacted] is the problem, not my writings.
So I should redirect my offence to the individual that has upset him, even though Michael’s choice of words, something he is responsible for, was the cause of my offence. I was flabbergasted that someone could even dare to suggest such a thing, and on a relatively public forum at that. I pointed out to Michael that he was responsible for his language use regardless of the actions of another person, and no matter how much that other person upset him – especially as he was reporting on it later.
I also told him that he could not tell me that I was not offended and that he was mansplaining my offence away and that did not make me suddenly not offended. I reminded Michael that sexism was as bad as homophobia and that his refusal to apologise or to agree to modify his language was increasing my offence. I asked him to be a better person than the person who had upset him and to apologise.
[name redacted] fits the definition of bitch “A woman considered to be spiteful or overbearing.”
I am not sexist.
I call homophobic rabbis cunts. They fit the definition “Used as a disparaging term for a person one dislikes or finds extremely disagreeable.”
This is not about you.
And that’s where he got it it incredible wrong, and I walked away (because I could not be arsed spending the energy and time it would take to educate this individual). Michael’s language use is sexist and his refusal to acknowledge that his language was inappropriate and harmful makes him sexist in my opinion.
I am incredibly grateful to those on the mailing lists (some of my comments were cross-posted – or replies were cross posted) that stood up and agreed with me. Many of them were more eloquent than I was able to be at that time, pointing out that language is an important tool and using appropriate language is essential in fighting for human rights. Thank you to those who stood up against sexism.
Some of the best comments (names withheld) were:
One would have to query why one should be so apparently determined to repeatedly to show such little respect and put off-side, those who share the battle and grief the result of these homophobic individuals?
Bayne Macgregor said:
It is every politically active persons responsibility to be aware of some of the basic ways language is part of politics and emotion. You don’t need a degree in linguistics to see that conservatives have made one of their main tools the control of language and the emotional meaning-association. Why the heck do you think people started using the word Gay instead of terms like Homosexual, Faggot, Poofta, Fairy, Fairy-Maggot or Pus-Person?
Now if you want to insult this person go ahead! But do so with terms that are not enforcing any other discrimination.So it would be in your interest and everyone elses if you explore the great cultural heritage of cretive insults and find some that do not reinforce any sexism, ablism, racism, transphobia or any other such problem which we as human-rights activists specialising in the GLBTIQ area need to be aware of and supportive of the fight against.
Michael, you’ve failed to grasp the meaning of the word “offended”.
Offence is in the eye of the beholder, not defined by the offender. Consequently, when someone tells you that they are offended by your language or your behaviour, they are right. You as the offender are in no position to claim that, “You are not offended. You are being precious.”
Further, when someone tells you that they are offended by your behaviour and you refuse to change it, you are indicating that you hold their views and their feelings in complete contempt.
* I’m not naming the individual that Michael is offended with, even though I have read some of her comments on a blog and found them homophobic, because right now she is not the issue.
Posted: October 6, 2010 at 11:34 am | Tags: Feminism, victim blaming, words
*Trigger warning – this post discusses sexual violence against women*
“Spida” who apparently is someone (or was someone) in the world of AFL, decides to blame women today for sexual assault and rape. He made his views, which were then instantly news, available on Twitter so that the rest of us could bask in his glorious wisdom and knowledge.
Specifically he said:
Yet another alleged girl, making alleged allegations, after she awoke with an alleged hangover and I take it an alleged guilty conscience
Girls!! When will you learn! At 3am when you are blind drunk & you decide to go home with a guy ITS NOT FOR A CUP OF MILO! Allegedly
Firstly I’m going to pick on his use of allege (and it’s forms) which is something that always bothers me. I think in this instance that Spida was attempting to be funny, because you know rape and sexual assault are hilarious. The “girl” (notice the infantilism here) is not an alleged person. An individual who makes a complaint about rape or sexual assault, is not an alleged person. You cannot make an alleged allegation, you make an allegation, the end. The next two uses of alleged work, though I am not at all happy how Spida’s implication.
The second tweet is disturbing. Spida clearly doesn’t understand consent and that when someone is blind drunk or affected severely by any substance that they cannot consent to sex. I’ll just quote CASA on this (from the ABC):
The comments have outraged Victoria’s Centre Against Sexual Assault, which has had input into the AFL’s Respect and Responsibility program.
Centre convenor Carolyn Worth says the AFL’s efforts to enforce respect for women are not working as well as they should.
“They’re insensitive comments, and apart from anything else they show a scant regard for the legal status of some things, because if you are actually blind drunk you can’t consent to sexual intercourse… ,” she said.
Spida realised that perhaps he’d not been as clear as he liked and he tweeted the following yesterday (5 tweets combined into 1 paragraph):
neil mitchell has taken poetic licence to interpret my words to mean I support matters regarding sexual offences in favour of the perpertrator. This is so far from the truth it is laughable. I can not and will not ever support female abuse in any manner or form my comments are solely aimed at warning females of the danger of being drunk or under the influence of drugs. I do not condone any actions that lead to or may lead to a sexual offence being committed. thank you!
So he then says he will never ever support “female abuse” whatever that means, and then proceeds into some victim blaming – women shouldn’t get drunk or use drugs because it is dangerous! Because men clearly cannot be held responsible for THEIR behaviour.
Sadly both AFL and the rugby codes in Australia have a history of sexual assault, rape and abuse of women. The AFL (and I assume the rugby codes as well) have instituted policies and programs to combat this, to educate players and was compulsory viewing with a questionnaire afterwards (and hopefully if anyone failed they were counselled).
The AFL made a similar interactive DVD in 2008 pertaining specifically to sexual matters. It was compulsory viewing for all league players, and included a multiple choice questionnaire.
At the time, the AFL’s Respect and Responsibility program co-ordinator, Melanie Heenan, said the DVD aimed to “prompt (the players’) confident decision-making in situations that can be quite complex.” (The Age)
I’m annoyed that someone like this gets given any air time, but at the same time I was really impressed with the smack-down that occurred in the media. Even the MX (who has been quite sexist in the past) quoted people and groups who believed that Spida’s statements were wrong and condoned assault. In my opinion AFL players should stick to commenting on football and should not be allowed to speak about anything else unless they pass a test showing an understanding of the topic and the effects of what they’re going to say.
UPDATE: Apparently Spida appeared on Kerri-Anne Kennaley’s show this morning and they both engaged in some victim blaming with Kerri-Anne calling women who associate with footballers “strays”. The comments on the article were closed fairly quickly and were heavily moderated (unsurprisingly).
UPDATE: I’m loving John Silvester’s article in The Age about how people should stop victim blaming.
Posted: October 5, 2010 at 12:01 am | Tags: acceptance, awesome women, colour, consent, differences, disability, exclusion, fat, Feminism, freedom of speech, harassment, health, intersectionality, Language, lgbtiq, life, media, p0rn, race, racsim, reviews, safety, stories, suffrage, vegan, violence
Down Under Feminists Carnival Logo
Welcome to the 29th Down Under Feminists Carnival. Thank you everyone for your submissions which I have organised as much as I can. I hope you enjoy reading these posts as much as I did, and that you continue to submit posts to an awesome carnival. Thank you so much to Chally, of Zero at the Bone and FWD/Forward and Radical Readers and Feministe for organising this carnival and letting me host it.
Thank you to Chally, Jo, Mary and Deborah for hunting down and finding most of the great posts to include this month. Thank you to everyone else who submitted their or other’s writings.
If I have used incorrect pronouns to identify any of the participants please let me know so that I can correct them. Any misuse is unintentional and due solely to me being unfamiliar with the author of the post.
If I have misrepresented/badly summarised your post, please let me know and I’ll correct it.
So, this carnival is big and full of fascinating reading. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed putting it all together.
This month’s optional theme was Awesome Women.
So, put your feet up, down, sideways or however you feel comfortable and enjoy.
Ilaeria blogged about the three people who have had the biggest impact in her life, her mother and two grandmothers and share the lessons she learnt from them.
tigtog writes about Bell Hooks week at Hoydon About Town. Deborah at In a Strange Land, during one of her Friday Womanist posts quotes Bell Hooks.
Deborah from In a Strange Land blogged about the anniversary of Sufferage for Women in New Zealand (17 September 1893) and the hard work that was put into gaining signatures for the petition that helped make is possible.
Mary at Hoydon About Town has been awesome and has developed a Firefox bookmarklet to make submitting blog carnival posts easier. Please go and install so it is much easier to submit posts for the next carnival.
Media and society
Wildly Parenthetical at Hoydon About Town talks about Sexting and Slut Shaming and how bad the Minister for Home Affairs’s new campaign is for young women.
I spoke about Rampant Sexism in an edition of the MX where it suggested the women were different than men, that women should earn less than men for the sake of their heterosexual relationships and that women can steal men and that men can do nothing about it.
the news with nipples shreds an opinion piece in the SMH by Paul Sheehan.
Pickled Think writes about media and societal pressure on men to propose regardless of what their girlfriends may feel about marriage because it seems that their feelings aren’t important (all girls want to marry right?), and Pickled Think also discusses the patriarchal institution of marriage and the lack of the “big gay proposal”. (The last line on the first comment is also gold).
Blue Milk demonstrates a little lesson in undermining women in power with thanks to the Courier Mail.
Blue Milk reviews Radical Act, a documentary about queer/feminist musicians in the USA, made in 1995
Ju at transcendancing has written a review of Glitter Rose, a short story collection by an Australian author doing interesting and challenging things with female characters. The collection is published by a press that is also doing interesting and challenging things with a feminist focus in publishing.
Kim writes at Larvatus Prodeo about feeling sympathy for Stephen Conroy and the ongoing debate about the internet filter being more complex than liberties or the rights of adults.
Mary at Hoydon About Town wrote about #groggate and the outing of Grog Gamut’s legal name by The Australian. The scary thing about The Australian’s justification is that they’re arguing for the outing of anyone who attempts to influence politics (or anything else) regardless of the wish for anonymity.
There are many ways that the less powerful are silenced, and conflating having something to hide or keep private with being not worth listening to is one of them, and insisting on identity disclosure is another. Not all pseudonymous writers are using pseudonyms to ethical ends, this is abundantly clear to anyone who has ever been on the Internet. But insisting that only those who name themselves and state their interest to everyone who lives in the country can speak is far worse.
Ariane at Ariane’s little world, adds to the discussion regarding #groggate by explaining that a person is not their job.
Image by Judy Horacek. Three panel cartoon of a Christmas decoration on a Christmas tree. The first panel reads, "I'm not a feminist but", the second "just hanging round being decorative is a bit boring", the third has the decoration walking away from the tree saying, "Actually I really am a feminist"
Bodies and health
Ariane calls bullshit on obesity being the root of all evil and society’s with focus on fatness as a health issue. Ariane also points out the negative health consequences of dieting.
Maia at The Hand Mirror discusses the politics of food and how our diet (what we eat) has changed, how food manufacturers want to make a profit from food and the impact that has. Maia also posts a thread about why she hates The Body Shop and how conflating health and moral good or health and beauty are wrong. Maia also posted a great 101 post on food and “healthy food” and how that is a misnomer.
Split Milk talks about why she doesn’t want to engage in discussions about dieting and how important fat acceptance places are.
Many fat activists also identify as feminists and in my opinion the most important tenet that those two movements have in common is a core belief in bodily autonomy. Advocating for fat acceptance is about asking for freedom from oppression and prejudicial treatment.
Spilt Milk also guest posted at Feministe about Fat acceptance: when kindness is activism where she discusses how acceptance of your body and kindness to yourself are activism.
Mimbles at Mim’s muddle writes about being fat and visible and includes links to posts that she’s found (some of which are in this carnival).
Michelle at The Red Pill Survival Guide writes about being fat and how societal sanctioned abuse of fat people is harmful.
You know what? Fuck you. You’re not me. You’re not that other person. You don’t know the circumstances surrounding why someone is the way they are unless they tell you. Yes, we all make superficial judgements but does that give you the right to be abusive or phobic? No.
Fat Heffalump shared her paper that she presented for the Australian Fat Studies conference this month. She shares the effect that the “war on obesity” has had on her and most likely has had on others.
Sam at fat dialogue writes about her experience with Control Top Underpants and how important making people uncomfortable is as a really powerful critical and political intervention.
Julie at the Hand Mirror writes about Thin Privilege and how it isn’t all that great.
The Thin versus Not Thin dichotomy is yet another false division that just sets women against each other. We need to fight, together, against a culture which judges us on our physical appearance, whether that appearance is one that conforms or not.
Steph writes at LadyNews that although Christina Hendricks is great, and the media acceptance of her not typically represented body type is also great, having her body shape/type as one to aspire to is not a good thing.
Pickled Think shreds an article discussing a new sitcom hopefully not coming to a screen near you, and how fat really isn’t coming back to Hollywood.
Health and disability
Jo at Wallaby writes about Accessibility and Sydney’s public transport, focusing on Sydney’s buses.
Michelle at The Red Pill Survive Guide (*trigger warning – discussion of suicide*) writes about World Suicide Prevention Day on 10 September, and talks about how she understands that level of despair.
Chally at Zero at the bone, writes about taking a sickie and how hard it is for people with disabilities to take a “sickie” for legitimate reasons let alone “bludging”.
Helen at FlyingBlogspot.com talks about her ordinary and what she does to manage day to day. Helen also discusses how her ordinary may change with a review of her medication and trying some new treatment.
Race and Racism
Hexpletive blogged about the NSW Parliament amending the NSW State Constitution to finally recognise indigenous Australians as the first people in the State.
I wrote a piece about Boat People and how it should not be an issue.
Queen Emily at An Army of Rabbits discusses the concept of whiteness and the difference between white in Australia and white in the USA.
Jo at Wallaby writes a post about an anti-violence march asking some very pertinent questions for you to answer before you read Blue Milk’s post below.
Blue Milk writes about the march in Alice Springs by Aboriginal men to “stop the violence” and the lack of media coverage about positive Aboriginal stories.
Steph at 天高皇企鹅远 writes about japan ken and barbie, how they’re in Japanese inspired clothing and not actually Japanese, leading to the fetishisation and exotification of non Western cultures.
Chally wrote at Feministe about one of her favourite bit of cognitive dissonance.
stargazer at The Hand Mirror wrote about how collective responsibility is not productive, and states that, “i still don’t accept that i have any responsibility to apologise for the actions of someone i’ve never met and have absolutely no chance of influencing.”
the news with nipples writes Another burqa blog post and reluctantly gives Sergio Redegalli some of her time while she discusses how wrong his latest “art” work is. Then asks why the debate about burquas is still being controlled by people who do not wear burqas.
Blue Milk talks about how Stephanie Rice’s apology to queer people was not adequate and points out all the flaws in that apology very nicely.
Steph at 天高皇企鹅远 went to WorldCon and discusses her experiences with two panels, one on queer themes in SF, which she had to walk out of and the other chaired by a trans academic which was a far more positive experience.
PharaohKatt at Distinctly Disgruntled (*trigger warning – discussion of suicide*) deconstructs Bob Katter’s comments regarding the apparently non-existent LBGTIQ population in his electorate, the high rate of suicide of LBGTIQ people and Bob Katter’s comments about suicide on a Q&A segment.
Fire Fly at The Long Way Home writes about Queer Femmes of Colour and their multiple burdens of authenticity.
I think the dynamic is deeply conditioned by internalised queerphobia. Specifically, internalisation of the double standard that there’s a threshold of queerness that someone has to prove in order to be ‘really’ queer (when there’s no such threshold for heterosexuality).
Maia at The Hand Mirror discusses a proposed bill in New Zealand which would re-criminalise street sex workers and how the relevant political parties have voted.
It is specifically targeting street sex workers. Street sex workers do not generally have $2,000 to pay a fine. The fines, when they’re awarded, won’t have the magic power to stop someone being poor and working as a sex worker, it’ll just make them poorer. It won’t make street sex work disappear, it’ll just make it harder, more dangerous, and more marginalised.
Steph at vegan about town discusses how veganism, race and ethnicity intersect and how calling for China to be “wiped from the face of the earth” for the way they treat animals is hypocritical when every country mistreats animals.
Maia at The Hand Mirror also discusses how there is a connection between problems the way food is discussed and the problems with way food is produced and looks at this under a feminist framework.
Shiny writes about how she is all out of cookies and isn’t going to give them to people who meet basic human standards of decency.
Callistra writes about safety and safe spaces, what they can be and how they are created.
Safety and feelings of safe spaces are also a place of sanctuary. It’s an intimately known quality, where so much discussion has already occured that the system can meet your needs. It means when you’re miserable and need company to listen to, you have friends who can answer that need. Or if you’re miserable and need to talk; you know you can have these needs met. It means if you need to sit quietly and absorb group energy, you can do so without worrying what others might think, say or do. I noticed this as being ‘a place where you can exist without struggle of identity’.
Callistra also writes about what connections are and how they contribute to safe spaces.
Writing at The Hand Mirror, anjum writes about women in minority cultures, who as feminists want to criticise and change the culture, but who fear that it will only give ammunition to haters in the majority culture.
steph writes at vegan about town regarding exclusionary language in the vegan and animal rights movement in Australia and how veganism and the animal rights movement are often seen as white/Anglo-Saxon, middle-class movements.
A Touch of the Crazy shares her recent life experiences, reflections and the importance of getting lost when travelling.
Pickled Think writes about surviving the Christchurch earthquake and how she feels right now.
Blue Milk writes about breastfeeding and how she felt when she first started and how she feels about it now.
Hexpletive writes about the 9th World Indigenous Women and Wellness Conference she attended and presented at in Darwin and then goes on to discuss the other Conferences and Conventions that she is interested in for the remainder of the year. I’m going to have to look some of these up.
Spilt Milk shares an experience of encountering penis graffiti with her young daughter and recounts Helen Barne’s Young Adult novel ‘Killing Aurora’, in which the protagonist draws vagina dentata graffiti in response to penis graffiti.
Spilt Milk wrote about her childhood comforter and how that was taken away from her, and now how the childcare centre her daughter goes to wants to take away her daughter’s teddy bear.
Queen Emily writes at An Army of Rabbits, two (related) things that never happened to her in Australia, specifically the assumption that she’d been to church followed by an exhortation to keep god in her heart.
Chally wrote about how social justice can also be about staying silent and doing what is right for you versus the wider world (this post could fit under most categories, and I struggled to find the best fit).
Wallaby writes about how prioritising and choosing your energy drain is important for your wellness, and your choices in this regard should be admired, fostered and encouraged.
tigtog clearly states for the record why banning commenters and refusing comment publication is not censorship as blogs are privately owned spaces.
Women of Colour Australia has put a transcript up of their speech at NOWSA 2010.
the news with nipples writes about the petition put together by Plan Australia to make September 22 the International Day of the Girl. You can sign the petition here.
Natalie at definatalie.com writes about her feral leghair and why she’s going to grow it. She includes a great discussion about The Gruen Transfer and their discussion about redefining femininity based on advertising.
steph discusses at LadyNews the current Jadelle (a contraceptive implant) furore in the media. steph advocates choice and education for women, which some of the quotes in the article also supported.
Megan at Craft is the New Black writes about the need for the ‘generations’ of feminism to recognise and celebrate each other’s worth.
In a post to mark Women’s Suffrage Day in New Zealand, Ele at Home Paddock writes of the need for us to exercise our hard won right to vote in the upcoming local body elections.
*Trigger warnings – posts in this section discuss violence against women*
The Dawn Chorus discusses Street Harassment and how when reporting it or writing down what has been said, the tone of what was said is missing which is one of the reasons why street harassment is often belittled or dismissed.
Blue Milk explains that asking is sexy and that without consent it isn’t sex and the comments are great too.
I don’t know why the idea has persisted that asking for consent is necessarily a clinical business – what is stilted about – more? do you want to? do you like? Because “mood-killer”? Are you kidding me? That moment when they close the space between you both and ask you to put your cards on the table – is this on or not, can I do this with you – is one of the most heart-flippingly exciting moments in all of existence.
Jo at Wallaby wrote about the treatment received by two women who had been sexually assaulted in different legal systems and how much those legal systems differed.
XY writes about why he won’t be walking in Reclaim the Night/Take Back the Night march and provides and excellent resource (if you need one) to explain to some men why they are not always welcome to march.
stargazer at The Hand Mirror writes about the governmental response to the task force for action on sexual violence and sadly how this seems to have been missed by the media.
AnneE at The Hand Mirror takes some relevant material from a paper on people who abuse their partners.
blue milk at Hoydon About Town writes about the strange behaviour of the state and society when a mother whose daughter was victim of incest is upset and protective of her daughter when pornography is displayed at a 7-11.
And isn’t it a strange world where police can be called in to protect your right to display pornography? So unquestioning are we about it that the newspaper article actually describes what unfolded as a “bizarre incident”. It is the same strange world where it is estimated that up to one in four girls will be sexually abused during their childhood.
Both Deborah from In a Strange Land and I wrote about Brendan Black and his opinion piece in Fairfax media on breastfeeding and breasts. Unfortunately he fails terribly at being a feminist ally when he could have done very well.
Jo at Wallaby suggests that men should not go out alone otherwise they might, “be accused of, and/or commit, indecent assault, sexual assault, rape or other sexual violence.”
Posted: April 26, 2010 at 9:41 pm | Tags: Feminism, Language, linguistics, words
This is the first in which may or may not turn out to be a series on words I have issues with. I am aware of and support efforts in reclaiming language used against marginalised groups and bodies. I support people’s identities and the words they use in describing themselves. This is a post about words that others use and how they are used by others.
Ok, so bitch… lets break it down a little. Initially the word was used to describe a female dog or female canine. Dogs are lower life-forms (traditionally) than people and are belongings. So to refer to a woman or another person as a bitch is a dehumanising exercise, they are now a lower life-form (not human) and are a belonging, whether yours (my bitch) or someone else’s (their bitch).
Its also used in a sex negative context as well, referring to women (and only women) as being like a “bitch in heat”, which suggests that women are uncontrollable when they want sex, much like female dogs.
Bitch is also used to describe certain types of behaviour, such as bitchiness and bitchy. Typically this refers to back-stabbing, gossiping and other unpleasant behaviour. Descriptions of this behaviour is also given to gay men, which suggests that gay men are acting like unpleasant women.
If you are “someone’s bitch” then typically this means that you are their belonging. So if I refer to X as “my bitch” then they’re mine, dehumanised and property. Not such a good way to describe someone. However, I do understand, and do refer to my physical belongings, as bitch from time to time. If something slips out of my hands and I’m frustrated, I’ll say, “Argh! You bitch”, but I’m actually referring to inanimate objects here. And because I don’t like to dehumanise people I’m not going to call someone a bitch.
The Harpies, refer to women sometimes just having to “Be A Bitch”, usually to men, when boundaries are overstepped and there is a need to be assertive or opinionated because the other is not paying attention to your subtext, body language or even polite words about going away. They’ve written about such things here and here and elsewhere on their site. I am all behind assertive behaviour and sometimes just having to be rude if that’s what it takes for you to be safe, happy or unharassed, but I still have issues with calling it “Being A Bitch” because I don’t think that that word should be used to describe a set of allegedly unpleasant behaviours which are clearly just being assertive or opinionated as you see fit.
But I’ve been thinking about men’s fear of women’s anger and power and the word “bitch.”
Bitch, bitching, etc.: these are thrown at women all the time, for any minor “infraction,” from asking for parity in pay or pleasure to daring to stand up for yourself. I have no doubt that those who use it mean to silence and intimidate women. (From The Pursuit of Harpyness)
I’m all for telling people to “shut the fuck up” or to “fuck off” when they harass me on the street, on the internet or anywhere else. If someone calls me a bitch for knowing my boundaries, knowing what makes me feel safe or for turning them down, then that’s their problem and not mine. I’m not going to go home and be upset about it overly, but I don’t think I’ll personally ever reclaim the word “bitch”. I can be assertive, just like men are allowed to be, and that doesn’t make me a bitch. I can be opinionated, just like men are allowed to be, and that doesn’t make me a bitch.
I think the word “bitch” is usually pulled out when women act in ways that we’re “not supposed to”. We’re supposed to be submissive and easy to target. We’re supposed to be soft, gentle and unassuming… and quite frankly all of that can fuck off.