*TRIGGER WARNING* There is queerphobia and general garbage humans
Hello and welcome to the Down Under Feminist Carnival – a carnival celebrating feminist writers of Australia and New Zealand, and their posts written in March 2015. I hope you enjoy this carnival as much as I enjoyed putting it together. Thanks to Chally, Mary, Scarlett, Cat, Ju, Ana and Sanch for making submissions to the carnival.
I’ve grouped the posts that have been submitted to me and that I have found into categories for ease of reference (and ease of putting this all together for me). If I have miscategorised something, or if you notice any errors, please let me know.
You should also consider volunteering to host a carnival yourself if you’re a feminist in Australia or New Zealand. It’s not too difficult, and I will help you by sending you posts of interest. You can volunteer here.
International Women’s Day & Women’s History Month
So March sees International Women’s Day, and Scarlett at The Scarlett Woman writes, “International Women’s Day: Why I’m a Bad Feminist, or Women Can Be Misogynists, Too.”
I could be accused of being a “bad feminist” for the assertion I’m about to make. After all, feminists are supposed to support all women, right? Even women doing unfeminist things, like Sarah Palin, or women in traditionally male dominated industries, like Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer, and who throw feminism under the bus.
But in my experience women can be misogynists, too. And as I write this I’m thinking of one woman in particular.
Jennifer Wilson writes, “I don’t effing care if you call yourself a feminist or not.“:
I have a dream. In my dream every woman with a public voice just for once refuses these speaking and writing engagements and instead throws her weight behind a National Day of Mourning on March 8, for the women world-wide, and particularly in Australia because this is our homeland where we can best have influence, who are murdered and abused by intimate partners, as well as the children who witness and suffer.
I have a dream that if women with a public voice do accept speaking and writing engagements on this, our one fucking day of the entire fucking year, they will agree to speak out all day long about domestic violence, government responsibilities, and the safety and protection of women and children, and nothing else.
Commonwealth Writers hosted feminists from Commonwealth Nations for March. Anne Else who also writes for The Hand Mirror and Elsewoman wrote, “Why are we still here?”, and Ella Henry, a Maori academic wrote, “What have we really achieved?”.
gillpolak wrote and hosted an entire series of posts in March for Women’s History Month, and as I can’t just pick two, I’m going to link to her LiveJournal and you can read them at your leisure.
Media and women
Scarlett Harris writes at Junkee, “Forget The ‘Angry Black Woman’ Problem; Does Shonda Rhimes Have a Mistress Problem?“:
Scandal and HTGAWM avoid the “lazy black woman” trope, as Phoebe Robinson writes in a recent issue of Bitch magazine, by ensuring her black female characters have stable careers — but something’s gotta give, and that would be their love lives. Vulture’s TV critic Margaret Lyons echoed this sentiment on their debut TV podcast: “There’s nothing exciting about having your shit together.”
Scy-Fy interviews Alisa Krasnostein, Alexandra Pierce, and Tansy Rayner Roberts about their podcast Galactic Suburbia.
Carly Findlay writes, “Encountering plagiarism of my own work“:
I googled an article I’d written (to reference it for something else) and found my work plagiarised.
A disability organisation plagiarised my article. This is the second disability organisation in two weeks to steal that article (it was the article about disability and fashion) – and the third time a disability organisation has taken my work. (And it’s happened to my friends too.) While there was a link to Daily Life below the text, there was no link to my blog and the format of the article made it look like I had written for that organisation.
Generally my editor takes care of plagiarism but this time I called the organisation. The organisation was surprised to hear from me and the woman on the phone didn’t know what to say.
A.C. Buchanan writes, “Notes on Reconnaissance and the need for harassment policies at SF Conventions“:
This is one of those posts I’d rather not have to write. It’s about requesting a harassment policy to be put in place for Reconnaissance (The 36th New Zealand National Science Fiction Convention) and what followed. I’m writing it partly to provide a record for others, partly because some people know part of but not the whole story, and because I really don’t want to see anything like this happen again, and so want future convention organisers – and attendees – to be really mindful of it.
Terry Pratchett died and Mary at Hoyden About Town wrote, “In memoriam: Terry Pratchett, and a Discworld reading history“:
I then read many of the Discworld books in whatever order I came across them in my friends’ libraries (the ebook era would win here!), so I met the witches about halfway through in Lords and Ladies and was perpetually disappointed that it turned out to be about halfway through. I always wanted to know the end of Magrat’s story, when she finally, inevitably (in my opinion!) outgrows Granny and they both know it. (Apparently I always trust the designated irritating woman to grow up to win.) And what will Esmerelda the Younger become?
Celeste Liddle at Rantings of an Aboriginal Feminist wrote, “Impostor syndrome and its manifestations“:
It was when someone said to me that I had “impostor syndrome” that I gained a bit of awareness into what was going on in my head. The idea that someone can believe they are worthy of less space due to their position in society is something women come across all the time. And it is socially reinforced. I mean, the fact that it’s a big deal that QandA actually had an all-women panel FINALLY because they have shown time and time again that women’s voices are not as necessary (think re: their domestic violence panel) is just crazy. The fact that Catherine Deveny could have been criticised for dominating the space and interupting when she actually didn’t is even more crazy. Women are not entitled to take up space in the same way that men are according to society, and we see this played out over and over again. Whether it’s women talking in a board meeting or walking home alone, it’s the same thing. It needs to stop. Men need to create the space and not judge the comments of women as being less worthy, as being biased, as being non-neutral.
Cranky Ladies of History wrote a post on International Women’s Day about their book and particular cranky ladies, “CRANKY LADIES OF HISTORY: A story about the story you won’t see (and why that’s okay)“:
In December 2013 I saw that Fablecroft had sent out a call for proposals for their Cranky Ladies Anthology. I’d been stuck in a creative quagmire and depressed and one thing I had learned was that if you feel stuck do something in service of people or things you like. Then it isn’t about you, it is about the work, it is about service and you will push yourself harder and won’t give up. I like Fablecroft and I liked their concept, so I checked them out.
Scanning through the list and thinking about what wasn’t on the list I swiftly decided that Oodgeroo Noonuccal needed to be in the anthology. I had fallen in love with her poetry in high school, its ferocity, tenderness and politics. She had an unflinching power that created space for all the motions, space for anger, despair, fighting spirit and a wry sense of humour. I feel like through her work I experienced one of my first role models of a balanced fighter. She was someone who was an activist, but did not let the consuming nature of the fight tear her apart. She was a whole human being.
Ana Stevenson, an Australian citizen finishing her PhD in history at The University of Queensland, and currently a Visiting Scholar at the University of Pittsburgh, submitted her post, “Belle, Books, and Ballot: The Life and Writing of Nineteenth Century Reformer Lillie Devereux Blake (1833-1913)“:
These early novels were influenced by the sentimental literature of the era, but they also challenged the literary conventions with which this genre was associated. Echoing Laura Curtis Bullard’s Christine; or Woman’s Trials and Triumphs (1856) and Frances Ellen Watkins Harper’s “The Two Offers” (1858), Southwold and Rockford demonstrate the consequences of ill-suited marriages. In addition, these novels featured a plethora of complex female protagonists and experimented with challenging heroines. Medora, Southwold’s defiant heroine, explicitly embarks upon securing a lucrative marriage when faced with destitution. Zella Dangerfield, a character in a later novel, Forced Vows; or, A Revengeful Woman’s Fate (1870), had “an American girl’s independent spirit”; in demonstrating that “coercion was not for her,” however, Zella was perfectly happy coercing others. Personally, Lillie believed marriage should be “an equal partnership with no thought of mastership on either side,” and she found this with second husband Grinfill Blake, whom she married in 1866. Blake’s growing literary focus on marriage and women’s rights, and the fertile storytelling these themes provided, belied her developing interest in women’s suffrage.
Wendy Harmer writes at The Hoopla, “THE HOOPLA … LAST DRINKS! ALLEY OOP!“:
It is with sadness that co-founder of The Hoopla, Jane Waterhouse and I tell you that this will be the last edition of The Hoopla in its present incarnation.
From today we will be presenting a “best of ” from our archives and then ceasing publication altogether very soon.
For almost four years The Hoopla has taken great pride in bringing you the best in opinion writing and the daily news seen through the eyes of Australian women. “Smart with heart,” has been our motto. Always independent. Calling it without fear or favour.
Since 2011, The Hoopla has published some 5,000 articles, 300 writers and more than 100,000 of your incisive and thoughtful comments – and has been very proud to do so. Thank you all for taking a seat in our Big Top to watch the daily acrobatics and spectacle.
Cat Pause at Friend of Marilyn writes, “On fitting in (t-shirts and stuff)“:
Throughout my life, I have loved music. I love listening to music, I love making music. I love live music especially. I love the energy of the crowd, and getting to see the performers in person; catching the occasional unguarded moment. In all my years attending concerts, however, I’ve been denied the opportunity to be the audience member sporting a tour T (or, Madonna forbid, a T from the last tour). Merchandise booths never carry sizes I can wear; they rarely go past a 2x. I still stand in line though, picking out a programme or a keychain – something tangible I can keep with me or gift to others. And I still ask, ‘What is the largest size you have?’ of the t-shirt or hoodie that catches my eye while I wait in the queue.
At one particular show in Dallas a few years back, an amazing thing happened. The concert hoodie went up to a 5x. I couldn’t believe it. It made my mind race – how have I missed this before? HAVE I missed this before? I decided that I hadn’t, because I’m always looking for clothes in my size. Even when I know it’s for naught, I keep looking (the result of an emerging adulthood devoid of fashion options). Perhaps as fat concert goers get louder about what we want, marketers are beginning to pay attention (it is one of the golden rules of capitalism, right? Sell the people what they want?) It may also be gendered – larger sizes are made with men in mind, and the hoodie I bought was definitely masculine. I didn’t wear it that night, but I do wear it often, and I experience a bit of glee each time. It makes me feel delightfully normal (but that’s another story for later).
Jackie Wykes and Cat Pause write at The Conversation (with some really beautiful photos), “The ‘dancer’s body’ is fat: Force Majeure’s Nothing to Lose“:
This is not to dismiss those conversations entirely; normative ideas about health, beauty, and self-esteem have very real implications for material bodies, after all. They create a culture in which fat people’s very right to exist is contingent on whether or not we can approximate normative ideas closely enough to be deemed acceptable by the mainstream.
But even then, such acceptance is always contingent; never full membership, this is a visitor’s pass a best.
Blunt Shovels writes, “All about able women“:
I wondered how they could dismiss the one in five women who have a disability. I wondered if they knew any of the kick-arse disabled women I knew, and start collecting a list, just to be helpful. Women who work in advocacy, women with experiences of living in institutions, women who use wheelchairs or sign language, women who write, women who dream, women who love. Surely I was mistaken, and I would hear from the curators before too long.
I was told I needed to ask about accessibility in private, out of the public eye. Perhaps I am not part of the public? A disabled woman couldn’t possibly be made welcome by publicising how easy it would be for her to take part. That was quickly fixed, but I wondered why it had taken some minor Facebook agitation to make it happen.
Kath at Fat Heffalump writes, “Each and Every One Of Us“:
No fat person is unacceptable in fat activism. It is important that when we take up the challenge of demanding dignity and respect for fat people, we need to include ALL fat people, especially those people who aren’t considered “valuable” to society. Because human value isn’t about being pretty or fashionable or worthy. All humans, by right of their existence, are valid, valuable people. Fat people shouldn’t have to prove that they “contribute to society” to be included in fat activism.
Parenting and families
Boganette writes, “Thank you“:
I had a terrible pregnancy. I vomited every day for 25 weeks. Then I vomited every second or third day for the rest of my pregnancy. But my midwife was always there with me. She cheered us on. She kept me excited even when I was exhausted and overwhelmed. She more than tolerated my tears of frustration in her office. She was more than my midwife, she was my counsellor too.
I felt so guilty that I had wanted a baby for so long but I absolutely hated pregnancy. I didn’t feel in touch with my body, I couldn’t stop puking, I felt unhealthy, exhausted, overwhelmed, I sure as fuck wasn’t glowing. She was so patient and caring and gentle with me. She always made me feel like I was strong and she gave me so much confidence. She never denied my feelings.
Stephanie Convery writes at The Guardian, Comment is Free, “Don’t be fooled by the language of ‘choice’. Deregulation is bad for women“:
Children are not commodities, but a predominantly privatised childcare sector cannot help but treat them that way. Child/carer ratios exist to provide a safe and attentive environment in which to appropriately support children’s development, learning and socialisation. The importance of qualifications for workers in the sector reflects the importance of children being supervised by workers who are adequately trained. But the wholesale deregulation of the industry will drive down quality of care by bringing in lower-skilled workers. It will also drive down wages for the (mostly female) workforce, and there is no evidence to show that it will have any effect on lowering the cost of childcare at all.
Shae at Free Range in Suburbia writes, “Missing out“:
So we signed up for all of the things the kids wanted to do and tried to squeeze in some set bookwork time. We went on all the camps we could, all the meet ups, all the play dates. We have spent this term running around and now I see what we are really missing out on.
QUILTBAG (queer, undecided, intersex, lesbian, trans*, bisexual, asexual, gay)
Brocklesnitch writes, “David v Goliathomophobia“:
Some of the reaction to this, like the reaction to the suspension of the rugby league player, was disheartening. Pocock has been accused by certain people of grandstanding, attention seeking, or horror of horrors – placing his morals above the untouchable game of Rugby. As if that isn’t exactly the kind of thing we should be applauding athletes for. As if professional team sport doesn’t often foster sexism, sexual assault, homophobia, and violence against women. As if we shouldn’t be encouraging athletes to be decent humans, as well as good at sport. Part of this is not only NOT being sexist, racist, or homophobic yourself, but also saying something when you see it happening. All Pocock did is walk the walk, after football codes have been talking the talk for a long time about trying to combat homophobic culture.
Chrys Stevenson writes at Gladly the Crossed-Eyed Bear, “Christians Supporting Equal Marriage“:
On a day when it’s just been announced that the Senate supports the call for a conscience vote on marriage equality , I think it’s very appropriate to remind ourselves that the majority of Australian Christians (and those of other faiths) are not homophobic. Most Christians support marriage equality, and politicians like Fred Nile, political parties like Family First and Rise Up Australia, and lobby groups like the Australian Christian Lobby represent only a fringe group of right-wing fundamentalists.
Race and Racism
Stephanie at No Award writes, “indigenous business: bundarra sportswear“:
There is some crap going on, and it’s all important, but maybe you’re thinking about how you want to do something that’s not rallies and writing to your local member. And that’s okay! So once a week here at No Award, we’re going to showcase an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander thing. “Thing” is a bit inexact, but we don’t want to limit ourselves – we’re talking businesses and not for profits and designers. Things. We here at No Award still want you talking about injustices and and rallying if you can! But things are important, too. (If you can think of a good name for these posts, please let us know)
Megpie71 writes at Hoyden About Town, ““Country”“:
This is part of why I feel angry and upset about the WA state government’s decision to close a number of remote communities. I would not want to push that feeling of displacement, of always being in the wrong place, on anyone else. It would be a wrongness, an evil, a wicked thing to do. I am angry the government of Western Australia is doing this in my name. I am upset the Premier, Colin Barnett, is implicitly claiming he has the support of white Western Australians to do this. His government does not have my support, or my consent.
Natasha Guantai writes at Overland, “‘Are there Black people in Australia?’“:
My experience of being Black in Australia is also different from that of migrants of African descent who were born in other white-dominated countries such as the US or UK. I have not been racialised as Black within the context of another country. There are Aboriginal people who tell me that they use ‘Black’ as a way of highlighting their experiences as a result of, and in contrast with, white Australia. Similarly, I am Black primarily due to my relation to white Australia. My experience, while obviously different from that of Indigenous Australians, is nevertheless of an Australian Blackness.
Celeste Liddle at Rantings of an Aboriginal Feminist wrote, “Parliament House is an unviable political community“:
Finally, the educational services they’ve provided just seem to be diminishing and it’s clear that this government is simply unable to keep a higher education sector properly funded, maintained and running.
Celeste Liddle and Roxanne Gay were interviewed on ABC Radio National in, “I’m a feminist, but….“
It’s so good to see the Boganette blogging again. In this she writes, “Accepting help“:
I now know that accepting help is so important. When I started accepting help (or at least trying to) I stopped feeling so overwhelmed. I stopped feeling so isolated. I stopped feeling so scared. So alone. It’s really, really hard to ask for help. Harder than it is to accept I reckon. So when it’s offered – take it, even if it feels weird.
And if you’re in a position to help a new mum, maybe just give her stuff (especially if it’s food) even if she doesn’t expressly ask for it. It can be hard to get past that “I don’t want to be a pain” reflex that a lot of women have. Women are taught to always be the provider, to always help instead of being helped. It can be really hard to overcome all that social conditioning to allow someone else to look after you. I’m grateful to my friends who just said “I’ve made you some dinner, when can I bring it over?”
Rachel Hills writes, “Who does she think she is? (Part deux.)“:
As of the last couple of months, though, I don’t have to ask any more. I get it now. Right now, I ask people to pay attention to my work every day: always sending out emails, setting up coffees, forever dreaming up ideas for possible collaboration, partnership, ways of spreading of the message. Because now, finally, I am at a point where my desire to share what I’ve created outweighs my fear of overstepping an invisible line by asking people to pay attention to it.
Mindy writes at Hoyden About Town, “Please don’t liken yourselves to Rosa Parks“:
Rosa Park’s actions, which went well beyond refusing to give up a seat on a bus and started well before that day, forced society to see black people as people deserving of a seat on the bus and as members of American society. Regardless of whether Tattersall’s finally do allow women to be members, it will still be a small number of elites who make the cut. Rosa Park’s was fighting for all black Americans, not a privileged few who enjoyed lifestyles and riches well beyond that of ordinary folk. To invoke her name for such a ridiculous reason, not to mention having no idea of either her history of that of the US civil rights movement*, diminishes her actions and the outcomes of her work.
Andie Fox writes at Daily Life, “Why are married couples afraid of the newly divorced?“:
I have not been longing for change or adventure – there is plenty of both when your life relationship comes to an end, and you follow that up with a few more relationships and break-ups. I have, instead, craved contentment. I thought that fixing or solving or finding or knowing would ease my mind but by the end of last year I finally saw that it was about comfort with self, and that this therefore wouldn’t be located outside, but within.
misc (I couldn’t think of a category and I liked these posts)
Steph at No Award writes about being a cyclist with, “reasons why i, a cyclist”
Liz Barr at No Award writes “No Award’s Print, Cut ‘n’ Keep Folk Festival Bingo Card“:
Bless their peace-loving hearts, but the only thing worse than a hippie is an upper-middle-class suburban hippie wannabe. Think the Morgendorffers. Think Homer Simpson’s mother, although she was actually pretty great and who wouldn’t leave Grandpa Simpson? Yes, all of our examples are cartoons, but that doesn’t change the fact that any folk festival is going to contain at least some of the following…
Violence (The posts in this section carry trigger warnings for violence)
Scarlett at The Scarlett woman writes an indepth discussion regarding the WWE’s lauding of men convicted of violent crimes against woman, but won’t induct into the hall of fame a woman who is now working in the sex industry, in “World Wrestling Entertainment Will Never #GiveDivasaChance As Long As It Prioritises Bad Men.”
Austin also asked Levesque if he thought Chyna—a pioneer in the world of wrestling, both women’s and otherwise—would be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. (Again, that’s a decision Levesque would have a lot of sway over.) Despite Chyna’s (real name: Joanie Laurer) status as Levesque’s ex-girlfriend, she’s also found a post-wrestling career in porn, which severely limits the likelihood of her induction. Levesque said:
“I’ve got an eight-year-old kid and my eight-year-old kid sees the Hall of Fame and my eight-year-old kid goes on the internet to look at, you know, ‘there’s Chyna, I’ve never heard of her. I’m eight years old, I’ve never heard of her, so I go put that in, and I punch it up,’ and what comes up? And I’m not criticising anybody, I’m not criticising lifestyle choices. Everybody has their reasons and I don’t know what they were and I don’t care to know. It’s not a morality thing or anything else. It’s just the fact of what it is. And that’s a difficult choice. The Hall of Fame is a funny thing in that it is not as simple as, this guy had a really good career, a legendary career, he should go in the Hall of Fame. Yeah… but we can’t because of this reason. We can’t because of this legal instance.”
Helen Pringle writes at ABC Religion, “Disempowered Men? Tanveer Ahmed and the ‘Feminist Lynch Mob’“:
As he waded, Ahmed says, he was “treated to an orgy of abuse, threats and complete mis-representation.” Nurses at his hospital took him aside to ask him how he was doing, articles and letters were published on the net in support of him, unnamed (because trembling presumably) academics approached him on the sly to share how difficult it is to speak openly about “this issue” and Dr Ahmed was invited to speak at a Toronto conference “all expenses paid.” To be sure, all this so very much resembles the “high-tech lynching for uppity blacks, who in any way deign to think for themselves” shamelessly cited by (Justice) Clarence Thomas when he was asked to explain his behaviour towards Anita Harris.
Astha Rajvanshi writes about students who have survived domestic violence at Honi Soit, “Behind Closed Doors“:
The students I interviewed for this article share two things in common: they are all women, and they have all endured long-term abuse, social stigma, and shame from people they loved.
I suppose if I were to try and make sense of it all, these are the 1 in 3 women across all socio-economic backgrounds who tolerate, on average, 35 assaults before telling someone about it. They are an extension of the 950,000 young Australian women who reported in 2005 that they had been sexually assaulted before the age of 15; of the one in four children who witnessed violence against their mothers or carers; the 22% of women under 20 who have experienced dating violence.
Jennifer Wilson at No Place for Sheep writes, “Vale all the dead women. IWD 2015“:
I’d attend a dawn candlelight memorial service for women and children all over the world murdered by violent partners, but I don’t think that’s caught on as an International Women’s Day ritual. It’s alarming that it hasn’t, really. So, at the risk of raining on the self-congratulatory feminist talk-fest parade, here’s where my thoughts are at, and who IWD ought to be for.
No celebratory event should begin today without first acknowledging the women and children who’ve died, and those who live and suffer often for their whole lives, from the violence perpetrated against them.
LudditeJourno writes at The Hand Mirror, “Three Strikes, you’re out NZ Police“:
The Police need reform, they need improvements in sexual violence practice to be measured and reported on, they need more training. They need to take sanctions against officers who treat sexual violence so cavalierly – if they want this to stop being a systemic problem. Top quality investigation of sexual violence cases need to be a key performance indicator at a District level, so the hierarchy take it seriously. Until their officers actually understand and implement the law, they should be reporting on their improvements to an impartial group which has the power to hire and fire.
LudditeJourno also writes at the Hand Mirror, “Undoing rape culture, one sports field at a time“:
Men consistently overestimate other men’s use of and support for gendered violence. Related to this, men consistently underestimate other men’s willingness to stand up to gendered violence, which limits their own willingness to intervene. Put together, these two planks of what men think masculinity means make it harder for men to stand up to other men when they behave badly.
Mindy writes at Hoyden About Town, “‘It’s my right to get hellish’…Orly?“:
The singer claims a right to act ‘hellish’, whatever that means, because he still gets jealous. I don’t believe jealousy gives you any rights actually, apart from the right to STFU and deal with your own shit. The relationship between the person who he is getting jealous over and himself is never clear. Is he husband/boyfriend/partner or ex/stalker/fan for whom the distinction between friends and fans does not exist? Even the film clip doesn’t make it any clearer. He doesn’t like how this person posts stuff on social media, he admits to being possessive, passive aggressive and puffing out his chest to defend what he sees as his territory. All this in a pop song. On high rotation. The overtones of control and violence are really worrying.
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. 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. 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.
- 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
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.
A great discussion on the comment thread of Stargazer’s post on The Hand Mirror, “yet another burqa post”
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. 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)
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.
Hello, and welcome to a world full of fantastic feminist writing from the month of July. Before you rush off to get your drink of choice (a nice cup of tea would be my recommendation) and sit back to enjoy writing by Australian and New Zealand feminists, I want to beg you to host a carnival yourself. The Down Under Feminists’ Carnival desperately needs new hosts from October 2014 onwards. Don’t think that it is a monumental job, I and others will provide you with links to lots of great posts, you just need to detail them with as much (or as little) information as you like. Some hosts just provide the author’s name and the blog title as a clickable link, others categorise them, and some put summaries about what the post is all about. You put them together as you feel most appropriate to your time and energy. So now that I’ve encouraged you to host a carnival, please wander over to the Down Under Feminists Carnival website or email chally [dot] zeroatthebone [at] gmail [dot] com and say you want to host, and your availability.
And on with the carnival.
Skud writes at Geek Feminism, “Dropping the F bomb“:
It felt good, at first, to be in a group of tech women who had similar experiences to me. Yet, when I started to talk about feminist issues — mentioning sexism in the wider open source or tech community, for instance — I was shut down. I was essentially asked to leave the channel and go somewhere else if I wanted to talk about that stuff. Better yet, it was the project’s male community manager — men were allowed in this channel — who took it upon himself to push me out of that space, and who still continues to this day to shut down feminist discussion in communities that he leads.
Clementine Ford at Daily Life writes, “So you want to be ‘beautiful’ instead of ‘hot’?”
But there are few greater mysteries that perplex the female mind than the elusive riddle of beauty. Specifically, who has it and what does it mean? Specificallyer, what makes a woman beautiful instead of just hot? The world’s greatest lady philosopheresses have pondered this for literally thousands of years or maybe even two seconds and been unable to provide a definitive answer.
Alex Skud Bailey rewrites Google’s apology regarding their real name policy in, “Meanwhile, in an alternate universe…“:
We apologise unreservedly to those people, who through our actions were marginalised, denied access to services, and whose identities we treated as lesser. We especially apologise to those who were already marginalised, discriminated against, or unsafe, such as queer youth or victims of domestic violence, whose already difficult situations were worsened through our actions. We also apologise specifically to those whose accounts were banned, not only for refusing them access to our services, but for the poor treatment they received from our staff when they sought support.
Eliza Cussen writes at Fix It Dear Henry, “Who holds back the electric car? White Ribbon does.“:
Women don’t need to be told the questions men need to ask themselves about violence. We don’t need to be told how many of us are being killed by our partners or exes. We don’t need to be told because either the reality of it, or the potential of it is part of the female experience.
Both O’Keefe and Pickering wrote their pieces as part of their role as White Ribbon Australia ambassadors. This is an exclusive boy’s club. I can only imagine they have poker nights to which no women are invited. In the lead up to White Ribbon Day in November each year, these men are trotted out, promising to start a dialogue between men about the culture that permits violence against women. This is a good thing.
Eleanor Robertson writes at Comment is Free at the Guardian, “Tackling the gender gap is simple: pay women more money. End of story“:
Here it is: we simply pay women more money. Whether we do this by reducing women’s tax burden, providing them with an income supplement, or allowing women to personally shake down their male colleagues until an appropriate amount of change falls from their pockets, I don’t mind. But it’s clear that sitting around furrowing our brows isn’t working, so it’s time to make some changes.
Alex Skud Bailey provides slide decks and notes on the talks she delivered at Open Source Bridge, including Knitting for Programmers, Feminist Point of View: A Geek Feminist Retrospective and “Advanced” Community Management.
Judy Horacek writes, “This Creative Life No.2 – July 2014“:
I have often said that I became a cartoonist to try and change the world. I mean this as a true statement, but also as a slightly tongue-in-cheek one. Much as I would like cartoons to be all-powerful – to believe that the pen is indeed mightier than the sword, and the missile and the drone – well, just take a look at the world…
What the ‘change-the-world’ statement boils down to is that I became a cartoonist because I care deeply about certain things such as social justice, feminism, the environment. These are the things I like to make cartoons about. Of course I also do silly jokes that are about nothing, but my first love is making cartoons commenting on our society and our world.
Kelly Ellis guest posts at the Daily Blog, “GUEST BLOG: Kelly Ellis – Privilege Lost“:
I learned I was now an alien. I learned that the social contract men had was different from the one for women. I learned that male privilege was not a free ticket to the footie or a free upsize on a Mac Meal; male privilege is simply the freedom from prejudice that everyone else gets for not being a man.
Marianne Elliot guest posts at Justine Musk with, “I don’t care if you like it (guest post by Marianne Elliott)“:
Last year I spent most of five months travelling through the US, Canada and Europe talking about my book, ZEN UNDER FIRE. At almost every book talk I gave, someone would ask me, ‘Weren’t you afraid to be in Afghanistan, such a dangerous country for women?’
My standard answer was that all countries are dangerous for women.
Allison M writes at The Hand Mirror, “Pat Rosier and Who We Remember“:
As Prue writes, Pat’s early life was relatively conventional. Her dad was a railway clerk, and she grew up at a time when no one in a working class family, “let alone a girl”, went to university. She married, had two children and trained as primary teacher, which was her job from 1973 to 1985. Then, something happened. Pat found Simone de Beauvoir, the Women’s Liberation Movement, lesbianism – and reinvented herself.
Pat chronicled at least part of that reinvention in the 1991 collection, Changing Our Lives: Women Working in the Women’s Liberation Movement, 1970-1990 (eds Christine Dann & Maud Cahill, Bridget Williams Books).
Orlando writes at Hoyden About Town, “Friday Hoyden quick hit: Linda Brodsky“:
Dr Linda Brodsky was an American paediatric ear, nose and throat surgeon. In the 90s, having become a tenured professor at SUNY Buffalo, she discovered she was being paid far less than male colleagues, many with less seniority and fewer qualifications. On further investigation she found that the same was true of her pay from her medical employers, and that it applied to other women working in the same institutions. When she attempted to have the disparities addressed she was fired. Dr Brodsky spent years suing her employers, not only on her own behalf, but to help ensure that other women would not be treated the same way. She was aware that the privileges she had put her in the rare position of being able to fight, and thus made it a moral obligation.
I wrote a piece called, “Let’s try with some empathy“:
How about instead of telling someone how they should react to something, you think a bit about why they might be reacting that way, how constant microaggressions might have worn them down, and how this might have been the final straw after they’ve been polite to everyone else whose pushed them down that day/week/month/year. Think about how they might actually see the thing that you said or wrote, and how that might look from their position. Actually apologise for upsetting them and then invite them to tell you what you can do to avoid upsetting them again in future – because people generally want to avoid having their feet stepped on, they will often provide you with suggestions resources on how your organisation or yourself can be more inclusive, open, and less upsetting.
Media and Stories
Clementine Ford at Daily Life writes, “The two most complained about TV ads of 2014“, which I’m mostly sharing for the First Moon Party ad, it’s the best:
So before evil witch-women gathered under full moons to cast spells from their devil teats which gave them total command of humanity’s most powerful institutions, we shrouded such things in secrecy, knowing full well the danger that would be wrought from speaking the names out loud. Moonblood. The Curse. Menstruation.
But then the feminists took over, and everything changed. Now we’re forced to endure grotesque advertisements which mention heathen words like ‘vagina’, ‘tampons’ and ‘hole’. The top two most complained about advertisements of 2014 so far were created for Carefree.
Zhenya at beyond escapism writes, “Always already perfect: beauty and female characters in fantasy books” (Zhenya also has a number of great book reviews at her blog too):
But there’s another feature that’s missing from this list, at least when it comes to the major female characters in fantasy. I’ve written about this before, but today I felt a Need to Vent, and in any case I think this is a topic that deserves a post of its own. It’s time to talk about beauty – or more specifically, the way that beauty is pretty much compulsory for the major female characters in a fantasy novel.
Anna at Flaming Moth writes, “Macbeth, Prophesy and Trauma“:
Lady Macbeth, for example, is less and more than she has been given credit for. When, in lines that fix themselves in the listener’s memory, she tells her husband that she would kill her own child if she had sworn to do so, it has usually been read as a mark of her callousness, forgetting that her point is that this is the most horrifying thing she can think of doing. When she asks for the help of dark powers, rather than demonstrating her fiendishness, she shows her vulnerability by revealing to us that she doesn’t have the necessary resolve to perform evil deeds without them. Immediately after Duncan’s murder she even admits, privately, that she was not capable of bringing herself to do it.
gillpolak writes, “On the suppression and bastardisation of minority voices“:
The writers who tell me that they are entitled to write about any story in the world bug me. These are the writers who claim that the artist has privilege of story regardless of culture and regardless of understanding and regardless of permissions and regardless of power differentials. I’ve been trying to explain to them that writing is never culturally neutral and that there are ethics involved. I’ve said that cultural appropriation is not a good thing and tried to explain why. I’ve said many things. Some writers listen and learn respect. Some writers seem to have a selective deafness, quite possibly arising from their culturally privileged background.
Scarlett Harris at The Scarlett Woman writes, “Leaning In to Grey’s Anatomy” (Spoiler Alert):
Across its ten season run, Grey’s has dealt with parenting, childlessness, abortion, romantic relationships—both heterosexual and otherwise, illness, loss, friendship and career mostly through the eyes of its female protagonist, Meredith Grey, and her colleagues, friends and family: Cristina, Izzie, Lexie, Callie, Arizona, April, Addison, Bailey and so on. This season, though, seemed to really tap into the oft-mentioned feminist issue of “having it all” (meaning kids and career) and what happens when a woman shuns that path.
Sky Croeser writes at Global Comment, “Maleficent: an anarchafeminist fairytale?“:
I’ll start off with the news that will surprise no one. Maleficent is overwhelmingly white: the only notable role for a non-white character is a captain sent out to destroy Maleficent, played by John Macmillan. Beauty is not only glaringly white, but also thin and conventionally attractive (notwithstanding augmented cheekbones). Disney is obviously not brave enough to explore a world that includes people of colour and unconventionally beautiful people as protagonists, even if that world is populated by walking trees and fairies.
And now for the surprise: Maleficent felt like a credible anarchafeminist fairytale (especially if you consider the whiteness of the film to mirror, sadly, the frequent failures of anarchist and feminist communities to fully address the ongoing impacts of structural racism).
No Award went to the movies and saw Snowpiercer. Liz wrote about it here, “No Award goes to the movies: Snowpiercer” and Stephanie here, “snowpiercer: the revolution cannot be trusted if it’s white“. Both great reviews looking at different aspects of the movies, and not agreeing on it at all.
Kerryn Goldsworthy guest posts at Hoyden About Town with, “Every Australian Novel Ever!“. It’s funny, you really want to read it.
Rachel at the Abyss of Perfect Knowledge writes, “Dear Australian Liberal National Party“:
It is obvious you kept this stereotype of “the ideal Australian LNP voting family” in mind when you ignored the fact that 719,700 Australians were unemployed in May 2014. You kept this stereotype in mind when you ignored the fact that there were only 146,100 job vacancies in Australia during May 2014. It looks to me like the numbers don’t exactly add up. You kept this stereotype at the forefront of your minds when you ignored the fact that 2,265,000 Australians are living below the poverty line. My family falls below this line.
My family is my mother. She works two jobs, seven days per week and still does not earn enough from her jobs to pay rent, bills and living costs. Unlike your stereotype of drinking, partying hard and going to music festivals I give most of the money I receive from Centrelink (i.e. taxpayers) to my mother so I can continue to live at home. She would not be able to keep me at home without this money.
Ebs at The Travelling Unicorn writes, “To be black is to be political“:
The judgment happened when I met a certain community member last night. She looked me up and down when she was introduced me and with a critical eye said “I’ve never met you before”. I politely brushed it off but fact of the matter is, I’ve met her a million times over.
Like many blackfellas, my moderate and sometimes uncontroversial public demeanor means that I am passed off as just another white claiming heritage, when in reality, I know who I am, I know who you are and I am careful as fuck around you.
Why? Because despite your immense intelligence and connection to certain parts of my community, you are a ticking time bomb. A lateral violence molotov cocktail that is just waiting for me to fuck up so you can discredit me in any circles that you can.
Veronica Sheen writes at The Conversation, “Ten job seekers per vacancy: a reality check on welfare overhaul“:
The overall unemployment rate is now 6%, and 13.5% for 15-24 year olds. In May there were 146,000 job vacancies with 720,000 people unemployed. Another 920,000 were underemployed and wanting more hours of work. Underemployment is a very important labour market indicator as, under the terms of internationally agreed labour statistics collection, an individual is counted as employed if working one hour a week for pay or profit.
Altogether, these figures mean 1.64 million people who have no work or not enough work are potentially competing for available job vacancies.
Ariane at Ariane’s Little World writes, “Musings on Radical Inclusion“:
The idea of radical inclusion seems both wonderful and deeply problematic to me. On the one hand, this principle is probably 90% of the reason I decided to go. It’s very clear that I don’t have to already be part of the community to welcomed by it. That’s awesome. But when I start to think about the implications of being truly radically inclusive, that pesky “other hand” gives me trouble. To be inclusive, and to welcome people, implies that the space is safe and accessible for those people. To be inclusive and welcoming to everyone implies a space is safe and accessible to everyone, and I’m not entirely sure that such a space can actually exist, even in theory.
Stephanie at No Award writes, “things your government has been doing“:
UGH, AUSPOL. Why must you be the blurst? Anyway, to keep you up to date on reasons to hate our federal government, here’s a summary of some things over the last week. Don’t worry, there’s more.
Rebecca Shaw writes at SBS, “Comment: Opponents of same-sex parenting are part of the problem“:
In this week’s ‘news that is shocking to nobody except for those who blindly ignore logic and reason because of ideology’, a study from researchers at the University of Melbourne has found that children of same-sex couples do just as well as children with heterosexual parents, and are, in fact, above-average on a number of key measures of physical health and social well-being.
The research surveyed 315 same-sex attracted parents with a total of 500 children aged up to 17 years old. Lead researcher Dr Simon Crouch attributed the positive differences to same-sex couples facing less pressure to fulfill ‘traditional’ gender roles, leading to a more equitable distribution of child-care and work responsibilities, which contributes to a more harmonious household and a positive impact on the children’s health.
Rainbow Lotus at Signposts and Mirrors writes, “Bi-activism and Sisyphus“:
For some years now I’ve been involved in a local bi community, and have been on the committee of an organisation which provides support and engages in raising bi-visibility.
I am increasingly feeling like the proverbial Sisyphus because not only does it feel like that we are continually having to stick our hand up to say, ‘don’t forget about us’ within the LGbTI (lower case ‘b’ intentional, see this post) communities, but I also feel like there is a lack of willingness to stand up and be engaged by those who identify as ‘b’ or otherwise attracted to more than one gender.
Rebecca Shaw writes at Brocklesnitch, “Thorplease“:
Ian Thorpe and I are almost exactly the same age, give or a take a few weeks. In 2000 when we were both 17, we were in slightly different places. I was at home in my regional Queensland town of Toowoomba, watching the Sydney Olympics with my family. At the same time, he was becoming the most successful athlete at those Olympics, and the most talked about person in Australia. A lot of this talk was admiration for his amazing achievements in swimming, but another part of it was discussion about his sexuality. About the way he talked, his voice, his soft-spoken way, and the fact that maybe he was gay. That he probably was gay. In the following years he was asked about his sexuality over and over again. It was discussed in the media, and by the public (don’t kid yourselves), constantly. And he was forced to answer the question, over and over again. And he chose to deny it. Until now. For whatever reason, he has decided to go on television and make it final, to tell us for once and for all that he is not heterosexual.
Rebecca Shaw also writes at Kings Tribune this month with, “Queer women and straight men“:
This could be a cynical conclusion to draw, but this issue was not invented by Tinder and is certainly not restricted to Tinder. At least on Tinder you can just swipe away the problem without being approached. There are plenty of other apps where queer women are inundated with messages from men attempting to convince them that they just need a man.
The issue is not even restricted to the Internet. In the year of our Beyoncé 2014, the mindset of some straight men that you encounter online, within apps, out in the real world and in a lot movies is STILL that lesbians are just waiting for the right man to come along. Women can’t possibly be satisfied emotionally or sexually with only each other. The patriarchy benefits straight men the most, and some of them are bewildered and scared by the thought that women can somehow get along without them.
Jay Aaminah Khan writes at days like crazy paving, “So You Just Met a Bisexual: a Guide for Allies (and “Allies”)“:
Congratulations! You just met your very first bisexual! Isn’t it exciting? I’m sure you’re brimming with questions about everything from your new friend’s sex life to whether or not it’s true that they’re invisible. (They are. All bisexuals have the ability to disappear whenever they like.) Before you draw up a list and start the interrogation, however, let me preempt a few of the questions you’re most likely to ask – and explain to you why you probably ought not ask them.
Elizabeth writes at Spilt Milk, “Queer mothering in a straight world: AMIRCI Conference Paper“:
For the first four years of my daughter’s life I was, to the casual observer, a straight woman. That is to say that for her formative years, our family fit the social norm. Her family structure — mum, dad, kid — was represented in almost every picture book, almost every television programme, and was replicated in almost all of the suburban homes around her. Our family was visible, in that we were allowed to be seen anywhere, and invisible in that we appeared so normal as to be entirely unremarkable. And like so many couples, we were afforded a level of comfort that we took for granted even as it demanded a certain amount of silence about how very unhappy we were.
Celeste Liddle writes at The Guardian, “We must remember Indigenous warriors who fought war itself” *TW: Rape*
As Paul Daley wrote on Monday, getting the war memorial and the public to acknowledge the frontier wars is difficult enough. Within the story of frontier conflict though, we need to remember so much more. If we don’t, we risk neglecting our true history – especially the trials of women, many of whom have descendants alive today.
We need to remember those women who carried out resistance actions, such as the “howling hideous old hag” Colonel Peter Warburton’s party captured during their exploration of Victoria. This woman deliberately led Warburton’s party in the opposite direction to native wells, dehydrating them and their camels for two days, and also keeping them away from local clans.
Bree Blakeman writes at Field Notes & Footnotes, “Rest in Peace Amala.“:
Rest in Peace amala, my old Mummy, who always told me that I didn’t treat my husband right, whose company I adored. (If one could explain the art of witty, acerbic conversation in Yolŋu-matha, and the skilful play on words, switching across and back between languages.) Countless hours together in company under the mango tree, weaving, talking, smoking and drinking tea (and amala would often break into song, so quietly, half facing away). She taught my dhuway what it meant to be a son-in-law and he duly avoided her as his mokul, sending gifts and care through his galay, my brothers and sisters. She was my amala and I was her waku.
Celeste Liddle writes at Rantings of an Aboriginal Feminist, “On diverse views of Constitutional Recognition“:
Part of the reason the discussion on Constitutional Recognition is being held is that sections of the constitution were written specifically to exclude Indigenous people. This is evident from the race power that it includes; the amendment of which has been recommended by the expert panel. Therefore, a question arising from sections of the community is this: do we wish this historical example of institutionalised racism to be rectified simply by our inclusion within the constitution, or are there other moves that we should take to ensure that we are coming to the table as respected original peoples and negotiating the way forward for this country on equal footing?
Celeste Liddle also provided a series of profiles as an alternative to the Miss Naidoc titles, guest posted by many different authors, I will link to them all: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13. Celeste’s explanation for the Ms Naidoc profiles is, “Stuff “Miss NAIDOC”. Bring on the first annual “Ms NAIDOC”!”
Bodies and body image
Clem Bastow at Daily Life writes, “Prince Fielder: why everyone is talking about this naked male athlete“:
This is why representation is so important: if you can see it, you can be it. And in this case, “it” doesn’t necessarily mean “a pinup”, but when your body type is not only rarely seen in mainstream media, but on the occasion it is seen it’s played for laughs, it’s not hard to imagine that seeing a bigger dude a) reach the top of his game and b) have praise heaped on him as a newly minted sex symbol is a big deal. For the rest of us, it’s cause to stop for a moment and wonder how much of what we think (or “know”) is attractive is down to what the media tells us is so.
Chally writes at Zero at the Bone, “Being ill when you’re already ill“:
I’m ill. It’s what I think of as “normal person sick,” a fever, a cough, sneezing, and weakness that’s keeping me in bed and from my usual routine. It’s not pleasant in and of itself, but it is pleasant to be able to explain this and get instant understanding and sympathy, because I’m rather used to questions and justifications as a person with a chronic illness. You don’t have to explain “normal sick”. You don’t have to rely on someone accepting that you’re not just being lazy or exaggerating.
Kath at Fat Heffalump, writes, “No Fat Chicks“:
Firstly, most of you already know, I’m a fat chick. I’m also a single fat chick. Apparently, being a fat chick is a BAD THING. The author of the blog/book, Adrienne Santos-Longhurst says that she is offering “the no BS guide to dating with confidence for the plus size girl” – so let me just get this right. Being a plus size girl is ok, but being a fat chick is not. Indeed, that is what she says at the top of the page… “If you let your size dictate how and who you date then YOU, my dear, are a Fat Chick.”
Brianna Doolan at Lip Mag writes, “masculinism and the ‘f’ word: a terrifying tale in modern discourse“:
An Broc claims that feminism has an inherent misandry (the hatred of men) and that it perpetuates the idea that ‘all men are rapists, all men are wicked and there’s this big evil patriarchy which never existed in history…feminism tends to demonise all men and holds all men guilty for the crimes of a few.’
Alternatively he believes in a concept called ‘feminin-ism’, a novel idea of a woman who identifies as a feminist but wants to know how to protect herself.
Maeve Marsden writes at Daily Life, “Just for Laughs: the world’s favourite comedy festival has no room for women“:
This morning I got an email from the Sydney Opera House informing me that I could buy tickets to “the world’s favourite comedy festival.” I love comedy, I thought. Indeed, I perform comedy. This is the festival for me!
Except it isn’t.
Like so many comedy festivals, events, open mic nights and variety shows, ‘Just for Laughs’ has just announced an exclusively male line up. Now, I’m not saying that Bill Bailey, Trevor Noah, Rhys Darby, Jim Gaffigan and Dave Thornton aren’t funny, I am just completely fed up with the exclusion of women in Australian comedy.
Scuba Nurse at The Hand Mirror writes, “Shouting from water skis“:
Sometimes being a woman in a male dominated field feels a bit like trying to teach from water-skis.
No, water-skis are not the best platform to teach from.
Race and Racism
Yassmin writes at Redefining the Narrative, “Are you worried about the European elections?“:
The recent European Union elections have given a legitimate seat to quite a few far right parties, prompting questions around where this level of extremism is coming from, and to what end it is leading?
The Huffpost reports on some of the most extreme, including the Dutch party which wants to rid the country of Moroccans (who were ironically brought in by the Dutch themselves to bolster their workforce), a group in Hungary who want all Jews to sign a register (sound familiar?) and a number of strongly anti-immigration and anti-European parties across the continent.
It is extremely disappointing to see such strong levels of hatred, downright racism and homophobic rhetoric coming out of so called ‘civilised’ nations. We have been frustrated in Australia with the level of anti-asylum seeker language, but it hasn’t reached the levels of mainland Europe and the Tea Party across the pond. Where is this all coming from, why is it so and how can we tackle it?
Shae at Freerange in Suburbia writes, “Awkward“:
The other Mum cocks her head to the side, looks back at the team, looks back at me and has a face that says I’m confused. She is silent.
That’s all it takes for my must-I-be-having-this-conversation-and-it’s-sure-not-to-go-well-and-I’m-destined-to-be-the-weirdo-again brain to decide I should just jump in. Let’s get it over with. GO.
“She’s not in school uniform because she doesn’t go to school. That is we home educate. She’s the same age as these girls though and even knows one of them from her sister’s ballet”. This all spills out in one breath and without punctuation. I’m kind of spewing forth this info at the poor woman.
Shae at Freerange in Suburbia also writes, “This is Willow. She loves sharks.“:
Her other big passion, aside from ballet and Monster High dolls, is SHARKS. Willow loves sharks. Particularly Great White Sharks. We have borrowed every shark book from the library at least twice, watched all the docos and browsed a lot of you tube. Willow loves them so much that on our recent trip to Seaworld she stared into the tank, sighed, and asked “do you think they’re happy in there?” rather than being pumped to see them up close. She has a big heart.
She is worried the numbers of great white shark, and others, are in decline. She wants to know why practices like shark netting, shark culls and killing sharks for fin soup are still allowed. She has concern for the health of the ocean where her favorite animals live.
Penguin unearthed writes, “Oral History“:
Tui used to love to imitate his father, Henry Haswell, when he was in full flight complaining about his dinner table. To tell the story, my dad started putting on the accent of Henry Haswell and quoting him – who apparently had the scottish accent common to the people in their part of New Zealand at the time (Henry’s parents were part of the great Nova Scotian migration to northern New Zealand in the 1850s).
So my father was imitating the voice of a man who died more than a hundred years ago, which had been passed on to him by his father, via Tui. It is quite amazing to see oral history in action like that.
Violence – Trigger warnings for all posts in this section
Scarlett Harris writes at The Scarlett Woman, “Walk A Mile in Their Shoes.“:
From here the conversation turned to domestic violence victims and, as we oft hear, “why they just don’t leave” and that “there would have to be some evidence of years of abuse” when victims are pushed to the brink and end up murdering their abusers. By this point I was livid and held myself back from saying what I am about to type lest I damage my at-arms-length but daily relationship with these people: intimate partner violence doesn’t just happen out of the blue. It’s not like one day your loving, equal partner snaps and hits you and that’s it: you leave them (although I’m sure there are a small amount of cases like this, the vast majority of abusers have a pattern of behaviour prior that results in violence).
Liz Barr at No Award writes, “Power, abuse, fandom“:
Is the internet safe for kids? AHAHAHAHA NO. And I’m not here to tell people with real, actual children how to supervise them online. I just have a cat, and I can assure you that he’s not allowed on the internet without an adult human present.
But here’s the thing: fans create fan work, and some of these artefacts are problematic in terms of their sexualised portrayal of children.
Kath at Fat Heffalump writes, “I Stand With Shakesville“:
The truth is, there are lots of things you can do. Start by believing women who talk about this abuse and harassment. Help by saying clearly and publicly “This is wrong. This has to stop.” Signal boost when women write about the abuse and harassment they face. When other people make excuses about the abuse and harassment women deal with, challenge them. Tell them it is not acceptable to minimise or excuse the abuse and harassment. Campaign online platforms like Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, and any others to put in adequate security for their users – proper block functions, well moderated abuse reporting systems, clear anti-abuse terms of service requirements and strong anti-hacking/spam systems. If you know a woman who is being harassed/abused online, listen to her when she needs to vent. Ask her if she’s OK and if there are any ways you can help. Often just knowing someone cares and is listening is the thing that is least expressed. Support her if she goes to the authorities to report it. Document anything you receive by being associated with her.
tigtog writes at Hoyden About Town, “Procedure Fail: WisCon, Feminism and Safe Spaces“:
Readers who are already part of SF fandom have probably seen a lot of this WisCon 38 fallout already, and there is a great deal of related/background reading that might seem daunting to those anyone who hasn’t heard about this at all (I certainly haven’t read everything myself), but this situation is worth people outside SFF reading about because one of the major revelations that has come to light about how/why this was mishandled so badly was that decision-makers were not made aware of nor did they factcheck all relevant information before reaching their decision: precedents regarding a similar situation at a different convention in recent years that was mishandled in a way that should have made WisCon more alert to avoidable mistakes, past accusations/confessions against/from the accused, details of reports from accusers in this situation not conveyed, the accused was given further followup and input into the final decision but the accusers were not, and claims about legal obligations made by the accused have since been revealed to be false. Since this sort of institutional memory-holing of relevant history regarding serial harassers and non-transparency of procedures to the accusers is precisely the sort of social convention that serial harassers rely upon in order to keep getting away with what they do, alongside the fallacy that harassers are obvious deviants who could never be part of my well-ordered community (when in fact they are commonly those with the well-liked/respected status to be given the benefit of the doubt when/if reports are made against them), it’s worth reading about the mistakes of communities with which one isn’t familiar so that one can learn about patterns to watch out for and procedural standards which need to be known and practised by decision-makers.
Mindy at Hoyden About Town writes, “Today in someone is wrong on the internet“:
Clicking through my favourite feminist blogs this morning I came across an interesting comment left by well lets call him Alphaboy (naturally on a post that had nothing whatsoever to do with his comment). Alphaboy (not his real name) is very concerned about throat cancers. Not just any throat cancer but ones caused by Human Papillomavirus (HPV). Not just any throat cancers caused by HPV but specifically the ones in men. (Can you see where this is heading? [ha! unintentional pun]). HPV throat cancers are believed to be primarily caused by oral sex.
I know November is almost over, and we’re rapidly approaching the horror month of the year, so have some posts of interest that I’ve found to take your mind of it.
s.e smith writes at This Ain’t Livin’, “Do Some Prisoners Matter More Than Others?“:
So when we talk about prison reform, many people shy away from talking about murderers and rapists and their rights, as well as the fact that they deserve justice. Despite the fact that the racial disparities seen in nonviolent drug convictions, robberies, and similar crimes are also seen with rape and murder, there’s an unwillingness to engage with issues like the possibility of profiling, false conviction, harsher sentences because of an offender’s race, and the myriad complicating factors that interfere with true equality for prisoners in the US, all of whom do in fact deserve human rights, no matter what their crimes.
Libby Anne at Love Joy Feminism writes, “I Am Not an Anti-Theist“:
For another thing, I’ve ceased to see a rejection of the supernatural as some sort of cure-all to the world’s problems. Part of this of course has been the issues of feminism and sexism percolating within movement atheism, on both blogs and at conferences, for the last several years. Sexism and misogyny are not a religious thing. They are a people thing. They are a patriarchy thing, and patriarchy came before religion. And then of course there are anti-vaxxers. It turns out you don’t have to be religious to latch dogmatically to demonstrably false and objectively harmful beliefs. If I imagine a world with no religion, the world I see is not actually a better world than the one we have today.
Yessenia writes at Queereka, “The Limits of Empathy“:
What is more difficult is imagining how to challenge their able-bodied-privileged assumption that I owe them compassion that is not afforded to me. That I must understand that they have no other way of knowing what it’s like. That they can have direct experience of ‘what it’s like,’ but my explicit statement that “this is actually not at all what it’s like” is completely irrelevant and a product not of my dual experience, but of my failure to understand their experience of not understanding me.
It’s not unlike other kinds of privilege. How many of us have had well-meaning theists patiently explain that theists have a deep commitment to the truth of their religion, and therefore just can’t possibly stand to hear us say it’s not true? (Yet the reverse is never considered). How many of us have had well-meaning straight allies tell us that they are fine with our sexuality, but we should keep it private and not hit on them? (Yet again, the reverse is never considered). How many of us as women have had (straight) men explain that women’s outfits are just too revealing or tempting sometimes and it can be so distracting? (Yet the reverse, once more, is not even discussed).
Anita Heiss writes, “Redfern Now: Not the Whole Truth“:
Following a hugely successful series one for both Blackfella Films and the ABC, it was hard to imagine the bar could’ve been raised any higher. However, within minutes of the first episode (aptly titled Where the Heart Is) going to air on October 31st, Australian viewers (604,000 of them!) were in tears having been gutted by the death of a young man, Richard, whose partner Peter (Kirk Page) was left to grieve amidst the battle of homophobia, custody issues and his own rights as next-of-kin.
Kat Muscat writes at Scum Mag, “So Your Dick Isn’t Perpetually Hard.“:
It was a strange thing to be reminded of, really, because no kidding sex with different male partners is going to be different. In the seven years I’ve been doing this whole intercourse thing that has always been the case; the ‘thank you Captain Obvious’ reaction was justified.
Since starting out, but this year in particular, I’ve found my feet as a poly, sex-positive girl so the summer of lurve hasn’t needed to end. It’s tricky to convey credibility in this area without sounding braggadocious, but however unscientific my encounters with bartenders, backpackers, boys from house parties and outta town (along with the occasional ex) are, it’s been enough to burst the bubble that guys are always up (get it) for casual sex. However, the myth persists both publicly, and to an extent privately; after a while of fooling around it always seems to be expected that we were now going to Have The Sex. Like ‘real’, heteronormative, the-apparent-point-of-it-all, penis-in-vagina sexy sex.
While generally a fan of this type of fucking, it is a ludicrously simplistic conceptualisation of Sex with a capital S. It also by necessity requires guys to get, and remain, hard. No pressure! Just, y’know, regardless of where you’re at emotionally, mentally, what work has been like, whether you’re actually feeling safe—all of which are separate from whether you wanna have the Sex—if we can’t do this one activity it’s all on you and is it because I’m not pretty? If we’ve gotten this far, that seems unlikely you’re repulsed by my physicality. And even if it is a matter of not feelin’ the spark, come the fuck on, that is also fine. Chemistry, both in science and in between the sheets, is a complex business.
One of the sexiest things a guy has said to yours truly is, ‘sometimes it takes me a long time to get going. Maybe won’t even happen tonight at all’. This admission wasn’t something that got in the way of much playtime. In fact, it was even better because yay communication. The expectation had been lifted from both of us. We didn’t have to do anything unless it felt good; there was no single activity that got to arbitrarily mark the You Have Now Had Sex point.
Celeste Liddle at Rantings of an Aboriginal Feminist writes, “Why, why, why, “vagina”?“:
Now that that is out of the way, allow me to clarify. Vaginas are wonderful, magnificent parts of a woman’s anatomy. They can give birth; give pleasure. They’re strong and resilient. And somewhere along the way they have managed to become the only part of a woman’s genitalia that’s worth mentioning. In fact, the word has morphed and the wonderfully complex variety of folds, nerves, mounds down there are all collectively and colloquially as “the vagina”. At the end of the day, that’s the only really important bit, right?
Well no. It really isn’t. To suggest it is is about as heteronormative and misogynistic as you can get. It undoes a fair chunk of work those feminists back in the 70s did of not only ensuring women knew their genitalia had different parts that are all important, but also re-including clitorises in medical textbooks after they had been omitted for decades. I’m not being over-the-top here, I promise. It’s just that I can’t think of a single time where I have heard the entirety of a man’s genitalia referred to as “the penis”. Generally speaking, we tend to acknowledge that there are other bits there that have importance and refer to them accordingly.
Laurie Penny at The Guardian writes, “If you’re a feminist you’ll be called a man-hater. You don’t need rebranding“:
he rebranding of feminism as an aspirational lifestyle choice, a desirable accessory, as easy to adjust to as a detox diet and just as unthreatening, is not a new idea. Nor is ELLE magazine even the first glossy to attempt the task in recent years. But unfortunately there’s only so much you can “rebrand” feminism without losing its essential energy, which is difficult, challenging, and full of righteous anger. You can smooth it out and sex it up, but ultimately the reason many people find the word feminism frightening is that it is a fearful thing for anyone invested in male privilege. Feminism asks men to embrace a world where they do not get extra special treats merely because they were born male. Any number of jazzy fonts won’t make that easy to swallow.
Robert Jackson Bennett writes, “On women, and empathy, and con games“:
The problem was that, in this Big, Really Important Part, the protagonist encountered a character unlike any other in the book so far, a foreign, alien, incomprehensible being that I suddenly discovered I had no idea how to write.
Was it some fantastical entity? A Lovecraftian horror? Some tortuous, unfathomable monster?
No. It was a woman.
Greg Sandoval at The Verve writes, “The end of kindness: weev and the cult of the angry young man“:
She had enraged scores of men for supporting a call to moderate reader comments, which is of course common practice now. Sierra went public about the threats, writing on her blog, “It’s better to talk about it than to just disappear.”
But disappear is exactly what she did next. Andrew “weev” Auernheimer, a well-known provocateur, hacker, and anti-Semite, circulated her home address and Social Security number online. He also made false statements about her being a battered wife and a former prostitute. Not only did Sierra find herself a target for identity theft, but all the people who had threatened to brutally rape and kill her now knew where she lived. So, she logged off and didn’t return to the web until two months ago. She gave up the book deals, speaking engagements, and even fled her home. An anonymous internet group had chased her off the web and out of tech, and it finally managed to hijack her offline life.
Gunjan Sharma at dnaIndia writes, “India gets first radio station – Q Radio dedicated to LGBT community“:
The country’s lesbian, gay, transgender and bisexual (LGTB) community can now celebrate freedom of airwaves with a round-the-clock radio station dedicated specifically to them.
‘Q Radio’ which started operating from Bangalore this September claims to be the first radio station in India that is tailored for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender audience.
Amy McQuire writes at Tracker, “No winners in the blame game“:
For one – the central premise that the Left are silent about violence against Aboriginal women is wrong and offensive. Aboriginal women who identify on all sides of the political spectrum are concerned about this problem.
We’re not talking about violence against unknown women. We are talking about violence against our sisters, mothers, cousins and friends.
I don’t believe any Aboriginal woman has ever sought to elevate concerns over culture above the safety of our women.
It’s not a competition about who cares the most and I don’t understand how anyone could make such a blanket accusation.
It would be inhumane to remain silent. But inciting moral panics amongst largely uninformed Australians, accustomed to viewing blackfellas as the “other”, is just as insidious.
Amanda Marcotte at The Raw Story writes, “For The Misogynist Trolls: Your Repulsive Personality Is Not Inevitable“:
As I’ve pointed out over and over again while wielding the banhammer, if the haters took the time they spent hating feminists and creating threatening anti-feminist Facebook pages, and instead put that time towards self-improvement, they might actually find their sexual prospects brightening. Probably not with 21-year-old club girls, but there are a lot of women out there! Simply not being a repulsive choad and take you a long way. But the message isn’t sinking it.
I realize that part of the reason is that I, because of my desire not to ‘splain things that I think you already know, have never articulated what kind of self-improvement project that misogynists could take on instead of trolling feminists online. But their rising levels of hate and frustration have made it clear that they may just not know! So, in interests of making life more pleasant for everyone around, I compiled a list of self-improvement projects to turn you from a bitter asshole who repels women to someone who can get a date and is less interested in blaming feminism for all your problems. Next time you feel the urge to waste time trolling feminists online, try one of these projects instead!
Neil Gaiman at The Guardian writes, “Neil Gaiman: Why our future depends on libraries, reading and daydreaming“:
It’s not one to one: you can’t say that a literate society has no criminality. But there are very real correlations.
And I think some of those correlations, the simplest, come from something very simple. Literate people read fiction.
Fiction has two uses. Firstly, it’s a gateway drug to reading. The drive to know what happens next, to want to turn the page, the need to keep going, even if it’s hard, because someone’s in trouble and you have to know how it’s all going to end … that’s a very real drive. And it forces you to learn new words, to think new thoughts, to keep going. To discover that reading per se is pleasurable. Once you learn that, you’re on the road to reading everything. And reading is key. There were noises made briefly, a few years ago, about the idea that we were living in a post-literate world, in which the ability to make sense out of written words was somehow redundant, but those days are gone: words are more important than they ever were: we navigate the world with words, and as the world slips onto the web, we need to follow, to communicate and to comprehend what we are reading. People who cannot understand each other cannot exchange ideas, cannot communicate, and translation programs only go so far.
The simplest way to make sure that we raise literate children is to teach them to read, and to show them that reading is a pleasurable activity. And that means, at its simplest, finding books that they enjoy, giving them access to those books, and letting them read them.
jessamyn at Geek Feminism writes, “Wednesday Geek Woman: Mildred Dresselhaus“:
But Dresselhaus was into carbon before it was cool, and has been a professor at MIT since the 60s studying the physics of carbon materials. Her work has focused on the thermal and electrical properties of nanomaterials, and the way in which energy dissipation is different in nanostructured carbon. Her early work focused on difficult experimental studies of the electronic band structure of carbon materials and the effects of nanoscale confinement. And she was able to theoretically predict the existence of carbon nanotubes, some of their electronic properties, and the properties of graphene, years before either of these materials were prepared and measured. Her scientific achievements are extremely impressive, and she has gotten a lot of honors accordingly.
And as you can imagine, things have changed a lot for women in science over the course of her career. When she began at MIT, less than 5% of students were female, and these days it’s more like 40%. But of course, it helps female students quite a bit to see female role models, like Dresselhaus.
Tara Culp-Ressler at Think Progress writes, “In An Ugly Custody Battle, Woman’s Abortion Used As ‘Proof’ She’s Unfit To Raise Kids“:
A Manhattan woman is currently embroiled in a high-profile custody battle with her ex-husband, a wealthy bank executive. The case is making headlines because a New York judge decided to consider her decision to terminate a pregnancy as potential evidence that she’s not fit to care for her two young children.
38-year-old Lisa Mehos had an abortion nearly a year after she divorced her husband, 59-year-old Manuel John Mehos. In an interview with Salon, Mehos explained that her ex-husband found out about it because his lawyers subpoenaed her medical records to use as evidence in the custody case. Now, they’re arguing that it’s proof of her dishonesty and emotional instability.
The lawyer representing Mehos’ ex-husband, Eleanor Alter, suggests that the abortion “calls her credibility into question” because she is a Catholic. Alter also says it undermines Mehos’ claim that her tumultuous relationship with her ex-husband is actually what has caused her stress, since having sex out of wedlock and deciding to end a pregnancy are also “traumatic” experiences. “She’s traumatized by the abortion I presume, or worse, if she wasn’t traumatized by it,” Alter noted.
Anna Pulley at Role/Reboot writes, “Why It’s Tough To Be Bisexual“:
Since I came out over a decade ago, I’ve been a virulent defender of bisexuality. I’ve written numerous articles, dispelled stupid myths, and gotten in far too many heated arguments about the misunderstood goth teenager of sexual identities. While I’m done getting in knife fights over whether Willow from “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” was really gay or really bi, I’ve noticed a cultural shift in people’s willingness to use the word “bisexual” as an identity or descriptor of their sexual behaviors (with the exception of surveys and those in the medical establishment).
“Bisexual” is increasingly and fervently treated as the worst kind of cooties. Most people who are attracted to more than one gender prefer to identify as anything but bisexual, whether that’s queer, omnisexual, pansexual, homo- or hetero-flexible, straightish, fluid, polysexual, “on the down low,” “gay for pay,” (e.g. porn) and on and on.
Clementine Ford at Daily Life writes, “Excused for sexually humiliating a woman“:
This communal act of disregard for another human being is not an isolated incident. The news is full of examples of men bonding over the violation of women, from Steubenville to the pack rapes in Cleveland, Texas to Daisy Coleman in Maryville; the pack rape of a 13 year old runaway in Austin, Texas to the gang rape of a 16 year old homeless girl in Brunswick; the rape and subsequent murder of Jyoti Singh Pandey on a New Delhi bus to the almost identical attack on Anene Booysen in Cape Town to the recent brutilisation of a young Kenyan girl that has left her in a wheelchair.
Not all of the incidents linked to directly above are exactly the same, but they all have one thing in common: they exist on a continuum of violence that is supported by a perceived sense of unquestionable masculine entitlement. Because what leads a group of men to participate in the pack degradation of another human being other than the deeply held belief that it is their right to do so?
When Deblaquiere contacted McDonald via text to say, “I just had a f—in sick idea pop into my head, f— her n film it”, he wasn’t demonstrating a unique imagination. Rather, he was following in the footsteps of a long line of similarly privileged men who are empowered by society to behave exactly as they like towards women, and who will continue to be so as long as incidents like these are written off as the simple mistakes of men who got a little too carried away.
Anna Hart at Sabotage Times writes, “Bisexuality Is Not As Much Fun As You Think“:
But I lied mainly because I was still figuring out what the fuck I “was”. Lola was my second serious girlfriend, but I’d also been really into a boyfriend when I was 17. I was pretty damn sure I wasn’t gay. I also knew, every time I looked at Lola, that I wasn’t straight. I know that lying about your sexuality is a cut-and-dried 21st century sin, and I’m not proud of it, but it seemed heartless to put my parents through this particular wringer until I was 100% sure what exactly it was about my sexuality I had to tell them. Plus I didn’t want to be popping in and out of the closet like a jack-in-the-box. Telling your family that you’re gay remains a very brave, potentially traumatic and admirable decision. Announcing that you are “straight, after all, folks”? That’s just embarrassing.
The main hitch was that I hated the word “bisexual”. Lola and my previous girlfriend, Mia, were both gay, with gay friends, who teased me good-naturedly for being “a bicycle”, as they put it. Without exception, my gay friends thought that bisexuality was nonsense, and that I was either gay or in denial or straight and in denial. Their teasing was good-natured and – I thought at the time – harmless, but I was called a “part-timer” and “half-a-gay”.
Catholics for Choice writes, “New Video Sheds Light on Religious Extremism at the UN“:
Jon O’Brien, president of Catholics for Choice, noted that the Holy See’s obstructionism is ongoing, even under the new pope. “Earlier this year, as the conclave to elect Pope Francis took place, the Vatican collaborated with Iran and Russia in stymieing progress on a simple statement condemning violence against women. Since his election, we have seen more of the same. The Holy See has expressed its opposition to sustainable development and continues to rail against reproductive health services at every opportunity. It’s high time that the Vatican is required to act as other religions do at the UN. Religious voices are important, but should not be granted extra deference simply because they are religious.”
Jaclyn Friedman at The American Prospect writes, “A Good Men’s Rights Movement Is Hard to Find“:
What makes the MRAs particularly insidious is their canny co-optation of social-justice lingo. While Pick Up Artists are perfectly plain that all they care about is using women for sex, MRAs claim to be a movement for positive change, with the stated aim of getting men recognized as an oppressed class—and women, especially but not exclusively feminists, as men’s oppressors. It’s a narrative effective enough to snow the mainstream media: Just this past weekend, The Daily Beast ran a profile of MRAs that painted them as a legitimate movement overshadowed by a few extremists. Trouble is, even the man writer R. Todd Kelly singled out as the great “moderate” hope that other MRAs should emulate—W.F. Price, of the blog “The Spearhead”—is anything but. According to Futrelle, “This is a guy who … blames the epidemic of rape in the armed forces on women, who celebrated one Mothers Day with a vicious transphobic rant, and who once used the tragic death of a woman who’d just graduated from college to argue that ‘after 25, women are just wasting time.’ He published posts on why women’s suffrage is a bad idea. Plus, have you methiscommenters?”
In some ways, the manosphere is old news. As long as there has been feminism, there has been a misogynist backlash. Warren Farrell, considered by many to be the father of the modern men’s rights movement, has been at it since the ’80s. But the Internet has proven a powerful accelerant for these discontents: According to Alexa.com, a web analytics service, A Voice For Men’s traffic has more than doubled in the past year; the site’s U.S. traffic ranks at 10,303 as of this writing (by way of comparison, the Prospect is ranked at 16,142).
Barbara Fredrickson at CNN writes, “10 things you might not know about love“:
2. Love is not exclusive.
We tend to think of love in the same breath as loved ones. When you take these to be only your innermost circle of family and friends, you inadvertently and severely constrain your opportunities for health, growth and well-being.
In reality, you can experience micro-moments of connection with anyone — whether your soul mate or a stranger. So long as you feel safe and can forge the right kind of connection, the conditions for experiencing the emotion of love are in place.
Sara Saleh at New Matilda writes, “Asylum Seekers Risk More Than Words“:
Labelling asylum seekers as “illegal arrivals” because they have come by boat, is like drawing attention to the illegality of trespassing when someone flees their burning house through the neighbour’s garden.
That is why context is so important — context that this language ignores by criminalising asylum seekers who, until processing stalled last year, were found to be genuine refugees 90 per cent of the time.
Immigration Minister Scott Morrison has defended this language by saying that the UN Refugee Convention defines illegal entry as people who come without a valid permit for entry into the country.
But the convention also guards the right to seek asylum — by boat or otherwise — in international law, and requires that no refugee be penalised by states for doing so.
Lin McDevitt-Pugh writes at NetSheila, “Sexuality Research at Work“:
In the Netherlands, most gays and lesbians are out of the closet at work and experience work in a similar way to their heterosexual colleagues. Bisexuals are largely hidden at work and experience more problems as a result. On Coming Out Day last week the Dutch Institute for Social Research* (SCP) published its research on sexual orientation at work.
The research concludes that 40% of the people who are attracted to people of the same sex are closeted at work. Kuyper’s research into sexual orientation at work found that 2.3% of male and 4% of female employees are bisexual. The figures are different to those found in previous studies, probably because the questions were asked differently. So anyone wanting to know how many bisexual people live and work in the Netherlands will have to hold their breath until new, definitive research is done. Meanwhile, brace yourself for significantly disturbing results. 74% of bisexual men are in the closet at work. Bisexual employees are more often looking for a new job, have twice as many conflicts with colleagues, experience negative attitudes and are more often bullied. They have more health problems.
Diane Revoluta writes, “At Every Age and Every Stage“:
Between the ages of 5 and 10, I am conditioned to be empathetic, sensitive and kind, while my male classmates are taught to be hard-working, resilient and confident.
At age 11, when family friends come over for dinner, I watch as the women busy themselves cleaning up the meal while the men sit in the lounge discussing politics.
At age 13, I go to high school and realise that smart girls are not attractive girls, and my popularity would be better served if I sit slumped in the back of a classroom feigning disinterest rather than eagerly answering questions.
At age 14, upon losing the regional debating final, a guy from the other team shakes my hand, smirks and says that “for a girls team, you put up a good fight”.
At age 17, not one career advisor or teacher or adult suggests I should consider politics as a career, despite the fact I am that 17-year-old who is on all of the youth councils and student bodies, I am a debater, and I show an interest in political issues.
Laurie Penny at New Statement writes, “A discourse on brocialism“:
I’d like to say, first off that there are many things apart from the hair and cheekbones that I admire about Brand. He’s a damn fine prose stylist, and that matters to me. He uses language artfully without appearing to patronise, something most of the left has yet to get the hang of. He touches on a species of directionless rage against capitalism and its discontents that knows very well what it’s against without having a clear idea yet of what comes next, and being a comedian he is bound by no loyalty except to populism. And he manages without irony to say all these things, to appear in public as a spokesperson for the voiceless rage of a generation, whilst at the same time promoting a comedy tour called ‘Messiah Complex.’
But what about the women?
I know, I know that asking that female people be treated as fully human and equally deserving of liberation makes me an iron-knickered feminist killjoy and probably a closet liberal, but in that case there are rather a lot of us, and we’re angrier than you can possibly imagine at being told our job in the revolution is to look beautiful and encourage the men to do great works. Brand is hardly the only leftist man to boast a track record of objectification and of playing cheap misogyny for laughs. He gets away with it, according to most sources, because he’s a charming scoundrel, but when he speaks in that disarming, self-depracating way about his history of slutshaming his former conquests on live radio, we are invited to love and forgive him for it because that’s just what a rockstar does. Naysayers who insist on bringing up those uncomfortable incidents are stooges, spoiling the struggle. Acolytes who cannot tell the difference between a revolution that seduces – as any good revolution should – and a revolution that treats one half of its presumed members as chattel attack in hordes online. My friend and colleague Musa Okwonga came under fire last week merely for pointing out that “if you’re advocating a revolution of the way that things are being done, then it’s best not to risk alienating your feminist allies with a piece of flippant objectification in your opening sentence. It’s just not a good look.”
Kathryn Joyce writes at Slate, “Hana’s Story: An adoptee’s tragic fate, and how it could happen again” *trigger warning child abuse*:
“We look at our own children, and think, how could that go so horribly wrong?” said adoptive parent Maureen McCauley Evans, who attended the trial almost daily, writing comprehensive blog updates for supporters unable to attend. But she also had an idea how it happened. More than an adoptive parent, McCauley Evans is also the former executive director of the Joint Council on International Children’s Services, one of the top adoption advocacy organizations in the country, and had worked for two adoption agencies in the Maryland area. From this experience, she feels Hana’s case symbolizes some of the worst problems in adoption policy today: that families are only required by the Hague Convention on Adoption, an international treaty ratified by the United States, to have 10 hours of preparatory training before adopting, all of which can be done online; that once adoptions are finalized, families have no legal responsibility to report on their children’s well-being; and that a family was able to simultaneously adopt two older, traumatized, special needs children without having traveled to Ethiopia. That the Williamses took no steps to understand Hana and Immanuel’s background and believed that striking and withholding food were legitimate forms of discipline for adoptees—who may have gone hungry or been abused in the past—just made the situation that much worse.
Christopher Ketcham at Vice writes, “The Child-Rape Assembly Line: In Ritual Bathhouses of the Jewish Orthodoxy, Children Are Systematically Abused” *trigger warning rape, child abuse*
Ultra-Orthodox Jews who speak out about these abuses are ruined and condemned to exile by their own community. Dr. Amy Neustein, a nonfundamentalist Orthodox Jewish sociologist and editor of Tempest in the Temple: Jewish Communities and Child Sex Scandals, told me the story of a series of Hasidic mothers in Brooklyn she got to know who complained that their children were being preyed on by their husbands.
In these cases, the accused men “very quickly and effectively engage the rabbis, the Orthodox politicians, and powerful Orthodox rabbis who donate handsomely to political clubs.” The goal, she told me, is “to excise the mother from the child’s life.” Rabbinical courts cast the mothers aside, and the effects are permanent. The mother is “amputated.” One woman befriended by Dr. Neustein, a music student at a college outside New York, lost contact with all six of her children, including an infant she was breastfeeding at the time of their separation.
David Fisher writes at The New Zealand Herald, “Greatest NZ stories: Long, terrifying journey to become a mother“: *trigger warning – suicide*
Life edged towards tipping point. Lex won a study award, travelling to the United States, Canada and Europe to study Shakespeare production and was staying at a backpacker hostel in Zurich when life, structured as it was, caved in. Lex, with long hair and a beard, stood naked in a bathroom walled in mirrors and knew life had to change.
Lex returned and sought counselling. Childhood sexual abuse was worked through and, while driving home one day, Lex realised life had been lived with freedom from suicidal thoughts for three months.
But the epiphany was still to come. At one therapy session, counsellor Wayne Gates set out two chairs. “Lex,” he said, “you sit there and Sally will sit here,” he gestured to an empty chair. Lex inhabited both and played both parts, moving from one chair and character to the other, talking and talking, and crying. “That was me sitting in that chair,” said Lex to Wayne, pointing to the empty chair.
Sydney Magruder at Racialicious writes, “My Dad, the Feminist“:
“Y’know, I think you’d make a great president one day,” he beams. I smile at him, believing his every word.
And just like that, Daddy put roots in my heart. Roots that would one day grow into feminism.
As a child, Dad constantly reminded me that I was not limited by my gender, or by my Blackness. He celebrated them to no end, constantly praising my intellect, my wit, and my good judgment. He made perfectly clear to me the plight of women and of people of color in this country, and stressed the importance of knowing our history — my history.
Dean Arcuri at SameSame writes, “‘Black Rainbow’ challenges homophobia“:
Black Rainbow, a national coalition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander gay, lesbian, bisexual, sistergirl, transgender and intersex peoples has published an open letter the Koori Mail, a fortnightly national newspaper reporting on the issues that matter to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people giving Indigenous Australians a voice missing in the mainstream media.
“We are a group of strong and fabulous Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander lesbian, gay, bisexual, sistergirl (transgender) and queer people who would like to highlight our existence and the positive roles we undertake in our communities,” the letter reads.
“We would also like to congratulate the makers of the first episode of Redfern Now, and to respond to recent homophobic comments in the mainstream and social media.”
Not currently being in Australia, I missed most of the furore that a Gen-Y woman caused when she dared accuse an upstanding institution such as the Herald Sun of being sexist and condescending after finishing her internship there. I mean really, who would have thought that the Herald Sun would have been sexist? Oh you mean there are actually people out there who think that “modern business etiquette” actually applies and that “chivalry” is not at all an outdated concept? Please kill me now.
I caught up (a tiny amount) on the story when I read an article published in a Fairfax newspaper, by Natasha Hughes, suggesting that the sexism experienced by Sasha Burden was all in her imagination and really, the men of the Herald Sun were just being polite, as their mothers (because it’s always the mothers) taught them.
Interestingly, this article also quotes Leslie Cannold, but completely fails to understand Cannold’s point.
Basically Burden should not have complained about the way she was treated while interning at the Herald Sun because:
- Good old-fashioned chivalry should make us very happy
- chivalry is about consideration for others
- courtesies are learned behaviours
- it’s lovely that there are gentlemen out there Continue reading So sexism…
Dearest Google, love of my life and solver of many of my internet problems. I have something to ask from you. It’s not a big thing, well big two things, and I know that with the combined might and power that you have, that you should be able to solve these two simple problems I have. The first is with your fantastic Gtalk software (Google Talk). Personally I think this piece of software, as a chat client, is brilliant and I don’t share my gtalk contacts with any other chat client, because I love the way gtalk operates, with one small exception. If I remove someone from my contact list, and they don’t remove me from theirs, then you still notify me when they sign into chat.
I don’t actually get why you do this Google. Surely I removed them from my contact list for a reason. Maybe I broke up with them, maybe I had a massive falling out, maybe they assaulted or abused me, and yet you still want to make sure that I know that they’ve just signed online because they’re far too lazy (or vindictive, or controlling, or something else) to remove me from their contact list. Yes I know I can block them, and in the cases where I really never want to speak to the individual again, I have, but where I’ve just lost contact with them, or we were never that good friends anyway, or they’ve moved a long way away and keeping in touch is something I’m not interested in, I shouldn’t have to be notified that they’re online. Afterall, they’re not on my contact list for a reason, and surely that should be enough.
The second issue I have is with your marvellous Google Buzz/Google Reader. I’m combining both of these together, because the issue applies across both systems as they are, for this problem, interlinked. Since you created Google Reader, I’ve loved how I can pool all the blogs and pages that I’m interested in keeping abreast of, in one place. I love how I can look at what my friends, partners and other people of interest also think is fascinating and worth sharing. I love being able to keep everything organised and how I can search for things later when I want to blog about them or find it to win an argument. However, again there is a slight problem. If someone I have blocked from reading or sharing my articles comments on an article that someone I follow has shared, then I’m reintroduced to that individual, regardless of the fact that I have blocked them. Again, I have blocked this person for a reason, and you’re allowing me to read comments that they place on articles that my friends share. Its not fair of me to ask my friends to block this person also for my own peace of mind. I’d love it if you’d put in place something like, “Comment made by blocked user” so I’d understand what my friend was responding to, but did not have the blocked individual in my face.
I have all sorts of good reasons, as does everyone else who blocks people, for blocking people. Having them constantly in my face because members of my social circle are still on speaking terms with them is deeply upsetting. I’d much rather receive less content (in this case comments), or be able to select an option that states, “As well as blocking this user, I wish to block all comments from this user”, for my own safety.
I know you care about me Google. We go back a long way, and I have been enjoying our time together. If you sort out these few things that have been distressing me recently, I’ll be much happier.
I’ve had to take a bit of a break from the blog because I’ve at the end of my last semester of my degree (if everything else goes to plan), so I’ve had assignments and exams to do.
I will be back blogging more in July when I will have time, and a life again (YAY!). To keep you interested, here are some topics I intend to blog on:
- Arrogance of religions claiming to be the “one true way”
- Trigger warnings and why they’re important – learning the hard way
- Forgiveness and why you don’t have to forgive
And anything else that takes my fancy.
So yes, I’ll be back blogging in July.