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Pre-Christmas linkspam December 2012


Because you might need, as much as I do, a break from the incessant Christmasness of December – have some things that I have found interesting about the place.

s.e. smith wrote a great post, “Language Matters: Reclamatory Language and Word Use“:

Reclamatory language seems to tie people up in knots as they attempt to navigate the murky waters of words, who uses them, and how. I don’t blame people for being confused; language is constantly evolving and sometimes it feels like an ever-moving goalpost designed to trip people up, rather than a useful tool for describing ideas, actions, people, and experiences. And it becomes especially fraught when people are using language some people identify as slurs self-referentially, particularly in progressive communities where there is a strong stigma about using the wrong word.

Reclamatory language, in a nutshell, includes slurs repurposed by members of a given group as a form of self-empowerment, criticism, or ingroup solidarity.

Jessie Nicole at xojane wrote, “What It’s Like to Come Out of the Hooker Closet“:

I’ve been coming out for decades now, and still do quite frequently. I come out as queer, depressed and as an activist, among other things. Instead of a single coming out story, I have a collection.

These days I come out most frequently as a sex worker. I was a prostitute for about four years. It’s not the most interesting thing about me, but it is what I am most often defined by.

Libby Ann writes, “I’m Not Straight (And Other Discoveries)“:

After telling myself for years that these feelings were just appreciation, or jealously for physical beauty, or anything other than what they were, I finally let go of the denial and admitted the truth to myself.

I am sexually attracted to women.

There was such freedom in just admitting that to myself. I could let go of the confusion and just be me. I could let go of the questions and just accept myself for who I was. I could let go of the questions and just embrace life.

N.K Jemisin (one of my favourite authors ever) wrote a post heavy on US politics on the Predators movie , “Predators, the GOP, and you“:

But that movie had serious problems. You knew Weathers’ character was doomed the instant you saw him, along with Bill Duke’s character — the other black guy. You knew when you saw Billy, the generic American Indian character, that he was going to die a Noble Savage death. You knew Poncho, the generic Latino character, was going to reveal cowardice or criminality before the end of the film. You knew the female character, who never even got a name, would be useless deadweight and have to be rescued repeatedly. You also knew she would probably get to live, because who else is the surviving male hero going to bang for his victory celebration?

This new version raised all of that, and saw us some additional extra-crispy crapcakes to boot. Nothing progressive about this one; regressive, in fact.

Patrick RichardsFink writes, “An Invisible Man” at Huffpost “Gay Voices” a piece about being bisexual, monogamous and married to a woman:

The nature of my relationship, however, does not change my sexual orientation. That has not changed, even when I publicly denied it. When I was in the closet, though, I never actually told people I was straight. I would duck the issue, change the subject, or deflect with words that seemed to give an answer while not actually giving any information. If I had been more comfortable with that kind of technically not-lying obfuscation, I could have gone into politics.

There’s an unfortunately common idea that while it’s perfectly possible to be straight or gay without having to do anything to prove it, in order to be bisexual we either have to have frequent three- or moresomes, or alternate genders of partners in strict same/other order — to “maintain balance.” A lot of the myths about bisexuality are built on these assumptions.

Are there people who fit the stereotypes above? Sure. Is it their right to do so? Absolutely. Criticizing someone for “reinforcing a stereotype” is dirty pool, a way of telling them that their choices are not valid because “it reflects badly on the community.” This is a problem faced by people in all minority groups: race, socioeconomic status, gender expression, sexual orientation. No one has the obligation to “be a credit to their [whatever].”

Amy Andre wrote about bisexual women and marriage at Huffpost “Gay Voices” in “When Bi Celebrities Get Married“:

It’s interesting that bisexuals — in particular, bisexual women — are facing this issue of having their bisexuality questioned because they are in relationships. Are bisexuals required to be single in order to truly say that we are bi? Why can’t a bisexual celebrity, or any other bisexual person, get married or be in a relationship? If a heterosexual person gets married, I can’t imagine anyone tweeting to ask if they’re still straight. Why would they? What would one have to do with the other? But for some reason, bisexuality is cast in a different light. It’s seen, at least by Wood’s follower, as something you do rather than something you are.

Natalie Reed wrote this post that I only discovered recently, back in April 2012, “Natural Privilege“:

Yesterday on twitter I came across a woman calling herself Yeats Infection who decided to chastise the “decision” trans people make to become dependent on the “capitalist pharmaceutical industry” for the rest of our lives, framing us as having somehow been duped by the evil conspiracy of Big Pharma.

What an insulting, condescending, privileged, uncomprehending, self-righteous, patronizing infuriating, ignorant thing to say. Ugh. Just ugh. Well, no, not just ugh. Ugh and a heartfelt “fuck you” as well.

What it brought to mind for me, and made explicit, was the incredible degree of privilege and entitlement that often underlies the “natural medicine”, “alternative medicine”, “non-allopathic”, anti-”Big Pharma” attitude. That beneath the preference for these “natural” alternatives was the luxury of a normative physiology, and that to extrapolate from that luxury a prescriptive, paternalistic attitude towards the not-so-inconsequential choices others make about their health and bodies belies considerable classism, ableism and, yes, cissexism.

Lindy West at Jezebel writes on recent research, “Women Speak Drastically Less When They’re Surrounded by Dudes. And That’s Bad.“:

Womanhood is full of frustrating hunches, and society is full of people who want to pooh-pooh those hunches. “I’m pretty sure I’m being treated like shit right now because of my vagina,” we women say. “Shut UP, women! Because men get injured in industrial accidents! Therefore, equality reigns!” the pooh-poohers reply. There’s almost nothing as satisfying as having one’s hunches backed up by science. So color me delighted by this new study published in American Political Science Review, which found that, in collaborative group settings, “the time that women spoke was significantly less than their proportional representation—amounting to less than 75 percent of the time that men spoke.”

HA. That is just about the truest shit that I have ever heard. I (and, I suspect, pretty much any woman) can access that feeling really quickly and vividly—when you find yourself in conversation with a circle of men and, against your better judgment and all your feminist impulses, you just turtle up. You retire. You forfeit, because their lungs are bigger, they’re groomed for assertiveness since birth, and you’re groomed to assume that nobody will take you seriously anyway. You wait for a pause in a room of interruptors. Sigh. I do it like crazy, and I am a fucking loudmouth feminist yelling machine.

Valerie Tarico at Alternet dug up some great history regarding the current religious right in the US and their position on abortion in the 1970s in, “When Right-Wing Christians Stopped Thinking of Women as People“:

In the autumn of 1978 the Washington Association of Churches and the Washington State Catholic Conference jointly published a six-page pamphlet they called “Abortion: An Ecumenical Study Document.” Their work offers a fascinating snapshot of Christian thinking at the time and raises some equally fascinating questions about what, exactly, has happened in the last 35 years.

The pamphlet does not contain a position statement. Quite the opposite, in fact. From the beginning, the authors explain that such an agreement is impossible: “Clearly there is no Christian position on abortion, for here real values conflict with each other, and Christian persons who seek honestly to be open to God’s call still find themselves disagreeing profoundly.”

Fidel Martinez for The Daily Dot (and published in Mashable) wrote about the case of a “Teen Denied Communion After Marriage Equality Facebook Post“:

Reverend Gary LaMoine of the Assumption Church in Barnesville, Minn., denied 17-year-old Lennon Cihak the Eucharist rite of Communion after seeing a picture on Facebook of the teen that went against the church’s politics.

The image in question, currently inaccessible due to privacy settings, depicted Cihak holding a modified sign in support of an amendment to the state’s constitution that would define marriage as being between a man and a woman. Cihak’s modification to the yard sign reflected his support of marriage equality.

Anna Mardoll writes “Deconstruction: How To Be A (Male) Ally*trigger warning for discussion on rape and rape culture*:

Lately, I’ve been reading a lot of comments on the interwebs from genuinely nice guys who want to know how to be good feminist allies in this shitty rape culture world we live in. And it’s a more complicated question that it looks, since there’s a lot of conflicting advice out there about white knighting (which in itself is a confusing term with about four distinct and sometimes mutually exclusive meanings) and helpful-versus-unhelpful anger and nice guyism and creepers and OMG PARALYZED BY THE POSSIBILITY FOR WRONGNESS.

So here is a Helpful (Male) Allies 101 post for men who would like to be helpful male allies as far as my opinion goes. Also, upfront, these posters are very cool. Just sayin’.

Ben Jenkins at Daily Life writes, “Are modern men being silenced by women?“:

The piece is broken up into five different parts – in that way its like the Fast and The Furious franchise, or if you prefer, a bullshit-cake that has been broken up into five different parts. Each of these parts addresses a different group and tells them, with what I can only assume is a straight face, ‘what men want’.

Again, there is nothing inherently wrong with this in theory. Men are not prohibited from telling people what they want. In fact, this willingness to not be coy about what we want is just one of the reasons why we have owned, throughout history, most of the things. So no one is saying that suddenly the needs of men are irrelevant and to be ignored. I mean, that’s just such a tediously obvious point, that in order to put that argument forward you’d have to posses the kind of myopia that renders you unable to acknowledge even the most self-evident of truths. Truths like the fact that the increase of rights for one group of people does not, in any sense, mean a decrease in rights for another.

Clementine Ford at Daily Life writes, “The purity complex“:

I think we can all agree that the sentiments expressed here are less reminiscent of anything meaningful than they are a giant, steaming pile of crap that’s been passed through the digestive system of a cow then exposed to radioactive waste so that it grows to be a super dungpat that can walk around and talk and then eventually tries to run for Prime Minister while enjoying the ongoing support of Miranda Devine. That’s how messed up this turd is.

Unfortunately, it’s a turd whose central thesis is reinforced far too often in society, that being the conflation of women’s value with their vigilance in keeping their legs shut. Ladies! How can we respect you when you don’t respect yourselves?! HOLLA!

In ultra current (for the moment) Australian politics, it looks like Tony Abbott’s office and perhaps even Tony Abbott has attempted to falsify information about their involvement in the Slipper affair, as provided by independentaustralia.net in “Abbott implicated in Ashby conspiracy by (10 hours of bullsh)IT“:

Having worked in the IT industry for a long time (almost 20 years), I felt it was my duty to explain how Abbott’s line that “during April the computer server timestamps were sometimes out by up to 10 hours” was wrong ― and why it was – at best – improbable and – at worst – impossible.

Let’s take this on face value: the Australian Parliament House (APH) network – like most corporate and government networks – is a complex beast. Spanning politicians on all sides of parliament and public servants alike, security is paramount. To maintain the level of security in APH time is essential.

If you work in IT, you know that setting a clock even one hour out will cause your network to fall over, as the tolerances for Windows Server is five minutes difference in time. Even if you set a different timezone, Windows Server will not accept login credentials from a client computer if the time is more than five minutes out.

Jesse McLaren at Shamless, writes a guest post, “Why “men’s rights” groups are wrong“:

“Men’s rights” groups are a growing phenomenon, with “men’s centres” and “men’s issues awareness” clubs appearing on campuses. Manipulating men’s anxieties faced with neoliberalism and austerity, “men’s issues” groups ignore the poverty, racism, ableism, homophobia and transphobia that men and women face, and instead scapegoat the women’s movement and progressive movements in general.

The rhetoric of “equality,” “diversity,” “human rights” and “inclusivity” that these groups use can certainly seem appealing, as can their claim to “provide support for individuals whose equality rights have been denied.” And their claim of “evidence not ideology” gives them a semblance of objectivity, which they apply to issues many people are concerned about: “men’s health, fathers and family issues, boys issues, suicide, violence, safety, workplace issues, crime and punishment.”

s.e. smith writes at xojane, “ALL HAIL THE LADYSTACHE: The Case for Female Facial Hair“:

‘Tis the season for facial hair, courtesy of Movember, although Rachel Rubin rightly pointed out that there are some serious problems with how the event is currently framed and handled. Much like breast cancer awareness, Movember has become a juggernaut of misdirected funds and general grossness, rather than a legitimate effort to address serious men’s health issues.

And for the women who want to participate, it’s quite a minefield. Rachel collected an assortment of nasty Tweets about women with facial hair in her piece on Movember, illustrating broader social attitudes about ladies sporting mustaches, beards, sideburns or, really, anything even vaguely resembling hair on their faces. Bearded ladies are supposed to be freakshows, something to be pointed and laughed at, rather than women who happen to have facial hair, for whatever reason.

Unlike men, women aren’t socially allowed to choose facial hair as an aesthetic choice and as part of their personal expression. They’re supposed to shave it, wax it, laser it or otherwise remove it. Just get it off, because women aren’t supposed to have hairy faces.

Monica Weymouth at the Philadelphia writes, “A Double Life: Bisexual Bias in the Gay Community“:

“When the bigotry comes from the straight community, it’s hurtful. But when it comes from the gay community, it’s worse—because they should understand,” says Ingram, who now lives in Bensalem. “This is the experience of the gay community—having the straight community tell them they’re wrong, they don’t exist. For me, it feels like personal betrayal. I feel like ‘I was there with you, in the beginning,’ and then I hear ‘What has bisexuality done for the movement?’ That just floors me. The history has been rewritten.”

Ingram met her husband of three years, James Klawitter, at a meeting of BiUnity, a Philly-based bisexual support network. They were both prepared for the onslaught of questions from friends and family, some well-meaning and others hostile, when they became engaged: “Are you straight now?” (They are not.) “Are you going to miss the other gender?” (No, they have a polyamorous marriage.) “Do all bi couples have poly marriages?” (Most don’t, although some do. Same as gay and straight people.) “Are you straight now?” (No, still not straight.)

Laura Bates at The Independent writes, “Art imitating life: How sexism in video games mirrors real-life gender imbalance“:

Last week, the #1reasonwhy hashtag took Twitter by storm.

It provided an outlet for gamers and game designers alike to express their frustration with the sexism of the gaming industry. The comments from women working in the industry reflected and repeated many of those we have collected on the Everyday Sexism project, from across a wide variety of jobs and workplaces. Particularly poignant were the stories from women who had been dismissed out of hand before their work had even been seen, or those afraid that a single failure would be deemed “proof that woman shouldn’t be in the industry”. The answer “Because every disclosure of harassment feels like risking never being hired again”, was also achingly familiar.

But what really struck home was the similarity, on the #1reasonwhy hashtag and amongst other articles, between gamers’ virtual experiences and the real-life gender imbalance recorded to our project website daily. We were struck by the multitude of ways in which sexism within video games themselves seemed to mirror real-life sexism.

Leena van Deventer writes, “#1ReasonWhy“:

The next taunt in class, we looked at each other. I waited for him to speak. He didn’t. I didn’t. Then a girl behind me did, out of nowhere. We were shocked but relieved.

“Shut up, you guys.”

Crosshairs were now on her. They started applying the same tactics on her as they had the previous girl, but with added harshness, because she dared to challenge them.

The boy and I stood up for her. Soon some more joined in.

I was so scared to defend her by myself. I was already a weird kid. I just wanted Justin to like me. But once others started standing up against shitty behaviour, I had much more confidence. I got mouthy. I put the mean kids on a lunch negotiation embargo. You bitches ain’t getting MY Burger Rings! I started having less tolerance for their crap, and less fear about letting it be known. I became even more radioactive than I was before, but I was oddly at peace with it.

Leigh Alexander at Gamasutra writes, “Marketers, start caring about video games, please“:

This week, the #1ReasonWhy campaign provided a poignant and much-needed platform for women to talk about why they don’t feel comfortable in the games industry. Obviously it’s the perfect time for a Facebook advergame that encourages you to bully your friends about their breast size.

Wait, what? Are you serious?

Hire Hitman, a Facebook app designed to do some viral marketing for Hitman: Absolution in the wake of its mixed critical reception, was live for only an hour before an apologetic Square Enix pulled it.

But for that brief window, you could help the company sell its game by making death threats to your friends based on their body size, for having hairy legs, their awful make-up or their “tiny penis.” How appropriate for the age of cyber-bullying and teen suicide!

I found the Facts and Stats page of the Australia’s CEO Challenge: workplace partners against domestic violence.

s.e. smith wrote for xojane, “College Paper Columnist: Ew, Menstruation is Gross!” and seriously the photos on this piece are glorious:

I don’t want to knock college newspapers. They can be an incubation ground for great journalists, and sometimes their columnists are funny, sharp, insightful and so much more.

But other times, they’re just plain ridiculous, and that sums up John Corrigan, who is apparently approximately 12 years old, at “The Temple News” to a tee. For his parting shot as he prepared to leave the paper, he wrote himself up an oh-so-witty column about cis ladies and their periods. Because, as we all know, this subject is hilarious, especially when written up by a man complaining about how his girlfriend transforms into some sort of creature from the deeps for three to five days out of the month.

He managed to include almost every possible period stereotype, no mean feat for such a short column. He portrays menstruating cis women as out of control animals, held captive by their hormones, depicting menstruation as some sort of minefield for the men around them (“When your girlfriend suffers, you will too”). He informs us that women eat weird things during their periods — har har! — and points out that one side benefit is a chance for some sexytimes, but “don’t expect a quickie.” Because, you know, menstruating women need to be tenderly held and snuggled, all emotionalstyle.

 

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