I would argue that there are two kinds of shame, the shame of realising that you’ve completely fucked up and done the wrong thing and the shame used to silence people by either making them believe that they are wrong, that something they did was against societal standards, or that they failed to live up to some imaginary standard.
I don’t want to talk about the first type other than to say being ashamed of doing the wrong thing is a powerful lesson, provided you admit it, apologise and work at not doing it again.
The second type is the one I want to talk about. The second type of shame, the silencing one, the one that can stop you seeking help you need, finding support mechanisms, that makes you feel less because of some attribute (real or imaginary) that you do or do not possess, or stops you leaving the house.
The second type can be imposed by other people or just through societal conditioning. As an example fat people are regularly shamed by just about everyone by virtue of being fat. Just existing as a fat person apparently is something to be ashamed of, and something that many people will point out to your face. Also less subtly and direct, is all the media and government “concern” about obesity and what needs to be done about it. Being fat is apparently shameful, and in worse case scenarios, fat people won’t seek medical help for life threatening conditions because they don’t want to be shamed further, or they attribute their health status to being fat versus whatever it might actually be. The fact that fat people are also shamed by their medical professionals adds to an incredibly unfair burden. Kath at Fat Heffalump writes a lot about why being fat is nothing to be ashamed of.
Being a woman is something that we’re often shamed for, whether it be because we haven’t removed enough hair, we’re not wearing the right amount of makeup, we’re wearing not wearing enough, we’re wearing too much, we’re drinking, we’re not drinking, we’re too old, too young, menstruating, eating, not eating, “being emotional”, nagging, having sex, not having sex, or any other of a number of attributes that some imaginary perfect woman would not have.
I looked at the list of things I was supposed to feel ashamed about one day, while standing naked in front of a mirror, and I decided that they could, for the most part, go and fuck themselves in a fire. Why should I stand cowered by the world because I didn’t measure up to some arbitrary standard that next to no one else measured up to either. Just think, if there were people who measured up to this standard women’s gossip magazines (which pretty much sell shame) would be out of business. I decided at this point that I was going to do my best to live shamelessly, to ignore other people’s attempts to shame me for being myself, and love who I was.
I’ve always found it interesting that “shameless woman” is an insult, but there is no male equivalent. Not that men aren’t shamed either – it’s just a different set of criteria (having feels about things, not acting in an appropriately masculine manner, being perceived as weak, etc). The phrase “shameless woman” does come from the bible though, so thanks Christianity for making life suck.
One of the things I learnt growing up was that I had to do it on my own, that I should be able to manage by myself, and that appearing as if I couldn’t cope was a weakness. Let’s just say that was one of the worst lessons to learn. It took me close to breaking point before I realised that I was trying to do it on my own in silence because I was ashamed to ask for help. The bad lessons I’d learnt included the silencing of shame – because asking for help would be an admission that I wasn’t able to cope and do this on my own any more. The relief of laying aside the shame and finding out that help was available was an amazing thing.
It’s terrible that as a society that we both unconsciously perpetuate shame by not speaking up against it, and that we let shame impact on us. Being you should be nothing to be ashamed of. None of us are perfect, none of us are perpetually strong, none of us have a perfect body, our emotional responses are valid, our choices to participate or not in the beauty standard are our own, our ability to cope or not cope as the situation arises is ok, your health situation is nothing to be ashamed of, your money or lack of it is nothing to be ashamed of.
Please do not let shame rule your life. Go out there, be a proud shameless person, and speak your mind.
Of course, every age has had its share of dinosaurs. And, as I contemplated the ridiculous sight of Piers Akerman channelling fellow fossil, Corey Bernardi on the Insiders, it occurred to me that, in a different age, Piers Akerman would have been making similarly ridiculous arguments about other issues.
For example, Piers, arguing that “…if you can have all of the social benefits of a civil union without calling it marriage, why do you want to go that extra step?” reminded me of the dinosaurs who argued against those new-fangled horseless carriages. Why would you want a motor vehicle when you can have a perfectly good horse?
Herndon became instantly famous in nerdy economics circles this week as the lead author of a recent paper, “Does High Public Debt Consistently Stifle Economic Growth? A Critique of Reinhart and Rogoff,” that took aim at a massively influential study by two Harvard professors named Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff. Herndon found some hidden errors in Reinhart and Rogoff’s data set, then calmly took the entire study out back and slaughtered it. Herndon’s takedown — which first appeared in a Mike Konczal post that crashed its host site with traffic — was an immediate sensation. It was cited by prominent anti-austerians like Paul Krugman, spoken about by incoming Bank of England governor Mark Carney, and mentioned on CNBC and several other news outlets as proof that the pro-austerity movement is based, at least in part, on bogus math.
I took a look at my body in the mirror this morning, just to make sure everything was where I’d left it, and indeed, everything appeared to be. Every now and then I like to do that, you know. One thing I noticed about my body, and something I think about rather a lot, actually, is that my eyes and teeth appear to be rather firmly and permanently part of it. I mean, I guess I couldn’t have been looking at my body at all if I had no eyes, so obviously those came factory installed in my case, but when I opened my mouth, lo and behold, a set of choppers loomed at me and I was reminded that I needed to brush my teeth.
Yet, health insurance companies as well as government health care programmes seem to believe this is not actually the case, that eyes and teeth are either not part of your body, or are optional upgrades. Extras that you can pay more for if you want them, but aren’t supported under warranty, so to speak. Like, okay, we’ll insure your smartphone, but if something happens to the special bluetooth headset you bought to go with it, don’t come whining to us, because that’s not our responsibility.
Most of us could never imagine being nondisabled, and the daily hardship that comes with it; little Billy Jo is really such an inspiration with his courage and bravery every day, let alone with his bold dream of becoming a dancer. Just looking at him is a reminder that there are so many special people among us who have been sent to bless us and teach us. Billy Jo is a lesson in tolerance and he’s sending such a great message to other nondisabled children like him who have a chance to see that it’s possible to achieve great things if you try hard enough.
The lies seem to be stacking up, but there are also, of course, questions of ethics and integrity — such as how does a staffer that physically threatens another person and then offers to be a spy for a prominent journalist get to keep his job at all?
And, even more importantly, what cuts to funding for Indigenous programmes are planned under a Coalition Government. Given some of our previous reports, Abbott’s true commitment towards Indigenous affairs must be drawn into question — Roberts’ statements compound these concerns.
None of these questions appear to have been asked by Australia’s dormant mainstream media.
Needless to say, the aftermath of 9/11 did not yield much thoughtful consideration on the part of the mainstream punditry as to the context for such events. According to one prominent narrative, 9/11 was simply evidence of an inherent and unfounded Muslim hatred of the West.
A notable exception was veteran British journalist Robert Fisk. In an article published in The Nation immediately following the attacks, Fisk issued the following prescient warning:
“[T]his is not really the war of democracy versus terror that the world will be asked to believe in the coming days. It is also about US missiles smashing into Palestinian homes and US helicopters firing missiles into a Lebanese ambulance in 1996 and American shells crashing into a village called Qana and about a Lebanese militia – paid and uniformed by America’s Israeli ally – hacking and raping and murdering their way through refugee camps.”
This is a difficult topic for me to find the right language for. I do not feel that there are labels that really encapsulate my identity. “Gay” is too focused on sexual orientation and does not help me to make sense of those aspects of my gender that are variant and non-conforming. “Man” does not really adequately describe me either, and it’s a category and label I have a lot of discomfort with. I do not identify as transgender because I feel that to do so would be appropriative. I also do not care much about recognition (people seeing and identifying me as man) or misrecognition (typically people hearing me and identifying me as a woman, or just randomly calling me “ma’am” or “she/her”) as far as gender is concerned—though I do despise being identified as heterosexual because I am a white male-bodied person (this often happens online, people assume that because I am white and male-bodied that I must therefore be straight as well). I do not identify as cisgender because my gender identity does not match “man,” the gender normatively assigned to my male body. I did come across the term “demiguy,” which vaguely seems to capture my feelings, though I think any association I have with masculinity is because I’m outwardly conforming in appearance in many ways—it’s not because I identify with masculinity in any meaningful way.
This is why I have begun to define myself simply as queer. I have what would be considered a normative male body, but my gender identity is not normative. And it continues changing as I live my life. Part of the impetus for this piece has been the ending of a three-year relationship in which I often felt trapped and judged to the extent that I shaped my behavior to be more conforming than I had previous to the relationship. The sudden, abrupt ending of that relationship turned my world upside down. But it also gave me an opportunity to take stock. In a lot of ways, I was not being true to the self I had finally come to accept before entering that relationship. Now, three years later, I’m re-discovering who I am, what I value, and starting to make sense of my inner dialogue.
So, are you normal? Are you average? Yes. No. Most likely. It turns out that there is so much variation among female anatomy that doctors, surgeons, and researchers find it difficult to define exactly what normal is – or even if it exists. And a few at least have been trying.
A beautiful animated short called Caldera which I strongly recommend watching.
I was also subsequently advised by others on Twitter that I should have the phrase “proud Aussie” in my Twitter profile, rather than “proud Refugee.” I use this phrase in my profile, not because I am an ungrateful Aussie, but because I want to demonstrate that refugees are educated and active participants in our community. Ultimately, I want to help change perceptions. Moreover, if my actions don’t demonstrate my gratitude, how would a label somehow do the trick? And why must I assert my level of Australianness every minute of the day? Excessive pride and racial hate speech should be viewed in the same manner – both are entirely unnecessary, really.
Since Friday, I’ve been overwhelmed by messages of support and compassion, and indeed by offers from strangers to help me. For every instance of abuse, there are many expressions of compassion and solidarity. Perhaps the one that has meant the most to me was from former Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser: “I am deeply sorry you had to experience that, some people are so insensitive and stupid, try not to let worry you.” Mr Fraser, of course has been especially vocal in recent times and spoken out about the plight of asylum seekers – if only some of our incumbent politicians shared and expressed his same convictions!
There’s been a lot said lately about how we’re talking about Boston and not so much about Iraq and Afghanistan. We’re wondering if one life is worth more than another in our current media cycle. But what’s behind our arguably disproportionate attention to the Boston bombings? Are we just suffering from an incapacity to care for more than our own?
There’s a conversation we’ve been trying to have about racism in the reporting of the Boston bombings. It’s the same conversation we try to have every time there’s a tragedy in the West that measured globally, barely tips the Richter scale of international disaster. We get started with this conversation, as Virginia Trioli recently tried to do, but it either gets brutally cut down or prematurely cut short. I think we’re having trouble following it through because the truth of why we seem to care more about Boston than about Kabul and Ramullah may just be too hard for us to swallow.
Violeta Politoff at New Matilda writes, “Why Media Gender Equality Matters”:
VicHealth has shown that among men, the most common predictor of the use of violence against women is their agreement with sexist, patriarchal, and/or sexually hostile attitudes. So based on this research it is clear that seeking gender equity in the media, where ideas are disseminated and reinforced, is integral to the prevention of violence against women.
In the research I’ve undertaken with Professor Jenny Morgan, we’ve found that, in spite of the importance of attitudes towards gender equity in the ongoing issue of violence against women, issues of gender are rarely discussed in the reporting.
The lack of context in the reporting of violence against women tended to make the violence appear only as an individual problem (a family or relationship problem) rather than also being part of a broader social problem. One consequence of individualising the issue is that it tends to erase gender from discussions of the dynamics of violence against women, even though attitudes towards gender play a central role in the ongoing problem.
The first major choice that players of BioShock Infinite are presented with is whether they would like to publicly punish an interracial couple or not. You may choose to throw a ball at the couple, who are tied up in front of a crowd at a fair, or you may choose to throw the ball at the man who is asking you to do so. The outcome of your choice is mostly the same.
Let’s think about that for a moment. BioShock Infinite, the game that many would hope to point to as an example of how art and subtlety might be found in expensive, mainstream videogames, sets up its moral stakes by asking the player if they would like to be a violent bigot.
These are the complex and difficult decisions found in videogames in 2013: would you like to be in the Ku Kux Klan or would you like to be Abraham Lincoln? Would you like to join the Nazi party or found the United Nations? Would you like to be for or against?
There is a clear message: Rock, Paper, Shotgun will never back down on the subject of sexism and misogyny (nor racism, nor homophobia, for that matter) in games, the games industry, and the games journalism industry. Good times are ahead – we can see them.
Many women are mistreated and misrepresented within the games industry. It’s not a matter of opinion, a political position, or claim made to reinforce previous bias. It’s the demonstrable, sad truth. Ask women in the games industry – find out. That you may not perceive it does not mean it doesn’t exist. That you may not perpetuate it doesn’t mean it isn’t relevant to you. Whether you are male or female or identify anywhere between does not exclude you nor repudiate you from the matter. The amount to which you think it doesn’t exist is directly proportional to the amount to which you do not care that it exists. If you don’t care that it exists, I hope you are willing to be open-minded enough to try to empathise with others that do – at least give that a go. And if you care passionately about it, and feel offended by the tone of this piece as if it doesn’t acknowledge you, then I apologise, and hope you understand why.
Although Australia experienced a rise in asylum applications, the total number of applications registered in Australia in 2012 was a modest 15,800 compared with the 355,500 claims received in Europe and the 103,900 received in North America. As information and research from Australia’s commonwealth parliamentary library shows, since 1999–2001, when Australia last experienced a surge in boat arrivals during the Howard Government, irregular maritime arrivals (IMA’s) lodging asylum claims have consisted primarily of people from Afghanistan followed by Iraq, Iran and Sri Lanka. However, Australia has not shouldered a significant amount of asylum flows from these countries—much higher numbers of asylum seekers from these countries have gone to the UK and other destination countries. In fact, as Guterres notes, none of the industrialised countries, Australia included, shoulder a significant amount of asylum seekers compared to the developing countries neighbouring most of the world’s conflict zones. The vast majority of asylum seekers are hosted in countries such as Pakistan, so the burden of assisting the world’s asylum seekers and refugees actually falls to some of the world’s poorest countries.
So what does this tell us about Australia’s hysteria around receiving 3% of the industrialized worlds asylum applications? (3% take note, is the amount of applications lodged, not the amount of visas granted). What this tells us is that other industrialised countries, and many more poor developing countries, take many more asylum seekers than we do in Australia, and that they deal with the situation much better. Take Sweden for example, who accepts nearly 3 times the number of asylum seekers per year than we do in Australia. In Sweden asylum seekers are welcomed, are assigned their own case worker and lawyer, are allowed freedom of movement and work rights, are allowed to live with friends or family, and are provided financial support and a housing allowance, all whilst their claims are processed in a maximum of 3 months. Sweden, it seems recognizes asylum seekers for what they are; everyday humans like you and I fleeing persecution.
Such spaces are far less visible in Australia, but even here more and more Muslims like Faruqi are speaking out against homophobia. One of the most high-profile young Muslim women, human rights activist Samah Hadid, caused a minor stir within her community when she told The Australian that she was “a passionate advocate for gay rights”. There is still a lack of friendly space for LGBT Muslims, but up-and-coming leaders like Hadid are willing to put in the hard work to create them. The idea that a Muslim politician must therefore take a homophobic policy stance does not reflect the worldview of many Muslims in Australia.
I do not expect to agree with all aspects of Faruqi’s political opinions just because we belong to the same religions — or because we belong to the same gender, come to that.
The second, and far more important reason (at least for me), why I embrace the word bisexual is that people perceive me and react to me very differently depending on whether the person I am coupled with is (or appears to be) a woman or a man.
In the hetero-mainstream, when I am paired with a man, I am read as straight; when I am paired with a woman, I am read as queer. In queer settings, when I am paired with a woman, I am read as lesbian/dyke/queer and viewed as a legitimate member of the community.
But when I am paired with a man (especially when the man in question is cisgender), then I am not merely unaccepted and viewed as an outsider, but I may even be accused of buying into or reinforcing the hetero-patriarchy.
So in other words, the “bi” in bisexual does not merely refer to the types of people that I am sexual with, but to the fact that both the straight and queer worlds view me in two very different ways depending upon who I happen to be partnered with at any given moment.
Members of Yemen’s Children’s Parliament may be young, but they serve as the first line of defence on children’s issues and can influence government policy.
Its members can summon ministers who handle children’s rights for questioning or make recommendations and submit them to the House of Representatives and the Shura Council for discussion.
The Children’s Parliament meets for three days every three months in one of parliament’s halls. Its members have the support and sponsorship of the president and the Yemeni Parliament.
Children’s Parliament in Yemen was established by the Democracy School, a grass roots organization in Yemen, which oversees parliament’s elections and organises its meetings. Its inaugural session was held in 2000.
Bigotry is often born out of fear and confusion at those whose identities we don’t understand. We fear that their difference reflects on our sameness, and in a rush to blanket ourselves in the comfort of conformity, we demonize their difference. Progressives often bemoan the bigotry underlying the policies and political positions of those on the right, but the sad truth is that bigotry exists even in progressive and feminist spaces. And nowhere is that more evident that in the transphobia, both latent and outright, that underwrites many facets of the feminist movement
Often, mainstream feminists simply avoid talking or writing about trans women. Trans woman and activist Sophia Banks emphasizes that while she identifies as a feminist, her experience within the feminist community has been largely mixed. “Intersectional feminists have been great but many radical feminists have been really hurtful towards me,” she says, highlighting that many feminists work within the confines of gendered language, and, perhaps unknowingly, operate from an assumption that cisgender women (cisgender means someone who identifies with the gender they were born with) are their target audience.
Any assumption that cisgender women are the only true women is a blatant form of bigotry. And honestly, it’s in direct violation of Feminism 101. After all, Simone De Beauvoir said more than half a century ago “One is not born, but rather becomes, a woman.”
Mary Thom, a chronicler of the feminist movement and former executive editor of Ms. magazine, died Friday in a motorcycle accident in Yonkers. She was 68 and lived in Manhattan.
The Women’s Media Center, where Ms. Thom was the editor in chief, announced her death. Ms. Thom joined Ms. magazine in 1972 as an editor, rising to become executive editor in 1990. She was known as a journalistic virtuoso who shaped the writing of many of the feminist movement’s luminaries, including Gloria Steinem.
Aboriginal actress Shareena Clanton will hit screens in Wentworth this week playing Doreen Anderson, a prisoner with a history of drugs, alcohol and abuse. Clanton is already well known from her role as Lilly in Redfern Now, another drug addict, this time with a psychiatric illness.
If you are sensing a theme here you’d be right and it’s impossible to ignore Clanton’s conclusion that the reason is simply racist typecasting. Casting directors take one look at her dark skin and cast her as a victim or a loser.
‘In the roles I get I’m always being beaten up, if not physically, then emotionally. I’m always a drug addict or I’ve been abused or I’m supposed to be this dumb Aborigine. Why can’t I be the secretary or the cop? Why can’t I just be the mother on the Kellogg’s commercial sending the kids off to school with breakfast?’
Pledging that “we must right these wrongs,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today denounced discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people, and declared that religion, culture and tradition can never be a justification for denying them their basic rights.
“Governments have a legal duty to protect everyone,” he said in a video message to the Oslo Conference on Human Rights, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, voicing outrage at the assault, imprisonment and murder of. LGBTs. “Some will oppose change. They may invoke culture, tradition or religion to defend the status quo.
“Such arguments have been used to try to justify slavery, child marriage, rape in marriage and female genital mutilation. I respect culture, tradition and religion – but they can never justify the denial of basic rights.”
Over the past few weeks, I’ve been both witness to and participant in a number of conversations around sex work, autonomy and feminism. A recent argument on Twitter had me baffled by one representative from a conservative feminist organisation in Australia, who trotted out the tired idea that sex work degrades and harms all women. Elsewhere, people have been rehashing the argument that the sex industry is a sort of Outland ghetto for traumatised drug addicts, abuse survivors and the mentally ill, all of whom are connected by the singular characteristic of having little to no self-esteem. We can pity them, but gosh wouldn’t we just hate for anyone we loved to be them?
Well no, I wouldn’t hate that actually. I have a number of friends and acquaintances who have either been or currently are sex workers. No doubt I know greater numbers of women still who may one day become sex workers. And I’m tired of seeing their lives denigrated because of how they choose to make money – as if taking off your clothes for a pre-arranged fee is somehow less honourable than working for a mining company or a tabloid magazine.
Demonising sex workers under the guise of “helping” them is simply a way of expressing puritanical snobbery. As an intellectual tool, it relies more on myths and prejudices than any real knowledge of the lives of sex workers.
It probably has something to do with the 26-year-old CEO’s views about the right way to build a company—which emphatically aren’t the views you’ll find at most startups around Silicon Valley. He thinks the lavish perks at many technology companies, especially the free on-campus meals, are a disguised form of mind control, designed to get employees to work 12- or 14-hour days.
That’s why there are no free dinners at Dropcam—around 6:00 pm the company shoos employees out the door to eat with their families. And here’s what else you won’t find at Dropcam: free services or products that trade on users’ attention or data to earn revenue; an engineering department full of young, single, childless males; and, according to Duffy, assholes of any description.
Anne asserts that polyamory isn’t for everyone. “You’ve got to really enjoy relating to people and spending time with them. You’re going to get confronted with a lot of your insecurities whether you like it or not. So if you’re not looking for personal growth, don’t bother.”
Having multiple relationships challenges what Hollyweird movie endings have instilled in us, rejecting the idea that one person can make you complete. “That’s what I love,” Anne exclaims. “You’re free to enjoy what is organically real about the relationship. You don’t have to make it anything else.”
Just so it is said, clearly and unambiguously: the Tsarnaev brothers are white guys. They are white. The FBI’s own wanted poster for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev lists his race as “white”, but you would never know it from the cover image on The Week.
Hold up the cover to someone else, and ask them how many white people they can see on the cover. Chances are they will identify Gabby Giffords on the top left and the image of the Boston policemen (all white men) on the top right, but how about those two guys in the center? Nope, not a chance that anyone would say these caricatures look white.
Why? Because in addition to being white they are also “Muslim”, which is the current dehumanizing “Other” label that whiteness has constructed as a sanctioned target for violence in US popular culture.
These opportunities also come with inbuilt limitations. English writer and activist Laurie Penny noted in a 2012 interview that the “first two articles I ever had commissioned by a major newspaper were about my experience of anorexia as a teenager and my brief stint as a burlesque dancer”. These pieces had followed on the heels of unsuccessful pitches of “any number of serious political pieces which didn’t have anything to do with me or my arse”.
Penny explained that “[y]oung women in particular have to work very hard to get into this industry, and it’s often a toss-up…between getting work and being taken seriously”.
Even existing on the most basic level has a price tag. The bottom of Maslow’s pyramid. You need to pay for a roof over your head, food to eat, electricity, water, healthcare; all of those things we took for granted as kids, assumed that they were just a given. You pay through the nose to keep on living. It seems that the poorer you get, the more you pay to keep on living. We all know this, and accept it as the status quo – that living, existing on the most human level comes with a price. After all, that’s why you have a job.
“I would urge us to ensure that six basic primary needs are met from resources within 100 miles around us. I call it the ’100 mile principle’. If food, shelter, clothing, primary education, primary healthcare and primary banking are locally produced and consumed, we will have the growth of a new holistic economy, that the world will sit up and take note of.”
Cat Williams guests posts at The Australian Independent Media Network with “stupid lefty whore“, where she discusses the value in knowing the arguments of the other side, and her experience of misogyny online.
So today Abbott has come out saying that he’s a changed man, that he’s grown and changed (recently) and that we shouldn’t judge him by comments he made 35 years ago. Ok, sure, I won’t judge Tony Abbott for comments he made 35 years ago, back when he was a dick, I’ll judge him for comments he’s said far more recently than that, which still show he’s still a dick.
Poll watching is the great spectator sport among Australian journalists, and there are polls just about every week measuring how people feel about X, Y, or Z. What these polls leave out (and what they have to leave out) is due to the mechanism of our representative democracy, how we-the-voters feel about issues doesn’t matter most of the time. It only matters on one day every three years – on election day, when we get to cast our votes. The rest of the time, it’s just noise, and no amount of opinion polls showing how concerned we are by $ISSUE are going to change the fact.
Personal politics this time and my blog post on “When it’s not about you” was nominated to be included in this month’s carnival:
So this is for those people who fail to consider other people before looking for their own emotional resolution. Those people who demand closure or their emotions handled when the epicentre of something bad happened to someone else they know. I do get that generally we are self centred individuals who think about our own suffering before others, but we should perhaps consider not opening our mouths when someone else has every reason to be suffering or grieving more than we do ourselves.
A couple of weeks ago my kids came home from school (a local state primary) with a letter asking whether I would like them to undertake Special Religious Instruction (SRI). No, I wouldn’t, I told the school – three times in heavily circled biro. It’s not the first time I’ve been asked this question and every time it really, really annoys me.
So much I could say. So much I could post. Though of course not all of it I would post. I could and probably should post about the NDIS/disabilityCare thing and the problems with that label, not to mention any of the other funding or UN Convention on the RIghts of people with disability implications. Or I could talk about the sense of disconnect I fear between the expectations placed on the NDIS and what I fear the outcomes will be, especially in terms of the expectation of being participatory human members of society. Not to mention our own expectation of this.
I am dyslexic. Dyslexia is more then reading things incorrectly. The words trip and tumble. There is a disconnect between my brain and what is intended to be said.I speed through sentences so that people don’t notice the incorrect words, the stammer, the confusion, the fear. Words have long been my enemy. Rather ironic that I have an Honours degree in Communications (Writing). People are unforgiving. They judge your intelligence based on your spelling, your pronunciation, your grammar. I refuse to use the popular name as I find it offensive so lets just call them the Grammar police.
To be fair to Razer, and to get back to the general topic of this rant, this attitude is not unique to her. I wish I had a dollar for every Tumblr social justice blogger who has blasted “feminists” for not writing about the Terrible Thing which she has decided is the Thing which must be written about du jour. Next thing you know she’s posting about nail art or some favourite food. (This is perfectly OK by me, by the way – I’m not the one wanting to make a huge deal out of blogging/not blogging any given topic. But consistency, y’know.)
Jennifer Wilson at No Place for Sheep, writes about her views of Helen Razer’s recent comments and Jenna Price’s response in “Feminism. Feminists.”
I do think that Razer has misjudged the point of Destroy the Joint, it won’t have failed if it doesn’t bring down the Patriarchy. That is a big ask for one organisation where three waves of feminism have failed to do that before. The same with Everyday Sexism – it is less about destroying the Patriarchy in one big gulp and more about pointing out how everyday things we often take for granted are sexist. Will it change the world, probably not, will it open a few eyes and start a few minds working – yes and that is a success right there.
What’s the message here? Yes, representations are important. Culture shapes life. But material life is reflected in Culture too. Social location is important. It’s very easy, perhaps too easy, to sit in one’s hot desk at a Co-Working Space tweeting anti-Alan Jones messages. Lo, how the Old White Men have fallen! Yep, contest their ground. But don’t forget – they won’t go away so easily. Because the real injustice is the permanent suppression, the permanent inequality, the permanent oppression that so many women not on Twitter live as their daily existence. The key is to think that, think outside your own circle, talk as well as decry.
So while I appreciate the essay’s philosophic merits, I’ll be damned if I can correlate the content to saving women NOW, TODAY! I don’t need to analyse the history of the rise of feminism to push countries to pass laws to prevent the subjugation of women. I don’t need to consider “The cyborg is a creature in a post-gender world; it has no truck with bisexuality, pre-oedipal symbiosis, unalienated labour, or other seductions to organic wholeness through a final appropriation of all the powers of the parts into a higher unity.” What I need is to see that fucking decal gone from that ute so small children aren’t seduced to organic unwholesomeness.
but globalisation has tended to change some of that. because many eastern cultures absorbed the notion that western cultures were more advanced and modern, they have adopted some of the cultural norms of the west. with the result that women who were never expected to change their names on marriage are now pressured to do so. the societal pressure that was so absent is now building & has been for some time now.
Here’s the thing: I am currently thinking that the patriarchy is so deeply embedded that all you need to do is type a phrase whilst sitting on your couch in your pyjamas and suddenly shiny patriarchy will appear. Like dial-a-patriarchy or something. It’s really so convenient. I, for example, typed “fake tanning” on my blog and managed to receive three posts from alleged fake tan providers discussing the virtues of their products. My post examining labiaplasty got a further two posts from cosmetic surgery companies (apparently) talking about the wonderful procedures they had on special should I wish to craft myself into the ultimate socially-acceptable woman. My comments on surrogacy earned me a post from an international surrogacy provider talking about the wonderful genetic material incubators they had available (in other words, women) just raring to produce a little Celeste clone so my life would be complete. Elsewhere, I questioned the Lingerie Football League and ended up with a free-ticket offer to one of their games (sadly, the tickets were available in North America not Northern Burbs Melbs). A literal cornucopia of patriarchal advertising just eager to get to my inbox. It is really quite insane.
This is a huge issue as not simply because a reduction in courses and subjects that students have to choose from is a detriment to their education by lack of breadth but also because it awkwardly reflects a lot of what is taught in these courses. To be honest I can’t think of better way to mirror the content of these courses about how women have been undervalued and had to fight for every freedom we enjoy today but also show the distance we still have to go than by cutting them.
We see ‘I’m not racist but’ comments on social media all the time. Websites like theantibogan.wordpress.com have been set up to give the online community the power to name and shame racists, sexists and homophobes. Such initiatives can make big statements particularly in the online sphere where people often think they have the added advantage of anonymity. But what of real life encounters? Where do we go to report IRL racists?
stargazer at The Hand Mirror writes about her hopes for the new Race Commissioner in New Zealand, Susan Devoy in “hoping for the best” and how important it is that they be able to work together:
if she fails to act or to speak, she won’t suffer the consequences: i will, or some other marginalised person and/or community of colour will. if she fails to do her job properly, i will find it harder to fight the discrimination i face in my day to day life.
Reading this book is like having a cosy chat with MumShirl. She gently but unflinchingly reveals how white policies, perhaps well meaning but misguided perhaps intentional, had devastating effects on Aboriginal communities. She talks of her early life at Erambie Mission in Cowra with her family, discovering she had epilepsy and her early struggles with it when medication was still unavailable to treat it, marrying, child rearing and losing her marriage and giving up her child to the care of relatives. She also talks about the extensive efforts she went to to support prisoners, family and anyone and everyone in need of help. She was a founding member of both the Aboriginal Legal Service and the Aboriginal Medical Service. Throughout her determination to do her best is her motivation, no matter the cost to her personally. She really was an amazing person (she passed away in 1998). She was awarded an MBE in 1975, an Order of Australia in 1985, Aborigine of the Year in 1990, and named as a National Living Treasure shortly before her death.
Now, to Jezebel. Jezebel, which on top of all its previous crimes against social justice decided that right now, right after a young black girl was called a cunt by The Onion, was the perfect time to post a big ol’ article about how cunt isn’t a bad word, it’s a word we should reclaim, woo yeah girl power right on.
Jo Tamer at Wallaby writes, “Sexuality and sex work” where she recounts a conversation she participated in where a straight woman asked a gay woman how much money it would take for her to sleep with a man.
One of the strengths of Things I Didn’t Expect (When I Was Expecting) is the way it so clearly identifies the contradictory pressures on new mothers – be natural, but don’t let yourself go. Speaking of hypocrisy, there’s also an excellent discussion in the book of the duplicitous game of ‘bad mother’ confessions that women sometimes play in mothers’ groups where the information they share is really slyly designed to enhance their own reputations as good mothers. But this is the difference between a feminist author like Dux, and a less nuanced writer – Dux is ultimately forgiving of the ‘bad mother’ game because she understands that while this behaviour silences us, it is also really about mothers coming to terms with the pressure of the ‘selfless mother’ expectation that is on all of us.
Julie at the Hand Mirror writes, “No country for young babies” regarding the baby left in a car at a supermarket carpark and the judgement poured on the mother of that child.
Utopiana at Rantings of an Aboriginal Feminist writes, “Turning 35 and the quandaries of reproductive “choice”” talking about the different types of choice (to have children or not as one example), and other reproductive issues, including surrogacy and birthing choices.
AlisonM at The Hand Mirror writes about a court case in New Zealand currently where a driver is being charged with reckless driving causing death of his wife’s fetus in ‘Careless Driving Causing Death’:
“There’s no definition of a person in the transport act, so that’s where this issue will focus on. What does it mean by a person,” he said in an interview in January. Along the way, however, Miller says, the police also must prove that Gebretsadik was careless and, if so, that it was the collision that caused the death of the fetus. His complaint with the police over the “causing death” charge is what he sees as their lack of compassion.
LMFAO go out of their way to posit that every body can be “sexy”, even those that do not meet society’s expectations. We know this from the fourth line, “This is how I roll, animal print pants, out of control”, where Redfoo seems to feel the need to address his unconventional appearance. This is reiterated with his “big afro”, and wearing a Speedo at the beach. Although he clearly attracts attention (“Everybody stops and they staring at me”), he does not apologise for standing out or taking up space. In fact, he relishes it, and asks for more (“Girl, look at that body”).
Bridgett Judd at the ramblings of an idiot writes, “The Obesity Paradox” in which she discusses the fact that the “war on obesity” has lead to a rise in eating disorders.
This shit doesn’t happen in a vacuum. These same media outlets publish story after story beating the “obesity epidemic” drum, and wringing their hands over “childhood obesity”, and then wonder why children obsess over their weight from a ridiculously early age? These media outlets crap on about being “healthy”, which is just diet-talk reworded with no actual conscientious addressing of holistic health of all people, and then they get all up in arms about children dieting? They allow the most hateful, bigoted crap about fat people to be published in the comments and call it “opinion”. Not to mention that every single time I go to a mainstream media site, women’s or not, I am bombarded with ads for weight loss. Where do they think kids, and their parents, get all of this stuff in the first place?
It’s tough being a woman. We just walk down the street and then, out of nowhere, an assault happens to us. We need to be particularly careful of these disembodied assaults that just hang around until they can happen at someone. At least, that’s the impression I get when journalists report on violence against women: men don’t assault women, it’s just that women have assaults happen to them.
Everyone knows that the word “slut” has power, whether we agree with it or not.
It is used to shame and degrade women and, more importantly, to put them in a box with a label that says “you’re not human here” and to make sure they stay there. Whilst there are many different variables in the slut-shaming game, the objective remains the same: to ensure women’s behaviour is deemed “acceptable” by societal terms, and to make sex a source of shame and not power. In a culture that is so concerned with labels and definitions, one has to pose the question: what is a slut? After years of being called a slut, of hearing my friends being called sluts I can only assume that a slut is a woman who doesn’t adhere to every societal expectation heaped upon her.
So when the media talks about women taking preventative measures to stop rape, it’s actually not dealing with the issue at hand very well at all – it’s only taking a tiny percentage of rapes and assaults into consideration. It’s telling us that if we just act ‘more carefully,’ we can stop being raped. With the implication being that if we areattacked, well, we obviously weren’t being quite careful enough.
There’s a wider discussion to be had here, about what should be shown and what shouldn’t be shown. Particularly as these stories get reported all around the world. When someone takes a gun into a school and starts shooting children, should the media make him famous? On the other hand, if his identity is just a minor part of the story, it removes him from his crime.
What was this about for TVNZ? Their appalling choice of backing music makes it look like it was all a bit of a laugh. Their focus on all the reasons people don’t intervene – including putting up an image of brave bystander Austin Hemmings not once but twice makes it look like they don’t believe community responsibility is possible. Their slavish hyping up of one young man’s potential for violence felt more like watching the build up to a boxing match than anything else. Their joky, oh-imagine-looking-like-a-dick defense of choosing not to intervene isn’t that far off the “it’s just a domestic” excuse of the 1950s.
My law lecturer made a rape joke while delivering a lecture to hundreds of students. Most of the
students laughed. That concerned me. But, I was equally concerned about the statistical certainty
that some of the students who laughed must have themselves been survivors of sexual assault.
When a well-respected professor from a sandstone university jokes about rape, he sends the
message that rape is a laughing matter. His voice is more powerful than most. His job is to teach us
about legal and ethical standards. By virtue of his position as a legal academic and student mentor,
this man had a responsibility to counteract rape culture, not perpetuate it.
I haven’t been able to get this out of my head since, and I think that it is important that we don’t forget that these things are still happening, dont put dealing with them in the to hard basket, say that colleges are just out of our reach or we can’t make the change in the 12 month term. But realise that the campaigns we run and in particular Talk About It are really important, they can and do help young women who are being abused, pressured and harassed. They do force Universities, Colleges and Government to take action.
Sarah Jane Innes at Sarah’s wold of procrastination writes, “Self Worth“:
My low self-esteem has led to my low self-worth and now they feed each other. Like most things wrong with adults it can be blamed on my childhood, specifically my teenage years. I was bullied, on all sorts of levels in all sorts of ways since year 4 (possibly earlier it’s all a blur). I was bullied for being new, for being quite, for freckles, for weight, for mental illness, for awkwardness, for my ‘weird’ family, for my learning difficulties. Basically I was the bully’s easiest target. I feel things deeply and I used to wear my heart on my sleeve. I still feel things too deeply but I try and hide it. Laugh it off or deliberately appear humourless. The years of bullying have worn away at me in a way that prevents me feeling worthy of the successes. I try to counteract this; I have had years of therapy on and off. I have realised on one level that my bullies were sad in their own ways, low on self-esteem, victims of bullying whether at school or at home. One actually has on her social media profile that she can’t stand ‘shy people’ or people with ‘mental weaknesses’, she plans on being a Journalist. I wonder how with her apparent lack of empathy. For the most part these people have no place in my life, I cut the ties, unfriended and avoid. Some I pity because of their current life circumstances but none of this undoes the pain and hurt. None of this fixes my self-esteem problems. Nor should it. The day I feel better because my former bullies are not successful in the ways that I measure success is the day I sink to that high school level.
*Trigger warning for bullying, fat hatred and eating disorders*
So that terrible, terrible show “The Biggest Loser” is back on TV, which means that I will be avoiding whatever channel it’s on (I don’t watch TV enough to even know that), and I won’t be watching that TV screen when I’m at the gym. Because regardless of how some people might see the torture of fat people “inspiring” as they learn to love/hate their bodies for TV, I just find the entire thing repulsive.
This season, according to the TV ads I’ve seen, we’re doing parent and child teaming, because with stats just pulled out of someone’s arse (because they’re not cited anywhere in the ad), if you are an obese parent, you’re far more likely to have obese children. The dad whose interview appears on the ads I’ve watched talks about how his son comes home from school crying because he’s beingbullied about his weight and that this (Biggest Loser) is an opportunity for him to gain some confidence.
The Biggest Loser, apart from being a show that even in the ad we see almost kills the father, is not a show that will help anyone gain confidence. In the small amounts I have watched over the years, I cannot see how being screamed at by personal trainers, being forced to binge on food to the point of tears, being hounded about not doing enough, and having your body gazed upon and judged by the entire country is going to do anything for your confidence.
If that boy was my son, I would be talking to the school about the bullying he’s receiving, I’d talk to the parents of the children who are bullying my son and explaining the effects of bullying, I’d go to the Department of Education and demand more action if not enough was taken, I’d ensure that my son had proper counselling or psychological care to help build resilience, confidence and develop tools to build support networks. I’m not saying that this family hasn’t done any of this, what I’m saying is that in my toolbox in dealing with this issue The Biggest Loser does not, and would never, appear.
I feel sorry for those who compete to enter The Biggest Loser. I feel for all the fat hatred they’ve swallowed and believe that they only way that they’ll truly be happy is to lose weight while almost killing themselves for the pleasure of doing so.
Don’t let me be the only one telling you that The Biggest Loser is possibly the worst torture porn you will ever watch, let Kai Hibbard, a contestant in the US version tell it to you instead. Parts 1, 2, & 3 of her interviews with Golda Poresky detail her experiences on the show, having to ignore doctor’s orders, developing an eating disorder and the bullying from the TV producers.
Do Australia a favour and do not watch The Biggest Loser. Leave it alone, shun it as it should be shunned, and instead work on removing fat hatred from your own vocabulary and if you can, pointing it out to others as something that is unacceptable.
Seriously. In most of the fantasy works I’ve consumed, orcs are violent, mindless or less intelligent than human beings, brutal and thuggish and Always Chaotic Evil. But these are adjectives, not nouns. All mythological creatures have a real-world root. Dryads are trees + humans + magic. Mermaids are fish + humans + magic, or maybe porpoises + magic. Unicorns are deer or horses + magic, maybe with a bit of narwhal glued on. Dragons are reptiles + magic, or maybe dinosaur bones + magic – paleontology. So again: what are orcs supposed to be?
Bottom line: in nearly every iteration of orcs that occurs in fantasy, orcs are meant to be a warped mirror of humanity. They’ve got all the stuff that’s in humans — emotions, a degree of intellect, sometimes free will — but it’s all wrong. They’re corrupted by evil magic or environmental degradation or their own hubris. In some iterations orcs are sexually perverse, so we’ve got bad genetics to consider too. They are human bodies + bad magic – the essence of humanity, for whatever value that essence might hold: a soul, a mind, aestheticism, whatever. And therefore, in most fantasy settings in which I’ve seen orcs appear, they are fit only for one thing: to be mowed down, usually on sight and sans negotiation, by Our Heroes. Orcs are human beings who can be slaughtered without conscience or apology.
Think about that. Creatures that look like people, but aren’t really. Kinda-sorta-people, who aren’t worthy of even the most basic moral considerations, like the right to exist. Only way to deal with them is to control them utterly a la slavery, or wipe them all out.
Kolchin, now 86, has long since traded the punched-card machines for an iPod — now one of her favorite gadgets — but she’s still programming, a full 66 years after getting her start. Kolchin runs the website for the Boca West Special Interest Club she belongs to and sends members their weekly e-newsletters. (“I was doing Web pages before anyone else was doing Web pages,” she says with a touch of pride, noting software from Webs.com makes it “as easy as pie.”)
Lidiya Vladimirovna Litvyak was the young fighter pilot with the bouquet of wildflowers in her cockpit who shot down a dozen of the Luftwaffe’s best pilots to become the highest scoring woman air ace of all time…
Lidiya – known as Lilya – helped symbolise a generation of young women, barely old enough not to be called schoolgirls, who answered the call in 1941 to fight the Germans, and who became heroines in the armed forces of the Soviet Union, the only nation to regularly use women in combat roles in World War II.
Though she would never have imagined it, she can also be seen to symbolise the spirit of the 21st Century military women who heroically fight and die on the world’s battlefronts.
I see biphobia as a particular aspect of monosexism, they are definitely not interchangeable. Monosexism, as I see it, refers to the structural privileging of monosexual identities and behaviours. So, monosexism refers, for example, to the belief that one can only be either straight or gay, that it is better to be monosexual than bisexual*, that only monosexual identities are “real”, that monosexual issues are the only ones deserving of attention, etc. Monosexism causes bisexual erasure (from media, literature, art, TV and film, etc.), it causes discrimination when it comes to activist priorities, budgeting, etc. It causes the social isolation that leads many bis* to have poor health and mental health, and prevents proper treatment and support that might help alleviate them. It keeps bi* people “low” on the “pecking order” and creates all sorts of oppression. I see monosexism as the main factor responsible for all the horrible statistics in the Bisexual Invisibility report, for example. So, basically, monosexism is the system, the base structure. It is everything which isn’t directly aimed at bi* people but nonetheless has the effect of eradicating our existence or legitimacy.
Here’s what I want to tell you, dear male allies. It is such a relief. Listening to other peoples’ voices? Is incredibly moving, and humbling, and endlessly interesting. Shutting the hell up while I do it? God, how I love the sound of not-my-own-voice. Going into battle against racists and so forth? So much easier, now that I have a faint clue what’s actually going on.
Yes – silly isn’t it. I feel rather foolish making this awful public confession that I’ve sort of lost my Aunty, but it’s a fact – if a fact can be ‘sort of’. Anyway, I do my share of complaining about the lack of any sort of facts in much of today’s media, so ‘fess up I must. It’s embarrassing. Aunty Ambidextra Balancedia Clarificia (ABC for short) has been in our family for – well, since she was born really, in 1932 – making her only 7 years 5 months older than her niece. It happens in families.
Mind you, she’s not just my Aunty and she’s not really my Aunty at all – as in a blood relation or anything. My Mum and Dad just happened to take her in as a tiny baby and reared her as my Aunt. This also happens in families. Goodness knows where her parents were – she seemed to be surrounded by fusty, old, white, politically-absorbed males at the time – but that’s for later.
Although often referred to as the woman who disguised herself as a man to practice gynaecology and midwifery, Jakoba (or Jacqueline) Felicie was most likely a general practitioner and never pretended to be a man.
In November 1322 she and another five medical practitioners (two men, three women) were excommunicated and fined sixty Parisian livres. The trial records are exceptionally detailed and show that she has never been accused of causing harm to her patients. Eight witnesses testified that she had cured them after university-trained (male) physicians have given up. And that is where she had touched a sore spot, it seems. Jakoba’s trial is not the simple story about suppression of female practitioners, but rather demonstrates the increasing power and influence of the Faculty of Medicine in Paris.
This is where it becomes obvious that Hall does not understand the difference between sex and gender. The terms “women” and “men” are terms for gender; “female” and “male” are terms to refer to sex. She confusingly uses sex traits to describe gender differences. We certainly assign meanings to these different biological traits, but what Hall is explaining above turns out to be an excellent example of how sexed bodies come already wrapped up in our understandings of gender. Hall’s understandings of what it means to be “man” and “woman” (gender) affect how she categorizes bodies (sex).
Let me deconstruct this a bit further: having breasts, menstruating, getting pregnant, lactating, and having two X chromosomes are not inherently “womanly” things. Those are things that are more common to female-bodied individuals, but a person who identifies as a woman may go through her life not having or doing any of those things. Because “woman” is a cultural category, not a biological category.
According to the report, 77 percent of those who travel to work by bike are male. Men also accounted for 57 percent of those who drove to work. In contrast, women were overrepresented as car passengers, walkers and users of public transport.
The report says:
‘Some commentators in Australia and the United States have argued that the flexibility of the car makes it an ideal travel mode for women, whose travel patterns are often more diverse, in space and time, than men’s. By contrast, public transport, especially the fixed-rail variety, is said to be inflexible and thus unsuited to women’s needs.’
But you, you are not an asshole. I know this because you have told me so. And because you are not an asshole, I feel like I can say these things to you, in the hopes that you will think about them the next time you hang out with a friend who might be fat — or even the next time you interact with a fat person that you don’t know.
You don’t want to be like that friend of mine who went on and on, drunkenly, about how gross it probably would be to have sex with President Taft without realizing that I weigh more than he did when he was President. Right? Right.
Do evangelicals actually believe that there is an association between homosexuality and paedophilia? If my intro didn’t clue you in already, the answer is yes, yes they do. Why? Let’s see if I can shed some light on that.
I’ll start, of course, with my “tale of two boxes.” While progressive sexual ethics generally hinge on whether or not something is consensual, conservative sexual ethics more frequently hinge on whether or not the Bible condemns an act. In other words, progressives would never treat rape and premarital sex as somehow comparable, but conservatives would, because both are forbidden by God. Thus while progressives would not compare consensual gay sex with child molestation, conservatives would, because they would see both as abominations in the sight of God. Sin is sin, and evangelicals generally don’t distinguish between sexual sins that are consensual and those that are not.
This happened a couple months ago, on a flamewar that went down in response to a panel discussion of the role of lesbian transwomen in the San Francisco Dyke March. The panel itself went really well, but self-proclaimed ‘radical feminists’ descended on the facebook page for the march, and proceeded to vomit hatred like they’d washed down the enterovirus sandwich they had for lunch with a bottle of ipecac.
The basic gist of their argument, a gist I’d like to unpack, dismantle, put back in the box and sell without a crucial lynchpin to some unsuspecting craigslist schmuck, is as follows:
1. Gender is not something that proceeds naturally from one’s sex.
2. Feminine genders are forced upon female-bodied children from a very young age, for the purpose of oppressing them.
3. All gender is performance.
4. Transwomen are performing feminine genders.
5. HEY THAT’S OUR GENDER GIVE IT BACK RIGHT THE FUCK NOW!
Happy New Y ear everyone! I hope that 2013 is awesome for you all, that you find happiness, peace, contentment, joy, and all other sorts of positive things this year.
Now here is a collection of posts and other interesting things I’ve found over the last month that I thought I’d share with you.
First up is a Part 1 of a short film “The Silent City” about the end of… we’ll we’re not quite sure. At time of writing there are 5 parts completed, and clearly intent for a 6th and perhaps more. The film makers have used the abandoned spaces of New York (I think) very well, and one of my favourite things about the movie is that it uses a non-white actor as the protagonist. Enjoy
In the rest of this answer, though, I’ll show how the accusation of ‘unnatural’ is only used to protect the power structure as-is: people accept all sorts of things that were once considered unnatural if those things prove to help white heterosexual cis men. Specifically, they accept medical technology, beautifications and body modifications usually used by women (so long as they jibe with the male gaze), and (since it’s become economically beneficial for white supremacist capitalist patriarchy, at least to some extent) women working outside the home and in professional jobs. [emphasis in original]
Any mention of Willow Smith seems to eventually devolve into a discussion of what is “acceptable” black parenting. There’s a myth (heavily fed by the media) that the Smiths are doing something incredibly new and unusual, particularly for black parents. Conversations about their parenting never really touch on the fact that their children are already millionaires in their own right with an even larger inheritance ahead. Willow Smith can shave her head one week and wear an ankle-length wig the next because she’s in an environment where it’s safe for her to explore everything that interests her. There is no need for the Smiths to teach their children the same lessons taught to poor black kids in the inner city, or even those facts of life that middle class black kids in the suburbs might need to learn.
Willow’s situation is unique for a young black girl in America, and the very public nature of her life has a lot to do with the responses to her fashion choices. Those who take issue with lack of boundaries set on her appearance are really reacting to the world in which walking while black can be an invitation for harassment, assault, or death. They live in communities rife with gang violence, police brutality, and institutional racism that would make it impossible for them to have green hair and be gainfully employed. In their minds, the Smiths are allowing Willow to develop habits that could have long-term consequences, and they cannot imagine how these choices could be a good idea.
Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg is fond of repeating this business world double standard among groups of women: “Success and likeability are positively correlated for men and negatively correlated for women.” So as men gain power, we like them more. As women rise in the ranks, we like them less. Jessica Valenti has proposed that women respond by ditching their “desire to be liked and accepted” altogether. “Women adjust their behavior to be likable and as a result have less power in the world,” she writes. “But the trade-off is undoubtedly worth it. Power and authenticity are worth it.”
If only bitches had it so easy. People may dislike powerful women, but being unlikable won’t necessarily help women get that power in the first place. One 2011 study found that while acting rude and disagreeable helps increase men’s earning potential in the office, the same is not true of women. When it comes to salary negotiation, even nice guys don’t finish last—they, too, are better situated than disagreeable women. So women are counseled to act like ladies when asking for a raise.
Rachel and Tyler Fracassa always did things too soon.
They became inseparable when they were 12 and married at 16. At 18, they had a house in Raytown and another child on the way.
Last year, the couple built a homestead on a 16-acre plot of land in Urich, Mo. The one-room house was enveloped by three pastures, a winding creek and a spring-fed pond.
It was as beautiful as it was secluded, and it embodied the couple’s biggest dream: to live as simply as possible so they could spend lots of time together and, someday, save enough money to take their kids all over the world.
The report, into the media portrayal of LGB audiences, featured interviews with LGB organisations and representatives and comes two years after a 2010 study carried out by the BBC. In two parts, the report also featured the views of around 3,500 people on the BBC’s own independently run audience reaction panel, Pulse.
Doctor Who, Downton Abbey and Holby City were among the shows praised by the report for their inclusion of incidental LGB characters. “Doctor Who quite often has a gay character in it but it isn’t always an issue or the plotline,” said anti-hate crime charity Galop. “It’s just incidental which has been quite nice.”
But there was criticism of another BBC drama, Lip Service, about a group of lesbians living in Glasgow which aired on BBC3. The actors trade union Equity said: “Lip Service is written by a lesbian/bisexual woman. This makes a huge difference.
“However, the episodes were directed by men and the majority of the lesbian characters were played by heterosexual actors and this clearly impacts on the quality and integrity of the representation. Some of it was laughable.”
But my rant is actually not quite about that stuff at all. It’s about history, and this notion that History Is Authentically Sexist. Yes, it is. Sure it is. We all know that. But what do you mean when you say “history?”
History is not a long series of centuries in which men did all the interesting/important things and women stayed home and twiddled their thumbs in between pushing out babies, making soup and dying in childbirth.
History is actually a long series of centuries of men writing down what they thought was important and interesting, and FORGETTING TO WRITE ABOUT WOMEN. It’s also a long series of centuries of women’s work and women’s writing being actively denigrated by men. Writings were destroyed, contributions were downplayed, and women were actively oppressed against, absolutely.
The other day I saw the new character model for Cortana and I was thinking it seemed pretty alright – she looked older, stronger, far less caricatured. If Cortana was always going to be titillating, at least she seemed a more appropriate object of desire: more 25 than 15, more flesh than real doll.
So I got a bit nervous when I saw a lot of negative reactions to Cortana’s new larger boobs. Not because that reaction wasn’t coming from a good place – these were people I respected, reacting against objectification of women and the presentation of unrealistic ideals to young women. But just a couple of weeks earlier I heard they’ve got plans to make the new Lara Croft incarnation deeper, and part of that will be making her boobs smaller. The implication that larger boobs are a liability to well-presented, deep characters makes me nervous because, well, how many stacked women get to have complex stories in popular media? I can think of Joan Holloway and…?
Boob sizes have been neatly separating the mistresses from wives, the sexy/trashy good-times-girls from the arty/pretentious hipsters, the ciphers from the plotlines. Video games have certainly fed the first part of the stereotype, that ‘e-cup women are playthings’, but wouldn’t only giving empathetic roles to C-cup-or-less women just reinforce that? (It’s also implying small-boobed women can’t be objectified because they’re insufficiently sexy. The beauty of this system is no-one wins!) Where are the ‘twist’ video games for this gaming trope, promoted as indulging the players’ desire to objectify women, but surprise! actually gives you that character’s perspective about what it’s like to live with all that objectification? Lara Croft isn’t running towards her goal, she’s running away from you, thousands upon thousands of leering players.
But there’s another point I want to make, because the logic that suggests “Sex is fun, fun is trivial, certain bodies are more sex than others, therefore certain bodies are more trivial than others.”, comes from the same place as that attitude towards media: “Play is fun, fun is trivial, certain media forms are more about play than others, therefore certain media forms are more trivial than others.”
Over at not language but a map, “just shut up” about problematic themes in media (the excerpt below relates to Beauty and the Beast):
The film ended, and my professor flicked the light on. She passed out a handout we’d already received, a list of warning signs for domestic abusers. This list included things like, “Isolates partner from support systems—tries to keep them from family, friends, outside activities.” It included things like, “Attempts to control what partner wears, does, or sees.” It included things like, “Is extremely moody, jumping quickly from being nice to exploding in anger.” It included things like, “Is overly sensitive—gets hurt when not getting their way, takes offense when someone disagrees with them, gets very upset at small inconveniences.” It included things like, “Has unrealistic expectations of partner,” and “Is abusive towards other people,” and “Has ever threatened violence, even if it wasn’t a serious threat,” and, “Gets romantically serious very quickly,” and “Holds partner against their will,” and “Intimidates with threatening body language, punching walls, breaking objects, etc.” The Beast meets almost every criterion on the list, and those he doesn’t meet (“Was abused by a parent,” “Grew up in an abusive home,”) are only unmet in the sense that we have no way to know, from the narrative given to us, whether he meets them or not.
My professor said, “Okay. Now let’s talk about it.”
One of the frustrating things for me about spending a lot of time with women, writing about women’s issues, and interacting with women is that I’m usually read as a woman and have that identity forced on me even though I’m very open about the fact that I’m genderqueer. This isn’t just because of how I look, although obviously that’s a factor; with a lot of images of me circulating on the web, often accompanying my work, it’s inevitable that people are going to make a snap assumption about my gender on the basis of my appearance. Nor is it because of the way I write; writing analysis tools tend to skew masculine when I run my work through them.
It’s because of what I write about. The assumption is that anyone who writes both passionately and sometimes personally about issues that primarily affect women must be a woman, because who else would care, right? And who else would share those experiences (rather than pontificating on them as an outside observer)? Consequently, I end up in this strange doublebind where I am welcomed into ‘women’s spaces’ and forcibly labeled as a woman—as long as it’s convenient, and then suddenly I’m shut out.
Inequality doesn’t just spring up without a context. And women don’t just opt out of hacking and hacker communities because of the tired rhetoric “maths and hacking is boys’ business.”
No, women stay the hell away from hacker-spaces, conferences and tech initiatives because of on-going experiences of misogyny, abuse, threats, put downs, belittlement, harassment, rape.
Last infosec conference I went to – there was six females and over 1000 males in attendance. My female friend roped me into pretending I was her lesbian lover, simply to get a guy to let-the-fuck-go of her hand.
At this point, some of you are thinking, “Well, if DEFCON is so bad for women, women just shouldn’t go. Who cares?”
As KC puts it, “Defcon is also many wonderful things. It is a fantastic environment to learn, network, and connect with friends old and new.” There’s a reason that I attended DEFCON five times before I quit. DEFCON and other hacker conferences are popular for all the reasons that conferences exist at all: learning new things, meeting people in your field, improving your reputation, finding jobs, and making new friends.
I’ll start with the most obvious benefit of attending DEFCON: jobs. Did you know that Twitter is recruiting computer security experts at DEFCON? So are Zynga and the NSA
More people are finally taking notice of the abuse. But there’s still a dearth of discussion on why it’s happening. The culprit isn’t anonymity, often the go-to answer for why the Internet can’t have nice things. Instead, it’s believing in the exceptionality of the Internet—and online gaming—that allows the abuses within, and it is enabled every time someone utters “It’s just a game.”
That phrase is the machine to which oppressive power dynamics are the ghost. How many times have you heard someone say “It’s the Internet; you shouldn’t take that seriously”? This kind of thinking supports the idea you can do anything you want with no consequences, when in all actuality, virtual actions like sexual harassment, stalking, abuse, prejudice in all of its forms—racism, sexism, transphobia, or all of the above—do have consequences.
Let’s start with that distinction between “online” and “the real world.” In the virtual world, there is a clear, aggressively policed distinction dictating the boundaries of both cyberspace and its social practices. In online gaming spaces in particular, this distinction is similar to the difference between “play” and “nonplay.” As child psychologists have long recognized, the act of saying “this is play” makes the real seem unreal, and thus malleable and less threatening. It allows for experimentation and learning, as well as simply finding out who you are. But in online gaming spaces, when combined with a culture of zero accountability and prejudice, it becomes a way of denying the impact of one’s words and actions—putting no limit on how nasty they can be.
There was a time that it gave me a blush of pride to be referred to as “the Spelling Sergeant” or “the Punctuation Police”. I would gleefully tear a syntactic strip out of anybody who fell victim to the perils of poor parallelism or the menace of misplaced modifiers. I railed against atrostrophes and took a red pen to signs posted in staff rooms, bulletin boards and public washrooms. I was, to put it bluntly, really, really annoying.
Four years ago, I was hired in a program that helps disadvantaged adults acquire fundamental literacy skills. To say that it has been an eye-opening experience deeply understates its impact; in fact, it has been mind-opening. And one of the ideas that has fallen into my newly-open mind is that being pedantic about the language skills of perfect strangers is kind of an asshole move.
It’s a tough habit to break, though. Prescriptivists are vocal and ubiquitous, and many of them have found their way into the public education system. Writing can be a powerful form of communication, and grammar snobs tend to be good at it, so the result is that their sneering condescensions become canonized – and cannon-ized – as easy shots against opponents in intellectual debate. The advent of the world wide web, naturally, has elevated this sport to Olympic proportions.
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.
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].”
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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’.
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.
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!
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.
“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.”
‘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.
“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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
There is a certain type of pollen that drives my skin mad in early Spring. This period of time has now passed, and I feel much better, though I think sleeping for an age would still be nice. But before I do, here are some things about the interwebs I’ve found interesting recently.
We have so mastered the art of talking to someone who is not there, that we can even do it beautifully when someone very much is there, right in front of us. We can obliterate them with our monologue and blow them away like so much straw. It’s so prevalent, especially in discussions where this could not be more counter productive, I’d forgive anyone who thought this is a necessary, adaptive trait for our species.
Now that I’ve stuffed you full of information, you might be wondering “Okay then, why do I need to know this excessively specific vocabulary?” Since you’re reading a Skepchick network site, you probably tread in lots of spaces which well cover the specific marginalization of women/females from the atheist movement. To a degree, this type of harassment and exclusion is also directed at LGBT+ individuals.
The Atheism+ movement was started by atheists who desire to work for social justice as much as they promote atheism. Even non-believers who don’t subscribe to that label can commonly agree that we need to open our doors to everyone–especially groups which are already marginalized, often with religious backing. To that end, we have to educate ourselves about the issues and struggles of LGBT+ people, women, racial minorities, and people with mental illnesses. By teaching ourselves and spreading the knowledge, we’re eliminating the stigmas attached to these groups.
A woman’s beauty is supposed to be her grand project and constant insecurity. We’re meant to shellac our lips with five different glosses, but always think we’re fat. Beauty is Zeno’s paradox. We should endlessly strive for it, but it’s not socially acceptable to admit we’re there. We can’t perceive it in ourselves. It belongs to the guy screaming “nice tits.”
Saying “I’m beautiful,” let alone charging for it, breaks the rules.
Laura Stone guest posts at Skepchick, “Guest Post: A Mother’s Plea to Bullies” *trigger warning for bullying*:
I’ve heard that I’m a terrible mother for leaving my child in a situation where he’s being brutalized. That he needs to pull himself up by his bootstraps and beat the hell out of his attackers. That he needs more Jesus in his life. That if he only smiles back at the bullies, why, their hearts will grow three sizes that day and they’ll all be BFFs.
There are a few problems with those suggestions. First, I haven’t left my child anywhere. Every single administrator, counselor, and teacher from his 3rd grade in elementary school to this year in high school knows my face and my name. I’m always assured that they’re looking into things. They’re getting to the bottom of it. If they can only catch these punks in the act, life will be better. (And if my son could only remember their names. Or not be terrified about turning them in, because that hasn’t worked out well either. Retaliation is the name of that game.)
Second, my son is on the Autism Spectrum. To think that he would be capable of beating up on someone is ridiculous. (Not to mention that he weighs a buck o’five at almost seventeen years old.) He approaches things from logic. To him, it’s illogical to hit a person in order to make them stop hitting him. Frankly, it tells me a lot about a person if they think that contradictory mindset works, like biting back a toddler to make him stop biting.
I spent the better half of 2010 carrying out research. Among other things, I wondered about whether the concept of homosexuality existed in African culture. I also wanted to investigate the structured recruitment of children by the LGBT community. As I always do, I first consulted my reliable team of Acholi elders. They told me that gay men and women have always existed among the Acholi society and are commonly referred to as “obedo dako dako” (gay) and “obedo lacoo lacoo” (lesbian). They also acknowledged that the communal nature of the Acholi society forced many gay and lesbian people to conform to what was considered “normal”.
A new report from the Williams Institute shows that bisexual women and gay men experience higher rates of domestic-violence victimization than people of other gender-and-sexual-orientation combinations. The stats about bisexual women, unfortunately, came as no surprise. The fact that bisexual women are more likely than women of other orientations to be abused by their partners has been reported on before, as covered in the book Bisexual Health (published by the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force). However, this is the first time I’ve seen a study that showed that gay men have this particular thing in common with bisexual women. And the Williams Institute takes the research one step further, noting that the vast majority (95 percent) of the bisexual women who are in abusive relationships are, like gay men, in relationships with men. So what we have here is a situation in which people who not straight, and who are in relationships with men, are being abused by those men. The study, then, is not so much about the experiences of bisexual women or gay men but about those of queer people who date men.
Whenever I go to the gym I tend to put my earphones in and try to avoid watching the music video screen, which is huge. Instead I focus on the display on the treadmill, other people at the gym, or the TV shows on the tiny screens. However, every now and again I see something interesting out of the corner of my eye, or a film clip I actually like, and I catch myself watching the music videos… and wow, some of them are terrible.
As a generalisation, the film clips shown at my gym, when sung by male singers, feature women as objects, as tits and arses, as thin, gyrating people who are clamouring to have sex with the singer, or the viewer. Interestingly though, those film clips of songs sung by women, have women front and centre, as entire beings, and generally as free agents. The two messages don’t really go together, and I am increasingly grossed out by the male-dominated film clips at my gym (hence me not watching them).
This is a gym, a gym that believes to be fit and healthy, one has to be slim and preferably muscular. This gym believes that I have joined solely to lose all that fat that keeps following me around, because clearly fat is an unwanted thing and not part of who I am. And that being fat is a bad thing, and being thin is a good thing. None of this has been said to my face, but it really doesn’t have to be with all the posters extolling the virtues of their boot camps with before and after photos.
So imagine my surprise when I saw a film clip of the Beth Ditto song, “I wrote the Book”. Here was a proudly fat woman, singing a great song, dancing like she had every right to, and in the film clip being desired by several gorgeous men. I was amazed – mostly because I had completely failed up until this point to even notice Beth Ditto (not watching film clips didn’t help), and also because this was so subversive. I was exercising at the gym, an activity that many people looking at me would assume be because I hated my fat body and wanted to be thin (I just want to be fit and strong), and here I was watching a proud fat woman, dance and be desired, knowing that although outside the gym this is actually a normal part of life, inside the gym it was subversive.
So thank you to whoever programs those songs for sneaking in a Beth Ditto song. Please note that I’d like a whole lot less of the “women as sexual objects” and a lot more of the “everyone, regardless of who they are and what they look like can have a good time” clips for the future.