Tag Archives: body image

The linkspam of ARGH ARGH GET IT OFF ME

So I had a terrible fright the other night while driving home that a spider had crawled down the back of my shirt.  It ended up being a very dead moth, after smearing it all over my shirt and back, and a very frightened me.  Now that my panic of creepy crawly things has passed, I thought I’d share some great links with you that I’ve found over the past month.

First up is a post from Eve Rickert, guest posting at Solopoly, “Slippery language and couple-centric polyamory“, which I pretty much agree with all of:

Part of what Franklin and I are trying to do with our book is to reflect the real diversity of structures and approaches that polyamorous people adopt. We’re trying to break free from the couple-centric approach that has long characterized so much of the writing and discourse about polyamory, even on Franklin’s own site. In this process, we’re learning that language can be very slippery. Many common phrases that poly people use — even those who don’t practice hierarchical polyamory — reflect a couple-centric viewpoint. It’s damn hard to root these out.

Greta Christina featured a guest post from Franklin Veaux (the Franklin referred to above), “More Than Two: Guest Post on Ethical Polyamory from Franklin Veaux“:

It’s difficult to talk about polyamory without hearing the expression “ethical non-monogamy.” There’s a bit of a sticky wicket, though, in that we rarely talk about the definition of “ethical,” beyond the obvious “don’t lie to your partners.” That’s a good start, sure, but it’s not enough to construct an entire foundation of relationship ethics on. When we’re living in a society that proscribes everything except heterosexual marriage between exactly two cisgendered people of opposite sexes, how do we even start talking about what makes an ethical non-monogamous relationship? Where do we turn for ethics? What distinguishes an ethical relationship from a non-ethical one? Are ethical relationships egalitarian, and if so, how does that align with BDSM relationships that are deliberately constructed along the lines of power exchange? If two people make an agreement and then present that agreement unilaterally to a third person, who is given few options other than accept the agreement as-is or walk away, is that ethical? What happens when people make relationship agreements, and then their needs change? What are ethical ways of revisiting and renegotiating previous agreements? How do we even define “ethics” in the first place, without resorting to religious or social conventions? What does it take for a person to make ethical relationship choices that aren’t aligned with a religious tradition or a cultural norm?

Laurie Penny New Statesman writes, “Society needs to get over its harmful obsession with labelling us all girls or boys“:

There are many conditions that can cause a person to be biologically intersex. Stories about the “third gender”, about gods and humans who weren’t quite men or women, have been with us for millennia, but there has long been pressure on doctors and parents to “fix” any baby who isn’t obviously either a boy or a girl. This often entails intimate surgery that is performed when the child is too young to consent. Traumatic reports about the effect this sort of procedure can have on kids when they grow up appear routinely in the tabloids – but the question of why, precisely, it is considered so urgent that every child be forced to behave like a “normal” boy or girl is rarely discussed.

Carl Zimmer at The New York Time’s Science section writes, “DNA Double Take“:

But scientists are discovering that — to a surprising degree — we contain genetic multitudes. Not long ago, researchers had thought it was rare for the cells in a single healthy person to differ genetically in a significant way. But scientists are finding that it’s quite common for an individual to have multiple genomes. Some people, for example, have groups of cells with mutations that are not found in the rest of the body. Some have genomes that came from other people.

“There have been whispers in the matrix about this for years, even decades, but only in a very hypothetical sense,” said Alexander Urban, a geneticist at Stanford University. Even three years ago, suggesting that there was widespread genetic variation in a single body would have been met with skepticism, he said. “You would have just run against the wall.”

But a series of recent papers by Dr. Urban and others has demonstrated that those whispers were not just hypothetical. The variation in the genomes found in a single person is too large to be ignored. “We now know it’s there,” Dr. Urban said. “Now we’re mapping this new continent.”

Rebecca Hiles at XOJane writes, “How Not To Be A Dick To To Your Polyamorous Friend“:

While the vast majority of my friends and family were incredibly understanding when I came out as polyamorous, some had questions and criticisms. Even now, after about 4 years of being publically polyamorous, I know quite a few people who just “don’t get” polyamory.

While discussing relationship structures which may be unfamiliar to you can be a bit awkward, and lead to misunderstandings, it is important to ask questions rather than passing judgements or making blind assumptions.

Clare Foran at The Atalantic Cities writes, “How to Design a City for Women“:

The majority of men reported using either a car or public transit twice a day — to go to work in the morning and come home at night. Women, on the other hand, used the city’s network of sidewalks, bus routes, subway lines and streetcars more frequently and for a myriad reasons.

“The women had a much more varied pattern of movement,” Bauer recalls. “They were writing things like, ‘I take my kids to the doctor some mornings, then bring them to school before I go to work. Later, I help my mother buy groceries and bring my kids home on the metro.'”

Women used public transit more often and made more trips on foot than men. They were also more likely to split their time between work and family commitments like taking care of children and elderly parents. Recognizing this, city planners drafted a plan to improve pedestrian mobility and access to public transit.

Sarah Milstein at HuffPost Women writes, “5 Ways White Feminists Can Address Our Own Racism“:

Last month, the hashtag #SolidarityIsForWhiteWomen erupted on Twitter. Started by Mikki Kendall, it immediately became a channel for women of color to call out how implicit racial bias, double standards for women of different races and overt racism are all baked into mainstream white feminism. If you’ve been following feminism for the past 150 years, you probably weren’t surprised by the range of grievances. But if you’re a white feminist and you were surprised or you felt defensive or you think you’re not part of the problem, then now is the time to woman up, rethink your own role and help reshape feminism.

While there are many reasons white feminists have to do this work, Kendall’s hashtag highlighted an important one: we cannot credibly or successfully seek societal change when we ourselves create the same injustices we rail against. In other words, the problems we face as women are often the problems we create as white people.

Erin Rook at PQ writes, “International Leather SIR/boy Competition to Ban Trans Contestants“:

The board of directors for two international leather community events announced Sept. 22 that they will no longer permit trans men to enter the International Leather SIR/boy contest — contestants must be cisgender gay men.

The change comes after ownership of the contest changed hands from Mark Frazier to Jeffrey Payne about a year ago and as the organization expands opportunities for participation to a wider segment of the community be eliminating the requirement for contestants to advance through regional competitions.

According to Leatherati, Payne explained that the policy change harkens back to the old days of the contest, which only opened up to trans contestants five years ago in order to comply with California law.

Suzi Skinner at Women’s Agenda writes, “Three tips for talking about gender equality in a social setting“:

Discussing women in leadership, or gender equality in general, in a social setting can be illuminating. If your companions are supporters of the cause the conversation will flow and there is, usually, much for us to learn when this occurs. However, if those in your company are not on the informed side of the ledger, it can be tricky. In that instance it’s helpful to know what you can expect so here are a few tips to think about.

Alexandra at The Feminist Hive Mind writes, “I’ll make myself a sandwich, thanks“:

There are some warning bells going off as I read more and more of the posts. For instance: There are tags for “forbidden“/”Forbidden foods“. Hell, there’s a list of “forbidden” foods in the sidebar! And I get it, there’s some shit out there that will simply ruin a pizza for me (whoever thought that black olives would be a great addition to an otherwise wonderful pie needs to sit in the corner and think about what they’ve done). But “forbidden,” even in the context of making food for someone else to enjoy, is scary strict and not a healthy way to talk to a romantic partner. I know people with food allergies that wouldn’t even use that type of black-and-white, here’s-the-line-you-do-not-cross language and their health is on the line (unlike Eric who just doesn’t like to eat green vegetables). At minimum, it’s condescending and insulting.

Alecia Simmonds at Daily Life writes, “In defence of ‘murderous rage’“:

In case you missed it, last week Gillard gave her first interview since being dismissed from the office of Prime Minister with journalist, author, in fact all-round-feminist-goddess, Anne Summers. When the discussion moved to the sexist treatment she endured in office Gillard responded with stoicism. She knew of the vulgar cartoons but chose not to focus on them. ‘But it must have been upsetting, surely,’ probed Summers. Gillard grinned: ‘I would have said more like murderous rage, really’. And the auditorium erupted in laughter, (which was weird because most of the people there were killjoy feminists who spend their days in a state of crushing seriousness broken only by the occasional screech of ‘that’s not funny’ when they see lovers standing on a bridge giggling at ducks).

It was a joke. It was very clearly a joke. And in case you didn’t get it Gillard explained a few seconds afterwards: “I think maybe we can drop the ‘murderous’ but we should feel a sense of rage about it because it’s only through something that really spurs you on to action that it’s going to change.”

fliponymous at Eponymous Fliponymous writes, “Scriptive, or, There Is Trouble In The Forest“:

The bisexual community has, for many years, been dismissed and erased just as surely as its individual members. Yes, we are an amorphous and heterogeneous community, but frankly no more so than any other community of Identity. Whenever I speak of the Bisexual Community, or make a statement that “Bisexuals (X)”, there is always someone waiting in the wings to point out that I don’t speak for all bisexuals, that no one can because we’re all different. I acknowledge that, and when I speak in person I am always careful to point that out. So take that as a given. I don’t speak for all of Teh Bi any more than Dan Savage speaks for all of Teh Gay. But these are distinctions that are only made within the LGBTQ community. As far as the Overculture is concerned, we are all the same.

And in important ways, we are.

If you don’t fit neatly into one of the two crisp and prescriptively defined monosexual categories, Straight or Gay, you are invisible. To use the Queer Theory concept of the cultural matrix, monosexuality has two boxes and people are shoehorned into one or the other. If you don’t, and you are loud enough about insisting that you don’t, you are at best assigned to some mythical fence where your lack of belonging completely to either puts you outside of and beneath consideration. (That’s a Chestnut, we haven’t quite gotten into the swamp yet, but feel how the ground is starting to get squishy underfoot, how the daisies are being replaced by ladyslippers?)

Noami Ceder guest posts at Geek Feminism, “Trans*H4ck 1.0 – Trans* coders make (their own) history“:

We all introduced ourselves and spoke of our backgrounds, our goals for the hackathon, and, yes, our preferred pronouns. It was clearly the first time some of the cisgender folks had ever been asked that particular question.

By the end of the evening teams had formed and work continued on through the night and into the next day, when things paused at noon for a panel discussing being trans* in tech, featuring Enne Walker, Dana McCallum, Naomi Ceder (me), Jack Aponte, and Nadia Morris and moderated by Fresh! White. The discussion ranged from using open source projects and GitHub to build a professional portfolio to finding a champion at work to how to take care of yourself in the face of the inevitable stress.

Julie guests posts at Geek Feminism with, “I think I’m in an emotionally abusive relationship… with the tech community“:

This week, I think I finally figured out what it is. I noticed the symptoms – what some might refer to as “red flags.” I think we’re in an emotionally abusive relationship.

How did we get here? Why is it this bad? Why are we staying?

There’s always been the microaggressions. I didn’t always notice them, but eventually they accumulated enough that I was buried. I couldn’t ignore them any more. Recently, a new symptom finally hit the point where I couldn’t pretend it isn’t there. Gaslighting (or at least something very akin to it).

Gaslighting is a symptom of emotional abuse, so it was a disturbing discovery. Out of curiosity, I looked up other symptoms of emotional abuse. An upsettingly long list of them were all too easy to identify with. Fuck.

Fiona Stanley at writes at The Conversation,  “Let’s treat the social causes of illness rather than just disease“:

But as a young doctor working in child health, particularly with Aboriginal children, it became obvious to me that prevention of disease was by far the best way to practice medicine; it’s more humane and definitely more cost-effective.

In 1972, I left Australia to study epidemiology and public health in the United Kingdom and then the United States, where these disciplines were well advanced. I learnt of the limitations of modern medicine, that prevention was the key to health and that many diseases commenced in social adversity.

Minna Salami writes at The Guardian, “African women are blazing a feminist trail – why don’t we hear their voices?“:

In fact, women have made significant gains all around Africa: indeed, the most successful social movement in Africa in recent decades has been the women’s movement, particularly in policy and legislation. Malawi and Liberia have female heads of state, and earlier this month Senegal elected its first female prime minister, Aminata Touré. Also, the African Union chair is female for the first time in its history. Africa’s strong legacy of female leaders is a hugely positive statement about the continent’s direction.

So why does the western feminist movement hardly look at African feminism for clues? Why does it only pay such little attention to the realisation of a once utopian fantasy of female majority leadership in Rwanda – where, since 2008, women have held over half the parliamentary seats? Feminists everywhere have spent decades campaigning for equality in political leadership, yet its achievement in Rwanda has been met with a loud silence.

At Newswise, “It May Not “Get Better” For Bisexual Teens*trigger warning for discussion of suicide*:

Teens were divided into groups based on their self-reported identification as heterosexual, mostly heterosexual, gay, mostly gay or bisexual. The study found that depression symptoms, namely thoughts of suicide, decreased from 42 percent to 12.3 percent as teens in all groups transitioned into adulthood and suicide attempts decreased from 15.9 to 2.9 percent. But the “mostly gay” and bisexual teens did not report a significant decrease in some measures of suicidal thoughts or behaviors.

The study did not determine why suicidal thoughts persisted in some groups, but experts offer some suggestions.

“Some bisexuals may struggle with depression later on because they don’t feel accepted and supported in either lesbian and gay or straight communities,” said. “Bisexual identity does not fit into the gay/straight categories most people are comfortable with.”

He suggests that gay teens may find more support than bisexual teens from the LGBT community after coming out, which would encourage feelings of self-acceptance.

Rebecca Shaw writes at The Kings Tribune, “What do you see?“:

If you follow my Twitter account, my Tumblr, my Facebook, my Myspace, my LinkedIn, my email, if you Google me, ask anyone that knows anything about me, look at my cats and music collection, have read anything I’ve ever written, or can see my thoughts, you know that I’m a lesbian. I have been out and proud for many years now, and I’m not afraid to say it in real life or online. This article is about a different kind of coming out. It is about a subject that has easily caused me more shame and discrimination than my sexuality. Being a queer person has its challenges, but most people I encounter don’t have an automatically negative opinion about me based on it. Also, they usually don’t know about it until I tell them. This other issue undeniably causes an immediate adverse reaction to me, as soon as people see me, and it happens literally on a daily basis.

I, Rebecca Shaw am… a fat person. *crowd gasps, delicate lady faints*

I don’t have to come out as fat on a day-to-day basis, because you can tell by pointing your beautiful eyeballs in my direction. However, if you are one of the people that so far mostly know (and no doubt ADORE) me from the Internet, you may not have realised. I’ve mentioned it in various places, but it’s not something I have broadcast by taking out a full (figure)-page newspaper ad or informing the population of Australia via carrier (delicious roasted) pigeon.

Katie J. M. Baker writes at Dissent, “Cockblocked by Redistribution: A Pick-up Artist in Denmark*trigger warning for rape and PUA*:

Fans of the travel writer will be disappointed that “pussy literally goes into hibernation” in this “mostly pacifist nanny state,” where the social programs rank among the best in the world. Roosh’s initial admiration for those resources is almost charming, if you’re able to momentarily forget that this is a man who considers devirginizing teenagers a sport.

“A Danish person has no idea what it feels like to not have medical care or free access to university education,” an awed Roosh reports. “They have no fear of becoming homeless or permanently jobless. The government’s soothing hand will catch everyone as they fall. To an American like myself, brainwashed to believe that you need to earn things like basic health care or education by working your ass off, it was quite a shock.”

Shadowspar writes, “The Epistemological Twilight Zone*trigger warning – rape*

It’s interesting1 how the second a woman starts talking about being raped, or assaulted, or harassed, she gets put into a kind of Epistemological Twilight Zone, innit?

Here’s what I mean.

When someone tells you about something they’ve seen or done, we usually extend them a measure of credit and take what they have said at face value. We grant that their statements about their own firsthand experience are good-faith expressions of the truth as they have observed it. This is called “not being an asshole”.

The alternative is to treat this person’s experiences as expressions of opinion; assertions; mere façades that may or may not objectively exist — and this being despite our likely lack of any concrete evidence that would put these statements into doubt.

Meg Barker at Rewriting the Rules writes, “DIVA article on non-binary gender“:

Later on it felt good to share stories about the confusion and discomfort we’d received from department store staff when shopping for clothes. The group I hung out with included transmasculine folk, butch women, and people who identified as non-binary.

This latter term is one which I increasingly relate to myself. So what is it like if neither of the accepted gender labels fit?

DIVA spoke to several non-binary people, as well as to professionals who work across the gender spectrum, to find out how it is to occupy a place outside the binary. The main message is that, like bisexual or gay people, non-binary people are ordinary folk who should be treated with the same respect as anybody, rather than as some kind of special case.

 

Related Posts:

Welcome to the 65th Down Under Feminist Carnival!

Hello and welcome to the September 2013 edition of the Down Under Feminist Carnival.  Big thanks go to Chally for organising the DUFC (you can nominate to host it yourself here), and to Mary, Scarlett, Claire,  Jo, Chally and Kathryn for submitting posts.  This collection covers posts by Australian and New Zealander feminists written in the month of September.

Politics

Well Australia had the election we had to have in September, which means that with a new Government and a new Prime Minister, many posts were written.

No Place for Sheep wrote, “Why I can’t call Abbott a cunt“:

The cunt, pink, plump, shiny with the juices of desire, is a thing of exquisite beauty, hidden from view, shown only to the chosen one, repository of what is most astonishing in human sexuality. When I think of the cunt, the last association I make with it is, yes, you’ve guessed right, Tony Abbott.

No Place for Sheep also wrote, “Why I don’t care that there’s only one woman in cabinet.“:

It is, of course, shameful that in 2013 a first world country should be led by a man with such biologically determinist attitudes. I don’t believe for a minute there aren’t women in the LNP as worthy and capable as many of the men Abbott has chosen. However, I have no  sympathy and no respect for any of them, if they are content to stand silently by while their leader treats them with such contempt, simply because they have vaginas.

Orlando at Hoyden About Town writes, “Quick Link: Public Education On Principle“:

If anything Benedikt, probably knowing how furiously some parents of cherished, privately schooled offspring will condemn her anyway, overstates the drawbacks of her stance: “But it seems to me that if every single parent sent every single child to public school, public schools would improve. This would not happen immediately. It could take generations. Your children and grandchildren might get mediocre educations in the meantime, but it will be worth it, for the eventual common good.” I think if there were a concerted effort on the part of parents who have options to opt in to public school, the change would actually be pretty rapid, for all the reasons Benedikt goes on to detail.

The Koori Woman writes, “On what’s on my mind this week“:

It is no secret I am not a fan of Abbott. I find his ultra conservative views both revolting and incredibly dangerous for both Aboriginal people and all Australian women. His ‘daggy dad’ moments are sexism painted as chuckle worthy little mistakes instead of what they really are, alarm bells at a thousand decibels.

It is also no secret I am not a fan of Noel Pearsons empowered communities initiative which Abbott has flagged as the governance model he will use in various communities across Australia. At time of writing, the initiative has been slammed by leading Aboriginal activists ranging from Marianne Mackay to Wayne Wharton. Cape York is the ‘testing’ ground of the welfare reforms outlined in the initiative, so it’s incredibly telling that no less than eight mayors of the Cape York region itself have been scathing in their opposition to Pearsons vision.

The Koori Woman also wrote this month, “On the feminist politics of Abbotts front bench“:

Now the kerfuffle raised by feminists regarding Tony Abbot naming his front bench that includes only one woman has died down, let’s talk about the other glaringly obvious omission from Abbotts front bench that has received virtually no media space. Abbotts front bench is all white.

I’m not surprised media haven’t written on this. Because most mainstream media is white. They don’t notice their own default. Can I blame them? Yes. Yes I can.

Rachel at Musings of an Inappropriate Woman wrote, ““The people make the ultimate decision / The system says they always get it right…”“:

Maybe this stuff shouldn’t matter. Government is about governing, after all, and they mostly did fine on the policy side of things, if you come from a centre-left perspective. But politics is also about emotion, and the to-ing and fro-ing, the tantrums and willingness to throw each other under the bus, left them seeming ultimately untrustworthy. And all that means is that it is too simple to cast Labor as the good guys, and the Liberals as evil. There may not be good reasons to vote the Coalition in today, but there are good reasons to vote Labor out.

Marieke Hardy wrote, “I didn’t vote for this.“:

You’re right, Helen. It is shocking. I mean, who would have imagined that the man who said ‘I think it would be folly to expect that women will ever dominate or even approach equal representation in a large number of areas simply because their aptitudes, abilities and interests are different for physiological reasons’ would ever DREAM of putting together a cabinet of little pink sausages, proudly jostling for attention? Why, are we talking about the same devoted husband who leered at a team of teenage netballers during the campaign ‘A bit of body contact never hurt anyone’? That funny old ‘daggy dad’ who brought the house down by quipping ‘We have a bizarre double standard; a bizarre double standard in this country where some-one who kills a pregnant woman’s baby is guilty of murder, but a woman who aborts an unborn baby is simply exercising choice’?

IT SIMPLY DEFIES COMPREHENSION, DOESN’T IT HELEN?

Liz Barr at No Award wrote, “Follow ups, election day, WorldCon, links“:

I, for one, was quite troubled by the Liberals’ strategy of silencing their candidates of colour so as to avoid gaffes and difficult questions.  This was the case in my own electorate, where candidate Shilpa Hegde did not participate in any public forums or interviews with citizen journalists.  Nor was she seen out campaigning.

As a Commie leftie pinko, I should be glad to see the Liberals mis-step, even if they still win the election, but I think this is a pretty shitty approach.  It’s not enough to have people of colour as your candidates, you have to let them be candidates. Allegedly, or so I read in the mainstream press (probably a Fairfax paper, but I couldn’t tell you when or which one because I’ve been site-hopping to avoid their paywall), the strategy was conceived after Jaymes Diaz famously stuffed up an interview.  If they’re so worried about candidates looking stupid, though, they would have put a lid on Fiona Scott before she could tell the world that refugees cause traffic jams.  Funny how it’s only the non-white candidates who were told to shut up.

Queen of Thorns at Ideologically Impure writes, “Why the religious right should not have any credibility in discussions of morality“:

I am categorically saying we shouldn’t give a fuck what religious extremists have to say about society.  Their entire movement, and its assumption that a “return” to Good Wholesome Judeo-Christian Values will save our society, is in no position to pass judgement on anyone.

Relationships

Blue Milk wrote, “On being here“:

A friend tells me that she lies in bed awake at night frightened for my future. I know she means it kindly but I am hurt by her sense of hopelessness for me. I am alright, I say, I really am. I decide I shouldn’t tell her about the nights when the children are staying with their father and I sometimes sigh with pleasure in my empty house. And then there are the nights when I do not even stay home in my empty house.

Spilt Milk writes, “Love story“:

Most of my writing on this most precious of loves, this fervent and brilliant and life-changing love, has been private. To her I write all of my secret words. Whisper sweet everythings. Compose bare poetic couplets. And of course this is how it is, ought to be, with lovers.

There is still the desire to make open proclamations, though. And there is perhaps an imperative to share.

Chrys Stevenson at Gladly the Cross-Eyed Bear writes, “No point in being blunt“, the story of her grandfather and family, their lack of belief in a deity, and the good lives they lived:

My grandfather was an atheist. When he married my grandmother, he didn’t just take on his new bride – he also housed her widowed mother, her sister and her daughter and the baby left motherless when another sister died in childbirth. And did he moan and bitch about having all these family strays in his home? No! He accepted it with astounding generosity and an abundance of good humour.

Feminism

Blue Milk wrote, “Women have to be strategic about gender, the PM was no different“.

Ariane at Ariane’s Little World writes, “Living as the default“:

As a white middle class straight man, the standard discourse is about you. However, since you are the default, it doesn’t mention you explicitly. Most of the voices you hear, day in day out, represent you. But since you hear them day in day out, you don’t hear them at all any more. This is also true for white middle class women like me, on issues other than women’s issues (and even then – women’s issues are framed largely from my perspective).

As the default, you are defined by what you’re not. You don’t belong to any interesting culture (because you are surrounded by your culture – it’s forced down everyone’s throats, but you just don’t see it). You’re not gay (or bi, or trans*, or queer). You’re not disabled. You’re not a woman. All those people get a mention all the time. “Indigenous councils”, “gay minister”, “female politician”, “disability advocates”. Unless you are taught to see it, it never occurs to you that “marriage” means “straight marriage”, that “politician” means “male politician”, that “social values” means “white social values”, that “employee” means “able bodied employee”. Because you are the default. When no descriptor is added, we assume white, male, straight, cis, able bodied (and probably some other things too).

A guest posts at The Hand Mirror, “Guestie: Another Fine Myth” (I’m not sure who wrote it, if you do, please let me know in the comments and I’ll attribute correctly)

Orlando at Hoyden About Town posts, “Thursday Hoyden and Talk Like a Pirate Day Special: Ching Shih“:

After her husband, who ran a flourishing pirate crew already, died in 1807, Ching Shih took over the enterprise and made her pirate band into a force that the Chinese, British and Dutch navies could not curtail. By offering defeated crews the choice between suffering a gruesome death, or changing sides and joining her, she forged a fleet of around 1,500 ships, all under her ultimate command. By 1810 her notorious ‘Red Flag Fleet’ had amassed such a fortune, and had so severely pummelled all the soldiers and sailors, generals and peasant armies, sent by various authorities to try to shut her down, that she cheerfully accepted the amnesty for herself and her crew offered by the Chinese government. She divvied up the spoils and retired to the country where she lived to a ripe old age.

tigtog at Hoyden About Town posts, “Friday Hoydens: Lakota and Dakota Grandmothers vs Neo-Nazis“:

These women from the Standing Rock Indian Nation in North Dakota are only holding this Nazi flag up to the camera because they’re about to burn it, having captured it from public display on the property of a white supremacist in the nearby very small town of Leith, ND.

Orlando at Hoyden About Town also posted, “Friday Hoyden: Rosie Hackett“:

This month, Dublin City Council voted to name the new bridge over the river Liffey “Rosie Hackett Bridge”.

This was in response to a huge campaign from Dubliners, mostly women, who felt Rosie was due a decent and long-lasting public memorial. All of the 16 previously existing bridges in the city are named after men.

Amy Gray at Pesky Feminist wrote, “Do women without children face discrimination in the office?“:

It is illogical to argue one group of women suffer at the benefit of another. Women with children face real discrimination in the office – pregnancy discrimination, career discrimination. There are statistics and studies to show this. The Sexual Discrimination Commission is currently running an inquiry on the matter. Women without children face equal discrimination in a workforce disposed to trying to predict a woman’s fertility as though it were a ticking time bomb and blocking any chance at flexibility to develop themselves as she may choose.

It is in this fallacy that we miss the point: we’re not discriminated against because we do or don’t have children, we’re discriminated against because we’re women and have the temerity to seek flexibility from a system that is already opposed to our presence.

Kate Galloway at Curl wrote, “A sense of entitlement? The (gender) subtext of ‘lifters not leaners‘”:

Work – by which politicians and commentators mean paid work – may well be an important aspect of our social identity, but the argument of feminists is that paid work does not occur without unpaid work. Unpaid work is largely carried out by women. To characterise those who engage in unpaid work as ‘leaners’ misses the point of the structural disadvantage of women and fails to seek to remedy this.

These structural questions will not be helped by marginalising those who receive welfare support. Instead, the basis of distributive justice in our system needs recalibration. For example childcare tends to be positioned as a domestic issue rather than an economic need. This will keep primary carers of young children marginalised in the context of paid work. Reframing this issue would provide structural solutions that addressed the real needs of society and its paid workers.

Scarlett Harris at The Early Bird Catches the Worm writes, “Music: “Work, Bitch” as Feminist Anthem*.

Claire Shove at Sextracurricular Studies writes, “Why Gender-Specific Relationship Advice is almost always Terrible“:

As times have changed, so have the dominant attitudes in our relationship conduct literature, but some notable trends have persisted. The offering of relationship advice to a select audience based on gender is perhaps the most obvious, and as I see it, the most problematic of these. In the first place, this places all of the responsibility for romantic conduct and communication on one partner instead of acknowledging it as a mutual concern. Again, The Rules gives excellent examples of this behavior: included among the 35 rules are stipulations against initiating conversation with a man, answering his phone calls, meeting him more than once a week and ‘rushing into’ sex, i.e., anything which would suggest mutual attraction[3]. This anti-feminist manifesto places all of the responsibility for initiating and maintaining a connection onto the man, under the false assumption that returning the affections of a suitor will make a woman seem easier to ‘get’ and therefore less valuable.

Stephanie at No Award wrote, “book pusher (not a white cis dude edition)“:

What are the books that you always recommend to people, that you always want people to love, that you shove at people and wave your hands about and reread constantly? Only rule: the author cannot be a cis white dude. Trans white dude, fine. Cis asian dude, fine. Ladies, all fine. Author doesn’t conform to your gender binary? All good.

Our bodies

Celeste Liddle at Rantings of an Aboriginal Feminist wrote, “On being a feminist with period pain“:

So if it is so damn normal and average and stuff, why is it so hard to talk about? Why is it that this hardcore black feminist, when confronted with pain and depleted energy as a result, finds it so difficult to say “I think my uterus is actually twisting itself into an infinity symbol in four different directions and I simply need to rest”? I mean it is that normal for me that, generally speaking, most months I will need a day away from society or work to rest, and it has always been that way. I hate to say it, but in the quest to be the all-conquering feminist ready to take on the world, I think I unfortunately sometimes see my own body’s needs as a sign of weakness and a thing to be overcome. And that, quite frankly, is ridiculous.

Kathryn Daly at A Little Bit of Life wrote, “The body and our worth“:

So the tipping point for me has been that I am really fucking sick of people commenting on my body. Not just the obscene bullshit that men offer when a woman is walking in public spaces (which, I might add, has a whole post of its own when I stop wanting to stab someone each time I try to think about the issue), but also the uninvited commentary from every other source.

It’s the people who tell me I am looking too thin. My best friend is about ready to attack the next person who says this to me: ‘All the shit you have going on in your life and people who are meant to be your friends manage to find something bad to say to you? Tell them to, “Get fucked”’.

Race and racism

Celeste Liddle at Rantings of an Aboriginal Feminist wrote, “Andrew Bolt: The “new racism” is so last season!“:

Apart from his extraordinarily lazy focus on the left in his analysis, I have but one thing to say: Congratulations Bolta, you’ve discovered “structural racism”! Have a biscuit, lad. Some of us have been talking about this for a while, and the thing is, it’s not exactly “new”. Nope, the discussions have been going on for a long time now, but we’re glad you’ve joined us! The left and the right may talk about structural racism and its manifestations in different ways as you have “amply” shown us, but it doesn’t mean that we are not talking about the same thing. Yes, the idea that a person may end up being oppressed and have their agency diminished by structural and social forces, even if there is some argument over what those forces might be, is nothing new at all.

stargazer writes at The Hand Mirror, “can’t win” about the recent winner of the Miss America Pagent:

yes, the last one really grates with me, because i’m always struggling against the “foreigner” label myself.  the many little & big ways that certain people need to make sure i understand that i don’t belong here, don’t deserve to have the same things as everyone else, should be grateful just to be allowed to exist in this space and place.  yes, it grates.

and i know that this group of people don’t represent a whole country, they don’t even represent a majority.  but they are the vocal minority that can make for a hostile environment.  they cause fear, they have an impact that is far greater than their number.  this ugly end of racism is the tip of the iceberg, the bits we can see clearly but there is so much more that is insidious and not always so plainly obvious, therefore much harder to fight.

Hannah Paige wrote a great poem, “poem – I want you to promise

Stephanie at No Award wrote, “indigenous literacy day and getting caught reading“:

Today is Indigenous Literacy Day! This is great because it means we are talking about Indigenous Literacy! This is bad because Australia, it means we still need to talk about Indigenous Literacy.

There is a huge gap in English literacy rates between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in Australia. A disgustingly enormous, we should feel ashamed of ourselves gap. By year 3, the gap in reading, writing and numeracy is already significant, and by the age of 15, “more than one-third of Australia’s Indigenous students ‘do not have the adequate skills and knowledge in reading literacy to meet real-life challenges and may well be disadvantaged in their lives beyond school’.” MORE THAN ONE THIRD. That is so uncool I cannot even. But Indigenous Australians should just pull themselves up by their bootstraps and Australia is totally not racist, amirite?

LGBTIQ issues, stories and experiences

Spilt Milk writes, “Please, won’t somebody think of the children?“:

I haven’t told her that I couldn’t legally marry my partner. Shattering her fragile ignorance of the extent of the bigotry her family faces would break my heart. Soon enough someone will tell her that Mama and Ima can’t be married like most of the other parents and step-parents she knows. Like all kids, she has an easily mobilised outrage switch: I expect she’ll rail against the injustice. But she’ll also have the sensation that I feel every time my relationship is devalued or erased or vilified. The sensation of a thousand tiny voices whispering ‘you are less than us.’

Reproductive Justice

AlisonM at The Hand Mirror writes a dual post (two for the price of one) called, “Ready, Set, Go: The Prochoice Highway“:

The move toward reproductive justice and away from “choice” is a hotly debated one, and you’ll notice that with its title, the Highway has a bit of a dollar each way. But the more I read about reproductive justice, which has been spearheaded by women of colour, the more I like the way it allows the discussion to be made a lot broader. (A friend pointed me toward a great publication by the US group Asian Communities for Reproductive Justice on this issue. Pdf warning: This link is to a pdf. And another good resource is Sister Song: Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective) Just last weekend, for example, I met up with a group of people wanting to do some work around what I’ll loosely call the policing and criminalisation of pregnancy, of pregnant bodies, of pregnant women. When you start looking at what’s going on it turns out it’s going on everywhere: in the public square, in medicine, in the judiciary, in state agencies, in legislation aimed at preventing child abuse, the list is long and a bit depressing. (I wrote a bit about the issue a while ago in Werewolf and here about a related “careless driving” case.)

Mary at Hoyden About Town wrote, “Fetal personhood (“Zoe’s Law”) before NSW Parliament“:

The stated intent of the bill is to allow separate prosecution of injury to a fetus, following the death of Zoe Donegan (stillborn at 32 weeks gestation) in 2009 after Zoe’s mother Brodie was hit by a van driven by Justine Hampson. Hampson was convicted of grevious bodily harm with regards to Brodie, but not with injuring Zoe or causing Zoe’s death.

However, the bill has been introduced by an anti-abortion politician, and there are grave concerns about its potential interpretation, particularly “an unborn child is taken to be a living person”

Queen of Thorns at Ideologically Impure wrote, “The “hard questions” of the antichoice movement“:

The real point is this:  Pro Life New Zealand want to use over-simplified, judgemental arguments to shame pregnant people into not having abortions.  Note the question about sexual assault, and “isn’t abortion the best solution” – as though prochoice activists are out there insisting that every pregnancy resulting from assault be aborted.  Note the first question is about disability – as though these religious extremists give a fuck about challenging society’s ableism once you’re out of the womb.

Lee Rhiannon writes at New Matilda, “Abortion Is No Sleeper Issue“:

The problem was not that the then PM spoke publicly on abortion. The problem was that there was not a strong public voice backing her in what was a historic and necessary speech. Necessary because the push is on from some quarters in Australia to wind back the clock on women’s rights to the full range of sexual and reproductive health procedures. Abortion is still covered by the Crimes Act in some parts of Australia.

Jacki Brown at fuckability: disability, sex & our revolution! writes, “Disability feminism & the selective abortion of disabled foetuses“:

Disability eugenics is an issue at the intersection of feminist discourses- the right to body autonomy-and disability discourses regarding the value of a non-normative body/mind and living as an act of resistance to a social discourse which says ‘’better off dead then disabled’’. The choice to abort is framed as a medical one when it also has social, political and ethical implications. As a disability feminist my resistance to selective abortion procedures steams from its value judgment on our lives, it positions us a flawed and wrong and it seeks to disempower us further by framing us an unwanted burden, as inhabiting a life not worth living.

I wrote a post called, “Let’s talk about abortion – again“:

The most telling part of the Pope’s comments on abortion is that the people who are pregnant aren’t even mentioned.  There is lots of talk about babies and children (despite the fact that it’s not until they are born that they are babies or children), and those babies or children having Jesus’s face (which is just a bit creepy), but nothing about the people whose lives may be in danger or whose ability to manage a pregnancy and the next 18 years of raising a child is being questioned by them.  It’s telling, it says “The Catholic Church cares more about babies than it does about the people whose body they incubate in, who will then spend the next 18 years or so raising, feeding, and attempting to afford them”.

Sex Work and sex workers

Gaayathri writes at A Human Story, “Brothel Visitors Outed Online By Council Candidate… | Stuff.co.nz“:

As I can see it, Hawker seems to think he can increase his standing in the community by shaming sex workers and the men (or women) that use their services. He seems to be enraged by the fact that the people he sees patronising this place of business appear to be wealthy business men. He seems to think he has some sort of moral higher ground. I don’t buy it.  Hawker does not care about the impact his actions may have on the sex workers who count on their clientele to earn their living. I guess in his mind he is doing them a favour.

Disability

Jackie Brown at fuckability: disability, sex & our revolution! writes, ““Are you a paraplegic?”“:

Perhaps they feel asking ‘the poor little cripple what happened’ is their good deed for the day; as one woman informed me ‘‘you need to talk about it, you need to tell me what happened, it’s good for you’’. She assumed that I possessed some tragic story, and that it must be at all times on the tip of my tongue when in fact if I had had some kind of accident/trauma it would be something I would get support to process with trained health professionals, not curious strangers on the street. No, this was not the 1st time I have been expected to divulge my disability in the street to a passing stranger but it was the 1st time I was abused for refusing to do so and called “cuckoo”’ and “crazy’’ for saying I am happy the way I am.

Xanthe Coward writes at Meanjin, “All The Women Are Tired Here“:

There’s a raging debate amongst those who suffer from the condition, their doctors and academics, over the name Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS). Personally, I don’t care what they call it; I’m just relieved to have been diagnosed. I was so tired all the time. And there it is. The problem people have with the name of the illness is that it indicates a constant state of exhaustion. My experience with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is exactly that—a constant state of exhaustion—but I also suffered from a host of other symptoms, for which there didn’t seem to be an explanation. No one knew what was wrong with me, least of all me. Family members and friends assumed I was depressed and worn out from a move inland.

Violence *Trigger warning for posts in this section*

Coley at Tangerina writes, “Help get sexual violence services properly funded. Finally. Please.“:

No matter how vital an organisation is, if the climate in which it operates doesn’t value or support the work it does – it will die. Our Government has created a hostile environment for many community not-for-profit agencies. We live under an administration that feels competition is a good thing, not just in the private sector, but in community service provision.

While excellence in service should always be strived for, the way to achieve this is not to pit tiny, often volunteer-run organisations against each other for laughable sums of money. Money that they have to annually re-apply for at great expense of their already stretched resources. Money that makes organisations scared to speak out against Government initiatives for fear of being reprimanded through the loss of their funding.

Claire Shove at Sextracurricular Studies writes, “How Popular Music Contributes to Sexist and Rape Tolerant Attitudes“:

If they were in fact going for irony, this seems a very roundabout way of doing it. Rather than assuming the audience would see power in the way the women looked directly at the camera, couldn’t Martel have instructed them to raise their eyebrows or roll their eyes? If they were supposed to be empowered, why not make that more obvious? Fuck it, why not have the women fully dressed, in a club, with the same suited men hitting on them and striking out?

The most likely answer, in my opinion, isn’t that Martel and Thicke thought their super subtle irony would be safely understood by the general audience. It’s that they didn’t think about it much at all. Ultimately, even if all the participants in the creative process had the same tongue-in-cheek intentions for it, which it doesn’t seem like they did, it fails as satire because the majority of the viewers didn’t get the so-called joke. You don’t make a comment about degrading women by continuing to degrade women.

 

The Sixty-Sixth Edition of the Down Under Feminist Carnival is planned for 5 November, 2013 and will be hosted by Steph and Liz at No Award.  Submissions to yiduiqie [at] gmail [dot] com for those who can’t access the blogcarnival submissions form.

Related Posts:

The post European summer and beginning of spring linkspam (September 2013)

I’m back in the country and have been looking at the interesting stories I’ve collected for linkspam while I was away and since I’ve been back.  There is surprisingly a lot more than I expected, clearly the downtime during my holiday was spent reading great material.

Ruby Hamad wrote at Daily Life, “Charged for screaming at childbirth“:

Zimbabwe, with a GDP of $US500 per person and an average yearly income of $US150, is one of the world’s poorest countries. Not coincidentally, it is also one of the most corrupt. In a worldwide report on corruption by Transparency International (TI) 62 percent of Zimbabwean respondents said they had paid a bribe in the past year.

Also not coincidentally, women bear more than their fair share of this poverty and corruption, one of the most shocking of which was a local hospital that was found to be charging women $5 for every scream they emitted during childbirth.

The fee, ostensibly for “raising false alarm” was in reality, as The Washington Post put it, “clearly aimed at separating women from their money.”

It doesn’t end there. This fee, essentially robbing women of their right to holler their heads off in the throes of unimaginable pain, is in addition to Zimbabwe’s mandatory $50 delivery fee.

Ben Richmond at Motherboard Beta wrote, “Inside the CIA’s Role in Pakistan’s Polio Outbreak“:

Pakistan is the only country in Asia with confirmed Wild Polio Virus type 3, and along with neighboring Afghanistan and Nigeria is one of three countries where polio is still endemic. The country has been working to eradicate polio since 1988, and making progress. Then, in 2012, the efforts hit a major roadblock.

A local warlord banned vaccinations after Pakistani doctor Shakil Afridi was linked to the CIA operation to find Osama bin Laden. Under the guise of giving out a Hepatitis B vaccination, the doctor collected DNA samples from children, looking for bin Laden’s family members.

A link was established between the CIA and vaccinations and starting on June 16, 2012, tribal leaders banned the vaccination campaign. The Taliban commander Hafiz Gul Bahadur said vaccinations would be banned until the CIA stopped its drone campaign in North Waziristan, according to UPI.

EEB Guest posts at Almost Diamonds, “I Am a False Rape Allegation Statistic*trigger warning for rape, violence, harassment*

So understand: I am a “false rape allegation” statistic. When they wrote their reports, sent the numbers off to the justice department to compile the information, I am down as a liar, a false allegation, even though no charges were ever filed against me. (Don’t know if that’s because they didn’t think they could make a case against me, or because they didn’t want to put a cop’s daughter on trial.) And you know what? I am not the only person. It is horrifying, the number of women that I have met in support groups and activist meetups who experienced very similar things. They too, are false allegation statistics. We were all raped.

forgedimagination at Defeating the Dragons wrote, “modesty rules and transphobia*trigger warning transphobia*:

Most of that revolved around wearing skirts and culottes. We weren’t allowed to wear anything that even approached something that looked like pants. At one point, I heard a pastor preach against wearing skirts with a jeans-type zipper and button fastener in the front. Because those look like mens’ pants, and that’s not feminine. I also heard messages preached against business suits, blazers, and button-up shirts. If we were going to wear button-up shirts, they could not be made out of cotton, could not be Oxford style, and we had to make sure that they buttoned “correctly.”

Tied up in all of this was horrible, rampant transphobia– in the extreme. Cross-dressing? Abomination. Drag? Straight for the pits of hell. Long hair on a man? A horrible shame and a curse upon him. I can’t tell you how many stories I heard growing up where some preacher was in line somewhere, standing behind a man with long hair, and being “horrified and appalled” when they realized that who they had assumed to be a woman was actually a man. The first time I ever heard about the sorts of procedures and treatments trans* people need, like hormone replacement therapy (part of the standard course of treatment for gender dysphoria), I was in a revival service, and the evangelist was railing against “those disgusting hermaphrodites.”

JOS posted at Feministing, “The shameful, unacceptable media coverage of Chelsea Manning’s transition” *trigger warning for transphobia*:

I do understand the impetus to mention Manning’s old name at least once so the audience knows what’s being reported on. Personally, I think it’s unnecessary – “Pfc. Manning” should be enough to clue in your audience. Of course, I’m more comfortable with just using Manning or Pfc. Manning because that’s how I’ve been referring to her since 2011. Part of what has annoyed me about the news coverage over the past day is that this is not new information. Chelsea came out publicly, telling us her name and how we should refer to her, which should be more than enough to correct reporters. But she had already been outed through the process of the trial. She’d already said privately she was female, information that then became public. Yet even her supporters continued to default to her given name and masculine pronouns. When I see or hear someone communicate that their gender is different from the one assigned to them at birth, I listen, and I respect that. Most people in this world default to the gender that is coercively assigned to someone at birth. I happen to believe that people know their own genders way better than any outside “expert,” be they a doctor, lawyer, judge, or journalist. And I know how hard it is to go against the gender assigned to you in this transphobic context. It can be particularly hard for women assigned male at birth – the costs of living your actual gender are higher, because patriarchy. When I first read Manning’s words about her gender identity during the process of the trial, I believed her. And I stopped defaulting to her assigned name and masculine pronouns, because I always put self-identification over an identity that’s been coercively assigned to someone. So I didn’t take the announcement yesterday as groundbreaking news – I saw it as Chelsea making clear and public the name and pronouns she wants to use. Which is part of why I’m so disgusted – this announcement is being treated as major news instead of a clarification of how to report on Chelsea.

Dances with fat posted, “To the Guys Who Threw Eggs at Me Tonight*trigger warning for fatphobia*:

To recap – two adult males threw the eggs and carton at me for daring to exist outside my house in a fat body.  Of course they are utter cowards who sped away immediately, leaving me with so many questions:

  • First of all, how did you come to have 2 eggs and an egg carton in your car? Did you throw the first ten at other fatties, or are you now dealing with 10 eggs and no carton in your car?
  • Were these fatty-specific eggs that you had planned to throw, or are you guys eating cereal for breakfast until somebody can get to the store?
  • How do you miss a 300 pound woman who is three feet away from you? I mean, I’m happy that I didn’t have to walk 5 miles covered in egg, but let’s work on that follow through son, you never know when a softball game might break out.
  • Finally, what the hell kind of person throws eggs at strangers from their car?

It also set up a second interaction around mile seven wherein someone yelled “YO FAT BITCH!” and I yelled back “DO YOU HAVE EGGS?”  The looks on their faces were priceless as they asked “What?”  and I said “The last people who harassed me today threw eggs, if you don’t have eggs then you’re behind the fat bashing curve tonight.”  The guy who had yelled in the first place ducked his head and said “Wow, that’s crazy.  I’m sorry ma’am.”

Leena Van Deventer writes at her new blog by the same name, “The keepers of the gates.“:

I was enjoying a nice cup of tea while reading a blog post about writing (procrastinating about the writing I was supposed to be doing). And then I LOL’d, but then I serious’d.

I sniffed the air, it smelled familiar. Sour.

Gatekeeping bullshit.

It contained a quiz you could take to find out whether you were a real gamer professional writer or not. If you didn’t answer the “do you spend every spare moment writing” questions entirely connecting “sacrifice for your art” with “being professional” (ew) then you were relegated to the pitied-upon class of “hobbyist”. I know right? Apparently that’s a word used by people who aren’t accountants. Who knew! It was said that if you had a clean (nice) house, went out with friends, watched television, dared engage in small talk instead of big talk, or liked hearing nice things about your work, that you were not a professional writer. Now, many others have pointedouthow fucked up this is, so I won’t go into picking at each point and its dumbassery, they’ve covered it supremely well. But what struck me was how it was note for note the same bullshit that tries to keep people out of collectives everywhere.

Sarah Kendzior writes at Al Jazeera, “Mothers are not ‘opting out’ – they are out of options“:

On August 7, the New York Times ran an article called “The Opt Out Generation Wants Back In” – a follow-up to a 2003 story about highly accomplished, well-educated American women who left the workforce to stay at home with their children. Ten years later, the mothers are seeking work that befits their abilities but most are unable to find it, causing them to question their original decision.

The New York Times piece frames the mothers’ misgivings as a result of questionable planning and poor marriage partners, paying mere lip service to the tremendous change in the economy over the past ten years. Whether to work or stay at home is presented as an option that has to do with personal fulfillment and childrearing preferences, divorced from fiscal limitations.

But for nearly all women, from upper middle-class to poor, the “choice” of whether to work is not a choice, but an economic bargain struck out of fear and necessity. Since 2008, the costs of childbirth, childcare, health care, and education have soared, while wages have stagnated and full-time jobs have been supplanted by part-time, benefit-free contingency labour.

The media present a woman’s fear of losing her career as the fear of losing herself. But the greatest fear of most mothers is not being able to provide for their children. Mothers with high-paying jobs go back to work to earn money for their kids. Married mothers with low-paying jobs quit to save money for their kids. Single mothers struggle to find work that pays enough to support their kids. Self-fulfillment is a low priority in an economy fuelled by worker insecurity.

The assumed divide between mothers who work inside and outside the home is presented as a war of priorities. But in an economy of high debt and sinking wages, nearly all mothers live on the edge. Choices made out of fear are not really choices. The illusion of choice is a way to blame mothers for an economic system rigged against them. There are no “mommy wars“, only money wars – and almost everyone is losing.

NK Jemisin posted the other blog post she would have posted had Theodore Beale not been expelled from SFWA’s membership, “The Ten Percent“.

Katy Waldman at Slate writes, “Haters Are Gonna Hate, Study Confirms“:

After marking the dependably hateful haters with a scarlet H, the researchers presented participants with information about a new product: the “Monahan LPI-800 Compact 2/3-Cubic-Foot 700-Watt Microwave Oven.” This elaborately titled microwave oven does not exist (except in Jack Donaghy’s mind), but participants didn’t know this and were given three glowing fake reviews and three dissatisfied fake reviews. While people who more or less liked taxidermy and crossword puzzles also liked the oven, the haters drenched their fake consumer surveys in haterade. They were also more likely to hate on recycling and vaccine shots. (To be fair, it’s hard to be a ray of sunshine when you’ve got the measles.)

Nafeez Ahmed at The Guardian writes, “Pentagon bracing for public dissent over climate and energy shocks“:

It is therefore not surprising that the increasing privatisation of intelligence has coincided with the proliferation of domestic surveillance operations against political activists, particularly those linked to environmental and social justice protest groups.

Department of Homeland Security documents released in April prove a “systematic effort” by the agency “to surveil and disrupt peaceful demonstrations” linked to Occupy Wall Street, according to the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund (PCJF).

Similarly, FBI documents confirmed “a strategic partnership between the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security and the private sector” designed to produce intelligence on behalf of “the corporate security community.” A PCJF spokesperson remarked that the documents show “federal agencies functioning as a de facto intelligence arm of Wall Street and Corporate America.”

In particular, domestic surveillance has systematically targeted peaceful environment activists including anti-fracking activists across the US, such as the Gas Drilling Awareness Coalition, Rising Tide North America, the People’s Oil & Gas Collaborative, and Greenpeace. Similar trends are at play in the UK, where the case of undercover policeman Mark Kennedy revealed the extent of the state’s involvement in monitoring the environmental direct action movement.

Celeste Liddle writes at The Guardian, “Broome bombing: where is the outrage?“:

What I do wish to know, however, is where is the media and Australian community outrage over this event? Where is the coast-to-coast coverage? If I was not hooked into social media, where a number of Indigenous community members were talking about it, I probably would have missed the story due to the lack of coverage. It is telling that the Chinese national press agency Xinhua covered it, yet most of the Australian sources failed to mention it. Last year, when I was told at work that the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union had been the target of a bomb threat, I was able to read about it in a variety of sources. That one turned out to be a hoax; this attack actually injured four people.

Had this been an attack on an Australian city, or on a group of non-Indigenous people, would it have been deemed an event of public importance? As Aboriginal feminist and activist The Koori Woman so eloquently writes: “(I’m) Idly wondering what would happen if I went and casually lobbed an explosive down the whitest street in the village”.

Rafi Alam, “Smashing the fash: fascism in Australia“:

We’re told to never forget, because there is a danger in allowing the past to repeat itself. Fascism wasn’t an anomaly of world history, but is rooted in something visceral within society. It has an economic and political vision that strives to protect the legitimate members of society from the ebbs and flows of global finance and immigration; it seeks to create hope in the less fortunate by blaming society’s ills on the least fortunate. It thrives on crisis and decline, and mobilises movements by encouraging the masses to rise up against decay and attain power for the rightful heirs of the state, usually white ‘natives’.

Magda Szubanski writes at The Hoopla, “Magda’s Catholic Family Values“:

The way Tony Abbott purports to represent family values. In particular, Catholic family values. I am so weary of this face of Catholicism – this mean-spirited, uncharitable, hard-man version.

But in a bigger sense I am so heartbroken by the way the millions of moderate, social justice-minded Catholics – the ones who do the real, actual work the Church is supposed to do… like caring for people, being compassionate, looking after the weak and the less fortunate – have been ignored, disenfranchised.

Pushed aside by the power elite.

There have always been two Catholic churches – those who try to practice the basic message of Jesus , “love thy neighbour as thyself” – and those who are there for other reasons. The “Career Catholics” as I like to call them.

1DeadlyNation writes, “Abbott, the Truth and Cost of his Indigenous Volunteering“:

In August of 2012 Tony Abbott did indeed go to Cape York, but it wasn’t for a week or two as Mr Pyne suggests. It was for 2 days! It was a working bee of sorts and some of Australia’s business leaders were taken along to volunteer as well. Photos of Abbott with tools in hand were taken and the myth of Abbott the saviour of the Black man had a wonderful photo op. No problem so far until you examine the  Expenditure on Entitlements paid by the Department of Finance and Deregulation to Mr Abbott for this trip of “Volunteering”. And what do we find on page 12? An amount of $9,636.36, tax payer dollars, to fund the hire of a private charter flight for the 2 days. I don’t know about you, but when I volunteer to hammer in a few nails for a day or two I don’t ask the people of Australia to cough up 10k. That isn’t volunteering, that is the most expensive labourer in the history of Australia. I wonder what the sandwiches cost….(http://www.finance.gov.au/publications/parliamentarians-reporting/docs/P31/ABBOTT_Tony.pdf page 12.)

Matt Siegel at the New York Times writes, “News Corp.’s Tight Grip on Australia’s Papers Shapes Its Politics“:

They have been front and center in the current national election pitting Mr. Rudd and the Labor Party against the Liberal Party led by Tony Abbott. The papers have run a string of scathing front-page editorials since Mr. Rudd called for elections last month. The decision to portray Mr. Rudd on the front page of The Daily Telegraph as Colonel Klink from the 1965-71 television comedy “Hogan’s Heroes,” sporting a Nazi uniform and a monocle, raised eyebrows and led Mr. Rudd to publicly call out Mr. Murdoch over the coverage.

Mr. Murdoch has made it clear, Mr. Rudd told reporters last month, “that he doesn’t really like us, and would like to give us the old heave-ho,” adding that “I’m sure he sees it with crystal-clear clarity all the way from the United States.”

Although several Murdoch papers endorsed Mr. Rudd during his first successful run for the leadership in 2007, they quickly soured on his positions toward big business, like a proposed tax on mining profits and an emissions trading plan. The company was seen as instrumental in the media campaign that saw him ousted in a 2010 party coup amid record low approval ratings. Mr. Rudd returned to government in June after upheaval in the Labor Party.

One of the Labor government’s plans calls for a National Broadband Network that would deliver high-speed Internet access to wide swathes of the country, a service that would broadly compete with News Corporation’s subscription TV service, Foxtel, which remains the company’s most profitable Australian venture.

Janet Mock writes, “How Society Shames Men Dating Trans Women & How This Affects Our Lives“:

Guess what? Many men are attracted to women, and trans women are amongst these women.

We, as a society, have not created a space for men to openly express their desire to be with trans women. Instead, we shame men who have this desire, from the boyfriends, cheaters and “chasers” to the “trade,” clients, and pornography admirers. We tell men to keep their attraction to trans women secret, to limit it to the internet, frame it as a passing fetish or transaction. In effect, we’re telling trans women that they are only deserving of secret interactions with men, further demeaning and stigmatizing trans women.

When a man can be shamed merely for interacting with a trans women – whether it be through a photograph, a sex tape or correspondences — what does this say about how society views trans women? More important, what does this do to trans women?

This pervasive ideology says that trans women are shameful, that trans women are not worthy of being seen and that trans women must remain a secret — invisible and disposable. If a man dares to be seen with a trans woman, he will likely lose social capital so he must adamantly deny, vehemently demean, trash and/or exterminate the woman in question. He must do this to maintain his standing in our patriarchal society. For a man to be associated with a trans women, in effect, is to say that he is no longer a “real” man (as if such a thing exists) because he sleeps with “fake” women (as if such a thing exists).

Aaron Day at Pink News writes, “Russia: Top lawyer comes out as bisexual and transgender against anti-gay ‘propaganda’ laws“:

Masha Bast, the chair of the Association of Russian Lawyers for Human Rights, has spoken out in mainstream Russian media to oppose the anti-gay law.

In an interview, she told the Moscow Times: “The law banning gay propaganda among minors is completely wrong.

“I remember being 10 and wanting to be a girl and putting on girl’s clothes. I didn’t understand what was happening to me.

“This was in the Soviet Union and there was no information to explain what was happening to me.

“So it isn’t a matter of upbringing. It’s nature. That’s why I think the law against “homosexual propaganda” is a law against children and one that targets certain social groups. It is a fascist law and nothing else.”

Ms Bast said she explained to her wife when they first started dating “I wasn’t the gender I appeared to be. I am female and have always wanted to be a girl.”

She said: “We talked about it for a long time, and it wasn’t an easy decision for her. I explained that I like men, but I am a bisexual woman.

Sophie Pilgrim at France 24, “Feminists want ‘great women’ buried in Pantheon“:

Around one hundred women and a dozen men gathered outside the Pantheon mausoleum in Paris on Monday to demonstrate in favour of interring more women in the prestigious sanctuary, which is home to the remains of the country’s most treasured national figures.

There are currently only two women to 71 men buried at the site: Marie Curie, whose scientific breakthroughs changed the face of modern medicine; and Sophie Berthelot, who was buried alongside her husband, the chemist and politician Marcellin Berthelot.

In March, French President François Hollande said he wanted to grant due recognition to female historical figures in French history and has hinted that more women should be buried at the Pantheon in order to “represent the principles of the country”.

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The late linkspam of August (overseas edition)

So I’m enjoying myself in a bit of summer (thought right now I’m a bit too hot), in Europe, and I completely forgot my linkspam duties.  So here is some linkspam, albeit a bit late.

Laurie Penny at The New Statesmen writes, “I was a Manic Pixie Dream Girl“:

Writing about Doctor Who this week got me thinking about sexism in storytelling, and how we rely on lazy character creation in life just as we do in fiction. The Doctor has become the ultimate soulful brooding hero in need of a Manic Pixie Dream Girl to save him from the vortex of self-pity usually brought on by the death, disappearance or alternate-universe-abandonment of the last girl. We cannot have the Doctor brooding. A planet might explode somewhere, or he might decide to use his powers for evil, or his bow-tie might need adjusting. The companions of the past three years, since the most recent series reboot, have been the ultimate in lazy sexist tropification, any attempt at actually creating interesting female characters replaced by… That Girl.

Men grow up expecting to be the hero of their own story. Women grow up expecting to be the supporting actress in somebody else’s. As a kid growing up with books and films and stories instead of friends, that was always the narrative injustice that upset me more than anything else. I felt it sometimes like a sharp pain under the ribcage, the kind of chest pain that lasts for minutes and hours and might be nothing at all or might mean you’re slowly dying of something mundane and awful. It’s a feeling that hit when I understood how few girls got to go on adventures. I started reading science fiction and fantasy long before Harry Potter and The Hunger Games, before mainstream female leads very occasionally got more at the end of the story than together with the protagonist. Sure, there were tomboys and bad girls, but they were freaks and were usually killed off or married off quickly. Lady hobbits didn’t bring the ring to Mordor. They stayed at home in the shire.

Randa Abdel-Fattah at The Hoopla writes, “The Us and Them Project“:

All the research demonstrates that since the 1990s and certainly post-September 11, Muslims and Arabs are our ‘folk devils’. The vitriol and Islamophobic diatribe Ed Husic (Australia’s first federal parliamentarian of Muslim background) was subjected to yesterday for choosing to swear an oath on the Koran was not surprising.

Being Australian and Muslim is considered an oxymoron.

Muslims are accused of failing to ‘fit in’ (code for abandoning one’s Muslim identity) or, as part of larger moral panics and discourses surrounding Islam, are viewed as a clandestine group attempting to subvert the nation from within.

Van Badham writes at the Guardian, “Miranda Kerr, being in a ‘traditional’ marriage is no recipe for happiness“:

Kerr is enough of a celebrity that she could announce that zebras have 10 testicles or that NASA is going to fly her to the moon on a magic banana, and someone would run it as story – the accompanying photo would add some hot-looking click-bait to their pages. And I would prefer this to her tired stereotypes, if only because 10-testicled zebras and magic bananas face gross under-representation in the media.

Massively over-represented, however, is the perpetuation of mythologies of gendered “traditional” roles that are assumptive, not factual. Stupid, pseudo-scientific terms like “alpha female” are overused, too, but let’s deal with that later.

Perhaps because Australian women are now so very aware how “traditional” gender stereotypes belittle and damage strong and capable women at national cost, gender politics are finally coming under deserved scrutiny. In the way that R&B star Chris Brown was once given an awkward pass by many in the media for his brutalisation of Rhianna, the same could not now be said of Charles Saatchi and his treatment of soon-to-be-ex-wife Nigella Lawson.

Cara Ellison writes at New Statesmen, “There’s no sexism in gaming“:

To anyone getting their boxers in a bunch over this, I say: buy the games with the male protagonists. There are at least four of them. They are attractive, virile boy characters with a lot going for them. Show us you mean business by buying those titles. Lawrence Croft is still an icon: that bulging crotch and tight ass, the washboard abs – what more could you want to identify with? He’s everything you aspire to. And those of you who complain we didn’t put any clothes on him – he became an icon because of that lack of clothes! And Lawrence Croft has trousers now, think about that. Women’s interest in a sexy, provocative young male is what gave Lawrence Croft his iconic status. Stop asking for special treatment by the games industry, we are making the best games in whatever way we see fit.

CBC News posted, “UN demands answers from Vatican on child sex abuse“:

In a document published online, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child has asked the Vatican to come clean with how it addresses children’s rights around the world, including what measures it takes when dealing with sexual violence.

The panel, which polices the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child, wants the Catholic Church to reveal confidential records on investigations and legal proceedings against clergy members accused of sexual crimes on children.

The Geneva-based committee also wants to know what measures are being taken to ensure that clergy members accused of sexual abuses are not in contact with children and how members are told to report allegations of sexual violence.

Lisa Hix at Collectors Weekly writes, “Singing the Lesbian Blues in 1920s Harlem“:

When Gertrude “Ma” Rainey—known as “The Mother of Blues”—sang, “It’s true I wear a collar and a tie, … Talk to the gals just like any old man,” in 1928′s “Prove It on Me,” she was flirting with scandal, challenging the listener to catch her in a lesbian affair. It might not seem like a big deal to us now, but back then, pursuing same-sex relations could get you thrown in jail.

The good news for women-loving chanteuses like Rainey, Bessie Smith, and Gladys Bentley is that blues music in the 1920s was so far under the radar of mainstream America, female blues singers could get away with occasionally expressing their unconventional desires. That said, they all felt obligated to produce song after song about loving and losing men.

“I don’t want to overplay the significance of the three songs that Ma Rainey wrote and recorded that had some references to lesbianism and homosexuality,” says Robert Philipson, who directed the 2011 documentary, “T’Ain’t Nobody’s Bizness: Queer Blues Divas of the 1920s.” “That’s a handful out of hundreds and hundreds of blues songs that were recorded. The fact that there were any was remarkable, given the times. You certainly never saw it in any other part of American culture.”

Emily Alpert at Los Angles Times writes, “Why bisexuals stay in the closet“:

In the middle of the rainbowy revelers at the pride parade in West Hollywood, Jeremy Stacywas questioned: Are you really bisexual?

“One guy came up to me and said, ‘You’re really gay,’ ” said Stacy, who was standing under a sign reading “Ask a Bisexual.” “I told him I had a long line of ex-girlfriends who would vehemently disagree. And he said, ‘That doesn’t matter, because I know you’re gay.’ ”

Stacy had gotten the question before. From a friend who said anyone who had slept with men must be gay — even if he had also slept with women. From women who assumed he would cheat on them. From a boyfriend who insisted Stacy was really “bi now, gay later” — and dumped him when he countered he was “bi now, bi always.”

Maria Dahvana Headley at Glittering Scrivener writes, “BUT HE DIDN’T KNOW HE WAS HIJACKING YOUR SHIP: On Conference Creeps“:

5. Conversely, when I complained about The Hugger anecdotally to men, most of them said he was just clueless and didn’t mean to creep me out, and that if I was clear that I didn’t want to be hugged, I wouldn’t be, because The Hugger was a nice guy. Don’t get me wrong. Most men are great. But I think most guys have also not been witness to a lot of this. Creepers wait til you’re with your girls, or alone. Because Creepers calculate.

6. The Hugger wasn’t hugging the guys. Nor was Spoor Guy licking their arm and then sending them love letters. Nor was Dealer’s Room Guy lifting them off their feet.

7. Notice that I’ve not even mentioned anyone giving me any kind of respect for being a professional writer here. In these scenarios, I’ve been A Pretty Writer. It’s part of my job to be nice to people at conventions. I don’t like to cause scenes and be ill humored. I’m inherently a friendly person. Sometimes this bites me in the ass, literally. Sometimes it gropes me in the ass.

Chris Brecheen at Writing About Writing (And Occasionally Some Writing) writes, “Changing The Creepy Guy Narrative“:

And in reading all these things I’ve come to be aware of a narrative.  An everyday narrative almost as common for women as “the train pulled into the station, and I got on.”  It’s not that no one but a writer could be aware of this narrative it’s just that in a world where tragically few are, that was my gateway.

It is the narrative of how men hit on women in public places.  A tired old story if ever there were one.  A story where consent is not a character we actually ever meet, and where the real antagonist is not a person, but rather the way she has been socialized to be polite, to be civil, to not be “such a bitch”….no matter how much of a Douchasauras Rex HE is being about not picking up the subtle clues. Yes, a human being might fill the role of the immediate obstacle–and in doing so personify the larger issue, but the careful reader of this tropetastic narrative knows the real villain is the culture that discourages her from rebuking him in no uncertain terms lest she be castigated.  (And that’s the best case scenario; the worst is that she angers someone with much greater upper body strength who may become violent.)  The real antagonist is a society where she is actually discouraged from being honest about what she wants…or doesn’t want.  And the society that socialized him that it’s okay for him to corner her…pressure her….be persistent to the point of ignoring the fact that she has said no.

Susan Silk and Barry Goldman at Los Angeles Times writes, “How not to say the wrong thing“:

Draw a circle. This is the center ring. In it, put the name of the person at the center of the current trauma. For Katie’s aneurysm, that’s Katie. Now draw a larger circle around the first one. In that ring put the name of the person next closest to the trauma. In the case of Katie’s aneurysm, that was Katie’s husband, Pat. Repeat the process as many times as you need to. In each larger ring put the next closest people. Parents and children before more distant relatives. Intimate friends in smaller rings, less intimate friends in larger ones. When you are done you have a Kvetching Order. One of Susan’s patients found it useful to tape it to her refrigerator.

Here are the rules. The person in the center ring can say anything she wants to anyone, anywhere. She can kvetch and complain and whine and moan and curse the heavens and say, “Life is unfair” and “Why me?” That’s the one payoff for being in the center ring.

Everyone else can say those things too, but only to people in larger rings.

When you are talking to a person in a ring smaller than yours, someone closer to the center of the crisis, the goal is to help. Listening is often more helpful than talking. But if you’re going to open your mouth, ask yourself if what you are about to say is likely to provide comfort and support. If it isn’t, don’t say it. Don’t, for example, give advice. People who are suffering from trauma don’t need advice. They need comfort and support. So say, “I’m sorry” or “This must really be hard for you” or “Can I bring you a pot roast?” Don’t say, “You should hear what happened to me” or “Here’s what I would do if I were you.” And don’t say, “This is really bringing me down.”

Michael Kimmel at the New York Times writes, “Fired for Being Beautiful“:

MOST everyone knows by now about “lookism” — the preferential treatment given to those who conform to social standards of beauty. Research suggests that people who are judged physically attractive are seen as more competent and more socially graceful than those who aren’t; they have more friends and more sex; and they make more money. One economic study found a 5 percent bonus for being in the top third in the looks department (as assessed by a set of observers), and a 7 to 9 percent penalty for being in the bottom 9 percent.
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All of which might come as a surprise to Melissa Nelson, a 33-year-old dental assistant in Fort Dodge, Iowa. Ms. Nelson, you see, was fired in 2010 by her dentist boss, James Knight, because she was too attractive. Mr. Knight, who is married, said he felt that Ms. Nelson’s beauty was simply too tempting to pass unnoticed and that he was worried he would have an affair with her. And so as a pre-emptive move (and at his wife’s insistence), he fired her.

Ms. Nelson sued on grounds of sex discrimination. Stunningly, an Iowa district court dismissed the case, contending that she was fired “not because of her gender but because she was a threat to the marriage of Dr. Knight.” Naturally, she appealed, but last week the Iowa Supreme Court upheld the lower court’s decision (for the second time), maintaining its view that an employee “may be lawfully terminated simply because the boss views the employee as an irresistible attraction.”

Heather Crawford at NBC News reports on “Florida man pleads not guilty to shooting teen to death over loud music“:

A Florida gun collector has pleaded not guilty to a murder charge alleging that he opened fire on a car full of unarmed teenagers, killing one, in an altercation that police say stemmed from loud music.

Michael David Dunn, 45, acted “as any responsible firearms owner would have,” his lawyer said of the Friday evening incident at a gas station outside a convenience store in Jacksonville, Fla.

Dunn and his girlfriend were in Jacksonville for his son’s wedding when they pulled up in their car next to the teens. Police allege that while the girlfriend was in the store, Dunn told Jordan Russell Davis, 17, and his three friends to turn down their music.

“It was loud,” Jacksonville homicide Lt. Rob Schoonover said of the teens’ music. “They admitted that. That’s not a reason for someone to open fire.”

After an exchange of words, Dunn began shooting with a handgun, Schoonover said.

At Political Blindspot, “MEDIA BLACKOUT: No ‘Stand Your Ground’ Right For CeCe McDonald Against Neo-Nazi Attackers“:

The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported that 23-year-old CeCe McDonald was sentenced June 4, 2012 to three years and five months in prison for the death of Dean Schmitz, a white Neo-Nazi.

McDonald was walking past a Minnesota bar on June 5, 2011 when an altercation between her and Schmitz, in addition to other patrons, erupted on the sidewalk outside. According to various reports, McDonald pulled out a pair of scissors in a clear self-defense attempt after the group hurled a glass at her face, resulting in a gash that required 11 stitches: far more than the two Band-Aids George Zimmerman received for his injuries. The Neo-Nazis targeted McDonald with both anti-homosexual and racist epithets, including “fagg_ts,” “n_ggers” and “chicks with d_cks.”

Minnesota’s Governor Mark Dayton, vetoed the “Stand Your Ground” defense, claiming that “state law already protects law-abiding residents who shoot someone in defense of themselves or others when it is reasonable under the circumstances.” Critics of the “Stand Your Ground Law” have said is used to facilitate the murder of African Americans, while the right is in turn denied to members of that community.

Chris Graham at New Matilda writes, “Does Trayvon Martin Matter Here?

The island has a brutal history, and the tough nature of the community today is a consequence of that. But personally, I’ve always found Palm a warm and welcoming place. Had Barack Obama visited at the time of his election, he would have too. The local council raised the US flag to join in community celebrations at the announcement of a black president.

People are often surprised to learn that Aboriginal Australians take a strong interest in black American politics. Few Australians, for example, are aware of the strong historical links to the Black Panther movement in Aboriginal Australia.

It’s one of the ironies, I suspect, of modern oppression — while the oppressors somehow manage to remain stubbornly ignorant, the oppressed get more educated.

The issue is one that resonates with black Australia, for obvious reasons. Indeed there are so many parallels it’s hard to know where to begin. So maybe where it began for Trayvon Martin — racial profiling.

In Australia, Aboriginal adults are more than 17 times more likely to be arrested than non Aboriginal people. Aboriginal youth are 28 times more likely to be arrested.

Having been arrested, the jailing rates come into play. On that front, in the US, black Americans make up about 13 per cent of the general population, but around 40 per cent of the prison population.

But in Australia, Aboriginal people make up just over three percent of the total population, but comprise about 25 percent of the prison population.

For youth, they comprise more than 50 per cent and in some jurisdictions, such as the Northern Territory, Aboriginal people make up almost 90 per cent of the prison population.

John Scalzi at Whatever hosts a guest post from Chris Kluwe, “The Big Idea: Chris Kluwe“:

Sparkleponies is a collection of short stories and essays covering a wide variety of topics, hopefully in an entertaining and educational way (I promise you’ll learn some new swear words at the very least). I frequently describe it as a snapshot into my mind, and the main reason I wrote it as such is because I wanted to show you can’t define a human being with just one label.

When various publishers first approached me about writing a book, the majority of them wanted the standard “football player autobiographical” that everyone churns out once they get even a sniff of attention. You know, the “on x day I did y, and it made me feel z because I gave 120% of all the sports cliches my coach ever taught me about Jesus.” That one.

Well, I’m not a fan of that book, primarily because it plays into the kind of lazy thinking that’s so prevalent in our culture (America in particular). “You’re a football player, so all you can talk about is football.” “You’re gay, so you hate sports and love clothes.” “You’re a woman, so shut up and get in the kitchen, and don’t even think about playing video games with us manly men.”

James Arvanitakis at New Matilda writes, “The Seven Step Misogyny Detox“:

These conversations invariably led to Julia Gillard’s popularity, her treatment by the press and “that misogyny speech” which many had seen. This led to two interrelated questions: “Are Australians ready for a female Prime Minister?’; and “Does Australian culture breed misogyny?”

The way Julia Gillard was treated has been detailed elsewhere so I won’t discuss it here. Rather, my interest is the everyday language and behaviours – or simply, our culture – that perpetuates the feeling that women are somehow inferior to men, do not know their place and are behaving badly (or “destroying the joint”).

Just like passive racism, many do not even realise we are doing it, but it is in these unguarded moments that we gain insights into what is at the core of our culture. In the spirit of responding to those who begin their sentences with “I am not a racist, but…”, or in this case, “I agree that some sections of the press have been harsh but her voice really is grating”, here are seven steps that we need to adopt if we are going to stop the perpetuation of misogyny in our culture.

Ms. Muslamic writes, “Here’s what’s wrong with hijab tourism and your cutesy “modesty experiments”“:

These ‘hijab tourists’ venture into the mysterious world of Islamic veiling like the colonialist explorers of old, and like those explorers they return from their travels to report back on what they experienced. The veil is an ~exotic foreign country~, and you can’t trust the locals to tell you what it’s all about. No, better to send one of your own – usually a nice, middle-class White woman – and get her to translate the experience into a narrative that’s palatable to a Western audience. Hijab and niqab are thus shorn of their cultural, religious and social significance and reduced to tourist attractions and teachable moments for privileged outsiders. They swoop in, swan around in a veil for a few days (or weeks) and then write earnest op-eds about how much they ~learned~ from the experience.

The consequences for these privileged, non-Muslim women who try hijab or niqab for a day (or week, or months) are usually attention, column space and – in most cases – monetary reward. Liz Jones and Danielle Crittenden are both professional journalists who were presumably paid to dress up in niqabs and then write scathing, offensive articles about it. In the latest iteration of these articles, Lauren Shields announced recently on her blog that she now has an agent and a book deal based on her experience.

There’s good money to be made in cultural appropriation, apparently. Shields denies that her experiment is cultural appropriation because she “made [her] own modesty rules” {x}, which is a pretty disingenuous assertion given that she states in her Salon article that the whole experiment was inspired by a lecture about Muslim women and the hijab.

Caitlen Welsh at Junkee writes, “Is Gender-Flipping The Most Important Meme Ever?“:

In the wise words of Community’s Dean Pelton, sometimes we don’t see our own patterns until they’re laid out in front of us. We, as consumers of media and culture, absorb a lot of sexist, racist, heteronormative bullshit every day, and we never really question it because we see it every day. We internalise it. We expect it. It feels normal — until something fishes us out of our warm pot and forces us to see the steam.

Tootsie came out back in 1982, so gender-flipping as a tool to expose double standards is nothing new – but it does seem to have taken off recently. It can be as simple as posing a hypothetical: “Would Julia Gillard have been subjected to the same diarrheic torrent of abuse if she had been a man making identical decisions?” has been a popular one recently, with at least one “let’s give it to Kevin!” article appearing within days. “Would John Inverdale have felt the urge to comment on Andy Murray’s looks?” is another one.

Radhika Nagpal at Scientific American writes, “The Awesomest 7-Year Postdoc or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Tenure-Track Faculty Life“:

In 2003, at a party, I met this very cool guy. He was on the job market for faculty positions and had just gotten an offer from MIT Sloan. I was on the job market too, and so we instantly hit it off. I had recently completed my PhD in computer science from MIT; it had already felt so hard, just proving myself as worthy enough. I also had a 4 year old kid and a little toddler. I really wondered how I’d emotionally survive tenure-track, assuming anyone would even offer me the job. So I asked him. How did he feel about doing the whole tenure track thing? Having to prove oneself again after the whole PhD experience? The answer changed my life, and gave me a life long friend.

He looked at my quizzically, and said “Tenure-track? what’s that? Hey, I’m signing up for a 7-year postdoc to hang out with some of the smartest, coolest folks on the planet! Its going to be a blast. And which other company gives you 7 year job security? This is the awesomest job ever!”

In 2004 when I came to Harvard as a junior faculty, I wrote it on my desk.
This-is-a-7-year-postdoc.
I type it in every day. For all seven+ years I have been at Harvard. No joke.

Amanda Marcotte at The Raw Story writes, “Radical Feminist Law Professor Believes Girls Can Want To Be More Than Housewives“:

For anyone who wants proof that the conservative Republican tendency to accuse liberals and feminists of being “radical” or “militant” is pure projection, Wednesday’s confirmation hearings for Nina Pillard, Obama’s pick to sit on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, served nicely. Pillard is a Georgetown law professor and yes, openly feminist (though not as aggressively feminist as, say, Justice Samuel Alito is anti-feminist), which was enough to put the Republican Senators who showed up at the hearing into a full-blown paranoid lather. Sen. Ted Cruz, for instance, accused Pillard of arguing that abstinence-only programs were inherently unconstitutional.

Cruz did not understand correctly the document in front of him, which happens to be available for anyone who wants to compare their reading comprehension to that of a Harvard-educated attorney like Cruz. Pillard argues in this document not that it’s unconstitutional to scold kids to keep it in their pants to your heart’s content, but that the specific gender roles taught in many abstinence-only courses violate the students’ right to equal protection.

Kasey Edwards at Daily Life writes, “Five lies the weight loss industry wants you to believe“:

3. Doctors and health professionals are experts in weight management

“Weight management and the psychology of eating is a relatively new area of health,” says Dr Kausman.

Doctors, dietitian and psychologists are experts in many areas, but according to Dr Kausman weight management and the psychology of eating is very often not one of them.

“In a short period of time we have seen weight gain for a significant number of people, as well as a thin ideal that is almost impossible to achieve” says Dr Kausman. “The education and training for health professionals has not caught up to deal with this problem.”

“On the whole, GPs, dietitians and psychologists are very poorly equipped to support somebody who might come in and say that they feel they are above their most healthy weight and looking for advice on what they should do about that.”

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Post mid-winter linkspam – the summer is coming (July 2013)

So another month passes, and we’re closer to the warmer weather.  It’s funny how I look forward to the cooler weather in summer, and the warmer weather in winter.  Anyway, have some amazing links that I’ve found over the past month.

First an extract from a book called, “Bi: Notes for a Bisexual Revolution” by Shiri Eisner, hosted at Altnet:

Oddly enough, the issue of biphobia, or monosexism, is one of the most hotly contested territories in bisexual politics, and certainly one of the least understood. A term much-feared and slightly frowned upon, biphobia has often been dismissed even by the most avid bisexual scholars and activists. Some insinuate that bisexuals don’t actually suffer oppression that is separate from homophobia or lesbophobia. In fact, very often, simply raising the issue of biphobia (in any setting) is perceived as an affront to gay and lesbian politics and is ridiculed, often with the ubiquitous “bisexuals are privileged” argument.

Before I refute the argument that bisexuals don’t suffer from a unique type of oppression (biphobia), let’s examine where this argument places bisexuality and bisexual people: To look at the first part of this argument, we will soon discover the old and familiar “bisexuality doesn’t exist” trope. To claim that bisexuals do not experience oppression differently from gays or lesbians is to subsume bisexual experience into homosexuality, thus eliminating its unique existence. For if no unique bisexual experience is to be found, then certainly the category of bisexuality itself is null. The second half of the argument (“privilege”) acknowledges the existence of bisexuality, but connects it with the notion of privilege and thus oppressor status, again nullifying the unique oppression that bisexuals experience and the need for specific attention to it. In this way, bisexuality is here spoken about on two levels: first as a nonexistent other, and second as an oppressor (presumably of gays and lesbians). The notion that bisexuals are only oppressed as a result of homophobia and lesbophobia erases the need for a unique bisexual liberation struggle and places bisexuals as “halfway” add-ons to the gay and lesbian movement.

Hida Vilora at Advocate writes, “Op-ed: Intersex, the Final Coming-Out Frontier“:

Last night, before my OK Cupid-induced outing, I realized I was going to have to come out again, but not in the usual way. I’d found my date in a “girls who like girls” online search, so I obviously didn’t need to tell her I’m queer. But if I wanted to be able to talk about my work, as one usually does on first dates, I did need to come out as intersex.

Like most people, she’d heard the word, but didn’t know exactly what it meant. Just imagine that, if you will. Coming out as L,G,B, or T can be bad enough sometimes, but at least people know what it is!

Ben Pobjie wrote at The Guardian, “Australia, let’s talk about manners“:

People will protest that Sattler wasn’t being sexist, because every time someone is sexist in public people protest that they weren’t being sexist. You could ask these people to reel off the number of times that previous prime ministers were asked if their wives were lesbians: in fact you could ask them to specify those occasions on which previous prime ministers were quizzed on any aspect of their wives’ sex lives at all; but they’d be unlikely to take the point, because they are not very bright.

But I understand the urge to deny that sexism is happening, because I’m a man and I hate talking about sexism: it makes me feel guilty and self-conscious. It is, frankly, awkward.

But that’s OK: let’s not talk about sexism. Let’s talk about manners. Let’s talk about the way you talk to another human being. In this case, as it so happened, the other human being was the prime minister of Australia, who you had invited onto your radio show for a serious interview. But even leaving all that aside, let us consider, when you are having a conversation with somebody, how do you talk to them?

Renee Lupica writes at The Hairpin, “Six Fairy Tales for the Modern Woman“:

I.

Once upon a time a woman never got married, but had many fulfilling relationships, a job that kept her comfortable, an apartment that she got to decorate just for her, and hobbies that stimulated her mind.

The End.

Zubeida Malik at the BBC writes, “Haifa al Mansour becomes first female Saudi director“:

Haifa al Mansour has made a film – titled Wadjda – that has received critical acclaim around the world but cannot actually be shown in Saudi Arabia because there are no cinemas and few films are given a public showing.

After al Mansour released three short films as well as an award-winning documentary, the thing that she had still not done – nor for that matter had anyone else in Saudi Arabia – was direct a feature length film.

Sandi Toksvig at The Guardian writes, “Sandi Toksvig’s top 10 unsung heroines“:

Nightingale is well known in history as the Lady with the Lamp but this was actually a phrase invented by a Times journalist. The men of the Crimean actually called her the Lady With the Hammer because she was quite happy to break into supply rooms if her patients needed something.

Pew Research Social & Demographic Trends provides, “A Survey of LGBT Americans“:

The survey finds that 12 is the median age at which lesbian, gay and bisexual adults first felt they might be something other than heterosexual or straight. For those who say they now know for sure that they are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, that realization came at a median age of 17.

Four-in-ten respondents to the Pew Research Center survey identify themselves as bisexual. Gay men are 36% of the sample, followed by lesbians (19%) and transgender adults (5%).2 While these shares are consistent with findings from other surveys of the LGBT population, they should be treated with caution.3 There are many challenges in estimating the size and composition of the LGBT population, starting with the question of whether to use a definition based solely on self-identification (the approach taken in this report) or whether to also include measures of sexual attraction and sexual behavior.

Luke Pearson at @Aboriginaloz Blog writes, “An Open Letter To People Who Feel They Are Excluded Just For Being White.”:

I hate to be the one to tell it to you, but it isn’t ‘just’ because you are white. It isn’t ‘reverse racism’. Our supposed unfair condemnation of white people isn’t a viable excuse for your continual, wilful and blatantly unapologetic perpetuation of racist stereotypes. Also, the fact that you might have identified the same phenomenon in other groups not based on race, say disability advocates, gay marriage advocates, or feminists, doesn’t meant your observations aren’t still racist. If I say that Muslims and people with autism are violent, that doesn’t mean I am not making a racist comment. It just means I’m also insulting people with autism. It doesn’t detract from the inappropriate nature of my comment, it adds to it with another form of discrimination.

Now, just to qualify, and I know this is going to confuse a lot of you but here we go… being ‘white’ isn’t the sole reason you get excluded from these dialogues, or from expressing your opinion without receiving an overwhelmingly consistent negative response; but it is a factor, just not the disqualifying factor which you claim it to be.

Ta-Nehisi Coates at The Atlantic writes, “A Rising Tide Lifts All Yachts“:

I also pointed to sociologist John Logan’s research which points out that, on average, affluent blacks tend to live in neighborhoods with poorer resources than most poor whites. To understand this you must get that African Americans are the most segregated group in American history. Right now, at this very moment, the dissimilarity index — the means by which we measure segregation — is at the lowest point it’s been in a century. Despite that, African Americans are still highly segregated.

To understand the profound consequences of segregation, consider this study by sociologist Patrick Sharkey — “Neighborhoods and The Mobility Gap” — which looks at how children fare when exposed to poverty. The answer, of course, is not well. Instead of trying to do a one-to-one match of African Americans and whites via income or wealth, the study considers African Americans and whites within the neighborhoods in which they live. The conclusions are generally not surprising:

Among children born from 1955 through 1970, only 4 percent of whites were raised in neighborhoods with at least 20 percent poverty, compared to 62 percent of blacks. Three out of four white children were raised in neighborhoods with less than 10 percent poverty, compared to just 9 percent of blacks. Even more astonishingly, essentially no white children were raised in neighborhoods with at least 30 percent poverty, but three in ten blacks were.And more shockingly still, almost half (49 percent) of black children with family income in the top three quintiles lived in neighborhoods with at least 20 percent poverty, compared to only one percent of white children in those quintiles. These figures reveal that black children born from the mid 1950s to 1970 were surrounded by poverty to a degree that was virtually nonexistent for whites.

This degree of racial inequality is not a remnant of the past. Two out of three black children born from 1985 through 2000 have been raised in neighborhoods with at least 20 percent poverty, compared to just 6 percent of whites. Only one out of ten blacks in the current generation has been raised in a neighborhood with less than 10 percent poverty, compared to six out of ten whites. Even today, thirty percent of black children experience a level of neighborhood poverty — a rate of 30 percent or more — unknown among white children.

tithenai at Voices on the Midnight Air writes, “Calling for the Expulsion of a SFWA Member“:

On Wednesday I called for the expulsion of Theodore Beale, aka Vox Day, from SFWA. The reasons and proposed methodology are detailed in the link. In brief, he very obviously, knowingly, and deliberately broke the rules over what kind of posts could be tagged for inclusion in SFWA’s promotional Twitter feed by posting a racist attack on N. K. Jemisin. This is not a one-time occurence, but part of a pattern of behaviour that shows malicious contempt for the organization as a whole.

While the vast majority of responses — through pingbacks on the post, in e-mail, over Twitter — have been positive and supportive, over the last few days I have seen the following in various places on the internet:

– people refusing to acknowledge that there was anything racist or misogynistic about Beale’s post
– people wringing their hands over how we shouldn’t ban people from organizations for their opinions (when that is not the argument I am making)
– people saying we should just ignore him — that banning him from the Twitter feed is enough of a reprimand
– people being more outraged at the idea that I would call Beale’s post racist than at the fact that he called a black woman “an ignorant half-savage” who couldn’t possibly be “fully civilized” on account of her ethnic heritage.

I have also seen people belligerently questioning or deriding my command of the English language, my religion, my ethnicity, and my nationality, as a consequence of having made that post.

Michael Taylor at The Australian Independent Media Network writes, “Feel free to speak about whatever I want you to“:

The parties that are advocating relaxation to the freedom of speech laws, nay, hysterically demanding it, are the ones who are in reality practicing the most rabid suppression of it. They want the freedom to be an asshole whilst limiting free speech on those who hold opposing views (to them). You’ll be able to racially vilify or abuse anyone whatsoever, but you will be silenced if any form of dissent, no matter how trivial, is directed towards them.

Lee & Low Books writes, “Why Hasn’t the Number of Multicultural Books Increased In Eighteen Years?“:

Since LEE & LOW BOOKS was founded in 1991 we have monitored the number of multicultural children’s books published each year through the Cooperative Children’s Book Center’s statistics. Our hope has always been that with all of our efforts and dedication to publishing multicultural books for more than twenty years, we must have made a difference. Surprisingly, the needle has not moved. Despite census data that shows 37% of the US population consists of people of color, children’s book publishing has not kept pace. We asked academics, authors, librarians, educators, and reviewers if they could put their fingers on the reason why the number of diverse books has not increased.

*Trigger warning for discussion and depiction of sexual assault* At Georgia Weidman’s Security Blog, she writes, “Guess You Thought I Was Someone To Mess With“:

This is the last thing I have to say about all this. My duty is done. I don’t want to be the poster girl for infosec feminism. I want to be a researcher, and a trainer, and a speaker, and an icon. There’s a bad guy out there who has no remorse. I have reason to believe he was behaved badly towards women before at conferences and will do it again. The Polish legal system, while they have a report refused to take any action on the grounds that I had no proof, I had been drinking, etc. The US Consulate in Poland also has a record of it. But that’s it; it’s over and done with. I gave a talk the next day, I taught a class the next week. You aren’t going to get rid of me that easily, and I’m not going to stop expressing myself because someone can’t behave. If I want to show you my “I Love Joe McCray” sharpie tattoo on stage, I’m going to do it. If I want to say something silly on Twitter that could be construed as sexual I’m going to say it. The last thing I’m going to do is stop being myself because of this. Then he wins. And he didn’t win. People have offered to beat him up for me. I already did that. I’m not asking anybody to do anything for me, I’m asking you to do something for the next girl. This guy is dangerous. I was lucky. She might not be.

Larissa Behrendt at The Guardian writes, “Aboriginal humour: ‘the flip side of tragedy is comedy’“. (I’m particularly linking to this article because it has Babakiueria embedded in it, a film everyone should watch):

This experience of looking at the funny side through adversity is not unique. Sean Choolburra was a former dancer who turned his hand at being funny. He has worked as a stand up comedian for just over a decade, and now is the best known Aboriginal comedian. His parents grew up on Palm Island – a place where curfews were imposed, and where segregation thrived. A leprosy colony was built on the next island. “But you wouldn’t know it was tragic or horrific”, he says, “my mum, dad and grandparents would tell all these funny yarns over tea and dampers. Hearing all these, would have thought they had the greatest lives growing up. But you got the sense that they wouldn’t have survived without our sense of humour.”

“The flip side of tragedy is comedy,” adds Aboriginal stand up comedian Kevin Kropinyeri. “We have had to learn to look at our situation. We never had much on the mission without. My nana would spend three month periods in gaol for being off the mission without papers. Laughter is healing and is a way of coping with life.”

Barbara Shaw at New Matilda writes, “The NT Intervention – Six Years On“:

They said the Intervention was about stopping children from being abused, that it was going to stop the drinking and domestic violence. But all I have seen is racism and disempowerment of our people. It’s the old assimilation policy back again, to control how we live. The government and many non-Aboriginal NGOs have taken over the assets and responsibilities of our organisations, both in the major town centres and remote communities forcing us to comply with their policies that take no account of Aboriginal culture and our obligations.

Take income management, which I have been on for five and a half years. I ran for parliament in 2010 and outpolled both Labor and Liberal candidates in Central Australian communities. I have represented my people at the United Nations. But the Government says I can’t manage my money. On their own estimations of $6000 to 8000 per person per year administrative cost for income management, the government has spent more than $30,000 dollars just to control my small income.

This system has made it much harder for us to share and care for each other. I used to run an unofficial safe house here at Mt Nancy town camp. I’d get money off all the parents every week. If there was drinking and fighting and the kids needed somewhere to be, they knew they were safe here at “Big Mamma’s” house and that I could buy meals for them. No one has the cash to chuck in any more. The Government has refused to fund a community centre here on our town camp.

Through the looking glass writes, “Modernity can be hard work: On Mansplaining“:

The tensions around mansplaining also reflect hang-ups we have dealing with expertise in this world of specialisms we’ve made for ourselves. I think one of the reasons it’s sparked recently, especially around social media, is because we increasingly bump into expertise without much context, and as a result see our prejudices laid out quite clearly. We can be shocked to see someone we didn’t know holding a confident opinion in 140 characters or a simple independent blog. WHAT DO THEY KNOW ANYWAY? Oh, quite a lot actually. I didn’t realise that. Whoops. Or, more often maybe, we discover that this new person knows about the world in a slightly different way from us, one we might disagree with but can still learn from.

Even before the emergence of the web the various silos of expertise were causing cultural tensions. We have a society increasingly fractured by specialists. This is often a good thing. Someone can spend time concentrating on knowing loads about, for example, biodiversity and bees thus freeing up someone else to be an expert in sewage management, brain surgery, 15th century art, Russian cartoons of the 1970s, whatever bit of the world we want to dig into. But then how can the bee expert talk to the rest of us? Or the polar bear geneticist learn from the poet? How do we know how or if to trust the brain surgeon? Modernity can be hard work.

Hanna White at Bitch Media writes, “The Feminism of Hayao Miyazaki and Spirited Away“:

In many Hollywood films, narratives are built around the simplistic idea of good versus evil: “good guys” kill off “bad guys” who are devils through and through. In contrast, the flowing narrative structure of Miyazaki’s films allow for a lot of flexibility in the roles played by heroes and villains. Most of the time, the hero or heroine’s journey does not center on the need to violently defeat an ultimate villain. Take Spirited Away. In the film, a young girl named Chihiro slips into a magical alternate reality where her parents are turned into pigs. Chihiro does face some enemies on her quest to rescue her parents and escape back to the human world, including the ghost No-Face and a witch named Yubaba. But she surpasses them by using her cleverness and simple bravery, not physical force. Along the way, No-Face becomes her friend and Yubaba shows she’s not pure evil.

Clementine Ford at ABC’s The Drum writes, “Women’s equality a global battleground“:

The proponents of imperial feminism can be roughly split into two groups. The first uses accusations of misdirected political activism to cover up the fact that they don’t really care about women’s liberation. Feminism in the West annoys them, because it challenges the restrictive ideas of femininity that either support their own privilege (for men) or provide provisional access to it (for women). Directing feminists to focus on women who suffer ‘real’ oppression doesn’t just belie a casual racism, it also pretty clearly reveals that these people consider women’s suffering a problem for women alone to solve and for them to exploit when they feel like it.

The oft expressed support for women’s rights in say, the Middle East, is less about caring for human beings than it is about gaining a self-satisfied feeling of superiority over the men in these cultures, all of whom are gleefully reduced to brutish, racist parodies of the unreconstructed savage. If this weren’t the case, these loudmouthed Western sots would be actively doing something themselves to help women in these societies instead of constantly looking for ways to justify a disgust for the struggle of the women in their own.

Christian McCrea writes, “8.7% Is Proof of a Problem“:

As people leave high school, they search for courses in various systems under different terms. “Games” is a search term used by 11,000 Victorian students each year as they determine their applications. Eleven thousand. Each year. We need to stop talking about a lack of jobs and start talking about people taking a serious interest in a craft. The ABS says there’s less than 600 salaries in games and 11,000 young people a year are making a choice about what they want to do.

Where those young people search and what changes their mind is a deeply personal process. Casting tertiary games courses purely as an “information technology” category is going to gender the outcome of those choices because all of these terms are often gendered. The language each course guide includes is often gendered. The websites of the Universities and private games colleges (some of which feature CG women) are often gendered.

When a games course in the UK, Europe, America, New Zealand, Australia is described as design and not IT, the gender ratios alter significantly. The change in gender ratios in game degrees is so significant, it is a case study for internal University research. This has implications for what is in the course being described. That goes without saying.

James Schlarmann writes at The Political Garbage Chute, “If 200 Bigots Have a Tantrum, Does Anyone Care?“:

This “Natural Moral Law” argument that anti-equality people like to make — that it’s just not natural to be in a sexual relationship that cannot procreate — is absolutely no different than what segregationists argued in the courts. “Your honor, God just made us this way.” It’s the laziest fucking argument you can make because all you have to do is point to something you can’t prove, can’t be challenged because it can’t be proved, and ultimately trumps everything with its built-in near automatic histrionics and fireworks. As soon you invoke God you’re basically saying that intolerance and hatred are the normative behaviors, not acceptance, compassion and non-judgment. They flip the script on us, and ultimately on themselves. In this twisted version of reality, those of us who want to end the intolerance become the intolerant ones.

It’s like they never matured in their intellect past fifth grade. They’re basically operating from a place where it’s Opposite Day every day. You remember Opposite Day, don’t you? It’s the day when you were in fifth grade where you’d bust your friends chops by saying, “Hey, I like your shirt, Bob!” Bob thanks you for the compliment and you cut him off saying, “Oh, I forgot to say, it’s Opposite Day. Also, you’re very smart and smell great.” That is the same exact mentality of “Actually, God wants us to hate the gays. So when you don’t hate the gays, and hate us instead, you actually hate God. Way to hate God, dick.”

*trigger warning for online harassment* Clementine Ford at Daily Life writes, “It’s considered a weakness to be a woman in Australia“:

It would be rare to find a woman who hadn’t endured some kind of ridicule for stepping out of line. When the market dictates that a woman’s value is primarily attached to her looks and deferential behaviour, it’s the threat of sexually degrading insults that help to keep her in check. How many of us have weathered the experience of a man calling us ugly or fat, simply because we disagreed with him or didn’t want to entertain his attentions? How many of us bristle when a carload of rowdy men drives past, preparing ourselves for either inevitable demands that we show them our tits or unasked for comments on the paucity of our looks and knowing that if we don’t acquiesce to such an invasion of our personal space then the consequences for our self esteem will be much worse?

As I write this, an anonymous stranger is bombarding me with messages calling me “a stupid cu*t” who needs to “curl up and die”. “What have I done to deserve this shrieking harpy bitch?” he asks, as if it is me who’s wandered up to his house to scream random insults through his window. “How come all feminists are ugly?” he wonders aloud. “Do they become feminists after being constantly rejected by men?”

Celeste Liddle writes at Daily Life, “‘How black is he?’“:

Mum comes from a long line of brewery workers, boot clickers, tradies, cricket players and home-makers. So when my mother met my Arrernte-boy-from-Alice-Springs father and decided to get married and have four children, she not only upset the apple cart somewhat, she also came to know racism in a way she hadn’t known it existed before and, at times, it must have been heartbreaking.

My mother married my father in the 1970s just years after the Referendum recognised Aboriginal people as humans. She was told my father would “only get darker as he gets older” and was frequently asked, “how black is he?”. Despite all this my parents are still happily together today, 37 years later.

Jane Caro writes at The Guardian, “Julia Gillard is a flawed human being. But she wasn’t allowed to be one“:

Gillard’s problem is that she, like all the rest us, is just a flawed human being. Despite our desire for messiahs, if we’re honest or – dare I say – grown up, it’s the best we can ever get in our leaders. It is my observation, however, after a lifetime spent watching, studying and writing about women and power, that the problem for female leaders is that we are still not yet ready to give them the space to be merely human. We allow them an either/or position only. They can either be inspirational and amazing or terrible, dreadful, the worst we’ve ever had. For women, the difficulty is that there is no middle ground. If you get to the top you better prove you deserve to be there, girlie.

There is still a hint of the usurper around a woman who reaches the top. This works in both positive and negative ways. Difference both repels and attracts. Even those of us who pride ourselves on being “gender blind” greeted the idea of our first female prime minister with an excitement and anticipation that would not ordinarily accompany one of the usual suspects. And it’s not just women leaders who experience this euphoria. President Obama was also burdened by a level of public expectation that could not possibly be met. I suppose we recognise that the degree of difficulty for an outsider is much higher, so we feel that perhaps these people are going to be a bit special. By paying such leaders this compliment, we also inadvertently raise the bar too high.

*trigger warning for harassment* Steven Wink writes, “An E3 Teachable Moment“:

Early in the anti-drunk driving movement, campaigns focused on victims. The tragedies caused by drunk drivers, the stories of ruined lives. To their surprise, they found that sad stories weren’t fixing the problem. The powerful idea that turned the tide was “Friends don’t let friends drive drunk.” Take your friend’s keys away, call them a cab, appoint a designated driver at the start of the night. Take responsibility. These things were about changing the culture that abetted drunk driving, and making the observers – not the drunk drivers – the key to the solution.

When it comes to harassment, it’s tempting to avoid responsibility. That’s bullshit. Whether or not we realize it, we are all in the position of power. There are more good people in games than creeps. The tide has turned. We’re in a position of power regardless of our gender, or the genders of those involved. No matter who you are, when you see something that doesn’t look right, you can act.

Clementine Ford at ABC’s The Drum writes, “Men stand up for the feminist cause“:

The past few weeks have been exhausting ones. At times, it seems like we’ve been living in a Monty Python sketch. The sexist, childish incidents pile up and I keep waiting for a giant foot to descend from the sky to wipe us all out.

I’m often accused (incorrectly) of being a man-hater. I don’t hate men, I just dislike sexism and dickheads, in that order. I thought it would be nice to acknowledge some of the men who’ve challenged the status quo on gender inequality recently. Because in amongst all the rubbish and invective that has been lately directed towards women, there have been moments of defiance that have genuinely moved me.

Men, traditionally the beneficiaries of patriarchy, have emerged to take definitive individual stands against discrimination. In unqualified displays, they’ve declared themselves to be not just passive allies in theory but active agents to create change. And I want to tip my hat at them and say, ‘You’re alright son.’

Mel Campbell at Junkee writes, “Cosmopolitan Magazine’s ‘Size Hero’ Campaign Makes Zero Sense“:

It is comically naive to think we can counteract a lifetime’s worth of immersive, pervasive cultural messages about body size and shape just by bunging a few scantily clad celebs and plus-size models in magazines. But weird magical thinking aside, we should reject all these campaigns for the same reason: they teach us that our bodies are other people’s property, to be gazed at and judged. You shouldn’t need Cosmo’s permission — or anyone else’s — to feel good about yourself.

Whoa. Sexiness is not a ‘cause’. Let’s put this in perspective. People in Turkey are marching against their repressive government. Texas state politician Wendy Davis filibustered for 10 hours to prevent her parliament from legislating to sharply restrict women’s access to abortion. These are causes worth championing. Whereas sexiness isn’t a goddamn human right. It’s a demeaning social expectation shouldered disproportionately by women.

*trigger warning online harassment* Slaus Caldwell guest posts at Fly Girl Gamers with “Game On Ladies“:

Another reason I was in love with the game was because I got to play it alongside my wife, my long-time childhood friend; Mark as well as other really cool friends and strangers who happened to fill out the remaining spots. But one day I decided to login to try and unlock a few perks and packs for my wife since she was having a terrible time getting valuable items which you could randomly get in the perk packs. Therefore I decided to log in as her one time, play as a character which was one of my favourites, and rack up enough points to afford her a few packs in hopes at least of them would be an unlock for something worthwhile. Little did I know I’d be unlocking much more.

As soon as I logged onto the “lobby” which is an area where the 4 players wait before going into the match, the first thing I hear over the headphones was: “Oh great.. a girl player? F*ck. Are you serious? Let’s kick her and hope we get someone else.” Of course for those of you unfamiliar with how this works, they knew the character was a female due to my wife’s moniker or gamer tag as it’s called. Then another player chimed in : “We can’t do a gold match with a girl player. There are even girls who play this game? Shouldn’t she be playing my little pony or something.”

At The Mob and the Multitude, “The NSA Comes Recruiting“:

Roughly half an hour into the session, the exchange below began. I began by asking them how they understood the term “adversary” since the surveillance seems to be far beyond those the American state classifies as enemies, and their understanding of that ties into the recruiters’ earlier statement that “the globe is our playground.” I ended up asking them whether being a liar was a qualification for the NSA

The NSA’s instrumental understanding of language as well as its claustrophobic social world was readily apparent. One of the recruiters discussed how they tend to socialize after work, dressing up in costumes and getting drunk (referenced below). I can imagine that also exerts a lot of social pressure and works as a kind of social closure from which it would be difficult to escape. The last thing I want to point out –once again– their defense seems to be that it’s legal. What is legal is  not just.

Alyssa Rosenberg at Think Progress writes, “Novelist John Scalzi Says He Won’t Attend Conventions Without Strong Sexual Harassment Policies“:

I’ve written before in this space about the ongoing problem of sexual harassment at fan conventions and other geek events, whether people are taking creepshots of cosplayers and making unreasonable demands of their time in terms that make them uncomfortable, so-called journalists are using their credentials as license to harass women, because apparently bra size is an important piece of data for any published story, or sexual harassment between professionals is being excused as an inherent part of geek or gaming culture. There have been efforts to push back against these cultural problems, significant among them, Girl Wonder’s Con Anti-Harassment Project, which, among other things, stockpiles the anti-harassment policies of major conventions (which aren’t always clearly available on their websites) and offers advice on how to report harassment or to support someone in doing so. And those efforts got a high-profile boost yesterday when John Scalzi, the prolific science fiction novelist, the past president of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, and an outspoken feminist ally, announced a policy on convention harassment of his own. Scalzi, he told readers of his popular blog, will no longer attend conventions that don’t have clear sexual harassment policies that delineate offending behavior, and where and to whom it’s possible to report it, that don’t make those policies clear to all participants by means like posting them online or announcing them at opening ceremonies, and where he can’t get personal assurances from convention organizers that they’ll do both of the following, and make sure harassment complaints are taken seriously and dealt with promptly.

Foz Meadows writes at shattersnipe: malcontent & rainbows, “Rageblogging: The Rod Rees Edition“:

Behold this blog post by author Rod Rees, expressing his thoughts as to whether or not male authors can successfully write female characters. This is an important question, one that can and frequently does lead to interesting discussions about privilege, the male gaze, stereotypes and default narrative settings; that being said, my short answer is always going to be an unequivocal yes. Above and beyond the fact that many of my favourite fictional ladies are male creations, I strongly distrust gender essentialism in all its forms, and the idea that women are inherently different, unknowable creatures, such that we exist beyond the true comprehension of men, falls firmly into that category. So, from the outset, let me be clear: male authors are totally, 100% capable of writing a wide variety of awesome female characters, and many of them frequently do just that.

But Rod Rees, I suspect, is not among them.

The utter gobsmacking cluelessness of his approach to the matter can best be summed up in the following quote:

This brought to mind other criticisms. One woman commented on the scene where Odette (a character I introduced in The Demi-Monde: Spring) was admiring her breasts in a mirror by opining that ‘Women don’t do that!’ I was tempted to reply, ‘Oh, yes they do!’

Related Posts:

The cold linkspam of our discontent (June 2013)

I’ve found many wonderful things to read in May, so I will share them with you.  I’ve also switched over to Newsblur, which has a sharing functionality, now that Google Reader is on it’s way out.  It is a paid service (around $26 per year), but awesome.  If you are on Newsblur, look me up, I’m under bluebec.

And onto the articles.  First up this month is “The Suicide Epidemic*obvious trigger warning*:

The fact is, self-harm has become a worldwide concern. This emerged in the new Global Burden of Disease report, published in The Lancet this past December. It’s the largest ever effort to document what ails, injures, and exterminates the species. But allow me to save you the reading. Humankind’s biggest health problem is humankind.

Soraya Chemaly writes in the Huffington Post, “The Problem with ‘Boys Will Be Boys’*trigger warning for discussion around rape*:

I know it’s a lurid metaphor, but I taught my daughter the preschool block precursor of don’t “get raped” and this child, Boy #1, did not learn the preschool equivalent of “don’t rape.

Not once did his parents talk to him about invading another person’s space and claiming for his own purposes something that was not his to claim. Respect for my daughter and her work and words was not something he was learning. It was, to them, some kind of XY entitlement. How much of the boy’s behavior in coming years would be excused in these ways, be calibrated to meet these expectations and enforce the “rules” his parents kept repeating?

There was another boy who, similarly, decided to knock down her castle one day. When he did it his mother took him in hand, explained to him that it was not his to destroy, asked him how he thought my daughter felt after working so hard on her building and walked over with him so he could apologize. That probably wasn’t much fun for him, but he did not do it again.

Some good news from the Climate Spectator, “Australian CO2 emissions hit 10-year low“:

Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions from electricity generation have fallen to a 10-year low as coal-fired power slumped to its lowest level in a decade, a new report says.

At the same time, the share of renewable energy in the National Electricity Market (NEM) has soared beyond 12 per cent and looks set to continue rising.

In its latest quarterly emissions outlook, energy and carbon research firm RepuTex found coal power made up 74.8 per cent of the NEM in the three months ended in March – its lowest point in 10 years.

Coal was at more than 85 per cent of the NEM four years ago, when wind made up just half a per cent of the overall mix.

Today, wind generation is at 3.8 per cent, hydro 8.7 per cent and gas at 12.7 per cent of the NEM.

Alex White at The Guardian writes, “Is the ‘carbon tax’ the reason for the PM’s low popularity, or is it Murdoch?“:

The apocalyptic predictions made by Tony Abbott did not come to pass. The sky didn’t fall. Mining and manufacturing towns weren’t wiped off the map. Regional airlines didn’t double their prices. The carbon price wrecking ball, python strike and cobra squeeze has not impacted Australia’s interest rates, employment levels or inflation.

Support for the carbon price, and opposition to it, narrowed and equalised.

What didn’t happen was an increase in Labor’s vote. Throughout 2011 and 2012, while the carbon price’s stocks fell, Labor’s also remained low. From 1 July 2012, the two numbers decoupled. Labor’s polling remained stuck, while opposition to the carbon price declined and support increased.

This month, we passed an unprecedented milestone: global carbon levels exceeded levels not seen in over 3 million years. The carbon price in Australia has contributed to a 10-year low in carbon emissions. Few in Australia have noticed either turning point. Meanwhile, conservative state governments have quietly been dismantling carbon reduction policies established by the previous Labor governments, wilfully ignoring warnings by the scientific community of the risks.

Amanda Marcotte at The Raw Story writes, “Fringe Misogynists Expose Themselves To The Houston Chronicle“:

That’s why I have mixed feelings about the Houston Chronicle covering the “controversy” over the existence of Women in Secularism. My concern is that the inevitable process of quoting people from “both sides” creates a false equivalence, much like having climate scientists “debate” global warming denialists creates the illusion that there’s a controversy, when in fact it’s more akin to a struggle between reasonable people and irrationalists with an agenda. You see that problem in this piece. The feminist voices are, by and large, mainstream voices of actual experts who are supported by the mainstream secularist community. The anti-feminists are fringe characters who run hate sites and have had the Southern Poverty Law Center look into them. There’s not an authentic conflict here, but more a story about how normal people going about important business are being harassed by fringe characters with nothing of value to say.

Steven Petrow at The New York Times writes, “What Is the Right Way to Come Out as Bisexual at Work?“:

Over the years I’ve frequently heard from my bi friends that it’s harder for them to come out than it is for those of us who are gay or lesbian because of the enduring myths about being bisexual. Stereotypes persist, and many people think that identifying as bi means 1) you’re going through a phase, 2) you’re promiscuous or 3) you’re really gay but not telling the truth. In fact, many of those in our generation of L.G.B.T. people did claim to be bisexual, when we were gay or lesbian all along but not yet ready to acknowledge it even to ourselves. That’s not deceitful; it’s part of coming to terms with your sexuality.

These old stereotypes don’t die easily. They are so alive and well, in fact, that when I posed your question on my Facebook page I was shocked by some of the venomous responses. It was the first time any topic has caused the Facebook algorithm to hide posts because of the language, and I’ve had to edit the remarks heavily to let even these few appear here…

Andy Palmer at The Limping Chicken writes about Matt Dixon’s experience in “I had to tell my dad he was going to die, because he wasn’t given a sign language interpreter”:

Matt remembers how the cancer centre handled the issue of booking further interpreters for his dad. “They asked me to do it and I said I would but only if there were no interpreters available. For all the scans, blood tests and the chemotherapy that followed they never ever booked an interpreter for him again – even though written on the front of Dad’s file, in big red felt pen, it said: PROFOUNDLY DEAF.”

“At the first chemotherapy appointment my dad was all smiles. I asked the receptionist who the interpreter was and she replied ‘Oh, really sorry, we can’t get one.’ I just had to go with the flow. I was used to it from my life communicating for my family and I didn’t know about the Equality Act back then, all that I was bothered about was my dad.”

“I asked them to book an interpreter for the next appointment but they didn’t and that next appointment was for the results of a scan following the first chemotherapy treatment. It was an important meeting to see if the cancer had spread or not. I relayed to my dad, acting once again as his interpreter, that the cancer had not grown.”

Anna P guest posts at Feministe, “How to be an ally with bisexuals“:

  1. Keep in mind that bisexuality exists when considering someone’s possible sexual orientation. If a person is in a same-sex relationship, don’t assume they’re gay. If a person is in an opposite-sex relationship, don’t assume they’re straight. If a person once dated a man but is now dating a woman, or vice versa, don’t assume one of those relationships was a sham and the other represents their true orientation. If a woman is in a sexual relationship with a man, don’t assume anything she does with a woman is just a show put on for his benefit (by the way, don’t forget polyamory exists too.)
  2. Don’t tell someone they’re not really bisexual. You don’t know their feelings. Even if someone has only dated men (or women), it doesn’t mean they’re not also attracted to the other sex.

Charlie Jane Anders at io9 writes, “They mocked her “science fantasy.” Then she wrote Empire Strikes Back.“:

Leigh Brackett wrote the first script draft of Star Wars: The Empire Strikes back, and her contributions helped make the saga epic.

But before Brackett had a major hand in creating the best Star Wars movie, she was a science fiction novelist in the 1940s, writing a slew of space adventure novels with titles like The Starmen and Alpha Centauri or Die!. People called her the Queen of Space Opera — and it was not always a compliment.

At that time, space opera (like Star Wars) was looked down upon as less worthy of appreciation than other types of pulp fiction, including other types of science fiction. Brackett also wrote a lot of pulp crime fiction, and had co-written the screenplay for The Big Sleepwith William Faulkner. But she chose to spend a lot of her time writing these despised novels.

David Wong at Cracked writes, “The 5 Ugly Lessons Hiding in Every Superhero Movie“:

Superman’s awesome crystal fortress in the arctic isn’t called Fort CrystalPunch or Castle SuperPenis or Superman’s Ice Hole. It’s called the freaking Fortress of Solitude. Yes, you’re immortal and impossibly strong and can shoot lasers from your eyes, clearly you need a place to be alone, where you can quietly weep and write your poetry about how the world is a cruel, frozen wasteland.

But solitude is a requirement in these stories. Tony Stark literally has to have his secretary perform heart gadget surgery because, in his own words, “I don’t have anyone but you.”

Jason Bailey at Flavorwire writes, “Guess What: Hollywood’s ‘Bridesmaids’ Revolution Never Happened“:

Hey, remember back when Bridesmaids came out, and everybody was all, “It’s your social responsibility to support female-driven comedy,” and then it was a hit, so yay for funny ladies? And then The Hunger Games came out, and everybody was all, “It’s your social responsibility to support a female-driven blockbuster,” and then it was a hit, so yay for lady ass-kickers? Well, as it turns out, none of that mattered a lick, because according to a study released yesterday by the USC Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism, female representation in popular films is at its lowest level in five years. So thanks for nothing, Hollywood.

For those who are Goodies fans like me, a bit of history on the BT Tower (famously knocked over by Twinkle in Kitten Kong), an article written by Joe Fay at The Register, “BT Tower is just a relic? Wrong: It relays 18,000hrs of telly daily“:

Moving on to the present day, the tower is arguably still the most important communications nerve centre in the UK, but this has little to do with its original purpose.

It started life as The Post Office Tower: a radio mast designed as a hub for a national microwave network that was seen as the future of telecoms.

It was officially opened in 1965, four years after construction started. According to a wonderful 1970 brochure BT gave us, the spire – later renamed the BT Tower – was expected to provide four microwave paths, carrying “150,000 simultaneous telephone conversations or 100 both-way television channels”.

Cliff Pervocracy at The Pervocracy writes, “What I Mean When I Say I’m Sex-Positive“:

I’m sex-positive!

And I’m realizing that’s a painfully ambiguous term.  I’ve seen people use it to mean everything from “not viewing sex as inherently evil” to “insisting that everyone should have tons of orgasms and it’ll solve all their problems.”  You can see how people using the first definition could have some seriously unproductive arguments with people thinking they’re using the second.

About the “orgasms for everyone!” thing.  It’s not entirely a strawman.  I once saw a presentation by Annie Sprinkle (who clearly wrote her own Wikipedia page) where she basically argued that we would have world peace and feminist utopia if everyone in all the armies just fucked and had orgasms instead.   It’s superficially sweet-sounding–yay, pleasure!–but there’s some really obvious problems.  Not everyone can have orgasms, not everyone wants orgasms, and there are lots of people who have fabulous orgasms but they’re still assholes.

Over at The Hawkeye Initiative, “Special Guest Edition: The Hawkeye Initiative IRL!“:

work with an all-female team of data scientists, in the gaming industry. This makes me the professional equivalent of Amelia Earhart riding the Loch Ness Monster.

I love my job. Our company in particular is great. Firstly, our game (HAWKEN) is beautiful and people love it. Secondly, half of our executive branch is female. Half of them are punk rock, and all of them are badassed. Our gender awareness standards, compared to the industry at large, are top shelf. We are talking Amelia Earhart in Atlantis, at a five star resort, getting a mani-pedi from Jensen Ackles. I have it good.

For the last six months of my tenure at Meteor Entertainment, there has been only one thing I did not love about my job.

Felicia Day writes, “Star Trek Movie: SPOILERZZZZ“:

Where are the women?  The strong women?  The women we’d like to see in 200 years?  Where are they in this world?  They certainly aren’t around the roundtable when the Starfleet are learning about Khan (there might have been one in that scene, if so that extra was not cut to in any significant manner to be notable.)  In the scene where Kirk gets his ship back and the admiral is having a meeting with “important” people around a table later, I failed to see ONE WOMAN AROUND THAT TABLE, ALL MOSTLY WHITE MEN IMPLIED TO BE MAKING IMPORTANT DECISIONS TOGETHER.  Yes, these are just scenes with extras, but seriously, in the future not one woman over 40 is in charge in this world?!  How can that happen?

For main characters, Uhura had a FEW nice scenes (as a vehicle to humanize Spock mostly), but that other woman character was the WORST damsel in distress ever.  I kept waiting for her turn, waiting for her to not be the victim, to be a bit cleverer, to add to the equation in a “yeah you go girl” way but no, she was there to be sufficiently sexy that Kirk would acknowledge her existence, to be pretty, to serve the plot.  I loved her bob.  That’s it.  What if she had been a less attractive woman, older, overweight?  A tomboy?  Wouldn’t have that been a tad more interesting choice?  Or at least give her a moment where she’s not a princess waiting to be saved.  From a director who is so amazing, who created wonderful female characters in Alias and Felicity, I was super bummed by this.  A woman character CAN exist without having to be sexually desired by the guy.  Oh, and she doesn’t have to be a lesbian either, OMG WHAT A SURPRISING IDEA!

Jane J Lee at National Geographic writes, “6 Women Scientists Who Were Snubbed Due to Sexism“:

Over the centuries, female researchers have had towork as “volunteer” faculty members, seen credit for significant discoveries they’ve made assigned to male colleagues, and been written out of textbooks.

They typically had paltry resources and fought uphill battles to achieve what they did, only “to have the credit attributed to their husbands or male colleagues,” said Anne Lincoln, a sociologist at Southern Methodist University in Texas, who studies biases against women in the sciences.

Today’s women scientists believe that attitudes have changed, said Laura Hoopes at Pomona College in California, who has written extensively on women in the sciences—”until it hits them in the face.” Bias against female scientists is less overt, but it has not gone away.

Here are six female researchers who did groundbreaking work—and whose names are likely unfamiliar for one reason: because they are women.

Saman Shad at SBS World News writes, “Comment: Why are we debating ‘blackface’ in 2013?“:

But the question remains are we throwing the word ‘racist’ around willy-nilly? I guess the same question can be asked for sexism. Can a guy at work no longer comment on his female colleague’s legs and say that she’s got great pins? No. It makes the woman feel uncomfortable, it casts her as an object. This is a base comparison but for some it can help to understand the same stands true when the word racist is said. If something you said makes an outdated assumption or objectifies a person of colour then it’s probably racist.

A video on ABC News of one of their news cadets who happens to be blind, and the accommodations the ABC has put in place to help her do her job.  Sadly the manager is a bit trope-y about how inspiring Nas Campanella is, and how a sighted person couldn’t possibly manage the way Nas can.  Sadly the video isn’t captioned (that I can see).

At [insert literary reference], “Why Do Men Keep Putting Me in the Girlfriend-Zone?“:

You know how it is, right, ladies? You know a guy for a while. You hang out with him. You do fun things with him—play video games, watch movies, go hiking, go to concerts. You invite him to your parties. You listen to his problems. You do all this because you think he wants to be your friend.

But then, then comes the fateful moment where you find out that all this time, he’s only seen you as a potential girlfriend. And then if you turn him down, he may never speak to you again. This has happened to me time after time: I hit it off with a guy, and, for all that I’ve been burned in the past, I start to think that this one might actually care about me as a person. And then he asks me on a date.

An interesting discussion in The Economist about “The plough and the now“, how farming techniques may have led to patriarchy:

FERNAND BRAUDEL, a renowned French historian, once described a remarkable transformation in the society of ancient Mesopotamia. Sometime before the end of the fifth millennium BC, he wrote, the fertile region between the Tigris and the Euphrates went from being one that worshipped “all-powerful mother goddesses” to one where it was “the male gods and priests who were predominant in Sumer and Babylon.” The cause of this move from matriarchy, Mr Braudel argued, was neither a change in law nor a wholesale reorganisation of politics. Rather, it was a fundamental change in the technology the Mesopotamians used to produce food: the adoption of the plough.

The plough was heavier than the tools formerly used by farmers. By demanding significantly more upper-body strength than hoes did, it gave men an advantage over women. According to Mr Braudel, women in ancient Mesopotamia had previously been in charge of the fields and gardens where cereals were grown. With the advent of the plough, however, farming became the work of men. A new paper* by Alberto Alesina and Nathan Nunn of Harvard University and Paola Giuliano of the University of California, Los Angeles, finds striking evidence that ancient agricultural techniques have very long-lasting effects.

Kameron Hurley at A Dribble of Ink has written, “‘We Have Always Fought’: Challenging the ‘Women, Cattle and Slaves’ Narrative“, possibly one of my favourite posts of this year, and certainly one which has reminded me I need to write two novels:

When I sat down with one of my senior professors in Durban, South Africa to talk about my Master’s thesis, he asked me why I wanted to write about women resistance fighters.

“Because women made up twenty percent of the ANC’s militant wing!” I gushed. “Twenty percent! When I found that out I couldn’t believe it. And you know – women have never been part of fighting forces –”

He interrupted me. “Women have always fought,” he said.

“What?” I said.

“Women have always fought,” he said. “Shaka Zulu had an all-female force of fighters. Women have been part of every resistance movement. Women dressed as men and went to war, went to sea, and participated actively in combat for as long as there have been people.”

And now to bra fitting (UK sizing used), Sam at A Thousand Angsty Whales, all pumping iron (best blog title ever) writes, “DO IT NOW: Guide to Proper Bra Fit and Measuring because Victoria Secret and La Senza and whatever are full of shit and you are definitely wearing the wrong size ok? ok“.

Ann Aguirre writes, “This week in SF“:

So yeah. The audience noticed. I had slightly better experiences at WorldCon and ArmadilloCon, but I suspect it wasn’t as bad because I was roaming around with Sharon Shinn, who has more power and cachet than I had at that time. But I still encountered more than my share of fans, who dismissed my work. At that point, I was disheartened, and I stopped attending SFF cons entirely. I decided I’d rather spend my travel money otherwise. To quote my wonderful friend, Lauren Dane, “If I want to feel bad about myself, I’ll go swimsuit shopping.” My professional work shouldn’t be impacted by my gender, my appearance, my religion, my sexuality, my skin tone, or any other factor. The fact that it is? Makes me so very sad. I’ve had readers and writers stare at my rack instead of my face while “teaching” me how to suck eggs.

I’ve been fighting this battle for five years now.

Marianne at xojane writes, “Go On And Call Me Fat; It’s True“:

There is something incredibly powerful about seeing the word “fat” in print (metaphorical though that print may be in a virtual environment) when it isn’t attached to pictures of headless fatties and headlines about my impending death — and how much I’m costing society just by existing. It’s almost like feeling that our culture doesn’t want to eradicate me and my body.

That’s not a message I get anywhere else.

I use the word “fat” a whole hell of a lot. I use it so often that the predictive text on my cell phone inserts “fat” even when I mean “day” — which leads to tweets like “What I am going to do on this beautiful fat?”

Some friends and I even call each other “Fatty” — as in, “Hey, Fatty! Come eat this food with me.” Or whatever. Fatties do a lot of different things.

Stephanie Pappas at Scientific American writes, “New Sexual Revolution: Polyamory May Be Good for You“:

“People in these relationships really communicate. They communicate to death,” said Bjarne Holmes, a psychologist at Champlain College in Vermont. All of that negotiation may hold a lesson for the monogamously inclined, Holmes told LiveScience.

“They are potentially doing quite a lot of things that could turn out to be things that if people who are practicing monogamy did more of, their relationships would actually be better off,” Holmes said.

And finally a storify of Twitter comments (all positive) made during and after a talk by Anita Sarkeesian from Feminist Frequency regarding online harassment.

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Let’s talk about shame

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.

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