Tag Archives: catholic

Marriage Equality – again

So last night the Liberal Party and the National Party held a meeting for over 5 hours to discuss whether or not the party would allow a free conscience vote (which still would have not gotten the required numbers over the line) or whether they’d all vote as a block and therefore and vote No.  The block voting won (in case you didn’t know).

Not enough has been said about this debate taking over 5 hours in my opinion.  Over 5 hours.

I hate meetings at the best of times, finding them an incredible waste of time when I could be doing the stuff that is discussed, but this meeting went FOR OVER 5 HOURS.  That’s 5 hours of impassioned debate about an issue that is important (not the most important, but still).  An issue that is capturing the world’s attention.  An issue that reduces the active amount of discrimination in the world.  A few years ago, we would have been lucky if that party room discussion went for an hour.

Just this year Ireland, the United States of America and Mexico have allowed same-sex marriage, adding to a long list of countries in which it is already legal.  The referendum in Ireland with the majority of voters voting yes, and the Supreme Court decision in the USA have been big drivers to get marriage equality back into Parliamentary debate here in Australia, and it’s not going anywhere soon

I’m grateful that some LNP politicians have my back on at least one issue that can affect me.  I’m not generally the type to support the LNP (queer, left leaning woman who is big on social justice), but it’s good to see that some of the party has actively thought about what is good for Australia and Australians and decided that if over 70% of Australians support marriage equality, then perhaps that’s something that should be recognised.

Now I’m going to take a small detour here and talk about some bigoted arsehats who have weighed in on this debate in one for or another recently.  This is where the post is going to be long, but will hopefully still make sense.  Ok, I’m ranting, leave me my ranting space.

New South Wales Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells (Liberal)

Fierravanti-Wells told the party room yesterday that:

…she believed opinion polls showing majority support for legalising same-sex marriage did not reflect the views of a “silent majority” of Australian voters.

She said changing the marriage laws – or being seen to condone change – would cost the Coalition seats at the next election.

The senator referred to an analysis she had undertaken which identified marginal seats with high percentages of religious voters.

A copy of the analysis, dated July 3, lists 14 seats across New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria and Tasmania with relatively high proportions of Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican, Muslim or Buddhist voters or overseas-born voters from ethnic communities likely to oppose same-sex marriage.

In a written foreword to her analysis, Senator Fierravanti-Wells, the parliamentary secretary for social services, also responsible for multicultural affairs, says she believes there is strong opposition among culturally and religiously diverse communities to changing the marriage laws.

Ok, let’s just start with a majority says X, so a “silent majority” says Y.  I’m not convinced that Fierravanti-Wells does maths.  Also, I’m not convinced that Fierravanti-Wells has actually spoken to anyone of these people she’s using to support her argument against marriage equality.  She claims that:

She notes that faith leaders from across Australia had written to the Government in June, objecting to any change.

Her analysis includes the western Sydney seat of Barton, the Liberals’ most marginal seat, held by Liberal Nickolas Varvaris on 50.31 per cent.

She says Barton has nearly eight times the proportion of eastern Orthodox constituents than the national average, four times the proportion of Muslims, a higher-than-average Greek population and fewer who said they had “no religion”.

Other western Sydney marginal seats included are Reid, Werriwa, Banks and Parramatta.

The analysis says Parramatta, held by Labor’s Julie Owens on 50.57 per cent, is 25 per cent Catholic, has 10 times the national average of voters identifying as Hindu, four times the rate identifying as Islamic and higher-than-average percentages of those born in India and Lebanon.

The first issue here is that Faith Leaders don’t represent the believes and feelings of their flocks.  I know they claim they do, but you get the Catholic and some Anglican faith leaders in Australia being bigoted arsehats, and most Catholics and Anglicans actually supporting marriage equality.  Not knowing a large number of Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims or Orthodox people, I cannot claim to know what they do and do not support, however I do note that the majority of Australians support marriage equality, and that is something that really should be taken into account.

I know I’ve said that majority of Australians more than once tonight, so let’s get that data for you.  From a report in The Age in July 2015:

Support among Australians for same-sex marriage and for a conscience vote in the Coalition has reached an all-time high, according to a survey by the Liberal Party’s own pollster.

A Crosby Textor poll, commissioned by Australian Marriage Equality, has found that 72 per cent of Australians want same-sex marriage legalised, while 77 per cent think Coalition MPs should be granted a conscience vote.

The survey by the Liberal Party’s national pollster finds support for marriage equality is increasing among Australians, up from 65 per cent in a Nielsen poll last August.

It shows opposition to same-sex marriage has collapsed, with just one in five Australians or 21 per cent opposed, marking Parliament as increasingly out of step with the views of the majority of Australians.

According to the poll, support for same-sex marriage is now higher in Australia than it was in any other country, including New Zealand and Great Britain, when overseas parliaments have passed marriage equality laws.

And if you want something a little more recent than July this year, from Australian Marriage Equality (August 2015):

Marriage equality advocates have welcomed a new poll showing almost 60% of Australians believe marriage equality is a medium to high priority.

The poll, conducted for anti-marriage equality group, the Marriage Alliance, found that marriage equality is, on average, the 13th most important issue for Australians, about the same level of priority given to agriculture, taxation and asylum seekers.

59% of poll respondents said marriage equality is a priority, made up of 24% who said marriage equality it is a high priority and 35% said it is a medium priority. Only 39% said it is low a priority.

So even when organisations against marriage equality are attempting to poll against marriage equality, they can’t do it.

Charitably I could believe that Fierravanti-Wells really did care about the numbers and how the LNP will poll in the next election, but didn’t actually consider what she was saying – which effectively is that all religious and culturally diverse people are happy to discriminate against same-sex attracted people when it comes to marriage (or in short-hand that they are bigots).  I’m positive that this is not the case.

Kevin Donnelly

I’ve blogged about Donnelly before, he has a track record of being racist, and now he’s adding homophobic to the list.  I haven’t even read the article, I didn’t need to after seeing this headline, “Abbott made the right call on same-sex marriage“.

Donnelly tries to be clever and epically fails:

This is especially the case as many of the arguments in favour of same-sex marriage are flawed. Those wanting change argue that defining marriage as involving a man and a woman discriminates against lesbians and homosexuals.

Ignored is that there are many examples where society and the law allow discrimination to occur. Women-only gyms and clubs are allowed to exclude men and those under 18 are not allowed to view X-rated films and videos.

Yes, defining marriage as only involving a man and a woman discriminates against gay men, lesbian women, bisexual people and trans people.  It’s ok Donnelly, I’m glad you forgot some of us.  The less you think about us the better off we’ll all be.

Ignored is the fact that Donnelly doesn’t understand that not all discrimination is harmful, and that children are to be protected against things that harm them.  Let’s work on the first one.  Women only gyms.  Women are far more likely to be sexually assaulted by men than the other way around.  Therefore in the interest of safety, women only gyms exist, where men are discriminated against to protect women.  When men stop assaulting women at the current rates, then it is possible the need for women only gyms will go away.

Marriage equality harms no one, and the discrimination against same-sex coupled people who’d like to marry harms them.

Children and pornography.  I don’t even with this one Donnelly.  We have lots of laws to protect children, we have laws about who they can have sex with, we have laws about them having to go to school, we have laws about the mandatory reporting of abuse, we have laws that can result in them being removed from their homes.  It is believed that pornography will harm children, therefore children cannot see pornography.  I note that Donnelly isn’t complaining about any other laws relating to children, so I wonder why that is.

Many on the cultural left, often the strongest supporters of same-sex marriage, also argue in favour of positive discrimination where they believe some people should be treated differently to others.

Because Donnelly doesn’t understand the difference between equality and justice/equity, I give you the following image:

First image – three people are standing on boxes looking over a fence to watch a baseball game. The tallest and second tallest can see over the fence. The shortest cannot. Second image – Three people are watching a baseball game over a fence. The tallest can see over the fence. The second tallest is standing on one box to see over the fence. The shortest is standing on two boxes to see over the fence.

This is why we suggest that some people should be treated more positively – because they are coming from further behind that others.  Many people are coming from further behind than Kevin Donnelly, as we’re not all straight, white men with a platform to be vilely racist and homophobic.

Also ignored, for all intents and purposes, is that gays and lesbians already have the same rights as de-facto heterosexual couples.

Also ignored by Donnelly is that not all same-sex attracted people want to marry, but denying those who do is harmful.  Sure we can live in defacto relationships, and we do right now, but that isn’t the same as marriage.  If it was, then we wouldn’t be having this debate.

A second strategy employed by same-sex marriage advocates is to argue that anyone who disagrees is bigoted and homophobic. Wrong. The reality is that many of those opposed to redefining marriage do so for sound and carefully thought through reasons.

I love this comment, it is a comment I see all the time.  “I’m not bigoted and homophobic, I’ve thought about some really good reasons why I oppose granting rights to same-sex attracted people that would do me no harm whatsoever.”  I am also yet to meet a good argument against same-sex marriage that doesn’t in the end reduce down to either “my religion is homophobic, not me”, or “because gay sex is icky” which are both homophobic.

As Andrew P Street wrote, “And if you are, in fact, a bigot, then it shouldn’t bother you that people are accurately assessing your shortcomings as a human being on the basis of the things you believe, based on the stuff you say.”  Donnelly continues:

When arguing that the definition of marriage must be changed to include same-sex couples, advocates often argue that the love between a man and a man and a woman and a woman is the same as that experienced by heterosexuals.

From a biological point of view, such is clearly not the case. Such is the physiology involved in procreation, and not withstanding the availability of surrogacy and in vitro fertilisation, that it requires a man and a woman. The optimum environment in which to raise a child also involves a mother and a father.

Oh yeah, I forgot the third way, the reproductive argument.  If two people of the same gender can’t have children, their relationship is worth less than those that can, because apparently all we’re about is having children.  Let’s not look at the treatment of those children by heterosexual people. Let’s especially not look at the really positive outcomes for children raised by same-sex parents.  Let’s leave Donnelly to his little bigoted world where LGBTI people are worse people than heterosexual people.  He’s wrong of course, we’re pretty fucking awesome.

Michael Jensen

This piece is from May and I’ve been putting off on blogging about it because it’s so full of complete and utter rubbish that it isn’t really worth mentioning – except that it’s another white, Christian man telling us that he isn’t really a bigot for not supporting marriage equality, “I oppose same-sex marriage (and no, I’m not a bigot)“:

How could anyone stand opposed? The terms in which the pro-marriage redefinition case are stated make it sound as inevitable as the dawn, and as unstoppable as the tide. And these same terms make opposing a redefinition of marriage sound primitive and even barbaric. There are those in favour of change, we are told, and then there are the bigots.

I do wonder how anyone can stand opposed without actually being a bigot.

It is not even the case that “all the surveys say Australians want it” is a sufficient argument. The surveys say that Australians want capital punishment. Wisely, our politicians don’t listen to surveys on that issue (and I agree with them). They should exercise leadership, not follow opinion.

I’ve seen this argument before and it’s an interesting one.  It’s particularly fascinating that the death penalty is brought into an argument, to contrast something where no one gets hurt.  On one side you have the violent end of someone’s life, on the other side you have two consenting adults committing to their relationship in front of family and friends, and having the Government, and other bodies that need to, recognising that relationship legally.  It’s not like they are even remotely in the same class of things.

Should the Australian Government listen to the people in all things?  Should the Australian Government take the lead on some things so that the better interest is served?  Wouldn’t it be best if the Australian Government was abolitionist on the death penalty and in support of marriage equality?  The Australian Government should be about the best human rights that we can grant to each other.  That includes being abolitionist on the death penalty and in support of marriage equality.  There we go, I solved that one for you.

In fact, it may be the case that offering supposedly “equal” treatment is incoherent, as it is in this case. It is crucial to notice that the proposed revision of marriage laws involves exactly that: a revision of marriage. In order to offer the status of marriage to couples of the same sex, the very meaning of marriage has to be changed. In which case, what same-sex couples will have will not be the same as what differently sexed couples now have.

Except that marriage has changed multiple times over millennia and the world didn’t end.  Men used to marry their property, which then begat more property which they’d consent to have married off to other men, unless some of that property were male, in which case they’d become human whenever the age of adulthood was at that time.  Men now marry women, and both people have to consent to the marriage.  Men used to also marry lots of property, they’d have multiple property all over the place, sometimes it mattered if the property consented to more property being married, sometimes it didn’t.  It used to be that you couldn’t marry without your parents’ consent, and most marriages were arranged.

If marriage can change to be what it is now, then it can change to include same-sex couples who want to marry.

This is where Bill Shorten again misunderstands what marriage is. As we now understand it, marriage is not merely the expression of a love people have for each other. It is, or is intended as, a life-long union between two people who exemplify the biological duality of the human race, with the openness to welcoming children into the world. Even when children do not arrive, the differentiated twoness of marriage indicates its inherent structure.

Blah, blah, blah – see argument about children above. Also, to erase other gendered people from the conversation is an arse move Mr Jensen.

Look I really don’t understand why so many people are frightened of marriage equality.  If it creates something new, something that currently discriminated people can engage in, what is the problem with that?  Do so many of these bigots believe that the moment marriage equality is granted those who would have otherwise married someone of the opposite sex will suddenly rush out and go and marry someone of the same sex?  Do they think that being queer is contagious and it’s only the shame of being queer, and the inability to marry that keeps opposite sex marriage going?  Do they think that suddenly everyone will stop having children, or start ignoring children, and suddenly there won’t be a human race any more?

There are FAR more important issues facing the earth today than marriage equality.  Granting marriage equality makes the lives of many of my queer siblings better.  It does not save the environment, it does not refreeze the glaciers, it does not bring endangered creatures back from the brink of extinction.  It certainly doesn’t help asylum seekers or bring peace to nations at war.  It does make a difference though, and that difference is one that has been made in many other places already and it helps.

Granting marriage equality helps, and granting it means that people like me can marry if they want.  Families can recognise the relationships of their children and parents.  Relationships that until relatively recently were looked at as deviant and different can instead be shown to be as valued as the opposite sex relationships they are surrounded by.  It means that children who are growing up queer know that if they wish to get married and be like their friends in opposite sex relationships, they can.  Think of the children, think of those who you’re denying the ability to be normal.

 

 

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Let’s talk about abortion – again

Because we should never tire of talking about people’s individual right to make their own medical decisions, their own choices about their body, and their own life choices (as a collective, of course as individuals, we probably all get tired of this at some time or another).

So the new Pope, who was reported on Friday as being more “meh” about abortion because the Catholic Church had done that to death recently, and all the other good messages in the fresh and fragrant Gospels (his words not mine) were being lost in the “thou shalt not” stance of the church, came out today condemning abortion in order to placate the hardliners in the Church who thought that the Pope was being soft on abortion.  Because there is nothing more inspiring that someone saying, “yeah I know, this message is getting old and there are other things we should be talking about, but did you know that WE HATE ABORTION?”

Of course people only have abortions because of convenience according to the Pope:

Pope Francis offered an olive branch of sorts to the doctrine-minded, conservative wing of the Catholic church on Friday, when he denounced abortions as a symptom of today’s “throw-away culture” and encouraged Catholic doctors to refuse to perform them.

which as we all know is complete bollocks.  I had an abortion to save my life, an abortion that would not have been performed in the hospital I had first arrived at, Saint Vincents, despite the fact that I was internally hemorrhaging and had I been left untreated I would have died.  I know other people who have had abortions because they believed that they were not capable of being parents at that time. I know people who have had abortions because being pregnant would cause a myriad of potentially fatal health issues.  I know people who have had abortions because they could not afford to have a child.  I know people who have had abortions because they were mortally afraid of being pregnant and having children.  All these issues and more do not make up a “throw-away culture”.  I don’t know anyone who has medical procedures for the fun of it.

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”.

He did repeat it on Friday, however. In his comments, Francis denounced today’s “throw-away culture” that justifies disposing of lives, and said doctors in particular had been forced into situations where they are called to “not respect life.”

“Every child that isn’t born, but is unjustly condemned to be aborted, has the face of Jesus Christ, has the face of the Lord,” he said.

He urged the gynaecologists to abide by their consciences and help bring lives into the world. “Things have a price and can be for sale, but people have a dignity that is priceless and worth far more than things,” he said. (The Guardian)

I certainly feel secure in my medical treatment knowing that there are doctors out there who do not have my best interests at heart.  I certainly feel welcome in the Catholic Church, an institution that does not trust women to be able to make up their own minds on issues.  I completely trust a religious institution that tells me that sex must have consequences for those who are fertile and have uteri.

The Catholic Church has consistently been anti-choice for as long as abortion has been a public issue, they are at least consistent with that.  They’ve consistently been on the side of a cluster of cells that cannot survive outside the individual it is growing in (while consuming their blood, energy and nutrition), instead of the individual who may or may not want that cluster of cells.  They have been consistently on the side of sex having consequences for those with uteri, instead of celebrating that sex is good for you, and consensual sex without consequences actually improves the wellbeing of everyone.  They have been on the side of that cluster of cells, instead on the side of families and individuals who are already struggling with poverty, disease, an excess of children, or immediate health consequences.

So eager is the Catholic Church to see more children born, that even in cases where the embryo is non-viable, they will still attempt to block access to abortion if at all possible.  We know that the Catholic Church will block access to abortion too when there is the choice between saving the mother’s life or leaving her pregnant and dead.

Every time I think that the Catholic Church might begin to reform, this shit comes up and I swear off it even further than I already have.  An organisation of men who think they know what is best for women – sounds similar to our own Government right now, but still – the Catholic Church is not a friend to those with uteri, and if you are a member of it, you need to remember that if you ever need to assert your right to your body.

Other useful reading by Libby Anne at Love Joy Feminism on this topic:

 

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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”.

Related Posts:

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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The moral high ground

Recently I was listening to a conversation between my mother and my sister.  My mother had given up on convincing me to join her at church that Sunday and was talking to my sister instead, hoping to convince her.  My sister patiently explained that she had rather big issues with the way the Catholic Church was operating, their classification of sins, their treatment of women, and their lack of action regarding the abuse by priests of children and others.  My mother immediately deflected criticism of an organisation she identifies with, and replied that the church was made up of people, and people are falible, and hey what about that organisation that you belong to, I bet they’re not perfect either.

It took me a while to unpack all that and why it was so wrong, and when it came to me, the response was perfect (and also a few days too late).  You see, most organisations that people belong to don’t make claims that they’re the moral arbiters for the entire world.

Continue reading The moral high ground

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Boys [and girls] should be taught [that all] sex abuse is wrong

*trigger warning for rape and sexual abuse*

So today’s WTF appears courtesy of Paul Mullen, Emeritus Professor of Forensic Psychiatry at Monash University. He’s attributed by the Age as saying:

Sex education should be expanded to teach young men not to sexually abuse children, a forensic psychiatrist has told a parliamentary inquiry in Victoria.

Paul Mullen, emeritus professor of forensic psychiatry at Monash University and the former clinical director of Forensicare, told the inquiry into the handling of child abuse that sex education needed to be revamped to prevent it.

Children “get a lot of detail, liberal sentiments, about gay or straight lifestyles. They get nothing, absolutely nothing, about the sexual abuse of children and boys’ and men’s responsibility not to perpetrate that activity,” Emeritus Professor Mullen said.

Now granted this is at the Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry into the Catholic Church’s handling of rape and sexual abuse of children, but really any such statement should be broadened that all rape and sexual abuse against anyone regardless of age of gender is wrong and people should be educated in relation to that.

It’s not like Catholic Priests didn’t also rape adult women, and hush that up or suggest that perhaps it was the woman’s fault.

So Emeritus Professor Paul Mullen, what we need is education for everyone, regardless of gender, that explicitly states that the sexual abuse of anyone is wrong.  Given the high percentage of male perpetrators of sexual violence, the education should definitely be, “don’t be that guy“, but also that being raped or sexually assaulted is never the fault of the victim, but always the fault of the perpetrator.

These are important messages, and I am concerned that Emeritus Professor Paul only narrowly targeted his message when he had the opportunity to address a broader societal issue that ties into the issues of Catholic Clergy sexual abuse.

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The Vatican and “reality”

Apparently the Vatican still having conniptions about the fact that the rest of the Western world is not listening to them and are continuing to recognise same-sex relationships, granting people who are attracted to those of the same sex rights equivalent to those who are opposite sex attracted.  And they just won’t stand for it – in order to let everyone know how unhappy they are, and how absolutely morally abhorrent they consider same-sex attraction to be, they came out and said (mid December 2012):

Monday’s edition of Osservatore Romano, the official newspaper of the Vatican, features a front-page editorial attacking French Catholic magazine Temoignage Chretien (“Christian Witness”) for supporting marriage equality. The editorialclaims that same-sex couples exist in “a different reality” because they are unable to conceive children, and goes on to claim that marriage equality is part of some socialist “utopia”:

Saying that marriage between a woman and a man is equal to that between two homosexuals is, in fact, a denial of the truth that affects one of the basic structures of human society, the family. We cannot base a society on these foundations without then paying a very high price as happened in the past when there was an attempt to achieve total economic and social equality. Why repeat the same mistake and chase after an unattainable utopia? [(emphasis in original) from ThinkProgress]

It’s taken me a while to write this because every time I’ve thought about it, I’ve just struggled to understand where exactly the Vatican thinks it exists, what century they think it is, and why they think that anyone is going to listen to a bunch of old men in frocks who think that same sex relationships, and the ordination of women are worse or equivalent sins to Catholic Priests raping children and and adults.

Continue reading The Vatican and “reality”

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