A few months ago I was having a conversation about the difference between some forms of Western Spirituality and Eastern Spirituality, and why some Westerners are so attracted to forms of Eastern Spirituality. In the end, we reached the conclusion that it might be due to some forms of Eastern Spirituality focusing on being present in the body and most forms of Western Spirituality essentially viewing the body as an evil necessity before you move onto the afterlife.
This then tied into some thoughts I had about yoga, and then some more thoughts I had when my yoga instructor told the class to be and feel heavy, to let our weight sink into the floor, and to let our legs and feet support us, not our shoulders or neck. The mindfullness meditation that I do from time to time, also focuses on being in the body, on being present in the moment, and focusing on the breath, on the sensations of sitting or lying still for a period.
This blog post, which I will attempt to selectively quote from, pretty much sums up my experience of Christian teachings (Catholic for the most part) in relation to the body versus the soul:
Many of the early church Fathers were educated in Greek philosophy or came under its influence. The result was an amalgamation of Christian theology with Greek philosophy.
The theology of the early Middle Ages was dominated by the towering figure of Augustine of Hippo, who completed the fusion of the Pauline emphasis of sin and grace through faith with a Neoplatonic view of man that stressed the imprisonment of the soul in the body. This dualism led to an increasing asceticism in the life of the medieval church, which meant an attitude of indifference or even outright hostility toward the body. The official theology of the church concentrated on getting the soul of the believer into heaven, through the Sacraments, or at least on saving it from hell, as the doctrine of purgatory developed. —James N. Lapsley, Salvation and Health, p.39.
Coming down to the medieval period, Lapsley continues:
If the health of the body was not forgotten, it was once again generally relegated to the status of a matter of relative indifference, which might as well be sacrificed to gain eternal bliss. This was the situation that obtained as Martin Luther grew toward manhood at the turn of the sixteenth century. —Ibid., p.41.
The medieval church did not understand what the New Testament meant by “flesh” and “spirit.” In real Greek fashion she understood these terms to designate two parts of man — the higher and lower natures. Since things like body, work, eating and sexuality belonged to the “flesh,” they were regarded as inferior functions, if not tainted with evil. On the other hand, prayers, fasting, celibacy and religious tasks were regarded as “spiritual” and therefore superior, if not meritorious.
Or a concept of “soul-salvation” which is not a “whole-salvation” can lead people to think that since God is not very concerned with the body, neither should they be too concerned about how they treat the body. It is amazing how many Christians think that they display their spirituality by neglecting the body. If they hasten a coronary by bad living habits, they think that this will be a good testimony of their dedication to the Lord’s work.
It makes sense then that those people attracted to religions and forms of spirituality that focus on being present in your own body, treating it well, and stepping gently on the world around you, are not going to be attracted to Christianity necessarily. It makes sense that people who want to look after themselves, their environment, and their planet are attracted to forms of belief, exercise and spirituality that support those things.
This is, in part, why I do yoga as a form of exercise. It’s one that recognises my body, my journey through life, my ability, and is patient with where I am at today. I am not after the spiritual aspects of yoga, but being a form of meditation and exercise that developed from Hindu, Buddhist and Jain philosophy, it is differently grounded to the philosophies that I grew up with. When I did ballet as a child, we were not taught to move with our breath, to ground ourselves and be connected to the ground we stood on, and we were not taught how to breathe properly (being a singer helped there). Instead we were taught to be as light as air (which is funny in retrospect), to glide, gracefully above the earth as if we were not made from it. Fencing, my preferred form of competitive sport, is again a sport about being light, and nimble – and one not designed so well for women, but that’s a different story.
To take up room, to be heavy, to be your body are radical notions in Western Christian philosophy where the body is seen as something that carries around the soul while you do enough good deeds to get into your deity’s good books before being allowed to be rewarded with heaven after you die.
Oh, and I chose the title of this blog, as one of the worst lines in the Bible – the need to sleep, to eat, to live are seen as a weakness versus things that actually need to be addressed.
We come to the end of a rather hot summer, though the past few days have been spring/autumn like (for a change), and I have been remiss, because I’ve been busy, in putting together my collection of interesting links and stuff to share. So here it is.
Philip Guo at Slate writes, “Silent Technical Privilege“:
OK, all of the above was a lie. With one exception: That is me in the photo. When it was taken, I didn’t even know how to touch-type. My parents were just like, “Quick, pose in front of our new computer!” (Look closely. My fingers aren’t even in the right position.) My parents were both humanities majors, and there wasn’t a single programming book in my house. In sixth grade I tried teaching myself BASIC for a few weeks, but quit because it was too hard. The only real exposure I had to programming prior to college was taking AP computer science in 11th grade, taught by a math teacher who had learned the material only a month before class started. Despite its shortcomings, that class inspired me to major in computer science in college. But when I started freshman year at MIT, I felt a bit anxious because many of my classmates actually did have over 10 years of childhood programming experience; I had less than one.
Even though I didn’t grow up in a tech-savvy household and couldn’t code my way out of a paper bag, I had one big thing going for me: I looked like I was good at programming.
At Politically Homeless, “Scott Morrison should be sacked“:
It strains credibility that the Navy veered off course and did not realise its vessels were in Indonesian waters. The Navy sent its vessels where government told them to go, and did what government told them to do. It is not OK to blame the military for government policy blunders, and ultimately such a tactic will work against the government rather than the military.
From now on people in the military are more likely to leak against this government. People in the military are more likely to have credibility that politicians lack. Any difference of opinion between a politician and the military will be resolved in favour of the military (with the possible exception of bullying allegations). When you consider that military personnel vote Coalition more than any other occupational grouping, this is a political own-goal as well as a governmental one.
Boing Boing have embedded Jay Smooth’s fantastic video, “How to talk about race, productively“, and apart from it being brilliant, is it just me or does Jay Smooth have one of the most amazing speaking voices ever?
Rafe Posey at BuzzFeed writes, “How To Write About Transgender People“:
2. Use your subject’s preferred name, pronoun, and picture.
When was the last time someone asked you to prove that you’re a man or a woman, or that your name and the gender marker on your driver’s license match what’s on your birth certificate? We will tell you who we are. Your job is to listen, not to decide that you have a better idea about who we are just because you think we are “confused.” We don’t need you to explain our identities to us, and we do not need your permission.
Use the names, pronouns, and pictures that we provide. If you are honestly confused, ask politely what our preferences are, and then honor our answers. If we provide information in confidence, don’t reveal that information.
Aaminah Khan at Days Like Crazy Paving writes, “The invisible girl – bisexuality in a biphobic society“:
I’m a bisexual woman in a relationship with a straight man. That means I don’t exist.
You see, in order for society to accept me as bi, they need to see evidence. If I’m not neck-deep in a threesome with an attractive woman on one side and a strapping man on the other, how can they be expected to tell that I’m not monosexual? If I’m dating a woman, I must be lesbian. If I’m dating a man, I must be straight. Unless I’m dating both at the same time, I can’t be bisexual.
The first person to tell me I wasn’t “really” bi was a gay friend of mine. I believe I’ve told the story before, so I won’t retread old ground, but suffice to say that while he was the first, he certainly wasn’t the last. I’ve heard it all – it’s just a phase, I’m fence-sitting so I don’t have to pick a side, I’m greedy, I’ll cheat on my partner, I’m just doing it for the attention, I just don’t want to come out of the closet. It seems everyone has a theory about my sexuality that they’re just dying to share with me, as though they’re the first people ever to think of it. (Yeah, I’ve never heard the one about how I can’t be bi because I’m not poly before. You’re so original!) You’d think I’d know my sexuality better than a stranger, but in a world where anything perceived as differing from the norm instantly becomes fair game for public discussion and dissection, it seems the only person who isn’t a self-proclaimed expert on my sexuality is…me.
Rohin Guha at Jezebel writes, “The Myth of the Fag Hag and Dirty Secrets of the Gay Male Subculture“:
It’s a dirty secret of a subculture of the gay male world about women: That they’re essentially unwelcome, unless they come to us as a Real Housewife, a pop diva, or an Tony award winner–or an unassuming fag hag. To anyone just coming out of the closet and hoping to get his bearings in the gay male community, the attitude towards women is simple: They are just objects whose function is to serve gay men. Maybe it happens when gay men get too comfortable in newly-discovered safe spaces–where they get to call the shots as their proudly out new selves. Or maybe it happens through cultural conditioning. Whatever the cause is, it becomes clear: If there isn’t any kind of transactional exchange happening, then women lose their value in gay male subcultures.
Laurie Penny at New Statesmen writes, “Why patriarchy fears the scissors: for women, short hair is a political statement“:
The “manosphere” really hates short-haired girls. On “game” forums and in personal dating manifestos, the wickedness of short-haired women pops up time and time again as theme and warning – stay away from girls who’ve had their hair chopped off. They’re crazy, they’re deliberately destroying their femininity to “punish” men, but the last laugh will be on them, because the bitches will die alone. Yes, there are people who really believe this. In 2014.
This week, a writer going by the handle Tuthmosis put out a short article explaining why “Girls With Short Hair are Damaged”. The piece has now received over 200,000 interactions on Facebook, so I’m not going to link to it again here. If you scrape through the layers of trolling, though, Tuthmosis’ logical basis for declaring short-haired women “damaged” is pretty interesting.
He writes that long hair is “almost universally attractive to men, when they’re actually speaking honestly. . . Women instinctively know this, which is why every American girl who cuts, and keeps, her hair short often does it for ulterior reasons . . . Short hair is a political statement. And, invariably, a girl who has gone through with a short cut – and is pleased with the changes in her reception – is damaged in some significant way. Short hair is a near-guarantee that a girl will be more abrasive, more masculine, and more deranged.”
Cooper Fleishman at The Daily Dot writes, “The ‘girlfriendzone’ flips the ‘friendzone’ myth on its head“:
So here’s something new: a reaction to the friendzone, called the “girlfriendzone.” It comes from Reddit, whose feministcommunities are becoming an increasingly large presence in the culture there, calling out bullshit and misogyny and forming a safe space for women to converse openly and honestly. Or to give advice to male redditors.
“She’s not friendzoned you, OP,” ObscenePenguin writes. “You’ve girlfriendzoned her. … Seeing a female friend only as a girlfriend is girlfriendzoning.”
It’s flipping the script: identifying the friendzone as an entirely male creation, and putting the onus on dudes not to be entitled pricks about it when girls don’t throw themselves at them.
Jim C Hines writes a very detailed response to Larry Correia’s article in which Larry suggests that requests for science fiction to be more inclusive are killing the genre (which is why we have such great things as Women Destroy Science Fiction Kickstarter which has been successfully funded). Jim’s article is titled, “Fiskception: Dissecting Correia’s Critique of MacFarlane“.
Cosima Marriner at Fairfax writes “Study finds same-sex parenting is not harmful for children“, which shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. Also not coming as a surprise, but frustrating, is that this article is dumped in “Life & Style” and therefore less than “news”.
Children raised by same-sex parents fare just as well in their education, emotional and social development as those raised by heterosexual parents, new research shows.
The report on same sex-parented families in Australia, commissioned by the Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS), found “there is now strong evidence that same-sex-parented families constitute supportive environments in which to raise children”.
The findings are at odds with Liberal Senator Cory Bernardi’s recent comments that the “gold standard” for children’s development is having a biological mother and father who are married.
Report author Deb Dempsey, who reviewed all the research on same sex-parented families, said there was a wealth of evidence that showed the children were doing fine.
Taryn Fox guest posts at Geek Feminism with, “How to kill someone without pulling the trigger“:
The “Just World” fallacy
This is a fancy name for the idea that people tend to get what they deserve. Here in the States, we call it “liberty” and “objectivism” and “reducing dependence on government.” In the Linux and Free Software communities, we call it “meritocracy.”
It’s an extremely convenient belief to have if you’re at the top of your pecking order. It tells you that you deserve to be there, because of how awesome you are. And it tells you not to worry about anybody beneath you, because if they’re deserving they’ll make it eventually. And if they’re not, well, don’t worry about it. It’s their fault, and helping them will just keep them dependent on you. Better to throw them out of the nest and watch their carcasses smear on the rocks, until you find one that can fly like you could.
This mindset stigmatizes being weak or in need of help. It turns being a newb, at life or at Linux, into something to be ashamed of. And when you have this mindset yourself, and are weak or injured, you’re ashamed of everything. You have a desperate need to please others and show that your life is worthwhile. You’re afraid to admit failure, to yourself or to anyone else, because you know that you’ll be destroyed and it’ll be your fault.
Faine Greenwood writes at SF Gate, “Gender gap: Men getting paid more than women in Silicon Valley“:
Men who hold graduate or professional degrees earn a whopping 73 percent more than women with the same educational qualifications, while men with a bachelor’s degree earn 40 percent more than women with the same credentials, the study found.
Income inequality by gender is worse in Silicon Valley than it is for the whole of California: U.S. Census Bureau figures found that males with professional or graduate degrees earn 52 percent more than women when the entire population is taken into account, while men with a bachelor’s degree earn 36 percent more.
Interestingly, the situation in Silicon Valley is actually getting better, notes Rachel Massaro, vice president and senior researcher at Joint Venture Silicon Valley, who crunched the numbers.
“In 2010, men with a graduate or professional degree earned 97 percent more than women with a grad or professional degree,” she said.
Allen Clifton at Forward Progressives writes, “Florida Ordinance Makes it Illegal for Homeless to Use Blankets to Protect Themselves from Weather“, which has since been reversed as reported by T.S. Strickland at PNJ, “Hayward changes course on Pensacola homeless blanket ban“.
Tofik Dibi at Vice writes, “Life as a Gay Imam Isn’t as Bad as It Sounds“:
Just about every predominantly Muslim country forbids homosexuality. In nine of those countries, homosexual activity carries the death penalty. But the thing is, the whole Islamic prejudice against gays seems to be based on one monumental misconception: that certain verses in the Qur’an about Sodom and Gomorrah condemn homosexuality. They do not, according to Ludovic-Mohamed Zahed, Daayiee Abdullah, and Muhsin Hendricks, three openly gay imams I spoke to who are trying to end the marginalization inflicted on LGBT Muslims because of their sexuality.
Tina Vasquez writes at bitchmedia, “It’s Time to End the Long History of Feminism Failing Transgender Women” *trigger warning transphobia and Cathy Brennan*:
This debate is not just feminist-theory inside baseball. Though outspoken, politically active trans-exclusionary radical feminists are relatively few in number, their influence on legislation and mainstream perceptions of transgender people is powerful and real.
For example, transgender people were able to readily obtain government-funded healthcare prior to 1980. That year, Janice Raymond wrote a report for the Reagan administration called “Technology on the Social and Ethical Aspects of Transsexual Surgery” which informed the official federal position on medical care for transgender people. The paper’s conclusion reads, “The elimination of transsexualism is not best achieved by legislation prohibiting transsexual treatment and surgery, but rather by legislation that limits it and by other legislation that lessens the support given to sex-role stereotyping.” In her book Transgender History, Susan Stryker says that the government curtailed transgender access to government social services under Reagan, “In part in response to anti-transgender feminist arguments that dovetailed with conservative politics.”
These days, trans-exclusionary feminists’ voices seem louder than ever, as they use social media to amplify their message. If you start following feminist conversations online, at first it seems like there’s a chorus of individuals running websites that speak out against the dangers of accepting transgender women as women. But then it becomes clear that numerous websites and Twitter feeds come from just one person: Cathy Brennan. On her personal site, Brennan lists her numerous blogs: Gender Fatigue (which recently published a tirade about Janet Mock’s gender that would make Piers Morgan blush), Pretendbians (devoted to documenting transgender people who “oppress Lesbians”), Name the Problem (which posts mugshots of alleged sex offenders along with write-ups about trans activists), the aforementioned Gender Identity Watch (which posits to watch “legal developments that erase female reality”), and a private site called Fauxmosexuals.
Laurie Penny at New Statesmen writes, “The way we talk about rape and abuse is changing” *trigger warning rape*:
Rape culture means more than a culture in which rape is routine. Rape culture involves the systematic silencing of victims even as women and children are instructed to behave like potential victims at all times. In order to preserve rape culture, society at large has to believe two different things at once. Firsty, that women and children lie about rape, but that they should also act as if rape will be the result if they get into a strange car, walk down a strange street or wear a sexy outfit. Secondly, if it happens, it’s their own fool fault for not respecting the unwritten rules.
This paradox involves significant mental gymnastics. But as more and more people come forward with accusations, as the pattern of historical and ongoing abuse of power becomes harder to ignore, the paradox gets harder to maintain. We are faced with two alternatives: either women and children are lying about rape on an industrial, organised scale, or rape and sexual abuse are endemic in this society, and have been for centuries. Facing up to the reality of the latter is a painful prospect.
Mia McKenzie from Black Girl Dangerous writes, “4 Ways to Push Back Against Your Privilege“:
3. Shut up
This one is so, so important. If you are a person with a lot of privilege (i.e. a white, straight, able-bodied, class-privileged, cisgender male or any combination of two or more of those) and you call yourself being against oppression, then it should be part of your regular routine to sit the hell down and shut the eff up. If you can recognize that part of the reason your opinion, your voice, carries so much weight and importance is because you are a white man (or whatever combination is working for you), then pushing back against your privilege often looks like shutting your face. Now, of course, using your privilege to speak out against oppression is very important. But I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about chiming in, taking up space, adding your two cents, playing devil’s advocate, etc. when 1) no one asked you, 2) the subject matter is outside your realm of experience (why do you even think you get to have an opinion about the lives of black women??), 3) anything you say is just going to cause more harm because your voice, in and of itself, is a reminder that you always get to have a voice and that voice usually drowns out the voices of others.
Rebecca Shaw writes at SBS, “Comment: Why it matters that Ellen Page came out“:
Her nervousness instantly took me back to the night that I first spoke those words out loud to another human being. It was one of the scariest things that I have ever done, and I remember the clenched feeling in my chest, my stomach rolling with nerves.
We were sitting outside in the cold, and I can still see my breath coming out hard and fast into the night air. I was terrified – and drunk. And yet, I knew that the person I was telling would be 100 per cent fine with it. In fact, I knew that she probably already knew. It didn’t matter. Saying those words out loud, even to an incredibly receptive crowd (like the HRC) is petrifying.
Brocklesnitch writes, “Biscaryials“:
Take Olympic diver Tom Daley. Don’t you think it is weird that he seemed so COMFORTABLE saying that he still fancies women while dating a MAN? Someone has obviously been taking acting lessons from Dustin Lance Orange is the New Black!! How else could you explain that he seemed content to imply that he is attracted to both sexes? That is just not possible. They are so different! Men like doing things like sports and beer and women like doing things like shopping and wine! How the fuck could you ever be attracted to both of those, like some sort of hybrid human who could enjoy beer AND wine? Or sports AND shopping?
leenamielus at Facetruth writes, “I Took Off My Hijab“:
By adding more layers. A knit hat and scarf around my neck to be exact.
I didn’t understand what was happening at first. People started talking to me more. Women would speak to me like I knew them since forever. Men looked at me like I was actually approachable. And I was made to feel like I was actually from this planet.
Maybe I was finally fitting in? Maybe I was no longer self conscious about my unique dress code and a face lacking makeup?
But then it became fishy. The Muslim taxi drivers who would almost always say “Assalamu Alaikum,” ask me where I’m from or if I’m single, or not allow me to pay for the fare became cold and dry. I would simply give the address, and the only dialog thereafter was at time of payment. It was puzzling.
Jacqueline Applebee at Blogging in Shadows writes, “Biphobia“:
The bank I work for starts an LGBT networking group. I don’t quite believe it is real until I enter a room full of happy faces. Queer staff and their partners from all over the South-East have travelled to our Brighton head office to take part in the launch. Of course, Biphobia turns up to the event too. He sloshes down bottles of wine, and eats all the sausage rolls.
A senior cashier from Littlehampton corners me by the windows. “Did you bring your girlfriend with you?” she asks.
“I have a boyfriend,” I respond before I can stop myself. “He was busy.”
The cashier looks like I’ve slapped her. “This group is vitally important for gays and lesbians. It’s not for straights.”
“I’m bisexual.” I’m aware my voice is a whisper. I’m aware I don’t want anyone else to hear me. Biphobia slips an arm around my shoulder. I feel totally intimidated.
Alan Austin at Independent Australia writes, “Churches combine to condemn Abbott’s evils“:
Last month, IAlisted several transgressions which have dismayed Roman Catholics. These include bioethical issues, persistent blatant lying, dudding Indigenous people, cutting overseas aid, abusing vulnerable people, militarism, spying and redistributing wealth and income in favour of the rich.
Since then, further wrongs have provoked the outrage of Catholics and Protestants alike.
What seems most offensive, however, is that those committing such clear violations of fundamental Christian teaching actually profess strong personal belief.
Such hypocrisy, according to all strands within Christendom, deserves special condemnation.
Several religious groups have sheeted home blame for this week’s loss of life on Manus Island to Abbott’s regime.
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:
- Social safety net? Heck no! Women must pay for sex!
- Awesome Comment Award: Emjb on how fetuses are made
- The Pro-Life Movement, Erasing Women Edition
So I have a wealth of tabs open of awesome stuff I have found this month and that I thought would be good to put into one document. So here we go.
Sara Buechner writes about her trans* journey, botched surgery and the sexism she’s faced at the New York Times, in “An Evolving Country Begins to Accept Sara, Once David“.
Angrily Internetting had a great rant about bisexuality and bi-erasure which she then storified in “Reflections on Bi* Erasure and Invisibility“.
From the HuffPost “Gay Voices” section, “Phi Alpha Tau Transgender Member Donnie Collins Gets Money For FTM Surgery From Frat Brothers“, as of writing this, their Indiegogo campaign has raised $20K with the excess from Donnie Collins’s surgery going to the Jim Collins Foundation.
N.K. Jemisin writes, “From the Mailbag: The Unbearable Baggage of Orcing“:
Seriously. In most of the fantasy works I’ve consumed, orcs are violent, mindless or less intelligent than human beings, brutal and thuggish and Always Chaotic Evil. But these are adjectives, not nouns. All mythological creatures have a real-world root. Dryads are trees + humans + magic. Mermaids are fish + humans + magic, or maybe porpoises + magic. Unicorns are deer or horses + magic, maybe with a bit of narwhal glued on. Dragons are reptiles + magic, or maybe dinosaur bones + magic – paleontology. So again: what are orcs supposed to be?
Bottom line: in nearly every iteration of orcs that occurs in fantasy, orcs are meant to be a warped mirror of humanity. They’ve got all the stuff that’s in humans — emotions, a degree of intellect, sometimes free will — but it’s all wrong. They’re corrupted by evil magic or environmental degradation or their own hubris. In some iterations orcs are sexually perverse, so we’ve got bad genetics to consider too. They are human bodies + bad magic – the essence of humanity, for whatever value that essence might hold: a soul, a mind, aestheticism, whatever. And therefore, in most fantasy settings in which I’ve seen orcs appear, they are fit only for one thing: to be mowed down, usually on sight and sans negotiation, by Our Heroes. Orcs are human beings who can be slaughtered without conscience or apology.
Think about that. Creatures that look like people, but aren’t really. Kinda-sorta-people, who aren’t worthy of even the most basic moral considerations, like the right to exist. Only way to deal with them is to control them utterly a la slavery, or wipe them all out.
Huh. Sounds familiar.
Benny and Cheyenne at Queereka writes, “Myths and Misconceptions About Kink“, covering 5 myths, misconceptions, and confusion regarding kink and BDSM.
Rebecca J Rosen at The Atlantic writes, “The Internal Memo That Allowed IBM’s Female Employees to Get Married“, covering the story of Eleanor Kolchin who hid her marriage from IBM so she could remain employed.
At Huffington Post, Women in Tech section, Bianca Bosker writes more on Eleanor Kolchin’s career in, “The Face Of A ‘Computer’ From 1946“:
Eleanor Kolchin was once a computer.
When she accepted her first full-time job in 1946, “computers” were people, not machines: As a programmer at Columbia University’s Watson Scientific Computing Laboratory , Kolchin helped astronomers make sense of the universe by operating sofa-sized calculating machines capable of little beyond basic arithmetic. She was Columbia Engineering Quarterly’s first-ever female contributor, and spent over two decades manning computers to complete astrophysics research at New York University.
Kolchin, now 86, has long since traded the punched-card machines for an iPod — now one of her favorite gadgets — but she’s still programming, a full 66 years after getting her start. Kolchin runs the website for the Boca West Special Interest Club she belongs to and sends members their weekly e-newsletters. (“I was doing Web pages before anyone else was doing Web pages,” she says with a touch of pride, noting software from Webs.com makes it “as easy as pie.”)
From BBC History, Bill Yenne writes, “Who was the White Rose of Stalingrad?“:
Lidiya Vladimirovna Litvyak was the young fighter pilot with the bouquet of wildflowers in her cockpit who shot down a dozen of the Luftwaffe’s best pilots to become the highest scoring woman air ace of all time…
Lidiya – known as Lilya – helped symbolise a generation of young women, barely old enough not to be called schoolgirls, who answered the call in 1941 to fight the Germans, and who became heroines in the armed forces of the Soviet Union, the only nation to regularly use women in combat roles in World War II.
Though she would never have imagined it, she can also be seen to symbolise the spirit of the 21st Century military women who heroically fight and die on the world’s battlefronts.
At Radical bi, “The difference between monosexism and biphobia“:
I see biphobia as a particular aspect of monosexism, they are definitely not interchangeable. Monosexism, as I see it, refers to the structural privileging of monosexual identities and behaviours. So, monosexism refers, for example, to the belief that one can only be either straight or gay, that it is better to be monosexual than bisexual*, that only monosexual identities are “real”, that monosexual issues are the only ones deserving of attention, etc. Monosexism causes bisexual erasure (from media, literature, art, TV and film, etc.), it causes discrimination when it comes to activist priorities, budgeting, etc. It causes the social isolation that leads many bis* to have poor health and mental health, and prevents proper treatment and support that might help alleviate them. It keeps bi* people “low” on the “pecking order” and creates all sorts of oppression. I see monosexism as the main factor responsible for all the horrible statistics in the Bisexual Invisibility report, for example. So, basically, monosexism is the system, the base structure. It is everything which isn’t directly aimed at bi* people but nonetheless has the effect of eradicating our existence or legitimacy.
Yatima at Geek Feminism writes, “Dear male allies: your sexism looks a bit like my racism“:
Here’s what I want to tell you, dear male allies. It is such a relief. Listening to other peoples’ voices? Is incredibly moving, and humbling, and endlessly interesting. Shutting the hell up while I do it? God, how I love the sound of not-my-own-voice. Going into battle against racists and so forth? So much easier, now that I have a faint clue what’s actually going on.
And that’s all I have to say. If you would like to know more about how women think, listen to them. Listen to Regina Spektor and Meshell Ngedeocello and Diamanda Galas. Read Madeleine Albright and Barbara Tuchman and Leslie Chang and Katherine Boo and for God’s sake, read Octavia Butler, she is seriously so completely amazing.
Nancy Cato at Australians For Honest Politics writes, “Looking for my Aunty“:
Yes – silly isn’t it. I feel rather foolish making this awful public confession that I’ve sort of lost my Aunty, but it’s a fact – if a fact can be ‘sort of’. Anyway, I do my share of complaining about the lack of any sort of facts in much of today’s media, so ‘fess up I must. It’s embarrassing. Aunty Ambidextra Balancedia Clarificia (ABC for short) has been in our family for – well, since she was born really, in 1932 – making her only 7 years 5 months older than her niece. It happens in families.
Mind you, she’s not just my Aunty and she’s not really my Aunty at all – as in a blood relation or anything. My Mum and Dad just happened to take her in as a tiny baby and reared her as my Aunt. This also happens in families. Goodness knows where her parents were – she seemed to be surrounded by fusty, old, white, politically-absorbed males at the time – but that’s for later.
At Science Zest, Making Science Understandable, “History of Women in Science – Jakoba Felicie“:
Although often referred to as the woman who disguised herself as a man to practice gynaecology and midwifery, Jakoba (or Jacqueline) Felicie was most likely a general practitioner and never pretended to be a man.
In November 1322 she and another five medical practitioners (two men, three women) were excommunicated and fined sixty Parisian livres. The trial records are exceptionally detailed and show that she has never been accused of causing harm to her patients. Eight witnesses testified that she had cured them after university-trained (male) physicians have given up. And that is where she had touched a sore spot, it seems. Jakoba’s trial is not the simple story about suppression of female practitioners, but rather demonstrates the increasing power and influence of the Faculty of Medicine in Paris.
This is where it becomes obvious that Hall does not understand the difference between sex and gender. The terms “women” and “men” are terms for gender; “female” and “male” are terms to refer to sex. She confusingly uses sex traits to describe gender differences. We certainly assign meanings to these different biological traits, but what Hall is explaining above turns out to be an excellent example of how sexed bodies come already wrapped up in our understandings of gender. Hall’s understandings of what it means to be “man” and “woman” (gender) affect how she categorizes bodies (sex).
Let me deconstruct this a bit further: having breasts, menstruating, getting pregnant, lactating, and having two X chromosomes are not inherently “womanly” things. Those are things that are more common to female-bodied individuals, but a person who identifies as a woman may go through her life not having or doing any of those things. Because “woman” is a cultural category, not a biological category.
Broede Carmody at Lip Mag writes, “in brief: sexism behind over-investment in cycling infrastructure“:
According to the report, 77 percent of those who travel to work by bike are male. Men also accounted for 57 percent of those who drove to work. In contrast, women were overrepresented as car passengers, walkers and users of public transport.
The report says:
‘Some commentators in Australia and the United States have argued that the flexibility of the car makes it an ideal travel mode for women, whose travel patterns are often more diverse, in space and time, than men’s. By contrast, public transport, especially the fixed-rail variety, is said to be inflexible and thus unsuited to women’s needs.’
Marianne at xojane writes, “How Not To Be A Dick To Your Fat Friends“:
But you, you are not an asshole. I know this because you have told me so. And because you are not an asshole, I feel like I can say these things to you, in the hopes that you will think about them the next time you hang out with a friend who might be fat — or even the next time you interact with a fat person that you don’t know.
You don’t want to be like that friend of mine who went on and on, drunkenly, about how gross it probably would be to have sex with President Taft without realizing that I weigh more than he did when he was President. Right? Right.
Libby Anne at Love Joy Feminism writes, “Evangelicals, Homosexuals, and Child Molesters“:
Do evangelicals actually believe that there is an association between homosexuality and paedophilia? If my intro didn’t clue you in already, the answer is yes, yes they do. Why? Let’s see if I can shed some light on that.
I’ll start, of course, with my “tale of two boxes.” While progressive sexual ethics generally hinge on whether or not something is consensual, conservative sexual ethics more frequently hinge on whether or not the Bible condemns an act. In other words, progressives would never treat rape and premarital sex as somehow comparable, but conservatives would, because both are forbidden by God. Thus while progressives would not compare consensual gay sex with child molestation, conservatives would, because they would see both as abominations in the sight of God. Sin is sin, and evangelicals generally don’t distinguish between sexual sins that are consensual and those that are not.
Yessenia at Queereka writes, “It’s My Oppression and You Can’t Have Any“:
This happened a couple months ago, on a flamewar that went down in response to a panel discussion of the role of lesbian transwomen in the San Francisco Dyke March. The panel itself went really well, but self-proclaimed ‘radical feminists’ descended on the facebook page for the march, and proceeded to vomit hatred like they’d washed down the enterovirus sandwich they had for lunch with a bottle of ipecac.
The basic gist of their argument, a gist I’d like to unpack, dismantle, put back in the box and sell without a crucial lynchpin to some unsuspecting craigslist schmuck, is as follows:
1. Gender is not something that proceeds naturally from one’s sex.
2. Feminine genders are forced upon female-bodied children from a very young age, for the purpose of oppressing them.
3. All gender is performance.
4. Transwomen are performing feminine genders.
5. HEY THAT’S OUR GENDER GIVE IT BACK RIGHT THE FUCK NOW!