Because you might need, as much as I do, a break from the incessant Christmasness of December – have some things that I have found interesting about the place.
s.e. smith wrote a great post, “Language Matters: Reclamatory Language and Word Use“:
Reclamatory language seems to tie people up in knots as they attempt to navigate the murky waters of words, who uses them, and how. I don’t blame people for being confused; language is constantly evolving and sometimes it feels like an ever-moving goalpost designed to trip people up, rather than a useful tool for describing ideas, actions, people, and experiences. And it becomes especially fraught when people are using language some people identify as slurs self-referentially, particularly in progressive communities where there is a strong stigma about using the wrong word.
Reclamatory language, in a nutshell, includes slurs repurposed by members of a given group as a form of self-empowerment, criticism, or ingroup solidarity.
Jessie Nicole at xojane wrote, “What It’s Like to Come Out of the Hooker Closet“:
I’ve been coming out for decades now, and still do quite frequently. I come out as queer, depressed and as an activist, among other things. Instead of a single coming out story, I have a collection.
These days I come out most frequently as a sex worker. I was a prostitute for about four years. It’s not the most interesting thing about me, but it is what I am most often defined by.
Libby Ann writes, “I’m Not Straight (And Other Discoveries)“:
After telling myself for years that these feelings were just appreciation, or jealously for physical beauty, or anything other than what they were, I finally let go of the denial and admitted the truth to myself.
I am sexually attracted to women.
There was such freedom in just admitting that to myself. I could let go of the confusion and just be me. I could let go of the questions and just accept myself for who I was. I could let go of the questions and just embrace life.
N.K Jemisin (one of my favourite authors ever) wrote a post heavy on US politics on the Predators movie , “Predators, the GOP, and you“:
But that movie had serious problems. You knew Weathers’ character was doomed the instant you saw him, along with Bill Duke’s character — the other black guy. You knew when you saw Billy, the generic American Indian character, that he was going to die a Noble Savage death. You knew Poncho, the generic Latino character, was going to reveal cowardice or criminality before the end of the film. You knew the female character, who never even got a name, would be useless deadweight and have to be rescued repeatedly. You also knew she would probably get to live, because who else is the surviving male hero going to bang for his victory celebration?
This new version raised all of that, and saw us some additional extra-crispy crapcakes to boot. Nothing progressive about this one; regressive, in fact.
Patrick RichardsFink writes, “An Invisible Man” at Huffpost “Gay Voices” a piece about being bisexual, monogamous and married to a woman:
The nature of my relationship, however, does not change my sexual orientation. That has not changed, even when I publicly denied it. When I was in the closet, though, I never actually told people I was straight. I would duck the issue, change the subject, or deflect with words that seemed to give an answer while not actually giving any information. If I had been more comfortable with that kind of technically not-lying obfuscation, I could have gone into politics.
There’s an unfortunately common idea that while it’s perfectly possible to be straight or gay without having to do anything to prove it, in order to be bisexual we either have to have frequent three- or moresomes, or alternate genders of partners in strict same/other order — to “maintain balance.” A lot of the myths about bisexuality are built on these assumptions.
Are there people who fit the stereotypes above? Sure. Is it their right to do so? Absolutely. Criticizing someone for “reinforcing a stereotype” is dirty pool, a way of telling them that their choices are not valid because “it reflects badly on the community.” This is a problem faced by people in all minority groups: race, socioeconomic status, gender expression, sexual orientation. No one has the obligation to “be a credit to their [whatever].”
Amy Andre wrote about bisexual women and marriage at Huffpost “Gay Voices” in “When Bi Celebrities Get Married“:
It’s interesting that bisexuals — in particular, bisexual women — are facing this issue of having their bisexuality questioned because they are in relationships. Are bisexuals required to be single in order to truly say that we are bi? Why can’t a bisexual celebrity, or any other bisexual person, get married or be in a relationship? If a heterosexual person gets married, I can’t imagine anyone tweeting to ask if they’re still straight. Why would they? What would one have to do with the other? But for some reason, bisexuality is cast in a different light. It’s seen, at least by Wood’s follower, as something you do rather than something you are.
Natalie Reed wrote this post that I only discovered recently, back in April 2012, “Natural Privilege“:
Yesterday on twitter I came across a woman calling herself Yeats Infection who decided to chastise the “decision” trans people make to become dependent on the “capitalist pharmaceutical industry” for the rest of our lives, framing us as having somehow been duped by the evil conspiracy of Big Pharma.
What an insulting, condescending, privileged, uncomprehending, self-righteous, patronizing infuriating, ignorant thing to say. Ugh. Just ugh. Well, no, not just ugh. Ugh and a heartfelt “fuck you” as well.
What it brought to mind for me, and made explicit, was the incredible degree of privilege and entitlement that often underlies the “natural medicine”, “alternative medicine”, “non-allopathic”, anti-”Big Pharma” attitude. That beneath the preference for these “natural” alternatives was the luxury of a normative physiology, and that to extrapolate from that luxury a prescriptive, paternalistic attitude towards the not-so-inconsequential choices others make about their health and bodies belies considerable classism, ableism and, yes, cissexism.
Lindy West at Jezebel writes on recent research, “Women Speak Drastically Less When They’re Surrounded by Dudes. And That’s Bad.“:
Womanhood is full of frustrating hunches, and society is full of people who want to pooh-pooh those hunches. “I’m pretty sure I’m being treated like shit right now because of my vagina,” we women say. “Shut UP, women! Because men get injured in industrial accidents! Therefore, equality reigns!” the pooh-poohers reply. There’s almost nothing as satisfying as having one’s hunches backed up by science. So color me delighted by this new study published in American Political Science Review, which found that, in collaborative group settings, “the time that women spoke was significantly less than their proportional representation—amounting to less than 75 percent of the time that men spoke.”
HA. That is just about the truest shit that I have ever heard. I (and, I suspect, pretty much any woman) can access that feeling really quickly and vividly—when you find yourself in conversation with a circle of men and, against your better judgment and all your feminist impulses, you just turtle up. You retire. You forfeit, because their lungs are bigger, they’re groomed for assertiveness since birth, and you’re groomed to assume that nobody will take you seriously anyway. You wait for a pause in a room of interruptors. Sigh. I do it like crazy, and I am a fucking loudmouth feminist yelling machine.
Valerie Tarico at Alternet dug up some great history regarding the current religious right in the US and their position on abortion in the 1970s in, “When Right-Wing Christians Stopped Thinking of Women as People“:
In the autumn of 1978 the Washington Association of Churches and the Washington State Catholic Conference jointly published a six-page pamphlet they called “Abortion: An Ecumenical Study Document.” Their work offers a fascinating snapshot of Christian thinking at the time and raises some equally fascinating questions about what, exactly, has happened in the last 35 years.
The pamphlet does not contain a position statement. Quite the opposite, in fact. From the beginning, the authors explain that such an agreement is impossible: “Clearly there is no Christian position on abortion, for here real values conflict with each other, and Christian persons who seek honestly to be open to God’s call still find themselves disagreeing profoundly.”
Fidel Martinez for The Daily Dot (and published in Mashable) wrote about the case of a “Teen Denied Communion After Marriage Equality Facebook Post“:
Reverend Gary LaMoine of the Assumption Church in Barnesville, Minn., denied 17-year-old Lennon Cihak the Eucharist rite of Communion after seeing a picture on Facebook of the teen that went against the church’s politics.
The image in question, currently inaccessible due to privacy settings, depicted Cihak holding a modified sign in support of an amendment to the state’s constitution that would define marriage as being between a man and a woman. Cihak’s modification to the yard sign reflected his support of marriage equality.
Anna Mardoll writes “Deconstruction: How To Be A (Male) Ally” *trigger warning for discussion on rape and rape culture*:
Lately, I’ve been reading a lot of comments on the interwebs from genuinely nice guys who want to know how to be good feminist allies in this shitty rape culture world we live in. And it’s a more complicated question that it looks, since there’s a lot of conflicting advice out there about white knighting (which in itself is a confusing term with about four distinct and sometimes mutually exclusive meanings) and helpful-versus-unhelpful anger and nice guyism and creepers and OMG PARALYZED BY THE POSSIBILITY FOR WRONGNESS.
So here is a Helpful (Male) Allies 101 post for men who would like to be helpful male allies as far as my opinion goes. Also, upfront, these posters are very cool. Just sayin’.
Ben Jenkins at Daily Life writes, “Are modern men being silenced by women?“:
The piece is broken up into five different parts – in that way its like the Fast and The Furious franchise, or if you prefer, a bullshit-cake that has been broken up into five different parts. Each of these parts addresses a different group and tells them, with what I can only assume is a straight face, ‘what men want’.
Again, there is nothing inherently wrong with this in theory. Men are not prohibited from telling people what they want. In fact, this willingness to not be coy about what we want is just one of the reasons why we have owned, throughout history, most of the things. So no one is saying that suddenly the needs of men are irrelevant and to be ignored. I mean, that’s just such a tediously obvious point, that in order to put that argument forward you’d have to posses the kind of myopia that renders you unable to acknowledge even the most self-evident of truths. Truths like the fact that the increase of rights for one group of people does not, in any sense, mean a decrease in rights for another.
Clementine Ford at Daily Life writes, “The purity complex“:
I think we can all agree that the sentiments expressed here are less reminiscent of anything meaningful than they are a giant, steaming pile of crap that’s been passed through the digestive system of a cow then exposed to radioactive waste so that it grows to be a super dungpat that can walk around and talk and then eventually tries to run for Prime Minister while enjoying the ongoing support of Miranda Devine. That’s how messed up this turd is.
Unfortunately, it’s a turd whose central thesis is reinforced far too often in society, that being the conflation of women’s value with their vigilance in keeping their legs shut. Ladies! How can we respect you when you don’t respect yourselves?! HOLLA!
In ultra current (for the moment) Australian politics, it looks like Tony Abbott’s office and perhaps even Tony Abbott has attempted to falsify information about their involvement in the Slipper affair, as provided by independentaustralia.net in “Abbott implicated in Ashby conspiracy by (10 hours of bullsh)IT“:
Having worked in the IT industry for a long time (almost 20 years), I felt it was my duty to explain how Abbott’s line that “during April the computer server timestamps were sometimes out by up to 10 hours” was wrong ― and why it was – at best – improbable and – at worst – impossible.
Let’s take this on face value: the Australian Parliament House (APH) network – like most corporate and government networks – is a complex beast. Spanning politicians on all sides of parliament and public servants alike, security is paramount. To maintain the level of security in APH time is essential.
If you work in IT, you know that setting a clock even one hour out will cause your network to fall over, as the tolerances for Windows Server is five minutes difference in time. Even if you set a different timezone, Windows Server will not accept login credentials from a client computer if the time is more than five minutes out.
Jesse McLaren at Shamless, writes a guest post, “Why “men’s rights” groups are wrong“:
“Men’s rights” groups are a growing phenomenon, with “men’s centres” and “men’s issues awareness” clubs appearing on campuses. Manipulating men’s anxieties faced with neoliberalism and austerity, “men’s issues” groups ignore the poverty, racism, ableism, homophobia and transphobia that men and women face, and instead scapegoat the women’s movement and progressive movements in general.
The rhetoric of “equality,” “diversity,” “human rights” and “inclusivity” that these groups use can certainly seem appealing, as can their claim to “provide support for individuals whose equality rights have been denied.” And their claim of “evidence not ideology” gives them a semblance of objectivity, which they apply to issues many people are concerned about: “men’s health, fathers and family issues, boys issues, suicide, violence, safety, workplace issues, crime and punishment.”
s.e. smith writes at xojane, “ALL HAIL THE LADYSTACHE: The Case for Female Facial Hair“:
‘Tis the season for facial hair, courtesy of Movember, although Rachel Rubin rightly pointed out that there are some serious problems with how the event is currently framed and handled. Much like breast cancer awareness, Movember has become a juggernaut of misdirected funds and general grossness, rather than a legitimate effort to address serious men’s health issues.
And for the women who want to participate, it’s quite a minefield. Rachel collected an assortment of nasty Tweets about women with facial hair in her piece on Movember, illustrating broader social attitudes about ladies sporting mustaches, beards, sideburns or, really, anything even vaguely resembling hair on their faces. Bearded ladies are supposed to be freakshows, something to be pointed and laughed at, rather than women who happen to have facial hair, for whatever reason.
Unlike men, women aren’t socially allowed to choose facial hair as an aesthetic choice and as part of their personal expression. They’re supposed to shave it, wax it, laser it or otherwise remove it. Just get it off, because women aren’t supposed to have hairy faces.
Monica Weymouth at the Philadelphia writes, “A Double Life: Bisexual Bias in the Gay Community“:
“When the bigotry comes from the straight community, it’s hurtful. But when it comes from the gay community, it’s worse—because they should understand,” says Ingram, who now lives in Bensalem. “This is the experience of the gay community—having the straight community tell them they’re wrong, they don’t exist. For me, it feels like personal betrayal. I feel like ‘I was there with you, in the beginning,’ and then I hear ‘What has bisexuality done for the movement?’ That just floors me. The history has been rewritten.”
Ingram met her husband of three years, James Klawitter, at a meeting of BiUnity, a Philly-based bisexual support network. They were both prepared for the onslaught of questions from friends and family, some well-meaning and others hostile, when they became engaged: “Are you straight now?” (They are not.) “Are you going to miss the other gender?” (No, they have a polyamorous marriage.) “Do all bi couples have poly marriages?” (Most don’t, although some do. Same as gay and straight people.) “Are you straight now?” (No, still not straight.)
Laura Bates at The Independent writes, “Art imitating life: How sexism in video games mirrors real-life gender imbalance“:
Last week, the #1reasonwhy hashtag took Twitter by storm.
It provided an outlet for gamers and game designers alike to express their frustration with the sexism of the gaming industry. The comments from women working in the industry reflected and repeated many of those we have collected on the Everyday Sexism project, from across a wide variety of jobs and workplaces. Particularly poignant were the stories from women who had been dismissed out of hand before their work had even been seen, or those afraid that a single failure would be deemed “proof that woman shouldn’t be in the industry”. The answer “Because every disclosure of harassment feels like risking never being hired again”, was also achingly familiar.
But what really struck home was the similarity, on the #1reasonwhy hashtag and amongst other articles, between gamers’ virtual experiences and the real-life gender imbalance recorded to our project website daily. We were struck by the multitude of ways in which sexism within video games themselves seemed to mirror real-life sexism.
Leena van Deventer writes, “#1ReasonWhy“:
The next taunt in class, we looked at each other. I waited for him to speak. He didn’t. I didn’t. Then a girl behind me did, out of nowhere. We were shocked but relieved.
“Shut up, you guys.”
Crosshairs were now on her. They started applying the same tactics on her as they had the previous girl, but with added harshness, because she dared to challenge them.
The boy and I stood up for her. Soon some more joined in.
I was so scared to defend her by myself. I was already a weird kid. I just wanted Justin to like me. But once others started standing up against shitty behaviour, I had much more confidence. I got mouthy. I put the mean kids on a lunch negotiation embargo. You bitches ain’t getting MY Burger Rings! I started having less tolerance for their crap, and less fear about letting it be known. I became even more radioactive than I was before, but I was oddly at peace with it.
Leigh Alexander at Gamasutra writes, “Marketers, start caring about video games, please“:
This week, the #1ReasonWhy campaign provided a poignant and much-needed platform for women to talk about why they don’t feel comfortable in the games industry. Obviously it’s the perfect time for a Facebook advergame that encourages you to bully your friends about their breast size.
Wait, what? Are you serious?
Hire Hitman, a Facebook app designed to do some viral marketing for Hitman: Absolution in the wake of its mixed critical reception, was live for only an hour before an apologetic Square Enix pulled it.
But for that brief window, you could help the company sell its game by making death threats to your friends based on their body size, for having hairy legs, their awful make-up or their “tiny penis.” How appropriate for the age of cyber-bullying and teen suicide!
I found the Facts and Stats page of the Australia’s CEO Challenge: workplace partners against domestic violence.
s.e. smith wrote for xojane, “College Paper Columnist: Ew, Menstruation is Gross!” and seriously the photos on this piece are glorious:
I don’t want to knock college newspapers. They can be an incubation ground for great journalists, and sometimes their columnists are funny, sharp, insightful and so much more.
But other times, they’re just plain ridiculous, and that sums up John Corrigan, who is apparently approximately 12 years old, at “The Temple News” to a tee. For his parting shot as he prepared to leave the paper, he wrote himself up an oh-so-witty column about cis ladies and their periods. Because, as we all know, this subject is hilarious, especially when written up by a man complaining about how his girlfriend transforms into some sort of creature from the deeps for three to five days out of the month.
He managed to include almost every possible period stereotype, no mean feat for such a short column. He portrays menstruating cis women as out of control animals, held captive by their hormones, depicting menstruation as some sort of minefield for the men around them (“When your girlfriend suffers, you will too”). He informs us that women eat weird things during their periods — har har! — and points out that one side benefit is a chance for some sexytimes, but “don’t expect a quickie.” Because, you know, menstruating women need to be tenderly held and snuggled, all emotionalstyle.
I had a dream the other morning, the kind of dream you wake up from and want to return to immediately because I was having so much fun. In my dream I was seeking shelter from heavy rain, and ended up in a shed (the location details are not all that important). In the shed were some other people seeking shelter from the storm, one of whom said upon spying me, “Ah, God has brought you to us”. I then argued with the [made up in my head Christian] people about how they could not a) prove that god existed, b) prove that the rain I was escaping was an Act of God, and c) that all of this coincidence was just that, and even if they believed that it was divine intervention, they could not convince me in any way. My alarm went off and then I was annoyed that I was being woken up from my fun.
All of this stems from one of my greatest issues with some religious believers, that a deity/deities have a plan for each and every one of us, and we all walk along a planned path with no individual control over what happens in our lives (because that is the logical follow-through of “it was meant to be”).
So it’s spring here in Oz, and the days are getting longer and warmer, there are more birds about, and weeds are growing at an amazing pace in my garden. So to distract myself from thinking about that, here are some amazing pieces of writing I’ve found about the place recently.
Libby Anne at Love Joy Feminism writes, “When It Really Is about Controlling Women“:
If abortion is murder, the argument that women need to “take responsibility” for the “voluntary decision” to have sex by carrying the pregnancy to term is irrelevant. It should not matter. If it’s just about “saving babies,” then abortion is wrong because it’s murder, not because it’s a woman failing to “take responsibility” for having had sex. When someone makes the above argument, then, they make clear that some proportion of the anti-abortion movement is not simply interested in “saving babies,” but rather in depriving women of control of their own reproduction. Some proportion of the anti-abortion movement, then, is actively anti-woman, not simply passively anti-woman. They make opposing abortion about “slut shaming,” about trying to control women who want to have sex but not to have children, not about “saving babies.”
And then they wonder why women get upset. They wonder why they’re called anti-woman. They shouldn’t. It should be obvious.
Libby Anne also wrote, “Dear Pro-Lifers: STOP ERASING WOMEN“:
There, right there, is where women are removed from the picture entirely. Somehow zygotes magically develop into human beings…like, by themselves. Nothing else involved there. No one else effected. But that’s simply untrue. A zygote will NOT develop naturally into a human being if left to itself. Rather, in order to develop into a human being it has to have massive intervention from an outside source. Namely, a woman. Without this intervention, a zygote will not become a human being.
I’m sorry if it seems like I’m splitting hairs here, and I realized perfectly well that the author of that piece probably didn’t even realize he was doing this (which almost makes it worse), but every time a pro-lifer erases women like this, I can’t help but cringe. No, more than that, I want to yell.
Over at Boing Boing, “Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe has a few choice words for a Maryland politician“, with a link to the actual letter written by Chris Kluwe. This issue was beautifully handled by Chris Kluwe and certainly has added for me a whole new respect for NFL players.
A older piece by Kate Harding, “The Fantasy of Being Thin“:
And then I started thinking about what it was really like before I’d actually made peace with my body. And what it was really like was this: The Fantasy of Being Thin absolutely dominated my life — even after I’d gotten thin once, found myself just as depressive and scattered and frustrated as always, and then gained all the weight back because, you know, diets don’t work. The reality of being thin didn’t even sink in after all that, because The Fantasy of Being Thin was still far more familiar to me, still what I knew best. I’d spent years and years nurturing that fantasy, and only a couple years as an actual thin person. Reality didn’t have a chance.
We’ve talked a lot here about how being fat shouldn’t stop you from doing the things you’ve always believed you couldn’t do until you were thin. Put on a bathing suit and go waterskiing. Apply for that awesome job you’re just barely qualified for. Ask that hot guy out. Join a gym. Wear a gorgeous dress. All of those concrete things you’ve been putting off? Just fucking do them, now, because this IS your life, happening as we speak.
From Feministing, a “Young Man schools homophobes with… The Bible?“. The video is an hour long, I read the transcript which is linked under the page. Matthew Vines has taken time to research bible quotes on same-sex relationships (sadly failing to recognise bisexuality but you can’t have everything), and comes to a completely different conclusion than the ones spouted by fringe Christianity.
A same-sex couple in Nevada who have had their same sex relationship recognised by the State and who have a “certificate of domestic partnership” which is supposed to give them the same rights as married couples, had their relationship ignored when one of them was admitted to hospital recently. In the Las Vegas Review Journal, “Same-sex couple in Henderson upset with hospital’s treatment“.
From Benny at Queereka, “Kinksters, Time for a Change“. *Trigger warning for discussions of sexual assault, rape, and harassment*
From Yessenia at Queereka, “Self-Defense: Now Available in Pink!“. *Trigger warning for discussion of rape culture, violence, sexual assault and rape*
Now, as a general rule, I’m suspicious when I see phrases like “women’s self defense.” Because isn’t that just called ‘self-defense?’
What makes women’s self defense different? Well, as we’re all generally aware, the implicit rest of the phrase is “women’s self defense against rapists.”
But like most things modified with ‘women,’ the message eventually becomes “self defense that’s pinker and weaker than the regular variety employed by standard (male) humans.” And you get classes like this: “Girls’ Fight Night Out.” Forty-two year old girl Betty Ryan described her reason for attending: ““This was about fun and self-defense, which is why I chose to go.”
Listen, rule of thumb: if you’re learning self-defense against rapists, it’s not gonna be fun.
Three posts from Lesbilicious, “Street Harassment: the taboo is finally breaking”
The neglected phenomenon of street harassment suffered by a majority of women in Brussels as well as in other European cities is the subject of the documentary ‘Femme de la rue’ (‘Woman of the Street’) by student filmmaker Sofie Peteers. Released in Belgium at the end of July 2012, this simple university work created an incredible snowball effect. The topic has been picking up in the francophone medias to such extent that Belgium is now examining the possibility of creating a law to penalize street harassment.
Pride in Moscow has been banned every year, and activists have marched regardless. In 2006 and 2007 the demonstrators were subject to homophobic violence from nationalists as well as from the police, and several were arrested. In 2008 the organisers used a flashmob form of protest, and in 2009 the location was changed at the last minute – clashes with anti-gay protestors were avoided, though the organisers were still arrested and illegally detained overnight. In 2010, activists fed police false information and were able to hold a ten-minute march: for the first time, they avoided violence and arrests.
In late 2010, Alekseev took the Russian government to the European Court of Human Rights, regarding the banned Pride marches in 2006, 2007 and 2008, and won: Russia paid him almost 30,000 Euro in damages and legal fees. However, the next year, the parade was attacked again, and over thirty participants were arrested.
Now back from holidays, and a final post on Cologne is yet to be written, but is percolating around my head, I have much linkspam to share. And as always, this is a fraction of the cool stuff I’ve read this month.
Clem Bastow (who I adore), wrote a great piece on periods in Daily Life:
Back in the good old-bad old days of being fully immersed in social networking, I became known for my propensity to talk about periods: mine, my friends’, my family members’, other people’s, periods on television, periods and advertising, periods, periods, PERIODS.
(It reached a crescendo when some dude on Twitter whined that it was “gross” and I drew this smily face for them in response in mother nature’s own brick-red ink.)
The reason for such menses-mad tweeting was, in part, because I think the continued taboo about menstruation is one of the most depressing aspects of our allegedly enlightened society.
Chloe Papas writes “Speak Up About Partner Abuse” in New Matilda *trigger warning for discussion of partner abuse*:
Partner abuse has become a disturbingly normalised aspect of everyday life in Australia and internationally. There’s no doubt that we’ve come a long way from the hush-hush ignorance of decades prior to the 50s and 60s, but it’s still something that we often choose to not discuss, to sweep under the rug. Many see it as a private family matter, as something that should be dealt with within the home and not talked about publicly. But if it is never discussed, never acknowledged, how can the cycle ever be broken?
Rebecca Solnit writes a great piece, “The Problem With Men Explaining Things” in Mother Jones:
Every woman knows what I’m talking about. It’s the presumption that makes it hard, at times, for any woman in any field; that keeps women from speaking up and from being heard when they dare; that crushes young women into silence by indicating, the way harassment on the street does, that this is not their world. It trains us in self-doubt and self-limitation just as it exercises men’s unsupported overconfidence.
I wouldn’t be surprised if part of the trajectory of American politics since 2001 was shaped by, say, the inability to hear Coleen Rowley, the FBI woman who issued those early warnings about Al Qaeda, and it was certainly shaped by a Bush administration to which you couldn’t tell anything, including that Iraq had no links to Al Qaeda and no WMD, or that the war was not going to be a “cakewalk.” (Even male experts couldn’t penetrate the fortress of their smugness.)
Arrogance might have had something to do with the war, but this syndrome is a war that nearly every woman faces every day, a war within herself too, a belief in her superfluity, an invitation to silence, one from which a fairly nice career as a writer (with a lot of research and facts correctly deployed) has not entirely freed me. After all, there was a moment there when I was willing to let Mr. Important and his overweening confidence bowl over my more shaky certainty.
Corinne Grant at The Hoopla writes about how Tony Abbott is in fact “A Hootin’, Tootin’ Good Ole Boy“:
Tony Abbott is a good bloke. He’s a good Aussie bloke. He’s a good Aussie bloke who is fair dinkum on a bike.
He’s exactly like John Wayne if you replace the twelve gallon Stetson and six shooter with lycra tights and a Consumer Safety Standards approved bike helmet. He’s a hootin’, tootin’, rootin’, good ole boy who knows what he knows and knows it’s right because he knows it. (And by rootin’ I mean he thoroughly enjoys barracking at the cricket – not doing dirty grown-up things that would make the baby Jesus cry.)
Libby Anne writes at Love, Joy, Feminism “Christian Patriarchy to Men: You don’t have to grow up!“:
What are the qualities we generally associate with maturity? The ability to see things from others’ perspectives? The ability to accept that the world doesn’t revolve around you, and that things don’t always go the way you want them to, and that you just have to deal with that? The ability to cooperate with others, to communicate and find compromises that everyone can be happy with?
Yeah, under Christian Patriarchy, a man doesn’t have to do any of that. Because he’s the head of the family, dammit!
What he says goes! God speaks to him, after all, and everyone else should listen and heed what God tells him! He’s the one who gets to make the decisions for the family, and for the children! Period! In other words, a man is allowed to act like a willful, spoiled child who always expects to get his own way. And if he doesn’t get his own way? Expect a reaction of confusion mixed with anger and righteous indignation.
N.K. Jemisin (who I love heaps) writes an excellent review of Dragon Age, and about how to write oppression and privilege well in, “Identity should always be part of the gameplay“:
So basically, the DA creators have had the sense to acknowledge that the non-optional demographics of a person’s background — her gender, her race, the class into which she was born, her sexual orientation — have as much of an impact on her life as her choices. Basically, privilege and oppression are built in as game mechanics. I can’t remember the last time I saw a game that so openly acknowledged the impact of privilege. Lots of games feature characters who have to deal with the consequences of being rich or poor, a privileged race or an oppressed one, but this is usually a linear, superficial thing. The title character in Nier, for example, is a poor single father who’s probably too old for the mercenary life (he looks about 50, but via the miracle of Japanese game traditions he’s probably only 30), but he keeps at it because otherwise his sick daughter will starve. His poverty is simply a motivation. No one refuses to hire him because they think poor people are lazy. He meets a well-dressed, well-groomed young man who lives in a mansion at one point, and the kid doesn’t snub him for being dirty and shirtless. (In fact the kid falls in love with him but that’s a digression.) His age and race and class don’t mean anything, even though in real life they would. So even though I love Nier — great music, fascinating and original world — I like the DA games better. Even in a fantasy world, realism has its place.
I’ve seen a lot of discussion in the SFF writing world about how to write “the other” — i.e., a character of a drastically different background from the writer’s own. It’s generally people of privileged backgrounds asking the question, because let’s face it: if you’re not a straight white able-bodied (etc.) male, you pretty much know how to write those guys already because that’s most of what’s out there. So right now I’m speaking to the white people. One technique that gets tossed around in these discussions is what I call the “Just Paint ‘Em Brown” technique: basically just write the non-white character the same as a white one, but mention somewhere in the text, briefly, that she’s not white. Lots of well-known SFF writers — Heinlein in Starship Troopers, Clarke in Childhood’s End, Card in Ender’s Game — have employed this technique. I’ve seen some books mention a character’s non-whiteness only as a belated “surprise” to the reader (near the end of the book in the Heinlein example). The idea, I guess, is that the reader will form impressions of the character sans racialized assumptions, and therefore still feel positively about the character even after he’s revealed to be one of “them.”
This technique is crap.
Chris Graham at Agenda Tracker has detailed a very damming piece regarding the ABC’s role in the creation of the Intervention in Indigenous communities, especially Lateline’s role in “BAD AUNTY: The truth about the NT intervention and the case for an independent media“.
An article about Courage to Care travelling exhibition (in Australia), featured in Australian Mosaic: the Magazine of the Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Councils of Australia, “Have you got the Courage to Care?“:
Courage to Care aims to empower the people who are usually overlooked in situations involving prejudice and discrimination—the bystanders. Many social tolerance programs are directed towards the victims or the perpetrators. By contrast, Courage to Care focuses on the majority—the bystanders—encouraging them to take action and to confront incidents of discrimination, bullying and harm.
The program uses one of the most significant events of the 20th century to teach a universal concept: one person can make a difference. The Holocaust, the systematic murder during Second World War of 6 000 000 European Jews by Nazi Germany, is the most extreme example of how far racism and discrimination can go if left unchecked by ordinary citizens. Courage to Care uses living historians as well as text, objects, memorabilia and interactive discussion.
By exposing students to the personal experiences of Holocaust survivors and the remarkable stories of the people who rescued them, the program promotes learning and understanding. It does this through enquiry, discourse and critical reflection on personal values.
It does not seek to impose values, but rather encourages students to question instances of racism, intolerance and discrimination. It challenges the bystander who turns a blind eye, rather than stand up for what they instinctively know is right. It thereby challenges indifference.
Malcolm Turnbull gave a speech on equal marriage and how perhaps Australia should have civil unions first as several other countries have, in order to demonstrate that the sky won’t fall in if same-sex relationships are recognised. I’m not going to engage in this debate here other than to say I support marriage equality now.
The Age wrote about this today, and for some reason quoted Lyle Sheldon from the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL), I have no idea why:
The Australian Christian Lobby, which is campaigning against the gay marriage legislation, is warning the Labor Party it risks the creation of a US style religious right if it continues to push for a change to the definition of marriage.
“At the moment both sides [of politics] have policies that appeal to Christians but this issue is damaging Labor,” the lobbby’s chief of staff, Lyle Shelton, said.
Mr Shelton said the rise of the religious right in America had been “polarising politics horribly” and “we don’t need that in Australia at all”.
Now, how I look at this collection of statements is as follows, the Australian Labour Party (ALP), for the most part, supports marriage equality. The ACL warn that if the ALP continues to support marriage equality and not the ACL’s favourite form of bigotry, then there is the potential for the (small) religious right to get political and active in Australia, the way that the religious right is active in the US. The ACL are suggesting that if the ALP continues to support (for the most part) marriage equality, then Australian Christians (and by this suggestion they think most of them although this is not the case) will abandon the ALP and will form their own political party. The ACL go on to suggest that this is a bad thing.
Here’s a small hint for the ACL. Australia has been for many years now a far less religious country than the US. To even suggest that the religious right (such as the ACL) could suddenly be more polarising and horrible than they already are is somewhat laughable. It is sad that the ACL has focused so much energy and fear marriage equality when the majority of Australia is on-board with the idea.
As we know the ACL is linked to the religious right in the US and Dominionism. I suspect their “Warning, warning, you will create the religious right in Australia” is far more of a “YAY RELIGIOUS RIGHT”.
If the ACL want to stop “polarising politics horribly” they should just get out of the marriage equality debate and stop spreading fear and bigotry. After all they cannot know the mind of their god, they cannot practice unconditional love while denying rights and recognition to others and there are so many other social justice issues to look at, poverty, war, the continuation of the NT Intervention, etc. So many issues where Christian compassion, unconditional love, and care can be better spent, in my opinion, than continuing to fear a group who just want to be like everyone else.