Tag Archives: disability

Welcome to the 109th Down Under Feminist Carnival

Hi all, it’s been ages since I blogged because I have been busy with school, life, more life, and then some more life.  I’ve missed you all and I only have one more semester to complete in my course (Graduate Diploma of Museum Studies), which I will write about later (much later, like in November when I’m back from being overseas after I’ve finished my course).

But anyway, there is a Down Under Feminist’s Carnival to share with you all, and I should get right on that.  Thanks to Chally and Scarlett for providing submissions for the carnival.

Feminism

At Tea and Oranges, “Reflections on women in public life“:

But I reckon there must be a way to change how we work so that a steady simmer is the maximum setting. We don’t need anyone to be at a roaring boil, at risk of flooding over and drenching the flames and ruining the whole thing. It’s actually inefficient, really risky, and it means that some of the people at the top get there based on whether they can put in total life commitment long hours – not on other more important criteria.

Emily at Emily Writes wrote, “Dispatches from a car seat wet with an unknown substance“:

I’ve been trying to work out how to say thank you in a way that totally encapsulates the huge and actually quite overwhelming gratitude I feel for you all. When I had to go offline the most beautiful and loving messages started flowing in by email, and then not just by email – by post too.

Judy Horacek provides a collection of comics on the topic of Quests at her blog.

Marian Lorrison writes at the Australian Women’s History Network, “‘Of idle and vagrant habits’: Women and divorce in colonial Australia“:

Most historians realise how difficult it is to trace the intimate lives of ordinary women, especially those of the working class, who were too busy earning a living to write letters or diaries. This is why colonial divorce records offer the historian such a variety of archival treasures, revealing abundant detail about the daily lives and loves of women from different social classes and backgrounds.

Marian Lorrison at Australian Women’s History Network reviews Susan Magarey’s “Passions of the First Wave Feminists” with, “From puritanical wowser to passionate reformer: The re-making of Australia’s first-wave feminists“:

‘Passion’ is not a word usually linked with feminists of the so-called ‘first wave,’ who have received more than a little bad press since they began to agitate for the franchise in the 1880s. The story of suffrage in Australia has been overwhelmingly portrayed as an isolated middle-class phenomenon. This is perhaps inevitable given the scholarly focus on the movement’s leaders, who were for the most part affluent women with time and money enough to pursue political causes. Ian Turner’s inflammatory 1969 claim that Australian women were handed the vote on a plate is also no doubt a reflection of the idea that suffrage in Australia was unexciting and uneventful, with an all-male legislature magnanimously bestowing citizenship upon the women of an enlightened and fledgling nation.

Deb Lee-Talbot at Australian Women’s History Network reviews “Creating A Nation: 1788-1990” with “Fashioning a woman’s place: The creation of an inclusive Australian history“:

One particularly outstanding element is how well this collaboration of authors wrote fluid yet separate chapters. McGrath’s chapters (1, 6 and 12) focus on Aboriginal historical experiences and Quartly’s chapters (2, 3 and 4) present historical narratives about the colonies between 1788 and 1860. Grimshaw’s chapters (5, 7 and 8) create a framework through which to conceptualise Australia from Federation to 1912, whilst Lake’s chapters (9, 10 and 11) finally focus on the more recent twentieth-century history.

Vicky Nagy at the Australian Women’s History Network writes, “The Essex poisoning ring“:

In the midst of tumultuous events in mid nineteenth-century England (revolutions on Continental Europe, famine in Ireland, Chartist revolts, and women demanding the right to vote) the deaths of a few children, two husbands and one brother – all working class, all living in rural villages around Essex, and spaced out over five years – should have barely caused a ripple. However, the events between 1846 and 1851 in the north-west and north-east of Essex caused tension amongst pharmacists, physicians, politicians, newspaper reporters and their editors – not to mention the general populace, who were now riveted to any news about the so-called Essex Poisoning Ring.

Micro-aggressions, race and racism

Stephanie at No Award writes, “Continuum: First Aid for paper cuts“:

Sometimes micro aggressions are subtle and gentle. They’re so tiny and insignificant that I’ve called them paper cuts since before I knew what micro aggressions were.

The thing about micro aggressions, though, is that you have to be on guard for them; and sometimes you’re on guard and they happen anyway, and they cut and cut and cut, and all you think of when you look at that project paperwork is bleeding on it.

proudblacksista writes at Ramblings – conquering kids and cancer, “The trouble with AMS“:

I have trouble maintaining my medication regime at (Local Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Medical Service). I go to the service, my whole family goes and it annoys me that I have to see a health worker, I tell him or her, what I am there for. If I wasn’t sick I wouldn’t be there so why do I need to see the bouncer of the AMS. I then go back to the waiting room and wait for my name to be called to see the doctor. My name gets called and I don’t see the doctor, I have to explain to the nurse why I am there and she takes my blood pressure we talk about that and when she has finished I don’t go into the doctor, I get sent back to the waiting room. After another wait, my name is called again and I finally see a doctor. But It’s not the same doctor I saw last time I was there and I have to tell him what I have already told the health worker and the nurse. I ask for a refill of my medication, should be easy, but it’s not this bloke needs me to give him my entire history, I dutifully submit to him taking my blood pressure, checking me over and asking me again why I need the (list of medications).

Disability

Tessa Prebble writes at The Spinoff, “Ableism is everywhere. Parents of children with disabilities are challenging it, are you?“:

For people in the disability community, the abled community’s shock at these instances of ableism is frustrating. Frustrating because they’ve been trying to tell us this all along. They’ll look at what I’m writing and wonder why it took this story being told by an abled white woman, the parent to a disabled child – and not a disabled person herself – before anyone listened. They’ll shake their heads, because we should have known about this discrimination already. This shouldn’t be news. And they’re right.

Media

Stephanie went to Continuum and writes about SF and horror at writes at No Award, “Continuum: SFFH with Asian characteristics“:

This is not a panel write up; it’s more of a rambling meander of panels I was on and panels I witnessed and thoughts I had along the way. It includes recommendations. But all of it is talking about Asian (mostly Southeast Asian) science fiction, fantasy and horror.

Scarlett Harris writes for SBS, “How watching ‘Search Party’ is like looking into a millennial mirror“:

Major spoilers ahead for the first season of Search Party – particularly the finale.

When we’re introduced to Search Party’s protagonist, Dory (Alia Shawkat), she’s going through the motions in a stagnant relationship with Drew (John Reynolds), who generally whines for Dory to fix him a microwave dinner when he’s hungry and uses her for his solo sexcapades.

Family

Scarlett Harris writes for SBS, “Comment: I can’t get a rental because I own a dog. So now I’m homeless“:

Jennifer Duke, review editor at Domain.com, agrees, telling me that the lack of rentals that are pet-friendly results in “at some point, some pet owners [having to] make the decision between having a roof over their head and keeping their dog or cat. These are adults who are having their life choices and choice of companion dictated to them by a landlord.”

Jess Moss at The Spinoff writes, “Your different brain: How we will tell our child about her diagnosis“:

When we received our girl’s diagnosis last year, we didn’t tell her.

Neither of us queried whether we’d fully explain it to her or not. We both assumed that we wouldn’t for the time being. She’d just turned six and the list of compartmentalised issues on report was long.

LGBTIQ

Chrys Stevenson at Gladly, The Cross-Eyed Bear writes, “The Narcissism of Margaret Court“:

The whole kerfuffle about Margaret Court’s unpopular views on the LGBTIQ community and marriage equality has very little to do with her tennis achievements or the name of a tennis arena. It has everything to do with which side of the argument is telling the truth and which is spreading malicious and deceitful misinformation. In a nutshell, it’s about who is bullying who.

An anonymous post at The Spinoff, “The Masterbatorium: A queer experience of conceiving“:

For years we referred to our bathroom as ‘The Masterbatorium’. We were a house of women who liked showers and baths very much, but the naming came from what happened in our bathroom once a month for six months.

Rebecca Shaw writes at Kill Your Darlings, “Wedded to the System“:

On 18 May, Peter ‘Bon’ Bonsall-Boone died after a long struggle with cancer, leaving behind his partner of over 50 years, Peter de Waal. The two men were activists from the very beginning of their relationship until the very end of Bon’s life, appearing in a video for marriage equality as recently as April. They simply wanted to be equals, and dedicated their lives to that cause.

Miscellaneous

Emily at Emily Writes has organised a “Wine Mum Night” in Wellington (I think).  Anyway, it sounds great and if you can go, you should.

Violence

All posts in this section should be viewed with trigger warnings for harassment, assault, rape, abuse, etc.

Julie at The Hand Mirror writes, “Colin Craig is an abuser“.

 

And that’s it.  Thank you so much for reading.  Please volunteer to host (check out the future carnivals page to see free slots), leave comments on bloggers’ posts, share the carnival on your blogs/social networks, and read away.

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Welcome to the 94th edition of the Down Under Feminist Carnival

Wow, 94 carnivals, that is quite a number.  I’m proud to be part of this, and hope that you enjoy reading this collection of feminist writing from Australia and New Zealand.

The Down Under Feminist Carnival is always looking for more hosts.  If you have a blog, live in (or have lived in) Australia and New Zealand, and are a feminist, then get in touch at the Down Under Feminist Carnival site.  Details of what is involved is also available here.  Just remember, you won’t be doing this on your own, there will be plenty of us to help you find posts and for you to ask questions.

Thank you to Chally for organising the carnival and sending me posts, and Mary and Scarlett for also sending me posts. On with the carnival!

Relationships

Blue Milk wrote two pieces on relationships, one short, one shorter, “Follow kindness” and “On new relationships“.

Sexism

Avril E Jean writes, “Really, New Scientist?” and then follows it up immediately with a post on “Gender assumptions“.

Deborah at A Bee of a Certain Age wrote, “Another entry for the “Patriarchy harms men too” files“.

Scarlett Harris wrote for Harlot, “Does The LFL Have A Place In The Women’s Sports Revolution?

With the increased interest in not only women in sport but in different kinds of women’s sports, would the LFL, in its original incarnation of a SuperBowl halftime attraction in which barely dressed models rolled around chasing a ball on pay-per-view, be dreamed into existence today?

Carla Pascoe wrote for The Conversation, “The ongoing taboo of menstruation in Australia“:

Why do we use quaint euphemisms such as “sanitary products” and “feminine hygiene products” in supermarket aisles? We are still profoundly uncomfortable about the fact that females bleed once a month for half of their lives. It’s messy, it’s unsettling and no one wants to talk about it.

Disability

A C Buchanan writes, “On Empathy and Building Spaceships“:

When I was around 10, I read an article in a newspaper about Asperger’s Syndrome. “That’s me!” I wanted to yell, as I made my way through the bullet points. I got to the last one. Doesn’t like writing stories. I thought of the novel I’d just written. (It was about two German children on the run in WWII Wales. It was probably half plagiarised. Still, it was a novel.) I read the bullet point again. “This isn’t me,” I thought, deflated.

Lauredhel writes at Hoyden About Town, “Today in Ableism: The Perth Writers Festival, Part Two.“:

The rows of information and ticket tents, the coffee and drinks tents, the tables and chairs, the bar, the water refill stations – these make up Writers Central, the busy hub of the Festival. The tents are all placed facing a large area of bumpy grass with sand traps. This row of tents all have their BACKS to a flat, very wide paved area. I will not mince words here. The organisers are clearly complete arseholes, since they know this is a problem and have failed to fix it. It would have cost them nothing to set up this area such that the tents and vans were accessible, and such that there were a couple of tables and chairs on a paved surface. Words cannot express how angry I am about this setup.

Activism

Kath at The Fat Heffalump wrote, “Plus 40 Fabulous – What Makes Me Happy“:

When you’re dealing with social activism of any kind, you have to be able to find the joy in life easily, or you’re going to burn out very quickly.  There has to be someone, and some things, that make you happy, and you have to be able to access them when the activism starts to get you down.  It’s all part of self care, which is VITAL for all of us, let alone those of us engaging in activism.

Scarlett Harris at The Scarlett Woman wrote, “In Defence of Millennials.“:

For the record, I don’t think the state of millennials in society is as dire as Steinem et al. would have us believe. I may work part time, but I also freelance. Last year, I had two additional jobs and the year before that I had two internships. As far as job loyalty goes, I’ve been consistently employed in my primary part-time job for six and a half years (and I’m up for long service leave this year!), while the part-time gig I had before that I worked in for seven. A few of my friends work to travel, and another is working in the Prime Minister’s Cabinet! We’re more educated than our parents and we’re more likely to volunteer and get involved in community projects. Gloria Steinem was a grassrooter from way back, but how many activist campaigns in recent years have been started by millennials? There’s the Occupy movement, SlutWalk, #illridewithyou, Love Makes a Way, #BlackLivesMatter. In the corporate sector, Mark Zuckerberg created the most popular social media platform in the world, Facebook, while Jennifer Lawrence was 2015’s highest-grossing female movie star. (The highest grossing male movie stars are mostly older white men until Channing Tatum makes an appearance on the list at number 13, which perhaps says something about the determination and drive of young women more so than millennial men.) Millennials are hardly left wanting for ways to make an impact on the world.

Race and Racism

Kath at The Fat Heffalump provided the transcript of her interview at Essence Magazine, “Interview with Essence Magazine – Full Transcript” after her tweet regarding Beyoncé went viral:

Fellow white lady writers – if asked to write about Beyoncé’s new song, the answer is “I think you should ask a black woman to write it.”

Stephanie at No Award wrote, “lunar new year and diminishing returns“:

It diminishes me not at all to call this festival the Lunar New Year. I can be specific when I’m talking about our specifics: the Ba Gua my mother replaced on Sunday afternoon; the care with which the Reunion Dinner menu was planned; the offerings to the Kitchen God to keep his mouth sticky-shut and sealed from dobbing on us to the Jade Emperor; the last banquet after the fifteen days that will have come before. But the Chinese tendency towards blanket statements (she says, making a blanket statement) diminishes us all, lends us a careless superiority we shouldn’t want, and a thoughtlessness to others that we shouldn’t have.

Liz at No Award wrote, “Blackface in Australia“:

Every time this issue comes up, there’s always some drongo going, “But we’re not America!  We don’t have the same history of slavery and racism that they do, so blackface isn’t racist here!”

And they’re half right — we don’t have the same history of slavery and racism as the US.  We have a history of slavery and racism all our very own.  And it still doesn’t make blackface acceptable.

Stephanie at No Award wrote, “taking up room in con spaces“:

Quokkas, some years ago at an Australian con, a white, American Guest of Honour explained to me what colonialism in South East Asia looked like. She was the Guest of Honour, so I didn’t know how to tell her to fuck off.

Celeste Liddle wrote at Daily Life, “Why Constitutional Recognition isn’t necessarily the answer to improving Indigenous rights“:

The forum, entitled “Aboriginal Community Open Meeting“, was based around the concept of “self-determination” for Aboriginal communities. It’s the first in a series of consultations between the community and the Victorian Government, organised with an aim to inform the Federal Government on the topic of Constitutional Recognition for Indigenous people.

Constitutional Recognition is a Federal agenda, which so far consists mostly of establishing the ‘Recognise campaign’ in a bid to educate Australians about the importance on the recognition referendum.

Celeste Liddle also wrote for Daily Life, “Indigenous Australians have a right to speak our first language“:

It’s therefore remarkable that while a “White Australian Leader” can receive superlatives for reciting an Indigenous language in parliament, a female Aboriginal politician can be reprimanded for reverting to her native tongue during a debate in the Northern Territory Parliament.

This is precisely what happened last week when member of the Northern Territory Legislative Assembly Bess Price spoke in Warlpiri in session. Price was informed by the speaker Kezia Purick that “should a member use a language other than English without the leave of the assembly it will be ruled disorderly and the member will be required to withdraw the words”.

Courtney at Raising Queens wrote, “I think I spotted a brown face in Frozen“:

I recently watched a video of young children being given the choice of playing with either a white doll or a black doll. Every child, including the black children, picked the white doll. Even after saying they knew which doll looked more like them, the black children still said they’d prefer the white doll because the black doll was “ugly”, “bad” and “mean”. Once again, I wonder how many of these children had actually been told that their skin colour was ugly. They don’t have to be told explicitly because the message is still coming from somewhere.

Kate Galloway wrote at KatGallow, “The pyramid of suffering“:

My concern however is that this strategy is indicative of a fragmentation of asylum seeker debate in Australia. Lowy Institute polls indicate that six out of ten of Australians support mandatory detention. It is difficult for refugee campaigners to get public support for a broader campaign about asylum seekers or mandatory detention, and the support for the named infants, including baby Asha, may indicate a threshold of suffering beyond which the Australian public is unwilling to accept.

Bodies

Friend of Marilyn wrote, “On irresponsible reporting (just another day in the fatpocalypse)“:

“‘Fat people should be fined’ – experts say” reads the headline of a story posted on the NZ Herald website this afternoon. It’s yet another example of irresponsible reporting on fatness by the NZ media.

The story gets a lot wrong, including that the study in question doesn’t say anything about fat people being fined (in fact, the word ‘fine[d]’ is not used in the 12 page article). Other falsehoods include the claim that global obesity levels are increasing, and that “exercise and healthy eating are the key to reversing this trend”. (Go ahead and find the science that demonstrates that diet and exercise result in permanent – more than 5yrs – meaningful – more than 10kilos – weight loss. Go ahead. When you find it, send it to me). The Herald story then continues to talk about the key to weight loss that is found in the study.

Iona Bruce at Daily Life wrote, “Where are all the feminist personal trainers?“:

In my opinion, being healthy is not how you look. It’s how you feel. I try to erase years’ worth of media­-driven brainwashing by teaching my clients to stop measuring progress by what the scales say, and start feeling their progress through what their body can do. And what your body can achieve is completely unique to you. The only person you should ever compare yourself with, is yourself.

Rebecca Shaw wrote at Daily Life, “Why it’s so hurtful when my friends complain about feeling ‘fat’“:

What is much harder for me to ignore is the insidious, negative language around fatness that is spoken by loved ones, acquaintances, colleagues and strangers alike on a daily basis. This is a concept known as ‘fat talk’, which sadly is not a late night show where I invite cool fat women on to talk about their lives, but rather an informal dialogue during which participants express body dissatisfaction, often expressed by the very people who would be disgusted at the man who threw his cigarette at me.

Natalie at definatalie wrote, “True story: I sew my own pads.“:

There are lots of positives about using cloth pads: cheaper, reduced rubbish, sewing/ buying your own customised pads is fun, tailored pads to suit your body shape, cloth feels nicer than plastic, no adhesive/ plastic rashes,  you’ve always got a stash handy, plus more and more. Some people say their cramping and period length are reduced but no studies conclusively prove this, nor have I experienced this. At the end of the day, if you find something that works for you, then that’s all that matters.

Family, children and the like

Emily wrote at Mama Said, “Who will you be?“:

One of my favourite things to do is imagine who my boys will grow up to be. Will they be bogans? Or hippies? Will they stay up late reading by torchlight like I did? Or will they ignore all books like their father? Will they be outdoorsy like him? Or will they curl their lip at the thought of a hike? (I just don’t understand hiking ok I mean it’s just difficult walking right? I don’t even want to walk let alone difficult walk.)

Julie at The Hand Mirror wrote, “The problem is low pay, not family size“:

By stating bluntly “if you can’t feed then don’t breed” a series of unhelpful assumptions are made, including that people’s financial situations don’t change over time, or at least don’t get worse.  In an age of uncertainty around employment, the future of work, rapidly changing technology and industries, this seems a naïve assumption to make. In decades gone by how many people, young women in particular, took typing at school before we saw the rise of the personal computer and the demise of the typing pool?

Miscellaneous

Dr Jess Berentson-Shaw guest posts at Mama Said, “Should you get your child immunised?”  And of course the answer is yes, and no debate will be answered into.

Emily writes at Mama Said, “About time – A festival that is kid-friendly!” about a festival in Auckland in March 2016.

Liz at No Award writes, “On the corner is a banker with a motorcar“:

Look, Yarraville isn’t just gentrified, it’s aggressively so, and to the detriment of the wider — and poorer – – community.  The pop-up park story is a case in point: when Maribyrnong Council removed the temporary park and prepared to shift it to a new location, the people of Yarraville whinged until the council changed its mind and made it permanent.  Cute!  And totally at the expense of less adorable, less wealthy parts of the municipality, that might have enjoyed all the benefits that temporarily closing a street for open space can provide. (The suburbs in the area that aren’t Yarraville are among the most disadvantaged across all of Victoria, so that’s nice.)

Media

Rebecca Shaw interviewed Mallory Ortberg for Junkee and it’s “Cats, ‘Texts From Jane Eyre’ And Men Being Very Quiet Online: A Chat With The Toast’s Mallory Ortberg“:

I mean, this is a great question. “How can we make men quieter in general?” is always a worthwhile thing to ask. They have a really hard time with it. They struggle. They are sweethearts, but it doesn’t come naturally. We just make it super clear that men aren’t the point. There’s not going to be a lot of patience for a straight white guy coming in and saying ‘have you thought about my experience?’ because odds are…we’ve heard it, and odds are your experience is actually a little silly and nobody ever told you your experience is a little bit silly, they always told you it was very very serious and important.

Anna at Hoyden About Town wrote, “Shakespeare in Australia“:

At the grassroots level, however, there is tremendous passion and enthusiasm for Shakespeare in this country. Some universities are holding special lectures or symposia, and both professional and amateur theatre performances are being staged. It is my hope that with an online space for people to find out about these events, and a little help with ideas and templates for things to do, events will start to spring up, or at the very least, people who are interested will find more easily something going on near them.

Shakespeare TwentyScore is fulfilling that role. At present it is mostly event listings plus a few useful links, but it will grow and expand throughout the year. The actual anniversary date is 23 April, but all kinds of things will be taking place all through 2016, so keep checking for updates, and expanding resources pages.

QUILTBAG – trigger warnings for most of these posts

Jennifer Wilson at No Place for Sheep wrote, “Christian Lobby claims it needs hate speech to argue against ssm“.  She also wrote, “March of the Wankpuffins” about the inquiry into the Safe Schools Coalition announced by the Australian Federal Government on Tuesday 23 February.

I also wrote about the inquiry into the Safe Schools Coalition, “Why we need safe schools for LGBTI kids and LGBTI people“.

Erin Marie wrote at Erinaree, “Safe Schools Australia – Letter to Prime Minister Turnbull

Jo at A Life Unexamined wrote, “On Coming Out as Asexual at Work (or not)“:

The other thing about coming out (for anyone who isn’t straight, this time), is that you never stop having to come out. Like Queenie once wrote, it’s coming out (and coming out [and coming out {and coming out}]). Because if you don’t actively talk about not being straight, you’ll keep being read as straight by default.

Violence – trigger warnings for these posts

Julie at The Hand Mirror wrote, “Content Warning Rape Culture

Ana Cabo at Junkee wrote, “An NZ Journo Is Copping Abuse For Interrogating Two Guys Who Creeped On Her At Laneway

Brydie Lee-Kennedy at Junkee wrote, “Why Is Everyone Only Calling On Women To #FreeKesha?

Clem Bastow wrote at Daily Life, “Kesha shouldn’t have to work with the man who allegedly raped her

Amy Gray wrote at ABC, “Paul Sheehan’s unchecked allegations ‘a catastrophe for sexual assault victims’

Related Posts:

Welcome to the 89th Down Under Feminists’ Carnival

Come one, come all to the 89th Down Under Feminists’ Carnival.  I know an apostrophe goes in there somewhere, and that is where it goes today.  There are many wonderful things about the number 89, it’s 24th prime number, following 83 and preceding 97. 89 is a Chen prime and a Pythagorean prime. It is the smallest Sophie Germain prime to start a Cunningham chain of the first kind of six terms, {89, 179, 359, 719, 1439, 2879}. 89 is an Eisenstein prime with no imaginary part and real part of the form 3n - 1. M89 is the 10th Mersenne prime. (all from Wikipedia)  I don’t know what most of that actually means, but I share it for your edumacation.

Anyway, September was yet another fantastic month to be a blogger in Australia and New Zealand, particularly a feminist blogger.  There was the “knifing” of Tony Abbott, a new Minister for Women in Australia, a new Australian Prime Minister (more primes), Chris Brown effectively banned from Australia, lots of commentary on the scourge of domestic violence, spring started and Melbourne eventually started to warm up.  I haven’t been paying attention to the weather in other parts of Australia and New Zealand, so I hope your weather was also more spring like, and less winter/summer like.

If you reside in Australia or New Zealand and you’d like to host a future Down Under Feminist Carnival please let Chally know here.  It’s not very difficult, and I promise I will help by sharing relevant posts with you.  And now on with the carnival.

Continue reading Welcome to the 89th Down Under Feminists’ Carnival

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Post-Apocalyptic Book Review: Damnation Alley – Roger Zelazny

Book: Damnation Alley by Roger Zelazny

Form consumed: ebook, also in hardcopy about the place (Booktopia, Fishpond, etc)

Plot (from Wikipedia)

The story opens in a post-apocalyptic Southern California, in a hellish world shattered by nuclear war decades before. Several police states have emerged in place of the former United States. Hurricane-force winds above five hundred feet prevent any sort of air travel from one state to the next, and sudden, violent, and unpredictable storms make day-to-day life a mini-hell. Hell Tanner, an imprisoned killer, is offered a full pardon in exchange for taking on a suicide mission—a drive through “Damnation Alley” across a ruined America from Los Angeles to Boston—as one of three vehicles attempting to deliver an urgently needed plague vaccine.

Type of post-apocalyptic story: The current world has ended, the story starts around 30 – 40 years after the event.  Society for the most part has stabilised and is now focussed on survival.

Review:

I really enjoyed this book, for the most part, however there were a few gaping issues.  Let’s do all the good things.  There will be spoilers

World building: I really liked the way Zelazny put the world together for this book.  The main character was not alive when the current world was destroyed and the new world was formed.  He doesn’t know most of what happened, and doesn’t care – so neither does the reader for the most part.  During the story the main character, Tanner, finds out a bit more, and still doesn’t care, as living in the world as it is, is his current struggle.

The fantastical way that the world has been reshaped due to radiation, storms, and people, the way people survive day to day, and how government continues (or doesn’t) to operate is all very interesting and I can see why a lot of people were inspired by the story to create works in homage.

Character building: There is only one real character, the rest are there to drive the plot but are in essence completely unimportant.  Despite Tanner supposedly being a complete and utter arsehole (and he is a bit), he’s really just a guy who wants to be left alone, and safe – though his version of left alone and safe tends to be one where a lot of other people end up dead.  Granted many of those other people have attempted to kill him at some point.  He’s not completely unlikeable as a character and you do find yourself rooting for him.  I’d say he is lazily written because he’s not really one thing or another, and I think he should be given how he is introduced.

Description: I’m a big believer in using words to their fullest effect so I can build a mental picture of what the author is describing.  I found that this book was very successful in that, but not so successful that I wanted to stop reading after describing some mutated horror, or yet more violence.

And now the badly done bits

Women: So there are three main female characters in the book; two are sex objects and one is a mother.  The book would have worked completely fine without them, and I actually would have preferred that to be the case.  I haven’t read much Zelazny so I don’t know if he cannot write women, or whether he is actually sexist, but the three characters were really pointless to the story, and appear to be a lazy attempt at inclusion.

The mother was there in a farming household, and she was intimidated by Tanner – which isn’t surprising, he’s a force of chaotic nature and I’d be scared of him.  She didn’t drive the plot, and did nothing than be a mother to some children Tanner was interacting with, and the husband of a farmer.  She wasn’t badly written, just an illustration along the story.

The two sex objects were awful.  Zelazny clearly cannot write a sex scene.  The first woman, Cornelia, is a member of a gang that attacks Tanner.  Tanner is effectively driving a tank, and he takes out pretty much everyone in the gang, and avoids killing Cornelia by chance (he doesn’t know she’s there initially).  He picks up her, patches her wounds and she joins him.  She clearly doesn’t care that Tanner has killed her entire gang (and probably family), and happily comes along with him.  They hook up, have sex, she gets killed by another gang, Tanner buries her and continues on his way.

The second woman, Evelyn, only exists to drive the plot forward.  She lives in the plague infested Boston and is meeting with her beau who believes that he is infected with the plague but wants to see her one last time.  Then ensues one of the most awkwardly written sex scenes I’ve read for a while:

They moved to the bed and did not speak again until after he had ridden her for several minutes and she heard him sigh and felt the warm moisture come into her. Then she rubbed his shoulders and said, “That was good.”

Evelyn, her beau and most of Boston aren’t likeable.  You don’t care that they’re dying of the plague, and the world would probably be a better place if they did because then a whole lot of annoying people wouldn’t exist.  Badly written characters like this really don’t help the story.  If Tanner wasn’t such a strong character, and his determination to just keep moving forward, you really wouldn’t care about what happens to Boston.  Because Tanner cares (though even that seems to be out of character), you care.

Non-white characters: I don’t recall any being described in the book.  Evelyn is described as having red hair, Cornelia is described as having brown hair, and an obvious red burn to her face (from Tanner’s self defence flame-thrower).  The mother is described as having red cheeks.  Tanner really doesn’t have that much of a description other than having dark eyes, a beard, and being a biker.

Disabled characters: Despite the world pretty much self destructing there are no mentions of disabled characters. Given the current state of the world, there would be some, and you’d expect there to be a mention of them.

Queer characters: None are mentioned.  It wouldn’t have been too hard to include one in the story, Evelyn’s beau could have been a woman, or bisexual, or even trans, any of the other characters that Tanner briefly meets could have been queer.

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Post apocalyptic story-telling

I consume a lot of post-apocalyptic stories, mostly in book format, but also in films and television.  Part of it is because I enjoy sf stories, and post-apocalyptic stories look to the future and what could happen to the world and there are elements of both science fiction and fantasy in doing that.  Part of it is also because I’m a cold war kid.

I grew up in Alice Springs, which is next door to the US and Australian intelligence base Pine Gap.  I grew up when the threat of nuclear warfare was real.  I grew up reading Children of the Dust, and it was more of a case of when the war would start than if.  This mindset is hard to shake, and so I am drawn to the stories people tell about what if the world we knew ended, and what would happen next.

That said, I’m glad most stories don’t focus on the actual transition from today’s world to the newly imagined world, because that isn’t pretty at all.  I watched bits of Under the Dome on TV, and it’s not nice to watch or read about people who need medication to stay alive suffer as their access to medication disappears, or when the water runs out and people start dehydrating or drinking unsafe water, or when food sources disappear and people start starving, or when the social order we appreciate completely breaks down and those that are deemed easy prey are expendable.  I know that this happens today in many parts of the world, and it’s not what I want for anyone.

I won’t watch Under the Dome, or even The Walking Dead, because I don’t need that level of horror in my life, but it still fascinates me. What happens with race, gender and sexuality when the world we know today fractures and becomes something different?  Do the current biases and prejudices remain? (probably yes) Will people change for the better? (probably no).

Annalee Newitz doesn’t think that the rights that women have fought for and won in many countries around the world are necessarily guaranteed.

So what does that tell us about the future? As I said earlier, it can be a fairly depressing prospect. We see that women have gained freedom and lost it, over and over again. There is no smooth road from lack of freedom to total freedom. It is, as Le Tigre sang in relation to something related, “One step forward, five steps back.”

So why this post?  I want to review some of the books I’ve read recently, looking at how women, non-white people, disabled people and sexual minorities are represented, what ended the world today, and whether the future envisaged in those stories is one that I’d want to live in.

Stay tuned as I write over the next while posts about each of those books (when I’m focused and have time obviously).  All thoughts and recommendations of other books welcome.

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I wandered lonely as a linkspam (October 2014)

So, in a very short time I gathered a wide range of interesting posts and I need to close out several tabs in my browser, so here we are and I’m sharing more interesting (well at least to me) things with you.  If you are not interested in linkspam today, go and check out my cookbook blog, and look at all the cooking I’ve been doing recently.

Ian Baker writes at Medium, “Growing Up Poor With Three Parents“:

It’s easy to see why people might come to think of polyamory, at least in the form they see today, as the purview of “rich, pretty people with too much time on their hands.” However, this viewpoint fails to acknowledge the underprivileged nonmonogamists among us — it serves to alienate the disadvantaged, to discourage them from even trying it. This denies polyamory’s considerable economic, social, and structural benefits to those who need them the most.

I am a second-generation poly person, who grew up in the eighties. My parents were quite poor when I was born, and I’ve experienced a great deal of class mobility over the course of my life. I’ve witnessed first-hand how economic privilege is not a requirement for nonmonogamy. In fact, the nontraditional nature of my family directly facilitated my own escape from a life of poverty. This is what it was like for me, growing up poor in America with two moms and a dad.

Juliet Khan at Comics Alliance writes, “Fear As A Way Of Life: Why Women In Comics Don’t ‘Just Report’ Sexual Harassment“:

Fear is also meant to keep us safe from sexual harassment, assault and abuse. We’re told not to stay out too late, not to go out alone, not to drink, not to lead anyone on, not to go home with anyone, not to ever feel safe in any situation that a man might take advantage of. If you fear the (implicitly common) worst from the men around you, you will escape it. When harassment, assault, and abuse take place anyway, fear is often a distinctly purposeful element of the encounter. Sometimes, this is subtle—it might take place in a deliberately secluded spot, or the perpetrator might be in a position of power over your future. Or, in the case of rape-and-death-threat style online harassment, the naked point of it might be to instill fear. After the harassment, assault, or abuse has taken place, it is fear that keeps women from speaking out. Fear of being branded the whiny bitch, of enduring the Anita Sarkeesian experience, or having one’s career torpedoed by a thousand nerds high on a lifetime’s worth of entitlement and vitriol.

Fear is what keeps us silent. Fear is what keeps men from understanding the ubiquity of these experiences. Fear is what keeps us from attaching a name to our allegations. Fear is what makes harassment, assault, and abuse a rite of passage for women in this industry and the world beyond. Fear, in this society, is what makes you a woman. And fear, in extinguishing discussion of its cruelties, keeps us from understanding its nature and better dismantling it.

Michelle Garcia writes at Advocate.com, “Op-ed: My Bi Choice“:

During my first year here, I was just glad to have a job. I pitched dumb articles and prayed I wouldn’t screw anything up (I did. A lot). But paired with being at the bottom of the totem pole on the staff, I also felt like my own sexuality was still not valid. I had a boyfriend and barely had any lady experience. I had lived through all kinds of racism and sexism, but the extent of overt homophobia hurled at me involved some stupid girl in eighth grade calling me a dyke, and me replying, “So?” and then she shrugged, and then music class started. Here I was writing articles about people being murdered solely for being transgender, or people being prevented from marrying or serving openly in the military. There were bigger problems in the world than my bi invisibility. So I failed to speak up. Often. I simply didn’t feel gay enough.

Kate Hakala at Nerve writes, “The Weird and Troubling History of Bisexuality Studies“:

Today marks the 15th annual Celebrate Bisexuality Day — a day dedicated to bringing respect, visibility, and awareness to all people who identify as having fluid identities. Since more than half of the LGBT community is comprised of bisexuals (1.8% of the total American population), it’s important to give recognition to a group that includes people of all gender identities from cis to trans and sexual orientations from queer to pansexual. We’re talking everyone from Anna Paquin, to Cynthia Nixon, Chirlane McCray, Tom Daley, Angelina Jolie, Billie Joe Armstrong, Megan Fox, Clive Davis, Megan Mullally, Andy Dick, David Bowie, and Lady Gaga.

Bisexuality can sometimes feel like a largely invisible orientation because of its historic neglect and ridicule in both the media and sciences. Often times, bisexuality can be portrayed as “greedy,” “a bridging mechanism,” to homosexuality, or worse, “imaginary.” All of which, of course, are inaccurate. In honor of bisexual visibility, Nerve took a look back at landmark scientific investigations which discussed both the validity and invalidity of bisexuality through the decades. This is how we got from Alfred Kinsey to Tom Daley.

Melissa Parke’s speech was published in The Guardian, “No one should be fooled into believing security is as simple as greater surveillance and deeper silence“:

I question the premise of the government’s general approach to this area of policy, which is essentially that freedoms must be constrained in response to terrorism; and that the introduction of greater obscurity and impunity in the exercise of government agency powers that contravene individual freedoms will both produce, and are justified in the name of, greater security.

If we want to continue our lives free from terrorism and orchestrated violence – so the argument goes – we have to accept shifting the balance between freedom and constraint away from the observance of basic rights and towards greater surveillance, more interference, deeper silence.

Let me say that no one should be fooled into believing it is as simple as that.

Catherine Buni and Soraya Chemaly write at The Atlantic, “The Unsafety Net: How Social Media Turned Against Women“:

All of this raised a series of troubling questions: Who’s proliferating this violent content? Who’s controlling its dissemination? Should someone be? In theory, social media companies are neutral platforms where users generate content and report content as equals. But, as in the physical world, some users are more equal than others. In other words, social media is more symptom than disease: A 2013 report from the World Health Organization called violence against women “a global health problem of epidemic proportion,” from domestic abuse, stalking, and street harassment to sex trafficking, rape, and murder. This epidemic is thriving in the petri dish of social media.

At this summer’s VidCon, an annual nationwide convention held in Southern California, women vloggers shared an astonishing number of examples. The violent threats posted beneath YouTube videos, they observed, are pushing women off of this and other platforms in disproportionate numbers. When Anita Sarkeesian launched a Kickstarter to help fund a feminist video series called Tropes vs. Women, she became the focus of a massive and violently misogynistic cybermob. Among the many forms of harassment she endured was a game where thousands of players “won” by virtually bludgeoning her face. In late August, she contacted the police and had to leave her home after she received a series of serious violent online threats.

Danielle Keats Citron, law professor at the University of Maryland and author of the recently released book Hate Crimes in Cyberspace, explained, “Time and time again, these women have no idea often who it is attacking them. A cybermob jumps on board, and one can imagine that the only thing the attackers know about the victim is that she’s female.” Looking at 1,606 cases of “revenge porn,” where explicit photographs are distributed without consent, Citron found that 90 percent of targets were women. Another study she cited found that 70 percent of female gamers chose to play as male characters rather than contend with sexual harassment.

This type of harassment also fills the comment sections of popular websites. In August, employees of the largely female-staffed website Jezebel published an open letter to the site’s parent company, Gawker, detailing the professional, physical, and emotional costs of having to look at the pornographic GIFs maliciously populating the site’s comments sections everyday. “It’s like playing whack-a-mole with a sociopathic Hydra,” they wrote, insisting that Gawker develop tools for blocking and tracking IP addresses. They added, “It’s impacting our ability to do our jobs.”

Camille Beredjick writes at Everyday Feminism, “Why Some Bisexuals Don’t Feel Welcome in the Queer Community“:

As queer issues are beginning to get public attention, and awareness of gay and lesbian relationships is rising, there’s one group that often gets left out in the cold: bisexual people.

Inae Oh at Mother Jones writes, “Ladies, Let Sarah Silverman Convince You to Get a Sex Change to Fix the Gender Wage Gap“:

Sarah Silverman, “writer, comedian, and vagina owner,” is no longer going to wait for the rest of the country to get on board to fix this inequality. In a new satirical video, she proposes the only rational solution left—get a sex change.

“Every year the average woman loses around $11,000 to the wage gap,” Silverman explains, while waiting patiently to choose the perfect penis for her surgical transformation. “Over the course of the working years of her life, that’s almost 500 grand.”

At Go Make Me a Sandwich, “D&D 5E: Why so many wimmenz??“:

UGH WIMMENZ WHY DOES THE NEW D&D HAVE SO MANY OF THEM THEY ARE OBJECTIVELY TERRIBLE AMIRITE AND ALSO BROWN PEOPLE DON’T RUIN MY FANTASY ABOUT MAGIC AND DRAGONS WITH BROWN WOMEN WTF IS WRONG WITH YOU

Jesus, internet. Could you maybe try to be less awful some time?

So here we go. Because it’s a thing worth saying, here are some reasons why D&D 5E is great and is totally a thing that tabletop gaming needed. (Spoilers: it’s the art)

Also, taking a step back, look at the characters being depicted here. These characters all come from obviously distinct cultures. So not only do we have group portraits that include a variety of ethnic backgrounds, but we also have PoC adventurers who come from obviously non-white cultures, rather than being rolled into some White Fantasy Crypto-European culture.

Which is really just the best, because yay social justice! But also because White Fantasy Crypto-Europe has gotten boring as shit. So the fact that WoTC has taken effort to portray a variety of cultures that go beyond different flavors of white people is amazing, because it’s new and exciting.

Howard Hotson at Times Higher Education writes, “Germany’s great tuition fees U-turn“:

Why did Germany introduce tuition fees in the first place? The answer, in short, is that politicians favoured the idea. Self-styled “modernisers” had been advocating tuition fees since German reunification in 1990. Cultural differences between east and west initially hindered this plan, but the main obstacle was a federal law banning tuition fees, which echoed provisions guaranteeing free education in the constitutions of individual states. In 2005, however, the Federal Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe ruled that moderate fees, coupled with affordable loans, would safeguard these constitutional provisions. Within two years, a cascade of laws had swept through most of the federal Länder. The attraction of shifting some of the funding burden to individual beneficiaries was irresistible. So was the compulsion to imitate the changes made elsewhere, lest universities in one’s own state should remain less well funded, and the public purse more stretched, than in neighbouring states.

Seven out of 10 states in west Germany introduced fees in 2006 or 2007; an eighth, Bremen, was prevented from doing so by a lawsuit. Only two – Rheinland-Pfalz and Schleswig-Holstein – resisted the tide completely.

If such unanimity had been maintained, policymakers would now be declaring these changes inevitable. Yet within a single electoral cycle, their long-sought policy was comprehensively overturned. The only state still charging tuition fees in 2014, Lower Saxony, will cease to do so at the end of this academic year.

Waleed Aly wrote at the Sydney Morning Herald, “Burqa ban a political excuse for persecution“:

But ignorance is no barrier precisely because this debate really has nothing to do with the women being recast as some kind of problem. Strip it all back and they’ve done nothing to invite this. They aren’t the ones charged with plotting “demonstration killings”. They aren’t the ones being busted carrying weapons or attacking police officers.

They are, however, the ones most often assaulted or abused on the street or on public transport. They’re the ones whose freedom we try most to restrict.

In short, they become the symbolic target for our rage; the avatar we choose to represent a generalised enemy, and the threat it poses. In this, we obey what seems a diabolically universal principle: that whatever the outrage, whatever the fear, and whatever the cause, it is women that must suffer first and most.

Potty-Mouthed Princesses Drop F-Bombs for Feminism by FCKH8.com

Mera Terrha Pakistan writes, “Bisexuality is a Queer Sin“:

Moreover, if you’re a bi woman in a queer group and you’re with a woman, you are functionally lesbian so that’s okay. You can talk about your bi-ness and everyone will make a big joke about it, but basically, it’s okay, you haven’t strayed. But if somehow you accidentally fall for a man and are in a relationship with him, suddenly it’s not funny anymore. A bi woman in a relationship with a man is straight (and dead) to lesbians.

What I’ve found more interesting recently is that bi men are also disregarded by gay men, but not for being traitors ore foreign agents. It’s more that gay men think men can’t actually be bi. Oh, you can get a gay man to say that, of course, men are bi and bisexuality exists, all that jazz; but in gossip or chat mode, when it comes up that a man says he’s bi, the answer goes something like: “Him? He’s a pakki khusri! He’s just saying he’s bi because, trust me, I’ve seen millions like him, he’s not just gay, he’s a bottom!”

At Even Aud, “Children and Transgender People Part 2:“:

You can explain that the world is a very complex place, and that people often react with fear, anger and even violence to these complexities. In the case of trans people our existence challenges some very,very deeply held beliefs. The idea that there are, and only should be two mutually exclusive genders that your gender is immutable after birth and no changing can happen, is literally one of the foundations of western society.Transgender people shake that belief. It causes a very fundamental fear  in people. “if they are transgender, if their gender changes..what about me? Could that happen to me?” For many cisgender people this is a terrifying prospect. Gender is something that we base a lot of ourselves around. Transgender and especially genderqueer/non binary /gender non conforming people shake that base. When that is shaken some people would rather react with oppression, violence, bullying instead of taking a look inside themselves and examine their gender and answer tough questions.

Mera Terrha Pakistan writes, “Liveability“:

This is a queer problem. It requires a queer solution.

People are being killed. All kinds of people in all kinds of places. Targeted. Planned. Angry mob murders. Serial murders. And there is no real sense that can be made, no coherent thread that can be pulled between everything so that we can say, yes, this is why, let’s just stop this one thing and…

So the problem of fear and the problem of the closet and the problem of being suddenly hurt or killed one day are all the same problem. How do you live your life in this country and feel like you’ll actually live? How do you act yourself?

Giselle Nguyen writes at Rookie, “Closed for Business“:

“Are you sure?” Carl asked as we sat on the edge of his bed.

“Yep,” I said confidently. I’d heard the first time could hurt, but mostly I was excited. He put a condom on as I lay down, buzzing with anticipation. He pushed into me…and I screamed at the pain, which was unlike anything I’d ever felt before. I ran to the bathroom and cried. I didn’t know if this was normal, but it felt excruciating. You never forget your first time—especially if it happens before you know you have vaginismus, a physical condition that makes penetrative sex incredibly painful or, in extreme cases, impossible.

Gina McKeon writes at the ABC, “Life on the inside: how solitary confinement affects mental health“:

Inmates held in solitary confinement experience a range of mental health problems including anxiety, panic, insomnia, paranoia, aggression and depression.

Don Grant, a forensic psychiatrist formerly with the Queensland Community Forensic Mental Health Service, says these psychological effects are the result of: social isolation, which can lead to further withdrawal; boredom and sensory deprivation, which cause brain activity to slow; and a lack of control with no personal autonomy, which may lead to a loss of self-reliance and dysfunction in social situations when an inmate is released.

Eliel Cruz writes at Everyday Feminism, “13 Lies We Have to Stop Telling About Bisexuals“:

Unfortunately, the binary way of thinking that informs the reasoning of many who remain unconvinced by the reality of bisexuality ultimately oppresses everyone through its perpetuation of unflinching heteronormative or homonormative standards.

Being intimate with someone of the same sex doesn’t mean you’re gay, just like being intimate with someone of the opposite sex doesn’t mean you’re straight — it just means you fall somewhere in the beautiful, fluid spectrum of sexuality.

Here we are in the supposedly enlightened year of 2014 – and yet, biphobia persists. In no particular order, here are a few of the most tiresome lies society really needs to stop telling about the bisexual community.

Natalie Tencic at ABC writes, “Papua New Guinea’s gay and transgender community finds safety in Hanuabada village“:

Gay men walking the streets of Port Moresby are often targeted by local men, particularly those who hail from PNG’s highland provinces, and have been raped, beaten and even murdered.

But in Hanuabada, things are different.

Documentary filmmaker and photographer Vlad Sokhin noticed this when he stumbled on the village during his travels.

“[It’s] probably the only place in Port Moresby where they feel safe and many of them, they were born in different places so they moved to Hanuabada village because they are accepted by the local community there,” Vlad said.

Alyssa Bereznak writes at Yahoo! Tech, “Microsoft CEO Says Women Shouldn’t Ask for Raises, Will Instead Magically Receive Them via ‘Karma’ (UPDATE)“:

It’s not really about asking for a raise, but knowing and having faith that the system will give you the right raise,” he told Klawe (who, presumably, was screaming inside). He went on to further imply that there was an incalculable je ne sais quoi about a woman who never asks for what she truly wants.

“That might be one of the initial ‘super powers’ that, quite frankly, women (who) don’t ask for a raise have,” he said. “It’s good karma. It will come back.”

UPDATE 8:24 p.m.: Nadella followed up his remarks on Twitter with a staff-wide email that was also posted on Microsoft’s press website. “I answered that question completely wrong,” he wrote. “Without a doubt I wholeheartedly support programs at Microsoft and in the industry that bring more women into technology and close the pay gap. I believe men and women should get equal pay for equal work.” He added, “If you think you deserve a raise, you should just ask.”

Nadella concluded that he’d “certainly learned a valuable lesson.”

John Scalzi writes, “A Note on New York Comic Con’s Anti-Harassment Policy“:

First, you literally cannot miss it — it’s on several human-sized signs right at the entrances to Javits Center (the other side of these signs say “Cosplay is not consent.” Second, the examples are clear and obvious and the policy is not constrained to only the examples — but enough’s there that you get the idea that NYCC is serious about this stuff. Third, it’s clear from the sign that NYCC also has a commitment to implementation and execution of the policy, with a harassment reporting button baked right into its phone app. This is, pretty much, how an anti-harassment policy should be implemented.

And as a result, did the floor of the Javits Center become a politically correct dystopia upon which the blood of innocent The True (and Therefore Male) Geeks was spilled by legions of Social Justice Warriors, who hooted their feminist victory to the rafters? Well, no. The floor of the Javits Center looked pretty much like the floor of any really large media convention — people wandering about, looking at stuff, wearing and/or admiring costumes and generally having a bunch of geeky fun. Which is to say that as far as I could see the policy didn’t stop anyone from enjoying themselves; it simply gave them assurance that they could enjoy themselves, or get the problem dealt with if someone went out of their way to wreck their fun.

Yassmin Abdel-Magied writes at Junkee, “Junk Explained: Here’s Everything Jacqui Lambie Doesn’t Know About Sharia Law“:

The word “sharia”, taken literally, is Arabic for “path” or road to a watering hole or place of salvation. The five universal principles that underlie Sharia are ‘protection of life’, ‘mind’, ‘religion’, ‘property’ and ‘offspring’; rulings in Sharia law are based around the protection and promotion of these five areas and, logically, decisions that see their degradation are fundamentally unIslamic.

In practical terms, traditional Sharia is quite unlike any “legal system” as we understand the term in the modern West — a bunch of acts and legislation sitting in a library — but more a constantly changing and evolving process to try and ensure society lived intelligently and ethically. It was not written down in a legislative state-based form like today’s law, giving it the freedom to be able to be constantly revised and improved upon. Sharia was kind of like Java; you need it for everything, but it was always being updated.

At the Quinnspiracy, “What To Expect When You’re Expecting (the internet to ruin your life)“:

Don’t give yourself a hard time for feeling a certain way. It’s a messed up position you’ve been put in and there’s no “right” way to feel. You’re not failing if it bothers you, you’re not failing if you’re angry, you are not failing for not being “tough enough”. A lot of emotions come with these situations, and you’re totally allowed.

Grayson Perry at New Stateman writes, “The rise and fall of Default Man“:

They dominate the upper echelons of our society, imposing, unconsciously or otherwise, their values and preferences on the rest of the population. With their colourful textile phalluses hanging round their necks, they make up an overwhelming majority in government, in boardrooms and also in the media.

They are, of course, white, middle-class, heterosexual men, usually middle-aged. And every component of that description has historically played a part in making this tribe a group that punches far, far above its weight. I have struggled to find a name for this identity that will trip off the tongue, or that doesn’t clutter the page with unpronounceable acronyms such as WMCMAHM. “The White Blob” was a strong contender but in the end I opted to call him Default Man. I like the word “default”, for not only does it mean “the result of not making an active choice”, but two of its synonyms are “failure to pay” and “evasion”, which seems incredibly appropriate, considering the group I wish to talk about.

A list of the Nobel Prizes awarded to women

Kalev Leetaru writes at Foreign Policy, “Why Big Data Missed the Early Warning Signs of Ebola“:

Part of the problem is that the majority of media in Guinea is not published in English, while most monitoring systems today emphasize English-language material. The GDELT Project attempts to monitor and translate a cross-section of the world’s news media each day, yet it is not capable of translating 100 percent of global news coverage. It turns out that GDELT actually monitored the initial discussion of Dr. Keita’s press conference on March 13 and detected a surge in domestic coverage beginning on March 14, the day HealthMap flagged the first media mention (which was, it should be noted, in French). The problem is that all of this media coverage was in French — and was not among the French material that GDELT was able to translate those days.

To give an idea of the importance of monitoring across languages, through a grant from Google Translate for Research, GDELT has been feeding a portion of the Portuguese edition of Google News each day through Google Translate for the past year. It turns out that upwards of 70 percent of the events recorded in Portuguese-language news do not appear in English-language news anywhere else in the world. Further, a large portion of these events relate to situations outside of Portugal and Brazil, including former colonial states in Africa, as the map below shows. Increasing our ability to process all of this material would yield tremendous gains in monitoring local media of the sort that provided the first indicators of the Ebola outbreak.

Shawn Burns writes, “How editors and journalists can produce better and fairer reporting on people with disability“:

Dr Taleporos, and other advocacy journalists working in the disability media space, are driven by a desire to redress what they view as problematic news agendas and public discourse. In their view, despite the considerable consumer power of PWD and long-established media guidelines on disability, mainstream news media remains inclined to follow the well-trodden path of stereotypical representation of people with disability and disability issues.

A Taxonomy of Mansplainers

Debunking the Men’s Rights Movement

Laurie Penny writes at New Statesman, “Social Justice Warriors and the New Culture War“:

If I sound angry here, it’s because I am. I’m angy because I’ve had to listen to these things being said to and about me and many other women creators I admire for too many years now to be polite about it. My anger, however, is different from the incoherent rage sloshing around 4chan, Reddit, MRA forums and other nests of recreational misogyny right now, because the people perpetrating these attacks on women, the people who are so unspeakably angry that women dare, they dare with their stupid ladyheads and evil ladyparts, they dare to come into their special boy spaces and actually demand a voice, they don’t understand why not everyone can see how right they are, how noble, how absolutely justified they are in their cause. They believe that they are justified because freedom of speech—except not freedom of speech for women and queers and people of colour, because those people don’t really speak, they just whine, shriek, scream, like animals, because really that’s all they are, animals.

They think it’s a game.

I’m talking about the whole thing—not just hounding individual women, hacking individual celebrities’ nude pics, trying to trash the reputations of women in the public eye according to outdated double-standards with less and less relevance to our real lives. I’m talking about gender itself, sex and sexuality itself, as a game you can play and win by ‘beating’ the other ‘side’ into submission. A game where the other ‘side’ isn’t really human at all. Shoot to kill. Destroy the brain. Move on.

Devon Maloney writes at The Cut, “The Most Feminist Moments in Sci-fi History“:

But sci-fi history actually has featured ahead-of-its-time, female-identifying authors and creators who have challenged conventional notions of race, gender, and sexuality head-on for centuries. Their contributions are so essential (some are by far the most out-there in the canon) that without them, the genre could not possibly have grown into the blockbuster behemoth it is today. Like many sci-fi creators, this radical group’s explorations weren’t limited to faroff planets; they dove into the sticky, difficult, often ugly realities of their own worlds, many of which are still with us today. They tackled misogyny, homophobia, racism, and the dangers of conventional gender roles — concepts often foreign to the world they inhabited. While their efforts were not always celebrated in the mainstream, they opened the possibility of a better future and pushed the conversation forward.

An extremely nerdy caveat: Many female voices have been excluded from the sci-fi canon based on the argument that the works they create aren’t “really” science fiction, but fantasy (in Party Down, Martin Starr’s Roman is fixated on this — the distinction between “hard” sci-fi and fantasy). While most of this “categorization” is simply a sexist dodge, we do believe in categories. For our purposes, let’s define science fiction here as the depiction of fictional worlds in which science (including space travel), technology, and/or pseudoscience feature prominently and necessarily in the story’s telling. Therefore, A Handmaid’s Tale, though probably one of this writer’s favorite books of all time, is not science fiction (Atwood herself has described it as speculative/dystopian fiction, a genre having more to do with social critique than adventure), while superhero comics — when they feature superpowers — could be considered such.

Understanding Issues Facing Bisexual Americans (pdf)

Elleanor Chin writes at bitch media, “Instead of Banning Yoga Pants, Schools Should Crack Down on Harassment“:

What exactly are adults assuming about “distraction”? Are they talking about boys being sexually aroused? Boys having romantic feelings? Looking at girls? Boys aren’t just passive sacks of hormones, magnetically thrown off course by female parts or pheromones. Young men and boys are responsible for their own arousal, attraction and attention span. Controlling girls’ dress assumes that boys are more frequently or severely distracted just by being around girls than any other source of distraction and that the only way to fix it is to control the girls.

How do you tell if a boy is “distracted by” a girls attire? Is it because he’s catcalling her?  Talking about her? Here is where it gets tricky, because schools have a general mission and right to maintain discipline and control student attire to the extent it disrupts the educational environment. But no coverage of this issue I’ve read has discussed how the boys’ distraction actually manifests, and how disruptive it is. But in her letter to the Billings Gazette, Ashley Crtalic makes the connection to sexual harassment, which is certainly a tangible disruption. Crtalic points out that when she was harassed, she was wearing jeans and a t-shirt, not the outfits that got her punished for dress code violations.

Gwendolyn Henry writes at Collected Works, “Reasons why Bi People of Colour often do not participate in spaces created for them“:

Thanks for raising this question regarding Bisexual People of Color and hearing our voices on various forms of media. My take is:

1) Writing our story is not a priority, survival is. [Many]BiPOC are already struggling with physical and mental health conditions so just breathing and staying alive is top on the list.

2) Many BiPOC are closeted in the Lesbian and Gay community. Writing or posting videos using the words [word]”Bisexual” would require them to go through a lot of emotional obstacles and many of [us]them don’t want to and/or don’t have the support to do so.

2a) I found BiPOC writing under the terms “Queer” but that still doesn’t clearly state how many genders they find romantic/sexually attractive. [Queer can apply to people who have multi gender attractions/non-monosexuals (bi, pan, fluid) and monosexuals (lesbian/gay). This umbrella term can often make bisexuals and their unique experiences and needs less visible.]

Erick Brethenoux writing at A Smarter Planet Blog, “The Importance of Tracking Big Data Emotions“:

There are concerns, however. A fine line exists between being perceived as understanding or invasive. But analyzing emotions and getting close to people should not just be about selling more products. It should be about evoking and understanding emotions that help break solitude. This will create opportunities to share empathy and compassion.

It could even enable people to heal faster.

When my daughter was three-years old, she had to have tubes placed in her ears to help with chronic ear infections. What was interesting though was not how she healed, but how she helped others get better. Her surgeon explained that they scheduled operations on Tuesdays and Thursdays, the same days as the most difficult adult procedures. The adults would then recover in a large and common recovery room alongside the children. Why? Because empirical data proves that adults recover faster when exposed to small children who are also recovering.

Related Posts:

All the linkspam forever more (September 2014)

I’ve been busy, and consequently I haven’t been keeping up to date with all my linkspam – though I have been collecting it in copious quantities.  I’m going to group it by type because that appears to make sense to me right now.  Enjoy

Feminism

The Bloggess wrote, “Women Who are Ambivalent about Women Against Women Against Feminism“:

But then I remembered that I’m too lazy to make a tumblr and that this whole thing was a bit ridiculous. Here’s the thing:  Do you think men and women should have equal rights politically, socially and economically?  Then you’re probably a feminist.  There are a million tiny aspects of this to break off into and I get it.  It’s complicated.  There’s not just one type of feminist, just as there’s not just one type of Christian or Muslim, or man or woman.  Hell, there’s not even just one type of shark.  Some are non-threatening and friendly.  Some get sucked up into tornadoes and viciously chew off people’s faces until that guy from 90210 stops the weather with bombs.  (Spoiler alert.)    The point is that sharks, much like feminists, are awesome, and beneficial, and the world would be a worse place without them.  Plus, they’re incredibly entertaining and even if you sometimes think they’re dicks for eating cute seals you still yell “HOLYSHITLOOKATTHAT!” when Shark Week comes on.  I think this is a bad analogy.  Lemme try again.

Lea Grover at Scary Mommy writes, “Darling, We Don’t Play With Our Vulvas At The Table“:

I don’t want them to grow up ashamed of their bodies or confused about what they do. I don’t tell them about cabbage patches or storks, I make an effort, always, to be honest about human reproduction. Every aspect of it.

I’ve had conversations with other moms about having “the talk.” I don’t think my kids and I will have that particular talk, because they already know. And we talk about it often- kids are obsessive creatures. We read Where Did I Come From? and What Makes A Baby which together cover every aspect of the subject. We can talk about IVF and c-sections, because both of those are part of the story of their births, and we can talk about the fact that yes, mommy and daddy still have sex regardless of our plans for conception. And when they’re older, we’ll start talking about contraception.

Because lying to your kids about sex helps nobody. Telling them that sex is “only between mommies and daddies” is a lie that leads to confused, hormone charged teenagers. Telling them that sex is “only something that happens when two people love each other very much” is a lie that causes hormone charged teenagers to confuse “love” with “lust,” or “obsession.” It leads to leaps of logic like, “If I have sex with them, we must be in love.” Or worse- “If I love them, I have to have sex with them.” And how many teenage tragedies are based on that misconception?

Kathleen at Films for Action writes, “10 Female Revolutionaries That You Probably Didn’t Learn About In History class“:

We all know male revolutionaries like Che Guevara, but history often tends to gloss over the contributions of female revolutionaries that have sacrificed their time, efforts, and lives to work towards burgeoning systems and ideologies. Despite misconceptions, there are tons of women that have participated in revolutions throughout history, with many of them playing crucial roles. They may come from different points on the political spectrum, with some armed with weapons and some armed with nothing but a pen, but all fought hard for something that they believed in.

Let’s take a look at 10 of these female revolutionaries from all over the world that you probably won’t ever see plastered across a college student’s T-shirt.

 

Sexism

Lara Hogan writes, “On unsolicited criticism“:

But by the end of the day after my keynote, I was crushed. I had received a ton of praise and positive feedback, too, but I couldn’t hear it. My brain could only retain were these random, surprising, caught-off-guard moments that required me to nod and smile and try to make sense of what these people were saying. After dinner, I nearly broke down; I went to my manager, Seth, and told him what was going on. [1]

Seth turned to a nearby presenter (and fellow coworker) and asked, “Hey Jonathan, did you receive any constructive criticism or feedback after your talk?”

Jonathan said, “What? No. I mean, people said it was good. But not really feedback.” We continued our poll. The male presenters we asked received no unsolicited feedback (other than “that was great!”). Some women I spoke with, however, had received feedback on their tone as well.

I asked Seth, “Wait, are you saying this is gendered?”

Ariel Schwartz writes at Co.EXIST, “How Street Maps Can Be Sexist“:

Straightforward as they may seem, street maps aren’t objective. Shifting borders mean that maps are often political statements. They also can be sexist.

Eddie Pickle, the former CEO of geospatial company Boundless, first started paying close attention to sexism in the mapping community in 2010, while the company was recruiting new hires. Gender disparities in the tech field weren’t just a culture problem, he realized–there was also a problem with the data.

OpenStreetMap is a massive free map of the world, editable by anyone. Companies like Flickr, Foursquare, and Craigslist all use it in their products. But unlike Google Maps, which rigorously chronicles every address, gas station, and shop on the ground, OpenStreetMap’s perspective on the world is skewed by its contributors.

At The Business Spectator, “Gender pay gap worst in 20 years“:

On average, men in full-time work are being paid nearly $15,000 more a year than women, data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows.

For part-time workers, the gender pay gap would be wider because a higher proportion of women in casual jobs.

CommSec economist Savanth Sebastian says the pay gap is linked to large salaries paid in the mining and construction industries, which are traditionally dominated by men.

Junot Diaz is quoted at Hello, Tailor:

If you’re a boy writer, it’s a simple rule: you’ve gotta get used to the fact that you suck at writing women and that the worst women writer can write a better man than the best male writer can write a good woman. And it’s just the minimum. Because the thing about the sort of heteronormative masculine privilege, whether it’s in Santo Domingo, or the United States, is you grow up your entire life being told that women aren’t human beings, and that women have no independent subjectivity. And because you grow up with this, it’s this huge surprise when you go to college and realize that, “Oh, women aren’t people who does my shit and fucks me.”

Alex Brown at TOR.COM wrote, “Guardians of the Galaxy, We Need to Talk“:

It’s hard to be a comics fan if you’re not a straight white man, given that most of the representative iterations of diversity end up as one dimensional tokens, expendable sidekicks, or fridge-able sex objects. DC’s done a pretty terrible job in their comics and movies at creating female, PoC, and/or LGBTQIA characters that aren’t cardboard plot devices used to inspire the male protagonist into heroic action. To be fair, DC gets good marks on television with Arrow (and presumably The Flash), but since the shows won’t crossover into the movies, it’s more or less cancelled out in the grand scheme of things.

Not that Marvel is much better. Comics-wise, Marvel is slowly but surely getting more diverse, but the MCU is a more depressing story. While the MCU has been good at not actively excluding us non straight/white/male fans, they haven’t been very good at including us in the content we’re fanning over. Black Widow, Pepper Potts, Agent Hill, Peggy and Sharon Carter, Rhodey, and Falcon are awesome, but they don’t really get to do anything outside of the white male superhero protagonists. We saw Steve Rogers hang out at a coffee shop while off the clock, but what does Natasha do when she’s not SHIELD-ing? Why only three straight black dudes in the movies (with no romantic interests so as to keep them “non-threatening”)? Why not an Asian, Native American, Middle Eastern, or Hispanic character with a major role? Or a trans person? I like John C. Reilly and Peter Serafinowicz a ton, but why not hire people of color for those roles instead? Why couldn’t Corpsman Dey go home to his husband instead of his wife? Where in the MCU are the rest of us?

Kieran Snyder wrote at Fortune, “The abrasiveness trap: High-achieving men and women are described differently in reviews“:

Not long ago I was talking to an engineering manager who was preparing performance reviews for his team. He had two people he wanted to promote that year, but he was worried that his peers were only going to endorse one of them. “Jessica is really talented,” he said. “But I wish she’d be less abrasive. She comes on too strong.” Her male counterpart? “Steve is an easy case,” he went on. “Smart and great to work with. He needs to learn to be a little more patient, but who doesn’t?”

I don’t know whether Jessica got her promotion, but the exchange got me wondering how often this perception of female abrasiveness undermines women’s careers in technology.

Gamer Gate and sexism in gaming

Jonathan McIntosh wrote at Polygon, “Playing with privilege: the invisible benefits of gaming while male“:

One particularly astounding theme I’ve noticed running through online discussions surrounding these incidents has been a consistent denial that there is any real problem with the way women are treated in gaming. Despite the abundance of evidence, I’ve seen many of my fellow male gamers, in comment thread after comment thread, dismiss the issue as “no big deal” and insist that everyone is essentially treated the same.

The fact that a great number of women have been speaking out about how they experience prejudice, alienation or worse on a fairly regular basis seems to hold little weight.

David Auerbach at Slate wrote, “Letter to a Young Male Gamer“:

I realize that you don’t have a problem with women per se. Think of Kim Swift, the awesome game designer who was project lead for the legendary Portal, or think of Halo engine programmer Corrinne Yu. You realize, I know, that your life would be better with more women like them in gaming. Swift herself has written about how rough women have it in the industry, so keep in mind that targeting Quinn will drive away the next Kim Swift. That’s not a trade you want to make. Publicity and cronyism are ephemeral. Good games are forever.

Posts that I found interesting (otherwise unclassified)

Jenna at Cold Antler Farm wrote, “An Open Letter To Angry Vegetarians“:

I recently received your note, the one that accused me of being a murderer. I understand why you are angry and I applaud your compassion. I understand because I was a vegetarian for nearly a decade, the same breed as yourself actually. Meaning; I chose the diet because of a love for animals, passion for conservation, and concern for our diminishing global resources. Avoiding meat seemed to be a kinder, gentler, and more ecological choice. I supported PETA. I had ads in Vegan magazines for my design website. I am no longer a vegetarian and do raise animals on my small farm for the table, but we have more in common than you may realize.

It would be foolish for me to try and change your mind about eating animals, and I have no interest in doing so. The vegetarian diet is a fine diet. We live in a time of great abundance and luxury, and that means choices! Never before in the history of the human animal have so many options for feeding ourselves been presented like they are now. If you want to eat a gluten-free, dairyless, low cholestoral, and mid-range protein diet based on whey extracted from antibiotic free Jersey Cows-  you can. Your great grandparents could not. There was no almond milk at the Piggly Wiggly and ration cards kinda ruined that conga line. But now there is so much food and your diet is as much a personal a choice as your religion and sexual activity, possibly even more personal. So understand I am not writing you this open letter because you don’t eat meat. I’m writing you this letter because you called me a murderer.

Conscious Capitalism: Can Empathy Change the World?:

Conscious Capitalism, Inc. started as an organization in August, 2006, and focuses principally on enterprise and the recognition that every business has a purpose beyond the firm.

“Rather than seeing business as a tube [money in, money out],” says Klein, “we look at business as an ecosystem of interdependent interrelated stakeholders. For stakeholder management, the business has to produce profits over time, but that doesn’t mean that’s its sole purpose. For the business to be sustainable, flourish, and be resilient, it needs to focus on the whole rather than its parts.”

Klein points out that corporations have often purposefully served the societies in which they flourish. Companies like Avon and Johnson & Johnson  articulated their primary purpose in their original charters, which was not about making money, but serving their stakeholders. The robber barons also recognized that making money and giving portions of it back was an important part of business (Carnegie built libraries, Rockefeller created museums).

Paul Ford at Medium wrote, “How to Be Polite“:

Here’s a polite person’s trick, one that has never failed me. I will share it with you because I like and respect you, and it is clear to me that you’ll know how to apply it wisely: When you are at a party and are thrust into conversation with someone, see how long you can hold off before talking about what they do for a living. And when that painful lull arrives, be the master of it. I have come to revel in that agonizing first pause, because I know that I can push a conversation through. Just ask the other person what they do, and right after they tell you, say: “Wow. That sounds hard.”

Pope Alexander writes at Jezebel, “What Steven Moffat Doesn’t Understand About Grief, And Why It’s Killing Doctor Who“:

Then Moffat, of course, took over the show as show runner. And once again, people just seem to keep… not dying. Part of the problem is that Moffat’s a big fan of the Giant Reset Button — so much so that he literally wrote in a Giant Reset Button into the episode Journey to the Center of the TARDIS. One step above the “It was all a dream” plot, the Giant Reset Button absolves the characters and the writers of any repercussions and they can carry on as they were, even though we, the audience, saw a “major event” that is evidently no longer relevant. You can have your fun and adventure, but you need not learn or grow or change from it.

Race and Racism

For Harriet writes, “7 Black Women Science Fiction Writers Everyone Should Know“:

Though Black women’s literature spans every genre imaginable, the visibility of Black women in speculative fiction is often low. These women create work that not only speaks to their experiences but imagines new worlds and possibilities. Their stories take us on journeys. And while though the work may offer temporary moments of escape, when we return we’re better able to interpret our own place in the world.  If you’re interested in taking the trip, you’ll want to check out these Black women science fiction writers.

Beth Neate writes at ABC Open, “Peggy Patrick AM: A Queen Among Men“:

Whenever Peggy Patrick’s name is spoken, be it by Indigenous or non-Indigenous Australians, she receives a special reverence. Peggy Patrick is a woman of singular magnitude.

A prodigious singer, dancer, artist and storyteller, Peggy has performed throughout Australia. Frances Kofod, a linguist who has worked in the East Kimberley since 1971, is collaborating with Peggy on a bilingual autobiography. She believes that Peggy’s repertoire of Kimberley song cycles is unparalleled and that her cultural knowledge is akin to an encyclopedia.

Richard Parkin writes at SBS, “Enough fear mongering, let’s give Lakemba a fair go“:

While great credit should go to Mr Blair for having the courage and bravery to survive a full twenty-four hours in this anti-Anglo hot-bed, would it be nit-picking to suggest that a lot of what he wrote was wrong?

Let’s just presume that Mr Blair, the person subbing his column, and his editor all had justifiable reasons for shying away from the actual evidence that didn’t fit the story they were peddling – like the fact that one in two people in Lakemba aren’t Muslims; that one in four are Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Buddhists, Hindus or Anglicans; and that three in four people are proficient in English.

Why let facts – gleaned from made-up sources like the Australian Bureau of Statistics – get in the way, if they don’t suit your narrative of fear?

After Senator Lambie’s attacks on Sharia, the ABC posted, “What is sharia law?“:

Jamila Hussain, an Islamic law expert from Sydney’s University of Technology, said sharia was “a way of life for most Muslims”.

“It’s first of all religious duties – things like prayer and fasting, and also, importantly, paying money to charity and supporting the poor and looking after the weak and the vulnerable,” she said.

“It’s also everyday transactions. It guides Muslims in their way of life, teaches them to dress modestly, treat other people decently, be ethical in their business dealings.

“It also includes all those things we would normally call law – things like contract law, commercial law, family law, finance and banking law.

“And of course there is the criminal law element, though in most countries Islamic criminal law is not in practice. It is in places like Saudi Arabia and Pakistan where it’s very conservative, but not in most countries.”

“That the sharia obliges Muslims to comply with the laws of their country of residence is premised on the Koranic dicta demanding fulfilling “obligations” and “covenants,” as in the imperatives “You who believe, fulfil your obligations” and “Honour your pledges: you will be questioned about your pledges,” he said.

“Muslim jurists, therefore, understood that the ultimate authority in any country belongs to the government.”

Randa Morris writes, “Scary White People? White People Responsible For Five Out Of Every Six White Murders“:

Five out of six white people murdered in the United States are killed by a white person. That’s according to the most recent FBI crime data report, which provides demographic information of the race of victims and offenders, for all known murders that occurred in the US, in 2012. There were 3,128 white murder victims that year. Out of all of those murder victims, less than 500 were killed by minorities. The other 2,628 were killed by other white people.

We often hear about black on black killings, and we know that the rate of black people who are killed by other black people in the US is far too high. What we don’t often hear about is the shocking number of white people who are killed by other white people. But when you look at the statistics in light of the most recent US population data, you find that the rate of white on white homicide is entirely out of line with the racial makeup of the country as a whole.

Disability

Cara Liebowitz at That Crazy Crippled Chick writes, “The Trouble With Ableist Metaphors“:

But I was struck recently when, in the course of emails back and forth about inspiration porn and ableism, a colleague used the metaphor “I was blind and now I see.”  I’m sure he had the best of intentions and didn’t even stop to consider the ableist nature of the metaphor – but that’s sort of the point.  Ableism is so incredibly deeply ingrained in our culture that people use ableist language – yes, even people who should know better, I fully admit that I probably invoke these metaphors far more often that I should – without a second thought every day.  I’m not sure that happens with any other form of oppression (feel free to correct me if I’m wrong).

But wait!  I should stop being so literal, shouldn’t I?  After all, it’s just an expression!  No one actually means them!  Which is all well and good, but as my dear friend K says often, intent is not magic.  But the problem comes when we take both the literal and metaphorical definitions and step back to critically analyze what we mean when we say such things.

LGBTI Issues

Lisa L. Spangenberg wrote a very badly titled post at Boing Boing, “Misleading on Marriage: how gay marriage opponents twist history to suit their agenda“:

As someone in a same-sex relationship, I followed arguments for and against the overturn of DOMA with some interest. As a medievalist, my attention was particularly caught by arguments against DOMA on Twitter and elsewhere that asserted that Christianity and history unilaterally agreed that marriage means one woman and one man and coitus. This simply isn’t historically accurate even within the context of Christianity and European history.

Let me take you on a millennia-long walk down the aisle. The modern notion of marriage is connected with the historical, traditional model that those opposed to marriage equality like to cite, but it’s not nearly as clean a connection as parties on either side of the same-sex marriage divide would like to claim. It is in fact, varied, changeable, and chaotic.

Stavvers writes, “I am cis“:

But wait! Those who deliberately refuse to understand the word “cis” cry. Surely I cannot be cis if I do these things, because I’m subverting gender roles.

Nope.

Ashley C Ford writes at Buzzfeed, “30 Bisexual Women Discuss Their Long-Term Relationships With Men“:

3. “It’s like coming out all over again.”

“I have avoided telling my queer friends that I am in a relationship with a man. It’s like coming out all over again and I’ve experienced resistance against it. It feels like you are mistrusted, that people think you have actively chosen to take the route of most privilege without considering the ways in which you are now held at the margins by the community you most identify with. I am new to this relationship and still trying to navigate how to move through both worlds. Sometimes it means passing depending on the context because it’s hard to play the role of educator and/or be on the defense all the time. Even with friends, I’ve faced microaggressions in the form of jokes: ‘How does straightness feel?’”

M.A.Melby writes at Trans Advocate, “Quit attacking your allies!“:

I have seen various version of this phrase. “Quit attacking your allies!” – many, many times.  I’ve only been involved heavily in trans activism for about two years.  How and why I’ve become as invested as I am is a long story; but at the end of the day, I am a woman who was assigned female at birth.  I am cis.  So, it’s odd that this statement has been directed at me, but it often has.  It’s also something that I will never say.

The reason that I am pledging never to say, “Quit attacking your allies!” is because it’s not a sincere defense or tactical criticism.  It’s a threat.  The implication is simply: If you criticize me, if you are angry with me, if you say anything that makes me uncomfortable, I will withdraw my support from your cause.  In addition, the majority of the time, this phrase is not used by anyone actually involved in activism.  There is no support to withdraw.  Instead, there is power and privilege that can be put into play.  I’ve come to understand that “Quit attacking your allies!” is often code for: Respect my social status as being above you. Be quiet or there will be consequences.

Who are these “allies” that must not be attacked? Who must be placated? Who are these people being misunderstood or subject to undo scrutiny?

Prejudice at Pride

At TransGriot, “Black Trans History: Lucy Hicks Anderson“:

Lucy Hicks Anderson was born in 1886 in Waddy as Tobias Lawson.   When Lawson entered school she insisted on wearing dresses to school and began calling herself Lucy.  Since the transgender definition hadn’t been coined at that time to diagnose what was going on in her life, her mother took her to a physician who advised her to raise young Lucy as a girl.

Lucy left school at age fifteen to begin doing domestic work and left Kentucky in her twenties to move west.   She settled in Pecos, TX and began working at a hotel for a decade until she married Clarence Hicks in 1920 in Silver City, NM and moved west with him to Oxnard, California.  She divorced him in 1929.

The News Minute reports, “Padmini Prakash, India’s first transgender TV news anchor urges parents to be more receptive of their transgender children“:

She is India’s first Transgender TV anchor – Meet Padmini Prakash, a 34 year-old transgender based in Coimbatore who has broken the stigma faced by this section of society and has become the face of Lotus TV news channel in Coimbatore.

To parents in general she had a strong message: “Parents, when they come to know that their children are transgenders they should accept them for who they are. They should not isolate them. Parents should accept them and society should accept them”

Pete Smith at The Guardian writes, “Jaiyah Saelua: if I experience transphobia I just tackle harder“:

The nation’s size is reflected in their football record. Seventeen years, 30 defeats and 229 goals conceded – including that infamous world record defeat against Australia in 2001 – were American Samoa’s bare statistics since making their international debut. However, Saelua worked her way into the starting side after a lengthy apprenticeship, and helped her team achieve a World Cup win over Tonga.

The result, and Saelua’s story, has received global recognition thanks to Next Goal Wins, a film that has been released globally over the past few months, having screened at the recent Sydney Film Festival to positive reviews and large audiences.

Travelling extensively to promote the film, Saelua now finds herself somewhat unwittingly cast as a role-model and spokesperson for transgender sportspeople. It is, however, a role she is happy to fill.

Dameyon Bonson writes at Star Observer, “Reconciliation and decolonisation in suicide prevention“:

QUITE tragically, as you are reading these first few words there is a high probability somebody will attempt to end their life by suicide. There is even a higher probability that that somebody is part of the LGBTI community, particularly if they are at the point of self-realisation and disclosure. If that person is an Indigenous Australian, the probability amplifies yet again.

How do I know this? Because that’s what the evidence suggests. LGBTI people are said to have the highest rates of self-harm and suicide of any population in Australia. Same-sex attracted Australians are said to exhibit up to 14-times-higher rates of suicide attempts than their heterosexual peers. Yet, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, there were 996 suicides reported across Australia between 2001 and 2010 among Indigenous peoples. We are told that 1.6 per cent of all Australians die by suicide but for Indigenous peoples, this rate is more than 4.2 per cent, or one in every 24.

As mentioned, the evidence only suggests this because we are coalescing the data from two different groups and hypothesising the math. In other words we aren’t really sure.

 Repro Justice

John H Richardson writes at Esquire, “The Abortion Ministry of Dr. Willie Parker“:

After medical school, he bought a big house and a nice car and overstuffed his refrigerator the way people from poverty do, but those satisfactions soon seemed empty. He dated but never quite settled down. Inspired by Gandhi’s idea that the Gospel should appear to a hungry man in the form of bread, he went to work in a food pantry. But gradually, the steady stream of women with reproductive issues in his practice focused his mind. He thought about his mother and sisters and the grandmother who died in childbirth and began to read widely in the literature of civil rights and feminism. Eventually he came across the concept of “reproductive justice,” developed by black feminists who argued that the best way to raise women out of poverty is to give them control of their reproductive decisions. Finally, he had his “come to Jesus” moment and the bell rang. This would be his civil-rights struggle. He would serve women in their darkest moment of need. “The protesters say they’re opposed to abortion because they’re Christian,” Parker says. “It’s hard for them to accept that I do abortions because I’m a Christian.” He gave up obstetrics to become a full-time abortionist on the day, five years ago, that George Tiller was murdered in church.

Violence (trigger warning for all posts in this section – likely to contain stories of violence, transphobia, biphobia, homophobia, sexism, harassment, etc)

Stavvers writes, “Is stalking feminist praxis these days?“:

But ultimately, the fault here isn’t mine. There’s things I can do to tighten security, and I’ll do those things. The real problem here is TERfs. This is not feminism, it’s being a fucking creep. These people are a danger. This is why I have a hair trigger on my block button for them and anyone who pals around with them: it’s proved it to me. You never know when one could be passing on information.

I write this post as a reminder: a reminder that this isn’t some sort of intellectual parlour game. The safety of women is at stake here. I’m fine and I’m alive, but what I want to come from this is an increased level of awareness. I want this post to be read. I want people to know that the TERfs literally stalk women. And I know that me being cis means more people are likely to care.

Isn’t that just the most fucked-up thing?

Janelle Asselin at bitchmedia writes, “How Big of a Problem is Harassment at Comic Conventions? Very Big.“:

As 130,000 people head to San Diego Comic-Con (SDCC) this week, it’s important to recognize that while harassment can occur in comic shops and elsewhere, the bulk of complaints regarding gender harassment in comics happen at conventions. Yet SDCC has failed to put an emphasis on their harassment policy by not publicly posting signs about harassment or having a clear and well-publicized reporting process for incidents.

As a comics editor, writer, and fan myself, I got interested in how often people at conventions experience harassment. So earlier this year I conducted a survey on sexual harassment in comics, receiving 3,600 responses from people that varied from fans to professionals. The survey was distributed and conducted online, with people sharing it via Twitter, Facebook, and especially Tumblr and self-reporting all information. Of the people taking the survey, 55 percent of respondents were female, 39 percent were male, and six percent were non-binary (see the raw survey data here).

Helen Davidson at The Guardian writes, “Violence against women a national emergency, say Our Watch campaigners“:

A comprehensive national initiative is focusing on distorted ideas of gender equality as part of plans to tackle the “national emergency” of violence against women and children.

Our Watch was established by the commonwealth and Victorian governments last year, and on Friday revealed its strategy to achieve a complete rejection of domestic and family violence within 20 years.

Margaret C. Hardy at The Coversation writes, “We need to talk about the sexual abuse of scientists“:

The life sciences have come under fire recently with a study published in PLOS ONE that investigated the level of sexual harassment and sexual assault of trainees in academic fieldwork environments.

The study found 71% of women and 41% of men respondents experienced sexual harassment, while 26% of women and 6% of men reported experiencing sexual assault. The research team also found that within the hierarchy of academic field sites surveyed, the majority of incidents were perpetrated by peers and supervisors.

 

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