Tag Archives: equal marriage

Gay marriage is still an exclusionary term

I can’t believe I’m still writing articles about this, but here we go again.  Recently Murray Lipp, a social justice activist in the US, penned an article for the exclusionary named HuffPost “Gay Voices” section titled, “‘Gay Marriage’ and ‘Marriage Equality’ — Both Terms Matter“.

Clearly, not everyone shares the same understanding of the terms “gay marriage” and “marriage equality” and I think it’s crucially important, in the overall quest for equal marriage rights, that the relationship between these terms is explored and articulated.

“Gay Marriage”

Just about everyone (even those who have no connection with or interest in gay rights politics) understands what is meant by “gay marriage” — it’s the phenomenon of two people of the same sex getting married, a woman and a woman, or a man and man.

Except it’s not.  Gay marriage, is two gay people getting married, not two people of the same sex.  If I married my girlfriend I would not be getting gay married, as neither of us are gay.  The continual privileging of “gay” to mean QUILTBAG, makes invisible anyone who doesn’t identify as gay.

In general, however, it is the phrase “gay marriage” — and not “same-sex marriage” — which has dominated public discourse when discussion turns to marriage between persons of the same sex.

Which is typically because those who identify as gay have found the term useful, and haven’t pushed back on media using an exclusionary term.  Those that spoke the loudest were handed a term that suited their identity and they ran with it.  If the media had started with “same sex marriage” the story would be quite different and we’d all be much happier.

In recent years there has been a growing trend by gay rights organizations, and politicians pursuing changes in marriage laws, to downplay the words “gay marriage” and to focus instead on “marriage equality.” While the logic behind this strategy is understandable it has also led to confusion as to what these different labels mean and has resulted in some supporters of same-sex marriage developing an unwarrantedly negative view of the phrase “gay marriage.”

Could that be because “gay marriage” completely excludes those who identify as bisexual, or those trans* folk who don’t identify as gay?  I have a very negative view of the phrase “gay marriage” and it is not at all unwarranted.  After all, I want to be part of the team, not on the sidelines being ignored as the bisexual community is far to commonly used to.

Adjectives are a key part of language. These important words help to describe differences between similar things. They bring visibility to the diversity that exists in just about every aspect of human existence. Without adjectives language would have considerably less communicative value. Placing the word “gay” in front of “marriage” provides useful descriptive information.

Yup, useful descriptive information that the person using the term doesn’t understand that using exclusionary language is a problem (words matter people).  If you want to be an ally to the bisexual community, and bisexuals:

Use inclusive language. Unless you know for a fact that both members of a couple are gay, refer to them as a same-sex couple, not a gay or lesbian couple. Likewise, use “same-sex marriage” rather than “gay marriage”, “LGBT rights” rather than “gay rights,” “the LGBT community” rather than “the gay community”, “pride” or “LGBT pride” rather than “gay pride”, “homophobia and biphobia” rather than just “homophobia”, and so forth. When naming an organization or group, use “LGBT” rather than “gay” if applicable (for example, a “LGBT-Straight Alliance” rather than a “Gay-Straight Alliance”.) [Feministe]

I don’t know how many times people in the bisexual community, and our allies, have to tell people such as Murray Lipp that words matter, and the continued use of “gay marriage” does not include bisexuals and others.

Related to this, campaigns for the legalization of same-sex marriage increasingly downplay the “gay” aspect and focus more on “marriage equality,” which in large part is an effort to avoid having to deal with the very real stigma that is often linked with all things “gay.” While this strategy to neutralize stigma has no doubt helped fuel the success of some of these campaigns, and drawn in more straight supporters, it has also had another impact: the demonization of the term “gay marriage.” It should come as no surprise then that some supporters of same-sex marriage have internalized this and developed a negative view of the term.

I do wonder if Murray Lipp actually spoke to anyone who didn’t like the term “gay marriage” before his article and attempted to understand their objections before just making shit up.  I have not internalised homophobia and have a negative view of “gay marriage” because of the stigma attached to the word “gay”.  I just really hate being sidelined by people who I thought were on my side.

There are number of reasons why “gay marriage” remains a powerful and very useful way to refer to marriage between people of the same sex. As previously outlined, “gay marriage” has instant recognition value — people know what it means — it’s easy for the mind to grasp and understand the concept. When discussing any issue, and especially when trying to attract supporters for a cause, rapid recognition of this kind is extremely valuable, especially in today’s society in which time and attention spans are limited.

Except… except we’re not all gay.  I’m not gay.  My girlfriend is not gay.  My husband is not gay.  My husband’s boyfriend is not gay.  By continually using “gay” as an umbrella term, you make it harder for bisexuals to exist.  You’re making the only options available straight or gay.  Guess what, there are other options, and we’re so very sick of you not paying attention to us.  Hello!  We’re over here!

“Gay marriage” refers to the actual phenomenon of same-sex marriage, the legal union between two people of the same sex. It’s something which is legal or not in any given part of the world. “Marriage equality,” on the other hand, refers to the equal allocation of rights and benefits to all married couples, regardless of whether those couples are opposite-sex or same-sex. It does not describe a type of marriage. It describes an outcome, an achievement or goal, that being the attainment of equality.

“Gay marriage” refers to the legal recognition of two people who identify as gay being married.  Not necessarily all same-sex marriages as we’ve discussed.  I’m a big fan of “marriage equality” and “same-sex” marriage, and you should be too if you want to be seen to be an ally to the entire LGBTIQ community.

While it seems like an impossible dream, there is certainly the hope that one day “gay marriage” will be legal throughout the entire world. If that ever happens there will perhaps then be less need to make distinctions between gay and straight marriage.

And this proves my point.  For Murry Lipp to even have written this indicates that at no point during this article did he consider those who didn’t identify as gay.

In the comments of this article, which I have contributed to, Murray continues to fail to understand that “gay” is not an umbrella term for QUILTBAG and that his exclusion of those who don’t identify as gay could possibly be a problem.  Here is an activist who needs to be educated in being a good queer ally, and ignored until he’s done that education.

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The Epic Linkspam of Today! May 2013

So, here are all the awesome and interesting things I’ve been reading lately (well the ones that don’t end up in the Down Under Feminist Carnival – which you should totally check out).

Chrys Stevenson at Gladly the Cross Eyed Bear writes, “Piers Akerman – Dinosaur Extraordinaire“:

Of course, every age has had its share of dinosaurs. And, as I contemplated the ridiculous sight of Piers Akerman channelling fellow fossil, Corey Bernardi on the Insiders, it occurred to me that, in a different age, Piers Akerman would have been making similarly ridiculous arguments about other issues.

For example, Piers, arguing that “…if you can have all of the social benefits of a civil union without calling it marriage, why do you want to go that extra step?” reminded me of the dinosaurs who argued against those new-fangled horseless carriages. Why would you want a motor vehicle when you can have a perfectly good horse?

Kevin Rose at the New York Mag writes, “Meet the 28-Year-Old Grad Student Who Just Shook the Global Austerity Movement” proving that simple errors can affect millions of people:

Herndon became instantly famous in nerdy economics circles this week as the lead author of a recent paper, “Does High Public Debt Consistently Stifle Economic Growth? A Critique of Reinhart and Rogoff,” that took aim at a massively influential study by two Harvard professors named Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff.  Herndon found some hidden errors in Reinhart and Rogoff’s data set, then calmly took the entire study out back and slaughtered it. Herndon’s takedown — which first appeared in a Mike Konczal post that crashed its host site with traffic — was an immediate sensation. It was cited by prominent anti-austerians like Paul Krugman, spoken about by incoming Bank of England governor Mark Carney, and mentioned on CNBC and several other news outlets as proof that the pro-austerity movement is based, at least in part, on bogus math.

s.e. smith at This Ain’t Living writes, “Seriously Though Why Are Vision and Dental Coverage Extra?“:

I took a look at my body in the mirror this morning, just to make sure everything was where I’d left it, and indeed, everything appeared to be. Every now and then I like to do that, you know. One thing I noticed about my body, and something I think about rather a lot, actually, is that my eyes and teeth appear to be rather firmly and permanently part of it. I mean, I guess I couldn’t have been looking at my body at all if I had no eyes, so obviously those came factory installed in my case, but when I opened my mouth, lo and behold, a set of choppers loomed at me and I was reminded that I needed to brush my teeth.

Yet, health insurance companies as well as government health care programmes seem to believe this is not actually the case, that eyes and teeth are either not part of your body, or are optional upgrades. Extras that you can pay more for if you want them, but aren’t supported under warranty, so to speak. Like, okay, we’ll insure your smartphone, but if something happens to the special bluetooth headset you bought to go with it, don’t come whining to us, because that’s not our responsibility.

s.e. smith at This Ain’t Living also writes, “Inspirational Boy Doesn’t Let His Lack of Impairment Stop Him“:

Most of us could never imagine being nondisabled, and the daily hardship that comes with it; little Billy Jo is really such an inspiration with his courage and bravery every day, let alone with his bold dream of becoming a dancer. Just looking at him is a reminder that there are so many special people among us who have been sent to bless us and teach us. Billy Jo is a lesson in tolerance and he’s sending such a great message to other nondisabled children like him who have a chance to see that it’s possible to achieve great things if you try hard enough.

David Donovan at Independent Australia writes, “Tony Abbott and the “slit your throat” staffer scandal“:

The lies seem to be stacking up, but there are also, of course, questions of ethics and integrity — such as how does a staffer that physically threatens another person and then offers to be a spy for a prominent journalist get to keep his job at all?

And, even more importantly, what cuts to funding for Indigenous programmes are planned under a Coalition Government. Given some of our previous reports, Abbott’s true commitment towards Indigenous affairs must be drawn into question — Roberts’ statements compound these concerns.

None of these questions appear to have been asked by Australia’s dormant mainstream media.

Belen Fernandez at Aljazeera writes, “How to write about Muslims“:

Needless to say, the aftermath of 9/11 did not yield much thoughtful consideration on the part of the mainstream punditry as to the context for such events. According to one prominent narrative, 9/11 was simply evidence of an inherent and unfounded Muslim hatred of the West.

A notable exception was veteran British journalist Robert Fisk. In an article published in The Nation immediately following the attacks, Fisk issued the following prescient warning:

“[T]his is not really the war of democracy versus terror that the world will be asked to believe in the coming days. It is also about US missiles smashing into Palestinian homes and US helicopters firing missiles into a Lebanese ambulance in 1996 and American shells crashing into a village called Qana and about a Lebanese militia – paid and uniformed by America’s Israeli ally – hacking and raping and murdering their way through refugee camps.”

The sale of the “war on terror”, Fisk stressed, depended on the obscuration of all details regarding past and continuing devastation of Arab lands and lives – including US State Department-applauded sanctions that eliminated half a million children in Iraq – “lest they provide the smallest fractional reason for the mass savagery on September 11”.

Will at Queereka writes, “I am Queer: Beyond the Trans/Cis Binary“:

This is a difficult topic for me to find the right language for. I do not feel that there are labels that really encapsulate my identity. “Gay” is too focused on sexual orientation and does not help me to make sense of those aspects of my gender that are variant and non-conforming. “Man” does not really adequately describe me either, and it’s a category and label I have a lot of discomfort with. I do not identify as transgender because I feel that to do so would be appropriative. I also do not care much about recognition (people seeing and identifying me as man) or misrecognition (typically people hearing me and identifying me as a woman, or just randomly calling me “ma’am” or “she/her”) as far as gender is concerned—though I do despise being identified as heterosexual because I am a white male-bodied person (this often happens online, people assume that because I am white and male-bodied that I must therefore be straight as well). I do not identify as cisgender because my gender identity does not match “man,” the gender normatively assigned to my male body. I did come across the term “demiguy,” which vaguely seems to capture my feelings, though I think any association I have with masculinity is because I’m outwardly conforming in appearance in many ways—it’s not because I identify with masculinity in any meaningful way.

This is why I have begun to define myself simply as queer. I have what would be considered a normative male body, but my gender identity is not normative. And it continues changing as I live my life. Part of the impetus for this piece has been the ending of a three-year relationship in which I often felt trapped and judged to the extent that I shaped my behavior to be more conforming than I had previous to the relationship. The sudden, abrupt ending of that relationship turned my world upside down. But it also gave me an opportunity to take stock. In a lot of ways, I was not being true to the self I had finally come to accept before entering that relationship. Now, three years later, I’m re-discovering who I am, what I value, and starting to make sense of my inner dialogue.

Jenny Morber at Double X Science writes, “The average human vagina“:

So, are you normal? Are you average? Yes. No. Most likely. It turns out that there is so much variation among female anatomy that doctors, surgeons, and researchers find it difficult to define exactly what normal is – or even if it exists. And a few at least have been trying.

A beautiful animated short called Caldera which I strongly recommend watching.

Mariam Veiszedah at ABC Religion writes, “Inescapable racism: Reflections of a ‘proud refugee‘”:

I was also subsequently advised by others on Twitter that I should have the phrase “proud Aussie” in my Twitter profile, rather than “proud Refugee.” I use this phrase in my profile, not because I am an ungrateful Aussie, but because I want to demonstrate that refugees are educated and active participants in our community. Ultimately, I want to help change perceptions. Moreover, if my actions don’t demonstrate my gratitude, how would a label somehow do the trick? And why must I assert my level of Australianness every minute of the day? Excessive pride and racial hate speech should be viewed in the same manner – both are entirely unnecessary, really.

Since Friday, I’ve been overwhelmed by messages of support and compassion, and indeed by offers from strangers to help me. For every instance of abuse, there are many expressions of compassion and solidarity. Perhaps the one that has meant the most to me was from former Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser: “I am deeply sorry you had to experience that, some people are so insensitive and stupid, try not to let worry you.” Mr Fraser, of course has been especially vocal in recent times and spoken out about the plight of asylum seekers – if only some of our incumbent politicians shared and expressed his same convictions!

Zoe Krupka at New Matilda writes, “Why Mourn Boston – And Not Kabul?“:

There’s been a lot said lately about how we’re talking about Boston and not so much about Iraq and Afghanistan. We’re wondering if one life is worth more than another in our current media cycle. But what’s behind our arguably disproportionate attention to the Boston bombings? Are we just suffering from an incapacity to care for more than our own?

There’s a conversation we’ve been trying to have about racism in the reporting of the Boston bombings. It’s the same conversation we try to have every time there’s a tragedy in the West that measured globally, barely tips the Richter scale of international disaster. We get started with this conversation, as Virginia Trioli recently tried to do, but it either gets brutally cut down or prematurely cut short.  I think we’re having trouble following it through because the truth of why we seem to care more about Boston than about Kabul and Ramullah may just be too hard for us to swallow.

Violeta Politoff at New Matilda writes, “Why Media Gender Equality Matters”:

VicHealth has shown that among men, the most common predictor of the use of violence against women is their agreement with sexist, patriarchal, and/or sexually hostile attitudes. So based on this research it is clear that seeking gender equity in the media, where ideas are disseminated and reinforced, is integral to the prevention of violence against women.

In the research I’ve undertaken with Professor Jenny Morgan, we’ve found that, in spite of the importance of attitudes towards gender equity in the ongoing issue of violence against women, issues of gender are rarely discussed in the reporting.

The lack of context in the reporting of violence against women tended to make the violence appear only as an individual problem (a family or relationship problem) rather than also being part of a broader social problem. One consequence of individualising the issue is that it tends to erase gender from discussions of the dynamics of violence against women, even though attitudes towards gender play a central role in the ongoing problem.

Daniel Golding at ABC Arts writes, “BioShock Infinite: an intelligent, violent videogame?“:

The first major choice that players of BioShock Infinite are presented with is whether they would like to publicly punish an interracial couple or not. You may choose to throw a ball at the couple, who are tied up in front of a crowd at a fair, or you may choose to throw the ball at the man who is asking you to do so. The outcome of your choice is mostly the same.

Let’s think about that for a moment. BioShock Infinite, the game that many would hope to point to as an example of how art and subtlety might be found in expensive, mainstream videogames, sets up its moral stakes by asking the player if they would like to be a violent bigot.

These are the complex and difficult decisions found in videogames in 2013: would you like to be in the Ku Kux Klan or would you like to be Abraham Lincoln? Would you like to join the Nazi party or found the United Nations? Would you like to be for or against?

Do you see the nuance here? Do you see the art?

John Walker at Rock Paper Shotgun writes, “Misogyny, Sexism, And Why RPS Isn’t Shutting Up“:

There is a clear message: Rock, Paper, Shotgun will never back down on the subject of sexism and misogyny (nor racism, nor homophobia, for that matter) in games, the games industry, and the games journalism industry. Good times are ahead – we can see them.

Many women are mistreated and misrepresented within the games industry. It’s not a matter of opinion, a political position, or claim made to reinforce previous bias. It’s the demonstrable, sad truth. Ask women in the games industry – find out. That you may not perceive it does not mean it doesn’t exist. That you may not perpetuate it doesn’t mean it isn’t relevant to you. Whether you are male or female or identify anywhere between does not exclude you nor repudiate you from the matter. The amount to which you think it doesn’t exist is directly proportional to the amount to which you do not care that it exists. If you don’t care that it exists, I hope you are willing to be open-minded enough to try to empathise with others that do – at least give that a go. And if you care passionately about it, and feel offended by the tone of this piece as if it doesn’t acknowledge you, then I apologise, and hope you understand why.

Jane Hodge at Champions of Change writes, “Australia’s Hysteria“:

Although Australia experienced a rise in asylum applications, the total number of applications registered in Australia in 2012 was a modest 15,800 compared with the 355,500 claims received in Europe and the 103,900 received in North America. As information and research from Australia’s commonwealth parliamentary library shows, since 1999–2001, when Australia last experienced a surge in boat arrivals during the Howard Government, irregular maritime arrivals (IMA’s) lodging asylum claims have consisted primarily of people from Afghanistan followed by Iraq, Iran and Sri Lanka. However, Australia has not shouldered a significant amount of asylum flows from these countries—much higher numbers of asylum seekers from these countries have gone to the UK and other destination countries. In fact, as Guterres notes, none of the industrialised countries, Australia included, shoulder a significant amount of asylum seekers compared to the developing countries neighbouring most of the world’s conflict zones. The vast majority of asylum seekers are hosted in countries such as Pakistan, so the burden of assisting the world’s asylum seekers and refugees actually falls to some of the world’s poorest countries.

So what does this tell us about Australia’s hysteria around receiving 3% of the industrialized worlds asylum applications? (3% take note, is the amount of applications lodged, not the amount of visas granted). What this tells us is that other industrialised countries, and many more poor developing countries, take many more asylum seekers than we do in Australia, and that they deal with the situation much better. Take Sweden for example, who accepts nearly 3 times the number of asylum seekers per year than we do in Australia. In Sweden asylum seekers are welcomed, are assigned their own case worker and lawyer, are allowed freedom of movement and work rights, are allowed to live with friends or family, and are provided financial support and a housing allowance, all whilst their claims are processed in a maximum of 3 months. Sweden, it seems recognizes asylum seekers for what they are; everyday humans like you and I fleeing persecution.

Shakira Hussein at New Matilda writes, “A Female Muslim In Parliament“:

Such spaces are far less visible in Australia, but even here more and more Muslims like Faruqi are speaking out against homophobia. One of the most high-profile young Muslim women, human rights activist Samah Hadid, caused a minor stir within her community when she told The Australian that she was “a passionate advocate for gay rights”. There is still a lack of friendly space for LGBT Muslims, but up-and-coming leaders like Hadid are willing to put in the hard work to create them. The idea that a Muslim politician must therefore take a homophobic policy stance does not reflect the worldview of many Muslims in Australia.

I do not expect to agree with all aspects of Faruqi’s political opinions just because we belong to the same religions — or because we belong to the same gender, come to that.

Julia Serano writes, “Bisexuality does not reinforce the gender binary“:

The second, and far more important reason (at least for me), why I embrace the word bisexual is that people perceive me and react to me very differently depending on whether the person I am coupled with is (or appears to be) a woman or a man.

In the hetero-mainstream, when I am paired with a man, I am read as straight; when I am paired with a woman, I am read as queer. In queer settings, when I am paired with a woman, I am read as lesbian/dyke/queer and viewed as a legitimate member of the community.

But when I am paired with a man (especially when the man in question is cisgender), then I am not merely unaccepted and viewed as an outsider, but I may even be accused of buying into or reinforcing the hetero-patriarchy.

So in other words, the “bi” in bisexual does not merely refer to the types of people that I am sexual with, but to the fact that both the straight and queer worlds view me in two very different ways depending upon who I happen to be partnered with at any given moment.

Faisal Darem at Al-Shorfa writes “Children Parliament in Yemen strong voice on major issues“:

Members of Yemen’s Children’s Parliament may be young, but they serve as the first line of defence on children’s issues and can influence government policy.

Its members can summon ministers who handle children’s rights for questioning or make recommendations and submit them to the House of Representatives and the Shura Council for discussion.

The Children’s Parliament meets for three days every three months in one of parliament’s halls. Its members have the support and sponsorship of the president and the Yemeni Parliament.

Children’s Parliament in Yemen was established by the Democracy School, a grass roots organization in Yemen, which oversees parliament’s elections and organises its meetings. Its inaugural session was held in 2000.

Lauren Rankin at policymic writes, “Transphobia Has No Place in Feminism“:

Bigotry is often born out of fear and confusion at those whose identities we don’t understand. We fear that their difference reflects on our sameness, and in a rush to blanket ourselves in the comfort of conformity, we demonize their difference. Progressives often bemoan the bigotry underlying the policies and political positions of those on the right, but the sad truth is that bigotry exists even in progressive and feminist spaces. And nowhere is that more evident that in the transphobia, both latent and outright, that underwrites many facets of the feminist movement

Often, mainstream feminists simply avoid talking or writing about trans women. Trans woman and activist Sophia Banks emphasizes that while she identifies as a feminist, her experience within the feminist community has been largely mixed. “Intersectional feminists have been great but many radical feminists have been really hurtful towards me,” she says, highlighting that many feminists work within the confines of gendered language, and, perhaps unknowingly, operate from an assumption that cisgender women (cisgender means someone who identifies with the gender they were born with) are their target audience.

Any assumption that cisgender women are the only true women is a blatant form of bigotry. And honestly, it’s in direct violation of Feminism 101. After all, Simone De Beauvoir said more than half a century ago “One is not born, but rather becomes, a woman.”

Javier C. Hernandez at The New York Times writes and obituary for Mary Thom, “Mary Thom, an Editor Who Shaped Feminist Voices, Dies at 68“:

Mary Thom, a chronicler of the feminist movement and former executive editor of Ms. magazine, died Friday in a motorcycle accident in Yonkers. She was 68 and lived in Manhattan.

The Women’s Media Center, where Ms. Thom was the editor in chief, announced her death. Ms. Thom joined Ms. magazine in 1972 as an editor, rising to become executive editor in 1990. She was known as a journalistic virtuoso who shaped the writing of many of the feminist movement’s luminaries, including Gloria Steinem.

Deborah Stone at Arts Hub writes about Shareena Clanton in “‘I just want a job where I don’t get beaten up.’“:

Aboriginal actress Shareena Clanton will hit screens in Wentworth this week playing Doreen Anderson, a prisoner with a history of drugs, alcohol and abuse. Clanton is already well known from her role as Lilly in Redfern Now, another drug addict, this time with a psychiatric illness.

If you are sensing a theme here you’d be right and it’s impossible to ignore Clanton’s conclusion that the reason is simply racist typecasting. Casting directors take one look at her dark skin and cast her as a victim or a loser.

‘In the roles I get I’m always being beaten up, if not physically, then emotionally. I’m always a drug addict or I’ve been abused or I’m supposed to be this dumb Aborigine. Why can’t I be the secretary or the cop?  Why can’t I just be the mother on the Kellogg’s commercial sending the kids off to school with breakfast?’

Over at the UN website, “Religion and culture cannot justify discrimination against gays and lesbians, Ban warns“:

Pledging that “we must right these wrongs,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today denounced discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people, and declared that religion, culture and tradition can never be a justification for denying them their basic rights.

“Governments have a legal duty to protect everyone,” he said in a video message to the Oslo Conference on Human Rights, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, voicing outrage at the assault, imprisonment and murder of. LGBTs. “Some will oppose change. They may invoke culture, tradition or religion to defend the status quo.

“Such arguments have been used to try to justify slavery, child marriage, rape in marriage and female genital mutilation. I respect culture, tradition and religion – but they can never justify the denial of basic rights.”

Clementine Ford at Daily Life writes, “Debunking the myths of sex work“:

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been both witness to and participant in a number of conversations around sex work, autonomy and feminism. A recent argument on Twitter had me baffled by one representative from a conservative feminist organisation in Australia, who trotted out the tired idea that sex work degrades and harms all women. Elsewhere, people have been rehashing the argument that the sex industry is a sort of Outland ghetto for traumatised drug addicts, abuse survivors and the mentally ill, all of whom are connected by the singular characteristic of having little to no self-esteem. We can pity them, but gosh wouldn’t we just hate for anyone we loved to be them?

Well no, I wouldn’t hate that actually. I have a number of friends and acquaintances who have either been or currently are sex workers. No doubt I know greater numbers of women still who may one day become sex workers. And I’m tired of seeing their lives denigrated because of how they choose to make money – as if taking off your clothes for a pre-arranged fee is somehow less honourable than working for a mining company or a tabloid magazine.

Demonising sex workers under the guise of “helping” them is simply a way of expressing puritanical snobbery. As an intellectual tool, it relies more on myths and prejudices than any real knowledge of the lives of sex workers.

Wade Roush at xconomy writes, “Dropcam CEO’s Beef with Brogramming, Late Nights, and Free Dinners“:

It probably has something to do with the 26-year-old CEO’s views about the right way to build a company—which emphatically aren’t the views you’ll find at most startups around Silicon Valley. He thinks the lavish perks at many technology companies, especially the free on-campus meals, are a disguised form of mind control, designed to get employees to work 12- or 14-hour days.

That’s why there are no free dinners at Dropcam—around 6:00 pm the company shoos employees out the door to eat with their families. And here’s what else you won’t find at Dropcam: free services or products that trade on users’ attention or data to earn revenue; an engineering department full of young, single, childless males; and, according to Duffy, assholes of any description.

Merran Reed at Time Out Melbourne writes, “Free Love: The Age of Polyamory“:

Anne asserts that polyamory isn’t for everyone. “You’ve got to really enjoy relating to people and spending time with them. You’re going to get confronted with a lot of your insecurities whether you like it or not. So if you’re not looking for personal growth, don’t bother.”

Having multiple relationships challenges what Hollyweird movie endings have instilled in us, rejecting the idea that one person can make you complete. “That’s what I love,” Anne exclaims. “You’re free to enjoy what is organically real about the relationship. You don’t have to make it anything else.”

At brofiling, “white privilege radically changes the appearance of Tsarnaev bros“:

Just so it is said, clearly and unambiguously: the Tsarnaev brothers are white guys. They are white. The FBI’s own wanted poster for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev lists his race as “white”, but you would never know it from the cover image on The Week.

Hold up the cover to someone else, and ask them how many white people they can see on the cover. Chances are they will identify Gabby Giffords on the top left and the image of the Boston policemen (all white men) on the top right, but how about those two guys in the center? Nope, not a chance that anyone would say these caricatures look white.

Why? Because in addition to being white they are also “Muslim”, which is the current dehumanizing “Other” label that whiteness has constructed as a sanctioned target for violence in US popular culture.

Sarah Burnside at New Matilda writes, “How To Make It As A Female Op-Ed Star“:

These opportunities also come with inbuilt limitations. English writer and activist Laurie Penny noted in a 2012 interview that the “first two articles I ever had commissioned by a major newspaper were about my experience of anorexia as a teenager and my brief stint as a burlesque dancer”. These pieces had followed on the heels of unsuccessful pitches of “any number of serious political pieces which didn’t have anything to do with me or my arse”.

Penny explained that “[y]oung women in particular have to work very hard to get into this industry, and it’s often a toss-up…between getting work and being taken seriously”.

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The linkspam that never dies of April 2013

So what a month, I’ve finished collating the Down Under Feminists’ Carnival, and have my own linkspam to attend to.  There is some great stuff here, and yes it is epic.  The epic of all linkspam.

Suw Charman-Anderson at Firstpost Technology writes, “Facebook finally admits to tracking non-users“. Please after reading this article go and implement all the recommendations to protect your privacy.

Chaitanya at Applied Ghandi writes about “‘Saalumarada’ Thimmakka – A Peerless Green Champion!“:

Thimmakka, aged 101*, is a native of Hulikal village in the Magadi taluk of Bangalore Rural district in Karnataka.

She has an unsurpassed credit to her name—some 1000 plus sturdy banyan trees, which she has lovingly tended against all odds, from mere saplings to a sweeping canopy.

Saalumarada Thimmakka (“saalumarada”—“row of trees” in Kannada—is an honorific people have added to her name) and her landless labourer husband Chikkannah could not have children. So one day more than 60 years ago, they started planting trees.

Elizabeth Plank at Policymic writes, “France Makes Contraception and Abortion Free“:

Access to free, legal and safe abortionsdoes not, has not and will never increase pregnancy termination rates in the long-term. Unlike soda refils, abortion does not become more attractive when it’s free. Abortion is not an attractive choice, it’s a really difficult one. Abortions aren’t like half price easter chocolates, women don’t run out and get them because they’re on sale (easter chocolate sale? WHERE? WHERE?). They get them because they need them, and that’s why the government should be concerned with provinding affordable and safe access to them.

At Offbeat Bride, a guest post by Babelglyph, “How I made a d20 engagement ring for my secret lesbian D&D proposal“.

David Badash writes at The  New Civil Rights Movement, “Bisexuals Are The ‘Turd In The Punchbowl’ Says Massachusetts Pastor“.

That Lively is a well-known hate monger and the head of a hate group should give him no less cover, should afford him no less condemnation from his fellow pastors. Indeed, it should give them all the more motivation to denounce him, for he is making their Christianity a mockery.

Lively, whose “turd in the punchbowl” post for some strange reason hit Memeorandum, a popular news aggregator that tends to highlight the most popular news stories of the day, claims that marriage “is a clean and holy institution.” It’s doubtful many married people would describe their marriages as clean. Marriage is far from clean — it’s messy, challenging, hard work, although certainly priceless.

Clementine Ford at Howling Clementine writes, “How to handle a patronising dipshit: A guide“.

Cory Doctorow at Boing Boing writes, “NYPD will arrest you for carrying condoms: the women/trans/genderqueer version of stop-and-frisk“:

NYC has a law prohibiting “loitering for the purposes of engaging in a prostitution offense” which lets cops arrest whomever they feel like, on the strength of their conviction that the person is probably a sex-worker, on the basis of flimsy circumstantial evidence like carrying a condom, talking to men, or wearing tight clothes. Like stop-and-frisk, it’s part of a pattern of laws that assume that the police have infallible intuition about who the “bad guys” are and lets them use their discretion to harass and bust whomever they feel like. And like stop-and-frisk laws, the “condom” law shows that the much-vaunted cop intuition is really just bias, a dowsing rod that leads officers to poor women, genderqueer people, and trans people.

PZ Myers at Pharyngula writes, “The difference between us and them*trigger warning for discussion of rape*:

As is typical, the conservatives have this unimaginative, short-sighted view of what it means to tell someone rape is wrong. They’re all imagining a woman confronted by an attacker who then solemnly tells them that they’re committing an illegal act, and expecting them to simply stop. But that’s not what she’s talking about at all.

We live in a culture where boys grow up to be privileged, entitled little shits who think women are pleasure objects for their benefit. Let’s start there and change that. Let’s say that frat boy antics are not OK. Let’s tell media to wake up and notice that women are autonomous human beings, not convenient plot points and MacGuffins. Let’s wake up and realize that valuing women only for the size of their breasts and the youthfulness of their skin is dehumanizing. She’s talking about taking on the difficult task of changing cultural attitudes.

bisexcellent writes, “The Language of Opposition“:

The language of opposition can suggest that multiple-gender attractions are paradoxical. This isn’t an uncommon view. The belief that people can not be bisexual is based on this.

It can also imply conflict between same-sex attraction and other-sex attraction. The idea is that there’s heterosexuality and homosexuality, and bisexuality is those two competing in an individual. They do not consider that multiple-gender attractions can simply coexist, or that these attractions can form a cohesive whole.

Karen Rowan at My Health News Daily writes, “Pediatricians’ Group Supports Gay Marriage, Adoption Rights“:

The American Academy of Pediatrics announced in a new policy statement that it supports the rights for gay and lesbian couples to marry as well as become foster parents and adoptive parents.

“Research shows children thrive when there are two parents who love them and can provide a nurturing environment for them, and that sexual orientation makes no difference, said Dr. Benjamin S. Siegel, professor of pediatrics and psychiatry at Boston University School of Medicine and co-author of the policy statement, which is published online today in the journal Pediatrics.

Shannon Barber at Nudemuse writes, “Nudemuse…daily nattering.“:

In light of the many terrible things that my stress levels could cause, why is it that people who are so concerned about my health overlook all those things just because my ass is smaller?

I’ve had it happening on the internets as well.

Of the dozen or so people who have anonymously congratulated me on being a smaller fatty, not one of them has seemed at all concerned about my actual health.

So again I am left with the distinct impression that no, nobody who wanted me to lose weight in the first place actually cared about my real health.

Daniel Ellsberg writes at Boing Boing, “A Salute to Bradley Manning, Whistleblower, As We Hear His Words For The First Time“:

Whoever made this recording, and I don’t know who the person is, has done the American public a great service. This marks the first time the American public can hear Bradley Manning, in his own voice, explain what he did and how he did it.

Now I hope the American people can see Manning in a different light. In 1971, I was able to give the media my side of the story, and it is long overdue that Manning be able to do the same. As Manning has now done, I stipulated as to all the facts for which I was accused. And I did that for several reasons, and I suspect that Manning had the same motives.

Rebecca Kamm at the The New Zealand Herald writes, “Stop telling women to smile“:

What is it about being approached by a strange man out of the blue and told to “Smile!” that’s so stomach-knottingly aggravating? Is there something a little bit passive aggressive about it, or are you just over-sensitive?

Yes, there is, and no, you’re not.

Sadie Whitelocks at MainOnline writes, “Mother launches range of Down Syndrome dolls for daughter, 13, so she can ‘see something beautiful’ when she plays“:

A mother has created a range of Down Syndrome dolls inspired by her daughter, who is affected by the chromosomal condition.

Connie Feda, 49, from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, set about making a mini-me version of her youngest child, Hannah, after she complained that none of the dolls in a toy catalog looked like her.

But in a bid to give other children like hers ‘a friend for life’, Mrs Feda turned her Dolls For Downs project into a full-time occupation and her plastic figurines are set to hit the market in May.

Alicia Simmonds at Daily Life writes, “When did it stop being OK for men to hold hands?

So what went wrong? How did white/western men go from frolicsome fraternities to mute masculinity? How did we crash from the love-song of male friendship to the homophobic clamour of the empty seat between men at the cinema? Why does an early twentieth century photo of footballers show them amorously folded one on top of the other while a late-twentieth century picture would show them perched upright, hands on knees, legs forming a bodily barricade?

Ibson blames the rise of homophobic sentiment in the twentieth century, culminating in the feverish anti-gay witch-hunts of the 1950s. Of course sodomy was never looked kindly upon, but it wasn’t until the late nineteenth century that homosexuality emerged as a specific identity, rather than just a practice. Homosexuality moved from something that you did (like kissing or masturbation) to something that you were (a homosexual). Branded with their own label, homosexuals were pathologised as a problem for medicine or psychiatry to solve. Throughout the twentieth century homosexuals became increasingly suspect.

And the more threatening homosexuals appeared the more that male bodies drifted apart. A chill wind swept through male friendships. Heterosexual men became careful not to send messages that they could be gay. Paranoia replaced public affection.

Sophia Pearson, Stephanie Armour and Christie Smythe write at The Age, “Morning after pill access expanded as judge blasts FDA delay“:

US District Judge Edward Korman in Brooklyn, New York, excoriated the Food and Drug Administration yesterday for what he called a 12-year delay in making the emergency contraceptive, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd.’s Plan B, available over the counter.

“These emergency contraceptives would be among the safest drugs sold over the counter,” Korman wrote, and “the number of 11-year-olds using these drugs is likely to be minuscule.”

“The invocation of the adverse effect of Plan B on 11- year-olds is an excuse to deprive the overwhelming majority of women of their right to obtain contraceptives without unjustified and burdensome restrictions,” the judge wrote.

Huffpost Gay Voices writes, “Microsoft Outlook Features Gay Wedding In New Ad” (ahem marriage equality):

Microsoft Outlook features a same-sex wedding as part of its new advertising campaign.

The new clip shows two women tying the knot before one updates her surname within the Outlook program.

Laurie Abraham at The New York Times writes, “Teaching Good Sex” a program I’d really love to see implemented in Australia too:

Sexuality and Society begins in the fall with a discussion of how to recognize and form your own values, then moves through topics like sexual orientation (occasionally students identify as gay or transgender, Vernacchio said, but in this particular class none did); safer sex; relationships; sexual health; and the emotional and physical terrain of sexual activity. (The standard public-school curriculum sticks to S.T.I.’s and contraceptive methods, and it can go by in a blink; in a Kaiser Family Foundation survey, two-thirds of principals said that the subject was covered in just several class periods.) Vernacchio also teaches a mandatory six-session sexuality course for ninth graders that covers some of the same material presented to the older kids, though less fully.

The lessons that tend to raise eyebrows outside the school, according to Vernacchio, are a medical research video he shows of a woman ejaculating — students are allowed to excuse themselves if they prefer not to watch — and a couple of dozen up-close photographs of vulvas and penises. The photos, Vernacchio said, are intended to show his charges the broad range of what’s out there. “It’s really a process of desensitizing them to what real genitals look like so they’ll be less freaked out by their own and, one day, their partner’s,” he said. What’s interesting, he added, is that both the boys and girls receive the photographs of the penises rather placidly but often insist that the vulvas don’t look “normal.” “They have no point of reference for what a normal, healthy vulva looks like, even their own,” Vernacchio said. The female student-council vice president agreed: “When we did the biology unit, I probably would’ve been able to label just as many of the boys’ body parts as the girls’, which is sad. I mean, you should know about the names of your own body.”

Anne Summers at Daily Life writes, “The question no man ever gets asked“:

If once we were vapid creatures who, in the view of Sigmund Freud, could not decide what we wanted, now we are voracious careerists who want the lot. That the question is even posed is, of course, gratuitous and demeaning, since the “all” refers to having a job and a family. If you are a bloke, you can have it “all” without anyone raising an eyebrow – or even asking how you manage to “do it all”.

This was a source of particular irritation to Nicola Roxon who resigned as attorney-general earlier this month and who is leaving the Parliament at the next election because she wants to be at home for her young daughter. She often mentioned in media interviews that it really riled her that she was constantly asked how she managed to combine being a cabinet minister with being a wife and mother, whereas her male colleagues who were husbands and fathers were never asked the same question.

Douglas Martin has written an obituary for “Yvonne Brill, a Pioneering Rocket Scientist, Dies at 88“, thankfully now updated to remove most of the sexism:

Mrs. Brill — she preferred to be called Mrs., her son said — is believed to have been the only woman in the United States who was actually doing rocket science in the mid-1940s, when she worked on the first designs for an American satellite.

It was a distinction she earned in the face of obstacles, beginning when the University of Manitoba in Canada refused to let her major in engineering because there were no accommodations for women at an outdoor engineering camp, which students were required to attend.

“You just have to be cheerful about it and not get upset when you get insulted,” she once said.

A post by Lisa Wade PhD at Sociological Images, “Men-are-People and Women-are-Women: The Obituary Edition” outlines the changes made to the obituary by the New York Times.

An excellent guest post at Nursing Clio, “Same-Sex Marriage Does Threaten “Traditional” Marriage“:

Marriage equality is a threat to those who do not believe in EQUALITY between the sexes in general. Some who oppose marriage between two women or between two men believe that homosexuality is a sin, or that same-sex marriage harms children, or that it will lead to more divorces. But as I listened to the “protect traditional marriage” ralliers outside the U.S. Supreme Court hearings last week one unified message came through loud and clear: same-sex marriage threatens traditional marriage because it challenges ideas about proper gender roles.

Same-sex marriage makes a lie of the very foundation of traditional gender roles.  Same-sex marriages say that a woman can run a household, or that a man can raise a child. This does not square with those whose lives and beliefs and relationships depend on upholding and living their lives based on differences between the sexes. Over and over on C-SPAN I hear people in 2013 arguing that both a mother and a father are needed in order to raise children – indeed, that children have a RIGHT to both a mother and a father. (And so, you see, proponents of same-sex marriage are not actually supporting the granting of rights, but rather the taking away of rights… of children. The twists in logic are mind-boggling.)

Peter Mercurio writes in The New York Times, “We Found Our Son in the Subway“:

The story of how Danny and I were married last July in a Manhattan courtroom, with our son, Kevin, beside us, began 12 years earlier, in a dark, damp subway station.

Danny called me that day, frantic. “I found a baby!” he shouted. “I called 911, but I don’t think they believed me. No one’s coming. I don’t want to leave the baby alone. Get down here and flag down a police car or something.” By nature Danny is a remarkably calm person, so when I felt his heart pounding through the phone line, I knew I had to run.

Judith Shulevitz at New Republic writes, “Why Do Grandmothers Exist? Solving an evolutionary mystery“:

Besides being classed among the oddities of the animal kingdom, post-menopausal women lack obvious utility. They tend to be weak. They don’t have much sex appeal. They eat food working people might make better use of. In Paraguay’s Ache tribe, aging women used to listen with terror for the footsteps of the young men whose job it was to sneak up on them with an ax and brain them. Most societies don’t actually murder their grannies, but that women manage to attain old age is an evolutionary mystery and requires explanation.

Some people deny that women did live past menopause, whether in the Pleistocene era or the nineteenth century. Before modern hygiene and medicine, the argument goes, people just didn’t live very long. But most scientists don’t think that anymore. It is true that, in the olden days, fewer people reached their golden years. Children dropped dead with disturbing ease, keeping life-expectancy averages low. But humans still had the capacity to live twice as long as our hominid ancestors. Those who got to 15 had about a 60 percent chance of making it to 45, at which point odds were respectable that they’d reach old age. Many anthropologists and biologists now believe that the bodies of Homo sapiens were designed to last about 72 years.

Stephanie Pappas at Live Science writes, “Men Who Blame Victim for Sexual Harassment Are Often Harassers“:

The findings are a confirmation of what social scientists had expected, said study researcher Colin Key, a psychologist at the University of Tennessee, Martin. But the results could help explain why some environments seem to foster sexual harassment, Key said.

“There are some toxic work environments where males dominate, and there is a culture that lets them engage in this action and then get away with it,” Key to LiveScience. Hopefully, this just adds to the knowledge that we need to target the whole system sometimes and not just these men.”

MarkCC at Good Math, Bad Math writes, “A White Boy’s Observations of Sexism and the Adria Richards Fiasco“:

See, I’m a white guy, born as a member of an upper middle class white family. That means that I’m awfully lucky. I’m part of the group that is, effectively, treated as the normal, default person in most settings. I’m also a guy who’s married to a chinese woman, and who’s learned a bit about how utterly clueless I am.

My own awakening about these kinds of things came from my time working at IBM. I’ve told this first story before, but it’s really worth repeating.

One year, I managed the summer intership programs for my department. The previous summer, IBM research had wound up with an intership class consisting of 99% men. (That’s not an estimate: that’s a real number. That year, IBM research hired 198 summer interns, of whom 2 were women.) For a company like IBM, numbers like that are scary. Ignoring all of the social issues of excluding potentially great candidates, numbers like that can open the company up to gender discrimination lawsuits!

So my year, they decided to encourage the hiring of more diverse candidates. The way that they did that was by allocating each department a budget for summer interns. They could only hire up to their budgeted number of interns. Only women and minority candidates didn’t count against the budget.

When the summer program hiring opened, my department was allocated a budget of six students. All six slots were gone within the first day. Every single one of them went to a white, american, male student.

yourlesbianfriend at Queer Guess Code writes, “Un-Memorizing the “Silence is Sexy” Date Script“:

A woman once told me pointedly something that has stayed with me to this day.  We were kissing.  Lying on the cold wood floor, my hand traveled across her stomach and she whispered, “I think we should take it slow.”  I agreed immediately.  Before moving in to kiss her again, I said, “Just tell me when to stop.”

This, I thought, was considerate.  Respectful.  Sexy.  But she quickly corrected my mistake.  Pulling away from me, her face took on a serious expression and the words she spoke illuminated a misunderstanding I had long nurtured, even as I knew myself to be a thoughtful feminist with much respect for other women.

In essence, what she said was, “Women are not given enough opportunities to say ‘yes.’”

Brendan Kiley at the Stranger writes, “Freedom Is Frustrating“:

One night a few weeks ago, it hosted its latest welcome-home party, for well-loved Reef employee Katherine Olejnik and her friend Matthew Duran. The two had been released that day from the SeaTac Federal Detention Center (FDC) after five months, including two months of solitary confinement, for refusing to answer arguably McCarthyesque questions about other people’s politics in front of a grand jury. The federal prosecutor was ostensibly interested in some political vandalism in Seattle on May Day—but neither Duran nor Olejnik were in Seattle during the demonstration. (Olejnik had been working a shift at the Reef.) Duran and Olejnik say they were shown photographs and asked to talk about who knew whom, who lived with whom, and whether those people were anarchists. When Duran and Olejnik refused to answer, they were sent to prison for civil contempt. At the time, Olejnik’s attorney, Jenn Kaplan, said, “I’d hate for the public to think of her as an obstacle to a prosecution rather than as a principled person.”

Lindy West at Jezebel writes, “If I Admit That ‘Hating Men’ Is a Thing, Will You Stop Turning It Into a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy?“:

Though it is a seductive scapegoat (I understand why it attracts you), none of these terrible, painful problems in your life were caused by the spectre of “misandry.” You can rest easy about that, I promise! In fact, the most powerful proponent of misandry in modern internet discourse is you — specifically, your dogged insistence that misandry is a genuine, systemic, oppressive force on par with misogyny. This is specious, it hurts women, and it is hurting you. Most feminists don’t hate men, as a group (we hate the system that disproportionately favors men at the expense of women), but — congratulations! — we are starting to hate you. You, the person. Your obsession with misandry has turned misandry into a self-fulfilling prophecy. (I mean, sort of. Hating individual men is not the same as hating all men. But more on that in a minute.) Are you happy now? Is this what you wanted? Feminism is, in essence, a social justice movement—it wants to take the side of the alienated and the marginalized, and that includes alienated and marginalized men. Please stop turning us against you.

It is nearly impossible to address problems facing women—especially problems in which men are even tangentially culpable—without comments sections devolving into cries of “misandry!” from men and replies of “misandry isn’t real” from women. Feminists are tired of this endless, fruitless turd-pong: hollow “conversation” built on willful miscommunication, bouncing back and forth, back and forth, until both sides throw up their hands and bolt. Maybe you are tired of this too. We seem to be having some very deep misunderstandings on this point, so let’s unpack it. I promise not to yell.

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The proof is actually in the Tony Abbott pudding

So today Abbott has come out saying that he’s a changed man, that he’s grown and changed (recently) and that we shouldn’t judge him by comments he made 35 years ago.  Ok, sure, I won’t judge Tony Abbott for comments he made 35 years ago, back when he was a dick, I’ll judge him for comments he’s said far more recently than that, which still show he’s still a dick.

Harsh you might say, but I note he hasn’t actually come out distancing himself from those far more recent comments.  Let’s look at today’s news across the spectrum of news agencies.

First the ABC:

Federal Opposition Leader Tony Abbott says he can guarantee that his religious views will not impact on policies about women.

The Liberal leader has also backtracked from his previous views on homosexuals and saying the numbers of abortions each year is a “legacy of unutterable shame”.

“I didn’t express it as well as I could have or should have,” Mr Abbott said.

“And I absolutely accept that for any woman facing an unexpected pregnancy, the choices are tough.”

“Faith is important to me. It’s important to millions of Australians. It helps to shape who I am. It helps to shape my values,” he said.

“But it must never, never dictate my politics. Judge me by what the considered view today is, not by throwaway lines and off-hand comments 35 years ago.”

Mr Abbott, who as student politician at Sydney University opposed gay rights, also said he no longer has the strong views on homosexuality he used to.

In the interview Mr Abbott reaffirmed his opposition to gay marriage.

Ok, so from the ABC report, we know that the choices women have when dealing with unexpected pregnancies are tough, but there is no mention of any new Coalition policies towards the decriminalisation of abortion.  Abbott has also said that although his faith is important, it won’t dictate his politics, asking that we don’t judge him by his dickish comments 35 years ago.  He hasn’t, as I said earlier, repudiated his comments over the past 11 years, many of which suggest that his politics are deeply influenced by this faith.  He also said that his “strong views on homosexuality” have changed, but he still opposes marriage equality.  Which suggests that although he might now think that the queer community are ok, he isn’t all for equal rights.

Additional information from news.com includes:

Mr Abbott reflected on the now-famous speech by Prime Minister Julia Gillard attacking him as a misogynist.

“It wasn’t fair and it wasn’t true,” he said.

He said he had said things in the past which he wouldn’t say today, and believed in things that he did not believe now.

“I have changed and I like to think I have grown,” he said.

His views on homosexuality have also changed and he now warmly accepts his sister Christine Forster as a lesbian, after she left her marriage of 19 years to be with her new partner Virginia.

 

 

So which things has Abbott changed his mind on?  The news articles, and I’m guessing also from the content the 60 Minutes interview, he has just said he’s changed his mind and hasn’t actually enunciated what he’s changed his minds on.  No, I’m not going to watch 60 Minutes and listen to Abbott’s voice to determine whether he’s been clear on what he’s changed his mind on precisely, if there was anything substantial it would be reported on in the media such as:

TONY ABBOTT SUPPORTS MARRIAGE EQUALITY

or

ABBOTT SUPPORTS ABORTION DECRIMINALISATION

As none of these things were reported, I think it’s yet another sound bite in the vain attempt to make Abbott seem like a decent individual.

And truly, it is so heart warming that he STILL LOVES HIS OWN SISTER even though she has come out as a lesbian.  When I read that, my heart swelled fit to bursting and the stars shone brighter than ever before.  What type of monster would Abbott be if he actually disowned his sister or stated he couldn’t stand his sister’s decision to live her life true to herself?  That wouldn’t be politically wise, so despite leaving her high and dry in that she cannot marry her new partner or anyone else of the same sex, saying that he “warmly accepts” his sister really is the barest minimum he can do.

And from The Age:

He also stated that earlier comments condemning abortion were poorly stated and admitted that his opposition to homosexuals had changed once he had got to know gays.

Supported by his lesbian sister, her lover, his wife Margie and his daughters, Mr Abbott said that when he claimed three years ago during a television interview that he felt “a bit threatened” by homosexuals, he had been trying to guard a family secret.

He had only just been told by his sister that she was a lesbian.

“Now I couldn’t talk about that then because it was deeply personal and deeply private,” he said.

“But certainly, they were very tough times for our family, hence my comment, because the cohesion of our family was threatened at that time. But I’m pleased to say that we’re all in a better space now than we were then.”

Interviewed at a family barbecue at his Sydney home, Mr Abbott’s sister, Christine Forster, said he had been “completely unfazed” when she told him that she was in a lesbian relationship after 19 years married to a man.

Mr Abbott, who has always insisted marriage was between a man and a woman, even appeared to hold open the vague possibility of a future policy change by his party on same-sex marriage.

So Abbott is attempting to have it both ways, being “completely unfazed” when his sister outed herself to him, and also that “the cohesion of [his] family was threatened at that time” – though granted without context that could be in relation to another issue that had nothing to do with his sister.  The way it is reported however, makes it look like he didn’t react well to his sister coming out as a lesbian, but then he got over himself – well done Abbott – you’re a mostly decent human.

And it shouldn’t take you getting to know some “gays” before your attitude to them changes to acknowledging their equal citizenship and humanity.  Accepting that the broader queer community is make up of regular every day people is a no-brainer, except if you are a fundamentalist Christian who is happier to deny the humanity of your fellow citizens than to question what you have been taught.

Until I see some policy changes from Abbott which genuinely indicates that he’s shifted from his known ultraconservative views to what he is now claiming to be, I don’t accept his claims that he’s grown and changed into a decent individual, and that the Liberal Party is even remotely something I could vote for in the future.

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Bigotry masqurading as rational arguments

It’s not often I bother to click on a link tweeted by ABC Religion and Ethics because far too often I find myself suffering serious eye-roll, if not rage.  Sometimes they have articles worth reading, today’s effort by Roger Scruton and Phillip Blond (two UK writers) was not one of them.

The article was florid and pretentious, using language and terms that many people would struggle with, but the worst thing is that the article was masquerading as a balanced view on marriage, which instead came across as sexist, gender essentialist and a bit homo, bi and trans* phobic.  I suspect that most people would have been put off by the language use, I almost was, and perhaps for my rage levels I should have let myself be – curse my stubbornness.

Continue reading Bigotry masqurading as rational arguments

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Bi-invisibility makes me mad

Whenever I read the term “gay marriage” I get annoyed.  The word “gay” has a specific meaning, it is a sexual orientation in this context, so therefore “gay marriage” would be wedding between two gay people.  Macquarie dictionary (the Australian dictionary of choice) states that gay is especially of male homosexuals, though also states that it relates to homosexuals in a broader sense, so that may include those who identify as lesbian.  The groups that the term “gay” describes does not include bisexuals, trans* and intersex individuals.

So if you decide to use the term “gay marriage”, then you are excluding bisexuals, trans* and intersex individuals from your definition of marriage – which is why I prefer (and argue for) the terms “marriage equality”, “equal marriage” or “same-sex marriage”.  If you’re happy excluding the bisexuals, trans* and intersex members of the LGBTIQ community, then I don’t want to be part of your group.

I know I’ve written about this before, but it keeps happening and so I keep pointing it out.  It happens in places who should really know better, such as in the Fairfax media, or the Huffington Post, or even at my own workplace.  Recently at work, when I called out the person on it, I told them that they should be using inclusive language, and not exclusive language.  The guy I addressed my issue to started to argue with me, but then listened to what I was saying, apologised and agreed to correct the language in the presentation pack.

Fairfax and the Huffington Post completely ignore my requests to them to change their language use.  Fairfax hasn’t been on my radar much recently, but the Huffington Post has been making me growl regularly.  For starters, the section in HuffPo that covers LGBTIQ issues is called “Gay Voices” which really seems quite odd when they have bisexual and trans* content (I don’t know if they have any intersex content).  I have asked that they change it to “Queer Voices”, but have not received any response from them. Clearly I am a lone (ish) voice in Australia, it is possible that a concerted campaign might get through to whoever manages that site.

HuffPos’ twitter account regularly refers to “gay marriage” and doesn’t use inclusive terms.  Tonight they tweeted about a wedding that had to be moved due to Hurricane Sandy, but they called it a “gay wedding” despite no one in the article using the term.  I then argued with people on twitter about orientation – always a fun activity.

All I want, and I don’t think it’s really that hard, is that when referring to issues that affect the entire LGBTIQ community, that attempts are made to use inclusive language.  Using umbrella terms like “gay and lesbian” alienates entire sections of the LGBTIQ community, and that’s not cool.  Making us invisible because saying gay or lesbian is easier is not cool.  We want to be included, we don’t want to be invisible because keeping us invisible makes it harder for us to participate in the wider community, being invisible leads to worse health outcomes for us, being invisible leads to higher rates of violence against us, and generally weakens the community overall.  So next time you hear someone refer to “gay marriage” or the “gay and lesbian [insert group here]” ask them if they intend to exclude bisexuals, trans* and intersex people.

 

 

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Defeat of one of the Marriage Equality Bills

It was a known thing that the vote on this Bill was going to fail.  I didn’t expect the numbers though (42 for, 98 against).  Though those numbers are telling as we now know who is for and who is against marriage equality in the ALP.  The Liberal party were ordered to vote against.

My own MP, Kelvin Thompson (ALP) for the Wills electorate voted against the Bill.  I have just written this letter to him on his contact form:

I am incredibly disappointed to discover today that you voted against the Marriage Equality Bill.  I would love to hear from you why you voted against according those who are in same-sex relationships the equivalent rights as to those who are in opposite sex relationships.

I had hoped as my MP that you would represent my views, and the views of the majority of Australians (as is your job) when voting on the rights of others.

I also thought, that granting rights to people, that do not take away rights of others, was an easy decision, something that would be straight forward to support.

I am eager to hear from you why you believed that this Bill, to allow those people in same-sex relationships to be able to marry each other, was to be voted against.

Please consider when replying to me that your response will have a lot of influence on how I vote for you at the next general election.  I am not interested in receiving a form letter from you, I want to hear your personal reasons for voting against granting rights to a minority group that would equalise their status with the majority.

Let’s see if I get a response to that one.  I will remember that my MP voted against this Bill and has demonstrated that he is not in support of the LGBTIQ community.  That’s something that I won’t forget in a hurry.

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