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Welcome to the 98th Down Under Feminist Carnival

Wow, 98 carnivals.  That’s so many.  It’s been a very busy month with the lead up to the Australian election, Men in football being arsehats, the mass shooting in Orlando at an LGBT night club, Brexit, the rise of hate crimes in the UK, and conservative politicians being arsehats (still).  I have finally had a month off from studying and have been catching up on playing computer games and cooking, not so much on catching up on blogging because I am a tiny bit sick of writing.  Though I have lots of blog pieces in my head anyway.

Anyway, if you want to host a future carnival, then go to the Down Under Feminist Carnival site and let Chally know.  It’s not very hard, lovely people like Chally, Mary, myself, Scarlett and others will fill your inbox with excellent posts from feminists in Australia and New Zealand.

On with the carnival!

Feminism

The fantastic cartoonist, Judy Horacek devoted her topic of the month for July to Feminism (posted at the end of June, so eligible for this carnival (just)).

Blue Milk writes, “Tickets for the Feminist Writers’ Festival are on sale now

Terri Psiakis writes at ABC The Drum, “So you suffer from ‘gender fatigue’? Get well soon“:

Now, don’t get me wrong: I’m not numb-nutting the source of the research. I’m numb-nutting the idea that to achieve workplace gender diversity we need more CEOs with daughters. As if they need the existence of their own female offspring to finally understand the merit in the idea of gender equity at work.

Sure. Don’t champion workplace change because it’s necessary and long overdue. Champion it because you happen to have a girl at home.

Reproductive Justice

Kate Galloway writes at KatGallow, “A mother’s sacrifice: more than an incubator“:

Let’s take this argument to its logical conclusion: any woman of child-bearing age who becomes brain dead must be kept alive until a pregnancy test shows she is not pregnant. If she is pregnant, she must be kept alive until the baby is born. I realise that this is an exaggeration – but if we argue that the Portuguese case is justified because ‘any woman would want her baby to survive’ then where do we draw a line? If the woman is nine months pregnant? Eight? Four? One? How do we decide which foetuses are retained to delivery and which are not? Would we keep the woman on life support even as her body is decaying? What might cause us to change the decision to keep her alive?

Petra Bueskens wrote at New Matilda, “Gaye Demanuele And The Politics Of Homebirth“:

The second big watershed moment for the reduction of access to homebirth was in 2009 when key legislative change, masquerading as reform, changed the registration and regulation process for midwives. New provisions contained in the Health Legislation Amendment (Midwives and Nurse Practitioners) Bill 2009 stipulated that privately practicing midwives had to have a “collaborative arrangement” in place with a doctor, usually an obstetrician, before being eligible for Medicare rebates.

As Maternity Coalition wrote in their response to the new regulations, this gave doctors “veto powers over midwives and birth choices”. It created a system of parallel regulation whereby midwives couldn’t practice without a doctor willing to sanction and support their practice; something that has proven very difficult in practice for homebirth midwives in particular.

Suzanne Dyson writes at The Conversation, “Good sex ed doesn’t lead to teen pregnancy, it prevents it“:

Opponents of school-based sex ed argue that educating young people about sex and relationships can lead to promiscuity, teenage pregnancy, increased rates of STIs and can even influence sexual and gender orientation. But this isn’t supported by the research.

Catherine Chamberlain, Rhonda Marriott and Sandy Campbell wrote at The Conversation, “Why we need to support Aboriginal women’s choice to give birth on country“:

Not all Aboriginal women have access to high-quality, culturally competent maternity care. An audit in Western Australia, for instance, found 75% of services failed to provide maternity care sensitive to Aboriginal culture.

Politics

Kate Galloway writes at KatGallow, “Say no to sexist language in public discourse“:

With respect, whatever Mr Entsch’s views, the LNP’s views, or the voter views of negative gearing and small time investors, it is not OK to use the language and imagery of witches about women. The implication of the image of the witch, deliberately positioned adjacent to Ms Howes’ campaign corflutes, is to invoke the comparison.

Fleur Fitzsimmons submitted a guest post to me, “Guest Post: Equal pay a step closer“:

Equal pay for women-dominated occupations is a step closer with the high-powered group led by the next Governor-General Dame Patsy Reddy and including  Phil O’Reilly, unions and Government Negotiators, tasked with developing equal pay principles under the Equal Pay Act 1972 reporting agreed principles and an agreed process to implement equal pay to the Government.  The group has developed and agreed comprehensive principles for the implementation of equal pay in female-dominated work in New Zealand. The agreed principles are here.

Eva Cox writes at The Conversation, “The f-word enters the campaign and trips up both major parties“:

Bill Shorten unintentionally fired the feminism debate by saying the changes were targeted at women, both as the major users and household organisers of childcare. Nationals deputy Fiona Nash and Today show host Lisa Wilkinson branded this statement “prehistoric”, so Shorten then had to defend his stance by saying men rely on women to handle childcare arrangements..

Celeste Liddle writes at Daily Life, “Federal election 2016: The indigenous women giving me cause to hope“:

Yet despite this, there is one silver lining. This election a record number of Indigenous candidates are standing and of these 13 people, eight are women. Should six of these candidates be successful in getting elected, Australia will hit population parity rates in Parliament for Indigenous people for the first time ever. Considering that it took until just last election for the first Aboriginal woman ever to enter Parliament, eight Aboriginal women contesting seats this election is a welcome advance. Aboriginal men’s voices have often been preferenced by the mainstream over the voices of Aboriginal women due to the patriarchy, and this dynamic looks set to be challenged in Parliament House.

Relationships

Cha wrote at Shallow Depths (about Stardew Valley, a computer game), “Mundus Vult Decipiti“:

Visiting my hapless future husband became part of my daily routine. Which is completely normal, well-adjusted behaviour and not like stalking at all. Except it involved getting to know someone’s schedule, hanging around outside their house and just happening to show up wherever they went. So, exactly like stalking actually.

Emily wrote at Mama Said, “It has been a day” and she also wrote, “The world is big“:

I want to pledge now that I will parent knowing my child is going into this big world and he will have choices – choices to harm and hurt or to walk gently and powerfully with hope in his heart and love for others. I will parent knowing he is going into a world with your children too, that they need love and protection and respect – they need to be kept safe as I hope my son will be kept safe too.

Sexism

Stephanie at No Award wrote, “totally respected in our very respectful code“:

The thing about the misogyny entrenched in our code, of course, is the way it normalises violence against women. Football is a space where we’re told with words that we’re welcome, but we’re also confronted with evidence that we’re not. And the same evidence tells men that anyone who isn’t a man is unwelcome.

Erin Riley writes at The Guardian, “This is what happens when you call out sexism in Australia“:

This is what usually happens when you call out sexism in sport: nobody pays any attention at all.

We’re used to sporting codes being sexist: used to paltry pay packets for female athletes, used to their bodies being objectified, used to sports administrations being dominated by men. Pointing out egregious examples of the worst of sport’s sexism only sometimes raises an eyebrow.

Osman Faruqi wrote at Junkee, “How An Independent Journalist Brought Eddie McGuire’s Sexist Comments To Account“:

Despite making the comments on Triple M last Monday, the McGuire story wasn’t reported by mainstream media outlets late yesterday. Riley, a freelance sports writer, transcribed the comments over the weekend and pushed the story out onto social media where it was eventually picked up by news outlets across the country.

Rebecca Shaw writes at Kill Your Darlings, “Age Gap: Where are the middle-aged women on screens?“:

Try to imagine the most haggard and decrepit old actress you can think of. Who comes to mind? That’s right, it’s Olivia Wilde. The almost-objectively stunning Wilde recently revealed that she had been rejected for a role playing Leonardo DiCaprio’s wife in the The Wolf of Wall Street because she was too old. At the time, she was 28 and Leo was 37. The part ended up going to Australian actress Margot Robbie, who was 21 at the time. The role in question involved portraying a real-life woman, who was 29 during the time the movie was set.

Media

Anna at Flaming Moth/Orlando Creature writes, “The Shrew Lands“:

Having thought about The Taming of the Shrew as long and as intimately as I have my conclusion, for what it’s worth, is that there is no way to make it both a romantic comedy and at the same time not wildly offensive. But (and this is crucial) I have come to believe that this would have been so even when it was first penned, and that its primary driving force is to produce in the audience member the confusion of feeling something to be right and simultaneously feeling it to be wrong. We want Kate and Petruchio to get together and have a great relationship and a great future together, but the framework within which we see it happen is horrible. And I don’t for a moment believe that this is because Shakespeare wanted us to think long and hard about the way our society treats women. I think he merely wanted to make sure his audience left this show compelled to talk about what they had just seen. That was how one made money in the theatre.

Scarlett Harris reviews the most recent series of Orange is the New Black for Junkee.  It’s full of spoilers, just so you know.

Scarlette Harris also writes at SBS, “It’s time for WWE to pay more than lip service to the Women’s Championship“:

It’s been just over two months since World Wrestling Entertainment ushered in a “new era”, calling their female talent Superstars (which the guys had been branded as for decades) instead of Divas and retired the Divas Championship in favour of a brand-spanking new Women’s Championship.

Since then, though, women have continued to get dismal airtime across WWE’s two main shows, three-hour Raw and two-hour SmackDown!.

Stephanie at No Award writes, “No Award watches stuff: Cleverman“:

It’s so clear what’s happening in Cleverman – the Zone is literally within Redfern; it’s not subtle, and we LOVE IT. It’s a message about missions and exclusion and the Stolen Generation, wrapped up in an analogy.

Avril E Jean reviewed some books at, Avril E Jean; Art and Analysis, “Gender bias in books I’ve just read in this week

Race and Racism

Celeste Liddle writes at Rantings of an Aboriginal Feminist, “The neutralising of hate“:

It reminded me of when I saw news reports following Coburg referring to the leftist groups as “extreme anti-racism groups”. See, apparently now, being anti-racist is an extremist action. The problem here being that it actually is. Anti-racism; thanks to centuries of denying colonial invasion, decades of the White Australia Policy, years of Hansonism and Howardism, Cronulla, Islamophobia (even though the Muslim connection to this land mass predates white invasion by up to an estimated 200 years) and bipartisan practice of despicable asylum seeker policy; is considered a radical act. Racism is so very embedded in the fabric of our society and apathy towards it right now is so high that to take an active stance against it is considered terrifying by many.

Bodies and body image

Coley Tangerina writes, “A fat bird“:

“You’re a little bird!” I laugh.

He laughs back. “You’re a fat bird!”

Immediately his smile disappears, uncomfortable with regret.

Kath wrote Fat Heffalump, “Is Radical Fat Activism Dead?“:

Don’t get me wrong, I understand why she, and so many others have decided to give up blogging – I have a lot of the same feelings myself and it makes it really hard to keep blogging the way I used to.  But understanding why doesn’t mean I’m any less sad that so many amazing, bold, innovative fat activists and/or bloggers are deciding to pack it in.

Kath also wrote at Fath Heffalump, “Marketing to Fat Women – This Is How You Do It“:

I mean what can I say?  It’s wonderful!  Including actual fat women, including fat women of colour.  Doing kick-arse stuff.  With nary a word about “health”.  No “plus-size” models that wouldn’t actually wear the plus-size range.  No faux-bo-po slogan accompanied by a bunch of tall, hourglass, white women.  Fat women actually speaking about themselves and their own experiences.  Fat women showing that you can have an amazing life, exactly as you are.

QUILTBAG+ (some of these posts carry trigger warnings for queerphobia and violence)

A little red pen at Little Red Jottings writes, “Orlando, Orlando“:

I’ve been in a relationship with a man since then, so it all feels a bit academic or something now, something I don’t really have the lived experience to claim. It’s easier in this world to play the straight card, to fit in and keep quiet. Quiet when activist, feminist friends edge towards transphobia, quiet when conservative relatives, colleagues, random strangers make bad jokes, quiet when my interests are assumed to be political and not also personal.

Elizabeth Duck-Chong writes at Daily Life, “Why it’s time for parents to re-think declaring their children’s gender“:

There is a pervasive narrative that transgender people are “born as 𝑥”, but in reality, from my first coming out I was starting a process of undoing a lifetime of perceived maleness. My ever having “been a boy” was as foreign as a non-native tongue; my many hours repeating tenses in middle school French would have just as well been spent repeating a mantra of maleness – that is, neither stuck.

But now in adulthood these same friends who understand my womanhood doesn’t originate vaginally, these transgender allies, see the bodies of their children and continue to draw conclusions in pastel pinks and blues.

Jo at A Life Unexamined wrote, “The strange state of being neither in, nor out“:

And so I’ve found myself in this in-between space, where I don’t actually know whether I’m properly out or not. I don’t know whether people have just accepted all the hints and indications and run with it, and that everything is perfectly fine. I don’t know whether they just haven’t picked up on it. I don’t know whether I’m just seen as an active ally, or as queer myself. I don’t know who actually knows a lot more than they let on – like in the one case, where I found out that three of the people in my queer project group had actually found my blog and knew I was ace even before I had made any comments about it whatsoever. (Two of them then asked me out for coffee to talk about it. In a way, I much prefer that super-direct approach to all this uncertainty.)

Dr Inger Mewburn writes at The Thesis Whispherer, “If you blog, will you lose your job?“:

Whatever you think of Ms Ward’s politics, you would have to agree that she has the right to have her Marxist opinions. She also has the presumed right to post on a closed Facebook account in peace. A ‘friend’ leaking what she said about the Australian flag to the mainstream media is something she probably didn’t expect to happen and hearing about it sends a chill down my spine.

Elizabeth Sunderland writes at New Matilda, “Bigotry In The Name Of God: The Case Against Religious Exemptions“:

Shorten assured Christian leaders that if the ALP come to power in July, he will not be seeking to roll back the exemptions to anti-discrimination laws that faith-based organisations currently enjoy. Speaking in Perth, Shorten confirmed that “[the ALP]are not interested in telling religious organisations how to run their faith-based organisations. We haven’t seen the case made to make change.”

This pre-emptive statement – Labor were supposed to review the laws whilst in office – has delighted Catholic leaders, Lyle Shelton of the ACL, and The Australian newspaper. Elsewhere, it’s gone largely unnoticed.

For a nation of people who see ourselves as secular and upholding the separation between church and state, Australians are alarmingly complacent about the influence of religious organisations.

Sarah Joseph writes at The Conversation, “Academic freedom and the suspension of Roz Ward“:

Academics (and others) must be able to post such opinions without fear of retribution from their employers. Certainly, some find criticism of the Australian flag offensive, but as a society we must surely be able to tolerate such opinions. Ward is referencing debates that are far from closed. In contrast, La Trobe’s reason a) seems to punish Ward for expressing an unpopular opinion.

Second, the reasons apparently given to Ward link her suspension to the fact that she posted the offending comments in the midst of ongoing controversy over Safe Schools. The implication is that Ward should be “extra careful” with what she says due to that controversy.

Rebecca Shaw writes at SBS, “Gay bars and safe spaces: Why Orlando has impacted me so much“:

It is easy for people to forget, because of how far we have come, that it still takes something to live openly and proudly as an LGBTQI person. Yes, many of us are extremely privileged, especially those amongst who are cis and white and who live in a country like Australia. And yet, it still isn’t easy. If you aren’t part of the community, it is easy for you to forget. It is easy for you to walk down the street, safe in the knowledge that you love queer people, and ignore that there are still many who don’t. To know and to sense, like we do, that there is still blatant hatred towards us. And to fear that if it isn’t blatant, that it’s just hiding there under the surface, waiting. It takes something to keep living as yourself when you see this seething and spiteful underbelly of this every time someone talks about Safe Schools or marriage equality, or draws a pathetically homophobic cartoon in the national newspaper.

Charlie Maycraft guest posted at Gladly, the Cross-Eyed Bear, “Orlando Vigil – Charlie’s Speech“:

This shooting was an attack on our human rights. There are people in this world who not only condemn us, they literally want us dead. I’ve seen news anchors and journalists all over the world trying to co opt this event as a non specific and random act of violence, rather than a blatantly homophobic and transphobic hate crime.

Paula Gerber wrote at The Conversation, “Orlando shooting is the latest chapter in the global fight for LGBT rights“:

For every advance in LGBT rights that is made in one part of the world, there are extreme regressions elsewhere.

Perhaps this is evidence of Newton’s third law that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Although when it comes to LGBT rights, the reaction is more excessive than equal.

Aaminah Khan (also known as Jay the Nerdkid) writes at Alternet, “Stop Asking Me to Denounce Islam to Prove I Care About LGBT Rights“:

After events like the recent tragic shooting in Orlando, Florida, this problem becomes more pronounced. In the hours immediately following the Pulse shooting, I received a great deal of opportunistic hate mail, as I imagine many visibly queer and trans people did. However, most of the hate messages I received online were not about my sexuality or gender, but about my religion. Many came from fellow LGBT people, who asked me how I justified homophobic laws in Muslim countries (I don’t) and demanded that I “disavow” Islam as proof that I really did care about LGBT rights (I won’t, but I do). These attacks left me no space to mourn or deal with the pain of such a blow to the LGBT community, of which I consider myself a part.

Chrys Stevenson wrote at Gladly, the Cross-Eyed Bear, “Orlando: I blame you, Lyle“:

Florida is a long way from Canberra, Lyle. And you are a Christian, not a Muslim. You were nowhere near the Pulse nightclub when Omar Mateen took out an assault rifle and a pistol and began firing indiscriminately into a club packed with the kind of people your Australian Christian Lobby spends so much money to vilify.

And yet, Lyle, I blame you for the horror which occurred in that nightclub. Because it is you, and people like you, who actively fuel the homophobic culture which helps unhinged people like Mateen justify their actions as ‘right’ and ‘holy’.

Miscellaneous

Valerie Aurora, Mary Gardiner and Leigh Honeywell co-wrote a post at hypatia dot net, “No more rock stars: how to stop abuse in tech communities“:

You can take concrete actions to stop rock stars from abusing and destroying your community. But first, here are a few signs that help you identify when you have a rock star instead of a plumber:

A rock star likes to be the center of attention. A rock star spends more time speaking at conferences than on their nominal work. A rock star appears in dozens of magazine profiles – and never, ever tells the journalist to talk to the people actually doing the practical everyday work. A rock star provokes a powerful organization over minor issues until they crack down on the rock star, giving them underdog status. A rock star never says, “I don’t deserve the credit for that, it was all the work of…” A rock star humble-brags about the starry-eyed groupies who want to fuck them. A rock star actually fucks their groupies, and brags about that too. A rock star throws temper tantrums until they get what they want. A rock star demands perfect loyalty from everyone around them, but will throw any “friend” under the bus for the slightest personal advantage. A rock star knows when to turn on the charm and vulnerability and share their deeply personal stories of trauma… and when it’s safe to threaten and intimidate. A rock star wrecks hotel rooms, social movements, and lives.

Claire Wright wrote at The Conversation, “Emancipated wenches in gaudy jewellery: the liberating bling of the goldfields“:

Lola Montez was born in Limerick, Ireland in 1818, and christened Maria Eliza Delores Rosanna Gilbert. She changed her name to Lola when, at 18, she fled an arranged betrothal to a reviled old man. The woman who had dined (and slept) with the kings of Europe, plotted against the Jesuit-controlled monarchy in Bavaria, given advice on matters of state to Czar Nicholas and Ludwig I, performed in the opera houses of Europe, married at least three times and travelled the globe with her infamous Spider Dance, died alone in a New York boarding house of syphilis, aged 42. Her gravestone simply reads “Mrs Eliza Gilbert”.

By the end of her short and explosive life, Lola might have suggested a better epitaph:

A woman of beauty and intelligence needs the quills of a porcupine as self-defence – or else risk ruin.

Deborah Russell wrote at Left Side Story, “What I think about a Universal Basic Income“:

A friend asked me what I thought about a Universal Basic Income. Here are some notes I put together a couple of months ago, when UBIs were the topic of the day here in New Zealand. TL:DR – I’m a supporter in principle, ‘though at this stage, a UBI may not be viable on fiscal grounds.

Violence and sexual assault – all articles in this section carry trigger warnings

Writing in Water writes, “We Are Not Really Decent People: How We Pretend to Hate Rape

Erin Riley wrote, “Eddie McGuire, Caroline Wilson and violence against women: the AFL must act.“:

The first notable thing about this is, of course, that is is absolutely awful. These are some of the most high-profile men in football joking about hurting one of football’s most prominent women. So much of our discussions about violence against women acknowledge the importance of language and of attitudes in shaping the way men think about women. As the current government campaign says, “violence against women doesn’t just start.” While McGuire and co were undoubtedly joking, the underlying attitude is dangerous: it [reinforces] the attitudes of those who are willing to take their hatred of women beyond a “bit of banter”.

Rebecca Shaw wrote at SBS, “A breakdown of victim blaming using pie charts“:

But actually, who is at fault when assaults like this occur? I think it’s time someone looked into it further, and broke it down for society. And that person is me. I will use pie graphs because i love pie. Let’s hope we can clear this all up.

Related Posts:

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’

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Cancer Update #8 Radiotherapy Mapping/Planning

So this radiotherapy thing is becoming realer, and I’m getting more anxious about it.  It’s very easy to be flippant about these things when they’re off in an undefined time period in the future, but the moment it becomes real, the flippancy disappears and the anxiety settles in.

I’m more anxious about this than I think I was about the surgery.  I’ve had surgery before, I know what to expect (more or less).  I haven’t had radiotherapy.  Now that I know my radiotherapy date starting I will contact the people I know who have had breast cancer and talk to them about what to expect.  I don’t know how alarmist the radiotherapy doctor is being about being a fat woman having radiotherapy versus a thin woman (apparently I have a greater risk of skin cracking due to the burns I will get), or whether that is because I have larger breasts and I’d have that risk regardless of my weight.

Both the doctors who saw me today, the radiology doctor in training and the consultant weren’t particularly personable.  Their hands were FREEZING and I got quite cold as they poked and prodded my breasts before drawing on them in texta. I didn’t appreciate their talking about me as if I wasn’t really there, but I didn’t mind being part of a doctor’s specialisation education.

The nurses/radiotherapists on the other hand were absolutely delightful.  Their hands were warm, they were reassuring, they talked to me about what they were doing and how long things were going to take.  They apologised when they were about to touch me with something that was cold (mostly the ruler they were using) and ensured that I could get up and go to the toilet when I couldn’t wait any longer during the appointment.

So radiotherapy starts on the 22nd of September. A bit under 2 weeks away.  I will be going to the hospital 5 days a week (business days) for 4 weeks (barring sickness).  I may get very fatigued, I may burns that resemble severe sunburn, I may have none of those things and just have the inconvenience of my days interrupted with a hospital appointment.

I am a bit over the unknowns.  My life generally has a lot more certainty in it, and I prefer it that way.  But soon things will be back to normal (more or less).  I’ll start on the tamoxifen, work through the side-effects, and just be myself.

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A radical suggestion

At yoga last week, as we were being told how to stand in mountain pose, to stand strong and let our legs and feet connect us to the ground, to not try and hold ourselves apart from the floor using our shoulders, my yoga instructor said, “take up all the room you need”.

Take Up All The Room You Need.

Far too often women, especially fat women, are made to feel very conscious of the amount of space that they take up.  Let me quote from people who say it much better than me:

I got to thinking about just how conscious I am of the space my body takes up, and how I have to negotiate my body in a world that marks me as “abnormal”.  The more I paid attention to it, the more I noticed that almost every aspect of my life is framed around this process of moving my body around in the world. (Fatheffalump)

 

One thing that fat people often tell me makes them uncomfortable is the idea that they take up too much space.  Here’s what I think about that.  I think that our bodies take up just the right amount of space, whatever size they are.  If they get bigger or smaller they still take up just the right amount of space.  Because they are our BODIES.

It is ridiculous for people to think that they, and anyone smaller than them, take up “the right” amount of space, but those bigger than them take up too much. Spare me.

Nobody takes up too much space just by virtue of existing.  Tall people don’t take up too much space.  People in wheelchairs don’t take up too much space.  Fat people don’t take up too much space.  If you are on a crowded train and you sit with your legs completely splayed out sprawling across as much space as you can, then an argument can be made that you are taking up too much space, but it is impossible that your body takes up too much space just being your body. (Dances with Fat)

 

Fat phobia is a largely invisible form of oppression in our society. Frequently masked as concern for health (and the link between fat and health is widely exaggerated), it is nonetheless a highly damaging form of body policing, usually targeting women. In an extension of institutional sexism, women who dare to take up space are punished and ostracized, whether it be their conversational space, their body language, or the literal volume their bodies occupy.  (Fire Sea Studios)

I never considered my yoga instructor to be overly radical, but by telling each of us in that class to take up the space we needed, she showed that she understood the pressure to take up less space, the need for everyone in the class, and everywhere else, to take up the space that they need, and to be comfortable with that.

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Let’s talk about shame

I would argue that there are two kinds of shame, the shame of realising that you’ve completely fucked up and done the wrong thing and the shame used to silence people by either making them believe that they are wrong, that something they did was against societal standards, or that they failed to live up to some imaginary standard.

I don’t want to talk about the first type other than to say being ashamed of doing the wrong thing is a powerful lesson, provided you admit it, apologise and work at not doing it again.

The second type is the one I want to talk about.  The second type of shame, the silencing one, the one that can stop you seeking help you need, finding support mechanisms, that makes you feel less because of some attribute (real or imaginary) that you do or do not possess, or stops you leaving the house.

The second type can be imposed by other people or just through societal conditioning.  As an example fat people are regularly shamed by just about everyone by virtue of being fat.  Just existing as a fat person apparently is something to be ashamed of, and something that many people will point out to your face.  Also less subtly and direct, is all the media and government “concern” about obesity and what needs to be done about it.  Being fat is apparently shameful, and in worse case scenarios, fat people won’t seek medical help for life threatening conditions because they don’t want to be shamed further, or they attribute their health status to being fat versus whatever it might actually be.  The fact that fat people are also shamed by their medical professionals adds to an incredibly unfair burden.  Kath at Fat Heffalump writes a lot about why being fat is nothing to be ashamed of.

Being a woman is something that we’re often shamed for, whether it be because we haven’t removed enough hair, we’re not wearing the right amount of makeup, we’re wearing not wearing enough, we’re wearing too much, we’re drinking, we’re not drinking, we’re too old, too young, menstruating, eating, not eating, “being emotional”, nagging, having sex, not having sex, or any other of a number of attributes that some imaginary perfect woman would not have.

I looked at the list of things I was supposed to feel ashamed about one day, while standing naked in front of a mirror, and I decided that they could, for the most part, go and fuck themselves in a fire.  Why should I stand cowered by the world because I didn’t measure up to some arbitrary standard that next to no one else measured up to either.  Just think, if there were people who measured up to this standard women’s gossip magazines (which pretty much sell shame) would be out of business.  I decided at this point that I was going to do my best to live shamelessly, to ignore other people’s attempts to shame me for being myself, and love who I was.

I’ve always found it interesting that “shameless woman” is an insult, but there is no male equivalent.  Not that men aren’t shamed either – it’s just a different set of criteria (having feels about things, not acting in an appropriately masculine manner, being perceived as weak, etc).  The phrase “shameless woman” does come from the bible though, so thanks Christianity for making life suck.

One of the things I learnt growing up was that I had to do it on my own, that I should be able to manage by myself, and that appearing as if I couldn’t cope was a weakness.  Let’s just say that was one of the worst lessons to learn.  It took me close to breaking point before I realised that I was trying to do it on my own in silence because I was ashamed to ask for help.  The bad lessons I’d learnt included the silencing of shame – because asking for help would be an admission that I wasn’t able to cope and do this on my own any more.  The relief of laying aside the shame and finding out that help was available was an amazing thing.

It’s terrible that as a society that we both unconsciously perpetuate shame by not speaking up against it, and that we let shame impact on us.  Being you should be nothing to be ashamed of.  None of us are perfect, none of us are perpetually strong, none of us have a perfect body, our emotional responses are valid, our choices to participate or not in the beauty standard are our own, our ability to cope or not cope as the situation arises is ok, your health situation is nothing to be ashamed of, your money or lack of it is nothing to be ashamed of.

Please do not let shame rule your life.  Go out there, be a proud shameless person, and speak your mind.

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We’re all the biggest loser

*Trigger warning for bullying, fat hatred and eating disorders*

So that terrible, terrible show “The Biggest Loser” is back on TV, which means that I will be avoiding whatever channel it’s on (I don’t watch TV enough to even know that), and I won’t be watching that TV screen when I’m at the gym.  Because regardless of how some people might see the torture of fat people “inspiring” as they learn to love/hate their bodies for TV, I just find the entire thing repulsive.

This season, according to the TV ads I’ve seen, we’re doing parent and child teaming, because with stats just pulled out of someone’s arse (because they’re not cited anywhere in the ad), if you are an obese parent, you’re far more likely to have obese children.  The dad whose interview appears on the ads I’ve watched talks about how his son comes home from school crying because he’s beingbullied about his weight and that this (Biggest Loser) is an opportunity for him to gain some confidence.

Just no.

Really, no.

The Biggest Loser, apart from being a show that even in the ad we see almost kills the father, is not a show that will help anyone gain confidence.  In the small amounts I have watched over the years, I cannot see how being screamed at by personal trainers, being forced to binge on food to the point of tears, being hounded about not doing enough, and having your body gazed upon and judged by the entire country is going to do anything for your confidence.

If that boy was my son, I would be talking to the school about the bullying he’s receiving, I’d talk to the parents of the children who are bullying my son and explaining the effects of bullying, I’d go to the Department of Education and demand more action if not enough was taken, I’d ensure that my son had proper counselling or psychological care to help build resilience, confidence and develop tools to build support networks.  I’m not saying that this family hasn’t done any of this, what I’m saying is that in my toolbox in dealing with this issue The Biggest Loser does not, and would never, appear.

I feel sorry for those who compete to enter The Biggest Loser.  I feel for all the fat hatred they’ve swallowed and believe that they only way that they’ll truly be happy is to lose weight while almost killing themselves for the pleasure of doing so.

Don’t let me be the only one telling you that The Biggest Loser is possibly the worst torture porn you will ever watch, let Kai Hibbard, a contestant in the US version tell it to you instead.  Parts 1, 2, & 3 of her interviews with Golda Poresky detail her experiences on the show, having to ignore doctor’s orders, developing an eating disorder and the bullying from the TV producers.

Do Australia a favour and do not watch The Biggest Loser.  Leave it alone, shun it as it should be shunned, and instead work on removing fat hatred from your own vocabulary and if you can, pointing it out to others as something that is unacceptable.

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This is my body

This is my body
This is my skin
These are my curves,
My corners, my moves

I do not need you to tell me I am fat
It is impossible for me to ignore
I know from the way you look at me
I know from the way you look away

I do not need you to tell me I am fat
I know whenever I try to buy clothes
Try to find clothes that make me look good
Try to find clothes that are comfortable

I do not need you to tell me I am fat
I know because I do not fit in your space
I know because I always see what I am supposed to be
Far too many attempts are made to shame me for being who I am

I do not need you to tell me I am fat
I know
You think my size is down to choice
or weakness
You judge my body and me for it’s outward appearance

I do not need you to tell me I am fat
My body belongs to me and only I know it
I know how to move in it
I know how to make it feel good
I know how strong I am

I do not need you to tell me I am fat
I am far more than a number on a scale
I am far more than the size of my clothing
I am far more than the judgement you make based on how I look

In the end
When you judge me
For things I can or cannot control
When you judge me
Based on your fears of your own body
When you judge me
For failing to meet some imaginary standard of beauty
You lose

You lose a friend
You lose a lover
You lose a mentor
You lose someone who could make a difference

This is my body
This is my skin
These are my curves,
My corners, my moves

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