Seriously. In most of the fantasy works I’ve consumed, orcs are violent, mindless or less intelligent than human beings, brutal and thuggish and Always Chaotic Evil. But these are adjectives, not nouns. All mythological creatures have a real-world root. Dryads are trees + humans + magic. Mermaids are fish + humans + magic, or maybe porpoises + magic. Unicorns are deer or horses + magic, maybe with a bit of narwhal glued on. Dragons are reptiles + magic, or maybe dinosaur bones + magic – paleontology. So again: what are orcs supposed to be?
Bottom line: in nearly every iteration of orcs that occurs in fantasy, orcs are meant to be a warped mirror of humanity. They’ve got all the stuff that’s in humans — emotions, a degree of intellect, sometimes free will — but it’s all wrong. They’re corrupted by evil magic or environmental degradation or their own hubris. In some iterations orcs are sexually perverse, so we’ve got bad genetics to consider too. They are human bodies + bad magic – the essence of humanity, for whatever value that essence might hold: a soul, a mind, aestheticism, whatever. And therefore, in most fantasy settings in which I’ve seen orcs appear, they are fit only for one thing: to be mowed down, usually on sight and sans negotiation, by Our Heroes. Orcs are human beings who can be slaughtered without conscience or apology.
Think about that. Creatures that look like people, but aren’t really. Kinda-sorta-people, who aren’t worthy of even the most basic moral considerations, like the right to exist. Only way to deal with them is to control them utterly a la slavery, or wipe them all out.
Kolchin, now 86, has long since traded the punched-card machines for an iPod — now one of her favorite gadgets — but she’s still programming, a full 66 years after getting her start. Kolchin runs the website for the Boca West Special Interest Club she belongs to and sends members their weekly e-newsletters. (“I was doing Web pages before anyone else was doing Web pages,” she says with a touch of pride, noting software from Webs.com makes it “as easy as pie.”)
Lidiya Vladimirovna Litvyak was the young fighter pilot with the bouquet of wildflowers in her cockpit who shot down a dozen of the Luftwaffe’s best pilots to become the highest scoring woman air ace of all time…
Lidiya – known as Lilya – helped symbolise a generation of young women, barely old enough not to be called schoolgirls, who answered the call in 1941 to fight the Germans, and who became heroines in the armed forces of the Soviet Union, the only nation to regularly use women in combat roles in World War II.
Though she would never have imagined it, she can also be seen to symbolise the spirit of the 21st Century military women who heroically fight and die on the world’s battlefronts.
I see biphobia as a particular aspect of monosexism, they are definitely not interchangeable. Monosexism, as I see it, refers to the structural privileging of monosexual identities and behaviours. So, monosexism refers, for example, to the belief that one can only be either straight or gay, that it is better to be monosexual than bisexual*, that only monosexual identities are “real”, that monosexual issues are the only ones deserving of attention, etc. Monosexism causes bisexual erasure (from media, literature, art, TV and film, etc.), it causes discrimination when it comes to activist priorities, budgeting, etc. It causes the social isolation that leads many bis* to have poor health and mental health, and prevents proper treatment and support that might help alleviate them. It keeps bi* people “low” on the “pecking order” and creates all sorts of oppression. I see monosexism as the main factor responsible for all the horrible statistics in the Bisexual Invisibility report, for example. So, basically, monosexism is the system, the base structure. It is everything which isn’t directly aimed at bi* people but nonetheless has the effect of eradicating our existence or legitimacy.
Here’s what I want to tell you, dear male allies. It is such a relief. Listening to other peoples’ voices? Is incredibly moving, and humbling, and endlessly interesting. Shutting the hell up while I do it? God, how I love the sound of not-my-own-voice. Going into battle against racists and so forth? So much easier, now that I have a faint clue what’s actually going on.
Yes – silly isn’t it. I feel rather foolish making this awful public confession that I’ve sort of lost my Aunty, but it’s a fact – if a fact can be ‘sort of’. Anyway, I do my share of complaining about the lack of any sort of facts in much of today’s media, so ‘fess up I must. It’s embarrassing. Aunty Ambidextra Balancedia Clarificia (ABC for short) has been in our family for – well, since she was born really, in 1932 – making her only 7 years 5 months older than her niece. It happens in families.
Mind you, she’s not just my Aunty and she’s not really my Aunty at all – as in a blood relation or anything. My Mum and Dad just happened to take her in as a tiny baby and reared her as my Aunt. This also happens in families. Goodness knows where her parents were – she seemed to be surrounded by fusty, old, white, politically-absorbed males at the time – but that’s for later.
Although often referred to as the woman who disguised herself as a man to practice gynaecology and midwifery, Jakoba (or Jacqueline) Felicie was most likely a general practitioner and never pretended to be a man.
In November 1322 she and another five medical practitioners (two men, three women) were excommunicated and fined sixty Parisian livres. The trial records are exceptionally detailed and show that she has never been accused of causing harm to her patients. Eight witnesses testified that she had cured them after university-trained (male) physicians have given up. And that is where she had touched a sore spot, it seems. Jakoba’s trial is not the simple story about suppression of female practitioners, but rather demonstrates the increasing power and influence of the Faculty of Medicine in Paris.
This is where it becomes obvious that Hall does not understand the difference between sex and gender. The terms “women” and “men” are terms for gender; “female” and “male” are terms to refer to sex. She confusingly uses sex traits to describe gender differences. We certainly assign meanings to these different biological traits, but what Hall is explaining above turns out to be an excellent example of how sexed bodies come already wrapped up in our understandings of gender. Hall’s understandings of what it means to be “man” and “woman” (gender) affect how she categorizes bodies (sex).
Let me deconstruct this a bit further: having breasts, menstruating, getting pregnant, lactating, and having two X chromosomes are not inherently “womanly” things. Those are things that are more common to female-bodied individuals, but a person who identifies as a woman may go through her life not having or doing any of those things. Because “woman” is a cultural category, not a biological category.
According to the report, 77 percent of those who travel to work by bike are male. Men also accounted for 57 percent of those who drove to work. In contrast, women were overrepresented as car passengers, walkers and users of public transport.
The report says:
‘Some commentators in Australia and the United States have argued that the flexibility of the car makes it an ideal travel mode for women, whose travel patterns are often more diverse, in space and time, than men’s. By contrast, public transport, especially the fixed-rail variety, is said to be inflexible and thus unsuited to women’s needs.’
But you, you are not an asshole. I know this because you have told me so. And because you are not an asshole, I feel like I can say these things to you, in the hopes that you will think about them the next time you hang out with a friend who might be fat — or even the next time you interact with a fat person that you don’t know.
You don’t want to be like that friend of mine who went on and on, drunkenly, about how gross it probably would be to have sex with President Taft without realizing that I weigh more than he did when he was President. Right? Right.
Do evangelicals actually believe that there is an association between homosexuality and paedophilia? If my intro didn’t clue you in already, the answer is yes, yes they do. Why? Let’s see if I can shed some light on that.
I’ll start, of course, with my “tale of two boxes.” While progressive sexual ethics generally hinge on whether or not something is consensual, conservative sexual ethics more frequently hinge on whether or not the Bible condemns an act. In other words, progressives would never treat rape and premarital sex as somehow comparable, but conservatives would, because both are forbidden by God. Thus while progressives would not compare consensual gay sex with child molestation, conservatives would, because they would see both as abominations in the sight of God. Sin is sin, and evangelicals generally don’t distinguish between sexual sins that are consensual and those that are not.
This happened a couple months ago, on a flamewar that went down in response to a panel discussion of the role of lesbian transwomen in the San Francisco Dyke March. The panel itself went really well, but self-proclaimed ‘radical feminists’ descended on the facebook page for the march, and proceeded to vomit hatred like they’d washed down the enterovirus sandwich they had for lunch with a bottle of ipecac.
The basic gist of their argument, a gist I’d like to unpack, dismantle, put back in the box and sell without a crucial lynchpin to some unsuspecting craigslist schmuck, is as follows:
1. Gender is not something that proceeds naturally from one’s sex.
2. Feminine genders are forced upon female-bodied children from a very young age, for the purpose of oppressing them.
3. All gender is performance.
4. Transwomen are performing feminine genders.
5. HEY THAT’S OUR GENDER GIVE IT BACK RIGHT THE FUCK NOW!
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.
So January 2013 has passed us by and we’re already into the second month of 2013 – where does all the time go? This post is a collection of some of the very cool things I read in January (well before this post was finished).
Aborigines face the unending task of resisting attempts, on the one hand to cut them off from their heritage, and on the other to bury them within it as a thing of the past. This statement is indicative of the struggles that Indigenous Australians face in the constructions of their own Aboriginality.
. . . in two famous columns in 2009 he took a swipe at “political” or “professional” or “official” Aborigines who could pass for white but chose to identify as black for personal or political gain, to win prizes and places reserved for real, black Aborigines and to borrow “other people’s glories”.
More recently, Tony Abbott reignited a similar argument when he foolishly described Western Australian Liberal MP Ken Wyatt as “not a man of culture”. Ken Wyatt is an Indigenous Australian.
I would have hoped that both incidences found their way into the dustbins of history, but they haven’t. Bolt’s comments, in particular, have entrenched themselves into our vernacular. Never before have I had the displeasure of hearing so many degrading comments aimed at our Aboriginal brothers and sisters as I have since the Bolt case. “He’s too white to be an Aborigine”, “She’s white but calls herself an Aborigine”, or the ultimate insult “He’s only a half-caste” are common speak.
What I think it is interesting is that Sharwood is very clear that this is not about the so-called “male gaze.” He is not offended because he views these breastfeeding breasts as sexual objects. In fact, as he proudly states several times in the opening paragraphs to his ‘article,’ he loves ogling at sexualised breasts. They are great. (Phwoar yeah, bring it on baby.) No, it would appear that the issue is precisely the opposite; these breastfeeding breasts that are apparently being thrust in his face (or, as he charmingly describes, flopped on to the dinner table) are not available to the male gaze. They are private breasts and shouldn’t be out in public.
It was here for me that this whole debate took on a disturbing level of clarity. You see, according to Sharwood (and his ilk), mothering is an ‘intimate’ and ‘private’ activity that should not be taking place in the public sphere. If somehow it does stray into that public sphere then it really ought to be careful not to become “a public spectacle.” This means that if for some reason a mother of young children does have to leave the house (which, by implication, is a transgresssive act in itself), then she should take every measure to ensure that her ‘private, intimate’ work of mothering young children does not take up public space, because it does not belong.
In response to claims that men are unable to restrain themselves from committing rape if they see women in skimpy clothing, members of law enforcement agencies around the country have called for men to blindfold themselves when they are in places where they might encounter a female wearing a tank top or a short skirt.
“For years, we have been told that men don’t understand how to respond to the sight of a woman wearing, say, gym clothes – that as far as they are concerned, if they can see the outline of her body, then that’s an invitation to sex that they are simply unable to refuse,” said one police chief. “If that’s true, then we have no choice. We want women to be safe, and there is apparently no way for some men to reasonably restrain their own behavior once they catch a glimpse of cleavage, so all men will have to cover their eyes while working out, going to bars or clubs, or relaxing at the beach.”
For the first time, a man and a transgender woman were married under a huppa in Israel this week. The couple, a blonde-bombshell and her husband, whose identity was not revealed, walked down the aisle to the cheers and tears of their friends and family, and with a Channel 2 television crew in tow.
But the man under the huppa, her husband, was different; married with three children prior to their relationship, he came through for her, she said.
Anyway, one of the things I’ve always loved about this series was that it was kind of equal-opportunity sexy. I don’t object to a sexual element in art or fiction or entertainment, if you haven’t guessed that from my writing. What I object to is the way that sexual element is usually women’s (often unrealistic) bodies or parts thereof, or women’s suffering, and that these pieces of women are so often present solely as men’s wank-material. I welcome sexy women when they’re presented as whole people in their own right who are uninterested in (or defiant of) the men gazing at them, or when they’re appealing to the female gaze instead of the male. There have been some scantily-clad women along the way in the DMCs, but that kind of worked because a) in a lot of cases those women acknowledged the oversexualization of their appearance in a tongue-in-cheek way, and b) the hero was often almost as scantily clad. And besides the fact that the DMC women had motivations and interesting stories of their own, there was a lot more sexual tension between the hero and his evil twin brother than there was with any of the ladies. (Yeah, I know, but it’s true.) And female gamers noticed.* I have no idea of the demographics of this series’s audience, but anecdotally I know a lot of ladies who love them some DMC. When a game like this is done right, nearly everyone gets to have fun.
But recently I decided to try engaging with the game’s very thin plot, despite its tiresome “chosen one” trope and the utter lack of relevant stakes for my character. I’ve been playing as a Redguard — that’s the black people, though they have straight hair** and pretty much the same morphological features as the other races — a foreigner in a land caught up in a civil war. All the NPCs are obsessed with the war and its two factions, but my character has no background, no family, no reason for even being in Skyrim other than plot convenience, so I haven’t bothered to side with either faction and for the most part don’t care what they do as long as they don’t get in my way. It doesn’t help that one side consists of paternalistic colonizers who’ve happily wiped out the indigenous culture and are trying to suppress the (subsequent) local religion, while the other side are ethnic supremacists. Also it turns out that my character is the embodiment of an ancient Nord legend — Nords being one of several flavors of white people in the game, this one clearly meant to reference ancient Scandinavian peoples — which, since my character’s not a Nord, apparently means she’s got “the heart of a Nord”. Yay, my black person gets to be an honorary white person. I’m all aflutter.
And here’s why equality is important: those meetings are essential stepping stones in career advancement. In my very first year as a grad student, I was trained and groomed to present my work at local meetings. Heck, when I was an undergraduate and had made it clear that I planned to pursue a research career, my professors took me to regional meetings. We all knew that this was how preliminary work was disseminated, that this was how you made connections with peers and leaders in the field, that this was how you linked your face and name in the community as a whole with a body of work.
And that’s absolutely why we have to do a better job of opening doors for everyone at these events. It’s the faces in the audience at the convention that will someday be leading the movement. It’s those faces that will go home afterwards and share the stories and get more people interested. And if we don’t make opportunities for participation by everyone, we will be limiting our growth.
Because Christ almighty it must be frightening to be homophobic. I have my own issues with anxiety, so I can sympathise with the persistent and inexplicable sense of impending doom that must plague these people. But even with this insight, I can’t begin to imagine what it must be like to hold a worldview in which the gays are forever lurking in a corner, waiting for the opportunity to explode our traditional way of life in a cloud of glitter and amyl before snaffling away our kids like the Pied Piper and marching them over some kind of horrible gay cliff. Being dogged by such thoughts must be utterly exhausting.
If I truly believed in a world so fragile and a force so malignant – a force that is, crucially, becoming less stigmatised, gaining more support, approaching some kind of ‘normalisation’ – then I doubt very much that I’d have the fortitude to get out of bed in the morning, save for the driving force to paint my beliefs on a sandwich board, hit the main-street every day and grab people by the shoulders shouting ‘Don’t you see?! Why am I the only one who sees!?’.
When I go to the bookstore, half-naked women greet me in literally every section except for cozy mysteries. There are elegant half-naked women on action novels, waiting to be ravaged. There are misty, wistful half-naked women on YA novels, ready to embark on romantic adventures, probably while drowning. There are lots of half-naked women on science fiction and fantasy, many of them happy to show me their posteriors. And this doesn’t even touch on the comic book store, where there are so many half-naked women that I barely even notice them anymore. Once I stopped expecting puberty to give me a figure like Dazzler or Illyana Rasputin, I just tuned all the thrusting hips and pointy boobs out, like the white noise that they were.
I don’t actually know very many women who go “Oh, oh, I gotta get me a book with a naked chick on the cover.” I do know a lot of women who are uncomfortable with those naked chicks, and who try to avoid reading books with naked chicks on them in public. I had a few people get angry on my behalf when the cover of Discount Armageddon was released, before they realized that I had petitioned for that image, and that it was an intentional send-up of certain cheesecake conventions. And without speaking for any other authors, I am the only one I know of who actually said to her publisher, “Hey, you know what would be awesome? If my smart, strong, savvy, heavily-armed protagonist was in a miniskirt.” (DAW took this in stride, by the way, which was hysterical when you consider that my one cover request for the Toby books was “Can she be wearing clothes?”)
So it seems likely that the intended audience for the half-naked women is largely male. Okay. As a bisexual woman, I like looking at pretty girls, and I don’t see anything wrong with men liking to look at pretty girls. When I sit on the train, I should see dozens of men reading books with half-naked women on them, right? Because they’re trained to the male gaze, so they should attract it, right?
The single most common critique I received of the cover for Discount Armageddon was from male readers saying they could not read the physical book in public. And while I think anyone should be able to read anything they want to without feeling ashamed, this critique does raise a question about who the half-naked women are actually for, if guys don’t want to be associated with them.
Oboza’s story does not stand alone. Research suggests that bisexual men are much more likely to experience depression and anxiety than their gay and straight counterparts. According to Eric Schrimshaw of Columbia University, this suffering comes from a high level of concealment and a lack of disclosure. The Columbia study showed that almost 38 percent of the bisexual participants said that they never told anyone about their sexual identity and 80 percent said they keep their sexual relationships with men to themselves.
Although this concealment may shield bisexual men from the types of discrimination and rejection often experienced by open gays, it can also leave many men without a language or a community with whom they can discuss their feelings, Schrimshaw suggested.
Australia’s anti-discrimination laws exist so that you, I and everyone else can have a fair crack at getting a job for which we’re qualified. They generally state that certain things cannot provide the basis for whether an employer offers you a job or not. Things like gender, beliefs, race, marital status or disability. For example, if you’re a single, gay Lithuanian Muslim with an amputated arm and you apply for a job as an accountant, your potential employer is legally obliged to give you the same consideration for the job as they do for a divorced, straight, Scottish atheist with a third nipple.
Except if the employer is a religious organisation. Then the government thinks it’s special.
The idea that bisexuals are attracted to only two genders is an incredibly common stereotype of all bisexuals. Many people assume that the “bi” aspect of the word “bisexuality” implies a gender binary, and that those who identify as bisexual are only attracted to males and females. Though there are definitely bisexual individuals who are only attracted to cisgender people with male and female gender identities, there are also bisexuals who are attracted to people who are transgender, intersex, genderqueer and more; this assumed definition of “bisexual” leaves out those of us who are attracted to gender-nonconforming people — those who fall outside the “male” and “female” ends of an incredibly wide gender spectrum. Last summer I actually wrote a blog post about this issue in which I explained that, according to the definition of bisexuality put forth in the 1990 “Bisexual Manifesto,” bisexuality does not “assume that there are only two genders.” On the contrary, the binary implied in the word “bisexual” pertains to our ability to be attracted both to individuals who are the “same” as us and to those are “different” from us — meaning we have the capacity to be attracted to people all across the gender and sexuality spectra.
It’s also worth pointing out that no one has the right to go through life behaving like an unthinking dipshit without being called on their unthinking dipshititude. More than that, it’s possible to be offended by something and object to it without claiming that your rights have been infringed. The overwhelming majority of people do so.
While we’re here, the phrase ‘taking offence’ is more than a little misleading because it suggests that offence is something you chose to take, like it’s the last Tim Tam or a mistress. Setting aside the kind of people who lay in wait, complaint-scribbling pens at the ready, being offended is something you very rarely have an agency in, it’s something that happens to you.
And that’s why when people complain that these flare-ups are indicate an odious culture of over-sensitivity, it’s more than a little galling and not really their call to make.
It’s worth noting that these protestations of persecution almost always come from people in a position of power – whether cultural or economic, which means that the people who are most likely to tell someone to take an offensive joke in the spirit intended are statistically the sorts of people least likely to find themselves on the receiving-end of such a barb.
‘It’s just a joke’ does absolutely nothing to absolve you of responsibility. It’s a cowardly response to the accusation that you’ve behaved in a cruel or unthinking way. No one likes being called either of those things, and for some reason people have it in their heads that a joke can’t be cruel or unthinking – far better to be called ‘edgy’ or ‘totally un-pc’.
The idea that this sort of hatespeech is at all normal needs to end now. The internet is public space, real space; it’s increasingly where we interact socially, do our work, organise our lives and engage with politics, and violence online is real violence. The hatred of women in public spaces online is reaching epidemic levels and it’s time to end the pretence that it’s either acceptable or inevitable.
The most common reaction, the one those of us who experience this type of abuse get most frequently, is: suck it up. Grow a thick skin. “Don’t feed the trolls” – as if feeding them were the problem. The Telegraph’s Cristina Odone was amongst many commentators to imply that Mary Beard should have done just that rather than speaking out this week. “Come on, Mary,” wrote Odone. “Women in public arenas get a lot of flak – they always have. A woman who sticks her head above the parapet. . . . is asking for brickbats.”
Asking for it. By daring to be a woman to be in public life, Mary Beard was asking to be abused and harassed and frightened, and so is any person who dares to express herself whilst in possession of a pair of tits.
Happy New Y ear everyone! I hope that 2013 is awesome for you all, that you find happiness, peace, contentment, joy, and all other sorts of positive things this year.
Now here is a collection of posts and other interesting things I’ve found over the last month that I thought I’d share with you.
First up is a Part 1 of a short film “The Silent City” about the end of… we’ll we’re not quite sure. At time of writing there are 5 parts completed, and clearly intent for a 6th and perhaps more. The film makers have used the abandoned spaces of New York (I think) very well, and one of my favourite things about the movie is that it uses a non-white actor as the protagonist. Enjoy
In the rest of this answer, though, I’ll show how the accusation of ‘unnatural’ is only used to protect the power structure as-is: people accept all sorts of things that were once considered unnatural if those things prove to help white heterosexual cis men. Specifically, they accept medical technology, beautifications and body modifications usually used by women (so long as they jibe with the male gaze), and (since it’s become economically beneficial for white supremacist capitalist patriarchy, at least to some extent) women working outside the home and in professional jobs. [emphasis in original]
Any mention of Willow Smith seems to eventually devolve into a discussion of what is “acceptable” black parenting. There’s a myth (heavily fed by the media) that the Smiths are doing something incredibly new and unusual, particularly for black parents. Conversations about their parenting never really touch on the fact that their children are already millionaires in their own right with an even larger inheritance ahead. Willow Smith can shave her head one week and wear an ankle-length wig the next because she’s in an environment where it’s safe for her to explore everything that interests her. There is no need for the Smiths to teach their children the same lessons taught to poor black kids in the inner city, or even those facts of life that middle class black kids in the suburbs might need to learn.
Willow’s situation is unique for a young black girl in America, and the very public nature of her life has a lot to do with the responses to her fashion choices. Those who take issue with lack of boundaries set on her appearance are really reacting to the world in which walking while black can be an invitation for harassment, assault, or death. They live in communities rife with gang violence, police brutality, and institutional racism that would make it impossible for them to have green hair and be gainfully employed. In their minds, the Smiths are allowing Willow to develop habits that could have long-term consequences, and they cannot imagine how these choices could be a good idea.
Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg is fond of repeating this business world double standard among groups of women: “Success and likeability are positively correlated for men and negatively correlated for women.” So as men gain power, we like them more. As women rise in the ranks, we like them less. Jessica Valenti has proposed that women respond by ditching their “desire to be liked and accepted” altogether. “Women adjust their behavior to be likable and as a result have less power in the world,” she writes. “But the trade-off is undoubtedly worth it. Power and authenticity are worth it.”
If only bitches had it so easy. People may dislike powerful women, but being unlikable won’t necessarily help women get that power in the first place. One 2011 study found that while acting rude and disagreeable helps increase men’s earning potential in the office, the same is not true of women. When it comes to salary negotiation, even nice guys don’t finish last—they, too, are better situated than disagreeable women. So women are counseled to act like ladies when asking for a raise.
Rachel and Tyler Fracassa always did things too soon.
They became inseparable when they were 12 and married at 16. At 18, they had a house in Raytown and another child on the way.
Last year, the couple built a homestead on a 16-acre plot of land in Urich, Mo. The one-room house was enveloped by three pastures, a winding creek and a spring-fed pond.
It was as beautiful as it was secluded, and it embodied the couple’s biggest dream: to live as simply as possible so they could spend lots of time together and, someday, save enough money to take their kids all over the world.
The report, into the media portrayal of LGB audiences, featured interviews with LGB organisations and representatives and comes two years after a 2010 study carried out by the BBC. In two parts, the report also featured the views of around 3,500 people on the BBC’s own independently run audience reaction panel, Pulse.
Doctor Who, Downton Abbey and Holby City were among the shows praised by the report for their inclusion of incidental LGB characters. “Doctor Who quite often has a gay character in it but it isn’t always an issue or the plotline,” said anti-hate crime charity Galop. “It’s just incidental which has been quite nice.”
But there was criticism of another BBC drama, Lip Service, about a group of lesbians living in Glasgow which aired on BBC3. The actors trade union Equity said: “Lip Service is written by a lesbian/bisexual woman. This makes a huge difference.
“However, the episodes were directed by men and the majority of the lesbian characters were played by heterosexual actors and this clearly impacts on the quality and integrity of the representation. Some of it was laughable.”
But my rant is actually not quite about that stuff at all. It’s about history, and this notion that History Is Authentically Sexist. Yes, it is. Sure it is. We all know that. But what do you mean when you say “history?”
History is not a long series of centuries in which men did all the interesting/important things and women stayed home and twiddled their thumbs in between pushing out babies, making soup and dying in childbirth.
History is actually a long series of centuries of men writing down what they thought was important and interesting, and FORGETTING TO WRITE ABOUT WOMEN. It’s also a long series of centuries of women’s work and women’s writing being actively denigrated by men. Writings were destroyed, contributions were downplayed, and women were actively oppressed against, absolutely.
The other day I saw the new character model for Cortana and I was thinking it seemed pretty alright – she looked older, stronger, far less caricatured. If Cortana was always going to be titillating, at least she seemed a more appropriate object of desire: more 25 than 15, more flesh than real doll.
So I got a bit nervous when I saw a lot of negative reactions to Cortana’s new larger boobs. Not because that reaction wasn’t coming from a good place – these were people I respected, reacting against objectification of women and the presentation of unrealistic ideals to young women. But just a couple of weeks earlier I heard they’ve got plans to make the new Lara Croft incarnation deeper, and part of that will be making her boobs smaller. The implication that larger boobs are a liability to well-presented, deep characters makes me nervous because, well, how many stacked women get to have complex stories in popular media? I can think of Joan Holloway and…?
Boob sizes have been neatly separating the mistresses from wives, the sexy/trashy good-times-girls from the arty/pretentious hipsters, the ciphers from the plotlines. Video games have certainly fed the first part of the stereotype, that ‘e-cup women are playthings’, but wouldn’t only giving empathetic roles to C-cup-or-less women just reinforce that? (It’s also implying small-boobed women can’t be objectified because they’re insufficiently sexy. The beauty of this system is no-one wins!) Where are the ‘twist’ video games for this gaming trope, promoted as indulging the players’ desire to objectify women, but surprise! actually gives you that character’s perspective about what it’s like to live with all that objectification? Lara Croft isn’t running towards her goal, she’s running away from you, thousands upon thousands of leering players.
But there’s another point I want to make, because the logic that suggests “Sex is fun, fun is trivial, certain bodies are more sex than others, therefore certain bodies are more trivial than others.”, comes from the same place as that attitude towards media: “Play is fun, fun is trivial, certain media forms are more about play than others, therefore certain media forms are more trivial than others.”
Over at not language but a map, “just shut up” about problematic themes in media (the excerpt below relates to Beauty and the Beast):
The film ended, and my professor flicked the light on. She passed out a handout we’d already received, a list of warning signs for domestic abusers. This list included things like, “Isolates partner from support systems—tries to keep them from family, friends, outside activities.” It included things like, “Attempts to control what partner wears, does, or sees.” It included things like, “Is extremely moody, jumping quickly from being nice to exploding in anger.” It included things like, “Is overly sensitive—gets hurt when not getting their way, takes offense when someone disagrees with them, gets very upset at small inconveniences.” It included things like, “Has unrealistic expectations of partner,” and “Is abusive towards other people,” and “Has ever threatened violence, even if it wasn’t a serious threat,” and, “Gets romantically serious very quickly,” and “Holds partner against their will,” and “Intimidates with threatening body language, punching walls, breaking objects, etc.” The Beast meets almost every criterion on the list, and those he doesn’t meet (“Was abused by a parent,” “Grew up in an abusive home,”) are only unmet in the sense that we have no way to know, from the narrative given to us, whether he meets them or not.
My professor said, “Okay. Now let’s talk about it.”
One of the frustrating things for me about spending a lot of time with women, writing about women’s issues, and interacting with women is that I’m usually read as a woman and have that identity forced on me even though I’m very open about the fact that I’m genderqueer. This isn’t just because of how I look, although obviously that’s a factor; with a lot of images of me circulating on the web, often accompanying my work, it’s inevitable that people are going to make a snap assumption about my gender on the basis of my appearance. Nor is it because of the way I write; writing analysis tools tend to skew masculine when I run my work through them.
It’s because of what I write about. The assumption is that anyone who writes both passionately and sometimes personally about issues that primarily affect women must be a woman, because who else would care, right? And who else would share those experiences (rather than pontificating on them as an outside observer)? Consequently, I end up in this strange doublebind where I am welcomed into ‘women’s spaces’ and forcibly labeled as a woman—as long as it’s convenient, and then suddenly I’m shut out.
Inequality doesn’t just spring up without a context. And women don’t just opt out of hacking and hacker communities because of the tired rhetoric “maths and hacking is boys’ business.”
No, women stay the hell away from hacker-spaces, conferences and tech initiatives because of on-going experiences of misogyny, abuse, threats, put downs, belittlement, harassment, rape.
Last infosec conference I went to – there was six females and over 1000 males in attendance. My female friend roped me into pretending I was her lesbian lover, simply to get a guy to let-the-fuck-go of her hand.
At this point, some of you are thinking, “Well, if DEFCON is so bad for women, women just shouldn’t go. Who cares?”
As KC puts it, “Defcon is also many wonderful things. It is a fantastic environment to learn, network, and connect with friends old and new.” There’s a reason that I attended DEFCON five times before I quit. DEFCON and other hacker conferences are popular for all the reasons that conferences exist at all: learning new things, meeting people in your field, improving your reputation, finding jobs, and making new friends.
I’ll start with the most obvious benefit of attending DEFCON: jobs. Did you know that Twitter is recruiting computer security experts at DEFCON? So are Zynga and the NSA
More people are finally taking notice of the abuse. But there’s still a dearth of discussion on why it’s happening. The culprit isn’t anonymity, often the go-to answer for why the Internet can’t have nice things. Instead, it’s believing in the exceptionality of the Internet—and online gaming—that allows the abuses within, and it is enabled every time someone utters “It’s just a game.”
That phrase is the machine to which oppressive power dynamics are the ghost. How many times have you heard someone say “It’s the Internet; you shouldn’t take that seriously”? This kind of thinking supports the idea you can do anything you want with no consequences, when in all actuality, virtual actions like sexual harassment, stalking, abuse, prejudice in all of its forms—racism, sexism, transphobia, or all of the above—do have consequences.
Let’s start with that distinction between “online” and “the real world.” In the virtual world, there is a clear, aggressively policed distinction dictating the boundaries of both cyberspace and its social practices. In online gaming spaces in particular, this distinction is similar to the difference between “play” and “nonplay.” As child psychologists have long recognized, the act of saying “this is play” makes the real seem unreal, and thus malleable and less threatening. It allows for experimentation and learning, as well as simply finding out who you are. But in online gaming spaces, when combined with a culture of zero accountability and prejudice, it becomes a way of denying the impact of one’s words and actions—putting no limit on how nasty they can be.
There was a time that it gave me a blush of pride to be referred to as “the Spelling Sergeant” or “the Punctuation Police”. I would gleefully tear a syntactic strip out of anybody who fell victim to the perils of poor parallelism or the menace of misplaced modifiers. I railed against atrostrophes and took a red pen to signs posted in staff rooms, bulletin boards and public washrooms. I was, to put it bluntly, really, really annoying.
Four years ago, I was hired in a program that helps disadvantaged adults acquire fundamental literacy skills. To say that it has been an eye-opening experience deeply understates its impact; in fact, it has been mind-opening. And one of the ideas that has fallen into my newly-open mind is that being pedantic about the language skills of perfect strangers is kind of an asshole move.
It’s a tough habit to break, though. Prescriptivists are vocal and ubiquitous, and many of them have found their way into the public education system. Writing can be a powerful form of communication, and grammar snobs tend to be good at it, so the result is that their sneering condescensions become canonized – and cannon-ized – as easy shots against opponents in intellectual debate. The advent of the world wide web, naturally, has elevated this sport to Olympic proportions.
Reclamatory language seems to tie people up in knots as they attempt to navigate the murky waters of words, who uses them, and how. I don’t blame people for being confused; language is constantly evolving and sometimes it feels like an ever-moving goalpost designed to trip people up, rather than a useful tool for describing ideas, actions, people, and experiences. And it becomes especially fraught when people are using language some people identify as slurs self-referentially, particularly in progressive communities where there is a strong stigma about using the wrong word.
Reclamatory language, in a nutshell, includes slurs repurposed by members of a given group as a form of self-empowerment, criticism, or ingroup solidarity.
After telling myself for years that these feelings were just appreciation, or jealously for physical beauty, or anything other than what they were, I finally let go of the denial and admitted the truth to myself.
I am sexually attracted to women.
There was such freedom in just admitting that to myself. I could let go of the confusion and just be me. I could let go of the questions and just accept myself for who I was. I could let go of the questions and just embrace life.
N.K Jemisin (one of my favourite authors ever) wrote a post heavy on US politics on the Predators movie , “Predators, the GOP, and you“:
But that movie had serious problems. You knew Weathers’ character was doomed the instant you saw him, along with Bill Duke’s character — the other black guy. You knew when you saw Billy, the generic American Indian character, that he was going to die a Noble Savage death. You knew Poncho, the generic Latino character, was going to reveal cowardice or criminality before the end of the film. You knew the female character, who never even got a name, would be useless deadweight and have to be rescued repeatedly. You also knew she would probably get to live, because who else is the surviving male hero going to bang for his victory celebration?
This new version raised all of that, and saw us some additional extra-crispy crapcakes to boot. Nothing progressive about this one; regressive, in fact.
Patrick RichardsFink writes, “An Invisible Man” at Huffpost “Gay Voices” a piece about being bisexual, monogamous and married to a woman:
The nature of my relationship, however, does not change my sexual orientation. That has not changed, even when I publicly denied it. When I was in the closet, though, I never actually told people I was straight. I would duck the issue, change the subject, or deflect with words that seemed to give an answer while not actually giving any information. If I had been more comfortable with that kind of technically not-lying obfuscation, I could have gone into politics.
There’s an unfortunately common idea that while it’s perfectly possible to be straight or gay without having to do anything to prove it, in order to be bisexual we either have to have frequent three- or moresomes, or alternate genders of partners in strict same/other order — to “maintain balance.” A lot of the myths about bisexuality are built on these assumptions.
Are there people who fit the stereotypes above? Sure. Is it their right to do so? Absolutely. Criticizing someone for “reinforcing a stereotype” is dirty pool, a way of telling them that their choices are not valid because “it reflects badly on the community.” This is a problem faced by people in all minority groups: race, socioeconomic status, gender expression, sexual orientation. No one has the obligation to “be a credit to their [whatever].”
It’s interesting that bisexuals — in particular, bisexual women — are facing this issue of having their bisexuality questioned because they are in relationships. Are bisexuals required to be single in order to truly say that we are bi? Why can’t a bisexual celebrity, or any other bisexual person, get married or be in a relationship? If a heterosexual person gets married, I can’t imagine anyone tweeting to ask if they’re still straight. Why would they? What would one have to do with the other? But for some reason, bisexuality is cast in a different light. It’s seen, at least by Wood’s follower, as something you do rather than something you are.
Natalie Reed wrote this post that I only discovered recently, back in April 2012, “Natural Privilege“:
Yesterday on twitter I came across a woman calling herself Yeats Infection who decided to chastise the “decision” trans people make to become dependent on the “capitalist pharmaceutical industry” for the rest of our lives, framing us as having somehow been duped by the evil conspiracy of Big Pharma.
What an insulting, condescending, privileged, uncomprehending, self-righteous, patronizing infuriating, ignorant thing to say. Ugh. Just ugh. Well, no, not just ugh. Ugh and a heartfelt “fuck you” as well.
What it brought to mind for me, and made explicit, was the incredible degree of privilege and entitlement that often underlies the “natural medicine”, “alternative medicine”, “non-allopathic”, anti-”Big Pharma” attitude. That beneath the preference for these “natural” alternatives was the luxury of a normative physiology, and that to extrapolate from that luxury a prescriptive, paternalistic attitude towards the not-so-inconsequential choices others make about their health and bodies belies considerable classism, ableism and, yes, cissexism.
Womanhood is full of frustrating hunches, and society is full of people who want to pooh-pooh those hunches. “I’m pretty sure I’m being treated like shit right now because of my vagina,” we women say. “Shut UP, women! Because men get injured in industrial accidents! Therefore, equality reigns!” the pooh-poohers reply. There’s almost nothing as satisfying as having one’s hunches backed up by science. So color me delighted by this new study published in American Political Science Review, which found that, in collaborative group settings, “the time that women spoke was significantly less than their proportional representation—amounting to less than 75 percent of the time that men spoke.”
HA. That is just about the truest shit that I have ever heard. I (and, I suspect, pretty much any woman) can access that feeling really quickly and vividly—when you find yourself in conversation with a circle of men and, against your better judgment and all your feminist impulses, you just turtle up. You retire. You forfeit, because their lungs are bigger, they’re groomed for assertiveness since birth, and you’re groomed to assume that nobody will take you seriously anyway. You wait for a pause in a room of interruptors. Sigh. I do it like crazy, and I am a fucking loudmouth feminist yelling machine.
In the autumn of 1978 the Washington Association of Churches and the Washington State Catholic Conference jointly published a six-page pamphlet they called “Abortion: An Ecumenical Study Document.” Their work offers a fascinating snapshot of Christian thinking at the time and raises some equally fascinating questions about what, exactly, has happened in the last 35 years.
The pamphlet does not contain a position statement. Quite the opposite, in fact. From the beginning, the authors explain that such an agreement is impossible: ”Clearly there is no Christian position on abortion, for here real values conflict with each other, and Christian persons who seek honestly to be open to God’s call still find themselves disagreeing profoundly.”
Reverend Gary LaMoine of the Assumption Church in Barnesville, Minn., denied 17-year-old Lennon Cihak the Eucharist rite of Communion after seeing a picture on Facebook of the teen that went against the church’s politics.
The image in question, currently inaccessible due to privacy settings, depicted Cihak holding a modified sign in support of an amendment to the state’s constitution that would define marriage as being between a man and a woman. Cihak’s modification to the yard sign reflected his support of marriage equality.
Lately, I’ve been reading a lot of comments on the interwebs from genuinely nice guys who want to know how to be good feminist allies in this shitty rape culture world we live in. And it’s a more complicated question that it looks, since there’s a lot of conflicting advice out there about white knighting (which in itself is a confusing term with about four distinct and sometimes mutually exclusive meanings) and helpful-versus-unhelpful anger and nice guyism and creepers and OMG PARALYZED BY THE POSSIBILITY FOR WRONGNESS.
So here is a Helpful (Male) Allies 101 post for men who would like to be helpful male allies as far as my opinion goes. Also, upfront, these posters are very cool. Just sayin’.
The piece is broken up into five different parts – in that way its like the Fast and The Furious franchise, or if you prefer, a bullshit-cake that has been broken up into five different parts. Each of these parts addresses a different group and tells them, with what I can only assume is a straight face, ‘what men want’.
Again, there is nothing inherently wrong with this in theory. Men are not prohibited from telling people what they want. In fact, this willingness to not be coy about what we want is just one of the reasons why we have owned, throughout history, most of the things. So no one is saying that suddenly the needs of men are irrelevant and to be ignored. I mean, that’s just such a tediously obvious point, that in order to put that argument forward you’d have to posses the kind of myopia that renders you unable to acknowledge even the most self-evident of truths. Truths like the fact that the increase of rights for one group of people does not, in any sense, mean a decrease in rights for another.
I think we can all agree that the sentiments expressed here are less reminiscent of anything meaningful than they are a giant, steaming pile of crap that’s been passed through the digestive system of a cow then exposed to radioactive waste so that it grows to be a super dungpat that can walk around and talk and then eventually tries to run for Prime Minister while enjoying the ongoing support of Miranda Devine. That’s how messed up this turd is.
Unfortunately, it’s a turd whose central thesis is reinforced far too often in society, that being the conflation of women’s value with their vigilance in keeping their legs shut. Ladies! How can we respect you when you don’t respect yourselves?! HOLLA!
Having worked in the IT industry for a long time (almost 20 years), I felt it was my duty to explain how Abbott’s line that “during April the computer server timestamps were sometimes out by up to 10 hours” was wrong ― and why it was – at best – improbable and – at worst – impossible.
Let’s take this on face value: the Australian Parliament House (APH) network – like most corporate and government networks – is a complex beast. Spanning politicians on all sides of parliament and public servants alike, security is paramount. To maintain the level of security in APH time is essential.
If you work in IT, you know that setting a clock even one hour out will cause your network to fall over, as the tolerances for Windows Server is five minutes difference in time. Even if you set a different timezone, Windows Server will not accept login credentials from a client computer if the time is more than five minutes out.
“Men’s rights” groups are a growing phenomenon, with “men’s centres” and “men’s issues awareness” clubs appearing on campuses. Manipulating men’s anxieties faced with neoliberalism and austerity, “men’s issues” groups ignore the poverty, racism, ableism, homophobia and transphobia that men and women face, and instead scapegoat the women’s movement and progressive movements in general.
The rhetoric of “equality,” “diversity,” “human rights” and “inclusivity” that these groups use can certainly seem appealing, as can their claim to “provide support for individuals whose equality rights have been denied.” And their claim of “evidence not ideology” gives them a semblance of objectivity, which they apply to issues many people are concerned about: “men’s health, fathers and family issues, boys issues, suicide, violence, safety, workplace issues, crime and punishment.”
‘Tis the season for facial hair, courtesy of Movember, although Rachel Rubin rightly pointed out that there are some serious problems with how the event is currently framed and handled. Much like breast cancer awareness, Movember has become a juggernaut of misdirected funds and general grossness, rather than a legitimate effort to address serious men’s health issues.
And for the women who want to participate, it’s quite a minefield. Rachel collected an assortment of nasty Tweets about women with facial hair in her piece on Movember, illustrating broader social attitudes about ladies sporting mustaches, beards, sideburns or, really, anything even vaguely resembling hair on their faces. Bearded ladies are supposed to be freakshows, something to be pointed and laughed at, rather than women who happen to have facial hair, for whatever reason.
Unlike men, women aren’t socially allowed to choose facial hair as an aesthetic choice and as part of their personal expression. They’re supposed to shave it, wax it, laser it or otherwise remove it. Just get it off, because women aren’t supposed to have hairy faces.
“When the bigotry comes from the straight community, it’s hurtful. But when it comes from the gay community, it’s worse—because they should understand,” says Ingram, who now lives in Bensalem. “This is the experience of the gay community—having the straight community tell them they’re wrong, they don’t exist. For me, it feels like personal betrayal. I feel like ‘I was there with you, in the beginning,’ and then I hear ‘What has bisexuality done for the movement?’ That just floors me. The history has been rewritten.”
Ingram met her husband of three years, James Klawitter, at a meeting of BiUnity, a Philly-based bisexual support network. They were both prepared for the onslaught of questions from friends and family, some well-meaning and others hostile, when they became engaged: “Are you straight now?” (They are not.) “Are you going to miss the other gender?” (No, they have a polyamorous marriage.) “Do all bi couples have poly marriages?” (Most don’t, although some do. Same as gay and straight people.) “Are you straight now?” (No, still not straight.)
Last week, the #1reasonwhy hashtag took Twitter by storm.
It provided an outlet for gamers and game designers alike to express their frustration with the sexism of the gaming industry. The comments from women working in the industry reflected and repeated many of those we have collected on the Everyday Sexism project, from across a wide variety of jobs and workplaces. Particularly poignant were the stories from women who had been dismissed out of hand before their work had even been seen, or those afraid that a single failure would be deemed “proof that woman shouldn’t be in the industry”. The answer “Because every disclosure of harassment feels like risking never being hired again”, was also achingly familiar.
But what really struck home was the similarity, on the #1reasonwhy hashtag and amongst other articles, between gamers’ virtual experiences and the real-life gender imbalance recorded to our project website daily. We were struck by the multitude of ways in which sexism within video games themselves seemed to mirror real-life sexism.
The next taunt in class, we looked at each other. I waited for him to speak. He didn’t. I didn’t. Then a girl behind me did, out of nowhere. We were shocked but relieved.
“Shut up, you guys.”
Crosshairs were now on her. They started applying the same tactics on her as they had the previous girl, but with added harshness, because she dared to challenge them.
The boy and I stood up for her. Soon some more joined in.
I was so scared to defend her by myself. I was already a weird kid. I just wanted Justin to like me. But once others started standing up against shitty behaviour, I had much more confidence. I got mouthy. I put the mean kids on a lunch negotiation embargo. You bitches ain’t getting MY Burger Rings! I started having less tolerance for their crap, and less fear about letting it be known. I became even more radioactive than I was before, but I was oddly at peace with it.
This week, the #1ReasonWhy campaign provided a poignant and much-needed platform for women to talk about why they don’t feel comfortable in the games industry. Obviously it’s the perfect time for a Facebook advergame that encourages you to bully your friends about their breast size.
Wait, what? Are you serious?
Hire Hitman, a Facebook app designed to do some viral marketing for Hitman: Absolution in the wake of its mixed critical reception, was live for only an hour before an apologetic Square Enix pulled it.
But for that brief window, you could help the company sell its game by making death threats to your friends based on their body size, for having hairy legs, their awful make-up or their “tiny penis.” How appropriate for the age of cyber-bullying and teen suicide!
I found the Facts and Stats page of the Australia’s CEO Challenge: workplace partners against domestic violence.
I don’t want to knock college newspapers. They can be an incubation ground for great journalists, and sometimes their columnists are funny, sharp, insightful and so much more.
But other times, they’re just plain ridiculous, and that sums up John Corrigan, who is apparently approximately 12 years old, at “The Temple News” to a tee. For his parting shot as he prepared to leave the paper, he wrote himself up an oh-so-witty column about cis ladies and their periods. Because, as we all know, this subject is hilarious, especially when written up by a man complaining about how his girlfriend transforms into some sort of creature from the deeps for three to five days out of the month.
He managed to include almost every possible period stereotype, no mean feat for such a short column. He portrays menstruating cis women as out of control animals, held captive by their hormones, depicting menstruation as some sort of minefield for the men around them (“When your girlfriend suffers, you will too”). He informs us that women eat weird things during their periods — har har! — and points out that one side benefit is a chance for some sexytimes, but “don’t expect a quickie.” Because, you know, menstruating women need to be tenderly held and snuggled, all emotionalstyle.
There is a certain type of pollen that drives my skin mad in early Spring. This period of time has now passed, and I feel much better, though I think sleeping for an age would still be nice. But before I do, here are some things about the interwebs I’ve found interesting recently.
We have so mastered the art of talking to someone who is not there, that we can even do it beautifully when someone very much is there, right in front of us. We can obliterate them with our monologue and blow them away like so much straw. It’s so prevalent, especially in discussions where this could not be more counter productive, I’d forgive anyone who thought this is a necessary, adaptive trait for our species.
Now that I’ve stuffed you full of information, you might be wondering “Okay then, why do I need to know this excessively specific vocabulary?” Since you’re reading a Skepchick network site, you probably tread in lots of spaces which well cover the specific marginalization of women/females from the atheist movement. To a degree, this type of harassment and exclusion is also directed at LGBT+ individuals.
The Atheism+ movement was started by atheists who desire to work for social justice as much as they promote atheism. Even non-believers who don’t subscribe to that label can commonly agree that we need to open our doors to everyone–especially groups which are already marginalized, often with religious backing. To that end, we have to educate ourselves about the issues and struggles of LGBT+ people, women, racial minorities, and people with mental illnesses. By teaching ourselves and spreading the knowledge, we’re eliminating the stigmas attached to these groups.
A woman’s beauty is supposed to be her grand project and constant insecurity. We’re meant to shellac our lips with five different glosses, but always think we’re fat. Beauty is Zeno’s paradox. We should endlessly strive for it, but it’s not socially acceptable to admit we’re there. We can’t perceive it in ourselves. It belongs to the guy screaming “nice tits.”
Saying “I’m beautiful,” let alone charging for it, breaks the rules.
Laura Stone guest posts at Skepchick, “Guest Post: A Mother’s Plea to Bullies” *trigger warning for bullying*:
I’ve heard that I’m a terrible mother for leaving my child in a situation where he’s being brutalized. That he needs to pull himself up by his bootstraps and beat the hell out of his attackers. That he needs more Jesus in his life. That if he only smiles back at the bullies, why, their hearts will grow three sizes that day and they’ll all be BFFs.
There are a few problems with those suggestions. First, I haven’t left my child anywhere. Every single administrator, counselor, and teacher from his 3rd grade in elementary school to this year in high school knows my face and my name. I’m always assured that they’re looking into things. They’re getting to the bottom of it. If they can only catch these punks in the act, life will be better. (And if my son could only remember their names. Or not be terrified about turning them in, because that hasn’t worked out well either. Retaliation is the name of that game.)
Second, my son is on the Autism Spectrum. To think that he would be capable of beating up on someone is ridiculous. (Not to mention that he weighs a buck o’five at almost seventeen years old.) He approaches things from logic. To him, it’s illogical to hit a person in order to make them stop hitting him. Frankly, it tells me a lot about a person if they think that contradictory mindset works, like biting back a toddler to make him stop biting.
I spent the better half of 2010 carrying out research. Among other things, I wondered about whether the concept of homosexuality existed in African culture. I also wanted to investigate the structured recruitment of children by the LGBT community. As I always do, I first consulted my reliable team of Acholi elders. They told me that gay men and women have always existed among the Acholi society and are commonly referred to as “obedo dako dako” (gay) and “obedo lacoo lacoo” (lesbian). They also acknowledged that the communal nature of the Acholi society forced many gay and lesbian people to conform to what was considered “normal”.
A new report from the Williams Institute shows that bisexual women and gay men experience higher rates of domestic-violence victimization than people of other gender-and-sexual-orientation combinations. The stats about bisexual women, unfortunately, came as no surprise. The fact that bisexual women are more likely than women of other orientations to be abused by their partners has been reported on before, as covered in the book Bisexual Health (published by the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force). However, this is the first time I’ve seen a study that showed that gay men have this particular thing in common with bisexual women. And the Williams Institute takes the research one step further, noting that the vast majority (95 percent) of the bisexual women who are in abusive relationships are, like gay men, in relationships with men. So what we have here is a situation in which people who not straight, and who are in relationships with men, are being abused by those men. The study, then, is not so much about the experiences of bisexual women or gay men but about those of queer people who date men.
I am both excited and terribly disappointed when I find that a prominent male, with a wide audience, is a feminist ally. Excited because, “YAY an ally!”, disappointed because it really should be far more common than it is. I am, sadly, far to used to being thrown under a bus by prominent men due to my gender. Dawkins being a great example during the elevatorgate storm. So when someone like PZ Myers or John Scalzi comes out defending feminism, supporting my existence as an equal to men, and arguing with arsehats that really, letting women make their own mind up about what they do and don’t want, and that treating them respectfully should be a no-brainer, I am happy inside as much as I am disappointed that so many other men really don’t get this. Continue Reading
The Anglican Church introduced new wedding vows this week, that included the bride promising to “submit” to her husband. Here I was thinking we lived in the 21st Century, and not the 17th – silly me.
Archbishop Jensen, who was part of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (a group who is publicly against the ordination of queer individuals into the Anglican ministry), is well known for his conservatism, and “literal” (read those bits he agrees with personally, not those pesky bits about mixed fibres, slaves, shellfish, and the treatment of rape victims – well maybe that last bit) following of the bible.
Now back from holidays, and a final post on Cologne is yet to be written, but is percolating around my head, I have much linkspam to share. And as always, this is a fraction of the cool stuff I’ve read this month.
Back in the good old-bad old days of being fully immersed in social networking, I became known for my propensity to talk about periods: mine, my friends’, my family members’, other people’s, periods on television, periods and advertising, periods, periods, PERIODS.
(It reached a crescendo when some dude on Twitter whined that it was “gross” and I drew this smily face for them in response in mother nature’s own brick-red ink.)
The reason for such menses-mad tweeting was, in part, because I think the continued taboo about menstruation is one of the most depressing aspects of our allegedly enlightened society.
Partner abuse has become a disturbingly normalised aspect of everyday life in Australia and internationally. There’s no doubt that we’ve come a long way from the hush-hush ignorance of decades prior to the 50s and 60s, but it’s still something that we often choose to not discuss, to sweep under the rug. Many see it as a private family matter, as something that should be dealt with within the home and not talked about publicly. But if it is never discussed, never acknowledged, how can the cycle ever be broken?
Every woman knows what I’m talking about. It’s the presumption that makes it hard, at times, for any woman in any field; that keeps women from speaking up and from being heard when they dare; that crushes young women into silence by indicating, the way harassment on the street does, that this is not their world. It trains us in self-doubt and self-limitation just as it exercises men’s unsupported overconfidence.
I wouldn’t be surprised if part of the trajectory of American politics since 2001 was shaped by, say, the inability to hear Coleen Rowley, the FBI woman who issued those early warnings about Al Qaeda, and it was certainly shaped by a Bush administration to which you couldn’t tell anything, including that Iraq had no links to Al Qaeda and no WMD, or that the war was not going to be a “cakewalk.” (Even male experts couldn’t penetrate the fortress of their smugness.)
Arrogance might have had something to do with the war, but this syndrome is a war that nearly every woman faces every day, a war within herself too, a belief in her superfluity, an invitation to silence, one from which a fairly nice career as a writer (with a lot of research and facts correctly deployed) has not entirely freed me. After all, there was a moment there when I was willing to let Mr. Important and his overweening confidence bowl over my more shaky certainty.
Tony Abbott is a good bloke. He’s a good Aussie bloke. He’s a good Aussie bloke who is fair dinkum on a bike.
He’s exactly like John Wayne if you replace the twelve gallon Stetson and six shooter with lycra tights and a Consumer Safety Standards approved bike helmet. He’s a hootin’, tootin’, rootin’, good ole boy who knows what he knows and knows it’s right because he knows it. (And by rootin’ I mean he thoroughly enjoys barracking at the cricket – not doing dirty grown-up things that would make the baby Jesus cry.)
What are the qualities we generally associate with maturity? The ability to see things from others’ perspectives? The ability to accept that the world doesn’t revolve around you, and that things don’t always go the way you want them to, and that you just have to deal with that? The ability to cooperate with others, to communicate and find compromises that everyone can be happy with?
Yeah, under Christian Patriarchy, a man doesn’t have to do any of that. Because he’s the head of the family, dammit!
What he says goes! God speaks to him, after all, and everyone else should listen and heed what God tells him! He’s the one who gets to make the decisions for the family, and for the children! Period! In other words, a man is allowed to act like a willful, spoiled child who always expects to get his own way. And if he doesn’t get his own way? Expect a reaction of confusion mixed with anger and righteous indignation.
So basically, the DA creators have had the sense to acknowledge that the non-optional demographics of a person’s background — her gender, her race, the class into which she was born, her sexual orientation — have as much of an impact on her life as her choices. Basically, privilege and oppression are built in as game mechanics. I can’t remember the last time I saw a game that so openly acknowledged the impact of privilege. Lots of games feature characters who have to deal with the consequences of being rich or poor, a privileged race or an oppressed one, but this is usually a linear, superficial thing. The title character in Nier, for example, is a poor single father who’s probably too old for the mercenary life (he looks about 50, but via the miracle of Japanese game traditions he’s probably only 30), but he keeps at it because otherwise his sick daughter will starve. His poverty is simply a motivation. No one refuses to hire him because they think poor people are lazy. He meets a well-dressed, well-groomed young man who lives in a mansion at one point, and the kid doesn’t snub him for being dirty and shirtless. (In fact the kid falls in love with him but that’s a digression.) His age and race and class don’t mean anything, even though in real life they would. So even though I love Nier — great music, fascinating and original world — I like the DA games better. Even in a fantasy world, realism has its place.
I’ve seen a lot of discussion in the SFF writing world about how to write “the other” — i.e., a character of a drastically different background from the writer’s own. It’s generally people of privileged backgrounds asking the question, because let’s face it: if you’re not a straight white able-bodied (etc.) male, you pretty much know how to write those guys already because that’s most of what’s out there. So right now I’m speaking to the white people. One technique that gets tossed around in these discussions is what I call the “Just Paint ‘Em Brown” technique: basically just write the non-white character the same as a white one, but mention somewhere in the text, briefly, that she’s not white. Lots of well-known SFF writers — Heinlein in Starship Troopers, Clarke in Childhood’s End, Card in Ender’s Game — have employed this technique. I’ve seen some books mention a character’s non-whiteness only as a belated “surprise” to the reader (near the end of the book in the Heinlein example). The idea, I guess, is that the reader will form impressions of the character sans racialized assumptions, and therefore still feel positively about the character even after he’s revealed to be one of “them.”
An article about Courage to Care travelling exhibition (in Australia), featured in Australian Mosaic: the Magazine of the Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Councils of Australia, “Have you got the Courage to Care?“:
Courage to Care aims to empower the people who are usually overlooked in situations involving prejudice and discrimination—the bystanders. Many social tolerance programs are directed towards the victims or the perpetrators. By contrast, Courage to Care focuses on the majority—the bystanders—encouraging them to take action and to confront incidents of discrimination, bullying and harm.
The program uses one of the most significant events of the 20th century to teach a universal concept: one person can make a difference. The Holocaust, the systematic murder during Second World War of 6 000 000 European Jews by Nazi Germany, is the most extreme example of how far racism and discrimination can go if left unchecked by ordinary citizens. Courage to Care uses living historians as well as text, objects, memorabilia and interactive discussion.
By exposing students to the personal experiences of Holocaust survivors and the remarkable stories of the people who rescued them, the program promotes learning and understanding. It does this through enquiry, discourse and critical reflection on personal values.
It does not seek to impose values, but rather encourages students to question instances of racism, intolerance and discrimination. It challenges the bystander who turns a blind eye, rather than stand up for what they instinctively know is right. It thereby challenges indifference.
Not currently being in Australia, I missed most of the furore that a Gen-Y woman caused when she dared accuse an upstanding institution such as the Herald Sun of being sexist and condescending after finishing her internship there. I mean really, who would have thought that the Herald Sun would have been sexist? Oh you mean there are actually people out there who think that “modern business etiquette” actually applies and that “chivalry” is not at all an outdated concept? Please kill me now.
I caught up (a tiny amount) on the story when I read an article published in a Fairfax newspaper, by Natasha Hughes, suggesting that the sexism experienced by Sasha Burden was all in her imagination and really, the men of the Herald Sun were just being polite, as their mothers (because it’s always the mothers) taught them.
Interestingly, this article also quotes Leslie Cannold, but completely fails to understand Cannold’s point.
Basically Burden should not have complained about the way she was treated while interning at the Herald Sun because:
Good old-fashioned chivalry should make us very happy