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people out there who think that “modern business etiquette” actually applies and that “chivalry” is not at all an outdated concept?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
My own personal journey with depilating is probably similar to other women, particularly in western countries. I had grown up noticing my mother shave her legs, and seeing women with smooth legs on TV and all around me, and at what is probably a ridiculously young age (about 8 ) I deemed my own legs too hairy and shaved them for the first time. I cut them to bits with Dad’s rusty old Gillette Blue 2, and didn’t try that again for another year or so. I’d call my “need” to shave an “unconscious social intervention” as it was based on observation and “normalising messages” hitting me from a very young age. But what was a completely conscious one was when mum took me aside at about 11 or 12 and showed me how to shave my armpits. From that point onwards, I was paranoid of raising my arm if I hadn’t shaved. It wasn’t mum’s fault as nearly every girl in my school seemed to be in the same boat, if not then, then over the coming years.
After a spike in traffic on my blog, and specifically regarding my post about Dan Savage’s biphobia, I wondered what he’d done this time. Apparently he’d used a derogatory comment in relation to GOProud, a coalition of LGBT Republicans and their straight allies. *trigger warning for homophobic language* From the Huffington Post, “Dan Savage and the Other, Uglier F-Word“.
There are many people who feel attraction to both genders—or who are indifferent to gender entirely, who are just attracted to people and deal with the gendered parts when things get intimate. How is it possible that high-schoolers think it’s chic (though a little passe) to be bi, but our mouthpieces of popular celebrity culture don’t know what to do with famous people who have fluid sexuality?
Even after all these years of progress and activism related to sexual orientation and gender, there remains a core disbelief among gay and straight that bisexuality exists. Some think it’s a phase girls go through in college; others think it’s a bullshit position a guy takes because he’s afraid to be gay. It’s not validated on either side of the aisle, so to speak. So bisexuals disappear into headlines: Frenchie Davis is a lesbian. Score 1 for the absolutist team.
Bisexuality is sometimes looked on with confusion from both the heterosexual and homosexual communities. Researchers from Indiana University conducted a series of studies recently to explore how the stigma and stereotypes of behaviorally bisexual individuals stands up to reality, and how these men and women are actually living out their sexual lives.
“I was really surprised to find, among some of the guys, how they weren’t open at all about their sexuality,” he said. “For a lot of them, it had been the first time they’d ever talked to someone about engaging in sexual behavior with both men and women. There was a lot of stigma, even shame from both gay and straight friends and family members about bisexuality that was above and beyond just typical stigma. For some of them it really did seem like they were clearly linking that with having mental health issues, like feeling depressed or anxious or not comfortable with their sexuality because they felt like they were sort of the only ones. So in terms of the needs for actually doing this type of research, it was really validated.”
No Place for Sheep wrote a piece about “Belief versus human rights“, in relation to Gillard’s (Aussie PM) personal beliefs about marriage equality impacting the human rights of the LGBTIQ community. I recommend this post even though the BTIQ part of the spectrum are missing somewhat in the post.
Be that as it may, the fights led me to thinking about belief. While I agree that everyone is entitled to their beliefs, I don’t agree that everyone is entitled to act on those beliefs to the detriment of others. Once a belief is extrapolated from the personal realm and used to determine the lives of others it is no longer personal, it is political.
Personal belief can legitimately determine the course of one’s own life. If you don’t believe same-sex marriage is right, for example, then don’t make a same-sex marriage. Nobody in our country will force you into an arrangement that powerfully disturbs your moral sensibility.
What disturbs me, however, is the argument that personal beliefs ought to be set apart from the interrogations we are at liberty to apply to all other human processes. The personal belief is elevated to the sacred, inspiring respect and reverence simply because it is a personal belief, and regardless of its substance. While I find this bizarre, hinting as it does at some transcendental exterior governance, I have little problem with it, as long as the belief remains in the realm of the personal. When it becomes prescriptive, I argue that it is no longer protected from scrutiny and critique by reverence.
It turns out that Mitt Romney doesn’t like bisexuals or trans* people (well there is a surprise) to the point where those words in a anti-bullying guide resulted in the guide not being produced/endorsed by his office, “No mention of ‘bisexual,’ ‘transgender’ under Romney“:
Former governor Mitt Romney’s administration in 2006 blocked publication of a state antibullying guide for Massachusetts public schools because officials objected to use of the terms “bisexual’’ and “transgender’’ in passages about protecting certain students from harassment, according to state records and interviews with current and former state officials.
Romney aides said publicly at the time that publication of the guide had been delayed because it was a lengthy document that required further review. But an e-mail authored in May of that year by a high-ranking Department of Public Health official – and obtained last week by the Globe through a public records request – reflected a different reason.
There’s an almost constant stream of allegations of objectification through sexualisation currently being made in Western society. These are leveled by concerned citizens against much popular culture, and based largely on images of women that culture produces. These allegations presume an objectifying gaze, that is, they insist the viewer will inevitably reduce women portrayed in certain ways to objects to be used for sexual gratification, rather than seeing them as equal human beings. Clothing, facial expressions and postures are used as signifiers of objectification, as well as language.
The signifiers chosen by concerned citizens are based on a Judeo-Christian perception of the adult female body as unruly, dangerous and indecent, and requiring concealment except in specific circumstances such as marriage and other committed monogamous relationships. Clothing that reveals too much of the body’s “private” zones is regarded as transgressing moral codes, as are postures and language that imply female sexual desire, and/or stimulate male “lust.”
An introductory post and a follow up three post series on “Christian Fundamentalist Homophobia: It Really Is About Fear” (introduction, part 1, part 2, part 3) from the phoenix and the olive branch *trigger warning for homophobic language and hate speech (excerpts from all four posts):
I was raised to be homophobic. Oh, my church had lots of ways to deflect the label when it was applied to us, but deep down, I was afraid. The other kids were afraid, too. When pressed, we would spew lines like “hate the sin, love the sinner” or “I’m not afraid of gay people, I just disagree with their lifestyle.” (That one confuses me now: how can you “disagree” with someone else’s life? It’s not about disagreement, it’s about disapproval.) There’s always this old favorite, too: “They don’t even know they’re in sin; they’re deceived. We need to pray for them.” Thing is, all of this masks a genuine, visceral, inculcated fear. I wasn’t raised to have a vague, condescending, pious pity for LGBTQ people. I was raised to be violently afraid of them.
In my church, homophobia was a matter of course. We didn’t spend a lot of time hashing out the Scriptural arguments against homosexuality. Occasionally Paul and Leviticus were cited, but more often, sermons would rattle out evidence of modern depravity along these lines: “…and Satan has so perverted this generation that it thinks there’s nothing wrong with divorce, abortion, contraception, homosexuality, and girls throwing their babies in trash cans and doing drugs.” Defiance of gender roles was just one of the most obvious signs of demonic control.
Whether or not my church explicitly intended for me to receive this message, I understood homosexuality as one of an array of perversions. Homosexuality, promiscuity, pedophilia drug addiction, alcoholism, cheating, self-harm, unwed pregnancy and abortion were not treated as separate issues. I was afraid of gay people because I was taught that it was impossible to be gay or lesbian without partaking in all of the above.
These rhetorical strategies also reveal fundamentalist Christianity’s basic approach to LGBTQ identities: they are symptoms of an overactive sexuality. The demon that leads men to pornography and women to prostitution is the same one that causes sexual attraction to break out of the appropriate boxes. Fundamentalists don’t fully accept LGBTQ identities as categories. Instead, they see them as temporary stopping points on the way to total depravity. Hence their slippery slope arguments and their conviction that you can “pray away the gay.” The implication is that if you don’t “pray away the gay,” you’re mere moments away from self-harm and child molestation. [emphasis in original]
I have one final thing to offer to the “hate the sin, love the sinner” crowd from the other side of the fence they built to keep us illegal Christians out:
Unconditional love does not mean loving someone while disapproving of their actions. It means forsaking the right to disapprove. You cannot love who I am and hate what I do. What I do shows you who I am.If you choose to love a figment of your imagination, some idea of who I might become, then you love only your own mind, and what you hate is me. [emphasis in original]
Worse yet, in my church, women were told we were merely “incubators” for male seed. A man’s children were his; a woman’s children were also his. There was effectively no difference between a man’s children from another marriage or the children a man and woman had together. All belonged to the father. The mother was just the vice president: a useful source of authority in her husband’s absence, but ultimately powerless.
Pregnancy and babies, to me, signaled the dehumanization of women. Once women became mothers, they were trapped forever, at the mercy of their husbands. I looked at pregnant bellies and I saw swollen bee stings inflicted by aggressive overlords. In darker moments, I imagined myself committing suicide if I became pregnant. Abortion would save my life (a desperate realization that shocked me a little bit), but I would be cast out on my face. Pregnancy therefore looked like the end of the road. A death sentence. Once the wedding bells rang, I was a soul without a body in the eyes of the church. [emphasis in original]
*Warning – the link for the article that I am quoting from below may be considered NSFW*
So what happens when you get a GP and Family Planning Specialist, and a Psychotherapist and Life Coach together to write about sex after giving birth? You end up with this train wreck of an article. Honestly I expected that two such qualified people would be able to write an article that used language that was easily understandable and didn’t read like the two authors were thinking that their 12 year old children might read it.
My first issue with the article is not the language, but instead the hetero-centrism, that the only people who give birth are women who are in relationships with men (not other women), and secondly that sometimes people who give birth don’t identify as women.
Well I’m slowing being poisoned by chocolate, and I’ve been recovering from a bad cold – so have some linkspam while I get my writing mojo back on (I have posts planned on pornography and one on Pell’s appearance on Q&A).
A great article in Salon about being bisexual in a small town in the US, “Rebel girls“:
“We need to talk,” said my mom. I was 14, and this could have meant any number of ominous things. We’d had many “talks” over the years, most of them related to my adolescent misbehavior, which arrived at 12 in particularly worrying form.
We sat together at our breakfast counter, she with a mug of Bengal spice tea, me with a glass of OJ. My mother was, and is, a very pretty woman, with bright blue eyes, skyscraper cheekbones, and an easy laugh. She sipped her tea and took a breath.
“Karen and I aren’t just friends, honey.” Her features tightened, but her eyes met mine, clear and steady. “We’re more than friends.”
“Yeah, I figured that out,” I said.
“Of course!” I gulped. “Jessica and me aren’t just friends, either, you know.”
“I had a feeling about that.” She nodded with a faint smile.
Mine was the most amiable coming out story I knew. If only the experience of my early sex life were so breezy.
The strong female character (SFC) is a stereotype. It’s gone beyond just a trope at this point. It’s ubiquitous; we see this character appear in films, in books, in video games — and because it’s a stereotype, we’ve started to “see” it in real life. Conservatives love Sarah Palin because she shoots things, and Ann Coulter because she thinks women should never ask for help, and should tote guns (and vote the way their husbands tell them). We celebrate images like this one, which has been all over my Facebook feed this week. We warn that the Republican “war on women” will “awaken the sleeping giant” — with violent, threatening language re what will happen when women fight back.
This is a good thing, right? We all know women can be strong. Us women can wield the big guns like the big boys. We can bring home the bacon and fry it up in a pan; we can do anything, everything, we can work and have babies and cut the cords with our teeth and then still get up and punch a motherfucker in the face with our brains –
– Yeahno. See, that’s the problem with stereotypes. They contain a grain of truth, sure, but the rest is all melodramatic bullshit.
Even so, while sewing’s getting more popular and more techie, Luna can’t totally shake the pastime’s old-lady associations among some of her friends. “Most of them think it’s cool because I always make stuff for them for their birthdays,” she says. “But one of my friends, when I say I have sewing on Saturday, so I can’t hang out, she calls me grandma.”
“Young women and girls are reclaiming that image,” says Luna’s mom, Mimi Ito. “They’re making things that are quirky and funky and tied to a punk DIY aesthetic.” Mimi thinks there’s a culture shift going on, even though we still have those old images of what crafting means.
Growing up surrounded by people who were anti-abortion, one thing I heard all the time was that all that it would take to make pro-choice people change their mind was for them to get pregnant with a wanted child. They would then see clearly that it was a fetus was a baby, not a ball of tissue, and that it was a person, not just an inconvenience. Weirdly, my experience has been only the opposite.
How many times have you seen that question? How many surveys, questionnaires, and/or polls have you been asked which gender you are? How many times have you seen it asked the other way? Continue Reading
Graeme Garden was always my favourite Goodie. He was a mad scientist, an inventor, a megalomaniac, and sometimes the most frenzied of the group. His character spoke to me and my enjoyment of science, helping dad in the garage with things, and my developing interest in design. I always loved his one piece suits. He was my first geek role model.
My second geek role model was Doctor Who (and I believe my first doctor was probably Jon Pertwee, though looking at the timeline of each of the Doctors, it was more likely to be Tom Baker. Then again, with the way the ABC ran Doctor Who at the time, it’s hard to know exactly. So Doctor Who saved the universe, and Earth, time and time again, had fun gadgets, understood maths and science, and travelled through time and space (what’s not to like?).
I don’t recall any female geek role models that I really identified with when I was growing up. Marmalade Atkins was a role model on rebelling and questioning everything, which is one of the lessons my parents also taught me – though not how Marmalade Atkins went about it. 3-2-1 Contact (the more grown up version of Sesame Street) had women involved, but as it screened at odd times in Australia (again on the ABC) I didn’t watch enough of it to identify with any of the presenters. Penny from Inspector Gadget was almost someone I could relate to, but she was a cartoon, and that made the whole thing unreal for me. The sad state of affairs of ABC children’s TV programming in the 1980s meant that for the most part we heard the stories of the boys and men over the stories of women (not having children and therefore not consuming children’s TV currently, I don’t know if this is still true).
So all my geek role models were men. Which meant, in part, that geekery when I was growing up was not a feminine thing. That to be a geek and female was unusual, so being a geek and feminine probably didn’t work out. I had a fairly normal childhood (well ok, it wasn’t that normal), I did ballet for 8 years, sang in choirs, rode a bike, had friends, learnt how to cook, and attempted to fit in – in Alice Springs not so much of a problem, but in Bendigo a nightmare.
The biggest issue is that I grew up without female geek role models. I didn’t know at the time about my cousin Hillary Booth, who had a PhD in mathematics and no doubt was a geek and I am sad I never met her. So growing up I separated geekery and femininity as they couldn’t go together. To be a geek meant that I couldn’t be feminine, so I attempted to distance myself from femininity and those who practised it. Which means that I didn’t have much time for many of the girls I went to school with, and they didn’t have much time for me as a result. I did have female friends, but they were geeks like me, stuck between the masculine and the feminine. Being female but not is still something I live today, but these days I no longer distance myself from those who practice femininity. I understand a lot more about feminism, gender constructions, the Kyriarchy, Geekdom, privilege and class than I used to thanks to the power of the internet, friends, and the awesomeness of the feminist blogosphere.
I’ve just remembered George from The Famous Five (TV Series) as a female role model I related to. Though sadly with that series you had the two options Anne or George. The Wikipedia entry describes them both:
Georgina is a tomboy and insists that people call her George. With her short hair and boy’s clothes she is often mistaken for a boy, which pleases her enormously. Like her father, Quentin, George has a fiery temper. She is fierce, headstrong and very loyal to those she loves. She is sometimes extremely stubborn and causes trouble for her mother as well as her cousins. She is very possessive of Timothy (Timmy), her dog. George is cousin to siblings Julian, Dick and Anne and is aged 11 at the start of the series and 16 at the end. In Five Have Plenty of Fun, Five Fall Into Adventure, and Five Go To Mystery Moor there were tomboys like her.
Anne is the youngest in the group, and generally takes care of their domestic duties during the Five’s various camping holidays. As the youngest, she is more likely than the others to become frightened and does not really enjoy the adventures as much as the others. She is 10 years old in the first book of the series and 15 in the last. As a small girl, she sometimes lets her tongue run away with her, but ultimately she is as brave and resourceful as the others. She likes doing the domestic things such as planning, organising and preparing meals, keeping where they are staying clean and tidy, be it a cave, house, tent or caravan. In Smuggler’s Top it is suggested she is claustrophobic as she is frightened of enclosed spaces since it reminds her of bad dreams she has – however this just shows how brave she really is as the adventures invariably lead the five into tunnels, down wells, in dungeons and other enclosed spaces.
So I could have the fierce, headstrong role model, or the domestic goddess who frightens easily. Top marks for guessing which one I related to – yes that’s right the girl who wants to be a boy.
As if it had finally noticed that women out- number bishops, the Obama administra tion has decided against permitting religious organizations a broad exemption from rules requiring that all methods of contraception be covered, with no co-payment, by health insurance plans. Strictly religious organizations—churches, missions and such—will be exempt, but not universities, hospitals and charities. As a public health matter, this is excellent news: for women whose health plans don’t cover birth control, it can be difficult to obtain and costs hundreds of dollars a year out of pocket.
As part of “Why I am an Athiest” on Pharyngula, Frances shares her thoughts on atheism and feminism *trigger warning for discussion of sexual harassment and rape*:
I wondered where god was in all this. Not in an angry, he-should-have-my-back sort of way, but in a literal way. I went to church every Sunday for my entire life, and as near as I can tell, god has no opinions at all on rape, sexual harassment, sexual assault, or actually any of the issues women have to deal with. I knew the church was against abortion, premarital sex, and being gay (I was raised catholic in an area with lots of fundamentalists), but beyond that, there was literally no guidance. There were no ethics relating to this at all, or if there were, the priests were very tight-lipped about them.
The reply from the newsdesk was probably predictable, although I didn’t see it coming. After all, I had been submitting my weekly column to the Northern Star for four years, receiving the the stellar payment of $50 (raised from $30 after some agitation).
The email came from the then acting editor and he said, in part: “I know you are trying to push the envelope and be feisty but I think in trying to do that you sometimes confuse the point you are trying to make.”
“Like it or not, we are a family newspaper (the demographic is 40-65, mainly professional people working in Lismore, Casino and Ballina). That’s a fairly conservative audience so swear words are not going to go down too well.
“… thank you for your input to the Star, but we won’t be reconsidering the decision (to cease your column), nor will we be asking readers what they think. If we do cop some backlash and get some letters to the editor, we’ll run these in the appropriate place.”
From the new and awesome blog Queereka, “Sunday School Salutations” which is soon (probably already has) launched a sex advice column and is seeking questions:
The most instructive answer I got was “your first column must contain at least two (2) hymen jokes.” However, this answer is mostly useful because it is pretty bad advice, at least as regards the goal of this column and this blog. I mean, not to get all RAWR HETEROSEXISM on my friend (who was, of course, making a joke), but one of the goals I have for Sunday School in the first place is to tear down the dominant narrative about sex. Raise your hands, dear readers: did your first sexual experience involve hymen rupture?
Yeah, mine didn’t, either.
The Huff Post lists some very interesting tech failures at marketing products to women, noting that women are already big consumers of electronics.
On Monday HSN announced the results of a survey by the international research firm Parks Associates that asked 2,000 adults about purchases they wanted to make before 2012. The results showed women outstripped men in their interest in owning electronics, with 18 percent of women planning on buying a tablet before 2012 (compared to 15 percent of men), 20 percent of women wanted a laptop (only 14 percent of men did) and 20 percent of women planning on purchasing smartphones — compared to 17 percent of men, Mashable reports.
The MailOnline has an interesting piece on the BMI of models and how they would be ranked as anorexic. This article is NSFW – there is nude “plus” size model posing with a “straight” model.
It’s a big problem that people who are bisexually identified (or engage in bisexual behavior) are dismissed and mocked by gay/queer/lesbian people. I honestly don’t think I need to spell out an explanation of why it’s important for spaces that call themselves “queer” or “LGBT” to be inclusive. In short, anyone who is bi (in name or behavior) is still queer and may need support as a queer person. Biphobia also makes it difficult for anyone who is gay-identified and experiencing sexual fluidity (Lisa Diamond’s research on sexual fluidity (pdf) is super interesting, btw). It also means that gay people who are in “straight” relationships for whatever reasons (family and religion are two examples) are dismissed by the queer community. Biphobia is part of a culture of identity-policing, where if you don’t adhere closely enough to the requirements delineated by the official bureau of gayness you’re out of the club.
The last (and second ever) linkspam for 2011. Here are some articles and/or links that I’ve found interesting over the past… whenever it was since the last time I did this. (Blogging sporadically because I’m playing lots of Skyrim).
The awesome Greta Christina blogged on why “Yes, but” is a terrible response to misogyny *trigger warning for discussion of rape*.
When the topic of misogyny comes up, and men change the subject, it trivializes misogyny.
When the topic of misogyny comes up, and men change the subject, it conveys the message that whatever men want to talk about is more important than misogyny.
When the topic of misogyny comes up, and men change the subject to something that’s about them, it conveys the message that men are the ones who really matter, and that any harm done to men is always more important than misogyny.
And when the topic of misogyny comes up, and men change the subject, it comes across as excusing misogyny. It doesn’t matter how many times you say, “Yes, of course, misogyny is terrible.” When you follow that with a “Yes, but…”, it comes across as an excuse. In many cases, it is an excuse. And it contributes to a culture that makes excuses for misogyny.
If it was not clear before, we must understand now that Facebook wasn’t built for us — it was built for the profit of the very few. That Facebook is of value to the public as a communications platform is only important to Facebook insofar as it allows them to sell targeted advertising against our own speech. Its governing document, the Terms of Service, has been repeatedly applied unfairly and without accountability to its users, as its purpose is to legally protect Facebook from our conduct, not provide us with a free space, or even a safe space. Facebook needs to be only as minimally welcoming to us so as to ensure our return to use it again. And that we might use Facebook as a public square for activism? Not even in the business model.
I love computer games. I’ve been playing them since I was at least 10, so for the majority of my life. And, in what used to be something unusual, I’m a female gamer. Like all computer gamers (and people who read books, watch TV, grow plants, etc), I prefer some types of games over others. I’ve never been much of a first person shooter (FPS), though there have been the odd FPS I’ve enjoyed multiplaying with friends/the household. I’ve always tended to play god/civilisation-sims (Civilisation, Populous, Sim City, Tropico, etc) and Role Playing Games (yes those based on AD&D style mechanics).
One of the things I’ve noticed about these games is that either you’re playing a faceless character with no specific gender (though the nations in Civilisation are represented by particular historic figures who are gendered), or you can create your own character and pick the image or now the entire appearance that this character has for the game.