Tag Archives: gender roles

Are Women People: A Book of Rhymes for Suffrage Times

I found this book on Project Gutenberg and it’s by Alice Duer Miller, I thought it might be an interesting read and I was wrong, it’s a fascinating read.  Miller picks apart many of the arguments used against suffrage, sadly arguments used against women and feminism today, and neatly takes them apart in poems.  I’m going to quote some of my favourites below and comment underneath (as appropriate), but I highly recommend you pick up a copy of the book from Project Gutenberg if you can – it’s not very long but is very entertaining.

The Revolt of Mother(“Every true woman feels….” – Speech of almost any Congressman)

I am old-fashioned, and I think it right
That man should know by Nature’s laws eternal,
The proper way to rule, to earn, to fight,
And exercise those functions called paternal;
But even I a little bit rebel
At finding that he knows my job as well.

At least he’s always read to expound it,
Especially in legislative hall,
The joys, the cares, the halos that surround it,”How women feel” –
he knows that best of all.
In fact his thesis is that no one can
Know what is womanly except a man.

I am old-fashioned, and I am content
When he explains the world of art and science
And government – to him divinely sent -I drink it in with ladylike compliance.
But I cannot listen – no, I’m only human –
When he instructs me on how to be a woman.

Sound familiar?  Our lovely Prime Minister Tones has often instructed us on how to be women.

The Maiden’s Vow

(A speaker at the National Education Association advised girls not to study algebra.  Many girls, he said, had lost their souls through this study.  The idea has been taken up with enthusiasm)

I will avoid equations,
And shun the naughty surd,
I must beware the perfect square,
Through it young girls have erred:
And when men mention Rule of Three
Pretend I have not heard.

Through Strum’s delightful theorems
Illicit joys assure,
Through permutations and combinations
My woman’s heart allure,
I’ll never study algebra,
But keep my spirit pure.

Miller studied mathematics and astronomy at college in the late 1800s, so she must have thought it terribly funny that someone was advising against learning algebra.  Of course, the idea that maths is hard and not for girls is a poison that still lingers today, thankfully though we’re not being told we’ll lose our souls if we study algebra (which I quite enjoy).  Though I do wonder why boy’s souls are more robust at surviving algebra.

“Oh, That ‘Twere Possible!”

With apologies to Lord Tennyson

(“The grant of suffrage to women is repugnant to instincts that strike their roots deep in the order of nature.  It runs counter to human reason, it flouts the teachings of experience and the admonitions of common sense.” N.Y. Times, Feb. 7, 1915.)

Oh, that ’twere possible
After those words inane
For me to read The TimesEver again!

When I was wont to read it
In the early morning hours,
In a mood ‘twist wrath and mirth,
I exclaimed: “Alas, Ye Powers, These ideas are fainter, quainter
Than anything on earth!”

A paper’s laid before me.
Not thou, not like to thee.
Dear me, if it were possibleThe Times should ever see
How very far the times have moved(Spelt with a little “t”).

The Times Editorials

Lovely Antiques, breathing in every line
The perfume of an age long passed away,
Wafting us back to 1829,
Museum pieces of a by-gone day,
You should not languish in the public press
Where modern though might reach and do you harm,
And vulgar youth insult your hoariness,
Missing the flavour of your old world charm;
You should be locked, where rust cannot corrode
In some old rosewood cabinet, dimmed by age,With silver-lustre, tortoise shell and Spode;
And all would cry, who read your yellowing page:”Yes, that’s the sort of thing that men believed
Before the First Reform Bill was conceived!”

And this is certainly how I feel about The Australian and most of Murdoch press.

Why We Oppose Pockets for Women

  1. Because pockets are not a natural right.
  2. Because the great majority of women do not want pockets.  If they did, they would have them.
  3. Because whenever women have had pockets they have not used them
  4. Because women are required to carry enough things as it is, without the additional burden of pockets
  5. Because it would make dissension between husband and wife as to whose pockets were to be filled.
  6. Because it would destroy men’s chivalry toward women, if he did not have to carry all her things in his pockets.
  7. Because men are men, and women are women.  We must not fly in the face of nature.
  8. Because pockets have been used by men to carry tobacco, pipes, whiskey flasks, chewing gum and compromising letters.  We see no reason to suppose that women would not use them more wisely.

Given the dearth of pockets on women’s clothing today, I can only assume that fashion designers took this to heart and have been denying us pockets.

But Then Who Cares for Figures

An argument sometimes used against paying women as highly as men for the same work is that women are only temporarily in industry.

Forty-four percent of the women teachers in the public schools have been more than ten years in the service, while only twenty-six per cent of the men teachers have served as long.

The Bundesrath of Germany has decided to furnish medical and financial assistance to women at the time of childbirth, in order “to alleviate the anxiety of husbands at the front.”

How strange this would sound: “The Bundesrath has decided to furnish medical assistance to the wounded at the front, in order to alleviate the anxiety of wives and mothers at home.”

When a benefit is suggested for men, the question asked is: “Will it benefit men?”

When a benefit is suggested for women, the question is: “Will it benefit men?”

I suspect that this final question still holds true today, even though it’s pretty awful.

Why We Oppose Votes for Men

  1. Because man’s place is the armory.
  2. Because no really manly man wants to settle any question otherwise than by fighting about it.
  3. Because if men should adopt peaceable methods women will no longer look up at them.
  4. Because men will lose their charm if they step out of their natural sphere and interest themselves in other matters than feats of arms, uniforms and drums.
  5. Because men are too emotional to vote.  Their conduct at baseball games and political conventions shows this, while their innate tendency to fore renders them peculiarly unfit for the task of government.

“Mother, what is a Feminist?”
“A Feminist, my daughter,
Is any woman now who cares
To think about her own affairs
As men don’t think she oughter.”

I love that this still holds true today.  I’m tempted to get this on a T-shirt.


Last year the shops were crowded
With soldier suits and guns –
The presents that at Christmas time
We give our little sons;
And many a glittering trumpet
And many a sword and drum;
But as they’re made in Germany
This year they will not come.
Perhaps another season
We shall not give our boys
Such very warlike playthings,
Such military toys;
Perhaps another seasons
We shall not think it sweet
To watch their games of solder men,
Who dream not of defeat.

Related Posts:

Let’s talk about Doctor Who, story telling and character development

This post is going to be about the most recent (2012/2013) series of Doctor Who and may touch on the 2013, 50th Anniversary episode, and the 2013 Christmas special.  If you haven’t watched any of these, and don’t want the spoilers ahead, have a kittie and enjoy the rest of the internet.

Ok, let’s get started

Story telling

It’s not that Moffat can’t tell a good story, well maybe it is.  Coupling was funny, but is based on his life, and Sherlock is based on Arthur Conan Doyle’s work, so maybe he can’t tell a good story.  What really annoyed me about this entire season (minus 50th anniversary special and the Christmas episode), was that the story arc, and apparently there was one, was pretty much non-existent.  The Christmas episode ended with the disbandment of “The Great Intelligence” so that it would be a long time before it could threaten the earth, or the galaxy or something.

The first episode of 2013 had a cameo appearance of the Great Intelligence (a seriously wanky name for a villain), that the Doctor doesn’t notice, but is a suggestion to the viewer that something more might come from this.

And then nothing, nothing concrete about the Great Intelligence until the final episode when we discover that the Great Intelligence is pissed at the Doctor for constantly upsetting his plans, the plans we should note that have never really happened during this season apart from the 2012 Christmas special and the first episode in 2013.  That’s two whole plans in a season, that’s not plans, that’s a side story that something forgot.

It turns out that the Great Intelligence has a massive backstory, but as a minor reoccurring villain the average fan, especially new fans, are not going to have the foggiest idea what is going on.  This is not a story arc, this is a shoehorned “let’s make everything neat and tidy and pretend we had a plan”.

River Song

The Name of the Doctor (final episode of this season), casts the Doctor as a selfish arsehole.  It’s not exactly like it’s hard to cast him like that, in an earlier season River Song tells Amy not to grow old in front of the Doctor, that it upsets him (oh woe, poor Doctor who has been associating with humans for at least 1000 years, he should be used to it).

After Clara has done something of her own volition for a change (more on that later), River attempts to stop the Doctor entering the bright shiny thing, and only at this point does the Doctor acknowledge that he can see her.  We find out that at this point in her timeline she’s dead, but is effectively haunting the doctor because he hasn’t said goodbye, and he’s been ignoring her because it’s painful.  Quite frankly I think being dead and haunting someone who won’t say goodbye to you is more painful than the Doctor’s fee fees (especially as her death was pretty tragic), but he is important man, so his feelings are totes more important that River’s, and she’s dead anyway.


Clara spends most of this season doing what’s she’s told.  Protect this, go there, do this, stay here, and this follows through until the 2013 Christmas episode.  When she does do her own thing, it’s often to save the Doctor from something or someone, or to beg someone else to take action to save the doctor.  She’s a stereotypical female character, feisty, determined, somewhat argumentative (but only to a point), and wants to have all the fun – except when she doesn’t.

The sad thing about the character of Clara is that there was a lot of potential for mystery and exploration of why she was always around saving the Doctor.  There should have been (given the ending of the episode The Name of the Doctor) more attempts by the Doctor to remember if he’d run into her before, or only recently (because it was only recently as far as the current stories go).

The Doctor’s “Mysterious Girl”, and the resolution of why she keeps appearing in the Doctor’s life is apparently the true arc of this episode, but again it’s shoehorned in.  There is the Doctor pondering it, but instead of actually talking to people who might know (as he’s done in other seasons), or doing much beyond sometimes thinking about it (out loud), it’s not really the point of the season, even though it is.

The pregnant/not pregnant scan during an earlier season when it turned out that Amy was effectively a replicant/pod person (or whatever they were called), was quite well done, and on reflection you could see that the stories linked into each other as there was a common theme.  Clara is not a theme, she is a character.  You can’t really use a character like Clara as a theme in the same way as you can use a scan, or a series of words (Bad Wolf), or the scar in the universe.

And really the Doctor treats her like she’s 7 half the time.  He attempts to protect her, even when she doesn’t want protecting.  He breaks his promises to her about not leaving her behind, or about letting her join in the fight, and apparently this doesn’t piss her off enough to tell him to get fucked (and it should).  Unlike some of the other “companions” that the Doctor has recently, Clara obeys and sets out to do the best job obeying that she possibly can, except when she thinks she’s being left behind, in which case she’ll do what she can to stay and help/protect the doctor.

The Christmas episode

Which makes the Christmas episode all the more annoying.  Against Clara’s express wishes, and the Doctor’s own promise (and we didn’t see him cross his fingers), he sends her away, multiple times.  Clara fights to come back and manages the first time, but not the second, until she is brought back by the Tasha from the Church of the Papal Mainframe.  Seriously the Doctor is such an arsehole.

The Doctor spends over 300 years on Trenzalore, and for the first time, despite hanging around in his current form for a few hundred years, he ages and gets frail… how many hundreds of years, on a planet that is pretty much at war every day, does the Doctor stay there?  The planet’s population seems to not just survive, but also thrive despite being at war for over 300 years (that’s a lot of war), though I can be convinced that the war was more occasional incursions.

Once again Clara saves the day by begging the Time Lords (who just want to be set free so they can keep being the arseholes of the universe), to save the Doctor.  Her mission in life is to save the Doctor, she has no other purpose in this universe.  Sure she gets to look after children from time to time, but mostly she’s just off saving the Doctor.  It’s been remarked upon before that women in Moffat’s universe are the nurturing caring types and that’s pretty much all they get to be, and Clara pretty much just that.


Moffat really needs to stop being show runner.  He’s had lots of fun now, but the show will do better (and attract all the fans that have left because of him) if someone else took over.  The last season was so disappointing and frustrating because it was so badly put together.  Some of the stories were good, but I watched the season out of habit (and because I was travelling and watching TV during the heat of the Roman summer was a necessary thing).  I want to be gripped by the stories and the season arc like I was when Russell T Davies was running the show. I want the seasons to be as tight as Torchwood and as gripping, and this last season was a joke.

Doctor Who isn’t likely to drop in ratings anytime soon, because people are still watching it and still hoping for the magic to return.  It’s not going to return, and I’m beginning to lose interest in watching future episodes.  I’m vaguely interested in Peter Capaldi’s Doctor, but with Moffat running the show, I don’t know if I can be bothered.

Related Posts:

The biggest and most epic linkspam of all time (Jan 2014)

Thanks to my blog running out of bandwidth in early December, and then subsequent headaches as I migrated the entire thing to another provider (with more bandwidth), I didn’t get to do my linkspam post in early December, so this will be epically epic. Sit down, get some popcorn, and enjoy the stories.

Michael Shulman at the New York Times writes, “Bisexual: A Label With Layers” (which for some reason is in “fashion and style”):

Whatever the answer, Mr. Daley’s disclosure reignited a fraught conversation within the L.G.B.T. community, having to do with its third letter. Bisexuality, like chronic fatigue syndrome, is often assumed to be imaginary by those on the outside. The stereotypes abound: bisexuals are promiscuous, lying or in denial. They are gay men who can’t yet admit that they are gay, or “lesbians until graduation,” sowing wild oats before they find husbands.

“The reactions that you’re seeing are classic in terms of people not believing that bisexuality really exists, feeling that it’s a transitional stage or a form of being in the closet,” said Lisa Diamond, a professor at the University of Utah who studies sexual orientation.

Adam Mordacai presents a fantastic spoken word piece by Guante, at Upworthy, “If You Tell This Dude To ‘Man Up,’ You Better Be Prepared To Learn Why What You Said Is Awful

Colin Freeman at the The Telegraph writes, “Child taken from womb by social services“:

It will be raised in Parliament this week by John Hemming, a Liberal Democrat MP. He chairs the Public Family Law Reform Coordinating Campaign, which wants reform and greater openness in court proceedings involving family matters.

He said: “I have seen a number of cases of abuses of people’s rights in the family courts, but this has to be one of the more extreme.

“It involves the Court of Protection authorising a caesarean section without the person concerned being made aware of what was proposed. I worry about the way these decisions about a person’s mental capacity are being taken without any apparent concern as to the effect on the individual being affected.”

Benquo at LessWrong writes, “Wait vs Interrupt Culture”:

Then I went to St. John’s College – the talking school (among other things). In Seminar (and sometimes in Tutorials) there was a totally different conversational norm. People were always expected to wait until whoever was talking was done. People would apologize not just for interrupting someone who was already talking, but for accidentally saying something when someone else looked like they were about to speak. This seemed totally crazy. Some people would just blab on unchecked, and others didn’t get a chance to talk at all. Some people would ignore the norm and talk over others, and nobody interrupted them back to shoot them down.

But then a few interesting things happened:

1) The tutors were able to moderate the discussions, gently. They wouldn’t actually scold anyone for interrupting, but they would say something like, “That’s interesting, but I think Jane was still talking,” subtly pointing out a violation of the norm.

2) People started saying less at a time.

Maria Bello at The New York Times writes, “Coming Out as a Modern Family“:

My feelings about attachment and partnership have always been that they are fluid and evolving. Jack’s father, Dan, will always be my partner because we share Jack. Dan is the best father and the most wonderful man I’ve known. Just because our relationship is nonsexual doesn’t make him any less of a partner. We share the same core values, including putting our son first. My more recent ex, Bryn, remains my partner because we share our activism. And Clare will always be my partner because she is also my best friend.

Van Badham writes at Women’s Agenda, “Van Badham battles the Brosphere: On women, trolls and the Australian media in 2013“:

Perhaps due to the phenomenon of watching Australia’s first female prime minister forced, position notwithstanding, to suffer the sexist indignity so familiar to Australia’s working women, local feminist commentators have found a ripe readership for their opinions. Ripe enough, in fact, that many of the old mastheads are now commissioning from a pool of what used to be marginal activity. Discussions of rape culture, slut-shaming, abortion wars, the gender pay gap and sex discrimination are happening not in dingy ex-broom-closets in university union buildings or in photocopied newsletters mailed out irregularly from an underfunded women’s centre, but across the mainstream media – and every day.

Georgia Dent at Women’s Agenda, “Women need to work an extra 25 years to match men’s superannuation“:

The average 60-year-old Australian woman would need to work an extra 25 years in order to retire with the same superannuation account balance as her male counterpart.

The Westpac Women & Retirement Readiness Report, released yesterday, shows a $121,200 gap between the median super account balance for women and men ($108,900 and $230,100 respectively). This means a female earning an average wage of $51,200 would need to work until she is 85 to start her retirement on a level financial playing field.

Bob Owens at Bearing Arms writes, “Southport, NC cop shoots tased and restrained 90-pound HS student after allegedly stating, “we don’t have time for this.”*trigger warning – mental health, police violence*

It appears that the two officers that initially responded to the call had Keith Vidal calming down from his episode with a third officer arrived. The situation then immediately turned for the worse, and Vidal was tased repeatedly and was in the grip of two officers when the third officer reached in with his duty sidearm and killed him at point blank range.

Bridie Jabour at The Guardian writes, “History wars: the men behind the national school curriculum review” and gives a run down on Kevin Donnelly and Ken Wiltshire.

Preston Towers at AusOpinion writes, ““Everyone’s an Expert on Education” – Pyne’s Education Revolution of Two Men“:

An extraordinary timeline. First of all – the review by Donnelly and Wiltshire is supposed to take 4 months. 4 months to consult educators, administrators and legislators in every state and territory, analyse the education system of other countries. That sounds like they’ll only have time for “talking to a few friends”, rather than broadly consulting.  Next, that the changes recommended will be implemented in 2015.  How Pyne suggests schools will be able to get time for teachers to rewrite programs is not mentioned, nor is how the review from Donnelly and Wiltshire will be converted to outcomes that could be easily integrated.  Programs for 2015 in Years 8 and 10 will start to be written in Term 1 this year – many schools would have already finished them. It’s been one of the largely program rewrites in the past decades of teaching and Pyne wants schools to change the programs within six months?  I would suggest school systems – not just public ones – may have a problem with this.

gradient lair writes, “10 Ways That White Feminist and White Anti-Racism Allies Are Abusive To Me In Social Media

The idea that I should simply overlook these irritating and manipulative passive aggressive behaviors, ones that occur hundreds of times a month (not hyperbole) simply because these Whites on the Left don’t tweet me direct slurs (some do use coded racist language though) is something that doesn’t sit well with me. Microaggressions harm. Occurring regularly over time has just as much impact as dealing with less frequent incidents of overt racism and the day to day of dealings with institutional racism.

Victoria Bond at HuffPost Gay Voices (still problematic) writes, “Three Problems for Bisexuality“:

Connor at The Independent put the sexual revolution front and center rightly. The work of psychologist Roy Baumeister, for example, supports that the sexual revolution impacted women’s lives much more than it did those of men. But Connor obscures the main point of female sexuality’s adaptability (pointing toward bisexuality in the case of same-sex contact) by pitting the findings on women against those of men, those of “the standard.” Connor’s reading of women as “catching up with men,” implies we are behind and also tacitly considered less than men. Freud himself immortalized the inferiority with which women are commonly regarded in his most famous question: “What do women want?” Women’s desires may even in the 21st century remain mysterious irrespective of how many answers feminism and one of its many offshoots, like the work-life balance debate, for example, has provided. All the same science is not clueless. This “women are mysterious because we’re not like men” crap is just that: crap. Chivers’s research at least lays the carnal aspect of female sexual desire bare. We are aroused by male-male, female-female, female-male and even, to some degree, animal sounds. In other words, female desire is flexible. Given this is the case doesn’t it make sense that women would be more profoundly adaptable to the evolution the sexual revolution set off and that men’s numbers remain steady, due to how little we have allowed the sexual revolution to really touch them? Especially given their sexual wiring shows less changeability than ours.

Adam Clarke Estes of Gizmodo writes, “Your Face and Name Will Appear in Google Ads Starting Today“:

So how does that make you feel? Google obviously wants you to feel okay about the changes. The company assured users in its announcement blog post, “On Google, you’re in control of what you share.” (Emphasis Google’s) And that’s technically true. You can opt out of the face-flaunting new feature through this settings page in Google+, but if you don’t do anything, Google says it will use your information without explicit consent.

Celeste Liddle at Rantings of an Aboriginal Feminist wrote, “Further to my piece on sexism, racism and the AFL“:

In addition to the Brownlow Night point, I also feel it is important to look at women’s sport as a whole. Women work their guts out on the fields constantly. They work just as hard, if not harder, than the men. In comparison though, they receive very little recognition for their efforts and dedication. Their sponsorship is chicken feed and their professional earnings, with only a couple of exceptions, amount to pocket money in comparison to what men in AFL will make. In addition, society itself, due to a deeply embedded culture of believing women’s sport is not as good due to their lesser physical capabilities (or something) or that a woman’s place is not on the field. For further information, please revisit the kind of slurs you hear directed to male players when they are perceived to not be playing their best game. Our amazing Australian women’s cricket team which continually brings home the trophies gets zero recognition compared to our currently mediocre men’s team. Our almost unbeatable netballers get paid about $15k in their rookie year, compared to the $130k AFL players get. Each year, the Deadly Awards offer three sports categories for men to win in, one unisex category and one for women. You get my drift.

Annabel Crabb at the ABC wrote, “Pay cuts hurt, don’t they Prime Minister?

People don’t like pay cuts. It’s a uniquely insulting process to have to go through, as it entails not only a decline in quality of life, but a broader judgment, keenly-felt by the subject, that the world does not value what they do. And that is not a nice feeling.

We know that this feeling is universal, because it’s exactly how Tony Abbott felt, after losing 40 per cent of his income in 2007 when the Howard government lost power and he went back to a basic backbench salary.

“What’s it called? Mortgage stress? The advent of the Rudd Government has caused serious mortgage stress for a section of the Australian community, i.e. former Howard government ministers!” he said at the time.

Mark Pygas at Listverse writes, “10 Amazing Women Who Led Rebellions“:

Male revolutionaries such as Che Guevara have gone down as heroes for leading rebellions against “the Man.” But forgotten by history are the women who took on far greater powers than Fulgencio Batista. Throughout the ages, women have led rebellions and revolutions which took on the might of the Roman Empire and the vast wealth of the British East India Company.

Sarah Morrison at The Independent writes, “Russian bisexual activist Irina Putilova is released from detention and taken off fast-track asylum list“:

A woman who was facing deportation to Russia has been released from detention and taken off the tougher fast-track asylum system after thousands of people signed a petition to support her release.

Irina Putilova, a 28-year-old bisexual activist, left St Petersburg six months ago, after fearing for her safety. The activist talked to The Independent from Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre on Monday and said that under Russia’s new anti-gay legislation, which criminalises the promotion of non-heterosexual relationships, she did not feel safe to return home.  She added that it was “totally impossible” for her to be free in Russia as an LGBTQ person.

Katy Waldman at Slate writes, “Society Tells Men That Friendship Is Girly. Men Respond by Not Having Friends“:

American men are starving for friends, writes sociologist Lisa Wade in Salon. Or, more precisely, adult white heterosexual men have fewer friends than any other group. The friendships they do form are often superficial, involving less support and “lower levels of self-disclosure and trust.” The sad part is that surveys show that men desire closeness and intimacy from their male friends just as women do. So why don’t they have it? Around the age of 15 or 16, Wade suggests, friend-like traits such as emotional openness, vulnerability, supportiveness, and caring become risky for boys to show; these qualities get suppressed in favor of self-sufficiency, stoicism, and competitive fire.

Wade sifts through the work of researcher Niobe Way, who interviewed high-school boys over four years about their evolving same-sex bonds. One kid, Justin, said this about his best guy friend:

We love each other … that’s it … you have this thing that is deep, so deep, it’s within you, you can’t explain it. It’s just a thing that you know that person is that person … I guess in life, sometimes two people can really, really understand each other and really have a trust, respect and love for each other.

Three years later, Justin came down to earth:

[My friend and I] we mostly joke around. It’s not like really anything serious or whatever … I don’t talk to nobody about serious stuff … I don’t talk to nobody. I don’t share my feelings really. Not that kind of person or whatever … It’s just something that I don’t do.

Hugo Gye at the Mail Online writes, “Work – it’s not for girls: Most Britons still believe men make better plumbers and pilots and think women shouldn’t be soldiers or electricians“:

Gender stereotypes are not yet a thing of the past as a new survey reveals that many people still have strong opinions on which jobs are suitable for men and women.

Two-fifths of Britons believe there are some jobs which women should never do, including soldier, mechanic and surgeon.

A similar proportion think that men are unable to do some jobs properly, such as beautician, florist and nurse.

Doug Saunders at The Globe and Mail writes, “Britain has an ethnic problem: the English“:

Let’s face it: Britain has an ethnic problem. Its patchwork of peoples, once the envy of the world, has become frayed, its harmony devolving into anger and xenophobia. And, we should be honest, the problem is rooted in one ethnic group – one large but troubled people who are failing to integrate into modern postindustrial society.

While some of its more ambitious members have found success in politics and business, this community is falling behind educationally and economically as a whole, self-segregating into ethnic enclaves, becoming increasingly prone to violence, rioting and substance abuse. More troubling, in recent years they have begun to vote for ethnic extremist parties that threaten to undermine basic British values.

Who are these people? The English. Once a tolerant, welcoming people who thrived in scholarship and commerce, they have become a drag on British society.

Janell Ross at The Root writes, “Racism Linked to Infant Mortality and Learning Disabilities“:

On the long list of health disparities that vex and disproportionately affect the lives of African Americans—diabetes, cancer and obesity among them—one of the earliest and, it turns out, most significant, may be just when a black child is born.

A pair of Emory University studies released this year have connected the large share of African-American children born before term with the biologically detectable effects of stress created in women’s bodies after decades of dealing with American racism. As shocking as that itself may sound, the studies’ findings don’t end there.

Racism, and its ability to increase the odds that a pregnant mother will deliver her child early, can kill. There is also evidence that racism can alter the capacity for a child to learn and distorts lives in ways that can reproduce inequality, poverty and long-term disadvantage, the studies found.

Sean Strub at HuffPost Gay Voices (still problematic) writes, “Kenneth Cole Needs a History Lesson“:

The “first AIDS research organization” was actually the AIDS Medical Foundation, which preceded amfAR by two-and-a-half years and was founded by people with AIDS, including Michael Callen, Dr. Joseph Sonnabend, a pioneering researcher and community physician and Dr. Krim (pictured on right; photo by Peter Serling). Sonnabend knew Krim from interferon research and had asked for her help in raising money to study his sick patients. The partner of one of Sonnabend’s patients — an African American, I might add, whose role has also been largely lost to history — suggested formation of a foundation to pursue research drawing on Sonnabend’s pool of patients.

At the Gamma Project, “Is The Bisexual Experience different?“:

I started at Gamma Project with former experience counselling gay and lesbian clients in similar community settings. At the time I felt my previous knowledge was easily transferable to bisexual men and their concerns. After several counselling sessions with a variety of bisexual clients I was convinced otherwise and surprised how different this client group was to my previous client group, the gay and lesbian community.

What stayed with me most was that many of my client’s stories had an underlying theme of isolation and secrecy. It didn’t matter if I was talking to transsexual clients who were waiting to dress up at home once their wives and families had left, or if I was engaging with married and sexually loyal bisexual men who were yearning for male friends to share their emotional life – their common concern was a craving for being accepted and acknowledged.

Nitasha Tiku writes at Valley Wag, “Paul Graham Says Women “Haven’t Been Hacking For the Past 10 Years”“:

Okay. Deep breaths. Still with me? Graham makes clear in this interview that people who do not fit into the archetype of the precocious programmer are routinely dismissed as unworthy. That archetype, of course, is usually attached to a penis. No wonder Graham once said he can be “tricked by anyone who looks like Mark Zuckerberg.” If you’re a female engineer who found her interest in STEM education squashed early in life by gender norms, but had the guts to try again later, your cred as a coder is questionable. If you’ve been programming for the past 10 years, rip off your invisibility cloak because Graham has never seen the likes of you. That must be why Graham’s wife Jessica Livingston, who cofounded Y Combinator and has been instrumental from the beginning, is the institution’s “secret weapon.”

Will Ripley at 9news.com writes, “Transgender woman’s lawsuit leads to CDC policy change for breast cancer screenings“:

When Blair tried getting a free mammogram this spring, she never imagined what would happen.

“When I was told that I didn’t qualify because I was transgender, that just really shook my foundations,” Blair said. “I’m really no different than anybody else.”

Her income at the time was below the poverty line and she met all the requirements, except one: CDC policy only covered “genetically female” patients.

Ray Filar at The Guardian writes, “Where were all the lesbians in Queer as Pop?“:

In these post-Queer as Folk times, the word “queer” is rarely said on TV. Not with any approval, anyway. That might be why Channel 4’s documentary Queer as Pop: From Gay Scene to Mainstream, initially seemed so exciting. If you’re part of a subculture whose existence is generally ignored – despite its considerable influence on wider culture – you grasp at any mainstream attempt at representation.

Yet in promising to explore “the men, music and moments that have brought pop music out the closet”, this documentary replicated mainstream prejudices by writing women out of its cultural history. Featuring a bland narrative peppered with sweeping generalisations (including the frankly fantastic claim that David Bowie putting his arm around guitarist Mick Ronson on stage was “more important in British pop culture than all the Pride marches, and Stonewall”), the show was livened only by the undeniably great pop music.

Jack Weatherford at Lapham’s Quarterly writes, “The Wrestler Princess“:

Although mentioned in a variety of Muslim sources as well as in the accounts of Marco Polo, Khutulun almost disappeared into the fog of historic myth. Only by chance was the story of the wrestling princess resurrected in a twisted way in the eighteenth century. In 1710, while writing the first biography of Genghis Khan, the French scholar François Pétis de La Croix published a book of tales and fables combining various Asian literary themes. One of his longest and best stories derived from the history of Khutulun. In his adaptation, however, she bore the title Turandot, meaning “Turkish Daughter,” the nineteen-year-old daughter of Altoun Khan, the Mongol emperor of China. Instead of challenging her suitors in wrestling, Pétis de La Croix had her confront them with three riddles. In his more dramatic version, instead of wagering mere horses, the suitor had to forfeit his life if he failed to answer correctly.

Fifty years later, the popular Italian playwright Carlo Gozzi made her story into a drama of a “tigerish woman” of “unrelenting pride.” In a combined effort by two of the greatest literary talents of the era, Friedrich von Schiller translated the play into German as Turandot, Prinzessin von China, and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe directed it on the stage in Weimar in 1802.

More than a century later, Italian composer Giacomo Puccini was still working on his opera Turandot at the time of his death 1924. Unlike his other operatic heroine, Madame Butterfly who lived and died for the love of a man, Turandot rejected any man whom she deemed inferior to her. His opera became the most famous of the artistic variations of her life’s story.

Katie W at The Toast writes, “Misandrist Animals“:

The anglerfish swims. She spends her life in the deep darkness of the sea. She notices little outside of herself, only the glow of the occasional passing edible fish and the movement in water created by those too big to be seen in the darkness. Encounters with other creatures happen so far in between that, most of the time, she believes herself to be the only one. She forgets that her swimming is a purposeful search for food; in time, she forgets everything but herself. The majority of her life is spent in darkness, alone. Her interactions with the males of the species are cut short-she notices them briefly as the find her, but then they bite and merge and lose themselves in the worship of her, and she no longer remembers their existence. She does not acknowledge the others who were when she lays eggs, because by the time she is ready, they no longer exist; they are a part of her. They are a tail, a fin, a reproductive organ hanging off of her magnificent surface. The anglerfish requires nothing but the intermittent fish meal: a sacrifice to her altar. Knowing herself to be a god, the anglerfish swims as a prayer to the only creature in the void.

Adina Nack at Girl w/Pen! writes, “Healthy Relationships and Families – Beyond Monogamy“:

Yes, poly women say that they relish the opportunity to have multiple partners. The equality of allowing everyone access to multiple partners, regardless of gender, means that polyamory has a significantly different impact on women than polygyny. Women in poly relationships tend to be highly-educated and able to be financially independent if circumstances require – a significant departure from women in polygynous marriages who are typically denied education and access to paid work. Poly women generally chose the relationship style as adults, rather than entering arranged marriages as adolescents who may not have even been consulted about their wishes. Results of this gender parity are evident at the community level, in which most of the high-visibility leaders, activists, writers, and researchers are women.

Charlotte Shane at The New Inquiry writes, “Downward-Facing Drones“:

I’ve heard particularly devout practioners claim that yoga, if it were even more widely practiced than it already is, would eliminate murder and soothe tensions between nations. It’s common knowledge among yoga devotees that if only politicians did yoga, civility would be restored to our government. (It’s less commonly known that Congressional gyms already offer regular yoga classes.)

Speculations like this might seem too facile to be worth criticizing, but they’re a symptom of prizing the body as a foolproof thoroughfare to one’s heart. Though Americans may treat sports heroes as gods and resist acknowledging their obvious flaws, rarely does a form of exercise itself convey the philosophy that physical prowess leads to holiness.

Laurie Penny at New Statesman writes, “Sherlock and the Adventure of the Overzealous Fanbase“:

Fan-ficcers are used to being treated as the pondscum of the nerd world, a few slimy feet below the table-top roleplayers and historical re-enacters. They don’t care, because they know – alright, alright, because we know – that fanfic is brilliant. I’ve spent many years hanging out in fanfic communities, mostly as a reader rather than a writer (my cringeworthy teenage Buffy slash was mostly done on paper). Fan fiction is where modern storytelling enters the realm of myth and folktale, where characters take on a life beyond the control of their authors, where they are let loose in communities with their own ideas about how to tell a story. More and more writers are coming out of those communities – not just E L James with her steamy Twilight rip-off, but fanficcers who break out into publishing their own original books, sometimes to great critical acclaim.

Excuse me, by the way, from taking a break from serious social justice writing to totally nerd out. It’s just that I’m desperately interested in stories, and who gets to tell them, and who has to listen.

Barbara Ehrenreich at The Atlantic writes, “It Is Expensive to Be Poor“:

For most women in poverty, in both good times and bad, the shortage of money arises largely from inadequate wages. When I worked on my book, Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America, I took jobs as a waitress, nursing-home aide, hotel housekeeper, Wal-Mart associate, and a maid with a house-cleaning service. I did not choose these jobs because they were low-paying. I chose them because these are the entry-level jobs most readily available to women.

What I discovered is that in many ways, these jobs are a trap: They pay so little that you cannot accumulate even a couple of hundred dollars to help you make the transition to a better-paying job. They often give you no control over your work schedule, making it impossible to arrange for child care or take a second job. And in many of these jobs, even young women soon begin to experience the physical deterioration—especially knee and back problems—that can bring a painful end to their work life.

Michelle Nijhuis writes at Slate, “Bilbo Baggins Is a Girl“:

And you know what? The switch was easy. Bilbo, it turns out, makes a terrific heroine. She’s tough, resourceful, humble, funny, and uses her wits to make off with a spectacular piece of jewelry. Perhaps most importantly, she never makes an issue of her gender—and neither does anyone else.

Despite what can seem like a profusion of heroines in kids’ books, girls are still underrepresented in children’s literature. A 2011 study of almost 6,000 children’s books published between 1900 and 2000 showed that only 31 percent had female central characters. While the disparity has declined in recent years, it persists—particularly, and interestingly, among animal characters. And many books with female protagonists take place in male-dominated worlds, peopled with male doctors and male farmers and mothers who have to ask fathers for grocery money (Richard Scarry, I’m looking at you). The imbalance is even worse in kids’ movies: Geena Davis’ Institute on Gender in Media found that for every female character in recent family films, there are three male characters. Crowd scenes, on average, are only 17 percent female.

Susana Polo at The Mary Sue wrote, “The Two Most Inexplicable Examples of Video Game Community Harassment This Week“:

In my title I call each of these examples of harassment “inexplicable,” even though they have clear explanations: some folks are uncomfortable with a woman making video games. Some folks are uncomfortable with a perceived feminist being involved in their video games. But “inexplicable” was really my first reaction: you mean a bit of gender swapped fan art led to backers demanding that heads roll and money be refunded? That an interactive fiction game placed on Steam Greenlight would incite an internet community that apparently believes that because they have the attention of men, women can never suffer from depression?

Dr. Elisabeth A. Sheff at Psychology Today writes, “Fear of the Polyamorous Possibility“:

Coming to the realization that there is an option to have openly conducted non-monogamous relationships is what I call the polyamorous possibility. Once people become aware that there is middle-ground between monogamy and cheating they have grasped the polyamorous possibility, and can never unthink it again. They may reject the idea or decide to explore it further, but the potential for themselves or their partner to initiate discussion of a polyamorous relationship exists in a way it had not before they became aware that polyamory is a social option. In my research, I have found that three common reactions follow realization of the polyamorous possibility.

Annie-Rose Strasser at Think Progress writes, “Fox Guest Encourages Female Host To Quit, Get Married, Have Babies“:

In the piece, Venker argues that women won’t find fulfillment trying to balance a relationship and family with full-time work. “Financial independence is a great thing,” she writes, “but you can’t take your paycheck to bed with you. And there’s nothing empowering about being beholden to an employer when what you really want is to have a baby. ” She uses this opinion to advocate for women having less of a role in the workforce, and letting men be the breadwinners. “Unlike women,” Venker writes, “a man’s identity is inextricably linked to his paycheck.”

Tracey Lien at Polygon writes, “No girls allowed“:

If the selection at the average retailer is anything to go by, girls don’t play video games. If cultural stereotypes are anything to go by, video games are for males. They’re the makers, the buyers and the players.

There is often truth to stereotypes. But whatever truth there may be, the stereotype does not show the long and complicated path taken to formulate it, spread it and have it come back to shape societal views.

The stereotype, for example, does not explain why “girls don’t play video games.” It does not reveal who or what is responsible for it. It does not explain how an industry that started with games like Pong (1972) or the first computer version of Tic-Tac-Toe (1959) came to be responsible for a medium that, for most of its history, hasn’t had even an aisle’s worth of games for Maida.

ReBecca Theodore-Vachon at RogerEbert.com writes, “Acting right around White folks: on “12 Years a Slave” and “respectability politics”“:

In his article “I Hate Myself: What Are Respectability Politics And Why Do Black People Subscribe To Them?”, Maurice Dolberry defines Black Respectability: “They are an undefined yet understood set of ideas about how Black people should live positively and how we should define Black American culture.” Dolberry traces the roots of this ideology as far back as the 19th century with the formation of the Women’s Convention – a group of Black women from various Baptist churches whose mission was to uplift and unify the African-American community. One of their missions was to go into poorer communities, handing out flyers that instructed them how to behave properly in public, proper hygeine and the importance of sexual abstinence. Unfortunately, Black Respectability politics would only target those of lesser economic means.

Even noted Black intellectuals like W.E.B. DuBois engaged in respectability politics. In his 1920 essay “The Damnation of Women,” DuBois described abolitionists Sojourner Truth and Harriet Tubman as “strong, primitive types of Negro womanhood,” and hoped for a “finer, type of black woman wherein trembles all of that delicate sense of beauty and striving for self-realization.” While DuBois appreciated both women’s contributions to the end slavery, their physical appearance and socioeconomic background did not qualify them as the right kind of “Negro” DuBois desired.

Dr. Jill McDevitt at A Day in the Life of a Sexologist wrote, “I accompanied someone to the police station to report a sexual assault, and this is what happened*trigger warning for discussion of rape, rape apologia, and arsehats*

Amanda Hess at the Pacific Standard wrote, “Why Women Aren’t Welcome on the Internet“: *trigger warning for online harassment*

A woman doesn’t even need to occupy a professional writing perch at a prominent platform to become a target. According to a 2005 report by the Pew Research Center, which has been tracking the online lives of Americans for more than a decade, women and men have been logging on in equal numbers since 2000, but the vilest communications are still disproportionately lobbed at women. We are more likely to report being stalked and harassed on the Internet—of the 3,787 people who reported harassing incidents from 2000 to 2012 to the volunteer organization Working to Halt Online Abuse, 72.5 percent were female. Sometimes, the abuse can get physical: A Pew survey reported that five percent of women who used the Internet said “something happened online” that led them into “physical danger.” And it starts young: Teenage girls are significantly more likely to be cyberbullied than boys. Just appearing as a woman online, it seems, can be enough to inspire abuse. In 2006, researchers from the University of Maryland set up a bunch of fake online accounts and then dispatched them into chat rooms. Accounts with feminine usernames incurred an average of 100 sexually explicit or threatening messages a day. Masculine names received 3.7.

Related Posts:

Getting it wrong (again)

This post is going to discuss the second book and movie in the Hunger Games Trilogy, Catching Fire.  There will be discussion of the plot, so if you haven’t read or watched the movie and don’t want to be spoiled, wander away now.

I love the Hunger Games series.  I love the writing, I love the depth of the characters, and I love that the main character is an incredibly traumatised teenager who is doing her best to protect those she loves and who tries to be strong despite suffering from untreated PTSD.

Jason Kottke put together quotes from two interesting posts on Gender Roles and Monogamy in the Hunger Games,  and the quotes are interesting (I haven’t yet read them in full), and then he makes an incredibly gendered slur and messes the whole post up.

Maybe this is why the end of Catching Fire (minor spoilers!) — Katniss as the cliched irrational hysterical woman who can’t be trusted with information — felt so out of place compared to her gender fluidity throughout the rest of the movie.

Now, I don’t know if Kottke has actually read the books, but he clearly failed to grasp the second last scene of the movie.  Katniss (who is a teenager and I think that really needs to be kept in mind), wakes up in a Captiol aircraft, after thinking she was dead.  She takes off the oxygen mask, pulls the drip out of her arm and grabs the first weapon to hand – because she’s not only traumatised, she’s also rightly paranoid.  She listens to the voices on the other side of a door, and then charges in asking where Peeta is.

When she discovers who is on the other side of the door, and that Peeta isn’t there she is upset and furious.  She is not “hysterical” which is a gendered slur.  She is not “irrational”, another gendered slur.  She is upset that Peeta has been left behind because she knows what will happen to him, after watching the beating of Cinna at the beginning of the Quarter Quell.

And the reasons that Haymitch gave her for not letting her in on the plot was actually entirely reasonable, Snow was watching her, and with them watching her, the rest of them were free to wheel, deal and do everything else behind her.  It was in everyone’s interest that she not be told.  I didn’t see her fury at being kept in the dark about that, but about the fact that the promises made to her that Peeta would be kept safe even if she dies, were betrayed.  She cared more about him living than she did about herself, and those who had made promises to keep him safe had broken those promises.  Of course she was pissed off, she had every right to be.  She was not irrational and she was not hysterical.

Related Posts:

Stereotype threat in the workplace

This is a slightly edited copy of a blog post I wrote at work.  We’re encouraged to blog about stuff, so I decided to blog about work related feminism – because why not.

I first learnt about stereotype threat a couple of years ago while reading the book Delusions of Gender: How Our Minds, Society, and Neurosexism Create Difference by Cordelia Fine, an Associate Professor at Melbourne Business School, Australia, and a Senior Research Fellow at the Department of Psychological Sciences at the University of Melbourne, Australia.  Dr Fine explained stereotype threat in an interview following the release of her book as follows:

When we’re trying to do something that’s traditionally regarded as being the specialty of the other sex – for example, maths or understanding another person’s thoughts and feelings – we do so under the cloud of ‘stereotype threat’. Gender stereotypes are primed in our mind, and this interferes with our ability and interest in the task. There’s a growing body of fascinating research into this phenomenon, trying to unravel how and why it happens. But what I find most striking are the studies that show what happen when you blow the cloud of stereotype threat away. You can do this, for example, simply by telling women that on the maths test they’re about to take, women do just as well as men. And when you do, women perform significantly better than you’d expect from their course or test scores. As Catherine Good and her colleagues have put it, dispersing stereotype threat unleashes mathematical potential in women that is usually suppressed.

In another interview Dr Fine added that stereotype threat:

… refers to the difficulty for people who belong to a group stereotypically seen as being not very good at a particular thing they’re trying to do. For a woman doing a math test, she has an acquired stereotype threat that if you do badly, people are going to judge you because you’re a woman and that you’re going to confirm what everyone already “knew,” that women are bad at math. It creates a whole host of harmful psychological effects in people’s minds. And psychologists have discovered if you make gender seem not relevant to a task, then men and women perform equally well. Right now, when it comes to women in traditional male domains, it’s like a track star running into a headwind — their performance is impeded.

Caryn J. Block, Sandy M. Koch, Benjamin E. Liberman, Tarani J. Merriweather, and Loriann Roberson published an academic paper, “Contending With Stereotype Threat at Work: A Model of Long-Term Responses“, looking at the long-term impact of stereotype threat in the workplace.  Block et al (2011, pg 573) state:

Thus, when an individual encounters a situation where there is a negative stereotype about his or her group, that individual will experience heightened arousal, resulting in fewer cognitive resources available for performing the task. These cognitive resources are tied up in self-regulatory thoughts such as task-related worry and negative thoughts about one’s own performance. This can result in a cycle of lowered performance and lowered expectations for performance in this domain.

Block et al (2011) are concerned that the longer someone experiences stereotype threat, the greater the impact on their self-esteem, and the more likely they are to feel “discouraged and depressed if they are unable to meet their goals” (pg 578-579).  Stereotype threat can lead to individuals feeling that they have to prove that they are not like the stereotype and work at disassociating themselves from their social identity group, which may be a short-term fix, but not one that can be sustained long-term without negative effects (Block et al 2011).

Block et al (2011) do suggest that there are ways to combat stereotype threat in the workplace that will help individuals with combating the negative effects of it.  Two of the main strategies focus on building resilience and finding positive ways to identify with your group (pg 584):

Collective Action Another strategy used in resilience is seeking to change the context so that it is more inclusive for those who share one’s identity through collective action (Roberts, 2005). There are many contextual factors that create the conditions for stereotype threat, such as skewed demographics and a pressure to assimilate to the dominant culture or buy into workplace norms (Steele et al., 2002). When individuals realize that they are not alone in contending against negative stereotypes, they may choose to join with others in an effort to change the context. These group-level strategies consist of engaging in collective action and social change for the betterment of the group’s welfare. Many large corporations have employee network and affinity groups that provide social support, developmental opportunities, and advocacy for women, people of color, and LGBT employees. The National Science Foundation’s ADVANCE program for the advancement of women in science and engineering careers has a national agenda that serves to change the context for women scientists by increasing representation and retention of women in science, fostering an environment that will result in leadership among women and shifting institutional cultural norms that are more inclusive.

Redefining criteria for success. A further strategy used in response to stereotype threat when resilient is to redefine one’s own criteria for success at work. This involves establishing what success means on one’s own terms, not based on others’ standards for evaluation or upward progression (Steele et al., 2002). It incorporates shifting priorities to what one values and choosing to acknowledge that as a standard by which to measure success.

The good news for my workplace is that they support and actively encourage employee network groups such as Women in Technology and an LGBTI network.  They promotes diversity as a positive attribute within the company, recognising that a diverse company that is as diverse as the population base it operates in, is an overall positive and that supporting employees to feel that they belong and are valued results in higher productivity and loyalty. Their support of employee network and affinity groups reduces overall stereotype threat for those employees who are affected by it.  The other programs that my employer has in place, such as supporting women in senior technical and people manager positions also significantly reduces the effects of stereotype threat.

Related Posts:

The linkspam of ARGH ARGH GET IT OFF ME

So I had a terrible fright the other night while driving home that a spider had crawled down the back of my shirt.  It ended up being a very dead moth, after smearing it all over my shirt and back, and a very frightened me.  Now that my panic of creepy crawly things has passed, I thought I’d share some great links with you that I’ve found over the past month.

First up is a post from Eve Rickert, guest posting at Solopoly, “Slippery language and couple-centric polyamory“, which I pretty much agree with all of:

Part of what Franklin and I are trying to do with our book is to reflect the real diversity of structures and approaches that polyamorous people adopt. We’re trying to break free from the couple-centric approach that has long characterized so much of the writing and discourse about polyamory, even on Franklin’s own site. In this process, we’re learning that language can be very slippery. Many common phrases that poly people use — even those who don’t practice hierarchical polyamory — reflect a couple-centric viewpoint. It’s damn hard to root these out.

Greta Christina featured a guest post from Franklin Veaux (the Franklin referred to above), “More Than Two: Guest Post on Ethical Polyamory from Franklin Veaux“:

It’s difficult to talk about polyamory without hearing the expression “ethical non-monogamy.” There’s a bit of a sticky wicket, though, in that we rarely talk about the definition of “ethical,” beyond the obvious “don’t lie to your partners.” That’s a good start, sure, but it’s not enough to construct an entire foundation of relationship ethics on. When we’re living in a society that proscribes everything except heterosexual marriage between exactly two cisgendered people of opposite sexes, how do we even start talking about what makes an ethical non-monogamous relationship? Where do we turn for ethics? What distinguishes an ethical relationship from a non-ethical one? Are ethical relationships egalitarian, and if so, how does that align with BDSM relationships that are deliberately constructed along the lines of power exchange? If two people make an agreement and then present that agreement unilaterally to a third person, who is given few options other than accept the agreement as-is or walk away, is that ethical? What happens when people make relationship agreements, and then their needs change? What are ethical ways of revisiting and renegotiating previous agreements? How do we even define “ethics” in the first place, without resorting to religious or social conventions? What does it take for a person to make ethical relationship choices that aren’t aligned with a religious tradition or a cultural norm?

Laurie Penny New Statesman writes, “Society needs to get over its harmful obsession with labelling us all girls or boys“:

There are many conditions that can cause a person to be biologically intersex. Stories about the “third gender”, about gods and humans who weren’t quite men or women, have been with us for millennia, but there has long been pressure on doctors and parents to “fix” any baby who isn’t obviously either a boy or a girl. This often entails intimate surgery that is performed when the child is too young to consent. Traumatic reports about the effect this sort of procedure can have on kids when they grow up appear routinely in the tabloids – but the question of why, precisely, it is considered so urgent that every child be forced to behave like a “normal” boy or girl is rarely discussed.

Carl Zimmer at The New York Time’s Science section writes, “DNA Double Take“:

But scientists are discovering that — to a surprising degree — we contain genetic multitudes. Not long ago, researchers had thought it was rare for the cells in a single healthy person to differ genetically in a significant way. But scientists are finding that it’s quite common for an individual to have multiple genomes. Some people, for example, have groups of cells with mutations that are not found in the rest of the body. Some have genomes that came from other people.

“There have been whispers in the matrix about this for years, even decades, but only in a very hypothetical sense,” said Alexander Urban, a geneticist at Stanford University. Even three years ago, suggesting that there was widespread genetic variation in a single body would have been met with skepticism, he said. “You would have just run against the wall.”

But a series of recent papers by Dr. Urban and others has demonstrated that those whispers were not just hypothetical. The variation in the genomes found in a single person is too large to be ignored. “We now know it’s there,” Dr. Urban said. “Now we’re mapping this new continent.”

Rebecca Hiles at XOJane writes, “How Not To Be A Dick To To Your Polyamorous Friend“:

While the vast majority of my friends and family were incredibly understanding when I came out as polyamorous, some had questions and criticisms. Even now, after about 4 years of being publically polyamorous, I know quite a few people who just “don’t get” polyamory.

While discussing relationship structures which may be unfamiliar to you can be a bit awkward, and lead to misunderstandings, it is important to ask questions rather than passing judgements or making blind assumptions.

Clare Foran at The Atalantic Cities writes, “How to Design a City for Women“:

The majority of men reported using either a car or public transit twice a day — to go to work in the morning and come home at night. Women, on the other hand, used the city’s network of sidewalks, bus routes, subway lines and streetcars more frequently and for a myriad reasons.

“The women had a much more varied pattern of movement,” Bauer recalls. “They were writing things like, ‘I take my kids to the doctor some mornings, then bring them to school before I go to work. Later, I help my mother buy groceries and bring my kids home on the metro.'”

Women used public transit more often and made more trips on foot than men. They were also more likely to split their time between work and family commitments like taking care of children and elderly parents. Recognizing this, city planners drafted a plan to improve pedestrian mobility and access to public transit.

Sarah Milstein at HuffPost Women writes, “5 Ways White Feminists Can Address Our Own Racism“:

Last month, the hashtag #SolidarityIsForWhiteWomen erupted on Twitter. Started by Mikki Kendall, it immediately became a channel for women of color to call out how implicit racial bias, double standards for women of different races and overt racism are all baked into mainstream white feminism. If you’ve been following feminism for the past 150 years, you probably weren’t surprised by the range of grievances. But if you’re a white feminist and you were surprised or you felt defensive or you think you’re not part of the problem, then now is the time to woman up, rethink your own role and help reshape feminism.

While there are many reasons white feminists have to do this work, Kendall’s hashtag highlighted an important one: we cannot credibly or successfully seek societal change when we ourselves create the same injustices we rail against. In other words, the problems we face as women are often the problems we create as white people.

Erin Rook at PQ writes, “International Leather SIR/boy Competition to Ban Trans Contestants“:

The board of directors for two international leather community events announced Sept. 22 that they will no longer permit trans men to enter the International Leather SIR/boy contest — contestants must be cisgender gay men.

The change comes after ownership of the contest changed hands from Mark Frazier to Jeffrey Payne about a year ago and as the organization expands opportunities for participation to a wider segment of the community be eliminating the requirement for contestants to advance through regional competitions.

According to Leatherati, Payne explained that the policy change harkens back to the old days of the contest, which only opened up to trans contestants five years ago in order to comply with California law.

Suzi Skinner at Women’s Agenda writes, “Three tips for talking about gender equality in a social setting“:

Discussing women in leadership, or gender equality in general, in a social setting can be illuminating. If your companions are supporters of the cause the conversation will flow and there is, usually, much for us to learn when this occurs. However, if those in your company are not on the informed side of the ledger, it can be tricky. In that instance it’s helpful to know what you can expect so here are a few tips to think about.

Alexandra at The Feminist Hive Mind writes, “I’ll make myself a sandwich, thanks“:

There are some warning bells going off as I read more and more of the posts. For instance: There are tags for “forbidden“/”Forbidden foods“. Hell, there’s a list of “forbidden” foods in the sidebar! And I get it, there’s some shit out there that will simply ruin a pizza for me (whoever thought that black olives would be a great addition to an otherwise wonderful pie needs to sit in the corner and think about what they’ve done). But “forbidden,” even in the context of making food for someone else to enjoy, is scary strict and not a healthy way to talk to a romantic partner. I know people with food allergies that wouldn’t even use that type of black-and-white, here’s-the-line-you-do-not-cross language and their health is on the line (unlike Eric who just doesn’t like to eat green vegetables). At minimum, it’s condescending and insulting.

Alecia Simmonds at Daily Life writes, “In defence of ‘murderous rage’“:

In case you missed it, last week Gillard gave her first interview since being dismissed from the office of Prime Minister with journalist, author, in fact all-round-feminist-goddess, Anne Summers. When the discussion moved to the sexist treatment she endured in office Gillard responded with stoicism. She knew of the vulgar cartoons but chose not to focus on them. ‘But it must have been upsetting, surely,’ probed Summers. Gillard grinned: ‘I would have said more like murderous rage, really’. And the auditorium erupted in laughter, (which was weird because most of the people there were killjoy feminists who spend their days in a state of crushing seriousness broken only by the occasional screech of ‘that’s not funny’ when they see lovers standing on a bridge giggling at ducks).

It was a joke. It was very clearly a joke. And in case you didn’t get it Gillard explained a few seconds afterwards: “I think maybe we can drop the ‘murderous’ but we should feel a sense of rage about it because it’s only through something that really spurs you on to action that it’s going to change.”

fliponymous at Eponymous Fliponymous writes, “Scriptive, or, There Is Trouble In The Forest“:

The bisexual community has, for many years, been dismissed and erased just as surely as its individual members. Yes, we are an amorphous and heterogeneous community, but frankly no more so than any other community of Identity. Whenever I speak of the Bisexual Community, or make a statement that “Bisexuals (X)”, there is always someone waiting in the wings to point out that I don’t speak for all bisexuals, that no one can because we’re all different. I acknowledge that, and when I speak in person I am always careful to point that out. So take that as a given. I don’t speak for all of Teh Bi any more than Dan Savage speaks for all of Teh Gay. But these are distinctions that are only made within the LGBTQ community. As far as the Overculture is concerned, we are all the same.

And in important ways, we are.

If you don’t fit neatly into one of the two crisp and prescriptively defined monosexual categories, Straight or Gay, you are invisible. To use the Queer Theory concept of the cultural matrix, monosexuality has two boxes and people are shoehorned into one or the other. If you don’t, and you are loud enough about insisting that you don’t, you are at best assigned to some mythical fence where your lack of belonging completely to either puts you outside of and beneath consideration. (That’s a Chestnut, we haven’t quite gotten into the swamp yet, but feel how the ground is starting to get squishy underfoot, how the daisies are being replaced by ladyslippers?)

Noami Ceder guest posts at Geek Feminism, “Trans*H4ck 1.0 – Trans* coders make (their own) history“:

We all introduced ourselves and spoke of our backgrounds, our goals for the hackathon, and, yes, our preferred pronouns. It was clearly the first time some of the cisgender folks had ever been asked that particular question.

By the end of the evening teams had formed and work continued on through the night and into the next day, when things paused at noon for a panel discussing being trans* in tech, featuring Enne Walker, Dana McCallum, Naomi Ceder (me), Jack Aponte, and Nadia Morris and moderated by Fresh! White. The discussion ranged from using open source projects and GitHub to build a professional portfolio to finding a champion at work to how to take care of yourself in the face of the inevitable stress.

Julie guests posts at Geek Feminism with, “I think I’m in an emotionally abusive relationship… with the tech community“:

This week, I think I finally figured out what it is. I noticed the symptoms – what some might refer to as “red flags.” I think we’re in an emotionally abusive relationship.

How did we get here? Why is it this bad? Why are we staying?

There’s always been the microaggressions. I didn’t always notice them, but eventually they accumulated enough that I was buried. I couldn’t ignore them any more. Recently, a new symptom finally hit the point where I couldn’t pretend it isn’t there. Gaslighting (or at least something very akin to it).

Gaslighting is a symptom of emotional abuse, so it was a disturbing discovery. Out of curiosity, I looked up other symptoms of emotional abuse. An upsettingly long list of them were all too easy to identify with. Fuck.

Fiona Stanley at writes at The Conversation,  “Let’s treat the social causes of illness rather than just disease“:

But as a young doctor working in child health, particularly with Aboriginal children, it became obvious to me that prevention of disease was by far the best way to practice medicine; it’s more humane and definitely more cost-effective.

In 1972, I left Australia to study epidemiology and public health in the United Kingdom and then the United States, where these disciplines were well advanced. I learnt of the limitations of modern medicine, that prevention was the key to health and that many diseases commenced in social adversity.

Minna Salami writes at The Guardian, “African women are blazing a feminist trail – why don’t we hear their voices?“:

In fact, women have made significant gains all around Africa: indeed, the most successful social movement in Africa in recent decades has been the women’s movement, particularly in policy and legislation. Malawi and Liberia have female heads of state, and earlier this month Senegal elected its first female prime minister, Aminata Touré. Also, the African Union chair is female for the first time in its history. Africa’s strong legacy of female leaders is a hugely positive statement about the continent’s direction.

So why does the western feminist movement hardly look at African feminism for clues? Why does it only pay such little attention to the realisation of a once utopian fantasy of female majority leadership in Rwanda – where, since 2008, women have held over half the parliamentary seats? Feminists everywhere have spent decades campaigning for equality in political leadership, yet its achievement in Rwanda has been met with a loud silence.

At Newswise, “It May Not “Get Better” For Bisexual Teens*trigger warning for discussion of suicide*:

Teens were divided into groups based on their self-reported identification as heterosexual, mostly heterosexual, gay, mostly gay or bisexual. The study found that depression symptoms, namely thoughts of suicide, decreased from 42 percent to 12.3 percent as teens in all groups transitioned into adulthood and suicide attempts decreased from 15.9 to 2.9 percent. But the “mostly gay” and bisexual teens did not report a significant decrease in some measures of suicidal thoughts or behaviors.

The study did not determine why suicidal thoughts persisted in some groups, but experts offer some suggestions.

“Some bisexuals may struggle with depression later on because they don’t feel accepted and supported in either lesbian and gay or straight communities,” said. “Bisexual identity does not fit into the gay/straight categories most people are comfortable with.”

He suggests that gay teens may find more support than bisexual teens from the LGBT community after coming out, which would encourage feelings of self-acceptance.

Rebecca Shaw writes at The Kings Tribune, “What do you see?“:

If you follow my Twitter account, my Tumblr, my Facebook, my Myspace, my LinkedIn, my email, if you Google me, ask anyone that knows anything about me, look at my cats and music collection, have read anything I’ve ever written, or can see my thoughts, you know that I’m a lesbian. I have been out and proud for many years now, and I’m not afraid to say it in real life or online. This article is about a different kind of coming out. It is about a subject that has easily caused me more shame and discrimination than my sexuality. Being a queer person has its challenges, but most people I encounter don’t have an automatically negative opinion about me based on it. Also, they usually don’t know about it until I tell them. This other issue undeniably causes an immediate adverse reaction to me, as soon as people see me, and it happens literally on a daily basis.

I, Rebecca Shaw am… a fat person. *crowd gasps, delicate lady faints*

I don’t have to come out as fat on a day-to-day basis, because you can tell by pointing your beautiful eyeballs in my direction. However, if you are one of the people that so far mostly know (and no doubt ADORE) me from the Internet, you may not have realised. I’ve mentioned it in various places, but it’s not something I have broadcast by taking out a full (figure)-page newspaper ad or informing the population of Australia via carrier (delicious roasted) pigeon.

Katie J. M. Baker writes at Dissent, “Cockblocked by Redistribution: A Pick-up Artist in Denmark*trigger warning for rape and PUA*:

Fans of the travel writer will be disappointed that “pussy literally goes into hibernation” in this “mostly pacifist nanny state,” where the social programs rank among the best in the world. Roosh’s initial admiration for those resources is almost charming, if you’re able to momentarily forget that this is a man who considers devirginizing teenagers a sport.

“A Danish person has no idea what it feels like to not have medical care or free access to university education,” an awed Roosh reports. “They have no fear of becoming homeless or permanently jobless. The government’s soothing hand will catch everyone as they fall. To an American like myself, brainwashed to believe that you need to earn things like basic health care or education by working your ass off, it was quite a shock.”

Shadowspar writes, “The Epistemological Twilight Zone*trigger warning – rape*

It’s interesting1 how the second a woman starts talking about being raped, or assaulted, or harassed, she gets put into a kind of Epistemological Twilight Zone, innit?

Here’s what I mean.

When someone tells you about something they’ve seen or done, we usually extend them a measure of credit and take what they have said at face value. We grant that their statements about their own firsthand experience are good-faith expressions of the truth as they have observed it. This is called “not being an asshole”.

The alternative is to treat this person’s experiences as expressions of opinion; assertions; mere façades that may or may not objectively exist — and this being despite our likely lack of any concrete evidence that would put these statements into doubt.

Meg Barker at Rewriting the Rules writes, “DIVA article on non-binary gender“:

Later on it felt good to share stories about the confusion and discomfort we’d received from department store staff when shopping for clothes. The group I hung out with included transmasculine folk, butch women, and people who identified as non-binary.

This latter term is one which I increasingly relate to myself. So what is it like if neither of the accepted gender labels fit?

DIVA spoke to several non-binary people, as well as to professionals who work across the gender spectrum, to find out how it is to occupy a place outside the binary. The main message is that, like bisexual or gay people, non-binary people are ordinary folk who should be treated with the same respect as anybody, rather than as some kind of special case.


Related Posts:

Let’s talk about abortion – again

Because we should never tire of talking about people’s individual right to make their own medical decisions, their own choices about their body, and their own life choices (as a collective, of course as individuals, we probably all get tired of this at some time or another).

So the new Pope, who was reported on Friday as being more “meh” about abortion because the Catholic Church had done that to death recently, and all the other good messages in the fresh and fragrant Gospels (his words not mine) were being lost in the “thou shalt not” stance of the church, came out today condemning abortion in order to placate the hardliners in the Church who thought that the Pope was being soft on abortion.  Because there is nothing more inspiring that someone saying, “yeah I know, this message is getting old and there are other things we should be talking about, but did you know that WE HATE ABORTION?”

Of course people only have abortions because of convenience according to the Pope:

Pope Francis offered an olive branch of sorts to the doctrine-minded, conservative wing of the Catholic church on Friday, when he denounced abortions as a symptom of today’s “throw-away culture” and encouraged Catholic doctors to refuse to perform them.

which as we all know is complete bollocks.  I had an abortion to save my life, an abortion that would not have been performed in the hospital I had first arrived at, Saint Vincents, despite the fact that I was internally hemorrhaging and had I been left untreated I would have died.  I know other people who have had abortions because they believed that they were not capable of being parents at that time. I know people who have had abortions because being pregnant would cause a myriad of potentially fatal health issues.  I know people who have had abortions because they could not afford to have a child.  I know people who have had abortions because they were mortally afraid of being pregnant and having children.  All these issues and more do not make up a “throw-away culture”.  I don’t know anyone who has medical procedures for the fun of it.

The most telling part of the Pope’s comments on abortion is that the people who are pregnant aren’t even mentioned.  There is lots of talk about babies and children (despite the fact that it’s not until they are born that they are babies or children), and those babies or children having Jesus’s face (which is just a bit creepy), but nothing about the people whose lives may be in danger or whose ability to manage a pregnancy and the next 18 years of raising a child is being questioned by them.  It’s telling, it says “The Catholic Church cares more about babies than it does about the people whose body they incubate in, who will then spend the next 18 years or so raising, feeding, and attempting to afford them”.

He did repeat it on Friday, however. In his comments, Francis denounced today’s “throw-away culture” that justifies disposing of lives, and said doctors in particular had been forced into situations where they are called to “not respect life.”

“Every child that isn’t born, but is unjustly condemned to be aborted, has the face of Jesus Christ, has the face of the Lord,” he said.

He urged the gynaecologists to abide by their consciences and help bring lives into the world. “Things have a price and can be for sale, but people have a dignity that is priceless and worth far more than things,” he said. (The Guardian)

I certainly feel secure in my medical treatment knowing that there are doctors out there who do not have my best interests at heart.  I certainly feel welcome in the Catholic Church, an institution that does not trust women to be able to make up their own minds on issues.  I completely trust a religious institution that tells me that sex must have consequences for those who are fertile and have uteri.

The Catholic Church has consistently been anti-choice for as long as abortion has been a public issue, they are at least consistent with that.  They’ve consistently been on the side of a cluster of cells that cannot survive outside the individual it is growing in (while consuming their blood, energy and nutrition), instead of the individual who may or may not want that cluster of cells.  They have been consistently on the side of sex having consequences for those with uteri, instead of celebrating that sex is good for you, and consensual sex without consequences actually improves the wellbeing of everyone.  They have been on the side of that cluster of cells, instead on the side of families and individuals who are already struggling with poverty, disease, an excess of children, or immediate health consequences.

So eager is the Catholic Church to see more children born, that even in cases where the embryo is non-viable, they will still attempt to block access to abortion if at all possible.  We know that the Catholic Church will block access to abortion too when there is the choice between saving the mother’s life or leaving her pregnant and dead.

Every time I think that the Catholic Church might begin to reform, this shit comes up and I swear off it even further than I already have.  An organisation of men who think they know what is best for women – sounds similar to our own Government right now, but still – the Catholic Church is not a friend to those with uteri, and if you are a member of it, you need to remember that if you ever need to assert your right to your body.

Other useful reading by Libby Anne at Love Joy Feminism on this topic:


Related Posts: