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 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 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.


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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:


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Post mid-winter linkspam – the summer is coming (July 2013)

So another month passes, and we’re closer to the warmer weather.  It’s funny how I look forward to the cooler weather in summer, and the warmer weather in winter.  Anyway, have some amazing links that I’ve found over the past month.

First an extract from a book called, “Bi: Notes for a Bisexual Revolution” by Shiri Eisner, hosted at Altnet:

Oddly enough, the issue of biphobia, or monosexism, is one of the most hotly contested territories in bisexual politics, and certainly one of the least understood. A term much-feared and slightly frowned upon, biphobia has often been dismissed even by the most avid bisexual scholars and activists. Some insinuate that bisexuals don’t actually suffer oppression that is separate from homophobia or lesbophobia. In fact, very often, simply raising the issue of biphobia (in any setting) is perceived as an affront to gay and lesbian politics and is ridiculed, often with the ubiquitous “bisexuals are privileged” argument.

Before I refute the argument that bisexuals don’t suffer from a unique type of oppression (biphobia), let’s examine where this argument places bisexuality and bisexual people: To look at the first part of this argument, we will soon discover the old and familiar “bisexuality doesn’t exist” trope. To claim that bisexuals do not experience oppression differently from gays or lesbians is to subsume bisexual experience into homosexuality, thus eliminating its unique existence. For if no unique bisexual experience is to be found, then certainly the category of bisexuality itself is null. The second half of the argument (“privilege”) acknowledges the existence of bisexuality, but connects it with the notion of privilege and thus oppressor status, again nullifying the unique oppression that bisexuals experience and the need for specific attention to it. In this way, bisexuality is here spoken about on two levels: first as a nonexistent other, and second as an oppressor (presumably of gays and lesbians). The notion that bisexuals are only oppressed as a result of homophobia and lesbophobia erases the need for a unique bisexual liberation struggle and places bisexuals as “halfway” add-ons to the gay and lesbian movement.

Hida Vilora at Advocate writes, “Op-ed: Intersex, the Final Coming-Out Frontier“:

Last night, before my OK Cupid-induced outing, I realized I was going to have to come out again, but not in the usual way. I’d found my date in a “girls who like girls” online search, so I obviously didn’t need to tell her I’m queer. But if I wanted to be able to talk about my work, as one usually does on first dates, I did need to come out as intersex.

Like most people, she’d heard the word, but didn’t know exactly what it meant. Just imagine that, if you will. Coming out as L,G,B, or T can be bad enough sometimes, but at least people know what it is!

Ben Pobjie wrote at The Guardian, “Australia, let’s talk about manners“:

People will protest that Sattler wasn’t being sexist, because every time someone is sexist in public people protest that they weren’t being sexist. You could ask these people to reel off the number of times that previous prime ministers were asked if their wives were lesbians: in fact you could ask them to specify those occasions on which previous prime ministers were quizzed on any aspect of their wives’ sex lives at all; but they’d be unlikely to take the point, because they are not very bright.

But I understand the urge to deny that sexism is happening, because I’m a man and I hate talking about sexism: it makes me feel guilty and self-conscious. It is, frankly, awkward.

But that’s OK: let’s not talk about sexism. Let’s talk about manners. Let’s talk about the way you talk to another human being. In this case, as it so happened, the other human being was the prime minister of Australia, who you had invited onto your radio show for a serious interview. But even leaving all that aside, let us consider, when you are having a conversation with somebody, how do you talk to them?

Renee Lupica writes at The Hairpin, “Six Fairy Tales for the Modern Woman“:


Once upon a time a woman never got married, but had many fulfilling relationships, a job that kept her comfortable, an apartment that she got to decorate just for her, and hobbies that stimulated her mind.

The End.

Zubeida Malik at the BBC writes, “Haifa al Mansour becomes first female Saudi director“:

Haifa al Mansour has made a film – titled Wadjda – that has received critical acclaim around the world but cannot actually be shown in Saudi Arabia because there are no cinemas and few films are given a public showing.

After al Mansour released three short films as well as an award-winning documentary, the thing that she had still not done – nor for that matter had anyone else in Saudi Arabia – was direct a feature length film.

Sandi Toksvig at The Guardian writes, “Sandi Toksvig’s top 10 unsung heroines“:

Nightingale is well known in history as the Lady with the Lamp but this was actually a phrase invented by a Times journalist. The men of the Crimean actually called her the Lady With the Hammer because she was quite happy to break into supply rooms if her patients needed something.

Pew Research Social & Demographic Trends provides, “A Survey of LGBT Americans“:

The survey finds that 12 is the median age at which lesbian, gay and bisexual adults first felt they might be something other than heterosexual or straight. For those who say they now know for sure that they are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, that realization came at a median age of 17.

Four-in-ten respondents to the Pew Research Center survey identify themselves as bisexual. Gay men are 36% of the sample, followed by lesbians (19%) and transgender adults (5%).2 While these shares are consistent with findings from other surveys of the LGBT population, they should be treated with caution.3 There are many challenges in estimating the size and composition of the LGBT population, starting with the question of whether to use a definition based solely on self-identification (the approach taken in this report) or whether to also include measures of sexual attraction and sexual behavior.

Luke Pearson at @Aboriginaloz Blog writes, “An Open Letter To People Who Feel They Are Excluded Just For Being White.”:

I hate to be the one to tell it to you, but it isn’t ‘just’ because you are white. It isn’t ‘reverse racism’. Our supposed unfair condemnation of white people isn’t a viable excuse for your continual, wilful and blatantly unapologetic perpetuation of racist stereotypes. Also, the fact that you might have identified the same phenomenon in other groups not based on race, say disability advocates, gay marriage advocates, or feminists, doesn’t meant your observations aren’t still racist. If I say that Muslims and people with autism are violent, that doesn’t mean I am not making a racist comment. It just means I’m also insulting people with autism. It doesn’t detract from the inappropriate nature of my comment, it adds to it with another form of discrimination.

Now, just to qualify, and I know this is going to confuse a lot of you but here we go… being ‘white’ isn’t the sole reason you get excluded from these dialogues, or from expressing your opinion without receiving an overwhelmingly consistent negative response; but it is a factor, just not the disqualifying factor which you claim it to be.

Ta-Nehisi Coates at The Atlantic writes, “A Rising Tide Lifts All Yachts“:

I also pointed to sociologist John Logan’s research which points out that, on average, affluent blacks tend to live in neighborhoods with poorer resources than most poor whites. To understand this you must get that African Americans are the most segregated group in American history. Right now, at this very moment, the dissimilarity index — the means by which we measure segregation — is at the lowest point it’s been in a century. Despite that, African Americans are still highly segregated.

To understand the profound consequences of segregation, consider this study by sociologist Patrick Sharkey — “Neighborhoods and The Mobility Gap” — which looks at how children fare when exposed to poverty. The answer, of course, is not well. Instead of trying to do a one-to-one match of African Americans and whites via income or wealth, the study considers African Americans and whites within the neighborhoods in which they live. The conclusions are generally not surprising:

Among children born from 1955 through 1970, only 4 percent of whites were raised in neighborhoods with at least 20 percent poverty, compared to 62 percent of blacks. Three out of four white children were raised in neighborhoods with less than 10 percent poverty, compared to just 9 percent of blacks. Even more astonishingly, essentially no white children were raised in neighborhoods with at least 30 percent poverty, but three in ten blacks were.And more shockingly still, almost half (49 percent) of black children with family income in the top three quintiles lived in neighborhoods with at least 20 percent poverty, compared to only one percent of white children in those quintiles. These figures reveal that black children born from the mid 1950s to 1970 were surrounded by poverty to a degree that was virtually nonexistent for whites.

This degree of racial inequality is not a remnant of the past. Two out of three black children born from 1985 through 2000 have been raised in neighborhoods with at least 20 percent poverty, compared to just 6 percent of whites. Only one out of ten blacks in the current generation has been raised in a neighborhood with less than 10 percent poverty, compared to six out of ten whites. Even today, thirty percent of black children experience a level of neighborhood poverty — a rate of 30 percent or more — unknown among white children.

tithenai at Voices on the Midnight Air writes, “Calling for the Expulsion of a SFWA Member“:

On Wednesday I called for the expulsion of Theodore Beale, aka Vox Day, from SFWA. The reasons and proposed methodology are detailed in the link. In brief, he very obviously, knowingly, and deliberately broke the rules over what kind of posts could be tagged for inclusion in SFWA’s promotional Twitter feed by posting a racist attack on N. K. Jemisin. This is not a one-time occurence, but part of a pattern of behaviour that shows malicious contempt for the organization as a whole.

While the vast majority of responses — through pingbacks on the post, in e-mail, over Twitter — have been positive and supportive, over the last few days I have seen the following in various places on the internet:

– people refusing to acknowledge that there was anything racist or misogynistic about Beale’s post
– people wringing their hands over how we shouldn’t ban people from organizations for their opinions (when that is not the argument I am making)
– people saying we should just ignore him — that banning him from the Twitter feed is enough of a reprimand
– people being more outraged at the idea that I would call Beale’s post racist than at the fact that he called a black woman “an ignorant half-savage” who couldn’t possibly be “fully civilized” on account of her ethnic heritage.

I have also seen people belligerently questioning or deriding my command of the English language, my religion, my ethnicity, and my nationality, as a consequence of having made that post.

Michael Taylor at The Australian Independent Media Network writes, “Feel free to speak about whatever I want you to“:

The parties that are advocating relaxation to the freedom of speech laws, nay, hysterically demanding it, are the ones who are in reality practicing the most rabid suppression of it. They want the freedom to be an asshole whilst limiting free speech on those who hold opposing views (to them). You’ll be able to racially vilify or abuse anyone whatsoever, but you will be silenced if any form of dissent, no matter how trivial, is directed towards them.

Lee & Low Books writes, “Why Hasn’t the Number of Multicultural Books Increased In Eighteen Years?“:

Since LEE & LOW BOOKS was founded in 1991 we have monitored the number of multicultural children’s books published each year through the Cooperative Children’s Book Center’s statistics. Our hope has always been that with all of our efforts and dedication to publishing multicultural books for more than twenty years, we must have made a difference. Surprisingly, the needle has not moved. Despite census data that shows 37% of the US population consists of people of color, children’s book publishing has not kept pace. We asked academics, authors, librarians, educators, and reviewers if they could put their fingers on the reason why the number of diverse books has not increased.

*Trigger warning for discussion and depiction of sexual assault* At Georgia Weidman’s Security Blog, she writes, “Guess You Thought I Was Someone To Mess With“:

This is the last thing I have to say about all this. My duty is done. I don’t want to be the poster girl for infosec feminism. I want to be a researcher, and a trainer, and a speaker, and an icon. There’s a bad guy out there who has no remorse. I have reason to believe he was behaved badly towards women before at conferences and will do it again. The Polish legal system, while they have a report refused to take any action on the grounds that I had no proof, I had been drinking, etc. The US Consulate in Poland also has a record of it. But that’s it; it’s over and done with. I gave a talk the next day, I taught a class the next week. You aren’t going to get rid of me that easily, and I’m not going to stop expressing myself because someone can’t behave. If I want to show you my “I Love Joe McCray” sharpie tattoo on stage, I’m going to do it. If I want to say something silly on Twitter that could be construed as sexual I’m going to say it. The last thing I’m going to do is stop being myself because of this. Then he wins. And he didn’t win. People have offered to beat him up for me. I already did that. I’m not asking anybody to do anything for me, I’m asking you to do something for the next girl. This guy is dangerous. I was lucky. She might not be.

Larissa Behrendt at The Guardian writes, “Aboriginal humour: ‘the flip side of tragedy is comedy’“. (I’m particularly linking to this article because it has Babakiueria embedded in it, a film everyone should watch):

This experience of looking at the funny side through adversity is not unique. Sean Choolburra was a former dancer who turned his hand at being funny. He has worked as a stand up comedian for just over a decade, and now is the best known Aboriginal comedian. His parents grew up on Palm Island – a place where curfews were imposed, and where segregation thrived. A leprosy colony was built on the next island. “But you wouldn’t know it was tragic or horrific”, he says, “my mum, dad and grandparents would tell all these funny yarns over tea and dampers. Hearing all these, would have thought they had the greatest lives growing up. But you got the sense that they wouldn’t have survived without our sense of humour.”

“The flip side of tragedy is comedy,” adds Aboriginal stand up comedian Kevin Kropinyeri. “We have had to learn to look at our situation. We never had much on the mission without. My nana would spend three month periods in gaol for being off the mission without papers. Laughter is healing and is a way of coping with life.”

Barbara Shaw at New Matilda writes, “The NT Intervention – Six Years On“:

They said the Intervention was about stopping children from being abused, that it was going to stop the drinking and domestic violence. But all I have seen is racism and disempowerment of our people. It’s the old assimilation policy back again, to control how we live. The government and many non-Aboriginal NGOs have taken over the assets and responsibilities of our organisations, both in the major town centres and remote communities forcing us to comply with their policies that take no account of Aboriginal culture and our obligations.

Take income management, which I have been on for five and a half years. I ran for parliament in 2010 and outpolled both Labor and Liberal candidates in Central Australian communities. I have represented my people at the United Nations. But the Government says I can’t manage my money. On their own estimations of $6000 to 8000 per person per year administrative cost for income management, the government has spent more than $30,000 dollars just to control my small income.

This system has made it much harder for us to share and care for each other. I used to run an unofficial safe house here at Mt Nancy town camp. I’d get money off all the parents every week. If there was drinking and fighting and the kids needed somewhere to be, they knew they were safe here at “Big Mamma’s” house and that I could buy meals for them. No one has the cash to chuck in any more. The Government has refused to fund a community centre here on our town camp.

Through the looking glass writes, “Modernity can be hard work: On Mansplaining“:

The tensions around mansplaining also reflect hang-ups we have dealing with expertise in this world of specialisms we’ve made for ourselves. I think one of the reasons it’s sparked recently, especially around social media, is because we increasingly bump into expertise without much context, and as a result see our prejudices laid out quite clearly. We can be shocked to see someone we didn’t know holding a confident opinion in 140 characters or a simple independent blog. WHAT DO THEY KNOW ANYWAY? Oh, quite a lot actually. I didn’t realise that. Whoops. Or, more often maybe, we discover that this new person knows about the world in a slightly different way from us, one we might disagree with but can still learn from.

Even before the emergence of the web the various silos of expertise were causing cultural tensions. We have a society increasingly fractured by specialists. This is often a good thing. Someone can spend time concentrating on knowing loads about, for example, biodiversity and bees thus freeing up someone else to be an expert in sewage management, brain surgery, 15th century art, Russian cartoons of the 1970s, whatever bit of the world we want to dig into. But then how can the bee expert talk to the rest of us? Or the polar bear geneticist learn from the poet? How do we know how or if to trust the brain surgeon? Modernity can be hard work.

Hanna White at Bitch Media writes, “The Feminism of Hayao Miyazaki and Spirited Away“:

In many Hollywood films, narratives are built around the simplistic idea of good versus evil: “good guys” kill off “bad guys” who are devils through and through. In contrast, the flowing narrative structure of Miyazaki’s films allow for a lot of flexibility in the roles played by heroes and villains. Most of the time, the hero or heroine’s journey does not center on the need to violently defeat an ultimate villain. Take Spirited Away. In the film, a young girl named Chihiro slips into a magical alternate reality where her parents are turned into pigs. Chihiro does face some enemies on her quest to rescue her parents and escape back to the human world, including the ghost No-Face and a witch named Yubaba. But she surpasses them by using her cleverness and simple bravery, not physical force. Along the way, No-Face becomes her friend and Yubaba shows she’s not pure evil.

Clementine Ford at ABC’s The Drum writes, “Women’s equality a global battleground“:

The proponents of imperial feminism can be roughly split into two groups. The first uses accusations of misdirected political activism to cover up the fact that they don’t really care about women’s liberation. Feminism in the West annoys them, because it challenges the restrictive ideas of femininity that either support their own privilege (for men) or provide provisional access to it (for women). Directing feminists to focus on women who suffer ‘real’ oppression doesn’t just belie a casual racism, it also pretty clearly reveals that these people consider women’s suffering a problem for women alone to solve and for them to exploit when they feel like it.

The oft expressed support for women’s rights in say, the Middle East, is less about caring for human beings than it is about gaining a self-satisfied feeling of superiority over the men in these cultures, all of whom are gleefully reduced to brutish, racist parodies of the unreconstructed savage. If this weren’t the case, these loudmouthed Western sots would be actively doing something themselves to help women in these societies instead of constantly looking for ways to justify a disgust for the struggle of the women in their own.

Christian McCrea writes, “8.7% Is Proof of a Problem“:

As people leave high school, they search for courses in various systems under different terms. “Games” is a search term used by 11,000 Victorian students each year as they determine their applications. Eleven thousand. Each year. We need to stop talking about a lack of jobs and start talking about people taking a serious interest in a craft. The ABS says there’s less than 600 salaries in games and 11,000 young people a year are making a choice about what they want to do.

Where those young people search and what changes their mind is a deeply personal process. Casting tertiary games courses purely as an “information technology” category is going to gender the outcome of those choices because all of these terms are often gendered. The language each course guide includes is often gendered. The websites of the Universities and private games colleges (some of which feature CG women) are often gendered.

When a games course in the UK, Europe, America, New Zealand, Australia is described as design and not IT, the gender ratios alter significantly. The change in gender ratios in game degrees is so significant, it is a case study for internal University research. This has implications for what is in the course being described. That goes without saying.

James Schlarmann writes at The Political Garbage Chute, “If 200 Bigots Have a Tantrum, Does Anyone Care?“:

This “Natural Moral Law” argument that anti-equality people like to make — that it’s just not natural to be in a sexual relationship that cannot procreate — is absolutely no different than what segregationists argued in the courts. “Your honor, God just made us this way.” It’s the laziest fucking argument you can make because all you have to do is point to something you can’t prove, can’t be challenged because it can’t be proved, and ultimately trumps everything with its built-in near automatic histrionics and fireworks. As soon you invoke God you’re basically saying that intolerance and hatred are the normative behaviors, not acceptance, compassion and non-judgment. They flip the script on us, and ultimately on themselves. In this twisted version of reality, those of us who want to end the intolerance become the intolerant ones.

It’s like they never matured in their intellect past fifth grade. They’re basically operating from a place where it’s Opposite Day every day. You remember Opposite Day, don’t you? It’s the day when you were in fifth grade where you’d bust your friends chops by saying, “Hey, I like your shirt, Bob!” Bob thanks you for the compliment and you cut him off saying, “Oh, I forgot to say, it’s Opposite Day. Also, you’re very smart and smell great.” That is the same exact mentality of “Actually, God wants us to hate the gays. So when you don’t hate the gays, and hate us instead, you actually hate God. Way to hate God, dick.”

*trigger warning for online harassment* Clementine Ford at Daily Life writes, “It’s considered a weakness to be a woman in Australia“:

It would be rare to find a woman who hadn’t endured some kind of ridicule for stepping out of line. When the market dictates that a woman’s value is primarily attached to her looks and deferential behaviour, it’s the threat of sexually degrading insults that help to keep her in check. How many of us have weathered the experience of a man calling us ugly or fat, simply because we disagreed with him or didn’t want to entertain his attentions? How many of us bristle when a carload of rowdy men drives past, preparing ourselves for either inevitable demands that we show them our tits or unasked for comments on the paucity of our looks and knowing that if we don’t acquiesce to such an invasion of our personal space then the consequences for our self esteem will be much worse?

As I write this, an anonymous stranger is bombarding me with messages calling me “a stupid cu*t” who needs to “curl up and die”. “What have I done to deserve this shrieking harpy bitch?” he asks, as if it is me who’s wandered up to his house to scream random insults through his window. “How come all feminists are ugly?” he wonders aloud. “Do they become feminists after being constantly rejected by men?”

Celeste Liddle writes at Daily Life, “‘How black is he?’“:

Mum comes from a long line of brewery workers, boot clickers, tradies, cricket players and home-makers. So when my mother met my Arrernte-boy-from-Alice-Springs father and decided to get married and have four children, she not only upset the apple cart somewhat, she also came to know racism in a way she hadn’t known it existed before and, at times, it must have been heartbreaking.

My mother married my father in the 1970s just years after the Referendum recognised Aboriginal people as humans. She was told my father would “only get darker as he gets older” and was frequently asked, “how black is he?”. Despite all this my parents are still happily together today, 37 years later.

Jane Caro writes at The Guardian, “Julia Gillard is a flawed human being. But she wasn’t allowed to be one“:

Gillard’s problem is that she, like all the rest us, is just a flawed human being. Despite our desire for messiahs, if we’re honest or – dare I say – grown up, it’s the best we can ever get in our leaders. It is my observation, however, after a lifetime spent watching, studying and writing about women and power, that the problem for female leaders is that we are still not yet ready to give them the space to be merely human. We allow them an either/or position only. They can either be inspirational and amazing or terrible, dreadful, the worst we’ve ever had. For women, the difficulty is that there is no middle ground. If you get to the top you better prove you deserve to be there, girlie.

There is still a hint of the usurper around a woman who reaches the top. This works in both positive and negative ways. Difference both repels and attracts. Even those of us who pride ourselves on being “gender blind” greeted the idea of our first female prime minister with an excitement and anticipation that would not ordinarily accompany one of the usual suspects. And it’s not just women leaders who experience this euphoria. President Obama was also burdened by a level of public expectation that could not possibly be met. I suppose we recognise that the degree of difficulty for an outsider is much higher, so we feel that perhaps these people are going to be a bit special. By paying such leaders this compliment, we also inadvertently raise the bar too high.

*trigger warning for harassment* Steven Wink writes, “An E3 Teachable Moment“:

Early in the anti-drunk driving movement, campaigns focused on victims. The tragedies caused by drunk drivers, the stories of ruined lives. To their surprise, they found that sad stories weren’t fixing the problem. The powerful idea that turned the tide was “Friends don’t let friends drive drunk.” Take your friend’s keys away, call them a cab, appoint a designated driver at the start of the night. Take responsibility. These things were about changing the culture that abetted drunk driving, and making the observers – not the drunk drivers – the key to the solution.

When it comes to harassment, it’s tempting to avoid responsibility. That’s bullshit. Whether or not we realize it, we are all in the position of power. There are more good people in games than creeps. The tide has turned. We’re in a position of power regardless of our gender, or the genders of those involved. No matter who you are, when you see something that doesn’t look right, you can act.

Clementine Ford at ABC’s The Drum writes, “Men stand up for the feminist cause“:

The past few weeks have been exhausting ones. At times, it seems like we’ve been living in a Monty Python sketch. The sexist, childish incidents pile up and I keep waiting for a giant foot to descend from the sky to wipe us all out.

I’m often accused (incorrectly) of being a man-hater. I don’t hate men, I just dislike sexism and dickheads, in that order. I thought it would be nice to acknowledge some of the men who’ve challenged the status quo on gender inequality recently. Because in amongst all the rubbish and invective that has been lately directed towards women, there have been moments of defiance that have genuinely moved me.

Men, traditionally the beneficiaries of patriarchy, have emerged to take definitive individual stands against discrimination. In unqualified displays, they’ve declared themselves to be not just passive allies in theory but active agents to create change. And I want to tip my hat at them and say, ‘You’re alright son.’

Mel Campbell at Junkee writes, “Cosmopolitan Magazine’s ‘Size Hero’ Campaign Makes Zero Sense“:

It is comically naive to think we can counteract a lifetime’s worth of immersive, pervasive cultural messages about body size and shape just by bunging a few scantily clad celebs and plus-size models in magazines. But weird magical thinking aside, we should reject all these campaigns for the same reason: they teach us that our bodies are other people’s property, to be gazed at and judged. You shouldn’t need Cosmo’s permission — or anyone else’s — to feel good about yourself.

Whoa. Sexiness is not a ‘cause’. Let’s put this in perspective. People in Turkey are marching against their repressive government. Texas state politician Wendy Davis filibustered for 10 hours to prevent her parliament from legislating to sharply restrict women’s access to abortion. These are causes worth championing. Whereas sexiness isn’t a goddamn human right. It’s a demeaning social expectation shouldered disproportionately by women.

*trigger warning online harassment* Slaus Caldwell guest posts at Fly Girl Gamers with “Game On Ladies“:

Another reason I was in love with the game was because I got to play it alongside my wife, my long-time childhood friend; Mark as well as other really cool friends and strangers who happened to fill out the remaining spots. But one day I decided to login to try and unlock a few perks and packs for my wife since she was having a terrible time getting valuable items which you could randomly get in the perk packs. Therefore I decided to log in as her one time, play as a character which was one of my favourites, and rack up enough points to afford her a few packs in hopes at least of them would be an unlock for something worthwhile. Little did I know I’d be unlocking much more.

As soon as I logged onto the “lobby” which is an area where the 4 players wait before going into the match, the first thing I hear over the headphones was: “Oh great.. a girl player? F*ck. Are you serious? Let’s kick her and hope we get someone else.” Of course for those of you unfamiliar with how this works, they knew the character was a female due to my wife’s moniker or gamer tag as it’s called. Then another player chimed in : “We can’t do a gold match with a girl player. There are even girls who play this game? Shouldn’t she be playing my little pony or something.”

At The Mob and the Multitude, “The NSA Comes Recruiting“:

Roughly half an hour into the session, the exchange below began. I began by asking them how they understood the term “adversary” since the surveillance seems to be far beyond those the American state classifies as enemies, and their understanding of that ties into the recruiters’ earlier statement that “the globe is our playground.” I ended up asking them whether being a liar was a qualification for the NSA

The NSA’s instrumental understanding of language as well as its claustrophobic social world was readily apparent. One of the recruiters discussed how they tend to socialize after work, dressing up in costumes and getting drunk (referenced below). I can imagine that also exerts a lot of social pressure and works as a kind of social closure from which it would be difficult to escape. The last thing I want to point out –once again– their defense seems to be that it’s legal. What is legal is  not just.

Alyssa Rosenberg at Think Progress writes, “Novelist John Scalzi Says He Won’t Attend Conventions Without Strong Sexual Harassment Policies“:

I’ve written before in this space about the ongoing problem of sexual harassment at fan conventions and other geek events, whether people are taking creepshots of cosplayers and making unreasonable demands of their time in terms that make them uncomfortable, so-called journalists are using their credentials as license to harass women, because apparently bra size is an important piece of data for any published story, or sexual harassment between professionals is being excused as an inherent part of geek or gaming culture. There have been efforts to push back against these cultural problems, significant among them, Girl Wonder’s Con Anti-Harassment Project, which, among other things, stockpiles the anti-harassment policies of major conventions (which aren’t always clearly available on their websites) and offers advice on how to report harassment or to support someone in doing so. And those efforts got a high-profile boost yesterday when John Scalzi, the prolific science fiction novelist, the past president of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, and an outspoken feminist ally, announced a policy on convention harassment of his own. Scalzi, he told readers of his popular blog, will no longer attend conventions that don’t have clear sexual harassment policies that delineate offending behavior, and where and to whom it’s possible to report it, that don’t make those policies clear to all participants by means like posting them online or announcing them at opening ceremonies, and where he can’t get personal assurances from convention organizers that they’ll do both of the following, and make sure harassment complaints are taken seriously and dealt with promptly.

Foz Meadows writes at shattersnipe: malcontent & rainbows, “Rageblogging: The Rod Rees Edition“:

Behold this blog post by author Rod Rees, expressing his thoughts as to whether or not male authors can successfully write female characters. This is an important question, one that can and frequently does lead to interesting discussions about privilege, the male gaze, stereotypes and default narrative settings; that being said, my short answer is always going to be an unequivocal yes. Above and beyond the fact that many of my favourite fictional ladies are male creations, I strongly distrust gender essentialism in all its forms, and the idea that women are inherently different, unknowable creatures, such that we exist beyond the true comprehension of men, falls firmly into that category. So, from the outset, let me be clear: male authors are totally, 100% capable of writing a wide variety of awesome female characters, and many of them frequently do just that.

But Rod Rees, I suspect, is not among them.

The utter gobsmacking cluelessness of his approach to the matter can best be summed up in the following quote:

This brought to mind other criticisms. One woman commented on the scene where Odette (a character I introduced in The Demi-Monde: Spring) was admiring her breasts in a mirror by opining that ‘Women don’t do that!’ I was tempted to reply, ‘Oh, yes they do!’

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The cold linkspam of our discontent (June 2013)

I’ve found many wonderful things to read in May, so I will share them with you.  I’ve also switched over to Newsblur, which has a sharing functionality, now that Google Reader is on it’s way out.  It is a paid service (around $26 per year), but awesome.  If you are on Newsblur, look me up, I’m under bluebec.

And onto the articles.  First up this month is “The Suicide Epidemic*obvious trigger warning*:

The fact is, self-harm has become a worldwide concern. This emerged in the new Global Burden of Disease report, published in The Lancet this past December. It’s the largest ever effort to document what ails, injures, and exterminates the species. But allow me to save you the reading. Humankind’s biggest health problem is humankind.

Soraya Chemaly writes in the Huffington Post, “The Problem with ‘Boys Will Be Boys’*trigger warning for discussion around rape*:

I know it’s a lurid metaphor, but I taught my daughter the preschool block precursor of don’t “get raped” and this child, Boy #1, did not learn the preschool equivalent of “don’t rape.

Not once did his parents talk to him about invading another person’s space and claiming for his own purposes something that was not his to claim. Respect for my daughter and her work and words was not something he was learning. It was, to them, some kind of XY entitlement. How much of the boy’s behavior in coming years would be excused in these ways, be calibrated to meet these expectations and enforce the “rules” his parents kept repeating?

There was another boy who, similarly, decided to knock down her castle one day. When he did it his mother took him in hand, explained to him that it was not his to destroy, asked him how he thought my daughter felt after working so hard on her building and walked over with him so he could apologize. That probably wasn’t much fun for him, but he did not do it again.

Some good news from the Climate Spectator, “Australian CO2 emissions hit 10-year low“:

Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions from electricity generation have fallen to a 10-year low as coal-fired power slumped to its lowest level in a decade, a new report says.

At the same time, the share of renewable energy in the National Electricity Market (NEM) has soared beyond 12 per cent and looks set to continue rising.

In its latest quarterly emissions outlook, energy and carbon research firm RepuTex found coal power made up 74.8 per cent of the NEM in the three months ended in March – its lowest point in 10 years.

Coal was at more than 85 per cent of the NEM four years ago, when wind made up just half a per cent of the overall mix.

Today, wind generation is at 3.8 per cent, hydro 8.7 per cent and gas at 12.7 per cent of the NEM.

Alex White at The Guardian writes, “Is the ‘carbon tax’ the reason for the PM’s low popularity, or is it Murdoch?“:

The apocalyptic predictions made by Tony Abbott did not come to pass. The sky didn’t fall. Mining and manufacturing towns weren’t wiped off the map. Regional airlines didn’t double their prices. The carbon price wrecking ball, python strike and cobra squeeze has not impacted Australia’s interest rates, employment levels or inflation.

Support for the carbon price, and opposition to it, narrowed and equalised.

What didn’t happen was an increase in Labor’s vote. Throughout 2011 and 2012, while the carbon price’s stocks fell, Labor’s also remained low. From 1 July 2012, the two numbers decoupled. Labor’s polling remained stuck, while opposition to the carbon price declined and support increased.

This month, we passed an unprecedented milestone: global carbon levels exceeded levels not seen in over 3 million years. The carbon price in Australia has contributed to a 10-year low in carbon emissions. Few in Australia have noticed either turning point. Meanwhile, conservative state governments have quietly been dismantling carbon reduction policies established by the previous Labor governments, wilfully ignoring warnings by the scientific community of the risks.

Amanda Marcotte at The Raw Story writes, “Fringe Misogynists Expose Themselves To The Houston Chronicle“:

That’s why I have mixed feelings about the Houston Chronicle covering the “controversy” over the existence of Women in Secularism. My concern is that the inevitable process of quoting people from “both sides” creates a false equivalence, much like having climate scientists “debate” global warming denialists creates the illusion that there’s a controversy, when in fact it’s more akin to a struggle between reasonable people and irrationalists with an agenda. You see that problem in this piece. The feminist voices are, by and large, mainstream voices of actual experts who are supported by the mainstream secularist community. The anti-feminists are fringe characters who run hate sites and have had the Southern Poverty Law Center look into them. There’s not an authentic conflict here, but more a story about how normal people going about important business are being harassed by fringe characters with nothing of value to say.

Steven Petrow at The New York Times writes, “What Is the Right Way to Come Out as Bisexual at Work?“:

Over the years I’ve frequently heard from my bi friends that it’s harder for them to come out than it is for those of us who are gay or lesbian because of the enduring myths about being bisexual. Stereotypes persist, and many people think that identifying as bi means 1) you’re going through a phase, 2) you’re promiscuous or 3) you’re really gay but not telling the truth. In fact, many of those in our generation of L.G.B.T. people did claim to be bisexual, when we were gay or lesbian all along but not yet ready to acknowledge it even to ourselves. That’s not deceitful; it’s part of coming to terms with your sexuality.

These old stereotypes don’t die easily. They are so alive and well, in fact, that when I posed your question on my Facebook page I was shocked by some of the venomous responses. It was the first time any topic has caused the Facebook algorithm to hide posts because of the language, and I’ve had to edit the remarks heavily to let even these few appear here…

Andy Palmer at The Limping Chicken writes about Matt Dixon’s experience in “I had to tell my dad he was going to die, because he wasn’t given a sign language interpreter”:

Matt remembers how the cancer centre handled the issue of booking further interpreters for his dad. “They asked me to do it and I said I would but only if there were no interpreters available. For all the scans, blood tests and the chemotherapy that followed they never ever booked an interpreter for him again – even though written on the front of Dad’s file, in big red felt pen, it said: PROFOUNDLY DEAF.”

“At the first chemotherapy appointment my dad was all smiles. I asked the receptionist who the interpreter was and she replied ‘Oh, really sorry, we can’t get one.’ I just had to go with the flow. I was used to it from my life communicating for my family and I didn’t know about the Equality Act back then, all that I was bothered about was my dad.”

“I asked them to book an interpreter for the next appointment but they didn’t and that next appointment was for the results of a scan following the first chemotherapy treatment. It was an important meeting to see if the cancer had spread or not. I relayed to my dad, acting once again as his interpreter, that the cancer had not grown.”

Anna P guest posts at Feministe, “How to be an ally with bisexuals“:

  1. Keep in mind that bisexuality exists when considering someone’s possible sexual orientation. If a person is in a same-sex relationship, don’t assume they’re gay. If a person is in an opposite-sex relationship, don’t assume they’re straight. If a person once dated a man but is now dating a woman, or vice versa, don’t assume one of those relationships was a sham and the other represents their true orientation. If a woman is in a sexual relationship with a man, don’t assume anything she does with a woman is just a show put on for his benefit (by the way, don’t forget polyamory exists too.)
  2. Don’t tell someone they’re not really bisexual. You don’t know their feelings. Even if someone has only dated men (or women), it doesn’t mean they’re not also attracted to the other sex.

Charlie Jane Anders at io9 writes, “They mocked her “science fantasy.” Then she wrote Empire Strikes Back.“:

Leigh Brackett wrote the first script draft of Star Wars: The Empire Strikes back, and her contributions helped make the saga epic.

But before Brackett had a major hand in creating the best Star Wars movie, she was a science fiction novelist in the 1940s, writing a slew of space adventure novels with titles like The Starmen and Alpha Centauri or Die!. People called her the Queen of Space Opera — and it was not always a compliment.

At that time, space opera (like Star Wars) was looked down upon as less worthy of appreciation than other types of pulp fiction, including other types of science fiction. Brackett also wrote a lot of pulp crime fiction, and had co-written the screenplay for The Big Sleepwith William Faulkner. But she chose to spend a lot of her time writing these despised novels.

David Wong at Cracked writes, “The 5 Ugly Lessons Hiding in Every Superhero Movie“:

Superman’s awesome crystal fortress in the arctic isn’t called Fort CrystalPunch or Castle SuperPenis or Superman’s Ice Hole. It’s called the freaking Fortress of Solitude. Yes, you’re immortal and impossibly strong and can shoot lasers from your eyes, clearly you need a place to be alone, where you can quietly weep and write your poetry about how the world is a cruel, frozen wasteland.

But solitude is a requirement in these stories. Tony Stark literally has to have his secretary perform heart gadget surgery because, in his own words, “I don’t have anyone but you.”

Jason Bailey at Flavorwire writes, “Guess What: Hollywood’s ‘Bridesmaids’ Revolution Never Happened“:

Hey, remember back when Bridesmaids came out, and everybody was all, “It’s your social responsibility to support female-driven comedy,” and then it was a hit, so yay for funny ladies? And then The Hunger Games came out, and everybody was all, “It’s your social responsibility to support a female-driven blockbuster,” and then it was a hit, so yay for lady ass-kickers? Well, as it turns out, none of that mattered a lick, because according to a study released yesterday by the USC Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism, female representation in popular films is at its lowest level in five years. So thanks for nothing, Hollywood.

For those who are Goodies fans like me, a bit of history on the BT Tower (famously knocked over by Twinkle in Kitten Kong), an article written by Joe Fay at The Register, “BT Tower is just a relic? Wrong: It relays 18,000hrs of telly daily“:

Moving on to the present day, the tower is arguably still the most important communications nerve centre in the UK, but this has little to do with its original purpose.

It started life as The Post Office Tower: a radio mast designed as a hub for a national microwave network that was seen as the future of telecoms.

It was officially opened in 1965, four years after construction started. According to a wonderful 1970 brochure BT gave us, the spire – later renamed the BT Tower – was expected to provide four microwave paths, carrying “150,000 simultaneous telephone conversations or 100 both-way television channels”.

Cliff Pervocracy at The Pervocracy writes, “What I Mean When I Say I’m Sex-Positive“:

I’m sex-positive!

And I’m realizing that’s a painfully ambiguous term.  I’ve seen people use it to mean everything from “not viewing sex as inherently evil” to “insisting that everyone should have tons of orgasms and it’ll solve all their problems.”  You can see how people using the first definition could have some seriously unproductive arguments with people thinking they’re using the second.

About the “orgasms for everyone!” thing.  It’s not entirely a strawman.  I once saw a presentation by Annie Sprinkle (who clearly wrote her own Wikipedia page) where she basically argued that we would have world peace and feminist utopia if everyone in all the armies just fucked and had orgasms instead.   It’s superficially sweet-sounding–yay, pleasure!–but there’s some really obvious problems.  Not everyone can have orgasms, not everyone wants orgasms, and there are lots of people who have fabulous orgasms but they’re still assholes.

Over at The Hawkeye Initiative, “Special Guest Edition: The Hawkeye Initiative IRL!“:

work with an all-female team of data scientists, in the gaming industry. This makes me the professional equivalent of Amelia Earhart riding the Loch Ness Monster.

I love my job. Our company in particular is great. Firstly, our game (HAWKEN) is beautiful and people love it. Secondly, half of our executive branch is female. Half of them are punk rock, and all of them are badassed. Our gender awareness standards, compared to the industry at large, are top shelf. We are talking Amelia Earhart in Atlantis, at a five star resort, getting a mani-pedi from Jensen Ackles. I have it good.

For the last six months of my tenure at Meteor Entertainment, there has been only one thing I did not love about my job.

Felicia Day writes, “Star Trek Movie: SPOILERZZZZ“:

Where are the women?  The strong women?  The women we’d like to see in 200 years?  Where are they in this world?  They certainly aren’t around the roundtable when the Starfleet are learning about Khan (there might have been one in that scene, if so that extra was not cut to in any significant manner to be notable.)  In the scene where Kirk gets his ship back and the admiral is having a meeting with “important” people around a table later, I failed to see ONE WOMAN AROUND THAT TABLE, ALL MOSTLY WHITE MEN IMPLIED TO BE MAKING IMPORTANT DECISIONS TOGETHER.  Yes, these are just scenes with extras, but seriously, in the future not one woman over 40 is in charge in this world?!  How can that happen?

For main characters, Uhura had a FEW nice scenes (as a vehicle to humanize Spock mostly), but that other woman character was the WORST damsel in distress ever.  I kept waiting for her turn, waiting for her to not be the victim, to be a bit cleverer, to add to the equation in a “yeah you go girl” way but no, she was there to be sufficiently sexy that Kirk would acknowledge her existence, to be pretty, to serve the plot.  I loved her bob.  That’s it.  What if she had been a less attractive woman, older, overweight?  A tomboy?  Wouldn’t have that been a tad more interesting choice?  Or at least give her a moment where she’s not a princess waiting to be saved.  From a director who is so amazing, who created wonderful female characters in Alias and Felicity, I was super bummed by this.  A woman character CAN exist without having to be sexually desired by the guy.  Oh, and she doesn’t have to be a lesbian either, OMG WHAT A SURPRISING IDEA!

Jane J Lee at National Geographic writes, “6 Women Scientists Who Were Snubbed Due to Sexism“:

Over the centuries, female researchers have had towork as “volunteer” faculty members, seen credit for significant discoveries they’ve made assigned to male colleagues, and been written out of textbooks.

They typically had paltry resources and fought uphill battles to achieve what they did, only “to have the credit attributed to their husbands or male colleagues,” said Anne Lincoln, a sociologist at Southern Methodist University in Texas, who studies biases against women in the sciences.

Today’s women scientists believe that attitudes have changed, said Laura Hoopes at Pomona College in California, who has written extensively on women in the sciences—”until it hits them in the face.” Bias against female scientists is less overt, but it has not gone away.

Here are six female researchers who did groundbreaking work—and whose names are likely unfamiliar for one reason: because they are women.

Saman Shad at SBS World News writes, “Comment: Why are we debating ‘blackface’ in 2013?“:

But the question remains are we throwing the word ‘racist’ around willy-nilly? I guess the same question can be asked for sexism. Can a guy at work no longer comment on his female colleague’s legs and say that she’s got great pins? No. It makes the woman feel uncomfortable, it casts her as an object. This is a base comparison but for some it can help to understand the same stands true when the word racist is said. If something you said makes an outdated assumption or objectifies a person of colour then it’s probably racist.

A video on ABC News of one of their news cadets who happens to be blind, and the accommodations the ABC has put in place to help her do her job.  Sadly the manager is a bit trope-y about how inspiring Nas Campanella is, and how a sighted person couldn’t possibly manage the way Nas can.  Sadly the video isn’t captioned (that I can see).

At [insert literary reference], “Why Do Men Keep Putting Me in the Girlfriend-Zone?“:

You know how it is, right, ladies? You know a guy for a while. You hang out with him. You do fun things with him—play video games, watch movies, go hiking, go to concerts. You invite him to your parties. You listen to his problems. You do all this because you think he wants to be your friend.

But then, then comes the fateful moment where you find out that all this time, he’s only seen you as a potential girlfriend. And then if you turn him down, he may never speak to you again. This has happened to me time after time: I hit it off with a guy, and, for all that I’ve been burned in the past, I start to think that this one might actually care about me as a person. And then he asks me on a date.

An interesting discussion in The Economist about “The plough and the now“, how farming techniques may have led to patriarchy:

FERNAND BRAUDEL, a renowned French historian, once described a remarkable transformation in the society of ancient Mesopotamia. Sometime before the end of the fifth millennium BC, he wrote, the fertile region between the Tigris and the Euphrates went from being one that worshipped “all-powerful mother goddesses” to one where it was “the male gods and priests who were predominant in Sumer and Babylon.” The cause of this move from matriarchy, Mr Braudel argued, was neither a change in law nor a wholesale reorganisation of politics. Rather, it was a fundamental change in the technology the Mesopotamians used to produce food: the adoption of the plough.

The plough was heavier than the tools formerly used by farmers. By demanding significantly more upper-body strength than hoes did, it gave men an advantage over women. According to Mr Braudel, women in ancient Mesopotamia had previously been in charge of the fields and gardens where cereals were grown. With the advent of the plough, however, farming became the work of men. A new paper* by Alberto Alesina and Nathan Nunn of Harvard University and Paola Giuliano of the University of California, Los Angeles, finds striking evidence that ancient agricultural techniques have very long-lasting effects.

Kameron Hurley at A Dribble of Ink has written, “‘We Have Always Fought’: Challenging the ‘Women, Cattle and Slaves’ Narrative“, possibly one of my favourite posts of this year, and certainly one which has reminded me I need to write two novels:

When I sat down with one of my senior professors in Durban, South Africa to talk about my Master’s thesis, he asked me why I wanted to write about women resistance fighters.

“Because women made up twenty percent of the ANC’s militant wing!” I gushed. “Twenty percent! When I found that out I couldn’t believe it. And you know – women have never been part of fighting forces –”

He interrupted me. “Women have always fought,” he said.

“What?” I said.

“Women have always fought,” he said. “Shaka Zulu had an all-female force of fighters. Women have been part of every resistance movement. Women dressed as men and went to war, went to sea, and participated actively in combat for as long as there have been people.”

And now to bra fitting (UK sizing used), Sam at A Thousand Angsty Whales, all pumping iron (best blog title ever) writes, “DO IT NOW: Guide to Proper Bra Fit and Measuring because Victoria Secret and La Senza and whatever are full of shit and you are definitely wearing the wrong size ok? ok“.

Ann Aguirre writes, “This week in SF“:

So yeah. The audience noticed. I had slightly better experiences at WorldCon and ArmadilloCon, but I suspect it wasn’t as bad because I was roaming around with Sharon Shinn, who has more power and cachet than I had at that time. But I still encountered more than my share of fans, who dismissed my work. At that point, I was disheartened, and I stopped attending SFF cons entirely. I decided I’d rather spend my travel money otherwise. To quote my wonderful friend, Lauren Dane, “If I want to feel bad about myself, I’ll go swimsuit shopping.” My professional work shouldn’t be impacted by my gender, my appearance, my religion, my sexuality, my skin tone, or any other factor. The fact that it is? Makes me so very sad. I’ve had readers and writers stare at my rack instead of my face while “teaching” me how to suck eggs.

I’ve been fighting this battle for five years now.

Marianne at xojane writes, “Go On And Call Me Fat; It’s True“:

There is something incredibly powerful about seeing the word “fat” in print (metaphorical though that print may be in a virtual environment) when it isn’t attached to pictures of headless fatties and headlines about my impending death — and how much I’m costing society just by existing. It’s almost like feeling that our culture doesn’t want to eradicate me and my body.

That’s not a message I get anywhere else.

I use the word “fat” a whole hell of a lot. I use it so often that the predictive text on my cell phone inserts “fat” even when I mean “day” — which leads to tweets like “What I am going to do on this beautiful fat?”

Some friends and I even call each other “Fatty” — as in, “Hey, Fatty! Come eat this food with me.” Or whatever. Fatties do a lot of different things.

Stephanie Pappas at Scientific American writes, “New Sexual Revolution: Polyamory May Be Good for You“:

“People in these relationships really communicate. They communicate to death,” said Bjarne Holmes, a psychologist at Champlain College in Vermont. All of that negotiation may hold a lesson for the monogamously inclined, Holmes told LiveScience.

“They are potentially doing quite a lot of things that could turn out to be things that if people who are practicing monogamy did more of, their relationships would actually be better off,” Holmes said.

And finally a storify of Twitter comments (all positive) made during and after a talk by Anita Sarkeesian from Feminist Frequency regarding online harassment.

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