How many times have you seen that question? How many surveys, questionnaires, and/or polls have you been asked which gender you are? How many times have you seen it asked the other way? Continue reading The default human
How many times have you seen that question? How many surveys, questionnaires, and/or polls have you been asked which gender you are? How many times have you seen it asked the other way? Continue reading The default human
Graeme Garden was always my favourite Goodie. He was a mad scientist, an inventor, a megalomaniac, and sometimes the most frenzied of the group. His character spoke to me and my enjoyment of science, helping dad in the garage with things, and my developing interest in design. I always loved his one piece suits. He was my first geek role model.
My second geek role model was Doctor Who (and I believe my first doctor was probably Jon Pertwee, though looking at the timeline of each of the Doctors, it was more likely to be Tom Baker. Then again, with the way the ABC ran Doctor Who at the time, it’s hard to know exactly. So Doctor Who saved the universe, and Earth, time and time again, had fun gadgets, understood maths and science, and travelled through time and space (what’s not to like?).
I don’t recall any female geek role models that I really identified with when I was growing up. Marmalade Atkins was a role model on rebelling and questioning everything, which is one of the lessons my parents also taught me – though not how Marmalade Atkins went about it. 3-2-1 Contact (the more grown up version of Sesame Street) had women involved, but as it screened at odd times in Australia (again on the ABC) I didn’t watch enough of it to identify with any of the presenters. Penny from Inspector Gadget was almost someone I could relate to, but she was a cartoon, and that made the whole thing unreal for me. The sad state of affairs of ABC children’s TV programming in the 1980s meant that for the most part we heard the stories of the boys and men over the stories of women (not having children and therefore not consuming children’s TV currently, I don’t know if this is still true).
So all my geek role models were men. Which meant, in part, that geekery when I was growing up was not a feminine thing. That to be a geek and female was unusual, so being a geek and feminine probably didn’t work out. I had a fairly normal childhood (well ok, it wasn’t that normal), I did ballet for 8 years, sang in choirs, rode a bike, had friends, learnt how to cook, and attempted to fit in – in Alice Springs not so much of a problem, but in Bendigo a nightmare.
The biggest issue is that I grew up without female geek role models. I didn’t know at the time about my cousin Hillary Booth, who had a PhD in mathematics and no doubt was a geek and I am sad I never met her. So growing up I separated geekery and femininity as they couldn’t go together. To be a geek meant that I couldn’t be feminine, so I attempted to distance myself from femininity and those who practised it. Which means that I didn’t have much time for many of the girls I went to school with, and they didn’t have much time for me as a result. I did have female friends, but they were geeks like me, stuck between the masculine and the feminine. Being female but not is still something I live today, but these days I no longer distance myself from those who practice femininity. I understand a lot more about feminism, gender constructions, the Kyriarchy, Geekdom, privilege and class than I used to thanks to the power of the internet, friends, and the awesomeness of the feminist blogosphere.
I’ve just remembered George from The Famous Five (TV Series) as a female role model I related to. Though sadly with that series you had the two options Anne or George. The Wikipedia entry describes them both:
Georgina is a tomboy and insists that people call her George. With her short hair and boy’s clothes she is often mistaken for a boy, which pleases her enormously. Like her father, Quentin, George has a fiery temper. She is fierce, headstrong and very loyal to those she loves. She is sometimes extremely stubborn and causes trouble for her mother as well as her cousins. She is very possessive of Timothy (Timmy), her dog. George is cousin to siblings Julian, Dick and Anne and is aged 11 at the start of the series and 16 at the end. In Five Have Plenty of Fun, Five Fall Into Adventure, and Five Go To Mystery Moor there were tomboys like her.
Anne is the youngest in the group, and generally takes care of their domestic duties during the Five’s various camping holidays. As the youngest, she is more likely than the others to become frightened and does not really enjoy the adventures as much as the others. She is 10 years old in the first book of the series and 15 in the last. As a small girl, she sometimes lets her tongue run away with her, but ultimately she is as brave and resourceful as the others. She likes doing the domestic things such as planning, organising and preparing meals, keeping where they are staying clean and tidy, be it a cave, house, tent or caravan. In Smuggler’s Top it is suggested she is claustrophobic as she is frightened of enclosed spaces since it reminds her of bad dreams she has – however this just shows how brave she really is as the adventures invariably lead the five into tunnels, down wells, in dungeons and other enclosed spaces.
So I could have the fierce, headstrong role model, or the domestic goddess who frightens easily. Top marks for guessing which one I related to – yes that’s right the girl who wants to be a boy.
Things that I have read about the place and thought that would be interesting to share:
The Nation writes about Obama standing up to Catholic Bishops, which has been a topic of discussion on twitter and elsewhere.
As if it had finally noticed that women out- number bishops, the Obama administra tion has decided against permitting religious organizations a broad exemption from rules requiring that all methods of contraception be covered, with no co-payment, by health insurance plans. Strictly religious organizations—churches, missions and such—will be exempt, but not universities, hospitals and charities. As a public health matter, this is excellent news: for women whose health plans don’t cover birth control, it can be difficult to obtain and costs hundreds of dollars a year out of pocket.
As part of “Why I am an Athiest” on Pharyngula, Frances shares her thoughts on atheism and feminism *trigger warning for discussion of sexual harassment and rape*:
I wondered where god was in all this. Not in an angry, he-should-have-my-back sort of way, but in a literal way. I went to church every Sunday for my entire life, and as near as I can tell, god has no opinions at all on rape, sexual harassment, sexual assault, or actually any of the issues women have to deal with. I knew the church was against abortion, premarital sex, and being gay (I was raised catholic in an area with lots of fundamentalists), but beyond that, there was literally no guidance. There were no ethics relating to this at all, or if there were, the priests were very tight-lipped about them.
Sandy Ghandi writes on The Anti Bogan about the racism she’s faced in Australia, in “F**k Off You Indian Monkey“:
The reply from the newsdesk was probably predictable, although I didn’t see it coming. After all, I had been submitting my weekly column to the Northern Star for four years, receiving the the stellar payment of $50 (raised from $30 after some agitation).
The email came from the then acting editor and he said, in part: “I know you are trying to push the envelope and be feisty but I think in trying to do that you sometimes confuse the point you are trying to make.”
“Like it or not, we are a family newspaper (the demographic is 40-65, mainly professional people working in Lismore, Casino and Ballina). That’s a fairly conservative audience so swear words are not going to go down too well.
“… thank you for your input to the Star, but we won’t be reconsidering the decision (to cease your column), nor will we be asking readers what they think. If we do cop some backlash and get some letters to the editor, we’ll run these in the appropriate place.”
From the new and awesome blog Queereka, “Sunday School Salutations” which is soon (probably already has) launched a sex advice column and is seeking questions:
The most instructive answer I got was “your first column must contain at least two (2) hymen jokes.” However, this answer is mostly useful because it is pretty bad advice, at least as regards the goal of this column and this blog. I mean, not to get all RAWR HETEROSEXISM on my friend (who was, of course, making a joke), but one of the goals I have for Sunday School in the first place is to tear down the dominant narrative about sex. Raise your hands, dear readers: did your first sexual experience involve hymen rupture?
Yeah, mine didn’t, either.
The Huff Post lists some very interesting tech failures at marketing products to women, noting that women are already big consumers of electronics.
On Monday HSN announced the results of a survey by the international research firm Parks Associates that asked 2,000 adults about purchases they wanted to make before 2012. The results showed women outstripped men in their interest in owning electronics, with 18 percent of women planning on buying a tablet before 2012 (compared to 15 percent of men), 20 percent of women wanted a laptop (only 14 percent of men did) and 20 percent of women planning on purchasing smartphones — compared to 17 percent of men, Mashable reports.
The MailOnline has an interesting piece on the BMI of models and how they would be ranked as anorexic. This article is NSFW – there is nude “plus” size model posing with a “straight” model.
Tesseral Harmonics reblogs (it’s Tumblr, I’m not sure how it works really) on ““Bisexual” is not oppressive, can we talk about biphobia and straight privilege? and other thoughts on bisexuality”:
It’s a big problem that people who are bisexually identified (or engage in bisexual behavior) are dismissed and mocked by gay/queer/lesbian people. I honestly don’t think I need to spell out an explanation of why it’s important for spaces that call themselves “queer” or “LGBT” to be inclusive. In short, anyone who is bi (in name or behavior) is still queer and may need support as a queer person. Biphobia also makes it difficult for anyone who is gay-identified and experiencing sexual fluidity (Lisa Diamond’s research on sexual fluidity (pdf) is super interesting, btw). It also means that gay people who are in “straight” relationships for whatever reasons (family and religion are two examples) are dismissed by the queer community. Biphobia is part of a culture of identity-policing, where if you don’t adhere closely enough to the requirements delineated by the official bureau of gayness you’re out of the club.
The last (and second ever) linkspam for 2011. Here are some articles and/or links that I’ve found interesting over the past… whenever it was since the last time I did this. (Blogging sporadically because I’m playing lots of Skyrim).
The awesome Greta Christina blogged on why “Yes, but” is a terrible response to misogyny *trigger warning for discussion of rape*.
When the topic of misogyny comes up, and men change the subject, it trivializes misogyny.
When the topic of misogyny comes up, and men change the subject, it conveys the message that whatever men want to talk about is more important than misogyny.
When the topic of misogyny comes up, and men change the subject to something that’s about them, it conveys the message that men are the ones who really matter, and that any harm done to men is always more important than misogyny.
And when the topic of misogyny comes up, and men change the subject, it comes across as excusing misogyny. It doesn’t matter how many times you say, “Yes, of course, misogyny is terrible.” When you follow that with a “Yes, but…”, it comes across as an excuse. In many cases, it is an excuse. And it contributes to a culture that makes excuses for misogyny.
The anti-discrimination blog (formally The Anti-bogan) asks Why is Facebook is Protecting Pro Rape Language and Abuse of Women? *Trigger warning for discussion of rape*
If it was not clear before, we must understand now that Facebook wasn’t built for us — it was built for the profit of the very few. That Facebook is of value to the public as a communications platform is only important to Facebook insofar as it allows them to sell targeted advertising against our own speech. Its governing document, the Terms of Service, has been repeatedly applied unfairly and without accountability to its users, as its purpose is to legally protect Facebook from our conduct, not provide us with a free space, or even a safe space. Facebook needs to be only as minimally welcoming to us so as to ensure our return to use it again. And that we might use Facebook as a public square for activism? Not even in the business model.
I recently watched This Gamer Girl Manefesto Pwns, it is awesome – if you’re a gamer please click and enjoy.
And this video is just full of the win
I love computer games. I’ve been playing them since I was at least 10, so for the majority of my life. And, in what used to be something unusual, I’m a female gamer. Like all computer gamers (and people who read books, watch TV, grow plants, etc), I prefer some types of games over others. I’ve never been much of a first person shooter (FPS), though there have been the odd FPS I’ve enjoyed multiplaying with friends/the household. I’ve always tended to play god/civilisation-sims (Civilisation, Populous, Sim City, Tropico, etc) and Role Playing Games (yes those based on AD&D style mechanics).
One of the things I’ve noticed about these games is that either you’re playing a faceless character with no specific gender (though the nations in Civilisation are represented by particular historic figures who are gendered), or you can create your own character and pick the image or now the entire appearance that this character has for the game.
Bluejuice, one of my favourite Australian bands (they’re very funky) released a new single this week called Act Yr Age. I watched it because I thought, “Hey, awesome… new song by cool band” and then continued watching it wondering what the fuck I’d just seen. My initial reaction was revulsion, because that’s what we’re trained to see in this clip, that’s what society tells us is revolting and wrong and icky, and that’s what I want to explore. (Clip and the rest under the jump)
I was catching up on Australian news today, now that I’ve returned from Malaysia, and stumbled across an article about the Freemasons in Sydney as their election of a new Grand Master.
The journalist thought that this was an appropriate comment to make:
Some may have looked like cardinals, while others sported more bling than a man really should.
Clearly, thinks whichever anonymous journalist for the AAP that wrote this article, there is an upper limit on how much jewellery a man can wear before his manliness should be called into account. As men should never have their manliness called into account (they might be wearing enough jewellery to be mistaken for women!), they should be careful how much jewellery they wear.
I call bollocks.
For those of you who don’t know, I’m heading off to Malaysia for a week starting tonight (yay!). The oddest thing about planning this holiday has been dealing with one of my work colleagues who has bought into the whole beauty standard ideal.
She’d had a holiday about a month and a bit ago to Thailand with her partner, and we’d been sharing holiday aspirations since before she had planned that trip, so once my husband had gotten his passport organised I told her that we’d set dates and bought tickets. She told that of course I was going to get waxed before my holidays and told me that she hadn’t been waxed since and… stuff. Then earlier this week she came up to me and asked if I had been waxed yet (I had, but only because I wanted to be, not because I should), and then asked when I was going to get my toenails done.
I was baffled, because toes are toes… and I certainly don’t see the need to paint my toenails to make my feet something other than they are – well more colourful. I do, very rarely, paint my toenails because it amuses me to have colours on my feet, but I don’t see it as some social obligation, or even something that is done (apparently I’m wrong in this regard).
I said, to end the conversation – which it sadly didn’t, that I might get mine done in Malaysia. This suggestion was met with horror… because apparently they may use inferior polish which might stain (which I thought was the point), and because the hygiene standards for their tools would probably be lower than in Australia.
Apparently feet are ugly, and painting your toenails somehow makes your feet less ugly, or your feet’s ugliness less noticeable. I actually think my feet are pretty and that my toes are cute. What you believe about feet in general is not my concern, and I’d much rather look after my own feet without interference from other people.
After the topic changed from feet, my colleague told me a story about another work place she’d been in where she’d worked with a “not-girly-girl” who was going away on a holiday with her newish boyfriend. My colleague asked her if she’d “groomed” herself (meaning waxed), or was she going to get groomed prior to leaving. When the “non-girly” colleague figured out the innuendo, she said she hadn’t yet, and my colleague and another colleague explained that is was very important to be appropriately groomed and that everything had to be in the right place. After that they then suggested to this woman that she needed to pain her toenails, and when she bought the wrong colour nailpolish (green – something I assume that she thought was attractive), they got a friend of hers to take her shopping for a better colour.
My previous (Federal Government) workplace did not have conversations in it like this. I don’t actually have the tools for these conversations other than, “uh-huh”, “yes” and “oh really?”. I don’t know how to challenge someone who believes that dictating how I should groom, especially when they’re not going to see it. I know I can lie (and not even feel remotely guilty for doing so) here to a) make her happy that I’ve done something which I may or may not have; and b) get her to go to something else.
I’d much rather gently suggest to her that what she’s doing is wrong, rude, and incredibly judgemental. This colleague is senior to me (both in time spent in the organisation and in level), so I’m not sure how I’d start such a conversation. My current responses also involve a level of “HAH” when she goes away or I come home from work and tell the husbands about it.
Prior to reading First in their Field: Women and Australian Anthropology (edited by Julie Marcus) I had almost no understanding of what anthropology actually was. I understood that it was a study of people, but since there was also sociology, which I took to be the understanding of people in modern society, so therefore anthropology was the study of people now gone.
And then I read First in their Field, and learnt about Australian women breaking major ground (mostly unrecognised) in anthropology, creating fieldwork and what anthropology, at least at the turn of the 1900s was. I was disgusted to find out what anthropology actually was and the harm that it has caused.
This was brought back to my mind when I started reading Feminism FOR REAL: Deconstructing the academic industrial complex of feminism (edited by Jessica Yee). The second essay by Krysta Williams and Erin Konsmo has the following (pg 26 – 27):
First off, as has been well stated by many Indigenous Feminist before us, the idea of gender equality did not come from the suffragettes or other so-called “foremothers” of feminist theory. It should also be recognized that although we are still struggling for this thing called “gender equality”, it is not actually a framed issue within the feminist realm, but a continuation of the larger tackling of colonialism. So this idea in mainstream feminism that women of colour all of a sudden realized “we are women”, and magically joined the feminist fight actually re-colonizes people for who gender equality and other “feminist” notions is a remembered history and current reality since before Columbus. THe mainstream feminist movement is supposed to have started in the early 1900s with women fighting for the right to vote. However, these white women deliberately excluded the struggles of working class women of colour and participated in the policy of forced sterilization for Aboriginal women and women with disabilities. Furthermore, the idea that we all need to subscribe to the same theoretical understandings of history is marginalizing. We all have our own truths and histories to live.
and (pg 28)
All that the mainstream feminist movement is trying to claim today is merely a reflection of what an Indigenous person (including women, men, Two-Spirit, trans or different gender identifying people) sees when they look in the mirror. There is this feeling amongst “innovative thinkers” that we need to reach forward to build and/or discover a “new society” that includes gender equality. But we know that for us, as a community, this simply means a return to our Indigenous ways of life, a decolonization of our communities which will bring back gender equality. This is something that we have been fighting for and resisting since contact. However, being pushed forward by progressives while trying to hold onto and remember the past, honour our Elders and teachings – which being present – is a painful experience!
When reading First in their Field, the essayists wrote about the early female anthropologists living with various Indigenous tribes in remote Australia (well most of Australia at that time was remote). The essayists discussed how those female anthrpologists, with the exception of Daisy Bates who pretended to be a male spirit, accessed the spiritual realm of Indigenous women, learning about their ceremonies, their laws and how they fit into tribal society.
Prior to these female anthropologists living with the Indigenous inhabitants of Australia, white male anthropologists had determined that much like many white women at the time, Indigenous women occupied the domestic sphere, had no spiritual life and were much less than men, as they had been unable to access (and were not overly interested in) Indigenous women’s experience. The cut and paste of white society’s gender roles onto the gender roles of Indigenous Australians has no doubt caused the same level of harm as recounted by Williams and Konsmo.
The study of other societies as something less than white, European culture, as something you’d study as if looking at a collection of spores in a petri dish, thinking that you can study another society or culture without bringing in your own biases, issues and prejudices is just laughable and really wrong. There is no objectivity when studying another group of people, and no way to study another group of people without your presence making an impact on them (unless of course that society/culture doesn’t exist any more and you’re studying it from afar (such as Incan civilisations pre-Spanish invasion)).
The arrogance of my “ancestors” and the damage that they have caused Indigenous Australians makes me deeply ashamed and sorry that so much damage was done.
(Update: now with References)
One bit I left out of my blog post last night, or perhaps didn’t explain in the way I intended, is the direct harm that anthropology caused to Australia’s Indigenous inhabitants. Anthropologists were seen to be experts on Indigenous people and therefore were asked to provide advice to Governments and to fill roles such as “Protectors of Aboriginies” (First in their Field). If they did not come up with the idea of forcible removal of children from Indigenous communities, they certainly supported it. In Isobel White’s essay on Daisy Bates she states (pg 63 – 64):
By today’s standards many of Daisy Bate’s suggestions for the welfare of Aborigines seem impossible, absurd and an infringement of human rights. She believed that the Aborigines were on their way to extinction and her idea applied only to the declining number of those of full descent. She cared not at all what happened to the part-descent population, whose very existence she deplored. Consequently her suggestion for the full-descent population was to segregate them from all but minimum contact with Europeans so that there should be no more mixed unions. … Since she regarded them as incapable of governing themselves, they should be governed by a High Commissioner who, she insisted, must be a British, Anglican gentleman.
To no anthropologist would endorse a policy of taking children from their mothers and sending them to institutions where ‘civilised’ values and habits would be taught. But this was the policy in both Western Australia and South Australia where Mrs Bates was Honorary Protector of Aboriginies successively. The duties of these posts included reporting to the local police the birth or existence of so-called ‘half-caste’ children so that they might be seized, by force if necessary, and sent to an appropriate institution. Presumable Daisy Bates accepted this part of her duties and there is evidence that in at least one case she acted on it.
Feminism FOR REAL: Deconstructing the academic industrial complex of feminism, edited by Jessica Yee, 2001, DLR International Printing, Canada
First in the Field: Women and Australian Anthropology, edited by Julie Marcus, 1993, Melbourne University Press, Carlton, Australia