Tag Archives: gender

I believe in limitations on free speech

I don’t think that speech which harms minoritised groups should be protected. I don’t think that giving another platform to someone who has engaged in hate speech regarding a minoritised group is necessary or that it will add to any ongoing debate. I don’t think that providing a platform to someone who has engaged in hate speech will in any way help them realise that they are harming a group of people, nor will it educate those who are on the fence regarding an issue. In my opinion all it does is reaffirm their existing position, it does not give them an opportunity to learn about how they have harmed others, nor an opportunity for others who do not understand that harm, to understand it better.  I am really not a fan of people (who usually have multiple other platforms) being given another platform to other or dehumanise groups of vulnerable people.

Before I go any further I want to state I am not a trans person, I am cis-gendered.  I do my best to be a good ally to the trans community, but I will (and do) fuck up from time to time.  I will do my best to learn from my mistakes.

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Welcome to the 89th Down Under Feminists’ Carnival

Come one, come all to the 89th Down Under Feminists’ Carnival.  I know an apostrophe goes in there somewhere, and that is where it goes today.  There are many wonderful things about the number 89, it’s 24th prime number, following 83 and preceding 97. 89 is a Chen prime and a Pythagorean prime. It is the smallest Sophie Germain prime to start a Cunningham chain of the first kind of six terms, {89, 179, 359, 719, 1439, 2879}. 89 is an Eisenstein prime with no imaginary part and real part of the form 3n - 1. M89 is the 10th Mersenne prime. (all from Wikipedia)  I don’t know what most of that actually means, but I share it for your edumacation.

Anyway, September was yet another fantastic month to be a blogger in Australia and New Zealand, particularly a feminist blogger.  There was the “knifing” of Tony Abbott, a new Minister for Women in Australia, a new Australian Prime Minister (more primes), Chris Brown effectively banned from Australia, lots of commentary on the scourge of domestic violence, spring started and Melbourne eventually started to warm up.  I haven’t been paying attention to the weather in other parts of Australia and New Zealand, so I hope your weather was also more spring like, and less winter/summer like.

If you reside in Australia or New Zealand and you’d like to host a future Down Under Feminist Carnival please let Chally know here.  It’s not very difficult, and I promise I will help by sharing relevant posts with you.  And now on with the carnival.

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Nature, nuture and terrible headlines

*Trigger warning for discussion of rape and violence against women*

So Lionel Shriver, who I have just discovered is a woman thanks to the power of the internet and the power of my brain to attribute the name Lionel to a man, wrote an article with an incredibly poor headline on a study looking at whether or not sexual offending runs in families.  The study found that it does to an extent.

Shriver’s headline – which may have been chosen by an editor – was, “Don’t be so hysterical about sex crimes“, though the URL for the article suggests that the less alarmist headline might have been “Swedish sex study sex offenders genetic tendency behavior not preordained” at a point in time, even though that doesn’t make a lot of sense.

From the beginning of the article, Shriver writes:

Across more than 20,000 cases of male sex offences in Sweden 1973–2009, men with brothers or fathers convicted of sex offences were five times more likely than average to commit the same kind of crime. (The chances were 2.5% if sexual predation ran in the family, 0.5% among the general male population.) The study’s authors brandish numerous disclaimers: they’re not giving offenders an excuse, proposing male relatives of rapists be imprisoned or isolating a sex-abuse gene. But they believe the finding of a broad genetic proclivity paves the way for prevention strategies. As one forensic psychiatrist put it: “If interventions can be provided that are not harmful, this is an opportunity.”

Imagine being the son or brother of a man imprisoned for sexual assault – traumatic in itself. A social worker rings the doorbell. She offers therapy, anger management or gender–sensitivity training – when you’ve done nothing wrong. Wouldn’t you slam the door in her face, after telling the busybody from PreCrime where she can shove her “prevention strategies”?

Right off the bat Shriver uses emotive language.  The authors are “brandishing” disclaimers regarding the study, instead of “The study’s authors provided the following disclaimers regarding their study…” which would be much better reporting.

And yes, imagine finding out that your father or brother had sexually assaulted someone – surely most people would be horrified and would grasp at offers to help – and probably want to not be that person – unless as Shriver is suggesting, masculinity is so incredibly toxic that being just like your offending family member is a good thing.

Would you slam the door in the face of a woman (and note that especially Shriver made the social worker in this scenario a woman) wanting to help you?  Probably if you grew up in a household where women were considered less than fully human.  A proper psychiatric evaluation would have to take into account the attitude that the individuals concerned would have towards women given the environment they grew up in and the nature of the offence that their family member committed.

And I’m also suggesting that a mandatory reporter type role, as Shriver is suggesting this would be, is a “busybody” (another term only applied to women) sounds very similiar to the responses the US Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) has regarding Government oversight of children who are being home schooled, that the Government doesn’t trust people, that they are interfering, and that they want to take rights away from parents.

That vision is only preposterous to an extent. Because we already treat sex offenders as if they’re genetically marked. There’s no other crime on the books that you never live down and for which you never finish paying your debt. Released sex offenders must lodge their whereabouts with the police, whether their offence was violent rape or mere voyeurism, and may be electronically tagged.

They’re required to inform police if they leave home for a week or more, and to ask permission to holiday abroad (sometimes denied). Police are licensed to identify sex offenders to members of the public. Those given sentences of more than 30 months are put permanently on the sex offenders register, like Santa Claus’s list of who’s been naughty and nice. We don’t treat these people as folk who’ve done wrong, but as folk who are wrong – hopelessly and irredeemably dangerous because of what they are.

Wow, I don’t know how many sex offenders Shriver knows, or people who have been accused of raping or sexually assaulting someone, but there are certainly a large number of them who walk around, free to travel, free to do as they please while their victim/s suffer trauma for the rest of their lives.  Roman Polanski, Jimmy Saville, Mike Tyson, R Kelly, Woody Allan, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, and Tupac Shakur all seem to be going quite well regardless of their convictions or accusations.  They’re all quite wealthy which probably does play a part in why they get around so well, but get around well they certainly do.

[Update: I’ve been advised that Tupac died around 20 years ago, so is clearly not walking around enjoying himself (unless he’s come back from the dead).  This error is entirely mine and was a result of insufficient research late at night.]

One point that Shriver fails to mention is that some men are actually “hopelessly and irredeemably dangerous”.  Adrian Bayley was on parole for other sex crimes when he raped and killed Jill Meagher, he is certainly a man who is hopelessly and irredeemably dangerous.  How many chances do you give a man to redeem himself before you mark him as unredeemable and permanently dangerous?

When it’s a war against the very survival of women, shouldn’t those men who have demonstrated a complete lack of concern regarding our safety, autonomy and consent be punished and made to redeem themselves in our eyes?  Here is a list of crimes against women in Australia for just this year.  Just 2015 so far, and it grows almost every day.

And maybe those people who sexually assault and rape other people are wrong, raping and sexually assaulting people should not be part of our modern world.

In this sense, the Swedish study’s results are unwelcome. If anything, we need to dial down the hysteria over sex crimes, increasingly regarded as more horrific than murder, and allow for the possibility that some people make a mistake and don’t repeat it, even if that mistake is of a sexual sort.

Oh, we need to be less concerned about sex crimes?  I’ll just tell that to Adrian Bayley’s victims shall I?  Or perhaps the other women, myself included, who have been raped at some point.

I don’t know which world Shriver lives in where sex crimes are more horrific than murder, because the number of politicians in Australia, the UK, and the US who are doing something about sex crimes against women and children, and the number of politicians who are doing something about the murder of women is incredibly low.

There is no Royal Commission in Australia against the high levels of intimate partner violence in Australia which is at epic highs.  This year alone has seen an unprecedented number of women die at the hands of their current or past partners.

I also find Shriver’s statement that some sex crimes are “mistakes” and that people don’t repeat them problematic.  I agree that there are instances where two minors are sexually active, and one reaches the age of majority and is suddenly committing an offence – and that situation is tricky.  However, this is completely different to someone failing to consider that the person they are assaulting is saying “NO”, or is unable to provide consent, and that’s completely ok, and they won’t do it again next time.

Perhaps instead of saying that someone won’t repeat this “mistake” Shriver should be pushing for better relationship and sexual education.

We’re rounding on that hoary old “nature versus nurture” debate, always artificial. Common sense dictates that neither influence is absolute; the question is one of proportion. (Those Swedish scientists gave it a number: for sex crimes, the risk is 40% nature.)

So 60% – the bigger number is possibly environmental/nurture.  If I have a 40% chance of experiencing the side effect of a medication, then there is a 60% chance that I won’t.  For those men who have a 40% nature component and a high environmental/nurture component, then surely intervening early and ensuring that they stay out of prison by not committing crimes is a good thing.  Shriver can only think that interventions are stigmatising and possibly traumatic.  She is only looking at it from one angle and ignoring the greater good for all of society that an intervention could take – including to the individual who wouldn’t offend and end up in jail.

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I wandered lonely as a linkspam (October 2014)

So, in a very short time I gathered a wide range of interesting posts and I need to close out several tabs in my browser, so here we are and I’m sharing more interesting (well at least to me) things with you.  If you are not interested in linkspam today, go and check out my cookbook blog, and look at all the cooking I’ve been doing recently.

Ian Baker writes at Medium, “Growing Up Poor With Three Parents“:

It’s easy to see why people might come to think of polyamory, at least in the form they see today, as the purview of “rich, pretty people with too much time on their hands.” However, this viewpoint fails to acknowledge the underprivileged nonmonogamists among us — it serves to alienate the disadvantaged, to discourage them from even trying it. This denies polyamory’s considerable economic, social, and structural benefits to those who need them the most.

I am a second-generation poly person, who grew up in the eighties. My parents were quite poor when I was born, and I’ve experienced a great deal of class mobility over the course of my life. I’ve witnessed first-hand how economic privilege is not a requirement for nonmonogamy. In fact, the nontraditional nature of my family directly facilitated my own escape from a life of poverty. This is what it was like for me, growing up poor in America with two moms and a dad.

Juliet Khan at Comics Alliance writes, “Fear As A Way Of Life: Why Women In Comics Don’t ‘Just Report’ Sexual Harassment“:

Fear is also meant to keep us safe from sexual harassment, assault and abuse. We’re told not to stay out too late, not to go out alone, not to drink, not to lead anyone on, not to go home with anyone, not to ever feel safe in any situation that a man might take advantage of. If you fear the (implicitly common) worst from the men around you, you will escape it. When harassment, assault, and abuse take place anyway, fear is often a distinctly purposeful element of the encounter. Sometimes, this is subtle—it might take place in a deliberately secluded spot, or the perpetrator might be in a position of power over your future. Or, in the case of rape-and-death-threat style online harassment, the naked point of it might be to instill fear. After the harassment, assault, or abuse has taken place, it is fear that keeps women from speaking out. Fear of being branded the whiny bitch, of enduring the Anita Sarkeesian experience, or having one’s career torpedoed by a thousand nerds high on a lifetime’s worth of entitlement and vitriol.

Fear is what keeps us silent. Fear is what keeps men from understanding the ubiquity of these experiences. Fear is what keeps us from attaching a name to our allegations. Fear is what makes harassment, assault, and abuse a rite of passage for women in this industry and the world beyond. Fear, in this society, is what makes you a woman. And fear, in extinguishing discussion of its cruelties, keeps us from understanding its nature and better dismantling it.

Michelle Garcia writes at Advocate.com, “Op-ed: My Bi Choice“:

During my first year here, I was just glad to have a job. I pitched dumb articles and prayed I wouldn’t screw anything up (I did. A lot). But paired with being at the bottom of the totem pole on the staff, I also felt like my own sexuality was still not valid. I had a boyfriend and barely had any lady experience. I had lived through all kinds of racism and sexism, but the extent of overt homophobia hurled at me involved some stupid girl in eighth grade calling me a dyke, and me replying, “So?” and then she shrugged, and then music class started. Here I was writing articles about people being murdered solely for being transgender, or people being prevented from marrying or serving openly in the military. There were bigger problems in the world than my bi invisibility. So I failed to speak up. Often. I simply didn’t feel gay enough.

Kate Hakala at Nerve writes, “The Weird and Troubling History of Bisexuality Studies“:

Today marks the 15th annual Celebrate Bisexuality Day — a day dedicated to bringing respect, visibility, and awareness to all people who identify as having fluid identities. Since more than half of the LGBT community is comprised of bisexuals (1.8% of the total American population), it’s important to give recognition to a group that includes people of all gender identities from cis to trans and sexual orientations from queer to pansexual. We’re talking everyone from Anna Paquin, to Cynthia Nixon, Chirlane McCray, Tom Daley, Angelina Jolie, Billie Joe Armstrong, Megan Fox, Clive Davis, Megan Mullally, Andy Dick, David Bowie, and Lady Gaga.

Bisexuality can sometimes feel like a largely invisible orientation because of its historic neglect and ridicule in both the media and sciences. Often times, bisexuality can be portrayed as “greedy,” “a bridging mechanism,” to homosexuality, or worse, “imaginary.” All of which, of course, are inaccurate. In honor of bisexual visibility, Nerve took a look back at landmark scientific investigations which discussed both the validity and invalidity of bisexuality through the decades. This is how we got from Alfred Kinsey to Tom Daley.

Melissa Parke’s speech was published in The Guardian, “No one should be fooled into believing security is as simple as greater surveillance and deeper silence“:

I question the premise of the government’s general approach to this area of policy, which is essentially that freedoms must be constrained in response to terrorism; and that the introduction of greater obscurity and impunity in the exercise of government agency powers that contravene individual freedoms will both produce, and are justified in the name of, greater security.

If we want to continue our lives free from terrorism and orchestrated violence – so the argument goes – we have to accept shifting the balance between freedom and constraint away from the observance of basic rights and towards greater surveillance, more interference, deeper silence.

Let me say that no one should be fooled into believing it is as simple as that.

Catherine Buni and Soraya Chemaly write at The Atlantic, “The Unsafety Net: How Social Media Turned Against Women“:

All of this raised a series of troubling questions: Who’s proliferating this violent content? Who’s controlling its dissemination? Should someone be? In theory, social media companies are neutral platforms where users generate content and report content as equals. But, as in the physical world, some users are more equal than others. In other words, social media is more symptom than disease: A 2013 report from the World Health Organization called violence against women “a global health problem of epidemic proportion,” from domestic abuse, stalking, and street harassment to sex trafficking, rape, and murder. This epidemic is thriving in the petri dish of social media.

At this summer’s VidCon, an annual nationwide convention held in Southern California, women vloggers shared an astonishing number of examples. The violent threats posted beneath YouTube videos, they observed, are pushing women off of this and other platforms in disproportionate numbers. When Anita Sarkeesian launched a Kickstarter to help fund a feminist video series called Tropes vs. Women, she became the focus of a massive and violently misogynistic cybermob. Among the many forms of harassment she endured was a game where thousands of players “won” by virtually bludgeoning her face. In late August, she contacted the police and had to leave her home after she received a series of serious violent online threats.

Danielle Keats Citron, law professor at the University of Maryland and author of the recently released book Hate Crimes in Cyberspace, explained, “Time and time again, these women have no idea often who it is attacking them. A cybermob jumps on board, and one can imagine that the only thing the attackers know about the victim is that she’s female.” Looking at 1,606 cases of “revenge porn,” where explicit photographs are distributed without consent, Citron found that 90 percent of targets were women. Another study she cited found that 70 percent of female gamers chose to play as male characters rather than contend with sexual harassment.

This type of harassment also fills the comment sections of popular websites. In August, employees of the largely female-staffed website Jezebel published an open letter to the site’s parent company, Gawker, detailing the professional, physical, and emotional costs of having to look at the pornographic GIFs maliciously populating the site’s comments sections everyday. “It’s like playing whack-a-mole with a sociopathic Hydra,” they wrote, insisting that Gawker develop tools for blocking and tracking IP addresses. They added, “It’s impacting our ability to do our jobs.”

Camille Beredjick writes at Everyday Feminism, “Why Some Bisexuals Don’t Feel Welcome in the Queer Community“:

As queer issues are beginning to get public attention, and awareness of gay and lesbian relationships is rising, there’s one group that often gets left out in the cold: bisexual people.

Inae Oh at Mother Jones writes, “Ladies, Let Sarah Silverman Convince You to Get a Sex Change to Fix the Gender Wage Gap“:

Sarah Silverman, “writer, comedian, and vagina owner,” is no longer going to wait for the rest of the country to get on board to fix this inequality. In a new satirical video, she proposes the only rational solution left—get a sex change.

“Every year the average woman loses around $11,000 to the wage gap,” Silverman explains, while waiting patiently to choose the perfect penis for her surgical transformation. “Over the course of the working years of her life, that’s almost 500 grand.”

At Go Make Me a Sandwich, “D&D 5E: Why so many wimmenz??“:

UGH WIMMENZ WHY DOES THE NEW D&D HAVE SO MANY OF THEM THEY ARE OBJECTIVELY TERRIBLE AMIRITE AND ALSO BROWN PEOPLE DON’T RUIN MY FANTASY ABOUT MAGIC AND DRAGONS WITH BROWN WOMEN WTF IS WRONG WITH YOU

Jesus, internet. Could you maybe try to be less awful some time?

So here we go. Because it’s a thing worth saying, here are some reasons why D&D 5E is great and is totally a thing that tabletop gaming needed. (Spoilers: it’s the art)

Also, taking a step back, look at the characters being depicted here. These characters all come from obviously distinct cultures. So not only do we have group portraits that include a variety of ethnic backgrounds, but we also have PoC adventurers who come from obviously non-white cultures, rather than being rolled into some White Fantasy Crypto-European culture.

Which is really just the best, because yay social justice! But also because White Fantasy Crypto-Europe has gotten boring as shit. So the fact that WoTC has taken effort to portray a variety of cultures that go beyond different flavors of white people is amazing, because it’s new and exciting.

Howard Hotson at Times Higher Education writes, “Germany’s great tuition fees U-turn“:

Why did Germany introduce tuition fees in the first place? The answer, in short, is that politicians favoured the idea. Self-styled “modernisers” had been advocating tuition fees since German reunification in 1990. Cultural differences between east and west initially hindered this plan, but the main obstacle was a federal law banning tuition fees, which echoed provisions guaranteeing free education in the constitutions of individual states. In 2005, however, the Federal Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe ruled that moderate fees, coupled with affordable loans, would safeguard these constitutional provisions. Within two years, a cascade of laws had swept through most of the federal Länder. The attraction of shifting some of the funding burden to individual beneficiaries was irresistible. So was the compulsion to imitate the changes made elsewhere, lest universities in one’s own state should remain less well funded, and the public purse more stretched, than in neighbouring states.

Seven out of 10 states in west Germany introduced fees in 2006 or 2007; an eighth, Bremen, was prevented from doing so by a lawsuit. Only two – Rheinland-Pfalz and Schleswig-Holstein – resisted the tide completely.

If such unanimity had been maintained, policymakers would now be declaring these changes inevitable. Yet within a single electoral cycle, their long-sought policy was comprehensively overturned. The only state still charging tuition fees in 2014, Lower Saxony, will cease to do so at the end of this academic year.

Waleed Aly wrote at the Sydney Morning Herald, “Burqa ban a political excuse for persecution“:

But ignorance is no barrier precisely because this debate really has nothing to do with the women being recast as some kind of problem. Strip it all back and they’ve done nothing to invite this. They aren’t the ones charged with plotting “demonstration killings”. They aren’t the ones being busted carrying weapons or attacking police officers.

They are, however, the ones most often assaulted or abused on the street or on public transport. They’re the ones whose freedom we try most to restrict.

In short, they become the symbolic target for our rage; the avatar we choose to represent a generalised enemy, and the threat it poses. In this, we obey what seems a diabolically universal principle: that whatever the outrage, whatever the fear, and whatever the cause, it is women that must suffer first and most.

Potty-Mouthed Princesses Drop F-Bombs for Feminism by FCKH8.com

Mera Terrha Pakistan writes, “Bisexuality is a Queer Sin“:

Moreover, if you’re a bi woman in a queer group and you’re with a woman, you are functionally lesbian so that’s okay. You can talk about your bi-ness and everyone will make a big joke about it, but basically, it’s okay, you haven’t strayed. But if somehow you accidentally fall for a man and are in a relationship with him, suddenly it’s not funny anymore. A bi woman in a relationship with a man is straight (and dead) to lesbians.

What I’ve found more interesting recently is that bi men are also disregarded by gay men, but not for being traitors ore foreign agents. It’s more that gay men think men can’t actually be bi. Oh, you can get a gay man to say that, of course, men are bi and bisexuality exists, all that jazz; but in gossip or chat mode, when it comes up that a man says he’s bi, the answer goes something like: “Him? He’s a pakki khusri! He’s just saying he’s bi because, trust me, I’ve seen millions like him, he’s not just gay, he’s a bottom!”

At Even Aud, “Children and Transgender People Part 2:“:

You can explain that the world is a very complex place, and that people often react with fear, anger and even violence to these complexities. In the case of trans people our existence challenges some very,very deeply held beliefs. The idea that there are, and only should be two mutually exclusive genders that your gender is immutable after birth and no changing can happen, is literally one of the foundations of western society.Transgender people shake that belief. It causes a very fundamental fear  in people. “if they are transgender, if their gender changes..what about me? Could that happen to me?” For many cisgender people this is a terrifying prospect. Gender is something that we base a lot of ourselves around. Transgender and especially genderqueer/non binary /gender non conforming people shake that base. When that is shaken some people would rather react with oppression, violence, bullying instead of taking a look inside themselves and examine their gender and answer tough questions.

Mera Terrha Pakistan writes, “Liveability“:

This is a queer problem. It requires a queer solution.

People are being killed. All kinds of people in all kinds of places. Targeted. Planned. Angry mob murders. Serial murders. And there is no real sense that can be made, no coherent thread that can be pulled between everything so that we can say, yes, this is why, let’s just stop this one thing and…

So the problem of fear and the problem of the closet and the problem of being suddenly hurt or killed one day are all the same problem. How do you live your life in this country and feel like you’ll actually live? How do you act yourself?

Giselle Nguyen writes at Rookie, “Closed for Business“:

“Are you sure?” Carl asked as we sat on the edge of his bed.

“Yep,” I said confidently. I’d heard the first time could hurt, but mostly I was excited. He put a condom on as I lay down, buzzing with anticipation. He pushed into me…and I screamed at the pain, which was unlike anything I’d ever felt before. I ran to the bathroom and cried. I didn’t know if this was normal, but it felt excruciating. You never forget your first time—especially if it happens before you know you have vaginismus, a physical condition that makes penetrative sex incredibly painful or, in extreme cases, impossible.

Gina McKeon writes at the ABC, “Life on the inside: how solitary confinement affects mental health“:

Inmates held in solitary confinement experience a range of mental health problems including anxiety, panic, insomnia, paranoia, aggression and depression.

Don Grant, a forensic psychiatrist formerly with the Queensland Community Forensic Mental Health Service, says these psychological effects are the result of: social isolation, which can lead to further withdrawal; boredom and sensory deprivation, which cause brain activity to slow; and a lack of control with no personal autonomy, which may lead to a loss of self-reliance and dysfunction in social situations when an inmate is released.

Eliel Cruz writes at Everyday Feminism, “13 Lies We Have to Stop Telling About Bisexuals“:

Unfortunately, the binary way of thinking that informs the reasoning of many who remain unconvinced by the reality of bisexuality ultimately oppresses everyone through its perpetuation of unflinching heteronormative or homonormative standards.

Being intimate with someone of the same sex doesn’t mean you’re gay, just like being intimate with someone of the opposite sex doesn’t mean you’re straight — it just means you fall somewhere in the beautiful, fluid spectrum of sexuality.

Here we are in the supposedly enlightened year of 2014 – and yet, biphobia persists. In no particular order, here are a few of the most tiresome lies society really needs to stop telling about the bisexual community.

Natalie Tencic at ABC writes, “Papua New Guinea’s gay and transgender community finds safety in Hanuabada village“:

Gay men walking the streets of Port Moresby are often targeted by local men, particularly those who hail from PNG’s highland provinces, and have been raped, beaten and even murdered.

But in Hanuabada, things are different.

Documentary filmmaker and photographer Vlad Sokhin noticed this when he stumbled on the village during his travels.

“[It’s] probably the only place in Port Moresby where they feel safe and many of them, they were born in different places so they moved to Hanuabada village because they are accepted by the local community there,” Vlad said.

Alyssa Bereznak writes at Yahoo! Tech, “Microsoft CEO Says Women Shouldn’t Ask for Raises, Will Instead Magically Receive Them via ‘Karma’ (UPDATE)“:

It’s not really about asking for a raise, but knowing and having faith that the system will give you the right raise,” he told Klawe (who, presumably, was screaming inside). He went on to further imply that there was an incalculable je ne sais quoi about a woman who never asks for what she truly wants.

“That might be one of the initial ‘super powers’ that, quite frankly, women (who) don’t ask for a raise have,” he said. “It’s good karma. It will come back.”

UPDATE 8:24 p.m.: Nadella followed up his remarks on Twitter with a staff-wide email that was also posted on Microsoft’s press website. “I answered that question completely wrong,” he wrote. “Without a doubt I wholeheartedly support programs at Microsoft and in the industry that bring more women into technology and close the pay gap. I believe men and women should get equal pay for equal work.” He added, “If you think you deserve a raise, you should just ask.”

Nadella concluded that he’d “certainly learned a valuable lesson.”

John Scalzi writes, “A Note on New York Comic Con’s Anti-Harassment Policy“:

First, you literally cannot miss it — it’s on several human-sized signs right at the entrances to Javits Center (the other side of these signs say “Cosplay is not consent.” Second, the examples are clear and obvious and the policy is not constrained to only the examples — but enough’s there that you get the idea that NYCC is serious about this stuff. Third, it’s clear from the sign that NYCC also has a commitment to implementation and execution of the policy, with a harassment reporting button baked right into its phone app. This is, pretty much, how an anti-harassment policy should be implemented.

And as a result, did the floor of the Javits Center become a politically correct dystopia upon which the blood of innocent The True (and Therefore Male) Geeks was spilled by legions of Social Justice Warriors, who hooted their feminist victory to the rafters? Well, no. The floor of the Javits Center looked pretty much like the floor of any really large media convention — people wandering about, looking at stuff, wearing and/or admiring costumes and generally having a bunch of geeky fun. Which is to say that as far as I could see the policy didn’t stop anyone from enjoying themselves; it simply gave them assurance that they could enjoy themselves, or get the problem dealt with if someone went out of their way to wreck their fun.

Yassmin Abdel-Magied writes at Junkee, “Junk Explained: Here’s Everything Jacqui Lambie Doesn’t Know About Sharia Law“:

The word “sharia”, taken literally, is Arabic for “path” or road to a watering hole or place of salvation. The five universal principles that underlie Sharia are ‘protection of life’, ‘mind’, ‘religion’, ‘property’ and ‘offspring’; rulings in Sharia law are based around the protection and promotion of these five areas and, logically, decisions that see their degradation are fundamentally unIslamic.

In practical terms, traditional Sharia is quite unlike any “legal system” as we understand the term in the modern West — a bunch of acts and legislation sitting in a library — but more a constantly changing and evolving process to try and ensure society lived intelligently and ethically. It was not written down in a legislative state-based form like today’s law, giving it the freedom to be able to be constantly revised and improved upon. Sharia was kind of like Java; you need it for everything, but it was always being updated.

At the Quinnspiracy, “What To Expect When You’re Expecting (the internet to ruin your life)“:

Don’t give yourself a hard time for feeling a certain way. It’s a messed up position you’ve been put in and there’s no “right” way to feel. You’re not failing if it bothers you, you’re not failing if you’re angry, you are not failing for not being “tough enough”. A lot of emotions come with these situations, and you’re totally allowed.

Grayson Perry at New Stateman writes, “The rise and fall of Default Man“:

They dominate the upper echelons of our society, imposing, unconsciously or otherwise, their values and preferences on the rest of the population. With their colourful textile phalluses hanging round their necks, they make up an overwhelming majority in government, in boardrooms and also in the media.

They are, of course, white, middle-class, heterosexual men, usually middle-aged. And every component of that description has historically played a part in making this tribe a group that punches far, far above its weight. I have struggled to find a name for this identity that will trip off the tongue, or that doesn’t clutter the page with unpronounceable acronyms such as WMCMAHM. “The White Blob” was a strong contender but in the end I opted to call him Default Man. I like the word “default”, for not only does it mean “the result of not making an active choice”, but two of its synonyms are “failure to pay” and “evasion”, which seems incredibly appropriate, considering the group I wish to talk about.

A list of the Nobel Prizes awarded to women

Kalev Leetaru writes at Foreign Policy, “Why Big Data Missed the Early Warning Signs of Ebola“:

Part of the problem is that the majority of media in Guinea is not published in English, while most monitoring systems today emphasize English-language material. The GDELT Project attempts to monitor and translate a cross-section of the world’s news media each day, yet it is not capable of translating 100 percent of global news coverage. It turns out that GDELT actually monitored the initial discussion of Dr. Keita’s press conference on March 13 and detected a surge in domestic coverage beginning on March 14, the day HealthMap flagged the first media mention (which was, it should be noted, in French). The problem is that all of this media coverage was in French — and was not among the French material that GDELT was able to translate those days.

To give an idea of the importance of monitoring across languages, through a grant from Google Translate for Research, GDELT has been feeding a portion of the Portuguese edition of Google News each day through Google Translate for the past year. It turns out that upwards of 70 percent of the events recorded in Portuguese-language news do not appear in English-language news anywhere else in the world. Further, a large portion of these events relate to situations outside of Portugal and Brazil, including former colonial states in Africa, as the map below shows. Increasing our ability to process all of this material would yield tremendous gains in monitoring local media of the sort that provided the first indicators of the Ebola outbreak.

Shawn Burns writes, “How editors and journalists can produce better and fairer reporting on people with disability“:

Dr Taleporos, and other advocacy journalists working in the disability media space, are driven by a desire to redress what they view as problematic news agendas and public discourse. In their view, despite the considerable consumer power of PWD and long-established media guidelines on disability, mainstream news media remains inclined to follow the well-trodden path of stereotypical representation of people with disability and disability issues.

A Taxonomy of Mansplainers

Debunking the Men’s Rights Movement

Laurie Penny writes at New Statesman, “Social Justice Warriors and the New Culture War“:

If I sound angry here, it’s because I am. I’m angy because I’ve had to listen to these things being said to and about me and many other women creators I admire for too many years now to be polite about it. My anger, however, is different from the incoherent rage sloshing around 4chan, Reddit, MRA forums and other nests of recreational misogyny right now, because the people perpetrating these attacks on women, the people who are so unspeakably angry that women dare, they dare with their stupid ladyheads and evil ladyparts, they dare to come into their special boy spaces and actually demand a voice, they don’t understand why not everyone can see how right they are, how noble, how absolutely justified they are in their cause. They believe that they are justified because freedom of speech—except not freedom of speech for women and queers and people of colour, because those people don’t really speak, they just whine, shriek, scream, like animals, because really that’s all they are, animals.

They think it’s a game.

I’m talking about the whole thing—not just hounding individual women, hacking individual celebrities’ nude pics, trying to trash the reputations of women in the public eye according to outdated double-standards with less and less relevance to our real lives. I’m talking about gender itself, sex and sexuality itself, as a game you can play and win by ‘beating’ the other ‘side’ into submission. A game where the other ‘side’ isn’t really human at all. Shoot to kill. Destroy the brain. Move on.

Devon Maloney writes at The Cut, “The Most Feminist Moments in Sci-fi History“:

But sci-fi history actually has featured ahead-of-its-time, female-identifying authors and creators who have challenged conventional notions of race, gender, and sexuality head-on for centuries. Their contributions are so essential (some are by far the most out-there in the canon) that without them, the genre could not possibly have grown into the blockbuster behemoth it is today. Like many sci-fi creators, this radical group’s explorations weren’t limited to faroff planets; they dove into the sticky, difficult, often ugly realities of their own worlds, many of which are still with us today. They tackled misogyny, homophobia, racism, and the dangers of conventional gender roles — concepts often foreign to the world they inhabited. While their efforts were not always celebrated in the mainstream, they opened the possibility of a better future and pushed the conversation forward.

An extremely nerdy caveat: Many female voices have been excluded from the sci-fi canon based on the argument that the works they create aren’t “really” science fiction, but fantasy (in Party Down, Martin Starr’s Roman is fixated on this — the distinction between “hard” sci-fi and fantasy). While most of this “categorization” is simply a sexist dodge, we do believe in categories. For our purposes, let’s define science fiction here as the depiction of fictional worlds in which science (including space travel), technology, and/or pseudoscience feature prominently and necessarily in the story’s telling. Therefore, A Handmaid’s Tale, though probably one of this writer’s favorite books of all time, is not science fiction (Atwood herself has described it as speculative/dystopian fiction, a genre having more to do with social critique than adventure), while superhero comics — when they feature superpowers — could be considered such.

Understanding Issues Facing Bisexual Americans (pdf)

Elleanor Chin writes at bitch media, “Instead of Banning Yoga Pants, Schools Should Crack Down on Harassment“:

What exactly are adults assuming about “distraction”? Are they talking about boys being sexually aroused? Boys having romantic feelings? Looking at girls? Boys aren’t just passive sacks of hormones, magnetically thrown off course by female parts or pheromones. Young men and boys are responsible for their own arousal, attraction and attention span. Controlling girls’ dress assumes that boys are more frequently or severely distracted just by being around girls than any other source of distraction and that the only way to fix it is to control the girls.

How do you tell if a boy is “distracted by” a girls attire? Is it because he’s catcalling her?  Talking about her? Here is where it gets tricky, because schools have a general mission and right to maintain discipline and control student attire to the extent it disrupts the educational environment. But no coverage of this issue I’ve read has discussed how the boys’ distraction actually manifests, and how disruptive it is. But in her letter to the Billings Gazette, Ashley Crtalic makes the connection to sexual harassment, which is certainly a tangible disruption. Crtalic points out that when she was harassed, she was wearing jeans and a t-shirt, not the outfits that got her punished for dress code violations.

Gwendolyn Henry writes at Collected Works, “Reasons why Bi People of Colour often do not participate in spaces created for them“:

Thanks for raising this question regarding Bisexual People of Color and hearing our voices on various forms of media. My take is:

1) Writing our story is not a priority, survival is. [Many]BiPOC are already struggling with physical and mental health conditions so just breathing and staying alive is top on the list.

2) Many BiPOC are closeted in the Lesbian and Gay community. Writing or posting videos using the words [word]”Bisexual” would require them to go through a lot of emotional obstacles and many of [us]them don’t want to and/or don’t have the support to do so.

2a) I found BiPOC writing under the terms “Queer” but that still doesn’t clearly state how many genders they find romantic/sexually attractive. [Queer can apply to people who have multi gender attractions/non-monosexuals (bi, pan, fluid) and monosexuals (lesbian/gay). This umbrella term can often make bisexuals and their unique experiences and needs less visible.]

Erick Brethenoux writing at A Smarter Planet Blog, “The Importance of Tracking Big Data Emotions“:

There are concerns, however. A fine line exists between being perceived as understanding or invasive. But analyzing emotions and getting close to people should not just be about selling more products. It should be about evoking and understanding emotions that help break solitude. This will create opportunities to share empathy and compassion.

It could even enable people to heal faster.

When my daughter was three-years old, she had to have tubes placed in her ears to help with chronic ear infections. What was interesting though was not how she healed, but how she helped others get better. Her surgeon explained that they scheduled operations on Tuesdays and Thursdays, the same days as the most difficult adult procedures. The adults would then recover in a large and common recovery room alongside the children. Why? Because empirical data proves that adults recover faster when exposed to small children who are also recovering.

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Disproportionate retribution

UPDATE: Below I linked to a blogger I called George (he posted anonymously) and quoted a piece he wrote.  The blog has since been deleted.  The cache of that blog post is here.

I believe that people who consider themselves to be good people believe that racism, homophobia (sadly to a lesser extent biphobia and transphobia generally), and sexism are bad things.  I wouldn’t say that people who think that racism, homophobia, biphobia, transphobia and sexism are ok are entirely bad people, they’re probably very nice to some people, but they’re certainly not the type of people that I want to hang around with.  Anyone who thinks that their feelings about certain things trump the actual rights of others to exist and participate fully in society is wrong.

Why do I write this, this which would seem to be bleedingly obvious?  Because there are people who seem to think that threatening people who think that racism, sexism, homophobia, biphobia or transphobia is bad, is entirely justified.  Some people think that threats of sexual harm, death, and threats against family members are ok, because just because someone holds a different belief system to them.

Anita Sarkeesian recently released the next instalment of her Feminist Frequency, Tropes vs Women in Video Games project.  Some people were so very upset that Sarkeesian was critiquing something that they held very dear, that they made sexualised, violent threats against her, published her address and threatened her parents. (TW for this entire link)  Then several other people claimed that she was making the threats up for attention, while threatening her.  You can’t make this shit up, though apparently some people appear to survive the cognitive dissonance to believe you can.

So at the same time Sarkeesian was publishing the threats she received, Gamer Gate kicked off after allegations that an indy developer of games had slept with a journalist in order to receive more favourable reviews.  The allegation was made by her ex-boyfriend, and involved slut shaming, so those in the broader gaming community who don’t think that sexism is awful, piled on the developer, and then after a redirection onto the broader gaming media/press, suggesting that it was effectively corrupt.  Evidence now exists that suggests the whole Gamer Gate saga was an orchestrated event by certain individuals.

One of the things that annoyed me most about both Gamer Gate and the treatment that Sarkeesian receives for being a critic, beyond the sexism, is those who think there is a middle ground.  Those that argue that those in support of Sarkeesian and/or Zoe Quinn are behaving as badly as those against.  Apparently one side calling the other side names (MRAs, misogynists, sexists) is as bad as the other side making violent sexual and death threats.  I don’t see the equivalence personally.

An anonymous, indie game-dev (I’ll call him George) wrote a piece that suggested that only threats against women are taken seriously, and the men who receive both death threats and/or violent sexual threats are ignored by those who support Sarkeesian, and/or feminism within the computer game industry.  George also thinks that the threats that women receive are solely because arseholes know that the best way to upset a woman is to insult her gender [emphasis in original]:

Sure, you say you hope someone dies of aids, that makes you an asshole. Some people are assholes. That will NEVER change, and assholes will always pick a stick to beat you with that is most effective and most offensive to you. If you’re a woman, that is what the stick will be. If you were gay, that’s what the stick would be. If you had big ears… And so on. Don’t confuse the choice of stick with the reason for wanting to beat you with it in the first place.

Assholes will mock someone’s disability. They will mock someone’s race. Mock someone’s appearance. Mock someone’s voice. Mock and insult anything that it is apparent to them will hurt those they are attacking’s feelings.  Assholes will threaten you with violence, they will threaten you with death. They will threaten you of rape, in the ass if you’re a man and, well, it may vary with a woman. They will wish cancer upon you, or that you die in a fire. They are assholes, and are not representative of ANY group except a group of assholes. Stop drawing a circle around the assholes targeting you with sexist insults or threats and attributing what they say to our entire gender, painting us as rape supporting monsters, please? Can’t you see how that’s a horribly generalised and sexist thing to do? Double standards again. The amount of times I’ve read SJW pieces using ‘men’ as a collective term for a bunch of offensive opinions of the ‘asshole’ group makes me want to weep. ‘Men’ think this, ‘men’ view women as… and so on. If I said ‘women are manipulative liars’ because I’d had the misfortune to be hurt by several female manipulative liars I would rightly be called out as making a sexist generalization. Why is the same not true in reverse? Because the SJW’s dominate the online dialogue, and anyone who feels otherwise is by definition a sexist.

Yes, George went with the “not all men” part, because apparently it is all about him and other people like him.  For those who don’t know, SJW means “Social Justice Warrior” and is meant to be a derogatory term.  Quite frankly it’s one I like.

So instead of getting “assholes” to stop, by shunning them, by banning them from commenting in particular forums, by suggesting that perhaps that grow the fuck up and start being responsible for themselves and their actions, George would rather break down the numbers of male gamers that exist and the approximate realistic percentage of male gamers who are likely to troll and then scream, “SEE NOT ALL MEN”.

This isn’t helpful.

John Bain suggests that there really are two sides of this debate, that name calling isn’t helpful (he’s probably right there), and that there is no such thing as MRAs or SJWs (he’s wrong there).  In this post John tells us how we are to have the debate, that we need to calm down and effectively think about why the other side may be reacting the way they are, and everyone needs to chillax.  Quite frankly, John doesn’t get to dictate to anyone, especially the group under fire, how they react to something, and how they should respond.  Despite John attempting to run the middle ground in this piece, he uses emotive language, such as “weaponize”, which will draw his readers to a certain conclusion.

John also believes that everyone is seeing this as a black or white issue, and that all shades of grey as lost.  I’ll agree that some people are drawing a line in the sand and saying, “everyone on this side of the line is ok, this other side – not so much”, but I also think that is what people have to do to be safe and/or build safe communities.

What about the so-called “other side”? I’ve been placed on the opposite side to these people by representatives of these people and the side they supposedly oppose. I did not elect to be there and I decry being on it. I will not take part in such weak-minded labeling and neither should any of you. Where is the hate coming from? Women who have experienced abuse and those that aim to support them? Absolutely. A marginalized group? Definitely. I can’t speak from this perspective because I have not experienced it, but I will also not deny that this abuse exists. Unfortunately, the response to it has been to perpetuate a cycle of abuse. As I mentioned earlier, it’s so much easier to open fire when you think you can’t miss. The reality is, all you are doing is missing. Both “sides” have been spewing hate and poisoning any attempt to discuss this rationally. It’s almost as if everyone is bullying everyone else and then acting all surprised when they don’t see their point of view. You don’t convince people of your point of view by putting them on the defensive with aggressive, absolute language from the very start. An open mind often lacks defenses and if you feel attacked those defenses will go up and in doing so, your mind will close.

If we are to marginalize anyone, let’s marginalize those who not only refuse to take part in the discussion but actively seek to ruin it. This “war” is a sideshow distracting us from talking about the real issues and make no mistake, that’s exactly what an extremist wants. There are many worthwhile discussions to be had about all the topics I’ve listed and more besides but some people are vehemently against us even having them. I won’t be silenced by people like that and I also will not stop trying to discuss this issue with reasonable people, even if they appear unreasonable because of some 140 character soundbite on Twitter. Some of these people are those I know to be reasonable but have taken an unreasonable action at some point. As someone who has taken many unreasonable actions in my life, especially online, I won’t condemn them for that but I will try and offer a perspective.

I don’t believe that videogames cause players to develop sexist attitudes, just as I believe they don’t cause players to become violent. I also don’t believe that everything portrayed in videogames is ok. Lots of videogames are really bad for a wide variety of reasons, mechanical or otherwise. They’re often dumb, bull-headed and they pander oh boy do they pander. I want better videogames because I think our hobby can soar even higher than it currently does. I think for the most part, everyone involved in this wants that (or they don’t care at all, I don’t honestly believe there is a cadre of people trying to destroy videogames, at least, not that we interact with) but we are all approaching it from different perspectives. It is time to view those perspectives as something of value rather than try and shut them down. Experiment, invent, innovate in every aspect of gaming. Sometimes it won’t work, it might create something that sucks or simply something that people don’t like, but its only by learning from our failures that we create future success. Right now there is nothing creative about this debacle, it is purely destructive.

Overall John makes some good points, but I am sad that he does not clearly state that threats are bad, and suggests that both sides are equivalently bad.  Personally I think that saying someone is a misogynist is less bad than receiving death threats.

Erik Kain at Forbes writes more about the press and their role, as he sees it, in Gamer Gate:

What it boils down to is many people feeling upset that the video game space has been so heavily politicized with a left-leaning, feminist-driven slant. I’ve heard from many readers claiming they have no problem with more women and gay people represented in games; they simply don’t want every game to be critiqued based on these factors. I’ve heard from others who readily admit that they miss the days when games were more male-centric. One reader emailed to say that he has no problem with women, but video games were a nice boys club of sorts, a refuge from women where the boys could play for a while undisturbed.

So we have many left-leaning members of the press writing about issues that matter to them—maybe sometimes doing it to bait readers, but often likely doing it because these are issues they actually care about—and a strong reader backlash because many readers don’t want to be told what’s good or bad about a game’s social politics, they just want to hear about the game itself.

This reminds me of the clip that James played for me the other day:

I don’t think that the gaming press is out to “bait” readers with left-leaning social commentary on games.   I think that the gaming press, and gaming critics are doing their job.  Quoted in Ian Steadman’s New Stateman’s piece is a quote from Pauline Kael:

Let’s start with a quote from the film critic Pauline Kael. In 1972, she reviewed A Clockwork Orange in the New Yorker. Here’s an extract:

There seems to be an assumption that if you’re offended by movie brutality, you are somehow playing into the hands of the people who want censorship. But this would deny those of us who don’t believe in censorship the use of the only counterbalance: the freedom of the press to say that there’s anything conceivably damaging in these films – the freedom to analyse their implications.

If we don’t use this critical freedom, we are implicitly saying that no brutality is too much for us – that only squares and people who believe in censorship are concerned with brutality. Actually, those who believe in censorship are primarily concerned with sex, and they generally worry about violence only when it’s eroticized. This means that practically no one raises the issue of the possible cumulative effects of movie brutality. Yet surely, when night after night atrocities are served up to us as entertainment, it’s worth some anxiety. We become clockwork oranges if we accept all this pop culture without asking what’s in it. How can people go on talking about the dazzling brilliance of movies and not notice that the directors are sucking up to the thugs in the audience?

If you are going to critique a game, then you’re going to critique all of it.  Does it give an easy pass to racism, homophobia, biphobia, transphobia, or sexism?  Does it suggest that genocide is completely acceptable?  Does it think that enforced sterilisation is acceptable?  Are the only heroes/playable characters in the game male and white?  Are the only enemies in the game male and not-white?

These are the discussions that a mature industry should be having, and not something that should be hurting anyone’s feelings. If you don’t want a part of those discussions, then don’t consume the media where they’re happening.  Switching off isn’t hard.  Making threats because you disagree with the views of games journalists or game critics is wrong, and makes those that are making those threats come across as dangerous, and as people who should be shunned from the wider gaming community.

You see, the wider gaming community should be safe for EVERYONE.  It should be a place where anyone, regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation, ability, age, or status should be able to have fun without having to avoid certain games.  AAA companies through to indie developers should be considering how their game will come across for everyone, and ask themselves if they are negatively stereotyping anyone, engaging in lazy media tropes, and/or generally producing a product that only markets itself to a small percentage of gamers.  More diverse games leads to more diverse experiences for everyone, and this is a good thing.  Far too often a white male is the default character, and there is no good reason for that.  It isn’t hard to model a woman (Assassin’s Creed), and it doesn’t take so much extra development time to develop playable characters with different shades of skin – not when you’re making multiple models for the city anyway (Watch Dogs).

So in summary, don’t threaten other people, because that’s a horrible thing to do.  If you disagree with something, move on.  You can rant to your buddies, but don’t threaten someone with harm because they have a different opinion to you.  If you want to find a middle ground between a group that is receiving death threats and threats of harm, and those that are making the threats – don’t do that either.  Also, don’t tell people who are part of a marginalised group, how they should be responding to an issue.  Finally, make gaming spaces safe for everyone.  Stop thinking that computer games are a boy’s club, and that women are interlopers.  We’re now 48% of the gaming population, we’ve been here for a long time, and we’ll be here for the rest of time.

Update: Many people in this debate have pointed to a study which claims that men receive more online threats than women, therefore women are not worse off than me.  This piece rebuts the entire study.

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Men are mourned, women mourn

My trip through parts of Europe last year really drilled home how little importance has been placed on the lives of women throughout history.  In Italy, church after church had funerary monuments dedicated to important men, with statues of women mourning around the monument.  Women, when they existed at all, had small plaques outside the church.  Only men were important, women were decorations.  This shouldn’t be all that surprising, but after having previously travelled through Germany and France where prominent women are more likely to have been acknowledged, even if not at the same level as the powerful men, it did come as a shock.

In Cologne, Germany, some Abbesses had funerary monuments inside churches, and many of the men buried inside the churches were either prominent priests or bishops, or Kings/Lords of the region (sometimes both, Cologne is odd).

In France, there are less people buried inside churches, but there were still some recognition of prominent women, St Genevieve (Patron Saint of Paris) and Joan d’Arc in particular.

On one hand, it’s tempting to say that this is all in the past, that women are now (more) equal with men and therefore if those same churches were built today that there would be far more women recognised.  However, I don’t think that is true.  In Paris, the honour to be interred at the Parthanon goes by far more to men than to women.

President François Hollande, who had been strongly urged for more than a year to add more women to those awarded the honor of burial in the Panthéon, named two women on Friday — but also two men.

In doing so, he disappointed feminist groups and others who had lobbied on behalf of an array of women and who wanted to see only women added this time.

The Panthéon, a huge building in one of the oldest parts of Paris, has been the nation’s monument to worthy historical figures since the French Revolution. Of the 73 people honored there, 71 are men and include figures like the philosophers Voltaire and Jean-Jacques Rousseau, as well as Louis Braille, who invented a system of reading for the blind. Marie Curie is the only woman to make it on her own merits (the other was included at her husband’s insistence). [New York Times]

Yes, the Parthanon is not a new institution, and so the number of men will outweigh the number of women, but there are many prominent women in France that have not been recognised for their contribution to that country.

But have things really changed since the Renaissance and the French Revolution?  Are things much better in Australia, a nation that prides itself on being much more egalitarian?  Sadly no.  Australia was Federated in 1901, which is when we became a country and not a collection of smaller countries/states that struggled separately.  Women won suffrage shortly after that (1902) Federally, and then the States had to follow (though South Australia and Western Australia led the way granting suffrage to women before Federation).

This means that when someone prominent dies, someone who has contributed to society in a meaningful way (usually politics, sport, military service, arts, philantrophy, etc) the Government (State or Federal) will offer the family a State Funeral.  Now remember that Australia is egalitarian, but not equal.  Women’s involvement in the public sphere is still relatively recent, so there are less known prominent women in Australia than men.

That said, the number of women who have been offered State Funerals is really very low.  Most recently, State Funerals have been offered to Dame Elisabeth Murdoch, AC DBE, Hazel Hawke, AO and Margaret Whitlam, AO (whose family turned the offer down).

Some prominent Australian women have either not had offers made, nor had their request for a State Funeral accepted.  Janet Powell, AM, former leader of the Australian Democrats, and the second woman in Australia to lead a political party, was refused a State Funeral in 2013.

In the last few weeks of her life, a number of women assisted Janet’s family to make a formal request to the Victorian Premier for a State Funeral for Janet.

It was refused. We were told it was a Federal matter. And so we went back to the Prime Minister’s department. Time was of the essence. Finally came the ever-so-polite email.  Apparently it has not been customary for successive Australian governments to accord a former leader of a recognised minority party with a State Funeral. The email went on to say that occasionally a distinguished Australian is recognised, who has made an outstanding contribution to Australian society. Not surprisingly, the names given were all men.

In our social history thus far, few women have been accorded the fitting honour of a State Funeral. Such tributes customarily have been made for major party leaders, Ministers, Chief Justices, footballers, racing car drivers and yes, wait for it, many other – men.

Edith Cowan, MBE, Australia’s first elected woman to Parliament was not offered a State Funeral.  Vida Goldstein, the first woman in the British Empire to stand for election into a National Parliament, and who worked tirelessly for feminism and suffrage, was not offered a State Funeral.  May Holman, the first female ALP politician in Australia, who served as MP for 14 years before her untimely death in a car accident, was not offered a State Funeral.  Dame Annie Florence Gillies Cardell-Oliver, DBE, who until recently held the record for the longest sitting woman Parliamentarian, was not offered a State Funeral.  Dame Nellie Melba, one of Australia’s greatest performers, was not offered a State Funeral.  Queensland’s first female politicians, Irene Maud Longman, who was barred from using the Parliamentary dining room, and who had to cope with the fact that there were not female toilets in Parliament House, was not offered a State Funeral.  Victoria’s first woman elected to Parliament, Lady Millie Gertrude Peacock was not offered a State Funeral.  The first Victorian woman in Federal Parliament, and co-founder of the Aborigines Advancement League, Doris Black, was not offered a State Funeral.  Margaret Edgeworth David McIntyre, OBE, the first woman elected to the Tasmanian Legislative Council was not offered a State Funeral.

This is not to say that women haven’t been offered State Funerals, but they seem to be exceptions to the norm.  The earliest offer of a State Funeral to an Australian woman that I could find (it was turned down by the family) was to Emma Miller in 1917.  Other State Funerals include:

  • Dame Enid Lyons, AD GBE – The first woman to be elected to the Australian House of Representatives and the first woman appointed to Federal Cabinet.
  • Dame Mary Gilmore, DBE – An Australian literary icon and the first writer to be accorded a State Funeral since Henry Lawson’s death.
  • Joan Child, AO – First woman to be the Speaker of the Australian House of Representatives
  • Dame Annabelle Jane Mary Rankin, DBE – the second woman member of the Australian Senate, the first woman from Queensland to sit in the Parliament of Australia, the first Australian woman to have a federal portfolio and the first Australian woman to be appointed head of a foreign mission.
  • Janine Haines, AM – the first female federal parliamentary leader of an Australian political party, the Australian Democrats. She was also the first member of that party to enter the federal parliament after the party’s formation.
  • Dame Roma Flinders Mitchell, AC, DBE, CVO, QC – first female Governor in South Australia (and probably all of Australia), and more kick arse than you can imagine.

All together I could only find evidence for 8 State Funerals conducted for prominent Australian women, and 2 funerals that were offered but were declined by the families of the deceased.  I’m sure I’ve missed some in my afternoon of research, but it seems rather unbalanced that there are only 10 easily found State Funerals for women.  In Australia as in the rest of the world, men are mourned and women mourn them.

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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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