Now back from holidays, and a final post on Cologne is yet to be written, but is percolating around my head, I have much linkspam to share. And as always, this is a fraction of the cool stuff I’ve read this month.
Clem Bastow (who I adore), wrote a great piece on periods in Daily Life:
Back in the good old-bad old days of being fully immersed in social networking, I became known for my propensity to talk about periods: mine, my friends’, my family members’, other people’s, periods on television, periods and advertising, periods, periods, PERIODS.
(It reached a crescendo when some dude on Twitter whined that it was “gross” and I drew this smily face for them in response in mother nature’s own brick-red ink.)
The reason for such menses-mad tweeting was, in part, because I think the continued taboo about menstruation is one of the most depressing aspects of our allegedly enlightened society.
Chloe Papas writes “Speak Up About Partner Abuse” in New Matilda *trigger warning for discussion of partner abuse*:
Partner abuse has become a disturbingly normalised aspect of everyday life in Australia and internationally. There’s no doubt that we’ve come a long way from the hush-hush ignorance of decades prior to the 50s and 60s, but it’s still something that we often choose to not discuss, to sweep under the rug. Many see it as a private family matter, as something that should be dealt with within the home and not talked about publicly. But if it is never discussed, never acknowledged, how can the cycle ever be broken?
Rebecca Solnit writes a great piece, “The Problem With Men Explaining Things” in Mother Jones:
Every woman knows what I’m talking about. It’s the presumption that makes it hard, at times, for any woman in any field; that keeps women from speaking up and from being heard when they dare; that crushes young women into silence by indicating, the way harassment on the street does, that this is not their world. It trains us in self-doubt and self-limitation just as it exercises men’s unsupported overconfidence.
I wouldn’t be surprised if part of the trajectory of American politics since 2001 was shaped by, say, the inability to hear Coleen Rowley, the FBI woman who issued those early warnings about Al Qaeda, and it was certainly shaped by a Bush administration to which you couldn’t tell anything, including that Iraq had no links to Al Qaeda and no WMD, or that the war was not going to be a “cakewalk.” (Even male experts couldn’t penetrate the fortress of their smugness.)
Arrogance might have had something to do with the war, but this syndrome is a war that nearly every woman faces every day, a war within herself too, a belief in her superfluity, an invitation to silence, one from which a fairly nice career as a writer (with a lot of research and facts correctly deployed) has not entirely freed me. After all, there was a moment there when I was willing to let Mr. Important and his overweening confidence bowl over my more shaky certainty.
Corinne Grant at The Hoopla writes about how Tony Abbott is in fact “A Hootin’, Tootin’ Good Ole Boy“:
Tony Abbott is a good bloke. He’s a good Aussie bloke. He’s a good Aussie bloke who is fair dinkum on a bike.
He’s exactly like John Wayne if you replace the twelve gallon Stetson and six shooter with lycra tights and a Consumer Safety Standards approved bike helmet. He’s a hootin’, tootin’, rootin’, good ole boy who knows what he knows and knows it’s right because he knows it. (And by rootin’ I mean he thoroughly enjoys barracking at the cricket – not doing dirty grown-up things that would make the baby Jesus cry.)
Libby Anne writes at Love, Joy, Feminism “Christian Patriarchy to Men: You don’t have to grow up!“:
What are the qualities we generally associate with maturity? The ability to see things from others’ perspectives? The ability to accept that the world doesn’t revolve around you, and that things don’t always go the way you want them to, and that you just have to deal with that? The ability to cooperate with others, to communicate and find compromises that everyone can be happy with?
Yeah, under Christian Patriarchy, a man doesn’t have to do any of that. Because he’s the head of the family, dammit!
What he says goes! God speaks to him, after all, and everyone else should listen and heed what God tells him! He’s the one who gets to make the decisions for the family, and for the children! Period! In other words, a man is allowed to act like a willful, spoiled child who always expects to get his own way. And if he doesn’t get his own way? Expect a reaction of confusion mixed with anger and righteous indignation.
N.K. Jemisin (who I love heaps) writes an excellent review of Dragon Age, and about how to write oppression and privilege well in, “Identity should always be part of the gameplay“:
So basically, the DA creators have had the sense to acknowledge that the non-optional demographics of a person’s background — her gender, her race, the class into which she was born, her sexual orientation — have as much of an impact on her life as her choices. Basically, privilege and oppression are built in as game mechanics. I can’t remember the last time I saw a game that so openly acknowledged the impact of privilege. Lots of games feature characters who have to deal with the consequences of being rich or poor, a privileged race or an oppressed one, but this is usually a linear, superficial thing. The title character in Nier, for example, is a poor single father who’s probably too old for the mercenary life (he looks about 50, but via the miracle of Japanese game traditions he’s probably only 30), but he keeps at it because otherwise his sick daughter will starve. His poverty is simply a motivation. No one refuses to hire him because they think poor people are lazy. He meets a well-dressed, well-groomed young man who lives in a mansion at one point, and the kid doesn’t snub him for being dirty and shirtless. (In fact the kid falls in love with him but that’s a digression.) His age and race and class don’t mean anything, even though in real life they would. So even though I love Nier — great music, fascinating and original world — I like the DA games better. Even in a fantasy world, realism has its place.
I’ve seen a lot of discussion in the SFF writing world about how to write “the other” — i.e., a character of a drastically different background from the writer’s own. It’s generally people of privileged backgrounds asking the question, because let’s face it: if you’re not a straight white able-bodied (etc.) male, you pretty much know how to write those guys already because that’s most of what’s out there. So right now I’m speaking to the white people. One technique that gets tossed around in these discussions is what I call the “Just Paint ‘Em Brown” technique: basically just write the non-white character the same as a white one, but mention somewhere in the text, briefly, that she’s not white. Lots of well-known SFF writers — Heinlein in Starship Troopers, Clarke in Childhood’s End, Card in Ender’s Game — have employed this technique. I’ve seen some books mention a character’s non-whiteness only as a belated “surprise” to the reader (near the end of the book in the Heinlein example). The idea, I guess, is that the reader will form impressions of the character sans racialized assumptions, and therefore still feel positively about the character even after he’s revealed to be one of “them.”
This technique is crap.
Chris Graham at Agenda Tracker has detailed a very damming piece regarding the ABC’s role in the creation of the Intervention in Indigenous communities, especially Lateline’s role in “BAD AUNTY: The truth about the NT intervention and the case for an independent media“.
An article about Courage to Care travelling exhibition (in Australia), featured in Australian Mosaic: the Magazine of the Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Councils of Australia, “Have you got the Courage to Care?“:
Courage to Care aims to empower the people who are usually overlooked in situations involving prejudice and discrimination—the bystanders. Many social tolerance programs are directed towards the victims or the perpetrators. By contrast, Courage to Care focuses on the majority—the bystanders—encouraging them to take action and to confront incidents of discrimination, bullying and harm.
The program uses one of the most significant events of the 20th century to teach a universal concept: one person can make a difference. The Holocaust, the systematic murder during Second World War of 6 000 000 European Jews by Nazi Germany, is the most extreme example of how far racism and discrimination can go if left unchecked by ordinary citizens. Courage to Care uses living historians as well as text, objects, memorabilia and interactive discussion.
By exposing students to the personal experiences of Holocaust survivors and the remarkable stories of the people who rescued them, the program promotes learning and understanding. It does this through enquiry, discourse and critical reflection on personal values.
It does not seek to impose values, but rather encourages students to question instances of racism, intolerance and discrimination. It challenges the bystander who turns a blind eye, rather than stand up for what they instinctively know is right. It thereby challenges indifference.