As if it had finally noticed that women out- number bishops, the Obama administra tion has decided against permitting religious organizations a broad exemption from rules requiring that all methods of contraception be covered, with no co-payment, by health insurance plans. Strictly religious organizations—churches, missions and such—will be exempt, but not universities, hospitals and charities. As a public health matter, this is excellent news: for women whose health plans don’t cover birth control, it can be difficult to obtain and costs hundreds of dollars a year out of pocket.
As part of “Why I am an Athiest” on Pharyngula, Frances shares her thoughts on atheism and feminism *trigger warning for discussion of sexual harassment and rape*:
I wondered where god was in all this. Not in an angry, he-should-have-my-back sort of way, but in a literal way. I went to church every Sunday for my entire life, and as near as I can tell, god has no opinions at all on rape, sexual harassment, sexual assault, or actually any of the issues women have to deal with. I knew the church was against abortion, premarital sex, and being gay (I was raised catholic in an area with lots of fundamentalists), but beyond that, there was literally no guidance. There were no ethics relating to this at all, or if there were, the priests were very tight-lipped about them.
The reply from the newsdesk was probably predictable, although I didn’t see it coming. After all, I had been submitting my weekly column to the Northern Star for four years, receiving the the stellar payment of $50 (raised from $30 after some agitation).
The email came from the then acting editor and he said, in part: “I know you are trying to push the envelope and be feisty but I think in trying to do that you sometimes confuse the point you are trying to make.”
“Like it or not, we are a family newspaper (the demographic is 40-65, mainly professional people working in Lismore, Casino and Ballina). That’s a fairly conservative audience so swear words are not going to go down too well.
“… thank you for your input to the Star, but we won’t be reconsidering the decision (to cease your column), nor will we be asking readers what they think. If we do cop some backlash and get some letters to the editor, we’ll run these in the appropriate place.”
Over the past two weeks it’s been brought back to me the things that we just don’t talk about, and this is mostly women stuff, I’m not sure about the man stuff, because I’m not a man. But anyway, a couple of weeks ago, my new coworker confided in me that she had just started her period, via our work IM system, and that she was feeling rather cruddy. She then asked me if that was too much information – to which I replied, “If women can’t talk about periods, what else can we talk about?”
She then told me that she sent that message through IM rather than just telling me (we sit next to each other) because she didn’t want to freak the men out (we’re surrounded by male colleagues) and although I understand this, I also find it puzzling. Surely these men have sisters, wives, girlfriends, female friends, and/or mothers who have at some point in their lives had a period. Surely the fact that women have periods is not shocking news.
But then again it is because of the whole lady-business taboo of which we cannot speak – for no real good reason. The taboo of sharing personal information – which generally has anything to do with stuff under your skin – is exacerbated for women when existing as female brings along a whole range of health issues (hello period pain to say the least), and these health issues (be they minor or major) cannot be spoken freely about in public for fear of… something (which I never quite get).
Which means that support that might otherwise be given, may not be as some people may be ashamed to talk about some health issues because of social taboos, and these social taboos are taught young. I remember when I first was told about getting periods as a 10 year old or so. It was something that my mother was clearly uncomfortable in telling me, so I understood that it was a shameful thing. I also understood that it was not something that you spoke about with people, so when I got my period one Christmas day (I was 10!), I told my mother… who then told my father. I was outraged – how could she tell him after basically telling me that you didn’t talk about it with people? One of my many introductions to double standards – and an indication that some social taboos weren’t real.
So I get to go back to work tomorrow, after having a cyst removed and I have to figure out how much information is going to be TMI for some people. My manager knows I had an operation to remove an infected cyst, but he doesn’t know where it was – and do I feel comfortable and safe enough to tell him? One of the other flip sides of these taboos is that even though I don’t necessarily think that they’re worthwhile, not keeping them may not be safe.
I’m generally an honest person and will answer pretty much any question asked of me honestly, provided it isn’t an effort to shame me – and then I’ll deflect the question. The need to abide by social taboos about what I can and cannot talk about in relation to myself is frustrating to me.
And because I’ve now run out of brain I’ll close this with part of a piece attributed to Gloria Steinem:
Since history was recorded, male human beings have built whole cultures around the idea that penis-envy is “natural” to women – though having such an unprotected organ might be said to make men more vulnerable, and the power to give birth makes womb-envy at least logical. In short, logic has nothing to do with it. What would happen, for instance, if suddenly, magically, men could menstruate and women could not? The answer is clear – menstruation would become an enviable, boast-worthy, masculine event:
Military men, right-wing politicians, and religious fundamentalists would cite menstruation (“MENstruation”) as proof that only men could serve in the army (“You have to give blood to take blood”), occupy political office (“Can women be aggresive without that steadfast cycle governed by the planet Mars?”), be priests and ministers (“how could a woman give her blood for our sins”), or rabbis (“Without the monthly loss of impurities, women remain unclean”).
Male radicals, left-wing politicians, and mystics, however, would insist that women are equal, just different; and that any woman could enter their ranks if only she were willing to self-inflict a major wound every month (“You must give blood for the revolution”), recognize the preeminence of menstrual issues, or subordinate her selfness to all men in their Cycle of Enlightenment.
Before reading this post you may want to consider that it details some personal medical information about myself and my recent hospital experience. If you are someone who doesn’t deal well with TMI, you might want to stop reading here and go and play somewhere else – you can come back when the next post is written.
On Tuesday I noticed a painful discomfort in my vagina. I had previously had what I thought were called Barton Cysts – which had all been painful, but I knew that they could get infected and possibly need surgery to be repaired. So I looked it up, it was indeed a Bartholin’s Cyst and I would probably need to have it looked at. I poked at it, and it was tender and large, and so I went to bed thinking about what I was going to do about the whole thing. On Wednesday night it was sufficiently painful and uncomfortable to stop me going to the gym, and I decided to take Thursday off to go and see my GP and see what could be done. This was also on the recommendation of my sister who has previously had infected Bartholin’s cysts and had had surgery to resolve them.
Welcome to the 29th Down Under Feminists Carnival. Thank you everyone for your submissions which I have organised as much as I can. I hope you enjoy reading these posts as much as I did, and that you continue to submit posts to an awesome carnival. Thank you so much to Chally, of Zero at the Bone and FWD/Forward and Radical Readers and Feministe for organising this carnival and letting me host it.
Thank you to Chally, Jo, Mary and Deborah for hunting down and finding most of the great posts to include this month. Thank you to everyone else who submitted their or other’s writings.
If I have used incorrect pronouns to identify any of the participants please let me know so that I can correct them. Any misuse is unintentional and due solely to me being unfamiliar with the author of the post.
If I have misrepresented/badly summarised your post, please let me know and I’ll correct it.
So, this carnival is big and full of fascinating reading. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed putting it all together.
This month’s optional theme was Awesome Women.
So, put your feet up, down, sideways or however you feel comfortable and enjoy.
Ilaeria blogged about the three people who have had the biggest impact in her life, her mother and two grandmothers and share the lessons she learnt from them.
tigtog writes about Bell Hooks week at Hoydon About Town. Deborah at In a Strange Land, during one of her Friday Womanist posts quotes Bell Hooks.
Deborah from In a Strange Land blogged about the anniversary of Sufferage for Women in New Zealand (17 September 1893) and the hard work that was put into gaining signatures for the petition that helped make is possible.
Mary at Hoydon About Town has been awesome and has developed a Firefox bookmarklet to make submitting blog carnival posts easier. Please go and install so it is much easier to submit posts for the next carnival.
Media and society
Wildly Parenthetical at Hoydon About Town talks about Sexting and Slut Shaming and how bad the Minister for Home Affairs’s new campaign is for young women.
I spoke about Rampant Sexism in an edition of the MX where it suggested the women were different than men, that women should earn less than men for the sake of their heterosexual relationships and that women can steal men and that men can do nothing about it.
Pickled Think writes about media and societal pressure on men to propose regardless of what their girlfriends may feel about marriage because it seems that their feelings aren’t important (all girls want to marry right?), and Pickled Think also discusses the patriarchal institution of marriage and the lack of the “big gay proposal”. (The last line on the first comment is also gold).
Blue Milk reviews Radical Act, a documentary about queer/feminist musicians in the USA, made in 1995
Ju at transcendancing has written a review of Glitter Rose, a short story collection by an Australian author doing interesting and challenging things with female characters. The collection is published by a press that is also doing interesting and challenging things with a feminist focus in publishing.
Kim writes at Larvatus Prodeo about feeling sympathy for Stephen Conroy and the ongoing debate about the internet filter being more complex than liberties or the rights of adults.
Mary at Hoydon About Town wrote about #groggate and the outing of Grog Gamut’s legal name by The Australian. The scary thing about The Australian’s justification is that they’re arguing for the outing of anyone who attempts to influence politics (or anything else) regardless of the wish for anonymity.
There are many ways that the less powerful are silenced, and conflating having something to hide or keep private with being not worth listening to is one of them, and insisting on identity disclosure is another. Not all pseudonymous writers are using pseudonyms to ethical ends, this is abundantly clear to anyone who has ever been on the Internet. But insisting that only those who name themselves and state their interest to everyone who lives in the country can speak is far worse.
Ariane at Ariane’s little world, adds to the discussion regarding #groggate by explaining that a person is not their job.
Bodies and health
Ariane calls bullshit on obesity being the root of all evil and society’s with focus on fatness as a health issue. Ariane also points out the negative health consequences of dieting.
Split Milk talks about why she doesn’t want to engage in discussions about dieting and how important fat acceptance places are.
Many fat activists also identify as feminists and in my opinion the most important tenet that those two movements have in common is a core belief in bodily autonomy. Advocating for fat acceptance is about asking for freedom from oppression and prejudicial treatment.
You know what? Fuck you. You’re not me. You’re not that other person. You don’t know the circumstances surrounding why someone is the way they are unless they tell you. Yes, we all make superficial judgements but does that give you the right to be abusive or phobic? No.
Fat Heffalump shared her paper that she presented for the Australian Fat Studies conference this month. She shares the effect that the “war on obesity” has had on her and most likely has had on others.
Sam at fat dialogue writes about her experience with Control Top Underpants and how important making people uncomfortable is as a really powerful critical and political intervention.
Julie at the Hand Mirror writes about Thin Privilege and how it isn’t all that great.
The Thin versus Not Thin dichotomy is yet another false division that just sets women against each other. We need to fight, together, against a culture which judges us on our physical appearance, whether that appearance is one that conforms or not.
Steph writes at LadyNews that although Christina Hendricks is great, and the media acceptance of her not typically represented body type is also great, having her body shape/type as one to aspire to is not a good thing.
Pickled Think shreds an article discussing a new sitcom hopefully not coming to a screen near you, and how fat really isn’t coming back to Hollywood.
Health and disability
Jo at Wallaby writes about Accessibility and Sydney’s public transport, focusing on Sydney’s buses.
Michelle at The Red Pill Survive Guide (*trigger warning – discussion of suicide*) writes about World Suicide Prevention Day on 10 September, and talks about how she understands that level of despair.
Chally at Zero at the bone, writes about taking a sickie and how hard it is for people with disabilities to take a “sickie” for legitimate reasons let alone “bludging”.
Helen at FlyingBlogspot.com talks about her ordinary and what she does to manage day to day. Helen also discusses how her ordinary may change with a review of her medication and trying some new treatment.
Race and Racism
Hexpletive blogged about the NSW Parliament amending the NSW State Constitution to finally recognise indigenous Australians as the first people in the State.
I wrote a piece about Boat People and how it should not be an issue.
Queen Emily at An Army of Rabbits discusses the concept of whiteness and the difference between white in Australia and white in the USA.
Jo at Wallaby writes a post about an anti-violence march asking some very pertinent questions for you to answer before you read Blue Milk’s post below.
Blue Milk writes about the march in Alice Springs by Aboriginal men to “stop the violence” and the lack of media coverage about positive Aboriginal stories.
Steph at 天高皇企鹅远 writes about japan ken and barbie, how they’re in Japanese inspired clothing and not actually Japanese, leading to the fetishisation and exotification of non Western cultures.
Chally wrote at Feministe about one of her favourite bit of cognitive dissonance.
stargazer at The Hand Mirror wrote about how collective responsibility is not productive, and states that, “i still don’t accept that i have any responsibility to apologise for the actions of someone i’ve never met and have absolutely no chance of influencing.”
the news with nipples writes Another burqa blog post and reluctantly gives Sergio Redegalli some of her time while she discusses how wrong his latest “art” work is. Then asks why the debate about burquas is still being controlled by people who do not wear burqas.
Blue Milk talks about how Stephanie Rice’s apology to queer people was not adequate and points out all the flaws in that apology very nicely.
Steph at 天高皇企鹅远 went to WorldCon and discusses her experiences with two panels, one on queer themes in SF, which she had to walk out of and the other chaired by a trans academic which was a far more positive experience.
PharaohKatt at Distinctly Disgruntled (*trigger warning – discussion of suicide*) deconstructs Bob Katter’s comments regarding the apparently non-existent LBGTIQ population in his electorate, the high rate of suicide of LBGTIQ people and Bob Katter’s comments about suicide on a Q&A segment.
I think the dynamic is deeply conditioned by internalised queerphobia. Specifically, internalisation of the double standard that there’s a threshold of queerness that someone has to prove in order to be ‘really’ queer (when there’s no such threshold for heterosexuality).
Maia at The Hand Mirror discusses a proposed bill in New Zealand which would re-criminalise street sex workers and how the relevant political parties have voted.
It is specifically targeting street sex workers. Street sex workers do not generally have $2,000 to pay a fine. The fines, when they’re awarded, won’t have the magic power to stop someone being poor and working as a sex worker, it’ll just make them poorer. It won’t make street sex work disappear, it’ll just make it harder, more dangerous, and more marginalised.
Steph at vegan about town discusses how veganism, race and ethnicity intersect and how calling for China to be “wiped from the face of the earth” for the way they treat animals is hypocritical when every country mistreats animals.
Maia at The Hand Mirror also discusses how there is a connection between problems the way food is discussed and the problems with way food is produced and looks at this under a feminist framework.
Shiny writes about how she is all out of cookies and isn’t going to give them to people who meet basic human standards of decency.
Callistra writes about safety and safe spaces, what they can be and how they are created.
Safety and feelings of safe spaces are also a place of sanctuary. It’s an intimately known quality, where so much discussion has already occured that the system can meet your needs. It means when you’re miserable and need company to listen to, you have friends who can answer that need. Or if you’re miserable and need to talk; you know you can have these needs met. It means if you need to sit quietly and absorb group energy, you can do so without worrying what others might think, say or do. I noticed this as being ‘a place where you can exist without struggle of identity’.
Callistra also writes about what connections are and how they contribute to safe spaces.
Writing at The Hand Mirror, anjum writes about women in minority cultures, who as feminists want to criticise and change the culture, but who fear that it will only give ammunition to haters in the majority culture.
steph writes at vegan about town regarding exclusionary language in the vegan and animal rights movement in Australia and how veganism and the animal rights movement are often seen as white/Anglo-Saxon, middle-class movements.
Pickled Think writes about surviving the Christchurch earthquake and how she feels right now.
Blue Milk writes about breastfeeding and how she felt when she first started and how she feels about it now.
Hexpletive writes about the 9th World Indigenous Women and Wellness Conference she attended and presented at in Darwin and then goes on to discuss the other Conferences and Conventions that she is interested in for the remainder of the year. I’m going to have to look some of these up.
Spilt Milk shares an experience of encountering penis graffiti with her young daughter and recounts Helen Barne’s Young Adult novel ‘Killing Aurora’, in which the protagonist draws vagina dentata graffiti in response to penis graffiti.
Spilt Milk wrote about her childhood comforter and how that was taken away from her, and now how the childcare centre her daughter goes to wants to take away her daughter’s teddy bear.
Queen Emily writes at An Army of Rabbits, two (related) things that never happened to her in Australia, specifically the assumption that she’d been to church followed by an exhortation to keep god in her heart.
Chally wrote about how social justice can also be about staying silent and doing what is right for you versus the wider world (this post could fit under most categories, and I struggled to find the best fit).
Wallaby writes about how prioritising and choosing your energy drain is important for your wellness, and your choices in this regard should be admired, fostered and encouraged.
tigtog clearly states for the record why banning commenters and refusing comment publication is not censorship as blogs are privately owned spaces.
the news with nipples writes about the petition put together by Plan Australia to make September 22 the International Day of the Girl. You can sign the petition here.
Natalie at definatalie.com writes about her feral leghair and why she’s going to grow it. She includes a great discussion about The Gruen Transfer and their discussion about redefining femininity based on advertising.
steph discusses at LadyNews the current Jadelle (a contraceptive implant) furore in the media. steph advocates choice and education for women, which some of the quotes in the article also supported.
Megan at Craft is the New Black writes about the need for the ‘generations’ of feminism to recognise and celebrate each other’s worth.
In a post to mark Women’s Suffrage Day in New Zealand, Ele at Home Paddock writes of the need for us to exercise our hard won right to vote in the upcoming local body elections.
*Trigger warnings – posts in this section discuss violence against women*
The Dawn Chorus discusses Street Harassment and how when reporting it or writing down what has been said, the tone of what was said is missing which is one of the reasons why street harassment is often belittled or dismissed.
Blue Milk explains that asking is sexy and that without consent it isn’t sex and the comments are great too.
I don’t know why the idea has persisted that asking for consent is necessarily a clinical business – what is stilted about – more? do you want to? do you like? Because “mood-killer”? Are you kidding me? That moment when they close the space between you both and ask you to put your cards on the table – is this on or not, can I do this with you – is one of the most heart-flippingly exciting moments in all of existence.
Jo at Wallaby wrote about the treatment received by two women who had been sexually assaulted in different legal systems and how much those legal systems differed.
XY writes about why he won’t be walking in Reclaim the Night/Take Back the Night march and provides and excellent resource (if you need one) to explain to some men why they are not always welcome to march.
AnneE at The Hand Mirror takes some relevant material from a paper on people who abuse their partners.
blue milk at Hoydon About Town writes about the strange behaviour of the state and society when a mother whose daughter was victim of incest is upset and protective of her daughter when pornography is displayed at a 7-11.
And isn’t it a strange world where police can be called in to protect your right to display pornography? So unquestioning are we about it that the newspaper article actually describes what unfolded as a “bizarre incident”. It is the same strange world where it is estimated that up to one in four girls will be sexually abused during their childhood.
Both Deborah from In a Strange Land and I wrote about Brendan Black and his opinion piece in Fairfax media on breastfeeding and breasts. Unfortunately he fails terribly at being a feminist ally when he could have done very well.
Jo at Wallaby suggests that men should not go out alone otherwise they might, “be accused of, and/or commit, indecent assault, sexual assault, rape or other sexual violence.”