Tag Archives: history

Welcome to the 109th Down Under Feminist Carnival

Hi all, it’s been ages since I blogged because I have been busy with school, life, more life, and then some more life.  I’ve missed you all and I only have one more semester to complete in my course (Graduate Diploma of Museum Studies), which I will write about later (much later, like in November when I’m back from being overseas after I’ve finished my course).

But anyway, there is a Down Under Feminist’s Carnival to share with you all, and I should get right on that.  Thanks to Chally and Scarlett for providing submissions for the carnival.


At Tea and Oranges, “Reflections on women in public life“:

But I reckon there must be a way to change how we work so that a steady simmer is the maximum setting. We don’t need anyone to be at a roaring boil, at risk of flooding over and drenching the flames and ruining the whole thing. It’s actually inefficient, really risky, and it means that some of the people at the top get there based on whether they can put in total life commitment long hours – not on other more important criteria.

Emily at Emily Writes wrote, “Dispatches from a car seat wet with an unknown substance“:

I’ve been trying to work out how to say thank you in a way that totally encapsulates the huge and actually quite overwhelming gratitude I feel for you all. When I had to go offline the most beautiful and loving messages started flowing in by email, and then not just by email – by post too.

Judy Horacek provides a collection of comics on the topic of Quests at her blog.

Marian Lorrison writes at the Australian Women’s History Network, “‘Of idle and vagrant habits’: Women and divorce in colonial Australia“:

Most historians realise how difficult it is to trace the intimate lives of ordinary women, especially those of the working class, who were too busy earning a living to write letters or diaries. This is why colonial divorce records offer the historian such a variety of archival treasures, revealing abundant detail about the daily lives and loves of women from different social classes and backgrounds.

Marian Lorrison at Australian Women’s History Network reviews Susan Magarey’s “Passions of the First Wave Feminists” with, “From puritanical wowser to passionate reformer: The re-making of Australia’s first-wave feminists“:

‘Passion’ is not a word usually linked with feminists of the so-called ‘first wave,’ who have received more than a little bad press since they began to agitate for the franchise in the 1880s. The story of suffrage in Australia has been overwhelmingly portrayed as an isolated middle-class phenomenon. This is perhaps inevitable given the scholarly focus on the movement’s leaders, who were for the most part affluent women with time and money enough to pursue political causes. Ian Turner’s inflammatory 1969 claim that Australian women were handed the vote on a plate is also no doubt a reflection of the idea that suffrage in Australia was unexciting and uneventful, with an all-male legislature magnanimously bestowing citizenship upon the women of an enlightened and fledgling nation.

Deb Lee-Talbot at Australian Women’s History Network reviews “Creating A Nation: 1788-1990” with “Fashioning a woman’s place: The creation of an inclusive Australian history“:

One particularly outstanding element is how well this collaboration of authors wrote fluid yet separate chapters. McGrath’s chapters (1, 6 and 12) focus on Aboriginal historical experiences and Quartly’s chapters (2, 3 and 4) present historical narratives about the colonies between 1788 and 1860. Grimshaw’s chapters (5, 7 and 8) create a framework through which to conceptualise Australia from Federation to 1912, whilst Lake’s chapters (9, 10 and 11) finally focus on the more recent twentieth-century history.

Vicky Nagy at the Australian Women’s History Network writes, “The Essex poisoning ring“:

In the midst of tumultuous events in mid nineteenth-century England (revolutions on Continental Europe, famine in Ireland, Chartist revolts, and women demanding the right to vote) the deaths of a few children, two husbands and one brother – all working class, all living in rural villages around Essex, and spaced out over five years – should have barely caused a ripple. However, the events between 1846 and 1851 in the north-west and north-east of Essex caused tension amongst pharmacists, physicians, politicians, newspaper reporters and their editors – not to mention the general populace, who were now riveted to any news about the so-called Essex Poisoning Ring.

Micro-aggressions, race and racism

Stephanie at No Award writes, “Continuum: First Aid for paper cuts“:

Sometimes micro aggressions are subtle and gentle. They’re so tiny and insignificant that I’ve called them paper cuts since before I knew what micro aggressions were.

The thing about micro aggressions, though, is that you have to be on guard for them; and sometimes you’re on guard and they happen anyway, and they cut and cut and cut, and all you think of when you look at that project paperwork is bleeding on it.

proudblacksista writes at Ramblings – conquering kids and cancer, “The trouble with AMS“:

I have trouble maintaining my medication regime at (Local Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Medical Service). I go to the service, my whole family goes and it annoys me that I have to see a health worker, I tell him or her, what I am there for. If I wasn’t sick I wouldn’t be there so why do I need to see the bouncer of the AMS. I then go back to the waiting room and wait for my name to be called to see the doctor. My name gets called and I don’t see the doctor, I have to explain to the nurse why I am there and she takes my blood pressure we talk about that and when she has finished I don’t go into the doctor, I get sent back to the waiting room. After another wait, my name is called again and I finally see a doctor. But It’s not the same doctor I saw last time I was there and I have to tell him what I have already told the health worker and the nurse. I ask for a refill of my medication, should be easy, but it’s not this bloke needs me to give him my entire history, I dutifully submit to him taking my blood pressure, checking me over and asking me again why I need the (list of medications).


Tessa Prebble writes at The Spinoff, “Ableism is everywhere. Parents of children with disabilities are challenging it, are you?“:

For people in the disability community, the abled community’s shock at these instances of ableism is frustrating. Frustrating because they’ve been trying to tell us this all along. They’ll look at what I’m writing and wonder why it took this story being told by an abled white woman, the parent to a disabled child – and not a disabled person herself – before anyone listened. They’ll shake their heads, because we should have known about this discrimination already. This shouldn’t be news. And they’re right.


Stephanie went to Continuum and writes about SF and horror at writes at No Award, “Continuum: SFFH with Asian characteristics“:

This is not a panel write up; it’s more of a rambling meander of panels I was on and panels I witnessed and thoughts I had along the way. It includes recommendations. But all of it is talking about Asian (mostly Southeast Asian) science fiction, fantasy and horror.

Scarlett Harris writes for SBS, “How watching ‘Search Party’ is like looking into a millennial mirror“:

Major spoilers ahead for the first season of Search Party – particularly the finale.

When we’re introduced to Search Party’s protagonist, Dory (Alia Shawkat), she’s going through the motions in a stagnant relationship with Drew (John Reynolds), who generally whines for Dory to fix him a microwave dinner when he’s hungry and uses her for his solo sexcapades.


Scarlett Harris writes for SBS, “Comment: I can’t get a rental because I own a dog. So now I’m homeless“:

Jennifer Duke, review editor at Domain.com, agrees, telling me that the lack of rentals that are pet-friendly results in “at some point, some pet owners [having to] make the decision between having a roof over their head and keeping their dog or cat. These are adults who are having their life choices and choice of companion dictated to them by a landlord.”

Jess Moss at The Spinoff writes, “Your different brain: How we will tell our child about her diagnosis“:

When we received our girl’s diagnosis last year, we didn’t tell her.

Neither of us queried whether we’d fully explain it to her or not. We both assumed that we wouldn’t for the time being. She’d just turned six and the list of compartmentalised issues on report was long.


Chrys Stevenson at Gladly, The Cross-Eyed Bear writes, “The Narcissism of Margaret Court“:

The whole kerfuffle about Margaret Court’s unpopular views on the LGBTIQ community and marriage equality has very little to do with her tennis achievements or the name of a tennis arena. It has everything to do with which side of the argument is telling the truth and which is spreading malicious and deceitful misinformation. In a nutshell, it’s about who is bullying who.

An anonymous post at The Spinoff, “The Masterbatorium: A queer experience of conceiving“:

For years we referred to our bathroom as ‘The Masterbatorium’. We were a house of women who liked showers and baths very much, but the naming came from what happened in our bathroom once a month for six months.

Rebecca Shaw writes at Kill Your Darlings, “Wedded to the System“:

On 18 May, Peter ‘Bon’ Bonsall-Boone died after a long struggle with cancer, leaving behind his partner of over 50 years, Peter de Waal. The two men were activists from the very beginning of their relationship until the very end of Bon’s life, appearing in a video for marriage equality as recently as April. They simply wanted to be equals, and dedicated their lives to that cause.


Emily at Emily Writes has organised a “Wine Mum Night” in Wellington (I think).  Anyway, it sounds great and if you can go, you should.


All posts in this section should be viewed with trigger warnings for harassment, assault, rape, abuse, etc.

Julie at The Hand Mirror writes, “Colin Craig is an abuser“.


And that’s it.  Thank you so much for reading.  Please volunteer to host (check out the future carnivals page to see free slots), leave comments on bloggers’ posts, share the carnival on your blogs/social networks, and read away.

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Europe 2013: Rome

We arrived in Rome on Sunday, completely wasted and insufficiently prepared for the 38C day ahead of us, and the fact that we had 4 hours between us arriving at our accommodation and being able to check in.  We managed… just.  Mostly we managed by finding gelati, followed by finding a restaurant that would serve us lunch early, and then by taking refugee in a nearby park for the remainder of the time.  When we got to our apartment and checked in, we showered, slept for 6 hours, got up had dinner, and then went back to bed and slept for another 8 hours.  We were quite jetlagged.

Photos are here.

Things I’ve learnt about Rome so far

1. Never visit during a heatwave – in fact probably avoid visiting at all during summer

The daily maximum temperature since we’ve arrived has been 37 – 39C.  This is a very hot temperature to wander around in outside, and when you remember that that is the temperature in the shade, the moment you step outside the shade and into a piazza, or a unshaded set of ruins, the temperature rapidly becomes unbearable.  This makes me admire the tenacity of street vendors who spend their day in the sun selling hats, cold water, parasols, fans, sunglasses, and other goods.  I’ve now decided that if I ever do come back to Rome, it’ll be in Spring or Autumn when hopefully the weather is cooler.

We are scheduled to have a cool change (with the max for tomorrow being 30) with possibly some rain, which will bring a whole new light to the city.

2. Romans have dogs

You don’t hear them, you sometimes see them being walked by their owners, but mostly you notice that said owners don’t clean up after their dogs when they take them for walks.  I’m actually surprised by the number of dogs I’ve seen in the neighbourhood I’m in, and the sizes.  I haven’t actually seen any cats, not even stray cats.  There must be cats about somewhere.

3. Ancient Rome is everywhere

We’re staying about 400 metres from the Colosseum, so yeah, you’d expect Ancient Rome to be everywhere here, but it’s everywhere, everywhere.  No matter which way you go, you end up finding a bit of ruined wall here, an old gate there, a former temple or some columns over there.  Judging from the tourist information at the places I’ve been to so far, there is clearly an ongoing dilemma as to whether or not preserve the ruins or move on and modernise the city, and the government of the day plays a large part in the attitude towards such things.  Right now I think Rome is in the maintain the ruins, but previous governments at various times have bulldozed historical remains in order to build roads, train stations, and train lines.  I cannot imagine what it must be like to make those decisions.

Rome also has a law that states that any ancient artefact found in the ground automatically belongs to the state.

There is so much Ancient Rome about the place, that they keep finding it.  Entire houses have been uncovered (either buried by dirt or river silt), and the contents catalogued and stored in museums.  The Roman Archeological Department must be masters in relocating frescos and mosaics, because I went to a museum today and saw many of them mounted on walls.  Moving such fragile and delicate (not to mention fiddly) objects of art would take immense skill.

4. Ancient traditions survive

I played a game called Ceasar III, in which you were building Roman cities and defending your city against barbarian invasions/pacifying the barbarians.  One of the strategies you had to employ was that all the buildings in an area had to have access to fresh water, or they would not increase in size/affluence.  This still happens in Rome.  There are water taps (best description I can come up with) with cold drinking water (very necessary in this heat) available for anyone to use, and they’re everywhere.  You can fill your water bottle, wet your head, give your dog a drink – it’s fresh water provided by the government.  This is awesome.

5. Parking is an artform

Rome is tiny, there are many people with cars who drive from A to B, who want to park their vehicle when they arrive at B (or A).  Consequently, car parking ballet is an interesting sight to behold.   Basically if there is a space on the side of the road, including on the corner of the intersection, people will park in it, no matter what the signs say.  People drive around looking for carparks in the vicinity they want to be in, and then race for that space that they think they’ll park in.  Also, Romans are masters of parallel parking.  I have no idea how people get in or out of the tiny spaces they fit their cars into, nor how they manage when they find that they’ve been entirely boxed in.

6. There are churches everywhere

You cannot sneeze without it hitting a church, or basilica, or other religious site.  Rome really is the most Catholic of all, and they have all the monuments to prove it.  Within 100 metres of my apartment are two basilicas, and numerous more if I drew a 500m radius from where I’m sitting.  As Christianity spread throughout Rome, former temples and monuments to other gods were repurposed, often without changing the exterior.  Also at some point, Popes in Rome enjoyed the artwork of Roman polytheism and didn’t mind that monuments and fountains dedicated to them were covered in Ancient Roman gods.

I do appreciate that there is current acknowledgement at historical sites that the early Christian Church (once it converted emperors), happily persecuted anyone still practicing their old faiths after those faiths were outlawed.  It’s not every day such honesty is displayed.

The Vatican really does have WAY too much power, way too much wealth, and way too much influence.  Guess what I couldn’t find at the local supermarket?  That’s right, condoms.  Yes, seriously.

7. Language is not required

I have been existing mostly in the tourist areas, so the majority of the serving staff I’ve interacted with do speak some English, and since I am a tourist, this has worked out perfectly.  The handful of Italians I have come across that consider themselves poor English speakers have still been relatively easy to communicate with.  The joys of speaking more than one language, and the supremacy of English that makes me lazy.

That’s my quick summation for now.  It’s been too hot to really enjoy the food, however the gelati is amazing.   Stay tuned for an update on Florence (next week), another post about Cologne (the week following), and a final post about Paris (again, at the end of August).

Related Posts:

The cold linkspam of our discontent (June 2013)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I’m sex-positive!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“What?” I said.

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

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

Ann Aguirre writes, “This week in SF“:

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

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

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

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

That’s not a message I get anywhere else.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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I’ve taken a while to write this post because Cologne was complicated.  It was the city we spent the most time in, and the city that I pretty much explored on my own (as James was busy being at Gamescom).  When I travel I tend to do a lot of reading about the place I’m in, or certain landmarks as they take my fancy – and even notable people  (well statues to them).

There is a lot of history in Cologne, not to say that there wasn’t in Paris or Amsterdam, I just got to experience a lot more history in Cologne.  From it’s Roman occupation in 50AD (I’m sure the local Germanic Celts were really happy with that), to the modern day, Cologne has an incredibly wealth of history that I could go and touch, and see, and marvel at.  Really in Cologne I did history, and a lot of it.

Continue reading Cologne

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Click on all the links – linkspam

I have my computer back, and I have a hundred thousand links (well not quite), to share with you.  Ones I’ve gathered while at work (where I had a computer) and ones I had ready to go before it took a week for my PC to be fixed. So let us begin, in no particular order…

Leah Moore guest posts on Warren Ellis’s blog on how the comic industry needs to tap more than the male market in “Thank Heaven for Little Girls“:

Girls read comics, not just Manga either. Girls read superhero comics, indie comics, autobiographical comics, historical comics, literary comics, horror comics, romance comics and even just plain terrible comics. Girls are comic fans. They want comics aimed at them, or aimed not at them, or just comics that are good. They want all the same things male comic fans want. They want to be sold to, they want to buy the cold cast porcelain model of Rogue looking badass and put it on their shelf. They want Wonder Woman underwear sets and Wolverine stationery for the new term. Women are just as whimsical, gullible, romantic and fanciful as men. They are capable of grasping the finer points of all the weird freaky made up stuff that we all commonly know to be “ACCEPTED CONTINUITY.”  They will talk about costume changes and characterisation.

Continue reading Click on all the links – linkspam

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A background story

There is a town I grew up in, well spent some of my formative years in, that I never ever want to return to.  I am envious of those people who have school friends who they spend time with, share history with and have connections that span the years.  I just don’t have that and some of the reasons are valid, and some relate to me being a slack teenager.  Let me explain.

I spent a bit over half of my formative years (traditionally from birth to 18), in Alice Springs… this is not the town I never want to return to.  Alice Springs, to this day, remains my spiritual home for want of a better phrase.  Alice Springs was a fantastic place to grow up in the 1980s.  I made friends with indigenous school children, local school children, blow-in school children (those whose parents had taken a 12 month contract and then were going to move onto the next place) and children whose parents had migrated from other countries.  I had the privilege of going to kindergarten with a group of people who I then went to school with.  I went to ballet school and did well, I was allowed to take what was then known as an “extension” program for gifted children at school and I fit in.

The fitting in part was the biggest and most important part for me, because of what happened when we left Alice Springs.  The people I went to school with in Alice Springs and those I was friends with accepted me, my quirks, my interests and the fact that I enjoyed school.  It wasn’t an ideal paradise, I did fight with girls and boys about stuff, but that wasn’t about who I was deep in my core that was just school yard politics in a very mild form.

We moved to a large country town in Victoria because my parents were concerned about their parents and wanted to be halfway between them (Melbourne and Corowa respectively).  It was a former gold mining town full of history, beautiful buildings and things to do.  On a purely aesthetic level it was a lovely place to be.  On a personal level, for me, it was hell.

My parents thought, at the time, that the best school to send me to was the Catholic High School because a) they were Catholic and b) Catholic Schools provide good education (apparently).  This school, compared to my Catholic High School in Alice Springs was MASSIVE.  I went from a school of 250 students in total to a school where there were 300 people in my year level, and as the school was divided over two campuses, years 7 to 9 and years 10 to 12, my campus had 900 students.

Despite charging fees (I ended up on a music scholarship, which is good because my parents would not have been able to afford the fees for long), the facilities at this school were quite poor compared to new shiny Catholic High School I attended in Alice Springs.  The campus coordinator thought that education in the Northern Territory was at a lower standard that Victoria (HA!) and wanted to put me back a year, but my mother put her foot down (thank god) and I remained in year 8.

As a smart and inquisitive student, I was suddenly bored.  I was a long way ahead of my fellow students, in all the core subjects and due to the move and my mother’s inability to find work, there were no extra curricular activities for me except choir – which I took up the year after we moved.  No home work, or at least no homework at the level I was used to in Alice Springs (combined with all the extra stuff I used to do) and suddenly my knowledge was a liability instead of an asset.

For the first time in my life I was picked on by others for knowing things.  My good vocabulary was laughed at.  When I told someone I was sceptical that X liked me, the boys went around for the next couple of days going, “ooh, I feel very sceptical today”, because they had no idea what it really meant.  In Alice Springs, I was one of the ones my fellow students went to when they wanted help with something.  In this town, I was shunned.

And not just shunned, I was bullied.  I was kicked, had my hair pulled and my school uniform skirt lifted.  I was picked on by girls for being different and determined to remain different.  I liked books and science and learning and enjoyed school – with the exception of the bullying.  I argued with mum about returning to school, spent time flatly refusing to go to school due to the way I was treated and eventually just got on with it as much as I could.

In my first year in this town I had one friend, who was someone very few people liked (including some of the teachers), but I thought was sweet.  Her family moved away from the town a bit over half-way through the year and I was then friendless until the following year.  Then I started making friends – who were mostly all outcasts like me and oddly were all people who had moved to the town later, they weren’t born there.

The bullying by the other girls continued throughout my entire school years.  This has resulted in me having a lot of trouble trusting women who I suspect are likely to play any sort of “game” beyond certain limits.  As a bisexual woman, this has added an extra layer of complexity that it’d be nice to do without.

Later in my school life in this town I was sexually assaulted by a boy who lived down the road, and nothing was done by anyone I told.  My mother has since apologised, explaining that her own sexual abuse as a child (though not the details) taught her that children lie – because that is what she was regularly told during her childhood.

Later again I was raped by my boyfriend, and since no one was going to act as they didn’t the first time, I didn’t bother telling anyone – having learnt that I had to deal with stuff on my own.

The relationship with my then boyfriend was incredibly toxic.  I endured emotional abuse and it took me a long time to find a way out of the relationship.  Only when I was at uni, in the same town, did I discover that I was appreciated for who I was, that my curiosity, thirst to know things and difference were ok things to have and that suddenly there were multiple people interested in me, versus the incredibly tiny number at school – well one.

When I dropped out of uni because engineering was not for me and moved to Melbourne I lost all the friends that I had gained in the town.  My ex-boyfriend still lived there and our circle of friends found it easier to be friendly to him as he was there than to remain in contact and/or friendship with me.

Moving to Melbourne was a good thing for me.  I’ve made friends again and lost friends and made new friends.  I have built up a family of choice of wonderful people I am happy to have in my life.  I have left behind the mess that was that country town and avoid going there as much as possible, even though there are a still one or two people I would not mind getting in touch with again.  I have a home now (and I’m even paying it off) and have filled it with people I love dearly.  I have a great circle of friends and have sorted out most of my genetic family stuff.  I have learnt that I’m me, and that those who cannot deal with that have a problem, not me.

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