Tag Archives: identity

Essay: It belong to them, let’s give it back

I submitted this essay for assessment (I got a HD) in the first trimester of last year.  It’s relevant to a twitter conversation so I’m posting it here as submitted.  All errors are mine.

Essay question:

Please research and critically discuss examples of the ways in which museums and/or governments are responding to the issue of repatriation. Do you think they are effectively addressing some of the problems of the past?

Introduction

After the settlement of Australia by the British in 1788, the collection of Indigenous Australian remains and objects began with collected items ending up in both Australian and international museums, and in private collections.  The acquisition of these remains and objects occurred in circumstances that today would be seen as illegal (Chamberlain 2005).  Remains and objects were largely collected “to preserve evidence of cultures that appeared to be disappearing” (Simpson 2009, p. 128), and to support a ‘scientific’ view that Indigenous Australians were “deeply inferior” (Fforde 2009, p. 42) to Europeans.  This essay will examine two case studies of the returns of remains to Indigenous Australian communities, the governmental and institutional responses to repatriation of remains and objects, and how repatriation of remains and artefacts addresses problems of the past.

The Return of Tasmanian Ash Bundles

In March 2006, the British Museum decided to return two Tasmanian cremation ash bundles to the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre (British Museum 2006a).  These ash bundles had been stolen by George Augustus Robinson in the 1800s and eventually donated to the British Museum in 1882 (British Museum 2006b, Material Religion 2007).  The passing of the Human Tissue Act in the United Kingdom in 2004 and the British Museum developing their policy on human remains in 2005 facilitated this return (British Museum 2006a, Material Religion 2007).

The Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre had been requesting the return of these items since 1985, and the British Museum initially claimed that they were unable to agree to the request as they did not have the power to de-accession objects in their collection (British Museum 2006b).  The return of the ash bundles involved an assessment that the ash bundles had been “well documented, published, studied and recorded” (British Museum 2006b, p. 1) and that returning the ash bundles would “not lead to any loss of existing information” or “offer any further significant information in the future” (Material Religion 2007, p. 157).

The British Museum (2006b, p. 2) acknowledged that for the Tasmanian Aboriginal community that the existence of the ash bundles and human remains in the museum “embodies all the pain of dispossession and genocide which they experience on reflecting on their colonial history”.

The Return of Remains from Edinburgh University to the Ngarrindjeri Nation, South Australia

The Edinburgh University adopted a pro-repatriation policy regarding human remains in 1990, after long campaigning by Australian Indigenous groups (Fforde 2009).  The remains that the Edinburgh University held were from all over Australia, but the majority of them were from the Ngarrindjeri people of South Australia (Fforde 2009).  The remains of the Ngarrindjeri people had been collected by William Ramsey Smith in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries (Elmslie and Nance 1988).  Ramsey Smith was Adelaide’s “coroner, inspector of anatomy and chairman of the Central Board of Health” (Elmslie and Nance 1988) at the time and he sent the remains to Edinburgh University (Scobie 2009). Although the remains have been returned to the Ngarrindjeri people via the Repatriation Unit of the National Museum of Australia, the Ngarrindjeri people have not had the funding to rebury all of their ancestors (Fforde 2009, Scobie 2009).

The Ngarrindjeri people have also had remains returned to them from the Australian Museum in Sydney, Museum Victoria and the Royal College of Surgeons in London (National Museum Australia 2003, The Wire 2004), and have reported that the return of their ancestors is healing damage of the past (Scobie 2009)

The return of human remains

Indigenous Australian groups have been requesting from overseas and Australian museums the return of the human remains of their ancestors and objects that were stolen or taken from them.  As evidenced above, the return of human remains from Australian and British institutions has been facilitated by the UK Human Tissue Act and by institutions voluntarily returning remains.  This has not meant that all institutions in the UK have returned remains, or that all remains repatriated to Australia have been returned to Indigenous groups.

The Advisory Committee for Indigenous Repatriation (2014) recommended that for those remains that are returned to Australia without further provenance, that they be housed in a National Resting Place.  Where remains are only provenanced to states or territories, the remains are kept in one of the eight museums funded for this purpose, so that the remains are closer to home and that further identifying work can be undertaken to identify which Nation they came from (Advisory Committee for Indigenous Repatriation 2014).

The Australian Government’s position on the repatriation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander remains is that they should be returned unconditionally and voluntarily, and with the collaboration of the relevant peoples (Advisory Committee for Indigenous Repatriation 2014). However, some institutions in the United Kingdom are very reluctant to return remains to Australia.  The Natural History Museum, for example, has previously claimed that they cannot return remains if they those remains will be reburied, or in some cases buried for the first time, because their researchers will lose access to the remains for further scientific examination (Turnbull 2007).  Turnbull (2007) argues that as most of the Indigenous Australian remains held by institutions outside Australia are less than 500 years old, the scientific information that can be gathered from the remains could be gathered from their descendants and that there is no need to retain the remains in museums and institutions.

The return of objects

The Australian Government has stated that they seek “the return of secret sacred objects only from within Australia” (Australian Government Department of Communications and the Arts 2013, p. 6), and not from overseas despite the fact that these objects were often stolen, looted or obtained through “the gross inequality of power” (Besterman 2009, p. 109).  Indigenous Australians who seek the return of artefacts held in institutions outside Australia have to negotiate the return on their own, and generally institutions are not willing or able to return objects (Reppas 2007).

In 2002, Directors at eighteen of the largest museums in the world signed a statement taking a stand against the repatriation of objects in their collections (Reppas 2007).  The museums argued that objects in their collection “find value in their juxtaposition with other objects” (Gorman 2006, p. 79) and that “the privileged position of non-Western objects and cultures within contemporary knowledge systems would not have been achieved were it not for the position of acquired objects within the great museum” (Gorman 2006, p. 79).  These museums claim that current ethical codes or laws should not be applied to their historical acquisition processes, and that their current collections have added to the national heritage of the countries in which they are based (Gorman 2006).  In making these statements, these museums disregard the effects of their previous acquisition policies on those peoples who have been negatively affected by colonialism, claiming that removal of items from their collections would be more harmful than past practices.

The British Museum cannot de-accession objects in their collection after a High Court ruling in 2005 which prohibited the museum returning drawings looted by the Nazis to the rightful heirs, unless those objects are duplicates or useless (Reppas 2007).  The High Court ruled that more recent Acts of Parliament overtook the UK Government’s previous adoption of resolutions and conventions that spoke to the return of objects to people and nations who had been dispossessed of them (Reppas 2007).  Clearly the UK Government is afraid, as per Prime Minister David Cameron’s comment in 2010 that “If you say yes to one [request], you suddenly find the British Museum would be empty” (Associated Press 2016).

Consequently, regardless of how the British Museum and other UK Government funded museum institutions obtained the objects in their collection, they cannot return them to their rightful owners.  This is contrary to the International Council of Museums’ (ICOM) Code of Ethics for Museums (2013, p. 10) which states:

  1. 2 Return of Cultural Property

Museums should be prepared to initiate dialogues for the return of cultural property to a country or people of origin. This should be undertaken in an impartial manner, based on scientific, professional and humanitarian principles as well as applicable local, national and international legislation, in preference to action at a governmental or political level.

  1. 3 Restitution of Cultural Property

When a country or people of origin seeks the restitution of an object or specimen that can be demonstrated to have been exported or otherwise transferred in violation of the principles of international and national conventions, and shown to be part of that country’s or people’s cultural or natural heritage, the museum concerned should, if legally free to do so, take prompt and responsible steps to cooperate in its return.

ICOM’s Code of Ethics is a voluntary set of principles for museums and in this case it is not the museum that is preventing the return of stolen or looted objects but the UK Government, their legislation and willingness to take the matter to court if a museum attempted to return an object.

In 2013 the Australian Government enacted the Protection of Cultural Objects on Loan Act 2013 (Cth) to prevent museums and institutions where objects are being loaned to losing “ownership, physical possession, custody or control of the objects because of:

  • legal proceedings in Australian or foreign courts;
  • the exercise of certain powers (such as powers of seizure) under Commonwealth, State and Territory laws; or
  • the operation of such laws.” (Explanatory Memorandum)

This legislation was created after the Dja Dja Wurrung Native Title Group obtained an emergency declaration under Australian heritage protection laws to stop the return of bark etchings which had been on loan from the British Museum and the Royal Botanic Gardens in Surrey in 2004 (Fray 2004, Daley 2015).  The etchings were returned to the United Kingdom after the court case to retain them was unsuccessful (Fitzsimmons 2015).

The legislation has meant that the British Museum and other institutions are willing to loan Indigenous Australian objects, and other objects and artworks, to Australian museums and institutions (Daley 2015).  On one hand, it means that Indigenous Australians can reconnect with their culture but on the other, it is a reminder that these objects are held outside Australia and that they were taken from them through theft, force or coercion (Daley 2015).

Addressing the problems of the past

While the return of remains from museums and institutions around the world have been welcomed by Indigenous Australians and the Australian Government, issues remain regarding the return of objects from museum collections.  Tom Trevorrow, the chairman of the Ngarrindjeri Heritage Committee, who has worked to for the return his ancestors’ remains stated that “healing is beginning” (Scobie 2009) now that his ancestors are back on their country.  Fforde (2009, p. 47) states that “repatriation is fundamentally about facilitating the rights of a source community to decide the future of their ancestors’ remains”.  Indigenous Australians whose ancestors have been returned after removal “gain control over their history and culture” and “some dignity is restored” (Besterman 2009, p. 109).

The return of remains to Indigenous Australians rectifies some of the past wrongs against them and their ancestors and it is both a spiritual and cultural necessity as it assists in the preservation of their way of life (Chamberlain 2005).  Chamberlain (2005, p. 349) also argues that the failure by overseas institutions to return objects “could amount to a denial of such peoples’ right to maintain their culture or to manifest their religion”.  However, one option available to museums who are unable or unwilling to return objects to their rightful owners, is to involve the traditional owners of the objects in how those objects are displayed and interpreted which would give the traditional owners a sense of control over those objects (Davies 2004, Gorman 2006).

The Australian Government’s commitment to the repatriation of Indigenous Australian remains and the repatriation of secret-sacred objects held in Australian museums supports Indigenous Australians connection and ownership of their heritage (Advisory Committee for Indigenous Repatriation 2014, Australian Museum 2007).  Returning objects to the originating Nation or peoples goes a long way to assist in rebuilding identity and can help Indigenous Australian cultural renewal through knowledge transmission (Roehrenbeck 2010, Simpson 2009).  Simpson (2009, p. 122) writes that “the repatriation of ceremonial materials from museums may be … linked to strategies to aid recovery from post-colonial trauma, and … to contribute to indigenous health and well-being.”

Conclusion

Although some museums and institutions are repatriating Indigenous Australian remains to their descendants and objects to their traditional owners, there are still museums and institutions who have not done so, or who are unable to do so due to governmental regulation.  The return of remains and objects to Indigenous Australians is highly important to them, and adds to the healing of the ongoing trauma of colonialism.  In the future when museums and institutions that are currently unable to return objects have those obstacles facing them removed, revisiting how this affects Australia’s Indigenous population, what objects are sought, and whether the objects are preserved or used will add to the understanding of the importance of repatriation.

Bibliography

Advisory Committee for Indigenous Repatriation 2014, Resting Place Consultation Report, Australian Government Department of Communications and the Arts, retrieved 23 April 2016, <http://arts.gov.au/sites/default/files/indigenous/repatriation/National-Resting-Place-Consultation-Report-2014.PDF>

Associated Press 2016, ‘India changes tack over return of Koh-i-Noor diamond’, The Guardian, 20 April, retrieved 23 April 2016, <http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/apr/20/india-changes-tack-over-return-of-koh-i-noor-diamond>

Australian Government Department of Communications and the Arts 2013, Australian Government Policy on Indigenous Repatriation, Australian Government Department of Communications and the Arts, retrieved 23 April 2016, <http://arts.gov.au/sites/default/files/indigenous/repatriation/australian-government-policy-on-indigenous-repatriation-august2011.pdf >

Australian Museum 2007, ‘Repatriation Policy for Australian Aboriginal Secret/Sacred and Aboriginal Ancestral Remains Collections’, Australian Museum, retrieved 24 April 2016, <http://australianmuseum.net.au/Uploads/Documents/7546/repatriation-2007.pdf>

Besterman, T 2009, ‘Returning a stolen generation’, [Part of a special issue: Return of Cultural Objects: The Athens Conference], Museum International, vol. 61, no. 1/2, pp. 107-111. Available from: 10.1111/j.1468-0033.2009.01665.x. [23 April 2016].

British Museum 2006a, Human Remains: Request for Repatriation of Human Remains to Tasmania, British Museum, retrieved 23 April 2016, <http://www.britishmuseum.org/about_us/management/human_remains/repatriation_to_tasmania.aspx>

British Museum 2006b, Request for Repatriation of Human Remains to Tasmania: Dossier Item 1: Departmental Report, British Museum, retrieved 23 April 2016, <http://www.britishmuseum.org/pdf/Final_Dossier.pdf>

Chamberlain, K 2005, ‘We Need to Lay Our Ancestors to Rest—The Repatriation of Indigenous Human Remains and the Human Rights Act’, Art, Antiquity & Law, vol. 10, no. 4, pp. 325-352.

Daley P 2015, ‘Preservation or plunder? The battle over the British Museum’s Indigenous Australian show’, The Guardian, 9 April, retrieved 24 April 2016, <http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2015/apr/09/indigenous-australians-enduring-civilisation-british-museum-repatriation>

Davies, C 2004, ‘Property Rights in Human Remains and Artefacts and the Question of Repatriation’, Newcastle Law Review, vol. 8, no. 1, pp. 51-64.

Elmslie R & Nance S 1988, ‘Smith, William Ramsay (1859–1937)’ Australian Dictionary of Biography, retrieved 24 April 2016, <http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/smith-william-ramsay-8493>

Explanatory Memorandum, Protection of Cultural Objects on Loan Bill 2012 (Cth), retrieved 24 April 2016, <https://www.legislation.gov.au/Details/C2012B00214/Explanatory%20Memorandum/Text>

Fforde, C 2009, ‘From Edinburgh University to the Ngarrindjeri nation, South Australia’, Museum International, vol. 61, no. 1/2, pp. 41-47. Available from: 10.1111/j.1468-0033.2009.01673.x. [23 April 2016].

Fitzsimmons H 2015, ‘Indigenous tribe demands Dja Dja Wurrung bark exhibits on display at British Museum be returned’, ABC News, 25 April, retrieved 24 April 2016, <http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-04-24/victorian-indigenous-tribe-demand-bark-exhibits-be-returned/6419998>

Fray P 2004, ‘Bark etchings fight’, The Age, 27 July, retrieved 24 April 2016, <http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2004/07/26/1090693902586.html?from=storyrhs>

Gorman JM 2006 ‘Universalism and the new museology: impacts on the ethics of authority and ownership’, in Marstine J, Bauer A, Haines C, (eds), New directions in museum ethics, pp. 77–87, retrieved 24 April 2016, EBL

ICOM 2013, ICOM Code of Ethics for Museums, ICOM, retrieved 2 April 2016, <http://icom.museum/the-vision/code-of-ethics/>

National Museum Australia, Largest return of Aboriginal remains, National Museum Australia, retrieved 23 April 2016, <http://www.nma.gov.au/media/media_releases_by_year/2003/28_april_2003_largest_return>

Reppas, MI 2007, ‘Empty “International” Museums’ Trophy Cases of Their Looted Treasures and Return Stolen Property to the Countries of Origin and the Rightful Heirs of Those Wrongfully Dispossessed’, Denver Journal of International Law & Policy, vol. 36, no. 1, pp. 93-123.

Roehrenbeck, CA 2010, ‘Repatriation of Cultural Property-Who Owns the Past? An Introduction to Approaches and to Selected Statutory Instruments’, International Journal of Legal Information, vol. 38, no. 2, pp. 185-200.

Rotsy M, Gifford P, Hirst R, Moginie J, Garrett P 1987, Beds Are Burning, song, Colombia, Diesel and Dust

Scobie, C 2009, ‘The long road home’, The Guardian, 28 June, retrieved 23 April 2016, <http://www.theguardian.com/world/2009/jun/28/aborigines-reclaim-ancestors-remains>

Simpson, M 2009, ‘Museums and restorative justice: heritage, repatriation and cultural education’, Museum International, vol. 61, no. 1/2, pp. 121-129. Available from: 10.1111/j.1468-0033.2009.01669.x. [24 April 2016].

‘The Return of Tasmanian Aboriginal Ash Bundles by the British Museum’, [Interview with the British Museum’s Deputy Director, Andrew Burnett], 2007, Material Religion, vol. 3, no. 1, pp. 156-158. Available from: 10.2752/174322007780095735. [23 April 2016].

The Wire, Museum Vic returns Ngarrindjeri remains, The Wire, retrieved 23 April 2016, <http://thewire.org.au/story/museum-vic-returns-ngarrindjeri-remains/>

Turnbull P 2007, ‘Scientific Theft of Remains in Colonial Australia’, Australian Indigenous Law Review, 11(1), Available from http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/journals/AUIndigLawRw/2007/7.html, retrieved 23 April 2016

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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.

Continue reading I believe in limitations on free speech

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Let’s talk about biphobia in the gay and lesbian communities

So on my recent post about biphobia at Pride, a commenter by the name of Marc stopped by to tell me that gay people have no power or privilege and therefore they can’t discriminate or oppress bisexual people, and that biphobia from the gay community does not exist.  Here is his comment in full:

Just thought I would expand on this mornings hurried post which made several jumps of thinking from the original article that maybe I did not explain clearly enough.

Oppression and discrimination are not simply name calling or insulting people. Having an opinion and or an objection to something is everyones right of which then stops being ok when people begin to exercise power over other groups ability to act or think differently. Pride is not just because people call us names. Pride goes deeper in that we have been subjected to systematic and authoritative abuse and denial of rights and this still causes us problems.

I will stop here and emphasise that both the original article and the comments directly related to mine only use the terms oppression and discrimination to describe people who have opinions.

So making the first jump of thinking that oppression and discrimination actually both run deeper than a person democratically expressing their opinion and that we are now taking about abusive assertion of a privileged position lets make a few more points in relation to this topic:

– In my opinion gay people have no position of power, authority, privilege.

– In my opinion gay people – even in the context of Pride – do not have power, authority, privilege over bisexuals.

My conclusion: “biphobia” in the context of a homosexual who actively oppresses a bisexual does not exist.

I think the writer of this article has reacted in the worst possible way to criticise someone else who is obviously also a victim. When I try to objectively position both parties I recognise the person who is hurling the insult and the insult as a result of their experience and reaction to homophobia. The key here is recognising that this person is effected by homophobia and saying that homophobia is the issue which you are both effected by. Insisting that someone whose core issue is being a victim of homophobia has an issue that needs to be solved outside of the homophobia I find problematic.

So let me break this down a bit and point out where I feel Marc is wrong.

Oppression and discrimination are not simply name calling or insulting people. Having an opinion and or an objection to something is everyones right of which then stops being ok when people begin to exercise power over other groups ability to act or think differently.

Yes, you are entitled to hold an opinion, even if it is a vile opinion.  However, if you are a member of a more privileged group, shouting insults and name calling at a less privileged group can be a continuation of existing oppression and discrimination faced by said less privileged group.  The individual doing the name calling and insulting may be unaware of the existing oppression and discrimination faced by the less privileged group, as Marc certainly appears to be, but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist.

And also, if you don’t think that being able to name call or insult people is exercising power, or attempting to exercise power over other groups, then you need to think carefully about why that is.

Pride is not just because people call us names. Pride goes deeper in that we have been subjected to systematic and authoritative abuse and denial of rights and this still causes us problems.

That’s right, and when there is lateral violence within the LGBTIQ communities, that’s something we have to address.  The fact all LGBTIQ communities have faced and continue to face differing degrees of abuse and denial of rights from historically non-LGBTIQ friendly institutions and authorities, does not excuse lateral violence within our own communities.

I will stop here and emphasise that both the original article and the comments directly related to mine only use the terms oppression and discrimination to describe people who have opinions.

As I stated earlier, you can have an opinion, regardless of how good or bad that opinion actually is.  Marc is arguing that shouting out ‘opinions’ is just that, and it isn’t a continuation of oppression or discrimination.  I’m guessing Marc hasn’t taken his thought project to other levels – such as homophobic bigots shouting out their ‘opinions’ regarding gay men, or racist arseholes shouting out their ‘opinions’ regarding non-white people.

You see, having an opinion generally means you have thoughts about something.  You might discuss it with friends, you might write about it in a diary, but when you take you ‘opinion’ out into public, and shout it at a group of marginalised people, it may continue to be an ‘opinion’ but it’s now also potentially feeding into oppression and discrimination faced by those marginalised people.

It’s not necessarily all bad, you might think that bisexuals are the most awesome people in the world and shout out, “I LOVE BISEXUALS” at Pride, and everyone else can be happy.  When you shout positive things at people, it generally adds to the happiness in the world.  When you shout negative things at people, it generally detracts from the overall happiness in the world.  This shouldn’t be rocket science.

So making the first jump of thinking that oppression and discrimination actually both run deeper than a person democratically expressing their opinion and that we are now taking about abusive assertion of a privileged position lets make a few more points in relation to this topic:

– In my opinion gay people have no position of power, authority, privilege.

– In my opinion gay people – even in the context of Pride – do not have power, authority, privilege over bisexuals.

Democratic opinions are ones that happen at polling booths, when you vote for candiates.  As the woman yelling biphobic abuse was not calling for votes, and was not casting a vote on bisexuality, she was just shouting out her views about the validity of bisexuality.  She is free to be a bigot, because we exist in a democratic nation, and our current Attorney General (Brandis) said that people had the freedom to be bigots (what a nice guy).

So I’m going to that this as if Marc meant, “… a person freely expressing their onion as allowed in a democratic country…”, and remind him that even still, freedom of speech in Australia is an implied right, and that not all speech is protected, just look at the Bolt and fair skinned Aboriginal people case, one he rightfully lost.  Or if you don’t like that you can consider Alan Jones and his comments that led to the Cronulla Riots, and how he was convicted of inciting racial hatred.

Ok, so let’s move onto privilege and gay people.  Marc believes that gay people have no positions of power, authority or privilege – and he’s somewhat right.  Historically, even fairly recently, gay men had little power or privilege.  I’m specifically separating gay men from lesbian women here, because that gender difference plays a lot into privilege.  Today however, being a gay man is not the social death sentence that it used to be.  Yes, gay men do not have it as easy or as good as straight men, but they still have it easier than bisexual men, trans* men, and all women.  This article on male privilege will help unpack this a little.

So today in Australia, there are many prominent gay men, the Freedom Commissioner – Tim Wilson is an out gay man, Michael Kirby a former Australian High Court Judge, Anton Enus one of SBS’s news presenters, Bob Brown the founder of the Australian Greens, etc.  All of the men I’ve listed above have power and privilege, even if the journey to get there wasn’t as easy as it could have been if they were straight.

Marc’s comment that gay people have no position of power, privilege or authority is clearly wrong.

Marc then follows up his comment that gay people have no power, privilege or authority over bisexual people.  This is the only part of his comment I addressed in my response to him (before I wrote a blog post about it).  Let me find my original comment.

HI Marc, glad you could clarify and I’m sorry to say you’re wrong. Bisexuals face active biphobia from the gay and lesbian communities and the straight communities. Let me give you some links:

Bisexual Invisibility: Impacts and Recommendations was published by the San Francisco Human Rights Commission in 2011.

The Bisexuality Report was published by Open University (UK) and BiUK in 2012.

I have blogged, and others have blogged about biphobia in the gay and lesbian communities and how that impacts on bisexuals – you can look that up yourself.

Some direct quotes from those two papers:

From page 5 of the San Fran report:

Bisexual Exclusion
Often, the word “bisexual” shows up in an organization’s name or mission statement, but the group doesn’t offer programming that addresses the specific needs of bisexuals.

Page 8 & 9 of that report detail what biphobia is, and the report goes onto the effects that biphobia have on bisexual people’s health.

The Open University Report from the UK has on page 15:

LGB organisations and initiatives ‘dropping the B’ so that bisexuality is included in the title and/or mission statement, but the rest of their materials default to ‘lesbian and gay’ or even just ‘gay’ and refer to ‘homophobia’ rather than ‘homophobia and biphobia’

Page 19 & 20 detail biphobia. And page 21 includes the following:

Double discrimination
Another issue specific to biphobia is double discrimination: the fact that bisexual people can be discriminated against both by heterosexuals and by lesbian and gay people. Both groups can be suspicious of bisexual partners (fearing that they will be left for someone of the‘other gender’) and assume that bisexual people will be a threat to their relationships. Some lesbian and gay people may also feel threatened if they have any ‘other gender’ attraction themselves and are faced with the tough prospect of a second ‘coming out’ if they were to identify as bisexual. Also, some people can feel that the existence of bisexuality ‘muddies the water’ in a way which calls into question the basis on which they have fought for their rights.

It can be particularly difficult for bisexual people when they are excluded from, or rejected by, lesbian and gay individuals or groups where they had expected to find safety and community. Common historical examples of such exclusions include having to fight to be allowed to take part in pride marches, being relegated to the back of such marches, and having no bisexual people on the stage alongside the lesbian, gay and trans people there. Some gay clubs and services have also had gay-only door policies meaning that bisexual people have been forced to lie if they want to participate. …the legacy remains among bisexual people accessing services today, and there is still fear among UK bisexual people that they will be rejected if they attempt to engage with LGBT groups.

I completely acknowledge that those who identify as gay or lesbian (or both) have faced a struggle for acceptance, and that is hasn’t been easy road. I completely accept that the struggle for equality for gay and lesbian people is not over.

I would like you to acknowledge that biphobia is a real thing, and it exists within the gay and lesbian communities. I would also like you to acknowledge that biphobia, like homophobia and transphobia, carries real world consequences, and that fighting against homophobia, biphobia and transphobia is something we should be united in doing. And that means calling out bad behaviour in our communities when we see it.

I don’t need to expand on that, but I do want people to read those two reports and understand the impact that biphobia from the LGBTIQ communities has on bisexual people.  Sadly little research has been done in Australia on those who identify as bisexual and the effects of biphobia here.

The final part of Marc’s comment:

My conclusion: “biphobia” in the context of a homosexual who actively oppresses a bisexual does not exist.

I think the writer of this article has reacted in the worst possible way to criticise someone else who is obviously also a victim. When I try to objectively position both parties I recognise the person who is hurling the insult and the insult as a result of their experience and reaction to homophobia. The key here is recognising that this person is effected by homophobia and saying that homophobia is the issue which you are both effected by. Insisting that someone whose core issue is being a victim of homophobia has an issue that needs to be solved outside of the homophobia I find problematic.

It’s all well and good for Marc, who never came back to respond to my comment incidentally, to declare that biphobia does not exist from the gay and lesbian communities.  The evidence, both my own lived evidence, and the evidence from research shows otherwise.

I don’t understand Marc’s comment regarding the woman who was yelling abuse.  I have no idea who she was, and I don’t know what her sexual orientation was.  Was she a lesbian who hates bisexuals?  Was she a bigot who was there to hate everyone?  I don’t know.  If she was a lesbian, she was punching down, perpetuating lateral violence, and enforcing a status quo that has bisexuals seen as lesser than gays and lesbians.  If she was a bigot, then I assume she was yelling at everyone, and she shouldn’t’ve been there.

Marc doesn’t recognise biphobia in the gay and lesbian communities, which is biphobic in itself.  In failing to recognise biphobia, and saying that the woman yelling at us was hurting as much as we were from her abuse, he continues to erase the real harm that biphobia causes the bisexual community.

Biphobia is real, it’s as real as homophobia and transphobia.  It causes real harm to real people.

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#endGamerGate2014 Linkspam

I’ve been paying attention to Gamer Gate, because as a woman who plays games and who likes to see diverse representation of characters and stories, they’re a group that does not have my interest at heart, and are likely to actively target me.  Fortunately I’m not famous, and in Australia, which means I have several degrees of protection, not afforded to other prominent women in the gaming industry.

So instead of putting this in my general linkspam, I’ll put it all here so that those of you who aren’t interested can skip it.

You know you’ve made it big when the main stream media picks up on what you’ve been doing – but making it big isn’t always a positive thing.  When the mainstream media are looking at you like something they wished they hadn’t stepped in, perhaps continuing the bad fight is not optimal for your movement.

Anyway, onto the posts!

Jay Hathaway writes at Gawker, “What Is Gamergate, and Why? An Explainer for Non-Geeks“:

What is #Gamergate?

“#GamerGate” is an online movement ostensibly concerned with ethics in game journalism and with protecting the “gamer” identity.

“Ostensibly”?

Even regarded generously, Gamergate isn’t much more than a tone-deaf rabble of angry obsessives with a misguided understanding of journalistic ethics. But there are a lot of reasons not to regard the movement generously.

Jessica Valenti at The Guardian writes, “Gamergate is loud, dangerous and a last grasp at cultural dominance by angry white men“:

The recent uproar – said to be over ethics in journalism but focused mostly on targeting outspoken women who aren’t journalists at all – is just the last, desperate gasp of misogynists facing an unwelcoming future. But this particular bitter end, while long overdue, is loud, angry and extremely dangerous.

Female game developers Brianna Wu and Zoe Quinn have fled their homes in fear after a terrifying barrage of rape and death threats. Feminist media critic Anita Sarkeesian was forced to cancel a talk last week at Utah State University after the school received an email promising a “Montreal Massacre-style” mass shooting if the “craven little whore” was allowed to speak. And despite assurances from Gamergate supporters that they have no problem with women, their de facto leaders are being outed as violent misogynists.

Charlie Brooker at The Guardian writes, “Gamergate: the internet is the toughest game in town – if you’re playing as a woman“:

I haven’t always been the kind of man who plays videogames. I used to be the kind of boy who played videogames. We’re inseparable, games and I. If you cut me, I’d bleed pixels. Or blood. Probably blood, come to think of it.

Games get a bad press compared with, say, opera – even though they’re obviously better, because no opera has ever compelled an audience member to collect a giant mushroom and jump across some clouds. Nobody writes articles in which opera-lovers are mocked as adult babies who never grew out of make-believe and sing-song; obsessive misfits who flock to weird “opening nights” wearing elaborate “tuxedo” cosplay outfits.

On no account go to the opera yourself: you’ll probably run into a mafia boss. According to at least one film I think I saw once, mafia bosses love opera, because there’s loads of death and killing in it. Yet politicians don’t table motions solemnly condemning opera’s dangerous level of violence.

There seems to be a small yet vocal core of maniacs bafflingly resistant to the notion that women should have any say in the games industry at all. Even recent statistics indicating that female players now outnumber men can’t sway them, thanks to a lazy assumption that most of those women are playing Candy Crush or other, equally non-taxing “casual games” apparently un worthy of being called “games” at all. I don’t think that’s true, and even if it were, I wouldn’t blame women for voluntarily choosing to play something soothing and non-threatening in their free time, since they spend so much of the rest of their time being forced to play a terrifying survival horror MMORPG colloquially known as “The Internet”. Women are the hardest hardcore gamers there are, by miles.

Jon Stone at The Guardian writes, “Gamergate’s vicious right-wing swell means there can be no neutral stance“:

One thing they really do have in common is a desire for positive press coverage. When I wrote a blog post last week examining the permutations of zealotry within Gamergate and the way the movement misunderstands and perverts the language of reason, it was dismissed as one of a number of “biased” articles that only told one side of the story.

But even leaving aside the fact that Gamergate’s “argument” is an irreconcilable mess of trembly fingered accusations, vendettas and uncertain nods to complex problems, the fact remains that there is only one “side” to be discussed, and that is Gamergate itself. As much as it would like to nominate as its opponent a power-axis of leftist games critics, mainstream journalists, developers, activists and academics, this axis doesn’t exist.

Nor do Gamergate’s critics mass beneath any banner, or rally together to punish individual targets the way Gamergate does. The misdemeanours alluded to are many and various because this “other side” is simply people from all walks of life, gamers and non-gamers alike, reacting (or not reacting, as the case may be) to Gamergate.

Chris Kluwe writes at Medium, “Why #Gamergaters Piss Me The F*** Off“:

There’s this herd of people, mainly angsty teenage caucasian men (based on an informal survey of 99 percent of the people who feel the need to defend this nonsense to me on Twitter), who feel that somehow, their identity as “gamers” is being taken away. Like they’re all little Anne Franks, hiding in their basements from the PC Nazis and Social Justice Warrior brigades, desperately protecting the last shreds of “core gaming” in their unironically horrible Liveblog journals filled with patently obvious white privilege and poorly disguised misogyny. “First they came for our Halo 2’s, and I said nothing.”

Gaming is part of who I am, I can promise you that.

Thus, when I see an article titled “Gamers are dead,” referring to the death of the popular trope of a pasty young man in a dimly lit room, it fills me with joy, because it means WE FUCKING WON. So many people are playing games now that they are popular culture. They are not going away. All sorts of cool things, that I like, are now things that a whole bunch of other people like! There’s enough space now for people to make games that are strange and disturbing and maybe highlight a different perspective of the world, because gaming is no longer a niche activity, it’s something that everybody does. There is room for art in video games. That’s awesome!

Brendan Keogh, an Australian game critic wrote at Ungaming:

I was having a conversation with a fairly polite gamergater. They asked me a bunch of questions and I asked if I could reply with a tumblr post instead of a hundred tweets, so this is that post. There was an ongoing conversation before this point, which you should be able to find via the links easily enough.

I find this idea that journos don’t respect the gaming audience or their readership really interesting, and it comes up again and again. But, really, what I see haters saying as ‘not respecting’ their readership is, to me, just journos not pandering to their readership. You don’t have to look far to see sporting outlets condemning abusive fans at sporting events or film outlets condemning the spreading of nude pics by fans of celebrity actors. These writes, along with the games journos who condemn the more toxic elements of gaming’s culture, don’t do this because they don’t respect videogame players. They do it because they do respect them enough not to pander to them. Go back just a decade or so, and all games journalism is nothing but a celebration of how great videogames are. This weird insider “we’re one of you” kind of tone permeates old issues of gaming mags where those non-gamers just don’t you, but we get you, we are you. We’ll tell you what you want to hear about how great and politically incorrect this or that game is.

A storify of tweets about the Escapists coverage of Gamer Gate, “Game Devs on Gamergate“.

Hayley Tsukayama at The Washington Post wrote, “The game industry’s top trade group just spoke out against Gamergate“:

That prompted the the nation’s top trade group for video game companies to speak out Wednesday. “Threats of violence and harassment are wrong,” said a spokesman for the Entertainment Software Association in a statement. “They have to stop. There is no place in the video game community—or our society—for personal attacks and threats.”

It’s a simple statement. But it indicates just how seriously the gaming industry is working to break free of the worst stereotypes of its community. Game culture is, no doubt, changing. The ESA now boasts that women comprise nearly 50 percent of its audience. The push toward mobile gaming, in particular, has expanded the industry’s audience at a faster rate than ever before. The Gamergate controversy has drawn attention to the worst kind of video game player — misogynistic, violent and reactionary.

In other words, exactly the kind of player that the industry no longer wishes to be the face of the industry.

Arthur Chu at The Daily Beast writes, “Of Gamers, Gates, and Disco Demolition: The Roots of Reactionary Rage“:

The biggest 1970s music bonfire was not done by a church, and the records they destroyed weren’t metal records. And they didn’t use kerosene and a match, they used explosives. And rather than singing hymns and being quietly self-righteous, the event erupted into an orgy of violent rage.

I’m talking, of course, about the ill-fated promotion the Chicago White Sox ran on July 12, 1979, known as “Disco Demolition Night.” (Most notably written about by Dr. Gillian Frank in this scholarly retrospective.)

What exactly made so many people—let’s not be coy here, so many young white men—hate disco so much? An aversion to a steady dance backbeat? A dislike of orchestral instrumentation? What?

Did it have nothing to do with the fact that disco icons were frequently black women like Gloria Gaynor and Diana Ross, who sang anthems of empowerment like “I Will Survive” and “I’m Coming Out” and seemed like the polar opposite of the aggressively macho white frontmen rock fans idolized?

Just look at the rhetoric used by angry 1970s rock fans to bash disco. It goes beyond just finding the music unpleasant, it invokes the rhetoric of legitimacy. Disco artists aren’t “real” musicians. They don’t play their instruments live, like rock guitar gods; it’s too “produced,” it’s too “studio,” it’s fake.

Moreover, guys who listen to disco are fake. They dress in expensive leisure suits and hang out at fancy clubs. They don’t get down in the dirt and tear it up like us hard-core, genuine, masculine fans. They’re not real men, and women like them for not being real men, which is unacceptable. The face of the New American Man under the disco reign of terror is John Travolta from Saturday Night Fever. You don’t want your sons growing up like that, do you?

I’m afraid of masculinity, and privilege, of the male sense of “honor” they combine to create, and the incredible reservoir of madness that “honor” can unleash when it’s threatened. Of how incredibly petty the offense can be and how insanely disproportionate the retaliation can be.

Brianna Wu writes at XO Jane, “It Happened To Me”:

They threatened the wrong woman this time. I am the Godzilla of bitches. I have a backbone of pure adamantium, and I’m sick of seeing them abuse my friends.

The misogynists and the bullies and the sadist trolls of patriarchal gaming culture threatened to murder me and rape my corpse, and I did not back down. They tried to target my company’s financial assets and I did not back down. They tried to impersonate me on Twitter in an attempt to professionally discredit me and I did not back down.

The BBC called me “Defiant,” in a caption. I plan to frame and put it on my wall.

My name is Brianna Wu. Ordinarily, I develop videogames with female characters that aren’t girlfriends, bimbos and sidekicks. I am a software engineer, a popular public speaker and an expert in the Unreal engine.

Today, I’m being targeted by a delusional mob called “Gamergate.”

Devin Faraci at Badass Digest writes, “Why GamerGate Already Lost“:

When this news broke something happened: everyone on Twitter blamed GamerGate, the harassment campaign organized under a hashtag and run off the kiddie-porn disseminating website 4chan for being too extreme. While the threatening letter never mentioned GamerGate it was pretty clear that this lunatic was on their wavelength. Despite protestations that GamerGate is about ethics in journalism (we’ll get to why that’s hardcore bullshit), it’s been mostly a force for hounding women, especially Sarkeesian and indie developer Zoe Quinn, with developer Brianna Wu becoming the latest women run out of her home by specific violent threats from GamerGaters.

The Sarkeesian threat name-dropped Marc Lépine, who was the Elliott Rodger of Montreal, murdering 14 women in a self-described battle against feminism – the same enemy that GamerGate says it fights. This is the world of GamerGate, sick, pathetic men who are so threatened by women that they must either murder them or terrorize them into silence.

Related Posts:

All the linkspam forever more (September 2014)

I’ve been busy, and consequently I haven’t been keeping up to date with all my linkspam – though I have been collecting it in copious quantities.  I’m going to group it by type because that appears to make sense to me right now.  Enjoy

Feminism

The Bloggess wrote, “Women Who are Ambivalent about Women Against Women Against Feminism“:

But then I remembered that I’m too lazy to make a tumblr and that this whole thing was a bit ridiculous. Here’s the thing:  Do you think men and women should have equal rights politically, socially and economically?  Then you’re probably a feminist.  There are a million tiny aspects of this to break off into and I get it.  It’s complicated.  There’s not just one type of feminist, just as there’s not just one type of Christian or Muslim, or man or woman.  Hell, there’s not even just one type of shark.  Some are non-threatening and friendly.  Some get sucked up into tornadoes and viciously chew off people’s faces until that guy from 90210 stops the weather with bombs.  (Spoiler alert.)    The point is that sharks, much like feminists, are awesome, and beneficial, and the world would be a worse place without them.  Plus, they’re incredibly entertaining and even if you sometimes think they’re dicks for eating cute seals you still yell “HOLYSHITLOOKATTHAT!” when Shark Week comes on.  I think this is a bad analogy.  Lemme try again.

Lea Grover at Scary Mommy writes, “Darling, We Don’t Play With Our Vulvas At The Table“:

I don’t want them to grow up ashamed of their bodies or confused about what they do. I don’t tell them about cabbage patches or storks, I make an effort, always, to be honest about human reproduction. Every aspect of it.

I’ve had conversations with other moms about having “the talk.” I don’t think my kids and I will have that particular talk, because they already know. And we talk about it often- kids are obsessive creatures. We read Where Did I Come From? and What Makes A Baby which together cover every aspect of the subject. We can talk about IVF and c-sections, because both of those are part of the story of their births, and we can talk about the fact that yes, mommy and daddy still have sex regardless of our plans for conception. And when they’re older, we’ll start talking about contraception.

Because lying to your kids about sex helps nobody. Telling them that sex is “only between mommies and daddies” is a lie that leads to confused, hormone charged teenagers. Telling them that sex is “only something that happens when two people love each other very much” is a lie that causes hormone charged teenagers to confuse “love” with “lust,” or “obsession.” It leads to leaps of logic like, “If I have sex with them, we must be in love.” Or worse- “If I love them, I have to have sex with them.” And how many teenage tragedies are based on that misconception?

Kathleen at Films for Action writes, “10 Female Revolutionaries That You Probably Didn’t Learn About In History class“:

We all know male revolutionaries like Che Guevara, but history often tends to gloss over the contributions of female revolutionaries that have sacrificed their time, efforts, and lives to work towards burgeoning systems and ideologies. Despite misconceptions, there are tons of women that have participated in revolutions throughout history, with many of them playing crucial roles. They may come from different points on the political spectrum, with some armed with weapons and some armed with nothing but a pen, but all fought hard for something that they believed in.

Let’s take a look at 10 of these female revolutionaries from all over the world that you probably won’t ever see plastered across a college student’s T-shirt.

 

Sexism

Lara Hogan writes, “On unsolicited criticism“:

But by the end of the day after my keynote, I was crushed. I had received a ton of praise and positive feedback, too, but I couldn’t hear it. My brain could only retain were these random, surprising, caught-off-guard moments that required me to nod and smile and try to make sense of what these people were saying. After dinner, I nearly broke down; I went to my manager, Seth, and told him what was going on. [1]

Seth turned to a nearby presenter (and fellow coworker) and asked, “Hey Jonathan, did you receive any constructive criticism or feedback after your talk?”

Jonathan said, “What? No. I mean, people said it was good. But not really feedback.” We continued our poll. The male presenters we asked received no unsolicited feedback (other than “that was great!”). Some women I spoke with, however, had received feedback on their tone as well.

I asked Seth, “Wait, are you saying this is gendered?”

Ariel Schwartz writes at Co.EXIST, “How Street Maps Can Be Sexist“:

Straightforward as they may seem, street maps aren’t objective. Shifting borders mean that maps are often political statements. They also can be sexist.

Eddie Pickle, the former CEO of geospatial company Boundless, first started paying close attention to sexism in the mapping community in 2010, while the company was recruiting new hires. Gender disparities in the tech field weren’t just a culture problem, he realized–there was also a problem with the data.

OpenStreetMap is a massive free map of the world, editable by anyone. Companies like Flickr, Foursquare, and Craigslist all use it in their products. But unlike Google Maps, which rigorously chronicles every address, gas station, and shop on the ground, OpenStreetMap’s perspective on the world is skewed by its contributors.

At The Business Spectator, “Gender pay gap worst in 20 years“:

On average, men in full-time work are being paid nearly $15,000 more a year than women, data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows.

For part-time workers, the gender pay gap would be wider because a higher proportion of women in casual jobs.

CommSec economist Savanth Sebastian says the pay gap is linked to large salaries paid in the mining and construction industries, which are traditionally dominated by men.

Junot Diaz is quoted at Hello, Tailor:

If you’re a boy writer, it’s a simple rule: you’ve gotta get used to the fact that you suck at writing women and that the worst women writer can write a better man than the best male writer can write a good woman. And it’s just the minimum. Because the thing about the sort of heteronormative masculine privilege, whether it’s in Santo Domingo, or the United States, is you grow up your entire life being told that women aren’t human beings, and that women have no independent subjectivity. And because you grow up with this, it’s this huge surprise when you go to college and realize that, “Oh, women aren’t people who does my shit and fucks me.”

Alex Brown at TOR.COM wrote, “Guardians of the Galaxy, We Need to Talk“:

It’s hard to be a comics fan if you’re not a straight white man, given that most of the representative iterations of diversity end up as one dimensional tokens, expendable sidekicks, or fridge-able sex objects. DC’s done a pretty terrible job in their comics and movies at creating female, PoC, and/or LGBTQIA characters that aren’t cardboard plot devices used to inspire the male protagonist into heroic action. To be fair, DC gets good marks on television with Arrow (and presumably The Flash), but since the shows won’t crossover into the movies, it’s more or less cancelled out in the grand scheme of things.

Not that Marvel is much better. Comics-wise, Marvel is slowly but surely getting more diverse, but the MCU is a more depressing story. While the MCU has been good at not actively excluding us non straight/white/male fans, they haven’t been very good at including us in the content we’re fanning over. Black Widow, Pepper Potts, Agent Hill, Peggy and Sharon Carter, Rhodey, and Falcon are awesome, but they don’t really get to do anything outside of the white male superhero protagonists. We saw Steve Rogers hang out at a coffee shop while off the clock, but what does Natasha do when she’s not SHIELD-ing? Why only three straight black dudes in the movies (with no romantic interests so as to keep them “non-threatening”)? Why not an Asian, Native American, Middle Eastern, or Hispanic character with a major role? Or a trans person? I like John C. Reilly and Peter Serafinowicz a ton, but why not hire people of color for those roles instead? Why couldn’t Corpsman Dey go home to his husband instead of his wife? Where in the MCU are the rest of us?

Kieran Snyder wrote at Fortune, “The abrasiveness trap: High-achieving men and women are described differently in reviews“:

Not long ago I was talking to an engineering manager who was preparing performance reviews for his team. He had two people he wanted to promote that year, but he was worried that his peers were only going to endorse one of them. “Jessica is really talented,” he said. “But I wish she’d be less abrasive. She comes on too strong.” Her male counterpart? “Steve is an easy case,” he went on. “Smart and great to work with. He needs to learn to be a little more patient, but who doesn’t?”

I don’t know whether Jessica got her promotion, but the exchange got me wondering how often this perception of female abrasiveness undermines women’s careers in technology.

Gamer Gate and sexism in gaming

Jonathan McIntosh wrote at Polygon, “Playing with privilege: the invisible benefits of gaming while male“:

One particularly astounding theme I’ve noticed running through online discussions surrounding these incidents has been a consistent denial that there is any real problem with the way women are treated in gaming. Despite the abundance of evidence, I’ve seen many of my fellow male gamers, in comment thread after comment thread, dismiss the issue as “no big deal” and insist that everyone is essentially treated the same.

The fact that a great number of women have been speaking out about how they experience prejudice, alienation or worse on a fairly regular basis seems to hold little weight.

David Auerbach at Slate wrote, “Letter to a Young Male Gamer“:

I realize that you don’t have a problem with women per se. Think of Kim Swift, the awesome game designer who was project lead for the legendary Portal, or think of Halo engine programmer Corrinne Yu. You realize, I know, that your life would be better with more women like them in gaming. Swift herself has written about how rough women have it in the industry, so keep in mind that targeting Quinn will drive away the next Kim Swift. That’s not a trade you want to make. Publicity and cronyism are ephemeral. Good games are forever.

Posts that I found interesting (otherwise unclassified)

Jenna at Cold Antler Farm wrote, “An Open Letter To Angry Vegetarians“:

I recently received your note, the one that accused me of being a murderer. I understand why you are angry and I applaud your compassion. I understand because I was a vegetarian for nearly a decade, the same breed as yourself actually. Meaning; I chose the diet because of a love for animals, passion for conservation, and concern for our diminishing global resources. Avoiding meat seemed to be a kinder, gentler, and more ecological choice. I supported PETA. I had ads in Vegan magazines for my design website. I am no longer a vegetarian and do raise animals on my small farm for the table, but we have more in common than you may realize.

It would be foolish for me to try and change your mind about eating animals, and I have no interest in doing so. The vegetarian diet is a fine diet. We live in a time of great abundance and luxury, and that means choices! Never before in the history of the human animal have so many options for feeding ourselves been presented like they are now. If you want to eat a gluten-free, dairyless, low cholestoral, and mid-range protein diet based on whey extracted from antibiotic free Jersey Cows-  you can. Your great grandparents could not. There was no almond milk at the Piggly Wiggly and ration cards kinda ruined that conga line. But now there is so much food and your diet is as much a personal a choice as your religion and sexual activity, possibly even more personal. So understand I am not writing you this open letter because you don’t eat meat. I’m writing you this letter because you called me a murderer.

Conscious Capitalism: Can Empathy Change the World?:

Conscious Capitalism, Inc. started as an organization in August, 2006, and focuses principally on enterprise and the recognition that every business has a purpose beyond the firm.

“Rather than seeing business as a tube [money in, money out],” says Klein, “we look at business as an ecosystem of interdependent interrelated stakeholders. For stakeholder management, the business has to produce profits over time, but that doesn’t mean that’s its sole purpose. For the business to be sustainable, flourish, and be resilient, it needs to focus on the whole rather than its parts.”

Klein points out that corporations have often purposefully served the societies in which they flourish. Companies like Avon and Johnson & Johnson  articulated their primary purpose in their original charters, which was not about making money, but serving their stakeholders. The robber barons also recognized that making money and giving portions of it back was an important part of business (Carnegie built libraries, Rockefeller created museums).

Paul Ford at Medium wrote, “How to Be Polite“:

Here’s a polite person’s trick, one that has never failed me. I will share it with you because I like and respect you, and it is clear to me that you’ll know how to apply it wisely: When you are at a party and are thrust into conversation with someone, see how long you can hold off before talking about what they do for a living. And when that painful lull arrives, be the master of it. I have come to revel in that agonizing first pause, because I know that I can push a conversation through. Just ask the other person what they do, and right after they tell you, say: “Wow. That sounds hard.”

Pope Alexander writes at Jezebel, “What Steven Moffat Doesn’t Understand About Grief, And Why It’s Killing Doctor Who“:

Then Moffat, of course, took over the show as show runner. And once again, people just seem to keep… not dying. Part of the problem is that Moffat’s a big fan of the Giant Reset Button — so much so that he literally wrote in a Giant Reset Button into the episode Journey to the Center of the TARDIS. One step above the “It was all a dream” plot, the Giant Reset Button absolves the characters and the writers of any repercussions and they can carry on as they were, even though we, the audience, saw a “major event” that is evidently no longer relevant. You can have your fun and adventure, but you need not learn or grow or change from it.

Race and Racism

For Harriet writes, “7 Black Women Science Fiction Writers Everyone Should Know“:

Though Black women’s literature spans every genre imaginable, the visibility of Black women in speculative fiction is often low. These women create work that not only speaks to their experiences but imagines new worlds and possibilities. Their stories take us on journeys. And while though the work may offer temporary moments of escape, when we return we’re better able to interpret our own place in the world.  If you’re interested in taking the trip, you’ll want to check out these Black women science fiction writers.

Beth Neate writes at ABC Open, “Peggy Patrick AM: A Queen Among Men“:

Whenever Peggy Patrick’s name is spoken, be it by Indigenous or non-Indigenous Australians, she receives a special reverence. Peggy Patrick is a woman of singular magnitude.

A prodigious singer, dancer, artist and storyteller, Peggy has performed throughout Australia. Frances Kofod, a linguist who has worked in the East Kimberley since 1971, is collaborating with Peggy on a bilingual autobiography. She believes that Peggy’s repertoire of Kimberley song cycles is unparalleled and that her cultural knowledge is akin to an encyclopedia.

Richard Parkin writes at SBS, “Enough fear mongering, let’s give Lakemba a fair go“:

While great credit should go to Mr Blair for having the courage and bravery to survive a full twenty-four hours in this anti-Anglo hot-bed, would it be nit-picking to suggest that a lot of what he wrote was wrong?

Let’s just presume that Mr Blair, the person subbing his column, and his editor all had justifiable reasons for shying away from the actual evidence that didn’t fit the story they were peddling – like the fact that one in two people in Lakemba aren’t Muslims; that one in four are Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Buddhists, Hindus or Anglicans; and that three in four people are proficient in English.

Why let facts – gleaned from made-up sources like the Australian Bureau of Statistics – get in the way, if they don’t suit your narrative of fear?

After Senator Lambie’s attacks on Sharia, the ABC posted, “What is sharia law?“:

Jamila Hussain, an Islamic law expert from Sydney’s University of Technology, said sharia was “a way of life for most Muslims”.

“It’s first of all religious duties – things like prayer and fasting, and also, importantly, paying money to charity and supporting the poor and looking after the weak and the vulnerable,” she said.

“It’s also everyday transactions. It guides Muslims in their way of life, teaches them to dress modestly, treat other people decently, be ethical in their business dealings.

“It also includes all those things we would normally call law – things like contract law, commercial law, family law, finance and banking law.

“And of course there is the criminal law element, though in most countries Islamic criminal law is not in practice. It is in places like Saudi Arabia and Pakistan where it’s very conservative, but not in most countries.”

“That the sharia obliges Muslims to comply with the laws of their country of residence is premised on the Koranic dicta demanding fulfilling “obligations” and “covenants,” as in the imperatives “You who believe, fulfil your obligations” and “Honour your pledges: you will be questioned about your pledges,” he said.

“Muslim jurists, therefore, understood that the ultimate authority in any country belongs to the government.”

Randa Morris writes, “Scary White People? White People Responsible For Five Out Of Every Six White Murders“:

Five out of six white people murdered in the United States are killed by a white person. That’s according to the most recent FBI crime data report, which provides demographic information of the race of victims and offenders, for all known murders that occurred in the US, in 2012. There were 3,128 white murder victims that year. Out of all of those murder victims, less than 500 were killed by minorities. The other 2,628 were killed by other white people.

We often hear about black on black killings, and we know that the rate of black people who are killed by other black people in the US is far too high. What we don’t often hear about is the shocking number of white people who are killed by other white people. But when you look at the statistics in light of the most recent US population data, you find that the rate of white on white homicide is entirely out of line with the racial makeup of the country as a whole.

Disability

Cara Liebowitz at That Crazy Crippled Chick writes, “The Trouble With Ableist Metaphors“:

But I was struck recently when, in the course of emails back and forth about inspiration porn and ableism, a colleague used the metaphor “I was blind and now I see.”  I’m sure he had the best of intentions and didn’t even stop to consider the ableist nature of the metaphor – but that’s sort of the point.  Ableism is so incredibly deeply ingrained in our culture that people use ableist language – yes, even people who should know better, I fully admit that I probably invoke these metaphors far more often that I should – without a second thought every day.  I’m not sure that happens with any other form of oppression (feel free to correct me if I’m wrong).

But wait!  I should stop being so literal, shouldn’t I?  After all, it’s just an expression!  No one actually means them!  Which is all well and good, but as my dear friend K says often, intent is not magic.  But the problem comes when we take both the literal and metaphorical definitions and step back to critically analyze what we mean when we say such things.

LGBTI Issues

Lisa L. Spangenberg wrote a very badly titled post at Boing Boing, “Misleading on Marriage: how gay marriage opponents twist history to suit their agenda“:

As someone in a same-sex relationship, I followed arguments for and against the overturn of DOMA with some interest. As a medievalist, my attention was particularly caught by arguments against DOMA on Twitter and elsewhere that asserted that Christianity and history unilaterally agreed that marriage means one woman and one man and coitus. This simply isn’t historically accurate even within the context of Christianity and European history.

Let me take you on a millennia-long walk down the aisle. The modern notion of marriage is connected with the historical, traditional model that those opposed to marriage equality like to cite, but it’s not nearly as clean a connection as parties on either side of the same-sex marriage divide would like to claim. It is in fact, varied, changeable, and chaotic.

Stavvers writes, “I am cis“:

But wait! Those who deliberately refuse to understand the word “cis” cry. Surely I cannot be cis if I do these things, because I’m subverting gender roles.

Nope.

Ashley C Ford writes at Buzzfeed, “30 Bisexual Women Discuss Their Long-Term Relationships With Men“:

3. “It’s like coming out all over again.”

“I have avoided telling my queer friends that I am in a relationship with a man. It’s like coming out all over again and I’ve experienced resistance against it. It feels like you are mistrusted, that people think you have actively chosen to take the route of most privilege without considering the ways in which you are now held at the margins by the community you most identify with. I am new to this relationship and still trying to navigate how to move through both worlds. Sometimes it means passing depending on the context because it’s hard to play the role of educator and/or be on the defense all the time. Even with friends, I’ve faced microaggressions in the form of jokes: ‘How does straightness feel?’”

M.A.Melby writes at Trans Advocate, “Quit attacking your allies!“:

I have seen various version of this phrase. “Quit attacking your allies!” – many, many times.  I’ve only been involved heavily in trans activism for about two years.  How and why I’ve become as invested as I am is a long story; but at the end of the day, I am a woman who was assigned female at birth.  I am cis.  So, it’s odd that this statement has been directed at me, but it often has.  It’s also something that I will never say.

The reason that I am pledging never to say, “Quit attacking your allies!” is because it’s not a sincere defense or tactical criticism.  It’s a threat.  The implication is simply: If you criticize me, if you are angry with me, if you say anything that makes me uncomfortable, I will withdraw my support from your cause.  In addition, the majority of the time, this phrase is not used by anyone actually involved in activism.  There is no support to withdraw.  Instead, there is power and privilege that can be put into play.  I’ve come to understand that “Quit attacking your allies!” is often code for: Respect my social status as being above you. Be quiet or there will be consequences.

Who are these “allies” that must not be attacked? Who must be placated? Who are these people being misunderstood or subject to undo scrutiny?

Prejudice at Pride

At TransGriot, “Black Trans History: Lucy Hicks Anderson“:

Lucy Hicks Anderson was born in 1886 in Waddy as Tobias Lawson.   When Lawson entered school she insisted on wearing dresses to school and began calling herself Lucy.  Since the transgender definition hadn’t been coined at that time to diagnose what was going on in her life, her mother took her to a physician who advised her to raise young Lucy as a girl.

Lucy left school at age fifteen to begin doing domestic work and left Kentucky in her twenties to move west.   She settled in Pecos, TX and began working at a hotel for a decade until she married Clarence Hicks in 1920 in Silver City, NM and moved west with him to Oxnard, California.  She divorced him in 1929.

The News Minute reports, “Padmini Prakash, India’s first transgender TV news anchor urges parents to be more receptive of their transgender children“:

She is India’s first Transgender TV anchor – Meet Padmini Prakash, a 34 year-old transgender based in Coimbatore who has broken the stigma faced by this section of society and has become the face of Lotus TV news channel in Coimbatore.

To parents in general she had a strong message: “Parents, when they come to know that their children are transgenders they should accept them for who they are. They should not isolate them. Parents should accept them and society should accept them”

Pete Smith at The Guardian writes, “Jaiyah Saelua: if I experience transphobia I just tackle harder“:

The nation’s size is reflected in their football record. Seventeen years, 30 defeats and 229 goals conceded – including that infamous world record defeat against Australia in 2001 – were American Samoa’s bare statistics since making their international debut. However, Saelua worked her way into the starting side after a lengthy apprenticeship, and helped her team achieve a World Cup win over Tonga.

The result, and Saelua’s story, has received global recognition thanks to Next Goal Wins, a film that has been released globally over the past few months, having screened at the recent Sydney Film Festival to positive reviews and large audiences.

Travelling extensively to promote the film, Saelua now finds herself somewhat unwittingly cast as a role-model and spokesperson for transgender sportspeople. It is, however, a role she is happy to fill.

Dameyon Bonson writes at Star Observer, “Reconciliation and decolonisation in suicide prevention“:

QUITE tragically, as you are reading these first few words there is a high probability somebody will attempt to end their life by suicide. There is even a higher probability that that somebody is part of the LGBTI community, particularly if they are at the point of self-realisation and disclosure. If that person is an Indigenous Australian, the probability amplifies yet again.

How do I know this? Because that’s what the evidence suggests. LGBTI people are said to have the highest rates of self-harm and suicide of any population in Australia. Same-sex attracted Australians are said to exhibit up to 14-times-higher rates of suicide attempts than their heterosexual peers. Yet, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, there were 996 suicides reported across Australia between 2001 and 2010 among Indigenous peoples. We are told that 1.6 per cent of all Australians die by suicide but for Indigenous peoples, this rate is more than 4.2 per cent, or one in every 24.

As mentioned, the evidence only suggests this because we are coalescing the data from two different groups and hypothesising the math. In other words we aren’t really sure.

 Repro Justice

John H Richardson writes at Esquire, “The Abortion Ministry of Dr. Willie Parker“:

After medical school, he bought a big house and a nice car and overstuffed his refrigerator the way people from poverty do, but those satisfactions soon seemed empty. He dated but never quite settled down. Inspired by Gandhi’s idea that the Gospel should appear to a hungry man in the form of bread, he went to work in a food pantry. But gradually, the steady stream of women with reproductive issues in his practice focused his mind. He thought about his mother and sisters and the grandmother who died in childbirth and began to read widely in the literature of civil rights and feminism. Eventually he came across the concept of “reproductive justice,” developed by black feminists who argued that the best way to raise women out of poverty is to give them control of their reproductive decisions. Finally, he had his “come to Jesus” moment and the bell rang. This would be his civil-rights struggle. He would serve women in their darkest moment of need. “The protesters say they’re opposed to abortion because they’re Christian,” Parker says. “It’s hard for them to accept that I do abortions because I’m a Christian.” He gave up obstetrics to become a full-time abortionist on the day, five years ago, that George Tiller was murdered in church.

Violence (trigger warning for all posts in this section – likely to contain stories of violence, transphobia, biphobia, homophobia, sexism, harassment, etc)

Stavvers writes, “Is stalking feminist praxis these days?“:

But ultimately, the fault here isn’t mine. There’s things I can do to tighten security, and I’ll do those things. The real problem here is TERfs. This is not feminism, it’s being a fucking creep. These people are a danger. This is why I have a hair trigger on my block button for them and anyone who pals around with them: it’s proved it to me. You never know when one could be passing on information.

I write this post as a reminder: a reminder that this isn’t some sort of intellectual parlour game. The safety of women is at stake here. I’m fine and I’m alive, but what I want to come from this is an increased level of awareness. I want this post to be read. I want people to know that the TERfs literally stalk women. And I know that me being cis means more people are likely to care.

Isn’t that just the most fucked-up thing?

Janelle Asselin at bitchmedia writes, “How Big of a Problem is Harassment at Comic Conventions? Very Big.“:

As 130,000 people head to San Diego Comic-Con (SDCC) this week, it’s important to recognize that while harassment can occur in comic shops and elsewhere, the bulk of complaints regarding gender harassment in comics happen at conventions. Yet SDCC has failed to put an emphasis on their harassment policy by not publicly posting signs about harassment or having a clear and well-publicized reporting process for incidents.

As a comics editor, writer, and fan myself, I got interested in how often people at conventions experience harassment. So earlier this year I conducted a survey on sexual harassment in comics, receiving 3,600 responses from people that varied from fans to professionals. The survey was distributed and conducted online, with people sharing it via Twitter, Facebook, and especially Tumblr and self-reporting all information. Of the people taking the survey, 55 percent of respondents were female, 39 percent were male, and six percent were non-binary (see the raw survey data here).

Helen Davidson at The Guardian writes, “Violence against women a national emergency, say Our Watch campaigners“:

A comprehensive national initiative is focusing on distorted ideas of gender equality as part of plans to tackle the “national emergency” of violence against women and children.

Our Watch was established by the commonwealth and Victorian governments last year, and on Friday revealed its strategy to achieve a complete rejection of domestic and family violence within 20 years.

Margaret C. Hardy at The Coversation writes, “We need to talk about the sexual abuse of scientists“:

The life sciences have come under fire recently with a study published in PLOS ONE that investigated the level of sexual harassment and sexual assault of trainees in academic fieldwork environments.

The study found 71% of women and 41% of men respondents experienced sexual harassment, while 26% of women and 6% of men reported experiencing sexual assault. The research team also found that within the hierarchy of academic field sites surveyed, the majority of incidents were perpetrated by peers and supervisors.

 

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The Linkspam of midwinter (July 2014)

And this winter, which has finally arrived in Melbourne, have a lovely collection of links for your pleasure.

Don Weise at Huffpost Gay Voices writes, “When I Call Myself Bisexual“:

As part of the new edition of Bi Any Other Name, the classic anthology of bisexual writings that Loraine Hutchins and Lani Ka’ahumanu edited almost 25 years ago, there’s a new introduction that looks at where we were around bisexuality when the book was first published in 1991 and where we stand today. For me, their editor, one of the more surprising statistics they cite is the fact that no national LGBT organization has an openly bisexual board member. Finding this difficult to believe, I said, “Surely the Human Rights Campaign or Lambda Legal has bisexual board members.” Not one openly bisexual board member, they told me. Yes, there was a bisexual woman they knew of on a national board, but she chose not to come out as such. As much as we know that the closet is a sad place, and while I personally frown on closeted gay people in most instances, I could relate to not wanting to disclose all of who you are, sexually speaking, when you’re already dealing with the ongoing, daily hassles around just being gay. Who wants to add another layer to one’s outsider status, especially within one’s own community? In fact, I found it completely understandable that someone would serve on the board of a national LGBT organization and remain closeted about their bisexuality, because I did it myself.

Vivian shares on their tumblr, “Ten Things You Didnt Know (and Didn’t Care To Know) About Being Bisexual“:

  1. Bisexual men are 50 percent more likely to live in poverty than gay men
  2. Bisexual women are more than twice as likely to live in poverty as lesbians
  3. Bisexual men and women are at least one-third less likely to disclose their sexual identity to their doctors than gays or lesbians

Anne Thériault at The Toast writes, “Fairy Tales Are Women’s Tales“:

Fairy tales are women’s tales. This has been said before, in words cleverer and more articulate than my own, but still, it bears repeating: fairy tales are women’s tales. They’re bent-backed crones’ tales, sly gossips’ tales, work-worn mothers’ tales and old wives’ tales. They’re stories shared, repeated and elaborated on over mindless women’s work like spinning or mending or shucking corn. These stories are the voices of those who were, within a social and cultural context, so often voiceless; they’re women’s whispered desires and fears, neatly wrapped up in fantastical narratives filled with sex, violence and humour. Fairy tales speak of the things that women most hoped for – a prince, a castle, a happy ending – and those that they were most afraid of – that their children would be taken from them, that men would hurt them or take advantage of them, that their family wouldn’t be provided for.

Georgia White at The Toast writes, “The Wife of Bath, Misandrist Prophetess“:

The premise of the Canterbury Tales, for those unfamiliar, is that of a party of pilgrims travelling together to visit the shrine of Thomas Becket; to pass the time, they are to tell each other two tales on the journey there and two on the journey back. Chaucer never got close to finishing four tales for each pilgrim, but the ones he completed vary wildly in tone and subject matter, from traditional verse romances to several bawdy sketches of provincial life known as fabliaux to a beast fable concerning a rooster and a fox. Each tale is accompanied by a Prologue—usually brief—that introduces the pilgrim relating it and establishes some of their personal traits and beliefs. The Wife of Bath’s Prologue, however, is very long, and much more interesting for our purposes than her Tale is.  Without invitation she charges straight into a lengthy homily, bolstered by explicit personal detail, on marriage, gender relations and women’s self-governance.

Sarah Kendzior writes, “On being a thing“:

I write articles that have resonated with millions of people, often in an emotional way. But I never write about myself or my personal life. I have multiple platforms and if I wanted to, I could. I choose not to – in part because I think focusing on myself distracts from the social and political problems I depict, but also because I value my privacy.

I am like this in “real life” too. I have been described as aloof, but I try to be generous and kind. I take care of my family and my community. I don’t care about fame, which is much more of a curse than a gift. I reject most media interviews. My priorities are my loved ones and my work. Yesterday I was reading Charlotte’s Web to my daughter: the story of “a true friend and a good writer”. That is all I aim to be. If I had the choice, this is how I would be remembered.

Jacob Tobia at Huffpost Gay Voices writes, “Why I’m Genderqueer, Professional and Unafraid“:

But one question loomed above all others as I started my job last week: what should I wear to work?

In many ways, it’s a concern everyone faces. On the first day, everyone wants to get their outfit just right. The morning before a new job, most of us spend an extra ten, twenty or thirty minutes making sure that our hair is properly coiffed, our deodorant is both effective and unobtrusive and our outfit is on point.

But for transgender and gender non-conforming people like myself, the question of what to wear to work becomes an exhausting question of identity and of survival. For us, the question changes from “how do I present my best self at work?” to “can I present my best self at work?”

Chelsea Manning writes at The New York Times, “The Fog Machine of War“:

However, the concerns that motivated me have not been resolved. As Iraq erupts in civil war and America again contemplates intervention, that unfinished business should give new urgency to the question of how the United States military controlled the media coverage of its long involvement there and in Afghanistan. I believe that the current limits on press freedom and excessive government secrecy make it impossible for Americans to grasp fully what is happening in the wars we finance.

Elias J. writes at feminspire, “A Letter to “Activist” Dan Savage, Who Continues to Bully My Trans Sibling“:

Let’s talk a bit about reclaiming words. It is a common belief in activist circles that you can only reclaim slurs if they affect you. If you’re not black, you cannot reclaim the n-word; if you’re not a gay man, you cannot reclaim the f-word; if you’re not a woman, you cannot reclaim the b-word; and if you are not a trans woman, you cannot reclaim the t-word.

Megan Amram writes, “HAPPY FATHER’S DAY, MOM“:

I honor my mother on Father’s Day because, when my twin brother and I were four months old, my father left my family. Or in Internet parlance, “unfollowed” us. You might be thinking that that sounds like a despicable thing for a father to do, but remember – I made very bad small talk at that age! I mooched off dad’s money, and my resume was lacking in all marketable skills. My brother refused to split the check when we went out to dinner! Ever! It was quite a hostile environment for a grown man. So he went splitsies (I think that’s the legal term??). He went AWOL. Oh, excuse me, typo: “A-HOLE.” He went a-hole. While he was vaguely in and out of our lives as small children, I haven’t spoken to him in almost fifteen years now. I mostly regret that I don’t know what he thought of Avatar!

I’m not interested in disparaging my father. One, because then there’d be nothing to explore in my future one-woman show “My mother’s Jewish, my father’s Jewish, and I’m Jewish! And HUNGRY! FOR DADDY’S HUGS…AND KNISHES!” (running off-off-Broadway in a meat locker in Detroit). But two, because I truly don’t feel any emotional wounds. It is not enough to say that my mom was the best mom anyone could’ve asked for. She was a superwoman. A champion. An Übermensch (German for “female Uber driver.”)

Isaac Z Schlueter writes, “LB_T“:

He said, “That movie was kind of boring.”

I was shocked, and then I realized he was talking about the plot.

“Well… I didn’t really pay attention to the plot, tbh.  That movie’s just lots of Brad Pitt being gorgeous and half-naked.”

“You’re not as straight as you think you are.”

“Yeah, like you’re not attracted to guys sometimes.”

“Nope.”

“Not ever?”

“Not ever.”

“Not even Brad Pitt?”

“Not even a little.  You’re bi, dude.”

“Huh.”

Angrily Internetting wrote a twitter rant she then put on storify, “Message to Monosexuals (And Every Person Who Speaks to Me)

Pamela Clark writes at xo Jane, “35 Practical Steps Men Can Take To Support Feminism“:

His comments have prompted me to create a list of more practical tools. Most men — particularly men who benefit from multiple forms of structural privilege — do many things in their daily lives that directly or indirectly contribute to a culture of gender inequality. Even men who support feminism in theory can be not great at applying feminism in their everyday practices.

This list entails suggestions for some practical tools all men can apply in their day-to-day lives to foster equality in their relationships with women, and to contribute to a culture where women feel less burdened, unsafe, and disrespected.

Rejected Princesses

Natasha Vargas-Cooper at Out writes, “Soccer’s Fa’afafine Superstar“:

During her summer break back home in American Samoa, Saelua gave soccer one more shot and rejoined the national team. For the first time, she made first string, becoming the first transgender player to compete in a FIFA World Cup qualifying game. The president of FIFA, Joseph Blatter, sent her a personal letter of congratulations.

Rongen also did something no coach had ever done before.  “He was the first coach to call me Jayiah on the field, and not Johnny,” Saelua says. Rongen also installed Saelua as the team’s center back. “Can you imagine that in England or Spain?” Rongen asked reporters before the first match. “I’ve really got a female starting at center back.” Though the team did not qualify for the World Cup, they won their first competitive match, beating Tonga 2-1 and breaking a 30-game losing streak.

Clementine Ford writes at Daily Life, “The two most complained about TV ads of 2014“:

Once upon a time, before women rose up and began to suffocate men with all their female privilege, the unsanitary topic of women’s leaky bodies was handled in exactly the way it should be – through mysterious whispers, myth-building and strangely hypnotic euphemisms. It was necessary that we do so, because everybody knows that women’s body holes double as portals to the realm of demons and even speaking of them might cause one to activate and suck a little part of earth into the netherworld.

So before evil witch-women gathered under full moons to cast spells from their devil teats which gave them total command of humanity’s most powerful institutions, we shrouded such things in secrecy, knowing full well the danger that would be wrought from speaking the names out loud. Moonblood. The Curse. Menstruation.

Leigh Alexander writes, “But WHAT CAN BE DONE: Dos and Don’ts To Combat Online Sexism“:

You may notice that a lot of things happen to do with sexism on the internet. Sometimes someone has done a sexist thing and people are talking about it. Sometimes someone has written an article about the time they experienced sexism and other people are having feelings about it.  Sometimes a particular woman or women is being harassed on Twitter and you are witnessing it.

As you know, sexism is bad, and when bad things happen, you might have feelings about it too. But how can you help? What should be done? Here is a guide:

Evette Dionne at Bustle writes, “What It’s Like To Have HPV: How The Vaccine Failed To Protect Me As a Black Woman“:

It’s upsetting to me that Gardasil leaves many black women without adequate protection against HPV and cervical cancer. Conflating the healthcare needs of white women with those of black women keeps us from accessing adequate treatment in multiple areas, and this especially troubling when it comes to HPV. Had there been funding for a vaccine specifically designed for my black, female body, a shot that protects my body as well as it does white women, I might very well be HPV-free today.

Andrea Smith writes, “Beyond the Pros and Cons of Trigger Warnings: Collectivizing Healing“:

There is a continuing debate about the politics and efficacy of trigger warnings within activist, social media and academic spaces. There are merits to the various arguments on all sides of this discussion. However, sometimes what is missed is the larger context from which trigger warnings emerged. In particular, this intervention emerged from the recognition by many of us in the anti-violence movement that we were building a movement that continued to structurally marginalize survivors by privatizing healing. We had built movements that were supposed to be led by bad-ass organizers who were “healed” and thus had their acts together. If we in fact did not have our act together, this was an indication that we had not healed sufficiently to be part of the movement. We built movements around an idealized image of who were supposed to be rather than the people we actually were. The result was that we created a gendered and capitalist split in how we organized. Healing was relegated to the “private” sphere and became unacknowledged labor that we had to do on our own with a therapist or a few friends. Once we were healed, then we were allowed to enter the public sphere of organizing. Of course, since we continued to have problems, we continued to destroy our own organizing efforts internally with no space to even talk about what was going on.

Ben Pobjie writes at The Roar, “Ian Thorpe’s coming out is not about us“:

The sense of entitlement was palpable: it was clear there was a widespread belief that Thorpe ‘owed’ us something, and was chucking in the towel before settling this debt.

It was as if the man was our property, and by deciding that after many years of single-mindedly pushing his body to the very limits of physical possibility, he had somehow stolen himself from us.

It was as if, having dedicated his entire adult life – and a hefty slab of his pre-adult life – to the obsessive pursuit of the black line at the bottom of a pool, he had thereby forfeited the right to do anything else.

 

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Stereotype threat in the workplace

This is a slightly edited copy of a blog post I wrote at work.  We’re encouraged to blog about stuff, so I decided to blog about work related feminism – because why not.

I first learnt about stereotype threat a couple of years ago while reading the book Delusions of Gender: How Our Minds, Society, and Neurosexism Create Difference by Cordelia Fine, an Associate Professor at Melbourne Business School, Australia, and a Senior Research Fellow at the Department of Psychological Sciences at the University of Melbourne, Australia.  Dr Fine explained stereotype threat in an interview following the release of her book as follows:

When we’re trying to do something that’s traditionally regarded as being the specialty of the other sex – for example, maths or understanding another person’s thoughts and feelings – we do so under the cloud of ‘stereotype threat’. Gender stereotypes are primed in our mind, and this interferes with our ability and interest in the task. There’s a growing body of fascinating research into this phenomenon, trying to unravel how and why it happens. But what I find most striking are the studies that show what happen when you blow the cloud of stereotype threat away. You can do this, for example, simply by telling women that on the maths test they’re about to take, women do just as well as men. And when you do, women perform significantly better than you’d expect from their course or test scores. As Catherine Good and her colleagues have put it, dispersing stereotype threat unleashes mathematical potential in women that is usually suppressed.

In another interview Dr Fine added that stereotype threat:

… refers to the difficulty for people who belong to a group stereotypically seen as being not very good at a particular thing they’re trying to do. For a woman doing a math test, she has an acquired stereotype threat that if you do badly, people are going to judge you because you’re a woman and that you’re going to confirm what everyone already “knew,” that women are bad at math. It creates a whole host of harmful psychological effects in people’s minds. And psychologists have discovered if you make gender seem not relevant to a task, then men and women perform equally well. Right now, when it comes to women in traditional male domains, it’s like a track star running into a headwind — their performance is impeded.

Caryn J. Block, Sandy M. Koch, Benjamin E. Liberman, Tarani J. Merriweather, and Loriann Roberson published an academic paper, “Contending With Stereotype Threat at Work: A Model of Long-Term Responses“, looking at the long-term impact of stereotype threat in the workplace.  Block et al (2011, pg 573) state:

Thus, when an individual encounters a situation where there is a negative stereotype about his or her group, that individual will experience heightened arousal, resulting in fewer cognitive resources available for performing the task. These cognitive resources are tied up in self-regulatory thoughts such as task-related worry and negative thoughts about one’s own performance. This can result in a cycle of lowered performance and lowered expectations for performance in this domain.

Block et al (2011) are concerned that the longer someone experiences stereotype threat, the greater the impact on their self-esteem, and the more likely they are to feel “discouraged and depressed if they are unable to meet their goals” (pg 578-579).  Stereotype threat can lead to individuals feeling that they have to prove that they are not like the stereotype and work at disassociating themselves from their social identity group, which may be a short-term fix, but not one that can be sustained long-term without negative effects (Block et al 2011).

Block et al (2011) do suggest that there are ways to combat stereotype threat in the workplace that will help individuals with combating the negative effects of it.  Two of the main strategies focus on building resilience and finding positive ways to identify with your group (pg 584):

Collective Action Another strategy used in resilience is seeking to change the context so that it is more inclusive for those who share one’s identity through collective action (Roberts, 2005). There are many contextual factors that create the conditions for stereotype threat, such as skewed demographics and a pressure to assimilate to the dominant culture or buy into workplace norms (Steele et al., 2002). When individuals realize that they are not alone in contending against negative stereotypes, they may choose to join with others in an effort to change the context. These group-level strategies consist of engaging in collective action and social change for the betterment of the group’s welfare. Many large corporations have employee network and affinity groups that provide social support, developmental opportunities, and advocacy for women, people of color, and LGBT employees. The National Science Foundation’s ADVANCE program for the advancement of women in science and engineering careers has a national agenda that serves to change the context for women scientists by increasing representation and retention of women in science, fostering an environment that will result in leadership among women and shifting institutional cultural norms that are more inclusive.

Redefining criteria for success. A further strategy used in response to stereotype threat when resilient is to redefine one’s own criteria for success at work. This involves establishing what success means on one’s own terms, not based on others’ standards for evaluation or upward progression (Steele et al., 2002). It incorporates shifting priorities to what one values and choosing to acknowledge that as a standard by which to measure success.

The good news for my workplace is that they support and actively encourage employee network groups such as Women in Technology and an LGBTI network.  They promotes diversity as a positive attribute within the company, recognising that a diverse company that is as diverse as the population base it operates in, is an overall positive and that supporting employees to feel that they belong and are valued results in higher productivity and loyalty. Their support of employee network and affinity groups reduces overall stereotype threat for those employees who are affected by it.  The other programs that my employer has in place, such as supporting women in senior technical and people manager positions also significantly reduces the effects of stereotype threat.

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