Tag Archives: Language

A matter of respect

Dear Colleague and everyone else that does this,

I have a small request.  If I ask you to not refer to me by a particular name, then don’t.  I don’t care if you think it’s funny or cute or sounds interesting, if I ask you to stop using it in relation to me, just do.  To not do so, indicates that you don’t respect my wishes and think that your fun, desires, whatever are more important than mine.

I know that it can seem trivial, but there are lots of good reasons why people don’t want to be known by particular names or labels, or want to be known by particular names and labels and it is not your place to judge their desires, and ignoring them suggests that your desire to label them or to call them something is far more important, regardless of the reasons why they don’t want you to.

It is not your place to judge the validity of the reasons why someone refuses a label or name.  It should be enough that I can say, “Do not call me X”, without also having to provide a reason behind that.  And if I do provide a reason, listen to that reason and respect it, no matter how irrelevant you find it.  Because it matters to me, if you respect me then it should matter to you.

Yes, my reasons for not liking the name “Becky” may seem trivial, but I hate that name being applied to me and have threatened violence upon people who have called me that name,  unknowingly or otherwise.  So when I ask you to not use that name, just don’t.  Because when you do, I know that you really don’t respect my wishes about how I want to be known.

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29th Down Under Feminists Carnival

Down Under Feminists Carnival Logo
Down Under Feminists Carnival Logo

Welcome to the 29th Down Under Feminists Carnival.  Thank you everyone for your submissions which I have organised as much as I can.  I hope you enjoy reading these posts as much as I did, and that you continue to submit posts to an awesome carnival.  Thank you so much to Chally, of Zero at the Bone and FWD/Forward and Radical Readers and Feministe for organising this carnival and letting me host it.

Thank you to Chally, Jo, Mary and Deborah for hunting down and finding most of the great posts to include this month.  Thank you to everyone else who submitted their or other’s writings.

If I have used incorrect pronouns to identify any of the participants please let me know so that I can correct them.  Any misuse is unintentional and due solely to me being unfamiliar with the author of the post.

If I have misrepresented/badly summarised your post, please let me know and I’ll correct it.

So, this carnival is big and full of fascinating reading.  I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed putting it all together.

This month’s optional theme was Awesome Women.

So, put your feet up, down, sideways or however you feel comfortable and enjoy.

Awesome Women

Ilaeria blogged about the three people who have had the biggest impact in her life, her mother and two grandmothers and share the lessons she learnt from them.

tigtog writes about Bell Hooks week at Hoydon About Town.  Deborah at In a Strange Land, during one of her Friday Womanist posts quotes Bell Hooks.

Deborah from In a Strange Land blogged about the anniversary of Sufferage for Women in New Zealand (17 September 1893) and the hard work that was put into gaining signatures for the petition that helped make is possible.

Mary at Hoydon About Town has been awesome and has developed a Firefox bookmarklet to make submitting blog carnival posts easier.  Please go and install so it is much easier to submit posts for the next carnival.

Media and society

Wildly Parenthetical at Hoydon About Town talks about Sexting and Slut Shaming and how bad the Minister for Home Affairs’s new campaign is for young women.

I spoke about Rampant Sexism in an edition of the MX where it suggested the women were different than men, that women should earn less than men for the sake of their heterosexual relationships and that women can steal men and that men can do nothing about it.

the news with nipples shreds an opinion piece in the SMH by Paul Sheehan.

Pickled Think writes about media and societal pressure on men to propose regardless of what their girlfriends may feel about marriage because it seems that their feelings aren’t important (all girls want to marry right?), and Pickled Think also discusses the patriarchal institution of marriage and the lack of the “big gay proposal”.  (The last line on the first comment is also gold).

Blue Milk demonstrates a little lesson in undermining women in power with thanks to the Courier Mail.

Blue Milk reviews Radical Act, a documentary about queer/feminist musicians in the USA, made in 1995

Ju at transcendancing has written a review of Glitter Rose, a short story collection by an Australian author doing interesting and challenging things with female characters.  The collection is published by a press that is also doing interesting and challenging things with a feminist focus in publishing.

Kim writes at Larvatus Prodeo about feeling sympathy for Stephen Conroy and the ongoing debate about the internet filter being more complex than liberties or the rights of adults.

Mary at Hoydon About Town wrote about #groggate and the outing of Grog Gamut’s legal name by The Australian.  The scary thing about The Australian’s justification is that they’re arguing for the outing of anyone who attempts to influence politics (or anything else) regardless of the wish for anonymity.

There are many ways that the less powerful are silenced, and conflating having something to hide or keep private with being not worth listening to is one of them, and insisting on identity disclosure is another. Not all pseudonymous writers are using pseudonyms to ethical ends, this is abundantly clear to anyone who has ever been on the Internet. But insisting that only those who name themselves and state their interest to everyone who lives in the country can speak is far worse.

Ariane at Ariane’s little world, adds to the discussion regarding #groggate by explaining that a person is not their job.

Image by Judy Horacek. Three panel cartoon of a Christmas decoration on a Christmas tree. The first panel reads, "I'm not a feminist but", the second "just hanging round being decorative is a bit boring", the third has the decoration walking away from the tree saying, "Actually I really am a feminist"

Bodies and health

Ariane calls bullshit on obesity being the root of all evil and society’s with  focus on fatness as a health issue.  Ariane also points out the negative health consequences of dieting.

Maia at The Hand Mirror discusses the politics of food and how our diet (what we eat) has changed, how food manufacturers want to make a profit from food and the impact that has.  Maia also posts a thread about why she hates The Body Shop and how conflating health and moral good or health and beauty are wrongMaia also posted a great 101 post on food and “healthy food” and how that is a misnomer.

Split Milk talks about why she doesn’t want to engage in discussions about dieting and how important fat acceptance places are.

Many fat activists also identify as feminists and in my opinion the most important tenet that those two movements have in common is a core belief in bodily autonomy. Advocating for fat acceptance is about asking for freedom from oppression and prejudicial treatment.

Spilt Milk also guest posted at Feministe about Fat acceptance: when kindness is activism where she discusses how acceptance of your body and kindness to yourself are activism.

Mimbles at Mim’s muddle writes about being fat and visible and includes links to posts that she’s found (some of which are in this carnival).

Michelle at The Red Pill Survival Guide writes about being fat and how societal sanctioned abuse of fat people is harmful.

You know what? Fuck you. You’re not me. You’re not that other person. You don’t know the circumstances surrounding why someone is the way they are unless they tell you. Yes, we all make superficial judgements but does that give you the right to be abusive or phobic? No.

Fat Heffalump shared her paper that she presented for the Australian Fat Studies conference this month.  She shares the effect that the “war on obesity” has had on her and most likely has had on others.

Sam at fat dialogue writes about her experience with Control Top Underpants and how important making people uncomfortable is as a really powerful critical and political intervention.

Julie at the Hand Mirror writes about Thin Privilege and how it isn’t all that great.

The Thin versus Not Thin dichotomy is yet another false division that just sets women against each other.  We need to fight, together, against a culture which judges us on our physical appearance, whether that appearance is one that conforms or not.

Steph writes at LadyNews that although Christina Hendricks is great, and the media acceptance of her not typically represented body type is also great, having her body shape/type as one to aspire to is not a good thing.

Pickled Think shreds an article discussing a new sitcom hopefully not coming to a screen near you, and how fat really isn’t coming back to Hollywood.

Health and disability

Jo at Wallaby writes about Accessibility and Sydney’s public transport, focusing on Sydney’s buses.

Michelle at The Red Pill Survive Guide (*trigger warning – discussion of suicide*) writes about World Suicide Prevention Day on 10 September, and talks about how she understands that level of despair.

Chally at Zero at the bone, writes about taking a sickie and how hard it is for people with disabilities to take a “sickie” for legitimate reasons let alone “bludging”.

Helen at FlyingBlogspot.com talks about her ordinary and what she does to manage day to day.  Helen also discusses how her ordinary may change with a review of her medication and trying some new treatment.

Race and Racism

Hexpletive blogged about the NSW Parliament amending the NSW State Constitution to finally recognise indigenous Australians as the first people in the State.

I wrote a piece about Boat People and how it should not be an issue.

Queen Emily at An Army of Rabbits discusses the concept of whiteness and the difference between white in Australia and white in the USA.

Jo at Wallaby writes a post about an anti-violence march asking some very pertinent questions for you to answer before you read Blue Milk’s post below.

Blue Milk writes about the march in Alice Springs by Aboriginal men to “stop the violence” and the lack of media coverage about positive Aboriginal stories.

Steph at 天高皇企鹅远 writes about japan ken and barbie, how they’re in Japanese inspired clothing and not actually Japanese, leading to the fetishisation and exotification of non Western cultures.

Chally wrote at Feministe about one of her favourite bit of cognitive dissonance.

stargazer at The Hand Mirror wrote about how collective responsibility is not productive, and states that, “i still don’t accept that i have any responsibility to apologise for the actions of someone i’ve never met and have absolutely no chance of influencing.”

the news with nipples writes Another burqa blog post and reluctantly gives Sergio Redegalli some of her time while she discusses how wrong his latest “art” work is.  Then asks why the debate about burquas is still being controlled by people who do not wear burqas.

LGBTIQ

Blue Milk talks about how Stephanie Rice’s apology to queer people was not adequate and points out all the flaws in that apology very nicely.

Steph at 天高皇企鹅远 went to WorldCon and discusses her experiences with two panels, one on queer themes in SF, which she had to walk out of and the other chaired by a trans academic which was a far more positive experience.

PharaohKatt at Distinctly Disgruntled (*trigger warning – discussion of suicide*) deconstructs Bob Katter’s comments regarding the apparently non-existent LBGTIQ population in his electorate, the high rate of suicide of LBGTIQ people and Bob Katter’s comments about suicide on a Q&A segment.

Fire Fly at The Long Way Home writes about Queer Femmes of Colour and their multiple burdens of authenticity.

I think the dynamic is deeply conditioned by internalised queerphobia. Specifically, internalisation of the double standard that there’s a threshold of queerness that someone has to prove in order to be ‘really’ queer (when there’s no such threshold for heterosexuality).

Intersectionality

Maia at The Hand Mirror discusses a proposed bill in New Zealand which would re-criminalise street sex workers and how the relevant political parties have voted.

It is specifically targeting street sex workers. Street sex workers do not generally have $2,000 to pay a fine. The fines, when they’re awarded, won’t have the magic power to stop someone being poor and working as a sex worker, it’ll just make them poorer. It won’t make street sex work disappear, it’ll just make it harder, more dangerous, and more marginalised.

Steph at vegan about town discusses how veganism, race and ethnicity intersect and how calling for China to be “wiped from the face of the earth” for the way they treat animals is hypocritical when every country mistreats animals.

Maia at The Hand Mirror also discusses how there is a connection between problems the way food is discussed and the problems with way food is produced and looks at this under a feminist framework.

Shiny writes about how she is all out of cookies and isn’t going to give them to people who meet basic human standards of decency.

Callistra writes about safety and safe spaces, what they can be and how they are created.

Safety and feelings of safe spaces are also a place of sanctuary. It’s an intimately known quality, where so much discussion has already occured that the system can meet your needs. It means when you’re miserable and need company to listen to, you have friends who can answer that need. Or if you’re miserable and need to talk; you know you can have these needs met. It means if you need to sit quietly and absorb group energy, you can do so without worrying what others might think, say or do. I noticed this as being ‘a place where you can exist without struggle of identity’.

Callistra also writes about what connections are and how they contribute to safe spaces.

Writing at The Hand Mirror, anjum writes about women in minority cultures, who as feminists want to criticise and change the culture, but who fear that it will only give ammunition to haters in the majority culture.

steph writes at vegan about town regarding exclusionary language in the vegan and animal rights movement in Australia and how veganism and the animal rights movement are often seen as white/Anglo-Saxon, middle-class movements.

Life

A Touch of the Crazy shares her recent life experiences, reflections and the importance of getting lost when travelling.

Pickled Think writes about surviving the Christchurch earthquake and how she feels right now.

Blue Milk writes about breastfeeding and how she felt when she first started and how she feels about it now.

Hexpletive writes about the 9th World Indigenous Women and Wellness Conference she attended and presented at in Darwin and then goes on to discuss the other Conferences and Conventions that she is interested in for the remainder of the year.  I’m going to have to look some of these up.

Spilt Milk shares an experience of encountering penis graffiti with her young daughter and recounts Helen Barne’s Young Adult novel ‘Killing Aurora’, in which the protagonist draws vagina dentata graffiti in response to penis graffiti.

Spilt Milk wrote about her childhood comforter and how that was taken away from her, and now how the childcare centre her daughter goes to wants to take away her daughter’s teddy bear.

Queen Emily writes at An Army of Rabbits, two (related) things that never happened to her in Australia, specifically the assumption that she’d been to church followed by an exhortation to keep god in her heart.

General Feminism

Chally wrote about how social justice can also be about staying silent and doing what is right for you versus the wider world (this post could fit under most categories, and I struggled to find the best fit).

Wallaby writes about how prioritising and choosing your energy drain is important for your wellness, and your choices in this regard should be admired, fostered and encouraged.

tigtog clearly states for the record why banning commenters and refusing comment publication is not censorship as blogs are privately owned spaces.

Women of Colour Australia has put a transcript up of their speech at NOWSA 2010.

the news with nipples writes about the petition put together by Plan Australia to make September 22 the International Day of the Girl.  You can sign the petition here.

Natalie at definatalie.com writes about her feral leghair and why she’s going to grow it.  She includes a great discussion about The Gruen Transfer and their discussion about redefining femininity based on advertising.

steph discusses at LadyNews the current Jadelle (a contraceptive implant) furore in the media.  steph advocates choice and education for women, which some of the quotes in the article also supported.

Megan at Craft is the New Black writes about the need for the ‘generations’ of feminism to recognise and celebrate each other’s worth.

In a post to mark Women’s Suffrage Day in New Zealand, Ele at Home Paddock writes of the need for us to exercise our hard won right to vote in the upcoming local body elections.

Violence

*Trigger warnings – posts in this section discuss violence against women*

The Dawn Chorus discusses Street Harassment and how when reporting it or writing down what has been said, the tone of what was said is missing which is one of the reasons why street harassment is often belittled or dismissed.

Blue Milk explains that asking is sexy and that without consent it isn’t sex and the comments are great too.

I don’t know why the idea has persisted that asking for consent is necessarily a clinical business – what is stilted about – more? do you want to? do you like? Because “mood-killer”? Are you kidding me? That moment when they close the space between you both and ask you to put your cards on the table – is this on or not, can I do this with you – is one of the most heart-flippingly exciting moments in all of existence.

Jo at Wallaby wrote about the treatment received by two women who had been sexually assaulted in different legal systems and how much those legal systems differed.

XY writes about why he won’t be walking in Reclaim the Night/Take Back the Night march and provides and excellent resource (if you need one) to explain to some men why they are not always welcome to march.

stargazer at The Hand Mirror writes about the governmental response to the task force for action on sexual violence and sadly how this seems to have been missed by the media.

AnneE at The Hand Mirror takes some relevant material from a paper on people who abuse their partners.

blue milk at Hoydon About Town writes about the strange behaviour of the state and society when a mother whose daughter was victim of incest is upset and protective of her daughter when pornography is displayed at a 7-11.

And isn’t it a strange world where police can be called in to protect your right to display pornography? So unquestioning are we about it that the newspaper article actually describes what unfolded as a “bizarre incident”. It is the same strange world where it is estimated that up to one in four girls will be sexually abused during their childhood.

Both Deborah from In a Strange Land and I wrote about Brendan Black and his opinion piece in Fairfax media on breastfeeding and breasts.  Unfortunately he fails terribly at being a feminist ally when he could have done very well.

Jo at Wallaby suggests that men should not go out alone otherwise they might, “be accused of, and/or commit, indecent assault, sexual assault, rape or other sexual violence.”

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Problematic Words: Bitch

This is the first in which may or may not turn out to be a series on words I have issues with.  I am aware of and support efforts in reclaiming language used against marginalised groups and bodies.  I support people’s identities and the words they use in describing themselves.  This is a post about words that others use and how they are used by others.

Ok, so bitch… lets break it down a little.  Initially the word was used to describe a female dog or female canine.  Dogs are lower life-forms (traditionally) than people and are belongings.  So to refer to a woman or another person as a bitch is a dehumanising exercise, they are now a lower life-form (not human) and are a belonging, whether yours (my bitch) or someone else’s (their bitch).

Its also used in a sex negative context as well, referring to women (and only women) as being like a “bitch in heat”, which suggests that women are uncontrollable when they want sex, much like female dogs.

Bitch is also used to describe certain types of behaviour, such as bitchiness and bitchy.  Typically this refers to back-stabbing, gossiping and other unpleasant behaviour.  Descriptions of this behaviour is also given to gay men, which suggests that gay men are acting like unpleasant women.

If you are “someone’s bitch” then typically this means that you are their belonging.  So if I refer to X as “my bitch” then they’re mine, dehumanised and property.  Not such a good way to describe someone.  However, I do understand, and do refer to my physical belongings, as bitch from time to time.  If something slips out of my hands and I’m frustrated, I’ll say, “Argh! You bitch”, but I’m actually referring to inanimate objects here. And because I don’t like to dehumanise people I’m not going to call someone a bitch.

The Harpies, refer to women sometimes just having to “Be A Bitch”, usually to men, when boundaries are overstepped and there is a need to be assertive or opinionated because the other is not paying attention to your subtext, body language or even polite words about going away.  They’ve written about such things here and here and elsewhere on their site.  I am all behind assertive behaviour and sometimes just having to be rude if that’s what it takes for you to be safe, happy or unharassed, but I still have issues with calling it “Being A Bitch” because I don’t think that that word should be used to describe a set of allegedly unpleasant behaviours which are clearly just being assertive or opinionated as you see fit.

But I’ve been thinking about men’s fear of women’s anger and power and the word “bitch.”

Bitch, bitching, etc.:  these are thrown at women all the time, for any minor “infraction,” from asking for parity in pay or pleasure to daring to stand up for yourself.  I have no doubt that those who use it mean to silence and intimidate women.  (From The Pursuit of Harpyness)

I’m all for telling people to “shut the fuck up” or to “fuck off” when they harass me on the street, on the internet or anywhere else.  If someone calls me a bitch for knowing my boundaries, knowing what makes me feel safe or for turning them down, then that’s their problem and not mine. I’m not going to go home and be upset about it overly, but I don’t think I’ll personally ever reclaim the word “bitch”.  I can be assertive, just like men are allowed to be, and that doesn’t make me a bitch.  I can be opinionated, just like men are allowed to be, and that doesn’t make me a bitch.

I think the word “bitch” is usually pulled out when women act in ways that we’re “not supposed to”.  We’re supposed to be submissive and easy to target.  We’re supposed to be soft, gentle and unassuming… and quite frankly all of that can fuck off.

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