I’m a member of the committee of Bisexual Alliance Victoria (Vice President since you asked), and am one of the founding members of that group. We participated in our first (as Bisexual Alliance Victoria) Pride March in early February 2011, and unsurprisingly (to me at least) we received negative feedback from the crowd, “Make a decision”, “Get off the fence”, “Make up your mind”, “No such thing”, etc.
I expected these comments, which really sucks at a queer event, because every time I’ve marched since 2007 as a bisexual, I’ve heard them. Some of our members were really upset by the negativity, and so as a committee we decided to write a media release indicating that we were disappointed with the negativity and that we were working with Pride March Victoria to march prominently and be involved in tackling further biphobia. At the same time, two of our members wrote an article which was published in the Star Observer. This article has also attracted biphobic comments – neatly proving our point.
So I wrote a comment in response to the biphobic comments, which I’ve captured below in the very unlikely event that it doesn’t get through moderation. I started with the lyrics from The Whitlam’s song I will not go Quietly (Duffy’s Song), which I think neatly captures the fight that bisexuals go through constantly at the moment (hopefully less so each year.
One final thing before I get to my comment. The San Francisco Human Rights Commission has put together a paper on biphobia titled, “Bisexual Invisibility: Impacts and Recommendations” which is an eye opening read into the effects of bisexual invisibility and biphobia.
Ok, my comment:
“I will not go quietly
I will not accept your rules
gonna live with myself
before I live with any of you”
(I Will Not Go Quietly (Duffy’s Song) – The Whitlams)
I identify as bisexual and have now for 20 years – I’ve never thought I was straight or gay – always bisexual. Yet at the Pride Marches I have been in, when marching with the bisexual community (since 2007), I have been booed, told to decide, told to get off the fence, and had my sexual identity derided.
Let me be very clear here – this is a queer event (Pride March) and so is attended by a large number of gay and lesbian Melburnians. At this queer event, I have had my sexual identity called into question and made fun of.
I’m made of relatively strong stuff, and so laugh at bigots who tell me that I’m being dishonest when identifying as a bisexual, but there are bisexuals who aren’t made of teflon coated kevlar like me – and do you think that it is fair to tell them that they’re wrong with their own identifiers? Do you think it’s ok for you to identify someone else on their behalf without any consultation?
I wish it wasn’t the case that the way SOME gay and lesbian people treat bisexuals mirrors quite closely the persecution that gay and lesbians fought against for years. I wish it were actually true that those who don’t believe that bisexuality exists actually spent some time listening to bisexuals about their lived experience and let us decide whether we exist or not.
We’re not a danger to you. We don’t dilute your movement. Like any group of individuals in any community, there are always arsehats, but no one should take them as representative – just as broader society is learning not to take gay or lesbian or women arsehats as representative of an entire group.
Doctor John Dickson wrote today for The Drum, an article titled “Time for some nuance between the gay and the god-fearing“, which is an attempt to justify continued Christian Homophobia with the old, “hate the sin but love the sinner” approach (the comment section of the article – with the exception of a couple of bigots is really good).
Contemporary minds are fixed to think of only two possible camps on the gay issue. Either you are pro-homosexual and therefore open-minded, kind and respectful, or else you are a mean-spirited, homophobic bigot. You are either for me or against me. No space is given to a third group, much larger than the current discourse allows, made up of people who sincerely want an end to discrimination and who show nothing but care and respect toward gay friends but whose deeply held convictions prevent them from endorsing same-sex practice.
Perhaps in the tradition of ‘an eye for an eye’ the church deserves some purgatorial derision. No one could deny that professed Christians have used very condescending and spiteful language toward gay people (and, shamefully, sometimes even resorted to violence). But tit-for-tat won’t help us in the long run. The biblical perspective on sex – that all sexual intimacy outside heterosexual monogamy is contrary to the Creator’s good intentions – is not going anywhere; and nor are our gay neighbours. This realization alone demands that we work out together how to have a respectful, nuanced public conversation.
In particular, we have to ask whether holding a moral view is in itself hateful. Obviously, strong moral codes, whether religious or secular, can promote hateful speech and behaviour, but are the codes inherently hateful? Specifically, I want to ask David Marr: Do you not believe it is possible to profoundly disagree with someone’s lifestyle and sincerely care for them all the same? I am not offering a defence of Christian teaching on homosexuality (which may, of course, be wrong); I am simply affirming that believers ought to be able to hold their view thoughtfully and respectfully without being considered ‘bigots’ and ‘homophobes’.
But there is a third way, based on a different logic. We ought to be able to love even those with whom we profoundly disagree. It must be possible for Christians to question the moral status of sexual intimacy outside heterosexual monogamy while demonstrating respect and care for neighbours who are neither heterosexual nor monogamous. True open-mindedness is not merely accepting as true and valid someone else’s viewpoint; it is the more difficult and noble commitment to honouring people whose viewpoints you reject.
I dispute that the “third group” as mentioned by Dr Dickson is “much larger” as he suggests. I also dispute that the “hate the sin but love the sinner” is anything other than homophobic bigotry. If you show “care and respect” towards your LBTIQG family and friends, but not unconditional love, then you’re not following the commandments of Jesus, that man you claim to be a follower of.
As I have loved you, so you must love one another. John 13:34 (NIV)
If you want to have a “respectful, nuanced and public conversation” with the LBGTIQ community, then there are some things you need to do first. I’d first suggest a public apology, much like the ones the 100 Revs who march in Mardi Gras have given time and time again to the GLBTIQ community. I’d also suggest you LISTEN to the grievances the GLBTIQ community has with Christianity and actively ensure that the BLQTIG community feels heard. Then, before any public conversation takes place, you should go away to a quiet place and learn about Jewish and Christian theology (no, I don’t know what your doctorate is in, and nor do I care), and how that has changed as needs arose over the centuries – things like the outlawing of slavery, increase of status (to human no less) of non-white people, the equality of women, the lack of death penalty for disobeying parents, the creation of rape as a crime against the rapist (and not the victim), tattoos becoming socially acceptable, blaming Jews for the death of Jesus, the abolition of limbo, etc.
If Christianity can change all these things, that are in the bible, then it can change its views on BTQGLI too. Christianity is well known for picking and choosing which bits of the New and Old Testaments remain valid (women are allowed to speak in places of worship now – something that Paul suggested was a really bad idea), so why not shed the homophobia and accept that difference makes the world a far more interesting place to be in, and that what two (or more) people do in their bedroom is actually NONE OF YOUR FUCKING BUSINESS.
Is holding a moral view hateful? That depends on the moral view. If that moral view suggests that a group should be marginalised, stigmatised, and treated negatively for an attribute they possess, then yes, that moral view is hateful. And what you are suggesting Dr Dickson is the continuation (with sanction) of a hateful moral view because you find the LBGTIQ community threatening to your world view.
Calling being gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans, or queer (not so much intersex in this statement) a “lifestyle” is INCREDIBLY INSULTING. A “lifestyle” is something you choose. You choose to eat X food, you choose to undertake Y activities, these are “lifestyle” choices. Being BGLTIQ are not “lifestyle” choices they are innate qualities. To reduce them to a choice is to deny lived experience of these people and science (something which some Christians are quite happy to deny anyway).
Let me state again if it isn’t already abundantly clear – to consider that someone who is GLBQIT is sinful in anyway is bigoted and homophobic. To judge someone else goes against what is taught by Jesus, the man you claim to follow:
1 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
3 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. (Matthew 7:1-5)
So stop it. Stop right now and never ever let me catch you doing it again. I agree that you can love someone you disagree with, even when you disagree with them strongly. I disagree with my parents about various things, but still love them, I disagree with friends, partners and others and can still love them. Disagreeing is completely different to TELLING SOMEONE THAT THEY ARE WRONG. Let me put that another way:
DISAGREEING WITH SOMEONE IS COMPLETELY DIFFERENT TO TELLING SOMEONE THAT THEY ARE ALL WRONG – THAT EVERY LAST BIT OF THEM IS INHERENTLY WRONG.
It is not possible for Christians to be involved in anyone’s sexual practices – that is rude, invasive, immoral and seriously how could you write that sentence and let it be published?
The final statement I copied and pasted into this post is so full of problems that I’m going to unpack it separately. On the surface it sounds reasonable, but when you begin to think about it, it’s all really wrong.
True open-mindedness is not merely accepting as true and valid someone else’s viewpoint; it is the more difficult and noble commitment to honouring people whose viewpoints you reject.
First Dr Dickson attempts to define “open-mindedness” as “accepting as true and valid someone else’s viewpoint” (which is all good – but something he’s not subscribing to), but then also as “honouring people whose viewpoints you reject”. He also claims that this is a more difficult and noble commitment… something which I completely reject. It’s impossible and potentially dangerous. I reject the views of racist/homophobic/transphobic/biphobic/sexist/etc bigots and there is NO WAY that I am going to honour them for their views, in fact I’m going to condemn them for their views, for those views are harmful to people.
A true Christian, a Christian that follows the teaching of Jesus would love unconditionally, not judge others for any perceived or imagined transgressions, turn the other cheek if someone insults them, and lives in accordance with the commandments stated by Jesus. I can’t imagine that Jesus would, if he came back today, condemn any LGBQIT person – afterall, if you believe that we are all god’s creatures, then why would god create gay people except for them to be loved, to love, and seek happiness and fulfillment on earth?
And let’s consider another thing, as a Christian Dr Dickson, and everyone who is Christian and agrees with him, are an incredibly privileged group whining about how a less privileged group is pointing out that the privileged group has treated them badly. He deeply wants to hold onto the power imbalance that currently exists and is attempting to use his religious privilege to do so. “But my faith told me so” is not a defence. It’s time to let go and move with the times.
[Quick title clarification – I’m referring to female bisexuality versus male sexuality in this article]
For the longest time, I knew I was bisexual and I did nothing about that. I had lots of relationships with men, and was happy for the most part, but avoided getting close to women because they were scary. I felt I didn’t understand women, that they were complicated, immune to me bossing them about (like I do with men), capricious, generally untrustworthy, and willing to shame me for transgressions against an idea of femininity that I didn’t understand or match. Most of this, of course, was borne out by my personal experiences with the women I went to high school with, who on the whole were really horrible towards me, mostly because I didn’t fit in as a geek, tom boy, and someone who wasn’t born in the town (Bendigo is an incredibly insular town). I think I might have gotten over particular subsets of women being horrible to me if it had been confined solely to school and hadn’t continued on the workplace, with several female coworkers and a few female managers acting in the same way.
I slowly cultivated female friends who didn’t play games, were trustworthy, and built me up, but it took a long time, and a lot of hard work on my behalf. There were a few women I was interested in, but each time I came to the conclusion that those particular were not safe for me, that they’d attempt to manipulate me, shame me, be capricious, or betray my trust – either through things they’d say or the way they’d act in relation to me or other people.
For the longest time, women were far too scary to be in relationships with. I developed a method of testing the waters (with everyone, not just women) to see if people were safe. I stopped having secrets (well mostly – there are some things that I tell very few people), and I started telling everyone everything that they wanted to hear. You want to know how I manage three relationships at once, sure, you want to know how much I earn, sure, you want to know my sleep arrangements, sure. I decided that if I didn’t have any secrets then it’d be a lot harder for others to attempt to shame me or manipulate me with information because it was all out in the open. It then became a case of who judged me or acted poorly towards me (or others).
I say all this because I know that I am not a lone bisexual woman who is or has struggled with all the societal messages that we’re fed about women, and as a result struggle to approach women for fear of back stabbing, shaming or something else. I’ve met, and am friends with, many bisexual women who are confused about what we’re told about other women, and don’t know where to start in relation to approaching other women.
I cannot actually offer much advice, sadly. There are many women out there that I am incredibly cautious of. I’ve slowly gathered a close knit group of female friends (mostly also queer) who have demonstrated their trustworthiness, their awesomeness, and I am incredibly blessed to be their friends. I would never have met my female partner had it not been for my husband talking me up to her and her up to me (he is lovely too), and us being wonderfully compatible.
Does anyone have any good ideas on how to get this to work apart from patience, courage and good judgement?
I thought, now that I’d spent a shift at Sexpo and the organising and grumping about the whole thing is over, that I’d write a list of the good and bad things about Sexpo, because there are some really fantastic things about Sexpo that a lot of people don’t realise under all the sleaze and heteronormality.
Let’s start with all the positive stuff first. This will be a little long because there is one really great thing that needs to be pointed out, with a whole lot of background.
The ACCSEX Coalition. With the permission of the activists at Sexpo, I’m going to reproduce their brochure below so everyone knows what Accsex is. The thing I love about Accsex is that it makes Sexpo a safe (ish) place for disabled people to be, to discuss their needs with vendors of sex toys, and to be sexual beings enjoying what is going on. The fact that the activists are also people with disabilities really brings the message home to people.
The ACCSEX Coalition
We are a network of people who aim to assist consenting adults with disabilities to access their choice of sex, friendships, sex education, intimate relationships and the adult industry.
We recognise those social attitudes and structures around disability and sexuality interfere with the fulfilment of this aim.
We therefore see changing community attitudes and influencing social institutions as a major priority.
We believe that dominant attitudes need to be challenged, the foremost belief that people with disabilities are asexual, unattractive and unsuitable social and sexual partners.
Issues being looked at now
Physical and financial access
Research and Sexuality Education
Legal and ethical issues & discrimination
How you can be involved
Contribute to our information sharing – we want to know about research, education and social support activities
Help us to identify key issues that we as a group can help to address through our work
“Sexuality is often the source of our deepest oppression; it is also often the source of our deepest pain” [Finger, 1992: 9]
You may benefit from being a member of Accsex if:
You are a person with a disability and you want to meet people and work with other to create change;
you are a parent with a disability;
you are a partner/parent/carer of a person with a disability;
you provide services to people with disabilities;
your organisation is interested in service improvement;
you are an advocate, or from an advocacy organisation; and/or
you are a researcher or educator interested in sexuality and disability.
The social institutions that we wish to influence are:
Governments, so that they can fund initiatives and support legislative changes that facilitate the sexual choices of consenting adults with disabilities;
The Media, who nearly always represent people with disabilities using two dominant stereotypes. We are portrayed as either the tragic but brave “Supercrip” who triumphs over adversity, or as the pathetic and passive victim, the object of pity. We are never seen as consenting adults.
Attendant care agencies, so that they can train their staff and shape culture and policies that facilitate the sexual choices of consenting adults with disabilities
Providers of commercial sexual services and the adult entertainment and retail industries, so they can make their venues, goods and services accessible, affordable and inclusive of consenting adults with disabilities.
If you are interested in becoming a member of the ACCSEX Coalition, come to our meetings and/or link up with our E-group listing.
I’ve left off the names and personal contact details provided by ACCSEX because I don’t want them to be spammed to death by bots. If you are interested in finding out more about them, I’d start with the yahoo group listed above.
The bodies. The beauty in seeing people of all sizes attend an event that is mostly about sex. The fact that there were people of all sizes buying sex toys, lifestyle products, and generally being sexual beings. This also includes the fact that there are several clothing (corsetry, bustiers, underwear, lingerie, etc) vendors who are selling clothing in what is termed “plus sizes”.
The costumes. There are a huge number of people that dress up to go to Sexpo in all sorts of clothes. Makes people watching at my stall lots of fun.
The event is quite queer friendly. I organised the Bisexual Alliance stall – the volunteering, decorations, rosters, etc (James did the paperwork with the Sexpo organisers). Although some people almost cause themselves whiplash when they read our sign and then immediately turn away. Talking to other vendors, they’re very supportive of our presence and happy to engage. Those who approach, wherever they are on the LGBTIQ spectrum, they’re happy that we are a queer presence at Sexpo. Generally I have experienced or witnessed very little homophobia/biphobia or at Sexpo.
There are bits of overwhelming sleaze. Some vendors (a very small minority) are very sleazy and make me feel really uncomfortable. Some of the products being sold are somewhat ick to me.
The co-option of queer women’s sexuality for the male gaze
How bored the (female) pole dancers are if you actually look at them
The fact that the event is quite heteronormative
The music is too loud to hold conversations with others at times
The airbrushed [and thin and white] women on posters/brochures advertising various products or services
Overall, it is a very positive thing for our community stall to be present. We’re a queer presence in a straight assuming event, and welcomed by many. Organising the event is tedious, and spending time there can be boring sometimes, but generally it’s good to be out, proud and active.
Clearly the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) has not been feeling the love recently, so they decided to come out punching today and publicly declared (covered in The Age at least) that they were against Labour’s plans to fund a “gay rights advisory body”. Before I delve too deep into the ACL, I want to cover a little bit about who they are and what they want to achieve. From their website (link not provided deliberately):
The vision of the ACL is to see Christian principles and ethics accepted and influencing the way we are governed, do business and relate to each other as a community.
There is no sense in this vision of our wishing to see Australia a theocracy, but merely wanting to reestablish the rightful influence of those who believe in our Christian heritage.
Wow, I could spend this entire post and the remainder of time before I go to bed for my well deserved night’s sleep deconstructing that “About” page, but I’ll save that for another time (note to self – make sure you do that eventually).
So, the ACL… focused on Christian principles, not surprising, but want them to influence government, business and interpersonal relationships, not as a theocracy… no, no, no… but to “reestablish the rightful influence of those who believe in our Christian heritage” (emphasis mine). Doesn’t that sound scary. Those who do not believe in the Christian heritage of Australia (and I think the Aboriginal nations might have something to say about that), should not have influence, so no influence (or less) for Muslims, Buddhists, Atheists, Hindus, the Christians that aren’t affiliated with the ACL, etc.
Anway… back to the article at hand now that I’ve provided a quick background on the ACL, though as things are relevant, I’ll probably dive in and out of their website to find useful factoids.
Sadly, the ACL is an incredibly vocal lobby group with very little transparency. There is no clear record available (that I could find with a quick search) as to who funds them, how many members they have, which Christian Churches they work with/through. Their board is a massive sausage fest, but that’s hardly surprising given it’s a Conservative Christian business. They do come out and state that they are a “political lobby representing individual Christians and is neither denominationally nor politically aligned”, which means that they act on stuff that they are specifically interested in, versus what the Bible recommends, or what Churches want, or potentially even what their probably rather small (“Consistently maintained a growth rate of 50% annually in membership over its first three years as a national organisation” – much easier with smaller numbers) membership desires. Though as I believe that only Conservative Christians would join this group (an en-masse sign up of everyone else would be funny), they probably are interested in what the ACL pushes.
But again, back to the article:
THE Labor Party’s plan to fund a gay rights advisory body is a disgraceful act and shows that the government is pandering to a small minority, says the Australian Christian Lobby.
Because listening to minority groups and ensuring their full participation in society is such a bad thing (and yes, we suck at racial minority groups, listening to them and helping them fully participate in society for the most part). I do love how ACL completely ignores societal support for increased rights for the LBGTIQ members of society and family support that many TIQLBG have, who would also want the rights of their family members recognised.
”Most people treat abortion as a done deal [but] for us and for many Christians it is still a very topical issue and where candidates sit on that is very important,” Mr Ward said. [ACL chief executive]
Citation needed Mr Ward. How many Christians is this an issue for? Why is it an issue? Which Churches? Are the views of your Board (5 white men) actually relevant here? What about for people who aren’t Christian? Why does your belief system get to walk all over theirs? (That last statement is going to be a recurring theme here).
He said it was a ”disgraceful act of undemocratic process” by Labor to fund a government advisory committee that would advise cabinet on issues affecting the gay community.
”What Labor has done has identified a small minority, a very vocal minority with one issue, their issue: gay rights, and they have said ‘we will cater to your needs’,” he said.
Yes, because 10% of the population is a “small minority”, much like the ACL which would appear to be even a smaller minority, and the ACL is also “a very vocal minority”. I’m beginning to see parallels. So, Mr Ward and the ACL, are you going to stop now and go away like you’d like the BLGTIQ community to?
And stop with conflating all the issues that the QITLBG community has into a broad, brush stroke, pithy phrase. Because the GLBITQ community has many issues that we’d like addressed and yes, they do relate back to human rights, that is true, that doesn’t make them any less valid than anyone else’s rights though. I’m actually rather pleased that the Labour Party has committed to having a BLGTIQ advisory body. It means that the issues that my fellow queer and trans* have may actually be addressed, such as bullying and suicide of queer and trans* teens, appropriate medical access for trans*, recognition of relationships, no discrimination on the basis of gender identity or presentation, hate crime legislation strengthened, and gender mutilation of intersex babies ceasing. See, these issues are pity and can easily be summed into two words that are meaningless on their own.
”If they have got money to throw around, why don’t they throw it at child protection? Why aren’t they setting up a group too that will defend freedom for religion?”
Because Mr Ward, child protection and freedom of religion are already legislated. Most of the rights I’ve listed above, and other issues faced by the LBIQTG community are not. See, that really is very simple. And since when did YOUR religion need protecting. Christianity isprivileged and has far more status in society than any other religion.
Mr Ward said more than 100,000 people used the Australian Christian Lobby’s site during the 2010 federal election.
And this is the most telling about the small size of the ACL, despite their very loud (and annoying) voice. There are approximately 13.6 million voters in Australia (in 2007). Of those 13.6 million voters, at the Federal Election in August ONLY somewhat more than 100,000 people visited ACL’s website. That’s 0.735% of voters. That’s sweet-fuck-all. That last admission by Mr Ward really does show how irrelevant he and his lobby group are. Though why they continue to get airtime and be seen as a source for “balance” is beyond me.
Now, back to the point of forcing me and anyone else who isn’t the same type of Christian or even Christian to live under your rules. From ACL’s website:
Do you know?
That 12.7 million, or 64% of Australians declared themselves as Christians in the 2006 ABS Census.
That over 2 million Australians attend a place of worship every Sunday.
So although approximately 64% of of Australians declared themselves as Christians only somewhere over 2 million of them, or 15% of Australian Christians actively participate in their places of worship. In the 2006 Australian Census, I marked myself down as Catholic, but I do not, and never would have, supported the ACL’s stance on GLBTIQ rights, abortion or euthanasia (well I probably would have when I was younger and not as well educated). It’s a HUGE reach for the ACL to claim that they represent all Christians, where there are about 10 different grouped denominations who don’t agree on most things. The ACL doesn’t represent the Catholics or Anglicans who have various Bishop Councils advocating on their behalf. I have no idea about the Orthodox Churches but I imagine have their own lobby methodologies. So who, really, does the ACL claim to represent other than conservative Christians?
And given that only 64% of Australia declares themselves Christian and only 15% of those who declare themselves Christian regularly attend Church services, why on earth does the ACL think that it can dictate to me and all the other non-Christians and non-ACL style Christians how we should live? If they are so threatened by the GLBTIQ community, why don’t they just put their head in the sand and leave the rest of us alone to live our lives to our full potential? For my sake, the sake of the GLBTIQ community, for the sake of women who should be trusted to make up their own minds about the suitability of an abortion, for the sake of people who want to die with dignity, please STOP giving these people a voice until they are at the very least:
transparent about their membership
transparent about their finances
transparent about their decision making processes
Maybe then, as we’ll all be a bit more educated about their agenda and relevance, they might be allowed a voice, but right now, they’re a harmful distraction to important issues.
I participated yesterday in the comments section of an article on The Age about infidelity and again whether or not monogamy is the answer to everything (it is, but not for everyone).
The comments, on the whole, were quite positive, very little slut shaming going on and some people opening up about how infidelity has hurt them. Quite a few members of Australia’s poly community (myself included) spoke about being ethically non-monogamous, how expecting that one person can fill all your needs is unrealistic and that with trust and honesty, insecurity and jealousy can be reduced.
One commenter agreed that one person could not meet all your needs, but that was what friends and family were for and asked why it always had to be about sex. I suggested, in response, that because sometimes it was. I gave two examples, of which they responded to only one. The first (the one that wasn’t responded to) was about non-monogamous bisexuals who wanted/needed the sexual contact of the gender of partner they weren’t seeing right now or felt more balanced when they had partners with different genders.
The second, which was responded to, was about BDSM and what did you do if your partner wasn’t into BDSM and you wanted that outlet. I was told by the commenter that they were a BDSM practitioner and BDSM is all about freedom and not sex. And that’s where I stopped playing and went and did something else. Because, you see, it can be all about sex.
Prescriptive responses like that tend to annoy me. It leaves no room for someone who wants their sex rough, if we stick with the example above, and for whom BDSM does not cease on penetration (as I’ve read it is “supposed to” in some books). Clearly there are multiple groups in the BDSM community who practice their flavour of BDSM in different ways. There is, apart from safe, sane and consensual, no right way to practice BDSM. There are things that work for some people and things that work for others. Telling me what BDSM is, as if it applies to EVERYONE else on the planet who is interested, dismisses my beliefs and experience with BDSM as not being correct or right or pure… basically that I did something else that wasn’t BDSM even if I call it that.
There is no one way for most things that people do. There is no one way to be gay, there is no one way to orgasm, there is no one way to be trans*, there is no one way to be disabled, there is no one way to be white, there is no one way to be a person of colour, etc. Each of these things are customised by me, my thoughts, experiences and feelings. The people I tend to associate with get this, thankfully, so I do not have to constantly fight to identify certain ways or to use language that fits me best. I am privileged in that way and grateful for it.
Welcome to the 29th Down Under Feminists Carnival. Thank you everyone for your submissions which I have organised as much as I can. I hope you enjoy reading these posts as much as I did, and that you continue to submit posts to an awesome carnival. Thank you so much to Chally, of Zero at the Bone and FWD/Forward and Radical Readers and Feministe for organising this carnival and letting me host it.
Thank you to Chally, Jo, Mary and Deborah for hunting down and finding most of the great posts to include this month. Thank you to everyone else who submitted their or other’s writings.
If I have used incorrect pronouns to identify any of the participants please let me know so that I can correct them. Any misuse is unintentional and due solely to me being unfamiliar with the author of the post.
If I have misrepresented/badly summarised your post, please let me know and I’ll correct it.
So, this carnival is big and full of fascinating reading. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed putting it all together.
This month’s optional theme was Awesome Women.
So, put your feet up, down, sideways or however you feel comfortable and enjoy.
Ilaeria blogged about the three people who have had the biggest impact in her life, her mother and two grandmothers and share the lessons she learnt from them.
tigtog writes about Bell Hooks week at Hoydon About Town. Deborah at In a Strange Land, during one of her Friday Womanist posts quotes Bell Hooks.
Deborah from In a Strange Land blogged about the anniversary of Sufferage for Women in New Zealand (17 September 1893) and the hard work that was put into gaining signatures for the petition that helped make is possible.
Mary at Hoydon About Town has been awesome and has developed a Firefox bookmarklet to make submitting blog carnival posts easier. Please go and install so it is much easier to submit posts for the next carnival.
Media and society
Wildly Parenthetical at Hoydon About Town talks about Sexting and Slut Shaming and how bad the Minister for Home Affairs’s new campaign is for young women.
I spoke about Rampant Sexism in an edition of the MX where it suggested the women were different than men, that women should earn less than men for the sake of their heterosexual relationships and that women can steal men and that men can do nothing about it.
Pickled Think writes about media and societal pressure on men to propose regardless of what their girlfriends may feel about marriage because it seems that their feelings aren’t important (all girls want to marry right?), and Pickled Think also discusses the patriarchal institution of marriage and the lack of the “big gay proposal”. (The last line on the first comment is also gold).
Blue Milk reviews Radical Act, a documentary about queer/feminist musicians in the USA, made in 1995
Ju at transcendancing has written a review of Glitter Rose, a short story collection by an Australian author doing interesting and challenging things with female characters. The collection is published by a press that is also doing interesting and challenging things with a feminist focus in publishing.
Kim writes at Larvatus Prodeo about feeling sympathy for Stephen Conroy and the ongoing debate about the internet filter being more complex than liberties or the rights of adults.
Mary at Hoydon About Town wrote about #groggate and the outing of Grog Gamut’s legal name by The Australian. The scary thing about The Australian’s justification is that they’re arguing for the outing of anyone who attempts to influence politics (or anything else) regardless of the wish for anonymity.
There are many ways that the less powerful are silenced, and conflating having something to hide or keep private with being not worth listening to is one of them, and insisting on identity disclosure is another. Not all pseudonymous writers are using pseudonyms to ethical ends, this is abundantly clear to anyone who has ever been on the Internet. But insisting that only those who name themselves and state their interest to everyone who lives in the country can speak is far worse.
Ariane at Ariane’s little world, adds to the discussion regarding #groggate by explaining that a person is not their job.
Bodies and health
Ariane calls bullshit on obesity being the root of all evil and society’s with focus on fatness as a health issue. Ariane also points out the negative health consequences of dieting.
Split Milk talks about why she doesn’t want to engage in discussions about dieting and how important fat acceptance places are.
Many fat activists also identify as feminists and in my opinion the most important tenet that those two movements have in common is a core belief in bodily autonomy. Advocating for fat acceptance is about asking for freedom from oppression and prejudicial treatment.
You know what? Fuck you. You’re not me. You’re not that other person. You don’t know the circumstances surrounding why someone is the way they are unless they tell you. Yes, we all make superficial judgements but does that give you the right to be abusive or phobic? No.
Fat Heffalump shared her paper that she presented for the Australian Fat Studies conference this month. She shares the effect that the “war on obesity” has had on her and most likely has had on others.
Sam at fat dialogue writes about her experience with Control Top Underpants and how important making people uncomfortable is as a really powerful critical and political intervention.
Julie at the Hand Mirror writes about Thin Privilege and how it isn’t all that great.
The Thin versus Not Thin dichotomy is yet another false division that just sets women against each other. We need to fight, together, against a culture which judges us on our physical appearance, whether that appearance is one that conforms or not.
Steph writes at LadyNews that although Christina Hendricks is great, and the media acceptance of her not typically represented body type is also great, having her body shape/type as one to aspire to is not a good thing.
Pickled Think shreds an article discussing a new sitcom hopefully not coming to a screen near you, and how fat really isn’t coming back to Hollywood.
Health and disability
Jo at Wallaby writes about Accessibility and Sydney’s public transport, focusing on Sydney’s buses.
Michelle at The Red Pill Survive Guide (*trigger warning – discussion of suicide*) writes about World Suicide Prevention Day on 10 September, and talks about how she understands that level of despair.
Chally at Zero at the bone, writes about taking a sickie and how hard it is for people with disabilities to take a “sickie” for legitimate reasons let alone “bludging”.
Helen at FlyingBlogspot.com talks about her ordinary and what she does to manage day to day. Helen also discusses how her ordinary may change with a review of her medication and trying some new treatment.
Race and Racism
Hexpletive blogged about the NSW Parliament amending the NSW State Constitution to finally recognise indigenous Australians as the first people in the State.
I wrote a piece about Boat People and how it should not be an issue.
Queen Emily at An Army of Rabbits discusses the concept of whiteness and the difference between white in Australia and white in the USA.
Jo at Wallaby writes a post about an anti-violence march asking some very pertinent questions for you to answer before you read Blue Milk’s post below.
Blue Milk writes about the march in Alice Springs by Aboriginal men to “stop the violence” and the lack of media coverage about positive Aboriginal stories.
Steph at 天高皇企鹅远 writes about japan ken and barbie, how they’re in Japanese inspired clothing and not actually Japanese, leading to the fetishisation and exotification of non Western cultures.
Chally wrote at Feministe about one of her favourite bit of cognitive dissonance.
stargazer at The Hand Mirror wrote about how collective responsibility is not productive, and states that, “i still don’t accept that i have any responsibility to apologise for the actions of someone i’ve never met and have absolutely no chance of influencing.”
the news with nipples writes Another burqa blog post and reluctantly gives Sergio Redegalli some of her time while she discusses how wrong his latest “art” work is. Then asks why the debate about burquas is still being controlled by people who do not wear burqas.
Blue Milk talks about how Stephanie Rice’s apology to queer people was not adequate and points out all the flaws in that apology very nicely.
Steph at 天高皇企鹅远 went to WorldCon and discusses her experiences with two panels, one on queer themes in SF, which she had to walk out of and the other chaired by a trans academic which was a far more positive experience.
PharaohKatt at Distinctly Disgruntled (*trigger warning – discussion of suicide*) deconstructs Bob Katter’s comments regarding the apparently non-existent LBGTIQ population in his electorate, the high rate of suicide of LBGTIQ people and Bob Katter’s comments about suicide on a Q&A segment.
I think the dynamic is deeply conditioned by internalised queerphobia. Specifically, internalisation of the double standard that there’s a threshold of queerness that someone has to prove in order to be ‘really’ queer (when there’s no such threshold for heterosexuality).
Maia at The Hand Mirror discusses a proposed bill in New Zealand which would re-criminalise street sex workers and how the relevant political parties have voted.
It is specifically targeting street sex workers. Street sex workers do not generally have $2,000 to pay a fine. The fines, when they’re awarded, won’t have the magic power to stop someone being poor and working as a sex worker, it’ll just make them poorer. It won’t make street sex work disappear, it’ll just make it harder, more dangerous, and more marginalised.
Steph at vegan about town discusses how veganism, race and ethnicity intersect and how calling for China to be “wiped from the face of the earth” for the way they treat animals is hypocritical when every country mistreats animals.
Maia at The Hand Mirror also discusses how there is a connection between problems the way food is discussed and the problems with way food is produced and looks at this under a feminist framework.
Shiny writes about how she is all out of cookies and isn’t going to give them to people who meet basic human standards of decency.
Callistra writes about safety and safe spaces, what they can be and how they are created.
Safety and feelings of safe spaces are also a place of sanctuary. It’s an intimately known quality, where so much discussion has already occured that the system can meet your needs. It means when you’re miserable and need company to listen to, you have friends who can answer that need. Or if you’re miserable and need to talk; you know you can have these needs met. It means if you need to sit quietly and absorb group energy, you can do so without worrying what others might think, say or do. I noticed this as being ‘a place where you can exist without struggle of identity’.
Callistra also writes about what connections are and how they contribute to safe spaces.
Writing at The Hand Mirror, anjum writes about women in minority cultures, who as feminists want to criticise and change the culture, but who fear that it will only give ammunition to haters in the majority culture.
steph writes at vegan about town regarding exclusionary language in the vegan and animal rights movement in Australia and how veganism and the animal rights movement are often seen as white/Anglo-Saxon, middle-class movements.
Pickled Think writes about surviving the Christchurch earthquake and how she feels right now.
Blue Milk writes about breastfeeding and how she felt when she first started and how she feels about it now.
Hexpletive writes about the 9th World Indigenous Women and Wellness Conference she attended and presented at in Darwin and then goes on to discuss the other Conferences and Conventions that she is interested in for the remainder of the year. I’m going to have to look some of these up.
Spilt Milk shares an experience of encountering penis graffiti with her young daughter and recounts Helen Barne’s Young Adult novel ‘Killing Aurora’, in which the protagonist draws vagina dentata graffiti in response to penis graffiti.
Spilt Milk wrote about her childhood comforter and how that was taken away from her, and now how the childcare centre her daughter goes to wants to take away her daughter’s teddy bear.
Queen Emily writes at An Army of Rabbits, two (related) things that never happened to her in Australia, specifically the assumption that she’d been to church followed by an exhortation to keep god in her heart.
Chally wrote about how social justice can also be about staying silent and doing what is right for you versus the wider world (this post could fit under most categories, and I struggled to find the best fit).
Wallaby writes about how prioritising and choosing your energy drain is important for your wellness, and your choices in this regard should be admired, fostered and encouraged.
tigtog clearly states for the record why banning commenters and refusing comment publication is not censorship as blogs are privately owned spaces.
the news with nipples writes about the petition put together by Plan Australia to make September 22 the International Day of the Girl. You can sign the petition here.
Natalie at definatalie.com writes about her feral leghair and why she’s going to grow it. She includes a great discussion about The Gruen Transfer and their discussion about redefining femininity based on advertising.
steph discusses at LadyNews the current Jadelle (a contraceptive implant) furore in the media. steph advocates choice and education for women, which some of the quotes in the article also supported.
Megan at Craft is the New Black writes about the need for the ‘generations’ of feminism to recognise and celebrate each other’s worth.
In a post to mark Women’s Suffrage Day in New Zealand, Ele at Home Paddock writes of the need for us to exercise our hard won right to vote in the upcoming local body elections.
*Trigger warnings – posts in this section discuss violence against women*
The Dawn Chorus discusses Street Harassment and how when reporting it or writing down what has been said, the tone of what was said is missing which is one of the reasons why street harassment is often belittled or dismissed.
Blue Milk explains that asking is sexy and that without consent it isn’t sex and the comments are great too.
I don’t know why the idea has persisted that asking for consent is necessarily a clinical business – what is stilted about – more? do you want to? do you like? Because “mood-killer”? Are you kidding me? That moment when they close the space between you both and ask you to put your cards on the table – is this on or not, can I do this with you – is one of the most heart-flippingly exciting moments in all of existence.
Jo at Wallaby wrote about the treatment received by two women who had been sexually assaulted in different legal systems and how much those legal systems differed.
XY writes about why he won’t be walking in Reclaim the Night/Take Back the Night march and provides and excellent resource (if you need one) to explain to some men why they are not always welcome to march.
AnneE at The Hand Mirror takes some relevant material from a paper on people who abuse their partners.
blue milk at Hoydon About Town writes about the strange behaviour of the state and society when a mother whose daughter was victim of incest is upset and protective of her daughter when pornography is displayed at a 7-11.
And isn’t it a strange world where police can be called in to protect your right to display pornography? So unquestioning are we about it that the newspaper article actually describes what unfolded as a “bizarre incident”. It is the same strange world where it is estimated that up to one in four girls will be sexually abused during their childhood.
Both Deborah from In a Strange Land and I wrote about Brendan Black and his opinion piece in Fairfax media on breastfeeding and breasts. Unfortunately he fails terribly at being a feminist ally when he could have done very well.
Jo at Wallaby suggests that men should not go out alone otherwise they might, “be accused of, and/or commit, indecent assault, sexual assault, rape or other sexual violence.”