Tag Archives: lgbtiq

To those who think that biphobic abuse at Pride is ok… (again)

It’s 2016, bisexuals in some form or another have been marching at pride since at least 2006 (that’s when I was first aware of them marching, I wasn’t able to attend).  With the exception of 2 marches in that period, we’ve had abuse yelled at us from the crowd.  Sure it’s only a couple of people, but seriously…

IT IS TIME TO STOP DOING THIS

If you think that bisexuals are confused, not choosing to be fully out, making the gay and lesbian communities look bad (though you’re doing a good one of that yourself), or something else – DON’T TALK TO US.

If you think that yelling abuse at any group at Pride is acceptable – DO NOT COME TO PRIDE.

I was having a really great walk down Fitzroy Street with bisexual people and the Victorian Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby (yes, I know), being distracted by ManHunt behind us, smiling thanks to the cheers, waves and the general positive mood… until you decided that we needed to be told to choose a side.

Listen, the only people who need to choose a fucking side are those that think that biphobia is bad and didn’t actually say something to those arseholes.

This is my request.  If you cannot restrain yourself from being biphobic in public, don’t come to Pride or any other LGBTIQ+ community event.  Stay home, stay amongst your friends who tolerate your biphobia (though why I don’t understand), limit your exposure to bisexuals (and/or the other groups that upset you), just keep your toxicity to yourself

Every time you are biphobic you add to the poorer mental health that bisexuals have versus gay and lesbian people.  You add to the higher rates of violence against us, and to the higher rates of suicide versus gay, lesbian and straight people.  STOP being an awful person. (source)

We really don’t care why you do or do not like bisexual people.  We care about the effects that your toxic behaviour has on us, and we want you to stop.  If you can keep your mouth shut and say nothing, then we’ll all be much happier.

Without bisexuals, you wouldn’t have Pride marches anyway.

Brenda Howard is known as the “Mother of Pride”, for her work in coordinating the march. Howard also originated the idea for a week-long series of events around Pride Day which became the genesis of the annual LGBT Pride celebrations that are now held around the world every June. Additionally, Howard along with fellow LGBT Activists Robert A. Martin (aka Donny the Punk) and L. Craigt Schoonmaker are credited with popularizing the word “Pride” to describe these festivities. As LGBT rights activist Tom Limoncelli put it, “The next time someone asks you why LGBT Pride marches exist or why [LGBT] Pride Month is June tell them ‘A bisexual woman named Brenda Howard thought it should be.'” (Wikipedia)

 

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Breasts and cancer

It’s been a while since I’ve posted here, I’ve recovered from radiotherapy (harder mentally than surgery because you’re completely exhausted), I’ve travelled to India (will blog more about that later), and it’s almost Christmas.

I’ve been collecting some articles about breast cancer, the cost of treatment, what we die from young (women = breast cancer), how trans people need to be careful of breast cancer, and really what you can do to ensure that you catch cancer early and get it treated quickly.

Continue reading Breasts and cancer

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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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Marriage Equality – again

So last night the Liberal Party and the National Party held a meeting for over 5 hours to discuss whether or not the party would allow a free conscience vote (which still would have not gotten the required numbers over the line) or whether they’d all vote as a block and therefore and vote No.  The block voting won (in case you didn’t know).

Not enough has been said about this debate taking over 5 hours in my opinion.  Over 5 hours.

I hate meetings at the best of times, finding them an incredible waste of time when I could be doing the stuff that is discussed, but this meeting went FOR OVER 5 HOURS.  That’s 5 hours of impassioned debate about an issue that is important (not the most important, but still).  An issue that is capturing the world’s attention.  An issue that reduces the active amount of discrimination in the world.  A few years ago, we would have been lucky if that party room discussion went for an hour.

Just this year Ireland, the United States of America and Mexico have allowed same-sex marriage, adding to a long list of countries in which it is already legal.  The referendum in Ireland with the majority of voters voting yes, and the Supreme Court decision in the USA have been big drivers to get marriage equality back into Parliamentary debate here in Australia, and it’s not going anywhere soon

I’m grateful that some LNP politicians have my back on at least one issue that can affect me.  I’m not generally the type to support the LNP (queer, left leaning woman who is big on social justice), but it’s good to see that some of the party has actively thought about what is good for Australia and Australians and decided that if over 70% of Australians support marriage equality, then perhaps that’s something that should be recognised.

Now I’m going to take a small detour here and talk about some bigoted arsehats who have weighed in on this debate in one for or another recently.  This is where the post is going to be long, but will hopefully still make sense.  Ok, I’m ranting, leave me my ranting space.

New South Wales Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells (Liberal)

Fierravanti-Wells told the party room yesterday that:

…she believed opinion polls showing majority support for legalising same-sex marriage did not reflect the views of a “silent majority” of Australian voters.

She said changing the marriage laws – or being seen to condone change – would cost the Coalition seats at the next election.

The senator referred to an analysis she had undertaken which identified marginal seats with high percentages of religious voters.

A copy of the analysis, dated July 3, lists 14 seats across New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria and Tasmania with relatively high proportions of Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican, Muslim or Buddhist voters or overseas-born voters from ethnic communities likely to oppose same-sex marriage.

In a written foreword to her analysis, Senator Fierravanti-Wells, the parliamentary secretary for social services, also responsible for multicultural affairs, says she believes there is strong opposition among culturally and religiously diverse communities to changing the marriage laws.

Ok, let’s just start with a majority says X, so a “silent majority” says Y.  I’m not convinced that Fierravanti-Wells does maths.  Also, I’m not convinced that Fierravanti-Wells has actually spoken to anyone of these people she’s using to support her argument against marriage equality.  She claims that:

She notes that faith leaders from across Australia had written to the Government in June, objecting to any change.

Her analysis includes the western Sydney seat of Barton, the Liberals’ most marginal seat, held by Liberal Nickolas Varvaris on 50.31 per cent.

She says Barton has nearly eight times the proportion of eastern Orthodox constituents than the national average, four times the proportion of Muslims, a higher-than-average Greek population and fewer who said they had “no religion”.

Other western Sydney marginal seats included are Reid, Werriwa, Banks and Parramatta.

The analysis says Parramatta, held by Labor’s Julie Owens on 50.57 per cent, is 25 per cent Catholic, has 10 times the national average of voters identifying as Hindu, four times the rate identifying as Islamic and higher-than-average percentages of those born in India and Lebanon.

The first issue here is that Faith Leaders don’t represent the believes and feelings of their flocks.  I know they claim they do, but you get the Catholic and some Anglican faith leaders in Australia being bigoted arsehats, and most Catholics and Anglicans actually supporting marriage equality.  Not knowing a large number of Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims or Orthodox people, I cannot claim to know what they do and do not support, however I do note that the majority of Australians support marriage equality, and that is something that really should be taken into account.

I know I’ve said that majority of Australians more than once tonight, so let’s get that data for you.  From a report in The Age in July 2015:

Support among Australians for same-sex marriage and for a conscience vote in the Coalition has reached an all-time high, according to a survey by the Liberal Party’s own pollster.

A Crosby Textor poll, commissioned by Australian Marriage Equality, has found that 72 per cent of Australians want same-sex marriage legalised, while 77 per cent think Coalition MPs should be granted a conscience vote.

The survey by the Liberal Party’s national pollster finds support for marriage equality is increasing among Australians, up from 65 per cent in a Nielsen poll last August.

It shows opposition to same-sex marriage has collapsed, with just one in five Australians or 21 per cent opposed, marking Parliament as increasingly out of step with the views of the majority of Australians.

According to the poll, support for same-sex marriage is now higher in Australia than it was in any other country, including New Zealand and Great Britain, when overseas parliaments have passed marriage equality laws.

And if you want something a little more recent than July this year, from Australian Marriage Equality (August 2015):

Marriage equality advocates have welcomed a new poll showing almost 60% of Australians believe marriage equality is a medium to high priority.

The poll, conducted for anti-marriage equality group, the Marriage Alliance, found that marriage equality is, on average, the 13th most important issue for Australians, about the same level of priority given to agriculture, taxation and asylum seekers.

59% of poll respondents said marriage equality is a priority, made up of 24% who said marriage equality it is a high priority and 35% said it is a medium priority. Only 39% said it is low a priority.

So even when organisations against marriage equality are attempting to poll against marriage equality, they can’t do it.

Charitably I could believe that Fierravanti-Wells really did care about the numbers and how the LNP will poll in the next election, but didn’t actually consider what she was saying – which effectively is that all religious and culturally diverse people are happy to discriminate against same-sex attracted people when it comes to marriage (or in short-hand that they are bigots).  I’m positive that this is not the case.

Kevin Donnelly

I’ve blogged about Donnelly before, he has a track record of being racist, and now he’s adding homophobic to the list.  I haven’t even read the article, I didn’t need to after seeing this headline, “Abbott made the right call on same-sex marriage“.

Donnelly tries to be clever and epically fails:

This is especially the case as many of the arguments in favour of same-sex marriage are flawed. Those wanting change argue that defining marriage as involving a man and a woman discriminates against lesbians and homosexuals.

Ignored is that there are many examples where society and the law allow discrimination to occur. Women-only gyms and clubs are allowed to exclude men and those under 18 are not allowed to view X-rated films and videos.

Yes, defining marriage as only involving a man and a woman discriminates against gay men, lesbian women, bisexual people and trans people.  It’s ok Donnelly, I’m glad you forgot some of us.  The less you think about us the better off we’ll all be.

Ignored is the fact that Donnelly doesn’t understand that not all discrimination is harmful, and that children are to be protected against things that harm them.  Let’s work on the first one.  Women only gyms.  Women are far more likely to be sexually assaulted by men than the other way around.  Therefore in the interest of safety, women only gyms exist, where men are discriminated against to protect women.  When men stop assaulting women at the current rates, then it is possible the need for women only gyms will go away.

Marriage equality harms no one, and the discrimination against same-sex coupled people who’d like to marry harms them.

Children and pornography.  I don’t even with this one Donnelly.  We have lots of laws to protect children, we have laws about who they can have sex with, we have laws about them having to go to school, we have laws about the mandatory reporting of abuse, we have laws that can result in them being removed from their homes.  It is believed that pornography will harm children, therefore children cannot see pornography.  I note that Donnelly isn’t complaining about any other laws relating to children, so I wonder why that is.

Many on the cultural left, often the strongest supporters of same-sex marriage, also argue in favour of positive discrimination where they believe some people should be treated differently to others.

Because Donnelly doesn’t understand the difference between equality and justice/equity, I give you the following image:

First image – three people are standing on boxes looking over a fence to watch a baseball game. The tallest and second tallest can see over the fence. The shortest cannot. Second image – Three people are watching a baseball game over a fence. The tallest can see over the fence. The second tallest is standing on one box to see over the fence. The shortest is standing on two boxes to see over the fence.

This is why we suggest that some people should be treated more positively – because they are coming from further behind that others.  Many people are coming from further behind than Kevin Donnelly, as we’re not all straight, white men with a platform to be vilely racist and homophobic.

Also ignored, for all intents and purposes, is that gays and lesbians already have the same rights as de-facto heterosexual couples.

Also ignored by Donnelly is that not all same-sex attracted people want to marry, but denying those who do is harmful.  Sure we can live in defacto relationships, and we do right now, but that isn’t the same as marriage.  If it was, then we wouldn’t be having this debate.

A second strategy employed by same-sex marriage advocates is to argue that anyone who disagrees is bigoted and homophobic. Wrong. The reality is that many of those opposed to redefining marriage do so for sound and carefully thought through reasons.

I love this comment, it is a comment I see all the time.  “I’m not bigoted and homophobic, I’ve thought about some really good reasons why I oppose granting rights to same-sex attracted people that would do me no harm whatsoever.”  I am also yet to meet a good argument against same-sex marriage that doesn’t in the end reduce down to either “my religion is homophobic, not me”, or “because gay sex is icky” which are both homophobic.

As Andrew P Street wrote, “And if you are, in fact, a bigot, then it shouldn’t bother you that people are accurately assessing your shortcomings as a human being on the basis of the things you believe, based on the stuff you say.”  Donnelly continues:

When arguing that the definition of marriage must be changed to include same-sex couples, advocates often argue that the love between a man and a man and a woman and a woman is the same as that experienced by heterosexuals.

From a biological point of view, such is clearly not the case. Such is the physiology involved in procreation, and not withstanding the availability of surrogacy and in vitro fertilisation, that it requires a man and a woman. The optimum environment in which to raise a child also involves a mother and a father.

Oh yeah, I forgot the third way, the reproductive argument.  If two people of the same gender can’t have children, their relationship is worth less than those that can, because apparently all we’re about is having children.  Let’s not look at the treatment of those children by heterosexual people. Let’s especially not look at the really positive outcomes for children raised by same-sex parents.  Let’s leave Donnelly to his little bigoted world where LGBTI people are worse people than heterosexual people.  He’s wrong of course, we’re pretty fucking awesome.

Michael Jensen

This piece is from May and I’ve been putting off on blogging about it because it’s so full of complete and utter rubbish that it isn’t really worth mentioning – except that it’s another white, Christian man telling us that he isn’t really a bigot for not supporting marriage equality, “I oppose same-sex marriage (and no, I’m not a bigot)“:

How could anyone stand opposed? The terms in which the pro-marriage redefinition case are stated make it sound as inevitable as the dawn, and as unstoppable as the tide. And these same terms make opposing a redefinition of marriage sound primitive and even barbaric. There are those in favour of change, we are told, and then there are the bigots.

I do wonder how anyone can stand opposed without actually being a bigot.

It is not even the case that “all the surveys say Australians want it” is a sufficient argument. The surveys say that Australians want capital punishment. Wisely, our politicians don’t listen to surveys on that issue (and I agree with them). They should exercise leadership, not follow opinion.

I’ve seen this argument before and it’s an interesting one.  It’s particularly fascinating that the death penalty is brought into an argument, to contrast something where no one gets hurt.  On one side you have the violent end of someone’s life, on the other side you have two consenting adults committing to their relationship in front of family and friends, and having the Government, and other bodies that need to, recognising that relationship legally.  It’s not like they are even remotely in the same class of things.

Should the Australian Government listen to the people in all things?  Should the Australian Government take the lead on some things so that the better interest is served?  Wouldn’t it be best if the Australian Government was abolitionist on the death penalty and in support of marriage equality?  The Australian Government should be about the best human rights that we can grant to each other.  That includes being abolitionist on the death penalty and in support of marriage equality.  There we go, I solved that one for you.

In fact, it may be the case that offering supposedly “equal” treatment is incoherent, as it is in this case. It is crucial to notice that the proposed revision of marriage laws involves exactly that: a revision of marriage. In order to offer the status of marriage to couples of the same sex, the very meaning of marriage has to be changed. In which case, what same-sex couples will have will not be the same as what differently sexed couples now have.

Except that marriage has changed multiple times over millennia and the world didn’t end.  Men used to marry their property, which then begat more property which they’d consent to have married off to other men, unless some of that property were male, in which case they’d become human whenever the age of adulthood was at that time.  Men now marry women, and both people have to consent to the marriage.  Men used to also marry lots of property, they’d have multiple property all over the place, sometimes it mattered if the property consented to more property being married, sometimes it didn’t.  It used to be that you couldn’t marry without your parents’ consent, and most marriages were arranged.

If marriage can change to be what it is now, then it can change to include same-sex couples who want to marry.

This is where Bill Shorten again misunderstands what marriage is. As we now understand it, marriage is not merely the expression of a love people have for each other. It is, or is intended as, a life-long union between two people who exemplify the biological duality of the human race, with the openness to welcoming children into the world. Even when children do not arrive, the differentiated twoness of marriage indicates its inherent structure.

Blah, blah, blah – see argument about children above. Also, to erase other gendered people from the conversation is an arse move Mr Jensen.

Look I really don’t understand why so many people are frightened of marriage equality.  If it creates something new, something that currently discriminated people can engage in, what is the problem with that?  Do so many of these bigots believe that the moment marriage equality is granted those who would have otherwise married someone of the opposite sex will suddenly rush out and go and marry someone of the same sex?  Do they think that being queer is contagious and it’s only the shame of being queer, and the inability to marry that keeps opposite sex marriage going?  Do they think that suddenly everyone will stop having children, or start ignoring children, and suddenly there won’t be a human race any more?

There are FAR more important issues facing the earth today than marriage equality.  Granting marriage equality makes the lives of many of my queer siblings better.  It does not save the environment, it does not refreeze the glaciers, it does not bring endangered creatures back from the brink of extinction.  It certainly doesn’t help asylum seekers or bring peace to nations at war.  It does make a difference though, and that difference is one that has been made in many other places already and it helps.

Granting marriage equality helps, and granting it means that people like me can marry if they want.  Families can recognise the relationships of their children and parents.  Relationships that until relatively recently were looked at as deviant and different can instead be shown to be as valued as the opposite sex relationships they are surrounded by.  It means that children who are growing up queer know that if they wish to get married and be like their friends in opposite sex relationships, they can.  Think of the children, think of those who you’re denying the ability to be normal.

 

 

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Post-Apocalyptic Review: Coda by Emma Trevayne

Book: Coda by Emma Trevayne

Format consumed: ebook, also available in hardcopy (Fishpond, Booktopia, etc)

Plot summary (from Goodreads):

Ever since he was a young boy, music has coursed through the veins of eighteen-year-old Anthem—the Corp has certainly seen to that. By encoding music with addictive and mind-altering elements, the Corp holds control over all citizens, particularly conduits like Anthem, whose life energy feeds the main power in the Grid.

Anthem finds hope and comfort in the twin siblings he cares for, even as he watches the life drain slowly and painfully from his father. Escape is found in his underground rock band, where music sounds free, clear, and unencoded deep in an abandoned basement. But when a band member dies suspiciously from a tracking overdose, Anthem knows that his time has suddenly become limited. Revolution all but sings in the air, and Anthem cannot help but answer the call with the chords of choice and free will. But will the girl he loves help or hinder him?

Type of post-apocalyptic story: The world ended many years ago, possibly over 100 years ago. It’s very vague as to how that happened, it could have been disease, global climate change, or war, but there were a lot of injured people and music was found to soothe and heal them them – so music became a tool to control the population and maintain behaviour.  There is no mention of other countries or population centres outside where Anthem lives in the story.

Review

I picked up this book as it was nominated for a Bisexual fiction award.  Anthem is bisexual.  In this book he is interested in one of the female characters, but he is still friends with his ex-boyfriend, and they spend a fair amount of time clubbing together in the book.  For a story about a bisexual man, I recommend this.  It was good on many other elements. too.  I read this a while ago, so my memory is a little rusty.

World Building: Apart from no mention of other population centres, the world is believable.  There are ruins of the world before surrounding the world as it is today in the story.  There is a police state that is working on getting things done, maintaining their own power, and control.  There is a class system of the haves and have nots based on current wealth, and it is almost possible to move between them, but not likely for most people.

The technology is incredible, the ability to encode music with subliminal messages/beats that makes it addictive, as well as controlling mood and improving people’s ability to heal.  The ability for people to be bio-generators of power to power the city, the ability for people to record their lives so that after they die others can still see them, like the way we record things on our phones.

Character Building: So the main character is male and bisexual, a combination which is really rare in a book.  Also, everyone else is pretty much ok with bisexuality (nice), and queerness in general (also nice).  The characters have different motivations for doing things, they have their own back stories and women are treated as equally capable as men.  When Anthem believes that the woman he is interested in has betrayed him, he doesn’t believe that it is because she’s a woman, or that she’s weak.

Women: So Anthem’s love interest in this story is a woman and she’s a fully rounded character, with multiple depths to her.  There is also Anthem’s … handler (I’m really not quite sure what the correct word is) at the bio-generation plant who ensures that he is plugged in correctly and has something to read/occupy his time while he’s there.  There are several baddies who are also women.  None of these characters are single dimensional, and none of them are sex objects.

Non-white characters: There are a range of non-white characters in the book.  Anthem is blond-haired and blue-eyed.  Haven, his love interest, has olive skin.  Another one of the characters is described as being so dark, that in the darkened, disused space that they’re performing music in, he’s difficult to see.

Disabled Characters: Although there are no visible disabilities mentioned, there is the theme of addiction and the ruination that can cause throughout the book.  Anthem lost his mother to her addiction to the Corp’s music, and is in the process of losing his father.  There is an acknowledgement of mental health issues, and the characters are familiar with depression and anxiety.

Queer Characters: Anthem is bisexual, his ex, Scope, is gay, there are other queer characters in the book.  There are straight characters.  Orientation isn’t an issue in this version of the future.  It’s nice to see a future where who you are attracted to is not an issue and nothing to be ashamed of.

There were no trans characters that I am aware of in the book.

Final thoughts

There is a reason this book was nominated for an award. It does a lot of things right, and I really enjoyed it.

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Post-Apocalyptic Book Review: Damnation Alley – Roger Zelazny

Book: Damnation Alley by Roger Zelazny

Form consumed: ebook, also in hardcopy about the place (Booktopia, Fishpond, etc)

Plot (from Wikipedia)

The story opens in a post-apocalyptic Southern California, in a hellish world shattered by nuclear war decades before. Several police states have emerged in place of the former United States. Hurricane-force winds above five hundred feet prevent any sort of air travel from one state to the next, and sudden, violent, and unpredictable storms make day-to-day life a mini-hell. Hell Tanner, an imprisoned killer, is offered a full pardon in exchange for taking on a suicide mission—a drive through “Damnation Alley” across a ruined America from Los Angeles to Boston—as one of three vehicles attempting to deliver an urgently needed plague vaccine.

Type of post-apocalyptic story: The current world has ended, the story starts around 30 – 40 years after the event.  Society for the most part has stabilised and is now focussed on survival.

Review:

I really enjoyed this book, for the most part, however there were a few gaping issues.  Let’s do all the good things.  There will be spoilers

World building: I really liked the way Zelazny put the world together for this book.  The main character was not alive when the current world was destroyed and the new world was formed.  He doesn’t know most of what happened, and doesn’t care – so neither does the reader for the most part.  During the story the main character, Tanner, finds out a bit more, and still doesn’t care, as living in the world as it is, is his current struggle.

The fantastical way that the world has been reshaped due to radiation, storms, and people, the way people survive day to day, and how government continues (or doesn’t) to operate is all very interesting and I can see why a lot of people were inspired by the story to create works in homage.

Character building: There is only one real character, the rest are there to drive the plot but are in essence completely unimportant.  Despite Tanner supposedly being a complete and utter arsehole (and he is a bit), he’s really just a guy who wants to be left alone, and safe – though his version of left alone and safe tends to be one where a lot of other people end up dead.  Granted many of those other people have attempted to kill him at some point.  He’s not completely unlikeable as a character and you do find yourself rooting for him.  I’d say he is lazily written because he’s not really one thing or another, and I think he should be given how he is introduced.

Description: I’m a big believer in using words to their fullest effect so I can build a mental picture of what the author is describing.  I found that this book was very successful in that, but not so successful that I wanted to stop reading after describing some mutated horror, or yet more violence.

And now the badly done bits

Women: So there are three main female characters in the book; two are sex objects and one is a mother.  The book would have worked completely fine without them, and I actually would have preferred that to be the case.  I haven’t read much Zelazny so I don’t know if he cannot write women, or whether he is actually sexist, but the three characters were really pointless to the story, and appear to be a lazy attempt at inclusion.

The mother was there in a farming household, and she was intimidated by Tanner – which isn’t surprising, he’s a force of chaotic nature and I’d be scared of him.  She didn’t drive the plot, and did nothing than be a mother to some children Tanner was interacting with, and the husband of a farmer.  She wasn’t badly written, just an illustration along the story.

The two sex objects were awful.  Zelazny clearly cannot write a sex scene.  The first woman, Cornelia, is a member of a gang that attacks Tanner.  Tanner is effectively driving a tank, and he takes out pretty much everyone in the gang, and avoids killing Cornelia by chance (he doesn’t know she’s there initially).  He picks up her, patches her wounds and she joins him.  She clearly doesn’t care that Tanner has killed her entire gang (and probably family), and happily comes along with him.  They hook up, have sex, she gets killed by another gang, Tanner buries her and continues on his way.

The second woman, Evelyn, only exists to drive the plot forward.  She lives in the plague infested Boston and is meeting with her beau who believes that he is infected with the plague but wants to see her one last time.  Then ensues one of the most awkwardly written sex scenes I’ve read for a while:

They moved to the bed and did not speak again until after he had ridden her for several minutes and she heard him sigh and felt the warm moisture come into her. Then she rubbed his shoulders and said, “That was good.”

Evelyn, her beau and most of Boston aren’t likeable.  You don’t care that they’re dying of the plague, and the world would probably be a better place if they did because then a whole lot of annoying people wouldn’t exist.  Badly written characters like this really don’t help the story.  If Tanner wasn’t such a strong character, and his determination to just keep moving forward, you really wouldn’t care about what happens to Boston.  Because Tanner cares (though even that seems to be out of character), you care.

Non-white characters: I don’t recall any being described in the book.  Evelyn is described as having red hair, Cornelia is described as having brown hair, and an obvious red burn to her face (from Tanner’s self defence flame-thrower).  The mother is described as having red cheeks.  Tanner really doesn’t have that much of a description other than having dark eyes, a beard, and being a biker.

Disabled characters: Despite the world pretty much self destructing there are no mentions of disabled characters. Given the current state of the world, there would be some, and you’d expect there to be a mention of them.

Queer characters: None are mentioned.  It wouldn’t have been too hard to include one in the story, Evelyn’s beau could have been a woman, or bisexual, or even trans, any of the other characters that Tanner briefly meets could have been queer.

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Arsehat award for July 2015 – Eric Abetz

Yes, I know, it’s only the second day of the month, but Eric Abetz holds a special place in hell and he opened his mouth on something we’re both very passionate about and he lied, or if that’s not quite accurate, he misstated actual facts.

You see, the reason I know that Abetz is bending the truth, is because this particular story impacts directly on me, what The Australian claimed I said, and the fact that I am very very sure that Eric Abetz and the Australian Journalist Ean Higgins worked together to discredit me, James, and Bi-Alliance Victoria.  This all happened in 2012, so for most people it’s the distant past, but I don’t forget being used by a queerphobic politician who was out to trash a Senate Committee looking into marriage equality (I have a LONG memory).

Let’s start at the beginning and move to what Abetz has done today in a mostly linear fashion.

I published on my blog my submission to the Senate Committee, I also submitted it online as was available at the time (though apparently it was never received by the committee).  James (my husband) who was then president of Bi-Alliance Victoria, submitted a submission on behalf of Bi-Alliance Victoria (see submission 181).  As you can see from both submissions, we called for the same marriage rights for same-sex relationships as people in opposite sex relationships.

Out of the blue, we received a call from Ean Higgins at The Australian, who wanted to talk about our submissions to the Senate.  We didn’t expect Mr Higgins to stab us in the back, so we talked to him, he called back and asked some more questions, and then wrote a factually incorrect article titled, “Marriage for four put to Senate” for The Australian.  I wrote to the Australian to request a retraction and an apology and only got one after I involved the Press Council (sadly not online).

Only after the event did I realise that Ean Higgins and Eric Abetz had probably colluded to discredit my submission, and the submission of Bi-Alliance Victoria, and went out of their way to suggest that by granting marriage equality to people in same-sex relationships, granting legal recognition to people in polyamorous relationships was just around the corner*.

In the dissenting opinion in the Marriage Equality Senate Committee, Abetz and Cash wrote (pdf):

1.27 Coalition senators are of the view that in considering Senator Hanson-Young’s Bill it is appropriate to consider the potential consequences of where the logic of ‘marriage equality’ may lead.
1.28 The majority report seeks to selectively highlight certain submissions received by the committee in support of the proposition that ‘Marriage Equality for same-sex couples is not a ‘slippery slope'”.
1.29 The majority report fails however to acknowledge submissions received by the Senate committee from Mr James and Mrs Rebecca Dominguez and, further, the evidence given by former High Court Justice Michael Kirby at the committee’s hearing in Sydney, which cogently demonstrate that the conclusion of the committee majority in this regard is factually incorrect.

1.31 Mr and Mrs Dominguez are practising polyamorists. Mrs Dominguez is the former President of PolyVic, an organisation representing Victoria’s polyamorous community.
1.32 Both Mr and Mrs Dominguez made submissions to the Senate Inquiry. Only Mr Dominguez’s submission (Submission 181 on behalf of the Bisexual Alliance Victoria) was published due to the number of submissions received by the inquiry. Mrs Dominguez’s submission was however posted on line at http://blogs.bluebec.com/submission-to-the-senate-on-marriage-equality/. While the submissions by Mr and Mrs Dominguez did not explicitly canvass polyamorous marriage, both made subsequent statements supporting this proposition at some time in the future.
1.33 In an article in The Australian newspaper on 23 May 2012, entitled ‘Marriage for four put to Senate’, Mrs Dominguez is quoted as saying: ‘Some time in the distant future we should look at the idea of plural marriage’. On a blogsite entitled Polyamory in the news, Mr Dominguez said:
I just want to re-stress that: despite the Oz misquoting yet again and saying The Greens are “against” poly marriage, they have actually said simply that it’s not part of their platform and they have no plans to pursue it. If there is ever a popular movement to legalise poly marriage in the future, The Greens will be the first to lend their support, I guarantee it. A few poly people are angry with them for not expressing support, but I think we need to be realistic.
1.34 A number of other polyamorists subsequently expressed the view that there should be greater recognition of polyamorist relationships, or disappointment with the Greens’ claim not to support polyamorous marriage.

I don’t think for an instant that any of these Senators are savvy enough to google us, I would expect that Higgins was still stalking us online, hence the comment regarding Polyamory in the News, which James commented on, he wasn’t quoted in the article.

Ok, so why am I dragging out all this dusty history from 2012?

Today Abetz opened his mouth regarding the joint party (Liberal/Labor) Private Members Bill regarding Marriage Equality, as this is an issue that isn’t going away any time soon, and Ireland and the USA have now legalised same-sex marriage (which just looks weird as something to type out – because marriage shouldn’t be illegal, but I digress). Abetz is quoted in the Guardian as stating:

Senior Abbott government minister Eric Abetz has suggested legalising same-sex marriage could open a “Pandora’s box” of legalising other unions, including polyamory.

Abetz called on frontbench colleagues to take “the honourable course of action” and quit their leadership positions if they were unable to support the Liberal party’s “long-established policy” of upholding marriage between a man and a woman. And he suggested the change would trigger subsequent calls to allow marriages between three or more people.

“To try to change the definition now will open a Pandora’s box because if you undo the insitution [sic] of marriage by redefining it for the latest movement or the latest fad you will open a Pandora’s box for all sorts of other potential possibilities,” he told Sky News on Thursday.

Asked to be specific, Abetz said: “Polyamory, clearly – well, polyamory is one of those. That has now been promoted not only to Australian Senate committees but it has been commented on and pursued in Holland, in Scandinavia, in the United States, so let’s not be under any illusion that once you start unpicking the definition of marriage there will be other consequences.”

The interviewer, Kieran Gilbert, said: “So you’re suggesting that it would be legalising multiple spouses, is that what you’re suggesting, that that’s a prospect?”

Abetz replied: “No, no, no, no; look, don’t try and verbal me. What I said was that if you undo the definition you then open up a Pandora’s box and if you say that it is no longer an instiution [sic] between one man and one woman you then do open up a Pandora’s box.

“Indeed, dissenting judges in the United States and elsewhere have referred to that possibility, so what I am saying is not something new. It is something that many people around the world have said and we have in fact witnessed it.”

He also suggested it was the “Asian century”, yet Asian countries had not embraced same-sex marriage.

When Gilbert questioned the comparison, given Australia also differed from many Asian countries on the issue of capital punishment, Abetz accused the media of championing the cause of same-sex marriage rather than allowing “a proper, appropriate debate”.

Abetz added: “I detect that the Australian people are getting a bit sick and tired of the one-way traffic that is being promoted by Australia’s media.”

So much fail, in so little airtime.

A) Poly people did not insert themselves into the 2012 Senate Committee on Marriage Equality, Abetz, Cash and the other dude went and found polyamory and shoved it in there on their own.  The Australian’s coverage of poly news at that time (see the Poly In The News link above) was solely to get Polyamory into the political consciousness so that they had a good reason to dissent against marriage equality at the time other than writing “we’re queerphobic bigots” 100 times.

B) Poly people aren’t clamouring for marriage recognition, and are unlikely to do so any time soon.  Even if they did, I don’t understand why this would be a good reason to deny people in monogamous committed same-sex relationships to marry now.  You could always put in a thing about monogamy if that really concerns you.

C) Abetz really is a complete cock weasel. Actually that might not be fair, a cock weasel actually sounds like a cool idea.  Abetz is a complete and utter arsehat.

* An aside – the Family Law Act of something something, actually recognises multiple relationships in the event of a divorce or separation – so that those couples that have separated but cannot divorce (ie one is missing, offshore and can’t be contacted, etc), any future relationship that they are in can still be recognised for the purposes of separation of that subsequent relationship.  So the fact that I am legally married AND living with another partner, means that the Family Law Act probably already recognises my two relationships… isn’t that nice.

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Post apocalyptic story-telling

I consume a lot of post-apocalyptic stories, mostly in book format, but also in films and television.  Part of it is because I enjoy sf stories, and post-apocalyptic stories look to the future and what could happen to the world and there are elements of both science fiction and fantasy in doing that.  Part of it is also because I’m a cold war kid.

I grew up in Alice Springs, which is next door to the US and Australian intelligence base Pine Gap.  I grew up when the threat of nuclear warfare was real.  I grew up reading Children of the Dust, and it was more of a case of when the war would start than if.  This mindset is hard to shake, and so I am drawn to the stories people tell about what if the world we knew ended, and what would happen next.

That said, I’m glad most stories don’t focus on the actual transition from today’s world to the newly imagined world, because that isn’t pretty at all.  I watched bits of Under the Dome on TV, and it’s not nice to watch or read about people who need medication to stay alive suffer as their access to medication disappears, or when the water runs out and people start dehydrating or drinking unsafe water, or when food sources disappear and people start starving, or when the social order we appreciate completely breaks down and those that are deemed easy prey are expendable.  I know that this happens today in many parts of the world, and it’s not what I want for anyone.

I won’t watch Under the Dome, or even The Walking Dead, because I don’t need that level of horror in my life, but it still fascinates me. What happens with race, gender and sexuality when the world we know today fractures and becomes something different?  Do the current biases and prejudices remain? (probably yes) Will people change for the better? (probably no).

Annalee Newitz doesn’t think that the rights that women have fought for and won in many countries around the world are necessarily guaranteed.

So what does that tell us about the future? As I said earlier, it can be a fairly depressing prospect. We see that women have gained freedom and lost it, over and over again. There is no smooth road from lack of freedom to total freedom. It is, as Le Tigre sang in relation to something related, “One step forward, five steps back.”

So why this post?  I want to review some of the books I’ve read recently, looking at how women, non-white people, disabled people and sexual minorities are represented, what ended the world today, and whether the future envisaged in those stories is one that I’d want to live in.

Stay tuned as I write over the next while posts about each of those books (when I’m focused and have time obviously).  All thoughts and recommendations of other books welcome.

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Mariella Frostrup should just stop talking about or to bisexuals

Apart from a UK TV personality and possibly an actor (see I’m not researching this piece much) really I don’t know who Mariella Frostrup is.  Oh ok, I’ll go and look her up.

So Mariella Frostrup, journalist and TV personality, apparently with one of the sexiest voices in the UK, wrote another “Dear Mariella” for The Observer/Guardian (according to the Guardian this appeared in both), and again tried to answer someone’s question about bisexuality.

It was an unmitigated disaster – again.  I don’t know what qualifications Mariella has for providing relationship advice, but she should steer clear of the bisexual community because I don’t think she even comes close to understanding bisexuality or being able to respond to someone’s questions without indulging in gross biphobia.

This weeks’ column was titled, “Should I tell my fiancée that I’m bisexual and had sex with her dad?“.

And right off the bat, that’s a really difficult question.  We haven’t even gone into the letter from the reader, who I’m going to call Neil for ease of reference.  That question does however sum up neatly Neil’s question, and my answer would be, “Only if you feel safe to do so, and only if you’re sure your fiancée already knows that her dad is bisexual/not straight, because you really don’t want to out him without his permission either.

Biphobia is a very real thing, I write about it a lot, and it is perpetuated as much by straight people as much as it is perpetuated by gay and lesbian people.  Biphobia doesn’t even have to be intentional, just like you can be unintentionally homophobic, racist, ablest, or sexist, you can be unintentionally biphobic, but when an entire community points this out to you, perhaps you should a) apologise and b) get educated.  As far as I am aware, Mariella has done neither of these things – so she’s rapidly approaching knowing that she’s biphobic.

Let’s look at some of the incredibly problematic responses from Mariella.  Her first paragraph is:

Are you for real? If so, life truly is stranger than fiction. The odds on such a coincidence occurring must be staggeringly high. Yet no matter how cataclysmic it now seems, this is really for the best. Entering into a marriage without a degree of honesty about who you are dooms the relationship to disaster from the outset. This isn’t just some little drunken overnight diversion, but a decade-long bisexual predilection that no doubt still exists. Surely your fiancée deserves to know the details of your sexual tastes?

First she starts up by doubting Neil’s experience.  Neil met his fiancée’s father at a cruising location.  There are not that many of them, queer people make up around 10% of the population, it’d be more surprising if Neil cruised and didn’t know his fiancée’s father if he also cruised.  Particularly if they live outside main cities.

Mariella suggests bisexuality might be a “drunken overnight diversion” instead of a genuine sexual orientation.

Then she uses “decade-long bisexual predilection”.  Predilection as in preference or special liking.  Mariella claims that Neil has a preference to be bisexual, not that he is bisexual, that he just has a preference for it.  You can have a preference for types of people, types of food, holiday destinations, political parties, music, etc, you don’t have a preference for who you are.

Also, to me predilection has negative connotations, it’s often used when referring to men with unacceptable (socially or legally) sexual preferences.  Bisexual just is, it is not a preference, it is a person’s sexual identity.

Bisexuality also is not a “sexual taste”, it’s a sexual orientation.  We know that Neil has been actively bisexual for 10 years, that most of his partners have been women versus men (which is not surprising as there are more straight than queer people), but does his fiancée “deserve” to know?  That’s a really hard question to answer, and really it depends a lot on how safe Neil feels in his relationship.  Yes he’s engaged, but there are many reasons why he may have become engaged and he may not feel safe about telling his fiancée everything about him.  Honesty is good, but not necessarily at the risk of Neil’s safety.

You are who you are, and embracing a new lifestyle doesn’t render your past inconsequential. Are you so confident that you have been reinvented and that this chapter isn’t just on pause? There’s no reason for you to discount your bisexuality if you choose a partner who’s equally fluid about their sexual predilections or comfortable with yours.

At no point is Neil embracing a new lifestyle.  Neil is bisexual, marrying someone does not make you a different sexual orientation.  Only when someone says that their sexuality has changed does it change.  Neil is not reinventing himself, he is committing to monogamy with his fiancée, that’s what people tend to do, regardless of their sexual orientation.  People commit to relationships because it makes them happy.

If you really do care for this woman, she deserves to know the man she is marrying and to be allowed to make her decision about her future based on full disclosure. That doesn’t mean you need to focus on the details (such as the dalliances with her father), but you should fill her in her as delicately as you can on your previous sexual history. We live in far more tolerant times and there are plenty of people out there who wouldn’t see bisexuality as any barrier to a committed union. I can’t promise it won’t change her feelings toward you but that, too, may be a relief in the long term.

I think we can all agree, given that Neil is engaged to this woman and has referred to her as “the woman of his dreams” that he cares for her.  Pulling the “if you really do care…” bullshit goes back to the stereotype of bisexuals being unable to commit, and unable to be honest – where the problem often is that honesty can lead to harm.

Despite Mariella’s claim that we live in “more tolerate times” and that “there are plenty of people out there who wouldn’t see bisexuality as any barrier to a committed union” it is fairly evident that she herself doesn’t see herself in that place.  And to be honest, biphobia is a huge problem, I have heard too many stories of people being honest with partners and potential partners, and then that person being horrified and wanting to have nothing to do with them.

Mariella doesn’t offer Neil any comfort or practical solutions.  She throws biphobic stereotype after bisexual stereotype at him and expects that that is all she has to do.  She doesn’t suggest that Neil find the nearest bisexual community and talk to them about their experiences, and seek their support.  She leaves him high and dry, suggesting that there is a moral high ground here that he should attempt to obtain regardless of his own safety.

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Welcome to the 83rd Down Under Feminist Carnival

Hello and welcome to the Down Under Feminist Carnival – a carnival celebrating feminist writers of Australia and New Zealand, and their posts written in March 2015.  I hope you enjoy this carnival as much as I enjoyed putting it together.  Thanks to Chally, Mary, Scarlett, Cat, Ju, Ana and Sanch for making submissions to the carnival.

I’ve grouped the posts that have been submitted to me and that I have found into categories for ease of reference (and ease of putting this all together for me).  If I have miscategorised something, or if you notice any errors, please let me know.

You should also consider volunteering to host a carnival yourself if you’re a feminist in Australia or New Zealand.  It’s not too difficult, and I will help you by sending you posts of interest.  You can volunteer here.

International Women’s Day & Women’s History Month

So March sees International Women’s Day, and Scarlett at The Scarlett Woman writes, “International Women’s Day: Why I’m a Bad Feminist, or Women Can Be Misogynists, Too.

I could be accused of being a “bad feminist” for the assertion I’m about to make. After all, feminists are supposed to support all women, right? Even women doing unfeminist things, like Sarah Palin, or women in traditionally male dominated industries, like Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer, and who throw feminism under the bus.

But in my experience women can be misogynists, too. And as I write this I’m thinking of one woman in particular.

Jennifer Wilson writes, “I don’t effing care if you call yourself a feminist or not.“:

I have a dream. In my dream every woman with a public voice just for once refuses these speaking and writing engagements and instead throws her weight behind a National Day of Mourning on March 8, for the women world-wide, and particularly in Australia because this is our homeland where we can best have influence, who are murdered and abused by intimate partners, as well as the children who witness and suffer.

I have a dream that if women with a public voice do accept speaking and writing engagements on this, our one fucking day of the entire fucking year, they will agree to speak out all day long about domestic violence, government responsibilities, and the safety and protection of women and children, and nothing else.

Commonwealth Writers hosted feminists from Commonwealth Nations for March.  Anne Else who also writes for The Hand Mirror and Elsewoman wrote, “Why are we still here?”, and Ella Henry, a Maori academic wrote, “What have we really achieved?”.

gillpolak wrote and hosted an entire series of posts in March for Women’s History Month, and as I can’t just pick two, I’m going to link to her LiveJournal and you can read them at your leisure.

Media and women

Scarlett Harris writes at Junkee, “Forget The ‘Angry Black Woman’ Problem; Does Shonda Rhimes Have a Mistress Problem?“:

Scandal and HTGAWM avoid the “lazy black woman” trope, as Phoebe Robinson writes in a recent issue of Bitch magazine, by ensuring her black female characters have stable careers — but something’s gotta give, and that would be their love lives. Vulture’s TV critic Margaret Lyons echoed this sentiment on their debut TV podcast: “There’s nothing exciting about having your shit together.”

Scy-Fy interviews Alisa Krasnostein, Alexandra Pierce, and Tansy Rayner Roberts about their podcast Galactic Suburbia.

Carly Findlay writes, “Encountering plagiarism of my own work“:

I googled an article I’d written (to reference it for something else) and found my work plagiarised.

A disability organisation plagiarised my article. This is the second disability organisation in two weeks to steal that article (it was the article about disability and fashion) – and the third time a disability organisation has taken my work. (And it’s happened to my friends too.) While there was a link to Daily Life below the text, there was no link to my blog and the format of the article made it look like I had written for that organisation.

Generally my editor takes care of plagiarism but this time I called the organisation. The organisation was surprised to hear from me and the woman on the phone didn’t know what to say.

A.C. Buchanan writes, “Notes on Reconnaissance and the need for harassment policies at SF Conventions“:

This is one of those posts I’d rather not have to write. It’s about requesting a harassment policy to be put in place for Reconnaissance (The 36th New Zealand National Science Fiction Convention) and what followed. I’m writing it partly to provide a record for others, partly because some people know part of but not the whole story, and because I really don’t want to see anything like this happen again, and so want future convention organisers – and attendees – to be really mindful of it.

Terry Pratchett died and Mary at Hoyden About Town wrote, “In memoriam: Terry Pratchett, and a Discworld reading history“:

I then read many of the Discworld books in whatever order I came across them in my friends’ libraries (the ebook era would win here!), so I met the witches about halfway through in Lords and Ladies and was perpetually disappointed that it turned out to be about halfway through. I always wanted to know the end of Magrat’s story, when she finally, inevitably (in my opinion!) outgrows Granny and they both know it. (Apparently I always trust the designated irritating woman to grow up to win.) And what will Esmerelda the Younger become?

Celeste Liddle at Rantings of an Aboriginal Feminist wrote, “Impostor syndrome and its manifestations“:

It was when someone said to me that I had “impostor syndrome” that I gained a bit of awareness into what was going on in my head. The idea that someone can believe they are worthy of less space due to their position in society is something women come across all the time. And it is socially reinforced. I mean, the fact that it’s a big deal that QandA actually had an all-women panel FINALLY because they have shown time and time again that women’s voices are not as necessary (think re: their domestic violence panel) is just crazy. The fact that Catherine Deveny could have been criticised for dominating the space and interupting when she actually didn’t is even more crazy. Women are not entitled to take up space in the same way that men are according to society, and we see this played out over and over again. Whether it’s women talking in a board meeting or walking home alone, it’s the same thing. It needs to stop. Men need to create the space and not judge the comments of women as being less worthy, as being biased, as being non-neutral.

Cranky Ladies of History wrote a post on International Women’s Day about their book and particular cranky ladies, “CRANKY LADIES OF HISTORY: A story about the story you won’t see (and why that’s okay)“:

In December 2013 I saw that Fablecroft had sent out a call for proposals for their Cranky Ladies Anthology. I’d been stuck in a creative quagmire and depressed and one thing I had learned was that if you feel stuck do something in service of people or things you like. Then it isn’t about you, it is about the work, it is about service and you will push yourself harder and won’t give up. I like Fablecroft and I liked their concept, so I checked them out.

Scanning through the list and thinking about what wasn’t on the list I swiftly decided that Oodgeroo Noonuccal needed to be in the anthology. I had fallen in love with her poetry in high school, its ferocity, tenderness and politics. She had an unflinching power that created space for all the motions, space for anger, despair, fighting spirit and a wry sense of humour. I feel like through her work I experienced one of my first role models of a balanced fighter. She was someone who was an activist, but did not let the consuming nature of the fight tear her apart. She was a whole human being.

Ana Stevenson, an Australian citizen finishing her PhD in history at The University of Queensland, and currently a Visiting Scholar at the University of Pittsburgh, submitted her post, “Belle, Books, and Ballot: The Life and Writing of Nineteenth Century Reformer Lillie Devereux Blake (1833-1913)“:

These early novels were influenced by the sentimental literature of the era, but they also challenged the literary conventions with which this genre was associated. Echoing Laura Curtis Bullard’s Christine; or Woman’s Trials and Triumphs (1856) and Frances Ellen Watkins Harper’s “The Two Offers” (1858), Southwold and Rockford demonstrate the consequences of ill-suited marriages. In addition, these novels featured a plethora of complex female protagonists and experimented with challenging heroines. Medora, Southwold’s defiant heroine, explicitly embarks upon securing a lucrative marriage when faced with destitution. Zella Dangerfield, a character in a later novel, Forced Vows; or, A Revengeful Woman’s Fate (1870), had “an American girl’s independent spirit”; in demonstrating that “coercion was not for her,” however, Zella was perfectly happy coercing others.[5] Personally, Lillie believed marriage should be “an equal partnership with no thought of mastership on either side,” and she found this with second husband Grinfill Blake, whom she married in 1866.[6] Blake’s growing literary focus on marriage and women’s rights, and the fertile storytelling these themes provided, belied her developing interest in women’s suffrage.

Wendy Harmer writes at The Hoopla, “THE HOOPLA … LAST DRINKS! ALLEY OOP!“:

It is with sadness that co-founder of The Hoopla, Jane Waterhouse and I tell you that this will be the last edition of The Hoopla in its present incarnation.

From today we will be presenting a “best of ” from our archives and then ceasing publication altogether very soon.

For almost four years The Hoopla has taken great pride in bringing you the best in opinion writing and the daily news seen through the eyes of Australian women. “Smart with heart,” has been our motto. Always independent. Calling it without fear or favour.

Since 2011, The Hoopla has published some 5,000 articles, 300 writers and more than 100,000 of your incisive and thoughtful comments – and has been very proud to do so. Thank you all for taking a seat in our Big Top to watch the daily acrobatics and spectacle.

Bodies

Cat Pause at Friend of Marilyn writes, “On fitting in (t-shirts and stuff)“:

Throughout my life, I have loved music. I love listening to music, I love making music. I love live music especially. I love the energy of the crowd, and getting to see the performers in person; catching the occasional unguarded moment. In all my years attending concerts, however, I’ve been denied the opportunity to be the audience member sporting a tour T (or, Madonna forbid, a T from the last tour). Merchandise booths never carry sizes I can wear; they rarely go past a 2x. I still stand in line though, picking out a programme or a keychain – something tangible I can keep with me or gift to others. And I still ask, ‘What is the largest size you have?’ of the t-shirt or hoodie that catches my eye while I wait in the queue.

At one particular show in Dallas a few years back, an amazing thing happened. The concert hoodie went up to a 5x. I couldn’t believe it. It made my mind race – how have I missed this before? HAVE I missed this before? I decided that I hadn’t, because I’m always looking for clothes in my size. Even when I know it’s for naught, I keep looking (the result of an emerging adulthood devoid of fashion options). Perhaps as fat concert goers get louder about what we want, marketers are beginning to pay attention (it is one of the golden rules of capitalism, right? Sell the people what they want?) It may also be gendered – larger sizes are made with men in mind, and the hoodie I bought was definitely masculine. I didn’t wear it that night, but I do wear it often, and I experience a bit of glee each time. It makes me feel delightfully normal (but that’s another story for later).

Jackie Wykes and Cat Pause write at The Conversation (with some really beautiful photos), “The ‘dancer’s body’ is fat: Force Majeure’s Nothing to Lose“:

This is not to dismiss those conversations entirely; normative ideas about health, beauty, and self-esteem have very real implications for material bodies, after all. They create a culture in which fat people’s very right to exist is contingent on whether or not we can approximate normative ideas closely enough to be deemed acceptable by the mainstream.

But even then, such acceptance is always contingent; never full membership, this is a visitor’s pass a best.

Blunt Shovels writes, “All about able women“:

I wondered how they could dismiss the one in five women who have a disability. I wondered if they knew any of the kick-arse disabled women I knew, and start collecting a list, just to be helpful. Women who work in advocacy, women with experiences of living in institutions, women who use wheelchairs or sign language, women who write, women who dream, women who love. Surely I was mistaken, and I would hear from the curators before too long.

I was told I needed to ask about accessibility in private, out of the public eye. Perhaps I am not part of the public? A disabled woman couldn’t possibly be made welcome by publicising how easy it would be for her to take part. That was quickly fixed, but I wondered why it had taken some minor Facebook agitation to make it happen.

Kath at Fat Heffalump writes, “Each and Every One Of Us“:

No fat person is unacceptable in fat activism.  It is important that when we take up the challenge of demanding dignity and respect for fat people, we need to include ALL fat people, especially those people who aren’t considered “valuable” to society.  Because human value isn’t about being pretty or fashionable or worthy.  All humans, by right of their existence, are valid, valuable people.  Fat people shouldn’t have to prove that they “contribute to society” to be included in fat activism.

Parenting and families

Boganette writes, “Thank you“:

I had a terrible pregnancy. I vomited every day for 25 weeks. Then I vomited every second or third day for the rest of my pregnancy. But my midwife was always there with me. She cheered us on. She kept me excited even when I was exhausted and overwhelmed. She more than tolerated my tears of frustration in her office. She was more than my midwife, she was my counsellor too.

I felt so guilty that I had wanted a baby for so long but I absolutely hated pregnancy. I didn’t feel in touch with my body, I couldn’t stop puking, I felt unhealthy, exhausted, overwhelmed, I sure as fuck wasn’t glowing. She was so patient and caring and gentle with me. She always made me feel like I was strong and she gave me so much confidence. She never denied my feelings.

Stephanie Convery writes at The Guardian, Comment is Free, “Don’t be fooled by the language of ‘choice’. Deregulation is bad for women“:

Children are not commodities, but a predominantly privatised childcare sector cannot help but treat them that way. Child/carer ratios exist to provide a safe and attentive environment in which to appropriately support children’s development, learning and socialisation. The importance of qualifications for workers in the sector reflects the importance of children being supervised by workers who are adequately trained. But the wholesale deregulation of the industry will drive down quality of care by bringing in lower-skilled workers. It will also drive down wages for the (mostly female) workforce, and there is no evidence to show that it will have any effect on lowering the cost of childcare at all.

Shae at Free Range in Suburbia writes, “Missing out“:

So we signed up for all of the things the kids wanted to do and tried to squeeze in some set bookwork time. We went on all the camps we could, all the meet ups, all the play dates. We have spent this term running around and now I see what we are really missing out on.

Free time.

QUILTBAG (queer, undecided, intersex, lesbian, trans*, bisexual, asexual, gay)

Brocklesnitch writes, “David v Goliathomophobia“:

Some of the reaction to this, like the reaction to the suspension of the rugby league player, was disheartening. Pocock has been accused by certain people of grandstanding, attention seeking, or horror of horrors – placing his morals above the untouchable game of Rugby.  As if that isn’t exactly the kind of thing we should be applauding athletes for. As if professional team sport doesn’t often foster sexism, sexual assault, homophobia, and violence against women. As if we shouldn’t be encouraging athletes to be decent humans, as well as good at sport. Part of this is not only NOT being sexist, racist, or homophobic yourself, but also saying something when you see it happening. All Pocock did is walk the walk, after football codes have been talking the talk for a long time about trying to combat homophobic culture.

Chrys Stevenson writes at Gladly the Crossed-Eyed Bear, “Christians Supporting Equal Marriage“:

On a day when it’s just been announced that the Senate supports the call for a conscience vote on marriage equality , I think it’s very appropriate to remind ourselves that the majority of Australian Christians  (and those of other faiths) are not homophobic. Most Christians support marriage equality, and politicians like Fred Nile, political parties like Family First and Rise Up Australia, and lobby groups like the Australian Christian Lobby represent only a fringe group of right-wing fundamentalists.

Race and Racism

Stephanie at No Award writes, “indigenous business: bundarra sportswear“:

There is some crap going on, and it’s all important, but maybe you’re thinking about how you want to do something that’s not rallies and writing to your local member. And that’s okay! So once a week here at No Award, we’re going to showcase an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander thing. “Thing” is a bit inexact, but we don’t want to limit ourselves – we’re talking businesses and not for profits and designers. Things. We here at No Award still want you talking about injustices and and rallying if you can! But things are important, too. (If you can think of a good name for these posts, please let us know)

Megpie71 writes at Hoyden About Town, ““Country”“:

This is part of why I feel angry and upset about the WA state government’s decision to close a number of remote communities.  I would not want to push that feeling of displacement, of always being in the wrong place, on anyone else.  It would be a wrongness, an evil, a wicked thing to do.  I am angry the government of Western Australia is doing this in my name.  I am upset the Premier, Colin Barnett, is implicitly claiming he has the support of white Western Australians to do this.  His government does not have my support, or my consent.

Natasha Guantai writes at Overland, “‘Are there Black people in Australia?’“:

My experience of being Black in Australia is also different from that of migrants of African descent who were born in other white-dominated countries such as the US or UK. I have not been racialised as Black within the context of another country. There are Aboriginal people who tell me that they use ‘Black’ as a way of highlighting their experiences as a result of, and in contrast with, white Australia. Similarly, I am Black primarily due to my relation to white Australia. My experience, while obviously different from that of Indigenous Australians, is nevertheless of an Australian Blackness.

Celeste Liddle at Rantings of an Aboriginal Feminist wrote, “Parliament House is an unviable political community“:

Finally, the educational services they’ve provided just seem to be diminishing and it’s clear that this government is simply unable to keep a higher education sector properly funded, maintained and running.

Feminism

Celeste Liddle and Roxanne Gay were interviewed on ABC Radio National in, “I’m a feminist, but….

It’s so good to see the Boganette blogging again.  In this she writes, “Accepting help“:

I now know that accepting help is so important. When I started accepting help (or at least trying to) I stopped feeling so overwhelmed. I stopped feeling so isolated. I stopped feeling so scared. So alone. It’s really, really hard to ask for help. Harder than it is to accept I reckon. So when it’s offered – take it, even if it feels weird.

And if you’re in a position to help a new mum, maybe just give her stuff (especially if it’s food) even if she doesn’t expressly ask for it. It can be hard to get past that “I don’t want to be a pain” reflex that a lot of women have. Women are taught to always be the provider, to always help instead of being helped. It can be really hard to overcome all that social conditioning to allow someone else to look after you. I’m grateful to my friends who just said “I’ve made you some dinner, when can I bring it over?”

Rachel Hills writes, “Who does she think she is? (Part deux.)“:

As of the last couple of months, though, I don’t have to ask any more. I get it now. Right now, I ask people to pay attention to my work every day: always sending out emails, setting up coffees, forever dreaming up ideas for possible collaboration, partnership, ways of spreading of the message. Because now, finally, I am at a point where my desire to share what I’ve created outweighs my fear of overstepping an invisible line by asking people to pay attention to it.

Mindy writes at Hoyden About Town, “Please don’t liken yourselves to Rosa Parks“:

Rosa Park’s actions, which went well beyond refusing to give up a seat on a bus and started well before that day, forced society to see black people as people deserving of a seat on the bus and as members of American society. Regardless of whether Tattersall’s finally do allow women to be members, it will still be a small number of elites who make the cut. Rosa Park’s was fighting for all black Americans, not a privileged few who enjoyed lifestyles and riches well beyond that of ordinary folk. To invoke her name for such a ridiculous reason, not to mention having no idea of either her history of that of the US civil rights movement*, diminishes her actions and the outcomes of her work.

Andie Fox writes at Daily Life, “Why are married couples afraid of the newly divorced?“:

I have not been longing for change or adventure – there is plenty of both when your life relationship comes to an end, and you follow that up with a few more relationships and break-ups. I have, instead, craved contentment. I thought that fixing or solving or finding or knowing would ease my mind but by the end of last year I finally saw that it was about comfort with self, and that this therefore wouldn’t be located outside, but within.

misc (I couldn’t think of a category and I liked these posts)

Steph at No Award writes about being a cyclist with, “reasons why i, a cyclist

Liz Barr at No Award writes “No Award’s Print, Cut ‘n’ Keep Folk Festival Bingo Card“:

Bless their peace-loving hearts, but the only thing worse than a hippie is an upper-middle-class suburban hippie wannabe.  Think the Morgendorffers.  Think Homer Simpson’s mother, although she was actually pretty great and who wouldn’t leave Grandpa Simpson?  Yes, all of our examples are cartoons, but that doesn’t change the fact that any folk festival is going to contain at least some of the following…

Violence (The posts in this section carry trigger warnings for violence)

Scarlett at The Scarlett woman writes an indepth discussion regarding the WWE’s lauding of men convicted of violent crimes against woman, but won’t induct into the hall of fame a woman who is now working in the sex industry, in “World Wrestling Entertainment Will Never #GiveDivasaChance As Long As It Prioritises Bad Men.

Austin also asked Levesque if he thought Chyna—a pioneer in the world of wrestling, both women’s and otherwise—would be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. (Again, that’s a decision Levesque would have a lot of sway over.) Despite Chyna’s (real name: Joanie Laurer) status as Levesque’s ex-girlfriend, she’s also found a post-wrestling career in porn, which severely limits the likelihood of her induction. Levesque said:

“I’ve got an eight-year-old kid and my eight-year-old kid sees the Hall of Fame and my eight-year-old kid goes on the internet to look at, you know, ‘there’s Chyna, I’ve never heard of her. I’m eight years old, I’ve never heard of her, so I go put that in, and I punch it up,’ and what comes up? And I’m not criticising anybody, I’m not criticising lifestyle choices. Everybody has their reasons and I don’t know what they were and I don’t care to know. It’s not a morality thing or anything else. It’s just the fact of what it is. And that’s a difficult choice. The Hall of Fame is a funny thing in that it is not as simple as, this guy had a really good career, a legendary career, he should go in the Hall of Fame. Yeah… but we can’t because of this reason. We can’t because of this legal instance.”

Helen Pringle writes at ABC Religion, “Disempowered Men? Tanveer Ahmed and the ‘Feminist Lynch Mob’“:

As he waded, Ahmed says, he was “treated to an orgy of abuse, threats and complete mis-representation.” Nurses at his hospital took him aside to ask him how he was doing, articles and letters were published on the net in support of him, unnamed (because trembling presumably) academics approached him on the sly to share how difficult it is to speak openly about “this issue” and Dr Ahmed was invited to speak at a Toronto conference “all expenses paid.” To be sure, all this so very much resembles the “high-tech lynching for uppity blacks, who in any way deign to think for themselves” shamelessly cited by (Justice) Clarence Thomas when he was asked to explain his behaviour towards Anita Harris.

Astha Rajvanshi writes about students who have survived domestic violence at Honi Soit, “Behind Closed Doors“:

The students I interviewed for this article share two things in common: they are all women, and they have all endured long-term abuse, social stigma, and shame from people they loved.

I suppose if I were to try and make sense of it all, these are the 1 in 3 women across all socio-economic backgrounds who tolerate, on average, 35 assaults before telling someone about it. They are an extension of the 950,000 young Australian women who reported in 2005 that they had been sexually assaulted before the age of 15; of the one in four children who witnessed violence against their mothers or carers; the 22% of women under 20 who have experienced dating violence.

Jennifer Wilson at No Place for Sheep writes, “Vale all the dead women. IWD 2015“:

I’d attend a dawn candlelight memorial service for women and children all over the world murdered by violent partners, but I don’t think that’s caught on as an International Women’s Day ritual. It’s alarming that it hasn’t, really. So, at the risk of raining on the self-congratulatory feminist talk-fest parade, here’s where my thoughts are at, and who IWD ought to be for.

No celebratory event should begin today without first acknowledging the women and children who’ve died, and those who live and suffer often for their whole lives, from the violence perpetrated against them.

LudditeJourno writes at The Hand Mirror, “Three Strikes, you’re out NZ Police“:

The Police need reform, they need improvements in sexual violence practice to be measured and reported on, they need more training.  They need to take sanctions against officers who treat sexual violence so cavalierly – if they want this to stop being a systemic problem.  Top quality investigation of sexual violence cases need to be a key performance indicator at a District level, so the hierarchy take it seriously.  Until their officers actually understand and implement the law, they should be reporting on their improvements to an impartial group which has the power to hire and fire.

LudditeJourno also writes at the Hand Mirror, “Undoing rape culture, one sports field at a time“:

Men consistently overestimate other men’s use of and support for gendered violence.  Related to this, men consistently underestimate other men’s willingness to stand up to gendered violence, which limits their own willingness to intervene.  Put together, these two planks of what men think masculinity means make it harder for men to stand up to other men when they behave badly.

Mindy writes at Hoyden About Town, “‘It’s my right to get hellish’…Orly?“:

The singer claims a right to act ‘hellish’, whatever that means, because he still gets jealous. I don’t believe jealousy gives you any rights actually, apart from the right to STFU and deal with your own shit. The relationship between the person who he is getting jealous over and himself is never clear. Is he husband/boyfriend/partner or ex/stalker/fan for whom the distinction between friends and fans does not exist? Even the film clip doesn’t make it any clearer. He doesn’t like how this person posts stuff on social media, he admits to being possessive, passive aggressive and puffing out his chest to defend what he sees as his territory. All this in a pop song. On high rotation. The overtones of control and violence are really worrying.

 

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