Of course, every age has had its share of dinosaurs. And, as I contemplated the ridiculous sight of Piers Akerman channelling fellow fossil, Corey Bernardi on the Insiders, it occurred to me that, in a different age, Piers Akerman would have been making similarly ridiculous arguments about other issues.
For example, Piers, arguing that “…if you can have all of the social benefits of a civil union without calling it marriage, why do you want to go that extra step?” reminded me of the dinosaurs who argued against those new-fangled horseless carriages. Why would you want a motor vehicle when you can have a perfectly good horse?
Herndon became instantly famous in nerdy economics circles this week as the lead author of a recent paper, “Does High Public Debt Consistently Stifle Economic Growth? A Critique of Reinhart and Rogoff,” that took aim at a massively influential study by two Harvard professors named Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff. Herndon found some hidden errors in Reinhart and Rogoff’s data set, then calmly took the entire study out back and slaughtered it. Herndon’s takedown — which first appeared in a Mike Konczal post that crashed its host site with traffic — was an immediate sensation. It was cited by prominent anti-austerians like Paul Krugman, spoken about by incoming Bank of England governor Mark Carney, and mentioned on CNBC and several other news outlets as proof that the pro-austerity movement is based, at least in part, on bogus math.
I took a look at my body in the mirror this morning, just to make sure everything was where I’d left it, and indeed, everything appeared to be. Every now and then I like to do that, you know. One thing I noticed about my body, and something I think about rather a lot, actually, is that my eyes and teeth appear to be rather firmly and permanently part of it. I mean, I guess I couldn’t have been looking at my body at all if I had no eyes, so obviously those came factory installed in my case, but when I opened my mouth, lo and behold, a set of choppers loomed at me and I was reminded that I needed to brush my teeth.
Yet, health insurance companies as well as government health care programmes seem to believe this is not actually the case, that eyes and teeth are either not part of your body, or are optional upgrades. Extras that you can pay more for if you want them, but aren’t supported under warranty, so to speak. Like, okay, we’ll insure your smartphone, but if something happens to the special bluetooth headset you bought to go with it, don’t come whining to us, because that’s not our responsibility.
Most of us could never imagine being nondisabled, and the daily hardship that comes with it; little Billy Jo is really such an inspiration with his courage and bravery every day, let alone with his bold dream of becoming a dancer. Just looking at him is a reminder that there are so many special people among us who have been sent to bless us and teach us. Billy Jo is a lesson in tolerance and he’s sending such a great message to other nondisabled children like him who have a chance to see that it’s possible to achieve great things if you try hard enough.
The lies seem to be stacking up, but there are also, of course, questions of ethics and integrity — such as how does a staffer that physically threatens another person and then offers to be a spy for a prominent journalist get to keep his job at all?
And, even more importantly, what cuts to funding for Indigenous programmes are planned under a Coalition Government. Given some of our previous reports, Abbott’s true commitment towards Indigenous affairs must be drawn into question — Roberts’ statements compound these concerns.
None of these questions appear to have been asked by Australia’s dormant mainstream media.
Needless to say, the aftermath of 9/11 did not yield much thoughtful consideration on the part of the mainstream punditry as to the context for such events. According to one prominent narrative, 9/11 was simply evidence of an inherent and unfounded Muslim hatred of the West.
A notable exception was veteran British journalist Robert Fisk. In an article published in The Nation immediately following the attacks, Fisk issued the following prescient warning:
“[T]his is not really the war of democracy versus terror that the world will be asked to believe in the coming days. It is also about US missiles smashing into Palestinian homes and US helicopters firing missiles into a Lebanese ambulance in 1996 and American shells crashing into a village called Qana and about a Lebanese militia – paid and uniformed by America’s Israeli ally – hacking and raping and murdering their way through refugee camps.”
This is a difficult topic for me to find the right language for. I do not feel that there are labels that really encapsulate my identity. “Gay” is too focused on sexual orientation and does not help me to make sense of those aspects of my gender that are variant and non-conforming. “Man” does not really adequately describe me either, and it’s a category and label I have a lot of discomfort with. I do not identify as transgender because I feel that to do so would be appropriative. I also do not care much about recognition (people seeing and identifying me as man) or misrecognition (typically people hearing me and identifying me as a woman, or just randomly calling me “ma’am” or “she/her”) as far as gender is concerned—though I do despise being identified as heterosexual because I am a white male-bodied person (this often happens online, people assume that because I am white and male-bodied that I must therefore be straight as well). I do not identify as cisgender because my gender identity does not match “man,” the gender normatively assigned to my male body. I did come across the term “demiguy,” which vaguely seems to capture my feelings, though I think any association I have with masculinity is because I’m outwardly conforming in appearance in many ways—it’s not because I identify with masculinity in any meaningful way.
This is why I have begun to define myself simply as queer. I have what would be considered a normative male body, but my gender identity is not normative. And it continues changing as I live my life. Part of the impetus for this piece has been the ending of a three-year relationship in which I often felt trapped and judged to the extent that I shaped my behavior to be more conforming than I had previous to the relationship. The sudden, abrupt ending of that relationship turned my world upside down. But it also gave me an opportunity to take stock. In a lot of ways, I was not being true to the self I had finally come to accept before entering that relationship. Now, three years later, I’m re-discovering who I am, what I value, and starting to make sense of my inner dialogue.
So, are you normal? Are you average? Yes. No. Most likely. It turns out that there is so much variation among female anatomy that doctors, surgeons, and researchers find it difficult to define exactly what normal is – or even if it exists. And a few at least have been trying.
A beautiful animated short called Caldera which I strongly recommend watching.
I was also subsequently advised by others on Twitter that I should have the phrase “proud Aussie” in my Twitter profile, rather than “proud Refugee.” I use this phrase in my profile, not because I am an ungrateful Aussie, but because I want to demonstrate that refugees are educated and active participants in our community. Ultimately, I want to help change perceptions. Moreover, if my actions don’t demonstrate my gratitude, how would a label somehow do the trick? And why must I assert my level of Australianness every minute of the day? Excessive pride and racial hate speech should be viewed in the same manner – both are entirely unnecessary, really.
Since Friday, I’ve been overwhelmed by messages of support and compassion, and indeed by offers from strangers to help me. For every instance of abuse, there are many expressions of compassion and solidarity. Perhaps the one that has meant the most to me was from former Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser: “I am deeply sorry you had to experience that, some people are so insensitive and stupid, try not to let worry you.” Mr Fraser, of course has been especially vocal in recent times and spoken out about the plight of asylum seekers – if only some of our incumbent politicians shared and expressed his same convictions!
There’s been a lot said lately about how we’re talking about Boston and not so much about Iraq and Afghanistan. We’re wondering if one life is worth more than another in our current media cycle. But what’s behind our arguably disproportionate attention to the Boston bombings? Are we just suffering from an incapacity to care for more than our own?
There’s a conversation we’ve been trying to have about racism in the reporting of the Boston bombings. It’s the same conversation we try to have every time there’s a tragedy in the West that measured globally, barely tips the Richter scale of international disaster. We get started with this conversation, as Virginia Trioli recently tried to do, but it either gets brutally cut down or prematurely cut short. I think we’re having trouble following it through because the truth of why we seem to care more about Boston than about Kabul and Ramullah may just be too hard for us to swallow.
Violeta Politoff at New Matilda writes, “Why Media Gender Equality Matters”:
VicHealth has shown that among men, the most common predictor of the use of violence against women is their agreement with sexist, patriarchal, and/or sexually hostile attitudes. So based on this research it is clear that seeking gender equity in the media, where ideas are disseminated and reinforced, is integral to the prevention of violence against women.
In the research I’ve undertaken with Professor Jenny Morgan, we’ve found that, in spite of the importance of attitudes towards gender equity in the ongoing issue of violence against women, issues of gender are rarely discussed in the reporting.
The lack of context in the reporting of violence against women tended to make the violence appear only as an individual problem (a family or relationship problem) rather than also being part of a broader social problem. One consequence of individualising the issue is that it tends to erase gender from discussions of the dynamics of violence against women, even though attitudes towards gender play a central role in the ongoing problem.
The first major choice that players of BioShock Infinite are presented with is whether they would like to publicly punish an interracial couple or not. You may choose to throw a ball at the couple, who are tied up in front of a crowd at a fair, or you may choose to throw the ball at the man who is asking you to do so. The outcome of your choice is mostly the same.
Let’s think about that for a moment. BioShock Infinite, the game that many would hope to point to as an example of how art and subtlety might be found in expensive, mainstream videogames, sets up its moral stakes by asking the player if they would like to be a violent bigot.
These are the complex and difficult decisions found in videogames in 2013: would you like to be in the Ku Kux Klan or would you like to be Abraham Lincoln? Would you like to join the Nazi party or found the United Nations? Would you like to be for or against?
There is a clear message: Rock, Paper, Shotgun will never back down on the subject of sexism and misogyny (nor racism, nor homophobia, for that matter) in games, the games industry, and the games journalism industry. Good times are ahead – we can see them.
Many women are mistreated and misrepresented within the games industry. It’s not a matter of opinion, a political position, or claim made to reinforce previous bias. It’s the demonstrable, sad truth. Ask women in the games industry – find out. That you may not perceive it does not mean it doesn’t exist. That you may not perpetuate it doesn’t mean it isn’t relevant to you. Whether you are male or female or identify anywhere between does not exclude you nor repudiate you from the matter. The amount to which you think it doesn’t exist is directly proportional to the amount to which you do not care that it exists. If you don’t care that it exists, I hope you are willing to be open-minded enough to try to empathise with others that do – at least give that a go. And if you care passionately about it, and feel offended by the tone of this piece as if it doesn’t acknowledge you, then I apologise, and hope you understand why.
Although Australia experienced a rise in asylum applications, the total number of applications registered in Australia in 2012 was a modest 15,800 compared with the 355,500 claims received in Europe and the 103,900 received in North America. As information and research from Australia’s commonwealth parliamentary library shows, since 1999–2001, when Australia last experienced a surge in boat arrivals during the Howard Government, irregular maritime arrivals (IMA’s) lodging asylum claims have consisted primarily of people from Afghanistan followed by Iraq, Iran and Sri Lanka. However, Australia has not shouldered a significant amount of asylum flows from these countries—much higher numbers of asylum seekers from these countries have gone to the UK and other destination countries. In fact, as Guterres notes, none of the industrialised countries, Australia included, shoulder a significant amount of asylum seekers compared to the developing countries neighbouring most of the world’s conflict zones. The vast majority of asylum seekers are hosted in countries such as Pakistan, so the burden of assisting the world’s asylum seekers and refugees actually falls to some of the world’s poorest countries.
So what does this tell us about Australia’s hysteria around receiving 3% of the industrialized worlds asylum applications? (3% take note, is the amount of applications lodged, not the amount of visas granted). What this tells us is that other industrialised countries, and many more poor developing countries, take many more asylum seekers than we do in Australia, and that they deal with the situation much better. Take Sweden for example, who accepts nearly 3 times the number of asylum seekers per year than we do in Australia. In Sweden asylum seekers are welcomed, are assigned their own case worker and lawyer, are allowed freedom of movement and work rights, are allowed to live with friends or family, and are provided financial support and a housing allowance, all whilst their claims are processed in a maximum of 3 months. Sweden, it seems recognizes asylum seekers for what they are; everyday humans like you and I fleeing persecution.
Such spaces are far less visible in Australia, but even here more and more Muslims like Faruqi are speaking out against homophobia. One of the most high-profile young Muslim women, human rights activist Samah Hadid, caused a minor stir within her community when she told The Australian that she was “a passionate advocate for gay rights”. There is still a lack of friendly space for LGBT Muslims, but up-and-coming leaders like Hadid are willing to put in the hard work to create them. The idea that a Muslim politician must therefore take a homophobic policy stance does not reflect the worldview of many Muslims in Australia.
I do not expect to agree with all aspects of Faruqi’s political opinions just because we belong to the same religions — or because we belong to the same gender, come to that.
The second, and far more important reason (at least for me), why I embrace the word bisexual is that people perceive me and react to me very differently depending on whether the person I am coupled with is (or appears to be) a woman or a man.
In the hetero-mainstream, when I am paired with a man, I am read as straight; when I am paired with a woman, I am read as queer. In queer settings, when I am paired with a woman, I am read as lesbian/dyke/queer and viewed as a legitimate member of the community.
But when I am paired with a man (especially when the man in question is cisgender), then I am not merely unaccepted and viewed as an outsider, but I may even be accused of buying into or reinforcing the hetero-patriarchy.
So in other words, the “bi” in bisexual does not merely refer to the types of people that I am sexual with, but to the fact that both the straight and queer worlds view me in two very different ways depending upon who I happen to be partnered with at any given moment.
Members of Yemen’s Children’s Parliament may be young, but they serve as the first line of defence on children’s issues and can influence government policy.
Its members can summon ministers who handle children’s rights for questioning or make recommendations and submit them to the House of Representatives and the Shura Council for discussion.
The Children’s Parliament meets for three days every three months in one of parliament’s halls. Its members have the support and sponsorship of the president and the Yemeni Parliament.
Children’s Parliament in Yemen was established by the Democracy School, a grass roots organization in Yemen, which oversees parliament’s elections and organises its meetings. Its inaugural session was held in 2000.
Bigotry is often born out of fear and confusion at those whose identities we don’t understand. We fear that their difference reflects on our sameness, and in a rush to blanket ourselves in the comfort of conformity, we demonize their difference. Progressives often bemoan the bigotry underlying the policies and political positions of those on the right, but the sad truth is that bigotry exists even in progressive and feminist spaces. And nowhere is that more evident that in the transphobia, both latent and outright, that underwrites many facets of the feminist movement
Often, mainstream feminists simply avoid talking or writing about trans women. Trans woman and activist Sophia Banks emphasizes that while she identifies as a feminist, her experience within the feminist community has been largely mixed. “Intersectional feminists have been great but many radical feminists have been really hurtful towards me,” she says, highlighting that many feminists work within the confines of gendered language, and, perhaps unknowingly, operate from an assumption that cisgender women (cisgender means someone who identifies with the gender they were born with) are their target audience.
Any assumption that cisgender women are the only true women is a blatant form of bigotry. And honestly, it’s in direct violation of Feminism 101. After all, Simone De Beauvoir said more than half a century ago “One is not born, but rather becomes, a woman.”
Mary Thom, a chronicler of the feminist movement and former executive editor of Ms. magazine, died Friday in a motorcycle accident in Yonkers. She was 68 and lived in Manhattan.
The Women’s Media Center, where Ms. Thom was the editor in chief, announced her death. Ms. Thom joined Ms. magazine in 1972 as an editor, rising to become executive editor in 1990. She was known as a journalistic virtuoso who shaped the writing of many of the feminist movement’s luminaries, including Gloria Steinem.
Aboriginal actress Shareena Clanton will hit screens in Wentworth this week playing Doreen Anderson, a prisoner with a history of drugs, alcohol and abuse. Clanton is already well known from her role as Lilly in Redfern Now, another drug addict, this time with a psychiatric illness.
If you are sensing a theme here you’d be right and it’s impossible to ignore Clanton’s conclusion that the reason is simply racist typecasting. Casting directors take one look at her dark skin and cast her as a victim or a loser.
‘In the roles I get I’m always being beaten up, if not physically, then emotionally. I’m always a drug addict or I’ve been abused or I’m supposed to be this dumb Aborigine. Why can’t I be the secretary or the cop? Why can’t I just be the mother on the Kellogg’s commercial sending the kids off to school with breakfast?’
Pledging that “we must right these wrongs,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today denounced discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people, and declared that religion, culture and tradition can never be a justification for denying them their basic rights.
“Governments have a legal duty to protect everyone,” he said in a video message to the Oslo Conference on Human Rights, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, voicing outrage at the assault, imprisonment and murder of. LGBTs. “Some will oppose change. They may invoke culture, tradition or religion to defend the status quo.
“Such arguments have been used to try to justify slavery, child marriage, rape in marriage and female genital mutilation. I respect culture, tradition and religion – but they can never justify the denial of basic rights.”
Over the past few weeks, I’ve been both witness to and participant in a number of conversations around sex work, autonomy and feminism. A recent argument on Twitter had me baffled by one representative from a conservative feminist organisation in Australia, who trotted out the tired idea that sex work degrades and harms all women. Elsewhere, people have been rehashing the argument that the sex industry is a sort of Outland ghetto for traumatised drug addicts, abuse survivors and the mentally ill, all of whom are connected by the singular characteristic of having little to no self-esteem. We can pity them, but gosh wouldn’t we just hate for anyone we loved to be them?
Well no, I wouldn’t hate that actually. I have a number of friends and acquaintances who have either been or currently are sex workers. No doubt I know greater numbers of women still who may one day become sex workers. And I’m tired of seeing their lives denigrated because of how they choose to make money – as if taking off your clothes for a pre-arranged fee is somehow less honourable than working for a mining company or a tabloid magazine.
Demonising sex workers under the guise of “helping” them is simply a way of expressing puritanical snobbery. As an intellectual tool, it relies more on myths and prejudices than any real knowledge of the lives of sex workers.
It probably has something to do with the 26-year-old CEO’s views about the right way to build a company—which emphatically aren’t the views you’ll find at most startups around Silicon Valley. He thinks the lavish perks at many technology companies, especially the free on-campus meals, are a disguised form of mind control, designed to get employees to work 12- or 14-hour days.
That’s why there are no free dinners at Dropcam—around 6:00 pm the company shoos employees out the door to eat with their families. And here’s what else you won’t find at Dropcam: free services or products that trade on users’ attention or data to earn revenue; an engineering department full of young, single, childless males; and, according to Duffy, assholes of any description.
Anne asserts that polyamory isn’t for everyone. “You’ve got to really enjoy relating to people and spending time with them. You’re going to get confronted with a lot of your insecurities whether you like it or not. So if you’re not looking for personal growth, don’t bother.”
Having multiple relationships challenges what Hollyweird movie endings have instilled in us, rejecting the idea that one person can make you complete. “That’s what I love,” Anne exclaims. “You’re free to enjoy what is organically real about the relationship. You don’t have to make it anything else.”
Just so it is said, clearly and unambiguously: the Tsarnaev brothers are white guys. They are white. The FBI’s own wanted poster for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev lists his race as “white”, but you would never know it from the cover image on The Week.
Hold up the cover to someone else, and ask them how many white people they can see on the cover. Chances are they will identify Gabby Giffords on the top left and the image of the Boston policemen (all white men) on the top right, but how about those two guys in the center? Nope, not a chance that anyone would say these caricatures look white.
Why? Because in addition to being white they are also “Muslim”, which is the current dehumanizing “Other” label that whiteness has constructed as a sanctioned target for violence in US popular culture.
These opportunities also come with inbuilt limitations. English writer and activist Laurie Penny noted in a 2012 interview that the “first two articles I ever had commissioned by a major newspaper were about my experience of anorexia as a teenager and my brief stint as a burlesque dancer”. These pieces had followed on the heels of unsuccessful pitches of “any number of serious political pieces which didn’t have anything to do with me or my arse”.
Penny explained that “[y]oung women in particular have to work very hard to get into this industry, and it’s often a toss-up…between getting work and being taken seriously”.
Even existing on the most basic level has a price tag. The bottom of Maslow’s pyramid. You need to pay for a roof over your head, food to eat, electricity, water, healthcare; all of those things we took for granted as kids, assumed that they were just a given. You pay through the nose to keep on living. It seems that the poorer you get, the more you pay to keep on living. We all know this, and accept it as the status quo – that living, existing on the most human level comes with a price. After all, that’s why you have a job.
“I would urge us to ensure that six basic primary needs are met from resources within 100 miles around us. I call it the ’100 mile principle’. If food, shelter, clothing, primary education, primary healthcare and primary banking are locally produced and consumed, we will have the growth of a new holistic economy, that the world will sit up and take note of.”
Cat Williams guests posts at The Australian Independent Media Network with “stupid lefty whore“, where she discusses the value in knowing the arguments of the other side, and her experience of misogyny online.
So today Abbott has come out saying that he’s a changed man, that he’s grown and changed (recently) and that we shouldn’t judge him by comments he made 35 years ago. Ok, sure, I won’t judge Tony Abbott for comments he made 35 years ago, back when he was a dick, I’ll judge him for comments he’s said far more recently than that, which still show he’s still a dick.
Poll watching is the great spectator sport among Australian journalists, and there are polls just about every week measuring how people feel about X, Y, or Z. What these polls leave out (and what they have to leave out) is due to the mechanism of our representative democracy, how we-the-voters feel about issues doesn’t matter most of the time. It only matters on one day every three years – on election day, when we get to cast our votes. The rest of the time, it’s just noise, and no amount of opinion polls showing how concerned we are by $ISSUE are going to change the fact.
Personal politics this time and my blog post on “When it’s not about you” was nominated to be included in this month’s carnival:
So this is for those people who fail to consider other people before looking for their own emotional resolution. Those people who demand closure or their emotions handled when the epicentre of something bad happened to someone else they know. I do get that generally we are self centred individuals who think about our own suffering before others, but we should perhaps consider not opening our mouths when someone else has every reason to be suffering or grieving more than we do ourselves.
A couple of weeks ago my kids came home from school (a local state primary) with a letter asking whether I would like them to undertake Special Religious Instruction (SRI). No, I wouldn’t, I told the school – three times in heavily circled biro. It’s not the first time I’ve been asked this question and every time it really, really annoys me.
So much I could say. So much I could post. Though of course not all of it I would post. I could and probably should post about the NDIS/disabilityCare thing and the problems with that label, not to mention any of the other funding or UN Convention on the RIghts of people with disability implications. Or I could talk about the sense of disconnect I fear between the expectations placed on the NDIS and what I fear the outcomes will be, especially in terms of the expectation of being participatory human members of society. Not to mention our own expectation of this.
I am dyslexic. Dyslexia is more then reading things incorrectly. The words trip and tumble. There is a disconnect between my brain and what is intended to be said.I speed through sentences so that people don’t notice the incorrect words, the stammer, the confusion, the fear. Words have long been my enemy. Rather ironic that I have an Honours degree in Communications (Writing). People are unforgiving. They judge your intelligence based on your spelling, your pronunciation, your grammar. I refuse to use the popular name as I find it offensive so lets just call them the Grammar police.
To be fair to Razer, and to get back to the general topic of this rant, this attitude is not unique to her. I wish I had a dollar for every Tumblr social justice blogger who has blasted “feminists” for not writing about the Terrible Thing which she has decided is the Thing which must be written about du jour. Next thing you know she’s posting about nail art or some favourite food. (This is perfectly OK by me, by the way – I’m not the one wanting to make a huge deal out of blogging/not blogging any given topic. But consistency, y’know.)
Jennifer Wilson at No Place for Sheep, writes about her views of Helen Razer’s recent comments and Jenna Price’s response in “Feminism. Feminists.”
I do think that Razer has misjudged the point of Destroy the Joint, it won’t have failed if it doesn’t bring down the Patriarchy. That is a big ask for one organisation where three waves of feminism have failed to do that before. The same with Everyday Sexism – it is less about destroying the Patriarchy in one big gulp and more about pointing out how everyday things we often take for granted are sexist. Will it change the world, probably not, will it open a few eyes and start a few minds working – yes and that is a success right there.
What’s the message here? Yes, representations are important. Culture shapes life. But material life is reflected in Culture too. Social location is important. It’s very easy, perhaps too easy, to sit in one’s hot desk at a Co-Working Space tweeting anti-Alan Jones messages. Lo, how the Old White Men have fallen! Yep, contest their ground. But don’t forget – they won’t go away so easily. Because the real injustice is the permanent suppression, the permanent inequality, the permanent oppression that so many women not on Twitter live as their daily existence. The key is to think that, think outside your own circle, talk as well as decry.
So while I appreciate the essay’s philosophic merits, I’ll be damned if I can correlate the content to saving women NOW, TODAY! I don’t need to analyse the history of the rise of feminism to push countries to pass laws to prevent the subjugation of women. I don’t need to consider “The cyborg is a creature in a post-gender world; it has no truck with bisexuality, pre-oedipal symbiosis, unalienated labour, or other seductions to organic wholeness through a final appropriation of all the powers of the parts into a higher unity.” What I need is to see that fucking decal gone from that ute so small children aren’t seduced to organic unwholesomeness.
but globalisation has tended to change some of that. because many eastern cultures absorbed the notion that western cultures were more advanced and modern, they have adopted some of the cultural norms of the west. with the result that women who were never expected to change their names on marriage are now pressured to do so. the societal pressure that was so absent is now building & has been for some time now.
Here’s the thing: I am currently thinking that the patriarchy is so deeply embedded that all you need to do is type a phrase whilst sitting on your couch in your pyjamas and suddenly shiny patriarchy will appear. Like dial-a-patriarchy or something. It’s really so convenient. I, for example, typed “fake tanning” on my blog and managed to receive three posts from alleged fake tan providers discussing the virtues of their products. My post examining labiaplasty got a further two posts from cosmetic surgery companies (apparently) talking about the wonderful procedures they had on special should I wish to craft myself into the ultimate socially-acceptable woman. My comments on surrogacy earned me a post from an international surrogacy provider talking about the wonderful genetic material incubators they had available (in other words, women) just raring to produce a little Celeste clone so my life would be complete. Elsewhere, I questioned the Lingerie Football League and ended up with a free-ticket offer to one of their games (sadly, the tickets were available in North America not Northern Burbs Melbs). A literal cornucopia of patriarchal advertising just eager to get to my inbox. It is really quite insane.
This is a huge issue as not simply because a reduction in courses and subjects that students have to choose from is a detriment to their education by lack of breadth but also because it awkwardly reflects a lot of what is taught in these courses. To be honest I can’t think of better way to mirror the content of these courses about how women have been undervalued and had to fight for every freedom we enjoy today but also show the distance we still have to go than by cutting them.
We see ‘I’m not racist but’ comments on social media all the time. Websites like theantibogan.wordpress.com have been set up to give the online community the power to name and shame racists, sexists and homophobes. Such initiatives can make big statements particularly in the online sphere where people often think they have the added advantage of anonymity. But what of real life encounters? Where do we go to report IRL racists?
stargazer at The Hand Mirror writes about her hopes for the new Race Commissioner in New Zealand, Susan Devoy in “hoping for the best” and how important it is that they be able to work together:
if she fails to act or to speak, she won’t suffer the consequences: i will, or some other marginalised person and/or community of colour will. if she fails to do her job properly, i will find it harder to fight the discrimination i face in my day to day life.
Reading this book is like having a cosy chat with MumShirl. She gently but unflinchingly reveals how white policies, perhaps well meaning but misguided perhaps intentional, had devastating effects on Aboriginal communities. She talks of her early life at Erambie Mission in Cowra with her family, discovering she had epilepsy and her early struggles with it when medication was still unavailable to treat it, marrying, child rearing and losing her marriage and giving up her child to the care of relatives. She also talks about the extensive efforts she went to to support prisoners, family and anyone and everyone in need of help. She was a founding member of both the Aboriginal Legal Service and the Aboriginal Medical Service. Throughout her determination to do her best is her motivation, no matter the cost to her personally. She really was an amazing person (she passed away in 1998). She was awarded an MBE in 1975, an Order of Australia in 1985, Aborigine of the Year in 1990, and named as a National Living Treasure shortly before her death.
Now, to Jezebel. Jezebel, which on top of all its previous crimes against social justice decided that right now, right after a young black girl was called a cunt by The Onion, was the perfect time to post a big ol’ article about how cunt isn’t a bad word, it’s a word we should reclaim, woo yeah girl power right on.
Jo Tamer at Wallaby writes, “Sexuality and sex work” where she recounts a conversation she participated in where a straight woman asked a gay woman how much money it would take for her to sleep with a man.
One of the strengths of Things I Didn’t Expect (When I Was Expecting) is the way it so clearly identifies the contradictory pressures on new mothers – be natural, but don’t let yourself go. Speaking of hypocrisy, there’s also an excellent discussion in the book of the duplicitous game of ‘bad mother’ confessions that women sometimes play in mothers’ groups where the information they share is really slyly designed to enhance their own reputations as good mothers. But this is the difference between a feminist author like Dux, and a less nuanced writer – Dux is ultimately forgiving of the ‘bad mother’ game because she understands that while this behaviour silences us, it is also really about mothers coming to terms with the pressure of the ‘selfless mother’ expectation that is on all of us.
Julie at the Hand Mirror writes, “No country for young babies” regarding the baby left in a car at a supermarket carpark and the judgement poured on the mother of that child.
Utopiana at Rantings of an Aboriginal Feminist writes, “Turning 35 and the quandaries of reproductive “choice”” talking about the different types of choice (to have children or not as one example), and other reproductive issues, including surrogacy and birthing choices.
AlisonM at The Hand Mirror writes about a court case in New Zealand currently where a driver is being charged with reckless driving causing death of his wife’s fetus in ‘Careless Driving Causing Death’:
“There’s no definition of a person in the transport act, so that’s where this issue will focus on. What does it mean by a person,” he said in an interview in January. Along the way, however, Miller says, the police also must prove that Gebretsadik was careless and, if so, that it was the collision that caused the death of the fetus. His complaint with the police over the “causing death” charge is what he sees as their lack of compassion.
LMFAO go out of their way to posit that every body can be “sexy”, even those that do not meet society’s expectations. We know this from the fourth line, “This is how I roll, animal print pants, out of control”, where Redfoo seems to feel the need to address his unconventional appearance. This is reiterated with his “big afro”, and wearing a Speedo at the beach. Although he clearly attracts attention (“Everybody stops and they staring at me”), he does not apologise for standing out or taking up space. In fact, he relishes it, and asks for more (“Girl, look at that body”).
Bridgett Judd at the ramblings of an idiot writes, “The Obesity Paradox” in which she discusses the fact that the “war on obesity” has lead to a rise in eating disorders.
This shit doesn’t happen in a vacuum. These same media outlets publish story after story beating the “obesity epidemic” drum, and wringing their hands over “childhood obesity”, and then wonder why children obsess over their weight from a ridiculously early age? These media outlets crap on about being “healthy”, which is just diet-talk reworded with no actual conscientious addressing of holistic health of all people, and then they get all up in arms about children dieting? They allow the most hateful, bigoted crap about fat people to be published in the comments and call it “opinion”. Not to mention that every single time I go to a mainstream media site, women’s or not, I am bombarded with ads for weight loss. Where do they think kids, and their parents, get all of this stuff in the first place?
It’s tough being a woman. We just walk down the street and then, out of nowhere, an assault happens to us. We need to be particularly careful of these disembodied assaults that just hang around until they can happen at someone. At least, that’s the impression I get when journalists report on violence against women: men don’t assault women, it’s just that women have assaults happen to them.
Everyone knows that the word “slut” has power, whether we agree with it or not.
It is used to shame and degrade women and, more importantly, to put them in a box with a label that says “you’re not human here” and to make sure they stay there. Whilst there are many different variables in the slut-shaming game, the objective remains the same: to ensure women’s behaviour is deemed “acceptable” by societal terms, and to make sex a source of shame and not power. In a culture that is so concerned with labels and definitions, one has to pose the question: what is a slut? After years of being called a slut, of hearing my friends being called sluts I can only assume that a slut is a woman who doesn’t adhere to every societal expectation heaped upon her.
So when the media talks about women taking preventative measures to stop rape, it’s actually not dealing with the issue at hand very well at all – it’s only taking a tiny percentage of rapes and assaults into consideration. It’s telling us that if we just act ‘more carefully,’ we can stop being raped. With the implication being that if we areattacked, well, we obviously weren’t being quite careful enough.
There’s a wider discussion to be had here, about what should be shown and what shouldn’t be shown. Particularly as these stories get reported all around the world. When someone takes a gun into a school and starts shooting children, should the media make him famous? On the other hand, if his identity is just a minor part of the story, it removes him from his crime.
What was this about for TVNZ? Their appalling choice of backing music makes it look like it was all a bit of a laugh. Their focus on all the reasons people don’t intervene – including putting up an image of brave bystander Austin Hemmings not once but twice makes it look like they don’t believe community responsibility is possible. Their slavish hyping up of one young man’s potential for violence felt more like watching the build up to a boxing match than anything else. Their joky, oh-imagine-looking-like-a-dick defense of choosing not to intervene isn’t that far off the “it’s just a domestic” excuse of the 1950s.
My law lecturer made a rape joke while delivering a lecture to hundreds of students. Most of the
students laughed. That concerned me. But, I was equally concerned about the statistical certainty
that some of the students who laughed must have themselves been survivors of sexual assault.
When a well-respected professor from a sandstone university jokes about rape, he sends the
message that rape is a laughing matter. His voice is more powerful than most. His job is to teach us
about legal and ethical standards. By virtue of his position as a legal academic and student mentor,
this man had a responsibility to counteract rape culture, not perpetuate it.
I haven’t been able to get this out of my head since, and I think that it is important that we don’t forget that these things are still happening, dont put dealing with them in the to hard basket, say that colleges are just out of our reach or we can’t make the change in the 12 month term. But realise that the campaigns we run and in particular Talk About It are really important, they can and do help young women who are being abused, pressured and harassed. They do force Universities, Colleges and Government to take action.
Sarah Jane Innes at Sarah’s wold of procrastination writes, “Self Worth“:
My low self-esteem has led to my low self-worth and now they feed each other. Like most things wrong with adults it can be blamed on my childhood, specifically my teenage years. I was bullied, on all sorts of levels in all sorts of ways since year 4 (possibly earlier it’s all a blur). I was bullied for being new, for being quite, for freckles, for weight, for mental illness, for awkwardness, for my ‘weird’ family, for my learning difficulties. Basically I was the bully’s easiest target. I feel things deeply and I used to wear my heart on my sleeve. I still feel things too deeply but I try and hide it. Laugh it off or deliberately appear humourless. The years of bullying have worn away at me in a way that prevents me feeling worthy of the successes. I try to counteract this; I have had years of therapy on and off. I have realised on one level that my bullies were sad in their own ways, low on self-esteem, victims of bullying whether at school or at home. One actually has on her social media profile that she can’t stand ‘shy people’ or people with ‘mental weaknesses’, she plans on being a Journalist. I wonder how with her apparent lack of empathy. For the most part these people have no place in my life, I cut the ties, unfriended and avoid. Some I pity because of their current life circumstances but none of this undoes the pain and hurt. None of this fixes my self-esteem problems. Nor should it. The day I feel better because my former bullies are not successful in the ways that I measure success is the day I sink to that high school level.
So today Abbott has come out saying that he’s a changed man, that he’s grown and changed (recently) and that we shouldn’t judge him by comments he made 35 years ago. Ok, sure, I won’t judge Tony Abbott for comments he made 35 years ago, back when he was a dick, I’ll judge him for comments he’s said far more recently than that, which still show he’s still a dick.
Harsh you might say, but I note he hasn’t actually come out distancing himself from those far more recent comments. Let’s look at today’s news across the spectrum of news agencies.
Federal Opposition Leader Tony Abbott says he can guarantee that his religious views will not impact on policies about women.
The Liberal leader has also backtracked from his previous views on homosexuals and saying the numbers of abortions each year is a “legacy of unutterable shame”.
“I didn’t express it as well as I could have or should have,” Mr Abbott said.
“And I absolutely accept that for any woman facing an unexpected pregnancy, the choices are tough.”
“Faith is important to me. It’s important to millions of Australians. It helps to shape who I am. It helps to shape my values,” he said.
“But it must never, never dictate my politics. Judge me by what the considered view today is, not by throwaway lines and off-hand comments 35 years ago.”
Mr Abbott, who as student politician at Sydney University opposed gay rights, also said he no longer has the strong views on homosexuality he used to.
In the interview Mr Abbott reaffirmed his opposition to gay marriage.
Ok, so from the ABC report, we know that the choices women have when dealing with unexpected pregnancies are tough, but there is no mention of any new Coalition policies towards the decriminalisation of abortion. Abbott has also said that although his faith is important, it won’t dictate his politics, asking that we don’t judge him by his dickish comments 35 years ago. He hasn’t, as I said earlier, repudiated his comments over the past 11 years, many of which suggest that his politics are deeply influenced by this faith. He also said that his “strong views on homosexuality” have changed, but he still opposes marriage equality. Which suggests that although he might now think that the queer community are ok, he isn’t all for equal rights.
Mr Abbott reflected on the now-famous speech by Prime Minister Julia Gillard attacking him as a misogynist.
“It wasn’t fair and it wasn’t true,” he said.
He said he had said things in the past which he wouldn’t say today, and believed in things that he did not believe now.
“I have changed and I like to think I have grown,” he said.
His views on homosexuality have also changed and he now warmly accepts his sister Christine Forster as a lesbian, after she left her marriage of 19 years to be with her new partner Virginia.
So which things has Abbott changed his mind on? The news articles, and I’m guessing also from the content the 60 Minutes interview, he has just said he’s changed his mind and hasn’t actually enunciated what he’s changed his minds on. No, I’m not going to watch 60 Minutes and listen to Abbott’s voice to determine whether he’s been clear on what he’s changed his mind on precisely, if there was anything substantial it would be reported on in the media such as:
TONY ABBOTT SUPPORTS MARRIAGE EQUALITY
ABBOTT SUPPORTS ABORTION DECRIMINALISATION
As none of these things were reported, I think it’s yet another sound bite in the vain attempt to make Abbott seem like a decent individual.
And truly, it is so heart warming that he STILL LOVES HIS OWN SISTER even though she has come out as a lesbian. When I read that, my heart swelled fit to bursting and the stars shone brighter than ever before. What type of monster would Abbott be if he actually disowned his sister or stated he couldn’t stand his sister’s decision to live her life true to herself? That wouldn’t be politically wise, so despite leaving her high and dry in that she cannot marry her new partner or anyone else of the same sex, saying that he “warmly accepts” his sister really is the barest minimum he can do.
He also stated that earlier comments condemning abortion were poorly stated and admitted that his opposition to homosexuals had changed once he had got to know gays.
Supported by his lesbian sister, her lover, his wife Margie and his daughters, Mr Abbott said that when he claimed three years ago during a television interview that he felt “a bit threatened” by homosexuals, he had been trying to guard a family secret.
He had only just been told by his sister that she was a lesbian.
“Now I couldn’t talk about that then because it was deeply personal and deeply private,” he said.
“But certainly, they were very tough times for our family, hence my comment, because the cohesion of our family was threatened at that time. But I’m pleased to say that we’re all in a better space now than we were then.”
Interviewed at a family barbecue at his Sydney home, Mr Abbott’s sister, Christine Forster, said he had been “completely unfazed” when she told him that she was in a lesbian relationship after 19 years married to a man.
Mr Abbott, who has always insisted marriage was between a man and a woman, even appeared to hold open the vague possibility of a future policy change by his party on same-sex marriage.
So Abbott is attempting to have it both ways, being “completely unfazed” when his sister outed herself to him, and also that “the cohesion of [his] family was threatened at that time” – though granted without context that could be in relation to another issue that had nothing to do with his sister. The way it is reported however, makes it look like he didn’t react well to his sister coming out as a lesbian, but then he got over himself – well done Abbott – you’re a mostly decent human.
And it shouldn’t take you getting to know some “gays” before your attitude to them changes to acknowledging their equal citizenship and humanity. Accepting that the broader queer community is make up of regular every day people is a no-brainer, except if you are a fundamentalist Christian who is happier to deny the humanity of your fellow citizens than to question what you have been taught.
Until I see some policy changes from Abbott which genuinely indicates that he’s shifted from his known ultraconservative views to what he is now claiming to be, I don’t accept his claims that he’s grown and changed into a decent individual, and that the Liberal Party is even remotely something I could vote for in the future.
Happy International Women’s Day for 2013. I’ve been meaning to write for a very long time about why feminism is still required and how the fight for true equality has a long way to go, and what better day than today to write such a post. The saddest thing for me is that since I first conceived writing this post, with a title more along the lines of “Why we still need feminism”, I’ve continued collating frequent examples of sexism, violence, double standards, misogyny, etc. These stories are not single instances of bad behaviour or individuals whose attitudes date back to the 50s, all of these stories are current, the issues, violence, at horrible attitudes being things that women have to manage daily. This isn’t good enough and society (and I’m looking at you men) needs to do better.
As Elizabeth Broderick, Australia’s Federal Sex Discrimination Officer said at the recent TEDx Women event in Melbourne, women have fought and gained a lot in the past 100 years, but it’s time that more men joined the fight with us, because it’s time that men started changing men’s minds.
Apparently the Vatican still having conniptions about the fact that the rest of the Western world is not listening to them and are continuing to recognise same-sex relationships, granting people who are attracted to those of the same sex rights equivalent to those who are opposite sex attracted. And they just won’t stand for it – in order to let everyone know how unhappy they are, and how absolutely morally abhorrent they consider same-sex attraction to be, they came out and said (mid December 2012):
Monday’s edition of Osservatore Romano, the official newspaper of the Vatican, features a front-page editorial attacking French Catholic magazine Temoignage Chretien (“Christian Witness”) for supporting marriage equality. The editorialclaims that same-sex couples exist in “a different reality” because they are unable to conceive children, and goes on to claim that marriage equality is part of some socialist “utopia”:
Saying that marriage between a woman and a man is equal to that between two homosexuals is, in fact, a denial of the truth that affects one of the basic structures of human society, the family. We cannot base a society on these foundations without then paying a very high price as happened in the past when there was an attempt to achieve total economic and social equality. Why repeat the same mistake and chase after an unattainable utopia? [(emphasis in original) from ThinkProgress]
It’s taken me a while to write this because every time I’ve thought about it, I’ve just struggled to understand where exactly the Vatican thinks it exists, what century they think it is, and why they think that anyone is going to listen to a bunch of old men in frocks who think that same sex relationships, and the ordination of women are worse or equivalent sins to Catholic Priests raping children and and adults.
HAS Melbourne turned back into a city of water wallies?
After years of conserving water, the city’s usage has surged this year.
A hot summer and easing water restrictions have coincided with a big jump in water use. In the week to January 10, Melburnians used an average of 238 litres per person – 50 per cent more than the former daily usage target of 155 litres a day.
It was the highest weekly per capita water use since the week ending February 15, 2009, when 241 litres a day were used.
In the week ending Thursday, average daily water use per person was 225 litres, 45 per cent above the former 155 target.
It’s not just a hot summer that has led to a big increase in water usage and it’s not just the easing of water restrictions that has led to a big increase in water usage – it’s the complete lack of rain. As of writing this post, Melbourne has received a whole 0.6mm of rain* in January 2013. The monthly average for January** is 47.6mm – I don’t see Melbourne even approaching that much rain in the remaining days of January. In December, Melbourne received 30mm of rain *** with the average rainfall for that month being 59.3mm – only slightly over half the monthly rainfall. Again in November, Melbourne received 37.2mm of rain ****, the monthly average being 60.3mm, and so on and so on – all these things that Dowling could have actually researched.
As there aren’t harsh water restrictions in place, because in 2011 and early 2012 many parts of Victoria flooded, which was great for water catchments, people are keeping their gardens alive while waiting for it to rain again. And waiting they are, because the Bureau of Meteorology are already suggesting that parts of eastern Australia are going into drought.
When Dowling approached the Water Minister in relation to the recent increase of water usage, they replied:
Water Minister Peter Walsh denied there had been a cultural shift in Melbourne back to heavy water use. ”Melbourne has had some very hot days recently, we haven’t had a lot of rain, and it’s summer. It is not uncommon for water use to peak during such hot and dry conditions,” he said.
”After restrictions eased to permanent water saving rules last November, water use generally has continued to trend at similar levels, which indicates that the lessons Melbourne customers learnt during the drought about using water wisely have stayed with them.”
It’s also school holidays and we’re fortunate enough to have a heat dome over much of inland Australia. When this heat dome wanders to the outer edges of our island nation people are going to do what they can to keep themselves and their children cool. Water is an excellent method of cooling down. People are also going to be drinking more, using evaporative air conditioners more, showering more frequently and using more water to stay comfortable and alive.
This article by Dowling should have focused on the whys of Melbourne’s increased water usage and asked why it isn’t raining (climate change), and how the heat dome has formed (failed monsoon – climate change), and perhaps even asked a meteorologist to explain how failed monsoons impact on rainfall in the rest of Australia. This article could have been a very useful vehicle for educating people about how and why rain falls across Australia, and perhaps asked more about whether our water usage is sustainable if the continent is going to continue to dry out.
Perhaps instead of Dowling blaming people for watering their gardens with drinking water, using drinking water to cool themselves and their children down (if any), and using more water around the house, Dowling should look at the broader and more interesting story. That’s journalism, this article falls far short.
Happy New Y ear everyone! I hope that 2013 is awesome for you all, that you find happiness, peace, contentment, joy, and all other sorts of positive things this year.
Now here is a collection of posts and other interesting things I’ve found over the last month that I thought I’d share with you.
First up is a Part 1 of a short film “The Silent City” about the end of… we’ll we’re not quite sure. At time of writing there are 5 parts completed, and clearly intent for a 6th and perhaps more. The film makers have used the abandoned spaces of New York (I think) very well, and one of my favourite things about the movie is that it uses a non-white actor as the protagonist. Enjoy
In the rest of this answer, though, I’ll show how the accusation of ‘unnatural’ is only used to protect the power structure as-is: people accept all sorts of things that were once considered unnatural if those things prove to help white heterosexual cis men. Specifically, they accept medical technology, beautifications and body modifications usually used by women (so long as they jibe with the male gaze), and (since it’s become economically beneficial for white supremacist capitalist patriarchy, at least to some extent) women working outside the home and in professional jobs. [emphasis in original]
Any mention of Willow Smith seems to eventually devolve into a discussion of what is “acceptable” black parenting. There’s a myth (heavily fed by the media) that the Smiths are doing something incredibly new and unusual, particularly for black parents. Conversations about their parenting never really touch on the fact that their children are already millionaires in their own right with an even larger inheritance ahead. Willow Smith can shave her head one week and wear an ankle-length wig the next because she’s in an environment where it’s safe for her to explore everything that interests her. There is no need for the Smiths to teach their children the same lessons taught to poor black kids in the inner city, or even those facts of life that middle class black kids in the suburbs might need to learn.
Willow’s situation is unique for a young black girl in America, and the very public nature of her life has a lot to do with the responses to her fashion choices. Those who take issue with lack of boundaries set on her appearance are really reacting to the world in which walking while black can be an invitation for harassment, assault, or death. They live in communities rife with gang violence, police brutality, and institutional racism that would make it impossible for them to have green hair and be gainfully employed. In their minds, the Smiths are allowing Willow to develop habits that could have long-term consequences, and they cannot imagine how these choices could be a good idea.
Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg is fond of repeating this business world double standard among groups of women: “Success and likeability are positively correlated for men and negatively correlated for women.” So as men gain power, we like them more. As women rise in the ranks, we like them less. Jessica Valenti has proposed that women respond by ditching their “desire to be liked and accepted” altogether. “Women adjust their behavior to be likable and as a result have less power in the world,” she writes. “But the trade-off is undoubtedly worth it. Power and authenticity are worth it.”
If only bitches had it so easy. People may dislike powerful women, but being unlikable won’t necessarily help women get that power in the first place. One 2011 study found that while acting rude and disagreeable helps increase men’s earning potential in the office, the same is not true of women. When it comes to salary negotiation, even nice guys don’t finish last—they, too, are better situated than disagreeable women. So women are counseled to act like ladies when asking for a raise.
Rachel and Tyler Fracassa always did things too soon.
They became inseparable when they were 12 and married at 16. At 18, they had a house in Raytown and another child on the way.
Last year, the couple built a homestead on a 16-acre plot of land in Urich, Mo. The one-room house was enveloped by three pastures, a winding creek and a spring-fed pond.
It was as beautiful as it was secluded, and it embodied the couple’s biggest dream: to live as simply as possible so they could spend lots of time together and, someday, save enough money to take their kids all over the world.
The report, into the media portrayal of LGB audiences, featured interviews with LGB organisations and representatives and comes two years after a 2010 study carried out by the BBC. In two parts, the report also featured the views of around 3,500 people on the BBC’s own independently run audience reaction panel, Pulse.
Doctor Who, Downton Abbey and Holby City were among the shows praised by the report for their inclusion of incidental LGB characters. “Doctor Who quite often has a gay character in it but it isn’t always an issue or the plotline,” said anti-hate crime charity Galop. “It’s just incidental which has been quite nice.”
But there was criticism of another BBC drama, Lip Service, about a group of lesbians living in Glasgow which aired on BBC3. The actors trade union Equity said: “Lip Service is written by a lesbian/bisexual woman. This makes a huge difference.
“However, the episodes were directed by men and the majority of the lesbian characters were played by heterosexual actors and this clearly impacts on the quality and integrity of the representation. Some of it was laughable.”
But my rant is actually not quite about that stuff at all. It’s about history, and this notion that History Is Authentically Sexist. Yes, it is. Sure it is. We all know that. But what do you mean when you say “history?”
History is not a long series of centuries in which men did all the interesting/important things and women stayed home and twiddled their thumbs in between pushing out babies, making soup and dying in childbirth.
History is actually a long series of centuries of men writing down what they thought was important and interesting, and FORGETTING TO WRITE ABOUT WOMEN. It’s also a long series of centuries of women’s work and women’s writing being actively denigrated by men. Writings were destroyed, contributions were downplayed, and women were actively oppressed against, absolutely.
The other day I saw the new character model for Cortana and I was thinking it seemed pretty alright – she looked older, stronger, far less caricatured. If Cortana was always going to be titillating, at least she seemed a more appropriate object of desire: more 25 than 15, more flesh than real doll.
So I got a bit nervous when I saw a lot of negative reactions to Cortana’s new larger boobs. Not because that reaction wasn’t coming from a good place – these were people I respected, reacting against objectification of women and the presentation of unrealistic ideals to young women. But just a couple of weeks earlier I heard they’ve got plans to make the new Lara Croft incarnation deeper, and part of that will be making her boobs smaller. The implication that larger boobs are a liability to well-presented, deep characters makes me nervous because, well, how many stacked women get to have complex stories in popular media? I can think of Joan Holloway and…?
Boob sizes have been neatly separating the mistresses from wives, the sexy/trashy good-times-girls from the arty/pretentious hipsters, the ciphers from the plotlines. Video games have certainly fed the first part of the stereotype, that ‘e-cup women are playthings’, but wouldn’t only giving empathetic roles to C-cup-or-less women just reinforce that? (It’s also implying small-boobed women can’t be objectified because they’re insufficiently sexy. The beauty of this system is no-one wins!) Where are the ‘twist’ video games for this gaming trope, promoted as indulging the players’ desire to objectify women, but surprise! actually gives you that character’s perspective about what it’s like to live with all that objectification? Lara Croft isn’t running towards her goal, she’s running away from you, thousands upon thousands of leering players.
But there’s another point I want to make, because the logic that suggests “Sex is fun, fun is trivial, certain bodies are more sex than others, therefore certain bodies are more trivial than others.”, comes from the same place as that attitude towards media: “Play is fun, fun is trivial, certain media forms are more about play than others, therefore certain media forms are more trivial than others.”
Over at not language but a map, “just shut up” about problematic themes in media (the excerpt below relates to Beauty and the Beast):
The film ended, and my professor flicked the light on. She passed out a handout we’d already received, a list of warning signs for domestic abusers. This list included things like, “Isolates partner from support systems—tries to keep them from family, friends, outside activities.” It included things like, “Attempts to control what partner wears, does, or sees.” It included things like, “Is extremely moody, jumping quickly from being nice to exploding in anger.” It included things like, “Is overly sensitive—gets hurt when not getting their way, takes offense when someone disagrees with them, gets very upset at small inconveniences.” It included things like, “Has unrealistic expectations of partner,” and “Is abusive towards other people,” and “Has ever threatened violence, even if it wasn’t a serious threat,” and, “Gets romantically serious very quickly,” and “Holds partner against their will,” and “Intimidates with threatening body language, punching walls, breaking objects, etc.” The Beast meets almost every criterion on the list, and those he doesn’t meet (“Was abused by a parent,” “Grew up in an abusive home,”) are only unmet in the sense that we have no way to know, from the narrative given to us, whether he meets them or not.
My professor said, “Okay. Now let’s talk about it.”
One of the frustrating things for me about spending a lot of time with women, writing about women’s issues, and interacting with women is that I’m usually read as a woman and have that identity forced on me even though I’m very open about the fact that I’m genderqueer. This isn’t just because of how I look, although obviously that’s a factor; with a lot of images of me circulating on the web, often accompanying my work, it’s inevitable that people are going to make a snap assumption about my gender on the basis of my appearance. Nor is it because of the way I write; writing analysis tools tend to skew masculine when I run my work through them.
It’s because of what I write about. The assumption is that anyone who writes both passionately and sometimes personally about issues that primarily affect women must be a woman, because who else would care, right? And who else would share those experiences (rather than pontificating on them as an outside observer)? Consequently, I end up in this strange doublebind where I am welcomed into ‘women’s spaces’ and forcibly labeled as a woman—as long as it’s convenient, and then suddenly I’m shut out.
Inequality doesn’t just spring up without a context. And women don’t just opt out of hacking and hacker communities because of the tired rhetoric “maths and hacking is boys’ business.”
No, women stay the hell away from hacker-spaces, conferences and tech initiatives because of on-going experiences of misogyny, abuse, threats, put downs, belittlement, harassment, rape.
Last infosec conference I went to – there was six females and over 1000 males in attendance. My female friend roped me into pretending I was her lesbian lover, simply to get a guy to let-the-fuck-go of her hand.
At this point, some of you are thinking, “Well, if DEFCON is so bad for women, women just shouldn’t go. Who cares?”
As KC puts it, “Defcon is also many wonderful things. It is a fantastic environment to learn, network, and connect with friends old and new.” There’s a reason that I attended DEFCON five times before I quit. DEFCON and other hacker conferences are popular for all the reasons that conferences exist at all: learning new things, meeting people in your field, improving your reputation, finding jobs, and making new friends.
I’ll start with the most obvious benefit of attending DEFCON: jobs. Did you know that Twitter is recruiting computer security experts at DEFCON? So are Zynga and the NSA
More people are finally taking notice of the abuse. But there’s still a dearth of discussion on why it’s happening. The culprit isn’t anonymity, often the go-to answer for why the Internet can’t have nice things. Instead, it’s believing in the exceptionality of the Internet—and online gaming—that allows the abuses within, and it is enabled every time someone utters “It’s just a game.”
That phrase is the machine to which oppressive power dynamics are the ghost. How many times have you heard someone say “It’s the Internet; you shouldn’t take that seriously”? This kind of thinking supports the idea you can do anything you want with no consequences, when in all actuality, virtual actions like sexual harassment, stalking, abuse, prejudice in all of its forms—racism, sexism, transphobia, or all of the above—do have consequences.
Let’s start with that distinction between “online” and “the real world.” In the virtual world, there is a clear, aggressively policed distinction dictating the boundaries of both cyberspace and its social practices. In online gaming spaces in particular, this distinction is similar to the difference between “play” and “nonplay.” As child psychologists have long recognized, the act of saying “this is play” makes the real seem unreal, and thus malleable and less threatening. It allows for experimentation and learning, as well as simply finding out who you are. But in online gaming spaces, when combined with a culture of zero accountability and prejudice, it becomes a way of denying the impact of one’s words and actions—putting no limit on how nasty they can be.
There was a time that it gave me a blush of pride to be referred to as “the Spelling Sergeant” or “the Punctuation Police”. I would gleefully tear a syntactic strip out of anybody who fell victim to the perils of poor parallelism or the menace of misplaced modifiers. I railed against atrostrophes and took a red pen to signs posted in staff rooms, bulletin boards and public washrooms. I was, to put it bluntly, really, really annoying.
Four years ago, I was hired in a program that helps disadvantaged adults acquire fundamental literacy skills. To say that it has been an eye-opening experience deeply understates its impact; in fact, it has been mind-opening. And one of the ideas that has fallen into my newly-open mind is that being pedantic about the language skills of perfect strangers is kind of an asshole move.
It’s a tough habit to break, though. Prescriptivists are vocal and ubiquitous, and many of them have found their way into the public education system. Writing can be a powerful form of communication, and grammar snobs tend to be good at it, so the result is that their sneering condescensions become canonized – and cannon-ized – as easy shots against opponents in intellectual debate. The advent of the world wide web, naturally, has elevated this sport to Olympic proportions.
Whenever I read the term “gay marriage” I get annoyed. The word “gay” has a specific meaning, it is a sexual orientation in this context, so therefore “gay marriage” would be wedding between two gay people. Macquarie dictionary (the Australian dictionary of choice) states that gay is especially of male homosexuals, though also states that it relates to homosexuals in a broader sense, so that may include those who identify as lesbian. The groups that the term “gay” describes does not include bisexuals, trans* and intersex individuals.
So if you decide to use the term “gay marriage”, then you are excluding bisexuals, trans* and intersex individuals from your definition of marriage – which is why I prefer (and argue for) the terms “marriage equality”, “equal marriage” or “same-sex marriage”. If you’re happy excluding the bisexuals, trans* and intersex members of the LGBTIQ community, then I don’t want to be part of your group.
I know I’ve written about this before, but it keeps happening and so I keep pointing it out. It happens in places who should really know better, such as in the Fairfax media, or the Huffington Post, or even at my own workplace. Recently at work, when I called out the person on it, I told them that they should be using inclusive language, and not exclusive language. The guy I addressed my issue to started to argue with me, but then listened to what I was saying, apologised and agreed to correct the language in the presentation pack.
Fairfax and the Huffington Post completely ignore my requests to them to change their language use. Fairfax hasn’t been on my radar much recently, but the Huffington Post has been making me growl regularly. For starters, the section in HuffPo that covers LGBTIQ issues is called “Gay Voices” which really seems quite odd when they have bisexual and trans* content (I don’t know if they have any intersex content). I have asked that they change it to “Queer Voices”, but have not received any response from them. Clearly I am a lone (ish) voice in Australia, it is possible that a concerted campaign might get through to whoever manages that site.
HuffPos’ twitter account regularly refers to “gay marriage” and doesn’t use inclusive terms. Tonight they tweeted about a wedding that had to be moved due to Hurricane Sandy, but they called it a “gay wedding” despite no one in the article using the term. I then argued with people on twitter about orientation – always a fun activity.
All I want, and I don’t think it’s really that hard, is that when referring to issues that affect the entire LGBTIQ community, that attempts are made to use inclusive language. Using umbrella terms like “gay and lesbian” alienates entire sections of the LGBTIQ community, and that’s not cool. Making us invisible because saying gay or lesbian is easier is not cool. We want to be included, we don’t want to be invisible because keeping us invisible makes it harder for us to participate in the wider community, being invisible leads to worse health outcomes for us, being invisible leads to higher rates of violence against us, and generally weakens the community overall. So next time you hear someone refer to “gay marriage” or the “gay and lesbian [insert group here]” ask them if they intend to exclude bisexuals, trans* and intersex people.
I haven’t been blogging much, there have been other drama llamas hanging about, and they’ve been taking up my energy – I haven’t even really been keeping as up to date with my Cook Book Project as I’d like, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been reading interesting things about the place. Here is a small collection of things that I’ve been reading recently that you might also find interesting.
My new (mostly) benevolent dictator role model (you all know that I aim to rule the world right?) is Lucius Cornelius Sulla.
Apparently, until it was harvested to extinction, our Ancient Greek and Roman forebears had a plant based contraceptive, laserwort, the full story in “The Birth Control of Yesteryear” (just don’t read the comments).
The images lists seven reasons why wives need (to give their husbands) more sex. Ironically, every single one of the reasons (better health, more youthful appearance, peace of mind, marital stability, clout and credibility, weight control, and amazing return on investment) are things that are gender neutral, and in fact I agree on every single point (rephrasing the “clout and credibility” reason, of course, to simply say that having a healthy sex life sets a good example for your children). In other words, the image should be titled “Seven Reasons Married Couples Should Have More Sex,” not “Why Wives Need to Give Their Husbands More Sex.” But it’s not. And it’s not for a reason – namely, that many within evangelicalism and fundamentalism see sex as something men need and women give.
Finally, note that “it’s fun” or “it feels good” is nowhere on that list. The list appears to be trying to convince women to have more sex with their husbands, but it does so by emphasizing things like health benefits, weight control, marital stability, etc. Nothing there about enjoyment, although I’m going to assume the author would probably say that women should of course enjoy it.
David at Raptitude writes a piece on “Why we f*ck” and how the thinking on “cave men” has changed from solitary individuals, to tribal groups who slept together as part of keeping the group together:
Females each mating with multiple males means that no male could quite be sure which child was his genetically. There were no paternity tests, and everyone would be so closely related that there wouldn’t be too many giveaways in the child’s features, such as distinct hair color or eye color.
Think about what that means for a moment: it’s likely that for most of human existence, it was not normal for a man to know which kids were his.
For the survival of the group, this was a good thing. First of all, it meant that males wouldn’t kill off the children sired by other males (as some species do). But most importantly, it meant that every adult felt a responsibility to care for every child in the group. The females would breastfeed the children of other women, and no man would have any reason to view one child as “his” and another as “not his.” All children were vulnerable, all were in need of food and protection and love, and the survival of the group depended on the survival of children, no matter who fathered them. Paternal uncertainty, as biologists call it, kept hunter-gatherer groups well-bonded and more liable to survive than they would be if they were fragmented into nuclear families who had clear preferences about who ought to get most of the help.
The saddest element of this story is not merely that Wallace and his group will most likely carry on undeterred after their Prime Ministerial rejection; it’s that the “facts” he loosely based this latest routine on will not make the front page.
Wallace is right in noting there is illness in my community, but it has little to do with how you poke your bits in other people. Suicide is a burden GLBTI youth carry heavier than most, and beyond the media baiting, there’s a danger that comments from the ACL act as a trigger for young people taking their own lives.
Political intentions aside, the undertone that homosexuality is unhealthy or that acting on mutual love will lead you to an early grave is not something that sits easily on the restless mind of a teenager.
Young people who do not identify as heterosexual are four times more likely to take their lives than their heterosexual classmates, and beyond anti-bullying campaigns or promises that “it gets better”, for the most part we have stopped asking why.”
I was thrilled to be part of the event, which was in its 20th year, and was eager to see what other presentations for bisexual youth were being offered. As I went down the long list of 112 sessions, I had to do a double take, then a triple take. Could it really be that there was only one other seminar specifically for bisexuals? It was true: Only two out of 112 workshops spoke directly to bisexuality. (Similarly, in 2011, just one workshop out of 78, titled “But I Don’t Want to Pick a Team…,” catered to bisexual conference goers.)
It’s performance art, parody, social media genius, and a desperate cry for help all in one. If any further proof of social media’s power were necessary, it’s arrived: An underpaid Chinese migrant worker has made a viral video in which she mimics an official in China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) while asking for her own unpaid salary. The video was uploaded to Youku, China’s Youtube, four months ago. But it appears to have gone viral on Sina Weibo, China’s Twitter, after netizen @卫庄 posted it on October 8. Since then, netizens have re-posted the video over 23,000 times.
A writer called Ventakesh Rao recently used the term “manufactured normalcy” to describe this. The idea is that things are designed to activate a psychological predisposition to believe that we’re in a static and dull continuous present. Atemporality, considered to be the condition of the early 21st century. Of course Venus isn’t a green hell – that would be too interesting, right? Of course things like Google Glass and Google Gloves look like props from ill-received science fiction film and tv from the 90s and 2000’s. Of course getting on a plane to jump halfway across the planet isn’t a wildly different experience from getting on a train from London to Scotland in the 1920s – aside from the radiation and groping.
We hold up iPhones and, if we’re relatively conscious of history, we point out that this is an amazing device that contains a live map of the world and the biggest libraries imaginable and that it’s an absolute paradigm shift in personal communication and empowerment. And then some knob says that it looks like something from Star Trek Next Generation, and then someone else says that it doesn’t even look as cool as Captain Kirk’s communicator in the original and then someone else says no but you can buy a case for it to make it look like one and you’re off to the manufactured normalcy races, where nobody wins because everyone goes to fucking sleep.
The problem with “I’m entitled to my opinion” is that, all too often, it’s used to shelter beliefs that should have been abandoned. It becomes shorthand for “I can say or think whatever I like” – and by extension, continuing to argue is somehow disrespectful. And this attitude feeds, I suggest, into the false equivalence between experts and non-experts that is an increasingly pernicious feature of our public discourse.
When the second wave of feminism came about, women argued that they had been so dominated and suppressed in society that they wanted spaces where they could think through issues, find their own voices, and decide for themselves — without men driving the agenda.
Patriarchy is a system that encourages a normative view that enables men to have power over women. This doesn’t mean every man will exert that power in a negative way, just as it doesn’t mean that every white person is evil in a racist world. What it does mean is that all those who are privileged in the dominant social circumstances — such as men in a patriarchy — benefit from that system, while often denying its existence.
There is a plethora of research from last century to show that in dual sex spaces, boys dominate talk, ideas, and decision making. In a patriarchy, both men and women learn their roles. To a large extent, the second wave of feminism was about challenging these “taken for granted” roles; including women’s historical role of turning to men or the male space for ”permission”.
In the late twentieth century, women leaders wanted the chance to think out loud without the criticism of patriarchal institutions — such as the media — curbing their ability to define women’s roles in new ways. But most importantly, they didn’t want to have to seek men’s permission to act in relation to their own human rights. It was absolutely critical that “helpful” men didn’t step in and drive and decide the agenda.
Privileged distress. I’m not bringing this up just to discuss old movies. As the culture evolves, people who benefitted from the old ways invariably see themselves as victims of change. The world used to fit them like a glove, but it no longer does. Increasingly, they find themselves in unfamiliar situations that feel unfair or even unsafe. Their concerns used to take center stage, but now they must compete with the formerly invisible concerns of others.
Humour is too complex to sum up here, but this much is obvious: jokes, like art, are double worlds. They are falsehoods that express, or hope to express, truths about experience: perceptions, emotions, ideas. They refer to the physical and psychological stuff of life, even if they don’t represent it factually.
So Mrs Abbott’s gag is false, but the point of the joke is to suggest something true about the Opposition Leader: he is comfortable around women, and they him. And this has a political implication. Tony Abbott has loved, respected and supported his wife and daughters, and is therefore someone who can govern in the interests of all women. This is why Margie Abbott uses the word ‘feminist’: it is broad enough to rightly include intimate relationships alongside legislation and leadership. The feminist politician, says this argument, is kind to women domestically, and therefore kind to all women politically.
Ben Pobjie at Ben Pobjie’s Wonderful World Of Objects, writes “Ugh“:
Feminism, right? Sometimes, I think, we can get sick of talking about feminism, and hearing about feminism. Sometimes it’s just exhausting, isn’t it? Boring. We wish sexism and misogyny and patriarchy didn’t keep getting raised. We’d like a break.
I feel this, I really do. I bet a lot of the people who spend a lot of time talking about feminism get sick of it sometimes too. Unfortunately, as much as we’d all like a break, it is difficult for feminists to take a break when every day some idiot goes and illustrates perfectly why they have to keep hammering away, because there is just so many more concrete-thick skulls to penetrate.
From what I can tell, there were at least four speeches delivered on the floor of Parliament on Tuesday. The one Julia Gillard gave. The one that we, a population starving for even the slightest bit of inspirational rhetoric, heard. The one that the media, burdened with the twin dehumanising horrors of reporting on the happenings in Parliament and living in Canberra, heard, leading them to label the affair “desperate” and “completely over the top”. And, finally, the one that Tony Abbott heard. The one that led him, with the sort of blind audacity usually reserved for circus tightrope walkers and the clinically psychopathic, to assert last night that the Prime Minister needs to stop playing the gender card to get ahead. So, I thought I’d take you through some of the key points of the speech so we could try and get to the bottom of what this address actually meant to all these people.
What she said: This could well be the single funnest thing I have ever done in my life. Ever.
What we heard: Thanks, I’ll be here all week! Try the veal. It’s seasoned in sadness of Abbott.
Sometimes you’ve just got to admit you got it wrong. This is one of those times. Last week I began an article with the phrase ‘Paul Sheehan has finally lost his stupid fucking mind’. I did so based on the best possible information available to me at the time. I am now willing to say that I was wrong and I apologise to Mr Sheehan unreservedly.
Because if Paul Sheehan indeed lost his stupid fucking mind last week, then he would not be able to lose his stupid fucking mind this week, which is invariably the case. This is just logical. In my defence, his op-ed last week in which he claimed Alan Jones had been the victim of cyber-bullying had all the hallmarks of lunatic ravings, less at home in print on the pages of Sydney’s leading broadsheet than smeared in shit on the walls of an abandoned amusement park.
So here we are again, with an amazing collection of writing from Australian and New Zealand feminists from the month of September. I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I have enjoyed putting it all together. First, a comic from Judy Horacek from her October post (posted on 30 September 2012).
I went on a "food crawl". "Just a few more Turkish restaurants then I'll move onto Italian, then Japanese then..." I ate so much my body started to swell. But I wasn't heavy - all the delicious flavours had made me weightless. I floated out of the door & into the sky. Like a zeppelin I floated above the streets of my suburb until nightfall. When my body finally shrank down back to its usual size & I drifted back down to earth, & back to my task. "Now where was I? ... Time for some Malaysian food, then I think Burmese, then Chinese..."
After that beautiful comic, lets start with..
Frances at Corpulent, writes “On Stocky Bodies, and being a fat dancer” in which she describes having two photographers follow her around doing her every day things, and how having the photographers go to her dance class was harder than all the other activities they photographed.
Helen writes at the Blogger on the Cast Iron Balcony, “The Recent Unpleasantness“, describing the failure of the mainstream media to comment or cover those Muslims who did condemn the action taken by a few, and the inherent racism in branding an entire group of people for something done by only a few – especially as that doesn’t happen to white people.
The fist criticism conflates two sets of attitudes about taniwha. One can believe in taniwha, or one can respect, or at least tolerate, other people’s belief in taniwha. Personally, I don’t believe in taniwha, or elves, or the Norse gods, or the Christian god, or all sorts of other things, but I can see that other people believe in these entities, and even more than that, that they order their lives by reference to their beliefs. So while I may not believe their belief, I’m prepared to tolerate it, to the extent that it doesn’t cause harm. That’s a fairly standard move in liberal thinking.
steph at 天高皇企鹅远 writes about assumptions people make about China and how she tell those assumptions from what they questions ask her in, “citation needed“.
stargazer writes about the “consequences” of Islamaphobia and how those claiming their freedom to speak bigotry would probably be less likely to do so if they experienced the treatment that is meted out to those they speak against.
stargazer also writes about her thoughts of belonging after reading a post on indigenous people, and her conclusion that she is not indigenous to anywhere, in “not indigenous“.
Stephanie at ginger honey writes “On offense” discussing how when it’s not about you, your reaction says a lot about you.
Utopiana from Rantings of an Aboriginal Feminist writes about her decision to participate in Frocktober and the clothes she’s generally comfortable in, in “Yes, yes, I wear a dress… ”
Chrys at Gladly the Cross Eyed Bear wrote about the sexism in the criticism of Deveny’s appearance on Q&A, especially the characterisations that Deveny was militant, shouty, disrepectful etc, in “Defending Deveny“.
Jane at Putting Her Oar In, wrote an open letter to Deveny detailing her own experiences of gaslighting, and how Jensen and his supporters attempted to gaslight Deveny in “an open letter to catherine deveny“.
Justine Larbalestier writes about how problematic it is to have a YA protag proclaim her hatred of all women, and breaks apart why this is a bad thing, and what some of the causes are in, “Girls Who Hates Girls“.