So what a month, I’ve finished collating the Down Under Feminists’ Carnival, and have my own linkspam to attend to. There is some great stuff here, and yes it is epic. The epic of all linkspam.
Suw Charman-Anderson at Firstpost Technology writes, “Facebook finally admits to tracking non-users“. Please after reading this article go and implement all the recommendations to protect your privacy.
Chaitanya at Applied Ghandi writes about “‘Saalumarada’ Thimmakka – A Peerless Green Champion!“:
Thimmakka, aged 101*, is a native of Hulikal village in the Magadi taluk of Bangalore Rural district in Karnataka.
She has an unsurpassed credit to her name—some 1000 plus sturdy banyan trees, which she has lovingly tended against all odds, from mere saplings to a sweeping canopy.
Saalumarada Thimmakka (“saalumarada”—“row of trees” in Kannada—is an honorific people have added to her name) and her landless labourer husband Chikkannah could not have children. So one day more than 60 years ago, they started planting trees.
Elizabeth Plank at Policymic writes, “France Makes Contraception and Abortion Free“:
Access to free, legal and safe abortionsdoes not, has not and will never increase pregnancy termination rates in the long-term. Unlike soda refils, abortion does not become more attractive when it’s free. Abortion is not an attractive choice, it’s a really difficult one. Abortions aren’t like half price easter chocolates, women don’t run out and get them because they’re on sale (easter chocolate sale? WHERE? WHERE?). They get them because they need them, and that’s why the government should be concerned with provinding affordable and safe access to them.
At Offbeat Bride, a guest post by Babelglyph, “How I made a d20 engagement ring for my secret lesbian D&D proposal“.
David Badash writes at The New Civil Rights Movement, “Bisexuals Are The ‘Turd In The Punchbowl’ Says Massachusetts Pastor“.
That Lively is a well-known hate monger and the head of a hate group should give him no less cover, should afford him no less condemnation from his fellow pastors. Indeed, it should give them all the more motivation to denounce him, for he is making their Christianity a mockery.
Lively, whose “turd in the punchbowl” post for some strange reason hit Memeorandum, a popular news aggregator that tends to highlight the most popular news stories of the day, claims that marriage “is a clean and holy institution.” It’s doubtful many married people would describe their marriages as clean. Marriage is far from clean — it’s messy, challenging, hard work, although certainly priceless.
Clementine Ford at Howling Clementine writes, “How to handle a patronising dipshit: A guide“.
Cory Doctorow at Boing Boing writes, “NYPD will arrest you for carrying condoms: the women/trans/genderqueer version of stop-and-frisk“:
NYC has a law prohibiting “loitering for the purposes of engaging in a prostitution offense” which lets cops arrest whomever they feel like, on the strength of their conviction that the person is probably a sex-worker, on the basis of flimsy circumstantial evidence like carrying a condom, talking to men, or wearing tight clothes. Like stop-and-frisk, it’s part of a pattern of laws that assume that the police have infallible intuition about who the “bad guys” are and lets them use their discretion to harass and bust whomever they feel like. And like stop-and-frisk laws, the “condom” law shows that the much-vaunted cop intuition is really just bias, a dowsing rod that leads officers to poor women, genderqueer people, and trans people.
PZ Myers at Pharyngula writes, “The difference between us and them” *trigger warning for discussion of rape*:
As is typical, the conservatives have this unimaginative, short-sighted view of what it means to tell someone rape is wrong. They’re all imagining a woman confronted by an attacker who then solemnly tells them that they’re committing an illegal act, and expecting them to simply stop. But that’s not what she’s talking about at all.
We live in a culture where boys grow up to be privileged, entitled little shits who think women are pleasure objects for their benefit. Let’s start there and change that. Let’s say that frat boy antics are not OK. Let’s tell media to wake up and notice that women are autonomous human beings, not convenient plot points and MacGuffins. Let’s wake up and realize that valuing women only for the size of their breasts and the youthfulness of their skin is dehumanizing. She’s talking about taking on the difficult task of changing cultural attitudes.
bisexcellent writes, “The Language of Opposition“:
The language of opposition can suggest that multiple-gender attractions are paradoxical. This isn’t an uncommon view. The belief that people can not be bisexual is based on this.
It can also imply conflict between same-sex attraction and other-sex attraction. The idea is that there’s heterosexuality and homosexuality, and bisexuality is those two competing in an individual. They do not consider that multiple-gender attractions can simply coexist, or that these attractions can form a cohesive whole.
Karen Rowan at My Health News Daily writes, “Pediatricians’ Group Supports Gay Marriage, Adoption Rights“:
The American Academy of Pediatrics announced in a new policy statement that it supports the rights for gay and lesbian couples to marry as well as become foster parents and adoptive parents.
“Research shows children thrive when there are two parents who love them and can provide a nurturing environment for them, and that sexual orientation makes no difference, said Dr. Benjamin S. Siegel, professor of pediatrics and psychiatry at Boston University School of Medicine and co-author of the policy statement, which is published online today in the journal Pediatrics.
Shannon Barber at Nudemuse writes, “Nudemuse…daily nattering.“:
In light of the many terrible things that my stress levels could cause, why is it that people who are so concerned about my health overlook all those things just because my ass is smaller?
I’ve had it happening on the internets as well.
Of the dozen or so people who have anonymously congratulated me on being a smaller fatty, not one of them has seemed at all concerned about my actual health.
So again I am left with the distinct impression that no, nobody who wanted me to lose weight in the first place actually cared about my real health.
Daniel Ellsberg writes at Boing Boing, “A Salute to Bradley Manning, Whistleblower, As We Hear His Words For The First Time“:
Whoever made this recording, and I don’t know who the person is, has done the American public a great service. This marks the first time the American public can hear Bradley Manning, in his own voice, explain what he did and how he did it.
Now I hope the American people can see Manning in a different light. In 1971, I was able to give the media my side of the story, and it is long overdue that Manning be able to do the same. As Manning has now done, I stipulated as to all the facts for which I was accused. And I did that for several reasons, and I suspect that Manning had the same motives.
Rebecca Kamm at the The New Zealand Herald writes, “Stop telling women to smile“:
What is it about being approached by a strange man out of the blue and told to “Smile!” that’s so stomach-knottingly aggravating? Is there something a little bit passive aggressive about it, or are you just over-sensitive?
Yes, there is, and no, you’re not.
Sadie Whitelocks at MainOnline writes, “Mother launches range of Down Syndrome dolls for daughter, 13, so she can ‘see something beautiful’ when she plays“:
A mother has created a range of Down Syndrome dolls inspired by her daughter, who is affected by the chromosomal condition.
Connie Feda, 49, from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, set about making a mini-me version of her youngest child, Hannah, after she complained that none of the dolls in a toy catalog looked like her.
But in a bid to give other children like hers ‘a friend for life’, Mrs Feda turned her Dolls For Downs project into a full-time occupation and her plastic figurines are set to hit the market in May.
Alicia Simmonds at Daily Life writes, “When did it stop being OK for men to hold hands?”
So what went wrong? How did white/western men go from frolicsome fraternities to mute masculinity? How did we crash from the love-song of male friendship to the homophobic clamour of the empty seat between men at the cinema? Why does an early twentieth century photo of footballers show them amorously folded one on top of the other while a late-twentieth century picture would show them perched upright, hands on knees, legs forming a bodily barricade?
Ibson blames the rise of homophobic sentiment in the twentieth century, culminating in the feverish anti-gay witch-hunts of the 1950s. Of course sodomy was never looked kindly upon, but it wasn’t until the late nineteenth century that homosexuality emerged as a specific identity, rather than just a practice. Homosexuality moved from something that you did (like kissing or masturbation) to something that you were (a homosexual). Branded with their own label, homosexuals were pathologised as a problem for medicine or psychiatry to solve. Throughout the twentieth century homosexuals became increasingly suspect.
And the more threatening homosexuals appeared the more that male bodies drifted apart. A chill wind swept through male friendships. Heterosexual men became careful not to send messages that they could be gay. Paranoia replaced public affection.
Sophia Pearson, Stephanie Armour and Christie Smythe write at The Age, “Morning after pill access expanded as judge blasts FDA delay“:
US District Judge Edward Korman in Brooklyn, New York, excoriated the Food and Drug Administration yesterday for what he called a 12-year delay in making the emergency contraceptive, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd.’s Plan B, available over the counter.
“These emergency contraceptives would be among the safest drugs sold over the counter,” Korman wrote, and “the number of 11-year-olds using these drugs is likely to be minuscule.”
“The invocation of the adverse effect of Plan B on 11- year-olds is an excuse to deprive the overwhelming majority of women of their right to obtain contraceptives without unjustified and burdensome restrictions,” the judge wrote.
Huffpost Gay Voices writes, “Microsoft Outlook Features Gay Wedding In New Ad” (ahem marriage equality):
Microsoft Outlook features a same-sex wedding as part of its new advertising campaign.
The new clip shows two women tying the knot before one updates her surname within the Outlook program.
Laurie Abraham at The New York Times writes, “Teaching Good Sex” a program I’d really love to see implemented in Australia too:
Sexuality and Society begins in the fall with a discussion of how to recognize and form your own values, then moves through topics like sexual orientation (occasionally students identify as gay or transgender, Vernacchio said, but in this particular class none did); safer sex; relationships; sexual health; and the emotional and physical terrain of sexual activity. (The standard public-school curriculum sticks to S.T.I.’s and contraceptive methods, and it can go by in a blink; in a Kaiser Family Foundation survey, two-thirds of principals said that the subject was covered in just several class periods.) Vernacchio also teaches a mandatory six-session sexuality course for ninth graders that covers some of the same material presented to the older kids, though less fully.
The lessons that tend to raise eyebrows outside the school, according to Vernacchio, are a medical research video he shows of a woman ejaculating — students are allowed to excuse themselves if they prefer not to watch — and a couple of dozen up-close photographs of vulvas and penises. The photos, Vernacchio said, are intended to show his charges the broad range of what’s out there. “It’s really a process of desensitizing them to what real genitals look like so they’ll be less freaked out by their own and, one day, their partner’s,” he said. What’s interesting, he added, is that both the boys and girls receive the photographs of the penises rather placidly but often insist that the vulvas don’t look “normal.” “They have no point of reference for what a normal, healthy vulva looks like, even their own,” Vernacchio said. The female student-council vice president agreed: “When we did the biology unit, I probably would’ve been able to label just as many of the boys’ body parts as the girls’, which is sad. I mean, you should know about the names of your own body.”
Anne Summers at Daily Life writes, “The question no man ever gets asked“:
If once we were vapid creatures who, in the view of Sigmund Freud, could not decide what we wanted, now we are voracious careerists who want the lot. That the question is even posed is, of course, gratuitous and demeaning, since the “all” refers to having a job and a family. If you are a bloke, you can have it “all” without anyone raising an eyebrow – or even asking how you manage to “do it all”.
This was a source of particular irritation to Nicola Roxon who resigned as attorney-general earlier this month and who is leaving the Parliament at the next election because she wants to be at home for her young daughter. She often mentioned in media interviews that it really riled her that she was constantly asked how she managed to combine being a cabinet minister with being a wife and mother, whereas her male colleagues who were husbands and fathers were never asked the same question.
Douglas Martin has written an obituary for “Yvonne Brill, a Pioneering Rocket Scientist, Dies at 88“, thankfully now updated to remove most of the sexism:
Mrs. Brill — she preferred to be called Mrs., her son said — is believed to have been the only woman in the United States who was actually doing rocket science in the mid-1940s, when she worked on the first designs for an American satellite.
It was a distinction she earned in the face of obstacles, beginning when the University of Manitoba in Canada refused to let her major in engineering because there were no accommodations for women at an outdoor engineering camp, which students were required to attend.
“You just have to be cheerful about it and not get upset when you get insulted,” she once said.
A post by Lisa Wade PhD at Sociological Images, “Men-are-People and Women-are-Women: The Obituary Edition” outlines the changes made to the obituary by the New York Times.
An excellent guest post at Nursing Clio, “Same-Sex Marriage Does Threaten “Traditional” Marriage“:
Marriage equality is a threat to those who do not believe in EQUALITY between the sexes in general. Some who oppose marriage between two women or between two men believe that homosexuality is a sin, or that same-sex marriage harms children, or that it will lead to more divorces. But as I listened to the “protect traditional marriage” ralliers outside the U.S. Supreme Court hearings last week one unified message came through loud and clear: same-sex marriage threatens traditional marriage because it challenges ideas about proper gender roles.
Same-sex marriage makes a lie of the very foundation of traditional gender roles. Same-sex marriages say that a woman can run a household, or that a man can raise a child. This does not square with those whose lives and beliefs and relationships depend on upholding and living their lives based on differences between the sexes. Over and over on C-SPAN I hear people in 2013 arguing that both a mother and a father are needed in order to raise children – indeed, that children have a RIGHT to both a mother and a father. (And so, you see, proponents of same-sex marriage are not actually supporting the granting of rights, but rather the taking away of rights… of children. The twists in logic are mind-boggling.)
Peter Mercurio writes in The New York Times, “We Found Our Son in the Subway“:
The story of how Danny and I were married last July in a Manhattan courtroom, with our son, Kevin, beside us, began 12 years earlier, in a dark, damp subway station.
Danny called me that day, frantic. “I found a baby!” he shouted. “I called 911, but I don’t think they believed me. No one’s coming. I don’t want to leave the baby alone. Get down here and flag down a police car or something.” By nature Danny is a remarkably calm person, so when I felt his heart pounding through the phone line, I knew I had to run.
Judith Shulevitz at New Republic writes, “Why Do Grandmothers Exist? Solving an evolutionary mystery“:
Besides being classed among the oddities of the animal kingdom, post-menopausal women lack obvious utility. They tend to be weak. They don’t have much sex appeal. They eat food working people might make better use of. In Paraguay’s Ache tribe, aging women used to listen with terror for the footsteps of the young men whose job it was to sneak up on them with an ax and brain them. Most societies don’t actually murder their grannies, but that women manage to attain old age is an evolutionary mystery and requires explanation.
Some people deny that women did live past menopause, whether in the Pleistocene era or the nineteenth century. Before modern hygiene and medicine, the argument goes, people just didn’t live very long. But most scientists don’t think that anymore. It is true that, in the olden days, fewer people reached their golden years. Children dropped dead with disturbing ease, keeping life-expectancy averages low. But humans still had the capacity to live twice as long as our hominid ancestors. Those who got to 15 had about a 60 percent chance of making it to 45, at which point odds were respectable that they’d reach old age. Many anthropologists and biologists now believe that the bodies of Homo sapiens were designed to last about 72 years.
Stephanie Pappas at Live Science writes, “Men Who Blame Victim for Sexual Harassment Are Often Harassers“:
The findings are a confirmation of what social scientists had expected, said study researcher Colin Key, a psychologist at the University of Tennessee, Martin. But the results could help explain why some environments seem to foster sexual harassment, Key said.
“There are some toxic work environments where males dominate, and there is a culture that lets them engage in this action and then get away with it,” Key to LiveScience. Hopefully, this just adds to the knowledge that we need to target the whole system sometimes and not just these men.”
MarkCC at Good Math, Bad Math writes, “A White Boy’s Observations of Sexism and the Adria Richards Fiasco“:
See, I’m a white guy, born as a member of an upper middle class white family. That means that I’m awfully lucky. I’m part of the group that is, effectively, treated as the normal, default person in most settings. I’m also a guy who’s married to a chinese woman, and who’s learned a bit about how utterly clueless I am.
My own awakening about these kinds of things came from my time working at IBM. I’ve told this first story before, but it’s really worth repeating.
One year, I managed the summer intership programs for my department. The previous summer, IBM research had wound up with an intership class consisting of 99% men. (That’s not an estimate: that’s a real number. That year, IBM research hired 198 summer interns, of whom 2 were women.) For a company like IBM, numbers like that are scary. Ignoring all of the social issues of excluding potentially great candidates, numbers like that can open the company up to gender discrimination lawsuits!
So my year, they decided to encourage the hiring of more diverse candidates. The way that they did that was by allocating each department a budget for summer interns. They could only hire up to their budgeted number of interns. Only women and minority candidates didn’t count against the budget.
When the summer program hiring opened, my department was allocated a budget of six students. All six slots were gone within the first day. Every single one of them went to a white, american, male student.
yourlesbianfriend at Queer Guess Code writes, “Un-Memorizing the “Silence is Sexy” Date Script“:
A woman once told me pointedly something that has stayed with me to this day. We were kissing. Lying on the cold wood floor, my hand traveled across her stomach and she whispered, “I think we should take it slow.” I agreed immediately. Before moving in to kiss her again, I said, “Just tell me when to stop.”
This, I thought, was considerate. Respectful. Sexy. But she quickly corrected my mistake. Pulling away from me, her face took on a serious expression and the words she spoke illuminated a misunderstanding I had long nurtured, even as I knew myself to be a thoughtful feminist with much respect for other women.
In essence, what she said was, “Women are not given enough opportunities to say ‘yes.’”
Brendan Kiley at the Stranger writes, “Freedom Is Frustrating“:
One night a few weeks ago, it hosted its latest welcome-home party, for well-loved Reef employee Katherine Olejnik and her friend Matthew Duran. The two had been released that day from the SeaTac Federal Detention Center (FDC) after five months, including two months of solitary confinement, for refusing to answer arguably McCarthyesque questions about other people’s politics in front of a grand jury. The federal prosecutor was ostensibly interested in some political vandalism in Seattle on May Day—but neither Duran nor Olejnik were in Seattle during the demonstration. (Olejnik had been working a shift at the Reef.) Duran and Olejnik say they were shown photographs and asked to talk about who knew whom, who lived with whom, and whether those people were anarchists. When Duran and Olejnik refused to answer, they were sent to prison for civil contempt. At the time, Olejnik’s attorney, Jenn Kaplan, said, “I’d hate for the public to think of her as an obstacle to a prosecution rather than as a principled person.”
Lindy West at Jezebel writes, “If I Admit That ‘Hating Men’ Is a Thing, Will You Stop Turning It Into a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy?“:
Though it is a seductive scapegoat (I understand why it attracts you), none of these terrible, painful problems in your life were caused by the spectre of “misandry.” You can rest easy about that, I promise! In fact, the most powerful proponent of misandry in modern internet discourse is you — specifically, your dogged insistence that misandry is a genuine, systemic, oppressive force on par with misogyny. This is specious, it hurts women, and it is hurting you. Most feminists don’t hate men, as a group (we hate the system that disproportionately favors men at the expense of women), but — congratulations! — we are starting to hate you. You, the person. Your obsession with misandry has turned misandry into a self-fulfilling prophecy. (I mean, sort of. Hating individual men is not the same as hating all men. But more on that in a minute.) Are you happy now? Is this what you wanted? Feminism is, in essence, a social justice movement—it wants to take the side of the alienated and the marginalized, and that includes alienated and marginalized men. Please stop turning us against you.
It is nearly impossible to address problems facing women—especially problems in which men are even tangentially culpable—without comments sections devolving into cries of “misandry!” from men and replies of “misandry isn’t real” from women. Feminists are tired of this endless, fruitless turd-pong: hollow “conversation” built on willful miscommunication, bouncing back and forth, back and forth, until both sides throw up their hands and bolt. Maybe you are tired of this too. We seem to be having some very deep misunderstandings on this point, so let’s unpack it. I promise not to yell.