Posted: June 16, 2013 at 1:18 am | Tags: polyamory, relationships
So, I’m going to get all ranty pants here about polyamory because… just argh. Now I’m totally on board with the fact that there is no “one true way” to do polyamory, I think there are several ways to manage multiple relationships and what works well for me isn’t necessarily going to work well for others. However, this does not mean that there aren’t SEVERAL ways to do polyamory all wrong.
I’m not going to list all of them here, because I’ve done some of it before, and there are books about how to not do polyamory wrong, but I’ve had some serious problems with current media interest in polyamory – some of which is the fault of the media (such as who they select to represent people who are poly), and some of it is the cringe-worthy ways in which those who are deemed media friendly discuss polyamory.
So, an article in The Age, from January (I’ve been stewing on this for some months), interviewed several people I know. The article’s title is poorly chosen, “The power of three“, as if poly configurations are only ever in 3. I mean it’s nice and safe to report it that way, you have a couple with one other partner, or a triad. These are easy things for people unfamiliar with polyamory and all it’s permutations to understand. Particularly if the couple deems their relationship to be the central one, and any other partner is a lesser relationship – that continues traditional thought about marriages and partnerships being central to your life and everything else is secondary.
But for those of us (and really there are so many more with different configurations) whose relationships don’t centre around the a central couple, or a triad – we’re not exactly being considered and in fact being made invisible in the media discussion about what non-monogamy looks like. This isn’t a bad thing right now, Australia has enough political and religious bigotry alarm about marriage equality without throwing polyamory in the mix. And to add to the fact that it isn’t always safe for people to come out as non-monogamous as it may impact their employment, visa status, custody arrangements, etc. To complicate matters further, when people are in long strings of relationships, such as me, and my three partners, and their partners, and their partners, etc – where do you draw the line in discussing publicly who is with who, and who do you out, and what happens if someone doesn’t want any media attention?
But anyway, let’s go to the article at hand, and just quietly the use of “polyamorist” makes me twitch.
Lee always knew that Ramsey’s ambition was to form a triad. He was “burnt”, he says, from past experiences at the centre of what is known as a “V”, where one person has two separate concurrent relationships with two people, who are not connected to each other. “I made it clear I was no longer interested in a ‘V’ relationship,” Ramsey says. “I had been there, done that, and it was exhausting, extraordinarily taxing.”
I think the biggest problem I have with articles such as this is that because only a small segment of the community it talking (for reasons discussed above), it comes across that the participants are the be all and end all of polyamory. That there way is the right way, and what they dismiss is completely valid to dismiss.
Now, as someone in a Y (because I have three partners, so not a V), I don’t find it at all exhausting or taxing. I think I’d find a triad a lot harder, and I know many people who’d feel that way too. I love the way my partners interact, the friendships they have, and the way they support each other when needed. Really they make my life fantastic, and I wouldn’t exchange the way I love and live.
Now I know that my style of relationship isn’t for everyone, but I wouldn’t make a comment that it was “exhausting, extraordinarily taxing” without lots of additional explanation. It is entirely possible that Darren did explain why that was so for him, but that’s not in the article.
He says, “You just tell people, in no uncertain terms, ‘This is my view of the world, this is what I like. This is what I expect. If you want to be part of it, get on board. If not, step off the train at the next station.’ ”
Yeah no… Negotiation and compromise are a HUGE part of polyamory. Dictating terms has you come across as an arsehole. Sometimes there aren’t compromises that work for all parties, but you work on finding one before determining that there isn’t one. There will always be hard boundaries, and that’s reasonable, but generally those things don’t come as shocks to people. Being told that entering a relationship with Darren means a triad, or if already in a relationship with Darren and he’s decided that it’s now going to be a triad – that shit isn’t cool.
We are constantly told that lasting relationships require compromise, but polyamorists don’t agree, which makes their lifestyle – depending on your view – either the purest extension of personal liberty or rank individualism.
For his part, Darren Ramsey says he doesn’t “play the compromise game. Compromise is a game of lose-lose … it means both people have to give something up in order to get very little,” he explains. “I firmly believe everybody can have everything they want.”
Just no. Seriously all lasting relationships require compromise, whether they are polyamorous or monogamous. Being human and living in society requires compromise. Compromise is not a lose-lose game if you walk into that conversation ready to listen to what the other person has to say and what they need. If you have your partner’s best interests at heart then you can generally find a compromise that will work. It might be a short-term setback to your plans, but taking other people’s desires and needs into account would suggest that you care about them. Not taking their desires and needs into account would suggest you don’t.
Again, there will be times when people refuse to negotiate and compromise and for me, that’s a deal breaker. Fail to negotiate in good faith with me, with the aim of finding or working towards a solution that means we can all get our needs and desires met in some mutually satisfying form – I’m unlikely to be in or enter into a relationship with you.
To suggest that all compromise is bad is doing polyamory wrong.
To most people, the idea of seeing their partner have sex, or even receive an intimate cuddle, from someone else is as appealing as being skinned alive with a blunt potato peeler. But polyamorists insist that jealousy is a pointless emotion that can be worked through and dealt with, if not completely cured.
“I don’t know that you would find a child born that feels jealousy. It is a learnt behaviour,” says Ramsey. “We didn’t pop out of the womb saying, ‘Damn that next kid coming along.’ It just doesn’t happen that way.” Parents of warring small children may disagree, but Ramsey is insistent. “Jealousy is an indicator that something else is going on … it is coming from a place of insecurity.”
This on the other hand is great. One of the first questions I get asked is how I cope with other people sleeping with “my man”, or how “my man” copes with me sleeping with other people. Even my two GPs asked me this question when I outed myself to them. Jealousy is a multi-layered emotional response that can be worked through. Mine typically involves insecurity and once I can figure out what I am feeling insecure about I can seek reassurance and work through that. The other bit of my jealousy is far more envy or, “I want to be doing that!”. So I go off and do that, or ask myself if I really want to do that, and then do it if I do.
And now because I have two great poly blog posts that I entire agree with, I’m going to put all the bits up that I massively agree with and comment on them as appropriate. These two posts tie in neatly with The Age article, so it all fits together neatly. From Heartless Bitches, “Poly People I Can Do Without“:
Now I have nothing against casual sex and the people who enjoy and practice it *responsibly*. The “poly” people I can do with out are the ones who want to be able to do WHAT they want, WHEN they want, with no regard or consideration for the feelings of their other “partners”. And I’m not talking about the occasional time that we ALL do something that we didn’t realize would adversely affect a partner – I’m talking about people who USE other people for their own gratification and don’t CARE if something they do is hurtful to another. They think that by using the word “poly” to describe their behavior, they can somehow legitimize discourteous, disrespectful, careless, and self-centered behavior. The worst of these types will be courteous and considerate so long as nothing impinges on THEIR want of the moment, leading a partner to trust and believe in them. But the moment they want something that might adversely affect a partner, consideration and caring are conveniently discarded as unnecessary burdens. And any bad feelings a partner may experience as a result of this behavior are also treated as excessive burdens which THEY don’t want to have to deal with.
For me this ties into the comment made by Darren that compromise is lose-lose. I’m sure that Darren would be shocked to see his comment interpreted this way though.
“Responsible” means being honest and mature enough to sometimes change your plans (delay gratification) to show care and consideration for how your actions might affect a partner.
Responsible” means telling your partner the TRUTH when you are having uncomfortable feelings instead of encouraging them to do something, and then complaining that it hurt you after the fact.
“Responsible” means being HONEST and not having a hidden agenda. It means talking to your partner OPENLY about expectations. It means telling your partner the same thing you are telling other people.
Oh goodness all of this. The number of stories I have heard from people regarding partners who say they are happy with one thing and then complaining about how much it hurt them later, and the number of stories I’ve head about people who won’t compromise because they want it and they want it now, and the number of times I’ve heard people discuss their hidden agenda.
I’m tired of people who pay lip service to “personal responsibility”, saying that they “take responsibility” for their actions, but then refuse to do anything about any resulting pain or damage those actions cause. What they are REALLY saying is, “I take responsibility for the EXECUTION of my actions, but I take no responsibility for the EFFECT or RESULTS my actions may have on you or others.” And there you have it folks, Personal Responsibility Lite ™. Tastes Great, less filling! All of the lip service, none of the work! Any expectation of true acceptance of responsibility will have them parading themselves around as “victims” of your unreasonable expectations.
This type of shit is another deal breaker for me. If you do something that hurt me, and refuse to acknowledge that your actions resulted in me being hurt, then yeah…
I’m tired of double standards: People who want consideration for THEIR feelings from other partners, but then don’t want to make the same concessions and consideration for OTHERS. Someone who identifies as “poly” actually said to me “Taking your feelings into consideration means I wouldn’t get to do what I WANT”.
This is not about changing fundamental behavior and sacrificing basic NEEDS – this is about people who cannot delay gratification for a WANT long enough to take someone else’s feelings about their behavior into consideration. They will imply that *any* expectation of consideration for how their actions might hurt someone else is “manipulative” and “controlling”. And I’m not talking about mono/poly paradigm issues here, I’m talking about people who call themselves “polyamourous” and have “poly” partners, but think any expectation of modifying behavior to take someone else’s feelings into consideration is unreasonable. They call themselves “polyamourous” as an attempt to legitimize ego-centric behavior, or because they can’t trust themselves to be honest or faithful. This doesn’t meet MY definition of “responsible” and it sure as hell doesn’t do anything with the “amoury” half of “polyamoury”… Ironically, these are the FIRST people to get upset when someone ELSE doesn’t take THEIR feelings into account. And if you can’t trust yourself, what the HELL are you doing encouraging other people to trust and believe in you?
Really no further comment.
Polyamoury – the loving kind, isn’t an easy road to travel. It requires immense amounts of communication, honesty, trust and WORK. For me, I would add that “Safe Poly People” are people who don’t AVOID problems by dishonesty and betrayal of trust, but have the strength of character to work (and yes, suffer) THROUGH a problem in order to solve it. They don’t copout and blame their inability to deal with a problem on the other person’s “anger” or because they “fear confrontation”. They don’t blame others for their fears, problems and mistakes. And they don’t play the “martyr”.
And yes this. If you believe that the immense amounts of communication, honesty, trust and work are likely to burn you out or be taxing, perhaps poly isn’t for you.
Sex Geek writes a great article on which I borrowed a couple of points earlier in this piece, titled “the problem with polynormativity”:
The problem—and it’s hardly surprising—is that the form of poly that’s getting by far the most airtime is the one that’s as similar to traditional monogamy as possible, because that’s the least threatening to the dominant social order.
At its most basic, I’d say some people’s poly looks good to the mainstream, and some people’s doesn’t. The mainstream loves to think of itself as edgy, sexy and cool. The mainstream likes to co-opt whatever fresh trendy thing it can in order to convince itself that it’s doing something new and exciting, because that sells magazines, event tickets, whatever. The mainstream likes to do all this while erecting as many barriers as it can against real, fundamental value shifts that might topple the structure of How the World Works. In this case, that structure is the primacy of the couple.
The media presents a clear set of poly norms, and overwhelmingly showcases people who speak about and practice polyamory within those norms. I’ll refer to this as polynormativity.
1. Polyamory starts with a couple. … Polyamory is presented as a thing that a couple does, as opposed to a relationship philosophy and approach that individual people ascribe to, as a result of which they may end up as part of a couple but—because poly!—may just as well be partnered with six people, or part of a triad, or single, or what have you.
Now I agree with the first part of the cut I’ve put here and I do have a comment on the first of the four norms that make up polynormativity. I wonder (based on my own experience) if poly is presented as a thing that a couple does, because so many couples (often married) find out about it, talk about it, and then decide to transition from monogamy to polyamory. Clearly the two people in the couple are individual people, but so many people think of a couple as a unit – so even with the transition from monogamy to polyamory, the rest of the world would see the couple unit. It’s not a good reason for polynormativity, but it might be why this exists.
2. Polyamory is hierarchical. Following from the norm that poly begins (and presumably ends) with two, we must of course impose a hierarchy on whatever else happens. Else, how would we know who the actual real couple is in all this? If you add more people, it might get blurry and confusing! Thus, the idea of primary relationships and secondary relationships emerges. This is what I call hierarchical poly.
“Primary” implies top-level importance. “Secondary” implies less importance. Within this model, it’s completely normal to put one person’s feelings ahead of another’s as a matter of course. Let me say this again. It’s completely normal, even expected, that one person’s feelings, desires and opinions will matter more than another’s. It is normal for one person to be flown in first class and the other in economy as a matter of course, based on their respective status alone.
And this is why I don’t have a hierarchy of my partners, because ew. My partners are my partners and I love them all. I don’t rank them over each other, and even suggesting I do so is gross.
I can understand why people do this when they first transition from monogamy to polyamory, it’s a scary ride that requires the rewriting of the social handbook of relationships, but to keep doing it after you’ve settled into polyamory suggests to me that you care less about the other people in your life than the one you wandered into polyamory with. And that’s not as cool.
With that in mind, I will add a plea here directed at poly people: if you don’t mean to create or imply a hierarchy, don’t use “primary” and “secondary” as shorthand. … Instead of “primary,” talk about your domestic partner, your long-term partner, the person you spend most of your time with, your husband or wife—whatever applies. Instead of “secondary,” talk about your occasional date, your casual lover, your boyfriend or girlfriend or secret agent lover man, your annual long-distance affair, your new squeeze with whom you’re just figuring things out, or whatever other terms explain what you’re up to. None of these are about hierarchy. They’re just relationship descriptors. … On the flip side, don’t just drop using the words “primary” and “secondary” in order to look less hierarchical while still making relationship decisions in a very firmly hierarchy-based manner. No false advertising in either direction, okay?
Let me clarify my position here just in case. There is nothing wrong with serious, long-term, committed domestic partnership. There is also nothing wrong with dating casually, and feeling just fine about hanging out with a sweetie way less often than that sweetie hangs out with their spouse, say. Sometimes, a relationship is just not destined to be long-term, or domestic, or local, or involve meeting each other’s parents. This is not a bad thing. It’s just a thing. It’s also not the same thing as being “secondary.” I am not playing with semantics here. I’m talking about frameworks for viewing relationships, making decisions, coming up with rules—more on that in the next point—and treating real, live human beings.
This is the wassname to my previous point. I really like relationship descriptors. I say I live with my two husbands and my girlfriend lives with her husband. I say that I also live with my husband’s boyfriend. Some of us have new relationships, casual relationships, smushes, friends with benefits, relationships which are becoming serious, relationships which are ending, crushes, etc.
3. Polyamory requires a lot of rules. If we start out with a couple, and we want to keep that couple firmly in its place as “primary” with all others as “secondary,” well, of course we need to come up with a bunch of rules to make sure it all goes according to plan, right? Right.
This is a control-based approach to polyamory that, while not exclusive to couple-based primary-secondary models, is almost inevitable within them. Rules are implicitly set by the “primaries,” the “poly couple”—at least that’s how most discussions of rules are presented. Some books and websites will tell you (“you” presumably being someone who’s part of a currently-monogamous, about-to-be-poly couple) that it’s really super important not only to have rules, but also to set them out before you go out and do this polyamory thing. If ever you wanted confirmation of the very clearly secondary status of “secondary” partners, this is it: the rules get set before they even show up, and they have no say in ‘em. Again… we think this is progressive?
Again if you are in the process of transitioning from monogamy to polyamory you are likely to have rules because of all the scripts you have to rewrite. And these rules will be unfair on people you initially get involved with. The lesson is to a) come to the realisation that these rules are unfair; and b) find sufficient trust in your existing relationship to relax the rules.
4. Polyamory is heterosexual(-ish). Also, cute and young and white. Also new and exciting and sexy! This element of polynormativity doesn’t relate directly to the other three, but since we are talking about media representation here, it’s well worth mentioning. Polyamory is resolutely presented in the media as a thing heterosexuals do, except sometimes for bisexual women who have a primary male partner and secondary female partners. It is exceedingly rare for lesbian, gay or queer poly configurations to be included in mainstream representations of polyamory, even though LGBQ circles are absolute hotbeds of polyamorous activity, and LGBQ people have a long and illustrious history of non-monogamy, recent enthusiasm about marriage notwithstanding. Go to just about any LGBQ gathering—even the most mainstream—and you can’t swing a cat without hitting at least half a dozen people who are doing some sort of non-monogamy, from regular “monogamish” bathhouse adventures to full-on poly families. It’s so common that it feels (gasp!) normal.
But if the mainstream media were to give too many column inches to LGBQ polyamory, then people might think poly is a gay thing, and that wouldn’t sell nearly as many magazines. So the typical polynormative hype article goes something like, “Meet Bob and Sue. They’re a poly couple. They’re primary partners and they date women together.” Or “they each date women on the side” or “they have sex parties in their basement” or sometimes, though more rarely, “Bob dates women and Sue dates men.” Mainstream representations rarely break the “one penis per party” rule, which is exactly as offensive as it sounds. You don’t get Bob dating Dave, or Sue dating Tim and Jim and John while Bob stays home with a movie. Because whoa! That’s just going too far. I mean, playing around with women is one thing, but if you bring a second man into the picture, don’t the two guys need to, like, duke it out? Prove who’s manlier? Because evolutionary psychology! Because nature! Because when there is a penis (and only one penis) involved it is real sex and that means a real relationship and we must have a real relationship to have a primary-secondary structure and we must have a primary-secondary structure to be a poly couple! (Hmm. So maybe this part does relate to my other three points after all.)
I’m happy at least in the media in Australia, although we’ve had mostly white people being interviewed, there is a large age range. Yes they’re all conventionally attractive, but at least we’ve had a diversity of ages.
It’s late, I need to sleep and if I’ve left anything out, or haven’t made sufficient sense, let me know and I’ll write any addendums that need writing.
Posted: June 8, 2013 at 10:35 pm | Tags: bisexuality, body, body image, disability, environment, Feminism, gender roles, history, lgbtiq, media, politics, polyamory, privilege, racism, rape, relationships, sexism, suicide
I’ve found many wonderful things to read in May, so I will share them with you. I’ve also switched over to Newsblur, which has a sharing functionality, now that Google Reader is on it’s way out. It is a paid service (around $26 per year), but awesome. If you are on Newsblur, look me up, I’m under bluebec.
And onto the articles. First up this month is “The Suicide Epidemic” *obvious trigger warning*:
The fact is, self-harm has become a worldwide concern. This emerged in the new Global Burden of Disease report, published in The Lancet this past December. It’s the largest ever effort to document what ails, injures, and exterminates the species. But allow me to save you the reading. Humankind’s biggest health problem is humankind.
Soraya Chemaly writes in the Huffington Post, “The Problem with ‘Boys Will Be Boys’” *trigger warning for discussion around rape*:
I know it’s a lurid metaphor, but I taught my daughter the preschool block precursor of don’t “get raped” and this child, Boy #1, did not learn the preschool equivalent of “don’t rape.”
Not once did his parents talk to him about invading another person’s space and claiming for his own purposes something that was not his to claim. Respect for my daughter and her work and words was not something he was learning. It was, to them, some kind of XY entitlement. How much of the boy’s behavior in coming years would be excused in these ways, be calibrated to meet these expectations and enforce the “rules” his parents kept repeating?
There was another boy who, similarly, decided to knock down her castle one day. When he did it his mother took him in hand, explained to him that it was not his to destroy, asked him how he thought my daughter felt after working so hard on her building and walked over with him so he could apologize. That probably wasn’t much fun for him, but he did not do it again.
Some good news from the Climate Spectator, “Australian CO2 emissions hit 10-year low“:
Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions from electricity generation have fallen to a 10-year low as coal-fired power slumped to its lowest level in a decade, a new report says.
At the same time, the share of renewable energy in the National Electricity Market (NEM) has soared beyond 12 per cent and looks set to continue rising.
In its latest quarterly emissions outlook, energy and carbon research firm RepuTex found coal power made up 74.8 per cent of the NEM in the three months ended in March – its lowest point in 10 years.
Coal was at more than 85 per cent of the NEM four years ago, when wind made up just half a per cent of the overall mix.
Today, wind generation is at 3.8 per cent, hydro 8.7 per cent and gas at 12.7 per cent of the NEM.
Alex White at The Guardian writes, “Is the ‘carbon tax’ the reason for the PM’s low popularity, or is it Murdoch?“:
The apocalyptic predictions made by Tony Abbott did not come to pass. The sky didn’t fall. Mining and manufacturing towns weren’t wiped off the map. Regional airlines didn’t double their prices. The carbon price wrecking ball, python strike and cobra squeeze has not impacted Australia’s interest rates, employment levels or inflation.
Support for the carbon price, and opposition to it, narrowed and equalised.
What didn’t happen was an increase in Labor’s vote. Throughout 2011 and 2012, while the carbon price’s stocks fell, Labor’s also remained low. From 1 July 2012, the two numbers decoupled. Labor’s polling remained stuck, while opposition to the carbon price declined and support increased.
This month, we passed an unprecedented milestone: global carbon levels exceeded levels not seen in over 3 million years. The carbon price in Australia has contributed to a 10-year low in carbon emissions. Few in Australia have noticed either turning point. Meanwhile, conservative state governments have quietly been dismantling carbon reduction policies established by the previous Labor governments, wilfully ignoring warnings by the scientific community of the risks.
Amanda Marcotte at The Raw Story writes, “Fringe Misogynists Expose Themselves To The Houston Chronicle“:
That’s why I have mixed feelings about the Houston Chronicle covering the “controversy” over the existence of Women in Secularism. My concern is that the inevitable process of quoting people from “both sides” creates a false equivalence, much like having climate scientists “debate” global warming denialists creates the illusion that there’s a controversy, when in fact it’s more akin to a struggle between reasonable people and irrationalists with an agenda. You see that problem in this piece. The feminist voices are, by and large, mainstream voices of actual experts who are supported by the mainstream secularist community. The anti-feminists are fringe characters who run hate sites and have had the Southern Poverty Law Center look into them. There’s not an authentic conflict here, but more a story about how normal people going about important business are being harassed by fringe characters with nothing of value to say.
Steven Petrow at The New York Times writes, “What Is the Right Way to Come Out as Bisexual at Work?“:
Over the years I’ve frequently heard from my bi friends that it’s harder for them to come out than it is for those of us who are gay or lesbian because of the enduring myths about being bisexual. Stereotypes persist, and many people think that identifying as bi means 1) you’re going through a phase, 2) you’re promiscuous or 3) you’re really gay but not telling the truth. In fact, many of those in our generation of L.G.B.T. people did claim to be bisexual, when we were gay or lesbian all along but not yet ready to acknowledge it even to ourselves. That’s not deceitful; it’s part of coming to terms with your sexuality.
These old stereotypes don’t die easily. They are so alive and well, in fact, that when I posed your question on my Facebook page I was shocked by some of the venomous responses. It was the first time any topic has caused the Facebook algorithm to hide posts because of the language, and I’ve had to edit the remarks heavily to let even these few appear here…
Andy Palmer at The Limping Chicken writes about Matt Dixon’s experience in “I had to tell my dad he was going to die, because he wasn’t given a sign language interpreter”:
Matt remembers how the cancer centre handled the issue of booking further interpreters for his dad. “They asked me to do it and I said I would but only if there were no interpreters available. For all the scans, blood tests and the chemotherapy that followed they never ever booked an interpreter for him again – even though written on the front of Dad’s file, in big red felt pen, it said: PROFOUNDLY DEAF.”
“At the first chemotherapy appointment my dad was all smiles. I asked the receptionist who the interpreter was and she replied ‘Oh, really sorry, we can’t get one.’ I just had to go with the flow. I was used to it from my life communicating for my family and I didn’t know about the Equality Act back then, all that I was bothered about was my dad.”
“I asked them to book an interpreter for the next appointment but they didn’t and that next appointment was for the results of a scan following the first chemotherapy treatment. It was an important meeting to see if the cancer had spread or not. I relayed to my dad, acting once again as his interpreter, that the cancer had not grown.”
Anna P guest posts at Feministe, “How to be an ally with bisexuals“:
- Keep in mind that bisexuality exists when considering someone’s possible sexual orientation. If a person is in a same-sex relationship, don’t assume they’re gay. If a person is in an opposite-sex relationship, don’t assume they’re straight. If a person once dated a man but is now dating a woman, or vice versa, don’t assume one of those relationships was a sham and the other represents their true orientation. If a woman is in a sexual relationship with a man, don’t assume anything she does with a woman is just a show put on for his benefit (by the way, don’t forget polyamory exists too.)
- Don’t tell someone they’re not really bisexual. You don’t know their feelings. Even if someone has only dated men (or women), it doesn’t mean they’re not also attracted to the other sex.
Charlie Jane Anders at io9 writes, “They mocked her “science fantasy.” Then she wrote Empire Strikes Back.“:
Leigh Brackett wrote the first script draft of Star Wars: The Empire Strikes back, and her contributions helped make the saga epic.
But before Brackett had a major hand in creating the best Star Wars movie, she was a science fiction novelist in the 1940s, writing a slew of space adventure novels with titles like The Starmen and Alpha Centauri or Die!. People called her the Queen of Space Opera — and it was not always a compliment.
At that time, space opera (like Star Wars) was looked down upon as less worthy of appreciation than other types of pulp fiction, including other types of science fiction. Brackett also wrote a lot of pulp crime fiction, and had co-written the screenplay for The Big Sleepwith William Faulkner. But she chose to spend a lot of her time writing these despised novels.
David Wong at Cracked writes, “The 5 Ugly Lessons Hiding in Every Superhero Movie“:
Superman’s awesome crystal fortress in the arctic isn’t called Fort CrystalPunch or Castle SuperPenis or Superman’s Ice Hole. It’s called the freaking Fortress of Solitude. Yes, you’re immortal and impossibly strong and can shoot lasers from your eyes, clearly you need a place to be alone, where you can quietly weep and write your poetry about how the world is a cruel, frozen wasteland.
But solitude is a requirement in these stories. Tony Stark literally has to have his secretary perform heart gadget surgery because, in his own words, “I don’t have anyone but you.”
Jason Bailey at Flavorwire writes, “Guess What: Hollywood’s ‘Bridesmaids’ Revolution Never Happened“:
Hey, remember back when Bridesmaids came out, and everybody was all, “It’s your social responsibility to support female-driven comedy,” and then it was a hit, so yay for funny ladies? And then The Hunger Games came out, and everybody was all, “It’s your social responsibility to support a female-driven blockbuster,” and then it was a hit, so yay for lady ass-kickers? Well, as it turns out, none of that mattered a lick, because according to a study released yesterday by the USC Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism, female representation in popular films is at its lowest level in five years. So thanks for nothing, Hollywood.
For those who are Goodies fans like me, a bit of history on the BT Tower (famously knocked over by Twinkle in Kitten Kong), an article written by Joe Fay at The Register, “BT Tower is just a relic? Wrong: It relays 18,000hrs of telly daily“:
Moving on to the present day, the tower is arguably still the most important communications nerve centre in the UK, but this has little to do with its original purpose.
It started life as The Post Office Tower: a radio mast designed as a hub for a national microwave network that was seen as the future of telecoms.
It was officially opened in 1965, four years after construction started. According to a wonderful 1970 brochure BT gave us, the spire – later renamed the BT Tower – was expected to provide four microwave paths, carrying “150,000 simultaneous telephone conversations or 100 both-way television channels”.
Cliff Pervocracy at The Pervocracy writes, “What I Mean When I Say I’m Sex-Positive“:
And I’m realizing that’s a painfully ambiguous term. I’ve seen people use it to mean everything from “not viewing sex as inherently evil” to “insisting that everyone should have tons of orgasms and it’ll solve all their problems.” You can see how people using the first definition could have some seriously unproductive arguments with people thinking they’re using the second.
About the “orgasms for everyone!” thing. It’s not entirely a strawman. I once saw a presentation by Annie Sprinkle (who clearly wrote her own Wikipedia page) where she basically argued that we would have world peace and feminist utopia if everyone in all the armies just fucked and had orgasms instead. It’s superficially sweet-sounding–yay, pleasure!–but there’s some really obvious problems. Not everyone can have orgasms, not everyone wants orgasms, and there are lots of people who have fabulous orgasms but they’re still assholes.
Over at The Hawkeye Initiative, “Special Guest Edition: The Hawkeye Initiative IRL!“:
work with an all-female team of data scientists, in the gaming industry. This makes me the professional equivalent of Amelia Earhart riding the Loch Ness Monster.
I love my job. Our company in particular is great. Firstly, our game (HAWKEN) is beautiful and people love it. Secondly, half of our executive branch is female. Half of them are punk rock, and all of them are badassed. Our gender awareness standards, compared to the industry at large, are top shelf. We are talking Amelia Earhart in Atlantis, at a five star resort, getting a mani-pedi from Jensen Ackles. I have it good.
For the last six months of my tenure at Meteor Entertainment, there has been only one thing I did not love about my job.
Felicia Day writes, “Star Trek Movie: SPOILERZZZZ“:
Where are the women? The strong women? The women we’d like to see in 200 years? Where are they in this world? They certainly aren’t around the roundtable when the Starfleet are learning about Khan (there might have been one in that scene, if so that extra was not cut to in any significant manner to be notable.) In the scene where Kirk gets his ship back and the admiral is having a meeting with “important” people around a table later, I failed to see ONE WOMAN AROUND THAT TABLE, ALL MOSTLY WHITE MEN IMPLIED TO BE MAKING IMPORTANT DECISIONS TOGETHER. Yes, these are just scenes with extras, but seriously, in the future not one woman over 40 is in charge in this world?! How can that happen?
For main characters, Uhura had a FEW nice scenes (as a vehicle to humanize Spock mostly), but that other woman character was the WORST damsel in distress ever. I kept waiting for her turn, waiting for her to not be the victim, to be a bit cleverer, to add to the equation in a “yeah you go girl” way but no, she was there to be sufficiently sexy that Kirk would acknowledge her existence, to be pretty, to serve the plot. I loved her bob. That’s it. What if she had been a less attractive woman, older, overweight? A tomboy? Wouldn’t have that been a tad more interesting choice? Or at least give her a moment where she’s not a princess waiting to be saved. From a director who is so amazing, who created wonderful female characters in Alias and Felicity, I was super bummed by this. A woman character CAN exist without having to be sexually desired by the guy. Oh, and she doesn’t have to be a lesbian either, OMG WHAT A SURPRISING IDEA!
Jane J Lee at National Geographic writes, “6 Women Scientists Who Were Snubbed Due to Sexism“:
Over the centuries, female researchers have had towork as “volunteer” faculty members, seen credit for significant discoveries they’ve made assigned to male colleagues, and been written out of textbooks.
They typically had paltry resources and fought uphill battles to achieve what they did, only “to have the credit attributed to their husbands or male colleagues,” said Anne Lincoln, a sociologist at Southern Methodist University in Texas, who studies biases against women in the sciences.
Today’s women scientists believe that attitudes have changed, said Laura Hoopes at Pomona College in California, who has written extensively on women in the sciences—”until it hits them in the face.” Bias against female scientists is less overt, but it has not gone away.
Here are six female researchers who did groundbreaking work—and whose names are likely unfamiliar for one reason: because they are women.
Saman Shad at SBS World News writes, “Comment: Why are we debating ‘blackface’ in 2013?“:
But the question remains are we throwing the word ‘racist’ around willy-nilly? I guess the same question can be asked for sexism. Can a guy at work no longer comment on his female colleague’s legs and say that she’s got great pins? No. It makes the woman feel uncomfortable, it casts her as an object. This is a base comparison but for some it can help to understand the same stands true when the word racist is said. If something you said makes an outdated assumption or objectifies a person of colour then it’s probably racist.
A video on ABC News of one of their news cadets who happens to be blind, and the accommodations the ABC has put in place to help her do her job. Sadly the manager is a bit trope-y about how inspiring Nas Campanella is, and how a sighted person couldn’t possibly manage the way Nas can. Sadly the video isn’t captioned (that I can see).
At [insert literary reference], “Why Do Men Keep Putting Me in the Girlfriend-Zone?“:
You know how it is, right, ladies? You know a guy for a while. You hang out with him. You do fun things with him—play video games, watch movies, go hiking, go to concerts. You invite him to your parties. You listen to his problems. You do all this because you think he wants to be your friend.
But then, then comes the fateful moment where you find out that all this time, he’s only seen you as a potential girlfriend. And then if you turn him down, he may never speak to you again. This has happened to me time after time: I hit it off with a guy, and, for all that I’ve been burned in the past, I start to think that this one might actually care about me as a person. And then he asks me on a date.
An interesting discussion in The Economist about “The plough and the now“, how farming techniques may have led to patriarchy:
FERNAND BRAUDEL, a renowned French historian, once described a remarkable transformation in the society of ancient Mesopotamia. Sometime before the end of the fifth millennium BC, he wrote, the fertile region between the Tigris and the Euphrates went from being one that worshipped “all-powerful mother goddesses” to one where it was “the male gods and priests who were predominant in Sumer and Babylon.” The cause of this move from matriarchy, Mr Braudel argued, was neither a change in law nor a wholesale reorganisation of politics. Rather, it was a fundamental change in the technology the Mesopotamians used to produce food: the adoption of the plough.
The plough was heavier than the tools formerly used by farmers. By demanding significantly more upper-body strength than hoes did, it gave men an advantage over women. According to Mr Braudel, women in ancient Mesopotamia had previously been in charge of the fields and gardens where cereals were grown. With the advent of the plough, however, farming became the work of men. A new paper* by Alberto Alesina and Nathan Nunn of Harvard University and Paola Giuliano of the University of California, Los Angeles, finds striking evidence that ancient agricultural techniques have very long-lasting effects.
Kameron Hurley at A Dribble of Ink has written, “‘We Have Always Fought’: Challenging the ‘Women, Cattle and Slaves’ Narrative“, possibly one of my favourite posts of this year, and certainly one which has reminded me I need to write two novels:
When I sat down with one of my senior professors in Durban, South Africa to talk about my Master’s thesis, he asked me why I wanted to write about women resistance fighters.
“Because women made up twenty percent of the ANC’s militant wing!” I gushed. “Twenty percent! When I found that out I couldn’t believe it. And you know – women have never been part of fighting forces –”
He interrupted me. “Women have always fought,” he said.
“What?” I said.
“Women have always fought,” he said. “Shaka Zulu had an all-female force of fighters. Women have been part of every resistance movement. Women dressed as men and went to war, went to sea, and participated actively in combat for as long as there have been people.”
And now to bra fitting (UK sizing used), Sam at A Thousand Angsty Whales, all pumping iron (best blog title ever) writes, “DO IT NOW: Guide to Proper Bra Fit and Measuring because Victoria Secret and La Senza and whatever are full of shit and you are definitely wearing the wrong size ok? ok“.
Ann Aguirre writes, “This week in SF“:
So yeah. The audience noticed. I had slightly better experiences at WorldCon and ArmadilloCon, but I suspect it wasn’t as bad because I was roaming around with Sharon Shinn, who has more power and cachet than I had at that time. But I still encountered more than my share of fans, who dismissed my work. At that point, I was disheartened, and I stopped attending SFF cons entirely. I decided I’d rather spend my travel money otherwise. To quote my wonderful friend, Lauren Dane, “If I want to feel bad about myself, I’ll go swimsuit shopping.” My professional work shouldn’t be impacted by my gender, my appearance, my religion, my sexuality, my skin tone, or any other factor. The fact that it is? Makes me so very sad. I’ve had readers and writers stare at my rack instead of my face while “teaching” me how to suck eggs.
I’ve been fighting this battle for five years now.
Marianne at xojane writes, “Go On And Call Me Fat; It’s True“:
There is something incredibly powerful about seeing the word “fat” in print (metaphorical though that print may be in a virtual environment) when it isn’t attached to pictures of headless fatties and headlines about my impending death — and how much I’m costing society just by existing. It’s almost like feeling that our culture doesn’t want to eradicate me and my body.
That’s not a message I get anywhere else.
I use the word “fat” a whole hell of a lot. I use it so often that the predictive text on my cell phone inserts “fat” even when I mean “day” — which leads to tweets like “What I am going to do on this beautiful fat?”
Some friends and I even call each other “Fatty” — as in, “Hey, Fatty! Come eat this food with me.” Or whatever. Fatties do a lot of different things.
Stephanie Pappas at Scientific American writes, “New Sexual Revolution: Polyamory May Be Good for You“:
“People in these relationships really communicate. They communicate to death,” said Bjarne Holmes, a psychologist at Champlain College in Vermont. All of that negotiation may hold a lesson for the monogamously inclined, Holmes told LiveScience.
“They are potentially doing quite a lot of things that could turn out to be things that if people who are practicing monogamy did more of, their relationships would actually be better off,” Holmes said.
And finally a storify of Twitter comments (all positive) made during and after a talk by Anita Sarkeesian from Feminist Frequency regarding online harassment.
Posted: May 1, 2013 at 10:39 pm | Tags: bisexuality, body, body image, disability, equal marriage, Feminism, Gamer culture, lgbtiq, media, politics, polyamory, racism, Religion, sex work, sexism, trans*
So, here are all the awesome and interesting things I’ve been reading lately (well the ones that don’t end up in the Down Under Feminist Carnival – which you should totally check out).
Chrys Stevenson at Gladly the Cross Eyed Bear writes, “Piers Akerman – Dinosaur Extraordinaire“:
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?
Kevin Rose at the New York Mag writes, “Meet the 28-Year-Old Grad Student Who Just Shook the Global Austerity Movement” proving that simple errors can affect millions of people:
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.
s.e. smith at This Ain’t Living writes, “Seriously Though Why Are Vision and Dental Coverage Extra?“:
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.
s.e. smith at This Ain’t Living also writes, “Inspirational Boy Doesn’t Let His Lack of Impairment Stop Him“:
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.
David Donovan at Independent Australia writes, “Tony Abbott and the “slit your throat” staffer scandal“:
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.
Belen Fernandez at Aljazeera writes, “How to write about Muslims“:
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.”
The sale of the “war on terror”, Fisk stressed, depended on the obscuration of all details regarding past and continuing devastation of Arab lands and lives – including US State Department-applauded sanctions that eliminated half a million children in Iraq – “lest they provide the smallest fractional reason for the mass savagery on September 11″.
Will at Queereka writes, “I am Queer: Beyond the Trans/Cis Binary“:
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.
Jenny Morber at Double X Science writes, “The average human vagina“:
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.
Mariam Veiszedah at ABC Religion writes, “Inescapable racism: Reflections of a ‘proud refugee‘”:
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!
Zoe Krupka at New Matilda writes, “Why Mourn Boston – And Not Kabul?“:
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.
Daniel Golding at ABC Arts writes, “BioShock Infinite: an intelligent, violent videogame?“:
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?
Do you see the nuance here? Do you see the art?
John Walker at Rock Paper Shotgun writes, “Misogyny, Sexism, And Why RPS Isn’t Shutting Up“:
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.
Jane Hodge at Champions of Change writes, “Australia’s Hysteria“:
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.
Shakira Hussein at New Matilda writes, “A Female Muslim In Parliament“:
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.
Julia Serano writes, “Bisexuality does not reinforce the gender binary“:
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.
Faisal Darem at Al-Shorfa writes “Children Parliament in Yemen strong voice on major issues“:
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.
Lauren Rankin at policymic writes, “Transphobia Has No Place in Feminism“:
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.”
Javier C. Hernandez at The New York Times writes and obituary for Mary Thom, “Mary Thom, an Editor Who Shaped Feminist Voices, Dies at 68“:
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.
Deborah Stone at Arts Hub writes about Shareena Clanton in “‘I just want a job where I don’t get beaten up.’“:
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?’
Over at the UN website, “Religion and culture cannot justify discrimination against gays and lesbians, Ban warns“:
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.”
Clementine Ford at Daily Life writes, “Debunking the myths of sex work“:
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.
Wade Roush at xconomy writes, “Dropcam CEO’s Beef with Brogramming, Late Nights, and Free Dinners“:
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.
Merran Reed at Time Out Melbourne writes, “Free Love: The Age of Polyamory“:
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.”
At brofiling, “white privilege radically changes the appearance of Tsarnaev bros“:
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.
Sarah Burnside at New Matilda writes, “How To Make It As A Female Op-Ed Star“:
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”.
Posted: April 29, 2012 at 10:08 pm | Tags: abuse, community, Feminism, polyamory, rape, relationships, violence
*trigger warning – discussion of rape and other violence*
I have this idea. I’m not sure if it would work, or even be possible, but I’d like to try it out – sadly control groups and experimental groups are lacking.
A little background might help I guess, because what I’m asking for is people’s opinions and ideas as to whether my idea is feasible, whether they’ve seen anything else similar anywhere else, and overall whether I should push this as a form of community engagement.
I’m a member of a polyamorous community in Victoria (Australia). There has been a lot of discussion recently about how to ensure that the community remains safe and what (if any) role the committee of the incorporated organisation play in that. There is clearly a desire for clarity around the committee’s role and what the community can expect – but this isn’t the discussion I want here, this discussion is for my idea of creating a safer community.
If the leaders of a community (whether elected official leaders or other identified leaders) expressed clear opposition to unsafe behaviours and encouraged the community to openly and safely discuss how those unsafe behaviours have affected them personally (with no mention of perpetrators) in their lives, would that create a community were those who engaged in those behaviours would not feel welcome?
That’s nice and complicated, let me break it down to a specific example. If the committee/leaders stated that rape and other sexual crimes are behaviours that are not tolerated in the poly community, and the community was encouraged to have ongoing discussions regarding the effect that rape has had on their lives, without naming he perpetrator because this is the space for those who have experienced rape or other sex crimes, would those who believe that rape is no big deal have their minds changed, and would those who have raped or who will rape be less likely to remain in the community? Could a community be built that does not blame victims for the crimes against them but instead supports them and talks about the damage that silence and victim blaming causes?
We don’t talk about violence against others nearly often enough in the community spaces I inhabit. We do not express our distaste, our displeasure, our repulsion, our abhorrence against what is done by some to others. This culture of silence often means it is easy for people to be unaware of the extent of the harm that violence causes, and also how wide-spread some forms of violence are. If those of my community, who evidently felt safe to do so, stood up and told our stories of violence, those who don’t know would most likely be shocked at how common such things are. I’d want the leaders (elected or generally respected) to be very clear that no one invites crimes to be committed against them and that any form of victim blaming would not be tolerated.
I feel, in an ideal world, that this could work, that a community could start to talk about the harm that violence causes, and make it a very unwelcome environment for those individuals that participate in forms of violence against others – because their viewpoints that their behaviour is ok would be challenged by people who think it is not.
I’d love other opinions on this however.
Posted: April 28, 2012 at 4:56 pm | Tags: gender, lgbtiq, media, polyamory
From Yessenia at Queereka, “Trans Position” describing transphobia in some women’s spaces, in this case polyamorous women’s spaces:
When I first found the MeetUp.com page of a support group for polyamorous relationships, it seemed perfect. Not only was it tailored to our style, the description explicitly said that it welcomed all women, including “self-identified women.” For two trans-identified people, this sounded perfect, even too good to be true.
After sending the organizer pictures she had requested so she could recognize us at the door, we learned my partner’s self-identification as a woman was trumped by her body. Though she had no problem with a transmasculine female-bodied person entering the group, when the organizer saw my partner’s face, she balked and my partner was informed that she was not welcome. “Self-identified woman” turned out to be “post-operative, hormonally modified, culturally-identified women.” In short, she had better pass as a ciswoman. The organizer defended her decision to bar my partner from the group by arguing that she was making sure people in the group felt ‘safe.’ The crux of this issue is what it means to be a woman and what women-only spaces look like.
Vivienne Chen at the Huffington Post, writes “Poly-Baiting: Why We Need a More Inclusive LGBT Movement“:
The problem is Santorum is right. Did I just say that? (This is where I say things that not everyone in the LGBTQ community agrees with, so my post should not be used as a monolithic representation of LGBTQ activism.)
He’s right in the sense that once we realize it’s stupid to keep any two loving, consenting adults apart, we may start wondering whether it’s equally stupid to keep three or more loving, consenting adults apart. However, he’s totally wrong in assuming that the latter is necessarily a bad thing, and thus deserves to be booed at any opportunity.
An Anonymous Guest-Post at Warren Ellis’s blog. This guest post is from a possibly former member of Anonymous:
Now, what I’m going to talk about isn’t really a tale from the front line, as there wasn’t one. Spike, in his foxhole, getting shelled, trying to stave off terror by finding a way to brew up some tea whilst drawing naked ladies on his copy of the standing orders would doubtless have been extremely envious at that way I could get involved from the comforts of home, or my workplace, or out on the streets of London or the idyllic countryside around East Grinstead, even if that bit did involve hiding up trees in the rain, trying not to laugh as serious looking security heavies beat the bushes below and didn’t think to look up. Despite the relative tameness of this tale in comparison to virtually any and all war stories, Spike Milligan’s books are an inspiration in terms of getting down some of the stories of events you (the generic, Royal ‘you’, that is) were involved in, so here’s the tale of how I played a part in changing the way Anonymous interacted with the media, and the ways in which it did make a difference to a couple of individuals, even if the international impact is much, much harder to assess.
Posted: August 31, 2011 at 7:22 pm | Tags: differences, polyamory
As I’ve said in earlier posts, there isn’t one best way to do or be something. There are a multitude of ways, and nowhere have I encountered this more evidently than when discussing and reading about polyamory. What works for me is quite likely to disastrously not work for someone else. What works for someone else, really isn’t the thing for me. There is a wide range of ways that relationships work (friendships, romantic attachments, one-night stands, family, soul-mates, etc). And as there is that wide range of relationships and different ways of them working, there is a wide range of ways to make polyamory work.
I could sit down and take apart an article my sister gave me the link to discussing polyamory, how what is mentioned in the article doesn’t work for me, how I understand where the author is coming from, and yet the levels of formality and hierarchy would just upset me, but it’s far easier for me to say to myself, this is what worked for them, and like most things in life will change and grow with them for as long as it’s useful. (that sentence is nice and long, but anyway)
Even things mentioned in The Ethical Slut, a book many people consider to be the bible of polyamory, aren’t necessarily the only way to do polyamory. These things are all suggestions, some useful, some far less so. If your version of polyamory is working for you and your partner/s, and someone else is screwing their nose up at the way you’re living your life and relationships, then that’s their problem and not yours.
Take what I and others who write and talk about polyamory with a grain of salt, think on it as useful information, but stuff that doesn’t necessarily apply to your situation. It’s great if it does, and it’s great if something I share or say makes a difference, but no one is under any obligation to try and fit their unique situation into a copy of my (or anyone else’s) situation. Doing that is unlikely to lead to anyone else’s happiness.
[Cross posted here]
Posted: July 17, 2011 at 9:02 pm | Tags: bisexuality, discrimination, lgbtiq, polyamory, queer, Red Cross, STI
I can’t donate blood because I am married (and have sex with) a man who has sex with men (mostly a man, but sometimes other men). Regardless of how safe our sex lives are, regardless of all the rules we have in place to keep us disease free, we can’t donate blood. My husband, because he has sex with men (mostly his husband), and me because I have sex with my husband.
But that’s where the scrutiny stops. My other husband (the straight one) and my girlfriend can all go and donate blood, because they aren’t having sex with someone who is male who has sex with other men. The scrutiny stops one jump beyond even those the disease vectors don’t. I’m unable to find the classic HIV ad that was screened in Australia (on YouTube at least) which asked if you knew who your partner’s previous sexual partners were, and were you safe from HIV.
My tribe practices safe sex. We have strict rules, which include regular STI testing, to keep ourselves free from diseases and to protect each other. We trust each other and practice full disclosure, so it feels like a bit of a slap in the face when the Red Cross doesn’t do the same. I do get that 65% of new diagnoses of HIV are from men who sleep with men (2009), and if you take the ultraconservative number of queer people in Australia to be 5% of the total population, then that’s slightly more than one in every 1000 gay men who are diagnosed with HIV – odds that those who rely on blood transfusions don’t want to have to face. Therefore banning (deferring as it tends to be put) men who have sex with men from donating blood is easier than well all of the other options.
But to tell men who have sex with men that if they remain male-sex free for 12 months then they can donate blood is… well… rude. “Hello men who have sex with men, I know that you enjoy it, may be in a long-term, monogamous relationship with that man that you’re having sex with, but we treat all queer men the same, so when you’re next celibate for 12 months then we’ll think about letting you back in our club. In the mean time, go on and do that thing which is risky and leads to us rejecting your blood.”
Of course, the other problem with the whole thing is that if my husband was not bisexual and we were still openly polyamorous, I could go and have risky sex every weekend with whoever I wanted, and donate blood. The Red Cross’s rules are based on statistics and not actual behaviour. Because more men who have sex with men are diagnosed with HIV than any other group, all those queer men who are in monogamous relationships or who practice safe sex are discriminated against, as are their female partners (if they have them). All heterosexual individuals who engage in risky sex don’t have to worry about being banned from donating blood (should they want to).
There has to be a better way of dealing with this. Of capturing information about STI status from existing STI tests, of asking questions about relationship status, and asking questions about the type of sex engaged in by those who wish to donate blood. Perhaps instead of being squeamish about asking questions or providing answers to such things, we should be more open about STI status, sexual history and relationship status, especially when it comes to essential supplies.
UPDATE: I’ve just been alerted to this great story of a man being turned away from donating blood in the US because he “appeared” gay. The story also has more on the banning of queer men from blood donation.