Tag Archives: privilege

Winter might be here linkspam (June 2014)

So I have a lot of posts I’ve collected over the past few months, and it’s high time to share them with you all, and stop feeling guilty about the backlog, and it’s going to be epic because I haven’t written for so long, and I have collected a huge range of great posts.

First up Alex Mills writes, “Anxiety and The Age of Entitlement: A Personal Story“:

Under Abbott’s new policy, if I didn’t have the support of my family, I would have found myself with no source of income or support. Where would I have lived? How could I have payed rent? How would I have purchased food, or payed for the frequent visits to my doctor and psychologist? And how would I have afforded the petrol that got me to all of these appointments?

I would have had no access to support for half a year. And honestly, I can’t really imagine where I might have ended up. When I think back to that time in my life, I am terrified at what this policy would have meant for me. Emergency relief, borrowing from friends, sleeping on couches – all of these things would have been a reality. I could have been homeless.

Blurg5000 writes at I’m Sorry I’m Like This, “The Spikes“:

As horrific as it must sound, sometimes you have to remove a person’s sleep site in order to engage that person. Rough sleeping is incredibly harmful, it affects a person’s physical and mental health and most importantly their personal safety. Each night you sleep rough you are risking getting a kicking because people do that to homeless people.

I guarantee that the outreach team in Southwark know about this site and have been trying to stop people rough sleeping there for some time, not because they lack humanity or a sense of community but because rough sleeping kills people. On average, homeless people die 30 years earlier than the rest of the population. It’s a slow suicide. Or sometimes actual suicide. Are businesses and housing associations cool about condoning something that kills people? No. That’s why they’ve put the spikes there. Or made the benches single. Or too narrow to sleep on. Look around you. These measures are in place all over London.

Violet Blue writes at ZDNet, “Thanks for nothing, jerkface“:

For LGBT, political dissidents, activists and at-risk people everywhere, Google’s little Google+ project became a loaded gun pointed right at anyone whose privacy is what keeps them alive.

Users found out in January 2014 when Google+ force-integrated chat and SMS into “hangouts” in the Android 4.4 “KitKat” update.

At-risk users were disproportionately affected, most especially transgender people who needed to keep their identities separate for personal safety and employment reasons.

One woman was outed to a co-worker when she texted him, and risked losing her employment.

Dylan Matthews writes at Vox, “More evidence that giving poor people money is a great cure for poverty“:

So there you have it: money sent to poor people abroad doesn’t get wasted on booze or cigarettes. But it’s worth asking whether we should even care how it’s spent, ultimately. There’s something more than a little unseemly about Westerners casting judgment on poor people halfway across the world for having a beer or a smoke. As the authors’ World Bank colleague Jishnu Das once put it, “‘does giving cash work well’ is a well-defined question only if you are willing to say that ‘well’ is something that WE, the donors, want to define for families whom we have never met and whose living circumstances we have probably never spent a day, let alone a lifetime, in.”

Xeni Jardin writes at Boing Boing, “Investigative report on collapse of US mental health care system”.

Stella Young writes at ABC RampUp, “‘Life skills’ program teaches wrong lesson“:

Choices are rarely made in a vacuum, and if hair removal for women was a genuinely unbiased choice, it would carry no consequences either way. Removal of body hair would not be met with society’s approval while letting it grow is met with surprise, ridicule and sometimes even disgust. I do it, in part, to conform to patriarchal standards of beauty. It might not be a particularly feminist or unbiased choice, but ultimately it’s my decision. The same cannot be said for this student who, from her mother’s account, had discussed the notion of hair removal at home and made a decision not to shave.

It’s important to reiterate this point: this young woman was presented with a choice. She made one. Then someone in a position of authority told her that removing her body hair is a “life skill”, implying that it’s something she has to do in order to better understand and operate in the world around her. Part of the school’s rationale is that the girls are more likely to avoid being teased if they conform to these social rules. Perhaps they’d be better off teaching tolerance and acceptance of all people, rather than conformity.

stavvers at Another angry woman writes, “An open letter to all men“:

By now, your fingers are probably twitching with the urge to scream NOT ALL MEN ARE LIKE THIS. I can almost feel your agitation, and your desire to say this. Guess what? That desire to burst in and announce NOT ALL MEN is tied in to that self-same sense of entitlement. You say it because you feel entitled to my time and attention. You say it because it horrifies you that I might feel negatively to you and you want to show off what a nice guy you really are.

The Bisexual Community Tumblr commented on the movie G.B.F.

Hiromi Goto made a WisCon 38 Guest of Honour Speech:

It matters who and what is being focused upon in fiction. It matters who is creating a fictional account of these tellings. I don’t think the “burden of representation” rests upon the shoulders of those who are positioned as under-represented. If this were the case we would fall into an essentialist trap that will serve no one well. However, I’m okay with saying that it is my hope that white writers who are interested in writing about cultures and subjectivities outside of their own consider very carefully: 1) how many writers from the culture you wish to represent have been published in your country writing in the same language you will use (i.e. English) to write the story, 2) why do you think you’re the best person to write this story? 3) who will benefit if you write this story? 4) why are you writing this story? 5) who is your intended audience? 6) if the people/culture you are selecting to write about has not had enough time, historically and structurally, to tell their story first, on their own terms, should you be occupying this space?

Simon Leo Brown at the ABC (Australian) writes, “Female video gamers offered real-life escape from online sexism“:

Hannah Morrison, 20, is a major investor in Power Up Melbourne, which is planning to open a “geek bar” in Melbourne in early 2015.

She is particularly keen to create a safe space for women to play video games after experiencing “horrible sexism” while playing online with other gamers.

Rebecca Shaw guest posts at Shiela’s with, “I <3 Internet“:

I found chat rooms where I could actually talk to other lesbians. It still took me a long time to even type that I was one. I was still too terrified to even admit it to a stranger on the Internet. Because the moment I did, I knew it would become real. There was no turning back. But the Internet quickly helped me come to the realisation that there were people all over the world who were funny, smart, (seemingly) normal, happy AND gay. Everything I had been denied in my life up to that point was now at my fingertips. It is hard to overstate what kind of effect a feeling of belonging, a feeling of community, a feeling of same-ness can have on a lonely and isolated teenager. I still couldn’t find the courage in myself to come out until a few years after that, but it didn’t matter. I had the Internet. Without it, I truly don’t know how I would have survived those years. I don’t know if I could have. I felt totally and completely alone; I felt I had nobody I could talk to, that there was nobody that would understand or love me.

The inaugural Special Issue of New Scholar, edited by Gillian Darcy, Nadia Niaz, Caitlin Nunn and Karen Schamberger. This issue concentrates on scholarship around the concept of belonging.

A Lynn at Nerdy Feminist writes, “On Anger“:

The stereotype of the angry oppressed person runs rampant. Angry feminists. Angry gay/trans people. Angry people of color. Chances are, if you’ve ever spoken out about a social issue, you’ve experienced tone policing and had your entire viewpoint dismissed because of your anger–whether than anger was real or just perceived on the part of the listener/reader. These same people offer their sage advice that others would listen to you if you were nicer, that you’d “catch more flies with honey,” and that the oppressors can’t learn unless you’re willing to play nice and educate them.

I saw an unattributed* quote floating around that hits at this point:

People often say ‘stop being angry and educate us,’ not understanding that the anger is part of the education.

This so hit home with me for primarily two reasons. The first is the outward message that those who need/want to be educated about these issues must know that understanding anger is inherently a part of this education. How can you try to empathize with someone’s oppression without acknowledging the emotions that come from that? Having your people murdered, fearing/surviving harassment and rape, not being free to live the lifestyle you want, etc. are all situations that come with a lot of emotions, one of which is logically anger.  In order to learn about oppression and move toward being an ally, you must be able to understand that.

Mark Bently Cohen writes, “How to Support Your Bisexual Husband, Wife, Partner“:

As previously discussed, bisexuals have much higher levels of anxiety, depression, self harm and suicidality than any other sexual orientation. One of the biggest sources of these internal stressors for bisexuals is the conflict between coming out as bisexual, or questioning, or confused, to a spouse or partner.

“This is not what I signed up for!” one woman told her wife upon discovering she is bisexual. Would she have responded the same way had she learned her wife had cancer? Or was dealing with depression? Or had lost her job?

Of all the unexpected circumstances which take us by surprise along the road through life, bisexuality is not something to fear.

Foz Meadows writes at What Happens Next: A Gallimaufry, “Female Bodies: A Weighty Issue“:

Clearly, these women all wear different size clothes for reasons that have absolutely nothing to do with their weight, and everything to do with height and bodytype. But because of the fashion industry’s obsession with tall, thin, white, ectomorphic models – women chosen, not because they’re a representative sample of the population, but so their minimal frames can better serve as coathangers for clothes that privilege a very specific aesthetic over function – we have learned to correlate small sizes with healthy bodies, the better to justify their primacy on the runway, in advertising and on screen as a healthy ideal. Never mind that modelling agencies have been known to recruit at eating disorder clinics, with store mannequins more closely resembling the bodies of anorexic girls than average womenmodels eating tissues to stay thin and rail-thin models photoshopped to hide their ill-health and prominent ribs: because “plus size” models – that is, women whose bodies are actually representative of the general population – are treated as a separate, exceptional category, the fiction persists that “plus size” is a synonym for “overweight”, “unhealthy” or “obese”: women too enormous to wear “normal” clothes, even though the norm in question is anything but. As such, plus-size models are frequentlyderided as fata jokeunhealthy and bad role models. Today, catwalk models weigh 23% less than the average woman, compared to 8% just twenty years ago – yet whenever this disparity is pointed out, the reaction of many is to just assume that average women must be overweight, and that using plus size mannequins will only encourage obesity. Throw in the fact that women’s clothing sizes aren’t standardised, but fluctuate  wildly from brand to brand – or within the same brand, even – and the idea of judging a woman’s health by what size jeans she wears becomes even more absurd.

Amy Cato at Women’s Agenda writes, “An open response to a man offended by all-female shortlists“:

My own path wanting to spend my career assisting experienced women get positions with great companies stems from many years involved in recruitment and women’s charities. Professionally, I was tired of hearing excuses during the recruitment of leadership and technical roles that the women candidates ‘didn’t exist’ or ‘are too hard to find’, so I put my money where my mouth is and launched Executive Women Shortlists. To clarify the business raison d’etre, one of the main services is the supply of additional senior women to add to a company’s existing pool of applicants, meaning men do not need to be excluded from the opportunity.

Not only is it good for collaboration and idea generation to have a more inclusive management team but also companies that have higher female representation at the senior levels of business outperform those that don’t by 34% according to McKinsey Global research. So, whether like me, you are passionate about getting more capable women into chief executive vacancies on the ASX 200 (currently we only have 3.5%) or whether you are simply interested in improving company financial results, the focus on hiring more women remains the solution.

Laurie Penny writes at New Statesmen, “The slippery slope of gender: why shaving and snacking are feminist issues“:

First, a spectacularly misogynist and homophobic (and now withdrawn) advert from Veet, manufacturers of hair-removing goo, claimed that failing to remove your leg-hair with the help of Veet products will turn you into an actual bloke. Then there was the equally repugnant site set up to shame “Women Eating on the Tube”, featuring non-consensual pictures of women doing just that, because there’s nothing worse a female person could possibly do than demonstrate in public that she has a body which gets hungry. There have already been some stellar pieces written about this round of gender policing, the best of which have been by Paris Lees and Ellie Mae O’Hagan respectively.

At Alas a Blog, “Panti Bliss Lectures About Being Lectured About What Is Not Homophobia“.

NK Jemisin writes, “Confirmation bias, epic fantasy, and you“:

I suspect this was not aimed at GRRM, specifically. MedievalPoC has made the same point about “historically accurate” medieval European video games that make conspicuously inaccurate choices in development, and so forth. MedievalPoC points this problem out as endemic to the genre in general, which isn’t really a surprise since it’s endemic to our society. The blog is dedicated to pointing out the literal erasures and revisions that have been inflicted on art of the era to make it conform to modern — and quintessentially white supremacist — beliefs about how medieval Europe “should” have been. (And if you haven’t figured it out yet, you should be following MedievalPoC. Like, now.)

Avicenna writes at A Million Gods, “World Vision (Except for the Gays)“:

World Vision are no longer a humanitarian organisation in my eyes.

See living in the UK, World Vision don’t push their Christian Credentials, so it was rather surprising to find out that they are a Christian organisation. So I went to check their American website. So while the British one has a vague reference to “God” the American one is explicitly Christian.

But this one line from their site got me.

We work in nearly 100 countries, serving all people, regardless of religion, race, ethnicity, or gender.

But not sexual orientation, but then World Vision is not a force for equality. Okay it may have forgotten that serving all people includes the GLBT?

Annie P Waldman writes at Vice, “Inside the Kafkaesque World of the US’s ‘Little Guantánamos’“:

Prisoners describe the communication management units, or CMUs, as “Little Guantánamos.” In 2006, the Bureau of Prisons created two of these units to isolate and segregate specific prisoners, the majority of them convicted of crimes related to terrorism. The bureau secretly opened these units without informing the public and without allowing anyone an opportunity to comment on their creation, as required by law. By September 2009, about 70 percent of the CMU prisoners were Muslim, more than 1,000 to 1,200 percent more than the federal prison average of Muslim inmates.

In the CMUs, prisoners are subject to much stricter rules than in general population. They are limited to two 15-minute telephone calls per week, both scheduled and monitored. Visits are rarely permitted, and when family members are allowed to visit, they are banned from physical contact, limited to phone conversations between a plexiglass window. This differs from the general population, where prisoners can spend time with their visitors in the same room. To further the isolation, some of the CMU prisoners are held in solitary confinement, with only one hour out of their cells each day.

Andy Khouri writes at Comics Alliance, “Fake Geek Guys: A Message to Men About Sexual Harassment“:

Can you imagine, gentlemen, receiving that threat from a potentially dangerous man whose identity you have no hope of discovering but who knows your name, what city you live in, what you look like and where you work?

Now imagine receiving messages like that from men so frequently that you’re no longer bothered by it.

Now understand how f*cked up it is that you’re no longer bothered by it; that you’re no longer bothered by men’s anonymous threats of brutal sexual violence, because they’ve become just as common as a train not arriving on time.

Aja Romano at The Daily Dot writes, “The Mako Mori Test: ‘Pacific Rim’ inspires a Bechdel Test alternative“:

In response to this post, and in the process of running down numerous arguments for why the Bechdel Test can’t and shouldn’t be the only measurement by which feminist films are judged, Tumblr user chaila has proposed the Mako Mori Test, “to live alongside the Bechdel Test”:

The Mako Mori test is passed if the movie has: a) at least one female character; b) who gets her own narrative arc; c) that is not about supporting a man’s story. I think this is about as indicative of “feminism” (that is, minimally indicative, a pretty low bar) as the Bechdel test. It is a pretty basic test for the representation of women, as is the Bechdel test. It does not make a movie automatically feminist.

wolsey at Queereka writes, “Planned Parenthood“:

The first time I went to a Planned Parenthood personally, I was barely 15 years old. I had been sexually active for the very first time with my then boyfriend. It had been a blood filled fiasco wherein the condom broke. Being a person with a uterus, this was a problem.

The events had occurred the evening before, and I shown up to sit on the concrete in front of the doors to the clinic waiting for it to open. This was not how I had envisioned losing my virginity.

I was driven to seek help not just for my fears of pregnancy, but because the very concept of pregnancy froze me with terror. There are not many things that give me dysphoria, as a transgender man, but the idea of being pregnant in this body was the nuclear option when it came to dysphoria.

Michi Trota at Geek Melange writes, ““Letting the Jerks Get to You” Isn’t Really the Problem“:

Leaving aside for the moment how it’s both laughable and depressing that once again, it’s the opinion of men in the comics industry that’s solicited in determining whether or not things are “vastly improving” for women dealing with sexism and misogyny, rather than the women who are actually dealing with it and therefore might have a rather different perspective and metric for determining what “vastly improving” actually means, let’s look at Bendis’ answer:

I get a lot of crap for being Mr. positive from people who are having a hard time seeing the cup half-full but I completely agree with you.

I think things are vastly better than they were and that only makes the shitheads stand out even more. Things are not perfect, all of society’s problems are not solved, but I do think the good guys are winning.

Ah yes, because it’s terribly hard having your optimistic bubble popped by people who might be dealing more directly with the fact that their cup looks very much to them like it’s not only half-empty, the water is fracking-contaminated as well. It’s rather easier to think that the water’s getting cleaner when you’re not the one who is actually having to drink it, isn’t it?

Trudy Ring at Advocate writes, “Study: Childhood Bullying’s Effects Persist for Decades“:

Childhood bullying, the bane of many an LGBT youth’s existence, has social, physical, and mental health effects that are still evident in survivors 40 years later, according to major new research findings from the Institute of Psychiatry at King’s College London.

The data comes from the British National Child Development Study, which follows all children born in England, Scotland, and Wales during one week in 1958. The new findings, published online Friday by the American Journal of Psychiatry, covers 7,771 children whose parents provided information on their child’s exposure to bullying when they were aged 7 and 11. The children were then followed up on until the age of 50.

shweta narayan writes, “A thought on playing at the lowest possible difficulty level, and telling other people what’s easy“:

Okay now let’s imagine we’re all playing a massive roleplaying game called The Real World. There’s an area of this game, let’s call it the “Speculative Fiction community”, that has interesting enough storylines and characters that players keep coming back to it, but it also has a number of nasty monsters. Let’s call them… trolls.

Now: here is a secret* about the trolls in this region.  They are ridiculously nerfed on the easy setting. When you’re playing the game on hard, or gods forbid on multiple-marginalizations, these trolls do a ton of extra damage, and have endless adds, and an “uncomprehending/dismissive” buff that lets them ignore most anything coming their way.

None of this matters on easy mode, mind. They’re annoying, but like most things in the game, pretty easy to take on. You don’t have to worry much about strategy or conserving resources when you’re on easy mode! You just need to run in and wave your sword around! But those of us playing the game on harder settings, we’ve figured out strategies, and we’ve figured out where not to go. We know the best approach is to avoid these monsters entirely, and avoid even indirect contact. We know that any item connected to them could be cursed on hard mode, and do further damage. We’ve figured this out from painful experience. So, when a couple trolls manage to infiltrate a high-status area of the region, and people comment that they’re going to avoid them…

…and in comes someone who is playing the game on the easiest fucking mode there is, right, who has set himself up as so sympathetic to people playing on hard. And he uses this platform to tell us that we’re playing the game wrong, we mustn’t protect ourselves because it’s not sportsmanlike.

Natalie Nourigat draws a beautiful comic at Home is where the Internet is called, “Don’t let fear stop you from traveling!

JA McCarroll writes at SheRights, “The Language of Dude Feminism

Rather than attacking the institution of masculinity itself, several recent campaigns have attempted a sort of masculinity triage, trying to eliminate violence against women, while still flattering men with the label of protector. These campaigns, such as “real men don’t buy girls,”“my strength isn’t for hurting,”are various incarnations of “how would you feel if someone said that to your mother /sister /girlfriend,”and have proven to be enormously popular, achieving prodigious re-blogs, conferences, and media airtime.

They are, by many metrics, successful, and have gotten institutions long silent on the rights of women to speak up. I believe we are the better for them, but I also believe that they do not go far enough, and we all must, as feminists, radicals and progressives, push against our comfort zones.

Colin Schultz at Smithsonian.com writes, “A Scientist’s Gender Biases Mouse Research“:

Duhaime-Ross reports on a new study, which found that mice are scared of men. When a male researcher works with a mouse, the mouse’s body courses with stress hormones. This doesn’t happen when a woman scientist is doing the work. The difference in how mice respond to male and female researchers could potentially skew everything from behavioral studies to cell research.

It’s not so much that mice are scared of male researchers as it is that mice are scared of male mammals. A whiff of testosterone from any male mammal is enough to trigger this fear, says Jef Akst for The Scientist. “In all likelihood, mice just haven’t developed a way to discriminate between the smell of a male mouse and the smell of other male mammals, so men also elicit a fear response,” says Duhaime-Ross.

Alexandra Bolles writes at GLAAD, ““But you don’t look queer”: students challenge stereotypes with viral campaign (PHOTOS & VIDEO)

SBS provided us with, “Aust trackers forgotten in foreign land“:

A Queensland researcher is investigating the fate of up to 50 Aboriginal trackers who assisted Australian troops in South Africa only to disappear from the record books.

It’s possible some died but others may have fallen victim to the new White Australia Policy.

Griffith University’s Dr Dale Kerwin has spent more than 15 years trying to find the lost indigenous men of the Boer War.

Annalee Newitz at io9 writes, “Hey Star Wars — Where the Hell Are the Women?“:

So when I looked at that Star Wars cast list, Hannah was on my mind. Surely in the second decade of the twenty-first century, she’d be given more awesome female characters to choose from in this contemporary incarnation of Star Wars. Leia would still be there, as the fighting princess — but maybe there would be a female fighter pilot whose swagger could rival Han Solo’s, or a female Sith strutting through some scenery-chewing lines. Nope. There’s one female name other than Carrie Fisher’s on that cast list: the relative unknown Daisy Ridley, whom fans are speculating might play the daughter of Han Solo and Princess Leia. Of course, more cast members will be announced, but this is probably our core cast — the main characters.

Having Ridley is great, but one new female lead in a cast of men? That’s how we launch ourselves into the future of this series, which inspires little girls with pink swords, as well as old girls like myself who graduated to sharper weapons long ago? Are we seriously still pretending that the universe is comprised almost entirely of men (and mostly white men at that)? Mythic tales are supposed to open up possibilities, not shut them down.

Adam Grant writes at The Atlantic, “Why So Many Men Don’t Stand Up for Their Female Colleagues“:

The traditional explanation is sexism. Psychologists Peter Glick and Susan Fiske have eloquently highlighted two different kinds of sexist ideologies that cause men to justify gender inequality and resist sharing their power and wealth. “Hostile sexists” believe that men are superior beings who deserve to rule the world. “Benevolent sexists” are more pro-women—just not in leadership. They view women as beautiful, fragile creatures who ought to be protected by men, not be followed by men. And, of course, some men are comfortable with the status quo: They’d like to preserve hierarchies—particularly those they benefit from—rather than destabilize them.

Although there’s little doubt that these reasons prevent some men from being better advocates for the women around them, a more subtle cause has been overlooked. Some men want to voice their support, but fear that no one will take them seriously because they lack a vested interest in the cause.

Liam Croy at the West Australian writes, “Review rejects Hawkins appeal“:

Ms Hawkins, who has osteogenesis imperfecta or “brittle bone disease”, was working as a Legal Aid lawyer until her contract ended in February.

The 33-year-old reapplied for the disability pension while she tried to find a new job – no easy task, given her severe physical restrictions.

Much to her surprise, her claim was rejected last month on grounds she was not impaired enough.

A Self Made Woman writes, “On Being Cissed, or, The Night That Janet Mock Mistook Me for Cisgendered“:

To be cissed is to feel like your world isn’t yours. It feels like a hand has reached across time to shove that part of you that didn’t know if you could or should, and tell him, her that he, she doesn’t exist. To be cissed is for your tribe to cast you out without knowing it, leave you to languish in that dark place between who you are and who they think you are.

Cameron Kunde at Affect Magazine writes, “The Bisexual Block“:

That same year, the nonprofit advocacy group BiNET USA (http://www.binetusa.org) reached out to Google when it discovered that the word bisexual was blocked from Google’s autocomplete function. When you type in gay, lesbian, or transgender, Google will automatically suggest common searches pertaining to those terms. When you type in bisexual, however, you get a blank screen.

In the five years since, Google has responded more than once by blaming algorithms, saying that the search term bisexual is blocked from the auto-complete feature because of a high correlation to pornography. This logic is highly flawed because a search for “gay porn” yields over 400 million more results, and “lesbian porn” yields over 20 million more results than a search for “bisexual porn”. The terms gay and lesbian are undoubtedly used to search for porn more frequently than the term bisexual. In 2012, Google announced that it had unblocked the word and suggested that phrases would soon pop up like “bisexual quotes”, “bisexual rights”, and “bisexual parenting”. It has been over two years since this announcement and the term bisexual continues to yield an auto-complete void.

Foz Meadows at shattersnipe: malcontent & rainbows writes, “Silence Is Not Synonymous With Uproar: A Response To John C. Wright“:

Do you see the issue? You cannot state, as your opening premise, that SFF fandom is being handicapped by silence and an unwillingness to speak out, and then support that premise by stating the exact polar opposite: that there has, in your own words, been vocal uproarDoubtless, what Wright meant to imply is that the persons against whom the uproar is directed are being silenced by it – that he, and others like him, such as Larry Correia and Theodore Beale, are now suffering under the burden of enforced quietude. But given that all three men are still writing publicly and vocally, not just about the issues Wright raises, but about any number of other topics, the idea that their output is being curtailed by their own “unwillingness to speak for fear of offending” is patently false. Indeed, by their own repeated admission, Correia, Beale and Wright are wholly unafraid of causing offence, even sometimes going so far as to seek outraged reactions. So if Wright and his fellows proudly don’t care about being offensive, then who does: who really fears to speak? By untangling the nonsensical web that is Wright’s attempt at logic, a paradoxical answer emerges: that the people who actually do care about causing offence – the apparent victims of silence – are simultaneously the same gossipy, vocal detractors responsible for silencing… ourselves, as it turns out. Where “silence” is a synonym for “uproar”.

At A Paper Bird, “Too brown to be heard: The Brunei brouhaha“:

I’ve said my bit on the recent burst of outrage over Brunei here, at PolicyMic. Briefly, I wrote that despite the exclusivist furor in the US and UK over the “antigay” impact of the measure, shari’a is much more likely to affect the rights of women. And I said that Western activists’ reluctance to acknowledge the multiple dimensions of the issue, much less the pioneering work of women’s rights activists across southeast Asia, was a disgrace.

I got some nods, some hate mail, and more than the usual amount of incomprehension. I had an argument on Twitter (an oxymoron, anyway), with an eminently earnest man who responded to me at complete crosspurposes. Why, I kept asking, wouldn’t you check with women’s groups or sexual rights activists across the region, who have experience with context and culture, in planning a boycott? “There are no LGBT groups in Brunei,” he kept answering, as if this meant there was no one to talk to about the issue anywhere except Los Angeles or London: no relevant expertise outside his postal code. Meanwhile, the tempest kept growing. Britain’s chief LGBT lobby group, Stonewall, declined to endorse a boycott of the Brunei-owned chain of hotels. Its acting head, Ruth Hunt, wrote in the Telegraph: 

We only implement actions that we can calculate will have an impact. … I do, however, fear that the boycott could do very real harm to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people of Brunei. By turning the issue into a battle between gay people and the Sultan – which it isn’t, it affects everyone in Brunei, not just gay people – we limit the opportunity for dialogue and put the lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people of Brunei at far greater risk. A group of people, I hasten to add, who’ve yet to publically call for a boycott.

Lesley at XOJane writes, “It’s Always A Radical Act When A Fat Woman Shares A Picture Of Herself Online“:

In another life, when I had aspirations of being a proper academic, I used to give guest lectures at colleges and universities. I’d get up in front of rooms full of quarrelsome and bright young adults and present a bare-bones introductory version of the subject in which I’d spent the better part of my life developing my expertise: deep cultural analysis of the ways in which women’s bodies, particularly fat bodies, are represented in media.

Part of my lecture included a comparison between two images. One was an image of four nude women, lounging strategically over one another to cover crotchparts and nipples, taken from Cosmopolitan magazine. The other was an image of a group of nude fat women, from Laurie Toby Edison’s art photography book Women En Large.

Rebecca Moore at The Life and Times of an Exceptionally Tall Mormon writes, “University Study on Sexism In BBC’s Doctor Who (Infographic)“:

Conversations were allowed to pass if they were not centered around a man but did briefly mention one. This was to allow for a companion to be able to mention the Doctor, for example if someone were asking where they were from they could say “Oh, I came here in a box with a man called the Doctor,” and then carried on. Or also perhaps two women discussing something where they may briefly mention their brother, employer, etc. If the mention of the man was removed from the conversation, the purpose of the conversation would still stand. An episode could also pass if the conversation(s) happened in the presence of/with a man as long as it was still between at least two women who were actually conversing with each other (i.e. more than one or two lines and was clearly directed at each other), and about something besides a man. However, conversations where two women were addressing the Doctor (or another man), and not really talking to or acknowledging each other, were not included. This was to allow for three (or more) way conversations, since the test did not say that a man/men observing/participating in the conversation with two or more women disqualified it. A simple address was not considered as a conversation. The women had to have more than a two line exchange. (See end of post for a full list of failed episodes.)

Can you imagine, gentlemen, receiving that threat from a potentially dangerous man whose identity you have no hope of discovering but who knows your name, what city you live in, what you look like and where you work?

Now imagine receiving messages like that from men so frequently that you’re no longer bothered by it.

Now understand how f*cked up it is that you’re no longer bothered by it; that you’re no longer bothered by men’s anonymous threats of brutal sexual violence, because they’ve become just as common as a train not arriving on time.

Read More: Fake Geek Guys: A Message to Men About Sexual Harassment | http://comicsalliance.com/sexual-harassment-online-rape-threats-comics-superheroes-lessons-men-geek-culture/?trackback=tsmclip

Can you imagine, gentlemen, receiving that threat from a potentially dangerous man whose identity you have no hope of discovering but who knows your name, what city you live in, what you look like and where you work?

Now imagine receiving messages like that from men so frequently that you’re no longer bothered by it.

Now understand how f*cked up it is that you’re no longer bothered by it; that you’re no longer bothered by men’s anonymous threats of brutal sexual violence, because they’ve become just as common as a train not arriving on time.

Read More: Fake Geek Guys: A Message to Men About Sexual Harassment | http://comicsalliance.com/sexual-harassment-online-rape-threats-comics-superheroes-lessons-men-geek-culture/?trackback=tsmclip

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The last day of summer linkspam (February 2014)

We come to the end of a rather hot summer, though the past few days have been spring/autumn like (for a change), and I have been remiss, because I’ve been busy, in putting together my collection of interesting links and stuff to share.  So here it is.

Philip Guo at Slate writes, “Silent Technical Privilege“:

OK, all of the above was a lie. With one exception: That is me in the photo. When it was taken, I didn’t even know how to touch-type. My parents were just like, “Quick, pose in front of our new computer!” (Look closely. My fingers aren’t even in the right position.) My parents were both humanities majors, and there wasn’t a single programming book in my house. In sixth grade I tried teaching myself BASIC for a few weeks, but quit because it was too hard. The only real exposure I had to programming prior to college was taking AP computer science in 11th grade, taught by a math teacher who had learned the material only a month before class started. Despite its shortcomings, that class inspired me to major in computer science in college. But when I started freshman year at MIT, I felt a bit anxious because many of my classmates actually did have over 10 years of childhood programming experience; I had less than one.

Even though I didn’t grow up in a tech-savvy household and couldn’t code my way out of a paper bag, I had one big thing going for me: I looked like I was good at programming.

At Politically Homeless, “Scott Morrison should be sacked“:

It strains credibility that the Navy veered off course and did not realise its vessels were in Indonesian waters. The Navy sent its vessels where government told them to go, and did what government told them to do. It is not OK to blame the military for government policy blunders, and ultimately such a tactic will work against the government rather than the military.

From now on people in the military are more likely to leak against this government. People in the military are more likely to have credibility that politicians lack. Any difference of opinion between a politician and the military will be resolved in favour of the military (with the possible exception of bullying allegations). When you consider that military personnel vote Coalition more than any other occupational grouping, this is a political own-goal as well as a governmental one.

Boing Boing have embedded Jay Smooth’s fantastic video, “How to talk about race, productively“, and apart from it being brilliant, is it just me or does Jay Smooth have one of the most amazing speaking voices ever?

Rafe Posey at BuzzFeed writes, “How To Write About Transgender People“:

2. Use your subject’s preferred name, pronoun, and picture.

When was the last time someone asked you to prove that you’re a man or a woman, or that your name and the gender marker on your driver’s license match what’s on your birth certificate? We will tell you who we are. Your job is to listen, not to decide that you have a better idea about who we are just because you think we are “confused.” We don’t need you to explain our identities to us, and we do not need your permission.

Use the names, pronouns, and pictures that we provide. If you are honestly confused, ask politely what our preferences are, and then honor our answers. If we provide information in confidence, don’t reveal that information.

Aaminah Khan at Days Like Crazy Paving writes, “The invisible girl – bisexuality in a biphobic society“:

I’m a bisexual woman in a relationship with a straight man. That means I don’t exist.

You see, in order for society to accept me as bi, they need to see evidence. If I’m not neck-deep in a threesome with an attractive woman on one side and a strapping man on the other, how can they be expected to tell that I’m not monosexual? If I’m dating a woman, I must be lesbian. If I’m dating a man, I must be straight. Unless I’m dating both at the same time, I can’t be bisexual.

The first person to tell me I wasn’t “really” bi was a gay friend of mine. I believe I’ve told the story before, so I won’t retread old ground, but suffice to say that while he was the first, he certainly wasn’t the last. I’ve heard it all – it’s just a phase, I’m fence-sitting so I don’t have to pick a side, I’m greedy, I’ll cheat on my partner, I’m just doing it for the attention, I just don’t want to come out of the closet. It seems everyone has a theory about my sexuality that they’re just dying to share with me, as though they’re the first people ever to think of it. (Yeah, I’ve never heard the one about how I can’t be bi because I’m not poly before. You’re so original!) You’d think I’d know my sexuality better than a stranger, but in a world where anything perceived as differing from the norm instantly becomes fair game for public discussion and dissection, it seems the only person who isn’t a self-proclaimed expert on my sexuality is…me.

Rohin Guha at Jezebel writes, “The Myth of the Fag Hag and Dirty Secrets of the Gay Male Subculture“:

It’s a dirty secret of a subculture of the gay male world about women: That they’re essentially unwelcome, unless they come to us as a Real Housewife, a pop diva, or an Tony award winner–or an unassuming fag hag. To anyone just coming out of the closet and hoping to get his bearings in the gay male community, the attitude towards women is simple: They are just objects whose function is to serve gay men. Maybe it happens when gay men get too comfortable in newly-discovered safe spaces–where they get to call the shots as their proudly out new selves. Or maybe it happens through cultural conditioning. Whatever the cause is, it becomes clear: If there isn’t any kind of transactional exchange happening, then women lose their value in gay male subcultures.

Laurie Penny at New Statesmen writes, “Why patriarchy fears the scissors: for women, short hair is a political statement“:

The “manosphere” really hates short-haired girls. On “game” forums and in personal dating manifestos, the wickedness of short-haired women pops up time and time again as theme and warning – stay away from girls who’ve had their hair chopped off. They’re crazy, they’re deliberately destroying their femininity to “punish” men, but the last laugh will be on them, because the bitches will die alone. Yes, there are people who really believe this. In 2014.

This week, a writer going by the handle Tuthmosis put out a short article explaining why “Girls With Short Hair are Damaged”. The piece has now received over 200,000 interactions on Facebook, so I’m not going to link to it again here. If you scrape through the layers of trolling, though, Tuthmosis’ logical basis for declaring short-haired women “damaged” is pretty interesting.

He writes that long hair is “almost universally attractive to men, when they’re actually speaking honestly. . . Women instinctively know this, which is why every American girl who cuts, and keeps, her hair short often does it for ulterior reasons . . . Short hair is a political statement. And, invariably, a girl who has gone through with a short cut – and is pleased with the changes in her reception – is damaged in some significant way. Short hair is a near-guarantee that a girl will be more abrasive, more masculine, and more deranged.”

Cooper Fleishman at The Daily Dot writes, “The ‘girlfriendzone’ flips the ‘friendzone’ myth on its head“:

So here’s something new: a reaction to the friendzone, called the “girlfriendzone.” It comes from Reddit, whose feministcommunities are becoming an increasingly large presence in the culture there, calling out bullshit and misogyny and forming a safe space for women to converse openly and honestly. Or to give advice to male redditors.

“She’s not friendzoned you, OP,” ObscenePenguin writes. “You’ve girlfriendzoned her. … Seeing a female friend only as a girlfriend is girlfriendzoning.”

It’s flipping the script: identifying the friendzone as an entirely male creation, and putting the onus on dudes not to be entitled pricks about it when girls don’t throw themselves at them.

Jim C Hines writes a very detailed response to Larry Correia’s article in which Larry suggests that requests for science fiction to be more inclusive are killing the genre (which is why we have such great things as Women Destroy Science Fiction Kickstarter which has been successfully funded).  Jim’s article is titled, “Fiskception: Dissecting Correia’s Critique of MacFarlane“.

Cosima Marriner at Fairfax writes “Study finds same-sex parenting is not harmful for children“, which shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone.  Also not coming as a surprise, but frustrating, is that this article is dumped in “Life & Style” and therefore less than “news”.

Children raised by same-sex parents fare just as well in their education, emotional and social development as those raised by heterosexual parents, new research shows.

The report on same sex-parented families in Australia, commissioned by the Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS), found “there is now strong evidence that same-sex-parented families constitute supportive environments in which to raise children”.

The findings are at odds with Liberal Senator Cory Bernardi’s recent comments that the “gold standard” for children’s development is having a biological mother and father who are married.

Report author Deb Dempsey, who reviewed all the research on same sex-parented families, said there was a wealth of evidence that showed the children were doing fine.

Taryn Fox guest posts at Geek Feminism with, “How to kill someone without pulling the trigger“:

The “Just World” fallacy

This is a fancy name for the idea that people tend to get what they deserve. Here in the States, we call it “liberty” and “objectivism” and “reducing dependence on government.” In the Linux and Free Software communities, we call it “meritocracy.”

It’s an extremely convenient belief to have if you’re at the top of your pecking order. It tells you that you deserve to be there, because of how awesome you are. And it tells you not to worry about anybody beneath you, because if they’re deserving they’ll make it eventually. And if they’re not, well, don’t worry about it. It’s their fault, and helping them will just keep them dependent on you. Better to throw them out of the nest and watch their carcasses smear on the rocks, until you find one that can fly like you could.

This mindset stigmatizes being weak or in need of help. It turns being a newb, at life or at Linux, into something to be ashamed of. And when you have this mindset yourself, and are weak or injured, you’re ashamed of everything. You have a desperate need to please others and show that your life is worthwhile. You’re afraid to admit failure, to yourself or to anyone else, because you know that you’ll be destroyed and it’ll be your fault.

Faine Greenwood writes at SF Gate, “Gender gap: Men getting paid more than women in Silicon Valley“:

Men who hold graduate or professional degrees earn a whopping 73 percent more than women with the same educational qualifications, while men with a bachelor’s degree earn 40 percent more than women with the same credentials, the study found.

Income inequality by gender is worse in Silicon Valley than it is for the whole of California: U.S. Census Bureau figures found that males with professional or graduate degrees earn 52 percent more than women when the entire population is taken into account, while men with a bachelor’s degree earn 36 percent more.

Interestingly, the situation in Silicon Valley is actually getting better, notes Rachel Massaro, vice president and senior researcher at Joint Venture Silicon Valley, who crunched the numbers.

“In 2010, men with a graduate or professional degree earned 97 percent more than women with a grad or professional degree,” she said.

Allen Clifton at Forward Progressives writes, “Florida Ordinance Makes it Illegal for Homeless to Use Blankets to Protect Themselves from Weather“, which has since been reversed as reported by T.S. Strickland at PNJ, “Hayward changes course on Pensacola homeless blanket ban“.

Tofik Dibi at Vice writes, “Life as a Gay Imam Isn’t as Bad as It Sounds“:

Just about every predominantly Muslim country forbids homosexuality. In nine of those countries, homosexual activity carries the death penalty. But the thing is, the whole Islamic prejudice against gays seems to be based on one monumental misconception: that certain verses in the Qur’an about Sodom and Gomorrah condemn homosexuality. They do not, according to Ludovic-Mohamed Zahed, Daayiee Abdullah, and Muhsin Hendricks, three openly gay imams I spoke to who are trying to end the marginalization inflicted on LGBT Muslims because of their sexuality.

Tina Vasquez writes at bitchmedia, “It’s Time to End the Long History of Feminism Failing Transgender Women*trigger warning transphobia and Cathy Brennan*:

This debate is not just feminist-theory inside baseball. Though outspoken, politically active trans-exclusionary radical feminists are relatively few in number, their influence on legislation and mainstream perceptions of transgender people is powerful and real.

For example, transgender people were able to readily obtain government-funded healthcare prior to 1980. That year, Janice Raymond wrote a report for the Reagan administration called “Technology on the Social and Ethical Aspects of Transsexual Surgery” which informed the official federal position on medical care for transgender people. The paper’s conclusion reads, “The elimination of transsexualism is not best achieved by legislation prohibiting transsexual treatment and surgery, but rather by legislation that limits it and by other legislation that lessens the support given to sex-role stereotyping.” In her book Transgender History, Susan Stryker says that the government curtailed transgender access to government social services under Reagan, “In part in response to anti-transgender feminist arguments that dovetailed with conservative politics.”

These days, trans-exclusionary feminists’ voices seem louder than ever, as they use social media to amplify their message. If you start following feminist conversations online, at first it seems like there’s a chorus of individuals running websites that speak out against the dangers of accepting transgender women as women. But then it becomes clear that numerous websites and Twitter feeds come from just one person: Cathy Brennan. On her personal site, Brennan lists her numerous blogs: Gender Fatigue (which recently published a tirade about Janet Mock’s gender that would make Piers Morgan blush), Pretendbians (devoted to documenting transgender people who “oppress Lesbians”), Name the Problem (which posts mugshots of alleged sex offenders along with write-ups about trans activists), the aforementioned Gender Identity Watch (which posits to watch “legal developments that erase female reality”), and a private site called Fauxmosexuals.

Laurie Penny at New Statesmen writes, “The way we talk about rape and abuse is changing*trigger warning rape*:

Rape culture means more than a culture in which rape is routine. Rape culture involves the systematic silencing of victims even as women and children are instructed to behave like potential victims at all times. In order to preserve rape culture, society at large has to believe two different things at once. Firsty, that women and children lie about rape, but that they should also act as if rape will be the result if they get into a strange car, walk down a strange street or wear a sexy outfit. Secondly, if it happens, it’s their own fool fault for not respecting the unwritten rules.

This paradox involves significant mental gymnastics. But as more and more people come forward with accusations, as the pattern of historical and ongoing abuse of power becomes harder to ignore, the paradox gets harder to maintain. We are faced with two alternatives: either women and children are lying about rape on an industrial, organised scale, or rape and sexual abuse are endemic in this society, and have been for centuries. Facing up to the reality of the latter is a painful prospect.

Mia McKenzie from Black Girl Dangerous writes, “4 Ways to Push Back Against Your Privilege“:

3. Shut up

This one is so, so important. If you are a person with a lot of privilege (i.e. a white, straight, able-bodied, class-privileged, cisgender male or any combination of two or more of those) and you call yourself being against oppression, then it should be part of your regular routine to sit the hell down and shut the eff up. If you can recognize that part of the reason your opinion, your voice, carries so much weight and importance is because you are a white man (or whatever combination is working for you), then pushing back against your privilege often looks like shutting your face. Now, of course, using your privilege to speak out against oppression is very important. But I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about chiming in, taking up space, adding your two cents, playing devil’s advocate, etc. when 1) no one asked you, 2) the subject matter is outside your realm of experience (why do you even think you get to have an opinion about the lives of black women??), 3) anything you say is just going to cause more harm because your voice, in and of itself, is a reminder that you always get to have a voice and that voice usually drowns out the voices of others.

Rebecca Shaw writes at SBS, “Comment: Why it matters that Ellen Page came out“:

Her nervousness instantly took me back to the night that I first spoke those words out loud to another human being. It was one of the scariest things that I have ever done, and I remember the clenched feeling in my chest, my stomach rolling with nerves.

We were sitting outside in the cold, and I can still see my breath coming out hard and fast into the night air. I was terrified – and drunk. And yet, I knew that the person I was telling would be 100 per cent fine with it. In fact, I knew that she probably already knew. It didn’t matter. Saying those words out loud, even to an incredibly receptive crowd (like the HRC) is petrifying.

Brocklesnitch writes, “Biscaryials“:

Take Olympic diver Tom Daley. Don’t you think it is weird that he seemed so COMFORTABLE saying that he still fancies women while dating a MAN? Someone has obviously been taking acting lessons from Dustin Lance Orange is the New Black!! How else could you explain that he seemed content to imply that he is attracted to both sexes? That is just not possible. They are so different! Men like doing things like sports and beer and women like doing things like shopping and wine! How the fuck could you ever be attracted to both of those, like some sort of hybrid human who could enjoy beer AND wine? Or sports AND shopping?

leenamielus at Facetruth writes, “I Took Off My Hijab“:

By adding more layers. A knit hat and scarf around my neck to be exact.

I didn’t understand what was happening at first. People started talking to me more. Women would speak to me like I knew them since forever. Men looked at me like I was actually approachable. And I was made to feel like I was actually from this planet.

Maybe I was finally fitting in? Maybe I was no longer self conscious about my unique dress code and a face lacking makeup?

But then it became fishy. The Muslim taxi drivers who would almost always say “Assalamu Alaikum,” ask me where I’m from or if I’m single, or not allow me to pay for the fare became cold and dry. I would simply give the address, and the only dialog thereafter was at time of payment. It was puzzling.

Jacqueline Applebee at Blogging in Shadows writes, “Biphobia“:

The bank I work for starts an LGBT networking group.  I don’t quite believe it is real until I enter a room full of happy faces.  Queer staff and their partners from all over the South-East have travelled to our Brighton head office to take part in the launch.  Of course, Biphobia turns up to the event too.  He sloshes down bottles of wine, and eats all the sausage rolls.

A senior cashier from Littlehampton corners me by the windows.  “Did you bring your girlfriend with you?” she asks.

“I have a boyfriend,” I respond before I can stop myself.  “He was busy.”

The cashier looks like I’ve slapped her.  “This group is vitally important for gays and lesbians.  It’s not for straights.”

“I’m bisexual.”  I’m aware my voice is a whisper.  I’m aware I don’t want anyone else to hear me.  Biphobia slips an arm around my shoulder.  I feel totally intimidated.

Alan Austin at Independent Australia writes, “Churches combine to condemn Abbott’s evils“:

Last month, IAlisted several transgressions which have dismayed Roman Catholics. These include bioethical issues, persistent blatant lying, dudding Indigenous people, cutting overseas aid, abusing vulnerable people, militarism, spying and redistributing wealth and income in favour of the rich.

Since then, further wrongs have provoked the outrage of Catholics and Protestants alike.

What seems most offensive, however, is that those committing such clear violations of fundamental Christian teaching actually profess strong personal belief.

Such hypocrisy, according to all strands within Christendom, deserves special condemnation.

Several religious groups have sheeted home blame for this week’s loss of life on Manus Island to Abbott’s regime.

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The biggest and most epic linkspam of all time (Jan 2014)

Thanks to my blog running out of bandwidth in early December, and then subsequent headaches as I migrated the entire thing to another provider (with more bandwidth), I didn’t get to do my linkspam post in early December, so this will be epically epic. Sit down, get some popcorn, and enjoy the stories.

Michael Shulman at the New York Times writes, “Bisexual: A Label With Layers” (which for some reason is in “fashion and style”):

Whatever the answer, Mr. Daley’s disclosure reignited a fraught conversation within the L.G.B.T. community, having to do with its third letter. Bisexuality, like chronic fatigue syndrome, is often assumed to be imaginary by those on the outside. The stereotypes abound: bisexuals are promiscuous, lying or in denial. They are gay men who can’t yet admit that they are gay, or “lesbians until graduation,” sowing wild oats before they find husbands.

“The reactions that you’re seeing are classic in terms of people not believing that bisexuality really exists, feeling that it’s a transitional stage or a form of being in the closet,” said Lisa Diamond, a professor at the University of Utah who studies sexual orientation.

Adam Mordacai presents a fantastic spoken word piece by Guante, at Upworthy, “If You Tell This Dude To ‘Man Up,’ You Better Be Prepared To Learn Why What You Said Is Awful

Colin Freeman at the The Telegraph writes, “Child taken from womb by social services“:

It will be raised in Parliament this week by John Hemming, a Liberal Democrat MP. He chairs the Public Family Law Reform Coordinating Campaign, which wants reform and greater openness in court proceedings involving family matters.

He said: “I have seen a number of cases of abuses of people’s rights in the family courts, but this has to be one of the more extreme.

“It involves the Court of Protection authorising a caesarean section without the person concerned being made aware of what was proposed. I worry about the way these decisions about a person’s mental capacity are being taken without any apparent concern as to the effect on the individual being affected.”

Benquo at LessWrong writes, “Wait vs Interrupt Culture”:

Then I went to St. John’s College – the talking school (among other things). In Seminar (and sometimes in Tutorials) there was a totally different conversational norm. People were always expected to wait until whoever was talking was done. People would apologize not just for interrupting someone who was already talking, but for accidentally saying something when someone else looked like they were about to speak. This seemed totally crazy. Some people would just blab on unchecked, and others didn’t get a chance to talk at all. Some people would ignore the norm and talk over others, and nobody interrupted them back to shoot them down.

But then a few interesting things happened:

1) The tutors were able to moderate the discussions, gently. They wouldn’t actually scold anyone for interrupting, but they would say something like, “That’s interesting, but I think Jane was still talking,” subtly pointing out a violation of the norm.

2) People started saying less at a time.

Maria Bello at The New York Times writes, “Coming Out as a Modern Family“:

My feelings about attachment and partnership have always been that they are fluid and evolving. Jack’s father, Dan, will always be my partner because we share Jack. Dan is the best father and the most wonderful man I’ve known. Just because our relationship is nonsexual doesn’t make him any less of a partner. We share the same core values, including putting our son first. My more recent ex, Bryn, remains my partner because we share our activism. And Clare will always be my partner because she is also my best friend.

Van Badham writes at Women’s Agenda, “Van Badham battles the Brosphere: On women, trolls and the Australian media in 2013“:

Perhaps due to the phenomenon of watching Australia’s first female prime minister forced, position notwithstanding, to suffer the sexist indignity so familiar to Australia’s working women, local feminist commentators have found a ripe readership for their opinions. Ripe enough, in fact, that many of the old mastheads are now commissioning from a pool of what used to be marginal activity. Discussions of rape culture, slut-shaming, abortion wars, the gender pay gap and sex discrimination are happening not in dingy ex-broom-closets in university union buildings or in photocopied newsletters mailed out irregularly from an underfunded women’s centre, but across the mainstream media – and every day.

Georgia Dent at Women’s Agenda, “Women need to work an extra 25 years to match men’s superannuation“:

The average 60-year-old Australian woman would need to work an extra 25 years in order to retire with the same superannuation account balance as her male counterpart.

The Westpac Women & Retirement Readiness Report, released yesterday, shows a $121,200 gap between the median super account balance for women and men ($108,900 and $230,100 respectively). This means a female earning an average wage of $51,200 would need to work until she is 85 to start her retirement on a level financial playing field.

Bob Owens at Bearing Arms writes, “Southport, NC cop shoots tased and restrained 90-pound HS student after allegedly stating, “we don’t have time for this.”*trigger warning – mental health, police violence*

It appears that the two officers that initially responded to the call had Keith Vidal calming down from his episode with a third officer arrived. The situation then immediately turned for the worse, and Vidal was tased repeatedly and was in the grip of two officers when the third officer reached in with his duty sidearm and killed him at point blank range.

Bridie Jabour at The Guardian writes, “History wars: the men behind the national school curriculum review” and gives a run down on Kevin Donnelly and Ken Wiltshire.

Preston Towers at AusOpinion writes, ““Everyone’s an Expert on Education” – Pyne’s Education Revolution of Two Men“:

An extraordinary timeline. First of all – the review by Donnelly and Wiltshire is supposed to take 4 months. 4 months to consult educators, administrators and legislators in every state and territory, analyse the education system of other countries. That sounds like they’ll only have time for “talking to a few friends”, rather than broadly consulting.  Next, that the changes recommended will be implemented in 2015.  How Pyne suggests schools will be able to get time for teachers to rewrite programs is not mentioned, nor is how the review from Donnelly and Wiltshire will be converted to outcomes that could be easily integrated.  Programs for 2015 in Years 8 and 10 will start to be written in Term 1 this year – many schools would have already finished them. It’s been one of the largely program rewrites in the past decades of teaching and Pyne wants schools to change the programs within six months?  I would suggest school systems – not just public ones – may have a problem with this.

gradient lair writes, “10 Ways That White Feminist and White Anti-Racism Allies Are Abusive To Me In Social Media

The idea that I should simply overlook these irritating and manipulative passive aggressive behaviors, ones that occur hundreds of times a month (not hyperbole) simply because these Whites on the Left don’t tweet me direct slurs (some do use coded racist language though) is something that doesn’t sit well with me. Microaggressions harm. Occurring regularly over time has just as much impact as dealing with less frequent incidents of overt racism and the day to day of dealings with institutional racism.

Victoria Bond at HuffPost Gay Voices (still problematic) writes, “Three Problems for Bisexuality“:

Connor at The Independent put the sexual revolution front and center rightly. The work of psychologist Roy Baumeister, for example, supports that the sexual revolution impacted women’s lives much more than it did those of men. But Connor obscures the main point of female sexuality’s adaptability (pointing toward bisexuality in the case of same-sex contact) by pitting the findings on women against those of men, those of “the standard.” Connor’s reading of women as “catching up with men,” implies we are behind and also tacitly considered less than men. Freud himself immortalized the inferiority with which women are commonly regarded in his most famous question: “What do women want?” Women’s desires may even in the 21st century remain mysterious irrespective of how many answers feminism and one of its many offshoots, like the work-life balance debate, for example, has provided. All the same science is not clueless. This “women are mysterious because we’re not like men” crap is just that: crap. Chivers’s research at least lays the carnal aspect of female sexual desire bare. We are aroused by male-male, female-female, female-male and even, to some degree, animal sounds. In other words, female desire is flexible. Given this is the case doesn’t it make sense that women would be more profoundly adaptable to the evolution the sexual revolution set off and that men’s numbers remain steady, due to how little we have allowed the sexual revolution to really touch them? Especially given their sexual wiring shows less changeability than ours.

Adam Clarke Estes of Gizmodo writes, “Your Face and Name Will Appear in Google Ads Starting Today“:

So how does that make you feel? Google obviously wants you to feel okay about the changes. The company assured users in its announcement blog post, “On Google, you’re in control of what you share.” (Emphasis Google’s) And that’s technically true. You can opt out of the face-flaunting new feature through this settings page in Google+, but if you don’t do anything, Google says it will use your information without explicit consent.

Celeste Liddle at Rantings of an Aboriginal Feminist wrote, “Further to my piece on sexism, racism and the AFL“:

In addition to the Brownlow Night point, I also feel it is important to look at women’s sport as a whole. Women work their guts out on the fields constantly. They work just as hard, if not harder, than the men. In comparison though, they receive very little recognition for their efforts and dedication. Their sponsorship is chicken feed and their professional earnings, with only a couple of exceptions, amount to pocket money in comparison to what men in AFL will make. In addition, society itself, due to a deeply embedded culture of believing women’s sport is not as good due to their lesser physical capabilities (or something) or that a woman’s place is not on the field. For further information, please revisit the kind of slurs you hear directed to male players when they are perceived to not be playing their best game. Our amazing Australian women’s cricket team which continually brings home the trophies gets zero recognition compared to our currently mediocre men’s team. Our almost unbeatable netballers get paid about $15k in their rookie year, compared to the $130k AFL players get. Each year, the Deadly Awards offer three sports categories for men to win in, one unisex category and one for women. You get my drift.

Annabel Crabb at the ABC wrote, “Pay cuts hurt, don’t they Prime Minister?

People don’t like pay cuts. It’s a uniquely insulting process to have to go through, as it entails not only a decline in quality of life, but a broader judgment, keenly-felt by the subject, that the world does not value what they do. And that is not a nice feeling.

We know that this feeling is universal, because it’s exactly how Tony Abbott felt, after losing 40 per cent of his income in 2007 when the Howard government lost power and he went back to a basic backbench salary.

“What’s it called? Mortgage stress? The advent of the Rudd Government has caused serious mortgage stress for a section of the Australian community, i.e. former Howard government ministers!” he said at the time.

Mark Pygas at Listverse writes, “10 Amazing Women Who Led Rebellions“:

Male revolutionaries such as Che Guevara have gone down as heroes for leading rebellions against “the Man.” But forgotten by history are the women who took on far greater powers than Fulgencio Batista. Throughout the ages, women have led rebellions and revolutions which took on the might of the Roman Empire and the vast wealth of the British East India Company.

Sarah Morrison at The Independent writes, “Russian bisexual activist Irina Putilova is released from detention and taken off fast-track asylum list“:

A woman who was facing deportation to Russia has been released from detention and taken off the tougher fast-track asylum system after thousands of people signed a petition to support her release.

Irina Putilova, a 28-year-old bisexual activist, left St Petersburg six months ago, after fearing for her safety. The activist talked to The Independent from Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre on Monday and said that under Russia’s new anti-gay legislation, which criminalises the promotion of non-heterosexual relationships, she did not feel safe to return home.  She added that it was “totally impossible” for her to be free in Russia as an LGBTQ person.

Katy Waldman at Slate writes, “Society Tells Men That Friendship Is Girly. Men Respond by Not Having Friends“:

American men are starving for friends, writes sociologist Lisa Wade in Salon. Or, more precisely, adult white heterosexual men have fewer friends than any other group. The friendships they do form are often superficial, involving less support and “lower levels of self-disclosure and trust.” The sad part is that surveys show that men desire closeness and intimacy from their male friends just as women do. So why don’t they have it? Around the age of 15 or 16, Wade suggests, friend-like traits such as emotional openness, vulnerability, supportiveness, and caring become risky for boys to show; these qualities get suppressed in favor of self-sufficiency, stoicism, and competitive fire.

Wade sifts through the work of researcher Niobe Way, who interviewed high-school boys over four years about their evolving same-sex bonds. One kid, Justin, said this about his best guy friend:

We love each other … that’s it … you have this thing that is deep, so deep, it’s within you, you can’t explain it. It’s just a thing that you know that person is that person … I guess in life, sometimes two people can really, really understand each other and really have a trust, respect and love for each other.

Three years later, Justin came down to earth:

[My friend and I] we mostly joke around. It’s not like really anything serious or whatever … I don’t talk to nobody about serious stuff … I don’t talk to nobody. I don’t share my feelings really. Not that kind of person or whatever … It’s just something that I don’t do.

Hugo Gye at the Mail Online writes, “Work – it’s not for girls: Most Britons still believe men make better plumbers and pilots and think women shouldn’t be soldiers or electricians“:

Gender stereotypes are not yet a thing of the past as a new survey reveals that many people still have strong opinions on which jobs are suitable for men and women.

Two-fifths of Britons believe there are some jobs which women should never do, including soldier, mechanic and surgeon.

A similar proportion think that men are unable to do some jobs properly, such as beautician, florist and nurse.

Doug Saunders at The Globe and Mail writes, “Britain has an ethnic problem: the English“:

Let’s face it: Britain has an ethnic problem. Its patchwork of peoples, once the envy of the world, has become frayed, its harmony devolving into anger and xenophobia. And, we should be honest, the problem is rooted in one ethnic group – one large but troubled people who are failing to integrate into modern postindustrial society.

While some of its more ambitious members have found success in politics and business, this community is falling behind educationally and economically as a whole, self-segregating into ethnic enclaves, becoming increasingly prone to violence, rioting and substance abuse. More troubling, in recent years they have begun to vote for ethnic extremist parties that threaten to undermine basic British values.

Who are these people? The English. Once a tolerant, welcoming people who thrived in scholarship and commerce, they have become a drag on British society.

Janell Ross at The Root writes, “Racism Linked to Infant Mortality and Learning Disabilities“:

On the long list of health disparities that vex and disproportionately affect the lives of African Americans—diabetes, cancer and obesity among them—one of the earliest and, it turns out, most significant, may be just when a black child is born.

A pair of Emory University studies released this year have connected the large share of African-American children born before term with the biologically detectable effects of stress created in women’s bodies after decades of dealing with American racism. As shocking as that itself may sound, the studies’ findings don’t end there.

Racism, and its ability to increase the odds that a pregnant mother will deliver her child early, can kill. There is also evidence that racism can alter the capacity for a child to learn and distorts lives in ways that can reproduce inequality, poverty and long-term disadvantage, the studies found.

Sean Strub at HuffPost Gay Voices (still problematic) writes, “Kenneth Cole Needs a History Lesson“:

The “first AIDS research organization” was actually the AIDS Medical Foundation, which preceded amfAR by two-and-a-half years and was founded by people with AIDS, including Michael Callen, Dr. Joseph Sonnabend, a pioneering researcher and community physician and Dr. Krim (pictured on right; photo by Peter Serling). Sonnabend knew Krim from interferon research and had asked for her help in raising money to study his sick patients. The partner of one of Sonnabend’s patients — an African American, I might add, whose role has also been largely lost to history — suggested formation of a foundation to pursue research drawing on Sonnabend’s pool of patients.

At the Gamma Project, “Is The Bisexual Experience different?“:

I started at Gamma Project with former experience counselling gay and lesbian clients in similar community settings. At the time I felt my previous knowledge was easily transferable to bisexual men and their concerns. After several counselling sessions with a variety of bisexual clients I was convinced otherwise and surprised how different this client group was to my previous client group, the gay and lesbian community.

What stayed with me most was that many of my client’s stories had an underlying theme of isolation and secrecy. It didn’t matter if I was talking to transsexual clients who were waiting to dress up at home once their wives and families had left, or if I was engaging with married and sexually loyal bisexual men who were yearning for male friends to share their emotional life – their common concern was a craving for being accepted and acknowledged.

Nitasha Tiku writes at Valley Wag, “Paul Graham Says Women “Haven’t Been Hacking For the Past 10 Years”“:

Okay. Deep breaths. Still with me? Graham makes clear in this interview that people who do not fit into the archetype of the precocious programmer are routinely dismissed as unworthy. That archetype, of course, is usually attached to a penis. No wonder Graham once said he can be “tricked by anyone who looks like Mark Zuckerberg.” If you’re a female engineer who found her interest in STEM education squashed early in life by gender norms, but had the guts to try again later, your cred as a coder is questionable. If you’ve been programming for the past 10 years, rip off your invisibility cloak because Graham has never seen the likes of you. That must be why Graham’s wife Jessica Livingston, who cofounded Y Combinator and has been instrumental from the beginning, is the institution’s “secret weapon.”

Will Ripley at 9news.com writes, “Transgender woman’s lawsuit leads to CDC policy change for breast cancer screenings“:

When Blair tried getting a free mammogram this spring, she never imagined what would happen.

“When I was told that I didn’t qualify because I was transgender, that just really shook my foundations,” Blair said. “I’m really no different than anybody else.”

Her income at the time was below the poverty line and she met all the requirements, except one: CDC policy only covered “genetically female” patients.

Ray Filar at The Guardian writes, “Where were all the lesbians in Queer as Pop?“:

In these post-Queer as Folk times, the word “queer” is rarely said on TV. Not with any approval, anyway. That might be why Channel 4’s documentary Queer as Pop: From Gay Scene to Mainstream, initially seemed so exciting. If you’re part of a subculture whose existence is generally ignored – despite its considerable influence on wider culture – you grasp at any mainstream attempt at representation.

Yet in promising to explore “the men, music and moments that have brought pop music out the closet”, this documentary replicated mainstream prejudices by writing women out of its cultural history. Featuring a bland narrative peppered with sweeping generalisations (including the frankly fantastic claim that David Bowie putting his arm around guitarist Mick Ronson on stage was “more important in British pop culture than all the Pride marches, and Stonewall”), the show was livened only by the undeniably great pop music.

Jack Weatherford at Lapham’s Quarterly writes, “The Wrestler Princess“:

Although mentioned in a variety of Muslim sources as well as in the accounts of Marco Polo, Khutulun almost disappeared into the fog of historic myth. Only by chance was the story of the wrestling princess resurrected in a twisted way in the eighteenth century. In 1710, while writing the first biography of Genghis Khan, the French scholar François Pétis de La Croix published a book of tales and fables combining various Asian literary themes. One of his longest and best stories derived from the history of Khutulun. In his adaptation, however, she bore the title Turandot, meaning “Turkish Daughter,” the nineteen-year-old daughter of Altoun Khan, the Mongol emperor of China. Instead of challenging her suitors in wrestling, Pétis de La Croix had her confront them with three riddles. In his more dramatic version, instead of wagering mere horses, the suitor had to forfeit his life if he failed to answer correctly.

Fifty years later, the popular Italian playwright Carlo Gozzi made her story into a drama of a “tigerish woman” of “unrelenting pride.” In a combined effort by two of the greatest literary talents of the era, Friedrich von Schiller translated the play into German as Turandot, Prinzessin von China, and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe directed it on the stage in Weimar in 1802.

More than a century later, Italian composer Giacomo Puccini was still working on his opera Turandot at the time of his death 1924. Unlike his other operatic heroine, Madame Butterfly who lived and died for the love of a man, Turandot rejected any man whom she deemed inferior to her. His opera became the most famous of the artistic variations of her life’s story.

Katie W at The Toast writes, “Misandrist Animals“:

The anglerfish swims. She spends her life in the deep darkness of the sea. She notices little outside of herself, only the glow of the occasional passing edible fish and the movement in water created by those too big to be seen in the darkness. Encounters with other creatures happen so far in between that, most of the time, she believes herself to be the only one. She forgets that her swimming is a purposeful search for food; in time, she forgets everything but herself. The majority of her life is spent in darkness, alone. Her interactions with the males of the species are cut short-she notices them briefly as the find her, but then they bite and merge and lose themselves in the worship of her, and she no longer remembers their existence. She does not acknowledge the others who were when she lays eggs, because by the time she is ready, they no longer exist; they are a part of her. They are a tail, a fin, a reproductive organ hanging off of her magnificent surface. The anglerfish requires nothing but the intermittent fish meal: a sacrifice to her altar. Knowing herself to be a god, the anglerfish swims as a prayer to the only creature in the void.

Adina Nack at Girl w/Pen! writes, “Healthy Relationships and Families – Beyond Monogamy“:

Yes, poly women say that they relish the opportunity to have multiple partners. The equality of allowing everyone access to multiple partners, regardless of gender, means that polyamory has a significantly different impact on women than polygyny. Women in poly relationships tend to be highly-educated and able to be financially independent if circumstances require – a significant departure from women in polygynous marriages who are typically denied education and access to paid work. Poly women generally chose the relationship style as adults, rather than entering arranged marriages as adolescents who may not have even been consulted about their wishes. Results of this gender parity are evident at the community level, in which most of the high-visibility leaders, activists, writers, and researchers are women.

Charlotte Shane at The New Inquiry writes, “Downward-Facing Drones“:

I’ve heard particularly devout practioners claim that yoga, if it were even more widely practiced than it already is, would eliminate murder and soothe tensions between nations. It’s common knowledge among yoga devotees that if only politicians did yoga, civility would be restored to our government. (It’s less commonly known that Congressional gyms already offer regular yoga classes.)

Speculations like this might seem too facile to be worth criticizing, but they’re a symptom of prizing the body as a foolproof thoroughfare to one’s heart. Though Americans may treat sports heroes as gods and resist acknowledging their obvious flaws, rarely does a form of exercise itself convey the philosophy that physical prowess leads to holiness.

Laurie Penny at New Statesman writes, “Sherlock and the Adventure of the Overzealous Fanbase“:

Fan-ficcers are used to being treated as the pondscum of the nerd world, a few slimy feet below the table-top roleplayers and historical re-enacters. They don’t care, because they know – alright, alright, because we know – that fanfic is brilliant. I’ve spent many years hanging out in fanfic communities, mostly as a reader rather than a writer (my cringeworthy teenage Buffy slash was mostly done on paper). Fan fiction is where modern storytelling enters the realm of myth and folktale, where characters take on a life beyond the control of their authors, where they are let loose in communities with their own ideas about how to tell a story. More and more writers are coming out of those communities – not just E L James with her steamy Twilight rip-off, but fanficcers who break out into publishing their own original books, sometimes to great critical acclaim.

Excuse me, by the way, from taking a break from serious social justice writing to totally nerd out. It’s just that I’m desperately interested in stories, and who gets to tell them, and who has to listen.

Barbara Ehrenreich at The Atlantic writes, “It Is Expensive to Be Poor“:

For most women in poverty, in both good times and bad, the shortage of money arises largely from inadequate wages. When I worked on my book, Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America, I took jobs as a waitress, nursing-home aide, hotel housekeeper, Wal-Mart associate, and a maid with a house-cleaning service. I did not choose these jobs because they were low-paying. I chose them because these are the entry-level jobs most readily available to women.

What I discovered is that in many ways, these jobs are a trap: They pay so little that you cannot accumulate even a couple of hundred dollars to help you make the transition to a better-paying job. They often give you no control over your work schedule, making it impossible to arrange for child care or take a second job. And in many of these jobs, even young women soon begin to experience the physical deterioration—especially knee and back problems—that can bring a painful end to their work life.

Michelle Nijhuis writes at Slate, “Bilbo Baggins Is a Girl“:

And you know what? The switch was easy. Bilbo, it turns out, makes a terrific heroine. She’s tough, resourceful, humble, funny, and uses her wits to make off with a spectacular piece of jewelry. Perhaps most importantly, she never makes an issue of her gender—and neither does anyone else.

Despite what can seem like a profusion of heroines in kids’ books, girls are still underrepresented in children’s literature. A 2011 study of almost 6,000 children’s books published between 1900 and 2000 showed that only 31 percent had female central characters. While the disparity has declined in recent years, it persists—particularly, and interestingly, among animal characters. And many books with female protagonists take place in male-dominated worlds, peopled with male doctors and male farmers and mothers who have to ask fathers for grocery money (Richard Scarry, I’m looking at you). The imbalance is even worse in kids’ movies: Geena Davis’ Institute on Gender in Media found that for every female character in recent family films, there are three male characters. Crowd scenes, on average, are only 17 percent female.

Susana Polo at The Mary Sue wrote, “The Two Most Inexplicable Examples of Video Game Community Harassment This Week“:

In my title I call each of these examples of harassment “inexplicable,” even though they have clear explanations: some folks are uncomfortable with a woman making video games. Some folks are uncomfortable with a perceived feminist being involved in their video games. But “inexplicable” was really my first reaction: you mean a bit of gender swapped fan art led to backers demanding that heads roll and money be refunded? That an interactive fiction game placed on Steam Greenlight would incite an internet community that apparently believes that because they have the attention of men, women can never suffer from depression?

Dr. Elisabeth A. Sheff at Psychology Today writes, “Fear of the Polyamorous Possibility“:

Coming to the realization that there is an option to have openly conducted non-monogamous relationships is what I call the polyamorous possibility. Once people become aware that there is middle-ground between monogamy and cheating they have grasped the polyamorous possibility, and can never unthink it again. They may reject the idea or decide to explore it further, but the potential for themselves or their partner to initiate discussion of a polyamorous relationship exists in a way it had not before they became aware that polyamory is a social option. In my research, I have found that three common reactions follow realization of the polyamorous possibility.

Annie-Rose Strasser at Think Progress writes, “Fox Guest Encourages Female Host To Quit, Get Married, Have Babies“:

In the piece, Venker argues that women won’t find fulfillment trying to balance a relationship and family with full-time work. “Financial independence is a great thing,” she writes, “but you can’t take your paycheck to bed with you. And there’s nothing empowering about being beholden to an employer when what you really want is to have a baby. ” She uses this opinion to advocate for women having less of a role in the workforce, and letting men be the breadwinners. “Unlike women,” Venker writes, “a man’s identity is inextricably linked to his paycheck.”

Tracey Lien at Polygon writes, “No girls allowed“:

If the selection at the average retailer is anything to go by, girls don’t play video games. If cultural stereotypes are anything to go by, video games are for males. They’re the makers, the buyers and the players.

There is often truth to stereotypes. But whatever truth there may be, the stereotype does not show the long and complicated path taken to formulate it, spread it and have it come back to shape societal views.

The stereotype, for example, does not explain why “girls don’t play video games.” It does not reveal who or what is responsible for it. It does not explain how an industry that started with games like Pong (1972) or the first computer version of Tic-Tac-Toe (1959) came to be responsible for a medium that, for most of its history, hasn’t had even an aisle’s worth of games for Maida.

ReBecca Theodore-Vachon at RogerEbert.com writes, “Acting right around White folks: on “12 Years a Slave” and “respectability politics”“:

In his article “I Hate Myself: What Are Respectability Politics And Why Do Black People Subscribe To Them?”, Maurice Dolberry defines Black Respectability: “They are an undefined yet understood set of ideas about how Black people should live positively and how we should define Black American culture.” Dolberry traces the roots of this ideology as far back as the 19th century with the formation of the Women’s Convention – a group of Black women from various Baptist churches whose mission was to uplift and unify the African-American community. One of their missions was to go into poorer communities, handing out flyers that instructed them how to behave properly in public, proper hygeine and the importance of sexual abstinence. Unfortunately, Black Respectability politics would only target those of lesser economic means.

Even noted Black intellectuals like W.E.B. DuBois engaged in respectability politics. In his 1920 essay “The Damnation of Women,” DuBois described abolitionists Sojourner Truth and Harriet Tubman as “strong, primitive types of Negro womanhood,” and hoped for a “finer, type of black woman wherein trembles all of that delicate sense of beauty and striving for self-realization.” While DuBois appreciated both women’s contributions to the end slavery, their physical appearance and socioeconomic background did not qualify them as the right kind of “Negro” DuBois desired.

Dr. Jill McDevitt at A Day in the Life of a Sexologist wrote, “I accompanied someone to the police station to report a sexual assault, and this is what happened*trigger warning for discussion of rape, rape apologia, and arsehats*

Amanda Hess at the Pacific Standard wrote, “Why Women Aren’t Welcome on the Internet“: *trigger warning for online harassment*

A woman doesn’t even need to occupy a professional writing perch at a prominent platform to become a target. According to a 2005 report by the Pew Research Center, which has been tracking the online lives of Americans for more than a decade, women and men have been logging on in equal numbers since 2000, but the vilest communications are still disproportionately lobbed at women. We are more likely to report being stalked and harassed on the Internet—of the 3,787 people who reported harassing incidents from 2000 to 2012 to the volunteer organization Working to Halt Online Abuse, 72.5 percent were female. Sometimes, the abuse can get physical: A Pew survey reported that five percent of women who used the Internet said “something happened online” that led them into “physical danger.” And it starts young: Teenage girls are significantly more likely to be cyberbullied than boys. Just appearing as a woman online, it seems, can be enough to inspire abuse. In 2006, researchers from the University of Maryland set up a bunch of fake online accounts and then dispatched them into chat rooms. Accounts with feminine usernames incurred an average of 100 sexually explicit or threatening messages a day. Masculine names received 3.7.

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Stereotype threat in the workplace

This is a slightly edited copy of a blog post I wrote at work.  We’re encouraged to blog about stuff, so I decided to blog about work related feminism – because why not.

I first learnt about stereotype threat a couple of years ago while reading the book Delusions of Gender: How Our Minds, Society, and Neurosexism Create Difference by Cordelia Fine, an Associate Professor at Melbourne Business School, Australia, and a Senior Research Fellow at the Department of Psychological Sciences at the University of Melbourne, Australia.  Dr Fine explained stereotype threat in an interview following the release of her book as follows:

When we’re trying to do something that’s traditionally regarded as being the specialty of the other sex – for example, maths or understanding another person’s thoughts and feelings – we do so under the cloud of ‘stereotype threat’. Gender stereotypes are primed in our mind, and this interferes with our ability and interest in the task. There’s a growing body of fascinating research into this phenomenon, trying to unravel how and why it happens. But what I find most striking are the studies that show what happen when you blow the cloud of stereotype threat away. You can do this, for example, simply by telling women that on the maths test they’re about to take, women do just as well as men. And when you do, women perform significantly better than you’d expect from their course or test scores. As Catherine Good and her colleagues have put it, dispersing stereotype threat unleashes mathematical potential in women that is usually suppressed.

In another interview Dr Fine added that stereotype threat:

… refers to the difficulty for people who belong to a group stereotypically seen as being not very good at a particular thing they’re trying to do. For a woman doing a math test, she has an acquired stereotype threat that if you do badly, people are going to judge you because you’re a woman and that you’re going to confirm what everyone already “knew,” that women are bad at math. It creates a whole host of harmful psychological effects in people’s minds. And psychologists have discovered if you make gender seem not relevant to a task, then men and women perform equally well. Right now, when it comes to women in traditional male domains, it’s like a track star running into a headwind — their performance is impeded.

Caryn J. Block, Sandy M. Koch, Benjamin E. Liberman, Tarani J. Merriweather, and Loriann Roberson published an academic paper, “Contending With Stereotype Threat at Work: A Model of Long-Term Responses“, looking at the long-term impact of stereotype threat in the workplace.  Block et al (2011, pg 573) state:

Thus, when an individual encounters a situation where there is a negative stereotype about his or her group, that individual will experience heightened arousal, resulting in fewer cognitive resources available for performing the task. These cognitive resources are tied up in self-regulatory thoughts such as task-related worry and negative thoughts about one’s own performance. This can result in a cycle of lowered performance and lowered expectations for performance in this domain.

Block et al (2011) are concerned that the longer someone experiences stereotype threat, the greater the impact on their self-esteem, and the more likely they are to feel “discouraged and depressed if they are unable to meet their goals” (pg 578-579).  Stereotype threat can lead to individuals feeling that they have to prove that they are not like the stereotype and work at disassociating themselves from their social identity group, which may be a short-term fix, but not one that can be sustained long-term without negative effects (Block et al 2011).

Block et al (2011) do suggest that there are ways to combat stereotype threat in the workplace that will help individuals with combating the negative effects of it.  Two of the main strategies focus on building resilience and finding positive ways to identify with your group (pg 584):

Collective Action Another strategy used in resilience is seeking to change the context so that it is more inclusive for those who share one’s identity through collective action (Roberts, 2005). There are many contextual factors that create the conditions for stereotype threat, such as skewed demographics and a pressure to assimilate to the dominant culture or buy into workplace norms (Steele et al., 2002). When individuals realize that they are not alone in contending against negative stereotypes, they may choose to join with others in an effort to change the context. These group-level strategies consist of engaging in collective action and social change for the betterment of the group’s welfare. Many large corporations have employee network and affinity groups that provide social support, developmental opportunities, and advocacy for women, people of color, and LGBT employees. The National Science Foundation’s ADVANCE program for the advancement of women in science and engineering careers has a national agenda that serves to change the context for women scientists by increasing representation and retention of women in science, fostering an environment that will result in leadership among women and shifting institutional cultural norms that are more inclusive.

Redefining criteria for success. A further strategy used in response to stereotype threat when resilient is to redefine one’s own criteria for success at work. This involves establishing what success means on one’s own terms, not based on others’ standards for evaluation or upward progression (Steele et al., 2002). It incorporates shifting priorities to what one values and choosing to acknowledge that as a standard by which to measure success.

The good news for my workplace is that they support and actively encourage employee network groups such as Women in Technology and an LGBTI network.  They promotes diversity as a positive attribute within the company, recognising that a diverse company that is as diverse as the population base it operates in, is an overall positive and that supporting employees to feel that they belong and are valued results in higher productivity and loyalty. Their support of employee network and affinity groups reduces overall stereotype threat for those employees who are affected by it.  The other programs that my employer has in place, such as supporting women in senior technical and people manager positions also significantly reduces the effects of stereotype threat.

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The linkspam of ARGH ARGH GET IT OFF ME

So I had a terrible fright the other night while driving home that a spider had crawled down the back of my shirt.  It ended up being a very dead moth, after smearing it all over my shirt and back, and a very frightened me.  Now that my panic of creepy crawly things has passed, I thought I’d share some great links with you that I’ve found over the past month.

First up is a post from Eve Rickert, guest posting at Solopoly, “Slippery language and couple-centric polyamory“, which I pretty much agree with all of:

Part of what Franklin and I are trying to do with our book is to reflect the real diversity of structures and approaches that polyamorous people adopt. We’re trying to break free from the couple-centric approach that has long characterized so much of the writing and discourse about polyamory, even on Franklin’s own site. In this process, we’re learning that language can be very slippery. Many common phrases that poly people use — even those who don’t practice hierarchical polyamory — reflect a couple-centric viewpoint. It’s damn hard to root these out.

Greta Christina featured a guest post from Franklin Veaux (the Franklin referred to above), “More Than Two: Guest Post on Ethical Polyamory from Franklin Veaux“:

It’s difficult to talk about polyamory without hearing the expression “ethical non-monogamy.” There’s a bit of a sticky wicket, though, in that we rarely talk about the definition of “ethical,” beyond the obvious “don’t lie to your partners.” That’s a good start, sure, but it’s not enough to construct an entire foundation of relationship ethics on. When we’re living in a society that proscribes everything except heterosexual marriage between exactly two cisgendered people of opposite sexes, how do we even start talking about what makes an ethical non-monogamous relationship? Where do we turn for ethics? What distinguishes an ethical relationship from a non-ethical one? Are ethical relationships egalitarian, and if so, how does that align with BDSM relationships that are deliberately constructed along the lines of power exchange? If two people make an agreement and then present that agreement unilaterally to a third person, who is given few options other than accept the agreement as-is or walk away, is that ethical? What happens when people make relationship agreements, and then their needs change? What are ethical ways of revisiting and renegotiating previous agreements? How do we even define “ethics” in the first place, without resorting to religious or social conventions? What does it take for a person to make ethical relationship choices that aren’t aligned with a religious tradition or a cultural norm?

Laurie Penny New Statesman writes, “Society needs to get over its harmful obsession with labelling us all girls or boys“:

There are many conditions that can cause a person to be biologically intersex. Stories about the “third gender”, about gods and humans who weren’t quite men or women, have been with us for millennia, but there has long been pressure on doctors and parents to “fix” any baby who isn’t obviously either a boy or a girl. This often entails intimate surgery that is performed when the child is too young to consent. Traumatic reports about the effect this sort of procedure can have on kids when they grow up appear routinely in the tabloids – but the question of why, precisely, it is considered so urgent that every child be forced to behave like a “normal” boy or girl is rarely discussed.

Carl Zimmer at The New York Time’s Science section writes, “DNA Double Take“:

But scientists are discovering that — to a surprising degree — we contain genetic multitudes. Not long ago, researchers had thought it was rare for the cells in a single healthy person to differ genetically in a significant way. But scientists are finding that it’s quite common for an individual to have multiple genomes. Some people, for example, have groups of cells with mutations that are not found in the rest of the body. Some have genomes that came from other people.

“There have been whispers in the matrix about this for years, even decades, but only in a very hypothetical sense,” said Alexander Urban, a geneticist at Stanford University. Even three years ago, suggesting that there was widespread genetic variation in a single body would have been met with skepticism, he said. “You would have just run against the wall.”

But a series of recent papers by Dr. Urban and others has demonstrated that those whispers were not just hypothetical. The variation in the genomes found in a single person is too large to be ignored. “We now know it’s there,” Dr. Urban said. “Now we’re mapping this new continent.”

Rebecca Hiles at XOJane writes, “How Not To Be A Dick To To Your Polyamorous Friend“:

While the vast majority of my friends and family were incredibly understanding when I came out as polyamorous, some had questions and criticisms. Even now, after about 4 years of being publically polyamorous, I know quite a few people who just “don’t get” polyamory.

While discussing relationship structures which may be unfamiliar to you can be a bit awkward, and lead to misunderstandings, it is important to ask questions rather than passing judgements or making blind assumptions.

Clare Foran at The Atalantic Cities writes, “How to Design a City for Women“:

The majority of men reported using either a car or public transit twice a day — to go to work in the morning and come home at night. Women, on the other hand, used the city’s network of sidewalks, bus routes, subway lines and streetcars more frequently and for a myriad reasons.

“The women had a much more varied pattern of movement,” Bauer recalls. “They were writing things like, ‘I take my kids to the doctor some mornings, then bring them to school before I go to work. Later, I help my mother buy groceries and bring my kids home on the metro.'”

Women used public transit more often and made more trips on foot than men. They were also more likely to split their time between work and family commitments like taking care of children and elderly parents. Recognizing this, city planners drafted a plan to improve pedestrian mobility and access to public transit.

Sarah Milstein at HuffPost Women writes, “5 Ways White Feminists Can Address Our Own Racism“:

Last month, the hashtag #SolidarityIsForWhiteWomen erupted on Twitter. Started by Mikki Kendall, it immediately became a channel for women of color to call out how implicit racial bias, double standards for women of different races and overt racism are all baked into mainstream white feminism. If you’ve been following feminism for the past 150 years, you probably weren’t surprised by the range of grievances. But if you’re a white feminist and you were surprised or you felt defensive or you think you’re not part of the problem, then now is the time to woman up, rethink your own role and help reshape feminism.

While there are many reasons white feminists have to do this work, Kendall’s hashtag highlighted an important one: we cannot credibly or successfully seek societal change when we ourselves create the same injustices we rail against. In other words, the problems we face as women are often the problems we create as white people.

Erin Rook at PQ writes, “International Leather SIR/boy Competition to Ban Trans Contestants“:

The board of directors for two international leather community events announced Sept. 22 that they will no longer permit trans men to enter the International Leather SIR/boy contest — contestants must be cisgender gay men.

The change comes after ownership of the contest changed hands from Mark Frazier to Jeffrey Payne about a year ago and as the organization expands opportunities for participation to a wider segment of the community be eliminating the requirement for contestants to advance through regional competitions.

According to Leatherati, Payne explained that the policy change harkens back to the old days of the contest, which only opened up to trans contestants five years ago in order to comply with California law.

Suzi Skinner at Women’s Agenda writes, “Three tips for talking about gender equality in a social setting“:

Discussing women in leadership, or gender equality in general, in a social setting can be illuminating. If your companions are supporters of the cause the conversation will flow and there is, usually, much for us to learn when this occurs. However, if those in your company are not on the informed side of the ledger, it can be tricky. In that instance it’s helpful to know what you can expect so here are a few tips to think about.

Alexandra at The Feminist Hive Mind writes, “I’ll make myself a sandwich, thanks“:

There are some warning bells going off as I read more and more of the posts. For instance: There are tags for “forbidden“/”Forbidden foods“. Hell, there’s a list of “forbidden” foods in the sidebar! And I get it, there’s some shit out there that will simply ruin a pizza for me (whoever thought that black olives would be a great addition to an otherwise wonderful pie needs to sit in the corner and think about what they’ve done). But “forbidden,” even in the context of making food for someone else to enjoy, is scary strict and not a healthy way to talk to a romantic partner. I know people with food allergies that wouldn’t even use that type of black-and-white, here’s-the-line-you-do-not-cross language and their health is on the line (unlike Eric who just doesn’t like to eat green vegetables). At minimum, it’s condescending and insulting.

Alecia Simmonds at Daily Life writes, “In defence of ‘murderous rage’“:

In case you missed it, last week Gillard gave her first interview since being dismissed from the office of Prime Minister with journalist, author, in fact all-round-feminist-goddess, Anne Summers. When the discussion moved to the sexist treatment she endured in office Gillard responded with stoicism. She knew of the vulgar cartoons but chose not to focus on them. ‘But it must have been upsetting, surely,’ probed Summers. Gillard grinned: ‘I would have said more like murderous rage, really’. And the auditorium erupted in laughter, (which was weird because most of the people there were killjoy feminists who spend their days in a state of crushing seriousness broken only by the occasional screech of ‘that’s not funny’ when they see lovers standing on a bridge giggling at ducks).

It was a joke. It was very clearly a joke. And in case you didn’t get it Gillard explained a few seconds afterwards: “I think maybe we can drop the ‘murderous’ but we should feel a sense of rage about it because it’s only through something that really spurs you on to action that it’s going to change.”

fliponymous at Eponymous Fliponymous writes, “Scriptive, or, There Is Trouble In The Forest“:

The bisexual community has, for many years, been dismissed and erased just as surely as its individual members. Yes, we are an amorphous and heterogeneous community, but frankly no more so than any other community of Identity. Whenever I speak of the Bisexual Community, or make a statement that “Bisexuals (X)”, there is always someone waiting in the wings to point out that I don’t speak for all bisexuals, that no one can because we’re all different. I acknowledge that, and when I speak in person I am always careful to point that out. So take that as a given. I don’t speak for all of Teh Bi any more than Dan Savage speaks for all of Teh Gay. But these are distinctions that are only made within the LGBTQ community. As far as the Overculture is concerned, we are all the same.

And in important ways, we are.

If you don’t fit neatly into one of the two crisp and prescriptively defined monosexual categories, Straight or Gay, you are invisible. To use the Queer Theory concept of the cultural matrix, monosexuality has two boxes and people are shoehorned into one or the other. If you don’t, and you are loud enough about insisting that you don’t, you are at best assigned to some mythical fence where your lack of belonging completely to either puts you outside of and beneath consideration. (That’s a Chestnut, we haven’t quite gotten into the swamp yet, but feel how the ground is starting to get squishy underfoot, how the daisies are being replaced by ladyslippers?)

Noami Ceder guest posts at Geek Feminism, “Trans*H4ck 1.0 – Trans* coders make (their own) history“:

We all introduced ourselves and spoke of our backgrounds, our goals for the hackathon, and, yes, our preferred pronouns. It was clearly the first time some of the cisgender folks had ever been asked that particular question.

By the end of the evening teams had formed and work continued on through the night and into the next day, when things paused at noon for a panel discussing being trans* in tech, featuring Enne Walker, Dana McCallum, Naomi Ceder (me), Jack Aponte, and Nadia Morris and moderated by Fresh! White. The discussion ranged from using open source projects and GitHub to build a professional portfolio to finding a champion at work to how to take care of yourself in the face of the inevitable stress.

Julie guests posts at Geek Feminism with, “I think I’m in an emotionally abusive relationship… with the tech community“:

This week, I think I finally figured out what it is. I noticed the symptoms – what some might refer to as “red flags.” I think we’re in an emotionally abusive relationship.

How did we get here? Why is it this bad? Why are we staying?

There’s always been the microaggressions. I didn’t always notice them, but eventually they accumulated enough that I was buried. I couldn’t ignore them any more. Recently, a new symptom finally hit the point where I couldn’t pretend it isn’t there. Gaslighting (or at least something very akin to it).

Gaslighting is a symptom of emotional abuse, so it was a disturbing discovery. Out of curiosity, I looked up other symptoms of emotional abuse. An upsettingly long list of them were all too easy to identify with. Fuck.

Fiona Stanley at writes at The Conversation,  “Let’s treat the social causes of illness rather than just disease“:

But as a young doctor working in child health, particularly with Aboriginal children, it became obvious to me that prevention of disease was by far the best way to practice medicine; it’s more humane and definitely more cost-effective.

In 1972, I left Australia to study epidemiology and public health in the United Kingdom and then the United States, where these disciplines were well advanced. I learnt of the limitations of modern medicine, that prevention was the key to health and that many diseases commenced in social adversity.

Minna Salami writes at The Guardian, “African women are blazing a feminist trail – why don’t we hear their voices?“:

In fact, women have made significant gains all around Africa: indeed, the most successful social movement in Africa in recent decades has been the women’s movement, particularly in policy and legislation. Malawi and Liberia have female heads of state, and earlier this month Senegal elected its first female prime minister, Aminata Touré. Also, the African Union chair is female for the first time in its history. Africa’s strong legacy of female leaders is a hugely positive statement about the continent’s direction.

So why does the western feminist movement hardly look at African feminism for clues? Why does it only pay such little attention to the realisation of a once utopian fantasy of female majority leadership in Rwanda – where, since 2008, women have held over half the parliamentary seats? Feminists everywhere have spent decades campaigning for equality in political leadership, yet its achievement in Rwanda has been met with a loud silence.

At Newswise, “It May Not “Get Better” For Bisexual Teens*trigger warning for discussion of suicide*:

Teens were divided into groups based on their self-reported identification as heterosexual, mostly heterosexual, gay, mostly gay or bisexual. The study found that depression symptoms, namely thoughts of suicide, decreased from 42 percent to 12.3 percent as teens in all groups transitioned into adulthood and suicide attempts decreased from 15.9 to 2.9 percent. But the “mostly gay” and bisexual teens did not report a significant decrease in some measures of suicidal thoughts or behaviors.

The study did not determine why suicidal thoughts persisted in some groups, but experts offer some suggestions.

“Some bisexuals may struggle with depression later on because they don’t feel accepted and supported in either lesbian and gay or straight communities,” said. “Bisexual identity does not fit into the gay/straight categories most people are comfortable with.”

He suggests that gay teens may find more support than bisexual teens from the LGBT community after coming out, which would encourage feelings of self-acceptance.

Rebecca Shaw writes at The Kings Tribune, “What do you see?“:

If you follow my Twitter account, my Tumblr, my Facebook, my Myspace, my LinkedIn, my email, if you Google me, ask anyone that knows anything about me, look at my cats and music collection, have read anything I’ve ever written, or can see my thoughts, you know that I’m a lesbian. I have been out and proud for many years now, and I’m not afraid to say it in real life or online. This article is about a different kind of coming out. It is about a subject that has easily caused me more shame and discrimination than my sexuality. Being a queer person has its challenges, but most people I encounter don’t have an automatically negative opinion about me based on it. Also, they usually don’t know about it until I tell them. This other issue undeniably causes an immediate adverse reaction to me, as soon as people see me, and it happens literally on a daily basis.

I, Rebecca Shaw am… a fat person. *crowd gasps, delicate lady faints*

I don’t have to come out as fat on a day-to-day basis, because you can tell by pointing your beautiful eyeballs in my direction. However, if you are one of the people that so far mostly know (and no doubt ADORE) me from the Internet, you may not have realised. I’ve mentioned it in various places, but it’s not something I have broadcast by taking out a full (figure)-page newspaper ad or informing the population of Australia via carrier (delicious roasted) pigeon.

Katie J. M. Baker writes at Dissent, “Cockblocked by Redistribution: A Pick-up Artist in Denmark*trigger warning for rape and PUA*:

Fans of the travel writer will be disappointed that “pussy literally goes into hibernation” in this “mostly pacifist nanny state,” where the social programs rank among the best in the world. Roosh’s initial admiration for those resources is almost charming, if you’re able to momentarily forget that this is a man who considers devirginizing teenagers a sport.

“A Danish person has no idea what it feels like to not have medical care or free access to university education,” an awed Roosh reports. “They have no fear of becoming homeless or permanently jobless. The government’s soothing hand will catch everyone as they fall. To an American like myself, brainwashed to believe that you need to earn things like basic health care or education by working your ass off, it was quite a shock.”

Shadowspar writes, “The Epistemological Twilight Zone*trigger warning – rape*

It’s interesting1 how the second a woman starts talking about being raped, or assaulted, or harassed, she gets put into a kind of Epistemological Twilight Zone, innit?

Here’s what I mean.

When someone tells you about something they’ve seen or done, we usually extend them a measure of credit and take what they have said at face value. We grant that their statements about their own firsthand experience are good-faith expressions of the truth as they have observed it. This is called “not being an asshole”.

The alternative is to treat this person’s experiences as expressions of opinion; assertions; mere façades that may or may not objectively exist — and this being despite our likely lack of any concrete evidence that would put these statements into doubt.

Meg Barker at Rewriting the Rules writes, “DIVA article on non-binary gender“:

Later on it felt good to share stories about the confusion and discomfort we’d received from department store staff when shopping for clothes. The group I hung out with included transmasculine folk, butch women, and people who identified as non-binary.

This latter term is one which I increasingly relate to myself. So what is it like if neither of the accepted gender labels fit?

DIVA spoke to several non-binary people, as well as to professionals who work across the gender spectrum, to find out how it is to occupy a place outside the binary. The main message is that, like bisexual or gay people, non-binary people are ordinary folk who should be treated with the same respect as anybody, rather than as some kind of special case.

 

Related Posts:

Welcome to the 65th Down Under Feminist Carnival!

Hello and welcome to the September 2013 edition of the Down Under Feminist Carnival.  Big thanks go to Chally for organising the DUFC (you can nominate to host it yourself here), and to Mary, Scarlett, Claire,  Jo, Chally and Kathryn for submitting posts.  This collection covers posts by Australian and New Zealander feminists written in the month of September.

Politics

Well Australia had the election we had to have in September, which means that with a new Government and a new Prime Minister, many posts were written.

No Place for Sheep wrote, “Why I can’t call Abbott a cunt“:

The cunt, pink, plump, shiny with the juices of desire, is a thing of exquisite beauty, hidden from view, shown only to the chosen one, repository of what is most astonishing in human sexuality. When I think of the cunt, the last association I make with it is, yes, you’ve guessed right, Tony Abbott.

No Place for Sheep also wrote, “Why I don’t care that there’s only one woman in cabinet.“:

It is, of course, shameful that in 2013 a first world country should be led by a man with such biologically determinist attitudes. I don’t believe for a minute there aren’t women in the LNP as worthy and capable as many of the men Abbott has chosen. However, I have no  sympathy and no respect for any of them, if they are content to stand silently by while their leader treats them with such contempt, simply because they have vaginas.

Orlando at Hoyden About Town writes, “Quick Link: Public Education On Principle“:

If anything Benedikt, probably knowing how furiously some parents of cherished, privately schooled offspring will condemn her anyway, overstates the drawbacks of her stance: “But it seems to me that if every single parent sent every single child to public school, public schools would improve. This would not happen immediately. It could take generations. Your children and grandchildren might get mediocre educations in the meantime, but it will be worth it, for the eventual common good.” I think if there were a concerted effort on the part of parents who have options to opt in to public school, the change would actually be pretty rapid, for all the reasons Benedikt goes on to detail.

The Koori Woman writes, “On what’s on my mind this week“:

It is no secret I am not a fan of Abbott. I find his ultra conservative views both revolting and incredibly dangerous for both Aboriginal people and all Australian women. His ‘daggy dad’ moments are sexism painted as chuckle worthy little mistakes instead of what they really are, alarm bells at a thousand decibels.

It is also no secret I am not a fan of Noel Pearsons empowered communities initiative which Abbott has flagged as the governance model he will use in various communities across Australia. At time of writing, the initiative has been slammed by leading Aboriginal activists ranging from Marianne Mackay to Wayne Wharton. Cape York is the ‘testing’ ground of the welfare reforms outlined in the initiative, so it’s incredibly telling that no less than eight mayors of the Cape York region itself have been scathing in their opposition to Pearsons vision.

The Koori Woman also wrote this month, “On the feminist politics of Abbotts front bench“:

Now the kerfuffle raised by feminists regarding Tony Abbot naming his front bench that includes only one woman has died down, let’s talk about the other glaringly obvious omission from Abbotts front bench that has received virtually no media space. Abbotts front bench is all white.

I’m not surprised media haven’t written on this. Because most mainstream media is white. They don’t notice their own default. Can I blame them? Yes. Yes I can.

Rachel at Musings of an Inappropriate Woman wrote, ““The people make the ultimate decision / The system says they always get it right…”“:

Maybe this stuff shouldn’t matter. Government is about governing, after all, and they mostly did fine on the policy side of things, if you come from a centre-left perspective. But politics is also about emotion, and the to-ing and fro-ing, the tantrums and willingness to throw each other under the bus, left them seeming ultimately untrustworthy. And all that means is that it is too simple to cast Labor as the good guys, and the Liberals as evil. There may not be good reasons to vote the Coalition in today, but there are good reasons to vote Labor out.

Marieke Hardy wrote, “I didn’t vote for this.“:

You’re right, Helen. It is shocking. I mean, who would have imagined that the man who said ‘I think it would be folly to expect that women will ever dominate or even approach equal representation in a large number of areas simply because their aptitudes, abilities and interests are different for physiological reasons’ would ever DREAM of putting together a cabinet of little pink sausages, proudly jostling for attention? Why, are we talking about the same devoted husband who leered at a team of teenage netballers during the campaign ‘A bit of body contact never hurt anyone’? That funny old ‘daggy dad’ who brought the house down by quipping ‘We have a bizarre double standard; a bizarre double standard in this country where some-one who kills a pregnant woman’s baby is guilty of murder, but a woman who aborts an unborn baby is simply exercising choice’?

IT SIMPLY DEFIES COMPREHENSION, DOESN’T IT HELEN?

Liz Barr at No Award wrote, “Follow ups, election day, WorldCon, links“:

I, for one, was quite troubled by the Liberals’ strategy of silencing their candidates of colour so as to avoid gaffes and difficult questions.  This was the case in my own electorate, where candidate Shilpa Hegde did not participate in any public forums or interviews with citizen journalists.  Nor was she seen out campaigning.

As a Commie leftie pinko, I should be glad to see the Liberals mis-step, even if they still win the election, but I think this is a pretty shitty approach.  It’s not enough to have people of colour as your candidates, you have to let them be candidates. Allegedly, or so I read in the mainstream press (probably a Fairfax paper, but I couldn’t tell you when or which one because I’ve been site-hopping to avoid their paywall), the strategy was conceived after Jaymes Diaz famously stuffed up an interview.  If they’re so worried about candidates looking stupid, though, they would have put a lid on Fiona Scott before she could tell the world that refugees cause traffic jams.  Funny how it’s only the non-white candidates who were told to shut up.

Queen of Thorns at Ideologically Impure writes, “Why the religious right should not have any credibility in discussions of morality“:

I am categorically saying we shouldn’t give a fuck what religious extremists have to say about society.  Their entire movement, and its assumption that a “return” to Good Wholesome Judeo-Christian Values will save our society, is in no position to pass judgement on anyone.

Relationships

Blue Milk wrote, “On being here“:

A friend tells me that she lies in bed awake at night frightened for my future. I know she means it kindly but I am hurt by her sense of hopelessness for me. I am alright, I say, I really am. I decide I shouldn’t tell her about the nights when the children are staying with their father and I sometimes sigh with pleasure in my empty house. And then there are the nights when I do not even stay home in my empty house.

Spilt Milk writes, “Love story“:

Most of my writing on this most precious of loves, this fervent and brilliant and life-changing love, has been private. To her I write all of my secret words. Whisper sweet everythings. Compose bare poetic couplets. And of course this is how it is, ought to be, with lovers.

There is still the desire to make open proclamations, though. And there is perhaps an imperative to share.

Chrys Stevenson at Gladly the Cross-Eyed Bear writes, “No point in being blunt“, the story of her grandfather and family, their lack of belief in a deity, and the good lives they lived:

My grandfather was an atheist. When he married my grandmother, he didn’t just take on his new bride – he also housed her widowed mother, her sister and her daughter and the baby left motherless when another sister died in childbirth. And did he moan and bitch about having all these family strays in his home? No! He accepted it with astounding generosity and an abundance of good humour.

Feminism

Blue Milk wrote, “Women have to be strategic about gender, the PM was no different“.

Ariane at Ariane’s Little World writes, “Living as the default“:

As a white middle class straight man, the standard discourse is about you. However, since you are the default, it doesn’t mention you explicitly. Most of the voices you hear, day in day out, represent you. But since you hear them day in day out, you don’t hear them at all any more. This is also true for white middle class women like me, on issues other than women’s issues (and even then – women’s issues are framed largely from my perspective).

As the default, you are defined by what you’re not. You don’t belong to any interesting culture (because you are surrounded by your culture – it’s forced down everyone’s throats, but you just don’t see it). You’re not gay (or bi, or trans*, or queer). You’re not disabled. You’re not a woman. All those people get a mention all the time. “Indigenous councils”, “gay minister”, “female politician”, “disability advocates”. Unless you are taught to see it, it never occurs to you that “marriage” means “straight marriage”, that “politician” means “male politician”, that “social values” means “white social values”, that “employee” means “able bodied employee”. Because you are the default. When no descriptor is added, we assume white, male, straight, cis, able bodied (and probably some other things too).

A guest posts at The Hand Mirror, “Guestie: Another Fine Myth” (I’m not sure who wrote it, if you do, please let me know in the comments and I’ll attribute correctly)

Orlando at Hoyden About Town posts, “Thursday Hoyden and Talk Like a Pirate Day Special: Ching Shih“:

After her husband, who ran a flourishing pirate crew already, died in 1807, Ching Shih took over the enterprise and made her pirate band into a force that the Chinese, British and Dutch navies could not curtail. By offering defeated crews the choice between suffering a gruesome death, or changing sides and joining her, she forged a fleet of around 1,500 ships, all under her ultimate command. By 1810 her notorious ‘Red Flag Fleet’ had amassed such a fortune, and had so severely pummelled all the soldiers and sailors, generals and peasant armies, sent by various authorities to try to shut her down, that she cheerfully accepted the amnesty for herself and her crew offered by the Chinese government. She divvied up the spoils and retired to the country where she lived to a ripe old age.

tigtog at Hoyden About Town posts, “Friday Hoydens: Lakota and Dakota Grandmothers vs Neo-Nazis“:

These women from the Standing Rock Indian Nation in North Dakota are only holding this Nazi flag up to the camera because they’re about to burn it, having captured it from public display on the property of a white supremacist in the nearby very small town of Leith, ND.

Orlando at Hoyden About Town also posted, “Friday Hoyden: Rosie Hackett“:

This month, Dublin City Council voted to name the new bridge over the river Liffey “Rosie Hackett Bridge”.

This was in response to a huge campaign from Dubliners, mostly women, who felt Rosie was due a decent and long-lasting public memorial. All of the 16 previously existing bridges in the city are named after men.

Amy Gray at Pesky Feminist wrote, “Do women without children face discrimination in the office?“:

It is illogical to argue one group of women suffer at the benefit of another. Women with children face real discrimination in the office – pregnancy discrimination, career discrimination. There are statistics and studies to show this. The Sexual Discrimination Commission is currently running an inquiry on the matter. Women without children face equal discrimination in a workforce disposed to trying to predict a woman’s fertility as though it were a ticking time bomb and blocking any chance at flexibility to develop themselves as she may choose.

It is in this fallacy that we miss the point: we’re not discriminated against because we do or don’t have children, we’re discriminated against because we’re women and have the temerity to seek flexibility from a system that is already opposed to our presence.

Kate Galloway at Curl wrote, “A sense of entitlement? The (gender) subtext of ‘lifters not leaners‘”:

Work – by which politicians and commentators mean paid work – may well be an important aspect of our social identity, but the argument of feminists is that paid work does not occur without unpaid work. Unpaid work is largely carried out by women. To characterise those who engage in unpaid work as ‘leaners’ misses the point of the structural disadvantage of women and fails to seek to remedy this.

These structural questions will not be helped by marginalising those who receive welfare support. Instead, the basis of distributive justice in our system needs recalibration. For example childcare tends to be positioned as a domestic issue rather than an economic need. This will keep primary carers of young children marginalised in the context of paid work. Reframing this issue would provide structural solutions that addressed the real needs of society and its paid workers.

Scarlett Harris at The Early Bird Catches the Worm writes, “Music: “Work, Bitch” as Feminist Anthem*.

Claire Shove at Sextracurricular Studies writes, “Why Gender-Specific Relationship Advice is almost always Terrible“:

As times have changed, so have the dominant attitudes in our relationship conduct literature, but some notable trends have persisted. The offering of relationship advice to a select audience based on gender is perhaps the most obvious, and as I see it, the most problematic of these. In the first place, this places all of the responsibility for romantic conduct and communication on one partner instead of acknowledging it as a mutual concern. Again, The Rules gives excellent examples of this behavior: included among the 35 rules are stipulations against initiating conversation with a man, answering his phone calls, meeting him more than once a week and ‘rushing into’ sex, i.e., anything which would suggest mutual attraction[3]. This anti-feminist manifesto places all of the responsibility for initiating and maintaining a connection onto the man, under the false assumption that returning the affections of a suitor will make a woman seem easier to ‘get’ and therefore less valuable.

Stephanie at No Award wrote, “book pusher (not a white cis dude edition)“:

What are the books that you always recommend to people, that you always want people to love, that you shove at people and wave your hands about and reread constantly? Only rule: the author cannot be a cis white dude. Trans white dude, fine. Cis asian dude, fine. Ladies, all fine. Author doesn’t conform to your gender binary? All good.

Our bodies

Celeste Liddle at Rantings of an Aboriginal Feminist wrote, “On being a feminist with period pain“:

So if it is so damn normal and average and stuff, why is it so hard to talk about? Why is it that this hardcore black feminist, when confronted with pain and depleted energy as a result, finds it so difficult to say “I think my uterus is actually twisting itself into an infinity symbol in four different directions and I simply need to rest”? I mean it is that normal for me that, generally speaking, most months I will need a day away from society or work to rest, and it has always been that way. I hate to say it, but in the quest to be the all-conquering feminist ready to take on the world, I think I unfortunately sometimes see my own body’s needs as a sign of weakness and a thing to be overcome. And that, quite frankly, is ridiculous.

Kathryn Daly at A Little Bit of Life wrote, “The body and our worth“:

So the tipping point for me has been that I am really fucking sick of people commenting on my body. Not just the obscene bullshit that men offer when a woman is walking in public spaces (which, I might add, has a whole post of its own when I stop wanting to stab someone each time I try to think about the issue), but also the uninvited commentary from every other source.

It’s the people who tell me I am looking too thin. My best friend is about ready to attack the next person who says this to me: ‘All the shit you have going on in your life and people who are meant to be your friends manage to find something bad to say to you? Tell them to, “Get fucked”’.

Race and racism

Celeste Liddle at Rantings of an Aboriginal Feminist wrote, “Andrew Bolt: The “new racism” is so last season!“:

Apart from his extraordinarily lazy focus on the left in his analysis, I have but one thing to say: Congratulations Bolta, you’ve discovered “structural racism”! Have a biscuit, lad. Some of us have been talking about this for a while, and the thing is, it’s not exactly “new”. Nope, the discussions have been going on for a long time now, but we’re glad you’ve joined us! The left and the right may talk about structural racism and its manifestations in different ways as you have “amply” shown us, but it doesn’t mean that we are not talking about the same thing. Yes, the idea that a person may end up being oppressed and have their agency diminished by structural and social forces, even if there is some argument over what those forces might be, is nothing new at all.

stargazer writes at The Hand Mirror, “can’t win” about the recent winner of the Miss America Pagent:

yes, the last one really grates with me, because i’m always struggling against the “foreigner” label myself.  the many little & big ways that certain people need to make sure i understand that i don’t belong here, don’t deserve to have the same things as everyone else, should be grateful just to be allowed to exist in this space and place.  yes, it grates.

and i know that this group of people don’t represent a whole country, they don’t even represent a majority.  but they are the vocal minority that can make for a hostile environment.  they cause fear, they have an impact that is far greater than their number.  this ugly end of racism is the tip of the iceberg, the bits we can see clearly but there is so much more that is insidious and not always so plainly obvious, therefore much harder to fight.

Hannah Paige wrote a great poem, “poem – I want you to promise

Stephanie at No Award wrote, “indigenous literacy day and getting caught reading“:

Today is Indigenous Literacy Day! This is great because it means we are talking about Indigenous Literacy! This is bad because Australia, it means we still need to talk about Indigenous Literacy.

There is a huge gap in English literacy rates between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in Australia. A disgustingly enormous, we should feel ashamed of ourselves gap. By year 3, the gap in reading, writing and numeracy is already significant, and by the age of 15, “more than one-third of Australia’s Indigenous students ‘do not have the adequate skills and knowledge in reading literacy to meet real-life challenges and may well be disadvantaged in their lives beyond school’.” MORE THAN ONE THIRD. That is so uncool I cannot even. But Indigenous Australians should just pull themselves up by their bootstraps and Australia is totally not racist, amirite?

LGBTIQ issues, stories and experiences

Spilt Milk writes, “Please, won’t somebody think of the children?“:

I haven’t told her that I couldn’t legally marry my partner. Shattering her fragile ignorance of the extent of the bigotry her family faces would break my heart. Soon enough someone will tell her that Mama and Ima can’t be married like most of the other parents and step-parents she knows. Like all kids, she has an easily mobilised outrage switch: I expect she’ll rail against the injustice. But she’ll also have the sensation that I feel every time my relationship is devalued or erased or vilified. The sensation of a thousand tiny voices whispering ‘you are less than us.’

Reproductive Justice

AlisonM at The Hand Mirror writes a dual post (two for the price of one) called, “Ready, Set, Go: The Prochoice Highway“:

The move toward reproductive justice and away from “choice” is a hotly debated one, and you’ll notice that with its title, the Highway has a bit of a dollar each way. But the more I read about reproductive justice, which has been spearheaded by women of colour, the more I like the way it allows the discussion to be made a lot broader. (A friend pointed me toward a great publication by the US group Asian Communities for Reproductive Justice on this issue. Pdf warning: This link is to a pdf. And another good resource is Sister Song: Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective) Just last weekend, for example, I met up with a group of people wanting to do some work around what I’ll loosely call the policing and criminalisation of pregnancy, of pregnant bodies, of pregnant women. When you start looking at what’s going on it turns out it’s going on everywhere: in the public square, in medicine, in the judiciary, in state agencies, in legislation aimed at preventing child abuse, the list is long and a bit depressing. (I wrote a bit about the issue a while ago in Werewolf and here about a related “careless driving” case.)

Mary at Hoyden About Town wrote, “Fetal personhood (“Zoe’s Law”) before NSW Parliament“:

The stated intent of the bill is to allow separate prosecution of injury to a fetus, following the death of Zoe Donegan (stillborn at 32 weeks gestation) in 2009 after Zoe’s mother Brodie was hit by a van driven by Justine Hampson. Hampson was convicted of grevious bodily harm with regards to Brodie, but not with injuring Zoe or causing Zoe’s death.

However, the bill has been introduced by an anti-abortion politician, and there are grave concerns about its potential interpretation, particularly “an unborn child is taken to be a living person”

Queen of Thorns at Ideologically Impure wrote, “The “hard questions” of the antichoice movement“:

The real point is this:  Pro Life New Zealand want to use over-simplified, judgemental arguments to shame pregnant people into not having abortions.  Note the question about sexual assault, and “isn’t abortion the best solution” – as though prochoice activists are out there insisting that every pregnancy resulting from assault be aborted.  Note the first question is about disability – as though these religious extremists give a fuck about challenging society’s ableism once you’re out of the womb.

Lee Rhiannon writes at New Matilda, “Abortion Is No Sleeper Issue“:

The problem was not that the then PM spoke publicly on abortion. The problem was that there was not a strong public voice backing her in what was a historic and necessary speech. Necessary because the push is on from some quarters in Australia to wind back the clock on women’s rights to the full range of sexual and reproductive health procedures. Abortion is still covered by the Crimes Act in some parts of Australia.

Jacki Brown at fuckability: disability, sex & our revolution! writes, “Disability feminism & the selective abortion of disabled foetuses“:

Disability eugenics is an issue at the intersection of feminist discourses- the right to body autonomy-and disability discourses regarding the value of a non-normative body/mind and living as an act of resistance to a social discourse which says ‘’better off dead then disabled’’. The choice to abort is framed as a medical one when it also has social, political and ethical implications. As a disability feminist my resistance to selective abortion procedures steams from its value judgment on our lives, it positions us a flawed and wrong and it seeks to disempower us further by framing us an unwanted burden, as inhabiting a life not worth living.

I wrote a post called, “Let’s talk about abortion – again“:

The most telling part of the Pope’s comments on abortion is that the people who are pregnant aren’t even mentioned.  There is lots of talk about babies and children (despite the fact that it’s not until they are born that they are babies or children), and those babies or children having Jesus’s face (which is just a bit creepy), but nothing about the people whose lives may be in danger or whose ability to manage a pregnancy and the next 18 years of raising a child is being questioned by them.  It’s telling, it says “The Catholic Church cares more about babies than it does about the people whose body they incubate in, who will then spend the next 18 years or so raising, feeding, and attempting to afford them”.

Sex Work and sex workers

Gaayathri writes at A Human Story, “Brothel Visitors Outed Online By Council Candidate… | Stuff.co.nz“:

As I can see it, Hawker seems to think he can increase his standing in the community by shaming sex workers and the men (or women) that use their services. He seems to be enraged by the fact that the people he sees patronising this place of business appear to be wealthy business men. He seems to think he has some sort of moral higher ground. I don’t buy it.  Hawker does not care about the impact his actions may have on the sex workers who count on their clientele to earn their living. I guess in his mind he is doing them a favour.

Disability

Jackie Brown at fuckability: disability, sex & our revolution! writes, ““Are you a paraplegic?”“:

Perhaps they feel asking ‘the poor little cripple what happened’ is their good deed for the day; as one woman informed me ‘‘you need to talk about it, you need to tell me what happened, it’s good for you’’. She assumed that I possessed some tragic story, and that it must be at all times on the tip of my tongue when in fact if I had had some kind of accident/trauma it would be something I would get support to process with trained health professionals, not curious strangers on the street. No, this was not the 1st time I have been expected to divulge my disability in the street to a passing stranger but it was the 1st time I was abused for refusing to do so and called “cuckoo”’ and “crazy’’ for saying I am happy the way I am.

Xanthe Coward writes at Meanjin, “All The Women Are Tired Here“:

There’s a raging debate amongst those who suffer from the condition, their doctors and academics, over the name Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS). Personally, I don’t care what they call it; I’m just relieved to have been diagnosed. I was so tired all the time. And there it is. The problem people have with the name of the illness is that it indicates a constant state of exhaustion. My experience with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is exactly that—a constant state of exhaustion—but I also suffered from a host of other symptoms, for which there didn’t seem to be an explanation. No one knew what was wrong with me, least of all me. Family members and friends assumed I was depressed and worn out from a move inland.

Violence *Trigger warning for posts in this section*

Coley at Tangerina writes, “Help get sexual violence services properly funded. Finally. Please.“:

No matter how vital an organisation is, if the climate in which it operates doesn’t value or support the work it does – it will die. Our Government has created a hostile environment for many community not-for-profit agencies. We live under an administration that feels competition is a good thing, not just in the private sector, but in community service provision.

While excellence in service should always be strived for, the way to achieve this is not to pit tiny, often volunteer-run organisations against each other for laughable sums of money. Money that they have to annually re-apply for at great expense of their already stretched resources. Money that makes organisations scared to speak out against Government initiatives for fear of being reprimanded through the loss of their funding.

Claire Shove at Sextracurricular Studies writes, “How Popular Music Contributes to Sexist and Rape Tolerant Attitudes“:

If they were in fact going for irony, this seems a very roundabout way of doing it. Rather than assuming the audience would see power in the way the women looked directly at the camera, couldn’t Martel have instructed them to raise their eyebrows or roll their eyes? If they were supposed to be empowered, why not make that more obvious? Fuck it, why not have the women fully dressed, in a club, with the same suited men hitting on them and striking out?

The most likely answer, in my opinion, isn’t that Martel and Thicke thought their super subtle irony would be safely understood by the general audience. It’s that they didn’t think about it much at all. Ultimately, even if all the participants in the creative process had the same tongue-in-cheek intentions for it, which it doesn’t seem like they did, it fails as satire because the majority of the viewers didn’t get the so-called joke. You don’t make a comment about degrading women by continuing to degrade women.

 

The Sixty-Sixth Edition of the Down Under Feminist Carnival is planned for 5 November, 2013 and will be hosted by Steph and Liz at No Award.  Submissions to yiduiqie [at] gmail [dot] com for those who can’t access the blogcarnival submissions form.

Related Posts:

Post mid-winter linkspam – the summer is coming (July 2013)

So another month passes, and we’re closer to the warmer weather.  It’s funny how I look forward to the cooler weather in summer, and the warmer weather in winter.  Anyway, have some amazing links that I’ve found over the past month.

First an extract from a book called, “Bi: Notes for a Bisexual Revolution” by Shiri Eisner, hosted at Altnet:

Oddly enough, the issue of biphobia, or monosexism, is one of the most hotly contested territories in bisexual politics, and certainly one of the least understood. A term much-feared and slightly frowned upon, biphobia has often been dismissed even by the most avid bisexual scholars and activists. Some insinuate that bisexuals don’t actually suffer oppression that is separate from homophobia or lesbophobia. In fact, very often, simply raising the issue of biphobia (in any setting) is perceived as an affront to gay and lesbian politics and is ridiculed, often with the ubiquitous “bisexuals are privileged” argument.

Before I refute the argument that bisexuals don’t suffer from a unique type of oppression (biphobia), let’s examine where this argument places bisexuality and bisexual people: To look at the first part of this argument, we will soon discover the old and familiar “bisexuality doesn’t exist” trope. To claim that bisexuals do not experience oppression differently from gays or lesbians is to subsume bisexual experience into homosexuality, thus eliminating its unique existence. For if no unique bisexual experience is to be found, then certainly the category of bisexuality itself is null. The second half of the argument (“privilege”) acknowledges the existence of bisexuality, but connects it with the notion of privilege and thus oppressor status, again nullifying the unique oppression that bisexuals experience and the need for specific attention to it. In this way, bisexuality is here spoken about on two levels: first as a nonexistent other, and second as an oppressor (presumably of gays and lesbians). The notion that bisexuals are only oppressed as a result of homophobia and lesbophobia erases the need for a unique bisexual liberation struggle and places bisexuals as “halfway” add-ons to the gay and lesbian movement.

Hida Vilora at Advocate writes, “Op-ed: Intersex, the Final Coming-Out Frontier“:

Last night, before my OK Cupid-induced outing, I realized I was going to have to come out again, but not in the usual way. I’d found my date in a “girls who like girls” online search, so I obviously didn’t need to tell her I’m queer. But if I wanted to be able to talk about my work, as one usually does on first dates, I did need to come out as intersex.

Like most people, she’d heard the word, but didn’t know exactly what it meant. Just imagine that, if you will. Coming out as L,G,B, or T can be bad enough sometimes, but at least people know what it is!

Ben Pobjie wrote at The Guardian, “Australia, let’s talk about manners“:

People will protest that Sattler wasn’t being sexist, because every time someone is sexist in public people protest that they weren’t being sexist. You could ask these people to reel off the number of times that previous prime ministers were asked if their wives were lesbians: in fact you could ask them to specify those occasions on which previous prime ministers were quizzed on any aspect of their wives’ sex lives at all; but they’d be unlikely to take the point, because they are not very bright.

But I understand the urge to deny that sexism is happening, because I’m a man and I hate talking about sexism: it makes me feel guilty and self-conscious. It is, frankly, awkward.

But that’s OK: let’s not talk about sexism. Let’s talk about manners. Let’s talk about the way you talk to another human being. In this case, as it so happened, the other human being was the prime minister of Australia, who you had invited onto your radio show for a serious interview. But even leaving all that aside, let us consider, when you are having a conversation with somebody, how do you talk to them?

Renee Lupica writes at The Hairpin, “Six Fairy Tales for the Modern Woman“:

I.

Once upon a time a woman never got married, but had many fulfilling relationships, a job that kept her comfortable, an apartment that she got to decorate just for her, and hobbies that stimulated her mind.

The End.

Zubeida Malik at the BBC writes, “Haifa al Mansour becomes first female Saudi director“:

Haifa al Mansour has made a film – titled Wadjda – that has received critical acclaim around the world but cannot actually be shown in Saudi Arabia because there are no cinemas and few films are given a public showing.

After al Mansour released three short films as well as an award-winning documentary, the thing that she had still not done – nor for that matter had anyone else in Saudi Arabia – was direct a feature length film.

Sandi Toksvig at The Guardian writes, “Sandi Toksvig’s top 10 unsung heroines“:

Nightingale is well known in history as the Lady with the Lamp but this was actually a phrase invented by a Times journalist. The men of the Crimean actually called her the Lady With the Hammer because she was quite happy to break into supply rooms if her patients needed something.

Pew Research Social & Demographic Trends provides, “A Survey of LGBT Americans“:

The survey finds that 12 is the median age at which lesbian, gay and bisexual adults first felt they might be something other than heterosexual or straight. For those who say they now know for sure that they are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, that realization came at a median age of 17.

Four-in-ten respondents to the Pew Research Center survey identify themselves as bisexual. Gay men are 36% of the sample, followed by lesbians (19%) and transgender adults (5%).2 While these shares are consistent with findings from other surveys of the LGBT population, they should be treated with caution.3 There are many challenges in estimating the size and composition of the LGBT population, starting with the question of whether to use a definition based solely on self-identification (the approach taken in this report) or whether to also include measures of sexual attraction and sexual behavior.

Luke Pearson at @Aboriginaloz Blog writes, “An Open Letter To People Who Feel They Are Excluded Just For Being White.”:

I hate to be the one to tell it to you, but it isn’t ‘just’ because you are white. It isn’t ‘reverse racism’. Our supposed unfair condemnation of white people isn’t a viable excuse for your continual, wilful and blatantly unapologetic perpetuation of racist stereotypes. Also, the fact that you might have identified the same phenomenon in other groups not based on race, say disability advocates, gay marriage advocates, or feminists, doesn’t meant your observations aren’t still racist. If I say that Muslims and people with autism are violent, that doesn’t mean I am not making a racist comment. It just means I’m also insulting people with autism. It doesn’t detract from the inappropriate nature of my comment, it adds to it with another form of discrimination.

Now, just to qualify, and I know this is going to confuse a lot of you but here we go… being ‘white’ isn’t the sole reason you get excluded from these dialogues, or from expressing your opinion without receiving an overwhelmingly consistent negative response; but it is a factor, just not the disqualifying factor which you claim it to be.

Ta-Nehisi Coates at The Atlantic writes, “A Rising Tide Lifts All Yachts“:

I also pointed to sociologist John Logan’s research which points out that, on average, affluent blacks tend to live in neighborhoods with poorer resources than most poor whites. To understand this you must get that African Americans are the most segregated group in American history. Right now, at this very moment, the dissimilarity index — the means by which we measure segregation — is at the lowest point it’s been in a century. Despite that, African Americans are still highly segregated.

To understand the profound consequences of segregation, consider this study by sociologist Patrick Sharkey — “Neighborhoods and The Mobility Gap” — which looks at how children fare when exposed to poverty. The answer, of course, is not well. Instead of trying to do a one-to-one match of African Americans and whites via income or wealth, the study considers African Americans and whites within the neighborhoods in which they live. The conclusions are generally not surprising:

Among children born from 1955 through 1970, only 4 percent of whites were raised in neighborhoods with at least 20 percent poverty, compared to 62 percent of blacks. Three out of four white children were raised in neighborhoods with less than 10 percent poverty, compared to just 9 percent of blacks. Even more astonishingly, essentially no white children were raised in neighborhoods with at least 30 percent poverty, but three in ten blacks were.And more shockingly still, almost half (49 percent) of black children with family income in the top three quintiles lived in neighborhoods with at least 20 percent poverty, compared to only one percent of white children in those quintiles. These figures reveal that black children born from the mid 1950s to 1970 were surrounded by poverty to a degree that was virtually nonexistent for whites.

This degree of racial inequality is not a remnant of the past. Two out of three black children born from 1985 through 2000 have been raised in neighborhoods with at least 20 percent poverty, compared to just 6 percent of whites. Only one out of ten blacks in the current generation has been raised in a neighborhood with less than 10 percent poverty, compared to six out of ten whites. Even today, thirty percent of black children experience a level of neighborhood poverty — a rate of 30 percent or more — unknown among white children.

tithenai at Voices on the Midnight Air writes, “Calling for the Expulsion of a SFWA Member“:

On Wednesday I called for the expulsion of Theodore Beale, aka Vox Day, from SFWA. The reasons and proposed methodology are detailed in the link. In brief, he very obviously, knowingly, and deliberately broke the rules over what kind of posts could be tagged for inclusion in SFWA’s promotional Twitter feed by posting a racist attack on N. K. Jemisin. This is not a one-time occurence, but part of a pattern of behaviour that shows malicious contempt for the organization as a whole.

While the vast majority of responses — through pingbacks on the post, in e-mail, over Twitter — have been positive and supportive, over the last few days I have seen the following in various places on the internet:

– people refusing to acknowledge that there was anything racist or misogynistic about Beale’s post
– people wringing their hands over how we shouldn’t ban people from organizations for their opinions (when that is not the argument I am making)
– people saying we should just ignore him — that banning him from the Twitter feed is enough of a reprimand
– people being more outraged at the idea that I would call Beale’s post racist than at the fact that he called a black woman “an ignorant half-savage” who couldn’t possibly be “fully civilized” on account of her ethnic heritage.

I have also seen people belligerently questioning or deriding my command of the English language, my religion, my ethnicity, and my nationality, as a consequence of having made that post.

Michael Taylor at The Australian Independent Media Network writes, “Feel free to speak about whatever I want you to“:

The parties that are advocating relaxation to the freedom of speech laws, nay, hysterically demanding it, are the ones who are in reality practicing the most rabid suppression of it. They want the freedom to be an asshole whilst limiting free speech on those who hold opposing views (to them). You’ll be able to racially vilify or abuse anyone whatsoever, but you will be silenced if any form of dissent, no matter how trivial, is directed towards them.

Lee & Low Books writes, “Why Hasn’t the Number of Multicultural Books Increased In Eighteen Years?“:

Since LEE & LOW BOOKS was founded in 1991 we have monitored the number of multicultural children’s books published each year through the Cooperative Children’s Book Center’s statistics. Our hope has always been that with all of our efforts and dedication to publishing multicultural books for more than twenty years, we must have made a difference. Surprisingly, the needle has not moved. Despite census data that shows 37% of the US population consists of people of color, children’s book publishing has not kept pace. We asked academics, authors, librarians, educators, and reviewers if they could put their fingers on the reason why the number of diverse books has not increased.

*Trigger warning for discussion and depiction of sexual assault* At Georgia Weidman’s Security Blog, she writes, “Guess You Thought I Was Someone To Mess With“:

This is the last thing I have to say about all this. My duty is done. I don’t want to be the poster girl for infosec feminism. I want to be a researcher, and a trainer, and a speaker, and an icon. There’s a bad guy out there who has no remorse. I have reason to believe he was behaved badly towards women before at conferences and will do it again. The Polish legal system, while they have a report refused to take any action on the grounds that I had no proof, I had been drinking, etc. The US Consulate in Poland also has a record of it. But that’s it; it’s over and done with. I gave a talk the next day, I taught a class the next week. You aren’t going to get rid of me that easily, and I’m not going to stop expressing myself because someone can’t behave. If I want to show you my “I Love Joe McCray” sharpie tattoo on stage, I’m going to do it. If I want to say something silly on Twitter that could be construed as sexual I’m going to say it. The last thing I’m going to do is stop being myself because of this. Then he wins. And he didn’t win. People have offered to beat him up for me. I already did that. I’m not asking anybody to do anything for me, I’m asking you to do something for the next girl. This guy is dangerous. I was lucky. She might not be.

Larissa Behrendt at The Guardian writes, “Aboriginal humour: ‘the flip side of tragedy is comedy’“. (I’m particularly linking to this article because it has Babakiueria embedded in it, a film everyone should watch):

This experience of looking at the funny side through adversity is not unique. Sean Choolburra was a former dancer who turned his hand at being funny. He has worked as a stand up comedian for just over a decade, and now is the best known Aboriginal comedian. His parents grew up on Palm Island – a place where curfews were imposed, and where segregation thrived. A leprosy colony was built on the next island. “But you wouldn’t know it was tragic or horrific”, he says, “my mum, dad and grandparents would tell all these funny yarns over tea and dampers. Hearing all these, would have thought they had the greatest lives growing up. But you got the sense that they wouldn’t have survived without our sense of humour.”

“The flip side of tragedy is comedy,” adds Aboriginal stand up comedian Kevin Kropinyeri. “We have had to learn to look at our situation. We never had much on the mission without. My nana would spend three month periods in gaol for being off the mission without papers. Laughter is healing and is a way of coping with life.”

Barbara Shaw at New Matilda writes, “The NT Intervention – Six Years On“:

They said the Intervention was about stopping children from being abused, that it was going to stop the drinking and domestic violence. But all I have seen is racism and disempowerment of our people. It’s the old assimilation policy back again, to control how we live. The government and many non-Aboriginal NGOs have taken over the assets and responsibilities of our organisations, both in the major town centres and remote communities forcing us to comply with their policies that take no account of Aboriginal culture and our obligations.

Take income management, which I have been on for five and a half years. I ran for parliament in 2010 and outpolled both Labor and Liberal candidates in Central Australian communities. I have represented my people at the United Nations. But the Government says I can’t manage my money. On their own estimations of $6000 to 8000 per person per year administrative cost for income management, the government has spent more than $30,000 dollars just to control my small income.

This system has made it much harder for us to share and care for each other. I used to run an unofficial safe house here at Mt Nancy town camp. I’d get money off all the parents every week. If there was drinking and fighting and the kids needed somewhere to be, they knew they were safe here at “Big Mamma’s” house and that I could buy meals for them. No one has the cash to chuck in any more. The Government has refused to fund a community centre here on our town camp.

Through the looking glass writes, “Modernity can be hard work: On Mansplaining“:

The tensions around mansplaining also reflect hang-ups we have dealing with expertise in this world of specialisms we’ve made for ourselves. I think one of the reasons it’s sparked recently, especially around social media, is because we increasingly bump into expertise without much context, and as a result see our prejudices laid out quite clearly. We can be shocked to see someone we didn’t know holding a confident opinion in 140 characters or a simple independent blog. WHAT DO THEY KNOW ANYWAY? Oh, quite a lot actually. I didn’t realise that. Whoops. Or, more often maybe, we discover that this new person knows about the world in a slightly different way from us, one we might disagree with but can still learn from.

Even before the emergence of the web the various silos of expertise were causing cultural tensions. We have a society increasingly fractured by specialists. This is often a good thing. Someone can spend time concentrating on knowing loads about, for example, biodiversity and bees thus freeing up someone else to be an expert in sewage management, brain surgery, 15th century art, Russian cartoons of the 1970s, whatever bit of the world we want to dig into. But then how can the bee expert talk to the rest of us? Or the polar bear geneticist learn from the poet? How do we know how or if to trust the brain surgeon? Modernity can be hard work.

Hanna White at Bitch Media writes, “The Feminism of Hayao Miyazaki and Spirited Away“:

In many Hollywood films, narratives are built around the simplistic idea of good versus evil: “good guys” kill off “bad guys” who are devils through and through. In contrast, the flowing narrative structure of Miyazaki’s films allow for a lot of flexibility in the roles played by heroes and villains. Most of the time, the hero or heroine’s journey does not center on the need to violently defeat an ultimate villain. Take Spirited Away. In the film, a young girl named Chihiro slips into a magical alternate reality where her parents are turned into pigs. Chihiro does face some enemies on her quest to rescue her parents and escape back to the human world, including the ghost No-Face and a witch named Yubaba. But she surpasses them by using her cleverness and simple bravery, not physical force. Along the way, No-Face becomes her friend and Yubaba shows she’s not pure evil.

Clementine Ford at ABC’s The Drum writes, “Women’s equality a global battleground“:

The proponents of imperial feminism can be roughly split into two groups. The first uses accusations of misdirected political activism to cover up the fact that they don’t really care about women’s liberation. Feminism in the West annoys them, because it challenges the restrictive ideas of femininity that either support their own privilege (for men) or provide provisional access to it (for women). Directing feminists to focus on women who suffer ‘real’ oppression doesn’t just belie a casual racism, it also pretty clearly reveals that these people consider women’s suffering a problem for women alone to solve and for them to exploit when they feel like it.

The oft expressed support for women’s rights in say, the Middle East, is less about caring for human beings than it is about gaining a self-satisfied feeling of superiority over the men in these cultures, all of whom are gleefully reduced to brutish, racist parodies of the unreconstructed savage. If this weren’t the case, these loudmouthed Western sots would be actively doing something themselves to help women in these societies instead of constantly looking for ways to justify a disgust for the struggle of the women in their own.

Christian McCrea writes, “8.7% Is Proof of a Problem“:

As people leave high school, they search for courses in various systems under different terms. “Games” is a search term used by 11,000 Victorian students each year as they determine their applications. Eleven thousand. Each year. We need to stop talking about a lack of jobs and start talking about people taking a serious interest in a craft. The ABS says there’s less than 600 salaries in games and 11,000 young people a year are making a choice about what they want to do.

Where those young people search and what changes their mind is a deeply personal process. Casting tertiary games courses purely as an “information technology” category is going to gender the outcome of those choices because all of these terms are often gendered. The language each course guide includes is often gendered. The websites of the Universities and private games colleges (some of which feature CG women) are often gendered.

When a games course in the UK, Europe, America, New Zealand, Australia is described as design and not IT, the gender ratios alter significantly. The change in gender ratios in game degrees is so significant, it is a case study for internal University research. This has implications for what is in the course being described. That goes without saying.

James Schlarmann writes at The Political Garbage Chute, “If 200 Bigots Have a Tantrum, Does Anyone Care?“:

This “Natural Moral Law” argument that anti-equality people like to make — that it’s just not natural to be in a sexual relationship that cannot procreate — is absolutely no different than what segregationists argued in the courts. “Your honor, God just made us this way.” It’s the laziest fucking argument you can make because all you have to do is point to something you can’t prove, can’t be challenged because it can’t be proved, and ultimately trumps everything with its built-in near automatic histrionics and fireworks. As soon you invoke God you’re basically saying that intolerance and hatred are the normative behaviors, not acceptance, compassion and non-judgment. They flip the script on us, and ultimately on themselves. In this twisted version of reality, those of us who want to end the intolerance become the intolerant ones.

It’s like they never matured in their intellect past fifth grade. They’re basically operating from a place where it’s Opposite Day every day. You remember Opposite Day, don’t you? It’s the day when you were in fifth grade where you’d bust your friends chops by saying, “Hey, I like your shirt, Bob!” Bob thanks you for the compliment and you cut him off saying, “Oh, I forgot to say, it’s Opposite Day. Also, you’re very smart and smell great.” That is the same exact mentality of “Actually, God wants us to hate the gays. So when you don’t hate the gays, and hate us instead, you actually hate God. Way to hate God, dick.”

*trigger warning for online harassment* Clementine Ford at Daily Life writes, “It’s considered a weakness to be a woman in Australia“:

It would be rare to find a woman who hadn’t endured some kind of ridicule for stepping out of line. When the market dictates that a woman’s value is primarily attached to her looks and deferential behaviour, it’s the threat of sexually degrading insults that help to keep her in check. How many of us have weathered the experience of a man calling us ugly or fat, simply because we disagreed with him or didn’t want to entertain his attentions? How many of us bristle when a carload of rowdy men drives past, preparing ourselves for either inevitable demands that we show them our tits or unasked for comments on the paucity of our looks and knowing that if we don’t acquiesce to such an invasion of our personal space then the consequences for our self esteem will be much worse?

As I write this, an anonymous stranger is bombarding me with messages calling me “a stupid cu*t” who needs to “curl up and die”. “What have I done to deserve this shrieking harpy bitch?” he asks, as if it is me who’s wandered up to his house to scream random insults through his window. “How come all feminists are ugly?” he wonders aloud. “Do they become feminists after being constantly rejected by men?”

Celeste Liddle writes at Daily Life, “‘How black is he?’“:

Mum comes from a long line of brewery workers, boot clickers, tradies, cricket players and home-makers. So when my mother met my Arrernte-boy-from-Alice-Springs father and decided to get married and have four children, she not only upset the apple cart somewhat, she also came to know racism in a way she hadn’t known it existed before and, at times, it must have been heartbreaking.

My mother married my father in the 1970s just years after the Referendum recognised Aboriginal people as humans. She was told my father would “only get darker as he gets older” and was frequently asked, “how black is he?”. Despite all this my parents are still happily together today, 37 years later.

Jane Caro writes at The Guardian, “Julia Gillard is a flawed human being. But she wasn’t allowed to be one“:

Gillard’s problem is that she, like all the rest us, is just a flawed human being. Despite our desire for messiahs, if we’re honest or – dare I say – grown up, it’s the best we can ever get in our leaders. It is my observation, however, after a lifetime spent watching, studying and writing about women and power, that the problem for female leaders is that we are still not yet ready to give them the space to be merely human. We allow them an either/or position only. They can either be inspirational and amazing or terrible, dreadful, the worst we’ve ever had. For women, the difficulty is that there is no middle ground. If you get to the top you better prove you deserve to be there, girlie.

There is still a hint of the usurper around a woman who reaches the top. This works in both positive and negative ways. Difference both repels and attracts. Even those of us who pride ourselves on being “gender blind” greeted the idea of our first female prime minister with an excitement and anticipation that would not ordinarily accompany one of the usual suspects. And it’s not just women leaders who experience this euphoria. President Obama was also burdened by a level of public expectation that could not possibly be met. I suppose we recognise that the degree of difficulty for an outsider is much higher, so we feel that perhaps these people are going to be a bit special. By paying such leaders this compliment, we also inadvertently raise the bar too high.

*trigger warning for harassment* Steven Wink writes, “An E3 Teachable Moment“:

Early in the anti-drunk driving movement, campaigns focused on victims. The tragedies caused by drunk drivers, the stories of ruined lives. To their surprise, they found that sad stories weren’t fixing the problem. The powerful idea that turned the tide was “Friends don’t let friends drive drunk.” Take your friend’s keys away, call them a cab, appoint a designated driver at the start of the night. Take responsibility. These things were about changing the culture that abetted drunk driving, and making the observers – not the drunk drivers – the key to the solution.

When it comes to harassment, it’s tempting to avoid responsibility. That’s bullshit. Whether or not we realize it, we are all in the position of power. There are more good people in games than creeps. The tide has turned. We’re in a position of power regardless of our gender, or the genders of those involved. No matter who you are, when you see something that doesn’t look right, you can act.

Clementine Ford at ABC’s The Drum writes, “Men stand up for the feminist cause“:

The past few weeks have been exhausting ones. At times, it seems like we’ve been living in a Monty Python sketch. The sexist, childish incidents pile up and I keep waiting for a giant foot to descend from the sky to wipe us all out.

I’m often accused (incorrectly) of being a man-hater. I don’t hate men, I just dislike sexism and dickheads, in that order. I thought it would be nice to acknowledge some of the men who’ve challenged the status quo on gender inequality recently. Because in amongst all the rubbish and invective that has been lately directed towards women, there have been moments of defiance that have genuinely moved me.

Men, traditionally the beneficiaries of patriarchy, have emerged to take definitive individual stands against discrimination. In unqualified displays, they’ve declared themselves to be not just passive allies in theory but active agents to create change. And I want to tip my hat at them and say, ‘You’re alright son.’

Mel Campbell at Junkee writes, “Cosmopolitan Magazine’s ‘Size Hero’ Campaign Makes Zero Sense“:

It is comically naive to think we can counteract a lifetime’s worth of immersive, pervasive cultural messages about body size and shape just by bunging a few scantily clad celebs and plus-size models in magazines. But weird magical thinking aside, we should reject all these campaigns for the same reason: they teach us that our bodies are other people’s property, to be gazed at and judged. You shouldn’t need Cosmo’s permission — or anyone else’s — to feel good about yourself.

Whoa. Sexiness is not a ‘cause’. Let’s put this in perspective. People in Turkey are marching against their repressive government. Texas state politician Wendy Davis filibustered for 10 hours to prevent her parliament from legislating to sharply restrict women’s access to abortion. These are causes worth championing. Whereas sexiness isn’t a goddamn human right. It’s a demeaning social expectation shouldered disproportionately by women.

*trigger warning online harassment* Slaus Caldwell guest posts at Fly Girl Gamers with “Game On Ladies“:

Another reason I was in love with the game was because I got to play it alongside my wife, my long-time childhood friend; Mark as well as other really cool friends and strangers who happened to fill out the remaining spots. But one day I decided to login to try and unlock a few perks and packs for my wife since she was having a terrible time getting valuable items which you could randomly get in the perk packs. Therefore I decided to log in as her one time, play as a character which was one of my favourites, and rack up enough points to afford her a few packs in hopes at least of them would be an unlock for something worthwhile. Little did I know I’d be unlocking much more.

As soon as I logged onto the “lobby” which is an area where the 4 players wait before going into the match, the first thing I hear over the headphones was: “Oh great.. a girl player? F*ck. Are you serious? Let’s kick her and hope we get someone else.” Of course for those of you unfamiliar with how this works, they knew the character was a female due to my wife’s moniker or gamer tag as it’s called. Then another player chimed in : “We can’t do a gold match with a girl player. There are even girls who play this game? Shouldn’t she be playing my little pony or something.”

At The Mob and the Multitude, “The NSA Comes Recruiting“:

Roughly half an hour into the session, the exchange below began. I began by asking them how they understood the term “adversary” since the surveillance seems to be far beyond those the American state classifies as enemies, and their understanding of that ties into the recruiters’ earlier statement that “the globe is our playground.” I ended up asking them whether being a liar was a qualification for the NSA

The NSA’s instrumental understanding of language as well as its claustrophobic social world was readily apparent. One of the recruiters discussed how they tend to socialize after work, dressing up in costumes and getting drunk (referenced below). I can imagine that also exerts a lot of social pressure and works as a kind of social closure from which it would be difficult to escape. The last thing I want to point out –once again– their defense seems to be that it’s legal. What is legal is  not just.

Alyssa Rosenberg at Think Progress writes, “Novelist John Scalzi Says He Won’t Attend Conventions Without Strong Sexual Harassment Policies“:

I’ve written before in this space about the ongoing problem of sexual harassment at fan conventions and other geek events, whether people are taking creepshots of cosplayers and making unreasonable demands of their time in terms that make them uncomfortable, so-called journalists are using their credentials as license to harass women, because apparently bra size is an important piece of data for any published story, or sexual harassment between professionals is being excused as an inherent part of geek or gaming culture. There have been efforts to push back against these cultural problems, significant among them, Girl Wonder’s Con Anti-Harassment Project, which, among other things, stockpiles the anti-harassment policies of major conventions (which aren’t always clearly available on their websites) and offers advice on how to report harassment or to support someone in doing so. And those efforts got a high-profile boost yesterday when John Scalzi, the prolific science fiction novelist, the past president of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, and an outspoken feminist ally, announced a policy on convention harassment of his own. Scalzi, he told readers of his popular blog, will no longer attend conventions that don’t have clear sexual harassment policies that delineate offending behavior, and where and to whom it’s possible to report it, that don’t make those policies clear to all participants by means like posting them online or announcing them at opening ceremonies, and where he can’t get personal assurances from convention organizers that they’ll do both of the following, and make sure harassment complaints are taken seriously and dealt with promptly.

Foz Meadows writes at shattersnipe: malcontent & rainbows, “Rageblogging: The Rod Rees Edition“:

Behold this blog post by author Rod Rees, expressing his thoughts as to whether or not male authors can successfully write female characters. This is an important question, one that can and frequently does lead to interesting discussions about privilege, the male gaze, stereotypes and default narrative settings; that being said, my short answer is always going to be an unequivocal yes. Above and beyond the fact that many of my favourite fictional ladies are male creations, I strongly distrust gender essentialism in all its forms, and the idea that women are inherently different, unknowable creatures, such that we exist beyond the true comprehension of men, falls firmly into that category. So, from the outset, let me be clear: male authors are totally, 100% capable of writing a wide variety of awesome female characters, and many of them frequently do just that.

But Rod Rees, I suspect, is not among them.

The utter gobsmacking cluelessness of his approach to the matter can best be summed up in the following quote:

This brought to mind other criticisms. One woman commented on the scene where Odette (a character I introduced in The Demi-Monde: Spring) was admiring her breasts in a mirror by opining that ‘Women don’t do that!’ I was tempted to reply, ‘Oh, yes they do!’

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