Tag Archives: relationships

Welcome to the 98th Down Under Feminist Carnival

Wow, 98 carnivals.  That’s so many.  It’s been a very busy month with the lead up to the Australian election, Men in football being arsehats, the mass shooting in Orlando at an LGBT night club, Brexit, the rise of hate crimes in the UK, and conservative politicians being arsehats (still).  I have finally had a month off from studying and have been catching up on playing computer games and cooking, not so much on catching up on blogging because I am a tiny bit sick of writing.  Though I have lots of blog pieces in my head anyway.

Anyway, if you want to host a future carnival, then go to the Down Under Feminist Carnival site and let Chally know.  It’s not very hard, lovely people like Chally, Mary, myself, Scarlett and others will fill your inbox with excellent posts from feminists in Australia and New Zealand.

On with the carnival!

Feminism

The fantastic cartoonist, Judy Horacek devoted her topic of the month for July to Feminism (posted at the end of June, so eligible for this carnival (just)).

Blue Milk writes, “Tickets for the Feminist Writers’ Festival are on sale now

Terri Psiakis writes at ABC The Drum, “So you suffer from ‘gender fatigue’? Get well soon“:

Now, don’t get me wrong: I’m not numb-nutting the source of the research. I’m numb-nutting the idea that to achieve workplace gender diversity we need more CEOs with daughters. As if they need the existence of their own female offspring to finally understand the merit in the idea of gender equity at work.

Sure. Don’t champion workplace change because it’s necessary and long overdue. Champion it because you happen to have a girl at home.

Reproductive Justice

Kate Galloway writes at KatGallow, “A mother’s sacrifice: more than an incubator“:

Let’s take this argument to its logical conclusion: any woman of child-bearing age who becomes brain dead must be kept alive until a pregnancy test shows she is not pregnant. If she is pregnant, she must be kept alive until the baby is born. I realise that this is an exaggeration – but if we argue that the Portuguese case is justified because ‘any woman would want her baby to survive’ then where do we draw a line? If the woman is nine months pregnant? Eight? Four? One? How do we decide which foetuses are retained to delivery and which are not? Would we keep the woman on life support even as her body is decaying? What might cause us to change the decision to keep her alive?

Petra Bueskens wrote at New Matilda, “Gaye Demanuele And The Politics Of Homebirth“:

The second big watershed moment for the reduction of access to homebirth was in 2009 when key legislative change, masquerading as reform, changed the registration and regulation process for midwives. New provisions contained in the Health Legislation Amendment (Midwives and Nurse Practitioners) Bill 2009 stipulated that privately practicing midwives had to have a “collaborative arrangement” in place with a doctor, usually an obstetrician, before being eligible for Medicare rebates.

As Maternity Coalition wrote in their response to the new regulations, this gave doctors “veto powers over midwives and birth choices”. It created a system of parallel regulation whereby midwives couldn’t practice without a doctor willing to sanction and support their practice; something that has proven very difficult in practice for homebirth midwives in particular.

Suzanne Dyson writes at The Conversation, “Good sex ed doesn’t lead to teen pregnancy, it prevents it“:

Opponents of school-based sex ed argue that educating young people about sex and relationships can lead to promiscuity, teenage pregnancy, increased rates of STIs and can even influence sexual and gender orientation. But this isn’t supported by the research.

Catherine Chamberlain, Rhonda Marriott and Sandy Campbell wrote at The Conversation, “Why we need to support Aboriginal women’s choice to give birth on country“:

Not all Aboriginal women have access to high-quality, culturally competent maternity care. An audit in Western Australia, for instance, found 75% of services failed to provide maternity care sensitive to Aboriginal culture.

Politics

Kate Galloway writes at KatGallow, “Say no to sexist language in public discourse“:

With respect, whatever Mr Entsch’s views, the LNP’s views, or the voter views of negative gearing and small time investors, it is not OK to use the language and imagery of witches about women. The implication of the image of the witch, deliberately positioned adjacent to Ms Howes’ campaign corflutes, is to invoke the comparison.

Fleur Fitzsimmons submitted a guest post to me, “Guest Post: Equal pay a step closer“:

Equal pay for women-dominated occupations is a step closer with the high-powered group led by the next Governor-General Dame Patsy Reddy and including  Phil O’Reilly, unions and Government Negotiators, tasked with developing equal pay principles under the Equal Pay Act 1972 reporting agreed principles and an agreed process to implement equal pay to the Government.  The group has developed and agreed comprehensive principles for the implementation of equal pay in female-dominated work in New Zealand. The agreed principles are here.

Eva Cox writes at The Conversation, “The f-word enters the campaign and trips up both major parties“:

Bill Shorten unintentionally fired the feminism debate by saying the changes were targeted at women, both as the major users and household organisers of childcare. Nationals deputy Fiona Nash and Today show host Lisa Wilkinson branded this statement “prehistoric”, so Shorten then had to defend his stance by saying men rely on women to handle childcare arrangements..

Celeste Liddle writes at Daily Life, “Federal election 2016: The indigenous women giving me cause to hope“:

Yet despite this, there is one silver lining. This election a record number of Indigenous candidates are standing and of these 13 people, eight are women. Should six of these candidates be successful in getting elected, Australia will hit population parity rates in Parliament for Indigenous people for the first time ever. Considering that it took until just last election for the first Aboriginal woman ever to enter Parliament, eight Aboriginal women contesting seats this election is a welcome advance. Aboriginal men’s voices have often been preferenced by the mainstream over the voices of Aboriginal women due to the patriarchy, and this dynamic looks set to be challenged in Parliament House.

Relationships

Cha wrote at Shallow Depths (about Stardew Valley, a computer game), “Mundus Vult Decipiti“:

Visiting my hapless future husband became part of my daily routine. Which is completely normal, well-adjusted behaviour and not like stalking at all. Except it involved getting to know someone’s schedule, hanging around outside their house and just happening to show up wherever they went. So, exactly like stalking actually.

Emily wrote at Mama Said, “It has been a day” and she also wrote, “The world is big“:

I want to pledge now that I will parent knowing my child is going into this big world and he will have choices – choices to harm and hurt or to walk gently and powerfully with hope in his heart and love for others. I will parent knowing he is going into a world with your children too, that they need love and protection and respect – they need to be kept safe as I hope my son will be kept safe too.

Sexism

Stephanie at No Award wrote, “totally respected in our very respectful code“:

The thing about the misogyny entrenched in our code, of course, is the way it normalises violence against women. Football is a space where we’re told with words that we’re welcome, but we’re also confronted with evidence that we’re not. And the same evidence tells men that anyone who isn’t a man is unwelcome.

Erin Riley writes at The Guardian, “This is what happens when you call out sexism in Australia“:

This is what usually happens when you call out sexism in sport: nobody pays any attention at all.

We’re used to sporting codes being sexist: used to paltry pay packets for female athletes, used to their bodies being objectified, used to sports administrations being dominated by men. Pointing out egregious examples of the worst of sport’s sexism only sometimes raises an eyebrow.

Osman Faruqi wrote at Junkee, “How An Independent Journalist Brought Eddie McGuire’s Sexist Comments To Account“:

Despite making the comments on Triple M last Monday, the McGuire story wasn’t reported by mainstream media outlets late yesterday. Riley, a freelance sports writer, transcribed the comments over the weekend and pushed the story out onto social media where it was eventually picked up by news outlets across the country.

Rebecca Shaw writes at Kill Your Darlings, “Age Gap: Where are the middle-aged women on screens?“:

Try to imagine the most haggard and decrepit old actress you can think of. Who comes to mind? That’s right, it’s Olivia Wilde. The almost-objectively stunning Wilde recently revealed that she had been rejected for a role playing Leonardo DiCaprio’s wife in the The Wolf of Wall Street because she was too old. At the time, she was 28 and Leo was 37. The part ended up going to Australian actress Margot Robbie, who was 21 at the time. The role in question involved portraying a real-life woman, who was 29 during the time the movie was set.

Media

Anna at Flaming Moth/Orlando Creature writes, “The Shrew Lands“:

Having thought about The Taming of the Shrew as long and as intimately as I have my conclusion, for what it’s worth, is that there is no way to make it both a romantic comedy and at the same time not wildly offensive. But (and this is crucial) I have come to believe that this would have been so even when it was first penned, and that its primary driving force is to produce in the audience member the confusion of feeling something to be right and simultaneously feeling it to be wrong. We want Kate and Petruchio to get together and have a great relationship and a great future together, but the framework within which we see it happen is horrible. And I don’t for a moment believe that this is because Shakespeare wanted us to think long and hard about the way our society treats women. I think he merely wanted to make sure his audience left this show compelled to talk about what they had just seen. That was how one made money in the theatre.

Scarlett Harris reviews the most recent series of Orange is the New Black for Junkee.  It’s full of spoilers, just so you know.

Scarlette Harris also writes at SBS, “It’s time for WWE to pay more than lip service to the Women’s Championship“:

It’s been just over two months since World Wrestling Entertainment ushered in a “new era”, calling their female talent Superstars (which the guys had been branded as for decades) instead of Divas and retired the Divas Championship in favour of a brand-spanking new Women’s Championship.

Since then, though, women have continued to get dismal airtime across WWE’s two main shows, three-hour Raw and two-hour SmackDown!.

Stephanie at No Award writes, “No Award watches stuff: Cleverman“:

It’s so clear what’s happening in Cleverman – the Zone is literally within Redfern; it’s not subtle, and we LOVE IT. It’s a message about missions and exclusion and the Stolen Generation, wrapped up in an analogy.

Avril E Jean reviewed some books at, Avril E Jean; Art and Analysis, “Gender bias in books I’ve just read in this week

Race and Racism

Celeste Liddle writes at Rantings of an Aboriginal Feminist, “The neutralising of hate“:

It reminded me of when I saw news reports following Coburg referring to the leftist groups as “extreme anti-racism groups”. See, apparently now, being anti-racist is an extremist action. The problem here being that it actually is. Anti-racism; thanks to centuries of denying colonial invasion, decades of the White Australia Policy, years of Hansonism and Howardism, Cronulla, Islamophobia (even though the Muslim connection to this land mass predates white invasion by up to an estimated 200 years) and bipartisan practice of despicable asylum seeker policy; is considered a radical act. Racism is so very embedded in the fabric of our society and apathy towards it right now is so high that to take an active stance against it is considered terrifying by many.

Bodies and body image

Coley Tangerina writes, “A fat bird“:

“You’re a little bird!” I laugh.

He laughs back. “You’re a fat bird!”

Immediately his smile disappears, uncomfortable with regret.

Kath wrote Fat Heffalump, “Is Radical Fat Activism Dead?“:

Don’t get me wrong, I understand why she, and so many others have decided to give up blogging – I have a lot of the same feelings myself and it makes it really hard to keep blogging the way I used to.  But understanding why doesn’t mean I’m any less sad that so many amazing, bold, innovative fat activists and/or bloggers are deciding to pack it in.

Kath also wrote at Fath Heffalump, “Marketing to Fat Women – This Is How You Do It“:

I mean what can I say?  It’s wonderful!  Including actual fat women, including fat women of colour.  Doing kick-arse stuff.  With nary a word about “health”.  No “plus-size” models that wouldn’t actually wear the plus-size range.  No faux-bo-po slogan accompanied by a bunch of tall, hourglass, white women.  Fat women actually speaking about themselves and their own experiences.  Fat women showing that you can have an amazing life, exactly as you are.

QUILTBAG+ (some of these posts carry trigger warnings for queerphobia and violence)

A little red pen at Little Red Jottings writes, “Orlando, Orlando“:

I’ve been in a relationship with a man since then, so it all feels a bit academic or something now, something I don’t really have the lived experience to claim. It’s easier in this world to play the straight card, to fit in and keep quiet. Quiet when activist, feminist friends edge towards transphobia, quiet when conservative relatives, colleagues, random strangers make bad jokes, quiet when my interests are assumed to be political and not also personal.

Elizabeth Duck-Chong writes at Daily Life, “Why it’s time for parents to re-think declaring their children’s gender“:

There is a pervasive narrative that transgender people are “born as 𝑥”, but in reality, from my first coming out I was starting a process of undoing a lifetime of perceived maleness. My ever having “been a boy” was as foreign as a non-native tongue; my many hours repeating tenses in middle school French would have just as well been spent repeating a mantra of maleness – that is, neither stuck.

But now in adulthood these same friends who understand my womanhood doesn’t originate vaginally, these transgender allies, see the bodies of their children and continue to draw conclusions in pastel pinks and blues.

Jo at A Life Unexamined wrote, “The strange state of being neither in, nor out“:

And so I’ve found myself in this in-between space, where I don’t actually know whether I’m properly out or not. I don’t know whether people have just accepted all the hints and indications and run with it, and that everything is perfectly fine. I don’t know whether they just haven’t picked up on it. I don’t know whether I’m just seen as an active ally, or as queer myself. I don’t know who actually knows a lot more than they let on – like in the one case, where I found out that three of the people in my queer project group had actually found my blog and knew I was ace even before I had made any comments about it whatsoever. (Two of them then asked me out for coffee to talk about it. In a way, I much prefer that super-direct approach to all this uncertainty.)

Dr Inger Mewburn writes at The Thesis Whispherer, “If you blog, will you lose your job?“:

Whatever you think of Ms Ward’s politics, you would have to agree that she has the right to have her Marxist opinions. She also has the presumed right to post on a closed Facebook account in peace. A ‘friend’ leaking what she said about the Australian flag to the mainstream media is something she probably didn’t expect to happen and hearing about it sends a chill down my spine.

Elizabeth Sunderland writes at New Matilda, “Bigotry In The Name Of God: The Case Against Religious Exemptions“:

Shorten assured Christian leaders that if the ALP come to power in July, he will not be seeking to roll back the exemptions to anti-discrimination laws that faith-based organisations currently enjoy. Speaking in Perth, Shorten confirmed that “[the ALP]are not interested in telling religious organisations how to run their faith-based organisations. We haven’t seen the case made to make change.”

This pre-emptive statement – Labor were supposed to review the laws whilst in office – has delighted Catholic leaders, Lyle Shelton of the ACL, and The Australian newspaper. Elsewhere, it’s gone largely unnoticed.

For a nation of people who see ourselves as secular and upholding the separation between church and state, Australians are alarmingly complacent about the influence of religious organisations.

Sarah Joseph writes at The Conversation, “Academic freedom and the suspension of Roz Ward“:

Academics (and others) must be able to post such opinions without fear of retribution from their employers. Certainly, some find criticism of the Australian flag offensive, but as a society we must surely be able to tolerate such opinions. Ward is referencing debates that are far from closed. In contrast, La Trobe’s reason a) seems to punish Ward for expressing an unpopular opinion.

Second, the reasons apparently given to Ward link her suspension to the fact that she posted the offending comments in the midst of ongoing controversy over Safe Schools. The implication is that Ward should be “extra careful” with what she says due to that controversy.

Rebecca Shaw writes at SBS, “Gay bars and safe spaces: Why Orlando has impacted me so much“:

It is easy for people to forget, because of how far we have come, that it still takes something to live openly and proudly as an LGBTQI person. Yes, many of us are extremely privileged, especially those amongst who are cis and white and who live in a country like Australia. And yet, it still isn’t easy. If you aren’t part of the community, it is easy for you to forget. It is easy for you to walk down the street, safe in the knowledge that you love queer people, and ignore that there are still many who don’t. To know and to sense, like we do, that there is still blatant hatred towards us. And to fear that if it isn’t blatant, that it’s just hiding there under the surface, waiting. It takes something to keep living as yourself when you see this seething and spiteful underbelly of this every time someone talks about Safe Schools or marriage equality, or draws a pathetically homophobic cartoon in the national newspaper.

Charlie Maycraft guest posted at Gladly, the Cross-Eyed Bear, “Orlando Vigil – Charlie’s Speech“:

This shooting was an attack on our human rights. There are people in this world who not only condemn us, they literally want us dead. I’ve seen news anchors and journalists all over the world trying to co opt this event as a non specific and random act of violence, rather than a blatantly homophobic and transphobic hate crime.

Paula Gerber wrote at The Conversation, “Orlando shooting is the latest chapter in the global fight for LGBT rights“:

For every advance in LGBT rights that is made in one part of the world, there are extreme regressions elsewhere.

Perhaps this is evidence of Newton’s third law that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Although when it comes to LGBT rights, the reaction is more excessive than equal.

Aaminah Khan (also known as Jay the Nerdkid) writes at Alternet, “Stop Asking Me to Denounce Islam to Prove I Care About LGBT Rights“:

After events like the recent tragic shooting in Orlando, Florida, this problem becomes more pronounced. In the hours immediately following the Pulse shooting, I received a great deal of opportunistic hate mail, as I imagine many visibly queer and trans people did. However, most of the hate messages I received online were not about my sexuality or gender, but about my religion. Many came from fellow LGBT people, who asked me how I justified homophobic laws in Muslim countries (I don’t) and demanded that I “disavow” Islam as proof that I really did care about LGBT rights (I won’t, but I do). These attacks left me no space to mourn or deal with the pain of such a blow to the LGBT community, of which I consider myself a part.

Chrys Stevenson wrote at Gladly, the Cross-Eyed Bear, “Orlando: I blame you, Lyle“:

Florida is a long way from Canberra, Lyle. And you are a Christian, not a Muslim. You were nowhere near the Pulse nightclub when Omar Mateen took out an assault rifle and a pistol and began firing indiscriminately into a club packed with the kind of people your Australian Christian Lobby spends so much money to vilify.

And yet, Lyle, I blame you for the horror which occurred in that nightclub. Because it is you, and people like you, who actively fuel the homophobic culture which helps unhinged people like Mateen justify their actions as ‘right’ and ‘holy’.

Miscellaneous

Valerie Aurora, Mary Gardiner and Leigh Honeywell co-wrote a post at hypatia dot net, “No more rock stars: how to stop abuse in tech communities“:

You can take concrete actions to stop rock stars from abusing and destroying your community. But first, here are a few signs that help you identify when you have a rock star instead of a plumber:

A rock star likes to be the center of attention. A rock star spends more time speaking at conferences than on their nominal work. A rock star appears in dozens of magazine profiles – and never, ever tells the journalist to talk to the people actually doing the practical everyday work. A rock star provokes a powerful organization over minor issues until they crack down on the rock star, giving them underdog status. A rock star never says, “I don’t deserve the credit for that, it was all the work of…” A rock star humble-brags about the starry-eyed groupies who want to fuck them. A rock star actually fucks their groupies, and brags about that too. A rock star throws temper tantrums until they get what they want. A rock star demands perfect loyalty from everyone around them, but will throw any “friend” under the bus for the slightest personal advantage. A rock star knows when to turn on the charm and vulnerability and share their deeply personal stories of trauma… and when it’s safe to threaten and intimidate. A rock star wrecks hotel rooms, social movements, and lives.

Claire Wright wrote at The Conversation, “Emancipated wenches in gaudy jewellery: the liberating bling of the goldfields“:

Lola Montez was born in Limerick, Ireland in 1818, and christened Maria Eliza Delores Rosanna Gilbert. She changed her name to Lola when, at 18, she fled an arranged betrothal to a reviled old man. The woman who had dined (and slept) with the kings of Europe, plotted against the Jesuit-controlled monarchy in Bavaria, given advice on matters of state to Czar Nicholas and Ludwig I, performed in the opera houses of Europe, married at least three times and travelled the globe with her infamous Spider Dance, died alone in a New York boarding house of syphilis, aged 42. Her gravestone simply reads “Mrs Eliza Gilbert”.

By the end of her short and explosive life, Lola might have suggested a better epitaph:

A woman of beauty and intelligence needs the quills of a porcupine as self-defence – or else risk ruin.

Deborah Russell wrote at Left Side Story, “What I think about a Universal Basic Income“:

A friend asked me what I thought about a Universal Basic Income. Here are some notes I put together a couple of months ago, when UBIs were the topic of the day here in New Zealand. TL:DR – I’m a supporter in principle, ‘though at this stage, a UBI may not be viable on fiscal grounds.

Violence and sexual assault – all articles in this section carry trigger warnings

Writing in Water writes, “We Are Not Really Decent People: How We Pretend to Hate Rape

Erin Riley wrote, “Eddie McGuire, Caroline Wilson and violence against women: the AFL must act.“:

The first notable thing about this is, of course, that is is absolutely awful. These are some of the most high-profile men in football joking about hurting one of football’s most prominent women. So much of our discussions about violence against women acknowledge the importance of language and of attitudes in shaping the way men think about women. As the current government campaign says, “violence against women doesn’t just start.” While McGuire and co were undoubtedly joking, the underlying attitude is dangerous: it [reinforces] the attitudes of those who are willing to take their hatred of women beyond a “bit of banter”.

Rebecca Shaw wrote at SBS, “A breakdown of victim blaming using pie charts“:

But actually, who is at fault when assaults like this occur? I think it’s time someone looked into it further, and broke it down for society. And that person is me. I will use pie graphs because i love pie. Let’s hope we can clear this all up.

Related Posts:

Welcome to the 94th edition of the Down Under Feminist Carnival

Wow, 94 carnivals, that is quite a number.  I’m proud to be part of this, and hope that you enjoy reading this collection of feminist writing from Australia and New Zealand.

The Down Under Feminist Carnival is always looking for more hosts.  If you have a blog, live in (or have lived in) Australia and New Zealand, and are a feminist, then get in touch at the Down Under Feminist Carnival site.  Details of what is involved is also available here.  Just remember, you won’t be doing this on your own, there will be plenty of us to help you find posts and for you to ask questions.

Thank you to Chally for organising the carnival and sending me posts, and Mary and Scarlett for also sending me posts. On with the carnival!

Relationships

Blue Milk wrote two pieces on relationships, one short, one shorter, “Follow kindness” and “On new relationships“.

Sexism

Avril E Jean writes, “Really, New Scientist?” and then follows it up immediately with a post on “Gender assumptions“.

Deborah at A Bee of a Certain Age wrote, “Another entry for the “Patriarchy harms men too” files“.

Scarlett Harris wrote for Harlot, “Does The LFL Have A Place In The Women’s Sports Revolution?

With the increased interest in not only women in sport but in different kinds of women’s sports, would the LFL, in its original incarnation of a SuperBowl halftime attraction in which barely dressed models rolled around chasing a ball on pay-per-view, be dreamed into existence today?

Carla Pascoe wrote for The Conversation, “The ongoing taboo of menstruation in Australia“:

Why do we use quaint euphemisms such as “sanitary products” and “feminine hygiene products” in supermarket aisles? We are still profoundly uncomfortable about the fact that females bleed once a month for half of their lives. It’s messy, it’s unsettling and no one wants to talk about it.

Disability

A C Buchanan writes, “On Empathy and Building Spaceships“:

When I was around 10, I read an article in a newspaper about Asperger’s Syndrome. “That’s me!” I wanted to yell, as I made my way through the bullet points. I got to the last one. Doesn’t like writing stories. I thought of the novel I’d just written. (It was about two German children on the run in WWII Wales. It was probably half plagiarised. Still, it was a novel.) I read the bullet point again. “This isn’t me,” I thought, deflated.

Lauredhel writes at Hoyden About Town, “Today in Ableism: The Perth Writers Festival, Part Two.“:

The rows of information and ticket tents, the coffee and drinks tents, the tables and chairs, the bar, the water refill stations – these make up Writers Central, the busy hub of the Festival. The tents are all placed facing a large area of bumpy grass with sand traps. This row of tents all have their BACKS to a flat, very wide paved area. I will not mince words here. The organisers are clearly complete arseholes, since they know this is a problem and have failed to fix it. It would have cost them nothing to set up this area such that the tents and vans were accessible, and such that there were a couple of tables and chairs on a paved surface. Words cannot express how angry I am about this setup.

Activism

Kath at The Fat Heffalump wrote, “Plus 40 Fabulous – What Makes Me Happy“:

When you’re dealing with social activism of any kind, you have to be able to find the joy in life easily, or you’re going to burn out very quickly.  There has to be someone, and some things, that make you happy, and you have to be able to access them when the activism starts to get you down.  It’s all part of self care, which is VITAL for all of us, let alone those of us engaging in activism.

Scarlett Harris at The Scarlett Woman wrote, “In Defence of Millennials.“:

For the record, I don’t think the state of millennials in society is as dire as Steinem et al. would have us believe. I may work part time, but I also freelance. Last year, I had two additional jobs and the year before that I had two internships. As far as job loyalty goes, I’ve been consistently employed in my primary part-time job for six and a half years (and I’m up for long service leave this year!), while the part-time gig I had before that I worked in for seven. A few of my friends work to travel, and another is working in the Prime Minister’s Cabinet! We’re more educated than our parents and we’re more likely to volunteer and get involved in community projects. Gloria Steinem was a grassrooter from way back, but how many activist campaigns in recent years have been started by millennials? There’s the Occupy movement, SlutWalk, #illridewithyou, Love Makes a Way, #BlackLivesMatter. In the corporate sector, Mark Zuckerberg created the most popular social media platform in the world, Facebook, while Jennifer Lawrence was 2015’s highest-grossing female movie star. (The highest grossing male movie stars are mostly older white men until Channing Tatum makes an appearance on the list at number 13, which perhaps says something about the determination and drive of young women more so than millennial men.) Millennials are hardly left wanting for ways to make an impact on the world.

Race and Racism

Kath at The Fat Heffalump provided the transcript of her interview at Essence Magazine, “Interview with Essence Magazine – Full Transcript” after her tweet regarding Beyoncé went viral:

Fellow white lady writers – if asked to write about Beyoncé’s new song, the answer is “I think you should ask a black woman to write it.”

Stephanie at No Award wrote, “lunar new year and diminishing returns“:

It diminishes me not at all to call this festival the Lunar New Year. I can be specific when I’m talking about our specifics: the Ba Gua my mother replaced on Sunday afternoon; the care with which the Reunion Dinner menu was planned; the offerings to the Kitchen God to keep his mouth sticky-shut and sealed from dobbing on us to the Jade Emperor; the last banquet after the fifteen days that will have come before. But the Chinese tendency towards blanket statements (she says, making a blanket statement) diminishes us all, lends us a careless superiority we shouldn’t want, and a thoughtlessness to others that we shouldn’t have.

Liz at No Award wrote, “Blackface in Australia“:

Every time this issue comes up, there’s always some drongo going, “But we’re not America!  We don’t have the same history of slavery and racism that they do, so blackface isn’t racist here!”

And they’re half right — we don’t have the same history of slavery and racism as the US.  We have a history of slavery and racism all our very own.  And it still doesn’t make blackface acceptable.

Stephanie at No Award wrote, “taking up room in con spaces“:

Quokkas, some years ago at an Australian con, a white, American Guest of Honour explained to me what colonialism in South East Asia looked like. She was the Guest of Honour, so I didn’t know how to tell her to fuck off.

Celeste Liddle wrote at Daily Life, “Why Constitutional Recognition isn’t necessarily the answer to improving Indigenous rights“:

The forum, entitled “Aboriginal Community Open Meeting“, was based around the concept of “self-determination” for Aboriginal communities. It’s the first in a series of consultations between the community and the Victorian Government, organised with an aim to inform the Federal Government on the topic of Constitutional Recognition for Indigenous people.

Constitutional Recognition is a Federal agenda, which so far consists mostly of establishing the ‘Recognise campaign’ in a bid to educate Australians about the importance on the recognition referendum.

Celeste Liddle also wrote for Daily Life, “Indigenous Australians have a right to speak our first language“:

It’s therefore remarkable that while a “White Australian Leader” can receive superlatives for reciting an Indigenous language in parliament, a female Aboriginal politician can be reprimanded for reverting to her native tongue during a debate in the Northern Territory Parliament.

This is precisely what happened last week when member of the Northern Territory Legislative Assembly Bess Price spoke in Warlpiri in session. Price was informed by the speaker Kezia Purick that “should a member use a language other than English without the leave of the assembly it will be ruled disorderly and the member will be required to withdraw the words”.

Courtney at Raising Queens wrote, “I think I spotted a brown face in Frozen“:

I recently watched a video of young children being given the choice of playing with either a white doll or a black doll. Every child, including the black children, picked the white doll. Even after saying they knew which doll looked more like them, the black children still said they’d prefer the white doll because the black doll was “ugly”, “bad” and “mean”. Once again, I wonder how many of these children had actually been told that their skin colour was ugly. They don’t have to be told explicitly because the message is still coming from somewhere.

Kate Galloway wrote at KatGallow, “The pyramid of suffering“:

My concern however is that this strategy is indicative of a fragmentation of asylum seeker debate in Australia. Lowy Institute polls indicate that six out of ten of Australians support mandatory detention. It is difficult for refugee campaigners to get public support for a broader campaign about asylum seekers or mandatory detention, and the support for the named infants, including baby Asha, may indicate a threshold of suffering beyond which the Australian public is unwilling to accept.

Bodies

Friend of Marilyn wrote, “On irresponsible reporting (just another day in the fatpocalypse)“:

“‘Fat people should be fined’ – experts say” reads the headline of a story posted on the NZ Herald website this afternoon. It’s yet another example of irresponsible reporting on fatness by the NZ media.

The story gets a lot wrong, including that the study in question doesn’t say anything about fat people being fined (in fact, the word ‘fine[d]’ is not used in the 12 page article). Other falsehoods include the claim that global obesity levels are increasing, and that “exercise and healthy eating are the key to reversing this trend”. (Go ahead and find the science that demonstrates that diet and exercise result in permanent – more than 5yrs – meaningful – more than 10kilos – weight loss. Go ahead. When you find it, send it to me). The Herald story then continues to talk about the key to weight loss that is found in the study.

Iona Bruce at Daily Life wrote, “Where are all the feminist personal trainers?“:

In my opinion, being healthy is not how you look. It’s how you feel. I try to erase years’ worth of media­-driven brainwashing by teaching my clients to stop measuring progress by what the scales say, and start feeling their progress through what their body can do. And what your body can achieve is completely unique to you. The only person you should ever compare yourself with, is yourself.

Rebecca Shaw wrote at Daily Life, “Why it’s so hurtful when my friends complain about feeling ‘fat’“:

What is much harder for me to ignore is the insidious, negative language around fatness that is spoken by loved ones, acquaintances, colleagues and strangers alike on a daily basis. This is a concept known as ‘fat talk’, which sadly is not a late night show where I invite cool fat women on to talk about their lives, but rather an informal dialogue during which participants express body dissatisfaction, often expressed by the very people who would be disgusted at the man who threw his cigarette at me.

Natalie at definatalie wrote, “True story: I sew my own pads.“:

There are lots of positives about using cloth pads: cheaper, reduced rubbish, sewing/ buying your own customised pads is fun, tailored pads to suit your body shape, cloth feels nicer than plastic, no adhesive/ plastic rashes,  you’ve always got a stash handy, plus more and more. Some people say their cramping and period length are reduced but no studies conclusively prove this, nor have I experienced this. At the end of the day, if you find something that works for you, then that’s all that matters.

Family, children and the like

Emily wrote at Mama Said, “Who will you be?“:

One of my favourite things to do is imagine who my boys will grow up to be. Will they be bogans? Or hippies? Will they stay up late reading by torchlight like I did? Or will they ignore all books like their father? Will they be outdoorsy like him? Or will they curl their lip at the thought of a hike? (I just don’t understand hiking ok I mean it’s just difficult walking right? I don’t even want to walk let alone difficult walk.)

Julie at The Hand Mirror wrote, “The problem is low pay, not family size“:

By stating bluntly “if you can’t feed then don’t breed” a series of unhelpful assumptions are made, including that people’s financial situations don’t change over time, or at least don’t get worse.  In an age of uncertainty around employment, the future of work, rapidly changing technology and industries, this seems a naïve assumption to make. In decades gone by how many people, young women in particular, took typing at school before we saw the rise of the personal computer and the demise of the typing pool?

Miscellaneous

Dr Jess Berentson-Shaw guest posts at Mama Said, “Should you get your child immunised?”  And of course the answer is yes, and no debate will be answered into.

Emily writes at Mama Said, “About time – A festival that is kid-friendly!” about a festival in Auckland in March 2016.

Liz at No Award writes, “On the corner is a banker with a motorcar“:

Look, Yarraville isn’t just gentrified, it’s aggressively so, and to the detriment of the wider — and poorer – – community.  The pop-up park story is a case in point: when Maribyrnong Council removed the temporary park and prepared to shift it to a new location, the people of Yarraville whinged until the council changed its mind and made it permanent.  Cute!  And totally at the expense of less adorable, less wealthy parts of the municipality, that might have enjoyed all the benefits that temporarily closing a street for open space can provide. (The suburbs in the area that aren’t Yarraville are among the most disadvantaged across all of Victoria, so that’s nice.)

Media

Rebecca Shaw interviewed Mallory Ortberg for Junkee and it’s “Cats, ‘Texts From Jane Eyre’ And Men Being Very Quiet Online: A Chat With The Toast’s Mallory Ortberg“:

I mean, this is a great question. “How can we make men quieter in general?” is always a worthwhile thing to ask. They have a really hard time with it. They struggle. They are sweethearts, but it doesn’t come naturally. We just make it super clear that men aren’t the point. There’s not going to be a lot of patience for a straight white guy coming in and saying ‘have you thought about my experience?’ because odds are…we’ve heard it, and odds are your experience is actually a little silly and nobody ever told you your experience is a little bit silly, they always told you it was very very serious and important.

Anna at Hoyden About Town wrote, “Shakespeare in Australia“:

At the grassroots level, however, there is tremendous passion and enthusiasm for Shakespeare in this country. Some universities are holding special lectures or symposia, and both professional and amateur theatre performances are being staged. It is my hope that with an online space for people to find out about these events, and a little help with ideas and templates for things to do, events will start to spring up, or at the very least, people who are interested will find more easily something going on near them.

Shakespeare TwentyScore is fulfilling that role. At present it is mostly event listings plus a few useful links, but it will grow and expand throughout the year. The actual anniversary date is 23 April, but all kinds of things will be taking place all through 2016, so keep checking for updates, and expanding resources pages.

QUILTBAG – trigger warnings for most of these posts

Jennifer Wilson at No Place for Sheep wrote, “Christian Lobby claims it needs hate speech to argue against ssm“.  She also wrote, “March of the Wankpuffins” about the inquiry into the Safe Schools Coalition announced by the Australian Federal Government on Tuesday 23 February.

I also wrote about the inquiry into the Safe Schools Coalition, “Why we need safe schools for LGBTI kids and LGBTI people“.

Erin Marie wrote at Erinaree, “Safe Schools Australia – Letter to Prime Minister Turnbull

Jo at A Life Unexamined wrote, “On Coming Out as Asexual at Work (or not)“:

The other thing about coming out (for anyone who isn’t straight, this time), is that you never stop having to come out. Like Queenie once wrote, it’s coming out (and coming out [and coming out {and coming out}]). Because if you don’t actively talk about not being straight, you’ll keep being read as straight by default.

Violence – trigger warnings for these posts

Julie at The Hand Mirror wrote, “Content Warning Rape Culture

Ana Cabo at Junkee wrote, “An NZ Journo Is Copping Abuse For Interrogating Two Guys Who Creeped On Her At Laneway

Brydie Lee-Kennedy at Junkee wrote, “Why Is Everyone Only Calling On Women To #FreeKesha?

Clem Bastow wrote at Daily Life, “Kesha shouldn’t have to work with the man who allegedly raped her

Amy Gray wrote at ABC, “Paul Sheehan’s unchecked allegations ‘a catastrophe for sexual assault victims’

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Welcome to the 89th Down Under Feminists’ Carnival

Come one, come all to the 89th Down Under Feminists’ Carnival.  I know an apostrophe goes in there somewhere, and that is where it goes today.  There are many wonderful things about the number 89, it’s 24th prime number, following 83 and preceding 97. 89 is a Chen prime and a Pythagorean prime. It is the smallest Sophie Germain prime to start a Cunningham chain of the first kind of six terms, {89, 179, 359, 719, 1439, 2879}. 89 is an Eisenstein prime with no imaginary part and real part of the form 3n - 1. M89 is the 10th Mersenne prime. (all from Wikipedia)  I don’t know what most of that actually means, but I share it for your edumacation.

Anyway, September was yet another fantastic month to be a blogger in Australia and New Zealand, particularly a feminist blogger.  There was the “knifing” of Tony Abbott, a new Minister for Women in Australia, a new Australian Prime Minister (more primes), Chris Brown effectively banned from Australia, lots of commentary on the scourge of domestic violence, spring started and Melbourne eventually started to warm up.  I haven’t been paying attention to the weather in other parts of Australia and New Zealand, so I hope your weather was also more spring like, and less winter/summer like.

If you reside in Australia or New Zealand and you’d like to host a future Down Under Feminist Carnival please let Chally know here.  It’s not very difficult, and I promise I will help by sharing relevant posts with you.  And now on with the carnival.

Continue reading Welcome to the 89th Down Under Feminists’ Carnival

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Marriage Equality – again

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

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

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

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

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

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

New South Wales Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells (Liberal)

Fierravanti-Wells told the party room yesterday that:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kevin Donnelly

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

Donnelly tries to be clever and epically fails:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Michael Jensen

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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Welcome to the 83rd Down Under Feminist Carnival

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

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

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

International Women’s Day & Women’s History Month

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Media and women

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bodies

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blunt Shovels writes, “All about able women“:

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

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

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

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

Parenting and families

Boganette writes, “Thank you“:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Free time.

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

Brocklesnitch writes, “David v Goliathomophobia“:

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

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

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

Race and Racism

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Feminism

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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How to be a good parent to your bisexual, lesbian or gay child

I am specifically not writing about trans* or intersex children because I am not trans* nor intersex.  As a bisexual, my advice will fit (mostly) lesbian and gay children of straight parents.

Also, this is not advice for parents who are already awesome and love their non-straight children and their non-straight children’s partners.  This is not advice for parents who are homophobes either – unless you want to get over yourself. 

I am going to use the term “queer” to refer to bisexual, lesbian and gay unless I specifically need to refer to the individual orientations.

So your child isn’t straight, they’ve come out to you as something other than straight, or perhaps you’ve come across that knowledge some other way, and have indicated that although you’re not particularly comfortable with the idea, you still love your child – this is step one in being a good parent.

The next step might be tricky, it might be tricky because you’re from a generation that doesn’t talk much about relationships, or because you mistakenly confuse queer relationships as sex sex sex, and therefore view talking about queer relationships as talking about sex and you’re from a generation that doesn’t talk about sex.

Talk to your child and their partner about things.  Talk to them both, don’t ignore the same-sex partner because you don’t know what to say or how to say it. Relationships between straight people and relationships between queer people are more or less similar.  The differences aren’t so important that they need to be focussed on, and the similarities are where you bond.  If your child is in a relationship with someone of the same gender as themselves, then the conversations about how they met, what they do for a living (if they’re working), their hopes and dreams and the like  are just like the conversations you’d have with your child’s straight partner.  It might seem awkward to you, but that’s ok – feel that awkwardness and own it.  Your child and their partner live that awkwardness as society still mainly considers non heterosexual relationships to be odd, different and sometimes wrong.  Your brief experience of awkwardness while interacting with your queer child and their partner, should be an empathy building exercise for you, you can begin to understand what it is like when your child and their partner exist in the wider world.

One of the most important things you can do when interacting with your child and their partner, is to not see affection between them as wrong or disgusting.  You might indeed find it discomforting, but sit with that, feel it, and then remember empathy.  If you see affection between opposite sex couples as sweet/cute/adorable/lovely/normal, then remember than the affection between your child and their partner is exactly the same. You’ve been conditioned to think otherwise, but don’t for the love of any deity you hold holy, say or do anything that suggests that your comfort and feelings are more important than your child’s.  The more exposure you have to non-straight people, the easier this gets, and the more normal it seems (because it is).

As a straight, not entirely comfortable with queer people, parent – it is your duty as a good parent to love ALL of your child, and to work as hard getting to know their same-sex partners as you would if they brought home an opposite sex partner.  It is your job to come to terms with your own internalised homo/bi/trans-phobia and and banish that from you.  It is your job to educate yourself on the struggles faced by your child.  There are so many people who will happily talk to you about your discomfort, your lack of knowledge regarding the LGBTIQ communities, and who can hold your hand through your own journey to full acceptance – don’t expect your child to do all the work.  As a good parent, show good faith and do most of the work yourself, do not expect your child to carry the burden of your struggle to understand and accept.

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The legacy we leave

I’m a strong believer that we should leave the world, and the people we touch (as much as possible) in a better state than we found it.  We should not pass our damage down onto our children, but lesssen or remove it as possible.  Every generation should hopefully be better than the last.  And I see that (with the exception of politics) that many of the people I know, love, interact with, and read about seem to at least feel the same way.

Fiona O’Loughlin is one of my favourite comedians.  I love her stories, her honesty and most recently her book, “Me of the Never Never“.  There was one passage in particular that resonated with me:

As you cross the Todd River, Aborigines are in full view always, sometimes drinking, sometimes fighting, but mostly just sitting.  I think it would be fair to say that it is usually in the car when you’re crossing the river that urban Alice Springs kids, black or white, will ask their parents for the first time about the Aborigines in the river.

‘Why do those people sit in the river all the time?’

To my mind it is a crucial question that requires a crucial answer and it can go either way.

‘Because they’re drunks.’

‘Because they’re bludgers.’

‘Because they’re no-hopers.’

I guess, as is often the case, racism comes as much from ignorance as malice, but right at that moment you can either pass on intolerance or not, and it’s such a heavy load to hand onto a little kid.  A kid that may well spend his or her life in Central Australia has been given with authority a very heavy sack of fat, pompous, pious prejudice.

‘Why do those people sit in the river all the time?’

‘I don’t know, maybe they’re waiting.’

‘Waiting for what?’

‘Waiting for better days, I think.’

Simple.

And I thought after reading that passage, “Yes, that’s exactly it – we shouldn’t pass racism, homophobia, biphobia, transphobia, queerphobia, or sexism onto children.”  We should shelter them as much as possible from these things, let them know that they exist, because otherwise it’d be a nasty shock when they encounter them, but to not teach our prejudices to our children.

Of course, this is really a hard thing to do.  Easy for me to say as a woman who hasn’t managed to successfully have children, hard for a parent whose children want to know what their parents thoughts are on various issues.  I don’t envy parents in this regard.

But if we could shelter children from the structural sexism, racism, and homo, bi, trans* and queer phobias that exist in society, or at least get them to question themselves and others when these things are presented as facts wouldn’t that make the world a better place?

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