Tag Archives: relationships

Welcome to the 65th Down Under Feminist Carnival!

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

Politics

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

IT SIMPLY DEFIES COMPREHENSION, DOESN’T IT HELEN?

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

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

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

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

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

Relationships

Blue Milk wrote, “On being here“:

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

Spilt Milk writes, “Love story“:

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

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

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

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

Feminism

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Our bodies

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

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

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

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

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

Race and racism

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

LGBTIQ issues, stories and experiences

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

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

Reproductive Justice

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sex Work and sex workers

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

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

Disability

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

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

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

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

Violence *Trigger warning for posts in this section*

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Related Posts:

Let’s talk about polyamory (again)

So, I’m going to get all ranty pants here about polyamory because… just argh.  Now I’m totally on board with the fact that there is no “one true way” to do polyamory, I think there are several ways to manage multiple relationships and what works well for me isn’t necessarily going to work well for others.  However, this does not mean that there aren’t SEVERAL ways to do polyamory all wrong.

I’m not going to list all of them here, because I’ve done some of it before, and there are books about how to not do polyamory wrong, but I’ve had some serious problems with current media interest in polyamory – some of which is the fault of the media (such as who they select to represent people who are poly), and some of it is the cringe-worthy ways in which those who are deemed media friendly discuss polyamory.

So, an article in The Age, from January (I’ve been stewing on this for some months), interviewed several people I know.  The article’s title is poorly chosen, “The power of three“, as if poly configurations are only ever in 3.  I mean it’s nice and safe to report it that way, you have a couple with one other partner, or a triad.  These are easy things for people unfamiliar with polyamory and all it’s permutations to understand.  Particularly if the couple deems their relationship to be the central one, and any other partner is a lesser relationship – that continues traditional thought about marriages and partnerships being central to your life and everything else is secondary.

But for those of us (and really there are so many more with different configurations) whose relationships don’t centre around the a central couple, or a triad – we’re not exactly being considered and in fact being made invisible in the media discussion about what non-monogamy looks like.  This isn’t a bad thing right now, Australia has enough political and religious bigotry alarm about marriage equality without throwing polyamory in the mix.  And to add to the fact that it isn’t always safe for people to come out as non-monogamous as it may impact their employment, visa status, custody arrangements, etc.  To complicate matters further, when people are in long strings of relationships, such as me, and my three partners, and their partners, and their partners, etc – where do you draw the line in discussing publicly who is with who, and who do you out, and what happens if someone doesn’t want any media attention?

But anyway, let’s go to the article at hand, and just quietly the use of “polyamorist” makes me twitch.

Lee always knew that Ramsey’s ambition was to form a triad. He was “burnt”, he says, from past experiences at the centre of what is known as a “V”, where one person has two separate concurrent relationships with two people, who are not connected to each other. “I made it clear I was no longer interested in a ‘V’ relationship,” Ramsey says. “I had been there, done that, and it was exhausting, extraordinarily taxing.”

I think the biggest problem I have with articles such as this is that because only a small segment of the community it talking (for reasons discussed above),  it comes across that the participants are the be all and end all of polyamory.  That their way is the right way, and what they dismiss is completely valid to dismiss.

Now, as someone in a Y (because I have three partners, so not a V), I don’t find it at all exhausting or taxing.  I think I’d find a triad a lot harder, and I know many people who’d feel that way too.  I love the way my partners interact, the friendships they have, and the way they support each other when needed.  Really they make my life fantastic, and I wouldn’t exchange the way I love and live.

Now I know that my style of relationship isn’t for everyone, but I wouldn’t make a comment that it was “exhausting, extraordinarily taxing” without lots of additional explanation.  It is entirely possible that Darren did explain why that was so for him, but that’s not in the article.

He says, “You just tell people, in no uncertain terms, ‘This is my view of the world, this is what I like. This is what I expect. If you want to be part of it, get on board. If not, step off the train at the next station.’ ”

Yeah no… Negotiation and compromise are a HUGE part of polyamory.  Dictating terms has you come across as an arsehole.  Sometimes there aren’t compromises that work for all parties, but you work on finding one before determining that there isn’t one.  There will always be hard boundaries, and that’s reasonable, but generally those things don’t come as shocks to people.  Being told that entering a relationship with Darren means a triad, or if already in a relationship with Darren and he’s decided that it’s now going to be a triad – that shit isn’t cool.

We are constantly told that lasting relationships require compromise, but polyamorists don’t agree, which makes their lifestyle – depending on your view – either the purest extension of personal liberty or rank individualism.

For his part, Darren Ramsey says he doesn’t “play the compromise game. Compromise is a game of lose-lose … it means both people have to give something up in order to get very little,” he explains. “I firmly believe everybody can have everything they want.”

Just no.  Seriously all lasting relationships require compromise, whether they are polyamorous or monogamous.  Being human and living in society requires compromise.  Compromise is not a lose-lose game if you walk into that conversation ready to listen to what the other person has to say and what they need.  If you have your partner’s best interests at heart then you can generally find a compromise that will work.  It might be a short-term setback to your plans, but taking other people’s desires and needs into account would suggest that you care about them.  Not taking their desires and needs into account would suggest you don’t.

Again, there will be times when people refuse to negotiate and compromise and for me, that’s a deal breaker.  Fail to negotiate in good faith with me, with the aim of finding or working towards a solution that means we can all get our needs and desires met in some mutually satisfying form – I’m unlikely to be in or enter into a relationship with you.

To suggest that all compromise is bad is doing polyamory wrong.

To most people, the idea of seeing their partner have sex, or even receive an intimate cuddle, from someone else is as appealing as being skinned alive with a blunt potato peeler. But polyamorists insist that jealousy is a pointless emotion that can be worked through and dealt with, if not completely cured.

“I don’t know that you would find a child born that feels jealousy. It is a learnt behaviour,” says Ramsey. “We didn’t pop out of the womb saying, ‘Damn that next kid coming along.’ It just doesn’t happen that way.” Parents of warring small children may disagree, but Ramsey is insistent. “Jealousy is an indicator that something else is going on … it is coming from a place of insecurity.”

This on the other hand is great.  One of the first questions I get asked is how I cope with other people sleeping with “my man”, or how “my man” copes with me sleeping with other people.  Even my two GPs asked me this question when I outed myself to them.  Jealousy is a multi-layered emotional response that can be worked through.  Mine typically involves insecurity and once I can figure out what I am feeling insecure about I can seek reassurance and work through that.  The other bit of my jealousy is far more envy or, “I want to be doing that!”.  So I go off and do that, or ask myself if I really want to do that, and then do it if I do.

And now because I have two great poly blog posts that I entire agree with, I’m going to put all the bits up that I massively agree with and comment on them as appropriate.  These two posts tie in neatly with The Age article, so it all fits together neatly.  From Heartless Bitches, “Poly People I Can Do Without“:

Now I have nothing against casual sex and the people who enjoy and practice it *responsibly*. The “poly” people I can do with out are the ones who want to be able to do WHAT they want, WHEN they want, with no regard or consideration for the feelings of their other “partners”. And I’m not talking about the occasional time that we ALL do something that we didn’t realize would adversely affect a partner – I’m talking about people who USE other people for their own gratification and don’t CARE if something they do is hurtful to another. They think that by using the word “poly” to describe their behavior, they can somehow legitimize discourteous, disrespectful, careless, and self-centered behavior. The worst of these types will be courteous and considerate so long as nothing impinges on THEIR want of the moment, leading a partner to trust and believe in them. But the moment they want something that might adversely affect a partner, consideration and caring are conveniently discarded as unnecessary burdens. And any bad feelings a partner may experience as a result of this behavior are also treated as excessive burdens which THEY don’t want to have to deal with.

For me this ties into the comment made by Darren that compromise is lose-lose.  I’m sure that Darren would be shocked to see his comment interpreted this way though.

“Responsible” means being honest and mature enough to sometimes change your plans (delay gratification) to show care and consideration for how your actions might affect a partner.

Responsible” means telling your partner the TRUTH when you are having uncomfortable feelings instead of encouraging them to do something, and then complaining that it hurt you after the fact.

“Responsible” means being HONEST and not having a hidden agenda. It means talking to your partner OPENLY about expectations. It means telling your partner the same thing you are telling other people.

Oh goodness all of this.  The number of stories I have heard from people regarding partners who say they are happy with one thing and then complaining about how much it hurt them later, and the number of stories I’ve head about people who won’t compromise because they want it and they want it now, and the number of times I’ve heard people discuss their hidden agenda.

I’m tired of people who pay lip service to “personal responsibility”, saying that they “take responsibility” for their actions, but then refuse to do anything about any resulting pain or damage those actions cause. What they are REALLY saying is, “I take responsibility for the EXECUTION of my actions, but I take no responsibility for the EFFECT or RESULTS my actions may have on you or others.” And there you have it folks, Personal Responsibility Lite ™. Tastes Great, less filling! All of the lip service, none of the work! Any expectation of true acceptance of responsibility will have them parading themselves around as “victims” of your unreasonable expectations.

This type of shit is another deal breaker for me.  If you do something that hurt me, and refuse to acknowledge that your actions resulted in me being hurt, then yeah…

I’m tired of double standards: People who want consideration for THEIR feelings from other partners, but then don’t want to make the same concessions and consideration for OTHERS. Someone who identifies as “poly” actually said to me “Taking your feelings into consideration means I wouldn’t get to do what I WANT”.

This is not about changing fundamental behavior and sacrificing basic NEEDS – this is about people who cannot delay gratification for a WANT long enough to take someone else’s feelings about their behavior into consideration. They will imply that *any* expectation of consideration for how their actions might hurt someone else is “manipulative” and “controlling”. And I’m not talking about mono/poly paradigm issues here, I’m talking about people who call themselves “polyamourous” and have “poly” partners, but think any expectation of modifying behavior to take someone else’s feelings into consideration is unreasonable. They call themselves “polyamourous” as an attempt to legitimize ego-centric behavior, or because they can’t trust themselves to be honest or faithful. This doesn’t meet MY definition of “responsible” and it sure as hell doesn’t do anything with the “amoury” half of “polyamoury”… Ironically, these are the FIRST people to get upset when someone ELSE doesn’t take THEIR feelings into account. And if you can’t trust yourself, what the HELL are you doing encouraging other people to trust and believe in you?

Really no further comment.

Polyamoury – the loving kind, isn’t an easy road to travel. It requires immense amounts of communication, honesty, trust and WORK. For me, I would add that “Safe Poly People” are people who don’t AVOID problems by dishonesty and betrayal of trust, but have the strength of character to work (and yes, suffer) THROUGH a problem in order to solve it. They don’t copout and blame their inability to deal with a problem on the other person’s “anger” or because they “fear confrontation”. They don’t blame others for their fears, problems and mistakes. And they don’t play the “martyr”.

And yes this.  If you believe that the immense amounts of communication, honesty, trust and work are likely to burn you out or be taxing, perhaps poly isn’t for you.

Sex Geek writes a great article on which I borrowed a couple of points earlier in this piece, titled “the problem with polynormativity”:

The problem—and it’s hardly surprising—is that the form of poly that’s getting by far the most airtime is the one that’s as similar to traditional monogamy as possible, because that’s the least threatening to the dominant social order.

At its most basic, I’d say some people’s poly looks good to the mainstream, and some people’s doesn’t. The mainstream loves to think of itself as edgy, sexy and cool. The mainstream likes to co-opt whatever fresh trendy thing it can in order to convince itself that it’s doing something new and exciting, because that sells magazines, event tickets, whatever. The mainstream likes to do all this while erecting as many barriers as it can against real, fundamental value shifts that might topple the structure of How the World Works. In this case, that structure is the primacy of the couple.

The media presents a clear set of poly norms, and overwhelmingly showcases people who speak about and practice polyamory within those norms. I’ll refer to this as polynormativity.

1. Polyamory starts with a couple. … Polyamory is presented as a thing that a couple does, as opposed to a relationship philosophy and approach that individual people ascribe to, as a result of which they may end up as part of a couple but—because poly!—may just as well be partnered with six people, or part of a triad, or single, or what have you.

Now I agree with the first part of the cut I’ve put here and I do have a comment on the first of the four norms that make up polynormativity.  I wonder (based on my own experience) if poly is presented as a thing that a couple does, because so many couples (often married) find out about it, talk about it, and then decide to transition from monogamy to polyamory.  Clearly the two people in the couple are individual people, but so many people think of a couple as a unit – so even with the transition from monogamy to polyamory, the rest of the world would see the couple unit.  It’s not a good reason for polynormativity, but it might be why this exists.

2. Polyamory is hierarchical. Following from the norm that poly begins (and presumably ends) with two, we must of course impose a hierarchy on whatever else happens. Else, how would we know who the actual real couple is in all this? If you add more people, it might get blurry and confusing! Thus, the idea of primary relationships and secondary relationships emerges. This is what I call hierarchical poly.

“Primary” implies top-level importance. “Secondary” implies less importance. Within this model, it’s completely normal to put one person’s feelings ahead of another’s as a matter of course. Let me say this again. It’s completely normal, even expected, that one person’s feelings, desires and opinions will matter more than another’s. It is normal for one person to be flown in first class and the other in economy as a matter of course, based on their respective status alone.

And this is why I don’t have a hierarchy of my partners, because ew.  My partners are my partners and I love them all.  I don’t rank them over each other, and even suggesting I do so is gross.

I can understand why people do this when they first transition from monogamy to polyamory, it’s a scary ride that requires the rewriting of the social handbook of relationships, but to keep doing it after you’ve settled into polyamory suggests to me that you care less about the other people in your life than the one you wandered into polyamory with.  And that’s not as cool.

With that in mind, I will add a plea here directed at poly people: if you don’t mean to create or imply a hierarchy, don’t use “primary” and “secondary” as shorthand. … Instead of “primary,” talk about your domestic partner, your long-term partner, the person you spend most of your time with, your husband or wife—whatever applies. Instead of “secondary,” talk about your occasional date, your casual lover, your boyfriend or girlfriend or secret agent lover man, your annual long-distance affair, your new squeeze with whom you’re just figuring things out, or whatever other terms explain what you’re up to. None of these are about hierarchy. They’re just relationship descriptors. … On the flip side, don’t just drop using the words “primary” and “secondary” in order to look less hierarchical while still making relationship decisions in a very firmly hierarchy-based manner. No false advertising in either direction, okay?

Let me clarify my position here just in case. There is nothing wrong with serious, long-term, committed domestic partnership. There is also nothing wrong with dating casually, and feeling just fine about hanging out with a sweetie way less often than that sweetie hangs out with their spouse, say. Sometimes, a relationship is just not destined to be long-term, or domestic, or local, or involve meeting each other’s parents. This is not a bad thing. It’s just a thing. It’s also not the same thing as being “secondary.” I am not playing with semantics here. I’m talking about frameworks for viewing relationships, making decisions, coming up with rules—more on that in the next point—and treating real, live human beings.

This is the wassname to my previous point.  I really like relationship descriptors.  I say I live with my two husbands and my girlfriend lives with her husband.  I say that I also live with my husband’s boyfriend.  Some of us have new relationships, casual relationships, smushes, friends with benefits, relationships which are becoming serious, relationships which are ending, crushes, etc.

3. Polyamory requires a lot of rules. If we start out with a couple, and we want to keep that couple firmly in its place as “primary” with all others as “secondary,” well, of course we need to come up with a bunch of rules to make sure it all goes according to plan, right? Right.

This is a control-based approach to polyamory that, while not exclusive to couple-based primary-secondary models, is almost inevitable within them. Rules are implicitly set by the “primaries,” the “poly couple”—at least that’s how most discussions of rules are presented. Some books and websites will tell you (“you” presumably being someone who’s part of a currently-monogamous, about-to-be-poly couple) that it’s really super important not only to have rules, but also to set them out before you go out and do this polyamory thing. If ever you wanted confirmation of the very clearly secondary status of “secondary” partners, this is it: the rules get set before they even show up, and they have no say in ‘em. Again… we think this is progressive?

Again if you are in the process of transitioning from monogamy to polyamory you are likely to have rules because of all the scripts you have to rewrite.  And these rules will be unfair on people you initially get involved with.  The lesson is to a) come to the realisation that these rules are unfair; and b) find sufficient trust in your existing relationship to relax the rules.

4. Polyamory is heterosexual(-ish). Also, cute and young and white. Also new and exciting and sexy! This element of polynormativity doesn’t relate directly to the other three, but since we are talking about media representation here, it’s well worth mentioning. Polyamory is resolutely presented in the media as a thing heterosexuals do, except sometimes for bisexual women who have a primary male partner and secondary female partners. It is exceedingly rare for lesbian, gay or queer poly configurations to be included in mainstream representations of polyamory, even though LGBQ circles are absolute hotbeds of polyamorous activity, and LGBQ people have a long and illustrious history of non-monogamy, recent enthusiasm about marriage notwithstanding. Go to just about any LGBQ gathering—even the most mainstream—and you can’t swing a cat without hitting at least half a dozen people who are doing some sort of non-monogamy, from regular “monogamish” bathhouse adventures to full-on poly families. It’s so common that it feels (gasp!) normal.

But if the mainstream media were to give too many column inches to LGBQ polyamory, then people might think poly is a gay thing, and that wouldn’t sell nearly as many magazines. So the typical polynormative hype article goes something like, “Meet Bob and Sue. They’re a poly couple. They’re primary partners and they date women together.” Or “they each date women on the side” or “they have sex parties in their basement” or sometimes, though more rarely, “Bob dates women and Sue dates men.” Mainstream representations rarely break the “one penis per party” rule, which is exactly as offensive as it sounds. You don’t get Bob dating Dave, or Sue dating Tim and Jim and John while Bob stays home with a movie. Because whoa! That’s just going too far. I mean, playing around with women is one thing, but if you bring a second man into the picture, don’t the two guys need to, like, duke it out? Prove who’s manlier? Because evolutionary psychology! Because nature! Because when there is a penis (and only one penis) involved it is real sex and that means a real relationship and we must have a real relationship to have a primary-secondary structure and we must have a primary-secondary structure to be a poly couple! (Hmm. So maybe this part does relate to my other three points after all.)

I’m happy at least in the media in Australia, although we’ve had mostly white people being interviewed, there is a large age range.  Yes they’re all conventionally attractive, but at least we’ve had a diversity of ages.

It’s late, I need to sleep and if I’ve left anything out, or haven’t made sufficient sense, let me know and I’ll write any addendums that need writing.

Related Posts:

The cold linkspam of our discontent (June 2013)

I’ve found many wonderful things to read in May, so I will share them with you.  I’ve also switched over to Newsblur, which has a sharing functionality, now that Google Reader is on it’s way out.  It is a paid service (around $26 per year), but awesome.  If you are on Newsblur, look me up, I’m under bluebec.

And onto the articles.  First up this month is “The Suicide Epidemic*obvious trigger warning*:

The fact is, self-harm has become a worldwide concern. This emerged in the new Global Burden of Disease report, published in The Lancet this past December. It’s the largest ever effort to document what ails, injures, and exterminates the species. But allow me to save you the reading. Humankind’s biggest health problem is humankind.

Soraya Chemaly writes in the Huffington Post, “The Problem with ‘Boys Will Be Boys’*trigger warning for discussion around rape*:

I know it’s a lurid metaphor, but I taught my daughter the preschool block precursor of don’t “get raped” and this child, Boy #1, did not learn the preschool equivalent of “don’t rape.

Not once did his parents talk to him about invading another person’s space and claiming for his own purposes something that was not his to claim. Respect for my daughter and her work and words was not something he was learning. It was, to them, some kind of XY entitlement. How much of the boy’s behavior in coming years would be excused in these ways, be calibrated to meet these expectations and enforce the “rules” his parents kept repeating?

There was another boy who, similarly, decided to knock down her castle one day. When he did it his mother took him in hand, explained to him that it was not his to destroy, asked him how he thought my daughter felt after working so hard on her building and walked over with him so he could apologize. That probably wasn’t much fun for him, but he did not do it again.

Some good news from the Climate Spectator, “Australian CO2 emissions hit 10-year low“:

Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions from electricity generation have fallen to a 10-year low as coal-fired power slumped to its lowest level in a decade, a new report says.

At the same time, the share of renewable energy in the National Electricity Market (NEM) has soared beyond 12 per cent and looks set to continue rising.

In its latest quarterly emissions outlook, energy and carbon research firm RepuTex found coal power made up 74.8 per cent of the NEM in the three months ended in March – its lowest point in 10 years.

Coal was at more than 85 per cent of the NEM four years ago, when wind made up just half a per cent of the overall mix.

Today, wind generation is at 3.8 per cent, hydro 8.7 per cent and gas at 12.7 per cent of the NEM.

Alex White at The Guardian writes, “Is the ‘carbon tax’ the reason for the PM’s low popularity, or is it Murdoch?“:

The apocalyptic predictions made by Tony Abbott did not come to pass. The sky didn’t fall. Mining and manufacturing towns weren’t wiped off the map. Regional airlines didn’t double their prices. The carbon price wrecking ball, python strike and cobra squeeze has not impacted Australia’s interest rates, employment levels or inflation.

Support for the carbon price, and opposition to it, narrowed and equalised.

What didn’t happen was an increase in Labor’s vote. Throughout 2011 and 2012, while the carbon price’s stocks fell, Labor’s also remained low. From 1 July 2012, the two numbers decoupled. Labor’s polling remained stuck, while opposition to the carbon price declined and support increased.

This month, we passed an unprecedented milestone: global carbon levels exceeded levels not seen in over 3 million years. The carbon price in Australia has contributed to a 10-year low in carbon emissions. Few in Australia have noticed either turning point. Meanwhile, conservative state governments have quietly been dismantling carbon reduction policies established by the previous Labor governments, wilfully ignoring warnings by the scientific community of the risks.

Amanda Marcotte at The Raw Story writes, “Fringe Misogynists Expose Themselves To The Houston Chronicle“:

That’s why I have mixed feelings about the Houston Chronicle covering the “controversy” over the existence of Women in Secularism. My concern is that the inevitable process of quoting people from “both sides” creates a false equivalence, much like having climate scientists “debate” global warming denialists creates the illusion that there’s a controversy, when in fact it’s more akin to a struggle between reasonable people and irrationalists with an agenda. You see that problem in this piece. The feminist voices are, by and large, mainstream voices of actual experts who are supported by the mainstream secularist community. The anti-feminists are fringe characters who run hate sites and have had the Southern Poverty Law Center look into them. There’s not an authentic conflict here, but more a story about how normal people going about important business are being harassed by fringe characters with nothing of value to say.

Steven Petrow at The New York Times writes, “What Is the Right Way to Come Out as Bisexual at Work?“:

Over the years I’ve frequently heard from my bi friends that it’s harder for them to come out than it is for those of us who are gay or lesbian because of the enduring myths about being bisexual. Stereotypes persist, and many people think that identifying as bi means 1) you’re going through a phase, 2) you’re promiscuous or 3) you’re really gay but not telling the truth. In fact, many of those in our generation of L.G.B.T. people did claim to be bisexual, when we were gay or lesbian all along but not yet ready to acknowledge it even to ourselves. That’s not deceitful; it’s part of coming to terms with your sexuality.

These old stereotypes don’t die easily. They are so alive and well, in fact, that when I posed your question on my Facebook page I was shocked by some of the venomous responses. It was the first time any topic has caused the Facebook algorithm to hide posts because of the language, and I’ve had to edit the remarks heavily to let even these few appear here…

Andy Palmer at The Limping Chicken writes about Matt Dixon’s experience in “I had to tell my dad he was going to die, because he wasn’t given a sign language interpreter”:

Matt remembers how the cancer centre handled the issue of booking further interpreters for his dad. “They asked me to do it and I said I would but only if there were no interpreters available. For all the scans, blood tests and the chemotherapy that followed they never ever booked an interpreter for him again – even though written on the front of Dad’s file, in big red felt pen, it said: PROFOUNDLY DEAF.”

“At the first chemotherapy appointment my dad was all smiles. I asked the receptionist who the interpreter was and she replied ‘Oh, really sorry, we can’t get one.’ I just had to go with the flow. I was used to it from my life communicating for my family and I didn’t know about the Equality Act back then, all that I was bothered about was my dad.”

“I asked them to book an interpreter for the next appointment but they didn’t and that next appointment was for the results of a scan following the first chemotherapy treatment. It was an important meeting to see if the cancer had spread or not. I relayed to my dad, acting once again as his interpreter, that the cancer had not grown.”

Anna P guest posts at Feministe, “How to be an ally with bisexuals“:

  1. Keep in mind that bisexuality exists when considering someone’s possible sexual orientation. If a person is in a same-sex relationship, don’t assume they’re gay. If a person is in an opposite-sex relationship, don’t assume they’re straight. If a person once dated a man but is now dating a woman, or vice versa, don’t assume one of those relationships was a sham and the other represents their true orientation. If a woman is in a sexual relationship with a man, don’t assume anything she does with a woman is just a show put on for his benefit (by the way, don’t forget polyamory exists too.)
  2. Don’t tell someone they’re not really bisexual. You don’t know their feelings. Even if someone has only dated men (or women), it doesn’t mean they’re not also attracted to the other sex.

Charlie Jane Anders at io9 writes, “They mocked her “science fantasy.” Then she wrote Empire Strikes Back.“:

Leigh Brackett wrote the first script draft of Star Wars: The Empire Strikes back, and her contributions helped make the saga epic.

But before Brackett had a major hand in creating the best Star Wars movie, she was a science fiction novelist in the 1940s, writing a slew of space adventure novels with titles like The Starmen and Alpha Centauri or Die!. People called her the Queen of Space Opera — and it was not always a compliment.

At that time, space opera (like Star Wars) was looked down upon as less worthy of appreciation than other types of pulp fiction, including other types of science fiction. Brackett also wrote a lot of pulp crime fiction, and had co-written the screenplay for The Big Sleepwith William Faulkner. But she chose to spend a lot of her time writing these despised novels.

David Wong at Cracked writes, “The 5 Ugly Lessons Hiding in Every Superhero Movie“:

Superman’s awesome crystal fortress in the arctic isn’t called Fort CrystalPunch or Castle SuperPenis or Superman’s Ice Hole. It’s called the freaking Fortress of Solitude. Yes, you’re immortal and impossibly strong and can shoot lasers from your eyes, clearly you need a place to be alone, where you can quietly weep and write your poetry about how the world is a cruel, frozen wasteland.

But solitude is a requirement in these stories. Tony Stark literally has to have his secretary perform heart gadget surgery because, in his own words, “I don’t have anyone but you.”

Jason Bailey at Flavorwire writes, “Guess What: Hollywood’s ‘Bridesmaids’ Revolution Never Happened“:

Hey, remember back when Bridesmaids came out, and everybody was all, “It’s your social responsibility to support female-driven comedy,” and then it was a hit, so yay for funny ladies? And then The Hunger Games came out, and everybody was all, “It’s your social responsibility to support a female-driven blockbuster,” and then it was a hit, so yay for lady ass-kickers? Well, as it turns out, none of that mattered a lick, because according to a study released yesterday by the USC Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism, female representation in popular films is at its lowest level in five years. So thanks for nothing, Hollywood.

For those who are Goodies fans like me, a bit of history on the BT Tower (famously knocked over by Twinkle in Kitten Kong), an article written by Joe Fay at The Register, “BT Tower is just a relic? Wrong: It relays 18,000hrs of telly daily“:

Moving on to the present day, the tower is arguably still the most important communications nerve centre in the UK, but this has little to do with its original purpose.

It started life as The Post Office Tower: a radio mast designed as a hub for a national microwave network that was seen as the future of telecoms.

It was officially opened in 1965, four years after construction started. According to a wonderful 1970 brochure BT gave us, the spire – later renamed the BT Tower – was expected to provide four microwave paths, carrying “150,000 simultaneous telephone conversations or 100 both-way television channels”.

Cliff Pervocracy at The Pervocracy writes, “What I Mean When I Say I’m Sex-Positive“:

I’m sex-positive!

And I’m realizing that’s a painfully ambiguous term.  I’ve seen people use it to mean everything from “not viewing sex as inherently evil” to “insisting that everyone should have tons of orgasms and it’ll solve all their problems.”  You can see how people using the first definition could have some seriously unproductive arguments with people thinking they’re using the second.

About the “orgasms for everyone!” thing.  It’s not entirely a strawman.  I once saw a presentation by Annie Sprinkle (who clearly wrote her own Wikipedia page) where she basically argued that we would have world peace and feminist utopia if everyone in all the armies just fucked and had orgasms instead.   It’s superficially sweet-sounding–yay, pleasure!–but there’s some really obvious problems.  Not everyone can have orgasms, not everyone wants orgasms, and there are lots of people who have fabulous orgasms but they’re still assholes.

Over at The Hawkeye Initiative, “Special Guest Edition: The Hawkeye Initiative IRL!“:

work with an all-female team of data scientists, in the gaming industry. This makes me the professional equivalent of Amelia Earhart riding the Loch Ness Monster.

I love my job. Our company in particular is great. Firstly, our game (HAWKEN) is beautiful and people love it. Secondly, half of our executive branch is female. Half of them are punk rock, and all of them are badassed. Our gender awareness standards, compared to the industry at large, are top shelf. We are talking Amelia Earhart in Atlantis, at a five star resort, getting a mani-pedi from Jensen Ackles. I have it good.

For the last six months of my tenure at Meteor Entertainment, there has been only one thing I did not love about my job.

Felicia Day writes, “Star Trek Movie: SPOILERZZZZ“:

Where are the women?  The strong women?  The women we’d like to see in 200 years?  Where are they in this world?  They certainly aren’t around the roundtable when the Starfleet are learning about Khan (there might have been one in that scene, if so that extra was not cut to in any significant manner to be notable.)  In the scene where Kirk gets his ship back and the admiral is having a meeting with “important” people around a table later, I failed to see ONE WOMAN AROUND THAT TABLE, ALL MOSTLY WHITE MEN IMPLIED TO BE MAKING IMPORTANT DECISIONS TOGETHER.  Yes, these are just scenes with extras, but seriously, in the future not one woman over 40 is in charge in this world?!  How can that happen?

For main characters, Uhura had a FEW nice scenes (as a vehicle to humanize Spock mostly), but that other woman character was the WORST damsel in distress ever.  I kept waiting for her turn, waiting for her to not be the victim, to be a bit cleverer, to add to the equation in a “yeah you go girl” way but no, she was there to be sufficiently sexy that Kirk would acknowledge her existence, to be pretty, to serve the plot.  I loved her bob.  That’s it.  What if she had been a less attractive woman, older, overweight?  A tomboy?  Wouldn’t have that been a tad more interesting choice?  Or at least give her a moment where she’s not a princess waiting to be saved.  From a director who is so amazing, who created wonderful female characters in Alias and Felicity, I was super bummed by this.  A woman character CAN exist without having to be sexually desired by the guy.  Oh, and she doesn’t have to be a lesbian either, OMG WHAT A SURPRISING IDEA!

Jane J Lee at National Geographic writes, “6 Women Scientists Who Were Snubbed Due to Sexism“:

Over the centuries, female researchers have had towork as “volunteer” faculty members, seen credit for significant discoveries they’ve made assigned to male colleagues, and been written out of textbooks.

They typically had paltry resources and fought uphill battles to achieve what they did, only “to have the credit attributed to their husbands or male colleagues,” said Anne Lincoln, a sociologist at Southern Methodist University in Texas, who studies biases against women in the sciences.

Today’s women scientists believe that attitudes have changed, said Laura Hoopes at Pomona College in California, who has written extensively on women in the sciences—”until it hits them in the face.” Bias against female scientists is less overt, but it has not gone away.

Here are six female researchers who did groundbreaking work—and whose names are likely unfamiliar for one reason: because they are women.

Saman Shad at SBS World News writes, “Comment: Why are we debating ‘blackface’ in 2013?“:

But the question remains are we throwing the word ‘racist’ around willy-nilly? I guess the same question can be asked for sexism. Can a guy at work no longer comment on his female colleague’s legs and say that she’s got great pins? No. It makes the woman feel uncomfortable, it casts her as an object. This is a base comparison but for some it can help to understand the same stands true when the word racist is said. If something you said makes an outdated assumption or objectifies a person of colour then it’s probably racist.

A video on ABC News of one of their news cadets who happens to be blind, and the accommodations the ABC has put in place to help her do her job.  Sadly the manager is a bit trope-y about how inspiring Nas Campanella is, and how a sighted person couldn’t possibly manage the way Nas can.  Sadly the video isn’t captioned (that I can see).

At [insert literary reference], “Why Do Men Keep Putting Me in the Girlfriend-Zone?“:

You know how it is, right, ladies? You know a guy for a while. You hang out with him. You do fun things with him—play video games, watch movies, go hiking, go to concerts. You invite him to your parties. You listen to his problems. You do all this because you think he wants to be your friend.

But then, then comes the fateful moment where you find out that all this time, he’s only seen you as a potential girlfriend. And then if you turn him down, he may never speak to you again. This has happened to me time after time: I hit it off with a guy, and, for all that I’ve been burned in the past, I start to think that this one might actually care about me as a person. And then he asks me on a date.

An interesting discussion in The Economist about “The plough and the now“, how farming techniques may have led to patriarchy:

FERNAND BRAUDEL, a renowned French historian, once described a remarkable transformation in the society of ancient Mesopotamia. Sometime before the end of the fifth millennium BC, he wrote, the fertile region between the Tigris and the Euphrates went from being one that worshipped “all-powerful mother goddesses” to one where it was “the male gods and priests who were predominant in Sumer and Babylon.” The cause of this move from matriarchy, Mr Braudel argued, was neither a change in law nor a wholesale reorganisation of politics. Rather, it was a fundamental change in the technology the Mesopotamians used to produce food: the adoption of the plough.

The plough was heavier than the tools formerly used by farmers. By demanding significantly more upper-body strength than hoes did, it gave men an advantage over women. According to Mr Braudel, women in ancient Mesopotamia had previously been in charge of the fields and gardens where cereals were grown. With the advent of the plough, however, farming became the work of men. A new paper* by Alberto Alesina and Nathan Nunn of Harvard University and Paola Giuliano of the University of California, Los Angeles, finds striking evidence that ancient agricultural techniques have very long-lasting effects.

Kameron Hurley at A Dribble of Ink has written, “‘We Have Always Fought’: Challenging the ‘Women, Cattle and Slaves’ Narrative“, possibly one of my favourite posts of this year, and certainly one which has reminded me I need to write two novels:

When I sat down with one of my senior professors in Durban, South Africa to talk about my Master’s thesis, he asked me why I wanted to write about women resistance fighters.

“Because women made up twenty percent of the ANC’s militant wing!” I gushed. “Twenty percent! When I found that out I couldn’t believe it. And you know – women have never been part of fighting forces –”

He interrupted me. “Women have always fought,” he said.

“What?” I said.

“Women have always fought,” he said. “Shaka Zulu had an all-female force of fighters. Women have been part of every resistance movement. Women dressed as men and went to war, went to sea, and participated actively in combat for as long as there have been people.”

And now to bra fitting (UK sizing used), Sam at A Thousand Angsty Whales, all pumping iron (best blog title ever) writes, “DO IT NOW: Guide to Proper Bra Fit and Measuring because Victoria Secret and La Senza and whatever are full of shit and you are definitely wearing the wrong size ok? ok“.

Ann Aguirre writes, “This week in SF“:

So yeah. The audience noticed. I had slightly better experiences at WorldCon and ArmadilloCon, but I suspect it wasn’t as bad because I was roaming around with Sharon Shinn, who has more power and cachet than I had at that time. But I still encountered more than my share of fans, who dismissed my work. At that point, I was disheartened, and I stopped attending SFF cons entirely. I decided I’d rather spend my travel money otherwise. To quote my wonderful friend, Lauren Dane, “If I want to feel bad about myself, I’ll go swimsuit shopping.” My professional work shouldn’t be impacted by my gender, my appearance, my religion, my sexuality, my skin tone, or any other factor. The fact that it is? Makes me so very sad. I’ve had readers and writers stare at my rack instead of my face while “teaching” me how to suck eggs.

I’ve been fighting this battle for five years now.

Marianne at xojane writes, “Go On And Call Me Fat; It’s True“:

There is something incredibly powerful about seeing the word “fat” in print (metaphorical though that print may be in a virtual environment) when it isn’t attached to pictures of headless fatties and headlines about my impending death — and how much I’m costing society just by existing. It’s almost like feeling that our culture doesn’t want to eradicate me and my body.

That’s not a message I get anywhere else.

I use the word “fat” a whole hell of a lot. I use it so often that the predictive text on my cell phone inserts “fat” even when I mean “day” — which leads to tweets like “What I am going to do on this beautiful fat?”

Some friends and I even call each other “Fatty” — as in, “Hey, Fatty! Come eat this food with me.” Or whatever. Fatties do a lot of different things.

Stephanie Pappas at Scientific American writes, “New Sexual Revolution: Polyamory May Be Good for You“:

“People in these relationships really communicate. They communicate to death,” said Bjarne Holmes, a psychologist at Champlain College in Vermont. All of that negotiation may hold a lesson for the monogamously inclined, Holmes told LiveScience.

“They are potentially doing quite a lot of things that could turn out to be things that if people who are practicing monogamy did more of, their relationships would actually be better off,” Holmes said.

And finally a storify of Twitter comments (all positive) made during and after a talk by Anita Sarkeesian from Feminist Frequency regarding online harassment.

Related Posts:

When it’s not about you

*trigger warning for discussion of rape*

So this is for those people who fail to consider other people before looking for their own emotional resolution.  Those people who demand closure or their emotions handled when the epicentre of something bad happened to someone else they know.  I do get that generally we are self centred individuals who think about our own suffering before others, but we should perhaps consider not opening our mouths when someone else has every reason to be suffering or grieving more than we do ourselves.

It is not the job of the person/s who are in the epicentre of some terrible event to consider the feelings of other people who are peripheral to the epicentre.  The epicentre sucks, and the concentric circles of closeness from that event also suck, but they suck less and less than the epicentre.

Let me give some examples, one that I’ve experienced myself even.  When a partner of 18 months left me to be monogamous with his other partner, someone I had hoped to receive some sympathy from when I told them the news was upset with me because I didn’t think of her feelings in telling her this news.  She expected me to sympathise with her over the loss of a potential relationship she might have had versus the actual relationship I’d lost.  She was angry that I didn’t sympathise with her, even though I was completely unaware of her potential relationship.  She’d made it all about her and failed to consider where the epicentre of hurt was in this instance.

Another scenario, one I’ve heard more than once, when a relationship breaks down and someone not in the relationship exclaims their disappointment at the relationship breaking down, wanting some kind of support for their pain over hearing that the relationship is over, without any consideration for what the person is telling them feels about it.

Just like when someone discloses to you that they’ve been raped, the focus should not be on the listener’s feelings about the whole issue:

Maintain the focus on her. This is tricky, because each rape victim is unique and the response they need from you may vary from person to person. I have in the past said not to react with anger, because that puts the victim in the position of having to talk someone down from committing murder or assault, but I’ve since heard from rape victims who felt that anger in response to their stories was helpful and cathartic. So I will amend my earlier statement to say that expressing emotion, even strong emotion, is probably fine, but do it while remembering that this moment isn’t about you so much as it is about the victim. Communication is very valuable here: “I’m going to kill him!” is very very unlikely to be helpful, but saying “I know this isn’t about me, but I’m just so furious at him. Is there anything I can do for you?” is one way of expressing strong emotion while still affirming that you are there to help the victim, rather than she being there to talk you down from homicide or console you at being confronted with rape culture*. [ana mardoll’s ramblings]

So, if it isn’t about you, don’t make it about you.  Be there for the person at the epicentre of tragedy, because if that was you, you’d want exactly that.  Don’t make the person/s at the epicentre have to care for you and take time away from processing their own emotions and reactions about the tragedy, don’t give them more work in having to care about you.

This has been your friendly PSA for the week.

Related Posts:

Bigotry masqurading as rational arguments

It’s not often I bother to click on a link tweeted by ABC Religion and Ethics because far too often I find myself suffering serious eye-roll, if not rage.  Sometimes they have articles worth reading, today’s effort by Roger Scruton and Phillip Blond (two UK writers) was not one of them.

The article was florid and pretentious, using language and terms that many people would struggle with, but the worst thing is that the article was masquerading as a balanced view on marriage, which instead came across as sexist, gender essentialist and a bit homo, bi and trans* phobic.  I suspect that most people would have been put off by the language use, I almost was, and perhaps for my rage levels I should have let myself be – curse my stubbornness.

Continue reading Bigotry masqurading as rational arguments

Related Posts:

Building a community of the future

*trigger warning – discussion of rape and other violence*

I have this idea.  I’m not sure if it would work, or even be possible, but I’d like to try it out – sadly control groups and experimental groups are lacking.

A little background might help I guess, because what I’m asking for is people’s opinions and ideas as to whether my idea is feasible, whether they’ve seen anything else similar anywhere else, and overall whether I should push this as a form of community engagement.

I’m a member of a polyamorous community in Victoria (Australia).  There has been a lot of discussion recently about how to ensure that the community remains safe and what (if any) role the committee of the incorporated organisation play in that.  There is clearly a desire for clarity around the committee’s role and what the community can expect – but this isn’t the discussion I want here, this discussion is for my idea of creating a safer community.

If the leaders of a community (whether elected official leaders or other identified leaders) expressed clear opposition to unsafe behaviours and encouraged the community to openly and safely discuss how those unsafe behaviours have affected them personally (with no mention of perpetrators) in their lives, would that create a community were those who engaged in those behaviours would not feel welcome?

That’s nice and complicated, let me break it down to a specific example.  If the committee/leaders stated that rape and other sexual crimes are behaviours that are not tolerated in the poly community, and the community was encouraged to have ongoing discussions regarding the effect that rape has had on their lives, without naming he perpetrator because this is the space for those who have experienced rape or other sex crimes, would those who believe that rape is no big deal have their minds changed, and would those who have raped or who will rape be less likely to remain in the community?  Could a community be built that does not blame victims for the crimes against them but instead supports them and talks about the damage that silence and victim blaming causes?

We don’t talk about violence against others nearly often enough in the community spaces I inhabit.  We do not express our distaste, our displeasure, our repulsion, our abhorrence against what is done by some to others.  This culture of silence often means it is easy for people to be unaware of the extent of the harm that violence causes, and also how wide-spread some forms of violence are.  If those of my community, who evidently felt safe to do so, stood up and told our stories of violence, those who don’t know would most likely be shocked at how common such things are.  I’d want the leaders (elected or generally respected) to be very clear that no one invites crimes to be committed against them and that any form of victim blaming would not be tolerated.

I feel, in an ideal world, that this could work, that a community could start to talk about the harm that violence causes, and make it a very unwelcome environment for those individuals that participate in forms of violence against others – because their viewpoints that their behaviour is ok would be challenged by people who think it is not.

I’d love other opinions on this however.

Related Posts:

Link Spam – Early March edition

Hello readers, I have joys of posts to share with you and then to blog about something else, this just closes the tabs I’ve had opened for the past couple of weeks.

First up is a post by China Mieville on the Belgium’s recent court ruling to not ban Tintin in the Congo.

ii) One can insist that the book’s attitudes ‘reflect its time’, as the court held.

There are two interesting points about this ultra-common defence for every undeniably racist (sexist, homophobic, &c) text in existence. The first is that it is historically bogus. Such ideas, like all ideas, were – are – contested. Certainly & obviously the mainstream shifts, the balance of forces alters, but the implicit or explicit claim that there were no dissident voices on supremacist agendas is a lie. To claim that everyone talked like Tintin about the Congo back in the day is (whatever other serious political arguments we may have with them) to slander, say, Felicien Challaye, Albert Londres, the French Socialist movement that declared at its 1907 conference that colonialism ‘relies on violent conquest and institutionalises the subjection of Asiatic and African peoples’.

The second point is that even if these attitudes do ‘reflect their time’ in the sense of reflecting a then-more-mainstream agenda, so the fuck what? The point about attitudes is that they change, in response to struggle, to a battle for ideas. The question here is whether or not Tintin au Congo is racist. Which it is. That may perhaps in part be because white supremacism was less contested back then – just as well we’re not back then, then, isn’t it? & that instead we live in now, when the resistance of those deemed unable to add 2 & 2 has forced the recognition that this kind of shit is shit. These days a ‘collective synapse’ should kick in ‘forged by mass movements … that have forced a lot of people, particularly white straight men, to have a clue.’

Next is a post by Franklin Veaux on Radical Honesty, which neatly dovetails into my post recently on “Responsibility“:

The folks I have met to advocate Radical Honesty tend to fetishize blunt, unvarnished, raw communication, at the expense of compassion or of any sort of concern for the emotional response of the people to whom they are speaking. Like the main character in Bones, they tend to display a lack of empathy toward their fellow human beings that, from the outside, borders on active hostility.

And that’s unfortunate, because it means that conversations about Radical Honesty almost always end up being framed in terms of “Is honesty good, or do we need little white lies and other small deceptions in order to make civilization go?” The debate gets set in terms of honesty vs. dishonesty, and that’s a damn shame.

Honesty without compassion is rubbish. The question should not be framed as “Which is better, honesty or dishonesty?” but rather “How can we strive for absolute honesty in a framework of respect, compassion, kindness, and sincerity?” All too often, when the question is framed as Radical Honesty vs. The Little White Lie, the only compassionate answer is The Little White Lie, because the philosophy of Radical Honesty–at least as I’ve seen it practiced–treats compassion with disdain, or even contempt.

And then Margaret Cho with her beautiful post, “You are not ugly.  Don’t make videos“:

I thought I was so ugly for so long and I wasted so much of my life on this dumb notion. I punished myself and avoided my reflection in mirrors and any windows. I would see myself reflected back and I would look away, trying to pretend I didn’t exist because I hated myself so much. I hated the way I looked and it started early on. My father found a school project from 1st grade, where I had written on a photo of myself that I looked like a flat faced mummy – and firstly, how does a kid that young know what a flat faced mummy is and secondly, I cry at my own self judgement and thirdly, I was such a cute kid. Imagine my face and then miniaturize it in your mind until the age of 6. I know, fucking adorable.

One day I looked at myself and I thought, shit, this is it. this is what I look like. No amount of self hatred is going to change my appearance. I am who I am. I am stuck with this and I have to love it or else I am going to die early from my own suffering and idea that I got shortchanged in the looks department.

And finally from Geek Feminism, “Why do we watch Doctor Who?: A fan scholar’s perspective“:

Yes, the female characters are secondary. But that’s a production decision. And fans don’t generally let production decisions get in the way when there is still something to scavenge from the show. This is the beautiful thing about fans: they don’t let creators tell them how they get to experience the show. I mean, the creators often do tell us how to experience the show (*cough, cough,* George Lucas), but fans don’t comply. And I would say that fans don’t just ignore the voices from on high that directly tell them “You can’t read it that way,” but they also ignore plot details, the structure of casts, and other elements in shows that tell them how to read it indirectly. So even though the companions are definitionally sidekicks to the Doctor, plenty of women will still read those companions as the heroes. They’ll still read the Doctor as a genderqueer character they can relate to. And they can do all that while complaining that Doctor Who needs a lady protagonist every once in a damn while.

 

Related Posts:

For my exes

*Trigger warning for discussion of rape and relationship abuse*

 

So, dear exes… these songs are all for you.

For the pain, heartache, and torture you put me through during and after our relationship by being a complete and utter arsehat.  For dumping me so you could be monogamous with your other girlfriend because she’d earlier dumped you and you’d never been dumped before.  For so completely misunderstanding me and never asking me why I did something or what I was thinking.  For emotionally abusing me for years, treating me like dirt, because the power got you off.  For raping me and not listening to me say “no” and then being faux apologetic afterwards, “Let’s not do that again”, and then at the next opportunity pressuring me into having sex with you again.  For failing to communicate effectively with me and instead just dumping announcements and changes on me, expecting that I’d be completely fine with them.

These are the breakup songs which speak to me and help me keep going on, the songs that help me know that I did nothing to deserve the pain that I went through, and that I sing with the other strong women (lyrics linked to in song titles).

The first is by Paul Mac, featuring Ngaiire, called, “It’s not me, it’s you“.  I hadn’t actually seen the film clip to this song until tonight, and it’s awesome.

  

The second is by a relatively unknown (at least in Australia) indy band called Elizabeth and the Catapults – called “Momma’s Boy“.  Because I relate to this song so much (and I like this song but it isn’t specifically breakup related).

 

The third is by Goyte, “Somebody that I used to know” featuring Kimbra, because I relate quite strongly to Kimbra’s part.

 

 

The fourth is Basement Jaxx featuring Lisa Kekaula, “Good Luck“, which is a great “FUCK YOU” song.

The fifth is Kelis with her song, “Caught Out There” (Trigger warning for abelism and depictions of violence).

And the final song is Vassy’s “Wanna Fly“.

Related Posts:

More events than just one

Hollywood has done us a great disservice, though this should come as no surprise.  This time, I’m thinking about relationships and how they are portrayed in movies, specifically when the relationship ends due to the death of one of the partners.  In the average movie, when someone’s husband or wife dies, they spend a disproportionate amount of time watching their wedding video and being sad.  The being sad bit I can understand, the wedding video I don’t.

I know its symbolic and is a quick and cheap way of showing how much this individual misses the other, but its also really wrong.  As well as fuelling the wedding video market, which is stupidly overpriced and terribly saccharine, its not even a good representation of what a relationship is.  A relationship isn’t one event, it is a series of events, both good and bad, over a period of time.

Although family videos were made of my wedding day, I never watch them and don’t think I actually have them anymore.  I had a photographer come and take photos, and I look at them once every year or so, because they’re pretty, but not because “it was the happiest day of my life™”.  I define my relationship with my (legal) husband by many different events, and I wouldn’t want just one to define my entire relationship.  To only let my wedding day define my relationship of over 16 years with him cheats both of us the life experience we’ve gained together and the good and bad times we’ve spent together.

I’m far more likely to remember out 10th wedding anniversary, countless weekends lying in bed and talking about everything, discoveries that we’ve made while being out and about together, songs we’ve made up, laughing until we cry and much awesome sex.  All of this is far more fun than that one day where I dressed up in a white dress and said, “I do” in front of family and friends.

To let a wedding day define an entire relationship is wrong and unfair.  It puts impossible expectations on people to make their wedding day be the best day of their life, and suggests that everything from there onwards will be downhill.  It fuels an industry that already gouges people, encourages conspicuous consumption and suggests to those who cannot afford the most outrageous wedding ever that they will be miserable for all eternity – when perhaps all they wanted (if they want to get married – that’s a whole different debate) was a simple ceremony in front of a few close friends and family.

I’d much prefer a montage of time spent together, as I have seen some movies do.  Picnics, birthdays, anniversaries, parties and just time spent together to sum up the essence of a lifetime spent together.  That is far more realistic than just one event being played over and over.

Related Posts: