You have until 14 February to make a submission. Go now. There are fears that this review “Is Actually About Entrenching Discrimination, Participant Says“. Please make a submission.
Wow, 98 carnivals. That’s so many. It’s been a very busy month with the lead up to the Australian election, Men in football being arsehats, the mass shooting in Orlando at an LGBT night club, Brexit, the rise of hate crimes in the UK, and conservative politicians being arsehats (still). I have finally had a month off from studying and have been catching up on playing computer games and cooking, not so much on catching up on blogging because I am a tiny bit sick of writing. Though I have lots of blog pieces in my head anyway.
Anyway, if you want to host a future carnival, then go to the Down Under Feminist Carnival site and let Chally know. It’s not very hard, lovely people like Chally, Mary, myself, Scarlett and others will fill your inbox with excellent posts from feminists in Australia and New Zealand.
On with the carnival!
The fantastic cartoonist, Judy Horacek devoted her topic of the month for July to Feminism (posted at the end of June, so eligible for this carnival (just)).
Blue Milk writes, “Tickets for the Feminist Writers’ Festival are on sale now”
Terri Psiakis writes at ABC The Drum, “So you suffer from ‘gender fatigue’? Get well soon“:
Now, don’t get me wrong: I’m not numb-nutting the source of the research. I’m numb-nutting the idea that to achieve workplace gender diversity we need more CEOs with daughters. As if they need the existence of their own female offspring to finally understand the merit in the idea of gender equity at work.
Sure. Don’t champion workplace change because it’s necessary and long overdue. Champion it because you happen to have a girl at home.
Kate Galloway writes at KatGallow, “A mother’s sacrifice: more than an incubator“:
Let’s take this argument to its logical conclusion: any woman of child-bearing age who becomes brain dead must be kept alive until a pregnancy test shows she is not pregnant. If she is pregnant, she must be kept alive until the baby is born. I realise that this is an exaggeration – but if we argue that the Portuguese case is justified because ‘any woman would want her baby to survive’ then where do we draw a line? If the woman is nine months pregnant? Eight? Four? One? How do we decide which foetuses are retained to delivery and which are not? Would we keep the woman on life support even as her body is decaying? What might cause us to change the decision to keep her alive?
Petra Bueskens wrote at New Matilda, “Gaye Demanuele And The Politics Of Homebirth“:
The second big watershed moment for the reduction of access to homebirth was in 2009 when key legislative change, masquerading as reform, changed the registration and regulation process for midwives. New provisions contained in the Health Legislation Amendment (Midwives and Nurse Practitioners) Bill 2009 stipulated that privately practicing midwives had to have a “collaborative arrangement” in place with a doctor, usually an obstetrician, before being eligible for Medicare rebates.
As Maternity Coalition wrote in their response to the new regulations, this gave doctors “veto powers over midwives and birth choices”. It created a system of parallel regulation whereby midwives couldn’t practice without a doctor willing to sanction and support their practice; something that has proven very difficult in practice for homebirth midwives in particular.
Suzanne Dyson writes at The Conversation, “Good sex ed doesn’t lead to teen pregnancy, it prevents it“:
Opponents of school-based sex ed argue that educating young people about sex and relationships can lead to promiscuity, teenage pregnancy, increased rates of STIs and can even influence sexual and gender orientation. But this isn’t supported by the research.
Catherine Chamberlain, Rhonda Marriott and Sandy Campbell wrote at The Conversation, “Why we need to support Aboriginal women’s choice to give birth on country“:
Not all Aboriginal women have access to high-quality, culturally competent maternity care. An audit in Western Australia, for instance, found 75% of services failed to provide maternity care sensitive to Aboriginal culture.
Kate Galloway writes at KatGallow, “Say no to sexist language in public discourse“:
With respect, whatever Mr Entsch’s views, the LNP’s views, or the voter views of negative gearing and small time investors, it is not OK to use the language and imagery of witches about women. The implication of the image of the witch, deliberately positioned adjacent to Ms Howes’ campaign corflutes, is to invoke the comparison.
Fleur Fitzsimmons submitted a guest post to me, “Guest Post: Equal pay a step closer“:
Equal pay for women-dominated occupations is a step closer with the high-powered group led by the next Governor-General Dame Patsy Reddy and including Phil O’Reilly, unions and Government Negotiators, tasked with developing equal pay principles under the Equal Pay Act 1972 reporting agreed principles and an agreed process to implement equal pay to the Government. The group has developed and agreed comprehensive principles for the implementation of equal pay in female-dominated work in New Zealand. The agreed principles are here.
Eva Cox writes at The Conversation, “The f-word enters the campaign and trips up both major parties“:
Bill Shorten unintentionally fired the feminism debate by saying the changes were targeted at women, both as the major users and household organisers of childcare. Nationals deputy Fiona Nash and Today show host Lisa Wilkinson branded this statement “prehistoric”, so Shorten then had to defend his stance by saying men rely on women to handle childcare arrangements..
Celeste Liddle writes at Daily Life, “Federal election 2016: The indigenous women giving me cause to hope“:
Yet despite this, there is one silver lining. This election a record number of Indigenous candidates are standing and of these 13 people, eight are women. Should six of these candidates be successful in getting elected, Australia will hit population parity rates in Parliament for Indigenous people for the first time ever. Considering that it took until just last election for the first Aboriginal woman ever to enter Parliament, eight Aboriginal women contesting seats this election is a welcome advance. Aboriginal men’s voices have often been preferenced by the mainstream over the voices of Aboriginal women due to the patriarchy, and this dynamic looks set to be challenged in Parliament House.
Cha wrote at Shallow Depths (about Stardew Valley, a computer game), “Mundus Vult Decipiti“:
Visiting my hapless future husband became part of my daily routine. Which is completely normal, well-adjusted behaviour and not like stalking at all. Except it involved getting to know someone’s schedule, hanging around outside their house and just happening to show up wherever they went. So, exactly like stalking actually.
I want to pledge now that I will parent knowing my child is going into this big world and he will have choices – choices to harm and hurt or to walk gently and powerfully with hope in his heart and love for others. I will parent knowing he is going into a world with your children too, that they need love and protection and respect – they need to be kept safe as I hope my son will be kept safe too.
Stephanie at No Award wrote, “totally respected in our very respectful code“:
The thing about the misogyny entrenched in our code, of course, is the way it normalises violence against women. Football is a space where we’re told with words that we’re welcome, but we’re also confronted with evidence that we’re not. And the same evidence tells men that anyone who isn’t a man is unwelcome.
Erin Riley writes at The Guardian, “This is what happens when you call out sexism in Australia“:
This is what usually happens when you call out sexism in sport: nobody pays any attention at all.
We’re used to sporting codes being sexist: used to paltry pay packets for female athletes, used to their bodies being objectified, used to sports administrations being dominated by men. Pointing out egregious examples of the worst of sport’s sexism only sometimes raises an eyebrow.
Osman Faruqi wrote at Junkee, “How An Independent Journalist Brought Eddie McGuire’s Sexist Comments To Account“:
Despite making the comments on Triple M last Monday, the McGuire story wasn’t reported by mainstream media outlets late yesterday. Riley, a freelance sports writer, transcribed the comments over the weekend and pushed the story out onto social media where it was eventually picked up by news outlets across the country.
Rebecca Shaw writes at Kill Your Darlings, “Age Gap: Where are the middle-aged women on screens?“:
Try to imagine the most haggard and decrepit old actress you can think of. Who comes to mind? That’s right, it’s Olivia Wilde. The almost-objectively stunning Wilde recently revealed that she had been rejected for a role playing Leonardo DiCaprio’s wife in the The Wolf of Wall Street because she was too old. At the time, she was 28 and Leo was 37. The part ended up going to Australian actress Margot Robbie, who was 21 at the time. The role in question involved portraying a real-life woman, who was 29 during the time the movie was set.
Anna at Flaming Moth/Orlando Creature writes, “The Shrew Lands“:
Having thought about The Taming of the Shrew as long and as intimately as I have my conclusion, for what it’s worth, is that there is no way to make it both a romantic comedy and at the same time not wildly offensive. But (and this is crucial) I have come to believe that this would have been so even when it was first penned, and that its primary driving force is to produce in the audience member the confusion of feeling something to be right and simultaneously feeling it to be wrong. We want Kate and Petruchio to get together and have a great relationship and a great future together, but the framework within which we see it happen is horrible. And I don’t for a moment believe that this is because Shakespeare wanted us to think long and hard about the way our society treats women. I think he merely wanted to make sure his audience left this show compelled to talk about what they had just seen. That was how one made money in the theatre.
Scarlett Harris reviews the most recent series of Orange is the New Black for Junkee. It’s full of spoilers, just so you know.
Scarlette Harris also writes at SBS, “It’s time for WWE to pay more than lip service to the Women’s Championship“:
It’s been just over two months since World Wrestling Entertainment ushered in a “new era”, calling their female talent Superstars (which the guys had been branded as for decades) instead of Divas and retired the Divas Championship in favour of a brand-spanking new Women’s Championship.
Since then, though, women have continued to get dismal airtime across WWE’s two main shows, three-hour Raw and two-hour SmackDown!.
Stephanie at No Award writes, “No Award watches stuff: Cleverman“:
It’s so clear what’s happening in Cleverman – the Zone is literally within Redfern; it’s not subtle, and we LOVE IT. It’s a message about missions and exclusion and the Stolen Generation, wrapped up in an analogy.
Avril E Jean reviewed some books at, Avril E Jean; Art and Analysis, “Gender bias in books I’ve just read in this week“
Race and Racism
Celeste Liddle writes at Rantings of an Aboriginal Feminist, “The neutralising of hate“:
It reminded me of when I saw news reports following Coburg referring to the leftist groups as “extreme anti-racism groups”. See, apparently now, being anti-racist is an extremist action. The problem here being that it actually is. Anti-racism; thanks to centuries of denying colonial invasion, decades of the White Australia Policy, years of Hansonism and Howardism, Cronulla, Islamophobia (even though the Muslim connection to this land mass predates white invasion by up to an estimated 200 years) and bipartisan practice of despicable asylum seeker policy; is considered a radical act. Racism is so very embedded in the fabric of our society and apathy towards it right now is so high that to take an active stance against it is considered terrifying by many.
Bodies and body image
Coley Tangerina writes, “A fat bird“:
“You’re a little bird!” I laugh.
He laughs back. “You’re a fat bird!”
Immediately his smile disappears, uncomfortable with regret.
Kath wrote Fat Heffalump, “Is Radical Fat Activism Dead?“:
Don’t get me wrong, I understand why she, and so many others have decided to give up blogging – I have a lot of the same feelings myself and it makes it really hard to keep blogging the way I used to. But understanding why doesn’t mean I’m any less sad that so many amazing, bold, innovative fat activists and/or bloggers are deciding to pack it in.
Kath also wrote at Fath Heffalump, “Marketing to Fat Women – This Is How You Do It“:
I mean what can I say? It’s wonderful! Including actual fat women, including fat women of colour. Doing kick-arse stuff. With nary a word about “health”. No “plus-size” models that wouldn’t actually wear the plus-size range. No faux-bo-po slogan accompanied by a bunch of tall, hourglass, white women. Fat women actually speaking about themselves and their own experiences. Fat women showing that you can have an amazing life, exactly as you are.
QUILTBAG+ (some of these posts carry trigger warnings for queerphobia and violence)
A little red pen at Little Red Jottings writes, “Orlando, Orlando“:
I’ve been in a relationship with a man since then, so it all feels a bit academic or something now, something I don’t really have the lived experience to claim. It’s easier in this world to play the straight card, to fit in and keep quiet. Quiet when activist, feminist friends edge towards transphobia, quiet when conservative relatives, colleagues, random strangers make bad jokes, quiet when my interests are assumed to be political and not also personal.
Elizabeth Duck-Chong writes at Daily Life, “Why it’s time for parents to re-think declaring their children’s gender“:
There is a pervasive narrative that transgender people are “born as ?”, but in reality, from my first coming out I was starting a process of undoing a lifetime of perceived maleness. My ever having “been a boy” was as foreign as a non-native tongue; my many hours repeating tenses in middle school French would have just as well been spent repeating a mantra of maleness – that is, neither stuck.
But now in adulthood these same friends who understand my womanhood doesn’t originate vaginally, these transgender allies, see the bodies of their children and continue to draw conclusions in pastel pinks and blues.
Jo at A Life Unexamined wrote, “The strange state of being neither in, nor out“:
And so I’ve found myself in this in-between space, where I don’t actually know whether I’m properly out or not. I don’t know whether people have just accepted all the hints and indications and run with it, and that everything is perfectly fine. I don’t know whether they just haven’t picked up on it. I don’t know whether I’m just seen as an active ally, or as queer myself. I don’t know who actually knows a lot more than they let on – like in the one case, where I found out that three of the people in my queer project group had actually found my blog and knew I was ace even before I had made any comments about it whatsoever. (Two of them then asked me out for coffee to talk about it. In a way, I much prefer that super-direct approach to all this uncertainty.)
Dr Inger Mewburn writes at The Thesis Whispherer, “If you blog, will you lose your job?“:
Whatever you think of Ms Ward’s politics, you would have to agree that she has the right to have her Marxist opinions. She also has the presumed right to post on a closed Facebook account in peace. A ‘friend’ leaking what she said about the Australian flag to the mainstream media is something she probably didn’t expect to happen and hearing about it sends a chill down my spine.
Elizabeth Sunderland writes at New Matilda, “Bigotry In The Name Of God: The Case Against Religious Exemptions“:
Shorten assured Christian leaders that if the ALP come to power in July, he will not be seeking to roll back the exemptions to anti-discrimination laws that faith-based organisations currently enjoy. Speaking in Perth, Shorten confirmed that “[the ALP]are not interested in telling religious organisations how to run their faith-based organisations. We haven’t seen the case made to make change.”
This pre-emptive statement – Labor were supposed to review the laws whilst in office – has delighted Catholic leaders, Lyle Shelton of the ACL, and The Australian newspaper. Elsewhere, it’s gone largely unnoticed.
For a nation of people who see ourselves as secular and upholding the separation between church and state, Australians are alarmingly complacent about the influence of religious organisations.
Sarah Joseph writes at The Conversation, “Academic freedom and the suspension of Roz Ward“:
Academics (and others) must be able to post such opinions without fear of retribution from their employers. Certainly, some find criticism of the Australian flag offensive, but as a society we must surely be able to tolerate such opinions. Ward is referencing debates that are far from closed. In contrast, La Trobe’s reason a) seems to punish Ward for expressing an unpopular opinion.
Second, the reasons apparently given to Ward link her suspension to the fact that she posted the offending comments in the midst of ongoing controversy over Safe Schools. The implication is that Ward should be “extra careful” with what she says due to that controversy.
Rebecca Shaw writes at SBS, “Gay bars and safe spaces: Why Orlando has impacted me so much“:
It is easy for people to forget, because of how far we have come, that it still takes something to live openly and proudly as an LGBTQI person. Yes, many of us are extremely privileged, especially those amongst who are cis and white and who live in a country like Australia. And yet, it still isn’t easy. If you aren’t part of the community, it is easy for you to forget. It is easy for you to walk down the street, safe in the knowledge that you love queer people, and ignore that there are still many who don’t. To know and to sense, like we do, that there is still blatant hatred towards us. And to fear that if it isn’t blatant, that it’s just hiding there under the surface, waiting. It takes something to keep living as yourself when you see this seething and spiteful underbelly of this every time someone talks about Safe Schools or marriage equality, or draws a pathetically homophobic cartoon in the national newspaper.
Charlie Maycraft guest posted at Gladly, the Cross-Eyed Bear, “Orlando Vigil – Charlie’s Speech“:
This shooting was an attack on our human rights. There are people in this world who not only condemn us, they literally want us dead. I’ve seen news anchors and journalists all over the world trying to co opt this event as a non specific and random act of violence, rather than a blatantly homophobic and transphobic hate crime.
Paula Gerber wrote at The Conversation, “Orlando shooting is the latest chapter in the global fight for LGBT rights“:
For every advance in LGBT rights that is made in one part of the world, there are extreme regressions elsewhere.
Perhaps this is evidence of Newton’s third law that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Although when it comes to LGBT rights, the reaction is more excessive than equal.
Aaminah Khan (also known as Jay the Nerdkid) writes at Alternet, “Stop Asking Me to Denounce Islam to Prove I Care About LGBT Rights“:
After events like the recent tragic shooting in Orlando, Florida, this problem becomes more pronounced. In the hours immediately following the Pulse shooting, I received a great deal of opportunistic hate mail, as I imagine many visibly queer and trans people did. However, most of the hate messages I received online were not about my sexuality or gender, but about my religion. Many came from fellow LGBT people, who asked me how I justified homophobic laws in Muslim countries (I don’t) and demanded that I “disavow” Islam as proof that I really did care about LGBT rights (I won’t, but I do). These attacks left me no space to mourn or deal with the pain of such a blow to the LGBT community, of which I consider myself a part.
Chrys Stevenson wrote at Gladly, the Cross-Eyed Bear, “Orlando: I blame you, Lyle“:
Florida is a long way from Canberra, Lyle. And you are a Christian, not a Muslim. You were nowhere near the Pulse nightclub when Omar Mateen took out an assault rifle and a pistol and began firing indiscriminately into a club packed with the kind of people your Australian Christian Lobby spends so much money to vilify.
And yet, Lyle, I blame you for the horror which occurred in that nightclub. Because it is you, and people like you, who actively fuel the homophobic culture which helps unhinged people like Mateen justify their actions as ‘right’ and ‘holy’.
Valerie Aurora, Mary Gardiner and Leigh Honeywell co-wrote a post at hypatia dot net, “No more rock stars: how to stop abuse in tech communities“:
You can take concrete actions to stop rock stars from abusing and destroying your community. But first, here are a few signs that help you identify when you have a rock star instead of a plumber:
A rock star likes to be the center of attention. A rock star spends more time speaking at conferences than on their nominal work. A rock star appears in dozens of magazine profiles – and never, ever tells the journalist to talk to the people actually doing the practical everyday work. A rock star provokes a powerful organization over minor issues until they crack down on the rock star, giving them underdog status. A rock star never says, “I don’t deserve the credit for that, it was all the work of…” A rock star humble-brags about the starry-eyed groupies who want to fuck them. A rock star actually fucks their groupies, and brags about that too. A rock star throws temper tantrums until they get what they want. A rock star demands perfect loyalty from everyone around them, but will throw any “friend” under the bus for the slightest personal advantage. A rock star knows when to turn on the charm and vulnerability and share their deeply personal stories of trauma… and when it’s safe to threaten and intimidate. A rock star wrecks hotel rooms, social movements, and lives.
Claire Wright wrote at The Conversation, “Emancipated wenches in gaudy jewellery: the liberating bling of the goldfields“:
Lola Montez was born in Limerick, Ireland in 1818, and christened Maria Eliza Delores Rosanna Gilbert. She changed her name to Lola when, at 18, she fled an arranged betrothal to a reviled old man. The woman who had dined (and slept) with the kings of Europe, plotted against the Jesuit-controlled monarchy in Bavaria, given advice on matters of state to Czar Nicholas and Ludwig I, performed in the opera houses of Europe, married at least three times and travelled the globe with her infamous Spider Dance, died alone in a New York boarding house of syphilis, aged 42. Her gravestone simply reads “Mrs Eliza Gilbert”.
By the end of her short and explosive life, Lola might have suggested a better epitaph:
A woman of beauty and intelligence needs the quills of a porcupine as self-defence – or else risk ruin.
Deborah Russell wrote at Left Side Story, “What I think about a Universal Basic Income“:
A friend asked me what I thought about a Universal Basic Income. Here are some notes I put together a couple of months ago, when UBIs were the topic of the day here in New Zealand. TL:DR – I’m a supporter in principle, ‘though at this stage, a UBI may not be viable on fiscal grounds.
Violence and sexual assault – all articles in this section carry trigger warnings
Writing in Water writes, “We Are Not Really Decent People: How We Pretend to Hate Rape”
Erin Riley wrote, “Eddie McGuire, Caroline Wilson and violence against women: the AFL must act.“:
The first notable thing about this is, of course, that is is absolutely awful. These are some of the most high-profile men in football joking about hurting one of football’s most prominent women. So much of our discussions about violence against women acknowledge the importance of language and of attitudes in shaping the way men think about women. As the current government campaign says, “violence against women doesn’t just start.” While McGuire and co were undoubtedly joking, the underlying attitude is dangerous: it [reinforces] the attitudes of those who are willing to take their hatred of women beyond a “bit of banter”.
Rebecca Shaw wrote at SBS, “A breakdown of victim blaming using pie charts“:
But actually, who is at fault when assaults like this occur? I think it’s time someone looked into it further, and broke it down for society. And that person is me. I will use pie graphs because i love pie. Let’s hope we can clear this all up.
So, in a very short time I gathered a wide range of interesting posts and I need to close out several tabs in my browser, so here we are and I’m sharing more interesting (well at least to me) things with you. If you are not interested in linkspam today, go and check out my cookbook blog, and look at all the cooking I’ve been doing recently.
Ian Baker writes at Medium, “Growing Up Poor With Three Parents“:
It’s easy to see why people might come to think of polyamory, at least in the form they see today, as the purview of “rich, pretty people with too much time on their hands.” However, this viewpoint fails to acknowledge the underprivileged nonmonogamists among us — it serves to alienate the disadvantaged, to discourage them from even trying it. This denies polyamory’s considerable economic, social, and structural benefits to those who need them the most.
I am a second-generation poly person, who grew up in the eighties. My parents were quite poor when I was born, and I’ve experienced a great deal of class mobility over the course of my life. I’ve witnessed first-hand how economic privilege is not a requirement for nonmonogamy. In fact, the nontraditional nature of my family directly facilitated my own escape from a life of poverty. This is what it was like for me, growing up poor in America with two moms and a dad.
Juliet Khan at Comics Alliance writes, “Fear As A Way Of Life: Why Women In Comics Don’t ‘Just Report’ Sexual Harassment“:
Fear is also meant to keep us safe from sexual harassment, assault and abuse. We’re told not to stay out too late, not to go out alone, not to drink, not to lead anyone on, not to go home with anyone, not to ever feel safe in any situation that a man might take advantage of. If you fear the (implicitly common) worst from the men around you, you will escape it. When harassment, assault, and abuse take place anyway, fear is often a distinctly purposeful element of the encounter. Sometimes, this is subtle—it might take place in a deliberately secluded spot, or the perpetrator might be in a position of power over your future. Or, in the case of rape-and-death-threat style online harassment, the naked point of it might be to instill fear. After the harassment, assault, or abuse has taken place, it is fear that keeps women from speaking out. Fear of being branded the whiny bitch, of enduring the Anita Sarkeesian experience, or having one’s career torpedoed by a thousand nerds high on a lifetime’s worth of entitlement and vitriol.
Fear is what keeps us silent. Fear is what keeps men from understanding the ubiquity of these experiences. Fear is what keeps us from attaching a name to our allegations. Fear is what makes harassment, assault, and abuse a rite of passage for women in this industry and the world beyond. Fear, in this society, is what makes you a woman. And fear, in extinguishing discussion of its cruelties, keeps us from understanding its nature and better dismantling it.
Michelle Garcia writes at Advocate.com, “Op-ed: My Bi Choice“:
During my first year here, I was just glad to have a job. I pitched dumb articles and prayed I wouldn’t screw anything up (I did. A lot). But paired with being at the bottom of the totem pole on the staff, I also felt like my own sexuality was still not valid. I had a boyfriend and barely had any lady experience. I had lived through all kinds of racism and sexism, but the extent of overt homophobia hurled at me involved some stupid girl in eighth grade calling me a dyke, and me replying, “So?” and then she shrugged, and then music class started. Here I was writing articles about people being murdered solely for being transgender, or people being prevented from marrying or serving openly in the military. There were bigger problems in the world than my bi invisibility. So I failed to speak up. Often. I simply didn’t feel gay enough.
Kate Hakala at Nerve writes, “The Weird and Troubling History of Bisexuality Studies“:
Today marks the 15th annual Celebrate Bisexuality Day — a day dedicated to bringing respect, visibility, and awareness to all people who identify as having fluid identities. Since more than half of the LGBT community is comprised of bisexuals (1.8% of the total American population), it’s important to give recognition to a group that includes people of all gender identities from cis to trans and sexual orientations from queer to pansexual. We’re talking everyone from Anna Paquin, to Cynthia Nixon, Chirlane McCray, Tom Daley, Angelina Jolie, Billie Joe Armstrong, Megan Fox, Clive Davis, Megan Mullally, Andy Dick, David Bowie, and Lady Gaga.
Bisexuality can sometimes feel like a largely invisible orientation because of its historic neglect and ridicule in both the media and sciences. Often times, bisexuality can be portrayed as “greedy,” “a bridging mechanism,” to homosexuality, or worse, “imaginary.” All of which, of course, are inaccurate. In honor of bisexual visibility, Nerve took a look back at landmark scientific investigations which discussed both the validity and invalidity of bisexuality through the decades. This is how we got from Alfred Kinsey to Tom Daley.
Melissa Parke’s speech was published in The Guardian, “No one should be fooled into believing security is as simple as greater surveillance and deeper silence“:
I question the premise of the government’s general approach to this area of policy, which is essentially that freedoms must be constrained in response to terrorism; and that the introduction of greater obscurity and impunity in the exercise of government agency powers that contravene individual freedoms will both produce, and are justified in the name of, greater security.
If we want to continue our lives free from terrorism and orchestrated violence – so the argument goes – we have to accept shifting the balance between freedom and constraint away from the observance of basic rights and towards greater surveillance, more interference, deeper silence.
Let me say that no one should be fooled into believing it is as simple as that.
Catherine Buni and Soraya Chemaly write at The Atlantic, “The Unsafety Net: How Social Media Turned Against Women“:
All of this raised a series of troubling questions: Who’s proliferating this violent content? Who’s controlling its dissemination? Should someone be? In theory, social media companies are neutral platforms where users generate content and report content as equals. But, as in the physical world, some users are more equal than others. In other words, social media is more symptom than disease: A 2013 report from the World Health Organization called violence against women “a global health problem of epidemic proportion,” from domestic abuse, stalking, and street harassment to sex trafficking, rape, and murder. This epidemic is thriving in the petri dish of social media.
At this summer’s VidCon, an annual nationwide convention held in Southern California, women vloggers shared an astonishing number of examples. The violent threats posted beneath YouTube videos, they observed, are pushing women off of this and other platforms in disproportionate numbers. When Anita Sarkeesian launched a Kickstarter to help fund a feminist video series called Tropes vs. Women, she became the focus of a massive and violently misogynistic cybermob. Among the many forms of harassment she endured was a game where thousands of players “won” by virtually bludgeoning her face. In late August, she contacted the police and had to leave her home after she received a series of serious violent online threats.
Danielle Keats Citron, law professor at the University of Maryland and author of the recently released book Hate Crimes in Cyberspace, explained, “Time and time again, these women have no idea often who it is attacking them. A cybermob jumps on board, and one can imagine that the only thing the attackers know about the victim is that she’s female.” Looking at 1,606 cases of “revenge porn,” where explicit photographs are distributed without consent, Citron found that 90 percent of targets were women. Another study she cited found that 70 percent of female gamers chose to play as male characters rather than contend with sexual harassment.
This type of harassment also fills the comment sections of popular websites. In August, employees of the largely female-staffed website Jezebel published an open letter to the site’s parent company, Gawker, detailing the professional, physical, and emotional costs of having to look at the pornographic GIFs maliciously populating the site’s comments sections everyday. “It’s like playing whack-a-mole with a sociopathic Hydra,” they wrote, insisting that Gawker develop tools for blocking and tracking IP addresses. They added, “It’s impacting our ability to do our jobs.”
Camille Beredjick writes at Everyday Feminism, “Why Some Bisexuals Don’t Feel Welcome in the Queer Community“:
As queer issues are beginning to get public attention, and awareness of gay and lesbian relationships is rising, there’s one group that often gets left out in the cold: bisexual people.
Inae Oh at Mother Jones writes, “Ladies, Let Sarah Silverman Convince You to Get a Sex Change to Fix the Gender Wage Gap“:
Sarah Silverman, “writer, comedian, and vagina owner,” is no longer going to wait for the rest of the country to get on board to fix this inequality. In a new satirical video, she proposes the only rational solution left—get a sex change.
“Every year the average woman loses around $11,000 to the wage gap,” Silverman explains, while waiting patiently to choose the perfect penis for her surgical transformation. “Over the course of the working years of her life, that’s almost 500 grand.”
At Go Make Me a Sandwich, “D&D 5E: Why so many wimmenz??“:
UGH WIMMENZ WHY DOES THE NEW D&D HAVE SO MANY OF THEM THEY ARE OBJECTIVELY TERRIBLE AMIRITE AND ALSO BROWN PEOPLE DON’T RUIN MY FANTASY ABOUT MAGIC AND DRAGONS WITH BROWN WOMEN WTF IS WRONG WITH YOU
Jesus, internet. Could you maybe try to be less awful some time?
So here we go. Because it’s a thing worth saying, here are some reasons why D&D 5E is great and is totally a thing that tabletop gaming needed. (Spoilers: it’s the art)
Also, taking a step back, look at the characters being depicted here. These characters all come from obviously distinct cultures. So not only do we have group portraits that include a variety of ethnic backgrounds, but we also have PoC adventurers who come from obviously non-white cultures, rather than being rolled into some White Fantasy Crypto-European culture.
Which is really just the best, because yay social justice! But also because White Fantasy Crypto-Europe has gotten boring as shit. So the fact that WoTC has taken effort to portray a variety of cultures that go beyond different flavors of white people is amazing, because it’s new and exciting.
Howard Hotson at Times Higher Education writes, “Germany’s great tuition fees U-turn“:
Why did Germany introduce tuition fees in the first place? The answer, in short, is that politicians favoured the idea. Self-styled “modernisers” had been advocating tuition fees since German reunification in 1990. Cultural differences between east and west initially hindered this plan, but the main obstacle was a federal law banning tuition fees, which echoed provisions guaranteeing free education in the constitutions of individual states. In 2005, however, the Federal Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe ruled that moderate fees, coupled with affordable loans, would safeguard these constitutional provisions. Within two years, a cascade of laws had swept through most of the federal Länder. The attraction of shifting some of the funding burden to individual beneficiaries was irresistible. So was the compulsion to imitate the changes made elsewhere, lest universities in one’s own state should remain less well funded, and the public purse more stretched, than in neighbouring states.
Seven out of 10 states in west Germany introduced fees in 2006 or 2007; an eighth, Bremen, was prevented from doing so by a lawsuit. Only two – Rheinland-Pfalz and Schleswig-Holstein – resisted the tide completely.
If such unanimity had been maintained, policymakers would now be declaring these changes inevitable. Yet within a single electoral cycle, their long-sought policy was comprehensively overturned. The only state still charging tuition fees in 2014, Lower Saxony, will cease to do so at the end of this academic year.
Waleed Aly wrote at the Sydney Morning Herald, “Burqa ban a political excuse for persecution“:
But ignorance is no barrier precisely because this debate really has nothing to do with the women being recast as some kind of problem. Strip it all back and they’ve done nothing to invite this. They aren’t the ones charged with plotting “demonstration killings”. They aren’t the ones being busted carrying weapons or attacking police officers.
They are, however, the ones most often assaulted or abused on the street or on public transport. They’re the ones whose freedom we try most to restrict.
In short, they become the symbolic target for our rage; the avatar we choose to represent a generalised enemy, and the threat it poses. In this, we obey what seems a diabolically universal principle: that whatever the outrage, whatever the fear, and whatever the cause, it is women that must suffer first and most.
Mera Terrha Pakistan writes, “Bisexuality is a Queer Sin“:
Moreover, if you’re a bi woman in a queer group and you’re with a woman, you are functionally lesbian so that’s okay. You can talk about your bi-ness and everyone will make a big joke about it, but basically, it’s okay, you haven’t strayed. But if somehow you accidentally fall for a man and are in a relationship with him, suddenly it’s not funny anymore. A bi woman in a relationship with a man is straight (and dead) to lesbians.
What I’ve found more interesting recently is that bi men are also disregarded by gay men, but not for being traitors ore foreign agents. It’s more that gay men think men can’t actually be bi. Oh, you can get a gay man to say that, of course, men are bi and bisexuality exists, all that jazz; but in gossip or chat mode, when it comes up that a man says he’s bi, the answer goes something like: “Him? He’s a pakki khusri! He’s just saying he’s bi because, trust me, I’ve seen millions like him, he’s not just gay, he’s a bottom!”
At Even Aud, “Children and Transgender People Part 2:“:
You can explain that the world is a very complex place, and that people often react with fear, anger and even violence to these complexities. In the case of trans people our existence challenges some very,very deeply held beliefs. The idea that there are, and only should be two mutually exclusive genders that your gender is immutable after birth and no changing can happen, is literally one of the foundations of western society.Transgender people shake that belief. It causes a very fundamental fear in people. “if they are transgender, if their gender changes..what about me? Could that happen to me?” For many cisgender people this is a terrifying prospect. Gender is something that we base a lot of ourselves around. Transgender and especially genderqueer/non binary /gender non conforming people shake that base. When that is shaken some people would rather react with oppression, violence, bullying instead of taking a look inside themselves and examine their gender and answer tough questions.
Mera Terrha Pakistan writes, “Liveability“:
This is a queer problem. It requires a queer solution.
People are being killed. All kinds of people in all kinds of places. Targeted. Planned. Angry mob murders. Serial murders. And there is no real sense that can be made, no coherent thread that can be pulled between everything so that we can say, yes, this is why, let’s just stop this one thing and…
So the problem of fear and the problem of the closet and the problem of being suddenly hurt or killed one day are all the same problem. How do you live your life in this country and feel like you’ll actually live? How do you act yourself?
Giselle Nguyen writes at Rookie, “Closed for Business“:
“Are you sure?” Carl asked as we sat on the edge of his bed.
“Yep,” I said confidently. I’d heard the first time could hurt, but mostly I was excited. He put a condom on as I lay down, buzzing with anticipation. He pushed into me…and I screamed at the pain, which was unlike anything I’d ever felt before. I ran to the bathroom and cried. I didn’t know if this was normal, but it felt excruciating. You never forget your first time—especially if it happens before you know you have vaginismus, a physical condition that makes penetrative sex incredibly painful or, in extreme cases, impossible.
Gina McKeon writes at the ABC, “Life on the inside: how solitary confinement affects mental health“:
Inmates held in solitary confinement experience a range of mental health problems including anxiety, panic, insomnia, paranoia, aggression and depression.
Don Grant, a forensic psychiatrist formerly with the Queensland Community Forensic Mental Health Service, says these psychological effects are the result of: social isolation, which can lead to further withdrawal; boredom and sensory deprivation, which cause brain activity to slow; and a lack of control with no personal autonomy, which may lead to a loss of self-reliance and dysfunction in social situations when an inmate is released.
Eliel Cruz writes at Everyday Feminism, “13 Lies We Have to Stop Telling About Bisexuals“:
Unfortunately, the binary way of thinking that informs the reasoning of many who remain unconvinced by the reality of bisexuality ultimately oppresses everyone through its perpetuation of unflinching heteronormative or homonormative standards.
Being intimate with someone of the same sex doesn’t mean you’re gay, just like being intimate with someone of the opposite sex doesn’t mean you’re straight — it just means you fall somewhere in the beautiful, fluid spectrum of sexuality.
Here we are in the supposedly enlightened year of 2014 – and yet, biphobia persists. In no particular order, here are a few of the most tiresome lies society really needs to stop telling about the bisexual community.
Natalie Tencic at ABC writes, “Papua New Guinea’s gay and transgender community finds safety in Hanuabada village“:
Gay men walking the streets of Port Moresby are often targeted by local men, particularly those who hail from PNG’s highland provinces, and have been raped, beaten and even murdered.
But in Hanuabada, things are different.
Documentary filmmaker and photographer Vlad Sokhin noticed this when he stumbled on the village during his travels.
“[It’s] probably the only place in Port Moresby where they feel safe and many of them, they were born in different places so they moved to Hanuabada village because they are accepted by the local community there,” Vlad said.
Alyssa Bereznak writes at Yahoo! Tech, “Microsoft CEO Says Women Shouldn’t Ask for Raises, Will Instead Magically Receive Them via ‘Karma’ (UPDATE)“:
“It’s not really about asking for a raise, but knowing and having faith that the system will give you the right raise,” he told Klawe (who, presumably, was screaming inside). He went on to further imply that there was an incalculable je ne sais quoi about a woman who never asks for what she truly wants.
“That might be one of the initial ‘super powers’ that, quite frankly, women (who) don’t ask for a raise have,” he said. “It’s good karma. It will come back.”
UPDATE 8:24 p.m.: Nadella followed up his remarks on Twitter with a staff-wide email that was also posted on Microsoft’s press website. “I answered that question completely wrong,” he wrote. “Without a doubt I wholeheartedly support programs at Microsoft and in the industry that bring more women into technology and close the pay gap. I believe men and women should get equal pay for equal work.” He added, “If you think you deserve a raise, you should just ask.”
Nadella concluded that he’d “certainly learned a valuable lesson.”
John Scalzi writes, “A Note on New York Comic Con’s Anti-Harassment Policy“:
First, you literally cannot miss it — it’s on several human-sized signs right at the entrances to Javits Center (the other side of these signs say “Cosplay is not consent.” Second, the examples are clear and obvious and the policy is not constrained to only the examples — but enough’s there that you get the idea that NYCC is serious about this stuff. Third, it’s clear from the sign that NYCC also has a commitment to implementation and execution of the policy, with a harassment reporting button baked right into its phone app. This is, pretty much, how an anti-harassment policy should be implemented.
And as a result, did the floor of the Javits Center become a politically correct dystopia upon which the blood of innocent The True (and Therefore Male) Geeks was spilled by legions of Social Justice Warriors, who hooted their feminist victory to the rafters? Well, no. The floor of the Javits Center looked pretty much like the floor of any really large media convention — people wandering about, looking at stuff, wearing and/or admiring costumes and generally having a bunch of geeky fun. Which is to say that as far as I could see the policy didn’t stop anyone from enjoying themselves; it simply gave them assurance that they could enjoy themselves, or get the problem dealt with if someone went out of their way to wreck their fun.
Yassmin Abdel-Magied writes at Junkee, “Junk Explained: Here’s Everything Jacqui Lambie Doesn’t Know About Sharia Law“:
The word “sharia”, taken literally, is Arabic for “path” or road to a watering hole or place of salvation. The five universal principles that underlie Sharia are ‘protection of life’, ‘mind’, ‘religion’, ‘property’ and ‘offspring’; rulings in Sharia law are based around the protection and promotion of these five areas and, logically, decisions that see their degradation are fundamentally unIslamic.
In practical terms, traditional Sharia is quite unlike any “legal system” as we understand the term in the modern West — a bunch of acts and legislation sitting in a library — but more a constantly changing and evolving process to try and ensure society lived intelligently and ethically. It was not written down in a legislative state-based form like today’s law, giving it the freedom to be able to be constantly revised and improved upon. Sharia was kind of like Java; you need it for everything, but it was always being updated.
At the Quinnspiracy, “What To Expect When You’re Expecting (the internet to ruin your life)“:
Don’t give yourself a hard time for feeling a certain way. It’s a messed up position you’ve been put in and there’s no “right” way to feel. You’re not failing if it bothers you, you’re not failing if you’re angry, you are not failing for not being “tough enough”. A lot of emotions come with these situations, and you’re totally allowed.
Grayson Perry at New Stateman writes, “The rise and fall of Default Man“:
They dominate the upper echelons of our society, imposing, unconsciously or otherwise, their values and preferences on the rest of the population. With their colourful textile phalluses hanging round their necks, they make up an overwhelming majority in government, in boardrooms and also in the media.
They are, of course, white, middle-class, heterosexual men, usually middle-aged. And every component of that description has historically played a part in making this tribe a group that punches far, far above its weight. I have struggled to find a name for this identity that will trip off the tongue, or that doesn’t clutter the page with unpronounceable acronyms such as WMCMAHM. “The White Blob” was a strong contender but in the end I opted to call him Default Man. I like the word “default”, for not only does it mean “the result of not making an active choice”, but two of its synonyms are “failure to pay” and “evasion”, which seems incredibly appropriate, considering the group I wish to talk about.
A list of the Nobel Prizes awarded to women
Kalev Leetaru writes at Foreign Policy, “Why Big Data Missed the Early Warning Signs of Ebola“:
Part of the problem is that the majority of media in Guinea is not published in English, while most monitoring systems today emphasize English-language material. The GDELT Project attempts to monitor and translate a cross-section of the world’s news media each day, yet it is not capable of translating 100 percent of global news coverage. It turns out that GDELT actually monitored the initial discussion of Dr. Keita’s press conference on March 13 and detected a surge in domestic coverage beginning on March 14, the day HealthMap flagged the first media mention (which was, it should be noted, in French). The problem is that all of this media coverage was in French — and was not among the French material that GDELT was able to translate those days.
To give an idea of the importance of monitoring across languages, through a grant from Google Translate for Research, GDELT has been feeding a portion of the Portuguese edition of Google News each day through Google Translate for the past year. It turns out that upwards of 70 percent of the events recorded in Portuguese-language news do not appear in English-language news anywhere else in the world. Further, a large portion of these events relate to situations outside of Portugal and Brazil, including former colonial states in Africa, as the map below shows. Increasing our ability to process all of this material would yield tremendous gains in monitoring local media of the sort that provided the first indicators of the Ebola outbreak.
Dr Taleporos, and other advocacy journalists working in the disability media space, are driven by a desire to redress what they view as problematic news agendas and public discourse. In their view, despite the considerable consumer power of PWD and long-established media guidelines on disability, mainstream news media remains inclined to follow the well-trodden path of stereotypical representation of people with disability and disability issues.
Laurie Penny writes at New Statesman, “Social Justice Warriors and the New Culture War“:
If I sound angry here, it’s because I am. I’m angy because I’ve had to listen to these things being said to and about me and many other women creators I admire for too many years now to be polite about it. My anger, however, is different from the incoherent rage sloshing around 4chan, Reddit, MRA forums and other nests of recreational misogyny right now, because the people perpetrating these attacks on women, the people who are so unspeakably angry that women dare, they dare with their stupid ladyheads and evil ladyparts, they dare to come into their special boy spaces and actually demand a voice, they don’t understand why not everyone can see how right they are, how noble, how absolutely justified they are in their cause. They believe that they are justified because freedom of speech—except not freedom of speech for women and queers and people of colour, because those people don’t really speak, they just whine, shriek, scream, like animals, because really that’s all they are, animals.
They think it’s a game.
I’m talking about the whole thing—not just hounding individual women, hacking individual celebrities’ nude pics, trying to trash the reputations of women in the public eye according to outdated double-standards with less and less relevance to our real lives. I’m talking about gender itself, sex and sexuality itself, as a game you can play and win by ‘beating’ the other ‘side’ into submission. A game where the other ‘side’ isn’t really human at all. Shoot to kill. Destroy the brain. Move on.
Devon Maloney writes at The Cut, “The Most Feminist Moments in Sci-fi History“:
But sci-fi history actually has featured ahead-of-its-time, female-identifying authors and creators who have challenged conventional notions of race, gender, and sexuality head-on for centuries. Their contributions are so essential (some are by far the most out-there in the canon) that without them, the genre could not possibly have grown into the blockbuster behemoth it is today. Like many sci-fi creators, this radical group’s explorations weren’t limited to faroff planets; they dove into the sticky, difficult, often ugly realities of their own worlds, many of which are still with us today. They tackled misogyny, homophobia, racism, and the dangers of conventional gender roles — concepts often foreign to the world they inhabited. While their efforts were not always celebrated in the mainstream, they opened the possibility of a better future and pushed the conversation forward.
An extremely nerdy caveat: Many female voices have been excluded from the sci-fi canon based on the argument that the works they create aren’t “really” science fiction, but fantasy (in Party Down, Martin Starr’s Roman is fixated on this — the distinction between “hard” sci-fi and fantasy). While most of this “categorization” is simply a sexist dodge, we do believe in categories. For our purposes, let’s define science fiction here as the depiction of fictional worlds in which science (including space travel), technology, and/or pseudoscience feature prominently and necessarily in the story’s telling. Therefore, A Handmaid’s Tale, though probably one of this writer’s favorite books of all time, is not science fiction (Atwood herself has described it as speculative/dystopian fiction, a genre having more to do with social critique than adventure), while superhero comics — when they feature superpowers — could be considered such.
Elleanor Chin writes at bitch media, “Instead of Banning Yoga Pants, Schools Should Crack Down on Harassment“:
What exactly are adults assuming about “distraction”? Are they talking about boys being sexually aroused? Boys having romantic feelings? Looking at girls? Boys aren’t just passive sacks of hormones, magnetically thrown off course by female parts or pheromones. Young men and boys are responsible for their own arousal, attraction and attention span. Controlling girls’ dress assumes that boys are more frequently or severely distracted just by being around girls than any other source of distraction and that the only way to fix it is to control the girls.
How do you tell if a boy is “distracted by” a girls attire? Is it because he’s catcalling her? Talking about her? Here is where it gets tricky, because schools have a general mission and right to maintain discipline and control student attire to the extent it disrupts the educational environment. But no coverage of this issue I’ve read has discussed how the boys’ distraction actually manifests, and how disruptive it is. But in her letter to the Billings Gazette, Ashley Crtalic makes the connection to sexual harassment, which is certainly a tangible disruption. Crtalic points out that when she was harassed, she was wearing jeans and a t-shirt, not the outfits that got her punished for dress code violations.
Gwendolyn Henry writes at Collected Works, “Reasons why Bi People of Colour often do not participate in spaces created for them“:
Thanks for raising this question regarding Bisexual People of Color and hearing our voices on various forms of media. My take is:
1) Writing our story is not a priority, survival is. [Many]BiPOC are already struggling with physical and mental health conditions so just breathing and staying alive is top on the list.
2) Many BiPOC are closeted in the Lesbian and Gay community. Writing or posting videos using the words [word]”Bisexual” would require them to go through a lot of emotional obstacles and many of [us]them don’t want to and/or don’t have the support to do so.
2a) I found BiPOC writing under the terms “Queer” but that still doesn’t clearly state how many genders they find romantic/sexually attractive. [Queer can apply to people who have multi gender attractions/non-monosexuals (bi, pan, fluid) and monosexuals (lesbian/gay). This umbrella term can often make bisexuals and their unique experiences and needs less visible.]
Erick Brethenoux writing at A Smarter Planet Blog, “The Importance of Tracking Big Data Emotions“:
There are concerns, however. A fine line exists between being perceived as understanding or invasive. But analyzing emotions and getting close to people should not just be about selling more products. It should be about evoking and understanding emotions that help break solitude. This will create opportunities to share empathy and compassion.
It could even enable people to heal faster.
When my daughter was three-years old, she had to have tubes placed in her ears to help with chronic ear infections. What was interesting though was not how she healed, but how she helped others get better. Her surgeon explained that they scheduled operations on Tuesdays and Thursdays, the same days as the most difficult adult procedures. The adults would then recover in a large and common recovery room alongside the children. Why? Because empirical data proves that adults recover faster when exposed to small children who are also recovering.
A few months ago I was having a conversation about the difference between some forms of Western Spirituality and Eastern Spirituality, and why some Westerners are so attracted to forms of Eastern Spirituality. In the end, we reached the conclusion that it might be due to some forms of Eastern Spirituality focusing on being present in the body and most forms of Western Spirituality essentially viewing the body as an evil necessity before you move onto the afterlife.
This then tied into some thoughts I had about yoga, and then some more thoughts I had when my yoga instructor told the class to be and feel heavy, to let our weight sink into the floor, and to let our legs and feet support us, not our shoulders or neck. The mindfullness meditation that I do from time to time, also focuses on being in the body, on being present in the moment, and focusing on the breath, on the sensations of sitting or lying still for a period.
This blog post, which I will attempt to selectively quote from, pretty much sums up my experience of Christian teachings (Catholic for the most part) in relation to the body versus the soul:
Many of the early church Fathers were educated in Greek philosophy or came under its influence. The result was an amalgamation of Christian theology with Greek philosophy.
The theology of the early Middle Ages was dominated by the towering figure of Augustine of Hippo, who completed the fusion of the Pauline emphasis of sin and grace through faith with a Neoplatonic view of man that stressed the imprisonment of the soul in the body. This dualism led to an increasing asceticism in the life of the medieval church, which meant an attitude of indifference or even outright hostility toward the body. The official theology of the church concentrated on getting the soul of the believer into heaven, through the Sacraments, or at least on saving it from hell, as the doctrine of purgatory developed. —James N. Lapsley, Salvation and Health, p.39.
Coming down to the medieval period, Lapsley continues:
If the health of the body was not forgotten, it was once again generally relegated to the status of a matter of relative indifference, which might as well be sacrificed to gain eternal bliss. This was the situation that obtained as Martin Luther grew toward manhood at the turn of the sixteenth century. —Ibid., p.41.
The medieval church did not understand what the New Testament meant by “flesh” and “spirit.” In real Greek fashion she understood these terms to designate two parts of man — the higher and lower natures. Since things like body, work, eating and sexuality belonged to the “flesh,” they were regarded as inferior functions, if not tainted with evil. On the other hand, prayers, fasting, celibacy and religious tasks were regarded as “spiritual” and therefore superior, if not meritorious.
Or a concept of “soul-salvation” which is not a “whole-salvation” can lead people to think that since God is not very concerned with the body, neither should they be too concerned about how they treat the body. It is amazing how many Christians think that they display their spirituality by neglecting the body. If they hasten a coronary by bad living habits, they think that this will be a good testimony of their dedication to the Lord’s work.
It makes sense then that those people attracted to religions and forms of spirituality that focus on being present in your own body, treating it well, and stepping gently on the world around you, are not going to be attracted to Christianity necessarily. It makes sense that people who want to look after themselves, their environment, and their planet are attracted to forms of belief, exercise and spirituality that support those things.
This is, in part, why I do yoga as a form of exercise. It’s one that recognises my body, my journey through life, my ability, and is patient with where I am at today. I am not after the spiritual aspects of yoga, but being a form of meditation and exercise that developed from Hindu, Buddhist and Jain philosophy, it is differently grounded to the philosophies that I grew up with. When I did ballet as a child, we were not taught to move with our breath, to ground ourselves and be connected to the ground we stood on, and we were not taught how to breathe properly (being a singer helped there). Instead we were taught to be as light as air (which is funny in retrospect), to glide, gracefully above the earth as if we were not made from it. Fencing, my preferred form of competitive sport, is again a sport about being light, and nimble – and one not designed so well for women, but that’s a different story.
To take up room, to be heavy, to be your body are radical notions in Western Christian philosophy where the body is seen as something that carries around the soul while you do enough good deeds to get into your deity’s good books before being allowed to be rewarded with heaven after you die.
Oh, and I chose the title of this blog, as one of the worst lines in the Bible – the need to sleep, to eat, to live are seen as a weakness versus things that actually need to be addressed.
We come to the end of a rather hot summer, though the past few days have been spring/autumn like (for a change), and I have been remiss, because I’ve been busy, in putting together my collection of interesting links and stuff to share. So here it is.
Philip Guo at Slate writes, “Silent Technical Privilege“:
OK, all of the above was a lie. With one exception: That is me in the photo. When it was taken, I didn’t even know how to touch-type. My parents were just like, “Quick, pose in front of our new computer!” (Look closely. My fingers aren’t even in the right position.) My parents were both humanities majors, and there wasn’t a single programming book in my house. In sixth grade I tried teaching myself BASIC for a few weeks, but quit because it was too hard. The only real exposure I had to programming prior to college was taking AP computer science in 11th grade, taught by a math teacher who had learned the material only a month before class started. Despite its shortcomings, that class inspired me to major in computer science in college. But when I started freshman year at MIT, I felt a bit anxious because many of my classmates actually did have over 10 years of childhood programming experience; I had less than one.
Even though I didn’t grow up in a tech-savvy household and couldn’t code my way out of a paper bag, I had one big thing going for me: I looked like I was good at programming.
At Politically Homeless, “Scott Morrison should be sacked“:
It strains credibility that the Navy veered off course and did not realise its vessels were in Indonesian waters. The Navy sent its vessels where government told them to go, and did what government told them to do. It is not OK to blame the military for government policy blunders, and ultimately such a tactic will work against the government rather than the military.
From now on people in the military are more likely to leak against this government. People in the military are more likely to have credibility that politicians lack. Any difference of opinion between a politician and the military will be resolved in favour of the military (with the possible exception of bullying allegations). When you consider that military personnel vote Coalition more than any other occupational grouping, this is a political own-goal as well as a governmental one.
Boing Boing have embedded Jay Smooth’s fantastic video, “How to talk about race, productively“, and apart from it being brilliant, is it just me or does Jay Smooth have one of the most amazing speaking voices ever?
Rafe Posey at BuzzFeed writes, “How To Write About Transgender People“:
2. Use your subject’s preferred name, pronoun, and picture.
When was the last time someone asked you to prove that you’re a man or a woman, or that your name and the gender marker on your driver’s license match what’s on your birth certificate? We will tell you who we are. Your job is to listen, not to decide that you have a better idea about who we are just because you think we are “confused.” We don’t need you to explain our identities to us, and we do not need your permission.
Use the names, pronouns, and pictures that we provide. If you are honestly confused, ask politely what our preferences are, and then honor our answers. If we provide information in confidence, don’t reveal that information.
Aaminah Khan at Days Like Crazy Paving writes, “The invisible girl – bisexuality in a biphobic society“:
I’m a bisexual woman in a relationship with a straight man. That means I don’t exist.
You see, in order for society to accept me as bi, they need to see evidence. If I’m not neck-deep in a threesome with an attractive woman on one side and a strapping man on the other, how can they be expected to tell that I’m not monosexual? If I’m dating a woman, I must be lesbian. If I’m dating a man, I must be straight. Unless I’m dating both at the same time, I can’t be bisexual.
The first person to tell me I wasn’t “really” bi was a gay friend of mine. I believe I’ve told the story before, so I won’t retread old ground, but suffice to say that while he was the first, he certainly wasn’t the last. I’ve heard it all – it’s just a phase, I’m fence-sitting so I don’t have to pick a side, I’m greedy, I’ll cheat on my partner, I’m just doing it for the attention, I just don’t want to come out of the closet. It seems everyone has a theory about my sexuality that they’re just dying to share with me, as though they’re the first people ever to think of it. (Yeah, I’ve never heard the one about how I can’t be bi because I’m not poly before. You’re so original!) You’d think I’d know my sexuality better than a stranger, but in a world where anything perceived as differing from the norm instantly becomes fair game for public discussion and dissection, it seems the only person who isn’t a self-proclaimed expert on my sexuality is…me.
Rohin Guha at Jezebel writes, “The Myth of the Fag Hag and Dirty Secrets of the Gay Male Subculture“:
It’s a dirty secret of a subculture of the gay male world about women: That they’re essentially unwelcome, unless they come to us as a Real Housewife, a pop diva, or an Tony award winner–or an unassuming fag hag. To anyone just coming out of the closet and hoping to get his bearings in the gay male community, the attitude towards women is simple: They are just objects whose function is to serve gay men. Maybe it happens when gay men get too comfortable in newly-discovered safe spaces–where they get to call the shots as their proudly out new selves. Or maybe it happens through cultural conditioning. Whatever the cause is, it becomes clear: If there isn’t any kind of transactional exchange happening, then women lose their value in gay male subcultures.
Laurie Penny at New Statesmen writes, “Why patriarchy fears the scissors: for women, short hair is a political statement“:
The “manosphere” really hates short-haired girls. On “game” forums and in personal dating manifestos, the wickedness of short-haired women pops up time and time again as theme and warning – stay away from girls who’ve had their hair chopped off. They’re crazy, they’re deliberately destroying their femininity to “punish” men, but the last laugh will be on them, because the bitches will die alone. Yes, there are people who really believe this. In 2014.
This week, a writer going by the handle Tuthmosis put out a short article explaining why “Girls With Short Hair are Damaged”. The piece has now received over 200,000 interactions on Facebook, so I’m not going to link to it again here. If you scrape through the layers of trolling, though, Tuthmosis’ logical basis for declaring short-haired women “damaged” is pretty interesting.
He writes that long hair is “almost universally attractive to men, when they’re actually speaking honestly. . . Women instinctively know this, which is why every American girl who cuts, and keeps, her hair short often does it for ulterior reasons . . . Short hair is a political statement. And, invariably, a girl who has gone through with a short cut – and is pleased with the changes in her reception – is damaged in some significant way. Short hair is a near-guarantee that a girl will be more abrasive, more masculine, and more deranged.”
Cooper Fleishman at The Daily Dot writes, “The ‘girlfriendzone’ flips the ‘friendzone’ myth on its head“:
So here’s something new: a reaction to the friendzone, called the “girlfriendzone.” It comes from Reddit, whose feministcommunities are becoming an increasingly large presence in the culture there, calling out bullshit and misogyny and forming a safe space for women to converse openly and honestly. Or to give advice to male redditors.
“She’s not friendzoned you, OP,” ObscenePenguin writes. “You’ve girlfriendzoned her. … Seeing a female friend only as a girlfriend is girlfriendzoning.”
It’s flipping the script: identifying the friendzone as an entirely male creation, and putting the onus on dudes not to be entitled pricks about it when girls don’t throw themselves at them.
Jim C Hines writes a very detailed response to Larry Correia’s article in which Larry suggests that requests for science fiction to be more inclusive are killing the genre (which is why we have such great things as Women Destroy Science Fiction Kickstarter which has been successfully funded). Jim’s article is titled, “Fiskception: Dissecting Correia’s Critique of MacFarlane“.
Cosima Marriner at Fairfax writes “Study finds same-sex parenting is not harmful for children“, which shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. Also not coming as a surprise, but frustrating, is that this article is dumped in “Life & Style” and therefore less than “news”.
Children raised by same-sex parents fare just as well in their education, emotional and social development as those raised by heterosexual parents, new research shows.
The report on same sex-parented families in Australia, commissioned by the Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS), found “there is now strong evidence that same-sex-parented families constitute supportive environments in which to raise children”.
The findings are at odds with Liberal Senator Cory Bernardi’s recent comments that the “gold standard” for children’s development is having a biological mother and father who are married.
Report author Deb Dempsey, who reviewed all the research on same sex-parented families, said there was a wealth of evidence that showed the children were doing fine.
Taryn Fox guest posts at Geek Feminism with, “How to kill someone without pulling the trigger“:
The “Just World” fallacy
This is a fancy name for the idea that people tend to get what they deserve. Here in the States, we call it “liberty” and “objectivism” and “reducing dependence on government.” In the Linux and Free Software communities, we call it “meritocracy.”
It’s an extremely convenient belief to have if you’re at the top of your pecking order. It tells you that you deserve to be there, because of how awesome you are. And it tells you not to worry about anybody beneath you, because if they’re deserving they’ll make it eventually. And if they’re not, well, don’t worry about it. It’s their fault, and helping them will just keep them dependent on you. Better to throw them out of the nest and watch their carcasses smear on the rocks, until you find one that can fly like you could.
This mindset stigmatizes being weak or in need of help. It turns being a newb, at life or at Linux, into something to be ashamed of. And when you have this mindset yourself, and are weak or injured, you’re ashamed of everything. You have a desperate need to please others and show that your life is worthwhile. You’re afraid to admit failure, to yourself or to anyone else, because you know that you’ll be destroyed and it’ll be your fault.
Faine Greenwood writes at SF Gate, “Gender gap: Men getting paid more than women in Silicon Valley“:
Men who hold graduate or professional degrees earn a whopping 73 percent more than women with the same educational qualifications, while men with a bachelor’s degree earn 40 percent more than women with the same credentials, the study found.
Income inequality by gender is worse in Silicon Valley than it is for the whole of California: U.S. Census Bureau figures found that males with professional or graduate degrees earn 52 percent more than women when the entire population is taken into account, while men with a bachelor’s degree earn 36 percent more.
Interestingly, the situation in Silicon Valley is actually getting better, notes Rachel Massaro, vice president and senior researcher at Joint Venture Silicon Valley, who crunched the numbers.
“In 2010, men with a graduate or professional degree earned 97 percent more than women with a grad or professional degree,” she said.
Allen Clifton at Forward Progressives writes, “Florida Ordinance Makes it Illegal for Homeless to Use Blankets to Protect Themselves from Weather“, which has since been reversed as reported by T.S. Strickland at PNJ, “Hayward changes course on Pensacola homeless blanket ban“.
Tofik Dibi at Vice writes, “Life as a Gay Imam Isn’t as Bad as It Sounds“:
Just about every predominantly Muslim country forbids homosexuality. In nine of those countries, homosexual activity carries the death penalty. But the thing is, the whole Islamic prejudice against gays seems to be based on one monumental misconception: that certain verses in the Qur’an about Sodom and Gomorrah condemn homosexuality. They do not, according to Ludovic-Mohamed Zahed, Daayiee Abdullah, and Muhsin Hendricks, three openly gay imams I spoke to who are trying to end the marginalization inflicted on LGBT Muslims because of their sexuality.
Tina Vasquez writes at bitchmedia, “It’s Time to End the Long History of Feminism Failing Transgender Women” *trigger warning transphobia and Cathy Brennan*:
This debate is not just feminist-theory inside baseball. Though outspoken, politically active trans-exclusionary radical feminists are relatively few in number, their influence on legislation and mainstream perceptions of transgender people is powerful and real.
For example, transgender people were able to readily obtain government-funded healthcare prior to 1980. That year, Janice Raymond wrote a report for the Reagan administration called “Technology on the Social and Ethical Aspects of Transsexual Surgery” which informed the official federal position on medical care for transgender people. The paper’s conclusion reads, “The elimination of transsexualism is not best achieved by legislation prohibiting transsexual treatment and surgery, but rather by legislation that limits it and by other legislation that lessens the support given to sex-role stereotyping.” In her book Transgender History, Susan Stryker says that the government curtailed transgender access to government social services under Reagan, “In part in response to anti-transgender feminist arguments that dovetailed with conservative politics.”
These days, trans-exclusionary feminists’ voices seem louder than ever, as they use social media to amplify their message. If you start following feminist conversations online, at first it seems like there’s a chorus of individuals running websites that speak out against the dangers of accepting transgender women as women. But then it becomes clear that numerous websites and Twitter feeds come from just one person: Cathy Brennan. On her personal site, Brennan lists her numerous blogs: Gender Fatigue (which recently published a tirade about Janet Mock’s gender that would make Piers Morgan blush), Pretendbians (devoted to documenting transgender people who “oppress Lesbians”), Name the Problem (which posts mugshots of alleged sex offenders along with write-ups about trans activists), the aforementioned Gender Identity Watch (which posits to watch “legal developments that erase female reality”), and a private site called Fauxmosexuals.
Laurie Penny at New Statesmen writes, “The way we talk about rape and abuse is changing” *trigger warning rape*:
Rape culture means more than a culture in which rape is routine. Rape culture involves the systematic silencing of victims even as women and children are instructed to behave like potential victims at all times. In order to preserve rape culture, society at large has to believe two different things at once. Firsty, that women and children lie about rape, but that they should also act as if rape will be the result if they get into a strange car, walk down a strange street or wear a sexy outfit. Secondly, if it happens, it’s their own fool fault for not respecting the unwritten rules.
This paradox involves significant mental gymnastics. But as more and more people come forward with accusations, as the pattern of historical and ongoing abuse of power becomes harder to ignore, the paradox gets harder to maintain. We are faced with two alternatives: either women and children are lying about rape on an industrial, organised scale, or rape and sexual abuse are endemic in this society, and have been for centuries. Facing up to the reality of the latter is a painful prospect.
Mia McKenzie from Black Girl Dangerous writes, “4 Ways to Push Back Against Your Privilege“:
3. Shut up
This one is so, so important. If you are a person with a lot of privilege (i.e. a white, straight, able-bodied, class-privileged, cisgender male or any combination of two or more of those) and you call yourself being against oppression, then it should be part of your regular routine to sit the hell down and shut the eff up. If you can recognize that part of the reason your opinion, your voice, carries so much weight and importance is because you are a white man (or whatever combination is working for you), then pushing back against your privilege often looks like shutting your face. Now, of course, using your privilege to speak out against oppression is very important. But I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about chiming in, taking up space, adding your two cents, playing devil’s advocate, etc. when 1) no one asked you, 2) the subject matter is outside your realm of experience (why do you even think you get to have an opinion about the lives of black women??), 3) anything you say is just going to cause more harm because your voice, in and of itself, is a reminder that you always get to have a voice and that voice usually drowns out the voices of others.
Rebecca Shaw writes at SBS, “Comment: Why it matters that Ellen Page came out“:
Her nervousness instantly took me back to the night that I first spoke those words out loud to another human being. It was one of the scariest things that I have ever done, and I remember the clenched feeling in my chest, my stomach rolling with nerves.
We were sitting outside in the cold, and I can still see my breath coming out hard and fast into the night air. I was terrified – and drunk. And yet, I knew that the person I was telling would be 100 per cent fine with it. In fact, I knew that she probably already knew. It didn’t matter. Saying those words out loud, even to an incredibly receptive crowd (like the HRC) is petrifying.
Brocklesnitch writes, “Biscaryials“:
Take Olympic diver Tom Daley. Don’t you think it is weird that he seemed so COMFORTABLE saying that he still fancies women while dating a MAN? Someone has obviously been taking acting lessons from Dustin Lance Orange is the New Black!! How else could you explain that he seemed content to imply that he is attracted to both sexes? That is just not possible. They are so different! Men like doing things like sports and beer and women like doing things like shopping and wine! How the fuck could you ever be attracted to both of those, like some sort of hybrid human who could enjoy beer AND wine? Or sports AND shopping?
leenamielus at Facetruth writes, “I Took Off My Hijab“:
By adding more layers. A knit hat and scarf around my neck to be exact.
I didn’t understand what was happening at first. People started talking to me more. Women would speak to me like I knew them since forever. Men looked at me like I was actually approachable. And I was made to feel like I was actually from this planet.
Maybe I was finally fitting in? Maybe I was no longer self conscious about my unique dress code and a face lacking makeup?
But then it became fishy. The Muslim taxi drivers who would almost always say “Assalamu Alaikum,” ask me where I’m from or if I’m single, or not allow me to pay for the fare became cold and dry. I would simply give the address, and the only dialog thereafter was at time of payment. It was puzzling.
Jacqueline Applebee at Blogging in Shadows writes, “Biphobia“:
The bank I work for starts an LGBT networking group. I don’t quite believe it is real until I enter a room full of happy faces. Queer staff and their partners from all over the South-East have travelled to our Brighton head office to take part in the launch. Of course, Biphobia turns up to the event too. He sloshes down bottles of wine, and eats all the sausage rolls.
A senior cashier from Littlehampton corners me by the windows. “Did you bring your girlfriend with you?” she asks.
“I have a boyfriend,” I respond before I can stop myself. “He was busy.”
The cashier looks like I’ve slapped her. “This group is vitally important for gays and lesbians. It’s not for straights.”
“I’m bisexual.” I’m aware my voice is a whisper. I’m aware I don’t want anyone else to hear me. Biphobia slips an arm around my shoulder. I feel totally intimidated.
Alan Austin at Independent Australia writes, “Churches combine to condemn Abbott’s evils“:
Last month, IAlisted several transgressions which have dismayed Roman Catholics. These include bioethical issues, persistent blatant lying, dudding Indigenous people, cutting overseas aid, abusing vulnerable people, militarism, spying and redistributing wealth and income in favour of the rich.
Since then, further wrongs have provoked the outrage of Catholics and Protestants alike.
What seems most offensive, however, is that those committing such clear violations of fundamental Christian teaching actually profess strong personal belief.
Such hypocrisy, according to all strands within Christendom, deserves special condemnation.
Several religious groups have sheeted home blame for this week’s loss of life on Manus Island to Abbott’s regime.
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.
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.
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.
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. 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.
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.’
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.
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.
Because we should never tire of talking about people’s individual right to make their own medical decisions, their own choices about their body, and their own life choices (as a collective, of course as individuals, we probably all get tired of this at some time or another).
So the new Pope, who was reported on Friday as being more “meh” about abortion because the Catholic Church had done that to death recently, and all the other good messages in the fresh and fragrant Gospels (his words not mine) were being lost in the “thou shalt not” stance of the church, came out today condemning abortion in order to placate the hardliners in the Church who thought that the Pope was being soft on abortion. Because there is nothing more inspiring that someone saying, “yeah I know, this message is getting old and there are other things we should be talking about, but did you know that WE HATE ABORTION?”
Of course people only have abortions because of convenience according to the Pope:
Pope Francis offered an olive branch of sorts to the doctrine-minded, conservative wing of the Catholic church on Friday, when he denounced abortions as a symptom of today’s “throw-away culture” and encouraged Catholic doctors to refuse to perform them.
which as we all know is complete bollocks. I had an abortion to save my life, an abortion that would not have been performed in the hospital I had first arrived at, Saint Vincents, despite the fact that I was internally hemorrhaging and had I been left untreated I would have died. I know other people who have had abortions because they believed that they were not capable of being parents at that time. I know people who have had abortions because being pregnant would cause a myriad of potentially fatal health issues. I know people who have had abortions because they could not afford to have a child. I know people who have had abortions because they were mortally afraid of being pregnant and having children. All these issues and more do not make up a “throw-away culture”. I don’t know anyone who has medical procedures for the fun of it.
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”.
He did repeat it on Friday, however. In his comments, Francis denounced today’s “throw-away culture” that justifies disposing of lives, and said doctors in particular had been forced into situations where they are called to “not respect life.”
“Every child that isn’t born, but is unjustly condemned to be aborted, has the face of Jesus Christ, has the face of the Lord,” he said.
He urged the gynaecologists to abide by their consciences and help bring lives into the world. “Things have a price and can be for sale, but people have a dignity that is priceless and worth far more than things,” he said. (The Guardian)
I certainly feel secure in my medical treatment knowing that there are doctors out there who do not have my best interests at heart. I certainly feel welcome in the Catholic Church, an institution that does not trust women to be able to make up their own minds on issues. I completely trust a religious institution that tells me that sex must have consequences for those who are fertile and have uteri.
The Catholic Church has consistently been anti-choice for as long as abortion has been a public issue, they are at least consistent with that. They’ve consistently been on the side of a cluster of cells that cannot survive outside the individual it is growing in (while consuming their blood, energy and nutrition), instead of the individual who may or may not want that cluster of cells. They have been consistently on the side of sex having consequences for those with uteri, instead of celebrating that sex is good for you, and consensual sex without consequences actually improves the wellbeing of everyone. They have been on the side of that cluster of cells, instead on the side of families and individuals who are already struggling with poverty, disease, an excess of children, or immediate health consequences.
So eager is the Catholic Church to see more children born, that even in cases where the embryo is non-viable, they will still attempt to block access to abortion if at all possible. We know that the Catholic Church will block access to abortion too when there is the choice between saving the mother’s life or leaving her pregnant and dead.
Every time I think that the Catholic Church might begin to reform, this shit comes up and I swear off it even further than I already have. An organisation of men who think they know what is best for women – sounds similar to our own Government right now, but still – the Catholic Church is not a friend to those with uteri, and if you are a member of it, you need to remember that if you ever need to assert your right to your body.
Other useful reading by Libby Anne at Love Joy Feminism on this topic:
- Social safety net? Heck no! Women must pay for sex!
- Awesome Comment Award: Emjb on how fetuses are made
- The Pro-Life Movement, Erasing Women Edition
We arrived in Rome on Sunday, completely wasted and insufficiently prepared for the 38C day ahead of us, and the fact that we had 4 hours between us arriving at our accommodation and being able to check in. We managed… just. Mostly we managed by finding gelati, followed by finding a restaurant that would serve us lunch early, and then by taking refugee in a nearby park for the remainder of the time. When we got to our apartment and checked in, we showered, slept for 6 hours, got up had dinner, and then went back to bed and slept for another 8 hours. We were quite jetlagged.
Photos are here.
Things I’ve learnt about Rome so far
1. Never visit during a heatwave – in fact probably avoid visiting at all during summer
The daily maximum temperature since we’ve arrived has been 37 – 39C. This is a very hot temperature to wander around in outside, and when you remember that that is the temperature in the shade, the moment you step outside the shade and into a piazza, or a unshaded set of ruins, the temperature rapidly becomes unbearable. This makes me admire the tenacity of street vendors who spend their day in the sun selling hats, cold water, parasols, fans, sunglasses, and other goods. I’ve now decided that if I ever do come back to Rome, it’ll be in Spring or Autumn when hopefully the weather is cooler.
We are scheduled to have a cool change (with the max for tomorrow being 30) with possibly some rain, which will bring a whole new light to the city.
2. Romans have dogs
You don’t hear them, you sometimes see them being walked by their owners, but mostly you notice that said owners don’t clean up after their dogs when they take them for walks. I’m actually surprised by the number of dogs I’ve seen in the neighbourhood I’m in, and the sizes. I haven’t actually seen any cats, not even stray cats. There must be cats about somewhere.
3. Ancient Rome is everywhere
We’re staying about 400 metres from the Colosseum, so yeah, you’d expect Ancient Rome to be everywhere here, but it’s everywhere, everywhere. No matter which way you go, you end up finding a bit of ruined wall here, an old gate there, a former temple or some columns over there. Judging from the tourist information at the places I’ve been to so far, there is clearly an ongoing dilemma as to whether or not preserve the ruins or move on and modernise the city, and the government of the day plays a large part in the attitude towards such things. Right now I think Rome is in the maintain the ruins, but previous governments at various times have bulldozed historical remains in order to build roads, train stations, and train lines. I cannot imagine what it must be like to make those decisions.
Rome also has a law that states that any ancient artefact found in the ground automatically belongs to the state.
There is so much Ancient Rome about the place, that they keep finding it. Entire houses have been uncovered (either buried by dirt or river silt), and the contents catalogued and stored in museums. The Roman Archeological Department must be masters in relocating frescos and mosaics, because I went to a museum today and saw many of them mounted on walls. Moving such fragile and delicate (not to mention fiddly) objects of art would take immense skill.
4. Ancient traditions survive
I played a game called Ceasar III, in which you were building Roman cities and defending your city against barbarian invasions/pacifying the barbarians. One of the strategies you had to employ was that all the buildings in an area had to have access to fresh water, or they would not increase in size/affluence. This still happens in Rome. There are water taps (best description I can come up with) with cold drinking water (very necessary in this heat) available for anyone to use, and they’re everywhere. You can fill your water bottle, wet your head, give your dog a drink – it’s fresh water provided by the government. This is awesome.
5. Parking is an artform
Rome is tiny, there are many people with cars who drive from A to B, who want to park their vehicle when they arrive at B (or A). Consequently, car parking ballet is an interesting sight to behold. Basically if there is a space on the side of the road, including on the corner of the intersection, people will park in it, no matter what the signs say. People drive around looking for carparks in the vicinity they want to be in, and then race for that space that they think they’ll park in. Also, Romans are masters of parallel parking. I have no idea how people get in or out of the tiny spaces they fit their cars into, nor how they manage when they find that they’ve been entirely boxed in.
6. There are churches everywhere
You cannot sneeze without it hitting a church, or basilica, or other religious site. Rome really is the most Catholic of all, and they have all the monuments to prove it. Within 100 metres of my apartment are two basilicas, and numerous more if I drew a 500m radius from where I’m sitting. As Christianity spread throughout Rome, former temples and monuments to other gods were repurposed, often without changing the exterior. Also at some point, Popes in Rome enjoyed the artwork of Roman polytheism and didn’t mind that monuments and fountains dedicated to them were covered in Ancient Roman gods.
I do appreciate that there is current acknowledgement at historical sites that the early Christian Church (once it converted emperors), happily persecuted anyone still practicing their old faiths after those faiths were outlawed. It’s not every day such honesty is displayed.
The Vatican really does have WAY too much power, way too much wealth, and way too much influence. Guess what I couldn’t find at the local supermarket? That’s right, condoms. Yes, seriously.
7. Language is not required
I have been existing mostly in the tourist areas, so the majority of the serving staff I’ve interacted with do speak some English, and since I am a tourist, this has worked out perfectly. The handful of Italians I have come across that consider themselves poor English speakers have still been relatively easy to communicate with. The joys of speaking more than one language, and the supremacy of English that makes me lazy.
That’s my quick summation for now. It’s been too hot to really enjoy the food, however the gelati is amazing. Stay tuned for an update on Florence (next week), another post about Cologne (the week following), and a final post about Paris (again, at the end of August).