Tag Archives: Religion

The Epic Linkspam of Today! May 2013

So, here are all the awesome and interesting things I’ve been reading lately (well the ones that don’t end up in the Down Under Feminist Carnival – which you should totally check out).

Chrys Stevenson at Gladly the Cross Eyed Bear writes, “Piers Akerman – Dinosaur Extraordinaire“:

Of course, every age has had its share of dinosaurs. And, as I contemplated the ridiculous sight of Piers Akerman channelling fellow fossil, Corey Bernardi on the Insiders, it occurred to me that, in a different age, Piers Akerman would have been making similarly ridiculous arguments about other issues.

For example, Piers, arguing that “…if you can have all of the social benefits of a civil union without calling it marriage, why do you want to go that extra step?” reminded me of the dinosaurs who argued against those new-fangled horseless carriages. Why would you want a motor vehicle when you can have a perfectly good horse?

Kevin Rose at the New York Mag writes, “Meet the 28-Year-Old Grad Student Who Just Shook the Global Austerity Movement” proving that simple errors can affect millions of people:

Herndon became instantly famous in nerdy economics circles this week as the lead author of a recent paper, “Does High Public Debt Consistently Stifle Economic Growth? A Critique of Reinhart and Rogoff,” that took aim at a massively influential study by two Harvard professors named Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff.  Herndon found some hidden errors in Reinhart and Rogoff’s data set, then calmly took the entire study out back and slaughtered it. Herndon’s takedown — which first appeared in a Mike Konczal post that crashed its host site with traffic — was an immediate sensation. It was cited by prominent anti-austerians like Paul Krugman, spoken about by incoming Bank of England governor Mark Carney, and mentioned on CNBC and several other news outlets as proof that the pro-austerity movement is based, at least in part, on bogus math.

s.e. smith at This Ain’t Living writes, “Seriously Though Why Are Vision and Dental Coverage Extra?“:

I took a look at my body in the mirror this morning, just to make sure everything was where I’d left it, and indeed, everything appeared to be. Every now and then I like to do that, you know. One thing I noticed about my body, and something I think about rather a lot, actually, is that my eyes and teeth appear to be rather firmly and permanently part of it. I mean, I guess I couldn’t have been looking at my body at all if I had no eyes, so obviously those came factory installed in my case, but when I opened my mouth, lo and behold, a set of choppers loomed at me and I was reminded that I needed to brush my teeth.

Yet, health insurance companies as well as government health care programmes seem to believe this is not actually the case, that eyes and teeth are either not part of your body, or are optional upgrades. Extras that you can pay more for if you want them, but aren’t supported under warranty, so to speak. Like, okay, we’ll insure your smartphone, but if something happens to the special bluetooth headset you bought to go with it, don’t come whining to us, because that’s not our responsibility.

s.e. smith at This Ain’t Living also writes, “Inspirational Boy Doesn’t Let His Lack of Impairment Stop Him“:

Most of us could never imagine being nondisabled, and the daily hardship that comes with it; little Billy Jo is really such an inspiration with his courage and bravery every day, let alone with his bold dream of becoming a dancer. Just looking at him is a reminder that there are so many special people among us who have been sent to bless us and teach us. Billy Jo is a lesson in tolerance and he’s sending such a great message to other nondisabled children like him who have a chance to see that it’s possible to achieve great things if you try hard enough.

David Donovan at Independent Australia writes, “Tony Abbott and the “slit your throat” staffer scandal“:

The lies seem to be stacking up, but there are also, of course, questions of ethics and integrity — such as how does a staffer that physically threatens another person and then offers to be a spy for a prominent journalist get to keep his job at all?

And, even more importantly, what cuts to funding for Indigenous programmes are planned under a Coalition Government. Given some of our previous reports, Abbott’s true commitment towards Indigenous affairs must be drawn into question — Roberts’ statements compound these concerns.

None of these questions appear to have been asked by Australia’s dormant mainstream media.

Belen Fernandez at Aljazeera writes, “How to write about Muslims“:

Needless to say, the aftermath of 9/11 did not yield much thoughtful consideration on the part of the mainstream punditry as to the context for such events. According to one prominent narrative, 9/11 was simply evidence of an inherent and unfounded Muslim hatred of the West.

A notable exception was veteran British journalist Robert Fisk. In an article published in The Nation immediately following the attacks, Fisk issued the following prescient warning:

“[T]his is not really the war of democracy versus terror that the world will be asked to believe in the coming days. It is also about US missiles smashing into Palestinian homes and US helicopters firing missiles into a Lebanese ambulance in 1996 and American shells crashing into a village called Qana and about a Lebanese militia – paid and uniformed by America’s Israeli ally – hacking and raping and murdering their way through refugee camps.”

The sale of the “war on terror”, Fisk stressed, depended on the obscuration of all details regarding past and continuing devastation of Arab lands and lives – including US State Department-applauded sanctions that eliminated half a million children in Iraq – “lest they provide the smallest fractional reason for the mass savagery on September 11”.

Will at Queereka writes, “I am Queer: Beyond the Trans/Cis Binary“:

This is a difficult topic for me to find the right language for. I do not feel that there are labels that really encapsulate my identity. “Gay” is too focused on sexual orientation and does not help me to make sense of those aspects of my gender that are variant and non-conforming. “Man” does not really adequately describe me either, and it’s a category and label I have a lot of discomfort with. I do not identify as transgender because I feel that to do so would be appropriative. I also do not care much about recognition (people seeing and identifying me as man) or misrecognition (typically people hearing me and identifying me as a woman, or just randomly calling me “ma’am” or “she/her”) as far as gender is concerned—though I do despise being identified as heterosexual because I am a white male-bodied person (this often happens online, people assume that because I am white and male-bodied that I must therefore be straight as well). I do not identify as cisgender because my gender identity does not match “man,” the gender normatively assigned to my male body. I did come across the term “demiguy,” which vaguely seems to capture my feelings, though I think any association I have with masculinity is because I’m outwardly conforming in appearance in many ways—it’s not because I identify with masculinity in any meaningful way.

This is why I have begun to define myself simply as queer. I have what would be considered a normative male body, but my gender identity is not normative. And it continues changing as I live my life. Part of the impetus for this piece has been the ending of a three-year relationship in which I often felt trapped and judged to the extent that I shaped my behavior to be more conforming than I had previous to the relationship. The sudden, abrupt ending of that relationship turned my world upside down. But it also gave me an opportunity to take stock. In a lot of ways, I was not being true to the self I had finally come to accept before entering that relationship. Now, three years later, I’m re-discovering who I am, what I value, and starting to make sense of my inner dialogue.

Jenny Morber at Double X Science writes, “The average human vagina“:

So, are you normal? Are you average? Yes. No. Most likely. It turns out that there is so much variation among female anatomy that doctors, surgeons, and researchers find it difficult to define exactly what normal is – or even if it exists. And a few at least have been trying.

A beautiful animated short called Caldera which I strongly recommend watching.

Mariam Veiszedah at ABC Religion writes, “Inescapable racism: Reflections of a ‘proud refugee‘”:

I was also subsequently advised by others on Twitter that I should have the phrase “proud Aussie” in my Twitter profile, rather than “proud Refugee.” I use this phrase in my profile, not because I am an ungrateful Aussie, but because I want to demonstrate that refugees are educated and active participants in our community. Ultimately, I want to help change perceptions. Moreover, if my actions don’t demonstrate my gratitude, how would a label somehow do the trick? And why must I assert my level of Australianness every minute of the day? Excessive pride and racial hate speech should be viewed in the same manner – both are entirely unnecessary, really.

Since Friday, I’ve been overwhelmed by messages of support and compassion, and indeed by offers from strangers to help me. For every instance of abuse, there are many expressions of compassion and solidarity. Perhaps the one that has meant the most to me was from former Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser: “I am deeply sorry you had to experience that, some people are so insensitive and stupid, try not to let worry you.” Mr Fraser, of course has been especially vocal in recent times and spoken out about the plight of asylum seekers – if only some of our incumbent politicians shared and expressed his same convictions!

Zoe Krupka at New Matilda writes, “Why Mourn Boston – And Not Kabul?“:

There’s been a lot said lately about how we’re talking about Boston and not so much about Iraq and Afghanistan. We’re wondering if one life is worth more than another in our current media cycle. But what’s behind our arguably disproportionate attention to the Boston bombings? Are we just suffering from an incapacity to care for more than our own?

There’s a conversation we’ve been trying to have about racism in the reporting of the Boston bombings. It’s the same conversation we try to have every time there’s a tragedy in the West that measured globally, barely tips the Richter scale of international disaster. We get started with this conversation, as Virginia Trioli recently tried to do, but it either gets brutally cut down or prematurely cut short.  I think we’re having trouble following it through because the truth of why we seem to care more about Boston than about Kabul and Ramullah may just be too hard for us to swallow.

Violeta Politoff at New Matilda writes, “Why Media Gender Equality Matters”:

VicHealth has shown that among men, the most common predictor of the use of violence against women is their agreement with sexist, patriarchal, and/or sexually hostile attitudes. So based on this research it is clear that seeking gender equity in the media, where ideas are disseminated and reinforced, is integral to the prevention of violence against women.

In the research I’ve undertaken with Professor Jenny Morgan, we’ve found that, in spite of the importance of attitudes towards gender equity in the ongoing issue of violence against women, issues of gender are rarely discussed in the reporting.

The lack of context in the reporting of violence against women tended to make the violence appear only as an individual problem (a family or relationship problem) rather than also being part of a broader social problem. One consequence of individualising the issue is that it tends to erase gender from discussions of the dynamics of violence against women, even though attitudes towards gender play a central role in the ongoing problem.

Daniel Golding at ABC Arts writes, “BioShock Infinite: an intelligent, violent videogame?“:

The first major choice that players of BioShock Infinite are presented with is whether they would like to publicly punish an interracial couple or not. You may choose to throw a ball at the couple, who are tied up in front of a crowd at a fair, or you may choose to throw the ball at the man who is asking you to do so. The outcome of your choice is mostly the same.

Let’s think about that for a moment. BioShock Infinite, the game that many would hope to point to as an example of how art and subtlety might be found in expensive, mainstream videogames, sets up its moral stakes by asking the player if they would like to be a violent bigot.

These are the complex and difficult decisions found in videogames in 2013: would you like to be in the Ku Kux Klan or would you like to be Abraham Lincoln? Would you like to join the Nazi party or found the United Nations? Would you like to be for or against?

Do you see the nuance here? Do you see the art?

John Walker at Rock Paper Shotgun writes, “Misogyny, Sexism, And Why RPS Isn’t Shutting Up“:

There is a clear message: Rock, Paper, Shotgun will never back down on the subject of sexism and misogyny (nor racism, nor homophobia, for that matter) in games, the games industry, and the games journalism industry. Good times are ahead – we can see them.

Many women are mistreated and misrepresented within the games industry. It’s not a matter of opinion, a political position, or claim made to reinforce previous bias. It’s the demonstrable, sad truth. Ask women in the games industry – find out. That you may not perceive it does not mean it doesn’t exist. That you may not perpetuate it doesn’t mean it isn’t relevant to you. Whether you are male or female or identify anywhere between does not exclude you nor repudiate you from the matter. The amount to which you think it doesn’t exist is directly proportional to the amount to which you do not care that it exists. If you don’t care that it exists, I hope you are willing to be open-minded enough to try to empathise with others that do – at least give that a go. And if you care passionately about it, and feel offended by the tone of this piece as if it doesn’t acknowledge you, then I apologise, and hope you understand why.

Jane Hodge at Champions of Change writes, “Australia’s Hysteria“:

Although Australia experienced a rise in asylum applications, the total number of applications registered in Australia in 2012 was a modest 15,800 compared with the 355,500 claims received in Europe and the 103,900 received in North America. As information and research from Australia’s commonwealth parliamentary library shows, since 1999–2001, when Australia last experienced a surge in boat arrivals during the Howard Government, irregular maritime arrivals (IMA’s) lodging asylum claims have consisted primarily of people from Afghanistan followed by Iraq, Iran and Sri Lanka. However, Australia has not shouldered a significant amount of asylum flows from these countries—much higher numbers of asylum seekers from these countries have gone to the UK and other destination countries. In fact, as Guterres notes, none of the industrialised countries, Australia included, shoulder a significant amount of asylum seekers compared to the developing countries neighbouring most of the world’s conflict zones. The vast majority of asylum seekers are hosted in countries such as Pakistan, so the burden of assisting the world’s asylum seekers and refugees actually falls to some of the world’s poorest countries.

So what does this tell us about Australia’s hysteria around receiving 3% of the industrialized worlds asylum applications? (3% take note, is the amount of applications lodged, not the amount of visas granted). What this tells us is that other industrialised countries, and many more poor developing countries, take many more asylum seekers than we do in Australia, and that they deal with the situation much better. Take Sweden for example, who accepts nearly 3 times the number of asylum seekers per year than we do in Australia. In Sweden asylum seekers are welcomed, are assigned their own case worker and lawyer, are allowed freedom of movement and work rights, are allowed to live with friends or family, and are provided financial support and a housing allowance, all whilst their claims are processed in a maximum of 3 months. Sweden, it seems recognizes asylum seekers for what they are; everyday humans like you and I fleeing persecution.

Shakira Hussein at New Matilda writes, “A Female Muslim In Parliament“:

Such spaces are far less visible in Australia, but even here more and more Muslims like Faruqi are speaking out against homophobia. One of the most high-profile young Muslim women, human rights activist Samah Hadid, caused a minor stir within her community when she told The Australian that she was “a passionate advocate for gay rights”. There is still a lack of friendly space for LGBT Muslims, but up-and-coming leaders like Hadid are willing to put in the hard work to create them. The idea that a Muslim politician must therefore take a homophobic policy stance does not reflect the worldview of many Muslims in Australia.

I do not expect to agree with all aspects of Faruqi’s political opinions just because we belong to the same religions — or because we belong to the same gender, come to that.

Julia Serano writes, “Bisexuality does not reinforce the gender binary“:

The second, and far more important reason (at least for me), why I embrace the word bisexual is that people perceive me and react to me very differently depending on whether the person I am coupled with is (or appears to be) a woman or a man.

In the hetero-mainstream, when I am paired with a man, I am read as straight; when I am paired with a woman, I am read as queer. In queer settings, when I am paired with a woman, I am read as lesbian/dyke/queer and viewed as a legitimate member of the community.

But when I am paired with a man (especially when the man in question is cisgender), then I am not merely unaccepted and viewed as an outsider, but I may even be accused of buying into or reinforcing the hetero-patriarchy.

So in other words, the “bi” in bisexual does not merely refer to the types of people that I am sexual with, but to the fact that both the straight and queer worlds view me in two very different ways depending upon who I happen to be partnered with at any given moment.

Faisal Darem at Al-Shorfa writes “Children Parliament in Yemen strong voice on major issues“:

Members of Yemen’s Children’s Parliament may be young, but they serve as the first line of defence on children’s issues and can influence government policy.

Its members can summon ministers who handle children’s rights for questioning or make recommendations and submit them to the House of Representatives and the Shura Council for discussion.

The Children’s Parliament meets for three days every three months in one of parliament’s halls. Its members have the support and sponsorship of the president and the Yemeni Parliament.

Children’s Parliament in Yemen was established by the Democracy School, a grass roots organization in Yemen, which oversees parliament’s elections and organises its meetings. Its inaugural session was held in 2000.

Lauren Rankin at policymic writes, “Transphobia Has No Place in Feminism“:

Bigotry is often born out of fear and confusion at those whose identities we don’t understand. We fear that their difference reflects on our sameness, and in a rush to blanket ourselves in the comfort of conformity, we demonize their difference. Progressives often bemoan the bigotry underlying the policies and political positions of those on the right, but the sad truth is that bigotry exists even in progressive and feminist spaces. And nowhere is that more evident that in the transphobia, both latent and outright, that underwrites many facets of the feminist movement

Often, mainstream feminists simply avoid talking or writing about trans women. Trans woman and activist Sophia Banks emphasizes that while she identifies as a feminist, her experience within the feminist community has been largely mixed. “Intersectional feminists have been great but many radical feminists have been really hurtful towards me,” she says, highlighting that many feminists work within the confines of gendered language, and, perhaps unknowingly, operate from an assumption that cisgender women (cisgender means someone who identifies with the gender they were born with) are their target audience.

Any assumption that cisgender women are the only true women is a blatant form of bigotry. And honestly, it’s in direct violation of Feminism 101. After all, Simone De Beauvoir said more than half a century ago “One is not born, but rather becomes, a woman.”

Javier C. Hernandez at The New York Times writes and obituary for Mary Thom, “Mary Thom, an Editor Who Shaped Feminist Voices, Dies at 68“:

Mary Thom, a chronicler of the feminist movement and former executive editor of Ms. magazine, died Friday in a motorcycle accident in Yonkers. She was 68 and lived in Manhattan.

The Women’s Media Center, where Ms. Thom was the editor in chief, announced her death. Ms. Thom joined Ms. magazine in 1972 as an editor, rising to become executive editor in 1990. She was known as a journalistic virtuoso who shaped the writing of many of the feminist movement’s luminaries, including Gloria Steinem.

Deborah Stone at Arts Hub writes about Shareena Clanton in “‘I just want a job where I don’t get beaten up.’“:

Aboriginal actress Shareena Clanton will hit screens in Wentworth this week playing Doreen Anderson, a prisoner with a history of drugs, alcohol and abuse. Clanton is already well known from her role as Lilly in Redfern Now, another drug addict, this time with a psychiatric illness.

If you are sensing a theme here you’d be right and it’s impossible to ignore Clanton’s conclusion that the reason is simply racist typecasting. Casting directors take one look at her dark skin and cast her as a victim or a loser.

‘In the roles I get I’m always being beaten up, if not physically, then emotionally. I’m always a drug addict or I’ve been abused or I’m supposed to be this dumb Aborigine. Why can’t I be the secretary or the cop?  Why can’t I just be the mother on the Kellogg’s commercial sending the kids off to school with breakfast?’

Over at the UN website, “Religion and culture cannot justify discrimination against gays and lesbians, Ban warns“:

Pledging that “we must right these wrongs,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today denounced discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people, and declared that religion, culture and tradition can never be a justification for denying them their basic rights.

“Governments have a legal duty to protect everyone,” he said in a video message to the Oslo Conference on Human Rights, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, voicing outrage at the assault, imprisonment and murder of. LGBTs. “Some will oppose change. They may invoke culture, tradition or religion to defend the status quo.

“Such arguments have been used to try to justify slavery, child marriage, rape in marriage and female genital mutilation. I respect culture, tradition and religion – but they can never justify the denial of basic rights.”

Clementine Ford at Daily Life writes, “Debunking the myths of sex work“:

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been both witness to and participant in a number of conversations around sex work, autonomy and feminism. A recent argument on Twitter had me baffled by one representative from a conservative feminist organisation in Australia, who trotted out the tired idea that sex work degrades and harms all women. Elsewhere, people have been rehashing the argument that the sex industry is a sort of Outland ghetto for traumatised drug addicts, abuse survivors and the mentally ill, all of whom are connected by the singular characteristic of having little to no self-esteem. We can pity them, but gosh wouldn’t we just hate for anyone we loved to be them?

Well no, I wouldn’t hate that actually. I have a number of friends and acquaintances who have either been or currently are sex workers. No doubt I know greater numbers of women still who may one day become sex workers. And I’m tired of seeing their lives denigrated because of how they choose to make money – as if taking off your clothes for a pre-arranged fee is somehow less honourable than working for a mining company or a tabloid magazine.

Demonising sex workers under the guise of “helping” them is simply a way of expressing puritanical snobbery. As an intellectual tool, it relies more on myths and prejudices than any real knowledge of the lives of sex workers.

Wade Roush at xconomy writes, “Dropcam CEO’s Beef with Brogramming, Late Nights, and Free Dinners“:

It probably has something to do with the 26-year-old CEO’s views about the right way to build a company—which emphatically aren’t the views you’ll find at most startups around Silicon Valley. He thinks the lavish perks at many technology companies, especially the free on-campus meals, are a disguised form of mind control, designed to get employees to work 12- or 14-hour days.

That’s why there are no free dinners at Dropcam—around 6:00 pm the company shoos employees out the door to eat with their families. And here’s what else you won’t find at Dropcam: free services or products that trade on users’ attention or data to earn revenue; an engineering department full of young, single, childless males; and, according to Duffy, assholes of any description.

Merran Reed at Time Out Melbourne writes, “Free Love: The Age of Polyamory“:

Anne asserts that polyamory isn’t for everyone. “You’ve got to really enjoy relating to people and spending time with them. You’re going to get confronted with a lot of your insecurities whether you like it or not. So if you’re not looking for personal growth, don’t bother.”

Having multiple relationships challenges what Hollyweird movie endings have instilled in us, rejecting the idea that one person can make you complete. “That’s what I love,” Anne exclaims. “You’re free to enjoy what is organically real about the relationship. You don’t have to make it anything else.”

At brofiling, “white privilege radically changes the appearance of Tsarnaev bros“:

Just so it is said, clearly and unambiguously: the Tsarnaev brothers are white guys. They are white. The FBI’s own wanted poster for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev lists his race as “white”, but you would never know it from the cover image on The Week.

Hold up the cover to someone else, and ask them how many white people they can see on the cover. Chances are they will identify Gabby Giffords on the top left and the image of the Boston policemen (all white men) on the top right, but how about those two guys in the center? Nope, not a chance that anyone would say these caricatures look white.

Why? Because in addition to being white they are also “Muslim”, which is the current dehumanizing “Other” label that whiteness has constructed as a sanctioned target for violence in US popular culture.

Sarah Burnside at New Matilda writes, “How To Make It As A Female Op-Ed Star“:

These opportunities also come with inbuilt limitations. English writer and activist Laurie Penny noted in a 2012 interview that the “first two articles I ever had commissioned by a major newspaper were about my experience of anorexia as a teenager and my brief stint as a burlesque dancer”. These pieces had followed on the heels of unsuccessful pitches of “any number of serious political pieces which didn’t have anything to do with me or my arse”.

Penny explained that “[y]oung women in particular have to work very hard to get into this industry, and it’s often a toss-up…between getting work and being taken seriously”.

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The proof is actually in the Tony Abbott pudding

So today Abbott has come out saying that he’s a changed man, that he’s grown and changed (recently) and that we shouldn’t judge him by comments he made 35 years ago.  Ok, sure, I won’t judge Tony Abbott for comments he made 35 years ago, back when he was a dick, I’ll judge him for comments he’s said far more recently than that, which still show he’s still a dick.

Harsh you might say, but I note he hasn’t actually come out distancing himself from those far more recent comments.  Let’s look at today’s news across the spectrum of news agencies.

First the ABC:

Federal Opposition Leader Tony Abbott says he can guarantee that his religious views will not impact on policies about women.

The Liberal leader has also backtracked from his previous views on homosexuals and saying the numbers of abortions each year is a “legacy of unutterable shame”.

“I didn’t express it as well as I could have or should have,” Mr Abbott said.

“And I absolutely accept that for any woman facing an unexpected pregnancy, the choices are tough.”

“Faith is important to me. It’s important to millions of Australians. It helps to shape who I am. It helps to shape my values,” he said.

“But it must never, never dictate my politics. Judge me by what the considered view today is, not by throwaway lines and off-hand comments 35 years ago.”

Mr Abbott, who as student politician at Sydney University opposed gay rights, also said he no longer has the strong views on homosexuality he used to.

In the interview Mr Abbott reaffirmed his opposition to gay marriage.

Ok, so from the ABC report, we know that the choices women have when dealing with unexpected pregnancies are tough, but there is no mention of any new Coalition policies towards the decriminalisation of abortion.  Abbott has also said that although his faith is important, it won’t dictate his politics, asking that we don’t judge him by his dickish comments 35 years ago.  He hasn’t, as I said earlier, repudiated his comments over the past 11 years, many of which suggest that his politics are deeply influenced by this faith.  He also said that his “strong views on homosexuality” have changed, but he still opposes marriage equality.  Which suggests that although he might now think that the queer community are ok, he isn’t all for equal rights.

Additional information from news.com includes:

Mr Abbott reflected on the now-famous speech by Prime Minister Julia Gillard attacking him as a misogynist.

“It wasn’t fair and it wasn’t true,” he said.

He said he had said things in the past which he wouldn’t say today, and believed in things that he did not believe now.

“I have changed and I like to think I have grown,” he said.

His views on homosexuality have also changed and he now warmly accepts his sister Christine Forster as a lesbian, after she left her marriage of 19 years to be with her new partner Virginia.

So which things has Abbott changed his mind on?  The news articles, and I’m guessing also from the content the 60 Minutes interview, he has just said he’s changed his mind and hasn’t actually enunciated what he’s changed his minds on.  No, I’m not going to watch 60 Minutes and listen to Abbott’s voice to determine whether he’s been clear on what he’s changed his mind on precisely, if there was anything substantial it would be reported on in the media such as:

TONY ABBOTT SUPPORTS MARRIAGE EQUALITY

or

ABBOTT SUPPORTS ABORTION DECRIMINALISATION

As none of these things were reported, I think it’s yet another sound bite in the vain attempt to make Abbott seem like a decent individual.

And truly, it is so heart warming that he STILL LOVES HIS OWN SISTER even though she has come out as a lesbian.  When I read that, my heart swelled fit to bursting and the stars shone brighter than ever before.  What type of monster would Abbott be if he actually disowned his sister or stated he couldn’t stand his sister’s decision to live her life true to herself?  That wouldn’t be politically wise, so despite leaving her high and dry in that she cannot marry her new partner or anyone else of the same sex, saying that he “warmly accepts” his sister really is the barest minimum he can do.

And from The Age:

He also stated that earlier comments condemning abortion were poorly stated and admitted that his opposition to homosexuals had changed once he had got to know gays.

Supported by his lesbian sister, her lover, his wife Margie and his daughters, Mr Abbott said that when he claimed three years ago during a television interview that he felt “a bit threatened” by homosexuals, he had been trying to guard a family secret.

He had only just been told by his sister that she was a lesbian.

“Now I couldn’t talk about that then because it was deeply personal and deeply private,” he said.

“But certainly, they were very tough times for our family, hence my comment, because the cohesion of our family was threatened at that time. But I’m pleased to say that we’re all in a better space now than we were then.”

Interviewed at a family barbecue at his Sydney home, Mr Abbott’s sister, Christine Forster, said he had been “completely unfazed” when she told him that she was in a lesbian relationship after 19 years married to a man.

Mr Abbott, who has always insisted marriage was between a man and a woman, even appeared to hold open the vague possibility of a future policy change by his party on same-sex marriage.

So Abbott is attempting to have it both ways, being “completely unfazed” when his sister outed herself to him, and also that “the cohesion of [his] family was threatened at that time” – though granted without context that could be in relation to another issue that had nothing to do with his sister.  The way it is reported however, makes it look like he didn’t react well to his sister coming out as a lesbian, but then he got over himself – well done Abbott – you’re a mostly decent human.

And it shouldn’t take you getting to know some “gays” before your attitude to them changes to acknowledging their equal citizenship and humanity.  Accepting that the broader queer community is make up of regular every day people is a no-brainer, except if you are a fundamentalist Christian who is happier to deny the humanity of your fellow citizens than to question what you have been taught.

Until I see some policy changes from Abbott which genuinely indicates that he’s shifted from his known ultraconservative views to what he is now claiming to be, I don’t accept his claims that he’s grown and changed into a decent individual, and that the Liberal Party is even remotely something I could vote for in the future.

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Let’s talk about Islamaphobia

Geert Wilders, the bigoted and racist Dutch politician, is in Australia peddling Islamaphobia.  It is safe to say that I pretty much disagree with everything he has to say.  In the marketplace of ideas his viewpoints attract people who already hold the same repugnant views as himself, those that haven’t actually thought deeply about what is being said, and those who are afraid of difference.  I hope in this post to reach the last two groups, the first is welded off from hearing anything I say.

Wilders would have you believe that Europe is at risk of being overrun by Muslims and that he alone stands against the Muslim tide, which would have everyone required to submit to Sharia law, cats and dogs living together, or something.  The article in today’s Age is a bit vague about what all these threats are:

Mr Wilders – impeccably dressed and coiffured, a polished media performer who never raised his voice despite some hostile questioning – said Islam was a totalitarian system that was incompatible with freedom. Individual Muslims might integrate into Western countries, but Islam never could.

“I am here to talk about the Islamisation of Europe,” he said. “If you think what happened in Europe will not happen in Australia, you are totally wrong.”

Shorter Wilders, “The Muslims are coming, things will go badly, run for the hills/ban them from coming in the first place!” Continue reading Let’s talk about Islamaphobia

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Bigotry masqurading as rational arguments

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

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

Continue reading Bigotry masqurading as rational arguments

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Linkspam of February 2013

So January 2013 has passed us by and we’re already into the second month of 2013 – where does all the time go?  This post is a collection of some of the very cool things I read in January (well before this post was finished).

Michael Taylor at The Australian Independent Media Network writes, “Do some research and you’ll find it’s OK not to be black enough“:

Aborigines face the unending task of resisting attempts, on the one hand to cut them off from their heritage, and on the other to bury them within it as a thing of the past.  This statement is indicative of the struggles that Indigenous Australians face in the constructions of their own Aboriginality.

This was never more evident than during the Andrew Bolt case where:

. . . in two famous columns in 2009 he took a swipe at “political” or “professional” or “official” Aborigines who could pass for white but chose to identify as black for personal or political gain, to win prizes and places reserved for real, black Aborigines and to borrow “other people’s glories”.

More recently, Tony Abbott reignited a similar argument when he foolishly described Western Australian Liberal MP Ken Wyatt as “not a man of culture”. Ken Wyatt is an Indigenous Australian.

I would have hoped that both incidences found their way into the dustbins of history, but they haven’t. Bolt’s comments, in particular, have entrenched themselves into our vernacular. Never before have I had the displeasure of hearing so many degrading comments aimed at our Aboriginal brothers and sisters as I have since the Bolt case. “He’s too white to be an Aborigine”, “She’s white but calls herself an Aborigine”, or the ultimate insult “He’s only a half-caste” are common speak.

Cristy at In Hanoi writes, “Transgressive breastfeeding and the rules of the public sphere“:

What I think it is interesting is that Sharwood is very clear that this is not about the so-called “male gaze.” He is not offended because he views these breastfeeding breasts as sexual objects. In fact, as he proudly states several times in the opening paragraphs to his ‘article,’ he loves ogling at sexualised breasts. They are great. (Phwoar yeah, bring it on baby.) No, it would appear that the issue is precisely the opposite; these breastfeeding breasts that are apparently being thrust in his face (or, as he charmingly describes, flopped on to the dinner table) are not available to the male gaze. They are private breasts and shouldn’t be out in public.
It was here for me that this whole debate took on a disturbing level of clarity. You see, according to Sharwood (and his ilk), mothering is an ‘intimate’ and ‘private’ activity that should not be taking place in the public sphere. If somehow it does stray into that public sphere then it really ought to be careful not to become “a public spectacle.” This means that if for some reason a mother of young children does have to leave the house (which, by implication, is a transgresssive act in itself), then she should take every measure to ensure that her ‘private, intimate’ work of mothering young children does not take up public space, because it does not belong.

In response to claims that men are unable to restrain themselves from committing rape if they see women in skimpy clothing, members of law enforcement agencies around the country have called for men to blindfold themselves when they are in places where they might encounter a female wearing a tank top or a short skirt.

“For years, we have been told that men don’t understand how to respond to the sight of a woman wearing, say, gym clothes – that as far as they are concerned, if they can see the outline of her body, then that’s an invitation to sex that they are simply unable to refuse,” said one police chief. “If that’s true, then we have no choice. We want women to be safe, and there is apparently no way for some men to reasonably restrain their own behavior once they catch a glimpse of cleavage, so all men will have to cover their eyes while working out, going to bars or clubs, or relaxing at the beach.”

Michal Shmulovich at The Times of Israel writes, “A transgender wedding, for the first time in Israel“:

For the first time, a man and a transgender woman were married under a huppa in Israel this week. The couple, a blonde-bombshell and her husband, whose identity was not revealed, walked down the aisle to the cheers and tears of their friends and family, and with a Channel 2 television crew in tow.

But the man under the huppa, her husband, was different; married with three children prior to their relationship, he came through for her, she said.

N.K. Jemisin writes, “Gamefail bluescreen“:

Anyway, one of the things I’ve always loved about this series was that it was kind of equal-opportunity sexy. I don’t object to a sexual element in art or fiction or entertainment, if you haven’t guessed that from my writing. What I object to is the way that sexual element is usually women’s (often unrealistic) bodies or parts thereof, or women’s suffering, and that these pieces of women are so often present solely as men’s wank-material. I welcome sexy women when they’re presented as whole people in their own right who are uninterested in (or defiant of) the men gazing at them, or when they’re appealing to the female gaze instead of the male. There have been some scantily-clad women along the way in the DMCs, but that kind of worked because a) in a lot of cases those women acknowledged the oversexualization of their appearance in a tongue-in-cheek way, and b) the hero was often almost as scantily clad. And besides the fact that the DMC women had motivations and interesting stories of their own, there was a lot more sexual tension between the hero and his evil twin brother than there was with any of the ladies. (Yeah, I know, but it’s true.) And female gamers noticed.* I have no idea of the demographics of this series’s audience, but anecdotally I know a lot of ladies who love them some DMC. When a game like this is done right, nearly everyone gets to have fun.

But recently I decided to try engaging with the game’s very thin plot, despite its tiresome “chosen one” trope and the utter lack of relevant stakes for my character. I’ve been playing as a Redguard — that’s the black people, though they have straight hair** and pretty much the same morphological features as the other races — a foreigner in a land caught up in a civil war. All the NPCs are obsessed with the war and its two factions, but my character has no background, no family, no reason for even being in Skyrim other than plot convenience, so I haven’t bothered to side with either faction and for the most part don’t care what they do as long as they don’t get in my way. It doesn’t help that one side consists of paternalistic colonizers who’ve happily wiped out the indigenous culture and are trying to suppress the (subsequent) local religion, while the other side are ethnic supremacists. Also it turns out that my character is the embodiment of an ancient Nord legend — Nords being one of several flavors of white people in the game, this one clearly meant to reference ancient Scandinavian peoples — which, since my character’s not a Nord, apparently means she’s got “the heart of a Nord”. Yay, my black person gets to be an honorary white person. I’m all aflutter.

PZ Myers at Pharyngula writes, “The con game“:

And here’s why equality is important: those meetings are essential stepping stones in career advancement. In my very first year as a grad student, I was trained and groomed to present my work at local meetings. Heck, when I was an undergraduate and had made it clear that I planned to pursue a research career, my professors took me to regional meetings. We all knew that this was how preliminary work was disseminated, that this was how you made connections with peers and leaders in the field, that this was how you linked your face and name in the community as a whole with a body of work.

And that’s absolutely why we have to do a better job of opening doors for everyone at these events. It’s the faces in the audience at the convention that will someday be leading the movement. It’s those faces that will go home afterwards and share the stories and get more people interested. And if we don’t make opportunities for participation by everyone, we will be limiting our growth.

Libby Anne at Love Joy Feminism writes, “More Chores for Men = Less Sex?” critiquing the media coverage of an academic study.

Robin Marty at RH Reality Check writes, “They Are Coming for Your Birth Control: Radio Host Claims Your Womb is Full of Tiny Dead Baby Corpses”  (really nothing more needs to be said on that article).

Ben C Jenkins writes an awesome piece at Daily Life, “Why you should pity the homophobes“:

Because Christ almighty it must be frightening to be homophobic. I have my own issues with anxiety, so I can sympathise with the persistent and inexplicable sense of impending doom that must plague these people. But even with this insight, I can’t begin to imagine what it must be like to hold a worldview in which the gays are forever lurking in a corner, waiting for the opportunity to explode our traditional way of life in a cloud of glitter and amyl before snaffling away our kids like the Pied Piper and marching them over some kind of horrible gay cliff. Being dogged by such thoughts must be utterly exhausting.

If I truly believed in a world so fragile and a force so malignant – a force that is, crucially, becoming less stigmatised, gaining more support, approaching some kind of ‘normalisation’ – then I doubt very much that I’d have the fortitude to get out of bed in the morning, save for the driving force to paint my beliefs on a sandwich board, hit the main-street every day and grab people by the shoulders shouting ‘Don’t you see?! Why am I the only one who sees!?’.

Seanan McGuire writes, “Micro-aggression, sexism, and cover art: some thoughts“:

When I go to the bookstore, half-naked women greet me in literally every section except for cozy mysteries. There are elegant half-naked women on action novels, waiting to be ravaged. There are misty, wistful half-naked women on YA novels, ready to embark on romantic adventures, probably while drowning. There are lots of half-naked women on science fiction and fantasy, many of them happy to show me their posteriors. And this doesn’t even touch on the comic book store, where there are so many half-naked women that I barely even notice them anymore. Once I stopped expecting puberty to give me a figure like Dazzler or Illyana Rasputin, I just tuned all the thrusting hips and pointy boobs out, like the white noise that they were.

I don’t actually know very many women who go “Oh, oh, I gotta get me a book with a naked chick on the cover.” I do know a lot of women who are uncomfortable with those naked chicks, and who try to avoid reading books with naked chicks on them in public. I had a few people get angry on my behalf when the cover of Discount Armageddon was released, before they realized that I had petitioned for that image, and that it was an intentional send-up of certain cheesecake conventions. And without speaking for any other authors, I am the only one I know of who actually said to her publisher, “Hey, you know what would be awesome? If my smart, strong, savvy, heavily-armed protagonist was in a miniskirt.” (DAW took this in stride, by the way, which was hysterical when you consider that my one cover request for the Toby books was “Can she be wearing clothes?”)

So it seems likely that the intended audience for the half-naked women is largely male. Okay. As a bisexual woman, I like looking at pretty girls, and I don’t see anything wrong with men liking to look at pretty girls. When I sit on the train, I should see dozens of men reading books with half-naked women on them, right? Because they’re trained to the male gaze, so they should attract it, right?

The single most common critique I received of the cover for Discount Armageddon was from male readers saying they could not read the physical book in public. And while I think anyone should be able to read anything they want to without feeling ashamed, this critique does raise a question about who the half-naked women are actually for, if guys don’t want to be associated with them.

Ashley Gork at Medill Reports Chicago writes, “Bisexual men more anxious, depressed“:

Oboza’s story does not stand alone. Research suggests that bisexual men are much more likely to experience depression and anxiety than their gay and straight counterparts. According to Eric Schrimshaw of Columbia University, this suffering comes from a high level of concealment and a lack of disclosure. The Columbia study showed that almost 38 percent of the bisexual participants said that they never told anyone about their sexual identity and 80 percent said they keep their sexual relationships with men to themselves.

Although this concealment may shield bisexual men from the types of discrimination and rejection often experienced by open gays, it can also leave many men without a language or a community with whom they can discuss their feelings, Schrimshaw suggested.

Shellity at There should be a sign writes, “The Applicant“:

Australia’s anti-discrimination laws exist so that you, I and everyone else can have a fair crack at getting a job for which we’re qualified. They generally state that certain things cannot provide the basis for whether an employer offers you a job or not. Things like gender, beliefs, race, marital status or disability. For example, if you’re a single, gay Lithuanian Muslim with an amputated arm and you apply for a job as an accountant, your potential employer is legally obliged to give you the same consideration for the job as they do for a divorced, straight, Scottish atheist with a third nipple.

Except if the employer is a religious organisation. Then the government thinks it’s special.

A.J. Walkley and Lauren Michelle Kinsey at HuffPost Gay Voices [still] write, “Bi the Bi: Does ‘Bisexual’ Imply That There Are Only Two Genders?“:

The idea that bisexuals are attracted to only two genders is an incredibly common stereotype of all bisexuals. Many people assume that the “bi” aspect of the word “bisexuality” implies a gender binary, and that those who identify as bisexual are only attracted to males and females. Though there are definitely bisexual individuals who are only attracted to cisgender people with male and female gender identities, there are also bisexuals who are attracted to people who are transgender, intersex, genderqueer and more; this assumed definition of “bisexual” leaves out those of us who are attracted to gender-nonconforming people — those who fall outside the “male” and “female” ends of an incredibly wide gender spectrum. Last summer I actually wrote a blog post about this issue in which I explained that, according to the definition of bisexuality put forth in the 1990 “Bisexual Manifesto,” bisexuality does not “assume that there are only two genders.” On the contrary, the binary implied in the word “bisexual” pertains to our ability to be attracted both to individuals who are the “same” as us and to those are “different” from us — meaning we have the capacity to be attracted to people all across the gender and sexuality spectra.

Ben C Jenkins writes at The Vine, “The Anatomy of Outrage“:

It’s also worth pointing out that no one has the right to go through life behaving like an unthinking dipshit without being called on their unthinking dipshititude. More than that, it’s possible to be offended by something and object to it without claiming that your rights have been infringed. The overwhelming majority of people do so.

While we’re here, the phrase ‘taking offence’ is more than a little misleading because it suggests that offence is something you chose to take, like it’s the last Tim Tam or a mistress. Setting aside the kind of people who lay in wait, complaint-scribbling pens at the ready, being offended is something you very rarely have an agency in, it’s something that happens to you.

And that’s why when people complain that these flare-ups are indicate an odious culture of over-sensitivity, it’s more than a little galling and not really their call to make.

It’s worth noting that these protestations of persecution almost always come from people in a position of power – whether cultural or economic, which means that the people who are most likely to tell someone to take an offensive joke in the spirit intended are statistically the sorts of people least likely to find themselves on the receiving-end of such a barb.

‘It’s just a joke’ does absolutely nothing to absolve you of responsibility. It’s a cowardly response to the accusation that you’ve behaved in a cruel or unthinking way. No one likes being called either of those things, and for some reason people have it in their heads that a joke can’t be cruel or unthinking – far better to be called ‘edgy’ or ‘totally un-pc’.

Laurie Penny writes at NewStateman, “Take Back The Net: it’s time to end the culture of online misogyny*Trigger warning for online harassment and hate speech*:

The idea that this sort of hatespeech is at all normal needs to end now. The internet is public space, real space; it’s increasingly where we interact socially, do our work, organise our lives and engage with politics, and violence online is real violence. The hatred of women in public spaces online is reaching epidemic levels and it’s time to end the pretence that it’s either acceptable or inevitable.

The most common reaction, the one those of us who experience this type of abuse get most frequently, is: suck it up. Grow a thick skin. “Don’t feed the trolls” – as if feeding them were the problem. The Telegraph’s Cristina Odone was amongst many commentators to imply that Mary Beard should have done just that rather than speaking out this week. “Come on, Mary,” wrote Odone. “Women in public arenas get a lot of flak – they always have. A woman who sticks her head above the parapet. . . . is asking for brickbats.”

Asking for it. By daring to be a woman to be in public life, Mary Beard was asking to be abused and harassed and frightened, and so is any person who dares to express herself whilst in possession of a pair of tits.

 

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The Vatican and “reality”

Apparently the Vatican still having conniptions about the fact that the rest of the Western world is not listening to them and are continuing to recognise same-sex relationships, granting people who are attracted to those of the same sex rights equivalent to those who are opposite sex attracted.  And they just won’t stand for it – in order to let everyone know how unhappy they are, and how absolutely morally abhorrent they consider same-sex attraction to be, they came out and said (mid December 2012):

Monday’s edition of Osservatore Romano, the official newspaper of the Vatican, features a front-page editorial attacking French Catholic magazine Temoignage Chretien (“Christian Witness”) for supporting marriage equality. The editorialclaims that same-sex couples exist in “a different reality” because they are unable to conceive children, and goes on to claim that marriage equality is part of some socialist “utopia”:

Saying that marriage between a woman and a man is equal to that between two homosexuals is, in fact, a denial of the truth that affects one of the basic structures of human society, the family. We cannot base a society on these foundations without then paying a very high price as happened in the past when there was an attempt to achieve total economic and social equality. Why repeat the same mistake and chase after an unattainable utopia? [(emphasis in original) from ThinkProgress]

It’s taken me a while to write this because every time I’ve thought about it, I’ve just struggled to understand where exactly the Vatican thinks it exists, what century they think it is, and why they think that anyone is going to listen to a bunch of old men in frocks who think that same sex relationships, and the ordination of women are worse or equivalent sins to Catholic Priests raping children and and adults.

Continue reading The Vatican and “reality”

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“It was meant to happen”

I had a dream the other morning, the kind of dream you wake up from and want to return to immediately because I was having so much fun.  In my dream I was seeking shelter from heavy rain, and ended up in a shed (the location details are not all that important).  In the shed were some other people seeking shelter from the storm, one of whom said upon spying me, “Ah, God has brought you to us”.  I then argued with the [made up in my head Christian] people about how they could not a) prove that god existed, b) prove that the rain I was escaping was an Act of God, and c) that all of this coincidence was just that, and even if they believed that it was divine intervention, they could not convince me in any way.  My alarm went off and then I was annoyed that I was being woken up from my fun.

All of this stems from one of my greatest issues with some religious believers, that a deity/deities have a plan for each and every one of us, and we all walk along a planned path with no individual control over what happens in our lives (because that is the logical follow-through of “it was meant to be”).

Continue reading “It was meant to happen”

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All the linkspam of Spring in October 2012

I haven’t been blogging much, there have been other drama llamas hanging about, and they’ve been taking up my energy – I haven’t even really been keeping as up to date with my Cook Book Project as I’d like, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been reading interesting things about the place.  Here is a small collection of things that I’ve been reading recently that you might also find interesting.

My new (mostly) benevolent dictator role model (you all know that I aim to rule the world right?) is Lucius Cornelius Sulla.

Apparently, until it was harvested to extinction, our Ancient Greek and Roman forebears had a plant based contraceptive, laserwort, the full story in “The Birth Control of Yesteryear” (just don’t read the comments).

Libby Anne at Love Joy Feminism critiques a poster “Sex, women, and “giving”“:

The images lists seven reasons why wives need (to give their husbands) more sex. Ironically, every single one of the reasons (better health, more youthful appearance, peace of mind, marital stability, clout and credibility, weight control, and amazing return on investment) are things that are gender neutral, and in fact I agree on every single point (rephrasing the “clout and credibility” reason, of course, to simply say that having a healthy sex life sets a good example for your children). In other words, the image should be titled “Seven Reasons Married Couples Should Have More Sex,” not “Why Wives Need to Give Their Husbands More Sex.” But it’s not. And it’s not for a reason – namely, that many within evangelicalism and fundamentalism see sex as something men need and women give.

Finally, note that “it’s fun” or “it feels good” is nowhere on that list. The list appears to be trying to convince women to have more sex with their husbands, but it does so by emphasizing things like health benefits, weight control, marital stability, etc. Nothing there about enjoyment, although I’m going to assume the author would probably say that women should of course enjoy it.

David at Raptitude writes a piece on “Why we f*ck” and how the thinking on “cave men” has changed from solitary individuals, to tribal groups who slept together as part of keeping the group together:

Females each mating with multiple males means that no male could quite be sure which child was his genetically. There were no paternity tests, and everyone would be so closely related that there wouldn’t be too many giveaways in the child’s features, such as distinct hair color or eye color.

Think about what that means for a moment: it’s likely that for most of human existence, it was not normal for a man to know which kids were his.

For the survival of the group, this was a good thing. First of all, it meant that males wouldn’t kill off the children sired by other males (as some species do). But most importantly, it meant that every adult felt a responsibility to care for every child in the group. The females would breastfeed the children of other women, and no man would have any reason to view one child as “his” and another as “not his.” All children were vulnerable, all were in need of food and protection and love, and the survival of the group depended on the survival of children, no matter who fathered them. Paternal uncertainty, as biologists call it, kept hunter-gatherer groups well-bonded and more liable to survive than they would be if they were fragmented into nuclear families who had clear preferences about who ought to get most of the help.

A preview of an academic paper (sadly the whole paper is not free) by Michael R. Woodford PhD, Michael L. Howell PhD, Perry Silverschanz PhD & Lotus Yu MSW, MPH on ““That’s So Gay!”: Examining the Covariates of Hearing This Expression Among Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual College Students“.

Brendan Maclean’s response to the ACL’s Jim Wallace and his arsehat comment about smokers having better health outcomes than members of the LGBTIQ community, in “And why might suicide hit gay youth hardest?“:

The saddest element of this story is not merely that Wallace and his group will most likely carry on undeterred after their Prime Ministerial rejection; it’s that the “facts” he loosely based this latest routine on will not make the front page.

Wallace is right in noting there is illness in my community, but it has little to do with how you poke your bits in other people. Suicide is a burden GLBTI youth carry heavier than most, and beyond the media baiting, there’s a danger that comments from the ACL act as a trigger for young people taking their own lives.

Political intentions aside, the undertone that homosexuality is unhealthy or that acting on mutual love will lead you to an early grave is not something that sits easily on the restless mind of a teenager.

Young people who do not identify as heterosexual are four times more likely to take their lives than their heterosexual classmates, and beyond anti-bullying campaigns or promises that “it gets better”, for the most part we have stopped asking why.”

From the HuffPost Gay Voices *eyeroll*, an article by AJ Walkley, “Not Enough Support for Bisexual Youth?“:

I was thrilled to be part of the event, which was in its 20th year, and was eager to see what other presentations for bisexual youth were being offered. As I went down the long list of 112 sessions, I had to do a double take, then a triple take. Could it really be that there was only one other seminar specifically for bisexuals? It was true: Only two out of 112 workshops spoke directly to bisexuality. (Similarly, in 2011, just one workshop out of 78, titled “But I Don’t Want to Pick a Team…,” catered to bisexual conference goers.)

In the Huffington Post UK, an article by Tea Leaf Nation on the rise of social media as an activism tool in China, “In Chinese Migrant Workers’ Viral Video, Glimmers of Digital Activism’s Future“:

It’s performance art, parody, social media genius, and a desperate cry for help all in one. If any further proof of social media’s power were necessary, it’s arrived: An underpaid Chinese migrant worker has made a viral video in which she mimics an official in China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) while asking for her own unpaid salary. The video was uploaded to Youku, China’s Youtube, four months ago. But it appears to have gone viral on Sina Weibo, China’s Twitter, after netizen @卫庄 posted it on October 8. Since then, netizens have re-posted the video over 23,000 times.

Warren Ellis continues being brilliant and interesting in “How to see the future“:

A writer called Ventakesh Rao recently used the term “manufactured normalcy” to describe this. The idea is that things are designed to activate a psychological predisposition to believe that we’re in a static and dull continuous present. Atemporality, considered to be the condition of the early 21st century. Of course Venus isn’t a green hell – that would be too interesting, right? Of course things like Google Glass and Google Gloves look like props from ill-received science fiction film and tv from the 90s and 2000’s. Of course getting on a plane to jump halfway across the planet isn’t a wildly different experience from getting on a train from London to Scotland in the 1920s – aside from the radiation and groping.

We hold up iPhones and, if we’re relatively conscious of history, we point out that this is an amazing device that contains a live map of the world and the biggest libraries imaginable and that it’s an absolute paradigm shift in personal communication and empowerment. And then some knob says that it looks like something from Star Trek Next Generation, and then someone else says that it doesn’t even look as cool as Captain Kirk’s communicator in the original and then someone else says no but you can buy a case for it to make it look like one and you’re off to the manufactured normalcy races, where nobody wins because everyone goes to fucking sleep.

And reality does not get improved, does it?

Patrick Stokes at The Conversation provokes thought with, “No, you’re not entitled to your opinion“:

The problem with “I’m entitled to my opinion” is that, all too often, it’s used to shelter beliefs that should have been abandoned. It becomes shorthand for “I can say or think whatever I like” – and by extension, continuing to argue is somehow disrespectful. And this attitude feeds, I suggest, into the false equivalence between experts and non-experts that is an increasingly pernicious feature of our public discourse.

Melinda McPherson at New Matilda writes, “Why Women Claim Public Spaces As Our Own“:

When the second wave of feminism came about, women argued that they had been so dominated and suppressed in society that they wanted spaces where they could think through issues, find their own voices, and decide for themselves — without men driving the agenda.

Patriarchy is a system that encourages a normative view that enables men to have power over women. This doesn’t mean every man will exert that power in a negative way, just as it doesn’t mean that every white person is evil in a racist world. What it does mean is that all those who are privileged in the dominant social circumstances — such as men in a patriarchy — benefit from that system, while often denying its existence.

There is a plethora of research from last century to show that in dual sex spaces, boys dominate talk, ideas, and decision making. In a patriarchy, both men and women learn their roles. To a large extent, the second wave of feminism was about challenging these “taken for granted” roles; including women’s historical role of turning to men or the male space for “permission”.

In the late twentieth century, women leaders wanted the chance to think out loud without the criticism of patriarchal institutions — such as the media — curbing their ability to define women’s roles in new ways. But most importantly, they didn’t want to have to seek men’s permission to act in relation to their own human rights. It was absolutely critical that “helpful” men didn’t step in and drive and decide the agenda.

Over at the Weekly Sift, an interesting article on “The Distress of the Privileged“:

Privileged distress. I’m not bringing this up just to discuss old movies. As the culture evolves, people who benefitted from the old ways invariably see themselves as victims of change. The world used to fit them like a glove, but it no longer does. Increasingly, they find themselves in unfamiliar situations that feel unfair or even unsafe. Their concerns used to take center stage, but now they must compete with the formerly invisible concerns of others.

Damon Young at ABC’s The Drum writes, “An adoring family does not a feminist politician make“:

Humour is too complex to sum up here, but this much is obvious: jokes, like art, are double worlds. They are falsehoods that express, or hope to express, truths about experience: perceptions, emotions, ideas. They refer to the physical and psychological stuff of life, even if they don’t represent it factually.

So Mrs Abbott’s gag is false, but the point of the joke is to suggest something true about the Opposition Leader: he is comfortable around women, and they him. And this has a political implication. Tony Abbott has loved, respected and supported his wife and daughters, and is therefore someone who can govern in the interests of all women. This is why Margie Abbott uses the word ‘feminist’: it is broad enough to rightly include intimate relationships alongside legislation and leadership. The feminist politician, says this argument, is kind to women domestically, and therefore kind to all women politically.

Ben Pobjie at Ben Pobjie’s Wonderful World Of Objects, writes “Ugh“:

Feminism, right? Sometimes, I think, we can get sick of talking about feminism, and hearing about feminism. Sometimes it’s just exhausting, isn’t it? Boring. We wish sexism and misogyny and patriarchy didn’t keep getting raised. We’d like a break.

I feel this, I really do. I bet a lot of the people who spend a lot of time talking about feminism get sick of it sometimes too. Unfortunately, as much as we’d all like a break, it is difficult for feminists to take a break when every day some idiot goes and illustrates perfectly why they have to keep hammering away, because there is just so many more concrete-thick skulls to penetrate.

At Flashboard Wars: The Age vs The Herald-Sun, “16 Quotes From Tony Abbott to Remind You Why He Shouldn’t Be Prime Minister“.

I love this piece at The Vine, “She said, we heard, they heard, he thought – the many versions of Julia Gillard’s speech“:

From what I can tell, there were at least four speeches delivered on the floor of Parliament on Tuesday. The one Julia Gillard gave. The one that we, a population starving for even the slightest bit of inspirational rhetoric, heard. The one that the media, burdened with the twin dehumanising horrors of reporting on the happenings in Parliament and living in Canberra, heard, leading them to label the affair “desperate” and “completely over the top”. And, finally, the one that Tony Abbott heard. The one that led him, with the sort of blind audacity usually reserved for circus tightrope walkers and the clinically psychopathic, to assert last night that the Prime Minister needs to stop playing the gender card to get ahead. So, I thought I’d take you through some of the key points of the speech so we could try and get to the bottom of what this address actually meant to all these people.

What she said: This could well be the single funnest thing I have ever done in my life. Ever.

What we heard: Thanks, I’ll be here all week! Try the veal. It’s seasoned in sadness of Abbott.

Over at a Baffling Ordeal, BenCJenkins apologises to Paul Sheenan in, “An Apology To Paul Sheehan“:

Sometimes you’ve just got to admit you got it wrong. This is one of those times. Last week I began an article with the phrase ‘Paul Sheehan has finally lost his stupid fucking mind’. I did so based on the best possible information available to me at the time. I am now willing to say that I was wrong and I apologise to Mr Sheehan unreservedly.

Because if Paul Sheehan indeed lost his stupid fucking mind last week, then he would not be able to lose his stupid fucking mind this week, which is invariably the case. This is just logical. In my defence, his op-ed last week in which he claimed Alan Jones had been the victim of cyber-bullying had all the hallmarks of lunatic ravings, less at home in print on the pages of Sydney’s leading broadsheet than smeared in shit on the walls of an abandoned amusement park.

 

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Linkspam of Spring 2012

So it’s spring here in Oz, and the days are getting longer and warmer, there are more birds about, and weeds are growing at an amazing pace in my garden.  So to distract myself from thinking about that, here are some amazing pieces of writing I’ve found about the place recently.

Libby Anne at Love Joy Feminism writes, “When It Really Is about Controlling Women“:

If abortion is murder, the argument that women need to “take responsibility” for the “voluntary decision” to have sex by carrying the pregnancy to term is irrelevant. It should not matter. If it’s just about “saving babies,” then abortion is wrong because it’s murder, not because it’s a woman failing to “take responsibility” for having had sex. When someone makes the above argument, then, they make clear that some proportion of the anti-abortion movement is not simply interested in “saving babies,” but rather in depriving women of control of their own reproduction. Some proportion of the anti-abortion movement, then, is actively anti-woman, not simply passively anti-woman. They make opposing abortion about “slut shaming,” about trying to control women who want to have sex but not to have children, not about “saving babies.”

And then they wonder why women get upset. They wonder why they’re called anti-woman. They shouldn’t. It should be obvious.

Libby Anne also wrote, “Dear Pro-Lifers: STOP ERASING WOMEN“:

There, right there, is where women are removed from the picture entirely. Somehow zygotes magically develop into human beings…like, by themselves. Nothing else involved there. No one else effected. But that’s simply untrue. A zygote will NOT develop naturally into a human being if left to itself. Rather, in order to develop into a human being it has to have massive intervention from an outside source. Namely, a woman. Without this intervention, a zygote will not become a human being.

I’m sorry if it seems like I’m splitting hairs here, and I realized perfectly well that the author of that piece probably didn’t even realize he was doing this (which almost makes it worse), but every time a pro-lifer erases women like this, I can’t help but cringe. No, more than that, I want to yell.

Over at Boing Boing, “Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe has a few choice words for a Maryland politician“, with a link to the actual letter written by Chris Kluwe.  This issue was beautifully handled by Chris Kluwe and certainly has added for me a whole new respect for NFL players.

A older piece by Kate Harding, “The Fantasy of Being Thin“:

And then I started thinking about what it was really like before I’d actually made peace with my body. And what it was really like was this: The Fantasy of Being Thin absolutely dominated my life — even after I’d gotten thin once, found myself just as depressive and scattered and frustrated as always, and then gained all the weight back because, you know, diets don’t work. The reality of being thin didn’t even sink in after all that, because The Fantasy of Being Thin was still far more familiar to me, still what I knew best. I’d spent years and years nurturing that fantasy, and only a couple years as an actual thin person. Reality didn’t have a chance.

We’ve talked a lot here about how being fat shouldn’t stop you from doing the things you’ve always believed you couldn’t do until you were thin. Put on a bathing suit and go waterskiing. Apply for that awesome job you’re just barely qualified for. Ask that hot guy out. Join a gym. Wear a gorgeous dress. All of those concrete things you’ve been putting off? Just fucking do them, now, because this IS your life, happening as we speak.

From Feministing, a “Young Man schools homophobes with… The Bible?“.  The video is an hour long, I read the transcript which is linked under the page.  Matthew Vines has taken time to research bible quotes on same-sex relationships (sadly failing to recognise bisexuality but you can’t have everything), and comes to a completely different conclusion than the ones spouted by fringe Christianity.

A same-sex couple in Nevada who have had their same sex relationship recognised by the State and who have a “certificate of domestic partnership” which is supposed to give them the same rights as married couples, had their relationship ignored when one of them was admitted to hospital recently.  In the Las Vegas Review Journal, “Same-sex couple in Henderson upset with hospital’s treatment“.

From Benny at Queereka, “Kinksters, Time for a Change“.  *Trigger warning for discussions of sexual assault, rape, and harassment*

From Yessenia at Queereka, “Self-Defense: Now Available in Pink!“.  *Trigger warning for discussion of rape culture, violence, sexual assault and rape*

Now, as a general rule, I’m suspicious when I see phrases like “women’s self defense.” Because isn’t that just called ‘self-defense?’

What makes women’s self defense different? Well, as we’re all generally aware, the implicit rest of the phrase is “women’s self defense against rapists.”

But like most things modified with ‘women,’ the message eventually becomes “self defense that’s pinker and weaker than the regular variety employed by standard (male) humans.” And you get classes like this: “Girls’ Fight Night Out.” Forty-two year old girl Betty Ryan described her reason for attending: ““This was about fun and self-defense, which is why I chose to go.”

Listen, rule of thumb: if you’re learning self-defense against rapists, it’s not gonna be fun.

Three posts from Lesbilicious, “Street Harassment: the taboo is finally breaking

The neglected phenomenon of street harassment suffered by a majority of women in Brussels as well as in other European cities is the subject of the documentary  ‘Femme de la rue’ (‘Woman of the Street’) by student filmmaker Sofie Peteers.  Released in Belgium at the end of July 2012, this simple university work created an incredible snowball effect. The topic has been picking up in the francophone medias to such extent that Belgium is now examining the possibility of creating a law to penalize street harassment.

And “Is Fifty Shades of Grey so bad it should be burned?” and “Moscow Pride: a brief history“:

Pride in Moscow has been banned every year, and activists have marched regardless. In 2006 and 2007 the demonstrators were subject to homophobic violence from nationalists as well as from the police, and several were arrested. In 2008 the organisers used a flashmob form of protest, and in 2009 the location was changed at the last minute – clashes with anti-gay protestors were avoided, though the organisers were still arrested and illegally detained overnight. In 2010, activists fed police false information and were able to hold a ten-minute march: for the first time, they avoided violence and arrests.

In late 2010, Alekseev took the Russian government to the European Court of Human Rights, regarding the banned Pride marches in 2006, 2007 and 2008, and won: Russia paid him almost 30,000 Euro in damages and legal fees. However, the next year, the parade was attacked again, and over thirty participants were arrested.

 

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Religion – coming soon to Docklands

I don’t have a problem with religious groups fund-raising amongst their parishioners to purchase land and build places to worship.  I even think it’s really nice when several different religious groups get together and share facilities that they’ve jointly organised/leased, or even if one group owns it but is sharing because they believe it’s the right thing to do.

I do have a bit of a problem however when my Government decides to set aside some land for the use of religion, particularly when the residents of the area were far more interested in having a school provided than a place of worship.  In today’s Age:

Planning Minister Matthew Guy has announced a prime government-owned site in Docklands will be provided for a place of worship. This is despite a community plan released by the government and Melbourne City Council in July listing a ”public primary school in or very near Docklands” in the top six priorities. A place of worship did not make the top six.

Now I don’t care that much for Docklands, I find it currently a soulless void (nothing to do with religion, a lot to do with there not being much I’m interested in there currently), but that’s now… In 5 years it could be the place to be, and this “prime government-owned” land could be put to far better use than to “save souls”.  A community centre (secular) and a school are two purposes I could see being incredibly useful.  I think the area is also lacking a doctor and a chemist, so looking after the physical health of the residents, and their education of any children living there would be far more useful.

So why is the Docklands getting government provided religious facilities?

Mr Guy said Docklands deserved a place of worship. ”Places of worship play an important role in the spiritual and emotional life of a community. They can be a critical focal point, particularly for a new suburb such as Docklands, in bringing people together,” Mr Guy said.

You know what else brings people together?  Schools and community centres.  They tend to bring more people together because they exist outside religion – which tends to be a group of semi-exclusionary clubs.  People bond over taking their children to schools, and community centres tend to host communal events and provide spaces for various groups to get together on common interests.  Community centres and schools also tend have some green space, something which is really lacking at Docklands, which is a great thing for a community.  Imagine a school or community centre with a communal garden?  In the land of apartments, I am sure that there would be many who would love that.

Mr Guy goes on to add:

”A new religious centre will provide significant community benefit bringing faith as well as education and training facilities for the Dockland’s community and emerging businesses.”

I’m currently at a loss, other than clearly providing education in the religion of the person providing instruction, what other education and training facilities would benefit the community and emerging businesses that wouldn’t be provided by a school or community centre – which might I add do not require people to be of a particular faith to participate in.

[UPDATE: I have been advised by someone who knows Docklands better than I that there is already a community centre in the Docklands area called The Hub (as I understand it).  This also has creche facilities.  This said, there are plenty of places of worship in Melbourne CBD (not covering all religions but many), but no schools.

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