Tag Archives: stuff

So I’ve got cancer

I found a small lump in my breast, it was tender so I went and saw my doctor.  He sent me off for imaging, and then I saw a specialist who sent me off for a biopsy (that REALLY hurt).  Then I was told I had a very small (8mm) cancerous tumour in my breast.  I’m now an official member of the, “You’ve got cancer” club.  I’m not impressed.

I’ve found the cancer so early that I probably only need surgery, radiotherapy and Tamoxifen to treat.  This all depends on what the surgery and subsequent biopsies show really.  It’s a fun environment of, “Do A, then possibly do B or C depending on results of A”.  Being a big fan of plans, I plan to work out what is going to happen, how I will manage it, and what support I need.

This is a blog post (which may be updated as more info comes through, or new posts added, I’m not sure), which will outline what I want and don’t want over the next 6 months (as a starter).

Things I want

  • To keep working as much as possible
  • Snuggles
  • Chocolate
  • Plans
  • Shoulders to lean/cry on
  • Having meals cooked for me for those days I don’t cope
  • Understanding
  • Conversations with people who have survived cancer

Things I don’t want

  • Advice regarding natural therapies for cancer treatment
  • Being treated as if I’m going to fall apart any second
  • Being told to take time off work

Kvetching circles completely apply here.  This is my condition, my body, my issue.  Do not make it about you, do not make it about how you can feel better that the roll of the dice went badly at my end.  I have enough to deal with, without you making this about you. (This is not currently directed at anyone I’ve told, this is just case it needs saying).

I will continue to work, I will blog, I will study, I will cook, I will yoga, I will … because I enjoy these things, because they’re good for me, and because life goes on.

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Let’s try with some empathy

Now I understand you don’t want to engage with the angry person who is swearing over there.  You can see that they’re upset, but you’re not entirely sure why, and you’re certainly not sure why they’re this angry.  Surely such a little thing shouldn’t provoke such strong emotions in someone – they must be unhinged, or overly sensitive – surely.

After all, dealing with angry, upset, and/or sweary people isn’t pleasant and it certainly isn’t fun.  So of course the logical response is to tell them to calm down, to tell them that you won’t engage with them when they’re like this, that you feel threatened by their response, and that their language is inappropriate and that they need to be more civil.

How about instead of telling someone how they should react to something, you think a bit about why they might be reacting that way, how constant microaggressions might have worn them down, and how this might have been the final straw after they’ve been polite to everyone else whose pushed them down that day/week/month/year.  Think about how they might actually see the thing that you said or wrote, and how that might look from their position.  Actually apologise for upsetting them and then invite them to tell you what you can do to avoid upsetting them again in future – because people generally want to avoid having their feet stepped on, they will often provide you with suggestions resources on how your organisation or yourself can be more inclusive, open, and less upsetting.

But if they don’t, because it is not their job to educate you, go and find those resources yourself.  Read up on the issues, reactions, things to avoid doing, things to do, and ways to be a better person and organisation.  There are many of people out there who blog about these issues, and you can read those and learn why it is that people are upset about this issue, and decide how you can be a better person/organisation.

If you still don’t understand the issues, go and talk to people you know who identify with the person who was upset and ask for their advice.  Go and talk to organisations that represent the person who was upset and find out what you can do in future to avoid upsetting people who identify with that group.  Be empathic, care about those who are in pain, and do what you can to avoid adding to the burdens they carry.  Be a place of safety, sanctity and refuge from the rest of the places that haven’t yet learnt to be empathetic and better.

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It is the belated link spam of November 2013

I know November is almost over, and we’re rapidly approaching the horror month of the year, so have some posts of interest that I’ve found to take your mind of it.

s.e smith writes at This Ain’t Livin’, “Do Some Prisoners Matter More Than Others?“:

So when we talk about prison reform, many people shy away from talking about murderers and rapists and their rights, as well as the fact that they deserve justice. Despite the fact that the racial disparities seen in nonviolent drug convictions, robberies, and similar crimes are also seen with rape and murder, there’s an unwillingness to engage with issues like the possibility of profiling, false conviction, harsher sentences because of an offender’s race, and the myriad complicating factors that interfere with true equality for prisoners in the US, all of whom do in fact deserve human rights, no matter what their crimes.

Libby Anne at Love Joy Feminism writes, “I Am Not an Anti-Theist“:

For another thing, I’ve ceased to see a rejection of the supernatural as some sort of cure-all to the world’s problems. Part of this of course has been the issues of feminism and sexism percolating within movement atheism, on both blogs and at conferences, for the last several years. Sexism and misogyny are not a religious thing. They are a people thing. They are a patriarchy thing, and patriarchy came before religion. And then of course there are anti-vaxxers. It turns out you don’t have to be religious to latch dogmatically to demonstrably false and objectively harmful beliefs. If I imagine a world with no religion, the world I see is not actually a better world than the one we have today.

Yessenia writes at Queereka, “The Limits of Empathy“:

What is more difficult is imagining how to challenge their able-bodied-privileged assumption that I owe them compassion that is not afforded to me. That I must understand that they have no other way of knowing what it’s like. That they can have direct experience of ‘what it’s like,’ but my explicit statement that “this is actually not at all what it’s like” is completely irrelevant and a product not of my dual experience, but of my failure to understand their experience of not understanding me.

It’s not unlike other kinds of privilege. How many of us have had well-meaning theists patiently explain that theists have a deep commitment to the truth of their religion, and therefore just can’t possibly stand to hear us say it’s not true? (Yet the reverse is never considered). How many of us have had well-meaning straight allies tell us that they are fine with our sexuality, but we should keep it private and not hit on them? (Yet again, the reverse is never considered). How many of us as women have had (straight) men explain that women’s outfits are just too revealing or tempting sometimes and it can be so distracting? (Yet the reverse, once more, is not even discussed).

Anita Heiss writes, “Redfern Now: Not the Whole Truth“:

Following a hugely successful series one for both Blackfella Films and the ABC, it was hard to imagine the bar could’ve been raised any higher. However, within minutes of the first episode (aptly titled Where the Heart Is) going to air on October 31st, Australian viewers (604,000 of them!) were in tears having been gutted by the death of a young man, Richard, whose partner Peter (Kirk Page) was left to grieve amidst the battle of homophobia, custody issues and his own rights as next-of-kin.

Kat Muscat writes at Scum Mag, “So Your Dick Isn’t Perpetually Hard.“:

It was a strange thing to be reminded of, really, because no kidding sex with different male partners is going to be different. In the seven years I’ve been doing this whole intercourse thing that has always been the case; the ‘thank you Captain Obvious’ reaction was justified.

Since starting out, but this year in particular, I’ve found my feet as a poly, sex-positive girl so the summer of lurve hasn’t needed to end. It’s tricky to convey credibility in this area without sounding braggadocious, but however unscientific my encounters with bartenders, backpackers, boys from house parties and outta town (along with the occasional ex) are, it’s been enough to burst the bubble that guys are always up (get it) for casual sex. However, the myth persists both publicly, and to an extent privately; after a while of fooling around it always seems to be expected that we were now going to Have The Sex. Like ‘real’, heteronormative, the-apparent-point-of-it-all, penis-in-vagina sexy sex.

While generally a fan of this type of fucking, it is a ludicrously simplistic conceptualisation of Sex with a capital S. It also by necessity requires guys to get, and remain, hard. No pressure! Just, y’know, regardless of where you’re at emotionally, mentally, what work has been like, whether you’re actually feeling safe—all of which are separate from whether you wanna have the Sex—if we can’t do this one activity it’s all on you and is it because I’m not pretty? If we’ve gotten this far, that seems unlikely you’re repulsed by my physicality. And even if it is a matter of not feelin’ the spark, come the fuck on, that is also fine. Chemistry, both in science and in between the sheets, is a complex business.
One of the sexiest things a guy has said to yours truly is, ‘sometimes it takes me a long time to get going. Maybe won’t even happen tonight at all’. This admission wasn’t something that got in the way of much playtime. In fact, it was even better because yay communication. The expectation had been lifted from both of us. We didn’t have to do anything unless it felt good; there was no single activity that got to arbitrarily mark the You Have Now Had Sex point.

Celeste Liddle at Rantings of an Aboriginal Feminist writes, “Why, why, why, “vagina”?“:

Now that that is out of the way, allow me to clarify. Vaginas are wonderful, magnificent parts of a woman’s anatomy. They can give birth; give pleasure. They’re strong and resilient. And somewhere along the way they have managed to become the only part of a woman’s genitalia that’s worth mentioning. In fact, the word has morphed and the wonderfully complex variety of folds, nerves, mounds down there are all collectively and colloquially as “the vagina”. At the end of the day, that’s the only really important bit, right?

Well no. It really isn’t. To suggest it is is about as heteronormative and misogynistic as you can get. It undoes a fair chunk of work those feminists back in the 70s did of not only ensuring women knew their genitalia had different parts that are all important, but also re-including clitorises in medical textbooks after they had been omitted for decades. I’m not being over-the-top here, I promise. It’s just that I can’t think of a single time where I have heard the entirety of a man’s genitalia referred to as “the penis”. Generally speaking, we tend to acknowledge that there are other bits there that have importance and refer to them accordingly.

Laurie Penny at The Guardian writes, “If you’re a feminist you’ll be called a man-hater. You don’t need rebranding“:

he rebranding of feminism as an aspirational lifestyle choice, a desirable accessory, as easy to adjust to as a detox diet and just as unthreatening, is not a new idea. Nor is ELLE magazine even the first glossy to attempt the task in recent years. But unfortunately there’s only so much you can “rebrand” feminism without losing its essential energy, which is difficult, challenging, and full of righteous anger. You can smooth it out and sex it up, but ultimately the reason many people find the word feminism frightening is that it is a fearful thing for anyone invested in male privilege. Feminism asks men to embrace a world where they do not get extra special treats merely because they were born male. Any number of jazzy fonts won’t make that easy to swallow.

Robert Jackson Bennett writes, “On women, and empathy, and con games“:

The problem was that, in this Big, Really Important Part, the protagonist encountered a character unlike any other in the book so far, a foreign, alien, incomprehensible being that I suddenly discovered I had no idea how to write.

Was it some fantastical entity? A Lovecraftian horror? Some tortuous, unfathomable monster?

No. It was a woman.

Greg Sandoval at The Verve writes, “The end of kindness: weev and the cult of the angry young man“:

She had enraged scores of men for supporting a call to moderate reader comments, which is of course common practice now. Sierra went public about the threats, writing on her blog, “It’s better to talk about it than to just disappear.”

But disappear is exactly what she did next. Andrew “weev” Auernheimer, a well-known provocateur, hacker, and anti-Semite, circulated her home address and Social Security number online. He also made false statements about her being a battered wife and a former prostitute. Not only did Sierra find herself a target for identity theft, but all the people who had threatened to brutally rape and kill her now knew where she lived. So, she logged off and didn’t return to the web until two months ago. She gave up the book deals, speaking engagements, and even fled her home. An anonymous internet group had chased her off the web and out of tech, and it finally managed to hijack her offline life.

Gunjan Sharma at dnaIndia writes, “India gets first radio station – Q Radio dedicated to LGBT community“:

The country’s lesbian, gay, transgender and bisexual (LGTB) community can now celebrate freedom of airwaves with a round-the-clock radio station dedicated specifically to them.

‘Q Radio’ which started operating from Bangalore this September claims to be the first radio station in India that is tailored for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender audience.

Amy McQuire writes at Tracker, “No winners in the blame game“:

For one – the central premise that the Left are silent about violence against Aboriginal women is wrong and offensive. Aboriginal women who identify on all sides of the political spectrum are concerned about this problem.

We’re not talking about violence against unknown women. We are talking about violence against our sisters, mothers, cousins and friends.

I don’t believe any Aboriginal woman has ever sought to elevate concerns over culture above the safety of our women.

It’s not a competition about who cares the most and I don’t understand how anyone could make such a blanket accusation.

It would be inhumane to remain silent. But inciting moral panics amongst largely uninformed Australians, accustomed to viewing blackfellas as the “other”, is just as insidious.

Amanda Marcotte at The Raw Story writes, “For The Misogynist Trolls: Your Repulsive Personality Is Not Inevitable“:

As I’ve pointed out over and over again while wielding the banhammer, if the haters took the time they spent hating feminists and creating threatening anti-feminist Facebook pages, and instead put that time towards self-improvement, they might actually find their sexual prospects brightening. Probably not with 21-year-old club girls, but there are a lot of women out there! Simply not being a repulsive choad and take you a long way. But the message isn’t sinking it.

I realize that part of the reason is that I, because of my desire not to ‘splain things that I think you already know, have never articulated what kind of self-improvement project that misogynists could take on instead of trolling feminists online. But their rising levels of hate and frustration have made it clear that they may just not know! So, in interests of making life more pleasant for everyone around, I compiled a list of self-improvement projects to turn you from a bitter asshole who repels women to someone who can get a date and is less interested in blaming feminism for all your problems. Next time you feel the urge to waste time trolling feminists online, try one of these projects instead!

Neil Gaiman at The Guardian writes, “Neil Gaiman: Why our future depends on libraries, reading and daydreaming“:

It’s not one to one: you can’t say that a literate society has no criminality. But there are very real correlations.

And I think some of those correlations, the simplest, come from something very simple. Literate people read fiction.

Fiction has two uses. Firstly, it’s a gateway drug to reading. The drive to know what happens next, to want to turn the page, the need to keep going, even if it’s hard, because someone’s in trouble and you have to know how it’s all going to end … that’s a very real drive. And it forces you to learn new words, to think new thoughts, to keep going. To discover that reading per se is pleasurable. Once you learn that, you’re on the road to reading everything. And reading is key. There were noises made briefly, a few years ago, about the idea that we were living in a post-literate world, in which the ability to make sense out of written words was somehow redundant, but those days are gone: words are more important than they ever were: we navigate the world with words, and as the world slips onto the web, we need to follow, to communicate and to comprehend what we are reading. People who cannot understand each other cannot exchange ideas, cannot communicate, and translation programs only go so far.

The simplest way to make sure that we raise literate children is to teach them to read, and to show them that reading is a pleasurable activity. And that means, at its simplest, finding books that they enjoy, giving them access to those books, and letting them read them.

jessamyn at Geek Feminism writes, “Wednesday Geek Woman: Mildred Dresselhaus“:

But Dresselhaus was into carbon before it was cool, and has been a professor at MIT since the 60s studying the physics of carbon materials. Her work has focused on the thermal and electrical properties of nanomaterials, and the way in which energy dissipation is different in nanostructured carbon. Her early work focused on difficult experimental studies of the electronic band structure of carbon materials and the effects of nanoscale confinement. And she was able to theoretically predict the existence of carbon nanotubes, some of their electronic properties, and the properties of graphene, years before either of these materials were prepared and measured. Her scientific achievements are extremely impressive, and she has gotten a lot of honors accordingly.

And as you can imagine, things have changed a lot for women in science over the course of her career. When she began at MIT, less than 5% of students were female, and these days it’s more like 40%. But of course, it helps female students quite a bit to see female role models, like Dresselhaus.

Tara Culp-Ressler at Think Progress writes, “In An Ugly Custody Battle, Woman’s Abortion Used As ‘Proof’ She’s Unfit To Raise Kids“:

A Manhattan woman is currently embroiled in a high-profile custody battle with her ex-husband, a wealthy bank executive. The case is making headlines because a New York judge decided to consider her decision to terminate a pregnancy as potential evidence that she’s not fit to care for her two young children.

38-year-old Lisa Mehos had an abortion nearly a year after she divorced her husband, 59-year-old Manuel John Mehos. In an interview with Salon, Mehos explained that her ex-husband found out about it because his lawyers subpoenaed her medical records to use as evidence in the custody case. Now, they’re arguing that it’s proof of her dishonesty and emotional instability.

The lawyer representing Mehos’ ex-husband, Eleanor Alter, suggests that the abortion “calls her credibility into question” because she is a Catholic. Alter also says it undermines Mehos’ claim that her tumultuous relationship with her ex-husband is actually what has caused her stress, since having sex out of wedlock and deciding to end a pregnancy are also “traumatic” experiences. “She’s traumatized by the abortion I presume, or worse, if she wasn’t traumatized by it,” Alter noted.

Anna Pulley at Role/Reboot writes, “Why It’s Tough To Be Bisexual“:

Since I came out over a decade ago, I’ve been a virulent defender of bisexuality. I’ve written numerous articles, dispelled stupid myths, and gotten in far too many heated arguments about the misunderstood goth teenager of sexual identities. While I’m done getting in knife fights over whether Willow from “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” was really gay or really bi, I’ve noticed a cultural shift in people’s willingness to use the word “bisexual” as an identity or descriptor of their sexual behaviors (with the exception of surveys and those in the medical establishment).

“Bisexual” is increasingly and fervently treated as the worst kind of cooties. Most people who are attracted to more than one gender prefer to identify as anything but bisexual, whether that’s queer, omnisexual, pansexual, homo- or hetero-flexible, straightish, fluid, polysexual, “on the down low,” “gay for pay,” (e.g. porn) and on and on.

Clementine Ford at Daily Life writes, “Excused for sexually humiliating a woman“:

This communal act of disregard for another human being is not an isolated incident. The news is full of examples of men bonding over the violation of women, from Steubenville to the pack rapes in Cleveland, Texas to Daisy Coleman in Maryville; the pack rape of a 13 year old runaway in Austin, Texas to the gang rape of a 16 year old homeless girl in Brunswick; the rape and subsequent murder of Jyoti Singh Pandey on a New Delhi bus to the almost identical attack on Anene Booysen in Cape Town to the recent brutilisation of a young Kenyan girl that has left her in a wheelchair.

Not all of the incidents linked to directly above are exactly the same, but they all have one thing in common: they exist on a continuum of violence that is supported by a perceived sense of unquestionable masculine entitlement. Because what leads a group of men to participate in the pack degradation of another human being other than the deeply held belief that it is their right to do so?

When Deblaquiere contacted McDonald via text to say, “I just had a f—in sick idea pop into my head, f— her n film it”, he wasn’t demonstrating a unique imagination. Rather, he was following in the footsteps of a long line of similarly privileged men who are empowered by society to behave exactly as they like towards women, and who will continue to be so as long as incidents like these are written off as the simple mistakes of men who got a little too carried away.

Anna Hart at Sabotage Times writes, “Bisexuality Is Not As Much Fun As You Think“:

But I lied mainly because I was still figuring out what the fuck I “was”. Lola was my second serious girlfriend, but I’d also been really into a boyfriend when I was 17.  I was pretty damn sure I wasn’t gay. I also knew, every time I looked at Lola, that I wasn’t straight. I know that lying about your sexuality is a cut-and-dried 21st century sin, and I’m not proud of it, but it seemed heartless to put my parents through this particular wringer until I was 100% sure what exactly it was about my sexuality I had to tell them. Plus I didn’t want to be popping in and out of the closet like a jack-in-the-box. Telling your family that you’re gay remains a very brave, potentially traumatic and admirable decision. Announcing that you are “straight, after all, folks”? That’s just embarrassing.

The main hitch was that I hated the word “bisexual”. Lola and my previous girlfriend, Mia, were both gay, with gay friends, who teased me good-naturedly for being “a bicycle”, as they put it. Without exception, my gay friends thought that bisexuality was nonsense, and that I was either gay or in denial or straight and in denial. Their teasing was good-natured and – I thought at the time – harmless, but I was called a “part-timer” and “half-a-gay”.

Catholics for Choice writes, “New Video Sheds Light on Religious Extremism at the UN“:

Jon O’Brien, president of Catholics for Choice, noted that the Holy See’s obstructionism is ongoing, even under the new pope. “Earlier this year, as the conclave to elect Pope Francis took place, the Vatican collaborated with Iran and Russia in stymieing progress on a simple statement condemning violence against women. Since his election, we have seen more of the same. The Holy See has expressed its opposition to sustainable development and continues to rail against reproductive health services at every opportunity. It’s high time that the Vatican is required to act as other religions do at the UN. Religious voices are important, but should not be granted extra deference simply because they are religious.”

Jaclyn Friedman at The American Prospect writes, “A Good Men’s Rights Movement Is Hard to Find“:

What makes the MRAs particularly insidious is their canny co-optation of social-justice lingo. While Pick Up Artists are perfectly plain that all they care about is using women for sex, MRAs claim to be a movement for positive change, with the stated aim of getting men recognized as an oppressed class—and women, especially but not exclusively feminists, as men’s oppressors. It’s a narrative effective enough to snow the mainstream media: Just this past weekend, The Daily Beast ran a profile of MRAs that painted them as a legitimate movement overshadowed by a few extremists. Trouble is, even the man writer R. Todd Kelly singled out as the great “moderate” hope that other MRAs should emulate—W.F. Price, of the blog “The Spearhead”—is anything but. According to Futrelle, “This is a guy who … blames the epidemic of rape in the armed forces on women, who celebrated one Mothers Day with a vicious transphobic rant, and who once used the tragic death of a woman who’d just graduated from college to argue that ‘after 25, women are just wasting time.’ He published posts on why women’s suffrage is a bad idea. Plus, have you methiscommenters?”

In some ways, the manosphere is old news. As long as there has been feminism, there has been a misogynist backlash. Warren Farrell, considered by many to be the father of the modern men’s rights movement, has been at it since the ’80s. But the Internet has proven a powerful accelerant for these discontents: According to Alexa.com, a web analytics service, A Voice For Men’s traffic has more than doubled in the past year; the site’s U.S. traffic ranks at 10,303 as of this writing (by way of comparison, the Prospect is ranked at 16,142).

Barbara Fredrickson at CNN writes, “10 things you might not know about love“:

2. Love is not exclusive.

We tend to think of love in the same breath as loved ones. When you take these to be only your innermost circle of family and friends, you inadvertently and severely constrain your opportunities for health, growth and well-being.

In reality, you can experience micro-moments of connection with anyone — whether your soul mate or a stranger. So long as you feel safe and can forge the right kind of connection, the conditions for experiencing the emotion of love are in place.

Sara Saleh at New Matilda writes, “Asylum Seekers Risk More Than Words“:

Labelling asylum seekers as “illegal arrivals” because they have come by boat, is like drawing attention to the illegality of trespassing when someone flees their burning house through the neighbour’s garden.

That is why context is so important — context that this language ignores by criminalising asylum seekers who, until processing stalled last year, were found to be genuine refugees 90 per cent of the time.

Immigration Minister Scott Morrison has defended this language by saying that the UN Refugee Convention defines illegal entry as people who come without a valid permit for entry into the country.

But the convention also guards the right to seek asylum — by boat or otherwise — in international law, and requires that no refugee be penalised by states for doing so.

Lin McDevitt-Pugh writes at NetSheila, “Sexuality Research at Work“:

In the Netherlands, most gays and lesbians are out of the closet at work and experience work in a similar way to their heterosexual colleagues. Bisexuals are largely hidden at work and experience more problems as a result. On Coming Out Day last week the Dutch Institute for Social Research* (SCP) published its research on sexual orientation at work.

The research concludes that 40% of the people who are attracted to people of the same sex are closeted at work. Kuyper’s research into sexual orientation at work found that 2.3% of male and 4% of female employees are bisexual. The figures are different to those found in previous studies, probably because the questions were asked differently. So anyone wanting to know how many bisexual people live and work in the Netherlands will have to hold their breath until new, definitive research is done. Meanwhile, brace yourself for significantly disturbing results. 74% of bisexual men are in the closet at work. Bisexual employees are more often looking for a new job, have twice as many conflicts with colleagues, experience negative attitudes and are more often bullied. They have more health problems.

Diane Revoluta writes, “At Every Age and Every Stage“:

Between the ages of 5 and 10, I am conditioned to be empathetic, sensitive and kind, while my male classmates are taught to be hard-working, resilient and confident.

At age 11, when family friends come over for dinner, I watch as the women busy themselves cleaning up the meal while the men sit in the lounge discussing politics.

At age 13, I go to high school and realise that smart girls are not attractive girls, and my popularity would be better served if I sit slumped in the back of a classroom feigning disinterest rather than eagerly answering questions.

At age 14, upon losing the regional debating final, a guy from the other team shakes my hand, smirks and says that “for a girls team, you put up a good fight”.

At age 17, not one career advisor or teacher or adult suggests I should consider politics as a career, despite the fact I am that 17-year-old who is on all of the youth councils and student bodies, I am a debater, and I show an interest in political issues.

Laurie Penny at New Statement writes, “A discourse on brocialism“:

I’d like to say, first off that there are many things apart from the hair and cheekbones that I admire about Brand. He’s a damn fine prose stylist, and that matters to me. He uses language artfully without appearing to patronise, something most of the left has yet to get the hang of. He touches on a species of directionless rage against capitalism and its discontents that knows very well what it’s against without having a clear idea yet of what comes next, and being a comedian he is bound by no loyalty except to populism. And he manages without irony to say all these things, to appear in public as a spokesperson for the voiceless rage of a generation, whilst at the same time promoting a comedy tour called ‘Messiah Complex.’

But what about the women?

I know, I know that asking that female people be treated as fully human and equally deserving of liberation makes me an iron-knickered feminist killjoy and probably a closet liberal, but in that case there are rather a lot of us, and we’re angrier than you can possibly imagine at being told our job in the revolution is to look beautiful and encourage the men to do great works. Brand is hardly the only leftist man to boast a track record of objectification and of playing cheap misogyny for laughs. He gets away with it, according to most sources, because he’s a charming scoundrel, but when he speaks in that disarming, self-depracating way about his history of slutshaming his former conquests on live radio, we are invited to love and forgive him for it because that’s just what a rockstar does. Naysayers who insist on bringing up those uncomfortable incidents are stooges, spoiling the struggle. Acolytes who cannot tell the difference between a revolution that seduces – as any good revolution should – and a revolution that treats one half of its presumed members as chattel attack in hordes online. My friend and colleague Musa Okwonga came under fire last week merely for pointing out that “if you’re advocating a revolution of the way that things are being done, then it’s best not to risk alienating your feminist allies with a piece of flippant objectification in your opening sentence. It’s just not a good look.”

Kathryn Joyce writes at Slate, “Hana’s Story: An adoptee’s tragic fate, and how it could happen again*trigger warning child abuse*:

“We look at our own children, and think, how could that go so horribly wrong?” said adoptive parent Maureen McCauley Evans, who attended the trial almost daily, writing comprehensive blog updates for supporters unable to attend. But she also had an idea how it happened. More than an adoptive parent, McCauley Evans is also the former executive director of the Joint Council on International Children’s Services, one of the top adoption advocacy organizations in the country, and had worked for two adoption agencies in the Maryland area. From this experience, she feels Hana’s case symbolizes some of the worst problems in adoption policy today: that families are only required by the Hague Convention on Adoption, an international treaty ratified by the United States, to have 10 hours of preparatory training before adopting, all of which can be done online; that once adoptions are finalized, families have no legal responsibility to report on their children’s well-being; and that a family was able to simultaneously adopt two older, traumatized, special needs children without having traveled to Ethiopia. That the Williamses took no steps to understand Hana and Immanuel’s background and believed that striking and withholding food were legitimate forms of discipline for adoptees—who may have gone hungry or been abused in the past—just made the situation that much worse.

Christopher Ketcham at Vice writes, “The Child-Rape Assembly Line: In Ritual Bathhouses of the Jewish Orthodoxy, Children Are Systematically Abused*trigger warning rape, child abuse*

Ultra-Orthodox Jews who speak out about these abuses are ruined and condemned to exile by their own community. Dr. Amy Neustein, a nonfundamentalist Orthodox Jewish sociologist and editor of Tempest in the Temple: Jewish Communities and Child Sex Scandals, told me the story of a series of Hasidic mothers in Brooklyn she got to know who complained that their children were being preyed on by their husbands.

In these cases, the accused men “very quickly and effectively engage the rabbis, the Orthodox politicians, and powerful Orthodox rabbis who donate handsomely to political clubs.” The goal, she told me, is “to excise the mother from the child’s life.” Rabbinical courts cast the mothers aside, and the effects are permanent. The mother is “amputated.” One woman befriended by Dr. Neustein, a music student at a college outside New York, lost contact with all six of her children, including an infant she was breastfeeding at the time of their separation.

David Fisher writes at The New Zealand Herald, “Greatest NZ stories: Long, terrifying journey to become a mother“: *trigger warning – suicide*

Life edged towards tipping point. Lex won a study award, travelling to the United States, Canada and Europe to study Shakespeare production and was staying at a backpacker hostel in Zurich when life, structured as it was, caved in. Lex, with long hair and a beard, stood naked in a bathroom walled in mirrors and knew life had to change.

Lex returned and sought counselling. Childhood sexual abuse was worked through and, while driving home one day, Lex realised life had been lived with freedom from suicidal thoughts for three months.

But the epiphany was still to come. At one therapy session, counsellor Wayne Gates set out two chairs. “Lex,” he said, “you sit there and Sally will sit here,” he gestured to an empty chair. Lex inhabited both and played both parts, moving from one chair and character to the other, talking and talking, and crying. “That was me sitting in that chair,” said Lex to Wayne, pointing to the empty chair.

Sydney Magruder at Racialicious writes, “My Dad, the Feminist“:

“Y’know, I think you’d make a great president one day,” he beams. I smile at him, believing his every word.

And just like that, Daddy put roots in my heart. Roots that would one day grow into feminism.

As a child, Dad constantly reminded me that I was not limited by my gender, or by my Blackness. He celebrated them to no end, constantly praising my intellect, my wit, and my good judgment. He made perfectly clear to me the plight of women and of people of color in this country, and stressed the importance of knowing our history — my history.

Dean Arcuri at SameSame writes, “‘Black Rainbow’ challenges homophobia“:

Black Rainbow, a national coalition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander gay, lesbian, bisexual, sistergirl, transgender and intersex peoples has published an open letter the Koori Mail, a fortnightly national newspaper reporting on the issues that matter to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people giving Indigenous Australians a voice missing in the mainstream media.

“We are a group of strong and fabulous Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander lesbian, gay, bisexual, sistergirl (transgender) and queer people who would like to highlight our existence and the positive roles we undertake in our communities,” the letter reads.

“We would also like to congratulate the makers of the first episode of Redfern Now, and to respond to recent homophobic comments in the mainstream and social media.”

 

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The death of a tyrant

What do you do when someone who has caused harm to others and who you don’t like at all dies?  I guess singing “Ding Dong the Witch is Dead” probably would be frowned upon.  I have a strong honesty policy and the idea that we should not speak ill of the dead, no matter how problematic they were as individuals is one that I don’t abide by.

I do find it interesting how long the philosophy of not speaking ill of the dead has been around for (wikipedia):

The Latin phrases De mortuis nihil nisi bonum (“Of the dead, nothing unless good.”) and De mortuis nil nisi bene [dicendum] (“Of the dead, nothing [spoken] unless good.”) indicate that it is socially inappropriate to speak ill of the dead. As a mortuary aphorism, De mortuis. . . . derives from the Latin sentence De mortuis nil nisi bonum dicendum est (“Of the dead nothing but good is to be said”), which also is abbreviated as Nil nisi bonum. In English usage, freer translations are the aphoristic phrases “Speak no ill of the dead”, “Of the dead, speak no evil”, and “Do not speak ill of the dead”.

The first recorded use of the phrase of mortuary respect, dates from the 4th century, published in the Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers (ca. AD 300), Book 1, Chapter 70, by Diogenes Laërtius, wherein the Greek aphorism τὸν τεθνηκóτα μὴ κακολογεῖν (“Don’t badmouth a dead man”) is attributed to Chilon of Sparta (ca. 600 BC), one of the Seven Sages of Greece. In the 15th century, during the Italian Renaissance, the humanist monk Ambrogio Traversari translated Diogenes’s Greek book into Latin, as Laertii Diogenis vitae et sententiae eorum qui in philosophia probati fuerunt (1433), and so popularized De mortuis nihil nisi bonum, the Latin aphorism advising respect for the dead.

So it’s a whole lot of cultural baggage for many of us to shed to speak ill of the dead.  I’m much more in favour of an honest recounting, I don’t want my enemies (if I have any) to sing my praises when I’m dead (though they’re welcome to sing the praises of my death if that works for them).

I’m not going to go out and rejoice that a tyrant is dead in front of those people who are grieving the loss of that individual, because I’m not insensitive.  I know that this person was loved by others and that their loss is mourned, I respect that.  I think that my relief and the celebration of the removal of a particular stress from my life now that this person has died should be something that I don’t feel guilty about.

I (oddly) agree with Freud on this one (Wikipedia):

We assume a special attitude towards the dead, something almost like admiration for one who has accomplished a very difficult feat. We suspend criticism of him, overlooking whatever wrongs he may have done, and issue the command, De mortuis nil nisi bene: we act as if we were justified in singing his praises at the funeral oration, and inscribe only what is to his advantage on the tombstone. This consideration for the dead, which he really no longer needs, is more important to us than the truth, and, to most of us, certainly, it is more important than consideration for the living.[2]

When Thatcher died some people were upset that others were celebrating in the streets.  Sometimes when a tyrant dies, dancing in the streets is the first thing that comes to mind.

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When it’s not about you

*trigger warning for discussion of rape*

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This has been your friendly PSA for the week.

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2011 a year in review

I can’t say I’m sorry to see 2011 go.  It’s been a pretty shit year for most people I know, there have been bad relationship breakups, deaths, illness, and other stressful events.  I’m hard pressed to find three positives for the year to focus on, in amongst all the crap that has gone on.

My trip to Malaysia earlier this year was a big highlight for me.  It was warm, interesting, cheap and fun – and a well needed break at the time.  It would have been more awesome if my two other partners could have joined me, but it was a great place to visit and I’ve love to go again.

My girlfriend finishing and submitting her thesis was a definite highlight – all that work and learning over (for now), and she has a life again!

I suppose the third highlight was finding my feet at work and being given my own project to run (with all the support I need to run said project).  Settling in, making friends and finding security in my job has taken a huge weight off my shoulders.

In relation to my resolutions for 2011, I learnt some Spanish cooking, but nowhere near enough – but then work and stress ate heavily into my free time, I continued going to the gym, but not as much as I would have liked (see previous reason), and I climbed all the stairs (certainly while I was in Malaysia).

So yes, not a stellar year, and one which I will toast the fuck off out of on Saturday night when we welcome in 2012.

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Bad slogan number 4,598,765,197,984,651 (no really)

Pain is temporary.  Quitting is forever

No and no… and no and no and no and no

Neither of those two statements are true.  Pain is not always temporary, and to suggest it is makes those who live with chronic pain either non-existent, or delusional.  Some pain is temporary, and some pain is not.

Quitting is not forever.  Quitting is just a thing.  Sometimes it can be about personal boundaries, abilities, or coping capacity.  Sometimes it can just be because you are done and don’t want to continue.  Sometimes it can be because you’ve changed your mind.  None of these things are necessarily permanent – though of course they could be, but that doesn’t mean that all things you quit are.

So, poster on the wall at my gym, kindly take your offensive slogan away and sod off – because fire… the effects of that can be permanent.

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