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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