Tag: disability

Welcome to the 109th Down Under Feminist Carnival

Hi all, it’s been ages since I blogged because I have been busy with school, life, more life, and then some more life.  I’ve missed you all and I only have one more semester to complete in my course (Graduate Diploma of Museum Studies), which I will write about later (much later, like in November when I’m back from being overseas after I’ve finished my course).

But anyway, there is a Down Under Feminist’s Carnival to share with you all, and I should get right on that.  Thanks to Chally and Scarlett for providing submissions for the carnival.

Feminism

At Tea and Oranges, “Reflections on women in public life“:

But I reckon there must be a way to change how we work so that a steady simmer is the maximum setting. We don’t need anyone to be at a roaring boil, at risk of flooding over and drenching the flames and ruining the whole thing. It’s actually inefficient, really risky, and it means that some of the people at the top get there based on whether they can put in total life commitment long hours – not on other more important criteria.

Emily at Emily Writes wrote, “Dispatches from a car seat wet with an unknown substance“:

I’ve been trying to work out how to say thank you in a way that totally encapsulates the huge and actually quite overwhelming gratitude I feel for you all. When I had to go offline the most beautiful and loving messages started flowing in by email, and then not just by email – by post too.

Judy Horacek provides a collection of comics on the topic of Quests at her blog.

Marian Lorrison writes at the Australian Women’s History Network, “‘Of idle and vagrant habits’: Women and divorce in colonial Australia“:

Most historians realise how difficult it is to trace the intimate lives of ordinary women, especially those of the working class, who were too busy earning a living to write letters or diaries. This is why colonial divorce records offer the historian such a variety of archival treasures, revealing abundant detail about the daily lives and loves of women from different social classes and backgrounds.

Marian Lorrison at Australian Women’s History Network reviews Susan Magarey’s “Passions of the First Wave Feminists” with, “From puritanical wowser to passionate reformer: The re-making of Australia’s first-wave feminists“:

‘Passion’ is not a word usually linked with feminists of the so-called ‘first wave,’ who have received more than a little bad press since they began to agitate for the franchise in the 1880s. The story of suffrage in Australia has been overwhelmingly portrayed as an isolated middle-class phenomenon. This is perhaps inevitable given the scholarly focus on the movement’s leaders, who were for the most part affluent women with time and money enough to pursue political causes. Ian Turner’s inflammatory 1969 claim that Australian women were handed the vote on a plate is also no doubt a reflection of the idea that suffrage in Australia was unexciting and uneventful, with an all-male legislature magnanimously bestowing citizenship upon the women of an enlightened and fledgling nation.

Deb Lee-Talbot at Australian Women’s History Network reviews “Creating A Nation: 1788-1990” with “Fashioning a woman’s place: The creation of an inclusive Australian history“:

One particularly outstanding element is how well this collaboration of authors wrote fluid yet separate chapters. McGrath’s chapters (1, 6 and 12) focus on Aboriginal historical experiences and Quartly’s chapters (2, 3 and 4) present historical narratives about the colonies between 1788 and 1860. Grimshaw’s chapters (5, 7 and 8) create a framework through which to conceptualise Australia from Federation to 1912, whilst Lake’s chapters (9, 10 and 11) finally focus on the more recent twentieth-century history.

Vicky Nagy at the Australian Women’s History Network writes, “The Essex poisoning ring“:

In the midst of tumultuous events in mid nineteenth-century England (revolutions on Continental Europe, famine in Ireland, Chartist revolts, and women demanding the right to vote) the deaths of a few children, two husbands and one brother – all working class, all living in rural villages around Essex, and spaced out over five years – should have barely caused a ripple. However, the events between 1846 and 1851 in the north-west and north-east of Essex caused tension amongst pharmacists, physicians, politicians, newspaper reporters and their editors – not to mention the general populace, who were now riveted to any news about the so-called Essex Poisoning Ring.

Micro-aggressions, race and racism

Stephanie at No Award writes, “Continuum: First Aid for paper cuts“:

Sometimes micro aggressions are subtle and gentle. They’re so tiny and insignificant that I’ve called them paper cuts since before I knew what micro aggressions were.

The thing about micro aggressions, though, is that you have to be on guard for them; and sometimes you’re on guard and they happen anyway, and they cut and cut and cut, and all you think of when you look at that project paperwork is bleeding on it.

proudblacksista writes at Ramblings – conquering kids and cancer, “The trouble with AMS“:

I have trouble maintaining my medication regime at (Local Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Medical Service). I go to the service, my whole family goes and it annoys me that I have to see a health worker, I tell him or her, what I am there for. If I wasn’t sick I wouldn’t be there so why do I need to see the bouncer of the AMS. I then go back to the waiting room and wait for my name to be called to see the doctor. My name gets called and I don’t see the doctor, I have to explain to the nurse why I am there and she takes my blood pressure we talk about that and when she has finished I don’t go into the doctor, I get sent back to the waiting room. After another wait, my name is called again and I finally see a doctor. But It’s not the same doctor I saw last time I was there and I have to tell him what I have already told the health worker and the nurse. I ask for a refill of my medication, should be easy, but it’s not this bloke needs me to give him my entire history, I dutifully submit to him taking my blood pressure, checking me over and asking me again why I need the (list of medications).

Disability

Tessa Prebble writes at The Spinoff, “Ableism is everywhere. Parents of children with disabilities are challenging it, are you?“:

For people in the disability community, the abled community’s shock at these instances of ableism is frustrating. Frustrating because they’ve been trying to tell us this all along. They’ll look at what I’m writing and wonder why it took this story being told by an abled white woman, the parent to a disabled child – and not a disabled person herself – before anyone listened. They’ll shake their heads, because we should have known about this discrimination already. This shouldn’t be news. And they’re right.

Media

Stephanie went to Continuum and writes about SF and horror at writes at No Award, “Continuum: SFFH with Asian characteristics“:

This is not a panel write up; it’s more of a rambling meander of panels I was on and panels I witnessed and thoughts I had along the way. It includes recommendations. But all of it is talking about Asian (mostly Southeast Asian) science fiction, fantasy and horror.

Scarlett Harris writes for SBS, “How watching ‘Search Party’ is like looking into a millennial mirror“:

Major spoilers ahead for the first season of Search Party – particularly the finale.

When we’re introduced to Search Party’s protagonist, Dory (Alia Shawkat), she’s going through the motions in a stagnant relationship with Drew (John Reynolds), who generally whines for Dory to fix him a microwave dinner when he’s hungry and uses her for his solo sexcapades.

Family

Scarlett Harris writes for SBS, “Comment: I can’t get a rental because I own a dog. So now I’m homeless“:

Jennifer Duke, review editor at Domain.com, agrees, telling me that the lack of rentals that are pet-friendly results in “at some point, some pet owners [having to] make the decision between having a roof over their head and keeping their dog or cat. These are adults who are having their life choices and choice of companion dictated to them by a landlord.”

Jess Moss at The Spinoff writes, “Your different brain: How we will tell our child about her diagnosis“:

When we received our girl’s diagnosis last year, we didn’t tell her.

Neither of us queried whether we’d fully explain it to her or not. We both assumed that we wouldn’t for the time being. She’d just turned six and the list of compartmentalised issues on report was long.

LGBTIQ

Chrys Stevenson at Gladly, The Cross-Eyed Bear writes, “The Narcissism of Margaret Court“:

The whole kerfuffle about Margaret Court’s unpopular views on the LGBTIQ community and marriage equality has very little to do with her tennis achievements or the name of a tennis arena. It has everything to do with which side of the argument is telling the truth and which is spreading malicious and deceitful misinformation. In a nutshell, it’s about who is bullying who.

An anonymous post at The Spinoff, “The Masterbatorium: A queer experience of conceiving“:

For years we referred to our bathroom as ‘The Masterbatorium’. We were a house of women who liked showers and baths very much, but the naming came from what happened in our bathroom once a month for six months.

Rebecca Shaw writes at Kill Your Darlings, “Wedded to the System“:

On 18 May, Peter ‘Bon’ Bonsall-Boone died after a long struggle with cancer, leaving behind his partner of over 50 years, Peter de Waal. The two men were activists from the very beginning of their relationship until the very end of Bon’s life, appearing in a video for marriage equality as recently as April. They simply wanted to be equals, and dedicated their lives to that cause.

Miscellaneous

Emily at Emily Writes has organised a “Wine Mum Night” in Wellington (I think).  Anyway, it sounds great and if you can go, you should.

Violence

All posts in this section should be viewed with trigger warnings for harassment, assault, rape, abuse, etc.

Julie at The Hand Mirror writes, “Colin Craig is an abuser“.

 

And that’s it.  Thank you so much for reading.  Please volunteer to host (check out the future carnivals page to see free slots), leave comments on bloggers’ posts, share the carnival on your blogs/social networks, and read away.

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Welcome to the 94th edition of the Down Under Feminist Carnival

Wow, 94 carnivals, that is quite a number.  I’m proud to be part of this, and hope that you enjoy reading this collection of feminist writing from Australia and New Zealand.

The Down Under Feminist Carnival is always looking for more hosts.  If you have a blog, live in (or have lived in) Australia and New Zealand, and are a feminist, then get in touch at the Down Under Feminist Carnival site.  Details of what is involved is also available here.  Just remember, you won’t be doing this on your own, there will be plenty of us to help you find posts and for you to ask questions.

Thank you to Chally for organising the carnival and sending me posts, and Mary and Scarlett for also sending me posts. On with the carnival!

Relationships

Blue Milk wrote two pieces on relationships, one short, one shorter, “Follow kindness” and “On new relationships“.

Sexism

Avril E Jean writes, “Really, New Scientist?” and then follows it up immediately with a post on “Gender assumptions“.

Deborah at A Bee of a Certain Age wrote, “Another entry for the “Patriarchy harms men too” files“.

Scarlett Harris wrote for Harlot, “Does The LFL Have A Place In The Women’s Sports Revolution?

With the increased interest in not only women in sport but in different kinds of women’s sports, would the LFL, in its original incarnation of a SuperBowl halftime attraction in which barely dressed models rolled around chasing a ball on pay-per-view, be dreamed into existence today?

Carla Pascoe wrote for The Conversation, “The ongoing taboo of menstruation in Australia“:

Why do we use quaint euphemisms such as “sanitary products” and “feminine hygiene products” in supermarket aisles? We are still profoundly uncomfortable about the fact that females bleed once a month for half of their lives. It’s messy, it’s unsettling and no one wants to talk about it.

Disability

A C Buchanan writes, “On Empathy and Building Spaceships“:

When I was around 10, I read an article in a newspaper about Asperger’s Syndrome. “That’s me!” I wanted to yell, as I made my way through the bullet points. I got to the last one. Doesn’t like writing stories. I thought of the novel I’d just written. (It was about two German children on the run in WWII Wales. It was probably half plagiarised. Still, it was a novel.) I read the bullet point again. “This isn’t me,” I thought, deflated.

Lauredhel writes at Hoyden About Town, “Today in Ableism: The Perth Writers Festival, Part Two.“:

The rows of information and ticket tents, the coffee and drinks tents, the tables and chairs, the bar, the water refill stations – these make up Writers Central, the busy hub of the Festival. The tents are all placed facing a large area of bumpy grass with sand traps. This row of tents all have their BACKS to a flat, very wide paved area. I will not mince words here. The organisers are clearly complete arseholes, since they know this is a problem and have failed to fix it. It would have cost them nothing to set up this area such that the tents and vans were accessible, and such that there were a couple of tables and chairs on a paved surface. Words cannot express how angry I am about this setup.

Activism

Kath at The Fat Heffalump wrote, “Plus 40 Fabulous – What Makes Me Happy“:

When you’re dealing with social activism of any kind, you have to be able to find the joy in life easily, or you’re going to burn out very quickly.  There has to be someone, and some things, that make you happy, and you have to be able to access them when the activism starts to get you down.  It’s all part of self care, which is VITAL for all of us, let alone those of us engaging in activism.

Scarlett Harris at The Scarlett Woman wrote, “In Defence of Millennials.“:

For the record, I don’t think the state of millennials in society is as dire as Steinem et al. would have us believe. I may work part time, but I also freelance. Last year, I had two additional jobs and the year before that I had two internships. As far as job loyalty goes, I’ve been consistently employed in my primary part-time job for six and a half years (and I’m up for long service leave this year!), while the part-time gig I had before that I worked in for seven. A few of my friends work to travel, and another is working in the Prime Minister’s Cabinet! We’re more educated than our parents and we’re more likely to volunteer and get involved in community projects. Gloria Steinem was a grassrooter from way back, but how many activist campaigns in recent years have been started by millennials? There’s the Occupy movement, SlutWalk, #illridewithyou, Love Makes a Way, #BlackLivesMatter. In the corporate sector, Mark Zuckerberg created the most popular social media platform in the world, Facebook, while Jennifer Lawrence was 2015’s highest-grossing female movie star. (The highest grossing male movie stars are mostly older white men until Channing Tatum makes an appearance on the list at number 13, which perhaps says something about the determination and drive of young women more so than millennial men.) Millennials are hardly left wanting for ways to make an impact on the world.

Race and Racism

Kath at The Fat Heffalump provided the transcript of her interview at Essence Magazine, “Interview with Essence Magazine – Full Transcript” after her tweet regarding Beyoncé went viral:

Fellow white lady writers – if asked to write about Beyoncé’s new song, the answer is “I think you should ask a black woman to write it.”

Stephanie at No Award wrote, “lunar new year and diminishing returns“:

It diminishes me not at all to call this festival the Lunar New Year. I can be specific when I’m talking about our specifics: the Ba Gua my mother replaced on Sunday afternoon; the care with which the Reunion Dinner menu was planned; the offerings to the Kitchen God to keep his mouth sticky-shut and sealed from dobbing on us to the Jade Emperor; the last banquet after the fifteen days that will have come before. But the Chinese tendency towards blanket statements (she says, making a blanket statement) diminishes us all, lends us a careless superiority we shouldn’t want, and a thoughtlessness to others that we shouldn’t have.

Liz at No Award wrote, “Blackface in Australia“:

Every time this issue comes up, there’s always some drongo going, “But we’re not America!  We don’t have the same history of slavery and racism that they do, so blackface isn’t racist here!”

And they’re half right — we don’t have the same history of slavery and racism as the US.  We have a history of slavery and racism all our very own.  And it still doesn’t make blackface acceptable.

Stephanie at No Award wrote, “taking up room in con spaces“:

Quokkas, some years ago at an Australian con, a white, American Guest of Honour explained to me what colonialism in South East Asia looked like. She was the Guest of Honour, so I didn’t know how to tell her to fuck off.

Celeste Liddle wrote at Daily Life, “Why Constitutional Recognition isn’t necessarily the answer to improving Indigenous rights“:

The forum, entitled “Aboriginal Community Open Meeting“, was based around the concept of “self-determination” for Aboriginal communities. It’s the first in a series of consultations between the community and the Victorian Government, organised with an aim to inform the Federal Government on the topic of Constitutional Recognition for Indigenous people.

Constitutional Recognition is a Federal agenda, which so far consists mostly of establishing the ‘Recognise campaign’ in a bid to educate Australians about the importance on the recognition referendum.

Celeste Liddle also wrote for Daily Life, “Indigenous Australians have a right to speak our first language“:

It’s therefore remarkable that while a “White Australian Leader” can receive superlatives for reciting an Indigenous language in parliament, a female Aboriginal politician can be reprimanded for reverting to her native tongue during a debate in the Northern Territory Parliament.

This is precisely what happened last week when member of the Northern Territory Legislative Assembly Bess Price spoke in Warlpiri in session. Price was informed by the speaker Kezia Purick that “should a member use a language other than English without the leave of the assembly it will be ruled disorderly and the member will be required to withdraw the words”.

Courtney at Raising Queens wrote, “I think I spotted a brown face in Frozen“:

I recently watched a video of young children being given the choice of playing with either a white doll or a black doll. Every child, including the black children, picked the white doll. Even after saying they knew which doll looked more like them, the black children still said they’d prefer the white doll because the black doll was “ugly”, “bad” and “mean”. Once again, I wonder how many of these children had actually been told that their skin colour was ugly. They don’t have to be told explicitly because the message is still coming from somewhere.

Kate Galloway wrote at KatGallow, “The pyramid of suffering“:

My concern however is that this strategy is indicative of a fragmentation of asylum seeker debate in Australia. Lowy Institute polls indicate that six out of ten of Australians support mandatory detention. It is difficult for refugee campaigners to get public support for a broader campaign about asylum seekers or mandatory detention, and the support for the named infants, including baby Asha, may indicate a threshold of suffering beyond which the Australian public is unwilling to accept.

Bodies

Friend of Marilyn wrote, “On irresponsible reporting (just another day in the fatpocalypse)“:

“‘Fat people should be fined’ – experts say” reads the headline of a story posted on the NZ Herald website this afternoon. It’s yet another example of irresponsible reporting on fatness by the NZ media.

The story gets a lot wrong, including that the study in question doesn’t say anything about fat people being fined (in fact, the word ‘fine[d]’ is not used in the 12 page article). Other falsehoods include the claim that global obesity levels are increasing, and that “exercise and healthy eating are the key to reversing this trend”. (Go ahead and find the science that demonstrates that diet and exercise result in permanent – more than 5yrs – meaningful – more than 10kilos – weight loss. Go ahead. When you find it, send it to me). The Herald story then continues to talk about the key to weight loss that is found in the study.

Iona Bruce at Daily Life wrote, “Where are all the feminist personal trainers?“:

In my opinion, being healthy is not how you look. It’s how you feel. I try to erase years’ worth of media­-driven brainwashing by teaching my clients to stop measuring progress by what the scales say, and start feeling their progress through what their body can do. And what your body can achieve is completely unique to you. The only person you should ever compare yourself with, is yourself.

Rebecca Shaw wrote at Daily Life, “Why it’s so hurtful when my friends complain about feeling ‘fat’“:

What is much harder for me to ignore is the insidious, negative language around fatness that is spoken by loved ones, acquaintances, colleagues and strangers alike on a daily basis. This is a concept known as ‘fat talk’, which sadly is not a late night show where I invite cool fat women on to talk about their lives, but rather an informal dialogue during which participants express body dissatisfaction, often expressed by the very people who would be disgusted at the man who threw his cigarette at me.

Natalie at definatalie wrote, “True story: I sew my own pads.“:

There are lots of positives about using cloth pads: cheaper, reduced rubbish, sewing/ buying your own customised pads is fun, tailored pads to suit your body shape, cloth feels nicer than plastic, no adhesive/ plastic rashes,  you’ve always got a stash handy, plus more and more. Some people say their cramping and period length are reduced but no studies conclusively prove this, nor have I experienced this. At the end of the day, if you find something that works for you, then that’s all that matters.

Family, children and the like

Emily wrote at Mama Said, “Who will you be?“:

One of my favourite things to do is imagine who my boys will grow up to be. Will they be bogans? Or hippies? Will they stay up late reading by torchlight like I did? Or will they ignore all books like their father? Will they be outdoorsy like him? Or will they curl their lip at the thought of a hike? (I just don’t understand hiking ok I mean it’s just difficult walking right? I don’t even want to walk let alone difficult walk.)

Julie at The Hand Mirror wrote, “The problem is low pay, not family size“:

By stating bluntly “if you can’t feed then don’t breed” a series of unhelpful assumptions are made, including that people’s financial situations don’t change over time, or at least don’t get worse.  In an age of uncertainty around employment, the future of work, rapidly changing technology and industries, this seems a naïve assumption to make. In decades gone by how many people, young women in particular, took typing at school before we saw the rise of the personal computer and the demise of the typing pool?

Miscellaneous

Dr Jess Berentson-Shaw guest posts at Mama Said, “Should you get your child immunised?”  And of course the answer is yes, and no debate will be answered into.

Emily writes at Mama Said, “About time – A festival that is kid-friendly!” about a festival in Auckland in March 2016.

Liz at No Award writes, “On the corner is a banker with a motorcar“:

Look, Yarraville isn’t just gentrified, it’s aggressively so, and to the detriment of the wider — and poorer – – community.  The pop-up park story is a case in point: when Maribyrnong Council removed the temporary park and prepared to shift it to a new location, the people of Yarraville whinged until the council changed its mind and made it permanent.  Cute!  And totally at the expense of less adorable, less wealthy parts of the municipality, that might have enjoyed all the benefits that temporarily closing a street for open space can provide. (The suburbs in the area that aren’t Yarraville are among the most disadvantaged across all of Victoria, so that’s nice.)

Media

Rebecca Shaw interviewed Mallory Ortberg for Junkee and it’s “Cats, ‘Texts From Jane Eyre’ And Men Being Very Quiet Online: A Chat With The Toast’s Mallory Ortberg“:

I mean, this is a great question. “How can we make men quieter in general?” is always a worthwhile thing to ask. They have a really hard time with it. They struggle. They are sweethearts, but it doesn’t come naturally. We just make it super clear that men aren’t the point. There’s not going to be a lot of patience for a straight white guy coming in and saying ‘have you thought about my experience?’ because odds are…we’ve heard it, and odds are your experience is actually a little silly and nobody ever told you your experience is a little bit silly, they always told you it was very very serious and important.

Anna at Hoyden About Town wrote, “Shakespeare in Australia“:

At the grassroots level, however, there is tremendous passion and enthusiasm for Shakespeare in this country. Some universities are holding special lectures or symposia, and both professional and amateur theatre performances are being staged. It is my hope that with an online space for people to find out about these events, and a little help with ideas and templates for things to do, events will start to spring up, or at the very least, people who are interested will find more easily something going on near them.

Shakespeare TwentyScore is fulfilling that role. At present it is mostly event listings plus a few useful links, but it will grow and expand throughout the year. The actual anniversary date is 23 April, but all kinds of things will be taking place all through 2016, so keep checking for updates, and expanding resources pages.

QUILTBAG – trigger warnings for most of these posts

Jennifer Wilson at No Place for Sheep wrote, “Christian Lobby claims it needs hate speech to argue against ssm“.  She also wrote, “March of the Wankpuffins” about the inquiry into the Safe Schools Coalition announced by the Australian Federal Government on Tuesday 23 February.

I also wrote about the inquiry into the Safe Schools Coalition, “Why we need safe schools for LGBTI kids and LGBTI people“.

Erin Marie wrote at Erinaree, “Safe Schools Australia – Letter to Prime Minister Turnbull

Jo at A Life Unexamined wrote, “On Coming Out as Asexual at Work (or not)“:

The other thing about coming out (for anyone who isn’t straight, this time), is that you never stop having to come out. Like Queenie once wrote, it’s coming out (and coming out [and coming out {and coming out}]). Because if you don’t actively talk about not being straight, you’ll keep being read as straight by default.

Violence – trigger warnings for these posts

Julie at The Hand Mirror wrote, “Content Warning Rape Culture

Ana Cabo at Junkee wrote, “An NZ Journo Is Copping Abuse For Interrogating Two Guys Who Creeped On Her At Laneway

Brydie Lee-Kennedy at Junkee wrote, “Why Is Everyone Only Calling On Women To #FreeKesha?

Clem Bastow wrote at Daily Life, “Kesha shouldn’t have to work with the man who allegedly raped her

Amy Gray wrote at ABC, “Paul Sheehan’s unchecked allegations ‘a catastrophe for sexual assault victims’

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Welcome to the 89th Down Under Feminists’ Carnival

Come one, come all to the 89th Down Under Feminists’ Carnival.  I know an apostrophe goes in there somewhere, and that is where it goes today.  There are many wonderful things about the number 89, it’s 24th prime number, following 83 and preceding 97. 89 is a Chen prime and a Pythagorean prime. It is the smallest Sophie Germain prime to start a Cunningham chain of the first kind of six terms, {89, 179, 359, 719, 1439, 2879}. 89 is an Eisenstein prime with no imaginary part and real part of the form 3n - 1. M89 is the 10th Mersenne prime. (all from Wikipedia)  I don’t know what most of that actually means, but I share it for your edumacation.

Anyway, September was yet another fantastic month to be a blogger in Australia and New Zealand, particularly a feminist blogger.  There was the “knifing” of Tony Abbott, a new Minister for Women in Australia, a new Australian Prime Minister (more primes), Chris Brown effectively banned from Australia, lots of commentary on the scourge of domestic violence, spring started and Melbourne eventually started to warm up.  I haven’t been paying attention to the weather in other parts of Australia and New Zealand, so I hope your weather was also more spring like, and less winter/summer like.

If you reside in Australia or New Zealand and you’d like to host a future Down Under Feminist Carnival please let Chally know here.  It’s not very difficult, and I promise I will help by sharing relevant posts with you.  And now on with the carnival.

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Post-Apocalyptic Book Review: Damnation Alley – Roger Zelazny

Book: Damnation Alley by Roger Zelazny

Form consumed: ebook, also in hardcopy about the place (Booktopia, Fishpond, etc)

Plot (from Wikipedia)

The story opens in a post-apocalyptic Southern California, in a hellish world shattered by nuclear war decades before. Several police states have emerged in place of the former United States. Hurricane-force winds above five hundred feet prevent any sort of air travel from one state to the next, and sudden, violent, and unpredictable storms make day-to-day life a mini-hell. Hell Tanner, an imprisoned killer, is offered a full pardon in exchange for taking on a suicide mission—a drive through “Damnation Alley” across a ruined America from Los Angeles to Boston—as one of three vehicles attempting to deliver an urgently needed plague vaccine.

Type of post-apocalyptic story: The current world has ended, the story starts around 30 – 40 years after the event.  Society for the most part has stabilised and is now focussed on survival.

Review:

I really enjoyed this book, for the most part, however there were a few gaping issues.  Let’s do all the good things.  There will be spoilers

World building: I really liked the way Zelazny put the world together for this book.  The main character was not alive when the current world was destroyed and the new world was formed.  He doesn’t know most of what happened, and doesn’t care – so neither does the reader for the most part.  During the story the main character, Tanner, finds out a bit more, and still doesn’t care, as living in the world as it is, is his current struggle.

The fantastical way that the world has been reshaped due to radiation, storms, and people, the way people survive day to day, and how government continues (or doesn’t) to operate is all very interesting and I can see why a lot of people were inspired by the story to create works in homage.

Character building: There is only one real character, the rest are there to drive the plot but are in essence completely unimportant.  Despite Tanner supposedly being a complete and utter arsehole (and he is a bit), he’s really just a guy who wants to be left alone, and safe – though his version of left alone and safe tends to be one where a lot of other people end up dead.  Granted many of those other people have attempted to kill him at some point.  He’s not completely unlikeable as a character and you do find yourself rooting for him.  I’d say he is lazily written because he’s not really one thing or another, and I think he should be given how he is introduced.

Description: I’m a big believer in using words to their fullest effect so I can build a mental picture of what the author is describing.  I found that this book was very successful in that, but not so successful that I wanted to stop reading after describing some mutated horror, or yet more violence.

And now the badly done bits

Women: So there are three main female characters in the book; two are sex objects and one is a mother.  The book would have worked completely fine without them, and I actually would have preferred that to be the case.  I haven’t read much Zelazny so I don’t know if he cannot write women, or whether he is actually sexist, but the three characters were really pointless to the story, and appear to be a lazy attempt at inclusion.

The mother was there in a farming household, and she was intimidated by Tanner – which isn’t surprising, he’s a force of chaotic nature and I’d be scared of him.  She didn’t drive the plot, and did nothing than be a mother to some children Tanner was interacting with, and the husband of a farmer.  She wasn’t badly written, just an illustration along the story.

The two sex objects were awful.  Zelazny clearly cannot write a sex scene.  The first woman, Cornelia, is a member of a gang that attacks Tanner.  Tanner is effectively driving a tank, and he takes out pretty much everyone in the gang, and avoids killing Cornelia by chance (he doesn’t know she’s there initially).  He picks up her, patches her wounds and she joins him.  She clearly doesn’t care that Tanner has killed her entire gang (and probably family), and happily comes along with him.  They hook up, have sex, she gets killed by another gang, Tanner buries her and continues on his way.

The second woman, Evelyn, only exists to drive the plot forward.  She lives in the plague infested Boston and is meeting with her beau who believes that he is infected with the plague but wants to see her one last time.  Then ensues one of the most awkwardly written sex scenes I’ve read for a while:

They moved to the bed and did not speak again until after he had ridden her for several minutes and she heard him sigh and felt the warm moisture come into her. Then she rubbed his shoulders and said, “That was good.”

Evelyn, her beau and most of Boston aren’t likeable.  You don’t care that they’re dying of the plague, and the world would probably be a better place if they did because then a whole lot of annoying people wouldn’t exist.  Badly written characters like this really don’t help the story.  If Tanner wasn’t such a strong character, and his determination to just keep moving forward, you really wouldn’t care about what happens to Boston.  Because Tanner cares (though even that seems to be out of character), you care.

Non-white characters: I don’t recall any being described in the book.  Evelyn is described as having red hair, Cornelia is described as having brown hair, and an obvious red burn to her face (from Tanner’s self defence flame-thrower).  The mother is described as having red cheeks.  Tanner really doesn’t have that much of a description other than having dark eyes, a beard, and being a biker.

Disabled characters: Despite the world pretty much self destructing there are no mentions of disabled characters. Given the current state of the world, there would be some, and you’d expect there to be a mention of them.

Queer characters: None are mentioned.  It wouldn’t have been too hard to include one in the story, Evelyn’s beau could have been a woman, or bisexual, or even trans, any of the other characters that Tanner briefly meets could have been queer.

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Post apocalyptic story-telling

I consume a lot of post-apocalyptic stories, mostly in book format, but also in films and television.  Part of it is because I enjoy sf stories, and post-apocalyptic stories look to the future and what could happen to the world and there are elements of both science fiction and fantasy in doing that.  Part of it is also because I’m a cold war kid.

I grew up in Alice Springs, which is next door to the US and Australian intelligence base Pine Gap.  I grew up when the threat of nuclear warfare was real.  I grew up reading Children of the Dust, and it was more of a case of when the war would start than if.  This mindset is hard to shake, and so I am drawn to the stories people tell about what if the world we knew ended, and what would happen next.

That said, I’m glad most stories don’t focus on the actual transition from today’s world to the newly imagined world, because that isn’t pretty at all.  I watched bits of Under the Dome on TV, and it’s not nice to watch or read about people who need medication to stay alive suffer as their access to medication disappears, or when the water runs out and people start dehydrating or drinking unsafe water, or when food sources disappear and people start starving, or when the social order we appreciate completely breaks down and those that are deemed easy prey are expendable.  I know that this happens today in many parts of the world, and it’s not what I want for anyone.

I won’t watch Under the Dome, or even The Walking Dead, because I don’t need that level of horror in my life, but it still fascinates me. What happens with race, gender and sexuality when the world we know today fractures and becomes something different?  Do the current biases and prejudices remain? (probably yes) Will people change for the better? (probably no).

Annalee Newitz doesn’t think that the rights that women have fought for and won in many countries around the world are necessarily guaranteed.

So what does that tell us about the future? As I said earlier, it can be a fairly depressing prospect. We see that women have gained freedom and lost it, over and over again. There is no smooth road from lack of freedom to total freedom. It is, as Le Tigre sang in relation to something related, “One step forward, five steps back.”

So why this post?  I want to review some of the books I’ve read recently, looking at how women, non-white people, disabled people and sexual minorities are represented, what ended the world today, and whether the future envisaged in those stories is one that I’d want to live in.

Stay tuned as I write over the next while posts about each of those books (when I’m focused and have time obviously).  All thoughts and recommendations of other books welcome.

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I wandered lonely as a linkspam (October 2014)

So, in a very short time I gathered a wide range of interesting posts and I need to close out several tabs in my browser, so here we are and I’m sharing more interesting (well at least to me) things with you.  If you are not interested in linkspam today, go and check out my cookbook blog, and look at all the cooking I’ve been doing recently.

Ian Baker writes at Medium, “Growing Up Poor With Three Parents“:

It’s easy to see why people might come to think of polyamory, at least in the form they see today, as the purview of “rich, pretty people with too much time on their hands.” However, this viewpoint fails to acknowledge the underprivileged nonmonogamists among us — it serves to alienate the disadvantaged, to discourage them from even trying it. This denies polyamory’s considerable economic, social, and structural benefits to those who need them the most.

I am a second-generation poly person, who grew up in the eighties. My parents were quite poor when I was born, and I’ve experienced a great deal of class mobility over the course of my life. I’ve witnessed first-hand how economic privilege is not a requirement for nonmonogamy. In fact, the nontraditional nature of my family directly facilitated my own escape from a life of poverty. This is what it was like for me, growing up poor in America with two moms and a dad.

Juliet Khan at Comics Alliance writes, “Fear As A Way Of Life: Why Women In Comics Don’t ‘Just Report’ Sexual Harassment“:

Fear is also meant to keep us safe from sexual harassment, assault and abuse. We’re told not to stay out too late, not to go out alone, not to drink, not to lead anyone on, not to go home with anyone, not to ever feel safe in any situation that a man might take advantage of. If you fear the (implicitly common) worst from the men around you, you will escape it. When harassment, assault, and abuse take place anyway, fear is often a distinctly purposeful element of the encounter. Sometimes, this is subtle—it might take place in a deliberately secluded spot, or the perpetrator might be in a position of power over your future. Or, in the case of rape-and-death-threat style online harassment, the naked point of it might be to instill fear. After the harassment, assault, or abuse has taken place, it is fear that keeps women from speaking out. Fear of being branded the whiny bitch, of enduring the Anita Sarkeesian experience, or having one’s career torpedoed by a thousand nerds high on a lifetime’s worth of entitlement and vitriol.

Fear is what keeps us silent. Fear is what keeps men from understanding the ubiquity of these experiences. Fear is what keeps us from attaching a name to our allegations. Fear is what makes harassment, assault, and abuse a rite of passage for women in this industry and the world beyond. Fear, in this society, is what makes you a woman. And fear, in extinguishing discussion of its cruelties, keeps us from understanding its nature and better dismantling it.

Michelle Garcia writes at Advocate.com, “Op-ed: My Bi Choice“:

During my first year here, I was just glad to have a job. I pitched dumb articles and prayed I wouldn’t screw anything up (I did. A lot). But paired with being at the bottom of the totem pole on the staff, I also felt like my own sexuality was still not valid. I had a boyfriend and barely had any lady experience. I had lived through all kinds of racism and sexism, but the extent of overt homophobia hurled at me involved some stupid girl in eighth grade calling me a dyke, and me replying, “So?” and then she shrugged, and then music class started. Here I was writing articles about people being murdered solely for being transgender, or people being prevented from marrying or serving openly in the military. There were bigger problems in the world than my bi invisibility. So I failed to speak up. Often. I simply didn’t feel gay enough.

Kate Hakala at Nerve writes, “The Weird and Troubling History of Bisexuality Studies“:

Today marks the 15th annual Celebrate Bisexuality Day — a day dedicated to bringing respect, visibility, and awareness to all people who identify as having fluid identities. Since more than half of the LGBT community is comprised of bisexuals (1.8% of the total American population), it’s important to give recognition to a group that includes people of all gender identities from cis to trans and sexual orientations from queer to pansexual. We’re talking everyone from Anna Paquin, to Cynthia Nixon, Chirlane McCray, Tom Daley, Angelina Jolie, Billie Joe Armstrong, Megan Fox, Clive Davis, Megan Mullally, Andy Dick, David Bowie, and Lady Gaga.

Bisexuality can sometimes feel like a largely invisible orientation because of its historic neglect and ridicule in both the media and sciences. Often times, bisexuality can be portrayed as “greedy,” “a bridging mechanism,” to homosexuality, or worse, “imaginary.” All of which, of course, are inaccurate. In honor of bisexual visibility, Nerve took a look back at landmark scientific investigations which discussed both the validity and invalidity of bisexuality through the decades. This is how we got from Alfred Kinsey to Tom Daley.

Melissa Parke’s speech was published in The Guardian, “No one should be fooled into believing security is as simple as greater surveillance and deeper silence“:

I question the premise of the government’s general approach to this area of policy, which is essentially that freedoms must be constrained in response to terrorism; and that the introduction of greater obscurity and impunity in the exercise of government agency powers that contravene individual freedoms will both produce, and are justified in the name of, greater security.

If we want to continue our lives free from terrorism and orchestrated violence – so the argument goes – we have to accept shifting the balance between freedom and constraint away from the observance of basic rights and towards greater surveillance, more interference, deeper silence.

Let me say that no one should be fooled into believing it is as simple as that.

Catherine Buni and Soraya Chemaly write at The Atlantic, “The Unsafety Net: How Social Media Turned Against Women“:

All of this raised a series of troubling questions: Who’s proliferating this violent content? Who’s controlling its dissemination? Should someone be? In theory, social media companies are neutral platforms where users generate content and report content as equals. But, as in the physical world, some users are more equal than others. In other words, social media is more symptom than disease: A 2013 report from the World Health Organization called violence against women “a global health problem of epidemic proportion,” from domestic abuse, stalking, and street harassment to sex trafficking, rape, and murder. This epidemic is thriving in the petri dish of social media.

At this summer’s VidCon, an annual nationwide convention held in Southern California, women vloggers shared an astonishing number of examples. The violent threats posted beneath YouTube videos, they observed, are pushing women off of this and other platforms in disproportionate numbers. When Anita Sarkeesian launched a Kickstarter to help fund a feminist video series called Tropes vs. Women, she became the focus of a massive and violently misogynistic cybermob. Among the many forms of harassment she endured was a game where thousands of players “won” by virtually bludgeoning her face. In late August, she contacted the police and had to leave her home after she received a series of serious violent online threats.

Danielle Keats Citron, law professor at the University of Maryland and author of the recently released book Hate Crimes in Cyberspace, explained, “Time and time again, these women have no idea often who it is attacking them. A cybermob jumps on board, and one can imagine that the only thing the attackers know about the victim is that she’s female.” Looking at 1,606 cases of “revenge porn,” where explicit photographs are distributed without consent, Citron found that 90 percent of targets were women. Another study she cited found that 70 percent of female gamers chose to play as male characters rather than contend with sexual harassment.

This type of harassment also fills the comment sections of popular websites. In August, employees of the largely female-staffed website Jezebel published an open letter to the site’s parent company, Gawker, detailing the professional, physical, and emotional costs of having to look at the pornographic GIFs maliciously populating the site’s comments sections everyday. “It’s like playing whack-a-mole with a sociopathic Hydra,” they wrote, insisting that Gawker develop tools for blocking and tracking IP addresses. They added, “It’s impacting our ability to do our jobs.”

Camille Beredjick writes at Everyday Feminism, “Why Some Bisexuals Don’t Feel Welcome in the Queer Community“:

As queer issues are beginning to get public attention, and awareness of gay and lesbian relationships is rising, there’s one group that often gets left out in the cold: bisexual people.

Inae Oh at Mother Jones writes, “Ladies, Let Sarah Silverman Convince You to Get a Sex Change to Fix the Gender Wage Gap“:

Sarah Silverman, “writer, comedian, and vagina owner,” is no longer going to wait for the rest of the country to get on board to fix this inequality. In a new satirical video, she proposes the only rational solution left—get a sex change.

“Every year the average woman loses around $11,000 to the wage gap,” Silverman explains, while waiting patiently to choose the perfect penis for her surgical transformation. “Over the course of the working years of her life, that’s almost 500 grand.”

At Go Make Me a Sandwich, “D&D 5E: Why so many wimmenz??“:

UGH WIMMENZ WHY DOES THE NEW D&D HAVE SO MANY OF THEM THEY ARE OBJECTIVELY TERRIBLE AMIRITE AND ALSO BROWN PEOPLE DON’T RUIN MY FANTASY ABOUT MAGIC AND DRAGONS WITH BROWN WOMEN WTF IS WRONG WITH YOU

Jesus, internet. Could you maybe try to be less awful some time?

So here we go. Because it’s a thing worth saying, here are some reasons why D&D 5E is great and is totally a thing that tabletop gaming needed. (Spoilers: it’s the art)

Also, taking a step back, look at the characters being depicted here. These characters all come from obviously distinct cultures. So not only do we have group portraits that include a variety of ethnic backgrounds, but we also have PoC adventurers who come from obviously non-white cultures, rather than being rolled into some White Fantasy Crypto-European culture.

Which is really just the best, because yay social justice! But also because White Fantasy Crypto-Europe has gotten boring as shit. So the fact that WoTC has taken effort to portray a variety of cultures that go beyond different flavors of white people is amazing, because it’s new and exciting.

Howard Hotson at Times Higher Education writes, “Germany’s great tuition fees U-turn“:

Why did Germany introduce tuition fees in the first place? The answer, in short, is that politicians favoured the idea. Self-styled “modernisers” had been advocating tuition fees since German reunification in 1990. Cultural differences between east and west initially hindered this plan, but the main obstacle was a federal law banning tuition fees, which echoed provisions guaranteeing free education in the constitutions of individual states. In 2005, however, the Federal Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe ruled that moderate fees, coupled with affordable loans, would safeguard these constitutional provisions. Within two years, a cascade of laws had swept through most of the federal Länder. The attraction of shifting some of the funding burden to individual beneficiaries was irresistible. So was the compulsion to imitate the changes made elsewhere, lest universities in one’s own state should remain less well funded, and the public purse more stretched, than in neighbouring states.

Seven out of 10 states in west Germany introduced fees in 2006 or 2007; an eighth, Bremen, was prevented from doing so by a lawsuit. Only two – Rheinland-Pfalz and Schleswig-Holstein – resisted the tide completely.

If such unanimity had been maintained, policymakers would now be declaring these changes inevitable. Yet within a single electoral cycle, their long-sought policy was comprehensively overturned. The only state still charging tuition fees in 2014, Lower Saxony, will cease to do so at the end of this academic year.

Waleed Aly wrote at the Sydney Morning Herald, “Burqa ban a political excuse for persecution“:

But ignorance is no barrier precisely because this debate really has nothing to do with the women being recast as some kind of problem. Strip it all back and they’ve done nothing to invite this. They aren’t the ones charged with plotting “demonstration killings”. They aren’t the ones being busted carrying weapons or attacking police officers.

They are, however, the ones most often assaulted or abused on the street or on public transport. They’re the ones whose freedom we try most to restrict.

In short, they become the symbolic target for our rage; the avatar we choose to represent a generalised enemy, and the threat it poses. In this, we obey what seems a diabolically universal principle: that whatever the outrage, whatever the fear, and whatever the cause, it is women that must suffer first and most.

Potty-Mouthed Princesses Drop F-Bombs for Feminism by FCKH8.com

Mera Terrha Pakistan writes, “Bisexuality is a Queer Sin“:

Moreover, if you’re a bi woman in a queer group and you’re with a woman, you are functionally lesbian so that’s okay. You can talk about your bi-ness and everyone will make a big joke about it, but basically, it’s okay, you haven’t strayed. But if somehow you accidentally fall for a man and are in a relationship with him, suddenly it’s not funny anymore. A bi woman in a relationship with a man is straight (and dead) to lesbians.

What I’ve found more interesting recently is that bi men are also disregarded by gay men, but not for being traitors ore foreign agents. It’s more that gay men think men can’t actually be bi. Oh, you can get a gay man to say that, of course, men are bi and bisexuality exists, all that jazz; but in gossip or chat mode, when it comes up that a man says he’s bi, the answer goes something like: “Him? He’s a pakki khusri! He’s just saying he’s bi because, trust me, I’ve seen millions like him, he’s not just gay, he’s a bottom!”

At Even Aud, “Children and Transgender People Part 2:“:

You can explain that the world is a very complex place, and that people often react with fear, anger and even violence to these complexities. In the case of trans people our existence challenges some very,very deeply held beliefs. The idea that there are, and only should be two mutually exclusive genders that your gender is immutable after birth and no changing can happen, is literally one of the foundations of western society.Transgender people shake that belief. It causes a very fundamental fear  in people. “if they are transgender, if their gender changes..what about me? Could that happen to me?” For many cisgender people this is a terrifying prospect. Gender is something that we base a lot of ourselves around. Transgender and especially genderqueer/non binary /gender non conforming people shake that base. When that is shaken some people would rather react with oppression, violence, bullying instead of taking a look inside themselves and examine their gender and answer tough questions.

Mera Terrha Pakistan writes, “Liveability“:

This is a queer problem. It requires a queer solution.

People are being killed. All kinds of people in all kinds of places. Targeted. Planned. Angry mob murders. Serial murders. And there is no real sense that can be made, no coherent thread that can be pulled between everything so that we can say, yes, this is why, let’s just stop this one thing and…

So the problem of fear and the problem of the closet and the problem of being suddenly hurt or killed one day are all the same problem. How do you live your life in this country and feel like you’ll actually live? How do you act yourself?

Giselle Nguyen writes at Rookie, “Closed for Business“:

“Are you sure?” Carl asked as we sat on the edge of his bed.

“Yep,” I said confidently. I’d heard the first time could hurt, but mostly I was excited. He put a condom on as I lay down, buzzing with anticipation. He pushed into me…and I screamed at the pain, which was unlike anything I’d ever felt before. I ran to the bathroom and cried. I didn’t know if this was normal, but it felt excruciating. You never forget your first time—especially if it happens before you know you have vaginismus, a physical condition that makes penetrative sex incredibly painful or, in extreme cases, impossible.

Gina McKeon writes at the ABC, “Life on the inside: how solitary confinement affects mental health“:

Inmates held in solitary confinement experience a range of mental health problems including anxiety, panic, insomnia, paranoia, aggression and depression.

Don Grant, a forensic psychiatrist formerly with the Queensland Community Forensic Mental Health Service, says these psychological effects are the result of: social isolation, which can lead to further withdrawal; boredom and sensory deprivation, which cause brain activity to slow; and a lack of control with no personal autonomy, which may lead to a loss of self-reliance and dysfunction in social situations when an inmate is released.

Eliel Cruz writes at Everyday Feminism, “13 Lies We Have to Stop Telling About Bisexuals“:

Unfortunately, the binary way of thinking that informs the reasoning of many who remain unconvinced by the reality of bisexuality ultimately oppresses everyone through its perpetuation of unflinching heteronormative or homonormative standards.

Being intimate with someone of the same sex doesn’t mean you’re gay, just like being intimate with someone of the opposite sex doesn’t mean you’re straight — it just means you fall somewhere in the beautiful, fluid spectrum of sexuality.

Here we are in the supposedly enlightened year of 2014 – and yet, biphobia persists. In no particular order, here are a few of the most tiresome lies society really needs to stop telling about the bisexual community.

Natalie Tencic at ABC writes, “Papua New Guinea’s gay and transgender community finds safety in Hanuabada village“:

Gay men walking the streets of Port Moresby are often targeted by local men, particularly those who hail from PNG’s highland provinces, and have been raped, beaten and even murdered.

But in Hanuabada, things are different.

Documentary filmmaker and photographer Vlad Sokhin noticed this when he stumbled on the village during his travels.

“[It’s] probably the only place in Port Moresby where they feel safe and many of them, they were born in different places so they moved to Hanuabada village because they are accepted by the local community there,” Vlad said.

Alyssa Bereznak writes at Yahoo! Tech, “Microsoft CEO Says Women Shouldn’t Ask for Raises, Will Instead Magically Receive Them via ‘Karma’ (UPDATE)“:

It’s not really about asking for a raise, but knowing and having faith that the system will give you the right raise,” he told Klawe (who, presumably, was screaming inside). He went on to further imply that there was an incalculable je ne sais quoi about a woman who never asks for what she truly wants.

“That might be one of the initial ‘super powers’ that, quite frankly, women (who) don’t ask for a raise have,” he said. “It’s good karma. It will come back.”

UPDATE 8:24 p.m.: Nadella followed up his remarks on Twitter with a staff-wide email that was also posted on Microsoft’s press website. “I answered that question completely wrong,” he wrote. “Without a doubt I wholeheartedly support programs at Microsoft and in the industry that bring more women into technology and close the pay gap. I believe men and women should get equal pay for equal work.” He added, “If you think you deserve a raise, you should just ask.”

Nadella concluded that he’d “certainly learned a valuable lesson.”

John Scalzi writes, “A Note on New York Comic Con’s Anti-Harassment Policy“:

First, you literally cannot miss it — it’s on several human-sized signs right at the entrances to Javits Center (the other side of these signs say “Cosplay is not consent.” Second, the examples are clear and obvious and the policy is not constrained to only the examples — but enough’s there that you get the idea that NYCC is serious about this stuff. Third, it’s clear from the sign that NYCC also has a commitment to implementation and execution of the policy, with a harassment reporting button baked right into its phone app. This is, pretty much, how an anti-harassment policy should be implemented.

And as a result, did the floor of the Javits Center become a politically correct dystopia upon which the blood of innocent The True (and Therefore Male) Geeks was spilled by legions of Social Justice Warriors, who hooted their feminist victory to the rafters? Well, no. The floor of the Javits Center looked pretty much like the floor of any really large media convention — people wandering about, looking at stuff, wearing and/or admiring costumes and generally having a bunch of geeky fun. Which is to say that as far as I could see the policy didn’t stop anyone from enjoying themselves; it simply gave them assurance that they could enjoy themselves, or get the problem dealt with if someone went out of their way to wreck their fun.

Yassmin Abdel-Magied writes at Junkee, “Junk Explained: Here’s Everything Jacqui Lambie Doesn’t Know About Sharia Law“:

The word “sharia”, taken literally, is Arabic for “path” or road to a watering hole or place of salvation. The five universal principles that underlie Sharia are ‘protection of life’, ‘mind’, ‘religion’, ‘property’ and ‘offspring’; rulings in Sharia law are based around the protection and promotion of these five areas and, logically, decisions that see their degradation are fundamentally unIslamic.

In practical terms, traditional Sharia is quite unlike any “legal system” as we understand the term in the modern West — a bunch of acts and legislation sitting in a library — but more a constantly changing and evolving process to try and ensure society lived intelligently and ethically. It was not written down in a legislative state-based form like today’s law, giving it the freedom to be able to be constantly revised and improved upon. Sharia was kind of like Java; you need it for everything, but it was always being updated.

At the Quinnspiracy, “What To Expect When You’re Expecting (the internet to ruin your life)“:

Don’t give yourself a hard time for feeling a certain way. It’s a messed up position you’ve been put in and there’s no “right” way to feel. You’re not failing if it bothers you, you’re not failing if you’re angry, you are not failing for not being “tough enough”. A lot of emotions come with these situations, and you’re totally allowed.

Grayson Perry at New Stateman writes, “The rise and fall of Default Man“:

They dominate the upper echelons of our society, imposing, unconsciously or otherwise, their values and preferences on the rest of the population. With their colourful textile phalluses hanging round their necks, they make up an overwhelming majority in government, in boardrooms and also in the media.

They are, of course, white, middle-class, heterosexual men, usually middle-aged. And every component of that description has historically played a part in making this tribe a group that punches far, far above its weight. I have struggled to find a name for this identity that will trip off the tongue, or that doesn’t clutter the page with unpronounceable acronyms such as WMCMAHM. “The White Blob” was a strong contender but in the end I opted to call him Default Man. I like the word “default”, for not only does it mean “the result of not making an active choice”, but two of its synonyms are “failure to pay” and “evasion”, which seems incredibly appropriate, considering the group I wish to talk about.

A list of the Nobel Prizes awarded to women

Kalev Leetaru writes at Foreign Policy, “Why Big Data Missed the Early Warning Signs of Ebola“:

Part of the problem is that the majority of media in Guinea is not published in English, while most monitoring systems today emphasize English-language material. The GDELT Project attempts to monitor and translate a cross-section of the world’s news media each day, yet it is not capable of translating 100 percent of global news coverage. It turns out that GDELT actually monitored the initial discussion of Dr. Keita’s press conference on March 13 and detected a surge in domestic coverage beginning on March 14, the day HealthMap flagged the first media mention (which was, it should be noted, in French). The problem is that all of this media coverage was in French — and was not among the French material that GDELT was able to translate those days.

To give an idea of the importance of monitoring across languages, through a grant from Google Translate for Research, GDELT has been feeding a portion of the Portuguese edition of Google News each day through Google Translate for the past year. It turns out that upwards of 70 percent of the events recorded in Portuguese-language news do not appear in English-language news anywhere else in the world. Further, a large portion of these events relate to situations outside of Portugal and Brazil, including former colonial states in Africa, as the map below shows. Increasing our ability to process all of this material would yield tremendous gains in monitoring local media of the sort that provided the first indicators of the Ebola outbreak.

Shawn Burns writes, “How editors and journalists can produce better and fairer reporting on people with disability“:

Dr Taleporos, and other advocacy journalists working in the disability media space, are driven by a desire to redress what they view as problematic news agendas and public discourse. In their view, despite the considerable consumer power of PWD and long-established media guidelines on disability, mainstream news media remains inclined to follow the well-trodden path of stereotypical representation of people with disability and disability issues.

A Taxonomy of Mansplainers

Debunking the Men’s Rights Movement

Laurie Penny writes at New Statesman, “Social Justice Warriors and the New Culture War“:

If I sound angry here, it’s because I am. I’m angy because I’ve had to listen to these things being said to and about me and many other women creators I admire for too many years now to be polite about it. My anger, however, is different from the incoherent rage sloshing around 4chan, Reddit, MRA forums and other nests of recreational misogyny right now, because the people perpetrating these attacks on women, the people who are so unspeakably angry that women dare, they dare with their stupid ladyheads and evil ladyparts, they dare to come into their special boy spaces and actually demand a voice, they don’t understand why not everyone can see how right they are, how noble, how absolutely justified they are in their cause. They believe that they are justified because freedom of speech—except not freedom of speech for women and queers and people of colour, because those people don’t really speak, they just whine, shriek, scream, like animals, because really that’s all they are, animals.

They think it’s a game.

I’m talking about the whole thing—not just hounding individual women, hacking individual celebrities’ nude pics, trying to trash the reputations of women in the public eye according to outdated double-standards with less and less relevance to our real lives. I’m talking about gender itself, sex and sexuality itself, as a game you can play and win by ‘beating’ the other ‘side’ into submission. A game where the other ‘side’ isn’t really human at all. Shoot to kill. Destroy the brain. Move on.

Devon Maloney writes at The Cut, “The Most Feminist Moments in Sci-fi History“:

But sci-fi history actually has featured ahead-of-its-time, female-identifying authors and creators who have challenged conventional notions of race, gender, and sexuality head-on for centuries. Their contributions are so essential (some are by far the most out-there in the canon) that without them, the genre could not possibly have grown into the blockbuster behemoth it is today. Like many sci-fi creators, this radical group’s explorations weren’t limited to faroff planets; they dove into the sticky, difficult, often ugly realities of their own worlds, many of which are still with us today. They tackled misogyny, homophobia, racism, and the dangers of conventional gender roles — concepts often foreign to the world they inhabited. While their efforts were not always celebrated in the mainstream, they opened the possibility of a better future and pushed the conversation forward.

An extremely nerdy caveat: Many female voices have been excluded from the sci-fi canon based on the argument that the works they create aren’t “really” science fiction, but fantasy (in Party Down, Martin Starr’s Roman is fixated on this — the distinction between “hard” sci-fi and fantasy). While most of this “categorization” is simply a sexist dodge, we do believe in categories. For our purposes, let’s define science fiction here as the depiction of fictional worlds in which science (including space travel), technology, and/or pseudoscience feature prominently and necessarily in the story’s telling. Therefore, A Handmaid’s Tale, though probably one of this writer’s favorite books of all time, is not science fiction (Atwood herself has described it as speculative/dystopian fiction, a genre having more to do with social critique than adventure), while superhero comics — when they feature superpowers — could be considered such.

Understanding Issues Facing Bisexual Americans (pdf)

Elleanor Chin writes at bitch media, “Instead of Banning Yoga Pants, Schools Should Crack Down on Harassment“:

What exactly are adults assuming about “distraction”? Are they talking about boys being sexually aroused? Boys having romantic feelings? Looking at girls? Boys aren’t just passive sacks of hormones, magnetically thrown off course by female parts or pheromones. Young men and boys are responsible for their own arousal, attraction and attention span. Controlling girls’ dress assumes that boys are more frequently or severely distracted just by being around girls than any other source of distraction and that the only way to fix it is to control the girls.

How do you tell if a boy is “distracted by” a girls attire? Is it because he’s catcalling her?  Talking about her? Here is where it gets tricky, because schools have a general mission and right to maintain discipline and control student attire to the extent it disrupts the educational environment. But no coverage of this issue I’ve read has discussed how the boys’ distraction actually manifests, and how disruptive it is. But in her letter to the Billings Gazette, Ashley Crtalic makes the connection to sexual harassment, which is certainly a tangible disruption. Crtalic points out that when she was harassed, she was wearing jeans and a t-shirt, not the outfits that got her punished for dress code violations.

Gwendolyn Henry writes at Collected Works, “Reasons why Bi People of Colour often do not participate in spaces created for them“:

Thanks for raising this question regarding Bisexual People of Color and hearing our voices on various forms of media. My take is:

1) Writing our story is not a priority, survival is. [Many]BiPOC are already struggling with physical and mental health conditions so just breathing and staying alive is top on the list.

2) Many BiPOC are closeted in the Lesbian and Gay community. Writing or posting videos using the words [word]”Bisexual” would require them to go through a lot of emotional obstacles and many of [us]them don’t want to and/or don’t have the support to do so.

2a) I found BiPOC writing under the terms “Queer” but that still doesn’t clearly state how many genders they find romantic/sexually attractive. [Queer can apply to people who have multi gender attractions/non-monosexuals (bi, pan, fluid) and monosexuals (lesbian/gay). This umbrella term can often make bisexuals and their unique experiences and needs less visible.]

Erick Brethenoux writing at A Smarter Planet Blog, “The Importance of Tracking Big Data Emotions“:

There are concerns, however. A fine line exists between being perceived as understanding or invasive. But analyzing emotions and getting close to people should not just be about selling more products. It should be about evoking and understanding emotions that help break solitude. This will create opportunities to share empathy and compassion.

It could even enable people to heal faster.

When my daughter was three-years old, she had to have tubes placed in her ears to help with chronic ear infections. What was interesting though was not how she healed, but how she helped others get better. Her surgeon explained that they scheduled operations on Tuesdays and Thursdays, the same days as the most difficult adult procedures. The adults would then recover in a large and common recovery room alongside the children. Why? Because empirical data proves that adults recover faster when exposed to small children who are also recovering.

Related Posts:

All the linkspam forever more (September 2014)

I’ve been busy, and consequently I haven’t been keeping up to date with all my linkspam – though I have been collecting it in copious quantities.  I’m going to group it by type because that appears to make sense to me right now.  Enjoy

Feminism

The Bloggess wrote, “Women Who are Ambivalent about Women Against Women Against Feminism“:

But then I remembered that I’m too lazy to make a tumblr and that this whole thing was a bit ridiculous. Here’s the thing:  Do you think men and women should have equal rights politically, socially and economically?  Then you’re probably a feminist.  There are a million tiny aspects of this to break off into and I get it.  It’s complicated.  There’s not just one type of feminist, just as there’s not just one type of Christian or Muslim, or man or woman.  Hell, there’s not even just one type of shark.  Some are non-threatening and friendly.  Some get sucked up into tornadoes and viciously chew off people’s faces until that guy from 90210 stops the weather with bombs.  (Spoiler alert.)    The point is that sharks, much like feminists, are awesome, and beneficial, and the world would be a worse place without them.  Plus, they’re incredibly entertaining and even if you sometimes think they’re dicks for eating cute seals you still yell “HOLYSHITLOOKATTHAT!” when Shark Week comes on.  I think this is a bad analogy.  Lemme try again.

Lea Grover at Scary Mommy writes, “Darling, We Don’t Play With Our Vulvas At The Table“:

I don’t want them to grow up ashamed of their bodies or confused about what they do. I don’t tell them about cabbage patches or storks, I make an effort, always, to be honest about human reproduction. Every aspect of it.

I’ve had conversations with other moms about having “the talk.” I don’t think my kids and I will have that particular talk, because they already know. And we talk about it often- kids are obsessive creatures. We read Where Did I Come From? and What Makes A Baby which together cover every aspect of the subject. We can talk about IVF and c-sections, because both of those are part of the story of their births, and we can talk about the fact that yes, mommy and daddy still have sex regardless of our plans for conception. And when they’re older, we’ll start talking about contraception.

Because lying to your kids about sex helps nobody. Telling them that sex is “only between mommies and daddies” is a lie that leads to confused, hormone charged teenagers. Telling them that sex is “only something that happens when two people love each other very much” is a lie that causes hormone charged teenagers to confuse “love” with “lust,” or “obsession.” It leads to leaps of logic like, “If I have sex with them, we must be in love.” Or worse- “If I love them, I have to have sex with them.” And how many teenage tragedies are based on that misconception?

Kathleen at Films for Action writes, “10 Female Revolutionaries That You Probably Didn’t Learn About In History class“:

We all know male revolutionaries like Che Guevara, but history often tends to gloss over the contributions of female revolutionaries that have sacrificed their time, efforts, and lives to work towards burgeoning systems and ideologies. Despite misconceptions, there are tons of women that have participated in revolutions throughout history, with many of them playing crucial roles. They may come from different points on the political spectrum, with some armed with weapons and some armed with nothing but a pen, but all fought hard for something that they believed in.

Let’s take a look at 10 of these female revolutionaries from all over the world that you probably won’t ever see plastered across a college student’s T-shirt.

 

Sexism

Lara Hogan writes, “On unsolicited criticism“:

But by the end of the day after my keynote, I was crushed. I had received a ton of praise and positive feedback, too, but I couldn’t hear it. My brain could only retain were these random, surprising, caught-off-guard moments that required me to nod and smile and try to make sense of what these people were saying. After dinner, I nearly broke down; I went to my manager, Seth, and told him what was going on. [1]

Seth turned to a nearby presenter (and fellow coworker) and asked, “Hey Jonathan, did you receive any constructive criticism or feedback after your talk?”

Jonathan said, “What? No. I mean, people said it was good. But not really feedback.” We continued our poll. The male presenters we asked received no unsolicited feedback (other than “that was great!”). Some women I spoke with, however, had received feedback on their tone as well.

I asked Seth, “Wait, are you saying this is gendered?”

Ariel Schwartz writes at Co.EXIST, “How Street Maps Can Be Sexist“:

Straightforward as they may seem, street maps aren’t objective. Shifting borders mean that maps are often political statements. They also can be sexist.

Eddie Pickle, the former CEO of geospatial company Boundless, first started paying close attention to sexism in the mapping community in 2010, while the company was recruiting new hires. Gender disparities in the tech field weren’t just a culture problem, he realized–there was also a problem with the data.

OpenStreetMap is a massive free map of the world, editable by anyone. Companies like Flickr, Foursquare, and Craigslist all use it in their products. But unlike Google Maps, which rigorously chronicles every address, gas station, and shop on the ground, OpenStreetMap’s perspective on the world is skewed by its contributors.

At The Business Spectator, “Gender pay gap worst in 20 years“:

On average, men in full-time work are being paid nearly $15,000 more a year than women, data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows.

For part-time workers, the gender pay gap would be wider because a higher proportion of women in casual jobs.

CommSec economist Savanth Sebastian says the pay gap is linked to large salaries paid in the mining and construction industries, which are traditionally dominated by men.

Junot Diaz is quoted at Hello, Tailor:

If you’re a boy writer, it’s a simple rule: you’ve gotta get used to the fact that you suck at writing women and that the worst women writer can write a better man than the best male writer can write a good woman. And it’s just the minimum. Because the thing about the sort of heteronormative masculine privilege, whether it’s in Santo Domingo, or the United States, is you grow up your entire life being told that women aren’t human beings, and that women have no independent subjectivity. And because you grow up with this, it’s this huge surprise when you go to college and realize that, “Oh, women aren’t people who does my shit and fucks me.”

Alex Brown at TOR.COM wrote, “Guardians of the Galaxy, We Need to Talk“:

It’s hard to be a comics fan if you’re not a straight white man, given that most of the representative iterations of diversity end up as one dimensional tokens, expendable sidekicks, or fridge-able sex objects. DC’s done a pretty terrible job in their comics and movies at creating female, PoC, and/or LGBTQIA characters that aren’t cardboard plot devices used to inspire the male protagonist into heroic action. To be fair, DC gets good marks on television with Arrow (and presumably The Flash), but since the shows won’t crossover into the movies, it’s more or less cancelled out in the grand scheme of things.

Not that Marvel is much better. Comics-wise, Marvel is slowly but surely getting more diverse, but the MCU is a more depressing story. While the MCU has been good at not actively excluding us non straight/white/male fans, they haven’t been very good at including us in the content we’re fanning over. Black Widow, Pepper Potts, Agent Hill, Peggy and Sharon Carter, Rhodey, and Falcon are awesome, but they don’t really get to do anything outside of the white male superhero protagonists. We saw Steve Rogers hang out at a coffee shop while off the clock, but what does Natasha do when she’s not SHIELD-ing? Why only three straight black dudes in the movies (with no romantic interests so as to keep them “non-threatening”)? Why not an Asian, Native American, Middle Eastern, or Hispanic character with a major role? Or a trans person? I like John C. Reilly and Peter Serafinowicz a ton, but why not hire people of color for those roles instead? Why couldn’t Corpsman Dey go home to his husband instead of his wife? Where in the MCU are the rest of us?

Kieran Snyder wrote at Fortune, “The abrasiveness trap: High-achieving men and women are described differently in reviews“:

Not long ago I was talking to an engineering manager who was preparing performance reviews for his team. He had two people he wanted to promote that year, but he was worried that his peers were only going to endorse one of them. “Jessica is really talented,” he said. “But I wish she’d be less abrasive. She comes on too strong.” Her male counterpart? “Steve is an easy case,” he went on. “Smart and great to work with. He needs to learn to be a little more patient, but who doesn’t?”

I don’t know whether Jessica got her promotion, but the exchange got me wondering how often this perception of female abrasiveness undermines women’s careers in technology.

Gamer Gate and sexism in gaming

Jonathan McIntosh wrote at Polygon, “Playing with privilege: the invisible benefits of gaming while male“:

One particularly astounding theme I’ve noticed running through online discussions surrounding these incidents has been a consistent denial that there is any real problem with the way women are treated in gaming. Despite the abundance of evidence, I’ve seen many of my fellow male gamers, in comment thread after comment thread, dismiss the issue as “no big deal” and insist that everyone is essentially treated the same.

The fact that a great number of women have been speaking out about how they experience prejudice, alienation or worse on a fairly regular basis seems to hold little weight.

David Auerbach at Slate wrote, “Letter to a Young Male Gamer“:

I realize that you don’t have a problem with women per se. Think of Kim Swift, the awesome game designer who was project lead for the legendary Portal, or think of Halo engine programmer Corrinne Yu. You realize, I know, that your life would be better with more women like them in gaming. Swift herself has written about how rough women have it in the industry, so keep in mind that targeting Quinn will drive away the next Kim Swift. That’s not a trade you want to make. Publicity and cronyism are ephemeral. Good games are forever.

Posts that I found interesting (otherwise unclassified)

Jenna at Cold Antler Farm wrote, “An Open Letter To Angry Vegetarians“:

I recently received your note, the one that accused me of being a murderer. I understand why you are angry and I applaud your compassion. I understand because I was a vegetarian for nearly a decade, the same breed as yourself actually. Meaning; I chose the diet because of a love for animals, passion for conservation, and concern for our diminishing global resources. Avoiding meat seemed to be a kinder, gentler, and more ecological choice. I supported PETA. I had ads in Vegan magazines for my design website. I am no longer a vegetarian and do raise animals on my small farm for the table, but we have more in common than you may realize.

It would be foolish for me to try and change your mind about eating animals, and I have no interest in doing so. The vegetarian diet is a fine diet. We live in a time of great abundance and luxury, and that means choices! Never before in the history of the human animal have so many options for feeding ourselves been presented like they are now. If you want to eat a gluten-free, dairyless, low cholestoral, and mid-range protein diet based on whey extracted from antibiotic free Jersey Cows-  you can. Your great grandparents could not. There was no almond milk at the Piggly Wiggly and ration cards kinda ruined that conga line. But now there is so much food and your diet is as much a personal a choice as your religion and sexual activity, possibly even more personal. So understand I am not writing you this open letter because you don’t eat meat. I’m writing you this letter because you called me a murderer.

Conscious Capitalism: Can Empathy Change the World?:

Conscious Capitalism, Inc. started as an organization in August, 2006, and focuses principally on enterprise and the recognition that every business has a purpose beyond the firm.

“Rather than seeing business as a tube [money in, money out],” says Klein, “we look at business as an ecosystem of interdependent interrelated stakeholders. For stakeholder management, the business has to produce profits over time, but that doesn’t mean that’s its sole purpose. For the business to be sustainable, flourish, and be resilient, it needs to focus on the whole rather than its parts.”

Klein points out that corporations have often purposefully served the societies in which they flourish. Companies like Avon and Johnson & Johnson  articulated their primary purpose in their original charters, which was not about making money, but serving their stakeholders. The robber barons also recognized that making money and giving portions of it back was an important part of business (Carnegie built libraries, Rockefeller created museums).

Paul Ford at Medium wrote, “How to Be Polite“:

Here’s a polite person’s trick, one that has never failed me. I will share it with you because I like and respect you, and it is clear to me that you’ll know how to apply it wisely: When you are at a party and are thrust into conversation with someone, see how long you can hold off before talking about what they do for a living. And when that painful lull arrives, be the master of it. I have come to revel in that agonizing first pause, because I know that I can push a conversation through. Just ask the other person what they do, and right after they tell you, say: “Wow. That sounds hard.”

Pope Alexander writes at Jezebel, “What Steven Moffat Doesn’t Understand About Grief, And Why It’s Killing Doctor Who“:

Then Moffat, of course, took over the show as show runner. And once again, people just seem to keep… not dying. Part of the problem is that Moffat’s a big fan of the Giant Reset Button — so much so that he literally wrote in a Giant Reset Button into the episode Journey to the Center of the TARDIS. One step above the “It was all a dream” plot, the Giant Reset Button absolves the characters and the writers of any repercussions and they can carry on as they were, even though we, the audience, saw a “major event” that is evidently no longer relevant. You can have your fun and adventure, but you need not learn or grow or change from it.

Race and Racism

For Harriet writes, “7 Black Women Science Fiction Writers Everyone Should Know“:

Though Black women’s literature spans every genre imaginable, the visibility of Black women in speculative fiction is often low. These women create work that not only speaks to their experiences but imagines new worlds and possibilities. Their stories take us on journeys. And while though the work may offer temporary moments of escape, when we return we’re better able to interpret our own place in the world.  If you’re interested in taking the trip, you’ll want to check out these Black women science fiction writers.

Beth Neate writes at ABC Open, “Peggy Patrick AM: A Queen Among Men“:

Whenever Peggy Patrick’s name is spoken, be it by Indigenous or non-Indigenous Australians, she receives a special reverence. Peggy Patrick is a woman of singular magnitude.

A prodigious singer, dancer, artist and storyteller, Peggy has performed throughout Australia. Frances Kofod, a linguist who has worked in the East Kimberley since 1971, is collaborating with Peggy on a bilingual autobiography. She believes that Peggy’s repertoire of Kimberley song cycles is unparalleled and that her cultural knowledge is akin to an encyclopedia.

Richard Parkin writes at SBS, “Enough fear mongering, let’s give Lakemba a fair go“:

While great credit should go to Mr Blair for having the courage and bravery to survive a full twenty-four hours in this anti-Anglo hot-bed, would it be nit-picking to suggest that a lot of what he wrote was wrong?

Let’s just presume that Mr Blair, the person subbing his column, and his editor all had justifiable reasons for shying away from the actual evidence that didn’t fit the story they were peddling – like the fact that one in two people in Lakemba aren’t Muslims; that one in four are Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Buddhists, Hindus or Anglicans; and that three in four people are proficient in English.

Why let facts – gleaned from made-up sources like the Australian Bureau of Statistics – get in the way, if they don’t suit your narrative of fear?

After Senator Lambie’s attacks on Sharia, the ABC posted, “What is sharia law?“:

Jamila Hussain, an Islamic law expert from Sydney’s University of Technology, said sharia was “a way of life for most Muslims”.

“It’s first of all religious duties – things like prayer and fasting, and also, importantly, paying money to charity and supporting the poor and looking after the weak and the vulnerable,” she said.

“It’s also everyday transactions. It guides Muslims in their way of life, teaches them to dress modestly, treat other people decently, be ethical in their business dealings.

“It also includes all those things we would normally call law – things like contract law, commercial law, family law, finance and banking law.

“And of course there is the criminal law element, though in most countries Islamic criminal law is not in practice. It is in places like Saudi Arabia and Pakistan where it’s very conservative, but not in most countries.”

“That the sharia obliges Muslims to comply with the laws of their country of residence is premised on the Koranic dicta demanding fulfilling “obligations” and “covenants,” as in the imperatives “You who believe, fulfil your obligations” and “Honour your pledges: you will be questioned about your pledges,” he said.

“Muslim jurists, therefore, understood that the ultimate authority in any country belongs to the government.”

Randa Morris writes, “Scary White People? White People Responsible For Five Out Of Every Six White Murders“:

Five out of six white people murdered in the United States are killed by a white person. That’s according to the most recent FBI crime data report, which provides demographic information of the race of victims and offenders, for all known murders that occurred in the US, in 2012. There were 3,128 white murder victims that year. Out of all of those murder victims, less than 500 were killed by minorities. The other 2,628 were killed by other white people.

We often hear about black on black killings, and we know that the rate of black people who are killed by other black people in the US is far too high. What we don’t often hear about is the shocking number of white people who are killed by other white people. But when you look at the statistics in light of the most recent US population data, you find that the rate of white on white homicide is entirely out of line with the racial makeup of the country as a whole.

Disability

Cara Liebowitz at That Crazy Crippled Chick writes, “The Trouble With Ableist Metaphors“:

But I was struck recently when, in the course of emails back and forth about inspiration porn and ableism, a colleague used the metaphor “I was blind and now I see.”  I’m sure he had the best of intentions and didn’t even stop to consider the ableist nature of the metaphor – but that’s sort of the point.  Ableism is so incredibly deeply ingrained in our culture that people use ableist language – yes, even people who should know better, I fully admit that I probably invoke these metaphors far more often that I should – without a second thought every day.  I’m not sure that happens with any other form of oppression (feel free to correct me if I’m wrong).

But wait!  I should stop being so literal, shouldn’t I?  After all, it’s just an expression!  No one actually means them!  Which is all well and good, but as my dear friend K says often, intent is not magic.  But the problem comes when we take both the literal and metaphorical definitions and step back to critically analyze what we mean when we say such things.

LGBTI Issues

Lisa L. Spangenberg wrote a very badly titled post at Boing Boing, “Misleading on Marriage: how gay marriage opponents twist history to suit their agenda“:

As someone in a same-sex relationship, I followed arguments for and against the overturn of DOMA with some interest. As a medievalist, my attention was particularly caught by arguments against DOMA on Twitter and elsewhere that asserted that Christianity and history unilaterally agreed that marriage means one woman and one man and coitus. This simply isn’t historically accurate even within the context of Christianity and European history.

Let me take you on a millennia-long walk down the aisle. The modern notion of marriage is connected with the historical, traditional model that those opposed to marriage equality like to cite, but it’s not nearly as clean a connection as parties on either side of the same-sex marriage divide would like to claim. It is in fact, varied, changeable, and chaotic.

Stavvers writes, “I am cis“:

But wait! Those who deliberately refuse to understand the word “cis” cry. Surely I cannot be cis if I do these things, because I’m subverting gender roles.

Nope.

Ashley C Ford writes at Buzzfeed, “30 Bisexual Women Discuss Their Long-Term Relationships With Men“:

3. “It’s like coming out all over again.”

“I have avoided telling my queer friends that I am in a relationship with a man. It’s like coming out all over again and I’ve experienced resistance against it. It feels like you are mistrusted, that people think you have actively chosen to take the route of most privilege without considering the ways in which you are now held at the margins by the community you most identify with. I am new to this relationship and still trying to navigate how to move through both worlds. Sometimes it means passing depending on the context because it’s hard to play the role of educator and/or be on the defense all the time. Even with friends, I’ve faced microaggressions in the form of jokes: ‘How does straightness feel?’”

M.A.Melby writes at Trans Advocate, “Quit attacking your allies!“:

I have seen various version of this phrase. “Quit attacking your allies!” – many, many times.  I’ve only been involved heavily in trans activism for about two years.  How and why I’ve become as invested as I am is a long story; but at the end of the day, I am a woman who was assigned female at birth.  I am cis.  So, it’s odd that this statement has been directed at me, but it often has.  It’s also something that I will never say.

The reason that I am pledging never to say, “Quit attacking your allies!” is because it’s not a sincere defense or tactical criticism.  It’s a threat.  The implication is simply: If you criticize me, if you are angry with me, if you say anything that makes me uncomfortable, I will withdraw my support from your cause.  In addition, the majority of the time, this phrase is not used by anyone actually involved in activism.  There is no support to withdraw.  Instead, there is power and privilege that can be put into play.  I’ve come to understand that “Quit attacking your allies!” is often code for: Respect my social status as being above you. Be quiet or there will be consequences.

Who are these “allies” that must not be attacked? Who must be placated? Who are these people being misunderstood or subject to undo scrutiny?

Prejudice at Pride

At TransGriot, “Black Trans History: Lucy Hicks Anderson“:

Lucy Hicks Anderson was born in 1886 in Waddy as Tobias Lawson.   When Lawson entered school she insisted on wearing dresses to school and began calling herself Lucy.  Since the transgender definition hadn’t been coined at that time to diagnose what was going on in her life, her mother took her to a physician who advised her to raise young Lucy as a girl.

Lucy left school at age fifteen to begin doing domestic work and left Kentucky in her twenties to move west.   She settled in Pecos, TX and began working at a hotel for a decade until she married Clarence Hicks in 1920 in Silver City, NM and moved west with him to Oxnard, California.  She divorced him in 1929.

The News Minute reports, “Padmini Prakash, India’s first transgender TV news anchor urges parents to be more receptive of their transgender children“:

She is India’s first Transgender TV anchor – Meet Padmini Prakash, a 34 year-old transgender based in Coimbatore who has broken the stigma faced by this section of society and has become the face of Lotus TV news channel in Coimbatore.

To parents in general she had a strong message: “Parents, when they come to know that their children are transgenders they should accept them for who they are. They should not isolate them. Parents should accept them and society should accept them”

Pete Smith at The Guardian writes, “Jaiyah Saelua: if I experience transphobia I just tackle harder“:

The nation’s size is reflected in their football record. Seventeen years, 30 defeats and 229 goals conceded – including that infamous world record defeat against Australia in 2001 – were American Samoa’s bare statistics since making their international debut. However, Saelua worked her way into the starting side after a lengthy apprenticeship, and helped her team achieve a World Cup win over Tonga.

The result, and Saelua’s story, has received global recognition thanks to Next Goal Wins, a film that has been released globally over the past few months, having screened at the recent Sydney Film Festival to positive reviews and large audiences.

Travelling extensively to promote the film, Saelua now finds herself somewhat unwittingly cast as a role-model and spokesperson for transgender sportspeople. It is, however, a role she is happy to fill.

Dameyon Bonson writes at Star Observer, “Reconciliation and decolonisation in suicide prevention“:

QUITE tragically, as you are reading these first few words there is a high probability somebody will attempt to end their life by suicide. There is even a higher probability that that somebody is part of the LGBTI community, particularly if they are at the point of self-realisation and disclosure. If that person is an Indigenous Australian, the probability amplifies yet again.

How do I know this? Because that’s what the evidence suggests. LGBTI people are said to have the highest rates of self-harm and suicide of any population in Australia. Same-sex attracted Australians are said to exhibit up to 14-times-higher rates of suicide attempts than their heterosexual peers. Yet, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, there were 996 suicides reported across Australia between 2001 and 2010 among Indigenous peoples. We are told that 1.6 per cent of all Australians die by suicide but for Indigenous peoples, this rate is more than 4.2 per cent, or one in every 24.

As mentioned, the evidence only suggests this because we are coalescing the data from two different groups and hypothesising the math. In other words we aren’t really sure.

 Repro Justice

John H Richardson writes at Esquire, “The Abortion Ministry of Dr. Willie Parker“:

After medical school, he bought a big house and a nice car and overstuffed his refrigerator the way people from poverty do, but those satisfactions soon seemed empty. He dated but never quite settled down. Inspired by Gandhi’s idea that the Gospel should appear to a hungry man in the form of bread, he went to work in a food pantry. But gradually, the steady stream of women with reproductive issues in his practice focused his mind. He thought about his mother and sisters and the grandmother who died in childbirth and began to read widely in the literature of civil rights and feminism. Eventually he came across the concept of “reproductive justice,” developed by black feminists who argued that the best way to raise women out of poverty is to give them control of their reproductive decisions. Finally, he had his “come to Jesus” moment and the bell rang. This would be his civil-rights struggle. He would serve women in their darkest moment of need. “The protesters say they’re opposed to abortion because they’re Christian,” Parker says. “It’s hard for them to accept that I do abortions because I’m a Christian.” He gave up obstetrics to become a full-time abortionist on the day, five years ago, that George Tiller was murdered in church.

Violence (trigger warning for all posts in this section – likely to contain stories of violence, transphobia, biphobia, homophobia, sexism, harassment, etc)

Stavvers writes, “Is stalking feminist praxis these days?“:

But ultimately, the fault here isn’t mine. There’s things I can do to tighten security, and I’ll do those things. The real problem here is TERfs. This is not feminism, it’s being a fucking creep. These people are a danger. This is why I have a hair trigger on my block button for them and anyone who pals around with them: it’s proved it to me. You never know when one could be passing on information.

I write this post as a reminder: a reminder that this isn’t some sort of intellectual parlour game. The safety of women is at stake here. I’m fine and I’m alive, but what I want to come from this is an increased level of awareness. I want this post to be read. I want people to know that the TERfs literally stalk women. And I know that me being cis means more people are likely to care.

Isn’t that just the most fucked-up thing?

Janelle Asselin at bitchmedia writes, “How Big of a Problem is Harassment at Comic Conventions? Very Big.“:

As 130,000 people head to San Diego Comic-Con (SDCC) this week, it’s important to recognize that while harassment can occur in comic shops and elsewhere, the bulk of complaints regarding gender harassment in comics happen at conventions. Yet SDCC has failed to put an emphasis on their harassment policy by not publicly posting signs about harassment or having a clear and well-publicized reporting process for incidents.

As a comics editor, writer, and fan myself, I got interested in how often people at conventions experience harassment. So earlier this year I conducted a survey on sexual harassment in comics, receiving 3,600 responses from people that varied from fans to professionals. The survey was distributed and conducted online, with people sharing it via Twitter, Facebook, and especially Tumblr and self-reporting all information. Of the people taking the survey, 55 percent of respondents were female, 39 percent were male, and six percent were non-binary (see the raw survey data here).

Helen Davidson at The Guardian writes, “Violence against women a national emergency, say Our Watch campaigners“:

A comprehensive national initiative is focusing on distorted ideas of gender equality as part of plans to tackle the “national emergency” of violence against women and children.

Our Watch was established by the commonwealth and Victorian governments last year, and on Friday revealed its strategy to achieve a complete rejection of domestic and family violence within 20 years.

Margaret C. Hardy at The Coversation writes, “We need to talk about the sexual abuse of scientists“:

The life sciences have come under fire recently with a study published in PLOS ONE that investigated the level of sexual harassment and sexual assault of trainees in academic fieldwork environments.

The study found 71% of women and 41% of men respondents experienced sexual harassment, while 26% of women and 6% of men reported experiencing sexual assault. The research team also found that within the hierarchy of academic field sites surveyed, the majority of incidents were perpetrated by peers and supervisors.

 

Related Posts:

Winter might be here linkspam (June 2014)

So I have a lot of posts I’ve collected over the past few months, and it’s high time to share them with you all, and stop feeling guilty about the backlog, and it’s going to be epic because I haven’t written for so long, and I have collected a huge range of great posts.

First up Alex Mills writes, “Anxiety and The Age of Entitlement: A Personal Story“:

Under Abbott’s new policy, if I didn’t have the support of my family, I would have found myself with no source of income or support. Where would I have lived? How could I have payed rent? How would I have purchased food, or payed for the frequent visits to my doctor and psychologist? And how would I have afforded the petrol that got me to all of these appointments?

I would have had no access to support for half a year. And honestly, I can’t really imagine where I might have ended up. When I think back to that time in my life, I am terrified at what this policy would have meant for me. Emergency relief, borrowing from friends, sleeping on couches – all of these things would have been a reality. I could have been homeless.

Blurg5000 writes at I’m Sorry I’m Like This, “The Spikes“:

As horrific as it must sound, sometimes you have to remove a person’s sleep site in order to engage that person. Rough sleeping is incredibly harmful, it affects a person’s physical and mental health and most importantly their personal safety. Each night you sleep rough you are risking getting a kicking because people do that to homeless people.

I guarantee that the outreach team in Southwark know about this site and have been trying to stop people rough sleeping there for some time, not because they lack humanity or a sense of community but because rough sleeping kills people. On average, homeless people die 30 years earlier than the rest of the population. It’s a slow suicide. Or sometimes actual suicide. Are businesses and housing associations cool about condoning something that kills people? No. That’s why they’ve put the spikes there. Or made the benches single. Or too narrow to sleep on. Look around you. These measures are in place all over London.

Violet Blue writes at ZDNet, “Thanks for nothing, jerkface“:

For LGBT, political dissidents, activists and at-risk people everywhere, Google’s little Google+ project became a loaded gun pointed right at anyone whose privacy is what keeps them alive.

Users found out in January 2014 when Google+ force-integrated chat and SMS into “hangouts” in the Android 4.4 “KitKat” update.

At-risk users were disproportionately affected, most especially transgender people who needed to keep their identities separate for personal safety and employment reasons.

One woman was outed to a co-worker when she texted him, and risked losing her employment.

Dylan Matthews writes at Vox, “More evidence that giving poor people money is a great cure for poverty“:

So there you have it: money sent to poor people abroad doesn’t get wasted on booze or cigarettes. But it’s worth asking whether we should even care how it’s spent, ultimately. There’s something more than a little unseemly about Westerners casting judgment on poor people halfway across the world for having a beer or a smoke. As the authors’ World Bank colleague Jishnu Das once put it, “‘does giving cash work well’ is a well-defined question only if you are willing to say that ‘well’ is something that WE, the donors, want to define for families whom we have never met and whose living circumstances we have probably never spent a day, let alone a lifetime, in.”

Xeni Jardin writes at Boing Boing, “Investigative report on collapse of US mental health care system”.

Stella Young writes at ABC RampUp, “‘Life skills’ program teaches wrong lesson“:

Choices are rarely made in a vacuum, and if hair removal for women was a genuinely unbiased choice, it would carry no consequences either way. Removal of body hair would not be met with society’s approval while letting it grow is met with surprise, ridicule and sometimes even disgust. I do it, in part, to conform to patriarchal standards of beauty. It might not be a particularly feminist or unbiased choice, but ultimately it’s my decision. The same cannot be said for this student who, from her mother’s account, had discussed the notion of hair removal at home and made a decision not to shave.

It’s important to reiterate this point: this young woman was presented with a choice. She made one. Then someone in a position of authority told her that removing her body hair is a “life skill”, implying that it’s something she has to do in order to better understand and operate in the world around her. Part of the school’s rationale is that the girls are more likely to avoid being teased if they conform to these social rules. Perhaps they’d be better off teaching tolerance and acceptance of all people, rather than conformity.

stavvers at Another angry woman writes, “An open letter to all men“:

By now, your fingers are probably twitching with the urge to scream NOT ALL MEN ARE LIKE THIS. I can almost feel your agitation, and your desire to say this. Guess what? That desire to burst in and announce NOT ALL MEN is tied in to that self-same sense of entitlement. You say it because you feel entitled to my time and attention. You say it because it horrifies you that I might feel negatively to you and you want to show off what a nice guy you really are.

The Bisexual Community Tumblr commented on the movie G.B.F.

Hiromi Goto made a WisCon 38 Guest of Honour Speech:

It matters who and what is being focused upon in fiction. It matters who is creating a fictional account of these tellings. I don’t think the “burden of representation” rests upon the shoulders of those who are positioned as under-represented. If this were the case we would fall into an essentialist trap that will serve no one well. However, I’m okay with saying that it is my hope that white writers who are interested in writing about cultures and subjectivities outside of their own consider very carefully: 1) how many writers from the culture you wish to represent have been published in your country writing in the same language you will use (i.e. English) to write the story, 2) why do you think you’re the best person to write this story? 3) who will benefit if you write this story? 4) why are you writing this story? 5) who is your intended audience? 6) if the people/culture you are selecting to write about has not had enough time, historically and structurally, to tell their story first, on their own terms, should you be occupying this space?

Simon Leo Brown at the ABC (Australian) writes, “Female video gamers offered real-life escape from online sexism“:

Hannah Morrison, 20, is a major investor in Power Up Melbourne, which is planning to open a “geek bar” in Melbourne in early 2015.

She is particularly keen to create a safe space for women to play video games after experiencing “horrible sexism” while playing online with other gamers.

Rebecca Shaw guest posts at Shiela’s with, “I <3 Internet“:

I found chat rooms where I could actually talk to other lesbians. It still took me a long time to even type that I was one. I was still too terrified to even admit it to a stranger on the Internet. Because the moment I did, I knew it would become real. There was no turning back. But the Internet quickly helped me come to the realisation that there were people all over the world who were funny, smart, (seemingly) normal, happy AND gay. Everything I had been denied in my life up to that point was now at my fingertips. It is hard to overstate what kind of effect a feeling of belonging, a feeling of community, a feeling of same-ness can have on a lonely and isolated teenager. I still couldn’t find the courage in myself to come out until a few years after that, but it didn’t matter. I had the Internet. Without it, I truly don’t know how I would have survived those years. I don’t know if I could have. I felt totally and completely alone; I felt I had nobody I could talk to, that there was nobody that would understand or love me.

The inaugural Special Issue of New Scholar, edited by Gillian Darcy, Nadia Niaz, Caitlin Nunn and Karen Schamberger. This issue concentrates on scholarship around the concept of belonging.

A Lynn at Nerdy Feminist writes, “On Anger“:

The stereotype of the angry oppressed person runs rampant. Angry feminists. Angry gay/trans people. Angry people of color. Chances are, if you’ve ever spoken out about a social issue, you’ve experienced tone policing and had your entire viewpoint dismissed because of your anger–whether than anger was real or just perceived on the part of the listener/reader. These same people offer their sage advice that others would listen to you if you were nicer, that you’d “catch more flies with honey,” and that the oppressors can’t learn unless you’re willing to play nice and educate them.

I saw an unattributed* quote floating around that hits at this point:

People often say ‘stop being angry and educate us,’ not understanding that the anger is part of the education.

This so hit home with me for primarily two reasons. The first is the outward message that those who need/want to be educated about these issues must know that understanding anger is inherently a part of this education. How can you try to empathize with someone’s oppression without acknowledging the emotions that come from that? Having your people murdered, fearing/surviving harassment and rape, not being free to live the lifestyle you want, etc. are all situations that come with a lot of emotions, one of which is logically anger.  In order to learn about oppression and move toward being an ally, you must be able to understand that.

Mark Bently Cohen writes, “How to Support Your Bisexual Husband, Wife, Partner“:

As previously discussed, bisexuals have much higher levels of anxiety, depression, self harm and suicidality than any other sexual orientation. One of the biggest sources of these internal stressors for bisexuals is the conflict between coming out as bisexual, or questioning, or confused, to a spouse or partner.

“This is not what I signed up for!” one woman told her wife upon discovering she is bisexual. Would she have responded the same way had she learned her wife had cancer? Or was dealing with depression? Or had lost her job?

Of all the unexpected circumstances which take us by surprise along the road through life, bisexuality is not something to fear.

Foz Meadows writes at What Happens Next: A Gallimaufry, “Female Bodies: A Weighty Issue“:

Clearly, these women all wear different size clothes for reasons that have absolutely nothing to do with their weight, and everything to do with height and bodytype. But because of the fashion industry’s obsession with tall, thin, white, ectomorphic models – women chosen, not because they’re a representative sample of the population, but so their minimal frames can better serve as coathangers for clothes that privilege a very specific aesthetic over function – we have learned to correlate small sizes with healthy bodies, the better to justify their primacy on the runway, in advertising and on screen as a healthy ideal. Never mind that modelling agencies have been known to recruit at eating disorder clinics, with store mannequins more closely resembling the bodies of anorexic girls than average womenmodels eating tissues to stay thin and rail-thin models photoshopped to hide their ill-health and prominent ribs: because “plus size” models – that is, women whose bodies are actually representative of the general population – are treated as a separate, exceptional category, the fiction persists that “plus size” is a synonym for “overweight”, “unhealthy” or “obese”: women too enormous to wear “normal” clothes, even though the norm in question is anything but. As such, plus-size models are frequentlyderided as fata jokeunhealthy and bad role models. Today, catwalk models weigh 23% less than the average woman, compared to 8% just twenty years ago – yet whenever this disparity is pointed out, the reaction of many is to just assume that average women must be overweight, and that using plus size mannequins will only encourage obesity. Throw in the fact that women’s clothing sizes aren’t standardised, but fluctuate  wildly from brand to brand – or within the same brand, even – and the idea of judging a woman’s health by what size jeans she wears becomes even more absurd.

Amy Cato at Women’s Agenda writes, “An open response to a man offended by all-female shortlists“:

My own path wanting to spend my career assisting experienced women get positions with great companies stems from many years involved in recruitment and women’s charities. Professionally, I was tired of hearing excuses during the recruitment of leadership and technical roles that the women candidates ‘didn’t exist’ or ‘are too hard to find’, so I put my money where my mouth is and launched Executive Women Shortlists. To clarify the business raison d’etre, one of the main services is the supply of additional senior women to add to a company’s existing pool of applicants, meaning men do not need to be excluded from the opportunity.

Not only is it good for collaboration and idea generation to have a more inclusive management team but also companies that have higher female representation at the senior levels of business outperform those that don’t by 34% according to McKinsey Global research. So, whether like me, you are passionate about getting more capable women into chief executive vacancies on the ASX 200 (currently we only have 3.5%) or whether you are simply interested in improving company financial results, the focus on hiring more women remains the solution.

Laurie Penny writes at New Statesmen, “The slippery slope of gender: why shaving and snacking are feminist issues“:

First, a spectacularly misogynist and homophobic (and now withdrawn) advert from Veet, manufacturers of hair-removing goo, claimed that failing to remove your leg-hair with the help of Veet products will turn you into an actual bloke. Then there was the equally repugnant site set up to shame “Women Eating on the Tube”, featuring non-consensual pictures of women doing just that, because there’s nothing worse a female person could possibly do than demonstrate in public that she has a body which gets hungry. There have already been some stellar pieces written about this round of gender policing, the best of which have been by Paris Lees and Ellie Mae O’Hagan respectively.

At Alas a Blog, “Panti Bliss Lectures About Being Lectured About What Is Not Homophobia“.

NK Jemisin writes, “Confirmation bias, epic fantasy, and you“:

I suspect this was not aimed at GRRM, specifically. MedievalPoC has made the same point about “historically accurate” medieval European video games that make conspicuously inaccurate choices in development, and so forth. MedievalPoC points this problem out as endemic to the genre in general, which isn’t really a surprise since it’s endemic to our society. The blog is dedicated to pointing out the literal erasures and revisions that have been inflicted on art of the era to make it conform to modern — and quintessentially white supremacist — beliefs about how medieval Europe “should” have been. (And if you haven’t figured it out yet, you should be following MedievalPoC. Like, now.)

Avicenna writes at A Million Gods, “World Vision (Except for the Gays)“:

World Vision are no longer a humanitarian organisation in my eyes.

See living in the UK, World Vision don’t push their Christian Credentials, so it was rather surprising to find out that they are a Christian organisation. So I went to check their American website. So while the British one has a vague reference to “God” the American one is explicitly Christian.

But this one line from their site got me.

We work in nearly 100 countries, serving all people, regardless of religion, race, ethnicity, or gender.

But not sexual orientation, but then World Vision is not a force for equality. Okay it may have forgotten that serving all people includes the GLBT?

Annie P Waldman writes at Vice, “Inside the Kafkaesque World of the US’s ‘Little Guantánamos’“:

Prisoners describe the communication management units, or CMUs, as “Little Guantánamos.” In 2006, the Bureau of Prisons created two of these units to isolate and segregate specific prisoners, the majority of them convicted of crimes related to terrorism. The bureau secretly opened these units without informing the public and without allowing anyone an opportunity to comment on their creation, as required by law. By September 2009, about 70 percent of the CMU prisoners were Muslim, more than 1,000 to 1,200 percent more than the federal prison average of Muslim inmates.

In the CMUs, prisoners are subject to much stricter rules than in general population. They are limited to two 15-minute telephone calls per week, both scheduled and monitored. Visits are rarely permitted, and when family members are allowed to visit, they are banned from physical contact, limited to phone conversations between a plexiglass window. This differs from the general population, where prisoners can spend time with their visitors in the same room. To further the isolation, some of the CMU prisoners are held in solitary confinement, with only one hour out of their cells each day.

Andy Khouri writes at Comics Alliance, “Fake Geek Guys: A Message to Men About Sexual Harassment“:

Can you imagine, gentlemen, receiving that threat from a potentially dangerous man whose identity you have no hope of discovering but who knows your name, what city you live in, what you look like and where you work?

Now imagine receiving messages like that from men so frequently that you’re no longer bothered by it.

Now understand how f*cked up it is that you’re no longer bothered by it; that you’re no longer bothered by men’s anonymous threats of brutal sexual violence, because they’ve become just as common as a train not arriving on time.

Aja Romano at The Daily Dot writes, “The Mako Mori Test: ‘Pacific Rim’ inspires a Bechdel Test alternative“:

In response to this post, and in the process of running down numerous arguments for why the Bechdel Test can’t and shouldn’t be the only measurement by which feminist films are judged, Tumblr user chaila has proposed the Mako Mori Test, “to live alongside the Bechdel Test”:

The Mako Mori test is passed if the movie has: a) at least one female character; b) who gets her own narrative arc; c) that is not about supporting a man’s story. I think this is about as indicative of “feminism” (that is, minimally indicative, a pretty low bar) as the Bechdel test. It is a pretty basic test for the representation of women, as is the Bechdel test. It does not make a movie automatically feminist.

wolsey at Queereka writes, “Planned Parenthood“:

The first time I went to a Planned Parenthood personally, I was barely 15 years old. I had been sexually active for the very first time with my then boyfriend. It had been a blood filled fiasco wherein the condom broke. Being a person with a uterus, this was a problem.

The events had occurred the evening before, and I shown up to sit on the concrete in front of the doors to the clinic waiting for it to open. This was not how I had envisioned losing my virginity.

I was driven to seek help not just for my fears of pregnancy, but because the very concept of pregnancy froze me with terror. There are not many things that give me dysphoria, as a transgender man, but the idea of being pregnant in this body was the nuclear option when it came to dysphoria.

Michi Trota at Geek Melange writes, ““Letting the Jerks Get to You” Isn’t Really the Problem“:

Leaving aside for the moment how it’s both laughable and depressing that once again, it’s the opinion of men in the comics industry that’s solicited in determining whether or not things are “vastly improving” for women dealing with sexism and misogyny, rather than the women who are actually dealing with it and therefore might have a rather different perspective and metric for determining what “vastly improving” actually means, let’s look at Bendis’ answer:

I get a lot of crap for being Mr. positive from people who are having a hard time seeing the cup half-full but I completely agree with you.

I think things are vastly better than they were and that only makes the shitheads stand out even more. Things are not perfect, all of society’s problems are not solved, but I do think the good guys are winning.

Ah yes, because it’s terribly hard having your optimistic bubble popped by people who might be dealing more directly with the fact that their cup looks very much to them like it’s not only half-empty, the water is fracking-contaminated as well. It’s rather easier to think that the water’s getting cleaner when you’re not the one who is actually having to drink it, isn’t it?

Trudy Ring at Advocate writes, “Study: Childhood Bullying’s Effects Persist for Decades“:

Childhood bullying, the bane of many an LGBT youth’s existence, has social, physical, and mental health effects that are still evident in survivors 40 years later, according to major new research findings from the Institute of Psychiatry at King’s College London.

The data comes from the British National Child Development Study, which follows all children born in England, Scotland, and Wales during one week in 1958. The new findings, published online Friday by the American Journal of Psychiatry, covers 7,771 children whose parents provided information on their child’s exposure to bullying when they were aged 7 and 11. The children were then followed up on until the age of 50.

shweta narayan writes, “A thought on playing at the lowest possible difficulty level, and telling other people what’s easy“:

Okay now let’s imagine we’re all playing a massive roleplaying game called The Real World. There’s an area of this game, let’s call it the “Speculative Fiction community”, that has interesting enough storylines and characters that players keep coming back to it, but it also has a number of nasty monsters. Let’s call them… trolls.

Now: here is a secret* about the trolls in this region.  They are ridiculously nerfed on the easy setting. When you’re playing the game on hard, or gods forbid on multiple-marginalizations, these trolls do a ton of extra damage, and have endless adds, and an “uncomprehending/dismissive” buff that lets them ignore most anything coming their way.

None of this matters on easy mode, mind. They’re annoying, but like most things in the game, pretty easy to take on. You don’t have to worry much about strategy or conserving resources when you’re on easy mode! You just need to run in and wave your sword around! But those of us playing the game on harder settings, we’ve figured out strategies, and we’ve figured out where not to go. We know the best approach is to avoid these monsters entirely, and avoid even indirect contact. We know that any item connected to them could be cursed on hard mode, and do further damage. We’ve figured this out from painful experience. So, when a couple trolls manage to infiltrate a high-status area of the region, and people comment that they’re going to avoid them…

…and in comes someone who is playing the game on the easiest fucking mode there is, right, who has set himself up as so sympathetic to people playing on hard. And he uses this platform to tell us that we’re playing the game wrong, we mustn’t protect ourselves because it’s not sportsmanlike.

Natalie Nourigat draws a beautiful comic at Home is where the Internet is called, “Don’t let fear stop you from traveling!

JA McCarroll writes at SheRights, “The Language of Dude Feminism

Rather than attacking the institution of masculinity itself, several recent campaigns have attempted a sort of masculinity triage, trying to eliminate violence against women, while still flattering men with the label of protector. These campaigns, such as “real men don’t buy girls,”“my strength isn’t for hurting,”are various incarnations of “how would you feel if someone said that to your mother /sister /girlfriend,”and have proven to be enormously popular, achieving prodigious re-blogs, conferences, and media airtime.

They are, by many metrics, successful, and have gotten institutions long silent on the rights of women to speak up. I believe we are the better for them, but I also believe that they do not go far enough, and we all must, as feminists, radicals and progressives, push against our comfort zones.

Colin Schultz at Smithsonian.com writes, “A Scientist’s Gender Biases Mouse Research“:

Duhaime-Ross reports on a new study, which found that mice are scared of men. When a male researcher works with a mouse, the mouse’s body courses with stress hormones. This doesn’t happen when a woman scientist is doing the work. The difference in how mice respond to male and female researchers could potentially skew everything from behavioral studies to cell research.

It’s not so much that mice are scared of male researchers as it is that mice are scared of male mammals. A whiff of testosterone from any male mammal is enough to trigger this fear, says Jef Akst for The Scientist. “In all likelihood, mice just haven’t developed a way to discriminate between the smell of a male mouse and the smell of other male mammals, so men also elicit a fear response,” says Duhaime-Ross.

Alexandra Bolles writes at GLAAD, ““But you don’t look queer”: students challenge stereotypes with viral campaign (PHOTOS & VIDEO)

SBS provided us with, “Aust trackers forgotten in foreign land“:

A Queensland researcher is investigating the fate of up to 50 Aboriginal trackers who assisted Australian troops in South Africa only to disappear from the record books.

It’s possible some died but others may have fallen victim to the new White Australia Policy.

Griffith University’s Dr Dale Kerwin has spent more than 15 years trying to find the lost indigenous men of the Boer War.

Annalee Newitz at io9 writes, “Hey Star Wars — Where the Hell Are the Women?“:

So when I looked at that Star Wars cast list, Hannah was on my mind. Surely in the second decade of the twenty-first century, she’d be given more awesome female characters to choose from in this contemporary incarnation of Star Wars. Leia would still be there, as the fighting princess — but maybe there would be a female fighter pilot whose swagger could rival Han Solo’s, or a female Sith strutting through some scenery-chewing lines. Nope. There’s one female name other than Carrie Fisher’s on that cast list: the relative unknown Daisy Ridley, whom fans are speculating might play the daughter of Han Solo and Princess Leia. Of course, more cast members will be announced, but this is probably our core cast — the main characters.

Having Ridley is great, but one new female lead in a cast of men? That’s how we launch ourselves into the future of this series, which inspires little girls with pink swords, as well as old girls like myself who graduated to sharper weapons long ago? Are we seriously still pretending that the universe is comprised almost entirely of men (and mostly white men at that)? Mythic tales are supposed to open up possibilities, not shut them down.

Adam Grant writes at The Atlantic, “Why So Many Men Don’t Stand Up for Their Female Colleagues“:

The traditional explanation is sexism. Psychologists Peter Glick and Susan Fiske have eloquently highlighted two different kinds of sexist ideologies that cause men to justify gender inequality and resist sharing their power and wealth. “Hostile sexists” believe that men are superior beings who deserve to rule the world. “Benevolent sexists” are more pro-women—just not in leadership. They view women as beautiful, fragile creatures who ought to be protected by men, not be followed by men. And, of course, some men are comfortable with the status quo: They’d like to preserve hierarchies—particularly those they benefit from—rather than destabilize them.

Although there’s little doubt that these reasons prevent some men from being better advocates for the women around them, a more subtle cause has been overlooked. Some men want to voice their support, but fear that no one will take them seriously because they lack a vested interest in the cause.

Liam Croy at the West Australian writes, “Review rejects Hawkins appeal“:

Ms Hawkins, who has osteogenesis imperfecta or “brittle bone disease”, was working as a Legal Aid lawyer until her contract ended in February.

The 33-year-old reapplied for the disability pension while she tried to find a new job – no easy task, given her severe physical restrictions.

Much to her surprise, her claim was rejected last month on grounds she was not impaired enough.

A Self Made Woman writes, “On Being Cissed, or, The Night That Janet Mock Mistook Me for Cisgendered“:

To be cissed is to feel like your world isn’t yours. It feels like a hand has reached across time to shove that part of you that didn’t know if you could or should, and tell him, her that he, she doesn’t exist. To be cissed is for your tribe to cast you out without knowing it, leave you to languish in that dark place between who you are and who they think you are.

Cameron Kunde at Affect Magazine writes, “The Bisexual Block“:

That same year, the nonprofit advocacy group BiNET USA (http://www.binetusa.org) reached out to Google when it discovered that the word bisexual was blocked from Google’s autocomplete function. When you type in gay, lesbian, or transgender, Google will automatically suggest common searches pertaining to those terms. When you type in bisexual, however, you get a blank screen.

In the five years since, Google has responded more than once by blaming algorithms, saying that the search term bisexual is blocked from the auto-complete feature because of a high correlation to pornography. This logic is highly flawed because a search for “gay porn” yields over 400 million more results, and “lesbian porn” yields over 20 million more results than a search for “bisexual porn”. The terms gay and lesbian are undoubtedly used to search for porn more frequently than the term bisexual. In 2012, Google announced that it had unblocked the word and suggested that phrases would soon pop up like “bisexual quotes”, “bisexual rights”, and “bisexual parenting”. It has been over two years since this announcement and the term bisexual continues to yield an auto-complete void.

Foz Meadows at shattersnipe: malcontent & rainbows writes, “Silence Is Not Synonymous With Uproar: A Response To John C. Wright“:

Do you see the issue? You cannot state, as your opening premise, that SFF fandom is being handicapped by silence and an unwillingness to speak out, and then support that premise by stating the exact polar opposite: that there has, in your own words, been vocal uproarDoubtless, what Wright meant to imply is that the persons against whom the uproar is directed are being silenced by it – that he, and others like him, such as Larry Correia and Theodore Beale, are now suffering under the burden of enforced quietude. But given that all three men are still writing publicly and vocally, not just about the issues Wright raises, but about any number of other topics, the idea that their output is being curtailed by their own “unwillingness to speak for fear of offending” is patently false. Indeed, by their own repeated admission, Correia, Beale and Wright are wholly unafraid of causing offence, even sometimes going so far as to seek outraged reactions. So if Wright and his fellows proudly don’t care about being offensive, then who does: who really fears to speak? By untangling the nonsensical web that is Wright’s attempt at logic, a paradoxical answer emerges: that the people who actually do care about causing offence – the apparent victims of silence – are simultaneously the same gossipy, vocal detractors responsible for silencing… ourselves, as it turns out. Where “silence” is a synonym for “uproar”.

At A Paper Bird, “Too brown to be heard: The Brunei brouhaha“:

I’ve said my bit on the recent burst of outrage over Brunei here, at PolicyMic. Briefly, I wrote that despite the exclusivist furor in the US and UK over the “antigay” impact of the measure, shari’a is much more likely to affect the rights of women. And I said that Western activists’ reluctance to acknowledge the multiple dimensions of the issue, much less the pioneering work of women’s rights activists across southeast Asia, was a disgrace.

I got some nods, some hate mail, and more than the usual amount of incomprehension. I had an argument on Twitter (an oxymoron, anyway), with an eminently earnest man who responded to me at complete crosspurposes. Why, I kept asking, wouldn’t you check with women’s groups or sexual rights activists across the region, who have experience with context and culture, in planning a boycott? “There are no LGBT groups in Brunei,” he kept answering, as if this meant there was no one to talk to about the issue anywhere except Los Angeles or London: no relevant expertise outside his postal code. Meanwhile, the tempest kept growing. Britain’s chief LGBT lobby group, Stonewall, declined to endorse a boycott of the Brunei-owned chain of hotels. Its acting head, Ruth Hunt, wrote in the Telegraph: 

We only implement actions that we can calculate will have an impact. … I do, however, fear that the boycott could do very real harm to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people of Brunei. By turning the issue into a battle between gay people and the Sultan – which it isn’t, it affects everyone in Brunei, not just gay people – we limit the opportunity for dialogue and put the lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people of Brunei at far greater risk. A group of people, I hasten to add, who’ve yet to publically call for a boycott.

Lesley at XOJane writes, “It’s Always A Radical Act When A Fat Woman Shares A Picture Of Herself Online“:

In another life, when I had aspirations of being a proper academic, I used to give guest lectures at colleges and universities. I’d get up in front of rooms full of quarrelsome and bright young adults and present a bare-bones introductory version of the subject in which I’d spent the better part of my life developing my expertise: deep cultural analysis of the ways in which women’s bodies, particularly fat bodies, are represented in media.

Part of my lecture included a comparison between two images. One was an image of four nude women, lounging strategically over one another to cover crotchparts and nipples, taken from Cosmopolitan magazine. The other was an image of a group of nude fat women, from Laurie Toby Edison’s art photography book Women En Large.

Rebecca Moore at The Life and Times of an Exceptionally Tall Mormon writes, “University Study on Sexism In BBC’s Doctor Who (Infographic)“:

Conversations were allowed to pass if they were not centered around a man but did briefly mention one. This was to allow for a companion to be able to mention the Doctor, for example if someone were asking where they were from they could say “Oh, I came here in a box with a man called the Doctor,” and then carried on. Or also perhaps two women discussing something where they may briefly mention their brother, employer, etc. If the mention of the man was removed from the conversation, the purpose of the conversation would still stand. An episode could also pass if the conversation(s) happened in the presence of/with a man as long as it was still between at least two women who were actually conversing with each other (i.e. more than one or two lines and was clearly directed at each other), and about something besides a man. However, conversations where two women were addressing the Doctor (or another man), and not really talking to or acknowledging each other, were not included. This was to allow for three (or more) way conversations, since the test did not say that a man/men observing/participating in the conversation with two or more women disqualified it. A simple address was not considered as a conversation. The women had to have more than a two line exchange. (See end of post for a full list of failed episodes.)

Can you imagine, gentlemen, receiving that threat from a potentially dangerous man whose identity you have no hope of discovering but who knows your name, what city you live in, what you look like and where you work?

Now imagine receiving messages like that from men so frequently that you’re no longer bothered by it.

Now understand how f*cked up it is that you’re no longer bothered by it; that you’re no longer bothered by men’s anonymous threats of brutal sexual violence, because they’ve become just as common as a train not arriving on time.

Read More: Fake Geek Guys: A Message to Men About Sexual Harassment | http://comicsalliance.com/sexual-harassment-online-rape-threats-comics-superheroes-lessons-men-geek-culture/?trackback=tsmclip

Can you imagine, gentlemen, receiving that threat from a potentially dangerous man whose identity you have no hope of discovering but who knows your name, what city you live in, what you look like and where you work?

Now imagine receiving messages like that from men so frequently that you’re no longer bothered by it.

Now understand how f*cked up it is that you’re no longer bothered by it; that you’re no longer bothered by men’s anonymous threats of brutal sexual violence, because they’ve become just as common as a train not arriving on time.

Read More: Fake Geek Guys: A Message to Men About Sexual Harassment | http://comicsalliance.com/sexual-harassment-online-rape-threats-comics-superheroes-lessons-men-geek-culture/?trackback=tsmclip

Related Posts:

Welcome to the 71st Down Under Feminists’ Carnival

Welcome to this, the 71st DUFC.  Do you know what that means?  It means that we’ve been doing this for quite a long time and that it’s lots of fun.  Thank you so much to Chally for organising these and providing me with some submissions, and to Mindy and Mary for sending me many submissions.  Any omissions are my own, and if I missed a great post you made this month (and you’re a feminist writer from Australia and New Zealand), please let us know about it in the comments.

International Women’s Day

Heidi La Paglia writes at NUS Women’s Department, “International Women’s Day and the Continued Importance of Feminism“:

In the last few decades’ women around the world have come a long way in their progress towards gaining autonomy and equality with men. In Australia alone, the successes are almost countless. Changes in legislation have allowed women to access affordable means of contraception, join the workforce in areas previously dominated by men and follow aspirations apart from getting married and having children. BUT… while women HAVE come a long way in their fight for emancipation, there are still many goals we’re yet to met [sic].

Christina Ryan at intersectionalitytimes writes, “Reflections on International Women’s Day 2014 (or the only X in the village)“:

Can these women speak for the 1 in 5 of their Australian sisters who have disabilities? No, and nor should they. Just as they shouldn’t speak for our Aboriginal sisters, or our LGBTI or culturally diverse sisters. The experiences of women of diversity are different and relevant. We bring enormous depth and difference to any conversation on any issue. Most importantly we aren’t just focussed on our own space. Just as women generally will talk about finance, geopolitical events, and architecture (for example), and not just stick to childcare or maternity leave. Women of diversity will talk about finance, geopolitical events and architecture, but we will talk about them with very different eyes and understanding.

Betty Taylor at One Voice in the Crowd writes, “Tony Abbott A Feminist …Delusional Thinking“:

What a ridiculous statement. Abbott refers to a handful of women who have had various measures of success in attaining prominent public roles. The success of a few women does not mean that gender equality has been achieved for all women. Abbott also fails to acknowledge his own role in the public abuse & humiliation of Australia’s first female Prime Minister, Julia Gillard. When one woman is abused and degraded, all women become vulnerable targets.

Kimberley Ramplin at The Referral writes, “It is about feminism…“:

Third wave feminism is a reaction against the second wave ignoring the voices and agency of women of colour, differing abilities or gender identification.  In scorning the third wave, Hardy scorns the Ciceronian legacy she professes to admire; for we move further along the path of ‘kindness, generosity, goodness and justice’ through welcoming and celebrating diverse voices, not mocking or ignoring them.  Hardy’s column is a strange exercise in confirmation bias: ‘my weltanschauung* is better than yours and I am here to liberate you’; yet most of her criticism is reserved for middle-class, white, female feminists.  Yes, she is correct in using the dread ‘socialism’ tag twice in four paragraphs: International Women’s Day was started by groups of European socialists.  In 1911, more than one million women and men attended IWD rallies in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland, campaigning for women’s rights to work, vote, be trained, to hold public office and end discrimination.  I’ll repeat that for the peanut gallery: women AND men joined together to give birth to this crypto-socialist feminista wankfest.  A week later, the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire claimed the lives of 140 women in New York City, cementing labour standards and working conditions as a key angle of future IWD observances.

New Matilda writes, “Why You Should Know About These Women“:

But what about the underrated women, the quiet achievers, and the historical figures whose contributions laid the foundations for others?

Who should we know more about this International Women’s Day? New Matilda asked 10 women for their recommendations.

Kath at Fat Heffalump writes, “Happy International Women’s Day!“:

You see that’s what misogyny is.  It’s the myth of “femininity”.  The myth that womanhood fits one narrow band of features and behaviours, and that womanhood is a competition between the female of our species to appeal to male of our species, and only those that “win” the attention of men are allowed to consider themselves “feminine”.  Femininity is measured by how pleasing a woman is to men – by her appearance, her voice, her behaviour and her sexual availability.

Intersectionality

Aaminah Khan at Days Like Crazy Paving writes, “No such thing as “normal”“:

I am not normal. I am too brown and too female (and femme) and too mentally ill and too queer to be normal. Most of the people I know aren’t normal. And every time one of us tries – usually so that we might get that job we really want or a place on that guest speaker list or a piece of writing published or just acceptance into a new circle of friends – we find that the goalposts have shifted. Because the big secret about normal is that it’s whatever the people oppressing you want it to be. You can never meet the standard, because the standard will change with the specific goal of making you fall short yet again.

Transcendancing writes at The Conversationalist, “Queerness and Midwifery“:

Where I find my experience of studying midwifery stands out next to my classmates and teachers around me is my acute awareness of my queerness. I have moments of feeling apprehensive, of worrying about my queerness in the context of midwifery. I worry about fitting in with my classmates and with my future colleagues, though really this is just the uncertainty of a new situation speaking. By now, I am quite practised at navigating outward queerness and ordinariness in new group situations. Largely, I think queerness stands out to me only because my gendered experience, for possibly the first time ever, does not stand out to me at all.

Saman Shad at Ideas At The House writes, “Intersectionality and why we need it“:

While intersectionality has certainly proven to be a divisive issue amongst feminists I feel it is something that very much needs to be discussed and adopted by the wider feminist community. Feminism used to mostly be the domain of white, educated, middle-class women. Issues that needed to be targeted by feminism were hashed out by smaller groups, generally in academic circles. Now, however, with the rise of social media, feminism has been somewhat democratized – all women are deciding what issues matter and are relevant to them.

Jo at A Life Unexamined writes, “The Reality of Disadvantage“:

It was here that I started to question some of the things going on. Many of the things my group chose to represent as attributes of an ideal ambassador were straightforward: friendliness, organisational skills, patience, enthusiasm. Thinking of the emphasis on low socio-economic areas and Indigenous students, I threw in ‘cultural sensitivity’ and ‘awareness of own privilege’ – two things I think lie at the basis of any social justice-type work. But as soon as I said the word ‘privilege’ left my mouth, I was shot down. My fellow group members frowned at me. ‘I don’t think that’s necessary,’ one girl said. ‘Surely everyone is unique and has challenges of their own?’ Well, yes, I thought. But there’s a difference between individual challenges and institutionalised or generational disadvantage. But I could sense the hostility, so I said ‘ok, I won’t add it then,’ and we moved on.

Relationships

Sydney Jones at wom*news writes, “Preview of Upcoming Zine “Injustices and Inequalities”“:

I don’t even have to make up a hypothetical situation here to explain to you how these conversations play out after I politely message back, telling the man I’m not interested. 8 times out of 10, he will ask something along the lines of “Why not?”. I sincerely feel that I should not have to answer that question. If I’m in a bar and a guy starts to talk to me, I will make it clear if I’m not interested. I’ll tell him I have to go or show him with body language. But online, you have to be more direct. I do have to say “No.”

Jo has started a new blog/space called The Asexuality Story Project, allowing people to submit biographical stories about their journey from around the world.

Orlando at Hoyden About Town writes, “Friday Hoyden: Hortense Mancini“:

In the middle of the 17th Century, an Italian noblewoman brought her five daughters to Paris, where her brother had acquired a position of enormous political power, with the intention of finding them all illustrious husbands. They were pretty, educated, noble, wildly intelligent and gracious good company, so this wasn’t a difficult task in itself. A good marriage on paper, however, bears so little relationship to what the experience of it will be. The five Mancini sisters and their two cousins, nieces of the highly influential Cardinal Mazarin, were collectively referred to at court as “Les Mazarinettes”, which tells us how little France appears to have changed in four hundred-odd years. Hortense Mancini was her uncle’s favourite, and was made his heir. She was married at fifteen to one of the richest men in Europe, who turned out to be an obsessive, violent, controlling abuser.

Media

AlisonM at The Hand Mirror writes, “Pregnant and Headless“:

Stock images were born of marketing — trying to get particular groups of people to buy stuff; or to illustrate company annual reports, brochures, political party propaganda. The images are selected, as scholar Paul Frosh explains it in a paper aptly titled “Inside the Image Factory”, “in accordance with the classificatory regimes employed by advertising and marketing discourse to specify meanings and target audiences (most fundamentally class, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, and age)”. He goes on to point out that the ethical question raised by this is connected to representational power, in particular “the inability of certain groups to control representation of themselves or even to be represented at all.”

Over at the news with nipples, “The special women’s section“:

Making an explicit effort to include women’s voices in the news is an excellent idea, but it is a terrible idea to put them in a special section that men will never read. It’s the same complaint I have about Daily Life (another complaint being that the content is often indistinguishable from the lifestyle and entertainment sections), and about the All About Women Festival at the Opera House, where well-off women will pay to see other well-off women talk about stuff they already agree with. Some of the festival will be interesting – Ilwad Elman and Mona Eltahawy are speaking – but is unlikely to lead to any real change because it’s pitched as an event for women. Don’t get me wrong, I think there’s a lot of benefit in women talking with each other about how to change things, and in writing for each other about our opinions and lives. We do that all the time, and I enjoy it and learn a lot from it. But if cultural change is the goal, then it won’t happen this way.

Liz Barr writes at No Award, “Secrets & Lies“:

My blurb:

Manpain. No sympathetic adult women.  One person of colour, unsympathetic.  The hero has never read a detective novel ever, and is following the How To Look Totally Suss playbook.

Nevertheless, the mystery is interesting and I like the setting, so I’m probably going to keep watching.  And blogging.

Rebecca Shaw writes at The King’s Tribune, “Relatable Relationships“:

Not only am I a lesbian (which means I am a woman, in case you hadn’t realised), I am also a FAT woman (not to be confused with my alter ego Fatwoman, who is like Batman except she spends all her money on parties). In the same way that being a lesbian has defined certain aspects of my life, being a fat person in this society has as well. For me, as a privileged and white fat lesbian, the anti-fat sentiment I have experienced my entire life has been more pervasive and damaging than any amount of direct homophobia I have encountered (so far). Don’t get me wrong; they are both REALLY fun to experience, and they have a lot in common, especially when it comes to media representation. If you try to list all the thin, white actresses who have ever played a straight character on television or in movies, you would be here for days and days and eventually your colleagues would call the police because they would be concerned that something had happened to you because you weren’t annoying them at work. And something WOULD have happened to you – you would have had died of starvation and dehydration, but not before realizing that in the big picture, almost all women in movies and TV are thin, white and heterosexual. The number of lesbians on screen compared to their prevalence in actual society is low. The number of fat women on screen compared to their prevalence in actual society is INSANELY UNJUSTIFIABLY low.

Avril E Jean at Becoming Avril E Jean, Artist writes, “Why ‘The Big Bang Theory’ utterly fails to describe Geek and Nerd culture“:

I come from geek culture. I identify as a geek, I’m a massive massive geek. I’ve been in FOME, MURP, and the SCA. All my friends are both female and males. My collection of star trek and wars figures is actually slightly embarrassing. I watch SF, I read it, and I will get involved in a discussion about Babylon 5 at the drop of a hat. THERE ARE HUNDREDS OF WOMEN LIKE ME.  All my female friends are equally geeky. Geeky girls like geeky boys and there is a lot of dating and going out and socializing.  This stuff just is not shown on that TV show.

Repro Justice

Julie at the Hand Mirror writes, ““Choose Life” is not about choice; it’s about force“:

There’s a new campaign by one of my least favourite lobby groups (Family First in case you were wondering), which is encouraging people to wear special pink and blue ribbons to say “Choose Life,” by which they mean don’t have abortions.

The use of the word “choose” implies that Family First is asking people to make a choice.  But in fact what they actually want to do is take away the very choice they are supposedly promoting.

Julie at the Hand Mirror also writes, “The fundamentally anti-women notion at the heart of anti-abortion campaigns laid bare“:

Let’s be clear; this example shows us precisely what the opposition to abortion are all about: denying those with uteruses power over their own bodies, and encouraging those who aren’t pregnant to hold sway over those who are.  Most of the time that is going to be a woman disempowered, harassed, upset, abused, and a man taking power, harassing, hectoring, abusing.  And that is fundamentally anti-women.

Lauren Ingram writes at Birdee, “THIS IS WHAT MY ABORTION WAS LIKE“:

The morning of my abortion, I got dressed in comfortable clothes and my boyfriend drove us to the clinic. Despite the time, around 7am I think, there were protestors out of the front of the building. They were all white, over 60, praying loudly and holding signs. Their mere presence infuriated me and I resolved to let them have it if they said anything to us. Somehow they ignored us (maybe we didn’t look enough like we were going to get an abortion?) and we walked right in.

tigtog writes at Hoyden About Town, “Debate vs Inquiry and “Reasonable Debate” as a silencing tactic“:

As Greta also notes, most arguments based on fetal personhood fail to engage with the unconscious violinist analogy: since one cannot be compelled to donate the use of one’s tissues/organs to a born person who will die without them, not even if their survival is dependent upon oneself and oneself alone, not even if one caused their fatal condition, then (again) what is the justification for making abortion a special case?

Mary at Hoyden About Town writes, “Fetal personhood in NSW: “an issue that should be of serious concern to all of us”

Megan Clement-Couzner writes at New Matilda, “Are The Abortion Wars About To Begin?

Are these just the demented bleatings of a fringe-dwelling religious right? Yes and no. While Australia is overwhelmingly pro-choice, the attack in Victoria came from Liberal MP Bernie Finn. In the NT, the Attorney General has proposed laws that criminalise pregnant women who drink alcohol. In NSW, a female Liberal member is sponsoring Zoe’s Law in the upper house. ‘Zoe’ was the unborn daughter of NSW woman Brodie Donegan, who was struck by a drug-affected driver in 2009. When Zoe died in utero, the driver who caused her death was charged with injury to her mother.

Our Stories

Julie writes at The Hand Mirror, “On her bike“:

It’s actually going well.  I have worked out I have poor balance (I fall off quite a bit, have trouble with take off too), and that’s not all that likely to go away.  I’m also rather scared of going fast, so I use the brakes a lot going downhill.  People smile at me more when I have the basket on, and it’s quite delightful to be able to get around my suburb and a bit further afield and say hello to those I meet on the street; something I could never do in a car.

What I’ve worked out is that when I cycle I feel I am a part of the neighbourhood I’m moving through, with all my senses, as opposed to being separated from it by the steel and glass shell of a car.  And that’s a good feeling.

LGBTIQ

Rebecca Shaw writes at SBS, “Why I don’t care about Fred Phelps“:

The WBC held up a mirror to people undecided on gay rights, and a lot of those people have not liked what they saw. They have caused citizens to band together, groups of bikies to take up the cause, and come together to do things like block the WBC from picketing. Phelps has no power over us. He is nothing. The tiny, mostly-related Westboro Baptist Church is nothing. You should feel no pangs of anything – except worse hunger pangs (I still haven’t had lunch).

Danielle Colley writes a story told her by a mother of a trans* child at Daily Life, “My eight-year-old daughter just wants to be a boy“:

I was driving along in the car recently when my daughter, Ruby*, asked if she could go to the doctor’s and get a penis. She’s eight. My breath caught in my throat, and without taking my eyes off the road, I said I’d have to Google it when I got home.

Parenting and Families

Poor Stevie writes, “oh, baby“:

I mean, all my love and Cheezels to Jodi Gordon and Braith Anasta, but for pretty much every woman I have spoken to about motherhood, their newborn baby did not bring the glowing joy and love this photo depicts. It’s not the couple or their little family I have a problem with – they are all incredibly brave to wear white – it’s the “bundle of joy” bullshit women are force fed.

Race and Racism

Chally Kacelnik writes at Global Comment, “The Australian Aboriginal People With Disabilities Being Held In Prison Without Trial“:

To be frank, I’d be surprised if anyone in Australia is surprised. There’s a long history of disproportionate incarceration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people – who number two per cent of the general population versus a quarter of the prison population – and appalling treatment within the prison system. There have been so many Aboriginal deaths in custody that 1991 saw a royal commission, most of the recommendations from which have not been put in place. As such, deaths have been on the rise in recent years, such as that of Mr Ward, an Aboriginal elder who died from being transported in an extremely hot prison van by Western Australia’s Department of Corrective Services in 2008.

Celeste Liddle writes at Rantings of an Aboriginal Feminist, “Fair-skin privilege? I’m sorry, but things are much more complicated than that“:

Additionally, whilst I never denied skin colour as a marker, and whilst I also don’t deny the existence of some fair skin privilege in the some ways, what about visiting the concept of “migrant privilege”? The White Australia Policy existed until the early 1980s yet from the 1940s onwards, following the impacts of wars, it was chipped away at bit by bit. Non-white immigrants were eventually accepted into the country in various “waves” to the point of Malcolm Fraser openly supporting multiculturalism and opening up the refugee programmes to many Asian nations. This country has gone so far backward since this time with elections being won on the basis of “stopping the boats” that I am disgusted to live in it. Yet, here’s the thing: my father, despite being born in this country and having ancestors that had been born in this country for roughly 4000 generations, was not counted in the census as a citizen of this country until he was 17 years old. This is why I have problems with the term “First Australians”. Each successive wave of immigrants became Australians before the First Peoples, regardless of skin colour, were recognised as human beings. Therefore, migrant communities, whilst actively discriminated against by other Australians and enduring vast poverty, racism, ostracism and countless other things, also had more rights in this country than the First Peoples.

Aaminah Khan at Days Like Crazy Paving writes, “Fairy tales for privileged kids: “the anti-white racist”“:

See, racism isn’t just about prejudice. Is it possible for non-white people to be prejudiced against white people? Sure. I mean, I don’t know about you, but if I lived in a community where land and house prices were soaring because of gentrification, leading to me having to give up my home, I’d probably be a little prejudiced against the people driving me out onto the street. If I were to be looked over for a promotion because my boss didn’t want a non-white person being a public face of the company, I’d probably be a little prejudiced against the people who made the decision that a non-white spokesperson would seem too threatening to be effective. If my son were, say, shot dead in cold blood by a white man who was then found not guilty of murder because my son was walking home on his own wearing a hoodie, then…yeah, I guess I’d probably be a little prejudiced against the assholes who ensured my son’s killer was never brought to justice.

So yeah, non-white people can be prejudiced against whites.

Can they be racist against whites? Nope.

Jennifer Wilson at No Place for Sheep writes, “The unbearable ignorance of Tim Wilson, Human Rights Commissioner for *Freedom*“:

Everyone, Mr Wilson asserts ought to be allowed to use the term “nigger,” for example, because it is widely used in black communities. Wilson reveals his monumental ignorance and gobsmacking stupidity, through either his incompetent or  deliberate misunderstanding of the difference in the meaning of that term, when used within communities or by outsiders.

This dangerous call for absolute free speech favours only white people, and only certain highly privileged white men are demanding it. Wilson’s call for “personal responsibility” in this matter is ridiculous. There are matters society cannot afford to leave to an individual’s sense of “personal responsibility” and as has been proven over and over and over again, hate speech is one of them.

Poverty

Kath at Kath-Homeless writes, “Understanding Homelessness in Australia“:

I have spoken to so many people that have opened up to me in the last few weeks it is fantastic. Many have or know people that have been homeless. I hear so many different versions it is amazing how common it is. People that have lost their jobs, family members, housing due to bills, deaths, or as a youth or in their younger years. But all I have spoken to have recovered from it. I am having trouble doing that at the moment because of having car problems, money stolen from me, health and car insurance costs and general living car expense. It is very hard to do on newstart. People do not want people that don’t work or a struggling in their share accommodation and if so it is quite unaffordable if you are not employed. Many will say well others are doing it. Yes many are they are sharing houses together or living with a pensioner or family. I myself do not want to share a house full of people on the dole just as people do not want to share with me so this is another reason I am homeless.

Politics and Law

Kate Galloway writes at Curl, “Queensland to reintroduce gendered statutory language“:

In this post however, I will examine the legitimacy of a lower profile change proposed by the Bill: the renaming of the head of the CMC from ‘chairperson’ to ‘chairman’. See eg clause 35:

35 Amendment of s 224 (Qualifications for appointment as the chairperson)

(1) Section 224, heading, ‘as the chairperson’—
omit, insert

chairman and deputy chairman

(2) Section 224, ‘chairperson if’—
omit, insert
chairman or deputy chairman if

It would, I imagine, be argued that there is no legal effect to the change. Section 32B of the Acts Interpretation Act 1954 (Qld) provides:

In an Act, words indicating a gender include each other gender.

Kate Galloway also writes at Curl, “Women’s Property“:

I’ve spent this last few weeks going back to basics. What was I really trying to show? My (bigger than PhD) idea is that the notion of property is itself inappropriate to deal with contemporary issues. I think property theory, in its liberal market mould, is unsuitable for our contemporary culture (copyright), for culture in its wider sense (first nations/Indigenous peoples’ customary ‘title’) and it is most certainly unsuitable to deal with the huge issue of the environment, including of course, climate change. My PhD thesis is about the gendered nature of property and how it upholds the economic dependence of married women (married in a legal and de facto sense).

In my view, all property does is support the creation of a new market based on the idea of atomised, separated, individuals who are ‘rational profit maximisers’ and are in competition and unconnected with anyone else.

Julia Baird writes at the Sydney Morning Herald, “Quentin Bryce showed her true colours, quietly“:

Dame Quentin Bryce has mastered the art of the subtly powerful gesture.  When she – our first female governor-general – swore in our first female prime minister on June 24, 2010, she wore a dress the colour of rich butter. Pinned conspicuously below her shoulder was a brooch of purple silk flowers, with green linen leaves and white stems. The colours of the suffragettes.

bluemilk writes, “Abbott wants to stop measuring gender equality in the workplace“:

Given this data is all computerized and the bulk of it is collected in a standard payroll database it is difficult to see what exactly is so onerous about this but Sloan is trying her best to make the case. The other kinds of data collected by government include the family friendly working arrangements offered by a company and which of their employees use them. Again, all of this information is routinely collected by companies about themselves. Sure, reporting requirements aren’t cost-free but they’re not enough to have any Human Resource Department on a fainting couch either. And anyway, there’s no significant penalty for non-compliance and half the firms love the exercise because they use any better-than-average results to compete for the best job applicants.

Chally Kacelnik writes at Global Comment, “Australia’s Manus Island Shame: Where’s the Inquiry?“:

In response, Papua New Guinea’s Justice David Cannings initiated the inquiry. The Australian Broadcasting Corporation reports that, late on Friday, ‘the inquiry was put on hold after lawyers for the PNG government obtained a stay order in the Supreme Court in Port Moresby,’ claiming that Justice Cannings is biased because he has worked as a human rights lawyer. Immediately following this, Justice Cannings launched a new inquiry, and allowed Australian barrister Jay Williams access to the centre. All this has clashed with Papua New Guinea’s and Australia’s Prime Ministers, respectively Peter O’Neill and Tony Abbott, who are, according to Mr Abbott, in concert in agreeing that there ought to be no inquiry. Mr Abbott added that most of the asylum seekers were ‘economic migrants’ rather than true refugees.

Jennifer Wilson at No Place for Sheep writes, “Taking to the streets: why protest matters“:

March in March has come in for a fair amount of criticism for its alleged lack of focus and purpose.For some reason, ordinary citizens expressing grievances against their government is not regarded as being focused, or as having any purpose.

El Gibbs writes at No Fibs, “Moving Blue Mountains for #MarchInMarch: @bluntshovels reports“:

Moira Cox, Rachel’s mother, hasn’t done anything like this before. She heard about the March in March on Twitter and is passionate about her dislike for the current government. Ms Cox is concerned that commercial media will not cover the marches because she wants the Government to see how people feel about them.

Disability

Stella Young writes at Ramp Up (ABC), “Practicing pride in the face of exclusion“:

When I discovered the social model of disability when I was 17, it allowed me to make a distinction between the limitations of my body and the failings of society. In a nutshell, the social model tells us that we are far more disabled by inaccessible environments and hostile attitudes than we are by our physicality. My disability comes not from the fact that I’m unable to walk, but from the presence of the stairs. We are not wrong for the world we live in, the world we live in is not yet right for us, and we need to change it.

Eliza Cussen at Ramp Up (ABC) writes, “Something a little more comfortable“:

Online dating instantly expands your options. In many cases, it allows people with disability to go ‘under cover’ and reveal their disability to people on their own terms. But it also means opening yourself up to the scrutiny of the internet, which, as we well know, can be an unfriendly place.

“The beauty of online communication is that if you don’t tell them, the person on the other end of the line has no idea that you’re in a wheelchair, and therefore they treat you as a ‘normal’ person. I crave normality,” wrote my friend Holly.

I’d wager anyone who’s spent more than 20 seconds on a dating site will have worked out a filtering system for potential suitors. On OkCupid I would only respond to men who messaged me using full sentences. Those who introduced themselves with “Heeeeeeeeeeey” were let straight through to the keeper. Holly would avoid everyone who said they were fun-loving because she doesn’t enjoy redundant statements. (Who doesn’t love fun?)

Feminism & Sexism

Jo at A Life Unexamined writes, “Not Being Sexist Isn’t That Difficult“:

One of the reasons I was drawn to Dreamfall in the first place was because it had a cast of characters dominated by females: something of a rarity in the gaming industry. The primary protagonist (bear with the tautology) and the secondary protagonist are both female and well-written, complex characters. A large portion – probably the majority – of the supporting cast are also female, and women are portrayed in all sorts of positions and stages in life. The racial diversity is pretty good as well – though the game does fall short on its range of body types and shapes.

All this was quite pleasing while I was playing, but it wasn’t until three quarters through the game that I really noticed what I was enjoying the most: the lack of that casual sexism and misogyny that worms its way into so many games. Because three quarters through the game, you suddenly gain a sidekick: the obnoxious sexist sidekick, in the form of a talking crow. And then I realised how much I had been enjoying the lack of that character earlier in the game.

Celeste Liddle writes at Rantings of an Aboriginal Feminist, “Aboriginal Feminism – So what does this entail?“:

Due to the process of colonisation, what effects white women generally affects black women, however due to the intersection of race, black women face unique battles as well. Back when the women’s movement was fighting to access to safe and effective contraception and legal abortion in this country, Aboriginal women were additionally fighting for the right to keep their children in the face of the legislation that led to the Stolen Generations. White women were fighting for economic independence separate from men (eg: so they were not forced to be married to have security) and the right to equal pay while black women were also fighting to be paid for their labour in the first place.

Georgina Dent writes at Women’s Agenda, “Can anyone afford not to work?“:

In theory we might support the idea of women working and having a family but the reality isn’t quite so encouraging. Australia women are stuck in the middle – waging a logistical war between wanting a career and a family. The fact our female workforce participation rate lags the rest of the world, and is slipping, confirms it.

Shonias writes at Hoyden About Town, “Cloaking device“:

The moment I arrived, unbeknownst to me, my cloaking device had been deployed. I stood waiting to register, and when a position was free, the bloke on it gestured to the man who had arrived after me. I just wasn’t there. Some women could see through it – the woman on the merchandise stand remarked on my unlikely existence. However, a woman I approached at a cocktail meet and greet looked straight through me and turned to a man at her left.

tigtog writes at Hoyden About Town, “SIgnal Boosting: Surly Amy’s Skeptic and Atheist Do Better Challenge“:

Amy’s tapping into something fundamental about human nature here: most of us want what we do in the world to matter to others as well as ourselves, to make some sort of difference to people other than ourselves, to leave some sort of legacy that others will recognise and value after we die.  Religions all provide some sort of framework within which people can find projects to join which fulfil this desire alongside fellowship with likeminded others who will honour their passing, as part of a community of shared values which recognises efforts and accomplishments beyond the commercial/careerist/competitive world of earning their livelihoods.

Andie Fox (bluemilk) writes at Daily Life, “Natalie Barr doesn’t speak for all women“:

Reading this you feel defensive, naturally. Your life hasn’t been exactly like these success stories. It is tempting then to continue this conversation of individualism and to describe the specifics of your own life as counter-argument. But unless we’re very thoughtful about it, this kind of discussion tends to be dominated by a lot of very similar voices (ie. those with access to the media), tends to over-generalise, and tends to limit definitions of sexism to intentional acts by one person against another. This capacity to recognise sexism rarely and only on an individual level means we seek to fix sexism simply by shaming offenders. Preferably in public. Sexism is therefore corrected by correcting the individual.

Clementine Ford writes, “Can we stop being delicate about cunts?“:

And look, they may sound crude but they have a place in a lexicon that quite comfortably embraces labels like ‘cocksucker’, ‘dickhead’, ‘dickbrain’ (as favoured on-air for many years by former 5AA radio talkback host Bob Francis) and even ‘asshole’. The fact is, much of modern English has been influenced by writers like William Shakespeare and Geoffrey Chaucer (the latter of whom was fond of a bit of ‘queynte’ in his writings). Humanity loves a good dirty joke or double entendre. Show me a clever writer with a dirty mouth and I’ll show you a cunning stunt. As Lauren Davidson writes here, “It really does seem only fair that if Shakespeare, Geoffrey Chaucer, James Joyce and D.H. Lawrence — a bunch of old white men — could use it rather joyfully, why shouldn’t we?”

Violence *Trigger Warnings for posts in this section*

Louise Taylor at intersectionalitytimes writes, “Domestic Violence against Indigenous Women is Everybody’s Problem“:

On any available statistical analysis Indigenous women are significantly more likely to be a victim of family violence. To be hospitalised because of it. To die as a result of it. Some would argue to have their children removed because of it. Ridiculously Indigenous women appear more likely to be criminalised themselves for their engagement with the systems charged with protecting them when they report family violence.

Claire Shove writes at Sextracurricular Studies, “Art Against Female Genital Mutilation

Claire Shove also writes, “YouTube, Tumblr, and Ethical Responsibility in Celebrity-Fan Relationships“:

And so it continues. As of yet, none of the people accused or anyone from NerdFighteria has addressed any of this in a video, and so the main forum for discussion is still Tumblr. I’m hopeful that this discussion will move onto YouTube soon as well. Partly because the people who are responsible for these actions should be a part of the discussion, and partly because Tumblr has now been definitively proven to be an unsuitable place for sensible discussions of abuse, and for survivors to seek support. This should come as a surprise to no one, given that it is the residence of the most intensely devoted fans of these YouTubers. Having said that, I’m glad in a way that this has all started on Tumblr, because the most intensely devoted fans are also the people vulnerable to coercion and abuse.

Clementine Ford writes, “There’s no such thing as rape culture“:

I always thought my commitment to challenging rape culture was due to me caring deeply about the fact we live in a sexually aggressive, oppressive world that forces women to bear responsibility for our own rape prevention while casting men as primal creatures so easily overcome by the sight of exposed flesh that they can’t help but force themselves onto women (despite complaining about how feminists always paint them as rapists).

Eliza Cussen writes at Women’s Agenda, “How my work saw me threatened with rape online“:

As a Crikey reader recently said, a ‘troll’ is someone who posts on a Star Wars forum that Star Trek is better. Still, I think the word troll can be applied here. This form of abuse is being done by people who think a woman’s safety is no more important than the fictional struggle against the Galactic Empire. It is done by people who think of women only in the abstract, individuals who merely exist on screen.

Aaminah Khan writes at Days Like Crazy Paving, “[TW: child abuse] Cry of the Tiger Cub – or: I Grew Up with a Tiger Parent and All I Got was This Lousy Psychological Trauma

Related Posts:

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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