12 December, 2010

I have moved...

...to WordPress! Don't worry, I've imported all my posts and comments.

You can see my serious stuff at:
http://morethansides.wordpress.com
and my frivolous stuff at:
http://ancientstring.wordpress.com

I'll be closing off all comments here, so please go to the new sites and check them out. I'm still tweeting the settings, and would love to know what you think.

- Pharaoh Signing Off

07 December, 2010

Transgender Child Awareness Week

Go read this post by Arwen at Raising My Boychick. Just do it.

And then read this response by Queen Emily at Questioning Transphobia.

The Mayor of Portland has declared December 5th to 11th to be Transgender Child Awareness Week.

You might think that because that's America it doesn't apply to you, but trust me, it does. Every child you meet is potentially trans. Every child you meet is potentially being told they should be something that they are not. This is cruel. I know, I know, most people don't care. Most people see a penis and think "boy", see a vulva and think "girl". Most of the time, they're right, but for every child they get it wrong for, the pain can be horrible.

The only ethical thing to do, then, is to tell your children right now that you will love them if they are not the gender you thought they were. To tell your children right now that they are not confined by their genitals.

Please support this week, and support your children. Go to TransActive for more information on what you can do.


- Pharaoh Signing Off

05 December, 2010

Supporting Captain Clinch and Why Pronouns Matter

READ BELOW FOR IMPORTANT UPDATE

I recently read an article at Hoyden About Town about Captain Bridget Clinch, a trans woman who has fought, and won, the right for trans people to serve openly in the Australian military. (In Support of Captain Bridget Clinch)

Her fight was hard, and not yet won. She has finally earned the right to serve as a woman, the right to live as her actual gender, and this is a huge victory. But it is not a victory without cost.
In order to transition, she will be forced to divorce her wife, a woman she loves, a woman who loves her. I cannot imagine how much that must hurt.

She is also still being misgendered by journalists, reminding us all that tran* people are still seen as wrong, as deluded. A classic example of this is a Sydney Morning Herald article My Body's A War Zone And I Will Not Retreat (warning for misgendering at this link).
So long as this happens, trans* people will continue to be hurt, abused, raped, murdered.

I have written an email to the SMH, asking them to change the article. I would urge you all to do the same. Captain Clinch's fight is not over. It may seem like a small gesture, and it is. A teaspoon trying to empty an ocean of hatred and trasphobia.

But just as small injustices tear us down, so do small acts help build us up.

The address to send mail to is readerlink@SMH.com.au. A copy of my email follows.

Use this thread as an open thread, talking about ways to support trans people, especially in Australia, but also around the world.


Dear Sydney Morning Herald,

I read with disappointment the article written by Maris Beck titled "My body's a war zone and I will not retreat" (address: http://www.smh.com.au/national/my-bodys-a-war-zone-and-i-will-not-retreat-20101204-18krq.html).

It is not the subject of the article that disappoints me, but the way in which the article is written. Captain Bridget Clinch is frequently referred to as male, and male pronouns are used for her throughout the piece. This is incorrect. As a woman, Captain Clinch should be referred to using female pronouns.

Using the correct pronouns is a matter of respect for trans* people. To do otherwise, to misgendered someone, robs them of their identity and brands them as delusional, wrong.

Trans* people face extremely high levels of violence, higher than the majority of the population. Although misgendering someone does not directly cause trans* people to be beaten, murdered or abused, it contributes to the culture where this sort of behaviour is ok, even acceptable.

You can read about some of the atrocious acts committed against trans people here: http://hoydenabouttown.com/20101120.9012/transgender-day-of-remembrance-living-with-the-threat/

This is a human rights issue. For an easy-to-follow guide on how reporters can get it right, and why they should, pleased read this page: http://humanrights.change.org/blog/view/reporters_how_to_get_it_right_on_transgender_issues

I hope you take this advice to heart, and change the pronouns used in this article.

Sincerely,

[my real name]


IMPORTANT UPDATE!
I received an email today from the SMH. Ill just copy it wholesale for you:
Dear [real name],

Recently you contacted ReaderLink. The following outlines The Herald's response:

Thank you for your email. Fairfax Media values reader feedback. The editors of The Sun-Herald have requested that we thank you for bring your views to our attention they have also asked we forward the following message:
'we have changed the gender pronoun references in both the story online and in the archives. We very much appreciate your feedback. We have also instructed our journalists to consult http://humanrights.change.org/blog/view/reporters_how_to_get_it_right_on_transgender_issues before writing about the issues in future

Your interest in Herald Publications is appreciated and has provided us with valuable feedback.
Please quote 00158861 if you wish to contact ReaderLink again.

Regards,
Ben & Peter


Isn't this fantastic news? Not only did they listen, but they are also passing the link on to other journalists, so they can u the correct pronouns in the future.

I've also received a comment from Tammy, Captain Bridget Clinch's wife. I'll let you read it :)

Thank you for reading, Tammy :)

- Pharaoh Signing Off

30 November, 2010

Transphobic Feminists Aren't My Sisters

Via Lucy: Your Turn by polerin.
Transphobic feminists, justify yourselves.

As a cis feminist, it is my duty to stand up against transphobia.

Because my existence as a woman is not called into question.
Because I don't have to deal.
Because I can walk away.

This is what it means to have privilege.

So I will say this now: Trans women are my sisters, transphobic feminists are not.


- Pharaoh Signing Off

20 November, 2010

I Hate My Hair Sometimes

TRIGGER WARNING this post deals with street harassment and assault.

I have blue hair. Some of you already know this. It has been, in the past, blue, purple, purple and turquoise (x2), black, red, orange (when the red faded) and green.

I love having coloured hair. The first thing I did when I stopped working at a job where I had to have Natural Hair Colour was dye my hair purple and turquoise. I couldn't wait.
(actually, I could. I waited a while to save up for the dye and find a time when I was free and so was my hairdresser friend, but that's beside the point).

My kids love my hair. When I get a new hair colour, they stare at it and poke and pull and play. They have such fun. When I'm getting a new colour, I let everyone know, and they spend the next fortnight guessing. Kids and parents and staff, all wondering what I'm going to do this time.

But not everything about my hair is nice and bubbly. I have had stares, rude comments, been called strange names (fruit tingle? What the fuck?), been asked questions (is that real?), had ridiculous comments (your hair is blue! No, really?).

And twice, I have been assaulted.

The first time was when I had my hair purple and turquoise for the second time. I was walking to the train station with my little sister when a group of people surrounded me.
They encircled me so i couldn't escape. They started making comments about my hair.
They started pulling at my hair.

They. Pulled. My. Hair.

I screamed and swiped at them and yelled. They thought this was hilarious and started laughing.

I ran, shaking. I shook the whole train ride home. I tweeted about it, used the word fuck a lot.

The second time was yesterday. Friday, 11th November 2010.

I was waiting for the train after work when a drunk person got to the station. He didn't do anything to me, just made me uncomfortable, so I decided to take the train going in the opposite direction and then stay on it heading back. Then I'd be away from him.

I got on the train, didn't think much about where I was sitting. Same spot I always sit.

There were three people. Two were next to me, one was across from me. They tried to talk to me. Given I had a bad day. And am generally antisocial, I ignored them. After all, they don't have the right to my attention.
Apparently they didn't agree.

The one next to me tapped me on the arm. I looked over.
"Is that a wig?" asked the person two seats down from me.
"No," I replied, and tugged at my hair to prove it.
Then the person next to me started pulling at my hair. I was shocked and creeped out, and smacked his hand away.

The person two seats down from me then said "I'd marry ya for that hair."
The person across from me shook hir head. "Nah, rape ya."
The person two seats down said "Yeah, I'd rape ya for that hair."
The person across from me nodded. The three of them laughed. They might have said more, but I was too in shock at this point.

Luckily they got off the train just after this incident. I sat, shocked, for a few seconds. I'm not sure how long. Then I got up and moved cars, I'm not really sure why. To make it less of a walk when I got off the train, I think.

I called LM, no answer. I called Kat, no answer. I called Matt and explained it to him. He was worried for my safety. Kat called me back, I explained to her too.

I posted it on twitter, got advice from people. I made LM promise to meet me at the comic store as soon as I got to Perth. A friend walked me there from Shafto Lane, because even those few steps were too much for me to handle.

By the time I got to LM I had no energy left. I just cried on His shoulder. I told him about what had happened.

I called the police, told them about it. They told me to make a report, which I'm doing tomorrow (station was busy last night).
I wrote down all the details in a timeline, including descriptions of the people who assaulted me.

I am terrified of riding on trains. I'm going to get pepper spray.

This should not have happened.

ETA: I have made a police report. The officer I spoke to was very nice, and told me that they had absolutely no right to act as they did, and not to let anyone tell me otherwise. He also said that they couldn't do anything about the language they used, because it was common, but they could get them for touching me. Also, because my hair is blue it will be easier to find them on the camera, because I'll stand out.
I guess I shouldn't cut my hair off after all :)

20 October, 2010

They learn so fast.

These aree all things I've heard spoken in the Kindy room at my centre. Not by the staff, by the children.

In a teasing voice: "S is a girl! He's a little girl!"

"I'm not a girl, I don't have long hair!"

"I don't want that, that's a girls' toy!"

"Eew, he's got the girls' one!"

"I don't wanna pick up the girls' basket!"

"You're not a woman, you're a girl!"

"Only boys are aloud to pplay with his!"

"I only want boys playing with me."

Yeah, I know. My toddlers don't do this.

Also, what's with all the push back (from adults) when I give a presumed male child pink sheets? They're just sheets for crying out loud!

12 October, 2010

Let The Right One In / Let Me In

On Sunday night I saw Let The Right One In. On Monday night I saw Let Me In. This will be a review and comparison of both films, and will contain spoilers, so beware.

Plot
The basic plot of both films is the same. A boy, Oscar (or Owen in the American version) is being bullied at school and dreams about fighting back with a knife. Then a strange, new girl, Eli (Abby in the American version) moves in next to him.
The two become friends, and eventually "go steady" (which seems to be the same relationship as before, plus a couple of kisses). She tells him to fight back giants the bullies. He shows her some games and his secret hideout in the basement.

In the meantime, police are looking for a serial killer who drains is victims. One of the victims was in the same school as Oscar/Owen.

So Oscar/Owen fights back against the bullies by hitting one in the head with a stick. Eli/Abby is a vampire, but Oscar/Owen still likes her, once overcoming his initial fear. It was her "father" doing the killings, to get her blood. But he gets caught, burns his face with acid, then Eli/Abby pushes him out of a window. The bully's big brother attacks Oscar/Owen, but Eli/Abby saves him. The two travel off together on a train, running away from everything.

The plot is fairly slow moving, but interesting enough that I was kept intrigued. Even with my short attention span. It wasn't the typical vampire story in that the vampire aspect was almost a side track. It was really about Oscar/Owen living with a family that's falling apart and learning to stand up for himself.

Differernces and Similarities
As far as similarities go: the entire plot. They were more or less the same, sometimes shot for shot.

Differences were more intriguing. I'm going to do this bit from the point of view of the American one being different, because it was second.
  • The American movie starts from a different place: the "father" being taken to hospital, then falling to his death. Then it goes back to the beginning and starts it all over again,
  • Eli/Abby is shown as obviously different right from the start in the American version, with long closeups of her shoeless feet. These continued right through the film, just in case you missed it the first three times.
  • Eli/Abby and Oscar/Owen's first meeting I'd different. In the original, she leads the conversation, telling him she lives next door. In the American version, the roles are reversed.
  • The American version has Random Acts of Patriotism, so you know it's American. Oscar/Oween's class say The Pledge of Alliegance, and there are random close-ups of money.
  • Oscar/Owen's father is absent in the American version, only talking on the phone, where it is implied he has a new girlfriend, Cindy. In the original, Oscar/Owen visits his father, and it is implied that he is gay.
  • Instead of the bullies saying "Squeal like a pig" they say "You're a little girl". This leads to something I'll talk about in a second.
  • The bully is more sympathetic in the American version. He is beaten and bullied by his older brother. In the other version, his brother play fights him but they get along.
  • In the original, Eli/Abby barks like a dog, but otherwise remains unchanged in vampire state. In the American version, her eyes change and her voice gets deeper.
  • There is a link made with "pure evil" and satanism made in the American version. I found this odd, as if it was tacked on as an afterthought.
Scream Like A Girl: Possible Trigger Warning!!This change actually mad me really uncomfortable. Right at the beginning of the film, we're treated to Oscar/Owen wearing a plastic mask and holding a knife, talking into a mirror.He says: "Are you a little girl? You're a little girl aren't you? Scream for me little girl!". He then makes stabbing motions with the knife. I found this scene horrible. It lacks context, and feels like a gratuitous piece of misogyny. I can cringe but get the bits where the bullies call Oscar/Owen a little girl, because it's something bullies would do, but at the beginning of the film, and without context, it's creepy. Women are taught to fear men in masks holding knives. We're constantly told not to go put alone at night in case one of these men comes for us. This scene cut a little too close to home I felt. Final ThoughtsThe films are pretty good, having a different take on the classic vampire genre. I like the way the monster vampire is in the body of such an innocent looking little girl.
You never see Oscar/Owen's mother's face. I thought this was an interesting effect, and it showed just how separated the two had become.
It was a bit bloody at times, and I had to cover my eyes a lot (I don't do well with blood). It wasn't scary, but it was incredibly creepy.
Doesn't pass Bechdel.

Worth watching, but if you've seen one there's no need to see the other.

07 October, 2010

15 things which make me happy

Inspired by this thread. I didn't want to leave too long a comment :P

1. My partner, especially when He calls other people out on their fail, not to please me, but because it pisses Him off too.
2. Snuggles.
3. Walking into a room and having four children run up and want cuddles because they're so excited to see me.
4. Ranting about the mental health system at work, and how broken it is, and being taken seriously.
5. Being called awesome by someone on twitter.
6. Outing myself as pan and not having anyone shame me for it.
7. My kitten, being a cutie and making me late for work.
8. Riding the train with a coworker so we aren't as afraid. My boss making this happen because she recognised our fear as real and legitimate.
9. Finishing an assignment.
10. Planning my upcoming wedding to my friend and soul-mate, who is not my partner. Buying matching caduceuses to represent our love and connection.
11. Caterpillars.
12. Watching Huge.
13. Feeding a baby. Having them fall asleep in my arms.
14. Finding new blogs to add to my RSS feed.
15. Being loved for who I am, not who something thinks I should be.

04 October, 2010

On Sticks And Stones

Trigger Warning for discussions of suicide, self harm, bullying and depression.

I wanted to finish my post about euthanasia, but this became to great a weight on my soul. You may have heard about the recent epidemic of suicides; QuILTBAG youth taking their lives because of bullying.
I won't list them, because I can't. But Click Here for more information. Trigger warning for that link.

What that post reminded me of, what this epidemic reminds me of, is my own history with bullying.

When I was ten, I witnessed my older brother being taunted and shoved by bullies. He was a little guy back then, and very close friends with another boy. They accused him of being gay and made his life Hell. My parents heard about it, and had talked to the school. The principle assured them he would "keep an eye on it".

One afternoon, while waiting for our dad to pick us up, a bully shoved him down and started tormenting him. My father arrived in time to see this. He was furious. He grabbed the bully and took ohm to the principle's office, telling hm everything that happened. The principle said he would deal with it.
Both boys were taken out of class, and asked why they were "fighting". Nothing was done to stop future attacks.

When I was thirteen, my youngest brother was being bullied. I have written about this previously. After he was shoved into a urinal, I went to speak to his teacher. She told me that it was his fault for having an Autistic Spectrum Disorder. That he brought it on himself by being "weird".

I was bullied a lot growing up. Mostly it was just name and shunning, and I tell you it hurt. It hurts to be told day after day after day that you aren't worthy of love. And always the same old adage would be thrown at me, sticks and stones, sticks and stones, sticks and stones. It wasn't taken seriously by anyone, teachers, my parents, no one.

So after all this, when I started being beaten up by my "friends" at fourteen, what do you think i did? Did I tell people about it, or did I shut up and take it, thinking I deserved everything they were doing to me?

When you do nothing, when you know of violence and just stay silent, you perpetuate that violence. It's not enough to tell victims to speak up, you have to be willing to listen and to act.

This recent set of suicides is not the first; children have been taking their own lives, cutting themselves, hurting themselves, and it's about damn time that was recognised.

03 September, 2010

Guest Post: How Gender Roles Hurt Men

This is a guest post written by my younger brother Adam. It was originally an oral presentation for a speech contest at his school. The writing, as you'll see, reflects that.

I want to point out that this is not a chance for you to tear him apart because "women have it worse". He understands that gender discrimination has it's roots in misogyny, he gets that. This is a chance for him, a man, to talk about the issues that affect him. Please respect that. This post will be heavily moderated accordingly.
 


Discrimination Against Men - How Gender Roles are Killing Society
 
Introduction
The issue of discrimination against men is not something you hear in typical conversation. People don't see it as an issue, it's rarely brought up, and people are more likely to discuss even more controversial issues, such as abortion or rape. But I'm sure many of you here can agree that it does exist. Even if it's not all of you. Whether it's a serious problem, however, is what I will ask of you today. But first, let's look at only a few areas where it exists.
 
Violence
Who do you think is the perpetrator of violence? I'm sure all of you will say men. In fact, you'd be right in 86% of cases. I'm not trying to argue that women are as violent as men. But then ask yourself, who are the victims of violence? Women? Children? Most of the time, a man is the victim of violence. In Australia, there is more suicide, homicide, and abuse targeted at men than women. A clear example of discrimination here is the perception of violence against women. Imagine this scenario:
 
A man goes and beats a woman. Now this in almost everybody's mind is wrong. The man is a woman basher, so he's shunned from society without a candle to his name. Now imagine a woman beating up a man. What's society's response to the man now? Yet again, he's shunned. He's seen as weak and should be ashamed of being beaten by a girl. So in cases of violence, men can never win. Either it's "dude, you just got beat up by a girl!", or "dude, you just beat up a girl..."
 
Gender Roles
Why is this? Because of perceived gender roles. In cases of violence, men are always the perpetrators, never the victims. From a young age, we have been instilled with beliefs about males and females. Fighting with males is "boys just being boys", and is actually encouraged as a form of play. Men are supposed to be strong and handle all forms of abuse. So if they do get abused, they get told to toughen up, or be shamed if they can't do so. But fighting with girls is "woman bashing", no matter what the circumstances.
 
It is not true that a person cannot defend themselves simply because they are female. And it is not true that any man who won't fight is weak, and should be ashamed. Violence is no different if the victim is a man or a woman. Their strength should be considered, but their gender does not in any way determine their strength. And the impact of that violence is what should be considered most of all in any case of violence. Not the gender, not the social stigma surrounding it, but the impact the violence has on the victim and everyone else.
 
Childcare
Probably the largest form of male discrimination occurs in childcare. Men find it difficult to pursue jobs involving children, as that's seen as "women's work". To do so would suggest some ulterior motive. For example, a man going for a position in a primary school is likely to be accused of paedophilia.
 
It is incredibly difficult for men to get time off to take care of their children, as there is a shocking lack of support for men who stay at home to look after the children. Furthermore, Centrelink is incredibly reluctant to provide any support and care for fathers who try to stay home while the mothers work.
 
Another issue is the victimisation of men in divorce courts. Mothers get primary or sole custody of children in 60% of cases. In only 15% of cases does primary or sole custody go to the fathers. By default, single mothers get sole custody in 100% of cases unless a court rules otherwise. Fathers are discouraged from even trying to get custody of children, because they rarely win. If he tries, he will have a 60% chance of being accused of child sexual abuse as a fear tactic by the mother. For those who succeed, 30% of the time it is learned that they aren't the biological father of one of the kids.
 
Even if he gets custody, he could still be accused of domestic violence or child abuse in the last 12 months, at which point he has to prove himself innocent to continue getting custody of the children. And even if he was proved innocent, but was found to have retaliated in self defence, he still can't get custody because it's still considered domestic violence against the mother. Honestly, how could you say there is no gender discrimination in divorce courts?
 
Gender Roles
Women in society are typically seen as carers. This is a dangerous stereotype. Misconceptions are common about this, such as woman are naturally better carers than men. This is false and leads to serious issues with discrimination. Fathers who stay at home develop the same bond with the child that women who stay at home do. In fact, fathers are capable of equally bonding with their children, even if they're not with them as often. No parent immediately knows how to care for their children. It is something provided through education, for both mothers and fathers.
 
There is also the controversial issue of "motherly instinct". This means that women are naturally better at child rearing because they gave birth to them. Yes, having a child for a nine month pregnancy does form a special bond with the child. However, that does not mean they're naturally better suited for the role of primary parent and caregiver. Finally, there's the myth that men can't do what women can do for kids. The only things a man can't do are give birth, and be a female role model. But there are others who can be a role model.
 
What can we do about it?
Gender discrimination comes from the same place, whether it's against males or females. It is not one-sided. I wouldn't even say they're two separate issues! Discrimination is just as wrong whether it's against a man as opposed to whether it's against a woman. It's not a matter of who the victim is, but why there is discrimination. That is, the gender roles placed on society. Stereotypical views of men and women are what cause this type of discrimination.
 
When people stray from these stereotypes, they go through a lot of trouble. Men go through this trouble because feminine traits are seen as negative qualities. So both men and women are harmed by this. And both men and women need to be involved in combating the issue of discrimination, as voices from both members need to be heard. We all need to work together to reduce the damaging gender stereotypes in society. 
 
Here's a riddle for you. What's the difference between a man and a woman? It depends on the individual. There is no stereotype about men or women that is true in 100% of cases. To deny a person equal rights based on their gender is discrimination. If more men have the capacity to be engineers, should all women be seen as incapable of becoming engineers? If more women are better at raising children, should all men be seen as incapable of child rearing?
 
And raising children with certain beliefs about men and women actually affects who they are. Yes, their brains are somewhat "pre-wired" depending on their gender and individual personality, but they are also incredibly suggestive. Treating children differently actually causes physical differences in the brain. If you tell a boy at an early age that all men are violent, and fighting amongst boys is condoned, then they will become violent individuals.
 
So fight to reduce discrimination against gender now, and raise your kids without the need for stereotypes in the future. Thank you.

24 August, 2010

Dear Doctor: Actually, I *am* sick

I have read a lot of horror stories about doctors, and it is certainly not something I am unfamiliar with. I want to share with you some of the things doctors have said and done to me during my life.

My health problems started when I was young. I had trouble running, and was prone to dizzy spells, nose bleeds, and shortness of breath. The first doctor I saw was a friend of the family. He checked my blood pressure, listened to my heart, then declared me healthy. His reason? "You're young and thin, there's nothing wrong."

After coming close to passing out during a school fun-run (which was not fun. I hated it, and was forced to participate). I went to see another doctor. After the preliminary examination (same deal as last time) she asked me to strip and stand on the scale.

I have to say, I was mortified. I was an 11 year old girl with a lot of body shame (thanks Mum!), and the idea of stripping in front of a doctor was, well, scary. She frowned an my non-compliance, and asked me about my diet. I told her the truth: I was currently vegetarian because I didn't like meat (actually, I was copying Lisa Simpson). She frowned again, and gave me the "concerned doctor" look.

"Are you sure that's why you're vegetarian?"
"Yeah, why?"
"Are you comfortable with your weight?"
"I dunno, should I be?"
"Do you think you're fat?"

Well, I was stunned. I mean, talk about unprofessional! Let's completely ignore the actual health concerns in exchange for shaming a young girl. Classy. And let's not forget the fact that, were I suffering from an eating disorder, this is not the way to broach the subject. I left that appointment feeling shamed and humiliated, and with no answers.

I was fourteen the next time I sought the help of a professional. I still got sick regularly, which the doctors declared allergies, but I was seeking help for my mental health. I was in a pretty bad place, and wanted - needed - help.
The response I received was... Heartless. "What have you got to be upset about? You're thin and beautiful!".
Any wonder why it took years for me to finally get help for my depression?

I have asthma, low blood pressure, low iron, bi-polar. But doctors decided to ignore all of that because I didn't fit the "typical" image they had of a sick person.

I don't know about you, but i call bullshit.

04 August, 2010

Almost Wordless Wednesday: Kitty Litter Catastrophe




And orangey-peach tiled floor with kitty litter spilled in a big pile. At the top of the photo a green and white checked table cloth can be seen, as well as a green bottle of disinfectant. On the right side of the photo is a black mat. A blurry grey kitten head is shown on the left.

31 July, 2010

Restaurant Review: Garcia's Mexican

Last night I went to Garcia's Mexican with LM and Moba. It's a decent place, nice atmosphere. Staff are friendly, food is tasty and not over priced.

Food: the food is, surprise surprise, Mexican. Prices for mains are between $19 and $27. The portion sizes are quite large.
Flavour? I was feeling sick, so I just got a salad and rice. The salad was covered with cheese and wholegrain mustard, and some sort of dressing, which I really didn't enjoy. The flavour was too strong for me.
LM got a chimichunga. Well, it was advertised as a chimichunga, but really it was just a very big burrito. He said it was tasty though, despite not being authentic. Moba enjoyed her taco too.

Kids' Menu: There is a children's menu, but that doesn't mean it's kid friendly. I don't think they would object to kids, but there's not any entertainment for them so they might be bored (obviously you know your own kids though, so you know what keeps them occupied). The kids menu is a little plain. Chips and chicken nuggets, OR chicken or beef enchilada, OR chicken or beef taco, AND a dessert (ice-cream or jelly). Not exactly expansive. But the "Entrees" are just small dishes, so that's another option.

Vegetarian Options: BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Yeah, there's a "vegetarian" menu with exactly two dishes on it. And one of them can be stuffed with chili con caƱe, so... No. If you're eating with vegan or vegetarian friends, or are vegetarian or vegan yourself, not the place to go.

Accessibility: No steps! Big plus. However, the tables are very close together, not much room to manoeuvre a scooter or wheelchair. From the door, there is about a one-inch drop to the floor. The curb cuts outside are a fair distance from the door as well, but there is a very wide bay near the curb cut. The chairs are hard backed and have no arms.
The menu has large font with good contrast, black on white. The lights are not overly bright, but there is globe above the tables so you can read the menu. The place is fairly loud, but not overly echoey (yay for sound dispersing fabrics!).
The counter for reservations and to pay was very high though. It was high for me, a standing person, I can't imagine trying to see over it if i was in a chair, or even shorter than I am.

Service: The staff were friendly and did what they could to make sure we were happy. But it was fairly hard to get their attention when we needed something, like more water or the dessert menu.

Dessert: YUMMY! I got sorbet and LM got mud cake and it was noms.

I'm not going to give a rating - I don't do that. I enjoyed it, but your needs might be different. But if there's anything else you want to know about the place, just ask.

28 July, 2010

Almost Wordless Wednesday: Spider Pie


A round grey pie dish on a grey bench. Inside the dish is a home made, unbaked apple pie. The dough on the top has been arranged as a spider web. A piece of dough covered in cinnamon is shaped like a big spider, a much smaller piece, also covered in cinnamon, is shaped like a fly.

27 July, 2010

Women in Comics: Getting It Right - Batwoman: Elegy

I have spoken before about how comic-art is often sexified, as in "The Pose".
I have spoken before about the horrible treatment of women in the X-Men films.

But today I want to do something different. Today I want to talk about women in comics done powerful, done interesting, and most importantly done well!

I was once again sucked into DC world when Quality Keith recommended Batwoman: Elegy1 to me. After reading through the first few pages I couldn't resist and bought the hardcover.

Let me start with the art.

The artist for this comic is J H Williams III, the same artist for the Promethea series. Already he gets a plus in my books.
Aside from some really beautiful backgrounds and surrealist covers, one of the things I immediately noticed was that Batwoman wasn't sexualised! Yes, there are a couple of shots where you get some nipple-suit action a la Batman and Robin, but she is clearly not drawn for sexual appeal. Yes she is sexy, but that's not Herr reason for being there.

Her proportions are well done. Her outfit is practical. Her action shots, and there are quite a few, are not artistically designed to give the best view of her arse without any practical benefits. She actually kicks arse and is shown kicking arse! You would not believe how happy this makes me!
J H Williams III, you get two big thumbs up from me!

Now onto the plot. I'll try not to reveal anything for those who haven't read it yet.

Batwoman: Elegy is written by Greg Rucka. I hadn't actually heard of him before picking up this book, but now I'm gonna start searching. This book is well structured, well placed, and just fucking fantastic. I was hooked from the second I picked it up. After reading a few comics where I felt "Good, but meh" this was a welcome change.

Batwoman, Kate Kane, is the star of this show. She is saved once by a man, but this is not because he is stronger than her or because she is inherently weak. She is a very well fleshed out character. Her motivations make sense, she is deeply layered, she isn't just a cardboard cutout out there to please the men.

Oh, and she's a lesbian.

The villain of this story is also a woman. A strong woman who is in charge of a group. She has a frightening presence that gave me chills.
And seriously, seeing two well-fleshed, well done women kicking arse was such a delight.

If you haven't already, get your hands on a copy of Batwoman: Elegy. If this review doesn't convince you, then the introduction written by Rachel Maddow might nudge you in the right direction ;-)

I know I'm generally a Marvel woman, but I will venture to DC again and again and again if I can get more of this :D


1. My spellcheck recognises Batman but not Batwoman. #patriarchywhatpatriatchy

22 July, 2010

Rage Blogging: Shut Up BB

This is the first in a series of me talking about things that make me angry. Warning for this series, it will often include violent imagery.

This post is less rage, and more angrily annoyed.
BB refers to the qualified caregiver in my room.

Today BB was being really fucking annoying. It's not much, just the little comments. The ones that go on and on and on and on and just leave me wanting to smash her against a wall. It started with the tape.

She has some silver duct tape in our room. It has Toddlers written on it. BB bought this tape, but there was no indication of this on the tape. It just said toddlers. J used the tape. J is not in the toddler room, she is in the baby room. She was told to get the tape specifically from the toddler draw, so she did.

First BB went off at J. She told her off, said it was her tape, and she shouldn't be using it. Can't she see it says toddlers? J apologised, said she was told to get that tape, that she hadn't used much, but she's sorry Nd wont do it again.

That wasn't good enough for BB. BB went on and on and on about it. Mostly this was directed at me. Being in the room, I'm the one she complains at. And boy did she complain! She was at it for a good hour and a half! And after lunch, when we were sitting with the toddlers trying to get them to sleep, she started up again!

Which brings me to my second point. Talking. In the sleep room. While I'm trying to get my toddlers to sleep. Come on! This has been brought up in staff meetings before, you constantly criticise the other women who do it, why the fuck are you talking to me?

The children are trying to sleep! No wonder it takes them a while with you rabbiting on constantly! And then you act hypocritical as well, and tell the toddlers off for talking! Look, it's a distraction. Stop. Seriously!

This concludes the session of rage blogging. We now return you to your regular programming.

21 July, 2010

Almost Wordless Wednesday: There's A Pumpkin On My Head



Me: a white woman with (in this photo) dark purple hair. I'm wearing a dark blue shirt, black jumper. The straps Fromm my backpack are visible on my shoulders.
On my head is an upside-down plush Halloween basket shaped like a smiling jack'o'lantern. It is orange with green arms and legs. The basket strap hangs down under my chin.

20 July, 2010

Picture Blogging: A Walk With AtariCat

This post is graphic heavy.

Note: Atari (often called AtariCat) is a small grey tortoiseshell cat. She has fairly long, fluffy fur. Her colouring is mostly light grey, with darker grey stripes and patches, as well as light brown patches. This works together to give a mottled effect. Her eyes are yellow.
In all these photos, she is wearing a black collar with two small bells and a green tag (the tag is actually a chip from an Atari). She has a pink lead attached to her collar.

I have a cat. Her name is Atari, because she acts like an old game on an Atari console (often running back and forth the house, for no perceived reason). Atari is an inside cat, but she likes to get out. Every week or two I take Atari for a walk, so she can experience the fresh air and new smells and have a bit of fun.

Here are some pictures I took during on of our walks.

Freedom at last!


AtariCat crouches on some dead leaves. A brick wall is behind her. Creeping along the ground and up the wall is a vine with big green leaves. She smells one.


I are jungle cat!


AtariCat's head can be seen, fuzzy with motion blur, between some ferns. The ground is dark soil with scattered dead leaves and twigs.


Is this a cave?


The ground is dark soil with scattered dead leaves and twigs. AtariCat is standing under a concrete slab (bottom of stairs) with a brick column next to her and a brick wall behind her. She is looking up and to the left of the photo.


Ooh, what's under here?


AtariCat has her back to the camera. She is crouching on the ground, which is covered in dead leaves. She is sticking her head into a patch of green vine leaves.


Even in the wilderness, my cunning discovery skills has found me a couch!


AtariCat sitting on the arm of a blue couch with floral patterns. A reflection of her and the couch can be seen in a window



Sand!


AtariCat lying on her side on a square-brick path. There is yellow sand on the path. One of her front paws is running her head. At the edge of the path is leaves and a limestone stone.

19 July, 2010

Things I Learned In Childcare

This list is a collection of things I picked up while working in the childcare industry. Some of these things I'm sure parents will have picked up too, others may be industry specific.
Just a bit of light-hearted fun :-)

  • Babies are loud. Very loud.
  • Sometimes babies are loud for no reason and no matter what you do, you can't calm them down.
  • And then someone else will come in, pick them up, and they'll be fine, leaving you feeling rather silly. Damn.
  • Toddlers are also loud, and often make a game of it.
  • Sometimes toddlers are loud because the other toddlers are loud and they want to be the loudest.
  • Maybe you should just invest in earplugs.
  • When it comes to books, songs, games, tyres no such thing as "Too much" in the mind of a child. Unless you want to do it, at which point the child is bored.
  • You have never finished the nappies of the day.
  • No matter how many times it happens, it still feels gross to be pooed on.
  • Expect snot by the bucketful.
  • This sort of work is really gross.
  • Red paint will not wash out.
  • There are some children who will not eat fruit, bread, vegetables, noodles, meat, chicken, eggs or soup.
  • They will, however, eat dirt, sand, snails and milipedes.
  • There is no "right" way for a child to develop.
  • But everyone will tell you that this child is developing the "wrong" way.
  • If you are a mother, no matter what you're doing, you're doing it wrong.
  • You will have a song stuck in your head for weeks. As soon as it leaves your head, a child will request it.
  • You will want to take photos to show your friends, and will be upset that you can't.
  • At the end of a long day, when you feel like shit and just want to cry, one of your kids will give you a hug. Nothing feels better.

24 June, 2010

And there was great rejoicing!

Australia has a female Prime Minister.

I'm going to repeat that because I'm still having trouble believing it.

Australia has a female Prime Minister!
The Honorary Julia Gillard became the first woman to hold the title of Prime Minister of Australia earlier today. She was sworn in by our first female Governer General.
I'm still having trouble believing that this actually happened!!

Today I am not listening to people who make sexist jokes at her expense. Today I'm not listening to people who say our country is now doomed. Today I'm not listening to people who say she not fit because she's childless, or atheist, or unmarried.
Because today I weep for joy.

I stuck her photo on the staff room cupboard with the words "Gillard Newe PM" cut out of the newspaper. I wrote a message on the whiteboard in my room so that everyone could see my joy. I bought cake and chocolates for my coworkers so we could celebrate together. Because I am so unbelievably happy right now.

I tried to explain it to one of our students. She wanted to know why this made me so happy; all my coworkers did. I looked at my room full of toddlers and babies. My room mostly filled with children presumed female.
And I said, these children are growing up in a world where a woman can be Prime Minister. It's not a dream, or a hope, it s a fact. That is the world these children are growing up in.

I couldn't keep the break out of my voice, or the tears from my eyes. Because today it became a reality.

Australia has a female Prime Minister!

And I can't help but weep with joy.

17 June, 2010

Creating an Equalist Playlist

Please suggest me songs!

This is just the start! More songs will be added as people suggest them. Yes, I am actually buying these songs and adding them to a playlist.

Jill Souble: I Kissed A Girl (lyrics)
Lily Allen: Fuck You (Lyrics)
Lily Allen: Knock Em Out (Lyrics. Warning for some ableist language in this song)
Lily Allen: The Fear (Lyrics)
No Doubt: Just A Girl (lyrics. There's a popup on this site)
They Might Be Giants: Your Racist Friend (Lyrics. Warning for some ableist language in this song)

My definition of Equalist can be found in my profile, visible at the side of this page.

10 June, 2010

When she was twenty-two...

MASSIVE TRIGGER WARNINGS!! Warning for talk of abuse, self harm, sexual assault...

And this is just the stuff i can remember.

"You're too young to be depressed."
"Why are you so sad, you've got your whole life ahead if you?"
"What could have possibly happened to make you this way? You're only..."
"You're too young to know what real suffering is like."
"You're too young..."

I've heard it all before. Since I was a child, people were telling me that I had no right to feel bad, no right to be depressed. After all, what could have possibly happened to me? I was only 6, 10, 13, 15, 17, 18, 22...

The earliest I remember feeling depressed is when I was six. I tried to explain it not my mum. I didn't have the words. I told her I felt sad, listless, like I couldn't care about anything. She said "You mean you don't care about God or Jesus or your family? That's a horrible thing to say!". Not horrible that a six year old would feel like that... That I was a horrible person, as if my inability to care about things meant I didn't love my family. Because that's how she interpreted it.

How was she to know I was depressed? I was only six. How was I to know? I don't even know why I felt that way, my memories are far too fuzzy. I only remember guilt, and shame, a fear of my bath, a fear of rape.

When I was ten, I was sexually abused by someone I trusted, an adult who was so much a part of the family that we called him "Uncle". A good, upstanding Christian man. He groomed me first. He bought me treats, and sweets, was kind to me, did anything I wanted. When he touched me, he made me believe that it was an accident, that it was my imagination. When he rubbed my back, he said it was just friendly, he was just helping. My mother scolded me, telling me I was never to let a man touch me like that again.

When he pulled my pants down, he made it seem like an accident. He was just playing. When he put his hand down my nickers and grabbed me, he grinned and apologized for being so rude.
He left me feeling, to this day, that the assault was my fault. That I had caused it. Didn't my mother warn me? Why did I let him do that? Did I make him do that?

When I was in school, I was subject to a never ending tirade of abuse. From shunning to insults to people who pretended to be my friend just to see me cry when they insulted me. It got to the point where I would rather die than have to face school again.
When I had "friends" who beat me up at fourteen, I thought, at least they're paying attention to me.
When I had "friends" who made clear how much they hated me at fifteen, I though, at least they arrant beating me up.

I was thirteen when i started hurting myself. I would tear out chunks of skin with my fingernails. I would heat up a spoon with boiling water then hold it to my skin until it burned, leaving huge blisters on my hand. I would punch walls with bare fists as hard as I could, leaving my hands covered in scrapes and bruises. I would scratch at my ankles and thighs with sharp scissors, going over the same mark again and again and again. I would out peroxide and tea tree oil on my cuts just to feel the sting. I would snap rubber bandcs on my hands repetitively, hard enough to lessee welts. I would snap rubber bands on the burns I'd given myself, on the cuts I'd given myself.
I call myself a "former" self harmer, but I don't feel I can fully claim that title. The last time I hurt myself was last year, and I've thought about doing it a Hell of a lot since then.

When I was 15 I moved out of home. My parents tried to make me move back, and threatened to cut off all support, financial, emotional, unless I did what they asked. I won that battle, but at a terrible cost.

When I was sixteen, I was living with a friend of mine who emotionally abused me. She didn't mean to, and she did and does love me, but the scars she left still hurt. Still have me doubting myself and my feelings.

I've always had to tiptoe around my father. For as long as I can remember. I never knew when he would start to rant and rave, when he would throw things. One minute he was my father, the next he was a ball of barely contained fury. I would hide in my room until he stopped shouting. I would bring him a cup of coffee after he finished, hoping against hope that he didn't turn his rage on me. It was a nightmare. One minute I would be talking to him, the next it was as if something snapped, and all I can remember is the rage.

When I was 17, I had someone follow me home because they couldn't take no for an answer. He refused to leave until a friend of mine pulled a knife on him.
At 18 I had someone I didn't know follow me home. He asked for directions, I didn't know the way, he followed me home. This was ten at night, everything was closed, I was terrified and alone. When I got home, I thought I was safe, until he rapped on the window.

I was terrified growing up. Scared of my father and what he would do if I was bad. Scared of being raped. Scared of my mother blaming me for the sexual abuse. Scared of hell... Fuck, I'm a Pagan and I'm still terrified of Hell.

I'm still trying to stop myself from blaming myself for everything.

So tell me, at what age am I allowed to have experienced this shit. At what age am I allowed to be upset by it? When you tell me I'm only young, I've had a short life, yes. I am young. My lief has been short. But I was abused at ten. Young means diddly squat. Young doesn't protect you from harm. Young doesn't stop older men abusing you. Young doesn't stop you abusing yourself. Young doesn't mean that you haven't experienced some horrific fucking shit in your life.

And writing off my experiences because you think I'm too young to understand? Is a fucking shitty thing to do.

03 June, 2010

I don't owe you anything

Warning! this post is a rant about victim blaming and street harassment. It will be upsetting. I know because it's upsetting me right now.

Last night I was having dinneer with some friends of mine. This is not unusual, we do this nearly every Wednesday night. We play laser tag together and then go to the same restaurant for food, because it's good and we've gotten to know the people there.

Last night I was engaged in what I though was a very productive discussion about the differences between objectification and physical attraction. We talked about where they overlapped, and that the main diffence is how you view the person you are physically attracted to, and where you take it from there.
The discussion shifted and changed, as discussions are want to do. We talked about douchebags and people who Just Dont Get It. I mentioned thoses people who refuse to take no for an answer when you're trying to read.

And that's when it all went to shit. Someone decided to chime in at that point: "Don't you get on your high horse when you don't even have the decentcy to politely say 'i don't want to talk to you'".
Um... What? Weren't we just talking about douchebags who won't take no for an answer? Douchebags who pester you regardless of what you're doing, whether you have earphones or are reading or are otherwise quite obviously ignoring them?

I said as much. Actually, truth be told, I shouted. I shouted that if I was reading then you had no right to talk to me. I shouted that even saying no isn't enough for some people. I shouted that I don't know whether the person talking to me is going to take a polite rebuff or uses that as a way to keep talking to me or uses that as an excuse to start shouting at me and threatening me. Because you know what? All of thesse things have happened to me while I've been on the train.
Normally at night, when there aren't any witnesses. Because I am a very slight, small woman, and I look like I'd be easy to intimidate. It's true, I am easy to intimidate.

One of the people, the person who I normally consider to be a sexist douchebag but who was actually engaging fully in the prior discussion, actually supported me, and said that since I'd explain my experience, my reaction was warranted.

But that did stop other people jumping in to attack me.

I told them I was scared whenever I was out on my own at night. I told them about my keys and my deodorant and my empty headphones used as a way to deter people and protect myself. I told them about the people who had shouted, threatened, followed me home.

And I got the questions. Why didn't you ask someone for help? Why didn't you go to someones house or to a shop? Why didn't you scream or run? Why why why why why didn't you stop these men when they decided you weren't worth squat to them?

And that's when one woman said that, well, I was just whining. After all, she managed to kick two rapists out of her home, and she's the same size as me! But she's helpful, really, she'll show me how to defend myself, but the difference between us is that she took action and I just whined about it.

You know what? Fuck you! Fuck you all!!!

I was asked directions by a man while walking home one night. I politely said "Sorry, I don't know". And he proceeded to follow me home, right up to my houser, and started rapping on the window.

I was asked for change. After refusing, he started getting in my face and shouting at me, abusing me. Mybfriend pulled me away, tried to protect me, so he started in on her. With multiple people looking on. I asked the people standing around for help but they refused even to let me borrow a phone to call the police.

Someone yelled "Hey sexy!" to me on the street. When I ignored him, he followed me down the street shouting that I was a bitch and a cunt and stuck up and I thought I was so great but really I was an ugly bitchy cunt!

I was on the train, reading a book. Someone asked me about it. I said, "it good", then turned away and ignored them. He pressed. I didn't answer. He pressedd more. I said "excuse me, I'm trying to read". He said "well fine, bitch, I was just trying to make polite conversation. God, you women are so full of shit, and you won't even give me the time of day".

THESE ARE TRUE STORIES!!!

These are men who's opinion of women is so low that they think they have the right to treat me like shit.

Guess what? You don't have the right to talk to me. You don't have the right to me. You don't have the right to conversation, to see me smile, to holler at me. Your rights end where mine begin, and I have the right to be left the fuck alone.

You know what? Leave me the fuck alone!!!!!

31 May, 2010

The Nature of Consent, Part Two: The Importance of Safe Signals

WARNING!! This post talks about sex, kink and consent, and is NSFW. It may also be upsetting to some readers.

Fist a note: I use the phrase Safe Signals instead of Safe Words very deliberately. Not everyone can speak, and not all Safe Signals are verbal.

Safe Signals are another of those things that I believe every sexually active person should have, not just those in the kinky community. A Safe Signal is a signal, decided on before hand by all partners, that lets the other parties know to stop. Often people will have two (or more) different signals, declaring the urgency of the halt. One could mean slow down, or stop that activity, another could mean Stop Everything Now!

A Safe Signal could be just about anything;
  • A word not likely to be used in normal play, such as Pineapple
  • A hand gesture or movement not likely to be used in normal play, like opening and shutting the hands quickly
  • A sound made, such as snapping fingers or ringing a bell
The only thing a Safe Signal needs to be is agreed upon and easily recognised by all parties.

But why are Safe Signals so important?

In kinky communities, the answer is obvious. A partner hit a little too hard, cut a little too deep, you need to be able to let them know so they can stop and apply first aid if necessary.
But what about people who aren't kinky?

Safe Signals, I believe, should be supported and pushed for by feminists all over. They are the epitome of enthusiastic consent. They help partners know that, although someone may have consented initially, that consent can be revoked at any time. And it gives people a means to revoke that consent! If I'm in the middle of sex and suddenly have a flashback, I have a way of quickly letting my partner know that we Must Stop.

But Safe Signals are not without their limitations. It is possible thar, should you freeze up or need to stop, you might be unable to make your Signal. This is why it is vitally important that we tune in to our partners, so that if something changes, if something goes wrong, we can respond immediately.

The Nature of Consent, Part One: SSC vs. RACK

WARNING!!! This post talks about sex, kink and consent, and is NSFW. It also might be upsetting for some readers.

The issue of consent is one which is very important in feminist circles. It is a topic that needs to be talked about over and over and over again. But when it comes to kinky circles, kinky feminists, the word holds even more meanings.

These are currently two schools of thought regarding consent in kinky sexuality. They are defined by the acronyms SSC and RACK.

SSC: Safe, Sane and Consentual, is one I actually vehemently reject.

For starters, who exactly defines safe? What is safe? There are things I might do to make me safe, but which would be unsafe to other people because of different tolerances and triggers. And not every kinky activity is safe. Slap and tickle? Sure. Handcuffs and bondage? Whatever. Knife play? No way in hell is that safe. The only thing we can do, what we need to trust ourselves and our partners to do, is be aware of the risks.

Want to play with knives? Have fun. Want to do a suspension scene? Go right ahead. Interested in wax play? Enjoy. But be aware that these are not safe activities. They are dangerous. And we need to accept that danger, to understand that danger, in order to take the precautions necessary to engage in these activities.

The other thing that really shits me about SSC is the word "Sane". Guess what! I'm not sane. I don't identify as sane. There are some days when I am more sane than others, but what about when I'm in the midst of a manic episode and really, really want sex? Should I just say no? Por what if I don't know if this is the beginnings of mania or I'm just really happy? Where is the line drawn?
To demand that all kinky participants be sane is, quite frankly, ableist. And I won't have any part in that.

RACK is actually something I hold very dear to me, and something which I think all sexually active people should strive for, not just kinky ones. Risk Aware Consentual Kink (or sex, if you're not kinky). This is about knowing what you're doing, researching something new before trying it, taking into account every possible eventuatioion of an activity. Even more importantly, it's about making sure your partner(s) is awarer of all possible risks too. And with this awareness, making sure you all are truly willing to proceed.

This is, I believe, the true nature of consent: knowing the risks and consciously deciding, yes, I'm going to try this.

09 May, 2010

What's the same about all these covers?


If you guessed "The Pose", Congratulations! Have an impossible costume! (Warning, NSFW. Warning: trans-hate in the comments).

And it's not just comics where you see this pose. Check out these posters for the recent G I Joe movie:

Wow! This is a pose which manages to show off Arse, Breasts and Face (except in that G I Joe poster where her head is cut off...) all at the same time! It's magic!

This is a pose I see all the damn time and, frankly, I'm bored. I'd really wish creators would be just a little more creative when it comes to posing their comic book heroines.
I've never seen a hero in the pose, only heroines. Anyone know of an exception?

So tell me, my lovely readers, what things in comic books are you sick of, be it poses or themes or impossible outfits? What have you seen so many times that you just want to scream "Enough already!!"? And is the presents of these things enough to stop you from buying a comic if you see it on the cover?

07 May, 2010

I Dreamed That I Was Normal

I dreamed that I was normal.
I dreamed that I was fine.
I dreamed that people asked me pointless questions like the time.

I dreamed the world made sense,
That people never tried
To delve into my psyche and redefine my mind.

I dreamed that I was normal.
I dreamed I didn't care.
I dreamed I could walk down the street without a single stare.

I dreamed that I was thirsty,
All I needed was a drink.
I dreamed that no one questioned me or how I know to think.

I dreamed that I was normal.
I dreamed that it was clear.
I dreamed that who I was was not a cause for peoples fear.

I dreamed that I was timid.
I dreamed that I was proud.
I dreamed that I was quiet and I dreamed that I was loud.

I dreamed that I was normal.
I dreamed that I knew best.
I dreamed that my emotions weren't the cause of my distress.

I dreamed that I was normal,
That nothing was amiss.
I dreamed that I was normal, and then woke up to this.

12 April, 2010

The Thousand Voices

I am the pushy girl. 
I am the bossy girl. 
I am the girl with the loud voice. 
I am the angry girl. 
I am the quiet girl. 
I am the girl who won't take no.  

I am the butch girl. 
I am the femme girl. 
I am the girl who was called a boy.
I am the good girl. 
I am the bad girl. 
I am the girl who decides on her own. 

I am the thin girl. 
I am the fat girl. 
I am the girl who doesn't care.  
I am the pretty girl. 
I am the ugly girl. 
I am the girl with the hairy legs. 

I am the straight girl. 
I am the queer girl. 
I am the girl who is asexual.  
I am the shy girl. 
I am the scared girl. 
I am the girl who's been there before.  

I am the dark girl. 
I am the light girl. 
I am the girl you can't define. 
I am the sane girl. 
I am the mad girl. 
I am the girl who knows her mind.

I am the girl with long hair. 
I am the girl with short hair. 
I am the girl with no hair at all. 
I am the girl who fights. 
I am the girl who cries. 
I am the girl who doesn't think twice.  

I am the girl in the little black dress. 
I am the girl with scars upon her wrist. 
I am the girl in the dirty jeans.  
I am the girl in nothing at all.

I am unhurt although you hurt me. 
I am unashamed although you shame me. 
I am complete although you break me. 
I am unstoppable although you try to stop me.

I am hysterical. 
I am emotional. 
I am rational. 
I am logical. 

I am not here to make you comfortable. 
I am not here for your desire.
I am not here for your attention. 
I am not here for your demands.

I am me. 
I am here for me. 
Yes, I am that girl.    

09 April, 2010

The Treatment of Women in the X-Men Films

I have tried to be inclusive of trans* men and women in this post. If anyone thinks I have failed in this endevour, or there is a way I could improve it, please let me know, either in comments or in an email.

Let me preface this by saying: I love Marvel. I am a comic-book geek, and Marvel is my playground. It is one of the only superhero worlds with kick-arse female characters and kick-arse teens. As far as non-white characters, trans* characters, disabled characters - sorry. There is a *lot* of fail.
But I cling to Marvel in the hope that it will get better, because I love superhero comics. I live in the hope that, as the slightly more progressive of the comic-giants, Marvel will one day stop fridging its women; will have a non-white character who doesn't turn out to be the villain; will have a disabled character that doesn't have their disability magicked away; will have a mentally ill character that isn't "cursed by maddness" and thus evil; include a fucking trans* character, period!

I know, I know, it's asking a lot. I might as well hope for Joss Whedon to knock on my door and say "I've treated the subject of rape horribly in the past; how can I do better?" But I refuse to believe that the world which brought us Kitty Pryde, Sue Storm, Jubilee, Emma Frost, Storm, Tamora Pierce's White Tiger and Jean Grey/Phoenix can't get better.

Which brings me to my anger. I was involved in a mock-Twitter argument which started as Marvel vs. DC, and ended up as Kitty Pryde vs. Batman. Not who would beat whom, but who is the coolest. Leaving asside the fact that Batman is a (very) rich, white, able-bodied, straight, cis-man and thus has every priviledge possible available to him, it was a fun argument. Until.

Until it was suggested that Batman was cooler because he had block-buster action flicks made about him and Kitty didn't. And suddenly I wasn't having fun anymore, I was angry. More than angry, I was furious. I still am furious. Because who does Hollywood make kick-arse action flicks about? Oh that's right, able-bodied cis-men. Kick-arse women? (cis or trans*, especially trans*) Not so much.

But there was an X-Men movie franchise, with actual cis-women in it! Rouge and Storm and Jean Grey and Phoenix! Oh, really? So I'm just supposed to jump for joy because there are women in these films? I don't think so! The treatment of the female X-Men (hah!) in these films.

Rouge:
In the comics she is down and dirty. She is powerful. She is poor. She isn't afraid to use foul tactics to win a fight. She wasn't afraid of using her powers, especially if it won her the battle.
In the film? Actually, in the film she's a mix of three characters: Jubilee, Rouge and, gasp, Kitty Pryde. In fact, the only thing film-Rouge had in common with comic-Rouge was her powers.
Film Rouge spends all three movies pining over various boys and men. In the first film, the only film she is prominent in, she is a fucking plot device to spur on Wolverine! She was used. The first film, the only one she's prominent in, she wasn't a character, she was something for the other characters to react to.

Storm:
Talk about a kick-arse super heroine! She can control the fucking weather! You'd think a weather-witch would come in mighty handy in a massive, drawn out battle of the mutants! And she does come in handy, those three times she actually used her powers.
That's right; three films, countless battles, and she only uses her powers three time. Um... yay? Not to mention the fact that you barely fucking see her! You see her eyes glow, and then she vanishes! You don't see half the fuckng cool stuff she does! You know, the stuff that saves the day? She ain't credited for that, either.

Jean Grey:
Oh Jean. She was horribly mistreated in these films. Her role? Be caught in a love triangle between Wolverine and Scott. Woo. She is a telepath, though! But, oh, she's punished for using her powers. That's right, she saves the fucking day, isn't seen doing it, and has a fucking off-screen death. Talk about being fridged!
But of course, she comes back as;

Phoenix:
Apparently Jean was more a more powerful telepath than even Professor X! For reasons not properly explained, this is considered a Bad Thing. We couldn't have a young cis-girl be stronger than an old man now, could we? So Prifessor X takes it upon himself to mess with her mind and supress her powers.

Stop. Let me talk about that for a second. Because sweet merciful darkness what a fucking horrible thing to do!! People being scared of powerful cis-women and thus supressing them? Mutilating them against their will? Gee, it's not like that happens every fucking day!

But back to Phoenix. And now we have some ableist-fail as well! You see, the act of supressing Jeans powers "drove her insane". It created a split personality, Dark Phoenix. A powerful cis-woman with a mental disorder? Let's make her evil! That's never been done before, right? Right...

And you know what? I'm sick of this! I'm sick of being tossed a bone, I'm sick of being expected to leap for joy every time a cis-woman is on the fucking screen! And heaven for fend I ask for actual fleshed-out characters; fleshed out characters who aren't thin, white, cis, currently abled men!


On the plus side, I have discovered an awesome new blog, Heroine Content. They published some commentary on the fourth X-Men film, which I decided not to mention at this point:

27 March, 2010

Chally Says I'm Beautiful!


Description: A whitish-bluish square with black writing. Black swirly things and butterflies coming from the top-left corner. Reads: Blog Awards Winner (line) Beautiful Blogger (line) Award

A while ago, Chally from Zero at the Bone awarded me the Beautiful Blogger award. It's taken me a while, but thank you Chally. This filled me with warm fuzzy feelings and happiness :)

Awardees are to list seven things about themselves, so here goes.
  1. I want to get a brain-scan, because I'm curious as to what my mind looks like when it's thinking, and how this compares to other minds.
  2. I sometimes perceive words as tastes, textures and smells. Words with Ms and Ls (malevolence, maleficent) are like fresh strawberries. Algebra is like biting into a mango without a pip.
  3. I have been diagnosed with clinical depression, and self-diagnosed with bipolar
  4. I am queer - pansexual to be specific
  5. I am a geek dating a geek who is also a wonderful ally
  6. I use the term Equalist because there are multiple (strawberries) spheres of oppression, and I cannot be against sexism if I'm not also against racism, transphobia, ableism, homophobia etc.
  7. I am also a feminist, and in claiming that identity I need to own the horrible racist and transphobic history (and present) of feminism, and actively fight against it.
  8. Ok, 8 things, but meh: Please call me on my shit. Even though I stand against racism and transphobia and ableism and homophobia and sexism, I am not imune to the effects of the kyriarchy. If I say or do something problematic, please call me on it.
Thankyou for reading boring shit about me. I would like to pass this award onto Lauredhel, who blog at Hoyden About Town and Feminists With Disabilities: For A Way Forward and at her personal DreamWidth account.
Lauredhel inspired me to write about ableism and has on more than one occasion caused me to question myself and my beliefs (this is a good thing). She is a wonderful person who deserves more love and respect than I could give in a blog post. So thank you Lauredhel.

Thank you again.

07 March, 2010

How To Be An Ally: A Guide For The Currently Not-Disabled

Terminology:
CND: Currently Not-Disabled
PWD: Person With Disability

If you are a Currently Not-Disabled person interested in Disability Rights and fighting ableism, this is for you. It is in no way a comprehensive list, and things might be added, removed, changed in the future, but it is a start. I appreciate any help people are willing and able to give :)

And so, without further ado,


How To Be An Ally: A Guide For The Currently Not-Disabled


Do Not Police Disability
This is the first point because it is the most important. I've seen it happen before: a well-meaning CND is somewhere like... a train. They see someone in the priority seat who, in their mind, does not fit the definition of disabled. Well-meaning CND decides to scold said person, for using up a seat which someone "more needy" could be sitting in.
DO NOT do this! I cannot tress this enough. Just because you can't tell, doesn't mean a person is not disabled. Check out the wiki article on Invisible Disabilities.
It is not up to you to determine whether a person fits the definition of disabled. Not all PWDs fit the traditional image of a cane or wheelchair. Not every PWD has a physical disability. Just because you haven't heard about it, doesn't mean it's not real. It is not your job to decide. To sum up: A PWD does not have to justify themselves to a CND. A PWD does not need the approval of a CND to be disabled.

Watch Your Language
This one is hard, I know. Language is tricky. You might not know a word is hurtful. You might not agree with a PWD when they say a word is marginalising. But let me tell you: it's true. It hurts when you are the reason people do bad things (are you INSANE?!?!). It hurts when you are used to refer to bad things (that's so LAME). It hurts when you are the catch-all for things people don't like (that's RETARDED). Here's a tip: If a PWD tells you that a word you've used hurts them, stop using it. You can be a good ally and expand your vocabulary at the same time! For more information on language and how it can hurt, check out the Ableist Word Profile at Feminists With Disabilities: For A Way FWD

Do Not Offer Treatment Advice
While you think your advice might be helpful, chances are they've heard it all before. Believe it or not, PWD know a lot about their own lives and their own bodies! So "helpful advice" just comes across as annoying at best, condescending at worst.
Some examples:
* Why don't you just [Insert Advice]
* You should think positive!
* Have you tried [insert miracle cure]
* My friend/aunt/mother/person I know somehow was depressed, and they [insert miracle cure here]. Now they're all better!
For more information, read Disability 101: Treatment Suggestions and Why They Are Not a Good Idea  

Consider Accessibility When Planning Events
This can be any sort of event, from a feminist gathering to a gathering of friends. If it's friends, this might be easier because you might already know what sort of accommodations are needed. When you're hosting an event or gathering, consider the following things:
* Are there any stairs? A single stair makes the event inaccessible.
* How wide are the doors? Do they open automatically, or are they manual?
* What is the atmosphere like? How bright are the lights? What is the ambient noise level?
* If there is literature, what sort of paper is it written on? What colour? How large is the font? What colour?
* Is there captioning or sign available?
This is just a small selection of things which need to be considered. For some more information, have a browse at various disability rights websites. To get you started: Question Time: Accessibility.
 
Website Accessibility Matters
It matters, just as much as event accessibility. Unfortunately, I'm not very knowledgeable about how to make websites accessible, so I'm going to leave you with some links: Question Time: Thinking About Website Accessibility Tools to Download to help make your website accessible (From Vision Australia) Web Accessibility Initiative

Stand When You Can
It might seem small, it might seem silly, but it might help. Stand on a crowded bus or train, if you can. There could be someone with an invisible disability who needs to sit, but doesn't want to go through the hassle of outing themselves to do so (especially since they might not be believed). So allowing that extra seat is good. But remember: do not police disability!  

Speak Up
This is the hardest thing to do, because it not only challenges your own privileges, but those of the people around you. Speak up against Ableism. Call people out on ableist language, challenge stereotypes. Speak up, because a PWD might not always have the spoons to do so. Speak up, because it needs to be done. Speak up, because underlying assumptions hurt us even when we aren't around to hear them voiced.

Further Reading
* Feminists With Disabilities: For A Way Forward (Please read the Comments Policy before leaving comments)
* Disability Etiquette: Wiki Page
* The Spoon Theory (PDF)
* Teen Mental Health Blog
* Disability at Dreamwidth
* Ouch
* The Deal With Disability
Thank you for reading. If you have any advice or links, please feel free to leave them in the comments.

28 January, 2010

Name and Shame

One of my forms of activism takes place in the childcare centre I work at. I challenge biases, encourage diversity, and try my best to treat the children equally. I've been teaching my toddlers some basic sign language (please, thank you, numbers, alphabet), and I like to say things like "Some people have two mummies or two daddies" to the Kindy children (as an aside: Kindy children are at an age where bias has seeped in, so it's a great time to challenge).

An important part of this is using the correct names for anatomy. Of course head is head, foot is foot, ear is ear. But I also use words like: vulva, vagina, breasts, testical, penis. (I say bottom, not anus or rectum, because they all understand bottom. But, I digress).
I also try my damndest to never shame any of the children about their bodies, about nudity, or really about anything.

So you can imagine my horror when I hear one of the carers say to a PF1 toddler: "Put your pants on! No one wants to see you rudey-dudeys!"
Wow. What a way to shame! Not only are her vulva and vagina "rude", but no one wants to see them! How dare she show her shameful body like that?
What bothers me more is that this took place in the children's toilet, while said carer was changing said child's nappy. Of course she wasn't wearing pants, you've just taken her nappy off! How 'bout you simply put it back on instead of shaming her?


Another incident happened with a parent. We have just had two PF's start in the centre, and one of the ways we transition children is to have them come in for a few hours with their primary caregiver/s. This was such an occasion. The father was in my room with the younger child, the mother was in the kindy room with the older child.

Father noticed that one of the PMs2 was wearing pink polish on his toenails. The conversation went like this.
Father: He's wearing nail polish.
Me: Yes. Some of the boys here do that.
Father: What, the boys wear nail polish?
Me: Yes. There's a boy in the kindy room who loves nail polish. We don't discourage it.
Father: What?
Me: We don't discourage it. If they want to wear nail polish, we're not going to tell them they shouldn't.
Father: But he's a boy!
Other Carer: He has older sisters, I think they did this to him.

At which point I stopped trying.

1PF = Presumed Female, as in children born with a vagina and vulva.
2PM = Presumed Male, as in children born with a penis and testicles.

22 January, 2010

On Rape Culture, Amanda Palmer, and Disappointment

An open letter to Amanda Palmer,

I have adored your music for many years. When I was sixteen and dealing with abuse, depression and self-harm, your words spoke to me. I was the Girl Anachronism, stuck in a prison of her own skin; I was the Perfect Fit, always nowhere, never belonging; I was thrown around in a sea of turmoil, desperately trying to make sense of this sensless world. 

As I grew older and learned more about you, my adoration turned to admiration. You were unashamed about your sexuality, about your feminism, your body hair, your belly. I have tried in vain to capture just a small piece of that self-confidence. 

You spoke of topics others wouldn't dare to touch; rape, abortion, sexual abuse, and you did it with upbeat tunes, humour and a twinkle in your eye. It was shocking, confronting. It worked. You forced people to stop and pay attention. You made it work. 

And then there was Katy Perry. You raped her. You found a look alike, played her song of confusion and empowerment, and raped that look alike on stage.
And I have to ask why.

You've told the world how hard it is, to be a popstar and a woman. A woman like Katy Perry, perhaps?
So why?

Why did you decide to simulate rape? Why did you feel the need to violate her like that? Aren't you aware that many of your fans are rape and sexual abuse survivors? Aren't you aware of the impact this might hav hade on them? The impact it has had on some of them? 

I support your right to using shock and humour to discuss difficult subjects. Hell, I love it. You give your fans a way of talking, you empower them. 
But this? It was scary, triggering, worrying, and sickening. It made me cringe and cry and twitch and shake. This is not shock and humour. It is rape culture. And it makes me ill. 

08 January, 2010

20th Down Under Feminist Carnival

Hello all and welcome to the 20th Down Under Feminist Carnival. This month has been a busy one, and the number of submissions I've received reflect that. This is my first carnival, so be kind :)

I'm sorry this came out so late. I have had what is kindly described as a shit week. But all is good and I am resting and better, so yay.






























This image was submitted by Lauredhel and comes from the post More Salt by Blue Milk
Description: A child crawling on wet sand, left arm raised as if to take another step. Tyre tracks are visible on the sand. In the distance is what appears to be a large water body and green land, possibly trees. The sky is bright blue with a few white/grey clouds visible.


The optional theme this month is Feminism and Childcare, so I'll start with that.

Submitted by Alison Godfrey is Your Say On The National Breastfeeding Strategy, written by Alison Godfrey. This is about, as you might have guessed, the National Breastfeeding Strategy.

Submitted by Chally and Lauredhel, Adventures in Parenting in Public, written by Baroquestar, chronicling a difficult conversation had with her child on a tram, and the perceptions of strangers.

Also submitted by Chally and Lauredhel, And So It Begins, by Ariane at Ariane's Little World, about her thoughts on the start of the Princess Phase.

Submitted by Mynxii, Figurines and the Colour Pink, written by Tikiwanderer. She writes about trying to find inspirational figurines for her daughter, and the PinkStinks website.

Also submitted by Mynxii, Lone Princesses and Girly Books, by tansyrr at tansyrr.com. About children's books and princesses.

Another submission from Chally and Lauredhel, Teaspoons Aren't Enough by Pharaoh Katt (that's me!) at Something More Than Sides. This post details a conversation I had at work, and my feelings of futility.

And finally, once again submitted by Chally and Lauredhel (great minds think alike, it seems), .Babies on the Big Screen, posted by BlueMilk at Blue Milk Watch the trailer for the upcoming Babies docco!

Transcript:
Two babies sit, each in front of a rock with a rock in each hand. They bang the rock in their hands against the rock on the ground.
Baby 1 reaches for a plastic bottle. Baby 2 tries to take the plastic bottle from Baby 1. Baby 1 cries, leans over, stops crying, and bites Baby 2. Baby 2 begins to cry, then pushes Baby 1. Baby 1 begins to cry.
Cut
Words “Focus Features” against background of out-of-focus coloured dots.
Cut.
Image of pregnant belly being stroked.
Cut
Black background with the words “Four New Babies” in light blue.
Four cuts, each showing one of the four babies.
Cut
Black background with the words “Four Places on Earth” in light blue
Four quick cuts:
1.Grassy field with blue sky. Sky has some clouds. Sheep appear to be in field. Words: “Bayanchandamani, Mongolia”
2.A busy city, with sky scrapers and bridges, on what appears to be a coastline. Words: “Tokyo, Japan”
3.Dark silhouette of a man, some trees, and an unrecognised object, against a dark blue, nearly night sky. Sunlight is visible just on the horizon. Words: “Opuwo, Namibia”
4.A large water body in front of multiple sky scrapers, against a grey sky. Words: “San Francisko, USA”
Cut
Black background with light blue words: “One Year”
Some Cuts of Babies Playing, Including:
Baby feet with Katakana characters written in red,
Woman smiling,
Person holding a child with feet on a big blue ball,
mother holding a child in her arms, their heads pressed together
Person wrapping child up in blue cloth, strings are tied around the cloth
A woman, a man and a child on a motocycle, on a grassy field
A baby wrapped up on a bed, waving hir arms up and down
A man and a baby in a shower. Only the torso of the man is visible
A baby and a rooster
A silhouette of a baby on a bed
A baby and a rooster
A baby in a bouncer, tied to a white door frame
A baby and a white dog with a faint brown patch over its eye. The baby is opening the dogs mouth with hir hand
A baby holding a CD
The words, flashed one at a time: “The” “Babies” “Are” “Coming”
The word “Babies”
A baby sitting in a tub, gurgling. A goat can be seen in the background.
Black background. Words “Coming Soon” in light blue.


Next up, I'd like yo highlight some posts showing the intersectionality of Feminism and other movements.

Intersectionality:

From Chally, Who Needs Identity Politics?, by Queen of Thorns at Ideologically Impure. A great beat-down of an article full of white-privilege and general fail.

And now, for some General Feminism:

Submitted by Lauredhel and tigtog, Girls Gone Wild or Wild Women? Or: We Never Had Nasty Sluts in My Day, written by Lauredhel at Hoyden About Town. As tigtog says, “Superb examination of the double standard regarding women behaving "badly" compared to the expectation that men will get drunk and loutish - the moral panic about women becoming masculinised and how it's "all feminism's fault".”

Next, The Invisible Mother Christmas, submitted and written by Anne Else at Elsewoman. Who does all the work at Christmas?

Chally gives us The Avatar Indignation Thread written by Wildly Paranthetical at Hoyden About Town. Come and rant about all the fail in the recent film Avatar.

Lauredhel submits Did *you* know you hated Kiera Knightly? Don't worry, it surprised me too, written by and posted at Fuck Politeness a critique of the media obsession with pitting women against each other.

Another from Lauredhel, Does Not Compute, By Jo Tamar at Wallaby. Apparently some people think that forcing people to spend 40% of their income on food is a good thing!

Again from Lauredhel, Revealing His Stripes, by In A strange Land. From the post: “Tony Abbott thinks everyone should be indoctrinated with christianity.”

Another from Lauredhel, Abbott and Women, Some Thoughts at Still Life With Cat. Another post about Tony Abbott, this time about his standing (or lack there of) with women.

Health and Fertility:

First, submitted by Lauredhel, Fertility Rates Updated, posted by Penguin Unearthed.

Another from Lauredhel, As if cancer wasn't hideous enough already by She's A Carnivore. About the disgusting trend of sexifying breast cancer.

Next, Chally submitted Seroprevalence amongst trans women, written by Queen Emily at Questioning Transphobia. It details some stats of HIV prevelance in trans women and trans sex workers.

And finally, because we all need to be cheered up now and then, Mary gives us Full Of Win at In A strange Land. Rape prevention tips that aren't victim blaming! For the win!!

Thank you all for playing. The 21st Down Under Feminist Carnival will be brought to you by Rayedish at The Radical Radish, planned for 5th February. Submissions to rayedish at gmail dot com for those who can’t access blogcarnival.