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!

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.
Words “Focus Features” against background of out-of-focus coloured dots.
Image of pregnant belly being stroked.
Black background with the words “Four New Babies” in light blue.
Four cuts, each showing one of the four babies.
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”
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.


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.