Tuesday, 21 May 2013
This is something that will disproportionately affect queer people, who are more likely to have no or a problematic relationship with their family of origin, who may well consider their partner their only family member. One of the more over-looked reasons for supporting this case was that by making multiple support options more equal, there would be less pressure to remain dependent on an abusive relationship or, hey, not feel obliged to live with parents your entire life for similar reasons to those most people don't, or who want a close relationship that is not based on "care".
But there's also a lot of infantilisation going on. Take the first sentence of this article: "A $92 million fund to pay parents who look after their adult disabled children has been revealed by the Government". Children. There was no reason for that word there - even with the decision as it is: "...to pay for care provided by the parents of adult disabled people..." would work just fine. But these parameters invite such wording; and it plays into the idea of disabled people as overgrown children, incapable of making their own decisions*, or having their own preferences about who they live with and who they depend on. And if that preference - or the best reasonable option - is parents, then it should be treated as such, not as the assumed norm.
*I think children are often more capable than we give credit for, but that's another post for another day.
Monday, 20 May 2013
In the future, there will still be risk takers and creeps, I can totally understand that. But in this film, Kirk didn’t force her back to his cabin to marry him, and consecrate the marriage to make it legal to make an alliance with his commander’s family… why? Because it’s a ridiculous, outdated concept, based on the B.S. model that women are chattel to be passed from father to husband in some sort of sick ownership.
Thursday, 16 May 2013
Tuesday, 14 May 2013
i had mixed feelings about the movie itself, which i wrote about at the time. as i said then, it's not the best film ever, but there were still plenty of positives and i thought it was a huge improvement on many of disney's previous efforts. now, if only they could keep all those positive characteristics, and have the main character not be a princess. although, mulan was apparently not a princess, so maybe they get a couple of points for that one.
but regardless of what you think of the film, it's not like merida was significantly different to the shape of other disney female characters - she's still pretty slim, lots of hair, big round eyes (ok, again with the exception of mulan). but her traditional image is less sexualised & more of an action figure.
so why the need to make her skinnier still, with the head tilt, the arched eyebrows & the loss of her bow & arrows? why change something that was working?
there's now a petition against the change, which you can find here:
The redesign of Merida in advance of her official induction to the Disney Princess collection does a tremendous disservice to the millions of children for whom Merida is an empowering role model who speaks to girls' capacity to be change agents in the world rather than just trophies to be admired. Moreover, by making her skinnier, sexier and more mature in appearance, you are sending a message to girls that the original, realistic, teenage-appearing version of Merida is inferior; that for girls and women to have value -- to be recognized as true princesses -- they must conform to a narrow definition of beauty.
as with the changes that were proposed for dora, it's important to fight back against the constant pressure created by images presented to us of female characters. we all deserve better.
Monday, 13 May 2013
Stuff's advice, right at the end:
TIPS ON STAYING SAFEJust what I needed to finish the day.
Travel in pairs
Make sure people know where you are, and when they are next likely to hear from you
Be aware of your environment
Do not travel with strangers
The only thing the two young women - yep, that's right, the young woman raped here was already following Stuffed Tip One and was walking home with a friend - the only thing the two young women could have done to be safer in this instance is to not be with rapists. Maybe those two rapists should have to carry signs showing their previous histories of hurting women?
You know what means you get raped? Being unlucky enough to be in the presence of a rapist who targets you. That's all.
Stuffed Tip Two: Make sure people know where you are, and when they are next likely to hear from you.
Bollocks. When people don't know where you are, it's not usually because you're being raped. It would be more effective to suggest women with boyfriends, former boyfriends, male friends or work colleagues should set up rape alarms. We could set off permanent signals when we're with these men, to alert people about where we are every 15 minutes perhaps, because these men rape us 84% of the time. It will catch on, I'm sure.
Stuffed Tip Three: Be aware of your environment.
Good tip. You should avoid being inside, because most people get raped inside (67% of rapes in NZ happen inside the home of the rapist or the person raped.)
You should avoid night-time, because most people are raped at night.
You should avoid being around men, because most people are raped by men (99% of perpetrators of adult sexual violence in NZ are men). That's that one sorted.
Stuffed Tip Four: Do not travel with strangers
Mmm. This won't actually help, because most people are raped by people they know (84% of perpetrators of adult sexual violence in NZ are known to the survivor). More like, don't travel with boyfriends, former boyfriends, male friends or work colleagues. Wonder why they didn't put that up?
Rape Crisis Scotland have some other ideas:
Rant over. Get busy with telling Stuff what complete and utter victim blaming creeps they are, if you feel the urge. The research is here, in case they have trouble finding it.
I'm very lucky to be speaking on a panel about the portrayal of women in the media on the Monday night - hope to see some of you there!
If you click on the image it should hopefully make it bigger and thus easier to read.
Saturday, 11 May 2013
And I get the point, really, that being "born like this" is one way many queer people experience our sexuality, and that, on the strength of this film, lots of straight people believe they are born straight.
But it feels too simplistic to me, and too invisibilising of quite how messy and complicated desire and love are, for lots of people. Maybe we cling to identity certainty around that because it makes us feel safer.
Because we grow up surrounded by heterosexuality, by images of lust and love being different-gendered, with opposite-sex sex education (if any) in schools, with opposite-sex love stories in music, in film, in books, on television. Of course most heterosexual people don't feel like they have "chosen" to be heterosexual. If your desires fit into the dominant forms of desires around you, why would you even think about it?
I know plenty of heterosexual people who have chosen not to act on same-sex desires. Ask any queer person how often we've had our straight friends drunkenly tell us "I've thought about it....." often followed by clumsy invitations which, at least to me, haven't been that appealing.
I know plenty of people who acknowledge the fluidity of their desires, because their identity has changed from one part of their life to the next. Phrases like "hasbian" and "on the train to gaytown", while intrinsically disrespectful of people's ability to define our own identity at each moment in time - and explicitly biphobic - illustrate the fact that identities which feel definitive and important to us at one point of our life can feel just plain wrong at others.
For me, the construction of "born this way" as the dominant way of thinking about sexuality is intrinsically conservative, intrinsically seeking solidity around emotions and desires. Of course many, many people will have identities that remain constant throughout their lives, and of course queer people have different access to that because we have to buck compulsory heterosexuality to name who we want to shag and love.
But what about those of us who don't? What about people whose identity fluctuates, based on the social contexts they are in? What about the people who make choices not to follow desires, because it would be too hard for them, for whatever reason?
Desire is frequently confusing. Ever been attracted to someone, then freaked out when their gender is different from what matches your monosexual identity? If you're a straight woman or a gay man who fancies Justin Bieber you might not want to click on the link.
I've claimed a solid identity around being bisexual for 24 years. The reality of how complex that is for me is something I rarely talk about, because of quite how fragile the respect available to people who identify as bisexual can be. Since I started knowing I could love women, that's being pretty constant. My attraction to things masculine is much more ephemeral and context, and masculine person, dependent. I believe that's mostly about the patriarchy, but it may well also reflect that I just fundamentally on average find hot women hotter than hot men - who knows?
And I've never - before or after I came out - fallen in love with a man. Never actually even that close.
Some people would no doubt argue that makes me "really" lesbian. I know many lesbians who would and do describe their desires quite similarly to mine, but we identify differently because desire, lust and love are complicated things that mean different things to different people.
So my Facebook friends sharing this film, by all means let's encourage heterosexual people to interrogate heterosexuality - and in particular the privileges that come from being the norm, like being able to sleep with your lover when you're paying money to stay somewhere.
But please, please, please let's not shut the door on the delights of nuanced understandings and experiences of desire and love as changing, fluid aspects of our identity. We lose something when we oversimplify such complex aspects of human experience.
Wednesday, 8 May 2013
Every day across Britain, it seems, there's a new and horrific revelation of sexual abuse: last week we had the guilty plea of veteran TV presenter Stuart Hall, who confessed to 14 cases of indecent assault against 13 girls, the youngest only nine years old. Days earlier the possible scale of child abuse in north Wales children's homes was revealed.
But after the shock has subsided and we have time to reflect on these revolting crimes, the main question in most reasonable people's minds must surely be: what is it about white people that makes them do this?While Mr Harker has left alone the obvious male connection that all of these perpetrators - white and non-white - have in common, he raises a valid point, well. And one which is just as relevant in Aotearoa, where as Moana Jackson points out the Kahui twins, Nia Glassie and James Whakaruru are household names, while the Nelson twins, Timothy Maybin and Samantha Nelson are not.
What I'm slightly disappointed by in Mr Harker's article though is the lack of attention to power in other ways. Sexual violence thrives in situations in which there are power imbalances. Predators target vulnerable people. Child sexual abuse perpetrated by adults is in the main not by "paedophiles" but by men who have sexual relationships with other adults as well as targeting children.
This power might be institutional - Jimmy Savile say, with his powerful role within the entertainment industry in the UK. Where there seems to be a problem, given the Coronation St roll call of men accused of raping children is growing. Institutional power within educational organisations, or community groups for children, or religious based organisations, or residential services for children, or facilities to care for children. Social power that comes with adulthood, or being a caregiver, or helping out with babysitting.
We need to ask questions of culture if we want to prevent child sexual abuse, but they need to be much broader than racist deficit assumptions for Muslims, Maori or any other people of colour. What was the culture in the British entertainment industries which has led to a Police investigation arresting pop star Gary Glitter, comedian Freddie Starr, DJ Dave Lee Travis, publicist Max Clifford and comedian Jim Davidson, alongside of course the Jimmy Savile revelations and the recent arrest of Rolf Harris?
How many children and adults did these men sexually assault? How many people knew about it? What did they tell themselves? How can we stop that happening again?
The Steubenville rape convictions put the spotlight on the inability of young sportsmen to identify sexually assaulting a near comatose young woman as something unacceptable. One teammate of the convicted rapists who saw the rape and walked away had just moments earlier stopped another teammate from drinking and driving. How do we shift those cultural norms, so that young sportsmen are just as determined to stop their teammates raping as driving drunk?
The most important issue, whenever we are talking and thinking about culture, is that the analysis - and the shift to building and supporting protective social norms - needs to come from within the group of interest. I don't know why the British entertainment industry has been providing such a safe place to abuse for men for decades. But people working there will.
I don't think we should be scared of talking and thinking about culture when it comes to preventing sexual violence. In fact I think it's imperative we do that work, if we want protective social norms which promote respect, safety, mutuality and consent as foundations.
We just need to be looking at our own cultural belongings first and foremost. There's plenty of social change to go around.
Tuesday, 7 May 2013
Monday, 6 May 2013
Sunday, 28 April 2013
So on the surface, Canadian complaints about Sri Lanka hosting a Commonwealth event because of their ongoing and recent human rights abuses of Tamil people makes sense to me.
Until you think about the Commonwealth. The countries colonised by England. Leaving aside Africa, divided up by Europeans drawing lines on a map to make stealing resources easier, and British behaviour in India and surrounding countries, let's focus on Canada and white settler behaviour just for a moment.
Canada is the home of ongoing alienation of indigenous Canadians' rights. Here are a list of the current bills which First Nations Canadians object to:
- Bill C-38 Budget Omnibus #1;
- Bill C-45 Budget Omnibus Bill #2;
- Bill C-27 First Nations Financial Transparency Act;
- The First Nations Private Property Ownership Act (Proposed);
- Bill S-2 Family Homes on Reserve and Matrimonial Interests or Right Act;
- Bill S-6 First Nations Elections Act;
- Bill S-8 Safe Drinking Water for First Nations Act;
- Bill C-428 Indian Act Amendment and Replacement Act;
- Bill S-207 An Act to amend the Interpretation Act; and
- Bill S-212 First Nations Self-Government Recognition Bill.
The schools were hotbeds for physical, mental and sexual abuse. Children killed themselves, or died trying to escape. After going through these schools themselves, First Nations parents then had to watch while the same thing was done to their children.
This is not a radical interpretation. This is how the members of parliament in Canada described these schools, in 2008, when a cross party apology described this racism of trying to "stamp the Indian out of the child."
So Canada, quite frankly, fuck off. The arrogance of white supremacy, our colonial inheritance for those of us of British descent, makes me feel sick. Aotearoa has this too, of course, in spades. What happened and is happening to Tamil people in Sri Lanka is obscene. But the impacts of colonisation on Maori, on First Nations Canadians, on Aboriginal peoples in Australia are no less a scar on humanity. News articles which position us white folk as arbiters of justice, fairness and human rights - ignoring colonisation - just perpetuate that white arrogance and invisibilise that white privilege.
We can't really afford that, if we want to live in a world which respects the human rights of others. White privilege is so damn slippery anyway.
Thursday, 25 April 2013
Not Colin Craig, obviously, nothing funny to see here, move it along.
Where do you go? Back to your roots.
The narrow-minded hate mongering continues. Boring, unimaginative, vicious. Someday Tui, your billboards are going to feature in a museum of ridiculous memorabilia of past bigotries. People will wonder "how on earth did these keep getting made?" "What were beer drinkers thinking?"
I had a relationship, a long time ago, with a woman with two children. This is the song those kids played whenever they wanted a way to jump up and down against the homophobia they wrestled with from people around them. It's the anti-Tui.
Tuesday, 23 April 2013
"I will say my partner and I had an argument, I did some things that are wrong, that I shouldn't have done, and I apologise for that."We don't know what happened yet, but we do know Mr Savea has been ordered by the Judge to have no contact with his partner until the case is settled, including not visiting their home. Common assault carries a maximum sentence of one year.
Julian Savea is 6 foot 4 and weighs 108 kg, a man trained to be as strong and physically hard as possible. Someone that size belting you would be terrifying.
We don't know what happened yet, but we do know that physical violence in relationships is often just one aspect of controlling behaviour, and that the impact on children - whether they are the ones being assaulted or not - is significant. Mr Savea has a one year old baby. So far, the only conversation about this baby seeing/hearing/being around their mother being assaulted by their father is whether Mr Savea will be able to see them regularly.
We don't know what happened yet, but we've been told quite a bit about this case. Not from the victim - we know her name and that's all. But the media have been busy, garnering quotes and background material to help us know what's going on.
Mr Savea's parents, though acknowledging they don't know anything about the incident, are sure it couldn't have been 'particularly violent'. The incident that "landed the All Black in court would not have been any more serious than a push," they say.
The Hurricanes Chief Executive, Mr Savea's boss, says:
"Obviously, we are disappointed to have this situation emerge, but we must now let the judicial process run its course."New Zealand Rugby chief executive Steve Tew is also disappointed:
"We were very disappointed to learn of this incident and Julian's subsequent charge. We appreciate this is a distressing time for all those affected and we are also helping support the family.....Precisely no one around Julian Savea is naming what he did as a problem. It's disappointing the situation emerged, that we learnt about it, that he was charged. But the common assault itself? Pah, not particularly violent.
"Without judging the rights or wrongs of this case, we are concerned that this is another incident involving a young player. We need to find out whether we are doing enough to help these young men cope with the pressures of the professional game."
Steve Tew is right to point to some problems with rugby culture. Julian Savea is not even the only current or recent All Black to have gone to court after being charged with domestic violence. Sitiveni Sivivatu and Adam Thomson have both faced charges in recent years. (Thomson was found not guilty because his partner told the court it wasn't as serious as her initial call to the Police and the independent eye-witness accounts suggested.)
I'd like to suggest something the All Blacks could do, if they really want to be seen as taking violence against women seriously. Stop making excuses and create a serious consequence.
Men found guilty of violence against women should not be able to represent New Zealand in any kind of sport, ever again.
When you play sport for a country, you're representing an imagined community. You stand for something, a cypher of belonging, creating a solidarity with other people purely on the basis of place.
That's not possible when you commit crimes of violence against others. Men who bash their partners should be unable to be All Blacks, or Black Caps, or Black Sticks, or Tall Blacks or any other kind of athlete which means they represent people from this place.
Because if you bash women, you don't represent all people from this place.
I don't care if those sportsmen still get to play professional sport. It's a different argument for me. But I don't want to see another All Black representing me with a violence conviction for using their huge, muscular bodies to hurt their partners and get what they want.
I doubt I'm alone in that. So come on All Blacks - is this OK or not?
Monday, 22 April 2013
however. i'm suddenly liking masterchef australia a whole lot less, and this promo would be why:
"destroy the joint" have decided to campaign against the ad & i really hope they get some traction. the poll at the bottom of this article (if we can give any credence to this kind of poll) shows an overwhelming majority of people thinking the ad is sexist, which is probably more a result of the DtJ campaign than anything else.
but what's worrying is that some marketing/advertising people somewhere thought that this campaign was somehow a good idea. i bet they're related to the people who thought up the latest stupid beer commercial airing on tv, which i'm not going to bother to describe further because it just makes me feel sick.
while it was great to see marvel withdraw their sexist t-shirts, sometimes it seems like a small win in an overwhelming tide of awfulness. nonetheless, if you have the energy, here is the masterchef facebook page where you can register your views about this particular campaign. given that they've been so open to diversity, maybe they can get around to stamping out the sexism in this particular ad.
Sunday, 21 April 2013
I had a few Hand Mirror readers send me form responses to emails they had sent directly to Marvel after the post earlier in the week, despairing of change.
Great to be reminded that companies that exist to make profit don't like negative feedback on producing sexist crap.
Friday, 19 April 2013
Thursday, 18 April 2013
Wednesday, 17 April 2013
The timing was almost too beautiful to be true. I grew up with the homophobic hell Thatcher's Section 28 caused. There could not have been a more symbolic end, one era buried, another beginning.
Over the past week, I've seen arguments that those of us who celebrated Thatcher's death should be focused on the collective, not the individual, on empathy and love rather than hate. I have rarely seen more empathy, more love, more solidarity.
Utah Phillips said "Yes, the long memory is the most radical idea in this country. It is the loss of that long memory which deprives our people of that connective flow of thoughts and events that clarifies our vision, not of where we're going, but where we want to go." That is an idea that transcends national boundaries. A friend - born several years later - has been learning with growing horror about the 1981 Hunger Strike. A colleague was good enough to put up with me ranting about S28 to her on the bus this morning, and she responded with stories of supporting her queer whanau. People have been remembering those they knew - and those they didn't - who did not survive those years. In this symbolic occasion, we have been remembering, sharing, and knowing we can fight together.
It's not that Thatcher's legacy is over. On the contrary, the systematic destruction of the welfare state is in full and vicious swing. I'm not so naive as to think that the death of an elderly woman, however evil she was, is going to make much of a direct impact on the world.
It's not that marriage equality is the be-all and end-all. I don't believe this is the most important issue where sexual and gender diversity are concerned, not with the levels of youth homelessness, not with the violence trans women face in male-designated prisons. I hope the energy directed towards marriage equality will continue in other struggles.
It's not that the world has dramatically changed in this one evening, even though it has on a personal level for me. It's that it can, and will, change. It's that even when something is so pervasive that there seems no way of fighting it, we can, and we will, and one day it will crumble.
And sometimes, just sometimes, we win.
Tuesday, 16 April 2013
An important legal case can put a previously unknown individual into the spotlight and maybe even make them a household name. It can also be a way for one person to symbolise the experience of hundreds of thousands of others.
It's a continual journey, this path of grief. It strikes me at odd moments. I wrote several years back about the hole inside me and how I hoped the edges would be less raw with time. I think most have smoothed, but there are still the odd jagged bits that catch from time to time on the spikey parts of life.
This last year has been less about the absence of Dad and more about how things would have been different if he was here. There was the dispute between two of his old friends which my father would have sorted, but he isn't here so it festered and one of the parties died too so now it will never be resolved. In a selfish sense, there's stuff around my house that needs fixing which I know Dad would have helped with. And there's the discovery that my father had another daughter, adopted out at birth and now living on the other side of the planet, a disclosure that came to me instead of him because he wasn't here to get that letter.
Am I still angry? Yes. The injustice is still palpable. I still hate cancer with a burning intensity. But most days I can get on without raging against the dying of that light. Sadness is more where I'm at, and frustration now too, that there are things he should be part of that he isn't here for, through no fault of anyone's really.
We remembered Dad as a family on Saturday night, and I'm hoping that by writing this now I'll be able to put this aside for a few hours at least to be a productive worker bee in the workforce. And then I'm going to take a break and buy myself a new dress I think. To cover up the hole.
Firstly, tonight, Wellington Gay Welfare Group is hosting an event exploring "Suicidality, Our Communities and Authorities Response". More details here. We know the rates of self-harm and suicide are higher for queer and gender diverse people, and it's time our systems of response both paid attention to that, and set about demanding a social environment which would prevent it in the first place. Which means queering our schools, which means removing discrimination, which means representations of queer and gender diverse people everywhere, which means a whole bunch of education. Ending homophobia, biphobia and transphobia, embedded in systems of sexism and cis-sexism which promote harmful, unrealistic gender norms.
Second event on Thursday 18th April, post Marriage Equality passing (and yep, I'll be partying) is hosted by the Human Rights Commission, "Human Rights priorities for intersex, trans and queer people." Details for the Wellington event here but you can join in from other parts of the country too. This event will discuss key issues for our communities, with a view to bringing them forward to the UN Universal Periodic Review.
And finally, from Wednesday 17th April, if you'd like the chance to become street theatre while dressed in a donated wedding dress, come be part of Brides - particularly open to queer and gender diverse peeps. This is a Barbarian Productions event which the organisers describe as:
Bearing in mind the current passage of the Marriage Equality Bill through parliament, Brides asks visitors to come inside and watch / speak / sing / share in a free-wheeling public discussion on the meaning, relevance, and experience of marriage: the ritual, the institution, the dress.
It's going to be a queer old week in Wellie :-)
Monday, 15 April 2013
Sure, there's still that small matter of objectification. Despite capitalism finding new ways to exploit men's bodies, when we pay attention to the typical ways women's bodies are positioned in mass media, it's pretty obvious we're encouraged to view the feminine in ways masculinity is never portrayed.
But somehow, despite the cultural scaffolding which treats women as window dressing for the real world concerns of men, despite the fact I wilfully avoid much media to help myself stay sane and centred, I am still shocked when brand new products are created to reinforce traditional gender roles. Just out from Marvel:
We all need heroes. People that inspire us, help us feel brave enough to honour ourselves in tough situations, brave enough to stand up to other people who are behaving badly. Boys need heroes in quite specific ways - while the majority of men don't hold rape supportive attitudes for example, the majority of men do not challenge other men when those attitudes are expressed, because they are scared of failing the dude test.
Sadly I don't think Marvel are quite that nuanced, and this is just pure sexist crap. Girls are being encouraged, again (and again, and again, and again....) to wait around for some bloke to keep us safe, decide what needs doing and help us with our lives with his big strong muscles and his masculine brain. Boys are being encouraged, again (and again, and again, and again....) to suppress any feelings they may have of wanting to be cuddled or comforted, of being able to cry when they are sad, or not knowing how to do something.
If I needed more of a reminder of why I need feminist space than a joyful weekend with other feminists talking about our bodies, our work, self-care and play, I got it, first thing this morning when this jumped into my inbox.
If it bugs you as much as it bugs me, let Marvel know.