Saturday round-up

// 7 August 2009

A shelter for women victims of domestic violence in Weymouth will be shut in order to provide more funding for women and families to stay in their homes, and because it does not cater to men. Rumbold at Pickled Politics says:

The reasons given were that more families could then stay in their homes, and that the shelter failed to cater for male victims of domestic violence. Both factors are important. Some families are better off staying at home, with help available, while there are male victims of domestic violence. There are still two shelters left in Dorset.

Yet having a women-only refuge is vital too. Some women (and their families) cannot stay at home (either because they have been forced to leave or are not safe there), and so need somewhere to live. Male victims of domestic violence are in the same situation as female ones, but because some of these women have been so traumatised, it is not a good idea for them to be living side by side with men at this stage (and vice versa).

I doubt that the councils involved in the project are completely lean, so I am sure that the money needed to provide home care and a refuge can be found, if the will is there.

Black Women’s Rape Action Project and Women Against Rape have put out a statement arguing that the Welfare Reform Bill will put women and children in abusive relationships in danger, by making it financially and emotionally harder to leave a violent or otherwise abusive partner. Earwicga posts the briefing in full.

sotomayor.gifSonia Sotomayor will join the Supreme Court in the US, after being voted in by senators 68-31.

The image right is via Shakesville and I couldn’t resist re-posting it.

Helen posts at Bird of Paradox about a recent asylum case, where a trans man has won the right to a judicial review of his case and deferral of deportation – Helen looks at the case and deconstructs the frankly appalling coverage of it in the media:

The point is that this is a fairly short news article even though the case itself is notable as the Home Secretary has been made to reconsider a decision to refuse asylum to a trans man. This apparently follows a series of previous decisions to refuse asylum to trans people. In the words of the anonymous asylum seeker’s solicitor, Toufique Hossain:

“The [Home Office’s] acceptance of this case now amounting to a genuine fresh claim is a significant development in the treatment of transgender applicants within the immigration/human rights context.”

You would think there were substantial issues arising from this case that would merit further analysis and discussion. Instead, we have the story picked up by only two tabloid newspapers, each of which displays varying degrees of cissexism and transphobia in its coverage. The Daily Express’ treatment is noticeably more offensive, not least for its insistence on misgendering the asylum seeker from start to finish. As if that wasn’t enough, it then quotes a representative of the clearly reactionary TaxPayers Alliance as saying:

“This is yet another example of the myriad of ways in which people can gain free access to taxpayers’ money and residency. While it is right that we are a safe haven for those in fear for their life, the definition of what qualifies for asylum has gone too far.”

High heels are in the news again. If that provokes a weary sigh on your part, you’re not alone. The Telegraph misleadingly reported that “union bosses” at the TUC want to “ban” high heels in the workplace because they’re bad for you and sexist.

The Touchstone blog explains the actual story (h/t to Cath Elliot for the link):

To set the record straight the TUC couldn’t care less whether Nadine Dorries wears Louboutin or Clarks to work, our current policy, which is based on reducing long-term foot problems, is that employers shouldn’t require workers to wear uncomfortable or dangerous footwear. This includes a number of big city institutions and upmarket shops who insist female staff who deal with the public wear slip-on shoes or high heels as part of a dress code.

The new motion on heels has been been put forward to Congress by one of our affiliated unions – unsurprisingly it’s the Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists – and calls specifically for:

“all employers who have dress codes that promote high heels to examine the hazards their women workers face and ensure

that proper risk assessments are carried out, and that where these show the wearing of high heels is hazardous the high heels should be replaced with sensible and comfortable shoes.”

This union is allowed to bring two motions to Congress, and this year has decided that this issue is of practical concern to their members and to the clients they support.

The idea that preventing women from being forced to wear unsuitable clothing to work is sexist is ridiculous. Almost as ridiculous as the idea that anti-abortion advocate Nadine Dorries is suddenly a champion of women’s rights.

Rumbold at Pickled Politics again, this time on changes to immigration policy which would require people who come into the UK on spousal visas “learn English, support British values and do voluntary work in the community.”

The third and most serious problem is that there don’t appear to be any provisions for women (and men) who fall prey to abusive partners. Their only means of support is likely to be the husband, so can they leave them if they know that they will not be able to get benefits any more?

The Daily Mail was salivating over the proposals, with its sub-heading reading “Crackdown on 80,000 immigrant wives with free pass to Britain.”

grapefruit.gifYoko Ono’s art-primer-thought-experiment of a book is reviewed over at Deeply Problematic, by Cara of the Curvature. It’s the first in a series of posts, 50 books for problematic times, launched in response to a Newsweek top-50 book list meant to explain “these modern times”. Deeply Problematic points out this list was:

84% white, 78% male, 96% straight, and 66% both white and male, and that is not relevant to these modern times

Cara says:

Grapefruit is an amazing primer to Ono’s artistic style and thought process, and still one of her best works. For her, ideas are art, and art is entirely about audience participation. Some of those ideas are utterly hilarious. Others are incredibly solemn. All are thought-provoking. You’re not actually intended to perform most of the pieces, at least not physically. Most of it is head work. And it’s capable of opening you up to a new way of abstract and idealistic form of thinking.

Make Fetch Happen calls attention to an ad campaign by Diesel – see her blog for the photos:

I honestly don’t know what to think of these. The phrase that keeps coming to my mind is “Girl, you need to call your people to come and get you!”

Don’t get me wrong, Ariel is beautiful and has a great figure for lingerie but personally speaking, I’ve never fantasized about at clothing optional party where I’m the only chick present in the shot and a white guy who looks like European Jesus rubs lotion on my belly. Call me old-fashioned. There are more photos at the Diesel site featuring two white female models in their skivvies but their booties are unmolested.

(via Racialicious)

Meanwhile, young-adult fiction writer Justine Larbalestier writes at Racialicious about why her protagonists are not white:

It was the response of my readers that got me thinking hard about representation. Now those questions are foremost when I write.

Thus when I sat down to write How To Ditch Your Fairy I already knew none of the characters would be white. I also knew that I was writing a somewhat utopian world* in which race and gender were not the axes of oppression that they are in our world. Female athletes having as strong a prospect of making a living at their sport as a boy is clearly not true in our world, but it is in the world of HTDYF. Nor is there any discrimination on the basis of race. But there is on the basis of class and geography. (I was not writing a perfect world.)

Not many people noticed, or if they did, they didn’t mention it to me, but I was dead chuffed by those who did. Thank you.

*In some ways it’s very dystopian.

Incidentally, Addicted to Race had an interesting podcast recently which talked about the controversy surrounding the cover on another Larbalestier novel, Liar – the publisher put a seemingly white girl with long straight hair on the cover, even though it’s about a black girl with short natural hair. It’s a really good discussion, which ranges beyond just this discussion to talk about marketing (or lack thereof) of books to people of colour, and street lit.

Over at Comment is Free, Jo Swinson from the Liberal Democrats explains the party’s proposals on use of photoshop, among other things:

We need to inject more realism into the media’s portrayal of women (and men). We should protect young boys and girls from unnecessary body image pressure, so retouching models should be banned for adverts aimed at children. For the rest, the advert should be honest and upfront about how much digital manipulation has taken place. Real-sized models should be promoted.

Young girls should be encouraged into healthy lifestyles through education, with modules on media literacy and body image alongside health and wellbeing. Current high teenage dropout rates from sport should be addressed by a wider range of exercise options at school, such as dance, yoga and aerobics.

These proposals are part of the Liberal Democrat policy paper Real Women, which also has new ideas to help women in the areas of work, family life, money and safety.

Women have enough on their plates juggling caring responsibilities with work and home life. Let’s at least take “get an impossibly perfect body” off the to-do list.

Director John Hughes has died aged, and there have been a succession of posts assessing his legacy and talking about the impact of his films.

Alison Bryne Fields talks here about how she and John became pen pals when she was a teenager. I agree with Melissa at Shakesville – recognising that some of his films are problematic, I also feel affectionately towards some of his characters.

Leo at butch girlcat talks through why it is that people are so keen to deny that oppression and discrimination are at work in individual instances:

How can someone really take homophobia/racism/classism/sexism seriously if they only concede it as an abstract concept and deny it, and blame the victim, in every immediate circumstance in their lives?

Via What Tami Said, the trailer for Chris Rock’s new film ‘Good Hair’:

She discusses some of the potential problems with the film here, though.

Guest blogging over at Feministe, Audacia Ray posts about The Line, a documentary about consent by Nancy Schwartzman:

THE LINE trailer from Nancy Schwartzman on Vimeo.

I was really taken with her project, which is not just a documentary about sexual boundaries and the line of consent, but also an autobiographical project about a date rape she experienced, the reactions of her friends, and the eventual (on hidden camera and included in the film) confrontation of her rapist. When I taught my intro to human sexuality course at Rutgers University at Newark last fall, I asked her to be a guest, screen her film, and talk with my students about consent. It was pretty amazing and intense, in a way that I wasn’t entirely equipped to deal with (as an aside, the biggest thing I’ve learned about teaching a sexuality course at the college level is that it is crucial to provide resources and potential avenues of support for students for whom difficult stuff comes up).

My classes at Rutgers tend to be pretty gender balanced, racially and ethnically very mixed, and not at all the gender studies crowd – my students take the class because it fulfills an undergraduate science requirement. This means that the class is generally heterosexual and cisgendered (and has a lot of trouble tangling with the concept of cis), but they’re also eager to discuss sexuality in depth, in ways that most of them have never had the opportunity and invitation to do.

Nancy handled the screening and conversation afterwards with grace and aplomb, and we really dug into the idea of consent and crossing the line, and we especially talked about men and responsibility. We talked about the idea of enthusiastic consent, which Heather Corinna writes about so well in her piece on Scarleteen, How You Guys Can Prevent Rape.

Read the whole post here.

The Colbert Report satirises the (pretty outrageous!) case of a 17-year-old in Virginia, in the US, who was suspended from school for 10 days and threatened with explusion for taking birth control:

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Nailed ‘Em – War on Birth Control
www.colbertnation.com
Colbert Report Full Episodes Political Humor Meryl Streep

minaturebrides.jpgJezebel posts about a new trend for wedding photos, where the bride is shrunk down to lilliputian scale.

As part of Bitch Magazine’s ‘Rave On’ series, Anne Elizabeth Moore talks about the Dirty Plotte comics. (I’ve got plenty of Julie Douchet books on my bookshelf too, incidentally.)

Dirty Plotte was absolutely about gender roles and sex and people who looked like me trying to get by on a day-to-day basis alongside men who didn’t give a shit about your raised consciousness. In underground cartooning—as well as in the kind of writing and artwork that I do—there was never any hope of gainful employment. So the “equal rights” argument didn’t apply—and still doesn’t. Sexism just occurs on a much deeper level than that.

Mikhaela Reid has posted another Your Yucky Body comic, this time about the “shape” issues of women’s magazines (“You don’t have to be size-zero, as long as you’re on an entertainingly humiliating diet!”)

Jane at CiF considers media tendancy to dissect Madonna’s body:

When friends have asked me whether I find Madonna’s lucky charms attractive my response is this: my view is irrelevant. Madonna’s body is none of our business. What’s the payoff for the negative comments about other women’s bodies? And why do intelligent women engage in this competitive badinage? Perhaps it’s easier to point fingers at women who upset the restrictive social contract to be conventionally pretty than to address our own shortcomings.

Here’s another thought. Envy. Much of what underscores the pot shots at Madonna is the fact that she’s a woman who seems to have it all and we’re jealous. The truth is we can’t possibly know if she’s happy or fulfilled but we’re encouraged to buy into the lie that we need money and things to make us feel good. If we lack these we feel resentment towards those who don’t.

I’ll end with the observation that film-maker CampbellX makes about the inimitable star. “Every time I see Madonna, I see an example of how hard work, determination, focus, and surrounding yourself with right people can triumph over having innate musical talent. I admire her for THAT. She can’t sing, though.”

Comments From You

Rumbold // Posted 9 August 2009 at 2:54 pm

Thanks Jess. It is increasingly clear that the immigration minister now simply says whatever the Daily Mail wants to hear.

earwicga // Posted 9 August 2009 at 5:21 pm

Thanks for posting the ColbertNation vieo – made me chuckle, satire is a great weapon!

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