A Thursday round-up!

// 17 December 2009

2009 is not yet finished, but already we’ve got details for next year’s Million Women Rise. Put in your diaries, the London march will take place 6 March 2010. Also please start emailing us the dates of any other actions or events for our calendar!

Can the BBC be trusted with a web page? asks Refusing the default, after the BBC’s Have Your Say asked its readers the question “Should homosexuals face execution?” (since rephrased then retracted).

As the UN climate talks continue in Copenhagen, efforts are underway to get a gendered perspective included in whatever treaty or agreement is signed there. Sara Ahmed puts the points across again about how important it is that the agreement brings gender justice. However, so far the outlook is not good.

Gender CC has been naming “gender champions” to recognise the efforts some negotiators have made towards taking gender into account, so far recognising Ghana, Finland and Iceland.

Yarlswood has been in the news again because of reports of children being sent there. Sokari posts about the situation particularly for children and mothers, over at Black Looks. She also links up this petition calling for:

1. Everyone who wins the right to stay in the UK, no matter under which law or convention, must have the unconditional right to family reunion.

2. Children should have the right to join their mother or father even if they turned 18 before their parents’ asylum claim was settled.

The Telegraph’s victim-blaming reporting on links between alcohol and rape, which totally twisted the results of the research it was meant to be reporting, has won the Best Science Reporting Prize for Error-regretting, says Feminist Philosophers.

stroppyblog posts on the news Peter Tatchell has had to step down as Green party candidate because of brain damage.

Melissa at Shakesville takes on a ridiculous story in the Telegraph, which worries: “An overwhelming 96 per cent of women said they regretted having thrown away a pair of shoes, while only 15 per cent felt sorry at dumping a boyfriend.” Melissa says:

What I love about it is how it’s designed to convey to the casual reader, coming on the heels (pun intended) of the information that women remember their first pair of shoes more readily than their first kiss, that women are callous bitchez who care more about old shoes than old beaus. (Note the heterocentrism, btw.) But of course most people don’t have regret at dumping exes. They’re exes for a reason, after all.

A 12 year old pupil in the US was allegedly raped in the stairway of her school – Jezebel reports on the upsetting and victim blaming comments made by school staff.

Also in the US, What Tami Says posts about a young black girl whose teacher cut off one of her braids. Tami looks at some of the comments left on local media reports about this story, and notes:

reading the comments above made me think of Scrooge’s retort when asked to help the poor during the holiday season. He didn’t see the value. And some folks clearly don’t see the value in nurturing children like Lamya–of cherishing them, treating them like they matter, like they have a future. Some children we treat as innocent blessings. Others, like criminals.

Figleaf considers some interesting research on testosterone.

Birds Eye View are calling for applicants for She Writes, a series of training programme for emerging women screenwriters.

On vintage clothes, Mimi, guest posting at Racialicious considers whitewashing of archival vintage material:

To me, it feels like Meggy renders visible the historical absence of Asians and Asian Americans in American popular culture as fashionable bodies -and through fashion as contemporaneous bodies- and also corrects this absence in creating another archive through which we might imagine otherwise.

Geek Feminism Blog points to an opportunity to nominate recent science fiction and fantasy for awards, particularly if these works: ““assert one’s right to be in the world, even if one is not One Standard Unit Straight White Man”.

Sociological Images points to some interesting and worrying research around the impact of viewing stereotypical images:

even if there were a diversity of photographs, if any of those photographs confirmed pre-existing stereotypes, learning was undermined.

Finally, Dumi Lewis guest posts at Racialicious on being feminism and being an ally:

I tend to prefer to be known as an ally when working against oppression but still oppressing. To me, being an ally is about much more than advocacy on behalf of a group or interests that may not, on their face, appear to be your own. Being an ally is about a commitment to social justice grounded in an understanding of one’s self.

First photo by me, shared on Flickr, second photo of protest at Copenhagen, shows four women holding “no climate justice without gender justice” banner and red umbrellas, third photo of woman holding a sign shaped like the ‘women symbol’, with the Earth painted in the centre, and “reparations for climate debt, justice for women” written on it”, shared by Oxfam International under a Creative Commons license, fourth photo by rrho, also shared under Creative Commons

Comments From You

spiralsheep // Posted 17 December 2009 at 7:13 pm

Bearing in mind Peter Tatchell’s determined suppression of the voices of poc/non-white homosexuals, the very white Green Party might be better off without him as a public representative.

It seems odd that thefword thinks Tatchell’s health is a feminist news issue but didn’t bother to cover his suppression of the opinions of poc/non-white women.

Jess McCabe // Posted 17 December 2009 at 7:24 pm

Well, I included the link because I think it’s sad and might be of interest to readers. I agree he was always a problematic candidate for the Green Party, but it’s still sad this is the reason he’s stood down. It’s true that Tatchell’s politics and tactics have been problematic to say the least. Although it’s a fair critique that there haven’t been all that many posts about this in the past, and we could have done better at covering this issue, there has been some coverage, for example see here and here for some quite critical writing on The F-Word about him.

spiralsheep // Posted 17 December 2009 at 7:55 pm

@ Jess

I appreciate thefword blog, and the diversity you manage to achieve, very much. I know the volunteer posters have neither the time nor expepertise to cover every possible issue.

The deterioration of any human being’s health is, of course, sad.

But the linked post which begins by portraying Saint Peter persecuted “after all the attacks on him from some sections of the left” (doesn’t “some sections” sound like “those people”…) annoyed me for obvious reasons.

I appreciate your response acknowledging the complexity of the issues involved.

Carty // Posted 18 December 2009 at 8:37 am

Once upon a time researchers linked higher levels of testosterone to increased aggression. Not just one study, but thousands of them, all evidencing the same result. Eventually it occured to folks that this was a public relations disaster for males. Hence a thousand articles trying to backtrack and make all the previous research disappear.

All you have to do is ask a farmer what happens when animals are castrated. Hint: they get really, really docile.

childerowland // Posted 18 December 2009 at 9:08 am

Arrgghhh the BBC’s ‘Have Your Say’ page angers me so much! I have seen so many bigoted questions posed on HYS; it actively enables and encourages bigotry. There have been loads of sexist HYS – ‘Should mothers work?’ is one I remember, which of course spawned a load of comments about how mothers who worked outside the home were selfish etc. etc. ‘Should homosexuals face execution?’ is definitely the worst, though. Even I’m amazed they stooped to that level, and I have a very low opinion of HYS.

Jess McCabe // Posted 18 December 2009 at 10:15 am

@Carty Hmm, I’m no expert by any means, but it was interesting that the power of suggestion and what the women in the tests thought about testosterone had so much of an effect. I think we need to be careful of all sorts of biological determinism, just as much when people talk about men being ‘naturally’ aggressive or whatever, as much as women being ‘naturally’ x, y or z. t

Jess McCabe // Posted 18 December 2009 at 10:17 am

@childerowland I never actually look at ‘Have Your Say’, but was really floored that the BBC would do something like that. The ‘should mothers work’ question is ridiculous too. Who’s in charge of that forum, it makes me wonder?!!

figleaf // Posted 18 December 2009 at 3:26 pm

@Carty: oh, testosterone is still implicated in all sorts of stuff. It’s just that now that they’re actually studying it, instead of just making crap up based on gender assumptions, they’re discovering it’s more complicated, and more interesting. The big thing with testosterone in men is that aggressiveness and risk taking aren’t associated with increases but decreases. But just because aggression and risk are undertaken to stimulate production instead of because of an over-supply no one’s saying its not related.

@Jess — what you said about assumptions about biological determinism. The study I linked to (and thanks for linking to my post) suggests culture may play a larger-than-expected role in how we express our allegedly immutable reaction to hormones. That could be a very big deal.

figleaf

davka // Posted 18 December 2009 at 5:05 pm

re your critical writing about Peter Tatchell, your readers might want to look at take this into account when forming their opinions:

Peter Tatchell: Apology and Correction

http://www.rawnervebooks.co.uk/Peter_Tatchell.pdf

Kelly // Posted 18 December 2009 at 6:00 pm

Love that powerful ‘Sexism Hates You’ image.

I think we need to get more women to consider how sexism is hate speech. Defending it, you’re defending the hate of your own gender – the hatred of ‘you’, not just feminists.

Carty // Posted 19 December 2009 at 3:52 am

Thanks for the dismissive attitude, but that article does nothing but conflate two unrelated concepts and in the process, disseminates false information.

It’s actually hard to tell what it is the researchers are attempting to isolate. Are they studying the placebo effect, or are they studying the corelation between testosterone and aggression? Because you wouldn’t do both at the same time, with two variables (an unknown quantity of placebo effecting each subject, in addition to an unknown quantity of testosterone response).

But regardless of whatever it is that they think they are trying to isolate, the test itself never actually tests for aggression, if you bother to read it.

The term “aggression” involves impulse control and unprovoked attack. But in the controlled experiment, the subjects are using their manipulation skills to predict a logical outcome.

“Each woman was paired with a partner (from another group of 60) and played an “Ultimatum game” for a pot of ten Swiss francs. One woman, the “proposer”, decided how to allocate it and her partner, “the responder” could choose to accept or refuse the offer. If she accepts, the money is split as suggested and if she refuses, both players go empty-handed. The fairest split would be an equal one but from the responder’s point of view, any money would be better than nothing. The game rarely plays out like that though – so disgusted are humans with unfairness that responders tend to reject low offers, sacrificing their own meagre gains to spite their proposers. ”

In addition, the subjects were all female, and were given the minimum known quantity of testosterone to have any effect — when administered under extremely stressful conditions. But the test did not replicate a stressful environment.

To top it off, the article then attempts to suggest that this proves testosterone is not linked to aggression, which again, all you have to do is ask a farmer what happens to animals when they are castrated. But that’s too simple, when the repercussions of that explaination is a public relations fiasco for males.

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