Monday, May 21, 2007

Please Update Your Bookmarks and Feed Subscriptions

Here's the new link again:
Main page | Feeds

The blog move is now complete, even without being able to port the comments over from ##$*&^@!!! Haloscan. Those comments threads will stay here and be linked from the posts at the new blog.

Barring disaster, this should be the last post at this blog. I shall have the LJ feed updated to receive posts from the new site ASAP.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Moving the blog

I wanted some more flexibility with the layout, particularly I wanted some static pages, so I've ported all the posts over to - the new link is

Please hop on over and let me know what you think. This blog isn't going anywhere, especially because I can't figure out how to port the Haloscan comments over. But all the posts here are duplicated over at the new site, and hopefully all the material will be easier to navigate for you all.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Feminism Friday: Rape Jokes Aren't Funny

Late, I know, and not much from me: I'm just pointing you at these three posts below from Melissa McEwan at Shakesville.

Trauma-Trigger Alert: Melissa describes her own rape in harrowing detail in order to point out how rape is not funny, and although the discussion threads start out thoughtful and interesting, they end up invaded by shockjock fans who troll the thread with graphic threats of rape directed against Melissa and other commenters.

Aren't we feminists lucky, we get some cyberbullying to go with the defense of rape jokes as well!

Melissa has decided not to delete them in order to show just what sort of threats these jerks perceive as "jokes" that we "need to get a sense of humour" about.

Rape Is Hilarious

Rape Is Hilarious Part II
Rape Is Not Only Hilarious; It's No Big Deal

Kate Harding has a great post in response to the cyberbullying. Let those folks read it who claim that men bloggers get flamed and threatened just as much and as creepily as women bloggers. Suuurrrre they do.

As usual for Feminism Friday, feel free to leave a link to recent Feminism Friday posts from other blogs in comments - your own or others.

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Monday, May 14, 2007

Belated Weekend Roundup Roundup

Apologies, I've been trying to sleep away a headcold. Here's some other people's roundups of recommended reading this week.

Feministing's Weekly Feminist Reader

Carnival of Radical Feminists - this is a bit later than planned, because Heart put so much work into setting the stage for what radfem is and isn't and what radfems have achieved as she introduces the festival. Some thoughtprovoking reading about Women as a Colonized People, with specific areas of colonization highlighted. You don't have to agree with every aspect of radfem theory to find the posts here highly valuable.

Lauren (Faux Real Tho): Things Your Mother Guilt Trips You Into Reading

Last week I missed the 22nd Carnival Against Sexual Violence and for a broader view of anti-oppression writing and activism, Blogging Against Disablism.

Feel free to use this post as an Open Mothers' Day reading thread as well - any posts about Mothers' Day that have a feminist or anti-feminist slant you want to highlight, leave a link in comments, please.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Call for links: debunking the malicious stuff

Mandolin had a suggestion I'd like to highlight and get some input on:

Andrea Dworkin/Germaine Greer/someone else said something complicated, and I have a reductionist summary of that which comes out to "men hate women" / "all sex is rape" / "something else catchy" ... why am I wrong? Only, competently stated.

The competent concise statement is always the tricky part, but I though while I'm working up to that some links to specific debunkings would be useful. Here's my favourite for debunking the "MacKinnon/Dworkin said all sex is rape" myth.

RadGeek (Geekery Today): Misquotation in Media: Catharine MacKinnon never, ever, ever, ever said “All heterosexual intercourse is rape.” Ever. Ever. (posted 19 February 2006)

Elizabeth Anderson, in a post quoted by RadGeek, said this:

Here’s a measure of how much a group is despised: how much malicious absurdity can one ascribe to its members and still be taken as a credible source on what they say and do?

So what's your unfavourite piece of malicious absurdity and what are your favourite debunkings of malicious absurdities about feminism?

Thursday, May 10, 2007

FAQ: But men and women are born different! Isn't that obvious?

That idea is known as "essentialism": the belief that there are uniquely feminine and uniquely masculine essences which exist independently of cultural conditioning. Both actual (minor) and alleged (major) differences between the sexes have been used to justify inequities and constraints which harm women emotionally, financially and physically.

Even where (and if) such differences do exist, why should such differences justify sexist oppression? *

Biological determinism is one form of essentialism which has been used to argue for male superiority for all of recorded history: that men are naturally stronger, smarter, more rational and more trustworthy and thus are entitled to rule both politically and domestically. The more science discovers about biology the more this male biological superiority is shown to be utterly without foundation: for any quality measured there is far more variation among the group of all men and among the group of all women than there is on average between individuals of opposite sex.

A common corollary belief is that while men are physically and rationally superior, women are morally superior. At times influential groups of both men and women, both feminists and anti-feminists, have subscribed to this view. It is equally without evidentiary foundation, and has often been used to give women a sense of power in the role of morality enforcer which acts to support the larger social system of male dominance (and which especially excuses the male sexual exploitations of women as due to a baser moral nature which can't be changed, but which "good" women have the duty to "tame").

Masculine and feminine traits have been culturally placed in opposition to each other, and claimed to thus complement each other and result in harmony when men and women are constrained within the accepted sex roles. Masculine roles differ across societies, but are always portrayed as not only different from but also superior to the feminine. Women and men who transgress the boundaries of the accepted sex roles are considered "not real" men/women, and usually denigrated and sometimes abused and punished by outraged defenders of normative sex roles. It is this rigid ghettoising of masculine and feminine, and the assigning of superiority always to the masculine, that feminism challenges.

* Spot-the-strawfeminist: It is often claimed that feminists say there are no differences between men and women, by people who tend to condescendingly point to women's chest area as they "debate". Rubbish - feminists are, on the whole, not blind. What feminists say is that neither the size of the fatty glands on one's pectoral muscles, nor whether one's reproductive organs are innies or outies, are indicators of deeper essential differences, and nor such indicators of sexual dimorphism relevant when discussing rights, equity and sexual egalitarianism.

Clarifying Concepts:

Winter (Mind the Gap!): Biological Determinism - A Rant

Kathleen Trigiani - Out of the Cave: Exploring Grays Anatomy - a series of essays ripping the veil off the romanticised submission of Venusians in John Gray's odes to essentialism and thus male dominance, the Mars/Venus canon.

Evidence vs Myth:
A classic debunking from Mark Liberman(Language Log): the popular claim is that women utter 20000 words per day compared to men's 7000 (recently resurrected by Louann Brizendine). A survey of linguistic studies show no such evidence - men and women are found to utter roughly equivalent numbers of words and more often as not the men talked more than the women.

Recommended Reading Offline:
Myths of Gender: biological theories about women and men
By Anne Fausto-Sterling 1992 ISBN 0465047920

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Sunday, May 06, 2007

Weekly Online Reader

The round-up of Roundups.

Ariella Drake: Anti-Oppression Roundup

Kate Harding: Stuff to Read

Of course, the 37th Carnival of Feminists at KitKats Critique and the 1st Carnival of Radical Feminists will be up any minute now at Womens Space/The Margins.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Feminism Friday: using FF101 FAQs for more than blocking derailments

I've just done a bit of retouching to the "Why Was I Sent To This Blog?" post, aka FAQ:I Asked Some Feminists A Question And They Sent Me Here: Why? The main reason I reworked it is because I have both great gratification and some disappointment from how I see FF101 being used to deal with disruptive questioners in feminist discussions.

I'm a bit tentative to put this out there, because not only am I not the high priestess or pope of any feminist anything, I'm not even an anointed acolyte; I have no actual control over how others use links to this blog in their discourse with others (and wouldn't want to) but I do have a vision of sorts, and that vision isn't quite happening.

That vision is that links to the FAQs are potential conversation starters, not just conversation-derailer stoppers.

I'm seeing lots of referrals to the blog from threads where someone is asking 101 questions and disrupting a more theoretically advanced discussion, which is terrific, but I don't think that those getting the referrals, or the lurkers who also click on the link, are being best served by a habit that I'm also seeing.

What habit is that? Dropping a link just to this blog's index page, instead of taking a few moments to check out which FAQ here best addresses the disruptive question and drop a link to that relevant FAQ in the thread. I think it's only fair that when asking people to go and do some homework that a little bit of groundwork gets done by the referrer, otherwise it really does just seem totally dismissive and unhelpful.

It may be hard to avoid seeing questioners you suspect are trolls as worthy of dismissal and unworthy of help in finding the answers, and sometimes you may indeed be right: why bother for "obvious trolls"? But remember, only a small fraction of readers are commenters, and only a small fraction of commenters are trolls. The trolls aren't going to be persuaded, but other commenters and certainly the lurking majority might well be, but only if we feminists are actually persuasive and not just dismissive.

Please consider using the link to the FAQ roundup rather than just the blog alone for questions that seem genuine, or use the link to the "Why was I sent to this blog?" post for someone pouting about their questions not being answered. (I've noticed a couple of people have blogroll links to the FAQ roundup rather than just the FF101 front page, and I think that's an excellent idea, as that's the proper core of the blog.)

Now, the core of the vision, really: think about whether the disruptive questioner actually had the basics of a good discussion starter in the question, if only it hadn't been such a derailer to the discussion already happening. If it was a good question, something that you do actually find interesting or worth addressing separately, then maybe throw up a post which addresses some aspect of what the questioner wanted to know?

That way, if the questioner has actually followed the link here and done some reading, then the questioner gets a chance to be part of a discussion about that without being viewed as a derailer. (Corollary: if it was a really disingenuous question aimed solely at a derailment, maybe a post that dissects exactly why the question was disingenuous, and that indulges in a bit of recreational troll-mockery, might be an equally valid conversation starter). These are the sort of posts that will draw in lurkers to comment who are intimidated by more intermediate/advanced topics, and isn't enticing lurkers to join discussions a big part of the reason for online feminist discussion in the first place?

Obviously, lots of feminist bloggers have no interest in addressing 101 questions at all, and that's a totally valid position. That's another reason this blog exists. If you're a feminist who just doesn't want to deal with introductory stuff ever, I hope you still find this blog valuable for blocking derailments and troll-stopping. But please consider taking the time to find the link to the pertinent FAQ for the disruptive question nonetheless. We may well never win the heart/mind of a single disruptive questioner, but we may well sway swathes of lurkers with just that little bit of effort. We do want to sway some hearts and minds, right?

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Thursday, May 03, 2007

Parenting and reproductive freedoms

Just came across this today:

dreama (Again I Said): of note:parenting controversies edition

dreama has collected some excellent reading (including a post from my co-blogger Lauredhel at my other blog) regarding the ideological and practical struggle against overmedicalised and overcommercialised views of both birth and parenting. Several excellent examples of looking at traditional practises through an evidence-based analysis as well.

When time allows I may well add some of these (or other writings by the same authors) to the Reproductive Freedoms FAQ.

Great resource

Second Wave and Beyond - I just discovered this while following some other links.

The "Second Wave" and Beyond scholarly community, launched in 2006, is an innovative form of electronic communication and research that brings together feminist thinkers, scholars and activists, to analyze compelling questions about feminist activism and theories, define new directions for historical research on this period, and provide a new venue for publishing traditional articles but also for writing and recording this history in ways made possible by the medium of online publication.

There's several links to lists of recommended reading at their Teaching and Research Resources page, which I'm just about to add to the Recommended Reading post from last week.

Latest posts from the new FF101 site