The Lady Garden

Tea and Strumpets

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Things we liked, or didn’t like, from around the internet this week:

Via Atheist Pinko Sluts, a refreshingly sane article on the myth of sex addiction:

In thirty-one years as a sex therapist, marriage counselor, and psychotherapist, I’ve never seen sex addiction. I’ve heard about virtually every sexual variation, obsession, fantasy, trauma, and involvement with sex workers, but I’ve never seen sex addiction.

From Penguin Unearthed, The efficient frontier of shoes

All bodies are beautiful. Right?

Haters gonna hate. Here’s how not to care.

On gendered language and talking about sexual violence.

Fat acceptance and the problem of health.

In the Sydney Morning Herald today: The great sex swindle: “There is little evidence of real differences between the male and female brains…”

Something extraordinary which a friend of Deb’s shared on Facebook – a murmuration of starlings.

‘Though perhaps it wouldn’t seem quite so beautiful if it didn’t have Pachelbel’s Canon playing in the background. What if it had creepy music from a horror movie instead?

And that’s it from me (Deb). I’m signing off from The Lady Garden, for work related reasons. Many thanks for Emma and Tallulah and Coley for their company: I’ve loved working with you. Also drinking with you from time to time. Ka kite ano.

Your Guide to surviving the Sevens circle of Hell

Yes, it’s that time again in Wellington. Sevens time. Where packs of dudebros roam the streets, puddles of vomit adorn the city suburbs and those of us who think basically being a shithead is dumb get called snobs. Good times.

Dante’s seventh circle of hell houses, among others, those who are violent against people and property. How very apt. So, my guide for the weekend:

1. Leave town, if you possibly can. This is very short notice, but seriously, wouldn’t a weekend in invercargill be lovely? At the very least, try Petone. There’ll still be some fuckknuckles that have slipped through the cracks, but less en masse.

2. Carry a bat. A big one. For every time someone yells “get your tits out for the boys”, and does not respond to your raised middle finger.

3. If you cannot source a bat, try an actual sevens player. They are big, fast, and the ones I have met have always been appalled by the behaviour their tournament engenders. Such a shame the organisers don’t appear to have the same qualms.

4. Employ mis-direction. Point in the opposite direction and yell “look! That guy is dressed like a couch! Hahahahahahaha.”

5. Try to remember that there are thousands of people who go to the sevens and enjoy it without causing any problems and don’t assault or otherwise harass anyone.

6. If you’re going, try to remember that “the full sevens experience” doesn’t have to involve vomiting, urinating or any other bodily functions in public. It doesn’t have to involve asking women to indulge your fantasies, or otherwise being a gross, entitled fuckwit. It doesn’t have to involve using the security of you and your friends dressing the same to form a pack that simply serves to intimidate and frighten strangers. It doesn’t have to involve “dressing like a slut”, if you don’t feel comfortable with that, and if you do, it doesn’t mean anyone gets to treat you with anything less than respect.

7. Seriously. This is not a nice time to be in the city, if you’re not interested in large crowds of very drunk and excitable people. Last year, several drunk men surrounded me, and demanded I show them my tits. At lunchtime. On The Terrace. A few years ago, I was watching a guy shave his head, being impressed at his dedication to his costume, when he waved the clippers at me, and offered to give me a Brazilian. And not in such polite language. Courtenay Place will be feral and disgusting. Avoid it if you can. If you can’t, do what you need to do to keep yourself safe. Tell people to leave you alone. Enlist the help of whoever you need to, whether it’s the police, your friends, or bouncers. And don’t take any shit from anyone. Be safe, darlings.

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Things we liked, or didn’t like, from around the internet this week.

Blue Milk has an excellent post on the controversy in writing about your children.

Julie Fairey of The Hand Mirror has a great column about the necessity of working to set a living wage in the NZ Herald: Pay fairly and all of society wins.

A comedian who gets it: misogynist jokes…. they’re not funny. And yes, we WILL send you straight to anti-feminist bingo if we need to.

Same old, same old, but with some data to back it up: “John” got better job offers than “Jennifer” despite having exactly the same qualifications. The data comes from science this time i.e. job offers to graduates in science who are looking for lab jobs. So much for “rational” and “evidence-based”.

Thank goodness for that! Via Feminist Philosophers, it turns out that looking at cute animal pictures increases productivity.

Something interesting to end the week. This somewhat stagnant looking pool of water? It’s Jacob’s Creek. I (Deb) took the photo this afternoon when we were on a day trip up the Barossa Valley.

Jacob's Creek

Jacob’s Creek

However, I could have spend much more time taste testing at Elderton’s cellar door – very yummy – and I was delighted to be able to go to Maggie Beer’s Farm Shop. She has a fabulous set-up and have the chance to go there, I recommend it, thoroughly.

A Reasoned Discussion of Trans* Issues. Please.

A brief summary. Suzanne Moore wrote a column in the New Statesman. In it she made what I’ll unhesitatingly call a “poor decision” to invoke the image of a “Brazillian transexual”. People objected. Instead of apologising, she doubled down, and some of the things she went on to say on Twitter were… really appalling. Abuse went both ways.

Good things came out of it. Stella Duffy wrote a post which generated a lot of useful constructive discussion. She followed it up with what I found a much better one, talking about what she’d learned. There was this response. And I found it good to be reminded that it actually wasn’t all that long ago that I didn’t know what “cis” meant, and I hadn’t heard of Transgender Day of Remembrance.

And then Julie Burchill wrote a piece [trigger warning for stunning transphobia] that would be in stiff competition for “stupidest most offensive thing ever to appear outside of 4chan”, and The Observer decided to publish it. Today they undecided to publish it, and of course this being the internet, it’s vanished without trace.

I think the Burchill piece is actually hugely useful. It’s the very simple answer to the question, “Why are these people so angry?” Why did people react so strongly to the Moore piece? Because it was written against a background where people feel okay saying things like:

To my mind – I have given cool-headed consideration to the matter – a gaggle of transsexuals telling Suzanne Moore how to write looks a lot like how I’d imagine the Black and White Minstrels telling Usain Bolt how to run would look.  That rude and ridic.

We know that everything we have we got for ourselves. We have no family money, no safety net. And we are damned if we are going to be accused of being privileged by a bunch of bed-wetters in bad wigs.

On the other hand, this is going to be the last website to pretend there aren’t jerks in any demographic, including trans* activists. I’m not tone-argumenting, it’s just a fact from years of experience at web moderation that the best results come when people try to express themselves reasonably even when they’re offended, and people try to listen and respond even when they’re angry.

People like Burchill and Bindell and Greer and our own Rosemary McLeod should be challenged on their transphobia. Their attitude that it’s distracting from the “real issues” and their refusal to acknowledge their own privilege is… well, it’s ironic to say the least.

But there are a whole bunch of other people, people like Stella Duffy, who are prepared to listen and to learn. We all had to learn at some stage, and we should offer others the same patience and help we needed.

Girl on the Net put it better, talking about a time when she was Called Out by a transwoman:

But I promise you this: I will never deliberately say hateful, horrible things that ignore my privilege and make life harder for you. I will always try to empathise and – if you correct me – I’ll try to clarify what I’m saying, or apologise if I’m wrong. If you tell me about my mistakes I can correct and clarify. If you call me a hateful psycho bitch-whore, I’ll never fucking learn.

 

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Things we liked, or didn’t like, from around the internet this week.

Leading the week, the 56th Down Under Feminists Carnival, hosted by the fabulous Chally at Zero at the Bone. Chally has put together a tremendous set of posts by down under feminists – well worth your time making with the clickie.

Ouch! This has made me (Deb) think long and hard about my grammar-police tendencies: Literacy Privilege: How I Learned to Check Mine Instead of Making Fun of People’s Grammar on the Internet. H/T: BlueBec

Ms. Naughty talks about whether to call her work ‘porn’:

All the other things, the sexism, the dirty adult bookshops, the bad production values… they don’t haveto be what porn is about. That is bad porn. I want to make good porn. I want to take back the word from its unfortunate past and create something new with it. Even if that means I have to add extra phrasing – feminist porn, porn for women, new wave porn, female-friendly porn. The “p” word is what people type into Google every day. As long as we’re stuck with it, I want to own it.

What if we responded to sexual assault by limiting men’s freedom like we limit women’s?

A local coalition of religious leaders, concerned about recent studies showing that an average of 6% of men will commit a sexual assault during their lifetime, and that nearly all sexual assaults are committed by men on their own or in groups, are urging parents not to let their sons go out at night unless they are accompanied by a mother, sister, or trusted female friend.

Bob McCoskrie… marriage equality will lead to polygamy and THE WORLD WILL END! Blah-de-blah-de-blah. Click here if you really must read what he said. Or you could just read what our Coley said: On polyamory and marriage equality.

Something amazing, via Shakesville.

A new persective: Central Park, Manhattan

A new persective: Central Park, Manhattan

Story, and much bigger version of the picture here.

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Things we liked, or didn’t like, from around the internet this week.

Who do you wear makeup for?

Of course! Of course we should make sure that women obsess over their appearances above all else, hate their bodies, and spend their lives running from aging and then pretend that this conversation is all about ‘judging women’. SHUT UP WORLD. This argument is the same one that derails every single conversation about prostitution. “Stop judging me!” ensures that every conversation about male power and sexism is personalized into an “I choose my choice!” concept of female empowerment and twists ‘choice’ into something completely personal and devoid of social and political context.

(I, Tallulah, would point out that I sometimes wear makeup as a defense. Red lipstick is my battle paint. I’m aware that is still buying into cultural tropes about beauty, but I do do it for me. Because it makes Me feel better. That’s not so much “I choose my choice” as “I recognise the patriarchal paradigm in which I live, and I am choosing to indulge it to take what strength I can from it”.

On short skirts and consent and grey areas. (trigger warning.)

Shakesville’s Today in Fat.

But the worst thing is that it didn’t get any better when I left, when I supposedly became free to express myself in whatever way I wished. My happiness at now being able to wear jeans (they had been outlawed for being “too Western”) turned into glee at being able to wear short skirts, low-cut tops, whatever I wanted. But now, again, I was not allowed my own sexuality and instead, that of others was thrust upon me.

My own sexuality is whatever makes me feel aroused, and because I’m a unique individual, the things that turn me on won’t always turn the next woman on.

Strong Female Characters (can we retire that phrase yet?) in real life.

The New Statesman reviews The Year in Sexism.

The US Violence Against Women Act expires. Lest we feel smug, let’s remember what’s happened to rape crisis and counselling services in New Zealand, shall we?

Penny Red on Rape Culture:

Rape does not have to be a fact of life. It is not your responsibility to be cautious, to restrict yourself, to be quieter and better-behaved so that men don’t rape you. If you choose to live your life in fear of male violence, nobody will think any less of you – the fear is pertinent and legitimate, and sometimes there are grave consequences for women who talk too loudly and flirt too much and take too many risks. Yet there are also consequences for those who don’t.

This is pretty great parenting.

The new feminism:

Meanwhile, it is hard to tear the feminist blogosphere away from endless debates about the sitcom Girls and whether “ladyblogs” are, in fact, feminist. A heavy focus on reproductive rights is necessary, but it crowds out much else. Domestic work more often refers to the division of work between career ladder-climbing husbands and wives than to full-time domestic workers. The online world of feminist commentary has made a diversity of voices available, but navel gazing often predominates.

Some great posts and articles on bodies and size and fat. On Feminist Philosophers, what say you found a magic pill for weightloss? Would you take it, even with all the nasty side effects? And via Feminist Philosophers, a link to a post on Fit, Feminist and (almost) Fifty: On feminist philosophy and weight loss. The post discusses an article in feminist philosophy journal Hypatia: if you have access to a university library, you may be able to track down the article. A quote from the article:

“I realized that maximizing my ability to move, quickly, effectively, strongly, was entirely conducive to my feminist aspirations and
activities. I wasn’t aspiring to skinniness or frailty, just the opposite: I wanted to bring strength and vigor to whatever struggle I chose. I wanted to get to my fighting weight.”

The New York Times discusses a recent study which suggests there is a lower mortality risk for people seemed to be overweight. And Echidne has an extended discussion of the study, and of the New York Times article: On Fat And Mortality. The Recent Meta-Analysis.

What makes the debates about fat so very nasty is the moral, even prudish tone. Being fat is seen as a behavioral problem, as a form of moral failure, as one of those deathly sins: greed or gluttony, made manifest. It’s one of the human vices one cannot hide the same way one can hide, say, cruelty or avarice. It’s viewed as ugly. Fat people have no willpower! Fat people are greedy! Fat people are Lesser Than Us Thin People.

All that is over and above any medical arguments about overweight or obesity. It’s the moralizing zeal of others which truly hurts anyone labeled overweight and the odd assumption that one can make those moralizing comments openly because, after all, being fat is bad for you.

Celebrating Christmas with fabulous food

Cross posted

Just in time for Christmas, the NZ Listener served up a dose of food guilt and You Must Diet and food is not for fun and LOSE WEIGHT NOW! To be fair to The Listener, the article avoids saying that fat people are unhealthy (if you are sceptical about this claim, check this story about the non-link between fat and health in the New York Times). However, The Listener story does have an underlying theme of making people feel bad about food, and it tacitly claims that losing weight is just a matter of sufficient willpower. This is despite the magazine having previously run stories on the myths of weight loss (see my summary of the story here), and willpower (long story short – it can be done, but only with huge effort, unless there are structural supports around you).

Whatever. And what a way to cast a pall of nagging tut-tut-tut over a celebration.

So in the spirit of simply enjoying good food and good company, I offer you our Christmas Day menu.

We started the day with Bucks Fizz – champagne version for the adults, lemonade version for the children, although those children who wanted to do so were invited to try some of the former.

Buckes Fizz

Buckes Fizz

For breakfast, we had warmed croissants stuffed with our butcher’s secret recipe homecured bacon, and lightly stewed peaches, still warm from the pan, all drizzled with maple syrup.

Bacon, croissants, peaches and maple syrup

Bacon, croissants, peaches and maple syrup

I made a superb bacon quiche for lunch. I would show you a picture, but we ate it all before I thought about taking a photo. Likewise with the pre-dinner nibbles, alas. Or perhaps not so alas, because the homemade pate, blue cheese, chippies, and homemade hummus were delicious.

This was the main part of dinner.

Brown paper parcel

Brown paper parcel

It’s a whole leg of lamb, studded with cloves of garlic, then rubbed with lemon juice and olive oil, then placed on a bed of freshly cut oregano, and wrapped in baking paper and brown paper. I cooked it long and slow, for about three hours, and I rested it for half an hour before serving it. It was meltingly tender, and flavoursome. The recipe comes from Ruth Pretty.

I accompanied the lamb with asparagus drizzled with lemon infused olive oil, a medley of green beans, broad beans and peas with melted mint butter, and herby Jersey Benny potatoes (best potatoes ever).

Lamb, potatoes, asparagus, legume medley

Lamb, potatoes, asparagus, legume medley

Yummy yummy yummy.

And then there was dessert.

Dessert table

Dessert table

From left to right, fresh cherries, a berry medley, marscapone apricot tart, whipped cream, yoghurt, a strawberry pavlova, and lemon semi-freddo. The pavlova was excellent, crisp on the outside, and soft marshmallow without a hint of chewiness in the middle. The lemon semi-freddo was good too, creamy and tart, and not at all icy. I was very pleased with the way it turned out.

Just in case anyone was still hungry, we finished off with Christmas cake. Lurid Christmas cake.

Bright star cake

Bright star cake

I hope that you ate some wonderful food over the festive season too. Feel free to share.

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Just one thing to read this week – it is immensely sobering, and sad, and triggering. A distressing post about what it is like being a woman in Delhi – “The Subjugation Capital”.

I love Delhi, the city. I love its wide, open roads, its wonderful architecture. I’ve made great friends in Delhi. I went to a wonderful school in Delhi. I’ve also suffered in Delhi. I’m one of millions of women with tales to tell of how Delhi has ground our self-respect and security to dust. General descriptions of harassment can’t adequately describe the horror a woman faces every day in the city. There isn’t a single moment when you’re walking its streets that you can think “I’m safe, I can breathe easy and enjoy the sunshine. What a lovely day!” If you have breasts, you’re fair game. It doesn’t matter who you are, where you’re from, how old you are, you can be a man’s property. You can be used for his gratification. You can be dominated.

Have you noticed how everyone is talking about “the Delhi rape victim”? I (Deb) have. She has been turned into a symbol, not a real person anymore. How about, “the woman in Delhi who was gangraped and beaten”? And now, even more sadly, the woman in Delhi who was raped and beaten so horrifically that she has died.

That’s all.

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Things we liked, or didn’t like, from around the Internet this week.

Eight reasons to end victim blaming. Speaking of, Jill and the Good Men Project. (trigger warnings for both those posts.)

Also, The Pervocracy on the Good Men Project and how most people don’t struggle not to rape (again, trigger warning.)

So when you hear all the totally plausible ways it could have been you, realize: nope, probably couldn’t have been. Most people don’t struggle not to commit rape. Most people don’t have trouble understanding sexual refusal. The vast majority of people go through drunken blunders and miscommunication and bad breakups without committing or being accused of rape, just as the vast majority of people don’t have trouble restraining themselves from torture or murder.

And QoT on the same issue: It’s just so damn difficult not to rape drunk people.

And whether or not it’s actually possible for projects like GMP to succeed. (I – Tallulah – think the part about it being tied to actual achievable policy goals is really important. And might be a way for these projects to work. Surely someone can come up with goals – even if not policy ones – that men’s groups can or should work towards?

In the wake of tragedies like the Newtown shooting, it is natural to seek answers for what caused it. While that is a difficult, if not impossible task, some of the ideas are batshit. Everything from the fact the US has excised God from its classrooms to, of course, the fact that teachers are normally women, and this wouldn’t have happened if there had been some nice strong dudes around to tackle the shooter.)

How to resist food-shaming around the holidays. Personally, I – Tallulah, again – intend to just tell people to bite me, but this is much more constructive.

Today in FFS, via Feminist Philosophers, it turns out that in Iowa you can be fired if your boss finds you too attractive. The seven judges who made that decision? All male.

I’m (Deb) exhausted. See you all on the other side of Christmas.

Guest Post: Cambodia

 (trigger warnings for sexual violence, and…everything. The world is fucked up – Tallulah.)

This guest post comes to us from Jane, who works with an organisation helping girls in Cambodia. More on that at the bottom of the post. She wanted to respond to last week’s guest post.

Your post is sad.  So sad.  But, without wishing to diminish or minimize your experiences in any way at all, reading it just makes me so much more aware of the terrible things that girls in Cambodia are experiencing as I type this response.    Right now.  Girls from isolated rural areas are being sold, often by their parents (because they are hungry and it enables them to feed the boys) with the encouragement of the village elders.  They are sold  for ‘domestic work’, which starts as general all-round slavery and nearly always continues on to rape and sexual abuse.  They are sexual slaves.

These young girls are silenced too.  Their ‘owners’ addict them to drugs so if they run away they have to come back to feed their habit.  They’re taken to another country where they can’t speak the language so they can’t complain or ask for help.  They’re beaten, and humiliated in a horrifying range of ways, their self-respect is crushed so their expectation of a better life dies.

Let’s focus on the positive though.  By speaking out (‘blogging out’?) and by demanding change, we can slowly change things in our own country.  By educating girls and their families in Cambodia we can enable them to resist the approaches of the ‘agents’ the come to ‘recruit’ the girls.  We can give them the tools to provide for themselves, to feel the rewards of working and supporting themselves and their families for a better future.

Let’s look forwards.  Let’s focus on what we can do to change the world, one girl at a time.  If you’d like to join me in doing just that, let me know.  I’d love to have a blog about it, and talk more about the work I do, and/or have email or phone conversations if anyone would like to do that.  You can email me or visit the website if you’d like to make a start!

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