susanreads: my avatar, a white woman with brown hair and glasses (Default)
Dear Channel 4,

Dispatches "Africa's Last Taboo" was an uncomfortable and necessary program to watch, but I noticed that Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga were described as a gay couple. They were sentenced as a gay couple because Malawi's laws don't recognise the existence of trans people, but Tiwonge self-identifies as a woman, according to the South African human rights organisation Gender DynamiX; see http://www.genderdynamix.org.za/content/view/475/204/ for example. It's a pity you couldn't mention that not only people who are straightforwardly gay are being persecuted, and avoid misgendering Tiwonge.
susanreads: cake with "WTF" written in icing (wtf cake)
links refer to rape culture, contain rage:
Polanski freed at the F Word;
C.L.Minou on the same case at Tiger Beatdown

on domestic violence, murder and victim-blaming:
A few thoughts on the gendered coverage of the Raoul Moat story at the F Word
susanreads: my avatar, a white woman with brown hair and glasses (Default)
Starting at the fun end of the spectrum:

I don't remember where I first saw this: Avatar - The Metacontextual Edition, hilarious takedown

Via Hoyden About Town: All the King's Men, about the first female ruler of Otuam, Ghana

From the Science in My Fiction blog: a short story contest for SF responding to a recent scientific discovery (open for entries from April 1 through June 30)

Good news reported at the F Word: Council of Europe adopts recommendation on measures to combat discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity; Helen G writes that this is the first intergovernmental agreement of this nature.

Gosh, is that the time? I think I'll leave the No Fun at All part for another day.
susanreads: stack of books, "so many books" (books)
It's just like the Everready bunny, isn't it? Now we come back to cultural appropriation, from a different direction.

I've got a rotten cold and don't feel up to a detailed argument, so have an outline:

1: Oh, for crying out loud.

2: Original slash is, to a first approximation, written by and for women. Many - the majority, I believe - of the authors are het cis women. The stories are romance, erotica, or both.

Slash has the potential to be subversive, but my mostly-secondhand impression is that it usually isn't.

3: Gay fiction, as it was called in my day (LGBT is what the Lambda Literary Foundation are calling it; other acronyms are available), can be any genre. Its defining characteristic is featuring characters of minority sexuality and/or minority gender, from the viewpoint of someone who knows what they're talking about, unlike the stereotypes we're usually confronted with in the mainstream media.

LGBT fiction might just be written as a romance, detective story, western, SF story etc. with a protagonist the author can relate to, but promoting it as LGBT fiction is inherently political.

4: 2 and 3 are not the same thing.

If slash writers want to win awards, they should roll their own.



In the first post I read about this, Willow disproved a well-meaning but unfounded argument.

[livejournal.com profile] likespring calls out some of the nasty things being said (includes quotations of racism and general cluelessness; I'm using it as a guide to what not to read in the linkspam)

linkspam masterpost
susanreads: stack of books, "so many books" (books)
Remember that anthology of "Mindblowing SF" by white guys? Via Graham Sleight's review at Strange Horizons, I've found an excellent essay on this and two other recent instances of white boys' clubs: Is It Something in the Water? by Athena Andreadis in Astrogator's Logs.
In the vast majority of cases, non-male non-whites are overqualified for whatever position or role they are chosen to fill.  The tokenism excuse has been obliterated countless times ... I think that true equality will come when non-white non-males can be as mediocre as white men.  And when that time comes, I guarantee you that the quality of mindblowing anthologies won’t budge.
 
So, I have a new blog to read! Athena writes about science, science fiction and culture.

Also in ongoing discussions: unusualmusic has a roundup of reactions to the leaked results of the sex testing of Caster Semenya. There's a lot of links I don't want to follow there.
susanreads: my avatar, a white woman with brown hair and glasses (Default)
In case anybody hasn't heard yet: the winner of the women's 800m final at the Athletics World Championships, Caster Semenya of South Africa, is being put through a full battery of "sex tests" by the IAAF.

The supposed justification for sex tests is to do with "masculine advantage", the biological difference in musculature etc. between "typical" men and "typical" women that's correlated with the men's world records being faster, higher etc. than women's (also correlated: a whole lot of societal expectations and other environmental differences). Sex tests used to be mandatory, until the 1990s. The decision to test Caster now is apparently based on the following:
•"She burst onto the international scene out of nowhere" ... but she was in the World Junior Championships last year, which means they had plenty of time to make discreet enquiries if they wanted to.
•"She doesn't look feminine" ... I'll come back to that one.
•"She can't be a woman, she's too good" ... not what they say, but what I hear them implying; I remember that a British paralympian was reclassified so that she'd have had to race against women with more mobility, because her times had improved and somebody claimed she couldn't be as disabled as all that. It's one of those Catch 22 things, where women have to work twice as hard to be considered half as good, but if they really are good, they get their status challenged. The World Championships is supposed to find women who are better at their events than other women, right? Also, Semenya didn't break the world record; if I've understood correctly, someone with a similar build set a faster time last year, without having her "gender" questioned; but she was white, and the appearance thing is at least partly about that.

I don't know what I would have thought if I'd first seen Semenya in the lineup for the final without having already heard people talking about the challenge to her eligibility. As it was, she looked androgynous to me, which is a good look in my book, and also not unusual among track athletes. Part of why I see her that way is because I've only seen her dressed for the track, which evens out most people's personal gender performance except for hairstyle. Her hair is in cornrows, which is apparently not considered a feminine style ... by people who are looking for European/White beauty standards. Another part of why I see her as androgynous is that I'm polluted by those racist expectations too; I'm not used to her features and her hairstyle. I'm not immune to the media constantly telling me that women are of no account unless they have big bouncy boobs and long flowing locks. I'm sure Black women have to work twice as hard to be thought half as womanly (and also that my analogy is full of holes).

The experts involved in the testing include a psychiatrist. Now some of the other stuff is offensively intrusive, but that plain doesn't make sense. Nobody who isn't a frothing-at-the-mouth bigot has accused her of consciously cheating; the "concern" is that her natural hormone levels might give her an "unfair" advantage, a purely medical consideration. What's the psychiatrist for?

I first commented on this at the F Word (as Legible Susan).
The racist appearance standards involved are being discussed at What Tami Said.
The sex-segregation of sports, including ones where there isn't an obvious performance difference, is included in this open thread at Shakesville. Rana's comment "Indeed, I suspect that some of the reasons that sports are sex-segregated is to spare men the possible humiliation of losing to women" reminds me that in the early days of competitive ice-skating, a woman came second and they promptly changed the rules to exclude women, adding the women's events decades later if I recall correctly. That thread also includes women who have high testosterone levels for medical reasons pointing out that it hasn't helped them become world-class athletes.
Mindy at Hoyden about Town points out that athletes of both sexes are routinely tested for steroid abuse but only those competing as women have their identity questioned.

(Edited to fix a typo)

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