dreamer_easy: (*gender)
"This is, in fact, one of the very interesting things about biological investigators. They use the infrequent to illustrate the common. The former they call abnormal, the latter normal. Often, as is the case for [psychologist John] Money and others in the medical world, the abnormal requires management. In the examples I will discuss, management means conversion to the normal. Thus, we have a profound irony. Biologists and physicians use natural biological variation to define normality. Armed with this description, they set out to eliminate the natural variation that gave them their definitions in the first place."
— Fausto-Sterling, Anne. "How to Build a Man". in Roger N. Lancaster and Micaela di Leonardo (eds). The Gender/Sexuality Reader. New York, Routledge, 1997. (This essay blew my freakin' mind.)

This quote is topical given the call by the US Surgeons General to end "corrective" surgery on Intersex infants. The tragic results of John Money's theories about gender are notorious.

dreamer_easy: (*books 3)

"Bandi" is the pen-name of a North Korean writer, whose collection of stories was smuggled out of that country and published this year. I assumed there was a story in the collection with the title "The Accusation"; it wasn't until halfway through the last story, "The Red Mushroom", that I took a look at the contents page and realised there wasn't. So where did the anthology's overall title came from? There was certainly an accusation, a denunciation, in "The Red Mushroom", but it wasn't the centre of that story. Finally it dawned on me: these stories are Bandi's accusation against the North Korean regime, and against Communism, the "red mushroom".

My knowledge of history and politics is pretty weak, so don't ask me whether Communism could work in theory. I only know that, in practice, it's been a catastrophe. In North Korea especially it seems to have become a machine for destroying citizens for the stupidest of reasons, from guilt "inherited" from family members to denunciations over hysterical trivia ("City of Spectres") or for personal gain ("The Red Mushroom").

More than once I thought of the dystopia of Orwell's 1984 - but there is a difference: as Kim Seong-dong's Afterword remarks, the fact that there are prose writers and poets whose writing criticises the regime suggests the possibility and hope of the regime's end. Some of Bandi's characters come to realise that the system they're living under is unfair and corrupt, and recognise their collusion, voluntary or involuntary. Although they can never say it aloud, just the fact that they understand this, as resistance writers like Bandi do, suggests that, as Kim Seong-dong remarks, "cracks" are appearing what seemed like "an impregnable fortress".

While Bandi's stories deal with the concrete day-to-day struggles of North Koreans, Han Kang's anthology The Vegetarian, set in South Korea, seems much more internal and psychological. However, Kang is also making an accusation. The eponymous story is, I think, the strongest, telling the story of a woman who suddenly refuses to eat meat. "The Vegetarian" is told by the woman's exasperated husband, who is baffled and enraged by his wife's inconveniently odd behaviour, as are her family and his business associates. We get glimpses of the nightmare that haunts her, with hints that she feels complicit in her father's abuse. She swallowed that abuse for years; suddenly she can't swallow any more. It's a terrible indictment of some of the worst aspects of South Korean society, its patriarchy, its enforced conformity. To me, the first story was so impactful that the other two stories in the collection, which follow on from it, feel like unnecessary extensions. (I have Han Kang's novel Human Acts and look forward to reading it.)

dreamer_easy: (*gender)
Domestic Violence: Aboriginal women ask Australians to pay attention to assaults and murders (ABC, 11 July 2017)

A third of assault patients in Australia female: study (SMH, 19 April 2017). "More than half of all women and girls who end up in hospital being treated after an assault have been attacked by their partners."

Bid for paid domestic violence leave rejected (SMH, 3 July 2017) "A full bench of the Fair Work Commission said it has taken the "preliminary view" that while it is necessary to make provisions for family and domestic violence leave, it had rejected an application for 10 days of leave to be covered under all modern awards for all employees."

'Once a girl is married, there is no going back' (ABC, 29 July 2017). "It's a type of domestic violence you probably haven't heard of: dowry abuse. Some Indian-Australian men are using their desirable status as residents to extort thousands of dollars from the women they're marrying, with threats and violence if their escalating demands aren't met."

'Submit to your husbands': Women told to endure domestic violence in the name of God (ABC, 18 July 2017) | How to navigate the research on domestic violence and Christian churches: A few frequently asked questions (ABC, 24 July 2017)

Exposing the darkness within: Domestic violence and Islam (ABC, 24 April 2017) | Muslim women unite to encourage daughters to have healthy relationships (ABC, 26 April 2017) NB: "There's no evidence that suggests domestic violence rates are higher among Muslim women than the broader Australian community."

Domestic Violence: Family Law Act plan could see end to alleged perpetrators cross-examining accusers (ABC, 17 July 2017)

Abortion laws making it harder for women to escape domestic violence, expert warns (ABC, 21 June 2017)

Domestic violence: Report finds 'clear link' between media reporting and understanding of issue
(ABC, 30 June 2017). "Our Watch CEO Mary Barry said the way journalists frame individual stories can have a major impact on public understanding. 'Blaming victims for the violence inflicted upon them, for instance, still happens in one in six articles about violence against women,' she said."

BOSCAR data showing rise of domestic violence by women 'not giving the full picture' (ABC, 22 June 2017)

Domestic violence survivors should get early access to super, HESTA says
(ABC, 20 June 2017)

Universities spend millions preparing for wave of sexual assault reports (SMH, 22 July 2017). "Australian universities will spend millions of dollars on counselling services as 'a wave of victims' are expected to come forward following the release of the world's largest report into sexual assault on campus." The AHRC survey of tertiary students will be released on 1 August.

Texas slashed funding for Planned Parenthood and ended up with more teen abortions (ThinkProgress, 17 July 2017)

Rural women 'bullied' into caesareans amid doctor shortage (ABC, 16 July 2017)

Introducing use-it-or-lose-it leave for fathers would make life fairer for mothers (ABC, 20 July 2017). "Under [Australia's paid parental leave system], the primary carer is eligible for up to 18 weeks' pay at minimum wage, nine times more than Dad and Partner Pay, which is two weeks at minimum wage."

CWA members hope washable sanitary pads will give isolated women freedom to learn (ABC, 13 July 2017)

Islamophobia: Women wearing head coverings most at risk of attacks, study finds (ABC, 10 July 2017)

Explainer: Why do Muslim women wear a burka, niqab or hijab? (ABC, 23 September 2014). Explains the difference between different kinds of coverings.

How can Muslim feminists reclaim their religion from men? (ABC, 1 May 2017)

Catcalling and street harassment is happening more often than you might think (ABC, 22 June 2017)

The woman who was charged with murdering her wife (ABC, 5 September 2012). The historical story of transman Harry Crawford.

This is topical, given the Tweeter-in-Chief's latest announcement: Witch-hunts and surveillance: The hidden lives of LGBTI people in the Australian military (ABC, 24 May 2017)

Intersex and proud: model Hanne Gaby Odiele on finally celebrating her body (GA, 23 April 2017)

A Queer Gods Ritual: An Introduction to the Queer Ones. I was pleased to find this again, so I'm leaving it here.

Good grief, there's so much more. It'll have to wait for another posting.

dreamer_easy: (Default)
"There are some other, often overlooked ways that many of us can do more to confront our inner Trump—something, anything, that’s just a little bit Trumpish in our habits... Maybe it’s the part whose attention span is fracturing into 140 characters, and that is prone to confusing “followers” with friends... Or maybe it’s the part that can’t resist joining a mob to shame and attack people with whom we disagree—sometimes using cruel personal slurs, and with an intensity set to nuclear. At the very real risk of bringing on the kinds of attacks I’m describing, is it possible that this habit too is uncomfortably close to the tweeter in chief’s?"

(There's a lot more to Naomi Klein's essay Daring to Dream in the Age of Trump, which I commend to progressives (and SF writers), but inevitably this caught my eye. The online "social justice" bullying I often decry is just one subset of the Left's terrible habit of attacking itself instead of its enemies.)

dreamer_easy: (Default)
Reading the March 2016 issue of Australian Book Review on the treadmill and hit the same theme in two unrelated reviews: the intrinsic worth of things.

"[Stanley] Fish feels little need to justify scholarly work by utilitarian standards... Criticism of obscure scholarship and arcane language, he observes, aims at the humanities; similar approaches in economics or engineering get a free pass, because these subjects are presumed to possess instrumental value." (Glyn Davis reviewing Think Again)

"[Nicholas Birns] suggests that it [neo-liberalism] is a synonym for what Australians call economic rationalism - simply put, the valuing of all human effort in terms of money and profit, success and failure... Birns argues that writing - particularly contemporary Australian writing - is one of the last bulwarks against neo-liberal dominance. Imaginative writing... offers ways to 'conceive life differently than merely valuing one another by our financial conditions'." (Susan Lever reviewing Contemporary Australian Literature)

To a list consisting of scholarship in the humanities and imaginative writing, I'd add environmentalism, religion, and human rights as loci for valuing human beings and human work for something other than their dollar value. In the imaginative writing department, science fiction has important work to do, particularly in portraying alternatives to a present and a future we're being sold as inescapable.
dreamer_easy: (*books 3)
"The science of automation has surely reached the point where your company could design a machine... that would correct galleys."

"... such a machine would require that the galleys be translated into special symbols or, at the least, transcribed on tapes. Any corrections would emerge in symbols. You would need to keep men employed translating words to symbols, symbols to words. Furthermore, such a computer could do no other job. It couldn't prepare the graph you hold in your hand, for instance."

— Issac Asimov, "Galley Slave", 1941. irl ASCII was two decades away. In the future of US Robots and Mechnical Men it was apparently still a distant dream. :)
dreamer_easy: (Default)
Movie Poster

What goes up must come down. I'm feeling pretty awful right now. Nothing to do but get on the sofa, fire up Stan (which we have at the mo for Twin Peaks), and see if they have any Korean movies. Not many, but there's something called "Age of Shadows". Oh, and Lee Byunghun's in it - one of my favourite Korean actors (and a honey to boot). And - a particular shot through a car's windshield gave this away - it's directed by Kim Jee-woon, whose work I admire, if perhaps not exactly like.

The movie (its Korean title is 밀정 "Spy") is set during the Japanese occupation of Korea. The main character is a Korean working for the Japanese police. From the start, he's played as unexpectedly sympathetic; the plot hinges on whether this double agent will eventually choose one side over the other.

The direction is elegant and sometimes beautiful. It's a visually striking period (compare The Mystic Nine), with so much Western influence alongside traditional Korean and Japanese dress (spot the gat in the courtroom scene). I wonder if the handful of white faces in the movie are there for exotic colour! (I wondered this about Mystic Nine, too.) The action extravaganza that opens the film typifies this, with dozens of Japanese police in Western-style uniforms swarming through the streets and over the tiled roofs of Seoul like black ants. The use of Ravel's Bolero later in the film was hair-raising! There's a far bit of blood and a severed toe, but nothing like the rivers of gore in "A Bittersweet Life" by the same director.

In most but not all of the Korean movies I've seen, women have been marginal (this may partly be because I've seen so many gangster movies!) - the story revolves around relationships and questions of loyalty between men. Given the content of "I Saw The Devil", in which naked women are literally cut into pieces and consumed, on the whole I'd rather Kim Jee-woon left female characters out as much as possible. In that film, as in "Age of Shadows", women suffer in order to motivate the men; the fiance of the hero of "I Saw The Devil" (Lee Byunghyun again) is literally fridged so that he can pursue the cannibalistic baddie for private vengeance, getting two women sexually assaulted in the process (there's an unforgiveable shot of a schoolgirl's body as the cannibal molests her); in Kim's movie "A Bittersweet Life", the female character is caught between a gangster boss and his underappreciated lackey (Lee Byunghyun again - are you seeing a pattern here?). To come back to "Age of Shadows", Yeon (Han Jimin) is given a badass moment before being tortured and dying to feed the guilt and grief of our heroes. At least the director didn't get her waps out.

I've seen enough Korean movies now that I'm starting to recognise actors from other things. The lead, Song Kang-ho, was also in Shiri, Joint Security Area, and The Good, the Bad, the Weird. (Yoo Gong, on the other hand, is in things I haven't seen yet, like Train to Busan and the Kdrama Goblin.)

Well, my mood can't have completely collapsed if I have the energy to write this. The movie took me out of myself, for which I am duly grateful. Now perhaps an episode of 파수꾼 ("Lookout" / "Guardian").
dreamer_easy: (*writing 7)
I've read a chapter and a short story recently with Japanese settings (one modern, one mediaeval), both written by Westerners, both of which struck me having a stiff and artificial style which I want to avoid in my own fiction. I don't know Japanese culture well enough to nitpick the research, but in the case of the modern one in particular the details seemed intrusive and anachronistic. I've just realised now, typing this, the possible problem with both narratives: they're told by non-Japanese writers from the POV of Japanese characters. I have read enough to know that an actual mediaeval story in translation, or a chapter written by a modern Japanese writer, would sound quite different. It's another reason to stick to (for example) non-Korean characters' POVs in stories where I use Korean characters or setting: as a monoglot with a very limited experience of the world, I cannot write authentically from inside another living culture. (I may eventually be able to get across the flavour of a historical Korean narrative, but I have an awful lot of reading to do first.)

(I've just been reading a dirty manga to which I decline to link you, but it comes with wonderful notes by a fan translator, who explains the extra meanings conveyed by the author's choice of kanji. It made me think of sign language, which can pack in so much more information in the same amount of time it takes to speak the equivalent sentence in English. I suppose the only way English can compete at all is with its gargantuan vocabulary.)
dreamer_easy: (*feminism)
(Wow these have backed up. I'm adding relevant ones to my posting on my recent experience of the "social justice" dogpile.)

Explainer: what is Safe Schools Coalition? (The Conversation, 19 February 2016)

Bullying can have long-term damage, but can be overcome (SMH, 1 February 2015) The "what to do if you're being bullied" section of this advises not showing anger, but I have to say displaying my rage has been a very useful tool, both for my own psychology and in stopping further bullying. Perhaps this because, online, there's often no authority to whom to turn, so you're left with deterring bullies by metaphorically punching them in the balls. (In a similar environment, Neil Gaiman found a punch in the face effective.)

Cyber bullying long-term impacts include self-harm, depression and binge drinking, research finds (ABC, 19 March 2017)

Why it's so hard for women to get justice for online abuse
(ABC, 1 March 2016) | Sydney labourer Zane Alchin sentenced for harassing women on Facebook (SMH, 30 June 2016). Alchin received a twelve-month good behaviour bond because, according to the magistrate "There was a vast overreaction... [which has] caused you to experience a great deal of pain which you didn't deserve."

Studies consider the styles of bullying used by girls and boys - social aggression vs physical aggression.

Bullying in Australian schools is falling, but remains 'unacceptably high' (SMH, 1 July 2016)

Parents say schools blame victims rather than punish bullies
(SMH, 31 July 2016)

Cyberworld: Keeping bullying at bay (SMH, 27 October 2014). "There are some elements of cyberbullying that can make it worse than face-to-face bullying – that it is there permanently, and the fact that it reaches an enormously wide audience in a very, very quick time."

Parents and teachers don't notice bullied children (SMH, 23 July 2014) Australian Institute of Family Studies research showed that more than half of parents of bullied children either didn't know about it or didn't recognise it for what it was; and four out of five teachers didn't report it.

This posting is about emotional abuse, not bullying, but it contains relevant wisdom: "If somebody is investing time, resources, and energy into convincing you of your own worthlessness, that same somebody has revealed to you that they have a lot to lose if you don’t believe them. They’re protecting their own loss of power. Which means they perceive you as somebody who can take that power away. If somebody is putting in the work to knock you down, it’s because they’ve got something to fear about you if you’re standing up."

This article isn't about bullying either - rather, it's about the complicated issue of social media, privacy, surveillance, and behaviour.

dreamer_easy: (refugees)
Vigils will be held nationwide on Wednesday 19 July 2017 to demand the detainees on Manus and Nauru be safely evacuated to Australia. The United Nations has called for the immediate evacuation of both camps.

The illegal detention centre on Manus Island will close on 31 October. Services are being closed down in an effort to force refugees out, including food and the gym, which is critical to detainees' mental health. The refugees are being told to go to the Lorengau Transit Centre, where they fear attack from Papua New Guinean locals - with plenty of good reason, given four violent robberies of refugees in the last month. Some refugees are in danger of refoulement. Essentially, the men are being punished for having been illegally imprisoned.

Doctors for Refugees tell the story of a maintenance worker at the Manus Island detention centre who saved a refugee's life by defying the government's gag order.

"The Australian Border Force admitted internally that it failed to respond appropriately to allegations of sexual assault and abuse on Nauru but did not disclose these findings to a parliamentary inquiry."

Despite being recognised as a refugee, Pari, the partner of Omid Masoumali, has been indefinitely detained in isolation in Australia since Omid's terrible death in April 2016. "He was ambitious, intelligent, invincible. But after three years, even Omid was broken." As many as fifty similar suicide attempts and threats of suicide followed his death.

In an excerpt from a compilation of Nauru detainees' stories, They Cannot Take the Sky, Benjamin describes the three years since his arrival with his family at age eighteen. "I wasted all of the best time in my entire life, the time that I was about to make my future happen, the time that I promised myself I would study hard and become the best." He also describes Omid's suicide attempt, which he witnessed.

A severe outbreak of dengue fever on Nauru affected at least one in ten refugees.

The savage damage done to the mind of a five year old refugee girl imprisoned with her family on Nauru has resulted in an out of court settlement. Her family is currently in community detention in Brisbane. Another five year old girl was compensated for similar damage done on Christmas Island.

Meanwhile, a refugee family have been split by detention for three years, with father and son left on Nauru while mother and daughter receive medical treatment in Australia

dreamer_easy: (Default)
You know that thing where evolutionary psychologists come up with explanations for the way things are - "just so stories" which can't be tested, and which make cultural phenomena, usually to do with sex and gender, sound like the innocent products of nature? Well, this isn't an example of that, but I did smile and thought of the evo psych boys when reading a 1998 article on the hemispheres of the brain. The author, Michael S. Gazzaniga, describes the way the brain (specifically the left hemisphere*) will come up with explanations, even when they're nonsense, because one of its jobs is to create narratives.

This is shown with picture-matching tests on epilepsy patients whose hemispheres have been "split", so that they operate independently. Show the left eye (the right brain) one set of pictures, and the right eye (left brain) a different set of pictures: the left hand points to a shovel, which matches a picture of snow, and the right hand points to a chicken, matching a picture of a chicken foot. Now ask the patient why they chose the shovel; the left brain has no idea why the right brain picked what it did, so invents the explanation, plausible but false, that the shovel could be used to clean out the chicken shed. I've read about similar stuff in Oliver Sacks' writing, where, for example, a stroke patient who lacks insight into their condition - a side effect of the stroke damage - will explain they didn't raise their arm when asked because they didn't feel like it: again, plausible, but false.

Gazzaniga writes that even though the brain is "a collection of devices that assists the mind's information-processing demands", "a collection of highly specialized modules", that's not how we feel - our conscious experience is "integrated and unified". He suggests that's because "the left hemisphere seeks explanations for why events occur" (unlike the right brain, which "does not try to interpret its experience"). Pleasingly, that's exactly what Gazzaniga is doing when he puts forward an evolutionary story about the brain - albeit one that could be tested, I think, unlike many of the "just so stories" of evo psych.

* In right-handed people, like me. For simplicity I've stayed with this anatomical set-up through this posting.

Gazzaniga, Michael S. The Split Brain Revisited. Scientific American [no] July 1998 35-39.
dreamer_easy: (*cosmic code authority)
Remember what I was just saying about how this episode of hypomania, and indeed the recent years of my life, have lacked religious feelings? After a badly disrupted night's sleep (I have a cold), and the first in a week without Saphris, I just glanced at a page, saw this Ancient Egyptian hieroglyph, and felt my generator sparking:

It's a sundisc, with rays of light coming down. I know the image from complex diagrams like this one:

The sun god, travelling in his sky-ship, sends down rays of energy that revivify the dead.

I feel like I want to nurture that image. Which would mean nurturing not just positive and sacred feeling, but potentially an elevated mood. Uh oh. How do I stay happy and busy, up but not too far up?

(For those of you who are curious: the black disc in the ship is the sun, with the goddess Maat, representing cosmic order, sitting in the front. Beneath that is the hieroglyph for "sky", with the sun-god's falcon head poking down, emanating what look (to me) like hours of the day and night and general beams of light onto a mummy, which is protected at head and foot by the goddesses Isis (left) and Nephthys. The sun and his rays are also protected by goddesses, in this case Nekhbet (the vulture) and Wadjet (the cobra). This is an image of the dead person safely tucked away in the netherworld, given eternal life by the creator god, and participating in the creator's activities. All is as it should be. The picture comes from the book Egyptian Religious Texts and Representations by Alexandre Piankoff and was redrawn from a funerary papyrus in the Louvre.)

ETA: Aw yiss, this is what I'm talking about. (The rays are turning into multicoloured flowers.)

(The stela of Lady Taperet, also at the Louvre.)

dreamer_easy: (*health)
To counter my jetlag-induced hypomania, my psychiatrist asked me to take Saphris for one week. The goal is to prevent a bout of depression - what goes up must come down. This is the most intense episode I've had since I was diagnosed. Last night was the last dose. The only real side-effects, once they settled down, are that it's intensely sedating - not really a problem when you take it at bedtime - and seriously increased appetite, which is a problem when you're overweight and diabetic.

The symptoms have been the mixed bag you expect with hypomania - agitation, irritability, feeling "crazy" or "out of control", racing thoughts, rumination, increased creativity, somewhat reduced need for sleep, a general sense of well-being. (Nothing in the way of religious feelings, though, which is unusual for me, and distressing. I've missed those for a long time.) The effect of the medication has been to reduce the agitation and "out of control" feeling.

In some ways, right now, I'm in an ideal state - a bit too irritable, but very energetic and busy, bursting with ideas, getting lots done, able to focus pretty well. In fact, except for the missing religious feelings, I'm more or less where I've been trying to get back to for years.

The question is, what next? Will my mood becoming elevated again as a result of stopping the Saphris? As Bipolar Owl reminds us, "elevated mood does not necessarily mean happy". Will the depressive crash hit, or will I gently drift back to earth? Or will I keep sailing along at this ideal level, and if so, for how long?

For the first time, I've been having those dangerous "I feel fine, I don't need these stupid meds" thoughts that I've heard so many mentally ill people talk about. Luckily, precisely because being too far "up" is so unpleasant, I think I'll have the insight to restart the Saphris if I still need it (and contact my shrink to figure out our next step).

The voice am I using in posting this, btw, is one I've invented specifically for communicating online while I'm like this. When I'm hypomanic I tend to be gnomic, as though nothing I say needs to be unpacked or footnoted. (Although I'm not going to explain the title. You can figure that out for yourselves. :)

As I type these words, Jon changed channels on Internet Radio and we caught the last moments of "A Day In The Life". Hmmm.
dreamer_easy: (*feminism)
Ah! A small insight. I was reading some definitions of bullying online, for example at stopbullying.gov, Beyond Bullying, and Bullying. No Way!. Each refers to the power imbalance that is sometimes present between bullies and their targets. A bully may be physically larger and stronger than the target, for example, or be the target's boss.

Where is the power imbalance in "social justice" bullying?* The accused person** has, or is assumed to have, privilege that the group they have offended lacks. When they receive a flood of abusive messages, aren't the people sending them "punching up"?

No, for two reasons. One, perhaps this only reflects my own experience, but "social justice" bullying is mostly carried out by people with similar status to their target: to put it bluntly, it's mostly white girls picking on other white girls. Two, and more importantly: if there are dozens or hundreds or even thousands of them to just one of you, it isn't punching up. That's the power imbalance: numbers. The bullying target may be told, and may believe, that their entire community rejects them***. A situation in which one or a few genuinely upset people confronted the accused person would not be bullying.

Now, the enemies of social justice accuse us of mere "virtue signalling" - of merely saying the fashionably correct thing. A dogpile is exactly that, with the abuse heaped on the accused acting as "social glue": each individual indicates their membership in the group by marking an outsider. "I'm not a racist - she is!" The outbreak of bullying may be triggered by legitimate hurt and anger, but once the dogpile gets rolling, the ratio of sincerity to self-righteousness drops like a stone.

Some of the people attacking the accused may be genuinely upset. But bullies keep an eye out for the opportunity to abuse an "appropriate" victim - someone who "deserves it"****. They know that others will join in, because they, too, are bullies, or because they fear being bullied themselves. Or - and this is what I know I've done myself sometimes - they just let their own outrage fly without thinking. It's the decades-old danger of Internet communication, quick and shallow. Any of us can fall into bullying behaviour just as easily as we can make a thoughtless, hurtful remark about race. We - I - can only take better care online.

* I put social justice into quotes here, not to mock (for example) anti-racism, but because "social justice" bullies misuse anti-racism etc as an excuse for their self-gratification. And also as "social glue": a dogpile is a series of individuals indicating their membership in the group by directing aggression against an outsider. (I once described this, accurately if unclearly, as "hooting and gibbering", in imitation of the angry group display of the siamangs at Western Plains Zoo "threatened" by outsiders - the tourists.)

** Here I say "the accused person", because the bullying target may have deliberately and knowingly said or done something hurtful, may be a clueless or even conscientious person who has said or done something hurtful unintentionally through clumsiness, thoughtlessness, or ignorance, or may not have done anything wrong at all. In the first two cases they are responsible for their actions. In all cases the bullies are responsible for theirs, including (mis)interpreting their target's words and actions in the worst possible light to justify their abuse.

*** Here's a just-so story: the human species has survived by being social. Alone, we're not particularly fast, strong, or tough; we're easy prey. Take away the group and we're dead. No wonder being made an outcast is so psychologically devastating.

**** I'd be offended if someone equated cyberbullying with sexual assault. But victim-blaming always involves the same bullshit, whoever the victim is and whoever's doing the blaming.

dreamer_easy: (refugees)
Iranian asylum seeker Mojgan Shamsalipoor faces deportation after visa denied (GA, 20 June 2017)

Call Peter Dutton's office on (02) 6277 7860 to say you're concerned and to ask that Mojgan be allowed to stay in Australia with her husband.

We were overseas for six weeks, so I'm sure I missed a ton of stuff, but it was great to come home to some good news: the largest compensation payment in Australia's history, totalling over $90 million ($70 million plus $20 million in court costs), has been awarded to the men subjected to false imprisonment, neglect, violence, and torture, in our detention centre on Manus Island.

Commonwealth agrees to pay Manus Island detainees $70m in class action settlement (ABC, 14 June 2017)

Manus Island: Why asylum seekers sued the Commonwealth (ABC, 21 June 2017)

Despite what Peter Dutton says, the Manus Island payout is momentous (SMH, 14 June 2017). "Immigration Minister Peter Dutton can assert there is no admission of liability, but you don't agree to a payout of more than $90 million if you are confident you can defend your position in open court." Perhaps the Immigration Minister calls the settlement a "prudent outcome for the Australian taxpayer" because of how much more the government would have had to pay - on top of already wasting billions in taxpayer funds on detention - if all the details had been heard in open court.

It's not all good news. The government settled out of court to avoid a finding on the legality of offshore detention. And, of course, the men are still bloody there. Safety more important than settlement - Manus detainee Behrouz Boochani (RNZ, 15 June 2017). ""We came to Australia legally seeking protection under international laws but were exiled by force to this island and imprisoned for four years. This compensation is not enough to cover all of the crimes that the government has committed against us. It is important that the government is condemned."

Also good to hear: Coptic Christians who were refused refugee status in Australia will have their claims for protection reconsidered (GA, 1 June 2017)

More from Manus Island:

Revealed: year-long campaign to make conditions harsher for Manus refugees (GA, 17 May 2017). "Documents show how the Australian government sought to drive refugees and asylum seekers from its detention centre in Papua New Guinea."

Self-harm, suicide and assaults: brutality on Manus revealed (GA, 18 May 2017). "Secret papers show 16 self-harm and suicide attempts in one week at Australia’s offshore detention centre."

Four birthdays in Manus Prison (Honi Soit, 14 June 2017) Rohingya refugee Imran Mohammad describes how has so far survived the nightmarish conditions.

Scale of surveillance in Manus Island detention centre laid bare (GA, 19 May 2017). "But while everything inside detention is scrutinised, of perhaps even greater concern is an all-pervasive fear over outside eyes looking in. Prime among the Australian camp manager’s concerns about the Manus immigration detention centre is the risk of 'reputational damage'."

Manus Island shooting left nine injured, immigration department admits (GA, 22 May 2017)
| Australian government downplayed risk of shots fired on Manus Island, analysis shows (GA, 15 May 2107)

US to notify Manus Island detainees about their fate within six weeks (SMH, 16 June 2017) | Australian refugee deal with US costs Turnbull government additional $22m (GA, 3 May 2017)

Refugee Trial Begins (Papua New Guinea Post-Courier, 19 June 2017). Loghman Sawari, who fled Manus Island to Fiji to seek asylum, has pled not guilty to charges of falsely representing himself obtaining a fraudulent passport.

Catching up on old bookmarks:

Detention centre interpreters need more training for 'hazardous' work – report (GA, 17 April 2017). I'll have to try to find out if this situation has changed: the training and support given others working under stressful and dangerous conditions in Australia's offshore detention centres was not being offered to translators, who were treated like "outsiders", resulting in a high turnover of these highly skilled staff.
dreamer_easy: (*cosmic code authority)
내면에 감춘 분노들을 말해 봐

I really shouldn’t be posting when I’m hypomanic, but I can’t be the only 미친 여자 out there who has had an episode triggered by a Kpop song. I once turned up at a doctor’s appointment exploding out of my skin after listening to FT Island’s Hit The Sands on the bus. This afternoon it was VIXX and Hyde. I was abruptly so absurdly high that I had a little trouble functioning in the supermarket.

I’ll be OK: this is just the cumulative effect of jetlag, anxiety, PMS, and, above all disrupted sleep. But I realised there was another factor at work as well - which inevitably led to an explosion of thoughts, which I’ll try to get down here.

Now, VIXX’s MVs are sometimes at odds with the lyrics of their songs. For example, the six-voiced protagonist of 저주인형 (VOODOO DOLL) threatens his ex’s faithless lovers - “Open the doors of hell / sinners who made her cry / (you will) cry tears of blood”, but the band themselves portray those sinners. In Hyde, the narrator (once again a single character shared between six bodies and voices) puts up a tormented struggle, verbally and physically, against his own aggression - but at the end, those big, black wings come bursting out, and he displays them without shame to the faceless girl, who holds him, wings and all, in her heart.

It’s tempting to smile or even laugh at the melodrama of it all, but adolescent feelings are real and overwhelming, and what’s more, teenage boys are surely both the most alluring and the most dangerous - literally - things in the lives of most heterosexual teenage girls. Songs and MVs like this (and fan fiction, too) must be a place where young women can safely work through some of their complicated feelings about young men.

More importantly, they may be a place where girls can work through their own negative feelings, especially feelings of aggression, which we are taught to swallow, not show. The boyfriend of VOODOO DOLL is willing to endure his lover’s anger, without ending the relationship: “Sing the curse song of / tell me the fury hidden inside you / my body is an offering to you / I’ll devote myself to your happiness” (and the one in Chained Up (사슬) is willing to be the recipient of dark sexual fantasies). The protagonist of Hyde protests over and over that he is not a bad person, but ultimately he admits and owns the “other person inside me who is not me” (as we see in LR’s Beautiful Liar, he can control :), and that person is accepted and loved.

You can be a bad person, and survive! Even a kimchi-molesting pervert like me. XD No wonder my mood jumped through the ceiling in the space of three minutes and twenty-one seconds.

To conclude, I wanted to mention the line in Hyde I was thinking about the other day. It’s this: 겁을 먹어버린 그 눈빛 이러지마. You’ll see it translated around the Web as “Don’t give me those scared eyes”, but (disclaimer: my Korean sucks)  the adjective 먹어버린 is “eaten completely”, so it might be better rendered “Don’t give me that fear-devoured glance”. Wow!
dreamer_easy: (*feminism)
1. This isn't an emergency. Don't respond at once, except possibly to make any necessary apologies - maybe something like "Sorry about this note and the offense it's caused. I'm going to think about it carefully before I say anything more." That'll buy you a couple of days' breathing space, if not let the whole thing blow over.

2. Write all the responses your brain coughs out into a file and leave it on the desktop - don't post it until you'll fully digested it. Responding provides some relief, but it also triggers the next round of shit.

3. Monitoring further responses is a powerful compulsion, but it's a mistake. Just respond gracefully to any legitimate anger in the original blowup - make it a one-on-one between you and the original offendee, not a one-on-many with the mob.
dreamer_easy: (*feminism)
is a pain in the arse. The sensible part of your brain is going DISENGAGE DISENGAGE DISENGAGE, while other parts are unrelentingly writing that next response - you know, the one that will at last stop the abuse*. It's when you realise the next response is "Madam, perhaps I could invite you to SUCK MY METAPHORICAL DICK" that you know you're going to be all right.

Seems like a good opportunity to re-post some links from lj:

ETA: This is beyond price: Certain Propositions Concerning Callout Culture (Thing of Things, 13 December 2014) "Callout culture essentially means that when you do something oppressive, everyone is allowed to yell at you as much as they like and whatever they like, even if you apologize. It reaches its epitome on Tumblr, in which people occasionally tell suicidal people to kill themselves because they used the word 'crazy.'" "... until you’ve seen a woman of color told that she’s ignoring the voices of women of color, you haven’t lived." "Callout culture comes from a place of class, educational, and ability privilege." And much more.

A similar, more detailed analysis: Come one, come all! Feminist and Social Justice blogging as performance and bloodshed (originally from Tiger Beatdown, 17 October 2011). "... call outs, and the modus operandi behind them, the pile-on, can potentially kill people. The most virulent call outs can exacerbate existing PTSD. They can drive a person to severe episodes of anxiety and/ or depression, they can lead someone to feel isolated and suicidal."

Fear, self-censorship, and facing into it: "I found myself being vilified by total strangers based on other people's interpretations of a few words of mine in a blog post. I found myself being held up as an example of ignorant, arrogant white privilege. I found a lot of things being said about me that were flatly untrue, grossly misinterpreted, or simply assumptions based on my skin color and gender as portrayed in my blog's icons — in that last case, flatly stated as such."

Internet. It’s Time To Talk. "Bullies use the tools and the language of social justice to do their work. They literally weaponise the very tools we have fought so very hard to create and work with. And they rely on this to maintain the culture of silence."

And my own notes, from books about bullying, etc:

http://kateorman.livejournal.com/871248.html ("Female bullies tend to assume the role of leader in a core group of peers. They are socially cruel and manipulative. They attempt to ostracise targets through backbiting, spreading rumours, trashing reputations, and rewarding others for refusing to interact pleasantly with the target")
http://kateorman.livejournal.com/875669.html (the "Bullying Circle" is very interesting, as are the motivations of bullies)


The tragic irony of feminists trashing each other (The Guardian, 3 May 2013). "That's not the sign of a healthy movement, but it is how one earns credibility in online feminist circles today – nothing looks better than pointing out how everyone else is doing it wrong. Bonus points if those other feminists have had a modicum of success, like a book, a highly-trafficked website, or getting paid for their work."

So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed and Is Shame Necessary? review – think before you tweet (The Guardian, 15 March 2015) "It is [researcher James] Gilligan’s contention, based on some highly successful therapeutic work with prisoners in Massachusetts, that violence, being mostly an attempt to restore self-esteem, can almost always be directly linked to shame. Ronson doesn’t spell out in full the implications of this thesis but the reader who isn’t content just to gawp, metaphorically speaking, at the casualties of the Twitter mobs and trolls he has carefully lined up for our delectation will grasp precisely what it means."

The Evolution of Shaming (The Atlantic, 24 February 2016). "A new study suggests that we punish people who haven’t directly wronged us to signal our own trustworthiness." "People genuinely feel outrage and moral anger. But at least part of why they care is that it gets them reputational benefits. That also helps to explain why people get pissed off even when the wrong that was done was accidental."

* Don't kid yourself. Nothing will stop the abuse, not apologies, explanations, promises, self-degradation, or suicide. Which tells you that it's nothing to do with you or your actions. This is the basis of Justine Sacco's advice to Sam Biddle: "Just don't engage."  "... she knew the only divine truth of the internet: Do nothing. Never tweet. Never apologize. Never say anything at all. Be an inert bundle of molecules and let the world tear itself apart around you." Eventually they will move on to their next target.

dreamer_easy: (Default)
Continuing to process the latest Unpleasantness. (Which I am feeling OK about, now, to reassure Jon, who just looked over my shoulder and was worried by that first sentence.) As I mentioned, I'm pretty sure I was hypomanic when I made the posting in April last year which triggered the trouble just now. Here it is:

ngl: as a white Western Kpop fan, it’s a constant challenge not to fetishise Koreans and Korean culture (and, by extension, all Asians and Asian culture). All these horrible crushes lend a sexual aura to ridiculously non-sexual things: I’m all too aware that learning Korean, reading about Korean history, and even trying Korean food are all frequently accompanied by a pleasant erotic frisson. It’s exactly the effect advertisers are hoping for when they create an association between idols and fried chicken. Anyway, all I can do is try to catch myself falling into fetishisation.
Now you should read my follow-up postings as well, but in short, I figured out that I wasn't fetishing Asian people or culture - I was just worried that I was, due to the connection with sexy, sexy Kpop.

The chief reaction was one of horror at the implication that I was sexually aroused by eating Korean food, but there was also much hilarity over the phrase "pleasant erotic frisson", as is the Internet's wont. (I suspect a majority of memes begin as the mocking echoes of the dogpile.)

One reason I suspect hypomania is that the posting is so terse: the last sentence shows I'm concerned about the implications, but not enough to slow down and think or talk them through. I just sort of throw my undeveloped thoughts out onto the net, where they sit, ticking like a time bomb. The other reason is the lurching between registers. I open with the onlinespeak of "ngl" ("not gonna lie"), but then I'm into that tongue-in-cheek, slightly old-fashioned style - some of those phrases would not look too out of place in Punch magazine, a Clive James TV review, or Douglas Adams. (At least I didn't go for Molesworth.) Plus there's a dose of earnest Internet social justice self-consciousness - "I'm all too aware", "all I can do is try to catch myself".

There's no reason that American teenagers would recognise that dry British humour*, and tongue-in-cheekness is very difficult to convey over the net, although one reader did wonder if I was being "sarcastic". In fact, this confused mix-and-match style has got me into trouble more than once online, not helped by the tendency when I'm up to include references without footnoting them (after all, they make perfect sense to meee). (Good grief, even the use of "Unpleasantness" in the first sentence of this posting is an unfootnoted reference - it's an expression I picked up from Michael Green's 1964 book Coarse Acting, along with the infinitely useful phrase "All is ease and comfort.")

I suppose the only cure for it is self-awareness, ie, not posting when I know I'm having an episode, or at least going back and doing some rewriting when I've come down. But that's obvious; what's interesting to me is the way that language works - in fact, there's a link between these clashing registers - informal/formal/humorous/earnest - and the wordplay around hierarchy and politeness levels which I mentioned in my previous posting.

* All right, I admit it. The girls going "hurr hurr hurr, you said erotic frisson" sound like fucking idiots.

dreamer_easy: (Default)
Sitting on a plane a couple of hours out from Sydney. I've just finished reading "My English Name" by R.S. Benedict (Fantasy and Science Fiction May/June 2017), and wanted to rave about it a bit. The little note at the start of the story explains that it's drawn from the author's three years of working as an English teacher in China. It has that particularity that gives a fictional setting its power - the details that tell you the author really knows this place, these people. Benedict draws on both the interaction between Western culture and Chinese culture and between Westerners and Chinese people in a story that's about passing - as human, as straight, as gay, as white. I think the title may be drawn from the adoption of an English name by Asian immigrants, as English-speakers, typically monoglots, can't get our mouths around Asian phonemes; but the story's main character and narrator isn't even human, and works hard to pass as an Englishman. This mimicry is reflected all around the narrator in the Chinese culture he negotiates, from the designer knock-off scarf which helps hide his true self, to the use of bribery to gain fake qualifications, to the "rent-a-whitey gigs" he takes that reminded me uncomfortably of accounts that the only qualification you really need to teach English in Korea is whiteness.

The bribery in particular reminded me of the relentless corruption in Ha Jin's short stories, of the pressure on gay men and lesbians in China to marry (described in Benjamin Law's Gaysia) and of the obligation to "pass" as a Chinese citizen with the correct political opinions (I was struck by this in watching the reality show "Takes a Real Man" - the would-be soldiers must pass political tests as well as tests of their actual military skill). Now that brings me to something that's been preying on my mind since it happened. I have a side Tumblr, aegyopoisoned, in which I stash images of my favourite Kpop idols. It's an unremarkable blog with few followers - there must be tens of thousands like it. However, last April, I made a rather oddly written posting (I'll just bet I was hypomanic at the time) in which I confessed my worries about fetishing Korean and/or Asian people and culture as a result of Kpop's sex appeal. I was bewildered by yesterday morning's hate mail ("kill urself" is not as clear a message as it may seem) until we got home from the airport and I was able to locate a series of outraged responses.* In writing a much clearer response this morning I've worked through those concerns to some extent. (Now I just have to worry about the fact that my boys are half my age :).

Almost the first word of Korean I ever learned was 막내 maknae - the youngest person in a family or group. Taemin, my bias - that is, the Kpop idol I most swingeingly desire - is the maknae of the boy band SHINee, and this was the first fact I learned about him. It was also my first glimpse of Korean culture - specifically, the strict hierarchy by age, gender, and position which modern Koreans have inherited from their neo-Confucian forebears. When I learned the word maknae, I literally couldn't find Korea on a map. Now I have some grasp of the language and a rough idea of Korea's two thousand year-plus history, ancient and modern. I knew nothing of the Korean War, or the Opium Wars, or anything about the Suez Canal. I have a shelf overflowing with unread books on the Koreas and China. Sex was the starting point, not the be-all and end-all of my interest.

In recent years I've been reading SF by Chinese authors in translation - short stories, and of course Liu Cixin's mind-snapping, Hugo-winning Three-Body Problem trilogy. (I'm extremely keen to read Korean SF, but haven't found much.) R.S. Benedict's story is told by a Westerner, about being a Westerner in China - an outsider's POV, but an intimate engagement with the culture: her portrait of China is a matter-of-fact, sometimes unflattering one, but it's authentic. In adding Korean settings and characters to my own SF, I'm acutely aware that I'm a 외국인 waegukin, a foreigner, whose contact with Korea is mediated through, erm, the media - I don't have Benedict's first-hand experience. What's more culture (the West in general and Australia in particular) has a history with Asian peoples - colonialism, racism against immigrants, yellowface - which gives me complex responsibilities. My viewpoint characters, therefore, must also be waegukin, and my research as careful and accurate as I can make it.**

* "Why are you so proud of fetishization"?"asked a young white woman whose Tumblr proudly proclaims "Jonghyun is my dad", which may indicate I haven't absolutely cornered the fetish market. (She's also a fellow Lay fan. I'll bet she saw that awful Jackie Chan film too, just because he was in it.)

** I'd love to write something set in historical times, which would make including a Western character more difficult - but I have years of reading to do before I'll know enough to pull that off.


dreamer_easy: (Default)

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