dreamer_easy: (moon)
Hatred in the Hallways: HRW responds to the bullying of gay American kids. Links to their 2001 report and suicide prevention resources.

One of the things that's struck me while doing my homework on Islam is its non-hierarchical structure, compared to more familiar religions such as the Catholic and Anglican churches. Rather than pronouncements handed down from the top which everyone's supposed to go along with, you can go to any alim or Islamic scholar and ask for a ruling. I think this one reason Westerners get confused; we expect a single "Islamic" view, and instead discover a plethora of denominations, schools, and individuals, all opining away. (That's what a fatwa is - the opinion of a religious scholar, nothing more.)

Now I don't want to overstate this comparison, as there are very profound differences, but my own religion of Neo-Paganism is also largely non-hierarchical. This was brought home to me when I tried to find out whether I could, tongue-in-cheek, call myself a mushrika. Google promptly produced several different definitions of the term and who it could be applied to. (It's clear I'm going to have to hit the books some more over this one!) There's a saying: "twelve witches, thirteen opinions", and I think the same may be true for the ulema. :)

This brings me back to Ms Moon:
"The same with other points of Islam that I find appalling (especially as a free woman) and totally against those basic principles of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution...I feel that I personally (and many others) lean over backwards to put up with these things, to let Muslims believe stuff that unfits them for citizenship, on the grounds of their personal freedom."
Again, it's hard to know exactly what Ms Moon has in mind here. But this idea that Islam is ultimately incompatible with freedom, especially for women, is paralleled in some Pagan thought, particularly in the Goddess movement. Some feminists are working hard to reform traditional religions such as Christianity and Judaism. Other have given up on the Abrahamic faiths as being inevitably, hopelessly oppressive, particularly for women, and have turned to Paganism as an alternative. (And quite a few people fall somewhere between the two camps.)

I thought of this when reading a Pagan response to the dreadful tragedy of gay kids taking their own lives, which several recent well-publicised examples have suddenly brought into the spotlight. That response draws in turn on a Baptist minister's call for theological change from an unspoken model where "God is at the top, (white, heterosexual) men come soon after and all those less valued by the culture (women, children, LGBT people, the poor, racial minorities, etc.) fall somewhere down below."

It's tempting to satirise some of Ms Moon's points by showing how well they apply to Christianity, her own religion, just as well as they do to Islam - to say, with some Pagans, that Christianity is incompatible with freedom, especially for women. Personally, though, I haven't given up on the Abrahamic faiths; even a glance at their histories shows how capable of innovation they are. Besides, they're not going away any time soon.

But I do want to say, with Jason at the Wild Hunt blog, that "... it is more important than ever for us to make it known that our alternatives exist. To be visible and to make common cause with those who are told to hate themselves by the dominant faith lens."

I can't speak for every Neo-Pagan or Wiccan; no-one can. I can tell you, though, that the goddess I worship, Inanna, is the patron of all sexuality. In the Mesopotamian hymns and tales she's a macho warrior and a new bride. Her clergy (as best we can tell) included gay men and cross-dressers. As the evening star, she's compared with a sex worker, hanging out of the tavern window looking for business! She's not a mother goddess; she's a goddess of sex, and without her, nobody can bothered with it. Starhawk says that the lovers taken from us by AIDS are her martyrs. She's the reason I've blogged so much about sex education, reproductive freedom, and freedom from sexual violence. If you are a slut, a fag, a queer, a whore, a tranny, a monogamous heterosexual, or a hopeful virgin, this goddess, who was worshipped for thousands of years and who has burst back to life, wants to gather you up in her huge multicoloured bouquet of life and love and joy. (Heck, if you're celibate or asexual, jump on in. It's a big bouquet.)

Jason blogs: "My 'something else' is the modern Pagan movement, but it isn't the only 'something else' out there." Hold on. Don't give in. You're part of nature too, and God loves you. You will find friends and a safe place to be yourself. Reach out for help. Don't give in. Hold on.
dreamer_easy: (melanin)
Reading about bullying is at once reassuring and liberating, and bloody horrible, as all the old nausea and dread comes rushing out. I've parked so much information about the subject here there's probably not a whole lot of value in my adding much more, but I may take some notes and add further info and/or insights at some point. In the meantime, have a squiz at The Web Means the End of Forgetting, There's Only One Way to Stop a Bully, and this particularly ugly example of how malicious gossip online - in this case, a deliberate distortion swallowed and spread by the credulous - can affect someone IRL.

ETA: Six Causes of Online Disinhibition, for good or ill; and from the same psychology blog, 10 Rules That Govern Groups, Group Polarization, and Fighting Groupthink.

Putting that topic aside for now, here's some Australian stuff:

The Brisbane Times reports on sexual assault during Schoolies' Week. Beneath the titillating headline there's a surprising amount of acknowledgement that the problem is the rapists and not their targets - in particular, the need to educate young men.

Still on The Kids, a survey of young Australians brings out concerns about how police interact with them, including racist assumptions and general disrespect. (Have I told you this story before? My first conscious awareness of Privilege™ came when inspectors insisted a pair of teenagers Of Middle Eastern Appearance produce their train tickets, but let off the middle-class Anglo thirtysomething - me! - when I couldn't find mine promptly.)

Gay marriage: what would it really take? A detailed look at the state of play in Australia. (ETA: the same politics explains why schools get chaplains instead of counsellors.)

Heck, while I'm here, have this, too:

We Are All Talk Radio Hosts: "Our hypothesis is that the function of reasoning is argumentative. It is to devise and evaluate arguments intended to persuade... Skilled arguers, however, are not after the truth but after arguments supporting their views." Oh, shit.

ETA: And this: The forgotten Muslim victims of 11 September 2001, from the UK's Independent, 11 October 2001.
dreamer_easy: (Default)
Via [livejournal.com profile] hnpcc: the very useful Below the Line shows you the preference flow for each party.

Still on Australian politics: Wendy Francis' statements about same-sex parenting are incorrect.
dreamer_easy: (homeoboxual)
New South Wales: Gay adoption ban to stay
"The State Government has decided not to allow same-sex couples to adopt, ignoring a parliamentary inquiry that said changing the law would 'ensure the best interests of children'. The Government said yesterday there was insufficient community support to justify new legislation on the topic."
If you support gay adoption, please send a polite email to linda.burney@parliament.nsw.gov.au stating, "I support the right of same-sex couples to adopt", or similar. Doesn't have to be more than that basic statement. If you're in NSW, you can include your suburb or town and postcode. Feel free to pass this message on.

ETA: I got an auto answer asking me to email office@burney.minister.nsw.gov.au, so that's probably the best address to use.
dreamer_easy: (BOOKS)
John Barrowman. I Am What I Am.
Alison Bechdel. Post- Dykes to Watch Out For.
- Dykes and Sundry Carbon-Based Life Forms to Watch Out For.
- Invasion of the Dykes to Watch Out For.

Books bought and borrowed )
dreamer_easy: (IT'S A TRAP)
Thought-provoking quote from RTD in an interview earlier this year:

You’ve come in for some criticism for shooting in Dubai.
'From some blogs, yeah. I knew what we were doing. I didn’t personally choose the location, but I’m not ducking out of it now, I am the exec producer. But of course we filmed there. What are we suggesting, that we isolate the whole Arab world? Or the whole Islamic world? Do we cut them off? Do they cut us off? It’s not the way anyone engages with the modern world at all, I wouldn’t do that on a personal level or a professional level. Underneath it all is a subtle form of racism at work there that says white westerners are encouraged to love ethnic races, unless they’re rich. All these countries are running out of oil, so they have to build these giant hotels, because all they can do is engage with the West. After that the laws will change and the culture will change and we will assimilate with them as well. It’s a big cultural process and nothing is ever gained by saying: "We’re not going there." Would you refuse to go into a room with an Arab? Where does that get people? I’m not saying we Westernise them, it’ll go the other way and happen in ways we don’t like personally as well. If you isolate them then you end up with Zimbabwe or with what’s happening in Senegal.'
Now this may be a bit of a rationalisation, and there's a case to be made that nations with a dodgy human rights record, including persecution of gays, ought not to have our business - especially government business. (In which case we'd better do something about all these cars.) But those things said, I see that urge to ostracise everywhere, from trivial squabbles online to boycotts of international conferences. I think it's often a mistake, as simple, righteous solutions to complicated problems frequently are. Dialogue's difficult and frustrating. Having to change our opinions, or make compromises, is humiliating. Much simpler to just say, "Hmph, I'm not talking to you."
dreamer_easy: (SCIENCE BIOLOGY)
Battle of the sexes - one gene keeps us either male or female, scientists find

DNA's guardian gene found in placozoans. The common genetic heritage of life on Earth ever fills me with glee. We share genes with yeast, starfish, you name it - the same basic toolkit, recycled and remodelled over and over again.

Homosexual selection: The power of same-sex liaisons What role does a preference for same-sex partners play in evolution - and vice versa?

Where Science Comes From
dreamer_easy: (BRIC A BRAC quotations)
Frustratingly, migrating to the new puter has somehow resurrected a bunch of deleted bookmarks. It's a real jumble. So apologies for any duplicates which get posted as I try to sort them out.

Doctors' fears mean woman is sent to Darwin for abortion: "Queensland Health is paying for a woman to be sent to Darwin for an abortion because doctors fear they will be jailed if they perform the operation here... A source told The Cairns Post the fetus to be aborted was so 'significantly abnormal that it would not survive' if it were born."

Activist seeks divorce ban in California: "The effort is meant to be a satirical statement after California voters outlawed gay marriage in 2008, largely on the argument that a ban is needed to protect the sanctity of traditional marriage. If that's the case, then Marcotte reasons voters should have no problem banning divorce."

‘Sexting’ bullying cited in teen's suicide

The Characteristics of Bullying Victims in Schools

Cyberbullying is as common as name-calling, study shows

Britain's criminalising of children breaches their rights, says report

Patrick Stewart: the legacy of domestic violence

via [livejournal.com profile] qthewetsprocket, Schrödinger's Rapist: a guy's guide to approaching strange women without being maced. Gentlemen, give this a read - despite the serious subject matter, it's very funny.
dreamer_easy: (DEBUNKING)
Library FAIL. I'll go tomorrow morning. In the meantime I think I'll post some news from the world of SCIENCE here, in between efforts at unearthing the household from its current layer of filth.

Cervical cancer vaccine reminds girls of sexual risks rather than promoting promiscuity.

Bans 'do not cut abortion rate' (but contraceptive access does).

Teen Birth Rates Higher in Highly Religious States

Can therapy make a gay person straight? (No.)

How myths are made looks at both commercial distortion of science, and more subtly, how scientific citations can become a game of "whispers".
dreamer_easy: (feminist)
Last year I posted mourning the demotion of the word misogyny from its original, powerful meaning, "hatred of women", to a mere replacement for the word "sexism". Language naturally changes like this. But I was reminded that we're going to need a new word to describe woman-hating the other day, when I observed a self-described lesbian feminist describe a weakly sexist remark by RTD as "resounding misogyny".

Can't talk about this in detail without SPOILERS for Torchwood: Children of Earth.

COE: raising so many interesting fannish issues since a couple of weeks ago )

ETA: Only really posted all of that because I hit the word "misogynous" in Erica Jong's Fear of Flying, on which I decided to make an assault this evening. I'm starting to worry I'm only contributing to the problem by banging on about it here, as though the overwhelming majority of fans were not perfectly sane on the subject, so I think it's time to take a break.

ETA ETA: Although I suppose we're going to need a new word for "homophobic", too.
dreamer_easy: (torchwood ot3)
SPOILERS: Torchwood: Children of Earth

Random links and thinkage. Simply disgusting quantities of shipping. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.

Did I mention there were SPOILERS? )
dreamer_easy: (TELEVISION)
Leaked documents confirm resident's fear of foul pulp mill: "The chemicals in pulp mill odours are some of the most objectionable smelling compounds known to science. The worst is methyl mercaptan, which smells like stale sewage. When we got out of the minibus in the car park [at a Swedish "world's best practice" pulp mill, Resource, Planning and Development Commission head] Julian Green very quickly became distressed - he couldn't breathe. I found the odour intensely objectionable, and within a matter of minutes, Julian Green was gasping and saying: 'For God's sake get me out of here.'" (The environment and neighbouring businesses aside - people are supposed to *work* in that?)

Double-blind review favours increased representation of female authors: when authors' names are removed from scientific papers being considered for publication, more women end up being published. (Thanks, [livejournal.com profile] dameruth!)

Can Psychiatrists Really "Cure" Homosexuality? "Masters and Johnson claimed to convert gays to heterosexuality in a 1979 book. But did they?" (In related news, Z and Vielpunkt are now proud gay parents.)

The first forty seconds of Zero Punctuation's review of a video game called "Too Human" outlines the case for the inherent superiority of polytheism. *smug*

In the name of the father - MPs flock to Jesus: "A new study shows federal MPs are invoking Christian beliefs with increasing frequency to justify their policies and articulate their personal values and visions for the nation." I question the researcher's apparent conclusion that 9/11 resulted in "erosion of the traditional view that political decision-making should be based on rational arguments rather than on religious faith or doctrine", though, as these are not mutually exclusive. I'll try to get hold of the journal article to get more specifics. In the meantime here's a sort of summary thing by the researcher.

Find My iPhone works, and it is awesome. A guy and his friends use GPS to recover his iPhone from a thief.
dreamer_easy: (feminist)
• One in 10 young women polled by Grazia magazine have taken illicit drugs to lose weight.

• A study by the AMP and the University of Canberra cheers the closing of the wage gap for Australian women in their 20s and 30s, but lists the many reasons for the huge differences in lifetime earnings, from child-rearing to the glass ceiling. Of interest to Miranda Devine may be their findings that:
"Women with children employed full-time spend on average 78 hours a week in paid and unpaid work, while full-time working men with children spend only 74 hours a week working. These women are spending on average 15 hours a week cooking and cleaning while the men are spending only six hours a week. A part-time working mother spends 23 hours a week with the kids and 20 hours on the housework while a part-time working father spends 14 hours with the kids and nine hours on housework."
• The John Barrowman episode of The Making of Me was broadcast on BBC America with some very suspicious edits.


Mar. 18th, 2009 04:44 pm
dreamer_easy: (SHE STANDS UP AGAIN)
Big Bad Bully: a Psychology Today article from 1995 explains the basics, focussing on bullying by boys. Hmm, this is interesting: "Bullies, for the most part, are different from you and me. Studies reliably show that they have a distinctive cognitive make-up—a hostile attributional bias, a kind of paranoia. They perpetually attribute hostile intentions to others. The trouble is, they perceive provocation where it does not exist. That comes to justify their aggressive behavior." That certainly fits the indignant "she asked for it" mentality of a lot of ugly behaviour I've seen online.

Everyone Loves a Bully: PT again, 2004. "[Psychologist Jaana] Juvonen thinks that intervention must address a social system that privileges bullies, rather than simply targeting individual perpetrators. 'No matter how you teach bullies to see their world differently, the rewards of the behavior are still there once they step back into the schoolyard,' Juvonen says. Teaching children not to applaud antagonizers by giving them attention can change social expectations and norms. 'Empowering them to intervene in bullying situations would be by far the most effective strategy.'"

Cyberbullying grows bigger and meaner with photos, video "When they put it on the Internet, it's like they took everything and multiplied it by an astronomical number. It's one thing if it's a mean thing that somebody put in my school paper because that's contained within a small area. Only a certain number of people will see that. But when you put it on the Internet, you are opening it up to everyone in the world." It wrecks lives, as Wired magazine details in a report about "the Internet Fury Machine".

Beyond the Schoolyard: stories of cyberbullying in Canada. (David Knight's family are suing the high school which failed to protect him from constant violence. Give 'em hell, mate, on behalf of all of us.)

False rumours spread online by a workmate drive a Korean woman to suicide

UK sites School Bully OnLine and Kidscape have lots of stuff.

Bullying explained for kids aged 6-12

As Good as Your Words?: NYT, 1998. "The studies suggest that when someone says something, good or bad, about someone else, people tend to associate that trait with the person who made the statement. So if someone calls another person dishonest, other people tend to remember the speaker as being less than honest." This presents a bit of a problem for peeps who enjoy ripping others to shreds, especially if they're hoping to make themselves look good.

Finally: I linked to this report last year, but wanted to quote this bit: The Real Scoop on Rumors and Gossip: "It doesn't necessarily matter if gossip is true or not. Its goal is to change and maintain clusters of people, either by shifting around a social structure or spreading ideas about what is normal behavior." (Or, as the Rules of the Internet put it: "Anything you say can and will be used against you. Anything you say can be turned into something else.")

ETA: New Scientist, March 2009: Some schools may be breeding grounds for teen killers: "Shootings appear more likely in schools characterised by a high degree of social stratification and low bonding and attachment between teachers and students. They provide rewards and recognition for only an elite few, and create social dynamics that promote disrespectful behaviour, bullying, and peer harassment." (Thanks for the link, [livejournal.com profile] lillibet!)

ETA: Stonewall UK has facts and figures on Homophobic bullying in schools. 41% of targets were cyberbullied. (You don't have to be queer to be a target; I was "Hey, lemon!" for the last two years of high school. Thanks for the link, [livejournal.com profile] nyssa1968!)


Jan. 17th, 2009 06:35 pm
dreamer_easy: (homeoboxual)

([livejournal.com profile] spastasmagoria found that. :)

Sodomy Laws Are Rooted in British Colonialism. "In many countries, conservatives claim homosexuality came from the colonizing West. In fact, it's homophobia that's a legacy of Western colonialism."

Two responses to Prop 8. From November, The Advocate questions whether Gay Is The New Black? And from September, the Taking Steps blog: It is time for us to acknowledge that our love is an act of war.

And for light relief: Mot Naturens Orden?, a 2006 Norwegian exhibition on homosexuality in nature, which has been documented in over 1500 animal species. I poked around in the site with the help of Google's automatic translation: the most interesting point was that animals have far more sex than they need to reproduce anyway, so a preference for same-sex partners is not necessarily going to be an evolutionary disadvantage. "Many species have sex outside of mating season and enjoy the sex that does not cause the normal mating, but rather gender rub their bodies against each other or stimulate themselves or partner in other ways," explains Google helpfully, although it baulked at translating seksualdrift.
dreamer_easy: (MUSIC)
Remember this church sign? I heard the song and saw the video of Katy Perry's I Kissed A Girl for the first time this evening in the gym. What was the church so worried about? I mean, it's a pretty cool song, but talk about heteronormative. The whole thing is just a less naked version of the "lesbians" in straight men's porn. She wakes up in bed with her boyf at the end! Which means she's going to hell for fornication anyway.
dreamer_easy: (homeoboxual)
When it comes to Rick Warren, my personal interest is in challenging his incorrect statements, but of course all this Googling has turned up some thought-provoking political commentary from various perspectives:

Rick Warren’s biggest critics: other evangelicals

Barack Obama and Rick Warren: Gay Rights Activists Are Offended

Praying With Rev. Warren

The Flipside of Warren-gate

Also of interest:

Homosexual Civil Unions: A Medieval Tradition? (The journal article is Same-Sex Couples Creating Households in Old Regime France: The Uses of the Affrèrement.)
dreamer_easy: (love)
Continuing to examine Rick Warren's claim that "For 5,000 years every single culture and every single religion has defined marriage as a man and a woman", I spent a few minutes Googling, and came up with multiple cultures for which this is not true.

There are cultures in Africa, including the largest ethnic group in Kenya, the Kikuyu, in which women marry other women. The word for male-female marriage and female-female marriage is the same, as is the marriage ceremony.

There are a large number of cultures in which polygyny, a husband with more than one wife, is quite usual, and that's been true throughout history. There are also some polyandrous cultures where women take more than one husband, such as the Nyinba of Tibet. (It's also possible that there were polyandrous marriages in early Sumer.)

And then there are also matrilineal, matrilocal cultures in which there's really nothing that looks like the Western idea of marriage, such as the Nayar of East India, and the Mosuo of China.

Even from this small pool of examples, it's obvious that Rev Warren's statement is incorrect: over thousands of years of history and thousands of human cultures, what counts as "marriage" has actually varied quite a bit. That said, Warren's argument is fallacious in any case; just because something is popular or traditional doesn't make it right.


dreamer_easy: (Default)

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