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Old 05-12-16, 03:25 PM   #11
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Re: International Women's Day 2016

On twitter, I've seen some discussion of how often female characters are absurdly sexualized and objectified, particularly when done by male writers. (Pro tip: women rarely think about their breasts, though we often think--and not fondly--about how badly designed the bra we are forced to wear for oh, about 14-18 hours a day, is.)

On the other hand, there is a disturbing trend (when you think about it) to other-ize the experiences of women and young girls. So I'm just putting this one here:

Boys Book, Girls Books and Missing out on Anne Frank
"(...)over a decade later, I remember our teacher explaining why we were reading the play instead of the original source.

Our teacher said reading about Anne Frank’s feelings in the diary made boys in past classes feel uncomfortable. The play provided distance from the interiority revealed in the diary. This made the play more appropriate"
Where "more appropriate" means, "it doesn't have the girl cooties." Because dog forbid boys are made uncomfortable.


The flip side of the coin is how restrictive and damaging the society-approved expressions of masculinity are--dog help boys and men who do not conform to the rigid expectations of courage, overt machism, self control, etc., for they have become the most frequent, and tacitly approved, targets of bullying and violence for 'men's men.'
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Last edited by azteclady; 06-01-16 at 05:30 PM. Reason: typo/missing word
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Old 05-21-16, 11:14 PM   #12
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Re: International Women's Day 2016

This one is very tough to write about, for very personal reasons: the incredible gender bias in health care. How many times are women patients in critical circumstances, sent home with what is, essentially, a pat on the head, only to suffer severe health consequences later? That is not a rhetorical question, by the way. The answer is: several times more than men.

Some of you reading may remember reading on the news about a woman in Florida who was asked to leave the emergency room, since there was 'nothing wrong with her,' only to die right outside the hospital as the cops who had arrested her for non-compliance were trying to get her into the patrol car. Even as she's lying on the floor, dying, people around her insist that there's 'nothing wrong with her.'

It's easy to find excuses in the media for this particular case. She was loud, and had a history of being disruptive, she was heavy set (we are told her weight in the freaking headlines, for dog's sake). But mostly, she was female (and also black), and complaining of pain.

Oh, you may say, but that's just one case, why are you making noise about that?

Because it's not one case. From the Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics, in 2001--fifteen freaking years ago!--here's the abstract from "The Girl Who Cried Pain"
In general, women report more severe levels of pain, more frequent incidences of pain, and pain of longer duration than men, but are nonetheless treated for pain less aggressively. The authors investigate this paradox from two perspectives: Do men and women in fact experience pain differently - whether biologically, cognitively, and/or emotionally? And regardless of the answer, what accounts for the differences in the pain treatment they receive, and what can we do to correct this situation?
Because health professionals (of both genders. though it does happen more with male doctors/nurses/etc), are less well educated on women's health issues than men's health issues, and thus, it just doesn't occur to them that acute abdominal pain is not 'oh, just kidney stones, they'll pass, stop making such a fuss, honey' but instead an ovarian torsion, which could kill her.

This bias towards dismissing women's pain and health issues as "psychosomatic" (the new 'hysteria,' for those who care), means that women have to advocate fiercely, repeatedly, tirelessly for themselves--even when those health issues they are seeking help for are crippling them.

There's this thread on twitter (go to the top for the full story) that brings this bias into even sharper relief:
"There was the time my doc said my chest pains were anxiety. I dogged him & ended up with a cardiologist. Turned out I needed heart surgery. Heart surgery that was "or you'll probably die" kind of surgery. I would have died if I h'd let my doctor writer off my pain. But I almost did because, you know. He told me it was nothing. He told me I was probably "very sensitive to stress." I'm one of those people who never want to go to the doctor, because it's exhausting to have to fight to be taken seriously."

"I was told chronic stomach pain was stress. It was ovarian cancer."

"I was told my neck pain was from depression. I fought it. It was 4 herniated cervical discs."

"I was told gut pain was 'female problem.' It was diverticulitis requiring 6hr surgery."
And if you happen to be heavier than the accepted 'norm,' all your health issues are attributed to your weight, no further inquiry necessary. "Oh, you can't breathe? No, dear it's not asthma, it's that you are fat." "Oh, you don't have energy? No, dear, it's not a congenital heart defect, it's that you are fat."

PLEASE NOTE: I am not saying that men don't go through horrible instances of medical neglect, injustice, abuse, misdiagnosis, etc. I AM saying that women go through this routinely.

For women, it is the rule not the exception--and if we dare talk about it, we are very often told to stop complaining. Our issues--women's issues, be health, pay gap, societal expectations, rape, etc--are never THAT important, or that unique, and, don't men suffer too?

So, we are told in so many words, over and over and over, be quiet, dear, and stop disrupting our peace and quiet.
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Last edited by azteclady; 06-01-16 at 05:29 PM. Reason: wrong word--"health" intead of "weight"
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Old 06-01-16, 03:18 PM   #13
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Re: International Women's Day 2016

Once again, my interests intersect.

Let's look at this short paragraph, parse it a bit, and see whether those reading can guess what type of book it comes from:
Every person in the room—from the preppy-looking thirty-something-year-old with spiked hair, taking notes in Chinese, and the young blonde with the tight blouse and the too-short skirt, to the jogger in baggy running shorts and damp T-shirt, and the rheumy-eyed octogenarian with herringbone coat stained by decades of chalk dust—knew that they were potentially witnessing a monumental milestone in a three-thousand-year-old legacy.
First off, can we guess the gender of any of the people mentioned? Considering the descriptions, I'm going to say that three are male, and there's one female.

Easy, right? The female is wearing a tight blouse and a too-short skirt--because of course the only female mentioned must be objectified and judged, and sexualized.

Anyone willing to guess what type of writing requires the use of such a sexist stereotype to make its point?










No?

Well, I know you are all dying to know.

It's a math book.

From the link:
It's easy to think, "If you can't handle one less-than-perfect sentence in a book, you're too delicate to be here" or "Why are you so worried about this when there are people who have it so much worse than you?" But it really is relentless. One bumbling sentence is small on its own, but it's part of a sea of messages women and men receive starting when they are infants: women are looked at, men look.
This male gaze stuff is so pervasive, that there's invariably a backlash when anything is written or created specifically from and for a female perspective.

Don't know what I mean about male gaze? Just think about these:

Outraged fans: What do you mean, an all-female Ghostbusters movie?
Non-exclusively male gaze: did anyone bat an eye about the all-male Ghostbusters movie?

Outraged fans: What do you mean, a MadMax movie with a female main character?
Non-exclusively male gaze: did anyone complain about the three previous MadMax movies, where only the male title character was the main protagonist?

Outraged fans: What do you mean, the main character in your science fiction novel is not white, male and straight?
Non-exclusively male gaze: did anyone even notice how many (as in, virtually ALL) science fiction up to the past couple of decades had only white, straight male protagonists?

This is one of the biggest obstacles to actual equality: the internalized sexist attitudes we all have; they are so much a part of our cultural identity, that for most of us they remain unexamined and unquestioned, and it makes us acutely uncomfortable to be called out on them.

Our first instinct is to say, "but I am not sexist! I don't objectify women! I respect women" and so on and so forth, while rushing to defend sexist attitudes, beliefs and behaviours.
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Old 06-06-16, 01:29 PM   #14
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Re: International Women's Day 2016

A while back there was some discussion on the lit general discussion forum about whether or not women (and not-straight, not-white people) were fairly represented in literature, specifically science fiction.

Some of the responses were, "well, women have won these many awards in the past decade, so yeah, they are more than fairly represented." I am not convinced, and I certainly hope that someone with more energy and time than me will go to the trouble of finding the truth, backed up by actual numbers, soon.

In the meantime, I continue to hear that women are now 'over-represented' all over the place. For example...

Anyone familiar with the "Stuff You Missed in History Class" podcast? Well, it so happens that they keep getting these complaints about becoming a 'women's history' podcast. Poor men are so under-represented, after all. (Which is why there are no women in US currency, and why so many are freaking out that Harriet Tubman will finally* replace a slave-owner white male on the twenty dollar bill.)

At any rate, the good people behind the "Stuff You Missed in History Class" podcast have grown just a wee be weary of receiving the same, baseless, complaint. Their response is glorious--and includes pie charts illustrating the gender split in shows, going back to 2013.

Behold!:
"Even though it should not be a problem to talk about women more than we talk about men, we’ve gone back into the archive and looked, and what we’ve found is that a sound majority of our shows that could be classified as “men” or “women” are about men. Even through dedicated, continual effort to talk about women, we still don’t even come close to a 50/50 split. (We also make a concerted effort to talk about other underrepresented groups, which does include men of various races, ethnicities, sexual orientations, religions, etc., which accounts for a big chunk of why we’re nowhere close to parity in terms of gender.)"
There will always be people who will dispute facts, but I for one find it lovely when things are in black and white (or, as is the case here, pink, blue and grey).

As for the line, "it should not be a problem to talk about women more than we talk about men," I can see how some people, mainly men, will feel their hackles raising. My response? Women make up roughly half the population on earth. Women have lived with conversations centered on, research geared for and about, decisions made by, MEN, for centuries. I wonder how, exactly, it would be a problem, or unfair, or discrimination, or sexist, to have an even split, or even to have a few more conversations about women now.

~ * ~


*and by finally, I mean, sometime in the next four to six years.
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Old 06-20-16, 06:29 PM   #15
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Re: International Women's Day 2016

As I've said before in this thread, I am a genre romance reader.

For many years, this was not something I said out loud--and to this day, when people become aware of this, the response is a smirking, condescending smile, often followed by a variant of "aren't you smarter than that? why do you waste your time on that trash? oh, you like mommy/soft porn?"

I am more than a bit tired of that bullshit. It says a lot more about my interlocutor in those exchanges, than about me, frankly. So, online or IRL, my response tends to be the equivalent of a blank stare; I'm done defending my reading choices, and genre romance brings in enough money that it should need no defense.

One would think...

At any rate, that's a rant for another day.

Today's rant is brought to you courtesy of yet another intersection of various interests.

I am a fan of the first three Outlander books (I have read the first six, and I also own the seventh tome). I am a reader of romance. I am interested in how art and literature written by women tends to be dismissed and belittled by 'the mainstream.' I am infuriated by how many people use women's work--and their money--to propel them into a 'more respectable' sphere, whereupon they'll immediately distance themselves from the original source of their financial and artistic success.

Behold, Diana Gabaldon, as discussed in BIBLIODAZE's excellent "The 'Outlander isn't a romance' problem:"
An outdated industry’s refusal to embrace the creative, financial and cultural benefits of work made exclusively by and for women is not our problem. If they want to miss out on a billion dollar a year field that helped to pioneer e-books as a mainstream means and self-publishing as a legitimate literary outlet, they’re missing out big. Clearly Gabaldon’s publishers saw this potential and latched onto it for Outlander, which received a 500k first print (10 times that of a science-fiction debut at the time) and almost immediately became a sensation amongst romance readers. They took the money happily when it benefited them. Gabaldon took the money. To use an appropriate, if hackneyed, term, she bit the hand that fed her.
...
Gabaldon’s disappointment that a romance marketed Outlander may be ignored by men also signals the driving force of not only publishing but the entertainment industry at large. Regardless of changing demographics and high-profile flop after flop, Hollywood still works under the constantly refuted assumption that straight white dudes aged between 18 and 49 are the ‘default mode’ for life, and everything outside of that becomes a niche group that could never be considered universally relatable. There’s no financial incentive behind getting more dudes to watch the show. The biggest share of that viewership is women, and in an age of ‘peak TV’, gaining any audience over 7 figures is something to behold. Romance on TV is nothing new either, and it’s been popular for decades: From Moonlighting to Cheers, Friends to Futurama, Bones and Booth to Castle and Beckett. Fans come back for the love.
Indeed.
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Old 06-30-16, 12:43 AM   #16
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Re: International Women's Day 2016

Upthread, I touched on the incredible gender bias in healthcare.

Among other things, I mentioned that often, when women are in pain, we are told that 'it's all in our heads.' Unsurprisingly, insurance companies are also happy to tell us that sexual issues--from low libido to vaginal dryness--are also in our heads. Men with low testosterone and/or erectile dysfunction just have to watch tv or go online to find multitude of options for treatment--most, if not all, of which, are fully covered by their insurance.

Women? No, little lady, first you have to go get your head shrunk; then...We'll see.

Or, you know, live with it.
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Old 07-02-16, 01:19 PM   #17
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Re: International Women's Day 2016

On the first post of this thread, I stated that I am a feminist, and I expanded on that by repeating something often lost in the acrimony that word evokes: I want women--and people who do not reflect a strict gender binary, and people belonging to minorities of all types--not to be second class human beings.

Because the reality around the world is that, no matter what the laws on the books may say,* people are treated differently by society, based on factors which are beyond their control (sex, gender identity, color, ethnicity), and which have no proven bearing on their actual capacity, skills, talent, professionalism, or performance in any area.

There are many reasons groups of people treat other groups of people as 'less than,' but those are not static factors. We can change this toxic environment.

The first step? Acknowledge there is a problem.
The media is selling the idea that girls’ and women’s value lies in their youth, beauty, and sexuality and not in their capacity as leaders. Boys learn that their success is tied to dominance, power, and aggression. We must value people as whole human beings, not gendered stereotypes.

The second step? Take action. Think about these issues. Learn about these issues. Talk about this issues.

Check out The Representation ProjectHere are the trailers for both MissRepresentation and The Mask You Live In; consider yourselves warned for language and offensive imagery, particularly on the first one.




Is this the world you want your own children (or anyone you care about) to grow up in?



Edited to add a long footnote I had forgotten:

* From the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence of the US: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed."

Conveniently, we often ignore the fact that WOmen make about half the population of the planet, and just over 51% of the population of the USoA as of the last census. This all important document ignores women's very existence. We also often ignore that many of the governed by use of those just powers can't really consent when their voices are systematically silenced by the system, legal and social.

Please note that further exploration and discussion of the political ramifications of race and gender should be done at MyPolitics; however, it's impossible to talk about how equal things are for all people, in the books, without mentioning just how un-equal things have always been.
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Last edited by azteclady; 07-02-16 at 03:45 PM. Reason: forgot a footnote :headdesk:
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Old 07-20-16, 04:28 PM   #18
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Re: International Women's Day 2016

(My apologies for the lack of commentary for this link--not up to it, for many reasons)

On the relationship between misogyny, domestic violence, and mass murder:
"1 in 4 women expected to be a victim of severe physical violence by an intimate partner in her lifetime."
...
“We raise our boys with an acceptance that violence will be part of their behaviors (’boys will be boys’), while teaching them to repress all feelings except for anger (’boys don’t cry’), in a society which objectifies girls and women,” she explained. “While problematic in and of itself (’patriarchy hurts men too’), we see that abusers overwhelming come from abusive background, and thus only replicate patterns they have learned during their childhoods, patterns which, while criminal, are ultimately reinforced in a number of ways in a masculine culture of violence.”
Source.
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Old 07-29-16, 04:59 PM   #19
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Re: International Women's Day 2016

I have many feels about many things right now--among them, the nomination of a white woman for the presidency of the US by a major political party. Hate her, love her, be indifferent to her, the mere fact that she was nominated is breathtaking.

But since talking too much about the candidate herself would immediately veer into verboten territory (though, there is a forum for that), let's celebrate feminism and race, by checking this twitter trending hashtag: BlackWomenDidThat.

And lets ponder how few of them we, as a society, are familiar with. How many names of minority women have been erased from history. Their sin? Being female first, being non-white second. (See Lenora Fulani)

Equality has many facets--lets make them all shine.
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Old 08-09-16, 03:51 PM   #20
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Re: International Women's Day 2016

From Sarah Gailey, at tor.com:
We love her and we hate her in equal measure. We feel that way because she revels in being all the things that we are told we aren’t allowed to be. She is confident, and she has wrinkles, and her nose isn’t a formless nonthreatening comma in the middle of an ill-defined wide-eyed face—it’s a knife, or an arrow, or a scythe. She frowns. Everyone in the audience and on the internet wants to talk about whether or not she’s sexy but they’re asking the wrong questions and she’s laughing at them for it. She wears bright colors, nonprimary colors that coordinate with her green skin or her purple eyeshadow. She’s too good for this game, too smart for her boss, tired of getting stepped on. She gets mad and she gets even.
Go on, read the whole thing.
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