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Nov. 11th, 2010

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Not Fees-Able

I went on a march yesterday. I went on the march because I spent four years doing an undergraduate degree, six years doing a PhD and two semesters building up teaching experience to find that higher education in the UK is no longer a viable career choice if you value any kind of quality of life at all and also that it will be very difficult from anyone of my background to follow suit.
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Feb. 19th, 2010

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(no subject)

Ubuntu is analogous to bisexuality, in that it's an often-neglected third option which offers greater possibilities than either of its two more popular counterparts.

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Feb. 15th, 2010

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Bored now

Tell me a secret.

(comments screened, anonymous commenting enabled, say if you're okay with unscreening)

Feb. 8th, 2010

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Fuck Valentine's Day, long live St Cyril and St Methodius Day

Well, mes chers, it's that time of year again. The red hearts bloom in shop windows, Tesco has perfume on special offer and you can't see for pink chocolate boxes, balloons and flowere arrangements that will surely go rotten between now and the 14th. I still have broadly the same attitude to Valentine's Day that I did last year, even if it has been relaxed a little to allow tea at the Dorchester the day afterwards, with my favourite Jones.

I also relented enough to reproduce this lovely little meme of mirabehn's, because it's good to have an excuse to be nice to each other, right?

In celebration of Valentine's Day and the Feast of St Cyril and St Methodius, and for use of any and all people who wish to use it - I'm aiming it at my friends but have no objection to others -

- Comment with your username

- Leave signed or anonymous comments to people who have left their username, saying nice things about them. As this is for St Cyril and St Methodius as well as St Valentine, they do not need to be flirty, sexy and/or romantic though obviously they are very welcome to be! But friendly comments and intellectual comments are just as appropriate because those are St C and St M things. Obviously where appropriate leaving ones that are all five is much to be encouraged. ;-)

On you go, then. I'll start off, because I'm a slag that way.

Sep. 23rd, 2009

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Walt Whitman, Hans Christian Andersen, Bessie Smith, Marlon Brando, Frida Kahlo and ME

Today is International Celebrate Bisexuality Day, did you know? I'm quite tickled by how it falls just after my birthday, as though it were just one in a week-long seminar series called Celebrate Aspects of khalinche's Identity Week. The Highlands and Islands Society of London is having a ceilidh on Saturday, after all - maybe tomorrow there could be a Bolivian anthropology workshop, and a food festival on Friday? That'd be great. Anyway. Here are some reasons to celebrate bisexuality today:

1. To make up for the way that no one bloody notices us the rest of the time. I listened to 'The Reunion' on Radio 4 the other day, the programme where they bring people involved in historic events back together to reminisce about it. The discussion this week was about Stonewall and historic campaigns for LGBT rights. It covered the lowering of the age of consent, the lifting of the ban on LGB people serving in the British military, the abolition of Section 28 (which made it illegal for teachers to 'promote' homosexuality in schools) and civil partnerships. Nobody, once in the whole hour even spoke the word 'bisexual' or mentioned the existence of bisexual people. Likewise, I went to a (billed-as) LGBT literary evening a couple of weeks ago and sat through a (rather annoying) author repeatedly referring to it as a 'lesbian and gay' event. Well, I'll fuck off home then!

2. To give thanks for the increased possibility for threesomes facilitated by bisexual people.

3. To give us a space to bitch about the constant assumptions that we'd be up for a threesome.

4. To rejoice in the endlessly astonishing fluidity and joy of human sexuality.

5. Because gathering a load of bisexuals in the pub is usually fun.

More bisexual people: William Burroughs, Janis Joplin, Clark Gable, Patrick Harvie, Calvin Klein, Joan Baez, Reggie Kray, Daphne du Maurier, Tamara de Lempicka, Josephine Baker, Danny Kaye, Burt Lancaster, Katharine Hepburn, Susan Sontag, Ethel Waters, Billie Joe Armstrong, Gavin Maxwell, Iris Murdoch, Ruth Benedict, Aleister Crowley, Arthur Rimbaud.

I know this is preaching to the choir somewhat on LJ, so this post has another purpose: to invite you all to the Pembury Tavern in Hackney this evening (if you're able to make it) for the official London celebration. I won't be there, sadly, but you're likely to find me there another day, when I will still be bisexual and the beer will still be good.

Also, that iffy assumption contained within the word 'bisexual' that there are only two genders to be attracted to? Yeah, that bothers me too.

Sep. 9th, 2009

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I bet this is an iPhone app by now

Google Calendar should really have a widget that adds an automatically generated, but customisable, menstrual cycle day-tracker. It could have a 28-day overlay counter for those of us who take hormonal contraception or who always have dead-on clockwork 28-day cycles, and a one-click application for everyone else where we could select Day 1 and it would number the next 30 days, or however long your cycle was, so you knew roughly when/where you were. Then, of course, on your next Day 1, even if it falls on Day 17 rather than Day 29, you just click to re-designate it Day 1 and it numbers the following 30 days and so on. I would find that much easier to keep up with/be aware of than the current manual page-numbering system I have in my paper diary.

Why hasn't this happened yet? Or has it? Do you want to write the code for it, maybe not for Google Calendar but for some other equivalent program?

P.S. Here is a post I liked very much about how we should just get the fuck over ourselves and start talking openly about menstruation in society as a whole. I would not have necessarily made this a public post without having read that. But why filter this? If I'm not talking about the unpalatable wet and bloody details of menstruation, but rather the expediency of being able to keep track of it, then why be hushed about it? I have consequently decided it is Not Sensible to pretend that menstruation doesn't exist to the extent of not making public posts about it. Besides, I would quite like for someone to make code for a menstrual-cycle-tracking-widget happen!

Sep. 1st, 2009

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The gender dynamics of our savannah ancestors looked curiously like those of 1950s America

This is very awesome indeed:

and judging by the url it was made by sabotabby. But I saw it on a completely different blog! sabotabby is famous everywhere, it seems.

(Apologies if there is a restricted view owing to journal layout. The original is viewable through the links above)

Aug. 27th, 2009

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A Few Things To Stop Doing When You Find a Feminist Blog, by Harriet Jacobs

This post on the Fugitivus blog gives a very funny rundown of the man-commenting-on-feminist-thread-with-point-which-has-been-debunked-a-million-times problem. (Quoting at length here. All the following words are hers, not mine.)


Well, That’s Really Interesting, But Have You Perhaps Considered The Status Quo? Just My Two Cents

"This takes way too many forms. Some examples:

1. Have you perhaps considered that women sometimes act like bitches?
2. Have you perhaps considered that men are ignorant of their own acts of cruelty and oppression (and thus blameless)?
3. Have you perhaps considered that others may be made uncomfortable when you discuss oppression?
4. Have you perhaps considered that stereotypes are there for a reason?
5. Have you perhaps considered that sometimes men get treated really shitty and unfairly because of their gender?
6. Have you perhaps considered taking the oppressor’s face in your hands, gently smoothing back hir hair, softly and sweetly whispering your message in hir ears with lots of words like “maybe” “sort of” and “I’m not blaming you”? I think the people who treat you horribly would be very receptive to that. Just my two cents."


"Imagine you work very hard at your job, and yet you have a boss who is a fucking moron. Your boss knows nothing about the work the company does. Your boss doesn’t even know the names of the products. All your boss knows how to do, apparently, is walk around with a very smug look on their face, occasionally saying something like, “Have we considered… advertising our product?” and waiting for the advertising department to praise such a profound and remarkable idea. And if you do not praise your boss, your boss gets angry. Your boss tells you that you are not a team player. Your boss tells you that they got where they are by hard work and ingenuity and hustle, and you could show a little bit more of that, don’t you think? Also, have you considered using this new internet thing he’s hearing so much about? That’s why he gets paid the big bucks, you know, ideas like that.

This is what you do when you walk into a feminist conversation and ask whether or not we have considered that sometimes men get turned down by girls they like and that hurts their feelings."

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(no subject)

I'm finding a mini-streak of posts on my friendslist abut mistaken impressions and misconceptions interesting. Some time ago I wrote a similar post, about things people thought about me that were incorrect - that I'm about five years older than I am, that I'm vegetarian and that I'm not Scottish, seem to be the main ones. I don't think those have changed significantly but I'd be interested to know what other perceptions you had of me which turned out to be wrong, and (again) what people seem to take for granted about you which is inaccurate.

Aug. 21st, 2009

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Park signs update

So, a few days ago I found the wording on some signs in a park annoying. There had been an attempted rape and the park managers' response was to put up notices warning women not to walk by themselves in the park. Since I object to being told where I can and cannot go, and being implicitly blamed for being attacked if I don't follow someone else's rules, my housemate and I made some alternative signs reminding people through parody that if women in the park were being attacked, probably by a man or men, then the blame lay with the (probably male) attacker rather than their victims. (For a well-argued post about the pitfalls of putting the onus on women to protect themselves from violence, by such means as limiting their movements, please see livredor's thoughts here). It turned out quite a lot of you liked this approach! I honestly wasn't expecting so many people to respond, and I'm sorry not to reply to every single comment, but I've read and been heartened by all of them, apart from the occasional troll.

So, today I got a message from davinaj, who heads a charity which deals with violence against women. She saw the post, liked it, and circulated the link around some friends of hers. Including someone in New Scotland Yard, who apparently expressed concern at the way the park management was handling the situation. There followed, in her words 'a flurry of emails' and some words between Scotland Yard and the local police, who got in touch with the park management and persuaded them to take down the signs advising women not to walk alone, and to replace them with more neutrally-worded ones written by the police. The local police have also, if my understanding is correct, offered to organise a 'prevention day' event and liaise more closely with the parks.

I am rather bowled over by the strength of reaction to the post in general and also by the action taken by davinaj and her contacts in New Scotland Yard to put pressure on the original signmakers to be less victim-blaming in their approach. What I do hope, though, is that new, more neutral signs go up quickly rather than after a week of bureaucratic back-and-forth, preferably at the same time that the old ones are being taken down. I am not advocating for all warning signs to be removed: if a crime has been committed and is likely to happen again, people should know about it so they can make their minds up as to how they want to manage their own safety in that area. That might mean not walking by themselves, not walking at certain times of day or night, avoiding the area totally or trusting themselves to be able to fight off an attacker. One of the biggest reasons the original signs rankled so much was that they presumed to make that decision on behalf of female park users, rather than simply giving information regarding attacks and trusting people to make their own decisions.

So, I'm afraid there won't be any photos, as the signs will presumably be down/replaced by now. If new signs don't appear soon, maybe we should all go to the park (on, say, Sunday) and put up our own, and have a park-party while we're at it. What do you say? And what would your alternative signs say?

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November 2010



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