Otterday! And Open Thread.

Today’s host otter isn’t nervous, exactly. Maybe it is a little bit concerned, but that’s not the same thing.

closeup of a river otter's face. The otter is looking directly into the camera witha  concerned expression.

[image shared by Joachim S. Müller on flickr]

Please feel free to use this thread to natter about anything your heart desires. Is there anything great happening in your life? Anything you want to get off your chest? Reading a good book (or a bad one)? Anything in the news that you’d like to discuss? What have you created lately? Commiserations, felicitations, temptations, contemplations, speculations?

Categories: Life

Tags: , , ,

26 replies

  1. More exams, and I am coming down with a cold, and house hunting for me this week.
    Anyone see that horrible Elizabeth Farrelly article about how women are naturally not able to be intelligent writers? And yo, feminists, stop with the girly stuff already, someone might think you valued feminity! Wrote a take down on my blog, anyone else do one?
    Oh! And I am also hosting the next Down Under Feminists’ carnival, so go check out this post!

  2. Away for a weekend of crafting with Ariane (shonias) and other friends. Finished the weaving that has been on my loom for the last 10 months last night – there was much rejoicing, had begun to think I was never going to be done with it!

  3. Ooh, show us a picture of your weaving, mimbles? I’m looking forward to working on my crochet jumper as soon as these exams are out of the way.

  4. Wow. “I’m not misogynist, I just think women are stupid and worthless”. Jo, I really pity that woman’s poor daughters.
    Question for the academics here. You probably think I should already know this, but theatre scholars are a bit odd, in that we scavenge our methodology from other people’s nests, so we sometime have gaps. Is there an established authority on the comparison between dehumanizing the enemy in times of war and dehumanizing women? I mean someone you’ll look like an idiot if you don’t reference, like Sedgewick on homosocial bonding, or Mulvey on the male gaze.

  5. What’s happened to that otter’s spine? There are cats that can’t bend like that.

  6. My seventh grandchild was born last week and mum and bub are settling into a routine at home.
    We had a family get-together in Sydney last weekend to celebrate our youngest sister’s 50th birthday. I love my family and enjoys these occasions.
    I was invited to be a panel member for a session of the AFP’s Gay and Lesbian Liaison Officer’s training course here in Canberra last Thursday and recieved quite positive feedback during the BBQ that followed.
    I’ll be heading to Brisbane next week to see my youngest daughter and her family and to help with the childcare during the school holidays. A nice time of the year to be in Brisbane rather than Canberra!

  7. @Jo, this is the one I finished last night –
    @Peta, congrats on the new family member and the successful panel session 🙂

  8. What’s happened to that otter’s spine? There are cats that can’t bend like that.

    And why has Marvel not given it any clothes, like Otterman’s full body costume?

  9. @orlando
    I don’t know about ‘established authority’, but you might find Klaus Theweleit’s book ‘Male Fantasies’ interesting. It deals with the psychology of the Freikorps in Germany just after World War 1.

  10. Otterday!
    I’m pretty new to this blog, but am addicted already.
    I was wondering if anyone here has posted about the conflicts between liberalism and feminism – particularly when freedom of religion comes into conflict with women’s equality?
    I’d love this blog’s take on the issue. Reading the latest post (about rape culture and online attacks on it), I kept thinking of the “modesty” and religion arguments: ie – can you be a feminist and still believe that it’s incumbent upon you to protect men from their own desires with your dress? Can the act of swathing yourself be a feminist act?
    I tend to be a bit hard line about this subject for myself, but I’m fascinated by what others – particularly those who are not religious – believe.

  11. It’s OK, otter. The shrieking eels do not get Buttercup at this time.
    Among things that have not been OK this week: Thieves ransacking the car and leaving our possessions (including kids books and toys) over a wide area at the mercy of wind, rain and passing traffic; having to put down one of the chooks; and snotty, coughy illnesses striking this house.
    I impulse-bought a rainbow umbrella as a gesture of defiant cheerfulness.

    • Sunset – {{{{{hugs}}}}} if you want them – that does sound like a not-OK week 😦
      I hope the rainbow umbrella is at least lifting your spirits.

  12. Ipomen Scarlet,
    do you read shakesville dot com? One of the blogmistress’ oft used sayings is “Your rights end where mine begin”. Which conflicts between liberalism and feminism are you thinking about? Raising kids in a faith? Gender segregation in a place of worship? Positions of authority or service being attached to particular genders?

  13. can you be a feminist and still believe that it’s incumbent upon you to protect men from their own desires with your dress? Can the act of swathing yourself be a feminist act?

    I’m no expert in this area, but I think you may be conflating two different things here. I think choosing to wear a burqa can be a feminist act – because you are liberating yourself from the male gaze. Are the women making this choice also doing so to protect men? I don’t know, but I don’t think so from what I have read. But there are many Muslim feminists out there who can answer this question for you.
    This blog is a good one to get started with an understanding of what a burqa, niqab and hijab are, if you don’t already know. I get them confused. Once you have that, google should be able to help you with some more links.

  14. Can the act of swathing yourself be a feminist act?

    Or can it just be an act? I swathe my breasts in public (now that I’m not lactating). And, incidentally, my belly, my pubic area, my buttocks, and, when not swimming, my thighs. Sometimes I swathe the top of my head and shade my eyes. My feet are almost always covered in public. Which is these is feminist, which antifeminist, and which neutral? The meanings will change from place to place and person to person. Read some Muslim feminists; as far as I know, none of the bloggers here identifies as Muslim.

  15. I’m also not a Muslim, but as I understand it, even in a full burka, it’s quite acceptable (to conventional Muslim culture) for a woman’s feet to be visible and exposed. The meaning of exposed or non-exposed body parts varies a lot.
    I’ve been trying to have a think about this, and I don’t think I have any idea what a secular feminist in early 21st century Australia should wear to dress in a feminist manner.
    Men’s clothes: harder wearing, less emphasis on being on display; but centres masculinity as desireable.
    Women’s clothes: all the issues of enforcing feminine norms, fashionability, sexual display, etc.
    Dressing for comfort: comfortable, but I, at least, would look like I’m going out in public in my pyjamas and/or dressing gown.
    Dressing for action: I’d be wearing lycra that would either be construed as sexual display, “showing off” my desireable body or being ridiculed for not being aware that my body is mock-worthy. (I don’t know what category my body is in currently. When I was younger, I was definitely assumed to be showing off.)
    Dressing for joy: fun, but may not be taken seriously. (My favourite happy-making skirt has cartoon animals and birds. And pockets.)
    Cheap bought clothes: manufactured by what is effectively slave labour
    Expensive bought clothes: classist, possibly still manufactured problematically.
    Bought clothes also have a lot of issues in terms of sizes and shapes that are catered to.
    Second-hand clothes: In my experience, astoundingly time-consuming, compounds the size and shape issues, and the manufacturing question is only deferred (underwear and socks).
    “Wrapped” clothing: sarongs, saris and togas tend to be seen as dress-ups, too casual, or culturally appropriating.
    Home-made clothes: time and resource intensive, skills not everyone has, could be seen to enforce cultural norms of femininity. When I include wanting clothes to be well-fitting to the wearer regardless of their size and shape and perhaps breaking cultural norms around gendered clothing, we get into quite technical issues of design, pattern-making and fitting that I happen to have some skills in, but couldn’t remotely expect of others.

  16. Because of reasons I am now going to assume that, unless you email me and tell me I have somehow fucked up and that you want it fixed, I am awesome and perfect.

  17. You know that little voice in your head that tells you how useless you are? It hasn’t worked out how to send emails yet – take that little voice. Ha. And thank you.

  18. Sorry for not responding earlier: not sure if I missed the boat here.
    Firstly, thanks for the considered replies to my questions.
    FWIW, my musings were not about Islam specifically. Female modesty is an issue across a number of religions. I just find that people are most aware of the debate within the Islamic context.
    My religion, Orthodox Judaism, has a real bee in its bonnet about women’s bodies and voices as well.
    I’ve also been very close with people who identify as Muslim – though they were quite irreligious – as well as having studied various facets of the religion at uni. Basically, it’s not unfamiliar to me.
    And I have close relatives who “swathe” and who are feminist.
    As a staunch small “l” liberal, I also subscribe to the idea that people should be free to do as they please as long as it doesn’t affect other people.
    But here’s where my initial question was coming from: while I don’t see “swathing” as an absolute marker of oppression (and to claim a causal link is even more problematic), there’s definitely a correlation.
    In Israel, there are ultra-Orthodox women who strongly defend the bus lines in which women have to sit separate from the men, and at the back of the bus. They will even use feminist language to support the practice.
    The fact is, though, that such women are seen as second class citizens by the men, regardless of what they themselves feel and they reinforce this by acquiescing and sitting at the back of the bus for modesty reasons.
    So the individual women may be feminist, but their compliance with certain standards of modesty reinforce misogyny.
    And here’s where the small “l” liberalism becomes difficult: their acquiescence makes life much harder for women like me who don’t want to sit at the back of the bus. The “feminists” at the back of the bus (which is publicly owned by the state which has outlawed such segregation) will join in the threatening chorus.
    There are many equivalent situations regarding Muslim modesty.
    I’d never suggest that misogyny is the sole preserve of Islam. I can’t remember the study that showed women are worst off according to a number of indicators in India. And for us Orthodox Jewish feminists there’s a universe of discrimination that we’re fighting. I don’t imagine things are so great in the Catholic church either.
    The thing is, I think liberalism’s single greatest flaw is that it – ironically – constrains one’s ability to criticise anything that doesn’t affect one directly.
    Apologies for the ramble. This is a topic very, very close to my heart.

  19. My response to that Ipomen Scarlet is a bit of a cop out – I just sigh and think to myself that feminism is a broad church and we won’t always agree. For all I know those women sitting up the back of the bus are actually making great steps in their private lives to make their husbands more feminist and perhaps the next generation of children will think and act differently because of those women. Maybe not.
    One of the things I have decided about my feminism is that it is not feminist (for me) to be telling other people how to live their feminism or even that they must identify as feminist. Because if I do insist they do it how I want it done, I am ignoring the decades of hard work put in by white western feminists before me which allow me the privilege of not understanding what other feminists might be up against in their cultures. So I deny my own history and their reality.
    In my actions, should I ever be in a position to do so, I will sit at the front of the bus and take the flack because it is my belief that I can sit wherever I bloody well please.

  20. Hi Mindy.
    I totally get your position.
    The thing is, what if we need you?
    I have a foot in two civilisations: one in which women enjoy privileges and rights unimaginable in other times and places, and another that requires immense struggle to achieve anything like equality.
    I want people to poke their noses into my non-feminist civilisation and to feel they can say: this is not feminist.
    In fact, there are times that if we do not speak out, I believe we do betray feminist ideals.
    The extreme end of modesty is clitoridectomy and infibulation. Not speaking out here is morally equivalent to not speaking out against genocide or any other crime against humanity.
    It’s easy to sink into cultural relativism: a defence of clitoridectomy/infibulation is that it liberates women from the tyranny of sexual desire and can – in theory – free women from the need to have a man at all.
    Female genital mutilation could not exist without the support and perpetuation of women. It is often women who perform it. It is for me to speak out against it, because if I don’t, who will? Do I know better than those who perform mutilation? Maybe not. But if I exist with a particular moral paradigm, that question ceases to be relevant.
    Or let me put it another way: there were blacks in South Africa pre-1994 who were fearful of the impending Rainbow Nation. For various reasons, they felt they would fare better under Apartheid than not. Was it our business to condemn Apartheid, even if had nothing to do with us and there were blacks who did not want change?
    There is a horrific gender apartheid in many places. Somehow it’s easier to condemn unequivocally discrimination when it affects both men and women.
    I and many of my Muslim and Jewish sisters *want* you to help us. We need you help. It was only international outcry, for example that moved the Israeli government to look into the segregated buses.
    And Saudi Arabia is also very aware of international scrutiny on the women’s driving issue. One Saudi feminist activist was protected from jail and worse because – via the internet – she received global support. Many of her female compatriots, however, do not want to be “liberated.”
    The thing is, when one decides to stand back and not get involved, one is still making a choice. One is tacitly supporting the dominant side. There is no genuine option to do nothing.
    One final thing – so sorry for all this rambling – women’s liberation has a direct correlation with the general health of a society and a especially a society’s children. I feel we are obligated to speak out on many, many levels.

  21. I’m not saying I won’t support you, I’m just not going to tell you how to do it.

  22. Am involved in a discussion about teacher and students in romantic relationships. My thoughts are that as long as it is kept at a professional level while the student is still at school, what happens when the student graduates is between the two consenting adults. On one side a commenter who thinks that students would and should be able to brush off a teacher making advances and on the other someone completely squicked out by the very idea. I am completely wrong according to them both but for completely opposite reasons. Also because feminist I suspect. Am surprisingly having fun.

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