Posted by: PharaohKatt | 02-11-2012

3 Reasons Why Reading Cracked Is Bad For Your Health

This year I am doing NaBloPoMo instead of NaNoWriMo. This is the first of hopefully 30 posts, which will range from funny to serious, and everything in between.

Every day, I and billions of other people visit a small, relatively unknown website called Cracked.com. I’m here to tell you that despite it’s obvious appeal, reading Cracked is bad for your health. How bad? I’ll let you decide.

 

#3: You won’t get any sleep.

I’m sure you all remember this strip from XKCD. In case you can’t be bothered to click that link, it’s a strip where Cueball is stuck endlessly reading TV Tropes, a site known for it’s ability to suck people into a world of never ending browser tabs.


It’s like a black hole inside a vacuum cleaner inside a Michael Bay film.

Cracked is like that, but thousands of times worse. At the end of each article are five other articles “Recommended For Your Pleasure”. If this wasn’t bad enough, they sometimes link to articles from inside other articles!


Yo dawg, I heard you like articles…

Unlike TV Tropes, each page is full of interesting and disgusting factoids in easy-to-read list form. You will click on link after link after link until, before you know it, five hours have passed. In fact, it’s been an hour since I started writing this post! Thanks Cracked.

But how is this bad for your health?
Sleep. That thing you should be doing each night while you’re up reading Cracked articles. Studies have shown that sleep deprivation can lead to early death. Our brains need that time to recharge, fix itself, and process information. Not only that, but thousands of road deaths every year are caused by sleep deprivation. It’s serious stuff.

 

#2: Your Friends Will Turn On You

Remember all those interesting and disgusting factoids I mentioned earlier? They will stick in your brain like a leech. Like some sort of weird, extra-sticky brain leech.


Ew.

What to do about those slimy tidbits threatening to burst from your skull like a chest-burster in your head? Unless you have a burning desire to attend quiz shows every night from now until you die then there isn’t much you can do.

Except share them with every person you know!


It’ll be better than 1000 Christmas presents!

But how is this bad for your health?

Remember that guy who went on and on about how dinosaurs were birds after watching Jurassic Park III? That’s you right now. With every new piece of useless information you relay to your friends, another imaginary hammer gets lodged into your skull.


I’m looking at you, Eric!

Truth is, your friends don’t care that language can effect your perception of colour, or that in 1883 an island in Indonesia exploded so loudly that it could be heard in Perth. No really, they don’t care. Right now you’re the annoying kid in class who always has his hand up to answer questions that the teacher didn’t even ask.

And they will retaliate. Violently.

 

#1: You Will Turn Into A Neurotic, Germ-phobic Hermit

Do you remember that article about six things dirtier than a toilet? Of course you do. You also remember the articles about five and six diseases that science can’t explain. And who could forget the six things your body does every day that can kill you? I sure as hell can’t!


And neither can he

But how is this bad for your health?
That should be pretty obvious. It’s pretty hard to go about your daily life when you’re worried about all the diseases money can carry. In no time at all you’ll be washing your hands in alcohol every other minute and putting disinfectant in your washing machine.

Oh, and that headache you have? That’s clearly your body trying to eat your brain.

But don’t worry; you won’t have any friends left to mourn you after you’re gone.

This has been written in the style of a Cracked article. Hopefully the Cracked staff won’t find it and decide to sue. Also I have been up far too late finishing this and should probably go to bed right about now.

Posted by: PharaohKatt | 14-06-2012

Review: Is Breast Best? Cherry Healey Investigates

Note: I am not a mother (yet, gods willing), and so have not had any personal experience trying to breastfeed. I came into this documentary curious, and also trying to gain some knowledge about what I might face.

Introduction
Recently I watched a documentary on iView called Is Breast Best? Cherry Healey Investigates. Cherry Healey is a woman who created a birth documentary while she was pregnant. After her child was born, Cherry tried breastfeeding but suffered mastitis and infection, and so gave up and turned to bottle feeding. This documentary explores the various reasons women quit or don’t start breastfeeding, as well as her own guilt at bottle-feeding her child.

Problems Breastfeeding
One of the first things the documentary discusses are the various issues that can occur when breastfeeding. Cherry talks to new mum Emma, who is determined to breastfeed but is having trouble. She talks about how her nipples are cracked and sore, and about how painful feeding is for her. Some shots of the cam inside her house show Emma exhausted and close to tears while her baby wakes up hungry and struggles to latch. Cherry comments how strong she finds Emma, and how she would have given up.

There is a happy ending, though. Emma connects with a breastfeeding support group, and is given some help and advice. A lactation consultant shows her a proper latching technique, and after a few tries Emma has renewed confidence, and breastfeeding doesn’t hurt her as much. Hopefully she’ll continue to get the support she needs and will breastfeed for as long as she wants to.

Teen Mums
One of the groups of women that Cherry talks to is a support group for young mums and pregnant teens. What’s interesting about this group is that most of them bottle feed, or plan to bottle feed. Cherry questions the women involved and tries to understand why this might be.
“If you’re a teen mum, and then you get your boob out… even though it’s for the baby, if you get your boob out you automatically a slag.” one woman said, to murmurs of agreement from those in the room. It really saddens me, but the truth is that teen mums face a whole lot of discrimination. Add to that the discrimination that people face for breastfeeding and you have a great big pile of shit to deal with.

Another factor that was talked about was the lack of visibility of breastfeeding. One of the mums said “I always see older mums breastfeeding, so it’s something older mums do. Teen mums therefore don’t, teen mums bottle feed.” When questioned, she said that if celebrities were breastfeeding more often, if breastfeeding was more commonly shown, then she probably wouldn’t feel that way.

It really strikes me that we need more positiv portrayals of breastfeeding. Not just in the media, but everywhere. The symbol commonly used to denote infant is a bottle; what does that tell you about breastfeeding acceptance?

Success Stories
Something that really pleased me about the documentary was the number of success stories that were shown and talked about. I’ve already mentioned Emma at the beginning of this review, and how she got help from a support group. Cherry also talks to many mums who have breastfed successfully, including one who had planned to bottle feed but breastfed for 11 months!

She speaks to many women who described their breastfeeding experiences. The different ways of feeding were quite interesting; one of the women was still breastfeeding at five years, another was just getting back to work after 6 months and was expressing breast milk for her baby. She also met with a group of Lactivists who were encouraging businesses to put up “Breastfeeding Welcome” stickers. It was a real encouragement to me as someone who hopes to breastfeed one day.

Benefits of Breastmilk
Cherry admitted that she felt the need to justify her choice to bottle feed because of the guilt she felt around it. However the documentary never shies away from the importance of breastmilk in child development. Although some time was given to the article I Formula-Fed. So What? (the author was interviewed) a much larger percentage of time was spent talking about the benefits of breastfeeding. Health benefits, bonding benefits, the convenience of breastmilk… it was spoken about by many different people through the course of the documentary. It was stressed again and again and again how good breastmilk is.

Breastfeeding In Public
Just before I finish, I want to talk about a small segment in the documentary that really struck me. Emma would go into the bathrooms to feed her child because she was too scared to breastfeed in public. Cherry made an effort to support her in breastfeeding in public, and accompanied her to her first attempt as moral support. This was an incredibly uplifting scene. Having this scene as well as showingt he Lactivists who were asking businesses to visibly support breastfeeding, and the feeling I got was that breastfeeding is something that should happen in public.

Conclusion
I really enjoyed this documentary and would certainly recommend it to my friends. I would be interested in hearing from someone who has had experience breastfeeding or bottle feeding, and how they feel about the doco.

Posted by: PharaohKatt | 09-06-2012

Aussie Spec-Fic Snapshot 2012

The Australian Spec-Fic Snapshot has just happened for the fourth time, and I was interviewed!

To check out the full awesomeness of the snapshot (and you should) check out the links round-up (helpfully alphabetised) here.

My interview is here. I’ll give you a snippet now, and please make me happy by checking out the full interview :)

1. Having just come out the other side of Doomcon (Swancon 2012), was the con everything you hoped it would be? What were your highlights? 

The con was everything I had hoped, and much better than I expected. I had a fantastic crew working with me to make sure everything got off the ground. I set out to make it as woman-friendly as possible, which was not an easy task. As progressive as the SF community likes to think, it can still be just as sexist as the rest of the world. I benefited a lot from having people in the committee who shared my vision, so when I said I wanted to promote female work and female achievement no one questioned it. More than just supportive, the committee was actively trying to think of ways to make this happen.

There were a few moments that made me quite proud. Most of these moments weren’t inside the con itself, but part of the organisation of it. When the programme books came back from the printers complete with an Anti-Harassment Policy I was over the moon. Every time I had a woman tell me they were excited to be on a panel item I felt glee.

At the end of the day, the thing that mattered the most to me was seeing the end project come together. You get to a point where everything is going to happen regardless of what you do, so you can sit back and ride it out. That was probably the most thrilling experience of the con.

Thanks folks! Hopefully I’ll start properly blogging again soon.

Posted by: PharaohKatt | 08-05-2012

The Avengers: A Review

Hello kittens! Last week I saw The Avengers and I am psyched to talk about it. Beware of going forward, there will be spoilers!

The Good

The Avengers  overall was a very fun film. It was all go, right from the start, and did not let up on the action.

I quite enjoyed Scarlet Johansen’s acting as Black Widow. She was all kick-arse, managing to use her femininity to outsmart the enemy in a way that didn’t feel exploitive. I loved absolutely everything about her character. Well, everything except the fact that they kept calling her “Romanoff” instead of “Romanova”.

I was also fond of Gweneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts. This was easily her best performance as the character. The only disappointment was that she was barely in the film. Actually, that’s a big disappointment. Why wasn’t she in this film more? Huh? Huh?

More good. Right. Hulk! Hulk was fantastic. This is probably the best of all the Hulk movies. It certainly has the best one-liners.

The dialogue in general was great. Joss is known for writing witty and intelligent dialogue and this was no exception. My favourite lines of the film were: “Hulk? Smash.” and “Some god”. He also managed to bring out a lot of the best characteristics in the characters. I already mentioned Hulk, Black Widow and Pepper, but he also did a wonderful job on writing for Tony Stark. He managed to subtly convey that Tony was an alcoholic without going into preachy territory. I expect his drinking to be more severely dealt with in the next film (by the other characters).

The Bad

Let’s start with Hawkeye. Hawkeye was briefly introduced during Thor but hasn’t had a movie of his own. In fact, he didn’t have any lines and wasn’t mentioned by name in Thor so if you aren’t an avid comics reader I wouldn’t blame you for saying “Who the fuck is that?”. There was some explanation that Hawkeye and Black Widow were connected but nothing about why he as in the Avengers, nothing about why he uses a bow and arrow, nothing about anything really.

Moving on, I’ll talk about Loki. Loki, Loki, Loki. Anyone who knows the tiniest bit about Norse mythology knows that Loki is the Trickster god. And yet in this film he spent the whole time being broody and serious and angry and winey. Where was the fun? Where was the trickery? Damn it, dude, you’re supposed to be a trickster!

The Ugly

This is the part where it gets Personal. As always I watched the film with my feminist hat on, since I can’t actually take it off, no matter how hard I try. And this film has some pretty big failings.

Firstly, it did not pass the Bechdel test. It didn’t even come close to passing the Bechdel test. There were three main women in this film if you include Pepper Potts (thoguh given her screen time, that’s pushing it). I can count the number of times these women were in the same room on one hand. Compare this to the eight main men who often riffed off each other and had some pretty interesting conversations. This especially bugs me in a film written and directed by an ally.

It didn’t do too well with race, either. The main team were mostly white, with the only PoC being Nick Fury. On the Avengers air carrier you see a couple PoC running around, but not many. Compare this to the number in Loki’s team and it begins to look more than a little unbalanced.

Overall I enjoyed the film. It was fun, it was fast, it was fabulous. I just wish that it could have gotten a few more things right.

7/10

Posted by: PharaohKatt | 01-05-2012

Diablo III and the Pants of Injustice

The Diablo III open beta was last weekend. I’m not going to get into all the technical issues because those are bugs which can hopefully be fixed. What I am going to talk about is the character designs, and more specifically how pants on a woman somehow transforms into a tin, tiny skirt.

The issue of female costumes in games is one that has been explored numerous times by numerous people. The disparity between male and female clothing in games is one that comes up again and again and again. Let’s have a look at what I’m talking about.

Ok, the barbarians look fine. Both are wearing next-to-nothing, but their barbarians so that makes sense.

Another two that look the same. These are the monks, and again they are wearing next-to-nothing. I’m beginning to see a trend here.

And the trend is broken with the demon hunters. Here we have a man in pants and a vest with practical boots. What is the woman wearing? High heeled boots and a mini skirt, plus an impractical shirt that doesn’t cover nearly as much as the man’s does.

Woah. The magician is even worse. The man is completely covered, head to toe. Yet the woman is in a boob tube and mini skirt. What the fuck?

You’ll notice that all of the women are wearing next to nothing, which is why the earlier pictures don’t look as bad. But taken as a whole it’s a very disturbing trend, especially when there are fully clothed man in places where it is appropriate.

There’s one more character, but this one is problematic for a different reason. This is what the witch doctor looks like:

Yup, you saw that right. The only black character in the game is a witch doctor. This plays into racist stereotypes of black people being “primal” and “native”.

Somehow I don’t think Diablo III is a game I’ll be playing.

Posted by: PharaohKatt | 02-01-2012

Australian Women Writers Challenge

Hello everyone! Welcome to 2012!

This year I am going to be taking part in an exciting project designed to showcase Australian women: The Australian Women Writers Challenge. I’ll let the creators of the challenge explain:

Objective: This challenge hopes to help counteract the gender bias in reviewing and social media newsfeeds that has continued throughout 2011. It actively promotes the reading and reviewing of a wide range of contemporary Australian women’s writing throughout 2012, the National Year of Reading.

Exciting stuff, huh?

I’m hoping to be a Franklin-Fantastic1 dabbler2, with an extra level. Following the lead from Lauredhel at Hoyden About Town, at least 2 of the books I review will be by Aboriginal Australian women. I’ve signed up on GoodReads, and will link my reviews from there.

Wish me luck!

1: Read 10 books with at least 4 reviews
2: More than one genre

Posted by: PharaohKatt | 27-12-2011

How To Threaten A Dominant Culture

This post was sparked by a discussion I was having with Alisa Krasnostein and Kaelajael on twitter.

In this culture, men are the dominant ones, a fact that is incredibly obvious in the literary world. Women are expected to read the “classics” written by men and to appreciate them, whereas men not reading women’s work is “normal”. Women are expectted to be bilingual, to understand the works of men; men are not expected to do the same for women’s work. In this culture, works by men are “universal”, whereas works by women are considered “special interest”.

But apparently it doesn’t take much to threaten the dominant paradigm.

There is a readers challenge taking place next year (which I will be a part of but haven’t posted about yet) called The Australian Women Writers Challenge.The challenge is to read as many Australian women writers as you can, and then post as many reviews as you can. It is a personal challenge where you pick your own goals. The idea is that with so many blogs promoting women, women’s work will get a higher standard in the literary community than it currently has. Women writers will become more well-known, and stuff generally considered “special interest” will be one (small) step closer to universal.

Other people have been doing similar things. Ben Payne, for example, made a commitment to consume at least 50% women this year (The year of equal consumption), in books and music etc. These are different ways of dealing with the same problem: women’s work is overlooked and underrated.

But trying to correct this problem leaves those in the privileged majority chomping at the bit. Sean from Adventures of a Bookonaut has posted about one such response,pulling out the bingo card in the process. Although the post he discects appears to be an isolated incident as far as the AWWC is concerned, it is by no means the first time I’ve seen this type of response online.

Whenever people challenge the status quo, the status quo challenges back.

This is the same response we see from right-wing media outlets decrying the “War on Christmas”. When people attempt to include religions other than Christianity in their holiday celebrations it’s seen as an attack.

It never ceases to amaze me how small the challenge has to be for privileged folk to get up in arms. Try to celebrate women? You’re giving special treatment! What about the men! Try to be inclusive? You’re attacking us and our culture! Anything that does not support the culture is seen as a threat. But why?

Is the number of writers who can be celebrated finite? If we support some women will we have to kick the men out of the treehouse?
Is Christmas so delicate that the thought of people celebrating something else enough to ruin your entire holiday?

Seriously, what gives?

The only answer I can come up with is that it make privileged folks address their privilege. If we support women, they think of how often women are forgotten, of how many of the “best” and “classic” lists seem to ignore women’s achievements. Maybe if we start thinking critically about our lists we’ll suddenly realise that some of the men on there in the past haven’t actually been as great as we make out.

Good.

Posted by: PharaohKatt | 22-12-2011

Summer Holidays Pt 2: Celebrating Litha

Yesterday I posted about one of the traditions my family has surrounding Christmas; today I’m going to talk about my own summer holiday, Litha.

Litha is the celebration of the Summer Solstice, which this year fell on the 22nd of December. It is a celebration of the power of the sun, a time when the Godess gives birth, and takes on a new role as the Mother. It is also a reminder of the coming autumn, as the days from this point will only get shorter as winter takes hold.

For me it is a celebration of Brighid, the tripple Goddess I honour as Mother. It is also a time of celebration, or brightness and dancing and joy. It is a time of generosity, a time to clean and renew. It is a time of birth and rebirth.

I am a solitary Pagan, so I celebrate Litha on my own. This isn’t ideal, but it’s what I have to work with. This year I spent the day babysitting for some friends of mine. We made things and played in the sun – not specifically for Litha, just a happy coincidence. Then after dinner, I went outside for my own, private ritual.

Traditionally Litha calls for a bonfire, but fire restrictions in the Australian summer prohibit this. Instead I lit three candles, to represent the tripple nature of the Goddess. I had a relatively short ritual, where I gave my praises to the sun and moon and earth. It’s also traditional to give an offering to the Gods at this pont, but since I was completely eaten by mozzies I figure that’s enough of an offering ;)

It’s really tricky when you’re on your own. I have to piece together what I can from books and the internet. All I can do is my best, and hope that the Gods accept that.

Posted by: PharaohKatt | 21-12-2011

Summer Holidays Pt 1: Holiday Traditions

It will come as no surprise to those of you who know me that I don’t celebrate Christmas. I am a Pagan and as such Christmas is not one of “my” holidays. However, my family celebrates, and LM’s family celebrates, so we inevitably end up celebrating with them.

There are various traditions that our families have which we take part in. For example, my mothers family has a gathering each year (not on Christmas day) where everyone brings heaps of food and we exchange gifts in a secret santa. LM’s family meet on Christmas eve and light sparklers while saying “feliz navidad!”.

Most of these celebrations stress me out and frustrate me. I am not a very social person and I find myself storing up as many spoons as I can just to survive. I also end up drinking to help ease the stress that socialising can give me. No, I’m not proud of that, but it stops me from doing even more destructive things.

Despite all this there is one tradition I actually find myself looking forward to. I didn’t realise how much I enjoyed it until last year, when I found myself giggling incessantly as I thought about it. My favourite thing about the summer holidays is gift giving with my immidiate family.

It’s not the presents themselves that make the event fun (though, hey, who doesn’t like getting new shit?). It’s the wrapping. You see, my family has this strange tradition when it comes to wrapping presents.

It started as a money saving measure. Wrapping paper was expensive, so we would wrap our presents in old newspaper or a sheet or towel. Somehow this involved into the weird prank-fest that surrounds our giving today. We’ll wrap our presents in layers. We’ll cover the presents in duct-tape to try and make them ludicrously hard to open. We’ll bury presents in dirt. We’ll give gifts that are clues to quests to find presents.

We get up at oh-fuck o’clock in order to be finished in time for my parents to go to church; it takes a very long time to get everything finished. It’s gotten a lot more fun since my younger siblings grew up because now our conversation is almost adult (I say adult because it’s also terribly juvenile :P). Basically, terrible fart jokes have been replaced with terrible sex jokes. Because we’re grown-ups now!

This is easily my favourite holiday tradition.

Posted by: PharaohKatt | 29-10-2011

Reclaim The Night: Open To ALL Women?

UPDATE: Reclaim The Night Perth is no longer organised by ROAR, which kinda makes this post invalid. See comments for more information.

 

NOTE: I am a cis woman, and as such not personally familiar with trans oppression. If I have made an error or hurt/offended you, please let me know and I will correct it.

Reclaim the Night organising meetings and protest are open to

all women and children.

This is the first line under the How to get involved sections on the Reclaim The Night post on CHOGM Protest.org. but how accurate is it really?

Reclaim The Night marches have rightly come under fire for being transphobic and openly hostile to trans women. “Women Only” often means “cis women only” when used in feminist spaces.

This is something many activists have been working to challenge, with positive results. This year, Reclaim The Night Melbourne has explicitly stated that trans women and gender queer people are welcome:

As such, it is completely autonomous (women identified or bodied or socialised – it is important to note that this is deliberately inclusive of our trans community).

Their language is a little bulky (“It is asked that people who are not female identified/bodied/socialised or trans or gender variant self-exclude from the event this year.”) but the intent is there.
Reclaim The Night London has also decided to become explicitly trans inclusive, stating on their website:

All women are welcome at Reclaim the Night, including: women of all colours and cultures, of all religions or none, women of any age, disabled women, able-bodied women, heterosexual women, lesbians, trans women, bisexual women, refugee and asylum-seeking women and any other women you can think of!

This is fantastic news and should be celebrated! But the fight is not yet over. Unfortunately, Reclaim The Night, Perth – run by the ROAR Feminist Collective – is still not welcoming of trans people.

In case you are unaware, ROAR Feminist Collective is a women-only radical feminist group in Perth that are mostly inactive now (as far as I can tell), but meet fortnightly to organise RTN. They were responsible for a horrible piece of transphobic bile (Link to PDF) last year, which stated (among other things):

It has been strongly argued by feminists, Aboriginal rights activists and other groups who experience
subordination, that who gets the right to determine (for example) who is a woman and who is
Aboriginal, is very important. And ROAR argues that it is very important that those who do get to
make that determination are the people who have lived their whole lives, through absolutely no
fault of their own, in a body, in a culture (or descended from a culture) and / or in a group who are
subordinate. In this case, that means women who have been assigned female at birth

(Emphasis mine)

Given the history of this group, I have always been wary of attending events run by them, including RTN. This year is no exception.

On the Facebook page for the event, this conversation occurred:

Claire Litton asked: “hey there, are transwomen welcome at this event?”
Kat Pinder replied: “The organisers have not developed a particular position, other than the event is for women and children. Analysis’s of trans politics can be divisive, time consuming and often unlikely to reach consensus, so it is not something that we have even attempted to reach a decision about this year. I know some womyn who are attending who would not welcome male to trans people and differing perspectives on female to trans people. I am aware that trans identified people, who were raised as males, have attended the event last year and the previous year.”

Let’s break that down. First, the idea that trans politics are divisive. Sure, when you go about claiming that trans women aren’t real women, that’s pretty divisive. It’s also pretty fucking dangerous. Transphobia kills hundreds of trans people every year! But let’s not talk about that. Some cis people might get their feelings hurt and we don’t want to be divisive now do we!

The second aspect I’s like to discuss is the othering and third-gendering language used here. “Male to trans”, “female to trans”. Trans is not a gender. Trans is a definition used for people who are not the gender they were assigned at birth.

And hey, while we’re talking about inclusivity, you might notice that RTN Perth now explicitly allows male carers of disabled women to attend:

Women whose attendance is dependent upon a male carer are welcome to bring them along.

Inclusive, right?

Not exactly. Look where they’re holding their meetings:

A photograph of a coffee shop "Exomod Coffee". The entrance to the coffee shop has stairs.

H/T to Lauredhel.

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