IVF

Apr. 5th, 2007 11:57 pm
kangeiko: (Default)
Feministing had some comments on IVF restrictions being introduced in Britain, which was automatically labelled as a step backwards in women's rights. This makes no sense to me, and it is obvious that the person writing the initial post had little understanding of what IVF involves, or what the restrictions would mean. This week's Economist had a very interesting article, with which I agree a lot more. It points out several things (which I've expanded somewhat):

Firstly, in the UK, IVF is already legsilated, preventing the implantation of more than two embryos at a time unless the doctor deems the woman to have a very slim chance of conceiving. If it's likely that one embryo will take, why risk multiple births? However, that number was reduced from three to two at a time, and the proposal would reduce the standard number of embryos implanted in women under the age of 40 to 1 - unless she has a low chance of the embryo 'taking'.

Secondly, talking about lowering the number of multiple births as taking away choices from women is ridiculous. A multiple birth increases the risk to both mother and baby with no obvious benefit. Yes, she'll have two babies instead of one - but the chances of both babies, and the mother, suffering damage or even dying, is greatly increased. Given the choice, women would choose to have one healthy baby that they will enjoy carrying, rather than two sickly babies that may not survive. And what about the risk to the mother? Even if it's only twisn rather than five or six infants, greater risk of blood pressure trouble, diabetes or heart disease are just some of the risks the mother will face.

Additionally, this will not affect women who have little chance at conception, as they will be able to have two embryos implanted. It will simply stop multiple embryo implantation as a matter of rote. However, the efficacy of this procedure is dependent upon the number of attempts. In Sweden, they have completed this trade-off in a successful manner.

There are two issues we must consider that stem from this, rather than the perceived lack of choice for women:

1) the NHS will only cover up to three IVF attempts, and it varies by region. Many women only get one attempt, hence the drive for multiple embryos. Increasing the attempts but lowering the number of embryos is safer for the woman and the baby, but more expensive.

2) however, caring for premature infants is incredibly costly. In the long-run, increasing the number of IVF attempts while lowering the risk of multiple births will ultimately result in a smaller drain on scarce NHS resources.

All of the above, however, ignores one major point (as does the initial article - shame on so-called 'feminists' for not even considering it!): what is the role of IVF in today's society and how does it relate to feminism?

IVF is a procedure designed to correct a perceived lack in women - it helps them overcome their reproductive shortcomings. Let's read that again: a woman who does not conceive a child with a specific man has a shortcoming. Women's fertility is one of the most complicated and little-known human functions. A woman could be perfectly healthy and ovulating just fine, and yet still not become pregnant. The reason is not that she has fertility issues, but that she might not necessarily be biologically compatible with the man she wants to have a child with. She could sleep with someone else just the once, and instantly fall pregnant. It's not a question of fertility, but a question of biological compatibility.

Yet this is not something that IVF takes into account. It will force the woman's body to accept the child by pumping her full of drugs that seriously affect her mental and physical health. And all because of a perceived shortcoming on her part. After all, if the man is producing sperm, it must be the woman's fault. Newspapers are peppered with instances of women having 'miracle' babies where nature has failed - because a woman's 'natural' place is, it appears, barefoot and pregnant with her husband's baby. Never mind that she's had to turn herself into a pharmacy in the mean time. Never mind that there is a large chance that her body, and that of the baby, will suffer damage. No. Instead of a sperm donation, having someone else's child or adopting, she will have her husband's baby. And succeed at being a woman.

Now, I myself want a child one day. I do not, however, think that I will resort to IVF unless it is the very last option, as there are simply more appealing alternatives out there. Parenthood is not defined by genes, despite what fertility doctors would like us to believe. Nor is restricting the abuses of the 'fertility' business as it aims to fulfil society's demands for babies necessarily anything other than doctors attempting to protect their patients.
kangeiko: (Default)
I've had some thoughts on age and gender relations in fandom percolating in my head for a while now. I've said a few of these things before in relation to other rants, but these are specifically related to the phenomenon of de-aging and age relations. These thoughts - with a bit of enumeration in the vain hope that it'll make them make logical sense - are as follows:

Read more... )

Thoughts? Comments? Kitchen utensils?
kangeiko: (naked)
Have a read of this essay on abortion. It's very good indeed.

*

I fully expect many people on my flist to disagree with me, very loudly indeed - for one thing, I would describe myself as a pro choicer, yet here I am slating the entire movement. Also, I have little patience for pro lifers whose argument is that the foetus is a human, as 1) I don't agree, and 2) what does that make the woman, chopped liver?

Anyway, what the below is NOT about:

1. Should abortion be legal? That would be a big YES from me.
2. Should there be some restrictions on abortion? I have no idea. I'm not talking about that.
3. Women who never want children. Some of the arguments are based on the assumption that, given the choice, a woman will choose to have a child at some point in her life, and there are specific reasons why it will not happen now. This is broadly consistent with existing statistcs that indicate that most women having an abortion go on to have children later on in life. I am thus not saying that all women want children - I am talking about cases where a woman would want a child yet has an abortion anyway. I think that cases where a woman never wants to have a child and has an abortion is conceptually different, so thus I have excluded them from my comments below.

What I am talking about is the concept in a very abstract way, as it relates to a choice made by someone who later in life makes the contrary choice - i.e. a woman who has an abortion then, later on, has a baby. Thus, the focus is on what makes pregnancy and childrearing an untenanble concept at a certain point in life - but not at others.

Furthermore, I don't view abortion as killing, as view it as an abortion - a pre-emptive end to a potential life. You might disagree. These, however, are my assumptions for the below.


*

My comments to [livejournal.com profile] livredor are as follows:

"There are some circumstances where abortion is the least worst of several bad options.

It's weird. My friends and I - all avowed feminists - were trying to express this very thing. The closest thing we could come up with is: "abortion is a right you should never have to exercise". It's not quite there, but it's on its way.

I'm probably adding a whole other hornets' nest to the issue here, but my thoughts on abortion are roughly aligned alongside my thoughts on euthanasia: the loss of life is always tragic and it should never, ever be sterilised to the point where it is not acknowledged. However, it is imperative that no one is compelled into a state where they are denied certain choices about their bodies. I'm coming at this from a war-crimes perspective - my understanding of the issue comes not from the more common US Roe v Wade but from the Rwandan and Yugoslavian tribunals; from the rape-camps and the forced pregnancies and the 'breeding out' of 'undesirable blood' - so it probably colours my opinion a great deal.

I do believe that the act of abortion is a battle across the woman's body, where opposing discourses - the discourse of 'pro choice' and the counter discourse of 'pro life' (in the UK - vice versa in the US) - clash. Both of these, however, are exercising the same force across the woman's body and are thus both patriarchal discourses. (I realise that a lot of people have an almost pathological aversion to Foucault, but bear with me.) This can be seen most vividly on the body of a raped woman: she is caught between the discourses of normality and morality, both demanding that the rape had never happened and that she deal with the consequences 'ethically'. What neither of these discourses do is acknowledge the change of pregnancy without prescribing a course for the woman to follow.

In other words:

A woman who wants to have the baby will not have an abortion. Therefore, only women who do not want to have the baby for some reason will have one. I'm arguing that this reason is generated by the clash between the discourse of normality - make things the way they were, because you are not paid enough to afford a child (the male-female wage gap is ever-widening in the UK, and how will you raise a child in the US if you're paid minimum wage there?), or because you would have to give up your career, or because you would have to spend your life caring for the child, or because your parents would reject you, or any other reason that means a woman has strayed from what is socially acceptable. No 'accidental' pregnancy where the mother is not rich and independent and capable of taking care of the child with or without the father can be viewed as 'acceptable' by any of the societies I have come into contact with.

On the other hand, we have the 'moral' argument, which argues that you pay for your screw-ups and if you got pregnant, it's your fault. This, too, lays the onus upon the mother. There is no group of pro-lifers out there chasing down fathers who walked out on their pregnant girlfriends, or volunteering at the child support agencies. It is the woman's body, not the man's, who pays for the transgression of surrendering her 'virtue'.

Thus, the products of these transgressions must be killed, or accepted: but it is up to the woman to bear the burden of responsibility. Even when she is having the abortion because she cannot afford the child, it is still somehow 'her fault'. However, the fact that she is having the abortion simply means that one discourse has won over the other - not that the patriarchal discourse has been broken down. Abortion is not resistence to patriarchy, it is patriarchy manifesting in another form.

Resistence to patriarchy would not be seen in something so medicalised or regulated. Just like the regulation of insanity and homosexuality, the rules are simply the dominant discourse absorbing the aberrations into itself, catalogueing them, and then locking them up in little boxes. In the Victorian era, the only places for insanity were the hospitals and the insane asylums. Now, the places for these pro choicers are the abortion clinics, where a government doctor will assess whether you are allowed the procedure according to the rules that someone else, removed from the siuation, has set up. You will be catalogued and recorded whatever you choose - another specimen to study.

I would argue that the only true resistence to patriarchy is universally available, universally infallible birth control that is not dependent on a specific partner taking it. Maybe a situation where both partners take the pill? *ponders* Although the test-marketing for the male birth control pill is interesting all by itself and has some worrying implications, so lets leave that to one side for the moment.

Erm. Basically, what I'm trying to say is that I agree with you. Only with more words. :-)"


*

ETA: Also, the state of childcare and society actually paying for the children it requires women to produce and raise? Don't get me started.

*

[livejournal.com profile] monanotlisa? You have to read that book I was telling you about, about feminist jurisprudence regarding prostitution and abortion and pregnancy. It's fabulous.
kangeiko: (Default)
Fandom seems to be split into two camps: those who think that offering thanks for feedback is required, and those that don't. (Okay, there's a small third batch that really haven't thought about it one way or the other, but give it time.) The ones who think it's not required often use the example of 'thank you' cards offered for gifts to iterate the ways in which thanking someone for gratitude is not usual. I think that this misses the point somewhat: offering thanks for feedback is not about whether or not it is required by courtesy, but about whether it fulfils certain social functions in the (cyber)society. As with all societies, it differs depending on where you look.

Feedback is both gratitude (the 'thanks' offering) and a gift in itself. It is part of a reciprocal gift-giving that cements social ties in the cyberculture. The visitor - the newbie - turns up, introduces his/herself, and offers fic. This is the arrival gift of the newcomer. They are, in turn, offered the reciprocal gift of feedback. This is both a form of gratitude for the original gift, and a reciprocal gift. The newcomer must thus offer thanks for the feedback to complete the exchange. I'm focusing on newbies here because it is there that the social rules governing gift-giving are most often formalised, and offence is most easily given. The newbie that turns up without a gift can be greeted politely enough, but, as a rule, they are not greeted with extended conversations, merely the polite motions of welcome. The newbie that offers fic (or photos, or icons), however, is greeted more avidly with the reciprocal gift of feedback. If they are not, this is often taken as an insult and the newcomer feels unwelcome. How many of us have encountered situations where we have joined a new community or mailing list, posted something and waited anxiously to see if someone comments? Some people I know often join new communities to post their stuff to, flooding people's flists, knowing that people are more likely to respond to newcomer posts.

(A side note - I mean here newcomers to the community, not necessarily the fandom. Different communities and mailing lists comprise distinct subsets of the (syber)culture of fandom, so the [livejournal.com profile] babylon5 community, for instance, is very different from the B5RS mailing list.)

If that newcomer receives feedback and then does not respond to it, some people will be forgiving - but the more socially sensitive will be offended. The newcomer must follow the strictest rules of courtesy, not those acceptable between long-standing acquaintances. They must offer thanks for the reciprocal welcoming gift of feedback. This cements the link between the newcomer and the community - the "I turned up, I posted, everyone feedbacked, and they made me feel welcome" route to social interaction.

In the 'real world', the example of thank-you cards is somewhat flawed. More appropriate is the example of hand-made gifts - not only do you say 'thank you' for receiving them, but you also offer a compliment on the gift itself, which is then cause for gratitude on the part of the gift-giver. The notable aspect of this is that hand-made gifts are more common among close friends or family members, where the gift can be conflated with the gratitude on the part of the recipient. This implies a certain artifically  created and enforced 'closeness' to online communities which perhaps explains some of the confusion: we expect a certain degree of distance and caution when we encounter people online, yet the fandom rules dictate that we behave in a familiar manner. This may be part of the reason that some people feel that feedback is merely a 'thank you' and does not require reciprocity: it gives the wrong degree of intimate familiarity, implying that the gift was crafted specifically for the recipient's pleasure, and that the compliment goes over and above social requirements, thus resulting in a need for another thank-you.

Or maybe we're just obsessed with appearing inadvertantly rude. Hmmm. Thoughts?
kangeiko: (Default)

A few people have asked about the early American history reviews I wrote as part of the compulsory AH grad class I took a few years ago. The class actually turned out to be very good indeed, and the reviews were part of a reading journal we had to keep and hand in at the end of the course that were required to be of a publishable standard.

The first few are of relevance to those who might want to research Age of Sail or Angelverse fics, so I've included them below. If nothing else, they include some starting points on the research. The two requirements for the reviews were: to cover two articles per topic and to do so with a hard limit of 500 words per topic.

Migration )



The Early Southern Colonies )

The Founding and Settlement of New England )

Red and Black in Early American History )

The Coming of the American Revolution )

Thomas Paine, Common Sense )

Jacksonian Society )

kangeiko: (Default)

I don't know whether this qualifies as a meme. I saw it over at [livejournal.com profile] kita0610's, and I'm taking my own sweet time in writing out my responses, so I guess it does. Anyway.

10 Bullet-Proof Kinks

(varying across fandoms, no noticeable spoilers)

In no particular order - )



So, that's me. What about you guys?

kangeiko: (Default)
It's a whole hour and a half before House, M.D., and while I have to have some dinner eventually, this has been bugging me for a significant length of time so I'm gonna say what I think about it, appearances be damned. (Yeah, that means no lj cut.)

A lot of you guys have been talking about free speech, and where it stands in relation to hate-speech. I'm talking about racist remarks, homophobic remarks, all of that, versus free speech. Many people have made some damn fine points about how homophobes and racists have used the cover of free speech to protect their hate-mongering, and that there should be laws against it. I'm going to argue the opposite.

I'm a member of a minority, albeit not a particularly oppressed one. I don't feel particularly oppressed, at any rate, but this could be because my friends and immediate surroundings are generally bi-friendly, female-friendly and foreigner-friendly. I have never been the victim of a hate crime, although I have been the victim of sexual assaults. I guess that puts me above average on the scale of oppression, so I want you to bear in mind that I have a very specific background when I argue this, and I'm not expecting everyone - or anyone, in fact - to agree with me.

I don't agree with passing 'speech' laws. I find the mere idea terrifying. There is a debate raging in Britain about the hate-speech legislation that Parliament is attempting to push through and I come down firmly on the side that thinks that passing such a law is immensely counter-productive to protecting the civil liberties of the people it is supposed to protect. One of the first groups that would run afoul of this bill would be cartoonists and comics, who make their bread from religious and political parody and ridicule. Case in point - the Danish cartoons. This bill would prevent those cartoons from ever being published. many would argue that this is a good thing, that it enforces a culture of respect. I don't believe that this is true: respect, when enforced at the point of a gun, is hypocrisy. It is npthing more than a papering over of old grudges, until there is a violent eruption.

This is not to say that I find hate-speech of any kind acceptable. I actively support the work of Amnesty International and Liberty and other human rights groups determined to protect the rights of those people who have had them taken away. It is the job of governments and the international community at large to intervene when a country's government or other state apparatus is being used to systematically strip away its citizens' rights; it is not the job of governments to restore civility alongside order. You cannot promulgate racial harmony by gagging people, and it will have more virulent effects the longer this bottle-neck goes ignored. By banning the BNF from speaking in an area where they have a lot of support, for instance, you will simply increase their support base, by raising people's hackles. Funnel, instead, more government funds into infrastructure and stimulating the local economy, and set in motion more culturally sensitive integration schemes, and the support will melt away. People don't become filled with irrational hate if they are happy and content. They begin looking for a scapegoat when their lives suck and they have no one else to blame. You won't find race riots in Chelsea, but in Bradford; not in Surrey, but in Brixton.

(I want to stress again that I am talking about hate-speech, rather than hate-crimes, which are an entirely different topic. Please don't take this as a manifesto that the best way to lower hate-crime is to boost the local economy - although, truth be told, it wouldn't hurt.)

So. To recap:

1. The mere concept of hate-speech makes me physically upset. I believe, however, that passing laws regulating what is and isn't acceptable speech is not the way to tackle the problem.

2. Indeed, passing these laws:
a) exacerbates racial tensions, as it prevents verbal releases of grievences and can provide the impetus to violence, and
b) restricts legitimate self-expression.

3. Instead, the govt should stop chasing what would be a cosmetic 'fix' and focus on developing a long-term solution. Long-term solutions to racial tensions can only be achieved with more investment in deprived areas, the stimulation of the local economies to provide jobs, and a more approachable police force so that any harrassment and violence is dealt with effectively. More more channeled into victim support and offender rehabilitation programmes also wouldn't go amiss.

In short, I believe that it is the duty of the local communities - including local councils and other bodies - to help manage any tensions that might arise in an area. Central government should not be involved, as a 'one size fits all' policy (or, worse, law) will simply make things worse.

And - yes, this is a discussion post. Please feel free to voice your opinions on this matter, even if you disagree with me - actually, especially if you disagree with me. I'd love to hear what other people think on this, and what your experiences of this have been. And let's keep it nice and polite, eh, guys?

(And, also here's an interesting article with many useful links: http://www.religioustolerance.org/hatespuk.htm .)
kangeiko: (Default)
I hardly ever post to [livejournal.com profile] feminist anymore. This isn't because I am any less a feminist, or because I have found a better forum to air my views. Rather, it's because of the pandemic descent into 'yeah but, no but' style of debate that seems to have infected much of the so-called 'scholarly' lj communities. Hypothetical questions, it seems, are no-one's friend. Any theory I put together and put out there was rebuffed, but not with a reasoned argument. No - there was no focus on the shortcoming's of my argument, but, rather, an obsession with the "this (gender-related theory) doesn't apply to me, which proves you wrong as it obviously can't exist anywhere else". I find this attitude fascinating. You have never experienced racism through these variety of ways, therefore it doesn't exist? You have never been slighted in this manner, therefore it was imaginary? And these people call themselves feminists.

It isn't limited to feminist forums, either. Any political / social opinion is now being rebuffed with 'yeah but, no but, it doesn't apply to me'. Explain to me how this affects anyone's argument in the slightest? You didn't find the Danish cartoons offensive? That doesn't mean that other people didn't find them offensive. (I am, by the way, most definitely not commenting on whether they should have been published or not as that's an argument for another time. I am merely speculating on the cause of this descent into infantile 'rubber and glue' approach to disagreement.) There seems to be a growing - and frightening - conflating of opinion with fact. Cognitive dissonance is alive and well, and why shouldn't it be? We are losing the ability to look beyond our own narrow-minded views and concede that other people may be just as correct, even if they disagree with us vehemently. Look at those cartoons, for instance: it is now impossible, judging by media opinion, to both support freedom of speech and argue that the cartoons should not have been republished. You pick an opinion in this contested battleground and that is somehow imbued with a 'correctness'. Of course it is - both sides are right! But it does sound awfully like 'the divine right', doesn't it? Reason replaced divine favour; now, opinion, replaces reason.

If anyone disagrees with me, I'm going to ignore you. You're all obviously WRONG WRONG WRONG, because this is my opinion and it is therefore automatically right.

So there.

/steps off the soapbox
kangeiko: (Default)
Thoughts on the character of Will Bailey in The West Wing. Spoilers up to Episode 10 of Season 6.


The Indictment of Will Bailey )
kangeiko: (Default)
People appear confused that I didn't like the sixth book.

here's what I think - many, many spoilers )

That said - and I said much in the way of negativity - there was much I liked about the book, mainly in terms of content:

Read more... )

Hope that makes things a little clearer. Thoughts?

ETA: One of my theories turned out to be closer to the truth than I originally thought. Some dismissed it as coincidence, but 'tis not so. Not quite what I had speculated one year ago, but my main point about double standards still stands. Some spoilers, maybe, in the speculation.

ETA 2: have a look at this theory - food for thought.
kangeiko: (Default)
So I’m not quite sure what the make of this now. The terrorists were suicide bombers that were born and lived in Leeds, and were perfectly normal (except that in the last few months their behaviour had changed radically, but apparently that was perfectly normal too. Er. What?). No one is running around like a headless chicken, but people are understandably freaked at the thought Terror in Our Midst! (tm). The problem is this:

1) you need to stay vigilant, the police are saying, and watch out for any suspicious people (as well as suspicious packages, which used to be fine).
2) BUT we also need to make sure that we don’t descend into Islamophobia and racism as a consequence of the attacks.

How is this supposed to work? I’m actually quite confused. How is your average person supposed to watch out for would-be terrorists on a crowded station platform? How do you find the people acting ‘suspiciously’? Oh, it’s easy enough – find the middle-aged Arab man wearing traditional clothing, or the young Arab man looking around. But, wait – that simply involves finding the nearest Arab person and going off on one. He’s not white, and he looks ill at ease, therefore he’s a terrorist. No actual thought required.

I’m incredibly confused as to how Joe Public is supposed to locate these terrorists without descending into racism, stereotypes and Islamophobia. Because you know that it’ll happen. You know that anyone of Asian or Arab descent looking ill at ease in a major public location would immediately be viewed with suspicion. Never mind that they are probably looking ill at ease because they are aware of an increase in racial violence and a bunch of BNP card-carrying thugs are eyeing them; in the eyes of Joe Public, they are Acting Suspiciously. Instant incident.

I don’t think that the public should be more vigilant, actually. I think that such vigilance will simply result in an increase in racial tension. Perhaps not that many attacks, but certainly tension, and that can’t be a good thing in trying times. We have plenty of police around for just this sort of role, and doubtless the new ‘emergency powers’ the Security Services are asking for will be pushed through (which is another outrage, but I will rant about that later). Today you couldn’t move for London Transport Police, which was actually strangely disconcerting. I’m used to neon-clad officers moving through the crowds, but these were uniformed LTP and Met stationed at entrances. Surbiton, Waterloo and Oxford Circus had at least one officer per ten people present. The police presence was somewhat bewildering, but I’m sure I’d get used to it eventually. People staring suspiciously at each other over their morning coffee and paper? Not so much. And we shouldn’t have to.

I say again – it is not the job of Joe Public to watch his fellow citizens. If we don’t have enough police to do the job and we don’t have CCTV and it’s required to ensure our safety – well, that’s a debate, isn’t it? We should sit down and talk about it. Maybe it would be a good idea to install body scanners; maybe not. But it is not a good thing to ask the public to start looking at each other suspiciously, especially when they’re supposed to be looking for potential terrorists. That’s how lynch mobs are formed and wasn’t that the underpinning principle of McCarthyism and the Stalinist terror? The enemy are among us. Make sure to report your son / daughter / significant other today; they could be filthy Red terrorists.

While I applaud the appeals made by prominent British Muslim clerics and scholars today, saying that the British Muslim community should do more to find out why its youngsters are being led to these beliefs in conjunction with the govt tackling extant racial tensions, I don’t think that this can be achieved by denouncements left right and centre. A witch-hunt helps no-one. Instead, I would argue that what is needed is greater communication and stronger links between the different communities in the UK. We don’t need a melting pot to churn out one vision of Britannia, but we do need to foster a sense of belonging. People do not bomb their own homes or communities. They attack that which is foreign and hostile to them. This is no different from the G8 summit, where the tiny minority of anarchists that initiated violence against local people and local buildings were decidedly not local. The vast majority of protestors, especially those local to the area, were respectful and non-violent. The same principle goes for any violent groups in the UK: you don’t attack your own home. You attack that which is different, and hostile, and a threat.

If Britain is truly a place where young people are turning to extremist teachings and becoming suicide bombers, then we must examine why this is happening, or we are all lost. If we react with suspicion and hostility, then we are doing precisely what the bombers and the planners behind the bombings wanted. I’ve lived in a society where you could be denounced at any moment as a dissident or a subversive simply by virtue of my ethnic composition. I don’t want to do it again.

*

Originally linked via [livejournal.com profile] mousewrites’s journal, I saw the following comic strip and was amazed. Mark Millar does the G8 summit, July 6th: see it here.
kangeiko: (Default)
Last night I found myself talking at cross purposes with [livejournal.com profile] weaselator again. It has happened often enough and bothered me enough to have a think as to why this keeps happening. It didn't use to. I am almost positive that it didn't happen before. I was running through the entire conversation in my head when it finally hit me (like a truck, or a train, or other similar object with a great deal of momentum):

I wasn't actually arguing something contrary to his worldview or opinion. I was actually arguing against the universality of his worldview or opinion.

I am positive that this is something I picked up since starting at LSE. Or, rather, that this is something formalised debating has been attempting to hammer into me for the last six years and it's only just sunk in. If I was debating what I felt to be 'my' side, I'd set up an argument and say, "right, then, take your best shot". But, somehow, I've recently ended up doing more opposition prep (or playing devil's advocate) than not. So, rather than stating an argument that I felt weak to begin with, I'd poke holes in the other's person's argument. Easiest way's to take their side, run with it - and then end up in a situation where it doesn't apply.

Case in point - we were discussing the idea of 'Europe'. [livejournal.com profile] weaselator argued that Europe was a political entity outside of formal alliances and maps because the principle of self-determination made it such. Now, this makes perfect sense, except if you apply it to a case such as Palestine where the principle of self-determination matters not one whit. It's not so much that self-determination is irrelevant or wrong in defining an entity, but that it doesn't always apply and is thus dependent on other factors (such as political weight, economic strength, how huge your weapons are, etc etc).

The reliance on atlases - another tangent - was yet another thing that may work in general but in specific instances will not work. So, [livejournal.com profile] weaselator argued that a poll of twenty or thirty atlases, all showing 'political' maps, will all have roughly the same idea of what 'Europe' constitutes. Jay (over for dinner and probably rather confused as to whether this ritualised combat was normal after-dinner conversation) agreed with me that it depends what country issued and atlas and when. Take a USSR-era atlas. The conceptualisation of Europe will be very, very different.

My argument wasn't so much that I had an alternate vision of Europe to which people should subscribe, but to force a stalemated acknowledgement that alternate visions exist.

This explains the jumping around and the tangents we were forever taking. He had a city state and I was a bunch of marauding hoardes, looking for a weakness in the defences. It was... weird. Especially because he was growing more and more bewildered that I wasn't making my point, and I was growing more and more frustrated that he wouldn't acknowledge his position had flaws. At the end of the day, that was my position.

This is why I have decided to blame formal debates and especially LSE. I used to have opinions. Now I just... disagree. ("Ah, but you'll see that in these circumstances, your position is untenable!")

I'm not quite sure what I think about that. But there must be something wrong with it.
kangeiko: (Default)
In otherwise well-written fics the random capitalisation of 'Bi' (as in, bisexual) has been driving me crazy. Why do people feel the need to capitalise what is quite clearly not a proper noun? Those same people would baulk at capitalising 'gay' or 'straight'. They would be exceptionally uncomfortable if anyone around them were to capitalise 'homosexual'.

more ranting, some citations and a sausage. )

Yeah, OK, no actual sausages were included. I just needed to rant a little. I somehow couldn't focus myself on my theory exam and turned in quite possibly the most superficial piece of tripe I have ever written. Woe. Ah, well, another exam on Tuesday. I'm sure that the prospect of the funding networks of Al-Qaeda and genocidal rape will inspire me.
kangeiko: (Default)
Now, I know that McGonagall wears tartan in canon. This does not excuse flagrant tartan-abuse in fanfic. Go, stand in the corner.

Tartan is not, in fact, a venerated Scottish tradition. It's quite a recent English imposition (which leads me to think that McGonagall is either Muggle-born or at the very least has Muggle relatives not that many generations off) and, really, I'm not picturing her wearing tartan robes. If JK Rowling says otherwise, she's actually taking the piss from all non-Scots.

It's also bloody heavy. And scratches itches.

So there.

ETA: 'tartan' was originally the name of the way the cloth was woven and had nothing to do with the pattern. It used to be blankets, rather than clothing, that was made of tartan cloth (although this was quite a few centuries back). Clan affiliations started cropping up via different colours because of regional differences in dye sourcing. It was only with Sir Walter bloody Scot and George IV's laws on what consitutes 'Highland dress' that tartan clan affiliations were standardised. Queen Victoria did her part too.

To wear 'tartan robes' would be akin to wearing great big woolen blanket all year long. It's heavy and uncomfortable. The cloth itself might have been of the right weight for Highland winters, perhaps, but it wouldn't have bene used in anything as close-fitting as robes that are, after all, measured and made for people. I'm taking the idea of robes from an adaptation of kimonos, that are all essentially the same shape and are made from a bolt of cloth, but vary between people when properly fitted. Kimono cloth - be it silk or polyester - must necessarily be thin enough to withstand tucking and sewing (no actual cutting is involved), without resulting in great big lumps under the arms. Tartan cloth would not be thin enough to withstand this. It's not thin enough to be made into a coat, for crying out loud, clothing would be nigh on impossible.

Except for kilts. Which are basically a bit of cloth wrapped around the middle.
kangeiko: (Default)
(I'll keep this brief because essay beckons.)

Read more... )

On a light and fluffy note, there was a pointless daytime tv programme on a couple of days ago that stuck with me. It was following the budgets of several young families on income support, or something. I didn't catch the specifics. Anyway, there was a guy there whose wife was expecting their third child. Now, these people were not well-off. Neither of them worked, they lived in a council estate, they would periodically pawn something to make ends meet etc. The guy had millions of tattoos and was missing most of his teeth; the girl had bottle-bolnde hair and was wearing hot pink clothing. Very much a stereotype, yes. Anyway, the girl's maternity money came through. (Maternity money? I had not heard of this. Apparently, you get a lump sum with which to buy baby things, which sound fantastic, frankly.) So, theyw ent off and bought baby thing,s including a wee little babysuit thingie with a matching cap. It was white, and had the england flag stitched into it, with a football logo or something. Anyway, the presenter asked, "would you buy the same thing if the child is a girl?"

The guy, glowing with pride, said, "of course I would. Any kid of mine would love football. Anyway, most of the baby clothes are unisex anyway, and it's only a baby, nobody's looking at it, you could dress it however you like. Except if you put a dress on a boy, that would be daft. Although, that Beckam's wearing sarogns and stuff, so if he can, I don't see why I can't buy wee dresses for a boy."

Which left me speechless. In a good way. Ah, the power of advertising.
kangeiko: (Default)
Yesterday, [livejournal.com profile] athena25's boy and I had a row. It was really good. Both of us have an economics background, so when I said, "I'm writing an essay on feminist economics and problems in certain strands of economic orthodoxy", well, it was like a declaration of war. What followed was a good hour and a half of impassioned 'speaking with conviction' (read=shouting in frustration) because neither of us could make ourselve sunderstood, despite speaking the same language, using the same vocabulary and even having the same economic background. What gives?

Imagine all the red faces when the boy finally said, "but we're progressing towards The Truth!" and my head exploded.

I'd been having a postmodern 'discussion' with someone who believes in an Ultimate Truth, True Reality and Linear Progression In The Entire World, What Of It?

No wonder we had no idea what the other person was talking about. We had this fundamental disagreement about the role, function and, indeed, very idea of economics, and there was no way to resolve it, problematise it, or even feel comfortable that we're actually talking about the same thing.

[livejournal.com profile] athena25 was tearing her hair out in the background during the economic!speak, and tossing out helpful bitesize definitions to problematic concepts such as 'essentialising=bad'.

Boy: "...and, really, you keep saying that such and such essentialises this worker or that gender or this concept or such and such, and I've just realised that I've no idea what 'essentialising' actually means. Why's it bad?"

ME: *head!explode* [livejournal.com profile] athena25!! Explain!!"

[livejournal.com profile] athena25 explains.

*pause*

Boy: "Yeah, OK, I still think you're completely wrong, you see, because you need to abstract in order to model, and..."

Me: *death through frustration* "That's what I've been saying! Again! And again! And again! That's the point!"

At any rate, it made me all fuzzy and glowy inside. I actually think that there may be fundamental disconnect (see, slang usage in academic thought, I'm down with the kids) between certain strands of feminism (particularly those heavily influenced by postmodernism) and certain economic orthodoxies... perhaps even with the very idea of economics itself. This leaves us in a place without conventional econometrics-based economics. This is not a bad place. Everyone hug your nearest Amartya Sen right now.

Who says you need maths to be economist?
kangeiko: (Default)
I'm woking on my 'Sexual Violence in the Media' seminar. I need to come up with a list of possible discussion questions. I've included some of my thoughts on possible questions below. I'm going to choose from the following pool of material to illustrate them:

examples )

questions )

OK, be blunt. Does this make any sense?
kangeiko: (Default)
xposted to [livejournal.com profile] feminist -

In today's The Independent:

Read more... )

Something the online article doesn't show is the graph included with the hardcopy that neatly illustrates these horrifying truths. Does anybody know of any steps being taken to do as UNAids and the WHO suggest, and apply a gendered approach to studying / dealing with the epidemic?
kangeiko: (Default)
Cut for OotP spoilers.

speculation )
kangeiko: (Default)
I originally wrote this in a slightly incoherent manner that could well be misinterpreted, so I decided to expand and explain my aversion to most kinds of rapefic.

Read more... )

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