Listening to the radio this morning I heard interviews with people in muslim communities airing their views. I know many muslims are horrified by what has happened (in case you do not know, click here for for the BBC news website), but there are a number that have voiced their opinion that either the terrorists were correct in murdering people who drew cartoons of Muhammad and made jokes about Islam or others who are indifferent claiming they bought their death upon themselves.
The enormity of the event and it's implications is still reverberating around the world. The level of censorship demanded by Islamic extremists is ridiculous in this day and age. I don't know what the backlash is going to be and I do place the blame on religious fundamentalism, of any creed. Faith is fine until it impinges upon the rights of others. If you want to live in countries where your rights are respected, you have to in turn respect the rights of others, regardless of faith, regardless of their opinion, regardless of their life choices and how they express themselves.
Here is a link to a series of cartoons making commentary on the attack.
Cartoonists show solidarity after Charlie Hebdo attack
There is so much pervasive pressure in media to look a certain way, and people in general do not help situation when they stare or, worse, make disparaging comments about people who look different. This is highlighted in an article in The Telegraph "If my face upsets you, it's your problem not mine." The article features a woman, Joanna Corbin, with a birthmark on her face and tells of her own difficulties with how people react to her.
I have a scar on my face, through my lower lip. It stems from a nasty dog bite when I was 14. I had a plastic surgeon repair the horseshoe shaped wounds and he was able to match up the line of my lips very well. The scar is very faint now but the whole area is slightly raised and I can see and feel it all the time. Most people don't notice the scar until they see me on a particularly sunny day and then will ask "What is wrong with your face/lip? It looks swollen". It doesn't bother me now. When I was a teenager, however, it did bother me and the scar was a livid red for several years before it settled down. This led to a particularly painful time when I was the but of all jokes about dating ugly girls (you can imagine what it was like to go through this between the ages of 14 and 17). It has left me with paranoia and I am very self-conscious about the scar, having to put on make-up before I leave the house or even allow family members to see me in the morning.
My scar is minor and my issues stem from school years, but I can imagine that it must be challenging for those who are affected by the type of behaviour described in the article on a regular basis. Not everyone will judge, but enough do to have a big impact. We cannot tell anything about an individual from how they look. We do not know if they are intelligent, kind, hard working, brave or anything else. One of the reasons I love alternative lifestyles is that people tend not to be too judgemental about appearance. Something to keep in mind next time we encounter someone who doesn't look like everyone else.
PLEASE NOTE - POTENTIAL TRIGGER WARNING.
Coercive sex or rape? More men will admit to using coercive sexual practices and aggression towards women when terminology other than rape is used. An excellent article by +Kimberly Chapman ( https://plus.google.com/u/0/+KimberlyChapman/posts/Botux1aTsAh ) discusses these issues and recent research on the topic. Worth a read but please note the trigger warning.
https://plus.google.com/u/0/+KimberlyChapman/posts/Botux1aTsAhPerception around the word rape is a complex issue. It took a long time for me to admit I had been raped because I didn't want to use that word. I was coerced. I was harmed. I didn't consent. I said no. But I still find using the word rape difficult. When I was dealing with some of the confusing emotions resulting from and after the events (it happened more than once so years apart) I hesitantly used the word rape when talking about them to my (male) partner at the time and was shouted down. Consent is everything. If you cannot get clear, unequivocal consent or if the individual is saying no or is not capable of giving consent then you should not be doing it.
BDSM plays with issues of Dominance and submission, either reflecting, reversing or twisting typical gender stereotypes that seem to be perpetuated across society about masculinity and femininity. But consent is always at the heart and there is a huge amount of emphasis on ensuring consent is in place, whether via the use of formalised M/s contracts at the extreme end or the use of safe words in play situations. Fictionalised forms of BDSM, such as Fifty Shades of Grey, do not place the emphasis on informed consent and that particular book demonstrates an abusive rather than empowered dynamic. Forcing and/or coercing someone into sexual situations they are not comfortable with is morally wrong. You do not have the right to chose what happens to another adult's body without their consent and your wants/needs do not supercede their right to a choice. It doesn't matter whether you call it rape or coercion, it is the same thing and if terminology is an issue, using a combination of terms might help to get the message across.
I love tattoos and I have four myself. This video shows how the needles work in slow motion. i found it fairly interesting to see even thought I was aware of the process having been through it.
My first tattoo I did on a whim. I was clinically depressed at the time, in my second year at university and struggling with a lot of things at once. I desperately didn't want to fail at uni and in the end I did turn it around and got a first class honours degree, going on to do a Masters and Ph.D. The tattoo was when I started to turn things around and was on the upswing. I was 20 at the time and walking past the tattooists on the way to a laboratory practical, as I did on a daily basis, got it into my head that I really wanted one. one the way back down the hill I went in and an hour later had my first tattoo. I am still very fond of it. I know quite a few other people who have the same tattoo, the chinese symbol for strength.
My second tattoo was in commemoration of a friend who was dying of cancer and is a tribal raven. I got it done while he was still alive. My husband at the time decided that i wasn't allowed a tattoo, just like I wasn't allowed to cut my hair without his permission. It was towards the end of our relationship and resulted in a very nasty argument and physical violence. It was the final straw in my relationship and I got the tattoo done a couple of weeks after we finally split.
My other tattoos were done this year, one of a work subject that i have been doing research on for a while, the axoneme of a cilium, and one inspired by artwork from The Levellers.
There is always a fair amount of criticism about tattoos online. It is part of the same, ongoing story of others trying to dictate what you do with your own body. I get that some people don't like them. Some people do. People who like them may or may not want to get ones done themselves. They may have good reasons for getting tattoos, they may not. Some will regret them later on in life. I don't regret any of mine 16 years after getting my first one. I can't imagine I will regret any of the others either. They are part of my life and my history and I am rather proud of them.
A good article was brought to my attention this morning that encapsulates similar thoughts that I have had when referring to a significant other.
I have been referring to my significant others as partners since my early twenties. Like the author of the article, the term boyfriend and girlfriend seems too casual and without getting married the alternatives are rather sparse. A good point is also made in the article about how using the term partner removes the ability to make assumptions about the relationship. Is your partner male or female, hetero-, homo- or bisexual, poly or monogamous?
As most significant other terms, girlfriend, wife, husband, boyfriend, also come with a gender bias that is prevalent in human society, I appreciate the way partner reduces this. I have been asked on more than one occasion if I am gay based on my use of the word. I usually reply, truthfully, that I am bisexual, which further disguises the gender of my partner. It is also useful in poly situations. While I do have a primary partner, the one I share a home with, it negates the sense of a hierarchy within my personal relationships. As I have said before, I don't love one of my partners more than the other, I love them in different ways and for different reasons. One I can live with and share my life, they meet the vast majority of my needs and I consider them a life partner. Another partner is my balance. They are not in my life as often and they don't need to be, this reflects the nature of our dynamics but doesn't lessen the depth of our feelings or intensity of our interaction.
I think it may have been a topic of discussion for the crew that moved my mother's furniture across the country. One of my partners supervised the loading of the furniture at one end, while the other supervised the unloading of furniture at our house, a few hundred miles away. :)
Interesting article on IFLS that I came across today, discussing the possibility of "gay" genes or, and perhaps more accurately, genes that cause strong attraction to either males or females, regardless of what gender the individual is.
The article can be found here. IFLS and another, more details one on The Guardian site.
Not all gay men will have these genes and while this verifies an earlier study indicating that homosexuality is heritable, the science is still relatively new.
What I find interesting is the potential link between men and women and how this affects attraction, as discussed in the IFLS article. Do both men and women who inherit these regions show strong attraction to males? Is this an example of balanced polymorphism as suggested? Interesting speculations and certainly worth keeping an eye on in the future.
I really like these bikini tops. I find it a shame that they don't come in all skin tones from the start but other skin tones are in production. they were brought to my attention by this article http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2014/06/24/tata-top-free-the-nipple-campaign_n_5525668.html
The tops can be purchased from the Tata top site. :)
I have always found it peculiar that female nipples are treated differently from male nipples. Why is that? I have heard the arguments about their function, their ability to arouse men to the point at which they lose control etc. I am of the opinion that if more women went topless in the same context there men chose to be topless (i.e. when appropriate, generally not at an office or lab workspace, but on a beach or in the garden etc.) then it would be less sexually provocative. This seems to be the case in some of our more liberated European neighbour countries where nudity is not illegal, although may be restricted to certain areas. As far as function goes, male lactation has been reported and males can certainly breastfeed (male lactation) once the correct hormones have been stimulated (in the same way that women can lactate even when they have not been pregnant). So once again, why cover up female nipples? No logical reason that I can see.
Note: I am aware that this is a problem for only certain regions of the world and that the dictation of what is and isn't acceptable for women to do and wear is far far worse in other countries. It is part of the same spectrum but in no way similar.
Alzheimer's is a heartbreaking condition and one I am watching my mother suffer through at present. Her condition is the early onset form, which creates its own unique challenges. The daily mail has published a series of cartoons drawn by an illustrator charting his father's decline due to dementia. It is comforting, sad and poignant, evoking the distressing side as well as some of the positives. I am not sure what our journey will be or what the future holds. I hope I can hang on to some of the good times, such as colouring her hair today and laughing together. Love you mum. I will be there for you, in the good times and the bad.
The saddest goodbye by Tony Husband
Newspapers and media outlets have a really irritating habit of defining people by their personal relationships to others, and this is never more apparent when they speak of professional women. A good example of that was brought to my attention today, Margaret Archer, a female professor and the most senior female in the Vatican has the headline refer to her as "grandmother".
Why is the media so focused on a woman's ability to generate progeny? Woman from all walks of life can and do plenty of things apart from reproduce and maintain a family life. Last year there was controversy about how Yvonne Brill's obituary seemed to place the emphasis on her role in family life rather than the amazing work she did in rocket science.
It seems to happen all too often for women and I have encountered it throughout my life. When the topic of jobs comes up during a social occasion and meeting new people (the exception being at a conference, but then we ask about research and not what we do for a living) the most common response is surprise ("you don't look like a scientist") and asking me to repeat what I just said.
Define the individual and their accomplishments, not their socially acceptable "role" with respect to other people.
Also, this debate has completely gone off track from the subject being tackled, upholding the rights of those who have been enslaved and abused. I don't care whether she is working for the pope or not, whether she is a mother, daughter, grandmother, cousin etc. it is an issue that needs more focus and hopefully it is her professionalism that will help her to get the work done.
Skeptical kinkster musing on whatever takes my fancy!