The Lady Garden

Tea and Strumpets

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Things we liked, or didn’t like, from around the internet this week:

Via Atheist Pinko Sluts, a refreshingly sane article on the myth of sex addiction:

In thirty-one years as a sex therapist, marriage counselor, and psychotherapist, I’ve never seen sex addiction. I’ve heard about virtually every sexual variation, obsession, fantasy, trauma, and involvement with sex workers, but I’ve never seen sex addiction.

From Penguin Unearthed, The efficient frontier of shoes

All bodies are beautiful. Right?

Haters gonna hate. Here’s how not to care.

On gendered language and talking about sexual violence.

Fat acceptance and the problem of health.

In the Sydney Morning Herald today: The great sex swindle: “There is little evidence of real differences between the male and female brains…”

Something extraordinary which a friend of Deb’s shared on Facebook – a murmuration of starlings.

‘Though perhaps it wouldn’t seem quite so beautiful if it didn’t have Pachelbel’s Canon playing in the background. What if it had creepy music from a horror movie instead?

And that’s it from me (Deb). I’m signing off from The Lady Garden, for work related reasons. Many thanks for Emma and Tallulah and Coley for their company: I’ve loved working with you. Also drinking with you from time to time. Ka kite ano.

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Things we liked, or didn’t like, from around the internet this week.

Blue Milk has an excellent post on the controversy in writing about your children.

Julie Fairey of The Hand Mirror has a great column about the necessity of working to set a living wage in the NZ Herald: Pay fairly and all of society wins.

A comedian who gets it: misogynist jokes…. they’re not funny. And yes, we WILL send you straight to anti-feminist bingo if we need to.

Same old, same old, but with some data to back it up: “John” got better job offers than “Jennifer” despite having exactly the same qualifications. The data comes from science this time i.e. job offers to graduates in science who are looking for lab jobs. So much for “rational” and “evidence-based”.

Thank goodness for that! Via Feminist Philosophers, it turns out that looking at cute animal pictures increases productivity.

Something interesting to end the week. This somewhat stagnant looking pool of water? It’s Jacob’s Creek. I (Deb) took the photo this afternoon when we were on a day trip up the Barossa Valley.

Jacob's Creek

Jacob’s Creek

However, I could have spend much more time taste testing at Elderton’s cellar door – very yummy – and I was delighted to be able to go to Maggie Beer’s Farm Shop. She has a fabulous set-up and have the chance to go there, I recommend it, thoroughly.

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Things we liked, or didn’t like, from around the internet this week.

Leading the week, the 56th Down Under Feminists Carnival, hosted by the fabulous Chally at Zero at the Bone. Chally has put together a tremendous set of posts by down under feminists – well worth your time making with the clickie.

Ouch! This has made me (Deb) think long and hard about my grammar-police tendencies: Literacy Privilege: How I Learned to Check Mine Instead of Making Fun of People’s Grammar on the Internet. H/T: BlueBec

Ms. Naughty talks about whether to call her work ‘porn’:

All the other things, the sexism, the dirty adult bookshops, the bad production values… they don’t haveto be what porn is about. That is bad porn. I want to make good porn. I want to take back the word from its unfortunate past and create something new with it. Even if that means I have to add extra phrasing – feminist porn, porn for women, new wave porn, female-friendly porn. The “p” word is what people type into Google every day. As long as we’re stuck with it, I want to own it.

What if we responded to sexual assault by limiting men’s freedom like we limit women’s?

A local coalition of religious leaders, concerned about recent studies showing that an average of 6% of men will commit a sexual assault during their lifetime, and that nearly all sexual assaults are committed by men on their own or in groups, are urging parents not to let their sons go out at night unless they are accompanied by a mother, sister, or trusted female friend.

Bob McCoskrie… marriage equality will lead to polygamy and THE WORLD WILL END! Blah-de-blah-de-blah. Click here if you really must read what he said. Or you could just read what our Coley said: On polyamory and marriage equality.

Something amazing, via Shakesville.

A new persective: Central Park, Manhattan

A new persective: Central Park, Manhattan

Story, and much bigger version of the picture here.

Celebrating Christmas with fabulous food

Cross posted

Just in time for Christmas, the NZ Listener served up a dose of food guilt and You Must Diet and food is not for fun and LOSE WEIGHT NOW! To be fair to The Listener, the article avoids saying that fat people are unhealthy (if you are sceptical about this claim, check this story about the non-link between fat and health in the New York Times). However, The Listener story does have an underlying theme of making people feel bad about food, and it tacitly claims that losing weight is just a matter of sufficient willpower. This is despite the magazine having previously run stories on the myths of weight loss (see my summary of the story here), and willpower (long story short – it can be done, but only with huge effort, unless there are structural supports around you).

Whatever. And what a way to cast a pall of nagging tut-tut-tut over a celebration.

So in the spirit of simply enjoying good food and good company, I offer you our Christmas Day menu.

We started the day with Bucks Fizz – champagne version for the adults, lemonade version for the children, although those children who wanted to do so were invited to try some of the former.

Buckes Fizz

Buckes Fizz

For breakfast, we had warmed croissants stuffed with our butcher’s secret recipe homecured bacon, and lightly stewed peaches, still warm from the pan, all drizzled with maple syrup.

Bacon, croissants, peaches and maple syrup

Bacon, croissants, peaches and maple syrup

I made a superb bacon quiche for lunch. I would show you a picture, but we ate it all before I thought about taking a photo. Likewise with the pre-dinner nibbles, alas. Or perhaps not so alas, because the homemade pate, blue cheese, chippies, and homemade hummus were delicious.

This was the main part of dinner.

Brown paper parcel

Brown paper parcel

It’s a whole leg of lamb, studded with cloves of garlic, then rubbed with lemon juice and olive oil, then placed on a bed of freshly cut oregano, and wrapped in baking paper and brown paper. I cooked it long and slow, for about three hours, and I rested it for half an hour before serving it. It was meltingly tender, and flavoursome. The recipe comes from Ruth Pretty.

I accompanied the lamb with asparagus drizzled with lemon infused olive oil, a medley of green beans, broad beans and peas with melted mint butter, and herby Jersey Benny potatoes (best potatoes ever).

Lamb, potatoes, asparagus, legume medley

Lamb, potatoes, asparagus, legume medley

Yummy yummy yummy.

And then there was dessert.

Dessert table

Dessert table

From left to right, fresh cherries, a berry medley, marscapone apricot tart, whipped cream, yoghurt, a strawberry pavlova, and lemon semi-freddo. The pavlova was excellent, crisp on the outside, and soft marshmallow without a hint of chewiness in the middle. The lemon semi-freddo was good too, creamy and tart, and not at all icy. I was very pleased with the way it turned out.

Just in case anyone was still hungry, we finished off with Christmas cake. Lurid Christmas cake.

Bright star cake

Bright star cake

I hope that you ate some wonderful food over the festive season too. Feel free to share.

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Just one thing to read this week – it is immensely sobering, and sad, and triggering. A distressing post about what it is like being a woman in Delhi – “The Subjugation Capital”.

I love Delhi, the city. I love its wide, open roads, its wonderful architecture. I’ve made great friends in Delhi. I went to a wonderful school in Delhi. I’ve also suffered in Delhi. I’m one of millions of women with tales to tell of how Delhi has ground our self-respect and security to dust. General descriptions of harassment can’t adequately describe the horror a woman faces every day in the city. There isn’t a single moment when you’re walking its streets that you can think “I’m safe, I can breathe easy and enjoy the sunshine. What a lovely day!” If you have breasts, you’re fair game. It doesn’t matter who you are, where you’re from, how old you are, you can be a man’s property. You can be used for his gratification. You can be dominated.

Have you noticed how everyone is talking about “the Delhi rape victim”? I (Deb) have. She has been turned into a symbol, not a real person anymore. How about, “the woman in Delhi who was gangraped and beaten”? And now, even more sadly, the woman in Delhi who was raped and beaten so horrifically that she has died.

That’s all.

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Things we liked, or didn’t like, from around the Internet this week.

Eight reasons to end victim blaming. Speaking of, Jill and the Good Men Project. (trigger warnings for both those posts.)

Also, The Pervocracy on the Good Men Project and how most people don’t struggle not to rape (again, trigger warning.)

So when you hear all the totally plausible ways it could have been you, realize: nope, probably couldn’t have been. Most people don’t struggle not to commit rape. Most people don’t have trouble understanding sexual refusal. The vast majority of people go through drunken blunders and miscommunication and bad breakups without committing or being accused of rape, just as the vast majority of people don’t have trouble restraining themselves from torture or murder.

And QoT on the same issue: It’s just so damn difficult not to rape drunk people.

And whether or not it’s actually possible for projects like GMP to succeed. (I – Tallulah – think the part about it being tied to actual achievable policy goals is really important. And might be a way for these projects to work. Surely someone can come up with goals – even if not policy ones – that men’s groups can or should work towards?

In the wake of tragedies like the Newtown shooting, it is natural to seek answers for what caused it. While that is a difficult, if not impossible task, some of the ideas are batshit. Everything from the fact the US has excised God from its classrooms to, of course, the fact that teachers are normally women, and this wouldn’t have happened if there had been some nice strong dudes around to tackle the shooter.)

How to resist food-shaming around the holidays. Personally, I – Tallulah, again – intend to just tell people to bite me, but this is much more constructive.

Today in FFS, via Feminist Philosophers, it turns out that in Iowa you can be fired if your boss finds you too attractive. The seven judges who made that decision? All male.

I’m (Deb) exhausted. See you all on the other side of Christmas.

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Things we liked, or didn’t like, from around the internet this week.

Underwear that admonishes to “ask first”? Picking on Victoria’s Secret? Using sexy knickers to create a conversation about rape culture? SO MUCH GOODNESS.

Balancing Motherhood and Work and Art.

More art: beauty and power and the male/artist’s gaze.

A woman’s beauty is supposed to be her grand project and constant insecurity. We’re meant to shellac our lips with five different glosses, but always think we’re fat. Beauty is Zeno’s paradox. We should endlessly strive for it, but it’s not socially acceptable to admit we’re there. We can’t perceive it in ourselves. It belongs to the guy screaming “nice tits.”

Thanks to Atheist Pinko Sluts for sharing this Dan Savage video. I’m (Emma) ambivalent about Dan Savage: some of what he says is brilliant, some is surprisingly dickish from such a smart guy. I don’t agree with quite everything he says here – I think some people actually are naturally wired for monogamy – but the overall drift is well worth thinking about.

Jill Filipovic in the Guardian takes apartthe argument that a generation of selfish singles is destroying the family.

When the traditional family model isn’t something that everyone is expected to personally sacrifice to create, we can construct and implement policies that benefit actual families, in all of their incarnations. When they are not a crass economic contract where financial support is traded for housekeeping and child-rearing but instead a unit based on love, respect and mutual support, marriages last longer. The conservative and religious promise that there is only one best way to live, one that requires temporal sacrifice and is justified solely by obligation but will be rewarded by happiness in the afterlife, but it doesn’t actually lead to good outcomes here on Earth.

I am the woman in your department who does all the committee work – queue hollow laughter from all my (Deb) female colleagues.

I hope the pre-Christmas frenzy is not too frantic for you, and that you are finding some time to relax, somehow… Feel free to share grumps, grumbles and celebrations in comments.

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Things we liked, or didn’t like, from around the internet this week.

We’ve got a fantastic guest post here on The Lady Garden, which I (Deb) don’t want to get buried, so I’m linking to it here: Guest post: On harassment, conditioning and silencing. Content note: discussion of sexual violence.

The 55th Down Under Feminists Carnival is up at News with Nipples. 55th carnival! Huzzah!! It has a great selection of posts from down under feminists.

How to behave to your non-primary partners: (TLDR: Don’t be a dick.)

Our society lacks roadmaps for how to conduct ongoing relationships of varying depth/commitment in this space. When you’re not just seeking casual sex, but you’re also not seeking someone to live, share finances, and potentially raise a family with (a primary partner), it can be very hard to figure out how to honor your own needs and boundaries while respecting others.

Nick Cave Dolls – a trip into the irony free surreal with Robyn.

And in the Oh Good Grief files, PZ Myers puts up a commemorative post about the Montreal massacre (that’s where a man who didn’t get into engineering school walked into the school with a gun and killed 14 women and injured 10 more, because they were women), and “12 comments in, the thread becomes about whether the particular rhetorical trope PZ used to point out the continued existence of misogyny was fair to misogynists…

Over at The Hand Mirror, Luddite Journo celebrates Wellington’s fair going queer.

It’s December. Time for Christmas trees.

Pohutukawa Trees at Cornwallis Beach

Pohutukawa Trees at Cornwallis Beach


So how has your week been?

Today in fat hatred (and hating on children for good measure)

Also today in pig-headed ignorance, and today in ignoring science, and today in failing to think through consequences, and today in hating on children.

F for fat: obesity on report cards?

A CHILD’S weight should be included in their school report as part of a radical plan to tackle the obesity crisis, according to [Professor David Penington] who led Australia’s successful response to the AIDS epidemic.

I find this mindblowing, not just for the complete disregard for science, but for the astonishing idea that it’s a good thing to shame children about their weight, and that somehow, magically, this will make them thin and happy. It doesn’t work with adults because (a) shaming just upsets people and (b) shaming does not result in weight loss and (c) weight loss does not lead to better health (just google “obesity paradox” and you will find the evidence), and it works EVEN LESS with children because….. (hold your breath, here’s a giant reveal that seems to have escaped Prof. Penington), CHILDREN DON’T GET TO CHOOSE WHAT FOOD THEY EAT.

As parents, we impose our own lifestyles on children. The children in my house? They’re great at argument (conceptual, inferential, evidential, you name it – they argue it and yes, this is a problem from time to time), but sports, well, whatever. They play a bit and we go and cheer them on, but really, it’s just not a big deal. That’s because in our house, discussion is a Big Thing. But they miss out on sport, which is a large part of many families in New Zealand, because it’s just not a big deal around here. They are deeply influenced, and the patterns of their living set for a long time to come, by the way that Mr Bee and I live.

And the type and amount of food they eat, and the exercise they do, or don’t do, is deeply influenced by us. They have no responsibility for what does into their lunchboxes. That’s MY responsibility. I’m the one who buys the bread and the sandwich fillings, makes the muffins, ensure there’s some fruit and some yoghurt on hand, so that they can make their school lunches.

So when Prof. Penington sets out to shame children, not only is he doing something that is completely ineffective anyway, but he totally missed his target.

I’ve had enough of teachers and doctors and (alleged) experts filling the school curriculum with do-gooding nonsense, which only leads to children coming home and trying to get their parents to change. But exactly how much power do children have to change their parents anyway? Very little indeed. It’s an intolerable burden to place on children. I think Prof. Penington must hate children too.

Cross posted

How to illustrate a story about falling sperm counts

So how should one illustrate a story about falling sperm counts?

Headless pregnant woman

Headless pregnant woman

With a headless pregnant woman, of course!

Well done, New Zealand Herald. Well done.

Tick the tropes: men’s illness = women’s problem, women as bearers of fetuses, women responsible for the human race, women reduced to a state of pregnancy, women reduced to body parts. Any more?

Cross posted