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Showing posts from October, 2011

What is Feminism?

A big, BIG disclaimer here: I am an upper-middle-class white cis female. I am quite aware of my privilege. I want the same privilege for everyone else.

I've been reading a lot of feminist material lately and following a lot of feminists on Twitter - one more reason to love it. Now, I'm not strictly speaking a True Feminist - I have not yet been involved, for example, in some infighting. Neither have I taken any classes on it. I haven't even read the seminal works of feminism, poor ignorant thing that I am - for I was never aware of them. I used to think that all the major struggles for women's equality were over and that feminists were just strident science-haters.

I was an idiot when I was younger, OK?!

My views changed right about when I started connecting with actual feminists and found that no, they didn't hate history, science or men - they hated being objectified. I started to warm up to them.

I can't remember the exact day when it hit me. But it hit me h…

About Scott Olsen

I've been thinking. This is not necessarily a good thing.

Those who read the news or who follow what's going on via Twitter will probably have heard about Scott Olsen, the Iraq veteran who was hit in the head with a tear gas canister at Occupy Oakland. He has a skull fracture and brain swelling, and the part of his brain dealing with speech was affected; though he can communicate with his family, he cannot speak and his spelling is "not near what it used to be", according to Keith Shannon, who served with him in Iraq. He is currently under observation to see if he needs surgery.

Right...update over for those who hadn't heard the news. Now, Occupy supporter or not, one would expect people to rally round him and condemn the actions of the Oakland Police Department - which went far and beyond what is legal and ethical.

Stupid idealist that I am, I expected that to happen. Apparently not. For example, there have been right-wingers claiming that he started a site crit…

Ugly Girls Are Not Allowed

I do love Twitter...sadly, some of the Top Tweets are complete shit, like #UglyGirlsAreNotAllowed.

Why is this trend shit? I shouldn't really have to explain - it should be incredibly obvious. Apparently, however, people missed the memo so...it's pretty much the height of stupidity to focus on looks alone when brains and personality get you further, for a start. I have known many people who didn't quite understand this and haven't done particularly well for themselves as a result. It's also psychologically damaging to people's minds to be told that they must be beautiful or they're worthless - as in, my-self-esteem-is-totally-fucked-up-and-I'm-going-to-kill-myself damaging in the very worst cases.

If you still don't understand, suicide isn't funny. It is not funny when someone tries to wipe themselves from existence because it just hurts too much to keep on existing. It is not funny to push someone into that. It is not funny when your friends or…

The Greatest Story Ever Told

I found this tweet about a very beautiful space photo today. The links are well worth clicking on.

Ever since I was very little, I've been fascinated by space. It's big, it's beautiful, we still don't know that much about it, it's very very old, and we're just one tiny part of a massive universe. I find it very difficult to explain why I like it so much, so a quote from Paul Erdos might help to explain:
"Why are numbers beautiful? It's like asking why is Beethoven's Ninth Symphony beautiful. If you don't see why, someone can't tell you. I know numbers are beautiful. If they aren't beautiful, nothing is." But yeah, that's why I like space. It's really helped me as well - because I was so fascinated by space as a child, I got into cosmology and then jumped into theoretical physics, which is now the thing I want to do for the rest of my life. Well, that or mathematical physics. (I know I don't speak much about either - this…

Theism, Atheism and Everything in Between

As foretold, I have been on a bit of a hiatus due to school and, more importantly, our impending House Music - which we're going to flop, but at least Part Song will be fun.

Anyway, we had a chapel service as per usual. In the chapel service two drama students performed a "play" (read: thinly veiled piece of religious propaganda). Now, I've performed thinly veiled pieces of religious propaganda before. It's strangely fun if you throw yourself into the part and ham it up. However, my piece was actually well-written (poor drama students, you are lovely people and you're only doing the best you could with such an awfully written script), and, more to the point, it didn't make my blood boil with its assertion of Christian misconception about what atheism actually means.

I realise I've probably pissed off a lot of theists with my misconceptions about what theism actually means. I'm not proud of that. I do genuinely want to communicate...it just gets a …

Teaching

I have a rather awesome Biology teacher. She's genuinely, almost ridiculously passionate about her subject, and about science in general. She did quite well for herself at uni and was going to continue on to a PhD...so not the kind of person whom one would expect to be a teacher, given the "if you can't do it, teach it" attitude.

She openly told our class that she teaches because she genuinely likes it - she gets to talk about the subject she loves all day long, for a start, which has to be a plus in any career. Cue me telling her that more people need to talk like that - to which she said that she does give talks to people doing PGCEs.

Following on from other random stuff I and many, many other people came up with, it's not good enough just to be essentially preaching to the choir. We desperately need inspirational teachers - and to get more of them, teachers should speak to students from, say, Year 9 upwards about the benefits of becoming a teacher. I don't…

If You Want Girls to Appreciate Physics, Stop Telling Them That They Can't Do Maths

I don't really talk about this much. I probably should do, since it's quite interesting.

I came across this tweet from Alom Shaha, talking about how having female role models doesn't make a difference to girls' appreciation of physics. Now, this is a massive problem - the ratio of men to women in physics is still quite skewed, but I'm getting off topic. He asked for thoughts, and since I have a big mouth and fairly good typing skills here's what I came up with.

It sparked off a little bit of commenting, particularly when I mentioned the role of the media in telling girls to "shut up & look nice". Two women, @RedRubia and @Queen_Claire, told me that nobody had ever told them they couldn't do maths and that they were very proud of being presentable lady geeks who had never thought that they should shut up, in which case, more power to them. @Original_Cindy then claimed I was wrong (but hasn't actually put any evidence forth for this claim...…

Stereotypes

Not all Americans are idiots.
Not all Chinese are evil and/or communists.
Not all Germans are Nazis.
Not all Greeks are lazy.
Not all Israelis are fascists.
Not all Italians are cads like Berlusconi.
Not all Poles want to take your jobs.
Not all Russians are communists/corrupt/evil/criminals.

I think I've got most of the stereotypes down, but the point I want to make is that you can't generalise about entire nations. In every country there are the cruel, the lazy, the stupid and the greedy, that's true, but there are also the kind, the hard-working, the clever and the generous. That's just the way of people. If you spent time around them, you'd change your ways.

Why am I preaching to you about this? Because I hate it. It makes me feel physically sick to see people talked about like that. You do not get an entire country full of fascists. You do not get an entire country full of saints. You have the good and the evil (if there are indeed such things) and the ordinar…

Another post about fattism

I should actually be doing homework now, so this will be quick.

For the 96846th time, yes, I am a flaming liberal. I am a pinko and proud of it. I'm also willing to sacrifice my principles to reason.

There is "fat acceptance movement" and there is "telling people that they might do serious damage to themselves is fattist". Do I believe in health at any size? I don't necessarily support the movement - I don't know enough about it - but yes, I do believe it is possible to be overweight and healthy, just as it is possible to be unhealthy and have a normal BMI. I would aim for health first and looks later, having learnt unhappy lessons about what happens when you get your priorities wrong.

The above is my position on being fat. Below is some ranting.

I understand that obesity can have genetic causes. I understand that once weight is put on it can be very, very difficult to lose it without invasive surgery in the worst-case scenario. I still think that the f…

Fuck the Kyriarchy

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Fuck the kyriarchy. That's all I can say. I'm shocked and outraged and I can barely talk.

Maybe I shouldn't be this way. Maybe I should have expected something like this. But no matter how rampant it is, no matter how widespread the attitudes are, I get angry.

I'm not particularly easy on the eyes and I'm probably slightly overweight. Fine. I do the best I can with what I have and these days I try to keep reasonably fit. Going to the gym (instead of being forced to participate in sports I despise) probably helps.

Two stunningly beautiful girls in my year, one of whom models, want plastic surgery for...well...basically everything. A nose job, a boob job, a tummy tuck here and a facelift there. Now, these girls can do whatever they want. Their private lives aren't my business. If they want to spend money on permanently changing their appearance, that's their decision and not mine. What is my business, however, and what disgusts me, is the attitude which led t…