Sex and gender

Sex is assigned according to seven different biological characteristics, which can and do vary considerably. Intersex children are assigned a sex depending on how closely these seven characteristics match male or female. A lot of people have six out of seven matching a particular sex, or five out of seven. A lot of people never find out that they have less than seven matching characteristics. However, this massively calls into question that there is such a thing as two distinct biological sexes.

Furthermore, why do we attach so much importance to sex (clearly a social construct) that we are prepared, as a society, to surgically modify babies?

Gender is how you feel on the inside. You can be non-binary, genderqueer, male, female, femme, butch, gender-fluid, etc.

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Culture change and cat-herding

There’s always a difficult process when one group of people feels passionately that something needs to change, and another group of people feel that the status quo is just fine, usually (but not always) because they are not affected by the thing that the first group feels is in need of change.

What tactics should we adopt to try to bring about the change? An open letter? A declaration? A community statement? A petition? Or a pledge to boycott?

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Abuse happens in a culture that enables it

An accusation of abuse has surfaced against Isaac Bonewits, made by Moira Greyland, who was abused by her mother, Marion Zimmer Bradley. I never met Isaac, though I had added him as a friend on Facebook. Deborah Lipp and Phaedra Bonewits have issued a joint statement defending him. The context in which  the accusation was made is also problematic, in that the book was published by an alt-right person with an axe to grind.

Whether or not this particular accusation is true, and it would be difficult to determine this long after the events described, and when the person accused is dead, it is all too easy to fall into the pattern of isolating the accused person as a “bad apple”, and failing to look at the whole barrel.

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Of Wonder Woman, Goddesses, and humans

I went to see Wonder Woman at the weekend. I had been warned that there were issues around diversity and representation, but not enough to necessitate a boycott. (I did boycott Suffragette for airbrushing out Sophia Duleep Singh and other Black, Asian, and minority ethnic suffragettes.) However, Wonder Woman is fictional, so perhaps less problematic than attempts to airbrush PoC out of actual history. I generally prefer Marvel superhero films to DC ones, but I had been told that Wonder Woman was going to be great, so I went with an open mind. I also refrained from reading anything involving spoilers beforehand. I enjoyed the film, but agree with the critique by Valerie Complex and Robert Jones Jr that it could do better in terms of representation of queer characters and people of colour.

Spoilers (for Wonder Woman, Guardians of the Galaxy 2) below the cut – you have been warned.

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The Brussels sprouts controversy

Few people realise the intense, convoluted and internecine controversies that rage in the world of vegetable folklorists. These dour scholars generally gather in the darker corners of academe, preferring potting sheds and greenhouses to the more usual bars and senior common rooms frequented by their colleagues. They putter about in the basements of libraries where more mainstream scholars fear to tread, seeking out old manuscripts and botanical treatises. Some of them roam the highways and byways of obscure rural districts, seeking undiscovered nuggets of folklore and superstition. These solitary pursuits result in impassioned debate when these normally taciturn scholars meet.

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