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A Week in Links #14

June 5, 2011

Nushin Arbabzadah writes of how Afghanistan almost celebrated gay pride.

The NYT hosted a series of posts by people who have ‘come out’ including beautiful stories by Anonymous, 21 years old, Waco, Tex. and Ollie, 20 years old, London Of course, if we didn’t place expectations on our children that they would be cis and straight then all our children would have to ‘come out’, or not, and it would be a normal part of life.

Beirut Boy turned 1 this week!

Festival Kidz have plotted all the best kid friendly festivals onto a map and also a calendar. Really handy resource and a great little site too.

Annie Lennox interviewed by Samira Shackle.  Life as a game of snakes and ladders is spot on.

Very funny column from Tim Dowling on writing and smart alec kids.

Andy Worthington has updated his hugely important archive: Guantánamo: The Definitive Prisoner List — Updated for 2011, With New Information and Photos from WikiLeaks

Iman Qureshi reviews Granta 115: The F Word for The F-Word.  Anything that mixes the unreadable Rachel Cusk, the unreadable A.S. Byatt (excepting the short stories) and the unreadable Jeanette Winterson is always going to be full of win.  Not.

Chewbacca riding a giant Squirrel, fighting Nazi’s

The entirely terrible Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board is named after a Welsh nurse, who served in the Crimea.  Plans are underway to make a permanent memorial, 151 years after her death.

Now for something entirely lovely – H/T to @IanPlaysMusic for introducing me to a whole new genre of music which can be (very ) broadly called Disney Dub.  I love it 🙂


Tracey Emin: Love is What you Want

June 3, 2011

More about the show and further talks/events on the Southbank Centre website here.

I made it to Auschwitz and breasts – can you go further?

Revolution Will Be Feminist Or It Won’t Be

June 2, 2011

Via feministes indignades a plaça Catalunya  This is a world I could live in, unlike the one we have now which large number of us just survive in:

ENGLISH – Manifesto (last version, 20 May 2011)

This afternoon, feminists who participated in the feminist alternatives workshop have reflected and written the following public declaration:

“Feministes indignades” (indignant feminists) at Plaça Cataluya (acampadabcn), May 20th, 2011

We are here because:

* we want a society centred into people and not marketplaces. This is why we vindicate: free public and basic services like education, health, and childhood and special needs care in opposition to social budget cuts, and the new employment and pension reforms.

* we want the whole people commitment to build a society where no male violence will take place in any of its forms: in economy, aesthetics, employment, institutions, religions or in its physical or psychological forms, as well as in its sexual or work exploitation forms…

* we want to freely decide about our own body, enjoy and relate with it and whoever we want.

* we want to freely decide about free abortion and sexual and affective education.

* we want a diverse society to be respectful with any form of living sex and sexuality (lesbian, gay, intersex, bisexual, transsexual, transgender, …) and we want the right to sexuality at any stage of life to be recognized. We demand the dis-patologisation of trans identities. Read more…

TEDx Karachi

June 1, 2011

Mukhtar Mai

TEDx Karachi (an independently organised TED event) this year was titled “Making the Impossible Possible” and featured Mukhtar Mai alongside others. Mai has certainly made the impossible happen!

There was also a presentation of submissions for the interesting Inside Out project using the theme Stand Up Against The Persecution of Minorities

Videos aren’t available until next week so I’ll just post the summary of Muhammad Aly Balagamwala’s impressions of the day for now and update later:

The take-home message

1. We need to focus on education – Fasi Zaka, Mukhtar Mai
2. Lack of resources should not be an excuse to do something you believe in – Raja Sabri Khan, Imran Khan
3. Mind can triumph over body – Imran Khan, Sarmad Tariq
4. Pain, if channeled in a positive direction, can achieve great things – Dr Quratulain Bakhtiari, Sarmad Tariq, Mukhtar Mai
5. Don’t blame life, or anyone else. You may be down but success is about getting up that one last time. – Sarmad Tariq
6. Bulleh Shah was a Commie (oops sorry, a revolutionary) – Noori

More on Twitter and Facebook.

How to starve men and divide communities

May 9, 2011

Everyone knows that giving financial aid to women in developing/impoverished countries is the way to raise living standards for all, yes?  Indeed, the bestseller Half The Sky uses this notion as it’s core.  Women feed their families, men waste it on drink and drugs.

Funnily enough, aid programmes that use these gross stereotypes don’t always work that well for all genders involved.  Surprise!

Oxfam Great Britain and Concern Worldwide, in a fascinating document, have collected evidence showing that aid programmes purporting to have gender at their core actually don’t, and these programmes place ridiculous stresses on already fragile gender relations:

This acceptance of gender stereotypes not only reinforces traditional gender roles for women but also runs a risk of normalising this behaviour for men. Furthermore, most CTs [Cash Transfers] take place without any explicit analysis of gender roles and responsibilities, or an understanding of how gender relations work within different households of communities. [p12 pdf]

Fair play, starvation is avoided (although evidence shows men were loath to ask for help and did starve because they knew they were considered worthless).  And obviously many women are helped by this cash, but why waste so much money and opportunity just because of a basic lack of knowledge in gender dynamics.  Or more likely is simply considered unimportant? And in the long term, the impact on communities may not be good:

Targeting can alienate the community without real and meaningful participation and can increase division and long term vulnerability. Jealously and community division were noted in all three cases [studied]. [p16]

Gender inequality won’t be improved without the expertise available actually being used.  It won’t be improved by using gross stereotypes and ignoring men.  As UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a speech a couple of days ago:

I believe that unless you change mentality and behaviour of men, it will be very difficult to change this situation

He then went on to ask that ‘women leaders from around the world and from all walks of life’ actually do the work, but hey – like giving money to women only and alienating half the sky, he’s half way there.  Right?  I’m reminded of the slogan that talks of the radical notion that women are human beings.  Any change of spreading that one round the world?

H/T The Guardian & Womankind

Happy Easter 2011

April 24, 2011

Peace be with you.

Hwyl Fawr!

March 3, 2011

So long, and thanks for all the fish.

To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness. What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something.

If we remember those times and places—and there are so many—where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction.

And if we do act, in however small a way, we don’t have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory.
Howard Zinn