Wednesday, March 30, 2011


Look, I just like animals in comcis alright, and this is one particualrly cute incaranation of Krypto, and it's his first appearence since the 1980s Crisis.

Awww.  Lil puppy!!  Of course, this one isn't Kryptonian, just a stray that Bibbo rescued after Superman's death.  From Adventures of Superman 502.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Someone doesn't understand mythic

The only possible way I can think that someone would describe irresitable force against immovable object as a mythic conflict is if they are a physics nerd with absolutely no imagination.
From Adventures of Superman #508.

Monday, March 28, 2011

This is what's wrong with 90s comics.

Superman, he's a force for good right.  He believes in justice, truth, honesty and treating people right.  he does not believe in guns.  So how did this image get passed?

Ok, so he's just returned from the dead.  His powers aren't at full whack.  But Superman shouldn't be a gun toting musclebound meat head!  Yet in this picture that's what he is.  And what's worse is that Steel and Superboy are cheering him on. Ok, Superboy has just bene hatched/birthed/cloned/whatever, he's still young and doesn't have a full moral compass yet, but he's been programmed to have a personality.  No one wearing the S shield and purporting to be on the side of good should ever be this gun happy.
From Adventures of Superman #504.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Comic reviews the second (of March)

As in, my second late post for reviewing.  All issues are a few weeks old.

Secret Six #31
I had intentions to reveiw this for the LGBT Book challenge, but haven't got round to it yet.  Suffice to say, Knockout is back.  Hip hip hooray!

Wonder Woman #608
At it's best i'm just not finding this very engaging.  At it's worst, I'm finding it downright insulting.  Dr Psycho gets to rescue Diana? Really?
In addition to the abov, which I think is a fucking awful plot point, Diana is out of character.  This may be an alternate timeline and all, but she should still be the same basic person underneath.  And that, dear readers, I am not getting from these books.  Oh yes, I have turned.  notintheface covers this quite well here.

Brightest Day #22
Ok, 22 issues in, 2 more to go, and I'm not really sure of the point of Brightest Day.  I don't feel that we are reaching an all importnat climax, I feel like we've just meandered in and out of several stories. I have very much enjoyed the Aquafamily story, and the Hawks were good before they were killed but on the whole, I can't really bring myself to care too much about this series.

Red Robin #21
Oh yeah, this is the shizzle :)   Y'all should be reading this book.

Superman #709
I want the Superman Squad back please.  That is the only part of this story I am interested in.

Young Justice #1
This is surprisingly good.  I've read mixed reactions to the tv show, but this issue is enough for to have placed this book on my pull list.  yeah.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Comic reviews!

Yup, it's catching up time again. 

Birds of Prey  #10
It's an absolute joy to read a book about a group of tough, competent women, who support and love each other, are intelligent and demand everyone's respect.  Such a different feel and context to other comics.  Or books, TV, films et al.  BoP is a book about women, where women are in the spotlight centre stage and given credibility.  Why aren't there more stories like this?

On a more frivolous note, Batman is wearing a riveted metal jockstrap in this issue.  Oh how I laughed. and laughed and laughed and laughed.

Batgirl #19
The art in this issue is wonderful.  It's cartoony and lively, not very detailed and a bit caricaturish.  It's great.  Steph has a devil may care attitude to crimefighting and so the art and writing really mesh well together.

Superboy #5
It's Bart vs Kon in a race!  Krypto wins.  Seriously.

In other Flash news, DC will make all Flashpoint issues available digitally 4 weeks after the real copies have been sold.  Ace beans.  I'll be getting in on the e-versions then.

More reviews coming tomorrow.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Thinking on bisexual invisibility..

Y'all should know by now that I did a post on Starman over on Prism Comics that specifically dealt with bisexual invisibility.  Well, after writing that I had an email conversation with Alexander Lyons about Madame Xanadu and her bisexuality.  Alex said that there is an interpretation of Madame Xanadu that explains her sexuality as being down to her otherwordly status, and so she may can be seen a snot specifically bisexual but more pansexual.

I thought the same thing could be applied to Mikaal in Starman - he's allowed to be bisexual because he's an other, an alien, and so he doesn't have to conform to human norms.  Human norms in this case being straight or gay.

But you know, I want to claim Mikaal as actually bisexual.  I want heroes like me.  I want visibility for bisexual people.  As I write this I'm 30 years of age and I have only recently come to accept that I don't have to rely on gay culture for my identity as not straight.  I don't fit in with straight culture either, I'm caught between the two.*

I appreciate that people might find it challenging to write a bisexual character and incorporate that into their personality.  It may be daunting - there's not a whole lot of examples to draw on, and if the writer doesn't know any bisexual people they may not know how to write clealry bi characters.

But that's not a reason not to do it.  It's certainly not a good reason.  I argued in the above linked Starman post about ways to write about bisexual characters.  James Robinson did it well.  Gail Simone did it well in Secret Six - 6 degrees of devastation.

There's not enough gay characters in comics (or films, tv, or books) and there's certainly not enough bisexual people.  We need icons and heroes who identify as bisexual.  We need them to be normal people, with varied interests and different lives, just like the straight and the gay folk.

C'mon writers, make an effort.  Please.

(This post was sparked off by a tweet from InnerBrat reading:
"As we know, bisexuals don't exist. RT @: Glee writers confirm "Santana is a lesbian." ")

*That's not really a problem for me - it used to be, it did used to cause me a lot of heartache.  Now I don't really care.  I'm me, I accept myself.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Bernard Chang is working out of a Californian Comic shop for the next few days!

Y'all remember how I went to London Expo lats year and met Bernard Chang and blathered about Supergirl to him right?  Well I then facebooked him to say good issue, really enjoyed it etc and he's since sent me this press release about his working out of Universal Comics California for the next few days.  So I'm posting it.  I saw him do a Nightcrawler sketch at the London Con, and it was really interesting to see how the drawing evolved from initial pencil lines to finished inked piece.  So without further ado, here's the info:

SUPERGIRL artist Bernard Chang will be relocating his drawing table to the friendly confines of DJ's Universal Comics in Studio CIty, CA. From March 23-27, Chang will be working "in house" on actual pages from his upcoming issue of the teenage Krytonian superhero. This is a great opportunity to come see an actual comic book being created in person, as well as checking out one of the best local comic book shops in Los Angeles.

"Rarely do people ever see an actual page in progress," said Chang, "and Cat Jercan (owner) was gracious enough to let me set up shop in his store to share this process with fans. I use to live down the street from his former location and always thought it would be a cool idea to actually create a comic book in a comic book store."

For more information, call Cat @ 818-761-3465. DJ's Universal Comics is located at 11390 Ventura Blvd #9 (on the second level above Fat Jacks, at the intersection of Tujunga and Ventura), Studio City, CA 91604 or go online @ and

And remember, please do not feed the artist.
Go see a Supergirl page get created!!!!  And then come back and tell me all about it.  Please?

Some really good posts about Sex Work

The first one I shall repost in it's entirety. Written by @harleyquinnaid it is titled, Sex Worker Characters in Comics: What not to do.  Here we go:

This list is not intended to be exhaustive, more a crash-course in the simplest things you can do to avoid coming across as a vile whorephobe in your work.
What this list deals with is overused tropes and cliches that contribute to widespread misinformation and pathologisation of sex workers.
It’s not that these things never happen or are beyond the scope of possibility.
It’s that these things are depicted to the exclusion of all other experiences and that has a negative overall effect on society’s perceptions and understanding of sex workers and the sex industry.
When you come from a marginalised group of people who are discriminated against and oppressed within society, depicting them in a very limited and narrow range ultimately has a hugely detrimental impact because people begin to overwhelmingly believe this is the default experience.
And when that perceived default experience is also overwhelmingly NEGATIVE, it enables society to continue to marginalise and oppress, to pathologise and VICTIMISE.
And this plays into an overall culture that perpetuates the discrimination far beyond Law & Order: SVU - but into the very laws and governings that impact the daily lives of sex workers. The laws that create unsafe environments for sex workers to work in. The laws that mean sex workers have to be terrified of being outed as it may uproot their entire life. The laws that mean sex workers have no legal recourse if something bad DOES happen.

What NOT To Do When Writing Sex Workers
1. Give them a childhood filled with sexual abuse
No really, this is paint-by-numbers pathology. Not everyone who works in the sex industry was abused as a child and not every person who was abused as a child goes onto become a sex worker. By giving your sex worker characters an abused childhood you are basically saying you believe that sex is so broken, ugly and wrong a thing that only damaged and broken people can do it commercially. This is bullshit.
Were some sex workers abused as children?
But so were some lawyers and some doctors and some psychologists and some hairdressers and some salespeople and some jewellery makers and so on and so on.
The idea that abused people become so denigrated that they end up ‘selling themselves’ is offensive on a couple of levels - it demonstrates the most superficial understanding of what is a very complex reality which is dealt with in myriad ways AND it demonstrates that you believe sex work is the last refuge of the degraded, which means you have no respect for sex workers.
So how the fuck do you expect to write about them in any sort of real and sensitive way?
It also means you have some pretty fucked up ideas about sex.
No, really. If you believe sex is inherently corrupting and degrading simply because an exchange of money is involved you have some really fucked up paranoid, phobic ideas around sex. And guess what? That’s about YOU, NOT sex workers. So. Stop projecting, okay?
Either way, you clearly don’t regard sex workers as human beings enough to give them anything but a lazy and cliche background in lieu of actual character development. -Insert tragic childhood here- is just as sloppy and unconvincing a way to build character as we have all discussed ad nauseum that having a female character be raped to give her an agenda is.

2. Have them raped by a client and/or a pimp
Believe it or not, hookers and strippers do not get raped on a nightly basis. What happens between a client and a worker is negotiated beforehand and the entire process usually involves an ongoing negotiation if necessary (just like recreational sex generally does!). Sex workers develop methods of communication with clients in order to maintain boundaries. If drunk or disrespectful clients are pushing boundaries, sex workers have ways of distracting them and their attention in other ways to maintain control of the situation. Flirtation and coyness is a tactic, not a default state of being. Sex workers are not obligated or forced to see clients. Sex workers can walk out of a booking without giving a refund if the client is disrespectful.
More sex workers work without pimps than do. Pimps are largely an overblown media fantasy. They exist, but they are nowhere near as prevalent as media would have you believe NOR are the relationships between hookers and pimps always as simplistically abusive as is ALWAYS portrayed.
But once again it is reinforcing dangerous, harmful and bluntly insulting preconceptions about sex workers because it is placing us into the fixed state of perpetual ‘victim’. And we’re NOT. Okay? We’re REAL people, with agency, with complexity, with diversity, with varied lives and experiences. Stop imagining our lives as this grotesque excursion into endlessly-violated depravity for your own sheer VOYEURISTIC satisfaction. Because that’s what it is. You like to imagine us as constantly raped because rape culture has characterised sexual abuse as something almost fucking *sexy*, something *juicy* and it’s easier to imagine it happening to sex workers because you don’t think of us as truly human, not really.
The other reason not to do these things, apart from the fact this ‘plot’ device once again forces sex workers into a permanent victim position, is that it demonises clients and pimps.
Now, MOST clients are just average people who want a service.
No, really. It’s really as simple as that.
They’re not base, grotesque, anti-social, disgusting perverts who just want to degrade women, trans* folk and other ‘cast-offs’ of society.
They’re just regular shmoes who want to get their rocks off. Or who want to talk. Or who want to be taught something. Or who want to experiment with something they have no one else to ask about. Or who just need a goddamn hug.

3. Give them a stalker
This also reflects the ‘permanent victim’ fixation and again demonises clients.
Stalkers, it has been proven time and time again, do not simply fixate on ‘loose’ women. Anyone at all for any reason at all can become the target of a stalker.
Do sex workers get stalkers? Sure. And yes, they’re often clients who have become obsessed.
BUT once again, it’s about BALANCE.
I SHOULDN’T have to be afraid of admitting that sometimes, now and again, some sex workers (out of the millions worldwide) will get a stalker. I shouldn’t have to be afraid of admitting that, but I am because I KNOW a whorephobic audience is going to pounce on that one concession and conflate it with reality.
And when you are CONSTANTLY depicting sex workers with inherently negative lives - lives that are constantly violated in one way or another by boogeymen like stalkers and pimps and drugs - and associating those lives with our work, YOU ARE contributing to the ingrained societal mindset that sex work itself is inherently negative and that is really, really dangerous. Because it allows people to continue to justify their pathologising, victimising attitudes to sex workers, allows unfair laws and discrimination to remain intact and protected, allows the continued popularisation of false information and allows fantasy to stand in the way of fact.
And this allows the world to continue to not think of us as really human.
AND it ALSO is just another facet of the old virgin/whore dichotomy - of rape culture. The patently FALSE notion that if you lead a certain kind of life, you will naturally attract violation and assault. That such terrible things can be avoided if only you toe the line like a good virtuous, well-behaved, complacent little virgin - but is only to be EXPECTED if you are ‘loose’, ‘slutty’, ‘trampy’ - indeed, if you’re any of the latter, well, you just DESERVE it, don’t you? Not only is this dehumanising of sex workers and permitting people to hold discriminatory and prejudicial attitudes towards us, it creates a false perception of reality, a blame-the-victim mentality that deceives people. The truth is, predators like stalkers and rapists are not exclusively ‘attracted’ to sex workers. Anyone could be targeted by them at any time. It just allows society to ignore the real problem - that BEHAVIOUR by predators and how it is nurtured and perpetuated by society - which just loves to blame the victim.
How hard is it to really imagine a sex worker without some constantly horrible thing happening to them, just leading an average life, working hard to pay the mortgage and the bills and the kid’s school tuition. Truth? That’s the most common reality. Oh, but that lacks drama, right?
You know, if you REALLY want to violate your sex worker character over and over, how about you examine how that is done LEGALLY, within the very infrastructure of the law? How about you look at the laws and institutionalised statutes that make a sex workers life and work harder for them, the stupid rules and obstructions we have to navigate just to make a living? That’s a violation too! A violation of human rights and freedom to work. But I guess that’s just not as sexy as a crying woman in her underwear tied to a bed whilst getting threatened with a knife. Vomit.

4. Have your hero save them from a stalker/rapist/serial killer/pimp
To put your sex worker character in a horribly abusive situation just to have your hero be more heroic is one of the more petty, grotesque, lazy and discriminatory plot devices you can come up with.
It’s become colloquially known as ‘fridging’. For fuck’s sake, don’t do it.

5. Kill them
Another dehumanising technique, used with rash abandon over the years on promiscuous women, queers, trans* people and sex workers alike. Even in ‘sympathetic’ stories, these ‘underdogs’ must die tragically and preferably horribly for their cause - to make a point. And that point is? To atone for their sinful lives by being scrubbed out of existence.

6. Do not have your non-sex worker characters use words like ‘whore’, ‘ho’, ‘hooker’, etc
I know it tends to invite ridicule to say things like ‘don’t use those words! Those are our words!’ but - well - how else to say it?
Like racial or homophobic or ableist slurs, or any other slurs focused on a particular aspect that is the direct reason for discrimination against a marginalised group, the ownership of those words with the purpose to reclaim is exclusively that of the group they are used against.
This is not your language. It’s OURS. You don’t get to use it. No, not even through your characters unless your point is to draw attention to the fact your character is a whorephobic douchebag.
And THAT has to be very clear.
Words like ‘ho’ and ‘whore’ are offlimits. We use them amongst ourselves (though, like any reclaimed slur, there is debate around this), but it’s really not okay for people outside the community to adopt them, certainly not in the grotesquely casual way that so rarely goes challenged.
And no, don’t go telling me that will make your character’s dialogue ‘unrealistic’.Comics are unrealistic!!! By nature!! In intent! No one reads comics for realism!
And don’t try and flip THAT around by arguing that ‘if comics are unrealistic, you have no obligation to not write seedy, gross & exploitative stories about sex workers’. Both the issue of language and of plot choices comes back to the fact that they reinforce negative stereotypes which feeds into a broader attitude of active discrimination that has real negative impacts on sex workers’ lives. And that’s not acceptable.

7. Don’t give them HIV/AIDS
The rate of transmission of HIV/AIDS between sex workers and clients is so miniscule it doesn’t even register.
That’s not to say there are no sex workers with HIV/AIDS, but the likelihood of them having contracted it on the job is extremely low, as is the likelihood of them contracting Hep C or STIs.
Because a sex worker’s body is literally OUR BUSINESS in most forms of sex work, excepting phone sex. Without our health, we cannot work. And we live in a capitalist society. We gotta be able to work.
Furthermore, because of the pervasiveness of discriminatory laws against us, we are obliged to take measures on our own initiative to protect ourselves.
This means that sex workers aggressively and consistently practice safe sex. We are educated, informed and aware about the risks, we supply our own condoms and other PPEs (personal protective equipment) such as gloves and dams, and we use them in our work with our clients, often times educating them along the way as well.
Sure, accidents happen, as they can do to anyone. But, overwhelmingly, sex workers have better sexual health than the rest of the population.
(Incidentally, in places where this isn’t true, there is also a marked lack of condoms & safe sex education available to access - which is the fault of archaic law and governments, not sex workers)
So once again this trope is perpetuating false information and actively contributing to the ongoing negative stereotypes about sex workers and sex work.

8. Write them with respect
All of the above are crucial factors in depicting sex worker characters with respect, but considering how you place them within a story and how they interact with other characters all contributes to the sense of respect shown for the sex worker character - by the other characters and by YOU.
If you have your other characters-  particularly your leading characters, the ones the audience is meant to empathise/symapthise with - making snide/discriminatory/abusive remarks to the sex worker character about their ‘sluttiness’, about their work, about their lifestyle - without those remarks being corrected/chided/called-out/slammed and without that character facing any sort of censure or exile for their whorephobia you are sending a pretty fucking strong message to your reader and that is that it’s totally okay to debase and degrade a sex worker because of their work.
So WHAT if some stripper did topless movies? So. Fucking. What? If you have to write a character being evidently offended by that, rather than pass it off as comic relief - or worse, as righteous moralising - why not have another character ask them what their fucking issue is? Point out how fucking ridiculous they are being.
Like any marginalised group, sex workers simply need more balance in the way we are depicted. Overwhelmingly, our depiction is done in the most negative, fetishising and trivialising way possible, preventing any understanding of the true diversity of our experience and reducing it to one exoticised, voyeuristic cliche, used mainly to satiate some perverse ‘normal*’ person need to see horrible things happen to those they conceptualise as sub-human as well as reassure their own smug and complacent sense of self-satisfaction in what they believe to be their superior lifestyles.
If you want to ring the bell for anti-racism, anti-homophobia, anti-transphobia, anti-misogyny, anti-ableism, anti-classism and anti-fatphobia, then know this: SEX WORKERS ARE OVERWHELMINGLY OF COLOUR, QUEER, TRANS*, FEMALE, DIFFERENTLY-ABLED, POOR AND WITH A WIDE VARIETY OF BODY TYPES.
Sex work offers a flexibility and income for people with varying intersections of marginalisation that many other industries simply do NOT. In the sex industry, people can make a good income for being ‘different’ compared to other industries where that ‘difference’ will see them discriminated against. It is VERY complex and not at all perfect but part of the solution is TO NOT:
- demonise
- pathologise
- victimise
us, not to reduce our existence to the easiest and simplest trope to write.

And all you tumbloggers out there, the ones who are sharp enough to see the subtlest discrimination in comics when it comes in form of homophobia, racism, transphobia, misogyny, ableism, classism and fatphobia then I am, as of right now, calling on you TO SEE THE WHOREPHOBIA AS WELL. If you are really serious with this anti-discrimination, struggle-for-equality objective, then you need to broaden your gaze still further and that may involve taking a really hard look at some of your own preconceptions and ideas. I am sick of feeling like I am the only person to see this stuff. It is just as important and just as relevant and just as intersectional. 
And you know what? It’s great to like this but… reblog it. This issue gets nowhere near the exposure that other issues do and it SHOULD because it intersects with all of them AND deals with humans being treated as sub-human in a variety of ways. Get it out there and try and participate. Put your politics where your mouths are.

I recommend you go to the post and have a look at the comments, as some interesting discussions have started, for example see here for someone not really having a clue, and here for Gail Simone's response to the post, referencing the recent Secret Six book.  And on top of all that great stuff The F Word have a guest poster talking about 'Tera Myers and the Anti-Porn Folks'.  Which, with harleyquinaid's posts, is probably the best thing I've read in weeks.  Until you read the comments, and then it gets incredibly depressing as it's feminist vs feminist, and it makes me sad that my community infights in that manner.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Prism Comics

I’ve written several articles for Prism Comics, all focusing on LGBT characters.  A list of the articles can be seen below.

I'll be updating this post as and when more of my stuff gets published by Prism, and I'll be including a link to this post on my blog sidebar.
Secret Six - Six Degrees of Devastaion: It’s a team of 6 villains, with one lesbian and one bisexual character.
Venus Envy: Webcomic about a young trans woman.
Coming out in comics – similar to my series on this blog, this is an overview of LGB characters in modern DC comics, what I think about them and why I think it’s important to have them.
Iono-Sama Fanatics volume 1: A Japanese yuri (girls love) manga about a visiting Queen, looking to build up her sobames (companions).
Paris:  2 women find love in 1950s Paris.
Starman #45: Featuring a gay male couple, and some rather dodgy gay men in prison assumptions.
Starman 80 page giant - Wherein I talk about the concept of bisexual erasure and what this comic does to break the trend.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Shakesville own dictionary

I was trawling the internet earlier this week and was reminded of Shakesville's use of the word teaspooning.  This led me onto their glossary type post, termed a Shaxicon, here.  I really really like some of their phrases, particularly:

Boob Pistol of Disdain—Liss' oft-recommended, oft-used, and awesomely gratifying response to strangers cow-calling, commenting, grabbing, or otherwise rudely reminding you that you're publicly fat: 1. Grab your boob. 2. Aim it at them like a pistol of righteousness. 3. Blow a giant, loud raspberry. [Variant on step 3: Make a machine- or laser-gun noise. "Rat-a-tat-tatta-tat-tat!" and "Pyoo! Pyoo!" are both acceptable substitutions for "Phbbbbt!"

Clusterfucktastrophe—A catastrophic clusterfuck; a huge-ass mess.

Gaypocalypse—The impending meltdown of the American family after radical queers and their radical allies take over the entire country and force good, conservative, Christian straight people to get gay-married against their wills and give up their firstborn children to be gayified with their gay-beams of gayitude.

QcoFM—QCoFM is an abbreviation for Queen Cunt of Fuck Mountain, which Liss christened herself in response to emails she'd been getting about her coarse and decidedly unladylike language: "Fearing that we face a whole new level of bullshit about which we will, and should, be visibly angry, and preparing myself thusly, comments and emails composed specifically to tell me to stop using bad language or to start being less aggressive, less hostile, less antagonistic, less bitchy, less arrogant, less belligerent, less vitriolic, less nasty, less acerbic, or less of a poopyhead, are as welcome as any other, but I feel obligated to inform all potential authors of such missives that they are, however, a waste of time. If I get my facts wrong, let me know. If you don't like my tone, tough. At this bus stop in the blogosphere, I'm Queen Cunt of Fuck Mountain, and I'm mean for a reason. Once we get our country back on the right track, there will plenty of time for nursery rhymes."

Testerical—A word not in common usage, coined by Liss to underline the etymological misogyny of hysterical.

and of course,

Teaspooning—The teaspoon reference started with Liss' post on International Human Rights Day: "Today is the final day of the 16 Days of Action Against Gender Violence, during which I suppose I have blogged exactly as often as always about violence against women, in America and abroad. Sometimes it feels like it's all I ever write about; sometimes it feels like I can't possibly write about it enough to do the issue justice; often, those feelings exist within me simultaneously. All I ever do is try to empty the sea with this teaspoon; all I can do is keep trying to empty the sea with this teaspoon." From that came the Shakesville Silver Teaspoon for Random Acts of Feminism, and a whole lot of subsequent references to teaspoons in these pages, when we are feeling crushed by the vastness of the work to be done.

I recommend you read the lot at the link.  And then start reading Shakesville, cos it's great.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Adrienne Palicki as Wonder Woman

First photos of her in costume are out.

Sweet baby Jesus why the hell is she wearing dayglow pvc?  Ugh, the colours are all the wrong shades, and the boots are blue.  Why blue? Why not red?  Ugh, personal taste and all notwithstanding, how on earth can she run and do action scenes in that?  Is there any flexibility in that outfit?

Bracelets are nice, and the style of the eagle is nice, but the colours really turn me off.

Tell you what, it's a good thing DC's The Source turned comments off before they posted this.  Can you imagine the flame wars over this outfit?

Sunday, March 20, 2011


Today is Ostara - the Spring equinox.  The day and the night are of equal length and as of tomorrow the days are longer than the nights.  Normally, I would everyone a happy Ostara, but it seems a little crass to do so now, given what's happening in Japan.  Ostara is a celebration of spring and life and breeding and the true end of Winter.  I have difficulty celebrating this in public when thousands have just died.

Yes yes, I know in theory that death isn't the end and it's all a great wheel of life blah blah blah, but I somehow think that's scant comfort when whole communities have been wiped out and those that did survive have lost everything.

So instead, I shall point you towards this blog post titled Some Perspective On The Japan Earthquake where the write rpoint sout that it coudl have been a lot worse, and by and large, the safety processes and protocols put in place to deal with this sort of thing worked well and as planned.  For that we can be thankful.  I also recommend the BBC news website for reasoned, clear and responsible reporting on the nuclear plant.

In British news, it's anti street harassment day today.  There's a post about it on the F Word here.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Lunar perigree tonight

You may ask 'what is a lunar perigree'?  It's basically the point at which the moon is closest to the earth in it's orbit.  The opposite is a lunar apogee.  Tonight the moon will be at it's closest point for about twenty years, so the end result is it's gonna look bloody massive.  I'm quite pleased by this because a) I think the moons pretty and b) if it's a clear sky I might be able to make out the man in the moon image everyone eles is apparently able to see.  Personally, I've never been able to make this out, which I blame on my rubbish eyesight and need for glasses.

Oh, and this supermoon has absolutely nothing to do with the Japanese earthquakes, despite what the Daily Mail would have you believe.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Donating to disaster relief organisations

This is a pretty good article about the Do's and Don'ts of donating to disaster relief funds.  It's well worth reading.  I'd particularly like to emphasise the Don't Earmark Funds' section - this is something that applies to any charity or not for profit that you donate to.   Please, please trust the organisation you are donating to to know how to use their funds!  Having worked in the charitable sector (on budgets, on projects, on finance), I feel this is something really important that people should understand.

Meanwhile, I'm gonna put my scheduled posts back into draft form, because it just seems incredibly crass to go on about normal stuff at the moment, given the scale of the Japanese disaster.  And yes, I do take things to heart.  No, I don't know anyone in Japan.

UK Census

On the 27th March all households in the UK are required to complete their census form.  This data will be collected by the Office of National Statistics and use to inform government policy over the next 10 years.  There’s a lot of questions asked, concerning sex, age, occupation, language, place of work, religion, ethnicity, age and mode of transport to work.

There’s a big brou-ha-ha over the census – I get the impression that this is a regular occurrence whenever the census is sent out.
Conspiciously absent is a question on sexual orientation, leading to the creation of a facebook group asking people to declare their religion as lesbian.
In the language section there isn’t enough room to write British Sign Language (although the question does state that you should put down British Sign Language if that is your first language, and the census is available in BSL on the official website).
Sikh and Jew isn’t included in ethnicity, although both are included as options in the religion section.
Sex only lists male and female options, leading to this interesting post on Shakesville, where it seems that by sex they actually means gender,
If you don’t fill out the census you are liable for a £1,000 fine, although I understand that approximately 40 people got fined last time round, when the numbers of those not completing it were probably closer to 3 million*.
Some people are calling for the government to drop the census (which they are intending to do anyway – apparently it’s too expensive – and gather the data from councils, police records, doctors’ records etc.  I think these people don’t really understand how important it is to gather the information correctly.  It would be near impossible, if not actually impossible, to collate and accurately merge the data from a variety of sources.

I have no problem with filling in the census – I think it’s necessary and I’m quite angry that the current government intend to cease carrying it out.  How else are they going to know the demographic of their citizens?  I’m also quite angry about there being no sexuality question.  I’m in the middle of writing a Starman review for Prism comics and I talk about the concept of bisexual erasure within the comic (I was recently reminded of the term by James Ashelford, thanks James!).  Erasure of certain sexualities (or other demographic types) would be much less easy to do if we had concrete data stating how many people termed themselves as such.  The census would be an excellent, nay only, opportunity to effectively gather this data.

How are we meant to prove that we’re here if we’re ignored?  I believe the current estimate of people terming themselves gay is 10% of the UK population.  I’m not sure that I believe it’s as low as that, but I have no way to disprove it.  If we had decent data we would be able to argue for funding towards queer organisations and also promote discussion about homo/biphobic attacks and discrimination.  As it is, we have nothing.  How ridiculous is that?

* or a million.  I can’t remember the figure.

Friday, March 11, 2011


I'm watching the enws on the BBC website, and holy fuck. I don't know how people can talk about anything else right now.

Young, Gifted and Black

Young Gifted and Black is an extraordinarily powerful song.  I cannot think of any other songs that express the same, or a similar sentiment.  That is, a sense of full pride in simply being who you are.  A feeling of joy and self worth and self value for just being who you are.  That you are not only entitled to feel pride, but that to be *you* is such a wondrous, lucky, enviable thing.  Voicing that feeling, especially for a group that is so often told they are shit for being who they are, well it’s simply beautiful and joyous.

(If i'm lucky that video link will actually work)

Thursday, March 10, 2011

So, bloggin eh,

Hi all.  I've not blogged for a few days, I've been rather tired recently, don't know why.  the boyfriend thinks it's because I've gone vegetarian and not getting enough protein (iron?).  I don't know.  Anyway, after I set up scheduled lots of posts I didn't manage to write anything new until today, so at least you've got some things coming up over the next few days.

I missed International Women's day on here but did manage to cover it on New readers....  See here and here.

Another thing you guys might like is this lego video on the great microbiologists of the world.  I enjoyed it.

Friday, March 04, 2011

Abortion Support Network update

Remember how a few weeks ago I blogged about the Abortion Support Network running out of funds?  Well they've sent this update to all their supporters andI thought I'd share.

(All permissions given of course)

ASN recently sent out our third fundraising appeal (thanks to all who donated!), in which we said that the recent and exponential increase in calls had put us at risk of running out of reserve funds. We’d like to apologise to those of you who took this to mean that ASN was at risk of closing down – we’re not! – and briefly explain how abortion funds work.

Abortion funds are a band-aid solution to the larger problem of lack of access to affordable, safe and legal abortions. As ASN helps women in need, more women find out about us. Then we help more women. Then we tell people we helped women, and more people give us money. Then more women call us, and we help more women. An abortion fund will never have enough money to help all the women who need help accessing abortion, so at times we may have to suspend our grant giving until we have more funds. All an abortion fund can do is to try and help as many women as it can, through grants, by giving information, by negotiating discounts with clinics, and by raising as much money as we can.

The main reason we ask (and ask, and ask!) for Standing Orders is so that it helps us guarantee a certain amount of income and grants each month. We are also very lucky to have a donor who gives us a Standing Order each month specifically to cover our phone bill. Because of this, all other individual donations, unless specified, go directly to help women.

Finally, ASN can still help women, if and when we don’t have money for grants. We can continue to tell women which clinics have the lowest fees, how to access medical abortion via Women on Web and how to contact local family planning services. And put women up in our host’s homes of course.

It can be frustrating being involved with an abortion fund because someday there will be a woman who we will not be able to help. We consider ourselves very fortunate that, due to the incredible generosity of all of you and the success of our recent appeal that day has not yet come. But as more women learn about our services, we will be spending more and more money helping more women. This is a good thing! Or, as a good friend who runs a fund in the US once said, “If you’re not running out of money, you’re not doing it right.”

Our recent appeal
Thanks so much to the more than 50 people who donated well over £1,500.00 to ASN. You are all amazing! We also wanted to remind people who have set up a Standing Order or Direct Debit to our bank account to please let us know so we can track your gift. Otherwise, while we can see that the money is coming in, unless you donate via PayPal (which we don’t recommend as PayPal charges high fees) we often cannot see who the money is from.

We are hoping to soon get to the point where we can count on £1,000 per month in Standing Orders, and your contributions are a huge boon towards this goal. Thank you!

Women we’ve helped
This month we heard from 17 women – our busiest month yet – including eight calls in one day. The women included:
A woman who, after two miscarriages, was finally pregnant. Sadly however, antenatal testing showed severe foetal malformations.
A woman struggling to support her teenage boys with a part time job. Her husband recently left her and refused to help her with child maintenance or the cost of the termination.
A single mother of a young child, scraping by on benefits in a hostel. She was able to get a loan for £300 which barely covered the cost of her travel. She had to take the ferry as she doesn’t have a passport.
A woman who came for a 2-day procedure without arranging accommodation. We were able to find her a last-minute host.
A young mother of two who had severe post-natal depression after her last child. Her partner is aware and supportive but can’t help financially and they are unable to tell anyone else about the pregnancy due to fear of stigma. They paid some bills late to raise £250 and we were able to pay the balance of her procedure and flights.
A single parent of 2 young children who she supports on lone parent’s allowance. The man involved in the pregnancy is abusive and would force her to continue the pregnancy he knew about it; so she has told no one. We were able to get a reduction from the clinic.

Finally, one of the ASN phone coordinators received this text from the father of the 19 year old girl mentioned in our appeal, who was pregnant as result of rape:
You’re an angel of grace thank you so much from my wife myself and [our daughter] we are ten minutes away from home and thanks to you and your wonderful organisation everything went perfect today and now we can all get on with our lives after weeks of torment I will never forget what you have done to help us through this process thank you so much

ASN thanks these women and men for sharing their stories with us, and for permitting us to share them with you.

Recent news and upcoming events

ASN in the News
Sarah Fisher of the Communications Committee recently wrote an article on ASN that was printed in the Newsletter for the Humanist Association of Northern Ireland. Check it out (page 8-9)!
Pro Choice Happy Hour
And, we hope you can make it to our next Pro Choice Happy Hour on Monday, 14 March from 7-10 pm at the Old Star Tavern in Westminster. Unlike previous events we’ve held at the Old Star, this St Patrick’s Day themed PCHH will be held in the lower level of the pub. We will have baked goods available for sale!
Film Screening
Have you saved the dates for one of the upcoming screenings of “Abortion Democracy: Poland South Africa”? The film, which will be shown in aid of ASN in Warwick (9 May), Bristol (10 May) and London (11 May), shows how, inconceivably, it’s easier to get an ILLEGAL abortion in Poland than it is to get a LEGAL abortion in South Africa. All three screenings will include a Q&A with director Sarah Diehl. Stay tuned for venues and times!

Speaking of the Film Screening . . .

We are looking for a venue for the London screening of this film, either a room that seats 50 or an actual cinema. Have any leads? Please email us.

Get involved
ASN is currently seeking two types of volunteers: volunteer hosts and a volunteer phone coordinator. We are specifically seeking hosts who live near the clinics that women who need to stay overnight are most likely to attend, which means we are looking for hosts in easy commuting distance to Ealing, Richmond, Brixton and Streatham. We also seek a London-based phone coordinator. Please contact us if you are interested in one of these roles.

Thank you!

In addition to thanking all of you, our fabulous and committed supporters, I wanted to take a moment to thank our wonderful and committed phone volunteers. Each week, one of them juggles answering the ASN phone and client email with work, family and other commitments. Each week, they deal with women in distress, and sometimes in extremely traumatic situations. It is probably fair to say that each of us has felt like crying at some point while on the phone. And yet – there is something wonderful about the knowledge that, thanks to your support, we are able to help these women.

And speaking of our ability to help these women, remember that a donation or a Standing Order helps support women who desperately need access to safe and legal abortions.

Donations – via Standing Order, money transfer, PayPal or in the ASN bucket at one of our events – are urgently needed and gratefully received.

Every penny given to us by individual donors goes directly to help women.

If you have been thinking of making a donation, setting up a Standing Order, or telling your friends about ASN, now would be a great time to do so.
Thank you again for all your support. Without you, we wouldn’t have been able to provide accommodation, financial assistance, and confidential, non-judgemental information to the more than 100 women in difficult circumstances who have contacted us.

With best regards

Abortion Support Network

You can read more about the ASN on their website.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Tory run Westminster Council want to make homelessness illegal

From Labour Uncut:

"The Tories have a new policy on homelessness: make it illegal. That is the extraordinary intention of a Conservative flagship council. Worse, they want to ban Salvation Army soup kitchens.
Westminster city council, the richest and most powerful council in the UK, is proposing a new bye-law to ban rough sleeping and “soup runs” in the Victoria area of London. The proposed new bye-law will make it an offence punishable by a fine to “sleep or lie down”, “deposit materials used as bedding” and to “give out, or permit another to give out, food for free”.

If these proposals are passed, they will also prohibit companies with a proud record of corporate social responsibility from doing good things. Companies like Pret a Manger, who have, very quietly, for many years, given away their unsold food to London’s homeless. If the Tories get their way, companies like Pret will be forced to throw the food in the bin."

Go to the link to read more.

What the everloving fuck?  I cannot comprehend how people think like this.  How this ever pops into someone's head, has them thinking yes what a good idea, then manages to convince others to do then gets it accepted enough to get it proposed as a motherfucking piece of law.


Edit, written a few days after I scheduled this post:
The comments on the original post give linke to the proposed by laws and evidence that this is fact true.  A number of people have questioned it's veracity, I think because of the way the piece was written.  It is certainly very emotive.  It is written by a Labour website, so their interests are to discredit and humiliate the Tories.  A less engaging (and just as truthful) piece could have framed the story as 'Westminster council introduces new vagrancy laws".

The problem is, this new legislature will just move homeless people into other boroughs.  It won't stop people becoming homeless, just encourage them not to be in Westminster Council's district.  Out of sight out of mind is not a realistic or effective way of problem solving.  And that's where the people who put this bill together are failing.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Oh this I just have to post

So, y'all should know by now that I love the dickish version of Guy Gardner.  Imagine my delight when I came across him in Adventures of Superman, in the 80s, and so at his prime dickish stage.  Feast your eyes on these:
 It's grim and gritty!  Grrr!!  True story - my massuese got me to pull the sam expression as Supes and Hal there to help me into a stretch to fix my tight neck muscles.

Oh Guy, don't ever change.  Oh wait you did.  Bugger.  We all know I'm a feminist and all, but I think I'd date this version of Guy Gardener in a second.  It must be my weakness for cocky men coming through.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Just some lovely Wonder Woman stuff

Both from DCWomenKickingAss, I believe.

And while we're here, lets add in this gorgeous picture, which is the cover to one of Rucka's WW trades  Except that not the link is broken.  It was swiped from Immateria, which has a hot boy quotient, so I'd suggest you get over there and take a look.  I shall add in another photo instead: