Sunday, December 26, 2010

brief sunday afternoon links

Australia-specific racism + intersections:

Silence down the generations of Aboriginal hearing loss
The older children range from kindergarten to Year 7. Out of the 21 screened, six have discharging, infected ears - almost one third. Anne O'Leary calls this "pretty shocking", but she was expecting even higher rates.
Ian is one of the worst cases. Kate says GPs prescribe antibiotics, but the infection persists. She had an appointment with an Ear Nose and Throat specialist in Perth, but it was cancelled. The waiting list is three years long.

"How Ian's developed academically I don't know. I don't know how he can be achieving anything," says Anne O'Leary. The infection means he's had impaired hearing for half his life.
It probably won't surprise you but I'm wondering what impact this has on the ability of Indigenous kids to study, and I wonder how this contributes to stereotypes of the Indigenous community.

Indigenous ATM fee burden revealed
A new study has found some people in remote Indigenous communities are spending between 10 and 20 per cent of their income on ATM fees.
In some cases, the fees are much higher than they would be in the city, but there is no competition, so locals have no option but to pay.
Worker decapitated in chicken factory after being sucked into machine. I mentioned this in the other blog, because I want to make clear the intersections of this: there are so many things contributing to these crappy working conditions, including but in no way limited to the crap conditions for immigrants, and the high processing speeds due to the cheapness of animal meat. It's totally uncool.

Things on Gender:
Movember: Good cause, poor execution at the Scavenger, on the sexist, heteronormative and classist (amongst other things) elements behind initiatives like Movember.

Women, Warriors, and Gender Policing by N.K. Jemisin.

Other Stuff:

Where climate and conservation collide

And finally, Glass Icarus and I are proud to announce: Potluck: An Intersectional Food Carnival. More details at the link.

[book review] Cordelia Fine - Delusions of Gender

I zoomed through Delusions of Gender this week, in an attempt to get it read and reviewed before I go away. I found this book a really interesting read. Delusions of Gender is a take-down of evolutionary psychology theories, and does it in an easily readable, well-referenced way. This was a fast read, at just over 200 pages it didn't take too long, and it was engaging and interesting, and though I think it's a good read, ultimately there was a level of intersectionality that was missing for me that I think limits it.

The book opens with an analysis of priming which I liked. It looked at the way priming is used in general, and as a way to trigger a response against stereotype (for example, wording that is used to prime women to be more empathic is appropriately worded to have a similar impact on men). It looked at social expectations, and how those expectations create a motivation gap. From this, Fine explored the ways the ideas behind the motivation gap can create ability gaps.

I really enjoyed this stuff on priming. I've not done a huge amount of reading on this stuff, so it was interesting for me.

Although Fine is a psychologist, she did not have a lot of regard for psychologists, particularly highlighting the way psychologists 'enjoy' exploiting stereotype threats. There was a bit of an exploration of stereotype threats, and the importance of role models and a 'sense of belonging' in increasing or removing stereotype threats.

The book concludes with a section on gender neutral parenting and the socio-cultural situation. It is an excellent takedown of those parents who claim to have tried gender neutral parenting, but had to give up because their daughter clearly just naturally preferred pink or whatever. My horror at unconscious prenatal gendered expectations meant I spent most of this section leafing through with a pen to make copious notes. I was especially intrigued (though not surprised) by the analysis of terms used before conception depending on the sex of the child, even by parents who honestly believed they were being gender neutral.

There is a thread through of other themes. Mention is made several times of the publishing bias, of studies and things only being published when they demonstrate a gender difference; studies that show a difference are rarely published (this can hardly be a surprise). Fine appears to have a significant issue with a book, frequently cited in Delusions of Gender, The Female Brain by Louise Brizendine. At the point where Fine begins to tear apart this text, the tone also starts to become very sassy. Not distractingly so, but it becomes very sassy. Fine also implies that texts, studies and experts who make neuroscience claims generalise far too much than should be accepted.

Other reviews have mentioned the white heterosexuality of the book, and I definitely have to agree, and add in the ciscentricism. There were a few references to studies which focussed on or touched on racism, or moved away from a heterocentrist or ciscentric viewpoint, but for the most part they were just side mentions to support the overall argument. In addition, in the final third of the book, a stand up example of binary-gendered transphobic essentialism was held up as an exemplary effort at gender neutral parenting. There was also a bit of essentialist speciesism in the book.

In general, I enjoyed this book. There were some new-to-me things, and I see its value as a first year Gender Studies text, but there is nothing really world shattering in it, particularly in light of its failure at real, meaningful intersectionality.