Tagged: pregnancy

[Daily Blog reposts] Comprehensive sexuality education works

This post was originally published at The Daily Blog on 25 July 2013.

The state of California has seen teen pregnancy rates drop to a 20-year low, across all ethnicities.

I know what you’re thinking.  ”They must have lectured the kids about throat cancer and sellotape!  Teens are ~waiting for marriage~ and ~keeping themselves pure~!”

You would, to the surprise of no one who understands what being a teenager is like, be wrong.  From a linked article:

Public health experts say state laws are responsible for the decline because they require public schools that offer sex education classes to provide scientifically reliable instructions on how contraceptives work along with information about abstinence.

What’s that?  Scientifically reliable information together with “information about abstinence”, which might involve supporting teens’ individual choices and instilling the idea that they can resist social pressure to have sex if they’re not ready?  How the fuck could that possibly be effective?

Especially when compared to the amazing results delivered by the “abstinence-only education, scaremongering, and general judgyness” approach.

Over the past decade, teen pregnancy rates have consistently been higher in Southern states that don’t provide students with adequate sexual health instruction. Since abstinence-only courses often present misleading information about contraception, a full 60 percent of young adults underestimate birth control’s effectiveness and are more likely to skip it because they don’t believe it will make a difference. And teens in rural areas still struggle to access contraception, partly because there are fewer health clinics in less populous places and partly because a societal stigma surrounding teen sexuality still pervades conservative communities.

California has also come up with innovative concepts like “getting bilingual moderators when dealing with bilingual teens”.  And check out this fucking sexy graphic from the CDC about how to design “teen-friendly” health visits.

The facts are plain and simple.  Giving young people actual full information – not “you’re going to get cancer every time you give head” information – and the power or esteem or respect to make their own decisions works.  It doesn’t mean there’ll never be any teen pregnancy, it doesn’t mean we’ll eradicate STDs, it doesn’t mean teenagers will stop being emotional hormonal creatures struggling to find their identity and place in society.

But it does mean they’re far better equipped to deal with that than lying to them.

If you’re of a conspiratorial mind, you might ask why lying abstinence-pushers are so insistent on a strategy which empirically does not work.  You might think about modern capitalism’s need for a less-empowered class of worker drones, and its use of racism and patriarchy to keep certain groups of people in line when it comes to doing the shitty underpaid jobs which and making the babies which are necessary for the elite’s continued lives of luxury.

Of course it’s possible that they’re honestly such self-absorbed, hateful douchecanoes that they’ll happily throw teenagers under the bus if they don’t conform to said douchecanoes’ personal beliefs about How Things Should Be.

But moral, upstanding compassionate folks?  They are not.

Accuracy in reporting: monarchists obsessed with royal baby’s genitals

So Monarchy NZ has managed to convince the managers of various NZ landmarks to light their edifices in blue or pink “depending on the baby’s gender“.

Tiny problem, there.  Well, several tiny problems.

Sex isn’t gender.  There’s simply no guarantee that the configuration of the royal baby’s genitalia will match the behaviour or identity of the child when it’s old enough to express itself.

Of course, the baby is going to face even more massive pressure to conform to society’s opinions about these things, but forcing someone to live a lie so we don’t have to be bothered updating our backward ideas about gender isn’t really something we should be okay with.

Sex isn’t even sex.  There’s also no guarantee that the configuration of the royal baby’s genitalia will actually tell us if the baby is a boy or a girl.  Intersex conditions may be present in up to 1.9% of human births.

(Props to Jan Logie for noting this)

Aren’t there more important things to worry about?  I mean, if we must continue to treat the Duchess of Cambridge’s uterus as our own personal property, shouldn’t we be a little more focused on her health?  The health of her child?  If we must celebrate, can’t we just let off some fireworks in a variety of diverse and inclusive colours?

Because what this all boils down to is reducing an infant to the appearance of its genitalia.  That’s just a bit fucking creepy, isn’t it?

Parenting and politics just don’t mix!

This week, we’ve seen some really clear examples of how parenting and politics don’t mix.

Nanaia Mahuta, MP for Hauraki-Waikato, had to take her five-month-old baby into the debating chamber late on a Friday night because 8 of her Labour colleagues apparently had far more important things to attend and no one told Chris Hipkins that this government likes to ram things through under urgency right after the Budget.

And Holly Walker, list MP for the Greens, has received kindly, compassionate words of advice from a constituent who wanted to remind her silly ladybrain that it’s a terrible, terrible crime for her to be pregnant while elected.

Mahuta and Walker just don’t understand.  Politics and parenting doesn’t mix.  They’d be well advised to look to role models like the Prime Minister, who understood that because he chose to have a son who attends a prestigious private boys’ school and chose to become leader of our country, he needed to set priorities and remember he can’t just demand that politics accommodates his choice to have children.

Which is why he didn’t attend his son’s overseas baseball game when it clashed with the funeral of two New Zealand soldiers.

Wait, no, the other way round.

Now, the thing is that Key did get some blowback for that choice – but because it was seen as a matter of his priorities, and the fucked-up-ness thereof, not because John Key’s choice to be a father is inherently in conflict with his choice to run for office.

All Mahuta has asked is that we reconsider Parliamentary rules laid down in the dawn of time when the notion of a woman MP would have been mindblowing – much less a breastfeeding parent MP.  All Walker has asked is that we, um, accept the existence of her pregnancy, and presumably make the same allowances that all working pregnant people should receive, because (a) pregnant people deserve basic human rights and dignity and (b) pregnant people are just kinda ensuring the propagation of our species and the creation of future taxpayers who are going to support all your judgemental asses in retirement thanks to this government’s short-sighted bullshit suspending payments to the Cullen Fund.

Yet apparently this is completely inconceivable, despite the point (raised on Walker’s Facebook thread) that it’s meant to be the House of fucking Representatives.  And pregnant people and breastfeeding people and parenting people deserve some fucking representation too, and if they cannot be accommodated by the institution which governs all our lives, where the fuck will they be accommodated?

~

Addendum: I note with raised eyebrow the National Council of Women‘s tweet on the matter.  Read it how you willETA: apparently just a case of sloppy editing.  My raised eyebrow stands.

More shitty research on abortion?

So new research is out, apparently saying that we shouldn’t allow abortion on the grounds of mental health because abortion doesn’t affect mental health.

(They do suggest rewording our current legislation so as to further make it clear that we have abortion on demand but not really because Good Moral Doctors really get to make all the decisions, a suggestion which may have slightly biased me towards the belief that they are ignorant wankers.)

That question mark in the title is there because, like all Good Science, the Australian & New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry wants some of my sweet sweet disposable income before it will grant me access to the full text.  So I have to rely on the abstract, and the interpretation of a journalist.  Because journalists are amazingly accurate when it comes to reporting science.

Anyway, to the abstract:

Objective: There have been debates about the linkages between abortion and mental health. Few reviews have considered the extent to which abortion has therapeutic benefits that mitigate the mental health risks of abortion. The aim of this review was to conduct a re-appraisal of the evidence to examine the research hypothesis that abortion reduces rates of mental health problems in women having unwanted or unintended pregnancy.

Conclusions: There is no available evidence to suggest that abortion has therapeutic effects in reducing the mental health risks of unwanted or unintended pregnancy. There is suggestive evidence that abortion may be associated with small to moderate increases in risks of some mental health problems.

So, did it jump out at you, too?  Let’s revisit:

in women having unwanted or unintended pregnancy

unwanted or unintended pregnancy

unwanted or unintended 

I don’t know about you, but I hate the concept of surprise parties.  They are unwanted (and, because they’re a surprise, pretty much always unintended).  On the other hand, I know people who think surprise parties are the most fun ever.  They’re unintended – because they’re a surprise – but, once they occur, very much wanted.

You think me and those people might have slightly different needs and responses and experiences of surprise parties?

Maybe pregnancy is slightly similar.  Maybe a lot of people get pregnant without planning it but are actually really happy to be pregnant!  Maybe their pregnancy is subsequently full of sunshine and rainbows and morning sickness!  Maybe including happy-surprise-pregnancy-people in with unhappy-surprise-pregnancy-people might, I don’t know (because I can’t access the full fucking article) skew things the tiniest bit?

The next problem, of course, is making statements like this:

Abortion was associated with small to moderate increases in risks of anxiety … alcohol misuse … illicit drug use/misuse …and suicidal behaviour …

Without noting whether or not you controlled for the fact that there’s a tiny bit of stigma around abortion in our society, like maybe people who get abortions are regularly labelled murderers or something.  Maybe they, like, went to a clinic to get an abortion because they couldn’t feed another child on top of the ones they already have and some preachy douchefuck waved a plastic foetus at them and they decided to get a stiff drink afterwards.  I fucking would.

Not convinced?  Let’s consider that the president of ALRANZ, Dr Morgan Healey, thinks the paper shows good grounds for completely decriminalizing abortion in NZ.  Bob McCoskrie, who wants to lock up your uterus, thinks it shows abortion is the Great Satan and must be made punishable by death.

You suppose maybe the results are a little bit open to interpretation?

The real war on women is making shit up

If you can find a single verifiable statement in this media release by Family Lies International, I will give you a cookie.

The absolute beauty of it, though, is that its writers act like dangerous unlawful abortions, reduced numbers of abortion providers, and people’s deaths are all part of some magical, context-free societal rejection of abortion.

Not, you know, the concerted efforts of organisations like FLI to incrementally destroy access to early, safe abortions.  Not their constant campaigns to stigmatise people who have had abortions – and aren’t sufficiently guilt-ridden.  Not the blatant, bald-faced lies they use to con pregnant people into their “centres” where they’re bullied and bombarded with emotional blackmail into continuing pregnancies they do not want, cannot afford, and which may kill them.

Not medical professionals being assassinated by those who call themselves “pro-life”.

The war on women?  Apparently, it’s abortion.  A set of medical procedures safer than pregnancy.  An act which has actually been a pretty normal part of human reproduction for centuries.

What a fucking joke, right?

The war on women – rather, on all people who can get pregnant, which in the minds of anti-choicers equals “women” – is being waged by organisations like FLI.  Organisations which want to take choice away from us, take control of our bodies away from us, make us less important than the potential contents of our wombs, kill us, and which have the gall to tell us they’re doing us a favour in the process.

Mrs Colleen Bayer, National Director of the NZ branch of FLI, is a commanding officer in the war on women.  She will lie, she will distort, she will make shit up if it means women – that is, all people who can get pregnant – are constrained, limited, controlled by her personal “morality” and forced to live in line with her personal beliefs.

She will tell you that “Many abortionists and clinic staff are leaving their jobs” because they’ve “realised they’re hurting women”, and pay no attention to the corpse of Dr Tiller behind the curtain.

She will tell you “The negative effect of abortion on women mentally and physically cannot be denied” and expect you to ignore the fact that she and all her “compassionate” friends work day in and day out to create an environment where pregnant people are shamed, guilt-tripped and bullied for exercising their right to bodily autonomy.

She will conflate the deaths of people who felt they had no other choice with “so-called safe abortion” – but don’t expect her to actually acknowledge the ZERO death rate from abortion in New Zealand, or that earlier abortions – which she and her organisation aim to delay – are even safer.

Colleen Bayer is the war on women and pregnant people.  And I personally don’t know how the fuck she sleeps at night.

Let’s play “find the evidence” – foetal alcohol syndrome edition

So the next theatre of the war against pregnant people is going to be our terrible binge-drinking ways, apparently.

You can always spot these Issue Of The Day Which Is Actually Not An Issue stories by the way they go on and on and on about “evidence” yet produce none (see also:  rainbow parties, gay marriage destroying society, obesity epidemic).

This story from Radio NZ is a wonderful illustration of this point:

The National Addiction Centre says there may be as many as 3000 children born in New Zealand each year with the syndrome.

Actual numbers of children identified with said syndrome?  Sadly not provided.

Director Doug Sellman says evidence shows the situation is far worse in New Zealand than in other countries, due to the binge drinking culture here.

Actual statistics comparing us to other nations, especially other nations known for getting pissed up large?  Sadly not provided.

Children’s Commissioner Russell Wills says there has been an explosion in the number of children with foetal alcohol syndrome.

Children’s Commissioner’s actual facts and figures about the number of children with FAS?  Sadly not provided.

A Northland school principal says he sees about three children a year with foetal alcohol syndrome and their lives are ruined by it. …

Actual statistics for the Northland region?  Sadly not provided.  Roll size of the school in question and comparison to nationwide rates of FAS?  Sadly not provided.  Principal’s medical degree which qualifies him to diagnose FAS?  Sadly not provided.

Identification of Northland as a poorer region more likely to have higher rates of alcoholism, drug abuse, and lower rates of preventative healthcare, to name just a few possible contributing factors?  Sadly not provided.

Disclaimer that the “journalist” in question didn’t just shop around schools until a convenient horror story came along?  Sadly not provided.

The actual point of the entire article?

Mr Newman says the mothers of foetal alcohol syndrome children are often very young, and it is heart-breaking to see the damage they have inflicted on their children by drinking while pregnant.

He says drinking in pregnancy is a form of child abuse and should be a criminal offence.

There we go.  Let’s pass laws to control the irresponsible wimminz who are ruining precious babies’ lives.

Other things sadly not provided in this 478-word story?

  • Any kind of analysis of the level of support young pregnant people get
  • Any kind of addressing the fact that “yoof binge drinking” doesn’t just spring up out of nowhere and maybe when young people’s parents stop having shitfights over which city gets to host an excuse for drinking The Sevens or another excuse for drinking The Sacred V8s, or when our Parliament doesn’t clutch its collective pearls at the notion of Denying The Elderly Their Sherry, They Fought For Our Freedoms, then we can point accusing fingers at those teenagers who just magically decided getting off their face was funny
  • Any discussion of what constitutes “binge” or “excessive” drinking, and what level of drinking is actually connected with FAS.  I mean, it’s not like this shit isn’t on Wikipedia, for a start.

Before anyone wants to jump in and say “YOU JUST HATE BABIES AND THINK WOMEN SHOULD BE ABLE TO DO ANYTHING THEY WANT”, here’s the thing: when people have dependency problems, prohibition has historically achieved fuck all. When people are, say, poor, pregnant, unemployed and living in fucking Northland, they may have a hell of a lot more crap on their plate to worry about than being perfect incubators. When the prospect of being pregnant (and probably unable to access abortion services because it makes influential old dudes cry) is actually a really fucking terrible one, some people may well hit the bottle hard.

Hating on pregnant people, banning The Demon Drink, sure, all that is going to make smug wankers feel totally awesome.  It isn’t going to fix the problem, it isn’t going to improve the lives of the people affected by this problem, but that’s never really the point, is it?

ETA:  But wait, there’s more!  What’s wrong with this statement?

He told Radio New Zealand on Friday that the source of the problem was that women were drinking during pregnancy.

He said 40 percent of pregnancies were unplanned.

Gee, maybe some comprehensive sex education, better access and information about contraception, and generally giving people the ability and autonomy to plan their own reproduction could help with that!  Wait, no, BAN DRINKING.  Next up: seafood, oranges, good cheese.

Tui billboard: Antichoicers just want women to have “full information”

On the Right to Know What We Subjectively Choose To Tell You site, there’s a link which says:

There are a range of independent support organisations there to help them with the decision, pregnancy and beyond.

While noting once more the “they” language – women are so scatter-brained they can’t type URLs correctly, of course – and of course the implied “and your decision will be to continue the pregnancy” message – I figured it would be profitable to assess just want these “support organisations” offer.  It sure as shit isn’t “full information”.

Two of the URLs are broken, for a start.

Pregnancy Counselling Services” have a very informative page about abortion.  It lists every single possible side effect you could possibly experience, including “anger” and “sadness”.  These things only come as a surprise to you if you truly believe that prochoicers spend all our time trying to force women to have abortions with promises of eternal youth and radiance.

We’ve already established in my previous post that antichoicers have no self-awareness whatsoever, so it shouldn’t be too surprising that they feel the need to list that people “who think abortion is wrong” generally have a harder time recovering psychologically after abortions.

No shit, Sherlock.  Maybe if you had a basic grasp of empathy you could’ve figured that out yourselves.

“Pregnancy Counselling Service” also has a page on adoption.  While superficially supportive and letting the reader know that they have a right to withdraw their consent, be supported, etc … what do you know, no big scary bullet-point lists of Possible Side Effects Of Adoption, which I’m pretty sure would also include “Anger” and “Sadness”.

In addition, on the Abortion Will Make You Sad page, there’s a “more information” heading, which leads you to “Post Abortion Trauma Healing Service”.  Here’s their “full information” intro:

When a woman has an abortion the new life being created inside her physically, to whom she is attached at some level emotionally, psychologically and spiritually has been taken from her.

Yep, I’m sure trusting people with that attitude to take care of my mental health.

Family Life Crisis Pregnancy Centre” has a page entitled “The Miracle of Life”, so I think we can probably stop right there in any assessment of their idea of “full information”.  But if you want some giggles, check out the slideshow about foetal development.  I’m sure you’ll agree it was very kindly and carefully written to avoid any kind of emotional blackmail whatsoever.

Here4U” contains little information, some testimonials from happy people who’ve used their services (I’m guessing, probably not people who were bullied out of making the best choice for them), but one glorious little antichoice canard:

How will you know if that choice is right for you?

-You will have a peace in yourself with the decision you make.

Mmmmmm, delicious bullshit.  Hate to break it to anyone reading, but the fact is that sometimes in life we have to make bad decisions.  Sometimes you’re out of spoons, but it’s your friend’s birthday, and either you go – and feel like crap and regret it the next day – or you don’t – and feel really guilty for standing your friend up.  That doesn’t make either decision The Wrong Decision You Will Regret Forever.  It means you have to accept that all your options are shit, and select the least shit of those options depending on your personal circumstances.

This argument is especially douchey for a lot of people who have abortions – people for whom that simply is the best choice, but still not a choice they want to make. Consider a person who gets pregnant, wants to remain pregnant, yet gets diagnosed with a disease the treatment for which will kill the foetus.  Choice:  carry pregnancy to term and risk dying vs terminate wanted pregnancy and live to conceive another day.

Almost nobody on this planet is really going to “be at peace” with either decision.  But it’s one that has to be made, so spending the rest of your life beating yourself up because you were in an incredibly difficult situation is nothing anyone should have to go through.

Oh, wait, unless you’re a callous antichoice dickwad who’s quite comfortable using Hallmark-card oversimplifications of human life to bully women into doing what you want them to do.

The Pregnancy Centre” in Palmerston North offers “A Free Service for All Aspects of Pregnancy”.  Except one.  Guess which one.  I mean, even “Counselling after abortion” is on the list.

The House of Grace” is apparently a residential facility for pregnant teens.  I’m sure despite my inherent wincing at the concept on purely historical grounds that it’s a lovely place.  But, kinda logically, it offers neither “full”, nor any information on abortion.

Saving the best till last, “Mothering Advice” is apparently run by someone who thinks the most important thing to tell you right up front on the “Abortion/Adoption” page is the story of her own miscarriage and how it fuelled her choice-denying fire.

Aaaaaaaand … oh look, nothing about abortion.

You know, for a supposed group of “independent support organisations” who are meant to help you with the decision about your pregnancy, they’re a bit poo.

On a bigger issue:  let’s have a nice big cynical belly-laugh at the word “independent”, up there.  It’s classic antichoice rhetoric, built on the … I don’t have the words to really describe how absurd lie that abortion providers are just in it for the money.  You clearly can’t trust Family Planning, after all, they’re just rolling in the sweet, sweet government dollars they get every year to slaughter precious babies to their dark lord Satan.

Whereas those “clinics” above?  Why, they’re neutral!  They’re both fair and balanced!  You can tell by the way they’re ~independent~, right?

Hell, they’re so neutral about abortion that they … completely refuse to offer women support towards getting abortions.  Boy, what commitment.

For more about the reality behind “crisis pregnancy centres” (sadly US-centric):

This is what I learned at a Virginia Crisis Pregnancy Centre (YouTube)
Beware of Antiabortion Crisis Pregnancy Centers
Blog for Choice Day: A Look Inside Crisis Pregnancy Centers
Planned Parenthood’s Pregnancy Q&A – gosh, look at all that full information.  Including the second-to-last question which covers this topic nicely.

Related reading, closer to home:

Allison McCulloch, The Return of the DIY Abortion

Fat pregnant people: automatically doing it rong

I’m going to give the award for Most Contemptible Headline on this story to the Herald, with:

Extremely obese mothers “a scary problem” – expert

with an honorable mention for Stuff’s

Greater risk for obese mums-to-be

I know there are plenty of people out there who are going to say I’m just defensive ’cause I’m fat, or Everyone Knows* being fat is basically a death sentence which is unjustifiably not being carried out this very second.

I merely ask those people to look at statements like:

the survey showed 38 per cent [of “extremely morbidly obese” women] had their labour induced, compared with 21 per cent in the general population, and more than half (52 per cent) had a caesarean delivery, compared with 32 per cent of other pregnant women.

And consider that

a)  “Extremely morbidly obese” is apparently determined by a BMI of over 50 – and BMI is bullshit;

b) There is a growing awareness of the fact that lots of the time, women don’t get the hugest amount of choice in having their labour induced, or caesarean deliveries.  Are you honestly going to sit there and tell me that none of this group of 370 women was told, by their supposed medical adviser, that “you should induce because you’re at risk because you’re fat” or “we need to do a C-section because your baby is too fat“?**

Well, you probably are.

But the fact remains that only one of the stories linked above – the Herald one – stated that labour “had” to be induced, and the pregnant people “needed” C-sections.  The fact that language isn’t matched in the Stuff story?  Yeah, colour me suspicious.

c)  Anyway, any article which says “Anecdotally, however, the problem of extremely obese mothers was growing” is probably not one I want to base healthcare decisions on.

It’s sad, you know.  Professor Lesley McCowan of the University of Auckland has gotten all the way to the top in academia without figuring out that the plural of anecdote is not data.  And correlation isn’t causation.

I’m not saying we should stop all research into pregnancy complications or maternal health.  But taking 370 women, based on a stupid, unscientific “measurement”, and then basically saying “see!  Their fatness kills their babies!” without saying “and we controlled for socio-economic status, and we controlled for race, and we controlled for illnesses or medications which might cause weight gain, and we controlled for potential health issues caused by years of socially-encouraged disordered eating” …

It basically makes you a judgemental wank who should stop pretending to do science.

I’m always open to the idea that the media have, as usually happens, completely misrepresented an otherwise balanced, well-designed study.  But when you’re dealing with fat issues?  Odds are against it.

If you yourself feel like a nice cold shower of scepticism when it comes to medical professionals and the plus-size, take some time to read the heartwarming stories at First Do No Harm.  If you find incandescent rage heartwarming.

~

*To paraphrase a Tamora Pierce novel of my adolescence, “I must meet this scholar Everyone.  He seems to be wrong about a lot of things.”

**For more related, outraging reading, the “Birth” tag at Hoyden About Town should see you right.

Recommended reading: Pregnant While Feminist

Wundergeek, formerly of Go Make Me A Sandwich (the archives of which I recommend for some fantastic geek-misogyny sporking) is blogging her pregnancy, and how it affects or is affected by her feminism.

Last week I finally announced to all my friends that I was pregnant at a large party. A male friend congratulated me, then observed that I’d now get to deal with people judging me about every decision I make through the rest of my pregnancy and beyond.

And it was true! So true! Within about twenty minutes of telling my co-workers (previous to the party), one of them scolded me quite harshly when I confessed that I’m not sure I want to be pregnant again after this pregnancy, since it’s been a rough first trimester. “DON’T YOU DARE,” she told me, and then proceeded to lecture me about how awful it is to be an only child. Even at the party, people made comments casually assuming what decisions I would be making regarding the baby like “but you’ll be breast-feeding by then” or “you’ll still be home with the baby at that point”.

What is it about being pregnant that strips away your autonomy to make decisions about your baby’s future? Seriously, people. I almost wanted to start a blog right there and then so I could write about how messed up that is.

Check out more of her stuff at Pregnant While Feminist.

Down Under Feminists’ Carnival XL: bigger, better, more punnage

Welcome to the 40th Down Under Feminists’ Carnival.  I am your stunning hostess, Queen of Thorns, “QoT” to my friends and “single-handed destroyer of progressive NZ politics” to my trolls.

I’m entirely enamoured of the fact that 40 in Roman numerals is XL, so I’m putting our plus-size Antipodean bloggers up first:

New study shows correlation between fatness and selling one’s soul to Satan

Definatalie writes about re-learning her love of cycling.  sleepydumpling at Fat Heffalump talks about Why I Don’t Diet and Fixing the Relationship with Food.  Bri at Fat Lot of Good sees that fat-shaming is now getting aimed at four-year-olds to the extent some are developing a fear of food.

sleepydumpling is on a crusade, people.  A crusade for all super-fatties, deathfats, people who just cannot find clothes in their size for love nor money.  Warning: utter fuckwittery in the comments.  Remember, fatshion is activism.  And no, fat acceptance will not in fact kill you.

There’s been discussion lately about the role of the fatosphere on people’s perceptions and lives.  Dr Samantha Thomas has done a for-real ivory-tower-shaking academic paper on how the fatosphere proactively challenges fat stigma, and sleepydumpling covers the same topic in Breaking Down Fat Stigma: Shame.  Sonya at Lipmag was one of the interviewees for Dr Thomas’ paper.

The body plays a huge (BOOM BOOM!) role in a lot of feminist discussion, and things always get good and heated around one fact in particular: pregnancy and how you are probably Doing It Rong right this minute.

You read a book while pregnant?  You’re gonna DIE!!!

Feminethicist posts a quick note about double standards around scars – especially stretch marks.  Aussie MP Andrew Laming fights the good fight for homebirths.  Bluebec confronts the notion that any particular way of having babies is “unnatural”.

Pregnancy isn’t always wanted or continued, of course, and that’s why apparently I have to keep explaining that the “right to life” movement are a bunch of wanks with the intellectual honesty of a guppy.

And of course once Junior makes it out into the world it’s all downhill for progressive parents, who simply cannot win.  Ever.

Buy this Mozart CD or your baby will sprout wings!

Blue milk continues to post on her presentation on feminist parenting.  Part 4 covers “what is feminist parenting?” and Part 5 looks at the difficulties with being a feminist parent.  She also talks about the idea that some parents are too sexy to breastfeed – and provides a challenge with a follow-up post on glamorous images of breastfeeding.  Another post discusses pro-feminist fathers.

Breastfeeding also shows up as a really nifty shorthand for “crazy woman” in the Game of Thrones series, as discussed at Hoyden About Town.

Bee of a Certain Age talks about learning to love after having her children.

Our kids just aren’t getting a break:  Lessons to be Learned covers the Toddlers and Tiaras phenomenon and blue milk looks at high fashion’s role in sexualising girls.  Feminethicist has been having some fun challenging the heteronormativity when people play joke-matchmaker with babies.

Unsurprisingly, I did not take kindly to Family First’s insinuations that some families are just “obviously” worse than others.

For further reading, Mindy at Hoyden About Town has reviewed The 21st Century Motherhood Movement.

Where does a lot of this crap come from? Our wonderful media, of course.

This just in: reading mainstream media could be the reason you’re really angry all the time

Feminethicist is just thrilled by a camera app that makes your romantic partner look tolerable again. I have a slight issue with bra companies’ media releases being treated as scientific fact, with a sprinkling of obesity panic on top.

Rachel at Musings of an Inappropriate Woman takes on the latest theories of Bettina Arndt and the treatment of women who are famous for being pretty and throwing together a good outfit.

LudditeJourno, posting at The Hand Mirror, covers Michael bloody Lhaws’ preference for referring to poor brown people as “feral” and coleytangerina at The Lady Garden gets freaked out by news of a “cougar attack” … then a tad depressed.

Emma at Lip asks where the strong women are in literature.  Kate Barker discusses anti-feminist imagery.  Cara at Life is a feminist issue talks about our media ban on reporting suicide, and whether that’s really looking all that effective.

MJ at Kiwiana (inked) tells Stuff where they can shove their scare quotes when reporting on domestic violence.

Time for something a bit more positive:

Retrospective:  awesome women being awesome

Penguin Unearthed talks about Gudridur Thorbjarnardottir as part of her Travelling Feminist posts – here’s another on Norway.  The Hoydens share the news that Sensei Keiko Fukuda has become the only woman ever granted the 10th degree black belt in judo.  Double Antandre talks about Nancy Wake.

Another big issue of the past month has been identity, especially given Google’s being douchebags about what’s considered a “real” name (all the more aggravating because it’s based on needing “real” demographics to sell to shitbox marketers).

I shall call him Squishy and he shall be mine

Chally talks about the kinds of history that go into building identity.  blue milk passes on information on the My Name is Me project created in response to Google+ being douches.  Giovanni talks about Google+, identity and cyberpunk.

Where does a lot of identity come from?  Our “race”, social construct that it is, and religion, and culture, and all other kinds of pretty touchy issues.

Nothing witty to put here

Mindmadeup asks if Australia is a racist nation.  Chally confronts racism at the bus stop.  stargazer discusses how the “default is male” concept extends to commentary about Muslims.  stargazer also posted about the start of Ramadan.

Chally challenges the notion that feminism and religion are mutually exclusive.  Bluebec talks about gender exclusion in the Freemasons.  Gladly the Cross-Eyed Bear covers freedom from religion.

Queen Emily at Questioning Transphobia asks “When am I trans?” and when trans people are “real”.

Love and Marriage

In happier news, Rachel is getting hitched!  Of course, planning a wedding doesn’t get any easier when you’re a feminist so she’s provided a handy Guide to Feminist Wedding Planning.  News With Nipples covers some tragi-comic anti-marriage-equality protests.  Hayley at Equal Love Equal Rights posts on marriage equality.

Mr Wainscotting is pleased to announce the launch of Legalise Love, a group looking to get some actual marriage equality happening in NZ.  Idiot/Savant has been taking an interest in our MPs’ views on the subject:  here he is on Hone Harawira and David Parker (and it’s not good news).

As Chally notes, though, we shouldn’t devalue single women.

Then there’s some perennial issues for feminist bloggers:

Poverty

stargazer helped produce a session on poverty at the Human Rights Commission’s diversity forum and also blogged her speech from the forum on needing an action plan on human rights.  Maia at The Hand Mirror dissects a “game” where privileged people get to pretend to be poor for a while and probably learn some Important Moral Lesson.

Deborah Russell discusses welfare in the Dominion Post.

Rape culture / violence

Blue milk on some truly grotesque rape-as-comic-device bullshit.  Deborah discusses the ridiculous “guidance” given to women around “keeping themselves safe”.

The Naked Philologist deals in two parts with the subject of teaching problematic material – Can you teach Chrétien without talking about rape? and You might be able to teach Chrétien without talking about rape, but I shan’t.

LudditeJourno posts about the Wellington Sexual Abuse Network and preventing sexual violence.  Idiot/Savant notes that domestic violence still gets excused if you’re rich and powerful enough.

Disability

A guest poster at Hoyden About Town talks about being a “border gimp”.  Joanna at The View From Down Here talks about building community.

Pay gap

Deborah talks about the gender pay gap and another Deborah’s predictable privileged attitude towards it.  Idiot/Savant covers the Greens’ and CTU’s calling of National’s bluff: if people can just ask labour inspectors to check there’s pay parity in their workplace, maybe we should just start doing that all the time.

And finally, a little collection of random items to fill out your reading.

We can’t stop here, this is bat country!

Blue milk on potentially-problematic vulva-themed art.  Geek Feminism on social media protest action.  Bluebec on trusting people to make their own decisions.  Maia at The Hand Mirror on the cost of being a woman in public.  Chally’s thoughts on being “born this way”.  A guest post on Geek Feminism about encouraging women’s participation in geekiness.  Blogger at the Cast Iron Balcony on how to help the Sylvia Creek anti-logging protesters.  Bluebec on polyamory and doing it right. Feminaust posts on listening to sex workers.

That’s all she wrote

Thanks to our lovely submitters, especially Chally and Rebecca who made my job a heck of a lot easier!

The 41st edition of the DUFC will be hosted at A Touch of The Crazy.  As we still seem to be having issues with blogcarnival, send your submissions directly to stef_thomp [at] hotmail [dot] com.  We’re four years in and going strong but we need your help to keep it awesome!

The list of DUFC contributors is woefully out of date, but feel free to peruse it in the meantime while I get some well-earned coffee.