This is the archive of the original tigtogblog

tigtog now posts at the new and improved Hoyden About Town. She also blogs at Larvatus Prodeo and Finally A Feminism 101 Blog. If the new Hoydenspace is down you should find updates below.

Posts begin below the Feed Modules from the blogs named above.

Hoyden About Town

Latest Posts from Finally, A Feminism 101 Blog


Cry me a river, Dougie

The US blogosphere has a new twit-of-the-week:

FX: drumroll

Step up for your award, Doug Anglin of Milton, Massachusetts. And damn you to hell for making a certain Bee Gees song my earworm companion. For that you get mocked in the antipodes as well.

Poor Dougie. Apparently he's not doing too well at school, and is concerned that he won't gain admittance to the college of his heart's desire. Seeing as he's a hunka hunka cool dude studster, it couldn't possibly be his own fault for like, not doing all his classwork or not turning up for his math midterm, could it? Nope, it's all the fault of that nasty, nasty school for discriminating in favour of the girl students:
Among Anglin's allegations: Girls face fewer restrictions from teachers, like being able to wander the hallways without passes, and girls are rewarded for abiding by the rules, while boys' more rebellious ways are punished.

So, young Dougie's dad, Gerry Anglin (who conveniently is a lawyer) has filed a civil rights suit against the school. Considering his dad (or someone from Milton with exactly the same name, dear Gerald) has run for political office in the past, this is a canny move, as there can be no accusation of attempted monetary gain from this lawsuit, nononono. It's all just good old public-spirited high-mindedness, pointing out systemic unfairness like making rules and rewarding those who follow them while penalising those who don't.

Seeing as there are elections later this year, I encourage all Massachusetts (oh my poor brane) voters to carefully monitor any Anglins on their ballot and perhaps feel free to paper their electoral district with the picture above.

Props to vesti for the pic. Read more from Twisty, Pandagon and Pinko Feminist Hellcat, and a peek at the reaction from a proud exposer of liberal media bias here. And that Bee Gees earworm? It has cruelly morphed into the theme from the OC. No punishment is too severe for such a heinous act. Fly, my pretty mockery-meme! Fly wide! Infect the world!


Owie owie ow

I'm awake at 5:45am because of two consequences of following the unwritten law of Sydney:
thou shalt spend Australia Day beside the harbour.

The corollary laws? First the schedule confusion law:
thou shalt forget to put thy bins out when bin day falls on a public holiday, thereby having to rush downstairs at 5:30am, grab the prawn heads out of the fridge, then run outside and race the wheelie bin out to the street when thee is woken by the Friday morning garbage truck.
and then discovering the forgotten law:
Australia Day is the one day of the year when thou shalt become sunburnt.



Relinquishment, Remorse and failed Redemption

I wish to recommend to you a deeply moving journal of a relinquishing mother as she writes of her experiences and emotions through the years following the adoption of her first-born. Her eloquent pain is so profound that I hesitate to link to her writing as a pro-abortion advocate, because I don't want to appear in any way to downplay the courage of her choice to continue with her pregnancy and give birth.

I firmly believe that the ultimate goal of the abortion-access movement, which is to work towards a whole raft of medico-social policy options to ensure that every child born is not only wanted but planned (because every woman has full reproductive autonomy) is compatible with this woman's experience.

Because she was poor, this young woman was told she could not possibly be a competent mother, and was pressured to give her baby up for an adoption arranged through her church. Although her pregancy was unplanned her bond to her unborn child became very strong and loving, and relinquishing the baby to adoptive parents was agonising. She chooses her current church in large part because on Mothers' Day they are inclusive toward women like her who are not accompanied by all, maybe even any, of their children.

This is the first post in the archive, and each later post continues her story. After you've read this first post, go to the home page, choose the January archive link, and read the posts in order. This is gut-wrenching stuff.

I offer this as a counterpoint to those spinning inconclusive studies into a solid proof that abortion is emotionally and mentally damaging, and that women who are not prepared to raise a child can find a pain-free solution in adoption. That the adoption option is often wrapped around in symbols of sacrifice and redemption is not surprising given its widespread association with religious organisations, who cannot seem to let go of the notion of unmarried sexual relations as sinful. But the experience of this mother and many others show that relinquishing a child is not necessarily an option that leads to improved happiness and mental health.

Unplanned pregnancies fuck women up, not because we are irresponsible and selfish if we feel unready to be mothers, but because society, particularly in the USA out of the developed nations, refuses to adequately support all children with a social safety net to ensure that even poor mothers can adequately provide for their children.

Most single young women with unplanned pregnancies have only two practical choices - abortion and adoption. Both choices can offer the woman concerned relief as she slips back into the life she had planned for herself before her pregnancy, both can offer despair and regret as the woman copes with unexpected emotional responses to the events surrounding her pregnancy and the aftermath. Nobody can predict what their own reaction to an unplanned pregnancy and the choices they make will be, let alone the reaction of another woman. Anyone who advocates that either adoption or abortion is some sort of happy-happy cure-all is doing a disservice to women confronted with a disturbing choice.

The only proven way to limit the anguish surrounding unplanned pregnancy is to minimise the number of unplanned pregnancies. The way shown to work best by this measure is a combination of a broad sexual health education and easy general availability of contraception, best demonstrated in the low teen pregnancy rate and low overall abortion rate in North Western European nations.. The current US administration's emphasis on abstinence education is pie-in-the-sky laughable.

I just had a long discussion with my 11-year-old-but-looks-16 daughter about this relinquishing mother's anguish, which morphed into a discussion on contraception and teenage sex myths ("you don't have to worry, nobody gets pregnant their first time"), and then into different opinions on abortion, pointing out that everyone has to look into the facts of reproduction and embryonic development and decide for themselves when a foetus/embryo becomes a person, and make later reproductive choices with that knowledge in mind.

It was one of the most powerful, grown-up, mature discussions I have ever had with her, although I have always been very open with both my kids about sex, i.e. that sex is fun and can be emotionally exalting with a beloved partner but carries obvious risks regarding STDs and pregnancy and should not be lightly engaged in. (My parents were local Family Planning Association volunteers and I read all the literature, which is why I delayed sex until I was well over 18 and well-protected while most of my peers were risking pregnancy before they were 16 - their parents had kept them ignorant. I felt this particular parental example was one of the keepers.)

We are fortunate in Australia that the schools have a reasonable sex-education programme and that contraception is easily available unless you're in one of the few small towns that has a sole godbag pharmacist. What we mustn't do is take this current good fortune for granted - it needs to be protected so that generations of women to come do not have to deal with the anguish of either abortion or adoption.


Nikongate, complete with smoking lens(*)

Anonymous Lefty has an excellent post on the tabloid character assassination of Mark Latham over his contretemps with a press photographer following him around when he was with his children.

As we all wouldn't get the impulse if some useless slimebag was perving on us with our kids.

Same papers that would run a hint of a child abuse story like a bus on the smell of an oily rag.

Hypocrites. Latham has heaps of flaws, but sticking up for the privacy of his kids isn't one of them."
*hat-tip to Andrew in the above thread for coming up with a descriptor so perfect I just had to rip it off for the post title.

Blog for Choice

Yesterday was the 33rd anniversary of the court decision that made abortion legal for women in the USA - Roe v. Wade. With the coalition of the religious right with the fiscal conservatives of the Republican party having reached a point of domination of not only the federal legislature but an uncomfortable number of state legislatures, the right for women to choose an abortion as part of family planning is increasingly under threat. Roe v. Wade may soon be merely a shell that guarantees women the hypothetical right to seek an abortion while a multitude of practical barriers are placed in their way that will make it almost impossible to have an abortion unless one is wealthy.

As Australia increasingly takes its lead in public policy from the USA, and the current government is well-known for the anti-abortion stance of prominent ministers, the roll-back of abortion rights in the States should not be merely dismissed as "it couldn't happen here" - after all, thanks to Harradine and Abbot we still don't have the right to be prescribed RU486, years after European and New Zealand made it available.

Read some Blog for Choice posts. Then worry for yourself, your friends, daughters and nieces. Then get activist on some patriarchal arse. Bitching on blogs is cathartic, but you have to step away from the computer once in a while to get something done.


Friday wine blogging

So we were having steak, and my Mr Tog said "Big Boofy Red?" and I said "Mmmmmmmmm."

He ended up grabbing a Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 from the cellar. Oh yeah.

Lingering berry flavours on the mid-palate, smoky after-taste, long smooth finish with just enouh tannin to refresh the palate and not so much that you pucker up like a silly old lemon


And while you're drinking the biggest boofiest red you have locally? A Sydney expat in Hong-Kong does the best fashion and pop-culture snark evah.


Fighting the urge to hurl...

... a brick through the window of every store carrying these dolls, the ads for which have only just crossed my radar. Yup, a major toy manufacturer is now officially sexualising infant girls.

Apparently some folks in the US have been shocked, shocked I tell you to find they have bought "a doll that looks like a prostitute and when [they] get it home [they] realize that yes, it still looks like a prostitute".

This brings me to one of my regular rants - the number of young girls I see wearing clothes to go supermarketing with their parents that would have been considered way too extreme for Jodie Foster in Taxi Driver. And some of the girls are well under 10. What the hell happened to a childhood of jeans and T-shirts, and skirts that do more than just skim the butt?

Surely the teens are soon enough to start wearing sexy fashion, if one has been socialised to feel success as a woman is predicated on being judged on one's looks alone. That's another rant in itself. But the little girls! Why the fuck do so many parents want to dress their pre-teen daughters like prostitutes?


Red Pill or Blue Pill?

Missing the good old days of adolescent existential angst?
"Researchers at UCLA found that cells in the human anterior cingulate, which normally fire when you poke the patient with a needle ("pain neurons"), will also fire when the patient watches another patient being poked. The mirror neurons, it would seem, dissolve the barrier between self and others. [1] I call them "empathy neurons" or "Dalai Llama neurons". (I wonder how the mirror neurons of a masochist or sadist would respond to another person being poked.) Dissolving the "self vs. other" barrier is the basis of many ethical systems, especially eastern philosophical and mystical traditions. This research implies that mirror neurons can be used to provide rational rather than religious grounds for ethics (although we must be careful not to commit the is/ought fallacy).

by V.S. Ramachandran


Six years ago, Edge published a now-famous essay by neuroscientist V.S. Ramachandran ( (known to friends and colleagues as "Rama"), entitled "Mirror Neurons and imitation learning as the driving force behind "the great leap forward" in human evolution" [2]. This was the first time that many in the Edge community heard of mirror neurons which were discovered by Iaccomo Rizzolati of the University of Parma in 1995. In his essay, Rama made the startling prediction that mirror neurons would do for psychology what DNA did for biology by providing a unifying framework and help explain a host of mental abilities that have hitherto remained mysterious and inaccessible to experiments."
Ramachandran poses the following thought experiment based on an extrapolation of discoveries since the neuroscience revolution - the corollary of which was that "even our loftiest thoughts and aspirations are mere byproducts of neural activity. We are nothing but a pack of neurons."

"Consider the following thought experiment that used to be a favorite of philosophers (it was also the basis for the recent Hollywood blockbuster The Matrix): Let's advance to a point of time where we know everything there is to know about the intricate circuitry and functioning of the human brain. With this knowledge, it would be possible for a neuroscientist to isolate your brain in a vat of nutrients and keep it alive and healthy indefinitely.

Utilizing thousands of electrodes and appropriate patterns of electrical stimulation, the scientist makes your brain think and feel that it's experiencing actual life events. The simulation is perfect and includes a sense of time and planning for the future. The brain doesn't know that its experiences, its entire life, are not real.

Further assume that the scientist can make your brain "think" and experience being a combination of Einstein, Mark Spitz, Bill Gates, Hugh Heffner, and Gandhi, while at the same time preserving your own deeply personal memories and identity (there's nothing in contemporary brain science that forbids such a scenario). The mad neuroscientist then gives you a choice. You can either be this incredible, deliriously happy being floating forever in the vat or be your real self, more or less like you are now (for the sake of argument we will further assume that you are basically a happy and contended person, not a starving pheasant). Which of the two would you pick?

I have posed this question to dozens of scientists and lay people. A majority argue "I'd rather be the real me." This is an irrational choice because you already are a brain in a vat (the cranial cavity) nurtured by cerebrospinal fluid and blood and bombarded by photons. When asked to select between two vats most pick the crummy one even though it is no more real than the neuroscientist's experimental vat. How can you justify this choice unless you believe in something supernatural?"

Read the whole essay.


So, when Bushco really fucks up, I'm good

Could I survive the apocalypse? No worries.
The True Survivor
You scored 65 % ass-kickingness, 86% leadership, and 88% scavenging ability!
Congratulations, you scored the highest in all three categories: ass-kickingness, leadership, and scavenging skills. You are definitely going to survive the Apocalypse. Your abilites to lead others, fight in wars without any reservations, and contribute positively to the group by finding food and helping to build shelter are unmatched. You were made for this kind of shit!
My test tracked 3 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 58% on ass-kickingness
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 75% on leadership
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 66% on scavenging
Link: The CouldYouSurvive the Apocalypse Test written by KatetheBrave on OkCupid Free Online Dating, home of the 32-Type Dating Test

But in the meantime I'll just grow my roses.

raindrops on roses


James Frey's fictional non-fiction - more than just a personal flaw

It is very frightening that many, perhaps millions of people's understanding of addiction has been grossly perverted by a fraudulent book that started its life as an overt work of fiction.

So says my old mate Kev, over at Sufficient Scruples. Kev takes a deeper look at the issues of the day, with especial attention to health policy and bioethics. His articles are long, but totally worth reading. He's also a regular at Lean Left.

The appeal of characters such as Frey's reconfiguration of himself, the hell-raising hooligan who saves himself through strength of will, is well examined by Lance Mannion, who looks at the utter Right Wingish-ness of Hollywood action heroes and how that message subverts the culture. The myth of the loner who can take a stand and save the day without needing human relationships such as community or support from larger public institutions is insidious, and we leftists should think hard before we reward filmmakers and publishers who push such narratives with our dollars.


Apparently, laughing at them sometimes works

In response to me and everybody's dog mocking them yesterday:

No Brokeback blackout
January 13, 2006 - 10:49AM

Roadshow Films denies claims that it will not be releasing Brokeback Mountain in regional areas of Far North Queensland.

Goodness me, mockery on breakfast TV (paraphrase:"they reckon gay cowboys are unrealistic, but they'll swallow talking lions!") seems to make Roadshow nervous. Poor dears.

Never mind, maybe the folks in FNQld will like it just as much as folks in Wisconsin did.

Pooftas, we don't let our sons grow up to be Gayboys

"Maybe there are some (gay cowboys) out there but I've never heard of 'em," he said.

"I mean, it's not a profession that attracts those sort of people."
So says Bob "mad as a" Katter, Federal MP for the Kennedy electorate in North Queensland, where the townships of Townsville and Rockhampton have banned screenings of the film Brokeback Mountain, this year's controversial film about cowboys in love in the American high country.

Townsville is, amusingly, home to the NRL rugby league team the Cowboys. Team management appears concerned that one film about gay cowboys will alienate their fanbase, because Queenslanders are just that easily led.

Less amusingly, banning a film about the homophobic 1960's USA shows they're doing the timewarp again in homophobic 2000's Queensland.Of course, outside the timewarp gay-activists note that Bob Katter is talking out of his arse.

"We have a strong western influence up this way in our gay community," Townsville-based Colin Edwards told Channel 10.

"We have gay property owners, jackaroos, jillaroos. They really do exist and they really do fall in love."

Poor Bob. How dare these people wander around not even swishing their hips as much as John Wayne? They oughta be branded, obviously, so Bob can avoid "those sort of people".


BushCospeak = Doublespeak

Salman Rushdie succinctly skewers deceptive abuse of language:

BEYOND any shadow of a doubt, the ugliest phrase to enter the English language last year was "extraordinary rendition". To those of us who love words, this phrase's brutalisation of meaning is an infallible signal of its intent to deceive.

Of course, it's not only politicians who obscure plain ugly intent with superficially unobjectionable words, politicians merely employ spin doctors to find the fewest memorable words to do so. Non-political memes are often more verbose though no less sinister.

Sexists are fond of using "boys will be boys" to dismiss any female complaint of certain oppressive/threatening male behaviours.

Racists are fond of speaking approvingly of communities that are "great places to raise kids" (because everybody there looks just like us), for example. It is not coincidence that the Sutherland Shire, flashpoint for the mob violence against people "of Middle Eastern appearance" at Cronulla Beach last month, had been described that way for decades.

Have you run into any brutalised phrases lately?


Round up of the Carnivals

I've recently discovered the blog carnival phenomenon. For an afficionado of procrastination such as myself, heaven!

The carnivals I've chosen to showcase in this post will probably peg me* for the curious better than my blogroll ever could, as I deliberately chose to feature blogs there that I wade through as a necessary chore as well as those I find a regular delight, just to confuse the hastily judgmental.

Anyway, roll on the buffet!

The Carnival of Feminists #6 - race and gender

December Australian Speculative Fiction Carnival

Carnival of the Godless #31

Carnival of the Liberals #3

Carnival of Satire #15

Tangled Bank #44 - science blogging

Carnival of the Green - 8

Carnival of Bad History #4

The original bandwagon everyone's jumping on:
Carnival of the Vanities

All the Blog Carnivals you can eat

*yup, leftist skeptic smartarse geek


Seagullsicle! Pelican-bonbon! Albatross!

Coming soon to Harrods of Knightsbridge, get your bleedin' seabird-flavoured memories of the People's Princess and her doomed lover!

Di, Dodi and a huge honking bird. Mohammed al-Fayed is one hell of a tasteful dude.
And if ALBATROSS! still makes no sense to you, fill the gaps in your Monty Python comedy education immediately.


We knew it was bad for you, see!?!

A sample of the headlines:

Don't you just love the way the MSM so baldly states its beat-up of the day? Of course the study isn't the slam-dunk they present it as. Here are the key findings of the study, led by psychologist and epidemiologist David Fergusson at the Christchurch School of Medicine and Health Sciences, published this week in the Journal of Child Psychiatry and Psychology:
  • Researchers found 41 per cent of the more than 500 women in the study had become pregnant by age 25 with 90 pregnancies terminated.
  • At age 25, 42 per cent of those who had an abortion had experienced major depression at some stage during the previous four years - nearly double the rate of those who had never been pregnant.
  • The risk of anxiety disorders was also raised by a similar degree.
  • Women who also had at least one abortion were twice as likely to drink alcohol at dangerous levels and three times as likely to be dependent on illicit drugs.
The team seems to have been epidemiologically sound enough in their comparisons, and as a pro-choice atheist Fergusson is clearly disturbed by the political implications of the trends his team discovered. The team compared the abortion group to women of their cohort who had never been pregnant, and those who had continued their pregnancies. The trends do appear to hold, although I see no indication that there was any comparison with women who had continued with unplanned pregnancies, a distinction I would think crucial.

But do these trends necessarily show that it is the decision to have an abortion that causes mental illness and/or substance abuse in later life? After all, although the sample size of the study as a whole is reasonable (1265 New Zealanders, male and female, tracked from birth) the sample size of women who've had an abortion is only 90.

Now, already some sensible folks have written about the limitations of the study, mostly dealing with the screamingly obvious fallacy of correlation implying causation (which can be used to demonstrate that giving women the vote led to two world wars, just as you always suspected). A woman who knows she has a personal and/or familial history of mental depression may make an informed choice not to be a mentally ill parent, so she may have an abortion and later suffer an depressive episode. That does not mean that the abortion led to her depression.

To move away from data to anecdote:

As an example of depressive illness influencing parenting decisions, I had severe PND with both my kids. Having also coped with a long ongoing case of chronic depression in my early 20s, I decided that I wouldn't be having any more children, as having a mum with continuing episodes of depression I felt would be less than ideal for the two kids I had already, let alone any future sprogs. We went the route of a vasectomy for my husband, so abortion never entered the picture for me.

But if I had required an abortion (if, say, my husband's vasectomy hadn't worked), I don't see how a simple study like Fergusson et al could differentiate between someone prone to depression making a responsible decision about parenting capacity and later having a not unprecedented depressive episode, and someone with no known history of depressive tendencies having an abortion and later having a depressive episode.

Another key point about familial depression, until my own first episode, I didn't know my family had a history of depressive illnesses because nobody ever talked to us kids about it. Then I got to hear about Cousin X, and Great-Aunt Y, and Uncle Z and all their doolally forebears in the family tree.

So a young woman ignorant of her predisposition to familial mental illness may well be more vulnerable to exactly the impulsive behaviours that make unplanned pregnancies more likely, as well as being predisposed to depressive episodes later in life. Same-same for abuse of alcohol and illicit drugs.

Back to the data: The causative link explaining the trend found by Fergusson et al may well be more to do with the not unreasonable supposition that women prone to varying degrees of mental instability are more likely to have an unplanned pregancy, and therefore are more likely to have an abortion than their more neurotypical peers. This is however merely an hypothesis to be tested: the answer could be something else entirely. We simply don't have enough data examined thoroughly enough yet to know.

Fergusson et al is a valuable study that doesn't deserve to have its other findings buried in the avalanche of noise the abortion controversy is going to pile upon it. But it is not complete, and the epidemiologists don't claim that it is. They have found an intriguing trend that cries out for further investigation. Let's hope that they get the funding to continue their studies and further inform the debate on reproductive choice.

UPDATE: more on this at Pandagon and Capitalism Bad: Tree Pretty