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My sister feeds my cousin's baby a babycino. Getting in early. 
Hi there, and welcome to The Monthly Missive. If you're too busy to read these articles immediately, you can save them to read later using Pocket or Instapaper

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You can get in touch with me by replying to this email OR through any of the social networks listed at the bottom OR by straight-up emailing sophie@sophiebenjamin.com. 

Be kind to people who annoy you,
Sophie
"Was my deaf baby 'disabled'? If so, I felt an overwhelming urge to fix her" by Belinda Barnet, Guardian, 25/3/2016
Reading time: 5 minutes
Barnet grew up deaf in one ear, and when her daughter was discovered to be profoundly deaf, she decided to get her fitted with cochlear implants at 11 months of age. As a result of this early intervention, her daughter's speech has developed as "normal", but as Barnet writes, the deaf community has condemned parents who decide to fit their kids with cochlear implants before the children themselves are old enough to consent. 

"Having grown up being called retarded because I couldn’t hear large parts of what people said, my experience was that it is a disadvantage. And Laura’s hearing was worse than mine; she wouldn’t just get bullied on the bus, she would never even speak."

"Australia's Indigenous youth suicide crisis" by Karen Middleton, The Saturday Paper, 02/04/2016
Reading time: 7 minutes
If you've ever wondered why Indigenous youth are 8 times more likely to kill themselves than non-Indigenous youth, this article does a good job of explaining it. 

"The scenario goes like this. A young woman becomes pregnant. Because she is in a high-stress family and community environment, she has stress hormones in her blood. There may be violence in her family, or poverty, or both. Her community may lack employment opportunities, with a high reliance on welfare and a creeping sense of hopelessness. She may abuse alcohol or other substances to escape the stress. Any of these factors – let alone the combination of all – can have a devastating effect on the unborn child growing within her. The stress hormones and other substances in her blood can predispose her child to diseases or mental health problems with a lifelong impact."

"Last men standing: They had the remarkable luck to survive AIDS, and the brutal misfortune to live on" by Erin Allday, San Francisco Chronicle 16/03/2016
Reading time: 15 minutes
A beautifully done multimedia feature (and also a doco) about the men who survived San Francisco's AIDS epidemic of the 80s and 90s. Most of these guys, having seen hundreds of members of their community killed by the disease, spent all their money and abandoned their futures upon learning of their own diagnoses, and are now wracked by survivors guilt, health challenges, and in some cases -- poverty. As the article says: "In the throes of a plague, no one thought about those who would live."

"Peter had started a travel agency in the Castro with a friend, Jonathan Klein. For a few years, theirs was a joyful, flourishing business catering to the gay community. As the AIDS epidemic grew, they began charting final trips for young clients who needed oxygen or wheelchairs to travel. His doctor died of AIDS just months after Peter tested positive. Friends from high school and college died. In the Castro, where he lived and worked, men his age stooped over canes, withering away. Peter offered the spare bedroom in his apartment as a refuge for families and friends keeping vigil over loved ones. “I saw one of the great world epidemics unfold in front of my eyes,” Peter said. “I have to carry that with me the rest of my life.”

"Sophie Mirabella v Cathy McGowan: the battle for Indi" by Melissa Fyfe, Sydney Morning Herald 12/03/2016
Reading time: 12 minutes
I'm very much looking forward to how this election campaign goes in Indi, the rural seat in regional Victoria where, in 2013, Independent candidate Cathy McGowan beat out sitting Liberal Member Sophie Mirabella in a social media-driven grassroots campaign. Mirabella has decided she wants her old gig back ... but do her former constituents want her?

"Independent Cathy McGowan taking Sophie Mirabella's rural seat was the shock of the 2013 federal election. Now, the Liberal hardliner wants it back – but how to crash-tackle the queen of nice?

"Queerness and science: moving beyond the binary" by Sophia Frentz, Archer Magazine, 8/3/2016
Reading time: 5 minutes
A queer female scientist talks about the frustration she feels at studies like the search of a "gay gene", and research into sexuality which only surveys cisgender gay men. What about the lesbians? What about bisexuals? What about transgender people? What about asexual people? 

"Good science isn’t about what’s easy. Oversimplifying is lazy, and contributes to the erasure of already-marginalised groups. It means every new paper I hear about that’s doing research into sexuality only applies to cis, gay men – none of which are categories I fit into. It feeds into the narratives that you can only be straight or gay, that there are only men and women, and every other harmful binary that it is a constant battle to dismantle."

"How junk food can end obesity" by David H Freedman, The Atlantic July 2015
Reading time: 30 minutes
A great piece railing against the dogma of people who preach that processed foods are the cause of all our health problems, citing interesting studies of when fast food restaurants tried with mixed success to sell lower calorie, healthier options. 

"If the most-influential voices in our food culture today get their way, we will achieve a genuine food revolution. Too bad it would be one tailored to the dubious health fantasies of a small, elite minority. And too bad it would largely exclude the obese masses, who would continue to sicken and die early. Despite the best efforts of a small army of wholesome-food heroes, there is no reasonable scenario under which these foods could become cheap and plentiful enough to serve as the core diet for most of the obese population—even in the unlikely case that your typical junk-food eater would be willing and able to break lifelong habits to embrace kale and yellow beets. And many of the dishes glorified by the wholesome-food movement are, in any case, as caloric and obesogenic as anything served in a Burger King."
This month's obsession: RuPaul's Drag Race

To be fair, this obsession has been going for longer than a month, but has hit fever pitch with the new season premiering a few weeks ago. For those who haven't heard of it before, RuPaul's Drag Race is best described as Next Top Model, but with drag legend RuPaul instead of Tyra Banks and drag queens instead of models. During each episode, the queens have to complete a series of challenges, and the two worst queens have to "Lip Sync For Their Life" to avoid elimination. It is a lot of fun and personally has made me, a cis woman, take a more joyful approach towards my own hair and makeup. My friends and I are very much looking forward to the ridiculous spectacle of the RuPaul Battle Of The Seasons tour coming to Australia later this year. This profile of RuPaul makes for fascinating reading, I devoured Michelle Visage (a judge on the show and RuPaul's BFF's)'s audiobook, and liked this piece on why, after 8 seasons, the show might be jumping the shark.  If you want to check it out for yourself, seasons 5 and 6 are available to stream on Stan (seasons 4, 5 and 6 are the best, in my opinion). 

"You get to a point where if you're smart and you're sensitive, you see how this all works on this planet. It's like when Dorothy looks behind the curtain. Like, "Wait a minute. You're the wizard?" And you figure out the hoax. That this is all an illusion. There's only a few areas you can go. First, you get angry that you've been hoaxed and you get bitter. But then, take more steps beyond the bitterness and you realize, "Oh, I get it. Let's have fun with it. It's all a joke. You mean I don't have to stick with one look or one whatever? I can shape-shift? Great." That's when you can save lives because otherwise the mediocrity and the hypocrisy is so mundane, it's better to just not do it."
This compilation of the best lip sync battles from all the past seasons of RuPaul's Drag Race is must-watch viewing if you want something brightly coloured and entertaining to distract you from the woes of the world. 
More links:
And thank you!

In April 2014, I thought it'd be a cool idea to send out a monthly email full of links to cool and interesting things I'd found on the internet and elsewhere. This missive, the 25th, marks two years of doing it, and I'm really grateful to the hundreds of people who've signed up to receive it. Now, asking for presents is gauche and you are under no obligation to do anything I say, but: if you've enjoyed reading the Missives over the past couple of years and would like to show your appreciation, I'd love it if you bought me a digital download of an album/EP/single from my Bandcamp* wishlist. To do that, head on over to my wishlist, hover your mouse over the release you want to send my way, then click "send as gift". There are digital downloads there selling from $2 to $15 (including a pay what you feel option), so there's something for every budget. I'm particularly keen for Grenadiers' "Summer" (rock 'n' roll), Old Love's "Perversion" (hipster black metal), and GoGoPenguin's "v2.0" (imagine house music played by a jazz trio).  
 
 

This polite request for you guys to fund my music purchasing addiction is inspired by Metal Bandcamp Gift Club, which was started by one of the Missive's biggest supporters, Seth Werkheiser, and a couple of his mates. His metal trivia email Skull Toaster was one of the inspirations to start this thing in the first place. 

*Bandcamp is the #1 place for independent musicians and labels to sell high quality digital downloads, and is the best way to financially support these musicians and labels (they get 76% of the sale, which is paid to them immediately, as opposed to buying on iTunes, where the artist gets 66% of the sale, which is paid out every quarter). As a musician and a music lover, I reckon it's the best thing to happen to the music industry since the internet became a thing. 
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