Archive for January, 2011

Garnish suitably

January 16, 2011

Whenever I watch Mad Men I find myself feeling incredibly grateful that I was born when I was, and that second wave feminism came along in the 1960s and 70s to improve opportunities for women, and to improve gender relations more generally.

When I marvel at the period depicted in Mad Men, all retro and cool in its whisky-slugging, cigar-smoking, no-such-thing-as-sexual-harrassment-laws way, sometimes it’s easy to forget how recent that era was. I sometimes have to remind myself that this level of sexism (and racism and homophobia) is not something from back in the dark ages. Sure, it was last century, but it really wasn’t that long ago. My thought process often goes something like this: “Oh yeah, my mum lived through this. She was a teenager in the 60s. Wow, I’m so glad things have changed!”.

For me, one of the best things about Mad Men is that reminder. But I don’t mean to set up a distinction between the bad old days of the sixties and some sort of feminist utopia of the present. I’m certainly not suggesting that sexism, racism, homophobia are things of the past.

In fact, some of the most powerful moments in the series – the ones that turn up the dial on my melancholia or my rage – are the reminders that, actually, things have not changed as much as they could have. As much as they should have.

One theme that came through quite strongly in the interviews that I did with young women for my PhD, was the idea that women had more to fight for in previous generations; that the inequalities were much more stark, more obvious, more urgent. And I suppose this is what Mad Men helps to highlight for me. That is, the sheer awfulness of the misogyny depicted in the program gives me a hint of what it was like ‘back then’, and helps me understand what second-wave feminists were battling against.

But my interviews with young women also uncovered a sense among this generation that although lots of things have been achieved for women, there is still a long way to go. This sentiment was summed up really well by one of my participants, who I nicknamed Katrina. She said:

But I don’t know, it’s not really an equality that’s you know, “I’m not allowed to do this but he is”, kind of thing. I think it’s more an inequality in that women get raped more than men, and women are in domestic violence situations more than men. And women report sexual harassment more than men. So in that way we’re not equal because there’s still this divide in what’s acceptable to do to a woman and what is acceptable to do to a man. And so that’s unequal. But in terms of, kind of, yes we get paid equally. However women experience the glass ceiling. So yeah, it’s kind of an unequal equality, if that kind of makes sense.

Katrina, and a number of other participants, recognised that issues such as domestic violence, sexual harassment and barriers to women in the workplace are still important and worthy of our attention. In my thesis I used Katrina’s phrase “unequal equality” to unpack the complex relationship that young women have with feminism, and also to discuss the idea that equality discourses alone cannot adequately deal with the issues and pressures they are experiencing.

But having said all that, I was recently, hilariously, reminded of how attitudes to gender have changed in recent decades. At my mother’s house a little while ago, we were flicking through her copy of the The Commonsense Cookery Book, an Australian classic that was first published in 1914. My mum’s edition is from the 1960s and is filled with all manner of weird-sounding delights, such as Apple Snow – a recipe involving stewed apple, sugar, beaten egg-whites and red food colouring. Mmm, delicious!

Besides being grateful for advances in gastronomy, looking through that cookbook made me think about the generational aspects of gender relations. My mother and her sister were both given copies of The Commonsense Cookery Book when they started high school in the early 1960s. My grandmother told us that she too was handed a copy of the book when she began high school!! In the 1930s!

If my grade-seven classmates had been handed a recipe book on our first day at big school in the early 1990s, we would have laughed in the teachers’ faces. In the years between my mum’s first year at high school and my first year, something shifted. No longer was it a woman’s primary role to be a housekeeper, a wife and a mother.

The image at the top is a photograph of a page from the Commonsense Cookery Book with a recipe for “toasted sandwiches”. I had to take a photo because I found it so amusing. The text reads:

TOASTED SANDWICHES
Method
1. Make the sandwiches.
2. Toast on both sides and cut into small triangles
3. Serve on a hot plate and doily
4. Garnish suitably

I laughed for minutes when I first came across this recipe. I particularly love how there are no actual instructions or ingredients for the sandwich, but there is detailed information about doilies, garnishes, and the shape that the sandwiches should be cut into.Thank goodness we’ve moved on from teaching school girls how to make toasties!

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2010 in review: some blog stats

January 3, 2011

Happy New Year, my fellow ponderers!

WordPress just emailed to tell me that my blog is healthy. Phew, what a relief. It gets a rating of “Wow”. Thanks to everyone who read and commented on Pondering Postfeminism in 2010. I intend to keep this blog going in 2011, and vow to write more often. I also thought I’d throw it open to my readers a little bit. If you ever come across something that you think might suit this blog (articles, links, videos, etc) please drop me a line. I’m always on the lookout for inspiration.

I thought I may as well share some of the email that WordPress put together for me. It doesn’t mention some of the more hilarious search engine terms that directed people to my blog. So here are some of the more memorable and amusing:
– what would buffy do
– doctor handsome sex
– sex and the city naked guy (variations of this add up to probably the highest number of searches)
– couregous womeninsex fuc
– predicament bondage
– leather bra xena
– sparkly vampires fuck off spike
– witches noses stereotypes

The rest of this post was compiled by WordPress software.
______________

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 8,100 times in 2010. That’s about 19 full 747s.

In 2010, there were 34 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 35 posts.

The busiest day of the year was March 8th with 161 views. The most popular post that day was Pondering Germaine Greer.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were facebook.com, twitter.com, badhostess.com, digg.com, and frankiephd.wordpress.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for princess valhalla hawkwind, sexing the body gender politics and the construction of sexuality, princess valhalla hawkwind costume, what is post feminism, and and then buffy staked edward.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

Pondering Germaine Greer March 2010
6 comments

2

Super women and the changing face of feminism February 2010
1 comment

3

So, what is postfeminism anyway? January 2010
3 comments

4

Princess Valhalla: postfeminist superhero August 2010
3 comments

5

The Power of Female Sex February 2010
5 comments

Hottest women musicians of 2010

January 3, 2011

Don’t forget to vote in the Hottest 100 Women 2010 poll.

It was started last year by Naomi Eve in response to TripleJ’s Hottest 100 Of All-Time poll which had almost no female artists in the final results. No Blondie, no PJ Harvey, no Clouds, no Salt n Pepa, no Sarah Blasko, no Portishead, no Aretha Franklin, no Kate Bush, no Courtney Love, no Magic Dirt, no Veruca Salt, no Madonna, no Yeah Yeah Yeahs, no Bjork, no Emiliana Torrini, no Ani DiFranco, no Patti Smith, no Garbage, no Tori Amos, etc, etc. You get the point.

The top 110 from the female-friendly “Of All-Time” poll from last year can be found here. I’m awarding Naomi Eve a ‘feminist of the week’ award for establishing this poll. You can read more about the project at her blog, on Twitter and on Facebook.

And now voting is on again for songs released during 2010! Voting closes on Jan 7th. Vote now!!

The guidelines for what counts as a ‘woman’ song go like this:
Songs must be performed by:
– a female artist
– a band with a female lead singer, or
– a band with at least 2 female members (ie neither of whom are the lead singer).

You can also vote in the annual TripleJ Hottest 100.

Who will you be voting for?