Archive for the ‘Feminism in the news’ Category

74th Down Under Feminists’ Carnival

July 8, 2014

Down Under Feminists' Carnival logo

Welcome to the June 2014 Edition – the 74th – of the Down Under Feminists’ Carnival! A feast of fantastic feminist ‘frightbat’ awesomeness. Grab yourself a cuppa and get reading.

There’s such a breadth and depth of feminist writing and criticism out there. It has been an absolute pleasure collating this edition of the DUFC. Hope you enjoy reading these great pieces as much as I have.

GENERAL FEMINISM & SOCIAL JUSTICE

In NSW many women’s refuges are under threat due to changes in funding to homelessness services. It is an appalling state of affairs, to put it mildly. There’s lots of campaigning under way to save these important services. Read about them at Hoyden about Town, where tigtog writes: Signal Boosting: Mass Closure of Women’s Refuges in NSW.

* At Global Comment, Chally Kacelnik writes about this urgent and important issue: New South Wales Decimates Women’s Shelters.

* At xterrafirma Ann Deslandes writes about the problems of the policy context of the women’s refuges and homelessness shelters in the light of the recent funding changes in NSW: Did Elsie get it right the first time?

Also check out the SOS Women’s Services Facebook page for more info about how you can get involved.

* At Writehanded, Sarah Wilson shares a fantastic ‘Feminist Treehouse’ image created by one of her friends in response to an anti-feminist commenter: Welcome to the Feminist Treehouse.

* At The Travelling Unicorn, Ebs writes about the whiteness of Australian feminism in the light of the ‘Frightbat’ poll at the Daily Telegraph: #Australianfeminismisforwhitewomen.

INTERSECTIONS
At the Daily Life website, Celeste Liddle argues strongly for more support for young Indigneous women: We need to do more for our indigenous girls.

She writes:

Right now, there are only a handful of programs that focus on the unique circumstances of young Indigenous women. Initiatives like Girls at the Centre by The Smith Family and the Multi-mix mob (a playgroup catering for children and their mothers) are few and far between. And most seem to be offered through not-for-profit groups or foundations with limited governmental support. A programme like Clontarf, by using sport as a way to reach them, also gives our young men so many other options by teaching them to aim high and value education. Couldn’t our women also benefit from such a well-rounded approach?

The issues faced by Indigenous girls are diverse and their needs are wide-ranging. There is a demonstrated need for a range of programs geared around educational empowerment, health and well-being, parenting support and skills, sports and recreation and general leadership.

Her article refers to a recently released report from The Smith Family which can be found at the bottom of this page: “Improving educational outcomes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander girls”.

Somehow I don’t think Australia’s “Minister for Women” (I’ve put it in quotes because I don’t believe he can or should be in that position) has young indigenous women anywhere near the top of his priority list. Earlier this week our increasingly offensive and ignorant Prime Minister (is it even possible for him to get any worse!?!) declared to an economic conference: “I guess our country owes its existence to a form of foreign investment by the British government in the then unsettled or, um, scarcely settled, Great South Land”.

There are so many wrong things about this statement I don’t know where to begin. Argh, just…no.

RACE/RACISM

* Celeste Liddle writes at Rantings of an Aboriginal Feminist about racism in Australia and how tired she is of the whitemansplaining: I’m just so damn exhausted.

* Ebs at The Travelling Unicorn writes about Blackface fatigue, after trying to explain why blackface is racist to a bunch of young people from the Gold Coast.

LIFE/HEALTH

* At Writehanded, Sarah Wilson shares some tips about mindfulness, something I think we can all benefit from: Walking down the other street.

* At No Place for Sheep, Jennifer Wilson writes movingly about losing her husband, in: The House of Widows.

* Avril e Jean writes beautifully about the first experiences of menopause: The Hot Flush

FAMILY/WOMEN’S WORK

* Angela Priestley suggests that women delete the cost of childcare from their partner’s salary instead of their own: Should mum or dad pay for childcare?

MEDIA & POPULAR CULTURE

There’s lots of great writing about Orange is the New Black. It’s a brilliant show, currently in second season. I wish it had been around when I was writing my thesis on postfeminism and pop culture. I probably should blog about it, except that I’m too busy just enjoying it.

* Scarlett Harris discusses the second season of Orange is the New Black, a television series that features a large cast of diverse and interesting women: Physical & Mental Health in Orange is the New Black.

* Brocklesnitch writes this hilarious piece in response to a male journalist who totally misses the point about OITNB by arguing that it doesn’t have enough men in it. Yep, someone actually wrote that. Check out the smackdown here: Orange is the No Ah No.

If you’ve not seen OITNB yet, I suggest you get your hands on season one and start watching.

* Tasha Robinson writes scathingly about the problems with ‘strong female characters’ and the lack of them, in: We’re losing all our Strong Female Characters to Trinity Syndrome

She writes:

“Strong Female Character” is just as often used derisively as descriptively, because it’s such a simplistic, low bar to vault, and it’s more a marketing term than a meaningful goal. But just as it remains frustratingly uncommon for films to pass the simple, low-bar Bechdel Test, it’s still rare to see films in the mainstream action/horror/science-fiction/fantasy realm introduce women with any kind of meaningful strength, or women who go past a few simple stereotypes.

LGBTQIAU

* Continuing with the Orange is the New Black theme, at The King’s Tribune, Rebecca Shaw discusses OITNB and argues that bisexuality is routinely diminished and dismissed: Safe spaces in the LGBTQIA alphabet.

REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS

* Julie at The Hand Mirror’ writes about access to abortion in Aotearoa New Zealand: Not what abortion ‘on demand’ looks like, folks

THE BODY

* blue milk writes about the way we police teenage girls’ bodies in: My latest column is on dress codes and teenage school girls. Link to her Daily Life article here: Fighting against dress code sexism at school.

* Rosanna Stevens writes beautifully about the culture of shame surrounding menstruation: The right kind of blood

* Kath at Fat Heffalump writes wonderfully about: Unruly Bodies

An excerpt:

I learnt that instead of focusing on what my body is not, I need to focus on what it IS. And what it is, is wonderous. Flawed and weird yes, as are ALL bodies, but also amazing.

Why must women be small, tidy, contained, unobtrusive? Why must we spend our lives trying to disappear, be invisible, to not take up any space, to keep out of everyone’s way? Why can’t we inhabit our bodies as they are, find comfort and joy in them?

VIOLENCE

* At The Hand Mirror, Scuba Nurse writes: ‘Why I think you are creepy’. She quotes some twitter conversations about rape and ‘rapey behaviour’. [trigger warnings apply]

She writes:

And I suddenly thought… why the hell they are fighting SO HARD for their rights to someone else’s body.

* Jennifer Wilson at No Place for Sheep asks: Should Uthman Badar’s talk “Honour killings are morally justified” have been cancelled by the Festival of Dangerous Ideas?

* At A Bee of a Certain Age Deborah discusses some of the myths about domestic violence: “On the radio, talking about domestic violence” (There’s a link on the page to a recording of the radio show).

DISABILITY

* Over at Ramp Up, Stella Young talks about the lack of agency young women with disabilities have over their bodies: ‘Life skills’ program teaches wrong lesson

ARTS/CULTURE

* Jane Gilmour writes about the whole Frightbat fiasco in “Bat Country for Old Men“.

* Jenna Price, co-founder of the feminist action group Destroy the Joint also wrote about this issue: Be very worried, Tim Blair – we are all fright bats now.

* Over at Geek Feminism, there’s an interesting discussion about What would a feminist payment/funding site look like?.

* Anita Heiss writes about the end of Australia’s cultural cringe: Is the cultural cringe over? YES IT IS! |

And that just about wraps it up for June. Thanks to everyone who submitted links, it made hosting that much easier.

Edited to add: The next edition of DUFC will be hosted by Rebecca from bluebec.com. If you can’t access the submissions form, email: rebecca [dot] dominguez [at] gmail [dot] com to submit a post.

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Hot water and milk

January 23, 2013

image of a woman in the 'Rosie the Riveter'/We Can Do it pose while breastfeeding her baby

[image source: strawberry mohawk]

I was initially reluctant to weigh in on the debate about public breastfeeding that ignited last week around comments from television host David Koch. Mostly because I think he has had plenty of air-time and column inches to defend his offensive and old-fashioned comments about how women should and should not breastfeed their babies. ‘Why give him and his stupid remarks any more thought?’, I thought to myself.

But the more I think about his comments, the more they enrage me.

I’ve been breastfeeding my daughter, my first baby, for about seven months now. I am angered by David Koch’s comments about how women should be “classy”, “modest” and “discreet” if they’re going to breastfeed in public.

When I first saw the segment on his Sunrise program that sparked the public outrage, I was willing to give Koch the benefit of the doubt – particularly because in that segment where he interviews three women about a ‘topic of the day’ his role is to play devil’s advocate. I figured he was just being a troll for the hell of it. Roll your eyes. Move on.

But since the original comments went to air his opinions have angered me further and I feel the need to protest. In the aftermath of his offensive comments (and yes, they are offensive!) a “nurse-in” was organised to protest outside the television studio. About 100 mothers breastfed their babies and the organiser of the protest, Amy Ahearn, was invited into the studio to discuss the matter further. She did a great job staying cool, calm and collected in front of Koch who, in response to the protesting mothers didn’t back down from his argument that women who breastfeed in public need to be careful about how they do it.

He said:

“I totally agree with breastfeeding in public, but I think you’ve got to be a bit classy about it”

His comments that women need to be modest and classy make me angry because they reinforce the idea that women’s bodies are constantly being judged. Even when doing something as natural and vital as feeding our children, we have to look “classy”?? Are you serious!?

Breastfeeding is difficult. Especially in the beginning. Breastfeeding in public is also quite tricky a lot of the time. I don’t love doing it. But when I have to feed my baby, I have to feed my baby. Running off to try and find a parents room or trying to put a cover over the baby is not always possible, nor desirable (Hello, Sydney summers. Hello, baby who loves grabbing at all kinds of fabric.)

Every single breastfeeding mother that I know is actually quite “discreet” about it – as Koch so lovingly puts it. We don’t just have our boobs hanging out all over the shop. But that’s not the point! It’s hard enough breastfeeding in public as it is, but when a male media personality with a large platform for espousing outdated opinions tells us we better cover up with a “muslin” or to turn our chairs around, or that feeding an infant by the side of a public pool is unacceptable, then we are getting the message that breastfeeding is something to be ashamed of, something to be covered up.

If you’re not presenting yourself in a classy way, ladies, then watch out! Careful not to offend any middle-aged men by letting some breast tissue be exposed while you’re feeding your child her lunch.

Koch dug himself further into his hole by making ridiculous comments such as this gem:

“I don’t mind if women sunbake topless as long as they don’t do it between the flags in a high traffic area.”

ARGH!

The double standard here is mind-boggling. Sunbaking topless and breastfeeding are vastly different activities, even though both may involve some amount of breast flesh being visible to the world. But why even mention sunbaking topless? It’s completely irrelevant.

In an article for the Sydney Morning Herald, “Breastfeeding, Kochie and double standards”, Amber Robinson writes:

Telling women to feed their babies in a smelly nappy-change area or to inhibit feeding with a cloth cover (babies usually yank it off in 5 seconds anyway) is discrimination. Motherhood is isolating enough without being forced out of public spaces because of the way you feed your child.

Indeed.

Fortunately in Australia it is a woman’s legal right to feed her baby anywhere anytime. So basically, if a mother breastfeeding a child in public bothers you, LOOK THE OTHER WAY. It’s as simple as that.

There are some other issues troubling me about this whole debate, and thanks to a link shared by Blue Milk (who blogs a lot about breastfeeding and feminism), I think I now know why I have been so pissed off by the comments from David Koch.

Blue Milk links to this great piece: “Transgressive breastfeeding and the rules of the public sphere“, written by an Australian living in Hanoi. I think she has a really interesting take on why breastfeeding in public is so, apparently, controversial. And why men like Koch think they have the right to complain about mothers not being discreet enough.

She writes:

You see, according to Sharwood (and his ilk), mothering is an ‘intimate’ and ‘private’ activity that should not be taking place in the public sphere. If somehow it does stray into that public sphere then it really ought to be careful not to become “a public spectacle.” This means that if for some reason a mother of young children does have to leave the house (which, by implication, is a transgresssive act in itself), then she should take every measure to ensure that her ‘private, intimate’ work of mothering young children does not take up public space, because it does not belong.

I think she’s really onto something here!

She goes on to write about the way the language of modesty and discreteness is actually about women’s body language rather than covering up… I quote again:

I have been wondering for days now what “discreet” even means in the context of public breastfeeding. I now realise that what it means is that the woman in question must show through her body language that she knows that she is in breach of the rules of the public sphere. The specific position of her body, or her cover, is not really the issue. The issue is the body language of apology (I think the code word being used is modesty). She needs to show that she is sorry for taking up public space with her private activity. Then it would be OK. Then she could be excused.

Being proud or even nonplussed about breastfeeding our babies is an issue, not because we are being public exhibitionists, but because we are (even if we didn’t realise it) openly challenging the rules of the public sphere. We are being unapologetically, overtly female it what is still, essentially, a male space. That is what is so offensive – the brazen transgression of these long-standing, unwritten rules.

Fascinating! I think this is such a big part of why Koch’s comments irk me so much. As breastfeeding mothers we have to seem as though we are apologising for doing something “private” in the public domain.

Well if feeding my daughter in public is being brazenly transgressive, bring it on!

Do Bill and Greg have kids?

December 14, 2011

vintage political poster: Women's job is the home! Give her power over her job! Give her the vote!
[Image source: Sociological Images.]

Yesterday’s Sydney Morning Herald featured a story about the Federal cabinet reshuffle. While I certainly applaud the promotion of these talented female politicians, it is disappointing to see the newspapers focus on their roles as mothers.

The article in question is headlined, Gillard: ‘Nicola, Tanya and Julie understand the challenges Australian women face as they seek to build a career’

I quote:

Nicola Roxon, a mother of one, has become the nation’s first female Attorney-General. She has been replaced as Health Minster by Tanya Plibersek, a mother of three. The newest minister, Julie Collins, has three children. All the women are in their 40s.

It is only later in the article that the women’s achievements in previous portfolios are mentioned.

I like these letters from today’s paper in response to the article above.

Mira Crouch of Glebe writes:

It may be pleasing that our Labor Prime Minister will be so well advised on the bourgeois point of view of the woman building a career while having a family (“Gillard: Nicola, Tanya and Julie understand the challenges Australian woman face as they seek to build a career”, December 13).

However, Julia Gillard also needs to understand, and consider, that most Australian women (and men) work in jobs which do not provide opportunities for upward career paths. Nonetheless they, too, seek to build something – a decent life for themselves and their families (if any) in a community which respects and supports the run-of-the-mill person as much as an aspirational one. Lead the way, Prime Minister!

Another letter points out that these women can only manage to juggle the career-climb and motherhood because they earn a salary big enough to pay for childcare.

But my favourite letter is the following one, because it points out the double standards involved when we talk about female and male politicians…

Suzanne Marks of Dulwich Hill writes:

Thank you to the Herald for highlighting that the three women appointed to the cabinet are all mums and how many children they have. I’d also love to know if Bill Shorten and Greg Combet are dads and how many children they have. (I’m not interested in Mark Arbib). Or do we only learn this about men when they muck up their portfolios and leave politics to spend more time with their families?

Can you imagine a headline that read “Bill and Greg understand the challenges men face when building a career”? Firstly, if it was in the Australian press, they’d be referred to by their surnames Shorten and Combet, because they’re blokes. Secondly, no, we can’t imagine such a headline, because the struggle to combine paid work with being a parent is still thought of as something that only women face.

42nd Down Under Feminists’ Carnival

November 5, 2011

Welcome to the 42nd edition of the Down Under Feminists’ Carnival!

Down Under Feminists' Carnival logo

Compiling the edition has been an absolute pleasure. It is so inspiring to observe the strength, diversity and passion of feminist voices in Australia and New Zealand. I hope you’ll enjoy reading this collection as much as I have enjoyed putting it together.

So, push your weekend newspapers to one side and sink your teeth into a smorgasbord of deliciously insightful and thought-provoking pieces from October 2011.

October Highlights

Relatively new blogger Contradictory Multitudes has written a beautiful and insighful piece titled Feminism, colonisation and migration: a tale of caution. Here’s an excerpt:

“Let me be clear here: this is not a post about how feminism is bad. It’s not a post about how Indian women can’t be feminists. It’s not a post about how because the practice of feminism has been subject to the same flaws and power-imbalances as the practice of all political organising everywhere – it needs to be abandoned and/or reviled. For me, living in Australia, identifying as a feminist is a protective, productive and strategic decision. What I am highlighting here are the radically different meanings of identifying as a feminist in India and identifying as a feminist in Australia. What I am further trying to tease out are the consequences and effects of identifying as a feminist in Australia if you happen to be a non-indigenous woman of colour.”

 

In a piece titled Food, fear and power, New Zealand blogger Letters from Wetville talks about the famous food writer Elizabeth David and delves into some interesting discussion about Western society’s relationship with food:

“The ‘good’ person chooses his or her food carefully and modestly, just as they choose their mate carefully and just once. It is no accident that the narratives focusing on the control of food intake focus on women; in a patriarchal society the need to control the physical urges of women is paramount. A woman entirely at home in her own body is a dangerous thing to a power structure which requires endless expenditure on diet foods, gym subscriptions and fashionable clothing.”

 

Over at The Hand Mirror LudditeJourno sparks a fascinating discussion about pubic hair removal: So how does your lady garden grow?

“A couple of years ago in Wellington’s Comedy Fest, the only humour in common from all the wonderful female comics I went to see were “jokes” about their pubic hair being revolting. This is the bit that is anti-feminist as far as I’m concerned – cultural norms which tell us our ordinary bodies are disgusting and a return to a pre-adult look for our genitals is a must. But our bodies, including our pubic hair? Ours to do what we wish with, of course. Kinda a baseline for feminism.”

 

Class/Poverty

In a piece titled The Colour of Poverty, stargazer asks:

“We never get the image of wealthy people of colour giving aid to impoverished white folk. why is that?”

 

Family/Women’s Work

blue milk writes passionately about the need to continue fighting for the right to breastfeed without harrassment or judgement, in A word about breastfeeding nazis. She writes:

“Until mothers everywhere can incorporate breastfeeding seamlessly into their lives, until mothers can breastfeed and be whole members of our society, until mothers can breastfeed and talk to the leaders of their country at the same time.. we will not have gone far enough.”

 

In Part 4 of her series on how to plan a feminist wedding, Musings of an Inappropriate Woman argues that the “imaginative work”, and also the bulk of non-imaginative work, involved in putting together the Big Day, is disproportionately done by women: Weddings as Women’s Work.
 

Posted at feminethicist is a refreshingly honest piece about the difficulties of mothering: Motherhood: Expectations vs. Reality.

 

General Feminism & Social Justice

Julie from The Hand Mirror talks about the need for strong leadership in activist communities when dealing with issues of rape and sexual abuse within an activist circle: A ramble about unacceptable behaviour in activisty groups. (trigger warnings apply)
 

Mindy from Hoyden about Town has a go at columnists who ask ‘where are all the feminists?’ in Feminism – we’re doin it rong #1568454876.
 

Posted at Penguin Unearthed is the extraordinary life story of an exceptional woman who “took her own course through life, and enjoyed the adventure”: Travelling Feminist: Dona Catalina de Erauso who lived 1592-1650.
 

Maia at The Hand Mirror writes passionately and personally about women and the prison system in New Zealand: Repost: A Feminist Issue.

 

Intersections

Zero at the Bone talks about her experiences of racism within the online feminist community and raises some important points about intersectionality and identity and how they are visible (or not) online: Identity, visibility, and the Internet.

 

LGBTQIAU

At Gladly, the Cross-Eyed Bear, Chrys Stevenson contemplates: what if “same-sex marriage were reframed as a (circa 1960s) argument against inter-racial marriage” in order to highlight narrow-minded homophobia: Allan takes aim at same-sex marriage but he’s shooting blanks.

 

Life

bluebec talks about feeling like an imposter in study and work situations: Imposter syndrome. She writes:

“The annoying thing, for me anyway, is that this even happens. That many people (often women) have their abilities, knowledge and skills questioned to the point where they don’t feel confident about them, that they question their own worth, abilities, knowledge and skills. I want to live in a world where people’s worth is not questioned, that’d be nice.”

 

Posted at :- The Conversationalist -: are some useful thoughts and strategies for combating feelings of guilt: My Anti-Guilt Force Field.

 

Media & Popular Culture

At the news with nipples the media are called out on their sexist bullshit. In this case it’s a story about Qantas strikers and a Playboy model, and a story about Prime Minister Gillard kissing one of her colleagues: MSM finds the big stories just too damn hard.
 

Posted at bluebec is an analysis of a rather transgressive video clip by Australian band, Bluejuice: Growing older.
 

A Bee of a Certain Age highlights the lack of gender diversity in Radio NZ’s choice of panellists on its afternoon program: Diversities.

 

Race/Racism

At Hoyden about Town, tigtog discusses some of the racist and exclusionary practices of the SlutWalk movement: Slutwalk: why can’t it be better than this?
 

Over at Zero at the Bone Chally writes beautifully about being absorbed into whiteness: Translating ourselves back to ourselves.

 

Reproductive Rights

In a week of pro-choice posts over at The Hand Mirror there are some great articles, including this one which highlights some awful global statistics, attributed to the lack of safe and affordable access to abortion services: Guest post: Let’s have a look at those statistics.
 

Ideologically Impure rips to shreds an article about the contraceptive pill that appeared on stuff.co.nz: Stuff fail o? the day II: side effects say what?.

 

Science

As part of Ada Lovelace Day, Mary from Hoyden About Town profiled Mahananda Dasgupta, nuclear fusion researcher.
 

Mary also presented a fascinating round-up of other prominent women in science and technology: Ada Lovelace Day blasts from the past: the science and technology Hoydens.

 

The Body

The A Large Pink Woman takes aim at a male academic for his fat-hating comments about The Muppets’ Miss Piggy: Stop harshing my squee with your ignorant fathating, world.
 

Fat Heffalump begins her series of interviews with women she finds inspiring by talking to Inspirational Women: Bri King, Australian fat activist and Fat Lot of Good blogger.
 

Fat Heffalump also writes about claiming fat as a positive identity: Breaking Down Fat Stigma: Criticism of Fat as Identity

 

Violence

At Geek Feminism Blog Skud talks about the disturbing prevalence of online harrassment of women: On being harassed: a little GF history and some current events.
 

Over at the news with nipples there is a critique of the latest anti-rape advice being espoused by the head of NSW Police: If you’re drunk and get raped, you’ve got no one to blame but yourself, says NSW Police Commissioner. She writes:

“Yes, telling people – not just young women – to look out for your mates is a good thing, but most people already do that. It’s a bit frightening to think that NSW Police’s anti-rape strategy is “hey women, don’t get drunk and you won’t get raped, but if you do get drunk and raped then you should take responsibility for your actions”. Not only is that offensive victim-blaming, but it’s telling women that they will be safe from sexual assault if they don’t get drunk, and that is simply bullshit.”

 

Occupy

October has seen the Occupy ‘X’ movement gain momentum around the world, including cities in Australia and New Zealand, so I’ve taken the liberty of adding another category to this month’s carnival.

Rush of Sun shares some thought-provoking material about what Occupy Sydney is about and her experiences of the first week of the protest: Occupy Sydney Day 9 – notes. You might also like to check out her notes from other days. I liked reading about her visit to Penrith (an outer suburb of Sydney) and you can check out a video of a fantastic flash mob that took place in Pitt Street Mall last week: Occupy Sydney – Day 15 – Penrith, flash mob, conversations. Inspiring! She writes:

“Occupy is about giving public voice to the voiceless in our society. Most people understand 1%/99% is not broadly representative, but it can be used to rally. It can be used to start a discussion.

Occupy is not perfect, and does not claim to be.

Occupy is not the only method, and doesn’t claim to be.

Occupy inspires me.

Inequality exists in Australia. We must be able to publicly talk about it. Australia is part of a global financial and political system, we do not exist in a bubble.”

 

At Pondering Postfeminism I shared some of my thoughts during the first week of Occupy Sydney, drawing on some material by scholar Mackenzie Wark to help contextualise the Occupy phenomenon: Occupying Sydney: some initial ponderings.
 

stargazer discusses Occupy Wall Street from a New Zealand perspective, touching on the raced and classed aspects of the protest: More Occupation.

 

[Check out the Down Under Feminists’ Carnival website for information about the 43rd edition to be hosted at A Bee of a Certain Age. Submit your November blog posts at blogcarnival! Submissions to dfr141 [at] hotmail [dot] com for those who can’t access blogcarnival.]

100 Years of International Women’s Day

March 8, 2011


[A vintage postcard from 1916, image source]

A few IWD linky links:

* Carol Pateman’s essay reflects on the progress of the women’s movement and the difficulties still facing women: “Securing women’s citizenship: Indifference and other obstacles”.

* Fuck Politeness writes angrily about the lack of IWD coverage in the mainstream press: “Happy Fucking International Women’s Day”.

* This was posted last month at Blue Milk; a short video about a Sydney boy’s school tackling issues of gender inequality: “What if boys cared about gender inequality?”

* Sociological Images takes a look at a few vintage posters for women’s suffrage: “Facets of the Women’s Suffrage Movement”. Similarly, an earlier post examines vintage postcards (like the one above) in “How Suffragist Postcards Got Out the Vote”.

EDIT: I’ve found a few more links worth sharing.

* In The Age, Eva Cox writes: “Macho economics still rules the agenda”.

* At The Drum, Clementine Ford cheekily writes: “Simple steps to become a real femininist”.

* And perhaps my favourite for the day, by Annabel Crabb: “Behind every successful woman there’s a wife”. She writes:

The problem is that it’s still just as hard for men to get out of paid work as it has been – historically – for women to get into it.

After a long hard slog, paid parental leave for women is starting to become accepted.

Paid parental leave for men – hell, any sort of leave beyond the routine two weeks of patting and burping that most working new Dads in this country take – is still something of an exotic event.

Why are our discussions about women in the workplace always about the barriers that block women’s entry to it, and almost never about the barriers that block men’s exit from it, when practically speaking, the latter phenomenon is such a significant cause of the former?

Why are we always talking about women’s rights to work more, and hardly ever about men’s rights to enjoy the same workplace flexibility that we have amassed?

How can women ever have equality in the workplace, when there are still so many barriers standing between men and equal opportunity in the home?

Got any good links to help celebrate International Women’s Day? Send them my way! Comment below! Happy IWD everyone!

Linkages: virginity, victorians, targeting women & more

April 6, 2010

I’ve been rather busy with my new jobs (two tutoring positions in different departments) so I haven’t updated Pondering Postfeminism as regularly as I would like. Also, this weekend was the long Easter weekend, so I’ve been more interested in hot-cross buns and lazing about than writing. Yep, often food trumps feminism.

I’ll get around to writing a proper entry soon, but in the meantime, here are some links to some cool stuff. Get clicking!

* Emily Maguire has a terrific piece in The Monthly, where she discusses what viriginity means in our society, from “virgin porn” to abstinence pledges, to the views of one outspoken, outdated opposition leader. Rachel Hills has posted a short summary/response of Maguire’s article at her blog: “What is virginity anyway?”.

* In Sydney on the weekend of the 10th-11th of April, there’s the F Conference: a festival, a conference, a future. Two days of feminist discussion and debate. Looks fantastic!

* My mate Tim linked to this interesting article about a female doctor and scholar from Victorian times who conducted a survey into women’s sex lives in the 1890s! Read about her here: Dr Clelia Mosher. (Tim’s whole blog is links to cool stuff he’s found on the interwebs. Check it out!)

* In response to a wonderful seminar hosted by the University of Sydney called Why Feminism Matters, SMH columnist Paul Sheehan wrote a piece telling us how feminism is getting it wrong. (“Feminism’s failure to lend a hand“). I’m so sick of these types of articles. You know the ones. The ones that attempt to discredit feminism and blame feminists for the ills of society. Sheehan’s article is confused and all over the place. If he is really concerned with the oppression of women in Islamic countries, why doesn’t he research and dedicate a column to that, instead of attacking Western feminists for doing feminism incorrectly?

* A few feminist bloggers have responded to Sheehan’s article: the news with nipples writes “Paul Sheehan gets it wrong, again”; and Blogger on the Cast Iron Balcony wrote this piece, outlining the anti-feminist tropes that Sheehan uses.

* A recent study by Dr Melissa Gregg finds that the technology that enables workers to “work from home” can lead to stress and anxiety. I’m looking forward to reading her book when it comes out.

* And now something fun – a sketch from That Mitchell and Webb Look poking fun at the way advertising targets women:

* Oh! And while I’m at it, since I’m mentioning advertising and women and comedy sketches, I must link to the delightful and hilarious Sarah Haskins. Her “Targeting Women” series is simply fantastic. I urge you to watch them. Here’s one of my favourites: Target Women: Cars.

Sydney Ideas: Why Feminism Matters

March 22, 2010

Short notice, I know, but if you’re in Sydney tonight (Monday 22nd March), you might like to come along to this wonderful looking seminar at the Seymour Centre, called Why Feminism Matters.

Compared with 30 years ago women are now better represented in politics but there is still more to be done. Hillary Clinton and Julia Gillard are examples of women gaining important leadership positions, but not the top job. So how far have women come in terms of political leadership and shaping the public policy agenda? Do men and women do politics differently? Do women have different interests to men and how should these be incorporated into political decision-making? How might contemporary feminism contribute to improving women’s position in politics.

This forum will include leading international political scientists along with Australian academics and researchers in a robust discussion on the state of contemporary feminism. They will debate issues of women’s representation in politics in leading Western Liberal democracies including the US, UK and Australia.

Cost: $20 Adults/$15 Concession
Free for University of Sydney staff.

See the link at the top of this post for more information, including details about the wonderful people who are presenting – such as my colleague, a social policy researcher, Sue Goodwin and Rebecca Huntley, the author of The World According to Y. And some international speakers!

more Germaine links

March 8, 2010

Some more linky links. Lots of feminist bloggers and writers have also defended Greer in wake of Nowra’s irritating piece in The Monthly.

* Helen Razer sums up our anger perfectly, I think: Louis Nowra needs a good vajazzling.

* Maggie Alderson writes about how important The Female Eunuch by Germaine Greer was to her.

* Felix of the amazing adventures of felix and limpy writes: That time of the month?

* Caroline Overington in The Australian writes, Loved or hated, but still Germaine

* And Germaine Greer herself writes in The Age: Change is a feminist issue.

Every new generation of women struggles to define itself. Very few young women want to turn into their mother, and even fewer want to be their grandmother. There is no need for today’s women to march to a 40-year-old feminist drum.

Amid the seeming chaos of intergenerational conflict new lifestyles and family forms are coalescing. The feminist revolution has not failed. It has yet to begin. Its ground troops are fast developing the skills and muscle that will be necessary if we are to vanquish corporate power and rescue our small planet for humanity.

Thank you, Germaine! 🙂

Pondering Germaine Greer

March 7, 2010

This year marks 40 years since The Female Eunuch was published. Its author, Germaine Greer, is easily Australia’s most famous feminist. Whatever your opinion of Greer, there’s no denying the power of this book.

But I have a confession to make. I haven’t read The Female Eunuch. Not all the way through, anyway. I have a browning paperback copy that I picked up at a second-hand bookshop once. It sits on my bookshelf alongside my copies of The Second Sex and The Feminine Mystique in the “Classic Feminist Texts I Should Have Read By Now” section.

I hope I don’t have to surrender my PhD after making such an admission.

While I’ve not read these books cover-to-cover, I’ve dipped into them and I think I’m still alllowed to write about the importance of Greer’s work. Especially since men like Louis Nowra are allowed to write annoying pieces in The Monthly criticising Greer for not knowing what make women tick. Apparently Greer got it all wrong.

Nowra reckons Greer was wrong in the way she criticised the trappings of femininity and consumerism. Wow, she really didn’t know what she was talking about – Look! – “young women today love shopping more than ever”, he says. And they get Brazilian waxes and “Botox injections are virtually a woman’s rite of passage”. Yes, he actually wrote that! Gee, Germaine, you really messed up. How silly of you to claim that these things might be oppressive, when actually, it’s what women really want! Lucky we have Nowra to tell us how things are.

In the same piece he has the gall to say “she looks like a befuddled and exhausted old woman” who reminds him of his “demented grandmother”. There was no way I could take his article seriously after that.

Germaine Greer was a member of the Sydney Push, a group of left-leaning anarchists and libertarians that used to hang around in Sydney pubs and talk about intellectual stuff. Quite a few other prominent Australians were also associated with the Push. It sounds like a pretty fascinating period in our history.

The Female Eunuch was published in 1970 and it really did have a big impact. There are stories of wives leaving their husbands after reading it, and women hiding the book from their husbands. The things she argued were that radical. But mostly you hear stories about how women’s eyes were opened and how they became drawn to feminism, after reading Greer’s work.

A combination of erudition and swagger made The Female Eunuch stand out from other feminist texts. Littered with literary, sociological and anthropological references, its central themes are that women are taught rules which disempower them and that the nuclear family perpetuates female subjugation and is a pernicious environment for the raising of children.

source: “Germaine Greer: Mother of all feminists”, Scotland on Sunday

While I don’t agree with everything Greer has to say, there’s a power and a passion to her words that I admire. As Gabriella Coslovich writes in “Clarion call to a new generation”:

The work is a rousing, flamboyant and flawed polemic, which remains as seditious and confronting as ever. Greer wrote the book in the hope that “women will discover that they have a will”. She incited a generation of women to ponder the significance of their lives and some literally went wandering after reading it, leaving stifling marriages to forge a life beyond domestic servitude.

She encouraged women to think beyond their social conditioning. She challenged the concepts of marriage, the nuclear family and the obligation to breed. She pointed the finger at the prevailing culture of sexual harassment and wrote about the well-known television producer who “sneaked in a wet kiss and a clutch at my breasts as an exercise of his power”.

Greer also urged women to study, to become doctors, pilots and even fashion designers, holding up the likes of Mary Quant as proof that women could succeed in business and that being successful was not incompatible with “femininity”.


[image source: silversalty’s flickr.]

Greer has always been controversial. She’s loud, audacious and she has the abiilty to polarise people. Even people with little knowledge of feminism will have heard of Greer. She is often considered synonymous with feminism, even though, of course, she never claimed to represent feminism as a whole. The women’s movement is much too diverse and complex to have a “leader”. It’s just that she was one of the most outspoken and feisty. And she pissed people off. The world needs people like Greer. Without people like her saying unpopular and controversial things – challenging the establishment – nothing would ever change.

The media love Germaine. She is probably more well known than lots of other feminists who were doing important and good things in the women’s movement in the 70s and 80s – eg. women like Eva Cox and Anne Summers and others who were on the ground making practical changes at the policy level (remember the term ‘femocrats’?). There was lots of stuff happening for women then and the popularity of Greer’s book is just one example. Anne Summers has written about Germaine Greer and the influence of The Female Eunuch here: Liberty Belle. (Read this instead of Nowra’s piece, would be my recommendation!)

As Summers points out:

Whether you admire Greer or find her infuriating or, like many people including myself, you have both reactions, often simultaneously, there is no getting around the fact that she was and remains a brave and passionate advocate for liberty, especially for women.

She has always been a flamboyant figure, not afraid of upsetting or shocking people, willing to be assertive and argumentative and to stride in polemically where others are too timid to tread. At the same time, she has chalked up impressive scholarly achievements as both a teacher and a writer of books on literary subjects including female artists and Shakespeare’s wife.

But her greatest achievement is, of course, The Female Eunuch, published 40 years ago, still in print, translated into 12 languages and a book whose influence is impossible to exaggerate.

Sometimes a book changes everything, and this was such a book.

I suppose I better get around to reading it then! 🙂

Linkages: There’s something about Germaine

March 4, 2010

There’s something about Germaine Greer that stirs people’s emotions. People love her or hate her. Everyone has an opinion about her.

In the March issue of The Monthly, Louis Nowra has an essay about Greer and her influential book The Female Eunuch which was first published in 1970.

I have a subscription to The Monthly this year but this edition hasn’t arrived so I am yet to read Nowra’s piece. I think it’s going to make me cross. Judging from some responses in the feminist blogosphere, the article dismisses Greer’s work and even criticises her appearance! Why they got a man to write such a scathing and negative piece about Greer is beyond me. Sales presumably. Greer sells. And Greer-bashing sells more, I suppose.

* Kathy Marks in The Independent, criticises Nowra’s piece: ‘Germaine Greer? She has no idea what makes women tick,’ says Nowra

* Hoyden About Town: “Louis Nowra? He has no idea what makes sexists tick”

* Larvatus Prodeo has also weighed into the debate: “Germaine Greer trashed in The Monthly”, attracting lots of comments.

* Even Quadrant online has jumped to Greer’s defence: “Offending Nowra, defending Greer”

I’m now inspired to write this week’s ‘Feminist of the Week’ about our Germaine. Stay tuned.