Archive for the ‘Public event’ 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.

Occupying Sydney: some initial ponderings

October 19, 2011

On Saturday afternoon (15th October 2011) after a receiving an encouraging text from a good mate of mine, I decided to head into the Sydney CBD to check out Occupy Sydney.

I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t have a clear goal in mind about why I wanted to go. I just wanted to learn more about what is an increasingly global Occupy phenomenon. And to experience it myself rather than read about it on the Tweets or watch it on the television news.

small children frolicking in a fountain at Martin Place, Sydney
image source: redserenade

What I found when I got to Martin Place – a terraced space in the centre of the business district of Sydney – was a congregation of all sorts of people. It was peaceful, joyful and party-like. There were lots and lots of banners. Lots of photographers (myself included because the sunlight at that time was amazing!). People from a range of political persuasions: socialists, unionists, religious groups, people wearing eureka stockade flags, hippy yoga types doing some chanting, families with their children. And so on.

I wanted to check it out because I had questions about how Occupy Sydney might be copycatting Occupy Wall Street, when the Australian and US national contexts are vastly different. Indeed, that seems to be where a lot of the anti-occupy-sydney criticism lies… eg. Australia is not doing it as tough as the US, so what is there to complaint about, really?

I agree that the national differences are vast, but I don’t think it is as simple as that. And it’s not as if Occupy Wall Street started all by itself. Unrest and revolution has been going on all over the world in recent times. I’m thinking here, largely, of the Middle East. But also the London Riots and rallies, riots and political protests in various parts of Europe.

These things don’t happen in a vacuum. And the Occupy X tactic/movement/whatever we want to call it, is now happening in over 1500 cities worldwide.

Despite vastly different national and regional contexts, there is clearly a sense of revolution in the air.

Another question I had (and I think this is a common question), is What are the demands of Occupy Sydney? What is the ultimate goal of occupying public space in your city?

This is a difficult question, and one I am still thinking through, but my gut feeling at the moment is that it’s not about “demands” as such. It’s not as straightforward as “we’re going to sit in this public square until the people in power meet our list of things”.

A peaceful crowd of people gathered at Martin Place in Sydney. Tall buildings to the left and right. A low setting sun illuminates the space.

I had the good fortune of being able to see scholar McKenzie Wark speak last night. He spoke about the historic precedents of Occupations and answered some questions about how Occupy Wall Street compares with Occupy Sydney. He’s an Australian-born guy who now lives in New York, and has been to both sites.

Wark said lots of inspiring and fascinating things, but one thing that really stood out for me was when he made a distinction between a “social movement” and an “occupation of public space”. [I’m paraphrasing here, from my hastily scribbled notes]. His take on it is that a social movement – like a protest march – tends to have clear demands. Whereas these “occupation” strategies are all about particular places.

“What are the demands?”, ask the media. “There aren’t any!”

While I think there are actually some demands, every interest group has their own specific set of goals about what they want to see change so there is no clear consensus. My initial understandings of Occupy X, and my brief experiences hanging out in Martin Place on a beautiful sunny afternoon gives me a sense that “Occupy” is less about a list of demands, and more about re-thinking how we might use public spaces, how we can come together to make the world a better and more equitable place.

There is a deep sense of anger and frustration at the ways in which the global financial system is not benefiting the majority of people. There are no easy ways to change the system, but with peaceful Occupations like these gaining momentum, some of the difficult questions are at least being asked. The overall feeling on Saturday (at least for the few hours I was there) was one of joy: friends, laughter, political conversations, spontaneous musical performances, children frolicking in fountains.

The parallels between the various Occupy sites seems to be as much about asking “what do us public do with this public space now that we have claimed it?” as they are about challenging financial institutions and global inequalities.

As McKenzie Wark said asked last night [paraphrasing again]: “What do you do when you’ve taken a space? There’s no-one to confront, nowhere to shop… what do you do?!”

You talk. You play. You laugh.

You get together to discuss how things could be done differently.

A handwritten sign, posted on a tree reads: "Entertain yourself. Boredom is not a reason to fail democracy."

You can read more about Wark’s work and his reactions to Occupy Wall Street here: Zuccotti Park, A Psychogeography. I particularly like his closing paragraphs, which I will quote as a conclusion to this post:

When there’s nobody really watching, when there’s nothing to confront, when there’s nothing to debate—this is what’s left: How is it possible to create forms of life for ourselves, even if it’s in the shadow of tall buildings that cast long shadows?

I left the Park and headed back to the subway. I had to get up the next morning to get the kids off the school. People were drifting away, although it was clear that a fairly large group would stay on for most of the night. And others would be back in the morning.

Not many people can inhabit this place outside of work time, but a lot of people come to visit, and to glimpse something of another way in which the city might function. Other lives are possible; sometimes they even actually exist.

No matter what happens here next day or next week, I just wanted to record the fact that this actually happened.

(note: photographs in this entry were taken by me. If you’d like to use them, go ahead, but I’d love it if you attribute them to “redserenade” at flickr.)

Pondering Princess Fever

April 29, 2011

A photo of Kate and Prince William smiling at one another. Kate, on the left, is holding up a white floral bouquet thing. The image has been captioned at the top with "Shouldn't you be holding this rubbish?" and at the bottom with "I've got a coat to wear."
[Image source: katemiddletonforthewin.tumblr.com]

Bloody hell I’m sick of hearing about this Royal Wedding.

Who the hell cares that a couple of rich farts from an outdated institution are tying the knot? To date, my favourite headline about the whole silly business is this one: “Unemployed English Girl to Wed Soldier from Welfare Family”.

I honestly don’t know what I find more sickening. Is it the over-the-top non-stop media coverage of the lead up to the Big Event? The atrocious wedding memorablia? Is it the absurd attention to every little detail about what soon-to-be-Princess is wearing? Her weight? How she’s going to wear her hair? Whether or not she’s going to don a tiara?

Or could it be the nauseating sentimentality, and the Princess-fever that seems to have swept everyone up. Do women really dream of nothing except the charming and remote possibility of becoming a princess one day? I think not.

I also don’t understand how the fairytale can remain such a buoyant fantasy when we saw, in the case of Diana, that becoming a princess does not guarantee the happy ending.

And don’t get me started on the problematic representations of Beauty, Bride, Feminine, White Heteronormativity, etc, that perpetuate limited roles and ideals for women.

Look, I’m not anti-wedding altogether. I love a good wedding as much as the next person. I’ve been to many a gorgeous event to witness various friends celebrate their love in a formal ceremony. It can be a beautiful thing. Good food, smart outfits, a perfect excuse for a party, and a chance to celebrate life and love with people you care about.

But surely the joy of a wedding, and the celebration of a partnership, only has real meaning if you actually know the two people involved?

I also have a bunch of reservations about the institution of marriage itself, particularly the fact that not everyone in Australia is allowed to marry their chosen loved one.

I’m also kinda disappointed that the Chaser’s pisstake coverage of the event has been canned. That would have at least provided a bit of relief from the earnest coverage the wedding has been receiving since they announced the engagement.

Heh, and I just found another cool headline. Whoah! No way! – ‘Couple Who Met at University to Marry’:

Two people who went to university together are to get married, it has emerged.

William Windsor (or possibly Wales or possibly Saxe-Coburg-Gotha) and Kate Middleton, both 28, met at St Andrews University eight years ago.

Mr Windsor is a Flight Lieutenant in the RAF – and also a prince.

Wall-to-wall, dewy-eyed hysterical coverage can be found in every other media outlet.

Indeed. Make it stop!

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!

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!