Personhood = Patriarchy

2011 was a strange year for American uteruses. I’m hoping that 2012 proves more fruitful (in an entirely un-fertility pun sense) for the rights of women to make basic choices for their sexual and reproductive health and rights however in the mean time I want to have a little think about the concept of personhood (an attempted constitutional amendment which would legislate that human-ness starts at conception) and how it equates to not only bullocks-iness but also massive patriarchy-ness.

Why?

Because if a human begins at conception it means that the MAN is responsible for life, not the WOMAN. Conception is the moment at which the sperm enters the egg and voila! human-ness. At this point, all the woman has had to do is sprout a little egg out a folicle (oh and of course spread her legs, willingly or unwillingly). While I would never support any similar legislation that suggested life begins at implantation or at foetal heartbeat or any other meaningless moment in time that the woman’s body has more control over, I feel like the concept of personhood beginning at the moment of conception is particularly rancid precisely because it takes away all control from the woman. Continue reading

Welcome to Monday ~ 2 January 2012

The Spire on Fire - bring on 2012 (Photo: Michelle Griffin)

Oh. My. God. It’s 2012! Welcome to the new year feminausts, we hope you had a great NYE and are looking forward to a fulfilling year ahead.

She who must not be named Award

I love any post that makes it obvious that in most mainstream discussions about gender equality it is men who are absent from the discussion – and that is a major factor for why we aren’t going towards the Feminist Mecca very quickly. While men are absent in these conversations in many ways, the most damaging way is when they are not discussed as solutions/agents for change to solve the gender inbalance. It puts the emphasis on solving this gender equality thing on women. I.e., how do we fix gender equality in boardrooms? Quotas for women (not caps for men), or, make it easier for women to work longer hours through childcare, flexi time (not ask men to provide equal support in the domestic sphere), or my favourite – maternity leave (not paternity leave).

And the Award goes to News With Nipples who points out that “she who must not be named” is actually a “he”. (And no, she doesn’t just mean Voldermort, though he could start cleaning up after himself once in a while).

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Review: Cairo 678

When feminaust co-founder isBambi and I were in Zurich earlier this year for International Women’s Summit and YWCA World Council we met an amazing young woman Sandra from YWCA of Egypt who spoke at one of the plenery events about the greatest challenges she saw the women of Egypt were facing, even since the revolution. Primarily she was concerned with the astronomical levels of street harassment that women face in Egypt, harassment that goes largely unreported and unpunished due to shame, fear and lack of political, judicial and police interest. She showed us a short clip for the film Cairo 678 and we were all struck by the feeling of utter helplessness of the women coupled with the brazen nonchalance of the perpetrators.

Street harassment in Egypt isn’t like that which we face in Australia. Here at home, my experience of street harassment is open, it’s men calling from their cars, honking their horns, yelling obscenities and reacting aggressively, but generally remotely, when my response isn’t positive. In Egypt, the street harassment is far more widespread but far more covert. It’s physical, it’s hidden, it’s not spoken of and it literally has the power to immobilise the women who experience it on a daily basis. The word harassment in my mind doesn’t even cover it, I believe it’s assault, in Australian legal terms it would be assault, it’s unwanted touching, groping, fondling and the women who experience it have little option but to move away or put up with it. Neither the law, society nor even their own families are interested in protecting them. Continue reading

Feminists are Better in Bed ~ 19th October, 2011

Yes I said it and I stand by it. Ever since I read Full Frontal Feminism by the spectacular Jessica Valenti (of feministing awesomeness) I’ve loved the way that you can bring feminists concepts like enthusiastic consent, relationship equality and sexual and reproductive health and rights to make unforgetable bedroom antics. And the best bit? There’s definitely no exclusivity here, male, female, queer, straight, all ethnic groups, anyone can have better sex if they’re a feminist. Why? because the basic tenant of feminism, that women shouldn’t be treated like doormats, equals better negotiation, better collaboration and better conversation, all desired ingredients for good orgasms.  Continue reading

Welcome to Monday ~ 19th September 2011

No women, no peace

Ah a spring Monday in Melbourne. How many kinds of weather shall we get today? Seven? Ten? SOCK IT TO ME I can take it.

Here’s our Monday round up of interesting, perplexing, and annoying links from the previous week.  Art in India, the danger of women in leadership, and the utterly terrifying changes occurring in Mississippi; its all here! Enjoy reading, and remember these links do not necessary reflect our views, arguments strengthen us all etc etc.

Panther Award

So here’s something interesting; you can change your gender on your Aussie passport without having to undergo surgery, which seems to be a pretty important symbol of the increasing acceptance of what Rudd call’s “sex and gender diverse people”. Actually awesome. Go Australia!

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Welcome to Monday ~ September 12 2011

Welcome to Monday fellow feminausts!  Hope the weekend treated you as well as it did me, aside from the inevitable Melbourne-Spring-Drenching I experienced on Friday. And Saturday. And Sunday. But no matter! There was beer and St Kilda losing a final and mates and tasty, tasty pub parma. What else could one ask for? Well aside for Monday sodding off for a few more days. Still, lets get into it! Here’s what the gang here has been reading this week, and remember that the opinions contained here do not necessarily reflect our views.

Panther Award

Obviously, this article on mselouise’s dad, who was in the running to be the mentally sexy dad of the year but sadly didn’t quite make it. Top 5 will have to do.

And then this one from Scientific American on the origins of the idea of the “menstrual toxin”, thought to be found in the sweat of menstruating women. Yeah, you read that right.

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Representation: children in art.

Most Australians will probably remember the Bill Henson debarkle back in 2008 when a number of photographs of children were removed from an art gallery and labelled as “disgusting” and pornographic, despite having no intent to arouse and there existing no evidence of abuse of the children.

The debate that followed was heated, often ill informed and caused a great divide among the community. There were those who believed that whether abuse was present or not the images could arouse some viewers and should therefore be removed. There were those that said this was censorship gone mad, that children were a legitimate artistic subject and should be allowed to be so. Many people felt torn by a desire to protect children from abuse and an understanding that this was not such a case, that it really was art and that the pictures really were beautiful and not at all pornographic. The debate sort of reminds me of the sex worker debate that has been raging on feminaust over the last few weeks. The conflict between people who want to protect trafficked women and do so by vilifying the entire industry to “rescue” them and those who recognise that it is not the industry that is evil or immoral but individuals and groups within the industry, much like any other. The gut reaction to want to protect children from abuse is noble and justified however the censorship of legitimate art is not the solution. The Bill Henson case is not the first and will certainly not be the last. Continue reading

Panther Responds ~ Real Men and Newspaper Fillers

Where have all the real men gone, laments Bryony Gordon?

Well, if you are looking for a knight in shining armour, a Heathcliff, a Mr Darcy or, lets cut to the chase, the freaking cavemen that Gordon appears to favour, then you might indeed be in trouble. Gordon bemoans the disappearance of such figures, which makes this Panther desire to whack her own head against the wall. Because when Gordon wails “where have all the real men gone”, she really means she’s a wee bit freaked out by the fading strength of gender stereotypes over both men and women. And however much she and her editors might pretend this is a puff piece, a wee little column designed to fill in gaps in the newspapers that they couldn’t sell to advertisers, Gordon’s column is harmful and dangerous and represents a worrying rise in attacks against men who dare to move beyond traditional masculine definitions of themselves.

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Welcome to Monday ~ September 5 2011

Dear Monday, you suck. Please go away and send Saturday back in……now! Damn it, why are my time traveling powers failing me now when I need them most! Here’s some links to what the feminaust’s have been reading this week – hope you enjoy them! And remember, these links don’t necessarily reflect the views of the feminausts, in the name of objectivity I’ve included some really, really irritating links.

Article of the Week!

The good men project was on a roll this week – here’s a post by Jason Sperber about what it means to “be a man”. The radical basis of second wave feminism was the way in which the concept of what it meant to “be a woman” was investigated and analyzed (or at least, that’s what I think).  It’s great to see the same kind of analysis being applied to the masculine gender roles  in a serious way.

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Panther Responds ~ Fatness as a Feminist Issue

Why is the fat all that we are?

The funnest bit about writing the Monday Round up is that I get to rant about a lot of things. The annoying bit is that I can’t rant for very long. So welcome to the first of a (hopefully) regular event; Panther Responds, in which I write a response to something I linked on Monday.

This past Monday, I linked to a a particularly awesome post by Skeptifem on weight loss surgery (WLS) as a feminist issue, and it got me thinking about how we understand fat in our modern culture. I find this a complex issue, for several reasons. I am on the heavier side myself, so occasionally this stuff can feel a little too close to home for me; more than that, however, the aim of feminism should be to give women and men space to make decisions for themselves in all areas of their life, including appearance. To this end, I feel uncomfortable commenting on something that I traditionally understand as totally private – if it makes someone feel better, be healthier and look snazzy in a skirt, why not have surgeries do it? Or starve for a year? Or work out for 8 hours a day?

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