Hannah Gadsby is f-ing funny

Hanna Gadsby is performing now at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival

I went with a few workmates, and my beloved, to see Hannah Gadsby’s stand up show ‘Hannah wants a wife’ as part of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. I had previously seen some of her stand up on ABC’s iview and had laughed myself to nausea – she does a great impression of her mum trying to stop a bleeding wound with Vicks Vapour Rub. She’s also a key part of Adam Hills’ Gordon st show (even though I think her talents are under utilised).

Gadsby, for those of you who don’t know her, is tall, Tasmanian, wears glasses, generally all her clothing is black or brown and includes a tie, dates women and nearly got run over by MsEloise last week. She employs a great turn of phrase, has a laconic accent she emphasises for rude words and excels in weaving layers into her comedic narrative… In a totally non-pretentious way.

So, with all of that in mind, I very excitedly turned up to her show this evening. I was not disappointed. Continue reading

Forever Not Yours ~ an open letter to the random sleaze

To the older man at the Abbotsford Convent who pinched my thigh,

I’ve been experiencing some form of sexual dynamics, power or outright abuse, since at least the age of 6. That’s when the most problematic, and lasting, memories begin anyway.

You spoke of your two young daughters

And I wonder…

When contemplating the world they’re growing up in,

do you ever stop to consider the role and responsibility you hold in how it takes shape?

Gender “norms” are perpetuated every day by men like you Continue reading

Babes on Bikes ~ my new experience of street harassment

Last week (or maybe the week before, it’s been a bit manic chez feminaust lately) Tara wrote about being told to smile on the street and contemplated the relationship with looking feminine and “pretty” and being expected to always appear happy and appealing to passers-by. It got me thinking about my own experiences of street-harassment. They’re fairly unusual but they certainly do happen. I’m hesitant to put their rarity down to my demeanour or dress choice as I know that street-harassment rarely has anything to do with what the individual actually looks like however, as I ramp up my bike time in preparation for a big bike tour I’m undertaking in May I’m starting to notice that the street-harassment aimed my way is also ramping up. Something about being a chick on a bike causes the male of the species to get very excited and assume our intention in such behaviour is to attract their attention and solicit all manner of observation muttered, hurled, crooned and chorused across the street/footpath/pedestrian crossing/from moving vehicle. Continue reading

[insert female condom here]

Contraception eh?! Fun stuff, for some people it’s an everyday part of their existence. A pill they take day in day out for a massive chunk of their lives. Others implant something in their arm or their uterus and don’t think about it again for several years. For some people it’s a conversation every time they get their kit off, an expectation or negotiation for the best possible outcome each time. And until recently it’s always been a male centred device.

The female condom was originally made using a polyurethane which made it a) very expensive and b) akin to the sensation of having sex with a crisp packet. The newer model, FC2, is made with much cheaper (and quieter) nitrile but has struggled to overcome the stigma connected with the first model. Continue reading

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

HIStory Sucks: Language, Sexism, and Betty White

So I was sitting at a bar with a friend the other evening when a language/sexism epiphany dawned on me. I hadn’t had one since attending a lecture on HIStory (“practically every ‘historical’ document ever is HIS story, OMG!”) Anyway, I was saying something ‘sucked’, and in my leisurely state, I rather uninspiringly recalled that ‘suck’ and ‘blow’ amount to pretty much the same meaning – you know, widespread terms to describe something negative, pathetic, lacking in amiability, respectability, etc. What I hadn’t yet pondered was the derivation of both terms from their origin: the performance of fellatio. So, by speaking these terms, I was inadvertently degrading those who perform the act of fellatio (namely women and homosexuals, how surprising!) by unconsciously linking the two definitions together. What’s worse is that after I realised, I struggled to come up with an apt alternative – the word ‘suck’ for negativity is so ingrained in my vocabulary.

This is what scares me about language: as EJ Cook wrote in her Settle Petal article Word of the week: Spanking, language is behaviour. It is also the most powerful form of thought control. My little epiphanies have taught me that language infiltrates: we are capable of perpetuating gender stereotypes (amongst other ones) quite unconsciously. Feminine or homosexual behaviours in males are ostracised from a very early age through words like “poof”, “homo”,  and “sissy”, or sentences like “be a man”, and “you’re crying like a girl”. Such ostracising is a continual social warning for males to act masculine, lest they forfeit their privileged social position and endure a second-class status like the rest of us. Similarly, for girls, gender-specific words like: “slut”, “mole”, and “whore” attempt to scare us back into sexually passive social roles. 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).

Continue reading

friday feminaust ~ Frances Meese

When given the honour to contribute to feminaust as a “Friday Feminaust”, I knew that I would find it pretty hard to condense and express every element of my feminism into a single post. Whilst I absolutely identify as a feminist, it is an identity that is fluid, changeable, and in the best of cases, dormant. Lately, I have noticed that my feminist big mouth is pretty quiet, which has made me question my commitment to the cause. However, it’s pretty hard to feel the rage when you are full-time employed, have all the trimmings such as access to personal and maternity leave, and have been able to maintain the hairy legs thanks to Canberra’s dismal attempts at summer.

Continue reading

Welcome to Monday ~ 12 December 2011

Roller Derby in Victoria

Happy Monday feminausts! We hope you’ve had a lovely weekend and a fabulous Meredith Music Festival (if you were so lucky to attend). I haven’t done one of these for quite a while so bear with me… and as usual, we do not necessarily endorse the content but want you to have a good think about it all the same!

‘She who must not be named’ Award… the winner is Vaginas!!!

This has got to be my favourite title for a feminist protest event… MUFF MARCH! On 10 Dec (Saturday morning) in London, a group of fabulous people marched against ‘designer vagina’ surgery. The protest is marching against the growing (and terrifyingly fast at that!) trend of women having cosmetic surgery on their lady bits due to dissatisfaction at what it all looks like – or doesn’t look like. For a fabulous documentary about this very issue please don’t hesitate to watch The Perfect Vagina. And if you’re still enthused, check out MONA (down in Hobart) for some more work on the diversity of everyone’s map of tassie.

Durex… giving women another reason to worry about their vaginas.

Birth control, it’s all about vaginas. So get angry ladies, these manufacturers are taking your V-Jay-Jay’s on a ride…

Powerful vaginas… in pretty clothing. Continue reading

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