[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The female condom was originally made using a polyurethane which made it a) very expensive and b) akin to the sensation of having sex with a crisp packet.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

Stuck in the Middle with Two ~ Tess Fox

They say it’s trendy to be bisexual… to live the foot-loose and panty-free life of a swingin’ sister. Blissed out on the opportune role of the ambidextrous, ambi-sextrous …player of all fields.

Well let me let you in on a little secret: being impartial is hardly ever a case of tasty extras on the side of some happy meal deal.

Sometimes it feels as though I’m in a one woman freak show; in a two fruit juggling act…the banana impossible to catch for any length of time and the papaya far too frequently bruised… and all the while not knowing which comes more instinctively and which to lend more time to.

And who are the audience to feel informed enough to tell me what to do?

This is the life I chose… it has nothing to do with what your mother and father taught you.

Straight loving, urban living, gay clubbing punters say… Ooh juggling must be fun…I wish I could enjoy more than… one. You must feel like a kid in a candy store, having the entire populous at your hands.

…like somehow my condition entails a whole new trendy super-sexual and fundamentally easy set of emotional demands.

Well let me tell you of the personal agenda swaying on its stilts for lack of solid soil to stand. Bisexuality is not a euphoric phase of nymph-like dwelling from Adam to Eve.

For many it’s a place of confusion where cunt and heart switch turns in a game of Ill at Ease… where pride becomes prejudice and prejudice, pride and while you never intended to fall into place you can’t help but find yourself forever… on the other side.

Image “No Confusion” taken from KlemenRobnik‘s Flickr account under Creative Commons License 

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

Welcome to Monday ~ 22nd August 2011

Welcome to Monday! Its been a busy week here at feminaust, with some very important debates about the basic tenet of feminism – respecting the unique experiences of all women and understanding them as valid. Sometimes its difficult and challenging, but darn its worth it. Have a quick read over the last few posts if you haven’t already, and I’d like to take this chance to thank becauseimawhore for writing her wonderful article for us.

But the time has come to share the love and take a look at some great writing from feminists around the world. So here’s what we’ve been reading this week. Unfortunately the list isn’t as extensive as normal due to my macbook dying in the arse at the age of 8 months. Regular service should be established next week (not for my mac, which will apparently take up to two months to fix). Sigh. Still enjoy the links, and remember none of these articles necessarily reflect the views of the feminausts!

Continue reading

Welcome to Monday ~ August 8th 2011

Welcome to the Monday round up, my fellow feminausts! I bring you a list of articles that caught our eye over the last week, from falsity in advertising to scientific proof that the clitoris is nice. Yes, its been a week of revelations here in the world of feminism.

As always, don’t shoot the messenger; we don’t necessarily agree or disagree with these articles, we’re just interested in the debate. If you violently agree or disagree, why not write a response and send it on in to us?

Continue reading

YWCA World Council ~ Waking up to your sexual and reproductive health and rights

(left to right): Billington; Betty Naomi Goldstein Friedan; Barbara Ireton; and Marguerite Rawalt

Today I had a sexual awakening. Don’t worry, the rest of this post won’t read like the lyrics to a Marvin Gaye song. I’m talking about waking up to the concept of SRHR – sexual and reproductive health and rights.

At the 2011 International Women’s Summit (IWS), much of the program is dedicated to the work being done by women around the world to combat HIV, and other issues related to SRHR. I was excited to hear the stories of these leaders (who are often women younger than I am), but I didn’t see SRHR as relevant to me. After all, way back when I had braces some awkward male teaching graduate in Reeboks showed me how to put a condom on a banana. Sexual education? Tick! But yesterday I attended the session on SRHR at the World YWCA’s Young Women’s Leadership Dialogue and the young woman facilitating the session started asking a lot of questions I couldn’t answer. Sure you know how to not catch an STI when you have sex, but what about your emotional health? You know you have the right to say no, but what about your right to privacy – who finds out about your sex life? We’ve all sat through lectures on the seemingly endless negative consequences of sexual activity (unwanted pregnancies, scarlet letters, hairy palms), but how old were you when someone first gave you a positive message about your sexuality? Has that ever happened?

Hmm. Perhaps more relevant than I had thought. Continue reading

Sexuality Gender and Rights Institute: Make No Assumptions

So for those of you who don’t know me personally, or haven’t heard my unending ranting about the incredible institute I’ve been attending in Istanbul guess what… I’ve just been attending an incredible institute in Istanbul!

The focus of the institute was to develop the skills and understanding of activists, project coordinators and advocates from around the world (with a focus on the global south) to deal with issues of human rights in sexuality and gender. The participants are wildly variant from sexuality educators from Kyrgystan, queer film festival innovators from China, journalists from Syria and women’s rights activists from South Africa. On the first day, we learnt our very first lesson, first thing in the morning.

Make no assumptions

Or, if you must make assumptions, make as few as possible

Or, at least know what assumptions you are making

This mantra would be seriously put to the test over the next 9 days with no topics closed to discussion (except maybe the development of a new framework other than the human rights one to talk about this issues through – I think that was just too much for the organisers to even contemplate!). Conversations ranged from, is adult-child sex always abuse? What is the standard of sexual legitimacy that we want to work with (currently the accepted standard is “consent” but within that word lie many sleeping assumptions and challenges). What is the sexual hierarchy in your part of the world and how can it be changed/challenged/rejected? Does gender really exist outside of the collective societal mind and if not how can we campaign for trans and intersex rights without relying on a gender identity framework? Woah was my brain spinning every night with the ideas and discussions flying around the meeting room at the Hotel Erboy in Istanbul! Continue reading

Relational Feminism and Non State Torture: An Australian-Canadian Connection

Linda and Jeanne protesting against Non State Torture in January 2010

Linda MacDonald and Jeanne Sarson

Phone calls, emails, web links, SKYPE and written letters from mainly women, describe this Canadian-Australian connection which relates to voicing similar ordeals of non-state torture (NST) victimization. Professionals from both countries also consult us. They seek support for their work with women’s suffering due to NST victimization, which predominately begins in childhood and often continues into the adult years. Because this category of torturers, if possible, generally persist to harass, intimidate and assault the women they victimized as children.

Non-state versus State torture. Globally, human rights language distinguishes torture as being either non-state or State actor inflicted. State-actor torture refers to torture committed by a State, for example, torture that is perpetrated by government officials such as police, military personnel, or prison guards. It is generally referred to as torture that happens in the public sphere, in places such as prisons, police lock-up cells, in an embassy, or on military bases or posting in or outside a country. Conversely, non-state actor torture refers to torture committed by a spouse, by parent(s) and intergenerational family members, guardians, and like-minded others such as pedophiles, human traffickers or gangs, that occurs, for instance, in the private sphere of home, cottage, private buildings, warehouses, or in out-of-door spaces on farms.[1] Continue reading

The Exchange Value of Sexual Encounters: Gina Robinson

I recently read something that raised my feminist ire:  it was a blog entry where a young guy explained why he would only marry a woman who had had fewer  sexual partners than he had, had. Aside from the difficulties of the presumption that marriage is just a function of growing up, like the body losing its ability to regenerate, far more concerning is the presumption that to be marriage material, a woman must not have  ‘too many’ sexual partners. The way that this guy (as a sidenote—continually typing ‘this guy’ palls, I shall  level with you: it was Vinny Guadagnino, given a public sphere profile by the Jersey Shore) justified what he acknowledged was a ‘double standard’ was by saying that the exchange value of sexual encounters was different for the sexes: females traded gold, and males traded silver, therefore males had to have more sex to get the same ‘value’. What I like about Vinny’s words is that he admits the double standard, and acknowledges that both sexes are capable of feeling desire and acting upon it. What raises my ire is that rather than deconstructing it, he seeks to justify it by the gold-silver analogy. Continue reading