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 ~ 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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Welcome to Monday ~ August 29 2011

Are we really still meant to be paying for Eve's mistake?

Another Monday, another set of interesting links for our brilliant readers! Some are irritating (ye olde “can you be a feminist and sexy” debate) some are mind bendingly ridiculous (did you know the Catholic church is more feminist than the rest of us?) and, thankfully, the usual selection of intelligent thought-provoking articles. Let’s get into it!

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Can I stand on your face? Is it ok for social advocates to shit on each other?

PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) rose to promenance in 1981 when they were successful in getting the first conviction of an animal tester on the basis of cruelty to animals. Since then they have been involved in cases and campaigns as diverse as convincing McDonalds to introduce animal treatment standards and new training regulations introduced in the US for entertainment animals. I’m not here to talk about the good of what PETA has done for animal welfare however, I’m here to discuss whether or not it’s ok for one social advocate to kick another social advocate in the face, to achieve their own goals. Whose face is PETA kicking right now? Well us, feminists.

For some time now PETA has been using nudity in its campaigning. Starting with the “I’d rather go naked than wear fur” project, it has increasingly used the sexualisation of its models, not just their nudity, to garner support, particularly with one of its most high profile supporters, Pamela Anderson. Anderson has been involved in a number of PETA campaigns, most notably the “all animals have the same parts” project which pictured Anderson in a bikini and a sexualised pose with her body segmented like an old fashioned butchers diagram. This was just the start however, earlier this week PETA announced its plan to launch a fully fledged porn site, with an animal rights flavour.

So, is it ok for one social activism campaign to shit all over another social activism campaign just to get hits? Should the animal rights activists be using the sexual objectification of women for their own benefit, effectively stamping all over feminist and women’s rights campaigners in the process? Continue reading

Welcome to Monday ~ 15 August 2011

What a week! This Welcome to Monday includes tampons, some potentially big changes in the comic book world, war heroines and of course the big one down under, Fred Nile being an idiot about the general awesomeness of Australian finance minister, Penny Wong.There’s so much news I’m minimised the commentary on them, which obviously took an unprecedented level of self-control. Enjoy the links, tell us what you think, and remember we aim to include an overview of feminist news this week; these articles do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the feminausts.

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Amy Van Den Berg ~ e-interview

Amy Van Den Berg

Name: Amy Van Den Berg

Date: 25/7/11

Title: Director, Melbourne Rainbow Grrls & Guys

Bio

How did you come across feminaust?

Feminaust contacted me via email asking if I would like to be interviewed. They had found one of my business cards at Hares and Hyenas, which is a gay book shop / café

What does feminism mean to you? Is it different from your mum’s?

For me feminism means a woman’s freedom to express herself without being bullied or stifled and her freedom to love what ever person she chooses as well as equal rights in the workplace.

To be honest, I don’t know what my mother’s view on feminism is, we have never talked about it. 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

Tutus, Turks and Tear gas: Istanbul Pride 2011

As some of you are well aware, I’ve recently been hanging out in Istanbul with about 30 amazing people from around the world talking about sex more or less 20 hours of the day (and dreaming about it for the other four). So it seemed somewhat serendipitous when we realised that we were in Istanbul for pride week and more importantly that the Istanbul Pride March was going to be on the afternoon of the last day of our institute. For some members of our group it would be their first march, coming from countries where homosexuality is illegal and can result in harsh punishment; from beatings, imprisonment and even execution (state sanctioned or other). So for these individuals, pride was more than just a party, it was a real opportunity to be proud, something like the true spirit of pride which can be somewhat lost in the big events with their choreography and flash. Not that I don’t love a bit of glitz and hairspray, but Istanbul pride was really about making the LGBTIQ population of Turkey’s presence known and appreciated.

Istanbul is the only pride march in a muslim majority country in the world and this, it’s 9th year, drew thousands of marchers from across the country and international visitors as well. It is a demonstration of solidarity, an opportunity to show the people of Istanbul that the LGBTIQ community exists and generally just a good excuse to party. There was no registration, no requirement to march as a part of a group, you just turned up, grabbed a rainbow flag or banner from one of the organisers and marched through Taksim, an area of Istanbul full of colourful nightlife, including many gay majority and gay friendly bars and cafes. Continue reading