It’s Still Here

I was in semi-wakefulness for most of my childhood and some of my adolescence. Vaguely aware that something was bothering me but lacking the understanding of what it was or the words to express the bother. Certain terms and behaviors triggered strong dissonance, but as an adolescent I was unable to articulate why.

I’d hear the word ‘slut’ or ‘girls can’t *insert random activity/ability/skill/function*’ or see gender-unequal systems (for example the school I went to had a desultory attitude toward girls sport) and feel annoyed. This was exacerbated by my observation that no one else appeared disturbed by those words, behaviors.

I gradually woke up; a conscious process of self-education, navigating gender politics, socio-cultural mores and religion. Now, more awake than I have ever been, I sometimes fall into the classic echo-chamber trap. Just because me and mine are awake, doesn’t mean everyone is.

I am not talking about sleep, obviously. I am talking about wakening to the patriarchal hold that can go so deep you don’t feel or see the hold. The hold becomes the ‘normal’. When you can feel it and see it, only then can you see what ‘normal’ should look like. And a lot of people, regardless of gender, still don’t. Still don’t feel it, see it or seem to want to wake up to it.

I had a conversation with an early-30’s Pakistani male yesterday (let’s call him Man-Child, for convenience). I know him, he wasn’t just some random male I accosted and forced into conversation, I promise. In that conversation Man-Child began to describe why he feels so strongly about his current girlfriend. In his words “she’s a really GOOD girl, man. I mean, good. No messing around and shit. I mean she drinks, but that’s ok. See, man, other girls here; wow! I mean, one girl I was into tried taking  me into a bathroom to *insert vague allusion to some sexual act * at a party. I mean, a party where her brother was! That shit cray-cray, man! Girls doing that stuff? So I know; I’ve got to keep this girl, this Good Girl.”

Now.

Let’s just pause and deconstruct this little speech.

First, the galling use of the word ‘good’;  the binary into which women fall by dint of their sexuality and how they express it. ‘Good’ girls don’t a) have sexual intimacy outside the bounds of a defined relationship, b) don’t drink to excess, so they don’t risk becoming dis-inhibited and possibly expressing their sexuality outside prescribed bounds. ‘Cray-Cray shit’, on the other end of the ‘good-bad’ binary, are those who express their sexuality outside the confines of prescribed bounds (like a defined relationship). So, by associating sex and morality and by extension, sex and character,  people like Man-Child continue to control and manage women’s sexuality and reinforce the social stigma against women with a sex-drive.

Another thing from Man-Child’s monologue was the take-home message: this girls sexuality was so controlled and circumscribed that she had to hide in toilets and was unable to take a man to a safe and comfortable environment to have sex. Lo and behold! A self-fulfilling cycle of social control has now been created: take them home->get judged and probably risk approbation from parents/older male siblings->so hide that ‘cray cray’ and take them to toilets in clubs so no-one finds out-> overlook the propensity for men to judge and stigmatize women and then talk about that judgement with other men who will do the same thing->get stigmatized and hide that sexuality even further.

The most frustrating was that Man-Child has, himself, had one-night stands, come home from clubs drunk and high. He has done all that because his freedom to consume dis-inhibiting substances and express his sexuality remains ungoverned. And he did not once try and equalize the actions: not once reflect relative to his own behavior. It wasn’t even a consideration. He just judged relative to gender- specific social standards.

Men like Man-Child, like the men who use the word ‘bitch’ “for emphasis” – What exactly are you trying to emphasize? Men who don’t even consider judging a person: their judgement is conditionally gender-specific; different scales for women.

And when their misogyny is pointed out, these men state one of the top defenses of the un-awake:

  1. Claiming that you over-attribute to gender
  2. Claiming you have lost your sense of humor
  3. Claiming you are over-sensitive
  4. Claiming their intent (whatever it was) is what is relevant and a legitimate reason not to change, regardless of the impact their actions/words have had
  5. Claiming you always have your activist ‘hat’ on and instead should ‘just be you’

Nope.

No more.

My caring for your want to keep sleeping has come to an end. Whether you want to stay asleep for the safety of the known (the known status quo of gender roles and treatment), the comfort of the familiar (no need to be conscious or think, if I stick with what always has been) or because any change makes you feel dissonance (If I change, it means I’m either inconsistent or disloyal; either way, it’s uncomfortable), I care less than a little. Sensitivity to gently guide you to wakefulness is actually hurting me; I have to keep backtracking and Feminism 101-ing you. Nope; that’s what Google is for.

Wake up. Misogyny is still around and going nowhere till you feel it, see it and name it. And you need to be awake to do that.

So, to help you out and shake you into the first stages of wakefulness, a little deconstruction of your five favorite defenses:

  • Claiming that you over-attribute to gender: Over-attribution, if I think in mathematical terms, can logically only happen after absolute equality has been achieved. And no where in the world is near that. So, no. I can’t be over-attributing.
  • Claiming you have lost your sense of humor: Because I no longer find jokes aimed at me, jokes which function to keep me down, funny? That’s not a loss of humor, that’s a gain in intelligence. Try harder if you really want to make me laugh.
  • Claiming you are over-sensitive: You cannot call a people that have been categorically subjugated, treated as spoils of war, property and chattel for longer than not, over-sensitive. They are only sensitive, vigilant to the very near past and what it took to get from there to here and still be nowhere near the finish line.
  • Claiming their intent (whatever it was) is what is relevant and a legitimate reason not to change, regardless of the impact their actions/words have: Yes, I will judge your words by my perception. If your intent was good/harmless/positive and you care enough about my opinion to defend your intent, educate yourself before you open your mouth. I’m not saying you don’t have a right to express your opinion. But if that opinion is prejudiced, I will express mine.
  • Claiming you always have your activist ‘hat’ on and instead should ‘just be you’: A hat? Defending just over 50% of the human race against a lifetime of subjugation is not an accessory. It is me. And me doesn’t come off.

21st Century Motherhood Conference

motherhood

NEGOTIATING COMPETING DEMANDS:

8th International Biennial Conference

21ST CENTURY MOTHERHOOD

July 13th – 16th, 2016, Melbourne, Australia

RMIT University, City Campus

This conference will explore, examine, critique, theorise and respond to key issues

related to how mothers negotiate competing demands in the twenty first century. The

conference is grounded in feminist theory – particularly Adrienne Rich’s account of

Motherhood as Patriarchal Institution and Mothering as Practice – and will explore

the ways through which cultural understandings and social practices continue to

impact mothers’ lives. The competing demands that mothers negotiate include but are

not limited to paid work and professional pursuits, unpaid work (including care-
work), creative activities, sporting commitments, online endeavours, volunteerism,

religious involvement, and personal relationships. Specific attention will be paid to

the current trend of outsourcing mothering to paid-carers and/ or grandparents. How

women negotiate such competing demands alongside their mothering roles, and the

impacts of such negotiations on a mother’s sense of self will also be explored.

Submissions are welcome from, but not limited to, scholars, students, activists,

community workers, bloggers, mothers, and others who research, work or are

interested in this area of scholarly and social activism.

If you are interested in being considered as a presenter,

Please send a 200-word abstract and a 50-word bio by the 5th of February 2016

to amirci2016@gmail.com

AMIRCI 2016 CALL FOR PAPERS

Welcome to feminaust December 2015

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Well it has come and gone, another December, another festive season, another New Years Eve. I had a super quiet one. Just me, my mate John and seven dogs. It was great, although exhausting and a bit stinky.

Anyway, onto what we were loving in December:

Did you hear what the Federal Government did in that dead period between Chrissy and New Year? Yeh. They made us start paying for pap smears. Lets tell them our cervixs (cervi?) are not a revenue raising opportunity for them.

Autostraddle reviews 6 disability friendly sex toys. Continue reading

Welcome to feminaust November!

Well behaved women rarely make history

So I’m a slack arse and haven’t posted anything since…I don’t even want to comment.

But I’m making an early new years resolution to make more of an effort (and simultaneously preparing for the fact that as of next year I’ll be spending half my week at a beach house on my own with my puppy and therefore should have more time to do things like post to my poorly neglected website). BREATHE.

Anyway, this is what I noticed happening this past month.

Annie Leibovitz shot the 2016 Pirelli Calendar and it has hardly any visible boobs!

Target Australia has real human women in it’s summer catalogue!

The big wigs of world politics are meeting in Paris at the moment to debate the future of the planet. How does gender equality and women’s empowerment intersect with climate change?

The “Gender Fairy” a new chapter in gender inclusive education for kids.

Clementine Ford informed an employer that their employee used misogynist language towards her on Facebook and he lost his job. WIN

The Australian Senate is running an inquiry into the forced sterilisation of women with disabilities. 

This Is The Culture.

Faces PosterI was 14, I was trying to catch the train home – I’d been to friends place after school. I had to walk through a group of guys who were sitting in the way: sprawled across the stairs at the train station. I thought I heard them talking about me as I walked, saying “her?”, “yes”. A couple of them started to get up, and called out. I felt gripped with fear as I ran down the stairs. They chased me but were slightly behind me. The train pulled into the station at that moment and I jumped on it.The doors closed before anyone of them could get on. I have no idea what they were planning to do.

I was 16 I was catching the train home in my school uniform and a man sitting across from me leant forward so that the tip of his erect penis came out the bottom of his shorts.

I was walking down the street in my school uniform, when a car slowed down next to me, rolling along while the guy in the drivers seat asked me where I lived. I thought I was going to be abducted.

I was 18. Young. When I first started going out. I was kissing a guy at a club. I was walking out when my friend grabbed me and said “you’re not leaving with him, I know this guy. He wont care that you’re a virgin, he wont care if you sayno, he’ll have sex with you anyway.” The fact that this was a genuine concern… is an indication of the culture we live in. Continue reading

TINAtalks

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YWCA Victoria runs awesome community discussion panels and this time joining Clementine Ford for TINAtalks 2 will be Celeste Liddle (Indigenous activist, journalist, unionist), Dr Marguerite Evans-Galea (Neurogenetic disease specialist and co founder of Women in Science Australia) and Ellen Sandell MLA (State MP for Melbourne, Greens).

In Melbourne and want to know more? Check out their Facebook page and/or the event page! 

The feminist hypocrite: By Paula Hanasz

5722040111_bab38ea638_oLiving in Delhi has made me a feminist hypocrite (though maybe me becoming a femo-crite is somehow offset by my boyfriend simultaneously turning into a feminist).

How does a strong, independent, highly-educated, liberal-minded, well-travelled woman who identifies as a feminist suddenly and consciously impose patriarchal restrictions on herself?

Well, I sort of got railroaded into it. Pun intended.

You see, the first carriage of every Delhi metro train is reserved for ladies (at the front of the platform the hot pink signs adorned with sparkly stars and happy, cursive lettering could be mistaken for adverts for the latest Barbie. But no. They simply demarcate this gendered space). Continue reading

A feminist awakening in India: By Justin Fitzherbert-Smith

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When Paula and I decided to move to India, I thought it would be just another in the long list of places we’ve happily experienced together. We have both been to multiple developing countries – she has been to India before and also worked in Afghanistan – and I expected New Delhi would be much like what I’ve already seen of the third world; busy, noisy, dirty and dysfunctional. What I didn’t expect is that the experience would become an object lesson in a contagious social disease: misogyny.

Of course, I was aware of India’s struggles with sexual violence, and Paula had told me about the time she slapped a tout in a market for grabbing her bottom. I was ready for this and, as a qualified urban planner, I was intellectually prepared for the ways in which women might be excluded from the public realm. But I did not anticipate that it would make me see my own relationship in a completely new light. Continue reading

Fourth Birthday Celebration Film

Hi feminausts.

We’re planning another low key birthday party film screening and are looking for suggestions for films to screen! Please comment with your favourite feminist film.

And if you don’t live in Melbourne and keep wishing we would have our parties somewhere else, please get in touch. We would love to celebrate all that is feminaust where you live too!

MsElouise

Welcome to Monday ~ 4th May, 2015.

Counting dead Aussie women: 34 thus far this year.

9% to 12% of those have been Aboriginal women, which is way above their 3% representation in the general population.

Inspired by Gay’s musings on the topic, Ruby Hamad expands on Australia’s lack of racial diversity in commercials.

Leisure time is a feminist issue. I know it certainly is for me. I hate cooking so I make sure I’ve got enough food to last me lunches and dinners on the days I work ’cause the last thing I want to do is come home and prepare food. On the work front, I’m really busy with three jobs (day job, freelancing, Outback Championship Wrestling) and I was recently offered at (paid!) internship but I had to turn it down because I’m already burning the candle at both ends. And that’s the reason I won’t have kids: I don’t want to be an angry, resentful mother like my own mother sometimes was because I don’t have enough time for myself and no one appreciates me. So in a nutshell: I can relate.

Women’s website The Hoopla has folded, while News Ltd. and MamaMia release new ones.

Junkee came up with some headline ideas for them in case they ever run out.

Disability is a feminist issue we’re just not paying enough attention to.

A bitch is an opinionated woman who’s not especially beautiful while doing it.

How the way we speak about Hillary Clinton may influence her presidential bid.

The men’s rights movement doesn’t help men at all.

Calling out racism is great, but we need to be mindful that we aren’t perpetuating stereotypes and speaking for minorities when we stand up for them.

Why are Aussies so shit at dating?

Australia’s outrage over Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran’s executions illustrates this country’s hypocrisy.

A Gay Old Time.

Bad Feminist and An Untamed State author Roxane Gay was in Australia in March, and Readings has a conversation with their staff members who went to see (hear?) her speak at The Wheeler Centre with Maxine Beneba Clarke.

Here she is, along with Jane Caro, talking sense into the other panelists on ABC’s The Drum.

Speaking with Margaret Throsby on ABC radio.

Junkee compiled all of Gay’s tweets about her observations of Australia and they are pretty on-point.

With Clementine Ford, Celeste Liddle, Tara Moss, Anita Sarkeesian and Germaine Greer at the All About Women festival talking about what it means to be a feminist. Some meaty stuff that often doesn’t get talked about at these kinds of events.

Shameless Self-Promotion Corner.

There’s nothing revolutionary or fantastical about 50 Shades of Grey: men abuse women in unequal relationships all the time.

Does Shonda Rhimes have a mistress problem?

Gender inequality and valuing abusive men who happen to be good at their jobs means World Wrestling Entertainment will never #GiveDivasaChance, the fan-driven hashtag that’s been dominating social media urging the biggest wrestling company in the world to give their female talent more air and wrestling time.

Animal welfare goes hand in hand with feminism, so I wrote a guide to making your beauty cabinet cruelty free.

Why are we obligated to celebrate people who take the well-traveled path?

Further to that, why are those who don’t take that path assumed gay?

The bonding ritual that is menstruation.

Some thoughts on Bruce Jenner.