There has been much recent discussion about the “rise” of the empowered woman and its effect on young men, Kay Hymowitz’s appearance on the ABC’s Q&A last Monday night being a particularly good example. The common narrative goes something like this. Young women are growing up in a society with destabilised traditional gender roles and increased economic and sexual independence. They no longer “need” men and thus the “natural” equilibrium of centuries old gender hierarchy has disappeared leaving a gaping, murky hole. Men do not know what to make of these highly evolved modern women and feel unsure and suspicious about how to navigate their complex, contradictory desires and “mixed messages”. This results in them either “opting out” and remaining perpetual adolescents or becoming confused, lonely and sad because no matter how hard they try they just can’t get women to behave how they “should”. Continue reading
Trigger Warning: Sexual Violence.
Contains Spoilers: Do not read unless you’ve watched S4E3 of Game of Thrones.
BY BRONWYN STANGE
Since Episode 3 Season 4 of Game of Thrones aired the Internet has exploded in response to Jaime Lannister’s rape of his sister Cersei Lannister. Articles have been written questioning the necessity of the scene and even whether the series will survive it. The scene was undoubtedly disturbing as, aside from the obvious element of incest, the rape occurred next to their son King Joffrey’s corpse. Nonetheless, the series has contained other graphic and confronting scenes depicting sexual violence, from King Joffrey’s murder of a prostitute by bow and arrow to Khal Drogo’s violation of Khaleesi. The response to Cersei’s rape vastly outweighed the latter and I believe this is partly because it challenges society’s basic assumptions about sexual violence. While some outrage was directed towards the altering of the book plot, in which the couple had consensual sex, and the use of rape as a plot device, I believe there may be more to the story.
What substantially differed here was that Jaime is the “wrong” type of man to commit sexual violence, leaving viewers incredibly uncomfortable and distressed. While Jaime Lannister is a character with questionable morals, who has committed a vast array of terrible acts, events in season 3 appeared to hint at his redeeming qualities. In particular his decision to turn back and save Brienne of Tarth from sexual and physical violence seemed to suggest that he was perhaps a “good guy” after all. When Joffrey commits sexual violence we are able to stomach it by positioning him as evil, deranged and sadomasochistic (of which he is all). Similarly, Khal Drogo was presented as a “savage” who perhaps “didn’t know better” and had not yet been enlightened by more “civilized men”. Conversely, Jamie’s violation of Cersei left viewers with the uncomfortable thought that a “good” man who saved a woman from sexual violence could go on to commit it himself. What this broadly touches on is something society still finds difficult to acknowledge; everyday, “normal” men commit rape.
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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).
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.