Redefining Professionalism: bringing the post-patriarchy one step closer

Does this look professional to you? feminaust co-founder MsElouise at the official launch of

What do you imagine when you think of professionalism. What does it look and sound like to you? Dark suits and ties? Nice language? Good education? Handshakes and jugs of water? Good reporting and accountability? Until a few recent events culminated in a radical change in me, that’s pretty much what I had in mind. Professionalism was about having the answers, good research, well written reports and measures of accountability. It looked like a dark suit, maybe a few touches of colour. It sounded well educated, well thought out and respectful. I’m not so sure anymore though.

What if professionalism could be whatever we wanted it to be and more importantly, as women, what if we could redefine it entirely? In feminist studies we sometimes talk about the post-patriarchy, the promised land of gender equality and the redefinition of traditional patriarchal values. I think that post-professionalism is one step on the road to the post-patriarchy and I’m excited about exploring what that means, particularly for young women. Continue reading

Panther Responds ~ Real Men and Newspaper Fillers

Where have all the real men gone, laments Bryony Gordon?

Well, if you are looking for a knight in shining armour, a Heathcliff, a Mr Darcy or, lets cut to the chase, the freaking cavemen that Gordon appears to favour, then you might indeed be in trouble. Gordon bemoans the disappearance of such figures, which makes this Panther desire to whack her own head against the wall. Because when Gordon wails “where have all the real men gone”, she really means she’s a wee bit freaked out by the fading strength of gender stereotypes over both men and women. And however much she and her editors might pretend this is a puff piece, a wee little column designed to fill in gaps in the newspapers that they couldn’t sell to advertisers, Gordon’s column is harmful and dangerous and represents a worrying rise in attacks against men who dare to move beyond traditional masculine definitions of themselves.

Continue reading

The need to bleed?

Menstruation is kinda cool in my opinion. It signifies a woman’s body’s readiness to provide a safe and supportive environment for a foetus. Many women celebrate its arrival, suffer elatedly through its pains and torments and relish the flow. Its failure to arrive can be a source of delight or horror, it can indicate malnutrition or a body that is incapable of carrying a child at that time. Its colour, odour and texture can indicate issues of concern within the reproductive organs. Its sudden arrival can create panic and mortification or hilarity. It is used as an excuse for bad behaviour and for staying home with the cats and a dvd and many things besides. But today, in the 21st century, is it necessary? Continue reading

The 38th Down Under Feminists Carnival

In case you missed its launch on the 4th of July…. go here for the 38th Down Under Feminists Carnival!

The next edition of the Down Under Feminists Carnival is planned for 5 August, 2011 and will be hosted by Mim at Mim’s Muddle. Submissions to mimbles2 [at] gmail [dot] com. They’re having technical issues with the blogcarnival submissions form, so they’d rather you not submit there just now, but, if you do, they’ll pass them along to Mim.

Submissions must be of posts of feminist interest by writers from Australia and New Zealand that were published in July. Submissions are due on 2 August at the latest, but it’ll be easier on the charming hostess if you submit sooner rather than later. Don’t forget to spread the word among your networks! (From the Down Under Feminist’s Carnival website)

Super Ted made me a feminist

Super Ted!

It’s often hard for people to pinpoint exactly when they became or rather, realised, they were a feminist. Reading some of our friday feminaust pieces reflects that. Usually becoming a feminist is more like a journey of discovery, evolving out of certain events or experiences.

Personally, for me there are two clear events that define my ‘feminist journey of discovery’ (don’t worry, this piece won’t start talking about ‘yonis’, though I sense your trepidation). The second event was one of confirmation and horizon-expansion: my first Sheila Jeffrey’s lecture on feminism at the University of Melbourne. “Ahh, yes, Sheila” I hear you murmur. It’s hard to be a student of Melbourne Uni and not have something to say about Sheila. And mostly people say that she gave them their feminist ‘lightbulb’ moment – even if they don’t agree with everything she says.

However, this post is actually about my first memory of being unfairly limited by my gender. It was a definitive experience, and it started with SuperTed. Continue reading

friday feminaust ~ Chelsea Lewis

Chelsea Lewis is our friday feminaust

What is my feminism?

I’ve always been an activist from leading a protest to the Headmaster’s office in grade four, to Amnesty and Clean Up Australia Day, and ten years volunteering for a queer community radio program, to being an ardent letter to the editor writer and talkback radio caller and the family member who is guaranteed to generate powerful dinner table discussion.

Looking back, I realise I have also always been a feminist but my feminism truly arrived along with the birth of my daughter and I learned a vocabulary for it when I began working at a women’s organisation. Continue reading

friday feminaust ~ Ranty Pants

“Strengthen the female mind by enlarging it, and there will be an end to blind obedience”

Mary Wollstonecraft

When MsElouise asked me to write a short piece on “my feminism” within 72 hours, I figured it was a pretty easy assignment. Hey, I’ve owned a copy of The Female Eunuch since my mum gave it to me as a present for my 16th birthday, I own all of Ani Difranco’s albums, and I’ve been wearing Doc Martins for over a decade. Feminist credentials clearly established. How could it be difficult to put it into words, add in a joke or two, and brag about my generalised awesomeness?

Yeah. Not so much. Continue reading

friday feminaust ~ Helen Vickers

When did I start calling myself a feminist? I’m not too sure. As a teenager, I had some pretty strong feminist beliefs, which I would discuss whenever I was given a soapbox to stand on. When I was 17, I wrote an argumentative piece for English about how the debutant ball demeans girls and creates and reinforces the patriarchal view of what a woman should be. The piece was well received by my teacher and won an award in the school’s writing competition, but unfortunately my friends just thought I disliked the debutant ball because my boyfriend was shagging his dance partner behind my back so didn’t give my well thought out arguments much credit. I may not have been calling myself a feminist at the time, but this was the first time my opinions were discredited for being a ‘angry, man-hater.’ Continue reading

A revolutionary idea: we don’t need quotas, we need a cap.

Photo by Kevin Dooley

I’ve been thinking a lot about getting women on boards. I’ve been thinking about it for a while, especially since International Women’s Day when quotas on boards for women dominated the media.

My thoughts about getting women on boards float between the many elements that make up this debate. First of all, the disproportionate amount of time women spend out of the workforce to raise families that men aren’t expected (or even supported) to take on has an obvious impact on their perceived suitability for promotion to senior management or appointment to a board. Continue reading

friday feminaust ~ Tori Pearce

Many years ago when I told a relative I wanted to be a social worker her response was “Why would you want to do that? They’re all feminists!” Interesting, I thought. What would be so bad about that? I didn’t know much about feminism back then so it wasn’t surprising that I began to think that maybe she was right – maybe there actually WOULD be something quite bad about that. Images began to fill my mind of angry screaming women telling me I was letting down the feminist movement by cooking dinner for my boyfriend. Luckily I investigated this some more and after quashing the she-devil nightmares I realised that I was actually a feminist myself and had been for quite some time. To me this simply means that I’m a woman who believes that women are just as valuable and worthy of respect as men and should have access to equal opportunities and recognition in the kind of world that works just as well (or as badly) for women as it does for men.

So now that we’ve established that I actually AM a feminist, and a particularly un-scary one, what I really want to talk about is bikes. Why? Because when I go home at night I don’t spend endless hours on blogs and websites about women’s rights and feminism (apart from feminaust of course!) Instead, I trawl the internet looking for my dream bike and map out routes for weekend bike rides, comment on numerous bike forums (especially those that focus on women’s riding) and spread my bike love all over facebook. When I think about what bike riding means to me, I think about independence, strength, freedom and courage – all things that I think women possess (or should possess) and express in a multitude of ways. This is what Susan B Anthony, an American feminist civil rights leader in the 19th century, had to say about women’s cycling:

“Let me tell you what I think of bicycling. I think it has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world. It gives a woman a feeling of freedom and self-reliance. The moment she takes her seat she knows she can’t get into harm unless she gets off her bicycle, and away she goes, the picture of free, untrammeled womanhood”. Continue reading