Feminists are Better in Bed ~ 19th October, 2011

Yes I said it and I stand by it. Ever since I read Full Frontal Feminism by the spectacular Jessica Valenti (of feministing awesomeness) I’ve loved the way that you can bring feminists concepts like enthusiastic consent, relationship equality and sexual and reproductive health and rights to make unforgetable bedroom antics. And the best bit? There’s definitely no exclusivity here, male, female, queer, straight, all ethnic groups, anyone can have better sex if they’re a feminist. Why? because the basic tenant of feminism, that women shouldn’t be treated like doormats, equals better negotiation, better collaboration and better conversation, all desired ingredients for good orgasms.  Continue reading

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

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

Welcome to Monday ~ 13th of June

Welcome back to another Monday public holiday! We hope you’re all enjoying your day off and that the weather stays glorious.

The feminausts were crazy busy again this week preparing for our official launch. We’ve managed to line up Raven to perform burlesque for us, for a taste check him out here: http://tiny.cc/nrmh9. We’re looking forward to seeing you all on Wednesday at Loop in Melbourne! Be sure to RSVP to info@feminaust.org to get your name on the bar tab.

Below is a little of what we had time to read this week. Please a) don’t shoot the messenger and b) feel free to add what you were reading to the comments section. See you on the other side. xxx feminaust

Why men are superior writers

Had to take this opportunity to throw in another photo from the roller derby

Vengeful woman syndrome. To be included in the DSM5?

Aboriginal Women vs Feminism

Gaddafi orders troops to rape.

Hexpletive was at Feminist Futures TOO! Check out what she has to say.

Yes our kids are growing up too soon, but blame capitalism, not sex.

Would women in power behave in the same way as men? A great little discussion which generally avoids too many gender sterotypes and talks about science and research instead.

The continuing story of the Texas cheerleader forced to cheer for her rapist.

If Lady Gaga says it, it must be true! Full equality for same-sex couples!

Gay Girl in Damascus is a man called Tom

Feminists for Choice tell us about wedding planning

Nearly 10,000 people have signed up to stop child marriage. Have you?

Indigenous Feminism and Cultural Appropriation in the US, if anyone knows of anything similar to this in Australia please drop us a line at info@feminaust.org.

Physically Active Feminausts ~ At the Roller Derby!

On Saturday night, the feminausts went to the Roller Derby! Never having been before, we were a bit unsure of what to expect. BUT, kitted out with our “media passes” and shamncy looking audio recorder we set forth, ready to be professional, intelligent and most of all, feminaust.

Our fixer/handler/contact Mon-U-Mental, met us by the track, showed us where we could stake our our spot, on the suicide line, and introduced us to our first interviewee (well, kinda introduced us as I already knew her). PollyTickle (skater name), is a PhD student, studying Roller Derby. We also met Bianca and Crunch Lady Doris.

Roller Derby emerged in the early 20th century from endurance roller skating races but it quickly evolved into a team based, point scoring game. In the 50s, 60s and 70s the sport was mostly a sort of sports entertainment with choreography and a high level of theatricality, however in the modern incarnation the sport is paramount with the costumes and skater names but none of the staged action. These days the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association are commonly considered to be at the top of the game with 117 full member leagues and nearly 60 apprentice leagues, including the Victorian Roller Derby League which is made up of the three local teams, the Toxic Avengers, the Dead Ringer Rosies and the Dolls Au-Go-Go. The feminausts were mostly drawn to the idea of interviewing skaters because of the obvious athleticism, it’s predominant female focus and the punk and third wave feminist aesthetic. Meeting the skaters gave us a really diverse view of why women are drawn to the sport and what keeps them coming back. Continue reading

Welcome to Monday! ~ 16th May 2011

Welcome back to another Monday of insightful, interestings, engaging and thought provoking articles, content, letters and comment that we at feminaust were reading this week. With the global movement SlutWalk that’s been making ripples and WAVES all over the world, this roundup is pretty SlutWalk heavy. Enjoy it ladies and gentlement, whether you subscribe to reclaiming the word, or just living your life free from violence SlutWalk is for everyone. My dad’s basketball team are marching and one of my colleagues is taking his wife and children. This isn’t just for the short skirts and thigh high boots girls, it’s for everyone who believes in a woman’s right to live free from the threat of violence.

Used under Creative Commons License from Flickr user sijeka.

Remember we’re just putting the info out there and don’t necessarily endorce the content. Please feel free to comment if you have something to say!

SlutWalk Melbourne and the SlutWalk Melbourne site

You should all buy this cushion

Ethical debate on deserving what you get

Plug for a friend: The Victorian Roller Derby League 

Sex, lies and SlutWalking by Melbourne’s own Lauren Rosewarne

It’s been shown before but I’m in this Age article about SlutWalk. I’m the one in the back in the orange… no not the orange beard, the orange cardigan! Oh and we may as well throw in the HS one too. Actually worth checking out the journalists blog on this issue. Some good debate… well HS readers saying stupid things followed by the journalist (and me) telling them they’re wrong.

What DFAT says about not getting raped in a foreign country… very handy… maybe?

In honour of SlutWalk and Eve Ensler, here’s the fabulous verse MY SHORT SKIRT wear it!

Canada’s in for a long four years

Girl’s Report on gender as a lived experience

Peace Corps volunteers speak out about rape

No justice on earth until there is justice for women

You thought it was bad here? 1,100 women raped EVERY DAY in DRC

Why we need more women in Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics

Are you having Amelie Sex??

On being relevant: Sexuality Gender and Nationalism in Palestinian Society

How Jane Austen taught me to be a man

Gender in Islam: It’s not just about women

Anne Summers address to the National Labour Women’s Conference

Most Mentally Sexy Dad competition Support men who are great in the bedroom AND all the other rooms of the house.

Image taken from Flickr user sijeka under Creative Commons Licence

Slutwalk ~ Coming to a town near you!

On January 24th, 2011, a representative of the Toronto Police gave shocking insight into the Force’s view of sexual assault by stating: “women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized”.

As the city’s major protective service, the Toronto Police have perpetuated the myth and stereotype of ‘the slut’, and in doing so have failed us. With sexual assault already a significantly under-reported crime, survivors have now been given even less of a reason to go to the Police, for fear that they could be blamed. Being assaulted isn’t about what you wear; it’s not even about sex; but using a pejorative term to rationalize inexcusable behaviour creates an environment in which it’s okay to blame the victim. Text taken from SlutWalk Toronto’s website

SlutWalk is an opportunity for women and men of all ages and persuasions to come together and say loud and clear that what we wear, bears no relationship to our risk of assault and is NEVER an excuse for violating our safety, privacy and personal space.

Now, SlutWalk is coming to Australia.

SlutWalk Melbourne

May 28th

Facebook invite here.

Adelaide SlutWalk

JUNE 11th

Facebook invite here.

SlutWalk Sydney

JUNE 13th

Facebook invite here.

Image of protestor by Rick Carroll, taken from Flickr under Creative Commons Licence

Australian Defense Force ~ what we want to say

So, the ADF hey?! Seems like this topic has been bashed to death over the last few weeks but at the same time… sort of feels like a cop out if we don’t at least attempt to weigh in on the debate. The conversation is ostensibly along two lines;

a)     the girl who was webcast without her consent having sex.

b)    should ladies be allowed to serve on “the frontline” in armed combat?

However, somehow the two issues are blending and bleeding together in a great big misogynist vs feminist debate. Pick a side Australians, you will be called up to swear allegiance before this fight is even close to closed.

So ladies and gentlemen, here’s the story according to feminaust.

First off, two young peeps had sex.

STOP PRESS! Two young people had sexual intercourse with each other.

It seems that it was consensual, mutually agreed upon and potentially satisfying although obviously we can’t know exactly how so. There were a few things that were different about these two youngsters getting naked than the millions of other sexual acts amongst young people that were happening at the same time, they were;

a)     they technically shouldn’t have because they were both cadets at the Australian Defence Force Academy and they have a no fraternisation rule there.

b)    the dude involved decided at some point prior to the act that it would be a good idea to broadcast it to a select few of his classmates via Skype.

That’s pretty much all we know. Why the girl wanted to sleep with this guy, why he chose to broadcast, why the other fellows wanted to watch, how it was set up, all the rest we don’t know and any comment by us non-knowing people is just speculation.

Now, when the young lady found out that she had been watched during this very private moment, she complained. As far as I’m concerned, this seems like an entirely natural thing to do, except of course that she’s in a defence force… where complaining about violations against your rights and your body are seriously frowned upon, add to that she’s a WOMAN in a defence force who dared to complain about a violation of her rights, body etc… not cool man. Chicks should just be happy they’re allowed to walk those hallowed halls, making complaints about fellow cadets is just NOT ON.

Next it appears that her complaint wasn’t taken entirely seriously. Maybe she was reprimanded for doing the dirty with a fellow officer, maybe also for being naughty in other ways. Either way, the lady felt the need to go to the press with her complaint, a fairly drastic measure considering the closed club that the defence force tends to be.

Various powers have made their thoughts known, insults have been slung, articles and opinions have been written but above seems to be what we know. That’s not what I want to concentrate on in this post though. I want to concentrate on situation b).

Ok, onto issue b). Women on the frontline. WHAT? Women on the frontline? Where people shoot guns and get shot and get taken prisoner and all that other stuff that soldiers, sailors and airforce peeps accept as part of their job every day?!?!?!?!? No way, that’ll be the end of all life as we know it. Women can’t be expected to fight on the frontline, they’re not strong enough, physical enough, they’re not born killers, they’ll get raped and that will distract the men and then they’ll get shot and DIE.

Sorry, that was a digression, just a short roundup of some of the arguments I’ve heard over the last week as to why women shouldn’t be fighting as ground troops and honestly I’m pretty sick of it. I can come to terms with the fact that most women can’t and won’t pass the demanding physical and psychological tests to become active ground forces, what I can’t accept is the idea that they shouldn’t be allowed to try. That for some reason, women have no right to defend their country in the way that they want and are best suited to. It astounds me time and time again that certain members of the establishment should continue to invent ridiculous reasons to exclude women from some domains. One of my “favourite” comments was penned by Robert Burton-Bradley quoting Neil James as saying;

“The other thing the feminists never justify in their arguments is would they be prepared to have women suffer disproportionate casualties compared to men just to satisfy their whims.”

I don’t know about you but as a feminist, I would never send ANYONE into combat on a whim. In fact, as a human being I would never send anyone into combat on a whim and Mr James fails to provide any evidence that women would suffer disproportionate casualties. He just thinks it’s commonsense that they would. Who’s commonsense Mr James? Yours or mine? Because my whim of having women in one on one combat has nothing to do with me and everything to do with the women who WANT to do that. Personally, I couldn’t think of anything worse than being trained for armed conflict, but some people want to do that, are good at doing that and aspire to be paid to do just that, and quite frankly, if they meet all the physical and other requirements to do that, I doubt that it was on a whim, probably more likely to be as a result of sustained, purposeful intent.

The next argument is that the women will be raped and that will distract the men because they’ll want to be chivalrous (ignoring the total lack of chivalry in the defense force that issue a) reflects) and protect them. I just want to make some pretty serious points on this assumption that I really think some people need to understand. Women are raped all the time in conflict settings, in fact rape is used as a weapon of war and terror on a regular basis but it’s not active armed forces that are being raped, it’s civilian women and girls, it’s women in state sponsored military “brothels”, it’s happening in the barracks, it’s security forces raping the women they’re supposed to be protecting, rape has been used in conflict as a weapon of genocide. On top of that sexual violence is abhorrently prevalent in “regular” society. 1 out of 5 women will experience sexual violence. Three quarters of those women will know their attacker. Women live with the threat of sexual violence everyday they leave their house and just as frequently they face it in their own homes, with their partners, parents, siblings and family friends. They experience it in their schools, churches, universities, sporting clubs, at the local pub and everywhere else that they choose to live their lives. Mr James, as a woman I live with the threat of sexual violence because instead of standing up against it, people like you make excuses for it. Make comments like “she was raped because she chose to be a combat troop, therefore it’s her fault”. I can just see you down the track after an incident of sexual assault to an Australian soldier is made public saying “I told you so!”. Well I’d like to tell you, right now, that you only have to look around your hometown, talk to your friends and family and take a little bit of notice to realise that sexual violence is a part of our lives and the only way to stop it is to make it unacceptable, not tell women that they have to protect themselves by not putting themselves at risk. That’s called victim blaming and that’s something we feminists definitely don’t hold to.

So I’ve now satisfactorily satisfied my whim to blast my opinion across the cybersphere.

Feel free to comment, disagree, add far more reasoned and researched arguments to the discussion.