Claire has deleted the content on her blog, but she gave me permission to repost this edition here so it has a home. This was originally posted on 4 February 2011.
Hello there. Welcome to the 33rd Down Under Feminists’ Carnival. The first month of 2011 has finished and a whole bunch of wonderful writers have contributed to this carnival that had the optional theme of “Beginnings: Survival, Resilience and Resistance”. Basically I feel incredibly inspired — but not surprised — by the writing that emanates from the down under feminist and gender activist blogging community. So let’s launch into it. Happy reading!
I’ll start off with events so y’all can see up front whether you would like to and can attend any of the following:
- Boganette invites Wellington NZ, feministy bloggy types to a drinks event on Wednesday February 9th. For more details, click here.
- Looking Out For Each Other, is a day of workshops on consent, healthy relationships and violence. The Stepping Up Collective is organising this in Melbourne, Australia for Saturday, 19th of February from 11am at Loophole Community Centre, Thornbury. Check out the phenomenal timetable here and their website here.
- Director and documentary filmmaker, Caitlin Ate is making a documentary on femmes with a provisional title of FEMME FEMME A FILM (not sure if it’s in capitals but I’m heaps excited). The short documentary is being made in Melbourne, Australia. Check out details here.
- Women of Color Day is March 1st, annually.
- Check out International Women’s Day events in Australia and do a search for New Zealand/Aotearoa events here.
- Maia from the Hand Mirror lets folks know about the following pro-choice event:
“Action for Abortion Rights Wellington warmly invites you to a national gathering of pro-choice organisers and activists. It will take place 9am-5pm, 12-13 March 2011 in Wellington. This is an opportunity for individuals and groups to share resources and ideas and to plan for the future.”
Floods and surviving
- Blue Milk notices how masculinity unfolds on television when a male survivor cried about the Queensland floods to a reporter.
- theconsciencevote writes an excellent and incisive piece on the levy to be instituted by the Gillard government that will go toward rebuilding parts of Queensland post flood. The piece contains a wonderful rebuttal to Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott’s outrage and his simplistic neoliberal solutions— outlining how his former leader, ousted Prime Minister John Howard used a levy for other purposes.
Feminists resist the rape apologism around the Assange cases
The following posts are absolutely staggering in their analyses:
- QoT writes about Scoop’s Gordon Campbell’s rape apologism in relation to the Assange case.
- Because Gordon Campbell can’t handle the truth Jack Nicholson-style, QoT decided to hold up on the “I told him” and wrote a brilliant follow up post instead. I quote:
“You’re also a rape apologist because you refuse to address the fact that his personal conduct involves not simply denying the charges and waiting for trial, but employing lawyers who have outright lied about the charges and allegations and continually fed into rape culture with their statements about the accusers.”
- Luddite Journo gives us the rundown on the Naomi Wolf debacle where Wolf decided to defend Assange and muddy the lines of what consent actually means. Luddite Journo also outlines the debate between Wolf and Jaclyn Friedman on Democracy Now!, and gives us an alternative to Wolf’s bullshit descriptions of what consent is.
“I’ve gone into quite this much detail because this is shocking. Firstly, the descriptions Naomi Wolf gives based on quoting from the released material are of coercive activities at best (repeated pressure to do various things, trying to ask him not to do some things then giving in under further pressure, breaking necklaces and ripping clothing, waking up while being penetrated) – and she is trying to call this negotiating consent. I can think of literally nothing more dangerous than this being taken as a blueprint for negotiating consensual activites. [my emphasis]”
- Luddite Journo also criticises left-wing journalist John Pilger for his rape apologism on Assange’s behalf, and for his maligning of so-called “media feminists”.
Luddite Journo argues: “And frankly, I expect left-wing men interested in equality to, if they don’t know this already, stop themselves from jumping in and ridiculing allegations as “contradictory” just because the bloke they are about is someone they respect.”
- Luddite Journo also does the same for Michael Moore and is concerned about how the legal authorities chose to respond to the Assange case.
I know Moore apologised on the back of the #Mooreandme campaign but all I have to say to Wolf, Pilger and Moore is DUDES WHERE IS OUR SOLIDARITY?
- A new feminist blogger, Sarah Robot absolutely thrills to pieces with her blog post which breaks down consent, misogyny and slut shaming around the Assange case.
More on sexual assault and rape
- Not Afraid of Ruins unpacks why the term corrective rape is inaccurate, clinical and alongside other terms such as “Honour Killings” plays into myths of western supremacy whereby these rapes only happen in Global South countries. It’s awesome and gives people a lot to think about.
- Chally, on Feministe writes about how within a social justice context, the appropriation of asexuality by people who are decidedly sexual. According to Chally, asexuality “…gets manipulated as a politicised tool by sexual people at the expense of asexual people.”
“As best I can gather, a good part of equating asexuality with the negative, with absence, comes from a skewing of feminist ideas around promoting sexual agency and fulfillment. I think a lot of feminists are operating under the idea that women in particular have been denied sexual pleasure, expression, and fulfillment, so encouraging everyone to stop being prudes and be sexual on their own terms is always the way to go. But the thing is, those terms, what happiness around sexuality looks like, is not the same for everyone. Models of proper sexuality still perpetuate the idea that “healthy” or “good” sexuality has to look a particular way, and that isn’t a way that’s going to fit every sexual assault survivor, or queer person, or, well, any individual, really.”
Chally also included some blogs written by folks who are asexual at the bottom.
- theconsciencevote writes about the non-representative Australian Christian Lobby battling the Safe Schools Coalition of Victoria over the latter offering information, resources and antibullying courses for schools to protect nonheterosexual school folks because they were invited to walk in the Pride March.
“Already, too many queer kids drop out of school because of the bullying and intolerance they suffer. Queer kids are six times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual counterparts.
And every time that kind of bullying isn’t dealt with quickly and effectively, it sends a message to the bully that what they’re doing is acceptable. That’s the kind of lesson they’ll carry into adult life, and perhaps parenthood.”
- Rebecca writes about complicated female relationships and how this relates to bisexuality.
- Maia writes a letter to Auckland City councillor Sandra Coney explaining why it is “not feminist action” to vote “to support the re-criminalising of outdoor sex-workers in Manakau…”
Maia argues: “Instead you supported legislation that criminalises buying and selling sex – but only for poor people. Only those who live in South Auckland (possibly all of Auckland by the time the bill is done) and can’t afford to work indoors need to worry about this legislation.
This bill will impoverish women who get caught, tie them to the stress of the court system, and put them in the power of the New Zealand police.
And that should be enough, for any feminist in this country. We know the power the police have, how they have used it, and how many within the force take ‘bros before hos’ as a life mantra and cover for their mates. How dare you support giving the police more power over a group of our sisters, for any reason?”
- Not Afraid of Ruins writes more on this bill.
Fatness, fat acceptance and fatphobia
- On her blog, Fat Lot of Good — fat activist Bri convinces us that weight has no bearing on how one lives.
- Bri also opens up about her occasional fat shame which came up recently and suggests that folks who are part of the fat acceptance movement be able to express these feelings if they come. This shame came up in a complicated way; read the post to see how Bri eloquently describes the feelings and how she worked with them.
- Dr Samantha Thomas presents a sort of script in which a fat kid is being teased by two people in ways that fit all the assumptions and stereotypes related to fatness while another person contests their bigotry. All I have to say to Female Three is: Fuckin’ A! Check it out!
- Bri writes about how the medical establishment should provide better facilities that suit fat folks. I agree!
- Fatheffalump waxes indignant on crap, expensive and sometimes ill-fitting bra sizes for plus size women and their ridiculous unavailability.
- She also talks about not excluding new people from fat acceptance on the basis of their newbie status (but there is no patience for the wilfully ignorant).
- Spilt Milk writes about John Birmingham’s fat shaming – especially using fat folks as a “cautionary tale” towards children.
“My fat body is not your punch line, it is not your entertainment, it is not your grotesque freakshow, it is not your life-lesson.
I happen to think that many kids could learn a thing or two from people like me, beyond a cautionary tale. But until our culture starts valuing people for what they have to give and not what they (apparently) have to lose, a lot of people will fail to see that.
And exploiting that failure to see human beings instead of “the obese” isn’t edgy and it isn’t even productive. It just hurts.”
- QoT slams the premise of “graphic advertising to combat the obesity epidemic” shown during the broadcast of a NZ telly show.
“This is something that’s a several-posts-long thing to unpack, but for now, let’s consider: we do actually need food to live. Eating is actually a good thing. Consuming foods is not some lesser-of-two-evils moral conflict for which we must eternally self-flagellate. We don’t have to feel bad for lacking the willpower just to starve to death instead of letting filthy biomatter pass our lips.”
- Fatheffalump narrates how a judgemental, fat disapproving person near her work makes snide comments about how she dresses which she doesn’t make toward a thin person. Fatheffalump also analyses fat discrimination and has started a discussion on how to instigate change.
Anyone else sick of this fat hatred? Thank goodness for these fat activists and fat acceptance bloggers and supporters, I say.
- On Hoyden About Town, Jo Tamar writes about a child with a disability who died. There is a trigger warning under the picture, please take care and read what may be triggered.
- On Something More Than Sides, PharaohKatt analyses gaming representations; namely how mental illnesses are depicted and treated in a Batman game.
- Chally on her own blog, Zero At The Bone, writes about her hair and how others respond to her hair as a racialised marker. Boy how I know what you’re talking about, Chally.
- On The Hand Mirror, stargazer contests the assumptions and “useless speculation” around whether an Indian woman of colour died in an “Honour Killing.”
- Chally for Bitch magazine, analyses the whitewashing of science fiction book covers written by authors of colour or whose content feature protagonists of colour or challenge the system of whiteness or sometimes all three.
Science and Technology
- Rosie Williams marvels at the gender imbalance of Wikipedia contributors and has started a campaign called Women for Wikipedia to “get more women contributing to Wikipedia” by March 8, 2011 which Rosie tells us is the Centenary of International Women’s Day.
“I’ve nominated the hashtag #women4wikipedia for use on Twitter for the purposes of sharing info, advice and of course, any pages you have added to Wikipedia for others to enjoy.”
- QoT unpacks the media representation of scientific research where the research shows that women’s tears do “send chemical signals” to testosterone and that this could have a positive effect on cancer. However the media’s report is decidedly unscientific.
Femininities – Transmisogyny, Labour, Bodies, Fashion.
- Queen Emily on Questioning Transphobia critiques Australian film, Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994) which she first watched when she was 14.
“When I first watched Priscilla at 14, it was one of those click moments that, oh yes, trans women exist, it is possible, it is liveable. I was never a queen and never part of campy gay male culture, but still it spoke to me in powerful ways….
Rewatching it now though, it really is an awful portrayal in many respects.”
- One of the Hoydens, Mindy responds to a report in The Australian where women of a certain age aren’t engaging in work and contributing to the country’s productivity. Mindy swiftly rebuts this with a list of reminders of what they could be doing or lacking support—enjoying retirement and/or unpaid work, and/or have “a disability and be unable to participate in a workforce that in general makes workforce particpation for people with a disability difficult if not nigh on impossible.”
“But of course “women’s work” doesn’t count does it?”
- On the Dawn Chorus, Mel Campbell elucidates the strong connection between public relations and the media based on a report in Queensland’s Sunday Mail. According to McCrindle Research so-called male and female skills are dying out because of Generation Y.
Campbell strongly argues: “This is a cheap, distasteful reporting strategy aimed at enraging readers who will circulate the story and comment on it, generating advertising revenue. At the time of writing, the story had 88 comments. However, rather than merely getting angry at the perpetuation of these cynically sexist ideas, it’s important to understand how stories like this are developed – and to demand better responses from journalists.”
This is great, and as an aside I read in some UTS publication that in Australia over 70% of newspaper article content come from press releases. Holy crap!
- Rebecca also takes on this piece of research AND another report on how female managers shouldn’t act like men.
Thanks for taking this on so thoroughly, Rebecca because I couldn’t be bothered with it.
- Jo Tamar takes the Sydney Morning Herald’s Philip Coorey to task for his spurious reasons (‘she pushed out Rudd!’) for the sexism directed toward Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard in terms of her fashion and body.
- Helen digests how the new Tasmanian Premier (the first female in this position) named Lara Giddings is still being questioned about her relationship and breeding ‘choices’. Say what?
Read the rest but I concur with Helen: “To those of you who are going to say this is trivial and not political and build a bridge, this stuff matters.”
Pregnancy, breastfeeding, motherhood
- On A Touch of the Crazy, Stef writes about the media focus on pregnant celebrities and what this tells us about women’s supposed true worth, how pregnancy is fetishised and identity.
- Dr Samantha Thomas writes about the photo release of Miranda Kerr breastfeeding her new son, Flynn and all the fuss over her breasts being exposed while doing so.
“I am really interested in why there is still this reaction to breastfeeding in our society. It is very strange to me that somehow we still think of breastfeeding as a mum taking some sort of opportunity to flash her boobs everywhere for everyone else to have a gawp at.
So why do you think these attitudes still exist?”
- Mindy, at Hoyden About Town rebuts the tired myth that mothers are all the same and all want to give up paid work after having kids—especially in light of the myths around harms to children and daycare.
“‘Working mother’ is a tautology, because it doesn’t matter whether you are paid or unpaid you are still working. Bloody hard I might add.”
Sport and exercise
- Stef looks at the quandary of exercising in gyms, how exercise is marketed but also the benefits of exercise for the mind and body.
- Nic Heath writes on sexism in sport commentary and compares action in the UK against sexism to how women in sport are treated in Australia.
- Clementine Ford uses Emily Maguire’s The Punch piece about women’s gendered representations in film and television as a starting point to unpack how female characters still feature poorly in children’s films and TV shows and more likely to be wearing what we perceive to be ‘hot babe’ clothing; how women’s experiences are “sidelined as women’s stories”; and Ford even compares the audience and critical reception of The Shawshank Redemption(1994), Beaches (1988) and Thelma and Louise (1991).
- Transcendancing reviews animated musical movie Tangled (2010) with a “feminist and cultural analysis lens.” It also passed the Bechdel test which must be some kind of miracle or something.
- Maia from The Hand Mirror, writes about NZ’s creation of man yoghurt – yes yoghurt that is for manly men.
“So how do you sell the idea that the official food of woman in apricot and manuka honey flavour is manly? Silly question – all you need is to emphasise misogyny, homophobia and the extreme danger of girl germs.”
Don’t know about you folks but all this “lets append the word man or something masculine or let’s create a portmanteau because anything resembling femininity or constructed versions of femininity is too gross to be associated with; we needs words like the manny, man scarf, manbrella and…” – is doing my head in!
Writing, blogs and language
- Sarah Robot considers appropriation and writing:
“…you can’t say that there isn’t something which is (on the surface) problematic about a white Southern woman writing a novel about the racism inherent in the class system of the Southern US during the 1960s. Not to say it can’t be done – and it was done very well, in my opinion, at least in this case – but there is something about a woman in a privileged position speaking for those who are not which has the potential to be discomforting.”
But then there is this angle:
“…reading and writing about those who are different from us is a means of developing empathy, of broadening our understanding and coming to see other points of view.”
Check it out…what do you think about appropriation and writing?
- Peter M Ball rants (and yes Peter, anger is an energy) about the publishing house Ticonderoga’s writer guidelines which were premised on gendered stereotypes about masculinity—which had repercussions for the feminine— and their inaccuracy.
- Deborah from The Hand Mirror does a call out for New Zealander feminist blogs to be put on their blog roll:
“Any type of blog is welcome – feminist, political, craft, mummy, life, cooking, books, gardening, academic, writing, fashion, fitness, all or none of the above.”
Movement and cities
- Chally writes on Feministe about Sydney and how ethnicity, racism and class intersect and spill over –- especially on days like Australia Day/Invasion Day in this fair city:
“For me, personally, the hardest time for living in this country is 26 January. Australia Day is the anniversary of the First Fleet’s arrival: the beginnings of the colony of New South Wales. Australia Day is known also as Invasion Day. It’s a day on which it’s popular to dress up in clothes with Australian flags on them, and to use Australian flags as capes. I am scared to go outside on 26 January because I know that racist feeling is running high (‘we grew here, you flew here’) and that people like me are not welcome. I see someone wearing Australian flags and I tense up until I can get away from them, because maybe they’re just patriotic, but that flag has come to symbolise a violent, racist hatred in many an Australian head. I remember the Cronulla riots, and I remember the acts of violence that occur all the time in this city, and I am scared.”
- Boganette makes me laugh out loud with her complete takedown of the NZ Tourism spokesperson Ian Long who decides to totally dismiss the complaints of Hollywood actress Anna Farris. Farris complained about street and sexual harassment and verbal abuse from some blokes while she was working in NZ.
Boganette writes: “Fuck off you flaming douchecanoe! I am not worried about tourism. When I read a story like that I think about that actress and what it was like going to another country for your job and being abused in the street by sexually intimidating men. Do you have a daughter? Is she more important than NZ Tourism? Your mother? Your sister? Your aunty or grandmother? Fuck you wankstain.”
Boganette for NZ Tourism President!
- ana australiana reports on how spaces that are being created for artists can actually take away homes from low-income folks but she also gives an example of an event that aims to support oppressed folks as well.
“…Sometimes it seems that the Floridean vision incites art-makers, writers and thinkers to claim urban space in the name of their disadvantage (and then, to frame it as a misrecognised advantage). I’ve heard a number of urbanites refer to themselves as “cultural refugees”, forced out of a “dying” small town and into Melbourne or Sydney to find the kind of work they are trained for and passionate about and the kind of cultural activities that they see the good life in. The premium on housing and studio space (not to mention reliance on casual or part-time day jobs) is regularly cited by artists as something that disadvantages them personally. The prevalence of venues reliant on lager sales and poker machines is felt to disadvantage those of us who would prefer reading rooms and live music (and, for the record, I do).”
Women in history—and who create history
- stargazer writes about her amazing mother and her brilliant life in motherhood, service, religious dedication, teaching, travel, community education, media work, as a founding member of the Islamic Women’s Council and as part of the first Muslim family to settle in Hamilton, New Zealand/Aotearoa.
Mothers of colour!!!!
- penguinunearthed gives a beautiful and complex account of Hatshepsut, an Ancient Egyptian female pharaoh and of her rule.
- Bee Faerie’s Deborah Russell writes about the term “rabid feminists.”
Politics and the state
- QoT critiques the speech of deputy leader, Annette King at the 2010 New Zealand/Aotearoa Labour party conference. The speech was on “putting children first” and poverty.
- QoT adds a trigger warning to this post on NZ police recruitment drive, the poster relying on misogyny and the police taking sexual advantage of young women.
And now some genius has decided that the way to entice Kiwi kids to join the force is to use sexually-suggestive advertising talking about “liking them young”.”
- Idiot/Savant writes about paid parental leave as an investment in children sparked by the New Zealand/Aotearoa Labour Party promising to extend it if returned to power.
- Wildly Parenthetical explains the differences between neoliberalism and liberalism and how neoliberalism ultimately cannot protect those who do not constitute the ideal subject—in fact they are “risky populations.”
Feminism in the world
“…that the Left in New Zealand has been weakened by (among other things) the loss of activists and voices to other issues that aren’t specifically focused on class struggle or strictly economic leftist ideas. (I really focus on feminism here as that’s my baby.)
To put it in my more usual terms, the Left, and especially Labour, have screwed up by ignoring, cutting out and downright condemning feminists and other progressive activists and they need to get the fuck over themselves. “
And that’s it. Phew!
A big thank you to Chally for her many submissions and for being a great organiser. Thanks to all submitters — and especially to stargazer and QoT. Also big ups acknowledgement to tig-tog and to Lauredhel for your past work.