Contents & Editorial We acknowledge the traditional owners of this land, the Gadigal people of the Eora nation. We stand here today as the beneficiaries of a racist and unreconciled dispossession.
We recognise both our privilege and our obligation to remember the mistakes of the past,act on the problems of today and build a future free from discrimination.
4 The Autonomy Debate 6 Liberating Feminism by Jozefa Sobski
7 How To Be a Feminist
Melanie Jayne debunks some myths
Western Feminism Shelley Smith
9 Ban the Burqa? by Omayma Mohamed
10 11 12 14
Why Rape Jokes are NOT funny
by Emily Rayers
College Sexism: Exposed Body Image
Sam Wright and Michelle Garratt weigh into the debate
The Bechdel Test
Melody Teh explores womem in film
Let’s Talk About Sex
SRC Pages CATCALL
What kind of Feminist Are You?
Alice Brandli’s flowchart!
EDITORIAL Welcome to the Women’s Edition of Honi Soit! The editing team, made up of members of the Women’s Collective and other lovely people, have worked day and night to make this edition - the very first non-autonomous Women’s Honi - as diverse and enjoyable as possible. The issue serves two main purposes. Firstly, it aims to get women’s journalistic and creative work published because women are still underrepresented in print media (including regular Honi). Secondly, it is a chance to have some rigorous debate and discussion about feminism. After extensive discussion Women’s Collective decided that this issue would be non-autonomous because we wanted everyone to be included in these very important debates (for more on the autonomy debate see pages 4 and 5). However, the majority of the issue was reserved for contributions from women and the editing process remained autonomous. Interestingly, though there were some expressions of interest when we called for submissions, we had very few contributions from men. The reasons for this are presumably diverse but from what we were told many felt worried about expressing opinions when they thought it is really up to women to define these debates, while others were supportive of the feminism in general but weren’t sure what more they had to contribute. While feminists are divided over the issue of autonomy, many believe that men have a role to play in supporting and contributing to the movement. This edition is full of fantastic articles that tackle ideas and issues currently affecting the feminist movement in the wider community and right here on campus. From the burqa debate and body image to sexism in the colleges there is a huge diversity of material. We were also lucky to receive lots of creative material including our beautiful cover art. So thank you to all our wonderful contributors and we hope you enjoy the edition!
Contributors: Kate O’Brien, John F-E, Nai Brooks, Thomas McClintock, Jozefa Sobski, Melanie Jayne, Louise CareyWhite, Zainab, Omayma Mohamed, Shelley Smith, Sharanya Sekaram, Emily Rayers, Melody Teh, Astha Rajvanshi, Julia Readett, Phoebe Miley-Dyer, Stella Ktenas, Arabella Close, Morgaine Fairall, Avani Dias, Katherine Bartley, Alice Brandli, Elizabeth Mora, Mariana Podesta-Diverio, Phoebe Moloney, Xiaoran Shi, Morgaine Fairall
Cover: Artwork by Madeleine Clarke (www.facebook.com/ madeleineclarkefineart)
Crossword: Xiaoran Shi
Illustrations: Erin Rooney, Leah Jean, Madeleine Clarke, Madeleine Pfull
Avani Dias interviews musician Catherine Kelleher
Editors: Kate O’Brien, Annabel Osborn, Xiaoran Shi, Morgaine Fairall, Caitlin Doyle, Shelley Smith, Avani Dias, Meghan Batcheldor, Nai Brooks, Hannah Bruce, Julia Readett, Eve Radunz, Grace Johns
Advertising: Tina Kao and Amanda LeMay firstname.lastname@example.org www.src.usyd.edu.au / www.honisoit.com
Disclaimer: Honi Soit is published by the Students’ Representative Council, University of Sydney, Level 1 Wentworth Building, City Road, University of Sydney, NSW, 2006. The SRC’s operation costs, space and administrative support are financed by the University of Sydney. The editors of Honi Soit and the SRC acknowledge the traditional owners of this land, the Gadigal people of the Eora nation. Honi Soit is written, printed, and distributed on Aboriginal land. Honi Soit is printed under the auspices of the SRC’s directors of student publications: Rafi Alam, Peta Borella, Michael de Waal, Jeremy Leith, Leo Nelson, Astha Rajvanshi and Max Schinter. All expressions are published on the basis that they are not to be regarded as the opinions of the SRC unless specifically stated. The Council accepts no responsibility for the accuracy of any of the opinions or information contained within this newspaper, nor does it endorse any of the advertisements and insertions. Printed by MPD, Unit E1 46-62 Maddox St. Alexandria NSW 2015.
INTERESTED IN DISCUSSING ANY OF THE ISSUES RAISED IN THIS EDITION OR MEETING OTHER FEMINISTS ON CAMPUS? Woman-identifying students are invited to attend
WOMEN’S COLLECTIVE 1pm Wednesdays Women’s Room, Holme Building email us at email@example.com or or find us on Facebook at Usyd Women’s Collective 2012
Feminism on the Interwebs facebook groups: - A girls guide to taking over the world - Feminism is not dead - NOWSA (Network of Women Students Australia)
blogs: - feministing.com - feministconference.blogspot.com.au - menandfeminism.org/index.html - projectunbreakable.tumblr.com - nuswomens.wordpress.com website: - enlighteneducation.com - unwomen.org - bitchmagazine.org - rookiemag.com - lipmag.com
Lov H at e i t? e i t? hon isoi t20 12 @gm
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The Autonomy Debate So, tell me what you want, what you really, really want. Should the Women’s Edition of Honi be autonomous or non-autonomous? Have a read to see what our contributors think about the topic.
Sisters are doin’ it for themselves Kate O’Brien puts up the argument for an autonomous Women’s Edition of Honi
shouldn’t be a feminist but rather that, in some situations, autonomy is relevant and should exist. Autonomy is needed so that women’s voices are actually heard and perspectives from women are actually discussed. Women are underrepresented and remain excluded from full participation in almost all areas of life; despite the legal structural changes in place, gendered mindsets have not been completely abolished. Only 13 of the 500 largest corporations of the world have a woman CEO*, and the gender pay gap has remained at about 17%** for over 15 years. Unfortunately, unless women kick up a stink about the inequities they face, most of the time nothing improves. While men may care about such injustices, it is easy for them to be less motivated simply because they are not the ones suffering from the glass ceiling or they’re not the ones unable to attain that promotion. Patriarchy affects them in a different kind of way, one that privileges and confines as opposed the ways it acts to oppresses and limit women in all elements of life. Autonomy is also needed because
Autonomy isn’t about excluding men, it’s about including women.
fundamental autonomous basis of these movements has allowed women to make important choices about the rights we take for granted today. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for modernising feminism - to keep it relevant and present - but women come from all different backgrounds and experiences and for many women autonomy remains an important aspect to reclaiming control over their own destiny. I am not saying men can’t or
I’ve noticed a trend of late: feminists are fighting with increased vigour to include men in the feminist movement. Essentially I am a supporter for this, but I am concerned about what the ramifications of moving away from autonomy may be. Okay, I’m just going to say it… I am pro- “autonomy”. In the feminist world, we use this terminology simply to mean ‘women only’. It’s funny that one word can cause so much debate among us, but what can I say? I really am pro-autonomy in a wide range of situations. In fact I am pro-autonomy for Women’s Honi. But far be it for me to put a stop to progression or a collective decision! Nonetheless, I am writing to explain to the average Jo why autonomy remains an important, powerful part of the feminist movement and why it shouldn’t be discarded altogether. Some of the most admirable feminist movements of the past have been instigated and led by powerful women who refused to let sexist values undermine their lives. We have seen this in the suffragette movement and the women’s liberation (men have been involved in off-shoot organisations and rallies within both movements). The
women need safe spaces. With 1 in 5 women being victimised by sexual assault in their lifetime***, spaces and collectives should be made available for women to not only support one another but to also acknowledge that women have specific, gendered needs and experiences that can be most comfortably confronted, shared and accepted in an autonomous environment. While some men contribute meaningfully to the feminist movement
and respect the need for women’s autonomy, there is always the few who spoil it for the rest. Nothing pisses me off more than men who try to tell women how to “do” feminism. I had this unfortunate experience when discussing sexual assault with a man at a feminist conference - he basically made out that he had the answer to a very complex and sensitive issue without thinking for 5 minutes about it. When I tried to explain the problems with his solution, he became defensive and pushed his solution harder. He stopped listening to me, and hadn’t even encountered women who had been assaulted. I don’t have a problem with men working alongside women to find solutions in some circumstances, but please let women actually have their say! Our voices are valuable. I would argue that the majority of men do care about these inequalities but are less vocal or less pro-active because they don’t want to offend women or go about it the wrong way. This is why autonomy is important - it provides a vital platform for women’s leadership in determining a future for the betterment of women. This in turn allows for men to join the cause in appropriate situations and ways, according to the wishes of women. You know what? Feminism is complicated. And maybe there can be room for both kinds of feminist organisation. Usyd Women’s Collective is a group only for women, however there are off-shoot events and groups where all are welcome. I guess because of this, I have to question why it is still such a big deal to have autonomous groups. We always receive flak at O-week and have been criticised in the past for autonomous Women’s Honi editions. I mean, is there really any harm in letting women gather, discuss issues and take control and agency over their own lives?
The biggest fallacy about womenonly collectives and organising is the perception that we are man-hating or excluding men from the feminist debate. This perspective saddens me as it only reflects negative stigmas and does not take into account the true reason why autonomy exists; and that is to give women a safe space where their voices are heard. Autonomy isn’t about excluding men, it’s about including women. Despite my personal feelings toward the Women’s Edition of Honi becoming non-autonomous for this year (dude, it’s called WOMEN’S Honi, not FEMINIST Honi…), to my surprise, I went up against a brick wall when I approached some of my male feminist friends to write for Honi. For some, their respect for autonomy meant they refused to contribute to a publication that simply did not coincide with their personal feminist values, for others they felt like they had been put on the spot and were uncomfortable with becoming publically involved and, most commonly, they simply didn’t know what they wanted to say about feminism when given the chance. I understand that for some men autonomy is threatening or seems exclusive, but for others, autonomy is something they admire with the utmost respect. Autonomy even for women can seem alien, but there are important elements of autonomy that resonate in today’s feminisms. *unstats.org **eowa.gov.au ***NSW Rape Crisis Centre
My awakening of feminism John F.E. shares when he first discovered he was a feminist It can be hard to talk about feminism. As a man (let alone a woman) it is almost impossible to speak to other men about it. A lot of women do not like the term feminism and do not identify with it; and others, just don’t like engaging in a subject that has long been rubbished from all sides. But it is good to keep talking, talking to those who are interested and, if you can, especially to those you care about. I think for men to be open to the idea
and not instantly defensive and hateful, it would seem that they need to have a moment of realisation all their own. My own happened after my mother made a comment about the way Mel Gibson spoke to his partner while she had been secretly recording him. My reaction was immediate and very defensive: “But it’s out of context,” and “Yeah but what did she do to deserve that?” This turned into a heated argument, perhaps because I was tired of mum’s “feminist” comments, but just as my voice reached
the yelling stage I stopped. Here I was, speaking this way to my mum, defending a man I had never met and arguing about a taped conversation I knew nothing about. This was the first (and only) argument with my mother I had ever had, and it marked the unveiling of a new world, instantly changing the way I saw and reacted to everything. I don’t think I could have had this same moment with a wife or girlfriend. I think a lot of men can only understand the
way women and young girls are hypersexualized, mistreated in life and portrayed in pornography, if they applied it to their mother, sister or daughter. Men seem to have a kind of respect for these women and a non-sexual relationship must also help. However something else is needed and I hope any men reading can find that one day to help form a new way of thinking. A way of thinking that has for some, existed since Adam and Eve.
The argument for non-autonomous organising Nai Brooks has her say on autonomy movement forgets how it is perceived. More worryingly, it forgets that some people will not educate themselves and that feminism needs to bring the battle of ideas to these people. What happens on our campus when we fail to bring people the battle of ideas? When the conservative right gained a majority in the SRC, Tom Lee was appointed Sexual Harassment Officer (Ah hell, who am I to judge? When chatting about my love life, he offered to be my
change. Topics that have a gendered aspect are relegated to “women’s issues” (arguably because autonomous organizing has reinforced this) and are only thrown token mentions on the media fringes. Usually, these mentions are to the tune of “Is feminism dead?” – if they have to keep asking, I would suggest that they have their answer. But it is not the political debates on the fringes that have the impetus to make great change. Climate change was put
I have never heard something so ridiculous as the assumption that women will always support other women and that men are the enemy.
‘interim solution’. What a top bloke). When a St John’s woman is hospitalized as a direct result of untamed peer pressure, she is bullied out. Women’s Honi gets hate mail every year that is never engaged with or challenged. The need for the feminist battle of ideas has broader implications for policy
Over steaming cups of tea, my housemate and I chat about important things like hot men and autonomous organizing. I am a feminist. He is gay. We both think autonomy needs reconsidering. But I found his take on it an interesting one. I’m going to call him Babes, because he’s a massive one. Babes said that he did not choose to be gay. As such, what he hopes for most is the support of his friends and it is their support that lets him be who he is on the outside, not just on the inside. But Babes thinks that autonomous organizing undercuts his support network by excluding those same people, and closing off future friends who believe in his rights. In contrast, he said that the women’s collective chooses to segregate itself. That us hairy ladies (sometimes I get lazy, ok) head down to our lair to hate men. And love women. Because we all must be lesbians too. I found it interesting. On the one hand, because Babes and I need to have long chats about what feminism is. On the other hand, because sometimes the feminist
front and center, and in return it has achieved a price on carbon. Queer rights are now at the heart of political battle, and so the movement towards equal marriage seems inevitable. Where, feminism, are you? Maybe, just maybe, feminism has pushed itself to the fringes because it is
more concerned with political correctness than political change. Autonomy does not result in more convictions for sexual assault offenders. Autonomy does not achieve media labeling of photo-shopped bodies. Autonomy does not free you sexually and free you from slut naming. What autonomy does do is lose feminist activists. Every battle for change needs every person on board. I have never heard something so ridiculous as the assumption that women will always support other women and that men are the enemy. Too softly it is trumpeted that feminism does not just benefit women and men can be feminists too. Like most things, autonomous organizing does not have to be all or nothing. If we applied that logic to our clothes, Australia would be a nudist colony in summer and full of Michelin men in winter. But as long as autonomous organizing attempts to infiltrate all areas of feminist organizing I will fight against it. Because it fails to acknowledge the broad church that is feminism. And I will never segregate my Church.
Tom McClintock is all for a non-autonimous Women’s Edition of Honi I’m very glad that the Women’s Collective has decided to make the Women’s issue of Honi Soit a nonautonomous publication this year. By all accounts, it was an issue that caused no shortage of division internally, but the decision is a brave one that reflects a willingness to ensure the visibility of a cause that is eternally relevant. Autonomy is by no means a simple issue and the practice still commands a place in the Collective’s activities, however, I feel that as a blanket policy it can be damaging to the movement. It has been argued that the primary goal of this issue is to ensure the place of women in publicly available discourses such as print media and that any inclusion of men fundamentally undermines that goal. With all due respect, I disagree. Firstly, it must be made clear, that while closely related, the maintenance
of autonomous spaces and activities is a different issue to the exclusion of men from any participation in the movement. The former is a rational riposte to the objective circumstances that women face on campus, the latter is cutting off your nose to spite your face. As long as the deplorably high rates of sexual abuse and discriminatory behaviour persist on campus, the women of Sydney University deserve spaces in which they feel safe. However, there seems to be something of a slippery slope fallacy perpetuated within the debate, that if they were to give any ground in areas like contributions to Honi Soit, then soon those autonomous spaces, indeed, the very core of the Feminist movement on campus would soon be overrun by men wanting to control and define its direction. I would argue that this is untrue as it is clear that the parameters
for the participation of male-identifying persons in Honi are very strict and ultimately the autonomous editing process ensures that women are still setting the agenda for the edition and the movement in general. Indeed, involving men who believe as wholeheartedly in the movement as its female members can only strengthen its resolve and ability to respond to the threat of encroachment. What is really at stake in this instance is the continued visibility of the Feminist movement. Ultimately, the misconception that has done the most damage to the movement in recent years is the idea that the battle has been won, and there is nothing left to do. If the movement chooses to remain autonomous without compromise, then it also chooses to remain inward looking and deny itself the chance to genuinely change the agenda. Autonomy
without compromise is based on the misconception that the goal of ensuring the place of women in public debate is a mutually exclusive goal from bringing a wider cross section of the community along with the movement. This is untrue, and if the movement is to take back the central position it once enjoyed it needs to increase its base of stakeholders. So bravo to the Collective for opening the debate to all those who wish to participate. Continue to defend your autonomy where it is in confluence with your safety and your ability to express views important to the feminist movement, but remember that some vitally important contributions could well come from male identifying persons.
Words with Friends Can men be feminists? Is it really a boys’ club out there? Julia Readdett and Xiaoran Shi hit the streets to find out whether men can use the F-word. Brooke Architecture I “Well, yes, I think they can. People who think that they can’t are somewhat supporting the people who don’t believe in equal rights for women.”
“I’m a member of Women “If men support women’s in Engineering. I joined for the free ticket, but stayed rights, they will put this for the women. It’s an equality thing into practice in their own lives.” and men are half the equation. I haven’t met any feminists, male or female.”
Rhys JD II
“Yeah, I would personally consider myself a feminist, but I also think there is a big role for women to play in deciding whether men can be feminists.”
Lachlan, Science II
Lucy, Arts II
Allie, B Nursing II
“Women can’t do it well enough, so... just kidding. I think the suggestion that men can’t is kind of gross. The idea that all men think that women all need to be oppressed - that’s just wrong, that’s just sexist.”
“Yes, they can be in the same way that if you’re white, you can be against racism.”
“Not really, I think men think they should be the dominant character, that they should have all the power, make all the money. At a time like that, a lot more men are becoming more feminist, but I still think a majority of men would not be.”
Liberating Feminism: Making Our History Count Jozefa Sobski reflects on the past and looks to the future
W hen Germaine Greer said “we
used to call it women’s liberation” at the March 4th Opera Theatre event: The F-Word, those of us who were sitting in our fifth and sixth decades, sighed with relief and recognition. That was, what it was about: liberation.
During the height of women’s liberation in Sydney, you talked about the sisterhood and the struggle. You did not employ weasel words. Sisterhood was powerful. Women could do anything. You acted in solidarity and sisterhood. These were strong symbols of a unified
“There were strong symbols of a unified social movement, a movement to change society and all its structures” For us in the seventies, feminism as a political theory had no potency. It belonged to the era of the suffragettes. It had been loaded down with respectability, although not really universal acceptance. There were some who really were not clear about its meaning, sometimes looking to Simone de Beauvoir and, at other times, Betty Friedan or even Virginia Woolf.
social movement, a movement to change society and all its structures. Naomi Wolf’s contribution to the same afternoon of “feminist debate” was to critique various theoretical feminisms as having led to a barren track. Ideas were stale and energy levels were flat. Listening to her, we felt we had aged and exhausted our activisms and political passions. She attributed some of this state of affairs, however, to
western feminism’s inadequate cultural frame. She argued that we needed to reclaim Mary Wollstonecraft’s so called Enlightenment feminism. We used to call it liberal feminism. It was reformist, not revolutionary in its intent. Wolf invested this feminism with a new potency and saw it as an important intellectual antecedent. She presented Enlightenment feminism as “fresh, coherent and exciting”. (Mary Wollstonecraft. 1759-1797) For the old sisterhood in the elevated seats, still clutching at liberation, this seemed like trying to blast us back to the past in quest of some common ground with middle- eastern democracy movements. “This is where the new political energy lies”, argued Wolf and we needed to construct a feminism which could relate to these movements. We did not disagree about making these connections, but we could not see how Wollstonecraft would give us these. Many of us would have returned home after The F-Word feeling like we were missing the boat, stuck on a barren track. What we could have and should have done instead was to challenge the critique. Go back to some of those fantastic women’s liberation tracts, those early tabloids like MeJane and Mabel; those journals like Refractory Girl and
to get married we’re out to trap a man and if we don’t we’re unnatural and because we still can’t get an adequate safe contraceptive but men can walk on the moon and if we can’t cope or don’t want a pregnancy we’re made to feel guilty about abortion and…for lots and lots of other reasons [we] are part of the women’s liberation movement…if you’re a woman there’s room for you too.” Yes, much has changed, but for some women little has changed and so much still needs to be done. Activism finds new forms. We see no lack of energy or cultural diversity among young women. Many of them apply a revolutionary feminist analysis to their daily lives and try to assert their agency in relationships or in the workplace or wherever. They use social media to spread the word and debate the issues. As an old women’s liberationist, what I experience among some women is a gap in knowledge about past struggles. So, some of what I do as a community activist is to volunteer my time to preserve the records of this liberation past and earlier feminist struggles at Jessie Street National Women’s Library. It was founded in 1989 and survives because of the dedication and commitment of women, of feminists and male and female partners.
“Here you may look at the more than 2000 posters, which represent almost every campaign and tell a story of women’s oppression and struggle” Scarlet Woman and see the feminism of women’s liberation in its historical context, with its revolutionary message. We would have of course recognized that much has changed since Joyce Stevens of Sydney Women’s Liberation wrote in International Women’s Year, 1975: “Because [our] work is never done and underpaid or boring or repetitious and we’re the first to get the sack and what we look like is more important than what we do and if we get raped it’s our fault and if we get bashed we must have provoked it and if we raise our voices we’re nagging bitches and if we enjoy sex we’re nymphos and if we don’t we’re frigid and if we love women it’s because we can’t get a “real” man and if we ask our doctor too many questions we’re neurotic and/or pushy and if we expect community care for children we’re selfish and if we stand up for our rights we’re aggressive and “unfeminine” and if we don’t we’re typical weak females and if we want
Here you can find MeJane, the newspaper of early Sydney Women’s Liberation and the hundreds of newsletters which this collective and others produced to organize campaigns, coordinate action and communicate to a wider women’s audience. Here you may look at the more than 2000 posters, which represent almost every campaign and tell a story of women’s oppression and struggle. A great proportion of the book collection is non-fiction, dealing with the multitude of women’s issues over time to this day. Within the collection is cradled the history of generations of activists on abortion, contraception, anti-discrimination law, equal pay, child care, rape, domestic violence, and the list goes on. If you want to understand better the power of true sisterhood, visit the library and do some serious reading. Support its important work in preserving this political heritage and make this history count.
Feminism How To Be a Feminist Without Really Trying Melanie Jayne explains feminism to the closed-minded
There’s no one way to succeed
as a feminist. Basically, all you have to do is believe in the equal rights and freedoms of women. Sounds pretty easy, huh? Well, it totally is! Don’t worry about rushing to the department store to purchase your feminist uniform. No need to ask your hairdresser for the feminist haircut. That’s right: the lady with the buzz cut who hasn’t shaved her legs for the past three years is equally as important to the feminist movement as the girl who loves to wear three inch stiletto heels and put her breasts on display. If being a feminist is so straightforward then, why exactly is the concept of
being a ‘bad feminist’ one that often shows up rudely uninvited? What’s most unfortunate, however, is this experience of being labelled as such is almost always either self-inflicted or brought upon by fellow women. Not too long ago, I was having a discussion with my BFFFF’s (best fellow female feminist friends) about what we wanted to do with the rest of our lives. While many of us revelled in our career aspirations, one particular friend of mine said that all she hoped for was to be a stay at home mother. The responses we had to one another were intriguing: those who had professional aspirations were immediately applauded for their ambition. My other friend, however, who had few desires outside of raising a family, was met with indifference, with others lamenting her for not aiming to do ‘something more’ with her life. It may have been well enough to simply say, ‘That’s it? That’s all you want to do? The feminist movement has delivered all these new freedoms and opportunities to your doorstep, and you don’t even want to leave
the house to pick them up?’ Indeed, it immediately became apparent that this was a terrible case of female-fuelled misogyny. She was a ‘bad feminist.’ The hypocrisy of this lies in that she was being encouraged to conform to a particular ideal of woman; this being one of the many mindsets that brought about the genesis of the feminist movement. However, instead of being forcibly confined to a role within the home, she was being told to step outside. It’s incredibly unfortunate when women unjustifiably come under the scrutiny of other women because she may not adhere to their particular mould of an empowered female. If the title of this article brought you here because you’ve been searching for a manual on how to be a proper feminist, prepare to be disappointed: because it doesn’t exist. Indeed, the contemporary homemaker is too often viewed as being oxymoronic to the ideology of feminism, as are workers in the fields of beauty, sex and so on. People, feminists or otherwise, are at liberty to express their distaste towards a stripper, or a prostitute as we are with any vocational occupation. It’s another matter, however, to condemn women who have happily chosen this particular job and remain satisfied with this professional choice. One may not understand it or re-
spect it, but the least you can do is accept it. For all the thousands upon thousands of words that have been written and spoken about feminism and its innumerable strands, the underlying message of this habitually misconstrued belief system is too often forgotten: feminism is about having the ability to make your own decisions. Throughout time, women have constantly been placed under the struggle to live up to the standards of the rest of society, so we shouldn’t place the same burden on one another. Feminism will accept any and every type of woman. To the woman who freely portrays sexual subject matter for the camera, you’re one of us. To the woman who eagerly chooses to raise a family fulltime, you’re just as entitled to identify as a feminist as the woman who earns a six-figure salary. Labelling a particular type of woman as ‘anti-feminist’ is counterproductive. Feminism is not an exclusionary brand: homemakers, executives, models and moguls, you’re all welcome. There is no set criterion for being a woman, because that’s exactly what feminism aims to disable.
What radical feminism actually is, actually Louise Carey-White tells it how it is
am thrilled that one of the objectives of this edition of Honi is to shed some light on the diversity of feminism. Feminism is not divided into those who are ‘sensible’ and those who are not, those who shave and those who don’t – this common misconception could not be further from the truth. Feminism is a much broader menu offering a plethora of liberal, radical, Marxist, sex-positive, male, lesbian, lipstick, eco and religious persuasions. And this is just a small sampling of a very exciting and delicious selection! From the seemingly endless array of feminist positions, I would put myself in the radical category. Radical feminism seems to me to be the most misrepresented of an already misunderstood lot. The term ‘radical’ has a nasty flavour to it. Some find it unpalatably close to an uncomfortable amount of social change, and with a distinct whiff of extremism. It is a mistake made even by some of my fellow feminists, with less refined palates. In my time I have heard we are “crazy ‘70s bra-burners” who are a “vocal minority” desiring absolute power over men. As well as these, the usual suspects are: why do those radical bitches hate men? Why do they want domination, and not equality? Why do they think every man is a rapist? I should probably just glue my hand to my forehead - it seems to spend a lot of time there already.
Some clarifications are in order, methinks, so we can all engage in ideological discussions in a sound way, and my hand can get the blood flowing back into it. The terms ‘liberal’ and ‘radical’ are categories used to describe feminists, anarchists, socialists (insert ideology of choice here) in terms of the extent of the change they wish to elicit. Liberals want to change things whilst working within the existing framework or structures that underlie society, theory, or economy (insert context of choice here). For feminism, this means getting women into positions of political and corporate power, into the workforce and all on an equal salary. Radicals, on the other hand, believe that these sorts of changes can only come about if we replace, or alter significantly, the underlying framework or structure of the society, theory or economy. In a feminist context, radicals argue that to get women into an equal number of powerful positions with the same wage is a good start but it does not go far enough to properly liberate ourselves from patriarchy, because those positions of power are themselves gendered, and for a woman to occupy them would amount to a denial of femininity; to becoming a man. Exactly what form this extensive change will take is heavily debated among radical feminists. Sure, this means a fuckload of change. Many people will be uncomfortable
with this amount of change and/or the kind of changes it entails. It won’t be easy, but ‘difficult’ is not a synonym of ‘impossible’, nor is it a good excuse when equality between human beings is at stake. Using this definition, there is nothing extremist about radial feminism. There is nothing that necessarily suggests misandry (man-hating, as opposed to misogyny) about it. There is nothing about burning bras – and while I’m on the topic of dispelling myths, there was never any bra burning as a mass public demonstration, despite being planned on some US college campuses. Word.
hope that you are left with the pleasant aftertaste of making an informed opinion of radical feminism. I’ve saved my most provocative claim for last: it is SO MUCH better than pistachio.
A famous radical was Andrea Dworkin, controversial in feminism for saying that all men have the innate potential to rape. I hope you take from this that we don’t join her in pouring milk into a bowl of Teste-Os each morning. I
Cross-Cultural Feminism Hijab: the debated intersection of feminism and Islam by Zainab “Your husband makes you wear that, right?” While I am thankful the majority of people in places like Sydney University have more inteligence than to make this assumption, you’d be surprised how often I have been asked this … even when I was single. And when I used to say I was not married, the next question was if my father made me wear it. Like many Muslim women around the world, I choose to wear the hijab, a simple coverage from head to shoulder, excluding the face, but more so a code of dress, etiquette and behaviour related to modesty; in physical and non-physical forms. It is a part of Islamic code of practice placed upon a Muslim. Yes, Muslim, both male and female Muslims, though the requirements maintain different forms for each gender, but that’s not what this article is about. Back to my quote, what I am examining here is the notion of the hijab as a tool of gender oppression. In short: it is not. When a girl decides to wear it, it is not. When her family is proud of her for wearing it when she made that decision without persuasion from anyone other than herself, it is not. When the government forces all women above a certain age to wear it lest they be punished, it’s hard to find feminists who argue that it is not a tool of oppression. Islamically, we believe that it is wrong to force a woman to wear the hijab against her will, though most of us agree it is
right for her to wear it. So in short, it is not. But there is more to it: it is not a tool of gender oppression when the circumstances allow the woman to have a choice. Not all parts of the world allow a choice. Most notoriously, Saudi Arabia enforces women to wear the niqab (which covers everything except her eyes), Iran also enforces the chador (a cultural means of dress similar to hijab, with more coverage), but at the other end of the spectrum, France does not allow the niqab and, having successfully outlawed it in public schools, is considering banning the hijab in all public spaces. All these circumstances have feminists worldwide protesting against all scenarios. So besides the countries that enforce legislation ordering women to (or not to) cover in public at all times, the majority of Muslim women around the world are given a choice. Speak to most women wearing it in Australia and they will admit that it was their own decision to do so. Tool of oppression? I think not. A vastly stereotyped form of worship? Definitely, especially when the media gets involved.
What I am examining here is the notion of the hijab as a tool of gender oppression. In short: it is not
But there is more to it than this. There is an area where feminism and Islam collaborate. They are Muslim
Western Feminism v Non-Western Feminism
feminists feel that these stereotypes are an unfair ‘imperialist’ dismissal of not only minority cultures but of the women within them – regarded by the West as subjugated and unable to help themselves. Feminists from non-Western cultures are seeking to reshape the feminist debate, and to debunk some of the myths surrounding the status of non-Western women.
When one considers feminism in its most basic format, she or he may not realise there are different types of feminism, and that not every woman around the world identifies with one type, if in fact they do identify with feminism at all. This becomes problematic when there is one, dominating category of feminism, that seeks to be a universal feminism for all women – but on its own terms. Western feminism (so named as it was developed in the Western powers of Europe and North America) is under increasing scrutiny from feminists and scholars from other cultures for its universalist approach to the feminist cause, which many scholars in minority cultures feel disregards a woman’s cultural background and is insensitive to her particular situation. Indeed, many stereotypes exist within these different cultures regarding their attitudes to women, and while there are indeed human rights abuses against women that exist within a cultural context, these types of abuses exist in the West as well, and many non-Western
A quote that really stood out to me when thinking about this issue is one by Michel de Montaigne – a French Renaissance writer: ‘Each man calls barbarism whatever is not his own practice’. It is indeed true that when each of us regards cultures we are not familiar with – be they Middle Eastern, African, Asian, or typically ‘Australian’ (whatever one regards that to be) – there are elements within these cultures that may make us uncomfortable, that we may even dislike greatly. Perhaps one of the most obvious examples of this is Islamic culture, and several of the values and traditions it prioritises – particularly in regards to women – that can leave people uncomfortable. Azizah Al-Hibri is a Professor of Law at the University of Richmond, Virginia, she is also
By Shelley Smith
feminists, a categorisation assumed to be non-existent in the wide, diverse, group called ‘feminists’. This may be because there are major debates inside and outside the feminist community that religion does not fit with feminism. That to follow most religions, you cannot be considered a ‘real’ feminist. Not to mention the theory that most religions are an institutionalised means of gender oppression. But that’s another story.
The hijab is a wide area of debate, which has divided Muslim feminists (and even non-Muslim feminists) into two different strains of logic: pro-hijab, and anti-hijab. Both have valid arguments. The pro-hijab feminists argue that due to its physical coverage, the hijab in itself is an effective means of deterring male gaze (and therefore by default deterring sexual objectification of the woman), and potentially generating more respect from our Muslim and non-Muslim male counterparts. I, and many women I have known were delighted to realise that wearing the hijab led to male colleagues and fellow students to focus on their intellect, capabilities and opinions, rather than their physique. I’ve found this is often the case too for women (regardless of religion) who dressed modestly but did not cover their hair.
Anti-hijab Muslim (and non-Muslim) feminists argue that the hijab is both Muslim and a feminist. Writing on the subject of women’s rights in Islamic society, she details one of the basic principles of Qur’anic verse, that Islam is not in essence an ‘exclusive’ or ‘oppressive’ religion, but that in actual fact it ‘celebrates diversity’, with all Muslims – men and women - guaranteed freedom of conscience. She goes on to say that ‘A true feminist call to reform in Muslim countries or among Muslim immigrants must respect their religious and cultural sentiments.’ So next time you see a woman wearing the hijab or niqab, consider for a moment that it may actually have been her choice, and not a result of thousands of years of patriarchy burned into her subconscious. After all, there are sectors of every society that are oppressive and patriarchal, even when the basic principles of that society preach otherwise. Islam is no different.
Western feminism has often sought to be the voice for these women, speaking about their situations and hardships ... without consulting the women in question at all.
Similarly in an African context, feminist scholars there are urging an overhaul of the attitude Western feminists have towards African women. Obioma Nnaemeka is one such scholar. Within her writings, she discusses the way Western feminism has often sought to
another manifestation of male oppression. That in doing so, a woman is bowing to desires of her male counterparts and sacrificing her autonomy—which interestingly is also the argument against scanty clothing such as sleeveless shirts, miniskirts, shorts, midriff tops etc. Some also argue that the hijab may only be a misguided interpretation of the Qur’an in areas related to modestly. The vast majority on both sides of the debate agree that regardless of its effect, the hijab should never become enshrined in legislation. Despite this, all these issues across all these different perspectives (the religious, non-religious, feminist, non-feminist, pro-Islam, anti-Islam, pro-hijab, anti-hijab, categories) spark major debates with one another. So my humble hair cover is more than the quaint piece of cloth it first appears. This article, which is nearing the end, isn’t about asserting my views about which views are correct; I have my opinions, you have yours. In the end, when it comes to all forms of human ideas and behaviours, ‘facts’ are an extraordinarily difficult variable to find, let alone utilise. Debates rage in virtually every area of life. The debate to wear/not wear a hijab is an example. More expansively, to be/not be a feminist, is another, adding onto that, the decision to use/not use the label ‘feminist’ is yet another. To confuse matters, there is no right or wrong. And as Nietzsche said “all things are subject to interpretation”. be the voice for these women, speaking about their situations and hardships – especially during the European colonisation of Africa - without consulting the women in question at all. ‘[Early] works on women and imperialism fail to include in any meaningful way the real victims of imperialism – colonised women.’ Nnaemeka argues for greater inclusion of the voices of African women within feminist discourse, as the current dominating notion of feminism in the West cannot possibly advocate for real change for women within marginalised communities without first consulting the women directly affected. Each woman around the world is different, with a different life situation and different goals. Yet when we consider women in both Western and nonWestern cultures, we really are similar in the sense that we all want security, freedom of choice, and above all, a future that we can control. Keeping these things in mind however, a woman’s culture, should she choose to identify with it, must be respected. We must be advocates for a feminism that considers the myriad of cultures women may identify with, and reach the women at the heart of these cultures – what do they want, need, and believe in? What do they think of when they consider feminism, and how does it fit/not fit within their lives? Only then will the feminist movement be able to fully reach the diversity of cultures in the world, and the women within them.
Cross-Cultural Feminism BAN THE BURQA?
Omayma Mohamed tackles the global debate The latest controversial issue in the volatile post- September 11th atmosphere, stirring up heated debate in the Western world has been in relation to proposals to ban the burqa, a faceveil worn by Muslim women, particularly in European countries. The first country to pass this law and impose it is France (which contains the largest Muslim population in Europe), with Belgium and Italy set to follow in their footsteps. As a Muslim woman in Australia I have made the invaluable choice to wear the hijab and gained an increased sense of pride, confidence and strength of identity as a result. The fears plaguing our leaders that the burqa presents a threat to national security due to identification issues has inevitably been raised and unfounded claims that it is oppressive, “a new form of enslavement,” anti-feminist and un-Australian have also been made. I am frankly astounded, frustrated and utterly unconvinced with the arguments and narrowminded attitudes that have been displayed. But more than anything else, I am deeply disturbed at the possibility that the injustices and contradictions that this ban presents could be accepted within a society that prides itself on democratic values and the determination to provide equality and a “fair go” for all.
widely held misconception that it demeans and degrades women, making them inferior to men in Islam. French President Nicolas Sarkozy stated “It will not be welcome on the territory of the French Republic.” His party leader, Jean-Francois Cope, continues, “Veils that cover a woman’s entire face are a violation of individual liberty and a negation of one’s identity and that of others in a public milieu.” Berengere Poletti, an MP from Mr Sarkozy’s centre-right UMP party, said women in full veils wore “a sign of alienation on their faces” and had to be “liberated”. Andre Gerin of the Communist opposition compared the veil to “a walking coffin, a muzzle”. While it is understandable for people to be confronted by the burqa on sight, especially for those who are unfamiliar with it, the foundations for these claims are extremely shaky and based on extreme circumstances and mislead-
Muslim women are told that their dress code oppresses them, they are labelled as helpless and weak - but laws like this only succeed in abolishing our freedom and right to express ourselves how WE see fit”
I believe that a significant contribution to the general public’s deterrence to the burqa is a lack of understanding and knowledge of its purpose and what it truly represents to the women who wear it. It is the generalised claims and assumptions made on behalf of these individuals that has led to the
Feminism in Sri Lanka Sharanya Sekaram combats sexism cross-culturally Sri Lanka is often seen as a land of confusion when it comes to modernism, feminists and other such ‘revolutions’. On one hand you have the privileged crowd who live in the capital of Colombo, go to English speaking schools and who’s parents hold very high and esteemed positions. The same group is the ‘high society’ of the nation; most of the women here are outspoken, respected, they drink. We have lesbians, and a woman running the show is not unusual. This is not to say that sexism doesn’t’ rage - but it’s the simpler kind of bad jokes, one idiot who drives you crazy and the auntie’s gossip of “god child don’t know what the husband is doing, letting her behave like this.” In my law school however, I get to interact with another sphere of society.
ing conclusions that prevent a balanced and wholesome view. This view stems from the belief that women have been forced to wear this garment by male family members who, as a result of pure ignorance, misunderstand its purpose and role in Islam which is a concerning reality for some women. However, these disastrous impacts are not shared by the majority of women
While most of these women are educated, they prefer to hand any reigns over to a man. Any student club or society sees men at the helm, and discussions of feminism and other things is often met with reactions of “well but, we have a culture that is different.” It took me nearly six months, but with the support of a like-minded lecturer and a few other female students, we launched weekly forum meetings on feminism and encouraged everyone interested to attend. Things struggled on and then a month ago my lecturer took me aside. She has written a play called “Suba,” a very culture conscious story of one girl’s attempt to fight this corrupt world which brings up issues of domestic violence, sexual harassment in the workplace and sex trafficking. She wanted me to pull together a cast and direct a show, to raise awareness of these issues. The clincher was, the whole thing needed to be done in a matter of 3 weeks. This was because Colombo has a limited number of good theaters and in order to perform in one we had to accept the date that was available to us.
who choose to wear the burqa in the Western world. The burqa and the hijab are both designed to liberate and empower women by preventing them from being objectified, manipulated and judged solely by their appearance, as was common some 7000 years ago in the period when Islam was first established. In an attempt to give women equal opportunity in which their intellect, moral standards and personalities were valued and prized above all else, it became obligatory on them to cover up in the Holy Quran. In this way, the burqa is actually feminist; it is not a male creation that subjugates women and forces them to conform. Rather, it is an ideology that treasures women who are likened to pearls in Islam. While this is an old fashioned way of thinking, the pressures of body image can be seen in a modern society where eating disorders have befallen many young women with life changing results. Also, the challenge and sacrifice that the burqa and hijab present, as acknowledged in Islam, can heighten Muslim women’s spiritual connection with their Creator, and increase their sense of inner strength and resilience. Many people will still find this dress code much too extreme and different for their taste, and they are free to do so. However, it is imperative that this does not impede on Muslim women’s right to dress whichever way they wish and act on their beliefs and values. They should not need the approval of others to do so, nor ask for their permission. Muslim women are told that their dress code oppresses them, they are labelled as helpless and weak - but laws like this only succeed in abolishing our freedom and right to express ourselves how WE see fit, not by other people’s standards. Laws like this only take our voices away, victimise us and
Somewhat wearily, we managed to get a cast together. The first hurdle was hit when one of the guys walked out in the middle of practice. We had two weeks to go, he had only shown up for one rehearsal and now, when I was attempting to block out this scene, he insisted on fooling around and behaving like a distracted child. Two others girls ran after him and when they came back they looked terribly uncomfortable. They stuttered and mumbled and eventually told me that he had said, he didn’t take kindly to being ‘bossed about by a bloody woman’ and why couldn’t we get a male director. How refreshingly sexist. The next day I gathered the cast and told them that they needed to accept that this kind of attitude was outdated ad frankly ridiculous. Most of the women were furious that such a comment had been made and I must say a several of the men as well. I recast his part without a single thought. I did however have one very positive experience. Part of the play was a movement depicting a brothel scene, which showed the brothel ‘madam’, and one
impose further restrictions upon a group who already represent a minority in the Western world. Concerns about security in response to threats of terrorist activity or attacks were also raised by governments proposing this ban. While they are legitimate in regards to situations involving the confirmation of identity at places such as the bank, a courtroom and all other legal necessities for the face to be uncovered, a full ban of the burqa worn in all public places is in no way the appropriate response to the measures that need to be taken to ensure national security. Islamic law requires its followers to abide by the laws of the country they live in as long as they do not coincide with their religious requirements- a more reasonable approach to this issue being the employment of a law requiring women to remove their face veil ONLY in situations where identification is required. The level of hypocrisy and injustice that these political and social changes represent is undeniable, and the French government’s claims that this ban is in the name of democracy and equality is completely contradictory and fundamentally wrong. Furthermore, freedom is an extremely personal concept because it applies to every individual differently. This law treats these women as a singular group, rather than individuals who think and feel differently. Freedom, in its very essence, cannot be dictated or selective in how it is applied. The actions of these governments defeat the purpose of the very values they claim to be fighting for.
of the girls being bought. I then choreographed a movement with 2 people, showing the man forcing himself on to the girl. Initially it was awkward but as we proceeded it really began to take shape. Yesterday the main guy in the scene came up to me and told me that being a part of this production had really opened his eyes to the suffering that people go through. He said that he was disgusted by the guys who didn’t accept my authority because I was a woman and that my gender shouldn’t even play a role in that case. He now walks around with large ‘This is what a feminist looks like’ badge on his bag and is helping me organize the ‘reclaim the night’ rally this year. The point being, sometimes after a while the same responses to the same sexist comments can get you down. You really begin to question whether things can change, and whether there is a point. And then something positive happens and you are reminded that even if what you have done has changed the views of just ONE person, then you have made an impact and it’s all worth it!
Violence Against Women Why Rape Jokes Are Not Funny by Emily Rayers
I’m probably preaching to the converted here because I doubt too many of the perpetrators of rape culture are likely to pick up a copy of Women’s Honi, but for next time you feel like calling someone out on their choice of vocabulary, perhaps this may serve as a useful resource. Almost daily on campus I hear trivialization of, and jokes about rape and sexual assault. Rape jokes are not funny, and rape jokes are never appropriate in the public arena. I’ve summarised my issues with rape ‘jokes’ into three points: 1. I have never actually heard a rape comment that qualifies as funny; 2. In the earshot of a survivor, rape comments are a trigger; and 3. In the earshot of a rapist or potential rapist, rape comments are validating.
The first is fairly self-explanatory. There are simply no funny jokes about rape. There is no comparison to rape that has ever made me chuckle. Rape is only anywhere close to funny if you have lived a privileged life in which nobody you know has been assaulted (or at least hasn’t told you), a life in which rape is a thing that happens to people that don’t exist, or to people that deserved it, in a far off land that has nothing to do with you. An exception of course is that some rape survivors (myself included) find joking about their attack, in safe spaces, a useful tool in dealing with the experience; but this is entirely personal preference and not relevant to the public arena that is uni, so I won’t go into any depth about it. The second is often met by the response “I would never tell a rape joke, or make a rape comparison, in front of a survivor”. But, you know what? We don’t look all that different from you. When I was attacked, I didn’t acquire a neon sign proclaiming “rape victim”. A survey carried out among universities in Sydney suggests that up to 17% of female students have experienced sexual assault*. If you have used rape inappropriately in earshot of more than five or six people at uni, chances are you have done so in front of a survivor. And now that you have trivialized rape in front of that person, chances are that they’re not going to be inspired by your compassion and tell you about that experience. I have plenty of male acquaintances, many of whom I have actually called out on their jokes, who make this claim even after discussion of the facts. I could hardly make it more obvious that I am personally distressed without screaming ‘I was raped’ to their faces and still they defend their right to use the word whichever way they please. The other common response is “you can’t expect the world to censor itself just because you are offended’. In this case I think we need to consider the meaning of the word trigger. When I say I am triggered, I do not mean your comment simply reminded me that I’m a rape victim and I felt a little affronted by you trivializing that experience. When survivors are triggered, to some variable degree we re-experience the assault. My heart seems to stop, then suddenly tries to catch up, beating so hard that I can hear the throbbing in my head. My cheekbones ache where they were smashed against the pavement and the back of my head tingles where it hit the tarmac. I can feel his forearm against my neck, his hot breath against my cheek and his gentle, mind-fucking touch between my legs. It may only be a few seconds but it’s a horrible, horrible few seconds. So when you say you shouldn’t have to censor yourself, what I’m hearing is that I don’t have the right to walk around my own university safe in the knowledge that I won’t have to relive the worst experience of my life. Finally, and this is a hard one to convince people of, even if you know your comment does not mean you condone rape, the people around you do not. There is not a huge amount of data to back the claim but it is often suggested in criminal profiling that rapists genuinely believe that all men rape; they were just the unlucky ones that got caught. They actually believe that every man is out there raping his wife/ girlfriend/people on the street and are just keeping it quiet more effectively. So, while to you, making a rape joke or comparison is far from condoning actual, real life rape; to the people who are actually going to commit these crimes, your comment is reassurance that what they are thinking and doing is normal and socially acceptable. Next time your exam ‘rapes’ you, have some consideration for your surroundings. Your experience of the test is in no way comparable to something that devastates the lives of so many people. Please let me go to uni for a day without reminding me of the trauma that that bastard left me with. *The Talk About It Survey
Artwork by: Madeleine Clark
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Violence Against Women
COLLEGE SEXISM: EXPOSED Anonymous. An investigation into the continued sexist culture within USyd campus colleges
His comment was effectively that our college was exempt from all this culture; we were not sexist at all and there were no reports of anything untoward and our residents were not involved in any of the sensationalized stories being told. This sort of response is so outrageous and unproductive that I don’t even know where to start. That the principal was actually that oblivious to the attitudes within his own college I find hard to believe; it was not unusual to see him wander through the JCR during big parties (albeit towards the beginning of the night) whilst girls shirts were being ripped off as they entered the room. If he really was oblivious you would only hope that he would turn to the residents of his college for confirmation before advertising his college as a safe haven from sexism; confirmation would not be what he received. Our principal was not alone in focusing his attention on damage minimization in the media as opposed to addressing the actual problems within college culture and doing anything worthwhile to improve them – it was the approach of almost all the colleges.
t’s kind of a tired topic but the sexism apparent in the university colleges is something that still needs to be considered; while steps have been made to improve the environment, they are more of a PR stunt than paradigm shift and there is a lot more that could be done. St Paul’s recently donated thousands of dollars to the White Ribbon Foundation, but have they changed anything within their own college? White Ribbon encourages men to take responsibility for preventing violence against women, but if Paul’s are not educating their own students, the worth of the action seems somewhat negated.
I often felt unsafe or pressured into behaviours...At the time I just put it down to college shenanigans, boys will be boys
I attended a residential college in 2009 when there was a flurry of articles surrounding sexism in the colleges published in the Sydney Morning Herald and elsewhere online. Whilst I really did enjoy my time there, and I did have a lot of fun, I often felt unsafe or pressured into behaviours and as a young, fairly unsure-of-herself girl I wasn’t really able to articulate these feelings until a year or two after leaving the college. I was pushed against walls and had my wrists held behind my head while guys kissed me; I once ended up back in my room with a guy, so drunk I wasn’t completely conscious, and left unsure the next morning of what had happened. At the time I just put it down to college shenanigans, boys will be boys, we’re all young and having fun. I felt responsible because I was the one that got drunk, and he was drunk too, so I couldn’t really hold him accountable for his actions. It’s an intense environment in college and in order to prevent situations like this there needs to be far more energy invested in educating the residents (potential victims and perpetrators of sexism and violence) on appropriate and inappropriate behaviour. By far the biggest effect of the media attention in the SMH was an intentional closing of ranks by the colleges. I remember the first students meeting after the stories were published and the strict advice handed out that none of us were to talk to the media; if anyone approached us asking questions related to sexism in the colleges we were to remain tight-lipped and refer them to the college principal for comment.
In terms of potentially constructive responses, a sort of sexual assault workshop was organized in the college after the scandals. To be fair, I think the session was surprisingly informative for the males in the college, though largely on the side of educating them on the legal implications rather than moral wrongs of sexual assault, which made it all seem a bit offtarget. It certainly missed the bat on discussing what can be assumed as consent, a particularly important aspect in college culture with the abundance of binge drinking and coerced sex; there is certainly a lot of confusion among students as to the appropriateness of convincing and persuading girls to do things they are not comfortable with if they eventually agree to the act. It was also only a one-off session in the entire year; I think the boys had forgotten all about it by the time we started drinking again that same evening. Similar sessions have been run since then, according to current residents, but even returning in following years to the college the general attitudes did not seem much different. Certainly the way boys spoke of their sexual conquests was with little regard for the girl involved, and in many cases boys described situations which could easily be considered assault without concern or remorse for their actions.
...the way boys spoke of their sexual conquests was with little regard for the girl involved, and in many cases boys described situations which could easily be considered assault
Artwork by: Madeleine Pfull
comment on something that upset you, some sort of vague statement would be made by the college administrative staff to the whole student body, met with groans and sighs and often whispers of who must have been the complainant. Aside from that, the social pressures of sticking by your peers and loving your college and hating every other college and especially the ‘Muggles’ somewhat forces you into submission in order to maintain an easy life. Despite having moved out years ago, I still feel the need to publish this anonymously because I simply do not want to deal with the fall out from old college friends and admin. I don’t want to talk to the principal on the phone about why my personal college experience didn’t live up to his ideal. I don’t want my college acquaintances to quiz me on when and where exactly I saw these problems and why I didn’t do anything at the time. And I shouldn’t have to. Something should have changed by now and it angers me no end that there is still a need to write articles on this. The noise may have died down for now but I have a hard time believing the culture in the colleges has changed to anywhere near the degree it needs to.
The fundamental problem in college culture, though, is the silencing of girls who have experienced assault, or seen assault, or felt otherwise discriminated against within their residential college. When I attended college there were minimal systems in place to allow reporting of unreasonable behavior, anonymously or otherwise. If you did go through the system and
Takeaway Skinny Cap, no sugar please Sam Wright investigates We live in an era of the skinny cap. My walk from the station of a morning detours past a building with large frontal glass windows. As the follow of human traffic walks past, there is a shared moment between all women on the walkway, a swift look left, yep, still looking fab, look straight, and continue. The female obsession with body image is not something one can avoid. It consumes our every decision; what to eat, wear, drink, how to exercise, which guy we qualify to approach at the bar. We are being fed mixed messages. When I was younger, Anthea Paul’s Real Girl’s Eat and Girlforce were my philosophy. These books would tell me I was beautiful, how to eat a balanced and healthy diet and the secrets to being happy with the unique body I was given. I loved reading these columns. I would share them with my friends. But, I didn’t believe any of it. I believed in the need to live up to people’s expectations. I voluntarily put myself through Body Attack at least 3 times a week. Don’t get me wrong; whose idea of a great afternoon isn’t by doing Jumping Jacks and falling into a line of yummy mummy’s who exhibit an abnormally taut physique, not to mention their shapely Lorna Jane outfit? But the undercurrent of my (perhaps not frequent enough) gym visits is clear; body image. Maggie Hamilton, author of What is Happening to Our Girls?, explored how the triggering signifiers of body image invade and circulate our conscious from a very young age. The culprit? Advertisers. Whilst this mightn’t sound like a new revelation to many, her findings are striking and intriguing, ‘Chances are, by the time they reach 18 months, 10 per cent of those object words (things they name) are brands. Around age 2, they’re asking for the product brand by name’. Hamilton suggests that whilst insecurities relating to body image seems to date back many generations, a cocktail of social pressure, the media, consumerism and increased competition has caused this generation of youths to be affected more so than years before. Hamilton stated, ‘In one study of girls aged 5 to 8 yrs, over a quarter of the 5 year old girls wished they were thinner’. Perhaps more striking was that ‘Just over half the girls aged 9 and 10 said they felt better about themselves when they were on a diet’.
It is no secret that children are sponges to any form of new information. Perhaps some of these comments were mere mockery of what they heard Mum talking about to Tracy from next door over a latte. But Hamilton, and other leading child psychologists suggest, perhaps not.
“The real issue here is living up to expectations.” There is much to say for the cult of the celebrity. Let’s be frank, Miranda Kerr had a better body than me during her pregnancy, let alone when she’s in full flight. I don’t care what the sweetheart tells us, you don’t get a figure like that from simply drinking peppermint tea, doing Pilates, frolicking at the beach and practising Buddhism. So girl after girl, woman after woman, will continue to register herself for countless gym classes, low carb diets, and heaven forbid, a 30 day money back guarantee trial of the Ab King Pro in the quest to get ‘the perfect body’. It seems ironic, in a society committed to achieving female empowerment and equality, to be strengthening one of the largest pressures on women. The real issue here is living up to expectations. It feels as though every single human being you interact with has expectations about how us women should look and present. First off, our employers. They expect us to be fit and healthy, polished and suave. Clients should focus on our promotional pitch, not on the colossal rear end struggling to remain within the seams of our slacks. Honestly girls, priorities. Secondly, friends. I have a fairly unique situation when it comes to the physical aesthetic and body shape of my inner circle of friends. With the removal of all bias, a particular handful of these beautiful ladies ‘have it all’. Michelle Bridges abs, elongated pegs and no sight of the Hello Helen arms we’ve all come to love. It is inevitable therefore, and only human, that I should wish to keep up. To maintain the standard and follow suit. Body image surfaces insecurities. Hamilton interviewed 18 yr old Whitney who identified her peers, although unintentionally, as being the main source of her body image insecurities, ‘There is a lot of pressure from other girls. You want to fit in and be noticed. You don’t want to be an outsider. It’s a lot about how you dress and how you look’.
And of course, may god help you, if you should fail to meet a Male’s expectations. I tell you what I love. I love how males can make a sport out of judging women, highlighting our biggest flaws. Apparently, if a female’s bosoms qualify as less than a C cup, she’s ‘flat chest-ed’ and almost manly. Interesting, I could have sworn the average female was a B cup? Oh well, guess that’s half the female population identifying with the wrong gender. I love how a woman is considered a novelty if she eats a much as a male at any one time, or decides she like to sit down, relax and pop open a beer (or two). Oh god, what kind of an uninhibited female pig would behave like this, right guys? If women ate healthily and exercised for the sole purpose of rejuvenated and well-being feelings then, perhaps, body image wouldn’t be such a problematic issue and hub of insecurity. Unfortunately, we are yet to discover such a utopian life, pointing the finger to constructed social norms and expectations as the perpetrator for body image. Like it or not, women have an innate desire to impress, however whether they act upon it is an entirely separate matter. Granted, some women don’t conform to such a reaction. They may adopt a laissez faire, come at me saturated fat attitude, but this is not to say that body image insecurities are not lingering backstage in their minds. We need to reassess our attitudes towards ourselves and our body image. We need to live in the moment. As Anthea Paul once tried to tell me, all we have is right now. Eat the foods you love, exercise for enjoyment and live for yourself. We are women, we are powerful, and we can call the shots. Use your body as a tool for empowerment, not a source of insecurity. And to all the people to try to get in your way, tell them where to stick it.
Michelle Reads Cosmo Michelle Garratt Sometimes, when I’m feeling a little masochistic, I like to read Cosmo. It’s a fun exercise in rilingmyself-up, on the off chance that I haven’t been feeling feminist rage-y enough lately. I’m also deeply curious to know things like “why guys love it when you bite your lip”. It was in this spirit that I picked up the March 2012 edition of US Cosmopolitan Magazine. If the headline “YOUR ORGASM GUARANTEED” didn’t do enough to pique my interest, Selena Gomez’s flirty pink frock and luminescent lip gloss sealed the deal. I prepared myself for a glorious sailboat journey into heteronormativity, gender essentialism, and probably a lot of evil patriarchy. Aye aye, capt’n. After flicking through about eight thousand pages of ads for Lancôme and Nine West, I found myself at the table of contents. Although some of the articles looked great (“The Butt Facial”), in the end I couldn’t control my thirteen-year-old girly urges, so I skipped right ahead to the sealed section (you knew I would), and got to reading “50 Sex Tips: Readers Share the Naughtiest Moves They Discovered All on Their Own”. “Naughtiest” was underlined, so I’m not going to lie, I had pretty high expectations. This isn’t to forget that Cosmo readers, those naughty gals, came up with these tips ALL ON THEIR OWN. To quote the article, “we knew you girls were little vixens, but DAAAAMN!” (emphasis my own).
“Your Orgasm Guaranteed” What I didn’t realise until I started to peruse the sealed section, is that these are THE MOST COMPLEX SEX TIPS EVER. Cosmo readers seem to enjoy the most bizarre, almost acrobatic sexcapades. Take, for example, sex tip 32: “My man sits on the floor with his back against the bed. Then I straddle him, lean back with my hands on the ground behind me, and get up in crab position.” That’s CRAB position, you just read – CRAB position. Tip 35 sounds like a recipe for chai tea: “Coat your tongue with honey, and take a sip of hot tea or water. Then go down on him until the honey dissolves”. And then “Sexy Hide-and-Seek” just sounds exhausting, really – although to be fair, I think they might be onto something with the phrase “ready or not, here I come”. Tip 42 is probably the best sex tip I’ve read in a while, possibly ever: “My husband and I role-play that we’re Craigslist roommates. We’ll sit on the couch and tell each other about our lives, pretending like we just met. Then when he goes to kiss me, I say, “I’m not sure we should me doing this. I mean, we are roommates.” It creates an incredibly sexy, illicit vibe.” Hot! I feel like Cosmo’s sealed section should win ALL the awards for being thoroughly delightful, but at the same time, weirdly removed from actual, like, sex. No doubt bled white by the constant pressure of providing fresh sex tips to the hungry, hungry Cosmo readers, the writers have actually just started trolling us. Whilst amusing, it’s not the best sex education. Ladies deserve better. Cosmopolitan Magazine continues to reign as queen of Women’s Media. This is a magazine that publishes articles like “HOT TIP: Let Your Man Take the Lead”, and has been known to dedicate more than one paragraph to Ryan Gosling’s abs (which are, admittedly, pretty great). This is a magazine that ACTUALLY ran a feminist campaign alongside articles on bikini season (a.k.a. how to feel shit about your body) and “pleasing your man” (a.k.a. how to privilege male sexual desires over your own). This is a magazine that draws you in with its pastel-frocked cover girl, then spits you out half an hour later in an angry little ball of feminist fury. True story. Image by Leah Jean
The Bechdel Test: Women In Film to other women about whatever they talk about. Well, that is what an entire industry still seems to believe and the result is a large majority of films catered to and about men. To be clear, the Bechdel Test is not meant to be a gauge of feminist intent – that really is not the point. Films can pass that don’t deal with “women themes” or while still being sexist in other ways. What the test highlights is that there is a strong, recurring pattern of a lack of realistic, interesting and relevant female characters on our screens. And that is a problem.
Melody Teh delves into the issues surrounding women’s representation within the film industry While listening to one of my favourite film podcasts discussing the movie Bridesmaids (2011) last year, I was made aware of the Bechdel Test which was a test popularised in 1985 by Alison Bechdel to determine the presence and quality of female representation in Hollywood films. There are three simple rules for a movie to pass this test: (1) it has to have at least two women in it, (2) who talk to each other, about (3) something besides a man. It seems easy enough to pass but when I actually started to apply the test to some mainstream films, it was quite surprising, even shocking, how many movies did not pass the Bechdel Test. To name a few popular and excellent films: thriller The Dark Knight, epic The Lord of the Rings, animated Toy Story,
rom-com When Harry Met Sally, kids film Home Alone and this list could and does go on. You might be like me who initially thought that there are plenty of examples contrary to the oft stated creed that “audiences don’t watch women.” It’s not like a few decades ago where women were rarely cast in positions of power because “nobody would take them seriously.” We are seeing more and more films and televisions shows of females in authoritative roles such as doctors, cops, action heroes and political figures. Although this is a positive and huge move forward, what the Bechdel Test exposes is a more subtle and insidious problem; audiences might not be against watching women anymore, but they apparently still don’t want to watch women talk
You might still question that there are plenty of women in leading or major supporting roles in movies you’ve seen? But apply the Bechdel test to the films and it becomes apparent that most of these women are still peripheral to the white, male leading role. You could argue that you shouldn’t use the Bechdel Test to judge films that are in specific genres or about certain topics such as action, war movies or romantic comedies where the plot is about a relationship BUT that’s the whole point. The fact we have to exclude whole lists of films precisely shows that there are not enough meaningful stories about women in Hollywood or that women are continuously portrayed as only being important or relevant in relation to
“The Bechdel Test exposes... [that]there are not enough meaningful stories about women in hollywood”
men. And why is this? The film industry continues to focus on male stories above females ones. This naturally creates developed, relevant and interesting male characters but means women in film are usually props to the main male stories. Therefore, there is no need to fully develop women and there is no point in women talking about anything besides men as it usually isn’t relevant to the male story. So is the solution to simply add more scenes of women talking to each other? No, what the Bechdel Test is meant to make us realise is that there is a systemic problem in the film industry. Male stories are still emphasised at the cost to women’s and only when female perspectives are developed on screen, will there be many scenes of multiple women talking to each other about something besides men. Perhaps that is why the film Bridesmaids was seen as so groundbreaking. Besides dealing with romantic relationships, it depicts the interior lives of females that covers issues of friendship, romance and ambition. And to the shock of many, it managed to do all that while being funny! It’s an uncomfortable sign when something as simple as a film based on female interactions (and where the men were actually in the periphery) is seen as so different and inventive. But it is also a positive indicator that the film was received well by the mainstream. And that is what we can do as the supposed ‘audiences’ that the film industry caters to: be aware of the films that represent realistic women’s stories and to go support them by watching it in cinemas, which is really not such a difficult task!
Riding the Wave of ProGress? Phoebe Miley-Dyer is more than just a beach babe Female surfing has never been more electric or exciting but there still exists within the surfing world out-dated thinking which undervalues female surfers. Some facts about corporate sponsorship of the elite Association of Professional Surfers (ASP) Women’s World Tour (WT) reflect this situation. The women’s tour has 17 surfers, four of whom have no sponsorship which means they have to pay for all travel and competition expenses themselves, a difficult situation since the largest prize pool of any ASP Women’s WT surfing event in 2012 is $130,000 compared to $500 000 for the men. This is made inacceptable by Billabong International’s financial statement in which girls’ wear remained the standout income growth category, suggesting that female consumers fund the brand which in turn averts resources away from female surfing. A quote I once read in a surfing magazine captures the opinion, “It’s a plain physiological fact that women can’t surf as powerfully or as fast as a man.” A strange thing to say considering no one is suggesting that women surf like men, rather that female surfers have skill and ability in their own right. In fact, women’s surfing has a more graceful, fluid quality than men’s surfing. Surfing publications compare female and male ath-
letes to legitimise inequality between the sexes in the surfing industry. Commentators often make comparisons between the structure of pro surfing and pro tennis but nobody ever questions Victoria Azarenka’s skill by comparing it to that of Novak Djokovic, ignoring their equality in prize money. Both women’s and men’s surfing should be valued and supported equally by the brands of the industry namely, Quiksilver, Rip Curl and Billabong. Yet in the period 2008-11 The ASP Women’s World Tour has lost more events than ever before due to loss of corporate sponsorship. The withdrawal of Billabong from the Billabong Pro Teahupoo (Tahiti) and of Roxy from the Roxy Pro Fiji was followed by the cancellation of the women’s divisions in the Rip Curl Pro Portugal, the Rip Curl Search event and most recently all events in Hawaii, the birthplace of surfing and the home of the current ASP Women’s World Champion, Carissa Moore. Claims that these losses are the necessary correlative of the financial crisis might have value if it didn’t so happen that last year the most expensive
male surfing event in history took place in New York sponsored by Quiksilver and with a prize package of $1 million. This suggests that the financial crisis has been used as the pretext to scale back support of women’s surfing. The result of these losses is that the women’s World Tour for 2012 finishes in August at Huntington Beach, California and does not travel to the same calibre of surf
breaks as the men’s tour which finishes in mid-December at Pipeline in Hawaii. The future of women’s surfing is in good hands with the next generation of female surfers continually raising the bar of elite surfing. All that is required now is for the corporations behind the industry to recognise the evolution of female surfing.
One Direction: Tunnel Vision
That Glass Ceiling Astha Rajvanshi breaks through the subtle inequalities The term, “Glass Ceiling”, was first mentioned in a 1986 edition of the Wall Street Journal, acknowledging the gender bias that restricted women in corporate America from reaching the top levels of companies. Today, it’s a silent, widespread idea understood by most –one that is unseen but exists structurally in leadership positions, companies, firms and businesses. Most importantly, though, it’s a term that still allows women to feel unrecognized for their success, and men to squirm in their CEO seats, whether or not they have directly contributed to this gender bias. Like the many typical articles I’ve read on the Glass Ceiling, let me throw some facts and figures at you to show how the numbers pan out: In 2011, only 20% of women were in leadership roles at top private companies worldwide. What’s more is that this number went down from 24% the year before. In The U.S., only 3.6% of Fortune 500 CE0s are women. Women still make 77c for every dollar made by a man – doing the same job. Research from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) shows that under the wage gap pace in the last 50 years, it will take until 2056 for women and men’s earnings to reach pay parity.
A culture shift that dictates what our romantic comedies show (“who will she choose, the dream job or the dream man?”), how our dating routines are constructed (who pays for the date?!) and what are superheroes and role models look like *Beyonce’s ‘Run the World (Girls)’ plays in the background*.
Possibly the only thing I will ever agree with Ian “Dicko” Dickinson on is that “One Direction” displays a marketing phenomenon. Their extensive use of Twitter and Youtube to document their daily movements, allows fans to track their every move and feel a deep personal connection and encourages virtual stalking.
I’m not saying that the Glass Ceiling has been shattered, or even broken through. I’m saying that we can now, together, acknowledge that it exists and that we have enough tools and measures at our disposal to combat it. And we have the choice to do so. The reason why I stress so importantly on choice is because I think that today; women doubt their abilities more than ever and that this inadvertently influences their decisions –to stay at home, to plan for a family immediately after getting a job, to turn down promotions, or to neglect career opportunities –because such a choice exists. There’s nothing wrong with making those decisions, but they need to be made without any societal or work pressures.
Another marketing great is that each band member fulfils a specific personality role. This allows for their audience to expand so fans to identify with the popcharacters. For example, Zayn is “the vain one” and Nyal is “the cute one”. This is a far cry from the old ways of a pop-band; George is “the guitar one” and Ringo is “the drums one”. Perhaps this is indicative of our society and its preoccupation with creating a personality profile, nonetheless, it seems to be doing the trick for “One Direction”.
make 77c for every dollar made by a man-- doing the same job.
We’ve come a long way from what used to be a hundred years ago, when women marched through the streets for better pay, voting rights, shorter working hours. Now, more than 70% of women who work are mothers. We have legislation for equal pay, extended maternity leave, and flexible work options.
Over the mid-term break, I spent a number of days looking after an eleven year old who was obsessed with the boy-band “One Direction”. She could relay a series of quotes from these pop-stars with meticulous accuracy and describe intimate details of their personal life as if they were her close friends. Having been an inhabitant of an obscure tropical island for the past three months, I was ignorant of the band itself. As I emerged from my naivety, I was confronted by the mass hysteria surrounding these five blokes.
But there is something else that exists in this shift of how things are from what they used to be: choice. Education and awareness has allowed both women and men to acquire a new set of skills that allow us to distinguish our wants and needs, and make decisions that contribute to our personal growth and success.
2056. I’ll be 65 years old when my grandson and granddaughter will be earning the same income for the same job, without an existing gender divide. I don’t think I can accept that idea, simply because right now we are going through an amazing moment in time where power dynamics between men and women are shifting very rapidly. Women are taking control, whether it’s going to university for a degree, joining the workforce in dominant professions of doctors, lawyers, bankers or accountants, or starting their own company. Not only that, but women have begun to enter the workplace at the top, creating jobs out of the traditional roles of housewives and mothers that they once used to fulfill; like childcare, nursing, food preparation.
Julia Readett gets an in-depth understanding of teeny boppers
Ellen Kumata of Cambria Consulting says, “Women tend to think more broadly about business issues on both the business and the people sides, including the long term. But they are not thinking broadly about themselves. They do not see their own potential; they do not fully comprehend the politics.”
They are also conventionally good looking which is a pop pre-requisite in this unfortunate age of aesthetic preoccupation. Watching the footage of One Direction’s appearance on Sunrise, I had to ask myself, “if these guys were considered unattractive, would this fan-girl be flailing a sign that says “One Erection?” The answer is probably no.
So far I’ve said that the hysteria that surrounds “One Direction” can be attributed to their marketing techniques, however, I think it is time to analyse the music (if you can call it that). What makes pop music so infectious, and has since Tin Pan Alley and Motown, is not only the simplistic and repetitious melodies, but the use of that magical personal pronoun: “you”. The word “you” is used in pop music as an anonymous blank, which can be filled with our exes, our lovers or ourselves. The songs become instantly identifiable with almost anyone who has had, or aspires to have, an experience with love. For example, The Beatles utilised the anonymous “you” constantly in their music; “Please please me, oh yeah, like I please you”, “It won’t be long ‘til I belong to you” and so on. The fans of One Direction take this technique of popular music by actually believing that the boys are singing directly to them. There’s no explicit mentioning of names or complex, specific scenarios. In the minds of fans, it’s just One Direction and “you”. We also have to analyse the lyrical content. They sing about making girls feel beautiful, wanted and loved, which seems harmless, however there is a danger zone here: it is based on the assumed insecurity of young women. “You’re insecure, don’t know what for. You turn heads when you walk through the door”. Songs like these are problematic because it projects the idea that young girls are by default insecure about themselves, which really sends the wrong message coming from a bunch of ‘attractive’ young guys. This is nothing new; boy-bands have been playing the “I’msexually-sensitive” card since the 90s. Jung stated that if you attempt to understand madness, you may go mad yourself. Understanding why young girls flock to see the band in hysterical tears is probably beyond any rational person. But hey, I take my hat off to anyone who’s my age and earning more than I’ll ever earn in my life. They must be doing something right.
And so, the Glass Ceiling will exist if we let it. The Glass Ceiling isn’t one that men stand above. It now applies directly to them as it does to minority groups of women, queer, ethnic or disabled. But it’s important to recognize that ideas of Feminism, The Glass Ceiling and Gender Equality have only come to be addressed because of participation by both men and women, and that this needs to continue. I don’t want to wait till I’m 65 to see this change. We need to stay in the race, we need to participate, and we need to proactively take steps to ensure that our successes are realized.
There are so many reasons for this: a global economy that allows women to participate more frequently through economic and technological changes.
Sex & Stuff The Virgin/Whore Dichotomy Melanie Jayne questions the double standards
Attention, young women. Get ready for the worst game of ‘Choose Your Own Destiny’ ever. Are you a virgin or a whore? Pick one or the other (or society will do it for you). There’s absolutely no in between, and if you’ve already been categorised as either, you absolutely must be ashamed of that title. Women are too frequently polarised on one end of this fabricated virgin/whore spectrum. While thankfully, it’d be too much of a blanket statement to claim that this happens all the time, it occurs more than it should. So, there you have it. The pervasive
Arabella Close is fed up.
The term natural gets bandied about a lot: natural talent, natural instincts, natural food, natural beauty, natural course of events, natural choices. It’s a pretty flexible and ambiguous word, so it’s been ripe for hijacking by advertisers, but generally it’s used to mean one version or another of not made by humans, instinctive, or normal. The three tend to get conflated, spat out and natural ends up meaning something closer to right or good. This means that natural and unnatural get flung about in all kinds of ethical and moral debates. “It’s unnatural” is used in arguments all over the place, against homosexuality, stem cell research, genetically modified foods, single parent families, and celibacy. When something is described as unnatural what is usually meant is, in one way or another, it’s not right.
virgin/whore dichotomy: a redundant exercise in pigeonholing femininity into a one-or-the-other category and ultimately, a patronising simplification of the intricacy of a woman’s sexuality. Firstly, what exactly is the virgin/whore dichotomy? You’ve heard this all before, right? If you’re a ‘mature-aged’ virgin, there must be something wrong with you. If you’ve instead slept with a fair amount of people, you’re a slut that’ll have sex with anything that has a pulse. This dichotomy comes with an array of subsequent consequences. The virgin is an image of innocence and purity, while the whore is a product of a culture of sexual deviancy.
Not only does this division between two types of women reduce the female identity into one-dimensional stereotypes, but it creepily treats female sexuality as some sort of unit of measurement. A woman’s sex life isn’t something that can be calculated. The whole concept of virginity in itself is incredibly elusive – and more problematically, also undeniably heteronormative. All girls know that their sexual behaviour is far more complex and diverse than the restrictive definitions of virgin and whore allow it to be. A woman’s sex life can be monogamous, heterosexual, absent, multiple, homosexual, sporadic, bisexual, regular and absolutely everything far and
Of course, it’s an important reminder that neither of these two examples can sum up the sexual experiences of women as a whole. I reiterate the fact that the sexuality of the female population is more varied than generally acknowledged. Women exist outside of the limitations of prude and slut. However a girl may frame her sexual life isn’t an issue of debate, and she should never feel guilty, embarrassed or ashamed by her choices or circumstances. Nobody is entitled to a justification for why you do or don’t have sex. Then again, how a woman’s sex life became a vital topic of discussion amongst people it doesn’t really concern
It appears that sex, a human function as basic as breathing, has become somewhat of a political and cultural battleground for women, except for the fact that there’s no eventual winner. There’s an unfair stigma that surrounds girls who have a lot of sex and girls who don’t. Slut-shaming and virgin-shaming alike are dangerous exercises that can have devastating affects on a girl’s selfworth. The girl who has sex with multiple people isn’t any more socially successful than the one who’s still waiting. Similarly, the lady who is saving herself for marriage isn’t in a place of righteousness to condemn anyone that isn’t.
NATURAL? Drought and death and illiteracy and mould are all natural too. You may be a naturally conniving, selfish bitch but frankly that is absolutely no excuse for not trying to be a nicer person. By the same token, there are a few unnatural things I’m fairly sure we all agree are worth having - like anaesthetics and IVF and sewerage systems and sneakers and so on and so on and so on. All of these are man made things that make life easier and cleaner and fairer. There are so many unnatural things that allow humans to be better people, leading better lives than they otherwise could.
One person’s ‘natural’ is another person’s ‘fucking weird’.”
There are two great big problems with this kind of thinking. Firstly, natural is not actually an objective or absolute term. One person’s ‘natural’ is another person’s ‘fucking weird’. And that’s fine - there’s nothing wrong with divergent opinions. But there is a problem with dressing up opinions in righteousness and pseudo-science and presenting them as some objective outline of how things should be. Secondly, natural is not always synonymous with good or with right. Sure, your organic fruit is natural. You know what else is natural? Dysentery. So are deafness and jealousy.
The ‘natural good’, ‘unnatural bad’ approach means personal and subjective opinions can be presented as complete and legitimate arguments when in fact whether something is natural or unnatural is irrelevant to whether or not it can make the world a better place. So, don’t discuss complicated and difficult subjects in terms of ‘natural’ and ‘unnatural’. It’s reductive and it’s lazy and there are some arguments that are far too important for that.
remains a mystery to me. “A woman’s sex life” and “your business” curiously don’t intersect. Ladies, you’re at liberty to sleep with as many or as little people as you like without worrying about restrictive branding. And please remember: you don’t owe an explanation of your sex life or lack-there-of to anybody.
Women in the Workplace by Morgaine Fairall It is broken in here. Bleed please. Become a river and poor out of me. Destroy Japan and then, pull back towards the moon and destroy it all over again. It’s old blood between you and me. Old blood gone bad. In the office, where I live now, they don’t know about my bad blood. I sit here like a strange after thought, getting fatter and fatter. It may seem to you incredible that my increased usage of space does not stir more of a reaction from my co-workers, but that’s how it is now. In camouflage. In a jungle of partitions and cramped necks.
There has been talk of a makeover, a hiding of parts, even a hiding of smells. I am not intrigued; it appears I have never been less interested in human appearance and more confused by it. I am foot with an upside sown sock on. The parts are there and they don’t fit. Mostly I have enjoyed this but now it’s getting serious. A more forceful hand insists on brisk walks and a smile. More brownies are passed my way when the news reader announces “this long weekend women have been warned not to drink, it is in their best interests to avoid intoxicatingly alluring sexual assaults.” I open my mouth. A hand forces a brownie in. I choke a bit but I’m too weak to die. So I swallow.
Sex & Stuff Artwork by: Leah Jean
Let’s Talk About Sex, Baby Stella Ktenas explores women’s sexuality.
emale sexuality? Before you begin to ponder fallacies derived from phalluses, of course it exists. What kind of silly question is that?! As a naïve child, I stumbled across John Lennon’s “Woman is the Nigger of the World” in my parents’ music collection, and I could not comprehend its content. Was I to be insulted daily, considered inferior and subservient, criticised for behaving autonomously? Had I no confidence, or freedom? Must I paint my face and dance? A profound NO resonates within me to this very day, and I believe the sentiments expressed in this four decade old song have haunted most females. We too have sexual lives as potentially enjoyable as any other humans. Is it such a farcical notion that a woman has a sexual appetite? Or are the majority of humans too easily misled towards an incorrect definition of female sexuality? Therefore, how may we finally debunk the presumption that males are the sole possessors of sex? Because females too “have [possess] sex”.
Sexual Awakening I masturbate a lot, even when in a relationship. It is healthy, natural, and just. I believe masturbation to be the first step to discovering and creating your own sexual identity. I am a female who believes in sexual education and enlightenment for all. If you have a hand mirror with you, be you female or male, please make your way to a very private room and/or toilet cubicle, and take a good, long look at yourself from this new angle.
There are many issues behind an inability to orgasm.The truth is that sometimes you can’t reach orgasm, and reasons for this range from an inability to locate oneself in the coital headspace to incorrect stimulation, hormones and insecurity. Also, it is important to know that you are allowed to explicitly say when you are not sexually satisfied, but before that can happen, you must discover what does. History has many lessons, the most relevant being that silence breeds ignorance. Consciousness through an open dialogue is therefore an imperative. You are under no obligation to make good sex noises when the sex is not good. If you do, you are only cheating yourself and your partner/s. Positive reinforcement is useful; your partner is clever and should revert back to what was causing you to make the good sounds. Please, DO NOT FAKE IT! You do not want the rest of your partnered sex life to become a long session of indignant post-coital masturbation. The act of faking orgasms epitomises a larger social issue since misconceptions of female sexuality are perpetuated by a lack of effective communication. Another integral component of sex is respect. If you are with a partner who lacks the maturity to understand the vulnerability in which sex locates you both, or who makes you feel humiliated or self-conscious about normal things (natural vagina smell, variations in your anatomy, etc.), then they are under the delusion that you must project the image of the perfect woman rather than be the real woman you are. If your partner attempts to incorporate feelings of violence or depravity as essential sexual play, then they are clearly what I term a “sexual cul-desac”. Make a U-turn and hastily speed out of that nightmare. Their immaturity is usually derived from misunderstandings and misconceptions about sexuality and sex, especially when it comes to their own sexuality, inexperience (a lack of practical and theoretical knowledge), lack of communication, and selfish approach to sex.
I masturbate a lot, even when in a relationship. It is healthy, natural and just.”
Becoming comfortable with your anatomy, as well as your partner’s (if you choose to have a partner) is a preliminary step which must be made. Anatomy is your alphabet; once memorised and understood you can then gauge methods which utilise your alphabet and slowly you will become more confident and proficient at constructing a lexicon.
One of the techniques for partnered anatomical discovery is the Masters and Johnson Technique, developed by sexologists at the Masters and Johnson Institute. Set aside an hour in which your objective is to conduct a scientific survey, focusing on one partner at a time, with one partner taking on the role of sexual scientist as they increase levels of stimulation and recording reactions, while the other rates the negative and/or positive experiences.
Sexual Delusion What are you allowed to do or feel? I would like to point out to whomever is reading, if you are a female who cannot attain orgasm, whether it is during intercourse, partnered stimulation or self-stimulation, please know you are in no way defective.
So, how do we remove the shroud of wilful sexual ignorance over female sexuality, whether it is derived from religion, personal immaturity, or feckless social paradigms ascribing prejudicial ideas?
Sexual Enlightenment Unfortunately, the true form of female sexuality is not openly discussed, nor widely understood. I have had the good fortune to stumble across the YouTube channel, CherryTV, which is devoted to the discussion of sex from female perspectives. Not only do they discuss the subtle mechanics of sex, but also the ethics behind it. Now, if I may, I would like to ask you a personal question, oh, reasonable reader. Where is your copy of The Joy of Sex? Reassure me you have heard of
it. Regardless of the obscenely anachronistic pictures from a time in which Hair was not just an off-Broadway show but a way of life, the book remains an essential text. Yes, reading! Like in the good, old ‘60s and ‘70s. Not only does this book provide a menu of sexual activities, it also instils a definitively ethical purpose to sexual play. The text assists you when developing your sexual palette, adding to your repertoire, while enlightening you on the “harmony of two souls and the contact of two epidermes” which occurs during partnered sex. You may be asking where have all the books on sex and sexuality disappeared to? There are many relevant texts, and I recommend material written by G. Greer, H. Fisher, N. Walter, C. J. Adams (for a vegan-feminist perspective), and any of the manuals on the correct mechanics of sex, from The Mistress Manual (Mistress Lorelei) to The Ultimate Guide to StrapOn Sex (K Lotney, a.k.a. Fairy Butch). There exists a menagerie of literary sexual species which may be found online, at exciting libraries, second hand stores, and reputable adult stores. There is no sexual canon, therefore the onus of discovery is placed onto your capable shoulders. You shall soon discover that sexual enlightenment begins not in bed with a stranger, but with sexual education, whether it be through self-discovery or text-based discovery. We are living in the age of hyperenlightenment. You have no excuse for naïvety on this issue. If you are enrolled at this university, you have access to the Internet (need I mention free Internet), so everything you need to become a sexual savant is at your fingertips.
Pornography Heterosexual pornography essentially violates female sexuality rather than illuminating reality because it is the (predominantly low budget) projection of phallocentric wants. We are fooling ourselves if we believe any of the women in pornography, especially those in violent, hardcore pornography genre, are treated with respect rather than utter contempt. Pornography’s narrative is phallocentric. The “money shot” is not a shot of the female orgasm, but the male’s. As Stephen Ziplow states in The Film Maker’s Guide to Pornography, the money shot “is the most important element in the movie and that everything else should be sacrificed at its expense.” Unmistakably, we observe how females are grossly and grotesquely undervalued in the pornography industry. It is violent performative violation which predominantly uses the female body as an inanimate hole or vessel. If this dynamic is pornography at its best, why not film a male masturbating with a Fleshlight? For those of you who have no conception of time, in life or in sex, Masters and Johnson found that it takes on average 4 minutes for a male to reach orgasm during partnered sex, while it takes 1020 minutes for a female. Surely, and I believe we can all agree on this, physiological differences such as this should not be the basis of human worth. Otherwise, what sort of sick society would we end up with? Perhaps, the current one. If so, should we allow this to continue? No! I refuse to lie back and think of England.
SRC Reports SRC President’s Report Phoebe Drake has always been a feminist
I think, initially, it came from my love of reading as my mother fed me books full of daring female characters who could out run, out fight and out smart any of their male counterparts.
I began to learn about different legislation, arranged marriages, female circumcision, the lack of women in parliament world wide, and the fact that, at that stage, Australia had never had a female Prime Minister.
Being of the age where the boundary between reality and the imaginary is easily blurred, I sought to build my own world where I could be the main character of my games.
And so, passionate about these issues, I would often articulate my views. Admittedly this led to being recognised as the resident feminist at my country high school, an attribute, which by the time I graduated, most found endearing. This irritated me. I wasn’t a feminist because it was a quaint, odd thing to be. I wasn’t a feminist because I thought it was a novelty approach to take. I was, and still am, a feminist because I believe in equal pay, freedom of choice, taking a stand against violence against women, respectful relationships and equal opportunity. I am also a feminist because I have always been a feminist and always will be.
I was the oldest child within my family, with three younger brothers, and every afternoon and every weekend our parents sent us outside to play. With the countryside sprawled out around us, we would set out to find and destroy evil, picking characters from books who we attempted to emulate. From sword fighting to discovering hidden treasures (often the rusted pieces of abandoned train tracks), the world was our oyster and I was Maid Marion/ Trixie Beldon/ Nancy Drew/ Alanna or Ellie. As I grew older, my feminism changed. And, at around the same time the magic left my childhood games, I began to understand more broadly the circumstances underpinning the experience of women from all around the world.
At university, things were different. I joined the SRC and joined the Women’s Collective where I met many people, both men and women, who were passionate about women’s issues. To my delight, I also discovered in first year, Women’s Honi, which exists as a space for women to write about anything and is edited by members of the Women’s
Collective. Every edition is an inspiring collection of articles, experiences, artwork and opinions. And to those who will inevitably write in to Honi complaining that there is no Men’s Honi, I offer no apology. Quite simply, women are underrepresented in the field of journalism in many areas, not restricted to but including reporter, editorial and higher management roles. Women’s Honi is, therefore, a space for women and always will be.
International Officer’s Report Kajing Jay Ng writes about her experiences as an Asian feminist
Having to study GCST1602 has given me many ‘wow’ moments; I seldom hear about feminism in Hong Kong (well, when they speak up, people would respond to them by saying ‘these are a bunch of crazy women who are trying to destroy our tradition.’) I thought it was only me, who did not pay much attention to feminism movements back at home but as I started researching, I found out women don’t really have a say in China; this applies to a lot of Asian countries as well.
I would love to use this year’s Women’s Honi to show how feminism is not always evident in Asian communities by using some first-hand experiences in China. As a Chinese girl, I have always faced a lot of inequalities back home and I feel like a lot of these situations are justified by the statement: ‘it’s our tradition’. The other day my Asian acquaintance’s friend wrote on Facebook, “Men are supposed to work, women are supposed to stay home. This is a tradition that our ancestor gave us and we should follow this.”
Let me tell you about my encounter of no-feminism on a personal and social level, starting with something very personal: My Asian name meant ‘quiet’, or ‘still’. I was named this not because I am quiet or still, but because my parents wanted to stop giving birth to daughters and start having sons. Anyway, when my grandfather passed away, there were parts of the funeral I could not take part in simply because I am a girl. This upset me a lot because that was the final chance for me to see my beloved grandfather and show respects. I feel like this so-called tradition is negatively affecting something personal, in an unnecessary way. I thought one of the core Chinese ideologies is to respect elderlies? Also, such ‘tradition’ has caused serious gendercide in China, where baby girls are often aborted under the guise of ‘trying
for a son!’. According to The Economist, more than 120 baby boys are being born for every 100 baby girls. In this social spectrum, women are often stereotyped as hopeless, problematic and must marry someone then stay home for the rest of their lives. This is reflected through the recent popular reality show ‘Bride Wannabes’ on TVB, which has fostered a wave of positive reception. Again, most of the comments were focused on how bad those participants are, rather than a debate on how profoundly wrong the show and the discourse are. Thank you, to the entertainment industry for pushing a wave of pseudo-models (‘Lang Mo’ in Cantonese) – a cult that shows us women have to be sex dolls, sexually-available, naïve, etc. Notably, in the 2012 Hong Kong Chief Executive Election, there were no female candidates, AS ALWAYS. All I see in my hometown towards women is backwardness with no feminist progress made. (I don’t mean to disregard those feminists’ hard work but really…) Before we move on to talking about equal pay or having a female CE, a great deal of work is yet to be done for women in society.
Women’s Officer’s Report
Kate O’Brien and Annabel Osborn are exhausted from being up all night... editing Women’s Honi is a fantastic opportunity for women’s work to be published and for rigorous debate surrounding issues within feminism to be aired. The editing team, made up of members of the Women’s Collective, have worked day and night to make this edition - the very first non-autonomous Women’s Honi - as diverse and enjoyable as possible. The decision to make Women’s Honi nonautonomous was a highly debated decision amongst the collective, however it was important to all members that we represent the wishes of the majority (according to a vote) and that we devise an organized structure with a consensus basis, revolving around an autonomous editing team. Most who were pro-autonomy for Women’s Honi, including myself, were happy and comfortable with the decided structure. As a collective, we work together on various campaigns, gather for discussion, attend events and hold
regular social activities amongst ourselves and within the wider community. Aside from the big task of making the Women’s Honi happen, Usyd’s Women’s Collective are currently we are working on; 1. A Safety on Campus Campaign in response to an alarming survey held in universities across Australia, which showed that 17% of respondents had experienced rape. Upon further investigation within Usyd, we have found that there is not a particular person or procedure to follow in order to record an incident or attain support. Similarly, there are issues of assault, harassment and rape within college environments, which often fall under the radar since the colleges are privately owned and not directly connected to uni procedure when incidents are reported. Usyd Women’s Collective is working to make our campus safer for women, based on the survey’s blueprint. 2. A Women’s Performance Night on campus to
showcase the many talents of women. Within the creative arts, women are under-represented and the collective envisions an evening of song and dance, poetry and drama (and much more!) in order to give women the attention they deserve in these fields. Although at the early stages of planning, we look forward to having an open audience for this event- where both women and men are invited to attend and support the evening. So, if you’re interested in becoming involved in the collective’s activities, or wish to have a discussion about any topics raised in this edition (or generally on your mind!) please feel free to get in touch. You may email firstname.lastname@example.org Those who identify as a woman are encouraged to come along to one of our weekly collective meetings (at 1pm on Wednesday’s in the Women’s Room, Holme Building) or events!
The Serious Consequences of Ignoring Traffic Fines
Think again before you ignore your next traffic fine.
If you get a traffic fine as a result of an Infringement Notice or Penalty Notice issued by the Police, local government authorities or other prosecuting agencies, you should not ignore it. Read it carefully and make sure you understand the alleged offences for which you have been fined. Most importantly, take note of the due date on the fine. If you do nothing about the notice before the due date, State Debt & Recovery Office will send you a penalty reminder notice, which gives you a further 28 days to deal with the fine. What to do about your traffic fine? You have a number of options available to you: -
Pay the penalty amount in full
- Pay the penalty amount by part payments, as long as it is paid in full before the due date listed on the penalty reminder notice - Ask for an internal review if you think there are any issues with the fine - Elect to have the matter heard in a Local Court (but make sure you receive legal advice before doing this). There is a deadline for all of these options. If you miss the deadline the option may be lost. For example you only have a limited amount of time to nominate another driver who was driving your car when it was recoded by a speed camera as exceeding the speed limited. If you miss this deadline you may well have the speeding offence on your record forever.
What if you don’t do anything? There are serious consequences for ignoring a fine, financially and legally. If you default on a fine, the amount of money you owe will increase due to enforcement actions. Your driver licence could be cancelled or suspended. You could have your car registration cancelled, your wages taken in part to repay the fine, your assets seized or you could be ordered to do community service. Worse case scenario, you could even be sentenced to do community service (as an alternative to a sentence of a period of imprisonment), depending on the seriousness of the case and the extent of your debt. How can SRC Legal Service assist you? We can discuss your alleged offence with you and explore the options you have.
authority should look at before they decide to pursue the fine, we can help you write to the issuing authority for an internal review. - If there is room for challenging the fine after unsatisfactory internal review, we can also represent you in court on the condition that there is a reasonable prospect of success after reviewing all your evidences.
To make an appointment with the SRC Legal Service, call the SRC office on 02 9660 5222.
email@example.com Phone: 9660 5222
For undergraduate Sydney Uni Students
FREE legal advice, representation in court and a referral service to undergraduate students at The University of Sydney.
We have a solicitor who speaks Cantonese, Mandarin & Japanese
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NEED a Justice of the Peace? Our solicitor will certify documents & witness statutory declarations Appointments Phone 02 9660 5222 Drop-in sessions (no appointment needed) Tuesdays & Thursdays 1pm-3pm Location Level 1 (basement) Wentworth Building, City Road, Darlington
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Dear Name Withheld, Sexual assault is a crime. It can happen to anyone and is never the fault of the victim. The experience and impact of sexual assault is different for everyone but whatever the reaction, it is a normal response to an extreme emotional and physical violation. It is really important that you talk to someone about this and get support and advice. Here are some suggestions for you to consider:
The SRC provides free confidential legal advice over the phone or faceto-face, you can contact the SRC reception staff on 9660 5222 to speak to our solicitor.
- If there are special circumstances which we think the issuing
• • • • • • •
You can contact the NSW Rape Crisis Centre who provide counselling 24 hours a day every day; on 1 800 424 017 or on line at www.nswrapecrisis. com.au
- If you decide to pay the fine but have difficulties financially, we can help you work out a repayment plan that works for you and help you apply for an appropriate repayment plan.
Immigration Advice Tenancy law Credit & debt Discrimination & harassment Traffic offences Criminal law Employment law Credit and debt
I am in my second year of Uni and have only just started living away from home. A few weeks ago I went out for drinks with some friends from one of my classes and ended up getting very drunk. One of the guys offered to look after me and make sure I got home ok. However, he took me back to his house. I wasn’t able to stop him from doing what he wanted to do. He told me that I couldn’t tell anyone, because our friends would see me as a slut and they’d all hate me. I don’t want to make any trouble for anyone, but I don’t feel right about what happened.
You can make a complaint to the police at any time. It does not have to be straight away. If walking into the Police Station feels difficult, ring the Crime Manager at your local police station to arrange an easier way to make contact. You can also contact the police on 000. • When making a complaint you can take a support person who was not a witness • You can request to speak to a female or male detective If you are not ready to make a formal police report, you can utilise an anonymous online system of recording assault- visit www.police.nsw.gov.au and click on community issues/ Adult Sexual Assault. You can also speak with an SRC Caseworker by contacting 9660 5222. You may wish to do this to discuss ways of being able to best manage you studies. Abe
Last Look MUSIC: INTERVIEW
CATCALL Avani Dias chats to Catherine Kelleher about maintstream, indie and how to be a successful female pop musician without getting your bits out on stage
On Saturday morning I was hung-over. Chances are, so was Catherine Kelleher; an electronic pop artist that goes by the name of Catcall. Her album came out the night before and as we spoke that morning she told me that there were big plans for celebrations that night at The Spice Temple. The record, The Warmest Place, is stomping beats galore with poppy organ lines that are as catchy as fuck. Yet, no one, including herself, can decide where it lies as an album; a tadpole in a huge pond of current records that have the same problem. Has “indie” become the new “mainstream” and what does this mean for female, pop musicians in today’s day and age? In 2006 Kelleher had just returned home from a USA tour with her punk, three-piece band Kiosk. She returned to the death of her father and a desire to push her life in a new direction. A fresh project was to be born. Kelleher was flicking through her record collection one day and stumbled upon the riot grrrl
band, Huggy Bear 12 inch. She heard the word “catcall” in a song, decided it was an appropriate stage name and there began the start of a brand new solo career. The word is defined in a dictionary as “the act of a public whistle, shout or comment that is usually derogatory in fashion” but Kelleher manages to subvert these negative connotations by being a strong-minded, musician. There is no doubt that she is also a tough woman, her interests lie in politics, she doesn’t have a group of ‘gal pals’ like in Sex and the City and she is a nominee in the pedestrian TV Bachelorette of the Year award that, unlike the male Cleo version of the competition, values single females with a big impact on the Australian society. Our chat was easy and smooth. We spoke like we were old friends and I was amazed at how much I could connect with this up and coming icon. The only apprehension that came up was when discussing the “pop” status of the record and a slander that
Letter to the PM Dearest Julia, I had a lot of hope when you were elected as PM. I’m not ashamed to admit that images of the Obama Change Campaign mixed with the smashing of glass ceilings did come to mind when you won the election. It didn’t bother me that it was a narrow win; I still danced around my lounge room and professed to anyone that would listen (my much less enthusiastic housemates) that this was a great day for Australia. Who would have thought that Australians could be progressive enough to elect a woman, and a childless atheist woman, as the leader of their country? I’ll admit it, I did. How silly I was to think that this was not only a win for red heads everywhere, but for women is general. We like to see ourselves as progressive, but we’re not. I’ll give you this Julia – you are one clever lady. You realised early on that Australians weren’t ready for you. The real you. You knew that we weren’t ready for a female PM so you decided to work within the system, instead of trying
was made in a Drum Media article that insinuated that Kelleher had transcended into a mainstream sound to try and make more money. She had recently tweeted “too indie for mainstream, and too mainstream for indie”; a perfect sentence to describe her record and when asking her about it there was some definite hesitation; “I don’t really know where I fit and I won’t really know until the album comes out and has some time to settle… It doesn’t really concern me though. It’s more like, all that’s really important is that I’m honest with my work and that I’m honest with the work and in everything that I’m doing.” Her musical icons stretch from Kathleen Hannah of Bikini Kill, a riot grrl punk band, to classic artists like Stevie Nicks and Blondie to her modern electronic pop companions, Grimes and MIA. She put a special emphasis on an artist that comes under the same genre of musicians, Santigold. “Her first album is one of my favorite albums that I’ve ever
heard, it’s so fantastic… She’s amazing, and she’s fucking tough and she doesn’t take any shit and I really like that.” This idea of female, pop musicians as “tough” and robust seems like a hard concept to deal with – especially when the most popular artists still seem to be over sexualized females such as Katy Perry, Rhianna and Lady GaGa. So where do musicians like Catcall lie? In a vague grey area somewhere between obscure and common. If the shift continues to go in that same direction, then maybe female artists that rely on sex to sell records or “pop porn” will be eradicated altogether and the Catcalls and Santigolds of this world will be the future. But for now “Call Me Maybe” lies at number one on the Top 40 and Nicole Scherzinger of The Pussycat Dolls touches herself on stage while singing “Come on baby, put your hands on my body…. Right there”.
Katherine Bartley has a bone to pick with Ms Gillard
to change it. I thought that you would be a champion for gender equity issues and social justice. I expected greatness and what I have received is well below par. You have done everything in your power to renounce your womanhood for fear of being labelled too caring, emotional or compassionate. Sentiments that the patriarchy has labelled as weak and irrational, and inappropriate for the public domain. Things have got so bad between us that I’m missing Kevin07. At least he cried on national television and showed us that real men do cry. But even I don’t expect you to cry in public. If you cried one of our very credible morning shows would hire an ‘expert’ to say that you must be experiencing PMDD. Heaven forbid a woman shows any emotion, especially a woman in power, or she is labelled as erratic, even hysterical. So maybe it is me with the double standards. Can I blame you for acting like a man in a man’s world? If you want any hope of winning the
next election then you are going to need to change tactics, otherwise we are going to have a monkey running this beautiful country. A monkey who doesn’t believe that we descended from his and our ape cousins, who has trivialised women’s issues and who thinks abortion is shameful. The way things are looking we would rather a monkey, than a woman acting like a man, run this country. The Australian public seem to prefer a dense yet honest man than an intelligent, but disingenuous woman. So how about you show us the real Julia. The Julia that embraces her womanhood and acts compassionately, instead of trying to be one of the boys (and not doing a very good job at it). Game changing policies include; Ending mandatory detention of asylum seekers. Supporting same sex marriage. Taking a strong stance on climate change. Now don’t get me wrong. I don’t think you have to be a woman to support any
of the above. I just think you are trying to distance yourself as far away as possible from humane, ethical and environmental issues, which have been socially constructed to be woman-centric. Since you can’t talk to a woman in power without discussing your wardrobe I feel compelled to come to your defence about pants suits. Ignore Germaine’s jeers about your jackets. Wear whatever you damn well want! Idols really have been falling by the wayside lately. So in my search to find new idols I came across a party that has feminised policies, and yet was created by a man and now is led by a woman. Perhaps I have been putting my eggs in the wrong basket from the get go. I know this is going to hurt, but I’ve started writing to Christine. It is early days, but so far she just seems to get me. Who knows maybe in a few years she will be able to smash a few glass ceilings. Good luck, Your Disgruntled Ginger Sister
What type of feminist are you?
Artwork by Alice Brandli
1. Time a bun spends in the oven (9)
9. Negator (2)
2. Organic compounds forming the basis of proteins (5, 5)
10. Small, Welsh herding dog (5)
11. Tapered blades; high heeled shoes (9) 14
4. Not having the characteristics of a living body (9) - inorganic
14. Third tone of a diatonic scale (2)
5. What models do (4) - pose
15. Introverted; about to conclude one’s career (8)
6. “Total _______ of the Heart” (7)
17. Ladies Love Liz Lemon (2.2.) 18. Female Slavic autocratic ruler (8)
8. Determining via examination the nature of disease (9)
19. Prefix meaning “false” (6)
12. Lean (4)
20. Vague; bland (7)
16. Deluge (8)
22. Gesture of agreement (3)
21. Dish of stuffed vegetables dating back to the Ottoman Empire (8)
27. Scottish aristocrat haunted by a damned spot (4, 7) 29. Prefix meaning “milk” (5)
24. Malaise (7) 25. Tempo of 66-76 beats per minute (6) 26. Lewis Carroll’s heroine (5)
33. Kept woman (9) 34. Boundary between earth and sky (7)
28. Divide equally in two (5) 30. Monetary unit (4) 32. Meaning “god” in Latin (3)
ACROSS 1. Cinderella’s souvenir (5, 7)
7. I am woman, hear me _____. (4)
27. Plant believed in Greek legend to induce blissful ignorance if consumed (5)
31. Jewish spinning top (7) 31
3. Most tasteful (9)
13. City of Angels (1.1.)
23. Hides; keeps secret (8)
1. Cinderella’s souvenir (5, 7)
Poetry ELENA OR EVA – QUAL ES MI MUJER? By Elizabeth Mora MUJER! (M) Muerta, Luna, revivida! Love kills marks and transforms you. There’s a punch in your heart, You crawl up like a half moon, contemplating the fertility of his SEEK, of his BRACE! (U) Utilizada, Rota, Recojida! You took him in as if he’s a prized painting in gallery... The ridiculousness of your wantSo unexpected! So irrational! Desperate! (J) Juan, porque no me quieres? Lover? Why do you despise me? Thrumming through your veins his betrayal pounds and defines you! The HOOK of his desire- false and unled-Shocks your Feminism - now your Shadow! (E) Elena, porque no te amas? Bloated with the heat of his emotions, Your token of self-love has been left without motion. Your gleaming freedom left aside Your ruthless pride non abide. (R) Revuelta, Envuelta en el mensaje de la biblia. EVA, estas en el peligro de ser tu propia temtacion! Elena, Elena,
by Mariana Podesta-Diverio
Long and Long and suffer – Do! To never be a replica, reinvented from glossy photography – do not fall on your own tyranny! Be the image of the image-Less The Full moon behind the strength of ageing trees! Eva Eva Se Elena Se Elena Crawl out of your love sick refuge, Be the shining prime of your PedigreeFrida, Chicago- a drop of art! Isabel Allende, Woolf!- a literary wake! Baez, Sosa, Indigo girls a strum in the conscious ear They love you more, the more you hate! Open your ears and let these gems let you sing: POR DIOS JUAN, ANDATE A LA MIERDA!
LA BELLA DESNUDA
By Phoebe Moloney
By Morgaine Fairall
I interrogate you, distant female Light washing the surface so I might Suspend you there. Your waist: The absent minded bend Moulded by hands Clenched in sea clay. Your stomach: A pillow for a fallen angel. The wax and wane of your chest, your So utterly mistaken back, Unblinking but forsaken An unstilled dream of shadows. A ghastly dance of shadows That: Half-smile, black-line So eerily they crept along transecting the folds of a petal Dark hallway walls While striding, wide, our sights did land Where Keyboard phrases escape Where Upon you Reflected and reflections lay together, With each collected soul they Momentarily. Took aside to cover: “What sleeps inside the Other?” What heavenly objects move you And make you? And spake another staple: Not “It’s an ordinary cabinet” The crippling wanderings Oh, god forbid, a magnet And follies of a self-saturated mind. That’s landed on the kitchen floor Perhaps then A glance shifting against the door The pulsing flow that hints beneath And erupts Slightly, eagerly awaiting In twin volcanoes. Thoughts are swimming, Drunk by flushed lips, whispering In lieu of hope Of low spreading fires Exacerbating And rumoured destruction. Sinners. Inadequate beginners. Exhuming useless tools. Uneducated fools. A long-forgotten enterprise That dwarfs the standing others Our sisters and our mothers, well A streak of others, too.
PEELED AND BOILED By Louise Carey-White
Eva, Eva, Become not an erotic display- a memory of the common kind! You are not the parody of Picasso’s mistress Nor the senseless fantasy of the muso’s love songs!
Peeler in one hand, spud in the other I scrape at the soft, slippery, earthy vegetable. I have been doing it for years. But I’m not quite as good as Mum. With a flick of the peeler, half the hide is gone leaving a wet, faceted sphere in her rough palm.
But in the night a stranger pigment emerges Leaking through the pebble Set In your torso And the million black pinpoints of your pores. Woman, you haunt me with some unknown potential, Flowing from my core. Your ink is there in the penstroked horizon, The infinity of eyes, Glazed over. It is that depth Joining and separating The two indifferent countries My self folds in. Creation lives in the lining of my skin.
Of course, Mum learned from the best. My Gran could peel a spud in twenty seconds flat. She would boil them, each yellow ball falling with a plonk, and they danced under the surface. They didn’t like to be covered – they would rattle the saucepan lid spilling starchy foam all over the stove “Whoops!” By gee, she could boil the best tatties. I would demand her company, and her potatoes with a square of butter and a teaspoon, the earth-scented steam wetting my face. Looking down at my own peeling job, I reckon I couldn’t hold a candle to Mum and Gran: knobbly. Stripy. Haven’t cut the sprouts off. I’m sure Mum and Gran needed practice too.
Artwork by Madeleine Pfull
So innocent, A baby fumbling Mindlessly, Never mind the step How could I not Taste the nectar? It was embroidered in the cloth, I couldn’t really see Through all those pulls and tucks I can only take the blame For not learning how to sew, Again an innocent mistake. Now I am mindful of the step, I fall anyway Painfully aware of my knee So nice to feel the bruising on my shin The tenderness of the bone The pulling at the cloth
NARCISSA by Xiaoran Shi Lady of mourning, The sun has risen. What do you grieve If not the departure of your livelihood? Shafts of light bayonet The murky depths – your cavernous soul – Filtered by the sinuous sargasso. Watch The elemental shadowplay: Pagan operatics. You won’t feel the silken drenching Until you surface for air. Lady of mourning, Shed your armor now For the fishermen to collect And bring home to their wives. What lies underneath If not your smothered animus, thirsting? Exposed wounds heal with haste; Break the ice, sister.
The Back Page
Sydney University's Student newspaper since 1929. This is the autonomous women's edition published by the SRC womens collective each year. B...