CONTENTS 42 COLLECTIVE 02 03 04 07 08
editorial contributors team the women's department year in review
COMMENTARY 13 14 16 18 20 22 24 26 28 30 32
judy's punches superwomen brothers and sisters in arms the art world has a gender problem dear jess role playing aural elixer ocean child chasing control thank the '60s for the books the nice guys
CREATIVE 36 37 42 43 45 46 48 50 51 52 54 56 58 60 62
to men on tinder who open with ni hao three children a child understanding consciousness family tree hide and seek hiccup in hereditary eight weeks passing another disorientation northside skin i am a lesbian layers the chronicles of mnemosyne and linda rain the forbidden truth
E D I TO R I A L Hi everyone, we’re Amie and Adriana. Thank you so much for picking up our lil magazine, Judy’s Punch. A lot of love went into making this publication so we hope you enjoy it. Judy’s Punch is about celebrating and promoting the work of women, our stories and our experiences. The interest, support and hard work of all involved has been truly heartwarming. From those who simply liked one of our posts on Facebook, to those who spent hours crossing our i's and dotting our t’s, to those who poured their heart and soul into their submissions, thank you. Judy’s Punch is an annual Women’s Department publication, but the publication itself has been around longer than the Women’s Department. Judy’s Punch was first produced in 1986, which means that this year we’re celebrating its’ 30th birthday! It’s a very fuzzy feeling to be a part of something much bigger than us. We would love to thank our wonderful team of subeditors, graphics creators and contributors who have made this publication (and the experience of making it) extra special. Judy's Punch is not only a magazine, but also a collective composed of some of the brightest, inspiring and most talented women from the University of Melbourne. We're honoured to have spent 2016 in your company. We would also like to thank our wonderful friends (well, family) from the Media Office, in particular Baya Ou Yang and Danielle Bagnato, who guided us through this process, holding our hands and patiently enduring all of our little questions. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you, and keep on punching Judy. Love, Amie and Adriana.
UMSU, the Women's Office and Women's Room are located in the city of Melbourne, situated at the heart of Wurundjeri land. A key member of the Kulin Nations, we pass our respects on to the Wurundjeri elders, both past and present, and acknowledge the land we are on was never ceded.
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Photograph by HANA DALTON
C O N T R I B U TO R S EDITORS Amie Green Adriana Mells
SUBEDITORS Sue-Ann Chan Belle Gill Emma Hollis Seraphina Leong Sinead Medew-Ewen Mary Ntalianis Felicity Sleeman Morgan-Lee Snell COVER Eloyse McCall INSIDE COVER Emma Jensen INSIDE BACK COVER Ayonti Mahreen Huq GRAPHICS CONTRIBUTORS Amie Green Ayonti Mahreen Huq Jasmin Isobe Emma Jensen Flora Leung Eloyse McCall Amelia Saward Jordan Watson CONTRIBUTORS Cera Maree Brown Iryna Byelyayeva Sue-Ann Chan Rae Dale Hayley Franklin Madeline Gibson Belle Gill Amie Green Olivia Hart Morgan Hopcroft Lachean Humphreys Annabelle Jarrett Rose Kennedy Marina Lee Flora Leung Maggy Lui Adriana Mells Emma Missen Mary Ntalianis Lauren Sanders Amelia Saward Danielle Scrimshaw Natalie Kim Seiler Morgan-Lee Snell Lily Steiner-Jones Zara Sully Lily Ward Jordan Watson Chloe Wood
Illustration by NATALIE KIM SEILER
Judy's Punch is the magazine of the Women's Department of the University of Melbourne Student Union (UMSU). Judy's Punch is published by the General Secretary of UMSU, James Bashford. The views expressed herein are not neccessarily the views of UMSU, the Women's Department, or Judy's Punch printers or editors. Judy's Punch is printed by Printgraphics, care of Nigel Quirk. All artwork and writing remains the property of the creators.
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Sue-Ann spends her time eating too much chocolate, wearing dark lippie to 9am lectures and petting strangers’ dogs on the street. Follow @sueann_sucks for more.
Emma is an Arts student with a constantly evolving major and a penchant for punctuation.
Belle uses superheroes and TV shows to hide from reality and probably loves pizza too much to be healthy (hey that rhymed).
Sinead’s in her third year majoring in Politics, minoring in Creative Writing. Her hobbies include being frustrated about the patriarchy, eating gluten and patting dogs.
Mary loves wine and hates driving in the dark.
Felicity is the second year of her BA majoring in Media and Communications and History. She is also addicted to reality TV and children’s movies.
Morgan is a young gal whose favourite pastimes include patting dogs and eating entire loaves of bread in one sitting. Phina digs manga and postrock noises. She has a very unrealistic dream of owning a submarine and exploring the deep sea.
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Amie is a third year majoring in Creative Writing. She likes to read trashy poetry and make crusty graphics. Find her on Instagram @agievve.
Flora is a cat person who loves different languages, Arts and Japanese animations. She also does psych in her free time. Find her on Instagram @floralcc.
Stuck between being a goth and a mermaid, Ayonti has an unnatural obsession with tumblr aesthetics and the likes. Gladly replaces productivity with procrastination whenever possible. Find her on Instagram @proartcrastinator.
Eloyse likes to make things. Art mostly. Other hobbies include being an avid eater, vinyl-collector and book-reader.
Jasmin is a language obsessed Honours student who uses printmaking/ anything to do with paper to get away from her thesis. Arty Instagram @little.prints.ink.
Amelia studies Art History honours and loves art, history, cats and feminism. She's addicted to tea and sporadically posts @ameliaksaward on Instagram, Facebook and Wordpress.
Emma reads, writes and draws things. Follow her @emmaleejensen.
Background by AMIE GREEN
Jordan loves hiking, arguing about ethics with anyone who will listen, and photography. She somewhat consistently posts her photos at jw-photo.tumblr.com and on Instagram @jordanlw2.
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06 | COLLECTIVE
'Neuschwanstein Castle' by JORDAN WATSON
T H E W O M E N ' S D E PA RT M E N T
he UMSU Women’s Department exists to advocate for the advancement of all women students on campus. We host a range of social, activist, informative and networking events to ensure that women students have an opportunity to meet, discuss and explore ideas and experiences in a safe space. The Women’s Room is located on level 1 in Union House, it is an autonomous safe space. The Women’s Room has couches, beanbags, feminist literature, a computer and a range of supplies. The Women’s Room is a space where you can feel comfortable without having to encounter men and deal with male scrutiny and it’s also a great place to meet new people. We became a constitutionally recognised student union department in 1992, but there is a long herstory of Women’s activism within the student union and on the campus more broadly. With Women’s collectives, Women’s working groups and a Women’s Research Officer operating out of the student union and the Women’s Room. Next year we celebrate our 25th year of being a student union department. Judy’s Punch also has a long herstory. It began in 1986, making this year it’s 30 year anniversary edition. It was facilitated by the Judy’s Punch Collective (as there were no Women’s Officers at this point), which was run through the Women’s Room and the Farrago Office. Over 7000 copies a year were distributed in cafes, bookshops, Women’s organisations as well as Monash and Latrobe Universities. Judy’s Punch suffered massive funding cuts in 1990 due to union troubles, and it stopped completely after 2005 due to VSU. It was brought back in 2013, initially as a blog and then in 2014 was released in magazine form, which has continued in 2015 and this year.
Background by AMIE GREEN
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YEAR IN REVIEW
he UMSU Women’s Department has had an incredibly busy and exciting year in 2016. It has been a year of growth and change for the Department and we hope that this continues to be in the case in the future.
We had a great start, with O-Week being a massive success. Our Women’s Department ‘Be your own hero’ tote bags were very popular, and it’s always nice to see people using them on campus. Our picnic was super lovely, it was great to see so many people engage with the department and make new friends. It was definitely the most engagement the Department has had during O-Week in a few years and an exciting way to begin the year.
The Women’s Mentoring Network is such an important part of the Women’s Department. The mentoring program looks for mentors before semester one and usually consists of postgraduate women. Mentees are undergraduate women who apply as semester one begins. We also run the networking nights alongside this, where for three nights in a semester women come in and discuss their experiences in different fields of work. This program is fantastic and it would be really lovely to see it expand in the future, in terms of the things it does and the amount of people it reaches.
Feminism 101 took place in week 3 of semester one. The week was an introduction to intersectional feminism, we hosted an introduction to safe spaces event and an event called ‘Does feminism speak for all women?”. It was great to see people involved with the Department have these discussions and speaking critically about the feminist movement and how it has failed women from marginalised groups. It would be fantastic if we could engage more people in these discussions and see more interaction between UMSU autonomous departments. Respect Week was hosted by the University of Melbourne, it was the first time this week was held at the University. Preparation for this week was also accompanied by discussions surrounding sexual assault and harassment on campus. The start of 2016 saw a change in reporting procedure, as well as discussions on this issue from University staff members and from UMSU. These discussions, as well as the work surrounding this issue have continued throughout all of 2016.
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YEAR IN REVIEW For Respect Week, the Women’s Department hosted a screening of The Hunting Ground, a documentary looking at sexual assault at universities in the US and the failure of these institutions in terms of policy, reporting procedure and support services. We’ve seen an update in reporting procedure and in policies, but it is important to always remain critical and look at the ways that survivors could be better supported on this campus. It is also important that as a campus community we are looking at having proactive discussions about respectful behaviours and that we are having them as soon as possible. The NUS ‘Talk about it’ survey gave us much needed insight into the situation at some Australian universities and following this the Australian Human Rights Commission is conducting their own survey with all 39 universities signed up. This is the first survey of its kind in Australia and it is so important that universities and student unions are promoting this as much as they can. The results of this survey will inform future policies, procedures and support services. We are at a critical time point for this issue. The UMSU Women’s Department will be releasing an information booklet at the end of semester two in 2016, a guide for sexual assault on and off campus that lists relevant options and support services. This will be distributed to each University of Melbourne campus. Rad Sex and Consent Week was hosted by the Queer, Disabilities, Welfare and Women’s Departments this year. This week is incredibly important, this year we were looking at things like consent, healthy relationships and inclusive sex. The workshops presented in this week are fantastic, but its' structure means that attendance at some times can be limited. Something that should be looked at for future years is perhaps hosting events across a few weeks to give more people an opportunity to attend these workshops.
The Women’s Department constitutional changes were something that we were quite proud of this year. It was a massive change for the Department and they sought to enhance Women’s representation within UMSU. We worked with people involved in the department as well as people who were interested in changing the constitution to discuss and word the proposed changes.
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YEAR IN REVIEW In the end changes brought to students were: ● The removal of the asterisk from Wom*n’s ● Updating the definition of Woman in the UMSU Constitution ● Affirmative action for Women of Colour in the Women’s Department ● Introducing affirmative action for joint OB positions ● Strengthening affirmative action in multi-member ballots Due to an inquorate students council meeting, we needed to get signatures in order to hold a Special General Meeting (SGM) of UMSU. We ended up getting over 600 signatures which was enough to petition this meeting to take place. There was a lot of discussion surrounding the constitutional changes, including one particularly heated students' council meeting. The SGM took place on Tuesday the 24th at 12:30pm and all the constitutional changes for the Women’s department passed. There was some opposition to the changes, particularly in relation to enhancing the AA requirements for council and committees as some people felt that Women’s representation was no longer an issue within UMSU. The Herald Sun wrote an article about the the Women’s Department changes, focusing on the decision to remove the asterisk for Women and labelled the decision to do so as ‘misogynistic ageism’. A lot of hard work went into making these changes a reality, there had been talk surrounding this for a number of years and we didn’t want to wait any longer. We tried make the process as inclusive as possible by explaining the structure of UMSU, the constitution and what a special general meeting entailed. We tried our very best to ensure that the process was transparent and accessible. Women in Higher Education Week took place in week 3 of semester two. We held a panel discussion looking at women’s experiences with tertiary education with some fabulous speakers. We also held a trivia night looking at and celebrating the achievements of women. Thanks to those from the Education and Activities Departments who helped in the running of these events. The Anti Racism Workshops are hosted by the Women of Colour Collective, coordinated by the fantastic Sarah Xia. These workshops are incredibly important, this year they have run from weeks 6-11 and look at a whole range of topics from: ● Intersectionality in Queer and Feminist Movements ● Student Representation ● Lateral Violence ● Self care ● Multiculturalism and dating/Interracial dating ● Media representation
Judy’s Punch is a project that has occurred throughout most of 2016. The amazingly talented, super wonderful and dedicated Amie Green has worked incredibly hard throughout this year to make this publication. We would be completely lost without her, and cannot possibly thank her enough for her time and effort. Judy’s Punch is a showcase of the talented women at the University of Melbourne, it’s an annual publication that is incredibly special. It’s heartwarming as a Women’s Officer to see a group of people who love and care for this publication. Our team of subeditors and graphics contributors have worked so hard and are amazingly talented and this publication would be nothing without them. On a personal note, I would like to thank all the lovely people from the Women’s Department who have made this year so special. In particular, my former co-office bearer Hien who I met in the Women’s Room and instantly bonded with over our love of Kristen Stewart. On my first day at uni, I met the Women’s Officers at the Women’s Department stall and they invited me to come to a picnic in the Women’s Room, and it was one of the first places where I felt comfortable on campus. I sat and listened to the wonderful people who were in the space. It has been a place of learning, safety and friendship. I hope that it can be the same for many more students. I wish this wonderful community all the very best in the future, there is so much more work to do.
YEAR IN REVIEW Thanks for a brilliant 2016, thank you for wonderful experiences over the past four years. I’ll continue to see you all in the Women’s Room. Lots of love, Adriana, your 2016 Women’s Officer
Background by AMIE GREEN
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C O M M E N TA RY
'Fragility is Powerful' by ZARA SULLY
CONTENT WARNINGS | BLOOD (MENTION), DRUGS (ALCOHOL), MISOGYNY
JUDY'S PUNCHES Tired of fighting the patriarchy and need a drink? Words by MARY NTALIANIS
The Harley Quinn 30ml Cherry Vodka 15ml Cointreau 45ml Red Bull Build over ice and stir. Garnish with a cherry. This drink will keep you going all night. Even after you told that guy you were doing your PhD in Biochemistry and he mansplained the periodic table to you. The Black Widow 30ml Chambord 30ml Creme de Cassis 15ml Cranberry Juice Shake with ice. Serve in a Martini Glass. A perfect drink for The Avengers drinking game! Take a drink every time they turn a female character into a romantic subplot. Take a drink whenever Joss Whedon says something gross. Skol your drink whenever someone tries to justify why they still haven’t given a female character a solo film yet.
The Wonder Woman 30ml Blue Curacao 30ml Grenadine syrup Top with sparkling wine. Serve in a Flute Glass. Garnish with an orange rind. The perfect drink for a night out with the girls. Enough alcohol to make you think that kissing the cute girl on the dance floor is a good idea (it was). Not enough alcohol to convince you that messaging your ex is a good idea (it definitely wasn’t). The Poison Ivy 30ml Midori 30ml Elderflower Vodka 15ml Lime Juice Shake with ice. Serve with Margarita Glass. Garnish with a sprig of mint. A drink for when your str8 friends make you go clubbing with them and you need to suffer through a night of men hitting on you (you’re not interested) before you can go home to your girlfriend (Harley Quinn). The Lara Croft 30ml Bourbon 30ml Spiced Rum 45ml Pineapple Juice Bitters Build over ice and stir. Add bitters (the blood of your enemies). Almost as bitter as that guy who thought he was better than you at Tomb Raider and decided to prove it on your first date. He wasn’t.
Illustration by MARY NTALIANIS
CONTENT WARNINGS | DEATH (MENTION), SEXUAL ASSAULT (MENTION)
SUPERWOMEN Taking down bad guys and the patriarchy all in one swoop!
Words by BELLE GILL
emale superheroes and comic book characters rarely get the recognition they truly deserve. In recent years, there have been a slew of television and film adaptations of comic books, bringing some of our fan favourites to the screen. Listed below, in no particular order, are some of the best female on screen superheroes:
Wonder Woman Since Lynda Carter brought Wonder Woman to life in the ‘80s television series, there has been constant talk of bringing the character to the silver screen. In 2016, this finally happened. Wonder Woman (played by Gal Gadot) arguably had some of the best scenes in Batman Vs Superman. Appearing in a kick-ass costume, the movie featured Wonder Woman using her iconic shield and lasso to take down Doomsday. Wonder Woman is also going to make history as the first female superhero movie (Elektra does not count) to grace the silver screen in her own movie set to be released June 2017.
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Supergirl For all its flaws, Kara Danvers in CBS’s Supergirl was both complex and emotional. Kara is a powerful and humane character who struggles to come to terms with the destruction of her family and her planet. Unlike Superman, Kara had actually grown up in Krypton and is well aware of what she has lost. Kara’s relationship with her step-sister, Alex Danvers, is one of the high points of the show. Supergirl is moving to the CW network and will be joining the Flash and Arrow universe next season, hopefully leading to a Justice League television series.
Quake Quake or Daisy Johnson made her superhero debut even before Supergirl, in the show Agents of Shield. The first Asian superhero on screen, Daisy Johnson started off as a spy, trained by the bad-ass Shield Agent Melinda May. As the name suggests, Quake possesses seismic abilities which allow her to cause earthquakes. That’s not all she can do though; the finale of Agents of Shield featured Daisy using her powers to (sort of) fly. In line with the events following Captain America: Civil War, Daisy Johnson is now a vigilante superhero, just like our beloved Secret Avengers. According to Marvel, there are no plans for the television characters to make an appearance in the Marvel Cinematic Universe just yet, but here’s hoping that Quake will join the Avengers in the future, just like her comic counterparts.
Storm Storm has been on the silver screen since 2000 with the release of the original X-Men movies. At the time, fans had plenty of problems with Halle Berry’s portrayal of Storm, mainly because it gave little to no recognition to her Kenyan origins. In this year’s X-Men: Apocalypse, Alexandra Shipp truly did justice to the character. Despite having little screen time, Storm manages to make an impact, both with her powers (bad-ass, as usual) as well as her character’s story arc. The future movies had better give Storm more screen time as she is one of the main, and most powerful, members of the X-Men.
Black Widow Natasha Romanoff has been kicking ass ever since she appeared in Ironman 2. The character’s portrayal in the movies has varied from amazing (Captain America: The Winter Soldier) to awful (Avengers: Age of Ultron). However, this year’s Captain America: Civil War was truly one of the best portrayals of Black Widow yet. Natasha Romanoff struggles to choose between her loyalty to the Captain and her own conflicting ideals. Her action scenes were also some of the best in the movie. Especially if you take into account that, unlike the other characters, the Black Widow has no enhancements whatsoever and yet is one of the deadliest Avengers. Fans have been begging for a solo Black Widow movie for years and it seems like we are finally (maybe) getting one. Marvel’s CEO, Kevin Fiege, announced that the company is “committed” to a Black Widow solo movie. So here’s hoping!
Illustrations by AYONTI MAHREEN HUQ
Jessica Jones Netflix’s Jessica Jones differs from other superhero series. Dark and disturbing, Jessica deals with rape, her brother’s death and facing the Purple Man, easily one of the most disturbing villains Marvel has ever created. The show has been quickly renewed for a second season which may bring another female superhero to the screen - Jessica Jones’ best friend, Hellcat.
White and Black Canary The White Canary, Sara Lance, is one of the few queer superheroes on television. Appearing first in Arrow before joining DC’S Legends of Tomorrow, we see her struggle with her past as an assassin and being brought back to life (it’s complicated). Sara is easily one of the best parts of Legends of Tomorrow, with kick-ass action scenes and great character development. The Black Canary is Sara’s sister, Laurel Lance who took up her mantel after the White Canary’s death in Arrow. Juggling her career as a lawyer, her relationship with her father and her sister’s death, Black Canary was easily one of the favourite characters among the fans. Unfortunately, Laurel Lance was killed off towards the end of Arrow season 4, in the show’s downward spiral. It can be argued that we are in the golden age of superhero movies. These movies are also breaking away from traditionally white casts and making more of an effort to diversify their characters. However, characters of colour all too often get the short end of the stick with few lines and hardly any screen time (case in point: Katana in Suicide Squad). A queer superhero is also yet to be portrayed on the big screen. There is much work yet to be done but with long awaited projects like the Black Widow solo movie and the Harley Quinn solo movie planned, the future may be bright for us superhero fans.
COMMENTARY | 15
CONTENT WARNINGS | MISOGYNY, SEXISM, SLURS/SWEARING, SLUTSHAMING
B R OT H E R S A N D S I S T E R S IN ARMS How do we open the dialogue about gender inequality with relatives? Words by RAE DALE
was driving my brothers home from school this year when my youngest brother said something I’ll never forget: “there’s year seven girls at my school going around dressed like sluts!” Panic. Horror. Fear. I gripped the steering wheel and tried to look in the rear-view mirror to see the expression on my brother’s face. I’ve been developing into a feminist my whole life, but up until that instant I’d never really thought about the movement in relation to my brothers. At that time, I was excited about Emma Watson’s HeForShe campaign, and her call for “men to take up this mantle [of feminism] so their daughters, sisters and mothers can be free from prejudice, but also so that their sons have permission to be vulnerable and human too.” But in hoping that her words reached the ears of men around the world I never even considered that my brothers, who would soon be men, would need to hear her message too.
By not talking about feminism beyond pointing out stupid stereotypes in ads on TV, my brother was left to his own devices. I’d had a foray into feminist discussion with my dad the year before, which was rewarding and educational for both of us – we thought along the same lines, but he’d never thought or spoken much about it before. When I asked him if he was a feminist he said “well I don’t really know a lot about it, but I know that women aren’t equal yet, so I suppose I am.” He’d come to this opinion through his experience in the world and workforce without much feminist teaching. It made me feel strangely upset to hear my own disadvantage voiced by my father, but it also made me feel that I had an ally in this movement I had become so passionate about. Flash forward to the car, my brothers and an ugly word.
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Briefly I thought ‘just let it go.’ I’m not proud of that thought – it’s that kind of apathy that allows vicious misogynist patterns to continue . But after that thought, I began to rant. I don’t remember exactly what I said, but it very much had the tone of a preacher invoking the fire of hell. That soon devolved into a desperate kind of reasoning, where I tried to explain the damage that words and views like the words he muttered can do. But years of learning about feminism cannot be conveyed in a stream of angry words tossed into the backseat of the car. I’m sure he realised that he’d upset me but I don’t know if he got the message. In that moment I realised the damage that my silence up until this point had done. By not talking about feminism beyond pointing out stupid stereotypes in ads on TV, my brother was left to his own devices. As awful as it is, I think most pre-teen boys go through a phase where they are awful towards girls. Unless every single household starts a conversation about respecting women, this vicious dialogue will continue. If I’m being totally honest even I had a phase like that, before I discovered feminism and thoughtful opinions. However, in that eye-opening moment I found an ally in my other younger brother. After my panicked rant, he turned in his seat and said ‘yeah, girls can do what they like.’ The experience made me realise something that I think we all forget – that the places where we can make the most change to gain equality and respect for women is in our own families. I was afraid of ‘indoctrinating’ my brothers, but I knew that at some level I needed to take a stand in defence of women. If we don’t talk about the things that matter with those we love, especially our brothers, they might become the people we fear the most. After this encounter, I searched for help on the internet but was surprised to find that there isn’t any advice out there about how to approach these subjects with a brother. The closest I could find was ‘Happy Parenting’ columnist Joanne Fedler’s advice about how to teach boys to respect girls, where she advises to surround them with good male and female role models and have open dialogue about sex and
gender. However, one of her points stood out to me – she tells us to “make it about people – sometimes we have to talk about gender differences… but in many instances, respect is about respecting people.” Though I took the wrong tone, calling my brother out was absolutely the right thing to do – ignored sexism is powerful sexism. The process is now about slowly chipping away at his pre-conceived prejudices, calling him out when he says I’m not wearing enough clothes, when I go to parties or when he makes fun of my makeup. I know it’s not my job to parent them, but I am in a unique position to show them what a woman is and how we expect to be treated. I recently had a phone call with my youngest brother where I asked him if he knew what feminism was. “I don’t know, girl-ism?” “It’s the belief that men and women should be equal.” “Oh, I believe that.” “Then you’re a feminist. Surprise!” This was followed by a short explanation of the many issues feminism deals with, but it was nothing complicated. Just a bit of knowledge to plant in his mind in order to guide his learning. But the best thing about it was that it was a calm discussion guided by the urge to educate rather than berate. And if he says something unpleasant again, I will take the same tone. I will explain why it’s not okay to call people sluts, that girls can wear what they choose and why sexist jokes aren’t just harmless jokes. I’ll try to make him consider the impact of his actions. I’ll take Joanne Fedler’s advice and make it about people by asking, “how would you feel if someone else’s brother called me a slut?” It’s confronting, maybe even a little mean, but that’s the sort of thought that catches in the mind. Misogyny and sexism are about dehumanisation, but by placing myself in the situation it would force him to see the humanity in someone else, to see them as his sister whom he once rescued from a bully in the ball pit even though both parties were six years older than him. That will put him on the path to seeing all women not just as his sister but also as people. Your brothers are going to hear crude things about women from various people in their life, and they’re going to come across stupid ‘get back in the kitchen’ jokes on the Internet. But they will also go through school, they will be exposed to all sorts of information and they will meet strong women. Like my other brother and my dad, they will hopefully discover this on their own. Hopefully I, and other sisters, can help them along that path. We need to think of it less in terms of indoctrination, and more in terms of helping our brothers to be kinder, more understanding and more respectful people. Though that may take time, hopefully one day they’ll become the kind of young man who sits beside their sister and says, “girls can do what they want.”
Illustration by ELOYSE MCCALL
COMMENTARY | 17
CONTENT WARNING | SEXISM
T H E A RT W O R L D H A S A GENDER PROBLEM Why have there been no great women artists? Words by AMELIA SAWARD
t’s been forty-five years since Linda Nochlin published her game changing essay ‘Why have there been no great women artists?’. It’s been thirty years since the Guerilla Girls called out the sexism in the art world of the ‘80s when they asked if women have to be nude to get into the Met. These were some of the earliest steps in raising awareness of the gender bias in the art industry that is so frequently swept under the carpet. These comments were a wake-up call to many and were considered radical for their time. Today however, the lack of progress we’ve made has left me a mix of burning anger and utter disappointment. Pussy Galore’s recent statistics, reminiscent of Guerilla Girl's, show change has not gone nearly far enough. In 2015 the average percentage of women represented in top NYC galleries was 29 percent. The lowest was five percent. Of course it needs to be acknowledged that some changes have occurred, such as access to art education and shifts in institutional structures that previously prevented women from succeeding. The art world’s gender bias is less obvious than it used to be, but it is still very real. As every woman in the art world knows, sexism in art is alive and well and it’s about time it gets an almighty kick in the you-know-where.
Whilst women artists have gained more opportunities in the years since the ‘70s and ‘80s, they are still underrepresented, especially at higher levels of the art industry. Even though there are ‘famous’ women artists, with the likes of Cindy Sherman gaining international profiles, this is still not the norm.
The art world portrays an image of diversity and inclusion that is not reflective of the truth. Despite the amount of feminist, queer and post-colonial art theory that has been introduced over recent decades, the majority of art education still perpetuates the traditional canon of art history. In my years studying art history at university, the majority of what is taught is still predominantly informed by Western, heterosexual and white men. Attempts to include more diverse material are generally segregated to specific weeks on feminist or post-colonial art and theory, rather than throughout courses. Encouragingly, a subject examining art and gender was introduced, however, this is still tokenistic when the rest of the course does not back-up an inclusive and intersectional art history.
Exhibitions, especially solo shows and works held in permanent collections are also lacking in diversity and representation. As far as my memory goes, I can’t remember a single major solo show at the NGV being given to a woman. Whilst they do exist, they are still unusual, and it is a problem in most major art museums across Europe, America and indeed, Australia. Furthermore, permanent collection rehangs often fail to take the opportunity to re-invent the art historical narrative, instead re-telling the same traditional masculine dominated history, preventing the narrative from evolving. Festivals and nontraditional art events appear to be leading the change. At this years Next Wave festival in Melbourne three quarters of exhibitors were women and 20 per cent of the artists were Indigenous. What’s more, the media cover artists who are men at a jaw-dropping higher rate, further perpetuating inequality. As many as 90 per cent of artists featured in art books in 2012 were men. This is staggering and deeply problematic as it is through art books and the media, along with art museums, that the general public engage with art. These mediums need to be used to educate on past and present inequalities instead of perpetuating tradition, to help ensure the future of the industry is a more equal place than it is today. Of course, just like in many other industries, there are structural issues that underpin much of the art world’s sexism. The senior positions are still overwhelmingly held by men, despite the artists at lower ranks of the industry and art students being predominately women. According to Art News, women ran 32 per cent of museums in the US in 2005 and by 2015 this was 42.6 per cent. While the increase is certainly a positive sign, these increases usually occur in smaller museums with lower budgets. Until the institutional structures of the art world embrace more diverse leadership, change will not occur.
Photography by JORDAN WATSON
The gender problem of the art industry may not be front page news, however, this is part of the problem. It is clear to many within the industry and yet the wider population remain somewhat oblivious. The numerous articles on the topic only reach those involved or with a strong interest. The sexism and inequality still present in the art world needs to be widely acknowledged and those at fault need to be held accountable. Unfortunately, major and often world-renowned institutions are among some of the worst perpetrators. Earlier this year, Elvis Richardson released a report on her ‘CoUNTess: Women Matter in the Art World’ blog showing that 74 per cent of visual art graduates in Australia are women, a number that doesn’t correspond with other categories, such as prize winners and museum exhibitors. Tamara Winikoff, Executive Director of the National Association for the Visual Arts (NAVA) stated that, “Despite the reputation of the arts as challenging outdated paradigms, it [the art industry] continues to fail on gender issues…We thought we’d won the battle in the ‘80s when the spotlight was shone on the systemic privileging of men in the arts. I hope this excellent report will rekindle the discussion and bring about a much needed change.” Art itself is a representation of life and has the ability to challenge the status quo and inflict change. The art world portrays an image of diversity and inclusion that is not reflective of the truth. Until the industry’s sexism problem is eliminated, the art industry is preventing art from doing what is does best. The historical and current propagation of traditional art historical narratives effectively censor the industry, allowing the voices of those with power to grow larger and stamping on those with little voice. This needs to change.
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CONTENT WARNING | MISOGYNY
DEAR JESS Words by LAUREN SANDERS To My Dearest Jess, You’ve been my best friend since we could walk and talk so I was thrilled to hear when you got engaged. You’ve not only found a man with whom you want to spend the rest of your days, but one who is worthy of your love and I know will enrich your life in the ways you always hoped. I couldn’t be happier for you, and when your wedding invitation arrived in the mail last week I could hardly contain my excitement. But the gulf between your dreams and my hopes for them widened when I saw I wasn’t actually invited by you at all. “Mr and Mrs James Mason and Mr and Mrs Andrew Crawford request your presence at the Marriage of Brendan and Jessica…” I’m not surprised you were basically mentioned as an afterthought, since your mother’s identity was completely subsumed by your father’s. But I was disappointed to realise that you let this happen; that after the ceremony the Jessica Crawford as I’ve always known won’t even exist anymore. Please don’t take this to heart. You know that women changing their names when they get married has always upset me. It may be arbitrary and patrilineal in origin, but your name is the first designation that marks you as a unique individual in the world. Becoming ‘Mrs’ Jessica Mason isn’t just about changing your name; it’s about changing your identity. Adopting this title will completely transform how other people perceive you. Titles aren’t just blank fields we fill out on forms in order to submit them. A man declaring a title is almost redundant, but for women it essentially functions to indicate marital status. I understand you’re probably relieved to leave the young, single, and presumably sexually available connotations of ‘Miss’ behind. But it’s sad that most men will probably only leave you alone now because you’re a married woman who is ‘off limits’, out of deference to your husband rather than out of respect for you. You know I have always elected 'Ms’ if I have to declare a title, regardless of my ‘marital status’. We used to joke about its undercurrents of a bitter divorcée or an old, lonely, cat-loving spinster who never found a man (or, even worse, decided she didn’t need one!), but at least we could take comfort in its ambiguity. You even found it hilariously ironic when I’d leave the title field blank, considering this option is only possible on old-fashioned handwritten forms. This wasn’t just to keep the bastards guessing, but because we both believed they didn’t have a right to know in the first place! We always said the only title we’d ever be proud to bear was ‘Dr’ – though sadly this would probably just cause more confusion since most people would assume we were men anyway. When I showed your invitation to my mum in shock, she defended these customs around names and titles as ‘tradition’. But marriage is a choice rather than a rite of passage and women have more equality than any other time in history. Just because you’re choosing to share your life with this man, doesn’t mean you need to lose yourself along the way. Now, more than ever, we have the freedom to question and challenge these limited and gendered assumptions demanded of us. I was just sad to see that you didn’t. … Lauren Sanders
LAUREN has always wanted to be many things. It just took her longer to become a writer than a feminist. 20 |
Illustration by JASMIN ISOBE
ZARA is currently studying a Bachelor of Fine Arts at the VCA. Their work generally addresses themes that stem from feminism and gender. @zarasully.artist 'Gendering' by ZARA SULLY
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CONTENT WARNINGS | DRUGS (ALCOHOL), FOOD, RACISM, SEXISM
R O L E P L AY I N G How does gender-based marketing pervade our general instinctual need to belong? Words by SUE-ANN CHAN
remember when I once met a self-proclaimed hippy at a college party. A 20-something with dreadlocks and eyes stained a seemingly permanent tint of red. Within ten minutes of our conversation he rolled up his sleeves, revealing a string of Chinese characters he told me he got to ‘look deep’. He didn’t speak Chinese, so for all he knew the tattooist could have marked him with something painfully mundane like ‘sunshine’ or ‘potato’. Deeper into our conversation, I realised he knew nothing about Chinese culture, nor did his lifestyle match his outward appearance. He was born in Toorak and now lived in a city apartment sponsored by his parents. The closest he ever got to nature was at a festival in the woods where he spent more time getting drunk than thinking about reducing his carbon footprint. He was merely performing the role of a hippy and thought that turning his arms into calligraphy scrolls would help him achieve the image. William Shakespeare once wrote, ‘All the world’s a stage and all the men and women merely players.’ Centuries later this saying still holds true. Farmers wear straw hats, business men sport ties and perfectly ironed shirts. Scouts wear badges, goths dress in black. But the earliest, most significant role we are given is our gender. Every wide-eyed, new born baby is assigned a part; their birth certificates an acting script with their role written in bold letters.
I still recall my very first acting debut: 6-year-old me eagerly headed to school on Halloween morning to find the girls in class forming a cloud of pink tulle. An obvious contrast from the boys: a bunch of menacing zombies and werewolves jousting with imaginary swords. During my preschool days, girls and boys generally mixed as well as oil and water; adding costumes only to highlight the segregation.
He was merely performing the role of a hippy, and thought that turning his arms into calligraphy scrolls would help him achieve the image. A week earlier, I had dragged my mother into a costume store, excitedly flipping through the costumes hanging like shed skin from the racks, in search of one I could slip into perfectly. The choices seemed endless to my inquisitive little mind, so you could imagine my disappointment when all I could find were Disney princesses glaring at me through the plastic packets. There were a few non-traditional options for girls too, but they all came with skirts and ruffles that wrapped them up in a bow of hyperfemininity. It was a stark contrast from the costumes for little boys that exuded toughness and actually passed for ‘frightening’. “I have the perfect costume for you’’ an overenthusiastic saleswoman towered over me, shaking a glittery green Tinkerbell dress in my unamused face. I walked out of the store shortly after.
Illustrations by AMIE GREEN
That Halloween, I performed a skit with the rest of my class, feeling a little out of place in the get up my mother put together, a mad scientist among all the angels and Princess Jasmines. There were a couple of girls dressed as zombies but we were outnumbered by sequins, pastels and puffy skirts. I recited my lines and bowed for the audience. A group of girls twirled in unison and I was washed away by a sea of pink tulle. As each Halloween passes we sweep away the fake cobwebs and discard leftover candy, but children cannot peel off their gender roles as easily as they do their costumes. Girls spend their lives perfecting feminine roles, and boys are constantly redefining their dominant, assertive ones. All children are actors: the playground is their stage; their uniforms, their costumes; their fellow pupils, keen audiences and their teachers, their directors reading them stories about helpless princesses in towers waiting to be rescued by gallant princes. ‘Boys are tough.' ‘Girls must be ladylike.' And God forbid if a boy wants to paint his toenails. One would think that once we reach adulthood, we would shed these roles the way we shed our old school uniforms, now too small for our grown limbs. But we actually exchange them for new roles that further contrast the genders. A little girl slips off her glittery pink sandals when she graduates primary school, only to find a spindly pair of stilettos waiting for her as part of the office dress code when she starts work. Gendered products creep into our purses in the form of pink razors, floral deodorant bottles and products slapped with the label ‘for her’. Gender-based marketing is evident in pink credit cards for women and
the salesperson who points our little brothers in the direction of superhero outfits. It is Barbie dolls that dominate the girl’s section of Toys "R" Us and there must be a pink bib around your baby cousin’s neck – the ever-so-important signal that she is indeed a girl. Gender-based marketing appeals to our instinctive need to belong to a group. We shape our identities off the books we read, the songs we listen to and the gender we identify with. Even as grown-ups, the playground mentality of ‘boys vs. girls’ still exists, and corporations gladly capitalize off the way we conform to these invisible rules. Life is one continuous play and the velvet stage curtain only drops at the very end. I am not condemning girls who wear make-up and dainty dresses they purchased with their pink credit cards. In fact, I embrace my feminine side too; I wear skirts and makeup, heck I even own a Hello Kitty debit card. My point is that such a harsh divide between the two genders is unnatural. We do not need such rigid gender roles. We do not need corporations to teach little girls that the ideal woman wears a skirt and that boys can’t look up to Cinderella instead of G.I. Joe. And we certainly do not need gendered razors or gendered soap. I happen to find the odourless quality of men’s lotion quite pleasant. Often, I would buy men’s soap just to avoid the dreaded ‘pink tax’, the hidden punishment for buying ‘female’ products. Before bed tonight, I will shave my legs with a ‘man’s razor’. The blade just happens to be much sharper. I’ve had it since I was fifteen, but each time I use it, it still feels like rebellion.
CONTENT WARNINGS | ANXIETY, DEATH (MENTION), DRUGS (MENTION)
AURAL ELIXER Growing up through discovering music. Words by IRYNA BYELYAYEVA
hen I was twelve I was given my first mp3 player. It was small and smooth, like a skipping stone, and had a baby blue case that I hated in public but liked in secret because it reminded me of the sky in winter. The little mp3 player replaced my portable cassette player and my disc-man; symbols of my childhood. I was about to become a teenager and it was time to get serious. I spent countless hours after school, too distracted to take off my thick, badly-fitted uniform, downloading singles on Limewire. The next morning, I played them on repeat on the tram ride to school – each high and low note, each lyric coloured my day into something fantastic. No minute spent with that mp3 player felt wasted as it brought me closer to my goal – I wanted to be a person who could sit you down, put on the perfect song and lead your troubles out the door. I dreamt about having hoards of music like potion bottles that I could use to help people and make them feel happier. But to be that person you need to know a lot of songs.
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When I was thirteen my parents bought me a very low-tech stereo, and it was now vital to have a stack of CDs next to it. At some point I realised that listening to one song is seeing one colour of the rainbow. JB Hi-Fi sold whole rainbows for $10. Each time I went into the ‘Classic Rock’ section I got butterflies. Flipping through those flimsy plastic cases, pouring over which cover art looked the most interesting (I’ll admit I bought Cream’s Disraeli Gears just because of the cover) felt like a journey. Each band brought me to the doorstep of another. Through Cream I found Black Sabbath. The Beatles led me to Pink Floyd. I didn’t care what the musicians’ names were or who had replaced who when one of them died of an overdose. All that was important was that their music made me feel like something good was going to happen. Sitting alone in my room, right in front of the stereo so the volume wasn’t too loud, I wrote the lyrics over my cheesy watercolour paintings. When I was sixteen, the legitimacy of my taste in music was questioned
more and more, by almost everyone I knew. “What’s your favourite Stones album?” a customer at work asked, raising his eyebrows. I mumbled that I wasn’t good at picking favourites. “C’mon! You can’t wear a Stones t-shirt and not have a favourite album!” Under pressure, Tattoo You was the only name I could remember (it’s written in big letters on the cover of the album). He scrunched up his nose at my choice but accepted that I had, at least, given him an answer. Still, that encounter was better than the times I was told that it was “sweet” that I liked old rock and blues. Data storage had gotten bigger, my old mp3 player was out of date, and if I liked a band I needed prove it by knowing their entire discography. Pure love had matured into smart love and was leaving me behind. When I was seventeen it started to become difficult. Hormones and social constructs started to clash. I became more aware of people’s perceptions of me and that hard rock aesthetically clashed with my generally clean, quiet demeanour. It looked like I was faking it.
Nevertheless, I saved up money and bought myself a birthday present: my first record player. It came with no lid, a soon-to-be-broken needle and constant questioning from my parents about whether I was just trying to impress a boy. That record player sounded terrible but it was mine and I loved it. Whenever I was stressed I watched the music spin hypnotically, the grooves reminding me of ripples in a mug of black coffee. I took extra care to line the needle up perfectly to the beginning of a song and for a moment, everything felt peaceful. When I was eighteen it stopped feeling good again. I grew more anxious and less engaged with music and the people around me. Each month veiled the records and CDs in a new layer of dust. Popular radio stations played song after song by artists I couldn’t convince myself to care about, but were easier to understand. I listened to music through cheap earphones that blended all the magical, separate sounds into one big mess with no bass. My dream of playing songs to make people feel better wasn’t an option anymore because I couldn’t even choose the right song for
Illustrations by AMELIA SAWARD
myself. Of course, I discovered some contemporary artists who still make my heart swell but, for the most part, colours were fading around me, anxiety was seeping in and, finally, I imploded. When I was twenty I spent months sitting in a room overpowered by silence, not knowing how to put everything back into motion. I wasn’t seeing friends, I wasn’t listening to my records and I certainly wasn’t searching for new music. The collection in my head hadn’t just become stagnant, it seemed to be evaporating. I couldn’t remember what things sounded like. Everything was heavy and difficult and the silence was solidifying and weighing down on me. I cried all the time because I couldn’t figure out how I’d ended up in that place. One night, after already having spent hours lying motionless on my bed with just a small lamp to shield me from total darkness, I got up. Ignoring how much my head was spinning, I walked over to my dormant turntable and with one deep breath, blew off the dust. I didn’t want to sit in silence anymore. I drew a record from its sleeve, placed it on the turntable bedding
and watched it spin, creating a sense of movement in that still room. Then, determined, I tried to line the needle up perfectly. My hands were shaking, waiting to hear that crackle. The heaviness was lifted thanks to many things, but step one was letting Brian Eno back into my life that night. Little by little, my room became an oasis again – a safe haven for non-judgemental exploration of musical wizards, no matter what era they’re from. Now I’m twenty-one and something has switched back on in my head. I have a new turntable and speakers, an expanding record collection and even a Spotify account. Depending on my mood, I know what to put on to feel like something magical is going to happen. I still can’t pick the perfect song to make you feel lighter, but there’s years of experience and good tunes to come.
IRYNA is a creative lady who listens to music obsessively, writes enthusiastically and runs a Facebook page called ‘Good Vibes Daily’ lovingly. COMMENTARY | 25
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CONTENT WARNING | SEXISM
OCEAN CHILD Who is Yoko Ono outside of her relationship to John Lennon? Words by ANNABELLE JARRETT
ust like many other kids of my generation, I was raised on The Beatles. ‘Twist and Shout’, ‘I Wanna Hold Your Hand’, Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club; this was the music of countless car trips, painstakingly curated by one parent as the other drove. And for as long as I knew about The Beatles, so too did I know about Yoko Ono. Specifically, I knew of her as that hippie woman who convinced John Lennon to leave the Beatles and join her in bed for a week. I knew her as we all knew her, in the context of this dominant popular discourse. Urban Dictionary defines ‘Yoko’ as a woman who interferes with a (male) friendship and ‘pulling a Yoko Ono’ is a woman successfully breaking up a friendship or friendship group. A search on Google yields countless results along those same lines. Similarly in mainstream media, there are numerous examples of Yoko’s name and image being used as a punch line in television and film. Reflecting on my childhood, I can’t even remember knowing of Yoko aside from this conditioned feeling that she was ‘troublesome’ in some way. It took years before I began to separate her existence from the conversation surrounding her and I am all too aware that many will probably never do the same. Is this fair? Can this woman’s entire existence be reduced to a mere ‘meddlesome outside woman’ trope? Male-gaze driven media has placed the weight of the Beatles’ disbandment on Yoko Ono’s shoulders, making her a living embodiment of how mainstream media merely reinforces patriarchal ideals.
Yoko’s most well-known creation and was heralded as one of the first examples of conceptual art. It outlines a number of poems that work as instructions for the reader which they can choose to act out. She continues to be highly influential for a number of artists, musicians, photographers, and other creatives worldwide. Her art has been shown all over the world; her recent Golden Ladders exhibition was received in Beijing’s 798 art space. This is only the smallest taste of some of her early art. It is truly impossible to outline the work and influences of Yoko Ono, so massive is her reach all over the world. And it is for this reason that the nature of her presence in popular discourse is so heartbreaking. Not only is it unfair for the life of any woman to be reduced to their impact on their husband, the fact that Yoko’s life and work is so compelling and influential outside of John Lennon makes her tainted legacy all the more baffling. Ocean Child, we owe you an apology. You don’t deserve this. Instead of knowing you only in the context of a man you decided to marry, let’s remember you as you were and continue to be through your '80s. As an artist, a musician, a feminist, a mother, a pacifist, a lover, a fighter and a strong fucking woman. This should be, and is, your true legacy.
The more I look into Yoko Ono the more I grow to admire her. So just who is she, outside of The Beatles? Yoko Ono’s name translates to ‘ocean child’ in Japanese. Born 1933 in Tokyo, her family moved around a lot during her childhood so she studied both in Japan and in the United States. She successfully established herself within the avant-garde artist’s scene of New York City, and was a highly influential artist across various mediums. Her 1964 Cut Piece was ground-breaking in the performance art scene. Also from 1964, her book Grapefruit is arguably
Illustration by AYONTI MAHREEN HUQ
ANNABELLE is in her last semester of Arts. She likes writing, following Korean dogs' instagram accounts, taking naps, and pale lagers.
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CONTENT WARNINGS | EATING DISORDER, FATPHOBIA, FOOD
CHASING CONTROL Life with, and recovering from, anorexia. Words by EMMA MISSEN
1. THE KITCHEN The house is silent. This momentary window of solitude allows me to empty the contents of the vegetable crisper onto the bench unobserved. It’s early, but sleep doesn’t endure when your stomach is growling. Pleased by the grumbles, I enjoy fleeting happiness of successful self-control. I am hungry, just as I should be. I dice onion, garlic, capsicum, tomato, zucchini and mushrooms and scrape them into an un-oiled pan. I toast up one slice of wholegrain, sourdough, low salt bread and wait for the vegies to soften. I dump the vegies unceremoniously on top of the dry toast with little concern for aesthetics. The meal is safe, and that’s all that matters. The internal calorie calculator whirrs into action, estimating at 200. Not bad at all. Before I sit down, I hesitate at the fridge – the dish would be improved by cheese. But no, we all know how that ends – girls who eat cheese are fat and out of control. Their dimpled thighs jiggle and rub together when they walk, and they chow down immoderate quantities of calorific foods to suppress their unhappiness. I am not like them, I tell myself, and continue to the table.
2. THE BATHROOM I undress slowly, wishing I didn’t have to see my body, but nonetheless compelled to look. I shiver, covered in goose bumps, despite the balmy air. I step onto the toilet seat to get a fuller view of myself. The increasing visibility of my ribs and hipbones is gratifying, but this success is overshadowed by my inelegantly bulging, wobbly thighs. They mark me as a curvaceous hideous pear, not the sinewy ruler-straight column I am striving for. I step down screaming on the inside. Why won’t my thighs be disciplined? Unsatisfied, I move over to the scales. They creak as I place one foot, then the other, onto the cold plastic surface. Good news – I weigh less than yesterday. I must be doing something right. In the shower, I am confused but resolute. Proud of myself for losing weight, and for burning calories while shoving myself under a cold shower, yet angry at my uncooperative thighs. I commit to trying harder. Self-hatred surges through me as I slap my thighs, watching the cellulite jiggle hideously. I disgust myself. I am fat.
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3. THE CAFÉ “I’m not hungry.” I feel a glow of pride spread through me, despite feeling dizzy and vaguely disoriented. Mum orders her hot chocolate and sits down opposite me. It amazes me that someone so intelligent can order something so sugary, so bad. I survey the cakes, muffins and focaccias in the cabinet, mentally listing off all the reasons why I wouldn’t eat any of these offerings – too fatty, full of starch and no fibre, too high in salt, cooked in oil. There is a myriad of wise justifications. I gaze at others drinking coffee and sharing cake. They chat comfortably, and bust intermittently into peals of laughter. I feel a pang of jealousy for their seeming self-confidence and unhurried contentment, but a scathing rebuke immediately follows. I should know better by now – the discipline I am showing will pay off eventually, because one day I will be perfect and happy. One day it will be me breezing through each day while they wrestle their own imperfections and fears. One day.
1. THE HOSPITAL Words, movements and people blur together, rendering them incomprehensible. Suddenly, I am sobbing uncontrollably in the most embarrassingly loud and obvious way. I was coping, so why do I suddenly feel so broken? Someone puts their arm around me and tells me it’s going to be alright, but it doesn’t feel like it. I can’t do this. It is too confusing. Almost everything I taught myself was healthy is now false, and almost everything I thought was bad I now must eat. Every mouthful of feared food feels like a step closer to the body and the life I have been hiding from. The walls of rules that protected me are crumbling, and I am breaking, my stomach tearing in two. An uncomfortable realisation gnaws at me from the inside – I am severely unwell. And with this knowledge comes a choice – to continue on this path of misery I have fashioned for myself, or to take the first steps towards health and a shot at happiness. For once, the choice seems clear, but the path less so. I am undersigning a contract whose terms are invisible to me, spurred on by the faintest inkling that this is the right decision to make.
2. THE BED The two tim tams and glass of milo I had for supper seem to have wedged themselves in a tight bundle at the end of my oesophagus. For reassurance my hands automatically reach down towards my hipbones, but I hold them back. No, I tell myself, that will only make this worse than it already is. I curse myself for getting cocky and eating such a challenging supper before being truly ready. I am far from comfortable with these foods. There is no pleasure in eating them. Instead, the process is a laborious struggle of wills, and the aftermath is potent shame. But what’s done is done. So I lie alone, and pretend to be asleep when the night nurse comes past with her torch. But I am not asleep, I am expanding, I can definitely feel it. And with every millimetre that I expand, a feeling of intense self-hatred boils up even more. A mantra begins to cycle – I hate myself, I hate myself, I hate myself and so on until the record crackles and is replaced by uneasy sleep.
3. THE YOGA STUDIO I lie on a purple ribbed mat, feeling my weight rest on the earth, attempting to focus my attention on my breath – in, out, in, out. The rhythmic pattern soothes me. Soon, I am on all fours, oscillating between cat and cow, feeling the alternate length and contraction in my spine. Then I am up, supporting myself on hands and feet, gazing through my arms to my knees – downward-facing dog. My arms shake slightly, but I stay resolutely in position until the instruction to move, trusting that I am stronger than I imagine. In warrior two, I feel the power in my legs, and survey my arm span. Back in cross-legged position, I fold forwards, resting my forehead on the earth, breathing away the tension in my hips and inner thighs. Finally, I lie back on my mat and return my attention to the breath – in, out, in, out. With each breath, I get closer to arriving. Arriving not at the annihilation of all the pain in my past, but instead the acceptance of this pain and its probable continuance. Within me, I feel strength. The strength to continue. The strength to, against all odds, be me.
Studying Arts, EMMA is majoring in French and Politics. She volunteers with beyondblue and Vinnies, and enjoys yoga, gardening, cooking, reading and writing. Illustrations by JASMIN ISOBE
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CONTENT WARNINGS | ABORTION (MENTION), MISOGYNY, QUEERPHOBIA (MENTION), SEX (MENTION)
T H A N K T H E '60 S FOR THE BOOKS Australia's censorship and confiscation of 'obscene' literature. Words by LACHEAN HUMPHREYS
n 2005, Nicole Moore found a bibliophile’s gravy train: 793 boxes full of books in the Australian Customs archive that, prior to 1973, Australians weren’t allowed to read. Before 1973, the power to censor imported books resided with Australian Customs. Yep – if you were carrying any risky texts with you to read on the plane, Customs could seize your books at the Australian border. What could have been confiscated? Works by Aldous Huxley, Henry Miller, George Orwell, Ernest Hemingway, James Joyce, D.H. Lawrence and even Australian-born author, Christina Stead, to name a few. In many cases, Australian Customs dubbed titles that were being read widely in America and Europe obscene. Many books with high literary acclaim were banned, deemed unsuitable for an Australian audience. ‘The main reason for censorship in Australia was ‘offensive obscenity’, as it was classified’, Nicole Moore writes in her exposé on the history of Australian book censorship. Just what exactly constituted ‘obscene’ subject matter would probably surprise you. Most people could tell you Lady Chatterley’s Lover was a banned book. It’s infamous for it; it became such a notorious prohibition that the ban arguably cinched its status as a classic. It was banned from importation in Australia in 1929. But what else wouldn’t you have gotten out of the airport with back before 1973?
Any book ruminating on themes of infidelity, promiscuity, pre-marital sex, abortion or contraception, or which challenged traditional moral values ran a chance of copping a red X from Customs. Here are some examples. Published in 1951, The Catcher in the Rye sold millions of copies in America and was a ground breaking book for teens and young adults. In 1957, before it garnered a similar effect here, it was banned in Australia. Another example is James Baldwin’s Another Country, which was banned for obscenity in 1963. The book contains themes of bisexuality, interracial sexual relations and infidelity. This was a case that inspired public outcry as ‘newspaper protests again insisted that only in Ireland and South Africa were censors worse than in Australia, but even apartheid South Africa did not ban Baldwin’s book’. The case later gained even more attention when the deputy leader of the opposition Labor Party, Gough Whitlam, had his illegal copy seized by customs in 1964. These cases incited outrage and inspired anti-censorship campaigns, coinciding with the full sway of the swinging ‘60s – and the sexual revolution. This was a social movement of sexual liberation throughout the Western world: long-held traditions were being challenged and sexual freedom encouraged.
This conviction later prevented her from joining the NSW Bar Association and pursuing a career in law. Bacon was only one among the many campaigners at the time who led the ideological war against Australian censorship. Between 1969 and 1973, under Don Chipp as Minister for Customs and Excise, Australia saw radical reform to its censorship laws that lead to what we now recognise as our current classification system. The Whitlam Labor government was elected late in 1972. In early 1973, the administration of federal censorship was removed from the Department of Customs and transferred to the Attorney-General’s Department. The Whitlam government also acted on behalf of the National Literature Board of Review to examine the 49 titles that still remained on the literary banned list, and by the end of 1973, the list of banned literary titles was reduced to zero. Australia was witnessing the first glimpses of the normalisation of pre-marital sex, contraception, pornography, and the acceptance of homosexuality and alternate forms of sexuality. More than this, it was seeing a profound change in attitudes. So, censorship was being challenged and certainly, some books were released. But it was far from over. Lady Chatterley’s Lover was still banned in 1963 (remembering it was banned in Australia in 1929, under the auspices of the moral values of the time), though it had been released in Britain in November 1960. In 1965, Henry Miller still had six titles on the banned list for sexual explicitness, including the iconic Tropic of Cancer. The late ‘60s saw the rise of prominent activist, Wendy Bacon. Bacon was the editor of University of New South Wales student newspaper, Tharunka (itself a boundary-pushing publication) and was also involved in the distribution of a banned book by the title of The Little Red Schoolbook. The book was controversial around the world after its publication in 1969. It covers themes of sex and drugs in particular. In 1971, Bacon attended Central Court dressed as a nun, with a sexual slogan sewn on the habit. She was convicted of 'exhibiting an obscene publication', and spent a week in Mulawa Women’s Prison while awaiting sentence, which turned out be a good behaviour bond.
Illustrations by AMELIA SAWARD
We owe a lot to the men and women who campaigned for free speech at large and specifically for access to literary books – which are so often a gateway to understanding sexuality, relationships, society and our place in it. These ‘60s crusaders took a big step in ensuring that going forward, young people in Australia wouldn’t know the same taboo on contraception, abortion, challenging gender roles or asserting ourselves, our values and beliefs. In 2016, we have the freedom to read what we like. And you can thank the ‘60s that some of the world’s best literary works were released from customs’ grasp.
LACHIE has spent this academic year researching censorship in Australia. She's an assistant magazine editor and parts ways with the University of Melbourne at the end of this semester.
COMMENTARY | 31
THE NICE GUYS Let's talk about the surprising gender commentary found in the testosterone-charged Hollywood comedy. Words by CHLOE WOOD
hane Black’s latest comedy, a murder-mystery set in 1977 Los Angeles starring Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe, promises 116 minutes of porn star parties, glorious one-liners, gore and amateur detective blunders. The story follows the glittering blunders of P.I. Holland March (Gosling) and untrained justice-enthusiast Jackson Healey (Crowe). Their quest: to locate Amelia (Margaret Qualley), daughter of head of Department of Justice Judith Kuttner (Kim Basinger) following a series of deaths surrounding the affiliates of an experimental film, geared to expose the atrocities of Detroit’s capitalist rulers. March’s thirteen-year old daughter Holly (Angourie Rice) tags along for the ride, soon finding herself caught up in the ensuing violence of the private investigation. The film lives up to the assertions of its promos, leaving viewers cackling, cringing and biting their fingernails. Nonetheless, a subtle feminist undercurrent parallels these machismo exploits in a way that is both unexpected and adds supreme complexity. This is a story mourning the breakdown of female-female relationships and the dissolution of the family unit (with the rise of feminist career empowerment in the 1970s) as much as it is about cars, explosions and handing out persuasive spiral fractures. The disappearances of Amelia and comrades of the ultra-secretive pornographic film central to the plotline are later revealed to be the calculated hits of the Department of Justice, in a bid to obscure the capitalist atrocities meted out at the expense of the people of Detroit. The film exposes and embarrasses these horrors, though at a personal level Amelia nurtures the project to symbolically create a division between her and her destructive mother, now an unrecognisable tyrant divorced from the protective maternal figure of her childhood.
Intriguingly, these murders are calculated by Amelia’s own mother, Judith; essentially we have American citizens betrayed by their “motherland” on the one hand, paralleled by Amelia’s mother’s double-crossing in the other. The allegory of capitalism’s alienating effect on its people has been empiricised in the likes of the quintessential American household in the 1970s in the midst of the Women’s Liberation era, where the archetypal mother figure began to disintegrate in favour of females leaving the kitchen and building careers. Thus, Amelia’s mother pursues career success at the cost of her role as a mother, with devastating effects extending beyond the likes of their family. The bloodthirsty nature of Amelia’s mother reflects the deleterious influences of mammon-chasing, which have turned her into a loveless, unsympathetic monster willing to murder civilians and endanger her own daughter to serve a political purpose. At the interpersonal level, the socially-reinforced pact between mother and daughter has been broken at the hands of capitalist society. The effects of a daughter deprived of a nurturing maternal figure are made manifest in March’s daughter Holly. From the film’s commencement, we can sense the girl’s raw, wounded temperament. Growing up sans-mother with an alcoholic father has culminated in a young woman hesitant to trust but keen to find truth in an unsure world. Early on, March presses her whether she thinks he is a bad person, to which a matter-of-fact “yeah!” is reflexive. Holly is not concerned with the character of her dad as judged by such prescriptive social standards; instead, she presses him continually for pacts of truth, as in their endless pinkie-promises.
In a bid to become closer to her unreliable dad, as well as chase an enticing mystery, Holly quickly becomes entangled in the investigation. The youngster finds herself empathising with and looking out for the elusive Amelia, much as if she were the sister she never had. This concept is given substance where at a porn star party, Holly introduces herself as Amelia’s younger sister to learn her whereabouts. The feminine connection craved by both women culminates in a scene where Holly tends to the wounded Amelia in her bedroom. Allegorically, their patchwork family has moved another step towards fulfilment. Enter Healey, the pseudo-mother figure who completes the broken family of Holly and March. In such an industrialised existence, the drive for love consumes the preoccupations of both Healey and Holly. The detective-wanna-be asserts in a moment of co-worker tenderness he just wants to feel important and valued. Hence his immense inner conflict when Holly declares that if he kills the villain at hand, she will never speak to him again. Another interesting parallel in the film is the medium of movies as a means of portraying sexual acts. Where Amelia’s experimental movie is deemed a flagrant, distasteful depiction of sex to garner attention for a higher purpose, the porn star party March, Healey and Holly attend lauds pornographic films as a celebration of form complete in itself. Holly watches one of these films alongside its proud protagonist; rather than a perverted scene, this is a shared moment of learning between figurative mother and daughter, or perhaps even
Illustrations by AYONTI MAHREEN HUQ
sisters. Where capitalist society and a demented maternality assert that the naked body is a monstrosity to be ashamed of, many of the subversive characters honour the liberation of sexual desire. The wishes of the individual and an openness of communication where interpersonal relationships are concerned thus lie in stark contrast with the closed, emotionally impervious political agents such as Judith who are implied to be products of their socio-occupational environments. The Nice Guys is thus a complex expression of feminism. Judith’s desire to succeed in her occupational ambitions creates short-sightedness in her tending to the concerns and disquiet of daughter Amelia. This creates an argument for the pressures placed on women in an era where domestic and paid careers were equally viable. Equally, it would be unfair to assume that Holly’s teen disturbia is due solely to her lack of a textbook cookie-baking mother to shape her into a “real woman.” Rather, we may say that at a subtler level, the film is a mourning tribute to the dissolution of the modular family unit in modern society. The days where a mother will pursue her daughter into hiding in an effect to stifle a political uprising are bleak ones indeed, just as a young daughter must search for nurturing parental figures in her father’s work colleagues. Shane Black’s rendering of a comedic murder-mystery should be applauded for its exploration of such socio-political concerns under the guise of a light-hearted satire.
CHLOE is a first-year undergraduate student at the University of Melbourne, figuring out her degree and her life one day at a time.
COMMENTARY | 33
NATALIE is a very tired Doctor of Medicine student who hopes to one day illustrate medical textbooks and write childrenâ€™s books. @facebook.com/earliestalien
'Ursa Major and Ursa Minor' by NATALIE KIM SEILER
C R E AT I V E
Illustration by ELOYSE MCCALL
CONTENT WARNINGS | BODY GORE, RACISM, SEX
TO M E N O N T I N D E R WHO OPEN WITH NI HAO Words by SUE-ANN CHAN You arrive at my borderline, compass in pocket for I am foreign land, and you, thirsty voyager dividing my flesh into counties with dirty fingernails. You stick flags along my spine, a lonesome traveller sailing down my lips. Seeking a China doll, submissive doll, all the while forgetting I am 4 feet 10 of flesh and hard bone. But you don’t see skin, you see origami paper. And those fingers, they’re aching to fold me slice my individuality in half with that tongue that rolls me into bite-sized pieces. Like meat on a plate, legs spread like chopsticks. Chop up my limbs. Stuff ‘em in a plastic bag. Thank you, come again!
I am lovely dumpling girl curtsying behind take-out box walls and you eat me with a fork, doused in soya sauce and ignorance But mind you, I taste like opinions. Dipped in blood so strong, so fiery I’d give you indigestion. I’d drown you in the ocean between my legs. These waves, they are wild enough to sink your love-struck ship. And I pity the men who wash up on my shores mistaking me for lands that promise floral fans and mandarin orange summers When what I am is a woman nothing more, nothing less.
Illustration by AYONTI MAHREEN HUQ
CONTENT WARNINGS | ANIMAL GORE, BLOOD, VIOLENCE
THREE CHILDREN Words by MORGAN-LEE SNELL
“Let’s put him down,” the oldest says, and the smallest claps him on the head, the dying rabbit, with a fallen branch. Three depleting hops, a failed escape plan, the dying rabbit, shattered ceramic of his skull peeking through the gash in his fur, and the oldest says “Let’s put him out of his misery,” and pummels him with a rock, the dead rabbit, flinging blooms of blood through grey grass. And the two boys draw themselves up tall, men now, while the smallest sniffles, sitting back on her haunches, salty lines trailing down dirty cheeks. A windmill squeaks in the distance– the rusted wheel of an old tricycle.
Illustration by EMMA JENSEN
CREATIVE | 37
Photography by JORDAN WATSON
Photography by JORDAN WATSON
A C H I L D U N D E R S TA N D I N G CONSCIOUSNESS Words by OLIVIA HART
too wide eyed to feel the coldness of having a drunken parent instead you’ll feel a vacant pain when He cannot prevent it and you'll ask for her second chance because you’ve met your quota of amen’s but you know the heavens won’t be kind this time when she makes that choice again to think this fate was given to you is the devils sigh on your shoulder your angel who talks she doesn't really talk but you wont know until you’re much older if you’ve grown up to decide you don't want the things that you were taught to then run away now, try climbing the clouds to blend in you just have to be blue
OLIVIA is a second year Bachelor of Arts student, majoring in Creative Writing and Screen Studies at the University of Melbourne. 42 |
Illustration by EMMA JENSEN
CONTENT WARNING | BLOOD (MINOR)
FA M I LY T R E E Words by MAGGY LIU
mother says blood is thicker than water and I wonder if rose-tinted viscosity obscures reality and feeds deep-rooted problems into gnarly family trees twisted canopies seek sunshine in mindfully constructed forests filled with fake dew-drop perfection, and find no nourishment in the tired soils thatâ€™s why we canâ€™t just bury the wretched hatchet we must use it till the sun rises and the earth heals and the rain washes the memories away only then can we be free
MAGGY loves to embellish her rather ordinary life with hastily strung together words and poorly composed pictures. There's more of that at www.maggyliu.com. Illustration by FLORA LEUNG
44 | CREATIVE
'11PM' by NATALIE KIM SEILER
HIDE AND SEEK Words by ROSE KENNEDY
What is left unsaid lingers between us. Growing on itself it feeds. A hurtling tornado that gathers the debris from houses in the eye of the storm. Where we go from here is unknown. Sifting through the remains. Plastic gloves snapping on our wrists we search, busily avoiding the storm in the other’s eye. Who will we be now that ‘we’ has gone. Stuffing cotton wool in ears we scrunch up our eyes. Now you can’t see me. I am hidden.
ROSE is a serial loiterer who enjoys playing fiddles and sitting on the roof. Every now and again she sings a ditty.
H I CC U P I N H E R E D I TA R Y Words by LILY STEINER-JONES
[Complete, utter, absolute Jitter of scampering nerves. With a semi quaver Resounding in my limbs Through a cyclical recital of the One, Single, Jilted note.] Hindering and hijacking And holding me hostage. A beginning; again And again twice more Your instrument attacked. Your seed and sap Your deeds and maps Were splattered upon blank canvases; Creating a sojourn For the ephemeral vessel That is my cells. When your work is done, Whatâ€™s left is end; An end, And thrice more; Crecendoing In the most ill-timed Of ill times. Yet Always, Constantly, Perpetually: An inexorable tremor. Why stay? Kindly please get the fuck away.
A physiological or physical or metaphysical Sort of something: The Epitome, The literal Embodiment Of my innerâ€™s depravity- NoMy innerâ€™s moral blemish, Which even a change in my last initial Will not erase. To which of you do I owe the thanks? For I really must thank thee for thine glorious gifts. Of intellect? Of confidence? Of fear? [Of the appearance of it all as such.] It remains, my dear, that Your fruits To my dismay (And delight) Have doubly manifested Both on my sleeve And in the heart That sleeve too readily bears. [But that knack For empowering, controlling, possessing The strings and notes and keys So expertly performed by yourself Has ironically circumvented This particular generation Of cells.]
LILY is a first year Arts student who writes poems and playscripts for the hell of it.
Illustration by ELOYSE MCCALL
CONTENT WARNING | DRUGS (ALCOHOL)
EIGHT WEEKS Words by MORGAN HOPCROFT
5pm: My stomach is rumbling but I am not really hungry when Mum rings, I tell her we’re “still friends”. The tones of a lie emanate through the phone but it doesn’t mean much anymore. 6pm: It is your birthday nineteen years and by the Facebook posts— dozens of them— I can see that in the eight weeks of my absence you have kept yourself busy. 8pm: I am trying to keep busy but I just spend my nights drinking and drinking and drinking and my days sleeping and sleeping and sleeping. 9pm: Your number has vanished from my phone I don’t call you when my glasses dry up and get stacked up at the bar like an intricate sculpture so close to shattering. 12am: My hands become fluid and restless I start to head home exhausted, divinely drunk my feet like liquid dripping into the abyss-like puddles as I become a part of the depraved city streets.
1:30am: I look out the window To see if your car is circling the street searching for a parking spot in your speedy eagerness to see me. 2am: I look up the train times to know exactly how far away from you I am in these tedious Public Transport Victoria minutes 2:15am My brain has turned to fog I can’t recall if your stop was Glen Waverly or Mount Waverly. The journey is no longer committed to memory and the trains stopped running a while ago. 3am: My head hits the pillow like it hasn’t felt sleep in a decade but it’s only been eight weeks and we’re “still friends” like I keep telling Mum. 3:30am: I finally close my eyes because it hasn’t been your birthday for three hours and I can finally sleep. 4am: It has been harder for me than you These eight weeks maybe the next eight will prove much better.
MORGAN majors in Politics as part of her BA. She's written for Farrago and BOLD magazine and her feminist icon is Lisa Simpson.
Illustration by JASMIN ISOBE
PA S S I N G A N OT H E R Words by HAYLEY FRANKLIN
Thinking about the colour pink the inkling of a sigh and the way your hair kinks out from under that trucker cap I told you not to wear The small-scale heartbreak love-tinted loneliness left on my doorstep last week when you fled for a pilgrimage or the 5am fleet I prepare my baptismal bath salts and the torn pages of a Neruda book I stole from you full of copied essay notes and depressed rose petals I soak away my sorrows in lone-scented loveliness until the water goes cold and instead of bubbles I have unwanted clarity.
HAYLEY is a pink-tinted post-teen who writes poems and makes films. She often takes days off just to stay home and make pancakes. 50 |
Illustration by EMMA JENSEN
CONTENT WARNINGS | GENITALIA, SEX
D I S O R I E N TAT I O N Words by CERA MAREE BROWN Lose me in the labial embrace of your lips I have forgotten this part of myself Sometimes to exist in the present structure of the moment, to face the plywood walls of boundaries of labels, you pack up parts of yourself in boxes marked ‘for later’ taping twice over the folds and letting a curtain of dressing gowns and embossed towels hang over. I have been lost between breasts before and know exploring human flesh is like venturing into the wild unknown and isn’t like that at all. Two summers ago I laid beside her, the naked blueprint of my body exposed to her brown eyes, her skin on mine a liquid softness that filled my pores, swelling me full of a different sense of myself – she called me beautiful with a different kind of voice. I have forgotten this part of myself behind condom boxes and Lynx, squash rackets and socks and is this a part of myself really or if not, what is this disorientation in your discovery?
CERA makes theatre, art and words in Melbourne where she studies Linguistics and Creative Writing. Photography by JORDAN WATSON
CONTENT WARNING | SEX
N O RT H S I D E S K I N Words by MARINA LEE
Smoke drifts from your lips In a way that could make money on the internet I inhale Lygon Street's murmurs so we can damage our lungs together Last April The butch vest heavy boots orange hair on shoulders My arms, a frightened cat You rearranged lights Forward Back Left The director gave me an apple A darker shade of your freckles
"Action" I breathed, parted my lips Hips on hardwood floor Compile me Through the lens It rides down my stomach and hardens Lopsided grins wax drips onto bare skin I save on my fingertips, Warm backs of my eyelids Slivers of ice-cream down wrists You're pushing esteem back into me with In Puddles on the mattress I christen myself
MARINA is a queer, overly-sentimental Gender Studies student concerned with the politics of sex, sexuality and sex work. 52 | CREATIVE
Illustration by AMELIA SAWARD
'Brooke' by ZARA SULLY
CONTENT WARNINGS | SWEARING/SLURS, HOMOPHOBIA
I AM A LESBIAN Words by MADELINE GIBSON
“We love lesbians” You shout at us from the car window Because you can Because you recognise we stray From your rules From your world And your words attempt to tie us down And fuck us But they are just words You’ll find We are so much further from you Than you can imagine
“You are going to hell” Like it was a place that one could find themselves And if it were It would not be filled With people who love But those whose hateful hands Fall upon another; Not for love’s graciousness Its care and sanctity Hell is where those men lie Who do not know the name of love Any god would know that And if not you must be worshipping Satan “It’s like bestiality” She says with same intonation As the word, disgusting for that is what she really means Her face reacts as if confronted with a foul perfume
But interspecies intercourse Disgusts me For the abuse Tell me now though, Where is the beast here? Because your words Mix hate and love Disgust and lust And that to me is a great bestiality “I just want you to be happy” My mother says Notice the sentence does not end there Nor do you know where it began A conditional wish Often followed or prefaced with The wish to obtain “A nice boy” I do not think it is my happiness You are wanting Because happiness I have And still you request it Is it that you are afraid Of what will be said to me? Because, Of all the words It is yours that hurts the most. “I am a lesbian” These words do not form easily But clunk and clatter Along my windpipe And can you wonder why? “Maybe you’re just bi…” A knife to the neck of the status quo. But I will not hide Behind words that make you more comfortable. I will say it For the women persecuted Throughout history, place, and time For you I will not shy away But shout I am a Lesbian
MADELINE has almost completed her BA with a major in Psychology and a minor in Gender Studies. She is growing very weary of the patriarchy and hopes to one day escape to a secluded island of feminist women. Illustration by AMIE GREEN
CONTENT WARNING | SEX
L AY E R S Words by LILY WARD
peel my layers slowly.
In the light of dusk, my shutter protects me from the glare of the setting sun. Harsh winds beat at the wood and brick of my home – a drummer relishing his long-awaited solo. My room is a tangled confusion. Unopened books litter the desk, which exists as a hub for crumbs and crumpled bits of paper. White fleshy earphone buds dangle precariously over a plastic cup full of murky water. A dead bug floats leisurely along its surface, a testament to my watercolour experiments. There’s no getting used to the stinging cold of my asylum. My ever-reactive skin prickles in response, shivering and bracing itself for attack. But no creatures lurk here; only lonely brown spiders seeking refuge. I stare at the mirror, and I am duplicated. Two lonely brown girls, seeking refuge for themselves. My coat sheds onto the worn carpet like strands of hair that have come and gone before. It had protected me for a brief time. Against the stinging gales outside, I had been bundled and warmed; secured against impact. Jumper and shirt follow soon after, and cotton and wool become entangled against the backdrop of parka. Only the thick coating of my skin is left. I rub at the indentations left behind, running my fingers along every puckered bump and ridge. I register this small change, the difference of what had not been before. A face peeps at my movements. I stare back, unashamed, unable to mark the difference from what I had seen months ago to what now sees me. My hips are wider, I realise now. My girlishness is lessened day by day, replaced by a foreign womanly flair that I am uneasy with. The prospect of growing up, of becoming a creature much older, much wiser and more equipped to handle the same old world with a new adult set of lenses. I had never given thought to the physical metamorphosis involved in the process. I hide my newfound curves from the world, uncomfortable with the wordless language of anatomy. Refusing to let them speak for me. I am not a woman, I want to say aloud. Not until I say so. Peeling the denim off my jeans, my legs are revealed. They brace the cold well, and remain standing steady. When his hands had glided along their tanned surface – ankle to calf, and only ever upwards – I hadn’t felt so girlish then.
I squeeze and pull at my lower abdomen where my womb sits, pinching hard enough to leave finger marks imprinted in pink. I am not kind to the skin in which I live, instead preferring the skin of others. Hours have been spent in envy over the slim, taut limbs of strangers. Wondering if it would ever be possible for me to look just as happy, just as superficially fulfilled, living in this familiar fleshy home of mine. I am not a woman, I used to say aloud. Not until I am happy as one. He had found beauty in my shelter; a homage made in earnest. Transfixed by the grooves and hollows of me, able to forget – however briefly – that I was not yet as he was. In his gaze, I am a Botticelli in the flesh; ripe and pliant, his fingers biting bruises into the soft apple of me. A starving man at a lavish feast. A grown man mesmerised by the woman in the dip of my waist and the flair of my hips. A callous man splintering the joints of a wishbone. It is only when I am broken and no longer soft, but brittle from the cracks he had formed in his carelessness, when I am vulnerable and sobbing and stripped of even the outer layers of my flesh – that he is reminded of the girl living within. I am not a woman, I want to say aloud. Not even when you say so. I avert my eyes from the mirror, wishing to stare at anything else besides my naked frame. My gaze settles on the white ceramic of a steaming cup of tea, waiting to be tended to as it grows colder by the neglected minute . My redressing is a speedy process by comparison. I make quick work of the layers I pull impatiently over my head, wishing to escape the grip of the chill. Layer after layer, I cover the places where his hands had seared me and left indentations, hiding what has been seen. I am no longer exposed. I am warm and content, wrapped in countless layers, long before I am fully dressed. I grab hold of a nearby blanket and cocoon myself even further, giggling. I am not a woman. And certainly not a girl, either. She is a stranger now, as I gaze again at my reflection.
LILY is a first-year Arts student who enjoys puppy vines. Her specialties include getting hopelessly lost and emulating the Justin/Britney double-denim look.
Illustration by ELOYSE MCCALL
CONTENT WARNING | DEATH (DROWNING)
THE CHRONICLES OF MNEMOSYNE AND LINDA Words by MARY NTALIANIS
was born in a house, not a hospital. My house is ten minutes from the hospital but there was an accident and all the roads got closed and even the ambulance couldn’t get through. I was born in a house on a couch, which wasn’t as soft as the bed, but the bed was upstairs and I arrived too quickly. I was born in a house because my mother didn’t want me born in the front garden. Ten years later I had another house inside that house. The smaller house had three white walls and a small white chimney. Ten years later my mother told me how I was born while smoking a cigarette. Then she turned to her friend Alice, “this is why I don’t want another one”, she said. Ten years later my mother bought me a Barbie doll named Linda. Linda was the first present my mother ever bought me. Linda is married to a purple dragon I named Mnemosyne. Mnemosyne was the first present I ever picked out for myself. Mnemosyne and Linda live in the small white house. They are both girls but they’re allowed to be married because the other day my mother was talking to her friend Alice about lesbians who are girls that get married. Mnemosyne and Linda don't have any children but they have a pink car and a small yellow duck named Rupert and that is enough for them.
58 | CREATIVE
Mnemosyne and Linda are scared because of climate change and rising sea levels. They are scared because they live next to a beach. Rupert is not scared. Climate change is what happens when the earth gets warmer. Mnemosyne doesn’t mind the earth getting warmer because she is a dragon but sometimes she’s worried for Linda who is like me and gets sunburnt in summer when she doesn’t wear 30+. Climate change means that the icebergs will melt and the house will get flooded with water so Mnemosyne sleeps on the roof when she gets especially worried because dragons don’t like water very much. “Climate change isn’t real”, said the man on TV. But that’s not true because Linda is a scientist and she would know better than him. I built a boat for Mnemosyne and Linda to sail to the Himalayas because the sea could never rise that high. I built a boat out of an old copy of TS Eliot that I found on my mother’s bookshelf that I had to get a chair to reach. There is a straw sticky-taped to the centre of the boat and I used a clean pair of underwear to make the sails. I built a boat out of a book so that when I put it in the bath tub it sank and Mnemosyne and Linda almost drowned. Rupert was fine though. Last night on the news fourteen people drowned and I thought of Mnemosyne and Linda and wondered if their boat was made out of books too. Last night the news was about war and guns and people dying.
Last night I decided I hate watching the news. Linda hates men, especially the ones who talk on the news. She doesn’t hate Rupert though, because he is a duck and not a man. When I tell my mum’s friend Alice she says that Linda is a feminist. Linda hates how Alice always leaves cigarette butts on the floor but she agrees that she is probably a feminist.
Linda hates Christmas because Mnemosyne is a dragon and always gives her gold and jewels instead of the new lab coat and volumetric flask she keeps asking for. Mnemosyne doesn’t hate anything. Rupert hates pelicans. I’ve hated taking baths since Mnemosyne and Linda almost drowned while trying to sail to the Himalayas. I’ve hated taking baths since I watched the news and saw all the people that drowned in the ocean. My mother keeps telling me that baths are not the same thing as the ocean. I tell her that when the sea levels rise our bathroom will be flooded by the ocean and then they will be the same thing. I’ve hated taking baths so I’ve decided to take showers instead. Mnemosyne thinks that protests are cool even though when me and my mother drove past one in the park my mother told me I wasn’t allowed to look because some of the signs had bad words written on them. Mnemosyne thinks the words my mother was talking about are ‘shit’ and ‘fuck’ because those are the bad words she said once really loud when the washing machine flooded the laundry. Mnemosyne thinks that people are stupid and I agree.
After school the teacher calls my mother to tell her that I was drawing pictures of guns while I should have been working on my assignment. I don’t like my teacher. She told me that ten-year-old girls don’t go to protests. After school Mnemosyne and Linda held a protest in the back garden. Rupert and the garden gnomes came too. My mother didn’t get angry at me for drawing guns or
organising protests. But she did get angry at me for moving her gnomes. Alice told me that when the teacher called my mother, she told the teacher to mind her own business. Alice was laughing when she told me this. It made me laugh too. Alice told me that my mother used to go to protests all the time when she was younger. Alice showed me a picture of my mother at university when she had green hair and a pierced nose. Alice told me not to tell my mum that she told me this. I don’t tell my mother but I’m glad I know anyway. I’ve decided to organise another protest already. Mnemosyne wants the protest to be about dragon’s rights. Linda wants it to be about climate change. I think we’ll do both. I’ve decided that when I grow up I want to be a scientist like Linda. I’ve decided to start taking baths again and I fill them up really really full and then I teach Mnemosyne and Linda to swim.
After school I make signs for Mnemosyne and Linda to bring to their protest. One of them is a picture of a gun I drew at school with a cross through it. That one is for Mnemosyne because she likes pictures and hates violence.
Illustration by FLORA LEUNG
60 | CREATIVE
RAIN Words by DANIELLE SCRIMSHAW
ichael’s coat was gone, so I knew he was outside sitting alone on his crate. If he were inside it would be draped across the chair in his office – sometimes it was the only indication of whether or not he was there. I spun around and slowly headed back down the stairs, being careful not to trip. In my hands I clasped the terrarium I intended to give to him, so the handrail was not an option for me. I exited the building by a side entrance and spotted him close by. Outside the building there was no seat or bench to sit on while you were on your lunch breaks at work. Some people compensated for this by bringing crates out from the store, and left them arranged in a circle to save bringing them back and forth. This worked for a while, until people stole the crates and we were only left with one. Michael was the only one crazy enough to sit outside when it was this cold. The frost could be seen on parked car windows, your breath would turn to mist, and still he would sit on the crate every night without fail. He glanced up at my arrival and smiled. “Hey, Eleanor.” There was nowhere to sit so I leaned against the light pole opposite him. He began to offer me his seat, but I shook my head and gestured for him to sit down again. His eyes went to my hands and I remembered the jar. I passed it to him, and he examined it curiously. “It’s the terrarium I made for your birthday.” I smiled. “Sorry it’s late.” Michael’s smile grew as he twirled it in his hands, cigarette held carelessly between two fingers. He held the jar to his face. “Aww, did you make this ‘cause I don’t have a backyard? That’s so considerate.” I nodded and crossed the pavement, crouching beside him. “Yeah, and it’s really cool when you water them because you can see the roots sucking it up.” He raised his eyebrows and glanced at me. “Seriously?” He lifted the jar and stared at the bottom. “It looks like a forest. You could put a manmade lake in here and watch the ripples whenever you hit your desk.” He lowered the jar and placed it between his legs. I laughed. “Or re-enact Jurassic Park.” He didn’t answer, so I nudged him. “Why would you punch your desk, anyway? That seems a bit extreme.” He shrugged and stuck the cigarette he had seemingly forgotten between his lips. I stared at him, noticing the lines on his forehead as he grew tense. This bothered him. “What?” he said, taking the cigarette from his mouth and gesturing to it. “Do you want me to put this out?” I did, but that wasn’t why I was staring at him. I shrugged, which bothered him further. Michael groaned and, as if it were a huge effort, put out the butt for my sake. I was glad that the terrarium was at least with him. It had sat on my desk for weeks after his birthday, as I debated whether or not to actually give it to him. I felt that he wouldn’t appreciate it as much as I did, or perhaps I had put in too much effort for a man whose attention switched from me to someone else within moments. As I crouched beside him I could tell that he was thinking of that someone else.
Photography by JORDAN WATSON
“Johanna would have liked a lake in her terrarium,” I said, noticing him flinch. “She always liked watching as her life spread over others’ like one huge wave.” I don’t think he understood what I meant, but it didn’t seem to matter. I had said her name and that was enough for him. “It hasn’t rained since she left,” he said. “I always thought that it rained when people were sad, but it’s been the opposite.” “Well, I mean, that’s really only in books, Michael. It’s pathos.” “Unless it’s a drought. She’s left me here in this drought, and I will never see the rain again.” I regretted mentioning her. All it did was upset Michael and fill me with mindless jealously. He turned to me, and I suddenly understood what he had meant by wanting to hit a desk. I now realised that the hand beating the desk was not his own, it was Johanna’s, and Michael was drowning between the ripples of the terrarium’s lake. I was glad I’d given him that jar. I shivered. He reached out and placed a hand on my arm. “You’re cold.” His eyes fixed on something past me, but my eyes remained on his hand, placed against my arm. My breath caught when our slight physical connection was broken by his movement. He stood up, clutching the jar with both hands, and waited for me to walk with him back inside. “It’s going to rain again, Michael.” I pointed to the sky, showing him the dark clouds that covered the stars. “And I’m not just saying that to try and cheer you up. It’s winter and it’s going to rain, so you don’t need to be so melodramatic.” He raised his eyebrows. “Just water the plants I’ve given you and stop thinking about all of the things that live up here.” I tapped my finger against his forehead. He smiled and waved my finger away. “Right.” “Right.” We reached his office again and I began to leave. The only reason I had gone was to give him the stupid terrarium, which would probably just sit on his desk and wither away. Still, it was better sitting on his desk than mine. I already felt like I had given up some huge weight. It wouldn’t be a weight for him though because his mind was already burdened by someone else. To him, it was just a jar with plants. But he smiled and held it up fondly. “Thanks for the terra plant thing, Eleanor. It’s great.” I nodded. “You’re welcome.” I didn’t feel as euphoric from the compliment as I thought I would. In that moment his words were not the pillars of my world. We turned and went our separate ways. I shoved my hands, free from clasping the jar, into my pockets and smiled as I felt the rain fall through the back of my shirt and down my shoulders.
DANIELLE is a first year Arts student and writer. She scans groceries and claims to have a spiritual connection with Bob Dylan. CREATIVE
CONTENT WARNING | HOMOPHOBIA
THE FORBIDDEN TRUTH Words by FLORA LEUNG
I nearly suffocated. Several minutes wore on like years. I released my arms and created a gap between us. We were both speechless. I bit my lower lip and looked out of the window absent-mindedly, pretending nothing happened. I dared not meet her eyes. “Stand clear of the closing doors…” As the train reached the next station, I squeezed through the passengers and rushed off the platform. She did not stop me. I did not look back. “Why is love wrong?” I muttered soundlessly on the way home. My lungs were burning for air as I cried without tears.
hat’s your relationship with that girl? “ “We are…,” I hesitated, “best friends.”
I could feel my heart pounding like a hammer against my chest. My hands were icy cold, but sweaty. I was obsessed with the gaze of her brown iris. There was no one else in my mind but her during the busiest time of the day. Slowly I walked towards her, leading her to move backwards into the corner of the train carriage, and put my arms around her waist. We were holding each other so close that I could feel the slightest movement of her rib cage and the warm air breathing from her nostril to my cheek. Her hair was filled with the flowery scent of her favourite shampoo. I took a deep breath. “I have always loved you,” I whispered softly in her ear. “I know,” she replied calmly, “but it’s just wrong.”
We had known each other since the age of seven, but we didn’t really stick together until we were thirteen. Everything began on that same platform, where we had waited for the train together. Rainbows were painted on the walls of the station; the platform was empty. Her hair was in a high ponytail and she stood up straight with her hands inside the white uniform’s pocket near her thighs. She was expressionless, and the type that would never start a conversation with a stranger. I could not read her emotions, but I suddenly felt a sense of sadness behind her silence. I had always known that she was a talented person because she was one of the top students at school. However, I didn’t really care about what she had done, I was attracted because I wanted to protect her, or maybe being with her would somehow save me from solitude. Since then, I went to her classroom every day whenever I was free. In order become closer to her I endeavoured to get along with her close friends. I no longer was distracted by Chinese Literature, instead I read whatever she read
and travelled to wherever she had been to. I watched all the Japanese animations and TV dramas and movies they discussed. I sent her letters and wrote her a song. “Are you in love with her?” one of my classmates asked. “How did you know?” “You are treating her much better than everyone else.” “Am I that obvious?” “So are you a lesbian?” I was shocked and puzzled. Until this very moment I had not realised that I was what society called a 'lesbian'. No wonder people stared at us when we held each other. It was the taboo that hung over us. Would she dare to love me? Would I be hated? Would my family and relatives accept me? I recalled what my parents had said to me when they were watching the news about pride parade. “They are no different from criminals and we will never acknowledge you as our daughter if you are one of them.” The happiness of loving a person was swallowed by the fear of losing my family. I felt like I was sinking into a bottomless ocean, mouthfuls of water flew into my stomach, and my limbs were pulled at by hateful words and thoughts, and I was drowning. It took me almost two years to accept this forbidden truth while trying to impress her. I had no idea how I overcame the daily frustrations and sadness, but I followed my instincts in a daily battle regardless of what others would think of me. I wanted to hold her hands cross-fingered and be with her every single second of my life. There was one time I made up an embarrassing request in front of her classmates.
Illustration by AMELIA SAWARD
“I was wondering if I can give my first kiss to someone in particular,” I stared at her while saying it. She blushed. Everyone in the class stopped what they were doing and looked at us bizarrely. You said "Ti amo". You sang to me when I had insomnia at three in the morning. You only allowed me to dress and undress you. You got mad and jealous when I approached other friends and ignored you. Are these all just wishful thinking? I questioned myself over and over again. While recalling my memories, I took out my mobile phone and entered the password, 0708, the number combination that reminded me of her birthday. My homepage was a photo of us. We slept on the grass facing each other like the Yin Yang Symbol. I wore a black t-shirt while hers was white. We closed our eyes, and our lips nearly met. I dialled her number. “Babe, I love you.” “Thanks for loving me, but…” she paused, so I filled her silence. “We are just…best friends?” “Yeah…” “Would our story change if I were…a man?” I knew exactly how she would respond, but still waited on a different answer. “Probably…”
Illustration by AMIE GREEN
In 2016 Judy's Punch is back in glorious technicolour! Judy’s Punch is the annual Women’s department publication. It is a magazine made by s...
Published on Oct 10, 2016
In 2016 Judy's Punch is back in glorious technicolour! Judy’s Punch is the annual Women’s department publication. It is a magazine made by s...