DA M S E L
A Brief History of Damsel
A Teen Bedroom of One’s Own
My, a Poem
Feminism’s Drunk Aunt
Dare to Hair
Too Cool for Casual Sexism
Experiences of PCOS
The Living Corpse
Damsel Speaks: Women’s Wisdom/The Men Who Have Wronged Us
My Illness is Not Your Inspiration
When Whites Run Charities: An Africana Womanist’s Perspective
Feminism in Turkey
Balls of Residence
Hands of Damsel
Mad Girl etc (a Sylvia Plath Remix), a Poem
A Guide to Menstrual Cups
Which Femonster Are You?
A Tale of Two Cities: Cycling Life in Perth and Copenhagen
The Good Girl’s Graffiti Guide
Cooking with Damsel
Resources & When You’ve Got a Hot Deadline
Damsel magazine contributors acknowledge that the University of Western Australia is situated on Noongar land, that the Noongar people remain the spiritual and cultural custodians of their land and continue to practise their values, languages, beliefs and knowledge. Cover Photography by Caroline Stafford and Alice McCullagh Inside Cover Photography by Caroline Stafford and Alice McCullagh Contents Page Art byJessica Cockerill Back Cover Art by Tarryn
EDITORIALS From the Women’s Officer I write to you from the Bob Nicholson Room in the Student Guild, chowing down on reheated leftovers. Women students’ lives are busy. Between course work, classes, part-time work, medical appointments, volunteering and sporting ventures, the women of UWA have found the time to bring you Damsel, the annual publication of the UWA Student Guild Women’s Department. UWA women are diverse in nature and so are our stories. It is my hope that this is on show in the 2014 Damsel. As Damsel has not been published since 2010, we’ve taken the time to include the history of Damsel with the help of a past contributor. We’ve also been lucky enough to have contributions from writers that have schooled us in their feminist areas of expertise from around the globe. This year we are pleased to feature both the artwork of current students as well as UWA Alumni. I give my heartfelt thanks to our contributors for making Damsel all that we envisioned. Damsel wouldn’t have been possible without the hard work of many members of the UWA student community. But most importantly thanks to Alice, Lucy and Kat for their editing skills, friendship, ginger nut biscuits and tea. Read and enjoy! In sisterhood and solidarity Bec xx
At the start of this year, while sitting in a computer programming lecture, I realised that there were only four other women in a room of eighty people. I wondered “Why hasn’t somebody thrown an event for Women in Computer Science?” I got kind of indignant about it, until I realised that there’s no ‘somebody’ out there. There was just me, sitting in a lecture theatre filled with boys. So, I sent an email off to this mysterious ‘women’s officer’, and almost immediately received an ecstatic reply from Bec. Together, we threw the MOST SUCCESSFUL/ONLY women in computer science barbeque UWA has ever seen! I’ve been an active member of the Women’s Department ever since. This year, I’ve tried to be the ‘somebody’ in ‘why doesn’t somebody’. If you wait for someone else to act about the things that you are passionate about, you’ll be waiting a long time.
Look - after nearly four years of working on student publications, it was nice to not feel jaded for once. The pure, uncut excitement that we were met with from students when announcing our intention to create Damsel 2014 was literally the dream. Thank you to writers, thank you to readers, and thank you to all those people at parties who politely asked me how the femmo mag was going. A small note – if you’re a man and feeling self-congratulatory for reading this thing, don’t get too ahead of yourself. But we’re glad you are. xoxo Kat
No matter how hard I try, nor how little my friends care, I can’t stop talking about student press. I think about Damsel constantly: will people contribute (yes), will people read it (hopefully), will I ever recover (definitely not). Even though it irks everybody around me, I can’t stop. Student media gives us an audience and a microphone; it contributes to the vibrancy of campus culture and it produces something real and tangible – in both the time we spend together making it, and the time we spend alone reading it. Combine with my other true love – feminism – and I’m in seventh heaven. I hope reading Damsel gives you as much joy as it does me. In sisterhood, Lucy x.
Lots of Love, Alice McCullagh. 4
Damsel thanks: Tori Hann, Laura Clappinson, Dinuka Muhandiramge, Leah Vlatko, Ash Gould, Lizzie Long, Sarah Osborn, Katy Morrison, Lily Sullivan, Katherine Oâ€™Brien, Jenny Marks, Alex Pond, Kate Hoolahan, Mason Rothwell & Levi Lancaster, Fiona Pui San Whittaker, Hannah Fitch-Rabbitt, Crystal Abidin, Laura Williams, Clare Woulfe, Maeve Hawkes, Mini Burr, Oskar Lim, Isabella Wilson Words
Words and Images
“I DON’T WASTE TIME WITH DATES”: On Swiping Right and Realising We Don’t Need A ‘Match’ to be Awesome
ARTWORK BY ALICE MCCULLAGH
BY CHANTEL DYBALL Attempts at modern romance have seen me suffer through numerous blind dates and a slew of hopeless desperadoes. After the latest heartbreak, which involved a no-good-cheatingdevastatingly-rugged sailor and resulted in a spontaneous hair chop, I decided to try less traditional methods of ‘meeting people’. And so began the Tinder adventures.
“I wanna pound your monkey.” “I don’t really do the whole pick up line thing, I don’t have the bravado or cheekiness. But you are a beautiful creature.” “Wanna play Titanic? You be the iceberg and I’ll go down.” “I don’t waste time with dates.” “You’re sexy. Just thought I’d let you know let’s fuck.”
After deducing from numerous friends, coworkers and even my very own baby brother (beware the gen Z guy) that Tinder was, in fact, ‘a thing’ now, I decided to jump on the bandwagon. I had been a skeptic, believing love and all things that accompanied that strain of Disney romance to be left safely for the physical world – that meeting prospective lovers could still happen in cafes and cinemas and around campus. Incorrect. Tinder is a pool of all the freaks and geeks you could want; within your chosen radius and age range, of course.
The Tinder-verse certainly provided me with an alluring range of potential lovers. If I wanted to subject myself to the company of morons. Rather than supplying a smorgasbord of bright and attractive men, Tinder showed me a cultivated version of Perth that I am already familiar with – the same people I meet in cafes and cinemas and around campus. The interesting and perhaps only unique underlying factor of these interactions is that these men (within the eighteen to twenty-seven year old bracket), do not wish to date anymore. We have become a society that demands instant availability. We want our lattes and our cake and the ending to Game of Thrones NOW. As is much discussed amongst my friendship group (which happens to consist of delightfully beautiful and intelligent young men and women – no bias), even when we are coping considerably well with studies, advancing professionally, enjoying social endeavors, gloriously creating, paying our rent on time or simply accomplishing laundry – we still seem to base most feelings of value in the status of our romantic selves.
For those of you that have managed to escape the woes of modern dating, Tinder is a location-based application, available through smart phones, that taps into your specifications and unleashes your profile into the Tinder-verse. From there, you are given the opportunity to like or dislike potential interests in the hopes of ‘matching’. Ding ding ding! Winner, winner, chicken dinner – you may have matched with a life mate! Profiles are diverse and wholly entertaining at times; allowing only a select amount of photographs to be shared, snapshot ‘About Me’ segments (twenty-five words or less to sell yourself, guys) and hopefully a couple of shared interests to add to the mix.
Why is it that we base so much of our feelings of self-worth on the acceptance, intimacy and romantic justification of another? Spending thirty-six dollars I didn’t have on a new tube of lipstick, in the hopes that my guy would tell me I “look pretty tonight”, has effectively broken my budget several times over. Modern dating sucks. Sometimes I forget that I am enough. I forget that I don’t need the clarification of another human being that I fit their form. I deleted Tinder. Girls, take care of your own hearts. You don’t need to go searching through the expanses of Perth or the Tinderverse looking for someone to complete you. They will not be a basis for asserting that you are awesome. You already know that. You are enough.
Generally, a like is based purely on aesthetics – and if that recognition is mutual, the opportunity presents to actually speak to each other. Aside from the general and dull platitudes of small talk and one-liners requesting “Sex?”, the Tinder-verse has wholeheartedly confirmed that most males on there are not well versed in the art of conversation. Some of the highlights include, but are not limited to:
MORMON FEMINISTS BY ANNA SAXON
There’s a fantastic blog called FeministMormonHousewives.org, which is an open online forum for member and non-member women to discuss the more interesting and problematic aspects of the Mormon gospel. Like Kate Kelly, these ladies want change - they just want it after they’ve put the kids to sleep. The site features great articles like: • • • • •
Faith and feminism seem incompatible. To many, all organised religion is derived from patriarchal structures designed to exalt men and screw over women. Most organised religions come down on the wrong side of many issues that are the most important to us, like reproductive rights or the restrictive roles of women in the family. Being a Christian feminist seems to be an enormous contradiction, like being a pro-life anti-abortionist, or a cool dad. If you subscribe to the beliefs of any ‘patriarchal’ faith, you just can’t be a feminist - you get to pick one or the other. And we all know there’s only one right answer (hint: it’s not the one without all the penises).
Are We Excommunicating Feminism in the Mormon Church? ‘Mormon Women Seeking Equality’ Round Table ‘Priesthood, Women and Non-Agency’ ‘Teaching Forthright Sexuality to Our Daughters’ ‘Woman, Know Thy Place’ - Challenging Women’s Roles in the Church
How are these guys not feminists? In fact, some of the first suffragettes in American history were Mormon polygamous wives. In 1875, when bills were being passed in Utah that infringed on their right to religious freedom, Mormon women got angry, got organised and got the vote. Check out ladies like Sarah Kimball and Eliza R Snow, who gave speeches alongside Susan B Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Feminist activism is literally a tradition in the Mormon Church! Our religious sisters deserve some respect. We’re not brainwashed or beaten down or too scared to say anything in case we’re punished by the Great Male Overlord. We’re intelligent, discerning human beings who have made a choice one that we’ve decided is compatible with our feminist ideology. After all, don’t we all believe in every woman’s right to choose? Things are still problematic within the Mormon Church, but ladies like Kate Kelly and the Feminist Mormon Housewives are making a difference, slowly but surely. You can be a feminist and go to church. Can I get an amen to that!
Y’all might have heard about Kate Kelly in the media recently. She is a human rights lawyer and infamous Mormon feminist who was recently excommunicated from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. She was the founder of ‘Ordain Women’, a movement that calls for the ordination of women to the priesthood within the Mormon Church. On May 5 of this year, Kelly was placed on informal probation by her local LDS Church leaders for “openly, repeatedly and deliberately acting in public opposition to the church and its leaders after having been counseled not to do so”. Many saw this as punishing feminism, and hundreds of believers and non-believers gathered behind Kelly’s cause. After all, she was a becoming a feminist martyr, and one of the only women
ARTWORK BY MEGAN ANSELL
questioning the patriarchy of the church. She chose sisterhood over Sisterhood, feminism over faith. Except it’s not that simple. Kate Kelly was a believer - and still is. Her campaign wasn’t to bring down the Mormon Church, rather it was her faith that drove her to expect something better from the religion which she had been born and raised in. She’d wanted change, not destruction.
I’m 21, a woman, a student, a Mormon and a feminist. No, I’m not from Utah. No, my father doesn’t have multiple wives. But I do go to a church every Sunday where the Bishop, his councellors and all the priesthood holders are men. In fact, the women are actively encouraged to focus on those lovely ‘traditional’ roles including look after children, becoming wives, baking cookies in the shape of Bibles - you know the drill. Let’s just say it’d be a little awkward if I wore my ‘Kill All Men’ badge in the chapel. A Mormon chapel might be the last place one would think to find rabid feminists and yet, hidden under all those knee length skirts and hefty hymn books is a thriving feminist community actively striving for equality. The problem is, most of these women are trying to work within the guidelines set down by what is a predominantly patriarchal religion, which basically breaks the first rule of Feminist 101. So which is it, ladies - faith or feminism?
TALKING TO 90s DAMSEL
IMAGES: 1997 INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY CHOIR AT RTR FM (L) AND DAMSEL 1997 COVER (R)
BY LUCY BALLANTYNE
The Women’s Collective more generally was responsible for organizing events that typified the radical activism, and dire political and cultural climate, of the era. Whittaker recalls a Reclaim the Night March through Claremont with one thousand women and children, culminating in an autonomous women’s dance party at the club where three women had recently disappeared. ‘Women got organized, and utilized the wisdom and energy of old and young feminists alike,’ Whittaker writes, ‘it really did feel like we reclaimed the streets.’ In talking about her time in the Women’s Collective and working on Damsel, Whittaker emphasizes the gains for herself, and for the community, when collective action takes place. ‘Society is much healthier when diverse people are equipped to participate. It’s good to know how to work together, articulate big ideas and lead around issues that matter’, she asserts. Whittaker also tells of how Damsel has helped in her professional life. ‘Damsel and the Women’s Collective gave me focus, confidence, and skills in organizing, publishing and networking,’ she praises, ‘this opened the door for my first real job in women’s health and motivated me to take on leadership roles on community boards to empower others.’
The 90s truly was a golden age. Riot Grrrl was big and getting bigger producing icons in Bikini Kill and Sleater Kinney. Third-wave feminism, for all its faults, was making itself known in the form of zines and angry girl music of the indie-rock persuasion. The alt fem scene was having its moment. This period coincided with a fairly dire time for women students at UWA. The Coalition was in power in state and federal government (sounds familiar) and making debilitating cuts to education (even more familiar). Pauline Hanson had reared her ugly head, and closest to home, three women had disappeared in mysterious circumstances from Claremont nightspots. Being a woman, and a student, and a young person is difficult at the best of times. This was next level.
On a personal level, the friendships that 90s Damsel facilitated continue to resonate, ‘I was just unpacking/recovering from ten years of family violence (by my stepdad) and losing a friend to AIDS. I had experienced intense sadness and disconnection. However, through my friendships and activism I found healing, purpose and great camaraderie’. To Damsel 2014’s big sisters, we thank you for your passion and your courage. We hope we’ve done you proud.
Enter Damsel, the UWA Women’s Collective’s magazine. In 1995, Guild Women’s Representative Natalie McGregor pasted up posters and sent out an email (on what was the still very novel Web 2.0) – “Im (sic) trying to start a feminist magazine dealing in real womens issues.” One of the women students who would see this email was Fiona Pui San Whittaker. Whittaker, now A/Manager Suicide Prevention at the WA Mental Health Commission, was an arts student seeking to get more involved in student life. After that early email, Whittaker was involved in editing Damsel for four years. This lead to getting involved in the Network of Women Students in Australia (NOWSA) and becoming the Guild’s Welfare Officer, and then Women’s Officer.
Back issues of Damsel can be found in the Periodicals section of the Reid Library, Third Floor.
Reading 90s Damsel gives you a sense of the excitement and enthusiasm involved in student activism at the time. It’s a mix of personal stories, interviews, academic articles and deliciously dated music reviews. Of the editorial decisions, Whittaker explains ‘we mixed up popular culture like Aeon Flux comics with serious issues and what we found visually pleasing… grunge was in vogue, and we profiled talented local (and still practicing) artists such as Rebecca Dagnall and Clare McFarlane.’ Diversity of representation was a key theme in the magazine: ‘the Asian faces were my rejection of Hansonism’. ‘90s Damsels made a point of reproducing some of Left Alliance’s [the now defunct guild ticket] more radical broadsheets to accommodate more Aboriginal and queer voices’. Hear, hear.
A TEEN BEDROOM OF ONE’S OWN BY GEORGIA OMAN
A Room of One’s Own is not a manual on womanhood to be rigidly adhered to – not every woman wants to be a writer, and the unique social and cultural context in which it was formed can never be replicated. At its core lies the idea that women benefit from having both the financial means to explore their creativity and a safe space in which to pursue their own ends. While it sounds simple, these objectives remain out of reach for many women, and to possess one or the other is a privilege. For me, it just so happens that my own personal Virginia Woolfendorsed, womanhood-enhancing Shangri-La can be found on the upper-floor of my family home in the bedroom I have occupied ever since my parents figured out how to work a baby-monitor.
The question that this arrangement raises is whether or not my bedroom, effectively a working museum of my childhood and adolescence, can truly function as the retreat of solitary contemplation that Virginia Woolf had in mind. I am perpetually caught in some sort of developmental limbo, à la 2002-era Britney – not a girl, not yet a woman. Meanwhile, as uncool as my room may be, I know how lucky I am to have it at all.
Of all the beautiful words and phrases that ever poured out of Virginia Woolf’s mouth and pen (and there were many), none have had the staying power of a simple idea she articulated at the close of the 1920s - that to write fiction, ‘a woman must have money and a room of her own.’ In her influential 1929 essay, Woolf argued that it was the gender inequality of early twentieth-century society that prevented women from scaling the lofty heights of the literary elite to chill at the top with Shakespeare and friends. Held in a weaker position to men economically, women also lacked the private space to truly progress as artists. She reasoned that only when such freedom was achieved could women truly infiltrate the patriarchal literary establishment and carve out a place in the canon. As Woolf posed it, who knows what Shakespeare’s hypothetical sister, Judith, could have achieved given the same opportunities as her famous brother? (Whose many advantages in life included being non-hypothetical).
The life of a student in 2014 doesn’t automatically seem to gel with Woolf’s idea of financial and spatial freedom. A university is a communal space, and it’s hard not to lose your unique sense of self in the multitude, the sparks of your individual quirks and eccentricities continually buffeted by the press of the great big world beyond. At UWA, the Women’s Room allows every woman to find a room of her own. After all, in its most basic incarnation, a room is only the sum of four walls, a floor, and a ceiling. Somebody else occupied the right-hand bedroom on the second floor before I did, and somebody else will probably live in it when, at the age of forty-two, I finally decide leave home.
Society has changed dramatically since the 1920s, and the position of women has evolved along with it. A Room of One’s Own originated in a series of lectures Woolf gave to female university students from the Cambridge Women’s colleges of Girton and Newnham, who after years of studying and examinations would be denied a degree on the basis that they were not considered ‘full members’ of the university (a policy that would continue until 1948). But while the story of women’s advancement over the course of the last century has overwhelmingly been one of progression and advancement, the goal of total equality remains as elusive today as it did eighty-five years ago.
We are never connected to a physical space through physicality alone. Instead, it is the gradual accumulation of the souvenirs, memories, and assorted ephemera of our unique experience that cushions our chosen patch of land, allowing us to bed down and call it home. In the midst of the hectic cycle of assessments, lectures, and meetings, it’s nice to know that somewhere, whether it be in our teen bedrooms or on second level of the Student Guild Building, provides a necessary refuge in which the chaos can be mastered, even if only for a little while. 09
ARTWORK BY LAUREN WISZNIEWSKI
The flipside of this is that the private space I claim for myself as a woman is at the same time a continual reminder of my girlhood; my door is still emblazoned with the gunky, sunflower-shaped residue of a sticker that refused to be peeled off neatly, my vaguely baroque-looking mirror is a flamboyant reminder of my Marie Antoinette stage, and I avoid reaching too far into my wardrobe for fear of disturbing the piles of old toys, ballet costumes, empty stamp albums, school photos and consolation netball trophies (most improved) that will surely one day come crashing down on my head in ironic punishment for my hoarding tendencies.
ARTWORK BY ANNATHEA CURRY
MY BY EMILY PURVIS Cracked, skin flaking, My bare legs in winter hair, long, waving The cold wind of morning Chapped, lips pressing back on black coffee, bile, bitter better than breakfast making Chipped, nails breaking working hands grasp, My mind, moulded, melting.
FEMINISM’S DRUNK AUNT BY ZOE KILBOURN ephebe’s body in The Boy. Her rampant whiteness shouldn’t, and probably doesn’t, fly with most young feminists (NB. recent ecofeminist diatribe, White Beech). But we, as an Australian public, forgive her - because we cannot see her as a threat. Aunty Germs has become, and perhaps always was a little bit, unreal. She’s become a caricature.
There’s a funny parallel between the exclusionary, white, middleclass radical feminism of the 1970s and coming away from a former slave port with your strongest memory being the grave of a single colonial suicide. To be fair, part of the visceral reaction was due to the shock of a sudden realisation - I hadn’t expected anything I’d read in Slipshod Sibyls, Greer’s 1995 study of bad eighteenth century poets, to ever relate to the real world. But then, I’m the kind of white, middle-class radical (in the sk8er boi sense) feminist who reads, and likes, Germaine Greer. Germs Greer, the woman who most recently made headlines for her comments on the PM’s taste in blazers and tried to stage a revolutionary coup on Celebrity Big Brother. The woman who is still milking street cred for rehabilitating “cunt” but treads around sex talk like a mummy blogger (“I won’t tolerate anal intercourse. I’m not very fond of it.”)
At the same time, though, what’s always made her brand of thinking and writing valuable is the make-believe quality of radical feminist thought. What antifeminists often don’t understand is that the character, the prose, the crazily unrealistic theories of 1970s feminist extremists is part of the charm. It’s not supposed to be practical. We’re not supposed to treat all penetrative sex as rape (not a Greer belief, thank God), or move to proto-kibbutzes where no one has a biological claim to a child. Radical feminism is a deliberately perverse critical act that mock-wrestles with our most basic assumptions. It gets dangerous when someone like Cathy Brennan seizes an idea that was pretty stupid in the first place and pushes it into dangerous real-world territory, but Greer’s never done that. She’s very much of this world, to the point where there’s an incongruity between her public prudishness, lewdness, attention-seeking, her basic flawed humanness, and her most fiery polemics. Her work comes off as crass, or worse, shrill.
Germaine Greer’s fatal flaw and redeeming feature is her kookiness. Part of that is theoretical and intellectual - her calls for ladies to “love their cunt” and demystify menstrual blood by tasting it, her Marxist demands for a communal alternative to the nuclear family. It’s also stylistically present in her work - her penchant for puns and obscure 18th century intellectuals that make her essays so intoxicatingly clever, accessible, and, as The Female Eunuch was frequently touted as, “bawdy”. It’s that playfulness that made her the “saucy feminist even men like” of a LIFE cover; it’s, unfortunately, what makes her so easy to lampoon when she’s featured on QandA.
She’s surviving, for now, as a public indulgence. It’s sad to see someone as funny, as intelligent, and as life-affirming as Greer be relegated to the role of national Mad Aunt, but it’s keeping her work on the public periphery. Replace Grub Street with the media cycle and her writings on LEL, failed poet whose public whimsicality ended up destroying her, are scarily reminiscent of her own public trajectory: “As long as she was a young poetic female she was a marketable commodity; because she was marketed she became conspicuous; because she believed in the freedom and spontaneity of the artist she behaved indiscreetly; because taste changed and she aged and the men who manipulated her had enemies, she became the target of vicious gossip and enduring contempt.”
Greer’s grossest failings are blatantly obvious by contemporary standards - her sole focus on heterosexuality, explicit from The Female Eunuch days; her more recent, intellectually lazy dabblings in TERF politics for The Whole Woman; her glorification of the
ARTWORK BY MEGAN ANSELL
Last year, I saw my first and only poet’s grave, and recognised it on sight because of Germaine Greer. I was hungover, nineteen, in the last part of the world I expected to find a failed Lady Byron wannabe (Cape Coast Castle, Ghana). The grave belonged to Letitia Elizabeth Landon, whom Prof. Greer once wrote about purely because the poetess in question was rather shit.
ARTWORK BY ALICE MCCULLAGH
DARE TO HAIR BY CHLOE DURAND
Scientifically speaking, hair is just dead cells sprouting in various patterns, thicknesses and colours from our head (and various other parts of our body). Yet we, as a society, have imbued it with so much more meaning than that - especially for women.
then trying, trying, to get it to part in a certain way. It’s not my fault it was windy outside! And no, I can’t just run a comb through it to make it “neat” (see above). I don’t have enough money for a single use comb fund anymore.
Seeing girls with long straight hair swooshing back and forth gently in the wind has filled me with envy from a remarkably young age. Owing to the ‘cultural melting pot’ (ha) that is Australia, I’ve ended up with... different hair. You could use terms like “curly”, “biracial”, “spirally”, “that guitarist from Guns n Roses” or “world’s angriest looking rain cloud” to describe it.
Let’s take a minute of silence for those of us who have to endure the surprise attacks of “can I touch your hair?” from strangers. What does it say about what curly hair represents to most people that it temporarily makes them forget about human decency and personal space? There’s a kind of innate defiance to corkscrew hair. I often forget that most people don’t have hair like mine, so I was lamenting to my friend about how I wanted a choppy, undercut, alternative hairdo but that I couldn’t maintain it with my hair type. They pointed out that every day that I don’t straighten my hair, I have an alternative hair do. At times, it’s kind of comforting to have the counterculture built into my genes. It really saves money on the neon hair-dye and hard-to-maintain floppy bangs I’ve always wanted.
My hair doesn’t swoosh. There is no swoosh available to me. That scene from Princess Diaries where the comb snaps off in her hair is like a daily reality for me... that is, if I actually tried to comb my hair anymore. There’s a frustrating side to hair care for a lot of women. As a general rule, we’ll have longer hair (whether it’s by choice, encouragement, or both) and there are rules for what looks good in a given setting. These rules are hard enough to follow when you have straight or wavy hair. When you have hair that consists of a mass of enraged, racially confused ringlets and kinks, it gets trickier. My heart goes out to women with afro hair, for whom hair styling can be even more difficult.
Most people with curly hair feel put off by how it’s presented as some kind of “work in progress”. Going back to Princess Diaries and many other movies with a problematic beauty transformation scene, the woman will emerge at the other end with notably sleeker and more relaxed hair. To emerge at the other end of a journey or transformation doesn’t mean getting rid of something that might represent a large part of your identity, just so that you can get that terrific hair swoosh going as you wow everyone with your new style. Embrace the curls, kinks, naps, swoops, spirals and frizz. Follow blogs (there are so many) that give tips and inspiration for curly haired folk. Wear it straight, curly, long or short. Just promise me that you’ll wear it with pride.
Curls are associated with a few things. Youth, femininity, wilderness, other-ness. So if like me, you are occasionally called upon to look stern and professional, you’re somewhat undercut by the fact that you have hair deemed “casual” and “messy”, even if it’s styled similar to how straight hair would be. Why all the judgment, people? I just spent ages running soft hold mousse through my locks and
ARTWORK AND13WORDS BY EMILY PURVIS
POLISH FEMINISM BY OLIWIA WASIK The Berlin Wall might have gone down in 1989, but the ghost of state socialism continues to haunt Eastern European countries to this day, influencing everything from public policy to private life. When I travelled to the United States and eventually relocated from my home town in Poland to London, the only sense of alienation I felt was due to the fact that nobody there quite got it what it meant to grow up in a place where the division between West and East is sometimes as alive as it was during the 80s (indeed, my UK friend was even surprised that we still talk about it). As a feminist, I was baffled at how little Central Eastern Europe understood when it came to feminist politics.
sheltered. Still they were head of households and their hegemony took the form of monopoly of leadership positions within the state. Cut off from the West until late 1980s, we encountered Western feminism at, arguably, the worst possible moment – the mid-1990s, when the movement was dealing with an enormous wave of backlash. From 1969 to 1998, Time magazine announced the death of feminism 116 times. The 1990 cover of Newsweek proclaimed “The Failure of Feminism”, the market was flooded with pop psychology such as “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus” and various self-help books told women how to get back the men feminism took away. This intense backlash coupled with our relatively young democracy and women’s movement, and the perceived strength of the Catholic Church, killed feminism before it had a chance to be born. Whilst in the West it was, indeed, backlash, for a country that had not been exposed to feminism before it was just plain old misogyny.
For Christmas this year my mother gave me a shirt that says “Strength is a woman”. My brother looked slightly alarmed and laughed “Mom, don’t give her things like that, what if she becomes a feminist?” My mother, bless her, looked at him as if he had grown a third heard and replied “She’s one already! Where have you been?” My brother’s dismay at my feminist status is nothing surprising, neither in Eastern Europe nor anywhere else. But a recent poll result reveals that an average Pole would rather live next to a former communist agent, perhaps the most hated public figure, than a feminist. Poland has rejected feminism as a Western intruder, another leftist ideology imported from abroad to destroy the traditional order of our society. Historically, we have entertained two mutually exclusive notions: that women’s rights were a luxury we couldn’t afford (first the 123 years long liberation struggle, then two world wars, then again oppressive communism) and that we don’t need women’s rights because we live in a matriarchy. Two national myths contributed to this paradox: the Polish Mother and the communist brave victim.
“DON’T GIVE HER THAT, WHAT IF SHE BECOMES A FEMINIST?” This misogyny is alive and well, thriving in our current cultural climate. Ironically (and rather morbidly), the only period in the history of my country when abortion was legal and provided on demand is the time Nazi Germany occupied Poland from 1943 to 1945. Today we have one of the most restrictive abortion bans in Europe, and horror stories of mothers who were forced to carry to term terminally ill or deformed babies (in one of the recent cases, the baby didn’t have a brain) hit the news every few months. For my friends, the movie Juno was a utopian fantasy – pregnant teenagers in Poland don’t have the luxury of choice. What emerged from behind the Iron Curtain in Poland was a highly traditional culture, rooted in religious fundamentalism, nationalist ideology and patriarchal practices, a reaction to the extreme restrictions of the Soviet era. The ban on abortion was a way to control the reproductive rights of women as much as it was a symbol of the new government’s high morality, its opposition to communism and a renewed alliance with the Catholic Church. By contract, Romania introduced abortion on demand in 1989 as a response to popular sentiment but also to signalise an end of Ceaușescu inhumane and inhuman regime.
The Polish Mother is modelled after the Virgin Mary (nicknamed Queen of Poland), who holds a special place in our collective imagination and cultural heritage, and represents courage, endurance and nurturing love. She is the patriotic martyr who silently takes care of her family, complains to no one and sends her brave sons off to war to die for their homeland, weeping only when she is alone. The communist brave victim is the selfsufficient, unselfish worker who deals with difficult demands of the system and the household, managing both. Whilst the Polish Mother reduces women to their ability to raise children, the brave victim gave them a sense of gratification, moral superiority and an autonomous sense of self-worth that went beyond the household. But the word “victim” isn’t there by accident – the conditions of work, overwhelming demands and low wages created a sense of victimisation and guilt that one could never do everything. The brave victim had its male counterpart – the big child. Men were infantilised, seen as dependent, vulnerable, needing to be
Heated debates raged on in Bulgaria, East Germany, Hungary and other Eastern European countries, each case historically specific. In Hungary and Poland, the ban has sparked women to collectively organise themselves against it, giving rise to a movement that might not have happened otherwise.
had a chance to truly be. We have rejected feminism but continue to speak its language and use its methods. We supposedly live in a matriarchy, but women don’t have basic rights. The region is full of contradictions and paradoxes, a situation shaped by forces that were outside of our control and made worse by vested interests. In order to understand what is happening, we must step outside the Western notion of wave feminism and think about it as an organic movement, a time- and context-specific product whose grassroots currents run deep but perhaps haphazard. Strength truly is a woman – and it’s a force to be reckoned with.
ARTWORK BY ZOE KILBOURN
Feminism in Eastern Europe defies the categorisation of waves – we continue to fight for second wave goals (reproductive rights, selfdetermination, equal pay, health care) using third wave tactics, at the same time dealing with a backlash for a movement that never
ARTWORK BY EVIE TABOR
EXPERIENCES OF POLYCYSTIC OVARY SYNDROME (PCOS) BY EVIE TABOR
When I was 18, I was told I had Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). This is a relatively common, largely genetic disorder which affects 5-10% of women (according to Polycystic Ovary Syndrome Association of Australia). PCOS is a hormonal syndrome which causes eggs in the ovary to not mature properly and become cysts. This can lead to reduced fertility, irregular periods, excessive hair growth, hair loss, acne, and can increase the risk of developing insulin resistance. The only treatments are those that address the symptoms rather than the cause. PCOS won’t kill you, but can cause obvious distress, especially in those where the symptoms are more extreme.
A big issue surrounding PCOS is the potential for infertility or at least reduced fertility. I’m not planning on having babies any time soon, but I am aware that it may come up in the future. Do I tell every new partner and warn them against investing in me as the future mother of their children? Do I allow myself to put kids in my future or am I just letting myself in for disappointment? So far, fertility hasn’t been an issue for me. Yet I’m aware that it can be a major source of distress for many of those with PCOS. I’m uncomfortable with the idea of a woman’s value being in her ability to have children but for many fertility and motherhood is closely linked with their personal womanhood.
I personally am quite lucky as I remain unaffected by most of these symptoms, and I am at a point in my life where they are mostly immaterial. However, having the diagnosis has relieved a source of stress from my life: why wasn’t I getting my periods?
PCOS can cause hormonal imbalance, particularly higher levels of masculinising hormones. The growth of excess hair and acne can be a huge confidence blow to those severely affected. Coupled with a higher likelihood of obesity, PCOS can be a disaster for self-confidence and personal value. This has led to a number of support groups and online forums for those affected around the world. PCOS is extremely common, but the experiences of those affected can be variable. For some it is simply an inconvenience, but for others it can be devastating. The disorder usually arises during puberty, a period when a woman’s self confidence is often extremely vulnerable anyway.
Sometimes I count myself lucky as I don’t have to deal with a week of blood and pain every month like many other women. I’m sure there are people who would love to pause their cycle until it was absolutely necessary, so they might be a touch jealous. However, from when my periods started I was very conscious that I wasn’t quite right. Whenever my friends would start on a ‘period chat’ I would do my best to join in and pretend I understood. To a degree I can sympathise, as the period fairy visits me a couple of times a year, but I have always felt a fraud whenever the topic comes up. Periods aren’t a regular thing for me and missing one is more common than getting one. I’m almost happy when one does show up because it proves I can still be part of that conversation. My ability to menstruate has never been linked to my self-value nor my identification as a woman, but there are plenty of instances where I have felt excluded and lesser in value to the women around me.
PCOS is not fun, but I consider myself one of the luckier of those affected. Only time will tell how much this diagnosis will affect my life. For now, I’m just glad I know what the heck my body is doing.
‘The Living Corpse’, created by Elizabeth Nichols Backstory by Ella Maughan When I was 9, my mother Elizabeth had a brainstem stroke (at age 30) and I was told there was a small chance she would survive. Despite this, her fabulous neurosurgeon successfully fixed the problem. However, it was too late for her to keep her normal bodily functions. She was in “locked-in” syndrome for a few weeks, I recall, before she miraculously started to be able to blink, and progressively start moving parts of her body. She went to rehab, and about 18 months later she was able to control a wheelchair. She is now confined to the chair and is unable to walk, with only her right arm able to function reasonably normally. This portrait displays the raw emotion, confusion, overwhelming fear and grief she would have experienced while not being able to move a single part of her. Being trapped inside of herself - I cannot even begin to imagine how traumatic that would be. A week before the incident she visited the doctor because she was having migraines and strange symptoms, like feeling off balance (which we have now been told can predict stroke), and they sent her home. They thought she was taking drugs, and when she went to the hospital later on, they too sent her home. If they had conducted the necessary tests and scans, there is a possibility my mother could be leading a normal and better life right now. I aspire to be a neurosurgeon so one day, if all else fails, I can keep a young girl’s mother alive when she needs her most. My mother is a very strong woman. I love her, and I want this story to be told. 17
ARTWORK BY ALICE MCCULLAGH
MY ILLNESS IS NOT YOUR INSPIRATION BY NATALIA MOORIN like me. With 0.3% of the population identifying as transgender, and even fewer being disabled as well – the chances of finding a disabled trans woman in a rural and regional environment is very low. Not having that kind of specific support can be quite demoralising – having general support is good, but I often feel like I am repeating myself in explaining basic content to people. Being poor doesn’t help, as I can’t solve the problem of my isolation, or of medications to either slow down the depression or start a physical transition. All of this means that I often feel unsafe and awful in places that are meant to be welcoming.
Mental illness can compound these feelings of isolation – and depression is especially skilled at doing this. Depression makes you feel like everything you do is a colossal waste of time and energy, despite the logical half of your brain arguing that what you do is important. I feel isolated because I’m worthless and pathetic, and then I start to doubt my own identity because I feel like I am the only one who feels this way due to isolation. And when people constantly refer to you as your deadname [a name that you previously went by], or use the incorrect pronouns, it really is like getting slapped with a wet fish. And that starts the cycle of self loathing and hatred yet again, which never seems to end as everything continually sets it off.
This article discusses rape and sexual assault, which may be triggering for some readers. A lot of people look up to people who appear to be struggling with life, as if they are inspirational in some way. This can be perceived as a form of understanding, but to me, it feels hollow. When people tell me I am brave for enduring so much shit, it seems like a way for people to be ‘supportive’ without actually doing anything. I want people to understand what living in my situation is like. Imagine if you had to go through all of this – and then know that many people are going through it. Try and think of ways that you can make environments safer for these people - for people like me.
Being mentally ill is a real challenge, but at the same time, I don’t want people to praise me for how strong or how courageous I am. I want people to actively try and make spaces safer for me, by not questioning why I am triggered by certain situations. I want the stigma against hospitalised people to be dropped, so that we can seek help without the fear or being shunned. When I was writing this article, I was in hospital after admitting that I needed to seek help - but I shouldn’t have had to hurt myself for so long before taking that action. I want people to promote self-care and self-love over one’s utility to the wider community. To me, these supportive actions would actively make the world a safer, and better place unlike the passive voices of admiration.
I have had to deal with a lot of crap in my life, including, but not limited to, sexual assault, rape, depression and anxiety. These issues compound together to make my life very difficult. I have a lot of disabling triggers, which means that certain situations evoke an overpowering sense of fear. I haven’t really used libraries or read books for a long time because it brings up triggering thoughts. I also live in a regional area, which makes things more difficult: I can’t access any resources or events, or even find other local people
ARTWORK BY JESSICA COCKERILL
“I OFTEN FEEL UNSAFE AND AWFUL IN PLACES THAT ARE MEANT TO BE WELCOMING”
WHEN WHITES RUN CHARITIES: An Africana Womanist’s Perspective BY TRICIA JAKWA
as an individual? Who benefits from this (Western) liberalism and its love of the individual?
Human rights are perhaps the only political-moral idea to gain validity as a universal notion, but whose humanity is concerned here? This question had been eating at me when I first watched a commercial by the South African charity, Feed a Child, where a black child is treated like a dog in an attempt to raise awareness about poverty and child hunger in South Africa. My initial thoughts were that the commercial posited the idea of whiteness as human and comforting, whereas blackness is treated as subhuman, non-human, and in need of house-training by a white saviour who extends moral consideration to the black animal in need. The fact that this saviour is a white woman has important implications for feminism, since the commercial elevates white womanhood above blackness and consequently, black womanhood.
It is certainly not the black child being given unwanted excess food. The white woman caring for the child, occupying a comfortable socio-economic (and racial) position is the individual in this commercial. So, race is quite clearly important in human rights discourse as something that is used to categorise people, to award subjectivity to some whilst objectifying others, and to determine to whom (human) rights are extended, who counts as human. This categorisation makes possible the justification of horrendous forms of marginalisation, because a lot of people end up being denied a “human nature”, an identity. An example of this is the gross mistreatment and representation of black people in human rights campaigns. It is ironic really; we are simultaneously treated as subjects with human rights that need to be recognised as well as animals lacking a “human nature”. We are outside the fray of human rights trying desperately to be treated with human dignity, lucky to be treated like dogs by concerned white people.
The commercial cannot be seen as advocating human rights, but animal rights in a sense. Its comparison of the black child with a dog showcases that the only way for non-black people to relate to black people is for us to be dehumanised. Animals are more deserving of moral concern it seems (though I am not saying they are not deserving of it at all), so in looking to help black people it is perhaps necessary to conflate human and animal rights so non-blacks can feel compelled to help in whatever way they deem appropriate. In the commercial whiteness is by and large depicted as the normative position, the ‘natural’ site for the receipt of comfortable living standards. But why is this representation of blackness and whiteness in human rights discourse thought to be unproblematic by large numbers of people?
Often it is forgotten by white people that they have the privilege of being ‘just’ human, of being individuals, of having subjectivity, agency. Usually they are in charge of charities designed to “help” black people (as is the case with Feed a Child), using this power to produce negative images of blackness. White people are nonracialised so they can speak to everyone’s common humanity, but that just means their target audience is white since everyone else is a racialised Other struggling to have their agency and subjectivity recognised and respected (by those who occupy a position of racial and often economic privilege vis-à-vis white people). Human rights discourse needs to move beyond antiblack, paternalistic Eurocentric notions of individuality and actually start treating people in need of help as subjects in their own right! I do not want to see whiteness continuously treated as the human norm, while black people are consistently dehumanised and depicted as white people’s pets. I do not want to see the elevation of white womanhood above blackness, which brings me to my final point.
I think the answer to this question can partially be found in the fact that mainstream understanding of the idea of human rights is Eurocentric. Prominent Western philosophers such as Thomas Hobbes, John Stuart Mill, and John Locke emphasised the importance of individual sovereignty. They believed that individuals needed to be protected from each other, each possessing inalienable natural rights. Now, these views may not seem problematic. They are still influential, but what is important in the context of this commercial is who is treated
“I DO NOT WANT TO SEE THE ELEVATION OF WHITE WOMANHOOD ABOVE BLACKNESS”
It is counterproductive, they said. But they were wrong, and so are you if you agree with them, because the existence of multiple –isms working towards women’s empowerment is not incoherent. What is incoherent is the desire to keep marginalised women shackled to a label, a movement, which is not for them. Personally I identify as a pro-feminist Africana womanist, because despite finding western feminism(s) unrepresentative, I support its efforts to empower women, and I support the women who identify with or are represented by it. How is this related to my critique of Feed a Child’s commercial, you ask? Well, Africana womanism is informed by Afrocentrism, which looks to re-centre and reaffirm black subjectivity and black identities in their heterogeneous form(s). It looks to reaffirm the identity of the black child in the commercial, to have him treated with the respect he deserves. Afrocentrism is not about positing a single “universal” paradigm of personhood as Eurocentrism was and is, vis-à-vis colonialism and slavery. It is about black people re-centreing historical narratives on us, reclaiming our past, our identities, and unravelling falsehoods about our identities which were and are perpetuated by nonblack people. It is about awarding ourselves subjectivity.
If whiteness is normalised and blackness marginalised vis-a-vis Feed a Child’s commercial, what claim can I lay to the label ‘feminist’? More often than not black women are marginalised in feminist discourse. For example, the feminist outrage expressed over Nicki Minaj’s Anaconda album cover: people denigrating her sexuality and body as a black woman. Why is it they do not critique Miley Cyrus’s accessorisation of black women and Iggy Azalea’s caricaturing of black womanhood as means of affirming her place in the rap and hip hop scene? Mainstream feminist discourse often does not critically engage with issues that are important to black women. Why, therefore, should I call myself a ‘feminist’?
Africana womanism, then, is about seeing to it that blackness (in general) is not derided as it is in Feed a Child’s commercial; a commercial that puts white womanhood above blackness, illustrating the racialised nature of human rights, as well as that of feminist discourse. As a black woman I cannot sleep with ease knowing that human rights discourse and campaigns contribute to the marginalisation of black people. I am not only concerned with dismantling patriarchy, but white supremacy as well. The latter is often ignored in (mainstream) western feminist discourse, and is the reason why I am not a feminist. So, the next time you are moved by a given charity’s work, step back and really consider the messages it sends out about marginalised groups! In the meantime I’ll stick to Africana womanism and continue reaffirming black subjectivity.
I will tell you straight up that I do not. ‘Feminist’ is an uncomfortable label for me. Before you chime in, I will tell you that I have sat and listened to many a white feminist tell me that discarding the label is divisive. I have been told I am doing myself (and other women) a disservice by rejecting it.
ARTWORK BY TARRYN
THEY ALL LAUGHED: TURKISH FEMINISMS BY YASHI RENOIR When the topic of feminism is broached, an archetype comes to mind: the white Western woman, career-driven and ambitious, who is aware of her rights and the aspects of a capitalist, patriarchal society that seek to challenge and hinder her. It is much more complex than that, and because we don’t take feminism at face value, we must also acknowledge and discuss feminism in other contexts. Feminism is not limited to how the Western world understands it. In Turkey, women have recently faced comments from their own deputy prime minister that they should not laugh in public. As a white Western female, I will never have to experience such a thing in my own country. Would Turkish and Western women then have different ideas of what it means to be a feminist? Do Turkish women embrace or reject Western ideas of feminism, and if it’s the latter, do we write it off as not ‘real’ feminism?
Kurdish nationalist feminists make the conflict between Kurdish and Turkish members of society their raison d’être, as it is having a harmful impact on Kurdish women. Islamist feminists are at odds with mainstream feminists in that they wish to express their freedom of religion by wearing the headscarf. In terms of Western feminism, these two groups deviate somewhat from what is thought to be mainstream feminism– liberation from patriarchal structures, from oppressive religious notions, and facilitating the upward mobility of women in all aspects of society; objectives which one would wrongly assume belong to all Turkish women. Does this mean that these other ‘types’ of feminism aren’t ‘real’ feminism? Feminism cannot be broken down into a set code. Adam Leake puts it down to ‘context’. These groups reside within differing socio-economic contexts. This does not delegitimise the causes of the three feminist groups in Turkey, nor does it invalidate feminist causes in societies other than the white Western world. The universal sentiment is to increase the rights and participation of all women, and different groups do this in different ways, for different reasons. In Turkey, Islamist feminists advocate women’s staying at home, as it is protection from men’s exploitation; mainstream feminism encourages the opposite. But mainstream feminism is not the be all and end all, as we might suppose from Turkish women’s reactions to the deputy prime minister’s comments. All forms of feminism should be acknowledged, as they are just as important. Feminism is not purely a ‘white’ concept – it is black, white, and all grey areas in between, and each and every woman has a right to be a feminist (or not at all) in whatever way she chooses.
Turkish feminists groups were split into three different groups following the 1980 coup d’état: what is referred to as modern Western feminism; Islamist feminism, and Kurdish nationalist feminism. These strands of feminism make the situation in Turkey not something to which we can only apply one conception of feminism. The deputy prime minister, Bülent Arinç, said that laughing in public is ‘unchaste’, and that chastity itself is not just a word, ‘it’s an ornament’. In his words, laughter is an ‘inviting’ attitude which propagates moral regression. This was met with significant backlash, as thousands of posts to Twitter showed women laughing in public places, accompanied by the hashtag #direnkahkaha (resist laughter) and #direnkadin (resist woman). Others used the tagline ‘my body, my decision’. This event has the markings of a Western feminist’s issue: the imposition of male agenda on the female body as well as her individual rights as a human being. But it is not an expression of all feminists in Turkey.
BALLS OF RESIDENCE BY KAT GILLESPIE group of students who were able to afford a ‘college education’. Most of the other stand-out memories I have of college involve overhearing vivid descriptions of sexual conquest, where women were described in an almost universally pejorative manner.
If you’re as slack on the driver’s license game as I am, you’ll have spent some time marvelling at the changes to the backdrop of the UWA bus stop. Those sure are some shiny new buildings – lots of new accommodation for all those students UWA is hoping will achieve international excellence in the comfort of their catered student apartments. Despite the shorter wait times that the 950 has ensured, I’ve been spending an increasing number of minutes in contemplation. What type of student lives at University Hall? What does it mean that the only women’s college, St Catherine’s, recently started welcoming male students?
About halfway through my year at college, I began to understand why St Catherine’s existed. I hadn’t considered a women’s only residence (to put it one way, seven years at an all-girls school had left me with certain curiosities) – but suddenly, the need for a supportive women’s space where study and social events were uninterrupted by the lad culture that had become so intimidating to me made complete sense. So when I heard that St Cat’s was going co-ed, I was immediately curious as to how the university could justify such a decision.
To live at UWA is prohibitively expensive. We’re talking enough money to rent out an entire house in the eastern suburbs, and have cash left over to pay a gardener and a cleaner. To live across the road from the classes you plan on skipping anyway is a huge financial sacrifice, and you can’t just slam it all onto your HECS debt and think about it later.
“FIRST YEAR UNIVERSITY EXPERIENCES… AWKWARD VIRGINITY LOSS, EXPERIMENTAL APPROACHES TO KRAFT EASY MAC, AND ETC”
It is strange that UWA didn’t consider, in its re-evaluation of the residential college structure, creating some kind of budget accommodation option. There is no question that demand would be high for cheap rooms. Indeed, the US and UK universities that our campus is apparently so keen to emulate tend to offer a variety of accommodation options to suit every budget (traditionally, these overseas universities own heaps of shitty, cheap, falling-apart sharehouses that provide roach-infested but accessible avenues for the formative first year experiences of their students – awkward virginity loss, experimental approaches to kraft easy mac, and etc). The expense of UWA’s colleges means that residence halls are inhabited by a certain type. Mine was ruled (quite literally) by wealthy men from country towns like Mandurah, Busselton, and Bunbury. Women were underrepresented, particularly within the student government that was in charge of organising college social events. Boys dominated within the unspoken but rigid social structure that determined the milieu of the residence. After six years at all-girls school, where I’d felt comfortable speaking my mind at any given time on any given topic, I frequently found myself so socially anxious that I couldn’t attend dinner in the college dining hall during the allocated eating times. The atmosphere was intimidating and uncomfortable in ways that I have only recently (after three years) been able to articulate.
Perusing the St Catherine’s website, there is no mention of its single-sex past – instead, photographs of smiling men and women in a kaleidoscope of ethnicities, standing side by side and presenting a textbook example of what any UWA student will immediately recognise as advertising rhetoric. We’re used by now to this university’s ‘diversity campaigning,’ and its lovely well-lit snapshots that do not always reflect the realities of student life here.
The student president of the college was historically a male engineering or law student self-described as ‘ladsy’ and ‘cheeky’. One intense memory of my singular year at the college is one where I am sitting in the quad and witnessing a popular group of boys return from a book signing where they have all procured autographed copies of John Howard’s autobiography Lazarus Rising. The former Prime Minister was held to be a hero amongst what I later understood to be the type of elite, politically skewed
I don’t think you need to be cynical to understand that, as an undergrad at UWA, the university sees you as a literal walking and talking cash cow with very few rights. Make no mistake – the demise of St Cat’s is an affront, as is the profound lack of affordable college rooms. Let’s make sure this kind of thing doesn’t keep happening. Don’t trust the vice chancellor – he’s an old white dude with dollar signs on the brain. Challenging the culture is up to us.
Hands of Damsel
by Caroline Stafford
IN RESTAURANTS BY CHANTEL DYBALL
I’ve spent my entire working career in restaurants. Sometimes I think it’s okay, I remind myself that ‘I’m studying’, it’s only a means to an end, getting dollars in my bank account before I land myself a ‘real job’. It has taken me this long to realise that I’m part of the problem. I’m devaluing the hospitality industry. Someone once told me that it’s tough being a waiter. Now, if you’re a girl, multiply the difficulty as every other form of discrimination comes into play. As a woman in hospitality, we are expected to be charismatic and competent, strong and sassy – and then reverted back to being nothing more than an object of ‘pretty’ that delivers you your food or pours you your drink. I am not a forklift with tits. That being said, there is a satisfaction of sorts when you realise that you can stack twelve plates without smashing anything.
This does not mean that a job within the service industry is ‘wasting’ one’s time or talents. Working in the industry has taught me to be humble and gracious to my fellow human. We don’t get days off for normal, fun time things like holidays. I am not wasting myself as a waitress. I get to work within a dynamic environment that is constantly abuzz (yes, the music is loud – that’s because it’s a bar) and I have worked with some especially good people. Hospitality requires endurance and high efforts. Because of this, I have been blessed to enjoy my time at work with particularly well-rounded individuals. Restaurants are a place where you re-learn one of the most basic human decencies – kindness. The service industry is one of the few workplaces where women are on equal footing as men. The same hours are worked, the same efforts are exhausted and if someone vomits in the bathroom – chances are you will have to deal with the same disasters of cleaning that up. Responsibilities are delegated evenly, which is a delight in comparison to other industries that have been traditionally male-dominated. Hospitality has reminded me that people are passionate about the good stuff in life. Food is innovative. Food is fun. To customers, I’m not just providing you with a meal, but a dining experience.
There have been countless evenings where I have gone home with my hair smelling of satay and bourbon saturating my shoes; yet I have still managed to have a wonderful (albeit tiring) shift. There are many commendable reasons to work in the food and beverage service industry. As a student, it’s a convenient and often enjoyable way to make money. However, there’s an unpleasant breed that doesn’t realise that your job as a server is not an indictment on the kind of person you are. In hospitality, manners are as valuable as gold.
“THIS IS NOT AN INVITATION TO TOUCH ME”
In restaurants, you’d think there would be a basic degree of respect for the people serving you. After all, I’m giving you food. For the artisanal sake of food and beverage pairing – be good to your waitress! If you’re a female server, some of the male pests of this world believe it is their duty to leer at you. It is my job to keep a permanent smile on my face (I am making you comfortable in my restaurant – nobody wants to order a drink from a grumpy gal). This is not an invitation to touch me. Too often, we see violence and sexual assault awareness campaigns that shift responsibility when alcohol is a factor. Using drunkenness is the cheapest and most pathetic means of excuse. Regardless of whether a customer is inebriated or not, you are not entitled to touch me. Your harassment isn’t cute. You are a guest to the restaurant; that does not justify your behavior to heckle every woman in an apron.
In restaurants, I have had men snap their fingers at me as if I were a dog. I have wished desperately that people would just STOP HAVING BABIES because I simply cannot deal with any more green vomit pooled in a high chair. I have learned the difference between ales and lagers and what the heck a hop is. I have remembered that good manners - that’s right, the ones your mum taught you - are a basic human kindness and go a long way. The hospitality industry is a bustling and festive place to work and even with the tiny horrors, it still manages to shape goodness around people. So next time you find yourself in a restaurant, even though that tempranillo is fourteen dollars a glass and your fries came out a little cold, please: be nice to your waitress.
Once after a particularly trying shift, I had a customer state that as a waitress, “[I] was wasting myself”. Hospitality is not often glamorous. Forget about hiding dark circles beneath the eyes or soft and elegant hands (not a week goes by that I don’t have cracked and cut fingers), because working in restaurants is labour intensive.
MAD GIRL ETC (A SYLVIA PLATH REMIX) BY KAT GILLESPIE I shut my eyes while I am giving head I lift my lids and all is born again (I wish I was anywhere else instead) The sheets are blue my mouth is red But arbitrary blackness gallops in As I shut my eyes while I am giving head I dreamed that you bewitched me into bed But it wasn’t like that, not quite the same (I wish I was anywhere else instead) It’s some kind of fireworks thing That you’re experiencing, then? WelI, I shut my eyes while I am giving head. I thought you’d return the favour like you said But at this stage you’d forget my name (I wish I was anywhere else instead) I should have loved some other guy instead Someone to put me on my back again I shut my eyes while I am giving head (I wish I was anywhere else instead)
BY ALICE MCCULLAGH
A menstrual cup (often known as a Diva Cup or Moon Cup) is a silicone cup about the size of a shot glass that you put in your vagina to collect your period blood. Later, you tip it down the sink. I bought one four years ago for around $30, and have been using it ever since - and for the last four years, I’ve never needed to buy pads or tampons. Here are some common responses that I get:
pinch either side of the cup to break the seal, and give it a good tug. I usually do this in the toilet or shower, so spillage isn’t an issue.
“That’s the grossest thing I’ve ever heard.”
In four years of using my cup, I’ve never had to change it at uni. This is because you can wear it for up to twelve hours without removing it. Most cups can hold 30mL of fluid without leaking, and most people only excrete 30-60mL of blood in TOTAL over a week of period-ing, so unless you have a very heavy flow, regular changing shouldn’t be an issue.
“Are you telling me that I have to remove a cup full of blood from my vagina at uni, tip it down the sink, wash the cup and then put it back in my vagina again?”
Well, kind of. You’re carrying a little receptacle of discarded uterine lining around inside you, and later in the shower you can tip it down the drain and pretend you are bathing in the blood of your enemies. Still, by the same reasoning, pads and tampons can be pretty gross, and menstrual cups are actually safer than both. As they don’t leach moisture from the vagina, they’re less likely to cause toxic shock syndrome. When your cup is inserted, your blood also won’t smell, as period blood only gets that distinctive period smell when it’s exposed to air. The more you know!
“What if leaks everywhere?” I had some leakage problems for my first few periods after getting my cup, before I got the hang of inserting it to the correct depth and angle. Luckily, when getting started I doubled up with pads so any damage was minimal. When I stopped getting leaks, I ditched the pads and never looked back!
“How am I supposed to fit one up my cooch?” Not everyone can comfortably use a cup, but if you can fit fingers, tampons or penises in your vagina, you can probably manage to get a cup in and out again. To get the cup in, you fold it into a kind of ‘C’ shape. To get it out again, you reach two fingers into your vagina,
You can buy a menstrual cup at www.mooncup.co.uk or www. divacup.com.
ARTWORK BY ANNATHEA CURRY
A GUIDE TO MENSTRUAL CUPS
WHICH FEMONSTER ARE YOU? BY TAMARA JENNINGS 1. The first thing people tend to notice about you is: a) You’re a bit flighty. b) You can act aloof towards people. c) Your wild hair. d) You eat very little.
4. The worst kind of man is: a) A man who wants to keep you tethered. b) You don’t really care about men, you care about women and children. c) A violent man. d) A cheap man.
2. If you could have any job, you would choose to be a: a) Pilot. b) Midwife. c) Herpetologist, which you’ve just discovered is not actually the study of herpes. d) Taste tester.
5. You would rather watch: a) Home and Away b) 16 and Pregnant c) Xena: Warrior Princess d) Nigella Feasts
3. What unusual thing would you be willing to eat for money? a) Algae. b) A human placenta. c) Mice. d) Anything and everything. You don’t even need to pay me.
6. What’s your best physical feature? a) Your grace. b) It’s what’s on the inside that counts. c) Your hair. d) Your lips. All of them. Wink wink.
If you picked mostly : A: you are a Kinnari
If you picked mostly : B: you are a Penanggalan
If you picked mostly : C: you are a Gorgon
If you picked mostly : D: you are a Futakuchi-onna
Asian mythology depicts Kinnari as graceful half human, half swan people. The most well known Kinnari is Manohara, a princess who was captured by a human hunter and given to Prince Sudhana. When Prince Sudhana left for battle, the city people spread the rumour that she would cause bad luck, and so she flew back to her own kingdom, leaving a ring for her prince to follow her. After Prince Sudhana completed a number of gruelling trials, they were reunited and lived happily ever after.
In Southeast Asian mythology, the Penanggalan is a unique type of vampire who can detach her head and organs from the rest of her body, and flies around at night seeking the blood of pregnant women, women giving birth, and young children. Typically, the Penanggalan starts out as a midwife who involves herself in black magic in order to obtain power or beauty. Once the midwife becomes Penanggalan, she spends her nights seeking out women in labour and using her long tongue to perform a somewhat bloody cunnilingus on the new mothers. For feeding purposes, of course.
In Greek mythology, Gorgons are female creatures famous for their distinctly reptilian hair and their petrifying faces. The Greek poet Hesiod speaks of three Gorgons in Theogeny: Stheno, the eldest and fiercest sister; Euryale, the middle sister; and Medusa, the youngest sister and the most famous of the Gorgons. Athena transformed the sisters into their infamous monstrous forms after Poseidon slept with Medusa in Athena’s temple. Some asshole king then tasked Perseus with killing Medusa, as part of an elaborate scheme to get with Perseus’s mum. Medusa was slain and her head was placed upon the shield Aegis. As usual, a woman suffered for men’s indiscretions.
In Japanese folklore, Futakuchi-onna are bizarre female creatures with supernatural origins and powers. Futakuchi-onna are characterised by having two mouths – one normal mouth, and also a gaping, ravenous second one on the back of their head. Stories with Futakuchionna often involve a stingy man who marries a woman because she seems to eat very little. However, when he discovers his food is disappearing at a rapid pace, he peeks on her and discovers her gobbling down astronomical portions of rice through the mouth on the back of her skull.
A TALE OF TWO CITIES: Cycling Life in Perth and Copenhagen BY JULIA CRANDELL
Cycling in Copenhagen, while living there for 10 months, gave me a sense of personal freedom I’d never experienced in Perth. This is because at 21 years of age I still am nowhere near obtaining my driver’s license (something which may be attributable either to my acute concern for the environment, or else just pure laziness).
feel the heat of their fury towards me emanating from inside the safe confines of their mechanical metal boxes. Not only do I often feel unsafe, but also self-conscious, for example the other day when I managed to hold up an entire bus which didn’t have the space to overtake me.
In Copenhagen, bikes outnumber people and more than a third of all Copenhageners commute to work or school every day. On almost every road there is a segregated lane designated as a cycle track, separated from the rest of the road by a curb, so you never have to engage with motor traffic. Cycling is super affordable: you can get good quality second-hand bikes for $150-$200. There is no imperative to cycle quickly, so unless you are perpetually running late for everything like me, you don’t even need to break a sweat. Wearing helmets is not obligatory, so the only thing that might mess your hair up is the wind (believe me, this is a real threat). Everyone cycles, from businesspeople in suits and high heels, to parents with their kids in a child seat or a box-like contraption attached to the front.
Of course, the ideal situation would be to have an extensive network of cycle paths, so that bikes wouldn’t have to piss anyone off. While there are some cycling paths and lanes in Perth, which is great, these are minimal compared with the routes available for cars. However, the problem can’t be fixed simply by improving cycling infra. The real difference in cycling between these two cities is the difference in cycling culture. In Copenhagen, cycling is simply a means of transport, a cheap and efficient way to get from A to B. In Perth, cycling is mostly seen as a sport, and a large proportion of the cyclists here are wannabe Cadel Evanses tearing up the cycle lane clad in tight-fitting lycra. This probably contributes to the gender gap in cycling here, since cycling, like many sports, is still-male dominated (I don’t see any female cyclists in the Tour de France).
“RIDE TO YOUR SUPERMARKET OR YOUR LOCAL PUB”
In Perth, I would love to see a culture of cycling develop, where cycling isn’t just a sport but a common sense mode of transport. You, yes you, can play a part in developing this culture, simply by getting on your bike and going for a ride! Ride to your supermarket or your local pub instead of taking the car. Even if you live far away, you can combine bike riding with public transport (subject to some peak hour restrictions, see the Transperth website) to get to uni or work. Don’t let my above frustrations dissuade you, because despite all this I still ride my bike here most days, and I truly believe in the power of the bike. And the next time you’re running late to uni because you’re stuck behind a cyclist, please cut them a little slack.
I am constantly frustrated by how shitty cycling is in Perth. As a female cyclist, you are neither a proper pedestrian nor a fullyfledged motorist, and you get abuse and hate from both sides. On numerous occasions I have copped flak from pedestrians when riding on the footpath (“you should be riding on the road!”), and, while I have never been verbally abused by motorists, I can often
THE GOOD GIRLS’ GRAFFITI GUIDE BY CAROLINE STAFFORD
3) Scout. Now it’s time to actually find a location. There’s a lot of thought that goes into finding where you want to put up your image. Do you want it to make a statement with its surroundings? Do you want to put it somewhere you’ll see yourself? Are you just looking for somewhere that’s easy to paste secretly? It’s up to you. When you’re looking for your place, keep in mind that you’ll need somewhere that’s easy to access, easy to leave in a hurry (should something turn south) and somewhere that is particularly flat.
When people think about graffiti they think about dark nights and boys hoodies and track pants with men’s junk flopping about as they run from potential discovery. Where are the ladies in that mental image? Male graffers mark public spaces with tags and posters of their own design, making them violent, hostile and unwelcome – modern graffiti is just one big permanent pissing contest. Well I’m here to say we should take it back, one empty wall at a time. So let’s start with the basics – the paste up.
4) Paste. Here’s the big moment. The actual paste. What you’ll have to do is paste where you want to stick, and the back of the poster. Then position it on the surface and paste it over again with another layer of paste. The best way to do this is to have your glue in some sort of squirty bottle (okay, so I use an ex-tomato sauce bottle) and to use a wide brush to spread the glue. Maybe even a board to keep the poster flat while you paste the back.
A paste up is a poster you’ve essentially glued to a wall. It’s a great place to start because you can a) make everything you need at home and b) application is quick, painless and leaves more time for the rush of endorphins that comes with baby’s first crime. 1) Art. To me this is the most important thing. If you want to do a paste up, you’ve got to have something to paste up! This can literally be anything that you can put on paper. You’ve actually got a realm of choice here, the only stipulation is that it must be on thin paper, we’re talking printer paper or thinner (preferably thinner), think butchers paper.
5) Run. Okay so yeah. You probably* won’t be arrested for doing a paste up, but you probably will be asked to remove it. If you’ve picked a quiet spot this shouldn’t be a problem, but if you’ve decided to be daring and go for somewhere that’s hard to remain hidden, my best advice is to keep it cool. Either pretend you didn’t do it and aren’t involved at all and have no idea why your hands are covered in paste, or take the bolder option and pretend you’re a pro. Act like your poster is supposed to be there! Because, in my view, it’s probably making the space a better place anyway.
2) Glue. This is the best bit, making the stuff. ‘Surely’, you say, ‘wouldn’t it be easier to buy glue?’ No way, we get to make paste! We take one cup of cornflour, with two tablespoons of sugar and one cup of water in a saucepan. Then use a whisk and stir the paste over a low heat until it’s thin and not gloopy. Keep on giving it a stir every now and again while it’s cooling. If you want it really, really sticky you can add some rice paste, but that’s pretty hard to find, so there’s no harm if you do without. Now you have a beautiful and untraceable paste that will keep for about a week! It’s best to use immediately though.
(*Do keep in mind that paste-ups on any building, no matter how un-used is still pretty illegal. So I’m not saying do it, but…)
‘the most discrete pad’
Megan Lee & Laura Mwiragua
WITH ELISE HIATT Coconut Macaroons Murmurs of approval ripple around the table. Nods and smiles in your direction and suddenly, all the macaroons are gone!
Coconut Bread You feel like eating delicious baked goods but not putting in the effort, so you whip up the easiest coconut “bread” (it’s cake) in history. Replace the milk with soy, or substitute gluten free flour, as you desire.
3 eggwhites 1 cup sugar (castor is best) 250 grams desiccated coconut 2 tablespoons plain flour 230 grams milk or dark choc-chips
1 cup self-raising flour 1 cup desiccated coconut 3/4 cup sugar 3/4 cup milk
1. Preheat oven to 180°C. Line 2 baking trays with baking paper. 2. Using an electric mixer, beat eggwhites until stiff peaks form. 3. Gradually beat in sugar until thick and glossy. 4. Fold in coconut, flour and choc-chips. 5. Using wet hands roll teaspoonfuls of mixture into balls and place onto trays. 6. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until just beginning to colour. Cool before enjoying.
1. Preheat oven to 190°C. Line and grease a loaf tin. 2. Combine dry ingredients in a bowl. 3. Stir in milk. 4. Pour into tin. 5. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until loaf is springy to the touch. Chocolate Self-Saucing Pudding It’s approaching midnight, there’s no chocolate in the house and that capsicum someone told you would satisfy chocolate cravings is lying next to you half-eaten on the couch. Here enters Chocolate SelfSaucing Pudding; also a great companion for dinner parties. 1 cup self raising flour 2 tablespoons cocoa powder 1/2 cup brown sugar 80g butter, melted 1/2 cup milk 1 egg
Lemon and Poppyseed Muffins The blooming garden is cast in a soft glow as gentle afternoon sun warms your back. Tea for two in the backyard. Your Mum sits opposite, a muffin on her plate. 2 cups self raising flour 1/4 cup poppyseeds 1/2 cup sugar 100 grams butter, melted 1 egg 1 cup plain yoghurt 2 lemons, rind and juice 1. Preheat oven to 200°C. Grease a 12-hole muffin tin. 2. Mix butter, sugar, egg, yoghurt, lemon juice, rind and poppyseeds. 3. Fold in flour. 4. Bake for 25 minutes or until springy to the touch.
For the sauce 3/4 cup brown sugar 2 tablespoons cocoa powder 1 1/4 cups boiling water 1. Preheat oven to 180°C. Grease an 8-cup capacity ovenproof baking dish. 2. Sift flour and cocoa into a large bowl. 3. Stir in sugar. 4. Combine butter, milk and egg in a jug. Slowly add to the flour mixture, whisking until well combined and smooth. 5. Pour into baking dish and smooth top. 6. For sauce, sprinkle combined sugar and cocoa over pudding. 7. Slowly pour boiling water over the back of a large metal spoon to cover pudding. 8. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until springy to the touch. 9. Serve warm with cream and berries (or eat straight from the dish…) 33
ARTWORK BY MEGAN ANSELL
We all know women’s place in the world extends beyond the kitchen. That doesn’t mean it hurts to have some recipes up your sleeve for when you find yourself there. These super easy recipes will have you whipping up scrumptious treats of MasterChef quality in no time.
IMPORTANT RESOURCES THE FREEDOM CENTRE
UWA STUDENT GUILD STUDENT ASSIST OFFICE
GenderQ Session- for trans/gender queer people on the first Thursday of every
The Guild employs Student Assist Officers to provide information, advice
month from 5-8pm.
and assistance on a wide range of issues relating to students’ academic,
Junior AGender –A session for young people 18 & under who are trans and/or
welfare and financial needs, including: appeals against academic assessment,
gender diverse and their families on the last Monday of every even month 5-8pm.
application for special consideration, sexual harassment, counseling, appealing
Phone: (08) 9228 0354 | (during session times) Office phone: (08) 9482 0000
(during business hours; WA AIDS Council number) Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Postal address: PO Box 1510, West Perth, WA 6872
Location: 93 Brisbane St. Northbridge PERTH 6000 UWA MEDICAL CENTRE HEADSPACE
The medical centre is located on the second floor of the Guild Commercial
Free youth health service for counselling and other health issues.
Centre The centre provides a full range of GP services. The Medical Centre bulk
bills most medical costs (vaccinations not included) for students. Phone: (08) 6488 2118.
WA AIDS COUNCIL COUNSELLING SERVICES
Specialises in diverse sexuality & gender counselling UWA COUNSELING AND PSYCHOLOGICAL SERVICES
Phone: 08 9482 0000 (no clients under 16 years old)
Website: www.student.uwa.edu.au/life/health/counselling UWA STUDENT GUILD WOMEN’S DEPARTMENT The UWA Student Guild Women’s Department aim to fight sexism and
UNICARE EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION
misogyny on and off campus.
Facebook: www.facebook.com/UWAGuildWomens UWA EARLY LEARNING CENTRE
Website: www.childcare.uwa.edu.au/elc THE WOMEN’S ROOM The Women’s Room is an autonomous (women identifying students) space
SEXUAL HEALTH ASSAULT RESOURCES CENTRE (SARC)
located on the second level of the Guild Hall. The Women’s Room is a safe space
Emergency Line: (08) 9340 1828
free from sexism, racism, queerphobia and judgment.
UWA STUDENT GUILD QUEER DEPARTMENT
WOMEN’S COUNCIL FOR DOMESTIC AND FAMILY VIOLENCE SERVICES
The Queer Department (QD) provides support, advice and fun for students of
diverse sexuality and gender at UWA. Facebook: www.facebook.com/uwastudentguildqd
Emergency Line: 13 11 14
UWA SECURITY UWA Security provides an after-hours escort to car parks, colleges and accommodation immediately adjacent to the University. Phone: (08) 6488 3020 Emergency Line: (08) 6488 2222. Website: www.security.uwa.edu.au/personal-safety
THIS IS AN ANNUAL PUBLICATION OF THE UWA STUDENT GUILD WOMEN’S DEPARTMENT
The annual publication of the UWA Student Guild Women's Department