There’s not many people who can get me panicked that I’ll miss a train at 6:30 in the morning, except for my friends. And on Sunday 8th March, International Women’s Day, I spent some quality time with some strong women that I’m lucky enough to call my friends.
Zina and I had tickets to the All About Women Festival in Sydney. It was our second year attending so I think this is the start of a new and exciting tradition for us.
Race to learn
We attended a session featuring the deity Flex Mami and iconic Clementine Ford all about ‘finding your voice,’ especially in the digital sphere. Just two seats away was my amazing colleague and I knew we’d have a lot to talk about when we returned to the office.
The conversation ebbed and flowed between why we may or may not need to find a strong online voice for ourselves, where our voices develop from and what drives us to voice our opinions and experiences.
“We always race to speak, but we don’t always race to learn and understand.”
I thought that the biggest take away for me was that some of us are lucky to have a platform, my blog is one of mine. And that with a platform comes a responsibility.
My colleague asked me yesterday at work what was my purpose in life – I know, just small talk.
After thinking about it for some time, now, in the stage of my life I’m currently in, I replied, ‘to learn all that I can.’
I believe, what Clementine and Flex showed was vulnerability in not knowing things, in making mistakes and growing and evolving their ideas and values.
“No one finds their voice or comes into this world as a perfectly politically correct person.”
We’re all on this journey together, and this International Women’s Day, with the theme being Each for Equal, is really resonated that we’re all trying to do our best and understand this crazy world and our position in it.
So, what about my voice?
At 25 I know that I’ve got a voice. I know how to use it. I’ve perhaps used it irrationally before. And I’ve said things that I perhaps regret or shouldn’t have said.
But I’m aware of this. I feel so aware of my views, values and voice and I’m always questioning why I think, react and behave this way. I think what’s next for me is refining my voice. Cutting out all the shit, all the nonsense, all of the stuff that does not spark joy, and use my voice wisely.
I want to race to learn, rather than race to speak. Because I think when we learn and take our time, is when we grow and create magic.
A huge shoutout to the incredible women in my life who have shown me the way, and played a pivotal part in me finding more voice. To my family, friends, colleagues, role models, acquaintances… to the people who listen to me, support me and lift me… thank you.
Individually, we are one drop. Together we are the ocean.
On Sunday 10th March, I decided to do something I’ve always wanted to do… attend an event about empowering, educating and inspiring badass women. All About Women is a festival celebrating women and our achievements whilst critically engaging in the global discussion surrounding gender inequality, and what it looks like for women around the world.
As I was on the train en route to Sydney, I firstly took some time to think about my experience as a woman in the world today. I am a proud feminist and feel relatively ‘woke’ about women’s issues in today’s society. But no matter your ‘wokeness’ level, if you’re a woman navigating today’s society, gender inequality affects each and every one of us in different ways. This is what gender inequality feels like in my everyday life;
I am terrified to walk home from the train station (5 minutes from home) at night.
I am scared of having my drink spiked when on a night out.
I feel ‘lucky’ for getting a job, rather than feeling I’ve ‘earned’ it.
I am labelled hysterical and psycho when I am angry or emotional.
I think twice about what I wear out, in case I attract unwanted attention.
I question my male friendships.
I get offended by trashy hip hop music videos.
I second guess when I hold hands with my girlfriend in public.
I’m constantly told my body is not sexy enough, slim enough or (insert health influencer buzzword here) enough.
I’m worried I won’t have enough superannuation when I retire.
I hold off disclosing my sexuality straight away.
My heart breaks every time I hear about a woman who has died at the hands of violence.
These are just some of the ways I do not feel equal in society. But being a white woman living in Australia, I know that my experiences are vastly different than those experiences of women of colour, transgender women, women with disabilities, women of faith and any woman who identifies as part of a minority.
This is why I wanted to attend this event. To hear, learn and grow from women whose experiences are different to mine, reflect and challenge my own knowledge, and think about what the future of feminism and gender equality looks like.
The Cut On Tuesdays featuring Clementine Ford
I attended a live recording of one of my favourite podcasts called ‘The Cut On Tuesdays.’ If you haven’t heard of it, and if you’re reading this blog, you will love it and I implore you to pause. go download. listen for the 40 minutes. come back. and say with me now. WOW!
I’ve never been to a live recording of a podcast, so I can truly say I had no idea what to expect. I attended with my friend Zina, and her Mum, which was a très cool duo to attend with. Under the beautiful arches of the Sydney Opera House, in the newly refurbished Utzon room, Molly Fischer brought the house down with her brilliant episode and presentation. With such a strong voice and even stronger ‘can do’ energy, I was immediately hooked. The fact that I could see Australian feminist icon, Clementine Ford, sitting in the front row, had me wriggling nearly off my seat!
Molly spoke about ‘women’s media.’ Everything from the sealed section in Cosmo, to the buzz word badass, to evolving from a fashion blog to a major political news company, now known as The Cut. When she invited Clementine Ford on stage to discuss gender and women’s rights here in Australia, I found myself nodding along to everything they were saying. As a young woman who recently graduated from a media and communications degree, it’s pretty inspiring to hear directly from the horses mouth, the experiences and challenges associated with being a woman in the media.
When the interview was wrapping up, Clementine Ford asked Molly what she thought of Australia and the way in which we treat women, after rather explicitly suggesting Australia is a rather sexist country. Her response was interesting. Whilst having only been in the country a few days, the first thing she mentioned was the luxury Australians have by having Medicare and universal health cover. Compared to the US, we are incredibly lucky to have such a wonderful system where a doctors appointment doesn’t cost hundreds of dollars. It was also interesting to see them apply a feminist lens to healthcare. Women’s rights are human rights and society as a whole benefits when women are treated equally. It was pretty damn awesome to be in a room where I felt excited by the challenge of being a woman with a passion for the media and the critical ability to engage with it.
Wokeness and Radness: Ayishat Akanbi and Jan Fran
The next session I attended was titled the ‘The Problem With Wokeness,’ presented by Jan Fran and Ayishat Akanbi. My first question was, well what is wokeness? And is there a problem with it?
I think the first time I came across the term ‘woke,’ was Childish Gambino’s Redbone, with the line ‘Stay woke, n*ggers creepin. They gon’ find you. Gon’ catch you sleepin.’ Fast forward a few years and being woke is one of the trendiest things you can be. Upon doing some light research before this talk, I found that ‘woke’ or ‘staying woke’ originates from American people of colour about racial injustice in the US with regards to police brutality. Woke is the past tense of ‘to wake,’ implying that wokeness equates to waking up to yourself and the world around you. Seeing the world for what it really is in all its messiness. Now, wokeness equals being aware of various social injustices affecting our communities and livelihoods.
So… what’s the problem with it? Well I must admit, I was so completely absorbed by her conversation and what she had to say, that I stopped taking notes and decided to just take it in. But one of the biggest takeaways is that she argues that wokeness has stripped us of our compassion. At the end of the day, regardless of our identities, we are painfully similar and have a lot more in common that we could believe. Compassion is fundamental for creating empathy and real connections with people who are similar to use yet have experienced the world in a different way to us.
I learnt that you really can’t be woke about everything. At the end of the day, we will never truly understand everyone’s unique experiences of the world. Oppression and inequality affects people in many ways. It’s up to us to listen, learn, be allies and speak up. I learnt it’s also not worth your time or energy to argue with people who are less intelligent than you. And by less intelligent, I mean, stupid idiot internet trolls who have already made up their mind and will attack you to break you. I found this enlightening because it’s a reminder to not always take things personally. That people can be passionate about a situation, whilst being respectful to you. And when they’re not, they’re not worth your time.
Ayishat also recommended if you want to have real conversations and attempt to really debate ideas, then leave your DM’s open. It’s funny how reactionary people are in the comments section. They type first and think later. In the DM’s, it’s a whole other story. People are respectful, polite and articulate. Even when disagreeing on a topic. I honestly believe this is how you have meaningful conversations that lead towards long term change.
I left the Festival feeling incredibly inspired yet apprehensive. It’s kinda crazy attending an event where everyone there is like minded, especially in the fight for gender equality, and then you leave the safety of your bubble and realise that there are some not so woke people out there. But the takeaway is that there are people out there. Fighting the hard fight, speaking out and standing up.
We’re not there yet, and we’ve got a long way to go, but in the meantime we can lift each other up and enjoy the ride.
Have you ever watched an Australian film from the 70’s that was so bad, it was actually good? Then you were most likely watching an Ozploitation film. During this time ‘Australia as an institution required a national identity, consisting of images of itself emanating from its own culture and reflecting the characteristics of it’s population’ (Rayner, 2000). And what better way to do so than exploit the hell out our stereotypes. Ozploitation films were genre films, including horror, bikie gangs and sexploitation, and during the 1970’s and 80’s there were over 400 Australian films made. The biggest boom in Australian film history (Middlemost, 2015). This massive boom in the industry is due to the 10BA tax introduced at the time. Long story short, the 10BA meant that filmmakers got a 150% tax deduction, meaning that they were making money. (For the long story, click here). Whilst the era of the 10BA is over and Ozploitation films leave us cringing… the case study of Ozploitation films teach us that the Australian film industry was is dominated by men.
Trailer for ‘Not Quite Hollywood.’
Male Domination of the Australian Film Industry
If you watch the trailer for Mark Hartley’s 2008 documentary Not Quite Hollywood, you’ll notice just how masculine Ozploitation films were. The men reinforced ‘the essential Australian male, working-class, sardonic, laconic, loyal to his mates, unimpressed by rank, an improvisor and non-conformist’ (Rayner, 2000, pp. 95).
As you can see in the screenshots above, women are often portrayed as submissive, weak or victimized. In Ozploitation films ‘naked women are subjected to violence and brutal villains tend to demonstrate their power by driving fast or showing off their massive members’ (Fuchs, 2009). This submissive image of women contrasted to the macho man, highlights the inequality between men and women on screen.
Rebecca Giwing remembers working on Sandy Harbut’s biker movie, Stone (1974): “It was as sexist in production as the world that it was portraying,” she says, “The women did as they were told and the blokes seemed to have all the fun.” As explained in Hartley’s Not Quite Hollywood, some of the women found it very empowering to be nude and sexual on camera, however as Giwin admits above, that wasn’t always applicable to all.
However, gender inequality doesn’t just affect the actresses in the movies. It affects every women whether they’re in the industry or not. In Monica Davidson’s essay titled ‘Knocking on a Locked Door: Women in Australian Feature Film,’, it reveals that ‘of all Australian feature films made since the 1970s, a staggering 85% have been directed by men’ (Daily Review, 2015). And as you can see in the infographic above, the gap between men and women in the film industry is huge.
The case study of Ozploitation not only highlights the gender inequality during the 70’s and 80’s, but also allows us to question why we are still facing such inequality within the Australian film industry in 2016. It’s important that we demand change because ‘with their powerful influence on shaping the perceptions of large audiences, the media are key players for the gender equality agenda’ (Mlambo-Ngcuka, 2014).
However… there is hope! Screen Australia have recently committed to supporting, financing and encouraging the role that women play in the Australian film industry. Watch below for more information.
Rayner, J 2000, Contemporary Australian Cinema : An Introduction, Manchester : Manchester University Press, 2000, viewed 21 December 2015
Thomas, D J 2009, ‘Tarantino’s Two Thumbs Up: Ozploitation and the Reframing of the Aussie Genre Film’, Metro Magazine: Media & Education Magazine, 161, p. 90, Informit Literature & Culture Collection, viewed 15 December 2015
I’m on a mission. On a mission to read some great books. There’s nothing I love more than spending a Summer’s day at the beach, buried in my book. I bought this book a few weeks ago and after finally having the time to read and reflect on this little treasure, I just had to share with you some of my thoughts.
Girl in the Woods by Aspen Matis is a beautiful memoir that explores the delicate connection between nature, healing, growth and self acceptance and development. On her second night at college she is raped. She then decides to hike the Pacific Coast Trail, from Mexico to Canada. This book is not about rape or being a victim. It’s about being a survivor, not only through sexual abuse and self acceptance, but literally surviving the American wilderness.
As a young woman just trying to survive university and the struggles of everyday life, reading Aspen’s personal, emotional and brave story of her overcoming such things is not just inspiring but deeply motivating in my pursuit of happiness, travel, connection and love. I am extremely passionate about the educational and healing power of travel and I feel that this book beautifully illustrates this.
But it’s not all sad and serious. I don’t think she intended it to be this way at all. Of course what happened is horrific and you can’t write a memoir without including such a life altering event. But I think the real life changing event for me reading this book, was how she grew, learnt, changed and accepted herself over 2 650miles from Mexico to Canada.
So here are some of the things that I’ve taken away from such an engaging book.
(There are a few spoilers ahead, but I haven’t given anything away yet).
No means no
If it doesn’t feel right, it’s OK to say no. Saying no doesn’t make you uptight or frigid. It simply means that right now, in this moment, you are not consenting to have sex with someone. It also doesn’t mean you don’t like or love that person. But how that person responds to you saying no, will definitely say a lot about how they truly feel about you.
Speak to be heard, not just listened to
Aspen wrote this book with purpose. She later spoke at her college where she was raped and by her speaking up about what happened, a woman in the audience felt empowered to do the same. If we have something to say, we deserve to be heard, not just listened to and marginally acknowledged. When her parents choose not to acknowledge her rape, it’s absolutely heartbreaking. The only people she’s ever been dependent on her whole life had let her down. It is not only up to us to speak out, but for the people we’re talking to, to do something about it. Her way of speaking about it was through her journals. By doing this she was able to write about her thoughts and emotions but also contemplate them and grow. This also reflects society and the urgent need to know how to help someone who needs it.
Nature is dangerous and it may try to kill you, but it is beautiful
Aspen writes about survival. This trail is not just a pleasant hike you go on to tick off your bucket list. You need to have the deepest motivation and commitment to the trail and yourself. There are few incidences where she is short of death, but as the saying goes… what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Not only does she survive off of the land and care packages her Mum sends her, but also rape. She writes ‘the trail had shown me how to change.’
Life has a funny way of working itself out
She meets her husband on the Pacific Coast Trail. When she finishes and they are catching a ride back to civilisation, she admits that she could of taken another path in life. One that involved her finishing her studies, living out her life as a high school teacher and being mediocrely happy. The path of the Pacific Coast Trail started with her rape, but it ended in her becoming Aspen Matis. She fell in love, she learnt how to survive by herself, and ultimately the Pacific Coast Trail served as nature’s way of healing her body, mind and heart.
Overall, I felt like I was walking the PCT with Aspen. With every page I could feel the miles she walked that day. It’s a difficult book to read because there are such personal reflections, but I think it’s what we need. In order to offer help to others and allow others to seek help, we need to be educated about what to do in situations like this. To empower women to stand up for themselves and teach men not to rape. This book is extremely captivating and I thank the author, Aspen Matis for sharing such a beautifully personal experience.
Feminism has copped a lot of slack lately. It is now a term of derision and many people say ‘I believe in equlality, but I don’t identify as a feminist.’ There’s such a big anti-feminist movement that when you google feminist, one of the first things that appear is the website ‘Women against Feminism.’ And when did it become a bad thing to be a feminist? Perhaps the following video could be fuelling the anti-feminist fire.
Unfortunately, this has been watched over 700 000 times broadcasting incorrect and damaging information about feminism. Feminism has nothing to do with giving entitlements to women or trying to make them superior to men as she suggests in her I’m not a feminist because… photo. And that’s why knowing what feminism is and what it stands for is so important. And this is the same woman who claims that ‘the west does not have a rape culture.’She has been misled to believe that feminism is a women only movement, and by her spreading this message to such a large audience, can be detrimental for feminism and what it stands for.
If you weren’t living under a shell last year, you would have heard Emma Watson’s speech for the UN’s He For She Campaign, which addresses the crucial role that men play in the feminist movement. And this is the most important part, men and women should work together to overcome gender inequality because men suffer from being ‘imprisoned by gender stereotypes’ as well (Watson, 2014). So, to clear up some things;
Feminism is not: ‘laziness, bitching on Tumblr and policing other people’s free speech’ (1), demonizing men (2) or special treatment (3)’ (women against feminism)
Feminism is: the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities. It is the theory of the political, economic and social equality of the sexes.
Many people are under the impressions that ‘they don’t need feminism because gender inequality doesn’t exist in our society’ or as Kayley Cuoco said ‘I’m not a feminist because I’ve never experienced inequality’ (Jones, 2014). Just because you personally don’t experience inequality, it doesn’t mean it’s not real. The UN’s Millenium Development Goals 2015 Report highlights that gender inequality is still experienced world-wide.
‘Women continue to face discrimination in access to work, economic assets and participation in private and public decision-making. Women are also more likely to live in poverty than men. In Latin America and the Caribbean, the ratio of women to men in poor households increased from 108 women for every 100 men in 1997 to 117 women for every 100 men in 2012, despite declining poverty rates for the whole region.’ (UN, 2015)
Germain Greer who is a leading Australian feminist, actually says that it is important that we don’t define feminism because by defining it, we are giving it limitations. ‘It’s important that feminism is allowed to evolve and change over time.’ (reference Q&A video) which can hopefully help overcome it’s exclusivity. However * argues that by having a more ‘dynamic definition it will enhance understanding and significance among men and women’ (Offen, 1988). This highlights the different ideas people associate with feminism and why it isn’t so simple to define or easily agreed upon.
Feminism is also generally associated with white, middle class women and excludes a person of colour or anyone else that doesn’t fit the criteria. Roxane Gay is what she calls a ‘Bad Feminist,’ because she does not fit the ‘traditional characteristics’ of a feminist of ‘being all, and having it all.’ Of course this raises many other questions regarding racism, however in the following TED talk, she discusses feminism and why she is a ‘Bad Feminist.’
The most significant part of her talk is where she proudly says ‘we can boldly claim our feminism. I’d rather be a bad feminist than no feminism because feminism gave me a voice.’ So regardless of what we call it, this is why we need it.
Personally, I am a feminist because I believe that all children have a right to education. Because women deserve the right to make decisions regarding their own body. Because I don’t want to be objectified or sexualised. Because men and women should work together to achieve equality. Because I am a young women who should have the opportunity to accomplish my dreams.
This is a visual essay I made for a subject at university. It looks at the misrepresentation of feminism by celebrities in the media and why we need feminism to focus on basic human rights for all women. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love Beyoncé and Miley, however I think more responsibility needs to be applied when representing serious social issues like gender inequality. It can’t all be sequins, booty, free the nipple etc because how is that going to help the women in the world where gender inequality affects their everyday life? We need to not only act for ourselves, but also for those who are not given the opportunity or right to.
This clip is an incredibly insightful, confronting and enlightening discussion between a variety of women who have varying views of feminism. From not identifying as a feminist due to feminism being targeted at middle class white women, the forward motion of feminism and how it needs to include women of colour, transgender women and disabled women, to feminism being more than an individual happiness and needs to be a collective movement, to not wanting a definition because definitions by nature are limiting and the feminism movement must continue to be dynamic and fluid, all of these women’s views are equally interesting and informative.
A part of the discussion which really challenged my preconceived ideas of feminism is the idea of femism being so much more than individual acceptance and behaviour. How it not ok to make personal decisions and behave in a way that you deem ok and excercising a right of freedom to make those decisions, where those decisions can have adverse affects on women kind as a whole. I guess this brings in the whole ‘not asking for it’ movement which despite what a woman wears – whether it be jeans, jumper, bikini, bra, shorts, crop top or a dress – she’s not asking for it (IT being sexual abuse). I completely agree with this movement and believe that regardless of what a woman wears despite how ‘slutty’ or ‘provocative’ it may appear, she does not deserve any mistreatment or abuse. However, are individuals, especially those of power like Miley Cyrus who do wear provocative clothing really contributing to woman kind in a positive way? Yes, individuals like Miley Cyrus are excercising their right to make their own decisions and wear what they want to wear, but in the long run, is it undermining the very notions of feminism as a collective movement?
I guess we are in this world together and we as a society should act upon the interest of that society, however at the end of the day, all we really have are ourselves. Is it ok/justified to do what you want and to make your own decisions based on your individual wants/needs, OR, should we change our frame of mind and act/make collectivistic decisions based on the success and liberation towards woman kind as a whole? I can’t make that decision for women everywhere, but I do know that it is important to maintain the key values of feminism in our every day lives and fight against injustice.
‘For the record, feminism, by definition, is the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities. It is the theory of the political, economic and social equality of the sexes.’ – Emma Watson
Recently, there has been a big hype around the dreaded or welcomed word – FEMINISM. Especially after actress, Emma Watson, delivered a powerful speech to the UN this week. Whilst people in the 21st Century might have mixed feelings towards the word, it is by no means a new word or concept. Feminism started in the 1800’s, and we have authors such as the brilliant Mary Shelley (and her activist mother) to push for equality. Yet fast forward 200 years and inequality – not just towards women – is still a prominent issue.
I will admit, like Emma herself, I too have been absolutely privileged to be born healthy, into a kind and loving family, in Australia, one of the safest countries in the world and attend primary and high school, and now be at university. I am incredibly grateful and appreciative of what I have been given and as Emma says, I feel a sort of responsibility to help those who don’t or won’t have access to these things.
For a long time now, I have believed in EQUALITY of all kinds. Yet one thing I didn’t understand was why Feminism, supporting gender equality, was such a taboo topic. As soon as you mention the word, people roll their eyes and groan, assuming you’re a lesbian who doesn’t shave her legs or armpits and hates men. And this is why I’m thankful that someone as beautiful, intelligent and powerful as Emma has set the record straight.
I agree that equality requires EVERYONE. Men, women, boys and girls, from all countries, religions, races and beliefs… everyone. And by uniting together, we can conquer more than gender inequality, but maybe even hunger, access to clean water, deforestation, domestic violence… the opportunities are endless. On one condition… we unite together for a better world.
I feel that the most powerful part of her speech came down to these simple words. ‘If not me, who? If not now, when?’ We can apply this not only to social issues like gender inequality, but to every aspect of our lives. Personally, I’ll be sure to ask myself these questions when I am writing and trying to achieve anything I set my mind to.
I feel saddened that people have opposed her address, even with a Emma, You’re Next, website being launched, counting down the days, hours and minutes until her apparent nude photos are leaked. This is just highlighting the predatory nature some men possess over women, and I think it’s pathetic and I’m sure Emma does too. Regardless of whether or not nude photos exist is not the issue. The issue is sharing private explicit photos of women on the Internet. This is a form of sexual assault and harassment and shouldn’t be tolerated in our society. And to be honest, if it were the explicit nudes of the men behind this website, all it would do it prove that they must have small, unimpressive and disappointing dicks and personalities.
My name is Adelaide. I am a feminist because I believe in not only gender equality, but equality for all people.