4 Apr 2011, Comments (33)

Down Under Feminist Carnival #35

Author: Helen

Downunder Feminist Carnival
This month’s DUFC is brought to you by the Cast Iron Balcony. Welcome to the Balcony! Come up, admire the view of Melbourne, and grab a glass of what you fancy. Settle in, it’ll be a big one.

Wasn’t March a busy month? For our NZ bloggers it was still a matter of coming to terms with the terrible Christchurch earthquake. Amanda of Pickled Think lives in the Canterbury/Christchurch area and has published her experiences during the quake and afterwards. She has had a story published in Tales for Canterbury: a fundraising anthology, a short story compilation the profits from which go to earthquake relief. Buy up big for friends’ birthdays and next Christmas. Deborah, at The Hand Mirror, takes a moment to remember and reflect on the earthquake .

International Womens Day

March 8 was, of course, International Womens Day. In No more men?, Shiny new coin SNC pre-empts the cries of “why isn’t there an International Men’s day?” and writes about a new study on women and homelessness. “It Could be You: Female, Single, Older and Homeless, aside from the irksome and unwieldy title, reads like a perfect storm of why there is an International Women’s Day.”

Here in Victoria, Great Southern Land writes about “ a pretty vile little tale of racism I’ve been tweeting my lardy butt off about, trying to get some media coverage for the ballsy gals in the midst of it all. On International Women’s Day the ballsy Gunai/Kurnai chickybabes at Lake Tyers Aboriginal Trust blockaded the former mission due to a great many issues happening.” The Victorian Liberal government is staging a mini-Intervention in Lake Tyers.

Steph of All My Penguins had mixed feelings about a Melbourne panel discussion on publishing, Women in Print. Here’s Jo Case’s take on the same event. In Western Australia, Lauredhel is unimpressed with IWD offerings in the local news: “Happy IWD. Now shut the fuck up! Fuck Politeness, in NSW, is similarly unimpressed with the local news outlets. Miss Eagle attends a Melbourne IWD cocktail party and encounters heavy-handed security, overzealous policing, and feelings of ambivalence towards the choice of speaker (Jenny Macklin) and political expedience. Over in NZ, Stargazer of the Hand Mirror blogs the IWD speech given by Rachel Simon-Kumar, a senior lecturer at the university of Waikato.

Pharaohkatt published an IWD post honouring women in science, mathematics, politics and other fields. From Pickled Think, Dear You, which, in my opinion, is going Straight to the Pool Room (a quaint Australian expression like You Bewdy and Bloody Bottler.)

Politics and activism

There was some controversy around the Wellington Young Feminist Collective. Maia of Capitalism Bad, Tree Pretty, wrote a controversial post on the Hand Mirror, Is this what Feminists look like?”: Will we be taken seriously if we write about “lifestyle” topics on a feminist space? Here are some thoughts from Anjum/Stargazer, also at the Hand Mirror, In Support of Exclusion. (Update 5/04: Alternative views from QoT, Deborah and Coley in comments.)

In a Moral, if meaningless, victory, Nadia of Mixed Nuts shows and comments on a TV panel discussion in Pakistan, with a lawyer/activist and a teacher, both women, expertly pinning down a fundamentalist politician’s spin.

We’ve had a State election in Australia. Joanna at The View Down Here, a voter with a disability, used the iVote electronic voting system to vote from home in the NSW State election on 26 march. “But my question is; is this going to simply be a work around so the various electoral commissions don’t need to improve the distances to and percentages of accessible venues. I hope not. But sadly I fear so.” “But what,” writes Chally at Global Comment, “if the NSW and Australian governments were invested in disability services as much as they claim during election campaigns? That would mean confronting the situation for some of the most vulnerable disabled Australians – even the politically unpopular ones, like disabled inmates.” (Election Promises in New South Wales: Forgetting Disabled Inmates).

Reproductive Justice

NZ blogger Queen of Thorns at Ideolgically Impure has had an article published in the NZ Standard, Shrieking harpies to abort Labour?s election chances. “New Zealand’s abortion laws are shite, they are outdated, they do fuck up women’s lives, and it is time for a fucking change.” But of course, to mainstream politicians, it’s NEVER a good time to bring up this topic. QoT deals with the blowback (from “the Left”) in subsequent posts: Keep obstacles on abortion for Bob McCoskrie’s boner, Letters from a New Zealand basement: opposing opposition to opposers « Ideologically Impure , Dinosaur trips over own boner while tilting at self-constructed windmills and Way to dispel that “condescending Papa Bear jackass” rep, Chris. Fascinating, if horrifying, reading. More from In The Gateaux (Honourable mention for best blog name) with The Great Mansplainer.

Deborah at A Bee of A Certain Age blogs about the Pope sticking his nose into womens’ reproductive rights again in Don’t worry their pretty little heads about it. In The right way to talk about abortion, Boganette riffs on the timid and submissive way women, even activists, are supposed to behave rather than “demanding” such things as reproductive rights, which is so rude, isn’t it? LadyNews suggests we may have to be like Oliver Twist, with Please Sir, May We Have Some More Rights?

LGBTQI and Gender

“Gay marriage against my upbringing” I just I don’t even – Steph at All My Penguins tries to make sense of Australian PM Julia Gillard’s conservative statement on gay marriage, but can’t. “This is like some sort of word salad, a mish mash of sentences randomly squished together in the hopes of confusing us…”

In Masculinity and the fear of losing it, Blue Milk’s thoughts on the pressure to parent her son Cormac to be “masculine”. “…I confess to privately celebrating the girlish moments a little more. It is not because I entertain notions of undoing masculinity, it is because I recognise its dominance.” Mindy has written a companion piece at Hoyden About Town, Enabling Femininity? . “(I)s allowing our girls to wear nail polish and dress up in pink enabling femininity? Are we giving our daughters the wrong message?”

Bluebec Makes Trouble. “I wish it wasn’t the case that the way SOME gay and lesbian people treat bisexuals mirrors quite closely the persecution that gay and lesbians fought against for years.” And in A Quick Response to a bad Article, she responding to John Dickson in The Drum: “Is holding a moral view hateful? That depends on the moral view. If that moral view suggests that a group should be marginalised, stigmatised, and treated negatively for an attribute they possess, then yes, that moral view is hateful. And what you are suggesting Dr Dickson is the continuation (with sanction) of a hateful moral view…” Feminethicist discusses Facebook behaviour and the double fail on the part of some Facebook users – One, they equate updating someone else’s facebook account with rape, and two, the extreme homophobia endemic in the culture.

Queen of Thorns on privilege : “I’m a straight woman with Real Queer Friends…Because I am Schrödinger’s Heterosexual: my friends can never truly be certain whether or not I’m homophobic or transphobic or see the world in heteronormative terms until I demonstrate it. Until I fail the test.”
Coley Tangerina on the transphobia of NZ shopping site “1 Day”.

And as Deborah points out, male remains the default gender.

The Body

A Shiny New Coin muses on her newfound activity, roller derby, and how liberating it is to participate in an activity where her body is less under scrutiny as an object of social approval, even as she works to increase her physical fitness – unlike the gym. Stef of A Touch of the Crazy goes to the doctor for Roaccutane and finds that as a woman, you’re always seen to be in a state of pre-pregnancy. Kath of Fat Heffalump wrote a beautiful post titled Dear You (snap with Pickled Think!): “All those things that magazines and advertising and TV and music videos etc tell you aren’t good enough about you, that’s bullshit. They are designed to make you feel bad about yourself so that you’ll buy more stuff. They lie to you on purpose. They make lots of money by lying to you.” Fighting words. We both love Emma Thomson and we love this video. “Constantly worrying about your reflection and criticisng your body, shape and size is an act of violence against yourself.”

Feminethicist wonders why the personal products industry seem, in 2011, still so obsessed with being “discreet”, as though menstruation was still something to be ashamed of? Rachel Hills at Musings of an Inappropriate Woman remarks on the continuing use of dead women as a fetishist image in popular culture, videos, advertising – the latest example being the Rivers catalogue; plus a more general discussion of activism and admitting when you’ve fucked up. In which I get hysterical is a discussion of the use the word “hysteria” posted at Octavia’s Spitfire Emporium. As one of her commenters says, “the word ‘hysterical’… feels like psychological slap in the face every time I hear it, and a reminder, as if I ever need one, to shut-the-fuck-up.”

At Hoyden about Town, guest poster Frances of Corpulent announces the All Bodies Directory. “This is a site that will collate health care providers from across Australia and New Zealand who treat all bodies carefully and respectfully. Listings will be organised by state, by regions and by specialisations. I want this to be a really valuable resource for the fat community.” See Corpulent for the background story. From Spilt Milk, Description: A screenshot of some tweets under…, a most excellent rant on how the diet industrial complex has now been rendered powerless and no longer… What? Oh, she’s being sarcastic.

From Coley Tangerina, more Facebook fail – this time with Breast cancer ‘awareness’.

Lauredhel writes about the media obsession (not in a good way) with scooter users. Cars kill more than a thousand pedestrians every year in Australia, not to mention all the deaths of people in cars, so of course the ACCC and media are highlighting the terrible danger of… people with disabilities on scooters.

Stargazer at The Hand Mirror discusses commercial surrogacy: Can we talk about “choice” where there is a huge diferential of wealth, privilege and power? “good quality education is the right of every child, and shouldn’t have to be bought with a pregnancy.”

Race and racism

One of the items in the Knapsack of White Privilege is that you’re not taken as some kind of representative of your race if you do something especially bad or good. Chally’s post On representing ones race is about this privilege. Chally also writes about “speculative fiction where whiteness is either universal or presented as an ideal in comparison to social structures based on the ME”, and brown people are part of a paradigm of wrongness: Some opening thoughts on race in (and as) science fiction dystopia(s). The Antibogan discusses a study by Dr Halim Rane at Griffith University which challenges popular assumptions that Muslims are opposed to integration and reject Western values. In If only those poor people would stop breeding, Deborah of A Bee of a Certain Age analyses the Welfare Working Group in NZ in the context of historical policy-maker attitudes to the poor.

In The best thing a woman can hope for, Chally writes about her uncomfortable feelings about being the “whitest” looking person in the family: “The worst part is that other people think they are less beautiful than I am, feel that they are worth less than I am, have internalised idea that looking as white as possible is the best thing a woman can hope for.”

How to radicalise your population posted at Opinions @ bluebec.com discusses Islamophobia in the US and where it might lead – similarities with Rwanda, Japanese internment? Or there’s an example that’s familiar to many of us, but that’d be a Godwin’s.


Although this is a southern hemisphere carnival, we were all very aware of the atrocity of the Texas gang rape. Blue Milk points to the victim-blaming which appears to be unavoidable even where the victim is eleven years oldYou’re never too young or too overpowered to be the slutty trouble-maker. Fuck Politeness points out that, as usual, public sympathy is focusing on the welfare of the 18(!) men and boys, whose lives are now ruined, ruined! Spilt Milk : “Is it really too much to ask of the media that rape be reported with sensitivity, accuracy, and care?” – Blaming a child for her own rape: it’s just journalism .

Also from Blue Milk, All the way – gray rape and third base, about the tropes of “gray rape / date rape / not rape-rape” which are infesting the MSM at present, especially since the Assange case. In On Rejection and power, Gauche Sinister, who wins the Blog Name award for this Carnival, asks the Nice Guys™ : “If you are too polite to proposition, too precious to be propositioned, too evasive to reject and too insecure to be rejected, how are you negotiating consent?” Tigtog has more discussion of rape myths at Hoyden About Town, with Mythcommunication and defending the indefensible.

The news with nipples has more to say about media reporting of violence against women: Journalism for dummies – the passive voice. She also responds to the self-identified feminists who nevertheless get on board with the victim-blaming.

At Fat Heffalump, Kath writes about the case of the bullied child on YouTube. Too Little Too Late. ” “What I want to know, to ask all of the people who are full of suggestions for Casey, is where were they when Casey was being bullied?” The onus to change behaviour should have been placed on the bullies long before Casey snapped. SD makes a point which I want tattooed on my forehead: “This is a recurring theme in our society, that it is somehow a responsibility to take preventative measures against bullying, rape, and other acts of violence or violation, rather than it being a responsibility to not commit bullying, rape or other acts of violence or violation. Why are the victims being expected to make changes…?” In Bullying sucks posted at Mim’s muddle, Mim points out the limitations of a Facebook anti-bullying meme; again, the onus is on the victim.

From Kate at 16 Impacts of Sexual Assault, 10 Reasons We All Need to Care About Preventing Sexual Violence. This is a specialised blog and this post is rich with links and resources. One for the bookmarks.

History and Society

From Deborah at A Bee of a Certain Age: Friday Feminists- bell hooks on Sojourner Truth – Sojourner Truth’s speech to the second annual convention of the women’s rights movement in Akron, Ohio, in 1852, a story which speaks of the racist roots of the early “social justice” movements.

Jennifer’s Travelling Feminist series at Penguin Unearthed has been wonderful – check out Travelling Feminist: Beguines, Travelling Feminist: Marie de Gourney, and Travelling Feminist: Jeanne de Clisson, Lioness of Brittany (Pirates! Aaaaaaaaargh!!)

Flat 7 (Ana Australiana) dissects urban renewal and privilege among artist / creative social groups . “I would hope, rather, to speak to the possibilities for processes and projects of ‘community-driven’ urban renewal that take even more folks along with them and think even more carefully about who or what that community is…”

The Workplace, in the home and Out

In Mothering and Belonging, Autism & Oughtisms reflects on being a mother of a special needs child. “… I am keenly aware of it and of how people treat me differently depending on which child is with me.”

Blue Milk asks: How do Australians parent differently[than USians? A study has suggested we have more workplace flexibility than parents in the US do.

Gladly, the Cross Eyed Bear presents a depressing insider’s story of institutionalised sexism in the workplace.

Wildly Parenthetical writes about countering sexism, misogyny and harassment in academia. Some male allies – and it’s nice to see them – suggest shunning, refusing to publish or invite to conferences, etc. And using formal complaint mechanisms can be very problematic for the women concerned. “Does justice need to be formal, or is misogyny better tackled outside the (equivalent of the) courtroom?”
Mary at Geek Feminism responds from the viewpoint of her experience in “geek” groups such as open source or fan sites, On feeling less safe.

Language and culture

Australia’s opposition leader appeared at a tea-party style rally in Canberra, which included some breathtakingly misogynist signage like “Ditch the Witch” and “Bob Browns (Leader of Greens) Bitch”. Which prompted Zoe at Crazybrave to write: “I know you think language is important, because you have claimed it is offensive to call someone who disagrees with something a “denier” because that language effectively identifies them as a Nazi sympathiser. So how offensive is it to refer to a woman in public life as a “bitch”?…” Freedom of Speech Does Not Mean Freedom from Criticism: Kath of Fat Heffalump blogs about the phenomenon whereby , when you push back against logic fail or cruelty or sexism or fat hatred or racism or whatever it is you do not like about someone’s utterance, you are accused of denying them freedom of speech? Freedom of Speech, it does not mean what they think it means…

See also: On Being an Argumentative Killjoy.

Anjum at The Hand Mirror, in Language Matters, writes: “language matters, it shapes the culture and environment people live in, it can aid in marginalisation.”

Watching The Hangover, Fuck Politeness feels the full weight of feminist despair.

…And more

Shiny: Deborah shows off her new bike and celebrates the Frocks on Bikes (with baskets) movement, which is fast encroaching on the lycra and road bike paradigm. “[It has] resonance with the early days of cycling, when bicycles were great liberators for women. Cyclng has seemed to me to be dominated by fitness and sports riding in recent years.” She also writes about not appearing on a TV show about journalism and laddishness, in Pick Me!

Stef at A Touch of the Crazy writes about a teenage girl who is fierce and proud, and the pressures she is about to face from the world she is gowing up in. In The women who’ve shaped me, Intermittent Blogger (Tanya) thinks about the women who have been her friends and mentors. And Coley Tangerina writes an absolutely neceessary post about that very vilified and denigrated group of people – youth.

Having a conversation about slut-shaming with your primary schooler: Blue Milk links to an article by Arial Clark, whose 11 year old son comes home from school with a Sports note, half a sandwich and a bucketload of slut-shaming stereotypes.

Donna, who writes about aspie and autism issues, writes about Sensory Hypersensitivities – how to how to “…work out strategies to most productively live alongside our own collection of sensation avoidances, sensation seeking and that to which we are sensation neutral”.

Mindy at Hoyden about Town writes about a beautiful example of male feminist ally-dom, and asks why there aren’t there Like buttons on everything? In Some kind of hopeful love letter to feminist men, Octavia is more cautious about male allies. I’d still put a Like on Bob, though.

Is there an absolute must-read from the southern hemisphere which I’ve missed here? Have at it in comments. But please, no comments like the ones in this Poem for Feministe Commenters posted by Chally at Feministe.

Now it’s over to Tiara The Merch Girl for Carnival number 36. You can start submitting posts for next months DUFC now!

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