Welcome to the 101st Down Under Feminists’ Carnival

Welcome to the 101st Down Under Feminists’ Carnival.  My apologies for it being late, I was trapped behind two epic assignments that I had to complete for uni.  They are now done, and I am free for the remainder of the year.  Woohoo!

Below is a collection of feminist writing from Australia and New Zealand, written in September.  If you want to host a Down Under Feminist Carnival, you can go here and let Chally know.  It’s not a lot of work, many people will send you blog posts to include, and it’s lots of fun.

On with the show!


Liz wrote at No Award, “The invisible women“:

It’s one of those frustrating reads because Liz went in wanting to agree with everything it said, and wound up picking it all apart. Three over-long Facebook comments later, Liz remembered we have a blog.

Anna at Hoyden About Town wrote, “BFTP Friday Hoyden: Emma Goldman“:

At a time when the Australian government is doing its best to behave like a blend of Dickensian villains and French aristocrats, without the compensatory good taste in cravats of either [ed to note: this observation does not require updating], we are more than due for a genuine revolutionary for a Friday Hoyden. Emma Goldman was a Russian (or technically Russian Empire, from an area now in Lithuania) Jewish immigrant to the USA, who spent her life being persecuted for her work campaigning for the rights of workers and marginalised groups of all kinds.

Cesca at myflatpacklife wrote, “Stuck in the middle“:

I have turned into Mummy Pig.


Mummy Pig just wants wholesome family fun. She just wants some fruit. And five minutes to pick berries without having to stop and admire a four year old’s basically empty bucket, or be yelled at. She just wants jam and maybe a crumble or two. Why does she have to be judged for her food choices? Why does she have to have her dignity stripped away by a blackberry bush – let’s all come laugh at the fat pig stuck in the prickly thorns! Why does she have to involve the whole family and share when all she wants is a fucking dessert? It’s not all about you Peppa!

Celeste at Rantings of an Aboriginal Feminist writes, “The Politics of Miscarriage“:

Which brings me back to miscarriage. As stated, in the moment, I felt relief. I didn’t tell work at the time because I was on leave, but as the rest of my saga became apparent, I was left with no choice but to tell them. I required post-operative sick leave after all. Perhaps I felt relief due to my circumstances, but considering that these circumstances were in the confines of a heterosexual relationship, and considering that this relationship had gone the way whereby I ended up a victim of violence, how is this narrative not valid in the discussion of miscarriage?

Daisy Dumas and Anna Maxted at Essential Baby write, “Why working women keep quiet about miscarriage“:

“Nobody understands it unless they have had one. It is impossible to compute unless you have been through it, just like any grief,” she says.

She is one of a low estimate of about 150,000 Australian women who miscarry each year – the vast majority of whom keep their anguish to themselves and, if working, continue as usual through the ordeal.

Olive Brown wrote at The Wireless, “Please, call me wahine“:

I remember learning about Suffrage Day at school, but I don’t remember ever seeing or hearing about wāhine Māori in the narratives and representations I was taught. Wāhine Māori were very much part of the suffrage movement.  In May 1893, Meri Te Tai Mangakāhia, addressed the lower house of the Te Kotahitanga Parliament (Māori Parliament) – being the first recorded woman to do so – she not only requested wāhine Māori be given the vote, but went further than the contemporary aim of the European suffrage movement, and asked they also be able to sit in the Māori parliament. She was one of other influential wāhine also part of the suffrage movement.

Jessica Tuhua guest posts at Sacraparental, “Nine-year-old Jessica tells us about feminism“:

I wrote about feminism because not many people at my school know anything about it, and I wanted to use the opportunity to speak about something important. It was very difficult to write about, so I re-wrote my speech six times! 

Cristy Clark wrote at Overland, “Dissenting feminisms: reflections on the Feminist Writers Festival“:

In the lead up to the event, we were accused of programming predominantly white women rather than women from a diverse range of backgrounds. In fact, over 40 per cent of our speakers were women of colour, and of the remaining women, a majority were able to speak from a diverse range of perspectives, such as identifying as LGBTQI women, or as women with a disability – but we could still have done better in this regard.

Andie Fox at ABC Radio National (audio segment) with, “In Defence of Sexting“.

Reviews of things

Liz at No Award wrote, “Liz reads: 4 Australian novels“:

How amazing is fiction? People just MAKE UP STORIES, which I then buy and read and insert these ideas from other people’s heads into my brain!

Body political

Fat Heffalump wrote, “Melbourne Fashion Week Plus – The Political“:

I had a lot of really intense feelings about being invited as a special guest to MFW+, mostly for two pivotal reasons.  Firstly because I’m not a fashion blogger in any stretch of the imagination – I love clothes, and expressing myself through the way I dress.  I love colour and texture and shape and I love the way putting an outfit on can make me feel.  But my focus as a fat activist is changing the way that fat people are both perceived and treated.  Don’t get me wrong, I believe clothing and fashion are important in fat politics – after all, access to suitable clothing is important to be part of society and because fashion and clothing can be really empowering, especially to those of us who have been denied access.  But to be invited and supported by MWF+ as an activist to be part of the event, knowing that they wanted my very political, feminist, fat active perspective to be included in the event means a lot to me.

Tangerina writes, “Bodies, food and fitness in the workplace“:

When you have an open conversation about being worried you’ll put on weight if you have another piece of that brownie, you probably don’t stop to think how that affects the people in the office who weigh more than you. That the subtext of what you’re saying is I’m afraid my body will look more like yours. And that although most of you would be horrified to think you’re hurting people by making idle small-talk, you are making your workplace less safe for fat people, people with (or recovering from) eating disorders and people with different abilities and health needs than you. And that’s not okay.


Chrys at Gladly the Crossed Eyed Bear wrote, “The Race to Irrelevancy – Shelton’s Australian Christian Lobby“:

Despite the millions of dollars the Australian Christian Lobby has ploughed into demonising the LGBTIQ community, it has decisively lost the battle for Australian hearts and minds. As the debate has progressed, the Australian public has moved inexorably towards treating their fellow citizens as equal human beings. The fear-mongering fanaticism of Lyle Shelton’s fundamentalist lobby group (which wants the government to spend $200 million to amplify its message of homophobic hatred) has failed to gain traction.

Rebecca Shaw writes at SBS, “For f*ck’s sake, stop treating the LGBTQI community like a political football“:

Wow, what a roller coaster we’ve all been on in the past little while. A roller coaster where you have to be ‘this LGBTQI’ to ride. A roller coaster called The Marriage Equality Debate that is mostly unpleasant and throws you around and makes you wonder if you will even survive. Even if you don’t want to be riding the roller coaster, even if you couldn’t give a shit about it, you are pretty much forced to ride it just by virtue of living your life in this country.

Rebecca Shaw continues with her ranty pants at SBS, “Straight people need to stop telling us how to feel about the plebiscite“:

Lots of things have made me angry about this whole plebiscite situation. There’s the homophobic arguments we have to hear, the fact our government won’t simply legalise equal marriage even though the mechanism is available and it is what a majority of the country wants, the fact that it is even an option that the rights of a minority might be literally put to a vote, and of course the fact that McFlurrys at McDonalds are no longer flurried, only stirred.

I wrote, “Being out makes a difference“:

Being an out bisexual is so a part of my life, I forget that it helps other people.  Two people, one a friend of a friend, and one a business associate, have commented positively on the article, one talked to me about bisexuality and the invisibility she feels because she is married to a man, as well as how she feels unwelcome in LGBTI spaces because she is bisexual and married to a man.  The other thanked me for the work I do (outside my paid work), saying that this was so important, and made such a big difference to people.

I also wrote, “A weekend of erasure”:

The main stream media (MSM) is not very good at discussing bisexuality.  They tend towards the old myth of “straight, gay or lying”, which means that for the most part people who don’t identify as straight, gay or lesbian, tend to end up with one of those labels anyway, because bisexuality isn’t an option, despite it being right there in the middle of the acronym for the community of non-straight and/or non-gender conforming people – LGBTI.


Emily writes at Mama Said, “Four“:

“Even if the boy is four does he keep his mama?”


“Even if the boy is..” he struggled to free his fingers to hold up six or maybe eight – finally ten. “…this many?”

“Yes. Go to sleep”

Emily writes at Mama Said, “Goodbye, old friend“:

When I felt lost and hopeless trying to find my place in the world he was my companion. I felt as if I always had this funny little friend who would accept me.

At Tea and Oranges, “Transitioning to parenthood“:

And parents too, we’re all experiencing a lot of the same stuff! Snapping at our partners about little things, etc. Feeling torn between wanting to connect with the kids and wanting space away from them. I thought it would be handy to have one of those guides for us. Based on zero research because when would I get time to do that, just my reckons, so please add in the comments if you’ve got thoughts. These are all things that I’ve experienced at one stage or another, and all things that I feel much much more strongly when I’m at home fulltime.

Race, racism, representation

Nadia at Mixed Nuts writes, “Border Dwellers and Forked Tongues“:

Anzaldúa speaks of how being multilingual in a monolingual, monocultural, straight white world means that those of us who are aware of our multiplicity – the minoritised, the disenfranchised, the exoticised – are required to perform daily acts of mutilation on ourselves to simply exist. She talks of the silences that this forces upon us. She talks of the toll that twisting and silencing herself has taken on her spirit, on her humanity. And she resists.

Yassmin Abdel-Magied at Medium writes, “I walked out of the Brisbane Writers Festival Keynote Address. This is why.“:

There is a fascinating philosophical argument here. Instead, however, that core question was used as a straw man. Shriver’s real targets were cultural appropriation, identity politics and political correctness. It was a monologue about the right to exploit the stories of “others”, simply because it is useful for one’s story.

Yen-Rong at Inexorablist wrote, “Dangerous Ideas”:

She took aim at those criticising a white, British writer for penning a novel from the perspective of a young Nigerian girl. She poked fun at those who ask that others not speak or write on their behalf. She defended the right for writers to offend. She blatantly rejected the notion of identity. And she did so under the guise of expressing dangerous ideas.

Karen Wyld writes, “Media Decolonised“:

Similar to other colonised nations, Australian media is white. And, let’s not mince words, it shamelessly displays ignorance, cultural bias and racism. I don’t see this changing anytime soon. Not when there’s support for such outdated views – and a profit to be made.

Dr Sophie Loy-Wilson writes at the ABC, “Search for Daisy Kwok uncovers Shanghai’s lost history of Chinese-Australians“:

If the White Australia Policy has an afterlife, I came face-to-face with it in 1996. Flicking through Tess Johnston’s book, A Last Look: Western Architecture in Old Shanghai, I saw an image of Daisy Kwok outside her family’s now decrepit mansion in the Jingnan district of Shanghai.

Trinity at Fruit From The Vine writes, “10 things I wish my friends knew about being Māori“:

Please pause on this one. Ngai Māori, like a lot of indigenous cultures, have had our land, language and culture all stripped ruthlessly close to the bone. You may say, ‘Yeah yeah, stop playing the victim card, I know all this’, but the truth is, you don’t. If you’re not Māori, you may know the words, but you haven’t walked every step of your existence with this reality hanging over your identity. More likely to be words forming a sentence of a past-time with no personal connection to you, this is for Māori, our life, our pain, and the culmination of all our suffering summed up within a sentence.

Omar Sakr writes at The Vocal, “We Need To Talk About Lionel Shriver“:

The question is not, for example, can a white person write an indigenous person’s story? The question is, should a white person publish a story from an indigenous person’s perspective in a country that is still invested in killing and displacing indigenous people, in a country still overwhelmingly producing white stories in film, literature, and TV? Is it ethical for a white person to use their access, to profit from a story using experiences not their own, but which the market is hungry for because homogeneity is mind-numbingly boring but not boring enough to disrupt the inherent biases built into our society?


Stephanie at No Award writes, “steph speaks singlish“:

Steph is in Singapore and using Singlish like a pro! (It’s easy, cos it’s like Manglish only a bit more different) Because most of our readers are Aussies, and if there’s one thing Aussies love it’s slang, she’s compiled a list of important words she knows/has been learning to use in Singapore.

Nadia at Mixed Nuts writes, “Diverse Women Writers“:

Some of this was discussed during the open forum, when the audience was asked to comment on the day’s proceedings and make suggestions for improvements. Overall there seemed to be a feeling that events like this one were useful because of how isolating it often is to be the only non-white, nonbinary, non-male, non-straight person in the room. To be with a cohort with whom we could share multiple intersecting parts of our identities was a relief. There was a discussion of the use of the word ‘women’ when what was meant was more broadly ‘not men’, and the possibility of using ‘women and nonbinary’ as an identifier was floated, which several of the people I spoke to seemed to think would work.

Monica Dux at The Age wrote, “Families that stay together sometimes shouldn’t“:

Writing about the term “community”, the celebrated sociologist Zygmunt Bauman observed that, while most words have meaning, some also have a “feel”. According to Bauman, “community” is such a word. It gives us a warm, fuzzy feeling. And the word “family” is very similar.


Jane Caro at The Big Smoke wrote, “John Howard’s comments: lack of foresight, lack of understanding“:

A few days ago at the National Press Club, ex-Australian PM, John Howard, claimed that it was just the “truth” that women would never achieve 50% representation in our parliaments (or anywhere else, I imagine) because of their caring roles. Well, Mr Howard, there is one area where women are rapidly approaching 50% representation and that is among the ranks of the homeless. It is estimated by those who work in the sector that 44% of the homeless are women. The fastest growing group without a roof over their head, in fact, are women over 55.

Chally wrote at Zero At The Bone, “Telling truth, but not the reality“:

Telling half the story has inevitably led to confusion and a split response. Responses to this comment seem to be split between “good on him for telling the truth” and “he’s had his day”. There are of course also the people who seem to think that Mr Howard was saying that women belong in the home and agree with him that that’s a good thing – which he probably meant on some level, given how concerned he was about people thinking he said a terrible thing, but didn’t say.

Jane Gilmore writes at The Feed, SBS, “Comment: Hanson’s policies on family law equally dangerous“:

Phil Coorey reported in July this year that the Nationals are considering giving support to some of the One Nation policies in an attempt to prevent rural votes leaking down to Hanson. He quoted one Nationals MP as saying family law was something the Nationals need to “treat seriously”.

If you believe the Nationals think treating family law seriously means added protection for abused children and women, please get in touch so I can tell you about this wonderful bridge I have for sale.

Violence in all its forms (Trigger warnings for most of these posts)

Clementine Ford wrote at Daily Life, “Rape culture is caring more about protecting an offender’s future than his victim’s“.

Sam Conner at Gimpled writes, “We’re Not Funded To Do That“.

Related Posts:

A weekend of erasure

Trigger warning for biphobia and bi erasure

The main stream media (MSM) is not very good at discussing bisexuality.  They tend towards the old myth of “straight, gay or lying”, which means that for the most part people who don’t identify as straight, gay or lesbian, tend to end up with one of those labels anyway, because bisexuality isn’t an option, despite it being right there in the middle of the acronym for the community of non-straight and/or non-gender conforming people – LGBTI.

So it started with a garbage fire of an article published by The Telegraph.  It’s a UK paper, I really don’t know how it rates generally, but this article was awful.  The article was titled: ‘I felt like I was falling’: the moment I found out my husband was leading a double life. He was gay 

Let’s take the first moment of epic fail in this article, by the author Camilla Smith:

My husband Peter was away for work when I found the postcard of Manly Beach, in Australia. Sent from an unfamiliar friend, there was a comment about watching men sunbathing, and how Peter would enjoy the view.

After 10 years together, seven of marriage, it was instantly clear that Peter was gay.

“Instantly clear” that despite what I assume were 10 years of mostly happy relationship, one where they were together for such a long time, that Peter is gay.  Not bisexual.  In fact, in this entire article, Smith is of the opinion that bisexual men do not exist.  She goes to great lengths to pain Peter a philandering gay man using her as a “beard”.

So Smith continues:

I had a cup of tea, walked the dog, and when Peter came home, I told him what I had found.

He didn’t break down. He didn’t try to deny the friend or that he had a sexual interest in men. He didn’t, however, agree he was gay.

I think, for the age group of men like Peter and Keith Vaz, the image of a gay man is different to what you see now. If you grew up in the 70s, being gay meant Larry Grayson and John Inman, camp-as-a-row-of-tents clichés. They must have looked at these images and thought, that’s not me.

It was such a narrow view of homosexuality. Now you have rugby players, CEOs and soldiers who are out, but not then.

And yet Smith has no clue about bisexuality.  For her, if a man is attracted to men, he cannot be attracted to women.  Smith’s view of the spectrum of human sexuality is so incredibly narrow, that she could not even conceive that her husband, the man she’s spent 10 years in a relationship with, could be bisexual.

I don’t think he wanted to come out because I don’t think he wanted to be gay. Somehow, for him, it was preferable to be bisexual.

Probably because he’s actually bisexual.  It’s this erasure that harms bisexual people so much.  Not just Peter who is in the midst of being erased by his wife, but every other bisexual who reads this awful story and feels that they can’t be bisexual because we’re not real, that they have to deny who they are because the only options are straight or gay.  This erasure leads to the incredibly high rate of domestic violence against bisexual people, as well as higher rates of suicide and drug abuse than gay and lesbian people.

I was happy to believe him. We had a good life, a nice home. I wanted to save our marriage. We went to counselling. We made love.

But every so often I’d have a snoop. And I’d find a ticket to a gay club, or find a receipt for a gay sex toy.

She wanted to believe him, but clearly didn’t trust him.  I don’t actually quite understand what Smith believed.  Clearly her husband was (and presumably still is) attracted to women as well as men.  You know, the definition of bisexuality is attraction to more than one gender, so Peter is doing a great job of that.

Smith’s lack of trust is incredibly grating.  She clearly isn’t interested in communicating honestly with Peter, talking to him about establishing boundaries that make her feel safe, talking about what he does.  No, instead she’s “snooping” through his stuff.  Finding a ticket to a gay club, which might just be where he was hanging out with his non-straight friends, or finding receipts for “gay sex toys”.  I have no idea what gay sex toys actually are.  I assume Smith found receipts for buttplugs or other anal play toys – and if he’s using them himself for his own pleasure, I don’t actually understand what her problem is.

I’m trying to put a time line together of this whole relationship mess, and Smith is not very helpful with that… but anyway

I do feel he stole my adult life away. He could have told me before we got married that he felt he was bisexual and wanted an open marriage. He could have told me when I found the postcard that he was gay and given me the chance to start again. He could have told me that like many men – gay or straight – he didn’t want to be monogamous.

Ok… no one steals your life.  Smith gave her time and energy to this relationship and apart from the time at the end when she was an untrusting, biphobic jerk, she seemed to be happy.  Probably apart from the IVF bit, no one likes that.

Maybe, and Smith doesn’t consider this, Peter didn’t know that he was bisexual when they married each other.  Not everyone realises when they hit sexual maturity that they aren’t the societally expected heterosexual.  People do come out late in life.  Also, nowhere in this whole article does Smith say that Peter actually admitted that he cheated on her.  She believes that he has, and I’m sure she would have included it if that conversation occurred and he’d put his hand up and said yes.  So perhaps Peter, and since we don’t know I can’t say for certain, was entirely monogamous with Smith, and apart from hanging out with LGBTI people (not actually a crime) did everything well.

Also, stop with calling this bisexual man gay.  Peter has said repeatedly that he’s not gay, and Smith’s erasure of that is so wrong.

And apart from the Telegraph actually publishing this awful bit of writing, it’s the bit at the end which adds to the harm:

Straight partners of gay, lesbian and transgender people can find confidential support…

That’s ok, bisexual people are definitely a figment of your imagination. I haven’t provided the link to the email address that appears at the bottom of the article, I am not convinced that providing it would actually be a wise move.

Ok, so that was the first of my rants.  The second article which I noticed pretty much erased bisexuals and called bisexual women lesbians was published by The Guardian, “‘Love is always complicated’: Elizabeth Gilbert and the rise of later-in-life lesbians”.

I want to be completely clear here that I accept that there are women who come out later in life as lesbians, and for their own completely valid reasons did not come out earlier.  I also want to state that I accept that people have the right to label themselves.

The last point I just made has the following thoughts from me though.  If bisexuality wasn’t so incredibly stigmatised as an identity, would more people who are attracted to more than one gender use the label?  There are plenty of other labels under the bisexual umbrella (as several of us call it) that are used such as fluid, pansexual, polysexual, etc.  I think that those who identify with any label that suggests that they are non-monosexual is likely to face the same stigma that bisexuals face.

Later-in-life lesbians – women who identify as lesbians or declare same-sex feelings in their 30s, often after serious relationships, marriage and children – have come more into the public consciousness in recent years, with a string of high-profile women publicly leaving heterosexual relationships for female partners.

“Or declare same-sex feelings”… so those who aren’t identifying as lesbians, and are probably bisexual.  The word bisexual does not appear once in this article.  Not once.  It’s so thoroughly erased that this article pretty much states that if a woman comes out as attracted to other women, she can only be identified as a lesbian.

This is despite the following lovely quote from Susie Orbach:

Susie Orbach, who spent more than 30 years with the writer Joseph Schwartz, and had two children with him, before marrying novelist Jeanette Winterson, writes in the Guardian on Friday: “We are finally beginning to recognise that sexuality is neither a binary nor fixed. That love, attraction, identity, attachment and sexuality are more layered and interesting than they have been allowed to be represented in the public space until now and that as their complexity is opened up to us, the crudity of realising you were always gay or always straight is for many people a nonsense.”

And instead of asking why women don’t want to be labelled despite the fact that it would appear that they are bisexual, and instead of examining how non-lesbian women in same-sex relationships find community and operate in a world where they are being mislabelled, we get:

Jan Gooding, chair of Stonewall and group brand director with insurers Aviva, said that women who shift sexuality later in life are often keen not to be labelled in any way – like Gilbert, who does not explicitly refer to herself as a lesbian in her post but rather declares that she loves another woman.

Gooding speaks from experience: she had been married for 16 years “to a very wonderful man” and had two sons when she fell in love with another woman, but said she feels very protective of her husband and children and previous relationship. “People find it difficult to believe that I could fall in love with a woman out of the blue,” she said. “But it does happen, people haven’t necessarily been holding out until middle age. This idea that everybody knows deep down does a great disservice to individual journeys.”

I would love for more people to seize the identity bisexual, to be like Peter and stay firm, insisting that they are bisexual, not gay, not straight.  To state that there is nothing wrong with being bisexual, and that bisexuality is just another sexual orientation along the spectrum that is human sexuality.  This is why I am out.  This is why I am visible.  I want people to know that they can be bisexual and happy, that they can be in relationships with bisexual people and be happy, and that finding community and belonging are important and healthy things to do.

One day the MSM will get it right, and I’ll keep ranting until they do.

Related Posts:

Being out makes a difference

I forget how much of a difference being out makes to other people.  I’ve been an out bisexual since at least 2006, and I forget what difference that makes to other non straight, non gay and non lesbian people.

A couple of weeks ago, I appeared in The Age (nice photo and everything) talking about bisexuality, to support a friend and fellow activist’s book on bisexuality.  The interview was easy, apart from it being at 9:30am on a Sunday, and the photographer who came around to take photos of me and James was also lovely, the whole thing was great.

My colleagues, who I had told I was being photographed, were very supportive of the story, messaging me as soon as they saw it, congratulating me on being in the paper.  Old colleagues from a previous job, who I am also out to, got in contact to tell me that they had found the article and loved it.  In all of this, I forgot that this story makes a difference to people.

Being an out bisexual is so a part of my life, I forget that it helps other people.  Two people, one a friend of a friend, and one a business associate, have commented positively on the article, one talked to me about bisexuality and the invisibility she feels because she is married to a man, as well as how she feels unwelcome in LGBTI spaces because she is bisexual and married to a man.  The other thanked me for the work I do (outside my paid work), saying that this was so important, and made such a big difference to people.

When I agreed to be interviewed I thought about the impact this probably wouldn’t have on my life – given I’m very out.  I didn’t think about the impact that it would have on other bisexual people, or those who fit under the bisexual umbrella.  I’m glad it’s made a difference, and I recognise I need to spend more time thinking on how to use my power (of being an out bisexual) for good to bring community to those who don’t know where to find it.

If you are in Victoria, Australia there is a Bisexual community.  You can be a part of called Bi-Alliance Victoria.  If you are in other parts of Australia, please feel free to follow us on Twitter, join our email lists or like our Facebook page. (I’m not on Facebook, I have no idea what you’re supposed to do in FB land)  If you’re visiting Melbourne, and you’re here when we have a discussion group, come along.  Always great to meet people and build community.

Related Posts:

Welcome to the 98th Down Under Feminist Carnival

Wow, 98 carnivals.  That’s so many.  It’s been a very busy month with the lead up to the Australian election, Men in football being arsehats, the mass shooting in Orlando at an LGBT night club, Brexit, the rise of hate crimes in the UK, and conservative politicians being arsehats (still).  I have finally had a month off from studying and have been catching up on playing computer games and cooking, not so much on catching up on blogging because I am a tiny bit sick of writing.  Though I have lots of blog pieces in my head anyway.

Anyway, if you want to host a future carnival, then go to the Down Under Feminist Carnival site and let Chally know.  It’s not very hard, lovely people like Chally, Mary, myself, Scarlett and others will fill your inbox with excellent posts from feminists in Australia and New Zealand.

On with the carnival!


The fantastic cartoonist, Judy Horacek devoted her topic of the month for July to Feminism (posted at the end of June, so eligible for this carnival (just)).

Blue Milk writes, “Tickets for the Feminist Writers’ Festival are on sale now

Terri Psiakis writes at ABC The Drum, “So you suffer from ‘gender fatigue’? Get well soon“:

Now, don’t get me wrong: I’m not numb-nutting the source of the research. I’m numb-nutting the idea that to achieve workplace gender diversity we need more CEOs with daughters. As if they need the existence of their own female offspring to finally understand the merit in the idea of gender equity at work.

Sure. Don’t champion workplace change because it’s necessary and long overdue. Champion it because you happen to have a girl at home.

Reproductive Justice

Kate Galloway writes at KatGallow, “A mother’s sacrifice: more than an incubator“:

Let’s take this argument to its logical conclusion: any woman of child-bearing age who becomes brain dead must be kept alive until a pregnancy test shows she is not pregnant. If she is pregnant, she must be kept alive until the baby is born. I realise that this is an exaggeration – but if we argue that the Portuguese case is justified because ‘any woman would want her baby to survive’ then where do we draw a line? If the woman is nine months pregnant? Eight? Four? One? How do we decide which foetuses are retained to delivery and which are not? Would we keep the woman on life support even as her body is decaying? What might cause us to change the decision to keep her alive?

Petra Bueskens wrote at New Matilda, “Gaye Demanuele And The Politics Of Homebirth“:

The second big watershed moment for the reduction of access to homebirth was in 2009 when key legislative change, masquerading as reform, changed the registration and regulation process for midwives. New provisions contained in the Health Legislation Amendment (Midwives and Nurse Practitioners) Bill 2009 stipulated that privately practicing midwives had to have a “collaborative arrangement” in place with a doctor, usually an obstetrician, before being eligible for Medicare rebates.

As Maternity Coalition wrote in their response to the new regulations, this gave doctors “veto powers over midwives and birth choices”. It created a system of parallel regulation whereby midwives couldn’t practice without a doctor willing to sanction and support their practice; something that has proven very difficult in practice for homebirth midwives in particular.

Suzanne Dyson writes at The Conversation, “Good sex ed doesn’t lead to teen pregnancy, it prevents it“:

Opponents of school-based sex ed argue that educating young people about sex and relationships can lead to promiscuity, teenage pregnancy, increased rates of STIs and can even influence sexual and gender orientation. But this isn’t supported by the research.

Catherine Chamberlain, Rhonda Marriott and Sandy Campbell wrote at The Conversation, “Why we need to support Aboriginal women’s choice to give birth on country“:

Not all Aboriginal women have access to high-quality, culturally competent maternity care. An audit in Western Australia, for instance, found 75% of services failed to provide maternity care sensitive to Aboriginal culture.


Kate Galloway writes at KatGallow, “Say no to sexist language in public discourse“:

With respect, whatever Mr Entsch’s views, the LNP’s views, or the voter views of negative gearing and small time investors, it is not OK to use the language and imagery of witches about women. The implication of the image of the witch, deliberately positioned adjacent to Ms Howes’ campaign corflutes, is to invoke the comparison.

Fleur Fitzsimmons submitted a guest post to me, “Guest Post: Equal pay a step closer“:

Equal pay for women-dominated occupations is a step closer with the high-powered group led by the next Governor-General Dame Patsy Reddy and including  Phil O’Reilly, unions and Government Negotiators, tasked with developing equal pay principles under the Equal Pay Act 1972 reporting agreed principles and an agreed process to implement equal pay to the Government.  The group has developed and agreed comprehensive principles for the implementation of equal pay in female-dominated work in New Zealand. The agreed principles are here.

Eva Cox writes at The Conversation, “The f-word enters the campaign and trips up both major parties“:

Bill Shorten unintentionally fired the feminism debate by saying the changes were targeted at women, both as the major users and household organisers of childcare. Nationals deputy Fiona Nash and Today show host Lisa Wilkinson branded this statement “prehistoric”, so Shorten then had to defend his stance by saying men rely on women to handle childcare arrangements..

Celeste Liddle writes at Daily Life, “Federal election 2016: The indigenous women giving me cause to hope“:

Yet despite this, there is one silver lining. This election a record number of Indigenous candidates are standing and of these 13 people, eight are women. Should six of these candidates be successful in getting elected, Australia will hit population parity rates in Parliament for Indigenous people for the first time ever. Considering that it took until just last election for the first Aboriginal woman ever to enter Parliament, eight Aboriginal women contesting seats this election is a welcome advance. Aboriginal men’s voices have often been preferenced by the mainstream over the voices of Aboriginal women due to the patriarchy, and this dynamic looks set to be challenged in Parliament House.


Cha wrote at Shallow Depths (about Stardew Valley, a computer game), “Mundus Vult Decipiti“:

Visiting my hapless future husband became part of my daily routine. Which is completely normal, well-adjusted behaviour and not like stalking at all. Except it involved getting to know someone’s schedule, hanging around outside their house and just happening to show up wherever they went. So, exactly like stalking actually.

Emily wrote at Mama Said, “It has been a day” and she also wrote, “The world is big“:

I want to pledge now that I will parent knowing my child is going into this big world and he will have choices – choices to harm and hurt or to walk gently and powerfully with hope in his heart and love for others. I will parent knowing he is going into a world with your children too, that they need love and protection and respect – they need to be kept safe as I hope my son will be kept safe too.


Stephanie at No Award wrote, “totally respected in our very respectful code“:

The thing about the misogyny entrenched in our code, of course, is the way it normalises violence against women. Football is a space where we’re told with words that we’re welcome, but we’re also confronted with evidence that we’re not. And the same evidence tells men that anyone who isn’t a man is unwelcome.

Erin Riley writes at The Guardian, “This is what happens when you call out sexism in Australia“:

This is what usually happens when you call out sexism in sport: nobody pays any attention at all.

We’re used to sporting codes being sexist: used to paltry pay packets for female athletes, used to their bodies being objectified, used to sports administrations being dominated by men. Pointing out egregious examples of the worst of sport’s sexism only sometimes raises an eyebrow.

Osman Faruqi wrote at Junkee, “How An Independent Journalist Brought Eddie McGuire’s Sexist Comments To Account“:

Despite making the comments on Triple M last Monday, the McGuire story wasn’t reported by mainstream media outlets late yesterday. Riley, a freelance sports writer, transcribed the comments over the weekend and pushed the story out onto social media where it was eventually picked up by news outlets across the country.

Rebecca Shaw writes at Kill Your Darlings, “Age Gap: Where are the middle-aged women on screens?“:

Try to imagine the most haggard and decrepit old actress you can think of. Who comes to mind? That’s right, it’s Olivia Wilde. The almost-objectively stunning Wilde recently revealed that she had been rejected for a role playing Leonardo DiCaprio’s wife in the The Wolf of Wall Street because she was too old. At the time, she was 28 and Leo was 37. The part ended up going to Australian actress Margot Robbie, who was 21 at the time. The role in question involved portraying a real-life woman, who was 29 during the time the movie was set.


Anna at Flaming Moth/Orlando Creature writes, “The Shrew Lands“:

Having thought about The Taming of the Shrew as long and as intimately as I have my conclusion, for what it’s worth, is that there is no way to make it both a romantic comedy and at the same time not wildly offensive. But (and this is crucial) I have come to believe that this would have been so even when it was first penned, and that its primary driving force is to produce in the audience member the confusion of feeling something to be right and simultaneously feeling it to be wrong. We want Kate and Petruchio to get together and have a great relationship and a great future together, but the framework within which we see it happen is horrible. And I don’t for a moment believe that this is because Shakespeare wanted us to think long and hard about the way our society treats women. I think he merely wanted to make sure his audience left this show compelled to talk about what they had just seen. That was how one made money in the theatre.

Scarlett Harris reviews the most recent series of Orange is the New Black for Junkee.  It’s full of spoilers, just so you know.

Scarlette Harris also writes at SBS, “It’s time for WWE to pay more than lip service to the Women’s Championship“:

It’s been just over two months since World Wrestling Entertainment ushered in a “new era”, calling their female talent Superstars (which the guys had been branded as for decades) instead of Divas and retired the Divas Championship in favour of a brand-spanking new Women’s Championship.

Since then, though, women have continued to get dismal airtime across WWE’s two main shows, three-hour Raw and two-hour SmackDown!.

Stephanie at No Award writes, “No Award watches stuff: Cleverman“:

It’s so clear what’s happening in Cleverman – the Zone is literally within Redfern; it’s not subtle, and we LOVE IT. It’s a message about missions and exclusion and the Stolen Generation, wrapped up in an analogy.

Avril E Jean reviewed some books at, Avril E Jean; Art and Analysis, “Gender bias in books I’ve just read in this week

Race and Racism

Celeste Liddle writes at Rantings of an Aboriginal Feminist, “The neutralising of hate“:

It reminded me of when I saw news reports following Coburg referring to the leftist groups as “extreme anti-racism groups”. See, apparently now, being anti-racist is an extremist action. The problem here being that it actually is. Anti-racism; thanks to centuries of denying colonial invasion, decades of the White Australia Policy, years of Hansonism and Howardism, Cronulla, Islamophobia (even though the Muslim connection to this land mass predates white invasion by up to an estimated 200 years) and bipartisan practice of despicable asylum seeker policy; is considered a radical act. Racism is so very embedded in the fabric of our society and apathy towards it right now is so high that to take an active stance against it is considered terrifying by many.

Bodies and body image

Coley Tangerina writes, “A fat bird“:

“You’re a little bird!” I laugh.

He laughs back. “You’re a fat bird!”

Immediately his smile disappears, uncomfortable with regret.

Kath wrote Fat Heffalump, “Is Radical Fat Activism Dead?“:

Don’t get me wrong, I understand why she, and so many others have decided to give up blogging – I have a lot of the same feelings myself and it makes it really hard to keep blogging the way I used to.  But understanding why doesn’t mean I’m any less sad that so many amazing, bold, innovative fat activists and/or bloggers are deciding to pack it in.

Kath also wrote at Fath Heffalump, “Marketing to Fat Women – This Is How You Do It“:

I mean what can I say?  It’s wonderful!  Including actual fat women, including fat women of colour.  Doing kick-arse stuff.  With nary a word about “health”.  No “plus-size” models that wouldn’t actually wear the plus-size range.  No faux-bo-po slogan accompanied by a bunch of tall, hourglass, white women.  Fat women actually speaking about themselves and their own experiences.  Fat women showing that you can have an amazing life, exactly as you are.

QUILTBAG+ (some of these posts carry trigger warnings for queerphobia and violence)

A little red pen at Little Red Jottings writes, “Orlando, Orlando“:

I’ve been in a relationship with a man since then, so it all feels a bit academic or something now, something I don’t really have the lived experience to claim. It’s easier in this world to play the straight card, to fit in and keep quiet. Quiet when activist, feminist friends edge towards transphobia, quiet when conservative relatives, colleagues, random strangers make bad jokes, quiet when my interests are assumed to be political and not also personal.

Elizabeth Duck-Chong writes at Daily Life, “Why it’s time for parents to re-think declaring their children’s gender“:

There is a pervasive narrative that transgender people are “born as 𝑥”, but in reality, from my first coming out I was starting a process of undoing a lifetime of perceived maleness. My ever having “been a boy” was as foreign as a non-native tongue; my many hours repeating tenses in middle school French would have just as well been spent repeating a mantra of maleness – that is, neither stuck.

But now in adulthood these same friends who understand my womanhood doesn’t originate vaginally, these transgender allies, see the bodies of their children and continue to draw conclusions in pastel pinks and blues.

Jo at A Life Unexamined wrote, “The strange state of being neither in, nor out“:

And so I’ve found myself in this in-between space, where I don’t actually know whether I’m properly out or not. I don’t know whether people have just accepted all the hints and indications and run with it, and that everything is perfectly fine. I don’t know whether they just haven’t picked up on it. I don’t know whether I’m just seen as an active ally, or as queer myself. I don’t know who actually knows a lot more than they let on – like in the one case, where I found out that three of the people in my queer project group had actually found my blog and knew I was ace even before I had made any comments about it whatsoever. (Two of them then asked me out for coffee to talk about it. In a way, I much prefer that super-direct approach to all this uncertainty.)

Dr Inger Mewburn writes at The Thesis Whispherer, “If you blog, will you lose your job?“:

Whatever you think of Ms Ward’s politics, you would have to agree that she has the right to have her Marxist opinions. She also has the presumed right to post on a closed Facebook account in peace. A ‘friend’ leaking what she said about the Australian flag to the mainstream media is something she probably didn’t expect to happen and hearing about it sends a chill down my spine.

Elizabeth Sunderland writes at New Matilda, “Bigotry In The Name Of God: The Case Against Religious Exemptions“:

Shorten assured Christian leaders that if the ALP come to power in July, he will not be seeking to roll back the exemptions to anti-discrimination laws that faith-based organisations currently enjoy. Speaking in Perth, Shorten confirmed that “[the ALP]are not interested in telling religious organisations how to run their faith-based organisations. We haven’t seen the case made to make change.”

This pre-emptive statement – Labor were supposed to review the laws whilst in office – has delighted Catholic leaders, Lyle Shelton of the ACL, and The Australian newspaper. Elsewhere, it’s gone largely unnoticed.

For a nation of people who see ourselves as secular and upholding the separation between church and state, Australians are alarmingly complacent about the influence of religious organisations.

Sarah Joseph writes at The Conversation, “Academic freedom and the suspension of Roz Ward“:

Academics (and others) must be able to post such opinions without fear of retribution from their employers. Certainly, some find criticism of the Australian flag offensive, but as a society we must surely be able to tolerate such opinions. Ward is referencing debates that are far from closed. In contrast, La Trobe’s reason a) seems to punish Ward for expressing an unpopular opinion.

Second, the reasons apparently given to Ward link her suspension to the fact that she posted the offending comments in the midst of ongoing controversy over Safe Schools. The implication is that Ward should be “extra careful” with what she says due to that controversy.

Rebecca Shaw writes at SBS, “Gay bars and safe spaces: Why Orlando has impacted me so much“:

It is easy for people to forget, because of how far we have come, that it still takes something to live openly and proudly as an LGBTQI person. Yes, many of us are extremely privileged, especially those amongst who are cis and white and who live in a country like Australia. And yet, it still isn’t easy. If you aren’t part of the community, it is easy for you to forget. It is easy for you to walk down the street, safe in the knowledge that you love queer people, and ignore that there are still many who don’t. To know and to sense, like we do, that there is still blatant hatred towards us. And to fear that if it isn’t blatant, that it’s just hiding there under the surface, waiting. It takes something to keep living as yourself when you see this seething and spiteful underbelly of this every time someone talks about Safe Schools or marriage equality, or draws a pathetically homophobic cartoon in the national newspaper.

Charlie Maycraft guest posted at Gladly, the Cross-Eyed Bear, “Orlando Vigil – Charlie’s Speech“:

This shooting was an attack on our human rights. There are people in this world who not only condemn us, they literally want us dead. I’ve seen news anchors and journalists all over the world trying to co opt this event as a non specific and random act of violence, rather than a blatantly homophobic and transphobic hate crime.

Paula Gerber wrote at The Conversation, “Orlando shooting is the latest chapter in the global fight for LGBT rights“:

For every advance in LGBT rights that is made in one part of the world, there are extreme regressions elsewhere.

Perhaps this is evidence of Newton’s third law that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Although when it comes to LGBT rights, the reaction is more excessive than equal.

Aaminah Khan (also known as Jay the Nerdkid) writes at Alternet, “Stop Asking Me to Denounce Islam to Prove I Care About LGBT Rights“:

After events like the recent tragic shooting in Orlando, Florida, this problem becomes more pronounced. In the hours immediately following the Pulse shooting, I received a great deal of opportunistic hate mail, as I imagine many visibly queer and trans people did. However, most of the hate messages I received online were not about my sexuality or gender, but about my religion. Many came from fellow LGBT people, who asked me how I justified homophobic laws in Muslim countries (I don’t) and demanded that I “disavow” Islam as proof that I really did care about LGBT rights (I won’t, but I do). These attacks left me no space to mourn or deal with the pain of such a blow to the LGBT community, of which I consider myself a part.

Chrys Stevenson wrote at Gladly, the Cross-Eyed Bear, “Orlando: I blame you, Lyle“:

Florida is a long way from Canberra, Lyle. And you are a Christian, not a Muslim. You were nowhere near the Pulse nightclub when Omar Mateen took out an assault rifle and a pistol and began firing indiscriminately into a club packed with the kind of people your Australian Christian Lobby spends so much money to vilify.

And yet, Lyle, I blame you for the horror which occurred in that nightclub. Because it is you, and people like you, who actively fuel the homophobic culture which helps unhinged people like Mateen justify their actions as ‘right’ and ‘holy’.


Valerie Aurora, Mary Gardiner and Leigh Honeywell co-wrote a post at hypatia dot net, “No more rock stars: how to stop abuse in tech communities“:

You can take concrete actions to stop rock stars from abusing and destroying your community. But first, here are a few signs that help you identify when you have a rock star instead of a plumber:

A rock star likes to be the center of attention. A rock star spends more time speaking at conferences than on their nominal work. A rock star appears in dozens of magazine profiles – and never, ever tells the journalist to talk to the people actually doing the practical everyday work. A rock star provokes a powerful organization over minor issues until they crack down on the rock star, giving them underdog status. A rock star never says, “I don’t deserve the credit for that, it was all the work of…” A rock star humble-brags about the starry-eyed groupies who want to fuck them. A rock star actually fucks their groupies, and brags about that too. A rock star throws temper tantrums until they get what they want. A rock star demands perfect loyalty from everyone around them, but will throw any “friend” under the bus for the slightest personal advantage. A rock star knows when to turn on the charm and vulnerability and share their deeply personal stories of trauma… and when it’s safe to threaten and intimidate. A rock star wrecks hotel rooms, social movements, and lives.

Claire Wright wrote at The Conversation, “Emancipated wenches in gaudy jewellery: the liberating bling of the goldfields“:

Lola Montez was born in Limerick, Ireland in 1818, and christened Maria Eliza Delores Rosanna Gilbert. She changed her name to Lola when, at 18, she fled an arranged betrothal to a reviled old man. The woman who had dined (and slept) with the kings of Europe, plotted against the Jesuit-controlled monarchy in Bavaria, given advice on matters of state to Czar Nicholas and Ludwig I, performed in the opera houses of Europe, married at least three times and travelled the globe with her infamous Spider Dance, died alone in a New York boarding house of syphilis, aged 42. Her gravestone simply reads “Mrs Eliza Gilbert”.

By the end of her short and explosive life, Lola might have suggested a better epitaph:

A woman of beauty and intelligence needs the quills of a porcupine as self-defence – or else risk ruin.

Deborah Russell wrote at Left Side Story, “What I think about a Universal Basic Income“:

A friend asked me what I thought about a Universal Basic Income. Here are some notes I put together a couple of months ago, when UBIs were the topic of the day here in New Zealand. TL:DR – I’m a supporter in principle, ‘though at this stage, a UBI may not be viable on fiscal grounds.

Violence and sexual assault – all articles in this section carry trigger warnings

Writing in Water writes, “We Are Not Really Decent People: How We Pretend to Hate Rape

Erin Riley wrote, “Eddie McGuire, Caroline Wilson and violence against women: the AFL must act.“:

The first notable thing about this is, of course, that is is absolutely awful. These are some of the most high-profile men in football joking about hurting one of football’s most prominent women. So much of our discussions about violence against women acknowledge the importance of language and of attitudes in shaping the way men think about women. As the current government campaign says, “violence against women doesn’t just start.” While McGuire and co were undoubtedly joking, the underlying attitude is dangerous: it [reinforces] the attitudes of those who are willing to take their hatred of women beyond a “bit of banter”.

Rebecca Shaw wrote at SBS, “A breakdown of victim blaming using pie charts“:

But actually, who is at fault when assaults like this occur? I think it’s time someone looked into it further, and broke it down for society. And that person is me. I will use pie graphs because i love pie. Let’s hope we can clear this all up.

Related Posts:

Guest Post: Equal pay a step closer

This post was submitted to me via Fleur Fitzsimmons at the end of June, but via email.  We agreed that I’d post the article on my blog as a guest post. 

Fleur Fitzsimmons is a lawyer at the New Zealand Public Service Association.

Equal pay for women-dominated occupations is a step closer with the high-powered group led by the next Governor-General Dame Patsy Reddy and including  Phil O’Reilly, unions and Government Negotiators, tasked with developing equal pay principles under the Equal Pay Act 1972 reporting agreed principles and an agreed process to implement equal pay to the Government.  The group has developed and agreed comprehensive principles for the implementation of equal pay in female-dominated work in New Zealand. The agreed principles are here.

The group has established a process by which women doing work that is predominantly performed by women can make a claim for equal pay, and have outlined the assessment process as well as stating how a claim will be settled.

The process suggested provides that any employee or group of employees can raise a claim and contains a list of factors that must be considered when determining the merit of a claim.

These factors are not overly legalistic or technocratic.  They include consideration of whether the work has been historically undervalued because of the origins or history of the work, or whether there is some characterisation or labelling of the work as “women’s work” or a social, cultural or historical phenomena whereby women are considered to have “natural” or “inherent” qualities that may have led to historical undervaluation of the work.

The assessment will consider whether the remuneration paid has properly accounted for the nature of the work, the levels of responsibility associated with the work, the conditions under which the work is performed, and the degree of effort required to perform the work.

The claim will then be thoroughly assessed by looking at the skills, responsibilities, conditions of the work and the degrees of effort of the work done by the women.

One important aspect of the assessment is that it must fully recognise the importance of skills, responsibilities, effort and conditions that are commonly over-looked or undervalued in female-dominated work such as social skills, responsibility for the wellbeing of others, emotional effort, cultural knowledge and sensitivity.

The assessment of the claim can also include an examination of the work being performed and that of appropriate comparators. These may include male comparators performing work which is the same as or similar, or aspects of which are the same or substantially similar, to the work being considered.

It has been quite a journey to get these principles agreed by employers, unions and the Government Negotiators, and comes after a landmark decision by the Employment Court in the Kristine Bartlett case – an aged care worker who is paid barely above the minimum wage for work which is physically, and emotionally exhausting and which is overwhelmingly performed by women.

Working women in New Zealand have been undervalued for too long and implementation of this new approach to equal pay would be an historic break-through.

Related Posts:

Let’s talk about Safe Schools

I was bullied at school, specifically I was bullied at high school in Bendigo, the schools I attended in Alice Springs (also private Catholic schools had better programs than Bendigo at reducing bullying).  I mean, I was briefly bullied at primary school in Alice Springs, but it was really brief (a few months in year one or two) and then it stopped.

I wasn’t bullied because I’m not straight (I’m bisexual by the way), I was bullied because I was different, a smart kid in a school filled with average kids.  A kid who wasn’t born in Bendigo (at my school that mattered) and was arriving part-way through the school year.

Safe Schools didn’t exist way back in the late 1980s, and given the conservatism of Bendigo Catholic College, I am not convinced that they would even implement the program in the school (they haven’t to date).  Safe Schools would have made my school life more bearable at school as it is a program that encourages the acceptance of difference and builds empathy.  Both of these things are important.

I blogged about the garbage humans and their demand for a review of Safe Schools the other day.  Today the Government, on the National Day Against Bullying and Violence no less, announced what they were going to do about the review into Safe School.  Some garbage humans in Parliament crowed about how the program has been gutted (it hasn’t), and how they thought it would be unlikely that the Safe Schools Coalition would be to accept the changes and would therefore be defunded (we don’t know this bit yet).

Ok, what I want to focus on is the actual media release from Education Minister Simon Birmingham and what some of those changes mean, and whether some of those changes are actually feasible or not.

The government will seek to address these findings and reasonable concerns via a number of immediate actions.

1. Fix the content of the programme resources by:
a. Having the lesson plans for Lessons 2, 6 and 7 of the All of Us resource amended to remove those activities identified by the review as potentially unsuitable for some students.
b. Having the content of Lesson 5 of the All of Us resource redesigned to ensure that the content aligns with the curriculum content for biology appropriate for the target age group.
c. Requiring that the amended resources and any further resources be peer reviewed and approved by a panel of qualified educators appointed by the Department of Education and Training.

Ok, the first bit is not terrible, the second bit sounds reasonable, but the third… the people who provide the resources for Safe Schools are qualified people.

I am not yet convinced that a panel of “qualified educators” would be better qualified than the creators of the Safe School Coalition resources.  Sally Richardson is a former lecturer at La Trobe, Roz Ward has a MA in Gender Studies, and Joel Radcliff has a Grad Dip in Education.  I assume they also have lived experience, and work with Gay and Lesbian Health Victoria, who are a “health and wellbeing policy and resource unit. GLHV is funded by the Victorian Government and sits within the Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society (ARCSHS), La Trobe University.” (source)

I know that several garbage humans think that there is some kind of Marxist, cultural revisionist agenda here to convert children into being gay, or to confuse them into being transgender, but that argument is so illogical that I’m surprised that anyone let it see the light of day.  The majority of the Resource material for Safe Schools is already peer reviewed and is effectively published by a University.  Surely that should be enough.

To make another hurdle for material, effectively to be passed by Government, means that the panel of “qualified educators” can be hand-picked by the Minister, and can be set up with an agenda to disallow any further change to the material.

Given there was an additional announcement today that the Federal Safe Schools roll-out would not be funded after 2017 (source), it really does seem that the Government wants to ensure that no changes to the current program (beyond removing resources) happens at all.

2. Address concerns about third party links, advocacy and materials in resources by:
a. Having all third party organisation branding removed from all official resources.
b. Having reference to any third parties limited to organisations funded by state, territory or Commonwealth governments for the provision of mental health or counselling services.
c. Requiring that national and local programme managers not bring the programme into disrepute, or engage in political advocacy in a way that represents their views as being endorsed by the programme.
d. Requiring that the resources for the programme not be used for political advocacy.

And onto the next bit – removing branding from official resources may mean that any IP owned by that organisation (that’s intellectual property for those playing at home) may also have to be removed. There is the potential for less resources to be available to children.

Additionally, this means that schools may find it difficult to refer children to other organisations where they can spend time with people like them.  It will make it difficult for parents to find organisations to support them and their children.

And onto the next one.  This one amuses me.  Everyone says that it means that Minus18 (for example) will not be able to be referred in the Safe Schools material.  Minus18 is partly funded by the Victorian State Government as part of the HEY (Healthy Equal Youth) projects.  See here for more info also.  So Minus18, by the Minister’s own rules, can still be referred to in the Safe Schools material.

The final two of this point are weird at first glance.  When you think about the garbage humans who have been involved in calling for this review, and about the statements made by Sally Richardson as the review was called (just google Sally Richardson and Safe Schools and you can see how many media outlets went to her for comment).

What the Government actually wants is to gag Safe Schools on talking about how homophobia, biphobia and transphobia in the media impacts on children.  They don’t want Safe Schools to talk about how harmful a marriage-equality plebicite will be for LGBTIQ+ children in Australia.  They want to reduce bullying in schools, but they don’t care about the bullying perpetrated by Government, religious groups, and other anti-LGBTIQ+ arsehats.

3. Limit the distribution of certain materials by:
a. Requiring local programme managers to ensure the distribution and promotion of Safe Schools Coalition Australia programme materials is restricted to secondary school settings only.
b. Restricting the use and distribution of the OMG I’m Queer, OMG My Friend’s Queer and Stand Out resources, which were not developed as classroom resources, to one-on-one discussions between students and key qualified staff.

Restricting Safe Schools materials to secondary schools only means that queerphobia and transphobia in Primary Schools is a-ok with this Government.  There are children who transition in primary school, what are they (the parents, the student, the school) supposed to do to support everyone through this process if they cannot access Safe Schools material?  I’ve read accounts of young people (primary school age) who have wanted to self-harm because their body was did not match their gender.  This government has just shown they don’t care about young trans children.

Restricting use and distribution (and I hope all the schools involved in Safe Schools actively disobey this one) of the OMG I’m Queer, OMG My Friend’s Queer and Stand Out resources to students at schools, and stating that they can only be used on one-on-one discussions means that most students who need these resources won’t access them.  The Government couldn’t justify banning these resources, because the review didn’t find that they should be, so they’ve just made them impossible to access, particularly because all resources are to be moved off the Safe Schools website.  I’d recommend downloading those documents now and sharing them widely.

4. Align the location of resources with other inclusion, support, tolerance and anti-bullying measures by housing official resources only on the official Australian Government Safe Schools Hub website, which contains other inclusion and anti-bullying resources for schools, teachers, parents and students in areas such as racism, domestic violence and disabilities. The Safe Schools Coalition Australia website will not have any resources, advice or links and will limit operations to programme coordination and direct users to the Safe Schools Hub for access to official programme resources only.

See my comment above about the moving resources off the Safe Schools website.  Limiting the availability of some information will make it harder for LGBTIQ+ students.

Given the Victorian Government has said they will support, continue to fund, and allow the program to operate as it currently does in Victoria, I don’t know what this means for the Safe Schools Coalition website.  There used to be a Victorian site before the Federal Government rolled out the program nationally, so I suppose that could be recreated.  It will be an interesting one to watch.

5. Ensure parents are appropriately empowered and engaged by:
a. Requiring agreement of relevant parent bodies for schools to participate in the Safe Schools Coalition Australia programme, including the extent of participation and any associated changes to school policies.
b. Requiring parental consent for student participation in programme lessons or activities, while maintaining the rights of all students to seek counselling services.
c. Having an official fact sheet for the Safe Schools Coalition Australia programme for parents about the programme developed so they have access to full and consistent information of its content and the resources that may be used in schools.
d. Having an official resource for parents of students dealing with questions of sexual identity developed, and distributed only by key qualified staff.

So the PTA needs to approve the Safe Schools program.  I freely admit I know NOTHING about school parental body politics.  I don’t know if they are more or less conservative than the school at large.  I don’t know if this means that schools are more or less likely to introduce Safe Schools.  I’m guessing less, because otherwise it would be less likely to be a thing.

Requiring parental consent for student participation means that non-supportive parents of the entire LGBTIQ+ population (students and non-students) will be able to keep their children “safe” from hearing that LGBTIQ+ people are just like them.  The ability to opt out of a bullying reduction program means that the bullying does not go away.  This is to reduce the effectiveness of the program.

The third item is sensible, but the last one is not.  Once again we have the “key qualified staff”, and I don’t know what that means.  I’m guessing that the Safe School program comes with a qualified resource to assist the school in running/setting up the program, and this is the “key qualified staff” that the press release refers to.  I believe an official resource for parents is a good idea.  I hope it is developed in order to ease the mind of parents who are concerned that their child will be miserable because they are not straight. (Why be happy when you can be normal? – Jeanette Winterson)  I hope it is freely available, so that parents don’t have to feel anxious or ashamed to ask for it.  I’m pretty sure many parents in Australia will google “Is my child LGBTIQ+” before having to ask someone at school.

Finally I want to leave this with two articles that give a little bit of hope.  Before I provide those links, I want to share the words of Christopher Pyne, who was not a garbage human today (I know, I was also shocked).

Annabel Crabb wrote a good write up of today’s woes, “How to spot a bully: Parliament’s helpful guide“.

The Conversation provided some excellent commentary on today’s news, “Safe Schools review findings: experts respond“.

Remember, these arseholes want to wear us down.  They want us to not exist and they don’t care if we die.  The best revenge is a life well lived, and stepping away from this shit-fight in order to protect your own sanity and health is vital if you need it.


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Welcome to the 94th edition of the Down Under Feminist Carnival

Wow, 94 carnivals, that is quite a number.  I’m proud to be part of this, and hope that you enjoy reading this collection of feminist writing from Australia and New Zealand.

The Down Under Feminist Carnival is always looking for more hosts.  If you have a blog, live in (or have lived in) Australia and New Zealand, and are a feminist, then get in touch at the Down Under Feminist Carnival site.  Details of what is involved is also available here.  Just remember, you won’t be doing this on your own, there will be plenty of us to help you find posts and for you to ask questions.

Thank you to Chally for organising the carnival and sending me posts, and Mary and Scarlett for also sending me posts. On with the carnival!


Blue Milk wrote two pieces on relationships, one short, one shorter, “Follow kindness” and “On new relationships“.


Avril E Jean writes, “Really, New Scientist?” and then follows it up immediately with a post on “Gender assumptions“.

Deborah at A Bee of a Certain Age wrote, “Another entry for the “Patriarchy harms men too” files“.

Scarlett Harris wrote for Harlot, “Does The LFL Have A Place In The Women’s Sports Revolution?

With the increased interest in not only women in sport but in different kinds of women’s sports, would the LFL, in its original incarnation of a SuperBowl halftime attraction in which barely dressed models rolled around chasing a ball on pay-per-view, be dreamed into existence today?

Carla Pascoe wrote for The Conversation, “The ongoing taboo of menstruation in Australia“:

Why do we use quaint euphemisms such as “sanitary products” and “feminine hygiene products” in supermarket aisles? We are still profoundly uncomfortable about the fact that females bleed once a month for half of their lives. It’s messy, it’s unsettling and no one wants to talk about it.


A C Buchanan writes, “On Empathy and Building Spaceships“:

When I was around 10, I read an article in a newspaper about Asperger’s Syndrome. “That’s me!” I wanted to yell, as I made my way through the bullet points. I got to the last one. Doesn’t like writing stories. I thought of the novel I’d just written. (It was about two German children on the run in WWII Wales. It was probably half plagiarised. Still, it was a novel.) I read the bullet point again. “This isn’t me,” I thought, deflated.

Lauredhel writes at Hoyden About Town, “Today in Ableism: The Perth Writers Festival, Part Two.“:

The rows of information and ticket tents, the coffee and drinks tents, the tables and chairs, the bar, the water refill stations – these make up Writers Central, the busy hub of the Festival. The tents are all placed facing a large area of bumpy grass with sand traps. This row of tents all have their BACKS to a flat, very wide paved area. I will not mince words here. The organisers are clearly complete arseholes, since they know this is a problem and have failed to fix it. It would have cost them nothing to set up this area such that the tents and vans were accessible, and such that there were a couple of tables and chairs on a paved surface. Words cannot express how angry I am about this setup.


Kath at The Fat Heffalump wrote, “Plus 40 Fabulous – What Makes Me Happy“:

When you’re dealing with social activism of any kind, you have to be able to find the joy in life easily, or you’re going to burn out very quickly.  There has to be someone, and some things, that make you happy, and you have to be able to access them when the activism starts to get you down.  It’s all part of self care, which is VITAL for all of us, let alone those of us engaging in activism.

Scarlett Harris at The Scarlett Woman wrote, “In Defence of Millennials.“:

For the record, I don’t think the state of millennials in society is as dire as Steinem et al. would have us believe. I may work part time, but I also freelance. Last year, I had two additional jobs and the year before that I had two internships. As far as job loyalty goes, I’ve been consistently employed in my primary part-time job for six and a half years (and I’m up for long service leave this year!), while the part-time gig I had before that I worked in for seven. A few of my friends work to travel, and another is working in the Prime Minister’s Cabinet! We’re more educated than our parents and we’re more likely to volunteer and get involved in community projects. Gloria Steinem was a grassrooter from way back, but how many activist campaigns in recent years have been started by millennials? There’s the Occupy movement, SlutWalk, #illridewithyou, Love Makes a Way, #BlackLivesMatter. In the corporate sector, Mark Zuckerberg created the most popular social media platform in the world, Facebook, while Jennifer Lawrence was 2015’s highest-grossing female movie star. (The highest grossing male movie stars are mostly older white men until Channing Tatum makes an appearance on the list at number 13, which perhaps says something about the determination and drive of young women more so than millennial men.) Millennials are hardly left wanting for ways to make an impact on the world.

Race and Racism

Kath at The Fat Heffalump provided the transcript of her interview at Essence Magazine, “Interview with Essence Magazine – Full Transcript” after her tweet regarding Beyoncé went viral:

Fellow white lady writers – if asked to write about Beyoncé’s new song, the answer is “I think you should ask a black woman to write it.”

Stephanie at No Award wrote, “lunar new year and diminishing returns“:

It diminishes me not at all to call this festival the Lunar New Year. I can be specific when I’m talking about our specifics: the Ba Gua my mother replaced on Sunday afternoon; the care with which the Reunion Dinner menu was planned; the offerings to the Kitchen God to keep his mouth sticky-shut and sealed from dobbing on us to the Jade Emperor; the last banquet after the fifteen days that will have come before. But the Chinese tendency towards blanket statements (she says, making a blanket statement) diminishes us all, lends us a careless superiority we shouldn’t want, and a thoughtlessness to others that we shouldn’t have.

Liz at No Award wrote, “Blackface in Australia“:

Every time this issue comes up, there’s always some drongo going, “But we’re not America!  We don’t have the same history of slavery and racism that they do, so blackface isn’t racist here!”

And they’re half right — we don’t have the same history of slavery and racism as the US.  We have a history of slavery and racism all our very own.  And it still doesn’t make blackface acceptable.

Stephanie at No Award wrote, “taking up room in con spaces“:

Quokkas, some years ago at an Australian con, a white, American Guest of Honour explained to me what colonialism in South East Asia looked like. She was the Guest of Honour, so I didn’t know how to tell her to fuck off.

Celeste Liddle wrote at Daily Life, “Why Constitutional Recognition isn’t necessarily the answer to improving Indigenous rights“:

The forum, entitled “Aboriginal Community Open Meeting“, was based around the concept of “self-determination” for Aboriginal communities. It’s the first in a series of consultations between the community and the Victorian Government, organised with an aim to inform the Federal Government on the topic of Constitutional Recognition for Indigenous people.

Constitutional Recognition is a Federal agenda, which so far consists mostly of establishing the ‘Recognise campaign’ in a bid to educate Australians about the importance on the recognition referendum.

Celeste Liddle also wrote for Daily Life, “Indigenous Australians have a right to speak our first language“:

It’s therefore remarkable that while a “White Australian Leader” can receive superlatives for reciting an Indigenous language in parliament, a female Aboriginal politician can be reprimanded for reverting to her native tongue during a debate in the Northern Territory Parliament.

This is precisely what happened last week when member of the Northern Territory Legislative Assembly Bess Price spoke in Warlpiri in session. Price was informed by the speaker Kezia Purick that “should a member use a language other than English without the leave of the assembly it will be ruled disorderly and the member will be required to withdraw the words”.

Courtney at Raising Queens wrote, “I think I spotted a brown face in Frozen“:

I recently watched a video of young children being given the choice of playing with either a white doll or a black doll. Every child, including the black children, picked the white doll. Even after saying they knew which doll looked more like them, the black children still said they’d prefer the white doll because the black doll was “ugly”, “bad” and “mean”. Once again, I wonder how many of these children had actually been told that their skin colour was ugly. They don’t have to be told explicitly because the message is still coming from somewhere.

Kate Galloway wrote at KatGallow, “The pyramid of suffering“:

My concern however is that this strategy is indicative of a fragmentation of asylum seeker debate in Australia. Lowy Institute polls indicate that six out of ten of Australians support mandatory detention. It is difficult for refugee campaigners to get public support for a broader campaign about asylum seekers or mandatory detention, and the support for the named infants, including baby Asha, may indicate a threshold of suffering beyond which the Australian public is unwilling to accept.


Friend of Marilyn wrote, “On irresponsible reporting (just another day in the fatpocalypse)“:

“‘Fat people should be fined’ – experts say” reads the headline of a story posted on the NZ Herald website this afternoon. It’s yet another example of irresponsible reporting on fatness by the NZ media.

The story gets a lot wrong, including that the study in question doesn’t say anything about fat people being fined (in fact, the word ‘fine[d]’ is not used in the 12 page article). Other falsehoods include the claim that global obesity levels are increasing, and that “exercise and healthy eating are the key to reversing this trend”. (Go ahead and find the science that demonstrates that diet and exercise result in permanent – more than 5yrs – meaningful – more than 10kilos – weight loss. Go ahead. When you find it, send it to me). The Herald story then continues to talk about the key to weight loss that is found in the study.

Iona Bruce at Daily Life wrote, “Where are all the feminist personal trainers?“:

In my opinion, being healthy is not how you look. It’s how you feel. I try to erase years’ worth of media­-driven brainwashing by teaching my clients to stop measuring progress by what the scales say, and start feeling their progress through what their body can do. And what your body can achieve is completely unique to you. The only person you should ever compare yourself with, is yourself.

Rebecca Shaw wrote at Daily Life, “Why it’s so hurtful when my friends complain about feeling ‘fat’“:

What is much harder for me to ignore is the insidious, negative language around fatness that is spoken by loved ones, acquaintances, colleagues and strangers alike on a daily basis. This is a concept known as ‘fat talk’, which sadly is not a late night show where I invite cool fat women on to talk about their lives, but rather an informal dialogue during which participants express body dissatisfaction, often expressed by the very people who would be disgusted at the man who threw his cigarette at me.

Natalie at definatalie wrote, “True story: I sew my own pads.“:

There are lots of positives about using cloth pads: cheaper, reduced rubbish, sewing/ buying your own customised pads is fun, tailored pads to suit your body shape, cloth feels nicer than plastic, no adhesive/ plastic rashes,  you’ve always got a stash handy, plus more and more. Some people say their cramping and period length are reduced but no studies conclusively prove this, nor have I experienced this. At the end of the day, if you find something that works for you, then that’s all that matters.

Family, children and the like

Emily wrote at Mama Said, “Who will you be?“:

One of my favourite things to do is imagine who my boys will grow up to be. Will they be bogans? Or hippies? Will they stay up late reading by torchlight like I did? Or will they ignore all books like their father? Will they be outdoorsy like him? Or will they curl their lip at the thought of a hike? (I just don’t understand hiking ok I mean it’s just difficult walking right? I don’t even want to walk let alone difficult walk.)

Julie at The Hand Mirror wrote, “The problem is low pay, not family size“:

By stating bluntly “if you can’t feed then don’t breed” a series of unhelpful assumptions are made, including that people’s financial situations don’t change over time, or at least don’t get worse.  In an age of uncertainty around employment, the future of work, rapidly changing technology and industries, this seems a naïve assumption to make. In decades gone by how many people, young women in particular, took typing at school before we saw the rise of the personal computer and the demise of the typing pool?


Dr Jess Berentson-Shaw guest posts at Mama Said, “Should you get your child immunised?”  And of course the answer is yes, and no debate will be answered into.

Emily writes at Mama Said, “About time – A festival that is kid-friendly!” about a festival in Auckland in March 2016.

Liz at No Award writes, “On the corner is a banker with a motorcar“:

Look, Yarraville isn’t just gentrified, it’s aggressively so, and to the detriment of the wider — and poorer – – community.  The pop-up park story is a case in point: when Maribyrnong Council removed the temporary park and prepared to shift it to a new location, the people of Yarraville whinged until the council changed its mind and made it permanent.  Cute!  And totally at the expense of less adorable, less wealthy parts of the municipality, that might have enjoyed all the benefits that temporarily closing a street for open space can provide. (The suburbs in the area that aren’t Yarraville are among the most disadvantaged across all of Victoria, so that’s nice.)


Rebecca Shaw interviewed Mallory Ortberg for Junkee and it’s “Cats, ‘Texts From Jane Eyre’ And Men Being Very Quiet Online: A Chat With The Toast’s Mallory Ortberg“:

I mean, this is a great question. “How can we make men quieter in general?” is always a worthwhile thing to ask. They have a really hard time with it. They struggle. They are sweethearts, but it doesn’t come naturally. We just make it super clear that men aren’t the point. There’s not going to be a lot of patience for a straight white guy coming in and saying ‘have you thought about my experience?’ because odds are…we’ve heard it, and odds are your experience is actually a little silly and nobody ever told you your experience is a little bit silly, they always told you it was very very serious and important.

Anna at Hoyden About Town wrote, “Shakespeare in Australia“:

At the grassroots level, however, there is tremendous passion and enthusiasm for Shakespeare in this country. Some universities are holding special lectures or symposia, and both professional and amateur theatre performances are being staged. It is my hope that with an online space for people to find out about these events, and a little help with ideas and templates for things to do, events will start to spring up, or at the very least, people who are interested will find more easily something going on near them.

Shakespeare TwentyScore is fulfilling that role. At present it is mostly event listings plus a few useful links, but it will grow and expand throughout the year. The actual anniversary date is 23 April, but all kinds of things will be taking place all through 2016, so keep checking for updates, and expanding resources pages.

QUILTBAG – trigger warnings for most of these posts

Jennifer Wilson at No Place for Sheep wrote, “Christian Lobby claims it needs hate speech to argue against ssm“.  She also wrote, “March of the Wankpuffins” about the inquiry into the Safe Schools Coalition announced by the Australian Federal Government on Tuesday 23 February.

I also wrote about the inquiry into the Safe Schools Coalition, “Why we need safe schools for LGBTI kids and LGBTI people“.

Erin Marie wrote at Erinaree, “Safe Schools Australia – Letter to Prime Minister Turnbull

Jo at A Life Unexamined wrote, “On Coming Out as Asexual at Work (or not)“:

The other thing about coming out (for anyone who isn’t straight, this time), is that you never stop having to come out. Like Queenie once wrote, it’s coming out (and coming out [and coming out {and coming out}]). Because if you don’t actively talk about not being straight, you’ll keep being read as straight by default.

Violence – trigger warnings for these posts

Julie at The Hand Mirror wrote, “Content Warning Rape Culture

Ana Cabo at Junkee wrote, “An NZ Journo Is Copping Abuse For Interrogating Two Guys Who Creeped On Her At Laneway

Brydie Lee-Kennedy at Junkee wrote, “Why Is Everyone Only Calling On Women To #FreeKesha?

Clem Bastow wrote at Daily Life, “Kesha shouldn’t have to work with the man who allegedly raped her

Amy Gray wrote at ABC, “Paul Sheehan’s unchecked allegations ‘a catastrophe for sexual assault victims’

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A blog about feminism, religion and stuff… in no particular order