Posted: March 9, 2013 at 4:40 pm | Tags: equality, Feminism, IWD, media, sexism, violence
Happy International Women’s Day for 2013. I’ve been meaning to write for a very long time about why feminism is still required and how the fight for true equality has a long way to go, and what better day than today to write such a post. The saddest thing for me is that since I first conceived writing this post, with a title more along the lines of “Why we still need feminism”, I’ve continued collating frequent examples of sexism, violence, double standards, misogyny, etc. These stories are not single instances of bad behaviour or individuals whose attitudes date back to the 50s, all of these stories are current, the issues, violence, at horrible attitudes being things that women have to manage daily. This isn’t good enough and society (and I’m looking at you men) needs to do better.
As Elizabeth Broderick, Australia’s Federal Sex Discrimination Officer said at the recent TEDx Women event in Melbourne, women have fought and gained a lot in the past 100 years, but it’s time that more men joined the fight with us, because it’s time that men started changing men’s minds.
Posted: November 2, 2012 at 10:52 pm | Tags: allies, Feminism, gender roles, privilege, sexism
I am both excited and terribly disappointed when I find that a prominent male, with a wide audience, is a feminist ally. Excited because, “YAY an ally!”, disappointed because it really should be far more common than it is. I am, sadly, far to used to being thrown under a bus by prominent men due to my gender. Dawkins being a great example during the elevatorgate storm. So when someone like PZ Myers or John Scalzi comes out defending feminism, supporting my existence as an equal to men, and arguing with arsehats that really, letting women make their own mind up about what they do and don’t want, and that treating them respectfully should be a no-brainer, I am happy inside as much as I am disappointed that so many other men really don’t get this. Continue Reading
Posted: August 13, 2012 at 3:29 am | Tags: Feminism, gender roles, media, sexism
Not currently being in Australia, I missed most of the furore that a Gen-Y woman caused when she dared accuse an upstanding institution such as the Herald Sun of being sexist and condescending after finishing her internship there. I mean really, who would have thought that the Herald Sun would have been sexist? Oh you mean there are actually people out there who think that “modern business etiquette” actually applies and that “chivalry” is not at all an outdated concept? Please kill me now.
I caught up (a tiny amount) on the story when I read an article published in a Fairfax newspaper, by Natasha Hughes, suggesting that the sexism experienced by Sasha Burden was all in her imagination and really, the men of the Herald Sun were just being polite, as their mothers (because it’s always the mothers) taught them.
Interestingly, this article also quotes Leslie Cannold, but completely fails to understand Cannold’s point.
Basically Burden should not have complained about the way she was treated while interning at the Herald Sun because:
- Good old-fashioned chivalry should make us very happy
- chivalry is about consideration for others
- courtesies are learned behaviours
- it’s lovely that there are gentlemen out there Continue Reading
Posted: April 11, 2012 at 10:42 pm | Tags: Feminism, identity
After reading Sleepydumpling’s post at The Fat Heffalump, “To All the Lionesses of the World“, I thought about a few of the minor, but important victories I’ve had at work in the past 6 – 9 months.
The first is actually being introduced/called by my name. Now most of my team refer to me as “Bec”, which doesn’t bother me too much, but a couple of people, after talking about the importance of being able to be identified as I prefer and how that demonstrates respect to me as a person, go out of their way to call me “Rebecca” because that’s something that I prefer to be called.
The other was to not be referred to as a “guy”. Initially the two men (who sit on either side of me), laughed when I pointed out that I wasn’t a guy, and went out of their way as a joke to say “Hello guys and Rebecca”, or “Hello guys and girl”, but now it’s said automatically and without any joke or malice attached.
Both of these things are small, but in the end I feel more respected because things I asked for have been given to me by my colleagues without having to fight about it, without tantrums, and without intolerance.
Posted: March 13, 2012 at 10:17 pm | Tags: Feminism, gender, gender roles, health, medicine
How many times have you seen that question? How many surveys, questionnaires, and/or polls have you been asked which gender you are? How many times have you seen it asked the other way? Continue Reading
Posted: February 21, 2012 at 9:19 pm | Tags: Feminism, health, mental illness, sexism
The Age published an article today about a woman who was six times the legal blood alcohol limit when we went to pick up her children from school yesterday. Her BAC came to light after she forgot to put the handbrake on and her car rolled into the back of another vehicle. The owner of the damaged car suspected that the woman was drunk and called the police.
Much was made about the fact that the woman had driven without accident to the school. Much was also made of the fact that she had been driving with her six month old child in the car with her (I assume suitably restrained). Little was made of the fact that had she not rolled into the car in front of her that she would have driven her children home.
A lot was made of the fact that she appeared coherent and was capable of driving at that BAC. This suggests to me that she may be an alcoholic, and I mention this solely due to the comment made by one of the police officers involved:
He said the woman’s husband left work early and arrived at the crash scene to collect the children.
The husband said his wife was dealing with some issues which had led her to consume alcohol.
She had been drinking for most of the day, but did not say what she had consumed or how much.
‘‘[The husband] seems to have things in hand and he’s now obviously fully aware of her drinking habits and the fact that she should not be driving and possibly looking after the kids. He has involved some extended family to assist with that now and it’s not something that we want to punish him for in relation to his actions.’’
[These quotes and comments are from Leading Senior Constable Hewatt]
Alcoholics develop a higher tolerance for alcohol and due to the stigma attached to alcoholism are unlikely to seek treatment or support (Wikipedia). So suggesting that somehow “the husband” (let’s call him George), knew about his wife’s illness, and that he somehow was responsible for her behaviour is alarming. How could the police suggest that there are any laws under which George could be charged or punished for his wife’s behaviour. He knew about her issues, whatever they may be, but it doesn’t sound like he knew about her alcoholism.
It is after all 2012. Men are no longer responsible for their wives. Men no longer own their wives. Women these days are independent beings who can be held responsible for their behaviour, a fact that has clearly escaped Leading Senior Constable Hewatt. To even suggest that George should be held responsible for his wife’s endangerment of their children is incredibly sexist and about a hundred years out of step with modern society.
I hope that George, his wife, and their children have all the support they need. I suspect that this will turn ugly for them in their community and at the school their children attend.
Posted: February 14, 2012 at 11:09 pm | Tags: Feminism, geek, gender roles, growing up, privilege, sexism
Graeme Garden was always my favourite Goodie. He was a mad scientist, an inventor, a megalomaniac, and sometimes the most frenzied of the group. His character spoke to me and my enjoyment of science, helping dad in the garage with things, and my developing interest in design. I always loved his one piece suits. He was my first geek role model.
My second geek role model was Doctor Who (and I believe my first doctor was probably Jon Pertwee, though looking at the timeline of each of the Doctors, it was more likely to be Tom Baker. Then again, with the way the ABC ran Doctor Who at the time, it’s hard to know exactly. So Doctor Who saved the universe, and Earth, time and time again, had fun gadgets, understood maths and science, and travelled through time and space (what’s not to like?).
I don’t recall any female geek role models that I really identified with when I was growing up. Marmalade Atkins was a role model on rebelling and questioning everything, which is one of the lessons my parents also taught me – though not how Marmalade Atkins went about it. 3-2-1 Contact (the more grown up version of Sesame Street) had women involved, but as it screened at odd times in Australia (again on the ABC) I didn’t watch enough of it to identify with any of the presenters. Penny from Inspector Gadget was almost someone I could relate to, but she was a cartoon, and that made the whole thing unreal for me. The sad state of affairs of ABC children’s TV programming in the 1980s meant that for the most part we heard the stories of the boys and men over the stories of women (not having children and therefore not consuming children’s TV currently, I don’t know if this is still true).
So all my geek role models were men. Which meant, in part, that geekery when I was growing up was not a feminine thing. That to be a geek and female was unusual, so being a geek and feminine probably didn’t work out. I had a fairly normal childhood (well ok, it wasn’t that normal), I did ballet for 8 years, sang in choirs, rode a bike, had friends, learnt how to cook, and attempted to fit in – in Alice Springs not so much of a problem, but in Bendigo a nightmare.
The biggest issue is that I grew up without female geek role models. I didn’t know at the time about my cousin Hillary Booth, who had a PhD in mathematics and no doubt was a geek and I am sad I never met her. So growing up I separated geekery and femininity as they couldn’t go together. To be a geek meant that I couldn’t be feminine, so I attempted to distance myself from femininity and those who practised it. Which means that I didn’t have much time for many of the girls I went to school with, and they didn’t have much time for me as a result. I did have female friends, but they were geeks like me, stuck between the masculine and the feminine. Being female but not is still something I live today, but these days I no longer distance myself from those who practice femininity. I understand a lot more about feminism, gender constructions, the Kyriarchy, Geekdom, privilege and class than I used to thanks to the power of the internet, friends, and the awesomeness of the feminist blogosphere.
I’ve just remembered George from The Famous Five (TV Series) as a female role model I related to. Though sadly with that series you had the two options Anne or George. The Wikipedia entry describes them both:
Georgina is a tomboy and insists that people call her George. With her short hair and boy’s clothes she is often mistaken for a boy, which pleases her enormously. Like her father, Quentin, George has a fiery temper. She is fierce, headstrong and very loyal to those she loves. She is sometimes extremely stubborn and causes trouble for her mother as well as her cousins. She is very possessive of Timothy (Timmy), her dog. George is cousin to siblings Julian, Dick and Anne and is aged 11 at the start of the series and 16 at the end. In Five Have Plenty of Fun, Five Fall Into Adventure, and Five Go To Mystery Moor there were tomboys like her.
Anne is the youngest in the group, and generally takes care of their domestic duties during the Five’s various camping holidays. As the youngest, she is more likely than the others to become frightened and does not really enjoy the adventures as much as the others. She is 10 years old in the first book of the series and 15 in the last. As a small girl, she sometimes lets her tongue run away with her, but ultimately she is as brave and resourceful as the others. She likes doing the domestic things such as planning, organising and preparing meals, keeping where they are staying clean and tidy, be it a cave, house, tent or caravan. In Smuggler’s Top it is suggested she is claustrophobic as she is frightened of enclosed spaces since it reminds her of bad dreams she has – however this just shows how brave she really is as the adventures invariably lead the five into tunnels, down wells, in dungeons and other enclosed spaces.
So I could have the fierce, headstrong role model, or the domestic goddess who frightens easily. Top marks for guessing which one I related to – yes that’s right the girl who wants to be a boy.
Posted: January 18, 2012 at 11:17 pm | Tags: abortion, body, Feminism, science, study
I’ve been following the MTR debate with some interest. I had planned to write a blog post about how she’s not my kind of feminist, and I may yet do, but a statistic she quoted today in an article with Mamamia caught my eye.
6. How do you resolve the apparent divide between being pro-life and a feminist?
A growing number of feminists are questioning abortion as safe, simple and risk free. Research is also indicating that women have significant negative mental health outcomes after abortions. The UK Royal College of Psychiatrists has published a meta-analysis in the British Journal of Psychiatry finding that women who undergo abortions are 81% more likely to experience subsequent mental health problems. (Substance abuse increased 340%, suicidal behaviour by 155%).
I looked at those statistics and boggled, because when I last looked at Wikipedia regarding mental health and abortion the information suggested that there was no correlation between negative health outcomes and abortion. I went and tracked down what I could find of the British Journal of Psychiatry article. Sadly I found it was behind a paywall, so I went and looked at what other people had said regarding the article, the methods used, and the author of the piece. It was an interesting read. To start off, I’ll quote the Results section of the abstract:
Women who had undergone an abortion experienced an 81% increased risk of mental health problems, and nearly 10% of the incidence of mental health problems* (my own asterisk) was shown to be attributable to abortion. The strongest subgroup estimates of increased risk occurred when abortion was compared with term pregnancy and when the outcomes pertained to substance use and suicidal behaviour.
Posted: October 2, 2011 at 6:01 pm | Tags: Feminism, me, sexism, story, thoughts
The impostor syndrome, sometimes called impostor phenomenon or fraud syndrome, is a psychological phenomenon in which people are unable to internalize their accomplishments. It is not an officially recognized psychological disorder, but has been the subject of numerous books and articles by psychologists and educators. The term was coined by clinical psychologists Pauline Clance and Suzanne Imes in 1978.
Despite external evidence of their competence, those with the syndrome remain convinced that they are frauds and do not deserve the success they have achieved. Proof of success is dismissed as luck, timing, or as a result of deceiving others into thinking they are more intelligent and competent than they believe themselves to be. (Wikipedia)
A long time ago, when I was at primary school, I was selected to be part of an extension project run by the Northern Territory Government (I was living in Alice Springs at the time). The program was developed for gifted students and was to help accelerate their education, or something. I never really understood the program, especially as it only ran during primary school and didn’t continue into high school. I certainly enjoyed it though, because we learnt problem solving, puzzle solving, team work, an early introduction to algebra (still one of my favourite maths subjects), and had options to undertake external school activities like languages (I learnt some French), screen printing, photography and others.
Posted: August 14, 2011 at 9:47 pm | Tags: choice, Feminism, freedom, politics, Religion, thoughts
Feminism is the radical idea that women are people. People that can reason, think, educate themselves, and make their own decisions. For some men at the end of the 1800s and early 1900s, this was a radical notion, and one that took a great deal of getting used to. Society is still structured around the antiquated notion that the default human is male (I’ll blog more on that another time) and so there is still a deep societal distrust of women who do their own thing, who act differently to others, who stand up for themselves, and they get called names, and pressured to be like everyone else, because a group of women being the same is somehow more comforting.
Ok, I might have made most of that up, or it might be a long chain of thoughts from all the feminist blog posts I’ve read over the past ages, or it might be that I’ve been watching the world from the sidelines from time to time. This post, which is white-Western feminism based, is about what we (and I’m thinking about both society and Western feminists) trust women to do and what we don’t.
This post is partly inspired by Chally’s recent post on religious faith and social justice and on thoughts I was having on the flight over to Malaysia before I fell asleep on the plane. I’m not sure what inspired them exactly, but let me lay them out for you.
If we can trust women to make up their mind on which political candidate they are going to vote for, if we can trust women to decide on which medical procedures and treatment they wish to undertake, if we can trust women to decide on who they do and do not want to sleep with (slightly contentious in rape culture I know), and if we can trust women to make their own moral and ethical decisions, why do so many of us have trouble trusting women deciding to be religious (with all that their specific faith entails)?
Yes there will always be cases where women are pressured into things, that happens with every example I’ve listed above, and no one suggests that women shouldn’t vote because they’re being pressured into voting for a certain candidate, or that they shouldn’t be able to make their own medical decisions because they’re being pressured into it by someone.
Maybe I’m completely misunderstanding the debate about women who follow the strictures of their faith. But from what I’ve heard about politicians and some people who identify as feminists, women are clearly being oppressed by the strictures of their faith – the faith that they have most likely chosen to have.
I am an atheist, I am against organised (generally read as Christian) religion attempting to dictate to me and anyone else who isn’t a member of that faith how to behave. I am for the separation of religion and politics. But most importantly I am for the right for any individual to practise the faith that they believe in if it is doing no harm to anyone else.
As a former Catholic I remember many of the times I questioned whether what I believed in was real, from when I was a child to the day I stopped believing. Perhaps we should give religious women credit that they have also spent time questioning their faith and the strictures of that faith, and that they have made a conscious choice to continue believing and to continue practising their faith. These women do not need to be rescued from an “oppressive religion”, a religion that they probably do not believe to be oppressive – as the nuances and the ways that it is practised will be as individual as each person in that religion.
A great discussion on the comment thread of Stargazer’s post on The Hand Mirror, “yet another burqa post”