Mia Freedman: admirable writer and speaker

Just saw this speech from Mia Freedman about feminism and sex work last year. This was a few years after her comments on sex work on ABC’s Q and A which copped a lot of condemnation from other feminists – especially on Twitter.

I really love the way she spoke and I really admire her as a writer and commentator. Regardless on what you think on what she stands for whether on gay marriage, asylum seekers, sex work, or other issues, etc, I don’t think you can deny her passion, dedication and zeal for the issues she writes/ speaks about. I think she’s very authentic and speaks from the heart.

I haven’t always agreed with her or the way she’s gone about things and have expressed it a few times, including on one of my blogs, but never the less, her passion is admirable. Her talent for writing is undeniable. And she’s a great speaker. In the video, she didn’t stumble over her words once. Who wouldn’t like to be that good at public speaking!

As I have said before, she is a brilliant ally to the LGBTQ+ community. Despite what I think are her mistakes, her allyship is evident and, at least on my part, is appreciated. Her part in asexuality visibility will never be forgotten.

Her recent aim to ‘burst her bubble’ and talk to people she fundamentally disagrees with was very interesting to listen to. She admitted that she listened to/ read and interacted with people she agreed with politically and in the wake of the Donald Trump victory. In a bid to open her mind, she talked to ‘Sky News Australia’s Paul Murray, Daily Telegraph’s Miranda Devine and Andrew Bolt. I applaud all who were involved. All the hree conversations were very cordial on both ends. Freedman was very calm, and wasn’t combative at all. Murray, Devine and Bolt should also be commended for their conduct. It’s nice to hear such friendliness in amidst of never – ending reports of disrespect and a lack of acknowledgement of each other’s humanity. Kudos, Kudos, Kudos!

 

I truly think that Mia Freedman is people can look up to as a writer. She, along with others like Andrew Bolt definitely inspire me to keep writing and keep improving, including in times I really doubt whether I’m good enough to do this and take my writing further. For that, I’m grateful.

 

 

 

 

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Myths about male sexuality and rape

TW: rape

Kudos to Caitlin Bishop who wrote an article on Mamamia male rape victims. This is a topic that is sadly not talked about very often. Too often, female to male rape – especially when the male is in adolescence – is treated like a win, like something a man should want. If it’s a teacher/ student situation, it’s assumed that the victim has a crush on the female teacher anyway. This portrayal is never, if rarely, present when the genders are reversed. Often when men are raped by other men, this can lead men to mistakenly question their sexuality. CASA Forum Fact Sheet puts it:

For heterosexual men, sexual assault can cause confusion or questioning about their sexuality, especially if their body has responded.

Gay victims:

For gay men, sexual assault can lead to feelings of self – blame and self – loathing. attached to their sexuality. There is enough homophobic sentiment in society to make gay men suffer from internal conflicts about their sexuality. Being sexually assaulted may lead a gay man to believe he somehow “deserved it” due to his sexual orientation.

 

I believe that there is one important thing that people need to start realising – men – like women – can refuse sex. They aren’t animals without inhibitions, despite what society says. It’s their right, just as it’s the right of women to refuse sex. Also, the age of consent applies to males as it does females. If a male is underage or when the woman (or man), is in a position of power (teacher, etc), and any sexual contact occurs, then that male has been raped. It’s not a fantasy. It’s not a “dream come true”. It’s not what they “should want”. If a man or teenage boy can’t or won’t give proper consent, then that man has been raped.

For victims who have been raped by other men –  it’s of NO RESEMBLANCE to their sexual orientation. If a man is raped – regardless of sexual orientation – power has been abused. Again, gay men can refuse consent just as straight, bi, asexual, etc men can. They can refuse or withdraw any sexual contact from other men, just like anyone else. This toxic stereotype and over – sexualisation of gay men would not have done gay male victims of rape any justice, and like I quoted above, it exacerbates any internal homophobia that he may have.

The recent Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse saw a number of men speaking out their own experiences of sexual abuse and its aftermath. Recently in the UK, the Football Association has been rocked with historical allegations of sexual abuse by former players. According to BBC, ex – Crewe defender, Andy Woodward was one of the first to speak out without anonymity in November. He alleged that he’d been abused by former football coach and serial paedophile Barry Bennell from ages 11 to 15. Other men that have spoken out include: Steve Walters and former England and Totenham footballer, Paul Stewart.

 

Feminists often talk about toxic masculinity and how it affects women. But I think it’s equally toxic for men. Like I said, no, men are not animals. Yes, they should have choice an autonomy over their body and sexuality just like women. And yes, men can – and refuse sex – from people of any gender. If we don’t get rid of these toxic views on masculinity and sexuality, more male victims are going to suffer in silence.

For Australians who need help dealing with sexual abuse here is a list of helpline numbers across the country  

 

 

 

Intersectionality and feminism

When I wrote about whether or not I class myself as a feminist, a blogger commented saying that feminism needed intersectionality or it wasn’t feminism at all. I agree with this commenter’s sentiment.

I vaguely knew what intersectionality was, but I wasn’t 100% sure. For those who, like me, aren’t fully in the know about intersectionality,  The Telegraph UK puts it:

Intersectionality is a term that was coined by American professor Kimberle Crenshaw in 1989. The concept already existed but she put a name to it. The textbook definition states:

“The view that women experience oppression in varying configurations and in varying degrees or intensity. Cultural patterns of oppression are not only interrelated, but are bound together and influenced by the intersectional systems of society. Examples of this include race, gender, class ability and ethnicity”. 

In other words, certain groups of women have multilayered facets in life that they have to deal with. There is no one – size – fits – all type of feminism. For example, I [the columnist] am a black woman and as a result I face both racism and sexism as I navigate around everyday life.

Even though the concept of intersectionality in feminism has been around for decades, it only seems to have made it into mainstream debate in the past year or so. And yet, still so many people are confused by what it means or what it stands for.

There’s more to the article, but you get the idea. Reading through the article and thinking about the recent comment on my last post here, I’ve come to the conclusion that people who call themselves “feminists” – and feminist publications – need to be more inclusive on all fronts. Like I’ve said before, struggles from women of colour, such as domestic violence in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities have been talked about, but I fear only as an afterthought and very, very rarely.

 

The triviality of modern – day Western “feminism” is making Millennials run away from the issue. Like I wrote about at the time, former Indigenous Adviser to Tony Abbott, Warren Mundine condemned Australian feminists to being largely silent on the violence epidemic in ATSI communities. Columnist for the “Herald Sun, Rita Panahi has condemned Australian feminists for being trivial and largely ignoring the suffering of women under Islamic State rule in Iraq and Syria.

If feminism is all about intersectionality and caring for the rights of ALL women, regardless of their ethnicity, race, religion, class, etc, then, I’ve got to ask, does Australia in particular and maybe the West as a whole, have a feminist movement at all? Can what we have in the west be classed as “feminism”? There does seem to be a lot of whitewashing of so – called “feminism” for sure, with sporadic voices from people of colour sprinkled in. Surely we can do better than that! I stand by my last post, there has been good work and advocacy done by self – described feminists. But there is definitely room for improvement. And, there does need to be more voices – like the columnist at Daily Mail UK that I linked above – from women of colour talking about their own experiences or both racism and sexism and feminists working together to stamp that out.

 

I know I keep referring to the same sources and the same names. Maybe I’m missing something. Do you know of any feminists who do intersectionality and including women of colour really well and often or is the lack of intersectionality a problem across the board? Let me know what you think in the comments.

Melania vs Gigi – what are your thoughts?

Recently, I wrote a post slamming Gigi Hadid for mocking future First Lady Melania Trump. While I still don’t like the idea of anyone being mocked, after reading this article, I’m starting to question what I wrote and how a commenter was right about Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton.

So, what do you guys think? Should Gigi Hadid apologise for her parody? Has Melania Trump been treated more unfairly than other First Ladies?

Am I a feminist?

Lately, I’ve trawled YouTube and have been watching videos on different women and how they view feminism. A number of them classify themselves as “anti – feminist” or neither anti or pro feminist. Here are just some of the videos I’ve watched lately.

Content warning: coarse language

OK, that’s one of the videos I’ve seen in the past couple of weeks. I have seen others, but haven’t found them (note to self – keep titles of YouTube videos in mind or written down!).

Anyway, just trawling through the videos just then (there are MANY both pro and anti feminist videos out there), a question came to me – am I a feminist?

Well, it depends what you mean by “feminist”. These days, I believe the term has been hijacked by social justice warriors that have made women in particular run from the label. When you have “feminists” like Clementine Ford and Van Badham, I, like other Millennials want to run away from the label faster than you can say “I am woman”. Also, there are a lot of myths that have plagued feminism, like the 1 in 5 rape statistic in America that is apparently debunked:

 

Closer to home, feminists have been accused of pursuing trivial causes, while ignoring the suffering of women in the Middle East and Africa under Islamic rule. Feminists have also been accused of ignoring the domestic violence epidemic in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, particularly in the Northern Territory. To be fair to feminists, sites like Mamamia have reported on DV in ATSI communities, but it has been few and far in between from what I’ve seen, which, if I’m looking properly, is disappointing. Then again, it’s not hard to do. I’ve only written about the issue once. Then, there’s the whole political correctness overkill, trigger warnings overkill, etc, etc. Yep, it’s turned into a bit of an unfunny joke, really.

 

However, there are feminist blogs I do read and I do agree with some of the sentiments. Sites like Ravishly are very inclusive and do give voice to women of colour, as well as Caucasian women, including many LGBTQ+ women. I do have respect for how they allow women to talk about different struggles such as mental illness. Also, again, closer to home, last week, in light of disability awareness, Mamamia did a great job giving voices to women affected by a physical disability or looking after a grown child with a disability. Despite the criticisms I’ve made toward publisher, Mia Freedman, I do admire her for her advocacy a number of causes, many of which her and the rest of the Mamamia team do very well.

So, feminist publications do a good job in raising awareness about issues. But, am I a feminist?

To be honest, I’m actually not sure. I mean, I do write and care about women’s rights, yet, I’m critical of modern day feminism. Then again, I can see that, without going to the fringes, feminists can do good. I haven’t been actively involved in feminist activism or anything (I used to get quite involved on – line, but not anymore). I think if you take away the blown up statistics, the seeming exclusion of minorities, especially the plight of ATSI women, hypocrisy, etc, then I guess you could say, yeah, I am a feminist. It’s not perfect by any means, and like I said, there are people that give it a bad name, but I don’t think the overall cause in and of itself isn’t bad. If we, including me, as feminist can drop the double – standards, triviality and stand up for all women, then I think feminism can be made even better.

 

What are you? Feminist? Anti – feminist or something else? Who are feminists past or present that you respect?

First Cleo, now Dolly – what does that mean for women’s media?

First, women’s magazine, Cleo finished production earlier this year. Now, teen mag Dolly has faced the same fate. Publisher Bauer Media Group confirmed the closing on Wednesday. Former Editor – and the youngest editor they ever had, Lisa Wilkinson said that the closure was “inevitable”, and put it down in part to the magazine not adapting to the digital age quick enough.

Dolly was a fairly large part of my life growing up, in a way. I read it from 14 to about 17 – the age target. I generally skipped over the model, celebrity and boy stuff. I read the Dolly Doctor and gained some fairly useful information from it. I read articles on things that,  weren’t talked about around me…. I’ll leave it at that. I also loved the career articles they had. I remember when I was about 17 – 18, I read about working in Marketing and I was obsessed with the idea of studying it – especially when I found out that it was available both in a town near where I live and through Open Training and Education Network (OTEN). It didn’t come into fruition, obviously (yet?), but, it peaked my interest, anyway.

 

Another iconic magazine has ended, now what? What does that mean for women’s media? Will print media survive at all? Will this give rise to more independent media outlets? Questions remain, but one thing seems to be certain – the media landscape is changing. Traditional media, without modification – can  no longer survive. I wonder if this also goes to content as well. Do teenage girls want more from their magazines? More of what, exactly?

I wonder whether the collapse of women’s magazines industry is partly due to simply the rise of the Internet. People don’t have to turn to magazines anymore for advice on sex, relationships or even celebrity gossip. It’s all on – line, including social media (following celebrities on Instagram, liking the Pages on Facebook, etc). Yet, digital media hasn’t been totally immune from being shut down, either. In March last year, women’s site The Hoopla created by ABC’s Wendy Harmer announced closing down the site, citing tough competition from the likes of Newscorp, according to women’s site, Mumbrella.

 

So, what now? Maybe media outlets, bloggers, etc who’s target is women need to change their whole approach – the media types (i.e. incorporating print with digital), but also content – what do women – particularly young women – want to read? Times are definitely changing. Maybe attitudes and demands are changing, so are needs, wants, values of women around the world – particularly the West. The question is how can a media organisation or independent blog/ site creator create content that suits these changes, because somewhere along the line, wants are not being met, at least from what I see.

Anyway. I’ll leave further speculation to others.

 

Did you read Dolly? What did you get out of it? Feel free to share your experiences in the coments.