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.

 

 

 

 

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.

This is what feminists have to complain about. Really?

Watching the video embedded in this Tweet, UK Sky News reporter gets in a heated debate about men calling women pet names. Yes, really. Now, when it comes to names, I always say that if you call someone a term of endearment or a nickname that they don’t like, then back off and don’t push the issue. I think it’s a matter of respect. And this applies to all people regardless of gender.

But it does make me raise the question, is this all feminists have to complain about? This is the sort of unfunny joke I talked aboutin this post – making EVERYTHING into a bigger deal than what it is while largely turning a blind eye to real issues facing women, particularly those from racial minorities. Since I wrote that article, on the ABC’s “The Drum” last night, they did have a woman talking (very briefly, I must say), about how to combat domestic violence in ATSI communities. So it’s something… I guess.

 

Back to pet names, etc. Again, respect is key. If you’re asked to stop saying/ calling someone a particular name, then stop. But how this has become a major feminist issue – at least in the UK, I just don’t get. Is this all there is? I mean, FGM, the atrocities committed by ISIS and other terrorist groups, domestic violence in racial minority communities… I mean, that’s not worth a mention…. or maybe worth a one – off mention here and there, but is the issue of pet names really more important than these?

There’s another thing too – this idea that men, by default, have to be demonised, for something. Anything. It’s another thing that have men walking on egg shells about. Is this how we want our society to be – a place where our fathers, brothers, uncles, male friends, etc don’t know what to say or how to interact with women in fear that someone might be offended. What would happen if men even starting withholding affection, either verbal or physical, not out of spite, but just out of fear of saying or doing the wrong thing. That would be something, I’m sure most women won’t like.

 

Ladies, we have to start picking our battles and realise that all men are not our enemies. If we continue to treat them like they are, then I can’t help but fear that we’ll end up regretting it.

Feminism and religion – can they co – exist?

This article in Ravishly got me thinking about feminism and religion or spirituality. Many religions – especially Christianity and Islam have come under fire in recent decades over how people, especially the leaders, view and treat women. There is no doubt that there has  been – and still are women treated atrociously in the name of religion – the sex slavery carried out by ISIS in the Middle East is an obvious modern day example. Earlier this year, Herald Sun columnist, Rita Panahi, herself of Iranian – Muslim background – now proclaimed atheist, slammed the celebration of the “burkini” in the Olympics, arguing that it was a form of oppression, and women in Islamic countries had no choice but to wear such restrictive garments. When the French government tried to ban the burkini across the French beaches, it was met with a push back from some Muslims. Columnist for “The Conversation”, slammed it as “politically convenient”. 

 

Christians haven’t escaped criticism. The “purity movement” that dominated American Christianity in the 1990’s and in Australia, trickled in some churches in the way of books, speakers, etc, has received a backlash from Christians and non – Christians alike. Organisations like the American Congress of Obstetrics even went as far as saying that people who grow up in such a culture of shame and are extremely misinformed about their bodies and sexuality during their development suffer similar symptoms to child sexual abuse and incest victims.

Due to strict views to warped views on sexuality and gender, many religions, including Christianity, have failed to protect women from domestic violence and have failed to bring justice to sexual abuse victims. Yazidis in Iraq have also had to reevaluate their views on virginity and sexuality after a number of women have escaped being captured and sold into sex slavery by Islamic State. Over the centuries, issues like modesty, the role of women in public life, the role of women in churches, (i.e. the great Catholic and Anglican divide) and the role of women in marriage are all topics that have plagued the Christian community in the West in one way or the other. Sound oppressive? I’ll let you make up you’re own mind.

Feminism vs religion

Issues like the ones I mentioned above, and issues such as the rights of women in regards to abortion are the barriers between feminists and those who claim a certain faith – especially those who are practising a conservative branch of that faith. It makes anti – sex work advocate, Melinda Tankard – Reist so polarising. Some people claim she’s a feminist, but yet, is conservative and pro – life. There has been a hostility between feminists and people who practice a faith – something that Ravishly columnist, Christine Stoddard, strongly criticises:

All that being said, I cannot stand when people bash, dismiss, and generalize (sic) religion, with no understanding or appreciation for people of faith. It’s true that religion is not perfect and it’s true how some people misinterpret religion is vile- just look at the Westboro Baptist Church and ISIS. But how can you say that the Catholic Church’s charitable refugee relief isn’t necessary? The Catholic Social Teaching on Immigration and the Movement of Peoples is beautiful.

As I pointed out above, Christians in particular are Christians themselves are starting to speak up about rights of people regardless of gender and even arguing using Scripture itself. People are starting to hit back at the sexism that has been, quite frankly, quite prevalent in some Christian circles. I think this has particularly come about because of the increasing of exposure of sexual, emotional, spiritual and physical abuse that both men and women have suffered at the hands of religious leaders, other people in their church or even spouses. Both conservative and progressive Christians are starting to have a frank, overdue discussion about how both men and women are to be treated. It needs to keep going.

Since the invasion of northern Iraq by ISIS, the Yazidis, who like Christians, have long held a traditional, black – and – white view about sex, have had to reevaluate their beliefs, especially on virginity. The traditional Yazidi view saw women who had “lost their virginity”, (i.e. had ANY form of sex, including rape), stigmatised and shunned by society.

So, can you be a feminist and religious? Well, maybe it depends hon who you interpret your branch of faith and what you view feminism to mean. But to me, if you believe in a God that created the universe and everything in it, including people, it’d make sense to stand up for the rights and dignity of all people.

Do you practise a religion or spirituality and do you identify as a feminist?

So – called ‘feminists’ making feminism a laughing stock

No wonder why many women don’t want to be associated with feminism. From the abuse of ‘trigger warnings’, blatant hypocrisy and the never – ending attempts to shut down anyone who isn’t them, modern – day feminism is becoming a (unfunny) joke. The lack of condemnation against a spike of child brides in Australia becoming the latest sickening example (note: the article is only available to paid subscribers).

In the U.S.,  university students presented with a sign giving a ‘trigger warning’ for the showing of the first of a number of Presidential debates.

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(Image: via Sportsgrid)

Unlike some, I’m not against trigger warnings as a principle. I use them myself in my blogging and I also think that it’s not a bad thing. I think it’s actually good for writers to be sensitive to their readers when writing about potentially traumatic or disturbing topics. I believe that it shouldn’t prevent a writer from saying what he/ she/ they want to say, I think it can just be a nice 20 – word heads up to readers about potentially traumatic and/ or disturbing content.

In an educational context, I don’t think it’s a bad thing – it’s a good thing actually – for a teacher/ professor to be sensitive when dealing with potentialy traumatic content. I thinkit’s good forcthem to comfort students who are upset and allow students to calm themselves by leaving the classroom when needed. I remember when I was in Year 10 and we studied ‘A Property of the Clan’ and it’s movie adaptation, ‘Blackrock’, both written by the late Nick Enright. Many Austrakians would be familiar with the play and movie or at least be familiar with the real 1989 murder that inspired it. Many students – including me – were upset, angered and disturbed while studying both the play and film. The teacher at the time was very good at alloepwing the students to express their emotions and sensitive to their feelings. I don’t think it would be a bad thing if university staff did the same thing. However, there is a point when it goes too far. When ‘trigger warnings’ are used as excuses to zshut down debate or demonise someone with a different opinion, that’s when trigger warnings are being abused.

The sign above is what I consider to be an abuse of trigger warnings. Since when has a Presidential/ Prime Ministerial debate contained sexual violence or abuse? Really? Another example of, not abuse of trigger warnings as such, but political correctness gone mad is students at another university campus, tearing down posters advertising a talk by Christina Hoff Summes. She’s a feminist and a Democrat supporter for crying out loud! And yet, flyers, put up by the Young America’s Foundation at the University of California, Los Angeles, because a student said she found them ofensive and that she was practicing ‘free speech’. What I don’t get is, what’s tge wordt Hoff Sommers could possibly say. She’s a critic of the Third Wave of Feminism’ and the PC culture at U.S. university campuses, and I can ser why, quite frankly.

Hoff – Sommers, is not only a feminist and academic, but she’s one of an increasing number of liberals who are starting to retaliate against the modern Left, not dissimilar (I don’t fhink), to the rise of the Alt – Right rebelling against modern day conservate politics. They reject the totalitarianism, abuse and hypocrisy of such that now label themselves as of the Left. They include people like UK’s ‘The Spectator’ columnist, Brendan O’Neill, American commentator and comedian, Dave Rubin, Secular Talk’s Kyle Kulinski, and Australia’s Daily Telegraph columnist and ‘Studio 10’ co – host, Joe Hilderbrand (he has said in the past that he was involved in Left politics at university, yet, rejects the overly aggressive and often violent nature of those on the political Left).

Back to feminism more specifically. Last week on ABC’s ‘The Drum’, ‘The Australian’s’ Senior Writer Sharri Markson clashed with writer for Daily Life blog and controversial feminist figure, Clementine Ford over Ford’s abuse a number of ‘The Australian’s’ columnists on Twitter, with Markson accusing Ford of being a ‘troll’.

Clementine Ford, to be frank, is an example of the reason why many women in particular, disassociate themselves from feminism. While she may have some valid arguments, for example, how women’s genitals shouldn’t be treated like used cars, her propensity to resort to abuse – especially on Twitter – and hypocrisy is what gives feminism in general a bad name.

 

Another point I want to make is how feminism is so selective. I’ve written about this before and I’ll talk about another example this week sometime, but that, too, needs to stop. ALL women – all races and transwomen, should benefit from the actions of feminists, not just a select few. That means trans – misogyny and  racism needs to be condemned within feminist circles. That includes not turning a blind eye to what other women go through (more on that later this week). It really should be all or nothing. Only then, I believe that feminism may stop being an unfunny joke.

 

What is sexism?

Content Warning: some of the links in this post contain articles on underage marriage and such stories on (inevitably) rape may trigger survivors. 

Apparently asking asking women to smile is “sexualisation”. Still can’t understand what makes it ‘sexist’. Commenting on a woman’s “charm” has also been condemned as sexist by the Radio National (RN), on the ABC. The spike of number of child brides in Australia?

*Tweet, tweet, tweet, tweet*. To be fair the ABC has published a few  on – line articles and radio transcripts, such as herehere and here. It’s still a pity that I have to use Google to find any evidence though.

 

People don’t like the Murdoch media (Herald Sun, Daily Telegraph, etc). I get it. But let’s give credit it where it’s due. None of the mainstream media, at least what I’ve seen, a part from the “Daily Telegraph” and a few other media outlets, commented on the worrying increase of children as young as nine being sent overseas to be “married’, i.e. raped, often by much older men. According to current Australian Federal Police statistics, the number of children taken overseas by parents to be subjected to this is 73. I wrote about it here. I argued that there needs to be much more done when it comes to abuse of children – that’s including dealing with cultures that seem to normalise child rape – at least in cultures where it’s widely practised.

 

Women have every right to speak up about behaviour that they find uncomfortable. Men should adhere to cues that women are giving on whether their conduct makes them feel OK. To me, that’s personal autonomy – something that everybody regardless of gender should be free to exercise. And others should always respect the boundaries of the ohter person, including in a professional or platonic context.

But how can something like  what looks like a compliment cause such a storm when the media on the whole is very quiet about children as young as nine being raped by much older men? That is ridiculous. It’s wrong! It’s why feminism continuously gets a bad name! Enough’s enough. We need to stop attacking those who mean no harm and start condemning those who do! There should always be mores that are used to protect the vulnerable, including children, regardless of cultural background. Anything less should not be tolerated.

And let’s stop screaming and calling everything sexist! It doesn’t do anyone any favours. Neither does falsely calling people sexist – including someone who you don’t like or strongly disagree with on ideological grounds. Can we, those who call ourselves feminists – and even those who reject the label but agree with the underlying principles of gender equality, autonomy, etc, use our voices usefully and call out atrocities against women whenever they occur? There are good cause for feminism in the world, but so – called feminists seem to constantly miss the mark.

 

What do you think? Do you label yourself a feminist? Why or why not?

Motherhood – you’re OK if you’re one, and OK if you aren’t

Motherhood.

It’s a word that divides and too often, leaves women feeling unnecessarily guilty – whether they are mothers or not. Christine Stoddard of Ravishly has written about the flak she cops from “feminist” friends for wanting children. On the other hand, women like TV personality Kerri Anne Kennerley has copped a lot of flack for being married without children. Everyone only left her alone when she revealed  to Australian Women’s Weekly trouble conceiving and a miscarriage years earlier..

I think society is (slowly) coming to terms about the fact that some women don’t want, or can’t have children. Actresses like Jennifer Aniston are challenging the whole family narrative altogether, claiming that (I guess the obvious that: “we don’t need to be married or mothers to be complete” . Good on her.

 

Also recently, a Fairfax columnist was slammed on “Sky News’, Paul Murray Live after suggesting that women who aren’t mother don’t know what it’s like to run the country. Former Chief of Staff of Tony Abbott, Peter Credlin choked back tears of rage while she condemned the comments. To those who don’t know, Credlin has had a public battle with infertility that came to light in 2014 after Clive Palmer made snide remarks about Credlin being the main beneficiary of former Prime Minister, Tony Abbott’s Paid Parental Leave scheme.

 

I am sick to death of constant evaluations of women based on whether or not they are mothers. Not only is it not anyone’s business whether someone has children or wants children, I think, as seen by the cases of Peta Credlin and Kerry Anne Kennerley, it can further shame and stigmatise women who have trouble conceiving, have suffered miscarriages or, for whatever reason, can’t find a partner to have a baby with. Stop judging women over things that they don’t always have control over or do something that doesn’t fit a certain script that everyone else has written! Women with AND women without children – for whatever reason – deserve to be cut some slack.

 

Written by a woman who’s not a mother.