The Dawn Chorus

Fresh Australian Feminism

Posts Tagged ‘sexism’

Loss of basic female skills or loss of basic journalistic skills?

Posted by Mel Campbell on January 31, 2011

(This post is cross-posted at Crikey.)

There’s an article by Helen Dow currently on News.com.au (originally in Queensland’s Sunday Mail) reporting on some findings from social research consultancy McCrindle Research in Sydney: namely, that Generation Y are losing basic skills of self-care and self-sufficiency. Here are some of the stats from the story:

  • Only 51 per cent of survey respondents aged under 30 can cook a roast, compared with 82 per cent of baby boomers.
  • Only 20 per cent of young respondents can bake lamingtons; 45 per cent of respondents aged over 30 can.
  • Only 23 per cent of young respondents can grow a plant from a cutting; 78 per cent of older respondents can.
  • And only 40 per cent of respondents under 30 can drive manual cars, compared to 71 per cent of older respondents.

Notice that I have deliberately elided the issue of whether the respondents were male or female, and I have not generalised out from the survey sample to the wider Australian population.

Looking at the stats alone, this could actually be an interesting story about our culture of affluence, disposability and general alienation from the means of production. Unfortunately, this report spuriously claims that these are “female skills”. (No, Sunday Mail, putting scare quotes around ‘female’ doesn’t absolve you of knee-jerk sexism, especially when you choose to illustrate your story with goofy pictures of women wielding cooking and cleaning equipment.)

This is a cheap, distasteful reporting strategy aimed at enraging readers who will circulate the story and comment on it, generating advertising revenue. At the time of writing, the story had 88 comments. However, rather than merely getting angry at the perpetuation of these cynically sexist ideas, it’s important to understand how stories like this are developed – and to demand better responses from journalists.

This story angle has most likely been generated by a McCrindle press release. The stereotypes about which skills are ‘male’ and ‘female’ were decided on by the research company and the angle was ‘packaged’ in the release.

Although there are no press releases on the McCrindle site pertaining to this research, another similar release came out from McCrindle on 29 November 2010, entitled “Men of 2010″. Obediently, both the Herald Sun (“Modern man is a bit of a drip”) and Daily Telegraph (“Men losing their traditional skill set”) reported on the decline of traditional “man skills”. The Hez story was a straight rip of the presser, while the Tele found a representative man to interview – probably via a site such as SourceBottle.

However, it’s the job of really good journalists to question the way PR-led stories are presented. The principles of journalism prize not taking things at face value: always getting two sides to any story and looking for the deeper causes of a situation. Rather than replicating the angle provided in the release, a much more critically engaged response from the journalist would have been to get on the phone and on the internet, and find out from independent sources whether the information is reliable.

For a start, I’d like to see some corollary statistics about the prevalence of automatic cars on Australian roads, the number of young people living in urban areas without gardens, the number of young people living at home where they’re not primarily responsible for cooking, and the consumer culture of disposability that means we think it’s easier just to buy things and throw them away rather than to make, maintain, fix and nurture.

If it’s difficult to find these statistics via the limited amount of research time that newsroom journalists have at their disposal, then they need to find an expert who does have access to them. A journalist could seek comment from someone not associated with McCrindle – perhaps an academic working in sociology or gender studies, or another social researcher who’s done similar work.

A journalist on his or her toes (and, sadly, they often seem to give this genre of story to female reporters) could even just call Mark McCrindle and ask him, straight up, to back up his claims with quantitative evidence: how did his company assign particular skill sets to ‘men’ and ‘women’? Did the survey respondents themselves associate certain skills with certain genders – or did the researchers design that association into their survey?

This story is the end of a chain of assumptions that nobody has seen fit to question. But the profession of journalism should make assumption-busting its first order of business.

Posted in Media Watch | Tagged: , , , | 13 Comments »

Would this fly if we had a male PM?

Posted by Mel Campbell on December 21, 2010

This cartoon by Bill Leak, published in today’s Australian, isn’t garden-variety media sexism. It’s an appallingly ill-judged combination of callousness and racism surrounding the Christmas Island asylum seeker shipwreck disaster, and to make matters worse, there’s a jocular rapeyness directed at the prime minister of this country.

Readers, I’m talking about this:

“A hell of a hammering”? It really does beggar belief that Leak could think of no better way to dramatise the political trials Gillard faces over Australia’s asylum seeker policies than to show the prime minister as a distressed, brutalised object.

Depressingly, though, I almost suspect that Leak’s editor at The Australian knew exactly how tasteless and dull-witted the cartoon was, and approved its publication anyway in order to court controversy, and hence, boost circulation and pageviews.

I really struggle to think of any other political cartoon that degrades the holder of the highest executive office in this country in such an ill-conceived, unfunny way. Imagery of shipwrecks and stormy seas has been used extensively in political cartoons in the past – especially in relation to asylum seeker issues – but even a besieged prime minister is usually depicted as a captain going down with his ship, flailing in the sea or clinging to a life raft. Not battered and bruised, on all fours. Not with a police officer standing there, coolly refusing to help.

This is the second time in two days the Australian media have disrespected the Prime Minister. Yesterday, actual airtime and column inches were devoted to gossipy speculation over whether the very publicly unmarried Gillard had finally got engaged, since she was spotted at a press conference wearing a large sparkly ring on her engagement finger.

When asked about the ring, Gillard made light of it. “We have got to that stage in a press conference where it’s got a bit silly,” she retorted.

“I have had that ring for a long period of time and I miscellaneously wear it on my left hand or my right hand, depending on how much handwriting I’m doing. … If it will make you feel better, I’ll slip it back on to the right hand.”

If a male prime minister were spotted without his wedding ring, would the Australian media interrupt a press conference about the National Broadband Network to ask him if he’d left his wife? Let journalists criticise Gillard’s policies all they like, but to discredit them, and her, on the basis of her gender is appalling.

Posted in Media Watch, Politics, sexual assault | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

Reasons to not vote for Tony

Posted by caitlinate on August 5, 2010

In no particular order…

“The problem with the Australian practice of abortion is that an objectively grave matter has been reduced to a question of the mother’s convenience.”

“If half the effort were put into discouraging teenage promiscuity as goes into preventing teenage speeding, there might be fewer abortions, fewer traumatised young women and fewer dysfunctional families.”

“Why isn’t the fact that 100,000 women choose to end their pregnancies regarded as a national tragedy approaching the scale, say, of Aboriginal life expectancy being 20 years less than that of the general community?”

- From an address to the Adelaide University Democratic Club, 17 March 2004.

“Since 1996, contrary to poltical correctness, the Australian parliament has overturned right-to-kill laws and (almost) banned gay marriage. Perhaps a political constituency may even be starting to emerge to ban abortions after 20 weeks. “

- From a speech delivered at the CIS Consilium in Queensland, July 31 2004.

“The problem is backyard miscarriages if unscrupulous doctors prescribe these drugs for desperate women. “

“If an application did come to me, I would have to satisfy myself that compelent doctors would administer the drug in safe circumstances to women who had fully considered the alternatives and understood the risks”

- On RU486, 6 February 2006.

“Even if dispossession is taken to mean that government has a higher responsibility to Aborigines than to other Australians, the production of beautiful art and connectedness to the land does not warrant the maintenance of a way of life also characterised by unemployment, substance abuse and domestic violence. If people choose to live in difficult to service places, that’s their business.”

- From an article published in The Australian, 27 June 2008.

“I know Bernie is very sick, but just because a person is sick doesn’t mean that he is necessarily pure of heart in all things.”

- Said to Channel 9 reporter about asbestos sufferer and social justice campaigner Bernie Banton, October 2007.

“…we just can’t stop people from being homeless if that’s their choice…”

- Said to a Catholic social services conference, February 2010.

“I think it would be folly to expect that women will ever dominate or even approach equal representation in a large number of areas simply because their aptitudes, abilities and interests are different for physiological reasons”

- Quote from an undergraduate piece he wrote on feminism, featured in this GetUp ad that also highlights other quotes.

TONY JONES: So are you making a case against teaching in indigenous languages? Is that what – I’m trying to get on top of the point you’re making.

TONY ABBOTT: Well, I am making that case.

- From Q&A, 27 August 2009.

“You don’t have to be a Catholic to be troubled by the current abortion culture”

- From Sunday Profile, 12 June 2005.

“…Jesus didn’t say yes to everyone. I mean Jesus knew that there was a place for everything and it is not necessarily everyone’s place to come to Australia.”

“Now, I know that there are some Aboriginal people who aren’t happy with Australia Day. For them it remains Invasion Day. I think a better view is the view of Noel Pearson, who has said that Aboriginal people have much to celebrate in this country’s British Heritage”

- From Q&A, 5 April 2010.

“The Government accepts that some 14 and 15-year-olds might prefer that their parents not know about the medical procedures they have had or the prescription drugs they are on. But children should not be presumed to be the best judges of their own long-term interests and should not have the right to go behind their parents’ backs… The real issue here is whether 14 and 15-year-olds can make informed decisions about what is right and wrong for them. And if they don’t have that capacity, should they be allowed to operate in a moral and ethical vacuum?”

- On Howard legislation giving parents access data about government benefits provided to their teenagers (for example, young women’s Medicare claims related to contraceptive advice), June 2004.

“The point I make in the book is that a society… is surely capable of providing additional recognition to what might be thought of as traditional marriage…. Something akin to a Matrimonial Causes Act marriage ought to be an option for people who would like it.”

- On the reintroduction of at fault-divorce, July 2009.

On queer people being members of a Catholic congregation:

“…if you’d asked me for advice I would have said to have – adopt a sort of “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy about all of these things…”

On aid to the ‘third world’ funding abortions:

“I just think that surely there are higher priorities for Australia than funding things like that.”

On whether a national celibacy campaign would be helpful to counter the rise in teen sexual activity, sexual infections and pregnancies:

“I think that it’s very important that we empower people to reject this kind of rampant sensuality.”

- From Q&A, 19 March 2009.

“It’s the responsibility of government to try to put policies in place which over time will allow people to improve their situation. But we can’t abolish poverty because poverty in part is a function of individual behaviour.

We can’t stop people drinking; we can’t stop people gambling; we can’t stop people having substance problems; we can’t stop people from making mistakes that cause them to be less well-off than they might otherwise be. “

“Western civilisation came to this country in 1788 and I’m proud of that…”

- From Four Corners, 15 March 2010

LIZ HAYES: Homosexuality? How do you feel about that?

TONY ABBOTT: I’d probably I feel a bit threatened…

“I’d always been against the death penalty but that contemplating the enormity of certain sort of crimes I sometimes thought that some crimes were so hideous that if the punishment were to fit maybe we were left with no alternative but the death penalty.”

- From an interview on 60 minutes, March 2010

LEIGH SALES: What was “threatened” referring to?

TONY ABBOTT: Well, there is no doubt that it challenges, if you like, orthodox notions of the right order of things…

- From an interview on Lateline, March 2010

Mr Speaker, we have a bizarre double standard; a bizarre double standard in this country where some-one who kills a pregnant woman’s baby is guilty of murder, but a woman who aborts an unborn baby is simply exercising choice.

- In Parliament (pdf), 15 Feb 2006.

Racism used to be offered as the complete explanation for Aboriginal poverty, alienation and early death. Racism hasn’t disappeared. Still, if racism caused poverty, why hasn’t poverty declined as racism diminished.

- From a paper presented to The Bennelong Society (pdf), September 2004.

“What the housewives of Australia need to understand as they do the ironing is that if they get it done commercially it’s going to go up in price and their own power bills when they switch the iron on are going to go up, every year….”

- Previously covered here at TDC, March 2010.

” I think there does need to be give and take on both sides, and this idea that sex is kind of a woman’s right to absolutely withhold, just as the idea that sex is a man’s right to demand I think they are both they both need to be moderated, so to speak”

- From Q&A, 19 March 2009.

Posted in Media Watch, Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 77 Comments »

Degradation of women is not the new black

Posted by mscate on January 22, 2010

I was disgusted to read last night about the new Roger David t shirts that are being sold.

Pics and discovery of these t shirts from here

The t shirts are a new range called “Blood is the new black”. Gagging women, sexual violence, degradation…I mean seriously how can these things be depicted as acceptable themes in fashion?  Many of us have long contended that there are sexism and misogny in fashion (see American Apparel’s use of retail staff semi naked in their ads) but this takes things to a new level. I have to wonder who had the great idea of featuring degrading, dehumanising photographs of women on these t shirts. It’s not edgy, it’s not cool, it’s not provocative, it’s simply ridiculous and shows a deep contempt for women. It suggests that violence against women is something which should be sexualised and viewed by a mainstream audience. The name alone, is suggesting that blood (and violence) is in fashion. This is not ok.

These images present the message  that it’s ok to present women as restained, dehumanised, blind folded, gagged, mute and blind, their helplessness a  source of sexual pleasure.

On the Roger David facebook group, the owner states:

Blood Is The New Black offers independent artists the opportunity the display their work and points of views on one of the most common threads in society, the T-shirt. As with any of “the arts,” discussion, discourse and debate is often sparked, due to unique and controversial ideas. Art is meant to inspire and educate, and the meaning and interpretation is left in the hands of the viewer – we are here to inspire ideas, not mediate or control them.

The artist Dan Monick believes there is little to no meaning behind the shot. “She was wearing a headband and it started to slide down her face and she bit it. The shot is a snapshot from me and Annie hanging out, it is not a premeditated image. I took 3 frames. If I had put any meaning behind the image it’s more about the messed up aspects of Hollywood silencing individuality and unique voice. It’s about Hollywood silencing the human.”

Err… nice attempt at saving face hiding behind the excuse that it’s all about ‘art’.  Sounds more like a deliberate ploy to get in the media with some offensive pics. I’ll be interested to see if anyone buys the t shirts, I’d hate  to think of a friend, male relative, or young person thinking such t shirts are acceptable because they are created by an artist.  Blood will never be the new black. Sexual violence should never be in fashion. Ever.

Write to Roger David here to show your disgust.

Posted in art, Fashion, Sex Crimes, sexual assault | Tagged: , , , , | 10 Comments »

Does This Ad Make YOU Want To Read Essential Baby?

Posted by Clem Bastow on November 24, 2009

How much do I not want to click-through to Essential Baby today? Let me count the ways:

So, for those keeping score, that’s a faceless/objectified (pregnant) woman, wearing “sexy” lingerie, referred to as “like mini-vans”, under the banner “Pregnant women: hot or not?” and all within an ad roughly the size of a credit card. I believe that’s some sort of a record!

Yes, that is precisely how they are advertising Fairfax Digital’s parenting site via sidebars on TheAge.com.au. The ad links to “Essential Baby blogger” Joseph Kelly’s blog entry on whether or not he found his wife – the aforementioned “transportational unit for conveying children” (which isn’t as offensive as the decontextualised excerpt might suggest).

Stay classy, Essential Baby!

Posted in body image, Family, Media Watch, Parenting & Family, Watching The Ad Breaks | Tagged: , , , , | 6 Comments »

The pastel divide

Posted by Nic Heath on November 11, 2009

Code Pink, posted by Lauren Sandler at Mother Jones’ Culture & Media blog, examines the implications of the gendered pink-blue split among children. Gender as represented by pink and blue goads me particularly because it is emblematic of the first step of applying gender to an individual; the first aesthetic step in a socialising process that will ultimately determine or at least heavily influence lifelong behaviour, relationships, occupations, treatment at the hands of others, education etc.

Dressing a newborn in either pink or blue is not a benign social tradition. Like expecting a woman to change her name upon marriage, it is an unquestioned convention that is hugely symbolic – in this case of the enormous gulf between sex and gender, and the widespread indifference to this disparity. In contemporary society pink and blue each carry codes of behaviour that children comprehend at a very young age. From Code Pink:

“Pink itself isn’t the problem; it’s the message it conveys. That troubling message…is that girls and boys are deeply dissimilar creatures from day one. Lise Eliot [a neuroscientist and the author of Pink Brain, Blue Brain: How Small Differences Grow Into Troublesome Gaps—and What We Can Do About It] argues that the pink-blue split shapes some enduring assumptions about babies’ emotional lives—at a time when girls’ and boys’ brains are almost entirely alike.”

A girl in pink will be encouraged to be passive and appearance obsessed. She will have different opportunities to her brother in blue, and different expectations placed upon her. Despite her own personality, she will have been shaped by forces beyond her control all her life – without ever really exercising her choice.

Monica Dux highlights how dramatically young girls can be affected by adherence to gender colour-codes and its accompanying behavioural baggage.

“Like raunch culture, the fairy princess aesthetic and its associated paraphernalia serve to entrench an extremely narrow idea of femininity, impressing on young girls that they are pretty, flighty little objects to be admired and marvelled at, rather than active young things seeking out adventure.

“This reinforces a passive understanding of what it is to be female, encouraging fantasies that are focused less on action, and far more on how you look. Of course, fairies and princesses can have adventures, but hyper-feminised modes of dressing put the focus squarely on appearance, teaching girls that self-worth is measured by how pretty you are, and not by what you do.”

The gender split that begins with the pink/blue dichotomy has other more sinister effects.  Kate Townshend, a British primary teacher, has written about ‘gender in the playground’ for the F-Word. Calling on her experience in the classroom, she links infant pink to the sexualisation of young girls – a topic which has had a great deal of media attention in recent years.

“They don’t call it grooming for nothing, and it starts with the indoctrination of ‘pink’ for girls from infant-hood onwards. Or so say the organisers of Pink Stinks, “a campaign and social enterprise that challenges the ‘culture of pink’ which invades every aspect of girls’ lives”. They argue that by the time they reach their teens, female children have a life-time of learning to become sexual objects behind them, so perhaps we should be far from surprised when 10-year-olds start clamouring for the latest porn star t-shirt, or worrying that their legs are too short…

“These kinds of attitudes hurt children of both sexes, not least because they leave them bereft of positive examples of male-female interaction in the media world they tend to worship and adore. But though they lack the words to articulate it, it seems obvious in some of the schools I go into that the boys know things are weighted in their favour, at least in the short term. By 11, they have already learnt that calling a girl fat effectively finishes the argument. It doesn’t matter whether she is actually fat or not. It has become a code word which makes it clear that since female self worth is built upon looks, it is easily destroyed by male indifference or antagonism.”

All of this is fairly self-evident. What is illuminating is that this convention, so entrenched as to be accepted as reflecting human nature, is a relatively recent social development:

“Assigning colour to gender is mostly a twentieth century trait. It should be noted that it is a practice limited most often to Western Europe and the Americas. It would also seem that the effect of colour-coded gender differences (pink for girls, blue for boys) existed oppositely initially.”

As Sandler explains in Code Pink, “this was a nod to symbolism that associated red with manliness; pink was considered its kid-friendly shade. Blue was the color of the Virgin Mary’s veil and connoted femininity.”

Which makes pseudo-scientific breakthroughs that support an evolutionary basis for every perceived gender difference, from a woman’s predeliction for shopping to a man’s fear of commitment, look ridculous – such as this one linking the pink/blue split to blue skies and blushing berries in our prehistory.

Still, pink for girls and blue for boys remains the dominant code used to consider sex and gender, and this stereotype is exploited and perpetuated by advertisers.  

So colour-coded gender and the ideology it represents – clearly such an effective marketing tool – is not likely going anywhere soon.

razor-women

Venus women's razor

razor-men

Schick Quattro Titanium men's razor

Posted in Parenting & Family | Tagged: , , , , , | 8 Comments »

Travails of beauty

Posted by Nic Heath on August 6, 2009

The beauty industry, and how much money women invest in it, has popped up on my radar a couple of times recently.

‘Because I’m Worth It’, in the July 25 Good Weekend, runs through the expenditure of four women on maintaining their appearance. The article’s author, Maggie Alderson, posits that in one school of thinking, 

‘…adequate personal care is – like doing your tax return, being punctual and saying thank you – an adult responsibility.’

 Furthermore,

 ‘…leg-hair is a complex grooming issue, requiring military-precision planning to be smooth on key dates…which is why I invested serious time and money having mine permanently lasered off.’

 And final advice:

‘Choose a significant person – an ex, a work nemesis, the other woman, or the one who got away – and be exactly as gorgeous as you would like to be if you happened to run into them by chance. Every day.’

I have two major concerns with this ‘belief system’. One – the expense. Multinationals’ profits depend on women feeling insecure about their appearance. Canna Campbell spends $17754 a year on beauty, Wendi Snyder $19016, Mary Shackman $11187 and Vina Chipperfield $19090.

The second is pain and/or discomfort. Canna Campbell is my age – 28 – and has been having Botox injections for 18 months. Vina Chipperfield, 39, says:

‘I loathe having Brazilian waxes, which I get every two months. I really have to psych myself up.’

 And then, ratcheting up the pain/discomfort scale, last week ABC2 screened The Ugly Truth abut Beauty, a documentary charting journalist Kate Spicer’s dalliance with cosmetic medicine. Spicer approaches her mission with equal measures of enthusiasm and cynicism – while like many women ‘not 100% happy with her appearance’, she is not the stock-standard candidate for cosmetic medicine. In an article published in The Australian she writes:

‘Previously, I had found cosmetic surgery curious, fascinating, not for me. Instinct told me it formed the deepest, darkest recesses of the misogynistic capitalist system that is the beauty industry.’

On ABC’s site:

This film follows Kate as she immerses herself in the wide range of bizarre, radical and invasive procedures now on offer to normal women willing to undergo a gruelling quest for exquisite, youthful looks. Just how far is Kate willing to go? And will it be worth it?

With a personal interest in improving her looks and a beauty industry cynic’s interest in exploring just how easy it is to be sucked into the world of cosmetic improvement, Kate wants to find out what’s really involved in our quest to look beautiful. “I’ve got two motivations here,” says Kate. “One is can I get to look better? Can I get to look hotter? But there is a more earnest desire – to try to be the guinea pig that illustrates just how ridiculously seductive that world is”.

After a few rounds of Botox, the final procedure on Kate’s face is performed with Fraxel laser technology. It makes for singularly disturbing vision. Metal plates are put over Kate’s eyeballs, while her voiceover tells us she was so medicated that this didn’t bother her, and the rest I couldn’t tell you because I couldn’t watch it. The immediate effects were bloody; she looked as though she’d been punched in the face or worse, a number of times.

Describing a photograph taken straight after the treatment, Spicer says:

‘It’s of a glassy-eyed woman, drugged up on Xanax and morphine, with eyeballs that appear to be weeping bloody tears, her skin red, oozing and bruised, and her eyelids glossy and raw like tuna tartare.’

It wasn’t Kate Spicer’s face though that was the most affecting consequence of the procedure. In the clinic, she’s laid low. She clearly feels terrible. She speaks of feeling depressed – the woman attending to her suggests it could be from the drug cocktail she’s ingested. And yet as the doco finishes, Kate suggests she likely hasn’t had her last Botox injection.

Writer Emily Maguire, delivering her speech ‘The Accidental Feminist’ for the Pamela Denoon lecture earlier in the year, says it pretty simply. It is that women are constantly being given the message that they are not good enough just as they are. A woman needs to cleanse, pluck, tone, wax, scrub, moisturise, bleach, alter, amend, enhance etc.

Kate Spicer certainly hasn’t glamourised cosmetic surgery, but she shows how hard it is for (some) women to resist the constant pressure to look a certain way – and to go to great lengths while trying. With so much money invested in the beauty industry – made clear by the lists of products and treatments upon which Good Weekend’s four featured women spend their money – I can’t see the pressure to look younger/better/different lessen anytime soon.

Posted in Fashion | Tagged: , , , , , | 9 Comments »

One more thing about the Hottest 100

Posted by Nic Heath on July 31, 2009

Triple J’s Hottest 100 (OF ALL TIME!) has generated a lot of comment for its rather mannish aspect. I don’t mind, obviously, that it is last fortnight’s news (and now it is another radio station in the news) – I’m all for an ongoing conversation about where women figure, and how well they fare, in popular culture. And if it is even an issue at all.

There is a good list of links to various articles and posts on the topic at Hoyden About Town. Clem Bastow covered it for The Age, listing the women who did make it into the poll, while Mel Campbell, at The Enthusiast, worried that ‘the Hottest 100 also legitimises radio industry strategies that ignore women.’

The skewed result may seem like a blip on the radar when viewed in isolation, but I think it becomes more like a worrying trend when considered alongside other cultural lists – like this year’s Miles Franklin Award shortlist. All men there too. And again, it isn’t like there are no books written by women worthy of being included in this particular shortlist. Pavlov’s Cat posted a great response to this ‘aberration’.

So that is mainstream popular culture. Away from official recognition of cultural pursuits there are women being creative and garnering interest – anecdotally, I went to a day-long gig on Sunday which was headlined by Beaches, an all-female group who I don’t think identify as being unusual because of that.

Sophie Best, from Melbourne’s Mistletone (which released Beaches’ album), gave me a fresh perspective on the skew last week – citing shocking conservatism – and I’ll give her my last word:

There’s obviously so many great female artists. I get really mad when people do articles about women in rock, I find it really patronizing because women have been making music, women have been a huge part of music since the music industry began. Before there was even an industry women have always played music! I find it really strange when people act as thought there’s something unusual about women playing music.

I’ll give you my personal theory if you like. I think it’s because the very idea of music being a competition, you know that there’s a ladder, and that there’s a contest and someone’s going to come out on top, is inherently a male idea. To me that seems to come from the sporting world, you know, the idea that someone’s the best, they’re going to win, they’re going to be on top, it sounds like footballism to me and to me it’s nothing to do with what music and art is about. I said I didn’t blame Triple J but maybe I do blame them for actually making music into a sport like that..

I always hate those lists, they’re always really bad…they always come up with the most god-awful winners. And if you think about it even yourself if you had to do a list, it’s really hard to do, to say what are the best songs. It’s a ridiculous question…My assessment of that is that the whole concept of having a hottest 100 is male, in that clichéd way of the male way of being competitive. I don’t think music is about that, I don’t think music is about whose best. I don’t think it’s a competition.

Posted in Interviews, music | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

When Supermarkets Are More Aware Of What Women Want Than The Government

Posted by Clem Bastow on July 2, 2009

One of my – and I’m sure many other Australians’, female and male – biggest bugbears is the fact that the Rudd Government has flatly refused to remove the GST on women’s sanitary products that was brought in approximately fifty thousand years earlier by the Howard Government when the GST was introduced to Australia. Their refusal to bin, as my friend Mel called it on Twitter, “the world’s stupidest and most sexist tax” suggests that there are people in the Rudd Government who honestly believe that tampons and pads are monthly “luxury” items and not feminine hygiene essentials.

Well, I never thought I’d live to see the day that a supermarket chain drew attention to the idiocy of the ‘tampon tax’ – which it’s worth adding is nearing its 10th birthday – in a marketing campaign: Coles will be “paying” the GST on all women’s essentials for the next week as one of their specials. I spotted a television ad during morning tele today, and here’s the word-up from Coles’ website (emphasis mine), in this instance regarding Carefree liners (though all sanitary items are included in the special):

You shouldn’t be taxed for being a woman. Coles will pay the GST to the government for all feminine hygiene products bought in our stores, so that you don’t have to.

It’s a shame that the special only lasts for the next week, but in terms of a statement made within an economic climate and retail industry that generally wants women to spend as much as they possibly can (or perhaps more correctly, can’t – hello credit cards) on anything and everything, I find it quite revolutionary. Sure, it’s a marketing ploy – they want you to spend your dollars at Coles – but the fact that they are also willing to highlight the ridiculous nature of the ‘tampon tax’ in the meantime is heartening and suggests that, unlike our Government, someone high up in Coles is actually listening to what Australian women want. (If you’d like to send Coles a thumbs-up, you can do so here.)

So, for the nth time, Prime Minister Rudd and Mr Swan: WHY ARE WOMEN STILL BEING TAXED FOR GETTING THEIR PERIODS?

Update at 12.30pm: here’s the catalogue page, too, in all its newsprinty glory:

Picture 61

Can we say it’s a small handful of loose change, but one giant change for womankind?

Posted in Business, Media Watch, Parenting & Family, Politics, Watching The Ad Breaks, Women's Health | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 12 Comments »

Fairfax can do better

Posted by Nic Heath on July 1, 2009

Fairfax’s nest of gender stereotypes, the online Life & Style section has some smashing content to provoke a mid-week ponder.

Thanks Lisa Pryor for asking what men want in a wife, and thanks too to the subs who stuck ‘Maid to Order’ on the graphic linking to the story. Domestic help then I gather.

I hope included in this story simply for effect, ‘nightclub impresario’ Nicholas Atgemis ticks all the chauvinist boxes and more.

Having addressed the emasculation that comes with a financially independent wife, ‘Atgemis is fine with the idea of a wife with a career, so long as she stays home with the children for the first seven years or so; years he considers crucial to a child’s development.’

He actually talks about the future primary care giver of his children in these terms: “I want something a bit exotic, something no one else has got their hands on.” Straight from the showroom floor then?

It is clear that Atgemis represents the extreme end of a spectrum of views, and his inflammatory comments are balanced by the spirituality of Anglican Minister Justin Moffatt and construction manager Luke Keller’s balanced salt-of-the-earth approach to relationships.

Freedom of speech and all that, but this two-dimensional article isn’t breaking any new ground in the area of personal relationships or representations of character.

Australian model Alyssa Sutherland reflects on pole-dancing for fitness:

“It’s not in the bedroom, it’s in the living room. But it’s a brand new pole and it’s way too slippery. Apparently, it needs to be worn in. One trick is to put shaving cream all over your body so you’re sticky,” she says.

Definitely newsworthy.

Meanwhile Sam at Ask Sam taps into a mob-like single consciousness in her look at interstate dating. Inhabitants of Melbourne and Sydney attain a single gendered voice – Sydney women say their men are commitment-phobes! Melbourne women are livid Sydney women are on their turf!

As Sam is clearly in possession of some sort of literacy I assume this obtuseness is a stylistic choice, but that doesn’t save it from being pointless and dull and actually counter-productive.

Melbourne/Sydney rivalry is artfully rendered by Sam in a totally novel way:

Melbourne men are only too happy to meet a new crop of singles. One gent told the media Melbourne women were too hard to meet because they were all “introspective and introverted,” while saying Sydney women were “much more assertive.” (Which is interesting, considering Sydney men will say that Sydney women are impossible to talk to!)

And answering Sam’s opening gambit, “what do you think is so wrong with women in this city these days?” – I’d say it’s that any of them read her blog. Advice I usually follow, when not seeking to stir myself up on a quiet day.

To finish on a positive note, The Guardian’s website has a Life & Style section that doesn’t rely on such formulaic content. The articles on the Women page regularly engage with serious issues affecting women – such as legislation affecting the sex industry – and call on feminist perspectives. Fairfax on the other hand have turned tabloid – probably because it is easier to do so than trying to surpass standard tropes.

Posted in Media Watch, Relationships | Tagged: , , | 4 Comments »

 
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