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Feminism Has Failed, not really, however, it will be debated tomorrow night

Posted by Rhiana Whitson on September 21, 2010

Don’t miss this event!

Tomorrow night! 6.30pm!

Feminism Has Failed

part of the Wheeler Centre’s Intelligence Squared debate series…


Author of The Feminist Denial Monica Dux, ABC journo Jennifer Byrne, journo Gay Alcorn and a few guys also…

I’ve gotta run, however, here’s what the Wheeler Centre has to say about tomorrow nights event…

After generations of effort, women still bear a disproportionate burden of domestic labour. Women are under-represented in the senior ranks of politics, business and the professions.

Women continue to be denied equal pay for equal work.

Perhaps more troubling still is the fact that the basic structures of power and influence bear the cultural marks of masculinity. In all significant ways, it remains a man’s world.

However, it could be argued that If feminism has failed, then it is because it has failed to mobilise women and that female acquiescence rather than male determination has preserved the status quo.

Or should feminists be celebrating a deeper victory in which a new generation of young men and women take equality for granted thanks to feminists who ushered in a deeper concern for justice – irrespective of gender?

Want more info? Check our Clem’s great interview with Monica Dux and Zora Simic posted here on TDC way back in 2008…


Tomorrow night 6.30 – 8.30pm


Melbourne Town Hall

90-120 Swanston Street
Victoria 3000

Tix are  $20 full and $12 conc.

and are available online


Posted in Dawn Chorus Library, Interviews, Politics, reproductive rights, sex, Uncategorized, women we love, Women's Health | 2 Comments »

Women We Love: Rachel Power

Posted by hannahcolman on May 14, 2009

Rachel Power with Griffin and Freya

Rachel Power with Griffin and Freya

Melbourne-based writer and editor Rachel Power has had her finger in an assortment of pies over the years – she’s worked as a court artist for television news, designed album covers and taught life-drawing. And she’s done plenty of writing – as a freelance journalist, a biographer (she wrote Alison Rehfisch: A Life for Art), a contributor to The Age Cheap Eats Guide, and as chief reporter for the Australian Education Union Newsletter. She’s certainly come a long way from her cadetship at The Canberra Times, where she spent a lot of time trying to draw coherent answers from teenage guitarists for her column Band Scene.

In August last year, Red Dog Books published Rachel’s second book, The Divided Heart: Art and Motherhood – a collection of interviews with Australian artists including singer Clare Bowditch, expat actress Rachel Griffiths, filmmaker Sarah Watt and author Nicki Gemmell. In the book, Rachel asks these women about their choice to have children and the ramifications of motherhood for their art. Rachel’s journalistic aptitude is apparent as she teases out her subjects’ unflinchingly honest opinions on the delicate balance between art and motherhood. The Divided Heart is book ended with Rachel’s own experiences – she shares with us the strains of cosseting her creative instinct while being mother to Freya, 4 and Griffin, 7.

Here, she chats with The Dawn Chorus about the artist/mother dichotomy, the debate about the inherent inequalities between men and women, and the likelihood of her domestically-themed reincarnation.

* * *

The Dawn Chorus: How long did it take to write The Divided Heart?

Rachel Power: I think about four years.

TDC: There’s a huge amount of work in it…

RP: That was in no way four years full-time! I mean… I might have written two or three nights a week, largely between 10pm and 1am. And I had [Freya] during that time, so there would have been whole months when I wasn’t doing anything at all. And also I spent a good year trying to get it published.

TDC: At what point in the process of writing the book did you actually start looking for a publisher?

RP: I think I’d done a selection of interviews – maybe five – before I had a publisher. Because I wanted to get a good sample of interviews together, and have a clear idea of what I was doing. And I already had two arts grants to do it as well. And I got a fellowship from Varuna, the writers’ house, so I felt like there was interest in the idea. Every time I approached a woman and asked her if I could do an interview on that theme, I’d get these ‘Thank God!’ reactions… you know… ‘I’ve never had the scope for talking about this before!’ And I realised it was really meaningful to these women, it was a huge question in their lives, how they were going be both [artist and mother], and the implications of children for their career and vice versa. So it was no small theme and I think it’s got all sorts of implications for the nature of art and the nature of women’s lives and the choices that women are forced to make. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in art, Celebrity, Dawn Chorus Library, Family, Interviews, Parenting & Family, women we love | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Dawn Chorus Library: The Great Feminist Denial by Monica Dux & Zora Simic

Posted by Clem Bastow on October 2, 2008

Welcome to what will hopefully be the first in an ongoing Dawn Chorus series of book reviews/author interviews, and what better way to begin than with Monica Dux & Zora Simic’s The Great Feminist Denial (AUD$34.95, MUP), an exciting new addition to the feminist bookshelf:

Feminism, if not dead, is at least seriously ill. It is now common to hear women declare themselves ‘Not Feminists’, whereas in the 1970s it was taken as given that any thinking woman would be proud to wear that label.

What the hell happened?

In The Great Feminist Denial the authors talk with women—feminists and non-feminists, young and old, famous and not famous, child-free and with child—and use their responses as a starting point from which to refocus the key debates.

The book is a compelling read, mixing debate and a potted history of feminism, and rumination on the topic, with key interviews (with a student, a blogger, a magazine editor, and so on) to explore just what condition feminism’s condition is in, essentially with regards to Australian women, but also women in general.

Dux and Simic’s careful melding of personal reflection (I particularly enjoyed their misty watercolour memories of being University feminists making ‘I Love My Cunt’ badges). The authors attempt to dismantle the “straw feminist” myths and stereotypes that have come to populate the general consciousness whenever feminism is discussed – the “HLL – hairy legged lesbian”, the “media slut”, and so on – and, in a move that I think is very important, discuss the media’s influence on people’s interpretation of just what feminism was, is, has done and is doing. Is feminism responsible for “raunch culture”? Do feminists make “better girlfriends”?

The book tackles many of the media’s favourite issues that have arisen in the past decade or so with regards to women – the apparent pornification of sex, the proliferation of Caesarian births and the “too posh to push” debate, motherhood, work, asking whether Muslim women can, in fact, be feminists, and so on. At times this plethora of discussion topics leaves some debate a little underfed, but Dux and Simic’s determination to explore as many facets of their thesis remains compelling throughout.

Unlike, say, Ariel Levy’s Female Chauvinist Pigs, The Great Feminist Denial doesn’t baulk at the state of affairs and run scared, whilst waggling its finger at everyone. The finishing moments of the book – which ask why, if women and men are apparently equal, women still get a raw deal on everything from pay to Third World poverty – are, if anything, rather sobering, and should be a good answer to anyone who still bothers to suggest that feminism has done all it can do.

I asked the book’s authors, Monica Dux and Zora Simic, to give The Dawn Chorus an insight into the process of putting together The Great Feminist Denial.

* * *

The Dawn Chorus: What was your formative feminist moment?

Monica Dux: “I had many formative feminist moments, but growing up I didn’t have the word “feminism” to pin them onto. I have two older brothers, and their toys always seemed more fun, boys in general seemed to have access to so much more of the world than I did. I was meant to like dolls, to be cute, to not run, to wear dresses, and it felt very restrictive. I remember at a Christmas all the boys were given these ace cars by a family friend, and I was given pink underpants. When I tried to join in with the car games the family friend’s son told me to go play with my underwear, and I thought ‘that’s just not fair’. It wasn’t until I went to university that I called myself a feminist. Up until that time it was something I’d read about, but wasn’t sure I could claim. But from the moment I did, my feminism was constantly reconfirmed. When I was 19 I bought a motorbike, and if you want some lessons in extreme sexism try being a girl on a 600cc touring bike.”

Zora Simic: “Watching the Kate Bush video to Babooshka on Sounds when I was a little girl. It had nothing to do with feminism per se, but it got me excited about being female. Generally I’d say my feminism was formed in the context of a mostly female household – I’ve got two sisters and no brothers. I got mixed messages about being a girl from my parents – my mum still loves to tell me that she was a virgin when she got married and that sex is only ever suffering, but both my parents were delighted whenever I did well at school or sports. It took going to a rough co-ed public school to make me angry about sexism.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Blog Watch, Dawn Chorus Library, Interviews, Media Watch | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »