The Dawn Chorus

Fresh Australian Feminism

Posts Tagged ‘inspiration’

Best of the rest on PM Gillard

Posted by Nic Heath on June 25, 2010

Australia might be ‘tickled pink at having its first female prime minister’, but what else is being said about the dramatic leadership change that saw Kevin Rudd suddenly ousted by Julia Gillard this week? 

Eva Cox at Crikey sees Julia Gillard’s achievement as the first step, rather than the end point, for those desiring gender balance in positions of power: 

‘We will know we really have made progress when women in top positions become normal and not worthy of comment. It will also mean we get better leaders, not just because many are women, but because we no longer exclude good people because of their gender.’ (register to read) 

Also at Crikey Shakira Hussein warns us that Gillard’s ascension to the top job means that some will think that feminism is finished: 

‘The danger now (well, one of the dangers) is that feminists will be told that the battle is won, that anyone who is still on the battlefield is just a whinger, that if a woman can become prime minister, then we have no further reason to complain.’ 

Annabel Crabbe acknowledges the sense of hope that has accompanied Gillard’s promotion:  

‘The approbation of her colleagues, seasoned with a groundswell of genuine delight at the elevation of Australia’s first female prime minister, give her an opportunity to make the sort of progress that eluded her predecessor.’ 

Catriona Menzies-Pike at New Matilda considers Gillard’s momentous caucus win and is left seeking answers: 

‘Once the fuss dies down, some of these questions will be answered and a bigger one will emerge: are Australians really ready to elect a female prime minister? 

‘There’s no doubt that Gillard’s promotion is an important symbolic victory for Australian women. But is this the exemplary trajectory for female success? To act as deputy until those whom you have vehemently opposed act to support you?’ 

 The Australian’s Caroline Overington sees evidence of change stamped all over our new PM: 

Julia Gillard is a woman, but that’s not the only extraordinary thing about her rise. 

She’s got a de facto. 

Imagine that, 30 years ago: an unmarried woman, living in sin with a man. Who is a hairdresser. And aspiring to high office. 

Leo Shanahan at The Punch believes Gillard could be the person to get the government back on track: 

Call me a honeymooner if you want, but in both policy and rhetoric Prime Minister Gillard made a lot of sense today, and that’s something that’s been missing from the Federal Government as of late. 

In Josephine Tovey’s piece at SMH, Gillard’s fruit bowl runneth over, Tovey wants women to stay on their toes: 

Just being a woman in power is not enough. There will be questions, rightly so, from women across the feminist spectrum. 

Will she, as Prime Minister improve the lot of other women, and make their paths to equality easier? 

But these are all questions for tomorrow. For now at least, we should all celebrate this landmark moment. 

 More excitement over at Femisting, with another reminder that all is not yet equal:

Julia Gillard, our new WOMAN PM – sorry, I can’t stop writing that in delighted caps – is a very impressive woman, and I have high hopes that this ouster will get voters’ approval in the upcoming Federal election. But one woman leader does not an egalitarian society make. 

At The Drum Helen Razer, enjoying ‘a little gynaecological bloat as Her Majesty’s female representative swore in the female representative of the people’, writes: 

‘A colony founded in masculinity, Australia can still feel like the land that feminism forgot. On this “historic” day, perhaps Overington, Wilkinson and co can be excused their greeting card gush.’ 

Mia Freedman briefed her readers about their new PM, adding: 

Julia Gillard is a remarkable woman. A fighter who has fought and won against many odds. A self confessed feminist and socialist, Gillard has survived the many attacks from the media and conservatives in Australia to become the Prime Minister of Australia, put in the position by the right wing factions that have previously tried to tear her down. 

Catherine Deveny sees Julia Gillard’s win as ‘a victory for all who do not fit into the category of white, middle aged, middle class, straight (or acting), god fearing (or pretending) university educated males granted a priority pass access to power (and therefore money, control, leisure and choice) at birth.’ Deveny affirms her faith in Gillard, writing: 

I believe in Julia Gillard. Not because she is a woman. But because she’s Julia Gillard. Smart, brave, strong, experienced and independent. I believe in equality and diversity. Which means knowing she can be a maggot and a mongrel when necessary. Delight and disappoint. Her promise not mine.  


If you have read any great comment or analysis that I have missed feel free to post it in the comments.


Posted in Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Anna Bligh Becomes Australia’s First Elected Female Premier

Posted by Clem Bastow on March 22, 2009

A brief and celebratory note this morning: Anna Bligh has won the Queensland state election to become this country’s first ever elected female Premier!

She said that although the prospect of becoming the first elected female premier had not motivated her in the campaign, she was aware of the historical significance of her win.

“I grew up in a time when people regarded (Queensland) as backward,” she said. “Who would have thought we would be the first state in Australia to elect a female premier.”

Ms Bligh is a very inspiring woman – the Australian Story episode of last year, No Man’s Land, is well worth checking out for the details of her rise through student politics to the “big time”, as well as her passionate commitment to women’s rights and feminism. To have broken the drought, so to speak, and have Bligh the woman to claim this historic victory just makes it that little bit sweeter.

Posted in Media Watch, Politics, Weekend Love-In, women we love | Tagged: , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Feminist? Yes, You Are

Posted by Clem Bastow on December 1, 2008

This amazing essay from Tomato Nation’s Sarah Bunting was revived today via a Tumblr blog I regularly read, and is every bit as relevant now as the day it was written in 2003 (not to mention its sage and spookily prescient echoing of Obama’s “yes, we can” acceptance speech) and is compulsory and inspiring reading with your Monday-itis cup of tea/coffee/Bovril/water and lemon/etc.

feminism n (1895) 1 : the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes 2 : organized activity on behalf of women’s rights and interests — feminist n or adjfeministic adj

Above, the dictionary definition of feminism — the entire dictionary definition of feminism. It is quite straightforward and concise. If you believe in, support, look fondly on, hope for, and/or work towards equality of the sexes, you are a feminist.

Yes, you are.

The definition of feminism does not ask for two forms of photo ID. It does not care what you look like. It does not care what color skin you have, or whether that skin is clear, or how much you weigh, or what you do with your hair. You can bite your nails, or you can get them done once a week. You can spend two hours on your makeup, or five minutes, or the time it takes to find a Chapstick without any lint sticking to it. You can rock a cord mini, or khakis, or a sari, and you can layer all three. The definition of feminism does not include a mandatory leg-hair check; wax on, wax off, whatever you want. If you believe in, support, look fondly on, hope for, and/or work towards equality of the sexes, you are a feminist.

Yes, you are.

The definition of feminism does not mention a membership fee or a graduated tax or “…unless you got your phone turned off by mistake.” Rockefellers, the homeless, bad credit, no credit, no problem. If you believe in, support, look fondly on, hope for, and/or work towards equality of the sexes, you are a feminist.

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Posted in Blog Watch | Tagged: , , , , | 4 Comments »

Sarah Haskins Does Disney

Posted by Clem Bastow on October 22, 2008

Disney Princesses, to be exact.

Wonder what she thought of Enchanted?

Posted in Celebrity, Media Watch, Watching The Ad Breaks | Tagged: , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Sarah Haskins: Everybody Poops. Except For Women.

Posted by Clem Bastow on October 10, 2008

Hey, guess what? Sarah Haskins still rules!

For some reason I can’t get this video to stop auto-playing (good work on your Firefox 3 compatibility, VodPod/WordPress), so hop over the jump for Target: Women‘s latest, Number Twos…

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Posted in Blog Watch, Media Watch, Watching The Ad Breaks | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

(Young) Women We Love: Hilary Duff

Posted by Clem Bastow on October 9, 2008

When it comes to tween-targeted popstars, in my books Miley trumps Hilary every time, but Ms Duff is quite a thoughtful young woman (she says, sounding like a grandmother) who is still a considerably big influence on a lot of young girls, so I was thrilled to see that she’d joined forces with America’s Advertising Council in collaboration with Gay Lesbian and Straight Education Network to film this PSA:

Casually discriminatory language is one of the most insidious ways of perpetuating hatred – whether it’s saying something is “gay” or calling women “bitch” or “slut” – so it’s fantastic to see Duff speaking out on the topic.

Now, can we arrange to have some ads produced featuring men that blokes would look up to (footy players, motorsports heroes, Chuck Norris), pulling them up on catcalling and casually sexist language?

Posted in Celebrity, Media Watch, Watching The Ad Breaks, women we love | Tagged: , , , , | 5 Comments »

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.”

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

Tuesday Morning Inspiration: Lesley Gore

Posted by Clem Bastow on September 30, 2008

Here’s a tentative new feature, a feminist rev-up on the notoriously dour “suicide Tuesday” (nine out of ten scientists agree this is a far more serious condition than Mondayitis). Sometimes all it takes is a kickass song to send you on your merry way and psyche you up for the day ahead, so let’s begin with one of my favourite accidental songs of empowerment, Lesley Gore’s You Don’t Own Me, performed live by the awesome Ms. Gore on ’60s television:

The song’s writers, John Madara and David White, had an inkling that it would be a groundbreaking song (particularly when you consider the sexual politics of 1963), but had no idea it would be embraced as widely as it has been. Said Madara:

Our original intent was to write a song with a woman telling a man off: ‘Don’t tell me what to do, don’t tell me what to say.’ Though we didn’t realize it at the time that it would become a woman’s anthem, it definitely was our intention to have a woman make a statement.’s Stephanie Zacharek wrote a great piece, It’s Still Her Party, back in 1999 about Lesley Gore’s back catalogue and the enduring legacy of songs like You Don’t Own Me and It’s My Party, which I highly recommend as coffee break reading. I would love for Miley Cyrus or someone similar to release a cover of You Don’t Own Me and remind this new generation of girls that it’s okay to assert your identity separately from that of the hot dude you hope to snare.

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Women We Love: Sarah Haskins

Posted by Clem Bastow on September 23, 2008

Of all the “online sensations” that the internets have birthed, few will be worthy of our attention in the years to come – hell, most are forgotten within weeks, destined to crop up in “Remember When…” features about YouTube superstars and people who penned angry bulk emails about the spaghetti stains in the office microwave and then sent it to the UN, or whatever. But there are some people who have been brought to our attention thanks largely to the wonders of ‘new media’, and for that we must be eternally grateful – one such “discovery” is Sarah Haskins.

I’ve written extensively about Haskins’ hilarious work with Target:Women, an offshoot of liberal media organisation Current TV’s news and culture magazine show, infoMania. In each episode, Haskins expertly skewers the idiocy-infused world of gender-targeted marketing, from yoghurt ads featuring women wearing grey hoodies (“It says, ‘I have a Master’s, but then I got married'”) to wedding shows (Bridezilla versus Momra) and slow motion time machines that come out of crockpots (“Wooooow!”). In short, in as-non-stalky-as-possible terms, she’s a superstar. A Chicago native who rose (and is rising) through the ranks of the comedy world, a proud feminist, and a generally kickass chick, Haskins makes us all feel that the future of the media is in safe hands.

So, who better to hit up for one of our regular Women We Love interviews than the woman herself? Sexy, clean, cool, fun, healthy, beautiful, large, UNDERPANTS, let’s Target: Sarah Haskins!

* * *

The Dawn Chorus: When did you decide you wanted to head into comedy writing? Did you have a formative comedy moment?

Sarah Haskins: “I did have a formative comedy moment, which is unusual. Normally I just stumble into things.

“I started doing improv in college and during the winter of my freshman year I went home to Chicago and saw a show at the Second City. (I am not sure if your readers know about Second City – it’s a comedy theater that creates social and political satire through sketch comedy and many of its alumni end up doing cool things: Stephen Colbert, Tina Fey, Chris Farley, etc, etc.) The show was so smart and funny I loved it and wanted to perform on that stage.

“Also, on a more embarrassing note, I loved the first Austin Powers movie and thought it would be really fun to work on a project like that.”

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Posted in women we love | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

“Feminist Is Not A Dirty Word”

Posted by Clem Bastow on September 16, 2008

Can’t believe I forgot to note this great opinion piece from yesterday’s Age by Monica Dux, co-author of the new book, The Great Feminist Denial. The entire article is worth reading but in particular, this passage stood out to me:

In the act of calling ourselves feminists we are expressing solidarity (not necessarily agreement) with others who share our core values. We’re also showing respect to the many women who’ve championed those values for more than 100 years. Being mindful of their legacy helps us avoid repeating mistakes, but it is also our best defence against feminism’s detractors propagating even more false assumptions, cliches and distortions.

I’m so glad the Age ran this, particularly after the laughable four-page feature in the recent theage(melbourne)magazine, a bunch of photos of Melbourne women musing about things like the always reliable “I don’t think feminism is relevant to me”, that was designed to reflect on women being able to vote (if I recall correctly); it was cheap filler material when they could have run a major article – or several! – offering a variety of high (and low) profile women’s thoughts on the matter.

On the topic of Dux’s piece, it’s always great to find another handy pocket response to those tiresome types who say “but feminism’s dead” or “why would you call yourself a ‘feminist’ and not a ‘humanist’?”, and I think this excerpt does the trick nicely. Looking forward to reading the book.

Posted in Media Watch | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »