The Dawn Chorus

Fresh Australian Feminism

Posts Tagged ‘the age’

I know which Kylie I prefer

Posted by caitlinate on April 24, 2010

Kylie Northover is not the right answer. They wrote this article. Should you be uninterested in following the link and reading the whole article, let me summarise the main gist:

– Female performers are only as good as how attractive the writer finds them. Older female performers are embarrassing because they aren’t, in the opinion of the author, hot. Because they are no longer considered hot they should retire lest anyone be confronted by the horrifying spectacle of an older woman performing or being in the limelight. If they can’t retire they could take a job as ‘a judge on British reality show The X Factor. It’s a nice, dignified role, befitting an elegantly maturing pop star.’

– Kylie Minogue is an ancient 42 years old.  She should ‘pack away her breasts’ and ‘unhand the shorty-shorts’ lest she turn out like… Madonna. Kylie should really just wake up and realise that, like all women, all she is worth is what she looks like – and Kylie Northover doesn’t think she looks all that great.

I’m too tired to say anything more than: fuck this sexist, age-ist shit. If you wanna be a journalist surely there are better ways to do it than attacking other women.


Posted in body image, Media Watch, music | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments »

Thoughts on rape reporting

Posted by caitlinate on October 14, 2009

There’s a story up on The Age about the horrific rape of an Australia woman in Edinburgh. I’m attaching a massive TRIGGER WARNING to this article and this story. If you think reading somewhat graphic details about rape is a bad idea for you then be careful following the link to this story. It’s here.

Briefly: an Australian woman living in Edinburgh was raped multiple times by two strangers who were also physically violent in other ways. There’s a couple of reasons I want to mention this article.

First is that Fairfax has finally managed to write an article about rape that isn’t horribly offensive. (I checked outside and the apocalypse hasn’t come so I’m not really sure what is going on.) Sure, the title (‘Australian woman’s eight-hour rape ordeal’) is a bit jarring and they mention the nationality of the perpetrators, a possibly unnecessary descriptor. But, for the most part, it’s a simple and well written piece of reportage on an horrific and devastating crime.

Second is, why?

The article states that the “rape was reported as one of the worst to ever occur in Edinburgh.” This makes me wonder if she’d instead been raped by her partner who was claiming she had consented, would the reporting be as straight forward and clear? Or would they write “pretty bad but not the worst” and would we be back to the inverted comma’s of ‘rape’? I understand that there are different levels of brutality and different forms of trauma, some worse than others. But I try really hard to not buy into the sliding scale of rape. Disqualifying a persons experience of rape as ‘less’ than that of someone else is very dangerous territory. One of the cruelest things about rape, that I think a lot of people don’t understand, is that it often can’t be measured by the form of the original attack, it’s the long term emotional consequences that are the true terror. Obviously, the rape itself impacts on those long term consequences but not in a definitive definable way.

I know I sound awfully cynical here but to get to the point: is the reason the article is written so clearly due to the crime itself being so brutal and horrific? There is no way anyone could cast aspersions on the survivor after reading in detail about what happened to her. Additionally, the survivor was able to give lengthy and detailed statements to the police about her attack as well as appearing in court. Is the reporting on this woman’s experience fair, balanced and reasoned because what happened to her is – beyond a shadow of doubt – awful and because she was able to tell us exactly how awful it was?


Posted in Media Watch, sexual assault, violence against women | Tagged: , , , , , | 9 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 »

Your inner sexpot consumer

Posted by Nic Heath on June 24, 2009


american apparel

The image accompanying The Age article

A couple of Sundays ago The Age website featured “Cheeky ad campaign or sexploitation?” – an article about “a popular clothes retailer using highly sexualised images of young women – many of them company staff ” in its advertising.


There are tons of photos of women in provocative poses on the Models page of the American Apparel site. I’m not arguing for the complete removal of sexual provocation from advertising images – sex has a place in the public arena – however some of the photos have no discernible relevance to American Apparel products. In this slideshow, for instance, Hannah Lee is pictured topless, with no American Apparel clothing in frame. Sunday’s Age article describes Hannah as ‘very young’ and the pictures ‘all provocative poses and barely covered breasts.’

The DIY aesthetic of many of the photos – taken in front of door frames, on couches, but mostly on white-sheeted beds – gives the viewer a sense of the voyeur. The many pictures of Natasha look like they were taken by a lover. Sophia, on all fours, arches her back and cocks her hips. Veronica, looking over her shoulder towards the camera, juts out her buttocks. Many of the other photos stick with this soft-porn script.

It is not hard to work out why businesses such as American Apparel opt for overtly sexual images to advertise their product. As Daily Finance points out, this strategy has been very effective for Calvin Klein in the past. “Every year or so, Calvin Klein manufactures a fresh “controversy” with a button-pressing, taste-defying ad campaign calculated to generate stories on the evening news without quite crossing the line into outright indecency of the sort that would provoke the authorities.”

I followed the Daily Finance article to this early incarnation of teenage sexual innuendo as a marketing strategy, when Brooke Shields reminds us nothing comes between her and her Calvin Kleins.

Do these images constitute the “caricatures of female hotness” identified by Ariel Levy? Last year the Herald Sun reported that many women “felt the way they were portrayed in advertising and marketing harmed their ability to be taken seriously in the workplace.” Citing the results of a survey conducted by Splash Consulting Group, the article said “most of the 500 women surveyed said they would go out of their way to boycott a product or service if they were offended by an advertisement for it.”

While the sexualisation of women in advertising uses women as commodities, as Monica Dux and Zora Simic point out in The Great Feminist Denial, young women ‘make ideal consumers’. Will women use their buying power to render obsolete exploitative advertising?

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

You’re Using the Wrong Pronoun

Posted by caitlinate on May 4, 2009

I’m angry, really angry.

There’s this article up at my favourite place, The Age, this morning. It’s titled: “Court lets girl, 17, remove breasts” and already they’ve ruined my day. Guess what? The court did not “let a ‘girl’ remove ‘her’ breasts”. The court let a (trans) male remove his breasts because they don’t fit with his gender identity.

Throughout the article they consistently use the wrong pronoun in describing “Alex”. Once or twice they used he, they repeatedly used his name to avoid using a pronoun and most of the time just went with ‘she’. When quoting the Justice that ruled on the case talking about him, and using the correct pronouns, they put his name in brackets afterwards. You know, in case any readers got confused with all this he-ing and she-ing. This is something that happens repeatedly in the mainstream media when reporting on trans issues. Think about how frustrating and silencing it is to see the word ‘sex’ being used instead of rape in the papers. Now imagine how it would feel if every time you read a report on trans related issues in the paper your entire identity was mocked, maligned and completely disrespected. It is silencing and hurtful to use the wrong pronoun when referring to a trans person. Sure, people make mistakes. A syndicated newspaper being lazy in checking in on that kind of thing? It’s not a mistake, they made a fucking choice and it’s an oppressive one and it’s not good enough.

The article also publishes examples of times when the Court has made a decision in regards to acts related to gender identity for minors that may have not turned out so well or when someone who has altered their biological gender regretted the decision. Yet no mention of the thousands of people who have changed their gender or reject gender or are happily and healthily trans. I can’t imagine why, she says with a sneer.

The teenager had been diagnosed with “gender identity dysphoria”, a psychological condition in which a person has the normal physical characteristics of one sex but longs to be the opposite sex.

Why don’t you go read a book? Gender Trouble by Judith Butler, Gender Outlaw by Kate Bornstein or Whipping Girl by Julia Serano could be good starting points. Bonus fuck you points for the emotive language of “longs to be”. I long for water when I’m thirsty. I long for gloves when my hands are cold. A person whose biological gender doesn’t align with their gender identity does not ‘long’ to be the ‘opposite sex’. They want to be and are sometimes able to be and in the process face institutional and personal hate and discrimination. Oh and p.s. sex does not equal gender. Sex is fucking or making love or ‘sexual intercourse’. Sex is something I generally do with another person. Gender is an ambiguous, fluid and nebulous concept that is regarded in some quarters as socialised and performative. It has nothing to do with my cunt so please stop trying to force it to.

But ethicist Nick Tonti-Filippini said mainstream medicine did not recognise hormone treatments and surgery as treatment for gender dysphoria. He said it was a psychiatric disorder qualifying under American guidelines as a psychosis because “it’s a belief out of accordance with reality”.

Having a gender identity that differs from your biological sex is not a disorder. How many times must this be repeated? If by mainstream medicine in America he’s referring to the American Psychological Association then he is referencing the group that only finally stated that homosexuality wasn’t a disorder in 1975. What a trustworthy and knowledgeable group they are. Plus, Nicky, could you maybe clarify exactly what your concept of reality is? Sarah Palin running for Vice President of the United States of America seemed completely removed from any kind of sane reality to me. The fact that you can get pancakes in a spray can is something I find hard to believe. There are millions of people around the world who are completely adamant that there is a dude who lives on a cloud in the sky and makes decisions about their lives – shall we rush them off to the sanatorium too then? Since when does anyone get to make decisions about other peoples lives and, not only their choices about how to represent themselves, but their self-knowledge of who they are and who they want to be?

Fuck Nick Tonti-Filippini, fuck the mainstream media and fuck mainstream medicine.

I sincerely hope you understand why I am writing about this here. If not:

A million years ago Simone de Beauvoir said: “One is not born a woman, one becomes one.” Trans men and women are punished and dismissed and beaten and murdered by our society because their gender identity doesn’t fit the ‘norm’. They are oppressed by gender the same way women are. Violence – whether physical or not – against trans people is a feminist issue. Get with it.

Posted in Media Watch, Trans | Tagged: , , , | 12 Comments »

Misogyny in Football? Never! At least not according to North Melbourne…

Posted by caitlinate on April 8, 2009

So when I said I was going to stop reading The Age I guess I wasn’t really going to.

Late last year members of the North Melbourne Football Club posted a video on the internet. In the last few days it has found it’s way onto youtube and the eyes of journalists from The Age. The four-minute video featured a rubber rooster named Little Boris depicting sex acts on the carcass of a real chicken. The backing track is ‘Move Bitch’ by Ludacris.

Throughout the video that was on YouTube, Boris the toy chicken has a condom on its head and is manipulated to look as if it is penetrating the carcass of a real chicken that also features throughout the film. The final scenes show the real chicken carcass being hurled against a wall and run over by a van – before the rubber chicken returns and simulates fornication again

I haven’t seen the video (it’s been taken down) but the original copy from The Age, that I read several hours ago, stated that the carcass was clearly meant to represent a woman. I can’t really comment on the contents of the video – though I’ll believe it contained offensive stuff – but it’s the response from the club that concerns me.

When I read the original response from the club they were all focused not on how terrible it was that the video had been made at all but how bad it was that the video had gotten out and become available to the public.

“I’m furious to say the least that it’s gotten out though I haven’t had the advantage of seeing it.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Sport, violence against women | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments »

Fairfax Still Loves Bettina

Posted by caitlinate on April 4, 2009

A short while back The Age published this piece by Bettina Arndt (an anti-feminist pro-rape sociopath masquerading as a sex therapist). There were, you know, some disgruntled people as a result. Their way of restoring balance isn’t to publish a well written, articulate and composed response (of which there are so many available) but to instead publish this piece of crap. An article that presents itself as a rejoinder to the fucked up notions that Arndt is pushing but, in actual fact, does nothing to explain why anyone would find Arndt offensive or why her women-blaming misogyny is, you know, not okay. Instead it tacitly legitimises Arndt’s arguments by publishing a juvenile, confused and completely fucking stupid response involving something about men being old, fat and bald and that’s why we don’t wanna fuck em. I suspect the author of the article is trying to be funny (forgive me for not getting the joke) but the whole article is based on the premise that, yes, women are to blame, women are doing something wrong, it is the fault of women that men aren’t having sex… but here are some reasons why. Why are we still coming up with fucking reasons why it is okay for a person to say no to sex? Why can’t we just accept NO!?!

Part two of my outrage involves the ‘Your Say’ page for this article. First off they refer to women as “fairer sex” in the blurb. I kid you not. Hello, calling Fairfax, are you aware we’re in 2009? Arriving at this page I then made the fatal error of scrolling down and actually reading some of the comments and I’m so choked with anger and jaw-to-the-floor I can’t even type straight so will rely merely on quotes. Here is the very first cab off the rank comment for your perusal:

“I think the photos of the men in the Age and the Heading Implying that men are to blame is In appropriate.

Women also are looking overweight and gross..”

Yes. It is inappropriate to suggest men are to blame because that would mean we weren’t blaming women and brain explode for Andrew.

The next best one is about ten down:

Wow what a bitter and biased article. I find it particularly suprsing that this article is written by Wendy Frew, who I put politely will certainly not be challenging the next Miss Universe contest.

The point of the initial survey is that after having children many women focus too much on themselves and the children, and not enough time on the relationship with their husband. It doesn’t have to be the bitter slant Ms Frew put on it but it is a very real issue.

I find her comments particularly stupid considering out of the group of friends that my wife and I spend time with I’d say as far as appearance goes this would be a fair indication. Out of 10 males only two would be considered overweight and none would be considered obese. Out of the ten females I’d say 5 of the women would be over weight and 2 would be considered obese. I’d also say that of these seven over weight women, only the two who are obese would actually think they are are over weight. Yes it is true that most of these women have had children but we are purely talking about attractiveness here, not how it happened.

Many women have what I call the “David Brent” opinion of themselves. They delude themselves to thinking that being overweight is just normal and still attractive.

Now are the men in the survey complaining about their overweight partners? On the contrary they want more sex and their overweight wives are not giving it to them.

As far as I can tell this guy can be summarised as saying: “fuck fat bitches, you’re a fat bitch, fuck you”. Which is quite a thoughtful and considered argument really. I wish that guy would bring his thoughtfulness and consideration over to my neck of the woods. We could have a beer, go for a walk, maybe kill a little time in the park kicking a ball around. It’ll be swell.

This is all just another reminder of why I find myself regularly boycotting The Age… isn’t it meant to be better than the Herald Scum? At least the HS aren’t pretending to be something they’re not.

– Edit – In the comments Amber mentioned a Lateline interview with Bettina Arndt. It’s 17 minutes long and you hear some pretty yuck things from Arndt but it’s worth taking a look at – Emily Maguire and Tony Jones (the interviewer) do a great job of bringing light to and discounting some of Arndt’s more questionable assertions and placing them closer to the context of reality. You can read the transcript or stream the video here.

Posted in Blog Watch, Media Watch | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 10 Comments »

Just How Much Does The Age Value Catherine Deveny’s Contributions?

Posted by Clem Bastow on March 18, 2009

Not a whole lot, it would seem.

Two weeks back, Deveny wrote – in honour of International Women’s Day – a stunning piece about the lack of female voices in the Australian media. Her weekly columns may be polarising, but there are many who turn to the Opinion page come Wednesday morning just to see what she has to say. Those of us who love her do so because we love her wit, passion and honesty. Two collections of her columns have been published. In other words, you could be forgiven for thinking that The Age would want to hang on to her for dear life – but you’d be wrong.

Since last Wednesday, Deveny has been on strike:

[New] editor Paul Ramadge declined to honour an agreement Deveny had struck with his predecessor Andrew Jaspan for a pay rise that, according to one Age insider, would have taken her into the stratosphere.

The Age (and Fairfax as a whole) has a recent and rich history of stuffing around its editorial staff, but such behaviour is even more injurious to its freelance contributors, of which Deveny is one. She is a contractor who recieves no super, benefits, holiday pay, maternity leave, sick pay or long service leave. The blokes at the top get paid performance bonuses for cutting costs. The last thing Deveny wrote about the was the lack of strong female voices in the media (and only 13 of the last 69 opinion pieces in the paper were written by women). Now she’s not there.

Complain and tell your friends – tell The Age (and Ramadge) that you don’t approve of their dealings: call 9600 4211 for reader feedback, or send a letter to the editor.

Posted in Business, Media Watch, Weekend Love-In | Tagged: , , , , | 24 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 »