On the Net: Mama’s Boys & Women’s Work.

My male housemate isn’t the greatest when it comes to household duties. He claims he “forgets” to hang the shower curtain up after a shower and turn the fan on during it in our mold-susceptible bathroom after nine months of it being part of our daily routine. He also “doesn’t notice” the rack of clean dishes waiting there for him to put them away, two days after washed them. When I complain about this to friends, colleagues and mutual acquaintances, the inevitable response—even from the supposedly progressive ones— is, “Oh, he’s a guy; you can’t expect him to remember to do those things.” While said semi-daily occurrences infuriate me to no end, I refuse to believe he does them because of his gender.

Rachel Hills wrote about mama’s boys last week on Daily Life and had this to say:

“It is not an excess of emotional intimacy and support that breeds a man who can’t take care of himself, after all… It’s a society that says that men shouldn’t need to know how to take care of themselves, and that puts women in constant competition for male attention and validation.”

A friend commented on Facebook that the patriarchy is to blame for the mama’s boy phenomenon:

“… [Mothers’] value to their family is generally based around being the main homemaker and not teaching their son any independent life skills because they assume they will marry someone in the same defined gender role who will do the same thing… [M]others who treat their sons this way often do not treat their daughters the same.”

Which, in turn, got me thinking about an article Sarah Ayoub-Christie wrote a while ago about her struggles marrying a traditional Lebanese upbringing in which the women lived to serve the men with her modern marriage.

My argument that all men aren’t household-hopeless dolts and all women don’t thrive in domesticity isn’t held up by any men I know personally, but (in addition to the foundation of my feminism essentially being that the genders aren’t alien to each other; we’re all just people) it is by a lot of women I know, whose homes, apartments and (let’s be honest; most of my friends still live at home!) bedrooms look like a bomb’s hit where cleanliness and hygiene aren’t top priorities.

I just refuse to believe that 1) women are inherently better at homemaking whilst men shun all domestic responsibility, and 2) that this is because of their relationship with their mother. If this is a gender-exclusive trope, then the fact that my mum used to be my “slave”, as I semi-affectionately called her, waiting on me hand and foot certainly flies in the face of my modern-day incarnation as domestic goddess in comparison with my housemate. Mum is somewhat of a Martha Stewart herself, though…

Elsewhere: [Daily Life] Myth of the Mama’s Boy.

[MamaMia] “I’m Not the Partner I Thought I’d Be.”

Book Review: How to Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran.

When I first heard of this memoir some months back (probably on Musings of an Inappropriate Woman or some similarly feminist blog), I wasn’t really into it. I hadn’t been familiar with Caitlin Moran until I read a couple of reviews, particularly Rachel Hills’ in Sunday Life, and I knew I had to read it.

How to Be a Woman doesn’t disappoint. While it is a memoir of sorts, it’s also a poignant commentary of just what’s required of women in today’s society. Think Mia Freedman’s Mia Culpa and Mama Mia, but far less politically correct.

When I reviewed those books, I didn’t feel my words could do them justice, so I simply relayed my favourite parts and most funny moments, which is what I’m going to do here. But really, even these snippets don’t do How to be a Woman justice, and you need to get your grubby little mitts on it ASAP!

On Porn.

“Freely available, hardcore 21st-century pornography blasts through men and women’s sexual imaginations like antibiotics, and kills all mystery, uncertainty and doubt—good and bad.

“But in the meantime, I have found this thing. I have discovered this one good thing, so far, about being a woman, and it is coming” [p. 31].

“That single, unimaginative, billion-duplicated fuck is generally what we mean by ‘porn culture’—arguably the biggest cultural infiltration since the counter-cultural revolution of the 1960s; certainly more pervasive that peer rivals, such as gay culture, multi-culturalism or feminism” [p. 33].

“… We needed more pornography, not less… free-range porn… Something in which—to put it simply—everyone comes.

“… Why can’t I see some actual sex? Some actual fucking from people who want to fuck each other? Some chick in an outfit I halfway respect, having the time of her life? I have MONEY. I am willing to PAY for this. I AM NOW A 35-YEAR-OLD WOMAN, AND I JUST WANT A MULTI-BILLION-DOLLAR INTERNATIONAL PORN INDUSTRY WHERE I CAN SEE A WOMAN COME.

“I just want to see a good time” [p. 37, 39].

On Waxing.

“And all of this isn’t done to look scorchingly hot, or deathlessly beautiful, or ready for a nudey-shoot at the beach. It’s not to look like a model. It’s not to be Pamela Anderson. It’s just to be normal” [p. 46].

“Whilst some use the euphemism ‘Brazilian’ to describe this state of affairs, I prefer to call it what it is—‘a ruinously high-maintenance, itchy, cold-looking child’s fanny’” [p. 47].

On Puberty.

“Puberty us like a lion that has raked me with its claws as I try to outrun it” [p. 58].

On the C-Word.

“In a culture where nearly everything female is still seen as squeam-inducing, and/or weak—menstruation, menopause, just the sheer, simply act of calling someone ‘a girl’—I love that ‘cunt’ stands, on its own, as the supreme, unvanquishable word” [p. 62].

On Mansplaining.

“I am shouted down by a male editor, who dismissed everything I say out of hand, and concludes his argument with the statement, ‘You wouldn’t know what it’s like to be a fat teenage girl, being shouted at in the street by arseholes.’

“At the time, I am a fat teenage girl, being shouted at in the street by arseholes. I am rendered silent with astonishment that I a being lectured on a radical feminist youth movement by a middle-aged straight white man…

“‘Oh, I get it all the time,’ Charlie [Moran’s homosexual friend] says, cheerfully. ‘It’s mainly conversations about how difficult it is to be a gay man—explained to me by a straight man’” [p. 140–141].

On Getting Ahead of Yourself in Potential Future Relationships.

“I imagine possible relationships all the time” [p. 149].

On Pole-Dancing Classes.

“Just as pornography isn’t inherently wrong—it’s just some fucking—so pole-dancing, or lap-dancing, or stripping, aren’t inherently wrong—it’s just some dancing. So long as women are doing it for fun—because they want to, and they are in a place where they won’t be misunderstood, and because it seems ridiculous and amusing, and something that might very well end with you leaning against a wall, crying with laughter as your friends try to mend the crotch-split in your leggings with a safety pin—then it’s a simple open-and-shut case of carry, girls. Feminism is behind you.

“It’s the same deal with any ‘sexy dancing’ in a nightclub—any grinding, any teasing, any of those Jamaican dancehall moves, where the women are—not to put too fine a point on it—fucking the floor as if they need to be pregnant by some parquet tiles by midnight. Any action a woman engages in from a spirit of joy, and within a similarly safe and joyous environment, falls within the city-walls of feminism. A girl has a right to dance how she wants, when her favourite record comes on” [p. 174].

“I Am in Heels! I Am a Woman!”

“I have a whole box full of such shoes under my bed. Each pair was bought as a down payment on a new life I had seen in a magazine, and subsequently thought I would attain, now I had the ‘right’ shoes” [p. 199].

“WE CANNOT WALK IN THE DAMN THINGS… So why do we believe that wearing heels is an intrinsic part of being a woman, despite knowing it doesn’t work? Why do we fetishise these things that almost universally make us walk like mad ducks? Was Germaine Greer right? Is the heel just to catch the eyes of men, and get laid?” [p. 202–203].

On Ladymags.

“… Those women’s magazines… are making me feel genuinely bad about my life achievement. Because I don’t yet have an ‘investment handbag’” [p. 205].

Fashion: Turn to the Left.

“… Fashion is… a compulsory game… And you can’t get out of it by faking a period. I know. I’ve tried” [p. 210].

On Childbirth.

“Finally, I have met someone who realises what I have known all along. This bitch [midwife] sees me for what I truly am: incapable [of giving birth]” [p. 221].

“I haven’t told you the half of it. I haven’t told you about Pete [Moran’s husband] crying, or the shit, or vomiting three feet up a wall, or gasping ‘mouth!’ for the gas and air, as I’d forgotten all other words. Or the nerve that Lizzie [her firstborn daughter] damaged with her face and how, ten years later, my right leg is still numb and cold. Or the four failed epidurals, which left each vertebra smashed and bruised, and the fluid between them feeling like hot, rotting vinegar. And the most important thing—the shock, the shock that Lizzie’s birth would hurt me so much…” [p. 221–222].

“She [Lizzie, a couple of days after birth] still looks like an internal organ” [p. 223].

“You basically come out of that operating theatre like Tina Turner in Mad Max: Beyond the Thunderdome, but lactating” [p. 226].

On Feminism in General.

“… Again and again over the last few years, I turned to modern feminism to answer questions that I had but found that what had once been the most exciting, incendiary and effective revolution of all time had somehow shrunk down into a couple of increasingly small arguments, carried out among a couple of dozen feminist academics… Here’s my beef with this:

“1) Feminism is too important to only be discussed by academics. And, more pertinently:

“2) I’m not a feminist academic, but, by God, feminism is so serious, momentous and urgent, that now is really the time for it to be championed by a lighthearted broadsheet columnist and part-time TV critic, who has appalling spelling. If something’s thrilling and fun, I want to join in—not watch from the sidelines. I have stuff to say! Camille Paglia has Lady Gaga ALL WRONG! The feminist organization Object are nuts when it comes to pornography! Germaine Greer, my heroine, is crackers on the subject of transgender issues! And no one is tackling OK! Magazine, £600 handbags, tiny pants, Brazilians, stupid hen nights or Katie Price” [p. 12].

“I don’t know if we can talk about ‘waves’ of feminism anymore—by my reckoning, the next wave would be the fifth, and I suspect it’s around the fifth wave that you stop referring to individual waves, and start to refer, simply, to an incoming tide.

“But if there is to be a fifth wave of feminism, I would hope that the main thing that distinguishes it from all that came before is that women counter the awkwardness, disconnect and bullshit of being a modern woman, not by shouting at it, internalising it or squabbling about it—but by simply pointing at it, and going ‘HA!’, instead” [p. 14].

“‘I AM A FEMINIST’… It’s probably one of the most important things a woman will ever say… Say it. SAY IT! SAY IT NOW! Because if you can’t, you’re basically bending over, saying, ‘Kick my arse and take my voice now, please, the patriarchy.’

“And do not think that you shouldn’t be standing on that chair shouting ‘I AM A FEMINIST!’ if you are a boy. A male feminist is one of the most glorious end-products of evolution” [p. 72].

“What do you think feminism IS, ladies? What part of ‘liberation for women’ is not for you? Is it freedom to vote? The right not to be owned by the man you marry? The campaign for equal pay?… It’s technically impossible for a woman to argue against feminism. Without feminism, you wouldn’t be allowed to have a debate on a woman’s place in society. You’d be too busy giving birth on the kitchen floor—biting down on a wooden spoon, so as not to disturb the men’s card game—before going back to quick-liming the dunny” [p. 80].

“I don’t see it as men vs woman as all. What I see, instead, is winner vs loser… For even the most ardent feminist historian, male or female… can’t conceal that women have basically done fuck all for the last 100,000 years. Come on—let’s admit it. Let’s stop exhaustingly pretending that there is a parallel history of women being victorious and creative, on an equal with men, that’s just been comprehensively covered up by The Man. There isn’t” [p. 134–135].

On “Having It All”.

“Batman doesn’t want a baby in order to feel he’s ‘done everything’. He’s just saved Gotham again! If this means that Batman must be a feminist role model above, say, Nicola Horlick [British investment fund manager], then so be it…

“In the 21st century, it can’t be about who we might make, and what they might do, anymore. It has to be about who we are, and what we’re going to do” [p. 245–246].

On Pop Music.

“Pop [music] is the cultural bellwether of social change” [p. 254].

On Abortion.

“I cannot stand anti-abortion arguments that centre on the sanctity of life. As a species, we’ve fairly comprehensively demonstrated that we don’t believe in the sanctity of life. The shrugging acceptance of war, famine, epidemic, pain and lifelong, grinding poverty show us that, whatever we tell ourselves, we’ve made only the most feeble of efforts to really treat human life as sacred.

“I don’t understand then, why, in the midst of all this, pregnant women… should be subject to more pressure about preserving human life than, say, Vladimir Putin, the World Bank, or the Catholic Church” [p. 275].

“For if a pregnant woman has dominion over life, who should she not also have dominion over not-life?… On a very elemental level, if women are, by biology, commanded to host, shelter, nurture and protect life, why should they not be empowered to end life, too?” [p. 273].

On Being a Muse to Men. 

“Men go out and do things—wage wars, discover new countries, conquer space, tour Use Your Illusion 1 and 11—whilst the women inspire them to greater things, then discuss afterwards, a length, what’s happened…” [p. 300].

 

 

 

Related: [The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Mama Mia: A Memoir of Mistakes, Magazines & Motherhood by Mia Freedman Review.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Mia Culpa: Confessions from the Watercooler of Life by Mia Freedman Review.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Feminism Respects Women More Than Anything, Including the Catholic Church!

Elsewhere: [Tiger Beatdown] Chronicles of Mansplaining: Professor Feminism & the Deleted Comments of Doom.  

Image via Metro.co.uk.

UPDATED: Gaga Ooo La La?

On a recent episode of The View, Lady Gaga was asked about the death of Amy Winehouse, saying that “the world can learn a lesson from the tragedy, in that it should be ‘kinder to the superstar’. Gaga went on to say that that level of fame, which she experiences, is a lonely life.”

*

Lady Gaga is awesome; there’s no doubt about that.

She’s fearless in her fashion, her music is guaranteed to get me on the dancefloor, she works tirelessly for gay rights, and recently wowed Sydney (Melbourne next, please!).

But imagine what it’s like to be her for a second.

She’s crafted such an image that it is now impossible for her to make a coffee run, work out, go shopping, or even relax, without portraying her Gaga image. What about Stefani?

While it’d be amazing to meet the people that Gaga does, travel the world like Gaga does, and “use your popularity for a good cause”, as Cher Horowitz puts it in Clueless, like Gaga does, I wouldn’t want to sacrifice who I am underneath it all.

Though, in interviews, Gaga has claimed that her be-sequinned, meat-dress-wearing, friend of Elton John alter ego is who she is underneath it all. That she was “Born this Way”.

But it must be so tiring to always have the Gaga switch on. To be in full makeup, garish costumes, and setting pianos on fire. Evidently it is, if her collapsing on stage is anything to go by.

Personally, if I was a celebrity, I would want to be either a mediocre one who can go about their business getting papped at the supermarket every once in a while, a Cate Blanchette-esque one, who is as good at their craft as Gaga is, but manages to fly under the radar (except for that whole “Carbon Cate” shemozzle), or even one like Kim Kardashian who, like Gaga, probably doesn’t get a whole lot of genuine downtime, where she can spend a day in bed with no makeup on watching cheesy movies without the reality TV cameras and just be the real Kim, but who has crafted a whole career around her personality and her family.

I have to wonder, is there a price to being Lady Gaga? Ten, twenty, thirty years from now, will she still be around like Madonna, Stevie Nicks or Cyndi Lauper? Or will the sheer intensity she operates at now burn her out within five?

I love Lady Gaga, and I genuinely hope she’ll be around for another fifty years, but I certainly don’t envy her.

Related: [The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Vo-Gaga.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] The Underlying Message in Glee’s “Born This Way” Episode.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Mag Cover of the Week: Lady Gaga for Vogue Hommes Japan in a Meat Bikini.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Guest Post: Lady Gaga’s “Telephone” & 21st Century “Noise”.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Katy P. VS. Lady G.

Elsewhere: [Jezebel] Lady Gaga: The World Needs to Be “Kinder to the Superstar”.

Image via Jezebel.

 

Gaga Ooo La La?

Lady Gaga is awesome; there’s no doubt about that.

She’s fearless in her fashion, her music is guaranteed to get me on the dancefloor, she works tirelessly for gay rights, and recently wowed Sydney (Melbourne next, please!).

But imagine what it’s like to be her for a second.

She’s crafted such an image that it is now impossible for her to make a coffee run, work out, go shopping, or even relax, without portraying her Gaga image. What about Stefani?

While it’d be amazing to meet the people that Gaga does, travel the world like Gaga does, and “use your popularity for a good cause”, as Cher Horowitz puts it in Clueless, like Gaga does, I wouldn’t want to sacrifice who I am underneath it all.

Though, in interviews, Gaga has claimed that her be-sequinned, meat-dress-wearing, friend of Elton John alter ego is who she is underneath it all. That she was “Born this Way”.

But it must be so tiring to always have the Gaga switch on. To be in full makeup, garish costumes, and setting pianos on fire. Evidently it is, if her collapsing on stage is anything to go by.

Personally, if I was a celebrity, I would want to be either a mediocre one who can go about their business getting papped at the supermarket every once in a while, a Cate Blanchette-esque one, who is as good at their craft as Gaga is, but manages to fly under the radar (except for that whole “Carbon Cate” shemozzle), or even one like Kim Kardashian who, like Gaga, probably doesn’t get a whole lot of genuine downtime, where she can spend a day in bed with no makeup on watching cheesy movies without the reality TV cameras and just be the real Kim, but who has crafted a whole career around her personality and her family.

I have to wonder, is there a price to being Lady Gaga? Ten, twenty, thirty years from now, will she still be around like Madonna, Stevie Nicks or Cyndi Lauper? Or will the sheer intensity she operates at now burn her out within five?

I love Lady Gaga, and I genuinely hope she’ll be around for another fifty years, but I certainly don’t envy her.

Related: [The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Vo-Gaga.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] The Underlying Message in Glee’s “Born This Way” Episode.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Mag Cover of the Week: Lady Gaga for Vogue Hommes Japan in a Meat Bikini.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Guest Post: Lady Gaga’s “Telephone” & 21st Century “Noise”.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Katy P. VS. Lady G.

Image via News.com.au.

TV: Charmed—The Power of Work/Life Balance.

I’ve recently been getting back into my favourite childhood show, Charmed. I’ve got all the seasons on box set, but I still have never seen the final season! I’m aiming to get through it this time.

Despite all the midriff tops and high heels whilst fighting supernatural beings, and damaged household items, buildings and cars which seem to miraculously be fixed by the next episode, if not before, Charmed is a lesson in the work/life balance.

Prue, the head of the Charmed Ones for the first three seasons, struggles with her bosses at Buckland auction house turning into warlocks, a takeover bid by a new company determined to make several million dollars in one day, and quitting the firm to become a freelance photographer. She juggles all this with being somewhat of a second mother to Piper and Phoebe, the token dates and flings the producers throw to her every now and then, and being a witch.

In “Which Prue Is It, Anyway?”, from season one, Prue casts a spell to produce two carbon copies of herself, which carry out tasks such as dealing with her ex-boyfriend and cop on her case, Andy, whilst another one works on a spell with Piper and Phoebe, and yet another goes to Buckland’s to finish up some work. Talk about being a Superwoman!

Piper, who turns out to be the most level headed and conventionally “normal” of the sisters three (keeping in mind I haven’t seen the final season and how Piper’s life eventuates, but I do know that *spoiler alert* Phoebe gets married), gets fed up with being walked over in her season one job as manager of Quake restaurant and quits to open her own club, P3. She then gets seriously involved with whitelighter Leo, whom she marries in season three, and bores two children to him, Wyatt and Chris. They then get divorced, Piper dates other people, they get back together again… Apart from the anguish of knowing their firstborn, Wyatt, grows up to be evil, Piper’s depiction really is the most realistic of the four Halliwell/Matthews sisters.

Which brings us to Phoebe, the youngest of the sisters (until Paige comes along in season four). She enters the show as a free-spirit with a flawed perception of the future, or so we are told by Prue, who’s had her issues with Phoebe in the past. In the first season alone she works as a hotel psychic, Prue’s assistant at Buckland’s and a real estate agent. After she casts a smart spell in “The Painted World” early on in season two, Phoebe decides to expand her knowledge for good and goes back to college. After graduating in season three (wow, I wish I graduated uni that quickly!), she goes on to write a very successful advice column for “The Bay Mirror”, which fellow successful woman Elise edits. Not to forget her tumultuous personal life, which sees her intense connection with Cole/Balthazar turn her into the queen of the underworld, pregnant with demon spawn, and dealing with the death of a sister and the discovery of a new one.

Speaking of, Paige Matthews enters Piper and Phoebe’s life as a successful counsellor at the beginning of season three. She is unreceptive to being a Charmed One at first, and spends most of the first season trying to maintain a “normal life”, with a job, a boyfriend and a new family who happens to be magical. (She later quits to focus on magic full-time.)

After all, that is what Charmed is all about: sisters who just happen to be witches, and everything that goes along with both those roles. While the manifestation of three fully-groomed and immaculately dressed sister witches each morning in the Halliwell manor, who spend their days flitting about town vanquishing demons, protecting the innocent, working their day jobs, caring for their family, going on dates, maintaining a home, studying, managing their own businesses and what not, is extremely unrealistic, the sheer magnitude of what the Charmed ones have to go through each day is kind of a metaphor for what working women—especially those with an extended family who all happen to live under the one roof—go through on a day-to-day basis. And sometimes, they manage to look just as kick-ass as the Charmed ones.

Images via Wikia, CharmedP3, Fan Pop, YouTube.

On the Net: Sarah Ayoub’s Wordsmith Workaholism.

Following on from Monday morning’s post, where I lamented my lack of inspiration, Sarah Ayoub at Wordsmith Lane talks about productivity and the chore of writing in her post, “A Perfect Weekend for Me & a Present for You”:

“It’s hard to be motivated when everything about you is a chore…”

I don’t feel like everything about me is a chore; in fact, I have been getting in a lot of downtime lately and I’ve been able to get through almost all six seasons of Grey’s Anatomy in about a month and a half (more to come on that next month).

But I addressed this notion in an interview with Ayoub here on The Early Bird Catches the Worm last year:

“How do you balance all your commitments?

“I don’t. Something always gives out, like nights in front of the TV or deadlines for my thesis. I don’t have the time management thing down pat yet, and considering the size of my family, I don’t have a lot of time to myself either. I am hoping things will settle down a little after the wedding.

“… Do you find sometimes it’s a chore to churn out articles, book reviews and the like, as previously you would do those things for pleasure?

“I guess my readers can tell when I do something for pleasure because I gush about it, whether it’s a book or make-up and I do think I come across as fairly honest. If it’s not something I am interested in, it doesn’t get a review. Just a mention that it’s out and what it’s supposed to be about. I definitely think I should perhaps cut down to blogging about quality though. I really need to prioritise, as the blog doesn’t really provide a return investment for me at this stage, and there are some more pressing things to worry about, like my thesis, my freelancing and definitely my novel.”

Rachel Hills is also another blogger who writes on workaholism, and you can find her most poignant post here.

There’s a difference between not being motivated enough, and being too busy with work, social life and whatnot, and I seem to be languishing somewhere in the middle…

Glad to my favourite Wordsmith Laner isn’t, though!

[Wordsmith Lane] A Perfect Weekend for Me & a Present for You.

[Wordsmith Lane] A Great Piece of Writing… And My Personal Thoughts.

[Musings of an Inappropriate Woman] My Name’s Rachel, and I’m a Workaholic. And I Think the Internet May Have Something to Do With It.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] My Inspiration Has Run Dry…

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Blogger Profile: Sarah Ayoub of Wordsmith Lane.

My Week in Review (Plus a Couple of Extra Days Thrown in There).

My week usually consists of work, catching up on the multitude of blogs, mags and books I read and my TV shows, blogging (or, as my friend April likened my days off to, “blogging, jogging, more blogging, watching True Blood, and more blogging!”), working out and catching up with friends on one or two nights. I’m lucky in my paid job is very much like a socialising session, as a lot of my friends are also my colleagues. I don’t like to overextend myself too much, but I also like to keep a healthy balance of “me” time and “we” time, which I have blogged about in the past.

This past week, as you will see below, differs from the ideal, above.

Saturday 6th: Work, then went to the last Victorian Roller Derby League tournament before the final at Melbourne Showgrounds on Saturday 27th November.

Sunday 7th: Finally, after more than six months of gruelling labour, abuse by the public and exhaustion in general, my workplace celebrated the end of an era, venturing to several waterholes across the city in merriment. But not before I finished up a 9 til 6 shift at said workplace. Give and take.

Monday 8th: Blogged in the morning, devised a workout circuit in my apartment block’s carpark with my roommate/cousin and then went to a friend’s comedy gig at Spleen Bar on Bourke Street. Thoroughly enjoyed myself, and there were lots of timely Joel Monaghan jokes to whet my appetite for inappropriate humour.

Tuesday 9th: More blogging, then played some pool at Red Triangle in Fitzroy and shared some drinks with a friend.

Wednesday 10th: Back to work, followed by a friend’s going away drinks at The Pumphouse in Carlton.

Thursday 11th: Said friend Tess’s last day at work, which was a bit emotional for her. Some co-workers asked why I wasn’t upset. I replied with the fact that we are such good friends that it’s not like I’d never see her again; in fact, I saw her again the following night!

After sleeping in (started work late), I spent the afternoon shopping for costumes for the work Christmas party at Rose Chong’s costumes in Fitzroy, followed by ice coffee with friends. This was my first night home since last Friday night, and I relished it by catching up on some reading and indulging in Gossip Girl.

Friday 12th: It was too hot to do much, but I blogged in the morning, attended the meeting for the Christmas party mid-afternoon, chilled in front of the TV with Glee and some lemon sorbet, then went out for drinks with Katrina (whom I affectionately, but much to her dismay, like to call Treen Bean) who’s going to the Red Centre for two weeks at The Union in Fitzroy.

After that full on week (which will be reflected in the lesser amount of blog posts than usual this week), I can take solace in the fact that I’ve only committed myself to one talk at the Wheeler Centre, one coffee date, and one evening of Desperately Seeking Susan (which has to do with a top secret blog post I’m working on) and Jennifer’s Body, all of which I will be engaging in solo, as well as a mother/daughter/sister trip to The Way We Wear vintage market in Williamstown on the weekend and a morning jog with a friend this week. Oh, and I guess I’ll have to fit the tedium of work (not to mention bloggingwhich is anything but tedious) in there somewhere! Ahh, I can’t wait for the uneventfulness of it all…

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Taking Inspiration from MamaMia: 10 Things I Need for Work/Life Balance.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Derby Girls: Leaders of the Pack.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Beauty & the Bestiality.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] The (Belated) Underlying Message in Glee’s “Never Been Kissed” Episode.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] The Way We Wear Vintage Market.

The 10 Commandments of Work/Life Balance.

Recently, Mia Freedman posted a list of the ten things she needs for work/life balance, based off a speech she did on the topic.

So I thought I’d shoot off my ten must-haves for staying sane. What are yours?

1. Reading. Without something to readbooks, magazines, blogsI would go crazy. Most days of the week I try to set a good chunk of the evening aside for reading, in addition to whatever reading I manage to get done throughout the day. It simultaneously calms and inspires me.

2. Television. When I’m really spent, I love nothing more than lapsing into a coma, carving out a me-shaped groove, Homer-style, in the bed and getting my Grey’s Anatomy/Glee/Gossip Girl (the three G’s) on.

3. Writing. While I’m not getting paid for blogging, I do consider it a job, therefore I usually work six or seven days a week. Sometimes writing can seem like a chore, as I’m sure it does for all bloggers and writers of any kind at some stage. However, my blogging style and schedule are always changing. I’ve always been a morning person, so I try to churn out reviews and longer articles in the morning before I burn out, then work on smaller/easier posts around midday, and usually clock off around 2pm. Learning what works best for me helps keep writing enjoyable for me.

4. Friends. I’m a hermit by nature, so I really have to force myself to get out and see people. Luckily, a lot of my friends are people I’ve met through work, so everyday is like a play date, and any extra time with them (lunch, movies, after-work drinks) is a bonus. Having a balance of work and play makes me value both more.

5. Staying busy. Following on from the previous sentence, the busier I am, the more inspired I become, and the more I value my downtime. But when work dries up, so too does my inspiration and motivation. It’s a self-perpetuating cycle.

6. My day job. As I said above, I love the people I work with, so most days are riotously fun. I won’t lie, though; sometimes I struggle with the mundaneness of my job description, but four paid days a week and two to three blogging days a week makes for a content Scarlett.

7. Exercise. I’ve been a bit slack with the exercise routine lately, but I started back up again on Sunday, and I have to say: I’m feeling good. As Elle Woods said, “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy”.

8. Write-off days. Sometimes I just feel too tired/sick/insert motivation-affecting emotion here to get up and do the things I need to. In those situations I just write-off the rest of the day and stay in bed with a box-set. I can’t say I don’t struggle with the guilt following one-such-day, but that’s something I’m working on.

9. Fun outings. Dinner/movies/after-work drinks can become a bit monotonous after a while, so I try to shake things up in my friendship group/s by organising fun things like trips to the zoo for friends’ birthdays, dancing all night to ’90s tunes, and indoor rock-climbing. 90% guaranteed to produce lifelong memories… not to mention numerous Facebook profile photo-ops!

10. Me-time/Downtime. Similar to write-off days, but provided I’ve had enough me-time/downtime interspersed between working, blogging and socialising, there is no need for a write-off day. I have been known to pass on social occasions in favour of a good book/magazine/blog/TV show/movie and a bath/block of chocolate/cup of peppermint tea to preserve my long-term sanity and maintain the work/life balance.

Has Feminism Failed?

Last Wednesday evening, I went to a debate about the state of feminism and whether it’s failed at the Melbourne Town Hall on Swanston Street.

Entitled “Feminism Has Failed”, I went into the debate with my own preconceived notions about feminism’s success and came out of it with similar feelings, as I think most of the attendees did, if the vote before and after the debate was anything to go by.

I felt that for someone like me, a young, white, middle-ish class Australian female, feminism hasn’t failed, but for most other women around the world who don’t have access to such things I’m afforded (education, employment, food, water, shelter, the ability to do/be almost anything I want), feminism has certainly failed.

And that was the basis of the first speaker for the affirmative team, Virginia Haussegger’s speech.

Instead of feminism working for women all over the globe, the rest of the world has waged a “global war against women”, or a “gendercide”, if you will. An example of this is the recent Time magazine cover in which an Afghani woman, or girl rather, was depicted with her nose and ears cut off by her husband, after trying to flee his abusive household.

To rebut this argument was Jennifer Byrne, who said she was taking a “working girl’s view” of feminism, and mentioning a phrase we’ve heard a lot of in third-wave feminism“wonder woman”. (Funnily enough, Haussegger has published a book of the same name.) She noted that we have so much choice now that we “scarcely notice feminism” now.

Stephen Mayne, the only male on either debate team, took a business point of view, and harped on about the dismal number of women on ASX publicly traded company boards. He mentioned that his fellow team member, Gaye Alcorn, who spoke last, editor of The Sunday Age, is only given one day a week, as opposed to the six other days of the week in which a man edits the newspaper. Mayne said that feminism surely HAS failed if a phenomenon such as Britain’s Page 3 girls exist, and if “this country came this close to electing Tony Abbott.” All in all, Mayne was the best speaker of the night and really brought it home for his team, in my opinion.

Next up was Monica Dux, whom Haussegger verbally attacked during her speech as “the snooty head girl [of feminism] with the key”, who wouldn’t let her become part of the club because she has views that aren’t necessarily Dux’s own.

Dux addressed the negative connotations feminism sometimes has, asserting that feminism doesn’t have a Bible, as it’s “constantly evolving and changing”, and is “not a cult” with Germaine Greer at the helm.

Gaye Alcorn confuted Byrne’s former assertion that “we hardly notice feminism anymore” with “sexism has become so embedded in our culture that we no longer notice it”, making reference to the David Jones sexual harassment suit that Mayne also spoke about.

Alcorn also mentioned Naomi Wolf’s The Beauty Myth and the great porn debate (more on that to come this week), and that in some ways it’s harder for womenbody image-wisebecause the culture that young people grow up in has changed.

Controversially, Alcorn referenced the Body Image Advisory Board and it’s chairwomen, the “gorgeous” Mia Freedman, Sarah Murdoch and Kate Ellis, saying that of course they had beautiful women to front the campaign, because it wouldn’t have gotten any publicity with Plain Janes. Out of everything the affirmative team said, this was the only thing I took issue with. “Like, sorry those women happen to be genetically blessed, but they have as much right to talk about body image and beauty as a less fortunate-looking woman does. You can’t help the way you’re born,” I said to my friend, who satirically replied, “Well, it’s about beauty, hello?!” Gold.

Finally, Wendy McCarthy spoke, saying that “feminism is the most significant social movement” of the last fifty years. She mentioned that feminism has “created space for men to be better fathers” which, to me, signals that perhaps feminism has failed if that’s the main point she can come up with; that it benefits men.

The debate ended with the final vote, in which the results stayed pretty much the same. While the affirmative team definitely won the debate, in the minds of the audience members, at least, feminism has not failed, and is still alive and well in our culture.

But as the affirmative team mentioned, Western feminists need to stand up for women in less fortunate countries, and by the same token, “feminists can’t be accountable for all feminist issues at all times.”

Newspaper Clipping(s) of the Week.

This week’s choice newspaper clippings come from The Age‘s Sunday Life supplement (Eye of the Beholder, August 8, 2010) and Good Weekend (Calendar Girl, August 7, 2010), respectively.

Calendar Girl, written by Virginia Heffernan, deals with hard-copy diaries like Filofax and the like versus the iPhone and Blackberry’s digitised versions. This is something I struggle to consolidate in my life, as I am an über-fan of stationary, but I just don’t have room in my life for physical lists, schedules etc., when the digital option is right there.

Sometimes I get a bit sick of talking about body image (what with the multitude of blogs, magazines and articles I read each week, as well as the issue being a common theme in my blog posts), but William Leith’s article, Eye of the Beholder, looks at it from a different angle. Why do women look “at a model and fall apart”, while men “shrug off [their] own belly”? Thought provoking stuff.

(Sorry about the crappy formatting—my scanner prefers A4 sized documents.)