Event: Midsumma Festival & Women Say Something’s Should We Destroy the Joint?

women say something midsumma should we destroy the joint

Prompted by Alan Jones’ admonition that women in parliament and positions of power are “destroying the joint”, which spurred the online feminist movement of the same name, feminist group Women Say Something brought their panel consisting of such high profile Aussie feminists as Tara Moss, Catherine Deveny and Gretel Killeen to the Thornbury Town Hall on Saturday night to ask whether we should, in fact, destroy the joint.

I must say I didn’t know much about Killeen’s feminist credentials prior to the event, but her total rejection of the Destroy the Joint movement, and most modern movements, was the surprise of the night. Killeen said she didn’t really believe in the premise of feminism and that she identifies more as an egalitarian. Tara Moss interjected here, saying that there’s not just one Feminism and that everyone has their own version of what feminism is. While I do support this notion to a certain extent, I think feminism is first and foremost about equality for all, not just for women. And I also take issue with different feminisms for the fact that this allows people like Tony Abbott and Sarah Palin, who are the furthest things from feminism out there, to claim themselves as part of “the club”.

This idea certainly didn’t go undiscussed, either, as Killeen raised the point that modern feminism is always looking for “aggressive marketing terms” like Destroy the Joint, SlutWalk and reclaiming the word cunt to recruit new members, like Abbott, no matter their ideologies and at the risk of offending the general public. Who cares about the general public? They’re always offending me with their sexist, racist and homophobic ways, so why not ruffle some feathers with feminism?

This lead Killeen to ask when feminism became a label that just anyone could apply to themselves. While I agree with this, and it’s the point I tried to make above, it is contradictory to what (my) feminism is about: equality. Moss then raised the argument of who’s more or less of a feminist, which is an issue I struggle with and which I’ve written about before. Someone then said that feminism allows room for discussion and disagreement, which the panellists certainly demonstrated; feminism isn’t a one size fits all movement.

It seems as though Killeen was playing devil’s advocate at first, with all her snubbing of most of the other panelist’s ideas. But as the night progressed, it became clear that she actually has some pretty radical views of human rights. As Catherine Deveny asserted, it’s not about feminism: it just comes down to being an “asshole and not [being an] asshole”. Here, here.

Some current pop cultural issues came up during question time, such as Beyonce’s recent underwear-clad GQ cover and accompanying article in which she espouses some feminist ideals, without actually saying the word itself. (Let’s remember in 2011 that she neither confirmed nor denied that she was a feminist, instead she suggested we create a new word for the movement.) Moss again reiterated the notion of many feminisms and that “if one of them happens to be in their underwear then that’s great,” which I wholeheartedly support (even if I don’t support feminism being thrust upon an undeserving pop star).

If Abbott’s declaration is anything to go by, seemingly every Tom, Dick and Harry are clamouring to get a piece of the feminist pie, what about all the damning of feminism as a “failed” movement? Deveny insisted that, as many a book, blog post, feminist or historian will tell you, feminism is the most successful human rights movement alongside the black civil rights one. Without feminism, we wouldn’t have the Pill, childcare, pay advances, or the vote, amongst a myriad of other rights.

So, should women destroy the joint? As one panellist said (who it was escapes me now), movements like Destroy the Joint and SlutWalk are “training ground[s] for activism”. Killeen suggested, again, that they’re just angry marketing ploys and that they don’t do anything to further our cause. Facilitator Kate Monroe and fellow panellist Casey Jenkins insisted that primarily social media movements are vital in “chipping away” at the patriarchal zeitgeist, and we need that as much as the “fireworks” of Julia Gillard’s misogyny speech, for example.

On anger, Gillard managed to harness hers at her treatment by pretty much the whole of Australia and turn it into one of Aussie feminism’s most important moments heard ’round the world, regardless of her personal or political beliefs. Many of the panellists (except, again, Killeen) agreed with an audience member’s assertion that anger is an important virtue when it comes to feminism. Far from the archetype of the angry, man-hating, hairy pitted feminist, anger can be fermented into passion which is essential for any feminist and feminist movement, wouldn’t you say?

What do you think? Should we be destroying the joint or do you think there are less radical ways to bring people around to feminism?

Related: Magazine Cover of the Week: Beyonce Named Sexiest Woman of the Century.

Why is Feminism Still a Dirty Word?

Image via Facebook.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

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Think many rapes are reported falsely and the few actual rapists are punished for their crime? As this graph shows, you can think again. [Daily Life]

Interested in Melbourne’s gay culture and history? Go on this walking tour of Melbourne’s beats as part of Midsumma next weekend.

And while you’re at it, book tickets for Women Say Something‘s “Should We Destroy the Joint”, as Alan Jones so misogynistically termed women’s involvement in public life, panel featuring Gretel Killeen, Tara Moss and Catherine Deveny, on Saturday 19th January. [Midsumma]

Yay! Finally a famous female who identifies as a feminist. Although I wish it was someone I actually liked, beggars can’t be choosers… [Daily Life]

Where did all the African American rom-coms go? As a lover of black rom-coms like Two Can Play That Game and The Wood, I can certainly empathise with this author’s plight… [HuffPo]

Here’s a smorgasboard of articles attempting to unpack the now-defunct Nice Guys of OKCupid. [Jezebel, The Pursuit of Harpyness, The Atlantic, Daily Life]

What the modern incarnations of Sherlock Holmes get wrong about Irene Adler. [io9]

Abortion facts infographics. [Jezebel]

For those of you unfamiliar with the Steubenville High School Big Red football team rape and cover-up scandal, here’s a history of the town’s corrupt ways. [The Atlantic Wire]

Boycotting Chris Brown’s music is all well and good, but are we at a point where Rihanna’s blatant disregard for the impact her very public decision to get back with her abuser has on her impressionable fans and fellow battered partners alike means shunning her, too? Or is it just victim-blaming? Interesting piece. [The Peach]

Why does Tony Abbott keep ducking the “MamaMia crowd”? [MamaMia]

Is Gina Rinehart a feminist? [Daily Life]

A breakdown of exactly what you can afford when you live on $35 a week as a family of four on the Newstart Allowance, as Families Minister Jenny Macklin asserted last week. [MamaMia]

Is Les Mis anti-feminist? [Daily Life]

Image via Daily Life.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

Check out Amy Mebberson’s series of Disney “Pocket Princesses”. Ever so on-point. [My Junk Drawer]

I never had a problem with the Lingerie Football League… until now. Did you know they have “accidental nudity” clauses in their contracts, meaning they can’t wear anything under their uniforms to prevent wardrobe malfunctions? Did you know the League refuses to unionise the players or give them health insurance? Did you know they don’t get paid because the League is classified as amateur and therefore they have to pay to play?! [Fit & Feminist]

Catherine Deveny on the new changes to domestic violence laws.

The make-up free celebrity TwitPic as marketing tool. [Daily Life]

Germaine Greer really threw herself under the bus with those Julia Gillard-jacket comments: she’s now writing about ugg boots. [The Age]

One blogger attempts to see how gross she can act on an online dating site before men will stop trying to get in her pants. [Jezebel]

Now this is compassion! The Christian abortion doctor who was formerly anti-abortion tells why he now performs late-term abortions for women in need. [Jezebel]

The orgasm and 18th century vibrators as tools against hysteria. [Jezebel]

Image via My Junk Drawer.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

Post of the week: Catherine Deveny on body love. [MamaMia]

On sexual harassment and “nightclub feminist success”. [Musings of an Inappropriate Woman]

Atheists are just as bad as rapists… and feminists. [Jezebel]

Lingerie football. What do you think? Personally, I’m not a huge fan of playing sports in underwear, but I don’t have much of a problem with it. [MamaMia]

“The Problem with My Week with Marilyn.” [Jezebel]

All long-term monogamous relationships are a transaction, says Ms. Elouise, so what’s the big problem with “paying your wife for sex”? [Feminaust]

Facebook, girl-hate and “I’m a better feminist than you” tête-à-têtes. [Howling Clementine]

XOJane on the message Breaking Dawn sends to virgins.

The Manic Pixie Dream Girl trope extends to indie films, too. [The Atlantic]

iPhone 4S’ Siri is pro-life, apparently. [Gizmodo]

When hemlines rise, so does bitchiness. [Jezebel]

Stella Young on the disability pension myth. [MamaMia]

Former Wordsmith Laner Sarah Ayoub-Christie tries to reconcile her modern marriage with her traditional Lebanese upbringing. [MamaMia]

“Teaching Good Sex” in school. What a novel idea! [New York Times]

Men in porn:

“The straight male performer must be attractive enough to serve as a prop, but not so attractive that he becomes the object of desire. As [porn publicist, Adella] Curry puts it, ‘No one wants to alienate the male audience’.” [Good]

Image via MamaMia.

Event: Unfinished Business at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival.

If you’ve ever wondered what goes into a Melbourne International Comedy Festival gig, Unfinished Business, the brainchild of Laura Money and Kieran Eaton, answers all your questions, including “can a couple do a comedy show together?”

Yes, they can.

Unfinished Business begins with Laura arriving home from a day at work, where Kieran greets her with toilet humour and “fat beats about wanking”, which got the show off to a shaky but promising start.

Knowing Laura and Kieran personally, it was fun to see their odd-couple dynamic come alive on stage as they fictionally battled for who would headline this year’s MICF show, as they can only afford for one of them to enter the festival. Kieran likens his lady love to a potato, professing that he “likes my women like my potatoes”: in a brown jacket (insert a conveniently brown t-shirt-clad Laura). Sometimes he even likes them mashed up and to stick carrots inside.

Kieran does have a certain odd-ball quality, which he milks for all it’s worth, likening his social awkwardness to a mild case of autism, to which Laura replies, “Maybe I should apply for a carer’s card?” Joke of the night.

Meanwhile, Laura brings her signature sarcastic bitchiness to the table, mocking a girl she works with, whom she likes to call the “OMG girl”, which was totes, like, epic and shit, and a brilliant take on pretentious Toorak mums with their “prams the size of the Himalayas”, “babychinos” and “gluten-free, sugarless biscotti’s” when they’re actually “looking wistfully over at the lemon meringue pie and thinking, ‘If only I could separate eggs’.”

The show culminates in the duo giving us their best comedic scenarios and one-liners, including a fabulous “I did I.T. at uni cos I liked the book by Steven King” quip.

If you’re into independent comedy and have a spare $12 left over from seeing the Akmals Saleh’s, Danny Bhoy’s and Catherine Deveny’s, you should check out Unfinished Business. And not just because Kieran and Laura spared me $12 (media pass; score!) to say that!

Tickets available via TicketMaster and at the door of Caz Reitops Dirty Secrets, 80 Smith Street, Fitzroy.

[Melbourne International Comedy Festival] Kieran Eaton & Laura Money in Unfinished Business.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] On Stripping.

In the News: Minus Two & a Half Men.

Girl with a Satchel featured an excerpt from a Washington Post column about body snarking at the Oscars:

“I would like to note that more space was devoted to photographs of ladies wearing dresses… than for the last two weeks’ coverage of the events in Libya.”

This is also true of the news coverage in Vietnam, where a colleague of mine (whom I mentioned as the friendly workplace Big Issue provider earlier this week) is spending five weeks. In a recent email, he said that the hot topic on the news there is Charlie Sheen, not Libya, Egypt or Japan, which bore the brunt of a 7.3 magnitude earthquake yesterday afternoon.

A story on MamaMia written by publicist Steven Murphy echoes this:

“His weakness for drugs and alcohol is… well documented and he has been fodder for the tabloid press for years.

“But this latest incident is front-page news like no other. But why? Why is this incident haunting our news services day and night?”

The article somewhat-annoyingly glossed over the fact that his drug and alcohol problems are put at the forefront of his negative publicity, when his hatred of women and obvious mental illness are shoved to the back.

Jezebel hasn’t forgotten, however, with a no-bullshit article entitled “Charlie Sheen’s History of Violence Toward Women” published last week. The article also dealt with John Galliano’s disgraceful display of anti-Semitism, and what the news stories don’t tell you:

“Galliano allegedly grabbed gallery curator Geraldine Bloch by the hair and said, ‘Shut your mouth, dirty bitch, I can’t stand your dirty whore voice.’”

I, myself, didn’t even know that happened until I read the article, and I usually take a vested interest in these sorts of things.

On the plus side, Galliano has been fired as head designer of Christian Dior and—finally!—Sheen’s been fired as head douchebag on Two & a Half Men, to be replaced, allegedly, by reformed bad boy and fellow brat pack member, Rob Lowe.

While I couldn’t be happier about the latter (let’s shout it from the rooftops!), Galliano’s reign at Dior produced some of the finest garments the fashion world has seen, and it’s unfortunate it had to come to this.

But I applaud the fashion house for ousting the anti-Semite, and stars like Natalie Portman, who have publicly spoken out against him.

Both men’s firings show that there is a zero tolerance policy against these kinds of abhorrent behaviours, and hopefully other companies, in the entertainment industry and otherwise, will follow suit.

Although Michael Specter of The New Yorker doesn’t think so, writing that:

“the fashion world has a remarkable ability to shrug off the odd deeply flawed human being, as long as he or she can cut a dress like Galliano can or wear one like Kate Moss, who, despite behaviour that sets a disastrous example for millions of girls, including issues with drugs, is forgiven because, well, she is really very pretty.”

I haven’t always been innocent in providing double standards to those I like, think are talented, and should be forgiven for their indiscretions.

Just yesterday, some co-workers and I were talking about Catherine Deveny’s tweets at last year’s Logies. Personally, I didn’t find them to be offensive, and sorely miss her column on the back page of The Saturday Age’s Life & Style (formerly the A2). But, looking back on it, The Age did the right thing by sacking her. At the time, both Deveny and I used the excuse that she’s a comedienne; that’s her job. I guess it takes the disgraces of people you don’t like to understand the repercussions of (the disgraces of) those you do.

Once such repugnant crime committed by professional wrestler Chris Benoit in 2007, when he murdered his wife and son and killed himself, gave me lots to think (and write) about. On the one hand, I felt his legacy as one of the best professional wrestlers ever to grace the squared circle shouldn’t be forgotten, however, Benoit took three lives and sullied the reputation of professional wrestling (okay, there wasn’t much of a reputation left to sully!) and sparked a debate on steroids and drug testing that raged for years; the smoke of which still lingers today.

I’ve written several articles on that story and, with a new frame of mind to cast a different light on the story, I think I may just revisit said articles. (The anniversary of the double-murder suicide is June 24, so watch this space around that time.)

Benoit was obviously seriously mentally ill; the (not-so-) funny thing is, his friends, family and co-workers never picked up on it.

Charlie Sheen, however, has a long history of violence and drug use, and there’s no telling what he’s capable of.

[MamaMia] Advice to Charlie Sheen from Australia’s Top Publicist.

[Jezebel] Charlie Sheen’s History of Violence Toward Women.

[The New Yorker] John Galliano’s Implosion.

[Girl with a Satchel] Body Snarking is So No Funny But Jacki Weaver is Fab.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] The Big Issue Review, 1-14 March 2011.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] The Anatomy of a Douchebag.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Guilty Until Proven Innocent: Charlie Sheen’s Witness.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Why Are Famous Men Forgiven for Their Wrongdoings, While Women Are Vilified for Much Less?

Images via NY Daily News, The Gloss, Pop Culture Madness.

Newspaper Clipping of the Week.

Kate Holden craves a “nook” in her back page piece of The Saturday Age’s Life & Style supplement.

Since Catherine Deveny left her regular spot there last year, I’ve shunned the final page with its rotating roster of writers. This week’s title isn’t anything special (“When Stress Has You Over a Barrel, Just Get in One”), so I’m not sure what possessed me to read it, but I’m glad I did.

In addition to finding a nook in cities crammed with people, she writes of struggling to be alone in such cities, with commuters shutting the world out with headphones, using our mobile as armour at parties, and putting our “don’t mess with me” faces on while walking from one place to the next.

I can empathise with Holden immensely here, as I like to be alone most of the time, and get very agitated and stressed if I don’t have such alone time. Living with a social butterfly helps; I’ve often got the house to myself.

But when I went away with eight friends on a houseboat last month, it was a different story… I even got accused of being a “slow reader” because I struggled to switch off and delve into the mountain of reading material I brought with me. Well, I never!