80th Down Under Feminists Carnival.

Sex & Relationships.

Men find us more desirable when we’re incapacitated. [Reuters]

Rachel Hills on sex then and now. [Time]

Three former sex workers tell their stories. [Cosmopolitan]

Sometimes human bodies are just human bodies; do we have to sexualise them all the time? [SBS]

Race & Racism.

People of colour can be racist, too. [Daily Life]

“Every 28 hours a black person is killed by police or vigilantes”: what Aboriginal deaths in custody have in common with America’s current protesting of the murders of unarmed black people by police. [Daily Life]

Please don’t act so surprised that Indigenous children are 5.2 times more likely to die than non-Indigenous children. [The Koori Woman]

“When is anthropology going to start taking Indigenous theories seriously instead of subjecting them to their own analyses and theorising about them?” [Fieldnotes & Footnotes]

A guide to therapy for Asian Australians. [No Award]

Is two upper-middle-class white guys agreeing about the fate of Indigenous Australians in the constitution really the best way to go about it? [New Matilda]

Punjabi migration to New Zealand. [Stargazer]

The cycle of poverty and homelessness continues for one West Australian Indigenous family of women and girls. [The Stringer]

Reflections on #illridewithyou from the woman who started the hashtag. [Silence Without]

Australia’s racism problem in ten incidents from 2014. [The Koori Woman]

Racism in Australian media: some choice examples. [No Award]

Pop Culture & The Media.

The Australian ran a photo of Christmas-ruiner and Greens senator Larissa Waters’ young daughter wearing pink because journalism. [Junkee]

“Dear Mark Latham, Mothers Are Not the Natural Enemy of Stay-At-Home Dads.” [Daily Life]

Sarah MacDonald called the Australian Financial Review to complain about Mark Latham’s column. They called her husband back. [Women’s Agenda]

Lena Dunham and the Slenderman attempted murder both make us confront our fears of women and girls not behaving in socially prescribed ways. [Bitch Flicks]

Further to that, we’re still as captivated by witches in popular culture as we were during the medieval and Salem witch inquisitions.

What does Miss Julie have in common with Gone Girl? [Flaming Moth]

The responsible reporting of sexual assault and intimate partner violence. [Women’s Agenda]

On that note, Junkee published a guide on responsible social media use in the wake of Sydney’s hostage situation.

Why did The Guardian give a platform to an allegedly falsely accused rapist when alleged victims of rape are so rarely afforded the same? [Women’s Agenda]

“The Best Misandrist Films of 2014.” [Brocklesnitch]

Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol is in dire need of an update. [Hoyden About Town]

How many times do we have to read news reports on sexual assault that focus on the victim’s actions not the perpetrator? [The News With Nipples]

Ju’s Australian Women’s Writers Challenge wrap up. [The Conversationalist]

Girl-friendly video games. [On the Left]

Violence Against Women *trigger warning*.

Has 2014 been the year of the stalker?

“The Worst Time I Was Street Harassed.”

“Why Rape Jokes Are Never Okay”. [Feminaust]

We don’t need to ask why Man Haron Monis perpetrated the Sydney siege. His miles-long rap sheet of sexual and physical violence towards women speaks volumes. [Women’s Agenda]

And in the wake of the siege, a dissection of the Change.org petition calling for stricter bail laws and the impact that might have. [Hoyden About Town]

This is what happens to women who fight back against street and sexual harassment. [Daily Life]

Reproductive Rights.

Abortion should be safe, legal and be performed as often or as rarely as the woman who finds herself with an unwanted pregnancy wants and needs it to:

“We are a society that can land a rocket on a comet, splice fish genes into strawberries, and invent cars that reverse park all by themselves; we’re people that fight for marriage equality, dig deep during natural disasters and legislate overnight against ‘coward punch’ violence in the street. And yet our attitudes to the simple procedure of discontinuing a pregnancy remain shrouded in misconception.” [Daily Life]

We can’t forget informed consent when it comes to medical procedures. [On the Left]

Politics.

Tony Abbott plays that “gender card” he so often accused Julia Gillard of. [Women’s Agenda]

Further to that, it’s “too little, too late”. [No Place for Sheep]

Women lawyers have a fat chance of being considered for appointment to High Court judge. [Women’s Agenda]

A Very Tony Abbott Christmas. [Brocklesnitch]

Just like the Labor government they said they’d be nothing like, the Coalition has had their fair share of surprises and excuses since taking office. [No Place for Sheep]

The way we report on politicians’ personal lives proves that “understanding and empathy aren’t dependent on one’s relationship status or parenthood”. [No Place for Sheep]

Prime Minister Tony Abbott misses the mark on why the repealing of the carbon tax is good for women. [Curl]

Why don’t our politicians have any personality? [No Place for Sheep]

Miscellaneous & General Feminism.

Depression around Christmastime (trigger warning: suicide). [Brocklesnitch]

On identity politics: “You’re Not Really X”. [The Rainbow Hub]

“Adventures in Free-Boobing.” [Jessica Hammod]

“How to Be a Good Parent to Your Bisexual, Lesbian or Gay Child.” [Opinions @ BlueBec]

The history of cyberfeminist group VNS Matrix. [Motherboard]

How to be alone as a woman:

“To be alone is to be eccentric. To be alone and a girl is to be nuts.” [Spook Magazine]

Rachel Hills has just started a newsletter: sign up for updates on her blog, book and more! [Emails of an Inappropriate Woman]

How personal feminism evolves. [Skud]

“Pregnant Refugees Left in Sun, Denied Food & Water, Removed with Force: Advocates.” [ABC]

I said goodbye to friend and colleague Stella Young.

More farewells to Stella, from Maeve Marsden and Brocklesnitch.

On Old Fartism: “a position of social insecurity… Old Fartism can be found in people of any age or gender, but it is most prevalent among those who have lived in a world where their viewpoint and interests were reflected by default, to the exclusion of other subject categories.” [Junkee]

Critiquing modern motherhood doesn’t equate to being anti-children:

“It is indeed the opening of these doors that has rendered work-family balance problematic in the first place since it is the entry of women into the public domain, and specifically into paid employment, that problematises liberal-capitalist conceptions of the ideal worker, which presupposes a wife at home.” [Online Opinion]

Who are the top game-changing women medievalists? [Australian Medievalists]

Rosie Batty is Daily Life’s Woman of the Year.

The ugly girls club. [Daily Life]

On the (Rest of the) Net.

Muslim women “are spoken for and about constantly in mainstream media but are rarely permitted to speak for themselves, despite this being the very accusation levelled against Islam and Muslim societies.” [Daily Life]

This piece perfectly sums up the problem with Glee: it never allowed itself—or its characters—to grow. [Bitch Flicks]

Gone Girl on film perpetuates the misogyny the book was perhaps crafting a commentary against:

“The Amy of Fincher’s Gone Girl isn’t Cool, or complicated, or sympathetic. She’s the ‘crazy fucking bitch’ that Nick calls her, yet another example for the eternal argument for women’s unhingeability and hysteria.” [Buzzfeed]

“What does it take for an Asian male to get some action on TV?” [Vulture]

The 77th Down Under Feminists Carnival has a bunch of fantastic links from feminist writers in Australia and New Zealand in the past month. For the month prior, check out my curation. [Zero at the Bone]

What if men were told the same things women about their bodies and sex? [The Guardian]

President Obama keeps making sexist comments about his marriage. [Slate]

Michael Corleone. Walter White. The Joker. Amy Dunne? Is Gone Girl‘s sociopathic protagonist just another brilliant antihero? [Lainey Gossip]

California’s new affirmative consent laws will not “redefine most sex as rape”. [Feministing]

“The Price of Black Ambition.” [VQR]

On the (Rest of the) Net.

rape robin thicke blurred lines

Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” lyrics, as said by rapists. [Sociological Images]

On the (Rest of the) Net.

peta vegans go all the way campaign

PETA get more anti-women with each ad campaign. [Daily Life]

On favouring the internet over books. I’m a rapacious reader; if I don’t get at least an hour’s reading time in each day, I will slowly start to go insane. Some of my friends tease me ’cause it can take me up to a month or six weeks to finish a book (the most recent was Stephen King’s Under the Dome, and what a waste of two months that was!), but that’s not taking into account the copious amounts of other reading I do. On a good day, I’ll devour every article on TheVine, Daily Life, MamaMia and Jezebel, and fit in some before-bed book reading. On the weekends I can get through The Age‘s lifestyle sections, long-form articles I can’t commit to throughout the week and magazines that have been languishing on my bedside table for weeks, on top of all the rest. I read probably millions of words a week. I don’t think there’s any harm in some of those words being from the internet. These days, reading is about so much more than books. Just so long as I can get a chapter or two in every night or on the bus, I’ll take my reading where I can get it. [Daily Life]

Reading letters to Ms. magazine’s editors from the 1980s. [The New Yorker]

The rise of the Trojan Horse TV show. [Film School Rejects]

Chief Commissioner of Victoria Police, Ken Lay, pleads with the public to view violence against women as not just a women’s issue. [The Hoopla]

I review Monash Uni Student Theatre’s production of Columbine. [TheatrePress]

Anna Gunn, the actress who plays Skyler White on Breaking Bad, weighs in on the vitriol directed at her character. [NYTimes]

Can you perform a gay anthem if you’re straight? [Jezebel]

The privileged male sexuality of “Blurred Lines”. [Collapse Board]

In defence of the make-up-free selfie. I like MamaMia‘s Body Positive campaign, but I think it’s just the concept of the selfie I’m a bit iffy about. I’m all for taking a photo of myself after exercise or of a body part that I’m self-conscious about, but I just can’t get behind selfies (so to speak). Maybe it’s also an insecurity about my face without makeup. Apart from my legs, my bare face is the body part I most struggle with. I love the structure of my face, and I think my eyes are my best feature, but I’m still sporting the scars from years of late-adolescence/early-adulthood acne which means I’m not ready to upload a make-up-free pic of myself for all the interwebs to see. Plus, I think selfies are kind of narcissistic—there’s a difference between a light-hearted holiday or dancefloor snap with friends and a duckface bathroom pic which just screams “validate me!” What do you think of the whole selfie phenomenon in general?

Some slighted feminists sick of receiving dick pics have decided to make them into an art exhibition. And that’s where the issue of consent comes in. [Daily Life]

Image via SMH.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

americas next top model caridee smart

Approaching America’s Next Top Model from an academic perspective. [The Atlantic]

The enduring relevance of Freaks & Geeks. [TheVine]

Gay men need consent to touch a woman, too. [Role/Reboot]

Why do humans have sex at night? (SFW) [io9]

In defence of “Blurred Lines”. Could it in fact be about sexual liberation instead of sexual assault? [Slate]

Image via Wet Paint.

Book Review: Night Games by Anna Krien.

anna krien night games

Everywhere you look lately, there seems to be a promo for Anna Krien’s latest investigative tome, Night Games, and rightly so: it’s a fantastic, impeccably researched and hard-hitting look at misogyny and power in football. I might be a little biased having a vested interested in the topic and, as I told Krien when I got my copy signed at the Readings Carlton book launch last week, the rape statistics she rattled off in an excerpt reading at the event, unfortunately they’re nothing I haven’t heard before.

Having said that, though, Night Games is an absorbing read for those well versed in the misogynistic nature of “jock culture” as well as for those new to the topic. Krien makes sure not to alienate sports fans who may be wary of picking up the book:

“This book is not anti-sport. ‘”Jock culture” is a distortion of sports,’ the American author and sports journalist Robert Lipsyte once noted, warning that America was in danger of finding its values in the locker room. It’s not the game, the pleasure of the play, that’s dangerous. It’s the piss stains in the grass, the markings of men who use sport as power and the people—teammates, fans, coaches, clubs, doctors, police, journalists, groupies—who let them do whatever they want.” [p. 266]

However, “football is an abnormal society” [p. 70], and nothing reflects that more than the bulk of the book, which deals with “regrettable sex” [p. 73] or rape accusations, depending on who you ask, against AFL and NRL players; “Camel Nights”, in which players bring two women they don’t care for so “everyone gets a hump” [p. 71]; and that infamous Cronulla Sharks group-sex scandal from 2002 that came to light in a 2009 Four Corners exposé, amongst many other examples.

Speaking of Matthew Johns and Cronulla, Krien quotes an anonymous player who laments the stigma of group sex bonding sessions:

“It’s like saying you can’t be homosexual, or you can’t have such-and-such sexual preferences. How can he tell us what to do in our private lives?… We already have so many rules; we can’t drink on these days, we can’t go to these places, now we can’t have group sex. About the only thing we can do these days is go to club functions and just hang around with other players. That’s just isolating us more from the rest of the world, and it could lead to even more violent acts.” [p. 46]

While it’s easy to scoff at these privileged footballer comments, he does make a valid point. It’s kind of like the argument against restricting dangerous dog breeds: the more you isolate a pit bull, for example, the more likely it is to be aggressive to other dogs and humans when it does come into contact with them.

Oftentimes, the difference between a rape allegation and the aforementioned “regrettable sex” is treating a woman well. You know, like a human being:

“‘It’s not during the act, it’s the way you treat them after it. Most of them could have been avoided if they’d have put them in a cab and said, you know, thanks for that, sort of thing, not just kicked her out, call her a dirty whatever, that sort of thing. It’s how you treat them afterwards that can cover a lot of that sort of stuff up.” [p. 183]

But what Krien makes the reader understand is that groupie sex with a footballer is not about the woman, it’s about them:

“A footballer does not look at another human when he fucks a groupie. He’s looking at his glorified reflection—and when he performs, he’s doing it for ‘the boys’, not her.” [p. 200]

And:

“[Sam Newman] said it [the hazing of sports writer Caroline Wilson on The Footy Show] was a compliment of sorts, a sign that the Footy Show culture ‘accepted’ her. In other words, it wasn’t really about Wilson, it was about them. About a subculture of men trying to find a place—albeit a very lowly place—in their world for a woman. Considering that it’s all about the boys, they prey doesn’t even need to be present.” P. 72.

Going back to the group sex-as-bonding scenario, it makes sense that the woman/women would be used as a vessel to bring the teammates closer together. And further to the absence of a woman, we can see this in the social media shaming of the Steubenville victim, for example. The whole team—and, by extension, the town—we’re brought closer together by reliving the girl’s assault on YouTube and Twitter.

Obviously this is one of the more extreme and brutal examples of sexual assault in sport, but Night Games also talks about the “gulf of uncertainty between consent and rape” [p. 73] and the many sexual experiences that occur therein. Krien also comes across as sympathetic to the “… ongoing education about how to negotiate sexual encounters in a way which ensures informed consent is always obtained” [p. 47] amongst the codes, but there’s still a long way to go, baby. This is exemplified by an educational male-on-male rape video that is shown during a training session. Many of the players are noticeably upset, with one lamenting that “You don’t really ask for trouble if you have too much to drink and get raped by a bloke. You don’t ask for that.” I’ll just let the double standards marinate for a bit after you consider that the video shown prior to this was one of mistaken identity male-on-female rape to which the players were less than sympathetic. [p. 188–189]

The abovementioned “grey zone” that exists between the sexes “to explain what was lost in translation” [p. 259] takes the form of the rape trial of Justin Dyer (name changed), an amateur footballer accused of raping Sarah Wesley (also not her real name) the night Collingwood won the 2010 grand final rematch. Many of the reviews of Night Games seem to focus heavily on this “he said, she said”, but Krien expressed relief when facilitator of the Readings event, Sophie Cunningham, skirted that issue. While the trial beautifully bookends all the points Krien makes about the treatment of women in male team sports, it’s not the be all and end all of Night Games. Similarly, though Sarah declined to be interviewed by Krien, thus leaving “all those little erased bits, I thought, hovering around like question marks” [p. 245], I don’t think it does the book detriment. In fact, I can’t envisage how Night Games could get any better.

Related: In Defence of Mia Freedman.

Elsewhere: [The Vine] All Dogs Go to Seven.

This review has been submitted to The Australian Women Writers Challenge as part of their 2013 Challenge.

Image via Kill Your Darlings.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

Kelly Rowland’s latest single is about cunnilingus. Get it, girl!

The threat of James Deen. [Daily Life]

Now they’re gendering cordial! [Feminaust]

In defence of Hannah, Marnie, Jessa and Shoshanna in the aftermath of season two of Girls:

“Lena Dunham has perfected her ability to push her audience past their comfort zones by forcing them to relate to or identify with someone who they’d rather not relate to or identify with. When people react negatively to her work, I think that’s often what it is that they’re reacting against. Her artistic—yeah, I’m going to say it—genius is pushing the viewer from thinking Who would do that? to I’ve thought about that to I’ve done that.”

And I think that sums up the difference between season one of Girls, which was so unabashedly relatable, if not totally likeable, and season two, which stagnated more in the former realm of Dunham’s alleged “artistic genius”. [Jezebel]

Calling all Aussie (and NZ) Gala Darling fans: she’s bringing her Blogcademy brainchild down under. Wouldn’t you know it, the Melbourne workshop takes place when I just so happen to be in Gala’s hood: New York City!

Clementine Ford unpacks the verdicts handed down in the Steubenville, Ohio rape case and why sexual assault is not a “mistake” made by “promising young men” who deserve a “second chance”. [Daily Life] 

New girl crush: Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg. That woman really knows what she’s talking about when it comes to feminism and women in the workplace. [Jezebel]

Girls, How I Met Your Mother and consent. [Think Progress] 

Porn consumption = more accepting of marriage equality? [MamaMia]

On Taylor Swift, Anne Hathaway and fake humility. [TheVine]