On the (Rest of the) Net.

Should feminists support Julia Gillard just because she’s a female Prime Minister? [Daily Life]

Where does your slut-barometre sit? [TheVine]

The Triple J Hottest 100 countdown was a total sausagefest. [Karen Pickering] 

“Who exactly reads Playgirl, anyway?” (SFW) [The Atlantic] 

Is Paris Hilton relevant again? [The Daily Beast] 

Is Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In a modern day Feminine Mystique? [Ms. Magazine] 

Mother to Daughter: Second- VS. Fourth-Wave Feminism.

While I’ve only begun calling myself a feminist in the past few years, I think I’ve always had feminist tendencies: I’ve always believed in reproductive rights, I’ve tried never to judge a woman based on her choices and it’s been instilled in me that, as a woman, I can do and be anything I want to.

A lot of this is thanks to my mum, who is a ’70s bra-burning hippie feminist through and through.

Though recently, as I increasingly immerse myself in current readings of feminism, I see just how far we’ve come, baby, and how the second-wave feminism of my mother’s era is worlds apart from today’s discourse on gender equality.

There have been many debates between second-, third- and fourth-wavers about who did, and is doing, more for the movement.

At a 2011 Melbourne Writers Festival presentation on why we still need feminism, Sophie Cunningham asserted that feminists under 25 can’t really grasp the concept because they’re still young and beautiful and have men falling at their feet. She also observed “a sort of ‘bottleneck’ in modern feminism”, where white, Western feminists aren’t able to incorporate intersectionality into the fold, which was a criticism of SlutWalk, one of latter-day feminism’s most high-profile conquests. Pardon me, but wasn’t it foremother Betty Friedan who was accused of being racist and homophobic with The Feminine Mystique?

Perhaps the most contentious issue is the constant bickering amongst young feminists as to what, exactly, feminism is. You’ve got women undertaking such obviously feminist tasks as Marissa Mayer overseeing Yahoo! and Beyonce nearing total world domination, yet they’re reluctant to call a spade a spade. And the non-feminist media would have you believe there’s infighting going on about who is allowed to be a feminist (definitely not Taylor Swift!).

But, I think, the feminist movement of today would like to believe it’s accessible to all kinds of women (and men): straight, gay, bi, male, female, trans, black, white, mixed-race, rich, poor, able-bodied and non-able-bodied, sex workers, etc. Can second-wave feminism of yesteryear say that?

This divide is illustrated by Germaine Greer’s infamous comments about Julia Gillard’s clothing choices and how they accentuated her apparently undesirable body shape last year on Q&A and feminists everywhere taking to their respective platforms to mostly disagree with her. One such vocal detractor was Mia Freedman, who said Greer “broke my heart a little bit” when she took herself “down in a hail of self-inflicted friendly fire while the world watche[d] in embarrassment.” When the two women appeared together on a recent episode of Q&A, Freedman was asked to clarify her response: did it mean she wasn’t a fan of the “ground-breaking, arse-kicking lightening rod for social change who ignited a feminist movement from which every woman in the western world has benefited” anymore? Was this an example of the abovementioned feminist in-fighting?

Freedman responded that while she has nothing but respect for the woman in whose water she grew up and who influenced her mother’s feminist awakening, “feminism needs to have a lot of different voices… It should be really, really broad and inclusive.” Essentially, feminism should accommodate both the foremothers and their daughters.

Freedman went on in that same episode of Q&A to—what some would describe as—shame sex workers, or “prostitutes” as she archaically called them, which ignited a backlash of her own. So much for that broad inclusion she waxed lyrical about…

While liberating housewives of Germaine and Freedman’s mother’s era from “the problem with no name” and ushering in the birth control pill are milestones women of today must be thankful for, they’re very much narrow-minded accomplishments: The Feminine Mystique appealed to white middle-class women and many women can’t afford the birth control pill, a predicament that still exists today. And second-wave feminism was very much responsible for the sexual liberation of a generation of people, but I’m not so sure that transfers to the hook up, raunch and porn culture/s of today (as Freedman’s comments about sex workers above would indicate).

For example, when I was living at home and Girls of the Playboy Mansion came on the TV, my mum would make me turn it off (keep in mind I was 22 by the time I moved out and this was not long before that). When I brought this up recently as an example of her generation’s reluctance to embrace sex positivity, she launched into a tirade that ended with her calling into question the women who pose for Playboy’s sexual promiscuity.

We must acknowledge that media like Playboy is an inherently patriarchal construct, but I think making the assumption that any woman who uses her sexuality as a commodity is a slave to said patriarchy is buying into the notion that feminism works against: women have no autonomy. Much like the debate over women in Islam (and don’t even get me started on the fight I had with my mum about asylum seekers that, similar to the Playboy exchange, ended with her defensively inquiring about the legality of people seeking asylum via boat), certain kinds of feminism need to broaden their scope to take into account the lives of all women, whether we agree with their choices or not.

This close-mindedness comes from a lack of access to new information and technologies and willingness to learn from and hand the reigns over to the feminists of today, I think. While many feminists of all ages count the works of Greer, Friedan and Naomi Wolf amongst their collection of feminist tomes, how many second-wavers can say the same about the musings of Jessica Valenti, Clementine Ford, Rachel Hills and the myriad feminist bloggers? That face of feminism has certainly changed to make it much more accessible. What once was narrowly accessible at rallies, underground meetings and in academic journals is now available wherever you look: Gillard speaking up against sexism in parliament, movements like SlutWalk and Destroy the Joint and all across the interwebs.

So on this Mother’s Day eve, it’s important to acknowledge the gender equality path paved for me by my feminist foremothers, including my actual mother, but also to recognise that we have, indeed, come a long way, baby. Maybe that’s something that second-wavers need to consider, too.

Related: Why Young Feminists Still Have “A Long, Long Way to Go” In the Eyes of Second-Wave Feminists.

Taylor Swift: The Perfect Victim.

Elsewhere: [The Atlantic] 4 Big Problems with The Feminine Mystique. 

[The Guardian] The Tragic Irony of Feminists Trashing Each Other.

[MamaMia] Germaine Greer: You’ve Lost Me.

[MamaMia] No, I Won’t Apologise for My Sex Worker Comments.

[Daily Life] Stoned for Having Short Hair.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

oz-great-powerful-rachel-weisz-mila-kunis

Considering Frank L. Baum was writing about Dorothy and Oz over one hundred years ago and those tales were more progressive than Oz the Great & Powerful paints a pretty bleak picture of women in Hollywood. [Film.com]

“Vale Girls Gone Wild.” [Daily Life]

Division of household labour between couples. [Jezebel]

On male vanity. [Jezebel]

Celebrity gossip as anthropological experiment: why gossiping about John Travolta’s sexual orientation, whether or not Rihanna should take back Chris Brown and Kristen Stewart’s motivations for cheating on Robert Pattinson tells us more about us as people that in does about celebrities. [YouTube]

AFL fandom: women need not apply. [Erin Riley]

Using “Abortion Humour” to destigmatise it. [Daily Life]

Is My Kitchen Rules racist? [Daily Life]

I was a Sweet Valley High ghostwriter:

“The O[xford] E[nglish] D[ictionary] says the word ‘ghostwriter’ was first used in the 1920s to mean a ‘hack’ hired to write another person’s story. OK, hack, then. So be it. But a hack-in-demand. A hack they wanted. A type-A hack, the Elizabeth Wakefield of hackdom!” [The Kenyon Review]

If you’re a woman, particularly of a minority, carrying condoms in New York City, watch out: you could be arrested for prostitution. I’d better clean out my handbag before I jet off there in October, then… [Vice]

“Anne Hathaway, Ourselves”: why Jennifer Lawrence is your cool bestie, and why you are awkward Anne. [Jezebel]

Does it really matter if you do or don’t call yourself a feminist, as long as you’re advancing feminist causes? Hmm… I still think it’s really important to call yourself a feminist if you believe in and are advancing feminist causes, because it emphasises that gender equality (hell, equality of any kind) isn’t a dirty notion. But who knows? Maybe in the future we won’t need to call ourselves feminists because everything we’re working for will just be part of daily life… [Jezebel]

The Feminine Mystique, 50 years on. [NYTimes]

Image via Ace Showbiz.

TV: The Puberty Blues Give Way to Feminism.

There was an inkling that Ten’s standout show, Puberty Blues, would touch on ’70s-era second-wave feminism a few weeks ago when Sue tried to borrow her boyfriend’s surfboard. Then, last week, she expressed dissatisfaction with their sex life and her partner told her not to “get all femmo” on him. Throw in Sue and Debbie’s strong mothers, and Puberty Blues really taps into “the problem that has no name”—The Feminine Mystique—that both Gary and Debbie’s mums experience, as well.

The show deals tenderly but realistically with Debbie’s parents’ relationship breakdown and how a strong woman in the house both working and doing the domesticities can cause tension in the home. Debbie told her mum in last night’s final that she really admires her for working and having a family, and that makes her believe that she, too, can lead a “big life”.

After saving an old friend from repeated gang rape in the back of a panel van, Debbie and Sue feel empowered and emboldened to do something else with their newfound feminist leanings. So, with nothing to lose in the form of boyfriends and keeping up appearances in the “cool” clique, the young girls the show is centred around venture away from the towels on the beach that is the domain of the “molls” and try their hand in the surf. You go, girls!

Image via This Island Continent…