July 15th, 2009


Thoughts on sexism and feminism

A couple of months back I was talking with a friend who told me that she is just done trying to have to constantly explain sexism to people. She told me that she's so over it that she just doesn't and that she figures that she just doesn't need to be around people who think like that and so simply chooses not to associate with them. She said she was glad people like me were still out there having the (same) conversation because she was very tired of it and it meant she didn't have to have it anymore.

At the time I thought that was such a shame.

This week, I'm kinda really understanding it. The outcome of the Triple J Hottest 100 has really knocked me around emotionally more than I would have thought something like that ever could. It's like hanging out with a bunch of people who you thought were your friends only to accidentally overhear them bitching about you when they don't know you're there. I think I feel really betrayed by it - that the listeners were not *my people* after all. That I don't belong in that crowd. And more than that, if the demographic is young white men, say, I feel devastated to think that the feminist movement has had so little impact on the way that demographic views and experiences the world.

The station would have you believe that the vote was democratic and that they themselves are female friendly. An anonymous commenter came past a different post today and dropped a link to a blog that analyses the playlist of Triple J to point out to me that 5 of the top 10 most played songs this year on Triple J were female artists. But the bit maybe I wasn't supposed to read was the fine print where 77% of the top 100 most played songs on this station were male artists/bands. So ... Triple J, you aren't that female friendly after all.

I'm currently grappling with whether it's time for me to walk away from the station altogether, after more than a decade and a half of being a devoted listener. I'm worried though about where else I would at least be exposed to a more diverse musical choice than commercial radio. I don't have that much spare time to work at this part of my life.

But back to the feminist discussion. pharaoh_katt is coming up against some of the good old-fashioned feminist bingo comments in relation to our Female Appreciation Month. You know, doesn't this exclude men and don't hand outs and special treatment towards women make men feel left out and inflame the situation? That kind of thing. And I know these are likely the younger male generation who need to hear this stuff explained to them about privilege and equality not yet achieved etc. But to be honest, right now, in the mood I'm in, I just no longer have the energy. I feel like I am done fighting the fight. Like, if I come across a person who just doesn't get it (much like my attitude towards climate change denialists) I just want to walk away. This person is not a kindred spirit to me. Why waste my time? Why not spend that time with people who get me and just get on with the getting on of it all?

The getting on with it is to just enjoy what I enjoy. To read the stories that engage and relate to me. To listen to music that speaks to me and talks about what it's like to experience the world the way I do. To hear about people talk about the kind of problems I deal with and the kind of life I lead. To celebrate and promote that which makes me happy, which understands me and which I can engage with. And to just do that. And maybe someone will find a new female artist that I like and I will be exposed to new artists to enjoy and to me it feels like a very positive response to the situation.

I dunno. Maybe I am just getting old and weary. Maybe it's time for me to hand over my feminist wand so that other great women can wield it. I feel tired about it all.


Female Appreciation Month

My post for Day 2 is going to be later tonight on account of me going to see Harry Potter tonight.

In the meantime, here's some other appreciations of women which include just so much damn good music!

Women are, like, different - looking at the idea that there really is that much of a difference between the music made by men and women, as opposed to the value society places on them.

Pharaoh_Katt's Day 1 of Female Appreciation Month in which she appreciates Amanda Palmer, Tamora Pierce and Cibo Matto



I was asked to move offices a couple of weeks ago, which I did. I picked up my phone and plugged it into the port at my new desk and moved on with my life. I don't love this location but I have a nice window and a contract that expires Sept 30.

Ever since I moved though, C has been trying to set up my office as her tech assistant's office and has not been able to get a phone to work in there. So her latest round of requesting support delivered a help desk guy to come and look at it who concluded that since the two phones he brought down worked at his desk and don't work in that office, that the port is broken. Which is not a bad conclusion except that I have sat at that desk and had a working phone there for a year.

When C and I told him that, I *swear* his response was to look at me and say, "Are you sure?"

What the freaking fuck?! Am I sure I sat there for a year and took and made phonecalls?

I walked out. Cause ... not my problem here. And then he came and borrowed my phone, cause you know, don't take this little gal's word for it, and what would you know, MY PHONE WORKS using that port JUST LIKE I SAID.

Yeah he apologised and said he'd never come across that problem before. Whatever man.
  • Current Mood
    Still pissed off at the world

Female Appreciation Month Day 2

Well, today I finally prised Gossip out of my CD player and spent the day with Regina Spektor - her new album Far in the car and Begin to Hope at work. I've thought a lot today about why and what it is about Spektor that I love so much. Her music is stripped back, often just a piano to accompany her pure, sweet, beautiful, utterly feminine, voice. It's just you and her - so intimate, so personal, so honest. Her songs don't conform to standard commercial hits - sometimes there isn't even a chorus. She often uses her voice to convey playfulness, irony, sarcasm but always, she tells a story, no song gets away without having a deliberate purpose. Listening to her feels more than just background music to hum to, it's an experience. And I never come away unchanged.

I tried a lot to come up with a favourite song. When I first listened to her new album, I described a lot of it as experimental and I didn't think it all worked all the time. Today I tried to list which songs I actually meant and even though there are still bits that I think could have been edited, I realised that, like Begin to Hope, Far has begun to become a whole of album experience for me - all the songs work together to take you through an experience, and whilst I still probably love "Laughing with" the best, I kind of love the whole album as a whole.

She writes such memorable lines like: "If I kiss you where it hurts, will you feel better?" and "Noone laughs at Gpd in a hospital" and "the atheists prayed for sarcasm" and "it's been a long time since I've been touched, and now I'm being touched all the time".

Here is "Laughing With":

A while ago I was googling to see when her new album was out and I came across her biography on wikipedia where I found out that she is Jewish and was born in Moscow. And that struck a chord in me. I have family that hark back to Moscow - part of my family emigrated at the end of the 1890s after the pogroms began and Jews were being persecuted in Russia. Some came to Australia, some went to Israel.

I like to see Jewish artists whom I can admire and respect. I went to a school that encouraged two career choices - medicine and law. Engineering was an acceptable third choice since I was good at maths and science. But in the days that I attended school there was no time for things like art, music and drama. It wasn't really valued or respected and they weren't offered on the curriculum program. And that's always kind of made me sad because the Arts and Media are fields in which great Jewish talents have excelled. And there are paths that can be followed.

And now, my female writer appreciation ...

J K Rowling. An interesting choice for me, second up. I'm certainly not one unknown to sing the criticism of the Harry Potter series. I most certainly will admit I think several of the later books are verbose and a little bit self indulgent. But, there I was watching Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince tonight and I thought about how many things there are to appreciate about Rowling and what she has done.

First up, long before the marketing people got involved, her books captured the imagination and interest of adults and children alike. People read her books and they loved them and they told people about them. She brought Fantasy fiction, a story of magic and wizards, to mainstream readers, if only for a moment. She brought people to reading. She inspired young children to hang out for her next book and inhale those large chunks. She is a storyteller who made reading cool and popular. Getting people to read and be excited about reading is an awesomely cool thing. I got up at 7am and stood in line for the Deathly Hallows on the day it came out *just* so I could be part of the phenomenon - so I could be there on the one day that all kinds of people who normally have nothing in common, also hung out in the cold of a wintry June or July morning to snatch up their preordered copy of a thick chunk of a book and hurry home to stick their nose in a book and not come out til they found out how it ended. There is no way that ain't cool!

And then, looking at the story she did write - she has a male hero for the protagonist but our hero is only a hero by accident. In fact, he has a super power only because his mother gave it to him - I would argue that it's in fact her superpower and one that was created through an act that singularly defines what it means to be maternal - her unconditional love, leading to her sacrificing her own life in a brave act to protect her son, gave him his power. And so, a hero, but not really. And a hero who really only prevails through the help of his friends. Harry is brave and true. But he is so through the encouragement and support of his friends. And there are some very strong female characters to love and connect with. There's Hermione who is fiercely loyal, smart, loving and very very brave. Also, Luna who is odd, unique, and unapologetic for being so. She is also unwavering in her loyalty and trustworthy and true. And then finally there is Ginny who is kind and gentle and loving but brave and independent. None of these girls ever need saving. They stand next to Harry and they fight alongside him. Even Mrs Weasley is presented as a maternal, caring woman but also a fierce fighter, when called upon to be so.

Rowling's books are filled with characters to love and relate to. And today, of all days, I kinda needed to be reminded of some of the cool things I love about so many of these characters - that above all, the love of your friends will save you, that bravery and courage are always needed, even when the day looks dark and the odds seem grim and against you. And that, there are fights worth fighting.

And that at the end of the day, true friends are those who sit next to you, licking their wounds too cause they were right in there fighting with you.

No new discovery today since it's a bit late. And my dog lodged a protest in interpretative dance, house trashing style.

Link List
Female Appreciation Month Preamble - the first official post of Female Appreciation Month.
Female Appreciation Month Introduction - Pharaoh Katt - joining me in this event and covering another month's worth of Female Appreciation
Female Appreciation Month Day 1 - Gossip, Deborah Biancotti and Joni Mitchell.
Female Appreciation Month Day 1 by pharaoh_katt- Amanda Palmer, Tamora Pierce and Cibo Matto.

Hottest 100 and Sexism - the event that kick-started this.
My addendum to the Sexism of the Hottest 100 An addendum, and the first mention of Female Appreciation Month
Female appreciation month - A call out to suggestions for the month