Why I won’t jump for joy over Michelle Payne’s Melbourne Cup win.

It’s something I grapple with every time a female ‘wins’ in a male dominated sport or career. The thought that, while obviously this woman kicks arse, she’s beating the men but at their own game – by having to play how the men play. 

But is this the ultimate goal of feminism? To still measure performance by male metrics? Don’t we want women to win by playing the game how women want to play it?

This article is the best articulation I’ve read recently on that idea, that we shouldn’t just be striving for equality, but liberation.

Equality is a fundamentally conservative aim. Rather, it is liberation from a system that idolises money and power and demands women “act like men” to get ahead, that we should set our sights on.

Michelle Payne’s victory at yesterday’s Melbourne Cup… may indeed prove she is equal to the pinnacle of her male competitors, but it does very little to further the concept of liberation.

Now, the journalists main point is that the cruelty of the Melbourne Cup conflicts with her views of feminism because it “is inextricably tied to my passion for animal rights”. That whipping the horses and dominating them to perform to the jockey’s needs over their own is a violent activity linked with stereotypical views on male masculinity and dominance.  

So if a woman wins the Melbourne Cup, if she pushes her horse the hardest in training, whips it the hardest on the track, is that actually us winning the feminist battle? Surely reassessing the current practices of the sport with (again stereotypically) what’s seen as more feminine qualities like empathy and compassion, would see new practices being implemented that reduce the harm and violence towards the horses. 
I guess what it really does come down to is:

 In a world that consistently fails to recognise let alone reward us, should we celebrate every victory by a woman as a win for women?

Yes, there is something deliciously thrilling about a woman taking advantage of the spotlight to tell men off and proclaim that, “Women can do anything and we can beat the world.” 

But there is the contradiction. Perpetuating and celebrating violent spectacles like the Melbourne Cup isn’t beating the world; it’s joining it. And that is the difference between equality and liberation.

True liberation will be when typically feminine qualities are seen as strengths along with masculine ones; when a male can express empathy, openness, vulnerability and not be judged as weak; when domestic violence of any kind, both physical and mental is not tolerated to or by any gender; and when women succeed because they were themselves and didn’t have to ‘lean in’ and act like a man to succeed at what is still a man’s game. 

Read the article >

The rules of feminism and the fear of getting it wrong.

British journalist Polly Vernon’s new book Hot Feminist certainly raises the eyebrows with its title alone, but is not so much about being exclusive as inclusive, to those women who may think that just because they like pink, high heels and dresses means they can’t be taken seriously as a feminist.

It was getting to a point where it seemed like there had to be a feminist angle on absolutely everything and in quite a negative way. I think that was making people disconnect from feminism almost, because they felt it was prescriptive and narrow, that there were all these rules in place. I was talking to women in their late twenties who were feeling angry and tired and bored with it. It didn’t feel like this exciting, joyous, fun thing, which it really should be.

She explores in her book the though that traditional concepts of femininity and feminism are mutually exclusive.

I think it’s an inherently sexist idea. It amazes me that a man is allowed to be a very passionate football fan, that makes him more masculine and interesting and sexy. It doesn’t in any way detract from his intelligence, his work, his morals. Whereas if a woman cares about fashion or pop music, she’s assumed to be lesser, a bit daft, a bit shallow. It basically says the things girls and women like are stupid. That’s hugely sexist. Incredibly girly women can also be incredibly feminist.

I do think we have become increasingly hung up on the minor details, like whether your shoes are too high or your hair is too long. If you shave your legs, if you wax your bikini line, that in no way stops you being angry about the bigger issues of equality.

Feminism is about women earning the right to be as idiotic as men are, quite honestly. I do really silly, messy, immoral, ridiculous things all the time, but none of that means I don’t care about women having equal rights.

Read more >

Feminism in the age of Miley Cyrus.

An older article but still appropriately relevant and I thought worth highlighting a few choice quotes.

There is space for all women, for all identities, within the feminist movement. Fellow musician Amanda Palmer put it brilliantly when she said, in her own open letter,

“…there needs to be room on the vast playing field for Adele to wear a conservative suit, room for Lady Gaga to do naked performance art in the woods, room for PJ Harvey to wear high-collared 18th-century jackets on stage, room for Natasha Kahn to pose boldly naked on the cover of her last record, and room for Miley to rip a page out of stripper culture and run around like a maniac for however long she wants to.”

We are too complex to be placed into boxes. We understand that there is no right way to “do feminism.” We are allowed to pick on each other. We are allowed to question the ways that other women express themselves. But we are not allowed to disrespect them.

Miley’s feminism may not be yours, but it is one of ours. Feminism has changed. It is intersectional. We are people. We are women. Some of us want to beat the system, some of us want to change it, some of us want nothing to do with it, but the point of the women’s movement was to ensure that we have that choice.

Read the full article at Bustle >

Bikinis and power suits.

Jessica Alba ForbesTalk about girl power! Jessica Alba not only kicked butt on tv show ‘Dark Angel’ and movie ‘The Incredibles’, but she’s also kicking butt in the business world and has made it onto the cover of Forbes magazine.

Speaking at Forbes’ third annual Women’s Summit in New York – where female entrepreneurs and leaders work to change the power imbalance in the business world – Alba spoke of the challenges she face when launching The Honest Company, which sells a range of non-toxic household products and turned over $150 million in revenues last year.

People just saw me as this girl in a bikini in movies kicking butt — maybe not the brightest bulb… It took three and a half years of condescending nods and pats on the back of ‘good luck’, or ‘go back to endorsing things or go do a perfume.’

Well the jokes on them, after only 3 years The Honest Company is currently valued at US$1 billion.

Read more >

That’s Mr Saldana thank-you-very-much.

zoe saldana

Zoe Saldana has questioned the buzz surrounding her husband’s take up of her last name. Here is why, Mrs Saldana, your husband taking your last name is so damn newsworthy. Because:

63% of men would be upset if their wives kept their maiden names, and a whopping 96% of men wouldn’t take their wife’s last name

I would say being in the 4% makes your husband ‘newsworthy’ wouldn’t you? And for good reason. Because:

Many millennial women are changing their names not based on some ideological preference, but seemingly by default.

So many women I speak to respond to the question of taking their husband’s last name with ‘Why wouldn’t I?’ well here is a reason for you:

Changing a name is, in many ways, a change of identity. We associate our names with our heritage, family, childhood, career and even our personal brands. Switching over when we sign a marriage certificate is saying goodbye to one aspect of our life and adopting a new identity; in heterosexual marriages, that often means sharing one with a man.

I am glad Zoe Saldana, not that your husband taking your last name is something that’s newsworthy in the 21st Century, but I am glad given the huge number of men that refuse to even consider taking on their wife’s name that your husband’s choice and your empowering words may just start to affect change.

Men, you will not cease to exist by taking your partner’s surname. On the contrary – you’ll be remembered as a man who stood by change. I know our sons will respect and admire their father more because their father lead by example.

Gentlemen, I implore you to think outside the box- remove the box altogether. Let’s redefine masculinity. A real “man” leads alongside his partner. A real man accepts his mortality. A real man acknowledges that nothing can be done alone.”

Read more >

*2013 Women’s Health survey of Men’s Health’s male readers

I do not belong to anyone but myself.

ariana grande

In an open letter on Twitter and Instagram, Ariana Grande has written an epic response to the constant inquiry into her love life stating:

I’m tired of needing to be linked to a guy, I’m not Big Sean’s ex, I’m not Niall’s new possible girl. I’m Ariana Grande.

What I meant when I said what I said about not being Sean’s ex is that I am tired of living in a world where women are mostly referred to as a man’s past, present or future PROPERTY / POSSESSION. I… do not. belong. to anyone. but myself. and neither do you.

I have come to the realization that I have SO. MUCH. MORE. to talk about. I’m currently making the best music I’ve ever made in my life.

If a woman has a lot of sex (or any sex for that matter)… she’s a ‘slut.’ If a man has sex… HE’S. A. STUD. a BOSSSSS. a KING.

Echoing Taylor Swift’s thoughts on the sexist double standards:

I’m not allowed to date for excitement, or fun, or new experiences or learning lessons. I’m only allowed to date if it’s for a lasting, multiple-year relationship. Otherwise I’m a, quote, ‘serial dater’. Or, quote, ‘boy crazy’.

Here’s to women everywhere being their own, independent selves.

Read more here >

A simple misunderstanding?

A man in Melbourne has received death threats after mistakenly shamed on social media – because being a male and taking photos around children automatically makes you a paedophile.

The man was actually taking a selfie when a woman thought he was taking photos of her kids, so she decided to take a photo of him and put it up on facebook and inaccurately label him a registered sex offender.

Read the full article here >

Boys toys, girls toys, or just…toys?

amazon breaks down gender stereotype

amazon breaks down gender stereotype

In a great first step in addressing gender stereotypes, Amazon has removed gender landing pages for toys on its homepage. While this gender split has not been removed completely (you can still categories toys by gender in the sub menus), this is definitely a positive move away from gender stereotypes.

Read more here >