Monthly Archives: May 2009

Deadline’s looming

The Down Under Feminists Carnival is into its second year. After a magnificent 1st birthday hosted by Chally, the first carnival of the second year will be hosted by Demelza, at SAHM Feminist. Demelza is not staying at home – she and her family have just moved home, into their very own place. Congratulations, Demelza.

It’s time to send in some submissions for the carnival. Go through your posts for May, or go through the blogs you love, and pick out some pieces. Any feminist writing, by any down under blogger, can be included. Don’t be shy! And don’t be shy about recommending other bloggers’ posts; it’s a lovely way of letting another person know how much you appreciate their work. NZ bloggers – the Queen’s having a birthday on Monday, so you are having a holiday, and I know that the weather is ghastly up and down the country, so how about spending some time searching out some great material for the carnival, and sending it to Demelza.

Demelza is aiming to get the carnival up by 5 June, so get your posts into her in the next day or two. You can send them via the carnival submission form, or if the form won’t work for you, send them to demelzagf at yahoo dot com.

And if you think you would be up for hosting the carnival yourself sometime, contact carnival founder Lauredhel, either via the Hoyden about Town contact form, or at her gmail dot com address, where she uses lauredhelhoyden as her handle.

Deborah needs

A google meme! Picked up from Mikhela at Fly My Pretty, who got it from Eleanor at The View from Elsewhere.

You type your given name and the word “needs” into google, and record the first ten search results that come up.

So, this is what google alleges are my needs, followed by my comments (in italics):

1. Some help with number 9
(Too cryptic – number 9 of what?)

2. To come back
(I didn’t need google to tell me that.)

3. Topix

4. An audience and a stage
(Hmmm…. does lecturing count? And blogging?)

5. A business plan
(Ah…. no.)

6. Your prayers and positive thoughts
(Given that nice scarlet A on my sidebar, and my general scepticism, I would rather you didn’t send these my way.)

7. Playtime
(But now you’re talking.)

8. A pink bus
(I have a perfectly good coppery red car. I dye my hair to match it.)

9. Business information and strategy
(Enough already with the business advice.)

10. Food
(Does chocolate count?)

What does Google think you need?

Pick up your pens – activism time

I’m guessing that most Australians who read my blog also read Hoyden about Town (the whole world ought to read Hoyden about Town), but just in case you don’t, head on over there and read Lauredhel’s post about the proposed harmonisation of accessible parking rules. Under the proposal, people who are mobile, but nevertheless can’t walk far, will be excluded from using accessibility parking. Lauredhel has details about the proposed rule changes, an account of what it would mean for people who have limited ability to walk, and importantly, what you can do to help.

Call to activism: many people with disabilities to be excluded from accessible parking under proposed scheme

Friday Feminist – Mary Daly (3)

Cross posted


This will of course be called an “anti-male” book. Even the most cautious and circumspect feminist writings are described in this way. The cliche is not only unimaginative but deadeningly, deafeningly, deceptive – making real hearing of what radical feminists are saying difficult, at times even for ourselves. Women and our kind – the earth, the sea, the sky – are the real but unacknowledged objects of attack, victimized as The Enemy of partriarchy – of all its wars, or all its professions. There are feminist works which provide abundant examples of misogynistic statements from authorities in all “fields” in all major societies, throughout the millennia of patriarchy. Feminists have also written at length about the actual rapist behavior of professionals, from soldiers to gynecologists. The “custom” of widow-burning (suttee) in India, the Chinese ritual of footbinding, the genital mutilation of young girls in Africa (still practiced in parts of twenty-six countries of Africa), the massacre of women as witches in “Renaissance” Europe, gynocide under the guise of American gynecology and psychotherapy – all are documented facts accessible in the tomes and tombs (libraries) of patriarchal scholarship. The contemporary facts of brutal gang rape, of wife-beating, of overt and subliminal psychic lobotomizing – all are available.
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10 feminist motherhood questions, from Blue Milk

The fabulous Blue Milk, feminist mother of a girl and a boy, has a long-running series of 10 feminist motherhood questions. This is my response to her questions.

1. How would you describe your feminism in one sentence? When did you become a feminist? Was it before or after you became a mother?

My feminism is about empowering women as they are, not telling them what they ought to be. I’ve been feminist since I was a girl; I learned it at my mother’s knee. I think one of the earliest manifestations of my feminism was a poem I wrote at school when I was about 14. We were studying ballads, and we had to write one, so I chose to write a protest ballad. A judge in New Zealand had given a man a more lenient sentence for physical violence against his partner, because she was living with him, and thus she was no good trash anyway. I can’t find the case on the web, and I don’t have the poem any more, but I think that was one of my earliest experiences of being feminist. So I was a feminist long before I became a mother, but my motherhood has informed and changed my feminism.
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The Rainbow Fish – an alternative reading

rfishcoverThe Rainbow Fish is much beloved of preschool and junior primary school teachers, because it teaches values, and in particular, the value of sharing, of caring for people (fish!) because of who they are, not what they look like, and the value of modesty (c/f vanity, not c/f licentiousness).

The plot, for those of you who haven’t read the book (and I advise you not to, in any case). The rainbow fish is very beautiful, with lots of lovely, shimmery scales, but he doesn’t have any friends, because he thinks he’s too beautiful to play with the other, plain, fish. (Cue lots of lovely, shimmery illustrations.) But he’s sad and lonely, so he takes himself off to the wise old octopus, who tells him to give away his shining scales. “You won’t be as beautiful,” she says, “but you will have friends.” So back he goes, and gives away his shining scales, so each fish has one. He’s no longer beautiful, but now the other fish like him. (Illustration of lots of fish, each with one shining scale.)

Isn’t that lovely? Isn’t sharing nice? Isn’t it good to not care so much about the way you look, but to care about who you are?

I think I have seen copies of the book, and children’s art celebrating it, in every classroom my children have ever been in, until the last two or three years for Miss Ten. But there’s a version up on the wall in the Miss Sevens’ classroom, retold and illlustrated by the children. They have been taught those values every year.

Well, yes, sharing is nice, and yes, it is good to focus on who people are rather than what they look like. But…

I read that last “value” as a paean to conformity. You had better look like every one else. Don’t you dare stand out and be in the least flamboyant. Don’t celebrate any special talents and abilities you have – make sure you fit in, Fit In, FIT IN. It’s not a lesson in sharing and caring – it’s a lesson in conformity. I read it this way because the Rainbow Fish must change who he is in order to be accepted by the community. What kind of a message is that to give to small children?

I suggest that if anyone gives you a copy of The Rainbow Fish for your small children, hide it in the back of the cupboard, and only bring it out when they come to visit (we still have one or two wedding presents that we treat like that, nineteen years down the track). Get your kids an Olivia book instead.


PS: While I’m on the subject of literature, you should go and read the comment my brother left on the own-up-to-your-party-piece thread.

Altogether now

Graphic courtesy of the Hoydens

It’s not sex, it’s rape.

The headline from the Adelaide Advertiser: Adelaide HIV carrier ‘had sex with two children’

The ABC headlines the story slightly differently: ‘HIV positive’ man charged over child sex acts

I know – they can’t call it rape for legal reasons, but even so, I’m reading a slight change in the wind in those two headlines. The Advertiser headline has quote marks around ‘had sex with two children’ but there’s nothing to indicate that they are quoting anyone. So is this an indicator that they are trying to say that the act amounts to rape (remember, sex without consent is rape, and by definition, children can’t consent to sex) without actually using the “R” word? The ABC’s headline is a step better again – they still don’t call it rape, but it’s “child sex acts.”

Maybe, just maybe, the on-going effort from feminists, and feminist bloggers, to call out each and every instance of the media calling rape “sex” is starting to have an effect.