Clementine Ford: Uncompromising

UQ Journalism student Sophie Meixner’s recap of the “Are Women Invisible?” seminar by Clementine Ford and the UQ Women’s Collective.

“Uncompromising.”

It’s the attitude Clementine Ford has always taken in her approach to feminism. But with the recent resurgence of the ‘feminist’ tag in popular culture – from Emma Watson’s speech to the U.N. to the shocked reaction to Germaine Greer’s comments on the Duchess of Cambridge – it was a good time to hear the young writer’s insights firsthand.

On Friday October 3 Ms Ford joined members of the UQ Women’s Collective for an informal but passionate discussion entitled “The Invisibility of Women in the Media.”

Warm, engaging and prone to an off-the-cuff tangent or two, Ford began her speech by quoting the first paragraph of Susan Faludi’s iconic feminist treatise Backlash, which warned in 1991 of a growing feeling of hostility toward the feminist movement.

It was an infuriating reality, Ford noted, that many concerns of the now-23-year-old book (older than some students in the room) still applied so seamlessly to young women today.

Though young women continue to live in a society where powerful male politicians see fit to legislate to curb their reproductive rights, where domestic and sexual violence against women are real and continuing threats, and where not even our own Prime Minister is immune to sexism, Ford argued women are rendered invisible by a pervasive “yay, equality!” mindset in which we’re told “the fight for equality’s been won” and so to “shut up” because “feminism’s over.”

This is a problem for young women today, Ford said, because feminist progress is not seen as an urgent, or even necessary, priority. The complacency may lie in segments of society who believe feminism has gone too far the other way, viewing men as the “abused chattel” pitted against educated, go-getting women who are “not just equal now but superior.”

The outcome is a flurry among young feminists to avoid seeming too hostile to male recruits – a mistake that Ford says British actress Emma Watson succumbed to in her much-praised speech to the U.N. last month, in which she urged feminists to strive for men’s issues as well as women’s.

While Ford commended Watson for her bravery in using such a global platform to speak about gender inequality – and noted there’s certainly no “right” way to “do” feminism – she warned against “bending and scraping” merely to render feminism more “male-accessible.” Men don’t need “hand-engraved invitations to participate” and then a “cookie” when they do: indeed, the least we should expect is for men to be allies to the feminist cause already without expecting something in return.

While it’s true gender equality continues to hit massive milestones, it is a simple fact that feminism is not finished, and the gains the movement achieves should not be used as an excuse to “shut us up.” This is where Ford’s “uncompromising” attitude comes into play.

“Radicalise,” was her advice. “If they think you’re a man-hater because it’s the only way to minimise you, then let them. Women have been invisible for far too long – it’s time to demand our place now. If a man chooses to be an ally, great, but there are so many people who need to be given space in feminism before we need to worry about giving men space.

This is because in Ford’s version of feminism, nobody is be a feminist merely to serve to their own interests. White, educated feminists may have the privilege of fighting for seats on boards and equal pay, but there are still groups of women further marginalised by society.

For instance, just as able-bodied women may be unnecessarily sexualised by the media, Ford observed that some disabled women are fighting for the right to be viewed in a sexual way. The same perspective is needed if we look overseas to the countless atrocities still committed against women, from sex slavery to genital mutilation to the simple denial of an education. “Statistics are your friend,” Ford noted, and with circumstances like these still existing all across the world, any argument that feminism is “over” starts to seem awfully dangerous.

“Women have been invisible for too long,” were her final words for the audience. “It’s time to demand our place now. It’s not up to feminists to make space for men, it’s up to men to use the space they already have in society for feminism.”

Conservative commentator Andrew Bolt dismissed her in 2012 as “just some feminist with bared tattoos” (a moniker she seems a little too happy to adopt). And it’s true that someone like Clementine Ford, who writes so articulately, who holds her opinions so resolutely, can seem like an intimidating figure to some. But the woman we encountered at UQ on Friday was warm, funny, open to ideas, and, above all, relatable.

The UQ Women’s Collective is to be congratulated for bringing Clementine’s insight onto our campus. Hopefully this is just the beginning of a vibrant campus culture in which feminist issues, which affect all of us, are heard, debated, and encouraged.

~ Sophie Meixner

“Are Women Invisible?” Clementine Ford Seminar – Photos and Live Recording

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The UQ Women’s Collective is pleased to announce the complete success of our event UQWC presents: Clementine Ford. Author, social commentator, and feminist Clementine Ford spoke on the topic of women and girls in the media at UQ on Friday, October 3rd to a full room of excited and engaged feminists. Ford is indeed an eloquent, sassy, and vital voice in modern-day feminism, unlike the world according to Andrew Bolt, who says she’s ‘just some feminist with bared tattoos’. Here are some great photos by UQWC member and photographer Talia Enright, with Clementine and the event’s main organiser and host, Amy Jelacic:

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We also have a recording of Clementine’s talk. Due to technical difficulties, the first five or so minutes of Clementine’s great speech has been cut off. But please enjoy the rest of her hour long talk and Q&A session as an audio recording here!

Thanks once again to all the UQWC members and the UQ Union who helped to make the day possible. You can find more photos of the day at our UQWC facebook page!

~ UQWC

Feminism 101

 
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Prompted by our discussions with friends and family, we’ve come to realise that there are many people who don’t want to associate themselves with feminism or call themselves a feminist.

Generally they think it is something that it’s not.

Perhaps they think feminism is a hard-left, super-radical ideology and they hesitate to attach a politically-charged label to their name. Maybe they think feminism is about belittling, demonising, or disparaging men. It could be they think the battle is already over and feminism no longer has a purpose or a place in modern society. 

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1522646_227575270776925_6071086105225355961_oThe growth of the internet and communication about social issues via online services has seen dialogue about feminism enter new spaces.We feel that the core message of Feminism have become bogged down by unproductive dialogue online, in the media, and in the physical world. This perpetuates inaccurate and harmful ideas about feminism. It is imperative that social issues undergo constant discussion to remain relevant, inclusive and accurate in their purposes. We want to see feminist discussion carry on in directions that will ensure this.

With the Feminism 101 campaign, the UQ Women’s Collective wants to reach beyond our network. We want to engage people who might not normally think about feminist ideas or get involved with activism. We want to educate people who who hold misconceptions about feminism that stop them from calling themselves a feminist or causes them to dismiss feminism as something that doesn’t interest or represent them.

10258526_227575230776929_1588514507092164743_o1518518_227574720776980_8425505430271052134_oWe want to get people off Facebook and Tumblr and reddit. Bring people out of the depths of Culture Club and Stalkerspace. We want real world discussions about what feminism is really about, the history of feminism, feminist theory, how feminism affects everyday life. We aim to create a space for people to share personal stories and experiences.

We think real-world interaction is imperative.

1956769_227575114110274_4133358368916425711_o10012091_227574854110300_3016239588890209088_oWe have been and will continue to hold a series of stalls on Wednesdays. We want to talk to you about your perceptions of feminism, and what feminism means to you. There will also be the opportunity to have your photo taken to declare that you are indeed, a feminist. These photos will be shared on our social media sites such as facebook, instagram,
and tumblr.

On April 30th we begin our seminar series with a discussion on Feminism in Australia. We will hear about the history of the movement, as well as the current struggles we face.
Our second seminar, on Intersectional Feminsim, will be on the 7th of May. Women who face different, intersecting oppressions will share their stories to remind us that feminism is a movement for everybody. Finally on the 14th of May we will conclude our seminar series with a panel of cis-male Feminists/allies. They will talk about the ways men can further the cause of Feminism.

We hope we change some minds. We want to recruit people to our cause. Most important though, is that the discussion is being had, face to face, on campus. When none of us
can hide behind our computer screens, we will engage with each other and we will educate each other. This is how change happens.

This is Feminism 101: An Introduction.

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Preview of Upcoming Zine “Injustices and Inequalities”

This piece was submitted for our upcoming release “Injustices and Inequalities”. You still have a chance to submit! Please email any poetry, artwork, writing or other stuff to uqwnews@gmail.com by April 15th!

No Means No

by Sydney Jones

I used to think I was pretty open to going on a date with anyone. Meeting guys was exciting and I liked that there was no obligation to see them again. Fast forward three years and our generation’s darling, the internet, has me questioning everything I ever knew about the dynamic of dating.

There is a taboo still attached to online dating, even though it has taken many forms to suit our ever-evolving hook-up culture. I don’t think there is anything wrong with this hook-up culture, in fact, I think the freedoms it provides all genders is unlike anything society has ever prescribed. Women are no longer the ones to be courted, or have their dinner paid for because men and women are equal, right? I can tell you firsthand that this is 100% wrong, just from how I have been treated by men on online dating.

This phenomena seems to have evolved where there still exists the niceties of old-fashioned dating. “Hey, how are you?” still precludes any sort of sexual conversation in most cases. What I’ve found most unnerving is what happens when I reject a man (yes, a man, never a woman). He will immediately go on the defensive. Let’s say, we’re on Okcupid. I look at his profile, and see we have a 40% match. Immediately this sets off alarm bells in my head because there is an algorithm on this website which allows you to make some questions (which you both answer) more important than others. In my case, these are questions relating to how men view women. For example, “Do you think women have an obligation to shave their legs?” is always at the top of my list. That and some other sexism-related questions.

I don’t even have to make up a hypothetical situation here to explain to you how these conversations play out after I politely message back, telling the man I’m not interested. 8 times out of 10, he will ask something along the lines of “Why not?”. I sincerely feel that I should not have to answer that question. If I’m in a bar and a guy starts to talk to me, I will make it clear if I’m not interested. I’ll tell him I have to go or show him with body language. But online, you have to be more direct. I do have to say “No.”

“No”, is not a word men like to hear. I guess it’s because they take it personally. Well mate, it is personal. I don’t like you, and I don’t want to have sex with you. The internet has removed the social graces of real life, where no means no. No should still mean no. I should not have to defend why I am not interested over the internet. I do not know you, and I do not have to get to know you before I reject you. I strongly believe that these basic interactions are where lines of consent begin to be crossed. It is not okay.

You may have read this and thought to yourself “Well men aren’t all like that”. You are right. They are not all like that. But that does not in any way detract from the fact that there is a serious problem where I feel like I’m doing something wrong by rejecting someone I have never met before.

SUMMARY OF LAST NIGHT’S UQU COUNCIL MEETING

There were a number of regulatory changes put forward last night in the 2nd Ordinary Meeting of the 103rd UQ Union Council that directly concerned the UQ Women’s Collective (formerly known as WRAG).

REGULATORY CHANGES

  • the recommended name change from Women’s Rights Action Group to Women’s Collective was passed (R44, R58.1.a, R33.1.j, R52.1.c, R72.1)
  • the proposed quorum reduction from 10 members down to 5 members was not passed, despite being recommended at the first meeting of the Women’s Rights Action Group for 2014 (R44.4)
  • the Vice President (Gender and Sexuality) was appointed the chair of the Women’s Collective and was given powers to call and give notice of meetings, unless the UQ Women’s Collective resolves otherwise (R44.5, R44.6)


NB: Updated regulations including these changes will become available through the UQ Union Noticeboard shortly.

FUNDING DISCUSSION

  • An increase of funding to the Women’s constituency was proposed, and subsequently did not pass through council


We recommend any interested students come along to the next council meeting (held on a monthly basis) to raise any questions they may have about these or other issues. Information regarding the time and place of this meeting will be posted on this page.

We also recommend interested students who do not identify as a cis-man to come along to our regular meeting on Monday at 1pm in the Women’s Room, where the outcome of the meeting and its relevance to the UQ Women’s Collective will be discussed in detail.

Last Call for Submissions

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We’re calling for submissions for the April edition of Wom*news, the UQ Women’s Collective zine, “Injustices and Inequalities”.

Do you have an opinion piece, essay, poem, short story, list, photo set, comic strip, review, interview, or anything else, about a movie you’ve seen lately? We’re accepting all types of submissions from members and allies of the UQ Women’s Collective from now until March 31st.

Your work will be featured both in the hard copy of our zine, the pdf version and as a post at the wom*news website.

Please:
• Send your submissions, cover art, and any queries to Jessica and I at uqwnews@gmail.com.

• Read our content guidelines carefully; trigger warnings are a must, and any offensive or phobic matter will not be accepted. Keep to the word limit of 1,000 words.

• Reference any sources in our super easy referencing style (found here: http://womynews.wordpress.com/submission-info/referencing-guidelines/)

UQ Wom*news Editorial Committee

(Jess, Nadhia, Laura, Izzy & Molly)

General Update

  • Uni starts next week, and so do our regular meetings. These are currently scheduled for 1 PM on Mondays in the Women’s Room.
  • Market Day went really well, we had a bunch of people sign up, so welcome to all our newbies!
  • We have some International Women’s Day events coming up – Reclaim the Stage on 8th in the Holt Room and a breakfast on the 10th!
  • Check out our new instagram @uqwc to see our pics from the Gender Pay Gap campaign being run over O Week by NUS. 
  • We will be continuing with this, and other campaigns throughout the year so look for our stalls around campus.