Her

By Charlote Audley-Coote

The room is filling up with steam as she takes a long shower to get ready. She’s been thinking, thinking, thinking for forty-five minutes now. She lies on her back hugging her knees in the cramped space, and looks up at her scattered thoughts rising above the steam, hanging upon the cobwebs that cling to the cracking white paint. She has to be strong; she has to get ready now. She imagines the water droplets as small souls descending from the sky, as if encasing her with the strength and wisdom of their immorality. She is reminded that her story is not new, that many women have walked it before her. The droplets fall and break onto her back, but the water is not frail. It does not shatter into a million broken pieces but melds and moulds and evaporates. It changes form but it is always connected, it always reassembles. She is reminded that like her life, like the life of women before her, the essence of water survives. She gets out of the shower thinking and breathing softly through the vapour and folding herself into the person she has to be.

She walks back to her apartment in the early morning, slowly shuffling on the footpath and breaking the early morning silence. She thinks of the confines of her life, in the same way that the laws of physics hold her body to this earth. She cannot touch it or see it, but gravity demands that her feet only go so far before being pulled back onto the footpath.  As she stretches her arms towards the sky and arches her back though, she thinks about how the rays of sun which kiss her forehead have travelled through a galaxy to meet her. That, the warmth on her face is evidence of a world different to her own, of her capacity to know more than what this one tells her. She would like to think that those small fragments of sun where little messages from a secret and untouched place, embracing her with sweet words to sooth her sore and tired muscles as she struggles on. As she walks up the steps and opens the creaking door to her apartment, she changes form again, forever embodying all the counters and crevices that she needs to. Keeping the courage and conviction of the elements close by, she is ready for another day.

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The Acid Tongue Orator

As seen is Wom*news #9: Myths! 

She charges on stage, a beleaguered veteran of comedy, and launches into a set that tends to leave a stinging sensation.

BeckyLucas2013

“I was in the valley the other day and I heard some guys talking about chasing some pussy. They said they were going to chase some pussy. Let’s go chase some pussy. I felt like saying if you have to chase pussy that means pussy is literally fleeing from you. I don’t know about you guys, but being chased is my least favourite form of foreplay. A little game of tiggy isn’t going to negate the fact that you are wearing white leather shoes and have red rapey faces.”

Her name is Becky Lucas, a rising star in the Brisbane comedy scene. Next month will see her in a run of shows during the Melbourne Comedy Festival with Corey White and Dan Rath, titled Undiagnosed. I was fortunate enough to chat to Becky about her time as a comic, what makes her laugh, and the myth that women aren’t funny.

Mitchell: How did you get your start in comedy?

Becky: I told this really good comic that I was thinking of doing it and he booked my first gig for me at the New Market Hotel. Looking back it was such poor quality humour; I thought it was really good. It was fine for my first go. I look at it now and I just know I would have hated me as a comic.

M: What were some of your jokes?

B: I had a joke about the bikes Campbell Newman set up and apparently people would hire out a bike and get to their destination and there was no space, no one had taken any at the other and so they had to go back. Nothing says convenience like a round trip. That’s my punch line, that wouldn’t even get laughs in a conversation. People think on stage that things are heightened, that they are funnier. But it is the exact opposite.

M: How would you describe your comedy voice or style now?

B: I think I am still finding my voice. I have recently become aware that I am quite mean. I don’t want to be, but when I look over my material it is very ‘this is this’ and I kind of attack. I’d like to think of it as satirical and observational, just mean things that I try to give a punch line so people don’t hate me. A friend of mine always calls me an acid tongue orator.

M: Where do you draw a lot of you inspiration and influences from?

B: I really like Louis C.K, Maria Bamford, Dylan Moran, and Bob Saget which might seem ridiculous. I love Jerry Seinfeld, I would probably feel like I am Seinfeldish, but meaner. Like I’m the unlovable Seinfeld. I’m Jenny Seinfeld.

M: Do you have a favourite joke that is not one of yours?

B: It’s this local comic named Dan Rath and it’s his joke about how old white guys a rarely on the fence when it comes to Asians. They either hate them or they are married to one.

M: What do you think about the article by Christopher Hitchens that proposes that women aren’t funny?

B: It sounds really bad, I know funny women. I know myself. There are funny women. There are funny women out there. But it is hard, because the article talks about how women don’t need to be funny and that is the depressing thing that biologically a man will go out with you because you might be beautiful or smart or you provide and then they can go off with their friends and be funny with their friends. But I think it kind of depends on what kind of woman you are, I mean I am quite independent, I have always been.

I think men aren’t really willing to listen to a girl being funny. They just don’t want to. They go up and say something funny and instead of laughing and processing it the way they would if a guy said it they have to give a quick scan of what she looks like. Even to this gig I was wearing this dress that is kind of short and with skin showing. I have to change into a dress where I can be a mole underneath it. It is about how you appear and whether that affects humour. I think we are hardwired to think of humour as a fat, down and out guy, or someone that is a little askew. But women aren’t taught to be pathetic. You are taught to wash your hair and do your hair and be reasonable and trot off and be independent and don’t be a fuck up. Whereas guys can be a fuck up and people will go ‘what a larrikin’. He is one of the boys and there is none of that leniency for girls.

M: He makes the comment at one point that the only women who are funny take on a masculine voice and are ‘dykes’. Do you think this is true?

B: I completely disagree with that. I think they are maybe the ones men are comfortable with listening to because they can place them into a category. I will never fuck you so I will laugh at you. I don’t think men like women who can do it all, you can’t be pretty and funny. That’s a man’s job. You don’t need to be funny. It is such bullshit. Anyone can be funny. I have met funny people who don’t even speak English, we don’t even speak the same language, and they are just charismatic

M: Germaine Greer wrote an article in response and she says that it is not true that women aren’t funny. It is just because they are less competitive. The joker is always looking for acceptance and women just don’t really care about that. What do you think about this?

B: I agree with that. I have had boyfriends where I would be sitting in a group of his friends and I will be zinging hard and later he will be like, ‘you are just trying so hard.’ And I will say, ‘That is because I want to be a part of it and it is so easy to not be’. Competiveness in a woman isn’t seen as an attractive trait and because we are conditioned so early to be attractive often women won’t pursue it. That is why women can be funny together and then separate them into a group of men and they get withdrawn. I still have that underlying urge to be liked or to be considered a woman.

M: Thank you for your time, it was great to an insight into your mind!

“Undiagnosed” can be seen at the Ball and Bear Bar in Melbourne from the 27th of March to the 20th of April. Tickets are $15.

~ Mitchell Firman

Women In Art

By Sarah Davis

(As featured in the upcoming “herstory” issue of wom*news, out this friday!)

This is a short, chronological review of selected female artist’s with various artistic styles. These artists, in my opinion, have shocked and stunned audiences with their powerful pieces of art by challenging ‘society’s norms’, either through their own perceptions of femininity, feminism, sexuality or gender roles throughout history. So, here are some of my favourites from Conceptualism all the way through the years to Expressionism in the Italian Baroque era: 

Jenny Saville (b. 1970) Conceptualism

(Flesh)

(Big)

Jenny Saville’s paintings are almost always incredibly hard to look at. They are larger than life, raw and emotive pieces, usually of a feminine subject matter. Most of her work contains obese and sometimes faceless women or transgender people with vast bodies. Although these figures sometimes can become subjects of genderless forms. To me, she captures the differences between society’s perceptions of feminine beauty and how women truly feel about themselves or what they feel they appear to be in another’s eyes.

Dorothea Tanning (b. 1910 d. 2012) Surrealism

Family Portrait (1954)

Beyond the Esplanade (1940)

Dorothea Tanning is a surrealist artist whose work consists of furniture that transforms interestingly into female forms as well as her unique portraits inspired by surrealist ideas. I chose these two paintings because firstly Family Portrait is such an excellent portrayal of family life in the 1950s including gender and class roles in a family environment. The other art work interests me because of female form is rather different from the many female depictions in art, this particular form is slightly ethereal, almost androgynous.

Tamara de Lempicki (b.1898 d. 1980) Polish Art Deco

The Dream (1927)

Andromeda (1927)

Tamara de Lempicki was a bisexual “glamour star” who led a very eccentric lifestyle. This is certainly reflected in her art work. She mostly depicts female forms in the typical 1920s style with a distinctive and bold artistic style that is incredibly cubism inspired. However the painting examples I’ve included were the most resonant in my opinion, her nude female forms are very powerful, sensual and realistically feminine.

Mary Cassatt (b. 1844 d. 1926) Impressionism

A Kiss for Baby Anne (1897)

A Corner of the Loge (c.1800s)

Mary Cassatt is an impressionist painter who was inspired by Monet’s impressionist painting and even married his brother. I really enjoy her work because she depicts a lot of women’s roles in society both as a mother and as a member of society during that very interesting era of the late 1800s and early 1900s. Her depictions of mother and child are very beautiful however and some are very intimate and loving.


Artemisia Gentileschi (b. 1593 d. 1656) Italian Baroque

Judith and her Maidservant (1613)

Jael and Sisera (1620)

Artemisia Gentileschi is one of my favourite artists. Not only because she could be argued as one of the earlier feminists but because her art work is intense and she offers no apology for what she creates in her paintings. Her figures are always powerfully portrayed. The character’s show no fear and are beautifully calm as they murder their male victims. Other art works by Gentileschi reveal a vulnerability that the artist portrays so effectively due to her own tragic experience.

Other favourite women artists:

Frida Kahlo (b. 1907 d. 1954) Surrealism

Self-Portrait with Thorn Necklace
and Hummingbird (1940)

“I paint myself because I am so often alone and because I am the subject I know best.” (Kahlo)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Julia Margaret Cameron (b. 1815 d. 1879) Photography

Emily Peacock as Ophelia in ‘Hamlet’ (1874)

After the Manner of Perugino (1865)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Louise Élisabeth Vigée – Le Brun (b. 1755 d. 1842) Neo Classicism

Marie Antoinette’s personal painter. The ‘Smile Scandal’ in which Le Brun painted herself showing teeth in an era when this was deemed scandalous to do so.

Self-Portrait in a Turban with Julie (1786)

~ Sarah Davis

References (including citations for images)

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Why Identify As A Feminist?

Why Identify As A Feminist?
A collage by Joanna Horton

Most of us will have encountered young women who question that value of being a feminist. And there’s no denying that, while still not equal, formal conditions for women (e.g. employment, financial independence, political representation) have improved vastly. In this piece I tried to show a few of the more subtle ways that women are still denigrated, shamed and treated like second-class citizens. These include sexist jokes, body-shaming, subscription to traditional gender roles, and unrealistic stereotypes. (Of course, it’s worth noting that the last two in particular are also disadvantageous to men.) I chose to use the format of media because a) it’s the most effective and direct way of perpetrating these messages and b) cutting stuff out of magazines is fun.

~ Joanna Horton

*We’d like to note that due to the editor’s oversight the above blurb was not included in the latest issue of the zine alongside Joanna’s collage. Sorry, Jo! We hope reading her artistic statement helps you to soak up the awesomeness of her creativity even more.