“A Dirty Game”: One Woman’s Retrospective on the UQ Elections

By Anonymous
As featured in Wom*news #11: Women In Public

Trigger warning as this piece references experiences of sexual harassment. 

I got involved in student politics because people I vaguely knew asked me to do a favour by campaigning, and because I thought it would be fun and a good way to make some new buddies. I did not expect what would happen next.

The first day I was campaigning, I was at the bus stop with two other female campaigners when a male opposition campaigner called us ugly. Straight up, to our faces. From that moment it was personal. I had heard and witnessed tales of our opposition’s awful behaviour and the first taste I received of it was enough to get me fired up and angry. I campaigned my little heart out for the next week and a half, enduring constant verbal and physical intimidation. I was called every name under the sun. I was threatened. I began to feel unsafe on campus. I tried to go to Campus Security and the police, but all I got back was victim blaming. Then the first round of elections was cancelled, and I knew I would have to go through it all again.

I didn’t want to, but there was no way I could let those scumbags win.

Round Two began and it was even worse than I could ever imagine. By the end of the two weeks I was hanging on by a thread. I was taking Valium to stave off panic attacks. At one point I spent time locked in the women’s room, scared for my physical safety. I was shoved, pushed against railings, crushed between two large male opposition campaigners and once again verbally abused.  By 4 pm Friday I was wracked with exhaustion and worry: what if it had all been for nothing, the extra-ordinary shit me and my fellow campaigners had put ourselves through? I scrutineered that night and the more votes we counted, the more I knew we were going to ruin the incumbent party.

That night as we drank from the keg of glory, we got a stern talking about our safety walking home. It was unreal. Campus politics has always been a dirty game – most people are familiar with the tales of our new PM and his antics which included punching the wall next to a woman’s head. This campaign experience has done nothing but further reinforce the notions of patriarchy and misogyny in our society.

Ladies hoping for careers in politics, in activism, in public life, we need to smash this. We need to Destroy the Joint.

~ Anonymous

Discussion Topic: Who’s Your Fave Non-Cis Man in Public and Why?

The UQ Women’s Collective asked its members to share their favourite public people for Wom*news #11!

Lana Wachowski – her brain is just plain beautiful and she articulates her transition during her infamous speech just amazingly well. – Rowan

 

Mine is clearly Courtney Love. She is/does everything a woman isn’t supposed to be/do, while giving zero fucks. She’s also crazy, but I kind of love that. 

– Joanna

 

Personally, I love Sally K Ride, and Amelia Earhart! Both have made huge steps forward for women in previously male-only professions, and are general badasses.

 – Celeste

 

Catherine Deveny. Controversial opinions but stands by them. Appreciate her work speaking out against the church, Anzac Day, unpaid work and body image! She reminds me to be less apologetic and deferential. – Ruth

 

Kristen Stewart – she’s made ads raising awareness about RAINN and sexual assault.
– 
Emma

 

This may be controversial but Lena Dunham because she is unapologetically honest and flawed. – Molly

 

Ke$ha for rainbow-y glitter-filled magnificence or Felicia Day for continuing to work in nerd spheres. Both for being unapologetically awesome. – Shannon

 

We Are The Media: Reflecting on the Flawed Brilliance of Amanda Palmer

By Samantha Kelly
As seen as Wom*news #11: Women in Public

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Image: thisisfakediy.co.uk

Normally when I look back at my teenage self, I am both amused and embarrassed at how heavily I idolised particular musicians. Don’t get me wrong; I think a lot of artists have brilliant perspectives on politics, religion and, well… art.

 

But to hang on their every word…

To form crushes through a computer screen…

To turn giddish or speechless at a signing booth…

 

These things are childish. And unhealthy.

 

Right?

 

I’d like to think I have grown up. In most cases, I can safely say that I have stopped acting like a screaming fan-girl in the presence of my favourite artists.

 

But then… I went to watch Amanda Palmer play live at The Tivoli.

 

The gig was incredible. It had all of the theatrics, beauty and attitude I’d hoped for. But it also made me think hard about the way societies are conditioned to judge women in the public realm. And more specifically, how I myself judge musicians.

 

‘Do it With a Rockstar’ kicked off the set. Amanda jumped into the crowd and joined the mosh-pit. As people pulled and pushed one another around to get up-close, she grabbed the lapels of passionate fans, one after another, singing right into their faces. When she did this to me, I mouthed the words in time but no sound came out.

 

I was amazed by the very fact that someone whose words I regularly absorbed through a pair of headphones was right there, in amongst the crowd.

 

This was the person who inspired so many aspects of my feminist identity.

 

Whose music had at times made me laugh and cry simultaneously.

 

I’d loved Dresden Dolls since I was twelve. And as I developed an interest in Gender issues, I began to really admire Amanda Palmer, for her lyrics, blogs and interviews.

 

She openly wrote about masturbation, polyamory and abortion. She took pride in her body hair and her sexual orientation. Without realising, I’d labelled her as the ‘perfect’ feminist.

 

And so naturally, I was conflicted when groups of feminists began to raise criticisms about this woman.

 

Bloggers began to point out that some of the politically incorrect comments she’d made, including those which could be classified as ableist, transphobic and racist. As I further

investigated the events that had stirred controversy, I felt that these criticisms were well-justified. And I couldn’t just dismiss this.

This forced me to accept the fact that Amanda Palmer is not perfect.

But upon accepting this, I was able to appreciate her art and view her as a human being. To be at peace with the idea of holding high regard for a person, while also taking issue with some of their choices.

And this is the difference between the way I view artists now and the celebrity-worship mentality I used to have.

*

Something Amanda Palmer does particularly well is drawing her listeners’ attention to the gender biases in music criticism. The live track ‘Dear Daily Mail’ is by far my favourite thing on the internet this year.

It was written in response to a review of one of her performances in the UK. The review placed an extensive amount of focus on the fact that her breasts had ‘escaped’ her bra, rather than her actual music or performance. Upon introducing the song, she commented, “The funniest thing about this is that it happens all the time… but… I don’t think they knew.”

In the lyrics, she points out that she was “doing a number of things on that stage up to and including singing songs. But you chose to ignore that and instead you published a feature review of my boobs.”

She then calls the Daily Mail ‘sad’ for it’s “focus on debasing women’s appearance.” She highlights the double-standards, screaming “I’m tired of these ‘baby-bumps’, ‘vag-flashes’, ‘muffin-tops’… where are the news-worthy cocks?”.

The song ends brilliantly: ‘When Iggy or Jagger or Bowie go shirtless the news rarely causes a ripple. Blah blah blah feminist, blah blah blah gender-shit. Blah-blah-blah, oh my god- nipple.’

I interpret these last lines as a three-way satirical statement, poking fun at dominant reactions to feminism and the ridiculously large stigma attached to breasts, while also embodying Palmer’s characteristic references to the conventions of song writing.

 

I watched this leading up to the concert and felt it overshadow the critical stance I had previously developed.

The concert itself was without exaggeration one of the best performance I had attended in years. It was full of humour, audience interaction, and a mixture of songs covering personal and political issues.

Both opening acts were chosen by Amanda herself, who appeared at the beginning of the show to introduce them. She returned again as a dancer during the last track of the first band, a German comedy duo called ‘Die Roten Punkte’.

It is clear to me that dominant ideologies impact on critical responses to women in the music industry such as Amanda Palmer. But in a similar way, I admit that my adoration for Amanda Palmer’s music affects my own ability to make objective judgments about her as a feminist.

Nonetheless, it has also occurred to me that that numerous artists who don’t express any political opinions remain unscathed by these criticisms. It is only once we begin to view someone as a spokesperson for a particular cause that we expect flawlessneess.

And at the end of the day, Amanda Palmer is an artist. Not a politician or an anthropologist.

I still believe artists are responsible for what they say and how it affects people. And Amanda Palmer has said some offensive things; but she has also written some amazing music and sparked some very critical discussions.

 

Though Amanda Palmer did not perform ‘Dear Daily Mail’ in Brisbane, she did play ‘Gaga, Palmer, Madonna.’ This track explores how female pop-musicians have continued to face challenges throughout several decades. It also raises questions about how we define art.

As the lead Dresden Doll and as a solo-artist, Amanda Palmer has achieved a lot. And while it is healthy to remain critical about public figures, it is also important to question the standards against which we are evaluating women in art.

At the end of the day, Amanda Palmer is not the sole epitome of feminist progression. Nor is she the leading cause of widespread misogyny.

Amanda Palmer is an artist, a woman and a human being.

~ Samantha Kelly

Wom*news #11: Women In Public OUT NOW!

coverThe UQ Women’s Collective is proud to present to you the 11th issue of our zine – Women in Public!
There’s discussion topics, public confessions, news updates and reviews of books and feminists alike for you to enjoy.
Thanks to all our contributors and to Emily Bahr for doing a wonderful design job for this issue.
Please share this around the feminist internetsphere!

PS. We’re sorry about the Make Up Free Me image quality, google drive and pdfs obviously don’t like each other….

~ Emma, Emily, Laura, Izzy and Rosie
The Zine Dream Team

Destroy The Joint: A Review

By Molly Eliza

Personally, I was a huge fan of Julia Gillard, and I thought the media and the general public were unfair and at times sexist towards her. Prominent shock-jocks such as Alan Jones would dedicate all their airspace to attacking her and misogyny was rife. One afternoon, as things were really bubbling to the surface, Jones infamously claimed that female leaders are “destroying the joint”. Jane Caro then started the twitter hashtag #destroythejoint which went viral within a matter of hours. From this was born a large online collective action movement, and eventually a collection of essays curated by Jane Caro was published.

Destroy the Joint is well worth reading, especially as a fledgling feminist. Although most of it is very Australia-specific there are some great essays that represent a variety of viewpoints. In the age of the web, tumblr and blogging it is good to have a breath of fresh, local air. Lily Edelstein’s discussion of her experiences as a teenage girl is especially poignant; Rookie magazine gets a name-check along with prolific teen girl blogger Sarah Grrrlfever, whose manifesto has thousands of notes on Tumblr. Continue reading

Wom*news #11: News Round Up

By Laura Howden

Issue #11 of our zine will be out in the forthcoming weeks. In a cool coincidence, this is our 111th post! :)

Political Parlay

— In response to the results of the federal election Greens leader, Christine Milne, maintains her party had an “extraordinary” result —  picking up 8.4 per cent of the primary vote nationally and securing 10 seats in the senate.

These results were part of a larger swing against the Greens of 3.4%, however Senator Milne was quick to place the results in context. “What I’d think is extraordinary here is that the Greens said that we would be judged at this election by whether or not we could hold our seats in the course of a conservative tide coming in across the country. We have.”

—  Late on Thursday the 12th September, the Australian Electoral Commission placed independent Cathy McGowan ahead of the sitting member Sophie Mirabella by 1144 votes, in the Liberal frontbencher’s Victorian seat of Indi.

In what has been dubbed a “pre-emptive” move, MP Mirabella has now displaced herself from the frontbench. She has been a contentious figure in Australian politics, earning criticism for her hard-faced comments on muslim women, the stolen generation and asylum seekers – but has been acknowledged as a women of academic brilliance during her time studying law at Melbourne University, preceding her career.
— Closer to home and the elections for the University of Queensland’s Student Union have officially wrapped up, with the broad left coalition ticket Reform taking 7267 votes. Lift, in second place, gained 4830 votes and trailing in at third was the incumbent party, Fresh, with 3714 votes.

This signals a shift away from the previously conservative tenure of the Fresh body, which has long been affiliated with the on-campus Young Liberal club. Reform’s Vice Presidents of Gender and Sexuality, Kathryn Cramp and Lotte Scheel, are both active members of the UQ Women’s Collective and will be working closely with collective members to affiliate the club and gain funds for a (much welcomed!) renovation of the Women’s Room.

Trending On…

  • — A recent stunt in one of Amsterdam’s so called “red light” districts, organised by advertising agency Duval Guillaume in support of Stop the Traffik (an organisation raising awareness and funds to stop human trafficking), has gained great popularity on social media. The co-ordinated dance routine conducted by several women in lingerie, at first gained whistles and applause from bystanders. That is, until the music stopped and a message was projected on a screen above the house, raising awareness of women who are promised dance careers in Europe only to end up being sold into prostitution.



According to the campaign’s webpage“[tourists] often see the prostitutes as a kind of entertainment… every day hundreds of ‘windowshoppers’ from all over the world take a stroll on the Amsterdam canals…”

 — An excellent article on feministing.com has made the rounds on Facebook, responding to the recent and now infamous “twerking incident” by Miley Cyrus at the VMA music awards. The following excerpt is one of the most apt summaries so far of what was so uncomfortable about Ms. Cyrus’ performance (that has nothing to do with slut or body shaming, as has been unfortunately perpetuated in recent media coverage):

“…our dialogue about twerking reflects a larger system of cultural appropriation, commodification, and sometimes exploitation that has resulted in the birth of “ratchet culture.” Ratchet has become the umbrella term for all things associated with the linguistic, stylistic, and cultural practices, witnessed or otherwise, of poor people; specifically poor people of color…”

Jolly Good Sports

— A manifesto has been published as campaigners increase their efforts to reintroduce a women’s Tour de France, with the document calling for a women’s event (last held in 2009) to be run concurrently with the men’s race from 2014 onwards.

More than 93,000 have signed a petition created by the group of women leading the charge to reinstate the women’s tour, including cyclist and writer Kathryn Bertine, World Ironman champion Chrissie Wellington, and cyclists Marianne Vos and Emma Pooley. The petition has since been sent to the International Cycling Union (UCI) and Tour de France owners, Amaury Sport Organisation.


— Women’s Sporting in Australia is still very much “the underdog” in terms of media coverage, according to a recent article by ambassador for the Sydney Uni Flames basketball team, Michelle Bridges. She laments that the lack of coverage is not in any way due to a durth of national female talent, but rather a culture that continues to devalue women in the world of atheletics. Her message for Australian parents and media? Ensure young women have equal opportunities and support to become involved in a variety of sporting fields.

Ms. Bridges brings her point home by noting several prominent women’s teams and atheletes: “the Australian women’s cricket team, the Southern Stars, have recently been playing in the UK…  Ellyse Perry, who plays both soccer and cricket for her country… hurdler Sally Pearson… tennis star Sam Stosur and cyclist Anna Meares.
References Continue reading

Call for Submissions: Wom*news #11

We’re calling for submissions for the eleventh issue of the UQ Women’s Collective’s official magazine, Wom*news! The theme is “Women in Public”. Ooohh….

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We accept opinion pieces, research articles, lists, short stories, reviews, interviews, poems, photographs, song lyrics, illustrations, paintings, collages…and anything else creative you can think of…
on the subject of women in public
which could be politicians, actresses, musicians, bloggers, comedians, public speakers, journalists, novelists, artists, charities, media scrutiny, paparazzi, pop culture, national and global news, documentaries
from members and allies of the UQ Women’s Collective.
Submissions are open on August 15
and close September 15, 5pm.

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

Please:

Thanks,
Emma, Rosie, Laura, Emily and Izzy
The Wom*news Team

PS. You can find full pdf versions of our past zine issues here.