News Roundup – April 2013

Spiffing Sports

Over 100 of Australia’s best and brightest sportswomen have converged on the nation’s capital for a one day conference, to celebrate Canberra’s centenary and recognise The Canberra Times’s award for ”Best Coverage of Women in Sport in 2012” by the Australian Sporting Commission. The conference will wrap up with a list of Australia’s top 100 female athletes: among those to be honoured, star swimmer Dawn Fraser and sprinter, Cathy Freeman.

A five-stage Tour of Britain for female cyclists is in the final stages of planning, to take place in the spring of 2014. Race director, Mick Bennett, confirmed the decision to European media and outlined the need for an increase in publicity within the arena of women’s competitive cycling. “It seems an obvious and logical step forward given the strength of women’s cycling in this country and the enthusiasm for the sport generally… It’s a great sport and all that is needed is more opportunity for the women to race.”

The first ever round of the Tasmanian Women’s Motocross Championship was held on March 23rd, and saw 14 women compete in this typically male-dominated sport for the first place title. Sarah Knee, a local racer from Launceston, currently competes in both co-ed and women’s only races and was delighted with the opening of the women’s championship to support the increase in female participants. …

They Said What?!

Alex Bilmes, editor of British Esquire magazine, has defended his publication’s “honest” portrayal of women with a few particularly unenlightened statements at a 2013 London panel discussion on ‘Feminism in the Media.’ Sifting through his quotes was an ordeal unto itself; the following comments are perhaps the most cringe worthy offerings. “I could lie to you and say we’re interested in their brains as well, but on the whole, we’re not. They’re there to be beautiful objects. They’re objectified.”

We’re at least, or possibly more, ethnically diverse [than other magazines]. More shape-diverse. We also have older women. Not really old, but in their 40s… Cameron Diaz was on the cover three issues ago. She’s in her 40s.

Brazil’s human rights boss has warned that gender equality could undermine the classic maternal roles of women and turn society, quote unquote, ‘gay’. The following comments are excerpts from Marco Feliciano’s recently published book. ‘When you stimulate a woman to have the same rights as men…. her part of being mother starts getting diminished… I see a subtle way how this affects the family, when you stimulate people to release and liberate their instincts.’ Feliciano has been slammed by Brazilian Feminists for his views. Economics professor Hildete Pereira de Melo, from the University of the State of Rio de Janeiro, has labeled the statements as ‘delusional, misogynistic and homophobic.’ Which just about sums it up, really!

Women of Words

(Trigger Warning: this news segment contains a brief mention of sexual assault and rape.)

Melbourne writer and Herald Sun contributor, Alice Clarke, has responded to the recent trend of celebrities such as Lady Gaga and Katy Perry rejecting Feminist labels. “It’s OK, I guess, not to be a feminist,” she writes in a recent column. “We all get to have our own opinions and that’s great (though if you don’t believe in equality, you have some issues to work out).” Her article tackles the current problems of gender stereotypes and victim blaming in cases of sexual assault – the message to women being, don’t invite rape, instead of a much needed educational standard that teaches people not to commit rape. She ends by imploring men and women to embrace Feminism, to understand that the fight for gender equality in Western society is not null and void but an absolute necessity.

Jackie C. Horne, a writer, independent scholar and author of the site Romance Novels for Feminists, has come out in celebration of a modern wave of romantic literature that moves beyond the “bodice ripper” genre popular during the 1970s. She recognizes these authors as taking ideas that were once novel or provocative – the idea of powerful, self possessed heroines – to be givens. Houston author Delphine Dryden is very much aligned with Horne’s views but still sees problems for women in the world of erotic literature, noting that some writers are too quick to fall back on tropes of slut-shaming and female helplessness. She posits the presence of heroines who can make choices as a critical starting point for Feminist authors – a woman who acts, rather than being “acted upon.”

SAVE Gender Studies at UQ!

The proposed eradication of the Gender Studies major at UQ – part of a wider scaling back of humanities subjects across the country – has sparked fierce opposition from UQ students and members of the UQ Women’s Collective. The first meeting of the counter campaign, ‘Save Gender Studies at UQ,’ attracted over 30 students and staff on the Great Court at St Lucia. An educational forum is planned for Thursday, April 11th, to precede a larger rally in opposition of the university’s cutback. Members of the Women’s Collective will be handling a social media campaign through the creation of a video, informing viewers on the importance of gender studies at a tertiary level.

If you consider yourself a bit of a tech head/actor extraordinaire/directorial genius and like to get involved in the video (or in any other aspect of the campaign) check out the Facebook page online or express your interest within the UQWC Facebook group!

http://www.facebook.com/pages/SAVE-Gender-Studies-at-UQ/498494313540373?fref=t

~ Laura Howden

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News Roundup – January 2013

By Laura Howden

Australian Bites

Max Tomlinson – the former media adviser to LNP senator Ian McDonald – resigns after writing a scathing response to a courier mail article from April 2012, critiquing the lack of women in Queenslandʼs parliament.

Dr Carole Fordʼs article highlighted the drop in female representation in Queenslandʼs parliament from 49 percent to a mere 18 percent. Responding to the column via email, Mr Tomlinson advised her that, “like most women, you probably don’t possess the necessary drive, determination and decisiveness that men innately possess.”

He further argued for the so-called natural propensity of men to succeed. “Blokes dominate most areas of human endeavour because nature equipped them with something called testosterone…”

Dr Ford found Mr. Tomlinsonʼs position to be “extremely disappointing… It surprised me that in this day and age people would get angry about a request for women to have better representation in parliament.

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August/September News Round Up

Wom*news’ bimonthly news round up of feminist and wom*n-related news, by the fabulous Laura Howden! This news round up will be featured in the upcoming “Bodies” issue of wom*news.

National

  • RU486 has been approved for wide(r) use by Therapeutic Goods Administration. It is now available for prescription by GPs as an option for women seeking termination, subject to the completion of online training. This will be of particular benefit to women living in areas with limited or no access to abortion facilities. Angela Taft, co-ordinator for the Women’s Health Special Interest Group, says the challenge now is to extend education around sexual health and contraception and ultimately, ensure the accessibility of good quality abortion services.
  • #destroythejoint, a feminist public media response to Alan Jones suggestion that women shouldn’t be participating in politics, has gathered considerable support among Australian women and men. Within days of the radio presenter’s now infamous rant, a ‘Destroy the Joint’ facebook page (now hovering at 6500 likes) and change.org petition had been established to put pressure on 2GB Radio and their advertisers.Public twitter feeds have overwhelmingly supported this movement: “Dear 2GB advertisers,” tweets TeineSamoa, “as a woman who’s #destroyingthejoint I’ll be boycotting any and all of your products until Alan Jones is taken off air.”
  • The recent cessation of funding to the ‘Queensland Working Women’s Centre’ by the Queensland government, has since been saved thanks to intervention by the federal government. Campbell Newman’s decision has been described by Employment and Workplace Relations Minister Bill Shorten as “short sighted,” and attributes the decision to save the centre as “the federal government standing up for working women in Queensland.”

International

  • Julian Assange remains in the Ecuadorian Embassy after a successful bid for political asylum, in light of possible extradition to Sweden over alleged sexual offences: including one count of sexual assault and one count of unlawful sexual coercion. He has since commented that “the Swedish government could drop the case… I think this is the most likely scenario,” during an interview conducted inside the embassy.
  • U.S. Republican Senate Nominee Todd Akin’s recent, and highly controversial, statement on “legitimate rape”is not as isolated an incident as one might believe. Paul Ryan, a Republican representative from Wisconsin, framed rape as simply another “method of conception” in an interview just days after Akin’s comments.Conservative Columnist for the National Review, Mona Charen, took it upon herself to defend Akin’s views with a series of left-of-field comments. “[Although it] appears that there is no evidence that pregnancies are less likely in cases of rape… it didn’t seem out of the realm of possibility to me. Many things about the human body are peculiar and amazing.”
  • A collective gathering of 16 women’s social reform groups in the Togo have called for “sex strikes” protesting against the current regime, and recent electoral reforms aiding current president Gnassingbe’s bid to win seats in the upcoming October vote. “Women don’t have a lot of power in Togo, but everybody knows that men rely on us for certain things. This is a powerful way of expression,” said Astou Yabi, one of the protest organisers.

Celebrity

  • Despite the recent jailing of three of its members, over a performance critical of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Russian punk group ‘Pussy Riot’ have plans for further protest action. We first of all want to do a new protest finally, so that we have something to talk about,” said two band members, nicknamed ‘Balaclava’ and ‘Tomcat,’ in a radio interview with Russian program Radio Liberty. The members, sentenced to imprisonment, will appeal their sentence on October 1st. Moscow police continue the search for two unidentified band members, who partook in February’s “Punk Prayer” action that led to the subsequent jailing of their three colleagues.

Sport

  • Four female athletes from the University of Sydney have collected, among them,one gold, four silver and two bronze medals in the British 2012 Paralympics. Swimmer Prue Watt qualified fastest for the final race, and subsequently beat that mark again with a time of 1:19.19 to secure gold. Psychology honours student and athletics competitor, Angela Ballard, won silver in the women’s T53 400m; her third medal from the London Games. Sarah Stewart and Katie Hill collected silver medals as part of the Australian Women’s Basketball Team.
  • Jacqueline Freney, a swimmer from Brisbane and competitor in the 2012 London Paralympics, won an incredible 8 gold medals in swimming at the London Paralympic Games. Bravo, Jacqueline!
  • The London 2012 Olympics was the first games in which all nations included women in their contingent of athletes. Winning four gold medals and one bronze, U.S. swimmer Missy Franklin became the most decorated woman of the 2012 Olympics. The U.S. Olympic Committee attributed the success of Ms. Franklin and her fellow national female athletes to Title 9: a 40-year-old federal law prohibiting gender discrimination in American school sports. It was also the first time in history that the U.S. contingent included more women than men.Like the U.S. the majority of medal winners from Russia and China were also women, sparking comments from several journalists that the 2012 London Olympics were “momentous” for the recognition of women’s sporting achievements.
  •  The first Saudi Arabian woman to compete in the Olympic Games, Sarah Attar, says her presence in the London 2012 Olympics could well prove a significant inspiration for women in her conservative home country.

Collective

  • Emma Di Bernardo, Rosie Cuppaidge and Caitlin Gordon-King, on behalf of the UQ and QUT Women’s Collectives, composed and sent a letter to Premier Campbell Newman expressing extreme concern and discontent around his decision to withdraw funding from the ‘Sisters Inside’ initiative. We hope that this will send a message to the Queensland LNP as to the vital nature of this service, for the welfare of women within Australian prison systems
  • The UQ Women’s Collective bake sale held on August the 9th, in honour of Bluestockings Week (celebrating the unsung academic accomplishments of women) was a roaring success! Members of the collective baked a range of vegan, gluten free and all-round delicious baked goods to fundraise for future Collective Events.
  • Johanna Qualmann, Emma Di Bernardo, Charlotte Audley-Coote and Joanna Horton penned a collaborative letter of concern on behalf of the UQ Women’s Collective, regarding several incidences of mistreatment and disrespect by the current UQ Student Union. 

References
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June/July News Round Up

By Emma Di and Nicole Maree
(As seen in the upcoming issue of wom*news!)

Local

  • Sisters Inside, a much needed organisation that supports women who are pre and post-prison with counselling so that they get their lives back on track and don’t end up criminalised again, was defunded by the Newman government. You can sign the

    Image: sistersinside.com.au

    petition to save Sisters Inside at: http://www.communityrun.org/petitions/save-sisters-inside

  • Samuel Aranda’s photo of a Muslim mother cradling her injured son in Yemen is the winning photograph in the 2012 World Press Photo of the Year contest, which was displayed all throughout June in Brisbane at the Powerhouse Museum.
  • Family Planning was part of the Newman ‘cut waste in government’ whirlwind, you know, because women’s reproductive health isn’t really important or anything… and more recently women’s support group Young Women’s Place was been defunded as well. So much defunding!
  • First:  Emerging Indigenous Art” was an exhibition curated by Leanne McIntyre as part of celebrations for this year’s NAIDOC week, featuring female artists such as Shannon Brett. It was held from the 29th June – 1st of July at Teneriffe.

Sport

  • Gilles Simon got people angry (why was he surprised?) when he said that female pro tennis players shouldn’t be paid the same amount as men, because women’s games just aren’t as exciting. He is obviously an idiot.
  • Angela Ballardhas been selected for the London 2012 Paralympic team in

    Image: timetorun.com

    wheelchair racing. It’s Ballard fourth paralympics, and she’s also ranked number one internationally in both 100m and 200m. Way to make us all feel like underachievers, Ballard!

  • The Beachley Classic was on, awesome women surfers did some awesome surfing. Courtney Colonge won!
  • The Matildas recently won 2 – 0 against NZ at the end of June. Yay for soccer grrrls!

Celebrity

  • Feminist director Nora Ephron sadly died on June 26. Celebrate her wonderful life

    Image: twilightlexicon.com

    by watching her classics like When Harry Met Sally…, Sleepless in Seattle and Julie and Julia.

  • Kristen Stewart, actress of Twilight, Panic Room and The Runaways, was named Forbes’ Highest Paid Actress in Hollywood.
  • Against Me! singer Tom Gabel came out as transgender in May to Rolling Stone magazine. She plans to change her name to Laura Grace Jones in the coming months, and is supported by her wife Heather.

Collective

  • The UQ Women’s Collective held an official forum entitled “Unity in Diversity” for UQ’s Diversity Week this year. People debated about whether feminism, UQ and the UQWC are diverse and inclusive enough and how we can better that, ate biscuits and pizza, drank some ice tea, and had a merry old time. You can still find posters for the forum – bought with the sweet $300 grant given to us by the Equity Office – lurking around the women’s room, and photos are on our facebook group!
  • The UQWC was also a part of the Collective clothes’ swap, along with the Queer and Enviro collective. It was held to great success on the Grassy Knoll on St Lucia campus. Ditto with pics on the UQWC facebook group.
  • Look out for our events for Blue Stockings Week, to be announced later in the semester!

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March News Round Up

March News Round Up!
Compiled by Rosie Cuppaige, Emma Di and Clara O’Loughlin.
This month’s news round up will feature in wom*news issue #4 –
“sex through a feminist lens” – out next friday! 

▪       March 8 marked the 101st International Women’s Day! The Collective held a lovely little picnic on campus filled with cupcakes, strawberries and lollies smashed out of a Patriarchy Pinata. UQ also hosted events such as celebrating the forty years of gender and women’s studies at the university; around Brisbane, there was a rally in the city, the Feminism Rocks Festival and a fun run. (You can see photos from the picnic at our fb group!)

▪       Lauren Wolfe and Gloria Steinem co-wrote an article for the Guardian about the cult of masculinity and violence against women (specifically rape). The article was greeted with outright misogyny and anger, with men accusing the authors of suggesting that “all men are rapists”. The authors specifically went out of their way NOT to say this. Wolfe’s site was also hacked as a result.

▪       To Saudi Arabia – An investigation has been launched after at least fifty women were reportedly injured during a protest against discrimination and mismanagement at King Khalid University turned violent. Allegedly the women were injured due to the close mass of bodies involved. They were protesting about the lack of basic facilities at the university for women.

▪       After much public protesting from women, the Federal Government approved a Medicare rebate for PIP breast implant scans. PIP breast implants have recently been revealed to be made of unauthorised silicone products, causing many to become faulty and rupture. The rebate will allow women to start the first expensive step to getting these rupturing implants removed – however, it’s a long way off from the UK, where the government is paying for the removal of all ruptured implants. The Therapeutic Goods Administration has confirmed 171 reports of ruptured breast implants in Aus.

▪       It seems that all across like America this month, there’s been a common thread of men making legislation about women’s bodies and choice in the flurry of Republican elections. First, there was the panel of only men making decisions about female contraception – and now a disgusting and inhumane law has passed with the backing of governor Rick Perry. In further medical fuckery, a law in Texas has been passed outlining that once a woman decides she will have an abortion, “she first must typically endure an ultrasound probe inserted into her vagina. Then she listens to the audio thumping of the fetal heartbeat and watches the fetus on an ultrasound screen. She must listen to a doctor explain the body parts and internal organs of the fetus as they’re shown on the monitor. She signs a document saying that she understands all this, and it is placed in her medical files. Finally, she goes home and must wait 24 hours before returning to get the abortion.” Wrong in so many ways.

▪       It seems we’re getting a bit international for this month’s news round up! On a much more progressive note, feminists in Sweden had a protest against underarm hair hate on the internet by gathering and displaying their lovely hairy selves.

▪       Lastly, The Hunger Games film was released on the 22nd of March in Australia to much acclaim from critics and book-fans alike. Newcomers to the awesomeness will enjoy the lack of questioning if a sixteen-year-old girl can be as tough as boys – seriously, gender never comes into the story. All the girls and boys are as violent and sexualised for media purposes as each other in this dystopian future, where children are picked lottery-style by their oppressive government to fight to the death in a televised arena. The odds, it seems, are in feminists’ favour…

References
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February News Round Up

This month’s news round up will feature in Issue #3 of wom*news – due out Feb 22nd! Get your hands on a copy from us on Market Day.

▪  The Susan G. Komen For The Cure – a foundation working towards a cure for breast cancer, established in 1982 after Susan’s death from the illness – has hit the headlines recently de-funding Planned Parenthood. The backlash against giving more attention to the right-wing anti-abortion cause rather than the anti-cancer cause it was founded for has been paramount.

▪  6/2/12 marked the UN International Day of Zero Intolerance of Female Genital Mutilation.

▪  February is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. Did you know, three women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer every day, with 75% diagnosed at an advanced stage? Those out there wearing teal ribbons are supporting the cause.

▪ Greens MP Bob Brown said what we’ve all been thinking: that Julia Gillard has been the victim of sexism in the media. Channel Seven’s show Sunrise had a particularly stupid discussion on this topic with two male radio hosts – one who cried that he never had made sexist comments towards her, and that this was all just hooplah by “angry feminists who don’t shave under their arms.”

▪  American actress Octavia Spencer has won a multitude awards for her feministic film The Help, and has spoken out about the what the media are focussing on – no, not her awards – her weight. She was misquoted after the SAG Awards about her attitude towards health and obesity and has decidedly spoken out against this. “Of course I was miffed that not only was I being misrepresented, but it was sending THE WRONG MESSAGE to kids out there. So, I decided to tell you IN MY OWN DAMNED WORDS the truth! First of all, Ladies and Gents here’s what I am NOT DOING…I am NOT WORRYING ABOUT MY WEIGHT! I AM NOT TRYING TO CONFORM TO an unrealistic model of beauty.” Love you, Octavia!

Sources:
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