Friday February 23, 2018

Australia to hold first of its kind ‘Feminist Writers Festival’ at Melbourne in August

The festival aims to break down and challenge the barriers that feminist writers face

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A vintage poster on Feminism. Image source:progressiverags.com
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  • Women make up 50% of the population in Australia, but only have 26% representation in parliament
  • In Australia, women on an average make 17.5% less than men
  • The Feminist Writers Festival will be held on August 27 and 28 in Melbourne, Australia

Feminism is a political movement that involves people campaigning for equality granted towards women. In Australia, they have declared a Feminist Writers Festival, and there is much hype around it. There are some appalling facts in regards to feminism in Australia. In Australia, women on average make 17.5% less than men. Women make up 50% of the population in Australia, but only have 26% representation in parliament. Finally, one in three women has experienced sexual or physical violence in their lifetime.

Keeping these facts in mind it is not hard to understand why people are fighting for equality. Many people have spoken out about it. At the Sydney Writers Festival, Gloria Steinem simply stated, “Just don’t ask us if feminism is still relevant.”

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Openly being a feminist writer in today’s world is no easy task. In fact, often times the few and the brave women who declare themselves as such, are ridiculed. This was the case with Clementine Ford. On January 25, Ford innocently tweeted-

“Writing a book is the hardest thing I have ever done. #homestretch”

Funny Feminist Make Me a Sandwich Poster. Image source: zazzle.com.au
Funny Feminist Make Me a Sandwich Poster. Image source: zazzle.com.au

This received almost instant backlash from Gary Orsum, a YouTube user. Orsum opened his YouTube video mocking Ford, claiming her tweet was hilarious. He then found a sewer worker and addressed him as such, “Excuse me mate, um, Clementine Ford’s having a pretty hard time of it. Would you mind letting her do your really cruisy job as a sewer worker for a week, while you take on the hardest job ever in the world of writing a book and stopping whenever you feel like it to make a cup of tea and get on twitter and abuse men?” Unfortunately for Ford and other feminist writers, the video has over nine thousand views and four hundred likes.

For anyone looking to get into feminist writing, this story can leave a daunting impression of the backlash you will receive for even the most innocent of opinions you may have. It is clear that the world has much farther to go in accepting feminist writers, and hopefully, the festival aids in this movement.

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That is just one example of what feminist writers have to deal with. A clear indicator that something must change can actually be found among the main twelve Australian review publications. When looked into, there is a clear bias regarding male reviewers towards male authors.

The festival aims to break down and challenge the barriers that feminist writers face. They are attempting to, “free people from historic boxes” says Cristy Clark, Chair of the Festival. The festival is made up of a diverse group of committee members, Celeste Liddle (aboriginal origin), Maxine Beneba Clarke (Afro-Caribbean), and Shakira Hussein (Pakistani). Each woman, although having different roots, sets out with the goal to challenge the conventional way people tend to think about writers and their works.

The women passionately backing the festival realize that things will not change immediately. They do hope that they open up channels of communication and support among feminist writers so that change will happen gradually.

-by Abigail Andrea, an intern at NewsGram. Twitter: @abby_kono

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  • devika todi

    such movements should receive worldwide recognition and support.

  • Paras Vashisth

    This kind of movements helps to aware the people.And it plays an important role in today’s world.

  • Aparna Gupta

    This festival is a success as it is first time a nation has thought to have Feminist Writers Festival.

Next Story

It’s not what you wear, but the way you wear it

Men lack the enzyme which processes self-awareness, which is why we think we look good in Speedos

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A lot depends upon what we wear and how we carry it. Wikimedia Common
A lot depends upon what we wear and how we carry it. Wikimedia Common

Definition of being behind on the laundry: When you find yourself seriously considering wearing a Halloween costume to work.

I expected my wife to veto the idea, but she was okay with it, saying: “It’s not what you wear that counts, but whether you can carry it off.”

Mind you, this was a phone conversation and so she couldn’t see what I was wearing. In the event, going to work in a killer clown outfit was not as bad as it might have been, and the fake bloodstains on the costume proved advantageous. Fellow passengers quickly gave me a seat on the bus — actually, a whole block of seats.

Also Read: Get quirky with your shoes

The main (and possibly only) advantage of marriage for guys is that we are given full-time aides (“wives”) who generally prevent us going out looking too ridiculous. Men lack the enzyme which processes self-awareness, which is why we think we look good in Speedos.

Proof: In my true-crime file is a report about a criminal fugitive on the run in Japan who disguised himself in a girls’ sailor suit school uniform. Since he was a tall man with massive shoulders, he managed to evade detection for only minutes.

Definition of being behind on the laundry: When you find yourself seriously considering wearing a Halloween costume to work. Wikimedia Commons
Definition of being behind on the laundry: When you find yourself seriously considering wearing a Halloween costume to work. Wikimedia Commons

Another true story: Last year, a pair of bank robbers decided to dress as women to scope out a bank in Thomasville, Florida. The result was the opposite of what they expected: They became the centre of attention, of course.

It is really hard for men to dress convincingly as females as we lack the two main things that make a woman a woman — good taste, and the ability to walk with our feet clamped in instruments of torture known as “lady’s shoes”.

There’s one exception which proves my point. In November last year, the coach of the Thailand women’s kabaddi team was dismayed to find out that males were banned from attending women’s sports events in Iran, where his team was playing. So he wrapped his head in a female scarf and marched straight in.

Also Read: Why Do People Get Aggressive After Drinking?

He fooled nobody but correctly judged that the women would be too nice to throw him out. Smart guy.

Our UK correspondent shared a sad news item about a group of men who raised money for their local hospital by dressing as nurses and pushing a bed around town. The hospital refused to accept the cash as they said it was considered politically incorrect for men to dress as nurses these days.

It is really hard for men to dress convincingly as females as we lack the two main things that make a woman a woman. Wikimedia Commons
It is really hard for men to dress convincingly as females as we lack the two main things that make a woman a woman. Wikimedia Commons

This seems unfair, as I have seen marathon runners dressed as bananas, dinosaurs and Q-Tips without complaint from fruit sellers, palaeontologists or people who like to poke things in their ears.

But the political issues surrounding women’s clothes are complex. In 2011 someone organised a “slutwalk” in Canada. This involved scantily-clad females marching down the road with protest banners. When the Slutwalk arrived in Asia, the women were fully covered up and many of the marchers were male; so the event missed the point, a bit like the Animal Rights Barbecue that a friend of mine once tried to organise.

Also Read: 7 Unfailing Ways To Impress Your Lady Love & Swoon Her Off Her Feet

Anyway, like my wife says, it’s not what you wear but how you wear it. By the way, I look great in a Speedo. (IANS)

(Nury Vittachi is an Asia-based frequent traveller. Send ideas and comments via his Facebook page)