Up Front by Emma Hart

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Up Front: Say When

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  • recordari, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    Has anyone copyrighted a definition of the word feminist?

    Where do we go from here?

    AUCKLAND • Since Dec 2009 • 2607 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    every time you see an image of a woman in a dress tight enough that her bought breasts slap against her chin (just count them at the Oscars)

    None. What do I win? Demonstrating the "respect for women" she wants to see, obviously.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4650 posts Report Reply

  • Tamsin6, in reply to Jackie Clark,

    Celebrate your body. Celebrate all of it. It has, after all, taken you to lots of amazing places, and given you a lot of pleasure.

    @Jackie this time (I hope I've got the right one this time anyway!) I love that attitude, I really do - and I do try my best personally to do that. Not so sure I am liking the few white hairs sneaking into view though....

    London • Since Dec 2007 • 133 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso, in reply to Emma Hart,

    None. What do I win?

    Maybe one? Joan Rivers technically is going to be "at the Oscars".

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Megan Wegan,

    Women are accepting a new denigrating norm that makes Barbie look self-actualised. Respect for women is coasting downhill for the entire generation behind me - and it's damned depressing.

    OH MY GOD. I am cured. I am throwing out allof my dresses right now. </tui>

    Welly • Since Jul 2008 • 1275 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    TV journo Ali Ikram mistaken for pervert at local pool (wife blames dodgy moustache).

    Suddenly, a woman loudly inquired of a nearby lifeguard whether there was a 'time limit' on parents staying in the pool after one of their children had got out.

    "No," replied the lifeguard.

    The woman, clearly brassed off about this laxity, then proceeded to tell her child very loudly that she felt "uncomfortable" about being in the pool at that moment, and other loud complaints of that nature.

    The grandstanding was only interrupted by the arrival of my two-year-old daughter at the pool - which is only metres from the main pool - and Ali resuming his role as active 'parent' again.

    Telling me this story later, my husband was clearly annoyed - and hurt - by the woman's inference.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19697 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle, in reply to Megan Wegan,

    I am throwing out allof my dresses right now.

    Can I have them? I'm totally not cured.

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3828 posts Report Reply

  • Jackie Clark, in reply to Tamsin6,

    Don't we all struggle with it? I think women are very unkind to themselves and to each other, and we just need to cut that shit out. Pertinent to the discussion on feminism of course.

    Mt Eden, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3136 posts Report Reply

  • sally jones,

    Sorry for the colossal offence I've caused to pretty much everybody here, the offence caused me is piddling by comparison. I never meant to cause offence - I was hoping to cause constructive debate. But I knew I would cause offence by expressing a point of view not only different to Emma's but one that I would call more 'radical.' Radical feminists have always caused offence. Clearly I failed in generating constructive debate, though I thought at one point it was rather more constructive than it had been.

    I have tried to respond to the multitude of questions and comments but as you have done in return I have been selective in responding to that which I consider most applicable and useful for the purposes of making the points that I thought needed making. Most of what I have written here has been ignored, much of it has been distorted. For example, my PhD (on justice for battered women), which took a major toll on me and I have lived to regret writing ever since and feel anything but arrogant pride in, much of the time - certainly right about now - was only mentioned to answer lemmings insult that I was all ideology no "actual ideas", whatever that is meant to mean. It was NOT meant to make every single other person feel that whatever they had written elsewhere on or off-line was less valuable and without 'actual ideas'. I don't know much about the blogosphere at all and shouldn't have brought it into this discussion. Sorry.

    Megan I never called you a slut or accused you of waffling, saying I did is deeply upsetting to me. I've never met you and know very little about you. As far as waffling goes, I think you state your case on PA as succinctly as anyone.


    I used to have the stomach for this kind of thing but I don't no more. Ironically that was why I turned to self-deprecating light humour. But, it would seem, once a radical feminist who wants to change the world but still hasn't the foggiest how to despite decades of huffing and puffing away, always a radical feminist. Fuck it all.

    You won't be hearing from me again.

    Auckland • Since Sep 2010 • 179 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    Oh, fucking hell Tracy

    Actually, the more I look at it the more I wonder if anyone’s told Tracey Barnett that Darth George is trolling with her by-line.

    Sure, it’s a laugh, if real life gave us the flipside. If every time you see an image of a woman in a dress tight enough that her bought breasts slap against her chin (just count them at the Oscars), men felt comfortable having their gonads trussed up, surgically enlarged, with two-thirds of them shelved outside their tux trousers. It doesn’t exist in mainstream public life for men. The difference is, women accept it, men will not.

    Well, Trace, I know one or two women who’d bitch-slap you upside the head for the clot of astoundingly offensive assumptions there. Starting with a radical feminist self-analysis of where her assumption that a certain type of women with generously proportioned breasts must have “brought” them. Body image fascist, much?

    Oh, and perhaps we watch very different Oscar red carpet coverage, but way to go with the false equivalence there. I don't notice many women getting around with two-third of their vaginas "shelved outside" their gowns. However, I do notice plenty of men wearing tuxes that are cut to show off their ass..ets.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    But I knew I would cause offence by expressing a point of view not only different to Emma's but one that I would call more 'radical.'

    Sally, can you honestly not see that it isn't your point of view which has offended people, but the way you have gone about expressing it?

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4650 posts Report Reply

  • Megan Wegan,

    Sally, I am sorry if you've been caused offence. What we've been trying to do is explain to you why _we're_ offended, and tease out whether you actually intended to cause that offence. As Emma says, it's not your views.

    Welly • Since Jul 2008 • 1275 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle, in reply to Emma Hart,

    +1. For example, if Sally had been talking about unrealistic beauty standards *without* having a go at other women’s, uh, gender performativity (she says, wankishly) then I don’t think this would have gone badly at all.

    ETA Noting that even in general terms, I think her argument may still be indefensible. It just would have been a better discussion.

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3828 posts Report Reply

  • Peter Darlington, in reply to Danielle,

    My feminism actually *is* waffly crap. What's more, I buy girly shit all the time and I can't even drive a forklift. I have no idea why Sally thinks I'm more 'worthy' than you or Emma, Megan.

    Probably because you love Notorious BIG as well as Missy Elliot. Basically, you're a righteous Mofo and everyone's gotta love that, even Sally, right?

    Nelson • Since Nov 2006 • 949 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Sally, please don't flounce. This a blogosphere word for storming off in a discussion that has got heated, vowing never to return. I'm saying please because I think you've shown good faith in returning to apologize, and want to share something with you - getting slapped down if you're offending people is common here, but so is forgiveness.

    I've committed far worse sins than you here, thinking particularly back to an extremely poor showing in a debate on fat. No-one has held a grudge, despite being mighty offended at the time. The trick is to learn, and keep going.

    I think you might find it's worthwhile, that you can have good discussions on this topic. What you need to remember is that this is a mature forum, in which many people have been participating for a long time, and we know a lot about what the others think, have written and said. Your perspective is most welcome if expressed in ways that conform to some standards of courtesy that it might take some time to learn.

    You won't find many places on the internet that will treat you nicer than here, or where discussions can reach such depth. I really think you should try again. Get back on the horse.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10646 posts Report Reply

  • Rich Lock, in reply to Megan Clayton,

    For me, it's the transformation of society as part of a wider movement for social justice (which for me, again, would include democratic socialism) to the extent that gender equality is both consistently upheld as a "first principle" of the state and within the lives of individuals and groups.

    You can infer from that intersectionality the extent to which I consider sexism on the left wing along with the politically conservative beliefs of some branches of feminism (none discussed here, I might add) to be problematic in this regard.

    That's kinda what I was after, but wanted something more.....concrete-y.

    For example, paying a woman who does the same work as me the same wage as me is not (necessarily) going to solve the problem and be the end point. She still works within a corporate structure that was built by, and for the benefit of, the patriarchy.

    One example of where that starts to become an issue is when children enter stage left. Does she leave work to look after them? If she returns to work, is she A Bad Mother (tm)?

    I know one relatively high-flying woman who believes her career with a reasonably large law firm has effectively dead-ended since she had children. She can't devote enough focus or raw time to the workplace to keep advancing.

    I know another single mother who feels that having to leave her workplace on the dot every day in order to pick up her child from daycare contributed to her being 'managed out'.

    Oddly enough, those aren't issues for the men in those workplaces.

    If a couple discuss who out of the two of them is going to stay home, then it is often going to be the man who returns to work in a purely practcal sense. He earns more, and has better prospects. That isn't right, but what do we do about it?

    These aren't new issues or new questions, but I'm interested in how people would structure something to replace what we already have, and how you would go about building it.

    Women-only firms? Positive-discrimination quotas? Forced paternity leave?

    I'd welcome being directed to any writings on concrete solutions anyone wants to post up, but I'm more interested in the thoughts of people on here.

    To kick off, I'll give this example from Sweden.

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2728 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Littlewood, in reply to Russell Brown,

    I was going to offer a bit of an admonition thing about us being unkind to each other, but things seem to be working out. Meanwhile, here’s Sarah Daniell’s awesome interview with John Campell about being the only guy in the village at VUW gender studies:

    What a fantastic interview! Also something I never thought I would see was Chris Trotter coming out in defence of women’s studies. Truly, life is full of surprises. He talks about last night’s show here. As round-table discussions go, it was highly entertaining, and young Hannah has a very smart head on her shoulders. I get the impression she’s one to look out for.

    Um, I’ve got no idea where the conversation has headed recently, I just thought I would big-up this week’s Media 7.

    Today, Tomorrow, Timaru • Since Jan 2007 • 448 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Littlewood,

    And because it's Friday, here's one of the Chic Corporation's finest:

    Today, Tomorrow, Timaru • Since Jan 2007 • 448 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen,

    Sally you have worthwhile things to say and worthwhile experiences to share and we are here to listen - not always with the attitude you may want but for most everyone here it's honest and open and after 50 years I've come to understand that's as good as it gets.

    If you offend apologise simply and quickly, if you are offended sit back and figure out why and if it really matters and then set it aside because it's only the internet and everyone gets offended here. I screw up here a lot and I'm still allowed to speak and sometimes I even say something useful, this is a forgiving environment and a place where forgiving others helps make the conversations better. I understand your anger and frustration and understand your desire to walk away but in the end you might consider that the voices here are worth listening to after all. Or not. In either case I wish you well.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4452 posts Report Reply

  • recordari,

    This thread has now officially driven me to the bottle. Beer o'clock.

    AUCKLAND • Since Dec 2009 • 2607 posts Report Reply

  • Megan Clayton, in reply to Rich Lock,

    Thanks for your response Rich. I'm happy to respond with an account of some of the ways in which I think feminists and their allies can organise around some of the kinds of problems you identify. This comes, of course, with the caveat that it's my opinion and experience, Y[Feminisim]MV, etc.

    To my mind, feminist approaches to industrial problems work particularly well when combined with other systems, in and outside the place of employment. This may mean engaging with HR on behalf of oneself or others, which may or may not be effective, being willing to talk to managers about specific or systemic problems, joining a union and forming a working relationship with an organiser or women's rights officer, and or joining (or starting) a women's network in the workplace. My experience has been that these things are harder to do for lower-paid women working in lower-status jobs, so part of feminist activity in the workplace is being willing to advocate for these women workers and support and encourage them as, over time, they feel more emboldened to do the same.

    I'm aware as I write this that my workplace setting - a large public institution in which I am also a union rep - is very different from that of a woman working say for a private law firm or a woman whose children are cared for outside the workplace or the home (my partner and I work non-standard hours and our daughter attends ECE on site at my workplace). So I think it's all the more important to encourage young people entering the workforce to think about what they might want for themselves, their careers and their home life in the medium term. This applies to potential fathers as well as mothers - what is the institutional culture like for them? Part of changing workplace culture is articulating one's own expectations, even if contrary to the prevailing culture, sometimes over many years. As above, some workers will need others to do this for them. This is where I think women's professional networks can be so important in that they encourage, if they work well, that spirit of cooperation and mutual help and sustain people in an unwillingness to back down.

    Women workers and workers in general have to my mind three ways in which they can push for change in everyday ways: in terms of the law, industrially and in terms of workplace culture. My personal view is that unionism is the most effective way of doing this, and that modern unions can also be places in which feminism is fostered, in pockets at least, if not intra-organisationally. To change systems and cultures in ways that might alleviate the problems you describe, I would counsel a long-term view, finding and cultivating allies, looking for intersecting networks (I am not Māori, for example, but a lot of my union work involves being an ally to Māori women staff and Māori staff more generally as best I can), being willing to talk to those one might not normally engage with (management, HR - HR staff can be feminists and allies too) and never giving up.

    I think too that fathers in the workplace need to talk more with their colleagues about their own role as parents, and similarly articulate their expectations with regard to childcare - taking on some of that need for flexibility, for example. Managing children and work is not going to get easier for women as long as male parents continue to work the status quo - and I believe that there are many working men out there who would welcome the opportunity to be more involved in childcare, to work more flexibly, to do some of the things that it is expected that working mothers have to do. Those challenges won't be spread in the Swedish fashion however until more employees are prepared to articulate this at whatever level, changing culture, policy and law.

    (I am not a frequent commenter as PAS because I favour the long-form in writing and don't wish to clog up the columnage unduly. I trust more active members will grant me this diversion.)

    Christchurch • Since Feb 2007 • 51 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic, in reply to Rich Lock,

    Japan and France/Scandinavia illustrate the stark contrasts of how they approach the issue of working mothers, and it shows in their fertility rates.

    Closer to home, the way forward faces the obstacle of the Whaddarya Mentality (TM), which erroneously regards stay-at-home dads as having a loser or poofter stigma. If anything, it's a subset of barefoot-and-pregnant-ism, which itself is a subset of the flourishing Ladder Kicking Syndrome.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5428 posts Report Reply

  • Islander,

    Too true DeepRed, on both counts/all counts.

    One of my family, bloke, spent some years as a stay-at-home-dad: made very good sense, fiscally & otherwise to do so. He didnt get any borax poked at him (not least because he’s a wonderful human being, as well as being a quite wellknown shot.)
    Another person I know well has also been a house-husband – and, again, no shit has been offered (probably not least because he stands 6’7” and weighs over 25 stone). But, 2 other really neat male friends have opted to remain Dad to their children (one to one child, the other to 3 children), when their partners walked out on ’em. Both were beneficiaries, but did a lot of community work – and at various times, were nearly broken by lack of support from the official agencies.

    ETA: one of those brillant solo Dads is still on a benefit(and still making his amazing gardens for free), and all kids are out in the world, as excellently functioning adults.

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Matthew Littlewood,

    What a fantastic interview! Also something I never thought I would see was Chris Trotter coming out in defence of women’s studies.

    *sigh* Well, it's all the fault of the evil right-wing cabal innit? Somehow, I find it rather implausible that the groves of academe were wilted by the winds of Clark-o-phobia. Once more, a significantly more interesting (and complex) reality-based tale cannot be allowed to get in the way of Comrade Trotter's very special world view.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Russell, thanks for that interview with John Campbell. Those of us who fought the imminent closure of the Gender and Women's Studies Dept at Victoria all last year thought it would to be great to get JC to comment, as he is well-known as a former student. Such as a sad decision to close it as anyone with the experience of being female would know. So much more to do. It was small, cost effective and had a wide-range of students across age, ethnicity and gender.

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 3207 posts Report Reply

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