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All Quiet on the Blogging Front

13 Feb

For the last four months I have been very quiet on the blogging front. Life, work and other projects seemed to take up all my time. But I haven’t stopped writing (even if I have haven’t been blogging). In November I started writing a column – “Queer Perspectives” for the online version of Lip Magazine, an Australian feminist magazine based in Melbourne, Victoria. This has been a wonderful opportunity to hone my writing skills and style. And hopefully my perspective on the world and my experiences have contributed in some way to the body of feminist, female oriented, and queer discourse.

In my first article Talking Sexuality and Relationships with the Golden Oldies, I wrote the positive experiences I have had when discussing sexual orientation and same sex relationships with older people.

Perhaps you can check out Lip Magazine for yourself.

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Playboy, Feminism and Being a Gay Girl

9 Oct

I have been pondering a question that came to mind the other day. How can you reconcile feminism and lesbianism with an interest in Playboy Magazine? I had been watching a documentary on Hugh Hefner and I was thinking about what really attracted me to the magazine (other than the glaringly obvious). And how could I reconcile this with my feminist ideals around the depiction of women in the erotic and porn industries, and being a woman attracted to other women reading a men’s magazine?

To put it simply I love photography and artwork (particularly Pin-up art from the 1940’s – 1960’s) that pays homage to the female form, that focuses on the female subject, that depicts women in all their beauty. And with this there must be a sense of respect from the lens or the paintbrush or airbrush. In my opinion most of the photography and artwork in Playboy subscribes to this. And there is sometimes an ‘old school’ vibe to the images in that they are shot in the style of the 1940’s and 1950’s. Also, there appears to be no exploitation, little or no pornography (as in sexual acts) and these artistic pieces are for the purposes of showing the female form in all its glory. Yes, in many ways these photographs and artwork are purely erotic and for the purpose of arousing a primarily male audience. But I think it goes beyond that. There is a ‘worshipping’ of the female form.

As a lesbian I can view these images, with a sense of admiration of the female form. As a feminist I can view these images with a sense that the women depicted are not being exploited, they have chosen to be photographed nude or semi-nude, and they are open minded.

There is also an element of admiration for the positive role that Playboy Magazine played in the sexual revolution of the 1960’s. It was magazines such as this that bought the discussion of sex and depiction of public hair out of the shadows, from the land of the taboo and bohemian, to everyday society. And thanks to this we can discuss such things openly and we are much more aware of our sexual selves, which is natural to us human beings.

I’m not saying I like all aspects of the magazine. Most articles are of little interest to me. Certain styles of photos depicted,such as the one with a more men’s magazine aesthetic, don’t always appeal to me. I don’t really like the whole playmate presence beyond the photo shoot in the magazine. This could be where I have a flawed like of the magazine.

But all said and done, I just like to look at beautiful photography and artwork depicting women.

Note – these are my own personal views and opinions. I realise others will have views differing to mine, and I respect those ideas too.

20131009-181156.jpg (July/August 2013 issue of Playboy Magazine)

A Talk with Merle Thornton – An Australian Feminist Legend!

23 May

As part of Diversity Week (a celebration of different cultures, art and issues) at the large university I work at, I had a wonderful opportunity to listen to a talk given by a famous Australian feminist and activist, Merle Thornton.

Merle came along to discuss her involvement in the establishment of the gender studies (at the time ‘women’s studies’) major at the university in 1973, the first of its kind in Australia. She also spoke about her life story, particularly her early career in the male dominated public service in the 1950’s and 1960’s, and significantly her famous and influential activist activities. Merle and Rosalie Bogner changed themselves to the public bar in the Regatta Hotel (a famous historic pub in Brisbane, Queensland) in 1965 in protest of the law banning women from public bars. As Merle said today, these were not men’s bars or private bars, these were public bars, and women were not allowed in these areas, let alone have a drink. Following this Merle was appointed president of a newly established feminist group and tackled another massive issue, a law requiring female public servants to resign when they married. Merle said it took eighteen months, but they won with a law passed in parliament amending the act and also introducing maternity leave.

She is such an inspirational female activist and I feel privileged that I had a chance to hear her talk in person. The protest at the Regatta Hotel basically started the women’s liberation movement in Brisbane (Trove – National Library of Australia). As the National Library describes it, a defining moment in the feminist movement in Australia.

References –
http://trove.nla.gov.au/people/765073?c=people
http://www.uq.edu.au/news/?article=22774

20130523-183930.jpg (Source – Queensland Department of Communities – http://www.communities.qld.gov.au/q150-women/1960/index.shtml#item-public-bars)

The Buzzcocks – Punk & Sexuality

19 Apr

Last week with the death of Margaret Thatcher, I found myself contemplating the punk movement and their opposition to the Thatcher government and its policies. See posts – and ___________. With this I was listening a lot to The Clash (my favourite punk band). One afternoon after work I stopped off in the city and picked up some local street press (free newspapers discussing music, movies and queer topics). I picked up Queensland Pride (a local Queer Street press publication) and I saw an articles about the British punk band, The Buzzcocks. It was an enlightening article!!

I had no idea about the band’s queer ness / support for the queer community and that the lead singer, Pete Shelley is bisexual. I had never listened to their music. I had seen references and articles to the band over the years, but I thought they were a macho (given that the term ‘cock’ is in the band’s name) male orientated punk band. I was rather wrong. The ‘cock’ in the band’s name in fact refers to the Manchester slang for mates/friends. And to discover that in their songs there were references to sexuality and bisexuality, was fascinating. Peter Shelley had also been “involved in student politics at college and campaigning for rights of women and gays and lesbians and bisexuals.” A marriage of campaigning for LGBTI rights, equality for women and punk politics. I loved this. I was inspired.

I mentioned this to my girl over the weekend and said I wanted to listen to some of their music. And low and behold, my girl bought me two of their albums yesterday! She is awesome. So I had a chance to listen to their music this morning on my drive to the train station. I like it. And there were a few songs that I liked straight away – great guitar, beat and lyrics. I will be listening to more over the weekend I suspect.

I am also going to try and listen to some female punk bands such as X-Ray Specs and some Queercore (punk that rejects the disapproval of LGBTQI people) bands.

Links –
http://gaynewsnetwork.com.au/entertainment/music-2/10842-ever-fallen-in-love-with-a-buzzcock.html

Wom*news #9: Myths OUT NOW!

12 Apr

Issue 9 of Wom*news from the UQ Women’s Collective. Great local feminist writing and self publishing.

wom*news

Untitled

You heard right, folks! The UQ Women’s Collective is so very proud to present to you our ninth issue of our zine Wom*news: Myths!

You can read it online here 🙂

In addition to #9’s release, we’ve got a special announcement! Wom*news is now honoured to be hosted in the UQ Library Catalogue. You can even search for us – go on, try it! Our reference looks so puuuurty.

We’ll be sure to post details of a little “myths” release party, and to update you on our potential showing of Wom*news at the South Side Tea Room’s zine and cartoon fair in June.

Happy reading – and don’t forget to tell us what you think, at uqwnews@gmail.com or in the comments!

~ Emma

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“Femaleness” Instead of Femininity

4 Apr

As previously discussed in my post Femme Identity & Me, the term feminine doesn’t always sit well with me, as it seems to imply conformity with preconceived notions of “what it means to be a woman.” This also definitely applies to the term “femininity” in my eyes.

The term “femaleness,” was proposed by Feminist Spiritualists in the book Living in the Lap of the Goddess: The Feminist Spirituality Movement in America by Cynthia Eller. This term rejects the patriarchal, societal and traditional ideas around femininity and what it means to be a woman, and describes these things as female traits beyond conformity. I love this concept. The rejection of feminine traits and attributes as being a construct of patriarchal society and reclaiming these as female / woman traits from a female / woman perspective.

However, I have found myself using the term femininity in my blog posts around femme identity. Perhaps using the term femininity in the context of the femme gender identity, and the queered nature of femininity in this identity sits better with me. I have taken ownership of the word and I express it how I want to.

I am planning to explore Feminist Spirituality more.

Reference
Eller, Cynthia (1993) Living in the Lap of the Goddess: The Feminist Spirituality Movement in America, Crossroad Publishing Company, USA

Third Wave Feminism

4 Apr

I have been reading a paper on Third Wave Feminism and the defense of the concept of “choice” and “choice Feminism,” where the feminist movement gives women choice in how they live their lives and are not judgemental regarding these choices. The paper, entitled Third-Wave Feminism and the Defense of “Choice” by R. Claire Snyder-Hall, was published in the journal Perspectives on Politics, volume 8, in 2010. The paper was part of a symposium on Women’s Choices and the Future of Feminism.

I think of myself as a Third Wave / Sex Positive Feminist. I believe women, including feminists, are free to make their own choices regarding how they live their lives, express their sexuality, and embrace feminine traits, without judgement or patriarchal interference. That said, I passionately believe that women should not submit to male dominance, nor feel they “have to” be feminine to be a woman. In my belief system, the concept of “Empowered Femininity,” discussed in previous posts – Femme Fatales – empowered femininity? and Empowered Femininity, helps to define Sex Positive Feminism for me. Empowered, modern, feminist women embrace and perform femininity in their own ways or emulate and transform with confidence and assertiveness, femininity and female sexuality from past eras. I believe the neo-burlesque and neo-pin up movements, and modern femme and lipstick lesbian identities, allow feminist women (and non-feminist identified women) to embrace modern femininity, of their own choosing and purpose. And these women have control over their own identity and what being a woman, and feminine means to them, and not solely for the male or female gaze.

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