One last feminist rant for 2012

I’ve been a bit short on interwebz for a while, so not much posting here has been going on.
Thankfully, there are others who rant more than I do, who’ve been keeping their end up, so I’m gonna chuck a bunch of links atcha.
I’m too hot, it’s mid-summer, and I’m nowhere near a beach, but suffering from limited net-surfing capacity.
Sorry, there are no pictures today!

So, here’s some of the low-lights of this year for me, mostly from the last two months, in no particular order, and some linky-love to people I respect who write far more consistently than I do.

There was an appalling incident of gang-rape in India, reported on desultorily in NZ until it became mega worldwide, when the Herald finally published this. I have no words to describe this tragedy, other than it is appalling that such events happen, and the result is debate about whether laws need to be changed, in the face of huge popular demonstrations by women all over India. The time has come for Indians, whether Hindu, Sikh, Muslim, Buddhist or Christian, to come to an agreement that rape is not the fault of the victim, it is a crime by the rapist.

The Hand Mirror has been fighting fires with logic and reason, notably over the responses to the Sandy Hook mass murders. Autism has become a hot topic, when one would imagine gun control and a review of the ludicrous NRA-sponsored gun laws in the USA should be the concern. More here.

And still with THM, Stargazer had pertinent things to say about the apparent suicide of Jacintha Saldanha in the wake of an Aussie radio DJ’s prank. She also wrote a great post about harrassment women bloggers receive, referencing Anita Sarkeesian’s TED talk.

Not to be seen to be playing favourites, Luddite Journo has also had some good rants, here on consent, and here on Out in the Square. I’m missing Wellington already ….

ALRANZ blog has been busy chronicling activism in – wait for it – Invercargill, as the local fundies try to shame women and Doctors attending the clinic at Southland Hospital. Just to show that shallow thinking and illogical actions are not merely the province of ill-educated american fundamentalists. I applaud the gutsy women who are picketing in the face of right-to-lifers who can’t see the contradiction in terms between their stance on abortion and their stance on supporting women to have decent lives, with a capacity to feed the children they give birth to. *sigh*
I’d be slapping stupid faces by now, I’m just over the specious arguments …. which is really why it’s a good thing I’m not in Invercargill right now.

Feminism and Transphobia panel

Brooklynne opening the panel discussion and welcoming participants

Brooklynne opening the panel discussion and welcoming participants


St Andrews on the Terrace was the venue for an oversubscribed panel discussion (don’t worry, more chairs were poached from another room) on Friday evening, organised by Brooklynne Kennedy with help from many who attended.

The hall filled up very quickly, and after each panelist had spoken about their reasons for being part of the event, a lot of very interesting discussion ensued between panelists and audience members.

The panel comprised Brooklynne Kennedy, Nicole Skews, Joseph Hapgood and Griffin, and covered many aspects of the offense that Germain Greer, currently in Wellington for Writer’s and Readers’ week events, has caused to members of the Trans* community over the years. Feminists of many stripes attended and contributed to the discussion, as well as members of the trans* and intersex communities.

This is not the only event being held around issues of transphobia during the week, so if you missed this panel discussion, do try attending Gender Trouble, a Queer Avengers discussion group, to be held at Anvil House, Wakefield Street this Wednesday from 7pm to 9pm.

There’s a facebook event here, with info like a reading list of links if you’re keen.

This is what a feminist campaign looks like…

The Wellington Young Feminists Collective ran a very well-attended candidates forum last night, held in the mezzanine meeting room at Wellington Public Library, titled “Ladies in the House”.

“Come and hear what your candidates are planning to do for local women and ask them the questions that matter… like why there only two female Wellington Central candidates. Or why abortion is still in the Crimes Act. Or why after the 2008 election only 27% of electorate MPs were women.

Women’s issues are everyone’s issues. Let’s make them election issues.”

So, who was there? Candidates invited were:
Paul Foster-Bell (National Party Candidate for Wellington Central)
Jordan Carter (Labour Party List Candidate)
Stephen Whittington (ACT Party Candidate for Wellington Central)
Holly Walker (Green Party Candidate for Hutt South)
Jan Logie (Green Party Candidate for Mana)
Ben Craven (NZ First Candidate for Wellington Central)

and they were ably MC’d by Bryony Skillington.

There were indeed questions put about the Crimes Act, abortion law in general, health policy, domestic violence, how to get more women elected, whether parties would keep the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, poverty in general and child poverty in particular, and since my notes from the hour and a half ran to seven pages, I’m not going to detail all the answers that were given, suffice to say that Ben Craven was clearly well out of his depth, and not any kind of asset to his party affiliation in his ineptitude, which gave a lot of unintentional humour.
Paul Foster-Bell read out his set-piece answers very coherently, but you could see the gloved hand controlling the puppet.
Stephen Whittington, to his credit, gave some very unpopular answers but at least stuck honestly to his own, well-known beliefs. Prolly not gonna help ACT get any more women voters, but then they don’t seem to want a world where women are enfranchised and empowered, so I guess they’ll take as long as they need to come to grips with 21st C realities.
Now to the two women candidates – our own Green party women, Holly Walker and Jan Logie. Both spoke strongly on policy platforms, and gave well-considered answers to questions asked by the audience. Holly handled gender pay gap and child poverty issues, while Jan spoke mostly about gender violence.

Linky roundup: Radio NZ here, Wellington Access Radio here, Jan Logie’s speech here.

Update: Wellingtonista did a far better review of the guts of the forum here, which proves my personal point that I can afford to be lazy every now and then when I know someone else has got my back ;-) Big ups to the Wellingtonista team.

Slutwalk Aotearoa in Wellington, a review.

Ok, so anyone looking would have noticed that I haven’t said anything so far about this global phenomenon. FWIW, the arguments that american feminists have amongst themselves are not my problem, so I’m not gonna recap on that, google it yourself or check out the Handmirror, Julie’s done a reasonable recap here, and so has Luddite Journo.
And in the vein of my ever-increasing updates to this post, here’s Jane Clifton’s take on the story at The Listener, which was published on 2 July, before the marches took place, but will live behind the subscriber firewall until 18 July, 2011. She manages to identify my old thesis supervisor without referring to her doctorate, which I’m pretty sure she doesn’t do for Dr Jon Johanssen, or Dr Russell Norman, both of whom have politics PhD’s, as does Alison Laurie. Play spot-the-discrimination along with me…
Latest Listener has Diana Wichtel’s TV review focussing on Slutwalk reporting in the media, not bad. Not behind the firewall, either.

I went on the march after a few of us had voiced some misgivings, but basically the issue is too important not to get involved in, whatever the minor differences of style and analysis we have between our various organisations.

MJ Scannell and Pollyanne Pena did a good job for people who haven’t ever done this before. It’s so long since I was on my first Reclaim the Night organising collective that I have to stretch to remember how much I sucked; thankfully for all concerned, I wasn’t a major part of that group, and lots of people helped me to come up to speed, which is a favour I return practically every time I get involved in running a march. There are lots of things to know how to do, and there are some obstructive bureaucrats who try to stop us every time.

There were great speakers, our own Green Party Candidate standing in Mana electorate, Jan Logie, being one of them. Brooklynne Kennedy, co-convenor of the Young Greens also spoke, and so did Natalie Gousmett who some in green circles may know, speaking for Rape Crisis.
Other speakers represented the Wellington Young Feminists Collective, Young Labour, and the NZ Prostitutes Collective, whose speaker reminded us that it’s eight years since the legislation passed decriminalising prostitution, and that nobody ever ‘deserves to be raped’, whatever their relationship to their rapist, whatever their sexual history, whatever is worn, wherever it is.
There were hundreds of marchers; young, old, men, women, gay, straight, everything in between as well. The recent ‘Queer the Night’ march in Wellington to highlight homophobic violence had a flow-on effect to Slutwalk here, with many young members (and some not-so-young) of the GLBTI community coming out to march against sexual violence crimes.

The main media outlets have focussed on simple things like the word ‘slut’ and ‘skimpy clothing’ images.
If they had honestly reported the speeches, they’d have heard MJ Scannell plead for media to stop using language that blames victims of rape, that implies that the sex was somehow consensual, that says ‘s/he must have asked for it’, that perpetuates the myriad of rape myths that are current in our society.
For those reasons alone, I’m not linking to any ‘mainstream media outlets’ websites – again, you can go google it yourself or search TV3, TVNZ, stuff and nzherald websites using the ‘slutwalk aotearoa’ search term.

Update:
Jan Logie’s excellent speech is online here at her blog.
And also Brooklynne Kennedy’s speech is here.

Now some pictures!

The crowd was thickly spread across the dryer parts of Waitangi Park, the starting point.


MJ Scannell speaking to the crowd in Civic Square


Jan Logie in mid-speech, with hovering press photographer.


Brooklynne Kennedy, bravely challenging the crowd on transphobia and rape issues.


Nicole Skews from the Wellington Young Feminists Collective

Wassup with the VUW School of Gender & Women’s Studies?

Most of you know I’m currently an academic feminist.

If it had been up to the VUW Academic Board, this would not be so.
At long last, Dr Lesley Hall has been confirmed in her position for another year, and the undergraduate papers in the School of Gender & Women’s Studies (GWS) will remain.

Great news, I hear you say.
Well, yes, but not for the mass of undergraduates who have been trying to enrol in papers that have not shown on the VUW enrolement website, nor have they been confirmed in any on or offline prospectuses so far.

It is a travesty of education policy to arbitrarily choose from one academic year to next whether courses will be continued, as the VUW Council have been wont to do with GWS over the past few enrolement seasons.
“Oh noes, we have falling enrolements, we must cut courses”, they say, when their late approval of courses has contributed to uncertainty about course provision – along with the mega-PR campaign encouraging undergrad students to enrol early online, where the courses don’t show.

So, if you, or anyone you know, had intended to take a Gend paper this coming academic year, jump back on the website and dump that Accy or Eng paper you chose instead, and create a huge paper trail of grumpy feminist students who want their courses back!

Rant over.

Tonite, and tomorrow afternoon, some students are graduating with majors in GWS, including (soon to be) Dr Alison Hopkins.
I shall be joining the other post-grad students in progress to congratulate Alison and the others, at our School pre-grad morning tea, then joining the procession in Lambton Quay as a ‘sidewalk photographer’ to record the achievements of those of my peers who have finished theses despite the distinctly unwelcome air we have studied in, as Fac Ed and FHSS fight over the living, breathing bodies of our postgrad students.
But I’ll save the ongoings of that argument for another post!

Here’s something pretty from back in 2008, when we first started complaining about the cuts to facilities for GWS.

2008 protest poster

2008 protest poster

Reclaim the Night returns to Wellington

Wellington Reclaim the Night 2009

Reclaim the Night is an international event putting the issue of women’s safety from male violence on the agenda for this night and every day.
We march to demand our right to be free from the fear or reality of rape, of sexual harassment, of domestic violence, of stalking.

In Aotearoa/New Zealand
􀁹1 in 3 women will experience physical or sexual violence from a partner in their life
􀁹99% of sexual violence incidents reported to the Police are perpetrated by men
􀁹95% of them on women
􀁹A woman is killed in a domestic violence incident every 3 ½weeks
􀁹92% of protection orders are taken out by women
􀁹1 in 3 women report sexual harassment in the workplace

This year the Wellington Reclaim the Night march addresses:
“The culture of violence towards women”
and is focused around being safe in our city;
in our homes,
at work,
while out exercising or walking,
going clubbing or out for a drink with our friends

When: Friday the 27th of November, 6.00pm

Where:
Assemble at the front of the Wellington Railway Station for speakers including Labour’s Lynn Pillay on the changes to ACC for sexual violence survivors
Performance by the Real Hot Bitches (tbc)

Who: All self-defined women and their children

After party:
Ivy, Dixon Street from 8pm with performances from…
Edwardene Tanaki, Tyree Robertson
Mahinarangi Maika, Rachael Wright
Freya Eng, Palace This!
And others…

Let’s celebrate being safe in our city
Questions, comments?
www.reclaimthenight.blogspot.com
vuwsa.womens.group@gmail…com

Craftivism evening in Welli (updated).

Come and meet craft activist and Melbourne resident, Rayna Fahey, here to give an inspiring and stimulating talk to fellow activists for one night only!

    the revolution is handmade

    the revolution is handmade

    Rayna Fahey from radicalcrossstitch.com and the Melbourne Revolutionary Craft Circle will be facilitating a presentation on historical and contemporary radical craft action. Followed by a discussion on creative actions can be used for local issues.

    The award winning short film ‘I Wanna Live Here’ about radical craft responses to the Melbourne housing affordability crisis will also be screened.

    Koha on the door $10 for police and informants, towards the Oct 15th Legal Fund.

    Local crafters and bakers will be on hand with goodies for sale with profits going to the fund.

    All welcome

    Further information at : Oct 15th Solidarity.
    and radical cross stitch.

    Update:
    Here’s some links from Rayna’s talk, to amazing craft artists from other cultures:
    Lisa Anne Auerbach, the V-monologues 10th anniversay yurt, here.
    Sara Rahbar, Iranian artist living in NY and Europe, here, scroll down through the whole page, it has awesome work done with flags and Iranian women’s traditional clothing.
    Betsy Greer, author of Knitting for Good, and the Craftivism website.

    For those who couldn’t make it to the evening, here’s the link to a podcast & slideshow up on Radical Cross Stitch, from the original Melbourne event back in September ’08. Enjoy!

    We had a blast, lots of people came, and the venue (New Crossways* in Roxborough St, Mt Victoria) was warm and welcoming. Cakes were sold & eaten on the spot, amazing an beautiful craft was admired and bought, ideas, friendship and networking were exchanged.

    Thanks to everyone who came, especially the ones I hugged & said “we’ll talk after the slideshow”, then didn’t talk to – it was lovely to see so many old friends at once!
    (VUW Women’s Group ‘old girls’, you know who you are!)

    [*Not to say that I'm over what happened to the old Crossways, which I lived across the road from for a while, but that's another rant, for another year ...]

A women’s view

I’ve been neglecting my feminist hideouts recently in favour of the election, but I caught up with The Hand Mirror today to see they’d started an excellent series of interviews about where New Zealand parties and candidates stand on relation to women’s issues.

After some discussion, Sue K tackled the general policy direction, but a large number of our candidates with experience in this area have weighed in. Here are the replies from some of our highly talented Green women:

Sue Kedgeley (our 5th list candidate) answers the more general policy questions 2-10, (including our 40/40 gender representation policy) and gives her own personal take.

Jan McLauchlan, 25th on our list, takes a broader view.

The highly intelligent Rayna Fahey, also known to some of us Green bloggers and blog-readers as Kakariki is our 27th list candidate, thinks there is too much emphasis on equality among feminists, and worries that deeper causes of inequality are going unfought. She also made some really cool cupcakes. :)

Lynette Vigrass (31st) is dismayed at the recent objectification of women in New Zealand, and worries that young women are burning out trying to have everything.

Donna Wynd (20th) is most worried about poverty, and the effect of tax cuts for the wealthy on women’s lower incomes. She also has a very good brief note about how the social work of women is largely ignored by society.

Mojo Mahers is our thirteenth list candidate, and if some of the more favourable polls carry over to the election, she may end up as one of our new list MPs. She is most concerned about domestic violence. She also notes the pressures on young girls, and the under-valuing of work done chiefly by women.

Finally, Catherine Delahunty (8th) will on current polling be one of our new Green MPs this election. She feels women’s biggest issue right now is the constant stress of trying to juggle jobs and parental/family responsibilities. She also has an interesting (although quite wordy!) note on how women in power are still not tackling the issues that really matter to the women voting for them.