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Analysis and Comment (64)

Outlander might draw on the conventions of romance, but it’s a mistake to dismiss it as “just” romance. Fox

Outlandish desires: why Outlander is a feminist romance

Television series Outlander made its debut on the small screen in August this year, to the acclaim of both reviewers and fans. Critical tongues are wagging, tumblr gifs abound, and Etsy has been inundated…
A convicted rapist is no role model for this young fan. Darren Staples/Reuters

Time to stop playing nice about misogyny in sports

The persistence of violence against women across the globe is well documented, but what part do sports play in gendered aggression? It seems shocking to claim that sports and violence against women are…
How does a woman make art history, asks !Women Art Revolution, an American documentary that screened at the Melbourne Festival. Melbourne Festival

Just name three female artists: !Women Art Revolution on screen

The central premise of American director Lynn Hershman Leeson’s film !Women Art Revolution (2010), which screened at the Melbourne Festival over the weekend, is summarised near its conclusion: “When artists…
UN Women Goodwill Ambassador and actor Emma Watson launched the HeForShe Campaign at the United Nations headquarters in New York, 20 September. EPA/JASON SZENES

126,000 reasons why the Emma Watson hoax isn’t all bad news

In less than a week since actor Emma Watson’s stirring United Nations speech on gender inequality, two big things have happened – but you’ve probably only heard about one of them. The first, which has…
Sarkeesian has been the focus of much online hatred since she started her website Feminist Frequency in 2009. Anita Sarkeesian

Vitriolic abuse of Anita Sarkeesian: why the games industry needs her

Three weeks ago, well-known feminist gaming critic Anita Sarkeesian was forced to leave her San Francisco home due to an ongoing tirade of abuse and threats. Members of a vocal minority of online trolls…
Women’s Liberation was a worldwide mobilisation that paved the way for powerful critiques of conventional thinking about gender, sexuality and identity. Warren K. Leffler, 1970/Library of Congress

Four decades of thinking gender: the gains, struggles and debates

The past four decades have produced gains around the world for women and girls in literacy, formal education, life expectancy, workforce participation and access to some professions. We have also seen…
The hijab isn’t a symbol of oppression for many women. diegofornero

Muslim feminists reclaim the hijab to fight the patriarchy

Terrorism, oppression, fundamentalism and victimhood are only a few of the buzzwords that inevitably accompany discussions about Islamic headgear. From burqa-bans to atrocities against women in some Islamic…
There’s a thriving community of Women against Feminism – but how do their claims match up to the reality of women’s lives? Screenshot from womanagainstfeminism.tumblr.com

Actually, women, you do need feminism

Australian university campuses last week marked Bluestocking Week, a celebration that remembers the first women who entered English universities in the late 19th century. Women in lecture halls were pioneering…
Whoa there, little lady: women in the workforce face a financial penalty for simply being female. Flickr/ Boston Public Library

Not missing in action: the enduring penalty of ‘being female’

While many aspects of working life have changed in recent decades, the inequality of outcomes experienced by male and female employees has been remarkably resistant. Within corporate Australia the proportion…
How is gender inequality explained in the ‘postfeminist’ age? AAP/ Bernard Menigault

Explainer: feminism

Women have struggled for greater participation in spheres reserved for men in every nation, dating back at least to 620BCE. Yet there is no society on the planet in which women are equally represented…
Tim Blair inadvertently created an honourable list of women who’ve made a contribution to Australian life. philippe leroyer

Be very worried, Tim Blair – we are all frightbats now

I got the phone call about 6pm on Tuesday night. “Mum,” said the voice. “Mum, are you OK?” Turns out that one of my children had stumbled across a few sentences written by the Daily Telegraph blogger Tim…
Well-coined neologisms have the potential to go viral – but their survival isn’t guaranteed. possumgirl2

Will anyone bat for the frightbat, or is it destined to die?

As you may have seen, the Daily Telegraph blogger Tim Blair ran a much-tweeted-about poll yesterday asking: “Who is Australia’s craziest left-wing frightbat?”. Leaving aside the backlash, which was considerable…
A modern rarity. Tulane Public Relations

No more excuses for the lack of women experts on air

Executives from four major news providers – BBC, ITN, Channel 4 and Sky – have pledged to try to improve the number of women interviewed as experts on their programmes; and this summer will be the test…
Beyond the tea and scones, the Country Women’s Association has played an important role in Australian women’s history. topsynette

Perhaps tea and scones are OK: the CWA and feminism today

Next month the Country Women’s Association (CWA) of New South Wales will vote whether or not to put one of their most valuable assets, their Potts Point headquarters, up for sale. The prospect of the sale…
Yingmei Duan is performing Happy Yingmei at this year’s Sydney Biennale. It’s a sign feminist performance art is thriving. AGNSW

Yingmei Duan and the feminists giving contemporary art a makeover

Until the end of the 2014 Biennale of Sydney in June, Chinese performance artist Yingmei Duan will live in a small forest built inside the Art Gallery of NSW. Visitors – as they have since the start of…
The topic of “women in comedy” is endlessly controversial – as Adrienne Truscott seems to know. MICF

Sex, rape and role models – how women in comedy perform

Two performance artists in this year’s Melbourne International Comedy Festival (MICF) – the UK’s Bryony Kimmings and American Adrienne Truscott – have a certain flavour of humour: it’s the knowing, self-deprecating…
When Madonna posted a selfie of a hairy armpit, she attracted hostile responses. Why? Instagram

The truth about Madonna’s hairy armpits and sexy older women

In 1978, the cover of Patti Smith’s album Easter was sufficiently shocking and mystifying to many people that some US record stores, especially in the south, according to Smith, refused to display it…
Tonight ABC2 offers a glimpse into the lives of girls around the world, including Aziza from Afghanistan. ABC Publicity

I am a Girl: 21st-century lessons from 1970s feminism

Tonight ABC2 airs I am a Girl. Rebecca Barry’s documentary introduces us to six young women from around the world. They hail from Cambodia, Cameroon, Afghanistan, Papua New Guinea, the USA and Australia…
Pitching the saga of convicted drug smuggler Schapelle Corby as one of gender inequality is laughable. AAP/Mick Tsikas

Do feminists have a duty to care about ‘Our Schapelle’?

I’d written a piece for the ABC about “Our Schapelle”. As is often my approach it was largely a think piece. Not a condemnation, not a defence, it was simply some observations – some talking points – about…
“Lorde is indie – original and authentic. Miley and her ilk are not.” Paul Buck/EPA

Lorde vs Miley – where young feminism meets old class bias

Earlier this week, New Zealand singer Ella Yelich-O'Connor – AKA Lorde – won two Grammys, including best song for the sleeper hit Royals and – almost – topped Triple J’s Hottest 100 (her song Royals came…
This is economics, too. Paul Faith/PA

Time to stop ignoring feminist economics

Economics has been heavily criticised for being unnecessarily complex, unresponsive to criticism, and unable to predict and respond to major financial crises. Recently, we have seen calls for a broader…
A twerking, tongue-poking Miley Cyrus at the Video Music Awards in Brooklyn earlier this year. Does the pop singer represent third wave feminism? EPA/Jason Szenes

Miley Cyrus, Sinéad O’Connor and the future of feminism

Since her tongue-poking and “twerk”-filled performance at the American Video Music Awards, Miley Cyrus has been the subject of intense media discussion. This has only magnified in the past week, after…
Love is still a modern goal, and its connection with individual freedom, agency and autonomy makes it a difficult idea to reject. Peetje2

Does same-sex marriage necessarily mean ‘radical love’?

Earlier this year, Byron Bay mayor Simon Richardson announced that he wants his council to pass a motion recognising same-sex marriage and to set up a “love park”. That the theme of the park is love rather…
In recent days, prime minister Julia Gillard has been accused of overplaying the ‘gender card’. AAP/Tony McDonough

Gillard and gender: has she been vindicated?

In a room full of feminists, there was hardly a sympathetic word in the room for prime minister Julia Gillard on Tuesday night. Earlier that day, the prime minister had launched Women for Gillard with…
Iceland was hailed the most feminist country in the world, after the country banned strip clubs in 2010. Image from Shutterstock

The Iceland model: banning pornography or banning freedom?

Iceland has taken a critical step to ban online pornography – and if successful it will be the first Western industrial nation to do so. According to Icelandic interior minister Ogmundur Jonasson, the…
The world is definitely a mess, but women aren’t the ones to blame. AAP Image

We are destroying the joint

Without really knowing what he was saying, Alan Jones was right – we are “destroying the joint”. Any dispassionate assessment of the state of “the joint”, both the corner we occupy and the planet as a…
Women all over the Western world, such as these protestors in Paris in1972, have had to fight for abortion rights. Marina Urquidi

Still keeping women out: a short history of Australian abortion law

Tuesday marked the 40th anniversary of the US Supreme Court decision in Roe v Wade (410 U.S. 113 (1973)), which found that Texas State law prohibiting abortion was unconstitutional. The landmark decision…
Anne Summers has spoken about her own experience with a backyard abortion. AAP Image/Luis Enrique Ascui

Dangerous remedies: ending the horror of backyard abortions

When Prime Minister Julia Gillard spoke out against sexism and misogyny in the parliament last month, her words had resonance far beyond the political context of the moment. It was a reminder that women…
Macquarie is changing its definition of misogyny… but it still applies to the leader of the opposition. AAP/Pan Macmillan

Tony Abbott is a misogynist, however the dictionary defines it

As an academic, I often become obsessed with the meaning of words. They lure me in with their conceptual promise, and then I get hooked and tangled on distinctions and disciplinary nuance. Perhaps unsurprisingly…
Julia Gillard attacked Tony Abbott’s past comments about women in a passionate speech during Question Time. AAP/Lukas Coch

Julia Gillard hits back at a long history of sexism in parliament

Peter Slipper has resigned. The sexist text messages mentioning female genitalia published as part of a civil court case were suddenly the bridge too far for Her Majesty’s Opposition. But the Opposition…
Former Cosmopolitan editor Helen Gurley Brown has passed away aged 90. Hearst Corporation

Death of an editor: vale Helen Gurley Brown

The opening round of respectful tributes have been flowing through the media after the death of Helen Gurley Brown. The original Sex and the City girl died in New York on Monday, aged 90. Long-reigning…
Women now compete in every sport at the Summer Olympics, and every country is sending a female athlete. EPA/Diego Azubel

A long jump forward: women at the London Olympics

This trend will continue into the 2014 Winter Olympics with women permitted for the first time to compete in ski jumping. Since their inclusion in the modern Olympics in Paris in 1900, female participation…
The history of the vibrator is improbable, with some fascinating milestones. Giampaolo Squarcina

Vibrators and hysteria: how a cure became a female sexual icon

Vibrators have been causing a buzz for as long as they’ve existed: sometimes this happens behind closed doors, and sometimes in the public sphere. But as the new film Hysteria shows, there’s still fascination…
Trials of a working mother: Kirstie Marshall was at the centre of controversy after she breastfed her 11-day-old baby in state parliament in 2003. AAP

For women to have it all, we have to change the way we work

Who said we could have it all, anyway? This notion is a media myth that somehow translated the idea that women should not be excluded from any sphere on the basis of sex into the sexy but fallacious view…
Two-thirds more men than women have been paid for sex in Australia, and all sex workers have rights. Jason Pier in DC

Make room for sex workers in the sisterhood … and don’t forget men

When one reads an opinion piece littered with references to “liberal elites”, it is usually a safe bet that one is reading an inherently conservative point of view dressed up to look progressive. So it…
The Lingerie Football League is coming to Australia … and it needs you to be outraged to pay the bills. AAP Image/Wayne Heming

Lingerie Football: ignore it and it will go away

I’m a fan of the retention of pubic hair. I don’t much like the idea of breast implants. Thoughts of vaginoplasty coax me into an involuntary Kegel exercise. I’ve no idea why any woman would bleach her…
The health and finance sectors have the largest gender wage gaps, of more than 30%. Jerry Bunkers

Time is running out to close the gender wage gap

Equal pay was, and still is, one of the key demands of feminists. Basic to any idea of gender equity should be that paid work is fairly rewarded, whether it’s undertaken by a male or female. In early Australian…
Is there a genuine rise in the appeal for sadomasochist behaviour among women in 2012? flickr/Jeremy Brook

Spank me silly: sadomasochism and the modern woman

The poster for Secretary is up on my wall at work. I actually paid to see A Dangerous Method purely for Jung’s novel approach to therapy (and God do I hate period films.) While I probably won’t read all…
Our debates about porn are stuck in the past. x-ray delta one

We need to talk … about porn in Australia

It seems Australians aren’t ready for a real debate on porn and sex. Yet. The Australian reported last month that Telstra was offering “soft-core pornography” with titles like “Dirty Housewife and Hot…
What’s gender got to do with it? We asked Cheryl Kernot. AAP/Julian Smith/Lukas Coch

Cheryl Kernot on politics, the media and female leadership

As one of the few women to have run a political party in this country Cheryl Kernot is well aware of the role gender plays in the Australian political landscape. In the wake of Bob Brown’s claim this week…
Women will be the key to dealing with the growth in population. Flickr/PhotograTree

Seven billion reasons to be a feminist

SEVEN BILLION PEOPLE: I had better write fast. Sometime between my deadline to submit this story and the time it goes live, the estimated world population will exceed 7 billion for the first time ever…
Chinese women have always worked, but now they’re making waves in business. Flickr/IISG

The ‘Tiger Girls’ doing business in China

There’s a new generation of women quietly getting things done in China. They are insiders: well connected in the Communist Party, and flourishing in the business world. In Chinese, capable and shrewd women…
Women rushed to change their lives in the 60s and 70s, but their progress has stalled now. Flickr/Maciek Zygmunt

Why the rush for gender equality has stalled

No one is too surprised today if a young woman becomes a doctor, lawyer, or executive. But eyebrows are raised just about as much today as in decades past if a couple features a tall woman and short man…
Stars like Jiz Lee and Dallas Fivestar are redefining porn for feminists. violet.blue/flickr

Porn and feminism: not strange bedfellows after all

I was recently approached by a young journalist, who asked for my comments on the Feminist Porn Awards. In the course of the interview, she asked if I thought feminists should watch porn. I replied that…
Canadian women defend their right to safety, no matter what they wear. flickr/Anton Bielousov

Sex, lies and slutwalking

Skimpy, scanty and suggestive attire have been one of the higher profile issues dividing feminists in recent years. In one camp, feminists of the second-wave, radical ilk have loudly decried the “sexualised…

Columnists (2)

Un-doing disrespect: women and design

Having recently attended my university’s graduation ceremony, I noted again what seems to have become a global trend — design is becoming a field where the majority of practitioners are women. I have made…