Ms. Deneuve

Dear Ms. Deneuve,

It is wonderful for you that you feel comfortable with male attention, that it does not make you feel unsafe or threatened, that it does not even annoy. It is wonderful for you that you feel so unthreatened by this behaviour, either solicited or unsolicited, that you feel the need to defend men and their ‘right’ to hit on women.

And don’t get me wrong; I realize where you’re coming from. It seems to be a reaction to a movement that may appear to you as contrary to what feminists of your era fought for: sexual freedom.

I can even, if I squint hard, see a little bit of your take on the #metoo movement being victimizing: women self-flagellating, re-opening wounds and re-triggering themselves may seem like martyrdom and victimhood. But look at it for what it was for many; women realizing they will not be heard until they scream. And realizing at the same time that whatever will elicit a scream loud enough will hurt and doing it anyway. The real pity is not these women and their unified scream, but your inability to see the courage it took.

Another real pity is that you are doing exactly what has been divisive in feminism – you’ve come at feminism devoid of awareness outside of yourself and therefore, coming to a conclusion that is ignorant and completely devoid of empathy. Though, how you managed to miss basic awareness of the state of women aside from yourself and your echo-chamber, is beyond me.

Your stance is tied to a single, narrow perspective: privilege. It is a privilege that you don’t see men as a real threat, that you can take pleasure from ‘a touch on the knee’ or even simply dismiss it as harmless.

Many women, don’t have that privilege: the men they’ve known have been actual threats. Their brothers, fathers, uncles, ex-partners or rejected suiters have all been threats. Like Qandeel Baloch, whose brother killed her for his ‘honour’, like Mukhtaran Bibi, who was gang raped because ‘an eye for an eye’, like Malala Yousefzai, shot for trying to get an education.  All the acid attack victims in Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Nigeria, Ethiopia – attacked to protect family honour, community honour or as vessels for revenge. These women were not seen as human by the men, only as symbols of honour, as tokens of masculinity, as tools used to exact their twisted brand of justice.

What utter privilege and absolute ignorance it must take to even think the phrase ‘just a touch’. Oh, and the way you attempted to buffer yourself from the reaction to your letter: dragging another woman in front of you to take the flak. A classy move for a self-identified feminist.

And so, Ms. Deneuve stop denigrating the laurels from your feminist battles past and look at the context of the now for women outside the high walls of your wisteria-covered privilege.

Review ~ Wild Bore, Sydney Festival Jan 24-28 2018

Image courtesy of Sydney Festival

I’m a pretty lucky feminaust. my partner works in broadcasting and is a performer so I get to see a lot of awesome shows for little or not money and on the whole, they’re fabulous. I also often get to meet the performers afterwards, generally speaking, I live in a privileged world where I see great art and performance and I love it, I also take it for granted a lot. I work long hours and my work is far from the city so I spend a lot of time driving. For a long time my work was also drawn out well outside of business hours and getting home after 8pm was far from unusual. It’s not so bad anymore but I still work a lot and hard and it’s not unusual for me to get home and just want to cuddle on the couch with my puppies and a glass or five of wine. TV is so good these days with streaming and the ABC killing it with Australian content, it takes a lot to get me up again and out the door with clothes on to see a show. I’ve also been known to forget my partner has told me she has tickets to something so it’s not unusual for me to get home already to pyjama-up and be reminded that we’re going out.

Big Fat Grumpy Face.

On the occasion we saw Wild Bore, this was absolutely the case. I just wanted to work on my couch bum and make a dint in a good bottle of red but my partner was insistent. She had friends in this show, it was a Friday night, we had no commitments the next morning, I was not sick, I had no excuses. And I’m so so SO glad that is the case because this show is hands down one of the best things I’ve ever seen. And you, my dear feminausts, are going to agree 100%.  Continue reading

When Is Consent Consensual

Informed Consent- Kevin Krejci


Consent: controversial, to put it simply. The intricacies of sex and gender are constantly deconstructed and reconstructed in feminist debate, with the main hub of discourse around consent. Consent around sex itself, specific sex acts, sex-work and pornography.

I think we can, by now, put a very basic blanket rule on sex itself: that informed consent between two adults is vital. Each and every time sex is had. Obviously couples develop their own language within which they give consent, but this does not exclude the necessity of the blanket rule.

However, if consent is seen in more particular contexts pornography, specific acts/genres of sex, sex-work, things stop being simple.  Continue reading

feminaust chats with Simone French and Cait Spiker of Hersteria –  the show that’s taking the Fringe Festival by flamingo-covered, pineapple-scented storm.

Hersteria press photo 1

1.  Tell us what your show is about. Did you draw on real life experiences?

Cait: The show is about the neuroses of women, and how we constantly compare, judge and compete with each other to feel better about ourselves. Sim came to me a few days before Fringe applications were due and said “I want to do a show with you, about us” and then we just went from there.

Sim: Originally we were going to examine female sexuality throughout the centuries, but then we started looking at our own experiences and drawing from the funny and ridiculous things we do and see around us…and we realised that this was far more exciting and relevant for us to explore. Even if people don’t relate to the show, at least we can say we were honest and called on our experiences. Continue reading

Brown: What White Feminists Need

Brown isn’t just a color. Brown, when used by a woman in the know i.e. a Brown woman, means belief, ideology, culture, norms, rules, self-concept. It means family ties knotted and entangled and complex; linked to rules and obligations and a hierarchy of nuanced mores, both spoken and unspoken. Some rules are so complex and long-held, they are absorbed, almost like osmosis, through the skin. And on reflection, there is little recollection of how they permeated the consciousness.

Brown means being vigilant about these convoluted rules guiding conduct, deportment (discrete, mannered, controlled), speech (again, discrete mannered, controlled) and even body language (yes, also discrete, mannered, controlled). A small example of one of the ‘rules’ I seemed to have absorbed was ‘small yourself‘. Nothing direct was taught or said, but I recall the first time I stretched in public outside of Pakistan. I was in Australia on some sidewalk in some town. And I felt the urge to stretch; I stretched long and wide, chest out, back arched. And I felt a thrill-like I was doing something illicit. It was then that I realized Brown women from the sub-continent do not stretch like that in public.

Rules extend to dress and around engaging with men and women at different ages in different spaces. There are obvious and implied rules around sexuality and how it is/isn’t expressed. Continue reading

It’s Still Here

I was in semi-wakefulness for most of my childhood and some of my adolescence. Vaguely aware that something was bothering me but lacking the understanding of what it was or the words to express the bother. Certain terms and behaviors triggered strong dissonance, but as an adolescent I was unable to articulate why.

I’d hear the word ‘slut’ or ‘girls can’t *insert random activity/ability/skill/function*’ or see gender-unequal systems (for example the school I went to had a desultory attitude toward girls sport) and feel annoyed. This was exacerbated by my observation that no one else appeared disturbed by those words, behaviors.

I gradually woke up; a conscious process of self-education, navigating gender politics, socio-cultural mores and religion. Now, more awake than I have ever been, I sometimes fall into the classic echo-chamber trap. Just because me and mine are awake, doesn’t mean everyone is.

I am not talking about sleep, obviously. I am talking about wakening to the patriarchal hold that can go so deep you don’t feel or see the hold. The hold becomes the ‘normal’. When you can feel it and see it, only then can you see what ‘normal’ should look like. And a lot of people, regardless of gender, still don’t. Still don’t feel it, see it or seem to want to wake up to it.

I had a conversation with an early-30’s Pakistani male yesterday (let’s call him Man-Child, for convenience). I know him, he wasn’t just some random male I accosted and forced into conversation, I promise. In that conversation Man-Child began to describe why he feels so strongly about his current girlfriend. In his words “she’s a really GOOD girl, man. I mean, good. No messing around and shit. I mean she drinks, but that’s ok. See, man, other girls here; wow! I mean, one girl I was into tried taking  me into a bathroom to *insert vague allusion to some sexual act * at a party. I mean, a party where her brother was! That shit cray-cray, man! Girls doing that stuff? So I know; I’ve got to keep this girl, this Good Girl.”


Let’s just pause and deconstruct this little speech. Continue reading

21st Century Motherhood Conference



8th International Biennial Conference


July 13th – 16th, 2016, Melbourne, Australia

RMIT University, City Campus

This conference will explore, examine, critique, theorise and respond to key issues

related to how mothers negotiate competing demands in the twenty first century. The

conference is grounded in feminist theory – particularly Adrienne Rich’s account of

Motherhood as Patriarchal Institution and Mothering as Practice – and will explore

the ways through which cultural understandings and social practices continue to

impact mothers’ lives. The competing demands that mothers negotiate include but are

not limited to paid work and professional pursuits, unpaid work (including care-
work), creative activities, sporting commitments, online endeavours, volunteerism,

religious involvement, and personal relationships. Specific attention will be paid to

the current trend of outsourcing mothering to paid-carers and/ or grandparents. How

women negotiate such competing demands alongside their mothering roles, and the

impacts of such negotiations on a mother’s sense of self will also be explored.

Submissions are welcome from, but not limited to, scholars, students, activists,

community workers, bloggers, mothers, and others who research, work or are

interested in this area of scholarly and social activism.

If you are interested in being considered as a presenter,

Please send a 200-word abstract and a 50-word bio by the 5th of February 2016



Welcome to feminaust December 2015


Well it has come and gone, another December, another festive season, another New Years Eve. I had a super quiet one. Just me, my mate John and seven dogs. It was great, although exhausting and a bit stinky.

Anyway, onto what we were loving in December:

Did you hear what the Federal Government did in that dead period between Chrissy and New Year? Yeh. They made us start paying for pap smears. Lets tell them our cervixs (cervi?) are not a revenue raising opportunity for them.

Autostraddle reviews 6 disability friendly sex toys. Continue reading

Welcome to feminaust November!

Well behaved women rarely make history

So I’m a slack arse and haven’t posted anything since…I don’t even want to comment.

But I’m making an early new years resolution to make more of an effort (and simultaneously preparing for the fact that as of next year I’ll be spending half my week at a beach house on my own with my puppy and therefore should have more time to do things like post to my poorly neglected website). BREATHE.

Anyway, this is what I noticed happening this past month.

Annie Leibovitz shot the 2016 Pirelli Calendar and it has hardly any visible boobs!

Target Australia has real human women in it’s summer catalogue!

The big wigs of world politics are meeting in Paris at the moment to debate the future of the planet. How does gender equality and women’s empowerment intersect with climate change?

The “Gender Fairy” a new chapter in gender inclusive education for kids.

Clementine Ford informed an employer that their employee used misogynist language towards her on Facebook and he lost his job. WIN

The Australian Senate is running an inquiry into the forced sterilisation of women with disabilities. 

This Is The Culture.

Faces PosterI was 14, I was trying to catch the train home – I’d been to friends place after school. I had to walk through a group of guys who were sitting in the way: sprawled across the stairs at the train station. I thought I heard them talking about me as I walked, saying “her?”, “yes”. A couple of them started to get up, and called out. I felt gripped with fear as I ran down the stairs. They chased me but were slightly behind me. The train pulled into the station at that moment and I jumped on it.The doors closed before anyone of them could get on. I have no idea what they were planning to do.

I was 16 I was catching the train home in my school uniform and a man sitting across from me leant forward so that the tip of his erect penis came out the bottom of his shorts.

I was walking down the street in my school uniform, when a car slowed down next to me, rolling along while the guy in the drivers seat asked me where I lived. I thought I was going to be abducted.

I was 18. Young. When I first started going out. I was kissing a guy at a club. I was walking out when my friend grabbed me and said “you’re not leaving with him, I know this guy. He wont care that you’re a virgin, he wont care if you sayno, he’ll have sex with you anyway.” The fact that this was a genuine concern… is an indication of the culture we live in. Continue reading