I’m a ‘little p’ politic, short and stout

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I call myself a ‘little p’ feminist not to be darling but because to me it’s a thing. Based on research into the works of those who came before, my notion of what is political draws from the slogan ‘the personal is political’.

The branding ‘little p’ feminist is different from how the term politics is used in its formal sense ‘officials doing official business in official places’ and deliberately so. I say it to re-position politics where it belongs for me, which is in the personal sphere.

The slogan ‘the personal is political’ refers to the belief that every aspect of a woman’s private life is affected by and can itself affect the political situation. With the rise of second wave feminism in the late 60s, women began to recognise common problems and experiences and used these insights to challenge existing ways of understanding the world. Popular uptake was such ‘the personal is political’ became the mantra of second wave Western feminism, which extended from the late 60s through to the late 80s. However the idea retains an important place in feminist contemporary thought (Hashim 2002).

Women’s concerns and interests have long been devalued and marginalised in the public sphere (Lovheim 2012). An important ideology here is the patriarchal notion of the private/public sphere dichotomy as it is associated with male/female (Harp & Tremayne 2006). Broadly speaking, this is the idea that woman are responsible for, best suited to, and belong within the private sphere of life (the domestic sphere of home, family, private relations and sexual reproduction). Whereas the public sphere (a place men inhabit and women desire to belong to), consists of the working world, politics, economics, the law and mainstream discourse).

The historical influence of the public/private boundary on gendered identities, however simple, continues to have an impact on women’s lives and potential (Harp & Tremayne 2006). Sadly this gender divide is also reflected in the stats. Currently only three per cent of CEOs of top Australian companies are women – one of the lowest rated in the Western world. With a national pay gap of 17 per cent the number of female executive managers has also declined by 18 per cent since 2006. Rubbish results!

As regular person, with limited political sway, blogging gives me a way to participate in the conversation about gender inequality. Feminism has shown there is no easy separation between individual experience and political perspective and blogging highlights this connection. The personal style of production, combined with the public style of display, reduces boundaries between private and public. And it is here, according to Australian theorist Melissa Gregg, that blogging reveals its ‘unique capacity to reflect experiences that have been trivialized, denigrated or ignored in the past’ (2007).

Blogging my truth, from the stated position of feminist with a ‘small p politic’ is my way to agree, as loudly as I can, the personal is political. To be political in this sense is separate from effect. These are the three-steps of my politicking. Join me, albeit with teensy weensy impact, and politicise your personal:

1. Produce a blog formed from personal experiences and reflections in a way said to be typical of women bloggers,

2. Insodoing deliberately relegate self to the private sphere of the public/private dichotomy

3. Publish your blog post that, with just one click, your private/domestic space is immediately and also rendered a public/political space.

Et voilà! Tip me over, pour me out.

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On comms

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Autocorrect is white collar colonialism. Long sentences can be passive aggressive. Use ‘different from’ and never be wrong. Including a compliment with a product/service makes you quite mad. First drafts have an accuracy entitlement. Excel without colour-blocking is nudist. The generic pronoun for an organisation is ‘it’. The collective noun for Gen Y is swoop; you’re welcome. Comic sans is sans comedy. The exclamation mark is punctuation’s folliculitis: easy to pick up, hard to get rid of. And I’d know! Stationery does not stop. Like Coke Zero, Gill Sans MT is gendered. Slacks may only be worn by people suffering chronic fatigue. Blue is for correction, lead is for query and red is for women who wear zany accessories.

Dontcha… Dontcha…

All woman

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It took me ages to become a woman. Through my 20s and early 30s I’d hear females, my age and younger, describe themselves breezily as women and I’d be dazzled. We are technically adults at 18 but bah! I wasn’t and couldn’t be hurried. For the longest time I referred to myself as a chick because I wanted a word between girl and woman.

The woman thing made more sense after I read some Woolf “one is not born but becomes a woman”. In this I read I’d be one when I got there. I would make of myself some account by speaking after I’d accrued some things to say. In all fairness I think this stands for men too but having never been one, I’d not know.

Obvs I was socially there a long time before I arrived but when ‘women’ did fit me, I sat down and wrote a little list. My qualifiers were solemn as well as silly because that’s how I think.
1. Sarcasm is a choice not a reflex
2. My job is not my career
3. Hurt people hurt people
4. Domestic hygiene is a relationship deal breaker
5. Hair is not
6. Sport, meh
7. Diet coke is not a food group
8. My imagination is a resource not a refuge
9. I buy new bras before they become unmanageable
10. I spotted a handsome boy on the tube/tram and hoped he has something warmer than that to wear
11. The hot chip is the culinary pinnacle of human achievement: fact
12. The male gaze… does not define me
13. I’ll never be good at drinking no matter how much I practise
14. I accept Simon Le Bon’s decision to marry Yasmin
15. In 1986.
16. I am not my weight
17. The majority of my conversations happen
18. I have a death stare.
I wondered about my construct and what assumptions I’d hid in its coding. How I had come to them. Then my Mum said something and it clicked…

I was moving and Mum had come to stay to help me. On night two she tried to cook dinner. No easy task in a kitchen-mine. I don’t cook, I arrange. Having managed to cobble something together from a saucepan and its lid, Chef Mumsie was stymied by my lack of ‘stuff’ to serve it on. I own plates and things, a mixing bowl and some desultory Tuppaware but no fancy platter, tureen, pitcher, boat, ceramic vessel or casserole thingie, egads!

‘Oh Daughter’ Mama cried crossly, ‘You don’t live here, you camp here!’

Boom. Arm doors and cross check. That was it! I realized that in my mind I had got to a place where being a woman meant owning two sets of things; the everyday and posh. Be it knickers, cutlery or children, in my making of woman, I had downloaded my mother.

It was ever thus.

On writing

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Kitchen-sinking a noun-verb transfer rulz 4 eva. Arial narrow is urgent but I don’t care. Leveraging is a terrible thing. Always. To boldly go into a dangling modifier is just fine. Clip art is for bad people. Analysis is not something that goes around something; a scarf is something that goes around something. Century Gothic uses the least ink. Prosaic is the saddest word in the language. If the cleaner is not capped then neither is the captain. Dot points are not bullets and neither do they require semi colons. Don’t let a lawyer proofread. An ellipsis is a beautiful thing… use more. Death by PowerPoint is an offense. Note-taking in fewer than three colours is agricultural. A margin represented by a flower on a long wiggly stem signifies work of genius. A fool and his misplaced apostrophes will soon be out-smarted. Caps lock is FUNNY. Underlining is not.

The Voice.

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ZOMG! What is going on with this show? It’s absolutely massive. It’s a one-in-seven Aussies tuning-in smash hit. A behemoth. A juggernaut. A manifesto! But why? Why so much bigger than the others?

For me, The Voice is fascinating because it reflects an image of who we think we are. It is our story, manifest. It captures so very much of what we, as Aussies and as digitalized world citizens believe, understand and hope.

The reality TV format mimics production systems from mainstream media. What makes, for me at least, reality TV interesting is that it co-opts those systems to create celebrities out of folk who do not typify stardom as we know it. The Voice works this way; it uses reality TV to create pop stars out of ordinary people who would not ordinarily, pop.

All of this is probably only important if you are interested anyway. And I am. I think The Voice is fascinating. I think the music industry is fascinating. And I think celebrity is fascinating. From a feminist perspective I have heard it said and believe to be true that ‘fame has replaced romance as the dominant female fantasy’. Now, as far as I am concerned, that’s bloody MASSIVE!

Having thought about it a bit (OK a lot!) my theory goes something like this. The success of The Voice rests on three basic principles:
• It appeals to our ego in that we are each an arbiter of ‘true’ talent
• It appeals to our hope that society is merit based and talent attracts reward regardless of privilege
• It fits our sporting paradigm in which we barrack like loons for our faves.

We are all in A&R
The Voice invests us with personal power. Its choose-your-own-star format credits each of us with the ‘knowing’ of a taste-maker. Now we all work in A&R and the zing shifts from the audience’s passive consumption of what they deem great to what we deem it.

Talent vs. privilege
My favourite point in the show so far was the fact the first contestant, THE FIRST, uniquely and definitely not TV ‘hot’ and dressed as a giant strawberry, wooed us with a voice that could only properly be described as beautiful. That. Right there. A different sort of gorgeous holding her own on national TV. Casey Withooos was so far out of the narrow bandwidth of what’s considered attractive on TV as to be intergalactic. Not a very usual kick-off for Channel 9. But one that hooked me from the get-go.

The talent vs. privilege is a big part of what makes this show work and it is most obvious with the chair spinning thing. Talent before privilege. Casey… she’s big! Karise… she’s poor! Rachel… she’s blind! It’s not how things work on telly and for that, we like it all the more. In all of us is the hope that the extraordinary will shine through.

Two things
Two things I really like about the show are that a) the judges are properly qualified b) there is no use of montage of people failing at their auditions. Clearly a decision. No humiliation. No crappy ‘ha-ha they’re deluded’ fail montage. No mean screen-fill. Just people singing for us. Nice.

Prognosis
Not sure. Casey Donavan anyone? I am not sure the winning of a record contract with Universal Australia is an actual proper prize. Perhaps once, but now? Hard days for that sort of malarkey. I don’t mean to be a downer but it would be silly to think otherwise. I think for me this story is a TV one and, unless Karise wins, I am not so sure I’ll be quite so interested after the show ends. But bugger that. It’s on and I’m in. Up for it. Me and most of my mates. The Monday night ABC TV diaspora is GO!

Duran Duran 4 eva

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Duran Duran will play at the opening of the 2012 London Olympics *squeeee!*. I am gonna stay up ALL NIGHT to see them. It’ll be Live Aid all over again. Except I will be 40 years old. Samantha and Megan are invited. We’re going to watch ‘Sing Blue Silver’ after.

The line-up for the BT London Live Olympic opening ceremony celebration concert on Friday July 27 has been confirmed.

As the games kick off in the east of the capital bands representing the four home nations Snow Patrol (Northern Ireland), Paolo Nutini (Scotland), Duran Duran (England) and Stereophonics (Wales) will play the huge gig in Hyde Park.

They will all play greatest hits sets in front of 60,000 fans.

Blur have already been confirmed to play another huge Hyde Park concert on August 12 as part of the sporting event’s closing ceremony celebrations.

http://www.duranduran.com/wordpress/2012/the-olympic-games-will-be-a-brit-classy/

Feminism and me

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I describe myself, a little reluctantly, as a feminist. I am reluctant because, as a newcomer, I’m sometimes not sure I want to qualify.

There was a particular moment for me, when I realized I harbour feminist tendencies… a colleague made a point that related directly to the glass ceiling and another (also female) immediately shot back the accusation of feminism. This caused the point-maker to recoil, as if smote. And in that moment I recognized myself and everything changed. I was able, for the first time, to separate myself from the fearful accusation of feminism and find my place as an supporter.

In my quest to find my own feminism, I happily read Caitlin Moran’s ‘How To Be A Woman’ and was relieved to read how broadly her net is cast. In Caitlin’s world, everyone is welcome. And because of this, she became (and remains) my point of departure.

As a feminist I am highly imperfect. I commit crimes against feminism, sometimes inadvertently or through habit, where I create realities in which the struggle to continue sexist oppression is apparent, all the time! What has changed now, is that I know I am not alone.

The phenomenon of women refusing the label is hardly new, but in my experience this disconnect does not necessarily reflect reality. Feminism is tangled in a contradiction: its name has become daggy but its central tenet of equal rights and equality is anything but. I live in that space. And that, combined with my fears and truths and transgressions, is why I am unsure of my qualifications.

The angle of feminist debate about which I am most certain I subscribe, is best expressed by Susan Douglas (Enlightened Sexism) who believes we have reached a state in which being decorative is the highest form of power available to women. This is a state which insists “now women have it all they should focus on being hot”. Yep. THAT I believe.

My goal is to find my own feminism, one that fits me but stretches my heart. One in which I am me, perhaps slightly better, but still me. One that allows me to move past the dread- fear of being too big, too loud, too hairy. A feminism in which I address my fear of becoming strident or, God forbid, smug! Says Woolf, “one is not born but becomes a woman…” How? By making of oneself some account by speaking…

FYI here is some reasons why I think I am a probably crap feminist:
• I feel compelled to explain why I am a probably crap feminist
• I only know ‘The Greatest Hits of Feminism’ rather than the back catalogue
• based on my experience as a woman whose weight has yo-yoed over the years, at the behest of good times and bad, I believe size and shape does matter *
• I don’t agree it should but I can’t pretend it’s not my truth
• I am a dreadful piker and sometimes the thought of going out can reduce me to a cold sweat
• I mention this because I imagine true feminists to be terrifically community minded. You know, joiners. Always showing up with organic salads to share and days to spare for family and friends in need. I am not like that at all. Bad feminist!
• I don’t go outside much. I’m more an indoors kinda gal. I don’t know if this affects my feminist rating but I mention it just in case
• Finally…
• When it comes it news/current affairs/geography/action films I find it hard to retain key facts
• But I’m fit to burst with trivia about music, film, style and beauty. Bad feminist!

*the actions I try to take against thin-think include: I do not weigh myself. I do not diet. I do not participate ‘I’m so fat’ bonding. I do not concern troll the weight loss of others. I do not entrap my boyfriend into answering closed questions about my appearance. I do not make body-centric comments, out loud, But old habits die hard and I sometimes do all of the above.

Time (it’s not very fast).

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Time flies. They say. Yeah? I do not reckon. Perhaps my sense of time is slow like my thyroid because it seems to me time takes ages. Five minutes can go for hours. I think I did too much dieting in the 90s (the most SUREFIRE way to slow down time), because I swear the noughties were one thousand years ago.  I have never felt time is quick. I mean, dates go past fast, sure, but not time. Is this a claim to optimism? I hope it’s a good thing. Does anyone else feel this way too?