The Down Under Feminists Carnival is here!

And I do mean literally here! Because this month I am pleased to be your host for the 21st Edition.

So let me pour you a cuppa (how do you take it?) and let’s enjoy this over high tea, shall we?

Well that’s January been and gone. What has happened in the last month?

It seems to have been a quiet month on the blogging front, what with the summer heat and rain and holidays and back to school and the myriad of other things going on this time of year, but there is still plenty to enjoy in terms of feminist writing.

The New Year has been seen in:

And we’ve been wished a Happy New Year! by Capitalism Bad; Tree Pretty. And there has been some farewells too, leading Queen Emily to question The legacies of trans-exclusive feminism at her post at Hoyden About Town.

There has been some great discussion about things relating to the domestic sphere – the home, house and family concerns.

Tansy Rayner Roberts has been Writing While The House is Messy at tansyrr.com.

Parenting is a perennial topic, and January saw discussion of the added complexities when the parenting is being done by a step-parent. Stepmum Of The Year wonders Rights? What rights should step parents have? and Stef at A Touch of the Crazy is inquiring Does stepparenting = step-mothering?

Meanwhile, Sophie at 2 B Sophora paints a poignant picture of One woman and her guard.

As usual with feisty feminist writers there has been some great posts relating to Race, Rights and Identity

A shiny new coin muses on taxes and toilets. Tigtog, at Hoyden About Town, looks at Complacency, Indifference and Intent (or lack thereof) in terms of the discussion around the attacks on Indian students. Chally makes it clear that Disability is not your analogy at Zero at the Bone, and she examines The Privileges and Pains of Passing. Stephiepenguin examines her racial identity and muses and it looks like… posted at 天高皇企鹅远.  In examining identity and insults girliejones wonders Do some insults hurt less?

January 23 was Blogging for Choice Day  – this year with the theme of ‘Trust Women’

Deborah – In a strange land,  asks that we  Trust women, and Tigtog was also Blogging for Choice,  at   Hoyden About Town.

In addition to trust, respect was also a bit of a reoccurring theme this month.

Chally reminds us of The importance of women’s friendships at Zero at the Bone.  Deborah In a strange land sends a Note to Mike Rann: the title is “Ms”. Pharaoh Katt asks that we respect children and their bodies and not  Name and Shame them at Something More Than Sides.

The disrespectful and denigrating of image of the older woman as the ‘cougar’ seems to be an increasing presence in popular culture and thankfully this is being critiqued.  Fuck Politeness writes of Karaoke and cougars. Julie at The Hand Mirror suggests that there has been Vileness, and a bit of irony, from Air NZ and she gives us More on Air NZ’s cougar rubbish. The Luddite Journo asks why Those damn cougars just won’t lie back and think of England ?

Posts pertaining to politics and activism.

Deborah at In a strange land gives us A fabulous resource for feminists, womanists, disabilism activists, equality activists. January’s been an interesting month politically and Rachel Hills at Musings of an Inappropriate Woman has Sex advice for my future children… inspired by Tony Abbott. At the frogblog,  Catherine Delahunty asks Will Cathy Taewa get answers from Paula and Nick?

Posts pertaining to Body image and Sexuality

The bad news, according to The Dawn Chorus, is that Female Ejaculation Doesn’t Exist.   Also, did you know that Jennifer Hawkins does ‘real beauty’ wrong – In case you hadn’t realised blue milk examines the fallout from ‘that’ magazine cover.

Posts pertaining to fashion and rape culture – unfortunately paired together because all you need to know about rape culture has been encapsulated on some men’s T-shirt

(trigger warnings for the links to the posts in this section)

Chally, writing at Feministe looks at the offending and offense shirts in Today in selling misogyny and LudditeJourno has learnt that from said fashion items that It’s not rape if you yell surprise. If that’s what being sold and worn does the existence of such Virtual realities: Sydney University’s “pro-rape” Facebook group surprise anyone? It doesn’t surprise Chloe  at Feministing.

The dismissal from court of a particular gang rape case has led to Emma Hart at Public Address fantasising about chocolate mousse aerosol cans so that we can get All Together Now.

The rules of consent still apply in a group sex situation. Which is why it also doesn’t help when, at the other end of the spectrum, people say that women can’t consent to group sex, or will only do so under social pressure, or maybe only think they do because they’re buying into a male viewpoint. Both viewpoints assume that group sex is always one woman and a group of men. Both remove the emphasis from whether the woman said yes or no – because how can I have the ability to say no unless I also have a meaningful ability to say yes?

Of course, someone has once again blamed Feminism for the rise of raunch culture, but the news with nipples has been writing about Feminism and dolls in order to set them straight.

Posts pertaining to the Media and Movies

Rachel Hills presents Sex & The City and the great (feminist?) quest for love at her blog Musings of an Inappropriate Woman.

Lauredhel gives us Arsevertising*: Will You Be Ready For Your First Time? posted at Hoyden About Town. And she also examines That Homebirth Study in South Australia that was blatantly misrepresented in the media, also at Hoyden About Town.

Tansy Rayner Roberts  at tansyrr.com gives us a review of The Princess and the Frog.

Miscellaneous Musings

Kiwi back in Sydney! gives us a lovely walk through the Melbourne: CERES Garden. Jo Tamar at Wallaby has been Talking about mansplaining…. While meganwegan at Craft is the New Black reflects on Honesty, Anarkaytie gives us a Follow-up to academic feminism to be found at Anarkaytie’s Weblog.

Writing and Sci Fi

girlie jones not only looks at  the latest in female presence in SF ToCs but she asks do You know what’s fun to read in the debate on gender disparity in SF? .

And to see the carnival off, Whileawaying invites us to a Book Launch!

Well, its been lovely hosting you. I hope that you’ve enjoyed the tea and the writing.

Next month the carnival will be at Fuck Politeness‘ place. And don’t forget to submit (see here) – your own posts and those of other down under feminists that you’ve enjoyed reading this February.

Compromise

This is the post where I give a review of the movie currently on high rotation in the DVD player and where I discuss some of the tricky aspects of being a feminist mother trying to raise her kids amidst a culture chock a block full of toxic, pernicious pornified *over-marketed crap.  So much of what is marketed at kids, at girls in particular, is not particularly healthy.  (While the vast majority of the stuff that is marketed as being for children is extremely gender bifurcated, I think that girls stuff can tend to be worse because there’s a sexual/sexualised element tendency in girls toys –  such as these dolls).

A very good friend of mine lent me this movie for my five year old girl to watch, she also wanted to know what I thought of it.  She had purchased in a fit of desperation, in a search for something, anything, that her girls would like that wasn’t princesses.  She was fed up with Princesses.  She just wanted something where the role of the protagonist involved something more than securing her prince.  And that how she ended up with Disney’s latest offering, Tinkerbell.  In comparison to what her girls had been watching, she loved it.  “Tinkerbell’s a Tinker!  She has a trade! She does something, she works with her hands! Here! Watch it!  Kindergarten Girl will love it! You’ll love it! It’s great!”

Indeed, Kindergarten Girl does love it.  The way her face glowed when the movie started was beautiful to behold.  Her eyes lit up as the music started, when there’s that castle with the starry backdrop.  Disney does do magic sooo well.  And yes it is a lovely movie.  The characters are sassy, funny, and erudite ( one even uses the word ‘elucidate’ ).  The music is beautiful and the animation gorgeous.  No princes in sight.  The plot revolves about the ‘being happy with who you are’ bit that seems all the rage in kids/teens movies these days (although in this case, like an awful lot of movies, the character learning self acceptance just happens to be the best at some particular thing and ends up the hero of the day – does this message help us mere mortals learn self acceptance I wonder?)

I do like it, but of course I have, shall I say, reservations about the movie.  I am not enamoured of Tinkerbell’s sexy, svelte look.  Big eyes, hips and curvy figure encased in a short dress.  In fact, the scene where she gives herself a make-over and emerges in her green outfit to have one of her male friends be so dazzled by her look that he fails to recognise her, and her other male friend has his glasses pop out in shock, is my least favourite.  Is it really necessary to fixate on her appearance?  The other aspect of the movie that doesn’t grab me, is the plot device that revolves around the jealous, bitchy character.  To my mind, its stereotypical teenage behaviour being modelled to little girls.  I don’t know, maybe I’m just being picky, as there is lots to like about the movie, especially the knowing references to the Peter Pan story.

That’s the thing with these movies, they are being marketed on two levels.  On the one hand they are designed to be appealing to kids.  On the other hand, they are designed to be enjoyed by adults also. If the adults enjoy a movie, they are much more likely to let the kids watch it, over and over, and over and over again.  If I don’t like a movie, I’m much more likely to try and convince suggest to my kids that they might like to watch something else.  So kids movies, and especially Disney’s, are full of adult jokes and sophisticated humour just so us parents will be willing accomplices in our kids obsessions.  And a whole world of merchandising purchase potential is opened up.

So compromise.  That’s what I do.  I let my kids watch stuff I have misgivings about for two reasons.  One, they are their own persons, their own little selves and I can’t control their personalities and tastes (of course I do try to rein in the unacceptable impulses that young kids are want to have, but overall I’m an influence not a dictator  – and I’ll not exposure them to stuff that I think is entirely inappropriate).  Two, I feel that I’m trying to strike that balance, the middle ground, where they are aware of the pop culture stuff around them  but not too embroiled in all of it.  I am attempting to rise environmentally aware kids, with a feminist conscience.  So, for me, that means trying not be sucked into consumeristic materialism but at the same time letting them explore their interests and follow where their imagination leads them.

* It is not the princess stuff, per se, that I object to, its the RELENTLESS marketing of ubiquitious products peddling a dubious version of compulsory femininity.  From here “Playing princess is not the issue,” argues Lyn Mikel Brown, an author, with Sharon Lamb, of “Packaging Girlhood: Rescuing Our Daughters From Marketers’ Schemes.” “The issue is 25,000 Princess products,” says Brown, a professor of education and human development at Colby College. “When one thing is so dominant, then it’s no longer a choice: it’s a mandate, cannibalizing all other forms of play. There’s the illusion of more choices out there for girls, but if you look around, you’ll see their choices are steadily narrowing.”

Happy International Women’s Day

It would be a happy day indeed if we no longer needed an International Women’s Day, but alas, much misogyny/violence/discrimination abounds.   This year the theme of IWD is Women and men united to end violence against women and girls.  Here’s some tip of the iceberg stuff topical for IWD, I’ll start locally and go international.

From the ABC:

Unions are highlighting pay differences between the sexes ahead of International Women’s Day.  The ACTU says Australian women on average earn 16 per cent less than men, but that it varies between states.  ACTU president Sharon Burrow says Victorian women earn 14 per cent less than men, while in Western Australia women earn 28 per cent less because of the mining boom.  Ms Burrow says the gap will widen as the economic slowdown continues.  “We’re seeing women, young people simply being told their hours are being cut or in fact they’re not required anymore,” she said.  “That will simply add to the income disparity for women – we’re very concerned that the pay gap will simply widen as a result of the global financial crisis.”

The Catholic Church continues a grand tradition of misogynistic legality.

Brazil’s influential Catholic Church raged against an abortion carried out on a nine-year-old girl who had been pregnant with twins after allegedly being raped by her stepfather.  An archbishop for the northern region where the termination was conducted, Father Jose Cardoso Sobrinho, said the church was excommunicating all those responsible for the abortion: the medical team and the girl’s mother.  The operation – carried out because of doctors’ fears the slender girl might die if she carried the foetuses to term – was a crime in the eyes of the church, he said.  “God’s law is above any human law. So when a human law… is contrary to God’s law, this human law has no value,” [said] archbishop Cardoso.  “The adults who approved, who carried out this abortion, will be excommunicated,” said the archbishop for the Recife region.

And, of course, the Vatican backs the Bishop.  Now might be the time to announce that there goes the lasting lingering threat of my Catholicism.  Where is the compassion for the poor girl who could have died if she carried the twins to term?  Where is the excommunication/denunciation of the creep who raped and abused her?  God didn’t cause this pregnancy her stepfather did and the pontificating judgment should be directed at him and not at those trying to save the girl’s life.

Iraqi women lack basic services and widows, in particular, have no support

In Indian women are campaigning against the violence and patriarchal control aimed at them.

Poster from Pink Chaddis campaign seeking to end mob violence against women

Poster from 'Pink Chaddis' campaign seeking to end mob violence against women

From the horrific to the ridiculous –  from here, I discover that there is a 75 000 strong petition on facebook to get pole dancing included as an Olympic sport for the 2012 games.  FFS.

In other news, and this is trivial in comparison to what the women in countries such as Indian and Iraq are facing, but Barbie turns fifty tomorrow, and still looks as young and perky as ever.  Thus we see (and remember we are barely scratching the surface here) a continuum of issues faced by women, running the gamut from economic disadvantage, to intense struggle for survival and to live unmolested, right through to ideological struggles against a culture that emphasises women’s passive and ornamental sexuality at the expense of all else.  *sigh*

A quick note on the sexualisation of children issue

For a long time now I have been worried about the sexualisation of children that seems to be happening increasingly in our society. Now when I refer the the ‘sexualisation of children’ I am not talking about their own development of sexuality and sensuality. What I am refering to is the commodification of children’s sexuality. I object to marketing which uses sexualised images of children, I object to inappropriate things of a sexual nature being marketed at children and stuff that reinforces the message implicit in our culture that your value as a person in bound up in how sexy you are perceived to be.

In the week that the Senate report on the sexualisation of children has come out I found this awesome post on the same topic by bluemilk (every now and then you find a post that you wish that you had written, well this is one of those posts for me, well worth reading and pondering). Bluemilk discusses the reasons why parents feel powerless in the rising tide of sexualised stuff being marketed at tots and why parental blame is not the most helpful approach.

The full report of the Senate’s inquiry into The Sexualisation of Children in the Contemporary Media can be found here.

The shorter version, that is the Senate inquiry’s recommendations can be found here.