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Media for Men?

Hannah Smith is the Women’s Officer at the University of Sydney and the NSW Women’s Officer for NUS.
She studies Government and IR and Gender Studies and as a result is known to use too much Foucault and Connell in everyday conversations.She likes to claim that her lack of cooking skills is in fact a result of her commitment to the feminist cause… but it’s really not.
On May 11th, Julia Gillard spoke about the threat of an Abbott Government for Australian Women at the “Women for Gillard” launch at Trades Hall in Sussex Street, Sydney. What transpired in the media in the days to follow was the most tremendous farce of partiality and journalistic integrity I have seen in my life thus far.Among the articles written about the event, many critcised Julia for playing the “gender card” or the “abortion card”, others criticised her joke about men in blue ties, one telegraph article was outraged that many of the women involved in the event were already labor party members. One of Bolt’s readers accused Gillard of “gender apartheid” and “reverse sexism”. Sunrise- hard-hitting as always- ran a panel segment on the event, featuring David “breastfeeding is gross” Koch and Alan “died of shame” Jones.

First things first, what the hell is a ‘gender card’? Do people really believe Julia Gillard mentioned the threats to abortion rights under an Abbott government to rouse up sympathy from voters? Abortion has never been a vote winner and there is a possibility that Gillard mentioned abortion because it is an important womens issue, and she was at a women’s event. maybe. And can someone please tell me how a complex and vast spectrum of movements, issues, groups and individuals like the women’s movement could be contracted and defined merely as a ‘card’ to be played to win votes?

But really though, Gender Apartheid? A women’s event is Gender apartheid? That these sorts of comments go by unnoticed is a testament to the undeniable right-wing bias of Australian media outlets. Even Fairfax, who are supposed to be at least somewhat more balanced and fair, called the event an ‘act of a desperate prime minister’.

In a case of bittersweet irony, the very next day, a menu from a liberal party fundraiser was released that poked fun at the Prime Minister’s body type. What more justifcation did we need for a ‘women for gillard’ campaign? a lot apparently. Still today, media outlets bemoan the politically motivated and desperate attempts of the “Women for Gillard” campaign.

I am proud of our Prime Minister. I believe she has worked for Australia consistently and competently, despite the disgusting misogyny levelled against her. I don’t believe that the “Women for Gillard” campaign is a desperate political act- I believe it is a natural next step from a woman and her government who have delivered many historical reforms for the women of Australia. I remember seeing Gillard speak at the UN Women International Women’s Day breakfast earlier this year, where she declared that “If the women’s movement has changed only one life- it’s worth it”.

Australia’s media should be ashamed of their central role in unfairly besmirching the work of a Prime Minister and I hope that all those women out there who are for Gillard stand up and make their voices heard before September 14.

Hannah Smith
University of Sydney Women’s Officer

It’s time! For more women in Government


Politics for to long has been viewed as a ‘men’s game’, but it shouldn’t be. Politicians are our representatives and make decisions on our behalf, they decide how to run our country, what sort of things we need to do, what our money should be spent on, what laws need to be in place to protect us and what needs to be done to support us. So why should half the population be cut out of the discussions that make these decisions. The answer obviously is they shouldn’t,  you need to have a well rounded group of people figuring out what needs to be done now, what can wait and what doesn’t need to be done. You can see by looking at the gender break down of our parliaments that women are still being overlooked, but how do you fix this?

You can have affirmative action and quotas which have both been proved to increase the number of women participating in the decision making process. But I feel that this is almost treating the symptoms of the problems but not the cause- the cause being there is obviously a systemic problem that is preventing women from engaging in preselection processes and managing to get elected.



A study in the US has shown that young men are twice as likely at having considered running for office many times than young women.  While 63% of young women and 43% of young men had never considered a career as an elected official. This is where the problem becomes evident.  What is it that is making young women not consider the idea of running? Particularly when American youth have gender parity in political participation.

Is it that the life of a politician is not overly enticing for young women?

There have been points made before that being an MP is not a desirable job when raising a family and our society still expects that the mother will take a primary role in raising the child as well as leading the charge on the domestic duties due to the large work load, erratic hours, travel and unpredictability.

There is also a legitimate argument to be made that the ‘boys club’ simply does not include women enough for them to rise through the ranks and take on a preselection in winnable seats.

New ideas are coming out saying that as young men grow up they are more likely to have been encouraged to engage in the political process and consider a career as a politician than young women. Which from a young age could incredibly impact on a young persons decision.

Or is it simply that the rusted on old men that have been kicking around since almost the dawn of time are more comfortable with the know, the way things are and its easier for them to train and promote men rather than women.

The same study also said among young men and women who didn’t feel as they’d be qualified to run for election after becoming established in their careers, 23% of young men and 15% of young women still considered the idea of putting their name on a ballot anyway. Which shows that there is something that is making our young women feel unqualified and therefore decide not to run where as young men decide they can simply wing it.

Other studies have shown that women wouldn’t consider running if they had less than a 20% chance of winning where as the odds did not affect whether a man would run or not. Meaning long shot elections favour men because women wont run.

Quentin Bryce is Australia's first female governor-general.And the age old argument that you want to be what you can see could also be playing a part, which I almost hope is the biggest reason for us not having gender parity in our parliaments because we will soon be seeing the first group of young women who the first or second Prime Minister they remember was a woman as well as many of the senior ministers so the idea of a women being powerful in Canberra or in our states wont be this new crazy idea. It will be what they are used to and can view themselves doing.

While I know AA is not fixing the root of the issue directly it is an attempt to deal with the problem and it is working, because of AA we have more women in parliament than ever before and hopefully they can inspire and encourage  young women but also work to fix the barriers that are preventing women form engaging at a more senior level.

I am lucky enough to have had some amazing role models through student politics, party politics and through politics in general who have inspired me to strive and fight and not take no for an answer or let any of the boys push me around and for that I am more grateful than I can express and I can only hope that soon my experience of have political women as role models will be the norm and evey young woman will have these people to look up to.


You can find the study(Girls just want to not run) here

You can find a video talking about the gender political ambition gap  and girls just want to not run here

Mikaela Wangmann

National Womens Officer 2013 

Bonus, Box, or Benefits?


In my stumbling around the internet I came across an article that explained the ‘baby box’ offered in Finland. It is claimed to be the policy that has helped Finland dramatically reduce their infant fatality rates.

The box which is offered to all mothers who go to prenatal care in the first four months of their pregnancy are provided with the box which can double as a crib and has all of the necessities for when you take your baby home. What has been provided in the box has changed since its introduction but currently it includes a mattress in the bottom of the box (so it can be used as a crib), nappies, clothes(in ‘unisex colours and patterns’), bra pads, snow suits, hats, mittens, booties, towels, wash cloths, nail scissors, toothbrush, hair brush, nappy cream, teething toys, a picture book, sheets, sleeping bag and blankets. Dummies and bottles have been removed to promote breast-feeding and they have returned to cloth nappies for environmental reasons. The box that is trying to ensure that no mater what the child’s family’s financial position is like they all have the same, equal start to life seems to be a huge hit in Finland. It has become a right of passage when you are having a child to get the box, which for many is the first tangible thing they have for their child.


The benefits of the policy surrounding this baby box aren’t just what the mother is pulling out of the box but the fact that it has ensured that women are receiving the pre natal care that they require, by having it so that to get the box a pregnant woman must access prenatal care in the first four months of the pregnancy have ensured that any problems are picked up early and can be cared and planned for.  While the box is available for free to the women by the government they have to choose whether or not to get the box or some money to help pay for the things the child will need the over whelming response is to take the box rather than the cash.

Which has be thinking, with the federal government removing the baby bonus in favor of family tax benefits could introducing a box like the one they have in Finland be a viable policy option?

You could provided expectant mothers who are accessing prenatal care an option of taking a baby box which provides many of the necessities for the babies first few weeks or access to additional family tax benefits. I think that an introduction of a baby box could be a great start to helping a generation of children have an equal start out in life.

You can find our more about the Baby Box here

You can find our more  about the change in baby bonus and family tax benefits here and here

Mikaela Wangmann

National Womens Officer 2013

Sport of Gentlemen, and Women.


236148-canberra-unitedSo I just finished my glass of wine to celebrate New South Wales winning the first game of the State of Origin and it has me thinking; the packed stadium, the great athletes, the huge pay checks and sponsorship deals and the fact that this kind of thing only happens with men’s sport. There is actually no Womens sports events that compare to the scale of the State of Origin, and I do not accept the premise that there are no women in any sport that are as good as the men who play rugby.


I also have been known to enjoy the odd soccer game in my time as well. I’ve been to A league games and been amazed at the number of people who attend the games, even though soccer is not a sport that has always had huge followings in Australia. But I also watch the W league, which my first gripe starts with the fact that the Men’s football league is called the A, and the women’s the W. While the Womens games are played at small local size fields. But it doesn’t end there the male players are paid well enough that it is their career and the women hold down other jobs or study at University because they aren’t paid enough for it to be their living.


My hometown of Broken Hill a few years ago started a women’s AFL league and it has been a huge success, they have several teams and it is quite competitive. Although it reminded me of when I was younger and still living there where I played cricket until I was twelve and I was told I couldn’t play on the boys team anymore and that there was no women’s hard ball team. I was really unhappy about the fact that I was pushed out of the team that I had played in for several years simply because I was a girl.


While I was reminiscing over my dabble in sports and contemplating how crappy it is that women athletes are still overlooked I came to a realization and that is that women’s sports are at the stage that men’s sports were in the 70’s. Back when AFL players were garbage men so they could stay fit, and cricketers were all poor because they had to take three months off every year to travel. I have to admit I have my moments of enjoying watching the big games, when the State of Origin rolls around (and this year I can watch the blues win for the first time in years) and when Melbourne Victory play Adelaide United and I can hassle United supporters. I also have made an effort to watch women’s sports, I really can get around Canberra United they are a great team, and the Adelaide Thunderbirds who I am tipping to win this year. However you know I actually really enjoy watching the women’s leagues, they are great athletes and when they are paid on par with male athletes they will only get better because they will have more time to put into the game.


So I am happy that the gap is closing and sure that the gap will completely close shortly. I can only hope that it doesn’t take as long for women to be paid enough to make a decent career out of it as it did for men.


Mikaela Wangmann

National Women’s Officer 2013

NOWSA 2013




Amy is in her second year as one of the Wom*n’s Officers at the University of Melbourne Student Union and a former NUS State Branch Women’s Officer. 

An Arts student majoring in Spanish & criminology, contrary to her parents’ concern, she does not intend to work in a Mexican prison upon graduating (though, really, a job would be great. Anywhere. Preferably not earning 83c to every dollar a dude earns.)

She’s a feminist who is frequently angry, but not an “angry feminist” per se, and should probably stop saying “yolo” when changing lanes because her passengers find it quite disconcerting.

So NOWSA is coming up.


NOWSA- the Network of Women Students Australia- is a conference that happens every July that is open to all students who identify or have experienced oppression as women.

It’s in the same month as NUS’ Education Conference (“EdCon”- Adelaide – July 10-12), Queer Collaborations (“QC”-  Sydney – July 8-14) and Students of Sustainability (“SoS”, Launceston July 4-9). July is chockablock with activism, probably because winter’s the best time to let the fire rage within you (and also it’s when we don’t have class and aren’t going to the beach). They’re always organised by student collectives, have groups of students who are passionate about the same stuff and often have different ideas about how to get it done. It means a trip away, a free t-shirt, a bar tab at times, meeting awesome people and talking about stuff that interests you and learning heaps about stuff you didn’t even realise there was to know. Call me a hack, but I freaking love conferences.


So I’m really excited to be organising NOWSA this year with my co-Wom*n’s Officer Mercedes and our collective. That is, when I’m not losing my shit about spreadsheets (n.b. without spreadsheets there is chaos, I have a lot of feelings about this.)


NOWSA is an opportunity for networking and skills-sharing among women grassroots student activists. Even though activists look dramatically different now to which ever “heyday” we’re told was around before us; meeting other women, sharing stories, having debates and planning campaigns in person are still important.


The feminist movement, and the student movement, can get really caught up in semantics and feels. For the most part, talking about experiences, interrogating privilege, and addressing problematic language is really important on an academic and emotional level. Questioning the status quo, not being silent about our own oppression or that of others, are feminist acts. Radical acts.

But we are disempowered if we spend a week talking about eating disorders and sexual assault without taking the next step and skilling ourselves up to be activists and empowered individuals. Always thinking about the problems can be exhausting; you can become catatonic with caring and give up because it’s all too hard so why bother.

It’s also worth thinking about how much of a privilege it is to sit around for a week talking about how fucked everything is and not do anything about it.


So the focus of this year’s NOWSA is practical activist skills, because we all know what the problem we’re talking about is: patriarchy. So how are we going to smash it?


In the mornings we will have seriously impressive women as key note speakers, and in the afternoons workshops including but not at all limited to: event organising (like flashmobs and rallies), financial planning for independence, creative writing and subversive theatre, Blue Stocking Week, Muslim Feminism, (Dis)ability and Sexuality, Intersectionality, Experiences of Iranian Women Postgrads, How to be a Good Trans* Ally, How to be a Supportive Friend in a Crisis (mainly focusing on sexual assault), How to Plan a Campaign, How to critically engage with media, how to use the media for your campaigning, and heaps of stuff about unionism and your rights at work.


NOWSA will be a four-day conference, with a theme for each day:

Women & SocietyWomen & Wellbeing, Women in Culture/Media & Women in the Workplace.


We’re updating the website as speakers confirm:

If you want to run a workshops or know of someone you think would be great please get in contact with


On the final day (Thursday July 18) there will be a conference floor where resolutions will be passed for NOWSA 2014. There will be an opportunity for campus collectives to bid to host the next NOWSA and voted on by conference floor. (If noone bids NOWSA doesn’t happen again. Just sayin’)


So come, it’ll be great. Check out the website for more info and email with any questions.


Registrations are now open:


In sisterhood,


Amy Jenkins.

University of Melbourne Student Union Wom*n’s Officer 2013



Your Group of 8 law degree: now featuring rape culture


Trigger warning for discussions of rape and sexual assault.



 Louise hails from Queensland and Studies at the University of Queensland. She is the NUS Queensland State Environment Officer. She is a collector of tee-shirts and missing memories. However she is yet to learn how to vacate a shopping trolley without falling over. 

My law lecturer made a rape joke while delivering a lecture to hundreds of students. Most of the
students laughed. That concerned me. But, I was equally concerned about the statistical certainty
that some of the students who laughed must have themselves been survivors of sexual assault.
When a well-respected professor from a sandstone university jokes about rape, he sends the
message that rape is a laughing matter. His voice is more powerful than most. His job is to teach us
about legal and ethical standards. By virtue of his position as a legal academic and student mentor,
this man had a responsibility to counteract rape culture, not perpetuate it.

My lecturer might not realise it, but his ‘joke’ has serious consequences. If rape is a laughing matter,
then committing rape is not serious. If rape is a laughing matter, then it is not worth reporting.
Thoughtless one-liners entrench frightening attitudes as easily as they win cheap laughs.

Statistics from this department’s Talk About It survey indicate that 1 in 10 respondents experienced
sexual assault while at university. The survey also found that, while 92% of respondents felt safe
on campus during the day, the number who felt safe on campus at night decreased to 24%. At my
university, the main campus is huge and surrounded by the Brisbane River, residential colleges,
and expanses of playing fields. In addition, there is a lack of security guards and the major bus and
ferry stops are on the edge of campus, surrounded by forested areas. It’s not difficult to understand
why students feel unsafe on campus at night. There’s absolutely no reason for the classroom to be
another unsafe space.

Aside from disgusting jokes, this course came with a trigger warning (of sorts). The lecturer warned
us that we’d be studying serious offences, such as sexual crimes and murder, in graphic detail. It
was impossible to pass the course without covering that content. He warned us, but no further
consideration was given to the matter. Students had the choice to sit through potentially triggering
lectures, or skip a lot of content and fail the course. It is ridiculous that some students would have to
relive their sexual assault in order to complete their law degree.

There are significant obstacles to changing the culture of a traditional, conservative, school in one of
Australia’s oldest universities. It might seem pretentious to say so on an NUS blog, but meaningful
change can only come from the students. Instead of laughing at his rape joke, this lecturer’s students
(including me) need to call him out on it. He’d tell me that ignorance of the law is no excuse when
the cops are bundling me in to the paddy wagon (‘oh officer, I had no idea it was illegal to stand
in the middle of Brunswick St drinking out of a bottle of Passion Pop’). I have to let him know that
we’re not studying criminal law to learn about serious offences in an abstract sense. His comments
endorse the idea that rape, the most serious of crimes, is no big deal. I have to tell him that
flippantness and ignorance are no excuse when it comes to rape culture.


Louise Scarce

NUS Queensland Sate Environment Officer

Rape culture- It’s alive and well.


Steubenville_Rape_Protest_ap_img_0Trigger Warning this post is about rape and rape culture.

Please don’t be confused by the political correct masses in society, that say that it isn’t ok to make jokes about rape and rape culture actually being dismantled.

Unfortunately this is not simply going to be a rant about the repulsive treatment of rape survivors in the media recently, although I might talk about it a bit.

Nor is this going to be about the facebook status that so many people post saying rape is never funny only to have people post rape jokes in the comments section which get more ‘likes’ than the original status.

It is however going to be about a website and its ad pop up. I am not going to say the actual page because the last thing I want is to get more visitors for them and their filth.  It was a youtube style website dedicated to rape footage, they claim to offer videos of forced sex, teen rape, and gay rape all 100% legit. AND you can submit your own videos!!

Although what’s almost worse than the fact that this website was A POP UP AD! Is the fact that when I googled it to find some website where normal people spoke about how disgusting it is that this website existed instead I found more. There are heaps of these websites.

I really just can’t understand what kind of filth of humanity not only thinks that it is ok to sexually assault and rape people but then to film it and put it online. As if they hadn’t put their victim through enough already.

As I mentioned before though, this is unfortunately not exclusive to the internet asshats, it is also all through international media.

The treatment of the 16 year old Steubenville rape victim in the media was an atrocity when she had already been through enough.

This is outright victim blaming. She has ruined their lives huh? So what did they do to her? And I am sure that the demonization of the victim is absolutely the way to fix the problem, because you know those poor guys have had a rough time.

All this has done is made the young women in this situation out to be the bad guy, it would have made her worse about what happened and herself.  And it is completely bloody wrong.

The only plus side of this whole situation in Steubenville is that there were then large rallies out the front of the courthouse this provides me with some hope for humanity.

All this whole thing has made me want to do, aside from get an internet filter for my computer (anyone with children feel free to recommend one for me) is to punch every one of these people in the face. Numerous times. Knock some sense into their heads. Or the hope that as this came out more people released that victim blaming still happens, and the impact that it has on the women who have to face it on top of what they already are, and that they will make an effort to end victim blaming.

you can find support services in your state here

you can find national support services here


Sorry for the second angry rant in a row. I promise the next one wont be.

Mikaela Wangmann

National Women’s Officer 2013 


Sara, Maggie, Shane, some internet asshats and a photo essay

Trigger warning- This post is about Domestic Violence.


So while wandering around the internet a little while ago I stumbled upon an article about Sara Naomi Lewkowicz, a photographer who did a photo story on the relationship of a couple with entrenched domestic violence. She then had the photos published as the US government was debating the reauthorisation of the Violence Against Women Act.

Some of the photos are very confronting showing 31 year old Shane throwing his 19 year old girlfriend Maggie into kitchen cabinets, choking her, using his body to box her up in a corner and they even feature the couples 2 year old child stamping her feet when she sees what is going on.

When these photos were published by Time they left some details out so people looking for someone to blame had an easy copout- Sara the photographer. And did they blame Sarah? You bet they did.

They say that she did nothing, she preferred to get some great shots instead of helping Maggie, not knowing the fact she rang 911 after having to retrieve her phone from Shane during the height of the violence. They say that she should have put the camera down and tried to help not knowing that during the argument Shane gave Maggie the option of continuing in front of the camera or leaving the room to ‘discuss’ the matter privately. Maggie didn’t hesitate and chose to stay in front of the camera as it provided some level of safety knowing that he would hold back a bit if there were witnesses. They said that Sara was despicable for taking photos of the 2 year old girl watching her mother get beaten by her father and that Sara shouldn’t have continued taking photos and got the child out of the room. How were they to know that as soon as Sara and the other 2 adults witnessing the violence saw she was there the child she was removed the photo was taken as the person closest to her was reaching to pick her up.

But of course it wasn’t just the photographer’s fault! Maggie had her part to play as well. The asshats who felt the need to comment said Maggie should have seen it coming, she stays because she likes it and of course she is not the victim but in fact the perpetrator.

So if these people are to be believed the only person in that house at that time who is blameless for the despicable show of violence was Shane.

Aw fuck off.

The more that I look into this story the more angry I get, with Time, with internet wankers, with people who can’t simply understand that the whole reason that this photo essay was done was to show how horrible domestic violence is, to make you feel uncomfortable thinking that this still occurs to millions of women around the world- but also that it is still happening right here. But also to make you want to do something about it so it never happens again.

I am also getting angry at myself because I have just gone on a 500 word rant about the photography and some moronic responses to it- which is not what Sara wanted her work to be an argument about her. She wanted  to show Maggie’s story and to get people talking about domestic violence and to raise the profile of the issue. She also wants people to acknowledge Maggie left, and the strength that takes.

‘But why confront our discomfort about images when we can instead confront the photographer? Why challenge the perpetrators who commit, and the structures that underpin, this violence when we can blame its victims – and, when the evidence of violence is still too powerful, its witnesses?’

You can find more out about the photo essay here

You can find the photo essay here

You can find out more on dealing with domestic violence here

You can find national domestic violence hotline services  here

You can take the white ribbon pledge here

Mikaela Wangmann

National Women’s Officer 2013

The sad thing is…


Last week in  an interview with a journalist about O’weeks, Colleges and sexual assault I was posed with a question that has really had me on edge since it happened and I haven’t felt comfortable about it since.

The question was not meant to upset me, or make me uncomfortable and probably won’t even be used in the article. Well really it wasn’t the question that upset me it was my answer.

The interview went down the path of what was said to be one of the O’Week tasks for first year girls at a certain college- 5 sexual acts, 5 different guys, 5 consecutive days. The question was ‘Does it shock you that this kind of thing is happening?’ my answer was ‘no. No It doesn’t’.

If she had asked me if it outraged me I would have said of course its down right disgusting.

If she had asked me if it upset me I would have said Incredibly these are young women being peer pressured into engaging in sexual activity, anyone with a moral compass would  be upset.

If she asked me if it repulsed me I would have said more than I can find the words to explain.

But she didn’t, so I answered her question. Then said all of these things.  And the sad thing is I don’t think any Women’s Officer would be shocked to hear it appalled, outraged, disgusted, upset yes but not shocked.

I haven’t been able to get this out of my head since, and I think that it is important that we don’t forget that these things are still happening, dont put dealing with them in the to hard basket, say that colleges are just out of our reach or we can’t make the change in the 12 month term. But realise that the campaigns we run and in particular Talk About It are really important, they can and do help young women who are being abused, pressured and harassed. They do force Universities, Colleges and Government to take action.

So in a round about way I really want to encourage you all to fill out Talk About It and make sure that you get everyone you can to fill it out so we have an accurate and all encompassing report on these issues.

I also wanted to share my little story because while its just a little thing that to many may seem insignificant it helped put things into perspective, and give me a kick up the arse to figure out how to fix the problem.

You can find the survey here

Mikaela Wangmann

National Women’s Officer 2013

On the Offensive: A Case for Furious Feminism

its ok to be angry

Alison is just a really angry person who has been blessed with being UTS Wom*n’s Officer for 2013. Alison liked to write letters to the editor before the internet made it the bastion of time-rich conservatives. In leiu of this, Alison likes to be an advocate and, short of a serious criminal record or parking fine, will hopefully one day be of the silk or in a suit, yelling at people for a living.


Wom*n’s bodies have been the site of patriarchal conquest for aeons, and if you’re reading this blog, I’m sure I don’t have to delve much into that conquest. But how often do we think about the conquest of more abstract rights, bodies and expressions of wom*nhood and feminism? And how do we negotiate these when, as wom*n, we have internalised a great deal of social boundaries regarding what conduct is proper?

I’m talking about emotions, specifically, anger, and its expression in feminist circles.

Why is it that a man’s anger on wom*n’s issues (read: White Ribbon Day) is noble and righteous, but a wom*n’s (read: Every Other Frickin’ Day) is unreasonable, embarrassing and laughable? For a man to sway with rhetoric and quaver his voice with passion was the sign of a good speaker. A wom*n’s furious vibrato is nothing but hysteria.

For an embarrassingly long time, the man thinkers of the day treated a wom*n’s unruly emotions in the most patronising, pathological and bizarre way. It was considered that an angry, upset or noticeably emotional people with egg-producing reproductive organs had the condition hysteria, and for some time, it was thought that egg-producing reproductive organs were malfunctioning, spurting hormones everywhere or leaping about the body, inducing within the wom*n some unnatural and perverse state in which she expressed unpalatable feelings, often relating to grief.

The vibrator was invented as a more automated treatment after doctors subjected wom*n to manual stimulation (read: sexual assault) in order to ‘cure’ this grave condition and the scourge on society that an angry wom*n was.

In particular WOC and ATSI wom*n have suffered significantly under this construct, denied rights and believed to be racially inferior due to their non-complicity with colonialism (see: Sapphire caricature). It’s apparently funny, even meme-worthy, for a WOC or ATSI wom*n to express fury or upset. Some of my un-favourites include “Aboriginal Woman Yells at Man on Train Lolz” or, if you want to delve into history “African-American Woman Gets Angry When She’s Catcalled ROFLMAO”.

We have a long and grievous history in which we have been subjugated, bodily, ideologically and physically based on our anger for an infuriatingly long time.

Cut to today and one would guess that this would be an issue solved and lain in our past.

I wish it was so.

Feminism has this bizarre lateral trend which I have noticed where we call out people for calling out, we bring shame and scorn upon those wom*n who yell at the patriarchy. We are happy to make subversive bunting, but very unhappy to back a wom*n up in a confrontation against her cat-caller, a misogynist bro in caucus or in a fight with a microagressively sexist friend.

And I’ve tried this ‘Nice Wom*n: Please, Sir, I Can Haz Rights Nao’ thing, and it is soul-destroying. I grew sick of explaining things to people for whom patriarchy and feminism was a series of non-sequiturs and strawman arguments. When people would see a wom*n’s cheeks become flushed as they pick apart her experiences under a lexical microscope and laugh because she takes it too seriously. But a Daily Life, Mama Mia, Kochie’s Angels brand of feminism is riling against that, saying that we’re something more, that Angry Feminism is something that we should move beyond, that it’s a stereotype and that Feminist Killjoys and Misandrists are forcing everyone to shy away from the big F word.

I’m not for a second going to tell you what to feel or how to act, and I can tell you that acting on my feminist anger has won me exactly zero friends, zero jobs, and zero Mama Mia articles on my nifty range of cunt-cakes, yet has stirred within me a huge affirmation for my ideas, an understanding of my self-worth, a more complex contemplation of intersectionality and my role in the activist realm. My anger is a great enabler, it drives me to get things done, it drives me to examine privilege and it drives me to consider my feminism in forever changing lights and to temper my anger with pragmatic empathy, not to those who perpetuate ‘-isms’, but with those who are subject to them.

This is not a free-for-all pass to screaming. We must also consider the safety of others. But we must also consider substantive violence. A yell here or there may be nothing compared to years of lateral ideological subjugation and cruelty. A yell may be just and furious and fitting in all the right ways for a person who has been subject to this cruelty and, though it is not the focus, may bring a shameful call to action for the receiver. A yell, though, may also trigger a stander-by with significant history, and so we must be careful.

But these things haven’t really been mapped out yet, or set for negotiation, because respectability politics and the cringe of the modern feminist at the howling, unshaven, buzz-cut hulk of a feminism supposedly passed, have yet to really shift and make space for such a discussion. The answer has always been a resounding ‘No’, even from our own, an ejection from the feminist table.

It’s alright, if you want to, to be that rabid, furious, screaming, crying feminist, because it is nothing else but your prerogative, your right, and potentially, your joy.

And, in the face of things, there’s a lot to be furious about (here’s a sampler of some pretty standard run-of-the-mill bullshit).

  • With every student/pensioner/everything discount you can pull, the average cost (excluding transport, accommodation, time off work, recovery and pain medication) of a medical or surgical termination from a not-for-profit is $300;
  • Forced sterilisation of (dis)abled wom*n is still happening;
  • Revenge porn is a thing;
  • Sistagirls (trans* ATSI wom*n) are still dying in custody in men’s prisons and no-one’s saying a word;
  • Nice Guys ™ are everywhere right now, and they’re going undercover, without their fedoras and chain wallets;

And my un-favourite;

  • We’re encouraged to be polite in the face of all this.



Alison Wonderwound

UTS Womens Officer 2013