Tag Archives: politics

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 

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




Axe The Tax!



Sophie is the 2013  UWA Women’s Officer .Only after her term started did she label herself a feminist but since she adopted the title she has decided that to her feminism is more about how she lives her life and how she allows other people, especially men, to treat her. She also has an astounding ability to fall over multiple times in a day for no apparent reason.


The Axe The Tampon Tax Campaign was born one Tuesday in the office of a colleague during casual conversation. I decided that, since I am Women’s Officer at the UWA Student Guild, I finally had the power to do more than bitch about it.

Since then, more menstrual puns than the world’s men can handle have been shared on social media, and the change.org petition has gained more than 10,000 signatures in less than two days.

The whole argument of this campaign is that having a tax on tampons is fundamentally sexist.

I’ve had a lot of criticism on this, and I think a lot of it is because people (ok, men) don’t get the point of the petition. I don’t think there is anything wrong with taxing most products – even things like nappies and children’s clothes. Sure, in an ideal world we wouldn’t have tax, yaddyayaddya, but we do – and everyone uses these things. However, unless you are libra pad man, if you are a male, you will never use sanitary products, which means you will never be taxed for them. Having your period sucks enough without chucking a sexist tax into the mix. And to add insult to injury… condoms are already GST free – so men, the argument that you get taxed for your essentials? So INVALID.

You can get involved with this issue by signing the petition here:

And tweeting all the pollies you can – let everyone know what a #bloodyoutrage it is!!!


Sophie Anne Clare Liley

Women’s Officer at the UWA Student Guild


No Turning Back


So! As O’weeks start to roll around, it’s time to re-launch the new look blog and start looking forward to the rest of the year. This will be a very busy year for Womens departments around the country; not only because the national gender pay gap widened last year, but because sexual assault rates are still disgustingly high, childcare remains inaccessible to many, there are groups still actively campaigning to remove women’s right to autonomy over her own body and women are still facing domestic violence. Women are still far less likely to be CEOs, Members of Parliament, published authors, be signed to major record labels or reach the top of any of their chosen fields BUT Tony Abbott has a legitimate chance of being our Prime Minister.

This is the reality that I find the scariest; Potential Prime Minister Abbott. The man who supports the return of  ‘at-fault divorce’. The man who, when legislation that would allow parents to view their teenagers Medicare consults and claims said “children should not be presumed to be the best judges of their own long-term interests … it is the responsibility of government – and doctors – … to support parental authority.” The man who, when Health Minister, attempted to keep the authorisation of RU486 under his complete control. The man who also misrepresented statistics and regularly attacked and demonised women who sought to access abortions. He said abortions were a ‘National tragedy’ and left a ‘legacy of shame’. The man who, last time he was in government, said “Compulsory paid maternity leave? Over this Government’s dead body, frankly.”

This is a year that we need to put our differences aside and work together to further the cause. We need to continue our work to close the gender pay gap, to put an end to sexual assault, to campaign for accessible access to childcare, to ensure that on September 14 when Australians go to the ballot box they know what is in store for them if Tony Abbott is elected.

Right now I think it is important to not only look forward, but also to consider the past to see where we have succeeded and where we can grow. The Womens department has been one of the most active in recent years- this is something that I am very keen to continue with campaigns running throughout the year which will tackle sexual assault, societal sexism, equal pay and of course – Tony Abbott. With the assistance of campus Womens Officers, feminist and Womens collectives and student organisations as a whole, I want to have an open dialogue with every Womens Officer around the country so that we can work together to tackle the issues affecting women on each and every campus and around the nation.

It is also important for us not to focus solely on womens issues on university campuses but to acknowledge that many issues women face on campus are because they are prominent in society as a whole, and this year is proving to be jam packed with events and ways for each of us – no matter where we live – to get involved. Upcoming events include

1 billion Rising. 


Is aiming to have 1 billion women and those who support women rise up on Valentines Day to end rape and rape culture all around the world.

International Womens Day -THE GENDER AGENDA: Gaining momentum.


Every year IWD is celebrated on the 8th of March to celebrate the political, economic and social achievements of women while continuing the fight for true equality. There will be fundraiser breakfasts in Perth, Sydney, Adelaide, Canberra, Melbourne, and Brisbane as well as other events throughout March.

To those Womens officers, leaders of Feminist and Womens collectives, Womens rights activist around the country who I have not had a chance to speak with yet, please give me a call, flick me an email, tweet at me hell send me a letter I really want to hear from you so we can have a dialogue and work together.

Talk About It! For those of you who don’t know Talk About It is a survey that is ran biannually that looks into assault, sexual assault and rape that is perpetrated against women and women identifying university students. It is a 100% confidential online survey that only takes 15 minuets to fill out and will help provide statistics for the report to outline the problem and make universities and colleges stand up and take action. Please take the time to fill it out as it is really important that we get as many responses as possible.  You can find the survey at https://www.surveymonkey.com/s.aspx?sm=phTDc3vHxzLaWfL3F%2fiXldMT%2bbTZKzTy7g2AnVGckgU%3d

Finally I would like to – on behalf of Women around the country – thank Noni Sproule (2012 National Womens Officer) for her hard work and dedication to the position in spite of the personal attacks and demonization she faced at times. I know that I have learnt a lot from her as many have and hope to continue on her hard work in the department.  We wish you the best of luck in your post NUS endeavours. Thank you Noni!


Mikaela Wangmann

NUS National Womens Officer 2013