Miss Misnomer

Just lately I have heard/seen/ read/ experienced the ongoing issue of being dismissed because of the lady parts between women’s legs.

When Tara Moss, (a writer whose blog makes me like her a whole lot, she is super smart, self deprecating and got her shit together) wrote about women crime writers being under represented because of their sex, the senior arts critic for The Age, Cameron Woodhead, accused her of “privileged whining”. It’s not whining when it’s the truth is it? Men are published more than women, win more prizes and are nominated to more lists more than the other sex and for the record, ALL the books I studied at school, were by men. It is unbalanced and it must be remedied.

My issue with Cameron Woodhead’s comment to Tara Moss was that the subtext felt like, “Hey,  woman, you should be grateful you are published despite your ladyparts, so why the hell are you bitching, bitch?”

This attitude isn’t just in publishing. Take Tina Fey’s quote from her essay on working mothers.

I know older men in comedy who can barely feed and clean themselves, and they still work.  The women though, they’re all crazy.  I have a suspicion- and hear me out, because this is a rough one – that the definition of crazy in show business is a woman who keeps talking even after no one wants to fuck her anymore. It seems to me the fastest remedy for this women are crazy situation is for more women to become producers and hire diverse women of various ages.  That is why I feel obligated to stay in the business and try hard to get to a place where I can create opportunities for others…

Everywhere I look, I see women doing more than men and still we are overlooked. If we challenge,  we are whining. If we resist we are bitches and if we dare to be successful then we are ambitious, a terrible word for a woman, so I’ve heard.

I write stories centered around female characters. Good, strong, flawed interesting women, like myself and the ones in my life. I don’t have an agenda, I write about women because I know about women. If I knew about horses then I would write good stories for horses and address the equine inequality system.

Does the problem lie with men or women? Fuck, I don’t know. My daughter is trying to decide what to do as work experience, worried because her peers who want to work in fashion and magazines. *weeps*

She is afraid to say what she wants to do as a career to her friends because she thinks people will think it’s dorky and not cool. I reminded her, unless she is planning to start a challenger brand to Zara, then fashion is a shit career (see fashion retail stats on Google as evidence) and print magazines are dying, she could start her own magazine right now if she really wanted to, on the web…judging from her reaction, she doesn’t want to work in magazines that badly it seems.

Here’s my theory. It all comes from your dad.  My dad was raised by a woman for the first few years of his life, while his father was at war. My father will do  the domestic tasks a woman is expected to do without complaint or attitude. (Cooking is not advised as he puts tabasco in most things.) My mothers father was a trooper also, stepped up and get in when needed. I am fortunate that both of my parents had models for men doing what they were supposed to do.  I hope my daughter chooses a man who can do stuff for himself.

Recently I heard of a man who said to his wife, “When will this whole career thing stop and you’ll be at home again?” WTF?

It makes me angry and then it makes me want to cry.

I have been reading Helen Garner’s book True Stories, my mothers favorite. It got me thinking; if Helen were a man, would she be a national treasure? If The Slap were written by a woman would it be deemed as Chick Lit?  And most of all why are we still having this conversation? FUCK.  *slams head against wall*

Part of me wants to tell all women to STFU and get on with it and then another part wants me to ‘whinge’ and still get the hell on with it. I get we aren’t given great role models. Carrie Bradshaw and her shoes seems excessive in a post GFC world, then onto “I don’t know how she does it” themes…maybe we should blame Sarah Jessica Parker? Who are the role models for our daughters? Disney stars? Bella in Twilight, waiting and putting her life on hold forever for a man.

In my house, I push the following role models :

  • J.K Rowling – single mother, who wrote a character called Hermoine who is kick ass and smarter than her eventual husband and he celebrates this.
  • Tina Fey – for being the smartest person in the room at anyone time.
  • Emma Watson – who played Hermoine and hasn’t fucked up  publicly, we haven’t seen her lady parts while exciting a car and is at University.
  • Adele and Kelly Clarkson – for flaunting their talent not their tits.
  • Ellen Degeneres – Being out  and honest and making a career out of her talent not her sexuality.

This conversation is huge. I want to write about my own experiences but I feel disloyal so I won’t, because i have a great partner but I will say, it’s so hard to go for it in your career or to pursue your dream when you are also considered to be a primary care giver, cook, driver and daily event manager. my kids always come to me first, I remind them they have a father who can write notes, signs forms and buys school socks.

When my friends husband is away on business she gets little help and doesn’t ask for it but when she is away, people come flocking to her husband. “What do you need they ask? Oh, you’re a good dad.” They say. Um…how about fuck off?

Both my husband and I work at home. Some days I find myself doing jobs around the house instead of working. I am trying to stop it. He doesn’t do it, so why do I feel the need? Am I conditioned? *slams head into mirror*

I am positive that young women have it tougher than I did as a teenager. The obsession of appearance is insane. Not just from each other but from their their mothers. I know of a mother, who is supposed to be this self realised guru, who sends her daughters friend, who is not stick thin, weight loss tips. I want to tell the mother of the child but it’s not my business. Instead I make an effort to tell her when I see her occasionally how fucking amazingly smart and talented she is and I hold myself back from punching the mother in the face.

This is the shit we are facing. Women who are afraid to be successful, afraid to age, afraid of speaking up. Afraid.

Women just got the vote in Saudi Arabia but don’t have the right to drive to the polling booths. Women who are punished for being raped in many societies and called whores. Women are not supported in their careers if they choose to have children. In the US, a woman earns 77 cents to every dollar a man earns. The Democrats tried passing the Paycheck Fairness Act but the republicans voted against it, the bill failed. Do the Republicans not have daughters?

Ah well, I just hope Cameron Woodhead doesn’t have a daughter who wants to be a crime writer.

That’s it. For now.

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31 thoughts on “Miss Misnomer”

  1. Excellent stuff, are you sure you’re a woman?. And if you are, and you have spent all this time blogging, who is planning dinner? xox luv ya.

  2. Love this piece because you really show how NOT black and white the issue is. My minor at uni was Women’s Issues, and I’m so grateful that I was able to study women writers, learn about women’s bodies and discuss the difficulty of managing work and family as a woman in our society. It’s a tough issue, but I think that just the act of discussing it–acknowledging that there IS an issue–is a great start.

  3. Hi Miss M,
    As a bloke, I can only say of course the problem lies with men. As I said on Tara’s blog, I have seen this my whole life and I’m still seeing it across all the arts and all levels of Business.

    If you need any proof gender imbalance is rife in Australian business have a read of today’s article in the SMH. http://www.smh.com.au/business/gender-diversity-a-work-in-progress-20111014-1lp2t.html

    As for literature, the imbalance is equally startling. Have a read of The Cambridge companion to Australian literature By Elizabeth Webby, pages 115-116.

    This highlights the historical and early past gender imbalance in Australian literature.

    What is as equally important to me is the balance in judgment of my works against that of all Australian writing, not just male Australian writing. How will any man or I know that what we are producing is comparable, if what we are comparing against is an imbalanced selection?

    Thanks for the article.

    Cheers

    Rob

  4. I have said my piece over on Tara’s blog, but aside from obvious and sometimes deliberate suppression(is this too harsh?) of women that still occurs in Australia, there’s a huge and largely subconscious/unconscious cultural bias operating.

    Two things have highlighted this to me. Earlier this year after having listened to a very good feminist genre podcast (Galactic Suburbia) I was confident that I was an “enlightened” man, who understood where the sisters were coming from. I did a gender audit of my reading/reviewing – I thought that I’d score 50-50(my perception before analysing). From memory it was closer to 72/18 in favour of male writers – and I am not the kinda guy that consciously gets turned off a book if it’s written by a woman. I have had to institute some conscious structural changes in my reading in an attempt to overcome this imbalance.

    The second involves my participation in helping choose authors to be listed on state library paraphernalia. The selection group was majority female and out of 14 authors selected originally there was only 1 female – after my suggestion this was changed to about 3-4 women authors. What caused this? Selection members not being familiar with the genre? Male authors being historically dominant in that genre?

  5. Recently I found out that both my brother and my brother in law, two intellegent, educated, progressive, leftist guys don’t like Pink or her music. Digging deeper, I found out they have never listened to Pink, just seen a few clips on TV and thought she was a “bimbo”. Digging even deeper I find out that neither of them likes ANY female musicians or singers. None. They simply don’t enjoy women singing so why should they listen to them? This is a taste issue, of course, not sexism! Just like prefering rock to jazz, or so they say…

  6. Hey Kate,

    Great piece, I found myself nodding and doing a little bit of “Yay feminist” fist pumping, while reading it.

    Jessica

  7. Hi Lucy,

    Pink is very confronting to some men; sexual, in control, ripped body and sings about the elephant in the room. Even if people don’t like her music, they must appreciate her messages of empowerment which are often done with humour and fun.
    I am heartened by the rise of female singers again as there seemed to be a dearth for a while but it’s true, many men don’t seek out female artists because they are women. In my experience, women are often more open to new things in their life, music, books, films, technology.
    Women are underestimated by many men and we allow it to happen because when we challenge the status quo we are bullied.

    *sigh*

    K
    x

  8. I think Pink’s song “Stupid Girls’ says it all. An ex-girlfriend wanted to be a mechanic, was ridiculed by all but her father and me, and became a mechanical engineer. And yet, she still got little respect, despite the fact she aced every test, was better in practical than most of her male peers. eventually, despite her overcoming her odds, she caved and now does a ‘girls job’ as a checkout chick at an autoparts store. she was beaten. i hope she gets back to her trade and goes further one day.

    You write goodly. I likes it.

  9. I guess i’m a little strange. I am an admirer of Tara, Tina and J.K. Pointed out to my grandaughters what Hermione was doing in her real life,both have followed her lead. I’d watch ‘Salt” before ‘Bourne’, and meet Hilary before Bill.
    So all in all I agree with you although a little disappointed that you felt you had to give it that ‘blokey’ feel with those unecessary but versatile little words f**** ‘n’ s***.
    Brings back memories of Mum and cakes of soap.

    1. You sound enlightened about women Colin.
      As I figure this is my blog and I write how I talk (which smacks of sailor talk) then I refuse to edit myself. I swear. No swearing isn’t necesaary, as Stephen Fry says but then neither are red socks and cushions on sofa’s but we still have them.
      Is swearing blokey? I don’t think so. Some of the best swearers I know have ovaries.
      There is a good article here on swearing and why educated people swear so much.
      Maybe we just don’t see it as swearing but an extension of our vocabulary? 🙂 Thanks for reading and commentating Colin.

      K
      x

  10. Magnificent post, Kate. There are so many great moments in this piece.
    ‘I don’t have an agenda, I write about women because I know about women. If I knew about horses then I would write good stories for horses and address the equine inequality system.’
    And Ms Fey: ‘the definition of crazy in show business is a woman who keeps talking even after no one wants to fuck her anymore.’
    Just magnificent.
    Thank you for brightening my day.

    1. Thanks Tara. You are a wonderful writer, commentator and role model. Thank you for reading and bothering to comment. You have now brightened my day.

      K
      x

      P.S One my characters in my first book has your daughters name. Written before the happy events of her birth but a lovely coincidence. Such a beautiful name.

      1. Agree with Tara here, those quotes are perfect, Kate. I’m going to steal that one about horses the next time someone asks me what I write, or would I ever write in a different genre.

        So much still to fight for!

      2. please feel free to quote me and to write about horses Dianne. Thanks for commenting. i love your books btw. I have a few on them on my shelf actually. Kx

  11. I have to agree: this is the best thing that I’ve read all day.

    May I recommend Germaine Greer’s _Slipshod Sibyls_? As it argues that there has been, historically, a double standard applied to the way women poets have been treated, and seeing as how I see this double standard still applied along with unhealthy dollops of condescension, to women writers in all genres, then I’m prepared, in my critical work to do something to redress the treatment women writers have received at the hands of my fellow men.

    1. Thanks for the nice words re: my writing.
      I will look up the Greer piece, Phillip. Thank you.
      I am not sure what your critical work is but anything you can do will be gratefully received.

      K
      x

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