Category Archives: Celebrity

Ah Mia Freedman, it all makes sense now

Hey look everyone, look what I did for you. I read Mia Freedman’s latest piece of shaming nonsense so you don’t have to: Are you a mother or a porn star?

Because porn stars are bad, donchaknow, and looking like one is the worst thing in the world and mothers should never, EVER, look sexy or like they know what sex is, even though we all know they’ve done it at least once because there’s a baby.

Freedman’s wearing her shaming pants because Kim Kardashian isn’t wearing any. Kardashian posted a damn hot photo to instagram. Freedman reckons the photo is “ridiculous”. I reckon it’s SPECTACULAR. To quote @Msloulou77, “if my booty was bangin’ in a skimpy white cosi you guys would have more pics of that than hot dinners”. Hell yes.

You know, call me overly sensitive but starting your piece with a quote about burning the place down – when hundreds of people have lost their homes in fires in the last 24 hours – is a dick move. Justifying the quote later by saying it was written months ago doesn’t make it less shitty.

The thing that cracks me up the most about Freedman’s piece is that it demonstrates how little she understands the pop culture she’s been writing about for decades. Like this bit:

Why did you need to do this? Why does the world need to see up your bum and inside your top?

This has nothing to do with need. It’s about want. Kardashian instagrammed a photo for people who want to see her photos. It’s pop culture, not a meeting of the Security Council. If Freedman doesn’t want to see photos like this, it’s pretty easy to unsubscribe. It would mean she’d miss out on opportunities to shame other women, but surely that’s a small price to pay for no longer having to look at bodies she doesn’t like.

Why not just cut to the chase and post a link to the sex tape (you know, the one you claim to be mortified about while disingenuously ignoring its role in your fame)? Are you really that desperate to reclaim your hotness that you’re happy to discard your dignity and that of your daughter?

Woah, woah, woah, there’s a lot going on here. By Freedman’s logic, if you’re wearing a pair of swimmers – at the beach or the pool or in a change room – you might as well be having sex. Um, Mia, if that’s what you think sex is, then you are actually doin’ it wrong.

Now to the sex tape nonsense. The sex tape didn’t make Kim Kardashian famous – journalists creamed their jeans and made it a huge news story because she was already famous. Do you really think journalists would care about a sex tape made by unknowns? For fuck’s sake, it’s not rocket surgery.

As for the last bit, apparently once you have a baby it’s undignified to look good in a swimsuit. Particularly because it will discard your daughter’s dignity. I’m not quite sure how that works, but that’s probably because I don’t have a daughter.

I’m not suggesting that being a woman comes to a screaming halt when you become a mother. Nor being sexy, if that floats your boat.

Actually, that is EXACTLY what you’re suggesting. In your own words, you headlined your piece “Are you a mother or a porn star?” and you wrote that you got “whiplash” because Kardashian has posted a sexy photo AND a photo of her baby. So you’re either bullshitting and hoping that no one notices, or you don’t actually know what those words mean. Which is it?

But putting on a transparent and gaping white leotard, shoving your arse in the air and taking a rear view selfie (with extreme side boob) is not the action of a woman comfortable in her skin.

Gonna have to disagree with you here, Mia. I reckon it’s the action of someone who is incredibly comfortable in her skin. You can’t seriously believe that a woman who doesn’t like her body would take a photo of herself in a pair of swimmers and put that photo online for millions of people to see, do you?

I don’t have the ovaries to post a photo like that – probably because I read Freedman’s magazines when I was a teenager and learned that the most important thing I could do was to “Drop a dress size by Saturday!” then I’d be able to “Buy the swimsuit to suit my body!” (even though none of the models had a body like my body), so finally I would be able to use those “Sex tips to blow his mind!”. I don’t recall seeing anything about my pleasure, but seeing how icky Freedman is about sex workers and women recording the sex they have and women being sexy, it all starts to make sense now. After all, if you’re comfortable with women’s bodies and women being sexy (and if you understood social media) then you wouldn’t think it was so “weird” for Mariah Carey to tweet a photo of her boobs. Hey Mia, just to freak you out, here’s a photo of my arse and my boobs that I’ve tweeted. It’s no big deal, they’re just parts of my body that I happen to like. I’m 37 which means – going by what you wrote about Carey – you’ll probably suggest I tweeted these photos because I’m old and desperate. Whatevs, love.

wait, what’s the purpose of Kim Kardashian again?

Oh wow. Could there be a nastier comment than saying there is no point to a person being alive?

“Mia stop being a bitch about Kim Kardashian” some commenters will say in 3….2…..1……

“Stop judging and slut-shaming.”

Yeah but no. Because Kim is the canary down the mineshaft. Kim is simply a magnified reflection of society. In this photo – by taking it and publishing it and thinking it’s a good idea to do both – she is merely tapping into this sick societal obsession with women having to look hot at every moment in their lives – from child to cougar.

And I, for one, have had a gutful. New mothers are more than their arse. Stop reducing everything to that.

Oh, sweet jeebus, what a mess. I love how Freedman demonstrates that she doesn’t understand the criticism she gets over and over again.

If Kim Kardashian is “merely tapping into this sick societal obsession with women having to look hot at every moment in their lives”, then where’s the bit where society is blamed for it? Sure, let’s talk about the pressure on women to look hot – fuckable but not slutty – and let’s talk about how Freedman’s magazines and tv appearances and website have contributed to this pressure. But let’s not pretend that this is actually Freedman’s point. Because if it was, then that’s what she would have written about. Her article is nothing more than shaming a woman for posting a sexy photo of herself online. How dare she? She’s a mother!

As for reducing women to just their body parts, this is exactly what Freedman has done. The swimsuit photo and the baby photo show that Kardashian is a woman and a mother. Freedman just wants her to be the latter.

And you know the bit that makes Freedman look like a real goose? At the end of her piece she has a gallery of 98 photos of Kim Kardashian. Obsessed, much?

Update: Freedman is a goose AND a hypocrite. Check out this tweet from September 12. I guess now that Kardashian is being sexy in her body, instead of growing a baby in her body, then it’s ok for Freedman to define her by her body.

What’s with the body-shaming, Paula?

My name is Kim Powell, so if a headline mentions Kim Jong-un, Kim Jong-il, Kim Kardashian, Colin Powell, Julie Powell, Baden Powell or Powell Peralta, I’m gonna notice it.

So of course I noticed this, on the SMH homepage:

Article by Paula Joye about Kim Kardashian, on

Oh noes! Someone doesn’t like what someone famous is wearing!

It’s a column by Paule Joye, What’s with the outfits Kim?:

I’ve been sitting on my hands trying not to write this one. Predominantly because I believe we/me/society should leave pregnancy and pregnant women alone. Give them a break.

When you’re pregnant everyone has an opinion. About your body, the sex of your baby and what type of birth you might have. Suddenly you become public property and for nine months you must endure a peanut gallery whose members range from the neighbours mother-in-law to a stranger at the supermarket.

I’m pretty sure you can guess where this is going.

I know all to well what it’s like to be told ‘you must be having a girl because it’s stolen your beauty’. So Kim, it’s important you know that I write this from a place of love.

I know, I know, it’s easy to confuse “love” with “mean-spirited body-shaming”. I do it all the time.

What’s up with the maternity outfits?

Someone has to let that poor girl know that fashion and pregnancy go together like socks and sandals. Or nails down a blackboard. That the second trimester is not the time to be posing in a pink, neon jumpsuit underneath the statue of Jesus in Brazil. Or the moment to trial a dominatrix-inspired organza cape. Or a feather mini-skirt. Now’s the time for elasticised waist bands and no under wire. Now’s the time to take a fashion sabbatical.

Why isn’t it the time to wear those things? Seems to me that the time you want to wear a pink neon jumpsuit is the time you should wear it. So when she says “I believe we/me/society should leave pregnancy and pregnant women alone”, what she really means is “people should leave me alone when I’m pregnant, but I’m allowed to be mean and silly towards other pregnant women”.

Now Kim wears the kind of clothes we’re used to seeing on fashion editors, supermodels and Cate Blanchet. Not small, curvy women. Particularly not small, curvy, pregnant women.

You’re missing a t in Blanchett there, love. But typos aside – because we all do them and she did quite a few of them and god I hope there aren’t any in this post – women can wear whatever the hell they want to wear. And that includes “small, curvy, pregnant” women.

I’d like to draw Paula Joye’s attention to this video she created in August 2010, praising Instyle editor Kerrie McCallum for “breezing through” her pregnancy looking “glamorous” and “like a supermodel”:

In this video, Paula Joye says she still wore heels when pregnant – yet apparently Kim Kardashian needs to ditch the heels and wear ballet flats. In this video she also says you should wear things that “accentuate your bump”, and that you should wear skinny jeans so you don’t look frumpy and that, even when pregnant, your outfits should always be flattering. (The video also shows paparazzi shots of pregnant married celebrities to Beyonce’s ‘All the Single Ladies’. I’m really not sure what that’s about.)

I’d also like to draw Paula Joye’s attention to this piece she wrote in June 2012:

Meet the most stylish pregnant woman on the planet – Bronwyn McCahon.

At 37 weeks pregnant with baby number two she looks as she always does – cool, chic and polished… what I love so much about her maternity style is the ability she has to still dress like herself no matter what the bump is doing.

Ah, so it’s praiseworthy when her friends dress this way, but when a celebrity that she’ll most likely never meet does it, then it requires a nasty, body-shaming article on the website of a major broadsheet. Silly me for not seeing that difference.

And I’d like to draw Paula Joye’s attention to this piece she wrote in March 2012:

I went through pregnancy wearing non maternity clothes – except for a single pair of jeans – opting instead for lots of stretch jersey in jumbo sizes because I couldn’t relate to the pregnant bodies in the maternity catalogues.

Seems to me that Kim Kardashian is doing the same thing – wearing non-maternity clothes. Besides, between her reality show and the paparazzi mobbing her every time she’s out in public (to get photos that editors like Paula Joye buy), is it that surprising that Kardashian is making sure they don’t get a bad photo of her?

I guess Kim all I really wanted to say was that even though you’re a Kardashian and Mrs West you’re also pregnant and you should be allowed to dress for it.

But you’re not allowed to dress the way you want, obviously.

If pregnancy taught me anything it was that people like me need to learn to keep their opinions to themselves (clearly, I’m still evolving), that fashion will always be there and that elastic is a truly happy place.

That doesn’t even make sense. You either learned that lesson or you didn’t. And you didn’t. But keep trying, Paula, and maybe one day you’ll be mature enough that you don’t feel you have to body-shame a pregnant woman.

The Sydney Morning Herald’s problem with women

There are two main images on this afternoon that are indicative of the way most online journalists write about women. In one, the woman is ignored. And in the other, something she did a long time ago is used to define her.

This is the first main image on

Main image on homepage, featuring Emma Stone and Seth Macfarlane

The caption reads:

As she looked on, there were groans – and a few laughs – as Family Guy creator put his stamp on the Oscars

As “she” looked on? Emma Stone has a name and it’s Emma Stone. Oh I know, it can be really difficult because sometimes she has red hair and other times she has blonde hair, but with a little effort, the tertiary-educated journalists at can probably figure out who she is. For example, they could turn to the person next to them and say, “hey, do you know who that is?”.

The story is Seth Macfarlane polarises Oscars audience, by Megan Levy. Here’s the image inside the story (for a crappy autoplay video):

Image of Emma Stone and Seth Macfarlane to illustrate video of Oscars nominations

The caption reads:

MacFarlane in Oscar trouble
Seth MacFarlane, host of the 2013 Oscars, is in hot water with a joke about Hitler at the announcement of the Oscar nominees.

Funny, I could swear there are two people in that image… Yep. I’ve checked a few times and there’s definitely two people there.

Another thing that’s funny is that, sure, Seth Macfarlane is hosting the Oscars and the story is about him making a Hitler joke (ooooh, controversial), but you know, there are two people announcing the nominations so it’s pretty dumb to pretend there’s only one person doing it. Particularly when we can see the other person.

The second main image on is this one: story about Indonesia politician Angelina Sondakh

The caption reads:

Downfall of a beauty queen
How Angelina Sandakh went from Sydney to winning Miss Indonesia to becoming a politician to ending up in jail.

The downfall of a pretty woman! A fallen beauty queen! An Australian connection! Exciting!

The story, How Angelina went from Sydney to Miss Indonesia to politics to jail, is by Michael Bachelard:

As former beauty queen and politician Angelina Sondakh awaited her fate in Jakarta’s corruption court this week, her defenders were extolling the intellectual feats of her long-past Australian girlhood.

A former beauty queen! Exciting! Oh wait. We’ve done that bit.

“Angie has many achievements behind her,” said one breathless article in the Harian Terbit newspaper.

A breathless article! Like this one by Michael Bachelard!

The rest of the article mocks the Indonesian media for being excited! By a beauty queen! In trouble! In Indonesia! Because the Australian media never ever does that. Noooooo, not at all.

According to the article (and you have to read a long way down to find it), Angelina Sondakh has been an MP since 2004. That’s almost a decade. But model! Breathless!

Defining Sondakh by a job she did almost 10 years ago is like calling me a checkout chick because I worked at Kmart as an undergrad in the 90s. It’s idiotic. It’s also fairly irrelevant: the story is about politics and corruption, not beauty pageants.

I called this post The Sydney Morning Herald’s problem with women, not because the journalists who work there are misogynists, or because they’re all “ew, women are icky”. Their problem is that they either ignore women altogether (and read Chrys Stevenson’s The Blokeyness Index on the SMH’s massive failure at having women on the front page), or they think that a woman’s appearance trumps everything else does.

Daily Telegraph: We decide which girlfriend is better

This is one of the main stories on today: Michael Clarke’s batting average is an advertisement for a happy home life:

MICHAEL Clarke is the best advertisement for marriage and a settled home life.

His batting average since marrying stunning model Kyly Boldy in May is an equally stunning 263.5

It’s a big improvement on the old soap opera days of the Lara Bingle relationship when he more often appeared in Sydney Confidential than these sporting pages.

This columnist spent Sydney’s glorious Sunday afternoon behind a computer searching cricket records for a Boldy v Bingle comparison.

Boldy bolted in with an average of 75.2 (since their relationship became public at Clarke’s 30th birthday in April 2011) compared with Bingle’s 54.4.

It’s by Phil Rothfield, the Tele‘s sports editor.

This is the photo inside:

Daily Telegraph image with Lara Bingle, Michael Clarke, Kyly Boldy

At the Daily Telegraph, we rank women on their usefulness to men.

Yes, it’s meant to be a bit of fun. I get that. And, yes, the figures are meaningless without indicating how they were calculated. But there’s something else going on here that should worry editors (more on that later).

There’s a weird quote in the piece:

“With Lara, it was all about her,” said one source. “With Kyly it’s all about him.”

One source what? Is it someone on the cricket team? Is it a quote from twitter that you haven’t attributed? Is it another sports journo? Is it the fashion editor? Seriously dude, some context please. I’m also a little worried about the person behind the quote. Any relationship between two people that’s “all about” one person isn’t healthy. No, I’m not saying Clarke’s relationships are unhealthy. What I am saying is that someone who thinks the focus in a relationship should be completely on one person is yet to understand that a relationship between two people involves two people. Gawd, can you imagine going out with someone who thinks like that?

One thing that seems to have escaped Rothfield is Clarke’s age. When he was with Lara Bingle, he was in his 20s. Now he’s in his 30s. From what I know about professional cricket – which, admittedly, isn’t much because boring – most players improve in their late 20s to early 30s, which is why they don’t give the captaincy to a teenager.

Another thing that’s escaped Rothfield is the role his newspaper played in creating that “soap opera”. If they hadn’t published the nude photo of Lara Bingle – the one taken without her consent – there wouldn’t have been a soap opera. If photographers hadn’t been hounding the couple, there wouldn’t have been a soap opera. If News Ltd and Fairfax didn’t publish those photos, the photographers wouldn’t have been hounding them and there wouldn’t have been a soap opera. If News Ltd and Fairfax weren’t publishing opinion pieces saying that she wasn’t good enough for him, there wouldn’t have been a soap opera. How on earth could a young couple function under that sort of intrusion and vitriol?

The rest of Rothfield’s article mentions a couple of other sportsmen who became better at their jobs once they grew up. Apparently this has nothing to do with getting older and realising that they can’t carry on like teenagers anymore because of the hangovers and because the MSM will tell everyone, and everything to do with finding a good woman. Ah, good women versus bad women, in a judgement that’s based purely on whether they make a man better at his job. Someone remind me, what year is it?

Like I said, I’m sure Rothfield’s article is meant to be a bit of fun. I can’t imagine that he actually believes that Clarke’s success is due to his relationship and not to his hard work at training in the almost-two years since he’s been captain. If the former was actually the case, then relationships would be a compulsory part of sporting contracts. “Sorry mate, you might be belting boundaries off every ball, but you can’t be on the team until you get married. Them’s the rules”.

There are a few steps between what was probably a comment at the pub, to spending a day researching something – spending White Ribbon Day working on an article about how women are pretty objects but their real value is in how quiet they are – to submitting it to your editor, who decides that it should be published. And then the person putting the website together overnight decided to put it somewhere prominent, and then the morning editor decided to keep it there, and so did the afternoon editor. At each of these steps, didn’t anyone say, “um, guys, don’t you think this is a little disrespectful?” Or, “don’t you think it’s a little weird to be writing about someone else’s personal life like this?”.

There are currently 41 sports stories on the sports homepage (not counting results tables). One is about women’s sport. One. The very last story. And it’s only 206 words:

Only one story features a female athlete. And it’s the very last one, right at the bottom.

Yep, that’s right, a story about sprinklers going off in a game involving no Australian players is considered more important than a story about a female athlete. There’s no mention that an Australian team was in the top four of the International Women’s Club Championship. No mention of the W-League over the weekend. At least has a story, even if they didn’t bother sending a journo (it’s AAP copy).

When you think about why women’s sport doesn’t get a lot of media coverage, it couldn’t possibly be because sports editors and sports journos think women are there to look pretty and shut the fuck up, could it? Because while Rothfield and all those other decision-makers might have thought it was just a funny little article, that’s what it’s really about. Praising the woman who is seen and not heard. Even better if she’s “stunning”. It might be something to think about next time the editors sit down – and they do regularly – and try to find ways to attract more female readers.

We’ve reached peak stupid

Which, of course, means that from now on there should be less stupid.

A good friend sent me a link to what is quite possibly the dumbest thing I’ve seen on a news site in a long time.

The. Dumberest.

It’s on Yahoo, with captions by Kathryn Eisman: Twenty secrets every woman keeps:

A woman may give you her body and her heart, but there are parts she’ll never give up. Pieces woven into the very fibre of her being. Mysteries only hinted at in a brief, sly smile, an inscrutable laugh.

These are the secrets of lovers past, hidden fantasies and unshared longings. A woman’s deepest secrets that don’t – and never will – include you. You’re about to sample this hidden knowledge. But like any man who seeks it, you’d better be prepared for what you’re about to find.


The problem with putting together a gallery like this, is that it tends to say a lot more about the author than it does about “every woman”. Plus, it’s eye-wateringly predictastupid. Here are the highlights:

Secret six
You’ve made me cry more times than you’ll ever know.

Lady, this is not how you judge a good relationship. It’s really not.

Secret eight
I obsess about when you’re going to call me again. The period of time between our first date and your “I had a great time the other night. Would you like to go out again this weekend?” always seems stretched into slow motion. So don’t worry about appearing eager. Call.

Or, you know, you could call him. After all, it’s 2012 and this gallery is sooooo 2011. Feminism is so hot right now.

Secret nine
At the beginning of our relationship, I save all of your voicemails and listen to them repeatedly.

Ok, the combination of eight and nine makes me suspect that you might need to see a counsellor.

Secret 10
I’m constantly testing you. I observe, analyse and judge every action, word, gesture, e-mail and facial expression. When I ask you if you want to have a threesome, I don’t mean it. If you want me to speak to you again, let alone sleep with you after this conversation, the answer should always be: “Why would I want to sleep with another woman when I have you?”.

Any relationship that involves one person “constantly testing” the other person, particularly with trick questions, is not a good relationship.

Secret 12
I need constant indications that you want me around. That’s why it’s better, for example, to say, “I want you to come away with me for the weekend. Could you come with me?” than to ask, “What are you up to this weekend?”.

I wasn’t kidding about the counsellor.

Secret 14
Twenty secrets every woman keeps

Um. I think you missed one.

Secret 16
I start fights with you because I’m feeling ignored. Don’t retreat into your cave; just give me what I want: some attention. And never tell me to “calm down”, unless you want to guarantee that I absolutely won’t.

There’s a Medicare rebate for psychological services.

My comments about seeing a psychologist were for comedic value at first, but there’s a lot of benefit in talking to a trained stranger. It might stop you picking fights with someone you care about, and to see what’s really going on. If you do feel like you’re being ignored, then you should talk about that with your partner. I’ve googled you, Kathryn Eisman, so I know you’re an adult and not a teenager who is figuring shit out while being bombarded with cultural messages that are usually not good for anyone. Cultural messages like this gallery of yours. Or it could be time to leave that relationship. I once had a boyfriend who told me several times a day that he loved me, but I never felt more lonely. So I stopped seeing him. It was an excellent decision. I recommend that shit.

Secret 18
I may find your best friend repulsive, but I’ve fantasised about sleeping with him. Not because I want him, but because I want a piece of a bloke who is so close to you.

What the actual fuck? This is the one my friend warned me about. As he said, “I can’t imagine any other company so willing to insult half the population”.

I don’t believe that everything published by women about women has to be reasonably intelligent and/or feminist. I’m not interested in taking away someone’s right to publish something stupid. Because then where would Miranda Devine be? And I know there are plenty of women who denigrate feminism while enjoying the benefits of feminism. Oh hey look, it’s Miranda Devine again. But, really, Yahoo, this is what you think of your female readers? It’s not even on trend.

Elle of a way to write a ridiculous story

I keep an eye on the entertainment sections of news sites, a la Caitlin Moran, even though sometimes it’s hard to tell which bits are the entertainment section, and sometimes I don’t know who the “celebrities” are. But sometimes you see an article so stupid that you don’t know whether to use your feminist voice, laugh until you cry, or just feel sorry for the person who wrote it.

Like this one, by the Daily Telegraph‘s body shamer/gossip writer, Ros Reines: Elle of a way for Macpherson to get revenge on Arpad Busson:

WAS it just sheer coincidence that Elle Macpherson should grab the attention of world paparazzi at the same time Uma Thurman had a child with the Aussie supermodel’s ex-boyfriend, French financier Arpad Busson?

No sooner had 42-year-old Thurman finished giving birth to her and Busson’s daughter in New York last Sunday, than Macpherson was shamelessly flaunting her fabulous figure in a series of teensy weensy bikinis in Ibiza.

OH MY GOD SHE WORE THAT BIKINI ON PURPOSE. ON PURPOSE! Because Elle Macpherson is NEVER in a bikini…

According to the internet, Macpherson and Busson broke up in 2005. Seven years ago. So, in Ros Reines’ world, how many years after a break up does someone need to wait before they’re allowed to wear a bikini again? Eight? Thirteen? Seventy-four? I bet Reines believes that there is An Actual Feud between Angelina Jolie and Jennifer Aniston. Honey, you need to Let It Go. The people in those relationships have moved on, it’s time you did too.

And as if her knockout body wasn’t enough to send those shots ricocheting around the world, Macpherson obligingly cavorted with Jenkins with the sort of delicious grin on her face which seemed to say: “take that Uma”.

What’s the emoticon for “I’ve just read something so stupid that my eyes are buggin’ out of my head”?

You can hardly blame her as Macpherson and Busson had a long and happy relationship together with two delightful sons, Arpad Flynn Alexander, 14, and Aurelius Cy Andrea, 9, to show for it.

Well, it can’t have been too happy since the two people in that relationship decided it wasn’t working.

And so here we are, yet again, with another powerful, successful woman being defined by the men who have been in her life at some point. All of her actions are filtered through the idiotic view that she’s doing it all – even getting out of bed in the morning – simply to win him back/get back at him/get back at the woman he’s seeing seven years later/win him back from the woman he’s seeing seven years later. Oh, yawn. Wouldn’t it be nice if, just once, they changed the script?

The Feminist Supremacy? The Feminist Supremacy!

This post is dedicated to the wanker who got in front of the mic at The Feminist Supremacy? on Saturday night and, instead of asking an intelligent question of the intelligent women on stage, demanded that one retract her opinion simply because he disagreed with it. I’ll deal with his comment later.

But first, feminists! At the Town Hall! With vagina-flashing! That last bit was me. And also my friend. And quite a few other women. Note to Sydney Town Hall people: you should fix the locks on the toilet doors. You know, so they actually do the one thing they’re supposed to do.

This isn’t a review post of The Feminist Supremacy. It’s a ‘further discussion’ post. Like book club, but without the book. (I’ve never been in a book club, so I’m just talking out of my arse here.)

One of the questions Julia Baird put to Kathy Lette, Catherine Deveny, Emily Maguire and Tara Moss was whether we needed a new word to replace “feminism”. I don’t think we do. The word is filled with the history of a global push for social, economic and political rights for women, so why the hell would we change it? Tara Moss said she prefers the word “humanist” and I get that, because it’s about treating all humans with respect. [Update: I got this bit wrong. Moss said “feminism is humanism”. See her comment below.] But abandoning the word “feminist” would say to those who demonise people for wanting women and men to have the same rights and opportunities, “you win, we give up”. And what do you think will happen to the next word we use?

So when someone says, “I’m not a feminist but [says something feminist]”, point out that if they believe women should be able to earn their own income, drive a car, get an education, own property, not be someone’s property, then they are a feminist and should be proud of that. Because what kind of arsehole is against women being treated like humans?

Another question Baird put to the cliterati – I felt that Lette favoured pun over substance, but that one I enjoyed – was about Western feminists being criticised for being concerned with Western feminist issues. To me, that this question is taken seriously is proof of how successful conservatives like Paul Sheehan and Janet Albrechtsen and Miranda Devine have been at attacking feminism. (Never mind the fact that Albrechtsen and Devine have feminism to thank for people actually giving a shit about their lady thoughts. They know that, of course, but it doesn’t suit them to acknowledge it.)

Firstly, demanding that Western feminists speak for feminists in other countries is like demanding that Julia Gillard speak for Joyce Banda. Malawi’s President has her own voice and it’s insulting to suggest that she needs a Western PM to speak for her. Just because the work of feminists in other countries isn’t common knowledge in Australia doesn’t mean it’s not happening. On top of that, the mainstream media only has room for a few feminist voices at a time and journalists tend to always use the same people for quotes, so the public view of Australian feminism is not at all representative of feminist work in Australia. Besides, the whole thing reeks of “women in other countries have it much worse so you should thank your lucky stars and shut the hell up with your whining”.

And now to the man in the audience who wanted Kathy Lette to retract her comment that men tend to say they are feminists in order to get a more intelligent root. It takes a particular type of arrogance to demand that someone withdraw their opinion simply because you happen to disagree with it. Now, despite some of the male psych/arts undergrads I met in the 90s, I don’t happen to agree with Lette on this point. But that doesn’t mean one of us is right and one of us is wrong. We’re talking about opinions here. And since she cracked jokes the whole way through, it’s possible that this was simply another throwaway funny. I wondered if this is what happened with Feminist Dad a few weeks ago, and I don’t believe it is. One is a man telling a woman that she must remove her opinion because he doesn’t agree with it; the other was a few men saying they disagreed with a woman and explaining their reasons why. The issue was discussed and we arrived at a point of general agreement. (Phew. I think I’m safe with that logic.)

Mr Opinion Retractor then went on to complain that political correctness was ruining free speech. In my experience – and was pointed out by Deveny – people who complain about political correctness are just pissed off that when they use someone’s gender/race/sexuality/disability/religion as an insult, someone tells them what a dickhead they’re being. My heart bleeds for all those poor, oppressed people who have to hesitate before using the word “poofter” to put someone down.

In January, I wrote that if you’d told me over Christmas lunch that 2012 would start with several weeks of public discussion about feminism, I’d have politely asked if you were on crack. It’s now May and the public discussion is still going. As Nadine Von Cohen would say, FUCK YEAH.