Welcome to the women’s issue of Salient. You may be wondering why we need an entire issue dedicated to women.
There certainly isn’t a lack of attention paid to women’s issues in the media; it’s just that too often discussion of issues that affect women has very little to do with the experiences of actual women.
It’s kind of trendy at the moment to ask the question, “Is feminism still relevant?”
The response is usually to point out that the prime minister is a woman. Also, there is a company that has a CEO who is a woman. This is apparently a sign that sexism doesn’t exist anymore. Maybe it even means that feminism has gone too far and now men are oppressed by Reverse Sexism.
I could play the numbers game and point out how few women actually occupy positions of power. But I’m not even going to bother, because the thing is, having women in positions of power doesn’t guarantee a better life for anyone except those women who are in positions of power. It’s naïve to think that women are automatically going to look after the interests of other women out of some kind of innate sense of sisterhood.
If there’s one issue that really hit home where women stand in our culture, it was the trials of Clint Rickards, Bob Schollum and Brad Shipton for pack raping several women when they were police officers. The treatment of rape survivors who were brave enough to press charges, by both the courts and the media, indicates that our culture has a long way to go when it comes to eradicating myths about rape – and even further when it comes to eradicating rape.
Until that happens, feminism is still relevant. Women’s issues of magazines, devoted to discussing women’s issues from women’s perspectives, are relevant. Women’s festivals, celebrating women’s struggles, our power, our achievements, are relevant.
We never picked out a theme for this year’s Women’s Fest, but somehow, it ended up being focused on women’s creativity. There is a long strong history of women expressing their political views through art. In the past, women’s writing, women’s songs – hell, even women’s quilt designs – have contained political messages. It’s only fitting that we celebrate this tradition of creative resistance by showcasing and nurturing women’s creativity.
We’ve organised a whole lot of workshops to give you a chance to express your own creativity: zine & book making, stenciling, creative writing, pole dancing, and guitar tech.
There are also some workshops on more serious stuff: the supporting survivors workshop is a chance to think about how we take care of people in our lives who’ve been sexually abused. The sex and consent workshop is a space for men to talk about the role that consent (or lack of it) plays in sexual relationships and how to ensure that you never wind up having sex with someone who doesn’t want to. The gender identity workshop is an introduction to gender categories beyond man and woman.
We’ve also got some arse kicking performances lined up. The Women Who Want to Scare You Fest at Happy on Friday the 21st is a celebration of sassy bitches on stage, featuring Punchbowl, The Windups, Death Rattle and Goodbye Galaxy.
It’s important for women to have women only spaces to socialize and bond, so on the Thursday of Women’s fest we’re hosting an all women performance night at Our Bar. Come see exquisite local musicians like Kitten Et Me, Jessie Moss, Plum Green and Chastity Kahlua. There’s also an open mic component so bring along your guitar, banjo, bongo drums, tap shoes or your poetry and wow us with your skills. As with all women’s fest events, queers, intersex and transgender folk are welcome.
Other events include a panel discussion of women politicians and activists, a fuck-a-ware party, and a stall and music day in the quad on Thursday. For updates on women’s fest events you can check our myspace page: www.myspace.com/womensfest.