Friday Feminartsy Finds

Caster Semenya storms to victory at the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games

Good Morning Feminartsy Community,

In a world where the masculine body remains the norm by which all others are measured or even understood, it becomes too easy to discriminate against deviant bodies. The news this week that South African 800m champion Caster Semenya will have to take medication to artificially lower her body’s natural levels of testosterone has been rightly labelled by the UN as “unnecessary, humiliating and harmful”. And while the ruling has been roundly condemned by people and human rights bodies around the world, within the sport itself they have been welcomed.

Human rights in the digital sphere have also been in the news this week. Both Wikipedia and Instagram have faced renewed criticism over the latest example of their platform’s in-built biases towards non-white, non-masculine users. Wikipedia has permanently deleted a page related to an African-American woman scientist. While Instagram’s (one can only imagine deliberately) vague new guidelines on ‘inappropriate’ content has been slammed by many as clearly sexist.

As climate change continues to impact the world in which we currently live, and the world we can expect for our future, more and more writers are grappling with the already-unstable boundaries between literary and speculative fiction. The Glad Shout author Alice Robinson writes in Overland about how motherhood impacts her work. And you can read our review of her latest work here. Which isn’t, of course, to say that motherhood is the only lens through which we can understand the horror of our future – even if motherhood is a catalyst of ‘ambivalence’ for many.

In entertainment news, Lisa Hanawalt – Bojack Horseman illustrator has a new show. Tuca & Bertie follows two 30-something bird-women who are best friends. Hanawalt explained to the NYT that she chose birds because “they’re not necessarily cute”, and it was important to her “to show that women are gross”. In an animated landscape of anthropomorphised animals, Hanawalt’s animal-women are usually freer to be themselves – to be fully desiring bodies. Closer to home, this portrait of Miranda Tapsell – star and co-writer of Top End Wedding – about romcoms, race, and identity is worth a read.

For your weekend reading, this piece by Nam Le on ‘Who Gets to Be Australian?’ comes highly recommended. A beautiful piece exploring race, identity, nationalism, personal and shared history, and the arbitrariness of these things, Le likens nationality to family: it “environs you, brands you, enfleshes you. It conditions your beliefs and biases, your thoughts and your ways of thinking.” A taster:

I love this country. I feel lucky to be here. And I hate feeling at all compelled to say it—I hate the inferred ingratiation. I’ve been here long enough to know that as soon as you try to prove you belong, you don’t. (“A mug’s game, a mugger’s game.”) “I actually like Australia very much,” Malouf says in an interview, a small ridge of surprise in that “actually”—it’s not easy abandoning old defenses. I want to belong, and I’m wary of this want in me. So (like Malouf, perhaps) I take my belonging in a spirit of play. The sporting analogy is apt: the high-grade tribalism, the manufactured all-or-nothing stakes and emotion in a match are real—and not to be belittled—but it’s a bit pathetic, isn’t it, even pathological, when people take it too seriously?

Similarly, this piece by Fiona Wright in Overland about online dating, life, and loneliness is absolutely captivating.

And if listening is more your thing, Alison Whittaker’s ‘The F Word’ address. (Or read her poetry – which is phenomenal).

Happy Weekend and Happy Reading,


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