We have liftoff! The Women’s Action Alliance Canberra (WAAC) is now officially A Thing, so the patriarchy is on notice. Over two dozen women attended (with the same number otherwise disposed, but keen to be kept in The Loop — more on that in a later post), indicating a pretty strong interest in fighting for the well-being of women and girls in a hypersexualised, neo-liberal culture. We had women and girls aged 12 to 78 attend, from all sorts of backgrounds: Christian, Muslim, European, Middle-Eastern, Asian, British … and a few Skips, as well 😉
The night began with an orientation talk by Megan, outlining how feminism had changed since the second wave of the late 1960s and early 1970s. The main shift she noted was a dangerous move into an individualist identity politics of ‘choice’ and ‘agency’ in which anything a woman does or says has become interpreted as a feminist statement because a woman does or says it. The loss of words to define women’s experience (e.g., oppression, subordination, degradation, class consciousness, male supremacy, sexist), and how this loss prevents us from naming our condition, was also commented on.
Megan then went on to describe the ‘3 Ps’ — patriarchy, pornography, and prostitution — and how they are affecting the lives of women and girls. In particular, the industrial elements of the so-called ‘sex trade’ and porn were exposed. For example, the prostitution industry’s dishonest use of language to obscure what happens to people who are prostituted was pointed out (e.g., ‘business practices’ to mean ‘pimping’, ‘contract breach’ to mean ‘rape’, ‘international marriage community’ to mean ‘sex trafficking’), as was porn’s eroticisation of male violence towards women, and the inherent sexualisation of women’s subordination in pornographic imagery.
Finally, the case was made for why a women-only group. It was strongly argued that women need to be free to speak without continually editing their speech for men. It was important, Megan said, for women to be able to define the terms of their own oppression and to be able to organise — without the fear of ‘offending’ men — to fight that oppression.
If you want to read the presentation in full, then download Megan’s WAAC launch speaking notes.
A representative from Collective Shout then took the floor to give an overview of how that organisation campaigns against the objectification of women and the sexualisation of girls. She shared some of Collective Shout’s wins, including the recent dismissal by the Federal Court in Brisbane of an application brought against Collective Shout by Sexpo Limited regarding the display of ads on public busses that included the web address for one of Sexpo’s sponsors, a broadcaster of live streamed sex shows. Talk about a win for David against Goliath!
The night ended with some fun stuff, such as a basic IQ assessment to determine whether or not audience members could identify sexism in Honey Birdette’s hilarious helicopter shoot; a spot-the-difference test, to see if the Women of WAAC know what a clitoris is and where it’s located, even if Teen Vogue doesn’t; a ‘Name That Feminist’ quiz, which showed us how much we knew about men and how little about women; and a quiz that asked some basic questions about feminism, such as, ‘Feminists see men as a) superior, b) equal, or c) inferior’. We were warned that it was a trick question! The final game was ‘Sexism Bingo’, as we flew through sexist, after sexist, after sexist word and saying. Fun — but scary.
Our first official meeting will be held in early June. If you’re in The Loop, you’ll know the details of where and what time. We don’t want to advertise our meetings too much at this stage because of, you know, trolls and all that. But if you’d like to learn more, then email firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll keep you in The Loop.