Director's Cut: 5 things you can do to positively impact upon gender equality

Last year, our Director Madeline hosted 'The Weekly' - a weekly blog post pertaining to feminist issues. This year, it is the 'Director's Cut'. Stay tuned for more blogs from our National Director and Founder, Madeline Price

Today I had the absolute privilege to speak to a diverse group of 86 Year 9 students from schools across Brisbane, at the Anglican Church Grammar School (Churchie) annual Gender Summit. With my fellow panelists I had the opportunity to hear the stories of these young people, explore poignant issues in gender equality, and answer their incredible questions. 

One such question was from a young boy, eager to know what he could do in his everyday life to further the cause of global gender equality.

In light of this, here are my top 5 tips for things you can do to positively impact upon gender equality in your everyday life! 

1. If you see sexism, misogyny or inequality in your daily life, call it out (or call it in).

When you see sexism, or misogyny, or other forms of inequality in society, use this as an opportunity to call it out, or call it in. 

Calling it out is publicly confronting the issue - maybe it is a colleague at work who made a sexist joke, and you outright say 'I do not find that funny'. Maybe it is a classmate at university who wolf whistles a passerby and you ask them why they thought public sexual harassment was okay to do.

Calling it in is confronting the issue in private, such as pulling aside your colleague at a later time to explain why that sexist joke was inappropriate. 

2. If you have children, or work with children, or know children (you probably do), use time with them as opportunities to explore gender roles and stereotypes.

Kids are our future, and if we can educate them young about gender roles and stereotypes, then we are well on our way to creating a more equal society.

If you have children, or work with children, use this time with them as opportunities for education and engagement. It could be as simple as asking them to think more critically about why they want to play with a particular toy (is it because they want to or because they think they are meant to?). It could be exploring in depth why their teacher saying 'he pulls your hair because he likes you' could be problematic.

Use these opportunities to educate.

3. Watch War of Waste or a similar environmentalism documentary.

Whilst environmentalism may appear far removed from the feminist movement and the movement towards global gender equality, they are intrinsically linked - the majority of individuals impacted by issues of climate change, rising sea levels, environmental destruction and food shortage are women and children.

Educate yourself on environmentalism and minimising waste, and on how closely linked gender and the environment are. 

4. Reflect upon your own unconscious bias and internalised thoughts.

There is this old adage that, when you see a woman in a short skirt walking down the street, your first thought (the one that goes 'Oh that is short! She shouldn't be wearing that!') is the thought that society has taught you to believe. 

Your second thought (the one that goes 'Wait! What the hell brain?! Why would I think that! She should be able to wear whatever she wants! You do you girl!') is the thought that reflects who you are as a person. 

It is worthwhile taking the time to discover, recognise, acknowledge and work on changing your own internal biases, stereotypes and prejudices. Because if we do not acknowledge they exist, we cannot do anything to change them.

This does not say that you are a terrible person, but simply that you are the product of a society that raised you to think in a particular way - and we need to change that thinking.

5. Join something!

Finally, if you have the time, accessibility and ability, you should join something to further the movement towards global gender equality.

Whether it is your local women's AFL team and you further the visibility of women in sport in Australia, or a local non-for-profit dedicated to gender education (have you seen all of our available roles?), or an online Facebook group exploring how to life a waste-free life, join the movement towards global gender equality.

Because together, we can make a difference. <3 

Director's Cut: Sometimes the most feminist thing you can do is to simply exist

Last year, our Director Madeline hosted 'The Weekly' - a weekly blog post pertaining to feminist issues. This year, it is the 'Director's Cut'. Stay tuned for more blogs from our National Director and Founder, Madeline Price

I regularly get emails from young people who are passionate about feminism, or have questions about feminism and gender equality, or who want to start their own movement towards equality in their local community. These emails and messages are my favourite part* of being the National Director of the One Woman Project and, every time I receive one, it inspires me to keep going in this growing movement. 

A few weeks ago, I received one of these emails from Kelly, from San Francisco in the United States of America. 

Kelly had only just entered high school, but had been educated in and knowledgeable about gender equality (and other forms of structural oppression) her entire life. Kelly emphasised: 

"I know that throughout the history of human life, women have been worse than men, and treated as less than men. I understand that there are serious hate crimes against women, and that in some places today women are given no voice. I know that in our society today, women are given an unreasonable stereotypical body image to fit into. I also understand that there is a wage gap, throughout my mom’s career working as a lawyer several times she has encountered this. I know women’s bodies are sexualized, that through media they are misrepresented, and through common phrases such as “boys will be boys” women are constantly put down."

Kelly knew intricately every aspect of the feminist movement and the issues in the fight for equality. 

But she was disillusioned. She was no longer passionate about feminism - she knew it was important and that she should care about it, but could not bring herself to protest its cause, or engage in arguments over everyday sexism with her friends, or "feel anything" about feminism. 

She acknowledged her privilege may be a factor in feeling disillusioned towards the feminist movement: 

"Maybe I feel this way because as a woman living in San Francisco in a high socioeconomic status I never will experience the worst effects of sexism. I know why I should be enraged about this issue, but I’m not anymore... I'm tired."

Kelly was tired. She was tired and disillusioned - she felt that this fight was getting to the point of being unwinnable and, to some extent, the movement towards equality appeared to be going backwards. She was feeling sexism fatigue and a lack of power in creating actual change. 

And, as a I read through Kelly's email, I knew exactly how she felt. 

Because I have also felt exactly the same way.

Social justice and social movement building can be hard. Sometimes it can be feel like all your hard work in educating young people about sexual harassment and consent is completely undone when you leave the workshop and an individual on the street catcalls you. 

Sometimes, when you reflect on the state of the world, it can seem like the feminist movement of old and today's activists have been completely erased from history. 

Sometimes, moving forward and changing the world can feel impossible.

When I wrote back to Kelly, I told her all of this. I told her that sometimes, I feel exactly the same way.

And then I told her the most important thing that someone once told me - sometimes the most feminist thing you can do is simply to live. 

Because the most powerful thing an oppressed and marginalised group can do is to simply survive. 

*You should send me an email! I love hearing and connecting with other feminists and individuals passionate about global gender equality. Also, I love all memes ever. Hit me up at director@onewomanproject.org! 

'It Takes Strength': A recap of the discussion on domestic violence in Queensland

Fast Facts

  • It’s important to remember that domestic violence is a local issue and is happening in our community. 

  • There are social, economic, cultural and legal complexities of domestic violence that often leads women back to their violent partners.  

  • Economic: limited to no access to resources such as food and shelter 

  •   Social: seeking help for LGBTIQ individuals can be even more difficult as they are confronted by a    mostly cisgender heterosexual support sector 

  • Cultural: diversity of language, religion and cultural practices increase difficulty to access support

  • Legal: for women who have partnership visas their right to services are undermined if their partner suspends support of their visa. Ultimately isolating these women from any social, financial and legal supports in Australia. 

Last week I had the opportunity to attend ‘It Takes Strength’, a panel discussion about domestic violence support systems and issues in the Brisbane area. Hosted at local community book store Avid Reader, the message that domestic violence exists within the Brisbane community was profound. Both anecdotal and research evidence was brought forward by an excellent panel consisting of Beata Ostapiej-Piatkowksi (Manager of Mercy Community Services), Yasmin Khan (Eidfest Community Services), Belinda Cox (Brisbane Domestic Violence Service) and Melissa Gampe (Griffith University researcher). Reminding us of the shocking but not unfamiliar vulnerability to violence is the statistic that on average one woman a week dies at the hand of her partner or former partner in Australia. The impact of these crimes are wide spread as Belinda Cox emphasised explaining that last year Brisbane Domestic Violence Service assisted 4000 women in the Queensland area and that each of those women had family, friends, colleagues and acquaintances that stretched right across the community. 

Aligning with One Woman values of intersectional feminism Yasmin Khan and Beata Ostapiej-Piatkowksi spoke specifically to the additional difficulties faced by women of different cultural backgrounds. Their stories and discussions revealed that within some cultures and traditions violence in relationships is a silent and unspoken experience making it almost impossible for women to seek help. This can be exacerbated by family pressures to remain married or the visa implications of separating. These elements as well as language, understanding and tolerance can further isolate women from traditional services in the community. 

Continuing to demonstrate an intersectional approach to this issue was Melissa Gampe who is researching the impact of intimate partner violence in same sex, bi-sexual and trans relationships. Melissa explained that a lack of knowledge of the LQBTIQ group within the wider community adds an additional dimension of isolation from law enforcement and traditional support service providers. Partners can use their sexual identity to threaten and intimidate making it even more difficult to leave. 

These experiences represent a complex web of cultural, economic, social and legal factors that effect women suffering abuse in the Brisbane community. The panelists widely agreed that the key to changing these experiences lies in more funding for services, increased availability of specific services for women from different cultural or gender backgrounds as well as more education for service providers and the general public. 

If you or anyone you know is experiencing domestic violence you can call the Domestic Violence Hotline on 1800 811 811 or Eidfest Community Services on 0419 025 510. Additional information for the LGBTIQ community can be found at http://www.anothercloset.com.au/. 

Director's Cut: Five documentaries to inspire your activism

Last year, our Director Madeline hosted 'The Weekly' - a weekly blog post pertaining to feminist issues. This year, it is the 'Director's Cut'. Stay tuned for more blogs from our National Director and Founder, Madeline Price

Every so often, I have a week.

Now a week is not just like any regular week, a week is one that leaves you emotionally and physically exhausted.

A week might be where you have experienced too many instances of everyday sexism and microagressions to count.

A week might be where you watched waaay too many Law and Order: SVU episodes that did not have a happy ending and you're disillusioned by the Western world's justice system.

A week might be one filled with misogynist-fueled attacks of terror against groups of young women. 

This week has been a week.

Now, when I become disillusioned, or emotionally exhausted, or need something to re-inspire and reinvigorate my activism, I turn to documentaries. 

And these are my top five documentaries to re-inspire me to keep fighting the good feminist fight (and they are all on Australian Netflix!). 

The Hunting Ground

The Hunting Ground is a piercing, monumental exposé of rape culture on campuses, poised to light a fire under a national debate. In a tour de force of verité footage, expert insights, and first-person testimonies, the film follows undergraduate rape survivors pursuing both their education and justice, despite ongoing harassment and the devastating toll on them and their families. It inspires you to take action on sexual harassment and assault both on campus, but in everyday life.

Cooked

Whilst many people would not consider a documentary series about the history of food to be very feministy, food history, cooking and the future of food security is intrinsically linked to gender roles. Explored through the lenses of the four natural elements – fire, water, air and earth – Cooked is an enlightening and compelling look at the evolution of what food means to us through the history of food preparation and its universal ability to connect us. Highlighting our primal human need to cook, the series urges a return to the kitchen to reclaim our lost traditions and to forge a deeper, more meaningful connection to the ingredients and cooking techniques that we use to nourish ourselves.

The True Cost

Filmed in countries all over the world, from the brightest runways to the darkest slums, and featuring interviews with the world’s leading influencers including Stella McCartney, Livia Firth and Vandana Shiva, The True Cost is an unprecedented project that invites us on an eye opening journey around the world and into the lives of the many people and places behind our clothes. It explores the environmental impacts of cheap clothing, the educational impacts and the social impacts upon the people who make cheap clothes.

She's Beautiful When She's Angry

She's Beatuiful When She's Angry resurrects the buried history of the outrageous, often brilliant women who founded the modern women’s movement from 1966 to 1971.   She's Beatuiful When She's Angry takes us from the founding of NOW, with ladies in hats and gloves, to the emergence of more radical factions of women’s liberation; from intellectuals like Kate Millett to the street theatrics of W.I.T.C.H. (Women’s International Conspiracy from Hell!).  Artfully combining dramatizations, performance and archival imagery, the film recounts the stories of women who fought for their own equality, and in the process created a world-wide revolution. 

Mission Blue

In addition to intersectional feminism, I am passionate about ecofeminism and the impact that environmental changes can have upon the worlds most vulnerable - women and children are the most likely to live in extreme poverty, women and children are impacted the most from climate change and so forth. And that is why I love Mission Blue. Mission Blue is a fantastic documentary which explores the life and work of oceanographer, marine biologist, and environmentalist Sylvia Earle. It views conservation in the light of the impact of women entering into the field.

Bonus: Last Chance to See

And because I can never stick to lists of five, my bonus inspirational documentary is Last Chance to See. This documentary Stephen Fry and zoologist Mark Carwardine head to the ends of the Earth in search of animals on the edge of extinction, which, although sounding like a saddening premise, is one of the most inspirational things you can watch. If species on the edge of extinction can be brought back to full populations, what can't we do?

But these are just the documentaries that inspire my activism - what inspires you after a week?

Director's Cut: We do not need to 'empower' girls, we need to upskill them

Last year, our Director Madeline hosted 'The Weekly' - a weekly blog post pertaining to feminist issues. This year, it is the 'Director's Cut'. Stay tuned for more blogs from our National Director and Founder, Madeline Price

Last week I had the privilege of attending a breakfast at Ipswich Girls Grammar School celebrating their young leaders, with a keynote address from journalist, author and political commentator Madonna King. 

Madonna spoke of her recently released book, Being 14, the research that she undertook on fourteen-year-old girls, the increase in calls to the Kids Helpline by young girls in this age category (in the past four years, 20 000 fourteen-year-old girls have called), the relationship between young men and sexual education through online porn (and the impact that this has upon teenage relationships), and the increase in diagnosed anxiety amongst young women.

And then, she said this line - 'So we need to empower our young women'. 

This is a line I have heard before - heck, this is a line I have said before! - from politicians, public speakers, authors, feminists, anti-feminists, advocates, business people, teachers, everyone. 

We need to empower our young women.

This is a line that exists to demonstrate the importance of building up our young women, of raising our girls like we raise our boys (with the belief that they can conquer the world), of embedding in them feelings of power, of resilience, of drive, of passion. 

But what I have come to realise, is that our young women, our young girls, do not need to be empowered. They have spent their entire lives being told 'you can do anything you put your mind to', 'you can change the world', 'you can achieve in [insert industry, or sport, or classroom subject here]'. There are stickers and campaigns and television shows all dedicated to the slogan - Girls can do anything! 

Our young girls and women know that they can 'do anything'. 

They just do not know how to do it, or, more specifically, how to do it in a society that discourages them at every step of the way (#patriarchy). 

Studies in the United States of America have shown that, from a young age, equal numbers of young boys and young girls want to become the President of the USA. By age 15, the gap in young boys who still want to fulfill this dream, and young girls who have given up on it, is growing. By the time we reach the actual levels of women in these political positions of power, it is a sea of homogeneous male faces.

It is not that our young women do not have the passion, or the drive, or the skills to become President (or, in Australia, Prime Minister), they simply do not have the knowledge to do so in a patriarchal society (and the gendered advantage provided to their peers). 

We need to stop telling our young girls and women that 'they can do anything' and, instead, upskill them to do it. 

We need to stop telling our young girls and women that they 'can be Prime Minister (or President)', and instead teach them how to run for office, how to expose discriminatory political practices, how to engage with a constantly contradictory mainstream media (or better yet, we could show them). 

Now, I know Madonna would agree with this point - and her perspective on 'empowering' young girls would also reflect 'upskilling' young girls - but I think we need to change our language, and our actions. 

We need to start creating our future leaders not by telling them they can do it, but by teaching them how.

And, as a personal pet project of mine within the One Woman Project, I will be doing just that.

The One Woman Project will be introducing a 'Director's Series', led by myself, dedicated to teaching young girls and women (and feminist ally men) the skills they need to be empowered.

Our first series?

How to Become a Prime Minister - a four week series covering the background of Australian politics (and how to choose your political party/independency), how to run for office, public speaking and engagement with the media, and an introduction to policymaking. 

Keep an eye out on our Facebook page, website and Instagram for more details in the coming weeks! 

But for now, let's change 'empower' to 'upskill', and we can change the world. 

Madeline Price
National Director and Founder

Are you interested in the image we used? Read more about Australia's Film Cooperatives (and the women behind them) here.

Contradictions by Emma Di Bernardo

Here at the One Woman Project, we love profiling young people doing incredible things - such as this piece of literary work by Emma Di Bernardo

Contradictions

One hundred and eight.
One hundred and eight years of celebrating herstory
Written in textbooks by cis-gendered men
Who probably think that label meant
Sisssssterhood.
Damn feminists, destroying our language. 
One hundred and eight years of this International Day
And we are still living a contradiction of both holding power
And sitting with the fact that it's only a matter of time before we become a statistic.
One in three. One in four. One in six.
Black and white photos tell us these binary oppositions are in the past
Like languages whipped out of Indigenous women in missions
Mission statements from iconic feminists saying "it's only for real women!"
But I turn on the TV and straight allies are winning Grammy's for rapping about what queer people have been screening for years.
My friends' identities are dismissed because the feminist movement just got everyone okay with sex, and we don't need you telling us that some people don't even want it at all.
White girls like me with microphones are telling refugees' stories
Explaining racial prejudice while lacking authority.
There are survivors of hate and inhumanity that don't fit the narrative of our deaf sisters who lost their lives to the second World War

Because their beautiful dancing fingers weren't seen as quills and ink of a respectable language; because acknowledging other persecuted groups today means we won't have enough Judeo-Christian values in our classroom

The leftist bias of the National Curriculum is making children forget where to put a comma
And god damn it, that's what we need in our lives
Another punctuated pause. 
Beauty cream ads tell us to love our bodies
Because it's already been ten years in our history since Dove helped us soak in real beauty with their luxurious moisturiser. 
Women march at Reclaim the Night in 1979
And thirty-eight years later, I text my friends after the march to make sure they got home safe.
We need to open our minds
To the silent narratives
We need to open our hearts
To take in the hidden stories
Of years gone past and years not yet dreamed of
To fix the contradiction of the experience of women.