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All About Women: A day of being awed and inspired

I attended the All about Women festival as part of the Ideas at the House series at the Sydney Opera House yesterday. Left home around 9 in the morning to get to the Opera House by 10ish for a 10:45 start. {Trust my luck when the Illawarra line decided to have trackwork!}

Anyway I got to the Opera House and was gobsmacked at the crowds! Let’s face it — this is the first event of this kind I’ve been to. And the crowds seemed as big as the ones I see when I go to rock concerts. I guess I wasn’t expecting to see so many feminists.

The first session I attended was a conversation on How to be brave and to me, it touched a very personal note given my ability to be brave this year and step out of my comfort zone. True, it’s nowhere near the bravery displayed by the two guests on the panel {Audette Exel & Virginia Haussegger} but in my own way, I’m facing my own fears of meeting new people and doing things I wouldn’t normally do.

Following that, I attended Dr. Brooke Magnanti’s talk about Sex Myths and why we believe them. To me what she did more than just bust some myths about sex was possibly talk about how the media hype things by presenting shock statistics. And coming from a research background, I knew she made perfect sense when she talked about the studies cited for these stats and how as lay people we just buy it without learning about sample sizes, effect sizes, controlled trials, co-relational studies etc. Anyway, without getting too nerdy, she busted the myth that women only have sex as a means to an end (the end being companionship) and once they get that, sex is off the table {Yeah, right!}. I also thought that she was incredibly cool to be a nerd and also an ex-sex worker!

Post the sex myths talk, I attended The Young Ones and must admit was left a bit flat with this. I thought Clementine Ford had some amazing questions and leads but the conversation just kinda fell or tapered off by Sarah Clark and Nicole Beaumont. Which is a shame because it would have been a great opportunity for women in their early twenties to show how feminism is cool for a younger generation.

Leymah Gbowee spoke about The Power of Women and Girls. And was she fantastic or what?! She received a couple of standing ovations. I felt so inspired after hearing her speak and felt that I needed to get off my arse and do something about women’s rights. And she made me believe that I could do it! I really have to get my hands on her book!

I wanted to stay for Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s talk on being Free and Equal but was torn and chose instead to attend a conversation on Invisible Women between Brooke Magnanti, Nikki Gemmell and Tara Moss. Once again, this was something slightly relatable in that they did talk about writing /blogging under a pseudonym. But one thing Tara Moss said stood out for me and it was along the lines of how if we are writing under a pseudonym, we generally are from an already disadvantaged group or writing about something taboo. I guess in the case of published authors who use their initials and last name instead of their first name, being part of the disadvantaged group would hold true. But as a blogger who writes using a pseudonym (even though now my mum and a few people I know read my blog) this used to be the most empowering and liberating thing ever! I could write whatever I wanted without censoring things. {What possessed me to divulge details to people I know?!}

The evening saw a conversation I’d been looking forward to for a long time: Is Rape Culture everywhere? Hosted by Clementine Ford who is very passionate about rape and sick and tired of women being blamed, it made for an interesting topic. Kiran Grewal and Dixie Link-Gordon were the panellists and offered their own insights. I also learnt about enthusiastic consent…something which I didn’t know about. I’ll be blogging a lot more about all of this in future posts. The only gripe I had with this session — it was too short!!! I even tweeted about that…it should have been an hour or even longer. It touches a chord with almost everyone. I think a couple of people agreed with me. Including Clementine Ford.

tweet01

 

The debate on ‘Men can’t be feminists’ that followed this was brilliant! It was pretty light-hearted and good fun with valid points. The winner: Men can be feminists. And we really want them to be! The festival was wrapped up with a conversation on M is for Misogyny and asking the panellists whether they had been subject to misogyny as well as looking at our political leader and questioning whether she is copping flax for her gender more so than her policies. I did disagree with Ayaan Hirsi Ali who said that she thought white Western men couldn’t be misogynists because they would never be able to get the laws to change as happens in some Middle Eastern and African countries. Let’s just say she doesn’t know all about a certain opposition leader who banned an abortion pill for women when he was health minister among other things.

Yes, I was in the same room as these incredible women!

Yes, I was in the same room as these incredible women!

It was a fantastic event. I only got home at 10 p.m. but was still buzzing from all that I had taken in. My only regret was that I didn’t have Hermione’s time-turner thing to be able to attend sessions that were running concurrently. I felt so awed and inspired to be among the presence of such amazing women.

Additionally, I also met a young girl from the UK and we hit it off both being feminists and all. She is also incredible in that she worked as a human rights lawyer in India of all places for a few months and saw some horrific stuff. And she tells me that my job must be hard! 😐

I am so glad I went.

And so grateful I had the opportunity to listen to some brilliant and inspirational women.

Feminism is alive and kicking my friends!

Until next time,

Cheers!!!

 

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  • Reply
    missRBit
    April 9, 2013 at 10:30 pm

    That sounds awesome PB. What an interesting event. I would have love to go 🙂
    missRBit recently posted…New siteMy Profile

  • Reply
    missRBit
    April 9, 2013 at 10:30 pm

    That sounds awesome PB. What an interesting event. I would have love to go 🙂
    missRBit recently posted…New siteMy Profile

  • Reply
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