Wibbly Wobbly Girly Whirly: Sci-Fi and Girl Power

Words: Jessica Sheridan

Whovians are all astir this week following the BBC’s casting announcement for the next Doctor. It’s typically an exciting time for fans of Doctor Who, whose central character has the ability to conveniently regenerate into a new body every couple of seasons. It’s a clever plot device, and perhaps the main reason the show has had such a long run time.

Previously the role has had a parade of actors filling in for the Tardis-driving alien from Galifrey, including most recently Peter Capaldi, Matt Smith and David Tenant. And while they all brought their own flavour and zest to the role, they have all had a lot in common – notably:

They were all men.

Which is fine, for the record. Characters have to have some form of identity and it just so happened that for the last 36 seasons the Doctor was male. It was perhaps a little problematic that his companions were usually female, and usually in love with him, establishing an undeniable power imbalance. But that’s another topic for another day. For now, my point is simply that the Doctor just so happened to be male until now and that was fine.

Enter Jodie Whittaker who has been cast to play the 13th Doctor. Jodie Whittaker. A woman. And that is fine.

Viral Meme

Of course the reaction has been exactly what you’d expect: disappointing. Many people voiced their concerns about Whittaker, often beginning with the classic “I’m not a sexist, but…” caveat that people still think excuses their sexism. Many people made derogatory comments at Whittaker’s expense, some threatened they would boycott the show, and one media outlet responded by posting naked photos of Whittaker in their coverage of the announcement. Real classy, guys.

To clarify, I’m not disappointed in the casting choice. I’m not too familiar with Whittaker’s work, but up until now they haven’t got it wrong when it comes to casting everyone’s favourite alien, so why would they start now? I have faith that she will make an excellent Doctor, as I’m sure she has already proven to the show creators.

But there is a very, very, very vocal minority (yes – a minority) that is throwing a tantrum because their precious Doctor is regenerating as a woman.

The Doctor. A timelord. A character not from this world. An alien. The last of their kind (in the new series at least). A creature with two hearts and strange powers and a space ship that looks like a police box but it’s bigger on the inside and can travel through space and time. People are having a fit because this Doctor – this impossible character – is now a woman.

Imagine literally being angry that, after 36 seasons of male Doctors, they decided to try out a female Doctor? Imagine masculinity so fragile that one woman in a crowd of men was enough to send the internet into a spin?

Twitter statistics indicating that around 80% of users reacted positively to the announcement. But 20% of people are mad. Fingers have been pointed at ‘social justice warriors’ and ‘feminazis’ and people being ‘too politically correct’ for ruining their favourite sci-fi show. But in their fickle rage they have perhaps forgotten that this announcement was a long time coming. Because sci-fi has always been progressive.

Mary Shelley. Image – famousauthors.org

When you consider the origins of sci-fi it should come as no surprise that we have landed here – with a female Doctor. Mary Shelley is often credited with the first true work of modern science fiction with her story Frankenstein. Shelley was one of very few female authors in her time, and faced many setbacks in her career based on her gender. But she pushed through, and ended up writing one of the most infamous characters in literature history – Frankenstein’s Monster.

Since these empowering origins, the genre has taken leaps and bounds in reflecting societal progress. After all, consider the meat of the genre. Science fiction plots often centre on futuristic science experiments and exploration of the unknown – progress is at the heart of the genre. Why would science fiction – which pushes the limits of the imagination and presents life as it could be – fall at the mercy of outdated gender norms?

Princess Leia. Image: starwars.com

Science fiction has produced some of the best heroines in all of fiction. Princess Leia, who later becomes General Organa, is an iconic character layered in feminism and general baddassary. Sarah Conner is pivotal in the Terminator franchise and fights her own battles to keep her son safe. Dana Scully from the X Files kicks just as much ass in her role as Special Agent, and even Leela from Futurama cannot be discounted for her heroism in the midst of comedic disaster.

Doctor Who itself has produced some amazingly strong female side characters, such as Riversong, Donna Noble, and Martha Jones. Strong women can be found all throughout sci-fi; perhaps not always in the spotlight, but they are there. They have been for some time.

But it’s time to step off the sidelines and into the spotlight. Out of the romantic subplot and into the crux of it all. We have these strong female characters, but now it’s time to put them into leading roles where all strong role models belong. Because representation does matter, and it’s important that girls see strong women leading the way from time to time – if not at least half of the time.

We need to embrace lead characters that are different and not feel threatened by them. We need to make room for women and minorities to make equal contributions without lashing out and demanding that they sacrifice one of their few beloved minority leads as payment for every new lead. And we need to give media the chance to progress forward, and not resist change so forcefully if just for the sake of resisting.

Featured Image: Jodie Whittaker from denofgeek.com

11 Reasons Why Amber Rose’s SlutWalk Image is Transformative & Changes Social Discourse

Amber Rose is a feminist icon, trailblazer and champion of body positivity and women’s empowerment. She created the Amber Rose SlutWalk which is about to embark on its 3rd Annual strut on October 1st. The Amber Rose SlutWalk has a mission to put an end to slut shaming, sexual violence, victim blaming, derogatory labels, and gender inequality. And to ‘impact and uplift, while shifting the paradigm of rape culture’.

amber rose
Source: Facebook/Amber Rose

Recently, Amber Rose posted an image to social media promoting the 2017 Amber Rose SlutWalk. The image featured her slaying and embracing body positivity – pubic hair and all – and we love it! Unsurprisingly though, it offended many people’s delicate sensibilities. Instagram deleted the post as quickly as people slut shamed her.

Here’s the thing, whether you like it or not, Amber Rose’s image is transformative and is necessary for changing social discourse.

Here’s 11 reasons why:

1.   It demystifies the shame and taboo around women’s sexuality. Plain and simple.

2.   It desensitises us to the hyper-sexualisation of women’s bodies – which is very important in a world where women can’t breastfeed their babies in public because of this hyper-sexualisation of our bodies.

3.   It tackles rape culture head on – by making a strong statement that women ‘ARE NOT ASKING FOR IT’ if they ‘reveal too much’ (And besides sexual assault and rape HAPPENS regardless of what someone is wearing/not wearing)

4.   Based on the intense level of slut shaming she is receiving – it highlights a gross double standard, that it’s okay for women to be objectified in society but it’s not okay for a woman, through her own volition, to feel empowered by her body and sexuality.

5.   It smashes the harmful stigma and social expectations that women – perpetuated by pornography – MUST be fully-shaven/trimmed downstairs often JUST to appease the male gaze.

6.   Based on the intense level of people criticising her for having pubic hair (A COMPLETELY NATURAL THING) – it shows just how much our bodies are policed to fit ridiculous and outdated attitudes/expectations of what our bodies should look like. And by extension it shows the price women pay for non-conformity.

7.   Based on the intensity and number of women slut shaming Amber Rose by saying she has no respect for herself shows quite clearly how much internalised misogyny is present in our society.

8.   The fact that people want to vilify her by bringing her child into this by saying things like ‘your son is going to grow up being so ashamed of his mother’ is skewed, puritanical and archaic. This photo and her efforts with the Amber Rose SlutWalk show just how courageous she is. That she is willing to challenge the harmful status quo, that she is liberating so many women from the chains of shame, that she is leading with confidence and example by showing the world that women’s sexuality and women’s bodies are nothing short of beautiful. This is something that would make her child proud.

9.   This isn’t going ‘too far’, it isn’t tasteless, crass or indecent. It is necessary to be bold and confront the issues noted ABOVE ^^^^ because at best it changes the way we view women, and at worst, it at least gets us talking.

10.    I’ve also seen the silly argument being thrown around – ‘but if men did this, it would be a whole different story’. You’re right – it would. And that’s a whole different conversation that we can all have too. But quite frankly that’s not what we’re talking about in this particular instance. We are talking about the harmful treatment, expectations and attitudes toward women that stem from a deeply-ingrained place in our society.





Trading Pleasure for Consent

Let’s get one thing straight: stealthing is sexual assault.

You could be forgiven for not knowing what stealthing is, except that is part of the problem. Recently the HuffPost claimed stealthing was a ‘new sex practice’, but since then people all over the world have been coming forward and telling their stories, implying there is nothing new going on here. We are just finally talking about it.

The term itself is fairly new and the internet has been quick to inject the phrase into the online lexicon. But in case you’re still not familiar with it allow me to summarise:

Stealthing is the act whereby one party removes the condom during sex without the other party’s knowledge or consent. Gross, right?

The recent surge of online debate over stealthing began when Alexandra Brodsky of Yale Law School posted a study suggesting that the trend was on the rise in the US and calling for new laws to concretely safeguard victims.

Source: Instagram/@honestly_quotes

In recent years, courts from all over the world have found stealthing to be a clear breach of bodily integrity and a non-consensual sexual act. Bills have been introduced in the US to criminalise it in California and Wisconsin, and a similar piece of legislation is under consideration in the UK.

Now that you know what stealthing means you’re probably thinking ‘Oh, I’ve heard stories about that. Hasn’t that been going on for ages?’ And the sad truth is yes, it probably has. The development of sexual assault and other crimes of a sexual nature, as they are defined under the law, has been painstakingly slow. Some parts of Australia had no laws against marital rape until 1987, and we only managed to introduce legislation criminalising image-based abuse, commonly referred to as ‘revenge porn’ this year. We’ve been well behind the game.

This slow progress can also be seen in stealthing. There have been no cases of stealthing brought before the courts in Australia, and no legislation specifically mentions the ramifications if protection is removed during intercourse without both parties consenting. I can understand the law being slow if it is catching up with technology, but condoms aren’t exactly the latest and greatest in contraception. So what’s the deal?

If I were a betting woman – and I’m not, but if I were – I would guess that the reason there has been no action in this area of law is because nobody is reporting it. Like most issues with sexual assault, it all comes down to whether the victims step forward. And as usual this comes with a whole other mix of problems, from not understanding that what happened was ‘assault’, to not wanting to get a friend or loved one in trouble. One account online of a victim of stealthing also noted that the police did not take her matter seriously when she gave her statement. Sound familiar?

Time and time again victims of sexual assault are having to fight against this overriding theme that consent is not as important as pleasure. Allegations of rape always contain questions over whether the victim was ‘asking for it’ or whether the victim simply regretted it the next day. Sex is fun, sex is pleasurable, people love to have sex! So victims are asked if they are sure they didn’t consent, and if they are sure it was rape. Because to some people any sex is still sex.

Stealthing is the ultimate example of this. Offenders remove the condom, most typically because they can experience more pleasure without it, be it from the physical experience or the feeling of degrading the other party. And in exchange for this pleasure is the consent of the victim, who has no idea that the terms upon which they agreed to have intercourse have been rewritten.

Imagine sex like a contract. Both parties put forward their terms. Lights off. Reciprocal orgasms. But most importantly: a condom. Then during the execution of the contract the terms are changed. And not just any term, but one of the big ones. One of the terms that protects a party’s physical autonomy – the term that protects them from falling pregnant or potentially contracting an STI. That shield is literally taken away.

If you agreed to enter a boxing match on the condition you wear protective gear, wouldn’t you be angry if half way through the match they took your helmet away and continued to punch you?

So while Australian law remains silent on stealthing, it is important that victims don’t. Men, women and non-binary victims who have had their bodily integrity compromised by the selfishness of another. People who have been violated and assaulted by offenders who have consistently gone unpunished.

Stealthing is not a prank. It is not a joke. There is nothing funny about sexual assault.

And as far as I’m concerned that’s all stealthing is: sexual assault. And the sooner we stop trying to divert the conversation about sex-based crimes with discussions centered around pleasure, the better.

Featured Image: Encouraging Life Organisation which provides services on ‘reproductive, sexual health and comprehensive sex education’

Is Body Neutrality the New Body Positivity?

The body positivity movement encourages women, of all different sizes, shapes and colours to love their bodies. The movement inspires women to practice self-love – undeterred by body shaming and all the harmful, unattainable and unrealistic expectations and standards of beauty placed upon women in this looks-obsessed world that we live in. It also teaches women that they are more than just their bodies.

Picture: Love Your Body Campaign http://www.nowfoundation.org

The body positivity movement says #effyourbeautystandards because #allwomenarebeautiful. It says – I’m choosing to love and embrace my figure, jiggly bits, weight, stretch marks, cellulite, blemishes, body hair and natural hair DESPITE what society tells me is/is not beautiful.

As someone who ABSOLUTELY adores the body positivity movement, lives by it and actively encourages friends to practice it – I’ve never really stopped to think about how much effort and time it takes to practice self-love under the model of body positivity.

To ask someone to love their perceived ‘flaws’ instantaneously can be very difficult. Not all women can just magically become body positive, especially when women are conditioned to hate themselves; when women are told that they need to look a certain in order to be happy, that they must have perfect hair, skin, eyebrows, lips, lashes, jaw structures, boobs, butts, legs, thighs and VAGINAS (YES – labiaplasty is not uncommon). Literally every damn aspect of our bodies ‘could be improved’ according to society’s standards. And on top of that women are constantly pitted against each other in this ‘who wore it better culture’ instead of ‘they both slayed culture’. IT’S EXHAUSTING.

Ashley Graham
Picture: Ashley Graham – Facebook

So, not only is it already difficult enough for women to love themselves. But – sadly – even when women do practice body positivity they can be criticised and shamed by other women. Ashley Graham built the #BeautyBeyondSize hashtag, and has championed the body positivity movement. In a Lenny Letter, she explains that while she is a curvy woman, she is criticised and shamed for going to the gym and accused of selling out when she looks skinnier. Graham says that she isn’t just representing ‘plus size’ women, she’s there for “all women who don’t feel comfortable in their skin, who need a reminder that their unique bodies are beautiful.”

The thing is, can we as a society really view our unique bodies as ‘beautiful’? Our ‘imperfections’ as beautiful? And by extension – can we learn to view our own ‘imperfections’ as beautiful? I sure hope and believe so, but I ask this because when actress and comedian, Amy Schumer posed for the Pirelli Calendar in 2016, she was called ‘brave’ rather than ‘beautiful’ for showing her body as it is. And I think that this ‘brave’ over ‘beauty’ response by people is extremely telling. It suggests that maybe we as a society have been so conditioned by what society deems is beautiful, that society is unable or unwilling to see the beauty in our ‘imperfections’, even with the body positive movement gaining significant traction. (But hey, isn’t that why we have the body positive movement – because FUCK what society thinks is beautiful).

Picture: Amy Schumer, Pirelli Calendar by Annie Leibovitz

Reflects momentarily

I wonder though, does the body positivity movement place too much of a focus on our physical appearance? The body positive movement may teach women that they are more than just their bodies, but does it really do that?

Lately, this idea of ‘body neutrality’ has emerged and could change the way we view our bodies. According to Christine Morgan, CEO of The Butterfly Foundation, a foundation that supports people with body image issues and eating disorders, explains that body neutrality is “changing the conversation and taking the focus off judging your body. It’s looking at your body as being an instrument that propels you through life, not one that equates you as being good or bad or successful as a person.” According to Melissa A. Fabello, body acceptance activist and Co-Managing Editor of Everyday Feminism, “body neutrality is freedom from the obsession with our bodies entirely.

According to Autumn Whitefield-Madrano, author of Face Value: The Hidden Ways Beauty Shapes Women’s Lives, “body love, beside the fact that it’s a high standard, is it’s asking women to regulate their emotions, not just their bodies”. I guess, it’s no wonder that some women who try to practice body positivity still find themselves struggling to love themselves and experience fluctuations in how they feel about their body. According to Cassie Mendoza-Jones, author of You Are Enough, body neutrality is “a feeling of acceptance of where you are in your body journey today, a way to feel comfortable in your skin without feeling as though you’re investing all your waking time and energy into eating well, exercising and thinking about your body.”

I’ll be honest, I hadn’t heard about body neutrality until recently and it immediately reminded me of writer and artist, Rupi Kaur‘s stunning quote:Rupi Kaur Quote


I really do wonder whether the body positivity movement places too much of a focus on our physical appearance. But, I think that’s the wrong question. I believe women are just trying to find happiness in their own skin and rid themselves of the hate and shame they have been conditioned to feel in this highly superficial world. Whatever means by which a woman needs to do that, is something I will support.

Arguably, body neutrality and body positivity can still co-exist. Some women may reach a point in life where they just accept who they are and are almost indifferent to the harsh beauty expectations placed upon women. Some women may feel that embracing their bodies and at the same time knowing that their bodies do not define their worth, is what gives them happiness. It’s a matter of whatever works for you. Whatever makes you feel beautiful because all women deserve to feel beautiful.

Featured Image: Instagram (Curvy Craves)

The Price Women Pay for Embracing their Sexuality

I was just 10 years old when I hit puberty and I physically matured into a young woman very quickly.  I had C cups by the time I was 12 which made me the target of a lot of unwanted attention from a very early age. However, my body still hadn’t finished growing and soon I became known as the ‘girl with the big boobs’, whether I liked it or not.

Picture: Paige ‘Rampaige’ Halsey Warren

As a young girl with a body of a grown woman, things got really awkward. During my school years I would be so embarrassed to participate in sporting activities, especially running for obvious reasons. I wouldn’t dare to get undressed in the common areas of the changing rooms, I’d wait for the next free cubicle. And clothes just didn’t fit or if they did it was because I had stretched out the material to maximum capacity. The buttons on my school dresses would constantly break free.

In my teens I became acutely aware of how I would be perceived if I wore certain clothes. Things I wore always tended to look suggestive or provocative without even trying. Even if I wanted to wear such clothes my parents wouldn’t allow it. So, the only other option was to wear clothes that made me look and feel – and I mean no offence – like a nun. My sisters have always been petite and they could wear anything – singlets, backless tops, crop tops, but for some reason they didn’t look suggestive, so it was okay for them to wear whatever they wanted.

Picture: Paige ‘Rampaige’ Halsey Warren

I remember how I would CRY. I would throw the worst tantrums because I was frustrated. It felt so unfair that I couldn’t wear nice clothes because I was going to be perceived as attention-seeking, slutty and promiscuous, yet my sisters could wear whatever they wanted.

As I entered my late teens, like any other girl my age, I wanted to look and feel sexy. I felt so constricted and repressed that I couldn’t wear the clothes I wanted, so I started to rebel. My parents (who are the greatest and who I love very much) were not happy. ‘Have some self-respect’, don’t look like ‘trash’, ‘cover yourself’ they would say, as if there was something inherently shameful about my body. And for a moment in time I internalised that shame, that false correlation between what one wears and their self-respect, and the view that our bodies are somehow tied to our worth.

Me SLAYING – Present Day

However, it wasn’t long before I became ‘woke’ (a slang word for socially aware). I learnt about women’s sexual liberation. A movement that challenges traditional social expectations about how women should look, dress, talk and act, in relation to sexuality. And IT IS LIBERATING. IT IS EMPOWERING. TO OWN AND EMBRACE YOUR SEXUALITY. TO EXERCISE CHOICE. To rid yourself of the shame and outdated expectations that have been imposed upon women for so long.

Unfortunately, not everyone is woke. People still judge, criticise and condemn women for embracing their sexuality. What makes me so sad and quite frankly fucking angry – is that there is ALREADY so much self-hatred in this world, so many people suffer from body-image issues, low self-esteem and depression. Why are we trying to bring people down and shame women for embracing themselves, or for showing an ounce of confidence? (live and let live, love and let love). It’s freaking hard enough to love yourself in a society that constantly tells you that you’re not good enough.

However, I do believe that one should dress for the setting they are in, like in a professional setting, funeral or gym. There are appropriate clothing conventions we abide by for various reasons. But even if a woman respects dress codes where ‘appropriate’, the moment she’s caught violating ‘traditional social expectations’ which dictate how a woman should dress – some people will question her worth, credibility, value, assume things, judge and criticise her.

Source: Screenshot from news.com.au

Don’t believe the Western world is as dire as I’m making it out?

Well, Emma Watson’s recent photoshoot illustrates the situation. Watson, a UN Women Goodwill Ambassador and highly successful, talented actress was criticised for a ‘topless’ photo taken as part of the shoot. She was shamed, even by other women on social media. Watson, known for championing feminism, was called a hypocrite for showing her boobs. A writer for the Huffington Post described the situation PERFECTLY:

“In one simple photo, Watson has inadvertently bared a troubling truth that our society still, in 2017, cannot fathom the possibility that women can both express themselves sexually AND express a desire for equality, simultaneously” – Hannah Cranston.

A few years ago, a similar image went viral:

As perfectly evidenced by this picture (below-right) – the price of a woman owning her sexuality means that people will try to diminish and discredit the reputation, accomplishments and character of even the most highly influential women in the world – just from her choice of attire.

Rape Culture/Victim Blaming/Slut Shaming/Image-Based Sexual Assault:

Source: Facebook

The price of a woman owning her sexuality can and does become very dangerous. Women are often victim blamed and slut shamed in cases of rape, people say ‘she shouldn’t have worn that, she was asking for it’. Women are often victim blamed and slut shamed in cases of ‘image based sexual assault’ such as revenge porn, for sending intimate images in the first place. It really seems like women are being punished for just being women.

For too long, women have been told to hide themselves, that they should feel ashamed of their sexuality. Women SHOULD NOT have to pay a price for embracing their sexuality. Let’s celebrate women reclaiming their bodies and dressing however the fuck they want, in whatever the fuck they want.












‘Not Your Honey’ – When Sexual Empowerment Disempowers

Words: Jessica Sheridan

One of the difficult daily conundrums for women is the pressure to be sexy, but not too sexy. We are encouraged to wear high heels, but not too high, to wear low cut tops, but not too low cut. Honestly it’s a minefield of social faux pas trying to balance the two camps, and it often results in the stifling of our sexuality for fear of being too sexually open.

But women should be able to talk about sex. More than just that, women should be able to talk about pleasure, sexual desires and dislikes, the sensuality of their bodies – everything. I believe women should stand their ground and own their sexuality, recognising that their pleasure is just as important as their partners and their bodies really are a wonderland. Women should not have to feel ashamed of being sexy.

Honey Birdette is one brand that claims to stand for this idea. On their website, they introduce themselves as ‘Pleasure parlours’ created to ‘inject a sense of sensuality into the Australian bedroom.’ Many people are likely familiar with the brand: their decadent shop fronts of gold and black can hardly be missed, and they are known for selling luxury lingerie and sex toys unashamedly. And rightly so – there should be no shame in consensual sexual pleasure.

But not everything is always as it seems.

Recently ex-employees of Honey Birdette have come forward to speak out about the brand, claiming poor work conditions, sexism, and being subjected to sexual harassment. At a protest in Victoria on December 9th a group of ex-employees gathered in Melbourne to bring attention to the backwards working conditions they were subjected to. The ex-employees were seen burning bras and sporting signs that read ‘Not Your Honey’ in protest of the mistreatment and sexual harassment they faced during their employment.

Former Honey Birdette employees fight back against poor working conditions. Source: Twitter

And it’s not just the protest. A petition has started online calling for change to Honey Birdette’s dress code, policies, and attitude toward sexual harassment. The campaign creator Chanelle Rogers wrote in her preamble to the petition:

‘I saw workers humiliated and threatened by management because they weren’t wearing perfectly applied lipstick all day, their heels weren’t high enough, and because they didn’t “talk the way a Honey should talk”. I saw workers sexually harassed and intimidated by customers – and when these women spoke up, management told them to suck it up.’

One story by ex-employee Dominic Jericho Drury has also been shared hundreds of times on Facebook, detailing their own experience working at Honey Birdette. They likened their employment with the company to an ‘abusive relationship – obviously insane from the outside but alluring enough to still suck people in.’ They recalled repeated harassment by customers, claiming ‘we had to put up with this, as there was no way we would be supported if looking after ourselves came before making a sale.’ Their story highlights the extremes expected of employees to be considered a true Honey.

Call to action as women stand up against Honey Birdette. Source: Twitter

Over the past twenty four hours, the Honey Birdette Facebook page has been inundated with posts from customers who claim they will be boycotting the store. Many of the posts – mostly from women – demand that Honey Birdette change their policies, or share stories from other ex-employees supporting the protest’s allegations. While it is amazing to see women standing together to protect the rights of their fellows, Honey Birdette are yet to acknowledge and respond to the protests. There have been no posts by the page or on their website following the accusations.

These stories paint a picture nothing like the one Honey Birdette speaks of when it claims to ‘empower women.’ In order to empower women, you have to respect them, treat them fairly, and allow them to stand up for themselves. From small issues like requiring girls to wear perfect red lipstick and high heels for their long shifts, to bigger issues like shutting down complaints of sexual harassment, the protest and petition are shedding a very ugly light upon the company that was created with feminist ideas in mind.

It is not empowerment when women are forced to show their bras and wear stilettos just to keep their job. It is not empowerment when women are paid to have people talk to them in unwanted sexually explicit ways. It is not empowerment when women are scared to speak up about feeling uncomfortable in the workplace for fear of losing their job. This is not sexual empowerment. This is not even women empowerment. Silencing sexual harassment allegations and enforcing dress codes that play on sexualising women for the public (read as: male) gaze is disempowering.

It’s one of those problems that seem to stem from trying to apply a quick fix to a deeply ingrained societal issue. Sexual empowerment is not as simply as wearing a lacy bra or holding a riding crop. It is not red lipstick during the day or wearing stilettos as high as possible. Sexual empowerment is about choice, and feeling good about those choices. If you take away the ability to choose, then you make it impossible to empower women.

Dress codes and workplace policies are a fact of life. But sexism and sexual harassment shouldn’t be.

Featured Image: Source: Facebook


The Morning After Pill: A Breakdown

Babies and children aren’t for everyone. Sure, some are great. I mean, we all have that favourite younger family member who is cute, (mostly) clean but if chaos were to ensue we know that we can just give them back to their guardians. Sometimes though, all you do see is the smelly, screaming, temper tantrum throwing goblins running around the shopping complex with little to no regard of the world around them. Dragging what were once fully functioning adults – but are now Disney and vomit clad zombies, with vocabularies limited to 3-syllable words and internally polarised vaccination opinions, behind them. While I have been promised parenthood is a very rewarding and fulfilling experience, for those content being the tantrum throwers themselves, here’s how to avoid a baby:

Many of you (hopefully) know that the most reliable form of contraception is pairing a form of birth control (like an oral contraceptive or IUD) with barrier protection (condoms or a diaphragm) as neither of these are 100% effective against everything. However, this article is going cover what to do when these fail. I’ve sat down with UC Alumni, Megan Jackson from Priceline Pharmacy Gungahlin to give us an idea of what to expect when trying to access the morning after pill, how it works and what will go on ~down there~ when you use it.

If you’ve missed a pill, had a condom break or just haven’t used contraception for whatever reason, and want to avoid pregnancy your best chance is to go immediately into a pharmacy to access the morning after pill. Megan tells us that the morning after pill works by preventing the egg from leaving the ovary, delaying ovulation. It’s basically a one-time version of the oral contraceptive pill and it’s highly effective when taken quickly.

As the morning after pill is an over the counter medication, you don’t need to see a doctor for a prescription. Because of this, many women and their partners are often quite confronted to find they have to fill in a questionnaire. Many pharmacies provide a counselling room for privacy. It’s important to understand that you should never feel ashamed of yourself for seeking assistance with a sexual health issue, just as you wouldn’t for a general health issue. The questionnaire requires you to fill out your name and contact details, and although Megan assures us that at most pharmacies these are shredded, some may keep them on file in case you have an adverse reaction.

There are questions about your regular period, your general health, usual contraception methods and finally why you need emergency contraception. Megan breaks down the questionnaire’s three most important sections to: 1) your last period, 2) medications and health conditions, and 3) the time since the unprotected sex.

“Whilst they’re uncommon medications, different types of HIV and Epilepsy medications interact with the Morning After Pill, if you have malabsorption issues it’s important for us to note. We may have to give you two doses. If you haven’t had your period in three months either, there’s a chance you’re already pregnant.”

The longer it’s been since you’ve had unprotected sex affects its effectiveness as well. While Megan says that she would never refuse someone emergency contraception, it’s effectiveness basically caps at five days.

“In the first twenty-four hours it’s about 95% effective, twenty-four to forty-eight hours it’s 85% and between forty-eight and seventy-two hours it’s 58% effective.”

When it comes down to selecting the reason why you require emergency contraception there’s a box marked ‘sexual assault’. If you have been sexually assaulted, this doesn’t change the way the pharmacist dispenses the morning after pill. It just gives them a chance to refer you to other services such as sexual health clinics, the Emergency Department or a GP if you would like to have a rape kit administered. It means they are able to show you resources if you would like to get help.

In fact, it’s very hard to be refused the morning after pill with nearly every chemist stocking multiple brands of it. Some pharmacists may refuse to serve you for religious beliefs, but are bound by a duty of care to either get someone else in the store to serve you, or call another close store and direct you there. They’re also bound by a code of ethics not to degrade or belittle you for requesting emergency contraception.

“It’s in the Pharmacies Professional’s Standards and Code of Ethics, we have to provide timely advice and information. It should be done in a polite and discreet way. It’s part of their job, it’s what they’re trained to do. Make a complaint to the store manager, it’s unacceptable.”

The morning after pill will range between $20-$40 depending on if the pharmacy stocks a generic or name brand and is best to take straight away. Possible side effects, according to Megan, include; nausea, headaches, spotting, and breast tenderness.

“You’ve basically just put a hormone into your system so the imbalance will make you feel a little PMS-y.”

Your nausea should wear off in three to twenty-four hours, but if you do vomit in the first two hours or so come back into the pharmacy because there’s a chance it wasn’t absorbed properly. The breast tenderness won’t come in for a few days after, but should also be gone in about three days. Although these are the bulk of the side effects, everyone reacts differently and it’s possible for some women to experience bad cramping or heavy bleeding during their next period. It’s also likely to delay your period for up to a week, because of the change in ovulation.

However, if your period is more than a week late or is much lighter than usual it would be best to follow up with a pregnancy test and/or doctors visit.

When it comes to using it again (and again, and again) there’s no real reason why you can’t. Megan says that the morning after pill does not have any effect on current, unknown pregnancies (eg birth defects) and is safe to use while breastfeeding. Its effectiveness is just much lower than other forms of contraception. The oral contraceptive pill for example, is 99% effective when taken properly and is substantially cheaper than taking the morning after pill regularly.

For more information, talk to your GP.


By: Imogen Hughes – A version of this article has been previously published at Curieux, The University of Canberra Student Magazine




Yeah the Boys Meet Up, Third Wave Feminism Turns Up

Words: Jessica Sheridan

How many more times this year will I have to hear the same old excuse of locker room talk? For anyone who still does not understand what third-wave feminists are trying to do when we shut down sexist jokes for encouraging misogyny and rape culture, we now have another very clear example of exactly what we are talking about.

On the 4th of November an event was created on Facebook entitled ‘Yeah The Boys Meet Up’ by a page with the same name. The event seemed to have been originally intended as a meet up for fans of the popular Facebook page Yeah the Boys which has over 470,000 likes. The page posts ironic memes and status updates jesting at lad culture, and with such a following it is not unusual that the fans would band together to organise a meet up at Sydney’s own Coogee Beach.

However what probably started as a well-intended social meet-up very quickly turned toxic.

Attendees, the majority of which were young and male, began posting sexist jokes that became more and more heinous as time went by. What started as ‘just a bit of fun’ deteriorated into threatening and hateful language within a matter of days. Many posts called for physical violence against any ‘two holes’ that turned up to the gathering, while others asked if boys could bring along their ‘two hole’ to share with other boys in attendance.

In case you were wondering, ‘two hole’ was their word for women.

Screenshot from ‘Yeah The Boys Meet Up’ Facebook event

The page drew a lot of attention fast, and for all the wrong reasons. Many people – men and women alike – posted in the page asking that the event be taken down, or imploring the attendees to stop disrespecting women. This was largely met by jokes about feminists being ‘triggered’ and vulgar, sexually explicit replies whenever women tried to explain why the event was offensive. Men, and sadly some women, banded together to defend the posts on the page with aggressive and violent threats upon those that criticised the blatant misogyny within. The event, which racked up almost 10,000 attendees, had spiralled out of control, and even the Yeah the Boys Facebook page posted to disassociate themselves from the meet up. The event was eventually cancelled four days after it was originally posted.

Screenshot from ‘Yeah The Boys Meet Up’ Facebook event

You might be wondering – what the hell happened? A lot of people were left confused by the event, for all kinds of reasons. Some people didn’t understand how something which had started as joking and banter had derailed into such a sexist and hateful mess. Some didn’t think it was fair that women were angry about the event, because it was just an all-boys meet up after all – so what if girls weren’t invited? Others claimed anyone complaining about the posts on the event page just couldn’t take a joke.

But there is a very real reason why I am not laughing. There is a very real reason why it’s not funny even though I understand the joke completely.

This is rape culture.

I don’t care about the event name. Frankly, the phrase ‘Yeah the Boys Meet Up’ means nothing to me. Women are not angry that the event appeared to be for boys only; that is not the issue.

The issue is that the type of jokes and sexist banter used on the page inevitably turned into hateful, violent sexism. I say inevitable because this is a pattern we have seen time and time again. We saw it only days ago when a Melbourne law student was added to a Facebook group chat with four of her peers who were sexually and explicitly describing what they wanted to do to her. We saw it when Donald Trump tried to defend against his descriptions of sexual assault with the archaic notion of locker room talk. Time and time again we see examples of people who do not seem to understand that their jokes have gone over the line into violent sexism and misogyny.

Screenshot from ‘Yeah The Boys Meet Up’ Facebook Event

The issue is that jokes too easily turn into threats. Banter too easily turns into sexually aggressive descriptions of what men would like to do to women. Locker room talk too easily turns into the reduction of women to their ability to sexually please men (‘two holes’) and nothing more. This is an exact example of how rape culture is perpetuated in our society. This is why third wave feminism is all about shutting down the sexist joking and the misogynistic banter. Because too easily and too often it leads to a lack of respect for women, which in turn can lead to violence against women.

It is literally that simple, and yet that terrifying.

Until women and men are equal – truly equal – in society, then sexist jokes, banter and locker-room talk will inevitably lead to a culture in which women are seen as lesser beings and objects for sexual pleasure, nothing more. This is rape culture, and this is why third wave feminism is so important.

Being ‘Triggered’ is not a Joking Matter. STOP

The use of the word or meme ‘triggered’ has become popular on social media. It is typically used as an insult or as a joke to refer to feminists who take offense at harmful things being said or done in society.

Actual meme on the internet

It has to stop.

Why? Let me break this down for you.

  1. Being triggered is a real symptom of PTSD

An actual symptom of post-traumatic stress disorder is that an individual can experience triggers from something they see on the news or internet for example, that can set off negative emotional responses including anger, anxiety, flashbacks, pain, fear, sadness and panic. Being triggered can cause physical responses such as loss of appetite, shaking, fatigue, racing heart beat and so much more.

Being triggered is NOT a laughing matter. It is not a joke. It’s not funny.

It is a real fucking symptom of PTSD. Have some sensitivity.

Stop using triggered as an insult or a joke because not only is it insensitive and rude. It dismisses, trivialises, undermines and ignores the severity of what it means to experience mental illness and trauma.

    2. It is fucking dismissive and rude

We often see people using ‘triggered’ as an insult to show that feminists overreact or are easily provoked by issues that affect us.

Actual meme on the internet


It’s not a joke that we are affected by the gender wage gap. It’s not a joke that we are angered by sexual assault. It’s not a joke that we are offended by sexist rhetoric. We are affected and angered by such things. Stop dismissing our feelings as just being ‘triggered’. Stop undermining our anger as just being ‘triggered.’ Stop trivialising our opinions as just being ‘triggered’.  It’s rude.

My disgust and anger to racist, sexist and homophobic remarks have personally been dismissed as just being ‘triggered.’ I was in a political group on Facebook as part of my university and there were some racist, homophobic, sexist things being said in it. Horrendous things like ‘anyone who doesn’t identify as male or female are just pretending so they can be different.’ One group member’s response to Islamophobia was ‘if Muslims weren’t here in the first place they wouldn’t have to deal with such confronting and offensive imagery !!!!’

Of course I was pissed, disgusted, offended and angered by such horrendous remarks. I spoke out about the things being said to a woman’s group, but the initial response from the political group was that I was just triggered and that nobody should ‘provoke her please.’

Absolutely I was provoked by such racist, homophobic, sexist remarks –  but don’t dismiss my outrage as just being ‘triggered’.

    3.  It perpetuates the culture of victim blaming

When people dismiss the reactions, feelings and opinions of  feminists or anyone for that matter, as just being ‘triggered’, they are effectively perpetuating the culture of victim blaming. They are placing the blame on women for feeling the way they do, they are placing the blame on women for being angered by things that are outright offensive. They are shaming women who stand up to harmful sexist, racist, bigoted rhetoric and actions.

With all this ‘triggered’ rhetoric and victim blaming, I’m genuinely concerned that society has lots its grips with basic concepts of right and wrong. With justice and injustice.

An actual meme on the internet

We see victim blaming all the time. It’s the kind of attitude that attacks and criticises the conduct of the victim, instead of the perpetrators of a crime. It’s the sentiment that somehow the victim is at fault for the wrongdoings committed against them, or worse that the victim deserves the harm.

We see it in cases of rape, revenge porn, image-based sexual assault. If she wasn’t wearing such revealing clothes she wouldn’t have been raped. If she didn’t send nude photos, he wouldn’t have uploaded them online. If she didn’t post risqué photos to social media, they wouldn’t be photo shopped into porn. If she was being abused at home she should’ve just left him.

Have we all gone fucking mad?

Source: BuzzFeedNEWS

When Kim Kardashian West was robbed of millions of dollars worth of jewellery at gunpoint, and reportedly tied-up and gagged by a couple of masked men in a Paris hotel. The public reaction was extremely telling of where we are at with our views toward women and how much we are blaming the victim instead of the perpetrators. It’s ridiculous that the public outcry was to blame her for the robbery because of her celebrity status, or what she wears or because she shouldn’t have been flaunting her wealth – instead of condemning the perpetrators.

This insensitive, dismissive and disgusting ‘triggered’ craze needs to STOP. Seriously.


Madonna Shuts Down Sexist Social Expectations on Women

Society says that once a woman becomes a wife, has kids or reaches a certain age then they are no longer allowed to express their sexuality. Women who breach this outdated social norm are slut-shamed, condemned, criticised and judged for the way they dress, act and speak.

They say ‘Is that dress really appropriate for a mom to wear? What kind of example are you setting for your daughter?’ They say ‘you’re 60, you should cover up.’ They say ‘how does he [the husband] allow his wife to dress like that let alone go out in public.’ They say ‘you’re a bad role model for young women.’ They say ‘you have no self-respect.’


Source- Instagram: Madonna


Well, the star who needs no introduction. The one and only Madonna recently posted a number of semi-nude photos onto her Instagram under the caption “Still Acting my Age!!!” accompanied by some choice words:

“How do i know I’m still acting my Age? Because its MY age and its MY life and all of you Women Hating Bigots need to sit down and try to understand why you feel the need to limit me with your fear of what you aren’t familiar with. You know what happens to Bigots? NOTHING! Nothing happens to people who. Think in a limited way. Facts… ” wrote Madonna.

Yaassss girl Yasssss!

Thank you for living your life how you want and not how society says you must. Thank you for fighting against this sexist expiry date that dictates when a woman can or cannot express their sexuality. Thank you for fighting to dismantle the sexist social expectations placed upon women.

But at a time where women need the support of other women to fight the patriarchy and these sexist social expectations- unfortunately, in many cases it’s other girls who are doing the hating. Let’s be real. Girl on girl hate exists. And it sucks.

Girl on girl hate, however unfortunate, is unsurprising. We live in a culture where girls are constantly pinned against each other as rivals. It’s always a ‘Who Wore it Better’ between two women, instead of a ‘They Both Slayed.’ As prominent novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie pointed out in her personal essay We Should All Be Feminists and in Beyoncé’s song ‘Flawless’:

“We raise girls to see each other as competitors —
not for jobs or for accomplishments,
which I think can be a good thing,
but for the attention of men.
We teach girls that they cannot be sexual beings
in the way that boys are.”

So, it really is unsurprising that girl on girl hate exists. Seriously though, why does society, men and other women, think it’s okay to police what women do with their bodies? The same doesn’t happen for men, so why women?

What is it about a woman embracing herself that is so disgraceful and so difficult for society to understand? Isn’t there enough self-hate already? So many people are struggling with learning to love themselves, with body dysmorphia, eating disorders, low self-esteem and depression. Yet when a woman shows an ounce of body positivity, confidence and actually embraces herself, society is so ready to bring her down and keep her down.

Another woman who has spoken out about society trying to dictate her sexuality is Kim Kardashian West. Just one scroll through the comments on one of Kim’s photos and you can see the hate for yourself. And you’ve got to hand it to her, despite all the hate, she’s still fighting the good fight for female empowerment and women’s sexual liberation. Earlier this year, on International Women’s Day, Kim posted an essay and hit us all with some truth bombs. She wrote:


Source- Instagram: Kim Kardashian West


“I am empowered by my sexuality. I am empowered by feeling comfortable in my skin. I am empowered by showing the world my flaws and not being afraid of what anyone is going to say about me. And I hope that through this platform I have been given, I can encourage the same empowerment for girls and women all over the world.”

How are these women bad role models? They teach young girls: that there is no shame in expressing themselves. That there is no shame in their sexuality. That they shouldn’t be ashamed of their bodies. That there is no shame in loving themselves and being confident. That they should live their lives on their terms rather than trying not to offend the delicate sensibilities of some people. That they shouldn’t be afraid of being judged by not conforming to sexist expectations of how a woman should dress, act and speak. To me, that’s the message, the fight and the resolve of a powerful role model.

If we believe in personal autonomy, then there shouldn’t be ANY limit on expressing one’s sexuality. Regardless of whether you’re a wife, mother or an older woman, ALL women should be allowed to decide on their own terms what they want to do with their bodies, free from judgement. If that means wearing a ‘burqini’ on the beach, wearing a sheer outfit or being completely covered, turtle-neck and all- Then more power to you.

So how do we change these sexist social expectations on women? Well for a start we need a lot less girl on girl hate and a lot more #GirlLove. Lilly Singh, the popular YouTuber, also known as IISuperwomanII, launched a campaign earlier this year to give the world more of what it needs #GirlLove, a campaign that is ‘Dedicated to ending and reversing the culture of girl-on-girl hatred.’ Check out her video on YouTube titled ‘Goodbye Hate, Hello #GirlLove!’

But for now, keep fighting the good fight against ‘Women Hating Bigots’ and fighting for more #GirlLove.