Tag Archives: feminism

Yes I’m pro-abortion. Who wouldn’t be?

14 Jan

If you spend your time in the same corners of the internet as I do you’ll be familiar with the line “I’m pro-choice, not pro-abortion”. Whenever I see this, I ask “Why? What’s wrong with abortion?”

If you’re pro-choice you believe in the autonomy of women. You believe that no matter what importance an embryo/fetus/unborn baby might hold, it is never more important than the freedom of the woman whose body it is housed in. In short, women are more important than fetuses.

Since we’ve got that out of the way, we should all be able to say that abortions are awesome. The development of safe abortion is a medical advancement that has improved the lives of one in three women. The availability of abortion is something that gives women, me included, great comfort and security. Pretty great, right?

Before the advent of safe, legal abortion women were dying. Women were at the mercy of biology. Let it be remembered that in this same period it was legal for men to rape their wives. When we use the term “bodily autonomy” we are talking about no small thing.

Since I first become a pro-choice activist when I was fifteen, I’ve seen feminist discussion of abortion follow the same formula: to terminate a pregnancy is a difficult, heart-breaking decision for every woman who makes it but we must defend her right to make that choice. As friendly as that sounds, it’s also bullshit.

The “pro-choice, not pro-abortion” line plays into the trope that abortion, though sometimes necessary, is always shameful. It’s always difficult. It’s always sad. In reality, not every woman feels shame and nor bloody should she. Guilt should not be the tax we pay on autonomy.

I think of abortion the same way I think of a root canal. It’s an often painful, invasive procedure that in some cases could have been prevented through education and good habits. I don’t want to have one, but I’m glad it’s there if I need it.

Every time we say “pro-choice, not pro-abortion” we make it a little bit harder for a woman to stand up and say “I’d like an abortion, please.” It makes it a little harder for women to say “I had an abortion once”. It makes it a little bit harder for couples to discuss abortion openly and give women real freedom over if and when they have a child.

I’m pro-family.

I’m pro-woman.

I’m pro-choice.

And I’m pro-abortion.

You should be too.

Author’s note: Fix It, Dear Henry is a safe space for me and for my readers. Anti-choice/forced-birther comments, or those that otherwise denigrate women will not be published. If this upsets you let me remind you that WordPress is free.


My Australian Computer Society International Women’s Day Fantasy Breakfast

20 Feb

Rather than dudes telling dudes how great dudes are on International Women’s Day, I have put together a panel of tech babes who I think deserve to be made pancakes for. I’ve also taken the liberty of writing down what I’d like to hear them talk about.

In no order whatsoever:

Leena van Deventer: level up

Coding is power. Let’s not only teach girls that they are allowed to occupy space in gaming culture, let’s help them create  space by teaching them to write, design and code their own games.

Claire Porter: go, go gadget girl

Techly editor Claire Porter shares her experience of covering Australian digital technology and gives the industry some tips about how it can make room for women.

Sarah Pulis: 1 in 5

Web accessibility superstar Sarah Pulis lets us in on how we can make the web more inclusive for women (and men) with disabilities.

Asher Wolf: steal your secrets back

In the era of surveillance journalist and hacktivist Asher Wolf gives insight into the length and breadth of government data monitoring and shares her tricks to preserve your privacy online.

There. Done. March 8. I’ll chair it.

Too early for flapjacks?

There’s sexism in games, Paul Verhoeven told me so

23 Jan

Here are my thoughts on Paul Verhoeven’s talk at TEDxWomen Southbank last weekend.

His talk was on sexism in gaming and, overall, he did a pretty good job. He started off with sensitivity to the fact that he is, in fact, a bearded man and that puts him in a strange place to talk about sexism. His qualification came not from gender but from his work as game critic. He had a pretty solid understanding of feminism. You know, the type that should be part of the basic criteria for being a functioning adult, not the type that lets you level up.

I watched it on YouTube this morning and it gave me feelings: warm, fuzzy, angry feelings such as:

  • How the sweet merciful fuck does a man get invited to speak at TEDxWomen?
  • Why can’t he talk about gender equality at a regular TEDx event?
  • Could they not find a chick wanting to talk about this?

What pisses me off most though is that at no point in Verhoeven’s 16 minutes and 11 seconds did he mention the work of Anita Sarkeesian (@femfreq) – a personal hero of mine who dedicates her life to exposing sexism in games and other popular culture.

Her TEDxWomen talk from 2012 is a tour de force in which she catalogues her experiences of being a feminist gamer online, a story which “comes with a very large trigger warning”. This is maybe the most significant text in the discussion of sexism in gaming culture, and yet Verhoeven chose not to acknowledge its existence.

Verhoeven’s talk is one of what feels like 470 pieces of ‘feminist’ writing from men I’ve seen so far in 2014 which excludes women’s voices. While I don’t believe Verhoeven did this deliberately, he fell into the trap of acting as though he’s the first person to think these ideas. He then made use of his male privilege by occupying space on stage that a woman would have been more qualified for.

If you’re a dude and you want to incorporate a study of gender bias into your work, then I commend you. (That’s not sarcastic, I really do.) Just be sure that when you express your frustration at the lack of gender equality in your world you acknowledge that women have been in this game a lot longer than you.

145 words on victim blaming

22 Oct

Children need to be taught to manage risk and to not attack people. It’s not a matter of which side of this is valid, it’s a matter of which is dominant.

Girls are taught from birth to be cautious, to be constantly aware of the harm that others can do to us. We’re told not to make ourselves even more vulnerable. This is why short skirts and booze are rebellious. Boys are taught by porn that sex should be rough, and by music that guys sing, girls dance.

So when one of the most prominent writers in the country brings out the old line about girls not putting themselves at risk, it plays right into the hands of forces which keep girls indoors.

Until we even up the spread of these messages, girls will never enter the world feeling they have a claim to it.


Suggested reading

Boy, oh boy, a lady Doctor? John Birmingham reports

6 Jun

John Birmingham, prolific Fairfax writer, novelist and apparently functioning human wrote for The Brisbane Times about his struggle to comprehend the idea of the twelfth Doctor being a woman. He took at least 250 words to reach the conclusion “by golly, I just don’t know. Wouldn’t that just be a thing.”


In the process he managed to include some of the worst sexist bullshit Fairfax has published since that one by Geoffrey Barker about newsreaders’ boobs.

“I’m not against the idea, mind you,” writes Birmingham. “In fact as it stands naked before me in the Library, the cool blue glow of that lightsabre illuminating all the lady bits, I find my fascinated horror ebbing back to mere curiosity. I just wonder is all.”

Firstly, lightsaber? Really? Secondly, if he’s are prone to staring at “lady bits” with “fascinated horror” I have to wonder how he ever came to have children.

To Birmingham, “female” and “Time Lord” are completely at odds. The Doctor has always been a scientific genius, his moral compass guiding him through time and space. Violence is abhorrent to the Doctor and is only used as a last resort.

According to Birmingham, a Lady Doctor (that’s a female Time Lord, not a gynecologist) would have to be a vastly different character. A woman can’t be a genius or a pacifist:

“The Doctor has always fought with his wits, and his sonic screwdriver. Things do go boom, when he takes a hand in them, but generally not because he’s pulling a trigger. The female hero as modern pop culture has come to define her, however, might well be a thinker. But mostly what she’s thinking about is KICKING MORE ASS!”

Yes, that there is Birmingham claiming that women in popular culture are more prone to violence. Never mind that in the Doctor Who universe the female sidekicks are generally there to work as moral guides, pulling the Doctor back if he strays too far from his pacifism.  It didn’t occur to Birmingham that, like River Song, a woman can be a Time Lord, a thinker, a genius, a pacifist and an engaging televisual character.

If you’re shocked and confused by the idea of a strong female lead in Doctor Who, or indeed science fiction, then you haven’t been paying attention. Yes, the continuous cycle of God’s police/love interest has hardly done the last 50 years of feminism any favours. But, as characters like Rose and Donna show us, the potential for strength, courage and genius in those with XX chromosomes is limitless.

Maybe if it weren’t for people like John Birmingham we women wouldn’t have to leave the planet just to feel capable.

The Official* Lady #QandA drinking game!

5 Apr

Do you want to watch Monday’s all-women edition of #QandA but lack the drinking habbit to get you through?  My friend Erin and I are here to help.

Take a sip if:

  • You hear the word “choice” or “empowerment” (two if it’s within the same sentence as a reference to sex work)
  • Germaine thumps the table
  • You hear “have it all”
  • You hear “mummy blogger” (or actually mummy anything)
  • Janet Albrechtsen (because Albrechtsen)
  • You hear “men and women are naturally different”
  • Women are referred to as shrill, whiney or nagging
  • Women can be sexist too, shouts male audience member
  • Tony blushes, two if he giggles
  • Offensive audience member rant is taken “as a comment”
  • For every use of “misogyny” “misandry” and “sexism”

Finish your drink if:

  • Someone asks whether feminism is still relevant
  • Someone claims “Tony Abbott’s not that sexist”
  • The Prime Minister’s arse is mentioned
  • A joint is destroyed
  • You hear “women are emotional, men are rational”

Hug your knees in the shower if:

  • A victim is blamed

Bonus round:

  • Any time a double standard is used take a double shot
  • Any slut shaming or mention of slut walk – hike up your skirt and skull from the bottle
  • For the inevitable discussion of female quotas on boards or in parliament, drink 50% of what’s left
  • “Young women don’t understand modern feminism” – drink until it doesn’t hurt when you bang your head against the wall
  • Misuse of facts and statistics? Take about three sips, five if it’s neuroscience
  • If anyone claims you can legally get an abortion outside the ACT throw your drink at the screen and pour another
  • The panel is asked a question unrelated to their status as “womens” – stop drinking and watch in wonder.

Double bonus round:

  • If one of your drunken Lady #QandA tweets make it on to the telly drink everything in front of you and pass out because, lady, your life is complete!

Any more? Add new rules in the comments.

Play along using the hashtags #qanda and #ladyqanda from 9.35 on Monday night; and the next morning using #ladyhangover.

*Not official, my friend @isErinLeigh and I just knew we’d need something to help us through.

Fix It, Dear Henry supports the responsible service of sassy tweets.


This post was syndicated by Junkee, on which we have a bit of a crush, actually.


It’s the Victim-Blaming Sensing Alarm Horn (TM)!

14 Mar

Every time a woman gets blamed for her own assault the VBSAH blares out "stop telling women not to get raped. Start telling men not to rape people". Get yours today!

This is a tribute to Zerlina Maxwell, a political analyst in the States who works tirelessly to counteract the culture of victim-blaming which surrounds talk of violence against women. She’s had a rough week.