Happily, I can announce that the final Cherchez la Femme for 2011 is proudly presented in conjunction with the Counihan Gallery and Moreland City Council, to celebrate the last exhibition of the year, running from 17 November – 17 December.
The Women’s Salon is an annual contemporary art exhibition that showcases the creative practice of female artists, craft-workers and designers who live and/or work in Moreland. The exhibition will feature artworks in a range of media including painting, works on paper, sculpture, installation and photography.
Women’s Salon 2011 celebrates the anniversary of a landmark event: the centenary of women voting in Victorian Legislative Assembly elections. I think a Cherchez la Femme examining feminism as social practice would be a great way to look back on the year that was, consider where feminism fits into our society, and how we can keep these conversations alive in the public sphere.
So please join me at the Counihan Gallery with three amazing guests: Sophie Cunningham, Amy Jo Jory, and others, as we discuss the exhibition, what it celebrates, and the role of feminism in public life.
The important details are as follows (and please note they differ from the usual in day, time and place):
Wednesday 30 November 2011
6pm - 8pm with refreshments provided
Not the usual Cherchez la Femme but I’ve every confidence in our ability to adapt and we’ll get to finish the year on a high by taking part in a beautiful artistic conversation about women in our community.
All enquiries to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I very much hope to see you there.
Hello clever and attractive supporters of Cherchez la Femme
I write to tell you I’m taking next month off. Between organising SlutWalk Melbourne, taking on a new role with the Emerging Writers’ Festival, and both of those coinciding with the end of semester challenge that our casualised tertiary teaching workforce so relishes, I’ve had neither time nor energy to put something together for 5 July. Forgive me and put Tuesday 2 August aside for the next salon? How about we all have a cup of Milo and read a good book until then?
As ever, suggestions for topics and speakers are very welcome. Some of the ideas I have cooking are Feminism and Girls, Feminism and Fat, Feminism and Men & Feminism and This No-Children Business.
I look forward to talking feminism with you soon. Meantime, I’m just going to have a little mid-winter snooze.
Last night, as I was walking home from the train station, a car pulled up beside me and the driver began talking inaudibly. Like most women this has happened to, I rolled my eyes, ignored it and kept walking purposefully, knowing I was very close to home. The car continued driving at exactly the pace I was walking for another 30 seconds or so before I felt scared. I realised suddenly that it was late, I was on my own, and he wasn’t just taking the opportunity to yell an obscenity at me, as happens often. I realised he was talking TO me and saying terrifying things. This is not normally how it goes. Most women are accustomed to the passing slur and this had gone much further.
Why wouldn’t I get in the car? I had such great legs, good tits, nice hair. If I didn’t get in the car, he’d make me get in the car. I should get in the car and blow him. I was a slut and I would have to get in the car eventually. I started running and the car sped up and came closer to the footpath, so I ran behind a four wheel drive (putting it between me and him) and called the police. I was crying at this point but I had enough presence of mind to concentrate on making my voice sound loud and clear. “I just called the cops.” I yelled over the car. His wheels spun a little as he sped off and I memorised the number plate and typed it into my phone.
The police were amazing and took it incredibly seriously, getting detailed descriptions of everything and praising my actions - the only thing they wished I’d done differently was call immediately instead of few minutes later when I did. The number plate was registered to a stolen car that didn’t match the one I described (old model Mercedes, navy blue) so they assured me that they would send squad cars out to find it and let me know of any progress. They made sure I was home safe and told me that what happened was not on, that nobody should have to put up with that shit (quote), and that I did all the right things and that’s why I was safe. I don’t know if anything would’ve happened to me otherwise but I felt better knowing I’d done the right things.
Of course, this was a random event. I was heartened by the police response and reassurance that they would pick him up because I didn’t want it to happen to anyone else. The irony, you were expecting, is that at the exact moment he appeared I was reading an article about SlutWalk and trying to figure out how to post it to our social media. I nearly laughed when I first realised what was happening because it seemed such a supremely dark cosmic joke but, in reality, this is a common enough occurrence that it’s almost unsurprising it would happen to one of the organisers in the lead up to the march. All of us are strong, independent women who don’t take shit from anyone but that’s no insurance against being approached in the street, propositioned in a scary or violent way, and yes, being called a slut by a man who is trying to hurt us.
I scarcely know what to say about it, other than a] I’m totally fine and getting so much love and support from my friends, b] this is not how I wanted to reignite my passion for blogging but life is life and it never waits until you’re ready, and c] calling the police was the best decision I could’ve made, though I know many people have complex feelings about their power and its uses. I was so grateful for their response. It highlights my belief that most men, most police officers, most people do not want to hurt women, do not want to see women hurt, do not think it’s okay or the woman’s fault if they are hurt. The SlutWalk message that it’s never the victim’s fault is broadcast on their behalf too.
Also, once I was home safe, I didn’t want to wake my housemates so I talked to my Twitter family about it and it was restorative to feel such concern and care. I made tea. I hugged my dog. I slept well. Today has already brought sweetness and I’m gonna think about it less and less. It makes me feel more lucky than ever to have such a network of amazing thinkers and lovers and comrades-in-arms. I’ll be fine. I’ll still walk home from the station. I’ll still walk tall on Saturday 28 May.
I missed blogging so here I am. Right in the thick of a maelstrom of love and anger and hope and longing and fear and confusion and delight - I want to return to the long form. I’ll need your advice and patience to get this right but not knowing how to proceed has never stopped me before so gimme your hand and let’s go.