Roxane Gay

At the end of last month, I went to see Roxane Gay speak in conversation with Christina Hoff Summers which was an event put on by This is 42.

Gay has become of my favourite modern feminists due to her writings which are on point and full of wit.

Hoff on the other hand is someone I had never heard of until I heard her speak at the event. Despite calling herself an equalist feminist, I dont agree with her skewed perception of her personal brand of “factual feminism” as its quite anti-feminist (due to things like challenging women to prevent themselves from getting raped, which was one of the gems she shared with us that night, instead of educating people not to rape in the first place!).

From the outset Hoff monopolised the conversation and dominated it with constant excuses defending the rights of men, highlighting the “me too” movement which has taken things too far, in her opinion.

Gay on other hand, was articulate and an empowering representation of feminism.  Quietly contemplating (with the most amusing expressions and mannerisms to show her thought process) on what was being discussed and sharing her voice in a direct yet eloquent manner, when the opportunity presented itself.

With that said, I have to admit I go to a lot of feminist talks and NEVER in my life have I ever seen so many people walk out of a speaking event.

To say the event put on by This is 42 was a complete and utter shit show, was an understatement, with one person going so far as calling it the “Fyre Festival of Feminism” on the event Facebook page.

The organiser/owner/moderator of This is 42 Desh Amila, moderated the event, quite poorly from my and many other attendees perception.  He asked quite vague questions which are on trend, as if he googled “what are the main feminist topics of today” and didn’t allow both speakers equal speaking time which made the event quite skewed. Desh actually posted something about it on the This is 42 Facebook page a week later to explain the controversy following the event.

No apology was given and Desh basically talked himself and the event up stating really irrelevant things which simply self promoted.  The thing which took me offside with the host to begin with, was how he started the event.  He came on stage and made a penis joke due to being a male hosting the event, coupled with lame excuses as to why couldn’t get a female host.

The video footage Desh created a week or so later was worse, confirmed the opinion myself and many other attendees made of him, which is that of an arrogant self centered businessman making it all about himself and how awesome he is.   Relax guy, you aren’t Steve Jobs and it wasn’t a Ted Talk.

For me the highlight was that I got to meet Roxane Gay and shared a few words with her whilst she signed “Not That Bad, Dispatches from Rape Culture”, as well as having a photo taken with her.  I had a free ticket to the meet and greet, which itself was dismal with less than a dozen attendees (I am assuming was probably due to excessive cost).  The reason I had a free ticket to the meet and greet was due to the writing workshop being cancelled a few days before, which I had booked in with Roxane Gay with the same organiser, which was supposed to be held the night before.

My favourite quotes of the night:

 

“How about we move beyond the debate about whether women are people.”

– Roxane Gay, March 31st 2019

 

“All these problems could be solved by men learning not to rape”

– Roxane Gay, March 31st 2019 

 

(C) T. Altman 2019

 

Germaine Greer

Last month, I went to see Germaine Greer speak on her publication, “On Rape” by Melbourne University.  I call it a publication as its essay length.

Greer’s book “The Female Eunuch” was the first book I read on Feminism. Although its incredibly dated, at the time (I was just out of my teens) it was a revelation, even though I didn’t agree with all of it.

Over the years Greer’s stances and opinions on things have become more and more skewed from my personal philosophy on what Feminism is.  Therefore I have moved away from her work as I don’t see her as a role-model or person of excellence in the field even though she placed herself as a pioneer feminist during the second wave.   I personally don’t feel she’s an activist like one of my idols Gloria Steinem who I saw speak and inspired me very much.

Suffice to say the event put on by The School of Life didn’t inspire me and in fact left me thinking – wtf Germaine?!?!

From the outset Greer was vague, defensive and refused to answer questions purposefully derailing the conversation and changing the subject.

I couldn’t find a single element of her talk which I agreed with and I felt like the whole thing was created to draw controversy in order to get people to read her essay.  I would of appreciated it moreso, if I didn’t have to pay for a talk which was simply an advertisement for her essay.

Like the majority gathered there, I attended as a curiosity and was left laughing at her not with her and the most interesting aspect of the talk was when a small handful of protesters interrupted about 1/3 of the way through.

I won’t quote what stood out as inspiration because all that stood out is how NOT to be a feminist in my opinion. At least now I can say I have seen her speak.

My parting words on this is that I have moved past her work and will continue to focus on feminist writers who inspire and keep the movement progressing.

(C) T. Altman 2018

 

What Inspires Me: Fran Lebowitz

Last week I saw Fran Lebowitz at the Athenaeum Theatre which The Wheelers Centre organised.
Fran is someone who inspired me to speak my truth when I write and not be apologetic for it.

These were three of her quotes which resonated with me that night:

 “The reason I read so much is because it’s better than life.”

“I write so slowly I could write with my own blood and I wouldn’t hurt myself.”

 “You can’t teach writing –
It’s like teaching people to be tall.”

 

Fran Lebowitz – 2nd of March 2018, Melbourne Australia

 

What Inspires Me: Nigella Lawson

 
Last month I saw Nigella Lawson at the School of Life ‘On Why Food Matters.”
Nigella is someone who inspired me and my cooking due to her not being a professional chef and simply loving food and writing about it.

These were two of her quotes which resonated with me that night:

“Cooking teaches lessons in life.”

“Baking is like chemistry and poetry.”

Nigella Lawson – 24th of January 2018, Melbourne Australia

 

What Inspires Me: Quote by Walt Whitman

This quote prefaced in Whitman’s  ‘Leaves of Grass” sings to me….

“This is what you shall do; Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to every one that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men, go freely with powerful uneducated persons and with the young and with the mothers of families, read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life, re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul, and your very flesh shall be a great poem and have the richest fluency not only in its words but in the silent lines of its lips and face and between the lashes of your eyes and in every motion and joint of your body.”

Being a writer…

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“Your writing starts with a vision – a dream.

A belief that you need to put down what you are seeing in your mind.

It drives you and inspires you…this vision.

It makes you want to feel something as you are passionate about the process.”

(C)  T. Altman 2017

What inspires me: Margarett Atwood’s Handmaid’s Tale

I have always been inspired by stories of and by women.  I recently re-read “The Handmaid’s Tale” by Margaret Atwood.

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I have to start off by saying this book was recommended to me by a friend and I am glad she did as its become one of my favorite all time books.

The scary thing is that our current political climate can potentially lead to this dystopian world where women’s rights and reproduction are controlled by men in power and with that in mind its quite a thought provoking read.

This book has had a deep impact on me and my personal connection to feminism and the resulting treatment of women and their bodies.

Hulu has created a tv series based on the books airing in March and I look forward to seeing this great novel on the small screen…until then:

Nolite te bastardes carborundorum” 

Don’t let the bastards grind you down!