The Wheeler Centre
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Broadside: Who Gave You Permission? Speaking Up and Speaking Out
When we’re described as ‘speaking out’, what people really mean is we’re ‘speaking out of turn’ – and that we do not have the authority to do so. Behaving well means accepting things as they are, and sticking your neck out if you’re not a white guy requires the knowledge that you may be seen as difficult, and unlikeable.
Many of us have to actively work at claiming the right to occupy space, jobs, or make noise that others simply take as their entitlement. Opposition and rebellion is necessary and invigorating, but bending the world until it breaks can come at a great personal cost, which is divided unevenly amongst us. So how do we blaze a trail without losing our own way?
Hosted by Michelle Law as part of Broadside 2019, Nayuka Gorrie, Raquel Willis, Ariel Levy and Curtis Sittenfeld discuss their voices and how their experiences have shaped their paths.
Michelle Law is a writer and actor working across print, theatre and screen. Her work includes the play Single Asian Female and the SBS show Homecoming Queens, which she co-created, co-wrote and starred in. Her latest play, Miss Peony, will be staged at Belvoir St Theatre.
Nayuka Gorrie is a Kurnai/Gunai, Gunditjmara, Wiradjuri, and Yorta Yorta writer. Gorrie’s work explores black, queer and feminist politics. They wrote and performed in season three of Black Comedy. In 2018 they were named as a Wheeler Centre Next Chapter recipient, and are currently working on a book of essays.
‘As we commit to each other to build this movement of resistance and liberation, no one can be an afterthought.’
Raquel Willis is a Black queer transgender activist, writer and speaker dedicated to inspiring and elevating marginalized individuals, particularly transgender women of color. She is currently the Executive Editor of Out Magazine. In 2018, she was named a Jack Jones Literary Arts Sylvia Rivera Fellow. She's also a part of Echoing Ida, a national Black women and nonbinary writers' collective. She is a former National Organizer for Transgender Law Center.
‘I wanted what we all want: everything. We want a mate who feels like family and a lover who is exotic, surprising. We want to be youthful adventurers and middle-aged mothers. We want intimacy and autonomy, safety and stimulation, reassurance and novelty, coziness and thrills. But we can’t have it all.’
While Ariel Levy’s writing effortlessly moves between hulking subjects like sex, love and loss, her most familiar theme is freedom. From her bestselling debut, Female Chauvinist Pigs, which chronicled the rise of raunch culture, to her National Magazine Award- winning piece ‘Thanksgiving in Mongolia’ in the New Yorker (where she’s been a staff writer since 2008), Levy’s work explores and subverts expectations around what a woman’s life should look like. These intentions were crystalised in her 2017 memoir, The Rules Do Not Apply.
'Sometimes, there can be a slightly condescending assumption that anything unlikable about a female character is a mistake, as if they’re a contestant in a beauty pageant and have to seem charming and upbeat all the time.'
Curtis Sittenfeld is the bestselling author of five novels – the cult-classic Prep, The Man of My Dreams, American Wife, Sisterland and Eligible – and one story collection, You Think It, I’ll Say It.
Her books have been selected by the New York Times, Time, Entertainment Weekly and People for their ‘Ten Best Books of the Year’ lists, optioned for television and film, and translated into 30 languages. Her short stories have appeared in the New Yorker, the Washington Post, and Esquire, and her non-fiction has appeared in the New York Times, Time, Vanity Fair, the Atlantic, Slate, and on This American Life.