The F Word
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‘Black women are socially not as entitled to take up space as white women,’ writes Indigenous feminist and unionist Celeste Liddle. ‘Our experiences are special, are marginal and therefore, no matter how much we may have achieved, reside on the periphery.’
The perception that feminism is characterised by a sense of solidarity remains persistent, despite continued evidence pointing to the reality that the struggles of Aboriginal women can be varied and unique. Indigenous women continue to experience violence at a higher rate than non-Indigenous women, and are forced to deal with the confluence of multiple systems of racist and sexist discrimination. In some cases, while intersectionality provides a new feminist vocabulary for speaking about the difficulties faced by racially marginalised groups, mainstream feminist ideology can still appear inadequate or inappropriate for Indigenous women.
What does ‘Aboriginal feminism’ look like, and how might the feminist movement better accommodate difference while still presenting a united front in the fight for broader equality? What are the most pressing issues facing Indigenous women today? Join host Maxine Beneba Clarke to discuss the complex and critical interplay between feminism and Aboriginality with Celeste Liddle, Melissa Lucashenko and Kelly Briggs.
Maxine Beneba Clarke is a widely published Australian writer of Afro-Caribbean descent. Clarke is the ABIA and Indie award winning author of over nine books for adults and children, including the critically acclaimed short fiction collection Foreign Soil, the best-selling memoir The Hate Race, the Victorian Premier’s Award winning poetry collection Carrying the World, and the Boston Globe/Horn Prize winning picture book The Patchwork Bike, illustrated by Van T. Rudd.
She is the editor of Best Australian Stories 2017, and Growing Up African in Australia. Her forthcoming poetry collection is How Decent Folk Behave (Hachette).
Celeste Liddle is an Arrernte woman (traditional owner in Central Australia) who was born in Canberra and has been living in Melbourne since she was a teenager. She is a trade unionist, an activist, a feminist, a social commentator and an opinion writer. In May 2021, she was announced as the preselected Greens candidate for the seat of Cooper in the upcoming Federal Election.
Melissa Lucashenko is a Goorie writer whose work celebrates Aboriginal people and others living around the margins of the First World. Her latest novel, Too Much Lip, won the Miles Franklin Literary Award and the Queensland Premier's Award for a work of State Significance. Her novel Mullumbimby was longlisted for the Miles Franklin Literary Award and Stella Prize, shortlisted for the Kibble Literary Award, and won the Queensland Literary Award for Fiction and the Victorian Premier’s Award for Indigenous Writing.
Kelly Briggs writes about First Australian issues from an intersectional feminist viewpoint. Kelly is a supporter of First Peoples Self Determination and has been published in the Guardian, New Matilda, Croakey and the Hoopla. She was the winner of Social commentary blog of the year 2014 by the Australian Writers Centre for her blog thekooriwoman.wordpress.com and is currently working on an anthology piece for Indigenous X.
The official fight for equal representation for women is over a century old. You might think the battle would be won by now, but in 2015, the ‘f’ word is as personally and politically charged as ever. And despite great leaps forward – equal pay (on paper), paid maternity leave, our first female prime minister – we’ve still got a long way to go, baby.
The F Word asks where feminism is at, in culture and society, with a series of events that question our assumptions (Can romance be empowering? How can you be a religious feminist?), and highlight areas for change and inclusion, like disability and science.
We begin the series with ‘Bad Feminist’ Roxane Gay, who argues that feminist values can co-exist with contradictions: nursing a childhood affection for Sweet Valley High and wearing heels that hurt your feet doesn’t weaken your dedication to ending domestic violence.