The F Word
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Parenting presents endless occasions for hand-wringing. At every turn, there’s a thorny issue and – as self-appointed experts will be keen to assure you – a fresh opportunity to mess up your kid for life. Epidural or natural birth? Breast or bottle? Helicopter or free-range parenting? Stay at home or pursue a career? Often the burden of these choices, and the responsibility for their implications, seem to fall on the mother.
For the next conversation in our F Word series, we’ll focus on the intersection of feminism and parenting. Can feminism provide a roadmap for raising children? Is it possible for feminism not only to inform, but define parenting – and what does that look like?
Maxine Beneba Clarke is an Australian writer and slam poet of Afro-Caribbean descent. Her short fiction collection Foreign Soil won the 2013 Victorian Premier's Unpublished Manuscript Award, the 2015 Indie Award for Debut Fiction, and the 2016 ABIA Award for Best Literary Fiction. Her latest poetry collection Carrying The World (Hachette) was released in May 2016, and her memoir The Hate Race (Hachette) will be published in August 2016. She writes for the Saturday Paper.
Rachel Power is a freelance writer, editor and artist. She has contributed to many publications, including Mamamia, The Big Issue, Kill Your Darlings and The Age. She has worked as a court illustrator for Channel 9, production editor of Arena Magazine, and is currently communications manager for the Australian Education Union (Victoria). Rachel is the author of Alison Rehfisch: A Life for Art, The Divided Heart: Art and Motherhood, and Motherhood & Creativity.
Liz Shield is a queer, feminist, activist social worker and radio announcer on community station 3CR. She is a volunteer management collective member of Flat Out, a feminist organisation that has been supporting criminalised women in Victoria for 25 years. Liz has blogged for Femme Galaxy and Plan to Thrive, and self-published a number of zines over the past twelve years including Not Another Zine and most recently, Tick My Box.
Zakia Baig arrived Australia in 2006 as an overseas student, and one among the thousands of Hazaras who left their homes to escape persecution in Pakistan and Afghanistan. A mother of two, Zakia is a Human rights activist and executive director of Australian Hazara Women’s Friendship Network.
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.