Sexual & gender politics
Bare Bones with Tracey Spicer
Virginia Trioli and Tracey Spicer — Photo: Helen Withycombe
In the 1990s, Tracey Spicer was a smart, talented young journalist rising quickly through the ranks at Channel Ten. But even as the network’s national news anchor, she had to play the role of the ‘good girl’, submitting with a smile to onerous daily hair and make-up routines and humouring advice from network bosses such as ‘stick your tits out’.
She was famously sacked (or ‘boned’, in now notorious industry parlance) by email in 2006, after returning from maternity leave. After that, it was No More Mrs Nice Spice. She sued, won a sizeable settlement, and embarked on the path to become the Tracey Spicer we know today … defiant, outspoken and given to hilarious public confessions.
Candy Bowers performs — Photo: Helen Withycombe
Her funny and candid new book, The Good Girl Stripped Bare, starts with her early life in suburban Brisbane, traces the highs and lows her career in journalism and touches on many other subjects – from anxiety to class warfare to the beauty myth. In conversation with her friend and contemporary Virginia Trioli, and with a special performance from Candy Bowers, Spicer talks about work, life and feminism today.
Picnic at Hanging Rock
‘She felt herself choking and tore at her frilled lace collar. “Miranda!”’
Fainting spells, frilly collars, mystery, hysteria and a truly awesome backdrop – Joan Lindsay’s Picnic at Hanging Rock might be 50 years old this year, but it remains a point of Australian cultural obsession. The book – written by Lindsay in just four weeks back in 1967 – has inspired a film, a radio play, stage adaptations, fashion spreads, music videos and a new miniseries coming out this year.
Why do we keep coming back to Lindsay’s eerie tale of a Valentine’s Day school picnic gone wrong? Perhaps it’s the ambiguity around fact and fiction; perhaps it’s the striking combinations of imagery or maybe it’s the maddening obscurity of the ending.
At this celebration of Joan Lindsay’s iconic novel (and its enduring myth), Helen Withycombe hosts a conversation between Lindsay's biographer Janelle McCulloch, theatremaker Tom Wright (who adapted the play for Malthouse Theatre in 2016) and Helen Morse, who played the French teacher in Peter Weir's film version of the story.
They discuss the true story (and the mysticism) that inspired Lindsay, the book's refractions of nature and time, the troubling history of Hanging Rock itself and why Lindsay’s tale continues to haunt and provoke Australian storytellers today.
Left to right: Helen Withycombe, Janelle McCulloch, Tom Wright and Helen Morse — Photo: Jon TjhiaYou may also enjoy Podcast episode Australian Literature 101: Christina Stead: The Man Who Loved Children / Australian stories Podcast episode Australian Literature 101: Patrick White: Voss / Australian stories Podcast episode Australian Literature 102: Joan Lindsay: Picnic at Hanging Rock / Australian stories
Question Time: The Modern Family
Remember that old Ford ad: ‘The average young Australian family has 2.3 children’? Today it seems quaint and dated; it probably seemed dated to a lot of people when it first aired back in the 1990s.
The traditional nuclear family – with two heterosexual parents and two or more children – is on the decline. Reduced birth rates, the rise of blended families, increasing numbers of same-sex parents and a growing Child-free by Choice movement mean our ideas around family are shifting.
Madeleine Morris, Chloe Shorten, Caroline Baum and Alyena Mohummadally
In this Question Time discussion, hosted by Madeleine Morris, our audience pose questions to three fascinating panellists, each with a different take on the notion of family in 2017. Chloe Shorten is a public affairs specialist, mother in a blended family with Opposition Leader Bill Shorten and the author of Take Heart: A Story of Modern Stepfamilies. Caroline Baum is a journalist and the author of Only, a literary memoir about being an only child. Alyena Mohummadally is a lawyer, primary teacher and queer activist raising two boys.
Are notions of ‘average’ and ‘ordinary’ oppressive and limiting when it comes to ideas around family? What, if anything, are we losing with the decline of the nuclear family? And, if it truly takes a village to raise a child, do we need to expand our ideas of family even further?
Laughing Matters: Comedy and Free Speech in India
Bhakthi Puvanenthiran, Daniel Fernandes, Neeti Palta and Sapan Verma
‘This is EIC Outrage, where we talk about issues … and hope to not get assassinated’. That’s how comedian Sapan Verma chose to introduce one episode of his popular Outrage East India Comedy YouTube series.
India’s comedy scene is currently enjoying a moment; it’s a space of seemingly unpoliced free expression within a conservative culture and an environment of tightening media censorship. Stand-up comedy is where many of the sharpest Indian voices are commenting on social issues as they find humour in subjects as diverse as Bollywood, terrorism, Tinder, feminism, international cricket, youth suicide and Game of Thrones.
As part of the 2017 Melbourne International Comedy Festival, some of the brightest stars of Indian comedy, including Daniel Fernandes, Neeti Palta and Sapan Verma, performed in Australia. In this panel discussion, the three talk stand-up, censorship and how comedy might change the world with Bhakthi Puvanenthiran.
A League of One’s Own: The AFL, and Women’s Sport
There’s nothing new about women playing Australian Rules Football – they’ve been doing it for as long as men have. Local clubs for girls and women have existed for decades; there are now almost 1,000 of them around the country. Last year, participation jumped by 19% – with 380,000 Australian women playing throughout the year.
It’s always been clear that…
Lindy West on Feminism, Fat and Fighting Trolls
Lindy West joins Anne Summers for a lively conversation that traverses bodily autonomy, popular and intersectional feminism, and finding both validation and hate online.
In her first book, Shrill, Lindy West offers this memorable take on the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland: ‘She is the perfect feminazi caricature: fat, loud, irrational, violent, overbearing, constantly hitting a hedgehog with a flamingo…
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Centenary of International Women’s Day
It’s the centenary of International Women’s Day today and we thought we’d mark the occasion. We’ve asked novelist Kirsten Tranter to write a piece on the under-representation of women in major literary journals and magazines - read Kirsten’s essay here.
In case you haven’t already caught them, we also thought we’d point you towards some web links we liked. The Bond franchise’s Daniel Craig…
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