Posts for the Womens Dept

Wom*n’s Officer’s Report – Week 12, Sem 1, 2016

Anna Hush

The past week has seen the issue of sexual harassment and assault on university campuses take the spotlight in mainstream media. To see an issue usually shrouded in secrecy and silence make the front page of the Sydney Morning
Herald is very exciting, and a great step towards removing the stigma around sexual assault and empowering survivors to come forward and tell their stories.

Last Monday, in the midst of a media frenzy, the Vice Chancellor sent out an email to all students with the results of the Safer Communities survey. While the report emphasised that “it is encouraging to see this figure [the rate of incidents of harassment and assault on campus] is much lower than occurrences in the general public”, the report also contained some very alarming statistics. One quarter of students surveyed had experienced an incident of harassment or assault during their studies, with LGBTIAQ+ students particularly at risk. Of the students that reported their experience of assault, 41% felt that the University’s formal procedures did not help them at all. This is a cause for great concern, and should act as a call to action for the University to rethink completely its approach to sexual harassment and assault.

There is a vital need for a specific mechanism for students to formally report sexual harassment and assault. While the report recommends that the University ‘clarify and simplify’ these mechanisms, in reality the opposite is needed: the  evidence shows that streamlining these services does not work. Complaints about sexual assault are of a completely different nature to complaints about academic misconduct, and a generic online form is not an adequate mechanism for students to report these experiences.

We need trained specialists on hand to support students through processes that are often alienating and traumatic. We need a confidential reporting mechanism, that doesn’t suggest that students resolve the matter informally with the perpetrator, as the current complaints process does. More than anything, we need the University to listen to students and survivors throughout this process so we can create a system that students feel safe engaging in.

If you have feedback or suggestions for the ways in which reporting processes could be improved, please email usydwomenscollective@gmail.com – I would love to hear students’ perspectives on this.

Wom*n of Colour Report – Week 10, Sem 1, 2016

by Vanessa Song

The women of colour collective is currently trying to create a constitution and set of regulations in order to allow OBs and members to clearly navigate the collective.

Our fortnightly meeting times have not been attracting very many collective members and so the collective is looking at amending the current fortnightly meeting time of Mondays 4-5pm to another time as dictated by a majority within the collective.

The women of colour collective hopes to run a race and sensitivity workshop in conjunction with other collectives before the end of semester.
We will hopefully begin to engage more women of colour on campus after establishing a constitution and regulations. If you are interested in getting involved with the Women of Colour Collective please email usydwomenofcolourcollective@gmail.com or like our facebook page!

Kindest Regards,
Vanessa Song

Wom*n’s Officer’s Report – Week 8, Sem 1, 2016

The Women of Colour Collective is currently in discussion upon whether or not to temporarily lift the unanimously voted on and passed moratorium placed on the facebook group. Our main focuses for this semester will hopefully be the creation of a constitution and regulations so that future OBs can adequately navigate the collective in the right direction.

The Women of Colour Collective has also discussed running a sexual assault campaign in the latter part of this year in conjunction with other collectives within the SRC.

A Race and Sensitivity workshop is also in development in conjunction with the Autonomous Collective against racism and will hopefully take place at the end of semester.

Overall the collective has been through quite a difficult time and is learning how to implement regulations and changes to ensure that breaches of autonomy do not occur again.

If you want to get involved with the Women of Colour Collective, you can find us on facebook at facebook.com/usydwomenofcolourcollective/ or come along to our fortnightly meetings held Monday 4-5pm.

Wom*n’s Officer’s Report – Week 4, Sem 1, 2016

Last week, the Wom*n’s Collective and the Wom*n of Colour Collective co-hosted a picnic for our collective members, and a contingent took to the streets to rally on the occasion of the International Women’s Day (IWD) march. The day prompted me to reflect the history of IWD, and the potential that still lies in celebrating the event.

The first Women’s Day was held 107 years ago in Manhattan. The inaugural event was organised by the Socialist Party of America, in solidarity with the strike of the Garment Worker’s Union. Two thousand women took to the streets to demand better pay and working conditions in the factories. On 8 March 1917, IWD protesters joined Putilov factory workers in Petrograd to protest the introduction of food rations, in large-scale events that eventually triggered the February Revolution. The Soviet Union declared IWD a national holiday the next year, in recognition of the contributions of women textile workers to the mass strike and the changes it brought about.

Since then, the revolutionary roots of the day have been somewhat watered down, with IWD traditions bearing little resemblance to the first radical protests. In Italy, the day is celebrated by men giving women yellow flowers; the Taiwanese government, bizarrely, marks IWD by releasing a national survey on women’s waist sizes, warning of the consequences of obesity for women. In countries like Australia, IWD events are too often focused on white, bourgeois issues like corporate gender equity, celebrated at expensive champagne brunches that have little relevance to the lives of most working-class women.

Nevertheless, the day still acts as a reminder of the same issues feminists have been fighting for throughout the past century, like fair working conditions, equality in decision-making, and bodily autonomy. It is a good time to take stock of the gains we’ve made (primarily through direct actions, like those of the first Women’s Days) and the roadblocks that still impede the movement (like the corporatisation of gender equality); to remember that without justice for all women, there is no justice.

Wom*n of Colour Officer’s Report – Week 2, Sem 1, 2016

We are currently in week 2 of semester! WoCC is working in conjunction with WoCo to put on the Growing Strong Launch, held on the 22nd of March at 107 Projects. There will be food and music and an opportunity for contributors to showcase their work. Confirmed performers include Dweeb City and Xiaoran Shi, It is guaranteed to be an amazing night, this is a non-autonomous event.

A picnic and banner painting session will also take place on the 12th of March at Victoria Park, before the International Women’s Day March taking place in Hyde Park, hosted in conjunction with the Wom*n’s Collective.

WoCC is also delving into holding Race and Sensitivity workshops on campus this year, hopefully in order to create more awareness about intersectional feminism on campus.

Our first meeting will be taking place on the 7th of March at 4-5pm where we’ll be discussing the outlook and ideas for 2016 as well as the goals of the collective. There will be music and craft available for collective members to be involved in, as well as the opportunity to meet one another. The meeting will take place in the Women’s Room in Manning House.

If you would like to contribute to the Women of Colour Collective, please join our facebook group here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/502317086477436/ and like our facebook page here for regular updates:

https://www.facebook.com/usydwomenofcolourcollective/?fref=ts
or shoot us an email here at: usydwomenofcolourcollective@gmail.com

Wom*n’s Officer’s Report – O-week 2016

The past few months have been a very exciting time as Wom*n’s Officer!

Editing the annual Wom*n’s Collective publication, Growing Strong, was an amazing experience. The journal is a showcase of art, stories and articles by wom*n and non-binary people. The launch will be held on March 22 at 107 Projects, and will be an amazing night of art, readings and music. Free copies are also available at our O Week stall – come grab one and check out the incredible creative talent of WoCo members! We’ll also have some sweet stickers, zines and info that you can pick up.

fEMPOWER, our program of feminist workshops for high school students, has grown exponentially over the summer. High schools from Wagga Wagga to Melbourne have contacted us with interest in our workshops, so it will be a busy year delivering workshops and expanding the project! If you’d like to volunteer or find out more, email us at fempower.workshops@gmail.com.

I can’t wait for the coming year of activism and education with the Wom*n’s Collective! Drop by our O Week stall for a chat, and come to our weekly meetings – they’ll be held on Tuesdays at 1pm, in the Wom*n’s Room (Level 1, Manning).

Wom*n’s Officers’ Report – 2015 Recap

What a year! It is a pleasure to write my last Honi Soit report as Wom*n’s Officer.
2015 has undoubtedly been a huge year for the Wom*n’s Collective. It has been one of the most difficult, but rewarding years of my life. I have been lucky to have so much support from members of the Wom*n’s Collective, who have given countless hours of unpaid labour to our campaigns and initiatives this year.

The nature of collective organising is that there are always too many names to name, but there are two people that I must thank individually: Anna Hush – there is not one campaign or initiative I have run this year without your enthusiastic involvement. You have been the greatest source of support, wisdom and friendship. Julia Readett – not only did you commit completely to your year as Wom*n’s Officer, you guided and supported me through my term (and your honours year!) as well. You were there when I needed intra-Collective grievances resolved, to answer my questions and to assure me to continue as Wom*n’s Officer, even when I considered resigning.

The year has involved too many projects to list, so I will just draw attention to the ‘biggest’ ones I’ve been a part of. The University sexual harassment and assault campaign! We are nowhere near finished with this project, but we got a great survey that will continue this important conversation on an institutional level.

Our campaign against gendered violence! From the panel at Radical Sex & Consent Week, through to the workshop recently given by Karen Willis and the money raised in collaboration with the Sydney University Law Society (SULS), each event and initiative is something we should be proud of.

The feminist education workshops! Talking to students about intersectional feminism and introducing them to figures like Laverne Cox, Stella Young and Zadie Smith has been, and will continue to be, such a rewarding experience.

And of course, the tampon tax. We did not succeed, but to be on national television with the Wom*n’s Collective holding a giant tampon behind me and to get a ‘yes’ from a Liberal treasurer, was, to put it modestly, a moment I will never forget.

Activism by it’s nature is thankless, but I want to thank everyone who has worked with me this year. I look forward to a bright future of continuing to smash kyriarchy!

Wom*n’s Department Report – Radical Sex & Consent Week and more..

Hello! There are a lot of exciting things to report back on, so I won’t waste words with a witty intro. A huge congratulations to Courtney Thompson and Victoria Zerbst for organising Radical Sex & Consent Week – it was a huge success! It was a pleasure to run the sex positivity debate and sexual assault/gendered violence panel. Thank you to all the students who attended the festival, helped organise it and the speakers who gave up the time to educate us. It was fantastic to watch SRC Collectives work so seamlessly with the USU!
As a follow up to the panel we ran at Rad Sex, we are working with the Sydney University Law Society (SULS) to run a workshop about how to respond when someone discloses an experience of sexual assault. The workshop is being run by Karen Willis from Rape & Domestic Violence Australia, please come along! It is non-autonomous and entry costs $10 to recoup our costs (the rest will be donated to the Full Stop Foundation to fight the closure of Hey Sis! we reported on a few months ago). It is being held on the 24th of September, from 4.30-5.30 in the Law Lounge. Please register via e-mail at usydwomenscollective@gmail.com.

We have been continuing our work with ‘fEMPOWER’ – our feminist education workshops for high school students. Anna and myself are going to Penrith high School to meet with their principal who is interested in running the program. We’ve also confirmed interest from North Sydney Girls High School. The hope is that we can run workshops at both of these schools by the end of the semester.

Most excitingly, the university is about to release a survey to collect information about sexual harassment on campus. This information will be used to help formulate university policy so that we can all enjoy a safer campus. This survey has been the product of over a years worth of work and is only happening because of the persistent lobbying of students. Look out for an article about it soon!

A Voice for Wom*n of Colour

It’s an honour to write for ACAR Honi, as feminist spaces have a long, toxic and continuing history of championing the voices of white women at the expense of women of colour. This is a reality that our own Wom*n’s Collective has not been immune to. We cannot understate the struggle and persistence of the amazing women who took (and take) the time and emotional energy to educate others and in doing so helped the Wom*n’s Collective to be a space that now practices intersectionality.

Wom*n’s Honi, despite being the source of many conservative tears (sorry not sorry Mon Droit and Nick Cater), was a tribute to this. From critiques of Patricia Arquette’s white feminism, to analyses of race and emotional labour, the prison system and the role of photography in decolonisation, there were pages of articles that centred the experiences of women of colour. In spite of this, we recognise that the Wom*n’s Collective will never be a “safe space” for women of colour, as the world is not a “safe space” for women of colour.

Every day there are stories of women of colour being bashed, beaten, harassed and murdered. Just this year, we heard the horrendous story of Sandra Bland, an African American woman who was found dead in her jail cell, after an unwarranted arrest. We especially remember the trans women of colour who have been murdered this year. In the USA, of the 19 that we know the names of, 13 women were black and 17 were women of colour. Australia is not separate to these systems of violence, but implicated in them. We must never forget the colonial legacy of sexual violence and exploitation of Aboriginal women that defined and persists in defining our nation.

To end more optimistically, things are starting to change. Whether it’s the number of #teamnicki tweeters doubling the number of #teamtaylor tweeters, or the response to the whitewashing of the new Stonewall film, white feminism and white-centred politics are being dismantled with greater vigour every day. We can only attribute this to the centuries of activism of women of colour. We quote the words of women like Audre Lorde, bell hooks and Gayatri Spivak (and the countless others) often, but today we take a moment to truly and graciously thank them. It is the activists of the past that have given us a liveable present, and who provide the foundations for our continuing fight to smash the kyriarchy.

Welcome back to another semester of intersectional activism and creativity!

Hey, feminists! Welcome back to another semester of intersectional activism and creativity. We hope you’ve had a restful break and are ready to get back into some feminist shenanigans.

Over the past month or so, a few collective members have been busy wheatpasting Camperdown/Darlington campus and Newtown with anti-street harassment posters, to protest the 87% of Australian women who have experienced verbal or physical abuse whilst walking down the street. Xiaoran is planning to do regular wheatpasting nights featuring original feminist artwork by collective members.

Subeta also organised our first intersectionality workshop with high school students (“fEMPOWER”) across NSW. Thanks to Anna, Julia, Margery, Lane, Brigitte, Freya, Kitty and Arabella, who volunteered and have been consistently committed to this project. From our feedback we scored a mighty 4.94/5 as an average for being “friendly and informative volunteers” and literally all 34 of the students wanted the workshop to be run again in their school, as well as extension workshops—both of which we’re planning at the moment.

Xiaoran is also firing up to launch the new Wom*n’s Library. So far, we’ve received donations and offers of support from Spinifex Press, The Women’s Library in Newtown and Jura Books. We are relying heavily on the generous donations of likeminded organisations and individuals, so donations are welcome. We’ll also be holding a Wom*n’s Library launch and book drive soon.

Finally, the Stop Taxing My Period campaign is not over yet! After a busy break Subeta spent talking to the Senior Advisors to the State/Territory Treasurers leading up to the CFFR (Council of Federal Financial Relations) meeting where the issue is to be discussed, things are looking optimistic. To get those dithering states (including NSW) on side, there are rallies on the 14th of August that you can find on Facebook.

Last but certainly not least, our weekly collective meetings will be held at the same time of Thursdays at 1pm in the Manning Wom*n’s Room. We also have a secret Facebook group where we do a lot of the planning for our projects, so if you’d like to join, don’t hesitate to add us on Facebook and we’ll add you to the group quick smart.

usydwomenscollective@gmail.com.