I’ve been published in Junkee today, talking about what the recent incident with Lawrence Mooney says about sexism in Australian comedy.
For men in comedy it’s an uncomfortable truth that even those who don’t sexually harass or intimidate women are complicit in a system that privileges them and their work. For men prepared to see this privilege, it is now incumbent upon them to be allies to the women in their industry and in audiences.
I have spent many years promoting, producing, publishing and reviewing comedy. I absoloutely love the artform at its best and loathe the reality of our local industry. Too many cis-straight-white dudes dominating and making it hard for others to learn the craft and find audiences. One of the things I only really came to grips with after I moved away from the bulk of my comedy work was the sexism and misogyny.
For women in the industry it is incredibly difficult to speak up about this because the punishment for doing so is harsh and real: you’re ostracised and your access to work is restricted. It’s not a deliberate campaign against you, it’s just that criticising those in power means they retract any support they may have offered.
I hope this resonates for other women who are (or have been) in the local comedy community, and above all I hope this makes a few of the men in the industry think about their complicity in the system.
This year has been one of the toughest of my life, professionally and personally. It has been a year where the highest of highs have been reached, but the lowest of lows have seemed to dominate. I’ve written less than I wanted to, but done amazing projects such as the Independent Publishing Conference. I’ve met wonderful people I haven’t had the opportunity to work with before, and said goodbye to a friend and co-worker I admired and loved dearly. I’ve read more books than I have in a long time, been published for the first time in publications I have wanted to see my work in, challenged myself to try new things. I founded an organisation for women writers, reviewed books on Triple RRR, facilitated sessions at the Melbourne Writers Festival.
At this stage of the year I’m feeling exhausted. There is a lot to process and a lot to consider as I head towards 2016. What do I want to achieve next year? What opportunities do I need to chase? What do I need to say no to? December and January will be my opportunity to think about these things, and to spend time focusing on my family and my health. Our writing community lost too many people this year, had our arts funding slashed, spent a huge amount of time in suspended animation trying to see where the chips would fall with government bodies and oversight. Here’s hoping 2016 is kinder to us all.
After an epic three days, the Independent Publishing Conference is finished for the year. I’m exhausted, but very happy with how the event went. I hadn’t planned to run an event of this size in 2015, but when the Small Press Network asked I couldn’t say no. The organisation is such an important part of our literary ecosystem, and I felt like this would be the perfect opportunity to learn more about the publishing/publishers aspects of our industry. Mostly when programming I work with artists, so this was a chance to expand my knowledge and use my programming skills in a different way.
So far feedback from the conference has been great, and while there were some challenges with logistics and the usual event hiccups, it seemed to go well. It was a pleasure to meet so many interesting people, and hear from such a wide range of speakers. I learned a great deal, and hope to have the opportunity to work with some of the people involved again.
For now I focus on all of the post-event logistics; reports, budgets, thank you’s, invoices. If I owe you an email please bear with me as I work through the overflowing inbox I’m facing.
Seeing Women in Literary Arts Australia come to life has been one of the proudest moments of my professional life. We launched back in June, and since then my co-conspirators Lisa Dempster and Kate Callingham and I have been quietly working behind the scenes pushing things along. The most important part of this was forming a steering committee to shape what WILAA will become.
Our aim is deceptively simple — to foster community and promote women in the literary arts — but cannot be authentic unless it engages with a broad range of women, many of whom identify as having other intersecting identities which inform their experiences as writers. It is vital that our steering committee reflects the diverse communities we endeavour to work with and for. Out of the individuals we approached only one was unable to join us. We have literally assembled our dream team. The people we felt would take this concept and give it a heart and soul. Some I have worked with before, most I have not. I can’t wait to see where they take WILAA.
So here they are, our steering committee.
This morning I joined the Breakfasters on Triple RRR to review Charlotte Wood’s The Natural Way of Things. It was a pleasure to talk about a book that has settled so uncomfortably (in a good way) into my mind.
You can listen to the podcast if you missed it.
This morning I joined the Breakfasters on Triple RRR to review Jane Harrison’s Becoming Kirrali Lewis. This gem of a book hasn’t had nearly the coverage it deserves, so I was pleased to sing its praises on air.
You can listen to the podcast if you missed it.
I love the Small Press Network. It’s an organisation that provides support to independent publishers who are producing fantastic work in a rapidly changing landscape. Organisations like this, which operate off the tiniest of budgets and offer their members such vital support, are integral to a healthy literature sector.
Having been to a previous Independent Publishing Conference I was pretty stoked when Mary from SPN reached out to ask if I’d be interested in taking on the role of coordinating the 2015 conference. I’m super excited to take on the role. It has felt strange not to be organising events since leaving Express, and it will be great to get this part of my brain working again. The conference takes place in November, so expect to hear more about it as the year progresses.
I had my first piece of writing published online at Overland today, which is pretty exciting. Overland have been publishing some really great, challenging articles about writing/writers lately, and I felt that this challenge to men in our industry would be perfectly at home there.
The article was one I wanted to write because I believe there are men who do want to be good allies, but sometimes they don’t know how. For those men, I hope there are some ideas here that give them practical ways to, at the very least, not be a roadblock that women writers have to overcome just to have the same opportunities as men at the same stages of their careers.
I had such an amazing time at the Emerging Writers’ Festival #writingwhilefemale day. I sat at the back of the room listening intently and tweeting madly, watching a room full of women share skills, network, support each other and generally live it up. Amaryllis Gacioppo did an amazing job of programming the day, and the whole EWF team (particularly Kate Callingham) did so much work to bring this to fruition.
I had the pleasure of telling the women in the room about the formation of WILAA, making them the first people to hear about what I hope will be a valuable organisation that makes a tangible difference for the women in our sector. I also published an update on the industry roundtable that took place in 2014 on the EWF blog, which speaks to many of the origins of WILAA.
Today is a day I have been eagerly anticipating for a long time. I finally get to share the project I’ve been working on for months, Women in Literary Arts Australia. I’m proud to have been working with Kate Callingham and Lisa Dempster on this, two women I respect and admire so much. We saw a need for something that supported the women in our industry to gain professional development, better networks and ways to work together more effectively. We committed to taking the first steps to creating an organisation which might meet these aims. Our hope is that these small beginnings will grow into a strong presence in the sector which makes a significant impact for women. I’m looking forward to our next steps, which will be to form a committee of women from all aspects of the sector to come together and set the agenda for the organisation.
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