Friday, May 14, 2010

up against it -again. always

There's a strong editorial from Sophie Cunningham for the latest Meanjin, pointing out that the gains(not) for women over the last decades are something to keep in the forefront of concerns, that feminism is not something to be shunned as a quaint old seventies marker.

She concludes:
"Last year not a single female lead singer was included in Triple J’s hottest 100 survey. Catherine Strong explores the implications on this in her essay ‘The Triple J Hottest 100 of All Time 2009 and the Dominance of the Rock Canon’ on p. 124 of this issue. I could go on. I won’t. I’ll just say this: either women can’t sing, paint, write or think as well as they used to—certainly not well enough to offset their tendency to become less beautiful with age—or we live in a culture that does not like the things women say or does not know how to hear them when they say it. In other words, Irigaray is right. Women sit outside language."


I read this just having listened this morning, as it happened, to Julie Rigg discussing the gains(not) for women directors in the fillum industry on Radio National this morning, specifically through an interview with Melissa Silverstein, the author of the Woman and Hollywood blog. Silverstein has written a fair bit about the lack of women directors being featured at this year's Cannes Film Festival. It's but one example.

And I had been thinking, natürlich, about Australian poetry. OK, just two things, but there's plenty more. I recall that more than one reviewer of my own work (OK, it's what I know) in the past has mentioned that it was about 'the domestic'. Not only does it miss so much of what I do write (carelessly?, deliberately?), but I wonder does the work of male writers who write about 'the domestic' - whatever that actually means - ever get that label slapped on them? Because, plenty Australian male poets do write 'the domestic' (if that means 'relationships', the 'private realm', intimacy, home and suburbs, etc), and good on them. My latest book contains a number of shorter poems. I can see that getting skewed (because I have heard this kind of comment, in general) towards the poems being, somehow, 'feminine' because they are short. Do I predict this - no. But it won't surprise me.

And another thing, the current spin regarding the grouping together of a number of emerging Australian poets, who happen to be women, under some kind of rubric of the 'new Australian lyric' or, as someone more snidely called it, 'the ladies of the lyric' - a term referenced in this interesting discussion at Poetry International. It sounds like another way to patronise women writers, and to ignore the great differences between the work of those poets, by sidelining them in a way that focuses on their gender (and presumed age, let's not forget that one - it still seems necessary to refer to women's ages) rather than their writing.

But I'll end not on a militant note but repeat a reference I made on the now-deleted discussion on Pam Brown's blog about some of these issues, a reference to language, which is where Sophie's editorial started and ended (with a reference to Irigary and her theory of language):

I like these lines from Kathleen Fraser:
‘this / lyric error forever this / something embarrassingly clear, this / language we come up against’ (‘continuous/ indefinable’).


We will come up against language, always.

2 comments:

Adam Aitken said...

"Ladies of Lyric?!! what the f--k? who wrote that?

Adam

Jill Jones said...

It was an anonymous comment - laden with irony, I take it.