Photo: Adventures in Biography

Photo: Adventures in Biography

Australia Day falls on 26 January – a public holiday and a long weekend that often spells the end of school (and other) holidays. The English First Fleet – full of sailors, marines and convicts – arrived at what would become Sydney Cove on 26 January 1788.  So Australia Day is also known colloquially to some as Invasion Day.  Elizabeth Macarthur arrived with the Second Fleet, some two and a half years later.

None of this is news to my Australian readers of course, but I do sometimes have readers from elsewhere stopping by.  G’day and welcome one and all!

Over the summer I’ve come across some fascinating articles.  Perhaps you might have time to browse over the long weekend…

From ‘mankind’ to ‘mansplain,’ the descent of ‘man’: why marking things as manly now means something so different.

“Manspreading” joins a host of other mocking “man” terms coined over the last decade or so to describe specifically male actions and objects: man cave, man boobs (or moobs), man-hug, man date, manscaping (male personal grooming), mandal (a man’s sandal). 2012 was the year when “mansplaining” went big: That’s the male act of expecting a woman to listen patiently to the explanation of something she probably already knows.  It’s true, as Joe says, that these words are aimed at men, sometimes with gentle humor and sometimes more pointedly. However, their linguistic weaponry—what’s known in the field as “gender marking”—merely rights a balance that has been tipped massively in favor of men for centuries. The very reason these words are so unexpected and satisfying (for women, at least) is that they do to male words what English has done to female words for as long as people have been speaking the language.

Gender blah,blah, blah by Katherine Angel

Writing — coming to writing — is a profound act of self-realization that can be as arduous and painful as it can be exhilarating. I try hard not to coalesce all men into one lumpen category, including those who doubtless have also overcome struggles, internal and external, to be where they are. Struggles are often invisible. But one need only look at the pages of our literary magazines to see that women’s writing has a wholly different status culturally — Alice Munro, Hilary Mantel, Eleanor Catton notwithstanding. Our idea of serious, intellectual writing appears to be overwhelmingly male.

Examining the Myth of the Pioneer Woman (thanks to Buffalo for this link)

This article examines who exactly the Pioneer Woman of myth is, and where and when she emerges in an Australian ‘national consciousness.’ … At a time when the recognition of the racism, exploitation and violence that characterised early white settlers’ relations with Indigenous peoples remains contentious, the myth, I conclude, continues to hold contemporary resonance because as an ‘origins’ story, it brings together race and land/country in a way that glossed over a colonial history of settler violence and Indigenous dispossession.

How to Interview a Woman Writer

If she is attractive; tell your readers exactly how attractive, within the first paragraph. Speculate on whether she is attracted to you.  If she has become successful and not moved to a Western country; ask why, speculate on if she realizes how attractive she is: could this be the reason why she hasn’t moved?  If she writes about a non-Western country; see if you can find a dead white guy to quote. It will help orientate any readers who are feeling panicked.

And for an excellent weekly round-up of literary women featured in the media, I can highly recommend The Writes of Woman. (Make yourself a cuppa first.)