Bleats

Shakespeare's Toxic Masculinity Is Frighteningly Timely For 2020

"There’s something different about the way you walk through the world that comes with a privilege."

This Sunday the 8th of March is International Women’s Day. It’s a day to celebrate all women and their achievements, but it’s also a good opportunity to recognise the progress that’s yet to be made – particularly when it comes to gender roles.

While society has become more open-minded in recent times, negative stereotypes are still being reinforced from a young age. According to CNN, a 2018 analysis of three studies found “toddler boys are expected to look masculine and play with ‘boy toys,’ while toddler girls were expected to look like girls, play with feminine toys and be communal.”

According to the UN Human Rights, “harmful gender stereotypes are one of the root causes for discrimination, abuse and violence,” and can drive a lasting wedge between the genders. 

One organisation that is flipping the script on tired gender roles is Bell Shakespeare, who has just opened 2020 with a new production of the Shakespeare classic, Hamlet, starring a female in the lead role.

We were lucky enough to speak to Hamlet actress Harriet Gordon-Anderson on the latest episode of It’s Been A Big Day For…to chat about how highlighting the toxic masculinity of the iconic tragedy through a female lens is incredibly enlightening for audiences. 

“[Hamlet] is incredibly misogynistic,” she said. “We thought it was really interesting to have those words spoken from a female mouth, from a female body and see what that can show us.”

“My biggest challenge with this role was accessing male rage,” Gordon-Anderson revealed. “I’ve been down this horrid spiral of incels and toxic masculinity.”

“The term male range in itself is interesting. There’s something different about the way you walk through the world that comes with a privilege. Not just white privilege, but male privilege,” she said. “It’s someone who has grown up never questioning themselves, never questioning being horrible to someone and that being the right thing to do. His relationship with his mother and all the women around him is of complete unquestioned superiority.”

“It’s given me a broader sense of empathy. It’s coming from pain, from loneliness, and an inability for these young men to express themselves, not be allowed to listen to their feelings and their hearts. That’s the patriarchy and the negative effect it’s having on young boys.”

Bell Shakespeare’s Hamlet is now showing at Sydney Opera House, Playhouse until April 4th. For performance dates in Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne, you can head to bellshakespeare.com.au.

How You Can Support Indigenous Women This International Women's Day

"Listen to learn, not to respond."

ICYMI, this Sunday the 8th of March is International Women’s Day. It’s a day to recognise and appreciate the women around us but – as the name suggests – it’s just as much a day to support and lift up all women around the world, including Indigenous women. 

Tiddas4Tiddas is a social media initiative and podcast empowering Indigenous women by telling their stories and helping them know their worth. 

The GOAT team was lucky enough to speak to Tiddas4Tiddas founder Marlee Silva on the latest ep of It’s Been A Big Day For… about the challenges and pressure Indigenous women face in Australia and how we can support women not just on International Women’s Day, but all year round. 

Listen to our chat with Silva on It’s Been A Big Day For… below:

“Tidda is an Aboriginal slang word that we use on the East Coast and it means sister,” Silva explained. “It’s something I grew up calling every Aboriginal girl in my life, regardless of whether I was related to them or not.”

“It’s all about supporting each other and cheering each other, and it’s for all women.”

When asked about the hurdles young Indigenous women are facing, Silva said, “There’s still massive challenges around the expectations that other people have of Indigenous women. I used to work in high schools with young girls and you’re not expected to achieve much. The bar is set very low – it’s a miracle if you finish Year 12. That’s the attitude, but it’s not the case.”

Silva also shared her advice on how to show support. “I think it’s about not being afraid to be vulnerable, to drop your ego and be honest about where you’re at in your relationship with Indigenous Australia. We’re all on different journeys and there’s nothing wrong with not knowing but there’s something wrong with not knowing and not trying to do better, or know more.”

“When you are listening, or stopping to listen to Aboriginal voices, listen to learn, not to respond. Quite often, people slide into your DMs with a loaded question that you know is backed up by a very well-rehearsed debate about ‘why you’re wrong and I’m right.’ Because we’ve been so absent from so many conversations for over 250 years it is about us retelling our truths and our history and reclaiming that.”

It’s so important we continue to educate ourselves, appreciate and respect the Aboriginal land we live on, and listen to the stories of others, especially this International Women’s Day. You can follow Tiddas4Tiddas on Instagram or listen to the Tiddas4Tiddas podcast for more incredible and inspiring content. 

Badass Women We Need To Remember In 2020: Fanny Cochrane Smith

She was the last fluent speaker of the Tasmanian language.

WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander readers are warned that the following article contains images of deceased persons.

This Sunday, the 8th of March is International Women’s Day. It’s a day celebrated all over the world when all women are recognised for their achievements – both great and small. 

Speaking of IWD, listen to the GOAT team chat to Sandra Sully about the importance of using your voice on It’s Been A Big Day For…below:

While there are countless women both here, and overseas, that are at the forefront of improving gender equality and fighting against sexual discrimination and injustice, there are just as many trailblazers who have sadly passed away.

These women paved the way and smashed glass ceilings for generations to come and deserve just as much recognition this International Women’s Day.

One of those people is Fanny Cochrane Smith, a proud Aboriginal woman who is widely considered to be the last surviving fluent speaker of the Tasmanian language.

According to Amnesty International, Fanny Cochrane Smith was taken away from her parents at just five years old and orphaned at the Queen’s Orphanage in Hobart. She spent her childhood in domestic service, but once she gained her freedom it reportedly became apparent that she had “an entrepreneurial flair.”

After settling in Nicholls Rivulet with her husband William Smith, the ABC reports that Cochrane Smith “became an esteemed community member and a trailblazer for her people.”

Between 1899 and 1903, recordings of Fanny Cochrane Smith singing and speaking in the Tasmanian Aboriginal Language were made on wax cylinders and preserved through TMAG. They have since been officially inscribed on UNESCO’s Australian Memory of the World Register at a ceremony in Canberra. 

“She was a strong woman, a woman who stood up and spoke about what was going on,” Fanny’s descendant, Palawa elder Rodney Dillon told ABC. “Bearing in mind she would have known of the atrocities of the things that happened in the past to her families… She was singing about what was important to her as an Aboriginal person.”

Amnesty International describes Fanny Cochrane Smith as “an influential matriarch for her family members who maintain those traditions to this day.”

Fannny Cochrane Smith passed away on the 24th of February 1905 at 70 years old, but the legacy she leaves behind for Indigenous people, and Indigenous females in particular, will always be respected and remembered.

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