Recently I posted a photo of my cleavage to twitter.
I know, shock horror, old lady cleavage.
What was I thinking?
Dr Jennifer Wilson from No Place for Sheep had decided that a frivolous avalanche of cleavage was the proper response to Collier’s assertion that our PM, Julia Gillard, displayed too much flesh in parliament. Collier declared publicly that in her professional opinion, cleavage was inappropriate in the work place.
I find it ridiculous that the PM’s cleavage is being discussed at all but as Dr Wilson went on to say in her blog post
However, it appears that almost every one of Ms Gillard’s physical characteristics have been fair game for the loons. Please feel free to tweet images of your fingernails,your ear lobes, your hair, your glasses, your jackets, or, if you feel like it, your arse. Do use the same hash tag, in the interests of order.
Dr Wilson also warned that :
… this exercise is entirely frivolous and will achieve nothing. Yes, I expect we will be gored by Helen Razer (after Baudrillard) for our mindless capitulation to empty symbolism.
With the idea of mindless capitulation and empty symbolism firmly in mind, I tweeted my image and joined in the light hearted protest. I wasn’t the only woman on twitter to find Collier’s position ridiculous and hundreds of women along with some men, posted images of their cleavage and other body parts to twitter, with the hashtag #convoyofcleavage. There was much hilarity to be had with humorous tweeps posting photos of their knitting instead of cleavage, there were plumbers cracks to be seen and even Piccinini’s Sky Whale made an appearance. I walked away feeling that I had been a part of a gentle piss take aimed at the gender police.
Destroy the Joint made a montage of images and as far as I was concerned that was that.
Except it wasn’t.
A friend showed me a vitriolic stream of abuse aimed at all the women who had dared flash a bit of boob.
The abuse carried on in that vein for quite some time. I started off just rolling my eyes as I read the tweets, but the more I thought about the abuse, the more I began to take it personally, until I started stomping around the house angrily muttering to myself about oppression.
I have deliberately erased the author’s name as this article is NOT really about her though her tweets were the catalyst.
This article is about the silencing of women.
I know that a number of my peers will not talk about feminism publicly because they are afraid of being mocked and humiliated for their views. It is the same with politics, current affairs, even food. It seems to me that there are some vocal inhabitants of the online space who loudly trumpet, that if you do not have a triple degree you are not allowed to discuss anything at all.
I am 47 years old and it seems like all my life, someone has been trying to shut me up.
My father tried to beat silence into me. The nuns tried to shame me into silence and now high profile women are trying to use ridicule and abuse to silence me again.
I am tired of it.
And I will publicly exhort you who are reading these words of mine, DO NOT BE SILENCED.
Do not allow yourselves to be silenced by those vociferous voices on twitter, or in the many public forums online.
Do not listen to the naysayers,telling you that you are wrong or stupid or that it can’t be done or that you are doing it wrong.
Just do what ever you want to do and ignore everything else except for the beating of your own heart and the taste of your own passion as it drives you forward to be anything you want, do anything you want, believe anything you want.
Without fear or favour.
Life is too short for small thoughts.