Monday 5 June 2023

Expelled from the Australian Wearable Art Festival, part 1


Yesterday, about 15 minutes after publishing my Going Nowhere blog post, I received an email confirming I am expelled as a finalist in the Australian Wearable Art Festival.

My expulsion is due to my public stance defending womens rights. The organisers of the festival, Wendy and Helen feared there would be backlash from the Trans/Queer/Non binary (TQ) people involved in the event if I was present. A particular focus of their concern was ensuring the backstage area should be a “safe space for everyone”. The backstage is of course where the models change into the garments that are going out onto the runway and get their makeup done.

Initially Helen, Wendy and I were going to have a phone conversation on Sunday but I got the email cancelling me instead so there wasn’t a chance to have a discussion about what happens backstage. If it had happened I did plan to ask what were the privacy arrangements for women who are getting dressed and undressed. It seems likely that backstage there may be men who say they are women, identifying as trans women and non binary. I am pretty sure the toilet facilities will be unisex and that correct pronouns may be enforced. And if any or all of that is true, it would have made me uncomfortable.

The foremost thing that makes me uncomfortable is that there is no consultation with how women feel being put in that possible situation. While some might have no misgivings at all, others may feel differently. A conservative Muslim woman would most definitely not allow herself to be in that position. Therefore a conservative Muslim woman would either not apply to enter the Wearable Art Festival, or have to make other arrangements backstage for her dignity, privacy and religious obligations. What happened to the much vaunted TQ assertions that they uphold “diversity and inclusiveness”?

This scenario neatly encapsulates many of the problems I have with the imposition of TQ ideology. Women are put in circumstances where we are directly impacted and not consulted about how we feel about our right to privacy and dignity. If we express discomfort or concerns we are scorned as bigots and transphobes. If we express them too publicly, you can lose your job or be cancelled off social media. Or get expelled from the Australian Wearable Art Festival. That we have a right to speak and not be shamed or coerced into going along with things we disagree with is not given any respect. It seems that the right of men to claim rainbow identities will always override the concerns of women and give them a free pass into spaces that have been segregated exclusively for women until recently.

I’ll continue this blog post tomorrow as I'm still in a state of extreme distress and upset. 

I’m incredibly grateful to the people both online and in my local community today who are rallying around to support me.

Below is a link to the contact form of the Australian Wearable Art Festival. If you think I have been unfairly discriminated against please send the organisers an email to let them know you think they made a wrong decision.

Contact AWAF

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