feminist of the week: catherine deveny
Name: Catherine Deveny
Age: almost 45
Occupation: Comedian, writer, speaker
Hometown: Melbourne, Australia
Describe yourself in one word: Irreverent.
What is your feminist philosophy?
A husband is not a financial plan. What women need is Fuck Off Status. They need to have their house, their business, their money and be able to tell anyone they don’t want to deal with to fuck off.
We need to encourage all women and girls to aim for fuck off status (not to just dream of marrying a footballer) and encourage all men and boys to enable and support it.
Why is feminism important in today’s world?
Today’s world? It’s always been important. Feminism is simply believing men and women are entitled to equal access to power, control, decision making, money, leisure and happiness and acknowledging that they’re not. It’s nothing new.
How has New Media helped the feminist fight?
The democratisation of information means there are less gatekeepers in charge of who can say what, where, how and when. Technology changes. Human nature doesn’t. Feminism has always used whatever it can to make change and move forward. The axis of evil that has been in control – religion, the state and patriarchy – is being dissolved, dismantled and detonated by the triptych of feminism, atheism and the internet.
How has your use of comedy helped you further the feminist cause?
I have no idea. Ask people who come to my shows, read my books or book me to MC their conferences or get me on their debates. Perhaps pricking pomposity. Living an unconventional life.
Women live in fear of men killing them, men living in fear of men laughing at them. I laugh. And I don’t get killed, put into an institution or thrown in jail. Not only that but I flourish.
My life is better than most people’s holidays.
Do you think feminism has a branding issue? If so, why and how do you suggest the movement can fix it?
No. I think people are threatened by equality. People’s response to change is fear and their response to fear is conservatism. As soon as you hear the word ‘militant’ ‘radical’ or ‘fringe’ you know their sphincters are tightening.
And the way they respond is by undermining something by slamming it with claims it’s not doing it properly. Great people do things, mediocre people talk about doing it, small people bag other people for doing things.
What is the most important feminist cause in your life?
Raising feminist sons.
What are the main challenges Australian women are facing today?
What does the feminist movement in Australia look like?
No idea. I don’t spend time looking around. I just get on with it and get stuck in. I am not a navel gazer. I am a doer.
Why is No Chicks No Excuses important in helping women in Australia?
Because women are not fairly represented in our public debate. When you look at a lineup of speakers at a conference, columnists on an opinion page or broadcasters on a radio station, women are lucky to be one in five. When you ask why the organisers say ‘we couldn’t find any women,’ I would always ask ‘Where did you look?’ We set up No Chicks so they had no excuse.
What is the most annoying feminist stereotype in your opinion? Why?
I have no idea what you mean. I see no catalogue of feminist stereotypes. Men have opinions, women are opinionated, men speak, women are outspoken, men are passionate, women rant, men have mouths, women are mouthy and when was the last time you heard a man called feisty, bitter, sassy or shrill? These ‘stereotypes’ you speak of don’t exist.
They are simply used to undermine the cause.
When did you have your feminist awakening?
Spending an hour every Sunday for the first 18 years of my life sitting in a medieval torture chamber listen to a man bang on about his invisible friend in the sky and call men god, the son of god, not made in the image of god and women as virgins, martyrs or whores.
Why should men take up the feminist cause?
Because it has and will continue to enhance their quality of life dramatically and because it’s right.
What’s your advice to other feminists?
Do not encourage girls to be nice or pretty. A husband is not a financial plan. If you are getting people’s noses out of joint you are on the right track.
Get more of Catherine at her website!