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Women in a Male World: the media, identity and self-worth

Moya-Sayer_Jones-Antonia-Case

Moya Sayer-Jones (left) revs up the audience, alongside Antonia Case.

“Is everyone feeling empowered? You will be after this session.”

Moya Sayer-Jones chaired the first session of the 2014 Byron Bay Writers’ Festival in the Womankind Marquee on Friday morning, and set a high standard for the discussion to follow.

Womankind, a new magazine with a decidedly different approach to connecting to its audience is edited by Antonia Case, who began the discussion by explaining how the magazine came to be.

“The first time a saw a women’s magazine I was 14 and I felt a new emotion of dissatisfaction in who I was, how I looked and my place in the world,” she said.

Case went on to say that the end result of this moment, several years later, was the creation of a magazine that “14-year-old girls could pick up and feel empowered” by it.

So what does it take to satisfy and empower readers? Sayer-Jones asked Case’s fellow panellists, Byron Bay authors Jesse Blackadder and Joanna Immig what were the three essential things for a good life as a way into answering that.

Immig answered deeply and chose liberty, equality and ecological sustainability. Blackadder, however, went for an everyday and even comedic answer.

‘I’m sorry to say that the first thing that came to my mind was coffee, alcohol and almond croissants,’ Blackadder laughed, before giving her ‘proper’ answer: “freedom, love and creativity”.

The discussion then moved back to the topic of women in advertising and the sense of oppressive power that advertisements can have over a woman.

Jesse-Blackadder-Joanna-Immig

Jesse Blackadder and Joanna Immig discussing women in advertising.

By way of example, Blackadder provided the crowd with a story about why she moved from Sydney to Byron Bay. She said she felt “attacked” with the constant “noise saying buy, buy, buy”.

“Everyday I drove between Bondi and Chatswood, and everyday I felt bombarded with advertisements,” she said.

Case said that we perceive the world in two different ways, consciously and subconsciously, and if we’re not careful the wrong messages can get in.

‘These major companies have top psychologists that figure out how to push your buttons, so your behaviour is altered without you even knowing,” she said. “And to me, that is quite a scary thing.”

Immig said: “We are able to block out the ads, young girls, however, cannot.’

Case said her magazine Womankind has replaced all the generic advertisements with beautiful objects and art so as to appeal to a woman’s love for beauty and aesthetics.

The session closed with some crowd questions and certainly delivered on the sesssion’s promise of feeling empowered by its end.

To quote Moya Sayer-Jones: “Thank you for clearing out the crap and finding a way through.”

Sophie Sambrook is a Southern Cross University Media student.

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