International Women’s Day

First up – our boy Heath didn’t win. I’m not happy but the winner of the Archibald Prize for Portraiture in Australia was Del Kathryn Barton with her self-portrait of herself with her two children entitled “You are what is most beautiful about me.”


Second up, I have a treat for you but I am saving it for the mid-week post so MAKE SURE YOU TUNE IN, it will only take 20 minutes of your time but well worth the expenditure. Trust me!

In the meantime Love Ones,   March 8th is International Women’s Day. The courtly gentlemen of Italy will present their women folk with sprigs of Mimosa but others in many parts of the world are not so lucky. Female genital mutilation, sex-based abortion, female infanticide, child prostitution, sexual slavery, the honor killing of women, vengeful acid attacks from rejected suitors, domestic violence or even just inequality; women throughout the world still face horrendous and systematic gender based discrimination.

The women’s movement as we know it today began in the early 1900′s when 15,000 angry garment workers marched in New York, suffragette’s raged in Britain and the first International Women’s Day was launched on March 8th, 1911 in Copenhagen. International Women’s Day was used as a vehicle of protest against World War 1 and in Russia, the demonstrations that marked International Women’s Day kick-started the Russian Revolution. After the 1920′s IWD dwindled until it was revived by feminists in the 1960′s and finally in 1977, the United Nations officially declared March 8th, International Women’s Day throughout the world. Today, it is a way for women to highlight ongoing injustices but also a day to celebrate achievements. It is a day to both reflect and rejoice.

To celebrate International Women’s Day I asked some readers to share their thoughts on one of their favorite women.

Madame Jeanne Rabinscheidt was my French teacher at an all girls’ private boarding school on the eastern seaboard of Australia. She was a Parisian Jew and even in her late 60′s she was the most glamorous woman I had ever seen. She arrived every day wearing a broad-brimmed hat tied with a large silk bow under her chin, Jackie O sunglasses, a full skirt cinched at her tiny waist and gloves!  She was elegant, dignified and impregnable, her face the landscape of sorrow and I always wondered what wind had blown such an exotic bird so far off course and dumped her on the parched beaches of Surfers Paradise. A sublime in the midst of ridiculous! She had her favorites, those of us who weren’t, in her opinion, complete philistines and I was lucky to be one of them. She recognized in me a kindred spirit; lonely, a poor fit for my surroundings and a renegade. I was sometimes invited to “Madame’s” for lunch on Sundays where I was first introduced to fois gras and frog legs, a far cry from the “grub” dished up at school. She would pour wine, add a dash of water and say in her rasping Gaulloise-infused voice “There, if they ask you what you had to drink you can tell them water!” I learnt that she had been a member of the French resistance and her husband and 2 teenage boys had been shot by the Nazi’s. I have thought of her for 40 years and regret not having the temerity to reach out to her or even discover more about her life. At a time when I was lost, she reached out to me. “Madame” would have lived life “to the Max” but she died of sorrow.

Mad Max arrived for his usual morning coffee. I make his lunch. “Who’s your favorite woman?” I asked casually. His eyes lit up and he jumped to his feet. “That would have to be Janis Joplin.” He said without hesitation. Surprised, I asked him to justify his choice. He rolled his head back and touched his chest “she plays with the heartstrings of my soul.” “Not enough” I replied. “O.K., so she was one bad-ass girl, all that chick ever did was write music, sing and play around and be awesome, but she was a revolutionary, a visionary and she changed the scene for female singers of rock and roll. Look what she left behind, a legacy of the most amazing songs. “Piece of my Heart” is still my favorite song ever…every time I hear it I just want to cry. The passion is CRAZY. She was no princess, not like the ditzy divas around today, just a raw rocker that came at you. She was raunchy and electrifying just when women were trying to break out of a different mold. Mum, she’s wicked cool!’ He grabbed his lunch and on his way out the door looked around and said “other than Janice it’s Joan of Arc”!  Janice may have lived life “to the Max” but she died at the age of 27 of “hungry ghost syndrome”.

Definitely the Italian writer and journalist Oriana Fallaci, the woman had such rage in her. She was born and died in the city where I now live, Florence, Italy. She was a fiercely intelligent woman, a member of the Italian resistance and award-winning war correspondent. During the 1968 Tlatelolco massacre prior to the 1968 Summer Olympics, when Mexican police fired on a crowd of  demonstrators, Fallaci was shot three times, dragged down stairs by her hair, left for dead by Mexican forces only to wake up in a morgue, covered in bodies. It didn’t slow her down. Fearless and challenging she continued to discomfort the powerful men and women she  interviewed including the Shah of Iran, Ayatollah Khomeini, Omar Khadafi, Yasser Arafat, Indira Gandhi, and she didn’t take shit from any of them. She managed to get Henry Kissinger, to admit that the Vietnam War was a “useless war” and Kissinger later wrote that it was “the single most disastrous conversation I have ever had with any member of the press”. Just before her death she wrote politically incorrect articles and books critical of Islam that aroused heated debate as well as accusations of racism.Fallaci shot from the hip.This passionate and powerful voice of the 20th Century was forever bold and brazen in her dissection of politics, power and ego, and their devastating effects on democracies everywhere. She wrote with an integrity and force of character that defined her life’s work up until the very last days. Fallaci was perhaps my greatest inspiration as a journalist.” Giselle Fernandez, journalist, filmmaker. Oriana Fallaci lived life to the Max.

I am selecting Amy Stein as my Favorite Woman. Amy Stein is a photographer living in New York running her own blog.  If I remember correctly I was perusing Jane Irwin’s blog one day, under her “Artists Who Blog” section I saw the name Amy Stein. So I clicked on the name and was quickly transported to the world of Amy Stein. Visit Amy’s “Portfolio” section and you will find it is filled with her brave photographic forays; series such as “Stranded” and “Domesticated”. Visit Amy’s “Latest News” section and you won’t be disappointed – you might forget to eat, shower or remember to go to bed as you lose yourself in the serendipitous trail of excellent art, cool ideas, necessary causes and strange musings. As always, I am amazed that anyone on earth has time to blog. I mean, don’t they have dogs to walk, toilets to flush, meals to chew? When does AMY find the time to upload gorgeous photographs, write long poignant essays about the meaning of life and aesthetics, give expert advice and encouragement to younger artists, update her curriculum vitae and last but not least, go outside to create great art? I have no answers and luckily I don’t need any. I applaud Amy Stein and the 70 million other bloggers out there for having the courage to pour their energy into the digital depths of the World Wide Web. Unlike the printing of a silver gelatin photograph, or the carving of a soapstone sculpture, blogs are ephemeral works of art intended for the private consumption of the lone cybersurfer. To quote Amy Stein “There’s a lot of crap in the world, but the good news is………….” Posted by Jessica Bushey Jessica Bushey is a celebrated artist in her own right using photography and text as her chosen medium. She lives life to the Max!

Dr. Weijia Tan is a Traditional Chinese Medicine physician with an excellent knowledge and vast experience in Acupuncture and Herbal Medicine. She is also an instructor and director at the Student Clinic at the International College of Traditional Chinese Medicine. She began her chosen path of study as a woman in China in the 1970s “In China we have a saying: “Woman is half of sky”. Since the Communist Revolution, women have been treated as exactly equal to men, so there was no problem with pursuing my course. I graduated from Nanjing University of TCM, a top university in my field, and then one year in residency training for Chinese acupuncture at the Suzhou Hospital of TCM. I began my practice in the countryside around Nanjing, where there were no hospitals. We were known as the ‘barefoot doctors’ because we had so few resources at hand. I was working with no equipment except my needles, and would collect medicinal plants from the fields to make the healing remedies. The children in this remote country had little access to schools, so I taught the girls how to read and write in my spare time. My husband was pursuing a long course of education in Vancouver, so I came here with him and began my practice”. She uses her education and experience to teach and to heal, but I also believe she listens carefully to the patient and uses her intuition in diagnosis. I asked her how she developed that side? “Ah! That’s a gift! The personality is constant and I use my skills to return health to this place”. “Thank you Weijia!” She also mentioned that women in China get a half day paid holiday on International Womens Day!    Ruth Jones, Tapestry Artist and Yogi – she lives life to the Max!

                                                                         Remember to tune in mid-week
                                                                       Happy International Womens Day

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