This week our founder, Keeva Stratton, appeared on the Wabi Sabi Series podcast hosted by Michelle Cox.
The Wabi Sabi Series is a podcast all about exploring uncomfortable topics we don’t usually talk about.
Host, Michelle Cox, is a corporate executive turned author, who has recently written a series of books about difficult-to-discuss topics, from death, to grief, to not having children.
Each week, Michelle asks her guests just one question: if there’s one topic you’d like society to talk more about, what would it be, and why?
For Keeva, the answer to this question is: Female Sexuality.
Keeva and Michelle dove deeply into a conversation about the complexities of female sexuality, in the workplace and beyond.
As I’m sure you’re all aware by now, Keeva is a passionate feminist, and gender equality is an issue close to her heart.
Unsurprisingly, a conversation about female sexuality led to a discussion about Ms Tee, a tshirt label Keeva cofounded, that encourages women to speak their mind through their body.
Keeva and her business partner, Berny Bacic, wanted to create beautiful tshirts with powerful messages, and didn’t want to compromise on style or quality.
Through Ms Tee, Keeva hopes they will be able to spark powerful conversations about what it means to be a woman in today’s society, whilst bringing fun and fashion into the equation.
Michelle was wearing Ms Tee for the chat, specifically the “Dick-tionary” tee. Keeva explained the message behind that design, how language has been used for centuries to hold women back. Words like ‘bossy’, ‘dramatic’, ‘whore’ and ‘hysterical’ have been used to oppress women and suppress female sexuality and power.
The women talked further about the role of language in perpetuating gender inequality.
How words like ‘bossy’ have negative connotations and are only ever used to refer to a female, while males are described as leaders when exhibiting the same behaviours.
On this, Michelle reflected on a time she was referred to as ‘aggressive’. She questioned whether she was being ‘aggressive’ or ‘assertive’, and if she were a male, would it even be an issue?
Keeva highlighted the difference between male and female sexuality, the first being perceived as positive while the latter, negative. Men get congratulated about sex and being a ‘player’, while women are called whores.
According to Keeva, education is key.
If we take a look back throughout history, we see that language is evolving. We no longer use certain words. Keeva warned that gendered language can be extremely damaging, and cautioned against using words like ‘bossy’ when describing our daughters.
The women discussed the societal expectations on women’s bodies and the consequences these expectations often have. This is an issue Keeva wanted to emphasise through the design of Ms Tee’s “Thigh Gap/Pay Gap” tee.
Female bodies are judged constantly, particularly through the male gaze. Not only is the pay gap between women and men still infuriatingly imbalanced, but a woman’s physical appearance has been proven to impact her ability to get a job or be successful in the workforce.
Keeva and Michelle discussed the power of embracing our femininity rather than suppressing it for the comfort of men. For years, we have been taught, through social conditioning, “what a professional lookslike”. If a woman is perceived as too sexual, particularly in the workplace, this is deemed to be inappropriate and threatening.
According to Keeva, these normalised behaviours are not healthy and there needs to be a change if we are ever going to achieve gender equality.
The best way forward? Keeva suggests we continue to have open conversations in a way that is inviting for all participants. We don’t want people who may be unknowingly doing, or saying, the wrong thing to feel ostracised.
Another important step is for us to support gender equality in all it’s forms. A great example of this is to support women in sports that have been historically reserved for men, such as women’s AFL or cricket.
Keeva points out that when it comes to sports that have been played by only men for hundreds of years, of course we may not automatically have the same level of skills or fan base, but give us a few years! Love that.
The two women then went on to discuss the role social media plays in the conversation about female sexuality.
Michelle raised the question about the way females are representing themselves on social media in an often highly sexualised way, and what this says about female sexuality.
In true feminist form, Keeva expressed that she holds no judgement towards how females want to express themselves and their bodies on social media. She believes women should be proud of their bodies and represent them however they like, and she doesn’t see a problem with monetising their bodies and sexuality if it is of their own free will.
However, she does question to what extent it is actually their own free will, and how much is impacted by the male gaze and the cultural norms they have been taught from a young age.
She suggests that with the way our society currently functions, it is the obvious choice for women to monetise their sexuality.
Considering this, Keeva then questioned that if we changed the way we view females and female sexuality, would this also change the way women and girls choose to represent themselves on social media? She hopes that then, women will have the opportunity to make this choice freely, without the context of the power structures that exist today.
Keeva also touched on issues of white privilege, and the problems surrounding white feminism, but acknowledges that we all have work to do, and everyone has blind spots.
Quoting Dr Maya Angelou, she reiterates that when you know better, you do better.
All in all, it was a fascinating chat, with so many little nuggets of feminist gold.
Michelle ended the interview by asking Keeva a question that anyone who has followed her career would be interested to know: what it was like to interview legendary director, Quentin Tarantino?
It turns out, he is just your average guy! Apparently, he drank a can of VB during the interview and was really very ‘normal’. His films may be violent and bloody, but in reality, he’s friendly, funny and someone you could have a drink with!
This episode really is a must listen! Head to: https://podcasts.apple.com/au/podcast/female-sexuality-with-keeva-stratton/id1515908184?i=1000478268267to check it out!