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Tressie McMillan Cottom on difficult women

animated illustrative typography spelling out 'when you become a difficult woman'

Three firebrand feminists came together to discuss how all women can finally have control over their own destinies.

The panel event in 2019 for UNTHINKABLE, a series of talks presented by Centre for Ideas and Carriageworks, included Mona Eltahawy, Tressie McMillan Cottom, Sisonke Msimang and was led by Santilla Chingaipe as chairperson.

The panel was not deterred by the incident which preceded it; ABC TV's contentious decision to remove from its channels the Q&A episode featuring Mona Eltahawy. Instead, it was the perfect anecdote to discuss the purpose and power of women's anger.

I am a very profane woman, and I am deliberately and politically profane because violence and poverty and capitalism and racism and transphobia are the real profanity and not the fact that I say ‘fuck’.

Mona Eltahawy

There is such a thing as righteous anger...You are supposed to be angry sometimes like the way you are supposed to feel pain. Pain may hurt, but pain is useful. So is anger, it tells you that something has happened, that there is something of which you should take notice, and when the forces of consumerism make it so easy for us to be distracted from what our bodies and spirit tell us, anger is extremely important to tell us it is time to stop being pacified.

Tressie McMillan Cottom

The panelists dissected the detriments of patriarchy, they brought to light the ironies of 'white feminism', and eloquently explained the way in which capitalism benefits from the invisibility of women. 

Paying forward just one of the many lessons learned, we commissioned Mimi Leung to illustrate Tressie McMillan Cottom's short and poignant analysis of 'difficult women'.

Watch, enjoy and share.

Recorded live at Carriageworks as a part of UNTHINKABLE, November 2019. Artwork by Mimi Leung with thanks to the Jacky Winter Group.


Listen to the full talk



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