Monday, May 12, 2008

Female superheroes: established and new

I just found out that Pamela Bone, former associate editor for The Age newspaper and one of my writing heroes, passed away recently after a long but dignified battle with cancer. I used to read Pamela's column avidly, and I went to pains to track down her book about growing up in Australia over the past 100 years, Up We Grew, when I visited Melbourne a few years back. Like many other Australians, I was saddened at the news of her diagnosis and hoped that she would make a full recovery.

The integrity, clarity and calm steadiness that characterised Pamela's writing were incredibly inspiring to me. There is an art to talking about complex moral issues in a way that anyone can understand; one that is inclusive as well as insightful.

I actually emailed her once after reading one of those stories that shakes you out of your complacency; sending a link to the distressing article which concerned a woman who had been raped and killed as punshiment for a crime committed by her brother in the Middle East. With anger still coursing through my fingers, I wrote of the betrayal I felt over a generation of young women wanting to distance themselves from the label "feminist". I didn't expect a response - after all, she was a busy career and family woman, prominent in the Australian media, who must have been overwhelmed by mail every day - I just needed to share my immediate sense of outrage.

I was touched when she emailed back a few days later, to thank me and encourage me. She went on to write this moving piece about some of the atrocities being perpetrated on women.

It is strange that someone whom I never met could have had such a profound impact on my life, but I realise now that whenever I write a serious piece, I always have Pamela at the back of my mind, casting her calm, clear-sighted eyes over my prose. A person - a woman - of resilient character and great moral clarity, who conveyed her message with a subtle and succinct style, she remains a lifelong hero.

* * *

Tina Fey is my new geek-girl crush. Previously it has been the hilarious Dooce, Daisy from Spaced, and Iranian/French graphic novelist Marjane Satrapi.

I know it's a bit of a 180 on my part, but I have come around - 30 Rock is just so funny, so clever, and so sharply written. And Tina is just so geektastic in those specs. Every interview I have read with her, she manages to say something so outrageously funny it makes me laugh out loud.

Gotta love a quirky funny woman, especially if she is successful and fearless and cute and not of the man-hating variety.

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