Sunday, 17 May 2015

Volunteering | Business Chicks with Tara Moss

Surprise, surprise I volunteered at another Business Chicks event. This time round the special guest was Tara Moss. I had heard the name before but didn’t know much going into the event so I am really glad I went. Set up went smoothly, the gift bags were epic as usual and we were lucky enough to have tons of freebies to take home! (Seriously I have so many lip balms now haha).

Onto the event! It was a lovely lunch for the attendees followed by a talk by Tara Moss. We got to sit in on most of the talk. Tara, for those who don’t know, is a crime fiction writer, past model, feminist and blogger. Her new book which I was selling at the event is called ‘The Fictional Women’ and shows the types of labels that follow her and women around in society. 

The talk started with her explaining where her inspiration came from, as a child she was influenced most by Stephen King and would hide the books to read at night. Her writing started at a young age with her friends, one of these was called ‘Black and White Doom’. The reason she loves horror so much was that it made her feel “safe and secure” because she knew she was bought up in a place where she didn’t have to worry about the horrors she read about in these books.
I give her big props for being able to enjoy horror even as a child! I am 21 and will sometimes even cry if horror is mentioned whoops!

Tara, like most girls, was told at a young age to be a model. Instead of people saying “you should be a writer” it was “you should be a model” and that’s how she “perceived herself as a kid”. It is really interesting to think about because even I find myself saying to girls “you are so pretty today” it is like we are programed to give girls compliments on their looks rather than their personality and interests. I am strongly trying to change this in myself and have found this working but so many of us have been told this as girls that we become more focused on our looks and pleasing people rather than focusing on our interests.

So Tara did become a model. At 16 she was “Paris thin”, told she was fat and was eating half the daily intake of what was recommended for her body type at that age. Luckily she said “get screwed” to that modelling agency and joined one that allowed her to become healthy again. At 25 she stopped modelling as her career.  Tara made a great point of “adults for adult modelling” we see so many young girls modelling clothes for adult women these days. I also heard a point on tumblr recently, (couldn’t find source! Sorry!) they mentioned that adults portray young teenagers. This is the opposite to the modelling point however when we use these adults as kids, these teenagers think they should have all these curves and sexual tendencies that they shouldn’t, which leaves an awful impact on a young mind.

Luckily in a “moldy, Bondi apartment” Tara decided to grab the newspaper, close her eyes and point, whatever she landed on will be her next career. What did she land on you ask? “Work at home. Write.” Haha! And write she did! With her crime book series’ going international you should really give them a look if you love reading crime! Unfortunately a lot of people kept saying “A model can’t possibly write a book” and rumours spread that someone else wrote the books and Tara put her name on them. So when dared to take a lie detector test to prove them all wrong she said “Bring it on”.
Tara believes “Authenticity is key” and proves this with her research into crime to help her write her books. She researches constantly and has been to morgues, crime scenes, talked to police and victims of crime. This all got her into her “thirst for social justice” and she now represents the ‘Full Stop Foundation’ to end “domestic and sexual violence”.

Now back to those labels I mentioned earlier. Tara stated that “everyone has versions of labels” and that they follow us around. These can be a mixture of good and bad but I agree with everyone having them. Tara, being a writer and influenced by language, mentioned how words and labels are used compared to men and women. Her example was the word boss. Here is the Oxford Dictionary definitions and examples Tara showed us of the word Boss and Bossy.

Men are used for Boss, women are used as bossy. “It is a very gendered word” men are looked up to when they are the boss but as soon as a women is, it has a negative connotation behind it, which reminded me of this Nicki Minaj quote (all the Nicki love):
    “When I am assertive, I’m a bitch. When a man is assertive, he’s a boss.
He [is] bossed up. No negative connotation behind ‘bossed up.’ But lots of negative connotation behind being a bitch.
Donald Trump can say, ‘You’re fired.’ Let Martha Stewart run her company the same way and be the same way. [People will say] ‘f**king old evil bitch!’
But Donald Trump, he gets to hang out with young bitches and have 50 different wives and just be cool.
‘Oh, Donald, we love you, Donald Trump!’ … When you’re a girl, you have to be everything.
You have to be dope at what you do but you have to be super sweet and you have to be sexy and you have to be this, you have to be that, and you have to be nice. It’s like, ‘I can’t be all those things at once. I’m a human being.'”

—Nicki Minaj sounds off on the sexual double standard in her MTV special, “My Time Now.” [MTV]

This is so true in the entertainment industry and what we are viewing as young girls. “Nearly twice as many males than females” are protagonists in children’s literature. "From 2006-2009 Not one women worked in science or business within movies and 80% of working people were male. More than 70% of movies fail the bechdel test." It doesn’t mean that these movies are bad, I love movies and I do love these male characters, however if all we are shown are these types of characters it can become a problem. This is why it is important to showcase everyone in media not just the typical ‘white male’. Tara stated this is because we still follow the medieval fairy tale way of stories, “Virgin girl needs saving, older women are the scary, mysterious witch.” 

We then left the room to get ready for closing down the event, I love how Tara spoke and the topics she covered so I was lucky enough to buy my own book and she was able to sign it! It will be in a future ‘RaiReading’. I was glad I attended this event as my friends and I discuss these topics all the time and it was great to see another opinion on it! Again I love working with Business Chicks as the environment is always friendly and idea evoking. (I even saw Danny Clayton there which was pretty cool as I watch Channel V all the time haha).

I would love to know what you think about these issues and feel free to have a discussion in the comments!
Love Always,

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