More than drunkenness and disorderly bodies: the gendered pleasures of drinking cultures

Post by Gordon Waitt and Susannah Clement

Australian drinking culture is facing increasing public scrutiny in relation to health, conduct and cultural legitimacy. Australian media is flooded with reports of the crises of alcohol fuelled violence in the night time economy of cities, and statistics that suggest that younger women living in metropolitan centres are drinking as much as their male counterparts.The attention given to young metropolitan people’s binge drinking has reveal one shadier side of Australian cultures of alcohol and the quest for drunkenness and disorderly bodies. But what of rural drinking cultures?

Continue reading

Pregnancy, motherhood and firefighting

“When I decided to make this profession my career I cried because at that point in time [early 1980s] every woman who got pregnant or got married left the profession. Then I had to deal personally with accepting that I also was gay. That was a whole other crying moment because it’s like, okay, I chose a profession over what society says you’ve got to have—family.” Continue reading

Unmasking gender privileges: the flipside of inequity

At first thought, many men (and some women) express a belief that gender inequality is an issue of the past that has been overcome by a generational shift within the emergency services. Upon greater reflection this notion usually turns out to be more complex than initially proclaimed. Continue reading

Eyes wide shut: bushfire, gendered norms and everyday life

“Pop-psychology”—this is the term used to define the obsession in public discourse and media with labelling of gender differences as if these differences are biologically set-in-stone. Western society’s captivation by such dichotomy-based definitions has problematic outcomes when, for example, in leadership debates men and women are portrayed as being incapable of getting along because their ways of communicating are too different.

I was witness to this very scenario at a Community Engagement and Fire Awareness Conference hosted by the NSW Rural Fire Service for 400-odd staff and volunteers in 2011. Continue reading

Why gender matters in emergency management

Gender is a matter of social relations—i.e. social structures with enduring or widespread patterns, rather than an expression of dichotomous biology. Social characteristics, such as gender, cannot be understood in isolation of other social characteristics, such as class, education, disability, age, race and sexuality. As argued by Connell (2010, 6):

‘People construct themselves as masculine or feminine. We claim a place in the gender order – or respond to the place we have been given – by the way we conduct ourselves in everyday life.’

Why is this important in the context of emergency management? It matters for three key reasons. Continue reading

Illuminating wildfire vulnerability through environmental history

The following is a discussion of how environmental history recently has broadened my understanding of wildfire vulnerability. It is based on my reflections from the American Society for Environmental History (ASEH) conference in San Francisco, which together with the Association of American Geographers (AAG) conference in Tampa bracketed my recent trip to USA. The purpose of attending both conferences was to share key lessons on gendered dimensions of wildfire vulnerability and resilience as presented in my new book. Yet, the format of my input to each conference was distinctively different. Continue reading

Meeting my book critics at the AAG 2014

Writing my first book was an incredible experience. Empowering when words flowed. Exhilarating when thoughts came together coherently on paper. Frustrating when nothing seemed to make sense – in my head or on paper. Terrifying when writer’s block set in. Mind numbing when faced with the fourth, let alone the four-hundredth round of edits and proofs. Gratifying, exhausting, emotional – sometimes all at once depending on the moment. An experience beyond words really. It was therefore both exciting and terrifying to invite four academic colleagues to provide a public critique of my newly published book Gender and Wildfire: Landscapes of Uncertainty at the Association of American Geographers (AAG) Meeting – held this year in Tampa, Florida. The following is a summary of my author-meets-critics session.

Continue reading

Looking for the Heart in America

By Nick Skilton

Nick Skilton is a PhD Candidate with the Australian Centre for Cultural Environmental Research. He is currently at the Association of American Geographers Annual Meeting in Tampa, Florida.

CanineSexuality and gender is something that I’ve always spent a lot of time thinking about. Even when I’ve gotten it wrong (it’s been a regular feature of my life as a kid from the suburbs), I’ve tried to use it as an experience to help me get it right. It’s been a long, rocky, weaving, disastrous and beautiful trail. I’m not saying I understand things perfectly these days – I mean, who could? – but I feel I’ve definitely found enlightenment to the point where I can approach sex and gender from both a personal and an academic place and find meaning there. Writing a PhD from a queer perspective, you spend a lot of time interrogating your own life, trying to find meaning that is academically relatable. It’s not always apparent. Often it’s completely invisible, as your life descends into a mess that academic writing can never capture or represent. But sometimes personal experience is a catalysing process that lends meaning to everything that you write about, everything that you wanted to say but lacked the embodied form that makes expression possible, every thought that inhabits your daily being and inevitably threads its meaning into academic praxis anyway, so that as ever, the two become inseparable. Continue reading

How prepared are we for bushfires?

Gender and Wildfire

Gender and Wildfire

Are Australian men, women and households really as aware and prepared for bushfire emergencies as we think we are? This is one question that is explored in a topical new book by AUSCCER’s Dr Christine Eriksen.

In Gender and Wildfire: Landscapes of UncertaintyDr Eriksen examines bushfire awareness and preparedness amongst women, men, households, communities and agencies at the interface between city and beyond. Continue reading

The Gendered Dimensions of Natural Disasters

Call for Papers: Annual Meeting of the Association of American Geographers (AAG), Los Angeles, California, April 9-13, 2013

Session Title: The Gendered Dimensions of Natural Disasters

Session Organizer: Christine Eriksen, AUSCCER, University of Wollongong

The aim of this session is to evolve the growing awareness within both academia and emergency services of the gendered nature of disaster risk engagement, response and recovery. Covert and less visible as well as overt gender roles and traditions have been shown to be important factors in understanding how women and men engage with risk. The ‘doing of gender’ in everyday practices, for example, has with time ensured the normalization of hegemonic masculinity in everyday life. Research has furthermore shown how the normalization of patriarchal relations through discursive practices is legitimized through the media, while institutional patriarchal structures resistant to change reinforce them. The applications of shifting scales of analysis have, however, revealed gender relations and gender identities as being socially constructed and ideologically premised. It has highlighted the importance of understanding how boundaries are drawn and redrawn and how gender identities are performed over time. Hegemonic masculinity in many rural landscapes has, for example, been challenged on many fronts since the 1970s due to the demographic and structural changes associated with amenity-led migration from urban centers to rural landscapes. The outcomes of particular discourses (such as communicating in recovery or wildfire management) may furthermore be quite pluralistic as there are manifold ways of acting upon it. It is therefore important to pay greater attention to explicitly gendered social experiences and the construction and performance of gender identities within the context of, for example, risk mitigation, disaster management, and trauma recovery. What, for example, are the implications of embedded gender roles on the vulnerability and resilience of the growing number of people living in wildfire-prone landscapes at the wildland-urban interface today?

This session seeks paper contributions on the gendered dimensions of a wide variety of natural disasters and associated aspect of risk engagement, mitigation, response and recovery.

Please email a 250 word abstract to Christine Eriksen ( by Friday 12th October 2012. Successful submissions will be confirmed by Wednesday 17th October 2012 and will be expected to register and submit their abstracts online at the AAG website by October 24th 2012 ( Please note that a range of registration fees will apply and must be paid before the submission of abstracts online.