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Caitlin Stasey as Herself

Tuesday, 10 March, 2015

You may recognise this Melbourne actress from her work on The Sleepover Club and Neighbours, or perhaps from Tomorrow When the War Began or on her latest conquest, Reign. The 24 year-old’s most impressive endeavour, however, has been the launch of her incredibly honest and empowering new website, Herself.com. In this project, Caitlin interviews women of different builds, ethnicities, cultures and experiences to construct a discourse about the modern day woman and her relationship to the world.

Stasey’s definition of a ‘woman’ is extremely powerful: “It [the word ‘woman’] can mean anything” she writes. “At this point, in my world, it means a group of people of varying sexualities, ethnicities, body parts and mentalities forging ahead despite the push back of centuries of oppression.” She’s intelligent, insightful, and – arguably most importantly – she doesn’t force her opinions on others in any way. Stasey is an “advocate of empowering women to do what THEY want” although she warns us not to confuse our wants with the expectations of society.

In her interview, Stasey discusses all manner of topics: sex, gender fluidity, marketing towards women, hygiene products, religion, sex education, the fear women experience (brought on solely by their gender*) and portrayal by the media. The most controversial things about Herself.com are the images of naked women which accompany the interviews. Rebecca Sullivan at News.com.au says that “by putting naked photos of yourself on a public platform, you are simply offering your body up to the world for scrutiny and judgement”. Conversely, the purpose of these photos is, according to Stasey, so we can “witness the female form in all its honesty without the burden of the male gaze; without the burden of appealing to anyone”. The photos are tasteful; any sexual undertones are replaced with a raw acceptance by each photographed woman of their bodies and themselves. As the actress writes, “it [the media] depicts us sexless unless corrupt, hairless unless masculine and helpless unless evil”. These photos work to counteract the media’s problematic portrayals of women.

Caitlin Creeper from Birdee recognises Stasey’s achievement with this website. “She [Stasey] isn’t apologetic for feeling a certain way” writes Creeper, “and we sure could do with seeing a lot more women in prominent positions following her lead”. While many won’t agree with Stasey’s strong opinions – not that she asks you to – her courage and self-knowledge is beyond admirable.

* To this, Stasey writes, “it sickens me to have to admit feeling secure when I’m with a man. It’s because I know people are far less likely to harass me if I’m accompanied”.