When my 12 year old daughter finished year six, we had an end of primary school disco party on our apartment building’s rooftop. They danced and giggled; my main concern was if there was enough food.

Whatever they do, they can't take our phones away, right?

That party would also be a farewell to innocence. Within six months, she’d been invited to a 13 year old’s harbour boat party with the invite warning: “No alcohol. Bags will be searched.” She’d feel the peer pressure to have sex. And she’d smoke and drink.

In an article in The Daily Telegraph on the weekend, parenting expert Steve Biddulph argued that 14 is the new 18, and girls are under unprecedented pressure.

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  • bj says:

    06:12pm | 26/02/13

    Perhaps the real problem is the self esteem movement. We have a generation of young girls who have grown up with a steady diet of affirmation and we wonder why so many of them are such narcisists. People with high self esteem take bigger risks. Read more »

  • bj says:

    06:06pm | 26/02/13

    They were-but only with a few boys. Apparently you weren’t one of them. Read more »


Sometimes I just want to watch a TV show. That’s it - just watch it and enjoy it. Shallow aren’t I.

These women have thighs… eight thighs in total.

Sure, during Downton thoughts about class and sexism sometimes bubble to the surface. When I catch MKR I’m aware I’m being sold a formula. And of course as a dominant cultural medium TV is going to come in for a bit of cultural analysis every now and again.

But there’s a difference between that and ruining good TV with a constant stream of scene-by-scene examination of the motives and significance of every, single, utterance.

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  • stephen says:

    05:14pm | 18/02/13

    All TV and films are manipulative, though. (Pauline Kael, the excellent American film critic, once said that a film such as Bonnie and Clyde - the Warren Beatty vehicle - relied on producing a new form, that of the slow violent death, if only to create in our own minds… Read more »

  • TimB says:

    04:57pm | 18/02/13

    There seemed to be quite a few Punchers watching Q&A a while ago I caught it once to see what was going down. It just made me angry and violent. Never again. Read more »


Apparently Bieber fever has a new symptom: emotional blackmail. Justin Bieber is eighteen years old and supposedly last week smoked a joint. In response, his fans (prompted by a cruel hoax) have taken to Twitter in the #cutforbieber campaign, which at its core says “you stop doing drugs, we’ll stop cutting”.

He does not need your help girls, and certainly not like this… Picture: AP

The internet has been flooded with images of mutilated arms, real and fake, in a strange bid to save Bieber from himself. The trolls that started this are sick and have a lot to answer for.

This whole situation brings up a number of problems, the most serious of which is the way it has thrust cutting into the public eye whilst simultaneously downplaying its severity, and, even worse, making it the butt of jokes. Those who started encouraging fans to “cut for Bieber” but they couldn’t have picked a more vulnerable target.

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  • PW says:

    05:41pm | 10/01/13

    Now now now, talent is in the eye of the beholder, and a dollar spent by a silly 14 year old girl is worth just as much as one spent by you. Read more »

  • PW says:

    05:39pm | 10/01/13

    Isn’t harmful….? Not quite as harmful as jumping in front of trains or ingesting cyanide, certainly, but it does mess with your brain when used long term and/or in large quantities. Read more »


It was different back in year seven when none of us really read magazines like Cleo or Cosmopolitan. The girls in my year at my all-girls college were just like me: we didn’t wear makeup, we didn’t obsess over clothes, and we didn’t judge others based on appearance so much.

It's a barrage of distortion. Montage: Jessica Barlow

Most of us were just disappointed that there was no playground or school oval we could access at lunchtime. It was a year of big transitions, certainly, but it was also the year that I would miss the most during the remainder of my time at high school.

All too soon we became addicted to magazines like Cleo and Cosmopolitan.

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  • My2Cents says:

    07:54am | 20/08/12

    @ Incredulous You have completely misconstrued my comment. Of course the women in magazines are beautiful without photoshopping. But I do think magazine pages wouldn’t be quite as visually beautiful if the colours weren’t brightened, small imperfections not erased, etc. Images in magazines are always going to be manipulated for… Read more »

  • BJ says:

    11:40am | 19/08/12

    @Sickemrex Are the boars photoshopped? I would hate to think that real boars have body image issues. Read more »


Thirty years ago Nell Schofield played Debbie in the film adaptation of Gabrielle Carey and Kathy Lette’s book Puberty Blues. The new television series of Puberty Blues starts tonight on Ten.

Back in 1981, the world was a different place. There was no internet, no mobile phones and having unprotected sex wasn’t a potentially lethal activity. With the advent of HIV AIDS, wearing condoms became a whole lot more critical.

Nell Schofield and Jad Capelja all the way back in 1981…

Safe abortion clinics became legal in most countries but we are at risk of going back to the dark ages with the rise of reactionary politics. We need to do all we can to help girls grow up to be the best they can be, even if they choose to put off having a family or not have one at all.

There is a societal pressure on girls to marry and have children. But having kids often knocks women out of the work force and many never return.

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  • MenDiscontinued says:

    06:50am | 17/08/12

    I’ve never seen a feminist stick up for men’s rights.  Not one. Read more »

  • James1 says:

    12:07pm | 16/08/12

    “So, this is all the evidence you have for a patriarchy that’s apparently ben keeping women down since the dawn of time?” Did I say that?  No, as I said, they are two small examples of systemic discrimination against women from before 1970.  Here I was thinking you loved freedom… Read more »


Every time another group of parents throw their arms up in despair at the kind of clothing on offer for young girls at the big discount department and chain stores, it’s tempting to think these outlets have totally misread their market.

Let's face it ... it could be worse. Picture: Noel Kessel

Target is the latest in the firing line, after a concerned mother put a comment on the retailer’s Facebook page on the weekend pleading with them to provide more age-appropriate girls clothing. Almost immediately her comment had attracted tens of thousands of “likes”. Take that Target!

Where are the Facebook campaigns for “shorter shorts for six-year-olds”, ha? Well, they don’t exist, and if they did they’d be a bigger story than this one.

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  • garry says:

    09:58pm | 16/08/12

    who would dress up their child like gary glitter or elvis 30 or 40 years ago? now its considered normal to dress your daughter like Fergie from Black Eyed Peas, when she is kindie….. Read more »

  • Carolyn says:

    05:42pm | 15/08/12

    I am a mother of a 9 year old girl.  I shop at K-Mart, Big W, Target etc because my little girl is growing like a weed and by the end of the season, she has outgrown her clothes.  It is difficult to buy shorts that don’t look like undies. … Read more »


Tomorrow, my darling, you turn 12; a girl, still. But sometime when I wasn’t paying attention, the pudgy-cheeked baby skipped away and here you are, a soft sketch of the woman you’re going to be.

We're all a bit more grown up now. Picture: Thinkstock

I want to freeze-frame you so I can say all the things I’ve missed, that the words may be indelibly inked like a suit of armour around your soul. But soon it’ll be your own voice, not mine, that matters most. So here’s something to pop in your pocket or file on your bedroom floor: 12 things I want you to know on your 12th birthday.

Your body is the only one you’ll ever have. How blessed are you, that it works perfectly and has barely given you a moment’s pain. Some people aren’t so lucky, so respect it – even when those around you are hating theirs. I can’t protect you from the stinging winds of the beauty storm about to strike your shores, but don’t take the weather with you. Photographs, as we’ve shown you, are not truth.

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  • s101 says:

    02:26pm | 16/08/12

    Agree. Beautifully written words and I agree with every word. However I would not have had the maturity to understand it until I hit my 30’s. I do however look back with fondness at the time of my life when I thought I was immortal, that bad things only happen… Read more »

  • Bultaco Metrella says:

    12:33pm | 14/08/12

    By far and away the best thing I have read on The Punch Read more »


If gyrating, giggling girls pouting amid suggestive splashes of pinkness and wetness doesn’t turn boys onto science, what will? 

A new European Commission campaign is trying to harness the power of young male libidos to drag them remorselessly into the science industry. We know sex sells, and the way to sell something to all those hormonally entrapped young men out there is to suggest that if they do what we say, somewhere along the line a woman may just want to sleep with them. They’ll fall for that, right?

The EC created this somewhat sultry advertisement with smiling, strutting young lasses, sashaying along with short skirts and sky-high stilettos. Phwoar.

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  • outlet says:

    04:15pm | 11/07/12

    There’s noticeably a bundle to know about this. I assume you made sure good points in options also. Read more »

  • kitteh says:

    04:55pm | 28/06/12

    Coming in late again, but this one is too close to my heart to ignore. As a female scientist, I find the ads more than a little pathetic, but Tory is correct in pointing out that the general lack of scientific literacy amongst the public is the real issue. By… Read more »


Click on the video below. I dare you. If you’re brave enough, watch it all the way to the end.

Eck. It probably doesn’t “light up your world like nobody else” does, but you’re hardly the target audience. Over the past few months the hit song of visiting teenybopper supergroup One Direction has lit up the musical worlds of the 8 to 16 year female demographic. Simultaneously, it’s lit a fuse of ridiculousness that’s threatening the sanity of Australian parents and people of good music taste alike.

The national tweenage hysteria alert level rose to amber yesterday as the band, cobbled together by pop mastermind Simon Cowell, flew into the country for a concert series and a gig at the Logie Awards.

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  • Kathy says:

    12:30pm | 19/08/12

    Actually 3 out of 5 of the boys have girlfriends and if u would like to research them they are Danielle peazer she’s a dancer who was on the Olympics elenor Calder who is a model not to famous tho and the last girls name is Perrie Edwards a famous… Read more »

  • stacy says:

    08:46am | 02/07/12

    um just because their shirts were off with no girls in sight dose not make them gay .if you was in a locker room of fill with all girls or boy dose that make some one lesbian or gay nooooo.girls love them because of their sparky personality and the sweet… Read more »


Today’s message to young women is: All girls are beautiful. But some are more beautiful than others. Oh, and frankly – you over there! – you don’t make the grade at all.  What the hell’s going on with those eyebrows? What is this? 2008?

In a world awash with far too many beautiful girls (for the purposes of this article for ‘beautiful’ read ‘fully coiffed, immaculately made-up, grain-fed, and catwalk-ready) today we also have the announcement of the 2011 Girlfriend Rimmel Model Search winner.  You can meet the finalists here.

UPDATE: The winner was 13-year-old Irish, Croatian and Pacific Islander and Sydneyite Chloe Glassie. And she has braces!

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  • Human says:

    06:36am | 17/11/11

    Blemish-Free posted a perfect example of what we are talking about.  Was that meant to be irony?  But what it really is - a lack of empathy, and thinly veiled by self-justification.  There is nothing wrong with being beautiful, or not beautiful, but lack of compassion is harder to justify. Read more »

  • Anne71 says:

    05:04pm | 16/11/11

    Well, Seth, I’m guessing I “suffer” from it far more than you do, judging by your lame and petty little remark. Read more »


A Canadian couple is deliberately raising a ‘genderless’ baby, so it can be free of society’s expectations. The first question on everyone’s lips is, of course: “What would Amy Chua say?”.

Proof gender bending can be beautiful. Photo: Supplied by Love Machine

Now the fabulously strict ‘Tiger Mother’ and law professor Amy Chua is a busy woman over the other side of the world. But thankfully she put all her parenting know-how into her tidy little book, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother.

So I decided it would be entirely appropriate to use the book as an Oracle from which one can glean wisdom on the topic at hand by randomly picking quotes.

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  • Promesse says:

    08:52am | 31/05/12

    I aprpecaite you taking to time to contribute That’s very helpful. Read more »

  • Mr Wippet says:

    06:36pm | 26/05/11

    That blue glowmesh top suits you badger. Read more »


Embrace your inner (or outer) slut, reclaim the word, reclaim the night, take to the streets. But watch out for the unintended consequences of the planned SlutWalk rallies.

Passionate protestors too often get caught up in their own hype and do themselves and their chosen issue an enormous disservice.

Last week a father who just wanted access to his children instead earned the wrath of a city after his one-man protest closed the Sydney Harbour Bridge and left irate drivers stuck in traffic for hours.

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  • Val says:

    02:02am | 21/05/11

    HaHaHa ... some of the comments on here have me laughing ... It all comes down to our traditions and beliefs and years of conditioning ... A man can walk around shirtless and in skimpy shorts and that is ok but a woman doing the same thing would be arrested… Read more »

  • andy says:

    03:46pm | 19/05/11

    @superd you seem to think all feminists are sexless! my experience is quite the opposite. lots of those feminists you deride are more sexually open than the men who stereotype them. Read more »


A funny thing – actually, make that a frilly thing – happened on the way to the feminist revolution.

Recommended for male or female revheads

Just as women started to get a better deal at home, at school and in the boardroom, our girl children have been hijacked by a foe more flouncy than any which has come before.

It is the colour pink and it is being worn – probably in frothing tutu form – by a micro-Cinderella near you.

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  • Squeeze the Middle says:

    02:25pm | 15/03/11

    Markus. I think we’re agreeing with each other.  My original post was to point out that the extremes that things like that Oath are being taken is probably contributing to the dilemma that Emma Jane is struggling with. Surprising ommissions from the characteristics of ‘economic control’ and ‘using economic abuse’… Read more »

  • iMitchy says:

    02:25pm | 15/03/11

    malohi, you are wrong. There is no reason to question why one likes something. Just let them enjoy it without feeling like they have been unknowingly victimised by an oppressionistic secret society. eg. I only wear black clothes. Black jeans, black shirt, black underwear and socks, black belt, black sunglasses… Read more »


Seen at the local pool: two bikini-clad girls – around 14 - simulating a sex act in the toddler pool, then pole dancing under the toadstool fountain while their delighted boyfriends recorded (and possibly distributed) the footage on their mobile phones. 

It wouldn’t have happened back in the day, and that’s not just because we didn’t have the technology for it. 

Am I wearing rose-coloured glasses, or were most early-teen girls in the 80s too scared of the Grim Reaper, and just too generally innocent, to put much more than a toe in the water (with a boy or a girl) - let alone cavort around in it in broad daylight like amateur porn stars, then plaster the evidence as far and wide as technology would allow (which wasn’t very far).

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  • social says:

    01:06pm | 10/05/12

    Sskhnx I really liked your blog.Really looking forward to read more. Great. Read more »

  • serivce says:

    11:53am | 08/05/12

    Say, you got a nice blog post.Much thanks again. Will read on… Read more »


A Melbourne couple’s decision to abort twin boys conceived through IVF – the weekend’s flashpoint news story – is a can of worms, a hornets’ nest and a Mandelbrot set of ethical complexity all in one.

This anonymous couple desperately want a girl. Pic: Trevor Pinder

The couple, after the death of their first baby girl, wasn’t happy with the twins’ gender and is now in the midst of legal action to pre-determine the sex of their next IVF baby.

Which, you might be surprised to learn, we can do nowadays. Some medical industry smart arse has even rebranded it ‘family balancing’.

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  • Nay says:

    12:04pm | 07/02/11

    Im a mother of two amazing gorgeous boys. My husband and I would love a 3rd child but he is recovering from cancer and we are unable to conceive naturally again. IVF will be our only option for conception if we try again. If it were put to me ‘do… Read more »

  • Terrin says:

    12:27pm | 15/01/11

    I do believe you are referring to a state law (can’t remember which state), in which a man was charged with manslaughter after causing an accident which resulted in the miscarriage of a baby at 8 months. As the baby, if delivered in a hospital, and not from severe stress/trauma… Read more »


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