Caitlin

“Women are fucking durable & powerful.”

Name?

Caitlin Stasey.

Where did you grow up?

I was born in Melbourne, Australia but immediately moved to Dubai where my father was working. We travelled all throughout the Middle East.

Were you brought up religiously, secularly or other?

I had an oddly dichotomous upbringing, my father an atheist, my mother agnostic & my education Catholic. I was sent to a Catholic school primarily because of class sizes. All of the state schools were swarmed with kids and I’d had difficulties keeping up with the curriculum whilst attending larger schools. My home life was entirely devoid of religious practices but I received my communion, Eucharist & reconciliation through my school’s church. After entering high school (also Catholic) I abandoned the notion of God in the Christian sense; I couldn’t reconcile the church’s stance on sexuality with my own views. I became incredibly hateful of religion & am now resolute that it is one of the greatest tragedies to befall mankind.

Was there turbulence throughout your childhood or adolescence?

My parents were incredibly thoughtful, attentive & loving but there was certainly no love lost between them. It felt as though every moment of peace was heavy with the anticipation of another fight between them. I was definitely a happy kid with an ultimately positive outlook, all of my needs were tended to and I never wanted for anything, but growing up around that much resentment was incredibly stressful. I think I may be one of few children to feel relief upon hearing my parents were divorcing. My exact words, according to my mother, were “Good.”

Were you ever embarrassed about your development or puberty? If so why?

Puberty was devastating for me. I suddenly had stretch marks all over my body, cellulite, hair, lumps, acne. Looking back now I know I wasn’t alone but at the time I couldn’t have felt more isolated. I was developing at a rate that wasn’t mirrored in my social group. I was always surrounded by long, lean, hairless blondes who excelled at sports & were entirely asexual & then there was me, swarthy, curvy & short – I’ve always been slight but I was womanly WAY before my peers. I was embarrassed by the changes I was going through and I had no real outlet for my confusion but, more than anything, I was embarrassed by my interest in sex, one that was present in me LONG before puberty.

Can you remember any key moments in your formative years that shaped you?

My parents’ divorce hugely changed my life. I was suddenly the daughter of a single mother. I felt as though single mothers in my community were somewhat pitied by other mothers, by other families, but my mother would never succumb to self pity – she never seemed affected at all by the social stigma. In fact she took it in her stride. The few years between leaving my father and meeting my stepfather she was my hero, she was fair, even-keeled, brave, hard working, resilient (fastidiously tidy) & supportive.

Your sexuality?

I would have vivid dreams about other women. Every night I’d drift off into this utopia of women being available to me & knowing nothing other than my desire for them. There was no one in my life who also expressed these desires, no one in the entertainment I consumed, the books I would read, the company I kept. A lack of monumental events shaped my sexuality, masturbating in secret, telling no one, saying nothing, concealing all sexual queries or thoughts. It’s the single reason I’m so adamant that LGBTQIA characters be involved in children’s entertainment.

When did you become aware of your gender?

It was always thrust upon me. I never had an awakening, it was just understood that I was born cisgendered so there was never any turmoil over my sexuality or upset. I was given gender-neutral toys but for the most part I opted for barbies, toy kitchens, lovely little dresses; the only truly non-gendered items I loved were art supplies (although the reason I became interested in art was because it was the only way I could access images of naked women without question!). I was a HUGE girly girl save for my Blundstone boots. I was always wearing a tutu & these heavy duty workman’s boots. The simple reason being that I did NOT care for shoelace tying and my Blundstones were incredibly comfy. I’ve worn them consistently all my life.

"Compartmentalizing myself only leads to condemnation & contradiction. I’m happier being fluid and I’m happier being honest." -Caitlin Photo by Jennifer Toole

“Compartmentalizing myself only leads to condemnation & contradiction. I’m happier being fluid and I’m happier being honest.” -Caitlin
Photo by Jennifer Toole

When did you become aware of your own sexuality, were there any key moments?

I’ve known I was mostly gay ever since I can remember. I know it troubles many people for me to refer to myself as a lesbian considering I have a male partner. I think they gather that it trivializes the plight of the LGBTQIA community & although that couldn’t be further from the truth at this point in my life I’m trying to steer as far from labeling as possible. Compartmentalizing myself only leads to condemnation & contradiction. I’m happier being fluid and I’m happier being honest.

What, if any, are the obstacles you’ve overcome on your path to womanhood?

My vagina has been an unending and constant source of turmoil for me – not that vaginas are intrinsically female, it’s just happened to be a big part of womanhood for me personally – UTIs, PH imbalances, sexual dysfunction, pain, discomfort. Sexual education is no way near comprehensive enough as all of these things I’ve had to learn myself, treat myself & diagnose myself. I’m still struggling to gain control over my body, over my vagina.

Have you ever been embarrassed, burdened or ashamed of your sexuality? If so why?

Growing up in duelling worlds – Catholic & secular – my relationship to my sexuality was constantly in flux. I tried not to think about it unless I needed to masturbate. Instead of it being a part of me it felt like a weird compulsion I had to take care of every now and then and then try to forget about. I used to pray every time I touched myself and I would cry myself to sleep, fearful of the wrath of God, guilty for my sins etc. etc. It breaks my heart to think of children all over the globe experiencing the same shame. The poor children who don’t know that they’re normal, that it’s okay, that they needn’t be afraid of their own bodies.

What is the image you think you project every day?

I go out into the world assuming I’m being courteous, kind, thoughtful & good-humored but often find my intentions are muddied by social politics.

How would you describe your personal experience, existing in the way you do, each day?

I’m super lethargic. I often find myself struggling to stay awake most days. I try as hard as I can to make people laugh often & honestly, my days are spent trying to stay awake and trying to be funny.

What is the image you would like to project?

One of kindness & integrity. I know I fail constantly, but I’m working towards being a reliable and worthy contributor to the world. I want more than anything for people to trust my insight & to not underestimate me.

"(Y)ou’re never obliged to do anything with anyone at anytime regardless of circumstance & anyone telling you otherwise is a creep and needs to be re educated or branded as a sex pest." -Caitlin Photo by Jennifer Toole

“(Y)ou’re never obliged to do anything with anyone at anytime regardless of circumstance & anyone telling you otherwise is a creep and needs to be re educated or branded as a sex pest.” -Caitlin
Photo by Jennifer Toole

What do you think the image other people perceive is?

Sort of hapless mayhem. I’m utterly irresponsible, whimsical & poorly organized. Sometimes it’s considered charming and other times it’s simply infuriating. I definitely oscillate between the two.

What is your political stance on women’s reproductive rights?

No one anywhere ever should EVER be able to tell a woman what is right for her body regarding her reproductive rights. If you’re pro-life/anti-contraceptive, swell, just keep it to your fucking self & practice it, don’t enforce it on others.

Are you pro-life or pro-choice?

Super duper pro pro pro SUPER PRO-choice. I volunteer at a clinic that performs clinical abortions & escort patients to the waiting room from their cars, just to help them avoid harassment & so that they can see that they are supported.

What are your feelings about contraceptives? Their availability, cost, stigma, usage?

Contraceptives should be free, they should come in a wide variety pertaining to the needs of the individual & should be available on every fucking street corner.

What are your feelings on casual sex?

As long as it’s consensual, casual sex is an incredible tool to empower yourself with, help you learn your own body & its needs. Just BE SAFE.

Are you in a relationship(s)?

I am in a somewhat open relationship with the love of my life. We are not polyamorous but do not limit ourselves physically.

What are your feelings on marriage?

As an archaic institution it’s just awful, as a modern culture it’s even worse. The wedding industry is exploitative & gendered & drives the women who feel compelled to participate to madness. However, I’m an advocate of empowering women to do what THEY want & as long as they’re getting married because they TRULY believe it’s what THEY want & not what is expected OF them, then go for it.

What are your most positive relationships with other women?

My sister is my life source & a beacon of safety, home & humility. She was the first funny girl I ever met & the reason I’ve always disbelieved the myth that women can’t be funny.

It’s grotesque the way we target women. Ad campaigns are so sneaky, so covert, they masquerade as your ‘friends’ having a lilting lady voice soothe you into buying THESE cosmetics because we ALL know ‘your crow’s feet are there’ & they are FUUUUCKED. It’s so underhanded.

What are your negative?

The women I’ve encountered who attempt to discredit feminism, to tear one another down – basically any woman working for the dailymail, newscorp or TMZ.

What does the word ‘woman’ mean to you?

It can mean anything. At this point, in my world, it means a group of people of varying sexualities, ethnicities, body parts & mentalities forging ahead despite the push back of centuries of oppression. Women are fucking durable & powerful.

What are your feelings on monogamy?

It’s so pointless, painful & archaic. If it works for you and you genuinely find true contentment within monogamy then by all means endure it, but the fact that it’s the status quo is truly discriminative.

On polyamory?

Utopia.

Do you feel your choice to participate or not participate in consensual sex is at all affected by societal influence?

I often felt compelled to sleep with certain men because I’d A. led them on B. invited them home C. kissed them etc. I’ve since learned that you’re never obliged to do anything with anyone at anytime regardless of circumstance & anyone telling you otherwise is a creep and needs to be re-educated or branded as a sex pest. I also would lie about my sexual impulses. I wanted to seem more demure, more desirable & less tainted. I even apologized to certain men after fucking. “I don’t normally do this kind of thing, I hope you don’t think less of me.” I mean, A. I did do that kind of thing all the time & B. Anyone who WOULD think less of me is a fucking loser, a slut shaming waste of energy and space on earth.

How do you feel about products marketed to women?

It’s grotesque the way we target women. Ad campaigns are so sneaky, so covert, they masquerade as your ‘friend/s’ having a lilting lady voice to soothe you into buying THESE cosmetics because we ALL know ‘your crow’s feet are there’ & they are FUUUUCKED. It’s so underhanded.

How do you feel about feminine hygiene products’ portrayal in the media?

This blue liquid in place of red really has to stop. It lends itself to making menstrual blood a spectacle and a horrifying & gruesome secret. Let’s just be cool about it. Let’s all get the fuck over the fact that some people have periods.

Were you always aware of what your body could do sexually & mechanically?

When I was younger I remember experiencing an overwhelming tickling, almost painful, sensation between my legs if I touched myself. I didn’t know what it was and would grimace till it was over. It never frightened me but I was truly & completely ignorant to the fact that I was having an orgasm. Once I eventually learned to enjoy the sensation I quickly figured how to make it happen on purpose.

"We have come to understand the world as a ‘Man’s space’ and that we women are merely traveling through that space, although not all people feel this way, it is evidenced in cat calls, street harassment and the constant pursuit of women by strange men." -Caitlin Photo by Jennifer Toole

“We have come to understand the world as a ‘Man’s space’ and that we women are merely traveling through that space, although not all people feel this way, it is evidenced in catcalls, street harassment and the constant pursuit of women by strange men.” -Caitlin
Photo by Jennifer Toole

Do you feel your sexual education was sufficient?

Not at all. I learned the basics, the very basics & it seemed so foreign and sterile that I didn’t relate it back to myself. I couldn’t imagine that all these incredible things were going to happen to my body.

If not, what would you have done to make it so?

I think sexual education needs to morph into something far more comprehensive & less transphobic. We need to discuss things like stretch marks, acne, gender identity, gender fluidity, safe sex between same sex couples, sensitivity & empathy towards LGBTQIA students & masturbation.

Where do you feel unsafe as a woman?

It may seem dramatic but everywhere.

Where is somewhere you can exist without fear?

My home, when I’m with my boyfriend. It sickens me to have to admit to 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.

Do women treat you differently than men?

Women are more empathic, considered, honest & tactile. The more I experience the men the more I’m experiencing their bias & privilege.

In what ways does being a woman make you vulnerable or exposed?

We have come to understand the world as a ‘Man’s space’ and that we women are merely traveling through that space, and although not all people feel this way, it is evidenced in catcalls, street harassment and the constant pursuit of women by strange men.

Would you consider yourself a feminist?

Utterly.

How do you define feminism?

As a group of people pushing forward to total & inarguable equality.

What do you think are positive ways the world views women?

It’s funny, this question once struck me as innocent enough until I started asking women it. I found that EVERY answer they came up with had a seed of male gaze within it, and of course that’s the case. If you think of the patriarchy as a tree, its roots tainted by male privilege & oppression, then all the fruits of that tree are tainted as well, no matter how prettily it’s dressed up. To state that “being a woman is good because of…” is to separate us into categories that are arbitrary and socially inflicted anyway. If being a woman, by today’s standards, benefits you then you aren’t benefiting. You’re merely feeding back into a system that lets you down.

What are negative?

Where do I start?

Do you think the world’s perception of women limits or benefits them?

Limits them hugely.

What is your relationship to sex?

Once conflicted now limitlessly positive.

How do you define sex?

Great, best, lovely, fun.

What does a sexual relationship mean to you?

Respect & honesty, no compromises & no elevation of one’s needs over the others’.

Do you feel comfortable communicating your sexual needs to a partner?

I do now that I’m with the most understanding, fluid person on earth.

Have you found a balance of fulfillment with your partners?

In the past no. I felt myself offering myself up to please them, even if I was utterly repulsed or disinterested and I would often fake my orgasms.

Do you feel that your desires are marginalized in the bedroom or are less important? If so why do you think that is?

I used to feel like someone an act was being performed on rather than a willing partner in an activity. I was so deferential I would just desperately try to please the people I was with, be a cool girl, a goddamn fantasy. I’ve now learned how overrated being a cool girl is. Now my current partner has flipped the tables entirely making our sex life about my needs.

Are you fearful of being openly sexual for fear of judgement?

I used to be, but learned quickly that those likely to judge me were lower life forms anyway.

Have you ever been in a position where your sexuality was used against you?

I’ve been accused of ‘friend zoning’ again & again, that my kindness & flirtation were grounds to expect sex from me. I was warned by several dudes to modify my behavior and be careful of leading men on. If I could go back in time I’d have laughed in their pathetic horny faces and waltzed off.

Have you ever been physically or verbally threatened because of your appearance?

I’m catcalled at least a dozen times a week in summer. Mercifully during winter it’s too cold for people to roll down their windows and stick their heads out.

When you imagine sex, what is the visual/feeling you associate with it?

Sometimes pain, I suffer from constant & chronic UTIs, the fear of pain causes your muscles to spasm and contract which can make sex impossible. Other times it’s just the loveliest thing to think of.

Is sex empowering for you?

It’s simply an act. Pursuing it despite societal backlash is empowering sure, but I don’t fuck to feel powerful. I do it for gratification.

Is sex embarrassing for you to discuss?

Not anymore, not unless I’m with a particularly judgmental person.

Is there anyone in your world you undermine your principles for?

Sometimes my mother, sometimes religious family members, men who call me darling, love, sweetie or beautiful while I’m at work. Sometimes it’s not worth the hassle.

In which situations do you feel safe to speak your mind/stand up for yourself?

Almost all and any, although I am wary of getting a reputation for being a killjoy, which in reality is bullshit but I don’t live in a vacuum.

What do you seek through sex?

Fun, adventure, connection.

How do you feel about the media’s portrayal of women?

It depicts us as sexless unless corrupt, hairless unless masculine & helpless unless evil. We’re not allowed to be gross or crass & intelligent, or beautiful & funny. We have to fit into neat little boxes.

Are you satisfied with the women you see depicted in film, television & advertising?

Not at all. I’m not even entirely satisfied by some of the women I’ve played. The erasure of colour from entertainment is truly staggering & appalling. The erasure of women from within the LGTBQIA community is equally as awful.

How do you think the world at large views women?

As mothers, sluts, virgins, or wives.

How do you maintain a sense of self?

By creating my own world daily & loving the women around me fully.

What is something you deeply love about yourself?

My sense of humour, I truly think I’m blessed to be able to laugh as often as I do.

Who are/what are your biggest motivators?

Lucas, my boyfriend and partner in crime, my mother who unfailingly believes in me and my father who unfailingly holds up a mirror to my misgivings.

Do you have people you look up to?

Anais Nin, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Clementine Ford, Marieke Hardy, Haylee Collins, Malala Yousafzai.

Do you ever feel overlooked in the workplace because of your gender?

The nature of my work means that I’m hired because of my gender so yes and no.

Because of your appearance?

I’m an actor so, yeah.

Do you find entering the work force as a woman has any bearing on how people will treat you?

In any other field I’m sure people would overlook me or underestimate me. I’ve only ever been an actor so can only speak to that experience. I only ever audition for female roles, obviously, so my gender doesn’t come into play, just my ability & physicality.

Have you ever experienced sexism or sexual harassment within a workplace?

I’ve had people say pretty awful things to me at work because they thought they could get away with it. A woman once called me a slut, I assume as a joke, and I’d never even once spoken to her.

How have you dealt with conflict?

By flipping out & raging.

"Women - Love each other, support each other, defend each other. It comes at a greater cost to you to attack the women around you than it does to empower them." -Caitlin Photo by Jennifer Toole

“Women – Love each other, support each other, defend each other. It comes at a greater cost to you to attack the women around you than it does to empower them.” -Caitlin
Photo by Jennifer Toole

Have you ever been verbally abused or threatened because of your gender?

I’m sure I’m only catcalled because I’m a woman, and verbally thrashed online because I’m a woman. I once had a man stalk me for over a year.

If so, how did those in your life respond when you told them about it?

With sympathy & upset; sometimes people tell me to get over it but those closest to me feel angry on my behalf.

What are you feelings on motherhood?

On one hand it’s overrated I’m sure & expected of us and on the other I’m sure it’s magical. I don’t believe a nuclear family is conducive to wholesomeness or fullness so motherhood as a concept is changing. A mother and father can be combined in one individual & I think gendered parenting is on the out.

What are your biggest fears?

Loneliness, death, spiders.

Your biggest regrets?

Not being fearful or motivated enough.

Your greatest accomplishments?

My career to date, my perseverance despite setbacks and my relationships.

Anything else you’d like to add?

Women – Love each other, support each other, defend each other. It comes at a greater cost to you to attack the women around you than it does to empower them. ~