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Save the babies down under. #shoutyourabortion

1 Oct

Right to choose


The Turnbull government has cancelled the visa of US anti-abortion activist Mr Troy Newman, spokesperson for the Operation Rescue group, on the grounds that he is not of good character.

There are some who’d argue Immigration Minister Peter Dutton isn’t of particularly good character either, but that’s beside the point, apparently.

There are many who’d argue that nobody associated with the current policy of permitting refugee women on Nauru and Manus Island to be raped in order to deter possible future boat arrivals has anything approaching a good character, but that is also beside the point, apparently.

In fact, one woman has reportedly been impregnated by her rapist and is seeking to come to Australia for an abortion. Will the good Mr Dutton permit her that relief, or will she be doomed by his whim, to carry and give birth to the rapist’s child?

Everywhere you look there’s a moral dilemma.

Troy Newman was visiting our country to give a speech titled “Save the babies down under” at an event organised by Right to Life Australia.

Troy’s lack of good character is apparently evidenced by his written exhortation in a book he co-authored, Their Blood Cries Out, which contains the passage: In addition to our personal guilt in abortion, the United States government has abrogated its responsibility to properly deal with the blood-guilty. This responsibility rightly involves executing convicted murderers, including abortionists, for their crimes in order to expunge bloodguilt from the land and people.

This passage has been interpreted as Newman advocating the murder of practitioners involved in abortion procedures, however, much as I loathe the sentiments he expresses, for mine, he is calling on the state, rather than individuals, to administer what he determines to be justice. There is a considerable difference, as there always is between individual acts of slaughter, and those that are sanctioned by the state.

The most powerful effect this will have is to give the Right to Life movement a martyr’s platform, and indeed, it already has as cries of denial of freedom of speech and persecution rise from their ranks. They may have a point. If what is considered negative speech is forbidden, there is no freedom of speech, alas and alack.

Also, I am not quite sure how someone calling on the state to extend capital punishment to include abortion providers is a danger to the Australian way of life. We don’t have capital punishment in the first place.

I wonder if Troy’s visa would have been cancelled under an Abbott government, given the ex-PM’s opinion that abortion is a stain on our society, and merely serves a mother’s convenience? We should, Abbott remonstrates, be haunted by the hundreds of thousands of Australians lost to abortion, which is a bit rich coming from a man whose conservative policies were neither woman nor live-child friendly.

The former PM even managed to be nationalistic about abortion. Perhaps every flag that flanked him represented thousands of Australian babies murdered at their mother’s convenience?

But fathoming the minds of the unhinged is a futile exercise: one can only hope to avoid them.

At the other end of the continuum we find the #shoutyourabortion hash tag which exhorts women to speak out about our abortions, and end the blaming and shaming that we fear will see us ostracised and maligned for choosing not to continue with a pregnancy.

As far as I can ascertain, the experience of abortion is hugely varied. For some it’s distressing and undertaken with reluctance. For some it’s an enormous relief. For some it’s not emotionally charged at all and I can’t see why any of that is the business of Troy Newman, Margaret Tighe of Right to Life, or any so-called pro-life politician of whom there are many, across the political spectrum.

I am hoping that by the time the youngest member of our family, a little girl now three weeks old, is of an age to be concerned by such matters, abortion will be no more of a social issue than any other medical procedure. That is not to say women will cease to experience personal emotions around the experience, but that they will be just that: personal emotions, un-politicised, free from the judgements of those who have absolutely nothing to do with the woman’s personal situation and will likely be the very last to help her and the foetus they’d like to forced her to carry to term.

In the meantime we must somehow survive the hypocrisy.




Give us shelter: why new DV funding isn’t anywhere near enough

27 Sep



The Turnbull government’s announcement last week of $100 million worth of funding to address domestic violence is better than than silence, and goes to some small way towards acknowledging the enormous problem this country has with male violence against women.

But what it does not do, and for this appalling omission the government should be unrelentingly and loudly pilloried, is fund the urgent immediate need for frontline services such as refuges and community legal centres, both of which are a woman’s first stop when she’s forced to flee a dangerous domestic situation.

What this says to me is that safe, secure, un-threatened people such as politicians have absolutely no idea what it is like to be in a situation of  such extreme danger that you have to flee, or risk injury or death to yourself and your children by staying.

And flee to where, exactly?

Not only do these fortunate politicians have no idea what this situation feels like, they apparently don’t care. Neither do have they the imagination to picture such a scene, and how they might feel in it.

Legal services are outraged at Minister for Women Michaelia Cash’s apparent spin on funding cuts that will directly affect women suffering domestic violence, and will see the centres in dire financial straits by 2017.

If politicians had the capacity to imagine themselves in such a situation, they would perhaps begin to understand that providing refuges for women and children must be the first priority in any plan to end family violence, in conjunction with some of the other options funding currently covers.

As I write this and as you read it, there will be women, alone or with their children, trying to get out of a house which is not a safe environment for them because it’s inhabited by a violent male intent on doing them harm. They need somewhere to go. Right now.

This ought not to be a difficult situation for a government to remedy. Providing funding for women’s refuges and legal centres is not going to break the budget. Yet, after decades of feminist activism we are going backwards: closing refuges, threatening the funding of community legal centres, handing over the refuges that remain to religious organisations who have little or no experience with the repercussions of domestic violence, and whose workers are primarily trained to deal with homelessness, not specifically with traumatised women and children fleeing abuse.

Solutions to domestic violence can’t be a one size fits all. Some women will be able to stay in their homes. Others will absolutely not. The period when a woman attempts to leave an abusive situation is well-recognised as the most dangerous for her, and for children involved. It is when she is most likely to be murdered, or severely injured, as the perpetrator’s rage escalates at the prospect of abandonment, and loss of control over his partner. Nothing will help in such situations if first-off, the woman has nowhere to go.

This is not complicated. Why will politicians not act to save women’s lives in the most pressing, the most obvious way, by adequately funding and staffing refuges and legal centres for the increasing numbers of women and children who have to get out, and have no place to which they can flee?

Credlin: victim of sexism and feminist martyr?

23 Sep

Audre Lorde Feminism


It is extremely difficult for me to think of Peta Credlin, the former Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff, as being a victim of anything at all.

She hasn’t lost her job as CoS because of sexism. She’s lost it because Tony Abbott is no longer Prime Minister.

She copped a lot of criticism from some journalists and MPs for her management style. There’s no doubt some of that criticism has been sexist, however, none of that sexist criticism caused her to lose her job.

This is not to excuse sexist criticism because it is not excusable. That others resorted to sexist attacks is a reflection on them, not Credlin. Yet it is entirely possible that her manner of conducting herself was offensive, not because she’s a woman, but because her manner was an offensive way for one human being to behave towards others.

Credlin is neither a feminist icon nor a feminist martyr. If, as she claims, she is responsible for the LNP’s transition from opposition to government it was nothing to do with her gender, feminism, or women in any capacity at all, as was evidenced by the lack of female representation in Abbott’s cabinet.

Credlin worked closely with a man whose opinions on women are well-documented and they aren’t inspiring, with the exception of very few females of “calibre,” and his relatives.

I am unable to see how Credlin’s alleged feminism informed her boss’s policies in any way at all. Feminism by stealth entirely failed as a project in the Abbott government.

If we are going to judge Credlin, and we will for some time to come I think, we need to focus on her behaviour and not her gender.   It has to be possible to criticise women in powerful positions without having those criticisms dismissed as sexist. Kevin Rudd was accused of similar failings: micro management and excessive control, for example, without reference to his gender.

Credlin wielded immense power in a centre of hyper-masculinity. In spite of that power, she was apparently entirely unable to influence Abbott’s attitude to women. Whether she tried or not we have yet to discover. This doesn’t mean she deserves sexist barbs. She doesn’t. It does mean she isn’t a feminist icon, and she isn’t a feminist martyr.

Credlin used the master’s tools. Not one brick of the master’s house fell to feminist ideals. Yet feminist women will protest sexist attacks on Credlin, as we should, and we will also retain the right to critique Credlin’s behaviours as we do the behaviours of all powerful figures, even as we protest the gender-based insults.





Credlin: It’s not me it’s them

23 Sep
I'm more powerful than you & don't you forget it Julie

I’m more powerful than you & don’t you forget it Julie


There’s a point in just about any desirable human characteristic when it can tip over into pathology, and self-confidence is no exception.

Former Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s Chief of Staff, Peta Credlin (otherwise known as the Horsewoman of the Apocalypse) has spoken publicly for the first time since the powerful couple were ousted by their party a few days ago.

The ousting was, Ms Credlin insisted at a Women’s Weekly woman of the future event, caused by the “tripe and bile” of a media fed anonymous commentary by despicable persons who leaked.

The double ousting can be seen, I suppose, as evidence that the voice of Murdoch’s Newscorpse, otherwise known as the LNP Weekly, was drowned out by other voices to a degree sufficient enough to persuade the Liberal party to dump its leader. These other voices are, no doubt, the “tripe and bile” to which Ms Credlin refers.

Let us take a moment to reflect on the Murdoch rags and their global standard of journalism, shall we? Just for perspective.

As examples of individuals promoted beyond their merit (defined as not up to dealing with her) Ms Credlin cites  Cabinet Minsters and journalists, who should not, she states, be in their jobs at all if they are intimidated by a Chief of Staff.

Ms Credlin also stated that she had got the opposition into government:

If I was a guy I wouldn’t be bossy, I would be strong. If I was a guy I wouldn’t be a micro-manager, I would be across the detail,” she said.

“If I wasn’t strong, determined, controlling – and got them into Government from Opposition, I might add – I would be weak and not up to it and would have to go and be replaced.

As in all the best spin, there’s elements of truth in Credlin’s assessment of herself, and only the most naive would deny she is as subject to sexist character analysis as are the rest of our gender. Be that as it may, like her former boss Credlin’s strongest message is that she is beyond criticism, indeed she cannot and will not take criticism. In other words, I’m totally OK, you most certainly are not.

Being unable to take criticism isn’t a marker of self-confidence and strength. It’s a marker of delusion and weakness. It’s an indicator that self-confidence has reached its tipping point, and has begun its descent into pathology.

How fortunate we are to have escaped Ms Credlin’s anointing as the most powerful woman in Australia.

But did they ask her if she’s a feminist? That’s what I want to know.

PS: My bestest canine Twitter pal @missbaileywoof just sent me this video of a horse with brilliant instincts:


I did not have sex with that pig

21 Sep

Cameron and pigs


British Prime Minister David Cameron was overnight accused of having indulged in a tastelessly demeaning act of necro-bestiality in Delingpole’s rooms at the Pickwater Quad, Oxford, when he was an undergraduate.

Cameron, it is alleged, placed his penis (erect or flaccid?) in the mouth of a dead pig. After merciless media attention, Cameron has admitted that he did indeed pop his willy doodle in the deceased pig’s mouth but, he claims: “I did not come.”

Parallels have been drawn between former US President Bill Clinton’s denial of a) drug abuse (I didn’t inhale), and b) infidelity (I did not have sex with that woman). Nevertheless, the British Prime Minister has unforgivably besmirched the brand of British Pork, and many of us will never again feel easy ordering a pulled pork sandwich.

It’s unclear whether or not the deceased pig wore lipstick.

The revelation that the staunchly heterosexual Cameron performed a sexual act upon a dead animal has thrown up an unexpected challenge to Australian Liberal politician and right-wing nut job, Cory Bernardi. Bernardi has long-held that same-sex marriage will lead to bestiality. Yet here, on his own side of politics no less, is stark evidence that such questionable practices are already in the conservative heterosexual DNA.

My first reaction to this scandal was to pity David Cameron. Perhaps nothing with a pulse was willing to accept his penis?

However, descriptions of the navy tailcoat, mustard waistcoat, and sky-blue bow tie he allegedly wore when he performed this act of gross indecency in Delingpole’s rooms brought me to my senses.

The wealthy inhabit another country, and besides, the pig is dead.



I was a bachelor aus virgin

19 Sep

I love you


That is, I was until about two hours ago, when, after listening to a critique of the program on ABC Radio National Life Matters the other day titled Can a Real feminist enjoy The Bachelor, I decided I better have a look at this show if I wanted to get a bead on where popular culture is currently at in the matter of romance, rose petals, and true lurve.

It was approximately one hour and twenty minutes of my life I will never get back.

I would also like to take up with Life Matters what exactly they mean by a “real” feminist, but one thing at a time.

After watching the final episode of Bachelor (I wasn’t going to submit myself to the torment of the previous fifteen) I was left with the kind of feeling I get when I’ve eaten an entire packet of jelly snakes, which, coincidentally, I also did this week. Sickened, guilty, ashamed, and wondering if I put my finger down my throat and barf will I be restored to my un-polluted self?

The Bachelor, whose name I believe is Sam Wood, scared the bejesus out of me at first glance owing to his uncanny physical resemblance to the actor Jamie Dornan, who, as you will all know, played the character Christian Grey in the movie Fifty Shades of Grey.

An aside: When I first heard the title Fifty Shades of Grey I thought it referred to a new L’Oreal hair colour chart. Then I thought it must be about very old ghosts. Then a friend gave me the book and I chucked it in the recycling. Anyhow. Be that as it may.

Jamie Dornan also played a seriously alarming psychopath in The Fall, alarming because of his ability to both conduct an apparently straightforward and loving family life, while transmogrifying into a serial killer at night. This surely must be the  heterosexual woman’s worst nightmare, that the man with whom you’ve chosen to spend your life and allowed to give you babies has a side you never see until it’s too late.

In a Freudian chain of association these thoughts provoked by The Bachelor are not entirely non sequiturs, given that two people, brought together in entirely unrealistic circumstances, must decide on the basis of absolutely no knowledge of one another to join lives because, as the bachelor puts it :”I have to follow my heart and know that will lead me where I’m meant to go.”

Cue ten jelly snakes cos references to destiny. Biology is destiny. Damn you, Freud.

It took me a good ten minutes to silence the clamour of cultural references, and take Sam at face value. He seems like an OK guy and has very good teeth. He was also kind to the ladies. He lost credibility for mine when he appeared at the end in a royal blue suit.

Also, I have never seen a woman get so dressed up for a dumping. It was heartbreaking the trouble Lana had gone to, only to be told, you are an incredible woman but not my incredible woman, or some such blather, after which she took herself off and stood under a tree asking not to be filmed, but they filmed her anyway.

Look, this is ghastly. It should be bombed.

The Bachelor’s premise is scarcity: a harem of women competing for one man.

Its message to women is warped. You have no agency, rather a man will choose you or he will reject you. You must make every effort to suss out what it is this man wants from a woman and then you must give it to him, even if it isn’t in your nature. This man’s approval is everything. He has absolute power in the circumstances. You have none.

Helicopter rides are incredible. Flower-strewn rowboats mysteriously anchored in the middle of water-lilies are incredible. Classic cars are incredible. The champagne is incredible. Every woman looks incredible to Sam. This word incredible features more than any other adjective in the script and that is, unwittingly, entirely fitting because the entire stupid moronic concept is totally incredible, and so sickeningly hetero-normative it makes me want to barf up all my jelly snakes.

And I still don’t know what a real feminist is, but people seem to have been arguing about it for years.




The relief of being relieved of a liar

18 Sep



(This is an update of a piece I posted in November 2014.)

Wednesday September 16 2015.

 ABC News: We asked how you felt about Malcolm Turnbull replacing Tony Abbott as prime minister and the response was overwhelming. The morning after the challenge almost 25,000 readers told us their mood and one word stood out – relief.


“It is an absolute principle of democracy that governments should not and must not say one thing before an election and do the opposite afterwards. Nothing could be more calculated to bring our democracy into disrepute and alienate the citizenry of Australia from their government than if governments were to establish by precedent that they could say one thing before an election and do the opposite afterwards.” Tony Abbott, August 22, 2011

Every time Abbott lies to the citizens of this country we become increasingly disaffected, and not only from our Prime Minister, but from the institution he represents. Abbott has normalised the discourse of lies. He has taken the dishonesty of politicians to a whole new level. We barely expect anything else from him, and from his fellow politicians. Under the leadership of our mendacious Prime Minister, we have increasingly abandoned hope of fairness, straightforwardness, belief and trust. Our Prime Minister doesn’t think we are deserving of the truth.

One of the many unpleasant effects of being lied to is that the liar insults and patronises me by creating a false reality that I have to inhabit, until I discover I’m the victim of deception.The liar denies me the right to know the truth, a serious offence against me, because truth is something no one has the right to deny me.

Whether it’s on a personal or a political level, lying to me signifies the liar doesn’t consider me as entitled to the truth as is he or she. This infantilises me, is disrespectful to me, and denies me the knowledge I need to make informed decisions about my life. There’s little more insulting than being lied to, kept in the dark with lies of omission, and intentionally misled because the liar doesn’t consider you capable of handling the truth, or is acting entirely in their own self-interest because you knowing the truth will in some way threaten them.

The Prime Minister of our country, Tony Abbott, has never made any secret of his ambivalent relationship with truth. There is his notorious assertion that nothing he says is “gospel” truth unless it’s written down.

There’s his prescriptive declaration that “It is better to seek forgiveness than ask permission.” While this isn’t necessarily an endorsement of lying, it is a ruthless and callous prescription for relationship with one’s fellow humans. It recommends that one do that which one desires, and if it backfires, apologise, but it isn’t necessary under the terms of Abbott’s prescriptive to negotiate with or communicate intention to others, prior to taking an action. This has a similar effect to lying, in that it assumes an inferiority of some kind on the part of another that doesn’t require Abbott to enter into an equal, respectful relationship in which another’s opinions and wishes count for the same as his own.

We have a liar for a leader. When the lies start at the top, there’s little hope truth will ever see the light of day. Abbott is leading us into an abyss of normalised deception that will damage every one of us, because when dedicated liars are in power, the country will inevitably lose its way.


It makes perfect sense that relief is the feeling described by so many after Abbott was relieved of the prime ministership earlier this week. There is little more psychologically disturbing, both personally and politically, than living life under the pernicious influence of a liar. The toll this takes on individual and collective well-being is often not recognised until the experience is over. Abbott trashed the unspoken social contract that allows civilised society to prevail over anarchy and chaos: most of us will, to the best of our ability, strive to be truthful to one another.

We will not, as did the former Prime Minister, adopt dishonesty as a way of being and publicly justify that choice. Once a person has admitted their penchant for and comfort with lying, it is not possible to establish or maintain a healthy relationship with them. While all politicians lie to some degree, as does everyone, Abbott made the lie the foundation from which he attempted to govern.

We are well rid of this lying little man. There was not one issue on which we could trust his words. In itself, this creates a climate of fear and apprehension in the country, as the worst kind of uncertainty prevails. What we most value in one another, what we most take for granted in our society and without which we will crumble, the will to truth, was contemptuously dismissed by the country’s leader as counting for nothing.

Good riddance to the liar.



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