Tag Archives: Australian Labor Party

Why Julia Gillard is my sister

3 Jul

I’m not the type of essentialist gender feminist who believes every woman is my sister simply because we share biological characteristics, unlike leading public figure Anne Summers, who in this article  expresses outrage against certain female MPs who did not resign “in solidarity” with Ms Gillard when she lost the ALP leadership to Kevin Rudd last week.

I don’t usually follow the line that a high achieving woman is making things better for all of those who share her sex. That to me is a romantic idea that has little basis in reality, indeed there are women among us considerably worse off after Ms Gillard’s prime ministership, for example the sole parents shifted to Newstart, and women seeking asylum.

Summers’ test of faith I find entirely self-defeating. What would it serve Australian society if every time a woman in public office was badly treated, her female colleagues resigned? In a nano second, there would be none of us left anywhere. It’s the sort of demand a comfortable middle class feminist can make from her armchair without pausing to consider the ramifications, for individuals and the greater good of our society.

That being said, these last few days I’ve noticed a sense of relief in myself and people around me. What is this about? The cessation of sexist abuse against Ms Gillard, that’s what it’s about.

It’s only since Ms Gillard left the leadership that it’s become painfully clear just how bad and how constant the gender-based abuse was. It’s like the relief you feel when you stop hitting yourself on the head with a hammer, if you are given to that form of self-abuse.  We no longer have to witness the daily public denigration of a woman, because she is a woman. We no longer have to witness the gender war in all its frightening darkness, as fought between Ms Gillard and the sexists from all walks of life, whose first complaint against the Prime Minister was that she is female, and who viewed every other dissatisfaction through that gender prism.

We have never seen such a terrifying display of anti woman feeling in our politics, because we have never had a female leader. We couldn’t see how bad it was until it stopped. We couldn’t see how the sexist abuse distracted from the most important  task of keeping our society functioning, which Ms Gillard’s government achieved better than almost any other Western government.

There is a great deal on which I vehemently disagreed with Ms Gillard. I did not personally take to her, though as Deputy PM I thought she would one day be an excellent leader. That day came too soon, and under fraught circumstances that could not have been worse for our first female PM. That the ALP chose to depose then leader Kevin Rudd in his first term was a questionable decision. That they should seize the opportunity to install the country’s first female leader, who as well as everything else was forced to become the blood-soaked symbol of the fallen man’s “knifing” beggars belief. One can only assume that as usual, the blokes brought a woman in to clean up their mess.

Though I am wary of joining anything, let alone a sisterhood (you will not find a woman less interested in or less capable of belonging than me) every time Ms Gillard was abused because of her sex, I was also abused. The unrelenting sexist and misogynist commentary directed towards her was directed at all women, though the perpetrators would no doubt strenuously deny that. It cannot be any other way, anymore than racism can only be aimed at one individual, leaving everyone else untouched.

We should be outraged at the contempt and insult daily enacted towards Ms Gillard. At any moment it can be and is turned against any woman who falls foul of those men and  women who are so conflicted in their attitudes towards us they can only fear and hate, solely because of our sex. One of Ms Gillard’s achievements, though it is not one any sane person could have anticipated or desired, is that she has shown us, through her personal endurance, the degree to which hatred of women still flourishes in Australian society and the awful toll it takes on that society.

In sexism and misogyny, Ms Gillard is my sister.

Knitted fruit makes more sense than politics

27 Jun

The only political event in the last twenty-four hours to provoke in me a smidgen of fleeting sadness, was the resignation of the two most admirable federal politicians in recent memory, Independents Rob Oakeshott and Tony Windsor.

While many around them succumbed (with little or no thought for the well-being of the country they were elected to serve) to bitterness, envy, misogyny,narcissistic rage  and rampant idiocy, Windsor and Oakeshott stood firm, emanating decency, integrity, and, yes, that rarest of all virtues in our 21st century parliament, common sense,  while all around them busied themselves with their daily obsequious capitulation to the demands of their lower, reptilian-brained selves.

On a personal level, I dislike Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard almost equally. But this should not matter. Ms Gillard undoubtedly achieved much while simultaneously behaving despicably towards asylum seekers and single parents. We have no idea what Mr Rudd might have achieved, since he was dumped without warning in his first term. We have now come full circle, a political ouroboros, its head devouring its body in obsessive self-absorption.

When Ms Gillard took over from Kevin Rudd after the coup, she drank from a poisoned chalice, as women in politics frequently do, brought in, as we are, to clear up the messes made by blokes. As well, we are a distraction from said messes, and make the party involved look progressive.  Oh look! We’ll make a woman PM, for the first time evah, and that will take everyone’s mind off our chaos!

The repercussions of the coup were bound to be many, and like uranium rods, they have a lengthy half-life. How much better to install a woman to suffer the fall-out than to put a man at risk!

Now patriarchal order has been restored, the woman has gone, the blokes can get back to their business, fighting an election. Mr Rudd proved himself to be exceptionally adept in 2007, let’s hope none of his gloss has faded in the intervening and humiliating years. That he can lead the ALP to victory seems as likely as me learning how to sew, but if he can save a few seats, that will be better than nothing.

I am now returning to my blog break. I’m knitting fruit, in an attempt to dissuade the  creatures that visit my kitchen every night from chewing on the real fruit in my full fruit bowl. Yes. A real woman keeps a full fruit bowl. When considering our political options, we should never forget that fact.

UPDATE ON CONVOY OF CLEAVAGE: WE ARE NOW IN THE NEW STATESMAN

Knitted fruit

Come September,vote with your reason not your emotions

11 Jun

Of all the scurrilous campaigns conducted by the Federal Opposition, and maniacally propagated by almost all the mainstream media, the erroneous suggestion that we vote for a leader when we elect a government in this country has to be one of the most dangerous.

Dangerous because it deliberately disguises the manner in which our Westminster political system actually works. We do not elect our leaders. We elect a party that is entirely responsible for electing its own leader. As we know all too well, a party can sack their leader, without consulting us, at any time.  Had any of us been in any doubt about this, it was made graphically obvious when the ALP defenestrated Kevin Rudd in  his first term as leader, and after he’d led them to an extraordinary victory.

Be that as it may.

I’ve heard and read of many people vowing that if the ALP now defenestrates Prime Minister Julia Gillard, they will never vote Labor again. While I can fully sympathise with this enraged despair, an expression of powerlessness if ever there was one, at the same time it is alarmingly nihilistic, and the country can ill-afford dramatic gestures at this point in our politics.

The ALP needs to get its house in order and earn back the trust it squandered with heart-stopping recklessness since 2007. It may well be doing this from the Opposition benches. Things may well have got so bad there really is no hope of them retaining government, no matter who leads them. But disillusioned as many of us are, we have to do our bit and use our heads, not our hearts. If there is any chance at all of minimising a Labor defeat, we have to take it. The alternative, a coalition government led by Tony Abbott, likely in place for decades, is simply too appalling to contemplate.

The notion that we vote for our leader is part of the Opposition campaign, which relies almost entirely on disseminating false information through the use of simplistic   narratives. The degree to which it has taken hold in the electorate is shocking. That we behave and vote as if we live in a presidential electoral system reveals a vast and profound ignorance of our reality, an ignorance the Opposition and certain sections of the media manipulates and exploits to its own advantage.

No matter how pissed off you are with those in the ALP who have brought us to this, look first to who is standing in your electorate, not to who will or will not be, temporarily, the leader. I know they don’t deserve our trust. But nobody deserves decades of a Coalition government, while the ALP languishes in greatly reduced numbers, as ineffective in opposition as they have been in dealing with their internal strife.

Come September, vote with you reason, not your emotion. And that way, perhaps the damage can be minimised.

Dear ALP

16 Apr

kevin07-kevin-ruddDear ALP

Lately, I have been thinking back to election night, 2007. I was in Brisbane that night. I’d gone up because I had an early flight to the US next morning, and things being as they are where I live, things like, for example, the treacherous stretch of pot-holed goat track we call the Pacific Highway,  if one has commitments such as overseas flights one can only be sure of keeping them if one allows oneself  twenty-four hours to drive 300ks. Occasionally, even that isn’t long enough.

Be that as it may.

I returned to the hotel room with Mrs Chook when it was all over, and you had won government. We turned on the TV, danced, drank champagne from the mini bar (what a waste of money that was, in hindsight) and felt, like many others, the terrible oppression of John Winston Howard’s lengthy reign lift off us. We were entering a new political phase, we believed, and our relief and happiness kept us awake for much of the night. By the time I boarded my flight the next day I was exhausted, but content.

It did not take long for things to sour. I believe my first major shock was when Kevin Rudd took that bizarre decision to send the Oceanic Viking, a ship carrying rescued asylum seekers, to Indonesia, where a lengthy stand-off ensued and it became clear that your policies on the question of asylum seekers were beginning to morph into something that more closely resembled those of the deposed John Howard and his right hand executioner, the pallid-complexioned Philip Ruddock. (The one who collected stamps from all the countries whose displaced peoples he locked up indefinitely in Woomera and Baxter, along with their children. He kept them in a Chinese cabinet his wife gave him for Christmas. The stamps, not the people).

One remembers such odd facts.

Things have gone frightfully down hill since then, but I cannot bear to list the litany of offences you continue to commit against those who are legally seeking refuge in this country, as is their human right, and as we continue to invite them to do. You are, ladies and gentlemen, fucking hypocrites on this matter.

I can say that I have never forgiven Kevin Rudd for initiating this downwardly spiralling breach of faith.

Then came the coup. Oh yes, much happened in between but if I’m to list every idiocy I will be here till the end of next year, and anyway, confronting you with individual disgraces is not my intention.

What I do want to convey is my horror and distress, when I recall the great tide of support and enthusiasm that swept you into power in 2007 and compare that to where you are now. That win was miraculous. You could not put a foot wrong. It was the triumph every politician dreams of.

SO WHY HAVE YOU FUCKED IT UP?

I believe you’ve fucked it up because there’s not one among you of any influence capable of putting their ego to one side, and focussing on the greater good of your party, and this country. You’ve had some good policies. You’ve done some good things. But none of this gets any airtime because you are so busy publicly brawling among yourselves that you have become the dominant narrative, with your scandals and your betrayals, and not, as it should be, with your policies.

Nobody can hear the good things above the noise of you fighting like fornicating possums trapped in the roof.  You have thus wickedly squandered all your hard-earned capital, and for what, I ask you, for what?

Again, I cannot bear to list the insults and disappointments you have dished out to those of us who elected you, because of your blind, ego-driven hatred of one another. I cannot bear to detail the extent of the self-harm, the cutting of your own arms and legs with blunt razor blades, the public purgings, the binges of self-destruction, the poking out of your own eyes with burnt sticks, the gut-spilling, the incessant factional wars, the eating of yourselves and your leaders, nobody could make this stuff up.

Obviously, you came to power divided and unsettled. Obviously, you are more heavily invested in your internal political hoo haa than you are even in getting yourselves re-elected. Even now, at this eleventh hour, you will not shut up & Mr Simon Crean (no, I will not refer to him as The Honourable) recently and inexplicably found himself compelled to enact yet another attempt at sabotage from the back benches, to whence he was so recently banished after his bizarre efforts to get rid of one leader and replace her with the leader you already got rid of, who has hung around ever since you fatally stabbed him, like an unhappy shade unable to grasp that it is actually dead.

Well, let me tell you, a punter can only take so much before she ceases to give a damn. And sadly, I have now reached that point. I no longer care what you do. Feed on yourselves. Gorge until you vomit like dogs. Do yourselves as much harm as you can manage before you finally collapse in a bloodied heap of lacerated, putrid human flesh, on the opposite side of the house, where you will no doubt languish for decades, and it serves you fucking well right.

Oh, yes you can cry foul, and blame the media. I admit, they have not been on your side. But did you have to make it so easy for them? Did you have to drip feed their malice?

I will vote for Janelle Saffin, my local member, as I have done for some time. This is not a vote of confidence in you, ALP. It is a vote for a damn fine local member who, god help her, has the misfortune to belong to you, and whom you recently demoted because she supports Kevin Rudd, even though she was doing a damn fine job and I resent it that you took her job away from her.

As for the rest of you, quite frankly I wouldn’t piss on most of you if you were on fire.

Sincerely, and more in incandescent rage than sorrow,

Jennifer.

Dear Kevin

20 Mar

First up, I hate what they did to you. I really do. Even if you were totally hopeless in the job, you didn’t deserve what they dished out. There were other ways they could have used to address their problems with you, but they were too unimaginative, ignorant, ambitious, short-sighted, and just plain nasty  to do anything other than what they did. So I don’t blame you if you still want to kick their miserable, rat-fucking arses.

But Kevin, we’re all in seriously deep doo doo now. We’re looking at Prime Minister Abbott. This prospect casts an unimaginable blight on all our lives, Kevin, and I’m sorry if I sound harsh, but all our lives together are bigger than your one. You know this in your heart. I know you do, you are a decent chap. You are struggling with the clamourings of your ego and the demands of the greater good. That’s understandable, I would be too.

But Kevin, if there was ever a time for a man to force himself to move on from the self-interested concerns of his seriously affronted pride, mate, this is it.

I know you were gutted when they chucked you out. I watched you cry and mate, I cried with you. I’ve never fully recovered, so I can see how hard it’s been for you.

It will take a real man to do this but if you do, everybody will be gobsmacked with gratitude, Kevin. Stand up, and tell the world in a great big voice that under no circumstances, and no matter what transpires, you will never, ever, ever agree to lead the ALP again during the term of this government. Take yourself right out of the contest, mate. Leave no possibility open. Let us all know, unequivocally, that you are out of the race. End it, Kevin, I’m begging you. End it now while there’s still a glimmer of hope for us.

Kev, they are a bunch of chunts, there’s no denying it. And they are reaping what they sowed. Anybody with an ounce of psychological insight could have told them that it could only ever end in tears, and it has, mate, it has. But Kev, all of us are crying, and we are (in the main) innocent bystanders.

So Kev, while you have a right to be a destabilising influence for as long as you want, I’m begging you, for the sake of my unborn grandchild, due in April, think of the bigger picture. Think of us under an Abbott government. Think of what you can do towards helping us avoid that fate. Think like a hero, Kev. Think like a hero, and walk away from any possibility of resuming the leadership.

Because if they do change leadership you, Kevin, are the absolutely very last person who should step into the breach. This is no time for revenge, mate. I know you want it, and it’s probably due, but Prime Minister Abbott? None of us deserve that fate.

Yours sincerely,

Jennifer

Dear Blog Regulars

Would you like me to set up a permanent space where you can talk about whatever you want?

The Wayne LaPierre solution to religious exemption from secular law

15 Jan

David Marr’s excellent piece in the Fairfax press yesterday is a reminder of just how conflicted our anti discrimination legislation is, and has been for some time.

Exemption from the law for religious organisations means they are permitted to behave in ways that are unlawful for the rest of us, because of their beliefs. For example, employing someone who does not engage in a heteronormative sexual life, employing a woman who becomes pregnant outside of marriage (the same rule does not apply to the man who impregnates her, by the way) and  employing people who live together unmarried (such as Prime Minister Julia Gillard, but her partner Tim Mathieson as well? This is not clear, perhaps it is only women religious institutions demand marry) transgresses some religious beliefs about how human beings ought to conduct themselves in their private lives. No religious institution should be obliged to put itself in a situation where its beliefs are insulted, it is argued, therefore they are all exempt from anti discrimination legislation that applies to everyone else.

I might find it difficult to work alongside someone who holds any or all of the above beliefs because they do not accord with mine and I find them offensive and insulting. However, were I to refuse the believer employment, or to terminate their employment because their beliefs trouble me, I will be committing an offence under the anti discrimination legislation and if they complain, I will be punished.

As I am not a religious institution, I must employ the religious regardless of my beliefs. This irrational imbalance continues, for some inexplicable reason, to be legitimised by the Labor government, itself led by an atheist woman living in a de facto relationship. In other words, as Marr points out, Prime Minister Gillard is legislating against herself.

Perhaps the solution is to declare atheism and agnosticism  religions, and apply for exemption from the law. I call this the Wayne LaPierre solution, after  the Executive President and CEO of the NRA. LaPierre recently claimed what is needed to stop bad guys with guns is good guys with guns. By the same reasoning, we might consider allowing the rest of us the privilege of denying employment to religious people as they may do to us. Then we will have achieved the equal right to deny a livelihood to everyone except ourselves and those who think like us. Which of us is good or bad will remain as subjective as it as ever been, but we’ll all have big guns with which to kill each other’s prospects.

On the other hand, the current consolidation of the anti discrimination laws offers a golden opportunity to effect changes that would revoke privileges extended to religious institutions, and level the playing field. Attorney General Nicola Roxon has introduced additions to the bill that now declare offending or insulting someone to be an unlawful act. Unless of course you are religious institution and then you can offend and insult somebody’s protected attributes (if they do not comply with your belief system) to your heart’s content by refusing to employ them, or by dismissing them on the grounds of that attribute, and you will get clean away with it. If we can accept additions, surely we can effect the subtraction of what is a most discriminating practice that makes a mockery of the entire legislation?

What we need to ask ourselves is: why are we prepared to allow religious institutions to behave in ways that are so unacceptable to the rest of the community that we have declared them unlawful?

The religious are entitled to their beliefs, of course. A secular state is not obliged to adapt its legal system to those beliefs, it is especially not required to do that when the adaptation is to behaviours that for the rest of the population are unlawful because they are deemed extremely harmful to others.

If an act is so undesirable that we have found it necessary to administer punishment to some of those who perform it, how can we say that same act is not undesirable because it is ameliorated by the balm of religious “belief?” And why on earth should we?

The REAL Gillard hypocrisy

11 Oct

In the brouhaha about sexism and misogyny, the passing of legislation to reduce single parent payments to the Newstart allowance when a child reaches the age of eight has gone comparatively unremarked.

The government will save some 700 million dollars through slashing up to one hundred dollars a fortnight off payments to about 150,00 single parents,the majority of whom are women.

With no evidence to support the theory, the government believes that forcing single parents into poverty and charity handouts will increase their ability to find work.

At the very least, one would expect that before taking this drastic action the government might have commissioned a study, an inquiry, a report, a something into what actually happens to people when you take away what little they already have. Off the top of my head I’d guess it makes them desperate. I’d guess it makes them depressed. Neither are states of mind conducive to taking charge of one’s life and neither are states of mind conducive to the best parenting.

Common sense would suggest that the way to get single parents off benefits and into the workforce is not to first reduce them and their children to crippling poverty.  The “we will make you and your children homeless and hungry and then you’ll get a job, won’t you” approach is punitive, classist and I believe sexist.

I have no idea what the ALP stands for anymore. I have no idea what kind of a feminist Julia Gillard is when she delivers passionate speeches about misogyny and sexism while at the same time making life so much more difficult for some of the most vulnerable women in society.

If ever we were to plead “Somebody think of the children!” then now would be the time. Because it will be the children of single parents who will suffer most as a consequence of the Gillard government’s cuts.

So Ms Gillard can make as many fancy speeches as she likes about misogyny and sexism, while she’s willing to condemn women and children to living on a Newstart allowance that almost nobody considers even remotely adequate, just to achieve a budget surplus, her words are little more than a noisy bell and a clanging cymbal, full of sound and fury and signifying nothing.

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