Tag Archives: Feminism

I don’t effing care if you call yourself a feminist or not.

8 Mar

Like Groundhog Day, International Women’s Day yet a fucking gain, finds itself hijacked and imprisoned in the eternally recurring culture war chatter, I won’t dignify it with the term debate, as to whether you call yourself a feminist or not.

I could not give a rat’s chlamydic arse if a woman calls herself a feminist or not. In fact the minute I get a whiff that the argument’s on I want to start flame throwing.

I don’t care about your personal philosophies on this day at this time. I don’t care if you are personally confused about whether or not to put on make-up in the morning. I so, so do not care if you have a luxurious bush or a full Brazilian. I do not care if you are sometimes a good feminist sometimes a bad one, whatever the fucking hell either of those things actually are. Fuck off with all the confessional shit just for today, and engage with a bigger picture, I’m begging you.

I have a dream. In my dream every woman with a public voice just for once refuses these speaking and writing engagements and instead throws her weight behind a National Day of Mourning on March 8, for the women world-wide, and particularly in Australia because this is our homeland where we can best have influence, who are murdered and abused by intimate partners, as well as the children who witness and suffer.

I have a dream that if women with a public voice do accept speaking and writing engagements on this, our one fucking day of the entire fucking year, they will agree to speak out all day long about domestic violence, government responsibilities, and the safety and protection of women and children, and nothing else.

I have a dream that we will march in the streets with banners and posters and candles on this day, protesting the deaths and injuries, emotional and physical, that so many of us across all demographics endure or have endured in the place where we are supposed to be safe, our homes.

I have a dream that we will unite to take on this Abbott government full frontal in its despicable cuts to frontline domestic violence services that will leave women in the most remote and already under-serviced areas with absolutely nowhere to go.

It is far more important, sisters, that we keep women alive and capable of adequately functioning than it is that we get more already privileged women on to fucking boards, or listed in Wikipedia, or winning fucking literary prizes. The only way we will do this at this point, is to get our lady arses out into the sodding streets, and if necessary, just like the women who got us the vote, chaining ourselves to the fucking railings until politicians give our dire, deathly situation priority.

Dear ladies, for 364 days of the fucking year you can write and speak all you want about your bush or your Brazilian, or your personal philosophy, or how women have to learn achieve within the same rotten, stinking, oppressive power structure as men without even questioning that fucking structure, otherwise they will be automatically forbidden entry to it, but for one day, for one fucking, fucking day, can we focus on the biggest, most life-threatening danger to women in this country, and how nothing has improved in family violence statistics since feminism’s second wave, over forty years ago.

And if we can’t, I’m going to poke everybody’s eyes out with fucking burnt sticks.

Listen to this Background Briefing report this morning on the effects of the Abbott government’s funding cuts to frontline domestic violence services. Then tell me your fucking pubic hair choices matter. Tell me after listening to this whether you call yourself a feminist or not matters jack shit in the scheme of things.

Sorry for all the language.

No, I’m fucking not.

I-am-a-feminist

 

 

Advice to women. Not.

14 Feb

createordie-neon

 

Were I ever to give advice to women which I wouldn’t because I continue to learn that the ways in which I can be stupid are infinitely more numerous than the ways in which I can be smart and to give advice to anyone it ought to be the other way around, but if, stupidly, I disregarded that little spark of self-knowledge and went ahead anyway, I would say, a woman in a family must resist the domination of the managerial if she wants her creativity to survive.

By the “managerial” I mean that aspect of ourselves so competent, so deft, so practical, so capable it could run a global corporation with one hand tied behind its back, and blindfolded. In my life as a partner and mother, and in the lives of many women I know, this aspect became so dominant it stole the oxygen from every other. This occurred as much because it suited everyone else that I manage the family’s daily affairs as it did because I thought I was supposed to.

Virginia Woolf grappled with  the problem the managerial can present to women, describing its pernicious influence as “The Angel in the House”  with irony and humour, but with deadly seriousness as well:

You who come of a younger and happier generation may not have heard of her — you may not know what I mean by the Angel in the House. I will describe her as shortly as I can. She was intensely sympathetic. She was immensely charming. She was utterly unselfish. She excelled in the difficult arts of family life. She sacrificed herself daily. If there was chicken, she took the leg; if there was a draught she sat in it — in short she was so constituted that she never had a mind or a wish of her own, but preferred to sympathize always with the minds and wishes of others…

I now record the one act for which I take some credit to myself… I turned upon her and caught her by the throat. I did my best to kill her. My excuse, if I were to be had up in a court of law, would be that I acted in self-defence. Had I not killed her she would have killed me. She would have plucked the heart out of my writing. For, as I found, directly I put pen to paper, you cannot review even a novel without having a mind of your own, without expressing what you think to be the truth about human relations, morality, sex. And all these questions, according to the Angel of the House, cannot be dealt with freely and openly by women; they must charm, they must conciliate, they must — to put it bluntly — tell lies if they are to succeed. Thus, whenever I felt the shadow of her wing or the radiance of her halo upon my page, I took up the inkpot and flung it at her. She died hard. Her fictitious nature was of great assistance to her. It is far harder to kill a phantom than a reality. She was always creeping back when I thought I had despatched her…

For me, it wasn’t entirely about reviewing male writers and depending on charm to get me by, although the spectre of disapproval, the fear of offending and as a consequence being despatched to the margins also has to be regularly fought off if I’m going to write what I truly want to write. My recent foray into erotica, for example, was a frightening experience of voluntary vulnerability, as is any self-revelation, but if we are to write about what it is to be human, that writing will always provoke anxiety in its author, and likely at times in its readers.

As unlike Woolf we had no household staff, for me the managerial was about knowing where everybody’s socks were, remembering the washing and the shopping and the cooking and the lunches and the driving and the.. look, I can’t even bear to go back there, you all know what I mean. I lost myself. I became The Manager, and worst of all, I found it almost impossible to turn her off in my head. I came to hate her. She was like the strangler fig parasitically stealing the life of the rainforest tree.

This suited everybody in the family, but it didn’t suit me.

One of the wisest pieces of advice any woman ever gave me was to cultivate absent-mindedness. For example, when people asked me where their socks were I would gaze thoughtfully at them for much longer than necessary. I would assume a puzzled expression and tug at my lip. Oh, darling, I would say finally, I know I saw them somewhere but I can’t think where…

I had to strictly discipline myself  in order to be able to do this. My every conditioned impulse urged me to take responsibility for everything in our household’s daily life, and this conditioning had to be constantly and consistently resisted. Family members do not easily relinquish their dependencies, and tend to passively and aggressively fight changes in a wife and mother with every bone in their bodies. I think it was harder than giving up smoking, and there were no quit lines to help me.

It took quite some time, but eventually I noticed they weren’t asking me to manage their entire lives for them quite as often as they used to. Then one morning I overheard one child saying to another, I’ll ask Mum. She won’t know, replied the other, she’ll just look at you as if she doesn’t know what you’re talking about, she never knows where anything is, we’ll have to find it ourselves.

And I knew I’d done it.

This proved to me that you can’t change anybody but yourself and if you do change yourself there is a good chance that  people who really love you will eventually learn put up with it, and change as well.

There are many advantages in being thought a muppet by your family. Muppets are not renowned for their managerial abilities, and nobody expects it of them.

Sometimes, it’s the only way the creative woman survives.

Many thanks for the inspiration for this post to the lovely M, who sends me a poem to wake up to every morning. The two words “managerial mess” in this poem by Jennifer Strauss, What Women Want  summed up an entire period of my life. 

 

Mansplaining domestic violence. The 2015 Award.

10 Feb

Mansplaining

 

It’s very early in the new year to be handing out awards for anything, however this piece by psychiatrist and White Ribbon ambassador Tanveer Ahmed on domestic violence earns the author the 2015 No Place for Sheep Order of Arrogant Ignorance for mansplaining violent domestic crimes against women and children perpetrated on them by the men in their lives.

Mansplaining, if you aren’t sure what it is, is defined in this timely piece in The Conversation by Monash academic Howard Manns.

I know. I know.

“Mansplain” has been declared the word of the year by the Macquarie Dictionary:

verb (t) Colloquial (humorous) (of a man) to explain (something) to a woman, in a way that is patronising because it assumes that a woman will be ignorant of the subject matter. MAN + (EX)PLAIN with s inserted to create a pronunciation link with explain.

Admittedly, Dr Ahmed was explaining his theories on domestic violence to everyone who reads the Australian and that’s not just women, nevertheless, in this writer’s opinion, he is still deserving of the Order.

Owing to the Murdoch press paywall which is sometimes by-passable and sometimes not, I’ve copied Dr Ahmed’s piece and you can read it at the end of this post.

Basically, Ahmed is claiming that “male disempowerment” caused by 1970’s radical feminism has led to a power inequality between the genders. One way some men address this imbalance is by beating the women and children in their lives, sometimes to death, or murdering them by other means.

In reaction to this male violence against them, women have formed a “cult of victimhood” that has so skewed society’s perceptions of male behaviour that beating women and children in acts of intimate violence and sometimes murdering them has led to a “psycho-prejudice…in which what men and boys do is seen as socially disruptive.”

If men and boys beat and murder anyone outside their families it is certainly seen as “socially disruptive.” Think king hits.

But that’s not all: “The growing social and economic disempowerment of men is increasingly the driver of family-based violence…[working class male work] has become “feminised.”

In other words, domestic violence occurs entirely in the working classes, “newly arrived ethnic groups,” and fatherless sons of single mothers are apparently particularly prone, says Ahmed.

This is drivel deserving of a hundred Orders of Arrogant Ignorance. It is well-estabished that domestic violence occurs in every demographic, and I can personally attest to that, the perpetrator in my family of origin being, like Ahmed, a doctor, and not at all economically disempowered, or disempowered in any other way either.

While it is true that there are male victims of domestic violence and they shouldn’t be neglected, drivel such as this is of no help to them or anybody else.

It’s also true that a particular view of gender relations can at times be less than helpful. However, domestic violence and murder are crimes, and those who perpetrate the crimes are criminals. Gender relations do not a beater and a murderer make, and men like Ahmed need to grasp that.

With mansplainers like White Ribbon Ambassador Ahmed as our “friend,” who needs enemies?

 

Men forgotten in violence debate

TANVEER AHMED

THE AUSTRALIAN FEBRUARY 09, 2015 12:00am

THERE is too little acknowledgment of the importance of male disempowerment in debates surrounding domestic violence. Gender relations have changed dramatically in the past few decades, but discussions about family violence are stuck in the mindset of 1970s radical feminism.

This emphasises power inequality in gender interactions and on perceived societal mess­ages that sanction a male’s use of violence and aggression. The focus is on male villainy, denial of biologically based sex differences and a cult of victimhood. This is part of a broader movement that defines normal maleness as a ­risible kind of fatuous and reactionary behaviour. As US anthropologist and masculinity expert Lionel Tiger, who coined the term “male bonding”, says: “We have a psycho-prejudice, in which the norm is the female norm and what boys (and men) do is seen as ­socially disruptive.”

The Prime Minister’s move to acknowledge the Australian of the Year award to Rosie Batty and community outpouring on domestic violence through a COAG committee is worthy, but it risks becoming dominated by ­radical feminists and a worldview around the powerlessness of women.

Just as women are now more likely than ever to enter university, be breadwinners and have affairs, they are also more likely to commit family violence against partners, children or relatives. But the anti-feminists who focus on female perpetrators of family violence, such as Michael Woods from male advocacy group Men’s Health Australia, forget the growing social and economic disempowerment of men is increasingly the driver of family based violence. Woods is a strong critic of what he says is a domestic violence industry and diluted measures of what constitutes violence.

The focus on female disempowerment alone will not achieve an improved existence, since they are often surrounded by disempowered men. Men for whom the security of unionised labour in the manufacturing industries is becoming a distant memory are experiencing a huge displacement from modern economic trends. It’s been replaced by casualised, service-oriented work with relatively low wages. In essence, their work has been feminised.

British social researcher Paul Thomas questioned British youths of different backgrounds for a study in 2010. He found white, working-class men feel they are the real outsiders and disenfranchised from opportunity.

Likewise, family violence within newly arrived ethnic groups is often related to the sudden dilution of traditional masculinity, leaving men lost and isolated, particularly as females enjoy greater autonomy and expectations. This is primarily positive, but a greater acknowledgment of the huge displacement such men endure from the cleavage of the institutions of family, clan and tradition in less than a generation may help alleviate their sense of humiliation.

Despite the cries of domestic violence being an epidemic, we should also consider that fatherlessness could fit such a category, with 40 per cent of Australian teenagers living without their biological fathers. It was Margaret Mead who said fatherhood was essentially a social invention. But as the Left increasingly dilutes the notion of biological differences in sex, amusingly illustrated by Greens senator Larissa Waters imploring parents not to buy gender-specific toys for Christmas, we are downplaying the notion that fathers are even desirable.

Statistics don’t lie. It is true one woman a week dies at the hands of a partner, current or former. As part of a broadbased strategy, it is critical that improving arrest and prosecution rates, establishing shelters and abuse hotlines, pushing for state provisions against stalking, and creating protections for immigrants all have the goal of getting victims out of abusive ­relationships.

But the broader movement that has long fought against violence towards women remains stuck in a view of gender relations from decades past, which will limit its effectiveness in stemming the problem in an inclusive way.

Tanveer Ahmed is a psychiatrist and White Ribbon Day ambassador.

 

How to use women to get you out of the deep excrement other women got you into.

6 Feb

Good woman:bad woman

 

Deconstructing a Paul Sheehan piece can be like shoving bamboo splinters under your toenails and watching them bleed. Fortunately I have pain killers.

Sheehan has, remarkably even for him, reduced the entire Abbott government leadership crisis into that good old patriarchal standby, the good woman/bad woman trope.

In yesterday’s Sydney Morning Herald Sheehan makes this claim: Tony Abbott’s new order: An invisible Peta Credlin and a visible Margie Abbott is the new template. Better late than never.

The new template? Template for what? The template for how, when all else fails, to use women to get you out of the trouble you think other women have got you into?

Margie Abbott is apparently at one with Sheehan on this strategy, calling for LNP “wives and partners” to get behind her man, a move Robyn Oyeniyi analyses succinctly in her piece on the topic.

Does Sheehan actually believe voters are so gullible as to be swayed by Tony Abbott wheeling out his wife in his time of sorrow, while tucking away controversial Chief of Staff Peta Credlin in a cupboard, presumably till things get back to normal for him, at which time he’ll pop Margie away again and let Peta out, because he can’t do without her?

Reading between Sheehan’s lines, which are so far apart you have to be careful not to fall into the abyss between them,  he’s claiming something as simplistic as Peta Credlin got Abbott into this, and now Margie will get him out.

In an extraordinary own goal of unintended irony, Sheehan writes:

Mrs Abbott has never sought publicity but at the height of then prime minister Julia Gillard’s “misogyny” diversionary campaign in 2012 (amid several scandals) she famously intervened in defence of her husband:  “Do you want to know how God turns a man into a feminist? He gives him three daughters … I believe a disservice is being done to women when the gender card is played to shut down debate about policy.”

Presumably, Sheehan and Mrs Abbott think they aren’t “playing the gender card to shut down debate about policy.” Really? Because it seems to me that’s exactly what they are doing.

In a desperate attempt to avoid the substantive issue, which is that some Abbott government policies have profoundly offended so many Australians the Prime Minister has been haemorrhaging political capital practically since the day he took office, Sheehan looks to a change of the woman behind the man to obscure this harsh reality, and save the government’s sorry bum.

Then there’s Mrs Abbott’s remark that God turns a man into a feminist by giving him daughters. And they say we should have god in schools. This is what happens when you let god in schools. Women grow up thinking we’re vessels for god to give men daughters to make them feminist. I can’t even….

Next we have this from Sheehan:

She has since endured attacks on one of their daughters over a college scholarship, with information accessed illegally and leaked to the media to embarrass the Abbott family.

No, Paulie, the Australian people had the right to know that while the Abbott government was intent on making higher degrees excruciatingly expensive for everyone else, the Prime Minister’s daughter was awarded a once-off scholarship to see her through her tertiary education. If this knowledge becoming public embarrassed the Abbott family, so it should. Though I doubt it did. Annoyed them, maybe, but embarrassed them? I doubt it.

The reason some men love the good woman/bad woman trope so dearly is because it removes all responsibility and accountability from the man. He is helpless as a babe in the face of the influence of a good or bad woman. Sheehan is an unreconstructed idiot, peddling this ignorant, venomous trash. It no more serves a woman to be put on a pedestal than it does to be despatched to the gutter. One can make allowances for Euripides, given his times, but Sheehan has no excuses.

The Credlin thing.

29 Jan

Credlin & Abbott Two

 

I don’t get all this Murdoch-inspired hoo haa about Peta Credlin, the Prime Minister’s embattled Chief of Staff.

Ms Credlin has been in the spotlight ever since her boss was Opposition Leader.

Remember how her IVF journey was so thoroughly manipulated as to become “evidence” for Abbott’s “compassion” for women?  Ms Credlin gave generous media interviews about this most personal of experiences, and never once mentioned her partner in the journey, her husband, Brian Loughnane. Instead, it was entirely about how her boss was helping her by keeping her eggs in his fridge. I can’t think of any other situation that compares, in which a Chief of Staff so publicly reveals her or his private life for the sole purpose of  helping her or his boss win an election.

It was Abbott’s apparent unpopularity with women voters that provoked the Credlin IVF pieces. It was intended to portray him as a softie with the ladies, as was hauling out his three daughters who giggled on cue about their lovely churchy dad.

I may have a limited imagination, but I find it hard to visualise a male chief of staff being so forthcoming as was Credlin  about his personal life, in order to make his boss more popular with the voters.

It therefore makes a kind of bizarre sense that when things go as badly wrong as they have for Abbott, ridding himself of Credlin is seen as the first move that might lead to some kind of improvement. It won’t, of course, because the man is beyond all help, but they have to try something as they aren’t ready to replace him. Yet. May they continue not to be. He is the ALP’s best asset.

As far as Ms Credlin is concerned, the situation sucks. She obviously isn’t responsible for the numerous outstandingly appalling decisions the Abbott government has attempted to inflict on an electorate that trusted them to behave in entirely different ways. It is, of course, impossible to know what her input has been into these decisions, nevertheless, Abbott has taken them, and being above Ms Credlin in the chain of command, is entirely responsible for them. With great power cometh great responsibility.

There was a period in which Ms Credlin and Mr Abbott were photographed so frequently together on occasions when one would have expected Mrs Abbott to be at her husband’s side rather than his Chief of Staff, that prurient speculation as to the nature of their relationship was rife. It has today been suggested that Mr Abbott is “psychologically dependent” on Ms Credlin. (That link may be paywalled, but it may not. I did my best). Psychological dependency on another person can be a problem, especially for a political leader. It can cloud his or her judgement, and lead him or her to become deafened to other points of view.

We cannot, of course, escape the gender issue in this latest government drama. Is Ms Credlin easier to scapegoat because she’s a woman? It was her gender that was exploited in Abbott’s election campaign, and nobody much complained about it then, least of all Ms Credlin. Female gender was exploited to gain Abbott votes. Female gender will be exploited again if it is considered to be a factor in losing Abbott votes.

When a man is an idiot, blaming the woman behind and beside him is a common default position. There is in our culture a pervasive belief that women are responsible for controlling men in almost every situation one can think of, and this belief could well be at work in the Credlin situation. Of course, we women aren’t and can’t be responsible for what men do, and the sooner we all divest ourselves of that mythology the better.

I have suddenly remembered footage of Wendi Deng hurling herself in front of her then husband Rupert Murdoch at the News of the World hacking hearings, when somebody attempted to assault him with a cream pie. Sometimes we ladies are our own worst enemies.

 

 

 

 

 

Dear you. Cat fight. Whatever.

12 Jan

This post belongs in the page Infidelity, and the category Adultery.

Gustave Klimt Girlfriends

Gustave Klimt. Girlfriends

 

In the first conversation we ever had you said to me, “Perhaps (insert name) is not the right man for you.”

I had, at that point, absolutely no idea what you meant. (Insert name) is your husband. Why would you suggest to me that your husband isn’t the “right man” for me?

I echoed: “(Insert name) isn’t the right man for me? I don’t know what you mean. I had a relationship with him. I don’t want another. I only want to talk to him.”

I had no desire to continue my relationship with (insert name) after you’d caught him at it, and the only thing that interested me was having a civil conversation with him during the course of which we would bid each other a civil farewell. I have this tedious and apparently unrealisable thing. I think it’s important that people who love each other take civil leave of one another when circumstances make the ongoing expression of their love untenable. I’d prefer whenever possible to leave with good will, rather than disordered and excruciating emotional anguish. Admittedly I have absolutely no experience of this kind of leaving, so I could well be an idiot for imagining a decent farewell possible under such circumstances.

I suppose it’s something like people talking about having a good death. Sadly, a having a good death seems to have become a test of moral character.  I don’t know what a good death can possibly be, unless it’s like a good farewell, done with gratitude for the life lived, sorrowful acceptance of its ending, and the courage to face the pain of farewell.

Whatever. You and I appear to have reached a painful impasse. (Insert name) could be dead for all I know, the energy of the drama has shifted entirely to you and me, fulfilling the what now appear to be prophetic dreams I had at the beginning of the relationship between (insert name) and myself. In this oft-repeated dream you and I were intensely engaged, a good deal more amicably than we are at present, while (insert name) remained a shadowy figure huddled under blankets, entirely disengaged from both of us. I could make no sense of this dream at the time, though I recognised it as significant, as are all repeated dreams.

I marvel, I absolutely marvel, at the inaccessible knowledge contained in the unconscious, and again I claim that we are as icebergs,  one tenth of us above the surface while the other nine-tenths lies below, determining our lives in a manner entirely unknown and inaccessible to us until it’s far too late.

We have a great deal in common, as you’ve pointed out. We both play the piano. We have both had to deal with adulterous husbands. We both lost our beloved dogs in the same damn week. We both love the same man. We have both been horrendously damaged by the duplicity of this man, you more than me, I admit.  And yet, in spite of these commonalities, I would like to shout at you until I can shout no more, and I strongly suspect you are of a similar mind.

I am interested in what happens between two women when they both form attachments to the same man, and he to them. In this instance the man has turned out to be something of an emotional clod, and entirely undeserving of both of us. So why, when our rage and distress ought to be squarely aimed at him, are we firing our most serious bullets at one another?

I think we are conditioned from birth to behave in these ways, to see one another as rivals even for the attentions of a clod, as long as the clod is male. I hate this. I had no idea it existed within me. If anyone had told me I would one day be entrapped in a cat fight such as this has turned out to be, I would never have believed them. You have aggravated me beyond reason, and I, apparently, you. Women torn asunder by a man. We are living in a cliché. Somebody help us.

Gavin King, LNP MP, blames women for being raped.

3 Jan

Just look what this clod Gavin King, Queensland Liberal member for Cairns and Assistant Tourism Minister thinks:

 

 

The unexamined and ignorant assumptions of some male LNP MPs, state and federal, on the matter of violence against women is beyond belief. They are led by the example set by our Minister for Women and Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who believes the best thing he’s done for us all year is scrap the carbon tax without uttering a word that addresses or even acknowledges  the epidemic proportions of domestic violence perpetrated against us. The LNP at all levels of government continues to excel itself in its arrogant, entitled, privileged and Neanderthal assumptions about who is responsible for violence against women. Without fail, without fail, they consistently manage to come up with some way of blaming us for violent acts perpetrated upon us.

I am absolutely fucking fed up with women being held responsible for violence we suffer, whether its because we’re “irresistible” or drunk, or whatever excuse some arsehat comes up with to justify his own lack of human decency and perverted thought processes.

There is no excuse, there is no fucking excuse for any man to hold onto the belief that in some way, any way, a woman is partly to blame for violent acts inflicted upon her by a man.

Holy feckin mother of god when will it bloody end?

 

CONTACT GAVIN KING HERE

Abbott on inequality

 

 

 

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