Tag Archives: Peter Slipper

Flexing my mussel

15 Oct

WARNING: this post contains images of shellfish and flowers that some readers may find confronting

I’m not at all disturbed by the disgraced Peter Slipper likening my lady bits to a shellfish, in one of many private text messages sent to his then new friend James Ashby.

For a start, as I have often said, one overlooks the insult (if indeed we confer on this text message the status of insult) on considering the source, and chooses not to waste one’s time and energy getting exercised about it.

Secondly, the comment is hardly original. Women’s genitals have been likened to fish of one kind or another many times before. Does anyone recall that scene in Bliss, the Peter Carey novel turned film, in which sardines cascade from Bettina Joy’s vagina? Yes. Well. Is it a boy thing?

For myself, I’m more inclined towards the Georgia O’Keeffe visual analogies such as this one:

But hey, whatever floats your fishing boat.

On the other hand, I find Opposition leader Tony Abbott’s comments on women profoundly disturbing. For example:

It would be folly to expect that women would ever approach equal representation in a large number of areas simply because their aptitudes, their abilities and interests are different for physiological reasons. 

Or:

The problem with the Australian practice of abortion is that an objectively grave matter has been reduced to a question of the mother’s convenience… Even those who think that abortion is a woman’s right should be troubled by the fact that 100,000 Australian women choose to destroy their unborn babies every year… When it comes to lobbying local politicians, there seems to be far more interest in the treatment of boat people, which is not morally black and white, than in the question of abortion, which is.

Why anyone would spend five minutes of their time worrying about how immature men describe female genitalia when we have an aspiring Prime Minister who thinks like this about women, is a mystery to me.

Then there is the semantic quarrel about the difference between sexism and misogyny. You don’t have to hate women to be sexist, apparently, but you do have to hate us to be a misogynist. Why do I not feel consoled by this distinction?

And let’s not forget hatred can take many forms. It does not have to be overt. It adapts itself readily to many guises. If I am treated as inferior because of my sex, as Mr Abbott suggests, am I to feel better about this if it is described to me as sexism rather than misogyny? Surely sexism is an expression of misogyny?

Tony Abbott has three daughters. He feels their virginity is their most  precious gift. He reduces his daughters to a hymen, a reduction I would argue denies them their full  humanity, as so many of Abbott’s statements about women deny us our full humanity.

What we need to ask is do we want a Prime Minister whose default position is to deny women our full humanity?

And why would he want to do this if he doesn’t hate us, however well that hatred may be disguised?

Coalition moral high horse is nothing but a braying donkey

22 Apr

Before Opposition Leader Tony Abbott and his braying band of born to rule big mouths get too comfortable up on their freshly saddled moral high horses, they might do well to consider this: Speaker of the House of Representatives Peter Slipper has a history. The LNP is aware that this history includes, according to this account, alleged sexual harassment and sexual behaviour that some of their number found unacceptable enough to complain about:

According to the court documents, the Howard government was aware of Mr Slipper’s sexual relationship with another young male adviser – and other allegations of sexual harassment – as early as 2003.

Megan Hobson, a former adviser to Mr Slipper, approached John Howard’s then senior adviser Tony Nutt after she – and two other women – had viewed a video featuring the Speaker and the young male adviser.

According to the court documents, the video included footage of Mr Slipper lying on a bed with the male adviser and hugging him in “an intimate fashion”.

After hearing her concerns about the video, Mr Nutt allegedly told Ms Hobson to “forget all about it”.

The Coalition has overnight moved from “forget all about it” to “he must step down these are serious allegations.”

While the staffers Slipper allegedly harassed are adults, the Howard government’s attitude reminds me of the church officials who, when informed of the sexual predilections of some of their priests, simply shuffled them around from parish to parish, rather than call them to account and deal with the damage done to children in their care.

Sexually harassing an adult in your employ is an abuse of power. It’s against the law. It can cause a great deal of distress, sometimes long-term, for the unwilling recipient. It’s not a situation anyone should have to deal with when they arrive at their workplace every day. What the Howard government did, and what the Coalition has continued to do ever since, is cover-up serious allegations made against Slipper because it was expedient for them to do so, in spite of these alleged actions being against the law.

It’s a given that sexual abuse of all kinds perpetrated on  both adults and children can only continue to the extent that it does with the collusion of others. Institutions look the other way, or actively cover up  and repress allegations. It’s a given that we aren’t going to make big inroads into sexually abusive behaviours until institutions cease to enable the alleged perpetrators by protecting them from scrutiny. This is everyone’s problem. Politicians need to be leaders in this. They need to take action and be seen to take action when allegations of this kind are made against one of their number.

The Coalition doesn’t have a leg to stand on in the Slipper scandal. The way the situation was initially handled by them is disgraceful. They covered up allegations of a crime. They told complainants to “forget all about it.”  They showed utter disregard for staffers who had allegedly suffered sexual harassment.

Sexual harassment in the workplace is sickening. No less sickening are those who hold positions of power that permit them to do something about it, and instead choose to cover it up for their own gains. Get off your moral high horse Mr Abbott. It’s really just a braying donkey.

Abbott Reacts to Slipper Defection – Downfall Parody

28 Nov

Bruno Ganz plays Hitler plays Tony Abbott in this brilliant behind-the-scenes take on the Slipper affair (and I’m not talking about the Cinderella story, though the day of Slipper’s ascension, Melinda Tankard Reist did get on Twitter claiming to have lost her shoe on her way from Circular Quay to somewhere. Make of that what you will.) This is the most accomplished example of Godwin’s Law I’ve seen thus far.

Meanwhile I continue to marvel at the farcical shenanigans of both major parties that have resulted in the best outcome  for asylum seekers we’ve had since before Tampa, against their thunderously expressed policies. Whether they arrive by boat or plane, asylum seekers are now to be treated the same, and released into the community while their claims are assessed. For two major parties dedicated to off-shore processing, you’ve certainly cocked that up! If there are any gods, they’ll be laughing their heads off at the stupidity of mortal pollies, because you outwitted yourselves, people, and the decent thing happened in spite of you all.

As someone noted on Twitter, it’s just as well Mr Rabbit failed to sell his arse, because then he’d have nothing to talk out of, and nowhere to put his head. My God, you have to love Twitter.

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