Tag Archives: Women

A government of barbaric inconsistency

5 Mar

Only weeks after announcing cuts to frontline services that assist women and children escaping domestic violence, Prime Minister Tony Abbott today announced the government will spend $30 million on a domestic violence “awareness campaign.”

While public education on the matter of domestic violence can never go astray, funding such education while simultaneously removing frontline safety nets for women and children experiencing violence in real-time is an act of unconscionable duplicity, and barbaric inconsistency.

One woman each week is slaughtered by an intimate partner during episodes of domestic violence. One woman is hospitalised every three hours with injuries due to domestic violence. KPMG reports domestic violence cost Australia 14.7 billion last year, some 1.5 billion more than in 2012.

Minister for Women Abbott has slashed funding to front line services such as legal aid, and refuges to which women and children in fear of their lives can flee. Offering a sop of $30 million for education while leaving women and children unprotected and with nowhere to turn, is political expediency of staggering proportions.

I do not recall money being offered for “awareness campaigns” on the matter of young men subjected to king hits. I recall an absolute outcry from all levels of politics, and proposals for immediate legislative changes.

I do not recall any politician, state or federal, ever holding a prayer vigil for women and children slaughtered in their homes by an intimate partner, though there was no shortage of them at the vigil held this morning for Chan and Sukumaran, the Australians sentenced to death for drug smuggling in Indonesia.

Let’s not forget Abbott’s reputation for punching the wall beside a woman’s head, and his reference to a woman as a “chair thing.”

In fact, if you want to refresh your memory about the many disparaging things the Minister for Women has said about women here you go

This man doesn’t care about women. No man who cared about women would remove services that helped them escape violence, injury and death. Any man who cared about women would move heaven and earth to ensure essential services are in place.

No man who cared about women and children would financially prioritise an “awareness campaign” before actually saving lives.

The Minister for Women is a dangerous and opportunistic fraud. He has blood on his hands, the blood of women and children who now have nowhere to go to escape violent homes. How many more will he allow to die before he reinstates front-line funding?

Or does he think he can get away with a band-aid?

domestic_violence

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

Treachery

2 Dec

Posted in the Categories Infidelity and Adultery.  Some details have been omitted from these stories and some have been changed, for privacy reasons.

 

Storm Cloud. Georgia O'Keeffe

 

For months she has been waking every morning into fear. It takes some moments of confusion, rapid heartbeat and cold sweat before she’s orientated and can place herself in her own bed, white covers strewn with colourful cushions, next to the window through which she can see spilling dark pink bougainvillea and the kookaburra who lately has taken to sitting on a post staring at her for long periods at intervals throughout the day. The kookaburra’s stare is curious and indifferent, if the bird is a spirit guide, as one of her imaginative friends has suggested, it isn’t offering much advice. Nevertheless, she welcomes it.

She remembers the dream she’s just woken from in which she was, along with another woman unknown to her, held against her will by two men and required to sexually gratify them. The dream took place at the beginning of their captivity and the men were implacable but not yet physically violent. She knows this thing will escalate from the relatively simple to the incomprehensible, and she can see no way of escaping.

She thinks of the man who used to be her lover. Her fear increases. She takes the fear apart bit by bit. It is largely retrospective. She’s aghast that she let him into her life, a man capable of the emotional destruction of two women who loved him without understanding or caring to understand what he was doing. Realising both the extent of her lack of judgement and the total failure of her instinct for self-preservation makes her fear for her well-being. For months now she’s been trembling inside. The strong core of her is a fading memory.

She hasn’t known anyone in her adult life who so self-interestedly co-opted love as a means to an end. On an emotional, mental and spiritual level, it’s frightening and she wants a cleansing ritual that will rid her of the aftermath of his ambiguous presence in her mind, heart and body.

 

 We are perfectly matched, he writes, sexually, sensually, intellectually, and as she reads this she wonders if his wife was in the house when he was writing it, maybe even in the room, and what that means. Who is he that he can comprehensively deny the woman he’s shared his life with, had children with, been supported by in all his ventures, and she decides again that she will not join her future with his when he is capable of such violation of trust. How can she care about him, love him even, what is wrong with her that she is in thrall to a man she knows to be deeply treacherous?

She also knows she is complicit in his treachery. She’s said as much several times and he’s said, no, no this is my problem, my choice, my guilt not yours love, but she knows it isn’t that simple. She feels her allegiance shift from him to the unknown woman whose life he’s in the process of comprehensively wrecking. You should not be deceiving your wife like this, she tells him, you must tell her. No, he says, it will destroy her. Your wife has the right to know her life with you is drastically changing, she tells him. Don’t you think she’s noticed?

I can’t hurt her, he says. You are hurting her, she tells him, and hiding the truth from her is hurt on top of hurt, she has a right to know these things, she has a right to make informed choices about what she wants to do, now you are moving away from her. Don’t you realise the implications of what you’ve said and done?

He doesn’t answer.

You’ve no right to deny her the truth, she persists. You’re treating her like a child, as if she isn’t capable of knowing the truth of her life with you. You aren’t lying entirely for her sake. You’re lying for yours as well.

It will destroy my whole family if she knows, he insists, I’ll lose everything. You don’t want me to lose everything do you? You said you didn’t.

Still she stays with him, party to his betrayal and appalling self-interest, the deceived wife pushed once again into the background. Nothing good can come of this, she thinks. Nothing.

In the hotel they stand naked together and he turns her in the direction of the full-length mirror. Look, he says, there’s Us. They stand holding hands, staring at the couple in the mirror. As they watch, he moves his free hand across them to fondle her nipple. He is much taller than her. He has to lean down to kiss her mouth. She has to stand on tip-toes, he has to bend his knees so their genitals can meet. Look, he says, my cock is kissing her.

I hope you never use your love for me to justify your betrayal of your wife, she tells him later. I wouldn’t do it for anyone but you, he replies again. She wonders how that makes it any better. Is he using flattery to blame her, the irresistible woman meme again? The alleged irresistibility of women is always found to be punishable by some men and their consorts. The fault lies not with the hapless man who falls under its spell, but with the woman who should have subdued herself and so not tempted him. Even if tempting him was never her intention, she should have known there is always the possibility and subdued herself anyway. The magical powers attributed to women are the inverse to the power they actually wield in the world. This is no coincidence, she thinks.

She remembers with a bark of grim mirth that her name, a derivative of Guinevere, means “White Enchantress.”

Women are responsible for what men do about their desires. Women are responsible for arousing those desires in the first place. If I were that powerful, she tells him, if I was that irresistible, you would be here with me now and there would be no more lies.

If only you weren’t so perfect in every way, he groans. I’m not, she says, alarmed. Yes you are, for me, he says.

 

He has, he tells her, complacently she thinks, always been wrapped in cotton wool. As he’s been raised by women and then coupled young, it’s evident that it is women who have always wrapped him in cotton wool. Once he said to her, this argument that it’s bad for a male child to be raised by two women is nonsense. It didn’t do me any harm. She doesn’t point out the flaw in his argument: that it depends on the nature and relationship of the two women just as it depends on the nature and relationship of the heterosexual couple. It isn’t a question of gender. I would never wrap you in cotton wool, she warns him, I only do that for babies and little children, not grown ups.

It is not in her to expect that an adult will wrap her in cotton wool or vice versa. There is a dark side to coddling, a lack of autonomy, of privacy, of independence and he complains of all of these, yet doesn’t seem to see any correlation between the cotton wool and his sense of personal deprivation. He has to ask his wife for money, he tells her one day when he’s taking her to lunch. She thinks of the implications of a man asking his wife for money to take his mistress to lunch. His wife gives him fifty dollars and says this will be enough won’t it? As he goes to pay the bill he takes the money out of his wallet and flourishes it at her, grinning. It’s his wife he’s mocking, an adolescent defiance. He’s trying to make an allegiance with her against his wife, as if there aren’t already enough.

She thinks that if she’d heard the same descriptions of domestic life from a woman she’d think of abuse, controlling behaviours, intrusion.

Once when she’s been annoyed with him and questioned his intentions and actions he tells her she has damaged his self-worth, and she’s astonished at this reaction. He can’t be asked to account for himself without his self-worth suffering? No one in my life has ever spoken to me like that, he tells her and unrepentant she retorts, well they probably should have.

 

The first emotion she ever felt for him was compassion. He was suffering, he was stoic in his ordeal, and she greatly admired that in him. It stirred in her a strong wish to offer him friendly comfort.

Before that she liked him. She liked the way he thought. She liked the way he wrote. She liked the easy friendship they had. She thought him patronising in a way she’d encountered before in men who acknowledged her as an intelligent woman, but never quite as intelligent as them. She thought the need of such men to presume superiority showed the limits of their intelligence and imagination. She knows she’s been spoiled. Her husband, from whom she learned how to best use her gifts, proudly conceded that she’d excelled him. This does not happen so often between women and men, she’s observed. She doesn’t expect it. A woman learns to choose her battles.

She met him in person because of the compassion. Without that, they would never have met. They would have remained friends who wrote to each other and nothing else. She was open to him in a way she wasn’t usually open to strangers, but she didn’t desire him. She wasn’t looking for love or sex. She didn’t flirt with him. She was deeply tired.

It was a difficult time in her life. For months she had been at her dying husband’s bedside. Because of his need she lived those months in a compassionate state, and it was stronger in her than anything else. It’s an extraordinary state in which to live. She doesn’t know how she found her way into it. It’s a somatic as well as a feeling state. She felt it throughout her body every time she thought of her husband, as a warm intensity concentrated in the energy channels through which her life force moved. It flooded her as she sat with him. She couldn’t heal him, of course she couldn’t. But she could give him this profound attention with her mind and her heart and her body, and sometimes calm him. She did this every day for hours, for months. She did it when she fed him like an infant, and wiped his mouth, and washed his hands and told him stories about their life, when she said that she loved him and stroked his forehead, when she sat silent by his bed as he slept. Strangely, it didn’t exhaust her. Other things in the situation exhausted her, but the compassion never did. It was an altered state, and she was still in it when she met her lover.

Looking back, she wonders if it was this careful intensity of attention she gave to her husband that her lover found so attractive. He knew what she was doing, even though they hadn’t yet met. When they did meet he told her what she’d done was above and beyond the call of duty, a comment she found strange and out-of-place. He didn’t know her or the situation well enough to come to such a conclusion, and she shrugged her shoulders and said, I love him. We do that for people we love. Don’t we? Then he held out his hand for hers with such assurance, as if he knew without doubt that she would give him what he wanted. And she did.

 

 She learned from her grandmother to worry first about men then about herself. Women took on that responsibility. While you put men first, you also spoke disparagingly of them when they weren’t around. Even though they could hurt you they were useless and weak, and you had to do everything for them. That’s what women are supposed to do, she learned from the time she began to understand things. It took an entire two decades of feminism to set her straight. However, early lessons are not so easily unlearned.

Two women raised him, and now he has two women loving and nurturing him again. She is again putting a man’s needs before her own in a situation that can only deeply damage her, and calling it love. She is familiar with Freud’s theory of repetition compulsion, although she imagines it as one part of their situation, not the whole. There are so many lenses through which to view their situation, and each at times seems to be the one, though the desire for an overarching explanation is nothing more than a childish need for shallow reassurance, while drowning in the depths of oceanic complexity.

You have to stop this with me and sort out what’s wrong with your marriage, she tells him. There’s nothing wrong with my marriage, he protests. She laughs. OK. That’s why you’re telling me how perfectly matched we are and constructing this daily life with me, because your marriage satisfies you. That’s why you can’t think of anyone but me, and won’t engage in your family life anymore, because your marriage is so satisfactory. That’s why you’re lying to your wife on this massive scale, because there’s nothing wrong with your marriage. Really? she says. Really?

Later she understands that he has constructed a fantasy about his marriage that rivals even the fantasy he has constructed about her. Both women have allowed him these fantasies. Both women worry about the realities and leave him wrapped in cotton wool. He tells her that when he is anxious only her voice can soothe him, or her written loving words. She doesn’t always give them and then his anxiety escalates into panic. She sees these psychic attacks as reality smashing its way through the fortress of his fantasies, while he struggles desperately to prevent its emergence.

I love you, he tells her. I will love you until I die.

 

Life as a woman 3: Norrie

26 Nov

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Norrie began life as a male, had surgery to remove his penis and hormone treatment, then tried living life as a woman.

But she found she wasn’t accepted as female by men or women. She became increasingly uncertain of her gender identity. She stopped the hormone treatments. When hooligans jeered at her for being a trannie, she responded “Well spotted!”

Norrie began investigating alternatives and concluded that she didn’t want an assigned gender, she wanted to escape the male-female binary and have a non-specific gender designation. She then launched legal action to have this option included on basic documents such as passports and birth certificates, as well as the usual male and female categories.

After years of struggle and disappointment, in May last year the High Court decided that a non-specific gender designation on passports and other basic documents is legal, and Norrie’s battle was won.

The ramifications of this decision are enormous, not only for people in Norrie’s situation as adults, but for babies born with a non specific gender. The conventional response to these children is for parents and doctors to decide as quickly as possible if they are to be designated male or female, then to surgical and chemically embed them in the chosen gender. Now such children can be legally registered with a non specific  gender designation, giving parents time to consider the best option for their child.

Norrie has smashed the constricting male-female binary, and brought legal acknowledgement of difference for gender diverse and intersex people. Norrie rejected life as a man and life as a woman, and chose life without orthodox binary gender performance.

People will stare

Life as a woman

24 Nov

Time-Magazine-Transgender-Tipping-Point-Laverne-Cox

I have a close relative whose long-term partner decided in his fifties that he wanted to live as a woman. The manner in which he went about orchestrating this change caused immense shock and distress, mostly because he upped and went to Thailand and had the surgery without telling anyone, then rang his partner from that country to tell her what he’d done.

Of course she knew his desires, and was struggling to adapt herself to having chosen to live with a man who now wanted to change his sex to female. She didn’t, she said, want to be with a woman, she’d been there, done that and for her, choosing to spend her life with a man was an enormous change. And now look.

I, unhelpfully I see in retrospect, recalled her time as a radical feminist separatist who told me as I continued to give birth to boy babies that all men should be castrated. So when I heard what had happened I said, well. Be careful what you ask for.

When her partner came back from Thailand she ran away and came to stay with me and my husband for a while. None of us had ever before encountered such a situation, but we all knew about deceit, and dissembling, and secrets, and lies, so we could help her with that part.

For mine, I have no difficulties with what people decide to do with their bodies and if someone feels deeply wrong in the skin they’re in of course they have the right to do whatever they need to do about that. I’m talking here about gender reassignment, not women having the human right to breast implants and labiaplasty to make them look like air brushed porn stars as an exercise of feminist autonomy over their bodies. Separate issues. I do wonder, though, how someone who has been born male and lived male for over fifty years in our society, can suddenly know what life is like as a woman.

In this instance, and I’m not going to extrapolate our experience to anyone else, Felicity looks like a man who has had gender reassignment, and so is often treated even worse in this heterosexually dominant culture than are many “natural”-born women.

Now I have an ear worm of Carole King singing you make me feel like a natural woman, whatever the hell that meant, it was an anthem to some bloke though, and I suppose a validation of hetero sex because I haven’t heard any woman singing that to a female lover though it would be a delightful subversion if someone did, but I still wouldn’t know what the “natural” bit meant.

Felicity and I have had some ripper brawls over this life as a woman thing. I’ve told her straight up, you aren’t living life as a woman, you’re living life as a man who’s had gender reassignment surgery. The difficulties you’re  encountering since your surgery aren’t to do with the kind of gender prejudice I’ve had to deal with my entire life, they’re to do with people being unable to cope with gender reassignment. She’s called me a fucking cunt more times than I could ever count. It took me a long time to realise I was angry with her for trying to claim my experience of living on this earth as a woman for herself, when she hasn’t done the hard yards. She is doing hard yards, but they are of a different kind and I want her to own her difficulties, which are significant, and not pinch mine. Whenever we see one another we visibly bristle, and it’s on. And yet I think so much of her for what she’s done, the subversion, the courage, the determination to live as she wants to live.

I should add here that I agree with Judith Butler, gender is a performance of the roles assigned to us at birth, according to our genitals. A performance that is profoundly ingrained.

No matter how much Julie Bishop might want to protest otherwise, life as a woman in this culture still brings with it enormous inherent challenges, for no reason other than our habitation of a female body. It does the same for indigenous people, for no reason other than skin colour.  It does the same for gays and lesbians and polyamorists. This is still the universe of the white heterosexual alpha male, and the males who aspire to that status, and the rest of us are still knocking on its doors begging to be allowed in and equally paid, and not murdered because we have vaginas, and the rest. And, if possible, to be let in on some of our own terms without having to entirely capitulate to the orthodoxy, as I would strongly argue Julie Bishop has. In my life as a woman I don’t want to play the alpha bloke’s games. Which is why I’m a blogger in my nightgown and not Janet Albrechtsen. Ha!

Male violence against women. Call it what it is.

20 Nov

This piece in Daily Life yesterday by Jane Gilmore raises some important questions about how we talk about male violence against women.

One of the most startling revelations is the difficulty and the expense of discovering, in Victoria at least, the gender of the majority of perpetrators of violence. While information about the victims of such violence is publicly released, information about the offenders is not, and Gilmore had to pay $700 and wait nine weeks to obtain this information. What Gilmore eventually discovered about the Victorian statistics is this:

In 2013/14

* 87% of homicides were committed by men.
* 98% of sexual assaults were committed by men.
* 83% of non-sexual assaults were committed by men.
* 90% of robberies were committed by men.
* 92% of abductions were committed by men.

I strongly recommend you read the article for a more comprehensive view of these figures.

I don’t want to start a gender war. But these statistics are irrefutable. I can understand that many men, especially those who are not violent towards women and don’t engage in criminal acts, might feel unfairly attacked and defensive when women raise our voices in protest against male violence. However, I would urge you not to waste your energy feeling unfairly attacked (you aren’t nearly as unfairly attacked as we are) and defensive. Most women don’t think all men are violent. But there’s no escaping the reality that most of the violence in our society that comes to the attention of the authorities is perpetrated by men.

If you can get outraged by the king hit and rush in laws overnight to increase penalties for the very few instances of that particular type of male violence, how do you explain the ongoing refusal to be equally and more outraged by the fact that sixty-eight women have been killed in Australia this year, by men? (from Destroy the Joint’s Counting Dead Women project.)

We have a Minister for Women, though you’d never know it. He’s about as useful as the non-existent Science Minister. His name is Tony Abbott. Tell him you want to hear what he intends to do about all the women dead this year and those yet to die, at the hands of violent men.

DV1

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