The f word, the virgin birth and the sword of Damocles

24 Jan

I love feminism in the way I love some of the insights and opinions attributed to Jesus. I love it in a bell hooks kind of way:

Visionary feminism is a wise and loving politics. It is rooted in the love of male and female being, refusing to privilege one over the other. The soul of feminist politics is the commitment to ending patriarchal domination of women and men, girls and boys.

So it was with increasing outrage that I watched the story of Melinda Tankard Reist’s legal threats against me hijacked by one high-profile feminist after another in an unedifying brawl about who can and can’t be called a feminist. Debates about feminism: yes. Debates about who is allowed to be called a feminist: why?

One of feminism’s struggles has been about giving women a voice. So it was initially with amusement and later indignation that I saw two of Australia’s most public feminists, Eva Cox and Anne Summers, describe me in their articles as a blogger  being threatened by Tankard Reist. Not even a female blogger, thank you very much, and Cox says I’m a nit picker to boot. She doesn’t name me, but she says I’m nit-picking. Any man who did that to a woman writer would be flayed.

I objected loudly to this, not as some might have it because I’m especially egotistical, though I could well be, but because this denial of my voice seems to me to exemplify a steady watering down of feminist principles, and perhaps, according to hooks’ analysis of contemporary feminism, a co-option by capitalism that has virtually disempowered it as a force for change.

Thus we are reduced to brawling in national newspapers about who can and cannot be a feminist, while the big issues raised by Tankard Reist’s action, such as freedom of speech, the politics of the economic power of one woman being used against another to silence her, are left to brilliant bloggers such as Scepticlawyer to unpack.

Interestingly, every other account of the stoush I’ve read in blogs and the MSM has named me. I become anonymous and stereotyped only in the leading feminists’ pieces. I am not well-known, therefore it isn’t necessary to name me in an MSM argument about feminists who are well-known. Yes. Capitalism has co-opted.

While I don’t believe that either Summers or Cox was being malicious, their failure to use a woman’s name in an article about feminism indicates a troubling forgetfulness as to what feminism is about.

Both women have since apologised for the oversight.

I’m receiving a steady flow of demands that I “get [my] facts straight” about the virgin birth. There are no facts about the virgin birth. There is no evidence. It’s a story. I’m as entitled as anyone else to interpret the story and comment on it. There’s a long feminist tradition of commenting on these stories and analysing them through a feminist lens. It’s but one of many options for analysis and it’s as valid as any of the others.  Contest my analysis by all means, but not by demanding “facts” that simply don’t exist.

It appears that Melinda Tankard Reist can legally hold her threat of defamation action over my head for the next twelve months without doing anything more than she has already done. If she so chooses, she can continue bullying, threatening and intimidating me for the next year, and theoretically curtailing my freedom to speak for that time, as anything I write can be co-opted into her list of grievances against me to be subjected to threats of legal action.

While I don’t care if Tankard Reist is called a feminist or not, I do find it interesting that she has chosen to employ patriarchy’s most oppressive and repressive tool, the law, against me. But what is even more interesting is that neither Summers nor Cox   has even remarked on this attempt to silence a woman with patriarchy’s weapons.

The last word by bell hooks:

I will not have my life narrowed down. I will not bow down to somebody else’s whim or to someone else’s ignorance.

This in the Age today: “Tankard Reist explain yourself.” A very informative piece about Tankard Reist’s background. I’m very, very glad this got up in the msm.

The editor, not the author called me “a blogger.”

79 Responses to “The f word, the virgin birth and the sword of Damocles”

  1. Elisabeth January 24, 2012 at 8:20 am #

    Good on you, Jennifer. Keep fighting the good fight. And do not be silenced. Too many of us, men and women, but especially women, are.


  2. Helvi January 24, 2012 at 8:41 am #

    I don’t know what a bell book is, but I love: ‘I will not have my life narrowed down.’

    Jennifer , this might just be someting that will widen and expand your life 🙂


    • Jennifer Wilson January 24, 2012 at 9:25 am #

      I think that’s so, Helvi. Most things do, and if they don’t I walk away from them when I notice!


    • Doug Quixote January 24, 2012 at 5:04 pm #

      We really do need to introduce you to Dr Google, Helvi.

      bell hooks (so spelled lower case) is a famous American feminist.


      • gerard oosterman January 24, 2012 at 5:15 pm #

        There I was thinking it was some kind of medievil instrument for torturing virgins gone astray.


      • Helvi January 24, 2012 at 5:19 pm #

        Doug, too lazy to visit the good doctor too often, hopefully some knight on the white horse will rescue the ‘damsel in distress’, I did not wear my readers either, so it looked like a ‘book’ to me, I assumed ‘correctly’ something to do with feminism… 🙂


  3. ItsBouquet January 24, 2012 at 9:04 am #


    Yes, capitalism has co-opted.
    In fact, capitalism is the mold into which feminism poured itself.


  4. Burgeoned Girth January 24, 2012 at 9:18 am #

    There are ‘no facts’ and there is ‘no evidence’ for the virgin birth? It’s just a story?

    So you’re an historian, right, Dr Wilson? That’s what your doctorate was for, wasn’t it? Because you wouldn’t want to make bald assertions. That would certainly render you comments ‘non-evidence-based’.

    That Jesus was a real, historical figure, that his mother was Mary, are hardly in dispute by any reasonable historian (i.e., they’re sufficiently convinced of the historical evidence). Whether Mary was a virgin at Jesus’ birth or not, none of us is really in a position to judge that one either way with 100% certainty from this distance. And so it comes down to whether one trusts the veracity of the Gospels as reliable historical documents in this matter. So there is evidence. Whether that evidence constitutes ‘fact’ depends on whether one can allow for events outside of the ordinary to take place. I suspect your assessment is based on an a priori judgment that virgins simply can’t get pregnant.


    • Jennifer Wilson January 24, 2012 at 9:24 am #

      Well I’m not a historian and maybe virgins can get pregnant, but Id argue not by the holy ghost.
      Gospels are not evidence of supernatural events.


    • Doug Quixote January 24, 2012 at 9:28 am #

      Jennifer is too polite. I’ll say it : you are full of shit.


      • Helvi January 24, 2012 at 9:36 am #

        Magnanimous much? 🙂


      • Burgeoned Girth January 24, 2012 at 1:43 pm #

        And it’s to Jennifer’s credit that she was polite, and your discredit that you resorted to a schoolyard hissyfit.


    • Ant Allan January 24, 2012 at 10:01 am #


      Oh, God: You’re serious aren’t you?



    • Ant Allan January 24, 2012 at 11:58 am #

      Re the historicity of Jesus, please see my reply to AJ on another post.

      … it comes down to whether one trusts the veracity of the Gospels as reliable historical documents in this matter.

      Why should we? They’re no more reliable as histories than Le Morte d’Arthur is.

      are hardly in dispute by any reasonable historian (i.e., they’re sufficiently convinced of the historical evidence)

      Which “reasonable” historians? What (given the above, extra-Biblical) historical evidence?

      an a priori judgment that virgins simply can’t get pregnant

      A priori of what? Virgin births (parthenogenesis) can occur, but no instance of mammalian let alone human parthenogenesis has been recorded. Furthermore, any offspring would necessarily be female.

      So, yes, if they had existed, for Mary to give birth to Jesus, if he wasn’t fathered by a man, several out-of-the-ordinary things would indeed have had to occur. (Pace other comments, it doesn’t matter if virgin is a mistranslation or not: The important claim is that Jesus was fathered by the Holy Spirit rather than by a man — accordingly to Matthew and Luke, but, strangely, not Mark or John.)

      But they didn’t — this story is just another example of Christianity’s pagan syncretism.



      • Burgeoned Girth January 24, 2012 at 1:26 pm #


        Historian – Prof Edwin Judge, Macquarie University is one name that immediately comes to mind. Just because you’ve never looked into it, doesn’t mean these people don’t exist.

        The historical reliability of the gospels – there’s far more manuscript evidence, closer to the time of production of the gospels, than for any other document in ancient history. ( Descriptions of life in Palestine and other incidental historical references are generally accurate, even from a skeptical viewpoint. Whether or not that translates into whether or not this provides sufficient grounds for you to accept the more extraordinary claims of the gospels…that’s up to you.

        Parthenogenesis – using scientific criteria, no record means not that it hasn’t occurred or can’t occur, just that nobody has observed it yet.

        Matthew and Luke use Mark and possibly another document called Q as the basis for their works, and expand upon it to make their own unique contributions. John, since it comes later than Mark, Matthew and Luke, probably did not want to repeat what had already been covered, and chooses to make different, but complementary points. Nothing strange about that. Mark chose to record the essentials, given that writing equipment was expensive, and writing was time-consuming. (Mark’s koine greek is also much simpler and sloppier, too, compared with the much more educated, native greek speaker and writer Luke)


      • Burgeoned Girth January 24, 2012 at 8:27 pm #

        Oh, and Ant, I just checked your previous post, and the stuff about the Dead Sea Scrolls, methodologically, is bollocks. Plain old bollocks. The Dead Sea Scrolls are a diverse set of manuscripts that range in time and geography of production, gathered together in the Qumran caves of the Dead Sea. If you know anything about the War Scroll or the Rule of the Community or the Teacher of Righteousness, you’d realise how closed a community the Qumran community was, and how ridiculous an assertion it is to try to find references to Jesus in amongst that material. They certainly shared some similar ideas that seemed to be fomenting around the time of Jesus (the apostle Paul, for example, shares some similarities, and shows some awareness of the Qumran community). Lots of the other Dead Sea manuscripts are copies of the Old Testament and some other Apocryphal and Pseudepigraphical books.

        If you want a reasonable overview of historicity, wikipedia does a good job of presenting all sides fairly:


    • Horse January 24, 2012 at 2:41 pm #

      Appeal to biased “authority” is a poor argument, Burgoeoned Girth; using Christian “historians” to special plead for some bare assertions about the “historicity” of a character from just a few sources highly edited over several centuries, as outlined in the Catholic Encyclopedia, is as much confirmation bias as as possible.

      Parthenogenesis, naturally, is biologically and medially impossible in mammals, and even in “lower animals” results in female offspring.

      Besides, the gospel stories are essentially about a spiritual figure, a ghost, not a historical figure – Paul says as much in Galatians 1. Paul even claims he was also crucified in Galatians 2 (v20), so he may also be a mythical character.


    • Hypocritophobe January 24, 2012 at 8:56 pm #

      Virgin birth?

      More like unknown father.
      Grow up.

      Ancient Chinese whispers is not evidence. it’s less than speculation.
      FOS in fact.

      We can find evidence of dinosaurs and nothing of this magically created super human?

      You are a South park dream come true.
      Scientology+ with a license to print money.


  5. Doug Quixote January 24, 2012 at 9:26 am #

    I am very fond of a bearded iris 🙂


  6. lrbizarrebazaar January 24, 2012 at 9:49 am #

    I would love to hear your writings about the “virgin” birth! Where can I find them?

    The word “virgin” is a mistranslation for “young woman,” by the way. There’s strong evidence for this out there, but it’s not my topic of study so I’m not sure of the facts.


    • Ray (novelactivist) January 24, 2012 at 10:08 am #

      Yes, the original Hebrew means something else, ‘maiden’ I think. There is a more complex picture – virgin is a symbol. I’ve been planning to something about it in regard to the veil. Anyway, it’s symbolic and people like Burgeoned Girth above have taken it literally.


      • Ray (novelactivist) January 24, 2012 at 11:28 am #

        Forgot to add that ‘maiden’ in this sense means unmarried girl and the Jewish age of marriage was 12.


      • Burgeoned Girth January 24, 2012 at 12:23 pm #

        You’re right, the hebrew ‘alma(h) can mean ‘maiden’. But given the Greek translation (about the 200-170’s BCE) of the Hebrew Old Testament passage of Isaiah chapter 7 verse 14 opts for ‘parthenos’, the matter is complicated slightly. It was certainly received to mean ‘virgin’, especially in the use of Isaiah 7:14 by the Gospels.


    • Jennifer Wilson January 24, 2012 at 10:11 am #

      I haven’t got any, just a couple of blog posts about how the doctrine of the virgin birth is not the best representation of female sexuality!


    • Burgeoned Girth January 24, 2012 at 12:15 pm #


      In that case…

      The koine greek (in which the New Testament Gospels were written) word “parthenos” can mean young woman, though there are other terms also that can be used. But it would be a mistake to assume that “parthenos” is mistranslated as “virgin”, since it was generally accepted in Israelite society of the time that the majority of “young women” were, in fact, virgins (whether that was the case or not; it certainly would have been a scandal if they weren’t). Given that most “young women” were often married by the age of about 15yrs (average life expectancy was about 40yrs old then, so let’s not judge too harshly), then it is not an unreasonable assumption that “young women” = virgin anyway. (If you want a popular bit of evidence:

      The emphasis of a particular usage of “parthenos” in the New Testament may not be on the actual virginity of the “young woman” per se, but on her status as “unmarried” (see Louw & Nida’s Koine Greek Lexicon entries 9.39; 34.77). In the case of Mary, the context of the use far more suggests virgin than ‘unmarried’ (young woman is taken for granted in the context), since she is betrothed to Joseph.


      • Ray (novelactivist) January 24, 2012 at 1:58 pm #

        Life expectancy is a red herring. There are examples of people living to a ripe old age. Life expectancy was short for the poor. Under both Roman and Jewish law the minimum age of marriage was 12. There was no objection to this in the NT and the Catholic Church used this standard in canon law until 1918. The logic was simple: God would not have made a female fertile unless he intended her to start having children. The idea that girls should wait until late teens is a modern development that has no biblical basis. It is a secular idea.


      • Hypocritophobe January 24, 2012 at 9:06 pm #

        The fictional writings of Religious Amways Middle Eastern branch.
        As in “SMOG” a shortened hybridised word.
        In this case a combination of the words “God” and “Spiel.”

        Gods Spiel = Gospel.

        Those more senior members of the readership of Gods Speil are automatically endowed with the right to usurp all around them as long as they refrain from veering from the main game.
        The main game being Do as I say,not as I do.

        Classic examples of the most senior (and best at the saying not doing bit) are MTR,Fred Nile,George Pell, countless American Politicians, and even more evangelists.

        If true Christian tolerance and ‘turning the other cheek’ was an Olympic sport, these individuals would be scratching each others eyes out to claim Eddie the Eagles trophy.


  7. Keith Van Driel January 24, 2012 at 11:42 am #

    I think he is really serious about the veracity of the ”gospels” ……


    • Ant Allan January 24, 2012 at 12:02 pm #

      That was a reply to my “HAHAHA…” about Burgeoned Girth, yes?



  8. Kate January 24, 2012 at 12:26 pm #

    Hi Jennifer
    I wrote the piece in the Age today about Harradine.

    FYI, it was a decision by the op editor to add the second paragraph, where you are described as “a blogger”. My original article was only about MTR and Harradine, as that is where my expertise lies. The opeditor decided the article needed some context for readers new to the story, and that’s how she phrased it


    • rubiginosa January 24, 2012 at 12:36 pm #

      Cox, Summers, female sub-editors. WTF? Are you all still in a food coma? What is so difficult about typing ‘Dr Jennifer Wilson’?


    • Jennifer Wilson January 24, 2012 at 12:52 pm #

      Hi Kate, thanks for that. I hadn’t read your article before I wrote this last blog, so I wasn’t including you in my complaint! I added the link later.

      I am so very glad you got this piece up.


  9. Kate January 24, 2012 at 12:59 pm #

    cheers Jennifer

    btw, op editor at the age is a great woman… who knows why/what is their protocol in particular…..


  10. paul walter January 24, 2012 at 3:51 pm #

    Kate, it was a fine article and very germaine to the sorts of things discussed here, including on the suppression/revisionism of contextual, relevant info. Its an Orwellian trait that is confronted in the article.


  11. Lola January 24, 2012 at 8:40 pm #

    ‘germaine’ he heh heh – Can’t wait for her to join this stoush! Now, there will be an op – ed with a hard job.
    Old MTR has gone awful quiet. Whats up honey, don’t wanna play no more?


  12. eithniu January 24, 2012 at 10:54 pm #

    Although all the above comments seem to be on the topic of the ‘virgin birth’ for me the most interest part of this blog is the following:-
    ‘I do find it interesting that she has chosen to employ patriarchy’s most oppressive and repressive tool, the law, against me. But what is even more interesting is that neither Summers nor Cox has even remarked on this attempt to silence a woman with patriarchy’s weaponst’.

    Jennifer, does the above quote from your blog mean that you reject the law on the basis that it represents ‘patriarchy’s weapons’ or is it just some laws that offend you, from a feminist viewpoint, that you reject?

    I would have thought that if someone defamed you publicly that you ,if you felt the need, would turn to the law to protect your reputation. If not for that law, people would be free to say anything about anyone irrespective of the impact and damage their words may have on the individual’s reputation.

    In relation to the 12month restriction on you that you’ve referred to. Do you mind clarifying the details? Does it mean that you are restricted in defaming Melinda (legal definition) over the next 12 months or as your blog implies – are you restricted to not making comment on her at all.

    My questions may be completely irrelevant if you reject current criteria for ‘defamation’ and see it instead as a restriction to freedom of speech.

    Look forward to your response Jennifer.


    • Hypocritophobe January 24, 2012 at 11:04 pm #

      @ eithniu


      An author writes a book about the impacts of lets say?
      One of the interviewed contributors subsequently suicides because of the amplification of whatever emotional feelings they have,be it pre-existing or otherwise,

      So How does your comment;
      “people would be free to say anything about anyone irrespective of the impact and damage their words”
      sit with this scenario.


      More to come.


      • eithniu January 24, 2012 at 11:24 pm #

        Hi cool, didn’t expect a response so soon. In regard to your response, your scenario while tragic is not a defamation scenario it is a ‘damages’ scenario.

        Defamation relates to defaming thus it’s called ‘defamation’. Your cut and paste from my comment missed out a few words ‘the impact and damage their words’ the last words being ‘may have on their reputation’.

        So, unfortunately responding beyond that which I’ve done above is not going to take us any further.

        Thanks anyway Hypochritophobe.


    • Hypocritophobe January 24, 2012 at 11:07 pm #

      Ignore this persons request for further info on anything related to legal until they hang around long enough to turn human.

      It is in your best interests.You may delete the contents of this comment,but take the content on board.I think it’s a fishing trip.


      • eithniu January 24, 2012 at 11:29 pm #

        Oh dear, Hypocritophobe, this was unnecessary. Jennifer and I have been communicating on this issue and we have been doing so without anger or rancour and I hope that we will continue to do so.

        We have exchanged links and information happily. I am looking at this all from a purely pragmatic viewpoint and very interested to know more about Jennifer’s position in this debate, which she has been willing to share.


      • Jennifer Wilson January 25, 2012 at 7:13 am #

        Thank you. I know you’re concerned and I very much appreciate that.


    • Jennifer Wilson January 25, 2012 at 7:20 am #

      Again you presume. I consider I have been seriously defamed by followers of MTR on several occasions. My response is to ignore, and occasionally reply if I think it’s worth it. I also take whatever platforms available to address what has offended me. This option was open to MTR and she has far more platforms than do I.

      No. I wouldn’t turn to the law. I haven’t got that kind of money, and if I had, there’s better things to do with it. I believe in free speech and I believe in good speech as the antidote to bad. I do not believe in silencing through any means. People ought to be able to handle those kind of offenses without resorting to the law.

      Because the law is so expensive, def actions are available only to those who have enough money. This makes them inherently unjust.

      No I will not clarify those details.I am not your research assistant. You can look them up.


  13. Hypocritophobe January 24, 2012 at 11:18 pm #

    Free trip?
    Free money?
    Free ,free,free free?

    Free Free free
    Free porn?

    I am on a humanitarian drive to ensure struggling lawyers needing to fight religious agendas can finally get the twelfth investment property and fourth cabin cruiser before life passes them by.

    Free legal aid

    Free legal aid

    Free legal aid
    Free legal aid


  14. Mata Hari January 24, 2012 at 11:30 pm #

    @ eithniu do you think it is ethical for someone with powerful connections and a substantial following to hire a high-powered defamation lawyer against Jennifer and inspire her with fear of financial ruin when Jennifer has quite recently disclosed that she was sexually abused as a child and was put into an orphanage and she is still working through her issues..? Do you think it is ETHICAL for a feminist to terrorize a vulnerable survivor of child sexual abuse with an aggressive legal letter? And tell me, why has MTR not demanded an apology from Cannold who has, one could argue, had far more impact on her reputation?

    I look forward to your response ‘eithniu’


    • eithniu January 24, 2012 at 11:52 pm #

      Hi Mata Hari,

      As I said in my earlier post I’m following this issue and approaching from a pragmatic viewpoint so I will maintain that position in this reply to you.

      Firstly, it appears from this blog that Jennifer disclosed her tragic experience days after the letter threatening defamation was received by her.

      Secondly, the law is fairly black and white and especially in the case of the requirements of meeting the criteria for defamation (google defamation laws in Australia). So I can only presume that the defamation action is based on clear evidence of breaches of that law by Jennifer.

      Thirdly, the law does not always discriminate on the basis of someone’s life experience i.e. if one has had a tragic experience in their past it doesn’t necessarily follow that that will excuse them from breaches of the law.

      Lastly, re Lesley Cannold, Lesley may have voiced her strong opposition to MTR’s views but unless she has defamed her then it’s unlikely that MTR would take action against her just because LC doesn’t approve of her.

      With free speech we are all able to voice our opinions about how others behave or how we oppose their views or behaviours. We are not, however, entitled to misrepresent them or mischaracterise them personally in a way that causes a specific type of damage as per defamation law.

      With regard to the ethics of this, I cannot comment because I am not conversant with the particular words Jennifer has spoken and that which have attracted the defamation action. However, I am personally sorry that this whole incident has travelled the road it has. A timely reminder for us all to inform ourselves about laws regarding defamation and slander, particularly in the area of public access social networking.


      • Hypocritophobe January 25, 2012 at 12:03 am #

        Fishing again


      • Jennifer Wilson January 25, 2012 at 7:07 am #

        Actually, eithnu you can’t and shouldn’t presume anything.

        It’s a well known strategy for lawyers to threaten alleged offenders with letters of demand that may have little or no substance, in the attempt to silence them by fear before any writ is served. The point of these letters is to avoid an actual defamation action, which is extremely expensive, by frightening the recipient into backing down, apologising, paying costs, etc before a court even has the opportunity to decide whether or not defamation has occurred. It is blackmail. The goal is not to end up in court where they can be fairly judged, the goal is the instill enough fear to silence.

        You seem to saying that because I received letters of demand I must be guilty! Thankfully, the law does not work that way.


    • Jennifer Wilson January 25, 2012 at 7:22 am #

      THank you. 🙂


  15. Hypocritophobe January 24, 2012 at 11:33 pm #

    And it seems that FINALLY the truth the ABC has hidden from those working families and individuals, paying their wages is, finally surfacing.
    Can’t have the jellyfish at Aunty making waves,can we?

    Despite years of denial and cover up,behind the scenes lobbying and bullying, the facts are visible. The facts the ABC filter have buried.


    never happened did it Aunty?

    This should never have been acknowledged on the precious MTR bio?
    Who wrote the bio?
    Who ticked it off?


    What’s next?
    Gleeson getting sued for telling the truth?

    The ABC has a lot to answer for, and the other simpering apologists masquerading as blog sooth sayers, (soap box squealers) {ooh it’s all a late night conspiracy!} (you know who you are) are looking very shaky indeed.

    Cred factor zero.
    Very common these days of Nepotism and jobs for the boys.


    • Jennifer Wilson January 25, 2012 at 6:54 am #

      You really have to stop railing against the ABC on this thread. I’ll have to start deleting stuff, which you know I don’t like to do.


  16. Hypocritophobe January 24, 2012 at 11:48 pm #

    Two more blogs moaning about the ‘self inflicted wrath’ of those embracing truth and how it upsets those who don’t like being made accountable to their actions and their own personal history

    Typical MTR and Liberal tactic.Just say stuff. Never engage in dialogue and play the victim card.
    Every comment directed at people who demand ‘one way communication’ is of their own making.

    Not only can’t she walk the walk,she doesn’t even talk the talk.
    To do that, you need to defend/justify/explain and support your position.

    Not just whimper when criticised and deny the bits which bruise the $$$vault.
    So sad/

    Ironic that both of these blogs should intimate why me when the base they defend is so bitter,exclusive,inflexible and hypocritical.

    When will Anson Cameron and Reist swear on a Bible that they have NEVER adopted a pseudonym online?

    Go on kids.I dare you.
    (Otherwise Cam I smell 35%,in both your backyards.)

    The Age?

    It sure is.


  17. Mata Hari January 25, 2012 at 12:07 am #

    dear legal pragmatist, I wasn’t asking your legal opinion….which in my opinion tends to conflate the law with justice, and far from being purely pragmatic collapsing the law with justice seems to me to betray an emotional or political attachment to power and the establishment

    have you read a book by Godwin called Caleb Williams? Godwin was married to a certain feminist…


  18. Hypocritophobe January 25, 2012 at 12:24 am #

    eithniu says:
    January 24, 2012 at 11:24 pm

    Hi cool, didn’t expect a response so soon. In regard to your response, your scenario while tragic is not a defamation scenario it is a ‘damages’ scenario.

    Defamation relates to defaming thus it’s called ‘defamation’. Your cut and paste from my comment missed out a few words ‘the impact and damage their words’ the last words being ‘may have on their reputation’.

    So, unfortunately responding beyond that which I’ve done above is not going to take us any further.

    Thanks anyway Hypochritophobe.”
    So, ‘saving face’ is more important to you than destroying lives?
    No surprise there.And a very familiar ( contemporary ) theme flowing through this blog, by those defending someone denying their own history/.

    Laughable and mostly a “troll worthy” position.

    I’ll take the MTR amendment now and desist in engaging with any further conversation with you.


  19. ItsBouquet January 25, 2012 at 12:27 am #


    Jennifer first mentioned her experiences in her blog post “Home” which went up on December 28th 2011…she first spoke of the letter from Tankard Reist’s lawyer in a blog post dated January 14th, 2012… so disclosure of her experiences came quite sometime before she received the letter.


    • eithniu January 25, 2012 at 12:34 am #

      Thanks ItsBouquet, I had not seen/read the earlier post. New to the blog and thought the one I referred to was the first disclosure of her story.

      Glad you picked me up on this. No harm intended.


    • Jennifer Wilson January 25, 2012 at 7:10 am #

      Thank you for explaining that, Itsbouquet. You are right, the two had absolutely nothing to do with each other.


  20. paul walter January 25, 2012 at 8:32 am #

    Irbizarrebazaar, I think I love you.
    A virgin traditionally is a normal young woman of childbearing age. She is infused of the holy spirit, translates to, healthy and normal, with a good attitude; ultimately delivers her baby in a normal birth.
    So it came to pass. Raised well enough to be able to debate with the various sects offering different interpretations of Judaism (Essenes, Shamai, Hillel), encouraged by a well know preacher John the Baptist, argues for the fair go, offends local Jewish and Roman authorities and ends up suffering a fate similar to the one Afghan refugee and dissenter Mazar Ali came within centimetres of suffering, according to a teev doco last night, almost down to the crown of thorns.
    Given the amount of courageous people taken off, “disappeared” and tortured by authorities in our era, is it so unlikely that there could be a good basis to the Jesus story? As with Che, the spirit and the idea still live after the martyr’s defence of these, in the cause of value and meaning.
    If anything it’s more credible without the hocus pocus aspects, added a little later in an era not yet accessed to science, by those seeking to embellish the story to make it more compelling.


    • dexitroboper (@dexitroboper) January 25, 2012 at 12:11 pm #

      Given the amount of courageous people taken off, “disappeared” and tortured by authorities in our era, is it so unlikely that there could be a good basis to the Jesus story?

      Yes, the details of Jesus birth, life and death in the gospels are so inconsistent and contain so much fiction as to render the existence of an itinerant Jewish preacher called Yeshua ha Notzri unlikely.


  21. Tarragon Allen January 25, 2012 at 12:12 pm #


    I’ve recently come to this blog via the recent furore over MTR and others.

    While I find Melinda’s actions to be cagey and suppressive, and don’t believe she should have or needed to resort to the law to attack you, I must (mildly) object to the description of the law as “patriarchy’s most oppressive and repressive tool”. As a man I find this kind of comment unhelpful and actually somewhat insulting. I believe in equal rights, and generally agree with the moderate feminist viewpoint, but I think that comments like that are almost as bad as common stereotyping comments against woman that feminists often complain about.

    The law is just a tool, it’s neither male or female. Anti-discrimination is also a law. As a man who cares about equality, I’d rather not see my gender cast in that light, particularly when I am generally open to the feminist viewpoint and strongly believe in equal rights. Stereotyping and discrimination goes both ways, and it does nobody a service to continue that sort of rhetoric.

    Other than that, I am finding your blog interesting to read and fully support your fight against MTR.




    • ItsBouquet January 25, 2012 at 1:19 pm #

      On a universal level, first world “laws” enacted at the behest of patriarchal/religious influences often impact the lives of third world women to their detriment – as in the Global Gag rule.


      • Tarragon Allen January 25, 2012 at 4:53 pm #

        While that may be true, I don’t see it being particularly relevant as Ms Wilson is not a third world woman, and the law being used could equally be used to suppress a man’s blog. Making the law itself about gender seems to be attempting to make an enemy where there is none.


    • Jennifer Wilson January 25, 2012 at 8:24 pm #

      I should have said defamation law. Because that really isn’t a good one.


  22. Nikos January 25, 2012 at 1:33 pm #

    Hi Jennifer,

    I’m writing to send you my support in decrying the redefining of feminism into a convenient rationalisation and defence of the wish to remove a woman’s rights to choose about what happens to her body and life.

    Some twenty five years ago my sister was kicked to the ground outside Flinders Street Station for speaking in Greek with my cousin while on a tram into the city. No one came to help, no one called the police. How different would situation this have been if my sister had been a man I wonder?

    Seems like it’s now women who are doing the kicking.

    In the case of my sister and also the current nonsense put out there by Reist and her self-described friend Devine, silence equals consent at worst or apathy at best. I feel that being silent now against this tirade against abortion and women’s’ rights is important, and I hope that men support our mothers, sisters, wives, and female friends maintain and extend their rights and freedoms.

    Also of note to me is that in the press’ coverage of this issue the voices of migrant, poor and marginalised are missing. Instead, what is presented as ‘sound’ reason or even ‘fact’ are simply the ‘with me or against me’ voices of upper middle class women who happen to be fortunate enough to have an opinion column and/or piece in the right wing press. For migrant, poor or marginalised women there are no such opportunities. They also certainly don’t have access to a legal team when they are piloried and disabused.

    I actively refute the bias and inaccuracies of these supposedly feminist positions in both my personal and professional lives, but feel I and other men need to do more.


    • Jennifer Wilson January 25, 2012 at 3:21 pm #

      Thank you very much Nikos. I am having a little meltdown. Services will return to normal as soon as possible.


  23. Lola January 25, 2012 at 8:18 pm #

    Thanks Nikos, you put into words what I was thinking and feeling.


  24. Craig Minns January 31, 2012 at 8:24 am #

    I actually gained some respect for Eva Cox out of that article on New Matilda. She said:

    “We need to recognise that all genders have similar capacities to make good and bad choices and need similar conditions in which to make them. While I am no fan of sexploitation, of objectifying and commodifying human beings, I do not see tactics of censorship and banning of particular manifestations as useful. Emphasising women as victims also contributes to gender-based biases in political thinking. ”

    which is something that I never expected one of the most vocal of the 70s feminists to say.

    I do hope that she means it.

    That she committed a grave offence against feminism by not mentioning your name doesn’t seem quite as important, somehow.


    • Jennifer Wilson January 31, 2012 at 12:13 pm #

      LOl, it isn’t as important! It just amused me at the time that our two “leading” feminists were the only ones writing who left a woman writer un-named. Not important. Ironic.


      • Craig Minns January 31, 2012 at 12:24 pm #

        Oh yes, it’s certainly that. I may have used the wrong term. I’m quite interested in Cox’s somewhat dramatic change of direction. As she is one of the foundation members of the Women’s Electoral Lobby and has made a career out of her profession of Feminist doctrine based largely on a claim of general female victimhood , it’s a really big event for her to say that such claims are creating their own form of political gender bias.

        It leads me to wonder what else she may have been reconsidering.


        • Jennifer Wilson January 31, 2012 at 12:37 pm #

          Yes, I agree. I was also interested in that turn around, but I don’t know much else about her thinking.


  25. Craig Minns January 31, 2012 at 2:27 pm #

    Given her involvement with WEL, I’m wondering whether she’s feeling marginalised by groups like Emily’s List, which is strongly partisan and has enormous influence within ALP political circles, which used to be the natural constituency of WEL. Perhaps she’s seeking a way to differentiate her group, and sees a genuinely egalitarian model as the best way to do so.

    All speculation of course: she may be just mellowing as she approaches her dotage.


  26. Aphrodite O'Rourke January 31, 2012 at 2:29 pm #

    I was at a conference on women and violence in the early 1990s and saw Eva Cox publically tear strips off a young, bright feminist who dared to question her. It was a horrific display of power and it made me think that Cox is less a feminist and more a power broker who has taken on behaving like the rest of the patriarchy…..


    • Craig Minns January 31, 2012 at 3:52 pm #

      I don’t think it’s got much to do with patriarchy. My Mum was a dab hand with the cutting remark and my Nan suffered fools about as gladly as she suffered boils.

      Dominance is a natural part of every social mammal, as far as I’m aware. It’s often somewhat gender-segregated. For example, in Canis Lupus Familiaris the alpha bitch is as dominant and dominating as the alpha dog, especially with the other females. Homo Saps are no exception.


    • Jennifer Wilson January 31, 2012 at 4:23 pm #

      Well, you know that was my impression of her back then, and I saw her do just that more than once.



  1. The f word, the virgin birth and the sword of Damocles « No Place For Sheep | Secularity - January 24, 2012

    […] The f word, the virgin birth and the sword of Damocles « No Place For Sheep. Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. By Colin Mackay • Tagged feminism 0 […]


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