Tag Archives: Bettina Arndt

Gillard blames the Tea Party for rude signage, Albrechtsen says get real on rough s*x. Just another day in paradise

31 Aug

It is but a few short months since Julia Gillard made a fawning, obsequious speech to the US Congress declaring, among other things, that the US must be at the centre of a new world order, and “I firmly believe you are the same people who amazed me when I was a small girl by landing on the moon.”

“I firmly believe you are the same people??” Oh, never mind.

In a bit of a turn around, Ms Gillard this morning expressed regret at what she perceives to be the “Americanization” of Australian politics after placards plastered with slogans such as “Ditch the Witch”  and “Bob Brown’s Bitch” were held aloft at recent anti carbon tax rallies by ageing demonstrators.

An aside: if we were ever in doubt, these rallies ought to convince us that demonstrating is definitely for the young. I don’t want to be thought ageist, but if you’re going to distort your features with rage and flying spittle, it looks a whole lot better if the facial features are fresh and young to start with. Howl me down if you will, but for every thing, turn, turn, turn, there is a season, turn, turn, turn and if you’re smart, you just suck that sad fact up and go for dignity.

Back to the placards. We do not want to follow the Tea Party’s downward spiral into personal abuse and extremist comments, says the PM, and public expressions of displeasure such as those displayed at the anti carbon tax rallies are not faithful to the robust Australian tradition of political debate that is the envy of other nations.

Have a look at these and tell me the PM isn’t being a girl.

I haven’t even put up the rude ones with language a whole lot more racy than witch and bitch.

The placards that offended Ms Gillard are obviously nothing to do with the influence of the Tea Party, which wasn’t in existence when these representations of the Howard/Bush alliance appeared around 2003, expressing public opinion on the invasion of Iraq.

If anything, the public has been comparatively restrained in its depictions of Gillard.

In Oaxaca, Mexico in 2006, I watched furious demonstrations against the then governor of the state, in which he was depicted life-size in papier-mache entwined with a busty blonde mistress and escaping the city in a helicopter. The slogans that draped the tableau read (in Spanish of course): This man is a murderer of children and he f**cks his mother, and other spectacular insults, leading me to contemplate the remarkable contradiction between the power of the church in Mexico and the freedom of the people to foully abuse their politicians.

I am willing to bet every peso I have that the Tea Party had nothing to do with the Oaxaca signage either. The PM might as well have suggested we are being Mexicanized.

What I do wonder is why Ms Gillard chose to comment at all on the placards, because there’s really no way of doing it that doesn’t make her look a bit precious, especially the attempt to tie it in with the Tea Party. Someone really needs to tell her that silence can be golden, and that knowing when to talk and when to shut up is the beginning of wisdom.

Janet Albrechtsen. Well. Ms Albrechtsen has today written a column in the Australian in which she encourages women to take sex instruction from that rapidly tattifying TV series Sex and the City. The one in which everyone wears Manolo Blahniks to the corner store, and, oh god I can’t be bothered talking about it. It held my attention for a nanosecond and then I thought I must be waiting at the dentist’s flicking through Cosmopolitan magazines to distract me from fear, and not at home on the lounge at all.

Albrechtsen titles the column Let’s not be tethered by simple sexual stereotypes. That’s got to be an ironic reference, I thought, right? Wrong.

The “tethered” in the title refers not to sexual bondage, or at least I don’t think it does, her piece has done my head in, but to an anonymous male ‘fessing up in a British tabloid newspaper about what he calls his inner goat. This fantasy animal apparently carries the burden of the young man’s less attractive sexual urges, the ones that make him want to bang a woman brainless, without first shaving, washing, putting on cologne or even asking her name.

As one of the Sex and the City women expresses a desire to be banged brainless, this all ties in, somehow. You’ll have to read it, it’s beyond my powers of explanation.

Albrechtsen also takes the opportunity to be supportive of Bettina Arndt who apparently encourages all men to love their inner goat, in spite of the vile reactionary  howling of the feminist furies who, as one would expect, have no sympathy for inner goats and want them strung up by their little goaty beards.

All this seems pretty harmless and daft,  but where it gets icky is when Albrechtsen uses as an example the Strauss Kahn case, in which the alleged victim suffered vaginal bruising, to argue that injuries such as that do not necessarily indicate rape. “The stubborn puritanism that says if a woman is bruised during sex it must be rape needs to be challenged,” she writes. This is in response to a comment by Richard Ackland, in which he muses about how sex can possibly be consensual and cause vaginal bruising.

This is an example of how our media is rapidly going down the toilet. Janet Albrechtsen in the Australian critiques Richard Ackland in the SMH who discusses the DSK evidence using information gathered from a postmodern media pastiche, then Albrechtsen analyses something written by Bettina Arndt in an un-named British tabloid. Albrechtsen then recommends that her readers watch hour after hour of the TV series Sex and the City, and everybody winds up in a piece on No Place for Sheep about tethered goats. I ask you.

Vaginal bruising can of course occur during consensual sex and it doesn’t have to be rough sex. Rough sex can also be consensual. Perhaps Mr Ackland needs to watch Sex and the City. Or one of those late night French films on SBS. It is amazing how throwaway comments can reveal so much about a person, often far more than we ever needed to know or indeed that the person ever intended to tell us.

In a porn movie, a hotel maid might well enter the room of the Head of the International Monetary Fund, a room she believed was empty, and on encountering the great man’s inner goat emerging naked from the dunny, find herself overcome with desire and mysteriously compelled to spontaneously offer her body to the horny stranger for consensual rough sex that leaves her bruised and injured.

Yep, as a porn movie that would work. But in real life, it stretches all credibility. I think Albrechtsen is arguing that men ought to be allowed to say they want to bang women silly sometimes, and women ought to be allowed to say they sometimes want to be banged silly and they don’t mind incurring some vaginal bruising in the process. These are deeply personal matters about which, unlike Richard Ackland,  I have no opinion I’m willing to share.

Quite what any of that has to do with the events that occurred in Strauss Kahn’s hotel room, I don’t know.Perhaps it will all become clear in the future when we’ll all know the difference between the sheep and the goats.

Update: My curiosity piqued by a commenter’s reference to Ms Albrechtsen’s intimate life, I spent a little time researching this and discovered that the lady appeared on the arm of Mr Michael Kroger, Victorian Liberal Party heavyweight, business man and political commentator at union boss Paul Howes’ 30th birthday bash on Saturday night.

The two are apparently a new couple. I do not know if this goes any way to explaining Ms Albrechtsen’s strong identification with the women of Sex and the City, the inner goats of men, and bruising sex.

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Women bagging women: the female politician.

27 Jan

Sisters forever sisters. By joanneteh_32 via flickr

Once again the media coverage of the appointment of a woman to a senior political position has brought forth angry criticism, and accusations of sexism from some of the body politic. The questions asked and the commentary published is sexist, and designed to undermine the authority of female politicians, it is alleged. Nobody, it’s claimed, asks these idiotic questions of male politicians, or demands that they explain themselves if they aren’t married.

I don’t think this is quite true, however, that’s an article in its own right, for another day.

Lara Giddings, the latest of several ALP women promoted to the top job in state and federal governments, was yesterday asked the usual questions about her marital status, her childfree status, and the current absence of a boyfriend in her life. As yet, we haven’t heard what people think about her appearance, her hairstyle and colour, and her earlobes, but I’m confident that will come.

Yet when it comes to making ad hominem comments about female politicians, some of the worse offenders are women. Nikki Savva in the Australian of November 23 2010, offered sarcastic sartorial and political advice to Julia Gillard, in a piece titled Smarten up, PM, and do not wear green

Also in the Australian, July 28 2010, Janet Albrechtson’s Let’s be honest about Julia’s free gender leg-up ,while not focusing on her appearance, attacks Gillard’s alleged inability to relate to the women who’ve chosen to marry and raise children, given her own choices to do neither.

Social commentator Bettina Arndt also criticized the de facto arrangements of Julia Gillard in the Sydney Morning Herald article of June 29, 2010 titled: Shacking up is hard to do: why Gillard may be leery of the Lodge. Arndt questioned Gillard’s value as a role model for young women who wanted marriage, children and career.

Hard-line feminists describe those who launch such ad hominem attacks as “anti feminist women.” A few years back they described such a woman as “having a pr*ck in her head.”

(Ad hominem arguments are those that attack the speaker in the hope of undermining her or him, rather than addressing the argument. They frequently take the form of comments on physical appearance. For example, one I’ve never forgotten that came from a short, chubby, ageing bald fellow who exclaimed when he was introduced to me: “But you can’t be a blonde and have a PhD, darling!”)

It’s unrealistic to expect that women will be kind to each other just because we’re women.  Nevertheless, there is an unspoken, unexamined and entirely unproven expectation that we are somehow bonded through our gender, and therefore less likely to betray one another.

Nothing could be farther from the truth. Women deceive other women all the time, with their male lovers and partners, for example. And very many women, in the throes of shock and despair, will say that while they sort of expect men to behave like that, and they are desperately upset, it’s how the woman betrayed the woman that really cuts to the bone.

Many women survivors of childhood sexual abuse reveal that while the perpetrator did them untold damage, they have never and will never understand why their mothers didn’t help them, and this betrayal is impossible to grasp on a very deep emotional and spiritual level.

Women can be unbelievably hard on their daughters, begrudging them success, and an easier life than they’ve experienced.

And yet, in the face of all evidence to the contrary, women continue to believe in and yearn for the kindness of other women, and continue to be disappointed  when it’s not forthcoming.

Women might need to toughen up and let go of the hopeful fantasy that women are the greatest supporters of women, or that they should be. I sometimes wonder if allegations of sexism against men, while frequently entirely justified, might also work to conceal and deny the truly frightening hatred we women are capable of experiencing and enacting towards each other.

Everyone recognizes the woman who seeks approval from a man by denigrating other women, thus portraying herself as “different” and “better.”

Women who have a public life in any field, are targeted by both genders for ad hominem attacks. There are feminists who explain this phenomenon as a consequence of overwhelming patriarchal influences that have set us against one another in order to further the patriarchal agenda. This may well be one of the explanations for a learned rather than innate cruelty, if indeed that’s what it is. And there’s another argument.

However, the explanation doesn’t justify the hostilities, and after so many years of feminist analysis, we can no longer claim to be ignorant of what influences motivate us and how we perpetuate those influences in our lives.

Perhaps it’s time for women to take responsibility for our attitudes towards other women, especially those in public life. Perhaps one way of doing this is becoming aware of when we’re engaging in the ad hominem argument, and stopping it before it starts.

Everybody does it to some degree, it’s almost like breathing. The things I’ve said about Julia Gillard’s voice. 


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