Tag Archives: Bob Ellis

Why we can and should make up our own minds about the Bob Ellis allegations.

12 Jun


It doesn’t come as any surprise to discover that “Australian arts luminaries,” among them journalist, screenwriter, novelist and passionate Labor supporter Bob Ellis, allegedly sexually assaulted the young daughters of playwright Dorothy Hewitt. That this disclosure does not surprise (though it certainly horrifies) is in itself a cause for anger and sorrow.

That the assaults took place in the girls’ home and apparently with the acquiescence of both their mother and their father, adds another dimension of horror to a story that is sickeningly familiar in every demographic, and every time and place.

When such atrocities are disclosed, a common reaction is that we should let the courts decide who is telling the truth, and remember that everyone is entitled to the presumption of innocence. In this case, some of the alleged perpetrators are dead, including Bob Ellis, and some are still living.

In an ideal world, if the law and the courts dealt at all fairly with victims of sexual assault, I’d agree that we should, if possible, leave the courts to determine innocence or guilt. But the justice system does not fairly deal with victims of this crime, as this article by Jane Gilmour explains. Rape victims who do report to police often describe the criminal justice system as “retraumatising.” 

When the alleged perpetrators are dead, there’s no possibility of legal redress. However, this doesn’t mean we can’t decide who we believe. For example, I find the stories of Rozanne and Kate Lilley credible. I don’t find the suggestion that they’ve made the whole thing up in the least bit credible. Therefore, I exercise my right to decide whom to trust, and I trust the Lilley sisters.

The sisters have already become targets for social media trolls. They are “claiming to be victims,” it’s alleged.  Well, no, they aren’t. They are simply telling their story. That story reveals hideous abuse and exploitation of two girls aged 13 and 15, by a group of celebrated and creative people who ought to have known better, and ought to have cared. They ought to have cared. And they didn’t. They wanted sex with children. So they had sex with children. Their creative accomplishments did not entitle them to have sex with children. The “bohemian” lifestyle they lived did not entitle them to have sex with children.

Yesterday I read on social media the opinion that because Ellis is dead, the sisters should have kept quiet. What this said to me is that to some people, living women matter so very, very much less than dead men. Since when does a man’s (or woman’s) notability entitle him or her to have their crimes and misdemeanours concealed by their victims?Since when must victims of notable people keep quiet, simply because the alleged perpetrator is notable?

I don’t know what these disclosures will do the legacy of Bob Ellis and feminist icon Dorothy Hewitt. Of far more concern to me is the wellbeing of Kate and Rozanne Lilley. Speaking out about sexual assault is an ordeal for anyone. That ordeal is inevitably compounded when the alleged perpetrators are public figures, or figures admired and respected in the community.

It’s something of a cop-out, I’d suggest, to respond to the sisters’ account of Ellis’s sexual predations with clichés about justice and the courts. We can decide if the story is credible without direction from a justice system that all too often miserably fails victims of sexual crimes. We can trust our own judgement and furthermore, we should have the courage to trust our own judgement. And having trusted ourselves, we can then decide how disclosure of alleged abhorrent sexual behaviour affects our feelings about the work of Kevin Spacey, Woody Allen, Bob Ellis, Morgan Freeman, Dorothy Hewitt, Junot Diaz and the rest of the lengthening list of creative stars who stand so accused.





Bob Ellis

4 Apr

Bob Ellis has died after a valiant struggle with liver cancer.

His talent was enormous and wide-ranging. He delighted, entertained, alarmed, offended, confronted, infuriated, and spoke truth to all kinds of power. I will miss his work so very much.

Vale Bob.

Bob Ellis

Feminism? In a pig’s feckin’ ear.

25 Jan

And yet another feminist in the msm makes it all about feminists.

And they’re even running  a poll about it.

Apparently feminism has been reduced to public spats about who has ownership of the brand. Feminism these days apparently no longer cares about much else. The co-option is complete.

Feminism, at least that faction of it that has a public voice, has now been entirely subsumed by capitalism. How the patriarchy must be cheering! Look at these feminists in these cat fights about who is allowed to be a feminist!

But we’re not complaining. While they fight about nothing, they aren’t focusing on us.

I’ve always had a wry little laugh at Bob Ellis when he sets to lamenting about the moral demise of the ALP. He shouldn’t take it so seriously!  But not anymore. It is heartbreaking to watch as a vision you believed in sells out to the degree that it is unrecognizable. To watch as it becomes the property of a handful of white middle class  women who figured out how to make a name and a living for themselves by being just feminist enough to gain a foothold in both camps.

Feminism was about equality, and that includes equality between women, not just equality with men. Feminism was about honesty, and shining intelligence, feminism was an analytic tool that was unique and adopted by many seeking to expose all kinds of inequality.

Feminism and feminists helped me save my own life.

And now?

It’s enough to make a strong woman weep. Weep, I tell you! Feckin’ bloody weep!

Same old msm misogyny, all politicians are liars, and only if I’m water boarded

3 Jan

I don’t know if this is just an attack of ennui after the holiday festivities, but all I can find to say about the new year is blah blah blah.

Same old politics politicking on.  Same old fights between right and left. Same old controversies, increasingly bereft of impact due to over-exposure. Same old msm misogyny against the PM. Yes, it’s taken me a long time to come round to acknowledging that. I have my disagreements with Ms Gillard, and I didn’t want legitimate arguments against her to be obfuscated by allegations of misogyny. It was bad enough when the feminists went wild at her ascension, conveniently ignoring the context in which it took place.

But I have to admit that there can be no other reason for the msm’s unceasing attacks on her, their unwavering support of that grotesque ferret Tony Abbott, and their wilful ignoring of Gillard’s considerable achievements. To collapse into primitive binaries: Abbott’s a man. Gillard’s a woman. The msm can’t deal with it. They are profoundly misogynist. They would see us delivered unto the mad monk rather than have a woman in the Lodge.

Gillard is undoubtedly a woman of strong character and great political talent, and I think she’s growing into her prime ministerial role. That said, she’s a politician. I feel no compunction about embarking on a stereotyping frenzy when it comes to them. They are liars. They are hypocrites. They are self-seeking, ego-driven megalomaniacs and they are quite likely psychopathic as well. However, within these parameters, some are not as bad as others. Gender makes no difference whatsoever, except, perhaps, in the way in which these dangerous dysfunctions are expressed. That said, I bet all my xmas presents that Gillard would have taken us into the illegal Iraq invasion, just like Howard. Then there’s her stand on the Australian citizen in big trouble overseas, Julian Assange. Her government’s implied preferencing of Chopper Reid over David Hicks in the matter of proceeds of crime. The mess she’s made of asylum seeker policies. Oh, here I go again re-visiting the same old fights. But what else can one do? Fall silent?

Anyway, if we are going to be critical of our PM, let’s not allow misogyny to muddy the waters. We don’t need it.

Then there’s the same old windbags on commercial TV and the same old botoxed, artificially bosomed, tarted up bottle blonde anchors and presenters. Except when they’re bottled brunettes. I guess that’s some kind of variation.

It’s freaking me out how so many TV women are starting to look exactly the same, with the tortured hair, and bloated lips through which they deliver their version of the day’s news and (ahem) analysis in breathless girly voices. They’re modeling themselves on the Fox News girls, aren’t they?

Reminder to self: now @RupertMurdoch is on Twitter give him a serve about his anchors. And champion pie-stopper @Wendi_Deng also has a verified account, making a husband and wife team rivalled only by David and Kristen Willamson, who I am coming to below this image of an ideal Fox anchor:

A brief respite yesterday when someone on Twitter directed me to this blog, a site wherein Bob Ellis and David and Kristen Williamson recreate for readers a blog version of the Jerry Springer Show. Transfixed by the same awful fascination with which I have in times of self-destructive boredom watched adults self-mutilate on Springer’s show for the emotionally challenged,  I read this mutual exchange of abuse and recrimination, much of it overtly and covertly sexual, and laughed my head off. The Williamsons struggle with silly attempts to defend themselves against the irrational onslaughts of Ellis in outraged linguistic flight. Everybody knows Ellis can outdo anyone in a public brawl because unlike most of us, he has no boundaries. He will say anything.  And he does.

Against this floridity, David and Kristen splutter the kind of middle class indignation that can only be mocked, because of its mediocrity, and its utter failure to see beyond itself.  Far too much of it in some of his plays, unkind people may mutter, and not always satirical?

All in all I’d rather read Ellis than either of the Williamson’s, but only if I was water boarded into making a choice in the first place.

Things may look up. Then again they may not. I am waiting for the Rapture. I am steadfast. I have faith.

Bob Ellis: Oh, why can’t a woman be more like a man?

31 Dec

Bob Ellis is a very good writer. Like Christopher Hitchens, with whom Ellis enjoyed drinking privileges, one may not always agree with his content but his form is generally erudite and entertaining. Ellis’s review of the new film about Margaret Thatcher, “The Iron Lady”, published here at ABC The Drum, is no exception. Written with Bob’s unquenchable passion for language, it’s an eloquent review.

Unfortunately it also contains more than Ellis’s usual quota of reactionary misogynist crap, as do several of the comments he makes in response to his readers. Ellis manages to turn his review of a biopic which he feels should have been a political back room drama, into a thinking(?) bloke’s cri de couer that women ruined this movie. First of all by writing it, and second of all by not having the capacity for creating political back room drama to anything like the standard of that created by men.

While Ellis may have a point here, and political back room dramas (not always good ones) do indeed flow more easily from keyboards operated by male fingers, his explanation for this discrepancy is nothing short of insane. According to Bob, it’s because we’re female. That’s it. Our cunts govern our brains, to our everlasting detriment, and because we bleed we are “less good at disagreeing with ourselves” than are those of you who are possessed of hairy balls and pricks that produce semen (and political back room dramas) in glorious milky fountains. Sometimes.

The fact that women have not been allowed to participate in political back room life to anything like the extent and for anything like the period of time afforded to men, seems to have escaped Mr Ellis’s notice.

What is actually FAR more remarkable is that given the male domination of politics of all kinds, not just back room, there is such a paucity of good political drama available.I mean really, Ellis and those who agree with him, you’ve had centuries of experience and opportunity denied to us, in fact its only been in the last two that women have had any real input at all.

In spite of your total blokey domination of the political scene for all of human history, hardly any of you, comparatively speaking, have come up with political dramas that anyone will bother to remember. I could probably count them on my fingers and toes, plus another woman’s, and that doesn’t say much for thousands of years of male political domination, now does it?

Maybe there aren’t too many of you either who can “disagree with themselves” to the extent required for good back room political drama. Comparatively speaking. There’s a lot of male dross out there.

“The male impulse to power” Ellis claims, “is better understood, as a rule, by men.” I call bullshit, Ellis. There’s nobody understands the male impulse to power better than those whose lives are governed by it, whether they’re male or female. The male impulse to power is tragically generally NOT understood by the men who exercise it, understanding being of far less importance to such men than action, regardless of consequences. Indeed, understanding weakens this hegemonic masculinity.

The female impulse to power could be claimed to be equally misunderstood by men, usually because of the terror they experience when confronted by it. This impulse is increasingly channelled into hegemonic masculinity as more women take up influential political roles. None of this has anything to do with our cunts, and everything to do with the narrow biological imperatives imposed on us solely because we have them.

Ellis unforgivably imputes a creative intention to the writers of “The Iron Lady,” an intention that is in fact entirely his own, or would be if he’d been writing the script. Which he wasn’t. Maybe nobody asked him. How slack of them, considering he knew Maggie for three days, really really liked her legs, and was seduced by her breathless flirtatiousness. Ellis assumes it was the writers’ intention to create a back room political drama, in what could only ever be an imitative attempt to keep up with back room initiates like him. He then trashes the result, because in his book the attempt failed. He then extrapolates the trashing to the entire female sex, and says we can’t do it like they can. Because we’re women.

The more serious question here is why Ellis is compelled to frame so many of his arguments as gender wars, and more than usually stupid ones at that. A movie is not what he expects, or what he would have liked. Suddenly this is a statement about the inferiority of women, based entirely on our sex, without any context at all, political or otherwise.

Replace “women” with “Jews” or “Palestinians” or “Chinese” or “Germans.” Yes. It’s not pretty, is it.

Ellis and Nietzsche: let them sniff chairs

6 Jul

That ageing provocateur Bob Ellis, pictured here showing what Coke can really do to you, wrote a truly awful piece on the Drum yesterday to which on principle I will not link, basically arguing that feminism is responsible for the downfall by sex of many famous men from Oscar Wilde (???) to Dominique Strauss Kahn.

Heck, I have to link, it isn’t fair to talk about it otherwise.

The piece was almost universally howled down, and the ABC shut off the comments option at around three hundred and something, only the day after it was published.

What Ellis’s pleas for a more understanding and forgiving attitude to male desire did make me ponder, is how easily male public figures are brought down by their sexual activities, whether they’re caught playing away, sniffing chairs, exiting gay bars or cavorting in their underpants when one would wish them to be fully dressed. Though for Ellis to claim this has much to do with feminism is contestable, as there weren’t a lot of feminists braying for Oscar Wilde’s scalp, for example.

Usually these public figures are brought down by their male enemies who might very well employ some appropriate feminist rhetoric to make them look good and properly concerned about the women allegedly injured in the blokes’ peccadilloes (except in the case of Oscar Wilde and any other man brought undone by participation in gay sex or rumours of gay sex.)

What this says is that as a society we are apparently very uptight about the morals of influential men, or more likely there are forces at work who want us to think we are.

If a man is unfaithful to his wife, how does this affect his professional performance? The answer is we don’t know. Nobody’s done the studies. We make an assumption, based on current moral values about sex, fidelity and monogamy that if he’s deceiving his wife, he’s likely deceiving everybody else. This seems to me to be a slightly insane deduction. We all know how human beings can and do categorize, especially when sexual desire is at work in them.

Was Bill Clinton’s presidential performance changed for the worse as a consequence of letting Monica puff on his cigar, for example? (No, she didn’t inhale. They found the smoke on her frock.) Do we have the  right to judge a man’s whole life (or a woman’s for that matter, but sexual disgrace doesn’t seem to befall influential women to anything like the same extent) on the strength of his sexual behaviour?

Of course I’m only talking about non criminal situations. If  an influential man is found to have acted criminally in sexual matters, then that needs to be viewed as would any other criminal behaviour.

Ellis claims that a lot of good men are cut off at the balls because feminist wowsers can’t deal with their expression of their sexuality. Men have always been at the mercy of their desires, he claims, and everybody needs to cut them some slack if they Fall. High levels of testosterone go hand in hand with high levels of achievement, so there’s bound to be trouble.

There isn’t much to take away form Bob’s rave, except that it does remind me that the society in which we live seems to have a dominant moral view of sex as at best naughty, and at worst, really scary and requiring all kinds of societal controls, including marriage and monogamy. Repression is the price we pay for civilization. Give adolescents condoms and they’ll be at it in the aisles at school.

Any public figure who transgresses the dominant sexual morality runs the risk of being terminally banished, not because they’re particularly evil, or even a little bit bad, but because they’ve given their opponents a brilliant excuse to run them out of the game, under the guise of upholding society’s moral values.

While straying from one’s chosen partner is going to cause a lot of grief, does that make it immoral? If a man in a powerful position engages in a consensual sexual encounter with a woman with less power, is that an immoral act? Who is determining our moral values at this point in our history, how are they determining them, and to what purpose?

Or is there truth in Nietzsche’s claim that:

There are systems of morals which are meant to justify their author in the eyes of other people; other systems of morals are meant to tranquilize him, and make him self-satisfied; with other systems he wants to crucify and humble himself, with others he wishes to take revenge, with others to conceal himself, with others to glorify himself and gain superiority and distinction,–this system of morals helps its author to forget, that system makes him, or something of him, forgotten, many a moralist would like to exercise power and creative arbitrariness over mankind, many another, perhaps, Kant especially, gives us to understand by his morals that “what is estimable in me, is that I know how to obey–and with you it SHALL not be otherwise than with me!” In short, systems of morals are only a sign language of the emotions.”

Whatever the answer, it’s a pretty safe bet that it’s got very little to do with feminism, or even wowser feminism. Sorry, Bob. You blokes are on your own with this one.

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