Tag Archives: New Matilda

Scott Morrison to speak at religious homophobic conference

12 Apr

 

Eric Metaxas Protest

 

Twitter just alerted us to the news that Treasurer Scott Morrison will be speaking at the Australian Christian Lobby’s 2016 conference at the Wesley Centre in the Sydney CBD on Saturday, April 23.

This piece in New Matilda reveals that the conference star turn is one Eric Metaxas, a Christian who believes there are parallels between the failure of church groups to resist Nazism in the 1930s and the growing acceptance by liberal US Christians of LGBTQI people. Metaxas has also backed gay conversion therapy.

We already know the ACL and its spokesman Lyle Shelton have campaigned, successfully it seems, to have the Safe Schools program gutted. We also know that the ACL has an inordinate amount of influence over our governments, including that of atheist PM Julia Gillard, whom Jim Wallace persuaded to keep the school chaplaincy program.

Why are our politicians beholden to this minority group of fundamentalist extremists?

Also speaking at the conference are Miranda Devine, Noel Pearson and Dr Jeffrey J Ventrella, whom New Matilda describes thus: A Senior Counsel at the litigious Alliance Defending Freedom, Jeffery Ventrella argued in 2012 that the US government should divert funds from LGBTI health programs and instead spend the money convincing those in the communities to change their sexuality.

There’s no doubt in my mind that if Morrison speaks at the conference without challenging its homophobic slant, he is endorsing that perspective.

He is billed on the conference website as The Hon Scott Morrison MP, Treasurer of the Commonwealth of Australia, so we can assume from this he is appearing in his official capacity, and thus as a representative of the Turnbull government.

It is most alarming that the Treasurer of this country should support the extreme discriminatory views expressed by Metaxas and Ventrella. It’s extremely alarming that Morrison should represent the Turnbull government at a conference that seeks to disseminate homophobic perspectives.

There is probably an argument to be made that politicians, particularly those holding high office, ought not to publicly support any religious views in their official capacity. We are a secular country. Our governments are not vehicles for the furtherance of religious beliefs of any kind.

There is definitely an argument to be made that no politician and legislator should publicly support views that are contrary to our anti discrimination laws, such as those held by Metaxas and Ventralla.

As usual, I don’t support no platforming. I do support protest, and support for protesters if you can’t actually be there on the day.

 

Advertisements

New Matilda furore dangerously misses the point

10 Dec

Victim blaming

 

The point of the Jack Kilbride article published in New Matilda earlier this week, is that women are responsible for adjusting our behaviours so that we do not incite male aggression and violence against us.

The website has since published three reactions to Kilbride’s piece, one supporting him, one attacking him, and one likening Clementine Ford’s experience to that of Adam Goodes.

Obviously nobody has read this Guardian piece, titled Victim-blaming rampant in Australians’ attitudes towards violence against women – study.

Read it. Read it and don’t even bother talking to me if you haven’t read it, because when you’ve read it you will see everything that is wrong with Kilbride’s piece, and any opinion that supports his position.

Overwhelmingly, according to the study, in Australia women and girls are blamed for male aggression and violence towards us. Our tone, our appearance, our failure to pay attention to a male, our attitude, our provocation: we must have done something or not done something to make him do it.

It is sickening to read the attitudes of apparently “ordinary normal” people to women who dare to report and protest violence against us. If you’ve experienced these attitudes you’ll know it’s like being violated all over again. The accusatory questions addressed to victims of violence: why did you/didn’t you? You should have/you shouldn’t have. All making the victim the focus of reprimand and disapproval, placing the onus on her, and not the perpetrator.

What these victim-blaming attitudes do is enable violence against women in all its forms. In shifting the responsibility from perpetrators to victims, the former are relieved of the necessity and the responsibility of owning their violence, instead taking comfort in the erroneous assumption that they were provoked in some way or other into acting aggressively towards us.

Until these attitudes change, there will be no lessening of violence against women. The depth to which these attitudes inform our society is painfully apparent in Kilbride’s piece. I have no doubt he is a nice, well-meaning bloke who wants a better world. Victim blamers aren’t necessarily overtly hostile. Indeed, women who complain about their frustration with victims complaining are engaging in yet another form of victim blaming.

The question that most urgently needs to be asked and answered is, why do we find it so necessary to blame a victim?

 

Paedophilia and hyper-sexualisation: girls will be attacked because of what they’re wearing, right?

30 Oct

Bikini Barbie

 

A few days ago I read this piece in New Matilda by philosopher Dr Mark Manolopoulos on the coexistence of an accepted hyper-sexualistion of children, and strongly condemned paedophilia. The fact that the former is condoned while the latter is condemned suggests a societal hypocrisy that is shameful, is the crux of his argument.

Although Dr Manolopoulos stresses that he makes no correlation between the two, the fact that he situates their coexistence in the realm of the hypocritical and shameful strongly suggests that he assumes a connection of some kind. Without a connection there is no hypocrisy, and there isn’t any shame either.

The first question is one we’ve been debating on Sheep for a few years now: are children hyper-sexualised?

There is only one, extremely narrow representation of female sexuality that is imposed on young girls. The grotesque image heading this text is an example of an ideal of physical sexuality that promises gratification to any male who is attracted in spite of, or because of, its lack of subtlety.

It’s a mainstream wet dream. Consequently, many women strive to emulate the impossible plasticity of the Barbie doll, and some women inflict the same struggle on their daughters in a ghastly mother-daughter bonding that to this observer, does not speak of hyper-sexualisation as much as it does of a desperate desire to be desired, and for the daughters to vicariously gratify the adult woman’s need.

A man or a woman who looks at a child in “sexy” adult clothing and make up and thinks, gawd, she’s so sexy, has something terribly awry with their perceptions and desires. The child is still a child, albeit a dressed-up child, and the adult who cannot tell the difference between dress-ups and the real is sexualising the child rather than seeing the child, and needs urgent assistance.

Can anyone in their right mind really look at a dressed-up child and see her as a sex object?

How many mothers who dress their daughters “sexily” are actually pimping them out to paedophiles? Practically none, I’d guess.

There is no proven correlation between the manner in which young girls are dressed, and their vulnerability to paedophiles. If there was, Dr Manolopoulos might have an argument, but there isn’t, and he doesn’t. Quite apart from the fact that many victims of child sexual assault are boys, who aren’t dressed in anything other than ordinary clothes.

The implication of the doctor’s thesis is the same old same old: girls and women will be attacked because of what we’re wearing. Paedophiles aren’t responsible for their crimes: little girls looking “sexy” provoked them, they couldn’t resist, and their mothers are to blame.

His remedy is, yes you guessed it, ban things.

Personally, I wouldn’t choose to dress my daughter, if I had one, in a manner that is Barbie sexual, but then I don’t dress myself like that either, except once I was in a burlesque show and that was fun.

Blaming paedophilia, or any sexual assault at all on the so-called “hyper- sexualisation” of the victim is yet again shifting the responsibility from the perpetrator, where it belongs, to the victim, where it doesn’t. This is the most shameful hypocrisy society urgently needs to address, but how much easier to demand the banning of clothing and music videos.

We don’t get raped because we wiggle our hips, no matter what our age. We get raped because rapists rape us. How about society tells rapists not to do that, and leaves us to dress ourselves and our daughters however we wish, without having to fear for our safety?

Is Fairfax “Daily Life” having a laugh?

5 Apr

I just read this piece by Clementine Ford at the Fairfax “women’s business” Daily Life website. Ford’s piece is called “Stop telling women what to wear.” It’s worth a read.

But just look at what surrounds it. Net-A-Porter.com fashion ads. Advanced style icons. The best style on the street. Stockholm style. The look of the day sizzle reel. Search for all the latest fashions here. Daily style with fifty different fashion looks. The article boldly titled “Stop telling us what to wear” is embedded in more fashion advice than a woman can poke a stick at.

We’ll let them have their whinge, says Fairfax. But everyone knows what’s really important. Everyone knows they LOVE being told what they should wear so when they’ve finished reading the article and getting all riled up about the patriarchy controlling them,  they can just click on to any one of these options and CHOOSE A LOOK. Nobody’s telling them which look, for God’s sake. They have FREE CHOICE.

But wait! There’s more!  “Advanced style icons” features a 72-year-old model! We can look forward to being told what we should wear even into old age! That’s a relief. Even if I can’t remember the name for whatever, at least I’ll know how I should dress when I’m trying.

Truth is, I’m not a subscriber to the “patriarchy makes us do it” theory of victimisation, and there’s plenty of good female role models who don’t appear to be overly concerned about their appearance. We need to find out how they managed that, then teach our girls. However, the disregard for its content demonstrated by situating Ford’s article in the middle of a blitz of fashion advertising is interesting. Is Fairfax having a laugh?

I’m about to take off for a few days, venturing across the border into the cultural wasteland that Queensland has apparently become in the few days since Campbell Newman took office and axed the Premier’s Literary Awards. There’s an interesting piece here in New Matilda, in which Mark Fletcher argues that the axing is no loss.

Happy holidays, may your chocolate be good chocolate, and may you not eat more than is healthy for you. On the other hand, everyone needs to indulge now and again. Just make sure you are fashionably dressed when you throw up.  See you next week!

The Chocolate Shoe

Why I can’t write anything today

26 Oct

Bellagio Hotel and fountains

I knew I was heading for trouble when yesterday I said goodnight to my iPhone. I’m only mentioning this because my entire household threatened to leave comments on Sheep about it and I want to get in first.

Then at midnight, there were really scary thunderstorms. The whole house lit up with forked lightning and big noise. The Dog is terrified of thunderstorms and has to be talked through these events. For some reason it’s always me who ends up talking him through it, while everybody else cowers under their doonas.

But last night Mrs Chook appeared, all wrapped up in the luxurious white cotton robe she bought at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas a few years ago. She manifested in the doorway, momentarily illuminated by nature’s theatrics. I glimpsed her for one terrifying instant and then there was the thunder and then there was the darkness. I screamed and leapt out of bed, treading on the Dog who was cowering beside it. The dog howled and tried to get up, with his bad back leg hampering his progress. I fell and hit my head hard on the corner of the wardrobe. Then I cried. It was shambolic. I’m exhausted. I’ve had no sleep. There’s a big egg on my forehead. I’m sick of everybody and I need to find some new friends.

Re the cotton robe: these are supplied in the rooms at this hedonistic hotel. Some people wear them down to the pool. Mrs Chook fell in love with hers and expressed an intention to nick it. I yelled about that, seeing as it was my credit card being used to pay the bill, and she was shamed into going down to the lobby shop and buying her own.

Mrs Chook also insisted on wearing hers down to the pool, so I insisted on taking a later elevator so I wouldn’t be seen with her.

It’s my intention to write something serious later in the day, but first I have to go to my aerobics class, have coffee with a few people, and get iOS 5 on the iPhone so I can get into the iCloud, which is where I really want to be today.

In the meantime, New Matilda has this on how Chris Bowen lied about Malaysia.

And there’s always something interesting over at the Watermelon Blog, where David Horton gives an account of his latest contest with seabirds on Twitter.

And you have to read this in Slate about how Occupy Wall St is framed as an anti semitic movement.

See you later.

PS I just realised this is a post about nothing and I subconsciously stole that idea from Jerry Seinfeld. I hope this acknowledgment will forestall any litigation.

KanYe West, Melinda Tankard Reist, and the control of the representation of desire.

26 Feb

by Lucero Design via flickr

At Melinda Tankard Reist’s website underwear manufacturer Victoria’s Secret is under attack, two hapless tools from the Gold Coast trying to sell real estate using a woman in her undies are copping it, and oh no! Not that, still! Yes, the KanYe West Monster video clip, months after we all got into that epic tussle at the Drum, is still absorbing the Tank’s attention.

Last week MTR was described by Stephen Harrington at the Punch as “Australia’s Helen Lovejoy,” for her complaints about this video clip, as well as the “what about the children” rhetoric she invokes as an argument against just about everything.

(For those not familiar with the Simpsons, Helen Lovejoy is the ultra conservative wife of the local Christian minister whose catchcry is “But what about the children!”)

Melinda pours retributory scorn on Harrington here. The West video is, she claims, a “significant watershed in the de-humanisation of women.”

That’s a bit hyperbolic, in my opinion, given the on going, grave, and global abuses of women’s human rights that certainly do de-humanise those groups subjected to them.

The psychotherapists’ interpretations

At New Matilda, psychotherapist Zoe Krupke interprets the video clip from her professional perspective, and explains that violence such as is portrayed therein can be a consequence of “denial of personal weakness and fragility,” resulting in projection of these qualities onto others, in this case the strung-up, zombiefied and helpless women.

In other words, controlling others through violence allows the perpetrator to bury feelings of inadequacy and vulnerability, and replace them with an illusion of power.

All of which is true enough, but if you read the lyrics it’s clear that they are about nothing but West’s feelings of personal weakness and fragility; rage at perceived exploitation by the music industry, and women, rage at his admitted inability to behave in any way other than monstrous; identification with other monster figures, and a pathetic plea for someone to love him.

by Maximillian Dinslage via flickr

None of which are expressed in ways that are likely to get him any of the things he seeks, but rather are an explosion of fury, frustration, and self-mockery.

I’m a monster
no good blood-sucker
everybody know I’m a
muthaf*cking monster
None of you n*ggas know the carnage I’ve seen
I still hear fiends scream in my dream…

And so on. The thoughts and feelings of a disturbed being, a rapper having a laugh, or both, depending on your perspective.

Feminists aren’t the only ones with opinions

You've Been Dickrolled. by David Jackmanson via flickr

 

What is certain (I’m sorry, at this point I can’t help myself, the only certainty is the certainty of uncertainty, thank you so much for the philosophical insight, Tony the Tool, another of the known unknown unknowns littering the political landscape, and pictured here damn near naked) is that while a feminist analysis of the work is worthwhile, it’s far from being the only possible analysis. The video and lyrics are complex, with racial references as well as those mentioned above, and to attempt to have it censored because it “dehumanises” women is, in my opinion, the kind of sadly unimaginative reaction we’ve come to expect from some media feminists these days.

What the video clip certainly is: the concretisation of one rapper’s subjective vision of his world. If it weren’t as popular as it is, there would be no need for further discussion. But it is tremendously popular, (listed in Rolling Stone’s best 30 albums of 2010) and has received critical acclaim from that magazine’s  informed commentators

These accolades suggest West’s Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasies strike a chord, so to speak with millions of others. It may not be the kind of chord MTR wants struck, whatever that is, and I can’t figure that out. What do these women want? Nevertheless, it’s popularity alone makes it culturally significant, and worthy of examination.

Not that I’m suggesting popularity is the only criterium for cultural significance because clearly it isn’t. The bizarre and complex vision represented in this piece lifts it out of the mundane.

It isn’t everybody’s vision of the world. Then again, neither is a man nailed to a cross, blood seeping out of his wounds and a hole pierced in his side everybody’s vision of a healthy religious experience. John the Baptist’s bloody head on a silver platter doesn’t cut it as inspiring religious commentary for all of us either.

I have a strong visceral response against most moves to censor. No matter what you think of the aesthetic quality or otherwise of the KanYe West video, it is the expression of an artist’s vision.  Are we to live in a world bereft of all dark and difficult imagery? Are we to censor all representations of emotions and passions because they make some people uncomfortable?

Cindy and that sexy thong. by Dave Lee via flickr

 

When women choose to earn their living from their bodies

Women who model for Victoria’s Secret do so of their own free will, and are well paid for their work. Likewise the women who appeared in the West clip as simulated corpses and zombies.

The luscious woman in the Gold Coast real estate agents’ ad was also, presumably, paid for her work. Many women with lovely bodies enjoy using them as a source of income. Many other women and men enjoy looking at those bodies. Is this really “objectifying” women? Or is it merely admiring, and maybe sometimes envying their beauty?

I’m not likely to meet any of them. They are likely to remain only one-dimensional images to me. So why do I have any responsibility at all to see them as anything else? Why is it wrong for me to take pleasure their beauty? How am I offending them?

If I were to treat the women and men around me as one dimensional, then I would be objectifying and insulting them. But like most people, I know the difference between an image and a fully fleshed human being.

There are some who try to make the people in their lives more closely resemble a one-dimensional image they’ve seen on screen or in a magazine. Their problems, and the problems of their partners, won’t be solved by banning the images. I’d suggest their difficulties are deep, and if no images are available they’ll manifest in some other equally unfortunate way.

The desire to be desired

The desire to be desired is a normal human need. Practically everyone at some time wants, indeed needs, to bathe in the glow of somebody’s desiring gaze. But desire and its expression and representation are intensely personal matters. Lacy panties or cottontails, stilettos or bare feet, cleavage or buttoned up modesty – there’s a place for everything, but not in the world of Melinda Tankard Reist. In that world there’s only one possibility for the expression and representation of desire, and that’s hers.

Baffled by her negativity, I’m as yet entirely unable to ascertain what her vision actually consists of. Though she unrelentingly castigates us for our unhealthily fetishistic and voyeuristic gaze, I’ve never once heard MTR give an example of how she thinks female sexuality ought to be represented and expressed.

We should pretend we aren’t sexual beings, and deny that we love to look at each other, even though much of the time society requires us to do that with a furtive gaze?

We should pretend that erotic zones are not of intense interest to us, starting when we emerge from the latency period laughing ourselves silly at jokes about underpants?

If every publicly revealed body is an exploited and objectified body, are we all to cover up to protect ourselves from a gaze that MTR would have us believe can only be interpreted as exploitative and objectifying?

The battle for the control of the representation of desire

by Breezer, via flickr

 

MTR is fighting a two fronted battle for  the right to determine not only what we should look at, but how we should look at it. She wants to be inside our heads, telling us how to see things. Where she see exploitation, so must we.

She wants to control the representation and expression of human desire. She wants to control the interpretation of the gaze.

MTR seeks to superimpose her moral vision upon everyone else, a vision that cannot allow the possibility of a benign desiring gaze, a vision that insists the desiring gaze is always dangerous, unless it is confined to encounters between to consenting adults (preferably married) in the privacy of their own homes. Once desire is provoked outside of the marriage bed, her thinking goes, it must inevitably result in damage of some kind. I have long suspected this to be at the heart of MTR’s crusades. Now she’s proved it, by taking on Victoria’s Secret.

In her vision, the free flow of desire in the world, far from being a driving creative force, is miserably reduced to a threat to women.

This is why MTR does not offer her vision of an acceptable public representation of female sexuality. There isn’t one in her moral framework.

In this, she’s a bit like the followers of Sharia law.

But feminists fought for freedom

MTR and her followers justify their desire to impose their desire, by dressing their arguments up as feminist rhetoric, and indeed there are some conjunctions.

But feminists fought for freedom. If a woman chooses to use her body to earn her living then it’s nobody’s business but hers. Melinda Tankard Reist makes an unfortunate conflation between free choice and exploitation. That exploitation and abuse of women exists is not at issue. However, it does nobody any good to confuse the two, and in the process attempt to shame women who are making a free choice, and attempt to deprive them of that right. That’s an anti feminist move, in my book.

The argument that we’re brainwashed to think we must do our best to look like underwear models or we’re inadequate, holds some water. There’s a great deal to critique in fashion magazines that manipulate insecurities in order to get us to go out and buy something to address those perceived failings.

On the other hand, one of MTR’s fellow campaigners, journalist and researcher Nina Funnell, whose tirade against the KanYe West video can be read here recently took part in a Cosmopolitan (October 2010) competition to find the year’s most influential woman. All the competitors were young, and had the Cosmo look, including killer heels, and sexy masks. There were obviously initial selection criteria that had everything to do with the contestant’s physical appearance. Only after those requirements were met, were the women’s career and personal achievements considered.

There were no older women in the contest, baffling, given that older women are often excellent mentors and influential figures.

In my book, an outrageous and insidious abuse and objectification of women right on our doorstep, sending the message that how you look matters much more than what you do and are, from a magazine read by thousands of young Australian women. Yet not a  murmur was raised in the MTR camp.

To wrap it up…

The Gold Coast tools are pretty funny, I thought when I watched their video clip on Melinda’s website. Their ad is so over the top as to be bordering on a spoof of using sex to sell. It wouldn’t make me want to buy their penthouse, so in that sense it’s an advertising failure.

Corset, Paris 1902. Unknown via Wikimedia

Corset, Paris 1902. Unknown, via Wikimedia

As for Victoria’s Secret well, good luck with that one. While the sight of stunning women in lacy thongs and balconette bras might not be everyone’s idea of beautiful or sexy, it is currently a dominant cultural expression of those qualities. Once the sight of an ankle did it for us, and who can forget the practically (in my opinion) only good bit in Jane Campion’s The Piano, when Harvey Keitel caressed Holly Hunter’s leg through a hole in her stocking? Aaaargh, the recollection can make me shiver with delight even now.

%d bloggers like this: