Tag Archives: qanda

How to deal with being raped: two incompatible points of view.

7 Mar

 

On ABC Qanda last night, Icelandic writer Thordis Elva spoke about how she had, over a seventeen year period, communicated with and finally forgiven Australian Tom Stranger, who raped her when she was sixteen and he was eighteen.

Stranger raped Elva as she lay literally paralytic from the effects of alcohol, in her own bed. He’d taken her home from a party, where friends were so concerned they’d wanted to call for medical assistance. Stranger undertook to protect and watch over her until she recovered. The rape took place over two hours, and so damaged Elva she was unable to walk properly for some time.

The two have since given a TED talk on their many email encounters, which were initiated by Elva and culminated in a physical meeting in Cape Town. Stranger remarks on the suitability of this country for their purpose, given the truth and reconciliation project of the Mandela government that sought to address crimes against humanity during decades of apartheid in South Africa, employing a process that involved admissions of guilt, and subsequent forgiveness by victims.

Stranger and Elva have written a book about their long experience of seeking a resolution to their victim/perpetrator relationship. They finally reached a point where Stranger was able to take responsibility for his actions, and name himself as a rapist. This ownership of his behaviour has allowed Elva to find relief from her feelings of hatred, rage and desire for revenge.

While I don’t find it at all difficult to imagine the relief and liberation I’d feel if a perpetrator admitted his crimes against me, I do find it difficult to imagine wanting a relationship with him that would see us co-authoring a book, and travelling the world together, sharing a stage.

As Elva notes, and I agree, forgiveness is something victims do for ourselves, not for the perpetrator. However, what I couldn’t extrapolate from the TED talk or Qanda, or interviews I’ve read, is how she moved emotionally and intellectually from regarding Stranger as an assailant, to interacting with him as a colleague.

Or perhaps not so much how, as why? Releasing myself from dark feelings and desires so as to get on with my life is both sensible and healthy. But keeping the rapist in my life?

I can forgive the perpetrator for my own sake, but that doesn’t mean I ever want to see him again.

Also on the panel last night was Josephine Cashman, Indigenous lawyer and business woman. Ms Cashman’s take on rape is situated at the opposite end of the continuum, and she was rather dismissive of Elva’s story. Ms Cashman stated unequivocally that sexual assault should be dealt with by the legal system, women must go to the police, the perpetrator must be charged, tried, convicted and incarcerated.

Which in theory sounds quite logical, however, as this must-read article by Jane Gilmour points out, that apparently logical process is rarely the outcome of sexual assault allegations. The legal system can be brutal to victims of sexual assault, and conviction rates are notoriously low.

I admit to feeling not a little creeped out by Mr Stranger when I watched the TED talk. I was unable to get past my knowledge of him as a man who had cruelly  and opportunistically raped an entirely helpless woman, over a two-hour period. I didn’t really care what he had to say about his later realisation, self-evident to me, that at the time he’d been more concerned about his wants than Ms Elva’s needs and safety.

In the spirit of truth and reconciliation I tried quite hard to find a point of contact with Stranger. All I felt was dizzy and sick. Yes, I can imagine the miserable, criminal psychopathy of a man who rapes a very ill and barely conscious woman he’s promised to care for. Yes, I can pity it. I just don’t want it or him anywhere near my life.

It seems to me on reflection, that both Ms Cashman and Ms Elva are unrealistic. For very many victims of sexual violence and other violence against women, engaging with the perpetrator is the very last thing we want to do. Taking the legal option is often described as being raped all over again, and it is disingenuous of Ms Cashman to pose that option as a logical process that results in justice. It isn’t, and more often than not, there’s no justice to be had.

It is possible to achieve a state of comparative peace or forgiveness without any involvement with the perpetrator, and preferably with help and support from others.

A woman is forever changed by the experience of sexual assault, and it’s impossible to recover the self who existed before the attack. This is just one of the many losses caused by rape: the loss of who I was before.

I don’t think there’s such a thing as “closure” or “resolution.” There is only finding a way to live your life as fully as you can, in spite of what has happened to you. There’s no formula for this. There’s no prescription.

It’s the victim’s task, and how unfair it seems, to find her way through the hell of rape. It can take a lifetime. And nobody can or should tell a woman how she must do it. If you don’t do it Ms Cashman or Ms Elva’s way, you haven’t failed. You’ve succeeded in searching for and finding your own way to take back your life. And you might have to do it more than once.

 

 

 

 

Let them eat toast

13 May

 

Class War

 

By now, you’ve probably all heard the tale of Duncan Storrer, the man on $20,000 a year who asked assistant treasurer Kelly O’Dwyer on Qanda why people much wealthier than him are getting tax breaks and he isn’t.

Let them eat toast, replied O’Dwyer, but those mofos can cost up to $6000 so two good people began a fund-raising campaign for Mr Storrer to get himself a toaster bigger than his very kitchen because this is class warfare and it’s time to pick your feckin side.

Newscorpse immediately launched a savage attack against Duncan, despatching Princess Caroline Overington to find Duncan’s estranged son who when found had nothing good to say about his dad so obviously, dumbo, Duncan had no right to ask his question because his son hates him. No, I’m not linking to Overington’s piece of trash.

Chris (doglover) Kenny’s son  has also publicly proclaimed his hatred for his father but Newscorpse doesn’t see that as an impediment to Kenny’s authenticity. Apparently earning over $80,000 a year restores any authenticity one might lose as a consequence of your children hating you.

(There are in fact very many impediments to Kenny’s authenticity: his son’s hatred of him is not one of them.)

According to another Newscorpse Princess, Rita Panhini and some of her followers, the ABC needs to be pilloried for allowing Duncan entry to Qanda in the first place, and no government minister should appear on that show again until the audience is subject to an income test.

Newscorpse then attacked Duncan for not paying any net tax, overlooking the fact that Newscorpse pays no net tax either but  that’s OK because Newscorpse has a $6000 toaster it uses to burn to a feckin crisp poor people who ask inconvenient questions so it’s exempted from tax which is only for poor people anyway who have to pay it as punishment for being poor because the doctrine of predestination teaches (read this, it explains a great deal about the LNP) that if God wants you to be rich you’ll be rich and if you aren’t it’s because you’ve pissed him off so NO TOASTER FOR YOU.

Not yet satisfied with the zillion buckets of their own stinking piss they’d poured over Duncan, Newscorpse discovered his rap sheet and plastered Duncan’s offences all over the Herald Sun’s front pages today. Duncan has a record, ergo Duncan may not ask a question on Qanda about income tax.

Yes. This is our country.

Let us not pay attention to the entirely legitimate question Duncan asked, a question many millions of us would dearly love to have answered by Treasurer Scott Morrison or, if we have no other choice, Kelly (let them eat toast) O’Dwyer. Let us instead go through the questioner’s trash cans in a mammoth effort to discredit and invalidate the perfectly legitimate question  he is perfectly entitled to ask from his seat in the Qanda audience upon which he is entirely entitled to settle his bum, even if he only earns $20,000 a year, because last time I looked, asking questions didn’t have a means test attached to it.

But wait. There’s more. Newscorpse chief political editor at one of its many sordid publications, Ms Samantha Maiden, will later this month appear in court to be sentenced for drunk driving and leading police not once but twice on a drunken car chase along the Hume Highway and surrounds. In spite of being found guilty of all charges, Ms Maiden has continued to write her regular column, indeed, in one of her first tweets after appearing in court she called a respected economist a dickhead, rather a reckless judgement from an individual who’d just been found guilty of drink driving and attempting to escape not one, but two police pursuits.

For reasons not immediately apparent to this writer, Ms Maiden’s criminal activities do not invalidate her opinions, while Duncan’s do.

Why have the frothing Newscorpse contingent gone after $20,000 a year Duncan like dogs in an advanced stage of rabies?  Because Duncan’s question threatened them so profoundly they have to try kill him stone dead, or at the very least, silence him and anyone like him, forever. This is a message from the LNP to the country: Stick your neck out and we’ll set our backers onto you, your family and your life till there’s nothing left of any of it. We will exterminate you.

This is a class war. Make no mistake about it.

In case you still have doubts, yesterday Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull took flight into the exclusive “gentleman’s only” Athanaeum Club for lunch, after being confronted by single mother, Melinda, on the matter of how hard it is raising her children after family tax cuts.  As the Huff Post reports it:

The visit [to the exclusive club] comes after the PM addressed a Business Women and Working Mothers Forum in Sydney on Wednesday, and not long after he was confronted on the street by a woman named Melinda who claimed his policies were hurting families. 

Class war. Gird thy loins.

 

 

Probing the anal

26 Aug

 

In a pig's arse

In a pig’s arse

 

On Monday night’s Qanda, somebody in the ABC’s employ allowed a tweet with the hash tag #abbottlovesanal to appear onscreen with Annabel Crabb, and the Twitterati haven’t stopped cacking ourselves since.

The situation was only exacerbated by Malcolm Turnbull who protested too much, methinks, at the allegedly inappropriate nature of the hash tag.

It was pointed out on Twitter more than once that Abbott can’t expect to have it both ways (lol). After all, he has cut the ABC’s budget to an alarming degree, and it must be very difficult to stretch meagre funding to cover censorship of Qanda tweets. Annabel Crabb then revealed her disappointment that the guilty tweep had misspelled her name, and had surely meant to write #abbottlovesannabel. ABC managing director Mark Scott issued another abject apology to the Prime Minister, thus ensuring the scandal an extended life. A creative type photo shopped an image of Abbott and Christopher Pyne, languid with post-coital bliss and naked under the Australian flag. Relief was widely expressed: at last we know the reason for the PM’s peculiar gait, and questions were raised about butt plugs.

Scott Morrison attempted a diversion, posting an image of an Irish pilot-boat in the Irish Sea, to which was added the caption, Border Force One. He claimed the craft was being used to convey himself and the PM around the Torres Strait. I tweeted my disbelief, and the manager of the Minister’s Twitter account, employed by the taxpayer, promptly blocked me. The attempted distraction, genuinely inappropriate, tasteless and hubristically arrogant, failed dismally, and Morrison himself became the target of social media mirth. They simply do not learn, these people, do they?

But it’s worth unpacking (sorry) the reasons anal sex was at the root (sorry) of all that mirth. The most unpleasant explanation is that it’s (wrongly) associated primarily with homosexual practices therefore the joke has homophobic origins. Anal sex in heterosexual relationships is not uncommonly portrayed as forced and undesirable: an act intended to degrade a woman. To anally penetrate a man is to feminize him, and for a man to welcome anal penetration is an indicator of his lack of masculinity. These are common cultural assumptions about anal sex, and they all contribute to the reasons why the #abbotlovesanal hash tag works as a source of widespread mirth.

The alliteration helps as well.

The psychoanalytic theory of anal retention also bears a mention. Freud’s anal retentive personality displays character traits similar to many apparent in our Prime Minister’s demeanour, such as stubbornness, a compulsion for control, repetitive speech, infantile desires for the security of institutionalised hierarchical structures such as the military, the Catholic church, and the police. These traits have their origins in conflicts experienced during toilet training, and in the PM’s case, could account for classic Freudian slips such as his misspeak on the suppository of wisdom.

A little deconstruction of the #abbottlovesanal hash tag reveals its complexity, and perhaps that is the fundamental (sorry) reason it’s turned out to be such a rich source of wit and pants-wetting jollity. The best jokes are the ones with many layers, the deceptively simple, the multiple meanings initially hidden.

Then of course there is the most obvious explanation: our Prime Minister commands no respect, and nothing delights us quite as much as making an arse of him.

Oh, and don’t forget, he did say he’d sell that arse to get the job…

 

 

ABC TV Qanda excludes Indigenous women yet again

4 Mar

 

Adventures in Democracy

 

ABC TV panel show Qanda will mark International Women’s Day in its March 6 program with a panel consisting entirely of women, and hosted not by the urbane Tony Jones, but by Kitchen Cabinet’s Annabel Crabb.

The panel consists of Julie Bishop, American Roxanne Gay, Professor of English at Purdue University; Holly Kramer, CEO of Best and Less; Germaine Greer, “feminist icon” etc. and Yassmin Abdel-Magied, founder of Youth Without Borders, an organisation focused on enabling young people to work together for the implementation of positive change within their communities. 

Indigenous women are not represented on this panel.

As was noted in the recent Qanda panel on domestic violence, no Indigenous women were invited to participate in that either, although Antoinette Braybrook, CEO of the Aboriginal Family Violence Prevention and Legal Service Victoria, was allegedly asked by producers if she could recommend an Indigenous man to appear on the show.

The exclusion of Indigenous women from the national broadcaster’s celebration of International Women’s Day reveals again the depth of racism and apartheid  in which this country is so thoroughly steeped it is normalised, and unremarked.

There is no possible excuse for this exclusion. It is absolutely shameful.

If you are moved to ask Qanda why Indigenous women have been excluded from their IWD panel you can do that here. You could also invite the producers to get really adventurous in democracy, and adopt the practice of  inclusion.

You could also remind the ABC that Indigenous women and men pay taxes, and it is their ABC as much as it is any other citizen’s of this country.

I also wish they would stop wheeling out Germaine Greer as our “feminist icon.” I don’t know what a feminist icon is, but I do know Greer hasn’t said anything interesting for a long time though other women have, including Indigenous women.

This woman won’t be watching.

 

 

 

 

 

Men. This is what you can do for us.

24 Feb

 

keep-calm-and-respect-women-37

The increasing tension provoked by men participating in public discussions about family violence is serving only to distract us from our focus on the topic.

This excellent piece by Amy Gray in The Guardian in which she analyses the problematics of a dominantly male panel on ABC TV’s Qanda last night (unfortunately titled “Family Violence Special”) affirms my assertion and I urge you to read it.

Denying anyone a voice is not my thing, often to my own disadvantage and at times almost ruin, but on this topic, at this stage, I don’t think men on panels are doing us much good at all.

I speak only for myself, and when I see that a panel on family violence, perpetrated by far more men than women, is a panel actually dominated by men, my question is WTF?

Followed by, I’m tuning out because there is nothing men have to say on this topic that I am ready and willing to hear at this point. That doesn’t mean I don’t like you, respect you and in some instances, love you. It means you need to step away because we need our moment, like we need the air we breathe.

I want the issue handled publicly by women, and there are thousands of women in this country who have the most extraordinary insight, expertise and personal experience to keep a thousand panels going for a thousand and one nights.

If I was a man I can’t imagine fronting up to such a gig and thinking my point of view counted for very much at all in that setting.

Addressing reasons why men are violent towards women and children is of course fundamental to prevention. Perhaps this is a topic that could sustain a panel all of its own, and not be conflated with the rare opportunity for the primary victims and survivors of family violence and their advocates to speak publicly on the topic.

I am likely going to cop all kinds of shit for saying this, but what I ask of men is that you focus your attention on other men, and vacate the space, just quietly leave the space of public discussion such as last night’s Qanda, for women. This is what you can do for us.

I know not all men hit women and children, and I know it’s offensive to some men to be lumped in with the hitters. But what I say to you is your sense of offence is nothing compared to us being hit, so don’t ask us to deal with it, and don’t expect us to listen to it because we can’t, and there’s no reason why we should.

We cannot stop violent men making non violent men look and feel bad. You have to do that yourselves.

Women need our moment. We need it like the air we breathe. You can do this for us. Respect.

 

 

 

Behrendt, Bess Price, and Bolt. And adios from the Diaper Fox

15 Apr

“I watched a show where a guy had sex with a horse and I’m sure it was less offensive than Bess Price.”

Larissa Behrendt

So tweeted Larissa Behrendt, Professor of Law and Indigenous Studies at the University of Technology, Sydney, about remarks made by Bess Price, Chair of the Northern Territory Indigenous Affairs Advisory Council, on ABC’s qanda, Monday April 11.

Behrendt and Price disagree on the NT intervention implemented by John Howard in 2007, and Price expressed her support of the policy on Monday night.

Marcia Langton has now taken Behrendt to task for her tweet, framing it as a betrayal by a sophisticated urban Aboriginal woman of her bush sisters, and as an unprecedented public insult directed by a younger Aboriginal woman at an elder.

In a further twist, Behrendt is the principal litigant in current action against

Bess Price

columnist Andrew Bolt, who, it is alleged, indulged in racial vilification of Behrendt and other Aboriginals in a piece in which he questioned the right of what Bess Price calls “white blackfellas” to identify as Aboriginal. The case has provoked vigorous debate about the parameters of the right to free speech.

Oh my. This is why I don’t tweet anything, except the titles of posts. It’s taken many years for me to learn that putting my foot in my open mouth doesn’t have to be a default position, as was suggested to me on more than one occasion by a husband. Tweeting can only be trouble for a fool such as I, and given the stories, for many others who hotly squirm long after after reckless Twitter moments are over. Blogging is big enough risk.

Bolt published his views in a newspaper, and Behrendt thought she was only tweeting a friend, so in that sense comparisons are weak. However, if one considers the spirit of the content of both communications, there are un-nerving similarities. Contempt, disregard, mockery, denigration, insult, efforts to invalidate the other, inability to deal with opposing points of view; intolerance, prejudice, and  hatred.

Nothing more than you read in the comments on any blog on any day. We are, on the whole, an un-evolved lot.

Price is apparently consulting lawyers about the tweeted slur. Behrendt may yet find herself in Bolt’s shoes. What a time to have to leave the country, but leave I must!

Talking about slurs: how I came to be known as the Diaper Fox.

Diaper Fox

Some years ago a grandson of mine (growing up in the US, hence diaper) out of nowhere one morning took to calling me the Diaper Fox. At the time I was complaining about changing his little brother’s diaper while we discussed how we needed a fox to help us get rid of the jackrabbits that hop under the back fence from the desert and eat the lettuces. These two superficially unconnected issues became linked in his imagination, and I became Diaper Fox.

The name has stuck, and now everybody uses it. On the phone it’s when are you coming over, Diaper Fox, and will you bring me a toy crocodile, a sarong, a koala (real) a cool surfer t-shirt, and Vegemite!! while the littlest talking child sings out in the background “Diaper Fox Grandma! Diaper Fox Grandma!”

So on Monday I’m off to hold this gang of four scallywags in my arms again.

These kids are the best antidote I know to the beltings and bruisings of the adult world and though I always come home exhausted in body, I’m replenished in spirit. Children and dogs. They do it for me every time. I just wish I could persuade their parents to come home so I don’t have to suffer the indignities and dangers of long haul travel – last time our Qantas flight ran out of fuel (???) between LA and Brisbane and had to divert to Noumea. The time before it was water they ran out of, and everybody was asked to try not to pee. When we landed the stampede at the LAX dunnies was life threatening.

Adios, friends, be well and lively, and will see you again in a few weeks.

Gang of four Scallywags

Kev’s new best friend; Latham the Loomer, and Dear Prudence

5 Apr
Kevin Rudd on Novembre 2005.

Image via Wikipedia

All the Foreign Minister, former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd had to do was sit back and let Deputy Leader of the Opposition and Shadow Foreign Minister Julie Bishop do it for him.

Dump Gillard in it, that is.

An aroused and indignant Bishop, glittering eyes made famous by The Chaser boys (remember her staring contest with the garden gnome?) strafing panel and audience alike, passionately retold to an entranced crowd the circumstances that brought about Kev’s disastrous dip in the polls when as PM he backed down from the ETS.

This backdown, Bishop reminded us, was entirely due to Gillard and Wayne Swan persuading Kev to relinquish his greatest moral challenge of all time, probably on purpose so they’d have an excuse for declaring him a total loser as far as the public was concerned, a menace to the ALP‘s chances of re election, and best removed from the highest office.

That move gave the men who now have faces what they needed to chuck out a first term PM, and replace him with Australia’s First Hollow Lady.

Throughout Bishop’s retelling, Kev remained stoic, his features clouded with sorrow and pain, albeit mitigated by reflection.  Earlier, the Foreign Minister had most engagingly accepted full responsibility for what he now admits was a grave error in judgement. He might have been wrongly, even maliciously advised, but when the chips were down, he was the PM and the final decision was his to make.

Bishop’s death stare is scary, and no wonder the garden gnome fell off its table and shattered into a hundred pieces. I felt momentary sympathy for Tony Jones and American Ambassador Bleich seated either side of her  last night, on the occasions she spun round in her seat to burn through their brains with her laser gaze. Does she have a problem with her peripheral vision, I wondered out loud to my household, or is it that her powers only work when her stare is directed in a straight line?

A few in Cabinet Kev revealed, coyly resisting all Tony Jones’s efforts to provoke him into naming names, wanted the ETS killed for once and for all, and this morning on Radio National Breakfast, journalist Lenore Taylor reckoned Gillard was one of them.

Oooeeer – the First Hollow Lady gets even more closely aligned with expediency rather than morality.

I enjoyed seeing Kev’s dial again. I like his grin. He can be very likeable but he’s a complex bloke. During his brief sojourn as PM I found him at times extremely irritating especially when he apparently descended into a sleep deprived mania, just like a very young child who will not give in to the need to rest, and becomes unbearably obnoxious as a consequence.

However, he seems to have learned from that to nap, and take food and water.

Kev will always have charisma as a result of what they did to him, a fact none of the men who now have faces seem to have considered  before they dumped him. He can’t help but look far more interesting than just about anybody else in the ALP. In the morality stakes, he’s a zillion points ahead of our First Hollow Lady. His admission last night that he’d blown it with his great moral challenge only adds to the impression of a politician capable of sincere reflection, a rare beast indeed, except when they’ve aged and long left office.

He’s found a way to deal with the humiliation heaped upon him that is acceptable. The wry shrug, the laughing off, the live and learn attitude hints at an emotional intelligence sadly lacking in just about everybody else, and it seems to be sincere. He doesn’t hide the pain, but he looks as if he’s come to terms with it and is probably all the better for the experience.

But that’s not to overlook the calculated little bomb he did drop on the matter of who wanted to kill the ETS, a little bomb that will give the Opposition plenty of return ammunition for a while as they take every opportunity to point out that these would-be-killers are still there, and what does that mean, and who are they, and how can we trust anyone in that government?

Kev does make Gillard look both bad and boring, and that’s an unacceptable combination. If you’re going to be bad, you have an obligation to be interesting with it.

Speaking of which, I don’t know why anybody bothers listening to that Mark Latham whose ridiculous attack on Gillard’s child free choice renders anything else he might have to say  hardly worth listening to. Latham has no respect for anybody’s personal space, emotional and physical. This was concretely demonstrated when he loomed into the Prime Minister in a public place and asked stupid questions,and prior to that, loomed into John Howard as he attempted to enter a room Latham was leaving. He’s a loomer. He looms. it’s not attractive. He should give it up.

Prue Goward by publik15 via flickr

Then there’s Dear Prudence. Prue Goward, recently appointed NSW Minister for Families, whatever that is, has taken a nasty swipe at radio personality Jackie O for the manner in which she fed her baby.

Apparently Jackie O gave the child a bottle while simultaneously walking across a pedestrian crossing, an action Goward likened to the famous Michael Jackson moment when he dangled his little son over a balcony in Germany and subsequently earned global contempt for his fathering skills.

Why this is a concern for the Minister for Families remains a mystery to me. An over zealous commitment to her new portfolio? Is she going to focus on perceived child abuse by the rich and famous? If the mother had been a working class woman would Goward have even blinked her mascara-ed lashes?

I’m glad she wasn’t in the nursery when once, in a sleep deprived state similar to those experienced by the former PM, I accidentally stuck my fingers in the wrong jar and pasted my baby boy’s bits with Vicks Vapour Rub instead of nappy rash cream.

Soon to become a dad himself for the first time, he looked at me stunned, speechless and quite judgmentally, I thought, when I recently confessed this transgression. Too late I realised my mistake. Now I probably won’t be allowed anywhere near the new baby, but at least we know the Vicks didn’t do its daddy any damage.

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