Tag Archives: minority rights

Welcome to the first DUFC of 2017 (#104)

Well technically it’s posts relating to feminism from December 2016, but let’s celebrate the end of that dumpster fire of a year and hope that we can find the strength and love to fight the creeping fascism around our region and the world for this year.  May all our favourite celebrities, friends and family members live at least another 5+ years and we get all the cuddly animal love that we want.

If you enjoy this collection of feminist+ posts from around Australia and New Zealand AND think it might be cool to host yourself, please volunteer.  Hosting is actually quite easy, I and other people will send you quite a few blog posts for inclusion, and all you need is a bit of time to list them and a blog in which to include them.  Some of us might even loan you our blogs if you don’t have one of your own, but are interested in putting one of these carnivals together.  We can talk about that later.  Information is available here on how to volunteer.

Without further volunteers the carnival, which has been going for a long time, will fail, so please form an orderly queue and volunteer.  It’s fun, interesting, and not a lot of work.  Volunteers are needed from the end of this month (January 2016) onwards.

Thanks to Chally, Ana, Mary and Jessica for sending through submissions for this month.

To the carnival!

LGBTIQ+

The ACL were fire bombed, and then they weren’t and Chrys Stevenson wrote about it at the Stirrer, “ACL Perverting The Truth“:

Shelton blamed left-wing politicians and activists for inciting the ‘attack’. Our sin? Accurately describing an organisation which dedicates  millions of dollars and the vast majority of its time towards attacking the LGBTIQ community as a ‘hate group’.

What has since transpired is that the ACL’s building was not “rammed”. The vehicle appears to have been parked neatly outside in a parking bay.

Nor was it ‘attacked’. After speaking to the driver and his family, Federal Police confirmed the incident was neither politically, religiously,  nor ideologically motivated.

“Cartoonist” Bill Leak attempted to draw yet another cartoon vilifying the LGBTIQ+ community in Australia, and it made little sense.  Rebecca Shaw attempted to explain it to us at SBS, “A lesbian tries to figure out what the heck Bill Leak’s latest cartoon is about“:

Ah yes. Get it? Perfectly clear. You see everyone, there is a gay boat. I would say ‘gay cruise’ because that is much more funny and clever, but I highly doubt Bill Leak knows about cruising, considering the only depiction of gay men he seems to know is based entirely on the Gimp from Pulp Fiction.

Tyrone Unsworth suicided in November 2016 and Rebecca Shaw penned this thoughtful post some days later. “Tyrone.“:

There have been my own words, and all of the words from people in my community, voices blending into a chorus of rising up and shouting out. Not as one, because they have come from every perspective you can imagine, but all with a similar pursuit. A diverse community forced to reason, goad, justify, explain, bargain, plead, protest and demand that they simply be given the freedom to live as they are. A community full of people who have had to fight to be allowed to live. Not live as in Laugh, Love, Live. Fight to literally live. To survive in a world that has made it difficult, if not often impossible, to exist in. And with each concession, with each tiny step toward the place we should have already been from the start, with each ‘victory’, we have had to keep fighting, mired by the world around us.

Lucinda Horrocks shares oral histories of the Gay Liberation Movement in 1970s Melbourne in the Culture Victoria exhibition, Out of the Closets, Into the Streets, “Out of the Closets: A homosexual history of Melbourne“:

So to understand what was at stake for lesbians and gays to take to the streets, we need to cast ourselves back into an earlier mindset. If you were queer, Melbourne before Gay Lib was an intolerant world. ‘If we found ourselves catapulted back to the 1950s it would be kind of a nightmare,’ says Dr Graham Willett, historian and author of Living Out Loud – a history of gay and lesbian activism in Australia. As Graham explained when we interviewed him for our project, while a camp scene (the term ‘gay’ was not used before the 1970s) had flourished in Melbourne since at least the 1920s, it was hidden, coded and discreet. ‘Mostly what [gay and lesbian] people had to put up with was the discrimination, the sense that they were disgusting in the eyes of lots of people or somehow flawed’ says Graham.

Feminism

Chris Kelly, Chancellor of Massey University, said some very sexist things and then didn’t quite apologise, and then resigned.  Stephanie Rodgers has all the detail at Boots Theory, “Massey Chancellor: women graduates only worth 40% of a real veterinarian“:

Does this actually need unpacking? Are we actually on the cusp of 2017 and I have to spell out why it’s so insulting, small-minded and frankly bizarre to be write off women’s professional abilities and value because they might have babies?

What about women who don’t want to have kids? What about women who enjoy more practical study than theoretical? What about women who don’t just go into veterinary science because (as implied further on in that godawful article) they love puppies and kittens and ickle babby wabbits?

Natalie Kon-Yu and Enza Gandolfo recently attended a conference and the plenary speaker was incredibly sexist, “Embedded misogyny: the academic erasure of women“:

Outside Natalie was joined by several other academics who had quietly walked out of address, and some who were too smart to go in in the first place. The academics Natalie spoke to included men and women from several different ethnic backgrounds. No-one could believe that at a conference in a creative field in Australia in 2016, a plenary speaker could be so blind to gender (and to race, for that matter – but that’s a whole other paper).

The world lost many great people in 2016, including Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds.  Anna wrote about them both on Hoyden About Town, “2016 Hoydens: Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher“:

Instead of doing my own inadequate round-up of commentary on Carrie in her role as General Leia in the Star Wars verse, I suggest heading over to The Mary Sue to browse through their terrific series of articles. Most people posting early footage of Debbie have chosen Good Morning from Singing in the Rain, which I freely admit is irresistible, but we must remember what a long-term, all-round star of the golden age she was, so I have put something more obscure but no less joyful below. Though people think of them both first as actresses, they also gave us a model of the possibility of a textured, mercurial yet utterly solid relationship between mother and daughter (plenty of re-watchings of Postcards From the Edge going on around the place this weekend), and Carrie was an absolute lion in the crusade to make it acceptable and understandable to live a rich life while negotiating mental illness.

At Flip That Script, they’re dreaming of a feminist Christmas, “Women: mothers, sisters, aunties, and grandmothers. Here is your ‘not to do list’ this silly season.“:

It is not a women’s job. We are not natural at it. We don’t necessarily ‘like it’. Social conditioning is a thing.

Women (girls) are taught to run events and functions, and men (boys) are taught to enjoy them. Christmas is no exception. Christmas is the peak. Sure, everyone needs to chill out more on Christmas. To slow down, pull back on the consumerism, and to just have fun times with friends and family. But everyone has to eat, and everyone has to get together in the first place – and those things require careful, considered planning. Logistics are hard work.

Tangerina writes about how women already do lots of unpaid labour that asking us to volunteer to raise the profile of the unpaid labour and the pay gap seems a little off, “Female Dancers Needed“:

But volunteering and ‘joining movements’ are one in the same. We have always given generously of ourselves and our skills, we’ve always handheld our friends and family through emotional labour, hit the streets with pamphlets, cared for our elderly, chaired meetings, hosted (and fed) fundraisers and then got up and went to our lower paid jobs afterwards. And the level of generosity and corresponding pay gap only gets higher and wider for Women of Colour.

Ana Stevenson reflects on how Ms. Magazine disrupted the masculinist language associated with the Christmas season in 1972, ““Peace on Earth Good Will to People”: Holiday Reflections on Ms. Magazine“:

The message itself was controversial. Taking the deep red and forest green associated with Christmas and tweaking these colours to hot pink and fluorescent green, it simultaneously reframed a phrase with foundations in Christianity and emotive resonance surrounding the holiday season.

The phrase Ms. sought to redefine is derived from the King James Bible. Luke 2:14 relates the annunciation to the shepherds, an episode in the Nativity of Jesus. After an angel tells of the coming of the Messiah, more angels appear, saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”

Politics

Celeste Liddle writes at Eureka Street about discovering her grandmother was a member of the stolen generations, and how Aboriginal workers have been exploited forever, “Aboriginal workers still slipping through the gaps“:

It would be nice to think that free Aboriginal labour is firmly rooted in the shame of the past and as a nation, we have moved forward. Yet in 2015, the Federal Government decided to roll out the ‘Community Development Program’ (CDP) in remote areas of the country. The CDP is a remote Work for the Dole program and has been widely condemned; not just by the Australian Council of Trade Unions but also by recent Jobs Australia report which shows how harmful it is. People engaged in the Community Development Program are required to work 25 hours per week year round for only their Centrelink payments and if they fail to comply, they can be cut off. Reports show a community-wide decline in purchase and consumption of fresh food as participants are cut off from their payments leaving other impoverished family members more financially-stretched.

Luddite Journo at The Hand Mirror writes about the disturbing research that suggests that “science” can predict whether children are going to grow up to be criminals, “Three year olds, “science” and burdening society“:

The problem here is not that people without enough are a burden on society.  It is that we have structured our society so that many people do not have enough but the rich can thrive.  Finding ways to blame three year olds for intergenerational, entrenched poverty and racism is a quite the side-step, even for the most vicious of benefit bashers.  I wonder how well Professor Poulton’s test predicts white collar crime?  I’m sure it takes into account the institutional racism which study after study has identified in our criminal legal system.  And I’m certain he found a way to pay attention to the fact that the children of rich people may not need to access social services in the same way because they are well-protected by the wealth of their parents.

Brigitte Lewis examins the roots and impact of feminist digital activism, both online and off, “Feminist Digital Activism: The revolution is being streamed, snapped and tweeted“:

While the internet is undoubtedly a cesspool of sexual harassment, it is also the site of digital activism. With the creation of digital activism, a feminist and female-led revolution, once pronounced dead – has been reignited. As Gil Scot-Heron famously said, “The Revolution Will Not be Televised” (1970); somewhere, on the internet, it will be streamed, photographed, tweeted and then turned into a meme.

Mary over at Puzzling.org writes a continuation of a series, “Moving to Australia as a progressive in 2016: discrimination, violence, and activism“, this time covering Indigenous dispossession and oppression, refugee rights, worker’s rights, racial equality and anti-racism, LGBTI rights, women’s rights, disability rights, and sex work.

2016 in review and looking forward to 2017

Andi Buchanan’s year in review.

Ariane wrote two pieces for the end of 2016, “Word for 2017” and “Happy New Year!

Tigtog at Hoyden About Town wrote, “Open Looking Forward to 2017 Thread

It almost fits, blue milk wrote about what December looks like in her part of Australia, “What December 2016 looks like (in the subtropics)

Reproductive Health and Choice

After Catherine Deveny had thoughts about men opting out of pregnancy, blue milk posted, “On the idea that men should be able to ‘opt out’of parenthood“:

Men can ‘opt out’ already. Don’t have sex with women, get a vasectomy, take lots and lots of responsibility for contraception. Oh.. you mean not that kind of “control over reproductive choices”.

Cristy Clark wrote about Catherine Deveny’s article at Overland, “Deveny’s ‘financial abortion’ is a form of coercive control“:

But if ‘pro-life’ campaigners were genuinely concerned with the preservation of life, they would do more than fight to deny women access to abortion. They would spend their time actively working to create an environment in which women are genuinely supported to carry their pregnancies to term. Instead, these anti-choice campaigners are the exact same people who lobby for legal and economic policies that create poverty and ongoing systematic disadvantage for mothers (particularly in terms of workplace and public life participation).

So what does motivate anti-choice activists? The available evidence seems to indicate they are more concerned with controlling women and undermining their bodily autonomy – a conclusion supported by their participation in denying basic human rights to pregnant and breastfeeding mothers. Examples of this include the widespread denial of birth rights (such as free and informed consent prior to invasive medical procedures) and the pervasive shaming and exclusion of breastfeeding women from public spaces.

Emmaline Matagi writes at Spinoff, “Positive: A mother’s abortion story“:

My stomach drops. I haven’t even realised I am seven weeks late. I’ve been so busy with life; three kids, teaching full-time, studying for a Masters part-time, being a wife, a volunteer, a woman. When was my last period? Last month? The month before? I don’t even know.

My health history is a complicated one: three children, three emergency cesarean sections, two resuscitations and a nine-week premature baby.

I tell my husband the news. He’s devastated. “There’s no way we can do this, we just cant lose you,” he says. “Look at how sick you are! Look at you, this is happening all over again we just cant lose you!” His words stick in my mind for days. And so I finally get up the nerve to see a doctor.

Families

Emily at Emily Writes, feels guilty about abandoning her blog given she’s been writing elsewhere.  But she has some snippets for us, “Assorted tales from a stairway covered in shoes“:

Oh poor neglected blog. Now that I have abandoned you for a better, brighter, more scintillating and stimulating lover (The Spinoff Parents) I barely see you anymore.

I keep trying to come back to you but I don’t have much to say here. I have been noting things down, not particularly interesting, but they’re things I can assure you.

Race, racism and representation

Emmaline Matagi writes at Spinoff, “Representation matters: A mother talks about what Moana means to her and her daughter“:

As a mother to a six-year-old daughter of the Pacific I can honestly say that this film will stay with my child. She won’t ever forget it. Nor will I let her. Moana is a young brown girl, with long, thick black hair, thick brown lips, big brown eyes, thick black eyebrows and a love for the ocean and her family. I see my daughter in Moana. More importantly however, is that my daughter sees herself in Moana! Why is that important? Because never before in her short six years of life or my longer 30 years have we Pacific people ever been able to say we truly see ourselves as the hero of an animated movie – EVER. Moana represented her, her family, her people, her ocean and her story. The history of our ancestors (albeit a tiny glimpse into our amazing history) is our history nonetheless and it’s on the big screen now. My children, like many others, adore Disney movies. They love watching the animation, love the stories, and they love getting dressed up like the characters and pretending they are in those fantasy worlds. Moana is different for them. This time they got to see themselves and they don’t have to dress up, they don’t have to pretend they are in a fantasy world, this is their world.

Book Reviews

Stephanie at No Award is attempting to justify buying a book.  I also need to justify buying this book because it aligns with my research interests, “book review: asia on tour: exploring the rise of Asian tourism“:

This is an academic book; however it’s very accessible. Even the chapters that include ethnographic studies and academic definitions are lacking in dense language. Published in 2009 it’s a little old, but as an introduction to talking about Asian tourism in Asia, and post-colonial travel regionally, it’s a great one. It’s also a good introduction to tourism studies in general, if that’s a thing you’ve been vaguely interested in but never tackled before.

Violence *All posts in this section contain trigger warnings for violence*

Rosie Dalton writes about the concerning study which showed that women were more likely to tolerate stalking like behaviour after watching rom-coms, “New Study Shows Rom Coms Make Us More Tolerant of ‘Stalking Myths’“:

Only in the land of romantic comedies are stalking narratives somehow portrayed as less dangerous than they actually are. Take There’s Something About Mary, for example, where the creepiness of Ben Stiller hiring a private detective to track down his high school crush is somehow glossed over. These kinds of subtle narratives in rom coms can have real world impacts though, as a new study by gender and sexuality expert Julia R Lippman, of the University of Michigan has found. According to The Guardian, Lippman’s report I Did It Because I Never Stopped Loving You found that rom coms featuring men engaging in stalker-like behaviour can make women more likely to tolerate obsessiveness from prospective romantic partners.

Vera Mackie explores women’s experiences of militarised sexual abuse during the Asia-Pacific War, and the survivors’ campaign for acknowledgement by the Japanese government, “The Grandmother and the Girl“.

Lisa Durnian examines patricide prosecutions where children killed their mothers’ abusers, demonstrating how it is not just the immediate victims of violence who suffer in abusive household, ““Mum will be safe now”: Prosecuting children who kill violent men“.

Dianne Hall discusses how gendered familial roles in early modern Europe institutionalised family violence and influenced its treatment in the courts, “Domestic violence has a history: Early modern family violence“.

Joanne McEwan delves into legal responses to wife beating in eighteenth-century England, and its resonance with contemporary discourses, “The legacy of eighteenth-century wife beating“.

Jane Freeland looks at the spirit of survival women demonstrated in the face of domestic violence at other women’s shelters – this time in Cold War Germany, “Writing their stories: Women’s survivorship and the history of domestic abuse in divided Germany“.

Mary Tomsic explores cinematic representations of physical and sexual violence against women in We Aim to Please, a 1970s Australian feminist film, “We Aim to Please: Cinematic activism, sex and violence“.

Lisa Featherstone reveals the controversies that dogged the campaign to criminalise marital rape in Australia in the 1970s and 1980s, “Rape in marriage: Why was it so hard to criminalise sexual violence?“.

Senthorun Raj discusses how pop culture stereotypes about homosexuality enable bureaucratic violence towards refugees, “Are you really gay enough to be a refugee?“:

What do Madonna, Oscar Wilde, Greco-Roman wrestling, clubbing at Stonewall, and having a lot of sex have in common? Not much really, other than the fact that Australian refugee decisions are saturated with these stereotypes – stereotypes that have been used to determine whether a person is “genuinely” gay and subject to a “well-founded fear of persecution.” As a gay man who some politicians would class as “elite” because I live in the inner city suburb of Sydney and prefer investing in books than mortgages, I could tell you very little about Oscar Wilde’s literary contributions. Yet, for same-sex attracted refugees, the demand to prove “gay identity” is no joke. The bureaucratic violence perpetrated against queers who seek refuge leaves more to be desired.

Jessica Hammond writes, “Runner’s Guide to Rape Culture” where she rightly picks apart an author’s “safety tips” on how women can  avoid being assaulted while running.

Related Posts:

Invasion Day

I’m a white Australian.  I live a much easier life, thanks to my skin colour, than my Indigenous brothers and sisters in Australia.  I grew up sheltered from much of the truth about how Colonialism and racism resulted in the decimation of Indigenous Australians.  I was taught that Australia Day was both a public holiday, and a day to celebrate being Australian.

And I slowly learnt better.

Today I don’t celebrate Australia Day.  I listen to the Triple J Hottest 100, I celebrate my anniversary with Scott, and I read about what Indigenous Australians are thinking about or doing today.  I appreciate a public holiday, but we can have public holidays any time of year.  There is nothing to celebrate in the invasion of this country and the resulting decimation of the Indigenous inhabitants. Today should be a day of mourning.

And enough about me, read some great writing from Indigenous people about racism, Invasion Day, and survival.

Pekeri Ruska who is hosting IndigenousX this week, writes for The Guardian:

The true nature of the Frontier Wars is rarely taught in schools and most our massacre sites go unrecognised by the mainstream. Yet Anzac Day is made a public holiday so the country can commemorate the sacrifices of those who fought a foreign war on foreign shores. This is a prime example of white Australia’s denial and guilt. Maybe it’s just too close to home, too unsettling for them to acknowledge that the land they stand on was stolen, drenched in the blood and suffering of our Aboriginal ancestors. The longer they exclude or sugarcoat the whole truth from the curriculum, the longer non-Indigenous Australians will remain ignorant.

Australians can take responsibility for what their ancestors did and maybe find a true meaning to their identity by firstly encouraging the teaching of real history pre- and post-1788. They could go further to understand that not all Aboriginal people want to be recognised in the Australian constitution, and that voting in any election on this issue is an assertion of their privilege.

Luke Pearson (whom I hope that one day I will actually get to meet and buy a drink/meal for) writes at IndigenousX (which he also founded):

If we ever do change the date of Australia Day, it will most likely just become another such ‘moment’.

What words can I write that will have an impact on this? What ‘moment’ can I create for people that will make you realise that ‘moments’ are not just worthless, they can actually be dangerous? What can I say to make people want to give up the benefits of white privilege, and the good feeling that comes from being a good white saviour? How can I help make people see that the reason I write is not for them to have a moment, but in the hopes that it will help bring about change?

But how deep down the rabbit hole are people willing to go? All those people who signed the pledge or who tweet the slogan ‘Racism it stops with me’, how willing are they to make that slogan a reality? What happens when they are told that doesn’t just mean standing up to other people but might also mean taking a look inside themselves? This is what we will need to happen to bring truth the idea that ‘it stops with me’. Because at the moment, from where I am sitting, it never stops.

The awesome Celeste Liddle writes at NITV:

This reinforcement of Australia Day as a day of jingoistic pride was, in my view, a product of the Howard years. In his time as Prime Minister, John Howard would frequently reiterate need to show pride in this country while labelling the attempts by Indigenous activists and historians to bring the true nature of colonisation to the public’s attention as being “black armband” views – just focussed on negatives.

As a person who takes a strong stance in favour of the negotiation of a treaty, I therefore tend to not be too supportive of the calls of many Aboriginal people and our allies to change the date of Australia Day so it doesn’t commemorate the invasion. In my reckoning, until there is a treaty there will be no other date to celebrate the birth of this nation on. And to be honest, I’ve never really understood why non-Indigenous Australia wouldn’t want the opportunity to start afresh. The 26th of January also commemorates the day some of the poorest and most desperate citizens of Great Britain were dumped on the shore of a land halfway across the world to undertake years of cruel labour as punishment for stealing loaves of bread. The opportunity to commemorate the day we come to the table, as equals, and negotiate the way this country moves forward, would indeed make me proud of this country and our ability to work toward a better future. Until then, I much prefer the idea of Invasion Day remaining a day of Indigenous protest and the assertion of sovereignty.

The answer is also not for white Australia to include more Aboriginal people in Australia Day events. It’s not to get more Aboriginal people to sing the National Anthem in public. It’s not to include a welcome to country ceremony before ignoring what this ceremony means. It’s not to misappropriate our iconography as a way of selling your meat. Doing all this merely erases our history and assimilates our identity.

Stan Grant’s speech about racism and the Australian Dream, from a debate in 2015 hosted by The Ethics Centre:

I love a sunburned country, a land of sweeping plains, of rugged mountain ranges.

It reminds me that my people were killed on those plains. We were shot on those plains, disease ravaged us on those plains.

I come from those plains. I come from a people west of the Blue Mountains, the Wiradjuri people, where in the 1820’s, the soldiers and settlers waged a war of extermination against my people. Yes, a war of extermination! That was the language used at the time. Go to the Sydney Gazette and look it up and read about it. Martial law was declared and my people could be shot on sight. Those rugged mountain ranges, my people, women and children were herded over those ranges to their deaths.

 

Related Posts:

Marriage Equality – again

So last night the Liberal Party and the National Party held a meeting for over 5 hours to discuss whether or not the party would allow a free conscience vote (which still would have not gotten the required numbers over the line) or whether they’d all vote as a block and therefore and vote No.  The block voting won (in case you didn’t know).

Not enough has been said about this debate taking over 5 hours in my opinion.  Over 5 hours.

I hate meetings at the best of times, finding them an incredible waste of time when I could be doing the stuff that is discussed, but this meeting went FOR OVER 5 HOURS.  That’s 5 hours of impassioned debate about an issue that is important (not the most important, but still).  An issue that is capturing the world’s attention.  An issue that reduces the active amount of discrimination in the world.  A few years ago, we would have been lucky if that party room discussion went for an hour.

Just this year Ireland, the United States of America and Mexico have allowed same-sex marriage, adding to a long list of countries in which it is already legal.  The referendum in Ireland with the majority of voters voting yes, and the Supreme Court decision in the USA have been big drivers to get marriage equality back into Parliamentary debate here in Australia, and it’s not going anywhere soon

I’m grateful that some LNP politicians have my back on at least one issue that can affect me.  I’m not generally the type to support the LNP (queer, left leaning woman who is big on social justice), but it’s good to see that some of the party has actively thought about what is good for Australia and Australians and decided that if over 70% of Australians support marriage equality, then perhaps that’s something that should be recognised.

Now I’m going to take a small detour here and talk about some bigoted arsehats who have weighed in on this debate in one for or another recently.  This is where the post is going to be long, but will hopefully still make sense.  Ok, I’m ranting, leave me my ranting space.

New South Wales Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells (Liberal)

Fierravanti-Wells told the party room yesterday that:

…she believed opinion polls showing majority support for legalising same-sex marriage did not reflect the views of a “silent majority” of Australian voters.

She said changing the marriage laws – or being seen to condone change – would cost the Coalition seats at the next election.

The senator referred to an analysis she had undertaken which identified marginal seats with high percentages of religious voters.

A copy of the analysis, dated July 3, lists 14 seats across New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria and Tasmania with relatively high proportions of Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican, Muslim or Buddhist voters or overseas-born voters from ethnic communities likely to oppose same-sex marriage.

In a written foreword to her analysis, Senator Fierravanti-Wells, the parliamentary secretary for social services, also responsible for multicultural affairs, says she believes there is strong opposition among culturally and religiously diverse communities to changing the marriage laws.

Ok, let’s just start with a majority says X, so a “silent majority” says Y.  I’m not convinced that Fierravanti-Wells does maths.  Also, I’m not convinced that Fierravanti-Wells has actually spoken to anyone of these people she’s using to support her argument against marriage equality.  She claims that:

She notes that faith leaders from across Australia had written to the Government in June, objecting to any change.

Her analysis includes the western Sydney seat of Barton, the Liberals’ most marginal seat, held by Liberal Nickolas Varvaris on 50.31 per cent.

She says Barton has nearly eight times the proportion of eastern Orthodox constituents than the national average, four times the proportion of Muslims, a higher-than-average Greek population and fewer who said they had “no religion”.

Other western Sydney marginal seats included are Reid, Werriwa, Banks and Parramatta.

The analysis says Parramatta, held by Labor’s Julie Owens on 50.57 per cent, is 25 per cent Catholic, has 10 times the national average of voters identifying as Hindu, four times the rate identifying as Islamic and higher-than-average percentages of those born in India and Lebanon.

The first issue here is that Faith Leaders don’t represent the believes and feelings of their flocks.  I know they claim they do, but you get the Catholic and some Anglican faith leaders in Australia being bigoted arsehats, and most Catholics and Anglicans actually supporting marriage equality.  Not knowing a large number of Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims or Orthodox people, I cannot claim to know what they do and do not support, however I do note that the majority of Australians support marriage equality, and that is something that really should be taken into account.

I know I’ve said that majority of Australians more than once tonight, so let’s get that data for you.  From a report in The Age in July 2015:

Support among Australians for same-sex marriage and for a conscience vote in the Coalition has reached an all-time high, according to a survey by the Liberal Party’s own pollster.

A Crosby Textor poll, commissioned by Australian Marriage Equality, has found that 72 per cent of Australians want same-sex marriage legalised, while 77 per cent think Coalition MPs should be granted a conscience vote.

The survey by the Liberal Party’s national pollster finds support for marriage equality is increasing among Australians, up from 65 per cent in a Nielsen poll last August.

It shows opposition to same-sex marriage has collapsed, with just one in five Australians or 21 per cent opposed, marking Parliament as increasingly out of step with the views of the majority of Australians.

According to the poll, support for same-sex marriage is now higher in Australia than it was in any other country, including New Zealand and Great Britain, when overseas parliaments have passed marriage equality laws.

And if you want something a little more recent than July this year, from Australian Marriage Equality (August 2015):

Marriage equality advocates have welcomed a new poll showing almost 60% of Australians believe marriage equality is a medium to high priority.

The poll, conducted for anti-marriage equality group, the Marriage Alliance, found that marriage equality is, on average, the 13th most important issue for Australians, about the same level of priority given to agriculture, taxation and asylum seekers.

59% of poll respondents said marriage equality is a priority, made up of 24% who said marriage equality it is a high priority and 35% said it is a medium priority. Only 39% said it is low a priority.

So even when organisations against marriage equality are attempting to poll against marriage equality, they can’t do it.

Charitably I could believe that Fierravanti-Wells really did care about the numbers and how the LNP will poll in the next election, but didn’t actually consider what she was saying – which effectively is that all religious and culturally diverse people are happy to discriminate against same-sex attracted people when it comes to marriage (or in short-hand that they are bigots).  I’m positive that this is not the case.

Kevin Donnelly

I’ve blogged about Donnelly before, he has a track record of being racist, and now he’s adding homophobic to the list.  I haven’t even read the article, I didn’t need to after seeing this headline, “Abbott made the right call on same-sex marriage“.

Donnelly tries to be clever and epically fails:

This is especially the case as many of the arguments in favour of same-sex marriage are flawed. Those wanting change argue that defining marriage as involving a man and a woman discriminates against lesbians and homosexuals.

Ignored is that there are many examples where society and the law allow discrimination to occur. Women-only gyms and clubs are allowed to exclude men and those under 18 are not allowed to view X-rated films and videos.

Yes, defining marriage as only involving a man and a woman discriminates against gay men, lesbian women, bisexual people and trans people.  It’s ok Donnelly, I’m glad you forgot some of us.  The less you think about us the better off we’ll all be.

Ignored is the fact that Donnelly doesn’t understand that not all discrimination is harmful, and that children are to be protected against things that harm them.  Let’s work on the first one.  Women only gyms.  Women are far more likely to be sexually assaulted by men than the other way around.  Therefore in the interest of safety, women only gyms exist, where men are discriminated against to protect women.  When men stop assaulting women at the current rates, then it is possible the need for women only gyms will go away.

Marriage equality harms no one, and the discrimination against same-sex coupled people who’d like to marry harms them.

Children and pornography.  I don’t even with this one Donnelly.  We have lots of laws to protect children, we have laws about who they can have sex with, we have laws about them having to go to school, we have laws about the mandatory reporting of abuse, we have laws that can result in them being removed from their homes.  It is believed that pornography will harm children, therefore children cannot see pornography.  I note that Donnelly isn’t complaining about any other laws relating to children, so I wonder why that is.

Many on the cultural left, often the strongest supporters of same-sex marriage, also argue in favour of positive discrimination where they believe some people should be treated differently to others.

Because Donnelly doesn’t understand the difference between equality and justice/equity, I give you the following image:

First image – three people are standing on boxes looking over a fence to watch a baseball game. The tallest and second tallest can see over the fence. The shortest cannot. Second image – Three people are watching a baseball game over a fence. The tallest can see over the fence. The second tallest is standing on one box to see over the fence. The shortest is standing on two boxes to see over the fence.

This is why we suggest that some people should be treated more positively – because they are coming from further behind that others.  Many people are coming from further behind than Kevin Donnelly, as we’re not all straight, white men with a platform to be vilely racist and homophobic.

Also ignored, for all intents and purposes, is that gays and lesbians already have the same rights as de-facto heterosexual couples.

Also ignored by Donnelly is that not all same-sex attracted people want to marry, but denying those who do is harmful.  Sure we can live in defacto relationships, and we do right now, but that isn’t the same as marriage.  If it was, then we wouldn’t be having this debate.

A second strategy employed by same-sex marriage advocates is to argue that anyone who disagrees is bigoted and homophobic. Wrong. The reality is that many of those opposed to redefining marriage do so for sound and carefully thought through reasons.

I love this comment, it is a comment I see all the time.  “I’m not bigoted and homophobic, I’ve thought about some really good reasons why I oppose granting rights to same-sex attracted people that would do me no harm whatsoever.”  I am also yet to meet a good argument against same-sex marriage that doesn’t in the end reduce down to either “my religion is homophobic, not me”, or “because gay sex is icky” which are both homophobic.

As Andrew P Street wrote, “And if you are, in fact, a bigot, then it shouldn’t bother you that people are accurately assessing your shortcomings as a human being on the basis of the things you believe, based on the stuff you say.”  Donnelly continues:

When arguing that the definition of marriage must be changed to include same-sex couples, advocates often argue that the love between a man and a man and a woman and a woman is the same as that experienced by heterosexuals.

From a biological point of view, such is clearly not the case. Such is the physiology involved in procreation, and not withstanding the availability of surrogacy and in vitro fertilisation, that it requires a man and a woman. The optimum environment in which to raise a child also involves a mother and a father.

Oh yeah, I forgot the third way, the reproductive argument.  If two people of the same gender can’t have children, their relationship is worth less than those that can, because apparently all we’re about is having children.  Let’s not look at the treatment of those children by heterosexual people. Let’s especially not look at the really positive outcomes for children raised by same-sex parents.  Let’s leave Donnelly to his little bigoted world where LGBTI people are worse people than heterosexual people.  He’s wrong of course, we’re pretty fucking awesome.

Michael Jensen

This piece is from May and I’ve been putting off on blogging about it because it’s so full of complete and utter rubbish that it isn’t really worth mentioning – except that it’s another white, Christian man telling us that he isn’t really a bigot for not supporting marriage equality, “I oppose same-sex marriage (and no, I’m not a bigot)“:

How could anyone stand opposed? The terms in which the pro-marriage redefinition case are stated make it sound as inevitable as the dawn, and as unstoppable as the tide. And these same terms make opposing a redefinition of marriage sound primitive and even barbaric. There are those in favour of change, we are told, and then there are the bigots.

I do wonder how anyone can stand opposed without actually being a bigot.

It is not even the case that “all the surveys say Australians want it” is a sufficient argument. The surveys say that Australians want capital punishment. Wisely, our politicians don’t listen to surveys on that issue (and I agree with them). They should exercise leadership, not follow opinion.

I’ve seen this argument before and it’s an interesting one.  It’s particularly fascinating that the death penalty is brought into an argument, to contrast something where no one gets hurt.  On one side you have the violent end of someone’s life, on the other side you have two consenting adults committing to their relationship in front of family and friends, and having the Government, and other bodies that need to, recognising that relationship legally.  It’s not like they are even remotely in the same class of things.

Should the Australian Government listen to the people in all things?  Should the Australian Government take the lead on some things so that the better interest is served?  Wouldn’t it be best if the Australian Government was abolitionist on the death penalty and in support of marriage equality?  The Australian Government should be about the best human rights that we can grant to each other.  That includes being abolitionist on the death penalty and in support of marriage equality.  There we go, I solved that one for you.

In fact, it may be the case that offering supposedly “equal” treatment is incoherent, as it is in this case. It is crucial to notice that the proposed revision of marriage laws involves exactly that: a revision of marriage. In order to offer the status of marriage to couples of the same sex, the very meaning of marriage has to be changed. In which case, what same-sex couples will have will not be the same as what differently sexed couples now have.

Except that marriage has changed multiple times over millennia and the world didn’t end.  Men used to marry their property, which then begat more property which they’d consent to have married off to other men, unless some of that property were male, in which case they’d become human whenever the age of adulthood was at that time.  Men now marry women, and both people have to consent to the marriage.  Men used to also marry lots of property, they’d have multiple property all over the place, sometimes it mattered if the property consented to more property being married, sometimes it didn’t.  It used to be that you couldn’t marry without your parents’ consent, and most marriages were arranged.

If marriage can change to be what it is now, then it can change to include same-sex couples who want to marry.

This is where Bill Shorten again misunderstands what marriage is. As we now understand it, marriage is not merely the expression of a love people have for each other. It is, or is intended as, a life-long union between two people who exemplify the biological duality of the human race, with the openness to welcoming children into the world. Even when children do not arrive, the differentiated twoness of marriage indicates its inherent structure.

Blah, blah, blah – see argument about children above. Also, to erase other gendered people from the conversation is an arse move Mr Jensen.

Look I really don’t understand why so many people are frightened of marriage equality.  If it creates something new, something that currently discriminated people can engage in, what is the problem with that?  Do so many of these bigots believe that the moment marriage equality is granted those who would have otherwise married someone of the opposite sex will suddenly rush out and go and marry someone of the same sex?  Do they think that being queer is contagious and it’s only the shame of being queer, and the inability to marry that keeps opposite sex marriage going?  Do they think that suddenly everyone will stop having children, or start ignoring children, and suddenly there won’t be a human race any more?

There are FAR more important issues facing the earth today than marriage equality.  Granting marriage equality makes the lives of many of my queer siblings better.  It does not save the environment, it does not refreeze the glaciers, it does not bring endangered creatures back from the brink of extinction.  It certainly doesn’t help asylum seekers or bring peace to nations at war.  It does make a difference though, and that difference is one that has been made in many other places already and it helps.

Granting marriage equality helps, and granting it means that people like me can marry if they want.  Families can recognise the relationships of their children and parents.  Relationships that until relatively recently were looked at as deviant and different can instead be shown to be as valued as the opposite sex relationships they are surrounded by.  It means that children who are growing up queer know that if they wish to get married and be like their friends in opposite sex relationships, they can.  Think of the children, think of those who you’re denying the ability to be normal.

 

 

Related Posts:

Welcome to the 65th Down Under Feminist Carnival!

Hello and welcome to the September 2013 edition of the Down Under Feminist Carnival.  Big thanks go to Chally for organising the DUFC (you can nominate to host it yourself here), and to Mary, Scarlett, Claire,  Jo, Chally and Kathryn for submitting posts.  This collection covers posts by Australian and New Zealander feminists written in the month of September.

Politics

Well Australia had the election we had to have in September, which means that with a new Government and a new Prime Minister, many posts were written.

No Place for Sheep wrote, “Why I can’t call Abbott a cunt“:

The cunt, pink, plump, shiny with the juices of desire, is a thing of exquisite beauty, hidden from view, shown only to the chosen one, repository of what is most astonishing in human sexuality. When I think of the cunt, the last association I make with it is, yes, you’ve guessed right, Tony Abbott.

No Place for Sheep also wrote, “Why I don’t care that there’s only one woman in cabinet.“:

It is, of course, shameful that in 2013 a first world country should be led by a man with such biologically determinist attitudes. I don’t believe for a minute there aren’t women in the LNP as worthy and capable as many of the men Abbott has chosen. However, I have no  sympathy and no respect for any of them, if they are content to stand silently by while their leader treats them with such contempt, simply because they have vaginas.

Orlando at Hoyden About Town writes, “Quick Link: Public Education On Principle“:

If anything Benedikt, probably knowing how furiously some parents of cherished, privately schooled offspring will condemn her anyway, overstates the drawbacks of her stance: “But it seems to me that if every single parent sent every single child to public school, public schools would improve. This would not happen immediately. It could take generations. Your children and grandchildren might get mediocre educations in the meantime, but it will be worth it, for the eventual common good.” I think if there were a concerted effort on the part of parents who have options to opt in to public school, the change would actually be pretty rapid, for all the reasons Benedikt goes on to detail.

The Koori Woman writes, “On what’s on my mind this week“:

It is no secret I am not a fan of Abbott. I find his ultra conservative views both revolting and incredibly dangerous for both Aboriginal people and all Australian women. His ‘daggy dad’ moments are sexism painted as chuckle worthy little mistakes instead of what they really are, alarm bells at a thousand decibels.

It is also no secret I am not a fan of Noel Pearsons empowered communities initiative which Abbott has flagged as the governance model he will use in various communities across Australia. At time of writing, the initiative has been slammed by leading Aboriginal activists ranging from Marianne Mackay to Wayne Wharton. Cape York is the ‘testing’ ground of the welfare reforms outlined in the initiative, so it’s incredibly telling that no less than eight mayors of the Cape York region itself have been scathing in their opposition to Pearsons vision.

The Koori Woman also wrote this month, “On the feminist politics of Abbotts front bench“:

Now the kerfuffle raised by feminists regarding Tony Abbot naming his front bench that includes only one woman has died down, let’s talk about the other glaringly obvious omission from Abbotts front bench that has received virtually no media space. Abbotts front bench is all white.

I’m not surprised media haven’t written on this. Because most mainstream media is white. They don’t notice their own default. Can I blame them? Yes. Yes I can.

Rachel at Musings of an Inappropriate Woman wrote, ““The people make the ultimate decision / The system says they always get it right…”“:

Maybe this stuff shouldn’t matter. Government is about governing, after all, and they mostly did fine on the policy side of things, if you come from a centre-left perspective. But politics is also about emotion, and the to-ing and fro-ing, the tantrums and willingness to throw each other under the bus, left them seeming ultimately untrustworthy. And all that means is that it is too simple to cast Labor as the good guys, and the Liberals as evil. There may not be good reasons to vote the Coalition in today, but there are good reasons to vote Labor out.

Marieke Hardy wrote, “I didn’t vote for this.“:

You’re right, Helen. It is shocking. I mean, who would have imagined that the man who said ‘I think it would be folly to expect that women will ever dominate or even approach equal representation in a large number of areas simply because their aptitudes, abilities and interests are different for physiological reasons’ would ever DREAM of putting together a cabinet of little pink sausages, proudly jostling for attention? Why, are we talking about the same devoted husband who leered at a team of teenage netballers during the campaign ‘A bit of body contact never hurt anyone’? That funny old ‘daggy dad’ who brought the house down by quipping ‘We have a bizarre double standard; a bizarre double standard in this country where some-one who kills a pregnant woman’s baby is guilty of murder, but a woman who aborts an unborn baby is simply exercising choice’?

IT SIMPLY DEFIES COMPREHENSION, DOESN’T IT HELEN?

Liz Barr at No Award wrote, “Follow ups, election day, WorldCon, links“:

I, for one, was quite troubled by the Liberals’ strategy of silencing their candidates of colour so as to avoid gaffes and difficult questions.  This was the case in my own electorate, where candidate Shilpa Hegde did not participate in any public forums or interviews with citizen journalists.  Nor was she seen out campaigning.

As a Commie leftie pinko, I should be glad to see the Liberals mis-step, even if they still win the election, but I think this is a pretty shitty approach.  It’s not enough to have people of colour as your candidates, you have to let them be candidates. Allegedly, or so I read in the mainstream press (probably a Fairfax paper, but I couldn’t tell you when or which one because I’ve been site-hopping to avoid their paywall), the strategy was conceived after Jaymes Diaz famously stuffed up an interview.  If they’re so worried about candidates looking stupid, though, they would have put a lid on Fiona Scott before she could tell the world that refugees cause traffic jams.  Funny how it’s only the non-white candidates who were told to shut up.

Queen of Thorns at Ideologically Impure writes, “Why the religious right should not have any credibility in discussions of morality“:

I am categorically saying we shouldn’t give a fuck what religious extremists have to say about society.  Their entire movement, and its assumption that a “return” to Good Wholesome Judeo-Christian Values will save our society, is in no position to pass judgement on anyone.

Relationships

Blue Milk wrote, “On being here“:

A friend tells me that she lies in bed awake at night frightened for my future. I know she means it kindly but I am hurt by her sense of hopelessness for me. I am alright, I say, I really am. I decide I shouldn’t tell her about the nights when the children are staying with their father and I sometimes sigh with pleasure in my empty house. And then there are the nights when I do not even stay home in my empty house.

Spilt Milk writes, “Love story“:

Most of my writing on this most precious of loves, this fervent and brilliant and life-changing love, has been private. To her I write all of my secret words. Whisper sweet everythings. Compose bare poetic couplets. And of course this is how it is, ought to be, with lovers.

There is still the desire to make open proclamations, though. And there is perhaps an imperative to share.

Chrys Stevenson at Gladly the Cross-Eyed Bear writes, “No point in being blunt“, the story of her grandfather and family, their lack of belief in a deity, and the good lives they lived:

My grandfather was an atheist. When he married my grandmother, he didn’t just take on his new bride – he also housed her widowed mother, her sister and her daughter and the baby left motherless when another sister died in childbirth. And did he moan and bitch about having all these family strays in his home? No! He accepted it with astounding generosity and an abundance of good humour.

Feminism

Blue Milk wrote, “Women have to be strategic about gender, the PM was no different“.

Ariane at Ariane’s Little World writes, “Living as the default“:

As a white middle class straight man, the standard discourse is about you. However, since you are the default, it doesn’t mention you explicitly. Most of the voices you hear, day in day out, represent you. But since you hear them day in day out, you don’t hear them at all any more. This is also true for white middle class women like me, on issues other than women’s issues (and even then – women’s issues are framed largely from my perspective).

As the default, you are defined by what you’re not. You don’t belong to any interesting culture (because you are surrounded by your culture – it’s forced down everyone’s throats, but you just don’t see it). You’re not gay (or bi, or trans*, or queer). You’re not disabled. You’re not a woman. All those people get a mention all the time. “Indigenous councils”, “gay minister”, “female politician”, “disability advocates”. Unless you are taught to see it, it never occurs to you that “marriage” means “straight marriage”, that “politician” means “male politician”, that “social values” means “white social values”, that “employee” means “able bodied employee”. Because you are the default. When no descriptor is added, we assume white, male, straight, cis, able bodied (and probably some other things too).

A guest posts at The Hand Mirror, “Guestie: Another Fine Myth” (I’m not sure who wrote it, if you do, please let me know in the comments and I’ll attribute correctly)

Orlando at Hoyden About Town posts, “Thursday Hoyden and Talk Like a Pirate Day Special: Ching Shih“:

After her husband, who ran a flourishing pirate crew already, died in 1807, Ching Shih took over the enterprise and made her pirate band into a force that the Chinese, British and Dutch navies could not curtail. By offering defeated crews the choice between suffering a gruesome death, or changing sides and joining her, she forged a fleet of around 1,500 ships, all under her ultimate command. By 1810 her notorious ‘Red Flag Fleet’ had amassed such a fortune, and had so severely pummelled all the soldiers and sailors, generals and peasant armies, sent by various authorities to try to shut her down, that she cheerfully accepted the amnesty for herself and her crew offered by the Chinese government. She divvied up the spoils and retired to the country where she lived to a ripe old age.

tigtog at Hoyden About Town posts, “Friday Hoydens: Lakota and Dakota Grandmothers vs Neo-Nazis“:

These women from the Standing Rock Indian Nation in North Dakota are only holding this Nazi flag up to the camera because they’re about to burn it, having captured it from public display on the property of a white supremacist in the nearby very small town of Leith, ND.

Orlando at Hoyden About Town also posted, “Friday Hoyden: Rosie Hackett“:

This month, Dublin City Council voted to name the new bridge over the river Liffey “Rosie Hackett Bridge”.

This was in response to a huge campaign from Dubliners, mostly women, who felt Rosie was due a decent and long-lasting public memorial. All of the 16 previously existing bridges in the city are named after men.

Amy Gray at Pesky Feminist wrote, “Do women without children face discrimination in the office?“:

It is illogical to argue one group of women suffer at the benefit of another. Women with children face real discrimination in the office – pregnancy discrimination, career discrimination. There are statistics and studies to show this. The Sexual Discrimination Commission is currently running an inquiry on the matter. Women without children face equal discrimination in a workforce disposed to trying to predict a woman’s fertility as though it were a ticking time bomb and blocking any chance at flexibility to develop themselves as she may choose.

It is in this fallacy that we miss the point: we’re not discriminated against because we do or don’t have children, we’re discriminated against because we’re women and have the temerity to seek flexibility from a system that is already opposed to our presence.

Kate Galloway at Curl wrote, “A sense of entitlement? The (gender) subtext of ‘lifters not leaners‘”:

Work – by which politicians and commentators mean paid work – may well be an important aspect of our social identity, but the argument of feminists is that paid work does not occur without unpaid work. Unpaid work is largely carried out by women. To characterise those who engage in unpaid work as ‘leaners’ misses the point of the structural disadvantage of women and fails to seek to remedy this.

These structural questions will not be helped by marginalising those who receive welfare support. Instead, the basis of distributive justice in our system needs recalibration. For example childcare tends to be positioned as a domestic issue rather than an economic need. This will keep primary carers of young children marginalised in the context of paid work. Reframing this issue would provide structural solutions that addressed the real needs of society and its paid workers.

Scarlett Harris at The Early Bird Catches the Worm writes, “Music: “Work, Bitch” as Feminist Anthem*.

Claire Shove at Sextracurricular Studies writes, “Why Gender-Specific Relationship Advice is almost always Terrible“:

As times have changed, so have the dominant attitudes in our relationship conduct literature, but some notable trends have persisted. The offering of relationship advice to a select audience based on gender is perhaps the most obvious, and as I see it, the most problematic of these. In the first place, this places all of the responsibility for romantic conduct and communication on one partner instead of acknowledging it as a mutual concern. Again, The Rules gives excellent examples of this behavior: included among the 35 rules are stipulations against initiating conversation with a man, answering his phone calls, meeting him more than once a week and ‘rushing into’ sex, i.e., anything which would suggest mutual attraction[3]. This anti-feminist manifesto places all of the responsibility for initiating and maintaining a connection onto the man, under the false assumption that returning the affections of a suitor will make a woman seem easier to ‘get’ and therefore less valuable.

Stephanie at No Award wrote, “book pusher (not a white cis dude edition)“:

What are the books that you always recommend to people, that you always want people to love, that you shove at people and wave your hands about and reread constantly? Only rule: the author cannot be a cis white dude. Trans white dude, fine. Cis asian dude, fine. Ladies, all fine. Author doesn’t conform to your gender binary? All good.

Our bodies

Celeste Liddle at Rantings of an Aboriginal Feminist wrote, “On being a feminist with period pain“:

So if it is so damn normal and average and stuff, why is it so hard to talk about? Why is it that this hardcore black feminist, when confronted with pain and depleted energy as a result, finds it so difficult to say “I think my uterus is actually twisting itself into an infinity symbol in four different directions and I simply need to rest”? I mean it is that normal for me that, generally speaking, most months I will need a day away from society or work to rest, and it has always been that way. I hate to say it, but in the quest to be the all-conquering feminist ready to take on the world, I think I unfortunately sometimes see my own body’s needs as a sign of weakness and a thing to be overcome. And that, quite frankly, is ridiculous.

Kathryn Daly at A Little Bit of Life wrote, “The body and our worth“:

So the tipping point for me has been that I am really fucking sick of people commenting on my body. Not just the obscene bullshit that men offer when a woman is walking in public spaces (which, I might add, has a whole post of its own when I stop wanting to stab someone each time I try to think about the issue), but also the uninvited commentary from every other source.

It’s the people who tell me I am looking too thin. My best friend is about ready to attack the next person who says this to me: ‘All the shit you have going on in your life and people who are meant to be your friends manage to find something bad to say to you? Tell them to, “Get fucked”’.

Race and racism

Celeste Liddle at Rantings of an Aboriginal Feminist wrote, “Andrew Bolt: The “new racism” is so last season!“:

Apart from his extraordinarily lazy focus on the left in his analysis, I have but one thing to say: Congratulations Bolta, you’ve discovered “structural racism”! Have a biscuit, lad. Some of us have been talking about this for a while, and the thing is, it’s not exactly “new”. Nope, the discussions have been going on for a long time now, but we’re glad you’ve joined us! The left and the right may talk about structural racism and its manifestations in different ways as you have “amply” shown us, but it doesn’t mean that we are not talking about the same thing. Yes, the idea that a person may end up being oppressed and have their agency diminished by structural and social forces, even if there is some argument over what those forces might be, is nothing new at all.

stargazer writes at The Hand Mirror, “can’t win” about the recent winner of the Miss America Pagent:

yes, the last one really grates with me, because i’m always struggling against the “foreigner” label myself.  the many little & big ways that certain people need to make sure i understand that i don’t belong here, don’t deserve to have the same things as everyone else, should be grateful just to be allowed to exist in this space and place.  yes, it grates.

and i know that this group of people don’t represent a whole country, they don’t even represent a majority.  but they are the vocal minority that can make for a hostile environment.  they cause fear, they have an impact that is far greater than their number.  this ugly end of racism is the tip of the iceberg, the bits we can see clearly but there is so much more that is insidious and not always so plainly obvious, therefore much harder to fight.

Hannah Paige wrote a great poem, “poem – I want you to promise

Stephanie at No Award wrote, “indigenous literacy day and getting caught reading“:

Today is Indigenous Literacy Day! This is great because it means we are talking about Indigenous Literacy! This is bad because Australia, it means we still need to talk about Indigenous Literacy.

There is a huge gap in English literacy rates between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in Australia. A disgustingly enormous, we should feel ashamed of ourselves gap. By year 3, the gap in reading, writing and numeracy is already significant, and by the age of 15, “more than one-third of Australia’s Indigenous students ‘do not have the adequate skills and knowledge in reading literacy to meet real-life challenges and may well be disadvantaged in their lives beyond school’.” MORE THAN ONE THIRD. That is so uncool I cannot even. But Indigenous Australians should just pull themselves up by their bootstraps and Australia is totally not racist, amirite?

LGBTIQ issues, stories and experiences

Spilt Milk writes, “Please, won’t somebody think of the children?“:

I haven’t told her that I couldn’t legally marry my partner. Shattering her fragile ignorance of the extent of the bigotry her family faces would break my heart. Soon enough someone will tell her that Mama and Ima can’t be married like most of the other parents and step-parents she knows. Like all kids, she has an easily mobilised outrage switch: I expect she’ll rail against the injustice. But she’ll also have the sensation that I feel every time my relationship is devalued or erased or vilified. The sensation of a thousand tiny voices whispering ‘you are less than us.’

Reproductive Justice

AlisonM at The Hand Mirror writes a dual post (two for the price of one) called, “Ready, Set, Go: The Prochoice Highway“:

The move toward reproductive justice and away from “choice” is a hotly debated one, and you’ll notice that with its title, the Highway has a bit of a dollar each way. But the more I read about reproductive justice, which has been spearheaded by women of colour, the more I like the way it allows the discussion to be made a lot broader. (A friend pointed me toward a great publication by the US group Asian Communities for Reproductive Justice on this issue. Pdf warning: This link is to a pdf. And another good resource is Sister Song: Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective) Just last weekend, for example, I met up with a group of people wanting to do some work around what I’ll loosely call the policing and criminalisation of pregnancy, of pregnant bodies, of pregnant women. When you start looking at what’s going on it turns out it’s going on everywhere: in the public square, in medicine, in the judiciary, in state agencies, in legislation aimed at preventing child abuse, the list is long and a bit depressing. (I wrote a bit about the issue a while ago in Werewolf and here about a related “careless driving” case.)

Mary at Hoyden About Town wrote, “Fetal personhood (“Zoe’s Law”) before NSW Parliament“:

The stated intent of the bill is to allow separate prosecution of injury to a fetus, following the death of Zoe Donegan (stillborn at 32 weeks gestation) in 2009 after Zoe’s mother Brodie was hit by a van driven by Justine Hampson. Hampson was convicted of grevious bodily harm with regards to Brodie, but not with injuring Zoe or causing Zoe’s death.

However, the bill has been introduced by an anti-abortion politician, and there are grave concerns about its potential interpretation, particularly “an unborn child is taken to be a living person”

Queen of Thorns at Ideologically Impure wrote, “The “hard questions” of the antichoice movement“:

The real point is this:  Pro Life New Zealand want to use over-simplified, judgemental arguments to shame pregnant people into not having abortions.  Note the question about sexual assault, and “isn’t abortion the best solution” – as though prochoice activists are out there insisting that every pregnancy resulting from assault be aborted.  Note the first question is about disability – as though these religious extremists give a fuck about challenging society’s ableism once you’re out of the womb.

Lee Rhiannon writes at New Matilda, “Abortion Is No Sleeper Issue“:

The problem was not that the then PM spoke publicly on abortion. The problem was that there was not a strong public voice backing her in what was a historic and necessary speech. Necessary because the push is on from some quarters in Australia to wind back the clock on women’s rights to the full range of sexual and reproductive health procedures. Abortion is still covered by the Crimes Act in some parts of Australia.

Jacki Brown at fuckability: disability, sex & our revolution! writes, “Disability feminism & the selective abortion of disabled foetuses“:

Disability eugenics is an issue at the intersection of feminist discourses- the right to body autonomy-and disability discourses regarding the value of a non-normative body/mind and living as an act of resistance to a social discourse which says ‘’better off dead then disabled’’. The choice to abort is framed as a medical one when it also has social, political and ethical implications. As a disability feminist my resistance to selective abortion procedures steams from its value judgment on our lives, it positions us a flawed and wrong and it seeks to disempower us further by framing us an unwanted burden, as inhabiting a life not worth living.

I wrote a post called, “Let’s talk about abortion – again“:

The most telling part of the Pope’s comments on abortion is that the people who are pregnant aren’t even mentioned.  There is lots of talk about babies and children (despite the fact that it’s not until they are born that they are babies or children), and those babies or children having Jesus’s face (which is just a bit creepy), but nothing about the people whose lives may be in danger or whose ability to manage a pregnancy and the next 18 years of raising a child is being questioned by them.  It’s telling, it says “The Catholic Church cares more about babies than it does about the people whose body they incubate in, who will then spend the next 18 years or so raising, feeding, and attempting to afford them”.

Sex Work and sex workers

Gaayathri writes at A Human Story, “Brothel Visitors Outed Online By Council Candidate… | Stuff.co.nz“:

As I can see it, Hawker seems to think he can increase his standing in the community by shaming sex workers and the men (or women) that use their services. He seems to be enraged by the fact that the people he sees patronising this place of business appear to be wealthy business men. He seems to think he has some sort of moral higher ground. I don’t buy it.  Hawker does not care about the impact his actions may have on the sex workers who count on their clientele to earn their living. I guess in his mind he is doing them a favour.

Disability

Jackie Brown at fuckability: disability, sex & our revolution! writes, ““Are you a paraplegic?”“:

Perhaps they feel asking ‘the poor little cripple what happened’ is their good deed for the day; as one woman informed me ‘‘you need to talk about it, you need to tell me what happened, it’s good for you’’. She assumed that I possessed some tragic story, and that it must be at all times on the tip of my tongue when in fact if I had had some kind of accident/trauma it would be something I would get support to process with trained health professionals, not curious strangers on the street. No, this was not the 1st time I have been expected to divulge my disability in the street to a passing stranger but it was the 1st time I was abused for refusing to do so and called “cuckoo”’ and “crazy’’ for saying I am happy the way I am.

Xanthe Coward writes at Meanjin, “All The Women Are Tired Here“:

There’s a raging debate amongst those who suffer from the condition, their doctors and academics, over the name Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS). Personally, I don’t care what they call it; I’m just relieved to have been diagnosed. I was so tired all the time. And there it is. The problem people have with the name of the illness is that it indicates a constant state of exhaustion. My experience with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is exactly that—a constant state of exhaustion—but I also suffered from a host of other symptoms, for which there didn’t seem to be an explanation. No one knew what was wrong with me, least of all me. Family members and friends assumed I was depressed and worn out from a move inland.

Violence *Trigger warning for posts in this section*

Coley at Tangerina writes, “Help get sexual violence services properly funded. Finally. Please.“:

No matter how vital an organisation is, if the climate in which it operates doesn’t value or support the work it does – it will die. Our Government has created a hostile environment for many community not-for-profit agencies. We live under an administration that feels competition is a good thing, not just in the private sector, but in community service provision.

While excellence in service should always be strived for, the way to achieve this is not to pit tiny, often volunteer-run organisations against each other for laughable sums of money. Money that they have to annually re-apply for at great expense of their already stretched resources. Money that makes organisations scared to speak out against Government initiatives for fear of being reprimanded through the loss of their funding.

Claire Shove at Sextracurricular Studies writes, “How Popular Music Contributes to Sexist and Rape Tolerant Attitudes“:

If they were in fact going for irony, this seems a very roundabout way of doing it. Rather than assuming the audience would see power in the way the women looked directly at the camera, couldn’t Martel have instructed them to raise their eyebrows or roll their eyes? If they were supposed to be empowered, why not make that more obvious? Fuck it, why not have the women fully dressed, in a club, with the same suited men hitting on them and striking out?

The most likely answer, in my opinion, isn’t that Martel and Thicke thought their super subtle irony would be safely understood by the general audience. It’s that they didn’t think about it much at all. Ultimately, even if all the participants in the creative process had the same tongue-in-cheek intentions for it, which it doesn’t seem like they did, it fails as satire because the majority of the viewers didn’t get the so-called joke. You don’t make a comment about degrading women by continuing to degrade women.

 

The Sixty-Sixth Edition of the Down Under Feminist Carnival is planned for 5 November, 2013 and will be hosted by Steph and Liz at No Award.  Submissions to yiduiqie [at] gmail [dot] com for those who can’t access the blogcarnival submissions form.

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Bi-invisibility makes me mad

Whenever I read the term “gay marriage” I get annoyed.  The word “gay” has a specific meaning, it is a sexual orientation in this context, so therefore “gay marriage” would be wedding between two gay people.  Macquarie dictionary (the Australian dictionary of choice) states that gay is especially of male homosexuals, though also states that it relates to homosexuals in a broader sense, so that may include those who identify as lesbian.  The groups that the term “gay” describes does not include bisexuals, trans* and intersex individuals.

So if you decide to use the term “gay marriage”, then you are excluding bisexuals, trans* and intersex individuals from your definition of marriage – which is why I prefer (and argue for) the terms “marriage equality”, “equal marriage” or “same-sex marriage”.  If you’re happy excluding the bisexuals, trans* and intersex members of the LGBTIQ community, then I don’t want to be part of your group.

I know I’ve written about this before, but it keeps happening and so I keep pointing it out.  It happens in places who should really know better, such as in the Fairfax media, or the Huffington Post, or even at my own workplace.  Recently at work, when I called out the person on it, I told them that they should be using inclusive language, and not exclusive language.  The guy I addressed my issue to started to argue with me, but then listened to what I was saying, apologised and agreed to correct the language in the presentation pack.

Fairfax and the Huffington Post completely ignore my requests to them to change their language use.  Fairfax hasn’t been on my radar much recently, but the Huffington Post has been making me growl regularly.  For starters, the section in HuffPo that covers LGBTIQ issues is called “Gay Voices” which really seems quite odd when they have bisexual and trans* content (I don’t know if they have any intersex content).  I have asked that they change it to “Queer Voices”, but have not received any response from them. Clearly I am a lone (ish) voice in Australia, it is possible that a concerted campaign might get through to whoever manages that site.

HuffPos’ twitter account regularly refers to “gay marriage” and doesn’t use inclusive terms.  Tonight they tweeted about a wedding that had to be moved due to Hurricane Sandy, but they called it a “gay wedding” despite no one in the article using the term.  I then argued with people on twitter about orientation – always a fun activity.

All I want, and I don’t think it’s really that hard, is that when referring to issues that affect the entire LGBTIQ community, that attempts are made to use inclusive language.  Using umbrella terms like “gay and lesbian” alienates entire sections of the LGBTIQ community, and that’s not cool.  Making us invisible because saying gay or lesbian is easier is not cool.  We want to be included, we don’t want to be invisible because keeping us invisible makes it harder for us to participate in the wider community, being invisible leads to worse health outcomes for us, being invisible leads to higher rates of violence against us, and generally weakens the community overall.  So next time you hear someone refer to “gay marriage” or the “gay and lesbian [insert group here]” ask them if they intend to exclude bisexuals, trans* and intersex people.

 

 

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Linkspam – sadly not on holidays edition

Now back from holidays, and a final post on Cologne is yet to be written, but is percolating around my head, I have much linkspam to share.  And as always, this is a fraction of the cool stuff I’ve read this month.

Clem Bastow (who I adore), wrote a great piece on periods in Daily Life:

Back in the good old-bad old days of being fully immersed in social networking, I became known for my propensity to talk about periods: mine, my friends’, my family members’, other people’s, periods on television, periods and advertising, periods, periods, PERIODS.

(It reached a crescendo when some dude on Twitter whined that it was “gross” and I drew this smily face for them in response in mother nature’s own brick-red ink.)

The reason for such menses-mad tweeting was, in part, because I think the continued taboo about menstruation is one of the most depressing aspects of our allegedly enlightened society.

Chloe Papas writes “Speak Up About Partner Abuse” in New Matilda *trigger warning for discussion of partner abuse*:

Partner abuse has become a disturbingly normalised aspect of everyday life in Australia and internationally. There’s no doubt that we’ve come a long way from the hush-hush ignorance of decades prior to the 50s and 60s, but it’s still something that we often choose to not discuss, to sweep under the rug. Many see it as a private family matter, as something that should be dealt with within the home and not talked about publicly. But if it is never discussed, never acknowledged, how can the cycle ever be broken?

Rebecca Solnit writes a great piece, “The Problem With Men Explaining Things” in Mother Jones:

Every woman knows what I’m talking about. It’s the presumption that makes it hard, at times, for any woman in any field; that keeps women from speaking up and from being heard when they dare; that crushes young women into silence by indicating, the way harassment on the street does, that this is not their world. It trains us in self-doubt and self-limitation just as it exercises men’s unsupported overconfidence.

I wouldn’t be surprised if part of the trajectory of American politics since 2001 was shaped by, say, the inability to hear Coleen Rowley, the FBI woman who issued those early warnings about Al Qaeda, and it was certainly shaped by a Bush administration to which you couldn’t tell anything, including that Iraq had no links to Al Qaeda and no WMD, or that the war was not going to be a “cakewalk.” (Even male experts couldn’t penetrate the fortress of their smugness.)

Arrogance might have had something to do with the war, but this syndrome is a war that nearly every woman faces every day, a war within herself too, a belief in her superfluity, an invitation to silence, one from which a fairly nice career as a writer (with a lot of research and facts correctly deployed) has not entirely freed me. After all, there was a moment there when I was willing to let Mr. Important and his overweening confidence bowl over my more shaky certainty.

Corinne Grant at The Hoopla writes about how Tony Abbott is in fact “A Hootin’, Tootin’ Good Ole Boy“:

Tony Abbott is a good bloke. He’s a good Aussie bloke. He’s a good Aussie bloke who is fair dinkum on a bike.

He’s exactly like John Wayne if you replace the twelve gallon Stetson and six shooter with lycra tights and a Consumer Safety Standards approved bike helmet. He’s a hootin’, tootin’, rootin’, good ole boy who knows what he knows and knows it’s right because he knows it. (And by rootin’ I mean he thoroughly enjoys barracking at the cricket – not doing dirty grown-up things that would make the baby Jesus cry.)

Libby Anne writes at Love, Joy, Feminism “Christian Patriarchy to Men: You don’t have to grow up!“:

What are the qualities we generally associate with maturity? The ability to see things from others’ perspectives? The ability to accept that the world doesn’t revolve around you, and that things don’t always go the way you want them to, and that you just have to deal with that? The ability to cooperate with others, to communicate and find compromises that everyone can be happy with?

Yeah, under Christian Patriarchy, a man doesn’t have to do any of that. Because he’s the head of the family, dammit!

What he says goes! God speaks to him, after all, and everyone else should listen and heed what God tells him! He’s the one who gets to make the decisions for the family, and for the children! Period! In other words, a man is allowed to act like a willful, spoiled child who always expects to get his own way. And if he doesn’t get his own way? Expect a reaction of confusion mixed with anger and righteous indignation.

N.K. Jemisin (who I love heaps) writes an excellent review of Dragon Age, and about how to write oppression and privilege well in, “Identity should always be part of the gameplay“:

So basically, the DA creators have had the sense to acknowledge that the non-optional demographics of a person’s background — her gender, her race, the class into which she was born, her sexual orientation — have as much of an impact on her life as her choices. Basically, privilege and oppression are built in as game mechanics. I can’t remember the last time I saw a game that so openly acknowledged the impact of privilege. Lots of games feature characters who have to deal with the consequences of being rich or poor, a privileged race or an oppressed one, but this is usually a linear, superficial thing. The title character in Nier, for example, is a poor single father who’s probably too old for the mercenary life (he looks about 50, but via the miracle of Japanese game traditions he’s probably only 30), but he keeps at it because otherwise his sick daughter will starve. His poverty is simply a motivation. No one refuses to hire him because they think poor people are lazy. He meets a well-dressed, well-groomed young man who lives in a mansion at one point, and the kid doesn’t snub him for being dirty and shirtless. (In fact the kid falls in love with him but that’s a digression.) His age and race and class don’t mean anything, even though in real life they would. So even though I love Nier — great music, fascinating and original world — I like the DA games better. Even in a fantasy world, realism has its place.

I’ve seen a lot of discussion in the SFF writing world about how to write “the other” — i.e., a character of a drastically different background from the writer’s own. It’s generally people of privileged backgrounds asking the question, because let’s face it: if you’re not a straight white able-bodied (etc.) male, you pretty much know how to write those guys already because that’s most of what’s out there. So right now I’m speaking to the white people. One technique that gets tossed around in these discussions is what I call the “Just Paint ‘Em Brown” technique: basically just write the non-white character the same as a white one, but mention somewhere in the text, briefly, that she’s not white. Lots of well-known SFF writers — Heinlein in Starship Troopers, Clarke in Childhood’s End, Card in Ender’s Game — have employed this technique. I’ve seen some books mention a character’s non-whiteness only as a belated “surprise” to the reader (near the end of the book in the Heinlein example). The idea, I guess, is that the reader will form impressions of the character sans racialized assumptions, and therefore still feel positively about the character even after he’s revealed to be one of “them.”

This technique is crap.

Chris Graham at Agenda Tracker has detailed a very damming piece regarding the ABC’s role in the creation of the Intervention in Indigenous communities, especially Lateline’s role in “BAD AUNTY: The truth about the NT intervention and the case for an independent media“.

An article about Courage to Care travelling exhibition (in Australia), featured in Australian Mosaic: the Magazine of the Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Councils of Australia, “Have you got the Courage to Care?“:

Courage to Care aims to empower the people who are usually overlooked in situations involving prejudice and discrimination—the bystanders. Many social tolerance programs are directed towards the victims or the perpetrators. By contrast, Courage to Care focuses on the majority—the bystanders—encouraging them to take action and to confront incidents of discrimination, bullying and harm.

The program uses one of the most significant events of the 20th century to teach a universal concept: one person can make a difference. The Holocaust, the systematic murder during Second World War of 6 000 000 European Jews by Nazi Germany, is the most extreme example of how far racism and discrimination can go if left unchecked by ordinary citizens. Courage to Care uses living historians as well as text, objects, memorabilia and interactive discussion.

By exposing students to the personal experiences of Holocaust survivors and the remarkable stories of the people who rescued them, the program promotes learning and understanding. It does this through enquiry, discourse and critical reflection on personal values.

It does not seek to impose values, but rather encourages students to question instances of racism, intolerance and discrimination. It challenges the bystander who turns a blind eye, rather than stand up for what they instinctively know is right. It thereby challenges indifference.

 

 

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Submission to the Senate on marriage equality

I wrote a submission to the Australian Senate on marriage equality (see below).  You too can comment here or follow the steps on this website here.

An individual’s religious beliefs on the morality of a particular practice should in no way prevent someone else from undertaking that practice.  As a pluralistic society we accept differences of belief and activity.  We understand that some people enjoy soccer and others enjoy AFL.  We understand that some religions have dietary restrictions and others don’t.  We understand that some people dress in ways they believe are compatible with their religion, and others dress in ways that they feel comfortable in doing.

In none of these activities does one religion hold sway over other people’s actions and choices, except where it comes to equal marriage.  For some reason, some religious people (thankfully a minority), believe that the strictures in their holy book apply to everyone, regardless of whether or not they are followers of that religion or that particular understanding of that religion.

An individual’s personal beliefs on what is right and wrong should not impact on the full recognition of human rights for others.  A long time ago anyone who was not white was deemed to be sub-human – those views changed, despite some people protesting that it was against their understanding of their religious text.  A long time ago women could not vote, and if working earned less than their male counterparts in many cases.  Those views changed despite some people protesting that it was against their understanding of their religious text.

The world changes and moves, gradually everyone who is missing out on fundamental human rights will either have them granted to them by law, or by societal recognition.

In the end, to refuse a group the right to marriage because it is against some religious texts is not the fairness I expect living in Australia.  If there are no non-religous reasons to allow equal marriage in Australia, we should allow it.  Just as we have allowed changes in the past to things considered “traditional” (equality of women, humanity of non-white people), we can change “traditional” understandings of things now.

We haven’t let the bigots of the past hold back the future, it’s time to recognise that granting equal marriage to those in committed relationships who happen to be same sex is a step forward.  In no country where this has happened has the world ended.  We know it will be only good for equality here.

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