• 08Oct

    “Men develop ideas and systems of explanation by absorbing past knowledge, and critiquing, and superseding it. Women, ignorant of their own history, did not know what women before them had thought and taught. So generation after generation, they struggled for insights others had already had before them.” (Lerner, p. 19, ‘The Creation of Feminist Consciousness’)

    This is a coalition that I was involved with from 2002 to 2017. Given that family law is yet again under scrutiny, yet another inquiry having been instituted and men’s rights groups agenda being promoted I feel that it is important to document some of the work that feminists have been involved in and give the opportunity for others to learn and build on such work.

    NAFCC was a national (and international) Feminist coalition of organisations who formed to advocate on behalf of women and children going through the Family Court system with concerns about domestic violence and child abuse.

    About the Group

    The National Abuse Free Contact Campaign consisted of a coalition of people and organisations from throughout Australia, with a number of members from New Zealand, England, and Ireland.

    The Coalition consisted of frontline workers in domestic violence services, health services, sexual assault services, women’s services, legal and social science academics and researchers, legal profession, feminist organisations, victim support services, single mothers’ organisations, counsellors, therapists and women who had experience of the family law system.

    Our major aim of the Coalition was to lobby and advocate for change in the family law system to adequately protect women and children from ongoing abuse and violence.

    And also, to share information, ideas and to act as a forum for discussion.

    Organizational structure

    The National Abuse Free Contact campaign communicates through the elsa email network.

    It should be noted that the campaign represented a number of state and regional groups who had developed their own network to campaign for family law reform. Initial contact was made with the Abuse Free Contact group in Brisbane. Under the auspice of the Women’s Legal Service, Brisbane, Kathryn Rendell, Zoe Rathus and Angela Lynch conducted research on child contact arrangements where there is violence in the family and their report “an unacceptable risk” was released in November 2000. This was important in providing a focus for mobilisation and grew directly from concerns of practitioners meeting with women and children. Other groups that we established important links with were Victorian Family Law Coalition http://familylawreformcoalition.org/; SA Violence against Women group; NSW Women’s Refuge Movement Family Law Campaign https://www.dvnsw.org.au/ ; Women’s Refuge W.A http://www.womenscouncil.com.au/ and National Women’s Legal Services network http://www.wlsa.org.au/.  Many of the activities and activism were developed and actioned at the local and regional level. A major role of the National Abuse Free Contact Campaign was sharing widely such activities, and also developing strategies and ideas for further activism.

    This national group was also an important forum for identifying the issues within the family law system of most importance for women and children’s safety and sharing of research and the most effective strategies for raising this issue within political system, within the family court system, within a broad range of organisations working with women and concerned about women’s safety and the general public.

    Briefing Paper and Fact Sheets

    The campaign, after thorough consultation developed a Briefing Paper, summarising the major issues and concerns which we held. This was widely distributed for use in campaign activities and provided to politicians and other interested groups. We also developed a series of Fact Sheets: Parental Alienation; Myths and Facts; Domestic Violence is Gendered Violence; The Myth of women’s false accusations of domestic violence and misuse of protection orders; Violence Against Women- Apprehended Violence Orders.

    Family Law Submissions

    The Howard Government established an inquiry into child custody arrangements in 2002 and the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Family and Community Affairs’ Report – Every Picture Tells a Story – was released December 2003

    Early on in the life of the Campaign our major focus was on developing submissions to the inquiry.

    A major advantage of the membership of the Campaign was that it represented a variety of professional groups, such as the legal and social work profession, alongside were women who were working directly with women and children escaping male violence and advocates such as the National Council of Single Mothers and their Children http://www.ncsmc.org.au/  who had a long history of awareness of issues facing separating mothers.

    We were therefore able to share information, research and strategies about what issues we thought important to focus on in our submissions and what were the legal changes that we wanted to achieve.

    Women’s Safety After Separation Project http://www.ncsmc.org.au/wsas3/

    The National Council of Single Mothers and their Children (Inc) received funding from the Federal Office for Women to develop a website to provide information for separating women and those supporting her. The National Abuse Free Contact Campaign was developed in partnership with the Women’s Safety After Separation project. 

    The website provides information on family law, domestic violence and child abuse. It also provides on negotiating the myriad of organisations for women separating. In developing the resources for the website we were able to connect with women’s organisations throughout Australia thus establishing important links, and inviting these organisations to be part of our campaign.

    We were also able to print fact and information sheets and posters which were distributed throughout Australia.

    Political activism

    Many of our members were encouraged to contact Members of Parliament outlining their concerns with the family law system. This was achieved in a variety of ways:

    • Letter writing to local MP’s, MP’s with portfolios connected to family law and women’s issues such as the Attorney-General, Minister for Health, Minister for Women and their opposition counterparts
    • Appointments with MP’s both at a local level and the appropriate Ministers
    • The National Abuse Free Contact Campaign was invited by Feminist Agenda Australia to visit Canberra. We met with a range of Federal Members of Parliament over 2 days and family law reform and male violence against women was a major item on our agenda
    • Postcard campaign. On two separate occasions, coinciding with Christmas we developed postcards which were sent out to a range of politicians by our members. This was another example of cooperation and networking. One of our members had a friend develop the artwork for the postcards. Another organization offered to pay for the printing of the postcards and members interested in distributing the postcards paid for postage.

    Image of postcard

    Activism

    Several groups organized to raise awareness of the family law campaign and issues by being active at women’s events, such as Reclaim the Night marches, May 5th Domestic Violence Remembrance Day and International Women’s Day events.

    The Brisbane Take Back the Night March organizers made a banner ‘Make Family Law Safe for Women and Children’ for their march.

    Women’s House Shelta, Brisbane http://womenshouse.org.au/womens-house-shelta/ also offered to pay for the costs of printing t-shirts with the banner on it. 100 t-shirts

    Candlelight vigils outside of the Family Court. This also was coordinated with groups advocating for Domestic Violence Death reviews.

    Media

    A media kit was distributed throughout the group to help to reach out to the media about the issues.

    Relationships were also developed with certain journalists and media outlets who were interested in promoting the issues.

    Interviews were held with both television and radio networks eg Sunday Channel 7, ABC 7.30 report And SBS Insight

    Conferences, Seminars and Forums

    A number of our members organized to present papers at a range of conferences and seminars. Some state groups organized specific forums on family law issues. For example, the Domestic Violence Resource Centre in Victoria http://www.dvrcv.org.au/ invited National Abuse Free Contact Campaign to speak on the issue at their Family Law Forum. The Brisbane Women’s Legal Service https://wlsq.org.au/ celebrated their 25th anniversary by conducting a conference and we were again invited to present a workshop.

    Articles

    We also managed to have published articles about the issues in a number of journals including Violence against Women journal, the National Clearinghouse on Domestic Violence, SACOSS journal, Green Left Weekly.

    Networking with other women’s groups

    In our aim to connect with as many people as possible we also made contact with other women’s groups who were not directly involved in family law issues. Eg in Adelaide we met with Zonta http://zonta.org.au/Zonta_in_Australia/Home_to_3_Districts_of_Zonta_International.html

  • 16Sep

    I was privileged to attend Federal Parliament in 2013 to witness the Australian government’s apology to mothers and their children who were forced to relinquish their children for adoption. https://www.juliagillard.com.au/national-apology-for-forced-adoptions/

    Many of these women were single and their pregnancies were considered shameful. Single mothers were denigrated and stigmatised, cast as ‘whores’ and ‘harlots. As Anne Summers has stated, unmarried mothers were ‘the most visible single symbol of the bad girl’ (Damned Whores and God’s Police, p. 51).

    It can be argued that this stigmatised attitude towards single mothers has lessened in the 21stC. The feminist movement of the 1960’s and 1970’s had much to do with this, advocating for women’s rights and against draconian laws which limited women from fully participating in society. With the advent of the birth control, and abortion reform laws women were able to take more control over their reproduction. Changes to the Family Law Act in 1975, also allowed women to leave unhappy and abusive marriages. This has had an impact on the number of women raising children on their own.

    Emily Wolfinger has analysed this trend and argues that whilst the denigration of single mothers on moral grounds has decreased, they now face being labelled as ‘welfare dependents”, resulting in “punitive and paternalistic policy measures”.

     “It was in the 1980s that the focus began to shift from the ‘problem’ of the single mother to the ‘problem’ of welfare dependency whereby single mothers’ reliance on welfare, rather than their marital status, was deemed the social problem. While society has entered an age of liberal sexual attitudes and changing family structures where explicit moral judgments are less tolerated, the denigration of single mothers persists via a construction that sees them as flawed economic citizens.” (p.4)

    Neo-liberal economic ideology has been responsible for a number of policy and legal changes which have placed financial burdens on single mothers.

    • tougher penalties imposed for compliance failures (including ‘no-payment’ for up eight weeks), and it extended the new rules to many sole parents and people with disabilities, (Howard Government)
    • The Rudd government also tightened the conditions under which parents received welfare benefits,
    • January of 2013 when the former Gillard Labor government moved recipients of Parenting Payment (Single), whose youngest child had turned eight, onto the lower Newstart payment.
    • Northern Territory Intervention
    • Cashless Welfare card

    Within these policies changes, not only are these impacts on women but there are also racist and class implications.

    Stolen Generations

    Whilst Rudd’s apology to the Stolen Generations (2008) preceded the apology for forced adoptions, racist policies and practices continue to remove aboriginal children from their families.

    Aboriginal children are almost 10 times more likely to be placed in out of home care than non-Indigenous children.

    Indigenous women are losing their children to child protection because of housing shortages that force them to stay in abusive relationships, new research has found. https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-08-29/abused-indigenous-women-losing-kids-care-lack-of-housing/11462026?pfmredir=sm

    The Northern Territory Intervention

    In 2007, the federal government staged a massive intervention in the Northern Territory on the basis of the report, “Little Children are Sacred” as a result of a government inquiry into child sexual abuse in the Northern Territory.

     
    “The fall-out was a full-scale, (including army), intervention which resulted in the reinforcement of the unwavering, systemic stealing of children from their arms, to who knows where? The Department of Childrens Services have lost the files on some 8,000 children who are thus just “disappeared”.” https://sim345.wordpress.com/2015/04/14/cashless-welfare-to-target-violence-against-women-not-in-my-name-sexist-racist-and-unacceptable/

    The intervention in fact has done little to address child sexual abuse or violence against women. http://stoptheintervention.org/facts

    The allegations of violence and abuse show no details of who and why such abuse occurs in Indigenous communities – and shows little information about how this compares to white Australia.

    Who is abusing young girls in these communities? Is it the same white men who commit violence and abuse in Australian society generally?

    “There was, and is, no acknowledgment of who does this to girls and women (men do this to them). There was no acknowledgment of more than 200 years of ongoing genocide in this country. Certainly, not a word about the prostituted as a class nor the acknowledgement of what the underlying structure of capitalism and male entitlement does to girls and women.”

    We know that young girls who are impoverished and vulnerable are more likely to be targets of abusive men – “the worst of those committing predatory behavior and violence.”

    Interestingly, two years after the Northern Territory Intervention, The Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs’ report Closing the Gap in the Northern Territory revealed that convictions of child sexual abuse involving Aboriginal perpetrators have “barely changed”,

    https://www.grandmothersagainstremovals.com/

    Maria Mies and Silvia Federici have both written about the different treatment of Western women and women from colonized nations and how capitalist patriarchy has used different strategies to oppress and colonize women, depending on the needs of capitalist accumulation.

    Cashless Welfare Card

    The instigation of a welfare card practice leads to a greater exploitation and vulnerability for women and children.

    “Removing control of money from recipients is a dangerous practice. What the outraged or concerned media and general public call ‘paternalism’ is actually far worse. It is a means to ensure an expanding class of people vulnerable to exploitation. That the majority of the victims are women, indigenous and the young is not just an extreme act of ‘paternalism’, it is an extreme commitment to profit from the abuse of the bodies and lives of those most marginalized, by taking away what limited independence we may have.”Eachone

    https://www.facebook.com/ClownsOfTheAbbotocalypse/?__tn__=k*F&tn-str=k*F

    Our Herstory

    The oppression of women, and single mothers in particular, has been going on since the beginning of patriarchy, almost 5,000 years ago.

    Gerda Lerner in her excellent book “The Creation of Patriarchy’ talks about how the “appropriation by men of women’s sexual and reproductivity capacity occurred prior to the formation of private property and class society” (p.8)

    Communities where sex roles were previously equal, and perhaps even matrilineal became patriarchal, ruled and dominated by men. The patriarchal family was born. Women’s status and class was mediated through their relationship “sexual ties” with men.

    Thus, Lerner states,

    “The division of women into “respectable” (that is attached to one man) and “not respectable” (that is not attached to one man or free for all men)…” (p.9) became institutionalised through the patriarchal family and has continued to present time.

    Federici (The Caliban and the Witch) acknowledges that male violence against women has been historically taking place for centuries as a reflection of patriarchy. Violence, at the least, legitimized by the State, if not actively encouraged.

    Federici’s thesis is that such violence was bolstered by the persecution of women as witches. It led to:

    • “confinement of women in Europe to unpaid domestic labor”
    • “legitimated subordination to man in and beyond the family”
    • “state control over reproductive capacity” (p.47)

    This was about power and control and capital accumulation. Where previously in villages and communities there was a system of sharing resources, such as the Commons, where women used and shared their knowledge and experiences of caring and healing, midwifery and reproduction. The state needed to take control of this knowledge and these skills.

    “…the witch-hunts served to deprive women of their medical practices, forced them to submit to the patriarchal control of the nuclear family, and destroyed a holistic concept of nature that until the Renaissance set limits on the exploitation of the female body.” (p. 11)

    The state needed to disempower women of their knowledge in order to take control. In particular the state needed to take control of women’s reproductive capacity and knowledge. As capitalism was taking hold, children were seen as products for labor exploitation – economic property which the capitalist state need to control. Thus, women’s sexual behaviour and procreation needed to come under the control of the state.

    “We must think of an enclosure of knowledge, of our bodies, and of our relationship to other people and nature.” (p.21)

    “As I wrote in Caliban and the Witch, the witch hunt instituted a regime of terror on all women, from which emerged a new model of femininity to which women had to conform to be socially accepted in the developing capitalist society: sexless, obedient, submissive, resigned to subordination to the male world, accepting as natural the confinement to a sphere of activities that in capitalism has been completely devalued.” (p. 32). Federici:Witches, Witch-Hunting and Women

    The witch hunts were about controlling and the oppression of women. Women are required to be under control of a male within the nuclear family and hence under the control of the state. And the treatment of single mothers today is indicative of state’s continued control and oppression of women

    Our treatment of single Mother’s currently has a historical ideology.

    “(there is)… a direct causal connection between the global extension of capitalist relations and the escalation of violence against women, as the punishment against their resistance to the appropriation of their bodies and their labour.” (Mies; xi)

  • 03Aug

    Women Talking

    Women Talking by Miriam Toews

    My rating: 5 of 5 stars


    What a beautifully and simply written book. Simply written but with complex moments, thoughts and ideals that one stops to contemplate. If one does not understand patriarchy or the systemic oppression of women, then this is a book to read. Through the words of these women talking Toews outlines for us how patriarchy works and how women grapple with their own patriarchal socialisation as against their own self-worth and their experiences of oppression.



    View all my reviews

  • 25Jun

    Unsheltered

    Unsheltered by Barbara Kingsolver

    My rating: 4 of 5 stars


    An enchanting and interesting book. The author draws interesting and likeable characters whose paths I was drawn into and eager to follow. Her story is set in two eras – 18th century and today – of two people living in the same house. There are useful parallels in this scenario with our 18th century story depicting the negative reactions to Darwin’s theory of evolution and the influence of right wing dogma and capitalist thinking – paralleling this with the 21st century USA entering the racism and misogyny of the Trump era and the same religious dogma refusing to accept climate change and the disaster of growth capitalism. Despite this I found it a gentle and thoughtful read.



    View all my reviews

  • 22Oct

    This book is a collection of essays written by Silvia Federici in relation to her on-going studies of witches, witch-hunting and its relationship to the development of capitalism. The book is in two parts. The first section, which I will talk about here, summarizes and builds on her work in Caliban and the Witch in which she explores the European witch-hunts of the 16th and 17th centuries.

     

    Federici stresses the importance of situating these witch-hunts in their social, political and economic context. In particular this was a time when the enclosures of the Commons were taking place in Britain. The Commons land were traditionally available to landless peasants , enabling them to make use of the land for subsistence farming. In the 16th and 17th centuries these common lands became enclosed – by wealthy landowners and the middle class, thus depriving poorer peasants the use of such land. Land became privatised and became an economic asset for profit, rather than as a source of nurturance for the whole community. This led to an increase in poverty and social unrest amongst the community. This had a significant impact on the peasant women in particular. It often meant a stripping of their means of livelihood and the possibility of economic independence.

     

    Federici describes the social unrest that was occurring at the time. One can imagine the anger, bitterness and distress that women were experiencing as a result of being left destitute. Her analysis describes how those in power were able to turn such social unrest to demonise those opposing the changes, effectively allowing them to increase their power and control over the communities.

     

    She likens the demonization of women as witches to the McCarthy era of the 1950’s in the USA and the current ‘War on Terror’.

     

    “The exaggeration of ‘crimes’ to mythical proportions so as to justify horrendous punishments is an effective means to terrorize a whole society, isolate the victims, discourage resistance, and make masses of people afraid to engage in practices that until then were considered normal.” (p.33)

    “The witch was the communist and terrorist of her time” (p.33)

     

    But it was not only about dealing with social unrest. It was about power and control and capital accumulation. Where previously in villages and communities there was a system of sharing resources, such as the Commons, where women used and shared their knowledge and experiences of caring and healing, midwifery and reproduction. The state needed to take control of this knowledge and these skills.

     

    “…the witch-hunts served to deprive women of their medical practices, forced them to submit to the patriarchal control of the nuclear family, and destroyed a holistic concept of nature that until the Renaissance set limits on the exploitation of the female body.” (p. 11)

     

    The state needed to disempower women of their knowledge in order to take control. In particular the state needed to take control of women’s reproductive capacity and knowledge. As capitalism was taking hold, children were seen as products for labor exploitation – economic property which the capitalist state need to control. Thus women’s sexual behaviour and procreation needed to come under the control of the state.

     

    “We must think of an enclosure of knowledge, of our bodies, and of our relationship to other people and nature.” (p.21)

     

    Federici concludes Part One of the book with a chapter ‘On the Meaning of ‘gossip’.

     

    “Tracing the history of the words frequently used to define and degrade women is a necessary step if we are to understand how gender oppression functions and reproduces itself.” (p.35)

     

    I have long been interested in the concept of female solidarity, friendships and collectivity. The fact that throughout history  women’s knowledge, their experiences – women’s history has not been recorded or seen as of value.

    In this last chapter of Part One, Federici describes important information about the origin of the term ‘gossip’. In early modern England it was a term used for ‘companions of childbirth, not limited to midwives’. “It became a term for women friends.” (p. 35). Federici describes how gossip became a word of degradation and ridicule, thus effectively the silencing of women. This is a subject that I would like to analyse in more depth in a future blog post.

     

    To conclude, in Federici’s words:

     

    “As I wrote in Caliban and the Witch, the witch hunt instituted a regime of terror on all women, from which emerged a new model of femininity to which women had to conform to be socially accepted in the developing capitalist society: sexless, obedient, submissive, resigned to subordination to the male world, accepting as natural the confinement to a sphere of activities that in capitalism has been completely devalued.” (p. 32).

     

    Part Two of this immensely important work, Federici explores modern day witch hunts detailing how this is on the increase. I will be writing about this in my next blog.

  • 09Apr

     

    Well what a night of television.
    It started with the news (ABC SA). Their 3 leading news items were as follows:

     

    1. The finding of the Coroner’s report into the death of Chloe Valentine – a four year old girl whose mother and her partner were found guilty of criminal neglect and manslaughter. The report was scathing of SA’s child protection system and has called for a massive overhaul.

     
    2. The drowning of 3 Sudanese children (another child is in a serious condition) in Melbourne in a car driven by the mother which ended up in a lake. The mother is now helping the police with their inquiries.

     
    3. 250 Australian men convicted of child sex offenses traveled to the Philippines last year.

    “It comes as Filipino police continue to build a case against an Australian man, Peter Gerard Scully, who is accused of some of the worst child sex offenses in the nation’s history.”

    He is also being charged with the death of at least one child. It is understood that he was producing child pornography for sale.

     
    Then I watched Redfern Now. It was about 2 Indigenous women raped by a white middle class man. They chose different paths – one not wanting to report it to the police, fearing the shame and humiliation; the other reporting him and taking him to Court and grilled because of being a single mother, Centrelink fraud and working for cash. In a positive turn of events the man is found guilty – not a common occurrence in rape cases.

     

    redfernnow

    Deborah Mailman as Lorraine, Anthony Hayes as Daryl and Rarriwuy Hick as Robyn in Redfern Now: The Telemovie.

    Why do all of these make me angry; make me want to cry with rage and sorrow?

    We know the Child Protection system sucks. It lacks resources, funding and properly trained and experienced staff. It largely targets women – whether they are victims of male violence; living in poverty with poor resources to raise their children. And we also know that the child protection system takes a punitive approach to women, regardless of their circumstances – because well women are always to blame.
    At the same time that the SA government says it will respond to this report, funding is being cut from so many services that could help mothers, particularly single mothers.
    And yet one of the key recommendations of the Coroner’s report:

    “The State Government begin negotiations with the Commonwealth to make a child protection income management regime permanent.”

    A measure that will leave women with fewer resources, tells them they are inferior and incapable of looking after themselves, aimed at working class mothers – and assumes that child abuse is a class issue – that it is only the poor who neglect and abuse their children.
    And it is important to say – there is a difference between neglect (which often is a result of poverty) and child abuse – so often about male violence against women and children – in all classes.

     

     

    And when we turn to the tragedy of the Sudanese children – what resources do we provide to those from war-torn countries who come to Australia seeking shelter and a better way of life? How much trauma counselling is available; how much support are they given in adapting to a strange and alien environment? And importantly how do the media portray our immigrants and refugees from non-Western countries? How much racism are they subjected to?

     
    It is astounding that the Federal Government can make it illegal for Australians to travel to Syria – out of our fear of “home-grown terrorists” – and we have no laws that prevent convicted child sexual abusers from traveling to South East Asia where extreme poverty puts children at risk of rape and murder – by Australian men.

     

    In all of these cases it is really quite simply the paternalistic, imperialist, patriarchal culture which creates these situations – and provides no avenues to challenge this ideology.

    I doubt that any proposed changes to the Child Protection system will really make children safer. It is far more likely to become more punitive to women in vulnerable situations.
    Our current ethos is racist.

    If this Sudanese mother is found responsible for the deaths of her children it surely must speak to our failure.

     

    And why is it not a national emergency that Australian child sexual offenders are granted the freedom to travel oversees to sexually abuse children?

     

    And women continue to be raped – and when they are Indigenous women – they have very little hope of the judicial system providing justice.

    But we are so grateful to Deborah Mailman (and the writers) for her portrayal of a strong Indigenous woman who takes the system on and wins!

  • 28Feb

    “”I thought you might like to hear a man’s voice,”

    Senator Barry O’Sullivan’s voice boomed during a fiery Senate estimates hearing on Tuesday morning.”

    Sarah Whyte,The Age
    Australian Human Rights Commission president, Professor Gillian Triggs has been the subject of harassment, abuse, and bullying.

    “The Human Rights Commission recently completed a report on children being held in immigration detention in Australia.
    The Forgotten Children report examines the treatment of children under both the current Government and the former Labor Government. It makes a number of recommendations designed to improve the welfare and protect the human rights of children.” Senator Penny Wong, Mamamia

    There has been almost a hysterical response to the report with claims of political bias. All aimed at intimidation and silencing.

     

    Professor Triggs was not the only subjected to the misogynistic behaviour of the Liberal Party Senators at the Senate estimates hearing. Both Senator Penny Wong and Sarah Hanson-Young were also bullied and shouted at. They even made a bit of a joke about possibility of being accused of sexism. Because after all, they are real men – and real men are sexist, misogynistic – and they don’t care about being perceived in this way.

    “Macdonald joked with fellow senator Barry O’Sullivan about the damn ladies taking up all the panel speaking time.
    Because if there’s one problem with the current state of parliamentary politics in Australia it’s that women are given too much airtime, of course. Remember the kind of free reign Juilia Gillard was given over the airwaves? Despicable!”  Max Chalmers, New Matilda

     

    But what can we expect from this Liberal government. We all remember the treatment that our first female Prime Minister was subjected to by the Liberal government when in opposition.

    ditch the witch

    It would seem that these men just don’t like women expressing their opinions; having their say; or even, dare we say it, opposing their viewpoints. It is pure misogyny and patriarchy at work here.

    “The speed with which supposedly adult men have feverishly rushed to turn into braying schoolboys has been astonishing; they are no longer even bothering to conceal the enjoyment they take from making it known to their female colleagues just how little they respect their presence in public life, telling them instead to “settle down” (as O’Sullivan pompously did to Senator Penny Wong) and quipping with each other to be careful what they say lest they be “accused of sexism”, presumably by the silly biddies who overreact to everything and can’t take a joke.” Clementine Ford, The Age

    blue ties snakePhoto: Andrew Dyson – blue ties

    “Appointing himself Minister for Women after the LNP’s election to government wasn’t an example of his total lack of self-awareness. Rather, it served as a deliberate and final f… you to the woman who had unapologetically called out his misogyny in Parliament, and who received great fanfare from the countless Australian women who had identified so strongly with the moment.”  Clementine Ford, The Age

    And the saddest part of this is that the Human Rights Commission’s report is highlighting the dreadful inhumane treatment of refugees by the Australian government (on both sides of politics).

    “She was something far less: a woman defending powerless children with the truth. And it is for that Gillian Triggs is being punished.” Richard Flanagan

    detention

    Read those statistics again. 233 assaults against children; 33 incidents of reported sexual assault; 128 children who harmed themselves.

    Children, fleeing for their lives, fleeing from torture, violence and war. And the Australian government locks them up in detention.

     

    “For all their cant about families, this is a government with no pity and much contempt for the families of the poor and the powerless. In this government’s new Australia the strong can be needlessly and endlessly rewarded, and the weak endlessly attacked and punished.”  Richard Flanagan

    Their racist and misogynistic policies are not confined to those from outside Australia. If you have any doubts that our politicians’ policies and behaviour to asylum seekers is not racist, we need only look at their treatment of and policies in relation to our First Nation people.

     

    I would recommend this moving article about the impact on the Northern Territory Intervention byThe Northern Territory Emergency Response: Why Australia Will Not Recover from The Intervention”

     I have also written about this in a previous blog post.

     

    cropped-GmarMcGrady

    The biggest challenge for Australians is that this misogyny and racism has become the norm in political discourse today. Both major political parties are responsible for the appalling treatment of asylum seekers and our First Nations peoples.

    And as Clementine Ford has stated:
    “… the bonds of patriarchy often bind tighter than those of political allegiance or loyalty. Some men simply do not want women working alongside them; it makes them feel their naturally ordained spaces are being suddenly invaded by people whose existence they don’t really understand, other than within the realm of being mothers and wives. And so they make jibes and jeer, the bravado and entitlement growing alongside the gang of merry men willing to join them in it.”

    So whilst our media is excited and hyped up about the potential de-throning of Tony Abbott as Prime Minister – patriarchal in-fighting for power and control – they continue to use this power and control to oppress, intimidate, harm and abuse women, the dispossessed, asylum seekers, our Indigenous people.

    CartoonAIM

    http://theaimn.com/immigration-detention-try-living-life-changing-effects/ Robyn Oyenini The Aim Network

    See also:

    https://www.facebook.com/hashtag/istandwithgilliantriggs?source=feed_text&story_id=10203976645202136&pnref=story

    https://www.facebook.com/groups/106908392834476/?fref=nf – Stop Offshore Processing of Asylum Seekers

    https://www.facebook.com/CombinedRefugeeActionGroup

  • 07Nov

     

    the awakening

    I have just finished reading this moving and absorbing book.

     
    My immediate impressions were that of loneliness, alienation, confinement and oppression. Kate Chopin reflects women’s oppression and alienation in their roles as mothers and wives at the end of the 19th Century.

     
    But sadly it is far too familiar for women in the 21st Century. It is a battle that women still struggle against.

     
    Interestingly, Kate Chopin’s original title was A Solitary Soul, which highlights the loneliness of women recognising that the role they are confined to, not only does not fit but is oppressive.

     

    The book is about Edna Pontellier‘s awakening to her authenticity as a woman and her inability to continue in her restrictive and false life as a mother and wife.

     

    “As the critic Per Seyersted phrases it, Kate Chopin “broke new ground in American literature. She was the first woman writer in her country to accept passion as a legitimate subject for serious, outspoken fiction. Revolting against tradition and authority; with a daring which we can hardy fathom today; with an uncompromising honesty and no trace of sensationalism, she undertook to give the unsparing truth about woman’s submerged life. She was something of a pioneer in the amoral treatment of sexuality, of divorce, and of woman’s urge for an existential authenticity. She is in many respects a modern writer, particularly in her awareness of the complexities of truth and the complications of freedom.” Rosemary F. Franklin 

     

    It is interesting to compare this with the short story “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman.

    Both address the issue of women’s oppression and alienation within patriarchy. Both of the women central characters find that their only option is to rail against this oppression.
    I was discussing “The Yellow Wallpaper” with two other women who had different interpretations of the ending. One thought that Jane finally went crazy; the other saw her as committing suicide. I saw Jane as finally being able to liberate herself.

    Edna Pontellier finds her only solution is to commit suicide – to swim into the ocean, naked. This is her liberation.

    “She wanted to swim far out, where no woman had swum before.”

  • 21Oct

    Update:

    “The up-to-date research and information now available makes it clear that the present practices can no longer be justified and the custody court system must create the necessary reforms to protect the safety of children and protective mothers in domestic violence custody cases. This article will discuss ten reasons we know the custody court system is broken and must be reformed.”

    http://www.nomas.org/node/168

    Parental Alienation

    family law hammer

    If there is one symbol of misogyny and patriarchy within family law it must be the use of the concept of parental alienation.
    Parental alienation epitomises how the patriarchal legal system has viewed women within our western civilisation.
    It views women as vindictive liars – out to destroy men and fatherhood. It deems women as pathological – not the norm; not male.
    And the intended result is to negate and trivialise male abuse of women and children. It denies and minimises the impact and severity of domestic violence and child abuse.

    problems with feminism

    (Taken from https://www.facebook.com/shoutoutaustralia)

    In basic terms, parental alienation takes the position that when a mother raises concerns about child abuse and domestic violence following separation – in a bid to protect her children from exposure to further abuse – that her allegations are likely to be false. That her motivations include revenge and vindictiveness against her ex-partner.
    And most importantly it is seen as an effort to deny men/fathers the inalienable right to their children.

    It is about male ownership and control.

    The parental alienation syndrome was originally developed by Richard Gardner (1931-2003). It was based solely on his own (biased) clinical experience with little objective basis and lacks any empirical basis.
    Gardner also had bizarre beliefs about sexuality. He is quoted as stating that:

    “adult-child sex need not be intrinsically harmful to children.”

    Parental alienation syndrome is grounded in misogynistic views and reflects a mother-blaming ideology.

    ALIENATION AS A DYNAMIC OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

    What we do know – and there is empirical evidence – is that alienation is a pattern of control used by male abusers in domestic violence and child sexual abuse.
    The use of denigration of mothers is part of the pattern of both child sexual abuse and domestic violence.
    And then when the mother separates from the abuser, perpetrators of domestic violence use custody litigation as a form of ongoing harassment and abuse of mother.

     

    Chesler

    Alienation theory and its continued use reflect historical and societal denial of the extent of male violence within the family.

    wsas

    I would highly recommend Liz Library – lots of useful information about child custody, family law and parental alienation.

    Other websites: Women’s Safety After Separation

      WEAVE Inc

     

    And another useful book which examines how perpetrators use of controlling tactics:

    Batterer as Parent

     

  • 16Oct

    Update: ABC television did a programme on Muriel Matters on Sunday: http://www.abc.net.au/tv/programs/muriel-matters/

    Muriel Matters
    This information comes directly from the Muriel Matters Society

     

    Muriel Lilah Matters (November 12, 1877 – November 17, 1969) was an Australian born suffragist, lecturer, journalist, educator, actress and elocutionist.
    Matters was an extremely prominent member of a critical mass of people agitating for women’s suffrage in London.
    Matters is most recognised for chaining herself to the grille of the Ladies’ Gallery in the British House of Commons on 28 October 1908. The ‘grille’ was a piece of ironwork placed in the Ladies’ Gallery that obscured the women’s view of parliamentary debates. A symbol of the oppression of women in a male-dominated society, it was her firm conviction the grille should be removed.

     

    Her non-violent solution to chain herself to the grille was the centre-piece of a larger protest conducted by the Women’s Freedom League. While attached to the grille Matters, by a legal technicality, was judged to be on the floor of Parliament and thus, the words spoken by her that day are still considered to be the first delivered by a woman in the House of Commons.

     

    votes for women

     

    Matters is also identified with attempting to shower King Edward VII and the British Houses of Parliament with handbills dropped from an airship on 16 February 1909.
    The South Australian Parliamentary Library Reading Room has been named in honour of Muriel Matters on 5 August 2014.

    Muriel Matters room
    A docudrama Muriel Matters!, featuring the suffragette’s story, premiered at the Adelaide Film Festival on Sunday, 13 October, 2013 and screened on ABC1 .

    film of muriel matters
    Photo from The Guardian

     

    For more information: https://www.facebook.com/murielmatterssociety
    https://twitter.com/MurielMattersSA