• 17Dec

    If Man Haron Monis’s 36 sexual assaults had been taken seriously, the #SydneySiege wouldn’t have happened.”

    It is women who are the victims. It is women who are in the middle of male violence. It is women who are in the firing line.

    women as victims of war - MadreUpdate:

    Interesting article by Megan Murphy in Feminist Current:

    “Violence against women is taken for granted. Misogyny is taken for granted. Male violence is not seen as gendered. Violence against powerful men is a “public” problem — a war — and violence against women is a sidenote, if it is mentioned at all. Sixty women disappeared from the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver over about 20 years, beginning in the early 1980s, before the police even began an investigation. A database created by an Ottawa researcher tallies the number of missing and murdered Aboriginal women across Canada at 824. On any given day in Canada, more than 3,300 women (along with their 3,000 children) are forced to sleep in an emergency shelter to escape domestic violence. Most domestic violence homicides happen after a woman leaves (or tries to leave) her abuser. Women simply aren’t protected by the system. They aren’t taken seriously. The signs are there and they are ignored, over and over again, until it’s too late.

    “Soraya Chemaly pointed out that the number of U.S. troops killed in Afghanistan and Iraq was 6,614, while the number of women killed as the result of domestic violence during the same period in the US was 11,766. So tell us, who is being targeted? What kind of violence matters? What kind of victims matter? Who is really, “at war?”” http://feministcurrent.com/…/a-war-on-the-police-how-about…/

     

    By now we have all heard of the siege in Sydney. And about Man Haron Monis.
    For the last two days it has headlined the news and social media.
    The immediate assumption made when the siege occurred was that it was a terrorist attack. Why? Because he was a Muslim. And because he raised a flag with Arabic writing in the window. This is what he wanted us to believe – that his holding siege with hostages in the middle of Sydney was for a cause, and not because he is a violent, malicious man.
    It is what the Western media and our Western politicians also wanted us to believe. Even as the real story of this man came to light, they continued to define him as a rogue terrorists and media outlets continued to examine this event in these terms.
    This man, Man Haron Monis had a history of violence against women.

    He had been charged with being a co-conspirator in the murder of his ex-wife, who had been knifed and set alight.

    He was also charged with 40 sexual assault charges against women. And let’s not play around with words –aggravated sexual assault is violent rape.
    He was on bail.

    The magistrate who gave him bail stated:

    “If there is a threat it was to this woman who was murdered.”

    But after all he is not a threat to the community – only to women!
    This is why he was not on the radar of the authorities – he was not a real threat to anyone – except women.
    Male violence against women is epidemic throughout the world.
    Destroy the Joint figures show that 73 women have been killed by male violence in Australia this year.

    dtj 73
    But the media is not really interested in violence against women.

    Our politicians are not really interested in violence against women.
    It is more interested in creating fear and war-mongering.

    Escalating the threat to Western democracy allows them to continue with their wars, continue with their torture, continue with their demonising of the “other” and make us all afraid. This allows them to justify their secrecy and their denying of our freedoms and our rights.
    They are more interested in escalating violence. In making war.

     

    According to Women, Peace and Security:

    • Today close to 90 per cent of current war casualties are civilians, the majority of whom are women and children.
    • War crimes including rape, sexual slavery, enforced prostitution, forced pregnancy, enforced sterilization, and any other form of sexual violence.
    • Violence against women is greatly exacerbated in conflict zones
    • Women face many challenges in conflict and post-conflict environments – including extreme poverty, displacement from their homes, destruction of social networks, and limited opportunities for employment and income generation.

    And wars which put more women and children at risk.

     

    Kathleen Barry

    A hashtag was born declaring #illridewithyou to Muslim Australians fearful of facing backlash on public transport. It was a powerful and heart-warming hashtag – but it is a practice that every woman uses on a daily basis – because every day – at home or in public – women are targets of male violence – physical, sexual, threats, harassments. But there is no public outcry, no empathy, little understanding – it just part of normal life for women in patriarchy.
    Acknowledging violence against women is a step that men in power are not willing to take. It would threaten their very power base.

    As Louise Pennington states

    “This is the reality of rape culture: systemic violence against women is simply not considered a problem. We need to start using the term terrorism to define male violence and we need to start recognising that women are human too. Until we do, men like Monis will continue to perpetrate these crimes, which are not ‘isolated incidents’ but systemic, state-sanctioned terrorism against women and girls.”

     

  • 05Nov

    whitlam

    I was 20 years old when Gough Whitlam became Prime Minister of Australia.
    It may therefore be seen that this post reflects my memories of youth – of naive hope, optimism and the enthusiasm of youth.
    It was also the 1970’s when change was in the air.
    But I do think Gough Whitlam’s time as Prime Minister was monumental in Australian politics. And this definitely has borne out  in the past few weeks as Australia has reflected on his life and his contribution to Australia.
    I was very keen to watch his memorial service on television this morning.
    And I must firstly reflect on the reaction of the crowd outside the town hall as the dignitaries arrived.
    It was obviously a Labor crowd, as they cheered resoundingly for the past Labor Prime Ministers on their arrivals such as Hawke and Keating.
    And the boos for Howard – and also our current Prime Minister Abbott.
    But I was most pleased with their response to Julia Gillard. The crowd loudly showed their pleasure with her – and most impressive was the standing ovation she received when she walked into the hall.
    The contrast between the response she received and the one Kevin Rudd was received was palpable.

    As Katherine Murphy from the Guardian commented:

    “The mourners roared for Julia Gillard, and mumbled ambivalently for Kevin Rudd.”

    The blue ties might have won the round but Julia will be the historical winner.

     
    The memorial to Gough Whitlam was definitely powerful and emotive. The speakers were awesome. They reminded us of all that Whitlam achieved in his relatively brief period of office.

    Cate Blanchett reminded us eloquently of some of what he worked on
    – Free tertiary education
    – Healthcare
    – Equal pay for women
    – Supporting mothers benefit

    And the establishment of the Women’s Advisor to the Prime Minister and Office for Women.

    Mr. Whitlam discusses International Women's Year with two members of the National Advisory Committee, Ms. Elizabeth Reid and the Secretary of the Australian Government's Department of the Media, Mr James Oswin (National Library of Australia nla.pic-vn3510683, photo: Malcolm Lindsay)
    Mr. Whitlam discusses International Women’s Year with two members of the National Advisory Committee, Ms. Elizabeth Reid and the Secretary of the Australian Government’s Department of the Media, Mr James Oswin (National Library of Australia nla.pic-vn3510683, photo: Malcolm Lindsay)

     

    Noel Pearson’s speech was also passionate and commanding.

    “Without this old man, the land rights of our people would never have seen the light of day,” Mr Pearson said. “He truly was Australia’s greatest white elder…”

    “I can scarcely point to any white Australian political leader of his vintage and of generations following of whom it could be said without a shadow of doubt, he harboured not a bone of racial, ethnic or gender prejudice in his body.”

    It was heartening to see the emphasis on Indigenous Australians in this memorial. For of course one of the most iconic images we have of Whitlam is him pouring the earth into Vincent Lingiari’s hands.

    Whitlam_Lingiari_2

     
    Paul Kelly and indigenous Australian singer-songwriter Kev Carmody performed “From Little Things Big Things Grow” written by them in 1991 telling the story of the Gurindji people’s struggle for equality and land rights.

     

    I understand that real power is not invested in our  parliament but that it only operates within the parameters set by  the patriarchal, capitalist machine.  No real change can occur without dismantling patriarchal capitalism.

    But the optimism and enthusiasm, the inclusiveness and the tolerance which the Whitlam government brought to Australia is a time worth honouring.

    “He touches, still, the millions who share his vision for a more equal Australia, a more independent, inclusive, generous and tolerant Australia, a nation confident of its future in our region and the world,”

    Graham Freudenberg, Whitlam’s speech writer.

     
    It is a stark contrast to the current neo-conservative politics when fear is used to win votes; when winning the next election is the force behind governments, rather than bringing about change;when three word slogans are deemed to be enough, we are right to remember how sometimes some good can happen. And that sometimes courageous politicians can make  positive differences in our everyday lives.

    “This was the politics of real people: the people who remain engaged, the people who believe, and persist, and endure all the failings and the disrespect and the daily manipulation to insist that politics is and must be a noble cause, periodically inhabited by people of courage.”

    Katherine Murphy

  • 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

  • 22Sep
     burqa
                               (Lana Slezic produced a body of work on women in Afghanistan for the World Press) 
     

    Malalai Kakar

    She was murdered by the Taliban.

    “She was the pinnacle of strength in Kandahar at a time that was extremely difficult for Afghan women. She was the first female police officer in Kandahar and stood for the rights of women.
    “All the women of Kandahar knew who she was and knew they could come to her with their problems. Problems like domestic violence, rape forced marriage.”

     

    But PUP Senator, Jacqui Lambie uses this image for the purposes of creating fear, bigotry, racism and violence.

    She depicts this brave woman who gave her life in her struggle for freedom for Afghan women as a violent threat to Australians.

    Next to this photo she calls for the banning of the burqa.

    Not because the burqa is a symbol of oppression for women but for security reasons.

    She is saying we should be afraid of this woman; we should be afraid of those who are not like us.
    I wonder what Jacqui would say to this image.

    nun habit

    And if we are talking about the oppression of women let’s not forget the Catholic Church and its opposition to abortion and divorce.

     

    Cardinal_George_Pell
    The image of this man is a reminder of the Catholic Church’s protection of child sexual abusers. What is hiding underneath his cloak?

    What does Jacqui and our Australian government say about the extreme right Christians in America who have bombed abortion clinics.

    Or what the Judaist religion says about women.

    In Judaism there is a daily prayer which says “I thank god that I was not born a woman.”
    I once had a Jewish colleague refuse to shake my hand in case I was menstruating and therefore deemed dirty.

    Let’s face it all of our major religions are patriarchal.

    And this is what this is all about. It is about patriarchal power and control.

    It is about competing patriarchies and their quest for control of resources and power.

    It is about patriarchal militarism and their intent to destroy.

    It is the women and children who are the victims of such wars. Women have been considered the spoils of war in so many conflicts.

    Women as collateral damage in men’s wars.

    So back home to the “degrade and destroy” Australia.

    Jacqui Lambi is not alone in creating fear and hatred in our community.

    The Australian government has led the world in its determination to go to war – to send troops to Iraq; to kill and maim, to degrade and destroy.

    And part of that process has been instilling in the Australian people hatred of the “other”.

    Their goal is to terrify and to create widespread fear.

    Mamamia has reported  – “So frightened are some in Australia’s Muslim community that a Facebook group dedicated to support for victims of hate crimes against Muslims was set up this week. Group members use the page to report instances of abuse and swap tips on how to stay safe. Posts like these feature on the page:

    “Early last week in the early evening A sister (was walking home) when a few guys came upon her and tried to burn off her hijab… She was a international student and is now wanting to go back home due to feeling traumatised and insecure.”

    “Two days ago, a group of men tried to rip the hijab off a sisters head at Garden City.”

    “Yesterday at 5pm, a sister from Logan was threatened by a guy that he would burn her house down.”

    And it is the women in their burqas, hijabs and their headdresses who will the focus of the bigotry and racism that is being invoked in Australians.

    Yes the burqa is a symbol of women’s oppression.

    Yes I will celebrate the day when no woman is required to cover herself and become invisible.

    I will also rejoice when women are not the victims of war, of rape, of violence and abuse in their homes
    There are many forms of oppression against women. We will not overcome this oppression by violent oppression of those we consider “others”.

    To quote a friend:
    “In her pursuit of populist media trumpeting, Lambie has desecrated and insulted the memory of this honourable and courageous woman.
      If women choose to wear a burqa, bikini, religious habit, goth gear, high fashion, low fashion or nothing at all, that is their decision.

    Our courts are not over flowing with woman wearing burqas but they are full of men in everyday clothes who have committed some fairly heinous crimes against women and children.

    Can we please turn our attention to the ‘real’ terrorists hiding in this country.

    The Malalai’s of this world speak for me not the bigots and racists. The world needs more Malalais and less Jacqui Lambies.”

    sept 11

    Women are murdered, raped, mutilated, humiliated, imprisoned, impoverished, appropriated, manipulated, marginalised and any one of a number of acts of violence, all over the world.” (Browyn Winter in the excellent book edited by Susan Hawthorne and Bronwyn Winter, published by Spinifex Press)

       unmaking warAnother book worth reading by Kathleen Barry

  • 21Aug

    Update:

    An excellent article by European Women’s Lobby

    Surrogacy: a global trade in women’s bodies
    Sweden’s leading feminist lobby regards surrogate motherhood as a revival of serfdom for women

    “Becoming a surrogate mother is a way for women in socially vulnerable positions to sell what fundamental human rights should protect them from selling – their own bodies.

    A study of surrogate mothers in Anand, India, revealed that 50 percent were illiterate and that many could not read the contract that they were signing.

    The Swedish Women’s Lobby views surrogate motherhood as a contract of temporary serfdom, where the surrogate mother waives her rights to bodily integrity during the pregnancy.

    We must privilege the right to bodily integrity and fundamental human rights over a supposed right for parents to have children. Children always have the right to have parents, but there is no human right for parents to have children. Every child has the right not to be a commodity on a market. We must renounce the view of a liberal market-approach to surrogacy which privileges paying buyers while women’s rights are negotiable.

    Having a feminist approach to surrogacy means rejecting the idea that women can be used as mere vessels and that their reproductive capabilities can be bought. The right to bodily integrity is a right which should not be able to be negotiated by any form of contract. However the contract is worded, surrogacy is still trading with women’s bodies and with children. The rights of women and children, not the interests of the buyer, must be the focus of the debate surrounding surrogacy.”

    “Surrogacy doesn’t liberate us from biological constraints — it turns women’s bodies in factories”

    Great article by Kajsa Ekis Ekman

    Margaret Atwood wrote a ‘Handmaid’s Tale’ in 1985.

    Handmaid's Tale

     

    Almost 30 years ago she forecast, as a future dystopia, what is the reality today.

     

    In her book the religious right have taken over her society. The state has taken control of women, reducing their role to that of reproduction alone. The state has complete ownership and control of women’s bodies.

    Due to some unknown widespread environmental catastrophe there exists high infertility and sterility rate, and a higher birth defect rate. So reproducing has become a high priority.

    The state ensures that those in power and with higher status have control over reproduction and the raising of children. A selected group of women, the Handmaids, who have potential to reproduce, are forced into being reproducers for the elite.

    “The Handmaids themselves are a pariah caste within the pyramid: treasured for what they may be able to provide – their fertility – but untouchables otherwise. To possess one is, however, a mark of high status, just as many slaves or a large retinue of servants always has been. Since the regime operates under the guise of a strict Puritanism, these women are not considered a harem, intended to provide delight as well as children. They are functional rather than decorative.” Margaret Atwood

    Margaret Atwood has written a number of novels which she describes as ‘Speculative fiction’. That is, in these novels

    “…nothing happens that the human race has not already done at some time in the past, or that it is not doing now, or for which it has not yet developed the technology.”

    The concepts expressed in her novel are reflective of the current situation with surrogacy.

    Rich western couples now have the ability to rent women’s bodies to satisfy their own desires for children. Women’s bodies and children are thus commodified.

    Women from poor third world countries – are forced as a result of their poverty – to sell their bodies for reproduction.

    “Many surrogates are from very poor backgrounds, have little or no education and certainly limited or non-existent financial literacy. There are concerns that some are pressed into the industry by their husbands and families as a quick way to make an otherwise unimaginable $7000AU per birth.” ABC Foreign Correspondent 

    What does this mean?

    Journalist Susan Ince went undercover as a potential surrogate mother in the USA.

    This is what she discovered.

    It means that women are subjected to multiple intrusive physical examinations and multiple drug treatments. They are restricted in their freedom.

    “She may not have intercourse, smoke or drink. She has to submit to all of the physical examinations and treatments the program prescribes.”

    Once pregnant, women have an Amniocentesis examination and are forced to have an abortion if results show abnormality.

    “If the doctor prescribes a Caesarean section, the surrogate has no right to refuse it.”

    “Women have become infertile as a result of serving as surrogates.”

    ABC Foreign Correspondent program “The Baby Makers” explored some of the conditions in India where surrogacy has become a booming industry.

    “100 surrogate mothers live in a house for the term of their pregnancy. They lie in single bunks.”

    Restricted in her freedom for the duration of her pregnancy. And this is a good agency!

                      Renate Klein

     

    According to Renate Klein, the assumption on which surrogacy is based is that the “surrogate” mother will not have a relationship with the developing baby as it is “not her child”. “

    “An absurd notion for any woman who has ever been pregnant.”  Renate Klein

    The sad reality is that women’s fervent desires to have children are reflected in our society’s view of women and motherhood.

    Women’s worth is still measured in her ability to have children. And so we have developed industries such as IVF and surrogacy so that rich western women can fulfill society’s expectations of them.

    And in the process we treat women and children as commodities who can be bought and sold.

    “Surrogacy is a heartless, exploitative, capitalist enterprise.” Renate Klein

     

    Kajsa Ekis Ekman is the author of Being and Being Bought. Prostitution, Surrogacy and the Split Self (Spinifex Press 2013).

                                                                                                                                                           being and being bought

    She draws a link between prostitution and surrogacy.

    “The parallels between prostitution and surrogacy were immediately evident to me. Two industries profit from women’s bodies: one from her for sex, the other from her uterus. Two industries commercialize basic human phenomena: sexuality and reproduction. And these, as it happens, are also the basis of the historical oppression of women and the ongoing division of women into ‘whores and madonnas’.”

  • 26Jun

    Emma Miller

    Happy birthday to Emma Miller

    One of Australia’s first leaders in women’s suffrage, and a major fighter for women workers’ rights, Emma Miller was the foundation president of Queensland’s Women’s Equal Franchise Association.
    She campaigned for equal pay and equal opportunity for women in the workplace.
    Along with May Jordan, she formed the first women’s union in Brisbane in September 1890
    The Women’s Equal Franchise Association fought for the right of women to vote, under the banner “one woman, one vote“. The Association triumphed in 1902, with women allowed to vote in federal elections. Women were enfranchised under the Federal Electoral Act on 9 April 1902, becoming the first women of the world to win the right to vote for a national parliament. (Women in New Zealand won the right to vote in colonial elections in 1893)
    Members of the Woman’s Equal Franchise Association actively canvassed for the women’s vote for the December 1903 Federal election, by forming the Women Workers’ Political Organisation with Emma Miller as president.
    On 2 February 1912, 73-year-old Emma Miller led a contingent of women on a march to Brisbane’s Parliament House.
    She was also involved in anti-conscription activism over the course of World War I by joining the Women’s Peace Army when Cecilia John and Adela Pankhurst visited Brisbane in 1915.
    A memorial statue is in King George Square, Brisbane. There is also an Emma Miller Place located off Roma Street in Brisbane. The Emma Miller Award is presented each year by the Queensland Council of Unions to women who have made an outstanding contribution to their Union.

    Information from the Australian Women’s History forum    and Wikipedia