• 04Jun

    I have had the pleasure and privilege of reading the ‘Freedom Fallacy: The Limits of Liberal Feminism edited by Miranda Kiraly and Meagan Tyler.

    Freedom Fallacy pic

     
    Apart from the fact that it has a large number of Australian contributors, which is pleasing in and of itself, this is an excellent book exploring the problems with liberal feminists.

     
    I have been madly making notes from the book since it came into my life.

     
    So it was very interesting, as I finished my note-taking, Destroy the Joint posted about prostitution.

     

    Their focus was on International Sex Worker’s Day and cited an article by Tilly Lawless who “asks us all to check our whorephobia”.

    That’s enough to raise the heckles.

     

    DtJ asks its readers “why do we struggle to recognise that sex workers have rights?”

     
    The robust and even aggressive discussion that followed in the post, reflected very much the chasm between liberal and radical feminism.

     
    Many of the protagonists in the discussion claimed that as sex workers their voices were the only legitimate voices to be heard. (They vehemently dismissed the voices of those who have exited prostitution and are now activists against it).

     
    Meghan Murphy writes in the Freedom Fallacy:

    “Of late, it has become standard to talk about ‘choice’ in terms of individual choice rather than collective choice”

    These alleged sex workers claimed their individual choice in their “profession”.

     
    But as Meaghan Murphy goes on to say:

    “Choice without politics or theory behind it doesn’t hold power. ‘Choice’ at the expense of others – particularly the marginalised – is not radical nor does it promote equality.”

    A liberal approach to prostitution argues that decriminalizing prostitution allows for the protection of women prostitutes, and is reflective of an “individual freedom” ideology.

     
    Caroline Norma explores this in the chapter ‘A human right to prostitute others?: Amnesty International and the privileging of the male orgasm’ in Freedom Fallacy.

    She begins the chapter with this statement from Amnesty International:

    “Sexual desire and activity are a fundamental human need. To criminalise those who are unable or unwilling to fulfil that need through more traditionally recognised means and thus purchase sex, may amount to a violation of the right to privacy and undermine the rights to free expression and health. – Amnesty International”

    I must admit to being rather astounded by this statement. It is a stunning example of a declaration of men’s rights and totally ignores women’s rights – rights

    • Not to be purchased,
    • Not to be raped,
    • Not to be harmed,
    • Not to be degraded,
    • Not to be violated.

     

    Caroline Norma goes on to tell us of how Amnesty International may have been:

    “ potentially influenced by the activism of Amnesty UK member Douglas Fox, a founder of, and business partner in, one of the UK’s largest escort agencies.”

    The prostitution industry is a global industry – which makes it a powerful industry. How can anyone dismiss the power of such an industry to influence/manipulate public opinion and governments making legislation?

    And liberal feminists have swallowed this male entitlement argument and reinterpreted in terms of a woman’s right to choose.
    However there are countries which are now moving towards what is known as the ‘Nordic Model’

    “It decriminalizes the selling of sex and makes paying for sex a criminal offence. It is designed to end the demand from a minority of men who pay for sex – the demand that drives the prostitution trade and the trafficking of women into it – and to promote specialist exiting services.” Diane Martin (The Independent)

    Diane Martin talks of her reactions in being in a country where the Nordic model exists:

    “What I was unprepared for, however, was the personal impact of being in a country where access to my, or anyone else’s, body could not be legally purchased.”

    However, the Nordic Model is being vehemently challenged by the prostitution industry – and was forceably rejected by many on the Destroy the Joint post.

    “The Nordic Model, on the other hand, poses a genuine threat to the long standing ‘right’ of men to exercise sexual dominion over women through prostitution, and to profit from this dominion. It represents a legislative vehicle for abolitionists to reckon over the question of male sexual rights.
    What the liberal feminists fail to realise is that the prostitution industry focuses specifically on the most vulnerable and marginalised women in the world. Women who rarely have the option of choice.” Caroline Norma

    Meghan Murphy in Feminist Current writes about the intersection between race and class in the subjugation and prostitution of Canadian Native Women.

    “That indigenous women — the most marginalized people in Canada — are the ones funneled into this industry, groomed via sexual abuse from the time they are children, offered no options for escape, no housing, no education, no support services, are ignored when they disappear and are murdered, and are dehumanized by men want to think of and treat them as non-human should be one of the most significant aspects of this conversation. It is unacceptable that the voices, experiences, traditions, and realities of these women and girls are left out of debates and decisions around prostitution and prostitution law.”

    Liberal feminism’s defence of prostitution can only be seen in terms of neoliberal patriarchal capitalism. As the Amnesty International policy identifies men’s rights to use women in whatever way they choose is the prominent discourse of liberal feminism. Individual liberal feminism can never free women from male violence and abuse. It is only through collective action and an understanding of the political and ideological context of patriarchy, will women be free from male violence.

    “By framing a system that funnels women—particularly marginalized women—into prostitution as not only a choice that women make but as a potentially liberatory one, these groups are able to disguise the way in which pornography props up male power, placing the onus for women’s subordination on women themselves. By framing the societal pressure to self-objectify as empowerment, society is permitted to ignore the reasons women learn to seek power through sexualization and the male gaze. By focusing on women’s agency, we ignore men’s behavior.
    What is truly being defended by groups that claim to lobby for “sex-worker rights” is not, in fact, women’s human rights but the financial and sexual interests of men. This is why the discourse deliberately avoids addressing the harms caused by these men.”

    Meghan Murphy writes in truthdig

     

  • 09May

    stop intervention

    Racism and misogyny are at the heart of our two major parties.

     

    But what else would we expect from a white imperialist, capitalist, patriarchal system.

     
    Policies of both of the major parties over the past ten years have gone to new depths in their attacks on our First Nations peoples – their culture, their way of life and their very lives.

    And it is women and children who inevitably have suffered mostly as a result of these policies.

    The latest move is the threatened closure of remote Aboriginal communities.

    The threatened closure of Aboriginal communities comes as a result of the Federal Liberal coalition government cutting funding to Aboriginal communities and handing responsibility for these communities to State Governments.

    The Western Australian government has stated that it plans to close over 150 Aboriginal communities.
    PM Tony Abbott’s racism and disdain for our First Nation’s people is evident in his sneering comment in relation to the forced closure of communities.

    “It’s not the job of the taxpayers to subsidize lifestyle choices.”

    This is at a time when both Federal and State governments are rolling out the Welfare card.

     

    “Women and particularly indigenous women are the most impoverished in the world.”

    Eachone has written an excellent article about this: “Cashless Welfare to target Violence Against Women in Australia? Not in my name. Sexist, Racist and Unacceptable”

     

    On a recent Late Night Live panel heard Marcia Langton describe the situation for Indigenous women as a ‘national crisis’
    “Indigenous women are 34 times more likely to be hospitalised as a result of domestic violence than their non-Indigenous counterparts.”

    And some of the problems for Indigenous women include:
    – Reluctance to report
    – Mistrust between police and indigenous women
    – Racism within authorities

     

    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

     

    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”.”

     
    The intervention in fact has done little to address child sexual abuse or violence against women.

     
    It is horrendous that our white male politicians use (abuse) the concept of protection women and children from violence and abuse for their own ends – mining of traditional lands is a suspect in this – whilst they go about destroying lives and communities.

    land grab

     

    “WA Premier Colin Barnett is using “child protection” as an excuse to forcibly remove entire communities from their lands, recycling the same lies about child abuse used to justify the NT Intervention. These forced closures will be systematic child abuse on a massive scale, putting families into destitution, more kids into foster care, more adults into prison.” Stop Stolen Generations

    These policies and actions have in fact had a devastating impact on our First Nations people, particularly women and children.

     
    And this is all being done under the well developed and over reported fabrication that our Indigenous peoples and communities are dysfunctional.

     
    The Eachone article highlights the racism and misogyny that these policies incur.

    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 reveals that

    • convictions of child sexual abuse involving Aboriginal perpetrators have “barely changed”,

    Source:Creative Spirits

    This is a worldwide problem for Indigenous girls and women.
    And despite PM Rudd’s National apology to the Stolen Generation in 2008, children continue to be removed from Aboriginal families.

    “Since 1997 however, the number of Aboriginal children being forcibly removed has increased more than five times, with more than 15,000 Aboriginal kids in foster care today. In WA more than half of all children in ‘care’ are Aboriginal, despite being less than 5% of the population.” Grandmothers against Removals

    cropped-GmarMcGrady

     

     

     

     

     

    After 5 years of the intervention,Creative Spirits notes these astonishing statistics.

    The rate of suicide among Aboriginal girls has “greatly increased” since the intervention was launched. Girls accounted for 40% of all Aboriginal suicides of children under 17 years, a rate which is “the most in the Western world”. Prior to the intervention the suicide rate was “significantly lower” and in 1980 it was zero.

    There was a 69% increase of children getting taken into out of home care compared to 2007 figures.

    There has been a 40% increase in Aboriginal incarceration.

     

    Thousands of Australians marched in Australia last week against the forced closures of remote Aboriginal communities.

    stop closures                               stop closures1stop closure4
    It received little media attention – except in the Murdoch press where they were described as “a selfish rabble” – see report from Junkee 

     
    Since the British government invaded this land we have declared war on our First Nations People – and we are continuing to destroy their traditions, their cultures and their lives.

     
    This is not going to stop soon.

    We will need a revolution to stop this.

    And all Australians need to show our support for our First Nations people.

    Resources:

    SOSBlackAustralia/Grandmothers Against Removals: https://www.facebook.com/supportsosblakaustralia

    Stop Stolen Generations: https://stopstolengenerations.com.au/

    stop intervention

     

  • 04May

     

    This is an article written by Marcus Waters in The Conversation.

    I have quoted certain aspects of this article:

    “I have seen firsthand how child sexual abuse is rife in every part of the Australian community – but only sometimes is that abuse reported in full colour.”
    “The Royal Commission on institutionalised child sex abuse is shining a light on dark corners of systematic abuse of Australian kids over many generations. In the vast majority of the terrible cases we’ve heard about, the perpetrators and those who protected them have been seemingly upstanding, often senior, male community leaders.
    Old white men, in other words.”
    As human rights lawyer Anne Gallagher comments:
    “Cheap labour, cheap sex and cheap goods are woven into the fabric of our economy, our community and our individual lives within Australia.”
    “Stories like these are important. Yet too often, the fact that the abusers in these stories are not just western men, but white western men, goes unremarked.”
    “International research has shown that people who suffer the worst abuse are often in positions of helplessness or poverty.”
    “The reality is that the majority of my own Aboriginal people who have had to deal with abuse are struggling with these same issues of uncertainty, poverty and alienation that we know compound sexual violence and abuse.”
    “I can’t help but wonder: what would happen if white Australian children, women and men spoke up about the hidden abuse in their families, the way that Aboriginal people increasingly are doing?
    I honestly believe if this was to happen, the true statistics of those suffering would send shockwaves through this country.”

    Read the full article here

  • 28Apr

    ANROWS Public Lecture with Professor Liz Kelly CBE

    On Friday 13 February 2015 Professor Liz Kelly CBE delivered a lecture in Adelaide on re-visiting the continuum of sexual violence in the 21st century.

    I had the great privilege of attending this lecture by Liz Kelly earlier this year and I would highly recommend listening to this lecture.

     
    She talks of her early work and research “Surviving Sexual Violence” (I would recommend the book too.)

     

    surviving sexual violence

     
    I’m not going to pretend here that I can do any justice to her lecture or her work but wanted to highlight some of the important issues that she raised that struck me.

     
    One of the themes throughout her talk was women’s voices – the importance of listening to women’s experiences, women’s feelings and understanding women’s everyday experiences of violence.

     
    Liz Kelly’s work is conceptualising forms of violence as a continuum of violence against women. She explores the connections, for example, between sexual violence and domestic violence, asking questions about the categories we use; who decides what is abusive; what counts as abuse and the connections between them.

     
    She also referred to the work with Jill Radford “Nothing Really Happened” : the invalidation of women’s experiences of sexual violence  which analyses women’s experiences of sexual violence and how women name “unwanted sex”. They often didn’t want to name non-consensual or coercive sexual experiences as rape. There are no clear cut lines in women’s experiences.

    “Everyday routine intimate intrusions that were so central to the idea of a continuum.”

    Whilst women claim ‘nothing really happened’ they were intimidated, they were made to feel fearful. Liz Kelly describes this as a form of terror, in which the intention is to intimidate, to make women feel afraid, telling women that they “don’t have the same right to be in this space.”

     
    And women learn to adapt – to the potential of male violence. This is the reality of women’s lives.

     
    Liz cited Swedish law in which the underlying principle is that sexual violence is a violation of women’s integrity. It is therefore not located as force.

     
    What Liz highlights is that many women’s experiences of violence are ‘everyday’, are perceived by society as ‘mundane encounters’ and yet they are the “fabric of women’s everyday lives”.

     
    Which means that when we attempt to tally up the extent of violence against women we are not counting all violence against women. Our criminal system records violence in incidents rather than the “pattern of coercive control” which Evan Stark has examined.
    There are wider concepts of harm which we need to look at from a human rights perspective.

    Liz Kelly clearly highlights that male violence against women erodes women’s agency and fundamental freedoms – it constrains every woman’s agency.

    This clip does not include question time but her response to one question was awesome:

    “What we need is a feminist revolution”

  • 12Apr

    And therefore should be locked away.

    India's Daughter
    Four Corners  on Monday night showed the documentary “India’s Daughter”.
    A film made by British filmmaker Leslee Udwin about the rape and murder of Jyoti Singh Pandey, in Delhi.
    The document provides a poignant portrayal of Jyoh Singh Pandey, through her parents’ eyes. It also shows us a clear picture of her gang rape and murder and the public outcry and response in India.
    We are shown through interviews with her parents their grief.
    We witness the massive demonstrations by the public, particularly students over her rape and murder.
    We witness the confronting statements by one of the perpetrators of her rape and murder, and the lawyers who defended him.
    It also includes experts commentating on Indian society and the patriarchal attitudes to women.
    Jyoh was a young woman, 23 years old, who had, against the odds, and at some sacrifice by her parents, just completed her medical training and was about to start her internship as a doctor.

    “She had dreams”.

    But she had the temerity to go to the movies with a male friend. And this is the excuse the perpetrators used for raping and murdering her.

    “A girl is far more responsible for rape than a man” said one of her murderers.

    Comments from the defence lawyers included:

    “Women are flowers, men are thorns.”
    “A woman is a diamond” …if she goes out where she’s not meant to be, then…”a dog would take it out.”
    “There is no place for a woman.”

    It was therefore her fault because she was a woman in a place, with a man she was not related to, where she should not have been.

    This is reminiscent of the police, following rape and murder of a young woman in Australia, warning women not to go to the park.

    Jyoh’s case received world-wide attention. Not because rape and murder of women is rare or unique. But because of the response to this incident.

    Thousands of Indians, mostly students, took to the streets. As one of the expert observers in the film commented it was evidence of:

    “Women’s generalised anger…accumulated anger…gut-wrenching pain.”

    But their public demonstrations we met aggressively by the Indian authorities – with tear gas, batons and water
    Such aggression was met with shock by some of the demonstrators. “As an educated, outspoken person” to be met by such aggression was shocking.

    But what they were challenging was a “historic tradition of patriarchy” which was “highly threatening” to the patriarchal establishment.

    And now this film has been banned in India.

    Vidyut in Women Under Seige has written about this response.

    All of this did lead to an inquiry by a judicial committee of senior judges which apparently made important recommendations for changes to criminal law.

    It was interesting when Kerry O’Brien introduced this documentary on Four Corners. He described India’s culture as

    “fundamentally patriarchal”.

    It was almost as if he was divorcing Western culture from that of India.

    But we know that the same goes on here in Australia.

    real for women1

    31 women killed in Australia in 2015 as counted by Real for Women

    Murder of indigenous women in Canada.

    n-ABORIGINAL-WOMEN-OTTAWA-PROTEST-OCTOBER-large

    “A groundbreaking report released by the RCMP in early 2014, says that 1,181 aboriginal women have gone missing or been murdered in Canada in the last 30 years. While aboriginal women comprise only 4.3 per cent of the Canadian population, they are three times more likely to experience violence than non-Aboriginal women. Aboriginal women also comprise 11.3 per cent of missing women and 16 per cent of female homicides in Canada.”

     from Huffington Post

    Karen Ingala Smith has also been counting murdered women in Britain.

    stop ignoring dead women

    She has also written a recent post when police described the murder of a woman as an “isolated incident”.

    “People need to understand this is an isolated incident.”

    ” We need to be angry about yet another murder of one of our community. If members of any other ‘community’ than women, were being killed by members of another ‘community’, other than men, we would not be talking about isolated incidents.”

    Patriarchal violence is everywhere.

    Can we really expect that educating men will change these ingrained misogynistic behaviour and attitudes towards women – perhaps.

    But the tragic realit for women is that as long as power and control remains in the hands of patriarchal rule – then women will continue to be oppressed – to be subjected to murder, rape, abuse, harassment and discrimination.
    This is a powerful film which highlights the personal tragedy inflicted on Jyoti Singh Pandey and her family – and the horror of patriarchy misogyny embedded within all cultures, including our own.

    smash patriarcy

  • 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

    https://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

  • 24Feb

    margaret atwood fear

    First off let me say that I hate the term ‘family violence’, and am even beginning to lament our use of ‘domestic violence’. It makes it all nicely neatly packaged as a personal problem within families – nobody really to blame.

    It is MALE VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN.

    This is the problem. This is why women are being killed, beaten, raped, imprisoned, violated, controlled, constrained – are scared, are unable to live freely.

    Because of MALE VIOLENCE!!!

    And it is not only male violence in the home – it is male violence in the street, in the workplace, in public places. Women are not safe from male violence anywhere.
    So when QandA announce they are doing a programme on ‘family violence’ we are supposed to be grateful that at last the issue is getting some national coverage on the ABC.

    qandapic
    Well we had the controversy even before the programme aired. Women were rightly annoyed that the composition of the panel was majority male – 3 male guests, 2 female guests and of course, Tony Jones hosting. The complaints about the makeup of the panel were responded to by the oft cited reason –

    “We have to engage the men in addressing family violence”.
    It speaks volumes that in order to engage men, it is other men who have to speak. Women’s voices are not valid.
    The unequal representation of women on the panel says it all really about how we evaluate women’s voices –how women’s voices are not heard; are viewed as being less valuable, less important, less knowledgeable; how we manage to silence women.
    And let’s talk about knowledge. I do not want to hear from men about male violence against women. Women are the experts here. We are the ones who live with violence, the threat of violence every day of our lives. And if men are not willing to sit down quietly, shut up and listen to what that means for women; listen to our experiences of violence; listen to what we have learnt about men and violence – then nothing will change.
    The panel appeared to acknowledge that male violence was about power and control – whilst the men enacted their power and control over the discussion.
    Clem Ford has written about this in Daily Life:

    “Gender inequality is one of the key drivers of men’s violence against women. Limiting the access women have to both participate in and lead discussions that are politically and culturally important isn’t just related to the structures of violence that oppress us – it is a fundamental part of its very foundation. It isn’t good enough for women to just be given a scrap of space to speak, particularly when it’s about matters that directly affect our lives.”

    Intimate Partner Terrorism

    But then we heard that Intimate Partner Terrorism is the extreme end of violence – and they are sociopaths/narcissist – and not the majority. The majority of violence is about relationship problems. (Counsellor for Men and Families Simon Santosha on the panel.)

    I had the privilege of going to a seminar presented by Liz Kelly recently.

    And Georgina Dent has written an article prior to the QandA show citing Liz Kelly.

    “Kelly established the concept of sexual violence occurring on a continuum and identified common elements in different types of violence and connecting them to structural gender inequality.”
    “The everyday is connected to the extreme and it’s connected in two ways. First in terms of women’s experiences but it’s also connected in the sense that it’s not deviant, crazy men who do this,” she says “There are some crazy and deviant men but the majority are relatives, colleagues, or friends. A lot of this violence is normalised; it’s only by challenging it and identifying it that we perceive it as violence.”

    liz kelly

    There is too much talk about psychological explanations for men’s violence – talk about mental health issues; about drug and alcohol being the cause. It came up frequently last night.
    And then of course came the argument that it is the result of men feeling disempowered – perhaps because women are beginning to be empowered??

    Natasha Stott-Despoja’s repeated argument was that gender inequality is at the core of the issue of male violence against women. They all agreed but there was no in-depth discussion about this. There were no suggestions made about how we can create change in the power imbalance between men and women.
    But we have to make sure we take care of men’s feelings – their feelings of shame and embarrassment and their feelings of disempowerment – because if they don’t they just might get violent.

    ENTRENCHED MISOGYNY

    There were lots of good questions from women in the audience. Perhaps the best was the video question from Megan Hale:

    “I am nineteen, I have been sexualised by men my whole life. I do not feel safe when I am alone in public and my experiences have taught me that boys my age feel entitled to my body. I do not feel equal to men in Australian society at all. Can the men on the panel acknowledge that there is a lot of entrenched misogyny in Australia, and what are they going to do to get other men to take gender inequality and male violence seriously?”

    “Entrenched misogyny” – what a great term. And her question was barely responded to. Little acknowledgement from the panel that this exists for all women and no analysis of how this could be addressed.

    WHAT ABOUT MALE VICTIMS?

    And of course we had the tweets – “not all men are abusers”; “what about the men”.

    They can’t allow women to speak; to have a voice without involving the “poor men”.
    This was followed by Steve Khouw asking about male victims and citing dodgy statistics about male victims and female perpetrators.

    “But what I want to know, is why it has to be the very small, flickering torchlight that we place on women that needs to be shared with disempowered men, rather than the massive stage lights that are normally shining on men that need to be shared.”
    “Violence against women is not an issue of ‘why don’t women leave’ or ‘how can we support men who are violent to control their emotions’, it is about how do we fundamentally shake up the building blocks of our society to give women more power, and in doing so, remove the ‘right’ of some men to be violent.”Julie McKay, Daily Life

    What would have been the impact if ABC had chosen an all female panel – with a female host? Would their voices have had legitimacy? Would men have bothered to listen?

    “To end male violence against women, we need to end male power, and dismantle all the institutions that uphold male supremacy. It is this power that creates and is reinforced by male violence against women. We will never end male violence by believing that we can change one man at a time, though sensitising education programmes. We will never end male violence against women by being gentle to men and sympathetic to the harms of masculinity to men, not without destroying the institutions that uphold and create male supremacy. We will never end male violence against women, against children, even against other men, if we fail to recognise and name men as the overwhelming primary perpetrators of almost all forms of violence.” Karen Ingalas Smith.

    Male violence against women is a women’s issue – because women are the ones who constantly live with the consequences of male violence. I don’t want to hear a male perspective on this. I want men to listen to women. I am not responsible for changing men’s behaviour. If men are truly interested in change then they need to listen to women.

    Gillian Middleton Gillian Middleton’s photo

    As Liz Kelly said in her seminar in Adelaide – yes we need changes in social policy; yes we need legislative change; but what we really need is a feminist revolution.

    Women murdered and missing by known and suspected male violence Australia 2015

    real for women

    #countingdeadwomen

    dtj14

  • 09Feb

    The problem with a liberal feminist view of the world is the lack of recognition of the structural nature of the oppression of women and the need to challenge patriarchy.

    An article was written in The Australian today titled:

    “THERE is too little acknowledgment of the importance of male disempowerment in debates surrounding domestic violence.”

    It was written by Tanveer Ahmed described as a psychiatrist and White Ribbon Campaign ambassador.

    mens-choices
    Male dispowerment is a problem then! We’ve had our moment in the sun, gender relations have changed – too far it seems. So when women begin to have a voice, when women begin to demand to be noticed – we have men claiming that the voices of women are disempowering male voices – that there cannot be a shared stage.
    Mr Ahmed is denying exactly what feminists and ant-violence campaigners have been arguing for. He argues exactly against any idea that men have to change; that the socialization of men as aggressors is something positive and that feminists arguing against this are thus disempowering men.

     

    This is such a backlash against feminism, against all the work that has gone into domestic violence campaigns. It is exactly this kind of ‘thinking’ that seriously undermines our attempts to challenge male violence.
    And it is why liberal feminism can never be successful in challenging the oppression of women under patriarchy. Because in patriarchy the male voice always has to win, always has to be heard, always will be louder and stronger than women’s voices.

     

    As was recently commented on in an article by Glosswatch:

    “People don’t want to hear about how women think and feel. They don’t want to picture women as people whom others might actually have to negotiate with. They want “equality” insofar as they want the erasure of all measurable signs of women’s oppression (because let’s face it, these get a bit embarrassing). They do not, however, want this to come at the expense of being allowed to see women as whatever they want them to be at any given moment. We just don’t have space to accommodate the humanity of women as well as that of men. Sisterhood might be powerful, equality might be a fun badge to wear, but casual, unacknowledged misogyny is a hell of a lot more practical.”

    n-WOMAN-IN-THE-SHADOWS-medium

    Yes you are right Mr Ahmed – we do want to disempower men – this is what it is all about – and the reason is because men use their power to control, abuse and violate women. Yes we want to dismantle men’s roles – we want to dismantle patriarchy – we want to stop women being abused, controlled and violated.

     

    Mr. Ahmed argues that radical feminism…

    “defines normal maleness as a ­risible kind of fatuous and reactionary behaviour.”

    Yes Mr. Ahmed ‘normal maleness’ is toxic to women and we do want to get rid of it.
    After centuries of male being the norm, Mr. Ahmed now complains when women start to challenge men – he argues (through his male tears) that women are now the norm. Last I heard women were still being raped, abused, controlled, and oppressed by men.

    He argues:

    “But as the Left increasingly dilutes the notion of biological differences in sex, amusingly illustrated by Greens senator Larissa Waters imploring parents not to buy gender-specific toys for Christmas, we are downplaying the notion that fathers are even desirable.”

    Mr. Ahmed complains about the de-gendering of children’s toys – effectively arguing that disappearing gender – disappearing the differences between men and women is essentially disempowering men. Well yes he is right – disempowering men is about ensuring that the power differentials which are essential to patriarchy are dismantled.

     

    Mr. Ahmed’s article is a sign of backlash and fear – fear of losing male privilege and power.
    So let’s talk about the White Ribbon campaign.

    “White Ribbon Day was created by a handful of Canadian men in 1991 on the second anniversary of one man’s massacre of fourteen women in Montreal. They began the White Ribbon Campaign to urge men to speak out against violence against women.”

    Remember the man who killed 14 women because he hated women – he hated feminists – he resented them and blamed for his own failure to be accepted into engineering at the University.
    The White Ribbon campaign is male-led and receives significant funding from the Federal Government.
    But this article makes us really question what this campaign really aims to achieve. It certainly doesn’t appear to want to address the real issue behind male violence. And it raises the question of how much liberal feminism and its efforts to affect equality within patriarchy can really challenge the oppression of women.

    As the article “Choosing between misogyny and feminism: A practical guide”

    “You couldn’t have racial equality and slavery co-existing, this is obvious and offensive to anyone – so why do people think we can achieve equality of the sexes under patriarchy? How can we have equality in a system that defines all worth as that deemed masculine? When the male and the masculine are the default, and female and women are Other, there can be no equality, only a delusion that we are diminishing or rejecting Otherness by an adoption, a performativity of the default masculine.”

    Posted by glosswatch Jan 24 2015

    fem

     

  • 22Jan

    The New South Wales (Australia) Police Force recently posted on their facebook page that men are victims of domestic violence too. They quoted figures that 1 in every 5 domestic violence incidents the police respond to are where men are victims of domestic violence.

    nsw police
    As Jenna Price pointed out in her article in Daily Life these figures are not explained in the post by the NSW police. There is no information about the perpetrators of such violence and the possibility of male-on-male violence in same-sex relationships. The implication was that all of the perpetrators were women.
    This disappears all of the hard work and activism that feminists have done to highlight the social basis of domestic violence as being reflective of sexism and patriarchy in Australian society.
    The Police then allowed hundreds of posts to the site blaming women for violence against men

    .comments

    and citing dodgy statistics – statistics which Men’s Rights Activists have consistently been using falsely, and which have  been debunked

    “In 2012, Michael Flood delivered a speech to the Queensland Centre for Domestic and Family Violence Research. In it, he debunked the concept of one in five men as victims of partner violence – a product, he said, of an inaccurate analysis of the ABS Personal Safety Survey” as cited by Jenna Price.

    But what is most interesting to me is the context of this and what has been happening in NSW over the last year.

    I wrote about the closure of women’s services in NSW  in a previous article on women’s services.

    SOSWomen’s Services have highlighted the plight of women-only refuges in NSW.
    Under the ‘Going Home Staying Home’ program, the NSW government is failing to support women-only domestic violence services.
    “336 individual services have been consolidated into 149 packages operated by 69 non-government organizations.” Sydney Morning Herald”

    So I ask myself – is this a conspiracy?

    Is the closure of women-only services in NSW related to the Police highlighting male victims of domestic violence?

    Is this an attempt to disappear women’s experience of male violence?
    But there is more.

    According to the Queensland government, male violence against women isn’t even an issue for the criminal system. Doesn’t really exist, one would think.

    qld DtJ post

    Destroy the Joint posted on this:

    “The Newman government in Queensland pretended crime had gone down in the state by ignoring a dramatic increase in these domestic violence figures.”

    As commented on this blog by Bettsie:

    “In Queensland over the past twelve months, there has been considerable focus on legislation and interventions to reduce both bikie crimes and public acts of alcohol related violence with claims they are making a difference in reducing crime and improving community safety, At the same time, there is a shroud of silence over the increased reported incidence of domestic violence, rape and sexual assault.”

    So is this a deliberate policy by neo-liberal governments to silence women’s voices; to disappear male violence against women?

    As I have written before:
    “A considerable advantage of the women’s services sector is that it was developed from feminist advocacy and that a major role of such services was to challenge the social constructs that perpetuate disadvantage for women. Part of the empowering aspect of their work is to join with women using the services to advocate and lobby for changes to systems which create barriers to women’s safety and well-being.”

    The closure of women-only services and focusing attention on male victims of violence is one way to ensure that advocacy and activism which challenge the patriarchal system are silenced.
    The fact is that this is just the norm for patriarchal capitalism. When you are in a position of power and control, why upset the apple cart by listening to women or by involving them in decision-making or by even acknowledging their existence. After all, patriarchal capitalism has done very well thank you without women.
    In fact, for hundreds of years men have made a point of ensuring that they do not share their power and control with women.
    And it might be quite dangerous for them if they acknowledged the hatred, the misogyny, the violence that men inflict on women.

    It might even Destroy the Joint.
    It’s not a conspiracy. It’s just the same old patriarchy.

     

    fem