Rape culture alive and well in Australia

This one has been stewing in the back of my mind for a few days now. The other night I was up late and happened to be watching the ABC late news. Karen Middleton, their erstwhile political reporter, came on screen and told us about the Parliamentary Midwinter ball, at which one Tony Scrinis had wandered around sexually harrassing women. Karen looked quite non-plussed, the first time I’ve seen such a thing from her. Since then, I haven’t seen her at all… Instead there’s some other bloke who hasn’t been on before… No doubt there’s a reasonable explanation for that.

But I digress. What really gave my obstreperal lobe a case of acute feminitis was the fact that the boss of this staffer, Sophie Mirabella, immediately denied that he would have done it.

Now this, girls and boys, is one of the primary problems with rape culture. Denial of the abuse of women by men. The idea that men have a right to help themselves to women’s bodies and if women don’t like it, they’re called liars or beaten up for their trouble.

Note also the article’s focus on whether Sophie Mirabella is suitable for her portfolio and criticisms by Tania Plibersek that she isn’t… Omission of any criticism of the activities of the man in question.

Opposition frontbencher Tony Smith has told Channel Ten says that is ridiculous.

“Yesterday I saw you calling for action on the staffer, the staffer is no longer employed,” he said.

“He behaved appallingly, everyone acknowledges that, and within the day, he had ceased employment.”

In otherwords he lost his job for getting caught. Where’s the indictment? Where’s the police investigation? Where’s the judgment and rejection other than a piss-weak “it was appalling”?

It’s like something out of one of those hideous crime shows where any woman who claims rape and is still alive is portrayed as a liar, and the only genuine victims are those who show up dead and hideously mutilated. Imagine the subtle effect this would have on jurors, police and judges if they watched a couple of hours of this crap every week before having to be involved in a rape case.

“He wouldn’t have done that.” = “Those lying bitches deserve to be treated like meat.”

It also serves to keep other women quiet about abuses they’ve suffered at the hands of men. Not to mention the psychological damage it does to men, to preserve the destructive gender roles that support rape culture.

Such denial is commonplace in Australian culture as well as the global fungus we import from the US. Shortly after Ms Mirabella’s staff member decided to drunkenly grope a number of women at a Parliamentary ball, a woman in South Australia won a sexual harrassment case.

Ms Poniatowska was awarded $466,000 plus costs, which her lawyer believes is the highest awarded for such a case in Australia.

“I am very happy, not only for myself but for all people who are being harassed at workplaces,” Ms Poniatowska said outside court.

“I would strongly recommend not being afraid to stand up for their rights.

Is it my imagination or does the description of the compensation as “huge” imply that it is undeserved?

Notice the conclusion, however. The last word…

The company said in a statement it contested the claim because “to take any other course of action would have been wrong”.

It says it will lodge an appeal against the decision.

Ah huh. She should shut up like a good little cunt and put up with abuse at work by *four* men… Didn’t she get the memo that the sex class are expected to say nothing and look pretty?

How is it wrong to admit to something you’ve stuffed up over? How is it wrong to admit that you’ve been a complete misogynist pig and need counselling probably for fucking years? Someone should give these Hickinbotham creeps a memo of their own: It’s the 21st century and regardless of ten years of Howard’s conservative christian patriarchal abuses, women are in fact human.

Jesus tapdancing Christ, are we ever going to get out of this goddamned locker room?

Australia’s shame. Rudd’s neglect.

Further in my series of discontent. This morning I happened across an article in The Australian about a family in crisis. Well, not only is the family in crisis, the State’s child welfare system is an appalling mess.

…eight children living in a three-bedroom house with mice and rubbish in every room.

Four had disabilities: some couldn’t hear properly; some couldn’t walk properly; all were malnourished and had head lice. Several had broken bones, and none could use a knife and fork.

Their mother, a young Sunni Muslim woman, veiled from head to toe, found caring for the children impossible, especially as the older ones grew wilder, and then violent. Her husband, an Iraqi, is believed to have at least two other women he refers to as his “wives” and they, too, have children.

He moves between their different houses. None had paid work.

The NSW Department of Community Services has known of the situation for years; and has surely also known that it was a disaster waiting to happen.

And if you think it’s only the NSW system that’s a disaster, Victoria’s was found to be introducing pre-teen children to drugs and prostitution.

Let’s ignore for a moment the implicit criticism of the mother for being a veiled Muslim, particularly since the article goes on to comment on one foster mother who came to the rescue who took veils off the young girls… Who gives a rats what they wear on their heads if we’re talking about a situation of domestic disaster? Is it only Muslims who have trouble raising kids? It would be interesting to see the comparative stats on white, Christian families who are in crisis. Considering the Government is funding religious schools who train children in the psychopathology of conservative christianism, there’s probably shit loads.

The point is this. The Rudd Government actively discriminates against women and children seeking to leave situations like this. Kevin Rudd denies adequate support for women who are single mothers trying their hardest to provide for their children. He has maintained the bias against women of the Howard Liberal Government and is apparently in denial that he hates women.

Surely if you were in a position to do something about a situation like this, about many, many other people in similar circumstances in Australia right now, you would do something constructive. If you were in a situation to address terrible injustices that had been done previously and make things easier for people to keep their heads above water, you would do so. Yet our Prime Minister, who has been on occasion found drunk in a stripper bar and reprimanded for manhandling the dancers, is too busy criticising a celebrity chef over his abuse of a TV host, to bother addressing one of the worst, most hideous cases of discrimination against women and children in the developed world.

And to make matters worse, not only does Kevin Rudd actively discriminate against women and children who’ve had to leave violent, dangerous, demeaning or otherwise unnaceptable domestic circumstances, he neglects to support families struggling to support children through high school. While having made apparently non-core promises about improving education and enabling children to further their education, support of families ends when a child turns 16, just when they hit the hardest, most expensive school years. He’s also planning to make further changes to welfare law to make it harder for children without jobs to claim any form of welfare. Why on earth, in times when jobs are supposed to be getting harder to come by, would you put pressure on children to leave school and look for work, to compete for jobs with other employees when they could be staying in school and improving their education? And why, if we’re having so much trouble looking after the children who are here, would you be paying a baby bonus to encourage people to have more? (Not to mention there’s already 6 billion people on the planet!)

The fact that the State Governments are responsible for foster care systems does not distract from the Federal Government’s discrimination against single parents. While the children referred to in that article have been living in such dreadful suffering, what has the State Government been doing? Pointing the finger at bikers in an attempt to get re-elected on a law and order platform. Scapegoating bastards.

These are only two of the current hypocrisies of the Rudd Government. And if you think the Liberals would be any better, consider that they created this disgusting, exploitative situation in which we now find ourselves. Why on earth can we not vote for someone who doesn’t hate the poor? Why do the two major parties continue to use people who’ve fallen on hard times and those who are struggling as political footballs to earn themselves points for re-election?

How did Australians become such bastards?

Lay off Amy Winehouse.

At a Sunday bike fix not long ago Val had some music playing on his bike’s loudspeakers. It’s a setup with an old car amp and speakers on panniers on the back of the bike running off an ipod. Kinda dinky.

A song came on with the most beautiful smokey blues voice and I asked him who was singing. Sure enough it was Amy Winehouse singing “Back to black” from her latest album. I was very impressed. I had no idea quite how good she is.

The discussion came up about her supposed drug use. Fancy that, a musician doing drugs. What will the world come to! ;-) Of course, when you think about it drug use has sometimes seemed almost mandatory for anyone in the arts and music scene. Before there was heroin and tablets there was always wine, hash and opium. For many thousands of years these things were available legally.

It is no coincidence that opiate drugs work so well because they fit the endorphin receptors in the human brain. How many thousands of years were these plants cultivated by humans for exactly that purpose?

A large part of the complaint about Ms Winehouse came from the US trash media. I’m beginning to wonder if it wasn’t because they’re jealous of her talent. The US media seem to think they’re the whole point of evolution and planetary development sometimes.

Not to mention inventing the war on drugs. Using “save the children” (TM) as a cover, in spite of the drugs industry in the US being second only to petrochemicals as a money spinner and many large drug companies being based in Texas… conservative politicians have created a you-beaut-wonderful straw man to use as a whipping boy to distract punters every time another one of them gets busted for snorting crack and screwing street kids. There isn’t really a war on drugs or the troops in Afghanistan would be helping set up schools and hospitals, not stuck in a penny ante tit for tat with guerillas armed by the Saudis. Same is true in Colombia. They could have had farms growing food, instead the US wanted coffee and coke, so they set about upending South American economies with standover tactics described as free trade agreements.

Aside from all of that, the real problems with illegal drugs are mainly the fact that they’re illegal. If they weren’t brewed up in backyard dunnies and cut with rat poison, we’d have plenty of pills kids could try out safely. Those who are going to get addicted can always get addicted to legal or illegal drugs and at least there’d be some safeguards and harm minimisation in place.

Humans are always going to want to alter their consciousnesses. Hell, we’ve only really had an egotistic “I” conscious self for a few thousand years anyways. Maybe drugs helped trigger this evolution? If Governments really gave a rats arse about the damage done by illegal drugs they would be setting programs in place and ignoring the hysteria in the media. Or at the very least not exploiting it in the name of re-election. How about exploring some of the reasons why kids want to do drugs? How about some limits on the emotional abuse and sexual content of advertising that pushes people over the edge? (And if you think that’s an overstatement consider that advertising is known to affect and alter the physical function of your brain).

In the meantime give Amy a break. The last thing the poor girl needs is to be a scape goat for a slow news week in Hollywood. Heh, the people that castigate her on television look like they’re made of plastic anyway.

Male privilege circumvented by teh ‘nets and geek grrrls.

Hoyden has founded the Australian chapter of Hollaback. Hollaback Aus is a blog where you can post pics of men who have been harrassing you, should you record them on your mobile or digital camera.

* A note to harassers: All emails containing threats, bluster, abuse, insults, rudeness, and general douchehoundery may be published, here or elsewhere, and/or appropriate action taken. Harassers and their apologists have no expectation of privacy on this blog.

H/T to Twisty for this one.

Yay. That’s it. Fortunately I don’t have a use for it presently, unless I scope back through my past and take pics of various church ministers, adoptive father and other assorted retrograde semi-human evolutionary anomalies…. But what a freaking great idea! Out the bastards. And mucho kudos for any woman who makes use of it.

Happy May Day!

Well, it’s that time of year again. While students in Korea and employees in Russia might be celebrating with a vodka or a riot, things will probably be quieter in the land down under. We may still be waiting for a revolution. You know, realising that people are human beings and not units of labour. Remembering that we’re part of the life of the planet and not merely consumers. Connecting with some sort of idea that humans created what we think of as the economy or culture and that if we made this one, we can just as easily make it into something else. Something more practical, more inclusive and less damaging.

In Australia women are particularly still waiting for a revolution. In recent days we’ve been vilified, stabbed, shot and raped… Not to mention the legislation of financial abuse that hasn’t been altered or even addressed by the current Government.

In spite of all this, Happy May Day. Because we can change it if we want to. It’s a waning moon at the moment, a good time for banishing and letting go. A good time for rituals that release all the stuff in the past that’s unhelpful and poisonous. Time to clear the decks in order to move forward.

Not that it would be beneficial to repress the past and forget it’s lessons. Simply that forever focussing on the evils in the world, all the horrible things that men do to each other and to women, can be so dreadfully depressing and seemingly hopeless. We continue on, often in spite of the carnage going on around us. We persevere hoping that in the midst of the abuse, we can create something for ourselves and experience life, love and laughter with friends.

And in spite of all the bullshit in the media and corporate construct, we can still spend some time in the bush reconnecting with the sacred natural.

Blessed be.

Anglicans play catch up.

Which is marginally better than the Catholics in this instance, who aren’t even in the race.

Last week it was announced that Kay Goldsworthy will be consecrated bishop in May. Despite the ongoing dispute by neanderthal throwbacks in the Sydney diocese who seem to equate women with some odd variety of ornamental cattle, Ms Goldsworthy will become Australia’s first woman bishop. For what it’s worth, the Baptists (who are a diverse bunch) have been ordaining women for years and don’t have women bishops because they don’t have bishops at all.

Kay Goldsworthy was ordained back in 1992 by Peter Carnley, who made a few waves back then.

What caught my attention in this news was the tellie article on the ABC, which included a statement by Archbishop Herft:

“The church has brought about diminishment to women in the world and in the church,” he said.
“So there needs to be a time where we say in this act we are also saying sorry to those many women for whom the church has been a place of isolation and exclusiveness.”

ABOUT BLOODY TIME!

Not that this will scratch the surface of the damage done over the last 1700 years by crazed celibate monks and priests so deluded by their hatred of women that the entire gender was socially and culturally relegated to sex-caste throughout the world. The hatred and spite continues to this day. It has become entrenched in every layer of secular society where the leaders of business, law, medicine, religion and academia are mostly educated in religious schools that maintain the cultural subordination of women as a reality.

Even this most minute alteration to the overwhelming dominance on men and masculinity within the organisation has brought the expected disagreement from Sydney, who are notorious misogynists and retrograde puritanical control-freaks. How dare a mere woman attempt to exercise any leadership over men!

At the very least, the quote above is a public acknowledgement on behalf of a very small group of religious people in a corner of the land down under, that organised religion has been doing great damage to women.

That, at least, is appreciated. Now to get on with rearranging and correcting the rest of the construct, the other 99.9% of religion and male dominated phallocracy.

Changing the guard.

Well, will you look at that! Australia now has a female Governor-General. Whoopee!

On the one hand I could be all very cynical and gripe about it’s about bloody time and generally the only women promoted by the old-boys-club tend to be those conservatives who support the lords of lechery… However, this woman is being touted as one of Australia’s premier feminists and someone who has a good deal of experience as well as the desire to support necessary changes for gender equality. Hehe, it’s all over the news. My daughter has turned on the tellie out in the lounge and I can hear Bryce being discussed as I type.

Quentin Bryce was the sex-discrimination commissioner from 1988 to 1993 and has a comprehensive resume including plenty of law and politics. Michelle Grattan, the political editor at The Age has written a very encouraging piece about Bryce this morning.

The post of Governor-General is still pretty much a ceremonial one in Aus, so it’s not as if the change will suddenly flick a switch and dissolve all the cock-culture that’s accumulated in the land down under, but we’re all hoping that every little gain will begin to hammer home the message that women are human, goddamnit! Even in a symbolic office the picture is very clear. A woman has risen to the top in Australia. Not on her back. Not with her boobs hanging out. Not as a prop or decoration for the all important menz magazines. As a qualified, experienced, intelligent and capable human being.

Viva la revolution!!!

Other coverage from ABC Ilfracombe’s new claim to fame Wiki entry and the Queensland G-G’s bio page.