Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Woody's Witches

So this is what a witch looks like one is to presume, as she - film director and former actor Sarah Polley - is one of the women now speaking out about Weinstein and other Hollywood men in power who abused her and other women and got away with it for decades. Indeed she describes Weinstein as merely "one festering pustule in a diseased industry."

To use Woody Allen's phrase, women like Polly who speak out about these abuses threaten us with "a witch hunt atmosphere" that is "not right either". Indeed to quote Woody in full:

“You also don’t want it to lead to a witch hunt atmosphere, a Salem atmosphere, where every guy in an office who winks at a woman is suddenly having to call a lawyer to defend himself. That’s not right either.”

Why is that not right, Woody? My PhD supervisor used to wink at me whenever he felt like it and I did not like it one bit, it felt like and was a demeaning abuse of his power. He was Head of Department at the time.

It should not be up to men - as it always has been - to decide what is and what is "not right" in terms of their actions towards us, not least men in powerful positions, such as Woody and Weinstein and Trump - and my former supervisor. The list is long. Women need to have our say, to speak to power, and so we are, and let's hope that the men who try to silence us this time by calling us witches do not, for once, prevail. 

So bring on the witches, stand aside Woody, Weinstein and all the other winking wankers.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Battle of the Sexes


Writing my thesis on women who kill their abusers, I was all too aware of the tendency of those who are quick to condemn these women, along with the refuge workers who try to help them avert this outcome - as well as the much more common outcome of the murder of the abused woman - as 'man-hating feminazis', I challenged the notion that these women and the feminists like me who support them in trying to prevent and fairly punish the perpetrators of domestic violence are engaged in a 'battle of the sexes' with all men.

This concept 'battle of the sexes' I - and various other feminists before me - argued was unhelpful, as it only fed into men's characterisation and condemnation of feminist efforts to make the world a fairer place for women as a battle waged against anyone, which it is not. It is a battle for justice against injustice, which is not a person or a gender but a complex system of discrimination and dehumanisation that treats male humans, even before they are born - even before they are conceived - as superior to and more important than female humans (a fundamental, all-encompassing injustice) and in doing so directly and indirectly causes the violent abuse of girls and women that reduces the human experience for everyone.

Men wage war and fight us-versus-them battles between different groups of people, including men and women. Women - at least feminists - fight for justice, a many-sided never-ending battle without winners - yet. We are all losers in that battle right now and we will all be winners if it is ever won, a possibility that is a million miles - but hopefully not quite as many years - away, but a possibility nonetheless. 

For this reason I am not a fan of the name given to the film about Billie Jean King's life and the tennis match she played against Bobby Riggs, but I do like and highly recommend the film even so. It's a moving and telling real-life story about a great tennis champion and feminist who fought against gender discrimination in sport that should have been told in film a long time ago. That it is being finally told in 2017, forty-four years after the event, is no doubt testimony to the significant strides feminists have made in the film industry and beyond in the last few years, if not this year in particular, thanks, in large part, to Hillary Clinton.

If you have to lose the battle to win the war, as she did, then so be it, but it is nice to win some of those battles too. Thanks, Billie Jean King; you are a feminist hero indeed.





 



Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Guns r US


Guns don't kill people, people do.

Never a bigger lie was told to make a dirty dollar than this one.

People (men) with guns kill and maim people by the tens of thousands every year in the divided states of America. The statistics on mass shootings alone as published here in the Guardian (1,516 mass shootings in 1735 days) are so unfuckingbelievable it is surely beyond the comprehension of any sane person with a human head and heart to grasp.

And yet we the sane and sincere of heart have to live - and many of us die - with the reality that this is our fucked up, shot up world, especially if we happen to live in the US, but we all kind of live a little in the US these days. What happens there shapes everyone's values, fates and fears to some extent.

I was in Boston (with husband and daughter) about to train through Connecticut the day of the horrifying (can't find an adequate adjective, this will have to do) school shooting there of 26 six-year-olds and their teachers ten days before Christmas 2012 by a 20-year-old with a semi-automatic weapon (he also shot his mother) and will NEVER FORGET the images and stories of unimaginable grief from the parents followed by the despicably callous and totally fucked up response from the NRA and gun lobby suggesting the answer is to get primary-school teachers to wear and be ready to use guns at all times.

Of course arming primary-school teachers is not going to stop a Las Vegas-type massacre. To stop that cowardly machine-gunning down of hundreds of people from the safety and comfort of a hotel room without restricting the sale of fast-fire guns to civilians - something Democrats have been trying and failing to do for decades - you'd have to frisk everyone who walks through the doors of a hotel in Las Vegas and everywhere else in America (and scan their luggage), every time they walk through the door not just on check-in, for guns. Because the latest mass-shooting cowardly fucktard had a dozen assault weapons in his hotel room, long guns he obviously couriered up to his room unseen. Or perhaps he carried them out in the open dressed as Rocky and no one batted an eye, because it's all so lovely and legal. So even if this level of frenzied frisking were possible, you would still need a law banning the transportation of assault weapons into a hotel, which seems inconceivable.

No, that will never happen, not in the land of the free and the home of the brave.

These reactions to the Vegas shooting from Ellen and Jimmy Kimmel should be seen by all.








Monday, September 25, 2017

Menism


So New Zealand, the country that first granted women the vote, has just shown in its re-election of a right-wing party that is essentially of and for men, that it, like the US, continues to stand at the altar of menism, the first (and last) cult indeed.

In its desperate bid to curb the rise of women - justice, equality and truth - the corrupt cult of Menism worldwide is reviving and regrouping against these ideals that women have consistently fought and voted for. Indeed they are the ideals and values of feminism alone, not socialism, not liberalism, not environmentalism.

It is a sad day for New Zealand, and for the world, that with such a clear alternative in favour of equality, justice and truth presented to us we have voted for this corrupt cult yet again, if not all of us (46%) and there remains a slight possibility of a centre-left coalition government forming yet, but only with the help of a paid up member of the cult gone rogue, a man now being called, and treated as, 'King-maker' indeed, which says it all.  

And so just like America, so like America, though we pretend otherwise of course -- English (so aptly named) has better hair and is less orange but no less hairy and white -- we baulked at the gates of freedom and showed we could not handle the truth and did not care about justice. An opportunity missed; hopefully the last.



   





Saturday, September 23, 2017

VOTE


As they say, stand up (hand up) and be counted or sit down and shut up. Your choice.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

The people's politician


In the first country in the world to grant women the vote, on this 124th anniversary of Suffrage Day indeed, if ever there was a clear choice to take a country forward into a future that has any hope of bringing about improvements in the quality of life and prospects for the majority of its people and doing the opposite of that by continuing to increase the obscene income and asset inequality between the richest 1-5% of people living in that country and everyone else by cutting public education, community sector and health care funding that removes vital support life-lines to all sorts of people struggling with life, increases the debt a whole generation of young people head into their futures with while extending the length of time people wait with life-threatening illnesses for treatment in the public health system, for the sake of cutting taxes to the rich and opening up borders and loopholes to allow overseas property speculation and ownership to price the younger generation out of any prospect of home ownership in the country's cities where the job opportunities are, along with those who have underpaid public service jobs in the education and health care sectors who are unable to afford the cost of living to remain in the cities, bringing about chronic shortages of teachers and nurses in those cities that are ultimately handed over to the rich and greedy here and overseas to outbid mid-level investors and buy up large with no intention of living on the land they buy for the profits they squirrel away into trust funds that escape taxes on and or send offshore to build the economies of countries elsewhere, it is the choice between LABOUR and its new no-bullshit, let's-do-this-good-and-right-thing young leader Jacinda Ardern and the other party with its been-around-in-wrong-wing-politics-forever-and-never-done-a-thing-to-improve-the-well-being-of-his-country's-people leader in the upcoming New Zealand general election this Saturday! (Apologies for the long sentence but those buggers have been in power a long time, so it's fitting).

Lead the way for New Zealand and this worried world, New Zealand, show us, and everyone beyond our shores who has a functioning bull-shit detector, that we know what we are doing and will help you to know and do the right thing too! Let's do this!

 

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Cal and Clementine

So my youngest, Cal (not short for anything) turns 19 today, which makes me feel, shall we say, less than young, but also grateful that he has reached such a significant age, relatively unscathed and happy.

He is an interesting, somewhat unusual study of a boy-man and his father and I look forward to his future, fairly confident that he will do well in the world, just quite unsure how.  But that uncertainty makes it more exciting, in many ways. At least it did...

Last night, Cal's father and I went to listen to a talk by Australian feminist online activist and author of Fight Like a Girl, Clementine Ford (who has a baby son of her own) and the issues she highlighted about the obscenely misogynistic abuse she gets on a daily, hourly basis online - examples of which she displayed screen shots of - from teenage boys and adult men made me more nervous than I had been about the future for both of my sons and, indeed, for my daughter (who is a feminist).

I have been a feminist a long time, as you know, and have faced considerable backlash from anti-feminists within my wider family and friend circle, as well as from the public at large, researching and writing as I did for many years on domestic violence and homicide, a subject that made me angry and outspoken at a time when the F-word and anger about sexism was rarely spoken of in the media without derision.

But the 'hate male', as Clementine cleverly and unflinchingly calls the online onslaught of abuse she receives from men, young and old, some of them pictured with their children, is so relentlessly misogynist and demeaning to women, wishing her raped and dead in so many vile ways, telling her how ugly and fat she is, and using their real names more often than not, suggesting they feel quite safe and sure in their community and families to be openly threatening and misogynist, that my anxiety about the future of all our sons and our daughters was taken to another level.

I was also, however, reassured that women like Clementine are out there increasingly, fighting the good fight for justice for girls and boys, fighting like a girl indeed. Because girls will stick up for boys in a way that boys will not and have not stuck up for girls, and the same goes for women and men. So few persons of the male gender have actively fought for women and gender justice throughout history and this continues to be true. Many have actively fought against it, of course, about a third of men in the western world are actively abusive towards women, while the bulk of men have remained 'neutral', which amounts to a passively sexist denial of the abuse and injustice suffered by women at the hands of men. They don't want to think about it. They get the luxury of not having to, or they have done. This must change and is beginning to.

There was Q & A after Clementine's talk but I left others to ask the questions, which I kind of regret now. But what I wanted to ask, about how to be a good feminist mother to teenage boys, I felt was too hard and too close to the bone. And I have struggled with this task, to be honest. I also felt that I should have something clearer than I did have to say on the subject, rather than to expect Clementine, at 36, with only a baby son at this stage, to speak to such a difficult and pressing issue. Because the raising of boys to not be sexist and abusive to girls and women is hard enough in an openly misogynistic world, but the harder struggle, arguably, the one I continue to fight, is to raise them not to be passive and 'neutral' or in denial about sexism and misogyny and their complicity in it if they do and say nothing against it.

And so it is to that ultimate gender-justice struggle that I now turn my pen to at length. In fact I had already embarked on such a project, but Clementine and my boys (young men) growing up so fast and practically living online where so much of the hate happens, have given the project the extra push it needed.

So thank you courageous Clementine, and a happy and healthy birthday to you, curious Cal. Together, you have inspired me and together, I hope, we can do this difficult but totally worthwhile and wonderful thing.