Foolishness? or Misogyny?

Perhaps both in equal measure – foolish misogyny from a misogynistic fool.  Yes, Steve Fielding I am taking about you. Do you seriously believe that

“Drug addicts and welfare cheats can go out there and get themselves pregnant and then after 20 weeks have an abortion and still pocket the Government’s cash,” he said.

Family First Senator Steve Fielding has been condemned by other senators for suggesting women might have an abortion after 20 weeks to try to claim paid parental leave.

I have to wonder if you are serious – do you really believe that women are cunning and calculating enough to get pregnant, then have a late-term abortion, then claim that it was a stillbirth and then OMG! shamelessly take the government’s money. Kinda a lot to go through for the minimum wage for 18 weeks, I mean, the supposed diabolical pregnancy would last longer than the cash flow.

But perhaps you are serious, after your religion has inculcated you with the belief that women are responsible for the entry of evil into the world, and I suppose that if that’s the basis of your twisted logic, I can see how you might seriously think that masses of evil women could rort the system in such a manner. Seriously, though, when Barnaby Joyce is telling you that what you are doing is contemptuous [perhaps he meant contemptible?] then perhaps you really should take a long hard look at yourself.

I wholeheartedly agree with News with Nipples who awarded you the Tony Abbott Budgie Smuggler award for Excellence in the Field of Misogyny. So take your award and go listen to the angels.

Every now and then

I am reminded of how deeply conservative Australian culture is.

And I am disappointed. Not disappointed for myself, I am not directly affected. My life is both comfortable and safe. My relationship has long been deemed worthy by the state and is privileged by virtue of marriage and heteronormality. But what about the relationships of my youngest sibling, the one who had to flee our small town for the bright lights of the big city in order to survive? Why can’t the future partnership in that life be deemed worthy of recognition, privilege, protection?

I know that not all of those in homosexual relationships want marriage. I know in some circles its seen as irredeemably conservative, patriarchal and exploitative. But I also know that there are many couples who desire to have the love of their lives recognised as such. Who wish to celebrate their partnerships with a publicly recognised ceremony. Who wish to have their relationships validated as marriage. Who by virtue of the fact that the person that they share their life with is the same sex as them, their commitment to one another is not seen as being worthy of being ‘marriage’.

I believe that by recognising same-sex relationships in marriage, the relationship of same sex couples who choose not to marry are also validated, as the option would be there even if they chose not to take it up. They would be free to reject marriage, rather than be rejected by it. The privilege accorded to heterosexuality would be challenged.

Right now, the Rudd government is attempting to have its cake and eat it too when it comes to the vexed issue of same-sex marriage. On the one hand, the conservatives are being appeased. Marriage is deemed to be ‘sacred’ and ‘natural’ and is defined in law as being between a man and a woman (doubtless in that order). On the other hand, laws have been changed so that same sex relationships are recognised and a accorded a sort-of pseudo equality (with hetero relationships) before the law, that falls well short of being understood as marriage. (This situation is not without its critics). It seems pretty cowardly to me. For tax purposes, same-sex relationships count, so the State benefits.  In addition, to some extent, our human rights obligations are fulfilled as many forms of legal discrimination and inequality have been dismantled. But in regards to marriage, and the attendant status and privilege, the state will not extend these benefits to same-sex relationship. You know what, almost equality is not equality.

Here’s a list of how the Senators voted, so you know who to excoriate write to to express anger and disappointment.

Australia Day: Thank goodness that’s over for another year

Upon observing a spike in stats here on Australia Day, I note with some pleasure that my un-Australian musings from last year are being revisited. (My thoughts haven’t changed, create a new holiday, not on ‘Invasion Day’ and put it somewhere like July or August – a time of year when we could all do with a day off). This year I was again troubled by the thought that this year’s public holiday would be marred by the violence that soured last year’s events. (The signs were not good, not only the ‘cheap, cheap’ stores, but also Target and Big W, were stocking up on patriotic wear for the whole family and then there was the sudden appearance of a large Australian flag in my neighbour’s front window).  But things don’t seem to have been that bad this year. A quick (and I do emphasise quick, share in comments any stories that I’ve missed) peruse of the interwebs has not turned up the ‘Boozy Australia Day brawl deplorable’ type headlines of last year, but rather, I did find various commentators critiquing the seemingly ubiquitous ‘patriotic’ bad behaviour that emerges this time of year. See, for examples, Marieke Hardy on ABC’s the Drum, John Birmingham in the Brisbane Times, Shakira Hussein at the Stump, and tigtog at Hoyden About Town. Our Kev chooses not to indulge in rhetoric about keeping out the so-called undeserving to mark the holiday, he pontificates on other topics, (I wish the leader for the Opposition would show the same restraint).

(Prime example of patriotic bumper sticker)

Here we celebrated in a very low-key fashion, with a quiet BBQ with some friends that we have been meaning to catch up with since before Christmas. Unlike the rest of the street – the party only ended when our neighbour’s brawling united everyone in their desire to get them to calm down. After the police had been and gone and taken home a couple of young girls who didn’t feel safe in the street we could all get some sleep. This morning as I cleaned up the beer bottles from the front gutter I couldn’t help but wonder why a day putatively about celebrating the great things about  Australia so often brings out the worst in us.

Activism: Marriage Equality Amendment Bill 2009

Currently there is a senate inquiry into the Marriage Equality Amendment Bill 2009

From Australian Marriage Equality:

The Bill seeks to amend the federal Marriage Act so that same-sex partners are able to marry in Australia, and to recognise same-sex marriages legally entered into overseas.

The inquiry will be conducted by the Senate’s Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee. No date has yet been set for a close of submissions, so we suggest you make your submission as soon as possible. The inquiry is due to report by 26 November 2009.

In 2004, an inquiry into the Howard Government’s ban on same-sex marriage received more submissions than any other Senate inquiry in history; 13,000 against same-sex marriage and 3000 in favour. Please join us in ensuring that the balance of submissions to the 2009 inquiry more accurately reflects majority community support for equality.

Anyone can make a submission, not just those in a same-sex relationship. It is also very important for our politicians to hear from family, friends, work colleagues and other supporters of our community.

Australian Marriage Equality have a niffy form set up so that you can send in a submission, and it is found here. I urge you to get political and support this important bill.  I wrote and sent in my submission before I had a poke around the the site which offers some great suggestions for what to submit. I had the following to say (my own words not bolded):

Dear Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee,

This is my submission to your inquiry into marriage equality. I fully endorse the submission made by Australian Marriage Equality in favour of the Marriage Equality Amendment Bill 2009.

As our parliamentary representatives you are entrusted by us to act on the will of the people.  In light of polling which shows that a majority of Australians are pro marriage for same-sex couples I feel that it is wrong to withhold the privilege of marriage from any section of the community.  Particularly as the government now recognises and taxes as a couple same-sex partnerships, it seems to me to be churlish and bigoted to deny same-sex couples the status that is accorded wedded heterosexual unions.

Historically marriage was extremely patriarchal and based on an economic agreement between a groom and the bride’s father, the bride being exchanged between them like chattel.  Long gone are the days when women were considered to be the property of men.  Marriage used to have little to do with love and was undertaken for pragmatic reasons such as economic survival.  Marriage in (post)modernity is considered to be a union based on love, and the ideology supporting marriage has evolved from those unenlightened times when women were only valued for their reproductive capacities.  With the development of contraceptives, and changes in our socio-economic system, the production of progeny is no longer a defining characteristic of marriage.

Previously only men were given legal rights within marriage  – he represented the family, her rights were subsumed by his under the process of coverture.  Feminist agitation has removed most traces of coverture from marriage and men and women are now equal within marriage.  Both parties to the marriage have the right to vote and to represent the family economically.  Thus, the patriarchal family model, with the male who headed the household and represented it economically and legally, no longer exists.  There is now no longer any reason why the parties to marriage now have to be of a different gender.

As a married heterosexual women I do not believe that my relationship should be accorded status and privilege that is denied to other loving relationships on the basis of long gone past held beliefs and rejected ideology.

Hope amidst the darkness

Photo by Andrew Caird

Photo by Andrew Caird

I don’t have words to describe the horror of the weekend fires that have ravaged Victoria and taken so many lives, homes and land. My heart is heavy and goes out to the affected families. But one thing I have seen is that in the face of such tragedy Australians have reached out to help those in need. The government has pledged to pay whatever it takes to rebuild the decimated communities (contrast that to the underwhelming reaction of the US government in the face of Hurricane Katrina). But more heartening than that is the massive out pouring of charitable giving in the face of this disaster.

Public donations to Victoria bushfire disaster tops $30 million

Bushfires spur record blood donations

Fodder donations pour in for fire-hit farmers

Socceroos donate match fees from World Cup qualifier to bushfire appeal

Cricket proceeds to go to Vic bushfire victims

Cohen and Kelly pledge $200,000 for bushfire victims

This is not a comprehensive list. There are many other examples of people helping out, from finding ways to respond  locally – such as Clem Bastrow of the Dawn Chorus’ drive for toiletries, to internationally, this guy from Toronto, Canada who is auctioning his guitar to raise money for the victims of the fires and floods.

This outpouring of giving warms my heart and makes the tragedy a little easier to bear. The knowledge that many many people are responding to this by finding ways to do what they can for those that have lost so much. In this I find an Australia that I can be proud to be a part of, a humanity that I don’t despair about.

Unfortunately disaster not only brings out the best in most of us, it brings out the worst in some. This ghoul is claiming that the fires are God’s punishment upon Vic for decriminalising abortion. (This man is a Minister for Catch the Fire Ministries, he calls himself a Christian but is using human misery to peddle his beliefs). It saddens me that people are using this tragedy to point fingers, score political points and scam people.

View of Melbourne from scorched fields of Kinglake West Picture by David Geraghty via news.com.au

View of Melbourne from scorched fields of Kinglake West Picture by David Geraghty via news.com.au

If you do wish to do anything (donate money, clothes, shelter, look after animals, etc) this website is a good starting point – The Victorian Bushfires: Other ways to give

Further to my “Un-Australian” musings – here be links

In the Sydney suburb of Manly, hundreds of youths draped in “Aussie pride” livery wore slogans declaring “f–k off we’re full” as they smashed car windows and ran up the famous Corso targeting non-white shop keepers.    (From the LP post, link below)

Picture of Australia Day revelers at Manly Beach, their bodies adorned with the slogan “Fuck off we’re full” (via Lauredhel@Hoyden About Town, see here more info and discussion about this image)

Unbelievably enough, bearing in mind our discussion about flag wearing Aussies and the seedy side of patriotism, there was some trouble yesterday of the Australia Day kind.  Let me make plain I am not saying that Australia Day is bad, in fact, there are many council run events and fundraisers and family picnics and all sorts of other lovely things that happen on Australia Day. Unfortunately some celebratory things were marred by trouble.  It seems that the darker side of patriotism is growing more noticeable – discussed here in depth on the LP thread. Upon hearing about the events described above, my nearest and dearest noted “Nationalism is only one step away from Facism.”   So anyhows, for your information here we have a collection of news stories about Australia Day happenings.

Rudd rejects Australia Day change

Kevin Rudd, who last year delivered a formal apology to Aboriginal Australians for past injustices, has rejected the idea. “Let me say,” he said, “a simple, respectful, but straightforward no”.

Rees slams Oz Day brawlers

Nathan Rees says he is concerned some people are still trying to hijack Australia Day celebrations.

“Absolutely reprehensible that people use the cloak of Australia Day or indeed the flag as insignia or a flag itself to dress up what is bigoted behaviour,” he said.

Boozy Australia Day brawl deplorable: police

No arrests made in Lennox Head Australia Day brawl

Police praise well-behaved Australia Day festivities

Riot police called to quell Aust Day brawl

Policewoman punched during Hunter brawl

and in other Australia Day news

Sex on Fire tops triple j’s hottest 100

American rock band Kings of Leon has taken out the number one place on triple j’s hottest 100 countdown with their song Sex on Fire.

Billed as “the biggest music poll in the world”, the annual Australia Day countdown took place live from Parramatta Park in Sydney.

On a more personal note, apparently a group of youths tried to pick a fight with my little bro (he’s 18 ) at the Melbourne BDO.  His current facebook status :    “ sticking feathers up ur butt does not make u a chicken, wearing a flag as a cape does not make you aussie.”