The Down Under Feminists Carnival is here!

And I do mean literally here! Because this month I am pleased to be your host for the 21st Edition.

So let me pour you a cuppa (how do you take it?) and let’s enjoy this over high tea, shall we?

Well that’s January been and gone. What has happened in the last month?

It seems to have been a quiet month on the blogging front, what with the summer heat and rain and holidays and back to school and the myriad of other things going on this time of year, but there is still plenty to enjoy in terms of feminist writing.

The New Year has been seen in:

And we’ve been wished a Happy New Year! by Capitalism Bad; Tree Pretty. And there has been some farewells too, leading Queen Emily to question The legacies of trans-exclusive feminism at her post at Hoyden About Town.

There has been some great discussion about things relating to the domestic sphere – the home, house and family concerns.

Tansy Rayner Roberts has been Writing While The House is Messy at tansyrr.com.

Parenting is a perennial topic, and January saw discussion of the added complexities when the parenting is being done by a step-parent. Stepmum Of The Year wonders Rights? What rights should step parents have? and Stef at A Touch of the Crazy is inquiring Does stepparenting = step-mothering?

Meanwhile, Sophie at 2 B Sophora paints a poignant picture of One woman and her guard.

As usual with feisty feminist writers there has been some great posts relating to Race, Rights and Identity

A shiny new coin muses on taxes and toilets. Tigtog, at Hoyden About Town, looks at Complacency, Indifference and Intent (or lack thereof) in terms of the discussion around the attacks on Indian students. Chally makes it clear that Disability is not your analogy at Zero at the Bone, and she examines The Privileges and Pains of Passing. Stephiepenguin examines her racial identity and muses and it looks like… posted at 天高皇企鹅远.  In examining identity and insults girliejones wonders Do some insults hurt less?

January 23 was Blogging for Choice Day  – this year with the theme of ‘Trust Women’

Deborah – In a strange land,  asks that we  Trust women, and Tigtog was also Blogging for Choice,  at   Hoyden About Town.

In addition to trust, respect was also a bit of a reoccurring theme this month.

Chally reminds us of The importance of women’s friendships at Zero at the Bone.  Deborah In a strange land sends a Note to Mike Rann: the title is “Ms”. Pharaoh Katt asks that we respect children and their bodies and not  Name and Shame them at Something More Than Sides.

The disrespectful and denigrating of image of the older woman as the ‘cougar’ seems to be an increasing presence in popular culture and thankfully this is being critiqued.  Fuck Politeness writes of Karaoke and cougars. Julie at The Hand Mirror suggests that there has been Vileness, and a bit of irony, from Air NZ and she gives us More on Air NZ’s cougar rubbish. The Luddite Journo asks why Those damn cougars just won’t lie back and think of England ?

Posts pertaining to politics and activism.

Deborah at In a strange land gives us A fabulous resource for feminists, womanists, disabilism activists, equality activists. January’s been an interesting month politically and Rachel Hills at Musings of an Inappropriate Woman has Sex advice for my future children… inspired by Tony Abbott. At the frogblog,  Catherine Delahunty asks Will Cathy Taewa get answers from Paula and Nick?

Posts pertaining to Body image and Sexuality

The bad news, according to The Dawn Chorus, is that Female Ejaculation Doesn’t Exist.   Also, did you know that Jennifer Hawkins does ‘real beauty’ wrong – In case you hadn’t realised blue milk examines the fallout from ‘that’ magazine cover.

Posts pertaining to fashion and rape culture – unfortunately paired together because all you need to know about rape culture has been encapsulated on some men’s T-shirt

(trigger warnings for the links to the posts in this section)

Chally, writing at Feministe looks at the offending and offense shirts in Today in selling misogyny and LudditeJourno has learnt that from said fashion items that It’s not rape if you yell surprise. If that’s what being sold and worn does the existence of such Virtual realities: Sydney University’s “pro-rape” Facebook group surprise anyone? It doesn’t surprise Chloe  at Feministing.

The dismissal from court of a particular gang rape case has led to Emma Hart at Public Address fantasising about chocolate mousse aerosol cans so that we can get All Together Now.

The rules of consent still apply in a group sex situation. Which is why it also doesn’t help when, at the other end of the spectrum, people say that women can’t consent to group sex, or will only do so under social pressure, or maybe only think they do because they’re buying into a male viewpoint. Both viewpoints assume that group sex is always one woman and a group of men. Both remove the emphasis from whether the woman said yes or no – because how can I have the ability to say no unless I also have a meaningful ability to say yes?

Of course, someone has once again blamed Feminism for the rise of raunch culture, but the news with nipples has been writing about Feminism and dolls in order to set them straight.

Posts pertaining to the Media and Movies

Rachel Hills presents Sex & The City and the great (feminist?) quest for love at her blog Musings of an Inappropriate Woman.

Lauredhel gives us Arsevertising*: Will You Be Ready For Your First Time? posted at Hoyden About Town. And she also examines That Homebirth Study in South Australia that was blatantly misrepresented in the media, also at Hoyden About Town.

Tansy Rayner Roberts  at tansyrr.com gives us a review of The Princess and the Frog.

Miscellaneous Musings

Kiwi back in Sydney! gives us a lovely walk through the Melbourne: CERES Garden. Jo Tamar at Wallaby has been Talking about mansplaining…. While meganwegan at Craft is the New Black reflects on Honesty, Anarkaytie gives us a Follow-up to academic feminism to be found at Anarkaytie’s Weblog.

Writing and Sci Fi

girlie jones not only looks at  the latest in female presence in SF ToCs but she asks do You know what’s fun to read in the debate on gender disparity in SF? .

And to see the carnival off, Whileawaying invites us to a Book Launch!

Well, its been lovely hosting you. I hope that you’ve enjoyed the tea and the writing.

Next month the carnival will be at Fuck Politeness‘ place. And don’t forget to submit (see here) – your own posts and those of other down under feminists that you’ve enjoyed reading this February.

Come on people, this is not just about Matty Johns

So the Footballers and sex 4 Corners story, is generating a hell of a lot of conversation, everywhere.  Lots of newspaper articles, opinion pieces (actually I like this one), twitter (via Lauredhel), and facebook groups supporting Matty Johns have sprung up like weeds over night.  (You could for instance join the “Give Matt Johns his job back” Group.  I decided against providing a link, the comments there are just to horrible).  This facebook status update will suffice to demonstrate the attitudes that I’m referring to:

*head desk*

*head desk*

These people need to read this and take a long hard look at themselves.  All these conversations and for many it has been reduced down to: “Oh! The injustice of it all!  Poor Matty Johns!”

Ok, so John’s has been stood down (note: not fired) from a channel concerned with not alienating its large middle class female audience, and the NRL which is seeking to be seen to doing something about this problem.  But what, exactly, is the problem?  It is not just about Matty Johns – nothing more to see here folks, he’s faced the music, let him hang his tail between his legs and disappear from view in the shame and ignominy he deserves.

This is waaaay  bigger than one man, no matter how high his profile.  As has been noted by bluemilk, the New Zealand case was just the tip of iceberg, 4 Corners were spoilt for choice.    There are a hell of a lot of footballers implicated here, all keeping quiet and hoping that Johns’ fall from grace will keep the spotlight off them.  The 4 Corners program mentioned other incidences involving not just the Sharks, but also the Knights and the Bulldogs.  And I’d bet my two front teeth that there’s plenty more that the media haven’t gotten a wiff of.  While David Gallup is taking a strong stance on this about reforming the NRL it is not going to be easy to address an ingrained cultural problem.

It seems some players don’t like hearing that the practice of treating women like shit is no longer going to be tolerated.

“It’s fine for David Gallop to come out and say you can’t have group sex but the last thing blokes will be thinking about on a Friday night at the club is David Gallop,” said the player, speaking on the condition of anonymity. “I don’t know how a chief executive can come out and say we can’t have group sex if it’s consensual. It’s like discrimination because that is a person’s private life. It’s like saying you can’t be homosexual, or you can’t have such-and-such sexual preferences. How can he tell us what we can do in our private lives?

We already have so many rules: we can’t drink on these days, we can’t go to these places, now we can’t have group sex. About the only thing we can do these days is go to club functions, and just hang around other players. That’s just isolating us more from the rest of the world, and it could lead to even more violent acts.” [Emphasis mine]

Oh Boo-hoo, you poor thing.  This is the culture of privilege, selfishness, greed, aggression and hypermasculinity that we are up against.  And many pockets of the general public support these guys and their life in the privileged bubble.  And they display no empathy towards those that are used, abused and discarded.   Rather than victim blaming I suggest people read this.

What’s the difference between group sex and gang rape?

These are my confused thoughts on a complex topic.  I do not speak for all feminists although my thoughts are informed by a feminist perspective.  This post, which is probably attempting too much, is on the one hand about a group sex/gang rape case that took place in New Zealand in 2002.  On the other hand its about the dangerous mix of football, sex, success, fame and glory and the adulation of aggression that takes place in our sports loving culture. (If in regards to the case of “Clare” from New Zealand you are going to engage in some victim blaming, I suggest that you read the following link and comment when you aren’t going perpetuate Rape myths)

After reading this news story, (which really was just a “heads up” about this 4 Corners program about footballers and sex;  transcript here, the program can be watched from here -but only for the next four weeks) about a “group sex” incident in New Zealand involving football personality Matthew Johns,  I got thinking about the fine line between group sex and gang rape.  And I had a few thoughts.  

(The 4 Corners program discussed various aspects of the footballers and sex issue, and one of the most disturbing parts of the program was a description of the events in New Zealand in 2002, involving member of the Cronulla Sharks and a young woman the program calls “Clare”.  She was nineteen at the time, and while waitressing she was invited back by two players to their room.  About a dozen players ended up in room, and the events so traumatised Clare that seven years later she is still suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress)

Consent

Consent is obviously a key issue.  Absence of “No” does NOT mean that consent took place.  For this reason it is illegal to have sex with someone who is unable to say “no”, someone who is unconscious or asleep for example.  Just because they didn’t say no, doesn’t mean that rape did not occur.

Just because a man does not believe that he raped a woman does NOT necessarily mean that he did not. ( From Tigtog’s post on rape myths: “One in 12 men surveyed in this study admitted to acting in ways that satisfied the legal definition of rape or attempted rape, with 84% of these men believing that what they had done was “definitely not rape.”).  So in terms of the group sex cases discussed in the 4 Corners programs, just because the guys involved don’t believe that rape took place, doesn’t mean that it didn’t.

So if we are discussing the New Zealand case we have to consider whether a young woman is truly able to consent when surrounded by big, strong, football players? (From the transcript of the program: CLARE: “They were massive, like ah big Rugby players, I felt that I just had no idea what to do.”).  Consider this comment from this blog discussing the story:

Lisa S : I don’t believe it is “man bashing gone mad”. In the instance of the girl from new zealand it is very, very hard to get out of a situation like that, especially when there are a pack of men who are very large, and are “egging” each other on. In fact it is terrifying. I was followed into a bedroom once at a party by three rugby players. I had been speaking to one, (briefly because it wasn’t a very interesting conversation), I went to get my jacket from a room, and they followed me in. I was lucky that a friend had seen them, and came and got me. Why is it always about the woman having to take responsibility, when is going to mens turn to actually decide to not participate in that behaviour as well.

Her presence in the room does NOT equal consent.  If two guys say “Come to our room for a drink” and someone goes to their room for a drink, the drink is all they consented to.  Presence does not equal consent.  And while I’m on the topic, a drunk woman does not equal consent, flirting does not equal consent, skimpy clothes does not equal consent.  No woman, EVER, asks to be raped.  No matter what she’s wearing, where she is or how much she’s been drinking.  In this case it seems that something along the lines of “come to our room for a drink”, really meant “come to our room for group sex”, which really meant “come to our room so you can be the prop for our homosocial bonding session”.  This young lady certainly did NOT deserve what happened to her just because she did not understand the coded messages that were really being spoken.

If and when a girl consents to sex with one guy it does not mean that she is consenting to sex with any and all companions that he has with him.  This reminds me of this case, and I feel that the old virgin and whore dichotomy continues to run its insidious thread through society.  It seems that some pockets of society continue to hold the false belief that if a woman is willing to have sex with one guy than then it means that she is open to all comers whether they ask her or not.

Privilege (Message to the people of my town)

Just because someone is a famous football player it does not mean that every woman that they meet wants to sex with them.  (Granted a proportion do, but by no means all).  It is an abuse of privilege to presume that that is the case.  It is an abuse of one’s position to use it to degrade women, to make someone dress in bunny ears and give an entire team head jobs [example from 4 Corners].  It is an abuse of privilege to defaecate on the floor of a crowded pub, because you’re a famous hero in your town, and no one can touch you [local anecdote]. Its an abuse of privilege to grab a woman’s wallet and throw her money away because she winced when you hit her broken shoulder and you didn’t like that reaction [happened to a friend].  It’s an abuse of position to enter an unlocked woman’s room and expect that she is going to want to have sex with you because are you – young, famous, and hot [from the program].

We enable these behaviours when we as a society, excuse them.  When we apologise for rapists and blame the victims.  When we let young men get away with their anti-social behaviours, and excuse them as though they had no control over their actions.  When we laud them as heroes and praise them for their aggression, the fact that they are ” risk takers”.

From the transcript of the 4 Corners program:

STEVE BURRASTON, CEO NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS: These guys are pumped up, they are playing a very aggressive game and they are putting their bodies on the line, it’s fearless. It’s not as bad as going to war and I wouldn’t suggest that, but it’s probably like the old gladiator days and they get out there and they belt the hell out of each other and there’s probably no other game that is like it…When we want them on the field we want them to be aggressive. They’ve got to make tackles, they’ve got to be fearless, then we want them to do things that other people don’t do. So we attract an aggressive, young, risk taking male.  We give him a shower, put a suit on him and then say now we want you to be, you know, a submissive male. We want you to go out there and not have any problems, it’s very difficult to do that. [Emphasis mine]

Ok Steve, I know that you are trying to change the culture of the Knights and educate those young men, but sending the message that putting on a suit and acting in accordance to the norms of common decency is being a submissive male, is just not helping your cause.  You know that the men can follow the rules on the field, well do not excuse them for breaking the rules off the field. Most players do the right thing, get rid of the ones that don’t and if the team has too lose a valuable player, so be it.  A small price to pay to save further women from being raped, and it would be a decent contribution to stopping the perpetuation of a this particular culture.

The way Steve and others speak about these guys it sounds as though they are bulls being bred to fight, and we wonder why they behave like animals.  As human beings, we have control over our actions and that is one of the things that seperates us from the animal kingdom.  Elite sporting stars should be held to the same standards as everybody else, not excused on the basis that they have to take risks on the field.  Some football players manage to separate their on field and off field behaviour quite well, so it can done.  Footballers are not a special species that need protection and apologists for their down time antics.

Respect

One of the saddest aspects of the program, of the whole situation, is that these guys need an education program to learn how to treat women.  And from the glimpses we got in 4 Corners it doesn’t seem like the classes are working. SIMON WILLIAMS, NYC RUGBY PLAYER: It’s not during the act, it’s the way you treat them after it. Most of them could have been avoided, if they had put them in a cab and said thanks or that sort of thing not just kicked her out and called her a dirty whatever. It’s how you treat them afterwards that can cover a lot of that stuff up.

FAIL.  Sorry, pal, its not how you treat them after that can cover a lot of that stuff up.  Its how you treat them before, during and after.  Its how you view women.  It is about having respect for women and treating them as fellow human beings.  Treating their sexuality with the respect that you treat your own.  It not treating them nicely afterwards in order to prevent a rape call from being made.  Its treating them well with every interaction and respecting women so there’ll be no ambiguity, because you won’t be able to rape them, because you respect, care, and love women and their well being is important to you.

I’m not saying don’t have fun.  Lots of respectful consensual fun can be had by all.  But at the basis is respect.  Women are not playthings to be handed around between team mates.  Women are not tools for your homosocial bonding.  They are not the spoils of victory, they are not reward for your glory, props for your homoerotic fantasies, their bodies are not yours by right.  They are living breathing human beings who deserve to be respected as such, and not degraded because “sharing” with your mates is more important than their dignity, because it is not, ever.

Apology

From the transcript (Excerpt of footage from television apology on THE FOOTY SHOW)  MATTHEW JOHNS: It caused all parties enormous pain and embarrassment.  Um, for me personally it has put my family through enormous anguish and embarrassment and has once again, [sic] and for that I m just, can’t say sorry enough. There were no charges laid. But there has been a lot of pain and embarrassment to a lot of people.

PAUL VAUTIN, FOOTY SHOW HOST: Alright mate, well said. Alright, let’s get on with the show. (End of Excerpt)

This is not an apology.  This is damage control for Matthew Johns, for the Footy Show, for the NRL.  This is saying what had to be said, so we can all get on with our lives and pretend that the story was never brought to the light of day.  This was an apology to his family, to those that he cares about.  This was not an apology to Clare, because he couldn’t give a shit about this poor young women whose life he was a part of traumatising.  This is a fauxpology and simply does nothing to counter the pain and suffering of the real victim here.  This apology is insulting, so Fuck you Matty Johns, fuck you Footy Show and fuck you anyone who thinks that that measly weasly apology goes anywhere towards addressing the harm done here.

Want more from elsewhere?

From the Dawn Chorus

I was pleased to see training for rugby players about consent and sexual violence but despair that such training is necessary at all.  Such ‘education programs’ further perpetrate the notion that acts of sexual violence can be attributed to a lack of knowledge or willful ignorance of what constitutes sexual assault or consent. Surely respect for women at a deep internal level is not something which can be taught. Further, I shudder to think how one tabulates whether such programs reduce the instances of sexual assault against women.

‘One of the Boys’ Discussion from a man’s perspective

Perhaps this whole emphasis on team bonding and ‘one in, all in’ from the sporting field is translating to an inability to switch off that mentality when the game is over. If so, it is a worrying indication of what team sport is doing for our young men. Far from being a positive influence on our lives, if this is the culture that team sport is engendering, it is indeed a worrying thing.

From Tigtog ‘Elite male athletes and homosocial bonding through sexual coercion of women’

So often we hear “women are throwing themselves at these men, they don’t need to force anyone” (how revealing is that phrase I’ve emphasised with italics – we accept that some men need to, do we? or that a need might make it “OK”?). This is crap. The idea of men turning to sexual coercion out of sexual desperation is simply not an adequate explanation – men turning to sexual coercion due to their sexual expectations, their sense of entitlement due to their status, explains so much more.

ABC’s Background reading and support links

Happy International Women’s Day

It would be a happy day indeed if we no longer needed an International Women’s Day, but alas, much misogyny/violence/discrimination abounds.   This year the theme of IWD is Women and men united to end violence against women and girls.  Here’s some tip of the iceberg stuff topical for IWD, I’ll start locally and go international.

From the ABC:

Unions are highlighting pay differences between the sexes ahead of International Women’s Day.  The ACTU says Australian women on average earn 16 per cent less than men, but that it varies between states.  ACTU president Sharon Burrow says Victorian women earn 14 per cent less than men, while in Western Australia women earn 28 per cent less because of the mining boom.  Ms Burrow says the gap will widen as the economic slowdown continues.  “We’re seeing women, young people simply being told their hours are being cut or in fact they’re not required anymore,” she said.  “That will simply add to the income disparity for women – we’re very concerned that the pay gap will simply widen as a result of the global financial crisis.”

The Catholic Church continues a grand tradition of misogynistic legality.

Brazil’s influential Catholic Church raged against an abortion carried out on a nine-year-old girl who had been pregnant with twins after allegedly being raped by her stepfather.  An archbishop for the northern region where the termination was conducted, Father Jose Cardoso Sobrinho, said the church was excommunicating all those responsible for the abortion: the medical team and the girl’s mother.  The operation – carried out because of doctors’ fears the slender girl might die if she carried the foetuses to term – was a crime in the eyes of the church, he said.  “God’s law is above any human law. So when a human law… is contrary to God’s law, this human law has no value,” [said] archbishop Cardoso.  “The adults who approved, who carried out this abortion, will be excommunicated,” said the archbishop for the Recife region.

And, of course, the Vatican backs the Bishop.  Now might be the time to announce that there goes the lasting lingering threat of my Catholicism.  Where is the compassion for the poor girl who could have died if she carried the twins to term?  Where is the excommunication/denunciation of the creep who raped and abused her?  God didn’t cause this pregnancy her stepfather did and the pontificating judgment should be directed at him and not at those trying to save the girl’s life.

Iraqi women lack basic services and widows, in particular, have no support

In Indian women are campaigning against the violence and patriarchal control aimed at them.

Poster from Pink Chaddis campaign seeking to end mob violence against women

Poster from 'Pink Chaddis' campaign seeking to end mob violence against women

From the horrific to the ridiculous –  from here, I discover that there is a 75 000 strong petition on facebook to get pole dancing included as an Olympic sport for the 2012 games.  FFS.

In other news, and this is trivial in comparison to what the women in countries such as Indian and Iraq are facing, but Barbie turns fifty tomorrow, and still looks as young and perky as ever.  Thus we see (and remember we are barely scratching the surface here) a continuum of issues faced by women, running the gamut from economic disadvantage, to intense struggle for survival and to live unmolested, right through to ideological struggles against a culture that emphasises women’s passive and ornamental sexuality at the expense of all else.  *sigh*

Note to Bettina Arndt

But built into that was also this assumption that you had to have desire in order to feel aroused, and therefore if you don’t have desire, you can’t proceed. And I’m arguing if the put the canoe in the water and start paddling, everything will be alright, provided the woman is receptive to that, provided the woman can get her head into the right place and be willing to put the canoe in the water.

Stop recycling your crap advice.  No really.  Just stop.  After reading your article in the SMH I was all set to write a long critique of your distorted views about marital relationships, but I found I didn’t have to.  It turns out that you have been peddling this particular piece for nearly two years.  Bluemilk’s already picked it apart with a heartful critique of your twisted logic.

You started the ball rolling in July 28 2007, when you were seeking participants in your ‘research’.  I don’t know that I can call what you’ve produced research, as you knew what you wanted to see before you even read the diaries entries which purportedly showed you the current bedroom crisis.  But it didn’t really did it?  Your mind was already made up with your sample size of one, and the things you said in 2007 and the example you used were exactly the same as your recent post-research sound bites.

2007:

Even on days he didn’t approach her, Amy says she was nervous. “He’d be snoring loudly and I’d still lie there worrying that the hand was going to come creeping over.”It’s now almost 30 years since Amy lay rigid in bed, dreading the creeping hand.

She’d got it all wrong, Amy now realises. As we all have had it wrong. The assumption that women need to want sex to enjoy it has been a really damaging idea that has wreaked havoc in relationships for the past 40 years.

2009:

A woman, 54, from Hobart spent the first 10 years of her marriage fighting about sex, always nervous about an unwanted advance. “He’d be snoring loudly and I’d still lie there worrying that the hand was going to come creeping over.”

“The notion that women have to want sex to enjoy it has been a really misguided idea that has caused havoc in relationships over the last 40 years.”

With the right approach from a loving partner, if women were willing to be receptive “and allow themselves to relax … they would enjoy it”, she said.

Anyway read Bluemilk’s critique and also read Helen’s Pringle’s take in Newmatilda.

Pringle calls Arndt out on some of the ridiculous comments she made on Lateline on Monday night.  (Arndt had been endorsing Jugde Bonner’s 1993 comments about ‘rougher than usual handling’ in regards to a martial rape and assault case).

For the rightly-criticised Justice Bollen in 1993, it was legitimate for a man to press his “needs” aggressively against a woman who says no. Bettina Arndt in 2009 actually goes further. For Arndt, it is a “wifely duty” for a woman to yield to her husband’s “needs”.

Also (besides the whole ‘yield to your man’ philosophy based on really dodgy research) I hate it when people seize on a legitmate human relationship problem, in this case mismatched libidos, and turn it into a battle of the genders.  Not everything in this world is men versus women, and stop blaming the big bad bogey that is feminism for every marital problem in the western world.

Update (March 7th 2009): fuckpoliteness has put together a page where you can find links to several excellent take downs of Arndt’s drivel.  These critiques are great and restored my faith in humanity after Arndt dinted it so.

Words fail me

So I will just cut and paste this horrific story which I found here.

13yo ‘adulterer’ stoned to death: Amnesty

The human rights group Amnesty International says a girl stoned to death in southern Somalia earlier this week was only 13 years old.

Amnesty says the girl was convicted of adultery after complaining that three men had raped her.

She was buried up to her neck and stoned to death in a crowded stadium in the Somali city of Kismayo.

There is so much horror here.  That the death penalty exists, that the girl was only 13, and still deemed eligible for the death penalty.  That it was death by stoning.  That was publicly done – in a stadium.  That her crime was complaining that she was raped.

She was publicly murdered by a judicial system that betrayed her and exonerated her rapists.