There’s nothing edgy about ‘honour killings’

I can’t believe this needs to be said, but the choices of the Festival of Dangerous Ideas suggests it does.

Uthman Badar, spokesman for Hizb ut-Tahrir in Australia, will be speaking at the Festival on the topic “Honour killings are morally justified”.

How clever.

It has been many years since FODI has shown any desire to live up to its name. Their existences hinge on the flow of government grants, directly or indirectly through the units that make up the art establishment. It’s not here to disrupt the status quo. It is here because, as a Facebook friend snarked, “the whole idea of a Festival of Dangerous Ideas [is to be] some white–person wankery for inner–city latte drinkers to indulge themselves in a trip to the opera house and [provoke] the special feeling of belonging to that special part of society that attends ‘cultural’ events.

So whilst I am openly impressed that FODI has actually gone and proposed a dangerous idea in that context, as far as dangerous ideas go this is quite safe… which is what makes it so dangerous.

It is dangerous in the first instance because the material is justifying murder. Violence is generally accepted as dangerous.

For anyone who, say, might like to think of themselves as culturally enlightened, the barest of philosophical forays will lead you to the subjectivity of morality and/or its experience by the individual.

Armed with this, it is totally conceivable that people who commit what we call “honour killings” have reasons for doing so. It’s a scary rejoinder to the idea of monstrosity as other and seemingly perfect for a crowd seeking “danger”.

This makes it a safe bet. It’s destined to light up blogs like this, and papers and talkback tomorrow, and possibly the 6pm news from earlier this evening. Helen Dale – who has lit up the local media a few times, including this week – called the decision to give Badar a platform “the intellectual equivalent of streaking”, which is so right not just because it’s flashy, insubstantive, and guaranteed to get your eyeballs on the dangly bits, but also because it isn’t novel.

We know that attention will be paid because we have had these debates before. We have had these debates before because there are millions of people who believe murder is a prurient respond to the exercise of certain kinds of autonomy – but they’re other, safely ‘over there’, and the unbridled, uncritical acceptance of the other is how the worst sort of unthinking leftist gets their counter-cultural jollies.

It will be controversial. Why millions of people would hold values so far removed from our own always will be.

And thus we have Badar at FODI, surrounded by the latte elite, who have already started falling over themselves to demonstrate their open-mindedness by paying to listen to a man who fronts the national arm of an organisation that opposes the close-mindedness of a Western liberalism that would go back to stoning women if the culture wasn’t so close-minded.

If an open-mind is worth keeping on this issue this is still not a justification for FODI’s decision. The point of keeping an open mind is to think, judge, and close it eventually. If it never closes it is no great feat of mind, but the simple abrogation of critical thought. FODI is, by choosing to give this violent idea a platform, abrogating that responsibility in the name of whoring themselves out for attention. This is not an act without consequences; what we say in public sends a powerful message about (are you ready for this?) what is is acceptable to say and do in public.

They’re not concerned about that, nor are they actually concerned about whether we should kill slutty sluts for slutting. They’re concerned about how they can leverage Uthman Badar and the Hizb ut-Tahrir brand and the white guilt that creates the cultural relativism that baby leftists are injected with when they submit their first protest poster for assessment, in service of painting the Festival and it’s supporters as open-minded, critically engaged and edgy, and getting the attention that gets them paid. With taxpayer dollars.

If open engagement is what we desire there’s an endless supply of literature on the subject that could be privately consumed. Somehow I don’t think that’s what Hizb ut-Tahrir wants.

That is what I find the most dangerous – it’s lovely to have organisations like FODI that self-consciously hike their skirts and whore their stages in the pretence of glorying in liberalism while trying to undermine it. These ideas don’t deserve to be paraded on a platform as flimsy as amusement. There is no honour in giving a microphone to a man who doesn’t want to give the microphone back, when he will use it to promote a ban on microphones.

FODI sets its own agenda. They made a considered choice to offer the stage to a lobbyist for Islamototalitarianism to promote the murder of (mostly) women.

If FODI wants to truly be provocative, there are orthodoxies far better challenged than the secular, liberal, individualist democracy that permits people – including women – to pursue the free thought that allows them to consider and reject the killing women who exercise autonomy could be totally sweet.

FODI has the right to offer the PR flak for totalitarian organisation a space on its platform, and its secular “cultural establishment” type audience is mature enough to consider the idea without accepting it (the way the Murdoch-media-swilling general publicans apparently cannot, no doubt). Minds aren’t likely to slip out from under the warm, prosperous blanket of liberalism for the rock hard reality of whatever backwards logic makes it okay to kill for a contorted derivative of honour. 

Hello! I’m Granny Gillard

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Gather round children while Granny Gillard teaches you how to knit a tangled web sock.

Lesson one: Knit one, purl one. Now do that about 300 billion times and that's how much debt I'm going to leave you poor little darlings. You see, Aunty Julia is always thinking of your future, after I've grabbed my chunk.

Lesson two: The one I'm knitting in the picture is is a nose warmer. Remember children, if you tell lots porkies your nose will grow just like Pinocchio's did and you will need a nose warmer for this winter of my discontent.

And, my little do gooders, I have not used any live animals in that picture, the dog is stuffed, exactly the same as the government I lead today – maybe tomorrow – I dunno after that. And that lovely, old chair? Tim found it on the tip – it was free. As you can see children, Granny Gillard is always saving for your future.

And, kiddies, don't worry about me not having a job, I've put away a bloody bundle for me old age. It's been fun, bye for now and jolly good luck. And, don't let mummy or daddy vote for that naughty Mr. Rudd.

GC.Ed.@L.

A Cat at a Dog Show

Certain gay rights advocates are calling for what they call ‘marriage equality’, or same-sex marriage, writes Justin de Vere 

National governments in New Zealand and France, as well as certain other countries and states, have recently passed laws legalising this. In doing so, the governments of these places now consider a marriage of a man and a woman to be the equivalent of a similar ceremony ‘marrying’ two men or two women.

The desire for marriage equality, while superficially a call for justice and an idea whose time has come, is actually a hurtful, destructive, selfish desire which speciously defies logic, abuses ordinary people’s sense of justice, and will cause damage to an ancient social custom that predates government and civilisation and has nothing to do with homosexuality. The politicians who would effect this change would do so not in the best interests of the country they serve, but in the short-term interests of the party they serve.

Read More: http://justindevere.wordpress.com/2013/06/12/a-cat-at-a-dog-show/

Is it me or is it my blue tie?

Torossian

According to Anne Summers, Women should be aware Abbott's blue-tie brigade, we (does that include or exclude men?) should all be aware of men in blue ties. Come election time, September 14, we (does that still include or exclude men?) should vote for a woman simply because a woman can make sure we have more women in our Federal Parliament. You’ve got to love affirmative action.

Summers warns us that if we do not vote for a female PM just because she is female then “Australia will go from having one of the highest representations of women in government in the democratic world to a very ordinary presence when compared with similar countries.” Make sense? Sure it does!

Untitled-12Has Australia ever had an ordinary presence amongst other nations? Didn’t Summers represent the Hawke Labor Government in some sort of a position? I guess those were pretty ordinary times. Nothing was ever done or achieved for women because, of course, women couldn’t do anything or achieve anything by themselves (and, according to her, obviously still can’t). You go sister!

According to Summers, Gillard has four women in cabinet whereas Abbott only has two. But whose counting and why? 

Gillard knows that her days are numbered and is desperate to try anything and at any cost to the Australian people. If this Prime Minister truly cares about Australia and about women in Australia she would do as her Labor counterpart did in NSW (Kristina Keneally) and fight on policy and not on gender.

So does Anne Summers have me trembling at my knees Girls? Not quite! In theory “The ''blue ties'' [can] really empathise with, and develop relevant policies for, the female part of our population.” For all we know Girls your dad or brother could be one of them. Scared yet?

Summers states her final conclusions by bringing it down to two main points: “The Liberal Party website's dropdown menu on policies [which] does not include a women's policy” and that there are too many “blue ties” because “In this day and age, he [Abbott] has selected so few women for his leadership team.” The Liberals may want to bring up the dropdown menu with its IT department. However, if getting into a leadership team is based on whether you wear a blue tie or not then I’m definitely going to start wearing one!

Sadly I must conclude that men around Australia will soon be asking their wives, daughters, sisters, mothers, girlfriends, female colleagues and many more females in their lives: Is it me or is it my blue tie?

Rose Torossian is a freelance writer. She ran as the Liberal Federal Candidate for Fowler during the 2007 Federal election. She also has a Bachelor of Media degree, Master of Arts in International Communication and is currently studying Commercial Law at Macquarie University. She lives by the following quote: “Life isn’t meant to be easy, my child; but take courage – it can be delightful.”

 

All women are equal but some are more equal than others

By Perkin-Warbeck

I bet you didn’t know that there are WOMEN and then there are women.

I have this on the highest possible authority – Emily’s List, no less – which proclaims in the preamble on its website, “A woman candidate, to be satisfactory, must be a ‘feminist’ in the best sense of the word…she should believe absolutely in the equality of status, liberty and opportunity between a man and a woman. A woman candidate that is shaky on this matter, or not sufficiently imbued with its importance to be able to speak convincingly on the matter, will do the movement towards establishing women in Parliament far more harm than good.”

Emily’s List is the ALP affirmative action crowd, the official sisterhood, comprising Labor women who presumably pass the “satisfactory” test. Prime Minister Gillard is a proud member.

Given Gillard’s recent attempts to paint Tony Abbott as some sort of primitive throw-back and a gross misogynist, you might have imagined that Emily’s List would be in the front row of enthusiastic backers.

Yet, curiously, they have not issued one single statement praising their star member’s recent forays in her contrived gender war campaign. In fact, they haven’t issued any media statements since 30 January this year when they issued two – one paying tribute to dumped Northern Territory Senator Trish Crossin and one congratulating Nova Paris on being Gillard’s “captain’s pick” candidate for Crossin’s Senate spot.

Just why these “satisfactory” women have remained silent for five months as Julia and her government sink deeper and deeper into a morass of their own making is a mystery.

I’m not surprised they said nothing following the death of former British Prime Minister Maggie Thatcher because although she was the pre-eminent female politician of the 20th century, she obviously wasn’t “satisfactory”. 

The utterly desperate stage of this government’s decline could not be better illustrated by the fact that not only are they trying to control their message but are even trying to control the way it is presented.

Last Sunday, Gillard staged a tea party for parents and children at Kirribilli House in Sydney to sell the Gonski school funding policy. Photographers and camera crews were admitted to take happy snaps but reporters with difficult questions were banned. On Tuesday when the PM spoke at the Women for Gillard launch, reporters with notebooks and pens only were admitted and photographers and camera crew locked out. Julia’s own office released the footage which, no doubt, was carefully edited.

Only a day or so ago, Fairfax journalist Jacqueline Maley wrote about Julia’s recent tactics. It was an assessment that “satisfactory” women would find unpalatable.

She wrote, “For the first two years of her prime ministership, Gillard was reluctant to identify as a ‘female’ prime minister. She said on the record this was how she thought about herself. She wanted to govern for all Australia.”

Noting that Gillard had “been responsible for moving thousands of single mothers off the single parenting benefit and onto the lesser Newstart (the dole), Maley continued, “Gillard refused to back the female candidate for Batman, despite the affirmative action arguments of Jenny Macklin and Penny Wong. She promised to call out sexism in public life, but stayed silent when Labor MP Steve Gibbons called Deputy Opposition Leader Julie Bishop a ‘bimbo’.”

Noting Gillard’s outrageous assertion last Tuesday about how abortion rights would be under threat if Abbott was elected, Maley wrote, “She had no evidence for making the claim…She needs to scaremonger about Abbott’s true attitudes to women and women’s rights. She needs to paint Abbott as dangerously retrograde. She needs to because she is politically desperate.” 

It should also be noted that Gillard’s famous “misogyny” speech in Parliament last October that gave her a temporary boost, was in support of a Speaker whose own position was under threat because of his own blatantly sexists text messages. That Speaker, Peter Slipper, didn’t get any criticism at the time from Gillard because she needed him to help prop up her tottering regime.

Emily’s List as what could be politely described as a curious attitude to democracy.

Last March, when Anna Bligh’s Queensland Labor Government suffered an overwhelming defeat winning only seven seats in a Parliament of eighty-nine, Labor’s “satisfactory” women issued a statement bemoaning that, “Saturday was a sad day for the Labor Party in Queensland, but what has gone unreported is just how sad a day is was also for Queensland women.”

It was a “sad” day for Queensland woman, they alleged, and we all know whose fault this was because Emily’s List told us, “These disturbing figures were further evidence of the contempt the Liberal National Party held for women.” The voters had nothing to do with it presumably.

Seventeen Liberal National women MPs were elected in Queensland in that State election but, of course, they aren’t “satisfactory”.


Why I don’t care about the Gillard-Abbott sexism war and neither should you

English: Prime Minister of Australia Julia Gil...

Cross-posted from Major Karnage.

As regular readers of Major Karnage will probably have figured out, I like to follow Australian politics. As you may have guessed (and those who know me would know), I also like to talk about Australian politics. People I associate with know this, so they tend to engage me whenever an issue in Australian politics catches their attention — I even have some friendships based around these conversations. Crazy, I know.

So when there is a huge scandal in Australian politics that the whole world is talking about, I expect that it will come up somewhere. Sure enough, a lot of people have been asking me about Julia Gillard’s now world-famous speech calling Tony Abbott a misogynist. My answer has surprised a few people, so I now feel the need to write a post and justify it. Simply put:

I don’t really care.

It just doesn’t really interest me. I watched a recording of the speech and got bored after a couple of minutes. Since it was such a big thing, I went back and watched the rest later, but now I just want that 10 minutes back.

So why this uncharacteristic apathy? Well, I don’t really see this as anything new. The issue that was much more important/interesting was the resignation of Speaker Peter Slipper because of the revelation of lewd and offensive text messages that he sent his former staffer.

The Slipper issue I care about. In fact, I might care enough to write a whole post on the right to privacy and the dilemmas that this kind of situation brings up (ie should someone be forced to resign over what were really private comments, no matter how offensive they were?)

Gillard’s speech? Well, the reaction says it all really. Below are a few responses from friends on my Facebook and Twitter feeds (for obvious reasons, I am not mentioning any names and have slightly edited some of the comments for length):

Wow go Julz! She schooled Abbott #likeaboss

 

Julia Gillard strikes me as the sort of university feminist who screams “chauvinist pig!” when you hold the door for her and “woman-hater!” if you just let it swing back in her face.

 

Look, I just had to post it. Fucking brilliant. I could watch this over and over again. … There should be a whole channel devoted to this one video.

 

I look forward to the rude shock that the lefties who are currently engaged in self-congratulation and saying how amazing Gillard’s performance yesterday was will receive when they realise voters havn’t fallen for her BS…

 

Yes, Tony Abbott, you were just destroyed.

 

Gillard stands by Thomson after prostitute revelations. Now stands by Slipper after texts. Yet says Abbott is misogynist. #chutzpah

 

Amazing speech by our PM. Showing some serious leadership.

And so on.

What was really remarkable about these comments were that there was a very clear divide, but it was not on gender lines, nor was it even on the lines of people who are generally feminist versus people who aren’t. The responses that I have seen were split exactly down party lines. Labor supporters loved it, Liberal supporters mocked it.

And there is the reason why I find the whole thing boring.

Gillard’s speech was not a scathing attack on Abbott to expose his deeply held sexism, and neither was it a blatant display of hypocrisy in defence of a real misogynist.

What was it? An uninspiring partisan response to a successful partisan power-play. It was smart PR — a very clever way to divert the public conversation away from the Slipper debacle.

Abbott was trying to embarrass the government while also taking away the vote that they had from Slipper being speaker, Gillard was trying to defend her majority by recycling old allegations at Abbott.

I have annexed a breakdown of the arguments that Gillard used at the end of this post, but more important than what was there is what was missing: there was absolutely nothing about Abbott’s record in office or any policies that he has proposed which harm women, it was a purely personal attack on Abbott’s character. There is no real policy issue at all and it contributes little to the Australian debate, it’s just boring.

That is why its effect will never be anything other than to provoke cheers from Labor supporters and jeers from Liberal supporters. It was not aimed at ‘exposing Abbott’, so much as spurring-on people who already don’t like Abbott. The Liberals had a bit of a coup when Slipper’s text messages were made public and Labor countered with a clever diversion to mitigate the damage. Yawn.

Until I started this post, I had been filtering out the discussion around this issue. It has joined the categories of things that set-off my mental killswitch — like the carbon tax, Gillard “backstabbing” Rudd, and anything that uses the phrases: “clean energy future”, “working Australians”, “great big lie”, there will be no carbon tax under the government I lead”, “
fair go”, “getting on with the job” etc etc.

Now that I am done, I am free to go back to not caring. Trust me, that’s a relief.

Major Karnage is a Sydney-based blogger and can be followed on Twitteror Facebook. This article was originally posted on majorkarnage.net

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PS: Gillard’s arguments.

Transcript of Julia Gillard’s speech.

He has said, and I quote, in a discussion about women being under-represented in institutions of power in Australia, the interviewer was a man called Stavros. The Leader of the Opposition says “If it’s true, Stavros, that men have more power generally speaking than women, is that a bad thing?”

And then a discussion ensues, and another person says “I want my daughter to have as much opportunity as my son.” To which the Leader of the Opposition says “Yeah, I completely agree, but what if men are by physiology or temperament, more adapted to exercise authority or to issue command?”

Then ensues another discussion about women’s role in modern society, and the other person participating in the discussion says “I think it’s very hard to deny that there is an underrepresentation of women,” to which the Leader of the Opposition says, “But now, there’s an assumption that this is a bad thing.”

I have looked for a full transcript of this discussion and I can’t find it anywhere online. Abbott was not expressing a viewpoint in those comments, they were inquisitive and hypothetical. In context, they could well be completely innocuous. Then again, they may not be, but I will not make up my mind until I am shown a full transcript. A couple of soundbites extracted from a whole conversation is not sufficient to condemn anyone.

Anyway,

This is the man from whom we’re supposed to take lectures about sexism. And then of course it goes on. I was very offended personally when the Leader of the Opposition, as Minister of Health, said, and I quote, “Abortion is the easy way out.” I was very personally offended by those comments. You said that in March 2004, I suggest you check the records.

Doesn’t convince me. Whatever Abbott’s stance may be on abortion policy, there is no reason why he has to personally support it.

I was also very offended on behalf of the women of Australia when in the course of this carbon pricing campaign, the Leader of the Opposition said “What the housewives of Australia need to understand as they do the ironing…” Thank you for that painting of women’s roles in modern Australia.

Gotta hand it to the PM, this one is pretty convincing. I am very reluctant to attribute anything to a “gaffe“, but this does show that Abbott harbours a degree of subconscious discrimination. But then, there is the whole “gaffe” issue.

And on:

And then of course, I was offended too by the sexism, by the misogyny of the Leader of the Opposition catcalling across this table at me as I sit here as Prime Minister, “If the Prime Minister wants to, politically speaking, make an honest woman of herself…”, something that would never have been said to any man sitting in this chair.

That I don’t agree with. I have no doubt that an unmarried male Prime Minister would be attacked on the grounds that he was unmarried.

I was offended when the Leader of the Opposition went outside in the front of Parliament and stood next to a sign that said “Ditch the witch.” I was offended when the Leader of the Opposition stood next to a sign that described me as a man’s bitch.

Now that is just spurious. So Abbott was photographed standing next to the wrong sign at an anti-carbon tax rally, what does that have to do with anything? I have seen several prominent Labor and Green MPs standing next to the flags of terrorist organisations and nobody batted an eyelid.

Gina Rinehart and how self-styled “progressives” are keeping the boardroom male

Cross-posted from Major Karnage.

IN MY line of work, I get to spend quite a lot of time in high-level boardroom meetings with people who all sit on corporate boards. I also have a few relatives who have sat on various boards in their time and my extended networks include quite a number of others. This means that while am not on any corporate boards, I am not a stranger to them either.

I still remember the first time I was at one of said meetings and a female colleague muttered to me, “do you notice anything particularly… male about the room?” The truth was that I hadn’t. While I had definitely noticed that I was the youngest person in the room by at least a decade (two if you didn’t count her). Until she pointed it out to me, it did not occur to me that she was the only woman there.

That incident jolted me into awareness. Since then, I have been paying attention to the gender balance when I am in corporate settings and a lot of observations have struck me that anecdotally support the mountains of research showing that the boardroom is simply not a place for girls. Not once in the last couple of years have I ever seen anything that even comes close to gender balance. Several times, there have actually been no women present. I also find that the “higher-level” the meeting, the less women tend to be invited.

That said, there are other observations that I can make about people in boardrooms than merely their gender. They are generally very sure of themselves – often manifesting as arrogance, but always including a calm and confident demeanour. They are hard-working, ambitious and persistent to the point of obsession, they know what they want and they make it happen. They are uncompromising – they expect the best and will not accept anything less. They are often very blunt and straight-talking. They can be friendly and charming when they want to, but they can be aggressive and intimidating when they have to.

I note these things not as a criticism of the corporate world and certainly not as an affront to the people that I am writing about. I have a tremendous amount of respect for most of them, they work harder than anyone else I know and they do amazing and under-appreciated (if not under-paid) work, without which our society could not function.

I MENTIONED those character traits is because of a common thread running through them: they are generally “alpha male” traits, they are not things that women are “supposed” to be. Women are loving, conciliatory, family-oriented and selfless. Women are neurotic and emotional, they doubt themselves, they shut-down and cry when bad things happen and they panic when they are stressed. They are not confident, ambitious, persistent and aggressive. When shit hits the fan, they are the ones panicking and screaming, not the ones who take-charge – at least in most sitcoms.

Again, I am not trying to say that it is a bad thing for someone to put others first, display their emotion and focus more on relationships than outcomes. I am trying to say that doing this is unlikely to get you ahead in the corporate world (or in other areas of public life). If you doubt yourself, the person who believes in themself will get the pay-rise or the promotion. If you shut-down and cry or panic, someone else will take charge. If you compromise, someone else won’t and they will have the better result in the end. Potential alone can only get you so far, there is not a lot of room at the top and to get there requires hard work, sacrifices and, above all, wanting to be there more than everyone else.

The public image of most successful women in Australia does not fit the stereotype of a high-powered Director. I say “public image” because, from my experience, the women who get to these positions do have most of these traits in private, but are able to create a persona that comes across as more “feminine” when they want to.

I refuse to believe that the corporate exec described above is actually gender-related. I know plenty of men who do not act like that. That character is simply how a person needs to act in order to reach the top of the corporate ladder – possibly the most competitive position anyone can aspire to reach (except maybe professional athlete). Other high-profile positions (rockstar, politician etc) require a huge amount of luck as well as hard work, becoming a CEO or company chair is about nothing except ability, attitude and work ethic.

THERE IS one very notable exception: Gina Rinehart. Here is a woman who is overweight and unattractive, but clearly not too concerned about her appearance and uninterested in the world of glamour and fashion. She is abrasive, intimidating and even a bully. She is willing to do whatever it takes to get what she wants, without regard to the way it makes her look or the people she is offending. She is ambitious, single-minded and dedicated to the point where she supposedly goes without any of the frills that other billionaires afford themselves so that she can re-invest all her money into her company.

She is also not a “loving mother” figure by any stretch of the imagination. She isreportedly quiet and reserved in person and she keeps her personal affairs completely private. What did leak last year was that, having judged her children as inept for running her company, she offered them each $300mln a year in return for signing-away their shares. When they refused, she fought them all the way to the High Court – becoming estranged in the process.

Meanwhile, her achievements are incredible. She inherited a floundering, debt-ridden mining company that was making its money from a lucky break and transformed it into a hugely profitable, gigantic operation – becoming the world’s wealthiest woman in the process. She is now in the process of planning the biggest Australian-owned mining development in history and is funding it entirely on her own.  Yes, she was born into some wealth due to a lucky find by her father, but many people born into wealth spend their lives turning a large fortune into a small one. She turned a small fortune into a gargantuan one.

And yet she is being punished for this – not by the Andrew Bolts and Alan Jones’ of this world, but by the very people that would generally be the first to jump to her defence if she hadn’t made the unfortunate mistake of being a Conservative and one of the mining magnates vilified by Wayne Swan. Oh, as well as committing the awful sin of giving jobs to people who weren’t lucky enough to be born in Australia.

The best (but not the only) example was the abuse she received from David Marr and Miriam Margolyes on Q and A last month:

Note: I did not criticise the others as Barry Humphries was playing a character, Tony Jones was trying to defend her while still maintaining his “distance” as chair, Jacki Weaver seemed a little stunned and John Hewson later said he regretted not arguing but felt overwhelmed. Also, Marr and Margolyes were the two noted “feminists” on the panel.

THAT INCIDENT did receive fairly wide coverage – in News Ltd papers. It was all but ignored in the ABC, Fairfax (well, aside from the SMH’s balance columnist),New Matilda etc. Some good responses were written that I could find in more minor leftist publications, however it was generally her political allies that were jumping to her defence. More anecdotally, the people on my social networks who would normally be concerned about this kind of thing have been completely silent.

Why is this such a problem? Because it shows that this kind of abuse is acceptable for women that the left don’t like. It sends the message that the only reason anyone complains about comments aimed at Julia Gillard or Christine Milne is that they are on the left and not because this kind of discourse should be unacceptable. It reaffirms the idea that women shouldn’t act like CEOs, which discourages women from acting like CEOs, which in turn means women won’t become CEOs.

To some degree I think that it may be that people who hold corporate leaders in contempt yet think they want to see more women being corporate leaders were somehow expecting female corporate leaders to be more like “women” and less like “businessmen”. The issues inherent in that assumption should speak for themselves.

It’s all well and good to conduct research and then complain about the lack of women at the top, but unless there are a lot of ambitious and competitive young women willing to fight to get there, nothing will ever change.

Major Karnage is a Sydney-based blogger and can be followed on Twitter or Facebook. This article was originally posted on majorkarnage.net

Why We Still Need Feminism

206411_1871353977186_1041219260_2102208_3737361_n Jessica Muslin argues that those on the right should embrace – not shun – the feminism label: 

I find it scary that ‘feminism’ is a dirty word nowadays. I find it disturbing that so many women I know don’t consider themselves to be a feminist. I find it frightening that most of my male peers simply view feminism as an instrument for affirmative action. I find it perplexing that many people do not believe that we still need feminism today.

As someone who is very active in a rather conservative political party, many people might find it strange that I consider myself to be an extremely proud feminist. This is because of the simple fact that I acknowledge the gender disparity that exists today, and confidently know that it needs to change somehow.

I have a lot of friends who think that feminism is outdated and no longer needed. Looking at the status quo, you might be forgiven for thinking that that is the case – women have pretty much all of the ‘formal rights’ they didn’t have a century ago, such as the rights to vote, work and run for political office.

However, the issues that women still face are as many as they are complex. The fact that women make up an extremely small amount of corporate CEOs in many western liberal countries upsets me. The fact that domestic violence is still so common in many parts of both the developing and western world enrages me. The fact that many men think that opinionated women “just need to calm down” disturbs me.

With that being said, what frustrates me most about the ‘feminism’ debate is the fundamental lack of understanding about the different types of feminism that exist. Not every feminist supports affirmative action. Not every feminist supports government paid maternity leave. There are an amazing range of ‘feminist views’ within society, and critics of feminism must learn to distinguish between them.

For example, most people who term themselves a feminist have completely different views on issues like prostitution and pornography. Most sex-negative feminists don’t support these industries on the basis that they perpetuate a stereotype of female sexual behaviour, thus constructing the way women are interpreted sexually. However, many other feminists believe that allowing women to make their own sexual choices, such as the choice to become a prostitute, is core to the notion of women making their own free decisions.

Feminists have a wide range of opinions about what the best approach is to deal with the fact that women still make up a very small number of high corporate and political positions. Yes, many feminists have advocated and supported the need for government intervention to deal with this issue – but just as many other feminists advocate a more ‘organic’ and ‘non-interventionist’ approach in obtaining better career options for women.

The point is – there is not one type of feminist. Feminism can mean a range of different things to different people and this is perfectly fine. The over-arching aim of feminism is to be constantly challenging the way both genders are viewed in society, and to be positively contributing to how we can make both genders respect each other as much as possible. You don’t have to support bra-burning or affirmative action to agree with this basic sentiment.

The biggest misconception about feminism is that it doesn’t care about men’s issues. Quite the opposite is true. Feminism cares about equality – it’s plain and simple. The great thing about feminism is that it essentially transcends gender. The debate doesn’t have to be exclusively about women. In fact, challenging popular notions of masculinity can be a part of the way men engage with and interpret feminism. However, society is only able to construct these dialogues when more men engage with the feminist discussion.

I wish I knew more men who proudly identified as feminists. It’s a shame that those who do always end up branded negatively. It’s probably a bigger shame that many women on the conservative side of politics would never dare classify themselves by the ‘feminist’ label, for fear of being viewed differently.

The misapprehension that feminism is intrinsically opposed to liberal or conservative ideology needs to change. The core basis of both liberalism and conservatism asserts that everyone deserves the same rights, freedoms and opportunities, regardless of biology. This idea is also fundamental to the feminist doctrine, and is something that the right-wing of politics should not only accept, but embrace.

I have no doubt in my mind that we still need feminism, and that all people, regardless of political persuasion, should be empowered to call themselves a feminist. The next time you hear the word ‘feminism’ being brought up in political discussion, please do not cringe, shy away from the debate or worse still, go on the offensive. It is only with more considered and informed discussion can we move past the idea that feminism is an exclusive club for left-wing female academics, and actually make a difference for gender equality.

Jessica is a 3rd year law and politics student at Griffith University. She is a member of the Young LNP and the President of the Griffith University Liberal Club.

Reminder: Women are not allowed to VOTE in Saudi Elections


 

So why aren’t all the feminists here shouting from the roof tops? Where are Germaine Greer, Eva Cox, Anne Summers and the Minister for the Status of Women Kate Ellis? Why don’t they condemn such inequality?

How come the progressive left media in this country doesn’t report on the inequality against Muslim women?

Pathetic.

Activists among Saudi Arabia's women, who can't drive or vote and need male approval to work and travel, are turning to the type of online organizing that helped topple Egypt's Hosni Mubarak to force change in a system that they say treats them like children.

The 'Baladi' or 'My Country' campaign is focused on this year's municipal elections, only the second nationwide ballot that the absolute monarchy has allowed. The election board said Monday that women would be excluded from the September 22 vote.

Another group, the Saudi Women's Revolution, citing inspiration from the Arab activism that grew into revolts against Mubarak and Tunisia's Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, is pressing for equal treatment and urging international support.

The wave of anti-regime protests hasn't translated into mass demonstrations in the kingdom that holds the world's biggest oil reserves. Saudi rulers have taken steps to ensure it won't, pledging almost $100bn spending on homes, jobs and benefits. They deployed thousands of police in Riyadh on March 11, when a protest was planned by Internet organizers – a group that increasingly includes Saudi women.

"Women are raised to fear men and to fear speaking out," Mona al-Ahmed, 25, said from Jeddah. She said she joined Women's Revolution after her brother refused to let her take her dream job, as a biochemist, because it would involve working in a mixed-gender environment.

"I opened my eyes one day and said, 'This is not the life I want,' " al-Ahmed said.

Like other Saudi opposition and protest groups, the women's movement faces a tough task. The kingdom ranked as the least democratic state in the Middle East, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit's 2010 Democracy Index.

On its Facebook page, Baladi said that Saudi women "are like other women in the world who have hopes and ambitions" and must be allowed to vote.

While Saudi Arabia placed in the top one-third of nations in the UN 2010 Human Development Report, its score for gender equality – which includes assessments of reproductive health and participation in politics and the labor market – put it 128th out of 138 nations, below Iran and Pakistan.

Saudi Arabia enforces the Wahhabi version of Sunni Islam, and its clerics say that requires strict segregation of the sexes, including in workplaces and public spaces.

Other areas of discontent include family law. A Saudi man can end his marriage by telling his wife, "You are divorced," while women must go to a court or an authorized cleric to get a dissolution. Custody of children above a certain age is usually granted to the father.

Saudi Arabia is also one of the few countries with a high rate of executions for women, Amnesty International said in a 2008 report. Adultery is among the capital offenses.

"Authorities continue to systematically suppress or fail to protect the rights of nine million Saudi women and girls," Human Rights Watch said in a January report.

In an open letter earlier to Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal, it urged his government to meet pledges it had made to end "male guardianship over women, to give full legal identity to Saudi women, and to prohibit gender discrimination."

Those are among the goals of the Women's Revolution group, which began as an exchange of Twitter messages among like-minded women and now has more than 2,000 Facebook supporters.

"Women are treated like minors, except if they commit a crime," it said on Facebook. "Then they are equal."

Saudi King Abdullah, 86, has pledged to improve women's status. He opened the kingdom's first coed university in 2009, appointed its first female deputy minister, and has promised steps to improve access to jobs for women, who make up about 15 percent of the workforce.

A change of policy in 2008 let women stay in hotels without male guardians, and an amendment to the Labor Law allowed women to work in all fields "suitable to their nature." Women can now study law at university, without being allowed to practice as lawyers in courts.

Gaining the vote would help change the world's perception of Saudi women, as well as improve their lives, the Baladi campaigners say.

"The stereotype of women in Saudi Arabia is that they are unaccounted for, incapable of reacting to their surroundings and vulnerable to cruelty," the group said. "It is vital to contribute to change such perceptions."

Via Arabian Business

Andy Semple

Speak without fear and question with boldness.

We need to talk about the ‘alien’ burqa

Michaelia_cash

In light of laws which have recently come into effect France banning the wearing of the niqab and burqa, and WA Minister for Women’s Interests Robyn McSweeney’s recent comments that she finds the burqa to be ‘a very oppressive garment’, Senator Michaelia Cash, opposition spokesperson for the Status of Women, outlines her thoughts on the veiled women in Australia.

Much has been made of the debate over whether women living in Australia should wear a burqa.

As a Liberal, I believe in a free, fair, open and democratic society where people have the right to make their own choices about the way they live their lives.

It is my opinion however that the wearing of not only the burqa, but any apparel that completely covers a person’s face, is alien to our Australian culture and our values.

I support the comment made by WA Minister for Women’s Interests Robyn McSweeney who noted that we, as Australians, communicate through the spoken word and through body language, and it is fair to say that the burqa does prohibit that open communication.

In my view this is not about telling women what to do or what to wear, what religion to practice or about dictating to them how to live and it is not about taking away their rights.

It is certainly not a slight on the huge Muslim diaspora that live as happy and active members of Australian society.

Rather, it is about living and being a fully functioning member on a daily basis in a country whose values are predicated on social interaction.

Much of our social capital is built on those face-to-face interactions that we have when we pass through a checkout while doing our grocery shopping, when we buy a coffee in the morning or when we take our children to the playground and have a chat to the other mums and dads there.

I share the view that the wearing of a burqa, by nature, excludes some women in some part from the ability to be full and active participants in society, which is what the Liberal Party encourages every Australian to do.

The concept of Australia as a multicultural country has had bipartisan support for decades now and Australians have traditionally shown newcomers to this country a great willingness to allow them to adapt to living here in their own way and at their own pace.

What we do not wish to do, as a Coalition, is to discourage new migrants from adopting parts of the Australian way of life into their own identities.

Anyone living in this country should be free and able to make choices about the way they live their lives, but recognising that with freedom comes a responsibility to respect the history, to respect the culture and respect the values Australia was built on, and everyone who lives here, regardless of who they are and where they or their parents were born, should be mindful of that.

There are many and varied reasons why women in Australia choose to wear a burqa, but the argument that it is mandated by religion is false.

As Islamic Council of WA spokesman Rahim Ghauri told The West Australian, the Koran calls for women and men to wear loose-fitting clothes to hide the outline of their bodies. Religion does not dictate that a woman’s face must be covered, he said. The implementation of the practice of Islam is open to interpretation, and that includes the extent to which women cover themselves. As New York-based academic and columnist Mona Eltahawy pointed out: ‘Islam is not monolithic. It, like other major religions, has strains and sects’.

Recently the SBS World News radio program ran with a line saying that I had called the wearing of the burqa ‘un-Australian’.

This is, unequivocally, untrue. What I said was that in any case where a woman is being forced to cover her face, where it is not done by choice, I believe that is an espousal of something that is ‘un-Australian, because that critical element of choice is denied to these women. SBS’s reporting of my comment in the way it did serves only to drive a divide between Muslims and other Australians and is, in my view, irresponsible.

I do not support a situation where a woman is forced under threat of coercion to wear a burqa as I strongly believe in the active promotion of equality between the sexes and of equality of opportunity in the community more generally.

What I think is most important is that when women come to our shores and settle in to live in our country, that they have a full understanding that freedom of choice is part of our culture and that they have the agency to make meaningful decisions for themselves.

I do not support a legislative ban on the burqa. I believe in the principal of government non-interference in the lives of private individuals insofar as that is possible.

Even the current Prime Minister has recognised that there are times when public interest trumps personal choice and that in certain cases the veil should be removed.

I agree that in instances for example airport security screening and entering a bank, that not just a burqa but any item of face covering that prohibits identification should be banned.

It is interesting to note that some of the countries that have banned the wearing of the burqa are traditionally some of the most liberal countries in the world.  It is also interesting to note that President of the Muslim Women’s National Network, Aziza Abdel-Halim, last year said she would endorse a ban as long as women were still permitted to wear veils and headscarves.

A public discourse on wearing the burqa in Australia is a discussion we should be having if we are genuinely interested in preserving and enhancing multiculturalism in Australia. As Ms Eltahawy said in a column in The Washington Post last year on the Swiss move to ban Minarets and the French burqa ban: ‘Underlying both bans is a dangerous silence: liberal refusal to robustly discuss what it means to be European, what it means to be Muslim, and racism and immigration’. This is a debate that needs to be had in Australia.

As Australians, we must not be silent on those issues which could diminish our culture and our values.  As Australians we are entitled to protect our culture and values.  We must put our core values front and centre and should not accept any attempt to diminish those values. When people immigrate to a new country, they should embrace their adopted country’s core values. One of the core values in our society is that of the recognition of equality of women and in addition to that of communication by means of facial expression.  I am not opposed to a woman wishing to cover her body in public, however, in my personal opinion, I am opposed to women in Australia covering their faces in public particularly if this is not of their choosing or if it is imposed on them.

As the fabric of society changes over time, as it constantly has through waves of immigrants to this sensational country of ours, we simply need to remember who we are and where we came from. One of our society’s core values is the recognition of the equal place of men and women in society

The Egyptian feminist Huda Shaarawi removed her veil in 1923, saying it was a thing of the past. I encourage Muslim women in Australia to consider how they reconcile their Muslim identity with their Australian one, and urge women who hide their faces to reconsider their decision to do so. 

Michaelia Cash is a Liberal Senator for Western Australia. This article originally appeared at The Punch and is reproduced with permission. For previous Menzies House commentary on the bourka, please read Ban the Burka by Senator Bernardi, Don't Ban the Burkha – Embrace it by Dan Nolan, and You gotta fight, for your right, to BURRRRKA! by Jake Zanoni.