Archives: August 2008

31 Aug 2008, Comments Off on Buried alive

Buried alive

Author: Helen

Here’s a fine serve of boiling hot anger from Twisty about a report coming out of Pakistan. It’s unbelievable that any government officebearer, of any nation, could try to defend this. In 2008.

…This pretty much defines the global humanitarian crisis that we routinely downplay as “patriarchy.”

Hold onto your hats.

Balochistan Senator Sardar Israrullah Zehri stunned the upper house on Friday when he defended the recent incident of burying alive three teenage girls and two women in his province, saying it was part of “our tribal custom.” [cite]

The justification for this appalling hate crime? The women wanted “to marry of their own will.”
The fiends perpetrating this savagery — a group that apparently included some village bigwigs — first wounded the women with gunshots, “in the name of honour.”

I will give you a moment to digest the unspeakable horror.

Of course, Twisty should not be writing like this, as according to the Great Narrative of Strawfeminism™, she should be excusing the killers on the grounds of cultural sensitivity. However, Twisty, like the rest of the feminist blogosphere, doesn’t care about the Great Narrative and just gets in there with her boots. (See also.)

You know, I have great trouble finding all these feminists who want to excuse etc., etc. I just can’t find them. It’s true that, my time being limited, my feminist blog- and book reading tends to be limited to people who I think are intelligent and have something worthwhile to say. But it does appear to my simple reality-based mind that feminists in general condemn these things just as you would expect they would. Not wanting to bomb the country in question doesn’t count, in my book.

You might like to send a terse and choicely worded missive to the High Commission for Pakistan in Canberra and/or the Australian High Commission in Islamabad.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the Australian cricket team, who have already postponed their Pakistan tour because of “security” concerns, expressed their disgust at the lack of “security” suffered by ordinary Pakistani women in their own country, and boycotted the place completely in 2008.
Crossposted at Road to Surfdom

That’s to show how much I scoff at convention.

Ollie has been going to the Rose Street Market with SO and Boychild to help sell Mr Bucket.



24 Aug 2008, Comments Off on Thread of Doom

Thread of Doom

Author: Helen

Who’d have thought a Thread of Doom would develop over a small qualitative study of partner rape conducted by Womens Health Goulburn North-East– a small, rural organisation studying events at the coalface.

Sure, the little poem at the beginning of the report: it probably seemed like a good idea at the time, but nah. Bad poetry should be stamped out tirelessly, and probably doesn’t have any place in a piece of writing which needs to present itself as serious, because it’s just handing a weapon to people who want to mock and deride.

But Nick was much more troubled by the fact that it’s a qualitative, not quantiative, report – not many lovely statistics (except some basic breakdowns and information from other sources), no equations, bar graphs, oh noes! As a business writer and economist, Nick feels that this consigns the report eternally to the intellectual dustbin. But many commenters don’t agree.

(T)he report itself seems to me a perfectly respectable piece of qualitative research. The methodology looks to be an appropriate way of eliciting the experiences and understandings of a particular group of people (spousal rape victims in Victoria’s Goulburn valley), existing research is decribed thoroughly and both the women and people from responding agencies (especially police) are interviewed thoroughly on an individual basis by 2 researchers and in focus groups, and later counselled/debriefed.
As others have noted, several of the comments seem to misunderstand the nature and purpose of this sort of qualitative research. The comment about a “hopelessly biased group of subjects” is especially misconceived. They are seeking to elicit the experiences and understandings of a particular group of women, so accusations of sample bias are by definition irrelevant.


There seems to be some confusion over what this report is about.
It’s not a piece of research for publication in a peer-reviewed journal, but a self published report from a health NGO in rural Vic. For that, it’s not a bad effort.
As for a “hopelessly biased group of subjects”, I think someone is missing the entire point and misunderstanding the relevancy of bias.

But the thing about the report which really raised the Gruen ire was the opening paragraph of the Executive summary – a preamble to the report sort-a-thing. Here it is:

Women who are raped or who suffer domestic violence are somehow thought of in the popular imagination as a stereotype. According to this, the women are asking for it, dressed inappropriately, provoking it – responsible for it. While this is clearly uninformed, our sample provides yet more evidence that any woman is vulnerable to rape. We do not need to be a certain ‘type’ of woman, or to behave in particular ways, or to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. The vignettes which follow this Executive Summary provide the evidence for this. Further evidence is found in the diversity of women who participated in this research.

Nick parses this in a way I find somewhat fanciful:

So there you go – rape really is on the end of every wolf whistle. I guess, if I wasn’t tapping away on this keyboard, I could be raping someone right now, and unless there’s something wrong with the research methodology it’s overwhelmingly likely that I wouldn’t even recognise what I was doing as a crime.

In other word, Nick read the paragraph as saying that all women everywhere are at risk of rape at all times from all men everywhere, but particularly from Nick, who, along with all blameless family men everywhere, is the target of this insulting report!

It seems pretty clear to me that what the paragraph is trying to say is that (1) with respect to rape in general, there is a tradition of victim-blaming in our society, as well as most of the others of course, (2) therefore, by providing more evidence of rape within marriage, this report shows that women are at risk even when behaving “cautiously” within a nuclear-family norm; hence, “any woman is vulnerable to rape”, not just scantily-clad women out on the tiles.

So, the thread of doom unfolds. (Oh look over there! Lesbian violence!)

I’d commend Nick and some of his commenters to a couple of posts which are becoming classics in the blogosphere: Sometimes, Conversations with my Man are Instructive, by Ilyka Damen (a story about another Thread of Doom), and Dear Ladies, please stop getting yourselves raped… by Melissa McEwan. As well as that report, of course.

As for “find a worse piece of research”? That’s easy. Here’s lots. (H/T to Barista.)

Against abortion? Don't have one

The bill to legalise abortion has been introduced into the Victorian parliament. You’ll remember that that’s the one with the options A, B and C.

The Bill allows unrestricted abortions in the first 24 weeks of pregnancy, but termination would have to be approved by two doctors after 24 weeks.

That looks to me like the draft bill has gone with option B – Choice for women up to 24 weeks but with legal constraints imposed after that. Option C would have left the choice completely in the hands of the pregnant woman. Therefore, this bill, if it becomes law, won’t stop forced-birthers hounding and harassing women who need an abortion after 24 weeks – and their doctors.

This, of course, is because of the persistent idea that women are all mad keen to get very late term abortions just for the hell of it— an idea which I find very stupid, but it seems to persist along with the myth that the ALP (State and Federal) still has any tenuous connection with progressive thought. Fortunately, while forced-birthers like to create the impression that the typical abortion is late-term, these are relatively rare and may be even more rare if women aren’t delayed by the fear of illegality and delays from mandatory “pregnancy counselling”. That would benefit the majority of women who don’t even come within cooee of 24 weeks. But will the bill even go through as it is?

The coverage in the local paper today consisted of a human interest story about Greens MP Colleen Hartland, who I know and like, and a short drive-by interview with Labor MP Christine Campbell. Here’s what Campbell has to say:

WOMEN who are considering an abortion need more information and better decision-making counselling, Labor MP Christine Campbell has warned.
With legislation to decriminalise abortion expected to be introduced into State Parliament today, Ms Campbell said: “My big concern is that everyone’s so hell bent on decriminalising abortion, we might forget to put in place the support and care systems that women and couples need.”
Ms Campbell, who is expected to vote against decriminalisation, said she is leading a “Living Labor” group to push for amendments to protect women, whatever the result of the vote.

Maybe there were space constraints – heaven knows there was TEH SPORT taking first priority – but this leaves a few pertinent facts out, mainly that Christine Campbell is specifically anti-choice, and that in this country “women who are considering an abortion need more information and better decision-making counselling” is code for “women need to be badgered out of having an abortion and should definitely not be referred for same.”

Exhibit A: the former Federal government’s “pregnancy counselling” centres, run by religious anti-choice groups, which were the subject of a GetUp campaign, Stop Deceiving Women, because they concealed the true nature of their operations and advertised as if they were a neutral service. When Democrats senator Natasha Stott Despoja introduced the Pregnancy Counselling (Truth in Advertising) Bill in 2007 to counter this practice, Federal Labor refused to support it.

The bottom line is that social conservative Labor says that you can’t be trusted with your own body. I say that I don’t trust them with my reproductive rights.

13 Aug 2008, Comments (19)

Sports refusenik posts on sport

Author: Helen

For those of you who are already sick and tired of male olympic athletes in lycra onesies or little-boy long shorts and horrible sunglasses that make them look like insects, and endless footage of the Barbie beach volleyball, get an eyeful of one of our Olympic eventing teammates in the Dressage stage. Colin Firth, move over!
Clayton Fredericks competes in the Olympic Team 3DE

Being an unsporty person, and having a very high cynicism level already towards the Olympics and its hosts, I was quite prepared not to give a rat’s about any aspect of the actual sport. To my surprise, I find there are a couple of things I do care about.

One is the way in which the Olympic coverage and the way in which some sports are evolving perfectly demonstrate the problems facing young women who are trying to excel at a high level, but are being taught by the media and sporting bodies that it’s their, err, sporting bodies which are the marketing tool and raison d’etre of it all. More from the Hoydens about Town.

The other is the abysmal coverage of the sport in which we are just a hairsbreadth behind Germany, the acknowledged world leaders. This is a sport in which we have just gained silver in a team event lasting three days. I’m referring, of course, to the equestrian team, and specifically the team eventing.

This is an elitist activity, of course, although that stable door is open and the horse long gone (pun intended) for a lot of sports at the Olympic level. Let’s just let that balloon go for a sec and compare their treatment with that of our swimmers and ball sport athletes. Unlike the pampered darlings of the AIS, these people have had to spend years preparing not just themselves but a big, fragile, sometimes unpredictable animal for a competition in which a tiny slip can put you in a wheelchair, or kill you. Then they have had to do a three-day event which you could perhaps describe as a kind of horse triathlon, where the same horse has to perform the widest range of tasks imaginable, again with little room for error.

This is a sport where men and women compete against each other, and in teams together, with no distinctions. This time around, it was one of the female members of the team who came highest in the individual rankings (just missing out on individual bronze, unfortunately.) In addition to that, it’s one where older people can still excel. Our oldest equestrian team member is Laurie Lever- this is his Olympic debut, at 60!

And I know we Aussies are legendary swimmers, but do most Australians know how high we are in the world of equestrian eventing? How are they ever going to find out, when the equestrian coverage is just not there, and every day we’re subjected to more splishy splashy, splishy splashy from the pool, interspersed with airbrushed footage of a model-like Liesel Jones packing the Australian population in her suitcase? (Yeah, fat chance I’m getting in there with your socks, Liesel.) Yesterday, the Australian team were running second to Germany and were possibly in sight of a gold medal, but I had to search and search through the AGE to find one tiny article buried in an obscure position. I tried a tabloid, MX, and it had nothing at all. That was the point at which SOME SUPPORT FROM THEIR COUNTRY might have counted for something.

Can it possibly be a coincidence that this isn’t a sport where hot young women are hopping about in skimpy lycra cossies?

The Australian equestrian team must be so discouraged at the treatment they’ve received from the Australian media. Absolutely bloody shameful.

Here’s Megan Jones, the highest individual Australian scorer, with Irish Jester in the cross country.

Australia's Megan Jones rides Irish Jester during the equestrian eventing cross country competition at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games in Hong Kong

Photo from

9 Aug 2008, Comments Off on Being a real-life Princess: You’re someone to be reckoned with: now make me a sandwich

Being a real-life Princess: You’re someone to be reckoned with: now make me a sandwich

Author: Helen

I’m not much of a fan of royal people and try to ignore them whenever I can. Ditto womens’ glossies. But when that Mary whatsername from Tasmania married that Fred person from Denmark, I was happy to see an Aussie-related royal with some dignity and brains for a change. She was a class act, and she whupped Fred’s ass in a sailing race soon after they got engaged.

Since then, the vile Fairfax / News Ltd / Womens magazine complex has been examining every wart that they can detect (or imagine) with their dirty-linen-oscope in the hope that, like That Other princess, she’ll crash and burn. Happily Mary has refused to oblige, continuing to be a Class Act. But they try their best. The other day I was waiting in the express lane with an eggplant and a carton of milk when I copped an eyeful of some stupid headline on one of those moronic mags, along the lines of OH NO MARY CAN’T COOK!!1!1!1!

Seriously, if an identifiable womens glossy mag employee had been ahead of me in the queue, he or she would have copped that eggplant right up the jacksie, and you know how much the stem part would hurt.

I googled for a link, and discovered that this horrifying news was all over the tabloids like a rash. But I’m not giving Fairfax any free kicks either. Here, in the SMH, it was listed under fucking breaking news. Fuck! Sorry, words fail me. Breaking news.

For those murrikins who thankfully don’t share the Australian tabloid obsession with European royals, the job-while not being rocket science- is actually quite taxing. It’s a bit like our Governor-General, you have to function as a figurehead of State while participating in all kinds of rituals mandated by the State and tradition. And both spouses are involved. It’s a very public and taxing role, and it’s evidently not about lying on your pink Sparkle Princess couch eating bon-bons. What does the job not entail? What’s something that people at that level would routinely outsource to others? that’s right – cooking!

But heaven forbid that any woman should display the genetic defect of not being a good cook, because as we know they should be hard-wired for it, and now the dynasty will be ruined.

As far as I know, no articles have appeared claiming that Prince Fred is unable to mow his own lawn.

4 Aug 2008, Comments Off on It’s a small world

It’s a small world

Author: Helen

My dear friend D. came back from a trip to Long Island, which is where she comes from. She flew back via Tahiti, economy class.

Between Papeete and Sydney, she was sitting in the middle row. Next to her in the two seats by the window were… Peter and Tanya Costello.

When his memoirs finally come out, I expect there’ll be a section on “Economy class: the Wilderness years”.

Tanya was very nice, she said, although she didn’t get to chat to the $weetie.

3 Aug 2008, Comments (7)

Go, Granny, go!

Author: Helen

When I am old I shall wear purple play God Save the Queen (the Sex Pistols version) at the Sydney Biennale.

H/T to Malcolm. (No, not that Malcolm.)