Archives: February 2009

28 Feb 2009, Comments (15)

The writer and the cartoonist

Author: Helen

Last year, some cartoons which accompanied two of Miranda Devine‘s articles caught my attention. One article (they’re both in the SMH, as always) is about feminists – they all hated Sarah Palin ‘cos they’re nasty. The other is about cougars. You know- women of a certain age who are desperate to partner.

In the Sarah Palin vs. feminism article, Devine asserts – and I hope you’re not eating breakfast while you read this – “in her brief starring role on the global stage [Palin] has been a powerful psychic enema, flushing out the poison at the heart of establishment feminism for all to see.” Now newcomers to Devine World will be saying “But, Sarah Bernhardt and Kathy Lette are not exactly spokespersons for feminism. And US feminists defended Palin against sexist commentary while a lot of male commentators wallowed it it”. Well, Devine is Strawfeminists R Us, so let’s not waste too much time on her under-researched opinions.
Edd Aragon, 1

What intrigued me was the cartoon; it’s so over the top. Well, the “feminist” depicted isn’t the Full Stereotype, judging by the heels and dress, although the hair looks as if it’s long and grey – an absolute no-no for Western women- but the depiction of the “feminist” is so, for want of a better word, hectic. Mad, tongue lolling, muscles like a skinned rabbit; Over-coloured, gesticulating wildly, jumping up and down on the face of the hapless Palin.

Hmm. Now for the other article, about cougars in the city of Sydney trying to find love. Miranda begins with the well-worn old starting point that women aren’t partnered these days because they’re too damn fussy, then points to one of those risible “statistical surveys” that our MSM love so much, suggesting that these fusspots should simply move to different suburbs to beat the odds. But! that doesn’t mean they should be, god forbid, calculating, like her old School Chum from Ascham, who persists in having preferences (Devine refers to this as having a “shopping list”). Never mind that the demographer Bernard Salt, refers to men as “product”.

Edd Aragon,2

Here, the cartoon shows a woman who’s just doing femininity in an ordinary way: a nicer haircut, pearls, drop earrings, lipstick, manicure… but the image is, if anything, more terrifying than the picture of the “feminist”. The woman’s huge, over-life size teeth are actually chomping onto the tiny man. The poor, tiny, powerless man! This woman will eat you alive.

Because, remember, in the eyes of the lecturing Miranda, you’re damned if you’re feminist and damned if you’re not. (If women were so powerful and terrifying, why should they have to move house to find a partner?) The image says something else – men, some men, fear strong women. Really fear them.

I googled the cartoonist, and discovered he has a blog. Does he hate women? Far from it, if his blog is anything to go by. You can easily find other caricatures he’s drawn which don’t show the subject as fearsome or terrible. So, what gives?

Do cartoonists tailor their artwork to the piece of writing it’s going to be published with, or does the writer exhort the artist to make an image nicer, naster, scarier to fit what they’re saying? I can’t work out why these images are so horrible; they don’t really jive with the artist’s whole body of work.

As I said, no particular reason for this post except that I realised how little I know about the mechanics of articles-with-cartoons and whether, or how, the writer and the cartoonist communicate to put across the message. I’d be interested to hear from any cartoonists if there are any reading!
Crossposted at Hoyden About Town

Update 1/03/2009: Pavlov’s Cat writes an interesting response from the writer’s side of the fence.

25 Feb 2009, Comments (17)

You’re soaking in it.

Author: Helen

Another little delivery of mass-produced misogyny in our inbox. For Valentines’ day, no less. This time it isn’t anyone we know, but check the hilarity:

Valentines day… secretly guys feel left out.
There is no special holiday for the ladies to show their appreciation to the man in their life.
March 20th is now officially ‘Steak, blow job & shut the fuck up day’. Simple, effective and self explanatory.
No cards. No flowers. No fancy meal.
Just a steak, blow job and shut the fuck up for the rest of the day.
That’s it!!!
Spread the word and help men feel appreciation.

To those who will immediately come in here and opine, “Well, you know, it’s just a joke! and it’s spam!” I reply that it just gets tiring, sometimes.

I just dropped into the supermarket to get bread, which is a daily habit – there’s always something running out. Bread, fruit, milk, the perishables. By “dropped into” I mean “made a detour to get stuff, instead of sitting for half an hour drinking capuccino before my second shift.” And I see this exchange between a young cannibal and a cannibal Dad on a birthday card:
Son: Look, a woolly mammoth!
Dad: No, son, too hairy. Bleugh! We’ll find something else to eat.
Son: Look Dad, a dodo!
Dad: No, too feathery. Bleugh!
Son: Look Dad, a lovely young woman! [YW is, of course, in a paleolithic bikini. What else?]
Dad: No wait a minute Son. Don’t kill her! We’ll take her home – and we’ll eat your mother.

humourless feminist! Can’t you take a joke!

Being so hated makes you want to throw the bread away and opt for the capuccino, or better still, a stiff vodka and tonic. Or just get into the fridge and close the door. At least the men in your own family don’t think this way. At least, as far as you know.

Back to the delightful Valentine’s day “joke”. See, even on the day they should love you the most, they really do hate you. Googling it for research purposes, surprise, surprise, of course it comes up on a “blog” thread – Kate De Brito. The agony aunt. (e.g., “We came home to find the babysitter half nude. What do we do?” errr… not hire that particular babysitter again? “Should I tell my partner about a breast enlargement?” Oh Murdoch, you’re all class.)

The comments are about what you’d expect:
“You’re very lucky if the girl makes any effort other than parting her legs at the end of the night.
SO…I hereby propose MARCH 20th to be…
“It reminds me of a quote a very old man told me many years ago. “ All women are prostitutes, we all pay for sex, at least with real “working girls” one knows the cost and what one will get”
…”In purely monetary terms, hookers are actually cheaper. Depending on your personal cost structures (housing, transport, rates, flowers, movies etc) your average man would need to get sex at least 4 times a week to break even on a “normal” relationship.”
…”pity any guy if it happens to be that time of the month for his girl. It’s like putting some money in the bank with no interest on your deposit.”


This comes shortly after another story on and its extraordinary social conscience:

ONLINE retail giant Amazon has yanked from its virtual shelves a Japanese computer game that lets players simulate raping girls…

…”after it was brought to the US web firm’s attention”. Of course, it’d be too much to expect that a successful retail giant could possibly afford to vet the quality of its merchandise in the first place. While some of the commenters on that article are groping towards a realisation that all isn’t right with a “game” like this, some of them are more concerned with a perceived insult to their platform.

…, change the thumbnail photo on the homepage. This has nothing to do with console gaming, at ALL.

…Why is there an Xbox 360 controller in the picture? This has nothing to with Xbox 360 or any other console for that matter

Touching, no? If only I were an X box. I’m feeling the love there.

Also on

SLEAZY men are taking advantage of Sydney’s rental crisis by placing online advertisements offering women free rooms in exchange for sex.
The zero-rent ads, targeting desperate women looking for somewhere to live, are becoming increasingly common on popular “share house” rental websites.
Although there have been numerous complaints about the ads, which some website users have dubbed “offensive”, they do not breach policy guidelines for sites such as

And oh lord, the comments thread on that one.

So what’s the point, you say? This stuff is all over the place every single day. Yes, exactly that.

13 Feb 2009, Comments (2)

Bushfire Housing: Pass it on

Author: Helen

Someone has developed a not-for-profit website to facilitate temporary housing for victims of the fires. I haven’t had time to check it out myself, but it’s via a trustworthy IRL source. He says:

A friend of mine has been involved over the past week in developing a not-for-profit website to facilitate temporary housing for victims of the fires. It’s up and running (three cheers for agile web development!) and available at:

They are looking for people to offer up a spare room/bed/couch through the site, and are promoting the service by word of mouth – please spread the word!

Also, John Quiggin’s donation thread is continuing through the weekend. My donation recommendations are here and here.

9 Feb 2009, Comments (17)


Author: Helen

Not saying much about anything here at the moment, because the situation in my State is too awful for words. The death toll is 131 at the time of posting. They haven’t found all the bodies.
Two towns, Kinglake and Marysville, both completely gone. Now Strathewen as well.

From the newspaper letters page today:

Australia’s real heroes don’t hit or kick or whack balls around, wear Speedos or strum guitars, all for great rewards. They drive fire trucks, wield hoses and risk their lives, for nothing.

Can I say an a-f**ckin’ men to that.

WHITTLESEA, Australia (AFP) – Huddled under a dampened blanket as Australia’s deadly bushfires roared over her head “like a jet engine”, Sonja Parkinson was convinced she and infant son Sam would die.
Instead, the flimsy shelter saved them from the inferno that claimed at least 32 lives in their town of Kinglake, one of many stories of heroism and miraculous escapes to emerge from the country’s worst fire disaster.
“I thought we were going to die,” she told the Australian newspaper, explaining how she ran for her life as her home was engulfed.
“The two front rooms were ablaze. I couldn’t see. It was black. We went down to the creek and we hid,” she said.
A shallow puddle proved their salvation, as Parkinson doused a blanket and awaited their fate.
“This little one was so brave under the blanket,” she said.
“We had a blanket over us in the creek and we huddled with the dog and two neighbours and two lyrebirds.
“It was shallow, a summer creek, but there was just enough water, a puddle. We sat in a muddy puddle under a wet blanket and the fire went through us.”
Further to the east near Healesville, teenager Rhys Sund used a tiny tractor and trailer to save his sister Rhiannon and a group of frightened women and children from an isolated farmhouse in the path of the firestorm.

“I’m so proud of the young bloke,” the 19-year-old’s father Mark told Melbourne’s Age newspaper. “He cut down the fences in his way and went in.
“Rhys hasn’t been to bed yet. He’s been fighting the fire all night.”

Christopher Harvey from Kinglake says the fire that hit the area was an “inferno”.
“There was no chance of fighting or taking care of this fire.
“Everybody’s gone. Everybody’s gone. Everybody. Their houses are gone. This is our house, this is it. They’re all dead in the houses there. Everybody’s dead.”

Red Cross – give them yer money and yer blood. As Lauredhel points out, don’t use the official DSE or CFA fire notification sites, so as to keep the traffic there down.

Update 10/2/2008:

The terrible outfall from the bushfires continues and there are lots of fantastic projects and acts of generosity going on right now. One I will mention is that on FRIDAY (13th) Coles will donate the profits of the day to bushfire relief. So everyone save up your grocery shopping and DO IT THEN. Pass the word!

(Via Eglantine’s Cake, who is in the thick of it at St Andrews.)

1 Feb 2009, Comments (6)

What I did in the Holidays

Author: Helen

…Not much.

As some of you already know, I get to take some serious time off in the school holidays because I’m only paid for 48 weeks of the year. This year SO went away twice – low key swimming-canoeing-fishing trips, both times – but I was lazy, holiday houses were full and I elected to stay at home and just do the SAHM thing for a month.

I did go frockblogging in Bendigo, which was divine, darlings! and some touristy things around town, which I mean to write about soon.

Exciting developments: Online Opinion published the “Home ATM” post, and the Larvyprodders invited me to write for them. With all this time at home and additional inspiration, did I complete all the draft posts I have sitting around and the ones which have been stewing in my head? No, I did not. I spent much of the time gardening, reading and doing buggerawl.