Archives: May 2010

Oh excellent! Electronic Frontiers Australia is targeting youngsters for its campaign against Stephen Conroy’s net filter with that old classic that never loses its appeal: Mothers are brainless twits!

OK, uninformed, ignorant, whatever. But certainly clueless. (And any web page concerning us should be wall-to-wall pink.)
As activists with children who have campaigned side by side (or so they thought) with EFA to educate others about why Conroy’s net filter won’t work, the writers at Hoyden are obviously pissed off. As an IT worker, net obsessive and opponent of the “clean feed” with two children, I’m also pissed off, insulted, and hurt. I’m also deeply disappointed with Akmal Saleh, who I dearly love. No, make that loved.

Mary:

This week’s “let’s explain technology in little words to our mothers award, boys” goes to Electronic Frontiers Australia’s It’s Time to Tell Mum campaign against the ALP’s filtering proposal.
Seriously, is there some kind of bingo card for “getting mothers involved” yet? Here some squares to get you started, thanks to “It’s Time to Tell Mum”: mothers are late technology adopters, mothers are uninterested in technology and toys for their own sake, mothers are solely responsible for the moral welfare of children, (which is lucky because) mothers are pretty much only interested in the moral welfare of children, (which is also lucky because) fathers and co-parents might as well not exist. Any more?

Lauredhel:

Hello, EFA, we’re RIGHT HERE. Tigtog and I, and other Hoydens and Hoydenizens have been blogging about this proposed filter for over a year now, again and again. Somehow our current events awareness and capacity for political thought didn’t fall out of our vaginas with the baby(ies).
There’s a really strong side serve of “teh wimminz are the ones looking after children” infusing this also, which makes me wince every time.
Try genderflipping the campaign. Would the EFA have released the same campaign as “It’s Time To Tell Dad“? With cracks about dads doing nothing but watch Kerri-Anne Kennerley and Days of Our Lives? “Dads love gossip”?
“Even dads want an internet connection that’s faster, cheaper and more secure”?

See also.

Yeah, you can get on with saving Australia from the Clean Feed without me, young geeky hipsters at EFA. Since I only want to watch Good Morning Australia and gossip with the hairdresser, obviously I can no longer pretend to give a shit about your campaign, as I don’t need the internetz for those activities. I’ll be over here, crocheting a cucumber or something.

Advertising agency Fnuky‘s online pitch says: “looking for an advertising agency? We’re not one.” Fair call. Advertising agencies are supposed to be about making people like their clients. Geordie Guy of EFA tries to salvage the trainwreck by defending the video with arguments which are ineffectual and wrong, but that’s beside the point – if we’re talking about marketing, once you’re using arguments (however specious) to argue your case against angry customers/supporters/target consumers, your marketing campaign has failed.

It would have been so easy, as others have pointed out, to make the campaign “tell your folks”, or “tell your olds”. At least that would have patronised older people equally.

29 May 2010, Comments (6)

Nasty email forwards

Author: Helen

How do you know when it’s getting closer to election time in Australia? By the incidences of unbelievable asshattery, douchebaggery and sheer fuckery which start popping up.

Yesterday one of my co-workers at the Ronnie James Dio Memorial Dogs home (and cattery) got an email with a variation (it’s mutating all the time) of this. (Scroll down for the May 2010 example.)

Charming!

Using google-fu, it took about three seconds to find out the history of this…piece of work.

What about the piece of work who made it and circulated it? What kind of person does this? Whoever you are, you are the very doyen of Douchebaggery. And you, the person who forwarded the thing. Yes, you. I hope you are thoroughly ashamed of yourself and not just for being pranked by some nasty email hoaxer with an agenda.

At least we know it’s getting closer to Election time. Stand by for more horrid examples of what backroom droids can cook up in their petri dishes.

The burqa is a controversial piece of clothing at the moment, and it certainly has a strange effect on some people. Their reading comprehension seems to go out the window, almost as if they were the ones peering out of a tiny slit which only allows limited vision. Some of them also seem to have a severe case of White Knight syndrome. For the the last week I’ve been involved in a circular and pointless argument on LP which has gone something like this (a reconstruction if you will, not a verbatim account, which you can read at the link if you have the stomach.)

Me: I’m against Cory Bernardi’s / Fred Nile’s call to ban the wearing of burqas in public because I find it unacceptable to punish people who are already oppressed. Plus, I don’t think it will work.

Another Commenter: So you support wearing burqas! How can you call yourself a feminist?

Me: Not at all. I think the burqa is highly problematic garment and if it’s forced on people it’s definitely a tool of oppression. I just think arresting, fining and perhaps imprisoning women for wearing it isn’t going to exactly have the effect you’re looking for.

Another Commenter: You feminists and your support for the burqa!

Me: Dude. I just said I did not support the burqa. I have no love for the burqa, niqab and what they represent. I just don’t support criminalising people who wear it because it will punish the people you are trying to help.

Another feminist: What do you think will happen if they pass this one?

AC: You feminists, so busy compromising you can’t stand for anything!

Me: Look, here’s an example of how you can think something is harmful while opposing making its users criminals.

AC: See, here are three quotes from some Muslim/Middle Eastern feminists who want to ban the burqa. That proves I’m right!

Me: “…”

The conversation has been framed – all over, it seems, not just on that blog – as A versus B where A represents po-mo acceptance of compulsory veiling and B represents making a law against it. It seems incomprehensible when a few of us say that we don’t approve of forcing a burqa or niqab on someone at all, but we also think criminalising it will do more harm than good, especially to the veilees- C or D – it’s heard by most people as A. It just can’t be heard, somehow, outside the frame.

The media has enjoyed a week of glorious po-mo-feminist scolding, culminating in this doozy by Virginia Hausegger, which took up almost a third of the AGE editorial page:

A bizarre form of political correctness is preventing us from an open discussion about what is, in fact, female subjugation.
It would seem there are some things in Australia we are not allowed to discuss. A ban on the burqa is clearly one of them.

Almost performance art that, the biggest article on maybe the second most important page of a national daily complaining about being completely silenced. I know that “we’re not allowed to talk about anything because of all this political correctness” is pretty much Holy Writ for culture warriors, but to persist in the face of so much countervailing evidence is nothing less than heroic, and I know that opinion is not the same as reporting, but when did it become simply making stuff up? Yah, political correctness was preventing us from an open discussion of the burqa ban so much, we had only been discussing it for several days on various blogs and talkback radio and crap TV, and there had only been articles on it (both opinion and reporting) in the AGE, the Australian, 9msn, all the news.com.au outlets, Yahoo news, the Punch, New Matilda… to name a few. As forbidden and taboo as twittering about Masterchef.

As for the LP thread, once the discussion had morphed from what they’re doing in France to what we should do here, you would think that instead of being a vanishingly rare minority, burqas had taken over the entire Australian landscape, that is, if you were to give credence to the people who are “offended” by them. Worse, though, is the excruciating fauxminism flung around by some otherwise intelligent people who would just like to feel they’re doing something to “help” the oppressed women of Islam by adding a new offence to the penal code. So, what will happen to women if they are forced to wear the thing by abusive fundamentalist family members? Will they become housebound? What happens to women who might just be habituated to covering up? Will there be any help for them if they experience agoraphobia and panic? Will criminalisation spark a reaction, from both conservatives and fundies and from the minority of young radicals to whom it’s a political or social statement?

Presumably, women brought in for burqa-wearing would also end up with a criminal record.

Or as Kim more eloquently put it: “Yeah, right, we solve inequality in gender relations between Islamic men and women in some cultural manifestations through banning women from doing something. Great!”

And the one question which supporters of the ban don’t want to answer – how should they, as men, be addressing the root of the problem. Whether the burqa is a required feature, rather than a bug, in Islam is probably something few non-Muslim Australians are qualified to argue about – although there’s an interesting discussion of that here. What should be done about the male gaze, and the assumption that women’s bodies are so radioactive and men so weak of will that rape will simply be compulsory if women don’t cover up, is definitely something which the blokes on LP can do something about, if they so choose. The difference between “Infidel uncovered meat!1!” and “what did she expect, going there at that hour in that skirt” is only one of degree, not kind. But it’s easier to make a new law with the stroke of a pen and claim your fauxminism has won the day for women everywhere than think about that stuff.

If you find you’re standing shoulder to shoulder with Fred Nile and Cory Bernardi, that might give you an inkling that perhaps something isn’t right. Since the wars in Afghanistan and Iran took a nasty turn and no WMDs or Osama Bin Laden turned up, and people who were- to put it mildly – not known for their feminism started getting thumpy-chested about rescuing the poor women of Islam from the nastier manifestations of their culture, many of us look at Bernardi and Howard and Nile and go “uh-oh.” The burqa has been around for a while. Why is it suddenly intolerable and criminal now? Has it anything to do with the rise of rightwing groups and the need to placate nationalism in Europe, UK and here? Could it be that Cory wants a handy dogwhistle against strange people from other countries, now that Boat People are being used again as a wedging political issue?

It was with a great sense of recognition that I read The Discourse of the Veil, by Leila Ahmed, recommended by Laura. The appropriation of quasi-femininist thinking by people who would subject Muslim women to police harassment and fines is just the latest example in a long history of interactions between Western culture and Muslim women. You really need to read the whole thing, but here is an excerpt about Lord Cromer (Evelyn Baring), a British administrator in Egypt in the late nineteenth century:

This champion of the unveiling of Egyptian women was, in England, founding member and sometime president of the Men’s League for Opposing Women’s Suffrage. Feminism on the home front and feminism directed against white men was to be resisted and suppressed; but taken abroad and directed against the cultures of colonized peoples, it could be promoted in ways that admirably served and furthered the project of the dominance of the white man.

And this wasn’t merely an eccentricity of Cromer’s, but part of a pattern:

(T)he ideas of Western feminism essentially functioned to morally justify the attack on native societies and to support the notion of the comprehensive superiority of Europe. Evidently, then, whatever the disagreements of feminism with white male domination within Western societies, outside their borders feminism turned from being the critic of the system of white male dominance to being its docile servant.

Legalistic burqa bans had the most impact on the most powerless women, and not necessarily the result expected.

Similarly, in the 1920s the Iranian ruler Reza Shah, also an active reformer and westernizer, went so far as to issue a proclamation banning the veil, a move which had the support of some upper-class women as well as upper-class men…The police had instructions to deal harshly with any woman wearing anything other than a European-style hat or no headgear at all, and many women chose to stay at home rather than venture outdoors and risk having their veils pulled off by the police.

Fast forward to the Noughties, and the Blairs/Bolts/Hitchens using fauxminism to add an idealistic tinge to their Mesopotamian and Afghani adventures, while sneering at feminists themselves. I’d thought their fauxminism was a new development peculiar to our hyper-cynical age of spin, but no. It’s been going on for a long time.

I’m sick of the lazy argument that people who disagree with making women, going about their daily business, into criminals, are therefore in favour of burqas. I’m sick, too, of the endless repetition of “feminists won’t help women of other cultures because they’re po-mo cultural relativists”. Give it a rest. If I could end forced veiling (if anyone chooses to wear a burqa, I really don’t think it’s any of our business) and FGM tomorrow, I would. But using legal punishment – and punishing the people who are themselves abused by any cultural practice – is simply using the wrong tool for the job, fellas. You’re not going to engender love for the glorious Western civ that way.

The most effective challenge to the burqa would be for men to start talking amongst themselves about the presumption of entitlement to any uncovered, or less-covered female body which pervades their own society, whether Islamic or not. I think that compared to just adding another crime to the statute books, having a nice warm glow, and forgetting about it, that would be quite hard work.

Sex Addiction is the popular indisposition du jour for the privileged and famous. First it was all over the Tiger Woods coverage, now we’re told Russell Brand’s been suffering from this terrible addiction.

It’s interesting that behaviour similar to that which constitutes “sex addiction” in men is described as “hookup culture” and sluttiness in women. (And by “similar behaviour” I’m really being generous to the Brands and Woods of this world. I haven’t heard of any young female undergraduates maintaining a team of minions to bring multiple sexual partners to them.) As a “sex addict”, you can obviously get away with a lot more than some girl who is merely a slutty slut, and enhance your fame and reputation as a wild playboy at the same time. And if you’re a popular male comedian checking into rehab for your Sex Addiction, then you are suffering from a Condition and deserve sympathy, unlike the disgusting hoydens who are destroying Western civilisation with their wanton behaviour.

Just as an aside, the description of Brand’s father and their sex-tourist trip to Hong Kong, where Dad taught his son to treat women as a commodity without any corresponding Dadly education about condoms and sexual health: what would the commentary be like if his mum had been the one on the trip? I can just imagine.

Conservatives have rushed into print with numerous articles of the “Hookup Culture Hurts Women” type. This is how it’s framed. If Hookup Culture hurts men, or boys, it’s left dangling if you’ll excuse the double-entendre, because the boys/men in these effusions are either (1) Only out for one thing, because they’re totally rooled by their biological urges and can’t help it, or (2) invisible – the writer is interested in focusing on female participants as slutty sluts, but not so interested in their partners, who are entitled to the behaviour (see (1).)

No double standard here at all.

8 May 2010, Comments (8)

Who would Jesus Bone?

Author: Helen

By sheer coincidence, just before Catherine Deveny was sacked from her AGE gig for tasteless twitters about iconic Orstralians, I clicked onto a masterpiece by Lawrence Money in a spirit of WTF-is-he-saying now. Deveny’s twitters were, to put it mildly, a bit ordinary, but look at what Fairfax publishes on its “blog” section: Could Pauline Hanson be right?. (Previously: “Three Cheers for Pauline Hanson!“)

Money has been around forever on the “social” pages, drip, drip, dripping a kind of slow poison against anyone he sees as being leftyscum, but evidently in Modern Times his previously thinly concealed xenophobia, sexism and homophobia has kicked up a notch. Here’s another one: Enoch Speaks from the Grave!. That is, Enoch “Rivers of Blood” Powell. But obviously Money’s on first name terms.
A graphic representation of a Charlie Chaplinesque face with bowler hat and a rather Hitlerish moustache.

 
I’m starting to see that little guy’s moustache in quite a different way.

I don’t know that if I were in Fairfax management’s shoes – a strange place to be, I agree – I would necessarily find Deveny the worst trollumnist on the payroll. A writer who, in her own time, although in a public forum (her “passing notes in class” defence was unbelievably silly), made a couple of rather horrible bad taste jokes about a two very successful people; versus someone who, in the Fairfax online space, contributes to the ongoing drip, drip, drip of polemic against asylum seekers and people of other races and religions?

If I were Rove or Bindi, I’d be hurt by the Deveny tweets. They would be like a little savage kick to the gut, those jokes. I wouldn’t wish that on anyone. (And of course they are not me, and possibly they weren’t offended at all…)

But more importantly, Rove and Tasma and Bindi aren’t threatened. “Offended” doesn’t cover how an immigrant or asylum seeker might feel, perhaps traumatised already by war and suffering and then subjected to “opinion” articles like this. Many of them, of course, won’t see the article, but they’ll certainly be aware of the zeitgeist which it feeds. “Offended” doesn’t cover physical personal injury at the hands of people who are given courage and targets identified by this stuff. People have died and they are still dying, some just around the corner from me, so perhaps this is a little close to home… literally.

And Money keeps drip-drip-dripping out his poison in the pages, social and online, of the AGE. I don’t know that I’d bone either of them. But I know which one “offends” me more.

It’s DUFC’s second birthday and it’s being hosted over at Frankie PhD’s.

logo links to Down Under Feminists Carnival website

Well, what are you waiting for?