Archives: June 2010

26 Jun 2010, Comments (12)

By the pricking of my thumbs

Author: Helen

The historic spill on Thursday had some of the hallmarks of a stage play, a Greek tragedy, or as the Americans say, Kabuki. Bekk wins by reproducing the whole thing in LOLcats (or LOLpolz) for your education.

I heard Kevin Rudd channelling Shakespeare on the ABC Breakfast program that morning, doing MacBeth and Duncan simultaneously.

KR: it’s far better these things are done quickly rather than being strung out over a period of time.

MacBeth: “If it were done when ’tis done, then ’twere well / It were done quickly” (Act 1, sc 7)

Quite a contrast to a past era where Labor politicians expressed their keenness to do people slowly. But back to the Scottish play. It was an ominous coincidence, and the weather outside the kitchen window was obligingly dark and rainy, but in this case it appears there were four witches, not three.

“When will we four meet again?…
when the hurly burly’s done, when the battle’s lost and won.
That’ll be ere the 6 o’clock news set of sun.
Double, double toil and trouble
Fire burn, and cauldron bubble.

I’m sure the right wing commentariat would like to riff on Julia Gillard/Lady Macbeth, but it isn’t really a starter. The apparatchiks played the three four witches and Lady Macbeth rolled into one, and Julia was MacBeth herself. Who, you will recall, was a pasty freckly celt. See, it all fits. It’s spooky.

As for the next few weeks in the media, this pretty much says it all.

What an excellent coincidence that this post should spring up in the Femmostroppo Reader just as I had this one nearly ready to go: OH HAI Naomi Mc, have I got an example for you! In the same week that, in Melbourne alone, two men set a woman and a girl on fire (the second man also raped the girl) there was a report in the ABC News opining that again, society is going down the tubes because of feminism. With a big, scary, hot pink feminist symbol! Brrr.

A senior lecturer in psychology at Charles Darwin University, Dr Peter Forster, says there is no truth to the argument that testosterone levels make men more aggressive.
He says social factors such as the rise of feminism in the last few decades could be behind the rise in violence amongst women.

I’m happy to give him points for biology not being destiny – a refreshing change from most antifeminists I’ve read – but what actual evidence does he have that the “rise of feminism” has kicked off a rise in violence among women? Has he demonstrated that there is a rise in female violence?
Has he told us what the increase(s) are and from what bases they’ve increased? No. Has he teased out increases in actual violence from increases in arrests and charges? Nope. Has he looked at whether violence overall is rising or static, and if so, is male violence rising as well (See also previous point)? No.

Has he mentioned that if you look at historical sources of milieux such as Victorian London and accounts of colonial Australia, the idea of women as gentle and delicate creatures who never threw a punch was somewhat class-based? No.

I went off in search of more information, because I thought that if the ABC had seen fit to publish an article about Dr Forster pronouncing on women and violence, it must be that Dr Forster and/or his department had come up with some ground breaking research, perhaps resulting in a report or peer-reviewed paper which we could read.

Apparently not. In fact, my usually effective google-fu hasn’t unearthed any publications or reports put out by Dr Forster on women, violence, or women-and-violence at all. So what’s he got?

…(P)eople were now looking at other contributing factors, particularly at social and cultural factors such as the effects of several decades of feminism which have largely removed the expectation that women would behave differently to men, and, more recently, the binge-drinking culture among young people, for the rapid rise in female violence.

“Studies have shown that at the age of 14, girls were just as likely as boys to be involved in fights, threats and stealing,” he said.

“This is supported by studies at the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, where they have found similar rates of binge drinking by men and women, and women are also catching up in the use of illicit drugs, and these behaviours are linked with aggression.

“People” are looking at contributing factors. “Studies” have shown. I’ve seen undergraduate essays, let alone blogs, with more demonstrated evidence – and active verbs – than that. Well, there is a citation of sorts, the AIHW, which does exist, although would it kill him to point to the studies themselves? And there doesn’t appear to be anything to do with women and violence, but women and “behaviours (which) are linked with aggression.” Right! Men binge drink and set women on fire and king-hit other men on King street, while women binge drink and “get themselves” raped. See, equal!

The only actual piece of work done within the walls of Charles Darwin University that he seems to be able to point to is a study of road rage by his colleague Mary Morris.

“The research by Dr Morris has clearly shown that, in such aspects of road rage as aggressive gestures, sounding their horn at another driver and verbal abuse, there is no significant difference between male and female drivers. There used to be differences, but not any more,” Dr Forster said.

Road rage covers a continuum up to and including stabbing, shooting, thumping and running over people, so I don’t see that an increase in female horn-sounding and verbal abuse is very useful evidence of an epidemic of violent femmes. I haven’t been able to find Dr Morris’s study either, but I’ll take his word that it exists, so that’s one more on the topic than I’ve been able to find for Forster. It’s ironic that given that the subject is the evil power of feminism, he took her work and ran with it as “Expert Warns”.

Dr Forster hasn’t even begun to demonstrate any link between feminism and violence.

I have no idea why this should have been put out as a media release by CDU and why it should have been news, but unfortunately it’s one more brick in the wall of the bullshit “Feminism gone wrong” story that the media is hellbent on giving us, no matter how dodgy the source might be.

9 Jun 2010, Comments (9)

Gets me where I Live

Author: Helen

The boy and I are at home with colds and I’m enjoying the quiet. Outside our northern windows, on the other side of the board fence, is a strip of spotted gum, buloke, melaleuca and ironbark. Beyond that is a stretch of grass dotted with eucalypts which slopes down to a creek, which is hidden from here, and the far slope which is also half covered with eucalypts.

You may be confused if you’ve had the impression that I live in the inner city. Have I moved? Do I live on a property somewhere in the country? There are no sheep, cows or horses on the grassy paddock; a man comes every month with a ride on mower to keep the grass down. Am I some millionaire landowner?

No – I’m about 8 ks from the city centre, as the crow flies. I’m lucky enough to live in the last house on the end of a street which abuts on one of Melbourne’s linear parks, resurrected and revegetated from an old bluestone quarry in the 1970s and 80s. If I’m standing at the kitchen sink, I can just barely make out a house or two and the corner of a car park on the opposite side. If I’m sitting down, I might as well be somewhere in Gippsland.

Well, what are you hanging around here for?

The Down Under Feminist Carnival is having its 25th anniversary, hosted by Rachel Hills of Musings of an Inappropriate Woman.

Inaugural Downunder Carnival of feminism

Next month’s DUFC is hosted by A Shiny new Coin. Send your favourite posts from the Internuts here, or email them to shinynewcoin at gmail dot com.

Here’s two bonus links: A thoughtful response to the burqa post by That’s So Pants, and the wonderful Werner Herzog Reads Madeline (H/T Tigtog).

Update – Important – please, everybody, sign up to this before the next election. Also via Tigtog.