Archives: December 2010

15 Dec 2010, Comments (0)

Down Under Feminist Carnival #31

Author: Helen

Downunder Feminist Carnival

DUFC #31: Brought to you by Tigtog, so you know it’s good!

Yes, as if you needed another post on Wikileaks and Julian Assange. If the internet had weight it would have collapsed. The whole thing is intermittently exhilarating, but on balance, unspeakably depressing. All the usual dead horses have been flogged back to life and given another run around the track, including in comment threads at a group blog which I frequent. Dead horses like:

-Unless you are have been raped in the socially approved manner, that is, jumped on by a stranger out on a dark night, your allegations of rape or sexual assault must be false, and in this case, must be some kind of deliberate “honeytrap”.

-Discussing “womens issues” like these is diverting attention from the really important things. Will women please stop spoiling everything all the time! *tosses toys out of pram*.

There are two forces at play here which I don’t trust. One is what one commenter described as the “secular canonisation” of Assange. He’s Che! He’s Ned Kelly! He’s… he’s… Jesus! The T shirts are being printed! And the quasi-biblical narrative of betrayal by the Female just go along with the whole excellent adventure.

One writer after another has tried to explain that it’s possible for someone to do useful and effective activist work and be guilty of sexual assault (not pre-empting the court case, just trying to counter the popular notion that a folk hero can’t be guilty) and that one does not necessarily negate the other.

Intelligent people should be able to hold more than one thought in their head at once. The point of this piece, once again, was NOT to speculate on whether Assange did or did not commit a crime — it’s to point out that the media narrative around this story has quickly become depressingly similar to every other media narrative around rape and alleged rape. (That is to say, ugly and victim-blaming.)

Largely, these arguments have fallen on deaf ears. Or eyes. Because Assange is a hero, he can’t possibly have done anything wrong. I’m not the only person who finds this cult of personality a big turnoff.

Living Colour – Cult Of Personality

Because – and this another thing which gives me pause – when the media says that Wikileaks is a fine piece of activism by “the left” and that any subgroup, like women, should shut up and keep quiet about anything negative, because, you know, ruining it for everyone – well, that is all of a piece with the fact that the widespread and active cyberactivist groups, 4chan and its spinoff group Anonymous, are Assange’s defenders, his cyberarmy if you will. And if you identify as feminist, 4chan are no friends of yours. Try googling “4chan” and “women”. While their leader eschews anything so crude, he is also capable, at the turn of the Twentieth century, of writing a sentence like “(For) man to do anything intelligent he has to know what’s actually going on.” The technical skill is cutting-edge, the social consciousness (and thus the will to social justice) is early last century. The massed forces of 4chan and other romantic admirers don’t have any investment in seeing women as human, at all. And Assange might be a romantic hero, but he has no actual control over an “army” of pimply-faced admirers who are prone to statements like “Rule number one of the internet is you don’t piss off 4chan” and “make me a goddamn sandwich”. As Mark B says, “Where is a truly alternative politics? It’s not that of 4Chan or Anonymous.” Or, as my dear old apple-cheeked Grandma used to say, “with friends like those, who needs enemas?”

Problem number two: We think we’re on the same side at first glance, but Wikileaks is aiming to fight top-down government power (by an attack on secrecy) – seeing horizontal layers, if you like. Feminists and anti-racists and others are fighting pervasive power which comes from privilege and which exists at all levels. Seeing vertical slices of power, you might say. (Or once you add the idea of intersectionality, it’s more venn diagrams of overlapping power systems.) Whoa, I am straying into the realm of Theory in which I am unedumacated, but more simply – what’s the outcome of this Excellent Adventure? When we talk about change, some of us don’t seem to want much change, just to unseat the people on top of them. If you know what I mean.

So, Mr Assange, I hope Geoffrey Robertson does you proud and that you do indeed get the full benefit of due process. I hope your two accusers do likewise. And I’m sorry this joy-killing feminist can’t bring herself to think of you as a superhero who cannot possibly do wrong. Women a bit older than me went all starry-eyed and handmaidenish about ultra-charismatic male activists in the 60s, and look how far it got them.

3 Dec 2010, Comments (12)

Hurrah for Commonsense!

Author: Helen

It’s not often that you see an office worker pin up a newspaper article in her office in close proximity to the door, so that no-one walking in could fail to see it.

Hurrah for Ted!

DON’T let political correctness ruin Christmas, Ted Baillieu has warned schools and other community groups.
The Premier said Victorians should embrace the festive season.
He said schools should not back down from running Christmas pageants, concerts and nativity scenes for fear of offending minority groups.
“A Baillieu government expects school principals to take a reasonable and commonsense approach so all Victorian children have the opportunity to enjoy the simple pleasures of Christmas,” he said.
The warning comes after some schools and community groups imposed Christmas bans in recent years.

Ah, “some schools and community groups”. Could some journo – I suppose it’s too much to hope for a Hun journo, but could someone with journalistic credentials please do an in-depth investigation to find out just how many schools and community groups are actively forbidding expressions of Christmas cheer? I suspect the answer might be “very few”, or “hardly any” or “really could not find any examples of Christmas festivities being forbidden as such, just an overwhelming meh-ness about the whole rampant sentimentality and consumerism thing”, but that might crimp the annual Festival of “Let’s Whine about Political Correctness”, or Boltmastide. In short, we have no way of knowing how much of this urban myth is true and how much is invented out of whole cloth, but Baillieu is getting unlimited traction by fixing this non-problem. So important, we’re told, is the Attack on Christmas that the editorial was written about it. “Premier’s Xmas gift to children!” “…Nativity scenes and children singing carols and exchanging cards could once again be part of Christmas celebrations at Victorian schools.” Funny, that, because carols and cards and all that malarkey have never ceased at this end of town.

Anyway, I am guessing our cube jockey, like the Hun commenters, swallowed this annual Boltmas legend whole and had the article displayed so that the exceedingly diverse collection of people who had to visit her office would have their unchristian noses jolly well rubbed in this happy news.

Can we please examine this earth-shattering rescue of Australian culture for a moment, because like most sweeping statements made by Liberals, it contains a pretty illiberal undercurrent. If the new Premier now says that organisations will no longer be allowed to ban tinsel and Santas and Bethlehem dioramas, does it follow – as it surely must – that such displays are now compulsory? Will legislation brought in, and how does that reconcile with the separation of Church and State (if the Federal government’s obsession with funding chaplains and Religious Ed and faith-based private schools hasn’t destroyed it already?) Or will dissenters simply be subtly monstered, like the one example they did find – some Public service wretch who has now been “counselled”?

I have, really, as a person whose mother was a staunch Anglican for many decades, tried my best to think how I might feel if I was a practicing Christian faced with the cancellation of my kid’s school’s nativity play in favour of some other kind of end of year celebration. As church and community groups regularly put on Carols by Candlelight and other celebrations, I hardly think I could claim that had destroyed my ability to celebrate my religious holiday in the way I see fit; just not in that particular place. I might even feel that religious belief and religious festivals are part of the private sphere. Sure, I could imagine I might be a bit pissed off if I was really keen on the whole thing, but I don’t think they would be nearly as pissed off as I am at having my taxes spent on chaplains, RE, and faith-based private schools. You gunna do something about that, Ted? Thought not.

Poster for Tess McKenna, Union Hotel, Saturday December 4 8:30

Tess McKenna and the SHAPIROS play two sets for your listening pleasure at the Union Hotel, Union street, Brunswick, at 8:30 on Saturday December 4.


Tess’s latest CD The New Everything is available now from Head Records or superior music purveyors.

In stunning vocal form Tess McKenna steps up as producer-singer-songwriter of her enticing album #4, The New Everything.

Barefaced folk and dirty bang bang blues to sonic rock overdrive McKenna’s sultry voice pulls you into a thrilling musical journey. Listen to her incredible sweetly styled vocals on the title track, through to hints of country pop on Photograph and new folk twists in Poncho Style; this style is pure Tess. Authentic, soulful and intimate.

Just in time for your Xmas shoppingz!

Sadly (for me), I’m not playing on this one, because I rejoined after it was recorded.

The CD launch is delayed until February – watch this space.