Archives: March 2013

…was all the bear could see.

Actually, that song and this one have had equal earworm status since I saw Suzannah Espie play at Port Fairy with the wonderful Liz Stringer and Chris Altman (who wrote Other Side Of the Mountain).

By some kind of coincidence, after returning from three days happily soaking up the goodness at Port Fairy, I’ve been sucked into joining the Lucilles, an alt country outfit featuring Tess McKenna on guitar and the voices of Nina Rousseau and Rosie Gannon.

That will be in addition to Tess McKenna’s own band the Shapiros which will still be getting the occasional outing through the year. That should be fun!

Light blogging appears unlikely to change anytime soon.

… that it’s possible to care about more than one thing at the same time, without having to explain it to other feminists, too.

Destroy the Joint image

The title of this post was swiped with permission from Orlando, commenting on this post, by Mindy on Hoyden about Town, on Helen Razer’s popular article Destroy the Joint misses the point.

I am weary, so very very weary, of reading “Where are the Feminists” type articles where the topic is anything “feminists” are failing to write about this week. In some cases, this is taken to be proof that feminists do not care about the Thing that should be written about, or they excuse the Thing due to their excessive PC-ness. The fact that we might be unpaid feminists blogging in the cracks between work and family and real-life activities (which might include activism, personal or family illness, or a million other things) isn’t an excuse for our failure. Because the world is absolutely chock full of Terrible Things, and feminism is fighting many systemic problems on lots of fronts, it’s inevitable that we will often write about things other than the Thing which should be written about. Proof positive that we are horrible.

Helen Razer, a celebrity opinion writer with something of a media megaphone, has decreed that

Feminism is the struggle against masculinsed violence and feminised poverty. Or, the acknowledgement that physical violence is enacted disproportionately by men and poverty is experienced disproportionately by women. That’s it, really.

Just to mention the article by Jenna Price of DtJ she’s describing as “twaddle”: Razer wastes quite a few pixels claiming Price is claiming women in power will be nicer, which is indeed a horrible old relic of the Victorian “Angel in the house” image still held by some well meaning people. Reading Price’s article, she says no such thing. She does, however, point out that women are still underrepresented in power networks generally and are hived off into “life and style” media ghettos which are deemed suitable for our overheated ladybrains. Not earth shatteringly new information, but I don’t see how Razer can dismiss this as “twaddle” or trivial.

I had thought that feminist writers and bloggers do write quite a lot about masculinised violence and feminised poverty. I also get the impression that Razer, who has made this complaint more than once, doesn’t write much about these topics at all, preferring to write articles about how much other feminists suck.

In her article about Lingerie Football (Again, aren’t modern feminists pathetic, etc) she missed the opportunity to write about how that “sporting code” demonstrated exactly how feminised poverty works by writing about their very different treatment, in terms of pay and conditions, health and safety etcetera, compared to male footballers. She left it to other bloggers to pick that up.

Google searches on “”Helen Razer” violence” and “Helen Razer” poverty” have so far failed to locate any articles or blog posts specifically on these topics. Come on, Helen; you can’t criticise other people in at least three articles for not focusing on the big issues without writing about them yourself. Go on. Hit us with your best shot.

To be fair to Razer, and to get back to the general topic of this rant, this attitude is not unique to her. I wish I had a dollar for every Tumblr social justice blogger who has blasted “feminists” for not writing about the Terrible Thing which she has decided is the Thing which must be written about du jour. Next thing you know she’s posting about nail art or some favourite food. (This is perfectly OK by me, by the way – I’m not the one wanting to make a huge deal out of blogging/not blogging any given topic. But consistency, y’know.)

This has percolated into academe, with Swati Parashar’s Drum article on the failure of local feminists to blog about the gang rape in Delhi. Clearly, this meant we did not care, or even excused it because of our excessive pee-cee.

Razer’s broadside included a Twitter hashtag, #DestroyThePoint, which portrayed the DtJ group as a bunch of airheads making hilarious non-sequiturs. Now any large facebook group will naturally have a few airheads in it, but I don’t think DtJ was a particularly terrible offender.
Moreover, I think feminist writing over the last few years has effectively put to bed the notion that the treatment of women in the media and everyday life is somehow separate to the Big Questions of Power and Money. Sexism is the notion that men are the default humans and women are the other, the sex class, less serious. It’s all linked. As Tigtog says in a comment on Mindy’s post, “it strikes me as a crucial omission to overlook the role of microaggressions and double standards in perpetuating masculinised violence and feminised poverty.”

These things are connected with veins and nerves and connective tissue. Try to cut them apart and you’ll be left with a bleeding mess. And that’s what I see when I look at things like the Razer article.

Razer has a schtick, and it’s being the Cool Girl of Australian feminism, scolding other feminists for sweating all that small stuff which is small, and neglecting to focus 100% on the Terrible Things (about which she doesn’t write much herself). #DestroyThePoint and other snarky tweets were greeted with You Go Girls! and Woohoos! (a description, not a verbatim quote) from numerous male media figures with recognisable names. Cool girls, of course, don’t call people on their day-to-day shit, they keep their powder dry for the Terrible Things, so they make men feel so much more relaxed and comfortable. People who think #EverydaySexism might feed directly into the big issues are so irritating and boring and serious. No, wait – they’re not serious enough, because they’re not off writing articles about masculinised violence and feminised poverty? Are you completely confused now?

When the “How much Other Feminists Suck” topic has become a subset of feminist writing in itself, it’s time to ask how valuable adding another dead cat to that pile has become. If your criticism is that feminists aren’t writing about the important topics you have chosen, guess what?

It’s time to go off, sit down and write some articles on those topics.

More from Monica Seeber and Jennifer Wilson.
Crossposted at Hoyden About Town

When our vet was looking Ollie over and taking blood samples to try and find out what his mystery malaise was all about, she suggested we test him to see how his eyesight was going. Her preferred method was to place various obstacles between him and his food bowl at feeding time.

He passed this test without tripping over anything but I noticed he was slowing down and sussing out the shoes, boxes and what have you with his nose.

I put his leash on and took him out into the park. Since his odd behaviour started, I noticed he still walked really well on the leash. Extra well. No pulling or zigging or zagging. Staying close to the person walking him.

I took off across the lawn and steered him towards a small branch lying on the grass.

He tripped right over it.


He can’t see.

His eyes are as brown and clear as ever, but something must have gone wrong with the retina. According to Dr Google, he could have an adrenal or hormonal condition or… something. There will be more trips to the vet to make sure he doesn’t have something systemically wrong like that.

It becomes clear now: the slow walking, the caution, pausing for minutes before he jumps off anything, standing as if staring into space. And much happier on the leash, of course.

He’s pretty good on his own turf – he can still clear the couch in two bounds and bustle out and down the deck steps to give some strange dog what for for daring to walk too close to his fence. But when he’s outside, if we’re not careful, he does walk straight into things – Doink.

Ironically, a charity collector for seeing eye puppy trainers rang me the other day. We’ll be Ollie’s seeing eye humans.

This isn’t false advertising. I scheduled it for Friday, honest. I don’t know what happened.

Maggie was responding really well to her treatment. Supervet has been really pleased with her. Therefore, we were ripe for Murphy’s Law to take effect. Something else had to go wrong.

Maggie and Ollie on the back deck. Maggie is a black Kelpie cross and Ollie is a brown pugalier

Just after Christmas I noticed a change in Ollie. That dog loved to run… and run and run. And he was fast. His favourite thing was to play chasing games with bigger, athletic dogs like weimaraners or boxers. It was lovely to watch him run and it totally cracked up the bigger dogs’ owners to see this little dog chase theirs all over the landscape.

He didn’t run any more. He lost interest completely in playing games with the other dogs and he was having trouble even keeping up on our walks. I’d look back and see him on the path a long way behind, toddling sedately like an elderly gentleman taking his daily constitutional.

Had he just suddenly clicked into middle-aged mode? He’s eight. It suddenly occurred to me the change in behaviour could be a sign of heart failure. We were still in the limbo period between Christmas and new year, so I took him to the Lort Smith, our year-round emergency animal hospital. His coat was as bright and soft as usual, his tongue was pink and healthy, his eyes were bright and clear, and hanging out on a leash in the Lort Smith clinic there was nothing visible to justify his presence there at all. With other dogs coming in with hernias like basketballs and bites and poisoning, he never made it through triage, and after a few hours I had to take him away. But there was a triage nurse who listened to his heart and took his temperature. Ollie had no heart murmur and no temperature. I wished he had shown a temperature so I could know that this thing, whatever it was, had a beginning and an end. I was casting around for explanations. Had he eaten some chocolate santas on Christmas day? Why was he so flat?

Off to the regular vet in the new year: Ollie had a comprehensive blood test which showed that all his organs were in superb working order. But this wasn’t the Ollie we used to know.

After a few more weeks and close observation, we know what’s wrong with Ollie now. Have you guessed it already?

Ollie sleeping on the couch

(Cuteness factor still off the charts)

The theme for this year’s IWD, according to this web page, is The Gender Agenda: Gaining Momentum, but according to the UN it’s “A promise is a promise: Time for action to end violence against women”. Confusing, but no matter – both themes are important and necessary.

I recommend this TomDispatch essay by Rebecca Solnit (with an introduction by Erika Eichelberger). It’s a comprehensive, shocking overview of just some of the cases of violence against women in recent times. It’s also the best article I’ve seen in a long time, just as a general overview of what women are up against. Do read the whole thing, as a much better contribution than I could possibly make on the subject of feminism and violence against women.

The feminist blogosphere still skews to the US a great deal. Unlike the US, we haven’t had the VAWA act to debate, but with the death of Jill Meagher and other cases the debate (and sadly it’s still a debate) about rape and violence has been given a new momentum in Australia.

I’ve been happy to see new Gen-Y feminist organisations spring up, enabled by Facebook and Twitter: Destroy the Joint, the Everyday Sexism project and Melbourne Feminist Action, as well as (mainly in the US I think) the Atheism+ movement. I’ve been delighted to see my own new-minted adult daughter and niece become active themselves. I haven’t been so happy to see the attempts by older writers, as well as antifeminists, to tear them down. Yes, they’ll reinvent some wheels, they’ll make mistakes, but things like the #DestroyThePoint hashtag are just smallminded and point-missing in themselves, I think.

It’s so easy to be pessimistic, seeing the old arguments deployed again and again by the antifeminist and MRA element, as well as people commenting on the media who simply haven’t done the homework and refuse to do so. But 2012 was a year where I definitely got the impression that we were making some progress on rape culture, namely, turning it onto the rapists instead of the time-honoured focus on the raped woman. There’s a ray of optimism there: it looks like the point is finally getting across. When the young physiotherapy student was raped and murdered on a bus in Delhi, old and young people took to the streets with clear messages placing the responsibility on men who rape. Meanwhile, back at home, the high profile of the Jill Meagher case was an opportunity to educate the Australian media on this point. If I ever have a granddaughter, my wish for her would be that she’d see rape culture as a pathetic historical detail of our 20th- and-early-21st century culture. For the first time in quite a few years I think this is gaining traction.

Dreamin’? Maybe. Anyway, thank you, young feminists, and the older ones as well.