Tags: julia gillard

31 Oct 2007, Comments Off on Joining the Liberal party: Is it a perversion?

Joining the Liberal party: Is it a perversion?

Author: Helen

My brother rang me last night foaming about a piece he’d seen in the Sunday paper about Pastor Peter Curtis, Federal Liberal candidate for Lalor. That’s Julia Gillard’s seat, so this affable Barney Rubble lookalike hasn’t a hope in hell, pardon the expression, Pastor. My brother’s upset because the northern suburbs are kind of a spiritual home to him, and he’s looking to move back there soon – Preston or Thornbury. [Update: He’s safe, because as a kindly commenter on Road to Surfdom pointed out, the suburb of Lalor and the seat of Lalor are two different pancakes, and the seat of Lalor is a bit further south and to the west. Phew.]

It was interesting to put a face to the name, because he’s a prolific nutter who’s been getting letters published in the AGE letters page year after year, espousing wonderful Christian values like rabid homophobia, returning Australia to its rightful place in the 1950s and hearty Howard-hugging. The first and last item may seem like a contradiction, but this man contains multitudes.

FEDERAL Liberal candidate Pastor Peter Curtis says homosexuality is a perversion and that gay men die from disease at many times the rate of heterosexuals.


Standing for the second time as the Liberals’ candidate in the safe Labor seat of Lalor against Labor’s deputy leader Julia Gillard, Mr Curtis said he was still hoping gays and lesbians would vote for him.

Rightyo. Good luck with that.

But be not smug, heteros; he shall make thy offspring study questionable DVDs from Discovery and crap published by Answers in Genesis, or similar…

He said that, if elected, he would be urging the Liberal Party to introduce intelligent design to state school science classes. Intelligent design is an assertion that certain features of the universe and living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, and not by natural selection.

“I would be very much in favour of intelligent design being taught in public schools,” Mr Curtis said. “Just as the theory of evolution is taught as well — in my view regrettably taught in science classes, because I think it’s a theory and not a science.”

What is it about the no-talent bums the Liberals are putting up in the Labor held seats, my brother moaned. He would like to know whether
(a) that’s all the talent the Liberal party grass roots has to offer
(b) it’s a deliberate insult to the citizens in safe seats who they know are going to vote Labor anyway?

As you can imagine, I could only nod and commiserate with him, but I have no real explanation of the phenomenon, except that Mr Curtis’s candidacy fits the current Liberal love affair with US-style Christian wingnuts, as exemplified by Danny Nalliah, the fun crowd at Hillsong, Tony Abbot’s friend George and of course the Exclusive Brethren.

It may be that a US-style Christian Right may never take off in Australia, but at the moment they’re getting wayyy too much encouragement.
Crossposted at Road to Surfdom

24 Jan 2007, Comments Off on Just poppin’ out the Progeny

Just poppin’ out the Progeny

Author: Helen

After Julia Gillard’s intriguing comments on combining work and motherhood, as opposed to fatherhood, as society is currently constituted, the Fairfax deadtree papers I read naturally put something in their Opinion page about it. Since the article the AGE printed by Sharan Burrow was too boringly practical and sensible,

We must reform our workforce with family-friendly measures. Periods of permanent part-time work, extended parental leave and affordable child care are essential. Government and employers as well as families will reap the economic and social benefit of such a model offered — if they just had the courage and desire to do so.

and – as we know – balance is so important in the media today, it was necessary to find something batty and flecked with spittle to really add some spice to the debate.

Prejudices are difficult to kill” is the title of the article by Gabriella Coslovich, and it really storms the bastion of prejudice, yes it does. Shorter Coslovich: I’m sick of people banging on about mothers having problems getting higher positions. I’m here to tell you we single women have it much, much worse. These people with kids get everything given to them and they’re never satisfied! Take that, you ignorant, selfish breeders! Yes, by cracky, this article is about opposing prejudice all right!

I don’t begrudge them their baby bonuses or their exalted status with the nation’s leaders who are constantly stroking their egos and chasing their votes….

Because of course, as you all know, motherhood’s just a cornucopia of money and opportunity.

…if becoming a parent is so damn humbling, why do the Mark Vailes, Mary Lous and Marees of this world constantly feel the need to assert the pre-eminence of their life experiences?

Why does Coslovich assume all the assholes in the world are those with kids? Hasn’t she ever met an up-herself childfree person asserting the pre-eminence of her life experience? How fortunate for her. I don’t like society’s attitude to single and childfree women either, and it’s definitely a feminist issue. But that doesn’t mean taking all the hate and suspicion historically loaded onto “spinsters” and tipping it all over mothers. Hey, I know – maybe we could get a… goat, or something, and tip it all over her, and… you know…

Gabriella is really excercised about Mark Vaile’s comments (and he wasn’t the only one) that parenthood could actually bring marketable skills to your working life. My objection to Vaile is that he was speaking from the point of view of the parent to whom child care and unpaid work probably wasn’t a large factor. But I thought it was nice that a few people pointed out that, yes, it is a job, and yes, it might improve skills such as multitasking and people wrangling (e.g. not throwing up when some Honourable Member makes the kind of remark usually heard at 11 AM recess). But Coslovich won’t have a bar of it. Mums and Dads are all worshipped, I tell you, worshipped! And now they want a crack at the good jobs as well. Is there any end to their greed and rapacity?

[Childfree women] may have long desired to have children, but been [sic] with the wrong man at the right time, or the right man at the wrong time.

The reasons are many and varied — but surely in this day it is accepted that many women do not make it their sole goal in life to find a man, get hitched and start popping out progeny — yes, they have careers as well, they want to be challenged and stimulated, to use their brains and talents and creativity, even at the risk of being called “blokes with vaginas”.

Yes, but I’m not sure how the hatin’ on women with children helps Gabriella with her problem – unless the “blokes with vaginas” comment is equivalent to Echidne’s “women who have drunk patriarchy’s KoolAid“.

The problem for the women who have drunk patriarchy’s KoolAid has always been the schizophrenia of looking down on all women yet being one of that despised species. How to solve this dilemma? The obvious solution is to ask for an exemption: Though women are headless hens cackling away and good-for-nothing but taking care of children (funnily enough, the Most Important Job in other conservative contexts, yet something that can be trusted to cackling hens), the woman stating these opinions is NOT a cackling hen. In fact, she is not a woman at all, but a miniature version of the Calm and Always Logical Great Man.

That’s how this article comes across. I’m not sure if she completely meant it that way. Her calling of bullshit on society’s treatment of single women is quite right, but it wasn’t the point of the Julia debate. It was about work-life balance for parents, which – despite Coslovich’s claim they’re the government’s darlings – we still don’t have. And sorry, but we still have the right to talk about it.

19 Jan 2007, Comments Off on Julia, Julia, Julia

Julia, Julia, Julia

Author: Helen

I came late to Kill Bill. I missed it, and the sequel Kill Bill 2, when they came out, because I don’t generally do action flicks and fight scenes usually bore me into catatonia. When I got around to watching it, I was entranced. WHY HAD NO-ONE TOLD ME? Both movies are side-splittingly, sublimely silly (even if you have to watch some bits through your fingers) and the soundtrack is fabulous.

I’m sure Julia Gillard has seen both, and I feel she’s taken the message in Kill Bill 2 a little too much to heart. I mean the bit where Bea Kiddo / The Bride discovers she’s pregnant, and the thought-balloon voiceover muses (I’m paraphrasing this from memory) “As soon as I saw that blue line, I realised my career as a cold-blooded and ruthless chopper-offer of various peoples’ body parts would have to end”.

Quite right too. I don’t think “assassin” is an appropriate job description for a parent of either gender. If nothing else, think of the grief you’d get once the kinder and school committees found out. But Julia Gillard has been reported as saying that any woman who sees that blue line on her pregnancy test kit should also relinquish any thought of gaining the PM-ship. The field should be left clear for people able to give the job the proper attention, that is, people like (ahem) herself.

Beatrix realised too late that if she hadn’t been full of maternal guilt, she would never have bought young GoGo that customised meteor hammer with retractable blades.

This statement only stands up if you agree with the proposition that a woman’s partner will never be willing or able to be the primary parent (and I’m only dealing with women partnered by men, which I realise is only part of the story). This flows from an essentialist view of parents which says that only the woman can be the primary parent, because only women have that special child-rearing mojo. Which is demonstrably false. Although they’re still in a minority, the number of men who are primary parents is increasing all the time.

Not to mention the elements of social and governmental support that could be available if the political will was there.

Not to mention, also, the fact that we are living longer than ever before, and having fewer kids. Even if you did want to be the primary parent, why should someone be denied the top job for ever because of a single phase in what is, these days, a very long life? Please note, I’m not saying every woman has the responsibility to strive to get to the top for the sisterhood. Some people, like me, are quite happy pottering around the foothills of achievement so that they can do interesting things on the side, like blogging. But it’s not good enough to claim that it’s OK for a family man to be in politics but not a family woman. Even some male Liberal party apparatchiks recognise that, even if they generally assign a low priority to changing the social fabric.

I suppose it’s an advance of sorts that we’re no longer thinking “Pregnant, must give up paid work forever”, but if we just swap that for “Pregnant, must give up all ideas of going for anything super-challenging or to do with the blokey world of power and stick to the female-dominated jobs”, then we’re not quite there, I think.

All these arguments aside, I’m not in the least sure that Julia really said what the tabloids so gleefully reported and which numerous mouth breathers, as usual, jumped in to endorse (I’m looking at you, Benjamin of Newcastle). If you read what was reported here and here, it does appear that the news media played a bit fast and loose quoting her and she was, in fact, pointing out that it would be impossible for John Howard or Peter Costello to have succeeded as women (horrible thought), given that things are as they are. It is not an apologia for keeping things as they are.

At least, I hope that’s what she meant. The alternative is that she’s one of these people who genuinely believe that women who want careers shouldn’t have children, so that they can pass for a kind of honorary bloke in corporate- or political-land. That is not a twenty first century solution. It’s a nineteenth century one.