Category Archives: Sexism

What the fuck, Australia?

This post discusses domestic violence.

And contains swearing.

Lots of swearing.

In the last few months, the racism and sexism and misogyny and vileness in our society have all come to the surface like a nasty boil:

Australia, this is you right now. If you think this is gross, imagine all the images I looked at to find it. Image: Mental bleach

Australia, this is you right now. If this grosses you out, imagine what I saw while looking for it. Image: Mental bleach

First it was racism, with a 13-year-old girl calling AFL player Adam Goodes an ape, then Eddie McGuire’s King Kong comments. And all those videos of people being arseholes on public transport. And today, more racist dickheads at an NRL game.

Then there’s the menu at Mal Brough’s fundraiser, and Socceroos coach Holger Osieck saying women should shut up in public. His apology was just a clusterfuck of wrong. Someone should tell him, in small words so his little brain can understand, that telling your wife to shut up, and saying “I’m still pretty happy with my wife so everything is fine”, doesn’t actually indicate “a lot of respect for women”. Sort of the opposite, really.

And there’s the bunch of idiots in the armed forces calling themselves the “Jedi Council” (what, are they 13 years old?). And Howard Sattler’s disgraceful questioning of the Prime Minister, and Piers Akerman repeating it all on ABC tv.

And we have News Ltd reporting that a 15-year-old girl has attempted suicide and the geniuses there put the story in the GLOBAL GOSSIP section (I’m not linking to it). She’s a child, they shouldn’t be reporting it in the first place. For fuck’s sake, what the hell is wrong with people?

Then we have the decision by The Mirror to publish a fucking NINE image photo gallery of Charles Saatchi assaulting Nigella Lawson. In Australia, News Ltd and Fairfax both republished the images, thereby furthering her distress. Hopefully I’m not doing the same by writing about the appalling coverage. Dailytelegraph.com.au and News.com.au even went with a cutesy headline calling him “hubbie”. Didn’t ANYONE in those newsrooms say “hey, we’re just hurting her more if we publish the images”? Are their brains just painted onto the inside of their skulls?

This morning 3AW radio host Dee Dee Dunleavy called for a boycott of Nigella Lawson’s products unless she takes a stand against domestic violence. What. The. Actual. Fuck? By the afternoon she’d issued a clarification, saying she wasn’t calling for a boycott. But what else does “If you want us to buy your books and watch your shows on how to run our kitchens, then we need you to make a stand on domestic violence” mean, other than to say we’re not going to buy your stuff unless you do what we want, aka a boycott. And then issuing a clarification instead of an apology, which should have said “I didn’t realise that’s what I was saying but that’s what those words mean and I should never have put pressure on a domestic violence victim to be a public spokesperson and I am so very very sorry for what I said and I apologise to everyone”.

It never ceases to amaze me that people who use words for a living think so little about those words. Another example is the wording of the link to the images in Dunleavy’s post:

Distressing to some people, but not a thought has gone in to how distressing it is for Nigella Lawson.

Dunleavy’s warning misses the point.

Trigger warnings are good. Shame there was a complete lack of thought for how distressing it might be to have the photos republished around the world.

Just because she is famous, doesn’t mean she “owes” us to be a spokesperson. In fact, at the moment we owe her. We owe her because we gawked at the photos. We owe her because all of the reporting is about her and not about Saatchi, just like it always is when Australian journalists report violence against women. We owe her because we’re writing opinion pieces and blog posts about her private hurt – this one included, and I don’t know how can I point at the coverage and yell THIS IS SO FUCKING WRONG without being just as bad as everyone else.

So. What do we do now? I don’t have any solutions but I do have a lot of swearing.

On the positive side, it’s a massive YES THE FUCK WE DO to everyone who says “Australia doesn’t have a racism and sexism problem”. It’s kinda hard to pretend it doesn’t exist now.

But on the negative side, I AM SO ANGRY AND I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO.

Let’s destroy the joint

Alan Jones must have been worried that Grahame Morris was going to get the top Ernie Award this year, because why else would he say – in response to Julia Gillard announcing aid to the Pacific to raise the status of women to help end domestic violence – that women in politics are “DESTROYING THE JOINT”? It’s purely about missing out on the Gold Ernie, and nothing to do with the two-year tanty that he and Tony Abbott have been having because they didn’t win the election. How embarrassing for them.

He’s got a point, though. These uppity women, you let them go to school and then they get involved in politics and then they don’t want to be hit and it’s POLITICAL CORRECTNESS GONE MAD and what’s a bloke to do? Sheesh.

Jones then repeated his suggestion that women in positions of power should be drowned: “There’s no chaff bag big enough for these people”. (By the way, he was made an Officer of the Order of Australia for his sports and charity work for children and young people. Does he know that Youth off the Streets and the Starlight Foundation help girl children as well as boy children? Has someone told him that girl children grow up to be These People?)

Thanks to Jane Caro, the hashtags #destroythejoint and #destroyingthejoint were all over twitter on the weekend. Instead of insulting the man who seems a little too comfortable with violence against women – in April he said that trying to stab your ex-girlfriend to death is just “Shakespearean“, plus, you know, saying that women should be drowned – everyone just took the piss out of his statement.

Check out these great posts:

Jill Tomlinson’s Destroy the Joint:

Some Tweeps expressed concern that the attention was feeding Alan Jones’ desire for publicity. I understand their concerns, but #destroythejoint was about laughing at Alan’s misogyny, showing solidarity through ridiculing the suggestion that women were out to #destroythejoint. It was an opportunity to respond for every woman who has received a put down comment that irrelevantly cites her gender.

Wendy Tuohy’s Witty Twitter women ‘destroy the joint’:

In the last 24 hours, women tweeters and their many male supporters have redeemed Twitter as a place where you can make a powerful political point without getting vicious or violently abusive.

It’s been such a deft but peaceful takedown, it’s enough to make you proud.

And Feminism and the power of social media at Crooked Fences:

Words that were meant to degrade and undermine women instead became a clarion call to action. The women of twitter became keyboard warriors of the best sort, using social media to mock (and dare I say it, destroy) one of the most arrogant and politically powerful voices of MSM.

If “destroying the joint” means laughing at one-trick-ponies like Alan Jones and ending the gender pay gap and ending gender discrimination in the workplace and in sport and ending violence against women, then I say FUCK YEAH GIVE ME LASERS!

lazer tits

An open letter to Mark Scott

Dear Mark Scott,
I’m sure you’re aware of what “Liberal strategist” Grahame Morris said to Linda Mottram on ABC702 this morning. But in case you missed it, here it is:

Linda Mottram: We saw Tony Abbott in this past week do that interview with Leigh Sales about the Roxby Downs mine issue and stumbled, and that was really quite poor. I was very struck, Grahame. Were you surprised that he didn’t handle that well?

Grahame Morris: Well, Leigh can be a real cow sometimes when she’s doing her interviews.

So, instead of answering the question about Abbott’s dud performance, Morris called a female journalist who was just doing her job, a cow.

He was back on the air shortly afterwards:

LM: Grahame, we’ve had a lot of sms’s and calls offended at your comments. Your response?

GM: [In a condescending tone] Poor little sensitive souls.

LM: You think that calling Leigh a cow is appropriate?

GM: No, no, I probably should have said ‘can be a tough interviewer when she wants to be’.

Wait. Probably?

LM: That’s what you would have said if it was a male interviewer, isn’t it?

GM: That’s silly. No, no, no, no, it’s a phrase that I have used a million times, you know, that somebody can be a real cow when they want to be.

Ah, I see. Because he’s called women cows “a million times” it means he’s not sexist. It’s good that someone who makes such an important contribution to public discussion is a regular guest on ABC radio and television.

GM: But [sighs] look, look, I apologise, it really should be something like, um, ‘having known most of the senior journalists, particularly the political journalists, over the last 30 years, there is a mixture there of people who can be tough, they can be straight up and down, they can be a mixture, they can be soft, and there’s no doubt Leigh at times can be tough’. That would have been a much better expression than being a cow at times.

I don’t know about you, Mark, but I’m not convinced that is an apology. (I’m also not convinced that Grahame Morris understands that radio isn’t print. When you tell a journalist to change your quote, everyone can hear it.)

I’m sure you remember that in April, Morris said people should be “kicking [Julia Gillard] to death”.

In case you missed it, Grahame Morris said people should kill the Prime Minister. In a violent way. Yet he’s a regular guest on the ABC. Why is that? And, since I’ve got you here, why wasn’t it reported by your newsroom? Telling people they should attack and kill a Prime Minister seems pretty newsworthy to me.

Anyhoo, you’ll notice from this tweet from SkyNews journalist David Speers that it’s the second time Morris has used this “oh, I always say that, it’s fine” excuse:

@David_Speers Grahame says it’s a phrase he has used in the past on different issues, but shouldn’t have on this occasion

Oh, well, since he says that lots of people should be kicked to death, that’s ok then.

Morris has also called Gillard “bitchy“. It’s not an insult he would use against a man. Shouldn’t the national broadcaster be looking for guests who are able to talk about politics in an intelligent manner, without using childish insults?

Now Mark, I’m willing to overlook the fact that the vast majority of guests on QandA and The Drum are current and current-until-recently-politicians whose only contribution to public discussion is to push the party line that we’ve already heard over and over again in the news.

I’m also willing to overlook the misogynist and racist comments that are regularly published on The Drum website. (We can talk about those later.)

But what I am not willing to overlook is the national platform given to a man who thinks that calling for violence against women, and calling women names, is an acceptable part of public discussion. Because when you continue to get Grahame Morris on as a guest, what you are telling Australian women and men is that you have no problem with what he says.

Four days ago, Julia Gillard said there were “misogynists and nutjobs on the internet“. She’s right. There’s loads of ‘em on here. They’re also, very clearly, on the ABC.

I look forward to your public statement saying that because of his misogynist, sexist and violent attitudes and language, Grahame Morris is no longer welcome on the ABC.

Yours sincerely,
Kim Powell
ABC watcher.

Slutty McSlut Sluts won’t find themselves husbands and then what will they do?

A Current Affair had a moral panic last night. Young women! Dressing like sluts! They won’t get husbands! Oh noes!

The segment is called “Girls on show”:

Aussie girls in their teens and on display. Young women exposing skin to get access to clubs and the growing trend that will shock parents.

(Note: there is no mention in the story of young women getting into clubs. The whole thing is “look at these sluts, they won’t find husbands dressed like that, but here’s close-up after close-up of their body parts for your perving pleasure”. And the reporter, Alison Piotrowski, mentions the “campaign to cover up” twice, without giving any info whatsoever about an actual campaign.)

You can see it on the ACA website. Be warned: it’s difficult to watch. Not because it’s shocking, but because it is so completely and utterly stupid.

The most disappointing part of the segment is Ita Buttrose. Oh Ita, when did you become June Dally-Watkins?:

Piotrowski: Ita says if young women are dressing like this to find a husband, then it just won’t work.

Buttrose: They might flirt with the tart, they might try have sex with the tart, but it’s often not the tart that they take home to meet their mother.

The faces of the young women are blurred, and the intro suggests they’re getting into clubs by showing some skin, so they’re underaged. How many 15, 16 and 17 year-olds do you reckon are looking for husbands? And I hardly think young women wear hotpants to meet the parents. Sure, as we get older we mock young people for many things – like their hair – but I’m pretty sure they understand situation-appropriate clothing.

But my favourite part of the segment is Charlotte Dawson unwittingly providing an excellent example of hypocrisy:

I hate to say it, but the girls actually selling themselves on the street are much more tastefully dressed than some of these young ladies.

Firstly, Ms Dawson, sex workers are not “selling themselves”. They sell a service, in the same way an osteopath sells a service, and a physiotherapist sells a service. Sex work is just one of the many professions in which you use your body for work. Much like an athlete. Or modelling, which is what Dawson did before hosting reality tv shows. If you actually bought someone when you bought sex, you’d get to keep them.

And secondly, young ladies? Oh, that’s right, because in 2012 a young woman’s only purpose is to act like a lady in order to trick a man into marrying her. Presumably, that man will be one of the many young men from the 1950s wandering around out there.

Oh, and thirdly, how are the outfits worn by the women in ACA’s moral panic any different to this dress you wore to the Logies last year, where – wardrobe malfunction my arse – you held your dress open to show your legs, while bending over to show your cleavage:

Charlotte Dawson at the 2011 Logies

Charlotte Dawson at the 2011 Logies. (Image: Getty Images, via Triple M)

Or this boobs-out promo photo? Or this promo photo in pants so tight you can’t sit down? Or when you went on national tv wearing only body paint and some feathers? People in glass houses shouldn’t get undressed with the lights on. Please note, I am not criticising Dawson for what’s she’s wearing. The photos are clearly a bit of fun, and I love a boobs-out photo as much as the next person. What I am criticising is the hypocrisy of her putting young women down for wearing the same clothes she wears.

Now, what other people do with their bodies is their business, and you know I don’t usually comment on this. But when you lecture young women about how the desire for fame makes them do silly things, and the only movement your face can do is blink, your message loses credibility. Do as I say, not as I do, right? [Update: I got into an argument on twitter with Dawson yesterday. Although 'argument' is the wrong word - she just repeatedly plugged her book and refused to address any of the criticism. But she did say that my comment about her face was easy and bitchy. And she's right. It is those things. Her face is none of my business. But I think my point is still valid: if you're going to lecture people about not doing silly things for fame, it's more credible if you're not doing silly things for fame.]

The thing is, their only “evidence” of Slutty McSlut Sluts is just a few groups of women, on what doesn’t even look like a cold night. The reporter, Alison Piotrowski – who, by the way, wears just a bowtie in a photo that makes her look topless for her work twitter account, so there’s some hypocrisy going on there, too – is in a light jacket. The other people on the street in the background are in light jackets. A lot of the “slutty” young women are in long sleeves or tights. It doesn’t look like a particularly cold night. And for all we know, the two girls in hotpants may have been on their way to a Lady Gaga-themed night. Hell, I went out the other night dressed as a vanity unit, and even if I wanted one, I certainly wouldn’t find a husband dressed like that.

Dawson then goes into “mothering, nurturing” mode, which the rest of us know as slut-shaming and victim-blaming mode:

You’d hope that the parents educate their daughters as to what the consequences of dressing up like this could be… Girls, have a great time, you know, dress how you want. Just be really really careful and know the risks you may take.

Is she talking about sexual assault? Because we’ve had that discussion many times: outfits don’t cause rape, rapists cause rape. Or is it still about husbands? Because, young women, you must remember that every single moment you are in public, every single outfit you wear, must be geared towards getting a husband. Even if you’re underaged.

The princess problem

It’s not often I pay attention to the NRL. I can count the number of times I’ve been on an NRL team website on one finger. Team sports, televised sports – hell, sports – just aren’t my thing.

But sometimes something NRL-related pops up on my ‘we need to talk about this’ radar. (I’d call it Kevin, but that now means ‘knowing you don’t have the numbers for a leadership challenge but doing it anyway to fuck over your colleagues’.)

So, we need to talk about the Northern Pride rugby league club. They’re based in Cairns and, according to their website, they’re a “feeder club” for the North Queensland Cowboys.

Specifically, we need to talk about the Northern Pride’s role in limiting the options available to girls in their local community.

Most teams in the NRL offer junior memberships for children – not girls, not boys, but children. But not the Northern Pride. There, children can be either a Pride Cub, or a Pride Princess.

But it gets worse. This is what boys get as part of their membership:
Pride Cubs Membership – $60
- Opportunity to run the team out to one (1) home game
- Opportunity to become a ball boy for the Northern Pride on home game days
- A Pride Cubs T-shirt, hat and boot bag
- A football, drink bottle, team poster, wristband, tattoos, stickers, draw magnet & balloons
- Member’s card with exclusive offers & benefits
- A personalized Pride Birthday Card signed by your favourite player
- Subscription to the Northern Pride’s “Pride Pulse” members e-newsletter
- Exclusive Members only team alert emailed every Tuesday
- Voting rights for the 2012 Members Player of the Year award

This is what girls get as part of their membership:
Pride Princess Membership – $60
- One (1) Cheerleading lesson & performance conducted by Awesome Cheerleaders
- Possibility for you to become part of the Northern Pride mini cheersquad “The Pride Princesses” and perform at Pride home games in 2012 **Conditions and additional costs apply
- Two (2) Pom Poms
- A Pride Princess T-shirt and cap
- A Pride drink bottle, team poster, wristband, tattoos, stickers, draw magnet & balloons
- Member’s card with exclusive offers & benefits
- A personalized Pride Birthday Card from signed by your favourite player
- Subscription to the Northern Pride’s “Pride Pulse” members e-newsletter
- Exclusive Members only team alert emailed every Tuesday
- Voting rights for the 2012 Members Player of the Year award

That’s right. Boys get to run the team out on to the field and to be a ball boy at home games; girls get pom poms and a cheerleading lesson.

Girls in Cairns who follow league learn that boys get to be on the field, girls get to be next to the field in pretty outfits; boys get to be the stars, girls get to cheer for them. (And pay extra for the privilege.)

Reducing their role in sport to adornment is like telling elite athletes that they have to wear skirts at the Olympics. Oh. Wait.

I don’t think it’s outrageous to say we should be teaching all kids that they can be stars. I’m not talking about Australia’s Got Singing Dancing Children, but the idea that dreams – and achievement – aren’t limited to what genitals you happened to be born with. Because hell, females spend their whole lives being told that looking pretty, looking sexy but not slutty, is the most important thing they can do. So Northern Pride, how comfortable are you with being part of the problem? When a girl supports your team, instead of telling her that all she has to offer is being a bauble on the sidelines, why not tell her that her support is just as good as her brother’s support?

Hey journos, stop defining women by what their uterus has done

When a woman gets a newsworthy job or promotion, if she has children – and even though it’s completely unrelated to the newsworthy thing – you can bet a million bucks that a journo will refer to it at the beginning of the article. She’ll be described as “mother of two” before we even learn her name or what her qualifications are for the role. They never do this when writing about men. When’s the last time you read “Father of seven John Singleton”, or “Gerry Harvey, who has four children from two marriages, has retreated from his attack on online shoppers” in a news story?

Which beings us to this story in the Herald Sun: Peta Searle lands assistant coaching job at Port Melbourne. Her name is mentioned in the extended headline for SEO purposes, but here’s how it’s presented on the homepage:

Herald Sun defines professional women by what they do in their private lives

Herald Sun defines professional women by what they do in their private lives

When you list her role as a mother ahead of her professional qualifications that got her the job, it makes it look like she won the role in a competition.

A MELBOURNE mum has made history by becoming the first female coach in the VFL.

Mother of two Peta Searle landed the assistant coaching job at VFL premier Port Melbourne yesterday, ahead of two male applicants, after coaching in the Victorian Women’s Football League.

So what if there were “two male applicants”? Would the journalist, Angus Thompson, have mentioned that if the job went to a man? No, of course not. I can’t decide whether that bit was included to say “wow, she must be good if she beat two men”, or to dogwhistle “this is political correctness gone mad because she was clearly picked because she’s a woman”.

It’s not until you get to the 11th paragraph – in a 14 par story, so it’s the fourth last sentence – that Thompson bothers to report her qualifications:

A school teacher, Searle has played women’s football for more than 15 years and coached Darebin Falcons to five successive premierships in the VWFL.

(I love that they’re called the Falcons! That’s our gang term for vaginas and strong women. You have a falcon, but not all women are falcons.)

There are no comments published on the story yet, but if yesterday’s perthnow story is anything to go by, we can expect some complete idiot to hit the publish button on things like this:

No Way Posted at 7:46 AM November 29, 2011
Surely not….hate to sound sexist but back in the kitchen where you belong and leave the Footy to the fella’s. and…oi…bringmeabeerwillya

King Warrick Posted at 7:53 AM November 29, 2011
No Thank You, studies have shown that women haven’t got the mental strength to be able to make tough decisons, maybe we could send her to a rival team and let them manage them as some kind of sabotage

hodgo of perth Posted at 7:55 AM November 29, 2011
Stick to Netball and Rounders

jay Posted at 8:00 AM November 29, 2011
Here we go…..more women’s lib BS!!

munted of cooby Posted at 9:21 AM November 29, 2011
This is the end of football as we know it.Stick to cutting up the oranges sweetie.

Mick Posted at 9:51 AM November 29, 2011
Stay home with your kids , leave the football to the blokes

Anchor Posted at 10:25 AM November 29, 2011
Don’t think so love. As if males in the high level VFL are going to listen to a women giving them advice on AFL. Not way not in my lifetime would i take a females opinion on AFL

gus Posted at 10:36 AM November 29, 2011
Could you imagine the shame and humiliation of having your team coached by a girl? The endless sledging from other supporters. Look girls it is time to respect the boundaries. You dont see men encroaching on your laundry day or mothers club or house-cleaning…stay out of our area.

Angelo of WA Posted at 11:48 AM November 29, 2011
GO AWAY! It is a man’s game. It is enough that we have adopted namby pamby girl rules…it used to a great action game to watch – a bit of biffo and a few punches…it was exciting. Now it may as well be netball and they can start handing out skirts to the players… They are killing Australian Rules Football.

alive and kicking of the lucky country Posted at 4:28 PM November 29, 2011
doesnt she have dishes to do

And those are the ones that the moderator thought it was ok to publish.

Four powerful women is like Ladies’ Day at the races

You had to know I’d be blogging about this nonsense from Tony Wright today: Ladies in waiting for Queen’s visit.

He’s talking about the Prime Minister, the Governor-General and the Chief Minister of the ACT. And yes, I know he didn’t write the headline, but a lady in waiting is an Elizabethan era PA to the Queen or Princess. Hardly the role played by these three women.

AS ROYAL visits go, it was ladies’ day: the Queen, the Governor-General, the Prime Minister, the Chief Minister of the ACT.

Yes, the PM, the GG and the ACT’s highest-ranked politician greeting the Queen is just like a racing club having free entry for women on one day so they can enter a fashion competition because women are only interested in clothes, and because if lots of women are there, then men who don’t normally go are more likely to turn up and spend their money on overpriced booze and horses they know nothing about, and so Fairfax and News Ltd can run condescending photo galleries the next day of drunk women so all their readers can talk about what slappers they are while peering for flashes of undies. He’s right, you know. It’s exactly like that.

The powerful women gathered on the tarmac at Canberra’s Fairbairn RAAF base, their husbands and partner relegated to bit players.

Oh noes! Men are just “bit players” because their ladies took the important jobs from them. Quick, someone get a glib comment Tony Abbott about what women need to understand as they do the housework.

The Governor-General, Quentin Bryce – a symphony in pink to the Queen’s quieter aqua – offered a curtsey. The Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, in sensible navy two-piece suit, bent her head a bit in what might have been construed as a bow.

As @popebrentus pointed out on twitter, no one has to curtsy for the Queen. But, predictably, we’ll now have curtsygate. This will be The Most Important Thing that journalists talk about today. Oh look, News.com.au is already on the case:

News.com.au curtsygate

OMG, Gillard did nothing wrong, that's the WORST THING EVER! It's time to call an election.

Wouldn’t it be nice if journalists actually checked the facts before ducking from those falling bits of sky?

(Update 11.20am: Since we’re talking about News.com.au, they’ve “moved the story on” to “Gillard defends” – which apparently took the news ed, a journo and a wire service to write, yet we all know the un-bylined AAP writer did the heavy lifting – but yet still no one bothered to check what the protocol actually is.

Update 3pm: The Age has also moved the story on:

Still no one at The Age has checked the facts

Still no one at The Age has checked the facts

But they’re presenting it as “Gillard claims” she did not break protocol. This is despite many people tweeting the link to the Royal homepage dealing with protocol, which very clearly states that a handshake is fine. When your whole story hangs off whether or not someone has to curtsy, you’d think the very first thing you’d do was check if it was true. If it’s too late and you’ve already published, then you make the story quietly disappear from your homepage and hope Media Watch and The Hamster Wheel don’t mock you too hard. *mumble mumble, fuckin’ amateurs in newsrooms*)

Also, I look forward to Tony Wright mentioning all those grey, navy and charcoal suits that men in positions of power wear when they meet.

Ms Bryce’s husband, Michael, and Ms Gillard’s partner, Tim Mathieson, stood by, while Prince Philip trailed his wife by a step or two. Yes. Ladies’ day.

Yes. Complete sexist nonsense from the national affairs editor of The Age that was front page news in two states.

If you’re drunk and get raped, you’ve got no one to blame but yourself, says NSW Police Commissioner

Oh look, the NSW Police Commissioner, Andrew Scipione, is a rape apologist: Girls’ drink pact:

YOUNG women planning a night out should tell their friends if they plan to have sex to avoid unwanted and potentially dangerous drunken encounters, the NSW Police Commissioner, Andrew Scipione, has warned.

What’s a rape apologist? Well, I’m glad you asked. Finally, A Feminism 101 Blog has a wonderfully clear definition, that even people like Andrew Scipione should be able to understand:

The simple answer is that a rape apology is any argument that boils down to the myth that rapists can be provoked into raping by what the victim does or does not do.

Most people who make such arguments are not consciously intending to defend rapists. They are simply repeating arguments they have heard before and haven’t fully examined.

Clearly Scipione was sleeping through the several months of mainstream media coverage about SlutWalk. But it does go some way towards explaining why we still have police officers who believe rape myths.

While the non-drinking Police Commissioner is retreating from his earlier calls to raise the legal drinking age from 18, now he is calling on young women to “look out for your mates”.

Yes, telling people – not just young women – to look out for your mates is a good thing, but most people already do that. It’s a bit frightening to think that NSW Police’s anti-rape strategy is “hey women, don’t get drunk and you won’t get raped, but if you do get drunk and raped then you should take responsibility for your actions”. Not only is that offensive victim-blaming, but it’s telling women that they will be safe from sexual assault if they don’t get drunk, and that is simply bullshit. Scipione would know that.

Mr Scipione pointed The Sun-Herald to a soon-to-be-published study of 235 female university students, aged 18 to 25.

One-quarter drank twice a week and the same number drank heavily in a single session at least four times a month, the University of Wollongong study found.

Those who drank heavily were more likely to find themselves in dangerous sexual situations. And yet almost half said they never, rarely or only sometimes used a condom during sex.

I don’t know if Scipione doesn’t get it, or if the journalists – Nick Ralston, Saffron Howden – don’t get it, but unsafe consensual sex is not the same thing as sexual assault.

About 3000 people aged 15 to 24 are admitted to Australian hospitals each year for acute intoxication. Between the late 1990s and 2005-06, the rate of young women being admitted to hospital doubled.

That statistic is meaningless if you don’t give a figure. For all we know, there could have been only five women admitted to hospital for acute intoxication during the 90s, so for that to double in a decade is hardly cause for wringing of hands over young women not behaving like ladies anymore.

“In the past we always saw this overuse, the abuse, the drunken behaviour, the violent behaviour, the stupid behaviour … that was predominantly the domain of young men,” Mr Scipione said. “It’s not that way any more.

“It’s now unfortunately something that’s seen as cool: to be drunk as a young woman. For the life of me, I don’t know what’s that attractive about some young woman vomiting in the gutter at 3am after a big night.”

What’s attractive? Judgey Scipione, who gives a shit about what you find attractive? A woman’s purpose is not to be attractive at all times, just in case a man happens to look at her. If all you have to offer the public discussion around binge drinking is that you think it makes young women look unattractive, then we need a new Police Commissioner. One who thinks with his brain, not his penis.

Mr Scipione, the father of two sons and a daughter, said he wanted young women to take responsibility for their safety when drinking before they became victims of crime.

When you tell women that they are personally responsible for whether or not someone else commits a violent crime, you’re letting the criminal off the hook. You’re giving them an excuse for what they did. I wonder if he tells his son not to rape women?

Here’s the thing, NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione. I’ll stop blogging and tweeting about you being a rape apologist if your rape prevention strategy starts to prominently involve the following:

“Hey guys, when you go out tonight, DON’T RAPE ANYONE”.

The illogical ethical stance of the ethics professor

The great thing about opinion pieces is that you get to see who the douchecanoes are. Like Clive Hamilton who, frighteningly, is a professor of public ethics: Women at war is the final surrender:

With women to take on military combat roles, it is time to sound the Last Post over the rotting corpse of feminism.

I don’t see evidence of a “rotting corpse”. It might not be publicly called feminism all the time, but the push for equality across many parts of society is strong. Look at the numbers wanting marriage equality. Look at all the people working towards equality for Indigenous Australians. Look at the support from the business community for removing the barriers to women in leadership roles in the workplace. Look at the ASX requirement that listed companies must explain why they aren’t improving gender diversity. Look at the warning that if companies don’t improve, the Federal Government will force them to with quotas. Look at all the the research being done – and reported – into the fact that we don’t live in a meritocracy at all, but one in which jobs for the white, middle-class boys is still standard practice in many workplaces. Feminism, dear Clive, is not a rotting corpse at all.

It’s what has to be done to their minds.

Ooh look, a reference to our inferior lady brains. Where would we be without big, strong, smart men like Clive Hamilton to sort our silly brains out for us?

When the Defence Minister says the individual has to have “the right physical, psychological and mental attributes”, he’s thinking of male mental attributes – those needed to kill.

Because a woman has never killed anyone. Ever.

Putting women in the front line is a victory only for the campaign to obliterate difference, as if everything women were before the advent of feminism was the creation of patriarchy. But didn’t women’s life experiences and history provide distinctive qualities more needed today than ever? We should celebrate the uniquely female rather than bury it under the demand for equality.

Firstly, there is no campaign to obliterate difference. Saying – and demanding – that men and women should have the same rights and opportunities is NOT the same as saying that men and women should be the same. It’s about saying that if men and women are equally capable of doing a job, they should both be allowed to do that job. It’s idiotic to claim that they are the same thing. But I suspect Hamilton knows this and he’s just dog-whistling.

And secondly, of course women before feminism were not the “creation of patriarchy”, but what women were able to do with their lives and their bodies was absolutely decided by the patriarchy. And if “women’s life experiences and history provide distinctive qualities more needed today than ever”, then why aren’t these “distinctive qualities” needed in the armed forces? Huh, huh? Bit of a logic flaw there, ol’ Clivey boy. (Note: I don’t think men and women have distinctive qualities, just as I don’t believe that all men are the same and all women are the same.)

Sure, I don’t agree with war, but it’s arrogant to demand that everyone must share my opinion. And the military is not just about killing people – there’s peace-keeping work, re-building work, coordinating assistance during disasters, etc. Talking about army employees as being nothing more than “cannon fodder” is disrespectful to the people who choose a career in the armed forces. And although I think that any person being killed in a war is a terrible terrible thing, and I think that a single death is one death too many, Australians are not being killed in high numbers that would back up the “cannon fodder” claim. And do they even use cannons anymore?

We should celebrate the uniquely female rather than bury it under the demand for equality.

That sounds suspiciously like he’s saying women are sweet, nurturing creatures so men shouldn’t trouble them with things like equal pay for equal work, equal leadership opportunities, and the right to determine their own lives, because they simply won’t be able to cope with it.

Women’s morality differs from men’s.

Really? Where’s your proof of that? You can’t use one philosopher (Carol Gilligan) to claim this is a fact. I want to see peer-reviewed academic studies from every country in the world before I’ll believe that all women have one morality and all men have another. I don’t know Gilligan’s work, but I suspect her argument is more nuanced that Hamilton is claiming.

The facile clamour for equality is the capitulation of the sisterhood to the brotherhood.

Um, what?

Seriously, what?

Patriarchy, it now seems, was not endemic to the social body but was only a blemish that could be wiped away. The six o’clock swill may be gone but our society is more male-oriented than ever – more competitive, more individualistic, more money-hungry. And more sex-soaked.

So, patriarchy bad, feminism bad? Yeah, that makes sense. Sure it does.

Backed by the porn industry and popular media, sex is increasingly presented as a pleasant pastime devoid of sentiment and commitment. The centuries-old male fantasy of “ridding sexuality of any emotional connotation in order to bring it back into the realm of pure entertainment”, as Michel Houellebecq put it, has finally been fulfilled.

In my experience, sex is often pleasant, filled with sentiment, and entertaining. Clearly I am doing it wrong.

Who can argue against the claim that if a woman can meet the physical and psychological criteria, she should be allowed on the front line? Yet the silent discomfort remains. In the arguments for women in combat, we see at work the subtle process of turning a demand for social change into accommodating the aspirations of select individuals. Transforming social threats into individual challenges is the modus operandi of the established order.

Let me get this straight. There are no real arguments against a capable woman being able to fight on the front line, but they shouldn’t be allowed to simply because it makes Clive Hamilton uncomfortable. Then I suggest that you, Clive, have a problem. I’m sure there are psychology professors at Charles Sturt University who can help you deal with this problem. The next part of his argument is rubbish, because opening combat roles to anyone who is capable of performing them IS social change.

So the far-reaching social change envisaged by feminism in the ’60s and ’70s attains its pinnacle with targets to put more women into boardrooms and cabinets. But why bother putting women into boardrooms if the corporations they run continue to despoil the environment, evade their taxes and pay their chiefs obscene salaries?

What is the point of women in cabinet if, to get there, they must be fed into party machines, then extruded as those who can be trusted with levers of power, competent managers of a dysfunctional political system?

Ah, so because some corporations do bad things, and the two major parties are rooted, women shouldn’t be allowed to be a part of it. Business as usual, then.

It was the great betrayal of the women’s movement – diverted to male ends so that young women could be freed to duplicate the boorish behaviour of young men, from driving like hoons to spewing in the gutter after a big night out.

I guess Clive hasn’t noticed that not every woman is doing these things, just as not every man is doing these things. Clive Hamilton is an old fuddy-duddy with his “young people these days” and “young women don’t behave like proper ladies anymore”. It’s just as easy to claim that young men don’t act like proper gentlemen anymore, but I don’t see any gnashing of teeth about that.

We are all so terrified of being accused of sexism that we refuse to acknowledge that most of us shudder at the thought of women going into battle – to slice bodies with bullets, blow them up with mortars and slit throats when ordered.

Clive thinks it’s ok for men to “slice bodies with bullets, blow them up with mortars and slit throats when ordered”. Interesting ethical stance there, Professor.

Female soldiers have to fight the stupid at home

Katie, one of my lovely readers, sent me this link today and pointed out the confusion in the comments: Women cleared to serve in combat.

The confusion and stupidity would be priceless if it wasn’t so frightening. But it’s still pretty funny.

Arthur, poor misguided Arthur, had this to say:

I still question the issue of potential sexual assault from both friendly fire and the more importantly (in terms of my arguement) the enemy. This has nothing to do with physical weakness or ability, it is simply to do with being female. In war sexual assault is used as a weapon against civillians and in the event women are in the front line would be used as a weapon against those women also.

Right, so if our male troops – ie, friendly fire – rape female troops, then it’s not the rapist’s fault, it’s the fault of the women for being there while in possession of a vagina. It also ignores the fact that men can be raped – and there are many reports of male prisoners in Abu Ghraib being raped.

Tahlia, the rape myths in the comments might be of interest to you too, and a timely example for your thesis.

Joe is a bit of a scaredy-waredy when it comes to feminists:

This is exactly what concerns me. As there will be a lower percentage of females than males in these sorts of roles, it will give feminists grounds to argue that standards need to be relaxed to encourage more females to join. We could potentially be putting soldier’s lives at risk by surrounding them with incompetence.

Because there are no incompetent men anywhere. Mind you, silly ol’ Joe also believes that there are more male executives than female executives because men are better at being executives.

Sean is either a concern troll or an idiot:

No, it’s a terrible idea. What if they get captured? The units will go out of their way to rescue them. Also, units with women in the front line will be targets for the enemy. And if the woman gets injured more soldiers will stay behind to try to save her. I believe in equality and am glad that our PM is a female but women should stay out of front line combat.

So he believes that when a male soldier is captured, the rest of his colleagues just leave him there?

Bootneck thinks that with women around, the male soldiers will only be able to think about HAVING SEX WITH THEM ALL, which is exactly what happens in workplaces around the country every single day and no work ever gets done:

My concern is the distraction of females on the front line. We have to remember that although we are talking about highly trained troops they are still young and full of youthful tendencies.

Seriously, how does the ABC get such idiotic commenters? Like Jim:

just a little more unravelling of the roles of males and females…..soon be a single gender species.

I personally can’t wait for the day when I have a vagina and a penis. I’d never leave the house.

I’m guessing that Alan of Manunda is single:

There is no privacy out on patrol for a female to halt the section to find a little private area to have a tinkle, something any bloke can do quickly and efficiently, ask the footballers in Melbourne who are always in the news.

And what about hygene? In jungle warfare you do not finish work at 5pm and then have a shower and put your feet up!
Depending on the operation you may be required to go weeks without a shower.

Kate, despite having a female name, doesn’t realise that you don’t need to have your period every month. I skipped mine when I went to Uzbekistan, Mongolia and Russia:

I support women in the front line if they are as capable physically and psychologically as men (and also not a distraction). It is my understanding however, that front line personnel cannot be reliant on prescription medication. I personally could not think of anything worse than having a menstruation cycle in a war zone.

As this link implies, you can be on prescription medication in the army.

And that’s about all the comments I feel I can read. One thing that keeps coming through is, “how would you like to see this happen to your daughter or wife?”. Well, if it’s your wife, then chances are you know by now that she’s in the military. If it’s your daughter, you probably know this is the career she wants. Maybe you even proudly went to her graduation ceremony. A frontline combat role is not something that will “just happen” to them, like jury duty.

Katie, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. And the thoughts from everyone else too, of course, particularly my two resident military experts, Pirra and kimsonof.