crazyjane: (shit_list)
It's almost time for uni students to start choosing subjects, buying textbooks and generally preparing for their first semester classes. Figuring out the areas on which you specifically want to concentrate can be either fraught or fun - in some cases, both. It can make the difference to where you go once your undergraduate degree is done, and what career path is open to you. In any event, it's not a trivial decision.

There are all sorts of disciplines for the Arts student, from the traditional (Sociology, languages) to the exotic (European Union Studies, Gender Studies). This year, if you're studying at the University of South Australia, you also have the opportunity to take up a new course - in 'Male Studies'. Sounds intriguing? Even, perhaps, logical? After all, we used to have Women's Studies, and we have Gender Studies, so why not?

But hold up a moment. Take a look at who's doing the teaching, and the rationale given for establishing the course in the first place. We're not talking about simply focusing on an area that has a history of being inadequately covered in university studies. This is a course with an agenda. A self-declared 'anti-feminist' agenda.

Gary Misan, the course's founder, claims that men simply can't get a word in edgeways these days. You can't criticise feminism, because the women will rise up and crush you. As far as he's concerned, this course is necessary; otherwise, how will there ever be a 'balanced view'? Another lecturer, Greg Andresen, laments the '20 or 30 or 40' years of feminism, during which, apparently, men have been silenced in the halls of academe. Then there's Roy Den Hollander, who opines that men 'struggle' to have any influence whatsoever.

Now, those are some ridiculous, overblown statements. Even granting the presence of Women's Studies as a specific discipline in universities, the idea that men, men's history or men's perspectives have been silenced is laughable. I won't go into the statistics on women's representation (or lack thereof) in the top echelons of society - you can find those easily enough - but it doesn't take a lot of searching to find evidence to completely refute these three lecturers.

As absurd as their statements are, however, the lecturers haven't stopped with outrageous claims about the evils of feminism. Andresen asserts that talking about violence against women renders men invisible, and that women who make false accusations of rape commit 'psychological rape' on men. He also takes issue with every possible statistic that even suggests that men enjoy a social, economic or political advantage over women - whether those numbers come from Amnesty International, the Australian Bureau of Statistics, university studies or social work organisations.

Another, Miles Groth, believes that date rape awareness seminars may deter men from enrolling at university. He suggests that young men despair because they are condemned as sexually violent without cause, and that this in turn affects not only their representation in university and senior secondary school cohorts but their final marks.

But the really nasty ones come from self-proclaimed 'anti-feminist' Den Hollander, whose website is password-protected. He refers to Women's Studies as 'witch's studies'. He likens men's position in society to that of black people forced to sit in the back of the bus. He's attempted to sue many venues for holding 'ladies' nights', on the grounds that they are discriminatory. And then there's this chilling comment:

'There is one remaining source of power in which men still have a near monopoly - firearms'.

Yes, you read that right. Den Hollander explicitly supports the use of guns by men to combat the alleged feminist agenda. Never mind the horrific statistics showing the level of gun violence against women, particularly when perpetrated by an intimate partner (the overwhelming majority of whom are male). Here's just an example, from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health: in 2005, 40% of female homicide victims were killed by their partners. 55% of those were killed by a gun. According to Den Hollander, that's just men 'taking back their power'.

Den Hollander's an attorney with a penchant for nuisance lawsuits, a tendency to bombast and a long-held grudge against an ex-wife (and he's never shy to remind people of this last). It's a struggle to see where his qualifications to teach lie - but this is someone who's going to be lecturing Australian students on what UniSA describes as a course primarily concerned with men's health issues. A person who advises men - and, by extension, warns women - that firearm violence is a valid response to a perceived loss of 'power'.

To say the appointment of a lecturer with such declared views is inappropriate is an understatement.

Whether or not you believe UniSA's stated position about the Male Studies course - that it addresses a perceived lack of education in a particular public health area - surely there are far better qualified lecturers available, ones who do not push hateful, violent, misleading agendas? Den Hollander and Groth are affiliated with anti-feminist website A Voice for Men, which frequently refers to women as 'bitches' and 'whores'. Andresen, associated with Men's Health Australia, is also an 'Australian liaison' for the National Coalition for Men, a lobby group that blames women for everything from 'sexually conditioning' men to deny their own pleasure to rigging the legal system to deny men their rights as regards their children.

Why not someone like Michael Flood, or Ben Wadham, who actually bother to analyse the statistics, study men's rights organisations, examine claims and take history into account? Why not lecturers who have worked, or do work, in the public health system? Qualified and experienced social and community workers?

If this is the best UniSA can do for a course that is aimed at health degree graduates or those who have experience in psychology, social work, and the like, then perhaps the university needs to rethink its hiring and background check procedures. It's not good enough for Misan to defend UniSA's choice of staff by saying that what their lecturers write on websites, or say in seminars and presentations to specific organisations, doesn't mean that they're necessarily affiliated with those groups.

I beg to differ. If someone is described as an 'Australian liaison', he's not just hitting the comments section of a blog. If someone's Facebook page is littered with groups espousing an agenda best described as advocating misandry, some of which he administers, he's not just clicking the 'Like' button.

Perhaps any publicity is good publicity for this course. After all, A Voice for Men gave it coverage that fairly gushed with glee. 'What Dr. Groth has accomplished is something entirely different, new and worthwhile. And it marks THE moment in history when the complete academic hegemony of gender feminists on discussions of sex, gender, and importantly power, comes to an end,' enthused editor Paul Elam.

But is that really the kind of support UniSA wants? Does this university, with its solid academic reputation, really want to be known as an institution that endorses - even by association - firearm violence against women and the suppression of date rape awareness, not to mention the wilful dismissal of any academic reporting that differs from a predetermined worldview?

Men's health is a serious issue; to all it to be reduced to a platform for misogynistic political lobbying does all of us a real disservice. UniSA has a choice; to be known as the plaything of extreme groups, or to be a world leader in an important area of public health.


Aug. 16th, 2013 05:20 pm
crazyjane: (shit_list)
In the last few days I've listened to sports commentators talk about how going to Russia for the Winter Olympics will be okay, because the government has promised not to be nasty to any gay athletes. I've heard news pundits saying it's not as bad as 'gays' are making it out to be over there. And I've seen people on social media even defend Russia's homophobic laws, because if you believe their polls, 73% of their population don't want their kids to know that gays exist, and 3 out of 4 of them claim they don't even know any gay people, anyway.

It's sickening. Actually, it's beyond sickening. It's fucking unbelievable. Stephen Fry was slammed for writing to British PM David Cameron and actually begging him to boycott the Winter Olympics. He was accused of over-reacting. And a Russian Olympic pole vaulter sat down in front of the cameras to call another athlete 'disrespectful of our laws' ... for daring to wear rainbow nail polish.

A friend sent me these links. Fair warning: the descriptions and images are terrible. )
crazyjane: (anzac)
You may find the following offensive. I do not apologise.

As usual, ANZAC Day brings out strong opinions. Most often, it's some kind of anti-war diatribe. Maybe it's the 'war machine' that 'eats our children'. Maybe it's the government who sends our military off to war for 'oil'. Maybe it's the patriarchy, Western imperialism, sexism, rape in war, whatever. The common thread here is that some people seem to think this is a day when it's just fine to make some of the most strongly-worded, bordering on offensive, statements possible, and shout them far and wide.

These people seem to think they're making a protest - and that justifies what they're doing.

Here's a fucking news flash.

You are not making a political protest.

You are trampling on someone's memory. You are invading their remembrance service, and you are distressing their relatives and their descendants.

How dare you?

You have 364 days every year to make your political points. You can write, and yell, and shout and stamp. You can lobby furiously, do your damnedest to change laws or change the culture - whatever you think it takes.

But when you choose ANZAC Day - of all days - to do it, then you're no better than Westboro Baptist Church. Remember them? The fundamentalist whackjobs who think they have a right to turn up to funerals waving their 'GOD HATES FAGS' banners and preaching their own message? The ones who provoke equal parts anger and grief in already upset people and think they're justified, because their message is so important? Those abhorrent, insensitive fanatics?

Yeah. That's you.

Have a bit of fucking respect and give it a rest for one day. You can go back to it tomorrow - and I might just join you, because I have no love for war, or profiteering or any of the many horrors that cause and stem from it.

But today, I will remember and honour the fallen. I will mourn for those who lie in foreign soil like my Great-Uncle Alby, and for those who came home to bear their scars and remember their comrades, like my Gramps. I will mourn for those who remain lost. I will honour them, along with hundreds of thousands of others.

I don't ask that you do the same. I ask you simply to let this day pass.
crazyjane: (Default)
As any poor bastard who reads my Twitter feed knows, I've been following the Labor Party leadership clusterfuck pretty closely since Kevin Rudd announced his resignation. Bah, who am I kidding, it goes beyond obsessive. But anyway ...

I've also been blogging frantically, as well as providing live 'micro-blogs' (the hilarious new name for live Twitter commentary) for the various speeches and interviews. There are, it seems, some advantages to being physically laid up a lot of the time (although I'm sure the kids won't thank me for this weekend). I think it's fair to say I'm as across this issue as anyone who hasn't got the specific inside track.

I've been appalled at the level of vitriol being flung around - not just statements of loyalty or preference, but actual vicious insults and downright threats directed at those who disagree on any given point. It's not just from the pollies, either. Media are churning out opinion pieces that go way beyond any pretense of objectivity, clearly declaring their preference for either Rudd or Gillard. And if the social media commentary were taking place in a pub, we'd have had a riot on our hands that spilled out into the streets long ago.

It's hyperbole, sure, but it really is dividing a good portion of the population.

In all this, I'm striving to maintain at least some level of objectivity. I think that's my job as an independent journalist, to analyse without fear or favour. And I know I fail miserably a lot of the time, especially when it comes to issues like asylum seekers or marriage equality. but at least I think I can say that I am as critical of Labor as I am of the Coalition, or Greens, or anyone else.

Not that this matters at the moment, apparently, according to the criticisms and abuse I've copped.

If I write that I think Rudd's running a slick, well-planned campaign, I 'must' be a Rudd supporter.

If I comment that Gillard has shown a level of feistiness in this campaign that we needed to see a long time ago - and which showed her capable of taking the fight to Abbott, I 'must' be in her camp.

If I talk about a third candidate, I'm a 'Greens lackey'.

Not to mention the people who re-tweet me, add their own exceptionally partisan insults and pass it off as my opinion.

And so on. No matter what I write, I'm accused of bias. Of being 'delusional'. A 'stupid c**t'. Et cetera.

And what pisses me off the most is that it's getting to me. I'm starting to second-guess myself. I read over and over what I've written, to make sure I haven't been too favourable or too critical. I start to wonder whether I need to give 'equal time' to both sides - even to the point of roughly the same word count.

It's ridiculous.

At the risk of sounding truly egotistical, I think I understand now the frustration that author and columnist John Birmingham vented after he finished up a stint as a guest columnist for the ABC. They're hamstrung by changes to their charters brought in by the Howard government, whose government consistently accused the national broadcaster of being 'unfair' to his administration. Now they have to provide equal time. And even so, they still get regularly hauled up before Senate committees and asked to account for absurdities.

One example? Tony Abbott's Budget reply speech last year. Twitter had decided to use the hashtag #budgies for any posts about it. Noting this, the ABC mentioned that on air and invited commentary on that feed. It was a simple PR decision. They could have tried to institute a different hashtag, but Twitter is notoriously stubborn about protecting its ability to choose its own labels.

At the Senate Committee hearing a few months later, the Opposition accused the ABC of being 'disrespectful' to Abbott by not 'insisting' on a different label - thus proving they not only don't understand social media, but also were not about to let the ABC operate without close interference.

And the ABC, as a result, self-polices its own work. To an extent that goes far beyond what it is legally required to do. If anything, it errs in favour of the Coalition. The internal watchman is so sensitive to any perception of Left bias, that it regularly shows evidence of bias towards the Right.

Birmingham wrote eloquently of the incredible frustration he experienced - of journalists in a constant state of nervous watchfulness in case their articles were too 'Left'.

At the time, I tried to imagine being gagged like that. Thankfully, as an independent, I don't have to worry about being forced to write to an agenda.

But in the last weekend, I've spent far more time worrying about whether I've unfairly favoured or criticised either Rudd or Gillard than I feel I should. I'll say it right here and now - Rudd has by far run the better campaign. He's popular, and people still feel he was poorly treated by being removed from office. We can't know everything that went on behind closed doors, but we do know that Rudd was never confronted by his colleagues - only blindsided. Gillard is tainted by her actions back then - not just removing him, but refusing to take responsibility for her own actions as Deputy PM, and now blaming Rudd for everything from a near election loss to her own government's problems (which she's been blaming on Abbott for months).

That said, Rudd's government showed far too little decisive action and far too much bureaucracy. Rudd was a micro-managing PM who didn't come up through Labor ranks and floundered in an unfamiliar environment. Gillard is a shrewd negotiator, pushed through the carbon pricing scheme and has held together a minority government in spite of Abbott's best (or perhaps worst) efforts.

The senior Cabinet ministers who support Gillard right now is utterly disgusting. Senator Doug Cameron, in his amazing Scottish accent, once referred to the Coalition as a 'rrrrrraaabbbble'. That accusation could easily be levelled at Wayne Swan, Simon Crean and Nicola Roxon right now. I'll say this for Rudd's supporters - with the exception of Maxine McKew, they're playing the ball, not the woman.

As for media hacks like Ackerman and Bolt - well, enough bandwidth is wasted on them already.

Do I think Rudd will win? Almost certainly not. I think he has about a third of the Caucus behind him, which is just not enough. But 'credit where it's due' is an axiom on which I've tried to base my work.

And it's totally fucked that trying to do that leads to little more than people whinging that you're a lackey or a hack or delusional.

If I were less convinced that I need to keep doing this - if only to be one more voice calling for some sanity in politics - I'd tell them all to go fuck themselves.
crazyjane: (shit_list)
This has been pinging around in my head for a while, after a few unpleasant events ... and I've finally reached the point of needing to write another Shit List.

Begin rant.

Those words? I do not think they mean what you think they mean. )
crazyjane: (bitch_please)
'Political correctness'. When I hear those two words it's likely to trigger a fit of near-uncontrollable rage. I'm sick to death of hearing people bleat about how terrible it is to be 'politically correct', and how oppressed they are and how outrageous it is that they can't have 'free speech'.

And by 'free speech', they mean the right to say anything they like, no matter how racist, sexist, homophobic or otherwise insulting, and not be called on it. They mean the right to tell jokes that cut others deeply, or even sting a little, and no one is allowed to object to that. Their rights are all-important, and how dare anyone say otherwise?

Well, you know what? Sure, you have the 'right' to say what you like. And I have the right to call you out for being an unfeeling, vicious asshat. I have the right to cry 'Shame on you!' when you hide your callousness behind laughter, and then have the temerity to mutter that people 'can't take a joke' when someone is offended by what you say.

I have the right to refuse to listen to you generalise about people based on their gender or sexual orientation, and the right to subject you to withering scorn and ferocious argument for your casual racism when you claim you're 'only calling it how you see it'.

I have the right to name your speech for what it is - hatred.

'But I don't hate gays/women/Aboriginals/Muslims ... some of my best friends are ... I've got a friend who is (insert stereotype here) and he doesn't care if I say those things ...'

Et fucking cetera.

These people never stop to think that the 'best friend' who doesn't object to the racist jokes, or the gay stereotyping, or the casual sexism, might be keeping silent. They don't consider that behind that smile might be hurt, or regret, or shame. And they apparently don't realise that even if one person does find their bigotry acceptable, that person doesn't speak for everyone.

So yes, I will call you out when you make a disgusting, racist joke. I will object when you resort to stereotyping and hurt someone for whom I care deeply. I will make a point of forcing you to confront the damage you do. And when you decide you want to poke 'fun' at someone who's called you on that behaviour by attacking them where they're most vulnerable, I will, by god, rip you up one side and down the other.

And if you want to whine about how fucking oppressed you are, or flounce around proclaiming your superiority because you have 'more important things to worry about than someone's precious feelings'? You had better not do it near me.

Because I will enumerate, point by point, every single time you've been hurt and come crying to me or gone whining on Facebook or LJ about the unfairness of others ... every time you've cried because someone's attacked you for simply being a particular race, or religion, or gender ... every time you've demanded your right not to be stereotyped by a television show ... and I will explain to you in minute detail how far you are responsible for perpetuating a world in which that can happen.

Don't cry to me if someone attacks you about being mentally ill if you're the type of person who makes casually racist jokes.

Don't complain that someone has discriminated against you for being a pagan when you've denied others a place in your circles because of their gender.

Don't try and engage my sympathy when you refuse to exercise even a shred of empathy or integrity because you think you have a 'right' ... or worse, because you're just too fucking lazy to think about other people before you flap your mouth.

It's not 'political correctness' to refuse to perpetuate a harmful stereotype ... to excise racist words from your vocabulary ... to show a little goddamn care.

It's being a decent human being. And it really isn't that hard.

(Oh, and for the record ... if you hear/see me saying something racist, homophobic, etc? Call me on it. Tell me what I've done. Because I know damn well I'm not entirely free from this behaviour - but I want to be.

And if I've offended or hurt you because of that? Then I'll damn well apologise unreservedly. And try like hell never to do it again.)
crazyjane: (reject reality)
As I wrote some time ago, I have to study Twilight for English this semester. I'd already read that, and most of the second book, but hadn't been able to go on. Recently, for completeness' sake, I started reading a chapter-by-chapter review of all four books. The blogger, at least, has a decent grasp of the English language, so I figured I'd be saved from the torture of Stephenie Meyer's horrendously bad prose.

And then it got weirder ... and more misogynistic and racist ... and more grossly sexually perverted ... and even with the extensive quotes provided by the blogger, I couldn't believe it was as bad as he was saying. So I thought I'd look for myself.

I'm fairly sure no one cares about spoilers, but it's the done thing, so - the full horror is behind the cut. )
crazyjane: (shit_list)
Things you JUST DON'T DO - blame an 11 year old girl for being threatened, gang-raped and further humiliated by having the video of the rapes spread around via cellphone. Talk about how 'hard' it's going to be for the rapists to continue with their lives or how the basketball team will suffer because two of the eighteen men and boys who raped her were big stars on the team. Talk about how she shouldn't have worn makeup/dressed 'inappropriately'/talked to boys. In short, blame anyone but the rapists.

Things the New York Times DID do - blame an eleven year old girl, etc.

You see, it's all about the community. Woe is them. How will it ever recover from having so many of their men and boys arrested? And what about the poor boys? If they were 'drawn in', how will it affect the rest of their lives?

Oh, and did we mention the girl came from a 'poor' part of town, while at least one of the rapists was the son of a School Board member? As if that little bit of classism wasn't bad enough, US bloggers identified the phrase used in the article - 'the Quarter's - as a racist dogwhistle effectively meaning 'where the poor black trash live'.

Look at what she was wearing. And where was her mother? I mean, really, she was asking for it, wasn't she?

Excuse me. I can't keep writing that sort of disgusting stuff without a nausea/outrage break.

It's despicable. Utterly inexcusable and appalling. The girl was effectively made invisible by the NYT. Never mind that she was kidnapped ... threatened with violence if she didn't comply ... repeatedly raped ... filmed while she was being violated ... and then, when a relative of one of the rapists came home unexpectedly, they took her to another location and raped her again. Then, just to add insult to injury, they shared the videos around the town. It was only when a primary school girl saw one of those videos, and recognised the victim, that anyone contacted the police.

None of that, apparently, is important. The NYT seems more concerned with giving a bunch of rape apologists a free, uncritical platform for their hateful crap than it is with the fact a little girl suffered the most horrific violations imaginable. It's more worried about making sure readers know that a bunch of rapists might have to 'live with' what they've done than pointing out how that little girl's life has effectively been destroyed.

The girl is now in foster care 'for her own protection'. Her family has received death threats originating from within the community, and her parents are reportedly looking into how they can quickly move away from the area. None of that made the NYT, mind you - only independent news was ethical enough to bother following up on the victim. Or maybe they just weren't as lazy as the big paper.

The New York Times should be ashamed of itself. It should apologise unreservedly to the girl and her family - and it should do so on the front page, with a banner headline.

And now The Age has repeated this rubbish. Not even an attempt to show balanced reporting or compassion for the victim. It's not like it would be hard to find a rape counsellor to talk about the long-term effects of violent sexual assault, or even run off a quick op-ed piece about this community's appalling lack of empathy for a violated little girl.

Lazy journalism, perpetuating a culture where a rapist gets more sympathy than a rape victim. The same culture where a girl who comes forward to tell her story of being little more than a plaything for 'elite athletes' gets called a 'skank' and a 'whore', and blamed for ruining those athletes' careers. The same culture that says it's not as 'bad' if a rape victim is a prostitute, because she has to expect it (and that's a quote from a judge).


A girl was RAPED - did everyone in the fucking mainstream media forget that little fact?

It makes me want to go hug my daugters very, very tightly - because they're rapidly becoming young women, growing up into this culture.
crazyjane: (shit_list)
That's me. I'm the aforementioned fat bitch. And I am sick and fucking tired.

A bit of background first: I'm in my mid-forties, with two extremely active nine year old girls. I'm studying, working part-time, trying to set up a business and (when I get time to breathe) kick-starting a writing career. I have intermittent episodes of major depression, and I suffer from osteoarthritis in my knees. About ten days ago I woke up with sciatica, something I've had three times in the last ten years. I have chronic pain which fluctuates from about a 5 to an 8 out of 10 on bad days. With the sciatica, I'm hovering about 8 pretty much constantly - and have hit 9 a few times.

And I'm fat. Really fat. What the media and the medicos like to call 'morbidly obese', as though I were some kind of blubber-laden zombie shambling around looking for brains.

Yes, my weight probably contributes to the degeneration of my knees. I know that. I'm trying to drop a bit of weight to help with that. But here's the thing.

Today I broke down and went to a doctor to get some pain relief for the sciatica. I'd been trying to manage it with Nurofen Plus, but it's not helping - so I thought that, rather than take handfuls of an ineffective drug, I'd seek a better solution. If I could get some relief, it would mean that I could actually sleep at night, do stretching and flexing of my back without crying and, you know, function.

Now, you may not be aware that the Federal Government, in its dubious wisdom, has now declared codeine a Class 2 drug. This means that you can buy, at most, 5 days' supply without a prescription - and even then, you can only obtain that if a pharmacist is satisfied that you really need it. Yes, that's right. You have to convince a pharmacist that your suffering is bad enough to obtain a packet of Panadeine or Nurofen Plus - and if they don't agree, your only option is to go find another pharmacist who might be disposed to let you buy some. If you're in pain bad enough to need codeine, the last thing you want to be doing is driving around the place.

If you're in chronic pain, you're going to be paying a hell of a lot more now. Either you're paying doctor's fees (which means you're out an average of $15 after the Medicare rebate) on top of the prescription ($10+), or you're buying every five days (an average of $6 on top of petrol in your quest to find a damn sympathetic pharmacist). Previously, you could buy a packet of 48 Nurofen Plus for $10 or under, which would last a hell of a lot longer.

Why is the Government doing this? Because, according to the pharmacist I spoke to today, 'People are using too much codeine and addicts are using it to substitute for heroin'. Right. So the best solution they could come up with is to punish everyone indiscriminately - including those who might need the stuff for legitimate reasons. There is no funding for more and better pain management clinics, no funding for rehab or drug education, and heaven forbid they might actually try to target their strategy where it's needed. Oh, no.

So, with all this in mind, I asked the doctor today for two forms of pain relief - Nurofen Plus, which is what I use to control the arthritis pain and inflammation, and Tramadol. Now, Tramadol is a non-addictive, non-tolerating opioid drug. You don't find yourself needing more of it to have an effect, and you don't get physically addicted to it. Psychological addiction is offset by the side-effects - most people suffer horrible nausea, not to mention drowsiness. All in all, it's a fantastic drug for people in severe pain. I've used Tramadol in the past when my arthritis pain has been really bad.

The doctor I saw commented that I appeared to be in a lot of pain and was having difficulty walking. I asked her for the drugs. That's when she shut down the chatty, friendly personality and started to lecture me.

She didn't want to write me the prescriptions at all. Her reasoning? I was fat. I needed to lose weight. If she gave me the drugs I would just take more and more of them. What I really needed was a dietician.

I explained that I had had Tramadol before, and that I didn't use it unless pain was more than I could bear, and then a maximum of one in any given day (the prescribed amount is 2 for the strength I buy). I told her I knew how to take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like Nurofen Plus, that I never took more than the recommended limit in any given day. She dismissed this.

I told her that I was in the process of dropping some weight. I explained to her in detail how I was doing this - portion control, and cutting down on fat and sugar. I pointed out that it was easier to stay active, even just a little bit, when I could walk without crying in pain.

Her response to all that? I still needed to be under the care of a dietician, because I would 'slip'. I wouldn't be able to stay on a diet.

Note the language here. There was no attempt to engage with me at all. She somehow just 'knew' that I would become a tolerant, addicted woman who was completely unable to lose weight if I wasn't being controlled by another person.

I managed to hang on to my emotions, though I know my face was burning red with humiliation. You see, if I'd broken down and shown her how much pain and distress I was really in by crying (which is what I really wanted to do), she would likely have been even less sympathetic (if that was even possible). I made promises. I reassured her over and over. I pretty much begged for help.

In the end, she grudgingly wrote me a prescription for the smallest possible amount of the drugs. In the case of the Nurofen Plus, the prescription was for the same amount I could have gotten over the counter from a pharmacist. She kept telling me I needed a dietician, even after I told her firmly several times I would not see one. When I asked her to refer me for an X-ray and ultrasound to diagnose the cause of the sciatica (which could be anything from a herniated disk to bone spurs to spinal tumours), she at first refused. Again, I practically had to beg.

Explain that one to me. She refused to find out what was causing this terrible pain I've been suffering, and maybe indicate some therapeutic treatment. She would rather have put me on a diet than catch a potentially severe problem early.

Her parting shot to me was that she thought I was doing the wrong thing, and there was still time for me to let her send me to a dietician. I didn't bother answering. At that point I was so upset that I needed to leave before I started screaming. I managed to hold myself together until I'd gotten my prescriptions from the pharmacy next door - then I sat in my car crying and shaking, utterly humiliated and furiously angry.

Just as a contrast? In the last three months, several friends of mine have needed strong pain relief. One was loaded up with several different drugs, including a morphine derivative, without having to request anything. Another was given a prescription for 100 Panadeine Forte (each tablet containing 30 mg of codeine, as opposed to the 12 found in Nurofen Plus). Yet another was given both Panadeine Forte and Tramadol. Not one was subjected to the kind of treatment I received today.

The difference? None of them were 'morbidly obese'. One was perhaps 10 kg heavier than the stats told her she 'should' be. One was severely underweight by those same standards (and would have been considerably more affected by the drugs she was given).

So right now, this where I stand. If I need to manage my pain, I need to prove my case every time to a pharmacist, or try to get a doctor's appointment. If I do have to see a doctor, I need to beg for pain relief while being subjected to insulting condemnations of my personality - and then I am still entirely at their mercy. There was nothing stopping that doctor from refusing to write me any prescriptions whatsoever. She could have blackmailed me into going under a dietician's care by holding out the possibility of pain relief. In other words, she could have coerced compliant behaviour out of someone in pain so severe that it interferes with sleep, normal living and general quality of life.

How is this even remotely excusable?

The Government assumes I'm an addict. The doctor assumes I'm weak, have no willpower at all and will become both addicted and a 'failure' at losing weight. The pharmacist shrugs her shoulders and says, 'Well, it's the law now'.

This is NOT good enough.

I am not a junkie. I am not morally weak. I have not abrogated my right to medical aid. I am a fat woman in chronic pain, trying to better my situation and requesting a little help.

I have the right not to be humiliated. I have the right to obtain relief from pain. I have the right to be treated like any other human being - with decency, compassion and courtesy. I didn't lose that right when I started buying my clothes in plus sizes or walking with a stick.

It'll be a long time before I can face going back to a doctor. In that time I just have to hope that my sciatica will die down and that I can learn to cope with the pain.

Thank you for nothing, Mr. Rudd and Ms. Roxon.
crazyjane: (shit_list)
Senator Sarah Hanson-Young introduced the Marriage Equality Bill 2010 into the Senate today. The aim of the bill was to amend the Marriage Act 1951 to remove the definition of marriage as between between a man and woman only, with a view to facilitating same sex marriage. In effect, it was a re-run of a defeated bill introduced by the Democrats in 2006.

In their great generosity, the Government allowed thirty minutes for debate. Yes, you read that right. This was a bill with profound implications for Australian society. You'd think that a reasonable amount of time would be set aside to talk about it in Parliament, wouldn't you? Oh, but maybe there are just so many bills that there isn't that kind of time.

Not so. Since Parliament recommenced for 2010, amendments to finer points of income tax law were debated for over an hour. Changes to Youth Allowance took up nearly three hours only yesterday - and let's not forget the hours and hours and hours that have been spent so far debating the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme legislation over the past two sessions.

No, the simple truth - the ugly truth - is that the debate was deliberately gagged.

It isn't hard to see why, really. Of the people in the chamber, only a few would have stood up and spoken in support of the bill. Perhaps the Government felt it wasn't worth taking up the time for all of them to have a say. After all, it was fairly obvious that the bill was going to be defeated, so really, what was the point?

The point is that the decision was made before that bill even made it to the Chamber. In fact, I'd be willing to bet that it was made before it was even drafted. Those thirty minutes were nothing but lip service - and patronising lip service, at that. Effectively, the major parties patted Senator Hanson-Young on the head, smiled tolerantly while she gave an impassioned speech in favour of human rights, and then sent her to bed without any dinner. They stood up first, though, and smacked down the bill with the kind of pathetic reasoning that would get you booted from any high school debating team.

Let's take a few samples.

Senator Steve Fielding - no one ever expected him to support the bill. His party's stated platform is in lockstep with the Assemblies of God churches that back him, and there was no way he was going to deviate from the dogma. 'Marriage is between a man and a woman, to the exclusion of all others, for life,' he proclaimed.

Apparently Senator Fielding has not seen any divorce statistics, and is absolutely against second or subsequent marriages. I'm sure that millions of unhappy, abused spouses will be comforted to know that.

Note, however, that he was not quoting any religious text here. He was actually quoting the Marriage Act itself, from the Interpretation section: '"marriage" means the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life'. If one were to strictly interpret that definition, there could be no re-marriages - or divorces, for that matter. Nonetheless, over 47,000 people identified themselves as divorced on the 2007 Census, and over one-third of marriages solemnised were second or subsequent unions.

Guess the definition isn't that strict, after all. Selective interpretation? You decide.

Then there was Senator George Brandis, from the misnamed Liberal Party. 'Marriage has never ever in any society in history been regarded as anything but between a man and a woman,' he intoned solemnly.

Senator? Step right this way, please. We have some information for you. We'll put it in chronological order, so you can see just how wrong you are.

There's evidence from ancient Greece of male-male unions - cited by Aristotle (c. 500 BCE), for example - which were not the more well-known teacher-pupil type. These relationships were considered identical to heterosexual marriage, even to the point where the men in question could adopt children and arrange for them to inherit.

Rabbinic Jewish midrashic texts on Leviticus refer to same sex marriage contracts taking place in Canaan (which puts it around 200-1500 BCE). In fact, it's one of the Canaanite practices that made the rabbinic writers foam at the mouth on several occasions - so well-attested, in fact, that it appears in at least four different treatises.

The Emperor Nero married one of his slaves in the 1st century CE. Later, in the 2nd century CE, the Emperor Elagabulus followed suit. In fact, it was pretty common in Rome right up until Constantine specifically outlawed it in 342CE.

France, in the late medieval period (before around 1400) had a kind of contract that was considered legally equivalent, but there was no religious component. It was symbolised by the sharing of bread and drink in a ceremony.

There's also a rather curious, if disputed, tradition among medieval Christian monks in France, where they were bound together in a *religious* ceremony whose text reads *exactly* like a marriage ceremony, including the exhortations to faithfulness. It was postulated by the historian Boswell, but is generally not accepted - you can imagine why.

From Ming Dynasty China (c.1300-1644) there is evidence of binding contracts between women, and between men.

More recently, among certain Native American tribes, you had 'Two-Spirit' marriage, where one male partner was considered a 'wife' and took on a female social role. This marriage was reocgnised as identical to a heterosexual union.

'It's not a discrimination issue,' stated Brandis. Oh, we rather think it is.

And Senator Brandis? This information is not hard to find, nor (unless otherwise noted) disputed. Five minutes in a library would have told you that.

By far the most shameful performance of that thirty minutes, however, came from the government, led by Senator Nick Sherry. 'The Government is committed to removing all forms of discrimination,' he vowed, and went on to list a raft of tax and social security issues that had historically discriminated against same sex couples, and which the Government was going to abolish. Good start.

But then there was this: 'equally, we are committed to preserving the Marriage Act'. Specifically, the Government stated that it was committed to the 'man and woman' definition of marriage. Now, we've already seen that Australian society and law plays fast-and-loose with that definition when it comes to divorce and re-marriage. In fact, you could say that it's not so much selectively interpreted as ignored altogether. Why not, then, ignore the 'man and woman' description?

Apparently, it simply cannot be done. To borrow a phrase from Prime Minister Rudd, 'for reasons passing understanding' it must not be done.

No explanation is given that holds up under even the most cursory scrutiny. The appeal to history fails miserably. Holding to the strict definition of 'marriage' from the Act is completely flawed, and in fact could be said to make a case for allowing same sex marriage. Claiming that prohibiting same sex marriage is not discriminatory is, frankly, ludicrous.

I'll give Senators Brandis and Fielding this: they stated matters of principle in their objections. Yes, they were patently wrong, but at least they tried. Fielding has even said that it is a form of discrimination, one that he supports. Points for honesty, there.

Senator Sherry, however, weaselled around the issue, pathetically offering up a few sops that - in effect - only further ensure that same sex couples are treated as second-class citizens. Same sex couples will be subject to the same income testing for purposes of tax, superannuation and social security as heterosexual couples. On the face of it, that's pretty egalitarian, right? No. A heterosexual couple can walk into any Government office in the country and have their marriage instantly recognised, and gain the benefits of that. A same sex couple cannot. They are, when it comes down to it, gaining most of the disadvantages of being married - yet Senator Sherry, speaking for the Government, would have us believe that this is removing discrimination.

It is hypocrisy, plain and simple. The Government does not have the excuse of faulty reasoning, or a lack of knowledge of history. They are flat-out stating that what they are doing is not discriminatory, merely holding to the law. Even as Government MPs and Senators say that, though, their eye shift and they rush to fill up their answers with convoluted reasoning that twists in and around on itself, and goes nowhere. They know.

So what is behind it?

One could speculate that Mr Rudd and his fellow politicians have learned their definition of marriage not from the Marriage Act, but from their churches. Homophobia and discrimination against same sex relationships is well-enshrined in all but the most progressive of Christian religious institutions.

There is also the unpleasant truth that Australia has, socially, a history of discrimination and hatred towards same sex relationships that goes hand-in-hand with 'mateship' and 'true blue Aussie bloke' mythology. Perhaps the Labor Party learned it there.

Whatever the reasoning behind the statements, the bill was voted down. The Government, Opposition and Senator Fielding united to preserve a shameful violation of human rights. Even Senator Nick Xenophon, who had supported the removal of some forms of discrimination in his home state of South Australia, lived up to earlier statements that he was a 'bit more reluctant to support gay marriage'. And all after barely thirty minutes' discussion, most of which was taken up by speeches like those from which I've quoted.

There is no excusing this. It was incredibly disrespectful - not only to Senator Hanson-Young, but to all those who believe that everyone is entitled to equal treatment under the law of Australia. It was blatantly gagged, ensuring that only a single speech supporting same sex marriage made it into Hansard. It was a demonstration of how faulty reasoning and lack of knowledge determine who has rights, and who does not.

And it was an exercise in hypocrisy for the Government,resulting in a devastating loss of whatever credibility it still retained. The Labor Party, under Prime Minister Rudd, stands condemned in the eyes of Australia.

It is my devout hope that this inequality, this meaningless discrimination, will be struck down soon, and that Australian law finally lives up to its ideals of equality and fairness. Until that time, our elected representatives should be constantly aware of one thing:

We are watching you. We see how you act, and we will call you to account for it.
crazyjane: (facepalm)
A little over a month ago I worked on the Australian Writer's Diary 2010, as part of my Practical Placement requirements. Around 20 hours of research and fact-checking, then about 15 hours' wrestling with the stupid InDesign document to input the factual changes into a template that was, well, broken. Finally I packed the whole thing up - properly versioned, signposted and checked - and handed it over to the small press people to give to the proofreaders. Having done that, I emailed the small press co-ordinator to ask for the go-ahead to get the cover design finished.

And I waited.

And I waited.

Last week I contacted one of the proofreaders. He hadn't been given the manuscript. Hm, I thought, maybe there's a problem. So I emailed said small press.

And I waited.

And I waited.

This morning, one of the other students in my Editing class mentioned to me that the small press co-ordinator 'wanted to know where things were at' with the Diary. Apparently she received a 'blank CD' from me.

Now, note - this was never communicated to me. She's had it for more than four weeks, plenty of time to look at it, find any problems and drop me an email. I have been on campus and in email contact for all but 4 days, most of which were over a long weekend. It's not like it would have been hard to find me and fix this up quickly.

But nooooo ... I find out over a month later. Through a third party. Who isn't working on the Diary, and cannot engage with me on fixing the problem. Oh, and let's not forget the fact that the small press co-ordinator's computer is notoriously dodgy when it comes to reading CDs. Apparently this isn't the first time someone's been accused of sending blank media - and I did check it before I handed it over.

So here I've been, waiting for any kind of feedback, trying to get some sort of communication happening - and now this. It's completely unprofessional. I'll be requesting a face-to-face appointment with the co-ordinator - always assuming I can get an answer to yet another email! - and I will be making it very clear that I don't appreciate my commitment to this project being undermined by shoddy work practices.

Practical Placement is supposed to teach us what working in the industry is like. If this is an example, it's no bloody wonder our publishing industry is in chaos.

August 2017

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