Marching together

I’m going to the march in Canberra next Monday. I don’t do marches very often, but I’m going to this one.

I’m going because I’m angry and I’m going because I’m sad and I’m going because I’m tired. Because this shouldn’t still be happening. But it is. And I can’t bear the idea that this is just politics as usual, and that the government will get to move on as if nothing ever happened. It’s important to me that they see that we are here, and that this means something, and that we will not forget. It’s important to me that my niece doesn’t grow up in a world where a woman’s life is less important than a man’s career.

One thing that happens when you share your story of sexual assault is that other people come forward to share theirs. And there are so many people with these stories. These past few weeks, my DMs, my twitter feed, my blog comments, my email, my ears have been a clamour of women’s (and a few men’s) stories of pain and abuse. So I’m also going to Canberra because I feel like I’m carrying a lot of new stories now, in addition to the ones I was carrying already, and I’m hoping that if I take them with me they will start to mean something.

But speaking of carrying stories…

There are marches all over Australia, but I know that for many people, taking time off work or from caring duties to go to a protest just isn’t possible or practical. And I know that for others, attending a march isn’t feasible because of health or other issues. Marches simply aren’t accessible for everyone. (Which… is a problem, I think, but not one for this post.)

So if you really wanted to go to a march next Monday, but you can’t make it, drop me a comment. I’m not sure what the front of my placard is going to say yet (nobody who follows this blog will be surprised to learn that my mind runs more to essays than to pithy slogans), but the back is going to be the names * of the friends who can’t make it in person this time around, but who are with us in spirit.

I reckon those names will be a lot lighter to carry than the stories have been.

* Full names, first names or nicknames are all fine. And if you want me to screen your comment so others can’t see it, just let me know in your reply, and I’ll make it so.

Federal Election 2019: Meet The Women’s Party


It’s time to unite
It’s time for change
It’s time for equality
Themes: More women in parliament, equal pay, an end to violence against women.  Slight tendency to assume that women are naturally just nicer people than men.
Upper House: NSW
Preferences: No How to Vote Cards available, presumably because they are a tool of the patriarchy.

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Hijab, Femininity and Feminism

Today ends my week in Hijab, though I intend to keep wearing it on weekends, at least until things settle down a bit, Islamophobia-wise.  So probably for quite a while, alas – though since I’m still really enjoying wearing it, at least when I can get it to stay on, this is hardly a sacrifice on my part.

The last few days in Hijab were actually pretty normal.  I think people at work had adjusted to the sight of me in a headscarf – and perhaps I had been mis-judging some of the earlier reactions I got, too, because a few people did mention that they’d found it really difficult to get used to seeing me in it.  I look very different in Hijab.

But I’m still me.

I’ve had some fascinating conversations over the week.  Without exception, my colleagues are supportive of action against racism, against Islamophobia, and against, basically, women being attacked on the basis of what they wear.  Hooray, my colleagues!  (Even the ones with a dubious sense of humour!)  It’s not that I thought they weren’t awesome, but I’ve heard some pretty terrible stories from other people wearing Hijab about what their friends, families and colleagues have said to them about it.  I’m very lucky.  I’ve also had several conversations with vehement atheists who feel that all public religious expression should be banned – but who were, on the other hand, quite in favour of my argument that nobody should get to decide what a woman wears other than the woman herself.  And I’ve had a lovely set of conversations with Muslim women, veiled and unveiled, who  were very kind about what I was doing.

Out and about, I’m still getting a fair few suspicious stares, but I’m also getting a fair number of people being super-nice to me – trying to compensate for Islamophobia, I think.  The most disheartening thing I’ve noticed is that when I smile at people on the street or on the tram, far fewer of them smile back than usual.  This makes me rather sad.

Over the last few days, as I’ve become more at home in Hijab, and more inclined to forget what I’m wearing, I’m noticing a few subtler things about how people react to me.  I seem to have become more feminine in the public eye, which is interesting.  It’s definitely the Hijab, too, and not my clothing – apart from my scarf, I’m wearing precisely the same outfits I normally wear in cooler weather.  But suddenly, a lot more people are offering me seats on trams or holding doors for me.  Alas, with my increased femininity, I’ve also noticed a drop in my perceived IQ – not from my colleagues or friends, but out and about, I am suddenly being treated to a lot more patronising behaviour than I’m used to.  Kindly meant, I might add, but, oh, it’s irritating.

Interestingly, I’m also finding that male acquaintances touch me more when I’m wearing Hijab.  Not inappropriately or intrusively, just I’m getting a lot more friendly pats on the shoulder from people who would not normally do that. I have no idea what that’s about.  Reminding themselves that it is still me?  Very odd.  I could theorise about female bodies being somehow viewed as public domain, so that if one conceals more, people unconcsiously compensate for this, but I don’t want to go all feminist theory on what I suspect is a completely unconscious thing.

And speaking of feminist theory…

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Reflections on Truth

This is not a post I particularly want to write, but it’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot recently, and I think not writing about it would be worse.  It’s about something that happened to me quite a long time ago, and I’m putting it under a cut, because it’s pretty personal, and it talks about sexual assault.  And I’ll be screening all comments, for similar reasons.  Also, note that some of the comments include people discussing their own experience of sexual assault, which may be distressing to read.  I certainly found them so.

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Politics: Julia Gillard, Feminism and That Speech

So Tony Abbott has suddenly decided that he is a feminist!  Really!  And he is shocked – shocked! – that the Labor Government can countenance as Speaker a man who sent sexist and unpleasant text messages.

Now, if this was the first time I’d ever heard Tony Abbott open his mouth, I would be mildly pleased to hear this.  And it is certainly both interesting and pleasing to note that the head of our more right-wing major party feels the need to portray himself as a feminist if he’s going to get the votes out.

The trouble is, of course, that our dear Opposition Leader’s own statements have not been without their sexist moments.  Or hours.  Which are all duly recorded in Hansard, incidentally.  And this does make his statements about Peter Slipper – who was, until recently, a member of his own party – just a tad hypocritical.

But that wasn’t enough.  Oh, no.  A mere week after the whole blow-up about Alan Jones claiming that Gillard’s father died of shame because of his daughter’s lies (yep, we have radio personalities with no sense of decency in Australia, too), Abbott commented that the entire Labor Government should already have died of shame because of Slipper’s actions.

Oh, no you don’t… Continue reading

Politics: Why we need feminism

Do you know what really bugs me about politics at the moment?  I mean, apart from the hideous leap to the Right on every possible occasion, and the general existence of Tony Abbott?

It’s Julia Gillard.  I really wanted to like her.  More than that, I really wanted her to succeed, even if I didn’t like her.  Deeply frustrated as I am by Labor’s determination to reach out to the right and abandon those of us on the left, if they had at least managed to do so *competently* I’d be happier than I am now.  (And I acknowledge that the Gillard government has had a particularly difficult, and possibly impossible, task, given the configuration of the Lower House.)

If Rudd or Swan or any of the other men in the Labor Party had been Prime Minister and failed at the task of getting their agenda across, nobody would even pause to consider whether this might be evidence that men should not lead political parties.  But I can pretty much guarantee you that unless Gillard makes a spectacular recovery, she’s going to become ‘proof’ that women can’t lead a country properly.

If a man fails, then it reflects on him.  If a woman fails, it reflects on all women.*

This, incidentally, is why we need feminism.

* Of course, the same rule applies to people of colour, Aboriginals, gay people, Muslims, Jews, and, I’m sure, dozens and dozens and dozens of other groups I haven’t mentioned or thought of.  Which is why we need the various -isms attached to viewing people in these groups as people first and people-who-are-members-of-a-particular-g

roup second.  But since Ms Gillard is female, I’m sticking to feminism for the purposes of this post.

Politics: Decriminalisation! And why I think this is so important

I’m sorry to be so one-track minded at present, but it’s rare that something so interesting is happening in our local politics.

Oh and for those who don’t know, not only did the bill pass, but I’ve just had an email saying it passed without amendments, which is definitely a good thing. I’ll have another go-round with Hansard shortly and find out if I need to send any more appreciative emails. One should always encourage politicians who have done good things!

Given how I’ve been going on and on and on about this, it seems important to talk about why I feel so strongly about decriminalising abortion. Continue reading

Politics: Why we need more women in Parliament

I promise this is absolutely my last post about abortion decriminalisation. Promise.

But I just did the head count of who voted for what. I shouldn’t do this, because it always annoys me, but there you have it.

There are 16 women and 24 men in the Upper House. Of the women, 13 voted to decriminalise abortion. Of the men – 10 did.

I think the feminist rant about men who want to impose their morals on women in situations that they will never personally have to face is kind of implied. I’m not going there. You can take it as read that I am annoyed by this, however.

I will merely remark that this is precisely why we need more women in Parliament. There are certain issues in which women generally have a greater vested interest than men (paid maternity leave, childcare, child support etc), and the above figures suggest, at least to me, that if we want to do something about them, women will need to do it ourselves – because it seems that the majority of men will not.

As in the case of the RU 486 bill a couple of years back, women brought this bill to the table. Women were the first speakers on this bill. A majority of women from all sides of politics voted in favour of it.

We have some excellent women in politics in Australia (we have some excellent men, too, but they are not who I am currently talking about), and this is a good thing. But it seems to me that we need more – especially if so-called women’s issues are to be adequately addressed in legislation.

Politics: More on Legalisation and Letter-Writing

One really delightful result of sending my letter to senators is that Greens Senator, Colleen Hartland, sends us daily updates on the debate in the Senate, with links to speeches by other MPs that she thinks we will find of interest.

And, I’m delighted to say, she doesn’t care which party they come from.

So. Here are two speeches from Labor Senators in favour of this Bill. I haven’t had a chance to read them yet, but I’ll be going through Hansard in detail later.

Jenny Mikakos

Shaune Leane, I think. This one is confusing me, because his name does not come up at the start.

And, for those who are interested, here is the email, with a few more details about what is going on.

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