auspol

Small Fried Budgie, Huge Beak and Very Little Backbone, Served in a Red Speedo: The Abbott KFC Special

Caution: Meal may emit very hot air.

I am sure I am not the first to say that Australia’s Prime Minister Tony Abbott is a revolting, evil-spirited, cretinous, sentient turd. And after my initial feelings of revulsion when assaulted by images of his hairy, loose-skinned, middle-aged torso wobbling above his equally wobbly tight Speedos, I find myself spellbound by an increasing sense of wonder as to how a legion of backwards, white conservatives could bring themselves to vote for such a ludicrous little man. I mean, besides his constant stream of cringe-worthy gaffes, accidentally referring to the opposition leader as “Prime Minister”, majorly pissing off China, aiming to single-handedly destroy Australia from the ground up, and level of understanding of government policy akin to that of a kindergartener’s, I sit still in a state of disbelief of his ability to look more ridiculous than a political caricature of himself. I am amazed that this man is allowed to brush his teeth without supervision, let alone retain the highest office of an entire nation. But his perverted budgie-smuggler-fetish-slash-exhibitionism triggers more than just my gag reflex. I find myself encumbered by my ongoing bitterness about the treatment of former Prime Minister Julia Gillard, who I still hold to have been the best thing to happen to this country’s government since Whitlam.

No thinking feminist (or Australian citizen for that matter) is a stranger to the fact that Gillard was the victim of a level of publicly-sanctioned misogyny that might as well have arrived in a time machine from a Victorian Asylum. Stopping just short of carting her off to receive a frontal lobotomy,  she was labeled by the media as the political equivalent of the archetypal Hysterical Woman, and our beloved Prime Minister (then Opposition Leader) Abbott displayed no shame in peddling such rampant sexism himself. Here are some choice examples

For posterity, here is my favourite quote from Gillard’s speech in Parliament: “The leader of the Opposition says that people who hold sexist views and who are misogynists are not appropriate for high office. Well, I hope the leader of the Opposition has got a piece of paper and he is writing out his resignation”. Oh Julia, your incredible snark lives on in all of our hearts.

The point I am trying to make here is that the nations first female Prime Minister was judged (and ridiculed) almost entirely because of her physical appearance and demeanor (besides her having “lied” about not introducing a carbon tax, which she never actually did, as is outlined by Kerry-Ann Walsh in her terrific book). If you ask me, I found Gillard to be very articulate, professional in appearance, and overall quite dignified and elegant. But of course, the nation could not resist attacking her hair colour, accent, facial features, or the size of her posterior. Keeping it classy, Australia, How dare a woman do a decent job of running the country, for lack of any meaningful political debate, let us attack her appearance.

As you’ve surely noticed from this post’s introductory paragraph, I haven’t spared Tony Abbott from such criticism. And just to illustrate my point further, I think that Kevin Rudd is a pasty, almost vampiric creep, Bill Shorten has a stupid forehead, Joe Hockey looks like a cigar-smoking cartoon villain, John Howard’s eyebrows might as well cecede from Australia and install their own parliamentary system, and Christopher Pyne resembles a “mincing poodle“. But are these external features in any way reflective of these politicians’ abilities (or lack thereof) to do their jobs? Well, besides the arguably accurate description of Joe Hockey, I’m going to say that they do not. Not even, really, in the case of Abbott. Sure, he is an embarrassing moron, and half the planet considers him a dangerous joke, but he’s done and said much more idiotic things than prancing around on a beach in a pair of budgie-smugglers. And this is just one little blog post in the vast expanse of the Internet; you will find that the media rarely makes such assertions about our male politicians.

In response to the annoyingly persistent liberal fauxminist ideology of female nudity=empowerment, it has been argued that if this were true then powerful men like Barack Obama would be seen plastered over every newspaper and magazine in a variety of provocative positions. This rhetoric has a number of good points, and I hold that simple male nudity does not have the same visual effect as male nudity in similarly degrading positions in which we often see women. Without rambling on too much about this, I have come to think somewhat contrarily to this, and got to thinking about the topic this morning after musing to my facebook friends that “If Julia Gillard had done endless photo shoots in a string bikini, not only would there have been a literal angry mob to forcibly remove her from office, I expect that Jacqui Lambie would be campaigning to make the burqa mandatory”.

Such is the widespread revulsion towards the female body. Yes, I am of the belief that politicians, in order to keep up their facade of being respectable leaders of their respective nations, ought not to dress in a way that would cause your grandmother to clutch at her pearls. After all, your dear old gran is still a member of the electorate. And so are the misogynist young men who are part of the culture that strips women of their clothes in order to strip them of their power. This is a simple analysis of porn culture: naked woman=male plaything lacking power and personhood. However, I still wonder why Abbott’s rather confronting exhibitionism has caused less of a stir than the width of Julia Gillard’s arse.

My theory is that his irritatingly smug delight in swinging his shriveled testicles in national media is a quiet “fuck you” to not only Gillard, but powerful women in general. Imagine the colourful slurs that would flood public opinion if a female politician did a photo shoot with nothing but three inches of cloth covering her vulva? Imagine if Julia Gillard was photographed jogging around braless in a skin-tight crop top, breasts swinging pendulously in the flashes of photographers’ bulbs? Not only would no one take her seriously, it simply wouldn’t happen. Men constantly remind us that what is designed to villify and degrade women is not only acceptable when a man does it, but often considered part of his cheeky charm. Do we really need to bring up Monica Lewinsky? Bill Clinton may have got off lightly, but if only Abbott would suffer some criticism for his habit of swinging his junk in public. After slandering and dehumanising Gillard, scrambling into office over her proverbial lifeless body, he stands triumphant upon discarded and disgraced female politicians, holding his Australian flag-adorned genitalia aloft, telling us all- Look what I, a man, can do! I can look like an absolute oaf and still be your head of government!

May I smuggle both budgies and budgets past your sexism-clouded vision, and into the most vulnerable corners of society!

Perhaps the size of his head is a result of decreased circulation down south

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The Australian Sex Party, Reactionary Trotskyists, and Bullying Women Out of the Left: The Real ‘Third Wave’

What do these three things have in common?

Anyone who is a radical feminist and has ever been to Melbourne would be able to tell you. First some background.

The Australian Sex Party is a political party whose leader Fiona Patten is a “sex” industry  profiteer- CEO of the Eros Association, a company that owns multiple sex shops and organised sexual assault pornography websites. They pride themselves on a number of deceptively progressive policies behind which they hide their dedication to the mass sexual enslavement of women.

Socialist Alternative (SAlt) are a militant Trotskyist political party  organisation who pretty much everyone who isn’t a SAlt member thinks are a joke. You may remember them from such hits as being obnoxious on national television, being obnoxious in a supermarket, and tokenising their comrade who committed suicide in order to prove that they’re not transphobic.

What they have in common is that they comprise vocal elements of the annual “pro-choice” rally in Melbourne, which is held to counter-protest a “pro-life” march called March For the Foetuses or something similarly demented. This counter-protest is pretty important to us Melbournian feminists, as it is literally the only regular women-orientated action (besides weekly clinic defenses at the East Melbourne Fertility Control Clinic). Considering that these anti-woman activists like to harass women and murder clinic employees, we find it necessary to show up and make sure they all know that we fucking hate them. A group called Campaign for Women’s Reproductive rights “officially” organises this protest and for some reason the Sex Party also has a big hand in the promotion of this rally, as its members can be seen handing out flyers, advertising the party and getting creepy dudes to make speeches with frequent references to women’s genitals. SAlt- being a reactionary mob of quasi-political uni students- also have a large presence, and can be identified at pretty much every protest ever by their repetitive, unoriginal chanting and shoving copies of Red Flag into everyone’s faces.

Oh, did I mention that some women aren’t welcome at this protest?

This year was the first in five that I didn’t bother to attend. After doing an impromptu speech on my second year, I was invited to speak at the next rally. Curiously, the year after, I received no such invitation. Apparently it was because I had voiced anti-“sex” industry opinions on my personal facebook page. How my support for the criminalisation of pimps and johns has anything to do with advocating for abortion rights has not yet been explained to me. After some harassment, threats of physical violence, and doxxing from male Sex Party members, I took it all on the chin and showed up to last year’s rally anyway.

This year, a young woman with similar views to mine attended the rally with her friends. She is a vocal online radical feminist and lesbian activist and was accosted by a member of SAlt. She was physically intimidated and verbally abused to the point that she had a severe panic attack and had to be assisted by street medics. The woman who attacked her (and I shan’t post details with respect to the victim’s safety) responded to criticism by labeling the victim “transphobic” and used the slurs “cis” and “TERF” in the following tirade of harassment instigated by her and her comrades. The victim is understandably shaken and outraged by the way she was made to feel unsafe at a protest that claims to support women.

Her outrage is not enough. There should be public outrage.

This is by no means the first time radical women have been attacked in activist spaces (NOTE: do not confuse with the small and innapropriately named socialist/liberal feminist group Radical Women, who also have a significant presence at the annual counter-protest, and have penned articles for MRA websites). And it will by no means be the last. But this is the prevailing issue with the Left.

Another example of bullying radical feminists out of political spaces can be seen in this statement from Anarchist Affinity, an anarcho-communist fringe group based in Melbourne. This vagueblog statement was issued  in response to an event I organised earlier this year called ‘A Woman’s Place is in the Revolution: Discussing Feminist Visibility in Radical Politics’. The event was a small discussion group of about 20 women  and its goal was to discuss strategies to make the Left safer for women with opinions. Not just RF women, all women. The discussion had literally nothing to do with gender criticism, the sex industry, or anything else that liberal feminists tend to get up in arms about. Demonstrating my point perfectly, AA and “non-affiliated” friends of theirs sent a slew of abuse to myself and the custodians of the space where the event was held, at one point threatening to organise a picket outside the building. After having witnessed one of their members assault a young man at another meeting, I felt it necessary to organise security for the evening. Thankfully none of their cronies showed up, but the fact that this was necessary should cause anyone with a brain to feel pretty concerned about the state of female visibility in the Left.

It is astoundingly obvious that the ostracisation radical feminists face from activist spaces has nothing to do with actual political ideology. Trotskyists are able to march alongside anarchists. Sex Party affiliates manage to attend events organised by anti-capitalists. But neither are apparently able to attend a protest attended by a few 20-something year old women who blog about women’s experiences under patriarchy. They’re doing what the patriarchy has done for years-Divide and Conquer. Why? No one is 100% sure, but I’d wager that it has something to do with a fear of women speaking up about their oppression and their experiences. What’s that called again? Muh-so…mis-oh..misogy….

So where does that leave radical women who want a part in the Left and radical politics? Proposals have been made to form an alliance that works within Leftist groups and provides a support network for outspoken women who have been intimidated for expressing their views (as well as women who have been too intimidated to express their views in the first place). This is a step in the right direction, in theory, and plans are currently underway here in Melbourne. Any woman who is involved in the online (or offline) radical feminist community knows the degree of sisterhood, safety, and solidarity that we can offer each other. The voices just need to get louder. We need to maintain a presence in political spaces and to focus on direct action. Patriarchy funnels down into the left and those misogynistic attitudes need to be challenged before we can move on to challenging society at large. Because feminism is one of the important “new” ideologies driving the Left forward, it’s about time those ungrateful little shits started treating it with the respect it deserves. Each “wave” of feminism has seen its similar struggles, but the Third Wave hasn’t properly happened until the most important struggle in feminist history has been won: prioritising women in the movement, and gaining respect for women within that movement itself.

no women

The Campaign for Women’s Reproductive Rights: Much like Tony Abbott’s cabinet, we can have one or two as long as they do as we say.