Bravo Destroy The Joint

Bravo Destroy the Joint for your apology.

I would like another favour from you. I was delighted when the site began. I have been a supporter of the “liberation” (and I use that word carefully) of women since 1952 when I was just eleven years old. I have followed the highs and lows of the yet continuous upward trajectory for the recognition of equality of opportunities for women across the world.

But, again, the movement has become diversifying rather than uniting.

We do not have one “enemy”. Whilstsoever there are unfortunate people who need help of any gender (or not) we must also acknowledge their needs and not count their needs as less important than ours are.

If we really want to be equals we must never forget the needs of men, and particularly young boys who are often cast into a role half way between a super hero and a super villain while they are very young. And many mothers must take some of the responsibility for doing this! How can we expect little boys to succeed in this mixed role whilst loving, “saving” and yet acknowledging as equals, their mothers and sisters. And I disagree with your stand that money should not be devoted to education and counselling aimed at preventing disaffected boys and men from becoming or continuing to be abusive, until all victims are helped. I think this is one of the best ways to help stop abuse and the two courses of action should be concurrent.

I have shuddered at your counting of dead women. I shudder for these poor women. I shudder, also, at the way you demean their lives and personalities as a statistic, in a way with which they may not agree.

I acknowledge any physical abuse as something totally abhorrent. I think such should be dealt with with the full force of the law. I freely acknowledge, as I think most men do, that men tend to be physically abusive more than women. I also know that men are usually much stronger than women. But they also  outnumber women as victims of physical abuse from other men. Their plight should also be considered.

But men are not completely on their own as being”controlling”. Men are not on their own as being physically abusive to children. Men are not on their own as being isolating. All these things are unacceptable. They totally are unacceptable when done by men. They are totally unacceptable when done by women.

I very much admire some of the work Annabel Crabb has done in describing how men and women can, and should, co-operate at difficult stages in life around care of children when needs are both very different for each gender and are very different from what has gone before and what will happen in the future for both genders. Traditional roles may have disappeared to a significant extent but they hang over our heads and are used freely by all of us when we want to have our way.

Come on Destroy The Joint. You started off so well. Be there for everybody in our continuing search for equality of opportunity for us all. Let’s not end up, as so many feminist liberation attempts have done, in playing the “blame game” when all we need to do is to both teach and learn to co- operate with one another with love and respect.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment



Storms came, great gums were felled
Crashing into saplings and natives
Ripped asunder with the force.

Time passed. Chain saws reverberated.
And neighbourhoods echoed
More crashing and grinding.

Then came the sprouting and greening.
Dead branches showing life,
Tiny fertile bumps appearing

Healing had started.

But nature, not forgiving, returned with hail.
In moments the fertile bumps were wiped
Leaves old and new shredded
More devastation.

The people moaned and groaned,
Fought their repairers, their insurance,
Searched not their souls –

But those soulless, leafless trees,
Regrew their shattered bumps,
Once more lived with shredded leaves
And grew.

We are the ones professing souls
That creation preferentially gave to us.
Yet, though with souls, we lose our way
In adversity.

The plants, with nought but search for life, just grow.
And bloom again despite their losses.
Spirit unvanquished with the storms.
Seeking existence.

Healing all, despite no soul.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment


Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

I Am Still A Feminist

I have been a feminist for over sixty years. In that time I have been in marches, have written extensively and have helped, at times, to break through some, but not all, of the barriers that have been put in my way by my gender.

It is not surprising, therefore, that I would resent someone cherry picking definitions so that people like me can be excluded from calling themselves feminists because of others’ opinions about what constitutes feminism.

We live in a fairly free society these days and freedom of opinion is very important, perhaps even more so than the question, “What is a feminist?” So I accept that we are all individually free to have whatever opinions we like, even about feminism. But anyone who identifies as a feminist surely should not be excluded by someone else’s opinion. Reading a long Twitter stream today has shown me that perhaps many would not consider me to be a feminist any longer as I have strong  views about some of the direction in which feminism has gone and especially on dress and dress codes. This particular Twitter feed morphed at one stage to an article about slut walks.

Whilst we can all think and act in in our own ways we are bound by the law. And assault of women (or men) and rape of women (or men) is against the law and is always a vile act. No so called “provocative” dress or mannerisms can be used to allege such illegal acts were invited. I think the slut walk makes a very good point about this.

However there is more to dress than meets the eye, to make a poor pun! As feminists in the late 50s and early 60s we waged war to be able to dress in ways that did not so sharply separate us out as women. We were not Victorian women who could not let our ankles show. We did not have to wear the burqa. But we had to wear skirts and never trousers, even as children. In many situations it was required that we wear hats and gloves. In formal situations where men had the ease of their uniformity of penguin suits we had to be dressed up in furs and furbelows! There was a brief period when a couple of women tried dressing in a “female” version of such a suit because they could not be bothered to go through the process of forever trying to get something new and different, but this plan was not well received.

So now days when Julia Gillard, Penny Wong or any of the other neatly suited women arrive at parliament they are not banned from the building as women would have been when I was young. One could not even wear trousers to lectures at university or to teach at schools if one was female.

The idea that we could have parity, even uniformity, with men as far as clothing was concerned was attractive, together with the concept that we did not have to ruin our feet with high heels.

Now the pendulum has swung, perhaps not surprisingly when one looks at it. From women’s bodies being seen as so desirable that women had to cover at all costs, through to my day when women were just regarded as a separate species who could not do some clever things as well as men could, through to the embrace of some uniformity, to now, when some young women seem to want to parade their “wares”, some alleging that even being slightly covered means we are ashamed of our bodies and of being female. This was never the case with men and I do not think it should be the case today with women either. There are times and places where one’s gender should be unimportant. There are other times and places where it may be significant and we can choose to dress with these distinctions in mind, as is the case with men.

We give a message with what we wear. Look at the ties of some men in government for example!!

But a pair of very short shorts with small lettering tattooed in cursive just below the curvaceous buttock is an invitation to come close and read. It is not an invitation to an assault, of course, but it is an invitation to think of the wearer in a sexual fashion. It is not an invitation to have her defend you in a court of law, to have her perform brain surgery on you or to repair your computer.

And I despair about what  messages these multiple images of sexualised clothing are sending to young girls.

I sometimes disagree with Collective Shout. I sometimes disagree with Destroy the Joint. I sometimes disagree when all the blame for women’s continued disadvantage is assigned to men alone. Yet on most things I agree.

And despite these strong opinions, I am still a feminist.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

I’m All Grown Up But Australia Isn’t

Like many of my friends when we were all 10 years old, I collected pictures of a three year old Prince Charles and his baby sister Princess Anne and put them in my “royal” scrapbook.

When I was 11 years old I practiced a dance routine in my class which we, with hundreds of other schoolchildren, were going to perform at the Sydney Showground for Princess Elizabeth and her spouse. Her trip was cancelled because of the death of her father, King George VI.

Then, when I was 13, she visited Australia. As a girl guide living in Cooma (because my father was working then as a Scientist on the Snowy Mountains Scheme) my troop was inspected by Queen Elizabeth II. She passed very close to me. But, disappointingly, she proved to be a very ordinary human being reminding me, in size, dress and demeanour, of my own mother. I listened in to the discussions between my parents as to how rude her consort had been to politicians, scientists and particularly people from overseas, when visiting the Laboratories which held displays that had been carefully prepared for edification. My overall impression was one of disappointment. Royals are just ordinary people.

I reflected then, though I too have unreliable memories just as Clive James has, on the times we had, as children, celebrated “Empire Day” on the stage of Hurstville Town Hall.

And by that ripe old age of 13, I wondered why Australia did all this. Why do we need either an English or any other King or Queen, I wondered.

By the time it was 1958 and I was 17 and at University, I was outspoken, as were many of my fellow students, about why we still sang God Save the King (in the version appropriately amended six years earlier) as our national anthem. Did we need a plea to an imaginary God I did not believe in, to save an ordinary little woman, quite pleasant in demeanour, who happened to be the Queen of another country? We began to stay seated during these renditions and in other ways to passively, without violent displays, show our opposition to this state of affairs. Only Thomas Keneally appears, now, to remember the demonstrations of those years.

As I began, in 1960, the study of Constitutional Law as a component of my Law Degree, I became incandescent with white rage when I read, for the first time, the Constitution of Australia. What a pathetic little document full of genuflecting to royalty. What were we doing allowing appeals from our High Court to the British Privy Council? Why were all these significant pieces of Legislation in this country actually Acts of the British Parliament?

That we needed to be a Republic was now very clear to me. I have been very open about that desire since then.

In 1984 we were thrown the sop of a new National Anthem. (I voted for a different one but nonetheless accept, with pleasure, the vote of the majority of the Australian people.)

And we need such a little amount of change to achieve our needs. We need to remove British monarchs from our Constitution and that is all. We can even keep the current name of our Head of State, ” Governor General”. We can keep that he or she is chosen by our Parliament. We just need to amend it so that the Australian Parliament also appoints the person they have chosen to the position and that such a person acts on its advice.

In 1999, at last, we held a referendum as to whether Australia wanted to be a republic. I walked the streets many days dropping information that supported the idea of a republic into letterboxes. I manned a voting booth. But we were tricked by the wording of the question and the scare tactics used by clever anti-republicans which indicated we would end up having an elected President just like the only large Republic most electors knew, the USA. The referendum was lost.

Although I had grown up and had been independent for 37 years, Australia had not.

Surely it has now in 2015? We have our own National Anthem. Decisions made by the highest courts in our land can no longer be appealed to British Courts. We now have Senior Counsel rather than barristers who follow their names with KC or QC, depending on the gender of the British monarch. There is no longer a British Empire but we can still remain a loyal member of the Commonwealth.

But we need one more Act to be passed for us by our mother country. We need to vote for our Parliament to ask the British Parliament to make that one final change to our Constitution. We will then gratefully say thank you, as an equal, to that mother country. We can add, if we like, “We are all grown up now and can be totally independent, but we still love you.”

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment

An Australian Republic

Recently I posted on my Facebook page the information that I had just joined the Republican Movement and I gave a short précis of my reasons.

My son’s daughters have a grandfather on the other side of their family, who made the following interesting comment on my post, from quite a different perspective.

“In my lifetime I have lived through the reigns of King George V, Edward VIII, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth. I think they (except Edward) were a positive influence. A constitutional monarchy is a stabilising influence even if it has little real political power. How many of the millions of ‘refugees’ are fleeing constitutional monarchies? Virtually none. All escaping dodgy, corrupt,dictator-dominated republics. I’ll stick with what we have. Better the devil…..”

As an older person myself I understand his position. I hold no negative feeling towards the incumbents of the monarchy (in fact I feel pity for their being forced into a form of life tantamount to prostitution). And I think his is the only realistic argument that can possibly be made against our becoming a republic. That is, that the past has worked for many people in Australia who still feel fondly about our Anglo heritage. That this heritage has given stability to many of us so there is no need to change it.

But, for me, this us no longer good enough.

My co-grandparent was born in England, has lived in East Africa and other parts of the world and is a man of tolerance and wisdom. He settled over forty years ago in Australia, which has been his home for since then. His daughter was born here. So he is part of the Australian experience from a wide global experience. But a relatively recent one.

He has not had to experienced that sense of responsibility for past Australian/Anglo ancestors, that some of us have had to do for many years.

I have lived through a white Australia policy. I have lived with the results of the imposition of an English monarchical system of life on Australia’s indigenous people, these people whom we did not even recognise in our cobbled together constitution, which was passed as an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom in 1900. This Act gives much more word space to Queen Victoria herself and her descendants than to a forward direction for Australia.

I have been told the experience of my own Grandparents, in WA who, in 1901 took a two mile walk to the nearest bush polling booth to vote opposite ways in the non compulsory referendum as to whether WA should become part of the Commonwealth. That became a great family tradition of a way to express, deal with and respect different viewpoints whilst valuing ones’ electoral obligations and opportunities.

When I was young lawyer appeals from our High Court still went to the Privy Council.

And I am tired of apologising for our colonial past, the worst period of the English tradition. I am tired of apologising for my ancestors’ roles here since the early nineteenth century. I am tired of apologising for our White Australia policy, for our glorification of foreign explorers, missionaries and despoilers here. I deplore the attitudes that led to the stolen generation and I do not glorify our part in some wars and other situations in which we should not have been involved.

In addition I admire many other democracies in other countries, particularly in some European countries that are very stable and in many ways more truly democratic than we are and yet do not have monarchies.

But most importantly I am tired of apologising for what we are doing right now. Even living in the Asian region, now being more attuned to nearby cultures than we were and more aware of the needs of our indigenous people, the Anglo centric values and ideas are still taken as being the norm from which others stray at their peril.

We need to recognise that we can stand on our own as a fantastic, democratic country that views itself as entirely independent. Only then can we truly value our very diverse population in this wonderful part of the world in which we all find ourselves.

Those who advocate for our present constitution try to contend that we are already an independent country which does not bow to England. How can this be if our Head of State is an English monarch?

And those who disagree with our becoming a republic, have you read this ” independent” constitution?

Please do so. You may be very  disappointed.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | Leave a comment

A Prayer

A Prayer to Teachers of Primary Ethics

I use the word “prayer” here in the old meaning from the Latin word “precari” meaning to beg or entreat.

My supplication here is not to a greater being but to the wonderful teachers in Primary Ethics.  I would like you to look deeply at the ethical content of what I am saying and its implications for the on going, and wonderful, Primary Ethics program. I write this as somewhat of an apologia for the inevitability of my having to leave the organisation in the not too distant future, after almost five wonderful years. I was among those who originally wrote a submission to the General Purpose Standing Committee No2 on the Review of the Exucation Amendment Act. concerning the provision of Ethics as an alternative to SRE.

There is no doubt in my mind that this excellent curriculum, the wonderful trainers and you devoted teachers who give up your time to deliver lessons to classes, do something very admirable for the children whose parents opt for them not to participate in the Special Religious Education classes in which schools, pursuant to the NSW Public Instruction Act, were and still are obliged to host in our public secular school system.

I do not live in the city or in the country but in a large regional area which contains multiple demographics. Whether this program can be provided in a school appears to me to be increasingly a question of division rather than inclusion. In areas in which parents have had their own opportunities for education and philosophic musings it is not too difficult to persuade them, and sometimes other interested community members, to teach Primary Ethics courses.

On the other hand in different areas, whilst some parents want it for their own children, they express reluctance, even fear, at the thought of teaching. Some others are turned off volunteering by their lack of access to computers or even the moderately sophisticated programs they have to master to access and deliver the classes. Some are deterred by the expense of printing out material, and one or two, who have been encouraged to do the training, have found it quite daunting in terms of time it takes them to prepare lessons.

Therefore once again we have, quite unwittingly, enhanced one group’s chance of opportunity over that of another group. The offspring of thinking parents who already discuss these issues with their children can provide yet another forum for their children and their friends. Less privileged schools have to continue to provide the children with supervision by teachers, unable to teach them, during that compulsory time spent at school when SRE is taking place. We are, although acting with every superb intention, making an even bigger divide between children who have opportunities and children who have not.

I can think of one answer. This is where my supplication comes in. When your own children move on to another school or if you have a little more time to give to the community, could you wonderful teachers, with all your experience, chose to help a disadvantaged school which has not been able to start a program? There are lots of them.

I am getting a bit long in the tooth, the reason I will be leaving in the not too distant future, but there is also a bright side. While I am part of Primary Ethics I cannot in any way campaign for Special Religious Education to be removed from Public Schools. Of course we must not prothletise as part of our provision of Ethics Classes in Schools. If an individual did so it would reflect badly on Primary Ethics. But I need to. I have been doing so all my adult life. This is an iniquitous situation we have been left with which has come from the age old negotiations for the state to provide the school system. It became a more ethical problem when education was made compulsory. I thought that the widespread adoption of Primary Ethics would ameliorate this inequity in our schools. Unfortunately it is unwittingly creating another and this can only be solved by having Ethics Teachers in every school or removing SRE.

I cannot in all conscience say to myself, “Just let it go and help where people are willing to get involved.” Children are too important.

So as I continue my last efforts to have Ethics teachers in our local schools I exhort all you wonderful teachers to keep up the good work but also find another school that needs you.
These are the only ways toward equality of opportunity.

So be it.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments