The More Things Change, The More They Stay the Same.

From “The Last Refuge of the Un-Australian” by Tony Birch:

“Recently, when a Pakistani migrant who had been granted permanent Australian residency in 1996 set himself on fire outside the federal parliament, as a result of his unsuccessful application to the Immigration Department to have his wife and child join him here, the Immigration Minister, Phillip Ruddock stated ‘it’s [self-immolation] not something we are used to or experienced with… sadly he sought to do so.’

“This man had done something that was very ‘un-Australian’. He had publicly expressed his grief and anguish at his treatment at the hands of Australian government officials. He had raised an issue that might tap away at all of those clichés of national foundation and celebration. It is not only ‘un-Australian’ to be, through experience, a whistle-blower against nation-building mythology. Simply ‘to be’ one of those who have been abused by the Australian nation is to be ‘un-Australian’.

“It is also ‘un-Australian’ to intern people without trial for up to four years, to subject people to months of isolation in solitary confinement. It is ‘un-Australian’ to remove those people to remote parts of the country where they cannot be visited by family or friends, to where the activities of the multi-national company that profits from their incarceration cannot be scrutinised by the media or the imprisoned’s legal representatives. It would be ‘un-Australian’ in the extreme to use water cannon, tear gas and truncheons against people imprisoned without trial, who are rightfully protesting about the abuse of their human rights.

“I cannot, as a trained historian, state this with empirical certainty, but it is a mathematical probability that it is ‘un-Australian’ to disparage and devalue the worth and lives of refugees by claiming, without evidence, that many of them ‘may be’ associated with ‘terrorists’. Likewise, the propagandist need to focus more closely on the supposed threat that the approximately 8,000 ‘illegal’ arrivals in the last ten years post to ‘our way of life’ rather than overturn a policy that contributed to more than 350 people drowning trying to get here in just one year (1999), is somewhat ‘un-Australian’ I would think.

“But of course the representatives of the Australian people, the federal government, engage in such behaviour on a daily basis. To ensure that such practices are not perceived as ‘un-Australian’ we not only transfer refugees to remote areas of the country, we un-people those who arrive here by reconfiguring them as ‘the ungrateful’, ‘the terrorist’, ‘the queue-jumper’ and legally as ‘the non-person’. ‘We’ can then protect Australia and ‘our way of life’ against the alien invader as ‘we’ did against ‘the Aborigines’ in the past, because they failed to adhere to the doctrine of terra nullius by unpatriotically refusing to reclassify themselves as ‘non-people’, in claiming their rights and identity as indigenous people.

“The Department of Immigration lists 37 countries that it regards as a threat to Australia, in that visitors who arrive from these countries, by boat or otherwise, are regarded as the most ‘at risk for overstaying their visa’. The countries listed include Bangladesh, Chile, India, Poland, Samoa and Vietnam. Most are non-white and none are Anglo or English speaking (as a first language). And yet approximately 20 per cent of arrivals to Australia who overstay their visas are British. There is no mention of Britain in the blacklisted countries. Nor do we see the fair skin of the backpacker behind the barbed-wire of the detention camps…

“We have a situation in Australia today where we are witnessing the human rights abuses of many people. Aboriginal people continue to be abused as a result of the crimes committed by white Australia both in the past and contemporary society. The abusive treatment of refugees is similar to the treatment of Aboriginal people in the country in that they pose a threat which, more than being based on any material manifestation, either real or imagined, is a threat to a way of life erected on xenophobia, selfishness and a fear of difference.

“We must transform the culture of Australian life by screaming to our politicians that such an idea is genuinely un-Australian and that we will not tolerate it. And we must do this beyond the act of the political gesture. Activism can be a loaded word, but still, to be active in some way, to speak, to write, to march, to protest, to be angry and to put that anger into expression and action is a suitably un-Australian idea at this time.”

This was written… wait for it… in April 2001. More than ten years ago and, indeed, before the September 11 attacks, and nothing has changed. Being young and naïve, I didn’t realise there was as strong an anti-Muslim culture as there is today, just over ten years on. And it’s appalling to have it made aware that Birch’s words are just as poignant today as they were a decade ago.

Related: Melbourne Writers’ Festival: Beyond White Guilt.

My Response: Go Back to Where You Came From.

September 11, 10 Years On.

Cowboys VS. Aliens & Indians… Does it Really Matter? They’re All the Same Anyway, According to the New Movie.

Elsewhere: [New York Magazine] 9/11 Encyclopedia: Xenophobia.

What Makes a Good Person?

Recently, Erica Bartle wrote about her Christian angst on Girl with a Satchel.

She said her “newfound sensibility” has made her “hyper-sensitive” to all that is wrong in the world. “Why can’t everything just be nice and Christian?!” she bemoans.

I wrote in response in the comments section that I don’t think what she’s experiencing is an exclusively faith (in the religious sense of the world; I’m an agnostic, yet I still believe in a higher power of some kind and that all things that are meant to be will eventuate. I know atheists who, like George Michael, have faith.) -based problem.

Last week, a former colleague and Facebook friend wrote an anti-refugee status along the lines of “fuck off, we’re full”. Classy. I commented, saying that as the “lucky country”, we should be extending our resources and welcoming asylum seekers with open arms, as they have a legal right to seek asylum in whichever country they can gain access to which is safer than their own. To cut a long story short, a shitstorm ensued, and bigoted bogans far and wide chimed in to berate me and asylum seekers alike.

They claimed “boat people” were making their local kinders stop celebrating Easter and Christmas and that while people like me have to pay for my education, they get it for free. I don’t know where they get this misinformation (middle-right mainstream media, step right up), which is what I wrote, albeit in a more forceful manner, and was attacked personally for it.

There is a fine line between standing up for what you believe in and berating all others who don’t subscribe to the same school of thought. If bigotry means not being able to see the other side and thinking less of those on it, then call me one, because I just can’t see the reasoning behind being so uncaring and un-compassionate. (The downside to free speech.)

So if standing up for what you believe in and the rights of others makes you a “good person” by a lot of peoples’ definitions, which side makes you a “better” person? The side that wants to protect our country’s borders and focus our money and resources on people already in it, or the side that believes we should extend those privileges to those in need, no matter which country they hail from? And why isn’t the latter the more mainstream and accepted view?

Bartle writes that sometimes her hypersensitivity to issues not unlike the one I just mentioned makes her wail, “Why can’t I just be NORMAL?!”

What is normal, anyway?

If normal means having the prejudiced views of the friends of my Facebook friend and, indeed, the two main governmental parties in this country, then normal is something I do not want to be. From the last two and a half years of content Bartle has posted on her blog (not to mention the two years before I discovered GWAS), I doubt it’s something she would really strive for, either.

But, to be a woman of God means to “let go of the idea of your awesomeness, your pride and your talents” and “burning ambitions/dreams/desires”. Forgive me, but the “god” I believe in wants me to be the best I can possibly be at whatever I choose. (“God” is starting to sound an awful lot like “mum”.) I want me to be, too. There’s that pride thing Bartle’s talking about…

So does being a “good person” mean being agreeable, having no passion and being boring? I know some of these people and, to my mind, they mightn’t be bad people, but they’re not much brighter than “normal”, either. To be a good person you need to buck the status quo, and be both passionate and compassionate. These things make you anything but boring and “normal”.

But we see what these things lead to, and it’s anything but compassion.

Take the Mia Freedman/Cadel Evans saga, for example. Freedman has made a career out of giving her opinion on all things media- and woman-centric, which is exactly why the unwashed masses turned on her when she deigned to question the focus we put on sportspeople at the expense of other, perhaps more deserving, people.

Bartle includes an excerpt from Get Her Off the Pitch: How Sport Took Over My Life by Lynne Truss, in which the author writes that sport can sometimes be a waste of time (my thoughts exactly!) which, in turn, got me thinking about pack mentality, both in sport and in religion.

We’ve seen how mobs of sports fans engage in rioting, amongst other pack-like behaviour. Even the very act of cheering and booing your favourite/least favourite team in the stands is inherently mob-like. Not to mention the “group-bonding” sessions of gang rape and group sex amongst teammates. (This is not to say all sport is bad; it’s just not for me, and this is just one of the myriad of reasons why.)

Religion, I believe, also encourages such actions. The use of deities to justify all manner of wars, massacres, executions, terrorism, riots, rapes, murders, stonings, and law reform, amongst many others. (This is not to say all those who are religious subscribe to such extremities, but I do believe that all organised religion is a crock.)

And we, as a society, accept such behaviours because they are hidden under the cloak of Godliness, or Australianess. (More on what is considered Australian and un-Australian tomorrow.)

So, this has gotten a little off-track, but I suppose I’m putting the question out there: “What makes a good person?” Obviously, this is a never-ending debate, but I do know that being one is certainly not dependent on religion or “patriotism”.

I think it’s dependent on being courageous, compassionate, respectful, which in turn generates respect, standing up for what you believe in and having the courage of your convictions, staying true to yourself, standing up for the underdog and yes, being a little bit proud and selfish every now and then. ’Cause no one respects a “yes” (wo)man.

Related: In Defence of Mia Freedman.

Elsewhere: [Girl with a Satchel] I’m a Christian, Get Me Outta Here!

Guest Post: London’s Burning—A Riot By Any Other Name?

Last month, London burned.

Rioters took to the streets and for five days, smashed, robbed and burned their way through a number of suburbs. News footage showed teenagers being robbed by groups of people pretending to assist them, restaurant goers being mugged over dinner by large mobs, vigilante groups taking to the streets for justice, and thieves trying on shoes before stealing them from looted shops.

Buildings which had stood for over 150 years were burned to the ground, and riot police were ignored or attacked by large mobs of young people who sacked the streets.

The riots, which caused over a billion dollars worth of damage, saw more than 1000 people arrested and left five people dead, have been blamed on criminal gangs, social networking sites and a lawless generation of young people who lack respect.

British Home Secretary, Theresa May, has denounced the riots as being acts of “sheer criminality.”

“The violence we’ve seen, the looting we’ve seen, the thuggery we’ve seen—this is sheer criminality,” she said, and by saying so she has, like so many others, simplified the issue to deal with it in the simplest terms possible. But these watery explanations about lawless youths do not fully address the issues of rioting and are rife with problematic reasoning and contradiction.

A perfect example of the problems with this type of reasoning can be found in an Australian publication which discussed the London riots. The Herald Sun’s Andrew Bolt took a similar approach to May, and attributed the violence that took place on the streets of London to a loss of family values in a contemporary world. (But let’s be honest here; what does Bolt not blame to a loss of family values?) Missing no opportunity to push his conservative agenda, Bolt claims that in the London riots, “What we saw was the kind of people hidden in the cavities of decaying society” and that these people, or at least what he refers to as its “underclasses”, are “lazy, resentful and greedy, being handed everything from the food on their plate to the plasma in the corner”.

He then gives a number of examples of the youths participating in the riots, documenting their crimes, and painting a picture of a generation of young people who are out of control. But herein lies the first contradiction; if young people are the main perpetrators of these types of crimes, as Bolt highlighted by giving examples of 11-year-old children participating in the riots, how can he object to them being given the food on their plate, or even a plasma television? (Not that I have ever heard of the poor being given free plasmas anywhere in the world, now that he has mentioned it). Since when do we not feed our children, or expect them to provide for themselves? And does it really seem logical to blame the riots on the poor for being spoiled with food? Doesn’t it seem more likely that there may be something more to this story? Rather than simplifying the issue by blaming riots on a loss of family values and a delinquent underclass, it would be better to engage with the complex history of rioting that exists across Europe and with the unique psychological effects of rioting, particularly on children and young people, who live in areas of diverse socio-economic backgrounds, and who experience high levels of feelings of relative depravation as a consequence.

Relative deprivation is basically where someone feels as though that have been deprived, not in worldly comparison, but in comparison to affluence or privilege that surrounds them on a daily basis, and which they are unable to access. It is becoming increasingly common across the Western world, and other places, as the global division between rich and poor becomes wider and as wealth becomes more visible through the media. Relative deprivation is an increasingly important phenomenon, which has been linked not only to rioting, but to other acts of violence and civil unrest, including terrorism. The psychological impacts of relative deprivation need to be further studied and better understood, particularly when “blaming-the-poor” narratives keep appearing in articles like Bolt’s, potentially adding more fuel to the civil unrest fire by ignoring the phenomenon.

Having noted the importance of feelings of relative deprivation, it is also quite plausible that the deprivation felt by these young rioters, may not only be relative. The social and political changes which have occurred in London over the past 12 months, and which have had negative consequences for many Londoners, are also likely to have had a significant impact on the rioters. One of the most notable in this case is police violence.

Riots are not typically the acts of criminals, although criminals have been known to capitalise on them; rioting has been used since before the seventeenth century by groups and individuals to express civil unrest and negative feelings toward authority figures. Although usually triggered by a particular event, riots occur after ongoing and sustained civil unrest.

The catalyst which triggered the London riots was the suspicious police shooting of Mark Duggan, an unarmed civilian, killed by police. One witness has alleged Duggan was shot at close range while pinned the ground by the police, and although this account is far from substantiated, it is known the Duggan was unarmed at the time of his death and that the bullets which the police claimed were fired at them, came from a police gun. The riots began as a peaceful vigil outside a police station, where friends and family of Duggan gathered to demand police adequately explain the circumstances of Duggan’s death. Other people, not involved in the vigil or immediately known to the Duggan family, triggered the riots by setting fire to a police car when police refused to acknowledge the vigil or address the mourning family. From then on, the riots rapidly escalated and spread throughout the city, far removed from their peaceful beginnings, and without being condoned at any point by Duggan’s family.

It is important to note that although Duggan’s shooting was the catalyst to the riots, it was not an isolated case. Police violence has become an increasingly troubling problem for the English over the last few years, particularly since the introduction of tasers in 2004, and in the last 12 months alone London Police have been widely criticised for a number of violent acts, including the brutalising of a non-violent student protester with cerebral palsy by fully-riot-gear-equipped police officers, who dragged him from his wheelchair (his only source of mobility) and then hauled him across the pavement. Similar acts of police aggression can be seen even after the riots, in the deaths of Dale Burns, 27, Jacob Michael, 25, and Philip Hulmes, 53, who all died within the last month, following incidents in which police used either tasers or pepper spray. In each case, there were at least eight officers arresting a single person, and in Michael’s case, there were 11 police present after Michael himself called them for help. During his arrest for an unknown crime, he was pepper sprayed, pinned to the floor, handcuffed and then beaten for up to 15 minutes by all 11 officers before being arrested. Two hours later, Michael died in police custody.

The purpose of presenting this evidence of police violence is not to vilify police and champion rioters, but rather to demonstrate that the issues which have contributed to the civil unrest that led to riots are complex and widespread. It also highlights that there are significant policing issues which need to be addressed in the UK and which are, by Scotland Yard’s own admission, causing a “growing anti-police sentiment” which is marked by “fury” and that during the riots “there was an atmosphere of absolute hatred towards the police and the establishment—the government—because they feel abandoned, the cuts in youth services, the cuts right across the board.” The increase in police violence is, in turn, leading to an increase in civil unrest. It is no coincidence that one day after the death of Hulmes, a marked police car was petrol bombed while patrolling in North London; just as it was no coincidence that riots ensued after the shooting of Duggan.  The same thing happened in Tottenham in 1985 with riots against racially motivated police violence and it will happen again, if these issues are not addressed.

Police violence was a trigger for the London riots, but not the only cause of civil unrest in London. Other recent and highly inflammatory occurrences include the rising unemployment rate (just under 8% of the population cannot find a job in England, a figure which continues to rise), an openly corrupt media blatantly flaunting basic human rights and the law (see billionaire Rupert Murdoch and his cronies escaping criminal charges after deleting vital evidence in the murder investigation of Milly Dowler, where phone messages were deleted by journalists in the first few days after Milly’s disappearance. As a result friends and relatives of Milly concluded wrongly that she might still be alive.), the rapidly increasing cost of living (the cost of a loaf of bread has tripled in the last five years), and the extremely fast-rising cost of education (the cost of a university degree has also nearly tripled in England in the last year). These are but a few of the troubles ailing England; it is not surprising that young people might feel helpless and angry, or that they might not care if their actions disrupt plans for the Olympic games, or upset local diners and traders.

Furthermore, that the riots spread so far so fast doesn’t mean London’s “underclasses” are felonious criminals. It is well known that once a riot begins, individuals begin to exhibit pack-like behaviours in the heightened excitement and highly charged atmosphere. Young people and children are particularly prone to this psychological influence, which makes it very easy for them to be caught up in the activities of the crowd, and similarly, it can be difficult for them to associate their actions with concepts of right and wrong.

Yet little of the reporting that has taken place about the London riots has yet to examine rioting in London, and indeed the wider context of Europe, and to examine the social, political and psychological aspects of rioting, not to mention the economic considerations, which most certainly would have played their part.

England has a close history with rioting, which spans over centuries, and it is not now, nor has it really ever been, merely the acts of criminal groups who opportunistically pray on an unsuspecting society. Instead, riots reflect a much deeper and wider frustration, which in 2011 was triggered by episodes of police violence. The areas which were most badly damaged in the riots are those which have high levels of poverty, and relative deprivation, where the rich and the poor share spaces as neighbours, living in deep contrast of one another. Blaming the poor for being spoiled is like saying “let them eat cake.” It didn’t work for the French all those centuries ago, and it won’t work now.

—Tessa Keane.

Related: Life Below the Poverty Line is a Horrible Place.

Elsewhere: [The Age] London Riots Spread as Police Lose Control.

[Herald Sun] Rioters Show a Nation Split & Family Values Gone Forever.

[CBC News] London Riots Erupt After Fatal Police Shooting.

[London Progressive Journal] Jody McIntyre: Victim of Police Brutality & Media Distortion.

[The Guardian] Man Does After Taser Arrest Near Bolton.

[The Guardian] Notting Hill Carnival: Tensions High After Recent Deaths, Say Police.

[The Observer] Notting Hill Carnival Curfew Plan is “Pie in the Sky”, Warn Police on Ground.

[The Guardian] Missing Milly Dowler’s Voicemail Was Hacked by News of the World.

[The Telegraph] London Living Costs on the Rise.

Event: Melbourne Writers’ Festival—Beyond White Guilt.

The final day of the Melbourne Writers’ Festival brought Beyond White Guilt, taken from the name of author Sarah Maddison’s Beyond White Guilt: The Real Challenge for Black-White Relations in Australia and hosted by Tony Birch.

Maddison and Birch spoke about the crux of Maddison’s book, published in June—guilt and shame—and how they can both be “deeply personal experiences” in the way we look at race relations in Australia.

The absence or a certain “whitewashing” of black history in Australia can induce guilt, a feeling of “sick” and “anxiety”, and can “immobilise” us in striving for a more equal Australia.

On this, Birch spoke about being honoured by the Victorian East Timorese community* for doing not a whole lot other than sitting in front of the TV and thinking, “how awful”.

I think a lot of Australians feel this way, whether it be watching World Vision ads on TV, seeing homeless people begging in the street, or watching boats crash and people perish as they try to seek asylum in Australia (although, from the barrage of “fuck off, we’re full” jibes in response to that tragedy, perhaps it is the minority of Australians).

Maddison spoke of Australia’s roots as “a land of people who dig stuff up and chop stuff down”; an “Aussie battler” sentimentality, if you will. And I think that mentality lends itself to the bigotry we express towards the “other”, ie. people trying to get a “free ride” as asylum seekers, the poor and Indigenous on welfare, the homeless, the disabled, etc.

Unfortunately, when this kind of attitude rears its ugly head, such as in the Redfern and Cronulla riots, and the inaugural Indigenous protesting of Australia Day in 1988, as Maddison mentioned, it usually pits “true blue Aussies” against un-Australians. (Birch wrote a 2001 article entitled “The Last Refuge of the Un-Australian”, which is available for download from the University of Melbourne’s website.)

Whichever way you put it, none of us are truly happy with our country. Lefties abhor the way our environmental and human rights sensibilities are heading, whilst conservatives want to stop the boats, abortions, taxing the rich etc. One thing I think we all can agree on, as Maddison noted, is that our current government sucks.

Birch asked, “How are we going to love our country wholly?” An Aboriginal elder in the audience suggested Maddison’s book become compulsory reading for all Australians as a solution. One thing’s for sure: like feminism, we’ve got a long, long way to go, baby.

*Updated 09/09/11: The original version of this post cited Birch as being honoured by a Papua New Guinean community. In actual fact, it was the East Timorese community of Victoria.

Related: Cowboys VS. Aliens & Indians… Does It Really Matter? They’re All the Same Anyway, According to the New Movie.

My Response: Go Back to Where You Came From.

It’s Not Easy Being Green: The Latest Trend in Discrimination.

Melbourne Writers’ Festival: A Long, Long Way to Go—Why We Still Need Feminism.

 

Event: Melbourne Writers’ Festival—Never, Ever, Again: Why Australian Abortion Law Needs Reform by Caroline de Costa Book Launch.

Last year’s Melbourne Writers’ Festival was pretty lackluster, and I didn’t attend any events.

This year, however, is jammed packed with hard-hitting seminars, news-related talks and all-day workshops. There are more events I’m interested in than there is money in my pocket.

But to kick things off was a free, no-bookings-necessary book launch at ACMI’s The Cube on Friday afternoon for Caroline de Costa’s second edition of Never, Ever, Again: Why Australian Abortion Law Needs Reform (review to come in the next few weeks).

Honestly, I didn’t think I’d heard of de Costa before, and just saw the word “abortion” and knew I had to attend!

However, when the author began speaking about the abortion drug RU486, I remembered reading her work a few weeks ago on MamaMia, and featuring said article in “On the (Rest of the) Net”. It is an article I recommend checking out wholeheartedly.

In this article, De Costa asserts that we need to increase sex education and access to contraceptives in order to bring Australia’s high abortion rate down.

In de Costa’s address at the event, she said no woman enjoys having an abortion and that there’s “no such thing” as “pro-abortion”, an assertion that I don’t 100% agree with, but I do think it is a damaging label pro-lifers sometimes paint pro-choicers with.

Ultimately, de Costa says we “should be concerned about the health and safety of every pregnant woman” as opposed to the biologically dependent mass of “unwanted tissue” in her body.

The other speakers at the event—the MC whose name I didn’t catch, long-time pro-choicer Dr. Jo Wainer, former Minister for Women’s Affairs from 2007 to 2010, Maxine Morand, and Dr. Chris Bayly from the Royal Women’s Hospital—reiterated de Costa’s sentiments in her book, that the “hidden business that is women’s business” of abortion needs to be destigmatised and legalised in order to increase access to safe pregnancy terminations.

Finally, the revised edition of the book includes an extra chapter on the Queensland trial of Tegan Leach and Sergie Brennan, who were charged with procuring an illegal abortion in 2009 when they purchased the drug RU486.

Dr. Wainer noted that when Leach was on the stand being questioned as to why she felt the need to abort her baby, it was the “21st century equivalent of putting women in the stocks”. Or burning at the stake for her “crimes”, if you will.

It’s something that, as the book’s title suggests, should happen never, ever, again.

That’s why abortion law in Australia needs to be reformed.

Related: Grey’s Anatomy Final Asks “When Does Life Begin?”

Private Practice: Pro-Choice?

Elsewhere: [MamaMia] RU486, Sex Education & Contraception. That’s All We Need.

[MamaMia] The Couple Facing Jail Because They Tried to “Procure an Abortion”. Hello, Queensland? It’s 2010.

[Televisual] The Changing Economics of the TV Abortion.

Image via Melbourne Writers’ Festival.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

 

“If Male Superheroes Posed Like Wonder Woman.” [The Bleeding Cool, via Jezebel]

“An Open Letter to Fred Nile”, member of the Christian Democratic Party, who said the baby being expected by Federal Finance Minister Penny Wong and her partner, Sophie Allouache, has “human rights” and should not be brought up in a home with two mummies. [MamaMia]

The anti-child-model argument. And it’s a good one. [The Guardian]

The navel-gazing of the Gen Y writer. [Harvest Magazine]

Latoya Peterson “On Being Feminism’s ‘Ms. Nigga’”. [Racialicious]

The old Hollywood deception that was Rock Hudson. [The Hairpin]

The case for spoilers. I’ve been guilty of giving away the ending of movies and TV shows, saying things like “Oh yeah, and then it grows back” about Jessica’s broken hymen in her first sexual encounter—as a human or vampire—with Hoyt on True Blood, when I asked a friend which episode they were up to. Oh, you haven’t seen it? Whoops! [Jezebel]

The (Real Life) Help. [Jezebel]

And if The Help, the DSK case and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s love child have taught us anything, it’s that domestic workers are treated like shit. But hope may be on the horizon… [The Houston Chronicle]

As per Beyonce’s suggestion, a new word for feminism: equalism. Though one suggestion seems to have been submitted by Voltron… [Jezebel]

Where have all the good men gone? Not posting on Twitter thread #reasonstobeatyourgirlfriend and not being all “Post Gender Normative”, that’s for sure! [Tiger Beatdown, McSweeney’s]

Reproductive rights, consent and organ/egg donation. [Feministe]

Feminism and superheroes conference in Melbourne? So wish I was there! [The Age]

Six myths about terrorists. [MamaMia]

It’s (not) all about popular(ity) at Girl with a Satchel.

Rachel Hills on motivation and the fear of failure. And success! [Musings of an Inappropriate Woman]

Classism on True Blood. [Tiger Beatdown]

Caroline Da Costa on why we need RU486 (the “abortion drug”). [MamaMia]

A step in the right direction to welcoming asylum seekers to Australia. [MamaMia]

Still with asylum seekers, along similar lines as my post this week. [The Punch]

Larry David as “feminist hero”? [Jezebel]

“Revolution” is what we call riots we like:

“… Guilt ridden white first-world bloggers… love protests in Syria and Iran and elsewhere because they can cast those people, members of an alien culture, race, and religion, as the perfect representations of resistance while totally stripping them of the actual thorny reality of political rage. Theocratic preferences are stripped away; violent behaviour… is ignored; the re-instantiation of sexist Islamic doctrine within the structures of protest movements are conveniently elided. This is the way of all patronising attitudes from the overclass towards resistance: in order to preserve its romanticized view, it has to occlude the particular grievances and goals that make the protest meaningful in the first place….” [L’Hôte]

In the wake of the death of a toddler attacked by a pitbull, The Punch’s Anthony Sharwood decrees “pitbulls should all be killed. Every last one. It really is as simple as that.” Hmm, not sure I agree…

Do zoos have a place in 2011? [The Punch]

This profile on 2012 Republican presidential frontrunner Michele Bachmann makes me want to pray to the God she so staunchly believes in that there’s still a little bit of sense and belief in President Obama left in the U.S. [The New Yorker]

Image via Jezebel.

Asylum Seekers: Have a Little Compassion.

Late last month an inquiry was launched into the high rates of self-harm and suicide attempts at detention centres across Australia.

Add to this the rioting and hunger strikes at detention centres in Queensland and Darwin, amongst others, and it’s a sorry state of affairs for asylum seekers in Australia.

Those who see asylum seekers as “illegals” when, in actual fact, anyone has the legal right to flee to another country to seek asylum, are probably reasoning that they brought this on themselves, that they shouldn’t expect to come into our country and be given a free ride, exempt from the laws “legal” citizens abide by.

If anyone saw Go Back to Where You Came From, the softening of Cronulla lifeguard Adam Hartup was immediate after he visited men on their final appeal to gain asylum at Villawood detention centre. He relayed the story of one man who said if he wasn’t granted asylum he would have to kill himself because he couldn’t return to his home country, where he would be killed anyway. What other option do these people have?

When you’re caged like an animal (and I don’t even believe in caging animals. Wait, does the zoo count?) and treated like you’re guilty for exerting your legal right to flee a dangerous country, there’s probably not a light at the end of the tunnel in sight.

While I don’t agree with rioting, we can’t let a few “bad eggs”, so to speak, influence the way we view the majority of detainees in detention centres, who are waiting quietly to have their legal right to seek asylum recognised.

Related: My Response: Go Back to Where You Came From.

Elsewhere: [ABC Lateline] Detention Centre Self-Harming Prompts Inquiry.

[The Age] Police Use Tear Gas to Quell Riot on Christmas Island.