Archive for the ‘Federal politics’ Category

99th Down Under Feminists’ Carnival

August 5, 2016

Down Under Feminists' Carnival logo

I’m excited to be hosting the 99th Down Under Feminist’s Carnival. This is my third time collating – and I’m always blown away by the quality and strength of the feminist blogosphere. Feminist writing in New Zealand and Australia is so broad and diverse and it’s always exciting to find out what’s being written and analysed on a whole range of topics. Get your browsers/phones/e-readers ready because there’s a lot of fabulous and interesting and inspiring material to get through!

I’ve been a bit slack as a blogger. I must admit to being generally disengaged with politics and to reading feminist politics for a while now. I haven’t meant to go so long between posts. There are a variety of reasons for my blogging absence (mostly: small children; but also: needing to save my mental health by not turning on the news!) but engaging with all these amazing writers, I’m inspired to get back to blogging again. Please, someone, hold me to this.🙂

But enough waffle from me. Lets get onto the good stuff. Without further ado, I present the July 2016 DUFC. Get your reading gear around these awesome links:


  • Racism in Australia seemed to reach new lows of atrociousness this month, with 4 Corners exposé of the assault, tear-gassing and abuses of indigenous children in a Northern Territory youth detention centre. This article from the SMH outlines some of the horror if you haven’t heard about it already. Gillian Triggs calls for Inquiry into Youth Detention Abuse. [warning: graphic images in that article] Triggs, who is President of the Human Rights Commission has argued that this kind of systemic abuse in NT are part of a wider culture of human rights abuses and cover-ups currently occuring in Australia, both onshore and offshore detention.
  • With the Federal election, we’ve also seen the return to the political spotlight of Pauline Hanson. At Daily Life Celeste Liddle writes about the current political climate and why We shouldn’t be surprised by the return of Pauline Hanson. Liddle writes:

    Since Hanson’s first election, rather than simply avoiding backlash, politicians have actively drawn on the racist undercurrent of Australian society to win elections. The deliberate focus on “stopping the boats” following the Tampa Affair in 2001 is one jarring example of this happening. Worse, it proved successful and has become a standard tactic used by both the Coalition and the Labor Party in subsequent elections.

  • No Place for Sheep responds to political commentator Waleed Aly’s discussion of primetime chatshow host Sonia Kruger’s bigoted comments about banning Muslims from migrating to Australia: Pray for the Bigots.
  • Ann Deslandes wrote a fantastic piece for New Matilda about white privilege in Australia and abroad, in the context of the upcoming Olympic Games: Australia Packs Its Prejudice And Heads To Rio.
  • Celeste Liddle writes at Daily Life: Magnolia Maymuru wasn’t the only Aboriginal finalist of Miss World Australia. Why weren’t the others recognised?


  • At Flip That Script is a great post about inappropriate adult comments about children. I love this piece because I’ve heard quite a few of the Yucky Adult Comment examples, usually while at the playground with my little ones, and I never know what to say… I’m guilty of just leaving an awkward silence, or smiling along while thinking “did you really just say that?” when hearing comments like these. Let the children play. Don’t let yucky adult comments get in the way.
  • Over at Wonderously Other is a lovely piece about how hard it can be returning to paid work after having a baby: The Life of a Working Mother.
  • There’s a fantastic piece at ABC News site by Samantha Selinger-Morris titled Scratching beneath the surface of motherhood regret. This one really struck a chord with me, and it’s a topic that I’ve pondered writing about myself for this here blog, but because it’s so personal I keep putting it off. However, the personal is political, as the saying goes, so one day I will write about my own experiences of maternal ambivalence (as the above article calls it) and how tricky it feels to even admit to that in public. Someone needs to hold me to it though because I will procrastinate.
  • Elswhere, at Cesca at MyFlatPackLife discusses how patronising and irritating it is to be judged for formula-feeding your baby: Bottle vs Breast.


  • Over at Write Handed, Sarah Wilson writes a very personal piece about how phoning Lifeline helped her and why New Zealand funding for it should be reinstated: Lifeline: It Literally Is
  • Scarlet Harris writes at SBS about the positives of singledom: Sometimes it’s just easier being single
  • Ginger Gorman writes a a touching tribute to blogger Elizabeth Caplice, who passed away last month from cancer: ‘I get to do it on my terms. I like that’. I hadn’t come across her blog before but her words are powerful and honest and although I’ve not read many of her posts, I’m sorry to hear of her death.



  • Van Badham writes passionately about her appearance on the ABC’s panel show, where she didn’t get a chance to argue the need for greater funding and support services for women fleeing domestic violence, because one of the panellists kept interupting and making it all about himself: I’m still reeling from Q&A but not because I was called hysterical
  • Jane Gilmour published her piece about the privitisation of the 1800-RESPECT crisis hotline for domestic violence because no news sites considered it newsworthy enough. That says a lot. Great and important read here: 1800 RESPECT, risking women’s lives for ideology and “women’s issues” in the news. Gilmour writes:

    Earlier this year, 1800 RESPECT asked the government for an additional $2.1 million from the government to provide resources to meet rapidly increasing demand. Instead, the Turnbull government has decided to spend $5 million ($2.9 million more than 1800 RESPECT need) to contract Medibank Health solutions to provide a triage service.
    This new service, announced by the Department of Social Services (DSS), is not only predicted to dilute services to women in crisis, but it also poses serious, potentially life threatening, risk to privacy of data collected by the newly contracted provider, and significant safety risks to counsellors working on the hotlines.


  • In this post Please Call Me Disabled, Sarah Wilson writes beautifully about the process of accepting and identifying oneself as disabled.
  • Blogger WillowDove urges people to consider wheelchair accessibility issues: Wheelchair ramps 101 – first steps. She writes:

    If you are inviting someone who uses a wheelchair somewhere that they don’t know, but you do (or to your house/workplace), volunteer to talk about the access. Think about the venue and your guest ahead of this conversation but try not to draw too many conclusions for yourself. See yourself as the constable gathering information for the detective.


  • Over at Kill Your Darlings, Alexandra Heller-Nicholas writes about the latest Ghostbusters flick, which has three (gasp!) female leads: The first woman Ghostbuster. I particularly love this paragraph, especially for my new favourite word, misogybile:

    With all the hype surrounding Paul Feig’s women-fronted Ghostbusters reboot, you’d think by the volume of misogybile from the Internet’s self-appointed guardians of male nostalgia that some great crime had been committed in the hallowed realm of contemporary light entertainment.

That’s all from me for now. I hope you get as much out of reading these pieces as I have. A big thank you to everyone who helped me put this together by sending me relevant links.

Interesting in hosting a carnival? Want to know more about the DUFC? Check out How it Works

The next edition of the Carnival – the big One Zero Zero – is planned for 5 September, 2016: by Chally at Zero at the Bone. Please help her out by sending submissions to chally.zeroatthebone [at] gmail [dot] com.

Until next time, femmo friends. Pondering Pen signing out.

Re-entering the femmo blogosphere: Call for submissions

June 11, 2014

Long time, no write.

My only excuse is parenthood, but I really should make more time for blogging because when I get into it I enjoy the writing process (well, some of the time). If nothing else, blogging is good for venting, and there’s certainly been plenty to get angry about recently. Especially since the government released their appalling Budget, which – as far as I can tell – goes out of its way to target the poor, the sick, the unemployed, the vulnerable… and make their lives more difficult.

I think I end up not writing about these political issues because I get so cross that I feel like any critique I write on here will end up sounding like a helpless crazy rant.

Anyway, the reason I write today is not to rage against or critique the pitfalls of contemporary Australian politics, but to announce that I’ll be hosting the 74th DUFC (Down Under Feminists Carnival)!!

The carnival is a monthly round-up of the best feminist blog posts from Australian and New Zealand writers. I have hosted it once before, way back in 2011: the 42nd edition.

The 73rd is being hosted by Ju over at The Conversationalist: 73rd Down Under Feminists Carnival. Check it out for some great reading.

I need your help to collaborate the next edition. Throughout the month of June, please submit links to fantastic feminist blog posts that you think are worth sharing. At the end of the month I’ll collate the best and share them here on 5th July.

How to submit:
* Click this link and fill in the brief form, including the category the article falls under from the drop-down menu.

* If you can’t access the form, email me: drpen [dot] robinson [at] gmail [dot] com

I welcome any and all submissions. You can nominate yourself. You can nominate others. You can nominate new bloggers. The more you submit, the better the carnival.

For more info, and to read over previous DUFC carnivals, click: Down Under Feminists Carnival.

Down Under Feminists' Carnival logo

Do Bill and Greg have kids?

December 14, 2011

vintage political poster: Women's job is the home! Give her power over her job! Give her the vote!
[Image source: Sociological Images.]

Yesterday’s Sydney Morning Herald featured a story about the Federal cabinet reshuffle. While I certainly applaud the promotion of these talented female politicians, it is disappointing to see the newspapers focus on their roles as mothers.

The article in question is headlined, Gillard: ‘Nicola, Tanya and Julie understand the challenges Australian women face as they seek to build a career’

I quote:

Nicola Roxon, a mother of one, has become the nation’s first female Attorney-General. She has been replaced as Health Minster by Tanya Plibersek, a mother of three. The newest minister, Julie Collins, has three children. All the women are in their 40s.

It is only later in the article that the women’s achievements in previous portfolios are mentioned.

I like these letters from today’s paper in response to the article above.

Mira Crouch of Glebe writes:

It may be pleasing that our Labor Prime Minister will be so well advised on the bourgeois point of view of the woman building a career while having a family (“Gillard: Nicola, Tanya and Julie understand the challenges Australian woman face as they seek to build a career”, December 13).

However, Julia Gillard also needs to understand, and consider, that most Australian women (and men) work in jobs which do not provide opportunities for upward career paths. Nonetheless they, too, seek to build something – a decent life for themselves and their families (if any) in a community which respects and supports the run-of-the-mill person as much as an aspirational one. Lead the way, Prime Minister!

Another letter points out that these women can only manage to juggle the career-climb and motherhood because they earn a salary big enough to pay for childcare.

But my favourite letter is the following one, because it points out the double standards involved when we talk about female and male politicians…

Suzanne Marks of Dulwich Hill writes:

Thank you to the Herald for highlighting that the three women appointed to the cabinet are all mums and how many children they have. I’d also love to know if Bill Shorten and Greg Combet are dads and how many children they have. (I’m not interested in Mark Arbib). Or do we only learn this about men when they muck up their portfolios and leave politics to spend more time with their families?

Can you imagine a headline that read “Bill and Greg understand the challenges men face when building a career”? Firstly, if it was in the Australian press, they’d be referred to by their surnames Shorten and Combet, because they’re blokes. Secondly, no, we can’t imagine such a headline, because the struggle to combine paid work with being a parent is still thought of as something that only women face.

Feminists don’t let friends vote for Tony Abbott

August 6, 2010

With a Federal election campaign in full swing, one that is a contest between Australia’s first female PM and one of the most sexist and racist party leaders we’ve seen in a long time, it seems weird that I haven’t written much in this here blog.

Perhaps my lack of blog inspiration is due to my disappointment in Gillard, or perhaps it is because Abbott has the tendency to send me into such a despondent rage that anything I write about him or the election tends to be inappropriate for a public forum…

I think Wandering Person pretty much sums up the way I feel about the election campaign so far. She writes:

it’s been banal, completely lacking vision or inspiration. gillard and abbott are so busy trying to race one another to the centre they have both completely lost touch with reality. abbott’s grasp on the concept was tentative to begin with, but i guess i expected and hoped for more from gillard. not just because she is a woman, but that is a large part of it. i really do believe, and maybe i’m naive, that there’s something good and worthy underneath the partyroom warpaint, but it took her approximately one week to disappoint me with the lindsay-inspired bigotry of insisting that people who were worried about boatpeople weren’t racist or narrow minded and they had a legitimate point of view. i don’t care how expedient that is and how good it makes all the redneck cowards out there in the electorate feel, it’s just plain wrong. there are a few really crucial issues on which politicians should be leading the public not following their lowest common denominator bleating, and this is one of them. how about standing up and saying ‘we are a country built uneasily, but built nonetheless, on generations of migration, we have the space and the prosperity to accommodate people who are fleeing violence and persecution, it is our humanitarian duty to do so and i call on australians to take a good hard look at the utterly selfish motives underlying any desire to abrogate that duty.’

So while all this electioneering has been a little bit ho-hum, I am still continually angered by Tony Abbott, his comments and his policies. He’s trying to appeal to the “woman voter” but scratch the surface and it becomes clear how un-woman-friendly he is. To help assuage my anxiety and dread at the prospect of Abbott as PM, I’ve finally written something. The links below illustrate just a few reasons why the Mad Monk is not suitable PM material. Please leave further examples in the comments.

Some Further Reading (or Why you shouldn’t vote for Abbott):

Cox writes:

“It sounds good: six extra weeks and at replacement salary, not the minimum wage. But it’s not as good as it sounds. For a start, it entrenches sex discrimination as it doesn’t replace the carer’s pay unless they are the mother. This means it is not a real workplace payment and will do nothing to shift the current gender imbalance of parenting by encouraging more sharing of roles.”

Pondering the ‘boat people issue’

July 8, 2010

In reference to that boat people image with the tallship from a few years ago, I’d like to propose a new t-shirt:

If you can’t see the image above, it’s a photo of young Australian sailor Jessica Watson with the words “Boat Person” over the top in black lettering.

All this scare-mongering about “boat people” is making me sad. It’s like having Howard back in office. I am so disappointed that Gillard’s government is doing the ‘tough on refugees’ thing. Actually, disappointment is a massive understatement. But I am having trouble expressing just how angry I am about the way Australian governments continue to treat asylum seekers. I’m fed up with the way asylum seekers and refugees are demonised, while the racist, ignorant and fearful sections of our nation are pandered to by both major parties in the lead-up to the Federal election. It’s fucking disgusting.

For more information on this topic:

* Hoyden About Town has an Asylum Seeker Fact Sheet and Myth Buster.

* The Refugee Action Coalition has a number of campaigns and rallies.

* The Refugee Council of Australia has a facts + stats page.

* Archived online resources can be found at Refugees Australia.

Some commentary on this issue:

* Barrie Cassidy at The Drum writes, Gillard, asylum seekers and more appealing logic.

* And I love what John Birmingham had to say at his Blunt Instrument blog:

I know I am totally in the minority on this. That Gillard, and Abbott for that matter, are actually speaking to, and for, the majority on the boat peeps issue. But you know what? The majority can kiss my arse.

EDIT: I just found this piece in the National Times by Associate Professor Jane McAdam: Gillard’s asylum policy smacks of ‘burden shifting’.

She writes, and I agree wholeheartedly:

True leadership is not about pandering to insecurities based on ill-informed assumptions and fears, lurching from poll to poll. It is about transcending the chatter to educate, enlighten and take the nation forward through meaningful, informed conversation.

First female PM

June 24, 2010

There is a tonne of commentary around about this very significant day in Australian politics, and no doubt there will be much more to come. I don’t have time to write a lot about my thoughts right now, however I felt it important to mark the occasion.

I like this article, Gillard’s fruit bowl runneth over, by Josephine Tovey. She writes,

“Milestones like a first black president or first female prime minister are never simply fluke events, or just brought about by a hard-working or charismatic individual. They’re the culmination of years of hard work from all those that paved or pushed the way through.”

Regardless of whether you like or dislike Gillard, whether or not you think the leadership spill was a good idea, this is a pretty momentous day for Australia.