INTERNATIONAL WOMEN'S DAY IN VICTORIA - Some ' socialistic' women
8th March 2011
In 1908 International Women's Day (IWD) originated in demonstrations of women garment workers in New York. Also in 1908, women won the vote in Victoria - the Adult Suffrage Bill passed both houses on 24th November.
I thought you may find it interesting to see these two from an Australian (Victorian, in fact) perspective. The theme of socialism runs through both, though some suffragists didn't say they were socialist, rather, they called themselves 'socialistic'. Looking at this now, it is easy to see the connection of the Women's Movement and socialism (or socialistic ideas) and opposition to the women's movement and socialism (or socialistic ideas). After all, the liquor industry and the Victorian Employers Association were the suffragists major opponents.
I have taken these entries from Women Working Together, suffrage and onwards.
First, the vote:
'Women have never argued that women's suffrage would reform the world. They claim that the ballot is a powerful weapon with which to combat social and industrial wrongs.'
'Self government in the home and the State should be the inalienable right of every normal adult, so that just as women should not have to owe obedience in the home to a man, nor should she owe obedience to men, as a whole, as prescribed by modern society.' Muriel Heagney notes, State Library of Victoria
'There never was any opposition from the men in Victoria, as a whole, to women having political equality with themselves. The opposition came from only a few conservative men, from a section of the Press, and, for a brief period, from a few sheltered women, who, immediately after the women were enfranchised for the Commonwealth in 1902 were induced by those same conservative gentlemen to form a political organisation to work in the interests of the conservative party.' The Struggle for Woman Suffrage - summary of the Suffrage Movement in Victoria' presented to the WCTU Melbourne 1947 in Isabel McCorkindale ed Pioneer Pathways Sixty Years of Citizenship 1887-1947 Morris and Walker 1948
The opposition was strong, though. For example:
18..VICTORIAN EMPLOYERS ASSOCIATION
Elizabeth Coady: 'In 1903, the same year Vida Goldstein (with many other women) formed the Women's Federal Political Association (WPA), Frederick Derham ... moved once more to forestall the attempts to gain the vote for Victorian women ... Victorian employers moved to 'unite in defence of their interests' and the Victorian Employers Federation (VEF) was born.' 148-149 They are but Women The Road to Female Suffrage in Victoria Melbourne University Press 2008
In March, 1904, the anti-feminist Australian Women's National League (AWNL) was founded by Victorian Employers Federation. Its charter was for 'Throne and Empire, the Family and to combat socialism ...'In Taking Time Yvonne Smith said it 'espoused patriotism and the sanctity of the home ... In September 1905 there were 10,000 members and 83 branches and ... it formed an anti-socialist alliance with the Farmers' League. (See Chapter 4:6)
Elizabeth Coady: 'Derham approached Janet Lady Clarke "... with a request that she gather women who had signed the anti-suffrage petition to discuss the formation of a group that would continue to fight socialism and suffrage for women" 148-149 They are but Women The Road to Female Suffrage in Victoria Melbourne University Press 2008
On the 25th October 1907 it held the first Pan-Australian Conference of Anti-Socialistic Women's Organisations.
But it didn't stop the women:
Chapter 1 - The Vote or Bust 1788-1908
13..BUT STILL NO VOTE FOR WOMEN
Joan Curlewis: '(The) suffrage movement was more active than in other states, embracing such organisations as the Women's Christian Temperance Union and the Methodist Church, no doubt motivated by the same idea (temperance), and the Trades Hall Council, (which was) inspired by the socialistic ideal of the rights of women.' State Library of Victoria Joan Curlewis papers
CHAPTER 3 - 'United and Representative Agitation'
There were 18 suffrage bills presented to the Victorian Parliament from 1889 to 1908, 'a hardy annual', according to Vida Goldstein. It was a long campaign. Many agitated when they were young and persisted for decades - forty nine years of activism in Henrietta Dugdale's case.
CHAPTER 5 - Onwards to Success 1884-1908
10..WOMEN'S SUFFRAGE DECLARATION COMMITTEE 1906
In May 1908 Bent attended a gathering of Premiers of all Australian states. A motion came before them that the electoral laws of the states should be made uniform with those of the Commonwealth. Bent maintained that there was no possibility of making the electoral laws uniform while other states retained woman suffrage. Victoria, he said, was not going to do anything so 'foolish' as to give its women votes.
The Women's Suffrage Declaration Committee ... reacted immediately by calling on Bent to resign because of his arrogant assumption "that because he is opposed to woman suffrage, therefore the whole State is opposed to it".
"The Committee begs to remind the Premier (Bent) that the State has declared in favour of woman suffrage by overwhelming majorities at six general elections, that the Legislative Assembly has passed the woman suffrage Bill thirteen times in thirteen years, that now only two voices are required to pass it in the Legislative Council, and that five members of his own Cabinet are in favour." pp 159 Audrey Oldfield Woman Suffrage in Australia A Gift or a Struggle? CUB 1992
They finally won:
CHAPTER 5 - Onwards to Success 1884 -1908
1. This Act may be cited as the Adult Suffrage Act 1908 ... This act gave women over 21 years of age the vote. The main clauses of the act were: "In electoral acts the word 'male' was removed and replaced with the word 'persons' to include both men and women, and married women as well as single women would be allowed to vote". Public Records Office of Victoria
The Adult Suffrage Bill passed both houses on 24th November 1908. There was an Assembly election in 1908 at which women were not eligible to vote because the Bill had not received Royal assent, but after that - 31st March 1909 - they could vote!'
31 MARCH 1909 THE VICTORIAN ADULT SUFFRAGE ACT WAS PROCLAIMED
… Women had won the right to vote in Legislative Assembly elections, and equality with men at elections for the Legislative Council. Aboriginal women were not specifically excluded, but most people believed and acted as if they were and voting was not compulsory for Aboriginal people until 1982. Dr Pat Grimshaw public talk September 2008
Any person in receipt of 'charity' was excluded. That, in fact, was taken to mean Aboriginal people living on reserves.
Patricia Grimshaw: 'The 1908 Adult Suffrage Act did not explicitly debar Victorian Aboriginal women from voting, just as the 1855 constitution had not barred Aboriginal men. But, from 1901, Victoria was an integral component of a national political structure, and decisions made at a federal level influenced policies within the state. In this instance, a legal interpretation of the 1901 Commonwealth Constitution protected political rights solely for those Aboriginal men who already had their names on the state electoral roll. This decision put in jeopardy the political rights of Indigenous Victorian men who turned 21 years of age after 1 January 190;1, a debarment that flowed on to Indigenous women despite the apparent inclusiveness of the 1908 Act.' p.198 Victorian Historical Journal, Women's Suffrage Centenary Issue Volume 79 No 2 Nov. 2008
And International Women's Day connections with socialism, or 'socialistic ideas' as we tended to call them here:
CHAPTER 6 - Moving Into the Public World after winning the vote
2...START OF INTERNATIONAL WOMEN'S DAY
Our Women: "On a blustery March day early in the century (1908), citizens of New York gathered on the side-walks to watch and be stirred by an unusual sight in their city. Women members of the International Garment Workers' Union were demonstrating against their intolerable working conditions." Our Women, Union of Australian Women 10th Anniversary edition
They also demanded the vote an end to sweatshops and child labour.
Kay Hargreaves: 'These feminists broadened out, learning about, using, and including other aspects of the women's movement here and internationally - the International Garment Workers' Union demonstration in the US and the unions women formed here such as the Domestic Workers Union and the Tailoresses' Union which met in the Female Operatives' Hall at Trades Hall.' p 14 Women at Work Penguin 1982
Perhaps it was the 'socialistic ideas' that we talked about here, rather than straight socialism that the women in North America tended to refer to, that allowed our women to become more involved in other causes such as social justice and Aboriginal rights.
CHAPTER 9 - 1919 to 1935 - Surviving
27..1931 THEY CELEBRATED INTERNATIONAL WOMEN'S DAY (IWD)
Joyce Stevens: '1931 saw the first International Women's Day Marches held in Sydney and Melbourne. The Melbourne rally in 1934 was marked for its concern about Aboriginal rights, and Aboriginal activist, Anna Morgan, speaking at the rally, denounced 'the black flag of the Aboriginal Protection Board' and called for legal changes and access to social welfare.' Joyce Stevens Taking the Revolution Home Sybylla 1987
RESPONSE TO 'INTERNATIONAL WOMEN'S DAY IN VICTORIA'
8th March 2008
Hi Geraldine, All the information you provided is factually accurate but lacks feelings, passion and details of the women's lengthy campaigns. The only suggestion I can make is that emphasis on the struggle by the women lends passion to the content and ultimately proves to be victorious in the stuggle against the actions of the opposition. Without the inclusion of the detailed positive campaigns of the women, it is possible that people may think that men just decided to support the franchising of women out of the kindness of their hearts.
Wishing you well,
In Sisterhood, Zelda
* Zelda D'Aprano is the Author of Zelda by Zelda D'Aprano first published 1977 then by Spinifex 1995:
My life, when looking back, seems to have covered four phases. The initial and the longest period was the unquestioning phase, then a period of questioning with no answers. Next was the feminist phase where I was both questioning and obtaining some answers. It was only when moving into the liberationist phase that everything fell into place. ix-x
It wasn't until I became a feminist that I was able to examine my union struggle as a woman, and this was a new aspect to me ...(and) ... My confusion about the narrowness of trade unions only cleared when I became a (women's) liberationist. p 158
I felt strongly about the need for women to begin to fight their own battles. p 171
We then got down to the serious business of forming an organisation of women who would be prepared to be militant in the face of women. p 174
And from Women Working Together, suffrage and onwards, http://home.vicnet.net.au/~women website and book:
CHAPTER 11 - Post-War 1945 and after - In Our Own Right
13..EQUAL PAY RALLIES in the 1950's
14..KATH WILLIAMS CAME OUT FIGHTING after Bolte's comments
CHAPTER 12 - 1970's Protesting - Working Together Again
2...WHAT IS WOMEN'S LIBERATION?
4...1969 EQUAL PAY CASE
CHAPTER 13: Finding Our Voice - Women's Liberation
1...'WOMEN'S LIBERATION BELIEVES ...'
3...CONSCIOUSNESS RAISING GROUPS
5...YOUNG WOMEN'S FUTURES
7...1972? INTERNATIONAL WOMEN'S DAY DEMONSTRATION
12..'WHERE ARE THE WORKING CLASS WOMEN?' Zelda D'Aprano
26..1979 PROBLEMS WITH THE PRESS
31..ECOLOGY GROUP CAMPAIGNS
CHAPTER 14 - Working Collectively
17..WOMEN BEHIND BARS
23..1979 INTERNATIONAL WOMEN'S DAY (IWD)
CHAPTER 15 - The Broader Women's Movement
6...WOMEN AND THE HOME
12..1975 - THE WORKING WOMEN'S CENTRE
27..INTERNATIONAL WOMEN'S DECADE 1975-1985
CHAPTER 16 - In Our Own Hands
5...'THIS MONSTROUS REGIMENT OF WOMEN?'
6...WOMEN'S ACTION COMMITTEE - IN THE BEGINNING
7...ANSWERS HAD TO FOUND
10..IN OUR OWN HANDS
CHAPTER 17: Whose Right to Choose?
6...NOT THE CHURCH, NOT THE STATE
7...CITY SQUARE DEMONSTRATION
21..THE LUSHER BILL
CHAPTER 18: Environment Matters - Caring for Country
2...WOMEN AND THE ENVIRONMENTAL CRISIS
4...1978 FEMINIST STRATEGIES in the anti-nuclear movement.
CHAPTER 20: What a Legacy We Inherit!
5...'MY COUNTRY IS THE WHOLE WORLD'
I have attached a talk I gave to the Human Rights Arts Film Festival
here in Adelaide earlier this year for your interest, Social Control
from my perspective (during the reign of kevin 07)
SOCIAL CONTROL FROM A LABOR GOVERNMENT (edited - Geraldine)
How many of you here would remember the 1980’s thereabouts Motels song total control, ...
Well every time I say I’m talking about Social Control that song pops into my head and stays for the day. I tried to dismiss it, ignore it,
block it, but nothing worked, but then I had an epiphany,
Of course, that’s what I’m talking about, not total control the song, but total control the organism, the stuff that gets into your head and
despite whatever you proclaim to think or do, just plays itself over and over and over as if the stop button has stopped working. This
little organism is so powerful it can over-ride stuff you know to be true and take over your voice and your head, making you say things you
seriously don’t believe to be true.
ACCORDING TO Wikipaedia, Social control refers generally to societal and political mechanisms or processes that regulate individual and
group behavior, leading to conformity and compliance to the rules of a given society, state, or social group.
Sounds big brotherish, whichever way you look at it. So we have to ask ourselves what are these mechanisms, how do they work and do they affect me.
The subject is too big to cover here today, all I can do is touch on some of the obvious issues...
Last year, as was said in the intro, I won a peace prize, very prestigious in Europe, not covered by mainstream media here at all. Why do you think that is? Might have something to do with the peace word, doesn’t sell papers!
There was a time when the print media was viewed as neutral, but now all players in the mass media are political actors.
What does sell papers is war, death, especially by violence, druggies, murderers, girls having babies so as to get the single parents pensions, etc etc, all calculated to make you feel vicariously happy that you are you, and not them.
In Germany they have a name for that, excuse my pronunciation but it’s Schadenfreude and it literally means “happiness at the misfortune of others”
Do you remember Gary Coleman, that little guy who played a kid in Different Strokes. Well he can’t get away with being a kid anymore, he’s no Peter Pan, so he sings a song about his otherness, Right now you are down and out and feeling really crappy, And when I see how sad you are, It sort of makes me...-------- sort of Happy! You know making me feel glad that I’m not you.
Wouldn’t the types of shows that feature other peoples’ misfortunes like Jerry Springer fit into that category and those funniest home videos where everyone laughs their heads off at people falling over, even babies, how come we don’t have a word for it?
Coleman and his mate go on to say 'The world needs people like you and me who've been knocked around by fate. 'Cause when people see us, they don't want to be us, and that makes them feel great. We provide a vital service to society! You and me.
So we can leave that bit of otherness there, so long as it is happening to someone else, it is not happening to me and that’s how I like it.
So moving on to democracy, According to political theory, under democracy the people rule, you don’t like the policies of one party, so at the next election you vote for the other. Simple really
Increasingly it seems to me, politics is about media spin. Public Opinion is determined by the theatre of mass media and TV provides the stage. There are many politically informative programs available via the mass media, though rarely do you find any that are open ended, mostly they are packaged, shaped and framed with pre-determined outcomes.
A much more subtle but to me, almost insidious influence occurs subliminally through so called goodwill stories, current affairs, and educational programs and straight out soaps. Human values are shaped by these programs, concepts of right and wrong, acceptable and unacceptable and can have a profound effect on how people react and respond in our society. Issues such as abortion, ostensibly dealt with decades ago, raise their head on prime time TV and are handled with as much depth as a baby’s wading pool.
Do you think it is a coincidence that when the abortion issue is raised on our friendly neighbourhood show it suddenly emerges on the political agenda?
So the next sub heading that we will zoom into is framing. How things are framed can have a profound effect on both opinion and outcome. Speech writers for politicians know all about this, they use it all the time. It does two things.
The first is it enables the polly to convincingly say many things without really saying anything.
Second framing uses Aristotle’s 3 rhetorical appeals, credibility, logic and emotion to persuade audiences that your ideas are more valid than your opponents. John Howard was a whiz at it looking sincerely into the camera and saying something like your mortgage is safe with me. He was really saying vote for me and people did.
One of our Senior politicians here in Adelaide made a statement that, when it comes to prisoners we rack ‘em stack ‘em and pack ‘em. Most people would find that terminology outrageous but he countered any criticism by adding that yes, his view is that paedophiles should stay in jail for ever. So that makes it ok. They are all paedophiles anyway. Now we can all sleep sounder. Sort of like George Bush’s you’re either with us or you’re against us.
I remember a training exercise where groups of people had a subject and they had to go out to the general populace and talk about their subject, with the understanding that 2 days later we would come back to ask them about the content matter of the subject. 6 people were randomly selected.
So we chose the subject; there is no such thing as clean coal. Now just in case you think I am taking sides here, let me tell you, I definitely am. I firmly believe there is no such thing as clean coal so was happy to promote that and promote it I did. I gave reasons, I rationalised, I argued, and I was good, I got my point across, THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS CLEAN COAL. I swear when the people walked away from me, that they believed that statement.
Two days later we asked them if they remembered the conversation we had had. Without fail they looked smilingly confident, of course we remember, you talked to us about CLEAN COAL. They had completely eliminated from their heads the words, there is no such thing as, but they remembered the bits we didn’t want them to remember, they remembered the words clean coal and in saying them, they gave the clean coal lobby free credibility. What we should have said is that all coal is dirty. A lesson well learned.
So if democracy is rule by the people, the consultation process is the politician’s way of listening to the voice of the people.
Just look at the recent consultation on whether Australia needs a bill or charter of rights, they asked the question, paid millions to make sure there was equal representation of both city and country, the people spoke loud and clear. About 80% of the respondents said yes, Australia needs a bill of rights and after all of that, the government said onya Aussies but not now. Why ask the bloody question if the answer is irrelevant.
We all see things through a different lens, based on our beliefs. Most people apparently believe we live in a democracy, that politicians ultimately will do the right thing by the country. I got this information from an on line poll I regularly take part in. Every activist for every cause always advocates for the old send a letter to your local polly as a way to affect change.
Do you think that has ever changed anything? I googled it and couldn’t find a single entry in the negative or positive.
Oh well maybe I should write to my local polly and ask her.
So on that note, I have to declare that I am a passionate advocate against the NT Intervention. I seriously believe it to be the most racist legislation ever introduced since Aboriginal people came under the flora and fauna act. I’ve written about 400 letters to politicians expressing my democratic right to have a voice, and I’ve had 4 replies noting my opinions. Since we’re talking about social control, nothing compares, nothing even comes close. To suspend the very Act that is in place to prevent racial discrimination, says it all. To take control over 50% of income support and replace it with a card which you can only use in the big multi-national stores and to apply that legislation to one race, creates an apartheid system and if you don’t believe that, go to Woolies in Alice Springs and line up at the checkout. They are segregated, there are checkouts for card holders only, and then there are the others.
As I write this talk, legislation has been passed that will extend the intervention so the government cannot be accused of being racist. Coming to a suburb near you! Discrimination by post code
Social control at its best, creating an underclass of income managed people, but unlike Gary Coleman and his mate, they won’t be aware that they are our Schadenfreude. They’ll just have shitty lives.Kevin Rudd announced that we will be back to a balanced budget in 3 years, thanks to mining and China. Much of that resource rich land that China wants to exploit is where Aboriginal income managed people live. But not for long, they have to sign over their land under the policies of the Intervention and they’ll all be moving to their nearest city soon, so the land will be free to exploit.
I’m sure that will be a comfort to the people who will come under income management in the future, knowing that they helped China boost our economy. They’ll probably be pleased that Australia won’t be seen as racist anymore. Oh well, it won’t make too much difference to my life, yet.
So on to the next pressing issue, Climate Change.
It’s the day after the budget announcement, when we’re all looking to see what’s in it for us, we gradually wake up to the fact that there’s been no money allocated for Climate Change and this is from a gov’t that believes in it.
Kumi Naidoo, Executive Director, Greenpeace International says we have only 65 months left before the world is in a completely catastrophic situation from an environmental perspective . She didn’t say where she got her info from, but it’s scary if she’s right. Al Gore says, climate change is not an “ issue” it is our future.
But Buddhists, who google tells me constitute the fastest growing religion in the world believe that the world will be looked after and we don’t have to worry.
Maybe I should become a Buddhist.
August 6th 2010
From WGAR: Working Group for Aboriginal Rights (Australia) Website: http://wgar.info/
Resolutions from the Defending Indigenous Rights Conference Alice Springs 6-9 July 2010.
We the people in attendance at the Defending Indigenous Rights conference held in Alice Springs from the 6-9th July 2010 stand in solidarity with Aboriginal people of the Northern Territory to condemn the NT Intervention. We call on all political parties to call for the abolition of the NT Emergency Response legislation and return rights of self determination and restore control over Traditional lands, including remote communities, homelands, and town camps.
1. Women’s Statement
To Prime Minister Julia Gillard:
We, the women, mothers, grandmothers, aunties, sisters in support of our men who are the shared caregivers of the NT wholeheartedly demand the NTER be abolished immediately.
The media has heralded your promotion to PM as a breakthrough for women. All this talk is a slap in the face for Aboriginal women whose communities are being devastated by this government’s racist intervention.
For three years the removal of our human rights has been justified with lies about protecting women from violence and feeding our children. We are living proof of the damage it has caused to us as Indigenous peoples of the NT who are trying to survive, live and practice our way of life. Shame on you!
We call on you, and Federal Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Jenny Macklin, to abolish this law that takes away our human rights as Indigenous peoples of this country.
Minister Macklin consistently claims that women support Income Management and the Intervention. This is not the truth. Under current policies we have no choice and no change and now a big cloud is covering our struggle and journey. The Working Futures policy is about closing our homelands and communities. This is damaging and destructive to our families, our language, law, culture, everything that is important to us. This is our identity, passed down through generations, and this is what makes us the oldest unique culture in the world.
Income Management, cuts of the Community Development Employment Program (CDEP), the bi-lingual education ban in schools, compulsory five year leases over our land and housing – all these measures are taking away our control over our lives and our communities. Your legal discrimination against us has given a licence to racists to abuse us in the street, in supermarkets and to attack our kids at school.
We call for the immediate end of the NT Intervention and the resignation of Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin. ... http://rollbacktheintervention.wordpress.com/statements/
June 15, 2010 AVRIL MOORE
War is no game, so why is it marketed to children as one?
from The Age
In the post-conscription era, parents have subtler enemies to fight.
IT'S been nearly 40 years since five Melbourne women - Jean McLean, Joan Coxsedge, Irene Miller, Chris Cathie and Jo McLaine Ross - were sent to Fairlea prison for 14 days for their activities in the Save Our Sons (SOS) movement.
In the 1960s and early '70s, SOS successfully campaigned against conscription and Australia's involvement in the Vietnam War. Times are different now; we no longer have such barbaric laws, our boys simply ''volunteer''.
Last week, the front pages of most Australian newspapers displayed heartbreaking images of two young men - Jacob Moerland, 21, and Darren Smith, 25 - who died in Afghanistan from an exploding roadside bomb.
I wonder how I would react in the event that either of my two sons, the same ages as the two dead soldiers, decided to ''join up''?
So it is that mothers today must try to save their sons from themselves.
David Simon and Ed Burns are all too aware of young men and their often-misguided call to adventure. In their award-winning TV series Generation Kill, based on Evan Wright's embedded reporting for Rolling Stone, the series documents the first three weeks of the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
In it a new generation of young marines or ''warriors'', who have been raised on hip-hop, heavy metal and video games, request the evacuation of a young Iraqi boy badly wounded by one of their more trigger-happy colleagues.
Lieutenant-Colonel Stephen ''Godfather'' Ferrando acknowledges the situation is worse than ''shitty'' but refuses their request. He reminds them that ''nobody put a f---ing gun to our heads and forced us to come here. We're all volunteers.''
But surely this is disingenuous. Every year, the Pentagon spends $US6 billion using the latest digital gaming technology for training for the armed forces. This in turn has given rise to an effective recruitment tool called ''militainment''.
According to Peter W. Singer, director of the 21st Century Defence Initiative at the Brookings Institution, ''America's Army'' is one of the top 10 downloaded games on the internet.
Singer describes it as a ''first-person shooter'', where the player is a soldier who goes out on various missions. However, to access the game online you must sign up and give your personal information, which helps recruiters find you.
Although Singer acknowledges that a large number of the players engage for the fun of playing the game, it has turned out to be, according to one study, ''more effective than any other form of recruiting that the US Army has''.
Furthermore, in another survey of Americans between the ages of 16 and 24, 30 per cent reported they had a more positive view of the US military after playing the game.
We know from studies carried out on young men that the brain is only fully formed at about 24 years and that the last part of the brain to develop is responsible for impulse control and risk assessment.
So what possible influence do parents of Generation Y have when the modern theatre of war is aggressively marketed to their children (who, given this evidence, really do only have half a brain) via the excitement of computer games?
The irony is not lost on Simon and Burns, whose characters, barely 18 years of age, continually parody the idea that they are killing people due to all the ''Nintendo'' they played as kids.
However, no amount of Simpson-esque or South Park-style wisecracking saves them from the horror of Iraq.
I live near Irene Miller and whenever I see her at the local shopping strip I am struck by how her tiny stature did not inhibit her maternal instinct to defy authority and protect her offspring.
In John Irving's semi-autobiographical novel, A Prayer for Owen Meany, set during the Vietnam War, Owen, in an act of love, removes the right index or ''trigger'' finger of his best friend John who has been conscripted, thus ensuring he fails his physical.
Would I deliberately injure one of my children to stop them from joining up? Possibly. How many years do you get for grievous bodily harm?
Given that 30 per cent of men and women returning from Iraq and Afghanistan have a mental health disorder, are nine times more likely to commit suicide than veterans from previous wars and that horrific physical injuries are so prevalent that accurate statistics are unattainable, surely half a finger is a minor disability.
There is a scene in Generation Kill where armed marines who have surrounded a small Iraqi village watch as a fearless but clearly angry woman runs towards them.
"Women are the fiercest," one of them observes. "You always gotta look out for the women. Doesn't matter if it's a black bitch from South Central or some rich white bitch from Beverley Hills. Don't matter if you got a gun or whatever. They'll come after you screaming.'' Ooh-rah! to that.
Avril Moore is a Melbourne writer who lectures in visual culture at the Photography Studies College, Southbank.
1 March 2010 Alex Nissen - Women in Black; Coalition of Women for Peace Israel Australia
Tear Gas brings Memories: Jewish home or a fascist state?
What does that mean? As an Ashkenazi (Jew from European decent) Israeli who was born in Australia to refugee parents, I have the luxury of living in Israel whenever I choose to, with full rights, like other Jewish citizens.
I have the freedom to move, access to hospitals, universities and water. What a luxury. So how can I call this place home and fascist at the same time?
Last Friday I went to a Palestinian village called Bil’in. It is near Ramallah about two hours drive south of Haifa, my town, along road six, a highway built alongside the hidden Apartheid Wall that surrounds the Palestinian towns of Qalqilya and Tul Karm. Two cities that are completely surrounded by the Apartheid Wall. Of course there are no signs acknowledging their existence, after all they are not in Israel, they are Palestinian towns. Difficult to comprehend when you first arrive to this place.
Last Friday was a special day because it marked five years of the struggle against the Apartheid Wall that was built on Palestinian lands near the village of Bil’in. It was also marked five years of popular demonstrations, suppressed by force. And nearly two and a half years since the High Court of Justice ordered a change to the route of the Apartheid Wall near this village. Demonstrators came from all over Israel and Palestine to show support for the village’s struggles for freedom. Freedom that I, as an Israeli and Australian, have always taken for granted.
The first time I went to Bil’in was many years ago. I have been going to the Palestinian Occupied Territories to document and bear witness to human rights abuses. I was raised to respect human right and freedom especially since my own Jewish ancestors suffered as a result of anti Semitism and the holocaust. I went to this demonstration because of those values of respect for human rights. What I witnessed was an assault on freedom and humanity by the Israeli army.
There were over a thousand people of all ages, mothers, fathers, children, grandparents marching to express, not only their solidarity with freedom, but also in solidarity for the right to live in dignity, to farm one’s own land and to live one’s own life without oppression.
Some of the Palestinian men managed to move the wire fence and put Palestinian flags on the other side, at this stage I did not see the Israeli army and thought it was strange. But then the Israeli army came. They sprayed stink liquid that made people sick, used sound grenades, and shot dozens of tear gas. There was nowhere to hide. As we, the elderly and the young ran to escape, the tear gas behind and beside us. I stopped and looked up to see it raining tear gas ahead of us. They shot numerous tear gas at the front of the demonstration, at the side and then ahead of us so that we would be trapped by the thick white smoke. There was no point in running. No space was safe from the possibility of being hit by tear gas. The air was thick with gas, people couldn’t breathe. An elderly woman collapsed, people helped carry her out. Many people fell, they couldn’t breathe and they couldn’t move. I felt that there was nothing I could do to escape, I couldn’t breathe, my skin was on fire and my lungs were struggling for air like everyone else. I have not forgotten my history or why I am here, it is ironic that they Israeli army throw so much gas at civilians demonstrating for human rights and it is ironic that as a Jew I am gassed by a Jewish army.
I managed to get a distance away to turn around only to see the Israeli army continuing to shoot dozens of tear gas everywhere, and in disbelief I witnessed the Israeli army shooting at the ambulance which was surrounded by thick gas. I have no words to describe the injustice I witnessed. I can escape. I can go home, where I have running water to take shower and wash off the day's poison and trauma.
How many Palestinians need to suffer before we all take a stand to stop the violence? Israeli human rights organisation along with the Israeli peace movement and Palestinians are all calling for you to help by supporting peace and democracy in a country that’s spiralling out of control.
In this country democracy only belongs to the privileged like me, and not to my Palestinian sisters and brothers.
Alex Nissen - Women in Black; Coalition of Women for Peace Israel Australia; Film of demonstration and march Friday the 19th February 2010 - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=quSVqqEao4c; Bi'lin Habibty http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WynTOY04Ac8
Geraldine Robertson February 2010
EXTENSION OF INCOME QUARANTINING TO WELFARE RECIPIENTS ACROSS AUSTRALIA
Being punished if you have to depend on the so-called social security system is not new.
- when we were recipients, not dependents,
- when it was called social security, not welfare, and
- it was benefits, not allowances, that we were
- entitled to, not granted.
Even then, women in Women's Liberation and the broader Women's Movement stood up for us. For example:
Vashti Spring '81:
'In the small print of the budget we find another attack on the lives of women. Women will be refused unemployment benefits if their spouses are involved in industrial action or when their spouses have been refused unemployment benefits, or had it cancelled or postponed. ... Women must continue to fight back - and can, by becoming involved in women's mobilization.'
State Library of Victoria taken from -
Women Working Together suffrage and onwards
Chapter 15 - The Broader Women's Movement
Section 25..WOMEN AND WELFARE: Fight the Welfare Cuts
And from one unemployed young woman at the time:
To be unemployed means more than not having a job
It means to be labelled useless, a leech on society
It means to be a number, an inhuman number
It means to be pushed around,
going from place to place, office to office
It means to justify to a computer that
you have made attempts to find a job
It often means isolation and loneliness
It means to never have money to spare
It means boredom, nothing to do and nowhere to go
It means becoming apathetic to everyone and everything
It is not a life one chooses to live. Jenny Rimmer 1982
Under the proposed amendments to the - this is a mouthful -
Senate Community Affairs Legislation Committee Inquiry, February 2010, into the Social Security and Other Legislation Amendment
(Welfare Reform and Reinstatement of Racial Discrimination Act) Bill 2009,
quarantining of payments will be extended and, (this is the sneaky bit) this is tied to the reinstatement of the Racial Reinstatement Act.
I took these quotes from a few of the 82 submissions opposing this Bill in its present form:
'Social Security benefits are no longer every Australian's safety net, but have been transformed into a tool of social control, and that potentially affects every citizen.' Jane Paterson 29 January 2010
'The amendments to the Family & Community Services have for the first time taken away the inalienable right and inalienable benefit to eligibility for Commonwealth benefits. Up till now, anyone who had Australian citizenship was eligible for Commonwealth benefits and payments.' Joan Lynn OAM 29 January 2010
'I urge Senators to resist this continuing erosion of the basic human rights and entitlements of Australian citizens proposed in the Bill; rather recognizing that those citizens on Social Security Entitlements have the right to the security that the name implies.' Jennifer Edge
'We urge you to restore the Racial Reinstatement Act in a way that ensures full compliance with Australia's international obligations ...' Margaret Spong, Convenor, The Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) Victorian Regional Meeting
'The current and proposed Bills only entrench racism, disadvantage and seperateness.' Ruth Russell and Cathy Picone for Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) Australian Section www.wilpf.org.au
'The HRLRC considers that the Government Bills in their current form will:
a. continue to breach a number of Australia's international human rights obligations;
b. not be effective in addressing Aboriginal disadvantage;
c. continue to undermine the relationship between Australian governments and Aboriginal Australians; and
d. arbitrarily impact on the human rights of disadvantaged and vulnerable groups within our society, with the effect that they will become further isolated and excluded.' Human Rights Law Resource Centre (HRLRC) www.hrlrc.org.au
'The income management regime contained within the Bill raises serious concerns in relation to the Government's international obligations to respect and promote the human rights of people experiencing homelessness. More specifically, the HPLC submits that the income management regime in the Bill breeches the following fundamental human rights:
- the right to social security;
- the right to non-discrimination;
- the right to self-determination; and
- the right to an adequate standard of living.' Public Interest Law Clearing House (PILCH) Homeless Person's Legal Clinic www.pilch.org.au
'... quarantining of welfare is not the solution ... CCC believes that extending a regime of quarantining welfare will work against social inclusion and instead marginalise those already facing disadvantage, creating a group of second class citizens in Australia.' Community Child Care Inc. www.cccinc.org.au/
'In sum, such policy changes are not justifiable or justified by the data available and in that would be harmful. WELA realizes that there may be groupd that see short term benefits, and in particular those groups dealing with domestic violence. However the potential for damage to the rights of many others, including women, means that other solutions should be sought ...' Eva Cox, Women's Electoral Lobby, Australia (WELA) www.morecivilsocietyroundtable.com.au/
1. Withdraw the provisions of the Bill which would enable income management to be compulsorily applied across designated geographic areas, payment types or categories of recipient, for example, "vulnerable welfare payment recipient".
2. Replace the income management provisions in the Bill with a system of income management that people can opt into ...' Australian Council of Social Services February 2010
Most of the information we have received on this Bill was sent to us by Eva Cox
www.morecivilsocietyroundtable.com.au/ on behalf of
Women for Wik
Sent: Friday, February 05, 2010 6:40 PM
Subject: An appeal to the public re proposed Social Security legislation
I have just witnessed FaHCSIA staff present their case to the Senate Inquiry into the proposed Social Security amendment legislation in Canberra. I am shocked that obviously high up bureaucrats can speak with such expertness on the justification for imposing such measures initially on all people (mainly Aboriginal) in the Northern Territory and possibly eventually on other 'disadvantaged' areas around the country, as the minister deems fit.
Last night I received a copy of an email emanating from Macklin's office calling far and wide for people to appeal to members of the Opposition and the Greens to support the new legislation so that the reinstatement of the Racial Discrimination Act will not be delayed.
This is hypocritical, to say the least, and dishonest at best. The Minister could reinstate the RDA immediately and keep the promise she made prior to the 2008 election.
I am appealing to all people to write to their local newspaper or contact their local Federal member and/or Senator to express their concern at this drastic change in social security in this country. Social security is a human right and the government is contravening its own social inclusion policy by imposing such punitive measures on impoverished and disadvantaged people.
I hope you are able to take the time to consider this.
I have attached a short document on the issue.
Information on the proposed legislation can be found on the House of Representatives website under current bills
Social Security and Other Legislation Amendment (Welfare Reform and Reinstatement of Racial Discrimination Act) Bill 2009.
With best wishes
I can't believe we just have to lie down and accept this violation of our humanity as Australian citizens - for that is what I consider this to be.
Lynette Dumble, Global Sisterhood Network http://www.global-sisterhood-network.org
14th February 2010
Re: Global Petition to Amnesty International
from: Women Against Fundamentalism http://womenagainstfundamentalism.org.uk
'A victim can also be a perpetrator. It's a very simple thought.' Gita Sahgal
Dr Lynette Dumble: 'I say/write that this "Global Petition to Amnesty International: Restoring the Integrity of Human Rights" is CRUCIAL because it teaches an important lesson to those in other corridors of political power, including Afghanistan's Karzai, Britain's Prime Minister Brown and Foreign Secretary David Miliband, and various from the US White House and Pentagon, who are currently selling out the entire Afghan nation, particularly its women, by luring the Taliban back into that country's legitimate ranks.
It is irrelevant whether the Taliban provided with the new welcome mat are moderate or extreme. They ALL violate the human rights of every individual, again particularly those of women, within their jurisdiction.'
Marlene Hodder, Anti Intervention Collective
5th February 2010 forwarded from Eva Cox email:email@example.com Women for Wik
MACKLIN’S LATEST MANOEVRES
The Australian Parliament is due to debate the new social security legislation next week. Senate Committee Inquiry hearings will also be held around the country in the next few weeks.
Many people are unaware of the implications of the new legislation which will give the Minister powers to declare any area ‘disadvantaged’ and any person ‘vulnerable’ which will trigger income quarantining for many categories of people receiving income support from Centrelink. This is a major policy shift on the part of the Labor Government and sees the most disadvantaged in our community having their lives made more difficult by with control over their income being taken away.
Even people in the so-called ‘disadvantaged’ areas who might be fulfilling their job search requirements would be subject to having their social security income quarantined. This is hardly fair on people who live in areas of low employment prospects.
The government should using the $350m due to be spent on introducing this system over the next two years to instead support disadvantaged people by providing more jobs, infrastructure and social services.
Minister Macklin’s office is currently running a public campaign, asking the community to call on the Opposition and the Greens to allow passage of the new social security legislation and, therefore, reinstatement of the Racial Discrimination Act.
This is farcical. The government could immediately reintroduce the Racial Discrimination Act which would immensely improve the lives of over 15,000 Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory currently suffering from racial discrimination. Labor promised prior to the last election that they would do this. It is unethical to impose such a punitive system on people at the bottom of the socio-economic scale in order to continue the racist elements of the Northern Territory Intervention.
The general public needs to be aware what this new legislation will mean and to voice their objections in the strongest way possible.
Margit Alm January 2010
Taken from The Age 16th January 2010
Growth that is gentle - PROPONENTS of perpetual growth may not realise that we do not have to abandon all growth. While unchecked economic/population growth is not sustainable, we can indulge ourselves in intellectual growth, humanitarian growth, growth in compassion, demolishing the poverty industry and dissolving the billionaires' club. The list is endless. This generates employment and income and is gentle on the environment.
Margit Alm, Eltham
Joan Nestle December 09
Taken from http://womeninblackmelbourne.blogspot.com/2009/12/words-for-palestine-melbourne-2009-joan.html
Students for Palestine asked me to speak at a rally (6/12/09) held in front of the Park Hyatt Hotel here in Melbourne where the Australian Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard was hosting Israel’s Deputy Prime Minister, Silvan Shalom. They were discussing, the paper said, Israel’s request for help from Australia to rehabilitate the Jordan River. This was Shalom’s second official dinner—the first in Sydney where the Prime Minster of Australia also welcomed the Israeli government official in glowing terms and never once mentioned the crises that is facing the Palestinians under the present Israeli regime.
I was asked to speak as a representative of Women in Black and thus Hellen, Marg, Sue, Geraldine—my Women in Black comrades—stood with our banners behind me as I spoke. We clearly were the oldest, the whitest heads, present. Without the support of these dedicated peace activists, I could not have accomplished what I had to do. I quote the words of two writers in the talk—I wanted something different, more complex than a typical rally speech—the Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish and the American writer, always prophetic in terms of what racial failures would bring to States, James Baldwin. Thank you, Daniel, for the image.
Words for Palestine
Salam Alakhim/ Shalom
I want to thank Students for Palestine for inviting the Melbourne Women in Black group to be part of this demonstration against the uncritical welcoming of Silvan Shalom to this country.
I speak with two voices two day—as a member of Women in Black, and as a 70 year old American Jewish woman who lost one third of her family in the Belzec Concentration camp. Two voices but one heart—the brutalizing of populations by the use of overwhelming military force, by governmental policies of ethnic cleansing and forced expulsion from family homes, by the unquestioned believe in the right of one people to live a full life while another is condemned to hopelessness, to endless humiliations, to erased pasts, to an impossible present and a murdered future—I cannot, will not, not turn my head or heart away from the connections between my Jewish history and Palestinian history of the last 60 years.
In Haifa, after the first intifada, 5 Israeli women stood in silent vigil dressed in black to protest the Israelis occupation of Gaza and the West Bank. The next week Palestinian women joined the protest and a few months later 5000 marched through the streets of Tel Aviv asking for peace. Now Women in Black stand in over 30 countries demanding an end to the brutalization of civilian populations and the planet, an end to what seems like a time of endless wars.
Here in Melbourne Women in Black have been organizing for an end to the occupation since 1988 (Here I referred to Alix Nissen, a founding member of Women in Black, both here and in Haifa and Marg Jacobs who has been involved with Melbourne Women in Black since 1988).
From our flyer:
“We stand in recognition of peace activists all over the world, to embrace our common humanity, as a bridge to mutual respect, to remind ourselves that seemingly small actions can lead both to change and hope.
We make the following promises for the new year—we promise to expose the lies that demonize those who discuss nonviolent ways to end the Israeli occupation.
We promise to uphold the judgments of the UN’s Goldstone Report and Breaking the Silence.
We promise to stand in solidarity with Israeli and Palestinian activists who face jail for their anti-occupation work— with the Shminstim, a group of Israeli teenagers declaring their refusal to serve the occupation, with Mohammad Othman, a Palestinian human rights activist, with Kobi Snitz, with Ezra Nawi ,” with the women who monitor the checkpoints hoping to reduce the daily abuses of Palestinians simply trying to get to work, with the citizens of Bi’lin who take on the Israeli Defense Force every night, with the members of New Profile, an Israeli anti-militarism group, with the Palestinian and Israeli academics who think and teach critically about the occupation and as a result appear on a hate list of those who must be purged from the academy in the so-called democratic state of Israel, with Gideon Levy of the Haaretz newspaper, with Dr Saida Atrash, the Director of the Mehwa Center, the women’s shelter on the West Bank where every day she and others try to comfort Palestinian women who have lost their homes, and with it any sense of security for their families.
We hear the voices of power easily enough, but the voices of alternate visions, of the questioners of certainties, these we must amplify and honor, these are our deepest hope—As Mahmoud Darwish wrote in his homage to Edward Said:
“Then you are prone to the affliction of longing? My dream leads my steps. And my vision seats my dream on my knees like a cat. My dream is the realistic imaginary and the son of will: We are able to alter the inevitability of the abyss!”
The voice of conscientious Objector Or Ben-David, a 19 year old Israeli young woman from Jerusalem:
”To refuse means to say no! No to the military rule in the West Bank, no to the use of violence as a means of defense, no to patriarchy, no to violence against innocent people, no to war and no to a society that claims to be democratic but forces youth to carry weapons, to kill or be killed. I refuse because I want to make a difference. I want all those Palestinian youths who have lost hope to see that there are Israelis who care and who make a different choice. I want all of those of my friends who became soldiers or who are about to become soldiers to see that things do not have to be the way they are, and that doing these immoral things is not something to be taken for granted, that another way is possible.”
The author of these words is now serving 20 days in an Israeli military prison.
Know that our numbers are growing , the numbers of dissenters, that cracks are running down that monstrous barbed- wire- topped gray wall that tonight’s honored guest calls a fence, know that more and more of us are not afraid of what they call us—traitors, self hating Jews, anti-Semitic Jews, renegade Jews.
What we are afraid of is what comes on the horizon when a people’s daily dignity is so insulted, when others so absolutely and brutally control the possibilities of one’s life—James Baldwin, an African American writer who knew in his bones of daily dehumanization, warned of “The Fire Next Time.”
What hope will there be for reconciliation if the settlers keep dancing on the hearts of the dispossessed, if leaders like Rudd and Obama and so many others sit down to feast with representative bullies of the Israeli state, pretending that Palestinian agony does not exist. We have seen in the past the results of this calculated refusal to challenge national cruelties.
Read the Palestinian poet, read Darwish—“Do I ask permission, from strangers who sleep/in my own bed, to visit myself for five minutes? Do I bow respectfully to those who reside in my childhood dream? “
Mr. Silvan Shalom is the minister for regional development and control of the flow of water--one of the regions he is in charge of, is the upper Galilee, the one-time site of al-Birwah, a village razed to the ground in 1948, its people forced to flee and among them the poet I now always carry in my heart, Mahmoud Darwish, and his family—his birth place made invisible except in the words of his poems and on old maps, his very presence made an absence, a poet in exile for much of his life, but against the roaring ugliness of Israel’s dedication to the eradication of a people, I put the poet’s yearning lovely humanity,
“The poem is what lies between a between. It is able to illuminate the night with the breasts of a young woman/it is able to illuminate, with an apple, two bodies/it is able to restore/ with the cry of a gardenia, a homeland!”
The poet brings us back to the occupied body, the place of devastation, into the night of war he brings the perfume of longing, our rights of desire.
Long after the world forgets the name of the Vice Prime Minister of Israel, it will remember the words of Mahmoud Darwish, the poet, for he honors the wonders of life.
It had been a long day and I had been up the whole night writing the talk, I was emotionally exhausted from the whole event, my anger, my sadness, my speaking as Jew, my fumbling body, so Marg kindly let me to her car. It was only after I had arrived home, that I received the call from Daniel saying that shortly after we had left, the demonstrators had attempted to enter the hotel and were beaten and sprayed with capsicum. A young woman friend of his whom I had met earlier in the day had been punched in the face by a member of the police.
This morning, our daily newspaper, “The Age", carried a picture of the confrontation and the following caption:
“Capsicum Spray Used to Quell Anti-Israeli Protestors.”
I want no more violence. Civil disobedience yes, the courage to go limp in the face of armed actors, yes, civil disobedience by hundreds o f thousands, yes, but no more aggressions provoking more aggressions. Enough of this—we will struggle against the present Israeli state as we did against the apartheid South African state, in our own way, in new ways with new uses of our imagination of resistance.
Blood against blood makes reconciliation impossible. Only the fire’s devastation comes this way. We must "alter the inevitability of the abyss." But I am 70.
November 30, 2009 - Sue Leigh
The Age 29/11/09 - Welfare a right
WHAT a self-righteous bunch the leaders of the ALP have proved to be. Not content with demeaning Aboriginal people through the Northern Territory intervention, the ALP now proposes to discriminate against other groups by quarantining the welfare payments of single parents and the unemployed. The rationale appears to be to teach them to spend ''responsibly'' the pittance they receive.
How about the irresponsible spending of government and the irresponsible spending of individuals on expensive, fuel-guzzling cars?
And what's all this going to cost to administer? Is this the American way of food stamps for the unemployed, making it embarrassing for people to spend them at the store? Will they be limited to taking their basic card to large supermarkets rather than local markets, where vegetables are often cheaper?
Above all this appears to be a return to the 19th-century idea of the undeserving poor. Perhaps we need to think again about welfare not being charity but as social security given as a right to citizens who need it.