Friday, September 14, 2012

Is Tony going down?

It's not often I do politics on here. I used to a bit, when it got me riled, before I got jaded and old. Before I realised what a time waster it is. It's like people going on about trolls. Time wasting. People who leave comments on the online newspapers - time wasting. People who get into back and forth and arguments with trolls in the comments on online newspapers - time wasting.

It's taken me ages to realise that when people talk about Mr Rabbit they are talking about Tony Abbott. This is how far I've taken myself out of political thinking/discussions. My poor mother, when she tries to talk about Julia, I cut her off saying 'Meh, I'm not into politics any more. So boring.'

But a couple of things lately have caught my interest. First, Anne Summers wrote and delivered a speech entitled 'Gillard: Her Rights at Work' about the sexism/misogynism that the PM's been dealing with - it's worth a read. There's the R-rated version and the vanilla version, as well as today's response on The Drum, answering people who have said 'yeah, but it's no worse than anything male politicians have had to put up with, Larry Pickering's been drawing dicks on pollies for yonks.' [Anne Summers' website]

Then there's the current 'Tony threw a punch' story which is delighting me - that old schadenfreude tinged with very real hope that it will fuck him up so much he just fucks off, right out of the picture and takes his abortion/contraception views with him, along with his attitudes towards women.

I'll never forget what his daughter said about him:

Well, what would you know dad? You're just a lame, gay, churchy loser.

To be fair, these could be the words of any teen or young adult child about their parent and while there is something refreshing about it, the use of 'gay' in it to emphasise the 'loser' qualities of Tony Abbott is something I don't tolerate or support. Apart from this though, this is a testimonial about someone who wants to become PM by someone who knows him well. The church bit is probably what worries me most as an atheist who fervently believes church and state should always be kept separate. ALWAYS. But it was funny and it still is.

So now he's accused of slamming his fist into a wall either side of a woman's head back in uni in 1977. He's accused of being intimidating and violent. Someone else has come forward and backed up the woman's story. The response from the coalition is predictable: he has no memory of this; it's incorrect; it's an ALP set-up.

I really really hope he goes down:


Anonymous said...

I have a lot of mixed feelings on this one. On the one hand, I would also really like to see Abbott gone. Abbott winning control of both houses is right up there on my list of worst case scenarios. Ideally, I'd like to see a bunch more Greens, Independents, Sex-Partiers, Pirate-Partiers, Kattermites, and whatever else whittle the two major parties down to minor parties and just have a big sloppy trifle of a government. On the other hand, I want Abbott to go because the Australian people reject his shitty policies, his nasty, petty, simple-minded approach to politics, his views on women, religion, etc, and what he represents in the here-and-now; not because he menaced somebody when he was seventeen. Shit, I did a lot more than menace people when I was seventeen. I dunno; I just feel like it would be a really hollow victory, or something. Am I asking too much of people? Should I just say "fuck principles" and take what I can get?

And I dunno to what extent I support your bleak and jaded view of political engagement as a waste of time. To some degree, I think the political/media abomination we have today has evolved to take advantage of disengagement. It seems to me like it more or less relies on people to be insecure, irrational, unthinking and self-centred. I think there's some famous dead yank who said something to the effect that democracy only functions when the public is educated, intelligent and informed; and I think there's a lot of truth to that. Question is, is it just a pipe dream? I don't think I feel like giving up hope just yet.

Wow, am I acting all starry-eyed today or what?

Anonymous said...

Also, did your post on Catherine Deveny just vanish?

Anonymous said...

Just read the Anne Summers stuff. Found it pretty frustrating. I thought she took a bunch of decent points and used them to make a bunch of not-so-decent arguments. I had that feeling like when I listen to someone say "See, that big flood proves that climate change is real." Yes, climate change is real, but no, it doesn't.

The thing about the first names; I seem to remember Kruddy starting that when he was chasing the yoof vote. "Hey kids, call me Kevin. This is Julia". I'll bet my left tit that I could go back and find a few "Kevin said" headlines. Did they have the same sarcastic sneer? I doubt it; but it isn't so irrelevent that it should be left out.

Larry Pickering, a cartoonist who's spent decades drawing derogitory cartoons is now drawing more derogitaory cartoons. Are they worse than they were? How so? Where's the comparison? Have more mainstream cartoonists joined him? Has the wider tone in (professional) political cartooning shifted?

Gillard's drop in popularity was simply a sexist backlash? Really? The fucking implosion of the Labor party didn't have anything to do with it? And might I suggest that one of the things that really hurt Gillard when she went back on the no-carbon-tax pledge was the four or five days she tried to spin it as if she'd been consistent the whole time. I wanted her to renege on that pledge, and even I thought that was bold-faced political bullshittery.

Male politicians have never been called liars or bitches or threatened with violence or depicted in a sexually derogatory manner? Oh, come on. Howard was called a liar over GST, over the Iraq war, over the wheat scandal, children overboard, the interest rate bullshit (all deserved); after Iraq, he was often called Bush's bitch, Bush's bumchum, I saw cartoons of him getting fucked by Bush; when he toughened up gun laws there were crackpots calling into radio stations and writing to newspapers threatening to shoot the cunt, and yes, he was called a cunt; Downer was often depicted as a mincing homosexual; I've seen stuff about Abbott being a paedophile because of his involvement with the seminary; I once got a cartoon faxed to me that depicted Hawke and Keating as a pair of rapists, fucking the people of Australia.

But there, I think, is a big part of this. In the old days, if you wanted to disseminate shit like this and you were too extreme for talkback radio or the paper, the only other option was slow, expensive fax spam. Previous prime ministers didn't govern in a time when everybody was on the bloody internet all the time. So, maybe back in the day this kind of shit didn't exist in your little social bubble, and now that all our little social bubbles are linked, the shit is in a place where you can see it, but that doesn't make the shit new. Then there's the way the mainstream media has changed. Now it wallows in and competes with that same internet shit. And back then, you didn't have twenty-four-hour news channels and web-sites looking to fill space, "be first", and desperately try anything to pull enough ad revenue to keep the mill running.

Look, none of these things disprove the argument that Julia Gillard faces an unprecedented level of visible personal attack, a lot of which is sexist and misogynistic. In fact, I agree with that. But if you want to discuss this stuff properly, you've got to be honest about things and talk about the complexity of the issue. Not try to boil everything down to something simplistic and absolute.

Fuck, that was a bit of a rant. Sorry.

Anonymous said...

Oh, and I found the CEO thing confusing and unnecessary. We don't need cumbersome analogies to talk about why this is shitty.

Melba said...

Hey Alex, I'm here, trying to find time to respond. Don't ever apologise for a rant, I love a good rant.

The Deveny thing, I published then put into drafts. It'll be back soon....

Melba said...

Wow, am I acting all starry-eyed today or what?

Ah yes I think so but that's okay, it's your prerogative.

I take your points about the Anne Summers raft of points and it's hard to really make a judgement about whether what has been slung at male pollies isn't/is as bad. I do know that Joan Kirner copped heaps of flack for her frocks and when female's clothes are mentioned repeatedly, and not their decisions or actions, then it is reductive. I just don't see it with men.

You're right about Rudd saying 'call me Kevin and this is Julia' however I do reckon there's something in what Summers says. I'm not so invested in it and haven't analysed it to the extent you did (part of my lethargy) but I am not lethargic about really wanting Abbott to fuck off.

I'll put the Deveny thing up - did you watch QANDA on Monday? Might still be on iview thingy if you want to watch. It was interesting. I usually only watch if Greer or Humphries are on. Don't like the ones with the pollies and/or historians.

Anonymous said...

I agree that female MPs get it worse than males and I also agree that Gillard has got it much worse than any PM that's come before. My issue is that I think Summers is reaching that conclusion via a skewed argument. I don't think it would have diminished her point to talk about the actual abuse that male pollies have historically received, rather than just dismissing it as negligible. Likewise, I don't think it helped to present this as some unprecedented phenomenon born out of simple misogyny. Instead, I think it would have been better to look at the role (sometimes central, sometimes peripheral) that anti-woman/anti-woman-in-power attitudes have played in something that has been growing and becoming more visible with time. I dunno; I get the impression that maybe she just started with a conclusion and then worked backwards; compiling evidence that helped her case and dismissing as irrelevant anything that didn't. I don't think it was a particularly accurate or convincing way to present the argument.

I only watched QandA after reading your Deveny post. I've given up on QandA. I think the whole "unpredictable audience interaction" has become a bit of hollow facade. It looks a lot to me like the agenda is predetermined, most of the questions are vetted (asylum seekers, climate change, one or two topics of the week) and anyone in the audience who throws something up that's not in line with that gets shut down as "a comment". Therefore, every polly or lobbiest who comes on has a pretty good idea of what they'll be asked and can trot out their rehearsed robo-response. For the authors and entertainers it's just another self promotional platform.

Anonymous said...

So, this kind of fits into the topic of how women are treated differently in society, but mostly I just wanted to share a fantastic cartoon by the equally fantastic Aussie cartoonist Trudy Cooper.

Melba said...

Cool, like it. The god of reverse psychology. Thanks for the link.

Anonymous said...

It's the last two panels I like the most. The idea of God proclaiming tits as evil and then having to clarify that he only meant on women. I thought it was a nice little jab at the silliness of some outdated values and perceptions.

Melba said...

Exactly but I think I liked better the smartness of Eve when she tries a little reverse psychology on God and neither he nor Adam get it.