Pat Giles is one amazing lady

So, desipite my laryingitis, I drove out to Guilford yesterday to attend a lunch put on by Perth Labor Women & EMILY’s List to celebrate the 80th birthday of former-Senator Pat Giles.

Now, I was totally sick, but I’d RSVPed for this months ago, and even though I knew little about Pat Giles before I went, I knew the person organising it, and I had totally pomised myself that I would to go to more of these events. Plus it was a good excuse not to sit around being miserable.

Well, the birthday girl was this little old lady (well, duh, it was her 80th) with bright white hair and the sweetest smile, but on hearing her biography I came to realise that this woman had broken some balls in her time.

After working as a nurse, she did a BA as a mature age student (as much as I complained about them when I was in 1st year, they totally have guts; I came to realise that not all of them are wankers).  She then went on to work with the Hospital Employees Industrial Union — which later became part of the Missos, a union I care a lot about through my time as a LMWEP kid — and was one of the first women working in an industrial position in the trade union movement in WA.

Her résumé (here taken from a handout based on notes by Lekkie Hopkins at Edith Cowan Uni) pretty much uses the phrase “first woman to” as dot points:

  • first woman elected to the WA Trades & Labour Council executive (1975);
  • member of the first ACTU Women’s Council (1977); later chair (1978);
  • first woman advocate before State Industrial Commission (on the introduction of maternity leave in to WA awards)

Pat was elected as a Senator for Western Australia in 1981 and chaired the Senete Select Commitee on Private Hospitals and Nursing Homes. She was a Senator for 12 years and during that time she was also a big part of the international women’s movement:

  • Member, Australian Government Delegation to Tribune, Mexico, International Women’s Year 1975;
  • Leader, Australian Government Delegation to World Conference for the End of the Decade for Women, Nairobi, July 1985;
  • Leader, Australian Delegation to Meeting of Commonwealth Ministers for Women’s Affairs, Nairobi, 1985; Harare, Zimbabwe, 1987; Ottawa, Canada, 1990;
  • Parliamentary Adviser, United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), New York, September-December 1992.

She then served three terms as President of the International Alliance of Women.

Oh, and she also has 5 kids (and now lots of grandkids).

Some little old lady, huh?

Now, we’re definitely talking about a graduate from the Old School of 70s and 80s feminism, but I am personally of the opinion that us young’ns can still learn a shitload from feminist pioneers like Pat Giles.  And what’s more, we need to be genuinely grateful for, as Sharryn Jackson described it, the path through the jungle that these women have hacked through ahead of us.

One thing that struck me from the masses of adulation about Pat was an ex-diplomat who spoke of how highly world leaders regarded Pat for her work and her approach — a key approach being, saying anything that might be a little harsh with a smile backed up by genuine kindheartedness.  Now that’s a good approach to diplomacy.

It got me thinking back to an article I’d read the night before.  It was from US magazine the Atlantic (picked it up from Borders on Friday, at those dumb air freight rates; I’m subscribing this week) and is entitled ‘Should Women Rule?

The book review goes through several publications that essentially lead to the conclusion that, because of biological and historical givens, women aren’t very good at leading the world. The reviewer then asks this question:

so what if women are power-wielding-impaired? Is ruling the world the only way to change the world?

After going through one final book about the one ‘mom’ who lead a million others to fight the gun lobby, the conclusion is this:

Today, the Barnes & Noble “Women’s Studies” shelves are thick with books on women’s self-esteem, on women’s bodies, on women and money. But to exert more true power in the world, we need to pay less attention to our feelings, our clitorises, and even our 401(k)s. Why in five decades of modern feminist writing have we never seen any serious consideration of, for instance, the PTA, a hugely powerful, 100-plus-year-old, women-founded and women-dominated organization, whose well-funded and effective lobbying arm can actually help push through legislation? The women’s movement has ignored millions of PTA women—women busy baking brownies and zooming about in their Kohl’s wear, who can’t rule the world but who can change it. My fellow PTA mothers—“change agents” all—we need more books that teach us to build and direct our networks to do the work we value.

That’s fair enough; I am all for change agents (I think my dad pioneered some “change agent” program when he was at CARE?). But I think while international diplomacy may not be for everyone woman, there are skills in which women can be a lot better at than men that can be used for ruling as well as changing.

As shown by Pat Giles — she was a P&C mum before she was a Senator.

Now, I’m done blogging for the day; I’m going to bake a cake so that I can eat it (I need to practice that stuff to prepare myself for when I rule the world).

common tactics

So the other day, my dad (who, incidentally, has an online subscription to Harper’s so now I can read all those awesome articles!!) forwarded me a communique from Murdoch Uni’s Guild about how that uni’s admin undertook in some antidisestablishmentarianism* that was eerily familiar to me.

To recap the backstory briefly, the Notre Dame admin people told myself, then editor of the student mag Quasimodo and the relevant Student Association officials that if we didn’t stop criticising the uni in our publication, the uni would seriously consider withdrawing financial support of the Student Association (which doesn’t charge student fees at all, and relies on elected volunteers and admin goodwill** for everything).

The Murdoch situation goes like this:

Chancellor Budge stated that the Guild should consider whether their campaigning “is consistent with an expectation that the University’s financial and in-kind support will also continue.”

This is a Gag Order from the Chancellor: the Guild is to cease campaigning on student issues [with regards to “matters that are damaging to the University“] or else it will not receive any of the prospective student services levy.

The saga, as outlined the The Oz’s Higher Ed Sup yesterday, is pretty much exactly the same as what us Notre Damers had to go through.

What, are the Vice Chancellors like meeting regularly to form some sort of anti-student Axis now? Do they swap cupcake recipies as well?

This issue going to be the topic for my next contribution to newmatilda.com.  For the first, click here.

* I so totally typed that correctly in one go. GO ME!

** I hereby pronouce that term The Oxymoron of the Day.

UPDATE

Oh, PS: I EFFING TOLD YOU SO.

war crimes

During lunch this afternoon I listened to the podcast of Julian Burnside (he’s a “top human rights barrister”!) and Gerry Simpson (professor of international law at the London School of Economics) talk about war crimes and international law at the Melbourne Writers’ Festival.  You can watch/listen online via to the ABC Fora TV site, which I totally recommend you do because I can’t be bothered writing out all the interesting discussion about the history of international law and victors’ justice and such.

However, I wanted to post a link to this article from Harper’s (the awesome American one, not the snooty Australian Bazzar one) if we might soon see a Ticket to The Hague for Dick Cheney? Most amusing was the reference to the report that the PBS network

found that it had no network space for [the documentary] Torturing Democracy until January 20, 2009—the day the Bush Administration decamps from Washington.

I wish our dollar wasn’t so shit so that I could subscribe to Harper’s and read this month’s cover story ‘JUSTICE AFTER BUSH: Prosecuting an Outlaw Administration’, but I’ll have to wait til Borders gets that issue in in June 😛

the new poltwittical frontier

A little while ago Malcolm Turnbull jumped on the Twitter bandwagon (although not before a tech-savvy satirist got in first) and now, with the launch of the re-branded Kevin07 for 2008, www.KevinPM.com.au, old Uncle Kevin has joined in on the fun.

Within hours, of course, @FakeKevinRudd was on board too.

twitstamp.com

And Norg boss Bronwen even did up a new avatar for the Real Kev Ruddy (please stand up) along the lines of the No Clean Feed protest piccies:

kev-pola

Bless! Things move quickly in the Twittscape!

It’ll be interesting to see how Kevs interacts with his “followers”.  Turnbull’s actually replied to people here and there, although you wonder how much they take on board.

Anyway. I’ll sure be watching. Will you?

Seriously, you guys, Twitter is the new Facebook. Sign up already!

the world gets a little more blind

I doubt Ghandi got much wrong in his time. And I reckon the great man was pretty right when he said:

An eye for an eye, and soon the whole world is blind.

Retributive justice is a pretty full-on topic, and I won’t go into much more detail than to say that when I read about last night’s execution of the Bali bombers, I was incredibly disheartened.

People might say that this finally brings an end to the 2002 tragedy, but I wonder if maybe we might have had an end long before now had they merely been given a life sentence and left to rot in jail without the circus of the appeals and now this.

Frankly, this makes it worse. They are now officially martyrs, and who knows how that will be used by their supporters?

This makes me very sad. That is all.

Dr Carmen Lawrence Public Lecture

Professor Jeanette Hacket, Vice Chancellor, Curtin University of Technology, takes pleasure in inviting you to the Launch of the Carmen Lawrence Collection and Curtin Library Public Lecture by Dr Lawrence

Why Inequality Matters

Thursday 13 November 2008

4.30pm Light refreshments served

5.15pm Launch and public lecture

John Curtin Gallery and BankWest Theatre,
Curtin University of Technology, Kent Street, Bentley

RSVP: 9 November 2008 (acceptances only)
Tel: 08 9266 2563 or email: events@curtin.edu.au

In her lecture Dr Lawrence will argue that the most important attribute of a civil society is equality between its citizens and that policies which reduce inequality to the maximum extent possible are likely to be the most effective in improving general well being and reducing civil strife.

a few notecards

Dear America

THANK YOU!

♥ you guys!

— Sunili ×ο×ο

Dear News Ltd

You are such fucktards.

Having “FIRST BLACK PRESIDENT” as
your giant fucking headline completely
misses the fucking point, you fucking
morons. America has grown up. You
should too.

Very sincerely
Sunili

cc Janet Albrechtsen
cc Malcolm Turnbull

Dear Janet

“Plenty [of this]” and “plenty [of that]”
and “many many” means squat.  If it
was close, I would agree that there is
racism. But it wasn’t. You must be
a bleeding-heart little-l liberal if
you think Americans voted for him
JUST BECAUSE he is black.

However, since I’m feeling generous
this evening, I’ll pay you on your
Post-Racism thing.

Regards
Sunili

Dear California

ARE YOU EFFING KIDDING ME????

That you voted yes on 8 totes puts
a dampener on this.

Sunili (sad face)

The Net Nanny Diaries: the Australian Family Associmorons #nocleanfeed

I am now very wary of lobby-groups and political parties etc which put “Family” in their name. Because it is usually code for “Tory Bible-Bashing Wanker”.

When I saw that an op-ed proclaiming the net filter as “a great tool to help parents in their difficult vigil” against the Mean Nasty Ninternet was written by a researcher with the Australian Family Association, I snapped over to Google quick-smart.

Their Wikipedia entry probably requires a “neutrality warning” or whatnot, but it totes justified my prejudgment (and I also felt comforted knowing that the AFA probably hearts prejudgment, too!):

According to its stated objectives, the AFA aims “to cultivate within society an appreciation that the integrity and wellbeing of the family is essential to the stability, morale, security and prosperity of the Australian nation”.

In other words, the AFA comprises a bunch of ignorant wowsers, killjoys, and prurient perverts who really ought to keep their pathetic narrow-mindedness to themselves. The cloak of respectability called “family values” is made of transparent fabric, and barely conceals the stench of hypocrisy. (emphasis added)

Teehee!

But, aside from that amusing description, an old news story in the Google results drew my eye, too.

Apparently, Teh AFA once thought that “a ban on smacking children is going too far” and believed:

… to introduce laws which mean the Government has a role to play in deciding who and who isn’t a good parent, we think that’s going too far.

Um. I’m sorry. WHAT?!

So…………… firstly: those laws about, like, taking kids away from abusive parents and stuff goes “too far”? Because isn’t it the whole point of those that the government goes, “dude, you are a horrible, bogan parent — Step. Away. From the bebbeh”?

Welp. Might as well give them back their crack-pipes with their kiddies, no? Good idea, team. That’s a GREAT way to ensure the “stability, morale, security and prosperity of the Australian nation”.

And, secondly: but NOW they think the government should totally step in and decide that all parents (and, oh yeah, everyone else in the fricking country) totes have to have a filter even if they might prefer another method for educating their kids, like, you know, talking to them and stuff?

Urgh. How do morons manage to gather themselves into “Associations”? We seriously need a vetting agency to stop Idiot Collectives putting out media releases.

The pro-filter article, on how “claims of mandatory ‘censorship’ have been unfair and misleading”, totally misses the point of logic in several ways, and this is my fave:

Should we dismiss the effectiveness of the filters due to the fact that they are not perfect? Most would realise that an automated filtering system will never be 100 per cent accurate. However, having almost 90 per cent of unwanted material blocked is certainly a lot better than none.

Uhhh. Don’t be fooled by the apparently reasonable point. Read between the patronising bullshit and look at what they’re saying.

I don’t think we’re complaining about the 10% of nudie pics that are going to get through, love. We’re complaining about the ridiculous and preposterous proposition about this being an “attempt at making the internet safer for Australians”.

For God’s sake (you “Family” peeps usually like God, don’t you? Cool, so you won’t mind me appealing to his Infinite Reason and Wisdom, right? Awesome), get out of our wombs, our bedrooms and our effing computers.

For more deets on the technical issues with the author’s arguments, see the comments, and for more on the net filter proposal itself, see: http://www.nocleanfeed.com/learn.html (which actually includes like, facts and sources and stuff. Gasp).

student services: who pays wins?

Oh bless. Not many things get the Aussie partisans as worked up as what gets done uni students’ time and money.

In the Red corner: those latte-drinking pinko student unionists, who (allegedly) skip class to sit around in the Guild offices finger-painting painting giant calico banners for the next protest march — forests? Gay marriage? Nuclear energy? Whatever the lame cause, those lefties scumbags will use student funds to politicise it. Oh the horror.

In the Blue corner: those latte-drinking ponyclub Student Liberals, who (allegedly) skip class to work in blue-ribbon electorate offices and assault constituents, or scheme to dupe innocent electors with illegal fake how-to-vote material [See: Pandagate. Oh kids. Those were the days!!] and would rather die than have daddy’s $250 used to pay for a studying mother’s childcare subsidy. I mean. Jeez. Don’t they get Centrelink for that?

Now, having been at a tertiary institution in which the embryo of student activism was well and truly aborted long before that baby could start kicking and screaming (you guys! I am hil-EFFING-larious!!), I never got to witness or be involved in the fun first hand. But I have a little bit of experience when it comes to some of the ideas being tossed around in the current proposal on the student-services-funding merry-go-round:

From July next year, universities will be able to charge students a compulsory $250 fee to run student services like health, childcare and sports clubs.

…”This is a contribution which goes to universities, not to any individual student union, and it is entirely at the discretion of universities,” Mr Rudd said. [ABC News]

UWA’s Guild Prez Nick Barron “says he hopes some of the money will go to the unions”:

“There isn’t really any guarantee in the information that’s been released so far that this money will necessarily reach student organisations which is something we would have liked to have seen,” he said.

“But we’d hope that individual universities would acknowledge that the best service providers are student organisations run by students who are on the ground and have the best contact with the people who these services will ultimately be provided to.” [ABC News]

He better be hoping and praying really hard, though. I heard young Nick being interviewed on jjj’s Hack this afternoon, and when presenter Kate O’Toole asked him what would happen if the university itself had control over student services like student papers, I wanted to pick up the phone and tell them all about dear, darling Quasi. RIP, little guy.

Barron made some great points about how it should be the student organisation that deal with the cash, but I just felt he didn’t have the fear in him. Probably because their student paper has never been told that funding will be withdrawn if they try to publish any sort of criticism of university policy or any sort or anything students might actually give a shit about (that’s a small category; students are generally apathetic buggers, aren’t they?)

From my humble experience, when you take the money to the administration side of the equation, you get the same power structure that might’ve been seen between the Deputy Principal and high school prefects. Fun times.

No hat, no play, children. And don’t forget your permission slips.