You’ve Heard Of The Gender Pay Gap, But There’s More

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 12/08/2018 - 2:00am in

The gender wage gap continues to harm women, their families, and the economy, despite women being in the workforce for decades. But not all women are marginalized by this disparity in the same way. In 1996, the National Committee on Pay Equity decided to bring awareness to the wage gap by creating National Equal Pay Day. The day signifies how long it takes for a woman to make the same amount of money a man makes for the year prior. Each year Equal Pay Day for All is held in April — meaning it will take an average woman about 16 months to make what a typical man makes in a year. But when we look at the wage gap for women of color, this day of “catching up” falls way later in the year — all the way into August.

Eurydice Dixon and the sexism of the system

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 21/06/2018 - 2:40pm in


sexism, sexism

The horrific rape and murder of 22-year-old comedian Eurydice Dixon, in a park just hundreds of metres from her house, has galvanised a discussion about the extent of violence against women in Australia—and how, so often, women are blamed when they are attacked or assaulted.

In the immediate aftermath of Eurydice’s murder, the Victorian police reproduced the standard “stranger danger” and victim blaming script, telling women to “take responsibility for your safety” and “… just make sure you have situational awareness, that you’re aware of your surroundings … If you’ve got a mobile phone, carry it; if you’ve got any concerns, call the police.” A Herald Sun headline declared that Dixon had “strayed into killer’s orbit” while The Australian thought that the first line of their major report should declare she, “wore a blue flower in her hair on the night she was killed”. A memorial to Dixon in Princess Park, where she was murdered, was vandalised.

This time, however, the Victorian police and the conservative media have been met with the impatient outrage of women who are sick and tired of being made to feel responsible for the violence and sexism visited upon them. As so many women have pointed out, they have “situational awareness”—the problem is the situation.

Ten thousand people joined a candlelight vigil in Melbourne, while thousands joined others around the country.

In the era of #metoo, there is a growing awareness of how commonplace harassment and assault are for women. One in five women has experienced sexual assault in Australia; one in three, domestic violence.

Most often they are committed by people known to the victim. In fact the majority of cases of violent sexual assault and murder are also committed by someone known to the victim.

Qi Yu, a 28-year-old woman from Campsie, Sydney has been missing since 8 June, presumed dead—and her male housemate has been charged with murder. Yet Yu’s case has received comparatively little attention.

The Australian Domestic and Family Violence Death Review Network assessed the data on 152 domestic murders in Australia between 2010 and 2014, and found that 80 per cent were committed by a man against his former or current female partner.

Domestic violence and rape are not taken seriously by the legal system. Between 2009 and 2010, 3500 rapes were reported to the Victorian Police. Of these cases, just 3 per cent resulted in a conviction. In many cases, it seems that police did not pursue an investigation at all.

In seeking to turn the victim blaming script around, many are imploring that the focus be on male violence.

Thankfully, we have not seen strong calls for more CCTV and stronger bail laws, as we did when Jill Meagher was raped and murdered in Melbourne in 2012. There was CCTV where Eurydice Dixon was murdered, demonstrating that more surveillance is not the key to safety.

It is important to encourage men to challenge sexism and violence—in any workplace, classroom, bus, or train. Everyday sexism takes a grating toll, and solidarity is necessary to fight it. Just like taking up racism or homophobia, it is part of undermining the prejudices and bigotry that divide us.

Yet that alone will not take us very far as a strategy for social change. Focussing solely on a strategy of “education” draws attention away from the real causes of structural sexism and violence that have to be fought.

Sexism and the system

Sexist attitudes and ideas are a product of the system. The role women play within the nuclear family, shouldering the majority of childcare and housework, is of enormous benefit to capitalism. It means that the reproduction of the labour force the system requires takes place at no cost to big business and the rich. Capitalism also benefits from the gender pay gap, which sees women in the workforce paid less than men.

This is the source of the pervasive sexist stereotypes of women as more caring, accommodating and emotional.

There is a reason why conservative politicians are also comfortable with proposing individual behavioural change as the solution to sexism and violence. Malcolm Turnbull, speaking to parliament, declared, “What we must do as we grieve is ensure that we change the hearts of men to respect women …. [we must start with] with the youngest men, the little boys, our sons and grandsons”.

Yet Turnbull joined a gender panic around Safe Schools, a program that involves questioning harmful gender stereotypes, and took away its funding. So much for starting with “the youngest men”.

His former Deputy Prime Minister, Barnaby Joyce, has consistently opposed abortion and marriage equality.

It was Turnbull who last year threatened community legal centres, which provide essential support to women fleeing violent homes, with $56 million in cuts, only backing down after a community campaign.

Women most at risk from domestic violence—Aboriginal women, pregnant women, young women, women with disabilities, women in financial hardship—have all been attacked by Coalition policies.

Family violence is the leading cause of homelessness amongst women, but since 2011 the number of homeless people has increased 14 per cent, first under Labor and then the Coalition.

The Coalition’s refusal to raise unemployment benefits has left single mothers poorer and poorer, on the back of cuts to their payments under the Gillard government.

So often, it is society’s elite institutions where violence against women is encouraged—think about university colleges, the sporting codes, the Navy, and the Catholic Church. These institutions are tied to the ruling elite in business and politics by a thousand golden threads, and they rarely face sanction without huge effort.

“Starting a conversation” about domestic violence, as Turnbull claimed he wanted to in 2015, is a much cheaper option than doing anything to stop it. Unlike funding the social services women need to secure their independence outside relationships or marriage, “starting a conversation” is free.

This is why the response to Eurydice Dixon needs to go further, and deeper, than simply saying, as Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews did, that men need to change their behaviour. It also needs to be about fighting to close the gender pay gap, for better parental leave, for full decriminalisation of abortion in every state, for domestic violence leave, for stronger laws around pregnancy discrimination, for better union rights, and so on. These are just some of structural factors that help to reproduce the idea of women’s inferiority, and that women and men have an interest in fighting together.

It is also important for fostering a sense of unity and strength, rather than reinforcing the sense of danger and insecurity that women can feel in a hostile world.

At a time like this, we cannot grieve with the Malcolm Turnbulls of the world—instead, we need to unite against them.

By Amy Thomas

The post Eurydice Dixon and the sexism of the system appeared first on Solidarity Online.

Cartoon: The life cycle of a slur

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 05/06/2018 - 9:50pm in

This week's strip was inspired by the recent Samantha Bee controversy, in which the comedian referred to Ivanka Trump as a "feckless c-word" during a monologue about Trump's treatment of undocumented immigrants. This came on the heels of Roseanne having her show canceled for making racist and anti-Semitic remarks on Twitter. Many on the right demanded similar consequences for Bee, who later apologized. But the two incidents were not the same. As I tweeted the other day:

Samantha Bee, a woman, calling a white supremacist wannabe-oligarch's enabling daughter the c-word is punching up. A white person calling a black person an ape and spreading anti-Semitic conspiracy theories is punching down, historical abomination-style.

When it comes to slurs, it's not about the word itself -- it's about the context. The meaning changes depending on who's using the word, and who they're talking about. Samantha Bee is probably the most feminist personality on TV right now. When she drops a c-bomb in the service of criticizing a woman who is complicit in oppression, it may be a crude insult -- but it's not sexist.

Update: To clarify my thoughts a bit more, I try to avoid using language in this way in my own work, since there’s too much room for misinterpretation. And there are reasonable debates to be had about the merits of certain types of reclaiming; I’ve even drawn cartoons in the past about the dangers of embracing your opponents’ insults (“tree hugger” being one example that hasn’t helped reframe the debate, in my opinion). HOWEVER! I’m not “making excuses” for Sam Bee simply because I’m a fan. Had she said something genuinely supportive of patriarchy, I’d criticize it. I think Rebecca Traister gets it right here

It is true that in her critique of Ivanka Trump, Bee used an expletive that is explicitly misogynistic; it is wholly reasonable to object to the word cunt for feminist reasons. It is also reasonable and worthwhile to consider why a term for female anatomy has become such a potent pejorative; why does a word that means vagina also mean “very bad person”? That’s a valid question, but it’s crucial to consider it in this context. Bee was not reinforcing or replicating the crude harm that “cunt” has been used to inflict historically: the patriarchal diminishment and vilification of women. In fact, Bee was using it to criticize a woman precisely because that woman is acting on behalf of that patriarchy, one that systematically diminishes women, destroys families, and hurts children.

Given that we can’t even pass the Equal Rights Amendment, it’s probably a stretch to expect that many people get these subtleties. But one thing that is clear: we can safely dismiss the performative outrage from those who never gave a damn about misogyny until now. 

Support these cartoons — join the Sorensen Subscription Service!

Follow me on Twitter at @JenSorensen

Historic vote sees overwhelming victory for abortion rights in Ireland

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 31/05/2018 - 11:52am in

Ireland has once again made history, voting resoundingly to repeal its 35-year-long constitutional ban on abortion. The Yes vote at last Friday’s referendum of 66.4 per cent was both decisive and overwhelming.

Over two million people out of the country’s small population of less than five million turned out to vote, exceeding even the turnout at Ireland’s 2015 marriage equality referendum. Some urban electorates in Dublin returned “Yes” votes of upwards of 75 per cent. But far from predictions of a conservative “silent majority” in rural Ireland, the pro-choice landslide was consistent across all ages and geographic areas. Exit polls confirmed that support for “woman’s right to choose” was the most popular reason for voting Yes.

The Eighth Amendment of the Irish constitution, which equates the life of a woman with that of a foetus, saw women face a 14-year jail sentence for procuring an abortion. Over 3000 women a year have been forced to travel to Britain to access safe terminations. The repeal of the Eighth Amendment will allow the Irish parliament, the Dáil, to legislate on abortion law. The Fine Gael government says it will introduce a bill before October to allow the right to an abortion without restrictions until 12 weeks of pregnancy. The radical left is pushing for legislation to be passed immediately.

This latest referendum victory marks, to an even greater extent than the marriage equality vote, a decisive blow both against the historic influence of the Catholic Church in Ireland, and the conservative backlash against women’s rights of the 1980s from which the Eighth Amendment emerged.

While Irish Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Leo Varadker has, in a moment of wishful thinking, attempted to rewrite the history of the referendum as a “quiet revolution”, this result has been driven by 35 years of grassroots activism. Far from “quiet”, the Irish pro-choice movement has challenged the Church and state at every step of the way, until recently without any support from the establishment parties.

The death in 2012 of Savita Halappanavar, a Galway woman who contracted septicaemia after being denied an abortion for a fatal foetal abnormality, produced a major turning point in public opinion. As a landslide began to look increasingly certain on polling day, hundreds of Yes voters converged on a mural of Savita in Dublin to leave flowers and messages of condolence. One note read: “Savita, my vote is for you. We owe you so much.”

In the lead up to the referendum, the “Together for Yes” campaign mobilised an army of volunteer canvassers to defeat the combined weight of the Catholic Church and a well-funded “No” campaign.

In addition, the referendum galvanized a campaign of international solidarity in over 27 cities across the world. As in 2015, young Irish emigrants denied a postal vote returned “home to vote”, while others, unable to fly home, took to social media and appealed for relatives to #BeMyYes.

In Australia, members of the Irish community formed an Irish Abortion Rights Campaign that raised over $14,000 for the Yes campaign across 20 separate fundraising events. One of the most well-attended of these fundraisers was a pub quiz, hosted by the human rights lawyer Lizzie O’Shea, at the Drunken Poet in Melbourne. Messages of solidarity were also received from Greens MPs, Victorian Trades Hall, Labor for Choice, and staff and students at Curtin and Melbourne Universities.

Ireland, a country once stereotyped as insular and socially conservative, will now have more progressive abortion laws than either New South Wales or Queensland, where abortion remains a criminal offense. In these states, doctors can only lawfully perform them if they judge a woman’s physical or mental health to be at risk.

As Together for Yes convenor Gráinne Griffin put it, Ireland’s victory, “has lit a beacon of hope for countries all over the world.” Pro-choice activists need to ensure it spreads to the North of Ireland. British Prime Minister Theresa May has refused to reform its extreme anti-abortion laws in response to the referendum, with her coalition partners in the ultra-conservative Democratic Unionist Party an obstacle to reform. And it should encourage a renewed effort at decriminalisation here too.

By Jimmy Yan

The post Historic vote sees overwhelming victory for abortion rights in Ireland appeared first on Solidarity Online.

The Racism of the Tory Party and its Supporters

Yesterday Mike put up a piece commenting on the sheer amount of racism in the Tory party. Evolve Politics had published a piece about the 18 Conservative councillors and council candidates that have been suspended just that month for alleged racism. They gave the name of the councillors and candidates, the towns and areas in which they were standing, and the reasons for their suspension. And it’s a long, ugly list. Most of them were suspended for alleged islamophobia, though there was also accusations of anti-Semitism, general racism, sexism, misogyny, homophobia and abuse of transsexuals. One candidate, Darren Harrison of Watford, had been suspended for allegedly having links to Neo-Nazis and the EDL. The Tory Mayor of Wokingham was also suspended for alleged links to the EDL. Two other Tories were suspended for supposedly abusing and assaulting their fellow activists. Another had allegedly been falsely claiming to have served in the army. And Geoff Driver of Sunderland was suspended on charges of corruption and witness intimidation.

Evolve Politics also reported that the largest Islamic organisation in the UK has called for an inquiry, but this has been ignored, as the media ignored the racism in the Tory party.


A few days earlier, Mike also posted a very relevant piece from the Turning the Tide blog. The blogger there had been a member of a number of Corbyn-supporting groups on Facebook. He had never once encountered a threatening, racist or anti-Semitic remark on them. But the media are fixated on attacking Corbyn with supposed left-wing racism. This is not questioned, because it is shared by so many of the mainstream media. They have also turned a blind eye to the much more prevalent racism in the Tory party. The blogger therefore compiled a selection of on-line hate, garnered from Twitter and Conservative-affiliated webpages. The blogger then gave an example from the Guido Fawkes site. This contained some very nasty comments about Muslims.

Mike then reminded his readers that the Guido Fawkes site has been the source for many of the anti-Semitism stories used by the Blairites and the right-wing media.

He concludes this article with the words

And nothing from the MSM on this issue, even though it is right in front of them.

Are our news reporters now so poor at their jobs that they can’t do even the slightest investigation? Or is their political bias now so great that they refuse to discuss anything that could harm Conservative political chances, no matter who is harmed as a result?

Let’s have an answer, mainstream journalists. You are avoiding this story because of either ignorance or incompetence.

Which is it?

We shouldn’t be surprised at this racism and bias in the Tory party. This is the party, after all, which ran posters advising people to vote Labour if they wanted a Coloured neighbour in the 1960s. I also remember the scandals in the 1980s when the Union of Conservative Students adopted racial nationalism – the official ideology of the National Front and BNP – as its own. As for Guido Fawkes, he was a member of Freedom Association, a Libertarian organisation, when it was inviting the leaders of South American death squads to its annual dinners as guests of honour.

So it’s no surprise that the media are keen for the racism in Tory ranks to remain unreported. There have been academic studies of the role and power of the media, that show how important the media is for shaping which issues or considered suitable for discussion and debate. Those issues that aren’t reported, or which they sneer at, generally are held to be outside the circle of proper debate. And this is another case of the mainstream media trying to do this by not reporting the Tories’ racism.


Katy Balls Writes about ‘Liberal’ Tories, But Do They Really Exist?

Katy Balls, one of the columnists on the I newspaper, wrote a long column on Wednesday claiming that liberal Tories were a dying breed. This branch of the Tory party includes, apparently, Amber Rudd, Justine Greening and Damian Green in England, and ‘Rape Clause’ Ruth Davidson north of the border. With the resignation of Amber Rudd, their ranks are seriously depleted. She then went on describe how the Tories were planning to compensate for their losses in London by attacking weak Labour seats in the north, stressing a social conservative programme.

Social conservatism is the right-wing ideology that stresses traditional western social attitudes against gay rights, immigration and multiculturalism. It’s also very traditional in its attitude to gender roles. Put simply, it’s the attitude of the Daily Mail, which is vehemently racist, and has published no end of pieces arguing that women and society would be better off if they returned to their traditional roles as wives and mothers.

Reading Balls’ article, I wonder who these liberal Tories were, and if they ever really existed. I’ve seen no evidence that Rudd, Davidson, Greening and Green have ever been liberal at all in their treatment of the poor, the disabled and the unemployed. In fact there’s plenty of evidence against it in the Tories’ attacks on these groups through workfare, benefit sanctions, their cuts to vital welfare services and their support of the low wage economy. And while Dave Cameron made a lot of noise about cleaning the racists out of his party, the Tories are still very much against immigration and racist. Rudd’s supposed to be a liberal, but that didn’t stop her presiding over the deportation of the Windrush migrants, though she wasn’t responsible for the policy or the legislation behind it. That was done by Tweezer when she was Dodgy Dave Cameron’s home secretary. As for Ruth Davidson, the only quality she has which might be described as liberal is the fact that she’s a lesbian with a wife, who is now expecting a child. Tolerance of gays is a policy usually associated with the left, and the embrace of gay rights was another, liberal policy adopted by Cameron. But as Private Eye pointed out at the time, the Conservatives always have had slightly more gay MPs than Labour. So it wasn’t much of a break from the Tories’ existing attitudes, at least regarding their own ranks.

The only thing that marks these people out as liberal is they may be less prejudiced against Blacks and ethnic minorities, and far more tolerant of gays than the rest of the party. But they’ve still shown themselves to be viciously persecutory towards working people and the poor. And their supposed anti-racism didn’t stop them from deporting British citizens with a right to stay in this country, simply because they were Black or Asians from the Commonwealth. Or, indeed, that the party as a whole is less racist, although it might be more disguised and expressed less openly. If Balls hadn’t claimed that Rudd, Greening and Green were liberal, it wouldn’t have struck me that they were so. I’ve seen no evidence myself, and I doubt many others have. And despite her sexuality, Ruth Davidson is extremely illiberal, especially when it comes to rape victims and child benefit.

What Balls seems to mean is that if this crew go, then the Tories will become more overtly racist, anti-feminist, Islamophobic and homophobic. This will lead to increased prejudice against gays, Muslims and ethnic minorities, as well as renewed attacks on women and feminism. But it could also show them to be even more out of touch with society and less electable, whether or not they’re campaign in the north.

Kevin Logan on the Far Right’s ‘Day For Freedom’ Video

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 05/05/2018 - 6:25pm in

Tomorrow the far right will be holding a ‘Day for Freedom’ rally in Whitehall in London. Speakers at the rally include racists and xenophobes such as Tommy Robinson, the founder of the EDL, Laura Southern, and ‘virtuous troll’ Milo Yiannopoulos. This is part of the general strategy of the far right in America and Canada to claim that they are defending free speech against the attempts by the left to close it down. They are trying to roll back the left’s attacks on hate speech against minorities, such as ethnic minorities, Muslims, gays, women and the transgendered.

In this video, male feminist and foe of the far right, Kevin Logan, comments on how ridiculous their promotional video for the event is. This shows the various speakers with tape covering their mouths. Then, to funky background music, they take the tape off. Logan first of all comments that the production standards for the Daesh videos have really improved, before making the point that, for people who are supposedly silenced, they’re very vocal. They never shut up.

There is an issue here with the free speech, as I’ve said before. Milo Yiannopoulos did a tour of American campuses ostensibly to promote it and attack the left’s policy of no-platforming extreme rightwing speakers. In fact, this is an pretext for them trying to bring racism, Islamophobia, homophobia and anti-feminism back into the mainstream.

Some of the campus bans on speakers are excessive and, in my view, do severely limit free speech. Germaine Greer, for example, was given a no-platform at one university, because of her attitude that transwomen – male to female transsexuals – aren’t real women. It’s a very controversial position, and other feminists have accused her of bigotry and misogyny. But behind the laws limiting hate speech and the no-platforming policy is are several very good reasons. The demonization of ethnic minorities by the far right is an attempt to whip up hatred against them, hatred that does lead to real, brutal violence, apart from massive social injustice. And it is extremely dangerous, as shown very clearly by the history of apartheid South Africa, Nazi Germany, and other Fascist regimes around the world. And the same is true for gays, and transpeople. Logan himself has also attacked the various members of the anti-feminist far right for their sheer misogyny, which can lead to them defending and validating violence against women and even rape. See his series of vlogs, ‘Descent of the Manosphere’ for far too many examples.

Antifa are also planning to turn up tomorrow, so there will be counterprotests. I’m afraid that there might be violence, so it might be wise for some people to avoid that area tomorrow.

Pat Mills: Be Pure! Be Vigilant! Behave! 2000AD and Judge Dredd: The Secret History: Part One

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 31/03/2018 - 12:41am in

Pat Mills is the creator and founding editor of 2000AD, and this is history of the comic as he remembers it, although he recognises that others’ memories may be different and contradict his. It takes its title from the watchwords of his most popular villain: Torquemada, the ultimate Fascist Grand Master of Termight, in a feudal age of space travel, violence and magic far in the future. The book is divided into three sections, each named after one of Torquemada’s three commands. The slogan even turned up on the Berlin wall, which figures. The East Germans had been living under a dictatorship not too different from Torquemada’s. It was anti-racist and anti-Fascist, but still very much a police state, where the country was watched and dissent ruthlessly crushed. A friend of mine also told me that the slogan was used by Adolf Hitler in a speech he gave to the Bund Deutscher Madel, or German Maids’ League, the female equivalent of the Hitler Youth. Which also figures. Torquemada wanted to exterminate every intelligent alien race in the Galaxy, and was constantly making speeches exhorting humans not to ‘have truck with deviant, dally with the succubus’ and so on. In other words, no racial mixing. Which was definitely what the Nazis were trying to indoctrinate these girls with.

The book tells how Mills and John Wagner got sick of grinding out stories in a garden shed, lit by paraffin lamps, and moved to London to revolutionise British comics with creation of Battle, Action and 2000AD – the Galaxy’s greatest comic. At this stage of their career, Mills and Wagner were so poor that they couldn’t afford new typing paper after they ran out, and so at one point ended typing them up on tracing paper. The economics of writing stories was such that to make ends meet, you had to write several stories very quickly in a matter of days.

It is this attitude, and the British industry’s contemptible treatment of comics creators, that Mills returns to criticise throughout this book, making a very strong and convincing case that it is these attitudes that have caused the decline in comics in Britain in contrast to France, where they are flourishing. In Britain, comics creators do not own the rights to creations. They can be given to other writers and artists, and their creators are not paid royalties for them. In France, the reverse is true, and so comics creators spend years, decades, writing and drawing some of the greatest strips in the world. Think of such comic greats as Moebius, Caza, and Enki Bilal, and the rest of them, who came out of Metal Hurlant and les Humanoides Associes.

He also had to cope with the lack of interest in any reform from the old guard, who were quite simply just content to go on as they always had, until the industry finally collapsed and they were made unemployed or drew their pensions. They were shocked when Mills bought several books on science, because he was writing and editing a science fiction comic. This was too much for company management, who found the idea of doing research for a children’s comic ridiculous. And then there’s the issue of the studied contempt the management treated artists’ work. They used them on dartboards, or to plug drains. Several artists told Mills flatly that they weren’t going to work him as IPC was the company that closed down Frank Bellamy’s studio. Bellamy, along with Frank Hampson, was the awesome artist who worked on the classic Dan Dare. And his artwork was treated in the same contemptible fashion. As a result, much of it has been lost, although its still a massive favourite at fan conventions and when it comes on the market, rightly fetches high sums.

Mills tells the story of how he came to create favourite 2000AD characters like Judge Dredd, Nemesis the Warlock, Slaine and Finn. He champions the work of artists, who he feels have been unfairly neglected, or even vilified. They include Belardinelli for his contribution to the Slaine strip, which he is proud to have had put back into Titan’s reprints of the strip, as well as SMS, David Bircham, and Fay Dalton. SMS is a superb artist, whose work has appeared on the cover of Interzone, amongst others. He drew the ABC Warriors strip when they were trying to save Termight and the universe from destruction from an artificial black hole, created by Terra’s engineers to give them quick access to space and the Galaxy. One of the results was a whole city like the dimension-twisting drawings of the zarjaz Max Escher. Fay Dalton won a £1,000 prize in a competition to get more women into comics. She draws and paints in a retro style, looking back to the glamour of the 50s. She didn’t last long. It was too sexy for the puritanical Thargs. Then there was the sheer abuse some fans meted out to John Hicklenton, another awesome artist best known for his work on Nemesis the Warlock. Hicklenton was stricken with MS, and sadly ended his life in a Dignitas Clinic. His career and struggle with the condition was the subject of Channel 4 documentary a few years ago. His escape from this ‘medieval, terrorist disease’ was his art, and so it was particularly cruel that he should have subjected to often very coarse abuse.

Mills is also unhappy, and understandably so, about the way his then wife, and co-creator of Slaine, Angela Kincaid, was treated by the other writers and artists. She was the artist on the very first Slaine strip. This topped the reader’s polls that week, but she was very much excluded from the boy’s club of the other creators. No-one rang her up to congratulate her and she was ignored by them. This wouldn’t have occurred if she was a bloke.

Mills takes the time to correct a few myths. He was determined that it wouldn’t be a comic dominated by a main strip, which carried the others, like Captain Hurricane in Valiant. Instead, it was to be a comic of all main strips, including the revived Dan Dare, Mach 1, a superpowered secret agent based on The Six Million Dollar Man, and Shako. This was about a polar bear, who was being chased by the American army because it had swallowed a top secret, radioactive satellite that had crashed to Earth. He also talks about the creation of such fave strips as Ro-Busters, which became the ABC Warriors, and, of course, Nemesis the Warlock and the inspiration for Torquemada.

The evil Grand Master and Judge Dredd were based on two, viciously sadistic monks teaching at his old Roman Catholic school, and, he strongly hints, were paedophiles. One of them was yanked from teaching and sent to monastery in the Channel Islands to sort out his sexual appetites. He was later sacked, and returned briefly as a lay teacher, before being kicked again. The schoolboys made jokes about how the other monks on the island must be similarly depraved, and imagined what shipwrecked sailors would do. Coming up the beach to find the Brothers running towards them, they’d turn and head as quickly as possible back to the sea. But neither of the two were prosecuted. Other old boys have found literary outlets to express their pain and trauma at the hands of these monsters. Mills simply states that his is humiliating Torquemada.

Continued in Part Two.

Helpful Remarks Regarding Implicit Bias

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 29/03/2018 - 3:38am in

Some common criticisms of implicit bias are mistaken, argue John Doris (Washington Univ., St. Louis), Laura Niemi (Duke), and Keith Payne (UNC Chapel Hill) in a recent column at Scientific American.

Increased awareness and study of implicit bias has been accompanied by increased skepticism about it, owing to questions raised about the Implicit Association Test (IAT), an instrument often used to measure implicit bias. This skepticism surfaces sometimes in comments in the philosophical blogosphere, where certain efforts aimed at increasing diversity in philosophy, or projects aimed at studying bias, are criticized for relying on an allegedly”discredited” idea.

Payne, Niemi, and Doris first note that problems with the IAT don’t show that implicit bias doesn’t exist:

The IAT is a measure, and it doesn’t follow from a particular measure being flawed that the phenomenon we’re attempting to measure is not real. Drawing that conclusion is to commit the Divining Rod Fallacy: just because a rod doesn’t find water doesn’t mean there’s no such thing as water. 

They say that issues with the IAT should lead us to ask about what other evidence there is for implicit bias. Apparently, “there is lots of other evidence”:

There are perceptual illusions, for example, in which white subjects perceive black faces as angrier than white faces with the same expression. Race can bias people to see harmless objects as weapons when they are in the hands of black men, and to dislike abstract images that are paired with black faces. And there are dozens of variants of laboratory tasks finding that most participants are faster to identify bad words paired with black faces than white faces. None of these measures is without limitations, but they show the same pattern of reliable bias as the IAT. There is a mountain of evidence—independent of any single test—that implicit bias is real.

Second, the authors warn against expecting too much predictive power from the instruments used to measure implicit bias:

It is frequently complained that an individual’s IAT score doesn’t tell you whether they will discriminate on a particular occasion. This is to commit the Palm Reading Fallacy: unlike palm readers, research psychologists aren’t usually in the business of telling you, as an individual, what your life holds in store. Most measures in psychology, from aptitude tests to personality scales, are useful for predicting how groups will respond on average, not forecasting how particular individuals will behave…

What the IAT does, and does well, is predict average outcomes across larger entities like counties, cities, or states. For example, metro areas with greater average implicit bias have larger racial disparities in police shootings. And counties with greater average implicit bias have larger racial disparities in infant health problems. These correlations are important: the lives of black citizens and newborn black babies depend on them.

The authors note that there is an abundance of evidence for persistent “widespread pattern of discrimination and disparities,” despite widespread disavowals of racism. This “bears a much closer resemblance to the widespread stereotypical thoughts seen on implicit tests than to the survey studies in which most people present themselves as unbiased.”

The column is here.

Kip Omolade, “Diovadiova Chrome”

The post Helpful Remarks Regarding Implicit Bias appeared first on Daily Nous.

Zelda D’Aprano—a fighter for women workers and equal pay

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 27/03/2018 - 10:17am in



Every great social movement finds individuals who become its symbols—Rosa Parks for the American Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s; Eddie Mabo for land rights.

Zelda D’Aprano, who died last month at the age of 90, became a symbol of the struggle for Equal Pay in Australia in October 1969 when she chained herself to the doors of the Commonwealth Building in Melbourne. Zelda was protesting against a miserable, limited decision of the Arbitration Commission to only grant equal pay to women who could establish that their work was of equal worth to that of men. Ten days later, she was joined by two teachers who chained themselves to the door of the Arbitration Commission on the day that Victorian teachers went on strike for equal pay.

Zelda was front-page news for the first time in her life, but in reality these imaginative stunts were just two more actions in a life of bitter struggle, against poverty, exploitation, sexism, and the sluggish indifference of too many trade union leaders to the problems faced by women workers.

Her working life in Melbourne started at the age of 13. She moved through a series of dead-end jobs, many in the sweatshops of the clothing industry, before starting work as a dental nurse in a psychiatric hospital.

For 15 years she fought the vicious far-right leadership of the Hospital Employees Federation who did nothing for the wages and conditions of their members because their main concern was the Catholic Church’s campaign to destroy communism.

She campaigned within the union to allow members in her hospital to have their own sub-branch so they could meet and organise for better conditions. She campaigned to get the union to demand higher wages, safer working conditions and was a leader in the union’s first strike action against demoralising rosters. In her autobiography, she recalled that, “For an industry or service where stoppages were almost unheard of, the tension was terrible.”

She argued against those who saw nurses as “professionals” who did not belong in the same union as tradespeople, and stood up against sisters and matrons who routinely humiliated the staff they supervised.

In her personal life, after years living in single bedrooms in other people’s houses, with all the tension and unhappiness that involved, she had threatened to sit in in the Victorian Housing Commission head office unless they stopped delaying and provided a home for her family.

Equal pay case

Exhausted by the demands of nursing, in 1969 she started working in the office of the Meatworkers’ Union (AMIEU). The Meatworkers’ were the test case for the 1969 Arbitration Commission decision on equal pay. The decision was a defeat for the union, and for women, giving just 5 per cent of women the opportunity to gain male rates of pay.

It was that decision that led to her chaining herself to the Commission’s doors in October 1969.

Within the union, her militancy and determination to stand up for herself led to her sacking by its communist leadership. Zelda had been a committed party member for over 20 years and worked tirelessly in her suburb and union for the party. When the party was pressured into an investigation, the result was a bureaucratic whitewash which protected the high-profile union secretary.

Zelda shifted her focus. She was instrumental in setting up Women’s Liberation in Melbourne and the Women’s Action Committee. They organised the first public protest for abortion rights, campaigned against the objectification of women in the Miss Teenage Quest, and refused to pay full fare on Melbourne’s trams because they had been denied equal pay.

Zelda’s story is nowhere better told than in her autobiography, Zelda: the becoming of a woman, first published in 1977.

It was written at a time when the voices of working class women were almost never heard; and indeed a period when activist women were routinely ridiculed in the media.

The book’s greatness also lies in the clarity and honesty of her writing, and in the way that she integrates heart-rending accounts of all aspects of the oppression she experience—the fear of pregnancy, the pain of her abortions, rape and sexual assault, including at the hands of party members, the arrogance of doctors—alongside a love of humanity and a fierce determination to stand up for herself and others. The humiliations of class and poverty are interwoven with the humiliations of being a woman, and the child of immigrants.

Over the past fortnight, I’ve been surprised to find IWD activists and young, radical women trade union organisers who had never heard of Zelda.

That’s a pity, because apart from being an inspiration, her work is unfinished.

For all the gains made by women over the past 40 years, we have a government determined to maintain the gender pay gap (by refusing to fund better pay for childcare workers), to do nothing substantial for women facing violence, and to maintain the family stereotypes that Zelda saw as underpinning it.

By Phil Griffiths

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