sexism

Error message

Deprecated function: The each() function is deprecated. This message will be suppressed on further calls in _menu_load_objects() (line 579 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/menu.inc).

Youth survivors on the march against Morrison’s ongoing failure on sexism

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 09/05/2021 - 3:30pm in

Tags 

sexism

A crowd of 200 people, most of them high school students and young women, gathered at Sydney Town Hall yesterday to protest Scott Morrison’s ongoing failure to act on sexism. The rally was called by Youth Survivors 4 Justice, a group of mainly high school women and survivors formed to confront the sexism that faces us in our schools, workplaces, and daily lives.

Shanaya Donovan, a 17-year-old Darug, Dhungutti and Gumbaynggirr woman and one of the rally organisers, laid the blame for sexism squarely at the feet of the Liberal government, telling the crowd: “It starts in government and it trickles down to the rest of society like a giant domino that we can’t stop unless we band together.”

In the wake of the rape crisis in parliament, the Coalition government has put more Liberal women in cabinet positions but has failed to promise any meaningful change through the funding needed for essential services that support the most vulnerable women in Australia.

As Feiyi Zhang, a community sector worker and member of the Australian Services Union, put it: “Services are drastically underfunded and overwhelmed by the people they need to support. They don’t have the staff and resources to assist. DV West alone had to turn away 1280 women and children last year, half of the number who sought their help.

“The government has now cut JobSeeker despite poverty being a key determinant in whether women leave violent relationships. Many women will stay with abusive partners because there are no other options for them to financially survive.”

The rally demanded an increase in the JobSeeker rate to $80 a day, adequate funding for domestic violence and women’s health services, and legislating enthusiastic consent and expanding education around sex, consent and sexism in schools.

Speeches from survivors drew emotion and anger from the crowd, revealing the depth of pain at the heart of the issue. Survivor and activist Amanda Matthews spoke of her own childhood trauma, emphasising how sexual violence often takes place in the domestic sphere. She called on everyone to “teach young people, teach children that it’s ok to speak up” about sexual abuse.

Saxon Mullins, director of the Rape & Sexual Assault Research & Advocacy Initiative, spoke of the need for survivors’ voices to be heard. Mullins also connected the issue to Aboriginal deaths in custody, referring to Scott Morrison’s contempt for those facing violence at the hands of the police and prison system.

Community sector worker and Goreng Goreng Kabi Kabi Munanjali woman Yatungka Gordon spoke of her work with First Nations women, describing the importance of genuinely impactful education programs.

Other speeches drew links between government cutbacks and neo-liberalism and sexism. University worker Ruby Wawn spoke about casualisation as yet another factor in women’s economic precarity. Jenny Leong, NSW Greens MP for Newtown, called on governments to “not pretend that any of the traumas that people here have gone through are things that we cannot solve.

“We can solve all of these things. There are people in charge who have an interest in keeping that trauma happening.” Wider issues like homelessness, police violence and privatisation all exacerbated sexism, she argued.

As the march began, the chant “1, 2, 3, 4, sexist Liberals out the door, 5,6, 7, 8, stop the violence, stop the rape” drew widespread support from passers-by.

On the same day in Brisbane, 150 protesters rallied near Liberal MP Andrew Laming’s office, calling on him to resign over his repeated harassment of women—and on Scott Morrison to kick him out of the Liberal Party now, not at the next election.

It is going to take more protests and grassroots action to push back sexism and tear up the system that promotes it.

By Matilda Fay

The post Youth survivors on the march against Morrison’s ongoing failure on sexism appeared first on Solidarity Online.

Election Promises of Labour and TUSC Candidates in Bristol Mayoral Elections

Down here in Bristol we not only have elections for the city council looming, but also for the elected mayor and police and crime commissioner. Because of health issues, not just my own but also other members of my family, we’ve arranged to have postal votes. The ballot papers arrived the other day, and enclosed with them were booklets produced by the local authority explaining the voting procedure, answering various FAQs and giving policy statements and promises from the candidates. Not only does Bristol have a Labour candidate, the present elected mayor Marvin Rees, but there’s also one from the Trade Union and Socialist Coalition, Tom Baldwin. Here’s their election promises from the booklet for the mayoral election.

Mayor Marvin’s runs

Delivering for Bristol

Building a City of Hope

It is an honour to serve as Mayor of Bristol, the city I am proud to be from and where I am bringing up my family.

Together we have led Bristol in the face of the pandemic, economic downturn, social change and instability, and climate change, with the added uncertainty of Brexit. Many of us have experienced real loss this year, as people have come together like never before to support each other.

Working with partners all over Bristol, we are building a city where nobody is left behind underpinning our ambition with compassion and our commitment to sustainability. We are focused on protecting and creating jobs, and delivering for residents, we are creating jobs by bringing employers like Channel 4 to our city, bringing hundreds of millions of pounds worth of investment into Bristol, and delivering our mass transit system.

Together, against the odds, we are making a difference.

On 6 May, we are proudly standing on our record of delivery – including all our 2016 pledges and more. With your support, we can all keep building a more sustainable, inclusive, and ambitious Bristol: our City of Hope.”

There then follows a list of what Labour has already achieved.

“9,000 new homes, tripling affordable house-building, rough sleeping down 80%

12,000 work experiences and £9m for south Bristol construction skills centre.

99 new biogas buses, RPZ fees frozen, 75 miles of segregated cycleways

Kept all our libraries and children’s centres open

Building new schools, creating mental health training and free breakfast clubs

Best core city for recycling, deep-cleaned 700 streets, planted 60,000 trees

Won Channel 4 relocation, invested in sport and leisure centres – giving control to communities”

This is followed by his promises for the future

“Building our underground, with free travel for apprentices and students

Protecting jobs and building a living wage city

Investing £1 billion in clean energy and doubling our trees

Investing in more schools and quality work experience

Building 2,000 new homes a year – 1,000 affordable

Investing in social care, helping older people stay in their homes.”

The pages for Tom Baldwin of the TUSC state has the statement ‘TUSC Against Cuts’, and then proceeds as follows:

“Tom says: “The pandemic has exposed the huge injustices and the divide between workers and big business. We’ve had to fight for our safety as the bosses and government put profits first. Now we have to fight to protect jobs and services as they try to make us pay for the crisis.

Bristol needs a mayor who will stand up for ordinary people. I stand for a socialist society run for people not profit.”

‘The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition organises to give a voice to working-class people who have been abandoned by the main parties. It includes the RMT union and the Socialist Party, of which Tom is a member.

Tom is 37 and lives in Aston. He is an active trade unionist and campaigner.

Bristol needs a fightback

Defend jobs and services – Vote Tom Baldwin

A Socialist mayor for the millions, not the millionaires

If elected Tom will…

  • Build a mass united struggle of workers and young people to win back the council funding taken by the government.
  • Reverse all cuts to council jobs and services, move budgets based on Bristol’s needs.
  • Oppose and reverse outsourcing and privatisation.
  • Never increase council tax, rents and charges faster than wages rise
  • Push for a publicly owned, top quality and affordable public transport network, run for need not profit
  • Address the housing crisis by building thousands of council homes and capping private rents
  • Defend the right to peaceful protest
  • Fight for decent jobs. Support all campaigns to protect safety, jobs, pay and conditions, including strike action by workers
  • Stand for jobs and homes for all. Oppose racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia and all other forms of oppression and division.
  • Only take the average wage of a worker in the city, not the inflated £79,000 mayoral salary.’

___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

As you know, I despise Keir Starmer and his continuing destruction of the Labour party, including the purge of left-wingers and socialists, in order to turn it into a Blairite neoliberal party. I’ve also got criticisms of the way Marvin Rees has run the city, but in general I think he’s done a good job and has been a far better mayor than his predecessor, ‘Red Trousers’ Ferguson.

I’ve been told by some of the great peeps on this blog that the TUSC were formed by the people in the Labour party, who were thrown out for opposing Blair’s cuts and policy changes, though I’ve also heard that the Socialist Party is the former Militant Tendency, a group that infiltrated and tried to take over the Labour party in the 1980s. But their policies are what the Labour party should be standing for. The mayoral elections are run according to proportional representation. I would therefore urge people to consider giving the TUSC their second vote.

If more people vote for them, to the point where it’s a significant number, perhaps the leaders of the Labour party will take note, and move the party further to the left. Or it will encourage the present Labour left to continue the struggle against the Blairites by showing them that real, socialist policies are popular and can win.

Organising at work key to stopping wave of harassment against women

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 22/04/2021 - 11:13am in

Tags 

sexism

Nearly a year after its release, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has finally responded to the Respect@Work report. His “Roadmap for Respect” agrees with or notes the 55 recommendations of the report but does not commit to fully implement them.

Workplace sexual harassment is appallingly widespread. Fully 39 per cent of women have experienced workplace sexual harassment in the past five years and more than 85 per cent of women over the age of 15 in their lifetime. Yet less than one in five people who experience harassment makes a formal complaint.

The disgust at the Coalition’s failure over sexual assault in parliament, and the nationwide March 4 Justice protests, have forced Morrison to act.

The report recommended a series of legal changes including the extension of liability to people who aid or permit sexual harassment at work, longer time frames to lodge a legal complaint, and the possibility of dismissal for workplace sexual harassment. But the government has rejected its advice to place obligations on employers to prevent harassment, claiming these already exist in workplace health and safety laws.

The report also criticised inadequate funding for services, including the 1800RESPECT domestic violence hotline, where the Coalition has cut costs. It also called for funding for Working Women’s Centres and Community Legal Centres, whose funding was initially cut by the Liberals and then restored after an outcry over the effects on Indigenous people and survivors of domestic violence.

But they remain chronically underfunded with specialist women’s legal services needing an extra $25 million a year to support women experiencing domestic violence. Morrison has failed to guarantee any extra money.

Retail sector

Sexual harassment is a product of the sexism that exists across society, but is more likely where women have less power at work.

The experience of women in the retail sector is one example. Workers here are often young and insecurely employed. So the risk of sexual harassment is even higher. Around half of women experienced sexual harassment seven times in a year, an Australian Human Rights Commission report found in 2019.

A 2020 survey by the Retail and Fast Food Workers Union (RAFFWU) found sexual harassment was rampant at JB Hi-Fi. Almost half of surveyed members had experienced discussion about hiring women on the basis of their appearance, comments about women’s bodies, or the use of gendered language such as “bitchy” or “bossy” to refer to women staff. More than half had also experienced unwelcome touching or sexual advances at work.

Sexual harassment is mostly committed by co-workers and supervisors, with customers also responsible in one-third of cases.

But fewer than 3 per cent of bosses are reported for sexual harassment. Even former NSW Liberal MP Pru Goward concedes that this reflects the power of bosses to fire anyone who speaks out.

Alongside the rise of casualisation and insecure work, a 2018 survey by the Australian Human Rights Commission found that workplace sexual harassment has actually increased in the past 15 years.

Insecurely employed

Women make up 47.2 per cent of all Australian employees. But they are also more likely to be insecurely employed, making up 67.2 per cent of part-time employees and on average earn 13.4 per cent less than men.

Casualisation leaves women without the confidence of a secure job to speak up about abuse and harassment. And the Coalition’s efforts to encourage more workplace “flexibility” will only make this worse.

For migrant women, precarious employment linked to their visa status makes it even harder, with one union member stating, “I’m worried that if I lose this job I won’t be able to find another permanent job in Australia. That makes it hard to say anything.”

Education campaigns and legal changes will do little to help. The reason so few women report their experiences is that few have any confidence in what will happen.

Union workplace organising is the key to building the power at work to address the issue, along with fighting the conditions that leave women vulnerable to abuse in the first place.

There are many examples of this. In 2018, workers walked out of McDonald’s franchises across the US after management refused to take harassment complaints seriously, as part of the Fight for $15 an hour wage campaign.

And in 2019, a strike of 800 workers at Chemist Warehouse distribution centres in Melbourne and Brisbane united men and women workers behind a campaign against sexual harassment and bullying after workers reported that managers had offered shifts in exchange for sex. The industrial action forced one manager involved to resign and also won pay rises and permanent jobs for many workers.

To fight sexual harassment at work, we need to fight for secure and well paid jobs that give women the confidence to stand up to abuse.

By Ruby Wawn

The post Organising at work key to stopping wave of harassment against women appeared first on Solidarity Online.

Vida Goldstein: pioneer in the fight against sexism and poverty

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 15/04/2021 - 4:27pm in

Vida Goldstein was a leading Australian suffragette and campaigner for women’s rights in the late 19th and early 20th century who courageously challenged the prevailing sexism in society.

Jacqueline Kent’s new biography illuminates Goldstein’s extraordinary life in the context of the social movements and political debates of the period. It highlights her steadfast ideals and ability to organise movements which boldly intervened in society to effect change.

As women again rise to challenge inequality and oppression, this biography provides an inspiring example about both previous struggles and future possibilities.

Vida Goldstein was born in 1869 in Portland, Victoria, into a middle-class family. She grew up in Melbourne, which was a wealthy city but also one in which large numbers of working people lived in squalid, overcrowded conditions.

Vida’s mother, Isabelle, was influenced by moderate Christian socialism and worked to gain aid for the unemployed, better conditions for female prisoners and to organise Australia’s first creche in Collingwood to provide childcare for working women.

In her youth Vida joined these campaigns and also a committee led by the first female medical doctors to initiate and raise funds for a women’s health clinic and later to establish the Queen Victoria Women’s Hospital.

Right to vote

The unequal status of women and their exclusion from political life was being challenged by a new generation of women. In 1891 Goldstein joined the campaign for women’s suffrage, collecting signatures for a petition to the Victorian Parliament. Some 30,000 signatures were collected on what became known as the “monster petition” for women’s right to vote.

Following this, legislation granting the vote to women passed the Victorian Legislative Assembly 17 times, only to be blocked by the conservative Legislative Council (Victoria’s upper house), even though women’s suffrage (including for Indigenous women) was granted in South Australia in 1894.

This upper house was dominated by wealthy businessmen and pastoralists. While reformist liberals and early Labor representatives backed women’s suffrage, the privileged representatives repeatedly blocked the vote for women. It was this that helped cement Goldstein’s view that it was not men but the “propertied classes” that were the obstacle to women’s suffrage.

Jaqueline Kent describes the patronising attitudes and harassment faced by women campaigners when they met with the male politicians of the Legislative Council. It is a scene which unfortunately resembles the current experiences of female politicians and staffers in Federal Parliament.

Goldstein became recognised as a persuasive speaker, organiser and leader in the movement. In 1899 she was elected secretary of the United Council for Women’s Suffrage (UCWS).

While the movement was mainly led by middle class women, Goldstein worked closely with trade unionists and developed an analysis about the barriers presented by the “propertied classes” and the key role of working people in the struggle for equality. Affiliates to the UCWS included Trades Hall Council and the new Victorian Lady Teachers Association.

Goldstein herself was a strong advocate of equal pay for equal work, including in her own field of teaching. She viewed gaining political rights as a means to achieve much wider social reform and equality for women.

In 1902 the Australian Commonwealth granted the vote to most men and women aged over 21. Unfortunately, racist amendments excluded Indigenous people. This historic achievement for white women reflected the determined campaign for women’s suffrage and the labour movement’s rising support for this demand.

The Australian suffragettes had close connections with the international movement. Goldstein travelled to the USA to attend the first conference of the International Woman Suffrage Alliance and spent months on a speaking tour. She later published an Open Letter to the Women of America, which contained this advice:

“You want, and must have, the support of the rank and file of the working people. And just here is your weakness, you haven’t got it … every social reform worth having has been won only through getting the support of the workers. It is they who feel the need for reform most, because it is they who suffer most in our present social condition.”

New political rights

The 1903 federal election was the first opportunity for women to exercise their new political rights and Goldstein seized the moment, standing as an independent Victorian senate candidate. This was unprecedented and attracted great publicity.

She toured the state, speaking at large public meetings in Melbourne and country towns. While the press coverage tended to be patronising, Kent captures the extent to which Goldstein’s campaign personified a new spirit of female assertiveness which couldn’t be ignored.

Goldstein used the Senate campaign to build the confidence of other women to act and as a platform to amplify the call for women’s equality. The key elements of her program in this and future elections included equal pay, equal divorce laws and parental rights, the right of women to occupy all government and social positions such as jurors, legal and financial protection of children to age 21, and welfare support for single mothers and their families.

She asserted the need for women’s views to be heard when decisions impacting them were being made. While not elected, Goldstein won an impressive 51,497 votes for this platform of women’s equality and civil rights. Despite this, the process of achieving change proved frustrating. Victoria did not grant women the vote until 1908.

Goldstein campaigned as a candidate in four other federal elections (1910 and 1917 for the Senate and 1913 and 1914 for the House of Representatives). However, she declined suggestions to stand as a Labor Party candidate and lacked a viable electoral pathway to parliament. This independence was often criticised by key allies in the movements as being divisive, but Goldstein was suspicious of the role of “party machines” and critical of the Labor Party’s support for national military development.

Goldstein innovated and developed her political ideas and strategies. She researched, wrote and edited a newspaper Woman Voter. Goldstein engaged in sustained social activism for equal pay, a living wage for workers, to raise the age of consent and for legal reform of children’s courts.

Through this work the connections between women’s oppression and social class inequalities were evident. Goldstein became more critical of the capitalist system itself and from 1906 she wrote articles and spoke at a series of public meetings to advocate socialism, achieved through reform, as the best means to overcome inequality. This form of moderate socialism based on trade unionism, the formation of workers’ co-operatives and public ownership of utilities and industry aligned with ideas common on the left and influential in the development of the early Labor Party.

Vida Goldstein was further radicalised by the experience of the British suffragette movement, which faced harsh repression from the British state and ruling class, who refused to grant reforms. A fascinating part of this biography describes her 1911 visit to Britain as a leading participant in the mass movement for women’s suffrage.

Goldstein publicly backed the militant protest tactics used by the British suffragettes as a legitimate response to the failure of “patient work by constitutional means” and “from a knowledge, bitterly enforced upon you, that the more pacific methods employed … were bound to continue wholly ineffectual”.

On her return, she declared: “We of the Women’s Political Association are working for the same ends as the suffragettes, for the freedom of women and children and men from legal and industrial slavery, for an exalted manhood, womanhood, childhood, for higher political ideals and practices.”

Opposing war

Goldstein’s shift to the left was also occurring in a context where the women’s movement itself was becoming more fractured along class and political lines. In 1904 the conservative Australian Women’s National League (AWNL) was founded to “counteract socialistic tendencies, to educate the women of Victoria to realise their political responsibilities, to safeguard the interests of the home, women and children”.

The AWNL was sponsored by the Victorian Employers Federation and built a mass membership. By 1914 it claimed 52,000 members compared with about 1000 members of the Women’s Political Association (WPA) led by Goldstein. The AWNL would go on to become a key founding member of the Australian Liberal Party in 1944.

With the onset of the First World War, these debates and struggles became much sharper. Goldstein had previously opposed the policy of compulsory military training introduced by the Fisher Labor Government in 1911. When war was declared in 1914, the Fisher Government declared its full support for the Empire and war effort.

Amid the patriotic fervour, Goldstein was among a small minority who opposed the war from the outset. The WPA paper Woman Voter editorialised against the war and faced censorship under the War Precautions Act. In December 1914 the WPA held an outdoor meeting to protest the sharp rise in food prices caused by the war and to advocate for peace.

In 1915 Goldstein formed the Women’s Peace Army to campaign against the war. Working people and the labour movement began to shift against the war as the cost of living rose along with the death toll. The decision by Labor Prime Minister Billy Hughes to advocate conscription for overseas service created huge controversy. Trade unions and most of the Labor Party itself mobilised against conscription and formed a fighting alliance with socialists and pacifists.

Kent’s biography contains compelling accounts of this period of heroic struggle. Goldstein and other leaders such as Adela Pankhurst and Cecilia John were centrally involved in the mass agitation and struggle to defeat conscription. They braved abuse from patriotic returned soldiers to speak at public meetings and distribute anti-conscription materials on the streets.

The Women’s Peace Army mass-produced the persuasive “Blood Vote” poster which showed a woman considering the real meaning of a “Yes” vote. Goldstein’s campaign both used and subverted traditional female roles such as motherhood to challenge the barbarity of war.

Their anthem, sung at meetings, was “I Didn’t Raise My Boy to be a Soldier” which asks “Who dares to put a musket on his shoulder, to shoot some other mother’s darling boy”. Their campaign stripped away the patriotic gloss of war to define soldiering as state-sanctioned killing, in the interests of ruling elites alone.

The combined movement would prevail against the leading institutions of society to defeat conscription, winning a majority of “No” votes in the plebiscites of 1916 and 1917.

General strike

In August 1917 the social strain caused by war led to a mass general strike among workers in NSW and Victoria. Kent describes how the WPA’s headquarters in Melbourne became the “Guild Hall Commune”; a strike organising and relief centre, providing meals and essential supplies and services for literally thousands of striking waterside workers and their families.

In the same year, Goldstein stood for the Senate on an explicitly anti-war platform. She spoke at a mass meeting of 1500 people in Bendigo and denounced the British Empire as a “warmongering institution”. Her opponents labelled her anti-marriage, pro-German and an advocate of free love.

Standing as a radical independent, her vote fell. Regardless, Goldstein had played a crucial role in defeating conscription and building a mass movement against the scourge of war and inequality.

Following the war, Goldstein returned to Britain and attended the 1919 Zurich International Congress of Women. She was dismayed by the scale of human suffering across Europe caused by the war and the arrogance of the victors. Goldstein condemned the unjust terms of the Treaty of Versailles and warned of the likelihood of future wars.

In her writings she expressed a growing sense of pessimism and frustration about the prospects for transformative social and political change. Unfortunately, Goldstein moved away from active political involvement and her lifelong Christian faith would become the main focus of her later years.

Goldstein occupied a position as an independent and radical progressive, which became harder to maintain amid the polarisation of the period. Among her great strengths was steadfast idealism combined with independence and audacity in thought and action.

Jacqueline Kent has written an insightful and compelling biography of Vida Goldstein, a person who should be recognised as among the great figures of both the women’s movement and the left. She issued a clear call for the social and political empowerment of women, alongside a commitment to organise and fight for justice for women, working people and those in society who lack power. It is a call which carries over the decades – to reach all those organising and fighting for justice today.

By Hamish McPherson

Jacqueline Kent, Vida: A Woman for Our Time, Penguin (2020), $34.99.

The post Vida Goldstein: pioneer in the fight against sexism and poverty appeared first on Solidarity Online.

Editorial: Turn rage at Morrison’s failure on rape into fightback against the Liberals’ sexist policies

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 25/03/2021 - 4:56pm in

Tags 

sexism

The Morrison government is being engulfed by the outrage at its failure to respond to the accusations of rape and sexual assault in Parliament House, the appalling sexism among the Liberals and concerns over sexism more generally.

Now the first female president of the NSW Young Liberals, Catherine Cusack, currently a Liberal MP in NSW, has said she will no longer attend parliamentary party room meetings. The Speaker of the Tasmanian parliament, recently pushed out of the party, has also condemned the shocking sexist attitudes that permeate the Liberals.

The March 4 Justice rallies, which saw 100,000 people take to the streets, have massively increased the pressure on the government.

Practically every woman in the country has her own experience of harassment, assault and sexual violence. But all the Coalition is concerned about is its own media management and trying to tough out the scandals.

Morrison is still refusing to allow an independent investigation into the rape accusation against Christian Porter, although he has now asked the Solicitor–General for advice regarding his fitness to be a Minister. He even blustered in parliament that women were lucky to live in a country where they weren’t shot at for protesting.

Morrison also wants Linda Reynolds to return to the Ministry despite her failure to offer support to Brittany Higgins, who she urged to drop any complaint about her rape within the Minister’s own offices.

Morrison’s folksy comment that, “Blokes don’t get it right all the time” can’t hide the government’s inaction and the ingrained sexism of his responses. He tried to deflect any blame, telling Nine radio, “it is up to all of society to make change, not just the federal government.”

After their disgusting responses to sexual violence, Porter, Reynolds and Morrison should all go.

Morrison insisted that the police should deal with rape allegations. But NSW police have admitted that just 1 per cent of rapes reported result in convictions, with only 10 per cent producing charges. Little wonder that most women do not even report their assaults to police.

Morrison’s government has cut JobSeeker and JobKeeper, disproportionately affecting women’s economic independence. It has abolished the Family Court. And his defence of Christian Porter and Linda Reynolds reinforces the sexism that comes from the top of society.

Sexism needs to be tackled at its source—the material pressures that reinforce women’s subordination and gender stereotypes through imposing the main burden of childcare and looking after families.

A liveable rate of JobSeeker and single parents’ payments would lift some of the economic pressure on women, as would the return of the government-funded free childcare we had during COVID lockdowns.

Toughening consent laws will do little to address the unwillingness of police and the courts to believe survivors or take the issue more seriously.

And consent training will also fail while our whole society is still saturated in sexism, through advertising, the media, the police and the attitudes of senior politicians.

We need to build on the huge March 4 Justice demonstrations. This is a key moment to demand change and organise the fight against all forms of sexism.

Coalition slumps

For the first time since the beginning of the COVID crisis, the Coalition’s support has slumped, falling behind Labor in Newspoll in March at 52-48 per cent.

Morrison was forced to junk most of his industrial relations bill to get anything through the Senate. His plans for wage agreements that undercut award minimum standards and eight-year “greenfields” agreements in construction were abandoned.

But instead of stepping up the pressure on Morrison by championing a clear alternative, Labor and Anthony Albanese are just hoping the government’s own blunders will be enough to lift them into office.

Their only major announcement on sexism has been legislation to make companies reveal the size of their gender pay gap. But Labor would not force them to do anything about it.

A rate of $80 a day is needed to keep the unemployed out of poverty. But Albanese has refused to commit to increasing JobSeeker beyond the Liberals’ $44-a-day payment.

Labor is still in retreat following its loss at the last election, dumping policies in order to present as small a target as possible. But it is the party’s failure to take a clear stand on issues like JobSeeker, climate change and refugees that stops people being confident it will deliver change.

Rallies on Palm Sunday will call for freedom for all the Medevac refugees brought from Manus and Nauru, an end to all detention and permanent resettlement rights for refugees.

School Strike for Climate has also called another student climate strike for 21 May. This is a chance to re-invigorate the climate movement and strike a blow against Morrison’s efforts to entrench fossil fuels with his plan for a “gas-fired recovery”.

It is strikes, protests and demonstrations that show the real power we have to fight for system change.

The post Editorial: Turn rage at Morrison’s failure on rape into fightback against the Liberals’ sexist policies appeared first on Solidarity Online.

Sexist Liberals run a sexist system

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 25/03/2021 - 4:32pm in

Tags 

sexism, sexism

The recent rape scandals highlight the need to smash a system that reduces women to sex objects and unpaid carers, writes Ruby Wawn

In the past month, the Liberal Party has been rocked by a series of sexual assault allegations.

The party was exposed as covering up the rape of former Liberal staffer Brittany Higgins in her parliamentary office by a male colleague in 2019. Then Attorney-General Christian Porter was accused of raping a 16-year-old girl in 1988.

This has led to women all across society speaking out about their experiences of rape and sexual violence, including hundreds of accounts from women of abuse while teenagers at school.

There is no doubt that sexism is an everyday reality for women. One in three women in Australia has been harassed or assaulted at work. One in six women has experienced at least one sexual assault by the age of 15.

But what can be done to stop this?

The most common response has been to call for more consent education at schools and improved reporting procedures at work.

But this fails to get to the heart of why rape and sexual violence remains so widespread.

Our society is so saturated with sexism that simply running consent classes will have little impact. And consent education individualises the problem as a result of male attitudes.

Rape isn’t a result of men’s insatiable sexual needs or instincts—most men don’t rape or murder women. Nor is it due mainly to “stranger danger”—the majority of women experience sexual violence at the hands of someone they know.

Sexual assault is a product of a society where sexuality and sex are a commodity that can be bought and sold.

All around us women’s sexuality is subjugated—we are told women’s self-worth derives from their relationship status and ability to conceive children, women are sexualised and used to sell us things, while pornography objectifies women.

This is reinforced by common narratives of rape—that women are raped because they were drunk or dressed provocatively and that men can’t control themselves.

These ideas are promoted and perpetuated by major social institutions like the mainstream media, advertising, entertainment—and by governments like Scott Morrison’s.

The view of women as submissive and valued mainly for their sexuality is a product of women’s role in the family—an institution that is of massive benefit to capitalism.

The system relies on the unpaid work done by working class women in the home to raise the next generation of workers. Women are expected to play the role of mother, raising the next generation of the productive working class, while men go to work to provide for their partners and children.

The nuclear family underpins these “common sense” sexist ideas—that women should be the primary caregiver, that women should do most of the domestic labour and that women are innately more caring.

These ideas are constantly reinforced from the top of society—that’s why men like Christian Porter campaign around “family values”, why ideas that challenge traditional gender roles like the Safe Schools Program face virulent attacks, why homophobia exists and why women are constantly objectified and sexualised in the media.

The Liberals have also brought down a barrage of sexist policies that make it harder for women to escape this.

At the whim of One Nation, none other than Christian Porter recently dissolved the Family Court, the only specialist court where families and women experiencing violence and relationship breakdowns can turn for legal redress.

The Liberals also privatised 1800RESPECT, a national telephone and online counselling service for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.

Callers are now triaged by call centre staff, not trained counsellors. Natalie Lang, NSW secretary of the Australian Services Union, called it a “McDonald’s drive-through approach to counselling” which aims to reduce costs and increase profits.

Domestic violence services in Australia are also chronically underfunded.

Domestic Violence NSW chief executive Joanne Yates says that every year three out of four women who access homelessness services are fleeing violence. But at least 150 women are turned away each day by underfunded services. Despite the government promising a $150 million funding boost to domestic violence services, much of the sector is yet to see the funds.

The Liberals are even slashing funding for what Scott Morrison describes as “skin curling” sex education taught in public schools which aims to “address and prevent family violence, through the examination of topics around gender, power and respect”.

This comes as more than 3000 girls and young women have recently provided testimony about being sexually assaulted by teenage boys.

Benefiting capitalism

But there’s nothing innate about the traditional gender roles we experience under capitalism. In pre-class societies, women played a much more equal role both economically and politically.

Capitalism reinforces these sexist ideas because the ruling class is unwilling to pay for services like child care, aged care, disability care, cooking, cleaning and laundry.

Instead, women step in to provide this in the home at as little cost to the system as possible. Where we have won such public services, the logic of neo-liberalism means that they are limited, privatised and under constant attack.

It is estimated that the unpaid labour associated with childrearing saves the Australian state $345 billion every year.

Given that Australian families spend on average 30 to 40 per cent of their income on childcare it is often difficult for both parents to work full-time. And it is nearly always the lower-paid woman that stays at home to look after the family.

The rising cost of living means that most women also work outside the home.

Women now make up 47.2 per cent of all employees. But they are also more likely to be insecurely employed, making up 67.2 per cent of all part-time employees and on average earning 13.4 per cent less than men.

Casualised and insecure work leaves women vulnerable to assault and harassment, both in the home and in the workplace. Wage disparities and casualisation mean women are more likely to be economically dependent on their partner and lack the financial ability to leave unsafe relationships or speak up about harassment in the workplace.

Our taxation system even discourages women from working more than three days a week, with women losing up to 90 per cent of their wage for every extra day they work and use childcare.

In many cases it actually costs women money to go to work. But childcare workers themselves, who are over 90 per cent women, earn well below the national average and on average as little as $23 an hour.

Ruling class women can afford to outsource domestic tasks like cleaning and childcare to low-paid, working class women.

They are also unreliable allies in the fight for women’s liberation. It was two female ministers, Linda Reynolds and Michaela Cash, who covered up Brittany Higgins’ rape in parliament.

Australia’s richest person, Gina Rinehart, who earns $600 a second from the mining company she inherited, has lamented not being able to pay workers $2 an hour.

And it was our first female prime minister, Julia Gillard, who cut access to the Single Parenting Payment, forcing more single mothers to live on the dole.

Sexist ideas clearly exist among working class men as well. But men aren’t born sexist: they learn sexist ideas from the world around them. As Karl Marx said, “The ruling ideas in society are the ideas of the ruling class.” And sexism is constantly pushed by the ruling class.

Like other ideologies such as racism, sexism is designed to divide the working class and keep us under control.

Sexism also affects men. Men feel the pressure to fill the traditional male breadwinner role. When working women earn less, men have to work more to make up for the difference in income.

In his 2019 International Women’s Day address, Scott Morrison claimed that the rise of women shouldn’t come at the expense of men.

But working class men don’t get paid more because women get less. The only people pocketing money from the gender pay gap are the bosses.

United struggle

We all have an interest in fighting for the material conditions which can liberate women.

Men have the potential to be our allies in the struggle against the system and to join us in the fight against casualisation, for equal pay, for free childcare and to liberate women from the confines of the home.

At the height of the women’s liberation movement in the 1960s and 1970s, men and women fought alongside each other in strikes over equal pay.

In 2019 workers at Chemist Warehouse went out on strike over casualisation and sexual harassment in the workplace and got sexist managers sacked.

In October 2020, men in Poland joined women on strike for abortion rights.

We must call for an independent investigation into the allegations against Christian Porter, we must call for him to stand down and we must call for increased funding for services for survivors of sexual violence.

But these things alone won’t solve sexism.

We also need to fight for reforms that will have an impact on women’s lives right now. We need to fight to increase JobSeeker so that women and families aren’t forced to live in poverty.

We must fight for secure employment so that women feel confident to speak up about unsafe work conditions.

We must fight for proper funding and against the privatisation of health, disability and aged care.

And we must fight for a system that doesn’t have sexism hard-wired into it.

The post Sexist Liberals run a sexist system appeared first on Solidarity Online.

Teaching consent won’t counter the sexism all around us

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 24/03/2021 - 9:58am in

Tags 

sexism

Chanel Contos’ website and petition demanding schools foreground consent in sex education from a young age has become a platform for women’s seething rage against sexist abuse.

The testimonials on the website confirm the pattern of elite private school students enacting debased and brutal sexism against girls.

But consent lessons cannot solve rape any more than the NSW Police Commissioner’s bizarre consent app idea can.

The degradation, humiliation and objectification of women in our society have deep roots. Teachers cannot cut those off with classroom consent lessons.

The mass social reckoning with the deeply embedded sexism in Australia will be wasted if it is spent scrutinising what teachers are doing (or failing to do) in the classroom; the true culprits of the sexist system, including the Liberals, are well practised in deflecting accountability for deep social inequality by blaming teachers.

Teachers know that young women want students to be taught authoritatively that they have a right to determine their own sexuality, to be respected and to feel unashamed and safe as they develop sexual relationships.

In public schools across Australia we are already supposed to do this all through school until Year 10. Teachers in private schools should also be supported to teach against sexism. But unless the movement confronts the social and political inequalities that drive rape, our “Respectful Relationships” messages ring hollow.

Mainstream political misogyny

When we teach about the inequalities experienced by women and the prevalence of harassment and sexual assault against women, we are contradicting the most powerful people in our political system.

It is our word against Christian Porter’s, whose brief denial to the PM is the only investigation required into the sexual assault he was accused of, and Linda Reynolds’, who gets to keep her job as Defence Minister despite covering up a rape in her office.

Shockingly sexist ideas are legitimate in mainstream politics. Parliament is notoriously sodden with sexist slurs, which are thrown about while conservative politicians vote for sexist policies, like defunding domestic violence services and dismantling the Family Court.

Trump’s pussy grabbing presidency breathed life into openly misogynistic ideas and propelled Mens Rights Activism (MRA). Professional rape denialist Bettina Arndt received the Order of Australia last year for her advocacy of men’s rights.

Commodification of sex

Still more influential to our students is the mainstream trade in sexism in the film and music industries. Serial rapist Harvey Weinstein has gone from Hollywood but the industry he captained is still saturating screen time with gender stereotypes.

It is utterly confusing to so many women, let alone teenagers and children, that women’s right to sexual freedom has collapsed into our right to participate in sexual commodification. Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion claimed a victory for sex positivity and female empowerment with the chart-topping WAP music video but they are cashing in on the same old objectification of (Black) women’s bodies and sexuality.

WAP and music videos, ads, films and games like it scandalise conservatives who are hypocrites and prefer the exploitation of women’s sexuality to be conducted in private. But they have the endorsement of liberal feminists, whose horizons are limited to the expressions of sexuality available within capitalism.

WAP and the like tell young men and women that women’s confident sexual expression happens as a money-making performance, not an authentic, dynamic, human relationship.

Consent’ is inadequate

The commercialisation of sex is so deep that it is even implied in the legalistic, contractual terms we have to use to talk about stopping rape and assault. Ideas of a clear-cut “negotiation” during which “consent” for sex is obtained from the woman reflect an alienated, individualised conception of sex and rape.

The testimonies recorded on Contos’ Teach Us Consent website show that the rapes and assaults are occurring in a social context, not just in the individual act of sexual violence. The young women refer to incessant “slut shaming” and the pressure to be a disinterested, sexually attractive body; to be sexually available, but not too much.

They write of being stripped of agency and self-worth even before the parties begin. They drink to feel free of that anxiety and are then abused by boys they had trusted. The humiliation continues after the rape; either ignorance or bonding and status-building for the boys; isolation, shame and confusion for the girls who feel like they were responsible and won’t get any support.

Focusing on the negotiation of consent is a misguided technical fix, as if the problem causing rape is a communication break down between individuals, not the disastrous, predictable consequences of social inequality.

Sexism at home and work

While teachers try to convince our students to conduct respectful relationships, our own lives are organised and degraded by sex discrimination in the most fundamental ways.

Education is a sharply segregated industry, where the vast majority of teachers in early childhood, primary and secondary schools are women. This affects our pay—both men and women workers in female-dominated organisations have lower average wages when compared to male-dominated organisations.

Students and teachers go home to families that are also organised around gender inequality. The triple burden, where women are working, caring for children and maintaining an appearance of sexual attractiveness, is driving women mad with anxiety and depression. COVID notoriously amplified this problem.

To undermine us further, the Prime Minister fomented the campaign against Respectful Relationships lessons by saying it “made his skin curl” and didn’t meet his values for his own daughters. He accused teachers who acknowledge transgender students of being “gender whisperers”.

The campaign by The Australian and the Liberals against the LGBTI program Safe Schools had a chilling effect on teachers’ confidence to teach about valid ways of expressing a sexuality outside of traditional gender roles.

The tightrope that teachers are supposed to walk between conducting open, explicit discussions about sex and sexuality on the one hand, battling the sexist ideas our students are fed by our ruling class on the other, and at the same time not triggering the conservative backlash is yet another triple burden for a majority female workforce to bear.

The tens of thousands of women and men who marched against the sexism in Parliament have enough collective power to take the fight to where it belongs: conservative politicians, the industries of sexual objectification and the bosses who benefit from pay inequality and women’s unpaid labour.

Women leading those struggles builds their own confidence and dents the conservative common sense about subservience that is still being reinforced by the Liberals and the system.

Teachers are part of that fight but our lessons in the classroom will really hit home when we are part of the struggle for power and control over our own lives, as working women and men.

By Lucy Honan, high school teacher and AEU Vic state councillor

The post Teaching consent won’t counter the sexism all around us appeared first on Solidarity Online.

Calling COVID “China Flu” Can Indeed Make It Deadly

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 20/03/2021 - 2:31am in

As Trump politicized the pandemic and attacked China, hate crimes against Asian-Americans began to rise. Continue reading

The post Calling COVID “China Flu” Can Indeed Make It Deadly appeared first on BillMoyers.com.

Sexism, rape, private schools and the Liberals: a sexist elite overseeing a sexist system

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 17/03/2021 - 4:55pm in

Tags 

sexism

The slew of rape allegations, harassment and cover-ups of assault within the Liberal Party, coupled with a viral petition about the high rates of sexual assault by Sydney private school boys, have exposed the cesspools of sexism and misogyny within the Australian ruling class.

Scott Morrison and the government have refused to take the rape allegations seriously and tried to brush them aside.

The alleged rape of former Liberal staffer, Brittany Higgins, in 2019, was covered up and treated as a political inconvenience by Defence Minister Linda Reynolds and others in the Liberal Party from the outset. Higgins withdrew her initial complaint to police, saying she was made to choose between that and keeping her job in politics.

Then an accusation emerged about the brutal rape of a 16-year-old girl in 1988 by Attorney-General Christian Porter, then 17. The woman involved committed suicide last year. Porter, who is from a powerful, wealthy WA family, has a long history of repulsive, misogynistic behaviour, including sexual harassment of female colleagues and students.

But, after the case was closed by NSW Police, Morrison has ruled out an independent investigation and said he had not even read the woman’s statement.

When claims of Porter’s sexism and inappropriate behaviour with female staff were first aired in a Four Corners investigation in November 2020, along with the culture of sexism and harassment in parliament house, Morrison’s response was that “the breakdown of a family” was what broke his heart the most.

Meanwhile, a petition launched by a former private high school student, Chanel Contos, about the extraordinary rates of sexual assault by male students from some of Sydney’s most elite private schools, including Cranbrook and Scots College, has generated thousands of responses from current and former female students, including 500 allegations of assault.

It is clear that misogyny is endemic within the Australian ruling class and amongst their born-to-rule offspring. The sense of entitlement amongst the elite, to oppress and exploit those beneath them appears to extend to women and girls’ bodies as well.

Both Christian Porter and Linda Reynolds should be forced to step down, along with Morrison himself. Porter’s well-documented history of sexism and his calculated attempts to avoid any investigation are reason enough to sack him.

There needs to be an independent inquiry into the allegation against him. Anything short of this sends a message that these despicable actions are acceptable. The elite private schools that breed sexual abusers should also be stripped of the obscene amounts of government funding they receive.

A sexist system

However, the calls for greater levels of consent education in schools will do little to stop the scourge of harassment and assault amongst teenagers. In fact, many of the schools in question already have had significant consent training modules in place for years.

And having more women in parliament—or in the Coalition cabinet—will not keep women safe. Instead of helping Brittany Higgins to get help and seek justice, Linda Reynolds instead called her a “lying cow” in front of her staff. Female Liberal MPs have also been just as happy as their male counterparts to pass legislation that will make life more difficult for ordinary women in Australia, like cutting JobSeeker or defunding domestic violence (DV) services.

The sexist ruling class figures that have recently come under the spotlight sit atop and manage a system that breeds sexism, and relies on the oppression of women to function.

Sexist ideas are pushed from the top of society and saturate the media and advertising, painting women and girls as sexual objects, or as naturally submissive or nurturing. This helps justify the role that women are forced to play shouldering the main burden of childcare and looking after families.

The Liberals used the marriage equality plebiscite to push all kinds of transphobic and homophobic ideas in defence of “family values”, with hypocrites like Christian Porter and Barnaby Joyce amongst the worst offenders. Scott Morrison continued this with his attack on LGBTQI education in schools as the work of “gender whisperers”. In 2019 he told an International Women’s Day event that women shouldn’t advance at the expense of men.

Women in Australia (indeed all over the world) continue to do the vast majority of unpaid labour in the home. A 2017 study by the Australian Bureau of Statistics study showed that women’s unpaid labour in the home saved the state around $285 billion.

Women are also far more likely to be in casual, part time and insecure employment, and the gender pay gap continues to hover around 14 per cent. The Australian tax system makes it harder for women to return to work full-time after having a baby, and childcare costs on average more than $100 per day. This income discrepancy means that many women are economically reliant on their male partners, and are often unable to escape violent relationships. And for those in insecure work, pushing back against harassment or assault in the workplace is extremely difficult.

The defunding and privatisation of services like childcare, healthcare, aged and disability care in recent decades has meant that families, and particularly women, have had to absorb the load. The Coalition’s constant attacks on public services since 2013 have made life increasingly difficult for ordinary women in Australia.

The Covid-19 pandemic and economic recession have exacerbated all of this enormously, with the consequences of both disproportionately affecting women. During lockdown, parents, and particularly women, saw a massive increase in hours spent doing housework and caring for and educating children and vulnerable family members as schools and public services closed.

Women have also been far more likely to lose their jobs or hours of work in the recession, and the combined pressure of lockdowns and economic suffering has seen a significant increase in the rates of DV. During the first “wave” of Covid-19 in Australia, DV support agencies reported a 10 per cent increase in urgent requests for assistance. Before the pandemic, 150 women were already being turned away from shelters every day due to lack of space.

In 2020, government measures like free childcare, the doubling of JobSeeker and the introduction of JobKeeper provided some temporary relief for women and families. But these have now been all but torn away, leaving some of the poorest women even more vulnerable to abuse. This will be compounded by the recent closure of the Family Court – a closure overseen by none other than Christian Porter.

An anti-sexist fightback

Getting rid of Porter and Reynolds will be important in pushing back against the sexism at the top of society. But any fight against sexism will need to tackle the material realities that leave women vulnerable to assault and harassment. We will need to fight to double the JobSeeker rate permanently, properly fund 1800RESPECT and domestic violence services, stop the Omnibus Bill that strips away casual workers’ rights, and reverse the cuts and privatisation of public services.

The sexist ideas in the heads of ordinary people, including men and boys, are not set in stone. Society’s sexism has been fought by mass movements many times before in Australian history, from united fights for equal pay to the fight for public childcare. Working class men also have an interest in fighting the Liberals’ attacks on public services, unions and wages.

There is a desperate need to build a united fight against sexism, one that includes people of all genders, and to get rid of the sexist Morrison government. But ultimately, we will also have to get rid of the system that breeds the sexism in the first place.

By Caitlin Doyle

The post Sexism, rape, private schools and the Liberals: a sexist elite overseeing a sexist system appeared first on Solidarity Online.

‘Porter must go’: Students rage against sexism and rape

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 13/03/2021 - 2:35pm in

Tags 

sexism

A rally led by survivors and young women, many of them high school students, took to the streets in Sydney on Friday to call for an end to sexual violence and for Christian Porter’s sacking. The rally was a lively demonstration of widespread anger at the Coalition’s evasive response to rape allegations in its own ranks.

A crowd of 200 gathered for speeches at Sydney Town Hall and then began a defiant march to the Liberal Party offices in William St against the orders of the police.

Following a Welcome to Country and powerful message of solidarity from Gadigal woman Rhonda Dixon Grovenor, Shanaya, a young Dharug woman, kicked off the speeches. She denounced the recent actions of Christian Porter, Linda Reynolds, Scott Morrison and the Coalition government, saying their actions “demonstrated the depth of their contempt for women and survivors of sexual violence”.

Shanaya spoke about being sexually assaulted public transport when she was just 12 years old and called on the crowd to stand up against sexism and sexual violence wherever they saw it.

“Christian Porter needs to step down immediately while an urgent inquiry takes place into the accusation that he raped a 16-year-old girl in 1988. And after her disgraceful treatment of former Liberal staffer and rape survivor Brittany Higgins, Defence Minister Linda Reynolds also needs to go. Scott Morrison needs to go with them because he is the one who is protecting them,” she added.

The anger towards Porter and the government’s treatment of women was echoed in speeches from Greens MP Jenny Leong, End Rape on Campus co-director and National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) member Anna Hush and Australian Services Union (ASU) member Feiyi Zhang.

High school student and School Strike for Climate activist Dani, who initiated the rally, spoke powerfully about her own experience of sexual assault, declaring:

“I am angry and I am hurt by the behaviour of our politicians and their treatment of survivors of sexual violence. I was only 14 years old when my sexual assault was reported to the police.

“In my case like in so many others no charges were laid.”

She also noted how Christian Porter has a long history of implementing policies that show his contempt for women:

“Porter has been responsible for attacks on women across all aspects of society. As Social Services Minister he presided over cuts and the privatisation of 1800Respect, which is Australia’s national rape crisis call line.”

High school student and Dunghutti woman Erin spoke of the horrific sexual violence that the Australian state has overseen toward Aboriginal women in missions and as domestic servants. She ended her speech with a radical call to action:

“If we want secure work, if we want equal pay, if we want free childcare we must unite and fight. We know what it’s going to take to sack Porter, Reynolds, Scomo and this whole sexist government—all of us protesting and striking together. It’s not men versus women it’s all of us versus the sexist politicians and billionaires.”

As the rally marched down William Street, the crowd chanted, “Hey Scomo shame on you, sack Porter and Reynolds too”, and “1,2,3,4, sexist Liberals out the door, 5,6,7,8, stop the violence, stop the rape”.

The gathering outside the Liberal Party office ended with a final, furious chant of “we’ll be back!”

There will be rallies around the country on Monday as part of the March for Justice. Find details of the event in your city here.

By Matilda Fay

The post ‘Porter must go’: Students rage against sexism and rape appeared first on Solidarity Online.

Pages