Archive for the ‘Columns’ Category

THERE’S a lot of lightweight twaddle out there about forgiveness, but if you really listen to people who’ve made sense of both small and big tragedies, you’ll hear stories of forgiveness that are as rich and dense as a proper chocolate cake.

Forgiveness isn’t a decision, a single act or a feeling. It doesn’t mean forgetting what happened or making excuses for it. It doesn’t wipe the slate clean, it’s not weak and it doesn’t let anybody off the hook.

Forgiveness never happens overnight.

Forgiveness is a practice; it’s the work of finding what there is to learn from a truly awful situation, so the road you walk along doesn’t keep leading you back to your pain over and over again.

If you’d like to read the rest of this article, you can find it here

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On Saturday Dylan Farrow accused her adoptive father, the filmmaker and actor Woody Allen, of sexual assault for the second time. She first made these allegations when she was seven years old, in the context of the custody battle between her separating parents. At the time, the case was considered too weak to proceed to a criminal trial. This time, she’s asking the people who have worked with and supported him to respond and to be in some way accountable for any part they may have played in promoting or protecting him.

Now 28, she’s asking that we not only take her claims seriously, but that we act on them. She’s asking, after years of accolades for her adoptive father’s genius, for the people who have worked with her father to bear some responsibility for her pain. This is some of what she said in an open letter published on 1 February in a New York Timesblog:

That he got away with what he did to me haunted me as I grew up. I was stricken with guilt that I had allowed him to be near other little girls. I was terrified of being touched by men. I developed an eating disorder. I began cutting myself.

That torment was made worse by Hollywood. All but a precious few (my heroes) turned a blind eye. Most found it easier to accept the ambiguity, to say, ‘who can say what happened’, to pretend that nothing was wrong. Actors praised him at awards shows. Networks put him on TV. Critics put him in magazines. Each time I saw my abuser’s face — on a poster, on a T-shirt, on television — I could only hide my panic until I found a place to be alone and fall apart.

you can read the rest of this article at eureka street

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Why are there so few women in top jobs? Instead of asking ourselves why there aren’t more women running the joint, maybe we need to ask why the joint is organised so it can only be run by superheroes or people with their own entourage.

In the lead up to Blue Knot Day on October 28, a day of support for the estimated 4-5 million Australians who are survivors of childhood abuse, some unexpected research findings are changing our ideas about resilience and leadership, particularly for women whose mental health is so closely tied to their experience of living in the world. And the evidence for what continues to restrict women’s choices seems to be pointing directly towards the health of our workplaces.

recent study by University of Queensland academic Dr Terrance Fitzsimmons found huge differences between the childhoods of male and female top executives. The male CEOs he interviewed were brought up in traditional homes with mothers whose full time role was to care for their husbands, home and children. They reported relatively happy upbringings and held their current positions with the support of stay at home wives and mothers.

In contrast, the female top executives had working mothers, often in small business. And most strikingly, nearly all of them had lived through a major trauma between the ages of eight and 15. Death, family violence and major illness had been a part of their lives when they were becoming independent and forming their identities. And it was the resilience that came from living through these traumas that they credited for their ability to work hard and bounce back, including their capacity to take on the majority of the load of managing home and family.


you can read the rest of this article at newmatilda

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Bettina Arndt is at it again. In an opinion piece she wrote this week, she returns to her position on the secret to heterosexual married bliss.

Apparently “The truly lucky man is blessed with a sexually generous woman, one who believes in taking one for the team.”

I won’t even go there with the unfortunate associations that little analogy calls up.

Spruiking the new female Viagra, fetchingly labelled Lybrido or Lybridos, Arndt is urging us once again to throw our undies in the ring and do what we can in the bedroom to keep our men from suffering sexual frustration. Even if it means taking a little pink pill to up our sexual ante. Even if it means completely ignoring some of the reasons we may have lost interest in the first place.

According to Arndt, “For every woman keen for a solution to her lost libido, there are others who wouldn’t dream of popping a little pink pill to enhance sexual desire. There are plenty of women happy to shut up shop, simply refusing to have sex – and expecting their husbands to just suck it up.”


you can find the rest of this article at mamamia

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It’s been a busy week for discussions of racism. Delta Goodrem re-tweeted a photo of a fan in blackface and was criticised for being racist, Mia Freedman defendedher and asked us all to save the word racist for something really important, and we had the blackface discussion all over again. Delta apologised for any offense she may have caused, and somehow we ended up in a quagmire of good manners. How did racism become an issue of politeness? What grabbed us all so hard about another blackface scandal?

If you were looking at the recent blackface incidents in this country from your home planet in another galaxy, you’d be forgiven for thinking that racism was an issue that falls somewhere between the annoying and the unfair. Something in the realm of not inviting your whole class to your birthday party and stealing a tram seat from a pregnant woman. Not so much an act of discrimination as a failure of etiquette.

When it comes to racism, we seem to be suffering from an overwhelming obsession with politeness. So when Delta Goodrem does a proper racist thing, sending out a picture of a fan dressed in blackface in some kind of tragically ignorant racist parody of singer and Voice judge Seal, her response is not an apology or a defense, or god forbid a trip to the library, but a plea that she didn’t mean to offend. Translation: I’m sorry if I was rude. I don’t want to be rude and hurt people, that’s not what nice people do and I’m a nice person. So I’m apologising for my rudeness. Sorry if I offended you.

It’s like she’s entered another country — which in a way she has — and not knowing the rules, has accidentally stepped on a few toes. In response to being told she was being racist — in other words for being a part of the machine of daily and pervasive discrimination and exclusion of people of colour — she apologises to any individuals who may have misunderstood her intentions. Like a lot of us, she wanted to skip the shame involved in facing her own racism, and instead retreated to the safer territory of good intentions.

But blackface isn’t impolite, it’s plain and simple racist. It calls up a whole history of exploitation, stereotyping and marginalisation of black people. There’s no hyperlink here because there’s an entire library of work on the subject. There is very little in this library about how to act like a non-racist in polite society, but there is a lot about the history of oppression.

you can read the rest of this article at newmatilda

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We went wild over Geoffrey Barker’s recent rant about TV journalism’s “babes”. There was considered comment and angry analysis as well as some of the funniest feminist tweeting in recent memory. We were outraged and vocal. But why? Why so much time for so much drivel? What does our outrage really mean?

In the 80s when I was an unknowingly tender young feminist, misogyny was a word not to be used in polite patriarchal company. It was a rude, trenchant and powerful word. It was not the kind of language used by prime ministers. It quietly makes reference to lady parts in Latin. It’s a word that dares to say as Germaine Greer did – to such furious outrage – that there is a hatred of women out there.

In some ways it’s a dream come true that we use this word in polite society. How far we’ve come. And yet something is not quite as we imagined it all those years ago in collectives and on picket lines, out front of all-female factories and child care centers. Something quite substantial has been left behind. In all of our outrage, we appear to have dumped some of the outrageous.

Had you arrived by Tardis to the very middle of my militant lounge room in 1985 to tell every woman present that misogyny was not only now an acceptable term, but one that was being shouted out by feminists around the globe in response to evidence of woman-hating, and by one female prime minister in particular, we would have wept with joy and relief. How many other things would we have to look forward to in our future middle age? For surely this development would herald radical changes in what it meant to be a woman in the world. Surely if we were bandying this powerful word around in the future, then we would be doing so with our hairy legs in the sun, smiling our snaggle-toothed smiles at each other and scratching our graying manes in awe that we had arrived at our utopia: a world where gender was no longer an excuse for an extra load of poverty, violence, grooming and cleaning up.

you can read the rest of this article at newmatilda

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There’s been a lot said lately about how we’re talking about Boston and not so much about Iraq and Afghanistan. We’re wondering if one life is worth more than another in our current media cycle. But what’s behind our arguably disproportionate attention to the Boston bombings? Are we just suffering from an incapacity to care for more than our own?

There’s a conversation we’ve been trying to have about racism in the reporting of the Boston bombings. It’s the same conversation we try to have every time there’s a tragedy in the West that measured globally, barely tips the Richter scale of international disaster. We get started with this conversation, as Virginia Trioli recently tried to do, but it either gets brutally cut down or prematurely cut short.  I think we’re having trouble following it through because the truth of why we seem to care more about Boston than about Kabul and Ramullah may just be too hard for us to swallow.

If we look at some of the explanations for the disproportionate attention to the Boston bombings in comparison to those in Iraq and Afghanistan, none of them seem to cut the ideological mustard.

First, we have the tried and tested we take care of our own theory, brought to us most recently by the Boss and championed by the President of the United States. This is the assumption that the suffering of people like us and close to us is going to matter more than the far away tragedies afflicting our distant cousins.

There’s a lot of support for this theory. Evolutionary psychologists like it. They think it’s been adaptive for us to worry more about bad things that are likely to happen to us than bad things that are not. They also believe that most of us suffer from something they call “in-group bias” which means that we think our mates are better, smarter, faster and more important than other people, despite evidence to the contrary.

you can read the rest of this article at newmatilda

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