Posted by: Chasy | 21/01/2014

The myth of alcohol fuelled violence

This was originally posted as a Facebook status by a mate who works as security in the Sydney CBD. He has allowed me to post this here, with minor edits.

Alcohol-related street violence is all I seem to hear of these days. While working in security, the stupidity of blaming alcohol and the venue, instead of the individual doing the damage, is getting me down.

Put the blame where it is due – on the idiot that thinks its all right to pick a fight just for the hell of it, the fuckwit who thinks all the girls will love him because he just beat up a guy who bumped him and split his drink, the guy who likes to punish, who likes to be the one who is big and strong, and feels it is his job teach people a lesson they wont forget. They should be held accountable in some way.

How about making someone accountable for every assault? Make them accountable for every punch thrown, not just the one in 100,000 that does permanent damage, and not just the ones that make the front page of the daily rag.

Security are only told to separate them and send them in different directions. By doing so, we fulfilled our job requirement of stopping trouble and RSA requirements by not serving them any more drinks. Then off they go, to repeat the cycle, all the way down the street, often another 2 or 3 times, with the only penalty being having to move on to find somewhere else to cause trouble.

Why doesn’t the Head of each door have a radio, or even a direct number to the local patrol, and be asked, or even strictly told, that every act of violence is to be reported to them? The police could then speak to the parties and judge if it should lead to charges or they are safe to continue their night.

The police are already walking the street in packs of 10, looking for drugs and searching clubs for drunks. They might have to speed things up a bit, instead of 10 of them standing around on one search, only to send the person off 2 hours later with a court summons in their pocket.

As venue security, my job is to smile, being nice, and say anything that the aggressor wants to hear, so I can get the safely out the front door, without any more violence, and off down the street away from my club and my scope of responsibility. What I would love to do, instead, is to be able to call the police, get them to attend, and, if not to charge them, at least give a warning. Instead, every time the police get called to a venue, it’s a black mark against their name. These black marks come back to haunt them at license renewal time.

The cause is the individual aggressor. Make them responsible for their actions instead of blaming every one around them and giving them a chance of 1 out of 100,000 that they will ever have to take the responsibility of their actions and 99,999 chances to tell their mates how hard they are.

Before I get into this post, I want to make clear that I am aware that my bung knee is just temporary, so, as such, my experiences in dealing with issues as someone with a physical disability are not the same as someone with a permanent disability. I have the perspective that I will soon be able to run free, like a spring lamb, around my university grounds eventually. Just not at the moment.

Also, as a point of reference, I refer to PWD as wheelchair users, simply because it relates more closely to my injury and the accessibility issues I’m having at the moment.

Anyway, these are just short points I noted while I was walking around campus. I encourage you to read them and spare a thought for people who have to consider these as a part of every day life.

Upon arrival at Armidale Airport, I had to get my own heavy bag off the trolley. There were no staff members to help me. I s’pose this is the same everywhere, but, at a larger airport, at least, there would be plenty of ground staff (one would hope). There wasn’t anyone available I could ask. Obviously, I managed to get it by myself. Someone with less freedom of movement or strength may not have been able to do so.

The taxi ride to the university was fine. I don’t know how many, if any, wheelchair accessible taxis there are in Armidale, though.

When we arrived at the college where I was to take residence for the next few days, I asked the driver if he could get as close to the front door of the office as possible. He was happy to oblige, but I was still a good 20 metres away and the office was up a grass hill. Having one particularly unsteady leg and a huge backpack, this was particularly difficult.

The office of the college has two small sets of stairs between it and the front door. For me, that was O.K, but I didn’t see any access ramps. No one in a wheelchair would be able to access the office. Same with the computer lab in the Dining Hall.

There was access ramps to the Dining Hall, which was good. Yay! However, when I first arrived to check into my room, the guy behind the counter said, “Heh, you’ll have trouble going up the stairs!” Thanks for pointing that out, you stupid old cunt. Did it occur to you to also point out that there was, indeed, an access ramp to the level of the building my room was in? It took me two days to find it, and that was after a maintenance guy stopped me as I was walking towards the stairs and pointed it out. It wasn’t marked and was kinda hidden. The conclusion we draw from this is stupid old cunts hamper accessibility.

The distance from the college to the library and lecture theatre wasn’t too bad, but it was up some steep inclines. Any wheelchair users able to actually conquer those hills on a day-to-day basis should probably try out for the Olympics. For me, personally, it resulted in a very ouchy knee at the end of the day. Waaaaaaaah.

In the lectures, I was able to get a seat up the back with a table, as opposed to the theatre seats with tiny fold-away tables. However, if I turned up late (say, because it took me fucking ages to walk anywhere), I other students would grab the tables and I’d end up on the floor. I probably could have asked someone nicely to move for me, but I couldn’t be arsed. As well as this, every time there were lecture notes or similar to grab from the front, I had to get a friend to get a copy for me. I don’t think this was deliberately ignoring the student that was less mobile, though. I think there was a skew of perception at play. I am obviously able to walk, and my injury looks temporary, so the perception would not be that there is an actual PWD in the class. I firmly believe, if there was, the lecturer would have made an effect to make the lecture notes accessible. He’s a nice guy, after all.

People would often comment on my injury. Personally, I don’t mind having a chat about it, but it did strike me as slightly odd that complete strangers would ask me how it happened. Half of them weren’t even in my class. I’m not the sort of person who would get upset by discussing it, but not everyone is comfortable discussing their medical history with strangers. I know their questions were not meant to be intrusive, but it grew tiresome after a while. Maybe that’s just cos I’m hungover today, I dunno. Anyway, an actual PWD could get that sort of treatment on a daily basis for their entire lives. Why there aren’t more wheelchair using serial killers bumping off nosey fucks, I’ll never know.

In short, I can see how much we take for granted as able-bodied people and how the world is set up for us to succeed in the most basic of tasks. To be perfectly honest, it’s not fucking fair that someone with a disability doesn’t have the same access to services that able-bodied people do. Even if allowances are made, things still take twice as long. I don’t think it would be that hard to ensure buildings are accessible to everyone.

I often see people on the internet taking the piss out of those who rightly complain about the exclusivity of accessibility and that makes me sad. PWD should be able to access everything we able-bodied people take for granted and should have the right to complain about it without being a called a whinger. It’s not good enough if only half of everything is accessible and you’re a cunt for thinking it is.

And you’ll be pleased to know my knee is feeling O.K. But my brace is scratchy.

Posted by: Chasy | 17/08/2012

Assange is not a hero

Julian Assange is not a hero.

He is the founder of a website.

It is a very useful website.

It isn’t, as far as I know, saving lives or enriching economies. It is just pissing off a lot of people.

And, to top it off, he is facing charges of rape.

He should not be excused from facing those charges just because some people fap over the idea that supporting Wikileaks makes you some kind of internet spy.

Or, you may erroneously believe it’s about free speech.

Does the manner in which the UK is pursuing this particular rape suspect raise questions? Yes. One would hope they pursue all with the same gusto.

He’s still not a hero.

However, he has a right to know if he is going to be extradited to a country that will kill him. He also has the right to try to avoid that wherever possible.

Still, he’s not a hero.

He’s just this guy.

Posted by: Chasy | 24/01/2012

Who’s afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?

I honestly can’t believe I’m perpetuating this debate, but I feel like I can’t let this bit go.

There has been quite a kerfuffle over whether Melinda Tankard Reist has certain religious affiliations and whether this is important. Many a commenter on Twitter has engaged in quite fervent chest beating, claiming that it shouldn’t matter what religion she is, because it’s not the reason they agree or disagree with her.

Actually, I think that’s entirely inaccurate and a contradiction in terms, if not hypocritical.

These same people, I am certain, would be the first to engage in the same chest beating if a pregnancy ‘counselling’ service turned out to be religious affiliation designed to manipulate vulnerable and scared women into continuing with pregnancies, rather than allowing them to consider other options also available. The women who seek the services would have been deceived, presumably, by this service’s lack of disclosure. The service are convinced they are completely innocent – they are just following the teaching of Jesus and doing God’s work. People would be up in arms at this sort of unscrupulous behaviour and rightly so.

What I don’t understand is why these same standards aren’t applied to MTR. It is true, yes, that the place that she goes to worship every Sunday is rather irrelevant to the debate. It wouldn’t matter if she was visiting a Baptist church, Mosque, or Jewish Temple. I don’t think picking apart the tenets of that particular branch of Christianity and claiming that’s what MTR represents does anything for the debate. Her motivations in her work, however, are still extremely important. Just like the mythical pregnancy service example given above, if the individual in question manipulating vulnerable people into following their beliefs and values, without disclosing their motivations, then that is not only deceptive, but dangerous.

We seem to be getting all in a flap about freedom of religion and it somehow being the crux of the argument against MTR. I think people are frightened that their own religious affiliation discounts them from debate.

Why? Are you actively campaigning on topics that seem incongruous to the movement you’ve attached yourself to? No? Then why would anyone ever bring your beliefs into the debate? They are irrelevant, no?

The reason why this is dangerous is because if we get caught up in wanting not to question someone’s motivations, which may be religious, when it is relevant to the debate, then our debate becomes impotent. It becomes a circle of platitudes, instead. We blindly ignore the motivations because we’re too afraid of appearing intolerant if we question them, then end up blowing smoke up their arse by way of apology for even daring to question them. I may be wrong, but observation of the discussion seems to lead to it being one of the few reasons we keep coming back to allowing MTR to call herself a feminist.

Without questioning someone’s motivations when they are quite clearly in conflict with the politics they claim to fight for, then we’re left without a fight at all. Why bother continuing? The other guys have won. They have infiltrated our ranks by posing as one of us. Now we don’t know who to fight and we’re fighting each other.

Some have said MTR has no reason to disclose her religious affiliation because, for example, it’s not like she’s campaigning for the continued use of coal while having a large amount of shares in a related mining company. They say she has no financial gain, so how can it be relevant?

That’s not entirely true. She is a lobbyist. That is a business. She makes money off appearance fees and the books she gets published on the subject. I don’t believe this is the entirety of her motivations, though. That’s just a bonus.

She has said herself she ‘follows the teachings of Jesus’. Given that, isn’t obvious what her reward for her work is? Eternal salvation.

That may not make a lot of sense to those of us who aren’t religious, but it’s vitally important to those who are. That is what MTR feels she has to gain. That, then, would be her motivation.

Which, in the grand scheme of things, is kinda selfish.

Dr Jennifer Wilson said it best here:

We need to have from MTR evidence -based arguments against abortion, and many other issues she argues on emotive and anecodotal grounds. Because if this evidence isn’t available, her conclusions are subjective. This is not good enough.

No one should be attacking Tankard Reist because of her faith. She should be rigorously questioned on her evidence for her claims and if she has none, then she should be asked to explain on what they are based. This is the price paid for advocating a public morality. I don’t care what she tells her children to do. But once she’s prescribing for women, thats another story

Dr Jennifer Wilson, the blogger whose questions started this whole discussion, has, of you ask me, also displayed beliefs that are incongruous to the movement she claims to be fighting for, right here. To completely deny the influence of rape culture, and normalising rape and rape culture influences, is completely in conflict with the Feminist movement. After reading that post, I honestly don’t know how she can call herself a feminist. I want to know what her motivations are.

Yet, if I speculate and call into question her true dedication to the movement, I doubt anyone would give a flying fuck. Not one single person would give a shit if I said on Twitter “Dr Jennifer Wilson is not a feminist because of this conflicting argument.”

Why is that? Why are we so afraid of religion?

This leads me to believe that there are motivations behind people downplaying the role of MTR’s beliefs. I don’t believe them to be as deceptive or even as important as MTR’s, but I do believe they stem from self interest – in that the commenter does not want to appear to show religious intolerance. Do so and you’ve lost your Lefty Cred for life.

Of course, calling that into question verges on claiming ‘political correctness gone mad’, as we refreain from debate for fear of offending someone. I think I’ve just demonstrated how this argument can go full circle and social media commentary on political issues is about to disappear up it’s own arsehole as a result.

But, just like Dr Wilson and MTR, I can only assume what the motivations of others are and not claim to know what they think, feel, or believe. Sometimes it’s fairly fucking obvious, but I’m still just speculating.


That’s my speculating noise.

And, if this makes no sense, that’s because I started writing it at 3:30 in the fucking morning.

Posted by: Chasy | 15/01/2012

How to talk to little girls

The title of this post is misleading, because I have no idea – despite having one of my own.

I’m talking specifically about beauty and self image. This wonderful post made me feel both scared and positive about tackling the subject of body image with my 3 year old.

You may be wondering why I would be worried about it when she’s so young, but she’s already showing signs that she equates beauty with self worth. A friend recently accidentally bought her a lipstick (she thought it was just a flavoured lip balm). The second my daughter put it on, she instantly started prancing around, like she was in a music video. Then she said, “I look beautiful, don’t I?”

I immediately said, “Bubba, you look beautiful all the time. You don’t need lipstick or anything else.”

She’s 3 years old. THREE, going on four. She barely even knows what lipstick is and already she equates it with beauty.

This wasn’t the first time something like this has happened. Soon after she turned 3, when she began to have a better grasp of language and expressing herself, she would get upset if she didn’t have a certain dress or hair clip, saying, “Now I won’t be pretty any more!”

This hasn’t come from me. I have made an effort to encourage gender neutral play, read her feminist fairy tales and made sure there were an equal amount of dresses and jeans in her wardrobe. I don’t dress her up specifically so that she looks ‘pretty’, though I may dress her up for special occasions.

I know she hasn’t got it from her father, either. He has tried to aim for the same kind of values I have. So, where is it coming from?

The big bad outside world, it would appear.

Well, then. That settles it. I’ll wrap her up in cotton wool and make her a home-schooled weirdo so that she isn’t subject to the outside influences that I can’t control.

Yeah. Like that’s gonna work. She’d probably get so bored, she’d kill me for sport.

I have to admit, the idea that there are influences out there shaping my baby’s image of her self, that I can’t control or even can identify, scares the shit out of me. What do I do?

I have a vague idea of where it comes from – images in media. I don’t just mean advertising, but in TV and cinema. All the female characters are tall, thin, wear make up and have pretty outfits. More often than not, reference is made to their beauty as if it’s the source of their motivation and power. If they don’t, it’s made clear they are a ‘tomboy’.

Knowing where it comes from doesn’t exactly solve the problem. I can’t exactly shut her off from everything around her. She’ll have to deal with these images eventually.

What it needs is a two-pronged attack.

First, give her the tools to deal with those images. Along with the feminist fairy tales, I need to sit her down and explain that the women in cartoons and in magazines aren’t actually real. They have been created by someone at a computer. The same goes for women and girls on TV. I need to explain to her that they have special lights, make up, cameras and computers making them all look perfect. Most importantly, explain to her that they are real people; that the people playing the roles have a hard life in making their image perfect; that it’s not glamourous, it’s hard work and can often make people miserable.

Secondly, keep fighting the good fight. I’m only one person on the internet, but I can keep up the dissent and fight images, campaigns and programs that undermine women and encourage poor self image. We all should. The more we do, the more likely we will see images of women in the media diversify. It’s worth a shot, anyway. If my daughter sees and hears me talking about it, at least the message is getting to the right person – the most important one.

What she doesn’t need is the likes of Melinda Tankard Reist, Hetty Johnson and Kids Free 2b Kids, who all seem to focus on sex in the media. They’re all missing a really fucking important point. It’s not the ‘sex’ that shapes kids’ minds. Kids don’t think of these images and messages in terms of sex – not until an adult points it out. But, they definitely see it in terms of their self image, which is real problem. They internalise it until sex actually becomes a topic of interest and THEN that is when it becomes a real issue. Girls who have been subject to these images without guidance and open discussion are then lead by the images alone. They become teenagers who think they have to be ‘sexy’ to get a boyfriend and be accepted by their peers. It can become their driving force in life. I should know, I was one. If you’re reading this, you probably were, too.

But it doesn’t happen at the age of 3. It actually frightens me that the people listed above do. That kind of thinking misses the real insidiousness in the images our children are exposed to. It definitely doesn’t give them any tools with which to fight it, either.

I still don’t know if I know how to talk to my little girl. But, christ, I’ve gotta do it. I can’t let her go out into the world thinking that her entire self worth is based on how she looks.

There is this term, right, that describes a psychological state that I totally made up. It’s called Gendered Paranoia.

Wait a sec, hear me out, before you decide I’m full of shit. I may well be, but I honestly think it’s a thing.

The most important tool in psychology, if not science in general, is observation. From my many years on the internet, I have observed many a thing. One of those things is people arguing. More often than not, because of the people I choose to interact with and the sites I choose to visit, it quite often comes down to gender.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I have observed more often and can describe this psychological state in terms of the male gender (for want of a better term) better. But, of course, my being female does give me a certain type of privilege on that front.

Oops. There I go. I said it. Privilege. That dirty word that leads arguments about Feminism or Sexism into absolute shitfights. Actually, it doesn’t even have to be about gender. It can be about racism. Mental illness. Socioeconomic status. Fruit cake. Monkeys. Frisbees. But, more often than not, it falls into gender lines. Mention privilege and people whip themselves into a frenzy trying to defend themselves, telling you that you’ve only trotted that term out to shut the other person down, that you’re refusing to listen to them because of their privilege, and that there’s no point in arguing with you because you’ve decided they know nothing because of their genitals. Or, conversely, that the person you’re arguing with can’t understand because of their privilege, and because they are aware of the word ‘privilege’, are obviously wilfully refusing to accept their privilege and are just using it against you, so can’t be argued with any more.

I’m sorry, but, no, it doesn’t work that way.

Well, actually, sometimes it does.

Look, I mention privilege once and already I’m arguing with myself.

The word privilege is not meant to shut down an argument. If you’re using to shut down an argument, or if you jump to the conclusion that it is meant to shut down an argument, then, frankly, you’re a cunt.

This is where my observed Gendered Paranoia comes in.

In terms of definition, it is the overreaction to an argument on a certain topic, after coming to the conclusion, be it real or misinterpreted, that the argument is being shut down on the basis of your gender.

This overreaction stems not from the argument itself, but from an internalised paranoia that your gender will not be heard on a certain topic. An internalised sexism, if you will. Or, to put it another way, a paranoia about how the other gender will react to you because of your set of genitals. It stems from your life experiences away from the computer, rather than arguments on the internet. What happens on the internet triggers these emotions. Unfortunately, like any argument, ‘IRL’ or electronic, we bring our entire past with us. Or, we do it if we’re not self aware enough to pause, think about the argument for a second, and take our emotions out of it.

The best way I can describe this is in terms of the male gender, and I’m sorry I have to do that. I do want to say that this, in my experience, is not actually the majority of males. But it’s where the majority of arguments based upon gender lines start.

A heated discussion starts on the internet. It falls along gender lines. A female will mention the privilege a male has in society, indicating they may not be able to understand the concept fully because they come from a different perspective, one where life is a little easier. The problem with this is that every time someone brings it up, the male in the argument gets into a tizz and says, “I refuse to believe someone would tell me I can’t discuss this because of my genitals”.

The thing the male NEVER understands about privilege is that it does not discount you from an argument. Personally, I believe a lot of males know this, and they are using this line as a type of manipulation because they paranoid about how women see them. As mentioned before, this stems from life experiences, not just the argument in question. They don’t do it on purpose. They firmly believe the females think they’ve won the argument by mentioning this privilege.

All any man, or any person, has to do to stay in the argument is *acknowledge* their privilege, then continue making their point. If you don’t think it’s relevant, because you’re making a point that does not fall along gender lines, all you have to do is SAY SO.

I can understand how that could be hard, especially given the nature and history of the word privilege, and the point that the other person is trying to make is that you’ve said [this derogatory thing] about females, when you really haven’t.

However, maybe you have. And maybe you are speaking from a position of privilege and just don’t realise it. All you have to do is take your emotions out of the argument and try to look at it objectively. The great thing about arguments on the internet, unlike real life, is that you get that opportunity. You can sit at your keyboard and think for a bit. You can walk away from it. You can write a huge missive about how angry you are, let it all out, then delete it and start again.

However triggering it might be, ragequitting the argument and blaming the use of the word privilege is just not fucking fair. If you come from a privileged position, especially as a white male, you must accept it. That’s just it. If you don’t, just fuck off.

It is possible to do so without conceding. Learn how to do it. You’ll probably learn more about yourself in the process.

Conversely, screaming, “PRIVILEGE” without careful consideration of the argument is not fair either. If you’re female and have decided that the other person doesn’t understand their position of privilege, by all means, mention it. However, it doesn’t stop there. Help them understand what you mean by ‘privilege’. Explain that, in terms of your argument, that they have every right to contribute, but they may not understand the concepts you’re discussing, simply because their life experiences won’t allow it. Reinforce the point that it does not discount them from the argument, that, in fact, they may learn something about their privilege by participating. They just might not be aware of that. This is not pandering to their privilege, it’s simple education.

If you are female and refuse to take the time to explain privilege, meanwhile setting up strawman arguments to prove your point and telling the entire internet that the person you’re arguing with is sexist and that’s the end of it, then, please, quit the internet now. You’re just making it hard for the rest of us. This is where the female side of the paranoia comes in. Your life experiences have taught you that men don’t understand the issues women face. You’ve probably been told, flat out, that you can’t do something because you’re female. You may have been abused, mentally or physically, because you are female. Your experiences have taught you men will react to you, as a female, in a certain way, that makes being considered an equal match in debate difficult. Emotions are triggered, and quite rightly so. However, in the midst of a debate, it leads to the belief that every man on the internet has an understanding of their privilege and will use it to win every argument. You have to defend every feminist point to the hilt and YOU WILL NOT STOP UNTIL THE INTERNET IS FREE OF SEXIST JERKS.

And, you know what? You’re right. The internet is full of sexist jerks. The internet is full of men who will try to undermine you because of your gender. The internet is full of men who will try to shut down your argument because they claim you aren’t taking them seriously because of the genitals they have. We need to fight against them and we need to stop it. There is simply no need for sexism on the internet. Young women need to know they can hang around forums and be treated as equals, not the underdog.

I’d love an internet where I don’t get called a Feminazi every time I try to stop criticism on the basis of gender. Seriously, that would be awesome. But, however, arguing every point about sexism and privilege like a Russell Crowe style gladiator every single time, with the rage of a thousand fights on a thousand internets, is not going to stop it then and there – though I wish it fucking would.

And, before you start, I’m not saying you should not argue with a man just so you don’t disturb their delicate privileged position. Fuck me dead, if you think that, you have never seen me argue on the internet, or anywhere. Read the rest of my blog first, please.

Pick your battles. If someone is being a privileged prick, point it out to them. If they refuse to understand, see above as to why. If they are suffering their own Gendered Paranoia, there’s not much you can do about that until they exorcise the demons they are fighting away from the computer. Tearing a man down due to a lack of understanding, rather than intentional and malicious sexism, is kinda proving their point, to be honest. That’s where you need to look at where your rage and paranoia comes from. Why do you need to make this point so fervently? And why right this second?

These things I talk about do not mean your argument is not valid. Everyone has a right to argue their point on the internet. It’s essentially what it’s there for. And porn. And, obviously, the combination of the two. My point with Gendered Paranoia is, are you arguing this way because you’re fighting the good fight or because of an insecurity you have in how the other gender will react to your argument?

Privilege is a Very Real Thing. We all have a certain type of privilege which prevents us from understanding certain concepts, simply due to our life experiences. For example, I am a white, cisgendered, female, who lives in an affluent suburban area. I have no idea what it’s like to be a Person of Colour. I have no idea what it’s like to be a Person with Disability. I have no idea what it’s like to struggle with my gender identity. Although I had a pretty poor childhood in socioeconomic terms, I don’t know what it’s like to live in abject poverty. I have no idea what it’s like to be male. I don’t believe, however, that discounts me from arguments or discussions on the subject, but I’m willing to sit down and consider that I can’t possibly see the other person’s perspective and I probably never will. That doesn’t make my argument invalid, but it does mean my perspective is skewed. Accepting that does not mean I’ve lost the argument. Or, that it was even my argument in the first place.

We all have shitty days, myself especially. If I decide to ragequit as a result, then that’s my loss. If I do so because I’ve not accepted my position of privilege, due to a paranoia that extends from life experiences, then that makes me a jerk. If I use this entire article as a way to undermine someone down in future, the writer will burn my house down. Wait, what?

And, remember, I am just another arsehole on the internet who thinks they know everything and totally made up a psychological term.

Now I think I’ve offended every single person on the internet. Job done. Happy New Year!

Posted by: Chasy | 06/12/2011

Whingers and the law

I’ve seen people whinging previously that they got called by a telemarketer or sent a promotional SMS. Their gripe was that it shouldn’t happen if they are on the Do Not Call Register. I would like to point out what the Do Not Call Register Act 2006 actually states in regards to making telemarketing calls:

11 Unsolicited telemarketing calls must not be made to a number registered on the Do Not Call Register

(1) A person must not make, or cause to be made, a telemarketing call to an Australian number if:

(a) the number is registered on the Do Not Call Register; and
(b) the call is not a designated telemarketing call.

Note: For “designated telemarketing call”, see Schedule 1.

(2) Subsection (1) does not apply if:

(a) the relevant telephone account holder; or
(b) a nominee of the relevant telephone account holder;

consented to the making of the call.

Note 1: For the meaning of consent, see Schedule 2.
Note 2: For the meaning of nominee, see section 39.

See that bit I highlighted there? If you consent to the call, then your listing on the Do Not Call Register becomes invalid for the purposes of that call.

Most people either get caught out by not realising that ticking the box saying, “Yes, I’d like to receive further promotional contact” actually means these types of calls. This is how the company gets around the Do Not Call Register Act 2006. Or, they mistakenly believe that even though they’ve consented to this kind of contact, the act will save them from actually getting a call. Not so.

Speaking of whingers and the law, this is Whinging of the Highest Order:

What a spiteful, disgusting, little man he is. I honestly don’t know how, despite making a big song and dance of the fact that he has made ‘no comment’ due to the ‘Racial Discrimination Act’, that he has actually made no comment. He is quite obviously referring to his erroneous stance that a light-skinned Indigenous person is not a ‘true’ Indigenous person and continually posting this sort of thing not only pushes that point, but further encourages his readers to discriminate against the people depicted. That inference quite obviously causes offence.

I honestly don’t understand how such posts could not contravene Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act:

Offensive behaviour because of race, colour or national or ethnic origin

(1) It is unlawful for a person to do an act, otherwise than in private, if:

(a) the act is reasonably likely, in all the circumstances, to offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate another person or a group of people; and

(b) the act is done because of the race, colour or national or ethnic origin of the other person or of some or all of the people in the group.

Note: Subsection (1) makes certain acts unlawful. Section 46P of the Australian Human Rights Commission Act 1986 allows people to make complaints to the Australian Human Rights Commission about unlawful acts. However, an unlawful act is not necessarily a criminal offence. Section 26 says that this Act does not make it an offence to do an act that is unlawful because of this Part, unless Part IV expressly says that the act is an offence.

(2) For the purposes of subsection (1), an act is taken not to be done in private if it:
(a) causes words, sounds, images or writing to be communicated to the public; or
(b) is done in a public place; or
(c) is done in the sight or hearing of people who are in a public place.

(3) In this section:
“public place” includes any place to which the public have access as of right or by invitation, whether express or implied and whether or not a charge is made for admission to the place.

And he can’t very well play the ‘in good faith’ card, as he is making it obvious he is well aware of the law and how making comment would contravene it.

And how HWT can possibly stand by this man and his vilification is beyond me.

Posted by: Chasy | 28/11/2011

DIAC and its medical hurdles

My attention was drawn to this article today regarding health assessments for visas and applicants who are rejected on the basis of chronic illness or disability.

Just quickly, I wanted to note three things:

1. The cost over 5 years has dropped since 2005: It used to be $25000, now it is $21000. This would, presumably, exclude more applicants. I am unsure if this was a recent change by the Gillard Government, or something done by the Howard Government before they were ousted.

2. The way in which the ‘are told to ignore whether the applicant has insurance or scholarship that may pay for their treatment’, I believe, has been misrepresented. As far as I was aware, this was always the case. It is DIAC to whom the applicant has to submit this information. The medical assessment made by the Senior Medical Advisor is then taken as one part of a great sum of information that the applicant is to submit, including whether they have the funds or insurance to pay for their treatment.

3. There is a visa called a ‘Medical Treatment Visa’ (Long Stay Subclass 685 and Short Stay Subclass 675). These visas are temporary, not permanent – but technically, so is Permanent Residency (under various subclasses, is a 5 year visa which must be renewed on an infinite basis until the applicant applies for citizenship). The information states these visas can be renewed, if continued treatment is deemed necessary. One would assume, that, if the applicant suffers a chronic illness or disability, treatment would still be required. If not, they would be free to apply for Permanent Residency and not be rejected on medical grounds. Of course, this is where it becomes a matter of finances, which means applicants from developing countries may be excluded. However, it is my understanding that there are reciprocal medical programs in place with countries within the Asia-Pacific region and beyond.

So, in short, yes, someone with a chronic illness or disability would be rejected for a regular temporary or permanent visa, but there are ways around it. The fact that the application process is so discriminatory in the first place is appalling, but there is more than one pathway to obtaining a visa if you suffer a chronic illness or disability.

My dear friend Bron asked me via Facebork what I thought of this article, then encouraged me to blog my response. So, if you have quarrel with it, blame her.

Anyway. Here ’tis:

Using the Marquis de Sade as an example of why porn is bad is pretty pathetic. There was no consent when it came to his victims, which is not porn, but rape. It’s not unusual for detractors to extrapolate from anecdotes or studies in such a manner and use it to support their argument.

Of all the types of fetish porn Dr Bray lists, she fails to mention that fetishes are, for the most part, healthy, despite whether you find them attractive or not, and that they all have consent. Again, if they don’t, it’s not porn, it’s rape. Detractors never mention this fact, nor, if you’ll notice, actually have any evidence to back up any of the claims of abuse, save for a few vague anecdotes. It’s all based on their personal opinion on what they find attractive – seeing as they don’t, they are quick to claim it is ‘abuse’. I assume it’s because they simply don’t understand it. I find this frustrating, because they are essentially saying, “Well, I don’t like it, so you can’t possibly.” We are not allowed to make those decisions by ourselves. The assumption is also that sexual attraction is uniform in it’s manifestation. Everyone must like the same thing in the same way, apparently.

I wasn’t at there for it, but the Camp Betty conference held in Sydney in 2011 had a workshop called ‘Fucking Crips’ – which was organised by People with Disabilities – that discussed how finding people who had fetishes such as Stump Porn was actually liberating for PWD such as themselves. For want of a better phrase, they were no longer a freak, they were a part of the larger community who was out there having healthy sexual relationships. It’s not for everyone, and it’s certainly not going to work for ever PWD, either. Again, it’s about choice and consent.

As Fiona Pattern says, not all porn is good. Any porn where absolute consent is not given is illegal. Nobody is advocating for that to continue. However, if detractors can’t produce actual evidence that watching or performing in it is harmful, while supporters can show sexual assaults have fallen since the advent of commercial porn, they can get stuffed. Erm, no pun intended.

I also have a huge problem with the title. I don’t believe Fiona Pattern is saying that porn is a ‘rite of passage’ at any point. She is definitely saying it is not the big bad boogeyman, turning good young men into rapists at a glance, that is it made out to be by it’s detractors, and can easily be a part of any healthy relationship.

Also, where’s the fucking question mark?!

Posted by: Chasy | 12/09/2011

The Problem with Melinda

There was a debate on Twitter not long ago on who can or can’t be called a feminist – specifically, whether Melinda Tankard Reist makes the grade.

I’ll get right to the point. The answer is no.

Her religious affiliation has nothing to do with it. A woman can be devoted to her faith and still be a feminist. The many feminists of Islamic faith we see fighting for the rights of women in the Middle East are a perfect example. It may well be MTR’s motivation, but it does not factor into whether she fits the definition or not.

A lazy Google search will tell you that Feminism is defined as “[O]rganized activity on behalf of women’s rights and interests.”

This then begs the question – how can Melinda be fighting for women’s rights and interests, when the aim of her activism is to deny them reproductive rights and sexual agency?

Her crusade against porn is one I personally have quarrel with, but I think it also helps to illustrate what MTR’s activism boils down to – anti-sex-positivism. Recently on The Drum, she said of the influence of porn (and I’m paraphrasing, because I can’t remember the exact wording of the quote, unfortunately, and don’t have the luxury of being able to watch the interview again): “Boys think girls want to be slapped, to be sworn at, have their hair pulled…”

Dunno about you, Melinda, but that sounds like a good night in to me.

My point is that, indeed, some of us do like sex that takes that form. Some of us don’t. Some of us don’t like sex at all. However, the arrogance in Melinda believing that she knows best is appalling. That does not empower women, it infantilises them. We can make our own choices. Young girls need to be made aware of this, not shielded from it. If they are not educated in negotiating sexual contact with their partner, then, of course, they are going to have sexual experiences they won’t enjoy. That is obvious. Young males, too, need this education. It is just as vital as education on the biology of sex. It draws a long bow, however, to say that means the existence of porn automatically means that women are in danger and need to be protected from it.

It surprises me, then, that a woman who researches porn as a career activity has not made that connection. Actually, it doesn’t. If her aim was to empower women, she would have made that connection from the get go. As her aim is to stamp out porn and the sex industry, she conveniently ignores it.

Oh, whoops. I got off track there. I think, most importantly, her appropriation of feminism to promote anti-abortion is the real decisive factor. To deny a woman her reproductive rights is anti-feminism. I honestly don’t know how you can argue the point. I draw your attention to this in particular:

The “Real Reform” statement cites the supposed “existence of a substantial body of research showing that many women experience significant, negative physical and psychological outcomes after abortion”. Its tactic is aimed at getting a hearing among supporters of abortion rights for the idea of compulsory counseling, under the guise of concern for women’s mental health. But “post-abortion trauma” is yet another lie perpetuated by the anti-abortion lobby. It is based on distortions and pseudo-science.

A report released in August 2008 by the American Psychological Association found that while “it is clear that some women do experience sadness, grief, and feelings of loss following termination of a pregnancy, and some experience clinically significant disorders, including depression and anxiety”, the report stated that there was “no evidence sufficient to support the claim that an observed association between abortion history and mental health was caused by the abortion per se, as opposed to other factors”.

Given that, I honestly don’t think Melinda Tankard Reist makes the definition of feminist. Her activism stems from conservative viewpoint which does not empower women. Manipulating the word ‘feminist’ so that she may ride on the coattails of a popular movement in order to strengthen this viewpoint weakens the movement entirely. Personally, I think it is potentially dangerous to say that this is feminism, as it is, essentially, protecting women from themselves. We need more power to uphold our rights, not more people trying to undermine them from within.

Quite frankly, if she dropped her anti-sex and anti-abortion activism and concentrated on, as her Twitter bio says, being ‘a voice for women and girls’, she’d be a bloody good feminist. Unfortunately, that cancels her out. If you can actually give me a reason why it doesn’t, by all means, let me know.

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