Monthly Archives: August 2007

Women Need Good Wives – Wednesday Herald, 22/8/07

Barnett makes some good points – note the website advertising alongside the artice “dating withut drama -be the woman men love; “catch cheating wives” etc. from whose perspective?

Do you have a good wife? Do men make good wives? Can we share the load?

– Jacqui

National StoryRSS

Tracey Barnett: Women need good wives
5:00AM Wednesday August 22, 2007
By Tracey Barnett

Answer this: Which list reflects countries with the higher percentage of women executives?

A: United States, Britain, Canada.B: Brazil, Philippines, Botswana.

If you chose list A, you’d be dead wrong. Not one of those countries even made it into the top 10 of 32 countries polled, whereas each one in list B did, a survey by international business consultants Grant Thorton shows.

In fact, the old boys of Europe – such as Germany, Italy and The Netherlands – landed at the bottom of the heap, ranking only slightly above the biggest loser, Japan, where just 7 per cent of executive ranks were filled by women, even though half the workforce is female.

It doesn’t make sense. Canada and Britain represent open, rich, developed societies with highly educated women who take their civil rights as a given.

If these nations aren’t pumping out power women, who is?

The surprise winner is the Philippines, where a whopping 97 per cent of businesses have women executives and where 50 per cent of senior managers are women, compared with 24 per cent in New Zealand.


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AdvertisementWhat’s in their water? Is the Filipino power elite starting to hand the torch to this new generation of highly educated working daughters? Or are the high rankings of Brazil and Botswana testament that developing countries are learning from the mistakes of tradition-entrenched Europe and are now doing a better job utilising the newer half of their executive workforce?

There are briefcases of material to digest on this topic, but one less palatable point that most of the highest-rated countries have in common is that they have extreme socio-economic inequities, meaning there is a big enough population of poor people willing to work at low wages, so even the middle class can afford cleaners and nannies. Translation: these working women have a wife.

Unsuspecting Kiwi working women may not have heard of this concept. People are actually paid to do things that you’ve always done after you’ve come home from a long day at the office. Really.

When I asked a woman at the Ministry of Women’s Affairs if she had statistics on how many of us have a cook, a driver, a cleaner and a nanny, the poor woman laughed so loudly that she snorted into the phone. I believe I can interpret that number as statistically small.

The last check in New Zealand, in 1999, showed that 60 per cent of men’s work is paid, but 70 per cent of women’s work is unpaid.

Not a problem if there is an agreed trade-off between doing important societal duties such as raising children or raising pay cheques.

It gets considerably less pretty when both partners are working full time, yet she – compared with him – is putting in an extra two hours a day at home on unpaid work.

Suddenly that adds up to two entire extra working days tacked on to her fulltime work week – time that does zilch for the executive potential of her CV.

More crucially, are her unpaid work commitments at home early in her career, especially with children, keeping her from bagging the executive chair in the long term? Forget the glass ceiling, nobody’s talking about the sticky floor that’s also draining the working achievements of women.

We’re not exactly a poster child for female potential. Although women make up 59 per cent of university graduates, only a paltry 16.9 per cent get tapped to be professors, 17.2 per cent to join top legal partnerships and 24.2 per cent to become judges. And a pathetic 7.13 per cent of women sit on corporate boards.

Even if we just quietly set aside the argument that elite men promote their own from familiar power networks, let’s just go back a step. Shouldn’t we be teaching our most ambitious young women to be having a drink with a new client rather than cleaning the pizza cheese off the bottom of the oven?

Because that’s how her male partner is getting ahead.

For potential women leaders in their field, isn’t part of this equation about conscious choice and not just economics? If you want to see your daughter in Helen’s job some day, teach her that committing disproportionate time to unpaid work relative to her male partner carries a real long-term personal cost.

In the name of crucial national research, I’d like to ask our Prime Minister this: Who changes the empty toilet rolls in your house? If it’s Peter, then this country owes him an Iron Cross for allowing you to realise your career potential. But if it’s been you all these years, we need to talk.

Forget policy to bolster future Girl Power, instead send a package to every man in this fine land with a note that reads: “Boys, it’s called oven cleaner.”

Tayyibah Taylor, Editor of Azizah Magazine for Muslim American Women

So those of you in Gender and Politics which feminist theoretical perspectives do you think expliciate Tayyibah’s perspective best?

By the way, I am putting two copies of AZIZAH on my office door for you to peruse upstairs in No. 14. And I thought I’d blow up the photo on the backcover of the Muslim American woman surfer and out it on my door too!

Cheers, Jacqui

Angela A. Thomas' blog

Angela Thomas, aka Anya Ixchel, is a lecturer in English Education from the University of Sydney. Have a look at her blog (now added to our blogroll) which has some really interesting posts on feminism and digital cultures / virtual worlds. She will also be presenting a seminar in Second Life entitled ‘No More Business Suits Please’. The blurb sounds fascinating:

Second Life offers a unique opportunity to refashion one’s self and to play with fictional identities. Yet many of us who work inside Second Life feel trapped in our offline identity roles and conform to traditional discourses of femininity, masculinity, appearance, beauty and fashion. Professionals wear business suits, educators cry out for more modest clothing, and artists wear funky coloured skins. In some contexts, people who resist these discourses are discriminated against. This session explores how we might be able to leverage one of the greatest affordances of Second Life—the avatar—for personal, community and professional agendas.

posted by Charlie

Anti-violence campaign – a different approach: Make Some Noise on August 8th

From: International Indigenous Solidarity []
Sent: Tuesday, 7 August 2007 3:15 p.m.
Subject: Press Release: SUPPORT WHĀNAU MĀORI: Make Some Noise campaign.

SUPPORT WHĀNAU MĀORI: Make Some Noise campaign.

Press Release: AWA: Allies of Whānau o Aotearoa

Allies of Whānau o Aotearoa (AWA), is a new Māori group, formed out of a hui of Māori social service workers and community activists to advocate support for all whānau o Aotearoa. AWA is promoting whānau based solutions to whānau problems.

“We want whānau, and our allies, to MAKE SOME NOISE tomorrow to show that they support solutions to the challenges faced by whānau Māori that are conceived, developed and delivered by Māori for Māori,” says spokesperson Te Kanikani Tautoko.

The group met on Saturday August 4th, 2007 and developed a list of requirements that whānau need from their allies:

– be willing to listen to whānau

– acknowledge that the solutions rest in Māori hands

– be respectful toward Māori

– speak when invited

– be accountable to Māori

– be willing to share power

Example: allies would advocate support and funding to whānau, to address the breakdown of Māori society that has occured with the loss of our lands, language and culture, and economic well being.

“We have had many non-Māori broadcasting what they think is wrong with Māori people and whānau in the last week. While we appreciate their concern, non-Māori need to recognise the following fundamentals: This is not a ‘Māori problem’, so much as it is a colonisation problem and Māori communities must lead the development of solutions.” Said Te Kanikani Tautoko

Te Kanikani Tautoko continued, “the silence proposed by a coalition of non-Māori organisations is counter-productive; engaging in korero and making noise is a more appropriate approach. Our aim with MAKE SOME NOISE is to gather solidarity from genuine supporters of whānau.”

“Another central purpose of MAKE SOME NOISE is to mihi (acknowledge/honour) the grief and mamae (pain) that the whanau of baby Nia, and other whanau who have lost children to violence are going through at this time. For this reason we ask supporters of MAKE SOME NOISE to kōrero on this issue, sing waiata tautoko (songs of support) and/or play taonga puoro (Maori instruments) in support of the whanau. At 12.12pm, Wednesday August 8th 2007.”

“We worry that the solutions promoted by many non-Māori pundits in news media this past week will make things worse. For example, the marriage counseling proposed by the Sensible Sentencing Trust, Family First and For the Sake of Our Children Trust is useless as it does not deal with the root causes of violence. We need a new system that shares resources fairly.”

People who MAKE SOME NOISE this Wednesday will be sending a message that they support whānau; they believe that whānau hold the solutions and will be advocating working genuinely with Māori to support whānau. AWA urges all people of Aotearoa who support a fair and equitable approach to solving violence in Māori communities to MAKE SOME NOISE with us at 12:12pm, Wednesday August 8th, 2007.

Please contact AWA spokesperson Te Kanikani Tautoko for further information or comment: 021 155 1154 or

ImagineNative Action”Building solidarity between Indigenous and Peoples of Colour communities. Defending our whenua & peoples against racism and exploitation since 2007″Email received and posted by Anita.


I found this extremely interesting to read, as well as funny. Its the yang to our yin or is it yin to our yang? (is that right?) It’s a book, written by Peter Zohrab, titled Sex, Lies and Feminism. I have never read it, but the one chapter i read, made me smile (and shake my head)

Reviews: Sex, Lies & Feminism is one of those rare books that instantly reads like a movement classic…. Zohrab’s intellect and knack for fresh re-examination … had me turning the pages almost as raptly as if I were reading a novel…. A book that can actually get the reader to develop or expand useful new modes of thought is rare indeed.”

just some ‘light’ reading!

have a good week all! 

In his article, “The Women Are At Fault” Matthias Matussek refers to the modern women’s “excitedly-chattering programs of feminine self-elevation.”1 He asks, “Why do they constantly stand before the fairy-tale mirror-on-the wall, to reassure themselves that they are the most beautiful, the smartest, the most courageous?” He suggests their “narcissistic posturing before the mirror, as silly as it is, is part of the prescribed role-acting for the ‘modern woman,’ something that she finds almost impossible to escape.” (Translator: W. Schneider,

He also cites the widespread popular feeling that “women are on the ascent, men on the descent.” These two features of modern western societies – women’s narcissism and their ascent, relative to men – are closely connected. To understand these phenomena, we need to analyse developments in both political and social thinking since World War II.

One major result of the Second World War has been that conservative and right-wing policies were discredited by the defeat of their apparently most extremist (Fascist and Nazi) proponents. Any policy promoted by Hitler, Mussolini, the Nazis or the Fascists (even just moderately conservative ones) is vulnerable to attack because of its association with the “Bad Guys.” In fact, Germany was probably lucky the autobahns weren’t all dug up on that pretext after World War II! The Left/Right dichotomy is to some extent artificial, or course, and Nazism was to some extent a Socialist ideology. However, in popular culture Nazism is classed as being on the Right and Socialism is classed as being on the Left.

In response, our gurus (Hollywood, plus university lecturers and journalists) inundated the second half of the 20th Century with the “lessons” they thought we should learn from the WW II. Apparently, they believed the main lesson is that, by definition, anyone who is “oppressed” is good, while “oppressors” are bad. My point is not that this precept is wrong, but that, by virtue of this connection with Nazi atrocities, it has become the moral cornerstone of western society. It is so pervasive that as westerners we might need to learn Arabic or an Asian language and go live in certain parts of Muslim or non-Muslim Asia before we could even conceive how it is possible to think of Hitler without the moral overtones that have become second nature for westerners. Hitler and his actions have become synonymous with extreme evil, and are often used by political movements as reference-points, with which to compare some evil that they are attacking.

Why should that matter? Because of how it causes us to view victims (both real and alleged).

Virtue of the victim class
Generations of academics and journalists have told us women are chief among the victims of oppression, and men are their oppressors. In the post-W.W.II paradigm, this makes all women “good” and all men “bad.” This story told long and loud has produced a virtual cult of oppression, and there has been an unholy scramble by various sections of our societies to prove themselves oppressed, and therefore good.

Getting classified as one of the oppressed provides all sorts of benefits. First, it all but guarantees positive media coverage, and even ordinary women can now expect to be treated as victims in situations where men would not.

Then there is the research into one’s oppression, government subsidies of various kinds and possibly even a clutch of Hollywood movies. (Despite a growing body of evidence proving women commit as much domestic violence as men, for example, scarcely a month goes by without the release of a new movie about how husbands beat up their wives, and the Battered Woman’s Shelter movement has become a lucrative government subsidized business.) With all that, who wouldn’t want to be one of the oppressed? Or at least recognized as one.

Today the view women are victims is taken for granted, and we live in a culture obsessed by their issues. Society revolves around women and their needs, with so many Feminist Special Interest Groups (SIGs) demanding whatever they feel might benefit women as a whole, or one sector of the female population in particular, that men’s issues are virtually ignored, by comparison. Such is Feminists’ power that few politicians are willing to oppose them for fear of being labeled “sexist.”

With men and society so obsessed with women’s issues, it is only natural for women – like the spoiled only-child of doting parents – to become ever more self-obsessed and narcissistic. If everything else revolves around you, you may as well revolve around yourself as well. Only the strongest resist. Making derogatory remarks about men is habitual in some Feminist circles – but men can hardly make derogatory remarks about women without being shamed or bullied into an apology.
Women’s self-esteem is constantly built up by exaggerated headlines (any woman who is able to breathe is a candidate for being called a “Superwoman” in a Feminist journalists’s puffery.) And this, together with the absence of criticism, means that women can blame external forces for all their problems, and need never taken responsibility for them.

Women’s narcissism is partly a result of women’s power (see chapter 14). But it is also a source of their power. Since women are so tuned-in to themselves, they have ample opportunity to discover “needs” (i.e. wants) which Society (i.e. men) must fulfill. Complaining about all these new unfulfilled needs creates more evidence of their victimization by men, and this reinforces their power.

Who’s got the power?
On both the Left and Right, philosophers, politicians and ideologues often use a “straw man” model of their opponents’ ideas – a distorted model which they can attack more easily than the real thing. Similarly, Feminists have used a straw man model of political power, emphasizing the power of politicians and top bureaucrats, to deflect attention from the real bastions of power in western democracies. Decision-makers such as politicians do have power, but that power is severely limited by those who control the flow of information, stereotypes and ideas in popular culture.

The really powerful people are the journalists, Hollywood personnel, and researchers who control information and stereotypes, and thereby control the choices decision-makers think are available to them. Joseph McCarthy once tried to purge Hollywood of Communist sympathisers. He failed, and our sympathies are now supposed to be with those whose careers he damaged.

However, it would be naïve to assume he was wrong in his analysis — however heavy-handed his methods. Hollywood, the media, and the education system control or at the least strongly influence what policies the electorate thinks are good, realistic or credible. I have first-hand experience of blatant left-wing indoctrination in the education sector, where many professionals think it is sufficient to label something or someone as “left” for she/it/he to be worthy of promotion – and labelling something or someone as “right” is sufficient cause to oppress or censor him/it/her. In universities, it has long been fashionable for Leftists to label something or someone as “Fascist” if it or they are even slightly to the Right of their own stance on an issue.

I am talking here about the actual workers (e.g., journalists) in these fields – not the financial backers, who are usually too interested in making money to care about influencing the content of what is produced by their sometimes one-eyed Left/Liberal workers. Even print media which have a conservative editorial line do not always insist on that same bias in other sections of their publication.

For example, the Wellington, New Zealand, conservative Dominion morning daily newspaper once periodically ran prominent articles on Feminism and female politicians in France. What makes this remarkable is how irrelevant it is to most New Zealanders, who have very little interest in internal French politics. Could it be a subtle way of disguising Feminist propaganda? Hitler’s infamous henchman Goebbels preferred to use historical analogies rather than direct propaganda, in order to conceal his “art.” Were Dominion Feminist journalists using geographical displacement to package their propaganda the same way Goebbels used historical displacement to package the Nazis’ propaganda.

Parallel to the degree of control Feminists exert in the media is the difficulty men have in finding publishers for books on men’s issues.

The Internet promises to liberate us from this covert censorship, but librarians and teachers are working hard to prevent that and reclaim their pre-Internet control over information. Articles such as “Testing the Surf: Criteria for Evaluating Internet Information Resources” (Alastair Smith, The Public Access Computer Systems Review 8, No. 3, 1997) argue that people should be taught to avoid web sites that are “biased” in favour of those that have “authority” or “reputable organizations” behind them. It just so happens the latter category of web sites are likely to belong to libraries and educational institutions. Librarianship and education are female-dominated occupations, and these institutions typically teach Feminism as fact and ignore or deprecate men’s rights.

Take the well-known Feminist journalist and author, Susan Faludi. According to the author of the Femjour web page,

“Faludi thinks a journalist’s job is to create social change by educating people and taking the time to investigate things. A journalist needs to be passionate about a cause, she says.” ( )
Leftist journalists are often “engaged” or “committed” in this way. I once read a “news” article in the Guardian Weekly about a new or resurgent right-wing party in Austria (Austrian Freedom Party) that wanted to restrict immigration. This party later became part of the Government and one of its Ministers, Mr. Haupt, founded the World’s first Men’s Department (in the Ministry of Social Security and Generations). Because immigration is such an emotive issue when it concerns German-speaking countries, I had to read about half-way into the article before I could find any indication of the reasons this party gave for its policies – the first half was pure rhetoric about how dangerous this party was! Yet the Guardian counts as one of the “quality” newspapers of Britain!

When this Men’s Department was founded, I started to take an interest in whether the Austrian Freedom Party was actually a Neo-Nazi party, as the media tended to imply. I did a brief search of the Internet, which confirmed my initial impression that most of the opposition to this party was based on Left-wing hysteria and rhetoric, rather than fact.

Later, I attended a lecture on the history of Austria given by a retired Professor of German (himself of Austrian origin), who also called the party “Neo-Nazi”, but gave no evidence for this. So I challenged him to give some concrete evidence that it was Neo-Nazi, but all he could say was that the party’s original leader, Mr. Harder, was “too clever” to say anything specifically Nazi, and that he had addressed a gathering of former SS soldiers. Interestingly, he also characterised the New Zealand politician, Winston Peters, as “too clever” ! I pointed out that, if Communists voted for a left-wing party, he would not then say that that entire party was Communist ! He was most reluctant to consider even the possibility that the Austrian Freedom Party was not Neo-Nazi, but he did eventually admit that possibility.

He mentioned that these former SS soldiers (if that is what they actually were) explained their vote for the Austrian Freedom Party as a vote for “Freedom” – and he was very scornful of that. However, he himself explained that the ruling Leftists in Austria had become very corrupt, and it doesn’t take much imagination to see that conservatives in the Austrian countryside might indeed have justifiably seen a vote against the ruling Leftists as a vote for freedom from oppression. I constantly come up against the Leftist attitude (in the capital city of New Zealand, where I live) that, if you don’t have the correct Leftist views, you should go and live in a provincial town ! That bias is also reflected in the kind of service I get from Leftist bureaucrats. Often the bias is so great as to be unbelievable.

Since World War II, an entire intellectual culture of hysteria has grown up, where certain topics (e.g. restricting immigration) are taboo, and anyone broaching those topics is considered to be a racist or even a Neo-Nazi, who is simply too clever to say what he/she really thinks. Every country restricts immigration to some extent, and I would guess that Third-World countries, from which refugees typically flow into Western countries, restrict immigation much more than Western countries do, on the whole. No country, surely, can afford to open its borders to everyone who wants to come in !

When I read the left-liberal British Guardian Weekly newspaper, I filter out the bias. One of its subscribers, however, told me he reads it specifically for its bias! This kind of person is what is known in Britain as a “Guardian-Reader”; i.e., someone with a fairly predictable set of politically correct views. Such people, who graduate en masse from our Liberal Arts colleges and universities, provide a ready market for committed Leftist journalists to carry out political activism as part of their professional activities.

In the 1970’s, in Auckland, New Zealand, I failed to get into journalism school while a Marxist female friend succeeded. She told me my mistake had been to wear a suit at the interview – the panel was looking for crusading journalists, not conservative types. And I am sure I gave the wrong answer when the interviewers asked me if I wanted to “change the World.” “Of course not!” I said. As a consequence of this pervasive bias, the West is flooded with journalists who have been selected for courses or for jobs on the basis of their leftist credentials, and their determination to avoid objectivity at all costs.

In 1997, I made an oral submission to a committee of the national legislature, which was considering some draft legislation on a Sex War issue.2 The actual issue was the provision of social welfare payments to people (i.e., women, in most cases) who were deemed to be victims of ongoing domestic violence. They were to be eligible to receive these payments even if their partners already had an income which would normally make them ineligible to receive social welfare payments.

On behalf of my Association, I made a written and oral submission, focusing on the use of the term unscientific term “Battered Woman Syndrome” in the preamble to the Bill. I had some hand-outs for the media and when I saw some women sitting at the back of the committee room who were taking notes, I asked if any members of the media were present. No one responded, though much was written.
There were two oral submissions made before mine, and at least one after. Despite this, an article appeared next day in the Dominion, the city’s only morning newspaper, describing the committee’s activities as though there had been only one submission – from a Feminist. It gave what amounted to a Feminist press release; no comment or criticism of any kind. Obviously, an insider on the staff of the newspaper was determined to give only one side of the story – the Feminist’s. The paper is known for its conservative editorial line, but this line is obviously not enforced in all sections of the paper.

The combined efforts of the New Zealand Men’s and Fathers’ Movement did succeed in persuading the Committee to throw out the concept of the “Battered Woman’s Syndrome,” but the Law Commission, as I write, is trying to get it introduced into New Zealand law under another name. I see such one-sided reporting as typical of my experience with the media, though the situation has gradually improved due to our persistent opposition to media bias.

This media/Hollywood/university/publishing industry brainwashing process, however, does not have to continue perpetually. Despite their best efforts, reality may yet gatecrash this particular Hollywood set. I hope that day is close at hand and that this book, together with other events happening around the world will mark a watershed in this process.

The Soviet Union and Comecon are no more, China has declared that to be rich is glorious, and there has been a massive swing to the Right in western economic policies. Countries in East and Southeast Asia have also helped weaken the stereotype that only Whites can be rich (and therefore “bad”). The old Left-wing stereotypes are breaking down all over the world. Leftism in social policy matters cannot remain unaffected because it is a state of mind maintained by a victim coalition. If one part of it is undermined, all are undermined.

I am not attacking the victim coalition here – just analysing their power-structure in relation to Feminism, as defined in the Introduction. The victim coalition and its ideology, Political Correctness, have become very powerful. I do not desire their total destruction, but I do acknowledge that attacking one of their pillars – Feminism – has the potential to weaken the entire edifice.

Domestic and Family Violence – NZ Herald 21 July 2007

I would like to comment on the recent reports highlighting the continuing problem of systematic domestic violence in New Zealand. A couple of weekends ago there was a feature in the Weekend Herald on domestic and family violence. The story makes for a dissapointing read – basically because there is no story. The article merely presents the statistics, discusses various measurement problems with those statistics and advises on how they can be best interpreted – i.e. conservatively. The focus remains safely on measurement, not the substantive problem. The article talks to a couple of key women involved in supporting or counteracting the violence. These women I’m sure do incredible and necessary work – but they are the usual suspects to be consulted. Furthermore, the accompanying picture of a forlorn, passive looking woman with a stage make-up bruise seems to misrepresent or perhaps underrepresent the nature of the problem. Is the nature of domestic violence really captured by a picture of a woman with a black eye?

I think what is also missing from this and other reports like it is discussion of the initiatives to prevent domestic violence which men are involved in. We hear little about mens organisations to conbat this violence in NZ or even overseas initiatives involving men. Of course this is in large part becuae there are relatively few. But they do exist and are growing. The White Ribbon campaign which started in Canada and now has presence here and in many other countries is an example. Perhaps journalists could think outside the box a bit and key into emerging movements like these.

Many men’s reticence on the issue of domestic violence and the lack of institutional support structures in society for men or men’s groups mean that the burden of analsyisng and investigating gender based violence is carried by women and women’s organisations. But this problem is not going to go away until men and masculinities are brought into analysis. Some campaigns in the media are slowly starting to do this through the use of celebrity – a great step. However, there is still perhaps a lack of understanding about routinely addressing the issue as a men’s as well as a women’s issue. The picture accompanying the article I think also demonstrates a lack of udnerstanding of the contextual, relational nature of violence.

A Mexican researcher Juan Carlos Ramirez Rodrigeuz argues that when men are approached to talk about their violence against their partners and children it is often perceived to be confrontational. To aviod this in his own work (in Mexico) he has used a narrative approach. He lets the men tell their stories and allows the issue of violence to come up ‘naturally’ in the flow of their dialogue about their lives. This gives better results on how the men perceive, manage and justify their violence and at the same time does not separate their acts from the broader context of thier lives.

He says “I believe we need to capture the relationships that are constantly in flux, and that are shaped by other linkages – to other men, to one’s original family, to the workplace, to sons and daughters, and to institutionalised discourses, whether firmly established or only nascent” (referene below).

I think approaching the problem this way allows us to see gender as a relational concept, not as something that women and men have. I think this sort of approach allows us to see better that men and women are gendered. Perhaps this way we can start to take for granted much less the masculine foundations of our society, many of which condone the manhy forms of violence against women.

I know there is a lot of work around masculinities and violence in some quarters, I just wish the mainstream media would get a bit more savvy. But a commercially owned press is not a free press, I suppose – but debating statistics under the guise of true analysis of a crucial social issue is disappointing.

Finally and importantly, I would like to paraphrase masculinities expert Robert Connell in saying that although statistically most violence in society is perpetrated by men, this does not mean all men are violent. Having said that at the level of the UN Violence Against Women is treated as a serious issue of ‘epidemic’ proportions. There are many UN sites dealing with it, but take a look at

should give a few leads.


Rodrigeuz, J., 2006. Revisioning Male Violence in Men of the Global South: a reader (ed) Jones, A. London: Zed Books pp67-71.

A Room of One's Own

It was great to have the opportunity to see Coco Fusco’s performance-lecture “A Room of One’s Own: Women and Power in the New America” yesterday. It’s not often we get a chance to see an internationally renowned performance artist – let alone for free!

I was really pleased to be able to go along with a number of Gender and Politics students. What did you all think of it? What do you think Fusco was saying? What do you think her point was about what happens when women gain entry to overtly masculine institutions, for instance?

I’m looking forward to discussing this further!


Sex, Marriage and Feminism

This article in The Bulletin caused quite a stir in Australia last week and I was wondering how other people felt about women being encouraged to acquiesce to their husband’s ‘demands’.  For those of us in 213 it might be nice to couch responses in differing feminist perspectives – Mel

Happily married sexThe Bulletin   Thursday, July 26, 2007The hand comes creeping across the bed,and the wife once again pretends to be asleep. Nightly in the nation’s bedrooms women are turning off sex in their droves. Now, new research by Bettina Arndt suggests a provocative solution.Remember that wonderful scene in the movie Annie Hall when the camera switches between Woody Allen in his psychiatrist’s office and his lover, Diane Keaton, in hers. They are each asked how often they have sex. “Hardly ever,” Allen says plaintively. “Maybe three times a week.” “Constantly,” Keaton groans. “I’d say three times a week.”It’s great stuff, touching on the yawning gulf between men and women in everyday sexual desire. It’s true that most men feel they aren’t getting enough and women feel under pressure to come up with what the men want. That’s the elephant in the room in many relationships, the often unspoken source of much marital tension.Sex in marriage isn’t what it used to be. Gone are the days when sex was simply part of women’s wifely duties. Now most men find themselves on the back foot, feeling very much at the mercy of women’s whim. And that makes for lean pickings given the large numbers of women who go off sex.There seems to be a universal epidemic of women not wanting to have sex. Or at least not wanting as much sex as their partners. On daytime television there’s a passing parade of women worrying about their lost libido. “It would be totally fine if I never had sex again,” one young wife tearfully told Oprah Winfrey.That means trouble. How do couples deal with the strain of the man wishing and hoping while all she longs for is uninterrupted sleep? “That’s what we fought about most in the first 10 years of our marriage,” says 54-year-old Amy who, with her husband Jim, 56, is filling out diaries as part of my research on how couples negotiate their sex supply. “Every night he’d have a go. He’d reach across the bed and it was my decision whether it was on or not. It was this big ogre between us.”Amy continues: “Even if I refused him, I’d be so upset that I’d lie awake at night thinking, ‘Why did I say no?’ I might as well have let him have it because the next day he’d be so grumpy.” “That’s right,” Jim acknowledges ruefully, “I was a great sulker.” Even on days he didn’t approach her, Amy says she was nervous. “He’d be snoring loudly and I’d still lie there worrying that the hand was going to come creeping over.”It’s a drama being played out in bedrooms across the country. But this is usually a silent movie, with couples rarely talking about their subtle negotiations. His calculations: “What if I …? Will she then …?” Her excuses: dropping her book and feigning sleep as he enters the bedroom. Tensions. Resentment. Guilt. But still joy, of course. How reassuring that, despite the sags and bulges of a less-than-perfect body, you are still wanted. How comforting that warm and familiar body.It’s now almost 30 years since Amy lay rigid in bed, dreading the creeping hand. “I look back and am amazed now that we let sex become such a source of tension between us. It was because we couldn’t talk about it.” But there was another huge stumbling block – in Amy’s head. This was the 1970s, a time when women’s sexual rights had become a rallying cry. Women must no longer act as spittoons for men, preached Germaine Greer. Women were to reclaim their bodies for their own pleasure and that meant having sex only when they felt like it. Female desire must come first, pronounced the famous sex researchers Masters and Johnson. Without desire, there was no arousal, no pleasure, they said.But as Amy discovered, if she waited for her own libido to rear its weedy little head, the couple’s sex frequency would have hit the red very quickly. After one particularly nasty fight, Jim announced he was sick of having to approach her. “If you ever want sex again, you are going to have to ask me for it,” he told her. “That was a complete and utter disaster,” says Amy, describing how she’d lie awake worrying about not wanting sex yet knowing how grumpy he’d be.She’d got it all wrong, Amy now realises. As we all have had it wrong. The assumption that women need to want sex to enjoy it has been a really damaging idea that has wreaked havoc in relationships for the past 40 years. But now research by Professor Rosemary Basson from the

University of
British Columbia has shown that many women do experience arousal and orgasm if they have sex without any prior desire, provided there’s a “willingness to be receptive”.“Just do it!” suggests sex therapist Michele Weiner-Davis in her best-seller The Sex Starved Marriage. She says desire is a decision – you have to make it happen. She’s reached that conclusion after years of counselling married couples experiencing tension as a result of one of them – usually the wife – not being interested in sex. She found that many reluctant lovers reported that when they did have sex, they ended up feeling good.Weiner-Davis poses the revolutionary idea that there’s no point worrying about the reasons why women aren’t interested in sex – there’ll always be plenty of them: squalling infants, stress, tiredness, irritation that he won’t help with the housework. “Knowing why you are not so interested in sex won’t boost your desire one bit. Doing something about it will,” she says.It seems many women are willing to do it. They manage the sex supply by sometimes having sex when they don’t feel like it. An internet survey by The Australian Women’s Weekly found 73% of respondents reported that they sometimes have sex when not in the mood. Half of them gave the reason, “I know I am likely to end up enjoying it”, while a third did it to keep their partners happy.Amy discovered it worked for her. “It doesn’t matter to me whether I’m desperate for sex or not, whether I want it or not. As soon as it gets started, it’s OK. I’ll enjoy it. But that took me a long time to learn.” Amy now counsels other women through her church and finds many are extremely resistant to that message. “They often haven’t had sex for years because they say they have no desire, yet they are looking for love and intimacy and closeness to come back. I explain to them that’s never going to happen unless they start having sex again. But when I tell them to just do it, they are often horrified, saying that’s like being a prostitute.” But many find their sex lives improve immensely if they can get their head around this radical rethink.That’s the funny thing. The idea of having sex without desire is now considered radical – a challenge to long-time feminist orthodoxy. “To contemporary women, the notion that sex might have any function other than personal fulfilment is a violation of the very tenets of the sexual revolution that so deeply shaped their attitudes on such matters,” comments Caitlin Flanagan in her thoughtful Atlantic Monthly essay, “No Sex Please, We’re Married”.Flanagan points out this has made life very difficult for the poor married man hoping for a bit of comfort from the wife at the day’s end. “He must somehow seduce a woman who is economically independent of him, bone-tired, philosophically disinclined to have sex unless she is jolly well in the mood, numbingly familiar with his every sexual manoeuvre and still doing a slow burn over his failure to wipe down the worktops and fold the tea-towel after cooking the children’s dinner. He can hardly be blamed for opting instead to check his emails, catch a few minutes of sport on television and call it a night.”Joan Sewell is the author of a funny and provocative new book, I’d Rather Eat Chocolate: Learning to Love my Low Libido in which she acknowledges how difficult it is for men to keep women in the Zen-like state needed for arousal. And she admits that with her it’s a lost cause. “My libido is not very strong. It’s as fickle as hell. It’s apathetic and it’s not easily aroused or easily sustained,” she writes, concluding that’s actually pretty normal for women. Sewell argues that women have naturally lower sex drives. That it’s a hormonal thing. Testosterone makes humans horny and men have lots more than women. Sewell reports feeling envy for genuinely lusty women, mentioning she met one who described herself as a juicy tomato. “If you were a vegetable, what would you be?” the woman had asked Sewell. “I don’t know, maybe a celery stalk,” she replied.But are most women really celery sticks? Certainly not, says Susan Davis,

University’s professor of women’s health and a world leader in the study of hormones affecting female drive. She’s met lots of juicy tomatoes. “Oh God, yes. I have one patient who is an academic who tells me she sometimes has to close the door of her university office so she can masturbate,” adding there are also plenty of men who have a low libido. There’s a huge variation in both genders.
Davis says very little of it is due to hormones, although much of her recent work has focused on treating women with low sexual drive by using testosterone.Testosterone is the nearest thing we have to a pink Viagra. The Pfizer company abandoned research on women using Viagra-like drugs when it discovered that even though these increased pelvic blood flow, many women didn’t notice. There’s a disconnect between what’s happening in women’s heads and between their legs. New research is directed at drugs focusing on parts of the brain directly connected with arousal and orgasm. Meanwhile, testosterone is helping boost libido in some – perhaps one in every two – but the hormonal issue is very complex: some women have low sex drive yet naturally high testosterone levels and some very juicy tomatoes show very low levels.Hormones are only part of the story. Women’s libido is simply different from men’s. Female sexual drive tends to be less robust, more easily distracted and dampened by stress, fatigue and relationship hiccups; more bound up in the desire for intimacy. As one woman once told me: “I wrap up sex in all the garbage of the day.” Male desire is comparatively resilient, urgent and less dependent on the right conditions. That’s why Joan Sewell’s husband Kip would have sex five or six times a week if he could have as much sex as he wanted, compared to her once or twice a month. “If I had a choice between reading a good book and having sex, the book wins,” Sewell confesses.But she still feels guilty about it and has tried to rev up her libido. She’s tried everything from talking to therapists, taking hormones, to talking dirty and smearing chocolate on her husband’s genitals – all to no avail. Sewell concludes the real problem is that no one is trying to lower men’s sex drives. Why don’t we hear men saying, “Doctor, my sex drive is too high. Please do something about it. I feel guilty and ashamed that I don’t want less sex. It’s killing my marriage.”Her plea prompted a response from Don Savage, widely syndicated sex advice columnist ( He comments that whenever he publishes a letter from a man who complains about not getting enough, he’s deluged by what he calls “if only” letters from women … If only she didn’t have to do all the housework, she’d want sex. If only he would talk to her about her day, she’d want sex. By proclaiming that low-libido women are normal, Sewell has done men a favour, suggests Savage: “Well now, thanks to Sewell, straight guys everywhere know that it doesn’t matter how much housework you do, or how sincerely interested you are in her day, or how much of the childcare you take on: she still won’t want to f*** you. So leave the dishes in the sink, grab a beer and go play a video game, guys. Your ‘if only’ nightmares are over.”We wish. But “if only” days aren’t over. So many men, and the occasional woman, are still trying to find the key to a welcoming lover. There’s a great story about one of those old pubs which offer a row of bedrooms above the bar, all with paper-thin walls. This night, everyone was bunkered down trying to sleep when, from one of the rooms, there were sounds of bedclothes rustling, a bed creaking and then a plaintive male voice, “Oh come on, Beryl. Come on!” Silence … and then the rustling started up again. “Berrrylll, oh come on!” So it went on until another irritated male voice called from a nearby room, “For Christ’s sake, Beryl, give it to him! Then we can all get some sleep.”That’s the consolation. This is such a familiar bedtime story with men and women everywhere struggling through the same old, same old.