A few weeks ago, Radio National’s Life Matters featured a discussion on the latest refugee crisis, with a focus on the emotional response evoked by the photograph of the drowned Syrian toddler, Aylan Kurdi. While a couple of panellists – and most callers – called for an empathetic response that extended beyond politics, one of the interviewees, sociologist Klaus Neumann, suggested that an emotional reaction is likely to be fleeting, and that we need to go deeper.
I live in the US now, and watch with a growing sense of fear and horror as women’s rights to reproductive care are gradually, methodically, stripped away by the states. Abortion clinics are closed; women are made to wait unreasonable periods of time and travel impossible distances; women in some states are forced to undergo an ultrasound before they can get an abortion, which is not very different from being raped with a thing they euphemistically call a wand, with its magic powers of showing you your own insides.
After reading the entries blind, the judges have selected a shortlist of eight outstanding stories. The winning story will receive a $4000 first prize and be published on the label of a bottle of Story Wine, as well as in Overland’s print magazine. Two runners-up will each receive $500 and be published at Overland online, and on the labels of different Story Wines vintages. Winners will be announced next week.
This rush to reclaim and reposition national ‘values’ and ‘culture’ is peculiarly context free. Such statements create the strategic impression of action and leadership, but also conveniently skate over deeper cultural and political issues of how vulnerability to violence is compounded by intersections of social class, race and ethnicity. By invoking the often-repeated claim that domestic violence transcends all social class boundaries, neoliberal politicians effectively avoid responsibility for creating a ‘lean and mean’ policy environment that makes some women more vulnerable to abuse.
Kanye West’s speech at the 2015 MTV Video Music Awards was lengthy, meandering and scattered, at best. At times he was humble, particularly as he stumbled through an expression of nuanced regret over his infamous interruption of Taylor Swift. Invariably, however, he swung back to the heightened dignity that he is so well-known and oft criticised for. There were glimpses of profundity, though often followed by the address ‘bro!’ perhaps scuttling the likelihood of some viewers to take his comments seriously.
Despite, or perhaps because of all this, I don’t think anyone saw that bombshell coming.