There’s an emphasis on self-empowerment within contemporary feminism which I think is hugely important. But I also think that the idea of self-empowerment can become tangled up in capitalism’s consumer culture, and social media-driven narcissism, in ways that can warp it into an aggressive individualism. The kind of thinking I’m referring to privileges the ‘right’ to do whatever one wants to do for themselves over anything resembling genuine and thoughtful care for other people.
Last week, people gathered around the Opera House in Sydney, disgusted by how politicians had allowed a World Heritage public space to be sold off to the destructive and predatory gambling industry. As the protest swelled, it was reported how ‘the whole kitchen staff from the Bennelong restaurant gathered at their windows and gave the protesters a standing ovation.’ While a worker takeover of the Opera House seems unlikely, it also seems instinctively no less fair to give them a say in how their workplace is run.
Part of what underlies this debate is that the Yes campaign for marriage equality in 2017, in its most formal organised form (under the banner The Equality Campaign), emphasised LGBTIQ equality in private family life, rather than broader public life. The campaign quite explicitly decided not to defend Safe Schools, gender diversity, or to confront the homophobia and transphobia stirred up by the No campaign.
In my academic work for the past five years, I have examined a series of refugee-themed documentaries, and audience responses to them to argue that we need to move beyond the expression of transient empathy to take responsibility for systemic change.
But the bullshit I’m interested in right now is that populating Australia’s copyright reform debates.
A great deal of this bullshit is motivated by good intentions – most notably, the desire to sustain writers’ incomes in an era of precipitous, disastrous decline.
The best that can be said about the Ramsay Centre’s proposal to sponsor an elite course in Western civilisation is that it has revived a flagging discussion about the intellectual and political considerations that shape the humanities curricula of Australian universities.
When news broke of Gough Whitlam’s death in October 2014, the Greens were quick to respond with a tribute message, proclaiming, ‘we are proud to be the party that takes up where Gough Whitlam left off.’
It started quite innocently, as these social media collisions always do. A friend and I were discussing on Twitter Ed Whelan’s bizarre conspiracy theory in defence of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, remarking – as many people have – that it was reminiscent of Eric Garland’s infamous 120-tweet long ‘game theory’ thread of late 2016.
To have endometriosis is to lose your job, friends, partners, independence. To have endometriosis is debilitating – and can be just as severe as some of the illnesses already in the public consciousness (multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy). To have endometriosis is to lose hope in a future for yourself.
Anupama Pilbrow’s debut collection opens with ‘The Body Poem’, which details a forbidden affair between a lover and ‘the body’. The lover is enamoured by ‘the body’, the lover accepts ‘the body’ and even appreciates ‘the sound it makes like / jangling keys’. The subject of the poem is never degraded, used or objectified. Pilbrow instead wraps ‘the body’ in a protective ‘gauze’ (instead of gaze?) which ‘sways in the breeze’.
We’re halfway through cooking dinner on a rainy Sunday when the message comes through. ‘Can we book for tonight?’ My husband, Ryan, and I look to one another with a sigh. ‘Sure’, I type back, telling myself the extra income will be worth it. We race downstairs and remake beds. We wipe surfaces and search for a pillowcase that doesn’t bear the stain of makeup from previous guests. We wash mugs and scrub the toilet. Vacuum stray dog hairs off the carpet.
Their status as apex predator, coupled with humanity’s inability to tame or truly understand the ocean, inspires in us a kind of primal terror, an obsession well reflected in reportage and documentary. Every time they resurface in the news, the media are whipped into a frenzy, circling the story like, well, sharks.
As critics have pointed out, the social media ‘movement’ #MeToo hasn’t really moved much since October last year. Global conversations on sexual assault notwithstanding, we’re stuck with personal narratives, an emphasis on high-profile individuals, and little by way of a broad, institutional challenge to coalesce around. Despite this, it’s hard not to think that we might be in the midst of a generative time for new, critical insights on sexual violence.
On a warm Thursday evening in early September, a community meeting about the New South Wales Government’s proposal to establish a new, long-awaited marine park in and around Sydney was held at Fishing Station in Mona Vale, on the city’s northern beaches. Around three hundred local fishers crowded in to voice their anger, bodies spilling out of the tackle shop’s doorway and into the carpark. To them, the marine park was a ‘lockout’.
Australian letters is like a microcosm of Australia itself: culturally diverse, politically varied across different states, tense and conflicted or humorous or affecting in turn. If there is one thing we may say about our literatures it is that there is a common thread of darkness underneath. Whether that thread references an unvoiced violence or subsumed toxic masculinities, or a wilfully forgotten colonial past, it is traceable in much of our writing, especially in the short story form.
‘It all starts with learning how to read, to write, to count and to think in the national language. That doesn’t mean there isn’t an important role for culture in remote schools but nevertheless people need a decent education in the national language.’
In Victorian times, the pauper funeral signalled abject poverty and low morality and in order to avoid this stigma, many working-class people made great sacrifices to pay regular and relatively significant amounts to burial clubs. What lingers today is the common misconception that overspending on funerals has a direct correlation to dignity.
Free speech no longer emerges, in the words of Jacques Rancière, in a time and in a place you’re not supposed to speak, exercised by those who aren’t allowed to speak. Free speech is now a weapon in the right’s arsenal: by invoking free speech, they simultaneously bludgeon an ‘intolerant’ left who dare disagree with them.
After its absence in 2016, the biennial Melbourne Art Fair (M.A.F.) returned this year, spread across two venues in the Southbank Arts Precinct: Riding Hall, the newly refurbished stables at VCA, and Vault Hall, a bloody great tent erected on the ACCA Forecourt. M.A.F. saw forty galleries display works by the brightest and best in their respective stables, demonstrating the strength of the current Australian contemporary art scene to those who filed through.