I flew to Hobart to pay my respects to an ecosystem already long gone. Tasmania’s giant kelp forests, Macrocystis pyrifera, once fringed the eastern coast. Each languid frond of these once-towering marine metropoles harboured multitudes of fish, invertebrates, plankton and algaes. But giant kelp forests are fragile. As of 2017, only five percent of the original Tasmanian kelp forests remained. For the Aboriginal community in Tasmania, the sea is women’s business, and so their relationship with the kelp forests is strong.
In Amanda Lohrey’s ‘Primates’, the first story in the collection Reading Madame Bovary, the unnamed corporation for which the first-person narrator works is undergoing a dreaded ‘restructure’. Her manager, Winton, is attempting to introduce Theory Z, the Japanese business equivalent of a Danish lifestyle trend. It promises to get rid of ‘hierarchies’ and bureaucracies’ in favour of a ‘clan’ mentality with ‘a high state of consistency in their internal culture’.
In the late 1970s in New Zealand, a group of young people in their twenties left their middle-class lives and got working-class jobs, joined working-class unions and lived in working-class communities. Why? They were activists and communists and they wanted to bring radical politics to the working class, to shift their focus from the university campus to the industrial workplace.
‘We applaud the Sri Lankan Government’s devotion to human rights and their devotion to democratic pluralism,’ Abbott said flatly, after touching down in Sri Lanka. Just days before, the BBC had released the culmination of four years of research: an hour-long report on the human rights nightmare that was the final push of the Sri Lankan Civil War. As a result, even close allies felt compelled to condemn Sri Lanka’s human rights record. That is, except for us.
An increasingly common experience is the ‘phantom lecture’. This is when surplus students can’t fit into the main lecture theatre and are told to go to a second theatre where they’ll find the main lecture streamed onto a screen. Except, that is, in the first week of this semester, when the university forgot to hire someone to set up the stream in the second lecture theatres and students were left staring at a blank screen.
As queers with a stake in this party – and its proud history of protest – we consider the Liberal and Labor Party floats unauthorised arrivals at Mardi Gras; they’re dangerous vote-seekers jumping the queue, and they’re threatening to terrorise the values that we hold dear. So we handed out flyers with a grave warning, ‘The risk is real and growing. Illegal floats are stealing your blow jobs.’
I was struck not only by the stories that were presented on the night, but also by those that weren’t – so often our community is considered to be a monolith of identity and of opinion, when in fact even this small slice of life showed our deep and beautiful diversity.
The glitzy extravaganza that parades down Oxford Street each year began with an impromptu celebration organised by the Gay Solidarity Group. Hundreds of people walked down Oxford street, shouting ‘Out of the bars and into the streets!’. They were met in Kings Cross by police, bashed, and thrown into paddy wagons.
‘[I]n evaluating any given person,’ Allen Frances writes in his book Saving Normal, ‘we lack a general definition of mental disorder to help us decide whether he is normal or a patient, mad or bad.’ The admittedly porous, but nonetheless vitally important line between mental illness and mental health has been one of the threads in my academic work for the last couple of years, so it is with growing wariness and frustration that I have been watching the debate on Donald Trump’s mental health play out.
It’s difficult to believe that Australia used to be such a country – a place where, in 1979, the Sydney Morning Herald editorialised against a Labor proposal for temporary camps for boat arrivals on the basis that such camps would discriminate between refugees who only managed to reach South-East Asia, and those who had the ‘perseverance and courage’ to make it all the way here.
It takes years for me to notice myself doing it whenever I’m with her – the scanning of crowds, the haughty expression on my face, the way I shadow her every step, putting myself between her and other people as often as possible. It’s not just me, either – my sisters and brother are similarly protective of my mother. Where does this defensive stance come from? My mother is not a well-known public figure, nor is she a person given to triggering controversy.
Clive Hamilton, well known for his books on global warming, has tackled a different topic in Silent Invasion: China’s influence in Australia. He claims that China’s Communist Party has gained so much influence in Australia that it’s ‘taking over’. The book is worth reading for one reason at least: the light that it sheds on the beliefs, goals and methods of John Hu’s ‘Australian Values Alliance’.
Women get lost in Hollywood for a range of reasons. There are the suicides, the murders, the accidents, the ‘mysterious deaths’. Jayne Mansfield – who died in a car crash in New Orleans in 1967 at the age of thirty-four – opens up another avenue for thinking through this idea of loss. There is something eternally fascinating in a tabloid way about Mansfield – the (supposedly) ‘dumb blonde’ who dabbled in Satanism.
In recent years United Voice, the Australian Education Union, and the Independent Education Union have run equal pay campaigns, fighting for wage increases for qualified early childhood workers – 97 per cent of whom are women – who earn as little as twenty-one dollars an hour. On 6 February, the Equal Remuneration Order application was rejected. Five years of bureaucracy has us back at square one.
While it is a popular assumption that millennials have
developed an over-inflated sense of ego thanks to their digital technologies, today’s brand of narcissism is radically different and detached from that of the 1980s yuppie narcissism familiar in books such as Bret Easton Ellis’ American Psycho and films such as Wall Street, which turned 30 in December.
Yet the ability to mass-process information is not indicative of imagination. Even if lexes are computer generated, they can only be supplementary to creative thought. Wordsmith can produce statistically correct, data-heavy articles, but its prose is not inspired
Cameras and IKEA renovations aside, it gives us the impression that we are witnessing something real, vital and transformative. Queer Eye is a display of empathy and empowerment. A focus on personal growth and confidence in the revamped version of a reality stalwart shows the potential for complexity within the genre.
An increase in leisure time – once a central goal of the labour movement – is sorely needed in western societies. In Australia, working hours for full-time employees increased throughout the 1980s and 1990s, and have only declined slightly since, despite significant increases in productivity. To add insult to injury, workers’ real wages in Australia are no longer rising in line with increased output.