In Australia – a wealthy and democratic country – we have a wealth of ‘shit’. But most of ‘it’ is invisible: the imprisoned refugees hidden in the torture prisons on Nauru and Manus islands; the homeless people of Melbourne who will soon be removed from the city’s centre; Indigenous peoples whose individuality and personhood is obscured by the tabloid spectre of blackness that links Indigeneity to alcoholism, barbarity, and violence.
Things to see/read/take part in this International Women’s Day.
However, since the early 1990s, research has shown that rather than hitting a glass ceiling, men working in the ‘female professions’ take a ride on what sociologist Christine Williams famously termed ‘the glass escalator’. In 1992, she wrote, ‘men take their gender privilege with them when they enter predominantly female occupations; this translates into an advantage in spite of their numerical rarity’.
When a parliamentary body over-represents certain segments of the population, there is a risk that legislation will reflect the interests of a small subsection of society. And when the people in greatest opposition to legislation are also those least likely to be represented in parliament, they will find themselves unable to voice their concerns within the standard forms of parliamentary proceedings. They may find no choice but to disrupt these proceedings.
In 1996, in a remarkably prescient letter to Jorge Luis Borges, penned a decade after his death, Susan Sontag hypothesised a possible future of reading: ‘Soon, we are told, we will call up on ‘bookscreens’ any ‘text’ on demand, and will be able to change its appearance, ask questions of it, ‘interact’ with it. When books become “texts” that we “interact” with according to criteria of utility, the written word will have become simply another aspect of our advertising-driven televisual reality.’