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Women

Can a man write about a situation that concerns women in our society? I guess we are about to find out. The photo used to illustrate this article was chosen because it well represents, in my eyes, the amount of grit that is thrown the way of women … so on with the article.

I was simply having a chat with a female friend the other day, shooting the breeze, deciding whether to have fish and chips for lunch or not, and the subject of the treatment of women came up. Without any conscious pre-thought I blurted out that the treatment of women in modern Australia is toxic.

That kind of stopped me dead in my tracks for a bit. Gave me pause for thought. I suspect that my female friend was not all all surprised by the content of what I said, but where on earth did my statement come from? What was I basing such an assertion on? It all made me ponder a bit more over the fish and chips.

As a man self-raised in my younger years on at least some of the principles espoused by people like Gloria Steinem and Betty Friedan, even if I didn’t fully understand everything that they were saying at the time … I thought that things were on the rise for women in our society.

I admired the fact that women were standing up and out there with courage and saying that they had had enough of the inequality bullshit that they had endured since the day dot, and it opened my eyes to how pervading that bullshit actually was.

But all of that was back then, over almost half a century ago. And as I look around today I seriously question whether anything that has locked-in and enduring value has changed for women at all. Maybe I’m wrong with that but I’m flat out finding any evidence to convince me otherwise.

It is very easy as a man, who has fortuitously been surrounded by independent women throughout most of his adult life, to be so easily deluded into thinking that the fight for equality has gained and advanced across firm and non-regressive ground.

Nothing that I am about to say has not been said before, or said better before. Maybe many women and men have said these things so many times before it is not funny. Well, I’m quite happy to jump in and say it all again, and proffer an opinion.

No man alive has any sort of unique insight into the workings of a female human being, or into how a woman feels. But none of that should stop a man from being an effective acquaintance, friend, partner, listener, boss, random man met in the street, or even leader of a nation.

Lacking such insight does not stop many of us men from being those very positive things, good friends and partners etc. Yet sometimes other men choose another path to that and they choose to add-on and express and realise a brutal exhibition of violence towards women.

Women have no unique insight to the workings of a man either you have to, or may possibly like to, admit, and allowing for the occasional example to the contrary women generally appear to be more effective at fostering cordial inter-relationship from the personal through to the societal level. I don’t know why that is, to me it simply appears to be so.

If anybody reckons that they do have unique insights into the opposite gender then I reckon that they’d be a unique example of a unique first. It would be a wonderful gift to have.

It all leads me to the hard questions. All of this happens elsewhere, but I am talking about Australia.

Who denies equal pay to some women?
Who denies equality of representation to women in the workplace, and in places like our Parliaments?
Which gender voice swamps our national airwaves?
Which gender tells another to ram a sock down their throat?
Which gender tells an individual of the other that their social campaigning against violence towards women is unfair to men?
Who fears, and in some cases, hates women?
Who beats up, terrorises, rapes, and continually objectifies women?
Who follows women into parks at night and kills them?
Who, on average, kills one Australian woman each and every week of each and every year of each and every decade?

The answer is some men. Not all men by any means. Some men.

So what can the rest of us men do? Apart from wearing pretty ribbons of solidarity on our shirts or suit labels what can we do about it?

Maybe, we could stop preaching at women with such lines as … don’t walk around alone looking like a victim because you will be seen as same and predated upon. Really? Strong independent women with no carried sense of the victim about them are just as regularly killed.

In the past I’ve been guilty of waffling such silly preaching sorts of lines, but luckily my female friends didn’t disown me, they simply threw a bit of short sharp re-education my way. I’m glad they did, true friends and all that.

Perhaps a better response is to ask ourselves as men how can we contribute to a change in society that ensures that women can walk around alone in safety. We could also ask a woman that question and keep our ears open to hear the answer.

We could ensure that our legislators, and more importantly ourselves, call out domestic violence for the act of criminality and terrorism that it is. If the rate of female deaths in Australia due to domestic violence were down to the actions of a non-state rogue terrorist group then the full resources of the nation would be utilised to end it.

Excuse me for being so blunt about it, but the relatives of the women who have been killed have every right to ask why did you not utilise the full resources of this nation to end the horror that they experienced, the horror that ultimately took their lives? That is, and remains, the most plaintive and fair of questions.

I cannot help but think that we do not yet even closely have enough female representation at any level in our society where decisions about the realities of female inequality or violence towards women are seriously attended to, or rectified.

As an example at the most simplest of levels: equality of pay: payroll systems are automated and computerised, so to harmonise pay rates between the genders in the commercial work sphere … all it would take is the pressing of a few keyboard buttons. Who is stopping such a simple pressing of those buttons from happening? Why is all the hot air and dialogue on that issue still circulating about, after all these decades, without any concrete action occurring? How can the CEOs of private companies, and the owners of medium to small businesses, justify their inaction?

What is the thing in our society that we refuse to glare at and engage full on with? I don’t think it can be said any other way … it is the all pervasiveness and continued existence of the Doctrine of Male Dominance. After all the years of effort it has not been de-constructed.

Too many men, either through their fear of change, or their apathy towards change, or their outright support and fostering of The Doctrine, actively contribute towards its still present dominance over the workings of our society. It is a Doctrine that continues to kill women.

Life itself has led me to the following view of things, and as wobbly and as full of lessons and the re-learning of forgotten lessons as my weave through life and its experiences has been, there is no place for inequality or violence in that view.

As an over-arching statement … there is no place for inequality and violence in the world of men and men, or in the world of women and women, but it concerns me that there is still such a predominant amount of inequality and violence in the world that exists between men and women here in Australia. It is going to take all our combined efforts to stop it.

I don’t think that women are better than men, or that men are better than women. We are all here on a great planet, the only one we currently have until we get to Mars, and our genders swirl around each other with our intriguing differences continually interacting in a dance of unpredictable and joyous possibility.

Why would anybody want to hurt, or be allowed to hurt, an opposite gender who equally contributes to creating something as precious as the minutiae of that wonderful dance?

I, as a man, and my female friends, as women, might all be old invisible farts to the rest of society, we might well be seen as the dated children of the Age of Aquarius who never quite managed to achieve the lofty goals of gender fairness that we strived for way back then. But guess what? We are still here, and we are still striving for something that should not be elusive at all … equality, and an end to violence against women in our society!

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62 comments

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  1. David Bruce

    In my experience, men who tend to be violent to women can also be violent to other men. Maybe it started as a bed wetting problem which was handled badly, or something more severe. I have noticed it happened more when alcohol and/or drugs are involved.

    I don’t know about all other men, I just happen to enjoy the company of intelligent women.

  2. Phil

    Yes men can be violent. No more evidence is required than to send them off to war. Committing violence has all types of degrees. Is the pilot who drops his bombs from 30000 feet not knowing or seeing the casualties and death he is about to inflict on the people below he doesn’t know or who has ever met, any different than a pub fight over a game of eight ball? I don’t know? The pilot is treated like Royalty and the dude who had a pub brawl who may have been the victim, is a yobbo, It is a conundrum.

    Many years ago I was in the K Mart with my wife it was a huge sale and the Q’s were the length of the shop. I noticed a man, the said man kept shoving his shopping trolley into a pregnant women’s back. After observing this for a few minutes and men being closer to her than I were just letting it happen. I decided to introduce the gentleman into a shelf containing cans of beans. It was captured on the stores video system. I consequently got my goodies free gratis from the manager. Um violence an innate trait in all of us me thinks. Btw no, I have never hit my wife of nearly fifty years.

  3. Andrew Smith

    PM Morrison today claimed that Get Up was mysogynist, another example of projection and double speak, suggesting the same does not exist in the LNP nor wider society?

  4. Josephus

    Some women are tough and martial , eg Boudicca; there are others if you think about it. Might be early conditioning that makes some women soft and sweet? Anyway, just re read the racist poison written by Europeans wherever they invaded and up to the 1950s, with some throw backs aping them today , to realise that neither are there races, nor morality or intelligence monopolies, nor stable genders but only a continuum in all cases.

    One slight possible afterthought re women: as labour is a painful business, might that incline female mammals to accord slightly more respect for life, human or animal ? Even that is not absolute, though, given that sometimes the father carries the eggs!

    Morrison’s thought bubbles are so sad, so embarrassing. His grin at the Pacific meeting was cringeworthy- you may smile and smile and be a villain…. no not a villain, only a charlatan.

  5. wam

    I married a person who is
    the most superior:
    educator from the classroom to the principal’s office I have ever seen or worked under
    alderman local government president,and vice president of federal committees under lloyd, albo and because she was so good only down graded to vice under the rabbott. She was sought after by the ceo boys from the arrival of the moresby mafia. She was mentally and physically exhausted in the senior junior split and given a scholarship to london to keep her out of the politics(she uncovered fact on dicken in relation to mechanics institutes) and a myriad of other things like motherhood, marriage counselling
    She, unlike her dull husband, considers your words as mostly drivel not all but most..
    I take your
    The answer is . Not all men by any means. Some men.
    The answer is most men and some women Not all men nor all women by any means. But some women and men.

    here I’ve been a port adelaide man for 8 decades. Yet tonight I switched to watch cinderella and I ?still ended in tears.

    dear, kaye crow and the other greens
    which climate is changing the quickest due to global warming?
    Csa · Csb · Csc · Cwa · Cwb · Cwc · Cfa · Cfb · Cfc · Dsa · Dsb · Dsc · Dsd · Dwa · Dwb · Dwc · Dwd · Dfa · Dfb · Dfc · Dfd · ET · EF.

  6. Miriam English

    I like your article, Keith. As a kind of reply, here is a short piece I wrote a while ago. I think a lot of violence against women is from a toxic distortion of masculinity that hurts both men and women.

    Note to straight males: queers increase your freedom

    While women have been becoming more free (with still a fair way to go), men seem to be becoming less so. Men appear to hold all society’s power, but their actions are more circumscribed than they were a short time ago. For a while it was becoming almost unremarkable for males to have long hair and wear makeup back in the 1970s and 1980s. Remember David Bowie, Mark Bolan/T-Rex, Sweet, and others?

    Sadly, those reforms were cut short by the appearance of AIDS and the religious conservatives’ unscrupulous use of propaganda to vilify gays (even though, worldwide, AIDS is predominantly a disease of religious straight people). As a result, a lot of those earlier, tentative freedoms have since been lost, and I wonder if the alarmingly high rate of youth suicide among males in developed nations nowadays is related to their burden of increased expectations while being bound into absurdly inflexible masculine roles.

    A person who doesn’t have physical chains, yet is bound tightly by senseless and arbitrary social constraints is still not free. This is made even worse when they are deceived into thinking that they love those bonds, as is sadly so with many males.

    I’ve heard it said that dissent is proof that you are free, but I think it’s more subtle than that. I think it actually makes everybody free, because the existence and acknowledgement of a broad range of options is what gives you freedom. Freedom can’t exist without choice.

    If, we consider queer rights and issues of dress, gender, and sexuality then the conclusions are a little startling: straight people gain their freedom through queer folk. Straight people are made more free if they allow gay, bisexual, trans, and other “queer” behaviors. The moment they curtail them by force or social disapproval then they themselves are no longer free. And I’m not just talking about some abstract concept here. I’m talking about concrete, everyday freedoms. Straight men can have long hair and fingernails, have a far wider range of dress options available to them, can be nurturing and gentle, slender, graceful and beautiful, and enjoy touch — all things which are largely denied them in today’s straight society. They need not necessarily adopt the extremes, but would be able to be comfortable occupying a far wider range of positions in the landscape of possibilities. Currently males are expected to fit a very restricted and rigid mold — a perverse caricature of masculinity. Any deviation from expectations is flagged as suspicious and opens people to ridicule, condemnation, or even violence. Integration of queers into society would remove much of this restriction on straights, and the enormous stress that accompanies it. It would make straights freer, happier, and less fearful as well as allowing queers to be more productive members of society. Everybody would benefit.

    I’ve been focusing particularly on men because the greater freedom for women has already been of great benefit to us all. Straight women can now wear jeans, cut their hair short, and spurn makeup with little social downside. They now succeed in school in areas that were the sole province of males (while males are now doing badly). I think the relative acceptance of lesbians has helped. I can easily name perhaps a dozen or more lesbian celebrities off the top of my head, but have difficulty thinking of more than a few gay males in the public spotlight. Males need more help from people who can redefine their boundaries, free them up, and re-balance society.

    And there are some commercial and intellectual benefits of diversity too:

    Richard Florida is an economist who noticed that the economy benefits much more from gays and “bohemians” than from tax concessions and sports stadiums. His book “The Creative Class” is, in part, about this.

    James Surowieki, in his book “The Wisdom of Crowds”, shows how diversity makes crowds smarter — often smarter than the most intelligent person in that crowd. Uniformity makes crowds stupid and crazy, and is what powers lynch mobs and witchhunts. Adding to human variety makes our society smarter and more capable.

    This idiotic hostility to those who are different is dangerous and restricts everybody’s freedom. Whereas allowing diversity adds freedom, enhances culture, makes good economic sense, and improves our society.

  7. RosemaryJ36

    Until early in the 19th century, apart from governesses and maids, few women in urban areas worked outside the home. They worked at home, most of them doing all the housework, child-bearing and -rearing and were often not even handling money.
    In other words, their skills and their hard work were totally under-valued.
    What has really changed?
    Superficially a few things, but more women than men work in the vitally important ‘caring’ jobs which tend to be less well paid than manual labour jobs for men.
    Even when setting a working wage was established, it was based on the fact that a man had a non-working wife and 2 school-age children.

  8. wam

    I love reading your work, miriam but it always leaves me feeling stupid that I have missed something.
    Women all over the world undertook enormously hard and skilful work when the men were at war and then quietly succumbed to redundancy and soon they and their exploits were forgotten. As a young boy I can remember dancing the barn dance with these widows. Invariably large, soft and sad but so light on their feet.

    Girls were in front of boys at high school in every subject at every level but we boys were never allowed to see, hear or read it.
    My big sister with her coke bottle glasses, red hair, amorphous in her head prefect school uniform and her brains. Led her.down a narrow path. She is still there.

    I am frightened of crowds and am still wary of xmas and family gatherings where I usually sit in the corner or outside.but always fringe sailing.

    The training to conformity is a safety human preservation mechanism which maintains groups and religions.

  9. RosemaryJ36

    Wan – we are each unique but some groups have a lot in common.

  10. Keith Davis

    Miriam: I enjoyed your article, as I did your comments re AI. Dissent, whether of the cognitive or placard waving style, is a wonderful thing. When we step outside the restrictive box that we place ourselves in, as long as we do it in such a way that is non-hurtful to others or self, the feeling of freedom is palpable. I keep chipping away at the box and the bubble I live in.

    Wam: ……. your comments are always worth responding to (I don’t always because I can be as slack as anybody else timewise)

    You’ve made my day. The comment ‘She, unlike her dull husband, considers your words as mostly drivel not all but most.’ gives me hope. Years ago when I published a freebie alternative tabloid newspaper I ran on the 80/20 rule. If you got a 20% hit or response rate to either articles or ads then you were doing as good as anybody else in the trade was doing. So the ‘not all’ bit of the comment is what lights my fire. As a writer or opinion sayer you cannot expect anybody to agree 100% with what you say, to hope for that will always end up in disappointment. My view is that if only one sentence in an entire article genuinely resonates with another human being and encourages them to think about an issue in a different way, then it is the writing of that single sentence that is the thing that has value.

    Your comment ‘I am frightened of crowds and am still wary of xmas and family gatherings where I usually sit in the corner or outside.but always fringe sailing.’ resonates strongly with me. Given my background, and life as a Survivor, I understand each and every single one of those words. That single sentence of yours had value for me.

  11. New England Cocky

    Nice article KTD. Patriarchy is a European phenomenon and also in many Asian societies. Perhaps you will be happy in a Polynesian society that is traditionally matriarchal.

  12. Kaye Lee

    Keith,

    In 1975, the first International Women’s year, my school entered me in the Lion’s Club Youth of the Year quest. I won the public speaking section with a speech about how, whilst it was generous of them to allow girls to compete, the fact that the highest placed male would be the person to go on and represent our area at the state finals was inexplicably sexist. The headline in the local paper was “Schoolgirl pours scorn on sex bias”. Here I am 44 years later, an old lady still pouring scorn on the inequality in our society. Luckily, the men in my life have been wonderful caring people who I respect greatly. Violent men are the minority but they are a toxic minority who cause great harm.

  13. Joseph Carli

    I for one say let us be thankful the “gentler sex” has been spared over the preceding millenium the training to arms that has encouraged the brutality of their men-folk….for it can be read in the annals of human misery that the hand of kindness is also attached to the arm of cruelty…and when both the genders become equal in capacity of rule, would it not eventuality equate in a equality of capacity to be cruel…and is it not the rule of business acumen that behind every succesful man, there is the shadow of a woman?…and taking THAT bold truth to the next level, can we not presume on the recorded data that then behind every brutal regime there…is the shadow of the women?
    While I hold an imagery of women to be the scion of the best of humanity, I would never insult her capabilities and desires to hold her aloft in a hagiographic adoration…The lady has her needs..grant her at least her desires!

    ” When you’re wounded and left on Afghanistan’s plains,
    And the women come out to cut up what remains,
    Jest roll to your rifle and blow out your brains
    An’ go to your Gawd like a soldier.”

    (I take it we are sophisticated enough to be aware of, but modest enough to omit the name of just WHAT it was that the women were “coming out to cut up”…..?)

    But say….let us not rosily blush like innocent youth, at what we, of a certain age, are now so familiar with.

  14. Kaye Lee

    Perhaps if we had more women in charge we could come up with better ways of running the show than “training to arms”.

    Perhaps those women in Afghanistan were sick of being raped by successive invading forces.

    Perhaps, rather than viewing women as “shadows behind successful men”, we could make that quantum leap to realising that we are a team who need to work together for individuals to reach their potential based on their interests, aptitudes, and skills rather than some gender-based societal preconception.

    We don’t need your adoration, or for you to “grant our desires” – just your respect and a level playing field that provides choice, opportunity, and safety from violence.

  15. Joseph Carli

    Kaye Lee…much as you portray a desire for an equivalence of leadership in all things gender, there will always be, due to the sexual tension between, at least heterosexuals, a certain “argy-bargy” swinging of powers at any moment…and I might make the observation over many years that YOURSELF, in so much pleading of that “equality of the playing field”, holds a gross imbalance of opinion pieces regarding YOUR opinions on just WHO ought to have that respect…so not withstanding bias equivalence . . .

    And I can make a passing observation that in the stakes of dominance, while we males have this bastard group of what are called “Alpha Males” giving the gender such a bad name with their self-opionated hegemony over gender behaviour, we also have a certain amount (if not yet equal) of “Alpha Females” who would like to dominate their gender and steer them in equal viciousness alongside and in competition with their male counterparts.

    I have written several such unappreciated pieces on the subject and will not make the error of anymore presuming on the naieve interpretations of those who would claim to be better informed but who are so quick to jump to conclusions..

    And as for the “granting of desires”…perhaps this is not relevent to one such as yourself, but memory and experience serves me to notice the many fine and delicious subtleties that are enacted in dress, make-up and sultry demeanour of those ladies who venture out to the night-clubs of the inner city in search of quarry..a “quarry” I might add that is all of an itch and a scratch to be ready for the beautiful, simpering and lustful glances caught over the rim of a “Blue Lagoon” cocktail…(Am I showing my age?)

    Go in (one) piece….

  16. wam

    You are on the ‘balls’ so to speak, Joseph.
    It is no coincidence that the religious cuts are to enhance the pleasure for men and destroy the pleasure for women?

    As a pale and wan troll,:
    I believe the white green and purple would now have enough men to succeed in dumbing down women to parity but not enough women. Until they do, society will continue to be ruled by non-unique men for men and their women.

    To paraphrase a pig, Rosebary three dozen, all men are unique some men are more unique than others in their designation of your gender, Aborigines, welfare recipients, loonies, muslims as being solid, one size fits all, non-unique groups?(oops did I leave labor out? Well I am human after all and everybody else does?)

  17. Joseph Carli

    Perhaps I am mistaken in my memory on this one, but I can recall the modern woman’s removing of the glace’d cherry with gloss’d lips from the toothpick taken from such a cocktail can be considered a work of erotic art as skilled as any old master of portrait painting or act of a favoured courtesan….

    And wam….trust YOU to bring dull politics in when the discussion is just getting juicy!

  18. Kaye Lee

    “there will always be, due to the sexual tension between, at least heterosexuals, a certain “argy-bargy” swinging of powers at any moment”

    Oh geeze Jospeh. How about you leave your sexual tension at home and let women do their jobs and go about their daily lives without constantly feeling like they are being ogled as sexual fantasies.

  19. Joseph Carli

    O geeze, Kaye…How about this : With the overpopulation and rising in the world, you haven’t worked out that sexual fantasies IS THE major consideration of the majority of (hetero) people in the world…

    Just consult Tinder..

  20. Joseph Carli

    I have often wished for and certainly been envious of those males who possess .. sometimes undeservedly … a deep bass-baritone voice .. for I am certain that such vocal harmonies hummed in such a low masculine tone are an almost irresistible initial attraction to the female of the species. My partner’s son has such a voice .. even from a young age, and some of her female friends have confessed to keeping him on the phone with contrived enquiries when ringing her up just to hear his voice … and I don’t wonder that Sean Connery’s : “James Bond” had Miss Moneypenny obliging his every stationary request with her stenographic skills … I just wish!

    Yes .. I worry about you ladies .. For I wonder if all this astute attention to small details you do in walk, talk, dress and style is appropriately appreciated .. NOT that it is only directed AT or FOR that section of the male fraternity, whose unfathomable and deluded vanity seems to heed not the wise sayings of the sages of old … : “A house without a woman is like a lantern without light.” So they proceed stumbling blind to all womanly companionship and delight, into the lonely darkness with neither clue nor idea of direction nor destination … I weep for them .. : “Perfume of embraces all him assailed, with hungered flesh obscurely, he mutely craved to adore.”

    But what I most worry about is that there is a confederacy of people .. mostly middle-class idealists and zealots who wish to take control of any conversation about the relationship between women and men and steer it away from mutual affection or admiration .. the resulting pathos that one sees on the evening tele or reads about on the Twitter stream of lonely men and women searching for “Mr/Ms Goodbar” at such a, perhaps too late, stage of their lives gives ample evidence to a mistaken vanity of total independence from the web of others in our society…

  21. Kaye Lee

    Of all articles to spout this stuff Joseph…..you just don’t get it do you.

    Let me try to explain….

    I am sure you are a very honourable man who would never force his attentions on a woman….

    You just like to ogle and fantasise.
    The next guy thinks it’s a compliment when he tells a woman she has nice tits.
    The next guy thinks that a girl wearing shorts is asking to be groped.
    The next guy thinks a kiss is just showing he likes you.
    The next guy exposes himself to you because that excites him.
    The next guy grabs you as you are walking home…..

    I cannot tell you how offensive I find it when you so often compare women to ripe fruit.

    On the overpopulation thing, you will find that if you educate and empower women then they have less children. Perhaps they fantasise more about having a life than a penis inside them.

  22. Kaye Lee

    We are a product of our experiences Joseph. A male colleague once asked me if I ever fantasised about workmates. I had to share an office with this guy. He hadn’t hurt me, I wasn’t afraid he would, and I shut down the conversation in no uncertain way. But I never felt comfortable again. It didn’t excite me…..it made my flesh crawl.

    But you probably wouldn’t understand that.

    I don’t think our conversation is productive Joseph.

    Sorry Keith.

  23. Joseph Carli

    Hello!..Hello!!……is there a doctor in the house!!??

  24. Michael Taylor

    Women, in my opinion, are our equal. I therefore believe they deserve the same opportunities as men do.

  25. Michael Taylor

    “Is there a doctor in the house”.

    That’s a bit demeaning, Joe, and not necessary.

  26. Joseph Carli

    Aww..come on , Michael…I started my commentary as an honest and serious attempt to see the “gender issue” as mutually satisfying enterprise…but Kaye would have us see ALL single men as lascivious, salivating beasts marauding around work and the suburbs like feverish, sexually insatiable animals!!….while we ALL know that sort of lifestyle ended in our twenties!…Now it would seem that all us old men are left with is the hope of chemical castration and the confiscation of those “X-Ray glasses” we sent away for with the coupon from the back of those “Pix” magazines back in the fifties!
    As I pleaded…: “Is there a doctor in the house!!??”

  27. Kaye Lee

    “Kaye would have us see ALL single men as lascivious, salivating beasts marauding around work and the suburbs like feverish, sexually insatiable animals!!”

    BULLSHIT!!

    That seems to be YOUR view of men, not mine.

    How about saving your sexual tension for your partner.

  28. Vikingduk

    Kaye, your comment at 10.33 am, and all subsequent comments, I’ll definitely drink to that. Simple, isn’t it? Different colour, different religion, different sex, so what, all the same, humans deserving of respect or not for who they are as humans. Hey joe, is that a gun in your pocket or you just off for a wank?

  29. Phil

    ‘ Women, in my opinion, are our equal. I therefore believe they deserve the same opportunities as men do.’

    True. Absolutely.

    Maggie Thatcher showed how equal she was when she ordered the sinking of the Belgrano the Argentinian war ship with the loss of 323 souls. The destruction of the mining industry and her other decisions, that ruined the lives of thousands. The weaker sex, I don’t think so. One of the greatest gladiators to show up at the forum was a women. What women lack in the physical differences with men, they certainly make up for in guile and cunning. It was a brave man to insult my Grandmother who was Irish. She would sit you on your arse whilst dunking her biscuits in her Earl Grey. Come to think of it my mum her daughter could throw a good left hook.

  30. Kaye Lee

    “humans deserving of respect or not for who they are as humans”

    I read somewhere (I think it may have been an Aboriginal perspective) that one should approach all people with respect – it is then theirs to lose rather than earn.

  31. Vikingduk

    Sounds fare to me, Kaye Lee, too many times have l approached strangers with a judgmental attitude, the result, usually, is me remembering don’t judge the book by the cover. The same, I think, as disrespecting the different. We are all lost humans, degraded, polluted and, generally, completely fucked over by our “betters”. We all/most need an attitude readjustment, a check up from the neck up.

  32. Miriam English

    I was astounded and could hardly believe what Joseph thought he was doing, talking about women the way he did in a comment to Keith’s excellent article. It was surprising that he had so little self-awareness and was so tactless as to insult Kaye for showing the very qualities women and girls need to withstand the pressure of toxic masculinity.

    Joseph, if you’re reading this, don’t mistake my comments as dismissing old-world gentlemanly views, or denigrating qualities generally associated with femininity. As you know, I love women and adore their sensuality and softness, but for me it is all about an equal footing. I don’t wear dresses or makeup, but my partners often have. I’m stronger and taller than any of my partners, but I wouldn’t say I’m “butch”. More than anything I love it when my partner is smarter than I am or is more capable in some aspect. It makes me immensely proud of her. We take care of each other, as equals, but different.

    I have some male friends who see their female partners as equals in a similar way to how I do and it makes me very glad for them.

    I have some other male friends who see their female partners as like children, or diminished adults, and it makes me so embarrassed for them; they will never know the riches they miss.

    And I know some men who have an undercurrent of something not quite hate, but nearly as poisonous, in their regard for women. They tend to cover it with talk of women being sexually alluring, but you can hear elements of their dislike in how they cast women as predatory, wearing scanty clothes to entrap men with their feminine wiles, and so on.

    All three of those groups can act like old-world gentlemen or not. It has little bearing on the standing they accord women.

    Joseph, sometimes I wonder if you fall into that third group. The way you sometimes seem to smoulder with Janus-like love-hate for women, and the way you are so quick to attack Kaye for being intelligent and outspoken. Of course you’ll think I’m defending Kaye because… well, I’m not quite sure what goes through your mind on that, but you’d be wrong. Kaye doesn’t need me to defend her. I’d speak up for any woman, (or man) you attacked for speaking sense as Kaye does.

    I suspect that you simply drink a bit too much when commenting and it makes you sulky and insensitive and too quick with insulting comments. My advice would be to go easy on the sauce, or at least hold off posting a comment for several hours so that you can check it when you’re sober.

  33. Anne Byam

    A most interesting lot of comments here – albeit a few of them going off the rails somewhat.

    I could put in my penneth to many comments here, but it would all end up being a book –

    ……. So .. I would just like to say a very big THANK YOU to Keith Davis for his wonderful article. Made my day. I wish everone, particularly in our own country, could read it.

  34. Joseph Carli

    Miriam English….Stop bullshitting us….I have been in the building trade long enough to know when a film of super-white plaster is used to cover up a multitude of blackened structural sins…just like I have lived long enough in this flawed but lovely world to know when syruppy language is covering up a plethora of bullshit!…Like myself, you should save the crappy insults for your excellent fictional characters..

    I did not grow up suspicious or despising the opposite sex…I have lived with, created children with and still co-habit in blissful delight with women and now a woman…let us rejoice the difference, but I wince at some males scurrying after and clutching at the hem of what I can only presume is a remnant metaphorical memory of their mother’s protective skirt.

    Grow up people…..grow up.

  35. Kaye Lee

    You really are an arrogant man Joseph

  36. Joseph Carli

    ” You really are an arrogant man Joseph”…………………..In some respects, perhaps you are correct, Kaye Lee….But I have yet to meet a strong-willed woman who likes their man wimpy and indecisive..some may, and indeed, desire it!….And I think it can be fair to ask of YOU…What sort of person but an arrogant one would presume to make public statement….A PUBLIC ACCUSATION.. condemning another person on just their own (perhaps overvalued) personal opinion?
    Welcome to the club, Kaye Lee.

  37. Kaye Lee

    The choices aren’t between arrogant or wimpy. The strongest men I know do not feel the need to attack people who have a different opinion. They listen when women say I don’t like that. They consider how others feel. They are confident enough to learn and grow rather than belittle.

  38. Joseph Carli

    More passive agressive…
    And in case you think I am thoroughly heartless…:

    On empathy and sympathy.

    In these days of the news of so much brutality in many places in the world, of domestic violence, military massacres or social collapse in far away places or here in our own backyard, it may appear self-indulgent and facile to shed a tear or two for the loss of a domestic pet when we can but turn our gaze away from the hurt of humanity. An indulgence of sympathy some would say.

    But there is the thing about a knowledge of love and affection. I believe we as humans are born with the innocence of love already in our self, while affection is a thing that can grow in our hearts..There is the interpretation that affection can be a stepping stone toward love..which is true, I’d say, but love is not a learned thing but a indelible emotion of the human spirit..to be capable of love is to be human.

    The same with empathy and sympathy..With all those suffering peoples we see every day on the news, there is both empathy and sympathy..I would say that the combination of those emotions as between the separation of those emotions is the major difference between the Right and the Left persuasions of societies…:

    “To sum up the differences between the most commonly used meanings of these two terms: sympathy is feeling compassion, sorrow, or pity for the hardships that another person encounters, while empathy is putting yourself in the shoes of another.”

    I recently finished a project I have been working on in fits and starts for many a year…the result gives little evidence of that time..and perhaps the quality of the finished product may be viewed as a wasted effort on my part!…But it had to be written..and some of you have read it to which I am very grateful…after all, it was directed to be read.

    It is the story of the Italians interned in the 2nd. WWar to cut and burn mallee here near the Murray River..and the “play”..which I called a “reading opera” …”A Ukulele Opera” ..: https://freefall852.wordpress.com/ describes a microcosm of their situation in those camps…The “opera” starts and finishes with a character named “Gemano” who is lamenting for his fiancé who he left behind in Italy when he came to Australia (with my father) to start a new life and then to go and marry the lady and bring her to Oz to start a family…It was a true event..But the war broke out and he heard nothing of her…whether she be alive or like so many millions more..dead..what were the odds?…Yet he held out with a belief and conviction that she lives…for five years!..five years of despair and internment…and then came the letter of joy…

    In these days of “instant gratification”, how many can hold onto a desire or a commitment a person to love or hold affection with for more than a “clickbait” moment?….We seem to live in a time more of “want” than desire…

    Which brings us to the love of our pets and the loss felt at their parting. With the death of a pet, in most cases we are there at the dying, we touch the body and witness the fading life and say a gentle goodbye with the stroke of the fur..or a gentle twist of the pet’s ear or some other favourite touch or word..I would think, in that moment of death, we are MORE in sympathy to that loss of mute, innocent love with the parting than with the empathy of the loved one. But once we are parted from that unconditional continuity of mutual company and aware of that loss of mutual confederacy between two close companions…I believe we then feel the sympathy of camaraderie so much that the weld of empathy to sympathy can become seamless, a stepping stone from affection to love is complete and that knowledge learned through the companionship of our love toward a pet takes over as instinctive behaviour into our adult relationships between fellow citizens, is what guides decent and civilized attitudes toward our fellow humans no matter WHAT their circumstances. And it is fairly said that one can judge a person by their treatment of their pets or animals. It is a pity our leadership cannot seem to travel far enough down this route to become civilized barbarians!

  39. Kaye Lee

    Joseph, I do not think you are a bad man. I am sure you love your partner and kids and treat them well. And I know that I am overly sensitive to the objectification of women, a result of personal experience.

    I have tried to explain the things that make me uncomfortable and, to a degree, why. I do not say these things as a personal attack on you. Perhaps it is just impossible for you to empathise with the feelings a young girl experiences when her life changes drastically just because she grew breasts – no more carefree running down the beach playing, all of a sudden she is getting unwanted attention from strangers. No doubt some women welcome that attention but many do not. It’s a running battle to fend it off.

    We have to change how we view each other and how we treat each other.

    And will you drop off with the passive aggressive lament. You have been overtly aggressive and I have been very restrained in dealing with it.

  40. Uta Hannemann

    Joseph, the following in your comment very much speaks to me:

    “. . . . There is the interpretation that affection can be a stepping stone toward love..which is true, I’d say, but love is not a learned thing but a indelible emotion of the human spirit..to be capable of love is to be human.

    The same with empathy and sympathy..With all those suffering peoples we see every day on the news, there is both empathy and sympathy..I would say that the combination of those emotions as between the separation of those emotions is the major difference between the Right and the Left persuasions of societies…:

    “To sum up the differences between the most commonly used meanings of these two terms: sympathy is feeling compassion, sorrow, or pity for the hardships that another person encounters, while empathy is putting yourself in the shoes of another.”

    What you say about “the major difference between the Right and the Left persuasions of societies…” makes me think that there is often a lack of empathy. Maybe a lot of wars could be avoided if people were more capable of empathy? Who actually shows more empathy in your opinion?

  41. Joseph Carli

    Uta..; ” Who actually shows more empathy in your opinion?”….That’s the curious thing…now you’d think that those who suffer cruelty and pain would emphasise with others who are now getting the same treatment..but then we see many of the working-class bogan element here hating the refugees..and there’s Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians…
    So I would suppose it is all down to the local good elements in a community…or family or friends..Though my own experience with family leaves much to be desired….and sometimes a community can turn most viciously upon their own….So perhaps it is down to us as individuals….and perhaps our treasured pets…

  42. paul walter

    Wow! Am I glad I avoided this thread like the plague..

  43. Miriam English

    People can be very empathetic, yet be inhumanly cruel to others. We have an extraordinary ability to limit our empathy to in-group and out-group. Tribalism has much to answer for.

    As for the difference between conservatives and progressives, search for talks by Jonathan Haigt, such this one at TED Talks:
    https://www.ted.com/talks/jonathan_haidt_on_the_moral_mind

    While I largely agree with his conclusions, things are complicated at the moment by the fact that there are actually very few genuine conservatives in politics now. Those who pretend to be conservatives are almost all right-wing radicals. True conservatives don’t like change, they value honesty and social cohesion, and have historically been responsible for many of the world’s parks and reserves. The fake conservatives in power at the moment are irresponsibly pushing the country through major change, courting disaster. They have no time for honesty or interest in the stability of our society, and the only thoughts they have for the environment center around how much lifeblood they can extract from it while raping it.

    Unfortunately the left-wing muddy things even further. They used to be the progressives, but now seem to side more with the rabid right-wing on almost everything.

    It is a very confusing time for politics. It is also potentially a very good opportunity for the Greens — they could inherit the votes of both the genuine conservatives and progressives and could restore some real stability and sanity to our country.

  44. Joseph Carli

    “. . . a very good opportunity for the Greens”……The Greens boosted the LNP into government at the last election through two obvious and repetative methods…#1 : Their foolish naivety with the poncing of the “Anti coal convoy” into the Qld’ mining heartland with all the aplomb of a gormless chook sans head…and #2 : They could have got Labor over the line if they voted with integrity and put Labor prime vote where needed and their own candidates where contesting LNP majority seats and preferenced their own or Labor where applicable instead of voting the LNP in out of spite!

    Forget the Greens…they haven’t the balls or tits for fierce campaining!

    ” paul walter August 19, 2019 at 5:56 pm

    Wow! Am I glad I avoided this thread like the plague..”…….and yet, here you are…like a bad penny.

  45. Miriam English

    Unsurprising knee-jerk reaction, Joseph. And wrong in so many ways. When will the Labor faithful stop blaming the Greens for Labor’s failures? They are a separate party, Joseph. The Greens offered an alliance any number of times, but Labor emphatically turned them down each time. Even so, I guarantee pretty-much all those who voted Greens gave Labor second preference. Do you understand what that means? It means that you can blame the lies of Clive Palmer, One Nation, and the LNP, along with the flat-footedness of Labor for the failure of Labor, but you can’t blame the Greens. Any Greens politician that did not win a seat sent their votes to Labor.

    I made my earlier (6:06pm) statement as an observation. I am not a devotee of the Greens, even though they usually get my vote these days. They, the Reason Party, and a few independents seem to be the only progressive voices left. If Labor would unleash people like Penny Wong they could become relevant again. More’s the pity they won’t. Until then they vote with the LNP on everything, it seems, and are responsible for their own fate.

  46. Miriam English

    Joseph, your snide comment to Paul doesn’t win you any friends.

  47. Uta Hannemann

    Miriam English, Thank you so much for this link:

    As for the difference between conservatives and progressives, search for talks by Jonathan Haigt, such this one at TED Talks:
    https://www.ted.com/talks/jonathan_haidt_on_the_moral_mind

    I find this TED Talk most interesting. In any debate we should consider where actually the differences between conservatives and progressives are to be found. I published this link here for future reference:

    https://auntielive.wordpress.com/2019/08/19/the-moral-roots-of-liberals-and-conservatives/

  48. Joseph Carli

    Miriam..if and when The Greens become a major party and a threat to take governance from the Establishment politics, all that will need to be done to put them back to the base of the ladder will be for the Daily Tele’ to publish an article claiming that The Greens will ban meat based burgers in Macas’ and HUngry Johns and that insects as a primary source of protien is on the agenda for agriculture policy!…and that will be the end of that…

    I too, Miriam, gave my SA. Senate primary vote to SHY…as I knew Penny would get in but I wanted SHY (NOT necessarily The Greens) to get in as she is an honest voice…unlike Di Natali.

    Miriam…Since when are you Paul’s keeper?..and I am not here to win friends…I am here to remind those who despise me that I am still around and in sound operational order……see you on the fiction pages 🙂

  49. paul walter

    Give us a break with the persecuted rebel bit, Joe.Come down from your X before you miss the forest for the trees.

    Nice to see we are all SHY fans though.

  50. Uta Hannemann

    Hi, Miriam English, I was curious and went to your profile which is quite impressive. I am not very computer knowledgable. The idea of AI scares me to bits. I found your short story entertaining. In the end I am glad that so far it is just fiction. I sometimes like to be all by myself with nature. However I always strive for some human companionship also. I do not like to be told all the time what I can do and what I cannot do. But I do accept gratefully any help that is offered to me when I need it. I am close to 85!!

  51. Miriam English

    Hi Uta, thanks. 🙂 Which short story did you mean? I have about 30 of them there, and many of them deal with artificial intelligence (AI)… so do all my novels. It’s a bit of a preoccupation of mine. I’ve been hoping to start building an AI for myself this year, but have been a bit delayed and distracted.

    As I’m an aged pensioner I’m expecting to develop Alzheimer’s in the future — it unfortunately runs in my family. I’m hoping an AI companion will help me continue to live alone (with my dog) out here in the QLD bush by remembering for me the things that I can’t. I’d also like to train my AI on how I think, letting me leave behind something like the AI in my story Grave Words. I’d love to live for a few thousand years so that I can continue learning and seeing what comes next, but failing that, next best would be knowing an echo of me could live on. I’ve programmed my desktop computer to talk to me, reminding of appointments and events. Unfortunately it isn’t intelligent and can’t learn on its own… yet.

  52. Miriam English

    For those as confounded by abbreviations as I am, I think SHY stands for Sarah Hanson-Young — an Australian politician who has been a Senator for South Australia since July 2008, representing the Australian Greens. She is the youngest woman to be elected to federal parliament, winning election at the age of 25 and taking office at the age of 26. (Description from Wikipedia.)

  53. paul walter

    Horrible thought, in a car and no one is driving…eeeeerrrkkk.

  54. Miriam English

    Paul, absolute opposite for me. I fear and distrust human drivers. I understand the scary roulette of getting in a car with a human driver (even if I’m the driver) and with other human drivers on the road. Last year 1,137 people died on Australian roads. This year is looking to be worse so far. (14% higher than last year for the same period.) Being able to get in a car and relax instead of arriving exhausted would be such a boon.

    Perhaps people not so long ago said, “Horrible thought, in a carriage and no horse pulling…eeeeerrrkkk”. 🙂

  55. Michael Taylor

    In loads of various tests the Google car covered 17 million miles in the US. There was only one accident … a minor one.

    Like Miriam, I’m all for them.

    Our old friend Roswell started writing a post about them a year or so back. I wish he had have finished it! I must have a look for it in our pages and pages of draft posts.

    People born today will never learn to drive a car, btw.

  56. Paul Davis

    Thank you Keith for your very interesting article. I remember with fondness my first female boss, a chief of staff at Fairfax when i was a cadet journo back in the mid 60s. She was thorough, clever, full of interesting ideas and i found her inspiring but at the same time was dismayed by some of the blokes’ lack of respect for her. 50 odd years later and we haven’t progressed as much as we could have….. The current domestic violence epidemic is a disgrace and a tragedy. Yes, domestic violence is one of the symptoms of a very sick society with problems of unemployment and mental health for instance that this government has no interest in addressing, but surely we men collectively need guidance, counselling and support to stop viewing our wives and girlfriends as our property, as scapegoats, as punching bags.

    Thank you as always Kaye and Miriam for your astute observations.

  57. Peter F

    Kaye, as a young boy in the ’50s I remember my mother saying how she was repulsed every time she met a particular man in the Main Street of our small (3,00 population) country town because she always felt that he was mentally stripping her. I have never forgotten this. She only said this of one man, but it left a powerful memory for me.

  58. Kaye Lee

    It’s a horrible feeling Peter. I was waitressing at my father’s bowling club when one of his friends asked me if I was wearing a bra. I was a barmaid at a pub owned by the father of a friend and the guy who was sitting with my boss told me he wanted to shove his tongue down my throat. I could go on and on and on as could most women. This is not criminal behaviour, it is just everyday stuff that women have to endure, and it has consequences. I am overly defensive, I hate compliments about my appearance, I never wear fitted clothing, I hate being photographed – I just wish everyone other than my husband would see me rather than the car I came in.

  59. Paul Davis

    KL, what a great quote “I just wish everyone other than my husband would see me rather than the car I came in.”

    I spent six years in a toffee nosed boys boarding school but thankfully my mother had me for the holidays and was able to undo much of the damage….. Apart from pointing out to me how misogynistic many of the lyrics of my beloved rock n roll music were, a much more useful lesson was discerning and appreciating the value of character over appearance.

  60. Keith Davis

    Just back from a wonderful week in Tasmania & here’s a bit of goss … guess who cooked scrambled eggs for a friend and I at an Air B&B place down there? The owner of the place, Margaret Reynolds, did the cooking … ex-ALP Senator and Minister in the Hawke/Keating government. I’m writing a piece about the visit which will be published soonish on AIMN.

    The old convict-era house reeked of Labor tribality & Gough once slept in the upstairs bedroom. Margaret is a very interesting and intelligently direct woman. We landed in her sphere quite by accident and you know the old saying ‘be in the moment, soak it up’. Well we did, with bells on!

    I resonate with your thinking styles Kaye and Miriam, and I look forward to your future writings …

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