February 5th 2011

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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY: After the deluge, build new dams!

NATIONAL SECURITY: Heightened terror threat likely in 2011

EDITORIAL: Dealing with the China challenge

CANBERRA OBSERVED: Can Julia Gillard re-invent herself?

TASMANIA: New premier is an Emily's List radical feminist

SOUTH AUSTRALIA: Rann Labor Government beset by factional brawls

CLIMATE CHANGE: Floods caused by global warming: Bob Brown

ENVIRONMENTALISM: Greenpeace co-founder has second thoughts

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS: The Chinese president goes to Washington

UNITED STATES: Same-sex marriage: who says nothing will change?

FEMINISM: Australia Post honours four radical feminists

OPINION: Mother-child bond diagnosed as a mental disturbance

CULTURE AND CIVILISATION: C.S. Lewis and False Apology Syndrome

CINEMA: A dark and twisted psychological thriller - Black Swan (rated R)


BOOK REVIEW: THE LAST ENGLISHMAN: The Double Life of Arthur Ransome, by Roland Chambers

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Australia Post honours four radical feminists

by Babette Francis

News Weekly, February 5, 2011
Hearing that four last-century feminists, Germaine Greer, Eva Cox, Anne Summers and Elizabeth Evatt, were to be honoured by having their faces on Australian postage stamps is like finding an unused 45 cent stamp - annoying because one needs another 15 cent stamp to make it usable. That is reflective of the achievements of these ladies - they identified problems but articulated inadequate solutions.

I've described the quartet as "last-century" because women have moved on and are no longer keen to identify as feminists. In an MSN poll, the vote was three-to-one against having Greer on a stamp.

The most succinct definition of feminism was by Washington Post columnist, Jessica Valenti, who said: "Feminism is a structural analysis of a world that oppresses women, an ideology based on the notion that patriarchy exists and that it needs to end." That is, women are victims of patriarchy, men are the enemy, and the number-one woman's right is abortion. The epidemic of infertility unleashed by abortions and sexual permissiveness has escaped the attention of the sisterhood.

Greer is the feminist I find most frustrating because she is talented and would have been valuable on a pro-family team. Professor emeritus of English literature and comparative studies at Warwick University, England, Greer has a huge corpus of published work.

Her literary analyses merit attention, but other writings range from bizarre to vulgar. What to make of her suggestion that women should taste their menstrual blood? Or her comment on the death of naturalist Steve Irwin that "the animal world has finally taken its revenge on Irwin"?

Greer self-identifies as anarchist-communist-Marxist, but now that Marxism is passé, she claims to be a believer in "perpetual revolution", in "liberation", not "equality".

Greer has posed nude for publications, and we should be grateful only her face will appear on our stamps. She reported having three abortions while at university, then in her mid-30s came to Sydney from the UK for medical treatment, unsuccessfully trying to become pregnant. Her most useful advice to women, provided in The Change: Women, Ageing, and the Menopause (1991), was to avoid hormone replacement therapy.

Eva Cox is a founder of the Women's Electoral Lobby (WEL), a feminist NGO committed to abortion on demand, affirmative action (i.e., the preferential hiring and promotion of women until "equality" has been achieved) and taxpayer-funded institutionalised child-care, but no equivalent payment to women who care for their own infants.

WEL has successfully infiltrated the public service, state and federal. It found its spiritual home in the various "Status of Women", "Women's Advisers", "Women's Health" and "Equal Opportunity" bureaucracies, from which it has had a vantage point to torment male breadwinners and full-time homemakers.

The plight of men was articulated by tradesman Steve Burke in a letter in The Australian (January 24, 2011). He wrote that he laughed at Cox's call for quotas for women on corporate boards because she ignored other areas of inequality, e.g., building sites and coal mines.

He said, "All the victims of the New Zealand mining disaster were men" (but Cox had not complained about that) and "Any woman who wanted equality at a mid-income level can collect her tools and join me for a 7 am start." (Steve, the air-conditioned offices of Equal Opportunity Commissions are far more comfy than a building site, and one can start at 9 am...).

Anne Summers, writer, editor and public speaker, was First Assistant Secretary, Office of the Status of Women, Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, 1983-86, and adviser to Paul Keating during 1992-93.

Her best known work is Damned Whores and God's Police (1975) about early days of white settlement in Australia, during which, she wrote, the traditional Judaeo-Christian notion that all women could be categorised as being exclusively either good or evil - with the Virgin Mary and Mary Magdalene being the prototypes of each kind - was brought to Australia with the First Fleet.

Summers claims, "Successive generations of women ... have collaborated in perpetuating this existential straitjacket." Thus she totally ignores the many women who have lobbied for financial justice for the mother/homemaker role and have also protested against the legalisation of brothels. It has been feminist organisations which have consistently opposed a homemakers' allowance, family income-splitting for tax purposes, and which have also supported the "sex industry".

Elizabeth Evatt was Chief Judge of the Family Court, Australia. I leave it to men's groups to evaluate the contribution of the Family Court to the well-being of families in Australia.

My concern with Evatt has been her biased support for ambiguously worded United Nations treaties during her tenures as Commissioner on the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission, 1995-98, and as a member of the UN Human Rights Committee, 1993-2000.

The UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) has been the vehicle for its monitoring committee to berate countries such as Belarus for celebrating Mothers' Day, Eire for not legalising abortion and other countries for similar infractions.

The personal lives of our postal quartet do not suggest they are great role models for contemporary women.

Greer's marriage lasted three weeks during which she admitted to having been unfaithful several times. Cox and Summers are divorced, Summers has a partner. Evatt is married with a daughter; Cox also has a daughter. Greer and Summers are childless.

The most poignant post-mortem on last century's feminism is by television journalist Virginia Haussegger in her book Wonder Woman: The Myth of "Having it All" (2005) in which she revealed her grief about her inability to have children and how she had been fooled into thinking she could postpone motherhood for a career, until it was too late.

Babette Francis, B.Sc. (Hons), is national coordinator of Endeavour Forum Inc.

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