Clutching my pearls and thinking out loud

I’m seeing a lot of this lately; pile-ons from young women in Twitter, claiming that men who call one another ‘soft cock’ or ‘pussy’ aren’t just crass, they’re evil or mentally unhinged, with masculinity so toxic it melts your vegan nailpolish at 100 metres (and smells like Lynx and packet macaroni – be on guard, womyn).

In other circumstances, this ‘pile on’ – where the hysteria reaches epic proportions and otherwise sensible people find themselves making frankly ridiculous claims about the mental health/motivations and/or personal hygiene of someone else – would be called out for being over the top.

The fact that it isn’t demonstrates a complete schism between the classes. I’ve heard many, many men refer to one another as soft-cocks and pussies. Generally speaking it is a gentle form of giving one another curry. It is not, as the hysteria would suggest, an incitement to commit war crimes (generally war crimes language is more subtle. It often includes terms like, ‘operational’ ‘sustainable’ ‘negative’ ‘maximise’ and ‘neutralise’. This masculinity smells less like Lynx and more like Polo for Men).

I have worked in male environments before, with men who might be called working class *gasp*. I am familiar with their strange and exotic ways, a familiarity that I can only assume does not extend to the woke twitteratto, above.

I know language matters. I am not undermining the sexism that this kind of language reflects – a social order that is rapidly changing. Yet I struggle though to connect this kind of sexist language with severe violence against women – which is the basis for this extreme, clutch-my-pearls hysteria against it. Calling someone a pussy does not make you a murderer.

It’s something I’ve thought about a lot lately. My personal is my political. And I think my personal is different to these twittering women above. Unlike them, I suspect ‘personal’ includes experience with ‘the working class’. Many encounters have shaped my view, including this one;

I once worked in a place (all men) where one employee (I’ll call him ‘Neil’) regularly used the services of a prostitute. Neil was married with teenaged kids. His wife was aware of the arrangement. Although he held a relatively senior position in our little hierarchy (he got to choose the workshop radio station four days out of five and had access to the welder for personal use, both privileges bordering on minor royalty) he was always on the outer. Several years previously Neil had made one or two derogatory comments about his wife’s sexual organs. These comments were eventually relayed to me when I started. Although he was treated with some decency, he was not respected. I wouldn’t say shunned, but definitely regarded very differently. Worse.

The language in this workplace would feed the Twitter outrage machine for a year. Terms of endearment included; Cunt, fuckhead, soft cock, pussy. Men routinely derided one another’s sexual abilities and capacities. Except Neil. Neil was left out of it.

Terms that alluded to one’s sexual prowess (or lack thereof) were acceptable. Interestingly, terms that derided one’s cognitive abilities were not OK. No-one was ever called a moron. That’s a key difference between classes – slagging off one’s mental health or abilities is completely OK for the twittering middle classes (I guess it doesn’t matter how thick you are if your parents are rich, Queenwood will get you over the line and you can pretend you got there on merit). It’s not OK for everyone else.

Men who are sexually violent have a peculiar attitude to women. It is not denoted by calling one another’s masculinity into question by calling them softcocks. You know it when you see it. Looking back on it, I was never, ever left alone in the workshop with Neil. Everyone else – no dramas, just not Neil.

Men who are violent towards women belittle them, often in subtle ways, and often in front of other people. Thinking that masculine violence is underpinned and heralded by smutty talk just demonstrates a class division between middle class young women and working class men (I’m not even comfortable with the term working class because it’s so problematic in both economic and cultural terms. It’s also universalising and therefore feels derogatory).

The whole point of this navel gazing is of course so we all stop talking about this;

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Phew

I have a passing interest in economics and policy. At times, this has led me to examine some of the key theories about history and economics, including Marxism. Today we’ll be talking about Cultural Marxism  *cue hysteria*

Cultural Marxism is the idea that economic Marxism failed (where’s my revolution, it was here a minute ago etc.,.) and so now lefties are attempting to dismantle the current social fabric with a different type of Marxism – the Marxism of culture. Or so the critics would have it. You’ll be familiar with this idea; Cultural Marxists are promoting the death of the family and western social structures through the devious propagation of silly ideas like gender theory and identity politics. Thirty years ago, the same thing was said about feminists, that was until right wing pundits realised that the only thing that served capitalism better than one person working outside the home was two people working outside the home.

Undaunted, these shrill lunatics continued to maintain that cultural Marxism is a threat to humanity. Feminism has been replaced by issues such as ‘gender dysphoria’ or ‘trans-visibility’. Yep, it’s scary stuff, this cultural Marxism. Apparently we’re teetering on the edge of a society-wide apocalypse because a bunch of bored, screen-sallow shut-ins think that everyone cares very deeply about the cut of their trousers.

The corporatist oligarchy is shitting itself.

And that’s my point. Because if anything, the wobbly juggernaut of Western capitalism loves cultural Marxism. After all, if young adults are keeping themselves entertained competing to see whose dignity and humanity has been, like, super-impugned the most, they’re hardly likely to organise to take collective action against the forces who stand to fleece them the most.

Cultural Marxism is Gen Y’s Marxism – tangling itself up in narcissistic irrelevances, while the real machinery of global capitalism marches on. Cultural Marxism is the Marxism you have when the real thing is too dangerous. Cultural Marxism’s key sponsors are likely to be The Capitalists themselves. After all, this form of Marxism doesn’t bite. What’s not to love?

There’s another reading of course – that capitalism has won. After all, nothing screams, ‘conspicuous consumption’ like the idea that you might fetishise (and monetise) your very gender.

It’s all deeply silly.

Reading

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A funny graph for your Friday morning….

I know that I’m supposed to be talking about my readily impugned dignity and/or vagina, but actually at the moment I spent most of my days reading about the relationship between wages, price signals, inflation rates and the RBA and housing. Specifically, Australia has been experiencing wage decline for quite some time. This has implications.

I’m realising there’s a lot of wobbly data out there, but I found one frequently repeated stat;

– Australians owning at least one investment property;

22% of GenY (age 18-34)

20% of GenX (age 35-49)

19% of Baby Boomers (age 50- ~ 170)

Thought that was interesting.

Investment property comprises about 16% of the residential property market.

More to come I suspect……

Errant rubbish

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Radio National is being gutted, apparently. And frankly, if yesterday’s lunchtime sample is anything to go by, perhaps a filleting might do it the world of good.

Yesterday I heard The World Today’s ‘story’ on Australians who are spending $555 million on ‘useless study’. Apparently many students obtain qualifications they don’t use when they leave university.

We were treated to the damning example of the person with a degree in tourism who then got an entry level tourism job. We were told;

‘The boss is unhappy because the employee lacks everyday customer service skills and the employee is unhappy because their degree, which covered things like management and policy) is unused’.

The interviewer, Linda Mottram responded with the theatrical gravitas of a home shopping presenter,

“How much would you expect to pay for this useless education?” she shrieks. “What’s the cost?” sotto voce – to the taxpayer

Perhaps if Ms Mottram had undertaken a useless degree in journalism, she would have instead asked questions like;

 – What is the time frame on deeming a qualification useless? How many of those with ‘useless’ qualifications go on to use them later?

 – Does the tourism grad expect to start working in the industry at a lower level, and work their way up, therefore using their degree later? 

 – If the tourism graduate is short on customer service training, how does this negate the value of their other tourism qualifications?  One thing does not lead to another, or as we simpering morons without extensive customer service training would say, this is a post hoc, ergo propter hoc fallacy

 – If a student forgoes their tourism degree for a qualification in customer service, and then ends up running the company, do you deem their original qualification useless? 

 – You said that employers were using a bachelor’s degree as a ‘filter’, choosing candidates who had a degree. It seems to me that if a degree makes you more likely to get a job it doesn’t fit well with the definition of ‘useless’. Or are you saying that employers are so stupid they need to be told who to employ?

 – How did you judge useless? If, for instance, the student develops self discipline, or perhaps basic literacy during the course of their degree, is this deemed ‘useless’ to their entry level position? 

 –  Let’s talk about the broader context. SkillsIQ is a government research body. The Liberal government actively supports private training organisations which provide ‘skills training’ in areas like customer service (ingratiating servitude), or using a cloth and breathing at the same time. How do you respond to the claim that this is simply another example of the government attempting to undermine the university sector in favour of their well-heeled donors, the private training sector? 

And finally, perhaps the most important question;

 – Given that the university sector is currently under pressure to limit the amount of the everything it currently offers that isn’t Vice Chancellor’s reimbursements, can you tell us how this isn’t just some made-up, bullshit study intended to appeal to Liberal voting Murray and Janice who always knew that young people’s degrees were useless and students would be better off just working hard like they did in the 1970s, and also aren’t young people annoying and full of themselves?

These are just a few of the gaping holes in the four minute interview. How on earth Radio National can be considered a serious broadcaster beggars belief.

 

Artificial grief

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Straight to the pool room

There’s no shortage of issues to be concerned with at the moment, foremost of which is Australia’s energy ‘restructure’ that will have major implications for this country’s emissions…not that you’d know because no-one seems remotely interested in it.

What everyone is interested in is the ridiculously polarised debate over the detainees on Manus island. Honestly, it’s like the two sides of the media collude to create a brainless duopoly. Missing altogether is any mention of the real mandate of the anti-asylum seeker politicians.

It’s all very well to talk about how few asylum seekers are coming to Australia, or how Australia should admit those who’re currently being held in (or ‘released’ from) the Manus island detention centre BUT the main reason Australians continue to vote against asylum seekers is that they think if Australia admits everyone who comes by boat or plane then more will come.

I personally think Australia should take many more refugees than it does – we are currently engaged and complicit in fucking up the Middle East, and have benefitted massively from its general instability, now and in years gone by. Even the most cursory examination of history will tell you how this works. However, that’s my perspective and I know it’s not a popular one.

What needs to be addressed in the refugee debate is the perception that if more can come, more will come. I have only once seen an acknowledgement or discussion of this idea in the mainstream left media (in The Monthly, several years ago).

Now, it’s hard to imagine a more pressing issue than the status of refugees being abandoned in Papua New Guinea. Or at least that’s what I thought until I read our local newspaper this morning.

The front page featured a group of local fishermen petitioning for an artificial reef. It turns out that after 200+ years of European despoil there just isn’t quite enough shit cluttering up the bottom of the ocean. If only there were just a little bit more!

After all, it’s getting harder and harder to catch fish, so clearly there needs to be something that organises them into a more easily accessible area. And actually, while we’re at it, let’s get rid of the Marine Park as well. Because God knows, that thing has heaps of fish in it.

You might think this issue is a little mundane, but that’s where you’re wrong. Because the fishermen are not the only local group furiously sweating into their heavily branded baseball caps this week. There is another group of ‘concerned locals’ who’re being actively concerned in the direction of the Mayor. This group don’t give a shit about the artificial reef. They’re concerned about sea level rise – specifically, the lack thereof.

Our Council has had the audacity to suggest that the avalanche of scientific evidence regarding climate change is probably accurate. Sea levels are likely to rise. But not without a fight. Because nothing turns back the ocean like a group of crimson-faced fatties belligerently sweating into their nylon short shorts. It’s in the bible, somewhere near the back. Check the index for; ‘coastal inundation’, or ‘double-brick’.

Between artificial reefs and sea level rise it’s hard get a moment of peace.

But all is not lost. There is a delightful symmetry here. Because, on the off-chance that protesting sea level rise does not hold off the inexorable creep of the ocean, our local coastline is set to acquire a rather substantial artificial reef, complete with brick-and-tile patio and floor mounted swivelling bar stools. That’s right, most of the region’s waterfront properties will eventually fall into the sea.

The fishermen would love it for the snagging opportunities alone; ‘Fuck, Bazza, I’m snagged on the rotunda’ would enter the lexicon, a development that is certainly overdue.

The fish would love it too – they could lay their eggs in the entertainment unit and hang fibreglassed humans above the bar.

Why I’m not rich is beyond me.

Depression and anxiety; The new racism

It’s been a hell of a few weeks. Clearly I am suffering from stress. It could lead to depression, or perhaps anxiety.

Or perhaps I’m just busy and under pressure. Perhaps I’ll just harden the fuck up for a bit and see if that helps.

First; a warning. This is just some out-loud thinking. Sorry if it doesn’t make any sense. I’m stressed etc.,.

Yesterday I heard Frank Furedi speaking about freedom of speech on Radio National. I’ve not heard of Furedi since I was an undergrad student, about 20 years ago. I liked his work then, but have shifted in other directions since.

Yesterday, I listened to him argue that Western universities are increasingly self-censorious. This is because, under a neo-liberal consumerist model, they’re competing for students. There are prizes for the least confronting course content.

Education has become commodified, of course, but it’s happened in weird ways. University is no longer an adult stage, it is a continuation of a cosseted larval form, where endlessly fretting parents shuffle continuously build a fuzzy little ‘happy bubble’ around their children.

Every year the numbers of university students applying for special consideration on the basis of ‘stress’ or ‘depression and anxiety’ increases, as students pathologise the normal pressures of life in the adult world into an ever-expanding rubric of ‘wellness’.

Furedi often writes about this cultural turn but for me it was refreshing to hear someone validate what I myself have said so many times. In fact, I usually go one step further. I think we are encouraged to focus our attention on ourselves so as to avoid looking at the structural inequities and problems that may affect our ‘wellbeing’. This is one of the key ways that neo-liberalism works – it is the cult of the individual; If you can’t make life work, it’s because you’ve got something wrong with you. You have an illness. I’ve moaned about how this insidious cult of wellness operates before.

Here’s the thing; All capitalist systems require a certain degree of labour market elasticity. This is what the NAIRU (Non Accelerating Inflation Rate of Unemployment) refers to. It is simply the rate of unemployment that can be sustained before inflation rises.

In the old days, the easiest way to secure churn at the bottom of the labour market was simply racism – you brought people in to your country and then stigmatised them so they would remain at the bottom. The decline in Empires (something that really only happened with the recession in the second half of the 1970s) has made flat-out racism more unpalatable and immigration much harder to manage. But the market still needs a bunch of people who will buy things but can’t work all the time.

Depression and anxiety is the new racism.

There’s another dimension to Furedi’s comments about education and feeble-mindedness, however. The commodification of a university education under a neo-liberal model has seen a dramatic increase in university enrolments. I’ve written about this in the Australian context before. My point is, universities are now accepting students who are completely unprepared for a university education.

One of the one hand, it’s predatory lending – inviting students to buy a mediocre education where they barely scrape through a general degree, with the help of multiple concessions to ‘stress’ or ‘depression’, is a bad thing.

But I’ve got mixed feelings about this. I myself left school before School C(ertificate*), and hit university in my early 20s. I was hopelessly outgunned. But, after a year I worked it out and did rather well thankyouverymuch.

So I’m cautious about suggesting that university entry requirements should be tightened as it may exclude those who might genuinely benefit.

I’ll leave that there. Apologies for lack of coherent thought.

 

 

*School Certificate and Bursary were the two main qualifications one could earn at school. Bursary (silly name, as it didn’t come with money) was roughly the same as HSC, undertaken at the end of Year 12. Only those planning to go to uni sat Bursary.

School C was the main qualification and you sat it at the end of Year 10. Can you imagine today’s year 10s sitting a series of exams at the end of the year? The stress! You’d be weeping into your chai latte.

 

Vote to marry a year ten brachiosaurus!

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To begin – this shit, from the ABC, no less. IT’S NOT A FUCKING VOTE, it’s a survey.

The whole point of a survey is so the government doesn’t have to have a vote. I note however that this article comes to us from ‘Hack’, the Millennial’s ABC, so one doesn’t expect it to be remotely accurate because, like, facts are like so, like lame or something, meh.

Second – the NO media campaign ads.

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Apparently these ads are going to be popular, because they have women in them. Women who don’t make any sense. Seriously, there are some coherent arguments against SSM (depending on your point of view) but these ads don’t encompass them.

Here’s a snippet of the dialogue;

If same sex marriage is passed it will be like overseas, where we don’t have a choice anymore….

That’s right, everyone will be forced to marry gay people.

Also, Concerned Mum of Tuggeranong (she’s the slightly cross eyed lady looking upwards towards the camera in faux penitence) says;

If same sex marriage goes ahead my year seven boy will be told it’s OK for him to wear a dress to school next year

Yep, that’s right – this survey will have far reaching consequences that may or may not bear any resemblance to the original fucking issue. Here’s the outtake,

If same sex marriage goes ahead my year seven boy will be told he can wear a fur-suit and marry a brachiosaurus! Won’t someone think of the children?

Quite. So let’s think about those children….well, while everyone was working themselves into a state about the ‘damage’ same sex marriage will do to children, these two stories emerged, one about toddler Braxton Slager who drowned in his foster carer’s illegal backyard pool, and the other, Braydon Dillon, the nine year old boy who was killed by his father in Canberra;

I heard Slager’s mother and father complaining vociferously about their son’s death on the radio. Apparently the state services had ‘let them down’. Even the Minister, Prue Goward, called them to apologise. The system is broken!

The media intimated that the toddler should have never even been placed in foster care. His mother said she didn’t want him placed in foster care, and that she was already the primary carer for other older children. Surely he could have stayed in the loving embrace of his mother?

But let’s be clear-eyed about this – FACS don’t remove toddlers because Mumsy doesn’t have the latest Wiggles DVD. In fact, a recent report showed just how hard it is to get FACS to do anything at all,

It shows in July 2012, the St Mary’s office closed 60 per cent of “risk of serious harm” reports without assessment due to competing priorities, while in June 2013 at Mt Druitt 86 per cent of reports were closed without assessment.

I’m prepared to entertain the idea that FACS thought the toddler was in immediate danger if he stayed with his mother.

It’s worth noting, given the statement above, that  FACS in Western Sydney might appreciate a lazy 122 million dollars, but no, we need it for the government sponsored survey that’s going to tell us exactly how bad it would be to officially recognise gay people who are already raising children perfectly well, as married.

Which brings me to Bradyn. I was thinking about him as I heard the ‘No’ campaigner telling ABC’s Patricia Karvelas that the best environment in which to raise children was with a mother and a father. Bradyn Dillon’s father hit him in the head,

…multiple times between December 2015 and February 2016.

The final beating, which caused previous brain injuries to re-bleed, was sparked over an accusation Bradyn had stolen lollies from his father.

Dillon had just beaten Bradyn with a belt as he was bent over naked on a coffee table.

“Bradyn told the accused he didn’t want to live with him anymore and that the belt did not hurt,” the documents said.

Dillon then forcefully hit and kicked his son in the face and head.

Bradyn’s mother had contacted authorities multiple times to report this abuse, although for some reason Bradyn couldn’t go and live with her. I won’t speculate as to why. Once again, we witness the failure of authorities to protect a child at risk. 122 million probably wouldn’t go astray there either.

Then, still on the subject of children, I see this morning that the Catholic church has come out against same sex marriage. Yep, the catholic church has defined gayness as an act of moral turpitude. Let me get a pen.

And final salvo in this weird, stupid and offensive campaign that seems to know no bottom, goes to the frankly weird campaigning of the Greens – I received an email from them with the subject line;

You’re enrolled to vote YES!

This is ridiculous. IT’S NOT A FUCKING VOTE.

The Greens shouldn’t tell anyone they’re going to vote yes, it’s smug and presumptuous, and finally, people who aren’t enrolled might think this means that they are, and therefore not bother to check (yes, the email came before the cutoff to update your enrolment details).

Opposing same sex marriage because it might damage children is patently fucking ridiculous, as there are thousands of gay men and women raising children already. People’s ability to provide a loving home isn’t dictated by their sexual orientation. It just plain isn’t. You might oppose it for other reasons – mainly due to western-judeo christian something-or-other and that’s a matter of religion, but the ‘community is just thinking-of-the-children’ argument rings hollow in the light of the horrors above.

If you’re that fucking concerned about the welfare of children, put all your efforts into stopping parents from hooking into the methamphetamine. 122 million dollars might help with that.