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On your fear of false rape accusations

4 Mar

I am so damned sick of (not all) men getting loudly alarmed about false rape accusations and claiming that even the 1-8% wide variance is too high and demanding more statistical or ontological (was it false rape or unsubstantiated rape complaints?) breakdowns from me.

So here you go:

A 2000-2003 Victorian report found that 2.1% of 850 rape complaints were false complaints. That’s 17.85 complaints against presumably 17.85 men over three years.

During that time (Aust):
* Only 15% of men accused of rape went to face trial.
* At least 40% plead guilty
* But that remaining 60%?
– around 10% are acquitted
– around 15% are found not guilty
– the rest, well, the prosecutor gives up half way through.
– In fact, your best statistical chance of a guilty verdict in a rape trial is to be a male      victim attacked by a male perpetrator.

Added to all of this is that less than 20% of Australian women actually report rape in the first place.

But no, tell me more about the scourge of false rape accusations. Tell me more about those poor 17.85 men.

A woman’s work and online op-ed cycles

10 Dec


Feminist writers often talk about the emotional labour they’re  compelled to perform, an additional layer of expectation and to-doing. Often, it’s comparable to what most people do in their jobs – we network, we engage in professional development like reading, conferences and courses.

But it gets an added layer – we have to spend an inordinate amount of time sorting through abuse, supporting each other through each wave, all the while trying to earn some semblance of that 81c per dollar women earn in Australia.

This layer takes a toll on most, though some rise through it like the Morrigan they are. For the rest, perhaps we end up cagier about going out in public, or perhaps there’s an added defensiveness to our online communication waiting for the slap of a hand, or we tire of the op-ed cycle that capitalises on this stress and fatigue for cheap churn.

I’m one of those people – I’ve only weathered a few crises but I’ve watched others face worse more often. Amazingly, sitting shotgun on crises and going through them personally have the same impact. I develop huge anxiety, get angry at what gets said and published (as though the act of publishing gives an added credibility) and who takes part, all the while spending hours with others affected by it all.

The impact is that I don’t want to write op-ed because all I end up seeing is a publishing system that sets out a strawman and then charges money for the matches.

A website will publish a piece about how feminism (and a particular feminist) is doing things wrong – this will often be written by a man, though god knows we have enough pigs sitting at the table with the farmers discussing Marx.

Then comes the outrage of clicks – always directly linked so the publisher gets the views and potential revenue. This is outrage that weighs profit above the wellbeing of others, like publishing ill-thought screeds of a juvenile writer and his target. It’s a model where the publisher looks after one entity: the publication.

And you fuckers fall for it every time. A flurry of rebuttals fire up like arrows and, just like most arrows, they miss the mark. Publish a piece with the originating publisher and you can be certain there will be no criticism of the publisher, just more bland arguments grabbed from women who might not have been published there otherwise. Publish it elsewhere and you’re contributing to another publication’s attempt to cash in on the cycle.

Meanwhile, more clicks and insults are traded online. MRA’s feast like scavengers while allies go rat-king and attack each other in ever-increasing levels of lateral violence (another fantastic distraction technique to distract from work).

The only entities that are looked after in this exchange are the publications.

There’s a reason op-ed is so popular these days – it has a low barrier to entry and promises relatively easy money for those who write often enough and are backed up by a day job. It’s the sort of writing work that is incredibly profitable for sites looking for spikes in hits that other writing can’t bring – it’s low investment, quick turnaround and people will prioritise opinions and personal experience over all other communication.

But its rise is wholly predicated on exploitation – of readers, writers and everything in between. Individual people are treated like objects, endlessly autopsied rather than discussed. Writers get paid less to do more with less time. Then everyone gets attacked or mocked by the lazy affectations of disaffected-libertarian-manchild memery.

Yet more jump into the fray – watching the industry for three years I can pinpoint the cycles, where new writers are brought in, new insults are developed and more people lock themselves into the cycle and others disappear. Everyone is so earnest about their participation – even the disaffected-libertarian-manchild memers – and no one watches the impact it has on readers and writers and ponders their personal accountability. It’s like watching a hurtling train as its passengers dismantle it from the inside while screaming “yay! I’m helping!”

This isn’t about victimhood and feminism – that’s a trope that is all too often misapplied. I’m as dubious of feminists saying  “I just got a death/rape threat, that must mean I’m onto something!” as I am of MRAs or the mindless trolling from people looking to pile on and try abusing a feminist, like it’s a new online attraction.

What this is about is that we face an added workload, and all the financial, physical and psychological impact that carries, because of this work. And there are people out there who capitalise from our free labour, distracting from the work we’re actually trying to do and silence any sort of scrutiny about their part in this exchange. We’re dodging our accountability and the accountability of those who profit.


There’s a reason this was a blog and not a published piece – I could literally give zero fucks for our current media model that does this to women. That’s the same total of fucks I have for women who enter this cycle to profit on attacks of other women – you’re not standing up, you’re not standing alongside, you’re sitting down and counting the money and bylines. In short, you’re part of the problem.

Protesting Choice or, that time I hung out with anti-abortion protesters

2 Sep

Jane Gilmore has republished my old piece about when I stood outside an abortion clinic with some anti-choicers and asked them about their work and beliefs.

A protester blocks a woman with her family, a small child in a stroller.

“There’s another way”, the protester says, holding out a pamphlet.

“I have cancer”, the mother shouts, her husband trying to shield her as they make their way in.

The protester, Pam, shrugs, somehow confused and upset someone would consider her rude. She tuts, “I just offered a bit of assistance instead of going in there and having an abortion and she said it’s cancer, well, why would she be going in there, why wouldn’t she be going into a proper hospital, she’s going to abort and that’s what it’s all about….she got nasty.”

Malcolm*, another protester agrees. “We see this as a killing factory….nobody should be supporting an organisation like that, an organisation that kills innocent children.”

“It’s like saying – and I know people don’t like us using the comparison – but it’s like saying in the gas chambers in Nazi Germany they might be exterminating hundreds of Jews and others every day but they’re giving a nice bath to some people so I think we should support them.”

You can read the rest over at Women’s Agenda.

Missing Kat Muscat

29 Jul

  Kat Muscat was a brilliant writer. Her voice was like a sidewinder, curling herself through essays and thoughts. You always got the impression she would be relaxed and yet somehow earnest at once, someone totally accepting while pleasantly pushing back on tired debates and tired defenses.

She was like that in person too, curling herself into my couch as we zoned out on debates and crap tv, for we had the blessed shared high/low tastes (except she loved the Wire, fuck the Wire). After meeting at a rally, we kept bumping into one another at protests, launches or whatever gutters or events writers seem to gather at. I got to know that flirtatious way of hers, how she would giggle before she would deliver a one liner or how she could somehow shrug and hug at the same time.

I don’t let many people into my apartment (especially more than once) but Kat was the exception. We would sprawl on the couch and make a trade: one of her perfectly rolled cigarettes for one of my perfect cups of tea. Both of us would sigh at the perfection the other could give, before settling into our routine: junk food, junk tv and the junkiest, stickiest secrets we could share. Somehow, her partner Jack moved in with me and then Kat moved in. We would stumble home from our adventures or slumber, make that trade and then sling our secrets.

One night, Kat was trying to move my cat Tonkatsu and her head bounced off a wall corner. Blood geyesered from her the middle of her forehead like she was Harry fucking Potter at Carrie’s prom. She refused to go to the hospital so, after another perfect trade of smokes and tea and as the clock ticked to midnight, I convinced her to grab a cab with me. We spent hours making each other laugh uproariously in the Emergency Dept. I’ve never been more comfortable being the most hated person in a room from all our noise.

photo 2 We joked about the coffee that tasted as though it was made from peanut shells and would definitely be the next hipster craze, with low slung bearded men queing up every day for the coffee vending machine. We decided that “artisanal boyfriends” were a thing, live tweeted everything to annoy others with masses of selfies, defamed my cat to anyone who would (and even those who wouldn’t) listen and – some four hours later – decided that hospital is just a fancy form of Etsy where people are stitched together in sterile rooms instead of crafternoons.

We got out around 5am, everything still dark and outrageously cold, and tumbled down Victoria St. Kat’s head was filled with glue and bandages and giggles. Because we were both delirious by this point, I turned to Kat and sang “Take me out…tonight..take me anywhere, anywhere, I don’t care…”, laughing deliriously as she joined in. By the time we reached the brightly illuminated 24 hours Macca sign, we reached the crescendo and pointed at the sign screeching “there is a light that never goes out” and bought burgers to eat, delighting in our bitchy immaturity.

Some people you just mark out as constants in your life. They will always be there, you decide, so you tape off areas for them, unsent invitations for future milestones, a reserved seat in your life. Kat was one of those people. She would continue being an amazing aunt to my daughter as she grows, she would be at that mythical party I one day throw and I’d get to enjoy all those shrug-hugs and couch times when we would collapse on each other, trading tea and smokes.

And sometimes those people check out early and you’re left gasping for air at the obscenity of it all. She’s no longer here and I’m left with these empty spots reserved for her. She was 24, an obscenity to go so soon.

If I can’t yell to make her wake up, I want to yell at the world for letting this happen. This stupid world that lets in someone so lovely only to force her out so soon before I can read all her words, hear all her thoughts and spend more nights falling asleep on the couch in a chorus of snores.

photo 3 (1)If there’s any solace to be found, it’s that there are no better friends in this world than other writers. We’ve called each other, some of gathered together to take solace and some of us have hid at home to eat pizza, watch junk tv and smoke perfect cigarettes while drinking perfect cups of tea. I’ve never seen such care and generous thoughtfulness like I have from writers. For people who tend to work alone, writers know how to hold on to each other.

I spent decades trying to find my friends and I found them in writers, writers like Kat Muscat. It’s an obscenity that she died before I could spend decades with her.

I miss you, Kat Muscat. You were always loved and you always will be.

How to refute popular Anti-Choice arguments

20 Jul

Step Back & Enjoy The View

My mother was always a socially progressive person. She never shied away from sharing her views on stereotypically stigmatized subjects and she scoffed at anyone who dared to suggest that my sister and I were too young to comprehend contentious topics. Because of this, by the time we were ten, my sister and I had a comprehensive understanding of human anatomy, sexuality, pregnancy and abortion. What my mother never did, however, was force her opinions on us. So while my mother was unabashedly Pro-Choice throughout her entire life, I made the decision to become a Pro-life vegetarian in my later teens.

I was initially compelled by compassion. I didn’t eat animals because I couldn’t stand the thought of them being harmed so how could I abide the obvious horror embryos and fetuses endured during an abortion procedure? While my decision to become Pro-Life was instantaneous, I found that my progression…

View original post 2,000 more words

Why it sucks having a feminist mum, Vol 38388034

15 Jul

This morning 

Aurora: I had a nightmare last night I was being chased by someone but didn’t know who it was…



Counting down to zero

16 Mar

I’ve been up in Byron Bay for about two weeks now for the film festival and part of the fun has been sitting on a balcony every morning writing the column as the sun slowly exploded near me in its rise to char my vampire complexion. 

But last Friday my editor called to tell me that 10 Things was closing as the Vine moves away from political coverage to focus on entertainment. 

I will still be around at the Vine – we are working out what I want to shout about – but it won’t be every day and it won’t be about politics. 

It’s sad there’s one less platform for a woman to discuss politics (with or without humour). I remember when Andrew P Street first approached me with the idea of taking over 10 Things, I baulked, unsure I could do it. I thought I didn’t know enough about news and politics. I realise now I was just downplaying what I knew and felt comfortable enough giving my thoughts and chasing stories I thought had impact. 

It may sound conceited to have confidence about your work, but my friend Maxine Beneba Clark has taught me that a woman being confident about her skills and work is a radical act. So, with that said, I think my coverage of violence against women, terrorism, islamophobia, Indigenous Australia and, of course, SPACE! raised points early and well. And the process of writing every single day has made me leaner and more confident as a writer. 

But it’s nothing without others. Like Anna Horan, Vine’s editor in chief. Like P Street who made 10 Things what it was. And Chuck Kolyvas my 10 Things partner and confidante. Or the people who helped me learn more, like good friend Greg Jericho or all the readers who clicked every morning and shared without fail. You fuckers are alright. 

We were planning on extending the 10 Things swan song but as I am in the process of traveling as I type – a long bus ride followed by a long flight followed by far too little sleep – it became apparent I wouldn’t be able to do today’s column or tomorrow’s so I pushed to end the column immediately so I could have a fresh start on my return home. 

This morning I went walking with some film makers and went to the beach. We watched the sun rise. It’s a new day, yesterday behind us and new things to celebrate and fight. 

Let’s continue on with that. 


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