Letters to the editor


Sexism getting worse, not better

Jess Moore, in her article “Raunch culture, sex and sexuality” (GLW#864), addresses some important issues affecting women today.

I don’t disagree with her main conclusion (replace sexist heterosexual raunch culture with non-sexist and queer raunch culture) but feel it is a little simplistic (although I guess with word limits that’s hard to avoid).

There has been a new wave of excellent books by feminist writers published in the last couple of years that critique current social trends.

I highly recommend Australian writer Emily Maguire’s excellent Your skirt’s too short — sex, power, choice and UK writer Natasha Walter’s book Living Dolls, The return of Sexism, in addition to US writer Ariel Levy’s Female Chauvinist Pigs, which Moore referred to.

In different ways they explore issues of increasing gender role-conditioning in childhood, the increasing proliferation of biological determinist theories, the explosion of access to a mainstream pornography that is increasingly misogynist, the massive pressures on young women to conform to ideas that women’s bodies are sexual objects for pleasing men and narrow and harmful ideas of beauty, femininity and sexiness.

In many ways, sexism is getting worse, not better.

Our capitalist society is adept at co-opting the feminist vocabulary for packaging up sexist ideas and selling them back to us.

After reading those books, I feel like we almost need to rejuvenate the feminist consciousness-raising groups of the seventies to really explore harmful current trends and formulate strategies to deal with them.

I welcome Moore’s article as a contribution to this discussion and hope that these issues can be explored further.

Susan Austin,
Hobart, Tas

Chomsky wrong on clean coal

Noam Chomsky's Hopes and Prospects (reviewed in GLW #866) is indeed a great book, but I was pretty disappointed to see Chomsky praise so-called clean coal initiatives in China.

He writes: “China, though it remains a very poor country with enormous internal problems, is dedicating substantial resources to a ‘green revolution’ and may soon surpass them.

“It already makes one-third of the world’s solar cells, is in the lead in mass production of electric cars and the latest generation of ‘clean coal’ power stations, and is predicted to surpass the United States as the largest market for wind turbines.”

But as one advisor to the Chinese government told the ABC's Four Corners in 2009, carbon capture and storage is not commercially viable and probably won't be for 20 years.

As the ABC put it: “China believes it will have a fully operating ‘clean coal’ fired power plant in place by the middle of the next decade, but it just doesn't know quite where or how it will store the captured carbon dioxide.”

Chomsky also praises China for surviving the global financial crisis. But China’s “economic miracle” is also a lie.

In 2007, the World Bank estimated the annual cost of pollution in China at 5.8% of its gross domestic product, cutting its growth to the same rate as Western economies.

“Adding the costs of desertification, erosion, soil decline and environmental degradation raises the figure to 8-12% of GDP, which would push China’s economy into reverse gear,” says Jonathan Watts, the Guardian's Asia Environment Editor and the author of When A Billion Chinese Jump.

Mat Ward,
Sydney, NSW

Egypt uprising

How wonderful to see the inspiring example of people's power being expressed on the streets of Egypt, Tunisia and other countries in the Middle East.

Like so many others I have waited and worked so long to witness such incredibly encouraging scenes.

And it is tremendous to see the various corrupt dictators throughout the region trembling at the prospect of rebellion.

Also to observe the western powers like the US, Britain, France and Israel, who have propped up these repressive regimes with massive military, financial and other aid, squirming at the sight of these corrupt, oppressive, murderous governments crumbling.

Despite their talk of democracy and human rights the west’s major powers fear real democracy and freedom.

So many have suffered and given their lives to reach this point in time, that the struggling peoples of the region deserve the utmost support of those who value civil rights and liberty.

May the spectacle of revolt hearten and empower other subjugated peoples and spread further, so no cruel, tyrannical regime in Asia, Africa, or elsewhere feels safe from the people’s rage.

Steven Katsineris,
Hurstbridge, Vic

Nationalise maxi taxis

NSW Socialist Alliance candidates' election policy states that public transport needs to be frequent and free. In addition to this, all forms of public transport need to be accessible to people with disabilities.

A recent NSW government report points to numerous problems with the maxi taxi service, which caters for people in wheelchairs. Some people with more severe disabilities are totally dependent upon maxi taxis to get around and have the least means to pay for their transport.

To give people with disabilities improved access to public transport, on the same basis as the rest of the population, maxi taxi services should also be made free.

Nationalising the maxi taxi service, to provide a free quality public transport service to all people in wheelchairs, should therefore be part of the NSW SA election platform.

Helen Said,
Melbourne, Vic


Im very concerned about David Cameron's recent imflammatory speech in Britain & even more concerned & scared about how this will now reverberate throughout the English-speaking world in a "new wave of fascism." I was even more scared & concerned about how the ordinary masses responded to this speech & the previous one by Angela Merkel in "a fascist, lynch-mob mentality." This wasn't "a speech or a vision for liberalism" but a speech drifting towards the far-right's fascism. For a while there Cameron was an "unknown quantity" & someone with a question mark over his head. Now his "true colours" have come out for all to see. He's nothing more than a pure Thatcherite. I thought we were past all of this, but boy was I wrong. Even though this is now 2011, were actually still stuck in 1984. Im seeing all around Australia again; deep narcisissm, gusto ethnocentrism & a glorification for anything blond hair & blue-eyed. Just like in 1984! Im very well read & versed in political ideologies & I think were dealing with fascism here. I know for a fact God would be utterly mortified. Ive always "detested" assimiliation towards anyone on this Earth, as Ive seen it as nothing more than brazen genocide. I swear on my grandmother's grave that if they tamper with me & try to whitewash my identity, I'll probably take my own life. Im very disappointed with humanity & cant believe this is happening in 2011. Every race, at any tract of this Earth's land surface, has the right to their identity & to exist, as God says were all his children. Concerned migrant, Sydney, NSW.
To the Editor, I am writing to you in the hope that you can help us inform the public about what is currently happening at James Price Point in the Kimberley. I feel that Western Australian Premier Colin Barnett, has a conflict of interest,regarding Woodside's proposal to erect a gas hub at James Price Point. The Traditional Owners were told to sign Woodside's agreement or face compulsory Acquisition of their land..Premier Barnett is acting in his own interests, 'and not the publics, as his daughter-in-law holds a senior position at Woodside Energy. I ask you, now doesn't this sound like a definite conflict of interests, or Political corruption at its finest! In 2008, Premier Colin Barnett fended off these concerns, while In 2009, Barnett's chief of staff Diedre Willmot stepped down after her husband's law firm added the energy sector to its area of practice. In 2010, Barnett appointed two ex-Woodside executives as advisor's. In 2011 Traditional Owners were forced by Premier Colin Barnett and Woodside to accept Woodsides proposal or face compulsory acquisition of their land, (currently under native title, and in the process of being heritage listed) There were irregularities in who was able to vote, and also the incorrect belief of many eligible native title claimants, who thought not attending the meeting, was taken as a 'no' vote. This behavior is nothing short of criminal. Premier Barnett unlawfully allowed Woodside to start clearing the land at James Price Point (with the help of the W.A police force), under the pretext of environmental studies (even though Woodside does not have environmental approval for this project and their joint venture partners BP, Shell, BHP and Chevron have not yet decided whether they will go ahead with it at all) In the process they have destroyed a number of historic artefact's and important Aboriginal cultural sites. This area also contains the world's longest chain of dinosaur footprints. The fossilized footprints of 15 types of dinosaur, which stretch for 80 kilometers along the Kimberley coast around Broome. This is crown land currently under Native title claim, and therefore Woodside has no legal right to keep anyone off it. I ask you, is the Police Force here to uphold Australian Law, or Premier Barnett and Woodside's version of the law ?? The arrest of many Traditional Owners of the land, especially while conducting a peaceful protest is nothing short of a crime in itself. Please find a link to two pictures taken on the 5th July 2011 of Australian Police knocking over an 80 year old man who was peacefully protesting at the James Price Point gas hub site (You can see he is being protected by his son), the other one is of the same man being dragged away by his arms. http://www.facebook.com/home.php?ref=hp#!/photo.php?fbid=238507312835170&set=pu.233770736 642161&type=1&theater and http://www.facebook.com/home.php?ref=hp#!/photo.php?fbid=238507312835170&set=pu.233770736 642161&type=1&theater . We ask for your help to let everyone in Australia, know what is happen at the Kimberley, we can't let this behavior go on! The Kimberley countryside is one of the last truly untouched area's of Australia and as such should be preserved for future generations to enjoy. I hope you can help us inform the public, and in turn stop the desecration of our beautiful land. Your sincerely Sandra Kelly