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.
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.
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.
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.