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Archive for July, 2013

The political demise of Australia’s first female Prime Minister was partly fuelled by virulent sexist attacks in many quarters, and disgracefully, even encouraged by her political opponents. The aggression and venomous hatred expressed in those attacks took one’s breath away.  So the question of an underlying cultural current of Australian misogyny arises. The evidence for it is palpable and ubiquitous. Why is it so? As Professor Julius Sumner Miller used to ask us regularly on TV.

Undoubtedly, a root cause of sexist behaviour in the WBL is the rampant apartheid of our school system. Boys and girls are meant to grow up together, and common sense tells you that this is the key to socialisation and the normalisation of respectful relations between the sexes. The gross misbehaviour of young men reported at ADFA, St Paul’s college (Sydney Uni) and rugby league clubs should come as no surprise when they’re educated in isolation from the opposite sex. Many current politicians have grown up in that stream of all-male schools and university colleges. The case of female politicans is more complicated.

As for the old furphy that girls will suffer academically by sitting next to boys, I challenge anyone to name a country of high-ranking academic achievement which has a secondary system of segregated schools. Wake up Australia, it’s time to confront the elephant in our collective room, and join the dots, if you’ll excuse the mixing of metaphors. Same sex schools are against nature!

Again Kookynie is at the progressive cutting edge of societal reforms. In 2009 KC took up the same issues and reported the merger of our single sex schools into St Kate’s, where the boys are flourishing. They understand the school’s clear dictum: ‘Aut disce aut discede’ (learn or leave). Their behaviour at the pub has improved dramatically. And the mixed soccer team has a waiting list. What further proof do you need?

 

Lao school

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Following Gillard’s guillotining we’re wondering what Kevin Rudd’s mass appeal is all about. Psychoanalysis of the Australian body (brain?) politic is called for.

At the risk of serial re-blogging, Michael Duffy’s analysis in SMH in February last year during Kevin’s failed coup may help. An edited extract follows.

“Some say the people like Rudd because they’ve never met him. This is true enough, but it fails to tell us why they like the unmet Rudd, the one they’re familiar with from TV.

TV Rudd is a pretty unusual creature when compared with most other politicians we see on the screen. Strange as it seems, it is this difference that many people are attracted by. He reminds them of people – or characters – they see often on the telly, and they like that. Such creations are far more warm and interesting, after all, than real politicians. In the context of television, Rudd’s artificiality has been his greatest asset.

Rudd’s face is a smooth circle with relatively small features. It’s almost child-like and can remind you of TV cartoon characters, whose faces are often based on children’s.

The exception is the mouth. All politicians have to smile a lot when they don’t want to, but few have been less successful in pretending to be sincere than Rudd, whose ghastly smile can look so false it seems to come from another face, creating the effect of something constructed using an old police identikit.

Then there’s his voice. I can’t recall a prime minister less capable of speaking simple English than Rudd. His attempts at the vernacular – the Vegemite and the sauce bottle – are gruesome. Often his sentences sound like they’re constructed in another language and turned into English by a cheap translation app.

In terms of political character, he represents conveniently little. Changing his mind on climate change symbolised this. He seems to stand for nothing except the sound of his own voice. The general impression this creates is of a virtual personality, and possibly Rudd knows this. His spooky references to himself in the third person suggest an awareness of himself as a construct, a work in progress.

When Rudd’s smooth face is immobile, he looks like a cartoon character. When his relentless perkiness and utter certainty are to the fore, he’s like a program presenter. And when his use of language collapses and his depthless self-pity and ambition are given a run, he resembles a participant in a reality program.

Rudd is a creation of television. Sunrise in 2001 turned a politician without any base and few friends in the ALP into a celebrity. Ever since, he has been as dependent on his ratings as any other TV star.  He is the ultimate product of the digital age and 24 – make that four – hour news cycle. All form and no content”.

Apparently during the execution last Wednesday social media went berserk with a record 500,000 tweets. Over half were re-tweets, so my recycling of Duffy is the norm. Anyway gotta zip, as Kevin would say. Hope my programmatic specificity works for you.

(Illustration by Michael Mucci)

Cartoon Rudd by Mucci

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