: Girlie Dances a SlutWalk in the Park and Does Not Pray

Girlie Dances a SlutWalk in the Park and Does Not Pray

Libby Ration

Parks, Faith and Bulldust

Lauren Rosewarne sparked a torrent of commentary in response to her Opinion on The Drum (20 March 2015). In ‘The park as a bogeyman, and other violence fallacies’ Rosewarne addressed the comments of a senior police officer that women shouldn’t be alone in parks. The officer’s comments followed the vicious murder of Masa Vukotic, a Victorian schoolgirl, in her local park. In 2011 Michael Sanguinetti, a Toronto police constable, told a Forum on campus rage, ‘I’m not supposed to say this, however, women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimised’. His comments inspired the SlutWalks that became an international phenomenon in response to the blaming of victims of sexual assault. Once again women are lectured by men to change their ways because they have been violently assaulted or murdered.

And if that ain’t bad enough, check out this dill! The family of murdered ABC staffer Jill Meagher have been appalled by comments made by a Catholic priest to a Victorian primary school (Benjamin Miller, The Sunday Age, 29 March 2015). The priest is reported as saying that, if Jill Meagher ‘had been more faith filled’, she would have been ‘home in bed and not walking down Brunswick Road at 3am.’ The priest has subsequently apologised ‘for the offence and upset … caused’.

Knees Down Grannies

Chinese authorities have issued ‘regulations and standards’ to control over a million dancing grannies who get together in public spaces for company and exercise. Apparently, younger neighbours are annoyed by the noise the grannies make.

… And the Good News?

Greg Jericho reports the Australian Bureau of Statistics’

six-monthly compendium of gender indicators reveal Australian women are paid less for the work they do, perform more unpaid work and are under-represented on Boards or in senior management jobs (The Guardian, 27 February 2015).

The good news is that women live longer but Girlie can’t help thinking — what’s the point? If you can’t walk or dance in the park, if you have to go to bed and pray to avoid being biffed or murdered, why would you want to live longer?

Girlie Gets on Bottom on Boards

Victoria’s Premier Daniel Andrews gets a big tick from Girlie. He has decreed that half of all future appointments to government boards and the courts must be women. He told the state Labor Conference that it’s time for real action as the number of women holding senior positions had fallen to

36 per cent under the previous Liberal government. Premier Andrews said, ‘I’m sick of walking into meetings and seeing a room full of blokes sitting around the table’. Law Institute President, Katie Miller has expressed her delight but cautions it will take some time for the ‘overdue commitment’ to filter through the courts as judges retire at age 70.

NSW Minister for Women, Pru Goward says she supports having more women on Boards and in Parliament but disputes claims by Claire Braund (Women on Boards CEO) that Liberal governments are bad for women. (Sydney Morning Herald, 19 March 2015). Meredith Burgmann MP also argues that Liberal governments, especially in NSW, have made significant advances in promoting women to high places including Parliament. She said, ‘Each of these women, like me, has fought their way to their positions based on talent, not gender’. Pru added, ‘The Liberal philosophy is, I believe, rightly focused on the talent of the individual — not quotas aimed at reserving positions based on gender’. Someone should point out to her the excellent example set by the first man of the Liberal Party, who has doubled the number of women in Cabinet — to two. Girlie muses: ‘Does this mean the rest of us are talentless wimps?’

Forced Marriages

In March 2015, the Liberal Federal Minister for Justice, Michael Keenan introduced new laws to clarify what constitutes forced marriage (Nick Butterly, The West Australian,19 March 2015). Forced marriage was criminalised in Australia in 2013, and the new laws increase penalties for arranging such marriages from seven to nine years. Because the practice is clandestine, statistics are not available but ‘authorities and welfare agencies believe hundreds of Australian girls are forced into marriage each year’. The Feds have also published a guide for possible victims, giving them tips such as saving police telephone numbers in their phones under secret names so as not to arouse suspicion. The Minister for Justice said, ‘Forced marriages can be prevented and with the right tools we can empower young men and women to protect themselves and their friends and get help when needed’. ‘Hmmm’, ponders sceptical Girlie, while the motivations of the government may be benevolent, and while legal literacy is always a good idea, methinks potential child brides are gonna need a lot more support than this if the practice is to be prevented.

LIBBY RATION is a feminist lawyer.

(2015) 40(2) AltLJ 137
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