The Women’s Human Rights Campaign – Australia/Asia (WHRC) will launch Vortex: The Crisis of Patriarchy in their next webinar . Author Susan Hawthorne will be in conversation with Helen Pringle, Senior Lecturer from the University of New South Wales and Anna Kerr, Principal Solicitor of Feminist Legal Clinic Inc.
Time: 7.00pm – 8.30pm AEDT
Date: Saturday 28th November
Like other aspects of COVID-19, the impact was gendered with a far greater decline among women. There were 86,000 fewer women enrolled to study in May 2020 than in May 2019, compared with just over 21,000 fewer men.
These data remind us caring responsibilities not only affect careers or work-life balance, but also education. The sharp decline in female enrolments over the age of 25 suggests it was likely because of caring responsibilities.
The data also highlight the gendered complexities of COVID-19 on education. Women’s enrolments were disproportionately affected, whereas the data showed significant increases in men over the age of 25 enrolling in university in May 2020 compared with 2019. Male enrolments in this age group increased by about 26,000.
[I]t is sheer caricature to portray the fight over cancel culture as left–right trench warfare.. . .
The case of J.K. Rowling is a good illustration. She is unabashedly a political progressive. Her transgender rhetoric may be acerbic, but the politics are feminist, not conservative. It belongs broadly in the gender-critical school of feminism that sees women’s oppression as anchored in the female body itself, the cultural assumptions that surround it, and how it is “vulnerable in specific ways to sexual violence, such as pregnancy from rape”, as Susanna Rustin put it in The Guardian. This goes back to Simone de Beauvoir, and stands in opposition to the later queer feminism of Judith Butler, which substitutes gender identity – the subjective feeling of being male, female or something in between – for the biology of being female. The attempts to cancel J.K. Rowling are therefore attempts to cancel a particular version of feminism and declare it invalid. The aim is to expel Rowling from the progressive fold in order to set the meanings of progressivism: it is a border war within progressive politics. . . .
[C]ancel culture is the story of a young, socially conscious generation trying desperately to remedy the injustices they see, but having been left with wholly inadequate tools for the job.
If liberalism is about freedom, cancel culture is about power. . . .
But perhaps cancel culture’s most fatal problem is that while it intuits liberalism is insufficient, and seeks to dismantle it, it cannot escape it. In fact, it ends up imbibing several of its basic ideas. This isn’t immediately obvious due to liberalism and woke politics’ opposing focus on individual rights and collective identities, respectively. That seems completely incompatible until you recognise that cancel culture adopts a postmodern version of identity that becomes highly individualistic. So, on gender (though not on race) identity is largely determined by individuals who declare themselves into existence, then require society to recognise them on those terms. That is very different from pre-modern identities, which were overwhelmingly given to people by society, assigning membership of a collective, which came with established roles and obligations to other people.
This problem of using liberalism’s terms to fill the holes in liberalism causes wokeness to stretch these liberal concepts to breaking point. Hence woke politics’ wildly expansionary use of terms such as “harm” and “safety”.
Thus does cancel culture devolve into what moral philosopher Hugh Breakey calls “meta-argument allegations”, which foreclose debates on grounds of harm and safety rather than truth.
MRAs have a pronounced — and unfounded — grievance against family courts, maintaining that they are instinctively biased against men, and designed to undermine their ability to exercise what they see as their rightful power over their children and partners. MRAs obsessively advance the idea that women habitually lie about domestic abuse in order to manipulate the courts.
Astonishingly, over the past three decades an ideological revolution within family courts throughout the West have seen these institutions become more sympathetic to this worldview. In doing so they have perpetuated the violence and torment for countless women and children, and severely damaged their own reputations as ethical and dependable arbiters of disputes. In June, the United Kingdom’s Ministry of Justice issued an extraordinary report that firmly stated its family courts are now refusing to protect children from obviously dangerous fathers. Similar reports could be written in almost all Western capitals.
Gardner’s revolution was built on devising a “theory” that could be used to create suspicion towards any attempts by mothers to report cases of child abuse. Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) has a simple premise; that almost all allegations of child abuse will be false, and the more a mother, or even the child themselves, insists that abuse has occurred, the more this “syndrome” — or brainwashing of a child — is at work. Gardner asserted that this “alienation” was itself a form of child abuse more damaging than any violence. He designed a trap, one that would silence mothers from reporting abuse, or punish them if they did.
Extraordinarily, Gardner’s belief that “alienation” is a form of child abuse more harmful than violence has successfully been able to convince judges that in awarding custody to abusive men they are actually acting in the child’s best interests.
The perverse “genius” of PA’s deception has been the way it backs mothers into a corner, preys on her fears, and turns her maternal instincts to protect her children into a pitfall. The more PA manipulates the justice system to endanger her children, the more desperate a mother becomes.
Due to PA’s dominance of family court proceedings, a “good mother” is now not one who is loving, caring, and responsible towards her children, but instead a mother who actively encourages contact with a father, whether he is violent or not.
With the institutionalisation of PA within family courts, abusive men have successfully been able to weaponise legal proceedings against their children and former partners. The family court has now become an extension of these men’s coercive control, making it almost impossible for women and children to escape from abusive environments.
There is an assertion that a man’s biology carries far greater legal weight than The state is signalling that masculinity doesn’t need to find its dignity in love, kindness, and compassion, and that parenthood — for men — is effectively a neutral concept devoid of any ideals to strive towards.There is an assertion that a man’s biology carries far greater legal weight than his actions.
Overnight, the Law Reform Commission published 44 recommendations for improving consent laws, including changes to the “freeze” response that can occur during attacks and a narrower definition around consent for sexual activity with an intoxicated person. The changes will be considered by government for an official response in 2021.
The commission has also stipulated a “communicative consent” model where a person cannot consent to sex if they do not actually say so.
Legal groups, financial counsellors and domestic violence advocates have warned that the federal government’s plan to loosen lines of credit and remove serious protections for women experiencing economic abuse could escalate financial manipulation.
Removing the laws could also reduce the ability of advocates – including a community lawyer – to assist survivors with debts that have accrued during abusive relationships.
Chief executive of Financial Rights Legal Centre, Karen Cox, said the current lending obligations prescribe important steps that often identify “red flags” in domestic and family abuse. She said it’s an “important” step in identifying and preventing any further violence.
Laura Bianchi, Redfern Legal Centre’s Financial Abuse Service NSW team leader and coordinator of Economic Abuse Reference Group NSW, said its members have grave concerns about the impact of removing lending protections for victim-survivors.
“The wind back of responsible lending obligations will have dire consequences for the people experiencing financial abuse. Coerced debt is a common factor preventing the victim-survivors from leaving a violent relationship and re-establishing their lives,” she said.
As the NSW parliament debates amendments to family violence legislation, new research shows that some victim-survivors are being charged as offenders instead, while children are not being protected.
The NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research reported an increase in the proportion of women being identified as domestic violence offenders from 10 per cent of offenders in 2001 to 18 per cent of offenders in 2012.
Last year, 22 per cent of people against whom there were proceedings for domestic assault in NSW were women.
Women who fight back in a single incident often do so in self-defence and they will admit to doing it. In these instances, they are often charged where their male partner is not.
Under the NSW Crimes Act, police are the only authority that can make the application for children to be listed on a violence order as a protected person. In doing so, they have the power within the Family Law Act to “override, suspend or vary an existing parenting order”.
However, police appear anxious not to contradict Family Court rulings or to deal with their complexity. The report says that “reluctance to do so can be correlated with cultural factors and inherent beliefs surrounding a father’s right to their children”.
Everyone who works with women who have been subjected to domestic abuse, or children who have been subjected to sexual abuse, will know how volatile, unpredictable and misogynistic our family court system can be.
Each year, thousands of women write to me about their terrifying experiences of the family court system. Despite every woman being an individual, and residing everywhere from Essex to Sydney, the story is the same.
Women who report abuse are quickly reframed as crazy, jealous exes
None of them want to be with their ex, but it’s amazing how credible male ex boyfriends and husbands seem to be, when they accuse the woman of being ‘jealous’ that he’s moved on. Mud sticks, and professionals around her soon begin to make comments or write reports which include these inaccurate assumptions.
No one seems to be taking young girls seriously when they disclose sexual abuse
So why are these signs and disclosures from girls being ignored in the family courts? Why are professionals suggesting that girls are making this up, or don’t know what they are talking about? Why are we so sure that she isn’t being abused, that we will continue contact with sexually abusive parents and ignore her disclosures?
Character assassination is par for the course; and no one seems to care
Reports and hearings often become obsessed with the character assassination of the mother – and become less and less focussed on the well-being and disclosures of the children.
There’s a lot of dodgy psychiatry and psychology going on, with no real process to challenge poor practice
It concerns me how many women are diagnosed or labelled with disorders and psychiatric conditions after meeting a psychologist for 2 hours during an assessment. I have read several reports in which women have been labelled, accused and diagnosed after one short interview, whilst they were under severe stress and worrying about their child being abused.
Parental alienation seems to be the trump card for abusive men
It is clear that real parental alienation does happen in some cases – but choosing to stop contact when a child spontaneously discloses serious sexual abuse is surely common sense, and not an act of parental alienation.
One woman I spoke to was threatened by a judge that if she didn’t support contact with her ex husband, (who had convictions for DV and the child was reporting had sexually abused her), that he would award full custody to Dad as a way to punish/control her.
Evidence is not being gathered correctly or quickly enough when children are at risk from abuse
We already know that on average, children disclose 7 times before someone takes it seriously (according to an NSPCC, 2014 study).
[S]ome children who disclose recent rape or sexual abuse have not been referred for tests or examination for several weeks, sometimes as long as two months, by which time all DNA evidence would be gone, and some injuries would arguably have healed.
I have also come across poor practice in which children have disclosed serious sexual abuse, and the way we have dealt with it is to send uniformed officers into their houses, or taken children to police station evidence suites where the child has instantly stopped talking and has refused to speak about anything.
Decades of research evidence is being totally ignored
Research clearly gives us lists of things to look out for in children who might be being sexually abused, and despite many of these signs being present in these cases, children are being ignored.
Research on offenders seems to be being ignored too. Men with previous convictions for sexual abuse or accessing child sexual abuse imagery have been given unsupervised access to children because professionals have argued that his own children are not at risk.
Women need to know that their case was not a one-off. They need to know that they are not to blame, and that they are one of thousands of women who have been labelled and gaslit in the family court system. So many women contact me to talk about their cases and experiences, and they have no idea that this happens to other women, too.
Attorney-General Vickie Chapman says the legislation involves a new, highly regulated, medical model that will govern the termination of pregnancies.
“Our proposal removes abortion entirely from the criminal law, a move that would bring us in line with all other Australian states and territories,” Ms Chapman said on Wednesday.
The bill will be subject to a conscience vote of MPs in both the upper house and in the House of Assembly.