Brutality is happening now
Helen Razer has been “broadcasting and writing her way into disagreement of various scales” over the course of 20 years, a tradition she continues in her misguided review of TV series The Handmaid’s Tale (“Hood winked”, June 30–July 6). Her central tenet, that The Handmaid’s Tale is more “a cover for the pleasure of violence”, is founded on the false premise that the rape scenes are “frequent, vivid” and “intended not to provoke our feminist thought, but our masochistic female pleasure”. She even dares her sisters to challenge her contention that the rape scenes nourish a distorted “white liberal feminist fantasy” by suggesting that to think otherwise is to admit to being sexually repressed. Undoubtedly, the brutal rape of the nine months pregnant Offred is deeply disturbing, and very hard to watch, but the most unsettling and distressing scenes, in both series, are focused on individual loss of agency, both male and female, in every aspect of life under a corrupt and repressive regime. Systematised brutality has happened, can happen and is happening to members of comfortable, privileged societies across the world and throughout history. The dystopian world of Gilead, created by Margaret Atwood and imagined by the Hulu series, reflects this hard fact while consciously seeking to avoid “misrepresenting the human potential for deplorable behaviour”. Rather than a scoop of reiterated feminist reviews, a closer reading of both the original text and the series might have produced a more interesting critique.
– Lesley Milne, Beechworth, Vic
Albo’s not having a go
Yet another claim that Anthony Albanese’s speech was anti-Shorten and a run for his own leadership (Paul Bongiorno, “Burrowing under the Abbott-proof fence”, July 7–13). The speech was sent to Bill Shorten’s office; two changes were suggested and adopted. You have to do more than “read between the lines” as Bongiorno suggests, you have to put a whole mini-series in the white spaces to come to the accepted conclusions of many of the media pundits. It even requires omitting lines in quotes including “Labor doesn’t have to agree with business on issues such as company tax rates” to keep a media beat-up going.
– Graeme Finn, St Peters, NSW
The right to abuse
Michaelia Cash proved this year that accusations about Opposition private lives is not confined to accusing women (Karen Middleton, “Cash bucks”, March 3–9). However, this was an anomaly. Women, by far, are more the subjects of such slurs (Karen Middleton, “It’s gotten worse ... They think it’s funny”, July 7–13). The all-time low was Tony Abbott’s photo opportunity in front of a plethora of nasty, denigrating signs about Julia Gillard. Senator David Leyonhjelm’s latest unapologetic foray into misogynistic scumbaggery just adds to the evidence that Australia’s right-wing representatives make a habit of disrespecting women, and the further right, the worse that disrespect is. One can only hope Australian women are getting the message that too many men at this end of the political spectrum uphold the double standards of slurring women about their private lives. It is time to name and shame all of the parliamentarians who castigate women in this way, and punish them through the ballot box. Perhaps then we will be able to return parliament to a place of mutual respect for both sexes.
– Joy Ringrose, Pomona, Qld
Statistics tell the story
Senator Leyonhjelm says he is calling out misandry. He says it is an equal sin to misogyny and, philosophically, that may be so. But how many targets of misandry end up dead? In the real world, senator, victims of misogyny are killed weekly.
– Vincent O’Donnell, Ascot Vale, Vic
Truth is a defence
There is no such offence (as far as I know) as perverting the purpose of justice: but there should be. The prosecution of Bernard Collaery and Witness K is a perversion of justice in its deepest essence (Mike Seccombe, “The dark politics of the Timor spy case”, July 7–13). If justice is not founded on the absolute primacy of truth, then it is a mere thing of law at the whim of governments. In a vigorous democracy there would be a constitutional check against such abuse of power by government. The two-party system proves inadequate to the task. Under the overused rubric of “national security”, Australia degenerates into a LibLab, one-party state. Ultimately, as is ever the case, democracy can only be defended by a people prepared to put themselves at risk. Bernard Collaery and Witness K are showing the way and should not be left to resist alone.
– Adrian Gattenhof, Nunderi, NSW
Pushed into poverty
It is extremely difficult for Australians, brought up speaking English and familiar with the environment, to obtain a job. How difficult is it for asylum seekers with uncertain English, no real assistance in finding a job and, until now, forbidden from finding employment? (Martin McKenzie-Murray, “Onshore attention”, July 7–13). The Minister for Home Affairs, Peter Dutton, has abruptly withdrawn all financial support to some asylum seekers in Australia. These people, formerly on a meagre allowance, will be reduced to complete destitution. No money for rent, for food or other necessities. The aim is obviously to increase the suffering for asylum seekers who have already endured persecution and have legally sought refuge here. Is the plan to drive them back to the horrors from which they fled? The cruelty of Peter Dutton and the Department of Home Affairs knows no bounds.
– Gael Barrett, Balwyn North, Vic
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This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on July 14, 2018.
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