Archive | Politics RSS feed for this section

Farewell Australia’s First Female Prime Minister

27 Jun

Last night, after another leadership challenge, Julia Gillard, Australia’s first female Prime Minister, was outsted as Prime Minister and the leader of the Australian Labor Party. I personally think this is a shame and a step backwards for women in politics. Yes, Julia became Prime Minister in a takeover coup when she outsted Kevin Rudd. But her leadership was plagued by leadership challenges and speculation. I heard on the ABC news last night a query – ‘would there have been so many leadership challenges if it had been a male politician in power?’ Does this whole leadership fight indicate something deeper about women in politics in Australia? Following the sacking of radio ‘shock-jock’ Howard Sadler over asking if Julia’s partner was gay, I wondered if the same question would have been asked of a male Prime Minister. Julia’s fashion sense, hairstyle, hair colour, diction and accent has been scrutinised by the media and the public. This doesn’t indicate respect.

For me, Julia Gillard as Prime Minister symbolised that women share an equal role in society and are more than capable of being the leader of a country. I support some of the major policy changes she made while in power. However, I agree with a comment (I actually can’t remember who made the comment – perhaps a member of the Australian Greens are a marriage equality campaigner) I heard last year after the push for marriage equality in the Australian parliament – Julia could have really made her mark in Australian politics by standing up for marriage equality and voting for the bill in parliament. This would have been especially important as the Australian Labor Party had at the party’s national conference voted to support marriage equality, and the fact that a large portion of the Australian public supports marriage equality. Shame to see that Julia didn’t support marriage equality, especially too when one of her cabinet members was an openly gay woman raising a child with her partner.

Perhaps with Kevin Rudd now in the role of Primer Minister, we may see a change in the marriage equality debate. I heard this speculated on the ABC radio news this morning. Kevin Rudd recently announced that he now supports marriage equality. Interesting…….

20130627-072423.jpg (Source – http://www.pm.gov.au/your-pm)

Advertisements

The 1790’s – a Fascination

28 May

As a history buff I am interested in particular eras and periods in history, more specifically society, culture, politics, and fashion from these different eras. I am rather fascinated by the 1790’s, primarily the years between 1790 and 1795, but also reaching to 1799 and to the early 1800’s.

Events / philosophies / fashions / socio-cultural aspects

The French Revolution
– The politics
– The concept of Liberty, Fraternity and Equality
– The concept of a republic
– Revolutionary and Republic symbolism – red, white and blue tricolor flag & cockade, Phrygian cap, Liberty, nature etc
– Removing the importance of the church and Christian beliefs and replacing these with more classical and nature based beliefs and forms of worship
– The role of women in the revolution including female revolutionaries advocating the rights of women and women actively fighting in the revolution
– The revolutionary calendar
– Revolutionary fashion, including the use of red, white and blue ribbons (showing support for the revolution / republic) and the rejection of symbols of the ancien regime such as elaborate dress and hairstyles and emphasis on more classical and natural lines and hairstyles,

Feminism / Feminist Thought / Advocacy of the Rights of Women

Cross Dressing Women / Female Soldiers

Lesbian Sexuality / Romantic Friendships

Female Novelists
I am interested in the female novelists of the time, and the fact that writing and publishing novels was an accepted (if marginally) pursuit for women
– Female Writers & Novelists – Mary Wollenstencraft, Jane Austen, Fanny Burney, Anne Radcliffe
– Gothic novels and the gothic / horror / heroines that characterised this gene – almost contrasting to the image of gentility and domestic worlds written about by Jane Austen (except in Northanger Abbey which is a sort of parody of gothic novels)

European Women in India

A Talk with Merle Thornton – An Australian Feminist Legend!

23 May

As part of Diversity Week (a celebration of different cultures, art and issues) at the large university I work at, I had a wonderful opportunity to listen to a talk given by a famous Australian feminist and activist, Merle Thornton.

Merle came along to discuss her involvement in the establishment of the gender studies (at the time ‘women’s studies’) major at the university in 1973, the first of its kind in Australia. She also spoke about her life story, particularly her early career in the male dominated public service in the 1950’s and 1960’s, and significantly her famous and influential activist activities. Merle and Rosalie Bogner changed themselves to the public bar in the Regatta Hotel (a famous historic pub in Brisbane, Queensland) in 1965 in protest of the law banning women from public bars. As Merle said today, these were not men’s bars or private bars, these were public bars, and women were not allowed in these areas, let alone have a drink. Following this Merle was appointed president of a newly established feminist group and tackled another massive issue, a law requiring female public servants to resign when they married. Merle said it took eighteen months, but they won with a law passed in parliament amending the act and also introducing maternity leave.

She is such an inspirational female activist and I feel privileged that I had a chance to hear her talk in person. The protest at the Regatta Hotel basically started the women’s liberation movement in Brisbane (Trove – National Library of Australia). As the National Library describes it, a defining moment in the feminist movement in Australia.

References –
http://trove.nla.gov.au/people/765073?c=people
http://www.uq.edu.au/news/?article=22774

20130523-183930.jpg (Source – Queensland Department of Communities – http://www.communities.qld.gov.au/q150-women/1960/index.shtml#item-public-bars)

Know Your Rights

26 Apr

One of my favourite songs by the British punk band The Clash is ‘Know Your Rights.’ A fantastic song discussing the civil rights (and lack there of) of citizens. Rather punk!!

Know Your Rights
Songwriters: HEADON, TOPPER / JONES, MICK / SIMONON, PAUL / STRUMMER, JOE

This is a public service announcement
With guitar
Know your rights all 3 of them
I say
Number 1: You have the right not to be killed
Murder is a CRIME!
Unless it was done by a
Policeman or aristocrat
Number 2: You have the right to food money
Providing of course you
Don’t mind a little
Humiliation, investigation
And if you cross your fingers
Rehabilitation
Wang! Young offenders! Know your rights
Number 3: You have the right to freeeee
Speech as long as you’re not
Dumb enough to actually try it.
Know your rights
These are your rights
All 3 of ’em
It has been suggested
In some quarters that this is not enough!
Well…………………………
Get off the streets
Get off the streets
Run
You don’t have a home to go to
Smush
Finally then I will readd you your rights
You have the right to remain silent
You are warned that anything you say
Can and will be taken down
And used as evidence against you
Listen to this
Run

Source –
http://www.lyricsfreak.com/c/clash/know+your+rights_20031891.html

20130426-070841.jpg

At The Drive In

26 Apr

In the early 2000’s, my younger brother introduced me to post-hardcore Texan band At The Drive In and their album Relationship of Command. The music and style was different, powerful, energetic, chaotic, arty. I loved the energy and the political and societal commentary in their songs. It spoke to my punk leanings. There was a sense of frustration and aggressive opinion, and to me it seemed like dissatisfaction with American society (or perhaps not).

The album and the band’s music and philosophy spoke to me. If I was angry or frustrated and I would put on this album and let out my emotions. Video clips for some of the singles from the album, One Armed Scissor and Pattern Against User showed shots of New York City (a place I had wanted to visit for years), driving across the USA, subcultures, violence and societal issues; and the band performing at festivals. These clips spoke to me. And when I travelled to the USA (to New York, Washington, Chicago and Michigan) in 2003 I took this album with me. And I loved the artwork on the album and the bands stickers (I had a black, red and yellow sticker with the word ‘atencion’ on my CD case).

I haven’t listened to this album for a while. I am going to look it out and listen to it.

20130426-062327.jpg

20130426-065959.jpg

Political / Protest Songs

23 Apr

When I was growing up in the early to mid 1990’s I listened to a diverse selection of music – mainstream rock, some pop (admittedly more when I was thirteen and fourteen), bands / musicians from the 1960’s, 1970’s and the 1980’s such as Pink Floyd, Simon and Garfunkel, Bob Dylan, Billy Joel, The Clash, The Police, Australian Crawl, Midnight Oil, Cold Chisel, Led Zeppelin etc; and a selection of movie soundtracks.I listened to a lot of mainstream commercial radio and did like a lot of mainstream bands and artists that I would be loathe to admit to now.

But combined with that, I also had a great love (taping songs and buying greatest hits albums) and affinity with bands / musicians from other eras. Something spoke to me and I imagined what it had been like to live in that era and what historical and societal changes were taking place at that time. I have had an interest in news, politics and history from an early age. And growing up in my family with its left wing, accepting, hippie-ish leanings, it was no wonder I developed a passion for bands that spoke out, in the form of songs or active protest, against injustice, war, environmental destruction, human and civil rights and conservative politics.

The most significant bands that sung political / protest songs for me were The Clash and Midnight Oil. Other bands such a The Police, Cold Chisel and Goanna sung songs that made reference to political struggles (such as the Troubles in Northern Ireland (Omegaman by The Police) and indigenous rights (Solid Rock by Goanna) or cultural / societal changes (such as returning Vietnam veterans (Khe San by Cold Chisel) and demolition of historic buildings (Astrid Goodbye by Cold Chisel).

So many of The Clash’s songs spoke to my left wing beliefs (and simple belief in civil rights) along with their punk and socialist philosophy. Songs that influenced me, shaped my beliefs, and spoke about political and societal topics include –
– Know Your Rights
– Guns of Brixton
– The Call Up
– Straight to Hell
– Remote Control
– Rock the Casbah

There were many Midnight Oil songs that spoke to me and my political and environmental beliefs. For those that don’t know the band, Midnight Oil was an Australian rock band active from the late 1970’s to the early 2000’s. The band wrote many songs that addressed topics as diverse as indigenous (Australian Aboriginal) rights and injustices, environmental destruction, support for anti-nuclear protest, the plight of asbestos workers, opposition to US military intervention in other country’s affairs, and many more. Songs include –
– Beds Are Burning
– Blue Sky Mining
– US Forces
– Truginini
– Forgotten Years
– Short Memory
– Dreamworld

For me, bands and singers performing songs that protest current political and societal issues speaks volumes to me. These bands and singers are voicing my opinion and shouting it loud and clear to thousands of people. They speak for the people who support these ideas.

Links / References –
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Midnight_Oil

20130424-072742.jpg Single Artwork (Source – Wikipedia entry on Know Your Rights)

Joe Strummer – An Inspiration & Idol

23 Apr

While writing some of my recent posts on songs by The Clash – Know Your Rights,Career Opportunities, protest songs – Political / Protest Songs and Margaret Thatcher – Margaret Thatcher’s Death and a bit of Punk Music, I was thinking about Joe Strummer, the lead singer and rhythm guitarist for The Clash. For me he is a great inspiration and an idol. His political beliefs (socialism, anti-racism, anti-war, environmentalism etc) speaks to me in volumes. And the lyrics of The Clash songs resonate with me. He sounds like a great guy who is not afraid to talk / sing / actively protest for things he believes in or disapproves of. Well enough of that gushing……. I am just totally inspired.

20130424-172951.jpg

20130424-173002.jpg
(Source – The Legend Joe Strummer Facebook page – http://www.facebook/TLJOESTRUMMER)