A project for the Decents

Predictably, I guess, Pamela Bone’s question to Germaine Greer on behalf of ALL DECENT LEFTIES EVERYWHERE (discussed in this post from me and by Helen at the Balcony) didn’t just get play on Andrew Bolt’s blog, but also resulted in… (drum roll) the inevitable op/ed!!!

It’s a particularly poorly argued piece, even by Bone’s standards. I invite you to consider her admission that her point really wasn’t relevant, and then the strange segue into “but what about Mia Farrow!”… But perhaps the best way of refuting the antipodean Eustonistas is to turn their logic around on themselves. Have a read of this post from Vanessa at Feministing about Iranian feminist activists being arrested, detained and harrassed. Then go here and offer some support for their freedom and their cause. And then ask yourself what Bone is on about with this:

Muslim feminist groups such as Women Living Under Muslim Laws are raising their voices against the misogyny of sharia laws but, with some honourable exceptions, there is no rallying by Western liberals against the gender apartheid under which women in large parts of the Islamic world live, as there was against racial apartheid in South Africa.

If you can step out of Bone’s worldview of emotion and conspicuous compassion (and let’s give her the benefit of the doubt and assume that she really is serious about these issues and doesn’t just raise them to kick the INDECENT LEFT around… a benefit I wouldn’t give to Bolt and other feminists of convenience) and actually think rationally for a moment, it should be blindingly obvious that the way in which support is expressed and campaigning has done has changed since the 70s and 80s – a lot of it is happening on the web. Note that the “crime” for which Jelveh Javaheri was arrested was creating a website to advocate for women’s rights in Iran and note further the dissemination of her views via both that site and blogs run by “Western feminists” who are organising action to free her – if not through the tried and true method of “marching in the streets” which Bone appears to regard as the only yardstick of activism. As Darlene put it on the earlier thread, if you want to know what Western feminists are doing about women’s rights in the Islamic world, just google.

Or you could stay within Bone’s dumbassed paradigm and ask her why she’s not marching in the streets to free Jelveh Javaheri or writing an op/ed about it. After all, the report to which Feministing links was from the Fairfax newspapers, so there’s a reasonable chance Bone would have seen it – concerned as she is about these issues. See what a stupid question that is? Well, that’s the entire logic of Bone and her pals’ loud condemnation of teh Western feminism.

Posted in activism, blogosphere, feminism, media, Middle East, religion
62 comments on “A project for the Decents
  1. matilda says:

    When Bone first started writing on the plight of women in Africa – before she became a feminist-basher – it gave me the irrits that she would offer commentary as if she was an expert. I mean, it’s not like she’s actually lived in any of these places. She seems to make flying visits. And frankly, as someone who’s spent years living in Asian countries, that Western colonial mindset still irks me. Australians don’t like it when foreigners pontificate on Oz culture after a two week whirl around the joint yet we accept the snapshot journalism of those who are ostensibly ‘brave’ enough to visit exotic flashpoints and pontificate on what they’ve seen.

    It’s great that Bone’s been to refugee camps in war-torn areas and i realise her health probably doesn’t permit much travelling now, but my point still stands.

    And why does she always go the western feminists instead of aiming her critique firmly at the governments that sanction the abuse in the first place? So many hotbeds of human rights violations are supported by the US. Pakistan for one has a shocking record of permitting abuse and murder of its female citizens.

  2. Jack Strocchi says:

    Bone correctly identifies one of the functional requirements for modernity which is institutional protection for female autonomy. This is sort of a Left wing ideal since females are lower status than males in most places for most of the time. So you would think that most Leftists would agree with Bone’s application of this ideological principle to countries of the colored “South“.

    But hell will freeze over before Kim admits there is a fundamental contradiction b/w her diversity at all costs philosophy and civilized values. So you wont hear a plaintive peep from her or her leftist soul buddies like Ken Livingstone about the barbaric practices of antediluvian patriarchs inflicting misery and oppression on ethnic women within our jurisdiction.

  3. Anna Winter says:

    This is all well and good, Kimberella, but I’m a little busy making all my daughters learn how to pole-dance.

  4. mbahnisch says:

    So you wont hear a plaintive peep from her or her leftist soul buddies like Ken Livingstone about the barbaric practices of antediluvian patriarchs inflicting misery and oppression on ethnic women within our jurisdiction.

    Most of whom exist only in the parallel world of the Strocchiverse.

    No idea what Ken Livingstone has to do with anything.

  5. matilda says:

    To Jack, i would say Kimbarella’s piece is not in anyway an apology for’ barbaric practices of antediluvian patriarchs inflicting misery and oppression on ethnic women within our jurisdiction’. Surely, if you’ve read it you can fathom that she’s not advocating cultural relativism, which seems to be what you’re claiming. She is simply and clearly making the point that Western feminists are busy on the net, that the streets is not the only place to get your voice heard. Where are we right now Jack?

  6. Foucault A Go Go says:

    There is no doubt that Sep.11 has provoked a split in the western feminist movement. My take is that the split is largely a result of the residual influence of broader international socialist ideology that the women’s movement increasingly allied itself from the 1970s onwards. Clearly, post Sep. 11, feminists like Pamela Bone reject the broader socialist left. A knock on effect has been to collide with those feminists who still cleave to that socialist vision including a passionate rejection of the so-called War on Terror, as it is just another egregious example of western, racist (in this case Islamophobic) imperialism.

    I have always been a bit wary of claims of any natural fit between international socialism and feminism as I have always seen socialism as essentially a white bourgeois patriarchal ideology.

    While I can sympathise with the Bone-Euston feminists, I also empathise with the traditional anti-imperialism feminist’s critique of the Bone-Eustonists.

    Conundrum: Whose side am I on? I am going to plead the fifth here, and remain an engaged spectator! 🙂

  7. kimberella says:

    From my point of view, as someone who came to feminism at uni in the 90s, there wasn’t much evidence of socialist feminism around as an active current – some older academics maybe, and the socialist groupuscules used to claim that they supported feminism but then we’d hear lots of “class is more important” stuff from women involved in them. I think contemporary Australian feminism draws on both liberal and radical feminist currents, and perhaps on socialist feminism to a degree insofar as it incorporates structural and sociological analyses.

    So I suspect that Bone is fighting wars long since passed into history – as is indicated as well by her apparent incomprehension that anything can be going on if there isn’t a rally or a march.

  8. Paul Burns says:

    Socialism is not as prescriptive as has been suggested. I’m as very active Socialist and I mix and meet with Socialists from all over Australia, all over the world really.I’m currently correspondi9ng with some one attending the present Socialist International in Europe.
    My point is, my wide experience of Socialists is thery are equally concerned with issues of race, gender, international justice, green issues, etyc, etc, as well as issues of class.
    In regard to Darfur – it is a dreadful war and its victims are men, women and children, all victims of a variety of war crimes, rape among them.Its magnificent that there is great international pressure being brought to bear to bring an end to this ghastly conflict.
    Re Pamela Bone – I’d never heard of her until I read of her at the Jane Austen conference. I think her question was out of place at that venue, and thast she was actually gqwite rude and ignorant and did little to help her advocacy for the victims of Darfur.

  9. hc says:

    The girl from Qatif was sentenced to 200 lashes only a short time ago – the sentence if carried out might kill her. It isn’t history that Bone is pointing too but the utter hypocrisy of feminist women on the left in disregarding the Islamic treatment of women.

    Better to attack US policy in Iraq.

    BTW where is that charmer Kim these days? She takes feminist viciousness to new heights. We need another post on the case for disregarding views of Islamic women who has had their genitals cut out.

    Unlike Kim you see, such women are prejudiced.

  10. kimberella says:

    Paul, I was referring to members of university socialist groups I met in the early 90s when I was a student. I shouldn’t be taken as making any claim about socialists generally.

    I think her question was out of place at that venue, and thast she was actually gqwite rude and ignorant and did little to help her advocacy for the victims of Darfur.

    Indeed. It’s very hard to see how it does anything for women in Darfur to ask disingenous questions of Germaine Greer at a conference on Jane Austen. Nor does Bone, who has access to the op/ed pages in the Australian and The Age, actually write about their plight but rather about “Western feminists” allegedly ignoring it. She could well ask herself whether she could do more for the ostensible objects of her concern by bringing their plight to a broad Australian audience, and suggesting practical ways of helping, rather than using their suffering as a foil to attack her political opponents.

    BTW where is that charmer Kim these days? She takes feminist viciousness to new heights.

    Oh dear, some people aren’t responding to the defeat of Howard all that well are they? It’s me, Harry, as you might have realised if you demonstrated the basic reading skills I’m sure you possess. As to the rest of your comment, let me quote you in another context:

    You are showing your own prejudices and your own inability to argue a case when you resort to such language.

    Tu quoque!


  11. Pavlov's Cat says:

    What are we to make of this piece by Bone, dated 1994, in which we discover that it is actually all about men?

    Bone appears to have been maintaining her rage about other people’s genitals for a very long time. I found it the article because I was present at the Greer lecture (which was an exemplary literary lecture, exactly what she had been asked to deliver), and was so weirded out — not so much by Bone’s actual question as by her febrile and accusatory tone and demeanour — that I went away and Googled ‘Pamela Bone Germaine Greer’ and found that Bone has been hammering away like a demented woodpecker at Greer for years. Either it’s a resentful stalking of the tall poppy, or it’s personal.

    Bone’s phrase ‘just because she wrote a book 40 years ago’, which completely ignores both the immeasurable importance of said book and Greer’s many books since — all of which are feminist analysis, of everything from menopause to Shakespeare’s wife — indicates either wilful disingenuousness or staggering ignorance.

  12. Bill Posters says:

    It isn’t history that Bone is pointing too but the utter hypocrisy of feminist women on the left in disregarding the Islamic treatment of women.

    …an “utter hypocrisy” that is her own fabrication, as even a very superficial google will show.

  13. kimberella says:

    Either it’s a resentful stalking of the tall poppy, or it’s personal.

    Thanks, Dr Cat, that’s very interesting. So Greer wasn’t a randomly chosen target for Bone’s weird questions (I’m assuming she doesn’t front at every event where a prominent feminist is speaking and start her “what about Darfur” schtick…) Whichever it is, she now has a convenient political peg from which to hang her spleen. That is, until editors wake up to the fact that teh Western feminists are doing something about the stuff that we’re loudly condemned for not loudly condemning (enough)… one lives in hope.

  14. tigtog says:

    PavCat, that piece by Bone doesn’t even make sense when it purports an equivalence between the circumcision of male infants and FGM. FGM is generally performed on girls showing the first signs of puberty, not on infant girls. I’m not arguing against the abhorrence of it no matter what the age or sex, but it hurts her argument against the practice if she doesn’t get basic facts correct.

  15. Pavlov's Cat says:

    I wish I didn’t need to spell out that I am against female genital mutilation and I denounce it loudly. But I do need to, I know.

    Kim, I’m guessing that Bone’s preoccupation with F (and M) GM may have come first, but as you can see from this link (below), she personalised it early on. For all I know she does attack other high-profile western feminists along similar lines, but there’s clearly some kind of obsession with Greer in particular.

    TT, indeed. I’m not sure Bone is a very logical thinker. Either that or she simply elides (rather than twists; it’s an interesting variation on spin in general) things that don’t suit her argument.

    Meanwhile, here you go. Same schtick, different year.

  16. philiptravers says:

    If anyone who has had their thoughts printed here,can tell me, they by virtue of their writings and who they are and support are making any difference,I just dont know and cannot find out.But,Pamela Bone is a moron,even the evidence that Hilary Clinton,had some effect on the Saudis,is a very limited prospect,and the Saudis are not capitulating to Hilary,but maybe something more worthwhile,a sort of embarassment about their attitudes,and knowing perhaps,some in Saudi Arabia may see Hilary as something to aspire to,but not that unfortunate woman!?Hilary is not a person I would trust in government,too many murders around the scenes for that.And why would the Iranians want to cave in to her interests on anything,even on a day to day basis getting a taxi implies changing how they dress as men of religion!?Pamela Bone remains a moron,and it will remain the casethat the more religiously conservative elements in Iran and elsewhere,will have a change of heart for real reasons,and not the feminism from the United States that is of a type,where men do not vote,and will not vote for Hilary,and they see this feminism as an excuse,the useby date has long passed.And that will be the reason why the Saudis will or have changed their minds,because America full of men that will not let convenient conservative feminism use them,are the same men who are not frightened of feminism at all,and will probably encourage it.[ And the Saudis will find those type of men easier world citizens to deal with because they will not accept crap coming from Israel,so less tensions all round.]That is allowing women their rightful place,wether in a religiously accepted modern sense,or the humanist ethicist acceptance of the obvious intelligence and value including work that women do.Not the top heavy approach of ex-wife in public of the Preez with the interns,and the frightened FBI. and what it may know of her and her husband,one price for two Clintons!The Iranian clerics seem somewhat friendlier to me,because in their religious garb,they cannot always get a taxi.And are there women drivers of such.Maybe, they would pick up the Clerics out of fairness rather than empowerment,and the taxi fee.And you could put it to the Clerics what about letting them wear clothing that meets the needs and occupational hazards of such a occupation…as a balancing act.After all the Clerics cannot waste time on this planet either,better to encourage acceptance.

  17. kimberella says:

    Oh dear again! Yes, I see what you mean, Dr Cat, having now followed the links.

    Is it fair to criticise someone for not using a speech to talk about the things you would have talked about? Perhaps not. But consider: we are close to the first anniversary of an event that shook the world. America seems intent on bombing Iraq. Serious scholars are debating whether or not there is a global clash of civilisations. Moreover, and importantly in this context, the September 11 attack on the World Trade Centre was planned and executed by people who hated the West, as much as anything else, for the fact of women’s equality.

    Same stuff! Poor Germaine!

    Guy Rundle summed up why you get all emotion and no logic from the Eustonistas, and he regards the Australian crew as pretty inferior to the original:


    Around the time of the second Johns Hopkins study, most of the Right started to desert the Iraq cause, especially in the US. Right-wingers could, after all, damn the execution of the war, and even confess to hubris; they could resort to the conservative tradition of realpolitik, sadder but wiser.
    For Bone and the pro-war Left, such options weren’t available. They had established new identities through the ‘military humanitarian’ crusade; any acknowledgement of how much they’d damaged those they purported to help would have thrown their political personalities into turmoil.
    In assessing the moral emptiness of such people, it should be remembered that the decision to bomb or not to bomb someone in the name of their own best interests is not a symmetrical choice.
    The weight of evidence must be overwhelming before such a course could even be contemplated. If a military intervention is undertaken purely because one estimates that the violence done will be numerically less than the violence which might otherwise have occurred, the effect is to deny the agency of those one purports to help and the worth of their individual humanity, as British philosopher Bernard Williams has argued.
    Advocating ‘humanitarian’ war but ducking responsibility for unintended consequences is a deeply corrupting process. Not surprisingly, the pro-war Left responded to the failure of their project by blaming the anti-war movement for being right about the outcome but for the wrong reasons.

    Emphasis is mine.

    Whole thing is worth a read.

  18. At the risk of appearing crude and reductionist…the point is surely that Bone has based her intervention around these issues on providing a “feminist” apologia for the GWOT and the invasion of Iraq. These are projects arranged by the “feminist” Republican administration allied to the Wahabist “feminists” of Saudi Arabia and the “they’re feminists because they must be better than the Taliban even though they have a predilection for rape and are also fundamentalists” Northern Alliance. Now she is talking about Darfur – because that is the latest candidate for “intervention”.
    What does she want? Action (of course). Intervention (of course). Maybe in her head she dreams of a sort of feminist kick-ass enlightened imperialism in which commandos enlightened by compulsorary women’s studies courses will rescue the southern Sudanese from obscurantist edicts. What would transpire of course would be the usual – bombing etc. AND THE ETC IS GENDER BLIND. It kills women as well. But women, to the liker of Bone, are an abstraction. And if their wearing the veil….they need to be forced to be free. The difference is that Rousseau never dreamed of the genocidal means of enforcement at the disposal of the imperial enforcers Bone is so keen to apologise for (or in the case of Darfur, egg on).

  19. kimberella says:

    Yep that’s right, Robert, I think – see also what Rundle had to say.

  20. Pamela Bone has recognized that her support for Operation OIL etc was wrong and she is receiving heavy chemo for what looks like a terminal condition. As such – and in light of that inconvenient truth that the Islamofash* are actually winning at teh moment – I would cut her some slack, as sexism is just as bad as racism…or classism come to think of it. ( When ‘working class’ bourgeois shits are busy massacring poor peasant men, women and children en-masse as they did in Russia, China and Cambodia in the past and are doing in North Korea today, thats class war, Marxist style) The vast democratic and libertarian socialist left could do itself a big favor by rejecting red fascism imho. Just my 2c.

    * Jihad good – Sharia, very, very bad.

  21. tigtog says:

    Professor Rat, your mention of Bone’s probably terminal condition, about which I had forgotten, does inspire some sadness in me, but not necessarily of the sort to “cut her some slack” here.

    I can’t help but wonder what sort of ordering of priorities is it for someone undergoing chemo to sit through a lecture on literature in which she had no interest, just to ask a non sequitur culture-warrior question of the speaker, knowing that the entire rest of the audience would resent her for breaking the mood, when she could have been spending a pleasant evening with her family instead?

    Bone’s current serious illness doesn’t account for what she wrote years ago along the same lines, as shown in the links supplied by Dr Cat. No matter how much I pity anyone needing to undergo it, chemo doesn’t appear to be the cause for her predilection for woolly thinking on this pet bugbear of hers.

  22. Katz says:

    Guy Rundle’s piece is very impressive. He nails both the moral vacuity and the impracticality of the “military humanitarian” left.

    Bone’s fixation on the alleged inadequacy of western feminists’ responses to the plight of women under Islam is a fine case study in the moral and intellectual lapses of the MHL.

    Beyond that, Bone’s behaviour towards Greer over an extended period of time suggests that Bone has some personal issues that she is acting out, using Greer as a talisman for her sense of hurt, failure, lack of recognition, mediocrity, ineffectuality, or whatever.

    But presuming that Bone’s argument can at least be understood without reference to the emotions that conjured it up, Bone has fallen far short of establishing a case that would be acceptable by her own lights.

    Any argument along the lines that “X has done insufficient in the cause of Y” requires the arguer to establish some broad success conditions. This formulation would go something like:

    “I’d be satisfied with the efforts of X in the cause of Y were they to do actions A, B, and C.”

    If Bone had made such a set of demands of western feminists in their campaigns against Muslims’ oppression of women, then the world would be able to see:

    1. Whether Bone actually knows what western feminists are already doing.

    2. Whether Bone has any realistic understanding of what western feminists are capable of doing.(For example, it seems unlikely that westrn feminists would be capable of mounting a shock and awe bombing campaign aimed at regime change in Islamic states).

    3. And perhaps most tellingly, whether Bone wants to establish these success conditions in the first place. For it can be argued that Bone’s sense of self-worth, her raison d’etre, depends upon the failure of western feminists to meet Bone’s standards.

  23. John Greenfield says:


    Robert Bollard’s post is precisely the type of ideology I was referring to above. Nowadays it is overwhelmingly men who insist on this natural alliance between feminism and international socialism. But they would insist on that, wouldn’t they? 😉

  24. Pavlov's Cat says:

    Katz, from what she said on the night, Bone seemed to think that Greer should be in Darfur, ‘interviewing raped women’.

    Yes, she is very ill, and watching her the other night I think she is utterly sincere and what motivates her is genuine passion and indignation. If anyone has read Charlotte Wood’s novel The Children (about a journalist, frequenter of international trouble spots, who flies home to her parents’ place in country NSW for a family crisis and who is damaged by what she has seen, has the teeve on constantly to watch the international news, and rails angrily at her family about not caring enough), that’s what it reminded me of.

    I think a personal attack on someone in that state of health (or at all) is a bad idea, and prof rat’s excellent point about what chemo and the various analgesic cocktails do to your brain is well taken, as I’m currently watching an awful case of it among my own friends. But I don’t think the bloke in question would want to be intellectually coddled, and would certainly expect to be held responsible for things he said before he got sick. Not, it must be said, that he would care very much.

  25. Paul Burns says:

    have a terminal mesastizising cancer – i.e one which has progressed to the stage it can only be slowed but cannot be cured. Fortunately, at this stage it is relatively painless and with the medication I’m on, despite the terminal nature of the illness, unless something suddenly goes horribly wrong, I can expect to live for years yet, literally.
    As I said above, I don’t agree with Bone’s intolerable rudeness in asking a question which,was irrelevant in the context of a literary conference, and, as more information comes out on this thread, appears to have been little more than a veiled personal attack on Germaine Greer.
    One of the effects of being diagnosed with a personal disease is that you feel you have to say and do all the things you haven’t yet done, and this becomes very important to you, as you have a perpetual sense of time slipping by.There are other quite wierd mental effects, mostly positive, which I won’t go into, as they’re not relevant to this topic. It woulds appear Bone may have unfinished business, embracing Germaine Greer, and probably a lot of other people, and she’s trying to complete this before her death. This is a very strong impulse when you know you’re slowly dying. Time and place don’t matter.While I’m sympathetic to her illness and what it makes her do, its still no excuse for bad manners.

  26. Katz says:

    Katz, from what she said on the night, Bone seemed to think that Greer should be in Darfur, ‘interviewing raped women’.

    Indeed PC.

    But how many and over what period of time would be sufficient by Bone’s lights?

    And then there’s the questions that should be asked…

  27. Pavlov's Cat says:

    Paul, I am very sorry to hear it, and very glad there’s no pain involved for you. I take your point absolutely about thinking that one has to get everything done, and I suspect Pamela Bone may also have thought, rightly, that she had nothing to lose. The irony of that particular situation was that I’m sure Greer in the same case would behave the same way.

  28. Jane says:

    FGM is a cultural practice rather than a religious one, which has been carried on in the Horn of Africa for centuries before Christianity and Islam were introduced, a fact which Pamela Bone seems happy to ignore. It doesn’t appear to be a feature of Middle Eastern or Asian culture where Islam is the dominant religion.
    In that light, it seems to me that Germaine Greer was more pointing out how difficult it is to alter (and eradicate) such long held cultural practices, rather than defending them.
    The wearing of the burqua other clothing associated with Islamic societies, also seems to be more of a cultural than a religious practice, given that until recently, women living in Indonesia and Malaysia, to name two non-Middle East Islamic countries, wore the traditional clothing associated with their cultures or more popularly, Western-style clothing in the cities. Women also seem to have greater freedom of movement in these societies, as well.
    I also think the restrictions placed on women in Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern countries, as well as those African countries where Islam is the dominant religion, are more to do with cultural traditions than religion, but they are very conveniently cloaked in religious dogma to ensure that the victims of this power base will be less likely to question and therefore to fight against, their oppression.
    And hanging the family “honour” on the most powerless members of society and wrapping it in religious dogma is once again the best way to keep them from questioning and actively resisting its imposition. And also a grand way to absolve men from any responsibility for their actions! After all, who is a woman to question what is manifestly God’s will? Does anyone detect a familiar attitude in Western societies? And just exactly who determines what is God’s will?
    However, amongst the doom and gloom, I think there are signs that these practices are being examined and found wanting in some countries. The young Saudi woman has been vigorously defended by her husband and she has a lawyer who has risked his professional life and possibly jail, to help her. And continuing pressure from countries such as the US, Australia and others can only help. Staying silent is tacit approval.
    On the negative side, it has been reported recently that in Basra there has been an increase in violence against women who don’t conform to “religious” dress codes. So far apparently, 40 women have been murdered and their bodies unceremoniously dumped for this “crime”.
    And let’s also not forget that that not so long ago rape victims in Western society were blamed for being victims of the crime. How many times did we hear “She asked for it because *………..!” or “I couldn’t stop”, along with the minute examination of the victim’s past sexual behaviour, complemented by a blanket blind eye to the accused rapist’s past behaviour.
    *Insert excuse of choice

  29. Jack Strocchi says:

    Comment by mbahnisch — December 8, 2007 @ 6:37 pm

    Most of whom exist only in the parallel world of the Strocchiverse.

    No idea what Ken Livingstone has to do with anything.

    When I use the phrase “our jurisdiction” it refers to civilized European countries – such as USE, USA and AUS – that more or less wrote the UN declaration on human rights. I am being nice and multilateral as one should be in globalisation issues. And scientists also look to other countries to make apples-to-apples comparisons.

    And there is plenty of evidence that women in these jurisdictions are being oppressed and victimised under the auspices of the multicultural policy that the marks, kims and nabakovs of this world are so happy to cheer lead. Ken Livingstone is, of course, a key political enabler of such barbarisms because he winks at honour killings, female genital mutilation, polygamy, arranged marriages, child slavery etc. We must celebrate cultural diversity at all costs even if it means allowing vulnerable women and children to be treated worse than animals.

    It seems that “Liberal”-Leftists of this persuasion would rather live a life of Orwellian double think and wink at the subjection of women and children than admit a funadamental flaw in the cultural ideology that they lapped up like suckers as undergraduates. Of course the ethnic vote is politically convenient for rotten borough mongering and welfare-roll padding. Nice little earners for our sanctimonious hypocrites.

    That is why multiculturalism is being dropped like a hot potatoe by the AUS, UK, Holland and now Canada, I see. Normal people see it for the corrupt racket that it has become.

    But Aus’s liberal-Left sail on oblivious to real political changes elsewhere, still stuck in a seventies time-warp of happy-clappy, touchy-feely, arty-farty cultural blather.

    If Mark thinks that Londonistan is a figment of the “strocchiverse” then I suggest he needs to remember to take his medication.

  30. mbahnisch says:

    I’m sorry to hear about your health too, Paul. However I agree that a poor state of health doesn’t excuse rudeness or sloppy thinking.

    Jane, I wouldn’t want HC’s hyperbole to allow us to be distracted from the thread – Female genital mutilation and the question of how best to alter such cultural practices was discussed at great length at LP on several occasions:


    Katz, I think you’ve nailed the illogic.

  31. Helen says:

    And let’s also not forget that that not so long ago rape victims in Western society were blamed for being victims of the crime. How many times did we hear “She asked for it because *………..!” or “I couldn’t stop”, along with the minute examination of the victim’s past sexual behaviour, complemented by a blanket blind eye to the accused rapist’s past behaviour.
    *Insert excuse of choice…

    Jane, that is not “not so long ago”, that’s now.

    Rape trials still involve prurient examinations of the victim’s sexual history and clothing, etc.

    You may remember only a few months ago some arsewipes at Werribee gang raped a young (intellectually delayed) woman, filmed it and circulated the film. The parents of the boys, or at least the ones quoted, were of the opinion that the girl must have asked for it.

    It’s still out there.

  32. Geoff Honnor says:

    “The irony of that particular situation was that I’m sure Greer in the same case would behave the same way.”

    Greer has never felt constrained to hold back – regardless of contextual appropriateness. I think we could safely say that it’s one of her defining characteristics. The take that emerges here – distinguished academic whose genteel explorations of Miss Austen’s oeuvre are rudely disrupted by some raging harridan with stalking issues (possibly chemo-induced) – is hugely ironic, in the circumstances. I really don’t think Greer would want you to spend too much time worrying about this supposedly frightful breach of etiquette, on her behalf.

    FWIW, it seems to me that Bone’s suggestion about on-site interviewing in Darfur might have been as much metaphorical as literal and I’m guessing that her particular disaffection with Greer might be sourced in the 1999 discussion of female genital mutilation in Greer’s “The Whole Woman,” one interpretation of which is that Greer sees the cultural context as at least as important a consideration as imposed “Northern” concepts of human rights. She famously observed: “if an Ohio punk has the right to have her genitalia operated on, why has not the Somali woman the same right?” It resulted in a very satisfactory brouhaha for Greer involving House of Commons denunciations and the general sort of controversy that Greer has always found life-affirming. I’m picking that it would have impacted very negatively with Pamela Bone.

    The supposed selective privileging of culture and tradition (dependent on political expediency) seems to be Bone’s consistent theme just as the courting of controversy is, similarly, one of Greer’s. This might well have been a win/win situation.

    Anyway, isn’t Kevin Rudd a Eustonista?

  33. mbahnisch says:

    I don’t think so. Haven’t heard him saying that winning in Iraq is the acid test for Western civ, etc. Or articulating any of the culture wars bullshit which is the other place where the “pro-war Left” meet the right.

  34. mbahnisch says:

    If Mark thinks that Londonistan is a figment of the “strocchiverse” then I suggest he needs to remember to take his medication.

    So how are you meeting your awesome historical and civilisational responsibility to defend the rights of women (it takes a male culture warrior…) in “Londonistan”, Jack? Oh, that’s right, typing comments into an Australian lefty comments box.

  35. Paul Burns says:

    Slightly off thread.Thanks for your good wishes Despite my many ailments I’m still fully functioning, my mind is endlessly alert, I’m writing regular book reviews for the Menzies Institute for Australian Studies, King’s College London, researching and writing a history of First/Second Fleeters in the American Revolution, and researching for another book on a social history of Australia in the 1840s,though concentrating mostly on the former. My GP saysw I’m going very well considering how long I’ve had the cancer, and my oncologist assures me I’ve got years of good quality life ahead of me so long as I stay on my current course of treatment.I have all the time in the world to write history and am so unfit for work not from the cancer but from the complaints I originally got my disability pension for,Centrelink leaves me alone.Though I do miss the teaching.Besides, I’m having lots of fun on LP.
    PC, checked out your blog, loved it. Will drop in soon.Again,to both of you, your concern is much appreciated.

  36. Helen says:

    Can I just remind people that saying

    FGM / excusing rape / honour killing are rife in some cultural milieus which sometimes intersect with Islamic societies but is not peculiar to Islamic societies


    These practices are deeply rooted in their cultural milieus and cannot be addressed simply by denunciations or bombings by Western liberals or conservatives, since we have no standing vis-a-vis these societies. Therefore, our best way forward is to support individuals and organisations on the ground, without sticking our necks out in a way that might endanger THEM

    Although these may contain the words culture and cultural, they are not equivalent to saying “oh, it’s their culture, so it’s OK over there.”

    To continually repeat this distortion is simply disingenuous and not likely to win over the Larvyprodders, who by now have heard it 10,000 times.

    Also, Myriad, if you’re reading, do you have a blog? If so, it’s blogroll updatin’ time for me… 🙂

  37. mbahnisch says:

    Paul, I’m glad to hear that you’re still active and getting heaps out of life!

    Back on Bone, and with reference to Katz’ comment at #23, it’s clear that her demands that others “do x” are contrasted with what she has done and/or would like to do if she were able – “interviewing raped women in Darfur”. That begs the question of what that would achieve – as Kim said, she has access to media and could do something to advocate for these women. But she doesn’t appear to be doing that. Unless, as some suspect, it’s just that she thinks that Darfur is a case for “humanitarian intervention” and supporting such military actions (without much apparent worrying over whether they would in fact improve the situation and how much more suffering they would cause) is the reflex response of the Eustonista. In either case, it does seem that a lot of this talk about action is posturing to reinforce one’s sense of self and “political personality” as Rundle puts it. Geoff argues that may be the case with Greer as well.

    How does that benefit anyone aside from those who tie their ego-maintenance to these sorts of loud condemnations in the press?

  38. mbahnisch says:

    Helen, I don’t think myriad has commented on this thread but on the one about Kirpans.

  39. Paul Burns says:

    Could somebody define Eustonista for me and give some clue as to its derivation? Its a term that is new to me, but if its as insulting as I think it is, I’d like to use it regularly.

  40. mbahnisch says:

    Follow the link in the post, Paul. It refers to the advocates of the “pro-war Left” Euston Manifesto.

  41. Paul Burns says:

    Thanks, Mark.
    Well, we certainly haven’t got a pro-war left. Am posting a comment on Rudd and the Left, in light of today’s news about Afghanistan.There’s possibly something going on between Rudd and the Far Left about Afghanistan that LP-ers might be interested in.

  42. mbahnisch says:

    Thanks, Paul – I haven’t seen the news today.

    I think I wrote a post about the Eustonistas which pointed out that there was very little basis in Australian as opposed to UK political culture for them to get traction. Here, they’re purely a creation of the media.

    I’ll see if I can dig up the link.

  43. Jack Strocchi says:

    Paul. I am sorry to hear you are crook.

  44. kimberella says:

    You forgot the Melbourne Maoist pro-war “Left” at The Last Superpower, Mark… a truly bizarre group:


  45. Paul Burns says:

    Kimberella, even as an atheist, I have to say, My God!
    Nobody on the far left takes this lot seriously,and certainly my SA comrades and I don’t.
    What a time-warp!
    Mark had already checked out the Eustonista post.Thanks.

  46. Jack Strocchi says:

    Comment by mbahnisch — December 9, 2007 @ 2:18 pm

    So how are you meeting your awesome historical and civilisational responsibility to defend the rights of women (it takes a male culture warrior…) in “Londonistan”, Jack? Oh, that’s right, typing comments into an Australian lefty comments box.

    In my travels within and without Australia I have seen at first hand how the cultural diversity philosophy can push ethnic groups back into the Dark Ages. I staggers me that New Leftists seem to regard this prospect with equanimity.

    FWIW I am also a (part-time) sapper in the Corps of Engineers, with deployment always a prospect. Our corps does good work assisting civil development and social empowerment of women in places like Afghanistan, ETimor and remote Aboriginal communities where mark will be pleased to know the traditional cultures are still celebrating their diversity in the pre-modern way.

    Dont worry. The unit spends a bit of time encouraging cultural sensitivity. So I am obliged to be discreet when this subject comes up, just for a change.

    But this is about you and the defects in your cultural philosophy, not me. You are a dyed in the woolly minded Cultural Lefty apparently addicted to the idea that more diversity is always better all the time. I suggest you go Cold Turkey as a start for your rehab.

    As they say in AA, the first step is to acknowledge there is a problem. So my comments in this field are at least a step in the right direction for your therapy.

  47. Debbie(aussie) says:

    Doesn’t it come down to the fact that Ms Bone, and her fellow travelers, seem to think that if you are anti-war(=anti-usa etc) then you must be pro-Islam, which equals anti feminism. Wow, what a mouthful.. Which of course is ridiculous, most of us lefties are quite capable of holding complex political and social views. The pity really does appear to be that she has the venue to ‘do something’, but would rather argue some old irrelevant trope. Sigh!

  48. Paul Burns says:

    Thanks, Jack.
    Still keeping the red flag flying, though. {Smile}

  49. Peter Kemp says:

    It’s quite clear from Bone that Greer should have been castigating Jane Austen for not conducting suttee and thuggee “post mortems” in India. (Tongue in cheek)

    Perhaps M/s Bone could have been on topic addressing Greer, with an Austen-esq Powerpoint Presentation:

    Pentagon Fragmentation Park
    Pride and Extreme Prejudice.
    USAF Persuasion
    Sense and Sensibility of Bombs and Bombability.
    Love, Friendship & Collateral Damage.

    Bone’s accusations of cultural relavitism against feminists, direct or implied, pales into insignificance, when, among other reasons so eloquently expressed above, people in 2002 MARCHED IN THE STREETS in the 100’s of thousands here (and abroad) against the carnage we knew would follow.

    It would seem to me that Bone is straining out non existent gnats while she has swallowed the camel of a war so far without an end in sight; a war that entrenches and exacerbates fundamentalism on both sides; a war that by its own grotesque oppression has killed up to a million in Iraq. A war that Bone approved of, and as far as I know still approves.

    Until that war ends, until nations like Iran are freed from the existential threats from the crazies in the Bush administration; until the ME is stabilised and true democracy is given a chance without those ME dictators being propped up by the US: our efforts of whatever nature, (and we must persist nonetheless despite all this) are like pissing against the wind.

    When cultures are under threat, perceived or otherwise, the best way IMHO we can help is to first stop the bloody wars. It is so easy for demagogues in times of war to frame any outside action, even genuine assistance, as contrary to the culture/religion. (the foreign teacher and the teddy bear called Mohammad, a prime example).

    Bone appears to be using the principle of attacking others, feminists in particular, as a self defence mechanism of her abysmal pro-war record. Dismal failures, on both counts. Such is the fate of a pro-war lefty.

    For all these reasons, Bone’s rants are becoming increasingly irrelevant to the real issues and pragmatic arguable policies in relation to worldwide oppression, the worst of which is, must, be war.

  50. Paulus says:

    This debate is conflating unrelated issues.

    As people have pointed out on earlier threads, FGM is an ingrained cultural practice which cannot be directly stamped out by the West. It is not totally impossible for foreigners to eradicate a noxious cultural practice — the banning of sati in British India is the obvious example — but you have to occupy a country for decades and use great skill and sensitivity.

    Darfur is an entirely different situation. If there were enough political will, the West could organise a military force to stop the ongoing genocide and separate the hostile parties.

    The template for such an intervention is not Iraq, it is Kosovo. After the bombing campaign, a force went in on the ground to halt the ethnic violence. A political solution is still far off to this day, but at least the organised massacre and the displacement of hundreds of thousands was stopped.

    It is ironic that the architects of humanitarian intervention back then were the centre-left (Clinton, Blair, Schroeder) and its critics were on the right. How times have changed.

    In conclusion, Pamela Bone’s questioning at the Jane Austin conference may have been somewhat rude and inappropriate, but her heart is definitely in the right place.

  51. Katz says:

    Darfur is an entirely different situation. If there were enough political will, the West could organise a military force to stop the ongoing genocide and separate the hostile parties.
    The template for such an intervention is not Iraq, it is Kosovo. After the bombing campaign, a force went in on the ground to halt the ethnic violence. A political solution is still far off to this day, but at least the organised massacre and the displacement of hundreds of thousands was stopped.

    Shorter Paulus. If there were sufficient immovable objects we could stop the irrestistable force.

    Despite its minuscule dimensions Kosovo is also intractable from the point of view of western governmental interests.

    Darfur is many bridges too far.

  52. silkworm says:

    “… remote Aboriginal communities where mark will be pleased to know the traditional cultures are still celebrating their diversity in the pre-modern way.”

    Can you explain this one?

  53. paul walter says:

    Well done Kimberella (whoever you are).
    For how many years now have educated people easily refuted Bone, only to have her launch yet more islamophobia and faux feminism (actually anti feminism), for the resentful,apathetic slugs out in the mortgage belt packing their treacly brady buncher brats off to private school in the 4 wheel drive, while hubby at work plots more sackings for the blue collars out on the factory floor.
    Bone does not outdo Miranda Devine’s morbid dirty mind preoccupying itself with schoolgirls online; just out at SMH. But it’s all the same fear and loathing dished up to upset nervous women who sold out and then found themselves stuck or trapped out in the suburbs.
    Did someone above say “Greer”?
    Viva Greer!
    Ps; also check out Mercurius on “Seperatists at the schoolgates”; On line Opinion, 7/12.( after you’ve finished reading larva prod, of course) seperatism at “opinion online”

  54. Darlene says:

    Sorry to hear of your illness, Paul.

    That’s an interesting reading of Bone’s motives. The need to get things done etc It’s kind of curious because it could be presumed that when facing mortality people focus on what they can change and on what’s directly important (e.g. family). Your view gave a different view of the way people can think about those things. Appreciated your thoughts on the matter.

    I’d like to point to some of the work Amnesty is doing to raise awareness of such issues:


    And also like to concur that’s there more to activism than marching in the streets (an activity that often gets dismissed – often rightly – as a waste of time anyway). Feminists are involved in a plethora of groups who are interested in such issues, including UNIFEM, Amnesty etc

    The Feminist Majority Foundation is but one source of information about a range of issues impacting on women.

  55. Paul Burns says:

    So far as family is concerned you just want to fix up loose ends (like wills, funerals, reconciliation etc) and make your passin as easy as possible for them. Maybe thats why so many people are hesitant about organ donation – because of the impact on surviving rellies, especially if you belong to a religion that believes in resurrection of the body and the Final Judgement.Dying isn’t difficult for the person who is terminally ill, so long as you’re not conscience stricken about living a life where you’ve hurt lots of people.(I ain’t.)Pain is something you can live with and if it gets too bad they fill you full of pain-killing drugs.
    Asd for getting things done, which might be part of Bone’s motivation, the worst thing is the thought you mightn’t. I gather I have quite a bit of time to write one book, and perhaps a second, and I have a top-class imprint for a publisher, though they don’t know what I’m doing yet. I don’t want to get hassled by deadlines, don’t need an advance, and probably wouldn’t get one. I’ve toyed with the idea of going for a grant, but I’m pretty slack.And with the present state of the publishing industry, influence of the philistinism of the global conglomerates etc, you never know.
    Bone, I gather, doesn’t have a lot of time, appears, like me, to be a driven person, (though I’ve only just become aware of her so I don’t know if I have the right to make judgements about her)so that’s why I think she behaves like she does.
    But in the end, from my peculiar point of view, we’re all pretty irrelevant anyway, and most of us will chuck it, without even leaving a trace in the sand. Even our headstones woll decay eventually. If we have one.

  56. paul walter says:

    Look, we all know Bone has cancer. It is an ugly disease- my mum died of it this year.
    The thing with Bone is, its not to do with unfinished intellectual business so much as keeping going the Fairfax party line she’s employed to peddle on various social issues, to do with massaging the demographic for circulation.
    As for her mistakes, the only response has been pig-headednes commensurate with the degree of accuracy of the criticism- the more accurate the greater the noisy denialism.

  57. Ambigulous says:

    Paul Burns – sorry to hear you’re ill, cobber. All the best. Blog well, blog often.

    Lexicographer’s Society – Notes of Monthly Meeting held in the Parlour of Miss Sprightly.

    Miss Sprightly delivered a brief paper on the verb “to Bone”. She informed members that current useage includes: “to declaim in public concerning the manifest unworthiness of others, no matter the occasion”

    She made passing and blushing reference to an earlier meaning, current in the very fine Australian Television Industry, which had been inadvertently revealed in Court documents: “to bring down, to dismiss, to sully.”

    Tea and small cakes were enjoyed by all.

  58. Paul Burns says:

    Bone – Something to w3ith Eddie Maguire.
    Comment made about female employees re their career prospects while in company with bone-neaded football mates – hence ‘to bone’.
    Also, thanks, Amibulous.

  59. Ambigulous says:

    Well, Paul, now that this has become a private conversation, here’s a small gift.

    This is an inscription on a silver beer mug given by President John Kennedy to his staff member Dave Power in 1963. It’s quoted by Tom Wicker in an article “Kennedy Without Tears”, in “Esquire” magazine circa May 1964.

    There are three things which are real:
    God, human folly and laughter.
    The first two are beyond our comprehension
    So we must do what we can with the third.

    Wicker guessed these lines had been written by JFK.


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