Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Only a bird in a gilded cage?



Karen Murphy says:

Years ago, when I first went into the world and embraced feminism as an equalising movement, not one based on hatred, resentment or superiority, my mother expressed doubts.
She said that she foresaw a time when women would be under more pressure, rather than less, with less respect rather than more, falling further behind rather than stepping out in front.
Then I thought her fearful and reactionary.
Now I think her wise.

Miss Eagle didn't have the prescience in this matter of Karen's mother. But I do give her some credit.

Miss Eagle's feminist credentials have always been sound. I was never in the radical, separatist camp. And I didn't swap my husband for a same sex partner. I have always called myself a fair-go-feminist or, more technically, an equalitarian.

I wanted a fair go: a fair go to be myself, not to be impeded because of my gender or marital status or fertility or child caring and rearing responsibilities. I love men - or some of them. And I care about the way some men are treated and how many of them - for one reason or another - don't get a fair go. I wanted to earn the good money the boys always ensured for themselves. I wanted women to cease to be their own worst enemies by their always-trying-to-please-mentality. I was sick and tired of a system that kept women happy by giving them a nice title, a nice office, don't-get-your-hands-dirty work, and lousy pay.

I hate Secretary's Day. To show appreciation to and for your Secretary/PA/EA, forget the ad in the paper. Ditch the roses. Give her decent money, time flexibility, a fair degree of autonomy, treat her as a professional member of the team, and value her work!

And titles. One of the feminist trademarks was "Ms." Even down to Gloria Steinem's magazine. But Ms was an indication that marital status was my business not yours. And believe me the stories that abounded back in the 70s in relation to single mothers and their treatment by electricity companies!

To Miss Eagle, the title is important. So important that she doesn't want any. She was not born with a title. She is not a miss - nor has she been missed.

I have a first name, a middle name, a last name. You can call me by my first name (my preference - even if you are a six year old) or you can call me by my last name. I don't want Miss, Ms, or Mrs. This has been the Quaker way for the last 350 years. If there is a Quaker title, it is merely Friend.

As for how to address the mail, use names or initials. Ms has still not lost the stigma of being a very, very radical title. Rubbish, poppycock and horsefeathers! Any good old fashioned stenographer will tell you that when you don't know the title of a woman (whether it is Miss or Mrs) you can always write M/s. This was the forerunner of the feminist Ms.

Many organisations - business, political, feminist - have, since the 70s, always addressed their mail Ms. But imagine my shock in recent times when I received a letter from Kevin Rudd address to me as Mrs.... !

Now, for those of you who are archaic, yes I am a Mrs. But I don't wish to be called Mrs and how dare Kevin or who ever prepared that letter assume, since they are complete strangers, my marital status. It is none of their ever-so-polite business. Why could the letter not have been addressed to FirstName LastName or FirstName Middle Name/Middle Initial Last Name. The salutation could have been Dear FirstName. What is so difficult about that? What is so bad mannered about that?

And then what bugs me is that, so often, computer programs give no option. Very few in the title box have an option saying "None". So I pick my own - if someone is willing to play along. My favourite Melbourne book store sends me their catalogue - courtesy of the assistance of a rather cute young man on a sunny Melbourne morning - using the title Saint: Saint First Name Last Name. Heaven knows what the postie thinks!

Back to Mrs Murphy and her prescience. Is she right? Julia Gillard is now next to the top of the tree and there are a lot more visible women in public and corporate life than ever before. Our efforts have not been for nought. But even more visible are the sexual libertarians and their camp (no: not gay: ancient phrase) followers.

Karen Murphy explicitly lays the blame and I support her:

And I blame women because winning equality and respect was always going to be our fight, wives and mothers, sisters, friends and colleagues, but we seem to have walked away before serious battle was even joined.
Capitalism lurks somewhere behind it, of that there is no doubt, the notion that earning money is without a moral component. But it goes deeper than that, as if we have all been sold the emperor's new clothes of sexual glamour.
No, ladies, it's not glamorous, it's just naked.
In particular, I hold to account:
■All the lap dancers, strippers, topless barmaids and well-educated prostitutes who do it for the money.
■Women participating in pornography.
■Women who post tawdry "raunch" photos of themselves on the internet.
■Women who model in degrading advertisements (think Windsor Smith shoes) who do it for the money.
■Women who have cosmetic surgery just when their faces are becoming interesting, and breast enhancements to make themselves desirable.

■Women who claim they have Brazilian waxes for themselves.
■Women who refuse to have an argument with their male partners over the sharing of household duties.
■Women who have caesareans so that their vaginas remain tight.
■Women who claim stiletto heels are comfortable.
■Mothers who give their daughters make-up or hair dye before they turn 10, and are more likely to ask if the child has a favourite boy at school rather than a favourite subject.
■All the women who participate in soft-porn music clips.
■All the women who do pole dancing instead of a non-sexual gym workout.
■All the actresses that strip when their careers are in trouble.
■All the female sports stars that strip to raise money.
■Those women who still believe it is more important to be beautiful on the outside than the inside.

Is this what the liberation of women, the freedom of choice and social movement for women is all about? If so, as Mrs Murphy predicted, it has devalued the currency. Not only has the currency of the free will of women being devalued but it is affecting our children, particularly our daughters and our grand-daughters.

We now have people who consider pole dancing a mainstream activity appropriate for teaching to little girls. We now have sexually-inspired clothes for little girls. Our little girls are not only playing with their mothers' cosmetics but seriously wearing cosmetics at a younger age than ever before.

The women who use their freedom for only these practices have sold their birthright for a mess of pottage. Instead of building wider horizons for themselves, they have narrowed the supposedly gilded cage. There is a wide and beautiful world out there waiting for women to explore and make their own. There are those who want to encase us in heavy clothes and imprison us in our homes and leave us naked on our beds.

We have to continue to fight to establish ourselves in the physical, mental and spiritual freedom our Creator Spirit intended for us.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Water, water everywhere in the Outer East.

The previous post was talking about our lack of water and water restrictions. Clearly, a day is a long time in weather and climate. This afternoon, there was no shortage of water in the Outer Eastern suburbs of Melbourne. Huge downpours this afternoon and flash flooding all over the place.

For the first time in three years, the creek in front of our house is full and flowing: flowing fast, in fact.












Water, edibles and the elderly in the vege patch

Here is some of Miss Eagle's vege patch & pots.

Water is at a premium in Australia - and Victoria is no exception.

This morning we got a very welcome drop of rain.

But water is an issue with veges.

We are warned that there will some food shortages this summer along with higher prices for fruit and vegetables.

So it makes a lot of sense to grow your own.

You can eliminate the chemicals. Go organic. Plant permaculture.

And get a lot of pleasure and good nutrition all at the same time.

But water is an issue and Marika Wagner wants us to join her in lobbying the government about our needs. Marika knows what she is talking about. She works at the marvellous Bulleen Art and Garden here in Melbourne.

Marika says:

Produce gardens provide us with the very fruit, vegetables and herbs we eat, and many of us have worked hard to create these gardens with much of our own time and money.

It's understood that keeping higher water use ornamental gardens and lawns can be seen as luxury items in times of water shortage, but forcing us to let our produce gardens become unproductive and/or die is an outrage. Only being able to water on two pre-specified days of the week is not the most efficient way to keep a garden alive and productive and can lead to stressed and unproductive plants, defeating the purpose of this type of garden. Produce gardens should be allowed efficient, mindful watering, when required.

Education to efficient water use, is the key to saving water for Victoria, not forcing gardens to dwindle & perhaps perish.

To be able to grow our own food:-
1) Saves water for Victoria, according to a study done by David Holmgren, co-founder of ‘Permaculture’, (Holmgren Design Services), efficient backyard growers can use only one fifth of the water compared to commercial growers per $ value of produce.

2) Saves up to 25% of greenhouse gases by eliminating ‘food miles’, this means our fruit and vegetables don’t use excess energies of ; being machine harvested, transported to sorting sheds, stored in cool rooms, transported to market, then to supermarket, lit up by fluorescent lights and then transported again to homes to be then stored again in the fridge, whilst losing vitality and freshness along the way.

3) Reduces the overall Australia wide use of biocides like herbicides, pesticides and fungicides. This is because home produce gardens are naturally quite biodiverse, therefore resilient, and easy to apply natural pest control methods to.

4) Brings people and families together outdoors to gain healthy organic produce, fresh air, exercise and an awareness to our connection with nature.I believe that it is our right to grow and monitor our own fresh, healthy, chemical free food in our backyards. I am asking for an exemption from current water restrictions or for introduction of more appropriate water rules for our important produce gardens.

So, dear Reader, please pop across here and sign Marika's petition. And then, when you have done that, please let all your friends know and get them to sign too. Let's make Tim Holding and the Victorian Labor Government sit up and take notice. Otherwise, civil disobedience?

Miss E also supports Kevin Walsh's idea for a new E level of restriction: for the elderly and edibles. How sensible.

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