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Archive for the ‘Gender’ Category

A study of more than 12, 000 British children between the ages of seven and nine has found that children who spend large amounts of time in daycare because both parents (or a sole parent) work, are significantly more likely to become obese, and to suffer other long term health problems.

Naturally there are howls of outrage. An article in the Australian says the results have been refuted by Queensland mums. No they haven’t. To refute something means to show it is untrue. A couple of working mothers saying ‘Well my kid’s healthy, and eats salad and stuff’ does not refute the findings of an independent study of over 12,000 children.

Previous studies have found that extensive time in daycare in the early years can have long term negative effects on vocabulary acquisition and behaviour – effects which may be cause children to struggle at school and in later life.

Time to think again about subsidised daycare.

My general rule is that if something needs to be subsidised, it probably shouldn’t be.

For example, South Australian taxpayers pay about $2 for every $1 a commuter pays for a train or bus ticket in Adelaide. I travel 100 kilometres to work and back each day, with petrol prices on the island about 30% higher than in the city. So why should I be asked to subsidise the transport costs of people who travel 10 kilometres to work and back each day, and already pay less for petrol?

Likewise, why should parents who make the decision to sacrifice income so that one of them can parent their children full-time, be asked to subsidise parents who both work? The only reason would be that doing so provided some clear benefit to the wider community. But the now well established negative effects of long term early day care make it difficult to see any such benefits.

Parents shouldn’t be stopped from sending their children to daycare, of course. But they shouldn’t expect other people to pay for it.

A Brisbane lawyer and mother of four children, Mrs Tempe Harvey, agrees. She is establishing a lobby group for children’s welfare, the Kids First Parents Association of Australia. One of their policies is the scrapping of childcare subsidies. Good news.

The two major Australian grocery retailers are both currently running offensively sexist ads.

The Coles ad is the less offensive of the two. ‘You shouldn’t be taxed for being a woman’ it says. So Coles will pay the GST on the whole range of feminine hygiene products.

How nice. I don’t think I should be taxed for being a man, either. So why aren’t they paying the GST on shaving products, or hair restoring products?

I also don’t think I should be taxed for having to eat, or having to wear clothes, but I doubt any retailer is going to say ‘Well that’s unfair, we”ll pay the GST on life’s essentials.’

Women spend most of the family income, so it is natural that retailers should target advertising to women. But suggesting that women are somehow being victimised by the taxation system, and that they, Coles, are bravely and generously remedying this injustice is dishonest nonsense.

The Woolworths ad is even worse.

A woman is making scones. She talks about the ingredients, and then says that recipe doesn’t say anything about fancy packaging. Then she looks at her husband, and says ‘I’ve never been worried about fancy packaging.’

Imagine the uproar if the ad went like this instead:

A bloke is in his toolshed. He says that every tool is in its place, and every tool has its purpose. He adds that tools don’t need fancy packaging, and then looks at his wife and says ‘I’ve never been worried about fancy packaging.’

People would recognise this for what it was – a deliberate putdown. They would complain. And they would be right to do so.

So why is it OK for advertisers to belittle men?

Last week India passed legislation decriminalising homosexual acts between consenting adults. This has not been entirely popular.

The world’s most popular guru, Swami “Baba” Ramdev, (he has an international TV audience numbering about 85 million) has said a number of things that the gay community will not like. Particularly, that being gay is a defect.

Homosexuality is a curable disease and that sufferers could seek a cure. “It can be treated like any other congenital defect. Such tendencies can be treated by yoga, pranayam and other meditation techniques,” he said.

The legalisation would have a “negative effect” on the young, while increasing the prevalence of HIV/AIDs. “These are unnatural acts not designed for human beings. The decision of the High Court, if allowed to sustain will have catastrophic effects on the moral fabric of society and will jeopardise the institution of marriage itself. This offends the structure of Indian value system, Indian culture and traditions, as derived from religious scriptures.”

I pretty much agree with him. Except maybe about homosexuality being curable through yoga.

Homosexual desire, expecially if a person is only attracted to members of the same gender, is an ‘objective disorder.’

I know many gay men and women find such a view offensive.

Gay men and women should not be judged for their disorder. We are all disordered in some way. But it is still a disorder.

I have often heard arguments along these lines: ‘This is who I am’ (well, life is pretty tragic if your identity comes from only or even primarily from who you want to have sex with). ‘I can’t help these feelings, I didn’t choose them’ (quite possibly so, but neither do pedophiles or habitual gamblers choose to have the feelings they have). ‘I was made this way, so these feelings are natural, and because they are natural, they are good.’

Not necessarily. Natural is not always good. We live in a fallen world. Even for a non-Christian, knowing this is true is simply a matter of looking at the natural world.

That falleness affects all of us in different ways. It affects all of us. We are all less than we could be. So it behoves us not to judge others if they are tempted in ways we are not.

But that does not mean we should not be clear about what is right and what is wrong, or settle for saying that wrong is right.

A picture has been circulating around the web over the last few days which seems to show President Obama stealing a longing look at a 17 year old girl’s rear end.

I don’t think Obama is a good or capable leader. But it is important to be fair, and a fair assessment of what happened is probably that it was pure co-incidence that Obama happened to be looking in that direction when Mayara Tavares walked by.

It certainly wasn’t co-incidence that Nicolas Sarkozy was looking her direction, however.

Maybe she is looking ahead to the 2012 presidential election. Good luck to her if so. She has vastly more experience of real life and of running things, making decisions and managing budgets that work than the present astonishingly inept incumbent.

Or maybe she has just had enough of the fountains of filth directed at her and her children. She deserves to be raped for not being a nice liberal lass, they deserve to be raped because they are her children, having a Down Syndrome baby instead of an abortion means she wants to breed a nation of retards, etc, etc, you get the idea. 

Left wing organisations respond to news of her resignation with (take a minute, guess…) attacks on her children.

These, of course, are from people who support the new, changed, more inclusive and compassionate leadership of the great BO.

One by Dennis Prager on the cowardice of Hollywood, and why you should go and see The Stoning Of Soraya M.

And one by Christina Hoff Summers (and yes the articles are related) on the entrenched dishonesty of contemporary academic feminism.

That could be the headline for a story about Michael Jackson, but it isn’t.

There is an interesting and moving story here of the women’s orchestra at Auschwitz.

In August 1943, the Austrian musician Alma Rose was coincidentally discovered at the experimental medical station. She was named as the new conductor, despite the fact that she was Jewish. The thirty-seven-year-old violin virtuoso was the daughter of Arnold Rose and the niece of Gustav Mahler.

Rose’s fellow prisoners described her as an extremely charismatic woman. The SS treated Rose with respect, often referring to her as Frau Alma (Mrs. Alma). From the beginning, Rose was the protégé of Hoessler and
Mandl. They placed an entire barrack at the musicians’ disposal for their personal and work use. Alma Rose was even allowed to exchange the old instruments for newer ones with better tone; she herself was given a particularly valuable instrument.

Through diplomatic maneuvers, Rose was slowly able to obtain better living conditions for all members of the orchestra. Each woman had her own relatively clean cover, straw mattress, sheet, and slept on her own plank bed. The musicians were able to wash daily and use the provisional toilet.

Nonetheless, music was forced labour, and Rose died before the war ended, probably by poisoning.

But music was also a means of survival, both in the sense of providing some security or (minimal) protection when surrounded by sudden death and unsepakable horror, and as way of finding hope and humanity and beauty.

Kathy and I cared for foster children over a number of years, including babies and toddlers.

I well understand the diffculties of blending work and the responsibilities of caring for children. There are a number of worksplaces and public facilties which are not supportive of people with children. Whether it is appropriate to expect that they should be or need to be is another question.

The Australian Federal Parliament is not a child-unfriendly place.

The work that senators do is serious. They review legislation which potentially affects the lives and well-being of every Australian. They are paid well to do so. Parliament is set up so they can do their work in an atmosphere free from distactions and unnecessary annoyances.

Senators come from all walks of life. I am glad that amongst the business men and women, unionists and career politicians, there are some people with young children.

As well as personal staff, members of parliament have access to tax-payer funded child care services, and quiet rooms where they be with their children without disrupting discussion in the house, where they can hear any debate, and from where their vote can be recorded.

So with all this support, and other options available, why did Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young insist on taking her two year old daughter Kora into the Senate chamber?

As Wendy Hargreaves pointed out in yesterday’s Herald Sun:

Infantile screaming is nothing new to our Federal Parliament. Political bawlers come in all ages and political colours.

But this week’s wah-wah effort by Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young takes political mewling to an all-time low …

It’s not enough that they make us feel guilty for turning on a heater. Now they’re sending the Senate into a guilt trip for refusing infants.

This isn’t a play centre. This is the Upper House of Australia’s Federal Parliament.

Australian parents know the difficulty and the cost of arranging child care, and the pain of leaving a child to be looked after by someone else. They do it day after day without complaining.

By all means let Senator Hanson-Young take her daughter to Canberra. And to parliament if she cannot organise anything else.

But please Senator, don’t tell us you are hard done by if you don’t follow the rules, and won’t use the resources we pay for to help you do your job.

I seriously doubt it.

This article in today’s Australian points to a 159% increase in the number of women facing dometic violence charges over the last eight years as an indicator that women are becoming more violent.

It is more likely simply that police and care groups are beginning to take complaints made by men about domestic violence more seriously.

For a long time I have been concerned about campaigns which say something like ‘To violence against women, Australia says no.’  Why single out women in particular? Is violence against everyone else OK?

Such campaigns are based on the assumption that violence aginst women needs to be targeted because women are more frequently the victims of violence. But this is simply untrue. Outside the home, men are far more likely to be victims of violence than women.

But what about inside the home?

There is a vast body of research to show that women are just as likely as men to be perpetrators of domestic violence as men. There is a substantial online bibliography collected by Martin Fiebert of the Department of Psychology at California State University. Some research suggests that women are more likely to be the initiators of violence, and are more likely than men to use a weapon against their partner or children.

Erin Pizzey, the pioneer of shelters for victims of domestic abuse, points out that research suggests violence is a learned behaviour. When children see adults using violence as a means to resolve disagreements they learn those behaviours, whether the violence is used by male or female or both.

Women’s violence against men has frequently been treated as joke, both in entertainment (see the film ‘Stakeout’ for example, in which the character played by Richard Dreyfuss is viciously assaulted by his partner in what is meant to be, and to female members of the audience clearly was, a vastly amusing scene) and in real life, where male victims of domestic violence who report such violence to police are belittled or told to be a man and stop complaining.

If feminists and policy-makers are serious about ending domestic violence, they must take violence against men and children as seriously as they do violence against women.

In domestic violence, just as in economic and foreign policy, effective action must be based on facts, not on ideology.

The ABC (pleasant surprise!) has just posted a remarkably fair article on this story, with some interesting comment by Sue Price, co-director of the Men’s Right’s Agency.

But Carrie Prejean is still a lady:

I worked in good faith to meet my responsibilities as Miss California USA. I have met every scheduled appearance, and responsibility, as recently as May 31st. I have followed the proper protocol requested of me and haven’t made any appearances or speaking engagements without the consent or approval from the Miss California USA or Miss Universe Organizations. I have not signed with any book publisher or taken on any business proposals. As of today, June 11, 2009, I have done everything possible to honor my contract.

I hope Americans watching this story unfold, take away the most important lesson I have learned through all of this: nothing is more important than standing up for what you believe in, no matter what the cost may be. I’ve done my best under the difficult circumstances to handle the vicious attacks with integrity and show respect to others, even those who don’t agree with me.

A pity that some of those around her did not share her beliefs. No not that one (though I agree with her and so does the new Miss California), the one about acting with integrity and showing respect even to people who disagree with you.

John Hawkins has written a great article at Townhall about five myths liberals believe about themselves.

Here they are, in summary form:

1. Liberals are pro-women. Liberals are pro-women as they as women know their place and have the right opinions. If they don’t, it is perfectly OK in liberal society to belittle and abuse them, and make jokes about their teenage daughters being raped.

2. Liberals are concerned about blacks. And how do they demonstrate this? By encouraging blacks to see themselves as victims, and funding them to remain in places and lifestyles which ensure they will remain outside the mainstream of economic and political life.

3. Liberals are compassionate. Conservatives give consistently more to charity, and are more likely to be involved in church, or as volunteers intheir communities.

4. Liberals are brainier. Pardon? Anyone who has ever engaged in debate with a liberal knows how quickly ad hominem arguments or cruel humour are  likely to be used. In my experience, liberals are far more likely to be driven by feelings, especially about what seems to be right, while conservatives are more likely to be influenced by evidence about what actually works.

5. Liberals are tolerant. Well, yes. Of people who agree with them. Just ask Carrie Prejean or Sarah Palin, or Ian Plimer.

Find common ground in their concerns about Obama’s speech to the Islamic world in Cairo.

I wrote  a few days ago that the big omission from that speech was any reference to the real reasons for the foundation of the state of Israel, and any truthful relating of the history of Israel.

There were some good and brave things in Obama’s speech, and they should be recognised and honoured. But that does not mean that the speech should be immune from criticism, and in some respects it was a  major opportunity lost.

Ann Coulter responded with her typically ascerbic insight:

Obama bravely told the Cairo audience that 9/11 was a very nasty thing for Muslims to do to us, but on the other hand, they are victims of colonization.

Except we didn’t colonize them. The French and the British did. So why are Arabs flying planes into our buildings and not the Arc de Triomphe? (And gosh, haven’t the Arabs done a lot with the Middle East since the French and the British left!)

In another sharks-to-kittens comparison, Obama said, “Now let me be clear, issues of women’s equality are by no means simply an issue for Islam.” No, he said, “the struggle for women’s equality continues in many aspects of American life.”

So on one hand, 12-year-old girls are stoned to death for the crime of being raped in Muslim countries. But on the other hand, we still don’t have enough female firefighters here in America.

Delusionally, Obama bragged about his multiculti worldview, saying, “I reject the view of some in the West that a woman who chooses to cover her hair is somehow less equal.” In Saudi Arabia, Iran, Afghanistan and other Muslim countries, women “choose” to cover their heads on pain of losing them.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali also points out that it is not simply being polite, but a massive untruth, to claim a moral equivalence between the treatment of women in Islamic societies and the roles and choices available to women in the West.

Obama, she says, should speak the truth to Islam:

That poor girl in Qatif, Saudi Arabia, who, after seven men raped her, was sentenced to flogging, had succumbed to the novel idea of flirting by mobile phone. In Saudi Arabia, every Friday, cruel and unusual punishment is perpetrated, far worse than anything John Adams saw in his time. The hands of those suspected of stealing — mostly poor, immigrant workers — are amputated.

The more one is dark-skinned in Saudi Arabia, the bleaker his circumstances, not to mention hers. For in Saudi Arabia, black is still considered to be inferior. Men and women convicted of adultery, apostasy, treason and other “offences” are beheaded. Thousands of women are rotting in Saudi jails, waiting to be flogged, or are flogged daily for acts such as mingling with men, improper attire, fornication and virtual relationships on the internet and mobile phones.

Promotion of literacy for girls, which the President wants to help pursue, is a noble cause. But, unless sharia laws are repealed, more girls will find themselves in flogging pens rather than rising up the career ladder.

From Quadrant Online:

From the editorial of Island magazine, Autumn 2009 edition:

Ruth Sunderland discusses the gender issues she feels are being ignored in the endless analysis of our current economic crisis. She writes: ‘This mess was made by men’ and goes on to argue that women should be vitally involved in the development of solutions. In this issue of Island I have invited activists and radical thinkers, Susan Hawthorne and Ariel Salleh, to engage in a conversation about this very dilemma. It seems timely for us to listen seriously to those who think outside the square, especially when it is clearly inside-the-square thinking which has precipitated these disasters.

Extracts from “Thinking Beyond, Thinking Deep” by Susan Hawthorne and Ariel Salleh in Island magazine, Autumn 2009 (not available online):

… in a time of global warming it’s crucial to spell out the links between ecology and women, North and South.

Australian commitments under the Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism may cause Indonesian women to lose their communal livelihood as forests are turned into externally financed carbon sinks. This kind of policy is neocolonial and regressive.

The European study on men’s consumption choices causing more global warming than women’s, reminds me of very fine US research by Pat Hynes in which she found that when men spend, they buy luxuries – cigarettes, alcohol, petrol, pornography and women’s bodies for their individual use. Whereas when women spend they buy survival goods – food, shelter, medicines and schooling for themselves, their children and others who depend on them, including male partners.

This, of course, is why women’s personal items, fashion, perfume, make up etc, typically occupy seven times more space in shopping malls and retail centres than men’s personal items. And women don’t drink, smoke or drive.

And tying penises to women, doesn’t make a man a woman, nor a woman a man.

Andrew Bolt has made some rightly alarmed comments about an Australian court that pretends to help a confused 17 year old girl by ruling she is entitled to have her breasts cut off.

This article from the Sydney Morning Herald tells the story of two people who, confused about their gender as teens, demanded gender re-assignment surgery. Both regretted that decision deeply, and came to feel lasting anger towards the people who allowed their mutilation to proceed.

Teenagers have not yet fully developed their identity, their sense of responsibility, their ability to assess risk and long term consequences. That is why we have laws prohibiting them from drinking, from having sex, from gambling. These laws protect them from abuse, from outcomes and harm which they may not have the ability to foresee.

Yet a court can say that those same teenagers have the right to decide about irreversible mutilating surgery which leaves them neither male nor female.

The Desire for a Sex Change, an article by Dr Richard Fitzgibbons, draws on medical and psychiatric research and catholic theology to explain why gender re-assignment surgery has not been and cannot be a satisfactory solution to what is a psychological problem.

From memory, those are the opening words of M. Scott Peck’s book The Road Less Travelled.

It is true, of course. And the more you try to achieve, the truer it seems to be.

Rambling for a minute. When I was a teenager I remember reading a story about a woman in the US who had sued her local men’s baseball team. They had discriminated against her by refusing to let her join. She won. It was America, after all.

After playing two games, she was struck and slightly injured by a fast pitch. She promptly sued the club again, this time for failing to take account of the fact that she was a woman, and therefore had slower reaction times. Even at the age of fourteen, this struck me as the perfect example of the women’s movement in practice.

Feminists want to be treated like men, but when they are treated like men, they complain bitterly.

Men are competitive. They constantly test each other. And it is not hard to understand why. If you are going out hunting mammoth, or fighting the Viet Cong, or trying to win a critical contract for your firm, you need to know that the person next to you can take the strain. This is the purpose of ‘hazing.’

Testing gives you confidence in your own strength, and that of your fellows. While hazing can sometimes  trip over into bullying, it is not a bad thing in itself. I would not be confident on a battlefield with a buddy who burst into tears if someone laughed at the ladders in her stockings, or who complained about breaking a nail while on basic training.

Women (again generalising) test each other in different ways. When they choose to place themselves in a predominantly male environment, the prestigious world of garbage collection, for example, and are treated by men as those men treat one another, women often seem to interpret this as being picked on, belittled, put down. In fact, it should be taken as a compliment. The male workers are assuming that she can be one of them, that she can work on an equal basis.

This interpretation of equal treatment as unfair can be particularly evident in the workplace.

Again, to ramble for a minute, I worked in a bookshop where some books were stacked on high shelves. To reach them for customers or to restock, staff had to stand on a small step ladder. The female staff refused to do this, because people would be able to see their knickers. The same applied to changing lightbulbs, dusting, etc.

When I suggested that they knew this was part of the job, and that they should therefore dress appropriately, either wearing pants or longer skirts, I was berated for assuming the right to tell them what to wear.

Feminists tell women they do not, cannot succeed, because they face constant unfair discrimination. In fact, women who can do the job, and are willing to make the sacrifices (physical discomfort, repeated rejection, long hours, etc) that are needed, can do, and do do, as well as men.

Efforts to to achieve equality in employment at executive levels for women and minority groups by forcing employers to hire less qualified or able women, blacks, or whoever, only make the situation worse. People hired under such schemes will be the object of annoyance and frustration, and the knowledge that they have not genuinely earned their jobs reinforces rather than mitigates negative stereotypes.

It is not liberating or empowering for women to be told that they will never succeed because they face insurmountable obstacles of injustice and discrimination. The truth is, as Penny Vincenzi points out in this article, it is not an imaginary glass ceiling that holds women back from the top positions, it is not working as hard, not working as long, or simply not being good at their jobs.

Life is not fair. Work is not fair. Just stop whining and get on with it, and you will do as well as anyone with your commitment and abilities. That is the liberating truth.

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