We need to stand against antisemitism

Animation of Jewish synagogue
Image: Canva

The local council of Bondi, Sydney, has prevented a Jewish synagogue being built due to the threat of Islamic extremism. The Land and Environment Court has agreed with this decision.

This has understandably outraged the Australian Jewish community and non – Jews alike. And it shouldn’t be tolerated. Anti – Semitism needs to be condemned. Period. If the Australian Jewish community are in any danger, the answer is not to punish the Jews by not allowing them to have a house of worship. The answer is to crack down on anti – Semites — that includes some Muslims.

 

We should all know the danger of antisemitism if we have learnt anything about the rise of the Nazis in Germany in the 1930’s and the Holocaust. This is why I feel so strongly against this. Andrew Bolt is right on this. The Bondi Council and the Land and Environment Court are letting Islamic extremists win. It’s also letting antisemites win. Why can’t they be protected? What’s more, why is antisemitism becoming OK… again?

Anyone who threatens the Jewish community, or makes any indication that they shouldn’t be safe needs the book thrown at them. The only fitting punishment for extreme cases, such as threats is jail. For a long time.

It goes beyond that, though. Antisemitism needs to become unacceptable in society, just like racism, sexism and even homophobia are starting to be. If you see any antisemitic speech on social media, I’d say report it. Or, at the least, (if safe to do so), confront the person who’s made the comment. Don’t allow yourself to be antisemitic either.

From what I understand about World War II, the Nazis thrived on antisemitic propaganda that went unchallenged. People in the media who tried to bring to light what was going on were punished. Many Germans didn’t know the horror of the Holocaust until it was too late. This can’t happen again. Good on both Joe Hildebrand and Andrew Bolt for bringing this to light. I offer a plea to all other journalists in Australia, please, please, please call out antisemitism when you find out about it. And good on the caller to 2GB that brought it to Steve Price’s and Andrew Bolt’s attention last night.

\To all the Jews, both in Australia and abroad, I am so sorry what you’re going through. I’m sorry if some of you feel that history is repeating itself again. I sincerely hope it won’t. I think if people like Bolt, Hildebrand,  Herald Sun’s Rita Panahi, or even myself can call it out and demand that we won’t be silenced, then, hopefully, it’s something.

 

 

LGBTQ+ people don’t need ‘allies’ like Eugene Peterson

Author and Presbyterian minister, Eugene Peterson caused a stir when he told Religion News Service that he’d happily perform weddings for a same – sex couple.

While he was praised by LGBTQ+ Christians, he received backlash.

When the news broke of his retraction, progressive Christians accused Peterson of retracting his statement to the RNS for financial gain.

Screen shot of Facebook - reaction of Eugene Peterson's retraction on gay marriage on Facebook
Eugene Peterson upsets progressive Christians retracting his earlier statements on same – sex marriage.

While progressive Christians accuse Peterson of retracting his statement for financial gain, I wonder whether it’s the other way around — whether he said he’d perform a same – sex wedding because he thought it’d actually increase his popularity and the popularity of The Message if he said he’d perform a same – sex wedding.

IBook copy of Eugene Peterson's The Message Bible
The Message Bible – a controversial paraphrase of the Bible

I just wish Peterson was honest from the start. Does he support same – sex marriage? Apparently not. Therefore, I don’t think he should have said that he’d be happy to perform a same – sex wedding.

Allies of convenience

In the heat of the same – sex marriage and the broader question of LGBTQ+ rights both here in Australia and the U.S, the Eugene Peterson and Christopher Pyne controversy over his comments on same – sex marriage have left me really annoyed, frankly. Neither of them should have said what they did. Why? Because they didn’t mean it… at least not strongly. I don’t think we need that, especially over something that is often quite sensitive to LGBTQ+ people.

Most LGBTQ+ are well aware of the conflict that many Christians have when it comes to LGBTQ+ issue and — from what I’ve read — don’t expect churches or religious ministers to perform same – sex weddings against their conscience. It’s (understandably), when the issue of secular businesses, services and celebrants becoming exempt from anti – discrimination laws that there’s a problem. I’m becoming increasingly sympathetic on LGBTQ+ people and advocates over that one, especially after laws have been introduced to make mental health professionals exempt from treating LGBTQ+ people except for emergencies. One thing that made me respect the medical and mental health industries was their stances on anti – discrimination. But… not sure what to think about this.

That aside, I think it’s fair to say that most LGBTQ+ or allies don’t expect Christian or any other religious leaders to go against their own will. This is what makes Peterson’s retraction so pathetic, frankly.

I truly believe that LGBTQ+ don’t need that. I believe that we need allies that are going to stick by us, even when a backlash is imminent. Of course, no one should put their lives in danger, but being an ally does carry a certain risk. There are people who have taken that risk, got backlash and stood their ground. To be fair on Peterson, he may have (or have had) genuine questions and may have had debates in his own head. Coming out, so to speak, and say what he did to Religion News Service probably wasn’t easy. But, to be honest, the fact that he backtracked so quickly gives me the impression that his heart wasn’t fully into supporting same – sex marriage to begin with.

What are your thoughts on people who retract support from things like same – sex marriage? Leave your thoughts in the comments below. 

 

Asexuality is becoming more visible in the media!

Anyone who had read my blog Asexuality in A Sexual World would know that I followed media coverage on asexuality very closely.

The years between 2012 and 2016 really saw a surge in media stories about people who identified as asexual. One of the first stories I remember was on Johanna Qualmann in Cleo in 2012. I remember that being a big deal. This was the first time that I saw a mainstream media organisation do a story on asexuality. It was limited, and Qualmann admitted that at the time (i.e, there was no mention of romantic orientations or social issues that many asexual people face).

I also remember The Project doing a story on it. While the story they did was good, I was disappointed at 2GB’s Steve Price’s response. I wasn’t the only one as I found out later. Vitrix from the blog Reflective Ace critiqued a number of his comments very well — a lot better than what I did. I think I came off as a sook. I was grateful at Carrie Bickmore’s defense of the asexual community, though.

I think Mamamia’s post on asexuality that year hit me and made Mamamia’s publisher and founder Mia Freedman one of my heroes in the media.

Screenshot of story featured in Mamamia on asexuality in 2014,written by Jo Qualmann
Jo Qualmann had a story published in Mamamia on her experiences being asexual.

Asexuality visibility broadens

Reporting on asexuality in Australia has suddenly broadened. What I mean by that is that the reporting on asexuality is starting to cover people who are not aromantic or hetero – romantic. well, that’s starting to change. On Friday 7 July, Queenie of Aces of blog Asexual Agenda posted the weekly Linkspam. One of the links was an article from Huffington Post Australia about a British homoromantic couple who were planning to marry on 21 July this year.

Screenshot of Huffington Post Australia article
Huffington Post Australia does an article on a homoromantic asexual couple.

It’s bit more of a coincidence with tge timing of the article, considering what’s been happenibg in Australia recently. But I am so glad that homoromantic asexuals are also starting to gain vosibility. Hopefully, in the future, they’ll gain acceptance along with the rest of the LGBTQ+ community. I think that this article added another dimension to the same – sex marriage debate. No, it is not about sex — that is literally true in this case.

This week, Queenie of Aces linked a Buzzfeed article 19 things asexual people need you to understand about asexuality. Rather than focusing on a particular couple, the article exposed some myths and challenges faced by members of the asexual community. I think, the more of that, at the moment, the better. Hopefully, one day, things like this article won’t be needed.

 

So, what now? I’ve read that some asexual people want more depictions in fiction — accurate depictions of asexuality. Not like the damning storyline of the controversial episode of House in 2012 or the more recent accusations of asexual erasure on Netflix’s Riverdale. Just as a disclaimer, I didn’t see either show. It’s just what I’ve read. Itvdoes seem that there should be better representation of asexuality in fiction. I’m hopeful that this will come. In my opinion, the mainstream media has made leaps and bounds in a few short years when it comes to asexuality.

What have you seen/ read about on asexuality lately? Feel free to drop a link in the comments on what you’ve found! 

How do you think the mainstream media has reported on asexuality? Do you think improvements have occurred over the years? What more do you think can be done? I would love to know what you think.

 

Stop treating LGBTQ+ people as political footballs!

Gay couple just married
Both Coalition and Labor are playing games with the LGBTQ+ community. Image: iStock

Coalition MP Christopher Pyne has outraged conservatives by suggesting, among other things that same – sex marriage will become legal ‘sooner than what everyone thinks’.

Cue the outrage and the hyperventilating. It won’t happen. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has come out publicly and reinstated the party’s position of a national plebiscite. So, conservatives, breathe. It’s going to be OK.

Labor voted down the plebiscite at the start of the year, as did the Greens and other senators. I’m not entirely against the plebiscite. I think it was poorly sold. In my view, it was hijacked by conservatives who wanted advertising standards watered down and there was no (serious) talk about how the process may affect members of the LGBTQ+ community.

Also, there was the issue of it being non – binding, even if the majority did vote in favour of it. Sure, you had people like Peta Credlin (who I don’t mind as a commentator) and Andrew Bolt saying that the Government would be nuts not to follow through with the promise, but still, why  didn’t politicians say that?

In regard to mental health, I have noted a number of times since I started blogging in 2013 about how studies here and overseas do suggest that LGBTQ people, especially youth, are vulnerable when it comes to mental health. While some do challenge this, I do think it should have sparked a lot more discussion than what it did. How convenient of Warren Entsch to bring up the issue… after the plebiscite was already voted down! And no one (understandably) took Opposition Leader, Bill Shorten’s threat seriously.

 

Both sides have stuffed the LGBTQ+ community around. Both of them have treated LGBTQ+ like political pawns. It needs to stop. To the government – if you want a plebiscite, fight for it. If not, scrap it (and prepare for war). For Labor, if you stand by it, then as soon as you win the 2019 election, (which is likely if you look at the polls), then legalise it. Immediately. No pussy footing, no changing minds. Just do it. Or there should be a massive revolt. The LGBTQ+ people are people and do not deserve to be taken for a ride to score political points. So, next election, if you support same – sex marriage, then  legalise it. Immediately.

 

This has become more of a mess than what it needs to be. Enough’s enough.

Is male privilege real?

 

Screen shot of ABC's Hack Live on iView
New episode of “Hack Live” brought on controversy, but also interesting debate over “male privilege”.

I watched the controversial show “Hack Live – Is Male Privilege Bulls***” and I’ve got to say while it caused controversy in which the ABC kind of apologised for, the discussion on male privilege on the panel show “Hack Live” was actually very interesting.

One interesting panellist was *Adrian* (not his real name), who was a part of the Men’s Right’s movement. He, more than other panellists, emphasised what many men face in Australia more than women. These included homelessness and suicide. It was also pointed out that men are over represented in work related deaths as well as the alleged gender pay gap and domestic violence.

 

So, does male privilege exist?

It’s complicated. Economically, there may be a historical bias that favours men. But in areas like family law, mental health and other areas, these things have generally favoured women – from what I can gather. In the UK, there is a severe lack of appropriate shelters for male domestic violence victims. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was similar here. You don’t hear about domestic violence against men in the media as frequently as you hear about women.

I think another factor to talk about is male victims by sexual assault at the hands of both men and women. While there is a slow increase in awareness and female who abuse boys are finally getting exposed, I believe there is still a long way to go, especially on reducing stigma faced by many male victims, both as adults and children.

So, does ‘male privilege’ exist?

Like I said men may have some economic and professional advantages over women – depends who you believe on the age wage gap and poverty after retirement. But, I think there are areas in which women have the upper hand, including custody disputes and family law, awareness on domestic violence and mental illness and relevant services for these men.

Privilege in general

“Hack Live” also looked into – albeit too briefly – intersections of identity and how that plays in the privilege debate. I’ve written extensively about challenges faced by LGBTQ+ people over the years since I’ve started blogging. Is there such thing as straight privilege? I think most certainly! From adequate and fair media representation, visibility in education, LGBTQ+ people of faith struggling to find a place of worship where they feel accepted, (although as I have written before, things are slowly looking up).

In other areas, I think “white privilege” isn’t an overblown concept either, to be honest. I think, while things are improving for people of colour in countries like Australia, I don’t doubt that that some may still face racism in a way that Caucasian people generally don’t have to think about. I believe that there are people of colour who face racial profiling. People of colour and of Asian backgrounds do get stereotyped in a way that Caucasian people generally don’t get. I have also heard a few years ago that a survey (I think) pointed out that some employers tend to look past resumes that have a non – English sounding name. Whether this has improved over the three or so years since the story was on The Project, I’m not entirely sure. I hope it has.

Did anyone else watch “Hack Live”? What did you think about it? What do you think about the concept of male privilege? Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments. 

 

 

 

Red Symons Racist? Probably not. Controversial? Hell, yes.

This week, former guitarist and ‘Hey, hey, it’s Saturday’ regular, Red Symons came under fire for “What’s the deal with Asians?” podcast interview on ABC’s Radio National with Beverley Wang, who is Canadian of Taiwanese descent. I didn’t hear the interview (an Andrew O’Keeffe trick, ha!), but from what I read here, it seemed nothing more than satire.

I agree with Andrew Bolt in that calling Wang “yellow” was quite crass and unnecessary. Then again, Symons is well – known for controversy and crassness. I grew up watching him on “Hey, Hey It’s Saturday” back in the early 1990’s. He was a panellist on “Red Faces”, a skit where Symons and other panellists ‘judged’ performances. Red Symons was the ‘bad guy’, well and truly. And some people thought Ian ‘Dicko’ Dickson and Kyle Sandilands were bad on Australian Idol! Sheesh!

Back in the 1970’s, Symons was one of the guitarists in Melbourne – based band, Skyhooks. They were controversial. They caused such a stir that in 1974 due to their provocative lyrics that fours songs from their debut album ‘Living in the ’70’s’ were banned from commercial airplay.

Skyhooks' 1990 'Latest and Greatest'
Skyhooks’ 1990 ‘Latest and Greatest which features two songs that were banned from airplay in 1974.

 

Did they mean any harm? Probably not. It was just satire. Biting satire, offensive satire, but none the less, satire.

With this particular interview, I get race, migration and in particular, boat people are sensitive topics, especially given the ongoing controversy of Nauru and Manus Island, plus the ongoing debate of our refugee intake.  Since then, Symons has apologised and the ABC has deleted the interview from its website.

I hope this is as far as it goes. I do think as a society we do need to be careful, both of what we expect from artists, but I do think it’s important that everyone in the public eye or with a wide platform (myself included), need to be careful not to cause harm to the people we talk/ write/ joke about. It’s a real balancing act.

Did you hear the podcast? Did you think it was offensive? 

Councils commemorating IDAHOBIT: is that such a bad thing?

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Image: iStock

 

 

This week, Geelong City Council raised the rainbow flag on City Hall as a part of International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Intersexism and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT).

Good idea? I didn’t actually know this until a few hours ago, but May 17 marks the day when the World Health Organisation officially declassified homosexuality as a mental illness back in 1990. Sine then, transgenderism is slowly being destigmatised and is no longer officially being classed as a mental illness. With that, the western world has continued to make advances into ensuring the full participation and well – being of LGBTQ+ people in society. Of course, this hasn’t been smooth sailing, with continued discrimination and all out culture wars which still affect LGBTQ+ people in the West today.

Back to the Geelong City Council, like I said, I think almost any move to show acceptance and advocacy for LGBTQ+ is a good thing. However, if you watched a discussion on shows like Sky News’ ‘Paul Murray Live’ this week, you would sense a bit of ‘here we go again’. Panellist like ‘Herald Sun’s’ Rita Panahi attacked Labor again for voting down the proposed plebiscite earlier this year.

The thing is, do gestures like the ones that the Geelong City Council made win hearts? To be honest, I think the answer is no. Pushing ad nauseum, while attacking opponents of things like same – sex marriage, or even the signalling of IDAHOBIT by raising the rainbow flag on a government building isn’t winning anyone over.

So, what can we do?

First thing that comes to mind is… talk. Talk about same – sex marriage, homophobia, biphobia, transphobia, etc. We need to work together to work it out so LGBTQ+ are included and accepted without others feeling unfairly targeted and silenced.

On a similar point, let LGBTQ+ talk. This is what has frustrated me over the so – called debate on same – sex marriage. On one hand, you have groups like Socialist Alliance running amok making LGBTQ+ look bad, then on the other end, you have conservatives (almost always straight), telling LGBTQ+ to suck it  up and how we should have just had the plebiscite.

There are LGBTQ+ Australians who don’t want same – sex marriage to be legalised, and yet there are those who do and take the debate hard and did have aerious concerns. I think I’ve said before that mental health was a topic that was unfortunately not talked about in the lead up to the vote on the plebiscite until it was too late and the bill was blocked in the Senate. This isn’t about treating LGBTQ+ people as ‘special snowflakes’ or ‘precious petals’, but acknowledging that, because of their circumstances, past trauma or toxic beliefs about gender identity or sexuality, that such people may have needed support in the lead up to the plebiscite.

 

I do any council or other institution who work to make LGBTQ+ people feel secure and included in their area. i do think LGBTQ+ need to be heard. Whether putting a rainbow flag on a government building, even for a week is a way to do it is I think questionable. Let’s hope it doesn’t have the exact opposite effect.