Monthly Archives: November 2010

News flash. One is entitled to walk on city streets without being assaulted

Pop on over to Dr Cat’s blog to read her excellent analysis of this claim.

Ministers arriving for cabinet yesterday said Mr Foley was entitled to walk on a city street at any hour without being assaulted.

Now you know how it feels to be a woman, Kevin (SA edition)

It seems I am a coarse, uncaring beast

Cardinal George Pell, who is Catholic Archbishop of Sydney, has opined that people without faith are bad people. If Australia ceases to be guided by Christian principles, then “Australian society will become increasingly coarse and uncaring.”

Faithless are coarse, uncaring and without purpose, says Cardinal Pell

Let me tell you a story about the good Christian mothers and fathers at the school my children attend. At least, I assume that they are Christian, because they send their children along to the inter-denominational services, and many of them are sending their children off to private church-run schools when they go to secondary school.

Last year, one of the mums at school had twins. She already had four children, ranging in age from 10 down to 5. Her partner left her during her pregnancy, so she was trying to manage on her own. Things weren’t too bad, except that she had a c-section, which meant that she couldn’t drive her car for six weeks. So each morning, she was getting up, feeding and tending the babies, getting the other kids organised, and then putting the babies in the pram, and walking the children to school. Another mum saw all this happening one day, and was appalled. So with the consent of the new mother, and with the assistance of classroom teachers, she sent out an e-mail, asking people to volunteer to help with getting the two younger children to and from school each day. The two older children could get themselves to school along quiet streets on their bikes.

I read the e-mail, held my head in my hands for a few moments, because I already had a fair amount on, and then e-mailed back. Of course I could find a few minutes in the morning to help, especially when I was already out and about getting my own children to school.

The next day, the mum who organised the e-mail told me that I was the only person who had replied to her. It seemed that there was some gossip going around about the new mum, so plenty of the other parents at the school didn’t think she was worthy of help.

I think that could fairly be described as uncaring, and coarse.

Over the next day or two, a few more parents stepped up, and a roster was organised, and family friends stepped in, and one way and another, the new mum was able to get through those first few weeks. But the original response was uncaring, and unkind, and insensitive, and crass.

I have been angry about the whole incident ever since, and I am made even more angry when I read comments like George Pell’s. As far as I know, we are the only avowed atheists in the school. Everyone else goes along with the regulation Christianity, bar a few children who come from families with other faiths. But ours was not the uncaring and coarse response.

George Pell didn’t stop with the nasty comments about non-Christians. He also thinks that people without faith lead meaningless lives. “… without God the universe has no objective purpose or meaning. Nothing beyond the constructs they confect to cover the abyss.”

Hmmm…. I see that exactly the other way round. I look into the abyss, into the wonder of the universe, into the utter inconsequence of the speck of existence that is me within this universe, and the abyss looks back it me. I can stand tall, knowing that I am responsible for me, that the universe really does not care about my existence, that there is no vengeful or beneficent being keeping tabs on my life, and rewarding or punishing me as she sees fit. This has created the greatest sense of freedom I have had, and the greatest sense of responsibility. And this is what gives my life meaning. Not some external story that I tell myself, some construct I confect to shield myself from the horrors of the night, but meaning generated from within, from trying to understand myself, and the society within which I live.

Take your fairy tales, and your nasty epithets, George Pell, and stuff them where the sun don’t shine.

Update: You should also read tigtog’s brilliant post at Hoyden about Town, where she shreds this claim that Pell made.

Cardinal Pell said education was not enough to create a civilised society, that faith was necessary too. He cited the example of 20th century Germany, which he said was the best educated society in the world when Hitler became leader.


1. Don’t blare your horn at me because you are behind me and you’re having to wait for a few seconds until I judge that it is safe for me to turn right across two lanes of traffic. You may be able to zip across a line of traffic in your nippy little car and rush over a pavement with impunity, but I am driving a family sedan, which takes a little more time to move. Risk your own life, not mine, if 20 seconds is such a big deal.

2. Don’t patronise me because you are a young male sales clerk in an electronics shop and I am a middle-aged woman. I may not have your technical expertise, but I still have money to spend.

3. Don’t reach over to grab more groceries to stuff into a shopping bag when I have carefully lined up my groceries and shopping bags in such a way as to indicate which items should go into which bag (per Dr Cat’s helpful hint). You may be able to lift a shopping bag stuffed to the hilt, but I can’t. You may be happy to mix up fruit and cleaning products, but I am not. You might even like putting heavy containers of milk in the same bag as soft, ripe mangoes, but I do not. And don’t cap it all off by glaring at me when I ask you to stack the items in the bags in the order in which they are presented. There are plenty of other supermarkets nearby, and I am quite happy to take my annual supermarket bill of about $20,000 elsewhere.

Grump. Grump. Grump.

And while I am grumping, a local supermarket categorises its magazines into Men’s Interest, House and Garden, Food and Wine, and Women’s Interest. Guess where I found New Scientist. And the news magazines.

On seconds thoughts, perhaps I shouldn’t be troubling my feeble lady-brane with that.

Friday Feminist – Elaine Morgan

Cross posted

According to the Book of Genesis, God first created man. Woman was not only an afterthought, but an amenity. For close on two thousand years this holy scripture was believed to justify her subordination and explain her inferiority; for even as a copy she was not a very good copy. There were differences. She was not one of His best efforts.

There is a line in an old folk song that runs: ‘I called my donkey a horse gone wonky.’ Throughout most of the literature dealing with the differences between the sexes there runs a subtle underlying assumption that woman is a man gone wonky; that woman is a distorted version of the original blueprint; that they are the norm and we are the deviation.

It might have been expected that when Darwin came along and wrote an entirely different account of the Descent of Man, this assumption would have been eradicated, for Darwin didn’t believe she was an afterthought: he believed her origin was at least contemporaneous with man’s. It should have led to some kind of breakthrough in the relationship between the sexes. But it didn’t.

Almost at once men set about the congenial and fascinating task of working out an entirely new set of reasons why woman was manifestly inferior and irreversibly subordinate, and they have been happily engaged on this ever since. Instead of theology they use biology, and ethology, and primatology, but they use it to reach the same conclusions.

Elaine Morgan, The Descent of Woman, 1972


For reasons, I have been given a fabulous briefcase.

Orange bag

The colour is fabulous, even more orange than it appears in the photo. It has strong handles, a detachable shoulder strap, several compartments inside, including one for a laptop, a front pocket with a mobile phone pouch. So it is very practical, as well as being very beautiful.

It passes the “What would Megan say?” test. In spades. And then some.

Best of all, it was given to me by someone I like and admire very much. I shall think of her every time I use it, and regret the loss of the friendship that was growing between us. Of course we will stay in contact, but it won’t be the same.