The Dawn Chorus

Fresh Australian Feminism

Archive for the ‘Women’s Health’ Category

A precedent set in Queensland abortion law, what next?

Posted by caitlinate on October 14, 2010

As many of you will be aware, earlier today Tegan Simone Leach and Sergie Brennan – charged with “procuring an abortion and supplying drugs to procure an abortion” – were acquitted at trial.

This is a fantastic result and one I’m sure the Cairns couple (as they seem to be universally known) were and are very relieved to hear. It’s also being hailed by feminists as a victory for reasons relating to the draconian laws currently in place in Queensland. Under the 110 year old law of that sunny state, abortion is illegal except to protect the mother’s life or her physical or mental wellbeing.

Which leads me to wonder if this is a victory not just because the couple have been acquitted but because of the legal precedent it sets. Apparently there is some feeling amongst those who have worked in women’s health in Queensland that an open challenge to the abortion laws currently in place would be a very precarious undertaking. That not only would any move to progressively alter the laws fail but that it might result in even more restrictive ones being put in place instead. There has been a lot of criticism heaped upon the Queensland Premier Anna Bligh (a self proclaimed feminist) for her failure to express solidarity with the Cairns couple or to undertake any party lead reform (she even went so far as to put a dampener on a colleague’s attempt to legislatively push for reform). I’m not necessarily adverse to criticisms of Bligh and I certainly don’t have much faith in politicians to actually follow through on their professed ideologies (though conservative politicians are generally more reliable on this account). What I wonder is if having this case go to trial and result in an outcome that declares that women in Queensland can take control of their bodies and their fertility without successful state persecution is better politically than a) the case being dropped or b) unsuccessful or further damaging attempts to legislate (without precedent).

I’d even go so far as to posit that the public outrage, media attention and political involvement of organizations like GetUp only came about because the case actually went to trial and that if it hadn’t we’d be stuck – loud in our feminist corners but still invisible in the mainstream – hailing that, rather than today’s outcome, as the victory it might not have necessarily been.

Obviously none of this might matter to Brennan and Leach who have probably had an unimaginably horrible time dealing with the public attention cast on them. I’ve read reports that they received death threats – a despicable and terrifying thing for both of them to have had to experience. I can only imagine the strain this would have put on their lives and their relationship and there is no reasoning that excuses or makes acceptable what they’ve had to endure. While I can argue that the way things panned out – while risky and awful for those directly involved – was a more successful route to change for feminists and women in Queensland, it’s distressing that no matter what path we take it still has to involve pain and suffering for those doing something as simple as seeking an abortion.

This wouldn’t have had to be the way change came about if members of the Queensland parliament listened to the 90% of Australians who believe abortion should be legal and stood together to legislate accordingly. As it is, my totally-not-legally-trained self sees this as a potentially good precedent. That’s really not enough. Let’s see the laws change now, before any more women have to stand trial.

Posted in law, Politics, reproductive rights, Women's Health | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Feminism Has Failed, not really, however, it will be debated tomorrow night

Posted by Rhiana Whitson on September 21, 2010

Don’t miss this event!

Tomorrow night! 6.30pm!

Feminism Has Failed

part of the Wheeler Centre’s Intelligence Squared debate series…

Featuring:

Author of The Feminist Denial Monica Dux, ABC journo Jennifer Byrne, journo Gay Alcorn and a few guys also…

I’ve gotta run, however, here’s what the Wheeler Centre has to say about tomorrow nights event…

After generations of effort, women still bear a disproportionate burden of domestic labour. Women are under-represented in the senior ranks of politics, business and the professions.

Women continue to be denied equal pay for equal work.

Perhaps more troubling still is the fact that the basic structures of power and influence bear the cultural marks of masculinity. In all significant ways, it remains a man’s world.

However, it could be argued that If feminism has failed, then it is because it has failed to mobilise women and that female acquiescence rather than male determination has preserved the status quo.

Or should feminists be celebrating a deeper victory in which a new generation of young men and women take equality for granted thanks to feminists who ushered in a deeper concern for justice – irrespective of gender?

Want more info? Check our Clem’s great interview with Monica Dux and Zora Simic posted here on TDC way back in 2008…

When?

Tomorrow night 6.30 – 8.30pm

Where?

Melbourne Town Hall

90-120 Swanston Street
Melbourne
Victoria 3000

Tix are  $20 full and $12 conc.

and are available online

Posted in Dawn Chorus Library, Interviews, Politics, reproductive rights, sex, Uncategorized, women we love, Women's Health | 2 Comments »

Matthew Newton: He did it again

Posted by Rhiana Whitson on September 5, 2010

Matthew Newton has committed domestic violence. He is a criminal and needs to go to prison.
Matthew Newton is a drug addict and mentally ill. He needs our pity and our help.

I’m no psychiatrist, but I do know this:

However, troubled or drug addled Matthew Newton may be,  he’s committed a serious crime, and it’s not his first offense.

As we wait to see whether Newton will be held accountable for his latest actions, we should ask ourselves why a man who just three years ago went to court over a similar incident was allowed to re-offend, and, why he was allowed to grace our television screens.

Even before this latest incident, It’s been a sorry decline for Matthew Newton.

Not that Channel Seven seemed to mind. After checking himself out of rehab earlier this year, Channel Seven offered Newton a $200, 000 contract to host their brand new reality-TV series, The X-Factor.

How quickly the commercial networks forget!

The question posed by Media Watch is this: why was Newton offered the job in the first place?

Or indeed, any other acting jobs following his court appearance in 2007?

(If you haven’t already, make sure you watch this episode – it just confirms how lucky we are that journalism like this still exists to keep the mainstream media accountable, especially in the current climate of horse-race journalism)

Just in case you’re as forgetful as Channel Seven, here’s a refresher: in 2007 Newton was charged with two counts of common assault, one count of stalk/intimidate with the intent of causing physical/mental harm and assault occasioning actual bodily harm. According to media reports at the time, the catalyst for Brooke Satchwell to bravely speak out, occurred after she was repeatedly punched  in the head by Newton whilst she yelled for him to stop.

Um, Channel Seven, is this really the type of guy you want to host your network’s answer to Australian Idol?

Unfortunately, Channel Seven clearly held the same opinion as Newton’s star struck appeal judge.

What should have been an open and closed case, rather strangely (or perhaps not, considering Newton’s connections) ended with Newton walking away innocent man.

Newton’s lenient 12-month good behavior bond was quashed by a Sydney judge on appeal.

According to News.com.au the judge considered Newton an “utmost gentleman” who had committed the offense because of severe depression.

Apparently he was unlikely to re-offend.

The justice system’s handling of this case was another slap in the face for Australian women: the career of a well connected actor is more important than your right to safety.

At the time of the charges a number of recognisable faces sprang to Newton’s defense, offering character references for what they saw as an unfairly targeted Newton.

At the time of the court hearing, Newton was dating Gracie Otto, Barry Otto’s then 19-year old daughter.

Barry Otto:

“Matthew is a great friend and a great person. I don’t understand why people are trying to destroy his reputation with this sort of stuff,”

Sue Hill, mother of Gracie, wife of Barry:

“Matthew is the sweetest, nicest person in the world. He would never hurt a flea”.
“He would be absolutely devastated about all this becoming public.”

(How about the devastation Satchwell endured through firstly, the incident(s) itself,  facing the public with her allegations, and finally dealing with the miscarriage of justice performed by a  judge who rendered her abuser innocent)

The Otto’s must be eating their words now.

It certainly didn’t take the commercial networks very long to become convinced of Newton’s supposed innocence either.

Although, you’d think that even despite an overturned conviction, an actor who’s name had become synonymous with domestic violence would be enough to keep the commercial networks away…

As the saying goes, any publicity is good publicity – and with that, Newton’s career was resurrected to play the role of Terry Clark in Channel Nine’s Underbelly.

To tidy Newton’s image up, although as Media Watch pointed out, the role was rather apt,  News Ltd. got to work on some cross promotion last year with this hard-hitting piece of journalism.

It’s good to see Newton doing what he does best — acting. It’s easy to forget, amid the swirling controversy of the past couple of years, what a good actor he is.

Yes, indeed, great actor. The Hun’s Erin McWhirter sure fell for the shameless PR coordinated by the Herald Sun and Channel Nine.

Contemplating his life in the past two years has brought Newton some sense of inner peace. He hints that turning 30 has played a major part in turning things around.

‘‘Mistakes of your 20s, professionally or whatever, you just come into your own a little bit in your sense of understanding, ” Newton said.

Newton’s reintegration into commercial television was a success, so much so, Channel Seven chose to ignore a couple of tense moments between Rachel and Newton earlier this year and a stint in rehab when it decided they wanted him on board to host X-Factor.

Following Seven’s announcement, another bout of cross-promotion ensued, handy seeing as many Australian’s are unaware that mainstream media is pretty much completely owned by a couple of key players.

“My New Start”

“A changed man
. Putting the past behind him…
…a refreshingly honest interview…

— New Idea, 9th August, 2010”
(as cited on Media Watch website)

Today Tonight were keen to get in on the action also.

Matt White: You haven’t been boring, have you?

Matthew Newton: No, no… I’ve just always done my thing.

— Channel Seven, Today Tonight, 2nd August, 2010
(as cited on Media Watch website)

Why the soft treatment? Vested interests of course. Today Tonight, on Channel Seven. Who publish New Idea? Why,  Pacific Magazines, of course. And who are they? Why, they’re apart of the Seven Media Group.

Fair enough when you consider Channel Seven spent 22 million dollars to buy the rights for it.

But how’s the media treating Newton now? Surely he’s not going to get the soft treatment again?

Think again.

The lack of focus on domestic violence in the media since breaking news of Rome, has recast Newton as mentally ill. Apparently Newton has a series of problems stemming from his childhood spent growing up in the limelight. It’s all a bit ‘poor Matthew.’

A source quoted on the Herald Sun online even went as far as this:

“He’s just got that typical tortured artist’s mind.”

Oh god, really?

To summarise, I’d like to quote Neil (not in relation to ACA, but appropriate nonetheless) who left this comment on the Media Watch website last week:

Wonderful how the vested-interest media are turning “Matthew” into a victim here. “Matthew” now has a mental health issue and “We” in this country are not doing enough to help people with mental health issues. Cleverly, we’re now partly to blame for this maggot’s tanties.

Indeed:

‘Schizophrenia’ fears for Matthew Newton

UPDATE 12:49pm: TROUBLED actor Matthew Newton is suffering schizophrenia-like symptoms from dangerous use of hard drugs such as ice.
Newton, 33, who is undergoing treatment at Sydney’s Northside West Clinic, has been dumped by leading acting agency RGM, which represents Cate Blanchett, Rose Byrne and Anthony LaPaglia.
It tops off a week in which Newton was sacked from the TV show The X Factor and dropped by his manager, Titus Day.
Newton is understood to have been taking a cocktail of ice, marijuana and cocaine.
His drug use was known to his family and to some senior employees at the Seven Network, when it hired him.

Absent from this update is any mention of the incident which sparked Newton being dropped from by his management. DOMESTIC VIOLENCE.
Because of this omission, I guess it’s no wonder Daryl posted this at the bottom of the article:

Daryl Posted at 4:47 AM August 30, 2010
Matt has taken a brave step forward and is getting treatment, good on him. As a sufferer of depression for many years myself, it’s not easy to admit to a problem and to seek help. Don’t give up Matt, there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Channel Nine, aired this interview with Bert and Patti Newton.

I’m certainly not criticising Patti or Bert for sticking up for their son, after all they’re just being parents. Yet we should not let their parental defense cloud our view of what Newton has done, and therefore deride the seriousness of what happened to Rachel Taylor, Brooke Satchwell and other victims of domestic violence.

Yet, it seems ACA did exactly just that.
At the end of ACA Tracy Grimshaw says this:

We urge anyone suffering from mental illness or depression to call beyondblue or lifeline.

Absent from this is any mention of how women affected by domestic violence can get help.
Again, Bert is under contract with Channel Nine, so perhaps this is why Grimshaw gave the issue the soft touch, and after all, we can’t blame them for their sons behavior. However, regardless of the reasons, ACA is doing their female viewers a disservice by ignoring the issue of domestic violence.

Too many women die each year as a result of domestic violence. I’m hoping that this time around, we’re going to see justice served for Rachel Taylor and Brooke Satchwell (who must be observing the current events with sadness and anger – she knew the seedy underbelly of this “utmost gentleman” all along).
Like all men who abuse their partners, Matthew Newton should be held accountable for his  actions.

Because really, how many women does a man need to assault before he’s convicted and his celebrity career is over?



Posted in Celebrity, domestic violence, Family, Film & Television, Media Watch, Relationships, Sex And Love, Uncategorized, violence against women, Women's Health | 9 Comments »

The Twenty-Eighth Down Under Feminists Carnival

Posted by caitlinate on September 4, 2010

Oh my gawd, hi everyone. So this is the first time I’ve done a blog carnival and I put my hand up for it 6 months ago not realising that this was going to be like the busiest two or three weeks I would be having all year. So! There is no theme and things might be organised a little incoherently but I hope I’ve done a good job and you like…

WELCOME to the 28th Down Under Feminists Carnival!

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Announcements, Blog Watch, body image, domestic violence, Family, glbt, Interviews, law, Media Watch, music, Politics, porn, Relationships, reproductive rights, sex, Trans, violence against women, women we love, Women's Health | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 17 Comments »

Nick/Cut

Posted by Mel Campbell on May 24, 2010

There is currently a MONSTROUS DEBATE brewing in the US surrounding female genital cutting*. The Academy of American Pediatrics is reviewing its policy on paediatric genital surgery in girls, and has caused uproar for mooting the idea of a “ritualistic genital nick”.

The committee aims to address the ethical dilemmas of doctors dealing with East African families who say plainly that if the American doctor does not perform the procedure, they will fly their daughter to Africa to undergo the surgery there, where it is likely to be much more radical, painful and life-endangering.

The committee’s chair, Seattle paediatrician and bioethicist Dr Doug Diekema, says the putative ‘nick’:

“would remove no tissue, would not touch any significant organ but, rather [it] would be a small nick of the clitoral hood which is the equivalent of the male foreskin – nothing that would scar, nothing that would do damage”

The ‘nick’ is being hailed as a major capitulation to politically correct cultural relativism, as a legal step backwards for America (where FGC is totally illegal), and as an undermining of feminists and community activists who have campaigned against the practice.

Two members of US Congress are proposing a bipartisan bill called the Girls Protection Act that would make it illegal to transport a minor outside the United States for the purposes of undergoing FGC. Many European countries, beginning with Norway, already have similar legislation.

FCG is illegal in Australia, but an ABC report from February 2010 suggests that the surgery is being performed illegally as children are sometimes admitted to hospital with post-operative complications.

Zeinab Mohamud, who works at the Family and Reproductive Rights Education Program at Melbourne’s Royal Women’s Hospital, says that the practice is cultural, not religious. “When something is cultural and the people have been doing it for so long, it’s not easy to either eliminate it or to say, ‘you have got a bad culture’,” she told ABC News.

As a feminist, I find it difficult to articulate a position on this. I am strongly against genital surgery for any reasons but functional ones (for instance, repairing fistulas). I find clitoridectomy and infibulation to be mutilative procedures aimed at destroying women’s sexual pleasure and autonomy, and I do feel uneasy about any move that could be interpreted as officially sanctioning the cutting of otherwise healthy minors who are legally unable to consent.

But at the same time, I find it ironic that there’s such an outcry against a proposed, hypothetical and (it seems to me) minor surgery in a country where it’s becoming increasingly mainstream for women to pierce, bleach and surgically reshape their own genitals. If we’re starting a debate about genitals and feminism, I would be uneasy for it to focus only on ‘primitive’ practices endured only by African and Muslim girls.

* I’m using the term “female genital cutting” or FGC here in order to create a neutral tone. “Female circumcision” has been criticised for understating the invasiveness of clitoridectomy and infibulation, whereas “female genital mutilation” has been criticised for increasing the stigma for patients who’ve had these procedures. See here for more information.

Posted in Faith and Religion, Uncategorized, Women's Health | Tagged: , , , | 10 Comments »

The stigma of abortion

Posted by Nic Heath on March 4, 2010

I first heard of Angie Jackson over at Mamamia - [From Mamamia, which Mia found at The Frisky]:

“If I can’t talk about my first trimester abortion, which was legal and in my case life-saving, then who the hell can talk about her abortion? Or his abortion story, from the women he was with?…”

Angie has gained web notoriety for making her medical abortion public – on YouTube and Twitter. Aside from the issues that accompany such a public exposure of one’s private life, that sort of honesty takes immense courage, and like Angie says could help negate the stigma that surrounds pregnancy termination. I recently discovered a piece by Adelaide Advertiser columnist Clementine Ford written in 2008 defending her “pro-choice” views (although she calls it pro-life – focusing on the woman’s position in an unwanted pregnancy), and in it Ford writes freely about her own experience with abortion. 

My current views on talking about terminations in the public domain crystallised after reading Clementine’s column – and particularly this:

“I truly believe that women who have abortions are forced to feel shame over a decision that is both a) legal and b) so completely unconnected with the business of anyone else other than the woman and man involved.”

What else in our society is a legal act (in some states) and yet remains shrouded in shame? Public admissions of abortion are effectively taboo, and yet each year thousands of Australian women end unwanted pregnancy through termination.  I don’t recommend that women live-tweet their termination, but neither should they have to hide their decision under layers of guilt.

The abortion debate continues to incite extreme reactions from those against the practice, and it is inevitable that frank accounts like Angie Jackson’s further fan the flames of opposition. Tory Shepherd, for the The Punch, writes of a political party campaigning on an anti-abortion platform for the upcoming South Australian election, illustrating how controversial the issue remains in some quarters. In her piece Shepherd identifies one of the most frustrating elements of the abortion debate, which is that: 

“…the debate has not moved on in decades. The pro-lifers refuse to accept reality, and keep sparking these hate-waves, which in turn forces pro-choicers to reject their accusations, and so the vicious whirlpool goes.”

In 1971 French writer and philosopher Simone de Beauvoir composed a declaration signed by 343 women (Manifestio of the 343) in response to laws in France prohibiting abortion, in which the signatories attested to having had a termination. Are personal admissions to having had an abortion, made in the public realm, like this and Angie Jackson’s, necessary to reduce the social stigma surrounding it? Are they ultimately helpful? I acknowledge that for some women the decision to end an unwanted pregnancy is a traumatic one that they will never want to disclose publicly, but how do we stop women who are comfortable with their choice fearing public shame?

Posted in Politics, Women's Health | Tagged: , , | 3 Comments »

Intersex Australians Classified Under ‘Sexual Deviant’

Posted by caitlinate on October 16, 2009

Anti-androgens are drugs that restrict the release of hormones – primarily testosterone – in the body. They can be used as a treatment for prostate cancer, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), acne and male pattern baldness. They also work to suppress the male libido/sexual drive and as such is used to ‘treat’ sex offenders. Additionally, intersex people that identify as female might take anti-androgen medication to help with hormone imbalances and some trans women (that are transitioning medically, sometimes in the lead up to surgery) will take it to suppress testosterone so that introduced estrogen can work more effectively on their body.

In Australia the main/only anti androgens I could find available are Cyprone, Cyprostat, Cyproterone Acetate (the generic name), Procur, Cyprohexal and Androcur. If you follow any of those drug links you’ll see they can only be prescribed for:

1014    Advanced carcinoma of the prostate;
1404    To reduce drive in sexual deviations in males.

You have to fit in to one of these two categories to get the drug. So, unless you have pretty much incurable prostate cancer, if you need an anti-androgen in Australia – and can’t afford a non-subsidised prescription – your doctor has probably had to get a little inventive with the prescription and classify you as a ‘sexual deviant’. What’s in a label, right? Well, if you are classified as a ‘sexual deviant’ and prescribed this medication then the Therapeutic Goods Administration will put you on their list of possible sex offenders. That’s right. In Australia we like to classify intersex and trans women as possible sex offenders. It can’t just be argued away as a bureaucratic list. It’s dehumanising for people who already have enough trouble being treated as human beings.

And, seriously, who knows how the TGA information is being shared or with who. Does Centrelink? The DOCS? Next time we have another sex-offenders-not-in-our-neighbourhood panic are we going to start pulling TGA files and combining them with the various state sex offender lists?

Credit where credit it due, first heard about this here.

UPDATE. It seems you can access the medication under:

1230 Moderate to severe androgenisation in non-pregnant women (acne alone is not a sufficient indication of androgenisation).

As seen here. (Click on the ‘conditions for prescribing’ link.) I apologise for having not seen or mentioned this before. There are still worries though. If the previously reported isn’t the case why are intersex and trans women being lead to believe it is true? Why are their doctors not aware they don’t need to be classified as sexual deviants? As Wildly Parenthetical says:

I have, however, heard of at least two trans or intersex people who were advised that they would be placed on a sex offender registry if they were prescribed the drug under the PBS, which raises the question of what role physicians play in a potentially scaremongering style of gatekeeping.

Posted in Blog Watch, Intersex, Trans, Women's Health | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments »

Womens’ bodies are whale like

Posted by mscate on August 18, 2009

I was angered on Friday to receive a copy of PETA’s latest marketing campaign to turn meat eaters over to all things vegetarian…. petasavethewhales

Yes apparently womens’ bikinied bodies that don’t fit some lithe physique that’s unattainable to many are ‘whale’ like and contain ‘blubber.

Further, their press release states,

“Trying to hide your thunder thighs and balloon belly is no day at the beach,” says PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman. “PETA has a free ‘Vegetarian Starter Kit’ for people who want to lose pounds while eating as much as they like.

I was vegetarian myself for 10 years during which I certainly was not able to lose pounds eating whatever I  liked. And haven’t PETA made women feel inadequate enough about their bodies with their advertisements of naked vegetarian female celebrities, usually draped with fruit or baby animals?

PETA also fail to consider the reality that many women are curvy or ‘overweight’ despite a vegetarian diet? You can eat a lot of vegan Oreos or ice cream in one sitting. They also seem keen to simply ‘guilt’ women into restricting what they eat, for weight loss instead of ethical reasons. Certainly one step towards an eating disorder for those with any propensities for such things. It reminds me of when I was at school and the participants in the World Vision 40 Hour Famine were overwhelming young girls.

Posted in body image, Politics, Women's Health | Tagged: | 20 Comments »

The contentious debate about pain relief during childbirth

Posted by Nic Heath on July 20, 2009

Dr Denis Walsh, one of Britain’s leading midwives, caused a global furore last week when he spoke out against the ‘epidural epidemic’ currently sweeping the UK. Dr Walsh claims, among other things, 20 per cent of epidurals are given to women who don’t need them, and advocates alternative methods of pain relief during labour such as yoga and birthing pools.

Despite being reported by the BBC as saying in some cases epidurals are very useful, Dr Walsh’s comments have been taken as a personal insult by women all over the internet.

The collective outrage has been fed by provocative and misleading headlines:

Just put up with pain of childbirth: UK professor Dr Denis WalshHerald Sun

Male Midwife Tells Women Take Pregnancy Pain Without DrugsFox News

Dr Walsh’s comments seem to have struck a sensitive seam of guilt felt by many women in relation to childbirth. The many stories and blog posts on the web about the issue have drawn thousands of comments from readers, and many mothers speak defensively about guilt and of being judged.

 Remola from Wagga on a Herald Sun forum:

“All I can say is I AM A SUPER MUM just for being a mum and I’m happy to say I took the drugs 2 yrs ago and I will take them again if I feel the need despite what is said.”

Mammamia reader claystep asks “do mothers really need more stuff to feel guilty about??”

Another point of contention is Dr Walsh’s gender.

Liz45 on Crikey:

“To have a male carry on in this manner is just too ludicrous for words. What the hell would he know? … He can say what he likes, safe in the knowledge that he’ll never have to experience it!”

Mia Freedman struck up the refrain, ‘no uterus, no opinion’, in her blog post on the subject, ‘Brave man tells women in labour to toughen up because pain relief is for wussbags’, which many of her readers reiterated.

This is surely a counterproductive and reactionary response to Dr Walsh’s comments, not to mention one that is plain sexist. The reasoning behind it is dangerously exclusionary. It’s too easy to substitute one element and end up with something much more malevolent - say, ‘no uterus, no admission’ etc. Suddenly such logic is pretty clearly discriminatory.

It is the sort of thinking that many feminists have been seeking to overturn for years – when applied to circumstances such as the role of women in professional sport like AFL.

Dr Walsh is a senior midwife and associate professor in midwifery at Nottingham University, a good reason to take into account his opinion, and there have of course been more rational responses to his views.

Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists president Dr Ted Weaver:

What we want to get away from is the sort of maternity care where mothers are given an epidural to shut them up so they can…be baby-sat while the labour progresses.

Alison Bailey commenting on Crikey:

“As women, we have been inculcated to believe that childbirth is a horrible and scary experience full of pain and fear. It is well known that fear increases pain and no doubt also increases the number of women opting for epidural, regardless of how their labour may or may not go.”

This whole episode raises a number of questions – like why have women reacted so strongly to a man recommending more options for women during childbirth, while actions to limit choice – the new restrictions on homebirths – have been almost entirely unremarked upon? Why would a woman feel guilty about her labour? And what can be done to make childbirth a more positive experience for women?

Posted in Media Watch, Parenting & Family, reproductive rights, Women's Health | Tagged: , , , , | 13 Comments »

When Supermarkets Are More Aware Of What Women Want Than The Government

Posted by Clem Bastow on July 2, 2009

One of my – and I’m sure many other Australians’, female and male – biggest bugbears is the fact that the Rudd Government has flatly refused to remove the GST on women’s sanitary products that was brought in approximately fifty thousand years earlier by the Howard Government when the GST was introduced to Australia. Their refusal to bin, as my friend Mel called it on Twitter, “the world’s stupidest and most sexist tax” suggests that there are people in the Rudd Government who honestly believe that tampons and pads are monthly “luxury” items and not feminine hygiene essentials.

Well, I never thought I’d live to see the day that a supermarket chain drew attention to the idiocy of the ‘tampon tax’ – which it’s worth adding is nearing its 10th birthday – in a marketing campaign: Coles will be “paying” the GST on all women’s essentials for the next week as one of their specials. I spotted a television ad during morning tele today, and here’s the word-up from Coles’ website (emphasis mine), in this instance regarding Carefree liners (though all sanitary items are included in the special):

You shouldn’t be taxed for being a woman. Coles will pay the GST to the government for all feminine hygiene products bought in our stores, so that you don’t have to.

It’s a shame that the special only lasts for the next week, but in terms of a statement made within an economic climate and retail industry that generally wants women to spend as much as they possibly can (or perhaps more correctly, can’t – hello credit cards) on anything and everything, I find it quite revolutionary. Sure, it’s a marketing ploy – they want you to spend your dollars at Coles – but the fact that they are also willing to highlight the ridiculous nature of the ‘tampon tax’ in the meantime is heartening and suggests that, unlike our Government, someone high up in Coles is actually listening to what Australian women want. (If you’d like to send Coles a thumbs-up, you can do so here.)

So, for the nth time, Prime Minister Rudd and Mr Swan: WHY ARE WOMEN STILL BEING TAXED FOR GETTING THEIR PERIODS?

Update at 12.30pm: here’s the catalogue page, too, in all its newsprinty glory:

Picture 61

Can we say it’s a small handful of loose change, but one giant change for womankind?

Posted in Business, Media Watch, Parenting & Family, Politics, Watching The Ad Breaks, Women's Health | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 12 Comments »

 
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