The Dawn Chorus

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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?



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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 »

Christmas Chooks

Posted by hannahcolman on December 27, 2009

A Mom For Christmas!

Catherine Deveny, inaugural subject of The Dawn Chorus’ Women We Love bit, wrote a special Christmas message for Defamer Australia this year. You can read the whole thing here, and I strongly suggest you do, because Deveny’s yuletide musings are funny and relevant. I thought this part in particular would strike a chord with The Dawn Chorus readers.

I have for many years said having children and a vagina means December is spent being a slave and an emotional potty for most of the month. Yes that’s right. Christmas, turning back feminism 150 years.

(WARNING SALIENT POINT COMING. DON’T WORRY. IT’S ONLY A PARAGRAPH – THAT’S LIKE FOUR TWEETS – THERE’S NO SUCH THING AS A FREE COLUMN)

The amount of unpaid labor done by women at this time of year is astonishing. The blokes may pick up the ice, mow the lawn and carve the ham but I challenge you to look around on Christmas day and seriously work out how much of the food, thought, purchasing, organizing, cleaning, wrapping and social lubricant is provided by the women. Take away the woman’s effort and then see what you’re left with. No wonder they all chuck barneys, do their block and double their medication.

Merry Christmas, ladies!

Posted in Blog Watch, Family, Parenting & Family, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , | 3 Comments »

Does This Ad Make YOU Want To Read Essential Baby?

Posted by Clem Bastow on November 24, 2009

How much do I not want to click-through to Essential Baby today? Let me count the ways:

So, for those keeping score, that’s a faceless/objectified (pregnant) woman, wearing “sexy” lingerie, referred to as “like mini-vans”, under the banner “Pregnant women: hot or not?” and all within an ad roughly the size of a credit card. I believe that’s some sort of a record!

Yes, that is precisely how they are advertising Fairfax Digital’s parenting site via sidebars on TheAge.com.au. The ad links to “Essential Baby blogger” Joseph Kelly’s blog entry on whether or not he found his wife – the aforementioned “transportational unit for conveying children” (which isn’t as offensive as the decontextualised excerpt might suggest).

Stay classy, Essential Baby!

Posted in body image, Family, Media Watch, Parenting & Family, Watching The Ad Breaks | Tagged: , , , , | 6 Comments »

Parent = Mother

Posted by Leah on October 3, 2009

For ages I’ve been meaning to write about the issue of sexism in regards to male and female parental responsibility (for the record, I’m only discussing heterosexual, dual parent households here), and was finally spurred into action by this report yesterday about parents whose extreme neglect killed their daughter – the mother has been given a life sentence for murder while the father has been sentenced to 12 years for manslaughter.

Admittedly there may be details about the case that explain why the father – who lived in the same house – has been given a much lighter sentence. However, these (as far as I can see) haven’t been explained in media coverage, which to me is indicative in itself of a wide spread presumption in our society that, for better or worse, mothers are more responsible for their children than fathers are.

I say ‘for better or worse’ because depending on circumstances, mothers can be heaped with praise or damned for their actions…either way, the father is often left out of the equation and receives neither praise for a healthy, happy child nor damnation for a neglected, unhappy child.

Obviously this division of responsibility between parents can actually reflect reality in families where the mother takes the primary caring role for children – and I’m not arguing that every family should split responsibility 50/50, I think that’s for each couple to work out themselves. What I’m focusing on here is the presumption so often reflected in the media, workplaces and the courts that women should be more responsible for their children than men are.

A few cases in point. I recently was on the staff team negotiating my workplace’s Enterprise Agreement. I argued (in vain) for greater equity between maternity and paternity leave. Women in my workplace currently get more than 6 times the length of leave than men when they have a baby. I understand the argument that women have usually been through the physical experience of pregnancy and labour and that deserves time off on top of baby-caring leave; however, in my workplace mothers who adopt also get the full female entitlement, thereby showing the presumption behind the  unequal leave is based on one’s sex, not on whether one has just gone through pregnancy and labour or not. Surely dads have a right to care for their babies just as much as mums – not to mention the benefit to the mother and baby of having more ‘hands on deck’.

Victorians may well remember the case of baby ‘Catherine‘ who was abandoned outside a hospital in Melbourne. The entire media coverage presupposed it was the mother, not the father, who had left the baby there, and vilified her for this, while the role of the father was almost entirely ignored – many of us will remember the infamous Herald Sun headline ‘How Could She’.

My partner alerted me to this story by the BBC about research showing ‘Children whose mothers work are less likely to lead healthy lives than those with “stay at home” mothers.’ Yes, it’s all about the mums. Never mind fathers’ responsibility for their children.

Professor Catherine Law, who led the study, said they had not looked at fathers in this study because fathers employment levels had not changed whereas the numbers of working mothers had increased dramatically.

So, if I follow the argument correctly, it goes something like: ‘because men have always been absent, they’re not responsible…mothers used to be present, so, damn it, they still should be!’? A comment on the story by Naomi of Sussex echoes my point:

I’m cross on so many levels, but mainly a personal one! I work, my husband doesn’t, he is our daughter’s main carer…Why do people insist on saying ‘mother’ when they often mean ‘parent’. It’s wrong on other levels too of course, but for me it’s the stupidity of assuming a mum should stay at home and a dad should work – are we still in the 50s?

My point is simple: however couples choose to take responsibility for their children is their business and, unless no responsibility is taken i.e. the child is neglected, others should reserve judgement. I think this can best be done by the media, courts, workplaces and other important institutions taking as neutral a stance as possible i.e. making no assumptions and when an assumption is unavoidable (e.g. when deciding on maternity and paternity leave provisions) assuming equal rights and responsibilities between women and men.

Posted in Family, law, Parenting & Family | 9 Comments »

Love & Marriage… Don’t Go Together Like A Horse & Carriage

Posted by caitlinate on September 16, 2009

So, I know it’s lazy to just post a link and say ‘go look here’ but I think this piece by Catherine Deveny in the Sydney Morning Herald today is a worthy excuse for such an indolent act. I also think it’s a good kick off for a fun TDC discussion about marriage and it’s place and purpose in our current day and age.

The article begins:

I AM against gay marriage. I’m against straight marriage. I’m against marriage full stop. Why are we hanging on to this relic of an anachronistic system (which still reeks of misogyny and bigotry), established so men could own women to ensure their estates and titles were passed on to their kids – sorry, their sons? Time to ditch it.

Go read!

Posted in Faith and Religion, Family, glbt, law, Media Watch, Parenting & Family, Relationships, Sex And Love | Tagged: , , , , , | 55 Comments »

How Can Feminist Mums Avoid Being Humourless Childhood-Ruiners?

Posted by Mel Campbell on September 14, 2009

Jo Case has a fascinating article at Kill Your Darlings that focuses on a new book from Spinifex Press called Getting Real: Challenging The Sexualisation Of Girls. This is a topic The Dawn Chorus has discussed before, and these posts have always attracted lots of comments from mums who talk about the challenges they face trying to raise both boys and girls in the face of so many gendered cultural imperatives, from obsessing over the colour pink to seeing one’s body as a constant renovation project.

In a way, the comments people have made on blog posts like this – especially ones that come from personal experience of parenting – interest me more than the issues of female sexualisation (raunch culture) in the media, which are so mainstream it’s dispiriting, especially when they’re conflated with “empowerment”. The impression I get is that on one front, mums feel strongly enough about the issue to ban Barbies and pink things, to refuse to buy slutty pre-teen clothes and to stand up to schools and organisations who condone sexualised behaviour and attitudes.

Then there’s a subset of parents who appear to find this stuff amusing and ironic. Before the story got a little too old, I was planning to write a story for The Enthusiast about the quality of ‘edginess’, and the way that to involve children – who are consensually imagined as ‘pure’ and ‘innocent’ – in these knowing gestures treads an especially keen edge between propriety and obscenity. Indeed, as the Cotton On example reveals, certain companies actively market their products as ‘edgy’; part of the appeal to their consumers is that other people might find them offensive, and hence these consumers feel more sophisticated because they ‘get’ the joke.

That, for my mind, is the most confronting aspect of parenting – especially of girls. Are you going to be the kind of humourless, daggy mum who interferes in everything that’s cool and is a source of mortification to your children (“You just don’t GET it, Mum!”), or are you going to be a hip mum who helps your kids navigate pop culture rather than trying to restrict their access to it?

I mean, as adults we all fondly tell stories about the wowserish parents who banned junk food and served pitiful Pritikin imitations of the foods kids love; who prevented us from watching commercial TV, or even any TV at all; who wouldn’t buy the ‘cool’ clothes so we had to look like dicks in front of our friends; who wouldn’t buy the in-demand toys such as Barbies and Cabbage Patch Kids. (Oh boy, I’m showing my age with that one!)

But this just goes to show that kids don’t ever forget this stuff. Time can transform an embarrassing mum into an endearingly daggy one, but do we have to accept being an embarrassment to our children as the price of ‘protecting’ them from a culture they desperately want to participate in? Do we ‘know better’ than our kids or should we perhaps try to find some middle ground with them, rather than being the inflexible person banning things?

One of my main worries as a feminist is that feminism is so often about being angry and disapproving; it rarely seems hip unless it concedes something to raunch culture. Just last week I was thinking, “No wonder people say feminists are unattractive; nobody likes hanging out with angry people.” Perhaps we should also consider what we’re teaching children about feminism if their main experience of it is telling them what they’re not allowed to do.

Posted in body image, Family, Parenting & Family | Tagged: , , , , , , | 26 Comments »

Women We Love: Rachel Power

Posted by hannahcolman on May 14, 2009

Rachel Power with Griffin and Freya

Rachel Power with Griffin and Freya

Melbourne-based writer and editor Rachel Power has had her finger in an assortment of pies over the years – she’s worked as a court artist for television news, designed album covers and taught life-drawing. And she’s done plenty of writing – as a freelance journalist, a biographer (she wrote Alison Rehfisch: A Life for Art), a contributor to The Age Cheap Eats Guide, and as chief reporter for the Australian Education Union Newsletter. She’s certainly come a long way from her cadetship at The Canberra Times, where she spent a lot of time trying to draw coherent answers from teenage guitarists for her column Band Scene.

In August last year, Red Dog Books published Rachel’s second book, The Divided Heart: Art and Motherhood – a collection of interviews with Australian artists including singer Clare Bowditch, expat actress Rachel Griffiths, filmmaker Sarah Watt and author Nicki Gemmell. In the book, Rachel asks these women about their choice to have children and the ramifications of motherhood for their art. Rachel’s journalistic aptitude is apparent as she teases out her subjects’ unflinchingly honest opinions on the delicate balance between art and motherhood. The Divided Heart is book ended with Rachel’s own experiences – she shares with us the strains of cosseting her creative instinct while being mother to Freya, 4 and Griffin, 7.

Here, she chats with The Dawn Chorus about the artist/mother dichotomy, the debate about the inherent inequalities between men and women, and the likelihood of her domestically-themed reincarnation.

* * *

The Dawn Chorus: How long did it take to write The Divided Heart?

Rachel Power: I think about four years.

TDC: There’s a huge amount of work in it…

RP: That was in no way four years full-time! I mean… I might have written two or three nights a week, largely between 10pm and 1am. And I had [Freya] during that time, so there would have been whole months when I wasn’t doing anything at all. And also I spent a good year trying to get it published.

TDC: At what point in the process of writing the book did you actually start looking for a publisher?

RP: I think I’d done a selection of interviews – maybe five – before I had a publisher. Because I wanted to get a good sample of interviews together, and have a clear idea of what I was doing. And I already had two arts grants to do it as well. And I got a fellowship from Varuna, the writers’ house, so I felt like there was interest in the idea. Every time I approached a woman and asked her if I could do an interview on that theme, I’d get these ‘Thank God!’ reactions… you know… ‘I’ve never had the scope for talking about this before!’ And I realised it was really meaningful to these women, it was a huge question in their lives, how they were going be both [artist and mother], and the implications of children for their career and vice versa. So it was no small theme and I think it’s got all sorts of implications for the nature of art and the nature of women’s lives and the choices that women are forced to make. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in art, Celebrity, Dawn Chorus Library, Family, Interviews, Parenting & Family, women we love | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Damir Dokic: Hitting Jelena Was “For Her Sake”

Posted by Clem Bastow on May 7, 2009

I’m sure I’m not the only person who was pleased to see Jelena Dokic’s comeback (and to have her come back to Australia) at this year’s Australian Open, particularly in light of her treatment at the hands of her father and “coach”, Damir; to see her remove herself from that situation and go on to professional and personal triumph was inspiring.

Well, now that Jelena has recently told of the physical abuse she suffered at the hands of her father in addition to the bellowing and belittling that came to be known as Damir’s horrible trademark, naturally Damir has had to have his two cents, since he evidently lives in a magical world where violent men actually have a right of reply when their abuse is revealed:

“If I was ever a little bit more aggressive towards Jelena, it was for her sake,” Mr Dokic told the Serbian newspaper Vecernje Novosti.

In the latest Sport & Style magazine, published in The Age this week, the tennis star spoke in detail about the trauma her father caused and how she fled her family home in October 2002.

“When I was young, I was beaten by my parents,” Mr Dokic said, “and I am now thankful to them for that, because that helped me to become the right person. Anyway, is there any parent who didn’t do that at least once or twice — of course, for the sake of their children?”

That’s right, Damir – what frightened young girl hasn’t been beaten by and bellowed at by her father in order to keep her hitting those aces? Obviously Damir’s rantings are the sort of quote-fests the tabloids live for, but sometimes I question the value of allowing known abusers to speak freely about their crimes in this manner. I’m inclined to think that stories like these send an unfortunate message to women (or indeed, anyone) who’ve been abused, in essence that what they’ve suffered is terrible… but you know, we ought to let their abuser share their side of the story, too. What are your thoughts?

Posted in Celebrity, Family, Media Watch, Sport, violence against women | Tagged: , , , , , | 8 Comments »

Bothersome babies and breast feeding

Posted by Cate on March 11, 2009

When I read news reports like this one about Shayne Sutton being told off for leaving a council meeting to express milk for her three month old baby I honestly wonder what year we are in.

Interestingly, the matter was raised by a female pollie, Families and Community Services chairwoman Geraldine Knapp, highlighting my suspicion that women in power are often more critical of other women.

Families and Community Services chairwoman Geraldine Knapp was the first to raise the issue, accusing Cr Sutton of “arrogance and contempt” for the chamber by absenting herself.

It seems rather like a gendered attack to me. When I go to meeting at my workplace, meeting are most often interrupted by people moving their cars (to avoid a parking ticket) , a cigarette break or to attend to a mobile phone.  I wonder if this is the same at council meetings, and if such interruptions are passed without comment?

The comments of Deputy Mayor Graham Quirk
“I might point out that there are other people in this chamber, other mothers who have very young children as well but are able and willing and are doing so … they’re performing their roles,”

seems to liken children and their mothers are some kind of homogeneous entity where there’s a norm of quiet, subserviant babies who all require the same kind of care at all times. I have never had children but I assume that expressing milk can’t necessarily be done at set times on the clock in between meetings.

Family friendly workplace looks good on paper, but making it work in a real active sense requires a level of flexibility and support which the council seems to be devoid of. I can’t help wondering what the response would have been if she starting breast feeding during the meeting?

Further, the reality is that many women do not have access to paid maternity leave and even those who do suffer negative consequences in regard to career advancement and superannuation. This would be even more that case for an elected female politican who’s need to be in the public eye would not be helped by a lengthy absence.

Posted in Family, Parenting & Family, Politics | 10 Comments »