Not Welcome Anymore

Oh, Bob Ellis. And to think I loved you once.

Ellis is truly of Labor's old guard, with his legacy of eloquent humanistic writings about the inner workings of that party and Australian politics. However, he hasn't been coping in recent years with the decline in the relevance of the Australian Labor Party, producing increasingly disjointed and even offensive pieces in his blog on ABC's The Drum. Today however he has outdone himself, with this disturbing piece on accusations of rape made against political figures. It's all feminists' fault, complains Ellis, that great liberal and left leaning political figures are brought down by these mud-slinging woman. Feminism is killing the left.

There's so many things wrong here, from Ellis' apologia for rape - he never acknowledges the complicity or illegality of his heroes' actions - to his assessment of the political potential of some of his touted victims. The former far outweighs the latter in gravity, of course. But I'm particularly incensed by Ellis' view of women in political situations. Women are not a part of the left movement, not human beings of equal value; they are a distraction from men's real work. Ellis may be an anachronism in his views on this, but he's not a rare one; it's a sentiment frequently expressed in blogs and writings - there are "people", and then there are "women". Two separate things. Women are a sideline from the real action, the important men's business. In Ellis' worldview, feminism is not the vital part of progressive that I dearly believe it to be; it is at war with it. Ellis has written beautifully on human rights; apparently to him women's rights are not human rights, women's rights are at odds with the greater good of humanity.

This is where the rush to blame the woman in political scandals springs from. In his heart Ellis believes that women have no business messing around in politics. They should keep to the sides and keep their mouths shut. His views aren't welcome in this society any more, and I hope (though don't entirely expect) to see him lose his position with the Drum as a result. It's kind of heartbreaking to see such things thought, said and written down, and from someone I once greatly admired (and personally signed copies of whose books I have on my shelf) nevertheless.

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Just a quick word about our new poll question. I highly admire the work of the Anti-Bogan, who exposes the racist, misogynistic and homophobic things said on Facebook and puts them on the public record. By definition your average racist isn't very bright, and a lot of people saying these things list their employment details along with their statements about how all Aussie they are and how great the Nazis were (we fought the Nazis. They lost). It so happens that sometimes these statements are brought to the attention of said employers, and people have lost their jobs as a result. So, I'm asking if you think this is okay. Should people be fired for statements made on Facebook - they may be the support of their family but that doesn't excuse breaking the law, or are they entitled to their views away from work - bigotry's awful and all, but not worth losing your job over? Voting closes on Saturday...

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