26 May 2015

Stuff Baby G Says

Baby G is three and a half. An only child. A little odd (can't think where he gets it).

This is some stuff he has said.


  • We were enjoying the play area at the Newcastle museum when for no apparent reason he bolted for the door at top speed. Upon catching up and asking why, he said "there was a tiger" and refused to elaborate further.


  • Told no because Santa is coming soon when asking for a toy near Christmas: "Santa will be very happy to see me".


  • Play acting a phone call, as he placed the phone in the cradle: "That was a rabbit".
    "A talking rabbit?"
    "Yeah, it speaks English".


  • The night before Easter Sunday, told the Easter bunny is coming tonight: "So will there be eggs for me tomorrow?"
    Coy parent: "Maaayyybe...."
    "So there may not?"


  • "When I grow up I'm going to buy Mummy a new ipad, because hers is broken"
    "And how did it break?" (he stood on it)
    "...the next one won't break"


  • He believed for weeks on end his favourite Transformer was named Optimus Program, and could not be convinced otherwise.


  • Ran for the toilet exclaiming "my bladder!"


  • Hospitalised for asthma after a day and night struggling to breathe, to the doctors: "My lungs have a cold".


  • Said to G and (male) cat: "I love you two, you're my boys"
    G: "Xander isn't a boy, he's a cat"
    "He's a boy cat"
    "No, he's a regular cat".


  • Tiny scratch on hand possibly caused by thin twig or similar, and at least 24 hours old: "My hand is all bloody and sore and I need to rest with your ipad"


  • "You've traipsed mud all over the floor!"
    "I think the cat did it"


  • Remarked to partner that we should go to pub to meet some of my Sydney friends.
    "Me too, I want to have pink drink and pizza and make friends"



  • Apropos of nothing: "I want to burn my friends"
    "You what?"
    With considerable relish: "I want to burn my friends!"


  • At the pool: "You need to stay beside me all the time when we're in the water"
    "Yes. I might die."


  • Asked what he wants to be when he grows up: "I don't want to be anything. I just want to be Baby G. And have cake". Although this is unacceptable to his mother who will only accept the career choices of 1. doctor 2. doctor 3. failure who is written out of the will (and he won't be choosing my nursing home, if you're worried about that - I have no intention of living that long).
  • 22 May 2015

    The Most Disturbing Thing About the Duggar Sex Abuse Scandal

    Rumours have been swirling for years; he always did seem a bit slimy, a bit creepy - but today it was confirmed that in 2006 Josh Duggar of the reality show 19 Kids and Counting was investigated for sexually molesting several underage girls over the period 2002-2003. It hasn't been confirmed that these girls were his sisters, but all lived in the same house as him, Josh's parents are named as the victims' parents, and one of them is said to be underage now, in 2015 - his sister, Joy, who was five years old in 2003.

    I'll wait whilst the bile rising in your throat settles.

    Josh's father, Jim Bob (yee haw) apparently waited over a year before taking Josh to the police; the investigating officer (who was later jailed himself for child pornography offences) gave Josh a stern talking to but took it no further, the statute of limitations expired, and that was seemingly that. The family reportedly "turned closer to God", Josh married and had several children, and, educated at home with no experience or qualifications, got a cushy job with the far right lobby group Family Research Council, where amongst other things he was paid wads of money to infer that gay people are child molesters, whilst his mother says the same of transgender people in telephone robocalls.

    Waiting for the further bile to settle.

    With the allegations coming to light this week, Josh has now resigned from the Council; no word yet though on whether TLC will pull the massively successful reality show. It seems inevitable, given that Honey Boo Boo was cancelled when the main adult star began dating a man who sexually abused her daughter years before - but the most passionate of the Duggar defenders won't hear of it. We all make mistakes, they say, and Josh was young. Hey, if as a 16 year old he got drunk and urinated on the high school football field, that's a youthful mistake. Repeatedly molesting his own sisters - one of whom was barely past toddlerhood - that's not a childish indiscretion. That is really fucking disturbing.

    But the main reason the show should stay on the air, they say, is that the whole affair is proof of the redemptive power of God's love. His parents have forgiven him, God has forgiven him - and so have his victims, his sisters. That is what is so unsettling here - the idea that they have forgiven him. Did they ever have a choice?

    That the family kept this whole thing a secret for so long whilst playing pious happy families on TV is bad enough, and the girls may well have been told to shut up and smile to keep the cameras and money rolling. But there's an even deeper reason why the Duggar girls would have been told to keep their happy faces on, and it gets to the heart of the weird, cultish pseudo-Christianity the Duggars practice. The Duggars are followers of a strain of Independent Baptism preached by figures such as Doug Phillips and Bill Gothard that makes up tonnes of their own rules you won't find anywhere in the Bible, like courtship and long perms. And one of the key tenets of their childraising philosophy is a "cheerful countenance". Children must now show their true emotions, are not allowed to be sad or frustrated or grumpy or traumatised - they must have joyful countenance and a light in their eyes; to do otherwise is showing disrespect for authority and displeasure with God. I'll quote from this excellent post, "An open letter to the Duggar defenders", which was written by someone raised in the same homeschooling, large family independent Southern Baptist culture:

    The Duggar parents are following parenting gurus who teach that unhappiness or a sour disposition is disobedience. In this climate, what child would have anything but a smile? There is no other option. I also grew up on these teachings. I remember being punished for having a “bad mood.” My siblings and I looked happy, on the outside, and that outward appearance was not always wrong. But sometimes it was—sometimes it was very, very wrong, because being discontented was seen as sin, and was punished. Of course children will look happy, when that is the only option they are allowed. 

    When you thrown in TV, in the case of the Duggars, that only ups the ante. While my family was not on TV, my parents were keenly aware that we were on display everywhere we went. When we went out in public, mom wiped our faces and put bows in our hair, and before we were allowed to get out of the car at our destination we were always given the standard pep talk: “Remember that you are representing Christians, and you are representing homeschoolers, and you are representing big families,” she would say. “Be on your best behavior.” You better believe the Duggar children have heard that same pep talk time and again.


    The Duggar girls were forced to smile, and more than likely forced to forgive as well - they've written extensively about how no argument or disagreement is allowed between siblings in their household. And eventually acting becomes believing; the girls may well think they have forgiven Josh. But it's doubtful they ever had much choice. What does it say about your worth to a young woman if you are abused and your abuser is not punished and allowed to stay at home? If you are told to keep your mouth shut except to smile for the cameras for years on end? I just hope the network makes the statement about sex abuse the parents wouldn't, and cancel the show. And the girls sue Josh's sorry ass and buy a nice apartment in New York.

    19 May 2015

    Abuse at Catholic Schools - I hope things have changed

    It's a fairly minor story - an anecdote, really - compared to the horrors being exposed, continuously, at the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sex Abuse; the Catholic school in Ballarat where at one point in the 1970s every teacher was a child sex abuser, the class at that school where 12 of 33 pupils have committed suicide.

    And yet I tell this little tale of the attitude of a teacher at a Catholic school in the 1980s towards quite probable child sex abuse, to shine a light on how children were viewed at the time, on how signs of abuse were viewed, on how much "pastoral care" was going on, on just how they were able to get away with the whole thing for so long.

    Whilst I never really had a group of friends, in the late 1980s, in my later years of primary school at a Catholic school in Sydney's northern beaches, I briefly joined a group of girls in my year to draw comics. We all loved to sit on the playground and draw and write stories in stacks of exercise books - a stack we left behind one day after lunch, in the rush of the bell ringing and heading to line up before heading back to class. And a teacher found them.

    One of the little girls, 9 or 10 years old, had unwitnessed by the rest of us, drawn some very explicit pictures of people engaged in sexual acts.

    Okay, I'm a youth worker and halfway through a social work degree, so I've had training on what to do in these situations - but, you know, I'd hope teachers would have some clue on what to do as well. There could be a semi-innocent explanation for a 9 year old girl to be drawing things like that - maybe she'd accessed a copy of Penthouse she wasn't meant to find (although, whilst my memory isn't precise - I only saw the images briefly, which I'll get to - I didn't want to see them - I remember them being a deal more explicit than Penthouse fare, and forget seeing this stuff online, this was an era when many people didn't even have VCRs).

    But we must assume the worst, for the child's own protection, where there is any suspicion of child sexual abuse; careful, discreet questioning about where she'd seen people doing these things and why she was drawing them, and a notification to child protective services, where trained staff can properly assess the situation and work out the best course of action for the child.

    None of this happened. My class teacher (and acting principal), decided I had drawn the pictures, and shouted at me in front of the class, as tears dripped down my face, telling me I was a dirty, disgusting little girl and that Jesus would be ashamed.

    I was bullied about it for weeks.

    I didn't know what the pictures were - I was not abused at home or Catholic school, let me be clear, and had almost no idea what sex was at that stage. But they thought I drew them, and no one ever asked me where I had seen such things or why I'd copy them.

    So that is why we can see a bit of why child sex abuse was allowed to go on openly for so long; kids disbelieved, doubted, cast as shameful and dirty if any evidence came to light.

    I hope things have changed.

    But what I really hope most of all is that the little girl who drew those pictures had seen a surreptitious video or something, and was just copying what she saw. I really hope that was all.

    10 May 2015

    Mutant Miranda Devine

    Just in time for Mother's Day, News columnist Miranda Devine has trotted out a rather bizarre article blaming "mutant feminists" for creating an atmosphere of rape hysteria, where the merest hint of a rape allegation ruins men's lives and turns the accusers into media darlings.

     It's the continuing theme of right wing women relentlessly criticising feminism they don't understand, until one of their own comes under attack and they demand to know where is the "sisterhood" (if Julie Bishop, say, comes under sexist attack then I'll condemn that but I still hate her politics). In this case, Devine claims feminists have created such an hysteria about rape claims that . It's telling that Devine uses an example of an apparent false rape allegation from the US; apparently there were no Australian cases worth citing.

    If we are going to deal in anecdotes, allow me to share one that's much closer to home, literally; a few metres from my house is a billboard featuring the grinning countenance of a man, a former sporting star from my hometown, who is now a well-paid breakfast radio presenter. Some years ago, he was accused, on a respected current affairs show, of taking part in the gang rape of a 19 year old girl whilst on a sporting trip. The clearly distressed young woman detailed the devastating effects of the incident, the post traumatic stress disorder and suicide attempts, stating that the men had ruined her life. The man made a public mea culpa seated next to his wife, admitting ten or more men, of whom he was one, had sex with the woman in a hotel room at the same time, but it had all been consensual. The police investigated, but with only the testimony of the individuals involved to go on, no charges were filed. The man at the centre of the allegations was stood down from his role as a commentator on one network, but quickly picked up by another, and built a radio and media career that continues to this day.

    The merest hint of a rape allegation can ruin a man's life forever, decry right wingers and MRAs, as I see the face of a man I and many others legitimately believe to be a rapist staring down from his media profile and I feel a bit sick. And can I make a suggestion? We need a modified  version of Godwin's law - Elam's law? - that whoever mentions "false rape allegations" in a discussion on feminism, loses. I think that would be fitting.

    02 May 2015

    You Can't Compare Chan and Sukumaran to Australian Soldiers

    I've seen a couple of remarks from people upset that, following the execution of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran in Indonesia last week, the media have been referring to the repatriation of their bodies as "bringing our boys home". One poster who was very upset - you could tell from the lots and lots of exclamation marks - that this is the same term used to describe Australian troops returning from Iraq. They were very disgusted at the comparison, and they are right. You really can't compare them.

    Because unlike the people who would have used the heroin Chan and Sukumaran would have imported, the people of Iraq got no say whatsoever at being put at risk of death.

    Because unlike Chan and Sukumaran, I haven't heard too many Australian soldiers who've returned from Iraq admit that the invasion was a grave mistake. That it was based on a lie, that Iraq never posed any threat to Australia, that hundreds of thousands of innocent people were killed, that the subsequent chaos gave birth to ISIL - which may now be a threat to us all. I haven't heard returned soldiers beg for forgiveness, beg kids not to be as stupid as they were in blindly following the wrong orders. I haven't seen a whole lot of atonement.

    Because I haven't seen any opponents of the war who would be graceless, heartless, just plain rude enough to say of a deceased soldier whose grieving family have not yet even had a chance to bury him, "well, they went overseas on a mission they knew could end in death, what did they expect".

    You really can't compare them.