Jan 28, 2010


I generally like to consider myself one of those badge-wearing modern feminists who find they can get about their day fighting the good fight against the fascist bastard patriarchy while still brandishing perfect GHD curls.

But how can a committed pinko commie femmo like myself be similarly unmoved by an offensive T-shirt, amused by moves to put virginity on the agenda, and yet outraged by a political response to said virginity crisis?

Let me explain.

Facebook groups exist for all manner of causes and interests. I rarely join them, but I always find it interesting to see what other people are clicking onto. The way I see it, joining a group seems to be a way of quickly and easily stating your support for a particular statement, whether it be "Australians For a Republic"; "Bring Back the McFeast Deluxe" or even "WHEN I READ CAPITALS THERE IS A SHOUTING VOICE IN MY HEAD".

A group that's just popped up is entitled "Petition to Stop the Sale of Its Not Rape Its Surprise Sex" t-shirts. Now obviously this title includes two crimes; that of rape, certainly, but also that of gross misuse of the apostrophe. A few clicks around this particular group shows it's against a clothing range riddled with statements and images derogatory to women.

The overall message I took from this group is: "Rape is serious." And you know what? I completely agree. There's nothing "good" about rape. I'd be the first to put my hand up and give a mighty "Hells yes, asshole" if someone were to ask me: "Is rape bad?"

This brings me to a point.

I'm also anti-child abuse, and yet I chuckled at that whole controversy about the "They Shake Me" baby t-shirts. Sure, I'm not a parent. I don't know the intimate love of a child grown in my womb and borne from my woman-parts.... actually you know what, that whole thing sounds horrid. And yet, and yet, I remain enough of a human being to have enough of a capacity to understand the basic tenant that kids aren't martinis, and therefore should probably not be shaken.

As far as I can see, most humans who have a degree of humanity know - without having to ask - that sexually violating a woman is wrong. Completely wrong. In the same way that shaking a baby is wrong. There are just things in this world that are wrong. You can argue and categorise seriousness - that's not my point. My point is there's a big bucket of wrong things, and most people are generally aware of what those might be.

Rapists don't wear these t-shirts. Douchebags wear these t-shirts. And while it's fair to say all rapists are douchebags (far worse in my opinion), it would be unfair to describe all douchebags as rapists. And given that a large percentage of rape cases happen in the home, or are committed by men the women know, it seems highly unlikely that a genuine rapist would actually wear a shirt essentially spruiking his crime of choice.

But am I wrong? Should I, as a modern, lip-glossed feminist, be appalled? Or should I expect to incur your wrath, dear reader, for deserting my sisters, or tacitly accepting an anti-women popularist movement?

I'm happy to be wrong, but my unerring faith in humanity is that appealing to douchebags is not the be-all-and-end-all of 21st century capitalism. My guess is that this range of clothing will remain unsold on shelves - because I believe there are more non-douchebags in the world than douchebags. And non-douchebags probably realise that a) as far as comedy t-shirts go, this is pretty bad, b) even half-arsed attempts at comedic misogyny are still misogynistic and c) wearing a shirt like this is probably a guarantee of never getting any interest from a woman ever again ever. 'CAUSE WOMEN TEND TO NOT LIKE DOUCHEBAGS.

Now speaking of getting laid, let's talk about Opposition Leader Tony Abbott, and his hilarious Women's Weekly interview in which he discusses his daughters' virginity. 'Cause that's not, you know, creepy or anything.

Good ol' People Skills has advised his three girls to treat their virginity as a "gift". Now in my case, this would mean saving the receipt in order to get a refund...

...BOO-YAHHH!!!  HELL-OOOO! That dodgy root joke has no basis in reality, but hot DAMN that was a good gag.

Speaking of gagging, Tony Abbott has triggered said reflex in many Australians by bringing up the topic of "waiting until marriage"; albeit encouraged by the journalistic giants at the Weekly.

Now certainly the rabid femmo in me strongly believes in choice. A woman's right to choose how and when she'll sleep with men. A choice that's generally been available to most men since, ooh, the first fish walked out of the primordial swamp, turned to a lady fish and said "Do you like your eggs fertilised?"

But I feel kind of sorry for Tony Abbott.* I really do believe that he answered that question as a Dad of three girls whom he'd prefer not to be seen as "sluts". Let's face it, there's still a double standard out there about women who sleep with "too many" men. I can't even say how many men, because it doesn't appear to be a set number. Five? Fine. Six? Too many. Seven? Skanky-ho town. I don't know. It seems to vary according to the person and the gossip. As a feminist, it's more that sort of judgement that angers me than Tony Abbott's panic in the face of his daughters' eventual feminine flowering. Oooh, yeah. Someone's totally going to TAP your daughters Tony. And Tony obviously doesn't have a lot of faith in their judgement if he has to urge them to hold onto their "gifts" for as long as possible.

Again, I'm not a parent. But I HAVE parents. The thought of my parents having sex fills me with the kind of terror normally only reserved for airline turbulence. (It's a good thing they never actually had sex. Like many children of parents, I am an immaculate conception.) So I can only imagine that parents having to contemplate the thought of their children gettin' jiggy with it would be filled with a similar horror, and an urge to stick their fingers in their ears and sing "la la la la" until, oh god, make it go away.

But then I shouldn't dismiss Tony Abbott's role in promoting abstinence. Hell, every time I look at the guy, I can barely stomach the thought of breakfast, let alone doing the nasty.


So while I certainly believe Tony Abbott has a strong Christian agenda, and I'd rather have gender-reassignment surgery so I could have my balls cut off than vote for him - I find the whole issue leaves me amused, rather than angered.

But where I DO get on my femmoNazi high horse (I call her "Fancy") is in responding to comments like those from Senator George Brandis, aka Captain Misguided-At-Best. He's criticised Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard for giving her opinion on the virginity debate - describing her as "one-dimensional" because she "chose not to be a parent".

Now I'm not sure if George Brandis has noticed, but Julia Gillard is in fact, a woman. A woman who at some stage of her life - probably around the same age Tony Abbott's daughters are now - made the choice to lose her virginity. Sure, she's not a parent. But she can, I'm guessing, remember what it was like to be a teenage/early 20s girl faced with making the beast with two backs for the first time. She can probably say with some experience that as a woman, the best thing that you can do is be well-educated and well-informed, and be happy with your choices.

And really, that applies to everyone. It goes back to that whole "we're human beings" point I laboured over earlier. It's why Julia Gillard actually IS qualified to give an opinion, thank you very much George Brandis. Actually, I think most people would like politicians to probably butt out of issues like this altogether, but having said that, if Tony can comment, then so can Julia.

I should probably butt out as well. I guess my official position would be: you can give it up to all and sundry as far as I care, as long as you've made the decision yourself, you're safe, and you're happy with your choices. That should hold true whether you're male or female, and whether it's your first shag or your 500th.**

*Don't worry, this pity passed quickly.
**Feel free to pass this advice onto your daughters, Tony.


  1. Brandis found the only way to make the situation worse by not only 'confirming many women's worst fears' (thanks v. much J. Gillard) about the Libs but underlining them with a big eff-off Sharpie. Abbott's best strategy to defend the sanctity and purity of Australian girlhood is to keep talking about teenage sex until no girl under the age of 18 can possibly envision the act without getting a visual of the Mad Monk, leering.

  2. I poste dthis to a blog comment page yesterday...

    I'm getting truly concerned at this whole situation. While views of an individual are OK, the apparent desire to bring religion into the halls of politics is concerning. Church and State separation? Anyone recall that concept??

    I also note with some incredulity, the apparent failure to include the male of the species in his message (or if he did I missed it). One has to assume that the male of the species is incapable of such abstention.

    The political landscape in Australia is not going to tolerate such meddling in the morals of it's inhabitants, and while some of the Righteously Loony Right may, as they are heading in their droves to the charismatic halls of the "happy clappers" on a Sunday morning, agree with his views, the remainder of the general populous really could not give a toss... (or perhaps are too busy tossing to care)

    Am I the only one who feels it a little galling that "he of the bast@rd child" espouses such views? How does one spell hypocrite? Or is it only now that he is cleansed of the political blood on his hands by the purity of leadership, that he can move forward in the shimmering white and gold vestments of the "New Morality"?

    I await the next foray into purity for his children (us??) when he suggests that to avoid such temptations, that we cover the body and faces of our females, or perhaps physically prevent copulation by utilising mechanical chastity means, or possibly surgically remove the ability for a female to "enjoy" sex. Not too barbaric is it?

    So much for enlightened society?? Enough is enough Mr Abbott, keep your nose and opinion out of my nether regions, and completely out of my morality... It is MINE... ALL MINE.. BWAHAHAHAHAaaa

  3. You may not be all that offended, but I am. I am really, really offended. This blatant anti-male discrimination has gone too far.


  4. Ohh GC, I believe you have opened a can of worms here luv!

    Re: The T-Shirts - if anyone came into my home wearing one, I would invite them to leave, and you would possibly be surprised as to what some 18 yr old boys consider humour.

    Re: Tony Abbott - Until I read the article, I can't be 100 percent sure, but the cynic in me (okay I am completely cynical), thinks that there MAY just be a wee bit of sensationalising by some of the media. So far I am yet to be convinced that Tony Abbott was speaking as anything other than a parent, and none of the news I've seen or read has actually quoted the bit where he said this was his political view.

    The fact that I tried to instil the same message in my son, isn't because I'm Catholic, or anti-sex, but because I'm a parent who made mistakes in my YOOF, and would like to think that I can prevent my child making the same ones. Of course that's stupid, because kids will always make their own mistakes, but I find it terribly sad, that by age 18, The Brat regrets his first time (at 16) as much as I regretted mine.

  5. Fucking brilliant.

    I think if virginity is a 'gift' Abbott may have meant it wasn't a taxable supply for the purposes of income. Boom-tish. That joke was so dry, the lube gave up. As Tony should have.

    Not having the sense to have said "That's between me and them, it's none of your business" could have saved a lot welcome cover fire for the incumbents.

    My personal interest is merely that he played footy for Sydney Uni. But if that was the only criteria, I'd prefer Peter FitzSimons or Phil Waugh.


  6. I think having those t-shirts available is a great idea. Along with all those other thinly veiled sexual threat shirts. It's like a warning sign. The type of person who thinks it's a good idea to wear them is exactly the sort of person I've got no interest in getting to know. No time wasted on small talk.

    Also, I've never ridden your femi-nazi high horse 'Nancy', but I think I tried to feed her a carrot once.

  7. Three cases, all hinging on choice.
    In the first case, a douchebag has the choice to wear the offending garment. People also have the choice to then shun said douchebag as they would a rabid dog.
    In the second case, a parent has the choice to raise their children according to their beliefs. Admittedly, yes, having a cosy chat about your daughters' virginity is a little creepy, but he's a parent, and he can raise his kids as he sees fit.
    In the third case, we have an anti-choice statement. George Brandis is telling an adult human being that her personal life choices are wrong.
    Frankly, I think that Julia Gillard's personal life choices are none of George Brandis' business. A large part of feminism is the freedom for adults to make their own personal choices.
    I see no contradiction here.

  8. Fantastic post.In the grand scheme of things, it doesn't really matter. You know what's worse than rape jokes on a t-shirt? Actual rape!

    I take some offence at Tony Abbott's comments because I generally don't like someone telling other people what to do with their sex lives, but once I looked at the context of his comments - in Women's Weekly, not parliament - it's not really so bad.

    And anyone who criticises a woman for not having children needs to hop into the time machine and go back to the 1950s, where they belong.

  9. Before they were banned, a friend at work gave me one of those "They Shake Me" kids t-shirts for my, then, newborn son.

    I still give a little sly smile when he wears, and hope he spots himself wearing it in photo albums when he's a teenager.

  10. Funny how something getting banned (the shake me shirt) makes it more interesting - because when you think about it, it's not even that funny a shirt.

  11. Tony Abbott's comments creeped me out because there's that implication that a woman's virginity has more value than the woman herself.

    I got a similar lecture about the value of virginity from my paternal grandfather - who was no idiot, he was a Wickham Tce Specialist - and he ended this little chat with 'Because you don't want to go to your husband as Damaged Goods'.

    Thank Christ I had friends who lived two blocks away so I could do the bolt and snigger to my uni friends (yes, this little chat came just a little too late) 'Guess what one of my Idiot Family said now?'

    Three years prior to this I'd stumbled across 'Damned Whores and God's police' so while I could have stood my ground and had a damned good argument about 'Whoops, exactly how many cattle and sheep do you think you'll have to take off my bride price?' - I knew he wouldn't get it.

    If Abbott had've fronted the issue by saying that he wanted his daughters to be in meaningful SAFE (yes, shouting) relationships with men who value and support them, and to give careful consideration to the choices that they make, I wouldn't have an issue with this.

    And yes Doc, the concept of the Mad Monk minus his budgie smugglers and doing the nasty is going to FK with the libidos of Women's Weekly buyers all across the nation.

  12. maternal, not paternal. Why do I persist in blogging when half asleep?

  13. would you be ok with tshirts that said "kill all jews & blacks?"

  14. I read the offending Women's Weekly article and have to say the whole thing was a massive beat up. I don't think TA said anything particularly offensive, or even sexist. He was asked very pointed questions and you can tell that the interviewer (the editor of WW) was itching to get him saying something controversial. Taking into account the fact that TA is a Catholic, and has made no secret of his religious beliefs in the past, I think what he said is hardly surprising and certainly not unexpected. It was actually quite moderate. What irritated me more was all the commentary that followed.

    With the t-shirts - I am one of those people who finds those sorts of slogans offensive. Can't stand them. Especially the one about shaking. Not funny, not in any context.