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News Opinion/Commentary

Women can drive in Saudi Arabia. But if attitudes don’t change about women, nothing will

Saudi woman driving with niqab on
Women can now drive in Saudi Arabia, although it’s very restricted and guardianship laws still apply (Image: iStock)

Laws have been passed to allow women to drive in Saudi Arabia. They will come into affect from June next year.

Saudi Arabia, a Wahhabism state, has implemented a strict form of Islamic law, based on a fundamentalist interpretation of the Qu’ran. According to FutureScopes, Saudi Arabia has been only one of two countries in the world that have had a ban on women driving (the other being Afghanistan when the Taliban ruled in 1996). This ban has given Saudi Arabia a bad reputation around the world, including by their ally, the United States.

 

The excuses given to prohibit women from driving are nothing short of ludicrous. An article from The Atlantic in 2013 reported that  Sheikh Saleh bin Saad al – Lohaidan, a judicial adviser of an association for Gulf psychologists, claimed that women shouldn’t be able to drive because it pushes the pelvis up and affects the ovaries. This is not backed up by any science.

Saudi women who have dared to drive or protest the ban have also been likened to terrorists. According to India Today, two Saudi women were arrested for ‘terrorism’ offences when they defied the driving ban in 2014.

 

Earlier this year, Asma Alsharif wrote in Reuters that King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz permitted women to be able to vote. Also, this year, Saudi women have been granted the right to take up tertiary studies, access some medical care and work without the permission of a male guardian.

As I pointed out above, while much progress has been made, there seems to be ingrained beliefs that will keep women oppressed. To be frank, I doubt that the most recent change has anything to do with rights of women itself.

The reasons why this ban has been so – called ‘lifted’ is to allow women to drive to work, to help the Saudi economy. From what I can gather, the change hasn’t come about because attitudes about men and women have changed. This explains why male “guardianship” is still enforced in the strict Islamic Kingdom.

 

Saudi Arabia is also infamous for accusing and executing people, predominately women for ‘sorcery’. Sounds quite 17th century, doesn’t it? (Note: for those who are confused why I picked that century and not the first millennia, I had the play The Crucible by Arthur Miller in mind. Same diff. Outdated and barbaric beliefs).

That is why these ‘advances’ that Saudi Arabia has made has been taken with a grain of salt. The reason why Saudi Arabia has had such a bad reputation globally when it comes to women’s rights is the fundamental beliefs about them. Without changes to those beliefs and attitudes across the country, what’s to stop women’s rights to study, access medical care and drive being stripped away again? Nothing, really.

 

From the outside looking in, Saudi Arabia is an epitome of how far the rights of women has to globally. It’s not just laws that need to be changed in such countries to make long – term impact. It’s beliefs, attitudes and distribution of power, particularly between men and women. Then, maybe the world will applaud Saudi Arabia for real progress.

Have you been to Saudi Arabia? Do you live there? What was/ is it like? Feel free to tell me your experiences.

Categories
Media

Frances Abbott has made an advertisement campaigning for same – sex marriage

Yes!!!!

Daughter of former Australian Prime Minister, Frances Abbott, has vocally supported the legalisation of same – sex marriage in Australia, notably on Instagram. Now, Australian Marriage Equality has launched an ad featuring her. It’s brilliant!

Abbott did a brilliant job at explaining why she supports same – sex marriage. Her reason? Love and family. She spoke so fondly of her aunt Tony Abbott’s younger sister), Sydney Liberal Councillor, Christine Forster, who is in a long – term same – sex relationship.

This is what the same – sex marriage campaign should have been about from the start — love and family! Finally, there’s no ideological cat fight. Not left versus right. Just love. And LGBTQ+ people.

This is what about the “Yes” campaign should have been about all along! Instead, it’s been hijacked by ideologues, who’ve, lets’ honest, made the rate of favour for same – sex marriage has slipped to just over fifty percent. It’s become a left versus right issue. For too long, the campaign has been divisive and not something that some supporters of the LGBTQ+ community want to be associated with.

Is it too late, though? We’ll have to wait another month and see. There are no guarantees, but, as I wrote above, the “Yes” are still in front. Just. Hopefully, this advertisement can curb a further decline in support.

A few months ago, Australian Marriage Equality launched another advertisement, featuring former president of the Australian Medical Association (AMA) and author, Professor Kerryn Phelps.

While it isn’t a bad advertisement, I feel that it combated ideology, rather than dealing with just dealing with LGBTQ+ people. It was about countering the Coalition for Marriage advertisement, rather than aiming at people’s hearts. How many people really care about the politics, especially those who really don’t care either way (the people that need to be convinced)?

This is what made Frances Abbott’s advertisement so great. She has even said that she doesn’t care about politics. So, she talked about someone she obviously loves very much, her aunt. She said that she wanted to see her aunt happy and equal under Australian law. Again, this is what the  “Yes” campaign should’ve been about from the start.

What’s more, Abbott didn’t attack anyone; not her father, not Coalition for Marriage, no one. This is great, in my view.

 

Last night, Daily Telegraph’s Sharri Markson told Andrew Bolt (who was impressed by the advertisement), that it was good that Professor Kerryn Phelps did one of the “Yes” advertisement as it may encourage older people to support the campaign, where as Abbott’s campaign advertisement would likely preach to the converted. Maybe Markson has a point. I still think that Abbott’s focus on love and family, rather than combating the  Coalition for Marriage and the like may have won more hearts. It’s just a pity it was made so late in the campaign.

In regard to the vote, do whatever you think is fair. If you do feel strongly about the issue one way or another, vote and have your survey in by November 7.

 

 

Categories
Opinion/Commentary

The AFL has every right to support the LGBTQ+ community, including same – sex marriage

I was going to criticise the AFL’s stance on same – sex marriage. My argument was that they shouldn’t it’s a hot – button issue and they may alienate spectators. Reading Justin Quill’s opinion piece in yesterday’s Herald Sun gave me a new perspective.

Companies DO have a right to express a view on social issues. As Quill pointed out, this is not the first time that the AFL has supported social causes. The AFL has had a reputation of trying to combat racism in the game, starting with former St. Kilda player, Nicky Winmar, who lifted up his Guernsey to defy racism back in 1993.

Now, the AFL has turned it’s attention to supporting LGBTQ+ people.

Over the past two years, the AFL has had the “Pride Round” between St. Kilda and the Sydney Swans. As I wrote last year in another one of my blogs, I supported this as I though it was good that the AFL were taking a stance against discrimination. I still hold that view.

While there are no openly gay or bi men in the AFL, there are two AFLW players in long – term same – sex relationships. It’s great that these women have gotten so much support, both from the media and the AFL.

 

Having said that, the AFL hasn’t been without controversy when it comes to homophobia, or at least, a lack of acceptance. In 2010, former Western Bulldogs and Brisbane Lions player Jason Akermanis controversially suggested that gay players should stay in the closet to avoid making other players uncomfortable. Maybe Akermanis’ comment revealed that, at the time, the AFL wasn’t openly embracing of gay and bi players.  Last week on ABC’s The Drum, former footballer – turned LGBTQ advocate, Jason Ball highlighted how hard it was to be gay in football. This was largely due to the prevalence of homophobic slurs and jokes in the game.

Jason Ball talks about how hard it has been for gay footballers when talking about the AFL’s controversial change in their logo in support of same – sex marriage.

The AFL has worked to tackle racism in the AFL and now turns it’s attention to homophobia and bi – phobia. This is great, as players, regardless of background, religion or sexuality should be able to play the game they love.

Likewise, LGBTQ+ spectators, should be free from discrimination and any that does occur will be condemned. LGBTQ+ who want attend a AFL game should be able to without fear of having slurs hurled at them or worse. Same – sex couples should be able to attend and enjoy the football like any straight couple. To be honest, it’s a shame that this still seems to be a controversial idea.

Regarding the criticism that the AFL is trying to enforce same – sex marriage on  the spectators and players, Quill made the point that no same – sex marriage opponent was being thrown out because of their stance. If that was the case, it’d be wrong. What the AFL are trying to do is make LGBTQ+ people feel welcome and that discrimination won’t be tolerated. That’s not a bad thing. Is it?

What are your thoughts on the AFL’s stance on gay marriage or the Pride Round? Let me know in the comments below. 

Categories
Media

Mamamia celebrates 10 years!

Mamamia celebrates ten years since it’s atart by founder Mia Freedman

Lifestyle, feminism and news site, Mamamia celebrates ten years since its launch by founder, Mia Freedman. What an achievement!

I’ve been reading articles on Mamamia probably for the past, three, four years. Some of the articles have been brilliant, and, as I’ve written here before, I’ve really admired the advocacy that the team at Mamamia do.

Mamamia has continued a spark in me to continue with this blog. Mia Freedman, along with the other columnists, have been a great source of inspiration for much of my writing, as you may have noticed by the number of times I’ve limked or talked about the articles. Along with columnists like Andrew Bolt, I love how Mamamia inspires me to respond, to get out thoughts and feelings I have about things that have gone one in the world.

 

I love how, along with the regular columnists, Mamamia allows other s to pitch in ideas, and have their own articles published on the site. As I’ve written here before, the one that touched me the most was Jo Qualmann’s article on asexuality in 2014. It was great that they contributed to asexuality visibility and I’ll be forever grateful for that.

 

Jo Qualmann had a story published in Mamamia on her experiences being asexual.

 

They have also done a great job at raising awareness around disability. I first realised this when they published an article on disabled parking. While I don’t drive myself, I think it was great how they allowed the issue to be raised, by a person affected by it. Most importantly, they’ve given people with a disability and their loved ones the voice.

I think Mamamia has also done a great job in the same – sex marriage debate as well. I’ve loved how they’ve let gay people and their family members tell their personal stories and how the debate affects them. I think that’s great. To be honest, I believe there has been too little of that in the mainstream media. The fact that the staff at Mamamia have given LGBTQ+ people and their loved ones a voice is something that is worthy of a great hug!

 

Back in the ‘1980’s ABBA claimed Thank you for the music. Well, I’d like to say to Mia Freedman and the team, thank you for the words. Thank you for the advocacy and inspiration to live and write authentically.

Happy ten year anniversary and here’s to ten more!

10 years candles
Image: Canva

 

Tell me, what have been your favourite articles you’ve read on Mamamia? 

 

Categories
News Opinion/Commentary

Madeline should not have been let off for opposing same – sex marriage

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=kbf7kY4lD5w

18 – year – old, only known as Madeline, was let go from her contract at Capital Kids Parties, Canberra, after putting ‘It’s OK to Vote No’ filter on her Facebook profile.

Her contractor, Madlin Sims made a Facebook post saying that she let go of Madeline because she thought her views were “hate speech”.

There are feelings that there is more to this story, but I’ll go with purely the issue of unfair dismissal and anti – discrimination.

I don’t think people like Madeline should be let off purely because of their political or religious beliefs. And, as long as they are not advocating for the killing of LGBTQ+ people or they are openly hostile towards people because of sexuality, gender, race, etc, they shouldn’t be sacked/ lose their contract.

However, I’ve got a funny feeling that some people who defend Madeline also want businesses to be legally be able to discriminate against people based on their relationships, gender or sexuality. It should be all or nothing. Sims should be able to discrminate against conservative Christians, or it should be unlawful for a business or servicecto refuse to employ or serve LGBTQ+ people. All of one or the other.

 

There is something that I think has been left out of this discussion. Madeline is only eighteen. She’s probably just finished Year 12. She still needs time to grow and I do feel for her. She’s had her work and her beliefs scrutinised in the most public way. Her character has already been debated,bsparked by Sims’ Facebook post. Regardless of who you agree with in this, Madeline is still so young. She has her whole life ahead of her and she’s been subject to public scrutiny already. All over a Facebook filter. That to me, is extreme.

 

I feel for Madlin Sims, too. By the look at her Instagram picture, which supince has been taken down, apparentky,bshe’s also incredibly young. And the abuse she and her brother have allegedly suffered must be condemned. Why this hasn’t been talked about and condemned by mainstream and independent media, I don’t know. (You already know how I feel about the whole ‘debate’ and ommissions,bso Ivwon’t repeat them here).

 

Unfortunateky, I think this case has put a bad light on the ‘Yes’ side, again. It’s also exposed my worst feears about same – sex marriage; a values clash between the Left and conservatives that I believe needs to be sorted before (if) same – sex marriage becomes legal in Australia.

 

What are your thoughts on anti – discrimination laws? Should there be any exemptions on moral grounds?

 

 

 

 

Categories
Uncategorized

To the thugs who attacked Tony Abbott and have committed violence and intimidation

Tony Abbott has been physically assaulted in Hobart. He was head butted by an alleged ”Yes’ supporter.

To those who commit this crap, I have a few words for you.

You are a disgrace.  Don’t DARE say you speak for me or any LGBTQ+ people that I know and love. You are NOT doing ANYTHING good for the cause. Rack off!!! Don’t display a ‘Yes’ t – shirt or anything because you don’t care for the cause. YOU are the reason why the ‘Yes’ campaign may very well lose!

So, forget the banners, T – shirts, merchandise, etc and rack off. We do not need you!!!

Categories
Media

The misreporting and omissions in the media on same – sex marriage need to stop

Sunday Herald Sun17 September2017
I think the media plays a role in what side of the same – sex marriage wins or loses.

The debate on same – sex marriage is still going on as the postal surveys are being sent out nationwide.

A win for the ‘Yes’ side is not guaranteed.

Yesterday in Sunday’s Herald Sun a study by ‘No’ campaigners predicted that there was a million vote swing against the ‘Yes’ vote. According to the stats, if that’s the case, the ‘Yes’ vote will still get up, but only just. Only a few hundred thousand less, then it’s gone.

Million vote swing claim in same - sex polls article Sunday Herald Sun
Story in ‘Sunday’s Herald Sun’ reports that poll estimates that there is up to a million vote swing to oppose same – sex marriage

If the ‘Yes’ side doesn’t get up, I’ll personally blame the media.

The liberal/ Left and conservative media have been pathetic during this campaign. Commentary, for the most part, have been deliberately skewed and extremely selective on what they are willing to report, condemn and support.

The earliest example of poor journalism (or in this case ‘interviewing’), that saw the demise of the ‘Yes’ campaign in my view, was The Project’s ‘interview’ with former tennis champion, Margaret Court.

This was the first of a number of extreme media biases that ended up painting the LGBTQ+ community and their supporters in a bad light.

More recently, ABC’s Insiders allegedly promoted Tim Minchin’s parody of Peter Allen’s I still call Australia home, titled I still call Australia home -o – phobic (look it up on YouTube if you want. I won’t post it here). While opit got some praise in the media and elsewhere, there was a fair bit of backlash on social media due to it’s crudeness.

On a more serious note, is the misreporting of incidents between ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ campaigners. One example is Channel 9’s coverage of a standoff between ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ campaigners in Brisbane, in which, a meeting attendee was falsely accused of deliberately using his car as a weapon to mow down ‘Yes’ campaigners, in which protester Jessica Payne — who Today Show interviewed. Andrew Bolt pointed out that Payne was not injured by the driver, but tripping on a gutter.

There was more misreporting by the media on another confrontation happened at a barbeque set by a group of ‘It’s OK to say no’ campaigners. Contrary to the media reports, it was members of  the ‘Yes’ side that was causing the trouble, not ‘No’ campaigners.

Talking about ‘No’ side causing trouble, I’ve been incredibly disappointed about the lack of reporting and condemnation when the shoe is on the other foot. I noticed this for the first time last year when bomb threats were made against Melbourne’s LGBT radio station, Joy 94.9FM. At the time, I looked up multiple Facebook and news sites. There was no article ddon Mamamia, nothing on The Project and, most disappointingly, Andrew Bolt did not mention itvat all, on his TV show, on radio, in the papers or his blog.

There have been other events that haven’t been reported or condemned, for example, a Greek Orthodox priest saying that gays should be shot on Fatger’s Day this year. Another, more frightening example happened in Dubbo, New South Wales where a man was arrested after he threatened a 14 – year – old girl after she posted her support for same – sex marriage. Plus, very few from the mainstream media is pointing out that Madeline’s former contractor, Madlin Sims,  has faced abuse over  the incident with Madeline.

Plus, I’ve also read that parents of LGBTQ+ people and LGBTQ+ celebrities, like Magda Szubanski have been abused on social media. The abuse has been vile, including the false link that LGBTQ+ people are paedophiles. Author, Anthony Venn – Brown recently put his foot down and took to his Facebook page, warning that anyone who suggested a link between being LGBTQ+ and paedophilia were at risk of being permanently banned from his pages.

Screenshot of warning from author, Anthony Venn - Brown
Anthony Venn – Brown often takes criticism and insults on the chin, but has put his foot down when LGBTQ+ people are compared to paedophiles

 

So, from now on, can I make a plea to both sides of the media, please report factually. And please condemn ‘Yes’ supporters when it’s due and don’t ignore when it’s the ‘No’ side. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has said that he wants respectful debate. A bit of accurate reporting and fair commentary might help.

Categories
Opinion/Commentary

Can we talk about LGBTQ+ mental health?

Mental health image of brain
Image: iStock

 

CW: suicide, mental illness, homophobia

It’s ironic that World Suicide Prevention Day and R U OK Day came in the height of the same – sex marriage debate. I think there has been a lack of genuine discussion on the issue of mental health of LGBTQ+ people throughout these past few months. Organisations who have brought up the issue like the Australian Medical Association and have been slammed for suggesting that the same – sex marriage debate is deemed a health risk to the LGBTQ+ community.

Couple embracing
Image: iStock

I don’t know how these findings came about and I’m always skeptical of data when the sample size used is particularly small.

However,  Canberra Times reported that counsellors did see a spike in calls from LGBTQ+ people as the debate raged.

 

I’m not saying that those who are going to or have already voted ‘no’ in this survey are responsible for any suicide or mental health crisis that an LGBTQ+ person may experience. However, I am disappointed that sections of the media has quickly dismissed suggestions that some may be affected.

 

While I support a debate and a vote — to be frank I think it’ll be better later on — I’d be lying if I said it has been a walk in the park for a number of LGBTQ+ people. To their credit, Canberra Times, Huffington Post Australia and SBS have brought this up. I’ve also seen a number of Facebook posts giving coping tips to LGBTQ+ people who are finding it hard. Kudos to those who made those posts.

All I ask from the public is this: regardless of your views on same – sex marriage or how you’ve voted, please, please look out for LGBTQ+ you’re close to. Be a soft place to fall. If you think they need it, encourage your loved ones to get professional help.

For those who do need help, contact Lifeline: 13 11 14

Beyond Blue: 1300 224 636

QLife

 

 

Categories
Opinion/Commentary

First of postal surveys out today

THe first of the postal surveys for same – sex marriage were sent out today.

The question has been revealed.

The question of the postal survey has been revealed (screenshot of ABC website)

 

I’m not going to go on about the debate. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know what’s been going on.

I just want to say a word to the Australian LGBTQ+ community. This wasn’t an easy couple of weeks. I’ve been in tears a few times, if I’m honest and I’m not in a same – sex relationship. For those who are in same – sex relationships, I can only imagine how hard it’s been. I want to give you all a big hug.

 

To those who will vote ‘no’, it hasn’t been easy for you, either. Many have felt unfairly demonised. Attacks have been vile. The latest case of tweets from author Benjamin Law and one of his followers were vile. I’m sorry for all those who have been abused like that. It’s wrong. Period.

I hope the results of this doesn’t tear this country, families, neighbours, etc, apart. If you know someone who has been affected by this debate, please continue to support them. To those in the LGBTQ+ community who are desperate for samw – sex marriage to become law, please refrain from lashing out. This won’t help anyone, especially members of the LGBTQ+ community.

If anyone needs help, you can call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue: 1300 224 636.

Categories
Campaign

Let’s spread some positivity on social media!

On Saturday, I wrote a blog post saying that I wanted to start a positive social media campaign. Well, I have; #positivityneededproject.

I started this campaign as a result of the emotional and fierce same – sex marriage campaign. Plus, anyone who looks at the news lately, everything so tense.

So why not lighten the mood?

So, I decided to change focus. I wanted to spread a little bit of happiness and positivity on social media. I’ve started by looking up and posting positive quotes. Here’s one:

I’ve also quoted some lyrics that I find empowering:

Arch enemy lyrics in meme

 

So, show me what you’ve got! Join the campaign to spread some cheer on social media.