The creepy uncle is so common he has been made into a trope. You see him at Christmas where he is loud obnoxious, and he dominates the airtime. Don’t get too close to him because he is sure to cop a feel at any opportunity. He is most definitely racist, probably homophobic and proud to be sexist. We have such an uncle in Australia, he identifies as our “Aunty” and his name is the ABC (The Australian Broadcasting Corporation). I am happy to misgender “Aunty” because his approach to Australian cultural can only be described as patriarchal.
My attention is repeatedly and reluctantly draw to the ongoing focus of the ABC to rid women of traditional and religious ideology in the ongoing fight against the scourges of patriarchy, white supremacy, and gender inequity. The latest headline I failed to ignore read “For some, being a tradwife is about more time with family. For others, it's a dangerous far-right ideology.” A “tradwife” is a woman who takes pride in being a traditional housewife.
The piece reads like your standard ABC fare, a few Instagram posts with very few likes, some anecdotal stories, a university expert on “extremism,” a tenuous link to a New York Times article entitled “The Housewives of White Supremacy.” The story ends with a warning against “denouncing all tradwives.” Here I was thinking that we don’t “denounce” women at all in Australia for their lifestyle choices.
A bizarre mention is made that Australia has some of the lowest paid maternity leave in the world. As if housewives actively harm working women, but this is a tell-tale sign of a deeper ideology. It sounds unlikely, that Australian women should be at the bottom of any world indicators, but there is a link in the article to an ABC “fact check,” showing that although Australian women on lower wages receive generous maternity leave, women who earned above-average wages in Australia receive comparatively less generous provisions than some of their OECD compatriots. It seems a pretty simple case of wealthy women advocating for other wealthy women. But a walk through the recent history of western feminism gives us a deeper insight into why the feminists of the ABC worry so deeply about the gender other women perform.
In 2017 the ABC published a piece by Julia Baird and Hayley Gleeson titled “Submit to your husbands: Women told to endure domestic violence in the name of God.” The by-line was “Research shows that the men most likely to abuse their wives are evangelical Christians who attend church sporadically.” The basis of the accusation was American research conducted by the theologian Steven Tracey, on an American cohort. The research purported to show, that evangelicals who attended church sporadically were more likely to commit domestic violence, while regular attendance reduced incidences of violence. It seemed like a strange kind of investigative journalism for our national broadcaster.
Baird, has now gone on to claim in a recent article that Anglicans are also unusually violent among Australian Men. This is based on recent study conducted by the church itself. Although neither of the church studies seem to convincingly show a that Australian women in church cohorts are specifically at high risk, Baird considers it is “critical” to recognise that teaching and cultures in the churches are “drivers of domestic abuse.”
Professor Naomi Priest, a social epidemiologist at the Australian National University is brought in by Baird to comment on the problem with domestic violence in the church. An epidemiologist is a disease specialist, so one can surmise that a social epidemiologist is a person who specialises in disease within society. Priest is a fitting name for such a person because this is the new cultural priesthood seeking out sin and disease through the framework of the clinical gaze.
The cultural disease examined here would be the traditional performance of inequitable gender roles. Given the systemic gender inequity in question, Priest considers that the Anglican study is showing only "the tip of the iceberg" because surveys were likely being completed by women “on the couch with the perpetrator right there with them.” Also, that the Christian church is such a hotbed of biased gender systems and violence that “DV and related issues are major reasons why women and survivors leave churches.” None of this is supported by any data.
The gender Priest then goes on to say that the old priests have got the diagnosis of sin entirely wrong: "Focusing on domestic violence as an individual aberration or sin—as is seen by some of the clergy in this report who describe reasons for domestic violence in terms of narcissistic personality or alcohol abuse—rather than as related to structural, systemic cultural issues in churches related to gender equality and interpretations of scripture, are also reasons suggested for the higher proportion of domestic abuse in churches." We mustn’t focus on the behaviour of men, according to the gender priest, nor must we discuss alcoholism or coercive control. Instead, the gender belief system is what must be targeted.
The crux of the gender-based feminist contention is that there is a “general agreement” about the direct link between gender inequality and intimate partner violence (IPV). The brochure linked in the article about is from the Australian Centre for the Study of Sexual Assault says that “violence against women is understood to be a manifestation of historically unequal power relations between men and women.” This root cause for IPV then is “gender systems.”
To get definitions out of the way, “gender” is the word we use for the cultural meanings and stereotypes that societies attach to sex. Unlike sex, gender is culturally constructed. Although there is a general idea that sex and gender are interchangeable, this has only been the case in the vernacular. Universities and government bodies have long made the distinction in the terms.
In the early 90’s when I wrote my thesis in cultural studies, women’s studies was turning into gender studies, and this didn’t happen organically. Universities such as my own were “corporatising” and the humanities were feeling pressure to become “vocational.” My own honours thesis was titled “Policing Culture” and argued that culture could be managed in populations through cultural policy, as was the prevailing academic trend.
In 1992 the geographer Linda McDowell wrote the following in “Doing Gender: Feminism, Feminists and Research Methods in Human Geography”:
After years of either ignoring feminist work or assuming it is only for women, many theorists are now turning to feminist scholarship in order to examine the difference that gender makes to what we know and how we know it. Part of the reason for this is the shift of emphasis in feminist scholarship away from women towards gender, allowing issues about the social construction of and geographical variations in masculinity as well as femininity to be raised.
In 1993 the UN redefined violence against women in the “Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women” to place the root cause of violence in gender:
For this Declaration, the term "violence against women" means any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life.
Over the last 30 years, women’s studies has gone from a sparsely funded examination of the inequality of the sexes, to having many billions of dollars being poured into gender research by governments, the World Bank, the UN and the WHO. The UN fund for Gender Equity released US$ 66M over ten years for goals that sound almost entirely like nonsense, even to someone with a humanities degree. One of the nonsense aims are “addressing social norms to advance gender equality.” Almost all the literature I examined that pursued the link between gender inequality and IPV was littered with publications from these international bodies. The women’s revolution was not squashed, it has been purchased in instalments.
Going over the studies linked to ABC reporting, particularly in the last ten to fifteen years, the focus on gender has become so absolute, that there seems to be blindness to crushing poverty, biological sex, the importance of protective infrastructure and the problems in a western standpoint in cross cultural analyses.
One of the main sources that Baird uses is a Lancet article that states:
[d]espite the strong and consistent negative association between GDP per person and level of partner violence, level of socioeconomic development is unlikely to be causally related to prevalence of intimate partner violence. Rather, GDP per person seems to be a marker for other social processes that often accompany socioeconomic development. These include erosion of the belief in male superiority, entry of women into the paid labour force, and increased access to education and economic assets for women. More gender-equitable norms could naturally emerge as values shift from survival issues to greater emphasis on self-actualisation, individualism, and innovation, as modernisation theorists contend.
Notice the words “naturally emerge,” as if gender values had been grown from the ground of economic prosperity. The focus of what is now mainstream feminism is always gender as the “driver” because it has abandoned material analysis. When I say material, I mean mostly class and sex and the resistance movements that grew out of difficult material circumstances that poverty and sex create, or what the Marxists call “oppression.”
We know that more equitable gender does not “naturally emerge” from wealth because of countries like Saudi Arabia. A very simplistic and basic observation could conclude that in Saudi Arabia gender inequity, and not GDP, is the reason that women are not able to remove their bodies from risk. But the problem is that in Saudi Arabia and other Muslim countries, gender is placed in the driver’s seat by religious governments. Gender equity didn’t evolve in the west, cultural change was forged from grassroots sex-based resistance movements that constantly attempted to take gender out of the driver’s seat and place it in the passenger seat.
It is the deliberate placing of gender in the driver’s seat, that is most harmful to women, and the result is always the erosion of women’s sexual boundaries. Looking at cross-country research that is linked in the references the ABC uses, it is convincingly established that countries with more equitable attitudes towards women have lower rates of domestic violence, however that gender is always the driver is not demonstrated.
Sexual protection infrastructure in the west has been built over hundreds of years by both middle and working-class women. English social reformer and feminist Josephine Butler (1828-1906), focused on raising the age of consent, stopping surgical rape, and challenging ”men's right to sexual access to prostituted women and children.” It was a primary focus on sex with a secondary focus on gender.
Butler said that the “degradation of these poor unhappy women is not degradation for them alone; it is a blow to the dignity of every virtuous woman too, it is dishonour done to me, it is the shaming of every woman in every country of the world." Here Butler reshapes the gender definition of a “virtuous women” into one that does not stand by and watch the sexual degradation of women and girls. Butler’s work is recast by modern feminists as primarily a fight against the cultural patriarchy, they try to re-situate her sex-based work into a gender lens, shamelessly appropriating grassroots sex-based feminism into their own narrative.
One astounding study across Asian nations, funded by the UN, indicated that over 59% of men from Papua New Guinea (Bougainville Island) said they had been the perpetrator of a rape. This is not just male domination or patriarchy, because countries with complete male domination and regressive attitudes toward women do not have these kinds of statistics. We can only conclude that this is a rape culture, “a society or environment whose prevailing social attitudes have the effect of normalising or trivialising sexual assault and abuse.” In other words where women’s sexual boundaries are ignored in culture and sexual protection systems don’t exist.
Western women fought for the power to remove their bodies and those of their children from sexual risk, and this power has forced men and women to adjust their gender expectations of women and men. The power of sexual consent lies at the heart of the way western women were some of the first in history to put gender in the passenger seat. And we almost got away with it.
By sexual boundaries I mean, practical measures like those that Josephine Butler fought for, and things like the criminalisation of rape in marriage, women’s shelters, the ability to earn a living wage, and state enforcement of rights of consent. When men are separated from the right of access to women’s bodies, males will adjust their social behaviour to gain access to women’s “graces,” even to the point of expressing attitudes they do not hold. As we see in the phenomenon of the male feminist.
The use of gender as a dominant form of analysis in feminism, and its use as a primary research component in domestic violence prevention, has led to domestic violence prevention strategies being divided into two categories “primary” and “secondary” intervention. Primary is focused on reducing “gender inequality” and secondary are the types of intervention that separate female bodies from the risk of male physical and sexual violence.
According to the ABC Primary Prevention funding is critical in keeping women in the regions safe, and domestic violence services are “crying out” for this funding to combat the “underlying drivers of domestic violence.” So, I turned to Australia’s most progressive government (Victoria) to examine the “Research and Approaches to Primary Prevention” and found:
While many factors are said to contribute to violence against women, research in the last decade has found that at the population level the two most significant determinants are:
• the unequal distribution of power and resources between men and women
• an adherence to rigidly defined gender roles, or what it means to be (and live as) masculine or feminine (VicHealth 2007).
Again, I went through the linked research. Again, I found it littered with sources by the UN, WHO, and the Victorian Government itself, but I also found a startling admission. That “Primary Prevention” is entirely experimental. “The primary prevention of violence against women is a relatively new area of practice in Victoria (and elsewhere in the world), with innovation characteristic of the field. As a result, high-quality impact evaluations are rare, but there is a strong body of promising and emerging practice (Our Watch 2014b; Webster & Flood 2015).
I read the two sources that are mentioned as proof of the effectiveness of the “emerging practice.” The author of one is “Our Watch” a registered charity in Victoria. It has declared over $10M AUD income, last year, the majority emanating from the government. Reports of Our Watch are similarly depended on the documents from international research specifically funded to prove the gender inequity thesis. The other reference from Webster and Flood is much of the same. The insistence that gender is a driver, followed by the lack of evidence and scant justification for the hypothesis.
Dr Michael Flood’s research is most revealing. There is a snivelling apologetics in the work for the inconsistencies in the underlying thesis. He acknowledges that “some societies that are relatively gender equal, such as some of the Nordic countries, still have high rates of violence against women. This may be the result of increased disclosure of violence in surveys.” Still, it calls for shameless and authoritarian intervention into “everyday interaction, sexual behaviour, child rearing practices such as the use of physical forms of discipline and gendered divisions of labour and patterns of decision-making in families.”
Flood’s article has at least 22 references from the World Bank, The World Health Organization, The World Economic Forum, and the United Nations. Dr Flood identifies as a feminist but he also describes the current conflict in women’s rights as “tensions between trans women’s rights and the rights of other women.” By “other women,” of course, he means women. This is a top-down ideology, and this is not a feminist one.
After 30 years and massive amounts of money into gender-based feminist research, we have seen the erosion of women as a category and women’s sexual boundaries. In Australia, women now have no usable legal definition of “women” with which to describe themselves and advocate for themselves. The Tasmanian Anti-Discrimination Commission has found that women no longer have the right to discriminate between “types of bodies,” the entire basis for single sex safeguarding. The removal of consent from women to create, police and maintain their own spaces is part of the placing of gender beliefs in state power. It is institutional rape culture and the final step in the corporatisation of the original women’s movement that contended with the state for rights and protections on the basis of material sex and economic class.
After years of western governments negotiating with the women and the working class for rights and protections, in the end, governments solved the problem by purchasing both the oppression and the resistance movements of women to culturally manage the broader population. The UN, The World Bank, The WHO, governments, feminist academia, champagne socialists, and our own ABC are happy little kitties drinking the milk they are given to completely ignore actual sex inequities in the world. Billions and billions of dollars is being paid to upper-class owners of cultural capital to take their place in the new priesthood that solely investigates the wrong thoughts, intentions in cultures of western populations.
There is not a problem that now exists that won’t be found to have a primary cause in the deep-seated bias of western populations, particularly the working and middle classes. There is not a solution that won’t involve looking to the new priesthood to find cultural “systems” of inequity within ourselves. Accordingly, we are told to abandon our right to religion, our knowledge of biology and our own culture and conscience, to allow the state and internationally-funded capital to give us more appropriate values and artificial identities around which to skirt the larger questions of poverty and violence.
In reality, intimate partner violence is not gender-based, it is sex-based. Violence against women prospers everywhere that women don’t have adequate sex-based protections, where sex-based consent is removed by legal and cultural beliefs (gender), and where those gender beliefs are backed by state power.
My great objection to being fed gender-based feminism by the ABC is that they are taxpayer-funded. I am neither a tradwife, nor do I have rigid religious-based gender roles in my marriage, but if I wanted that life, I am entitled to it. The problem is much larger than the ABC. To use the language of the left, these systems of gender ideology need to be dismantled. The ABC and anyone advocating “primary prevention” need to be systematically and strategically starved of their funding, and we must return funding to the sex-based, and reality-based, needs of women and girls.