Blog - Page 13 of 23
It was with great disappointment and disgruntlement that Spinifex yesterday learnt of Amazon’s decision to cease sales of IPG Kindle titles.
For those who don’t know, IPG is a US distributor offering services like marketing, sales and distribution to small publishing houses. They are a vital service for those of us who are a presence in the American book market, but cannot physically distribute over there. Spinifex is just one of IPG’s 400 clients whose eBook titles will no longer be available to purchase through Amazon, for the Kindle eReader. The publishing world is reporting on this news, and many articles make the salient point that IPG did nothing wrong in their negotiations with the conglomerate, but are simply the victims of Amazon’s cutthroat narrow margins.
It should be noted that print editions of Spinifex titles are still available to purchase through Amazon. It is only Kindle eBooks that are affected. But there are alternative booksellers for our American readers wishing to purchase from the Spinifex digital list. Spinifex eBooks can be purchased as NOOK books through Barnes & Noble. They are available through IndieBound, which sources titles from independent bookstores. And IPG sell our print and digital books direct.
It is especially unfortunate that this fall-out has come when the US release of Spinifex’s best-selling ‘Big Porn Inc’ is right around the corner. ‘Big Porn Inc: Exposing the Harms of the Global Pornography Industry’ is officially released in America on March 1: but copies are now available from Barnes & Noble. The print & digital versions of ‘Big Porn Inc’ will be available as a B&N NOOK book and can be purchased directly from IPG.
Spinifex is proud to remain a client of the Independent Publishers Group, and we are very grateful to them for the superb work they do promoting and selling Spinifex’s titles overseas.— The Spinifex Team
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The women listening nod silently. The abuse victim’s story resonates:
I always knew there was something different about this man. Professionally he was used to being in power. At home he had a constant need to know where I was, who I was with, and what I was doing. My attention had to be on him. After the birth of my three daughters, the emotional abuse increased. He also developed an addiction to pornography. I made a decision not to have my daughters grow up in an abusive household and I left with nothing. The violence continued after separation through letters and emails-it was hard but I would do it again,’ ….Tanya
On February 16, Spinifex women attended Be The Hero
! Held at the Melbourne Town Hall, the event was organised by the Victorian Women’s Trust
. It was part of Storming Against Violence 2012,
a week of action and awareness of violence against women, and the Trust’s ongoing work in the community.
Dr Jackson Katz
, a leading U.S violence prevention advocate, internationally recognised for his groundbreaking work in the field of gender violence prevention education, addressed the audience and called on men to do a lot more to prevent violence against women. ‘Domestic violence and sexual violence have been seen as woman’s issues but these are also men’s issues,’ he said. ‘Everywhere women look over their shoulders and limit themselves because of the threat of domestic violence’ said Katz. He said that few men have spoken up and taken a stand against domestic violence. He challenged men, particularly those in leadership positions to get involved and confront violence against women.
Katz explained that the current manner in which matters of domestic violence are referred to as women’s issues gives men an excuse not to do anything about it. ‘Men have been rendered invisible’, he said. This is perpetuated by the media which frequently reports that ‘a woman was raped’, omitting any mention of the perpetrator. He stressed the importance of inserting the active agent.
Reporters at The Brisbane Times
also need to learn how to report on domestic violence. Yesterday they
reported the death of a small boy thrown off the Story Bridge in Brisbane by his father who then jumped. The news item did not identify this as domestic violence, instead it referred to the father, who had just murdered his son, as a ‘top bloke’. In this article the inevitable loss and suffering of the child’s mother was rendered invisible.
The VWT’s Be The Hero
forum departed from previous protocol where the activists and researchers deliberating on matters of domestic violence were women. On this occasion it was Jackson Katz along with Dr Michael Flood, a sociologist at the University of Wollongong and a White Ribbon Ambassador, and Be-The-Hero
co-ordinator Paul Zappa
. Not everyone agrees with this change of order. The executive director of the Victorian Women’s Trust, Mary Crooks told the audience she had received a call from a supporter who was highly critical of the Trust’s decision to invite only men to speak about domestic violence.
While it’s easy to understand that this new approach might be interpreted as ‘fraternising with the enemy’, maybe it’s time to consider the role that men can play in reaching abusers and potential violators.
In his presentation, Dr Michael Flood acknowledged the great debt that society owes to feminist research and activism. In the 1960s and 70s, the public interest and action around domestic violence grew after feminist activists established refuges for female victims and their children. Over the last forty years, both public and private funding has been provided for shelters, laws against domestic violence have been toughened and education programs for health care professionals to recognise the symptoms of DV have been established. But Domestic violence
still poses the greatest risk for disease and premature death for women 15 to 44 years-old. In 2009 the economic cost of violence against women to the Australian community was 13.6 billion dollars.
Michael Flood spoke about the unequal gender roles that still exist in society today. ‘Men’s violence is grounded in systematic inequality between men and women,’ he said. ‘We have to stop using words ‘bitch’ and ‘cunt’ – our language has to change’. He said there is a real need for society to be aware of the way that woman are portrayed in pornography and he called on governments to end inequality and for men to mobilise and join movements such as The White Ribbon Campaign.
Flood is understandably concerned about the influence of pornography on relationships between men and women. Currently we live in an increasingly pornographic world where brutal and violent images that depict porn stars having their vaginas and anuses penetrated by more than one penis at a time are instantly downloadable. Such brutal images cannot help but perpetuate the inequality between men and women and the sexual violence against all women.
On the Spinifex Press
table were many books written and published about violence against women such as Big Porn Inc
which exposes the harms of the global pornographic industry, Pornland
: How porn has hijacked our sexuality, and Not For Sale:
Feminists resisting prostitution and pornography.
At the close of proceedings, Jackson Katz, Michael Flood and Paul Zappa were presented with complementary copies of Pornland and Big Porn Inc.
Let’s hope they get the message and pass it on!
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The Victorian Women’s Trust is holding a week of community action to protest against violence towards women.
Storming against violence runs from the 13 – 17th February featuring Be the Hero is the premier event with Insight, action & strategies that break cycles of violence. Hosted by Andrew O’Keefe, with Dr Jackson Katz, with contributions from Dr Michael Flood & Paul Zappa.
To mark the event initiated by the Victorian Women's Trust, Mary Crooks (VWT Executive Director) has penned an opinion piece which examines the undercurrents of sexism, violence & complacency existing in Australian society, where individuals fear to speak against the status quo, enforcing a culture of tolerators.
The end of the tolerator
True story. People hovered in the chemist shop waiting area. She felt one of the guys looking her up and down in a way that made her uneasy. In taking his turn to speak with the chemist, he said in a loud voice – ‘You can always tell a depressed lesbian can’t you?’ Mildly discomforted, the chemist remained silent.
By choosing silence, the chemist becomes what filmmaker Abigail Disney describes as a ‘tolerator’ - someone who knows that another’s behaviour is unacceptable, but offers no resistance or contestation. As a ‘tolerator’ he becomes complicit in the other’s action. Because he did not challenge his customer’s attitude, the guilty party receives tacit permission to continue behaving boorishly.
Why did the chemist choose to be silent? It would not take much for him to challenge and contest this abusive behaviour. He could simply say with a soft smile, ‘Mate, there’s no need to talk like that,’ sending the other man a signal that he was not prepared to endorse his words. Without social sanction, his customer might think again and may even change his ways.
This sort of action and response is acted out thousands of times a day, all over the country – the turning of a blind eye to situations that we know in our hearts and minds are unacceptable. By soft-peddling on abusive behaviours and insidious violence, we erode our collective capacity to exercise compassion and respect, as well as guaranteeing the safety and well-being of our fellow citizens, young and older.
When it comes to both sexual assault and violence within families, we are a nation of ‘tolerators’. The latest statistics tell us that these particular crimes are on the increase. In Victoria alone, the latest police crime report reveals that the rape offences recorded in 2010/11 increased by 9% on the previous year. Crime against the person offences arising from family incidents accounted for over a quarter of all such crime during 2010/2011, representing an increase of over 26% from the previous year. Even allowing for improved reporting mechanisms, these are deeply disturbing figures.
The impacts of this violence are immense. Sexual assault commonly means life-long trauma for victims. Family violence exacts a terrible toll, for both boys and girls as well. Australian Bureau of Statistics survey data reveal that over one third of family violence reports indicate that the violence was witnessed by children in the care of women experiencing the violence. Other research shows that exposure to violence in the family increases children’s risk of health, behavioural and learning difficulties in the short term; of developing mental health problems later in life; and in the case of some boys particularly, of being at risk of perpetrating violence as adults.
The economic costs are huge. Analyses carried out by leading accounting firms over the last decade suggest that violence currently costs the nation billions, yes billions, of dollars every year.
The stark reality is that sexual assault and family violence is highly gendered. Some rape is male against male, and some family violence is caused by women, but the overwhelming majority of sexual assault and family violence perpetrators are male. Women and girls know intimately the ways they order their lives around the threat of violence stemming from an unhealthy and anti-social masculinity that depends and thrives on entitlement, intimidation, domination and control.
Most men implicitly reject this form of masculinity, choosing not to have violence in their lives and not to exercise violence in their relationships with women. But here’s the nub of the argument as well as the pointer to positive social change, healthier gender relations and reduced social and economic costs of violence.
While many men reject violence in their own lives, they should also assume the pivotal role in violence prevention. Men (and boys) need to commit to the challenge of contestation, to learn and practice ways of confronting the particular culture of masculinity that breeds perpetrators and sustains violence. Increasingly, and with community education and positive support, they should to be prepared and equipped to confront their peers in everyday life situations – family gatherings, staff rooms, office corridors, building sites, club rooms, on-line, and at the chemist shop – sending clear signals that sexist and violent assumptions, attitudes and behaviour are just not on.
To believe violence is somehow only a ‘women’s issue’ is a poor excuse. Victoria’s top policeman knows this. Assuming the mantle of Victoria’s Chief Commissioner in late 2011, Ken Lay acknowledged that domestic violence is one of the most complex, least visible and fastest growing areas of crime. Quite rightly, he said we are not going to solve it by locking people up. Instead, it requires urgent attention and a fresh approach.
Men making a difference is the critical ingredient of a new approach. This is the a key message of Jackson Katz, a leading United States’ violence prevention advocate who visits Melbourne and Sydney in February as a guest of the Victorian Women’s Trust. Author of The Macho Paradox
and the film Tough Guise,
Katz’s bystander approach is part and parcel of the fresh thinking that is needed to deal with one of our most pressing social issues.
We will continue to see unacceptably high levels of sexual assault and family violence as long as people remain ‘tolerators’. When men care deeply about the women and girls in their lives – mothers, daughters, partners and friends – then they should also be alert to, and troubled by, the fact that other men perpetrate terrible violence towards other women and girls. Silence and passivity (‘I don’t behave that way so I’m okay’) acts as potent cultural affirmation.
When everyone, especially men and boys, steps up and claims male violence as an issue that must involve them, and where they tackle it as best they can in a raft of day-to day practical ways, the ‘tolerator’ fabric will inexorably start to wear thin.
Victorian Women’s Trust
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by Ryl Harrison
Bite Your Tongue is wonderful in every way, an incredible story of course, but it really is just so beautifully written; it is pure joy to read (for me the reading experience was something like Roy's God of Small Things, but I can't really say why). One of my favourite bits was when Glory was describing the sensation of feeling the wrinkles in the blue plastic of bottom of the above-ground swimming pool with her toes (I think when they were going around and around making whirlpools). I was right there, I know that feeling - what a tiny detail, but so powerfully evoked.
Lots about this book resonates with my life, experiences of childhood through fundamentalist religion, Queensland, pineapples and blue swimming pools.
My secret to making this book last longer is to re-read all your favourite sentences, and frequently I did, I would find myself at the end of a sentence and going back to read it again for the pure joy.
This book also made me cry: big snotty, snivelling tears.
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* Letter to the EditorAnne Summers
posed the question of whether you can be a political conservative and a feminist. Her answer was yes. I disagree. At its heart, feminism is about acknowledging the systemic oppression of women coupled with a desire to do something about it. It is about recognition of the need for a collective social movement to bring about societal change.
This definition of feminism also influences how one views the contentious issue of abortion. For Summers, abortion is just about individual choice. An alternative feminist approach is to question the role of abortion in alleviating the inconvenient consequences for men of sex. At a time when we are so prepared to acknowledge the massive emotional and spiritual ramifications of children given up for adoption, children born through donated sperm or egg (with many of those children desperate to find out about their biological origins), the forced surrender of babies born to young unwed mothers, and the loss of a baby through miscarriage and stillbirth, why is it that abortion must be reduced to the realm of a simple medical procedure without consequences?
To deny the impact that abortion has on many women is to give men a free pass in terms of their sexual responsibility. After all, if men can undo pregnancy by putting the onus on a woman to have a medical procedure to solve the inconvenience of a baby, where is the justice in that?
Anne Summers equates women’s ability to be independent with the right to control fertility. She says that “women might choose periods of dependence on a husband or someone else while they raise children...but the key is that this is a voluntary state.” How appalling that motherhood can be diminished in this way as a regressive time from which one quickly recovers and bounces back to independence (which sounds suspiciously akin to being more like a man). What feminism must and should advocate for is that women in all our states of being— old or young; married or not; with children or not; gay or straight; sick or well—are equally worthy to any man. Feminism must speak to those in poverty as well as to those who “can choose periods of dependence”, and this means challenging the operative social norms that privilege the individual, and personal financial success, at the expense of community well-being.
Women, especially those who may be reliant on social welfare such as single mothers, should not be demeaned for relying on others for financial support. Indeed, in a just society, that is what we do, just as we should do for the unemployed, for refugees, for those with disabilities, and for those who are aged or infirm. To deny the role of a society in looking after its own citizens and to put financial independence as the pinnacle of achievement is to deny the collective nature of feminism and the characteristics of the social structures that hinder or support women’s choices.
Women’s empowerment must happen but that cannot take place in an environment where our bodies are demeaned and become our enemies. Medical procedures have consequences, including emotional ones and this truth cannot be denied. Let women choose abortion, but to present it to them as a bland option about “freedom of choice” is to reinforce a lie. Put abortion where it belongs—in a social context, and as a consequence of sexuality that involves both women and men. It is frankly not good enough to absolve society of its obligations or to deflect attention from the social structures that impel many women to seek an abortion. If workplaces-and attitudes to women, motherhood and community were different-so might be the choices that women make.
* This piece was originally a letter to the editor, in response to the Anne Summers article 'There is no such thing as a pro-life feminist', which appeared in The Age on January 22, 2012.
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this tiny crack
in our lives
wind and rain strewn
stranded on the limen
that space between
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