Sunday, 5 August 2018

Reconciling person, citizen, paid employee 1

It was a common saying of ‘second wave’ feminism that 'the personal is political' - that what happened in homes and ‘private life’ was not outside the sphere of politics, but reflected power arrangements in society.

We are still seeing that playing out, particularly in the sphere of work-life balance, domestic and family violence, and sexual harassment and violence. It’s been a long struggle to get these issues taken seriously, and the struggle continues. For example, recently the Age (3/8/18) had a front page story and editorial about violence against women. It was strongly worded, but it's certainly not the first time there have been such calls. Will it make a difference? I don’t know, but I am fairly certain that it is less acceptable for men to hit their wives than it was when I was young.

The struggle to show that the personal is political continues. The unfair burden of domestic and caring work on women, and family violence, still go on, but are no longer (I think) seen as just ‘private’ matters. In the area of sexual harassment and violence there is still a huge way to go, for example in that that most rapes are not reported to the police and there is very small chance of successful prosecution.

Most informed commentators agree that underlying this, there is a broader social problem of discrimination against women, of women being taken less seriously than men, as Jane Caro recently expressed it. Old patriarchal ways of thought still see men as more important. Kate Manne provides a useful discussion of misogyny as social circumstances that function to subordinate women, rather than some kind of individual hatred of women (see Down Girl, chapter 1).

Like most women, particularly of my age, I can provide many examples of sexual harassment or violence in my private life, particularly as a young woman, including being hit, or being groped in the street, to the doctor who made me walk around his room naked under the guise of a medical examination. One of the reasons I don't talk about this much is that it's demeaning, even or perhaps those things that seem minor and foolish. I think people would probably laugh at me if I talked about these things, or try to silence me from embarrassment. The shame - which should attach to the perpetrators - somehow seems to attach to me, to those who have experienced such things. Moreover, if we try to talk about such things, we are also likely to be seen as persecutors, as vengeful women who are trying to shame men who are basically 'good guys' who haven't done anything 'serious'.

This silencing of women, which Manne also writes about, is serious. Today, however, I want to discuss my experiences as a citizen, in that area between the ‘private/domestic’ and the 'public/paid employee'.

In that area, I've been active in recent years through discussion on blogs and on Twitter, over the longer term through participating in many protests and marches for more than 50 years, and, particularly in the late 1990s  and early 2000s, through being a member of political parties, and active in policy development and campaigns. In that area, I've experienced several forms of silencing and exclusion, which I find confusing and hard to analyse: are they about 'me' as a (difficult) individual, or are they about misogyny, in Kate Manne's sense? I'll start a new blog post to discuss this

Sunday, 15 July 2018

Coming back to this blog

For a while I have been blogging at a new blog I started, speakingfspeakingfearlesslyearlessly. However, I've decided to bring my blogging back here. I thought that I needed a different blog to speak freely, or fearlessly, in a way that I could not do as a researcher and teacher at Monash University. But I've now decided there must be a way to speak honestly that is compatible with my work as a teacher.

Some issues were about expression - being honest about emotion, even if that meant swearing or saying 'uncivil' things. This was also about not being boring - safe, cautious and boring. Others were about politics - I support the Greens because I think they are the only party that is facing the real challenges of inequality and environmental degradation that we are facing. I can't see why I shouldn't say that really. However, there are some real problems in the Greens which I have some involvement in now, and I can't talk about it all because it involves other people and things that have been said to me in confidence. Some of the issues were about my feminism and the personal battles I've had, some of which involved people prominent in my field. There's a lot that's unresolved there, but I hope to resolve it.

It was useful writing there, but I think I should be able to integrate all this. I'll polish this up later, and add in some relevant links, but I'll try to bring the theory and practice together here.

Update 4 August - I’ll do a new post instead of trying to polish this one.

Wednesday, 6 June 2018

Red face emoji and thesis details!

just realised that I haven't updated this blog to reflect that my thesis was finally finished and accepted!

It's now called 'Promoting equity, environmental sustainability and health: frameworks for action and advocacy' and is available in the Monash University library. I'm happy to provide a copy to anyone interested - contact me on Valerie.kay (at) Monash.edu

A copy of the 100 word summary is below. I'll add the abstract later. The 100 word statement takes a fairly broad brush approach to economics and gives economics rather more centrality than the thesis as a whole does. This is because there are some important ideas that I wanted to communicate in a few words. I'll discuss this further later.


The study addresses the urgent problems of environmental degradation and inequality, using community-based action research. Participants developed a framework for promoting environmental sustainability, equity and health. The framework expressed an ethic of caring for people and environment, demonstrated in projects on local fresh food, housing sustainability and active transport. The value of such work is not fully recognised by mainstream economics. Mainstream economic discourse reflects patriarchal and colonial ideas about man improving nature, and sees caring as less important than competition and technology. I urge health promoters to challenge this discourse and advocate for an ethic of care.


Thursday, 29 March 2018

The ISEPICH Social Inclusion and Equity Checklist

This was a checklist developed by an ISEPICH health promotion working group in 2010. It doesn't appear to be available on the internet anymore, but it's a useful document, which is also referenced in my thesis. So I am making a copy available here. This seems to be as large as I can make it onscreen but I think the pictures can be more clearly viewed by clicking on them. The first page is definitions, the second is the checklist.



 

Saturday, 24 February 2018

Progress report on thesis and articles

I've received the examiners' reports on my thesis and have to respond to one of them within the next four weeks. Hopefully it will all be finished soon and the thesis can be published.

I'm also drafting articles. The first one I plan is largely describing the work that was being done and helpful factors and challenges. I then hope to publish more analytical articles on frameworks, discourse and the advocacy that is needed to support health promotion on equity and environmental sustainability.

I'm also going to start a new blog. It will relate to many of the ideas explored in this blog and the research project, but be more outspoken. I've felt constrained in some ways in this one as a researcher and academic, so the new one will be specifically about exploring ideas as a global citizen, who happens to be an academic and researcher, but isn't primarily speaking in that role.

It's interesting that I - and I think others - feel constrained about 'speaking truth to power' because we are academics. Indeed it's concerning. I hope the new blog gives an opportunity to do this more, and better. I've certainly tried to speak truth as a researcher here, but there have been some constraints, which I'll explore more on the new blog, I hope.

I will keep adding info here as it seems relevant. One interesting observation - I recently discussed some ideas about equity on Facebook and was heartened by the response of my FB friends. I'll see if I can put some of the discussion here.

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Seasons greetings and submission of thesis

Seasons greetings and best wishes for 2018. The photo is a Corranderrk bush at Bollygum Park, in Kinglake.  The beautiful words below are from Wurundjeri Elder, Joy Murphy Wandin:

'Coranderrk is a word from my Granny Jemima’s Pangerang language. This beautiful small stemmed bush grows along the banks of the Murray as it does by the Birrarung in Healesville. It blooms in December with sprays of tiny cream and mauvish coloured bell-shaped flowers; the whiteman call it the prosthanera Lasianthos. When I picture the glistening ripples of the river and the subtle fragrance of this plant, I feel relaxed and peaceful. Perhaps this was what my Granny hoped for, given she, like so many other children, was taken from her family, classed an orphan child and sent to Coranderrk.'
 (Information from AIATSIS at http://aiatsis.gov.au/publications/products/coranderrk-we-will-show-country/paperback)


The plant is also known by the English name of 'Christmas bush'. I have used pictures of the flowers before for seasons greetings, because when I used to live in the hills, their beautiful spicy smell became entwined with Christmas for me.

However, it was not until I read the plaque at Bollygum that I realized that this small tree is also called Corranderk in the Woiwurrung or Wurundjeri language.  I had previously heard that Corranderk was the name for a local tea tree, but it seems it was really the name for this tree. Corranderk was, of course, also the name for the reserve where Woiwurrung and Bunurong people who survived the British invasion went to live, until even that was taken from them.

It is poignantly beautiful, and sad, to think of Joy Murphy's Granny smelling the same beautiful scent, and welcoming the coming of summer, as I did many years later, without knowing this history. Everything in Australia is imbued with this history of invasion and dispossession and until we come to terms with it, there will always be this loss at the heart of our country.

I find it hard to imagine how a people can forgive those who took their land, and directly and indirectly, caused the death of so many of their ancestors. Yet is clear from the words of Elders like Joy Murphy and Boon Wurrung Arweet Carolyn Briggs, that they extend the possibility of forgiveness and reconciliation, again and again. Our white political leaders fail to take it, but one day a treaty and reconciliation must happen, I hope in my lifetime.

I also want to say that I submitted my thesis on 7 December and am awaiting the results of examination.  My acknowledgements to Elders and participants from the thesis are below:


I acknowledge the custodians of this land, particularly the Boon Wurrung, Gunditjamara, Jardwadjali, Dja Dja Wurrung, Wergaia, Wotjobaluk, Jaadwa, and Jupagulk peoples, whose ancestors have lived for thousands of years on the country where this research was conducted. I pay my respect to Elders past and present. I give particular thanks to Elders, past and present, who supported or participated in this research.

I acknowledge and thank all the participants in this study, who are my co-researchers and co-authors in this study, even though their real names cannot be given here. I hope this thesis can support the work you are doing and ensure its value and significance is recognised.

I will try to post again soon on the results of the research and the challenges of putting these results into plain language.