Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Lecturers in world-first male studies course at University of South Australia under scrutiny

Feminists believe in free speech for feminists only

LECTURERS in a "world-first" male studies course at the University of South Australia have been linked to extreme views on men's rights and websites that rail against feminism.

The lecturers' backgrounds are likely to spark controversy, but organisers of the predominantly online course, promoted as the first of its type in the world, insist they are not anti-feminist and "it's very difficult for anybody who has opposing views to get a word in".

Two lecturers have been published by prominent US anti-feminist siteA Voice for Men, a site which regularly refers to women as "bitches" and "whores" and has been described as a hate site by the civil rights organisation Southern Poverty Law Centre.

The US site specifically welcomed the UniSA course as a milestone, editor Paul Elam saying it marked the end of feminists' control of the agenda.

One American US lecturer - US attorney and self-professed "anti-feminist lawyer" Roy Den Hollander - has written that the men's movement might struggle to exercise influence but that "there is one remaining source of power in which men still have a near monopoly - firearms".

He also argues that feminists oppress men in today's world and refers to women's studies as "witches' studies".

Another, US psychology professor Miles Groth, says that date-rape awareness seminars might be deterring men from going to university.

Mr Den Hollander has tried to sue ladies' nights for discrimination against men. He has likened the position of men today to black people in America's south in the 1950s "sitting in the back of the bus", and blames feminists for oppressing men.

The course, which has no prerequisites, begins this year and will canvass subjects from men's health to gender bias.

Course founder Gary Misan, from UniSA's Centre for Rural Health and Community Development, said they were "not anti-women" and that lecturers were associated with a range of groups.

"I wouldn't say any of them are extreme or anti-feminist," Dr Misan said.

"The aim of the courses are to present a balanced view and to counter some of the negative rhetoric that exists in society in general and in some areas of academe about men.

"It's very difficult for anybody who has opposing views to get a word in. As soon as somebody mentions anything they perceive as being anti-feminist, they're pilloried, and in some cases almost persecuted."

Dr Misan also said that writing something for a specific website did not necessarily suggest an affiliation.

Dr Michael Flood, from the University of Wollongong's Centre for Research on Men and Masculinity, said these types of male studies "really represents the margins".

"It comes out of a backlash to feminism and feminist scholarship. The new male studies is an effort to legitimise, to give academic authority, to anti-feminist perspectives," he said.

Flinders University School of Education senior lecturer Ben Wadham, who has a specific interest in men's rights, said there was a big difference between formal masculinity studies and "populist" male studies.

He said there were groups that legitimately help men, and then the more extreme activists.

"That tends to manifest in a more hostile movement which is about 'women have had their turn, feminism's gone too far, men are now the victims, white men are now disempowered'," he said.

"I would argue that the kinds of masculinities which these populist movements represent are anathema to the vision of an equal and fair gendered world."

Dr Wadham said that universities needed to uphold research based traditions instead of the populist, partisan approach driven by some.

Men's Health Australia spokesman and Male Studies lecturer Greg Andresen is also the Australian correspondent for US-based site National Coalition For Men, which declares false rape accusations to be "psychological rape", argues that talking about violence against women makes men invisible.

Asked about his connection to NCFM, he said they were the longest-running organisation in the world to look at discrimination against men and boys.

"Certainly they don't shy away from touching issues like false rape allegations, domestic violence, some of those hot topics," he said.

"We have had 20 if not 30 or 40 years where the only study on gender has been from a feminist perspective … that's why I think this course is so long overdue," he said.

UniSA's Provost and Chief Academic Officer, Professor Allan Evans, said the courses covered important men's health issues and would equip allied health professionals who deal with men's health.

"All new courses are reviewed thoroughly prior to being offered to ensure they are suitable and beneficial to our students," he said.


Joe Hockey sets hard line on handouts

TAXPAYER subsidies will not be paid to struggling companies that fail to fix their problems under a hardline edict from Joe Hockey aimed at forcing employers and unions to scrap workplace deals that push up costs.

Rejecting aid for "lazy" companies, the Treasurer told The Australian that federal cash would not be used to shore up dividends or to continue poor industrial practices.

Mr Hockey seized on an admission from General Motors yesterday that its decision to end manufacturing in Australia was made regardless of government incentives, as the comments escalated a wider fight over industry assistance.

The Treasurer cited the company's statements to accuse Bill Shorten of perpetuating the "fantasy" that the Holden factories, due to close in 2017 with the loss of 2900 jobs, could have been kept alive by a Labor government.

As attention turns to Toyota as the last local carmaker, Mr Hockey also attacked union leaders for being "hell-bent" on preventing the company from slashing costs by negotiating a new workplace deal.

"The government should not be subsidising poor workplace practices," he said in an exclusive interview.

The new message applies to all companies ranging from Qantas to fruit producer SPC Ardmona as the Coalition government fends off industry demands for handouts or intervention to fix business problems.

Mr Hockey said there were "inevitably" cases where federal government funds went into a company only to be paid out on dividends or higher wage claims rather than used to repair the business.

"It is not the responsibility of taxpayers to prop up unprofitable companies," Mr Hockey said.

"It is not the responsibility of taxpayers to ensure that shareholders get dividends. If we are going to provide any support to any company, we want to do a complete due diligence on a company's balance sheet.

"That was never previously done by Labor. That applies to any company as far as I'm concerned."

Ministers have grown increasingly impatient with companies wanting assistance in recent months, making it clear that any executive seeking a subsidy can expect intense scrutiny as well as pressure to cut costs.

The stance is already having an impact, with SPC Ardmona sacking 73 maintenance staff in favour of non-union contractors soon after federal cabinet last month rejected the company's initial plea for $25 million. The request is going back to cabinet later this month.

Qantas has also drawn criticism for seeking a public guarantee over its private debts, with Coalition sources expressing their frustration that airline chief executive Alan Joyce was trying to transfer his problems to the government.

Mr Hockey put all companies on notice that they would have to throw open their books if they expected government aid.

"We need to go through their balance sheets with a fine-tooth comb to ensure that when there is a cheque from taxpayers it's going toward the restructuring of the company rather than just simply propping up shareholder returns," he said. "But that is a last resort. The starting point is we are not in the business of subsidising commerce."

The Treasurer's comments in an interview yesterday came after General Motors' head of international operations, Stefan Jacoby, said the closure of the Holden factories in 2017 would happen regardless of government incentives.

"I initiated this decision as the leader of these markets and it was driven purely by business rationale, and not by any direction this government or any future government would give for their auto industry in Australia," he said.

The GM executive told reporters at the Detroit motor show that the sums could not add up for the manufacturing operations, regardless of the level of public assistance. "The decision was not made based on any incentives or any reductions of incentives - it was a purely business-driven decision."

Mr Jacoby confirmed that the board decision was made in Detroit just hours after GMH boss Mike Devereux addressed a Melbourne public hearing on car assistance on December 10. That means the decision was made before Mr Hockey told federal parliament on the same day that GMH should "come clean" on its plans.

Labor has accused Mr Hockey of driving the carmaker out of the country and has claimed a Labor government would have offered the assistance needed to keep the Holden factories and their 2900 workers. "If Labor had been in government we would not have let this happen," Mr Shorten told parliament on December 12.

South Australian Labor Premier Jay Weatherill, who faces an election in March, had also condemned the federal government by claiming a package of incentives could have kept the factories going.

Christopher Pyne, the government's most senior South Australian minister, said the Premier stood condemned for blaming Canberra for the GM decision in a bid to help win this year's state election. "Jay Weatherill's election strategy is completely in tatters - it's basically a carcass swinging in the breeze," Mr Pyne said in Canberra yesterday. "Jay Weatherill had planned to run his whole election strategy around blaming the federal government for the economic woes in South Australia."

But the Premier rejected the claims from Mr Pyne and similar charges from South Australian Liberal opposition leader Steven Marshall. Mr Weatherill said he would continue to campaign against the Liberals' decision not to increase subsidies to the automotive sector in the lead up to the March 15 election.

Mr Hockey claimed that Mr Shorten was misleading voters with the "fantasy" that a Labor government would have been able to keep the Holden operations.

Mr Shorten told The Australian last night that it was not all the government's fault that Holden closed, but it was "entirely their fault" that they did not "lift a finger" to stop it. "Joe Hockey goaded Holden to close and take these jobs overseas and he got his wish," he said.

The Treasurer countered the idea that limitless subsidies could be used to keep a company in Australia. "At the end of the day you're effectively nationalising the company if the subsidies are so great that the only way it can continue is if it receives government support," he said.

The fight over industry assistance will intensify over coming months as Toyota prepares for a decision in the middle of the year on whether to continue local manufacturing, as Holden's closure puts "unprecedented pressure" on the economics of the operations.

Toyota lost an attempt to reach a new pay deal early last month when the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union won a case in the federal court to block the changes, prompting the company to appeal against the ruling.

While Mr Jacoby cast doubt on Toyota's ability to keep operating as the sole Australian car manufacturer, the government is expressing confidence in the company's focus on exports and attempts to cut workplace costs.

Mr Hockey said workers would have to agree to new workplace rules to prevent Toyota quitting the country.


Australia's economic freedom outranks US

One of America’s best known conservative think tanks has named Australia as the world’s third most free economy, outranking the US after the debut of Obamacare.

The Heritage Foundation’s 2014 Index of Economic Freedom  praised Australia’s low debt and “flexible” labour force. It found Australia’s freedom from corruption had slipped marginally, citing the Independent Commission of Corruption investigations in New South Wales Australia, but said that the rule of law remained strong.

“Australia’s judicial system operates independently and impartially. Property rights are secure, and enforcement of contracts is reliable. Expropriation is highly unusual,” said the report.

The report placed Australia after Singapore and Hong Kong. Australia was ranked third with a score of 82, just ahead New Zealand with a score of 81.2. The index, also published by the Wall Street Journal, found that America had slid from 10th place to 12th.

“Can you imagine if our Secretary of Defence announced that we were mostly strong, or kind of strong as a nation?” Heritage Foundation president Jim DeMint, a former Republican senator, said at the launch. “I don’t think we would sit still for that as a nation.”

In his keynote address in launching the index in Washington, DC, the Republican libertarian senator Rand Paul lamented the Affordable Healthcare Act in America as a “significant loss to freedom.”

The report evaluates countries on four broad areas of economic freedom: rule of law; regulatory efficiency; limited government; and open markets, and grants an aggregate score.

“Over the 20-year history of the Index, Australia has advanced its economic freedom score by 7.9 points, one of the 10 biggest improvements among developed economies,” says the report.

“Substantial score increases in six of the 10 economic freedoms, including business freedom, investment freedom, and freedom from corruption, have enabled Australia to achieve and sustain its economically 'free' status in the Index.”

.A Heritage Foundation analyst, Brian Riley, told Fairfax that while in the organisation’s view Labor’s stimulus package had been a negative, Australia’s bipartisan commitment to free trade and support for foreign investment as well as its relatively low tax rates, was enough to keep the nation’s score so high.

He said America had slipped in part because of increased regulation associated with the Affordable Healthcare Act.

The Heritage index is not without critics.

“In the hands of the Wall Street Journal and the Heritage Foundation, Washington's foremost right-wing think tank, however, an economic freedom index merely measures corporate and entrepreneurial freedom from accountability. Upon examination, the index turns out to be a poor barometer of either freedom more broadly construed or of prosperity,” wrote economist John Miller back in 2005.

“In other words, minimum-wage laws, environmental regulations, or requirements for transparency in corporate accounting make a country less free, whereas low business taxes, harsh debtor laws, and little or no regulation of occupational health and safety make a country more free.”

The Foundation noted that the Asia Pacific region was home to the world’s four freest economies, as well as three of its most repressed, Timor-Leste, Turkmenistan and North Korea


ABC doesn’t believe in Right to free speech

THE left, be they from the ALP or the ABC, oppose free speech when it is their ideology which is under scrutiny.

That’s why there was a sustained outbreak of clamorous opposition to Senator Cory Bernardi’s middle-of-the-road discussion of cultural values last week.

The South Australian Senator broke two of the rules laid down by the left - he asked why no discussion of abortion is permitted in Australia though there are anything from 70,000 to 100,000 abortions carried out in this country each year, according to evidence given in Senate estimates - and he questioned whether single-parent families are the golden standard for child rearing.

Under leftist dogma, abortion, or the more politically correct euphemism, termination, should only be discussed by women. Then, using the usual distortions of the language which have seen homosexuals insist that they be called gays and that the descriptive noun marriage be corrupted to include same sex unions, the so-called progressives say they are in favour of a pro-choice policy on abortion which means in fact that women are rarely presented with any options, in effect - no-choice.By breaking these taboos, Senator Bernardi aroused the slumberous feminist lobby, few of whom it would seem have actually read his book, The Conservative Revolution, which was published almost a month ago and has been reviewed in numerous forums.

Senator Bernardi does not hide behind weasel words.

He is so plain spoken that most of the commentators who have attacked him have revealed their ignorance of his writings or have taken his words totally out of context.

He believes in the battle of ideas and thinks it is important for politicians to stand up for what they believe in. Indeed, he believes it’s the right and responsibility of every member of the parliament to engage in the battle of ideas.

“It’s absolutely critical that politicians are prepared to discuss ideas that are controversial,” he told me.

“Otherwise we are stuck with a tyranny of political correctness. That’s a stifling doctrine we need to rebel against in this country - that’s the revolution I am calling for.”

The Senator understands that abortion is an emotive topic, he understands - as most people do - that it can cause enormous stress and anguish, but he is also concerned that one in five pregnancies in this country are being terminated and believes that should be a cause for concern and debate.

He has not said we should outlaw or prohibit abortion but that was certainly the insinuation made by his critics.

His position on abortion is exactly the same as that as that held by former US president Bill Clinton - that it “should not only be safe and legal, it should be rare”.

Last January, in his State of the Union address, President Barack Obama echoed president Clinton’s remarks saying: “Today and every day, my administration continues our efforts to reduce unintended pregnancies, support maternal and child health, and minimise the need for abortion.”

That view is also held by Prime Minister Tony Abbott, whom the members of the ALP and some commentators from the ABC have attempted to link to extreme anti-abortion views on numerous occasions when they attempt to drag his personal and private religious views into the political debate.

Senator Bernardi was also attacked by ABC breakfast presenter Beverley O’Connor for mentioning single-parent families in his book.

She framed her question: “The book really rails against non-traditional families; children within a gay relationship, children of marriage breakdowns. In 2014 now, this is a fact of life, this is not necessarily a fact that families want but it’s a fact of life isn’t it?”

In defence of traditional families, Senator Bernardi had written: “Why then the levels of criminality among boys and promiscuity among girls who are brought up in single-parent families, more often than not headed by a single mother?”

Had O’Connor wished to put the argument in an intelligent context, she might have noted that there was a footnote in the book which referenced a New York Time article on a Father’s Day address delivered by President Obama which said: “We know the statistics - that children who grow up without a father are five times more likely to live in poverty and commit crime, nine times more likely to drop out of schools and 20 times more likely to end up in prison. They are more likely to have behavioural problems, or run away from home, or become teenage parents themselves. And the foundation of our community is weaker because of it”.

O’Connor’s approach to the Bernardi book exemplifies the arrant hypocrisy taken by so many at the ABC when they are wittingly or subconsciously taking up the cudgels for the left and Labor against conservative figures.

They so obviously inject and infect their interviews and assaults with their own personal political prejudices.

While O’Connor may not like the mainstream moral compass which has served society well for millennia, she and other critics should note that on these issues, Senator Bernardi is actually in excellent company.


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