Australia – where your cleavage is your greatest political asset

Guest post by Jo Nakashima. Submitted to TurnLeft, thank you Jo

If the Right in this country does something stupid, is it a sign of maturity for the Left to descend into even deeper stupidity? Both sides are as a bad each other when it comes to Stunts. The Left like to laugh at “Stuntboy” Abbott and his playing dress ups, but is the Left really any better?

My disillusionment with the Left is all about the supporters, not the policies. I still believe in the policies and goals of the Left, the “fair go” and public community, yet I cannot in all good conscience continue to promote the “activists” and so-called “supporters” of the Left who are really about promoting themselves, than any ideals.

The one pervading evil of democracy is the tyranny of the majority, or rather of that party, not always the majority, that succeeds, by force or fraud, in carrying elections.
Lord Acton, The History of Freedom and Other Essays, Section III: Sir Erskine May’s Democracy in Europe, p. 76.

What we have witnessed in Australia over the past month or so has heightened “democracy” to the truly absurd. We have not become a nation of what is fair, justice, sane, logical – we have become a nation of “whichever idiot shouts the loudest wins”.

We have become a nation that is so wealthy and prosperous that while other nations are have mass demonstrations for health care and public parks, we have reduced participation in democracy to the colour of ties, selfies of our cleavage and paying for Murdoch’s Foxtel in order to “know your enemy” and complain about creeping Murdocracy.

The week before the “convoy of cleavage”, feminists, women, Left wing men, sane thinking Liberals pointed out the misogyny of That Menu, when a Queensland restaurateur put the Prime Minister’s body parts on the menu “Julia Gillard Kentucky Fried Quail – small breasts, huge thighs and a big red ***”.

A few days after the furor of That Menu died down, women were encouraged to send photos of their cleavage to a website in support of the Prime Minister following a comment from WorkChoices activist Grace Collier “I don’t think it’s appropriate for a Prime Minister to be showing her cleavage in Parliament”. It was the Convoy Of Cleavage.

What about my friend who had a double mastectomy, is a photo of her scars a feminist statement of solidarity? What about my friend who had breast cancer but kept her breasts, who regards her breasts as a ticking time bomb? What about my friend who is double-G, who has been sexually harassed, groped and commented on since she was 13, and endures constant back, neck and shoulder pain, a photo of her cleavage is not a symbol of freedom, to her it represents suffering.

I saw the celebrations on social media “our convoy of cleavage made Huffington post, yah” and “our convoy of cleavage made the Daily Mail in the UK, we are world-wide”. The Daily Mail is a tabloid, and most likely the political reasons behind all the cleavage kind of got lost, especially, when there complaints that the Australian medias reaction to the Convoy Of Cleavage was to post a selection of photos on Page 3.

Hey ladies, you want to be a feminist activist? Send a picture of your cleavage to a website, congratulations, you are now an activist and a feminist. Just hope and wish really, really hard that some loser out there isn’t keeping a copy of the photo.

Hey sister, sorry, I can’t sign your petition, attend your fundraiser, paint your placard, or join your street march, I’m too busy taking a photo of my cleavage, but it’s okay, it’s all a feminist statement of support for the Prime Minister. I’m sure the people looking at these pictures, especially on Daily Mail, and Huffington Post websites will understand completely the context in which it is intended.

Should I write a thoroughly researched blog post on sexism and misogyny of Tony Abbott and the Liberal party and why a vote for Tony Abbott’s Liberals is a step back for women in this country? Or should I take a photo of my cleavage?

Should I join a group such as Emily’s List, and raise funds, make phone calls, organise events with famous feminists? Or should I take a photo of my cleavage?

Should I organise a fundraising event for a female candidate who supports pro-choice and women’s rights? Or should I take a photo of my cleavage?

Should I organise an evening in celebration of women’s right to vote, and right to stand for Parliament, complete with speeches and songs and sparkling wine and nibbles and goodie bags? Or should I take a photo of my cleavage?

Should I advocate for harsher parole conditions for men who rape and murder women than the current system that allows rapists and murderers parole enabling them to do it all over again to someone else? Or should I take a photo of my cleavage?

But if I do take a photo of my cleavage, you have to view it from a standpoint of solidarity with the Prime Minister against the slings and arrows of the Right wing who spend countless hours criticising the Prime Minister’s appearance as a substitute for giving Australia their Right wing policies.

If I do take a photo of my cleavage, you cannot view it as sexual or in any way objectify women by reducing them to a body part, you have to view it a feminist statement.

Qu’est-ce que c’est?

Should I take a photo of my booty too? After all, Germaine Greer did say “You’ve got a big arse, Julia, just get on with it”. The booty of consequence?

It seems like only a few months ago, women across Australia were protesting against Channel 7’s Kochie and his statements about nursing mothers should be more “discreet” (January 2013), and breast-feeding mothers were gathered outside the studies for Kochie’s breakfast show in protest.

It would appear my greatest contribution to political discourse and protest in this country involves my breasts.

The Prime Minister was also wearing a black outfit in the photo used to illustrate Colliers’ comment about “cleavage in Parliament”, would wearing black, something men and women could do, have been an acceptable sign of solidarity?

Alex Hawke, Liberal MP NSW tweeted on 18 June “It’s Blue Tie Day, supporting political & intellectual freedom and not judging people by their tie colour #qt“.

Really? Everybody dressing the same is intellectual freedom? Just as well they all intellectually used their freedom of thought to all decided to do exactly the same thing as each. It is stupid, childish and trivial when there are so many other more important things going on the country.

    Work makes free
    War is peace
    Ignorance is strength
    Everyone doing exactly what Tony does is intellectual freedom.

If Tony says jump, do Liberal MPs raise their arms and say “hey, I’ll do that, high? this high?”

Every media commentator and churnalist, who then pointed out whenever a Labor party member was wearing a blue tie, brought this issue into the “even more stupid than before” category. They obsessed with tie colours because it is easier to talk about who is wearing what than the policies of the Liberal party (easier because the Liberal party have 3-word slogans, not policies, and it takes a lot of media spin to make it sound plausible).

If Liberal party men wearing blue ties and Liberal party women wearing blue scarfs in reaction to a fleeting mention of “blue ties” in a speech from the Prime Minister is childish, then how is this a serious political statement?

Imagine a 45-year-old Right wing internet troll, living in his mothers’ spare bedroom and spending all his after work hours trawling the web collecting images of women’s cleaving and compiling them into one website named “Breasts Of The Left” – is that not a show of solidarity with the Prime Minister?

This is what Australian politics has become. As the street graffiti once said “Stop The World – I Want To Get Off”.

On the other hand, maybe I can’t string two sentences together. Maybe I am incapable of organising anything, or baking lamingtons for a fundraiser or tweeting links to the right Facebook groups, maybe just maybe my greatest contribution really is a picture of my cleavage.

So, here it is, a picture of my cleavage. For every $25 donation to Emily’s List, I will unveil another piece. If I’m going to show my cleavage to empower the women on the Left, I can’t think of anything more empowering than a financial donation.

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12 Comments to “Australia – where your cleavage is your greatest political asset”

  1. Really. Your contemptuous scorn for the convoy is far more divisive than we could ever have been. Your implication that a cleavage photo is the only contribution I have or ever will make is ignorant, spiteful and nasty. I started the convoy. I made it explicit that this was a frivolity and I did not expect it to achieve anything. We had fun. It was a moment. We were amazed that it was picked up internationally.

    Just a few weeks ago I saw a brilliant Australian Story about a woman who’d had a double mastectomy. My best friend had one two days ago. Why are you conflating the two issues? You do no woman any favours doing that.

    This kind of action has never been taken in Australian politics before, so it is hardly a theme detracting from other actions, and it never will become that.

    I am at loss to understand your apparent belief that one shot of my cleavage in some way invalidates my doctorate, my very active political blog, & all the many many other writings on a huge variety of topics I’ve published in my life. Yes, I can use my brain and laugh about cleavage at the same time. I am woman. I am multi dimensional Hear me roar.

    • As far as I can see, youve never once visited this blog to leave a comment, therefore, I conclude, either
      a) this blog is of no consequence, or
      b) this blog has been irrelevant to you in the past, almost 700 posts, and you have had no opinion on any of them.

      I conclude, if all other 690 posts mean so little to you that you have never commented, the opinion of this writer should be just as meaningless. Why should you care about this one opinion, when you have never cared before? And if you have never cared before, why should I care about your opinion now??


      You used the word “cruel” not me.

      And as for divisive – what kind of support for women are you offering when everyone has to have exactly the same opinion of you or risk being called a traitor to their gender? There is a word for a system where people are encouraged to think the same as each other, if feminism or womanism is in your mind fascism, then Im so pleased you disagree with me
      Jo

      • You are angry because I don’t comment on your blog? When did you last comment on mine? Bwahahahaha!

        Your last paragraph is impossible to address, based as it is on several false premises about my thinking and politics.

        It’s a great shame you couldn’t have talked to me about convoy before writing your judgemental and anti feminist slurs. We might have had a decent conversation, but hell, that isn’t as much fun I guess.

      • Heil
        now that you have had your hysterical little foot stamping rant, go pretend this post is like the other 690 that you have ignored – irrelevant to you
        Jo

  2. The Left is a broad “church”. I welcome its diversity of both opinion and commenting strategy. I’m actually all for people getting together in whatever mix of agreeing and disagreeing groups they choose, to respond, in whatever way they prefer, to address the topics they feel need commenting on.

    I think humour, along with gentle sarcasm and ridicule, are perfectly valid and effective ways of making a point. Sure, there is an argument that this is “not to be taken lightly” and that there are often dark underlying issues that need to be addressed. There will be those who will take that angle and handle the issue seriously and good on them. But please let’s not become as insecurely self-important and aggressively defensive as the Right – their humour is of the nasty, Pickering sort, not the gentle Leunig type I prefer.

    I love the quick-witted reaction to objectionable content, the spontaneous creation, dissemination and uptake of the latest “meme” – the imitation of the style of the target, but especially the fact that finally, many many people can each have their own say – or RT someone elses point that they agree with. It’s messy, you are unlikely to agree with each and every response, but the overall conversation is rich, vibrant and rewarding.

    • You think encouraging women to send selfies of their cleavage is funny? The organisers sure better hope no one under 16 sent in photos, and will organisers take responsibility if those photos end up on some perv’s website? I think Tony Abbott is dickless, perhaps the men of the Left can send in pictures of their dicks to prove they’re not Tony Abbott disciples, is that funny to you, too?
      Jo

      • Nobody – certainly not the “organisers”, and to the best of my knowledge, none of the participants – ever pretended the #convoyofcleavage was a serious campaign of “feminist activism”, or anything serious at all. It originated in some lighthearted twitter banter, which led to a blog post by No Place for Sheep in which she writes “Yes, this exercise is entirely frivolous and will achieve nothing”. This seems pretty clear to me. If other people decide it was an Act Of Feminism, and failed to meet some unpublished standard for such, then that’s their problem.

        In the past, I’ve posted to twitter pics of my dog, my kids, my kids’ dinner, the sunrise, my husband building a shed and countless other pieces of my life. Oddly, no-one has ever shot me down in flames for such destructive waste of my time and intellectual capacity. Why? Probably because they realise it took me all of two minutes and there’s a good chance I did other things with my day. Many more resources have been spent criticizing the convoy of cleavage than were ever devoted to its creation.

        Honestly, if the biggest objection to the convoy of cleavage is that it was silly, trivial and ineffective, that it failed to make an Important Point, then why is anybody ever on twitter? Oh wait, maybe just because its fun?

      • As you say, no one has ever shot you down in flames, so you take this opportunity to do just that to someone else, whose opinion you disagree with, someone who has never contacted you. Congratulations.
        Jo

      • In your pseudo academic diatribe …..

      • Heil
        Ich hoffe, Sie haben nichts dagegen, wenn ich auf Deutsch antworten. Faschismus ist, was Sie befürworten, nicht wahr?
        Jeder denkt das Gleiche, oder lehnen Sie sich zurück und beobachten Sie den Missbrauch
        hereinströmen.
        Fühlen Sie sich jetzt besser? Hat missbrauchen linken Flügel mit einem weiblichen, der eine Meinung Sie nicht einverstanden sind mit Stimmen, zählt das als Einheit von der linken oder Unterstützung der Vielfalt der feministischen Meinungen.

        Ihr Kommentar wurde geschwärzt, weil auf solchen Missbrauch posten nicht zur Diskussion hinzufügen. Ihr Kommentar, dass es “erzatz akademisch” ist ein Witz, es ist nicht “erzatz” nichts, es ist eine Meinung, und Ihr Kommentar ist ein “Pseudo wichsen”, und wie bei “Tirade”, bedeutet das nur für Stellungnahmen Menschen, die Sie nicht einverstanden sind mit, lieben die Freiheit widerstandsfähig Mehrzahl der Linken
        heil
        Jo

  3. I think my greatest asset is my brain-I abhor simplifying debate to a catalogue of body parts- male or female..
    Personally I though the cleavage idea was simply another example of instant reaction without much thought. Of course it drew attention but was it the right sort of attention? I think not.

    • Agree, I think my greatest asset is my brain. We criticise the Right for putting body parts on the menu, then reduce ourselves to body parts. Thank you for this comment.
      Jo for Turn Left

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