Saturday, May 14, 2011

Ellis massively unreconstructed

Bob Ellis and I are in disagreement. I usually have a lot of time for the old grouch with his loverly libertarian values and his delicious turns of phrase. But Mr Ellis, Bob, M*A*S*H, I Love Lucy and Hepburn-Tracey movies are not real life. They are not the appropriate paradigm for making a judgement about gender politics or ethics within the armed forces. They are in fact the very opposite of an analysis of these things in that they are creative products which deliberately treat some of the more fraught aspects of the human condition with humour and optimism.

Comments in your Drum article on the recent ADF Sex Scandal are really sloppy thinking. You seem to claim that because sexist behaviour has been a constant in society and the army, a female cadet who finds herself filmed in a private act of sex, who did not give her consent for that act to be broadcast and humiliatingly distributed and who is then further publicly embarrassed with an ill-timed unrelated disciplinary hearing should content herself with tearful phone call to Mum and then just get over it.

Perhaps it has escaped you, Bob, but we accord different levels of approbation to men and women when they are caught en flagrante. Whatever advances feminism may have made, a twenty something young woman stands to lose a whole lot more in terms of self respect, the respect of others, credibility, confidence, the ability to pursue her career (the list goes on) if she is at the centre of an event like this than do male footballers, cadets, entertainers and sundry 'larrikins'! It is not, to coin a cliche, a level playing field.

On this topic, your heart and mind are closed and your arguments are glib. Must try harder.

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