tip off

Razer’s class warfare: Destroy the Joint’s useless crimson tide

Sending tampons to Scott Morrison is not going to help asylum seekers, but go right ahead if it makes you feel better.

tampon

Perhaps the kindest thing we can say of Immigration Minister Scott Morrison is that he is rarely seen.  But of the man’s policy shifts on asylum seekers, there are no pleasant words. It is challenging not to interpret some of the minister’s moves these past four months as cruelty through convolution.

Since September, we have seen funding cuts to a health advisory service, an end to immigration advice for maritime arrivals and peculiar policy that seems to seek to Turn Back Boats that arrived years ago.

A glance at Morrison’s policy shifts and amendments makes one long for the frivolity of Kafka. It is sufficiently exhausting just to read of the regulatory wobbly-castle into which asylum seekers are tossed; it seems improbable that anyone could live within a bureaucracy where application for residency, work or family reunion are bounced into oblivion.

It’s no wonder Australians should think to protest against what is destined to become a cruel and expensive mess.

The most visible action to date against Morrison has been by popular online klatch Destroy the Joint. Earlier this week, the group posted its suggestion to send the Immigration Minister items from the feminine hygiene aisle.

Destroy the Joint

A number of news articles have appeared locally and worldwide to describe the action, which seeks chiefly to draw attention to the everyday indignities women in detention centres reportedly bear.

Now, Morrison’s department flat-out denies the claim but advocacy group RISE (Refugee Survivors and Ex-detainees) cited two reports that women in need of sanitary items at Wickham Point were inconvenienced and humiliated.

tampons

Other groups such as the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre back these claims.

tampon tweet

The story that Destroy the Joint tells is that its campaign has been shared, liked and commended internationally for the beauty of its everyday gesture. Certainly, the bathroom poetry has caught the attention of press.

But the ultra, ultra feminine touch here could mute the broader conversation about asylum seekers, whose number include men.

Frankly, some of Morrison’s latest work seems barking mad. His regulatory gusto can only produce a chaos that will spill beyond the lives of asylum seekers and eventually onto the floor of his own department. Whatever your views on border protection, you probably agree that Morrison’s offices probably need to take a day off Thinking Up Mean Stuff.

Press releases by the ASRC detailing the current absurdity of protection visa policy don’t make international news; tampons streaked with red nail polish do.  But I suspect this menstruation semaphore is so extraordinarily intimate that it cannot signal beyond the range of its own embrace.

Which is to say, it probably feels good for those involved, and that is good.  But its effectiveness is doomed to the personal, emotional feminine sphere whose language it uses.

As we’re talking about “down there”, I feel able to mention that a female friend of mine had penetrative sex with a chap she met on holidays. Apparently, he looked just like Kramer.

(This latter detail does little to move a story already veering off its rails ahead. However, fans of Seinfeld deserve news of the kavorka whenever it arises.)

Kramer

My friend acquired a urinary tract infection (UTI) following the encounter with Cosmo. Being a modern girl, she disclosed news of this everyday ill on Facebook.

Deposit of E. coli in the female urethra is as inevitable a part of hetero-sex as crying and pouting, and it’s a risk only compounded by vacations. Ladies often hold their urine when travelling, and this also increases the risk of UTI.

What does not decrease the risk of UTI, however, is cranberry juice. A 2013 review by the US National Institute of Health found that the juice “cannot currently be recommended for the prevention of UTIs”.

Nonetheless, “lots of cranberry juice” was prescribed with a confidence and frequency that all but dissuaded my friend from seeing a doctor.  Antibiotics were needed before the infection went to her kidneys, but she was quite nearly swayed by the advice to rely for her renal survival on soft drink.

Two aisles down from tampons, cranberry juice is a sweet, simple canard.

It’s a nice thing for women to talk about, but it’s not going to stop the infection.

12
  • 1
    Percy Pigeon
    Posted Thursday, 9 January 2014 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

    Regarding cranberry juice and UTIs: yes, I totally agree. Just because some people don’t know how to use medical information (ie. incapable of critical thinking and doing their own research), we shouldn’t have access to medical information at all! Best thing really.

    Even for people who don’t teach medical school, it isn’t that hard to find credible health information indicating that cranberry juice is recommended as a UTI preventative, not a cure.

    http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000521.htm

    And still cranberry juice ends up on this page demonized as ‘a sweet, simple canard’ which cannot be taken seriously due to it’s proximity to things particularly feminine. If the magnificent Helen can make this mistake, what hope for the rest of us silly ladies?

    Which brings us to the most important point: Women! You’re doing your activism wrong!

    When agitating for justice and dignity for refugees in detention, there will be a time when we can not only out ourselves as women activists, but when we can also draw attention to those indignities only suffered by not-men.

    Helen will let us all know when that is.

    Because special-girl women-despising female individualists are the thought leaders the rest of us women should be paying the most attention to. Rock on Helen!

  • 2
    Lulu
    Posted Thursday, 9 January 2014 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

    Another ‘you’re not doing it right’ to the left from Helen Razer. Please don’t. Attack the problem, not the people who want to make it better.

  • 3
    SusieQ
    Posted Thursday, 9 January 2014 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

    Lulu, I agree with you wholeheartedly, well said.

  • 4
    Grumpy Old Sod
    Posted Thursday, 9 January 2014 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

    At least we can call Morrison the minister for sanitary products. It’s the only thing sanitary about the man.

  • 5
    klewso
    Posted Thursday, 9 January 2014 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

    Ruddock, Vanstone, Andrews, now Morrison - this sort of ministerial oversight has become a Coal-ition tradition?

  • 6
    Shakespeare
    Posted Thursday, 9 January 2014 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

    So the protest is useless because it addresses an issue only women could care about, and harmful because it might “mute the broader conversation about asylum seekers, whose number include men.” ?
    Obviously importance is is a quality that can only be bestowed by men! Likewise, if men aren’t affected, it is just a distraction and doesn’t matter.
    Shame on you for such sexist thinking, Helen. And double shame for your illogic. According to this reasoning, any protest on any issue is at fault because it isn’t protesting on every other issue. if you cant see the fallicy in that, you really ought to stay away from the keyboard.

  • 7
    Tom Jones
    Posted Thursday, 9 January 2014 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

    But the ultra, ultra feminine touch here could mute the broader conversation about asylum seekers, whose number include men.”

    This is a completely ridiculous statement from Ms Razer. In fact highlighting this kind of ritual humiliation of women turns the volume up for everybody, male asylum seekers included. And sometimes women’s particular trials deserve their very own protest. I am sure that Mr Morrison will be made uncomfortable by the protest which is far more effective than ignoring this matter altogether.

  • 8
    Western Red
    Posted Thursday, 9 January 2014 at 5:08 pm | Permalink

    Ooh, the Razer’s Edge - blunt, sharp at times, but, oh, God, who gives a shit.
    Given the point was for Destroy the Joint to publicise the plight of the refugees, Razer’s wilted word salad is surely evidence of their success.

  • 9
    poopp boo
    Posted Thursday, 9 January 2014 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

    The protest is not useless, but it is a shortcut - sending tampons is easy. Mounting a systematic opposition to the human rights violations our government is committing against asylum seekers is altogether too hard. Tampons for everyone! Then send ‘em home.

  • 10
    Barking
    Posted Thursday, 9 January 2014 at 6:24 pm | Permalink

    Something very close to wholesale criminal barbarity is being perpetrated in the name of our nation by this vile government. Part of that is obscene neglect for the wellbeing of women qua women in asylum-seeker detention camps. Some express their outrage by despatching feminine sanitary products to the government to protest the plight of these women; others respond by telegraphing that our national interests (and not just womens’ interests) are at stake here, and Razer’s one of the latter. Vehemently exclaiming the personal is political doesn’t make it so. Even crowdsourcing a postal mob doesn’t make it so. The political is bigger. It’s about national identity, not your back-patting collective personal feel-good identities. At least, I think that’s what Helen’s saying.

  • 11
    BookishMisfit
    Posted Friday, 10 January 2014 at 8:06 am | Permalink

    Cranberry juice tastes vile and is often full of sugar. Drinking it will certainly not cure a UTI or cystitis. By the time you have an infection you need antibiotics.

    However, taking a supplement which includes some cranberry extract (such as Fusion’s “Cystitis”) definitely helps PREVENT UTIs and the like for people at risk of recurrent infections. Some of us have physical conditions which leave us at risk and preventative methods are essential. Some of us have to use catheters to pee, for example. We possibly know our own bodies and conditions well enough to know what works.

    Why on earth you are including such advice in an article on feminism and asylum seekers perplexes me to be honest.

    To get to the original point, I think the tampon campaign does ridicule Morrison’s approach and highlights the terrible humiliation of female asylum seekers. Many Australians don’t know that level of detail. It is appalling that this should be happening.

    Such direct action occurs because people often feel really helpless and want to do something. I remember feeling the same sort of helplessness when I heard many years ago that long term women psychiatric patients did not have even the most basic health items we take for granted. We used to take supplies in to Royal Park and Mont Park.

    To deny women such things is dehumanising and there is no excuse for it in out supposedly civil society.

  • 12
    Catherine Scott
    Posted Friday, 10 January 2014 at 9:11 am | Permalink

    Kind of missing the point. Amnesty draws on the Quaker tradition of bearing witness. When you see bad stuff happen you must call it. Sending tampons the right dishonourable Mr Cruel is bearing witness to the degraded viciousness he encourages.

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