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.


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.)


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.

Peter Fray

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