The Big Issue : Edition 454
THEBIGISSUE21MAR--3APR2014 29 culture police Fiona Scott-Norman But then, despite having only one woman in the federal cabinet, the Liberal Party continue to argue that they are pro-women and that the glass ceiling has been smashed. Topsy-turvy world. This doublespeak terrain is well-trodden ground, from the pens of Kafka, George Orwell, Lewis Carroll, Aldous Huxley, Margaret Atwood and Anna Funder. A while back, an old friend, Lauren, was a heroin addict. Our small group stuck by her, encouraging her into rehab. This was, frankly, like trying to get a cat to take a bath. Good times. She barefaced stole from me three times. Once, she took my wallet, and it "turned up", empty, in a storm drain near her house where "I must have dropped it". Another time, Loz came to a small party at my place, took my wallet and later searched her 11-year-old son's room for it while talking to me on the phone, because "he probably took it". The third time, I caught her going through my coin jar. She said she was making change for the tram. Every dealing with her was like falling down the rabbit hole; reality shimmered, nothing made sense. Years later, when Narcotics Anonymous and Jesus fnally got her clean, Loz admitted the thefts among other misdemeanours -- and added that even if someone caught her with a needle hanging out of her arm, she'd deny it. "Always. To their face. No matter the evidence. Didn't matter." She told me a joke, which made both of us roar: What's the difference between an alcoholic and a junkie? They'll both steal your wallet, but the junkie will help you look for it. Now, I'm not inferring that drug-use is rife in federal politics. But it's disorienting to be told that black is white. That the humane solution to the asylum-seeker issue is to crush the ones who get here. That wire to the node is as good as the NBN. That Gina Rinehart has a point about welfare recipients, and not an empathy bypass. Every time I listen to the news, reality shimmers. Another page turns, and I have a powerful urge to count the gold coins in my change jar. ILLUSTRATION BY GREG BAKES; ORIGINAL PHOTOGRAPH BY MILES STANDISH WHEN POLITICIANS START USING DOUBLESPEAK AND THE WORLD FEELS TOPSY-TURVY, THINGS MAY WELL BE FALLING DOWN THE RABBIT HOLE. Malice in Wonderland For virtually more FSN, visit fonascottnorman.com.au or follow her on Twitter @FScottNorman. THESE DAYS, I'VE got an uneasy relationship with the news. I want to stay abreast -- as Benny Hill used to say, extending both his hands in a squeezing motion. But now that every bulletin broadcasts a fresh dismantling of human and environmental rights, my enthusiasm for current affairs is waning. Manus Island! Dumping dredge spoil inside the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park! Every morning it seems as if another newspaper page turns into our very own Franz Kafka novel. I can't even take refuge in sport, despite it being the tantalisingly 'hopeful' part of the AFL season -- when any team (yes, even yours) could win. After a couple of decades barracking for the scandal-wracked St Kilda club, I fnally drew the line last year when one of their players reportedly set fre to a dwarf entertainer at their end-of-season party. There is not a universe in which that is okay. But, then, I'm in a universe where it's considered logical to strip thousands of hectares of forest of its World Heritage listing -- a key component of the Tasmanian Forest Agreement -- and declare that people who cut down trees are 'the ultimate conservationists'. Where we have a male Prime Minister who oversees women's issues. And look, men are great. I'm all for them. Some of my best friends etc etc... But come on! Even putting aside the PM's documented views on sex (the right for women to absolutely withhold should be moderated), abortion (some women choose it as a convenient option) and ironing (go for it girls), it's worth examining a comment Tony Abbott made in a student newspaper while at uni. Yes, I am fully conscious we all said stupid things at university. In retrospect, I was a blithering twat. AND YET... "I think it would be folly to expect that women will ever dominate or even approach equal representation in a large number of areas simply because their aptitudes, abilities and interests are different for physiological reasons." Yes, good, fne, facepalm. But if we take that sentiment at face value, and use it as a guideline -- like cave divers groping our way to the surface out of a pitiless subterranean gloom -- is it at all possible to infer that you might be physiologically disqualifed from being in charge of a women’s issues portfolio by having, you know, a penis?