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Posts Tagged ‘discrimination’

… or is anyone else slightly frustrated by the assumptions which are just absolutely loaded into Panasonic’s current catchphrase, which is “The smartest guys in the room”?

I know, I know, there are assumptions loaded into every statement, but these ones really get my goat. In particular, the following assumptions:

– Panasonic’s stuff was conceived/designed/built/sold/etc by men.
– Men are the default person/there are only men in the room/the only people in the room that matter are men/men are smarter than women anyway so one only needs to talk about the smartest men to get the message across.

*sigh*

(And yes, I know that “guys” can be used to equal “people” in some contexts – I myself use “hey guys” as a generic greeting sometimes, although with less frequency than I once did. However, the use of “guy” when talking about “a guy” or “the guy” (or the plurals thereof) is generally used to refer to men – I’d say almost exclusively so.)

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An article in the Sydney Morning Herald today states that a healthy diet will cost a “typical” welfare-dependent family of four approximately 40% of their average income.

This, presumably, is a bad thing, because 40% is a significant proportion. A large chunk of the rest would probably be covering your accommodation. You’re not left with a whole lot more.

There’s not really a lot of analysis about what this means for how less-well-off families might make decisions about purchasing food. Nothing about how the cost of a healthy diet might be reduced.

There is, however, this statement at the end of the article:

The convener of the food and nutrition special interest group of the Public Health Association, Andrea Begley, said she supported a food tax and subsidies for lower-income families, particularly given rising obesity rates among lower socio-economic groups.

Because the solution to high cost of healthy food is to make the other food options even more expensive, in a paternalistic example of social manipulation?

I’m all for assisting people to eat a healthier diet if that’s what they want to do, especially if what’s stopping them is the high cost. So subsidies might be good. However, I’m not in favour of this kind of paternalistic “let’s force them to spend nearly half their income on the food we think they should be eating” attitude. That implies a certain level of judgmentalism, and I’m seriously not in favour of that!

(Oh, and gotta love how they throw in the OBESITY EPIDEMIC BOOGA BOOGA BOOGA at the end.)

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You might have heard the name Kurt Fearnley. He’s an Australian Paralympic athlete (marathon) who recently took on the Kokoda Track. He usually uses a wheelchair. The Kokoda Track is hardly wheelchair accessible. Fearnley walked on his arms.

Fearnley took a Jetstar flight on his way home, and staff insisted that he check in his wheelchair and use an airline-supplied one. Fearnley refused to accept the alternative wheelchair, and instead, used his arms to move himself around the airport.

His reasoning? From the ABC piece linked above:

“An able-bodied equivalent, a normal person’s equivalent would be having your legs tied together, your pants pulled down and be carried or pushed through an airport.”

I am entirely prepared to accept his assessment that using the airline-supplied wheelchair would be a humiliating experience which would have robbed him of his mobility and independence. I have two reasons why I’m prepared to accept it. First, and most importantly, it’s Fearnley’s own account of his experience. To deny it would be to deny that he felt that way, and I’m simply not in a position to do that. Can’t imagine anyone is, quite frankly. Secondly, and much LESS importantly, it actually makes a hell of a lot of sense from an objective perspective that, yes, having someone remove your mobility aid would be humiliating and would rob you of your mobility and independence.

Fortunately, the general atmosphere is one of accepting Fearnley’s experience, and Jetstar has apparently apologised. The ABC article quotes Bill Shorten, and an SMH article quotes Joe Hockey as well as Shorten, and both seem outraged that Jetstar treated Fearnley in this matter.* It’s great that there’s bipartisan recognition that treating people who use wheelchairs like shit is a Bad Thing.

It also allows us to focus on the details of how that acknowledgement is made, in some of which there is Fail.

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The title of this post says it all. See the SMH’s article for more detail. (By the way, SMH, I fixed that passive-voiced headline for you!)

Look, I’m not pissed off that the Catholic school has suspended the student for shaving her head as a fundraiser for cancer. I’m pissed off that the Catholic school has suspended the student for shaving her head. The school is, essentially, discriminating against her on the basis that she is now not expressing gender “correctly”, in their eyes. That’s basically what “dress code policy” means.

I should add that I’m not making any assumptions or implications about the gender that the student intends to express – I’m pointing out that the school is.

The fact that she’s done it for a good cause just adds a layer of hypocrisy to the stupidity of the Catholic school’s actions. (It also makes it a bit more of a freedom of expression aspect, in the sense of political expression.)

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There is a homeless guy who sits outside my building every morning. He says g’day to the people he recognises. I always say good morning. I’ve noticed other people sometimes stop to chat at length. He begs. Lately, he’s been getting a bit more insistent on the begging front. I hope he’s doing ok.

This morning, after walking into the building, I got into the lift with an older man who I’ve seen quite a number of times around the building, but who I don’t actually know.

He turned to me, his eyes wide with horror and disgust. “Did you know that man out the front is a drug addict? He doesn’t have schizophrenia or anything … he injects drugs, methadone or something … I’ve just been to the pharmacist and they told me!”

Now, leaving aside the patient confidentiality issues with the pharmacist giving out that kind of information (and I am going to go and have a yell at the pharmacist later about that!), (1) methadone is not injected [ETA: well, I got that wrong – see Robbo’s comment below] (and if he’s on methadone, he doesn’t need money for it and also, it suggests he’s “doing something” about his “problem”, which is what I assume people like my interlocutor want to happen); and (2) poor mental health, homelessness and drug use often go hand in hand. Oh, and (3) who the fuck are we to judge?

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This seems like good news to me:

Professor Cousins, the director of the Pain Management Research Institute at the University of Sydney and Royal North Shore Hospital, has led a national draft strategy to have pain management addressed as part of the Federal Government’s national health reforms.

This doesn’t mean the government will actually do anything, but it is great to see a real possibility that chronic pain may be recognised as a condition in its own right. It seems to me that that would mean: (1) greater likelihood of a doctor listening to someone who is suffering chronic pain; (2) greater likelihood of a doctor knowing what options can and should be offered to that person; (3) greater likelihood that others with whom that person interacts (eg an employer) will understand that a person’s chronic pain is a real and serious problem and not “just” in the person’s “mind”. (Although a better way to deal with #3 would be to recognise that something which is “just” in a person’s “mind” – note scare quotes – is often a real and serious condition anyway!)

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Wow! Another person in authority espousing another radical* notion! That’s two this week!

As per the following extract from an article in The Australian:

Mr Combet, a former ACTU national secretary, told parliament yesterday the Defence Science and Technology Organisation would develop a new set of physical employment standards for the army that would accurately measure a person’s ability to perform the broad variety of jobs in the modern defence force. “A priority of the government is to improve the recruitment and retention of women in the ADF,” he said. “My own view is that all categories should be open to women. The only exceptions should be where the physical demands cannot be met according to criteria that are determined on the basis of scientific analysis, rather than assumptions about gender.”

So in other words: let’s look at what the job actually requires, rather than the gender marker on your driver’s licence (or other form of identification).**

* Yes, that’s sarcasm again.

** Trying to work out how to say this in a cis/trans neutral way made me realise: I have no idea what the ADF’s stance is on permitting trans people (men or women) – or intersex people – to do the various jobs women (in general) are not permitted to do. Now that could make for an interesting case!

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(Not that I’m saying the NSW Government has proved it should stay in government, mind you!)

Anyway, the SMH this morning has reported that the NSW Opposition spokesman on legal affairs, Greg Smith, apparently thinks that people with disabilities are dangerous.

Talk about epic fail!

I actually think that Hatzistergos gets this pretty much right:

“The comments made by the shadow attorney-general in Parliament on this issue are outrageous and serve to demonise people with disabilities and mental illness,” Mr Hatzistergos said. “They also underline his complete lack of understanding of the challenges faced by these vulnerable members of the community as they go about their daily lives.”

So yes, he’s milking it for all it’s worth, politically-speaking. But I’ve got to say, I don’t think I want Greg Smith anywhere near any responsibility for policy relating to people with disabilities!

(Oh, and kudos to Hatzistergos for using “people first” language there, too. I don’t agree with a lot of what he says, but he seems to be an astute politician. And while he is very much against any sort of Charter of Rights, many of the public events that I’ve seen him at have been human rights events. Which I take to say more about his astuteness as a politician than his own personal stance on human rights, but I think it’s not a bad thing at all that the NSW AG shows his face at human rights events on a regular basis.)

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