Tasmanian Times

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. No price is too high for the privilege of owning yourself. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. No price is too high for the privilege of owning yourself. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

Bronwyn Williams

Van Badham … Desperate to be relevant … ?

First published August 8

On 27 and 28 July a group of people met at RMIT Melbourne to attend the Australian Summit Against Sexual Exploitation (ASASE) – http://www.asase.com.au/further-details. Without exception, the speakers and attendees at the gathering are persons – academics, activists and social workers – dedicated to ending the sexual exploitation of women and girls, and the untold harms it causes.

Outside the venue, on the afternoon of the second day of the conference, was a loosely organised ‘queer street party’, advertised on Facebook as ‘Protest ASASE’ – https://www.facebook.com/events/285614115321860/?active_tab=about. Those involved in the summit were politely referred to as ‘TERF and SWERF scum’ and exhorted to ‘FUCK OFF’ by the party/protest organisers.

And, actively and vocally supporting the protest was none other than Ms Van Badham – darling of the neo-liberal Labor left, and a person with a self-confessed ‘predilection for arguing with ABSOLUTELY EVERYBODY’.

Ms Badham promoted the ‘party’ on her various media platforms (seriously, how much social media presence does one person need, Vanessa?), as follows –

• Twitter @vanbadham July 26
‘Protest against terrible people gathering in Melbourne this Saturday in your most fun outfit, and show solidarity to the unfairly stigmatised through the medium of boogie.
MORE DEMOS LIKE THIS, PLEASE!
(And share, share, share)’
• Twitter @vanbadham July 26
‘BOOOOOO to this.
Some truly awful fauxminists and aspiring Christian gender police are attending a self-appointed-moral-saviours conference in Melbourne this weekend.
Allies & grownups will be protesting outside throwing a fun party!
PLEASE SHARE!’
• Facebook – Vanessa Elizabeth (Ms Badham’s given names) – July 23
‘Yo, Melbourne comrades and fellow travellers,
The WORST People in the World (Official) are gathering in Melbourne this Saturday in order to be as unpleasant as possible, en masse. Yep, every far right nutjob for MILES AROUND will hold hands with modern feminism’s most profound disappointments to validate one another’s personal and weird issues with sexworkers and trans people. It breaks my heart.
What brings me joy, however, is that a coalition of feminists and freedom fighters are protesting these dodos in my favourite way possible: BY HAVING A MASSIVE FUN STREET PARTY. Allies and accomplices committed to inclusion are welcome to dress in their most fun outfit, to dance and groove away the hate, and maybe underline the message that:
– sexworker rights are human rights
– trans right are human rights
– crazy haters, shut up, just shut up
Details are below. And if you can’t make it, please use your platform to remind the world that NOT BEING AN ASSHOLE is a majority opinion, especially in Melbourne, and these people really need to get back on the train to Fuckofftown.’

So, what motivates a fortyish Gen Y ‘journalist’, with a fair grasp of the English language and its peculiarities (you probably demonstrate better spelling, punctuation and grammar than most of your generation, so kudos for that, Vanessa) to indulge in the sort of ghastly, unsubstantiated, expletive-ridden take down of others we expect to see from teenage ‘mean girls’?

Is it a need to be seen as a relevant part of the dominant political and social discourse? To be totally on board with the latest PC trends? To be a ‘social media influencer’ with oodles of like-minded followers?

I’m guessing ‘yes’, ‘yes’ and ‘yes’.

But maybe Ms Badham should think about this:

Despite your rambunctious, unquestioning support for the sex trade lobby and the trans rights movement, today’s society isn’t one giant rainbow party for women.

There are an estimated 40-42 million people in prostitution worldwide and around 80 per cent of them are women (https://prostitution.procon.org/view.answers.php?questionID=0000095). An even greater majority of those buying sex are men. The average age of entry into prostitution is 13 to 14 years. Most are there because they are trafficked and/or they have no other way of supporting themselves, their children and their families. It is not a ‘choice’ in the way women like you understand the word, it’s a grave, humiliating and dangerous invasion of their personal integrity. It’s as far from a choice as anything could possibly be.

And, a very vocal, well-organised trans activist movement has so far secured the passage of laws in a number of jurisdictions around the world that prevent women from gathering together in safety and security, and they want more. They want to become legally female on the basis of their own self-identification. No other change to a person’s legal identity is allowed in this way – for example, neither you or I could become a person of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander identity just because we felt like it. It would be both absurd and offensive for that to be the case.

But, somehow, we’re meant to suspend our collective disbelief, and recognise a person with a penis and testicles towelling off in the change room of our women only gym as a true female – as one of us. You might be capable of that level of cognitive gymnastics, and you’re not alone by any means, but some women just can’t do it.

You’ve jumped on the shiny sex work/trans bandwagon, Vanessa, but your place in the caravan is tenuous at best. You’re technically the enemy – a well-educated, relatively privileged, white ‘cis woman’ in a heterosexual relationship. ‘But my partner has two ‘mums’’, you might say. So you ‘married into’ a bit of LGBTQI++++ credibility. Big fucking deal.

You’ve seen how they talk about women of your kind, and they’ll turn on you in a second if you dare to express an even vaguely contrary view. If you don’t keep parroting their bile like a devout, unquestioning, ‘sex-positive’ trans-maiden.

The women who participated in the conference, who you venomously dismissed as ‘the WORST People in the World (Official)’ comprised sex trade survivors, survivors of sexual assault, and others who devote their lives to bettering the lot of women, despite constant gratuitous written and verbal abuse, no-platforming and demonisation.

There are men out there raping and assaulting women at this very moment, and every other moment of the day, and THESE women are the ‘worst people in the world’?

The people you support carry placards and banners emblazoned with vile insults, and shout those same hideous slurs at women who dare to challenge them. Trans activists have physically assaulted women in public places.

But a group of women meeting to address the proliferation in sexual exploitation of women and girls are the ‘worst people in the world’?

Did the ASASE participants abuse the protesters? Did they advertise the conference as a meeting intended to tell sex worker and trans scum to fuck off? Did they wear t-shirts with ‘punch a sex worker/trans person’ inscribed over a bloody red patch?

You talk about ‘crazy haters’, Vanessa and urge them to ‘shut up, just shut up’. But who are the ‘haters’, really? Ask any five year old, and they’ll tell you it’s the people shouting the nasty words – it’s sort of sad that so many women of your age have completely lost touch with that common sense reality.

And the protest wasn’t the benign ‘party’ gathering you thought it would be. Several protesters entered the venue, heckled the speakers and attendees, and announced they were there ‘to interrupt’ not to listen (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g-X3O2JcByY&t=14s).

Given the aggressive, confrontational nature of the organiser’s advertising either you were thoroughly duped, or you’re happy to nod and smile in agreement while holding desperately to your seat on the wagon.

You’ve written your own #metoo story, but do you have any real empathy for women who endure unwanted sex on a daily basis? You willingly respond to the trans activists’ battle cry, but do you care that lesbian women are being vilified for refusing to consider intact male ‘transwomen’ as sexual partners? As Board Chair of the Queen Victoria Women’s Centre, you give a platform to a ‘sex worker’ – Gala Vanting – to educate ‘sex work’ allies, but tolerate their ‘gala venting’ contemptuousness towards feminist advocates, Professor Sheila Jeffreys and Julie Bindel
(https://www.qvwc.org.au/2018/07/feminist-allyship-to-sex-workers-part-one/).

Think about it, Ms Badham. Women’s rights are circling the drain, disappearing faster than you can imagine into an Orwellian nightmare where they can no longer speak the truth about their sex. The sex trade lobby is telling them their bodies are commodities and being used is ‘empowering’. Trans activists are erasing every aspect of their biology from language and social discourse.

It’s time to get out of the #lookatme bubble, Vanessa and wake up. Before you know it, you’ll be an invisible old lady – sorry, old person, ‘lady’ will probably be considered ‘hate speech’ by then – and no-one will care what you think. Do you really want to sell out your own sex for the price of a few minutes’ notoriety?

*Bronwyn Williams is a retired lawyer and social worker.

Author Credits: [show_post_categories parent="no" parentcategory="writers" show = "category" hyperlink="yes"]
19 Comments

19 Comments

  1. Kim Peart

    August 13, 2018 at 3:20 pm

    I wonder if the key action to focus on, by people who care, is the establishment of a government employment guarantee, paying a minimum wage for real work.

    All workers will then be work ready, and private enterprise will have to pay at least the minimum wage to attract and retain workers.

    The present system that creates homelessness as a bi-product of wealth generation, is sending children onto the street, where they may end up in the bed of a sex predator, to keep warm, and even feel safe, ending up who knows where in life (reported on by Juliet Watson in her book, and an ABC News Online article).

    Capitalism is fine, but when compassion is missing in action, free enterprise goes vile.

    Just as the Quakers began rolling the ball on ending slavery, it can be people who care who get the fairness ball rolling.

    Who, I wonder, is ready to suspend political preferences, and focus on building a fair society, and one with a heart?

    Success with this in Australia could be the start of a global transformation.

    As the robot revolution removes more work, and robots are being relied on to hire and sack people now ( article in The Age), It is the addiction to winning at any cost, and too bad about the losers, which is driving a whole range of cruel outcomes for good people, turning many children and young people over to sex predators, and serving to drive higher levels of crime by those without hope.

    It is the cruelty of those who drive this system that sends losers into homelessness, which then becomes mirrored in the cruelty seen with people without hope.

    It is cause and effect, a basic rule of law in the Universe.

    It is the price of competition that forgets about compassion.

  2. Christopher Eastman-Nagle

    August 10, 2018 at 6:43 pm

    And the Lord left a sign for her people: “No trespassers on the Gender terf … Women only!”

  3. Isla MacGregor

    August 10, 2018 at 5:59 pm

    Van Badham’s Twitter post on 26th July exposes the blatant hypocrisy. Compare her statements to those at the Tasmanian Writers Centre event ‘Sharing your opinion with Van Badham:

    “I learned a lot of lessons young about the impact of words committed to publication, and that the influence of opinion comes with great responsibility,” Van says. “I’ve carried them with me.”

    Oh, I love having my views challenged – I’d hardly bother to engage the fray of public discourse if I did not. I cherish a cohort of critics who have sometimes perfectly oppositional views to my own.

  4. Bronwyn Williams

    August 10, 2018 at 1:45 am

    A brief glossary of terms related to this article –

    TERF – Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminist – not a descriptor, as those who sling it at others would claim, but a dead-set vicious insult, often accompanied by threats of violence. The phrase ‘TERF scum’ is one of the milder variants of the term. It’s common in the parlance of transgender activists and sex trade supporters.

    SWERF – Sex Worker Exclusionary Radical Feminist – a variation of TERF, but not as frequently used. It’d often not necessary now that TERF has become an all-encompassing, well-accepted pejorative for anyone who expresses a ‘radical’ feminist opinion.

    RADICAL FEMINISM – also known as second-wave feminism. A movement that originated with the Women’s Liberation campaigns of the 1960s and 1970s, and exemplified in the writings of women like Germaine Greer, Kate Millett, Gloria Steinem and Betty Friedan. Essentially a woman-centred feminism that focuses on the oppression of female persons in patriarchal societies.

  5. Rob Halton

    August 10, 2018 at 1:44 am

    Most of them are crazy to begin with and probably have trouble having a relationship, so they go off the planet and take it out on anyone who gets in their way!

    In this age of political correctness, someone in Canberra creates a new department which includes a bunch of misfits who would be otherwise jobless, loveless and homeless.

    Attention seeking, dangerous and self-serving, I would expect that this type of woman can actually [i]cause[/i] bashings!

  6. Isla MacGregor

    August 9, 2018 at 11:27 pm

    A public statement by Vanessa denouncing the violence and aggression of the protesters at the ASASE conference would be useful for her public image.

    Van Badham previously stated [i] … we can no longer deny the correlation between violence and [b]woman hating[/b][/i]

  7. brendan

    August 8, 2018 at 3:20 pm

    Van Badham seriously wants to avoid being accountable for her diatribes. ‘She’ would make a good politician as one very adept at avoiding answering any questions about her ideologically driven claims. I noticed on her Twitter page how ‘she’ rebuffs any questions with fake claims of abuse .. just like Jane Green has done about events at ASASE. Birds of a feather …

    Here’s the latest post from Van Badham’s Twitter …

    [i]Hello. Just a reminder that if someone gets on the sherry and decides to send me a stream of abusive messages in the middle of the night, I’m not going to engage with them. I’m going to block them. This is ‘social’ media. And I do not socialise with hostile cranks.[/i]

  8. Isla MacGregor

    August 8, 2018 at 1:10 am

    #12 … Jack, so well said .. a Labor party apparatchik who does indeed want it to be all [b]about her[/b]. That’s the problem with [b]celebrity fake journalists[/b] as much as it is about [/b]identity politics[/b].

    The current spectre of narcissism inherent in identity politics is an indicator of much more deep rooted problems in the developed world today, and fears about what the future holds.

    Real politics is not on the agenda of the identifarian movement, or those with the money who are backing it.

  9. Jack

    August 8, 2018 at 12:42 am

    I’m delighted that intelligent and well informed women are pushing back against this epidemic of abuse and harpy narcissism. People like Van Badham are the battery acid eating away at the thin strap that holds the battery in place. You have just cause to be concerned for what this means for issues that demand that gender and sex are not uncoupled.

    In bygone days people like Van Balham used to share a photocopier and grubby phone in a fetid little cupboard office in a university union building that smelled of possum pee. At night they’d wander the campus plastering “radical” signs all over the place, and rant into poor quality amplifier systems like the possessed during the day.

    Many of them were convinced that they were ‘bugged’ by ASIO. Yeah, right.

    Today they have been allowed to trot out their adolescent bile in the MSM and have got their head on the ABC – probably because they don’t cost much to run. Need to fill up 500 words between real estate adds? Give Van of Bad Ham a call.

    Good people, with better things to do, now have to take this mobile cesspool of divisiveness on; not to inhibit her free speech (she’s had more than her 15 minutes) but to stop her gagging everyone else with her toxic and never ending gob-stopper of diversion and self fascination.

    Van Badham is like that maladjusted child that can’t get enough attention; one that throws poo and tantrums – anything to be noticed. What lies beneath is a very sad and anti-social creature hell bent on making everything about [i]them.[/i]

  10. Joanna Pinkiewicz

    August 7, 2018 at 9:18 pm

    I recall her previous nastiness when she attacked Peter Whish-Wilson’s parenting and his children.

    https://www.heraldsun.com.au/blogs/andrew-bolt/how-van-badham-attacks-even-children/news-story/4d66f79d2d87fd15ae1c2225a446d7e9

    She needs to get off social media. She has turned into a bully.

  11. Isla MacGregor

    August 7, 2018 at 7:51 pm

    Admittedly words from someone who’s views I do not share, but so true about Vanessa.

    [i]Contemptible. The fad of the “angry feminist” columnist – drunk on abuse and self-righteous fury – cannot last much longer, I suspect. Even their ideological own are finding it revolting.[/i]

    … And an interesting story about Vanessa’s hatred of the Greens: https://www.heraldsun.com.au/blogs/andrew-bolt/how-van-badham-attacks-even-children/news-story/4d66f79d2d87fd15ae1c2225a446d7e9

  12. Christopher Eastman-Nagle

    August 7, 2018 at 5:14 pm

    Ah Bronwyn, I love the way you are taking this narrative from a solid factual layout to a more combative front footing bluff call of a pugnacious badarse bovver booter who is used to getting away with it.

    But the warning is that Badarse Badham’s behaviour is emblematic of a much larger trend of language and attitudes starting to be mobilised into the increasingly shrill propaganda stereotypes and cliches that are not so subtly preparing us for war.

    This kind of language and behaviour is typical of periods that are no longer stable, where the bets are coming off, the stakes get much bigger and everyone starts playing for keeps.

    The corrupting of the language of principled debate and civil discourse into the language of publicrelationspeak propaganda slogan and keyword assault is now par for the course, used by everyone, and it relentlessly destroys the quality of ideas and the thinking that produces them.

    And that means that we live in a time when bizarre and half arsed ideas that would never normally have made it past the world of soapbox cranks and comical opportunists, can very quickly make it into the mainstream as they feed off and leverage the uncertainty, discourse poverty, gullibility and fears of their times.

    There is plenty of that around and getting traction all around the world, as we speak.

    And what all the badarse characters who start to ride these chaotic waves have in common is a realisation as to how vulnerable the civil commons is and how easy it is to tear its already weakened fabric and smash its infrastructure.

    Badarse Badham, Donald Trump and a long list of contemporary others have tripped over this one, much as Adolph Hitler did in 1919-20 by mobilising working class toughs to both secure Nazi gatherings and break up the political meetings of his opponents.

    It was devastatingly effective against everyone but the communists, who promptly adopted the same tactics but much less successfully.

    The Nazis got their political run up on the streets by physically breaking up opposition that had no real idea how to deal with them, other than make thoroughly ineffectual moral protest. The communists used iron bars wrapped in newspaper, but it was too little too late.

    The badarses don’t give a damn about protest and morality, or the civil commons they are taking down.

    Badarse Badham and her enthusiastic mates have got the basic idea of how fabulously effectively their shenanigans work. Disruption is so breathtakingly easy and there are plenty of dysfunctional ideological droogies out there who just love to kick a bit of arse …

    Democratic forces in interwar Germany were not all that strong anyway, but their understandable reluctance to adopt the tactics of the people taking them down was what eventually undid them. They heard the drums of war approaching and did nothing.

    There are times when none of the options are attractive, but if you shrink from making a choice they get even less so. If you can’t beat the badarses at their own game, they win.

  13. Emma

    August 7, 2018 at 4:10 pm

    Reading Van Badham’s tweets here is quite shocking.

    She writes regularly for The Guardian and the ABC, which are pretty mainstream and very well-read among the left, but where is the condemnation from her followers or her employers?

    Sadly, despite her feminist and leftist credentials, Van Badham’s politics are lightweight and trendy. She takes no risks, preferring to align herself with whatever is popular that day. Survival strategy? Desperation? Whatever the reason, it’s disappointing she doesn’t use her status and access to power for better causes. Great article.

  14. Mentor in Prevention of Violence

    August 7, 2018 at 4:07 pm

    I am pleased to hear that the ASASE Summit was a success.

    It takes courage to stand up to a system that exploits the vulnerable. It’s great to see Simone’s voice for the underclass from the perspective of a survivor.

  15. Joanna Pinkiewicz

    August 7, 2018 at 4:02 pm

    The author is on the money. “likeability” is hard to give up. The need to be liked and on trend compromises work of real value, of proper and informed resistance.

    Unfortunately it is what betrays women and feminism.

    The “queer street protest” interrupted a speaker addressing child sexual exploitation. It was ridiculous and shameful.

  16. Selena

    August 7, 2018 at 3:05 pm

    Thanks for this great piece. The protesters at ASASE clearly did not understand what the Summit was about, and had obviously been sent to stir up trouble and create fear.

    Those who manipulated them into this should be ashamed for so many reasons. Are they afraid to engage respectfully and intellectually with the topics under discussion? Perhaps they are simply unable to do so. After all, one wonders how they would defend the rape of children, sex trafficking, and ubiquitous everyday violence against women in the sex industry.

  17. Isla MacGregor

    August 7, 2018 at 2:41 pm

    Sabrinna Valisce and Caitlin Roper were at the ASASE conference and have written about the violent actions by pimp lobby activists:

    [b]Protesters at the back of the venue were trashing banners and display tables, ripping up pamphlets and stealing merchandise. Some threw objects at members of the audience, and continued to be disruptive as Professor Taylor attempted to resume her presentation on so-called “child pornography,” and legal efforts to secure redress for the children abused in order to produce it. One yelled out, “Sex work is real work,” “Fuck all of you,” and “How do you not realize this is bullshit? I can’t believe you paid to see this.” Despite all this, Professor Taylor got back up and delivered her speech to a standing ovation.[/b]

    For video footage of the violence at the ASASE conference see and read more on:

    https://www.facebook.com/FeministCurrent/

  18. Simone

    August 7, 2018 at 2:39 pm

    Another thing I find odd about Van is her lack of consistency. Recently she argued on The Drum that only skilled migrants earning $180,000 per annum should be allowed to work in Australia. How does this fit with her stance that trafficked women are simply ‘migrant sex workers’ ? What on earth does she think women are earning in the sex trade because it certainly isn’t even close $180,000 per year! Most out of touch with the underclass she claims to support.

  19. Isla MacGregor

    August 7, 2018 at 12:36 pm

    Well, what is left to say about Vanessa Bronwyn? I look forward to reading more from you about Vanessa in future.

    For those wanting to read more on Tastimes: http://www.oldtt.pixelkey.biz/index.php/article/van-badhams-freedom-of-speech-for-some

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