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Sunday, 29 June 2008

Melissa Tankard Reist's Quadrant July-August 2008 piece on child sexualisation would seem to be 'of a piece' with her other public writings.

Website unbelief.org "has her number" and makes a long analysis of her participation in the public sphere, which started to kick in, the page says, when - as a cadet journalist - she won a "Rotary Foundation Scholarship to study journalism in the United States".

Naturally, Quadrant is going to publish her words, you think. But ironcally the article following Reist's, by Leonie Kramer, begins with her noting that Lady Chatterley's Lover was the "first book [she] asked for when [she] became a reader at the Bodleian Library".

Reist is about my age and appears to be a healthy, generously proportioned woman. Like me, again (not the 'woman' bit). Reading her piece today - 'The Pornification of Girldhood' - I get the impression that she's mainly interested in protecting children from a predatory capitalist system.

Depending on your social bias, this is not a difficult conclusion to reach. But the painful reality is that any current 'player' in the public sphere will know where she stands on the spectrum and treat the argument accordingly.

Or perhaps she needs this issue more than it needs her. Perhaps Reist has, now, entered an arena where there is no need for debate, where an association of sexualising imagery pairs off inevitably in the popular consciousness with pedophilia.

If so, case closed.

Reist's article is definitely worth reading. She has more time than most people to (a) research and (b) assemble data that may, indeed, be available to all. Unfortunately, not everyone has time to go looking.

The major beef that inner city liberal types have with Reist (I won't say "and her ilk" because that would destroy my own argument instanter) is such associations as hers with NSW Right to Life.

The following graphics appear in a scrolling banner on their website. Images such as these are highly polarising. Althought Reist, herself, is on record defending lesbians against attacks, groups like Right to Life do not have this latitude.

They must keep onside their core constituency. Reist worked with Tasmania's infamous Brian Harradine for 12 years, so she must be aware of the kind of attacks people in his situation endure from groups on the other side of the political fence.

Being associated with Right to Life cannot help her case, which is why I think she needs the issue of 'corporate pedophilia' more than it needs her. Obviously, from the article, she is pairing herself off against Catharine Lumby.

What she says is true, but for some reason it reminds me of the 19th century debate about novels. OK, I know this is not original. Others have used the same analogy. But what about the other significant heresy - access to the English Bible?

Back when Shakespeare was still just a gleam in Anne Hathaway's eye (the left one, we hope), it was only 'sad' men (meaning 'sober'; no women - please!) who were deemed eligible - by Henry VIII's censors - to have a copy.

A few years later this became moot when he opened the floodgates as a result of wounded pride.

Now I love reading Quadrant and I hate it when politicians such as Morris Iemma feel compelled to criticise people operating on the far-left fringe of society - people who ordinarily band together for protection, and who thus fortify the ancient left-right divide due to wounded pride.

So when I read Reist's excellent article in the magazine, I am compelled - Google gives us an almost-synchronous ability to classify - to condemn her affiliations because of the dishonesty implicit in the images below.

These images damage her standing in the community because the people who put them on the Right to Life website are as dishonest as rapacious magazine editors criticised in the article.

It is also true that conservative Christians are very much as one with capitalism. I listen to 103.2FM on many mornings during my commute and so I am very aware of the clear bias in favour of entrepreneurism.

Which is what the magazines Reist criticises are very much a party to.







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