Monday, November 14, 2011

Can't Quite Get My Head Around This One

On the one hand:

"Female cadets at the Australian Defence Force Academy are subjected to widespread, low-level sexual harassment, a comprehensive investigation of attitudes towards women at the ADF's officer training establishment has found. Sex discrimination commissioner Elizabeth Broderick said she also heard confidential testimony describing how some senior cadets held competitions to score a 'trifecta' - sex with a first-year cadet from each of the 3 services... The low-level sexual harassment consisted mainly of jokes and stories, unwelcome questioning and discussion among cadets about sexual activity... The survey found 74.1% of females and 30.3% of males reported unacceptable gender-related or sex-related harassment. That included whistling, sexist and offensive remarks, put-downs and unwanted attempts to establish a sexual relationship. And 2.1% of women and 0.2% of men reported being forced to have sex without consent while 4.3% of women and 1.9% of men reported being treated badly for refusing to have sex." (Defence academy women 'targeted', Brendan Nicholson & Mark Dodd, The Australian, 4/11/11)

On the other:

"Across our nation today [11/11/11] we will pause to commemorate a great war that began before most of us were alive and ended with the deaths of 60,000 Australian soldiers. Our leaders will make speeches echoing honour and sacrifice, school captains will lay wreaths, and trumpeted reveilles will puncture a minute's silence. But what is the point of all this national emotional investment in commemoration?

"Australians seem obsessed with commemorating world wars. We watch high-rating TV shows in which Australians trace the footsteps of their military ancestors. We've built thousands of war memorials and hundreds of RSL clubs. We swim in war memorial pools. We drive to our national capital on a Remembrance Driveway, where roadside toilets remember our Victoria cross winners. We can buy sand from Gallipoli over the counter at any Australia Post, and buy military histories by the metre in our bookstores. At fottball grand finals the names of fallen soldiers grace the big screen. Commemoration is almost inescapable - lest we forget.

"Commemoration sells and war memorials are a growth industry in Australia. This year, while the Australian Defence Force budget was cut, the Australian War Memorial budget increased 25%. Staff and seed funds from government are supporting a campign for a $3.5 million dollar Peacekeepers Memorial, and another group is soliciting for a $3 million edifice to the distant Boer War. Another $25 million is planned for two new world war memorials beside Lake Burley-Griffin. The Prime Minister has committed $8.1 million to building new war memorials in Wellington and Washington. At $39.6 million, the planned outlay on these memorials will be greater than the budget of Australia's peak intelligence agency, the Office of National Assessments." (From On the 11th, remember the living, James Brown, Sydney Morning Herald, 11/11/11)

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