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Australia and women: for those considering migration

You are a man from what is often referred to as a “traditional culture”. For whatever reason you find yourself living in Australia, or considering living in Australia. There are women in your life: a mother, sisters, a wife, daughters. There are some things you need to understand, some beliefs you need to let go.

You are a woman from what is often referred to as a “traditional culture”. For whatever reason you find yourself living in Australia, or considering living in Australia. You will find you can have a very different life here, if you are supported by the people around you and the men in your life.

Last week I read an article in The Age where Dr Sharobeem is quoted as saying

”I’ve heard men with my own ears shouting [to new arrivals]: ‘This country is about supporting women. It is our rule as head of the family to keep the women away from the bad influence of the country and not let them learn English.’ ”

Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/hotline-plan-to-help-hidden-child-brides-in-sydney-20140301-33sqm.html#ixzz2vK1hPxnx

If you are one of those men, I ask you to think about why you are here, or thinking of coming here. If you believe so strongly in those traditions, why are you coming to Australia?

I ask you to go and look in the mirror. Do you consider yourself any less equal than any other man in the street or in your workplace? No, I didn’t think so. Now look at your mother, or remember her face if she is not with you. She brought you into the world, carried you in her womb for forty weeks. Is your mother any less equal than you? If you are an intelligent man, and I assume you are, the answer has to be “My mother is my equal as a fellow human being”.  If your mother is your equal, so are your sisters, your wife and your daughters.

There are things that are illegal in Australia that you may currently consider normal or even desirable. It is illegal to marry a child. That means you may not allow anyone to marry your 12 year-old daughter OR send her overseas to get married.

Female circumcision is illegal in Australia. We call it genital mutilation.

You may not kill your daughter because she wants to date someone you would not have chosen. Honour killings are murder and you go to jail.

Rape in marriage is a crime. Women in Iraq are demonstrating to protect their rights against religious extremists: in Australia those women and children would be protected from such male subjugation.

Women are allowed to drive cars.

You may find yourself working for women. Your sons will be taught by women at school and university.

You may be seen by a female doctor or see a female lawyer. In Australia we do not send women to see female doctors and men to see male doctors although many medical clinics will have female doctors a woman can ask to see.

You have to say “please” and “thank you” to women, even your own sisters – as my boys soon learnt! Here you open doors for women to walk through IN FRONT OF YOU! Something my husband found very odd. Women do NOT walk behind you in Australia, they walk BESIDE you. Your wife is your partner, not your possession.

We do not believe men are better or superior than women. This is despite what our current Prime Minister might think – most of us tend to think he is decidedly sexist even though he claims he is a feminist. His attitudes to women as expressed over the years are not mainstream in any way shape or form, while in your culture he might be considered quite “progressive”.

Let me assure you the world doesn’t explode if you treat women as equals.  Your penis won’t fall off if you treat women as you expect to be treated. You won’t starve either. There is a wonderful look at gender equality by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie at the end of this article.

If you want to be like the man Dr Sharobeem quoted above, I suggest you not move to Australia. Carefully consider whether this is the country for you. We are not going to change, it is you who must adapt if you are to live here.

A multicultural society is a wonderful place. We enjoy foods, traditions and celebrations from all over the world. Some traditions need to be left behind. Cruel and discriminatory traditions have no place in this century.

If you are black, you do not expect to be treated any less equally than a white man. Why should a woman be treated any less equally than a man? I never suggest men and women are the same, for clearly the genders are not the same. But sameness is not required for equal rights. All three mainstream religions have taught subjugation of women, yet the most maligned of the three, Islam, was lead by a feminist of her time after Mohammad’s death.

A stateswoman, scholar, mufti, and judge, Aisha combined spirituality, activism and knowledge and remains a role model for many Muslim women today. The gulf between her true legacy and her depiction in Islamophobic materials is not merely historically inaccurate, it is an insult to the memory of a pioneering woman.

The writer points out those who “manipulate her story to justify the abuse of young girls, and those who manipulate it in order to depict Islam as a religion that legitimises such abuse have more in common than they think”.

As I am an atheist, I find the religious teachings about the place of women in society totally unacceptable.  Jane Douglas reminds us of a little Christian “law” most Christians have, thankfully, moved on from.

1 Corinthians 14:34 (KJV)

Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience as also saith the law.

http://puttingheroarin.wordpress.com/2012/09/14/an-open-letter-to-catherine-deveny/

Of course, atheism is something your children may embrace if you move to Australia. Even you may consider atheism. This is a country where both freedom OF and freedom FROM religion are guaranteed. You cannot force your family to believe in any religion.

Today is International Women’s Day.  Celebrate with the women in your life. Let men and women move forward together. Leave behind traditions from bygone eras. Set your daughters free.

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15 comments on “Australia and women: for those considering migration

  1. […] also know I am an avowed atheist and believe firmly in gender equality. Such readers may have found my support confusing. While I do not believe in religion, I […]

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  2. […] was, AT THE TIME, an attempt to advance human society in the region of origin and enhance the status of women. For the time, remember, in historical context. In SOME areas of the world, tradition has been […]

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  3. Brilliant!! Robyn you are incredibly talented in the way you write… You have an amazing way with words. Thank you for yet another amazing post x

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  4. I am so sick of the paternalists who refuse to acknowledge how destructive their belief systems are when it comes to stripping away human dignity to appease those with tiny penises and smaller brains, who uphold the corrupt underlying institutions that reign, rule, and conduct wars of all kinds on this planet.

    I too am an atheist and that’s not because I was not well educated ie. brainwashed and indoctrinated. It’s the exact opposite and I have the credentials to prove it. Thankfully I had a high enough IQ and high enough self esteem to be able to reject the dogma and doctrine of the idiots who propound it and leave their company.

    The most dangerous invention of mankind to date is religiosity. In a backhanded way, I am grateful for religious zealots ie. evangelical fundamentalists of all so-called “faiths” for if I had not been raised within the blind faith milieu, I would not have come to know how spirit quenching and destructive their belief systems are, and I would not have had the courage it took to defy them and walk way without ever looking back.

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    • We have a Royal Commission gping on here at the moment into institutional child abuse. Some of the evidence has been horrific, absolutely horrific.

      The Roman Catholic Church, the Salvation Army, some other children’s homes I don’t recall right now.

      Wars, bombings, killings….. subjugation of women (half the population of the world) yet it all continues.

      I went to a church run boarding school, but had no problems at all. At 600 guineas a term I suppose they couldn’t afford a problem. The abuse seems to have been mostly of the poor, parentless and otherwise vulnerable.

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  5. love the thoughts you expressed Robyn

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    • Thank you Jo. I think it is a little controversial. Lots of readers, few comments. Usually means people don’t know what to say. 🙂

      Readers is good though.

      I think we don’t do nearly enough assimilation education. We expect migrants to just know. They don’t.

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      • True Robyn. I remember having an Italian friend growing up…she was not allowed to see Aussie boys, and I wondered why the hell they came to Australia if we weren’t good enough for their children.

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      • My ex-husband had an Italian friend who married an Irish woman. His parents were horrified.

        I’m more concerned about the issue of gender equality and the protection of women.

        I don’t approve of male circumcision either, but it isn’t quite as horrific as FGM.

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      • Hey Robyn. Think the lack of comment may be because you’ve expressed yourself so perfectly, there’s nothing left to say.

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      • Oh, now that could give me a swollen head.

        Seriously though I keep thinking of things I could add, but probably best not to fiddle.

        Thank you for your support. 🙂

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  6. Important message here Robyn on the cultural difference to how women are perceived, treated and have gender roles prescribed for them. Sadly there is not a country in the world where women are free from violence and harassment. Its why we still need International Women’s Day…Love the message from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

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    • Chimamanda is wonderful!

      Violence and harassment against women is, I agree, a global issue. At least in Australia women have equality enshrined in law, pretty much. We need to do more to prevent the deaths.

      Imagine if the government spent as much money on eradicating violence against women as it is spending to “stop the boats”.

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