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I feel like so much has happened this week. I’m constantly looking to Twitter, the newspaper, Facebook, television, tuning into the radio and those around me, in an attempt to keep up with everything going on.

My schedule seems to have been more hectic than usual. Work for university seems to have blown in my face en masse, despite me remaining relatively up to date throughout the semester. This week has seen numerous group meetings, time spent in the edit suites crafting and perfecting a short broadcast program, numerous blogs, readings and symposium conversations, time researching new theories and concepts on networks, technology and Ray Kurzweil amongst others.

Today, my Broadcast Media television group reshot some footage for our current affairs segment at N2 Extreme Gelato in the 40 degree heat, where the menu included tofu and Kopiko creme gelati for the week’s Chinese New Year theme.

ImageI spent my Thursday at my internship collating information on how different not-for-profits organise their media coverage, discussing events and updating brand and logo charts.

I am often overwhelmed by the weekend newspapers and having recently approached them differently, which actually involves getting on with other things before I’ve read the entire editions back to front. While this has enabled me to be more productive and somewhat less restricted, today, I found myself still trying to finish off last Saturday’s magazines while this week’s ones were on the dinning room table. The perils of so much information and diverse interests.

This week also brought us a number of media controversies and notable world events (or non-events). There was the attack on ABC from numerous Coalition and associated identities and Abbott’s announcement of an ‘efficiency study’ into the network and the SBS.

SPC Ardmona became a company in even more dire straits while local Liberal MP Sharman Stone stood up to her party and the nation’s leader in defence of the rights of her people.

The winner of America’s 15th season of The Biggest Loser spurred a worldwide controversy over the program’s lack of ethics, and disrespect for individuals’ health and overall wellbeing in favour of sensationalistic and damaging television. Fortunately, much of the health and wellness industry has spoken out against the show, but I still saw too many tweets and comments by mainstream news organisations and high profile individuals who saw Rachel’s extreme ‘makeover’ as ‘inspirational’, and led to me posting this:

Screen Shot 2014-02-08 at 8.33.25 pm

This came on the back of a contentious ‘body image issue’ of Fairfax Media’s Sunday Life magazine. For a good read in response to the issue, check out Madeline Beveridge’s letter to the publishers.

The Pakistani government and the Taliban didn’t and then did meet, and an evacuation of the besieged Syrian city of Homs finally began.

The creative industry and beyond were shocked by the death of Philip Seymour Hoffman and the Daily Telegraph sank to new journalistic lows – which I have chosen not to link to as they/it/he deserve no further coverage of such a distasteful nature.

And of course, Sochi happened, although whether the region was ready or not is another point up for discussion. While many athletes and journalists had photographic proof of their arduous arrival and accommodation, Dmitry Kozak, the deputy prime minister responsible for the Olympic preparations, retaliated and claimed he could be certain all such reports were false as Russia had ‘surveillance video from the hotels that shows people turn on the shower, direct the nozzle at the wall and then leave the room for the whole day’. Apparently Mr Kozak was pulled away before he could make any other spying admissions.

Screen Shot 2014-02-08 at 8.51.30 pm Screen Shot 2014-02-08 at 8.51.39 pmFinally, Google came out in support of all people and the Winter Olympics with a lovely Google doodle to mark the games’ opening, which also appeared on Google’s Russian homepage.

unnamedSo that’s just a snippet of what’s making news in my world this week. Here’s hoping for more progress, equality, peace and awareness in the week to come.

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In this week’s symposium, our tutor referred to ‘traditional media’ as ‘heritage media’.

I’d never heard the term used in this context and it really stood out as something quite shocking. As I’ve mentioned time and time again, I’m a print girl, true and through. I read books, tangible newspapers and magazines in hand as much as possible. But I’m also a constant consumer of news and other texts online and via my phone.

We discussed the conservative argument for free market economics which might say heritage media has an inherent ‘checks and balance’ system for quality. Theoretically, this would ensure the ‘best’ stories would go to print or air. Yet what tends to happen reflects more of a populist approach as, largely, it is the content deemed to appeal to the masses that is published and produced.

Online there is (infinite) space for diversity of content, opinion, language, perspective and debate. By coincidence, in my webscrawling today I came across a 2006 publication of Harvard Law professor, Yochai BenklerThe Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom.

As a side note – I love that as I’ve started formally studying more topics or subjects I am genuinely interested in, the time I spend online for pleasure is actually resonating with that guided learning.

Benkler’s work is one such example. He discusses how the internet has restructured public discourse, giving individuals greater freedom and autonomy, encouraging participation, engagement as a scale-free network. He suggests the internet provides ‘avenues of discourse around the bottle-necks of older media, whether these are held by authoritarian governments or by media owners’ (p. 271). This point is particularly pertinent in light of Prime Minister Tony Abbott and the Coalition’s latest tirade against (or ‘efficiency review’ of) the ABC and SBS. Of course, this is in addition to two publishing houses (or rather, two millionaires) dominating Australia’s print industry, providing the public with ‘news’ that is about as ‘fair and balanced’ as Fox News.

Benkler says ‘filtering, accreditation, and synthesis mechanisms [are a] part of network behavior’ (p. 271) and that peer production ‘is providing some of the most important fuctionalities of the media. These efforts provide a watchdog, a source of salient observations regarding matters of public concern, and a platform for discussing the alternatives open to a polity’ (p. 272).

‘In the networked information environment, everyone is free to observe, report, question, and debate, not only in principle, but in actual capability.’ (p. 272)

Perhaps most importantly, is that in today’s online, networked world, anyone can become what New York Univerrsity journalism professor, Jay Rosen, calls a ‘citizen journalist‘.

‘…the people formerly known as the audience employ the press tools they have in their possession to inform one another.’

Citizen journalism, the internet and networked science are shifting power away from leaders, managers and millionaires, and are democratising the media landscape and the society in which they exist. While I will hold on to heritage media, I am incredibly grateful for the proliferation of online networks that constantly offer me new pages to view, opinions to read and thoughts to think. But still, I’m pretty excited for The Saturday Paper. Aren’t you?

In the Comment pages of today’s Age under a banner advertising the paper’s ‘Quality commentary’, is a piece by Christopher Bantick, aptly (self-)described as ‘a senior literature teacher at a Melbourne boys’ Anglican grammar school. Unfortunately for Bantick, his opinion (also available at The Age online) only serves to prove aspects of his title, as he sits comfortably purporting the stereotypes of both ‘senior’ and a conservative gentleman teaching at an established, elite ‘grammar school’.

Cleverly, the subeditor – referencing of one Bantick’s remarks – had titled the piece ‘Another brick in the wall of Gen Y cultural decline’. Of course, I was immediately intrigued, but failed to note the commentary’s author before jumping in. What followed was fundamentally an utterly abhorrent dismissal of the entire 20th and 21st centuries, under the principle that Australia’s ‘jingoistic egalitarianism has gone too far’, and we are now all too ‘ignoran[t]’ to appreciate anything the writer deems a worthy contributor to ‘high culture’.

In a few hundred words, Bantick rejects world-renowned screenwriter, director and producer, Ang Lee, Leonard Cohen, the Rolling Stones, Australian writer, Melina Marchetta, and British street artist, Banksy. He claims ‘Young people have lost the capacity to actually know when something is art, and worthy’ and that the only people attending ‘an opera, a concert of searching classical music or an art show that is not a blockbuster’ are those with ‘Grey hairs’. Bantick professes to fear a future where ‘the elders of keepers of the cultural treasures’ will be extinct, leaving only a generation too hung up on ‘selfies’, ‘fanzines and blogs of banality’.

Apparently, according to Bantick, today’s celebrity culture is all-encompasing and so widely ‘pervasive’ that is it altering the way our brains are processing information. Well! If this ‘moronic introspection’ has such overriding power, would he too, not be under its spell?

Bantick discredits any potential value so-called ‘popular culture’ may offer a young person – or any person’s – life, and outright eliminates any factors of contemporary culture that may enrich us humble beings. Furthermore, he states Generation Y are all too ‘vain’ and thus blind, to the beauty of Mahler, Jane Eyre and John Keats, masters of what Bantick qualifies as ‘High culture: fine art, opera, serious drama and music that requires patience and understanding’.

What a load of absolute horse shit.

First and foremost, I am unsure of what elite qualification Bantick holds that he believes has granted him the right to oversimplify and almost objectify my generation. In fact, he has stirred up some controversy in recent times in similar vein, applying vast generalisations to today’s youth and ascribing us with what he appropriates as ‘amoral’ values and obsessions.

Secondly, he writes it is ‘beyond subjective taste’ that teaching Looking for Alibrandi rather than Jane Eyre is just another example of schools ‘pandering to the lowest common denominator’. Yes, it can be hard to obtain objectivity in today’s complicated world, but surely this man’s opinion is no more objective than yours or mine.

Furthermore, I am personally offended Bantick has so little appreciation of and respect for my peers and our mores, so much so that he has predicted the ‘atrophy’ of art, music, theatre and literature predating the 1900s.

Bantick is also a little off on his knowledge of the state of Australian philanthropy. Only a matter of months ago I researched and published a piece at artsHub specifically on the pertinent topic of Millennial philanthropists with a focus on the arts. Unfortuately, the article is locked to artsHub subscribers but I can assure you Philanthropy Australia’s New Gen project is working to ensure the future of all of our arts ‘treasures’ is preserved and sustained for a long time to come.

I may also suggest Bantick lends an eye to the perspective of British teacher, Andrew Jones, who is in favour of engaging students in their learning of religion, of all subjects, through ‘pop culture’.

Also pertinent are the views of this commenter, ‘drjones’ (amongst others):

Image

I’m left to ponder the following:

  • Do high art and contemporary art have to be mutually exclusive?
  • What is the role of time and reflection in determining high culture?
  • Does generalising the interests of an entire generation actually do them a disservice?
  • And, isn’t beauty in the eye (and ear) of the beholder?

Let me know your thoughts.

So for something a bit different, here’s a kind of latest news/opinion piece I wrote for artsHub yesterday. It’s a bit tongue-in-cheek but the foundation of my arguments still stand. So, have a read and give ya mum a book this christmas – and while you’re at it, buy your brother/sister/cousin/friend one, too.

An abbreviated version is available at the artsHub website.

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With the rise of the hipster, young adults are creating a digital divide when it comes to reading – and its not what you think.

Young adult readers want a tangible bang for their buck when it comes to buying books

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Image: Books abound at The Central Library of Stuttgart
A new study has found 16 to 24 year olds prefer buying printed books to eBooks.
Recent research by British marketing group Voxburner found that 62 per cent of this demographic surveyed would rather buy a physical book than purchase a copy of the same book for a digital reading device.
As referenced in Voxburner’s Buying Digital Content Report, which sourced and surveyed 1,420 respondents in the UK between 24 September and 18 October this year, 17 per cent of respondents felt eBooks need to be 75 per cent cheaper than current market prices.
Only eight per cent of young people found eBooks to be reasonably priced and over a quarter thought the price of eBooks should be halved.
As a young woman who could comfortably locate myself within this demographic if we presume such findings are transferable across the equator, I find myself siding with the majority.
Nothing beats the smell, the weight and the wonder a physical book presents. I nurture the opportunity to flip through a book’s pages, making my own creases in the spine and being able hold it close to my heart. While I personally am not a fan of dog-earing page corners, it too, is a physical sensation unavailable to those who choose the digital path.
Voxburner found the top-rated reasons for preferring physical to digital books were ‘I like to hold the product’ (51 per cent), ‘I am not restricted to a particular device’ (20 per cent), ‘I can easily share it’ (10 per cent), ‘I like the packaging’ (9 per cent), and ‘I can sell it when used’ (6 per cent). These physical and emotional experiences are simply unavailable when it comes to eBooks.
Readers may benefit from being able to enlarge the font size of their eBooks, but with so many hipsters wearing glasses these days, that’s hardly a concern for today’s young adults.
I gain so much satisfaction from slowly lifting up the bottom corner of the right-side page whilst reading intently and swiftly through an all-enveloping story, before the climax of reaching that last visible word and slamming the page down on its head to continue without breaking rhythm.
Then there are the smells of a freshly printed page, or the history of the second-hand book purchased from a little bookstore in a country town after accidently forgetting how amazing reading can be, relishing in some free time and subsequently finishing a book faster than expected, on a weekend away.
Bookshelves are a unique window into a person’s interests, past and knowledge. If I were to store my books virtually, I’d be without the ready reminder of who I’ve become through reading, each time I pass the shelves.
In an interview with The Guardian, Voxburner spokesman, Luke Mitchell extended this sentiment, reiterating that ‘books are like status symbols, you can’t really see what someone has read on their Kindle’.
Additionally, eBooks lack character. As Gerard Ward of Voxburner notes, most eBooks use standard fonts and contain fewer images due to the lack of colour available on many devices.
I admit, I don’t own an eReader of any sort. But, I also have very little interest in doing so.
Where is the pleasure of cuddling up in front of the open fire on a wintery night but having to worry about the heat adversely affecting the electrical components of my ‘book’? I want to be able to sit as close to the heat as I want, and observe the shadows of the flames illuminate and shade different parts of my page as they flicker.
Yes, I am highly dependent on my smartphone and many other technological devices. However, as Mitchell suggested to publishers in an interview with British trade journal, The Bookseller, it might pay to reconsider their pricing hierarchy.
‘The report suggests that publishers should look at how young people download content, because although about 85 per cent have a smartphone, only 55 per cent have some kind of eReader’, Mitchell said.
So, eBooks may be convenient and available at the drop of a hat (or the tap of a screen), but isn’t the kill of the chase a significant element of the reading experience? Browsing, scouting and landing the coveted paperback only heighten my desire to jump in once the pages fill my hands.
But ultimately, what is important to me is that we just keep young people reading. So this holiday season, don’t pass up the gift of giving your loved one a whole other world they can explore in the palm of their hands, whatever your preference; print or digital.

Anyone can be a victim of violence. From petty crime to theft, domestic violence, physical or verbal abuse, emotional trauma, as well as rape, and murder. The list goes on and none of it is pretty. Violence can lead to physical and mental ill health, homelessness, feelings of shame, embarrassment, and acts of retaliation. The severity of violence is vast, and each case is unique. I am fortunate enough to live a life where I feel cared for, loved and safe. But too often, I take these life essentials for granted.

Three stories have featured in tonight’s news headlines, each involving women and acts of violence. Without going in to too much detail, Adrian Ernest Bayley was sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum jail term of 35 years, for the rape and murder of Melbournian Jill Meagher. Ms Meagher’s father said ‘justice has now been done’. But, nothing will bring back the innocent woman who found herself in that eventually fatal position in Brunswick last September.

St Kilda footballer Stephen Milne was yesterday convicted of four counts of rape of a 19 year old female, dating back to 2004. Victoria Police say they have ‘implemented substantial reforms and improvements to [their] sex crimes investigative processes which has enabled a number of older investigations to be reviewed, offenders identified and charges laid’. Yet one may beg to ask why it has taken so long for the truth to come out. There has been deception and what one party involved called a ‘sabotaged investigation’. However, the AFL have now disputed Milne’s suspension based on the presumption of innocence. I find it hard to believe that in any other workplace or sector that an organisation would speak out against an employee’s suspension when accused of rape, but is it not both troubling and fascinating to hear the different arguments in play?

The third news item is undoubtedly less severe but just as intriguing in its own way. In recent months there have been numerous reports of abuse on Melbourne and Sydneys’ public transport system. On Monday evening, a customer was physically and verbally assaulted on an Eltham-bound train out of Melbourne’s CBD. The difference in this case though, was that the victim was a 56 year old man, and his abusers, two 15 and 16 year old girls. While the girls have been questioned and the victim’s story has been told and retold, the emphasis has certainly been placed (at least by commercial and tabloid media) on the age and gender of each of the three involved. Yes, it is terrible and unjust, the man was victimised and abused in a public situation that should have been safe. Yes, others should have stepped in to prevent the action or assist the man (hello, PSO officers?). But the focus is on the two girls. Journalistic reporting also shifts: words chosen are inherently more feminine, soft, and possibly, forgiving. The teens are described as ‘feral’ rather than violent or brutal.

So, why do we find female criminals so, do I dare say, inviting?

I took a subject over the summer called Women and International Justice that asked this very question. Through exploration of the way women are treated in court, in society, and in prison facilities, I gained a great deal of knowledge, and began to form my own perspectives on these issues. Women can be both victims and perpetrators of violence, and there are many factors – biological, environmental, psychological – that play a part in each case. For my final essay, I focused particularly on the case of Aileen Wuornos, America’s most infamous female serial killer. Filmmaker Nick Broomfield made two documentaries on Wuornos, and a blockbuster film Monster, starring Charlize Theron was produced in 2003. I highly recommend all three of these films, and for you to watch the documentaries first, to gain the ‘facts’, and then Monster, as a testament to and so as gain fully appreciate Theron’s incredible acting. She physically embodies Wuornos’ character and personality in a way I’ve never seen an actor do so, before.

Charlize Theron in 'Monster'

Charlize Theron in ‘Monster’

 

I’ll also post my essay below, for further interest.

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Meanwhile, I’ve had another week at artsHub and here are the links to this week’s work:

The End of the Educational DVD

$12,000 Playwright Commission Available

International Artists Bolster Competition in Stencil Prize

Record Breaking Box Office for Melbourne Jazz Fest

Penguin Kicking Goals with the AFL

60th Sydney FIlm Festival Award Winners

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Compare and contrast two major theories to explain the offending behaviour of women.

Gender is a socially constructed idea, and unlike sex, which is biologically determined, is reflective of the culture in which it is located. The definition of ‘gender’ changes as what is considered ‘acceptable’ for a male or female is both rooted in tradition, and crafted by new thinkers and philosophies. Whether male or female, a person’s life course is affected by conditions including race, social class or socio-economic status, sexual orientation, and physical ability. Much traditional thought expresses women as inferior beings to their male counterparts, and feminist theory sees many women criminals to be stuck in a patriarchal bind, where “women have no civic identity separate from their husbands or fathers” (Goodstein, 2000). This struggle to pronounce themselves as separate individuals leaves many women relying upon men for representation in the public sphere, money, and other resources. Such dependence was not always held respectfully, as what males chose to do to their ‘property’ behind closed doors was off limits to those enforcing justice (Goodstein, 2000).

In Western countries a ‘rule of thumb’ operated, with a literal meaning that men could freely beat their wives so long as the instrument used was no thicker than their thumb. In a culture of male privilege and female service, sexual assault, childhood sexual abuse and wife battering were not considered ‘real’ crimes until the 1970s (Goodstein, 2000). While some consider those violent towards women as having ‘sick personalities’ or a ‘psychological illness’, these practices are likely to have been founded more concretely as reflections of structural gender dynamics, in keeping with the traditional roles assigned to a man and woman. Ferraro (2000) argues social institutions of religion, kinship, the economy, and media, normalize hierarchical gender relations and enforce male power and privilege, leading some males to exercise emotional and physical control through abusive means (Goodstein, 2000). In broad terms, feminist criminologists agree with this sentiment, with radical feminism defining women’s oppression as originating in the categorization of women as an inferior class. Similarly, socio-cultural feminism sees the patriarchal structure of society perpetuating sexual violence against women which is particularly evident in some middle eastern nations, where rape has not been criminalized in marriage, and domestic violence is a pervasive problem.

Attachment Theory

The Attachment Theory suggests that abuse and offending behaviour is a cycle, passed through generations, perpetuated by childhood abuse and offending as a result of insecure and anxious attachment to a primary parental figure. Both boys and girls growing up in violent environments have higher propensities to model such behaviour (Chesney-Lind & Pasko, 2004), yet girls must also negotiate gender oppression, where yearning for someone to be close to them, they feel powerless and are left with limited options for change, where thus, they are met with continued abuse and violence.

Many girls abused as minors try to flee violence and trauma, leaving them without a home, education, or access to a steady income and daily necessities. Widom (2000) attests that victimized girls who enter delinquency as a result of this continuum, and “often with deficits in cognitive abilities and achievement and few positive relationships or social controls”, end up on the streets with very few survival skills (cited in Chesney-Lind & Pasko, 2004, p. 106). Furthermore, they may experience lowered self-esteem, a lack of sense of control over their lives, and thus show tendencies towards criminal behaviour. Chesney-Lind and Pasko (2004) state that consequently, these girls grow into women “with few social or psychological resources for successful adult development” (p. 106), and are likely to become involved with others who have walked similar paths. Group affiliation penetrates crime-ridden neighbourhoods and some women feel compelled into illegal behaviours through their menfolk or other associations (van Wormer, 2010). Geography is significant in determining the influence of crime and drug use (van Wormer, 2010), with areas populated by those of lower socio-economic status often reporting higher levels of crime, gangs and drug abuse. This supports the evidence in favour of the Attachment theory, and reinforces one’s experiences during childhood as a key determinant of one’s ability to grow into a law-responsive adult.

Prostitution is commonly known to be the only crime in which women dominate numerically. Research has shown it to be part of a recursive cycle of victimization leading to criminality and then back again, where these women are knowingly both offenders and victims, in order to maintain their lives. Women arrested for embezzlement were often employed in low-paying clerical, sales and service positions, and were found to have pocketed smaller amounts than males involved in embezzlement. Women were less likely than men to be ‘commercial shoplifters’ (stealing for possible resale) and saw their criminal activity as being part of a ‘second shift’ of household management, rather than for extensive or personal gains (Chesney-Lind & Pasko, 2004). Where women are arrested for more serious crimes (such as robbery) they are more likely to have served as accomplices to men in various capacities, than to have masterminded the offense. Murders by women are likely to be domestic or inflicted upon someone they knew, to be carried out whilst the victim was asleep or incapacitated, and as an act of self-defense, with the women in fear of her (or a child’s) life. Female perpetrators of these crimes were less likely to have a criminal history, or to have a criminal history overwhelmingly dominated by prostitution.

Many studies of women’s crime focus on the events and circumstances women faced during childhood, with a specific emphasis on the importance of victimization and abuse. Heimer identifies, ‘Nearly all of the women discussed in the ethnographic literature on women’s poverty and crime find themselves living in disadvantaged, disorganized, and deteriorating communities with high rates of drug use, property crime, and violence’ (p. 26). Daly coined a subgroup of female criminals as “harmed and harming women” who experienced abuse as children in addition to economic hardship, invoking what Heimer calls a ‘quasi-psychological argument’, maintaining that as abused girls grew up, they were unable to contain their rage and were increasingly violent and committed violent crime. She adds that these felons are simply reproducing their experiences of abuse, and utilizing them as a coping mechanism when faced by confronting circumstances or situations. Moreover, women living in marginalized communities are more likely to encounter and become incorporated into criminal and deviant networks where family members may serve as the conduit between young women and criminal groups (Miller, 1986, cited in Heimer, 2000). Therefore, these women are easily initiated into groups of crime that then sustain their criminal involvement.

Economic Marginalization Hypothesis

The economic marginalization hypothesis suggests the gender gap in crime has narrowed as women have experienced increasing economic hardship relative to men. When this occurs, women’s rates of crime as compared with men’s rates will increase. The hypothesis emphasizes that economic circumstances and crime are a dynamic process (Heimer, 2000) influenced by social demographic and economic indicators. Importantly, gender ratios of arrests can increase when female crime rates are not rising if men’s crime rates are dropping off more rapidly (Heimer, 2000). Citing Blau and Blau’s (1982) argument about inequality and violent crime rates, Heimer notes that high levels of inequality can create a sense of relative deprivation, to which crime is a natural response. Similarly, Steffensmeier and Allan (1996) discuss poverty as a key factor driving changes in women’s offending.

Employment, or lack thereof, is a significant indicator when studying individuals or demographics at risk of criminal behaviour. Box and Hale (1983, 1984) reported that women’s rates of registering as unemployed had some influence on female conviction rates in England and Wales, for the period of 1952 to 1980, yet the percentage of unemployed women does not give information about levels of male unemployment, thus capturing absolute rather than relative economic status (cited in Heimer, 2000). In a study of women street hustlers in Milwaukee, Romenesko and Miller (1989) note previous jobs of women in their sample included work as cooks, housekeepers, store clerks, waitresses, and go-go dancers (cited in Heimer, 2000). Baskin and Sommers (1998) reported that employed women offenders in their sample worked mostly in unskilled jobs as factory workers, salespersons, and office clerks. In these positions, women are at greater risk of committing property crime when faced with financial hardship. Additionally, Daly (1994) observed that at the time of arrest, only 8 of 40 women studied worked in legitimate jobs, 16 were receiving welfare benefits, and the remaining 16 had “no clear means of economic support” (cited in Chesney-Lind & Pasko, 2004, p. 26).

Chesney-Lind and Pasko (2004) discuss a study done by Gilfus (1992) in which 20 incarcerated women were interviewed in exploration of the link between childhood injuries and adult crime. Gilfus found many likenesses between the 20 women, most of whom were single mothers who considered their illegal activities as work, economically necessary to support partners, children, and addictions. Three-quarters were intravenous drug users, 17 had histories of prostitution, 13 reported child sexual abuse, 13 ran away from home as girls, and only four completed high school. The women collectively recalled trying to care for and protect others, particularly younger siblings, from violence and abuse, and 15 had lived with violent men who expected them to bring in money through prostitution and shoplifting. These women saw their criminal role as a form of caretaking. Whilst this study consisted only of 20 women incarcerated in the United States, the social and economic conditions in which they were brought up are similar to those of women held in prisons across the globe. Baskin and Sommers (1992) note, “‘violence and drug involvement’ are adaptive strategies in underclass communities that are racked by poverty and unemployment” (p. 114). Chesney-Lind and Pasko support this statement that “women experiencing gender and racial oppression and social marginalization are particularly vulnerable to both abuse and victimization and involvement in illegal activity” (2004, p. 106).

Aileen Wuornos – A Case Study

American serial killer, Aileen Wuornos, embodied many facets of both Attachment Theory and the Economic Marginalization Hypothesis. She was arrested and charged with capital murder in January 1991. Wuornos was born to a broken family, where her mother left Aileen and Aileen’s brother to her own parents (Wuornos’ grandparents), and her father committed suicide in prison soon after. Wuornos’ grandmother was an alcoholic and it is alleged that her grandfather beat her, and his friend molested her. At nine years of age, Wuornos began work as a sex servant and became pregnant at the age of 13. After the pregnancy and subsequent adoption, Wuornos was told she could no longer live at the house and took to the streets, making money as a prostitute. Prior to the murders, Wuornos committed crimes of theft, robbery, assault and illegal possession of a firearm and had served short sentences in prison. Maher (1997) argues female sex workers robbed their clients as a way to build reputations for violence to help them divert potential victimization (cited in Heimer, 2000). Wuornos had experienced victimization from a young age and it is possible these crimes were an example of building her resilience, in addition to maintaining her lifestyle and her life. Wuornos also played the role of caretaker to her lover, Tyria Moore, who eventually got Wuornos to confess to the murders via telephone, tapped by police (Aileen Wuornos: The Selling of a Serial Killer, 1993, Aileen: Life and Death of a Serial Killer, 2003; Monster, 2003).

While Wuornos worked alone as an adult, during childhood, she was surrounded by drugs, rape and criminal behaviour. Often betrayed by loved ones, Wuornos was unable to trust anyone and learned to fend for herself at a young age. She was economically marginalized and often homeless, where hooking and stealing were her only avenues through which to obtain money and necessities. Unlike other female offenders, Wuornos was the key perpetrator of the crimes she was involved in. She was socially and economically marginalized, unemployed (save prostitution), sparsely connected to family or friends, and was victimized and abused as a child (Aileen Wuornos: The Selling of a Serial Killer, 1993, Aileen: Life and Death of a Serial Killer, 2003; Monster, 2003).

While her status as a serial killer may be uncommon amongst women, her traumatic childhood and marginalization from social, economic and familial realms stands to support the propositions of each theory. With a more supportive networking system and a stable income from an occupation not marred by such potential risk and violence, Wuornos may have found a life very different from the one she led. The Attachment Theory signifies the importance of a parental figure in a child’s life, and without this presence, Wuornos found herself to be detached from society. In turn, she held loose morals and became a victim of the social system, from which she was largely set apart.

Conclusion

A broad feminist framework is vital for understanding offending women, yet both the attachment theory and the economic marginalization hypothesis help shed specific and critical light on many of the underlying issues. Without these perspectives, our understanding of the reason why women offend would be much more limited, as would our capacity for generating legal reforms and social changes that might ultimately lead to a reduction in women’s crimes and their underlying causes.

References

Aileen: Life and Death of a Serial Killer 2003, documentary, Lafayette Films, Louisiana, USA, viewed 21 December, 2012.

Aileen Wuornos: The Selling of a Serial Killer 1993, documentary, Lafayette Films, Louisiana, USA, viewed 22 December, 2012.

Baskin, D and Sommers, I 1992, Sex, Race, Age, and Violent Offending, Violence and Victims, vol. 7, no. 3, pp. 191-201, Springer Publishing Company, New York, USA.

Chesney-Lind, M and Pasko, L 2004, ‘Trends in Women’s Crime’ in The Female Offender Girls, Women and Crime, 2nd edn, Sage Publications, Inc, California, USA.

Ferraro, K J 2000, ‘Woman Battering: More Than a Family Problem’ in Goodstein L and Renzetti C, Women, Crime and Criminal Justice: Original Feminist Readings, Oxford University Press, USA, viewed 27 December 2012, http://roxbury.net/images/pdfs/wcj2_chapter1.pdf

Goodstein, L 2000, ‘Women, Crime and Criminal Justice – An Overview’ in Goodstein L and Renzetti C, Women, Crime and Criminal Justice: Original Feminist Readings, Oxford University Press, USA, viewed 27 December 2012, http://roxbury.net/images/pdfs/wcj2_chapter1.pdf

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Monster 2003, film, Media 8 Entertainment, Florida, USA, viewed 20 December, 2012.

Steffensmeier, D J 1980, Sex Differences in Patterns of Adult Crime, 1965-77: A Review and Assessment, Social Forces, vol. 58, no. 4, pp. 1080-1108, The University of North Carolina Press, North Carolina, USA.

Van Wormer, K 2010, Working With Female Offenders, John Wiley & Sons, Inc, New Jersey, USA.

Widom, C S 2000, ‘Understanding the Consequences of Childhood Victimization’ in Reece, R M ed. 2000, Treatment of Child Abuse, The John Hopkins University Press, Maryland, USA.

On the train home from university this afternoon, I boarded a carriage with very few spare seats. I set up shop (read: positioned myself in a corner with The Age) opposite a distinctive group of individuals, who were chatting excitedly with smiles miles wide on their faces. Usually I try to steer clear of noisy groups, whether it be business men, school kids or screaming children, because I like to read in peace and relative quietness. But for some reason, I decided to stay put and have their conversation as a background soundtrack to my travel home.

The train took off and I started to read. But I was soon taken by the conversation this group of people were having. The first thing I noticed were their accents. Each person seemed to speak our mother tongue with their personal flavouring on top. Some were sweetened and drawn out, others spoke in sharp consonant soundbites. One man I found quite difficult to understand, yet another spoke clear and precise English, as if it was a language she’d known from birth, with just a hint of something special on the side. As I studied their faces, I noticed the diverse ethnicities they represented. Of the six people, some were dark, some of Asian heritage, and another appeared to be Middle Eastern. I heard one man speak of his hometown in Saudi Arabia. He was a hardware worker. One woman thought he’d said ‘hairdresser’ rather than hardware worker, and after clarifying his profession through adjectives they both understood, they had a laugh about their mixup. They bonded over their struggle to learn English but their pursuit of it, regardless.

I came to realise that among this group, one woman seemed slightly out of place. She was an Indian woman, significantly older, spoke of navigating Melbourne’s public transport system, and with correct grammar and articulation. She asked questions of the others, and stimulated conversation through these open-ended inquiries. The other members were only too happy to answer, practicing their English and enjoying the interaction and celebrating their achievements in managing to construct appropriate and coherent responses.

They discussed what might happen if they missed their exit station the next time they took the train, alone. The older woman pointed to the map on the train wall behind them, and used her finger to guide them along the line as she explained how to navigate the map of Melbourne. They were to get off at Parliament, today, and the group carefully named the stations before and after their stop, to familiarise themselves with the suburban stations surrounding the city loop.

As the train pulled up to Parliament, what I had thought to be a group of six suddenly ballooned into a group of a much larger scale. The woman turned around and announced to the seats behind her that they were arriving at their station, and to get their Myki’s out, ready to touch off upon exiting the station. As I scanned those I’d previously ignored in the nearby seats, I began to realise what they had in common. I can only assume, but I’m fairly confident, that each of those youthful individuals were new arrivals on our shores. These people were migrants from war-torn countries, others coming from backgrounds of poverty and hardship. Some had left behind their families and friends, and all were making an enormous change in hope of a better life in a land more prosperous and filled with opportunities, than their home.

It was incredible to see how excited they were. They were so full of energy, hope and delight. They were making friends, overcoming obstacles and making the most of what life has given them. And I was able to gauge all of this from about five minutes on a train. Not even speaking with any of them directly. Just overhearing their conversation.

As they left the train and stepped onto the ground at Parliament, my eyes turned back to my newspaper. I scanned the page titled World. Bombings, corruption, hope for basic human rights and democracy, suicide. Pakistan, Iran, Turkey, Egypt. Bulgaria, Myanmar, Libya, and Syria. So much violence, and seems so far away. But it’s closer to home than many of us care to realise. We are a multicultural society, and it is so important that we continue to welcome people to our country. They may be escaping, fleeing, or simply looking for a better life. Some will stay, others may return to their homeland. But we should accept people not just for who they are, but because they are who they are. Everyone has a different story, and it is only through sharing these stories that we enrich our own lives and in turn, the lives of others.

These people appreciate what we take for granted, they persevere and fight for their human right to be treated with respect.

So in the midst the politics of 457 visas, stopping the boats, illegal immigrants and the like, maybe what we need to consider is the value of our culture as a melting pot. We should consider the risks people have taken and the choices they have made in coming to this country, and treat them as whole, and special, people. We need to stop treating people like abused animals; herding them, dictating to them,  mistreating them, and start to speak with them, as our equals.

Because that’s the right way forward for Australia. And politicians aren’t doing us, or themselves, justice, if they choose to act otherwise.

I am writing a series of pieces documenting my thoughts on the lead up to the Australian Federal Election to be held on 14 September 2013. As a young woman, it will be my first experience of voting in a Federal election. I am not endorsing any particular party or politician. All opinions are mine unless stated otherwise, and while I will try to include honest information at all times, nothing should be taken as fact without further investigation. You can view my first post here.

What. A. Day.

For Australia. For Australian politics. For democracy. For Gillard. And for the Australian Labor Party.

I almost don’t know where to begin which seems crazy in that I only learnt of today’s events at 3:15pm. As I write, it is not yet 8pm. So all this has happened, been and apparently gone, finished, done, within a matter of hours. Now, that’s not to say today’s challenge within the Labor caucus came out of the blue. Such a statement would be dismissive of much debate and controversy documented by the media over the past weeks (and months, and years, depends where you draw the line).

On Wednesday, Foreign Minister, Bob Carr, urged journalists to ‘lift their game’ as presumably false reports came in that his support for Prime Minister Julia Gillard, had dropped. While Minister Carr has been a loyal supporter of former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, for quite some time now, Carr confirmed that he was well behind the Prime Minister to lead the Australian Labor Party into the Federal Election in September this year. Despite this, no one was doubting the ruckus the Labor Party were in. This was confirmed by many, including Chief government whip Joel Fitzgibbon. However, yesterday he did say that he’d ‘not seen anything’ that would suggest today’s leadership challenge.

But late last night it became known that Simon Crean, previously thought to be a steady supporter of Gillard, was being pushed to offer himself as an alternative leader of the Labor Party. At the same time, Mental Health and Ageing Minister Mark Butler, confirmed his own support for Gillard.

All of this has occurred within the context of the last week of parliamentary sitting before the May budget. The agenda this week included the National Disability Insurance Scheme, Stephen Conroy’s proposed media reforms, the Murray Darling Basin Plan, and the national apology to those who faced forced adoptions. Much of these debates flew under the radar today, but the newly named DisabilityCare and Murray Darling Basic Plan passed, while the majority of Conroy’s media reforms did not. Most unfortunately, the apology regarding forced adoptions was largely stamped out by Simon Crean’s insensitive timing with his decision to call a leadership challenge.

The Minister for Regional Australia and the Arts demanded a ballot and simultaneously announced that he would run for Deputy if Kevin Rudd were to run for the leadership again. While Rudd has repeatedly stated he would not run for leadership, the public and to some extent, his fellow party members may have been right in thinking he would go back on his word. Politicians are known to be unreliable.

But true to character, Julia Gillard took all of the above in her stride and announced a leadership spill to take place at 4:30pm and warned jovially that others should ‘in the meantime, take your best shot’.

What followed all happened very fast. Kevin Rudd held true to his word and announced that he would not be standing for the leadership position. Thus, caucus met and Gillard and her deputy/Treasurer Wayne Swan, were reelected to their positions, unopposed.

Mr Crean has since stated that he was ‘surprised that Kevin Rudd didn’t stand’. No shit, mate. You’ve just caused a major disruption to parliament, made yourself look like a total dick on a national stage, and subsequently, you’ve been demoted to the backbench. All in a good days work, I suppose.

Many Ministers jumped on board to express their (reserved) opinions including Defence Minister Stephen Smith, who gave a calm response to the media, expressing that there were a number of people he suggested should consider their positions within the Party. Joel Fitzgibbon has already stated he would be taking the seven weeks between now and The Budget to do so, yet Smith alluded to others who should do the same. No names were mentioned. Ultimately, Smith stated ‘It’s over. That’s it.’At for the moment, it looks like it might be.

But what does this mean for the Australian Labor Party and the September election? The Party is in such a state I’m finding it hard to draw any conclusions what-so-ever, right now. But Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has sure found himself in a lovely place tonight. Additionally, Queensland Premier Campbell Newman has called for an election. He says the past two and a half years have been wasted by the Labor government at the expense of the nation.

Today has left the Labor Party in pieces. The Coalition are sure in a sunny spot and it looks like any success for the Labor Party in September has vanished. But as I tweeted in the heat of the moment this afternoon, ‘In Australia’s democracy, you vote for a Party, not a person. ALP voters must vote this way to avoid an Abbott leadership in September.’

So now it’s in our hands. You can pick and choose your people, and I’m not saying these figures are unimportant or hard to look past. But they shouldn’t necessarily dictate which party receives your vote. Remember, vote for the values, the policies and the government body as a whole. Because that’s the way our nation works. And that’s one thing that’s not changing anytime soon.

And for your entertainment, here are some screen shots of my tweets from earlier:Screen Shot 2013-03-21 at 8.48.57 PMScreen Shot 2013-03-21 at 8.49.21 PMScreen Shot 2013-03-21 at 8.49.38 PM

And this:

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