Australian Lefty on Politics, Governance, Science and Info Management

Review of recent QuadRant articles

Posted by Dave Bath on 2008-08-04

The current (Jul/Aug 2003) edition of QuadRant, the journal of the self-styled intellectual right, has three articles worthy of mention, although for very different reasons.

While a future post will cover the essay by Australia’s Red Menace, Cardinal Pell, which argues against human rights, the subjects of my current article are:

Warning: I’d rate the post over the fold as MA16+ (SV), even though I’ve softened some of the quotes from QuadRant, a magazine that SHOULD have added explicit warnings on the cover of this issue.

Nelson on Iraq

This article (see original at QuadRant) raises the significant questions of how Nelson became federal parliamentary leader of the Liberal Party.  Either the other members were stupid, or they conspired in one of the few occasions in history where a leader was chosen to realize all his potential by being cannon-fodder.

Imagine a 15-year old debating team member forced to put a positive spin on "what we achieved in Vietnam" and you get a fair idea of this essay: supporting the unjustifiable, the unacceptable, with focus on the most trivial side-issues.

After parroting the Bush/Howard lies about weapons of mass destruction (still!), Half-Nelson’s main efforts are in two parts:

  • Since "the surge" Iraq is less of a disaster than it was.  This reminds me of a drunk-driver saying "I’ve paid for the rehabilitation of the person I ran over – and they’ll be getting out of the wheelchair real soon now".
  • Our soldiers are praiseworthy, and we should be proud of them.  As justification for the orders of their political masters, this is weak – like justifying Nazi warmongery by pointing to Rommel’s intelligence and honorable behaviour.

The only virtue justifying publication of this by QuadRant is the nominal position of the author as leader of the federal opposition – although whether this is to boost his credibility, or to let him expose himself as someone who should be sidelined, and thus improve the chances of the Liberal Party in the next election is difficult to guess.

Reist on pornification of children

This necessary and forceful essay (see original at QuadRant) could grace any serious journal of the left or the right.  If I was an editor of "The Monthly", I’d be seeking republication rights to give this article the readership it deserves.

Reist presents a catalog of atrocities greater than any I’ve seen before concerning her subject.  This list, even if put together and annotated by a barely literate dolt would remain totally convincing.

Just reading the list made me feel dirty, guilty be association for being a member of a society that tolerates such things as the following three excerpts:

  • The "Peek-aboo" pole dancing kit was marketed online for children through a British toy company.  With it came a "sexy" garter belt and a DVD "demonstrating suggestive dance moves".  Its users could "unleash the sex kitten inside" and flaunt it to the world.  There are also pole "fitness" classes for children in Sydney.
  • "All nine Bratz BabyzTM know how to flaunt it, and they’re keepin’ it real in the crib!" say their manufacturers.  It’s the sluts-r-us approach to childhood play.
  • A content analysis by the Australia Institute (reported in Corporate Paedophilia of girls’ magazines found that approximately half of the content of Total Girl and Disney Girl, and three quarters of the content of Barbie Magazine is sexualizing material.

The full list contains much more shocking material, especially some of the T-shirt slogans for infants, which include (I’m embarrassed merely quoting these, but they need to be exposed):

  • I’m too sexy for my diaper
  • All Daddy wanted was a blow job

It’s not an issue about girls as victims.  Boys too have their humanity degraded, perhaps twisted permanently to the bestial parts of our nature by slogans mentioned by Reist such as:

  • Hung like a 5-year old

When my daughter was a "tween" a decade ago, as a single custodial parent I was forced to take my daughter shopping for "girlie" stuff, including bras and dolls.  I thought things were bad enough then, but it seems to have plummeted even further.

As for magazines my daughter would sneakily borrow from her friends as a tween (like Dolly and Girlfriend) that contain profiles of 12 and 13 year olds, Reist highlights things that make me sure the publishers (and any advertiser in editions after the following) should be locked up under laws against paedophilia (I’ve put in more dot-dot-dots and braces):

… a section entitled "OMG my boyfriend wants me to…(three sex acts including one that risks internal injury)"… Does Dolly tell dear reader that she can refuse such demands?  No.  Does it suggest that this could constitute a criminal act depending on their respective ages?  No.  Does Dolly suggest a new boyfriend who respects her wishes if she doesn’t want to engage in these acts?  No.  It just gives a clinical description of (…) with no advice at all apart from using a condom or dental dam.

Reist might even go further if QuadRant would permit a deconstruction of why the penetration of a market segment, the predation on young consumers (and probably encouragement of paedophiles): it’s the inevitable result of consumerism and unreasonable freedoms granted to money.

Reist doesn’t explore the hypocrisy of those railing against obviously artistic and subtle photographs by Henson or on the cover of Art Monthly, while giving Disney, Mattel, clothing manufacturers and tween-targetting publishers open slather to exploit the vulnerable and titallate the unforgiveable.

From what I saw, the photographs by Henson and Art Monthly are best described as essays in light and shade, not unlike (and probably more innocent in motive) than many renaissance paintings and sculptures.  Such images targetted quiet contemplation by a limited audience, not the pockets and bodies of young girls across the nation by big multinationals.

Reist doesn’t point out the hypocrisy by political leaders in the ALP and Liberal Party.  Reist doesn’t ask questions about what motivates such hypocrisy.  Perhaps it’s because QuadRant won’t allow hard questions about big money and big corporations, and the almost inevitable resulting corruption of politicians and society as a whole.

When kids in nappies are placed in explicit sexual contexts, and such products are only in shops because demographic profiling tells manufacturers there is a significant market, it’s not just the manufacturers, but the purchasing parents that should be ashamed.

You have to wonder about the nature of free markets.  This deserves analysis by the left for the unwashed masses, who are unswayed by the calculus of inequality, but might wake up to the exploitation of their own children.

No, perhaps those parents who buy these T-shirts and toys will remain in denial for this, as for so many other issues.

PM KRudd labelled Henson and Art Monthly as "disgusting", yet finds no reason to criticize the sexualization of children by transnational corporations.  Perhaps if artists were significant political donors, or if corporations were prevented from bankrolling political parties, KRudd and Liberal Party leaders would be criticizing those that deserve it.  If the sexualization of children for commercial gain isn’t prostitution, the silence and inaction by politicians against large corporations certainly is.

Sic transit gloria lucri.  It is inevitably thus.


2 Responses to “Review of recent QuadRant articles”

  1. […] new QuadRant is soooooo wrong 2008-08-09 — Dave Bath After reviewing two QuadRant articles a few days back, it time another, not written by an idiot like Nelson, nor worthy like Reist’s, but by […]

  2. […] course there are occasional articles that are serious so the larger joke is non-obvious:  Reist’s article "The pornification of girlhood" next to the brilliant Nelson’s "What we have achieved in Iraq".  Actually the […]

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