In a stab at “reputation management”, hospital which is what overpriced fuckers are calling self-promotion these days, case I list recent writing published online.
(Bound to remain out-of-date at all times other than those when I have a book overdue to the publisher.)
Is it organic? When lifestyle choices have gone too far | SBS
Razer: Erin Heatherton and the pains of a lingerie model | Daily Review
Helen Razer: Barbie dolls don’t cause domestic violence | Crikey
The big engine of racism | SBS Life
Razer: The Media’s brand of sexism is more newsworthy and glamourous than yours | Daily Review
Helen Razer: Donald Trump vulgarity vs Barack Obama | Crikey
Spiritual tourism | SBS Life
Razer: Confessions of an ultra-racist, millenial Nazi whore | Daily Review
Helen Razer: Safe Schools, Safe Neoliberalism | Crikey
Helen Razer: Mother Teresa was terrible | Crikey
Razer: Kim Kardashian’s Moment of Righteous Feminist Candour | Daily Review
Helen Razer: International Women’s Day has sold out | Crikey
Razer on Peta Credlin, Niki Savva and primordial female horror | Daily Review
Helen Razer: end negative gearing, capital gains tax concessions | Crikey
Razer on the Oscars Red Carpet: Who are you wearing? | Daily Review
Ascribing meaning to reality TV | The Saturday Paper
Helen Razer: how Andrew Bolt, the right stopped being funny | Crikey
Razer: Rob Thomas, racist jokes, and how to apologise like you mean it | Daily Review
Helen Razer: Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders do politics right | Crikey
Razer on the Lawrence Mooney stoush (and where you can stick your opinion) | Daily Review
Helen Razer: Nauru asylum seekers our fault | Crikey
Razer: ABC2 is a treatment plant for cultural waste | Daily Review
Helen Razer: vitamins are ineffective and dangerous | Crikey
Razer reviews ‘I’m a Celebrity’: get me out of this colonial nightmare! | Daily Review
Helen Razer: how left and right both love outrage | Crikey
Je Suis Mark Latham: Razer on Charlie Hebdo, free speech and former Labor leaders | Daily Review
Helen Razer: $2 Target shirt outrage | Crikey
Razer on James Franco, Bachelor bath pics and why better entertainment won’t make for a better world | Daily Review
Wetsboro, contemporary feminism and the diminishing difference between them | Crikey
Helen Razer: on David Bowie’s life and death | Crikey
Razer: what can we learn from the Chris Gayle incident? Absolutely nothing | Daily Review
Razer: Carol, Suffragette and insufferable, Oscar-bait ‘Social Issues’ movies | Daily Review
Helen Razer: 2015 year in review | Crikey
Razer: Turnbull’s arts credentials go down the toilet | Daily Review
Helen Razer: Bill Leak Australian cartoon is racist, that is the point | Crikey
Gay shame and “acceptable” LGBTI heroes | SBS
The Year in Stupid Shit: Razer’s 10 worst of 2015 | Daily Review
Helen Razer: Malcolm Turnbull’s innovation plan sux | Crikey
Razer: why violent threats don’t make a commentator ‘important’ | Daily Review
Helen Razer: John Safran, Father Bob leave Triple J | Crikey
Razer: ‘rock star’ economist Yanis Varoufakis and the perils of U2 | Daily Review
Zoolander 2 boycott is really, really, ridiculously dumb | SBS
Helen Razer: more money needed for mental health services | Crikey
Adam Hills says cystitis, Razer says ISIS | Daily Review
Aziz Ansari’s new TV series ‘Master of None’ | The Saturday Paper
Telstra Businesswoman of the Year Award & feminism | Crikey
Razer: imagine there’s no history, you don’t even need to try | Daily Review
Helen Razer: Michelle Bridges right, gardeners are freaks | Crikey
Razer: Warm ‘understanding’ is no match for cold fact | Daily Review
Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina adapted for ‘The Beautiful Lie’ | The Saturday Paper
Junkee Junket unconference and empowerment | Crikey
Germaine Greer is ruining the world again | Daily Review
Waterwise tips to beat this summer’s killer heat | The Saturday Paper
Silicon Valley, Wyatt Roy embrace tech speak weasel words | Crikey
Razer: Sam de Brito the dissident | Daily Review
Helen Razer: Grace Bellavue an advocate for sex work | Crikey
Razer: The sad ascension of Amy Schumer | Daily Review
Razer: The road to hell is paved by Bono | Daily Review
The nightmare of anxiety that’s all your fault | Crikey
Helen Razer’s mea culpa (and the tyranny of internet debate) | Daily Review
TV’s new prime-time soap opera ‘Empire’ | The Saturday Paper
Bindi Irwin is no ‘role model’ | SBS News
Razer climbs on the Blockhead Express aka The Verdict | Daily Review
Helen Razer: we need gun control, but economic control more important | Crikey
Not so nice: Razer on ABC’s guileless Mental Health Week | Daily Review
Hermione’s opinion and the philosopher’s tone | SBS News
Karen the activist typical of futile awareness ads | Crikey
Razer: Lena Dunham has no place in politics | Daily Review
How society disables people with disabilities | SBS News
Malcolm Turnbull’s cabinet appointments not good for women | Crikey
Turnbull’s Ikea catalogue moment: The 21st century cabinet | Daily Review
Comment: Don’t blame skinny models for anorexia | SBS News
Tony Abbott’s worst 10 moments as prime minister | Crikey
Razer: Not the Boy Next door is not your usual home grown crap | Daily Review
Comment: Brave, #SoBrave and The Project’s gooey TV | SBS News
Helen Razer: Tony Abbott’s Syrian refugee decision political cunning | Crikey
Razer on the refugee crisis, the banality of evil and futility of ‘compassion’ | Daily Review
How To Stop Caring — Medium
Australia bombing Syria to win Canning byelection | Crikey
Razer: beauty, the market, and the lies of the ‘makeup free revolution’ | Daily Review
Australianising American news satire | The Saturday Paper
Helen Razer: civil discourse is nonsense | Crikey
Razer on Romance writers: These broads have no time for nonsense | Daily Review
Helen Razer: Mark Latham is the Kim Kardashian of Labor | Crikey
Melbourne Writers Festival: Helen Razer’s picks | Daily Review
Razer: Don’t look for moral guidance from sport stars – or sport writers | Daily Review
Helen Razer: gay marriage good for the Liberal Party | Crikey
Razer: The GOP, Donald Trump and other period dramas | Daily Review
Growing berries | The Saturday Paper
Helen Razer: Bronwyn Bishop, Tony Burke travel scandals overblown | Crikey
Razer on MKR’s legal push to have Hotplate turned off | Daily Review
Helen Razer: Sharman Stone’s women quotas idea is potty | Crikey
Razer at the ALP Conference: why Labor can’t stage manage itself | Daily Review
Mr Robot’s fresh take on hacking | The Saturday Paper
Helen Razer: Jimmy Barnes’ Reclaim Australia facebook post out of proportion | Crikey
Amy Schumer review (Arts Centre, Melbourne) | Daily Review
Razer on the outrage economy: see no evil, tweet no evil | Daily Review
Helen Razer: NRA’s gun control message about Australia ridiculous | Crikey
Razer on the so-called lost innocence of that hot liberal daddy, Atticus Finch | Daily Review
Halal Food Labelling | Crikey
Razer: state sanctioned gay marriage is defeat by assimilation | Daily Review
Helen Razer: report on Muslim radicalisation misrepresented by media | Crikey
Top Gear’s Jeremy Clarkson: the simpler baby of Auberon Waugh and Benny Hill | Daily Review
Helen Razer: Tony Abbott’s ‘evil’ invocation and ISIS | Crikey
Razer: Gen X is culpable for its offspring’s online vulnerability | Daily Review
Helen Razer: Julia Gillard’s advice to Hillary Clinton on sexism | Crikey
Razer: Katy Perry, naked yoga and ridding yourself of the flab of social order | Daily Review
Razer on price hikes, Rachel cuts and the Herald Sun | Daily Review
Helen Razer: Fred Nile’s gay QandA a useless program | Crikey
Magna Carta is meaningless – Late Night Live – ABC Radio National | ABC
Razer on Caitlyn Jenner’s Vanity Fair makeover: so what’s not to like? | Daily Review
Helen Razer is against same-sex marriage because marriage itself is the problem | Crikey
Razer on Australia’s Top Model: the only reality show that refuses to lie | Daily Review
Into the rainbow with the Muppets | The Saturday Paper
Helen Razer: tampon tax a distraction, GST should be rolled back | Crikey
Razer: when great art happens to terrible people | Daily Review
Helen Razer: Western liberal feminism is wrong about capitalism | Crikey
Helen Razer: the Mad Men finale and the loss of nostalgia | Daily Review
Helen Razer: Pete Evans and the Paleo cult are tools of capitalism | Crikey
Razer: lads’ mags and bad girls aren’t the problem | Daily Review
The Butterfly Foundation, awareness campaign on eating disorders | Crikey
The Royal birth and serving up the lie of normal parenthood with a McFlurry spoon | Daily Review
Helen Razer: penis emojis banned by Instagram | Crikey
Razer on hoaxes from Ern Malley to Belle Gibson (the Quinoa Demidenko of our times) | Daily Review
Broad City set to become this decade’s Seinfeld | The Saturday Paper
Helen Razer: Mental Health Commission report shows services lacking | Crikey
Razer on Madonna: being and nothingness and the material girl | Daily Review
Razer on Dallas Buyers Club and co-opting gays for profit | Daily Review
Helen Razer: Woolworths Anzac Day campaign appropriate | Crikey
MICF: Rich Hall 3:10 to Humour review | Daily Review
MICF: Suren Jayemanne Eat Praline, Die review | Daily Review
MICF: Luke Heggie You’re Not Special review | Daily Revie
Dallas Buyers Club: how the gays have been co-opted for profit | Crikey
MICF: Paco Ehard in Worst. German. Ever review | Daily Review
MICF: Dave Bloustien The Tinder Profile of Dorian Gray review | Daily Review
Razer on the Daily Show’s Trevor Noah and the ‘lunatics’ calling out his unfunny tweeting past | Daily Review
Helen Razer: Jeremy Clarkson and Top Gear the end of an era | Crikey
Razer: how the ‘offence debate’ misses the point of comedy | Daily Review
Paleo is a Stupid Cult and it is Killing People | Crikey
The Appearance of Feminism | Sheilas
Lamenting The Hoopla as the media eats itself yet again | Daily Review
War of the weeds | The Saturday Paper
You, not your iPhone, are the gravest threat to your kid | Crikey
Razer: X Factor is not your moral guardian | Daily Review
Q&A’s false democracy | The Saturday Paper
Razer: how Zoolander was a cultural hero in dark 2001 | Daily Review
Helen Razer: Tony Abbott attacks United Nations for lecturing | Crikey
Razer on Mark Latham’s Harden Up prescription for the depressed chattering class | Daily Review
Razer: On “Acceptable” art and hiding Shakespeare’s racism | Daily Review
Helen Razer: negative gearing should go, renting is just fine | Crikey
Razer: beware of false gods and American presidents | Daily Review
Razer: Abbott govt plays distraction politics with AHRC report | Crikey
Metadata retention: Stay awake – it will affect you | Daily Review
A couple of weeks back, treatment
I wrote a post that went, if not viral, then just a little bit sick. It was one of those popular outbursts we see people have on social media wherein I told folks (in this case, those who believe that Islam is intrinsically evil) to go and fuck themselves. I did this in part because I find sentiment of the type lacking in logic, but mostly because a Muslim pal was copping shit.
Since muggins here did her thing on Facebook, several people have sought permission to republish the post and many more have published it in any case. Someone even asked me if they could set it to music. I said no. Because I regret writing it, and I wanted to explain why.
(Have a cuppa, this is not going to be short. You know me. I fucking go on.)
Let me say that the post was a fair summation of how I *feel* about intolerance of the type. As an address in a public forum, however, it does not represent how I think about intolerance of the type.
Telling people to go and fuck themselves is wrong; and not just because it’s impolite. It is wrong because it locates intolerance of the type in the individual, and not in the society that produced that intolerance. I write unstintingly with the difference between a society and an individual in mind, except on the day I wrote that post. Understanding this distinction and this relationship is central to my worldview. In hundreds of articles a year that few people read, I talk about society and plead with people to think that individualism is an ideology, and not a natural thing that just *is*’. And when I posted that “go fuck yourself” thing, I addressed individuals and made them responsible for a social disorder. Because I was in a mood and not thinking clearly. And it’s probably going to stand as the most “shared” item I’ve ever written. Shit.
I believe those of us who are concerned about the rise of intolerance of the type must return, again and again, to this idea of society, and not individuals, producing such sentiment. And, no, I am not letting deeply intolerant or fact-averse people off the hook here. I am not saying we need to love them or talk in a reasonable way if they are doing something awful. But I am saying, for the sake of the future and the fuck, that we MUST think about what we are doing when we criticise them, instead of criticising the society that produced that sentiment.
It is at about this point in my argument that someone always says “This is bullshit. Society is made of individuals, Razer is a suckhole and I am cancelling my subscription.” But, there is a real difference, and I think you can see it if you try. Societies are machines. They are not individual people. They are big and they have their own logic which often overwhelms individual intervention. You may be able to think about this in terms, say, of the nations from which a lot of asylum seekers are currently fleeing. You may permit yourself to understand how some people in Iraq might be coerced by economic and social factors and opportunistic leaders into thinking a certain way about the west . But,what you may not see so clearly is that some people in the west can be coerced by economic and social factors and opportunistic leaders into thinking in a certain way about Iraqis. You say that it’s all their fault. As though that fault were produced just by the individual, and not by the society the fault serves.
Intolerance serves a (terrible) purpose. Just as intolerance of the west serves ISIS, intolerance of Islam serves Australia’s investment class. All these people blaming Islam for the shit that they find themselves in, never blaming the rent-seekers who actually put them in the shit. This works really nicely for society’s richest people and entities. Yay, the underclass is fighting itself.
If I were to meet, say, a young Iraqi man whose desperate parents had given him to a radical mullah as a boy because, you know, the US and its allies have bombed all the schools in Iraq, and I spoke to him reasonably about his loathing for my nation, I wouldn’t achieve much, right? If I said, “Habibi. We’re not ALL like that,” he wouldn’t give a shit. It is unreasonable to expect him to give a shit. It is unreasonable to expect him to lift himself in an instant from years of ideology (I would say at this point that Islam is not an ideology, it’s a faith, but that’ll just provoke more intolerance in the comments) formed in poverty and war. If I gave him an awareness ribbon, if I told him to “just love” or if I told him to go and fuck himself, none of this would work.
Okay. Well, it doesn’t work on people who can’t afford air-conditioning in mining electorates, either.
There are SO many things that produce intolerance. A lack of needs-based education funding for starters. A stagnant wage. Experience of domestic violence, which occurs more often in impoverished homes. (Cue, feminist comment saying “all women suffer equally under patriarchy”. No, they don’t.) The knowledge that you’ll never have anywhere permanent to live. Insecurity (real insecurity, I’m not talking about vague-fear-of-terrorism Sonia Kruger insecurity here) makes people insecure. And, you know, it is really fucking difficult to think and to love, especially when you’ve got little education and no aircon and dad’s whacked you and called you a poofter again.
Some of the world’s best minds grapple with the stuff of society and how its arrangement produces particular attitudes, and they’re still confused. So, you tell me how some poor white kid in western Sydney is going to think about this complexity. When someone comes along, like P Hanson, and not only gives voice to your sense of persecution but gives you what feels like a big, social solution to your very shitty life, you might think, “Yeah. It’s the brown people and those gays with scholarships getting all the stuff that belongs to me”.
The young man from Iraq. The young man from Mount Druitt. They’ve got more in common than you think.
Like a lot of terrible things, intolerance is pretty complex. It does not arise for a single reason. It does not have a simple history. As such, it does not have a simple solution. I know that people mean well when they write or say or broadcast something simple and emotional. When they declare “My answer is to love everyone” or, as was my answer, “everyone go and fuck yourself”, they mean well. But the road to hell is paved with passionate posts on Facebook. (And I should have kept my Strong Feelings to myself. I guess what I’m saying is, ergh, “Sorry”.)
I do not claim to have diagrammed all the causes for intolerance. I don’t have a nice infographic I can post. But I will say that if we do not consider harsh economic conditions as a significant factor in the rise of intolerance in Australia and in other western nations, then we are fools.
I am from a white working class family. However, I am not an intolerant person (well, not of social categories of people, just of fucking everything) due largely to the social wealth I experienced. I grew up in a time when my parents, neither of whom finished secondary education, could afford to buy a home. Four doors down was a pretty decent state school. I am legally blind and like many disabled kids back then, I was afforded extra funding to make my education useful. Close to us was a nice library, built from the belief that citizens who pay taxes deserve knowledge, inter alia, in return. It genuinely never occurred to me for the first nine years of my life to think of brown people as inferior, dangerous or somehow more or less persecuted than I was. Then, I heard some white kid call a brown kid a bad name and when I asked my dad what it meant, he said, “It means that the kid that said the bad name comes from a poor family”.
And, much of the time, that’s still what it means. And we fucking alleged “progressives” very rarely take this into account. We correct their spelling, we call them idiots and we say “why don’t you check your facts”. I don’t know. Maybe after ten hours on the floor at Target, all you have time or inclination to do is smoke a bowl.
And, no. To be gracelessly clear, I am not saying that you should feel sorry for such persons. I am not saying they get a free pass because life is tough. No more than, say, Islamists should.
I mean, do I need to actually say to my tens of readers that some persons in aspiring Islamist states became extreme in their views because they didn’t have a choice? And I know bombs aren’t raining down in Lindsay, but things are pretty shit there, all the same. And they are shit in a way that I, having been educated reasonably well and produced by good social policy settings that have now been switched in favour of investors, cannot imagine.
But, we must try to imagine why people are becoming so intolerant and blaming their lot on a particular ethnic or religious group. And you must think how fatuous you seem are and how extreme your privilege appears when you urge them to use “respectful” language. They see, and not without reason, such verbal shifts as the hobby of a class with greater leisure. They think that if you have enough time on your hands to chastise them for wearing Native American headdress to a costume party or to ask them not to use “gay” as a slur, that you’re on a better wicket that they are.
And you know what? Much of the time, they’re right. Individualist progressivism is a middle-class pursuit. It’s also an ideology.
We “progressives” no longer think about solidarity with people whose lives and labour conditions have been screwed. There are certain of these people we might lend our support to, sometimes. But we largely consider the chief measures of progressivism to be things like respectful language and same-sex marriage and being “culturally sensitive”. We have little interest in fighting for wealth equality and even less than in admitting that this lack of equality is, in part, what produces intolerance.
We are culturally sensitive but we are no longer socially and economically sensitive. The ALP took the decision more than twenty years ago to turn its back on its working class base. They appeal to people like you and me who have evolved or inherited a middle-class sensibility and just love it when Shorten says something to Corey Bernardi like, “At least I’m not a homophobe”.
Now, I am a queer person and I have very good reason to loathe homophobia. But I am also a citizen of a nation so busy talking about cultural sensitivity, it has no obvious interest in economic and social reform. Why is Shorten wasting his time trading personal insults with an idiot, when he could be talking trade? Which has FUCKED us. And has fucked so many people so badly, they become intolerant.
And, no. I am not saying there was a golden time in Australia. I know, I know. The White Australia Policy. But, if we can preserve what is good about our cultural sensitivity and let it, please, take a back seat for a while to social sensitivity, we could drive into the future without crashing.
Progressives will not admit these culturally insensitive people to their movement. Progressives have come to believe in the idea of the good individual. All this “It all starts with you” shit. Fucking, balls. I think the idea of the good individual is an ideology as extreme as Islamism or as intolerance of the type I’ve been describing. And I know it’s extreme, because so many people who believe it can’t recognise it as a belief. (N.B. I recognise my beliefs as beliefs. I might come across as smug. That is largely because I am an arsehole. But still, an arsehole who acknowledges her beliefs.)
You think an intolerant person or an Islamist thinks they’re extreme? No, they don’t. They think they’re utterly logical. So do the “It All Starts With Me” and “If I Can Touch Just One Person” mob who make up the progressive rainbow army of the present. It might feel all nice and fluffy and right-minded, all this compassion talk. But, I’m telling you, this individual shit is extreme.
We can use the respectful language. We can do the eco-tourism. We can buy fair trade chocolates and teach our children that some people have two mummies and tell newcomers that we’re very interested in their culture. But we must not expect that everyone can do this before we see them as our comrades.
We cannot demand of a white underclass in Australia “be tolerant” unless we offer them solidarity and solutions in return. Which we do not. Because we’re so far up our own fundaments with awareness ribbons and respectful this and compassionate that, we do not consider their problem of poverty a problem. Notwithstanding that poverty is, in large part, responsible for their intolerance. We progressives really do think of them as the undeserving poor.
(Not all of intolerance is down to poverty. As I said, intolerance is complex. Especially in the case of that directed toward this nation’s indigenous peoples. That’s some deep psychological shit, as well as economic. I’ve already gone on too long. But. Just. FFS. Follow the money, people.)
If I were wired just a little differently, I am pretty sure I’d be on the wrong side of the culture war, right now. I would look at my pay packet and see the loss of my leave, superannuation and right to a steady job and say, “It’s the foreigners”. And, it is the foreigners, although not the ones an intolerant person might think. It’s a very small group of them who have accumulated a great deal of wealth and, with it, immense power.
That’s how I, and others, see the world. And we see it this way largely because we had access to a comprehensive education. And this education stops us from going completely bonkers when we watch someone experiencing or administering intolerance, because we feel we have some idea of the social conditions that produced such acts. We believe that we can change the settings if only we have a true solidarity.
These days in Australia, most progressives see only the intolerant individual, not the society that produces intolerance. And for just as long as we remain fixated on individual morality and not the kind of social policy that will buy a blind kid a typing tutor or a mother a home, we will not be a progressive movement.
You don’t just break someone out of ideology with kindness OR the instruction that they should go and fuck themselves. However, on this occasion, I am telling those who believe in individualism as an account of society to go and fuck themselves, just a bit.
And, yeah, I am sorry that I wrote that thing.