Jan 182012
 

Melinda Tankard Reist. Is the surname hyphenated or is ‘Tankard’ a family name? Uhm….does it really matter?

This woman has her name splattered right across the blogosphere currently, for reasons I am at a total loss to understand. Is it because she claims to be Baptist/Fundamentalist Christian, or because she claims to be a warrior for women’s rights? Is it because she hates porn, or because she raises the rating on ABC’s Q&A program whenever she appears? Is it because those doing the splattering are fellow gender occupants who equally don’t understand why her name is being splattered, only that it should be splattered because they don’t like her for whatever reasons?

It seems this woman attracts bile & hatred no matter where she goes or what she speaks about. Be it speaking out against abortion, free-choice, porn of any kind, gender inequality or ladies lingerie ads being stuffed into people’s letter boxes. From a male perspective, I cannot possibly hope to understand, primarily, because I’m not female. Equally, my ignorance undoubtedly stems from my appreciation for, and acceptance of pornography (only the ‘erotica’ stuff, mind you), my ardent belief that every woman has the right of governance over her own body, and the belief that women are equally self-aware as are men and just as capable of speaking up for themselves. I also enjoy flicking through ladies lingerie brochures. Yeh, I know….I’m male.

I notice that those smearing the initials MTR all over the webs – let’s face it, typing Melinda Tankard Reist is such a bandwidth waster – are all women. Without exception as far as I can tell and I’ve read almost every url posted on twitter alluding to yet another new slant on the fracas. None of the authors seem to know, or understand what the original issue stems from, other than a blogger by the name of Jennifer Wilson (see her blog ‘no place for sheep’) has accused Reist of hiding her religiosity in her crusades against “the objectification of women and sexualisation of girls in Australia and globally”. What impact religion has on campaigns against porn, inequality, gender bias (in itself a two way street) or other forms of demeaning women, I’m at a loss to understand. Religion in & of itself can be a powerful driver for all manner of socially conservative leanings, but I prefer not to comment on people’s faith-oriented beliefs, save that they ought to keep them to themselves. I believe in Dragons, but you won’t find me spouting that belief to all & sundry. MTR’s own website makes no mention of her religious beliefs, but then, why should it? Is religion related to objectification or sexualisation of women & girls? Yes, alright, I know what the Bible says in certain passages, but let’s not further complicate an already complicated issue.

I think, or at least I get the impression, that a lot of the anti-opinion revolves around the issue of feminism. I’ve yet to read, hear or see a sharply defined statement of what feminism really is. Wiki says Feminism is a movement dedicated to the freedom of women to express themselves as women and no objects or chattels of men. Or something like that anyway. The site provides a long-winded treatise aimed at gender equality as far as I can tell. Gender equality, in my view, is not an objective subject, but entirely within the purview of the individual observer. For example, I don’t see ladies lingerie brochures as objectifying the women who appear scantily clad within. Said women are highly paid models doing a job of work which they willingly agree to perform. Ditto with actresses in porn flicks, as far as I’m concerned. No-one forces anyone to do things they don’t want to do. Those who allow themselves to be exploited, male or female, deserve whatever angst eventuates. We’re all adults, are we not?

Jack-the-Insider postulates the whole ‘catfight’ as he calls it, revolves around a determined section of the so-called feminist movement which seeks to constrain our use of the English language. I dunno, Jack, I think you’re pulling hard on a long bow there. Whatever it’s really all about, one thing shines out above all else. Melinda Tankard Reist is not well liked among the more seemingly emancipated of the feminine gender, at least in Australian culture. Whether it’s because she’s a closet Christian, vehement anti-abortionist, anti-pornography activist or politically correct pursuer of a ‘kinder, gentler’ usage of the English language in regard to the feminine gender, she doesn’t seem to attract bouquets, more than brickbats. For mine, pursuit of the MTRs of the world through a weblog seems to me to be the epitome of shouting into a howling gale. Still, to each their own. If Jennifer Wilson wants to take issue with whether or not MTR (Ye Gods, I’m doing it now as well!) admits or hides her religiosity, then that too is her thing to do.

Frankly, the entire issue, as raised by Jennifer, and responded to by Reist, as well as every other feminist commentator, wanna-be commentator, Twitterati or casual blogger seems to have as much relevance to the feminist movement, pro/anti-choice/abortion/pornography/ladies lingerie catalogues/English language issues as my writing about whether or not my bowels moved today. I’m certain no-one wants to read about that. Just as no-one really gives a continental about a personal shit-fight between two grown women who hate each other’s guts for inadequately elucidated reasons. Now….I really must nip off to the bog. I feel a movement of my own coming on.