Clubs Australia Knows Its Heartland

If you have a tendency to roll your eyes to the back of your skull on hearing the term “un-Australian“, brace yourself. Starting from Monday next week, you’re going to hear it a lot more. Across newspapers, radio, television and the internet, a $2 million advertising campaign funded by Clubs Australia is going to hammer in the idea that independent Tasmanian MP Andrew Wilkie’s proposed pokie machine reforms — supported by the Federal Government and a reported two-thirds of polled Australians — is un-Australian.

Still, for a campaign that hinges upon ideas of national identity, it’s almost heartening to see that Clubs Australia’s idea of Australian-ess is a broad, multicultural one. Their website might predominantly be in English, but they also provide their anti-pokies-reform message via PDFs in other languages from the homepage. Jeremy Bath, spokesperson for Clubs Australia, says they want to ensure the message is heard among all communities. “This is a campaign for all Australians,” he tells New Matilda. “We want to make sure that every Australian — whether they’re of non-English speaking background, or even, indeed, if they don’t speak English — understands the ramifications of what’s being proposed by Andrew Wilkie’s poker machine reforms.” Continue reading

The Forms of Androgyny

It’s hard to talk about androgynous people. To clarify: this isn’t because of any social taboos or prejudice, but something more literal — people who don’t identify as male nor as female are actually difficult to discuss, because English doesn’t allow people to identify as gender neutral. All of our third-person pronouns are categorised by the male-female binary. People are either “he” or “she”. You can’t use “it” — it sounds dehumanising — and “they” can be grammatically awkward.

One way of getting around this is to adopt a new pronoun altogether. In March, Sydney-based Norrie (who has chosen to abandon the family name May-Welby) introduced many of us to “zie”, in place of “he” or “she”. Norrie — who began life as a male-to-female transsexual, before opting out of male-female distinctions — made headlines when the Sydney Morning Herald declared “hir” (not him, not her) the first person recognised by the state as neuter.

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