Q&A recap: How to forgive a rapist and other stories

Posted August 20th, 2019 by admin and filed in 苏州美甲美睫培训
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The ABC’s venerable Q&A has been under attack from all sides this year. It’s stale, its critics assert. It’s aggressive. It’s boring. It’s filled with obvious left wing bias. It’s obviously pandering to the conservatives.

About the only thing that its attackers have been able to agree upon is that whatever it’s doing, it’s doing it too much and also too little, and definitely the wrong way.

Fortunately the annual episode based around the Sydney Opera House’s massively successful All About Women festival, timed to coincide with International Women’s Day on March 8, showed what Q&A does better than any other show on Australian television: digging deep into the knowledge and experience of smart, interesting people. And they did it without feeling any pressure to have some bloviating anti-feminist jackass on for the sake of some nebulous idea of “balance”.

Instead there was a hell of a panel: Icelandic anti-violence campaigner Thordis Elva, Malaysian-Chinese-American journalist Mei Fong, US author and performer Lindy West, actor/journalist Faustina ‘Fuzzy’ Agolley and Josephine Cashman, lawyer and former prime ministerial chief advisor on indigenous family violence.

Agolley and Cashman were at a disadvantage with the experienced and composed international guests, with Cashman in particular straying to her area of expertise in indigenous public policy regardless of the topic under discussion.

But the main person who seemed to struggle was Tony Jones, whose habit of interrupting guests mid-sentence seemed even more pronounced here.

Now, before we go on: get your gadget of choice and either download or cue up the ABC iView app because if you missed this episode you’re going to need to watch it, and if you watched it you’re likely to want to watch it again. And gents, this especially applies to us.

That’s because if the only thing that was discussed was Elva’s book South of Forgiveness and subsequent live events in which she collaborates with Australian Thomas Stranger – who raped her two decades ago when she was 16 and when he was an exchange student in Iceland – then this episode would have been must-watch television.

Elva’s summary of what took place and of what happened when she wrote him a letter nine years later letting him know just how much damage he had done is impossible to summarise and still do it justice.

But in a society so eager to see sexual violence as a silly mistake which young upstanding men can easily and understandably make (as happened in last year’s shocking US case of Stanford rapist Brock Turner, as Fong astutely pointed out), it’s incredible to hear a woman calmly and straightforwardly talk about the legacy of her rape, and to painstakingly explain precisely what she means when she says that she’s “forgiven” him.

“Forgiveness is not dependent on the perpetrators’ remorse,” she makes clear. “Forgiveness was never for him. In my view it’s the polar opposite: it was for me, so I could let go of the shame and self blame that was corroding me.”

This might have been the most viscerally affecting moment of the program, but it wasn’t the only highlight.

There was the discussion of the mooted ‘Day Without Women’ protest in which women worldwide would down tools and walk off the job to illustrate the degree to which the workforce relies on them. Elva cited the 1975 women’s strike in Iceland which changed the nation’s laws; Fong countered that there was a female-led protest against sexual harassment in China a few years ago, and “these feminists were put in prison. Having the power to protest is so powerful.”

Need more? How about West’s spirited takedown of the faux-concern that amounts to body shaming of fat people, insisting that fat acceptance was necessary even if you believe that people need to be fit and healthy, since “you can’t take good care of something that you hate.”

Or Fong’s blunt assessment of China’s now-repealed one child policy, which has “created a set of problems that won’t go away for another 20 or 30 years.”

And then there was the excellent discussion of revenge porn and the need for cultural change, which Cashman pointed out requires legislation, comparing it with the way that drink driving became unacceptable in Australia. “You knew that if you had high blood alcohol levels, you’re going to jail. Why can’t we do that with laws to protect women?”

This was Q&A at its best, leaving the combative back and forth aside to give the guests room to breathe and the nuances of the topics under discussion be properly explored. Any amount of political tantrums is worth it if we occasionally get episodes as compelling as this.

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