[ 19. Dec 2005 ]

Sexism and Racism at Cronulla

Two statements from antiracist forums on the racist attacks by a white crowd at Cronulla Beach in Sydney, Australia on Sunday, 11th December 2005.


Sexism and Racism at Cronulla

As everyone has rightly noted, the riots on Sunday were fuelled by racism and are the logical, if not sad outcome, of the race politics of Howard, Hanson and other conservatives (I have to say reading the media coverage of it here in Melbourne, I have been not only saddened, horrified, but not surprised, but also on the verge of tears when I think of how disgusting this all is).

Little, however, has been said about the role of sexism in the riots. The anglo racist thugs who have justified their racist behaviour have sought to do so in many instances stating that they opposed how the "Lebs" and "Arabs" treat not only "their" women but "our" women.

Reading this comments makes you realise that little has changed at Cronulla since Kathy Lette and Gabreille Carey wrote Puberty Blues (which depicted the Cronulla beach and surf culture in the late 70s from the point of view of two teenage women). The sexist yobbo surfie culture is obviously alive and well and women and girls are still seen as the property of the "surfers dudes". The mentality of these thugs see women as their property, to be treated like either virgins or whores and to be objectified and oggled at (but hey, that a good ol' Aussie value ain't it)

These racist thugs are utilising women's bodies to justify their disgusting racism and this needs to be strongly opposed. With the demise of an organised women's liberation movement, sexism is stridently on the march again. Sexists and racists, however, are trying to use patriotism and a warped version of feminism to justify their racist attacks on Muslims and Arabs (both men and women). They point supposedly to the mistreatment of women by all Arab and Muslim men but fail to recognise their own sexist behaviour.

It makes me sick everytime I pick up the paper and read the letters pages (which I do often) and read regularly racist comments about how all Muslim and Arab men supposedly treat their women but little is said about the sexist objectification of women in the media and Australian anglo culture.

As feminists and socialists we need to be standing in solidarity with not only Muslim and Arab women, but also Muslim and Arab men to campaign against not only the sexist and racist stereotyping that is taking place but also to combat real sexism and racism, across all communities and races and ethnicities.

comradely, Kim

:: source (see also comments)

Resistance statement on racist attacks

In response to the weekend's events in Cronulla, John Howard has attempted to deny the existence of "underlying racism" in Australia. Instead Howard has tried to explain the events as nothing more than a question of law and order, saying, "violence, thuggery, loutish behaviour, smashing peoples' property, intimidating people - all of those things are breaches of the law and I don't think the actions should be given some kind of special status because they occur against the background of this or that."

The "background" against which these events have occurred is exactly what Howard is trying to draw attention away from. The "background" is the government's incitement of anti-Muslim racism as a means to justify the latest "anti-terror" legislation and Australia's continued participation in the occupation of Iraq. Similarly, the Howard government has continued to whip up anti-Muslim racism in order to maintain support for the mandatory detention and deportation of refugees.

The perpetuation of such racism by the media has become particularly apparent in recent days. Describing the march in Cronulla of 5,000 "locals" carrying Australian flags and chanting racist slogans, the Daily Telegraph published that what "may have begun as a show of pride" ended in alcohol-fueled violence. It was at this demonstration that Muslim women had their headscarves torn off and a neo-Nazi group held placards bearing slogans including "Aussies fighting back". Yet from talk-back radio to broadsheet newspapers, the events have been characterized as racial or mob violence where the fault is on both sides, obscuring the source of the racism.

In response to the blatantly racist media portrayal of an "army of Muslim youth" targeting "innocent residents" we need to be clear that the actions of young people of Middle Eastern background are primarily a response to ongoing racism and discrimination rather than the source of the so-called "racial conflict". And in response to calls for increased policing of Muslim communities we need to be clear that it is such discriminatory over-policing and intimidation that is fueling frustrations.

The vilification of the Muslim community by the government and the media has legitimised overt racism and created the space for racist demonstrations such as that seen in Cronulla on Sunday. This is made worse by the absence of a real opposition to the government's racist policies, epitomised by the Labor Party's support for the anti-terror laws, allowing them to be passed last week.

As previous experience has shown the most effective way to combat racism is by uniting the broadest forces in action. This was seen in the high school student walkouts against Pauline Hanson in 1998 and community protests against the attacks on Sudanese refugees in Newcastle earlier this year.

Resistance condemns the Howard government's incitement of anti-Muslim racism that has fueled the events in Sydney. We call on the government to repeal all "anti-terror laws", stop the scapegoating of Muslims and withdraw Australian troops from Iraq immediately. In the context of the Liberal government's recent attacks on workers and unions it is more important than ever to be united. We are committed to uniting with those being victimized and persecuted in the name of the "war and terror" and by the Howard government's racist policies.

:: source, original from SydneyCentralResistance (at)