Each week we share five exciting and provocative ideas, links and articles making waves on the internet.
THE STRANGE WORLD OF COACHING COLLEGES IN AUSTRALIA’S SUBURBS
Alice Pung, writing for The Monthly, takes a look at the way education is being used as a ticket to shifting class, particularly for the children of migrant parents. Hundreds of colleges around the country drill children in the art of passing exams and winning scholarships, instilling them with the motto ‘whatever it takes.’
WHY ARE WOMEN IN THE 21ST CENTURY STILL TAKING THEIR HUSBAND’S NAMES?
That is the question Clementine Ford asked this week on The Drum, and it’s a question which provoked a huge response when we posted the article on our Facebook page. “The answer most commonly offered in its defence,” Ford writes, “Is that feminism is about choice, and therefore such a practice should be immune from critique…The tradition of marriage was never about love but lineage – women had no rights other than the right to expect they could be passed from one family to another, and inherit in neither. It seems a curious nod to feminism to actively adopt the hallmarks of a tradition that historically reinforced women’s oppression, and then celebrate it as ‘choice’.”
Reaction on Facebook has covered the entire spectrum of opinion, from “my husbands name or my father’s name? At least my husbands name is my choice!” to “I cannot work this one out for the life of me either. We seem to be going back to the 1950s,” to “I would love to be able to revert to my maiden name..I was all for taking it in 20 years ago, but as I’ve matured and gained so much independence you see how much your old identity means to you.”
BEN ZYGIER AND THE MURKY WATERS OF INTERNATIONAL LAW
The revelations this week that Prisoner X, who was locked in solitary confinement in an Israeli prison and subsequently killed himself in his cell, was actually a man from suburban Melbourne named Ben Zygier, have made waves around the world. Ben Saul, a Professor of International Law, discusses the legal intricacies of the case, arguing that, “there is a lot of darkness under the hoods of ASIS and ASIO which most of us are blissfully unaware of. But Australians are entitled to expect Israel to treat Australians decently, and to expect our politicians to strongly demand it…After giving so much to support to Israel, one would hope that Israel would treat Australian Jews serving their other homeland with greater dignity, whatever they have done.”
RUSSIA SHOULD BEWARE OF THE YEAR OF THE SNAKE
An article in The Atlantic this week points out that Russia should be particularly alert this year, as some of the most dramatic events in it’s history coincide with the Year of the Snake, which was ushered in for another year on February 10. Previous Snake years have brought Russia the Bolshevik Revolution (1917), the beginning of WW2 (1941) the death of Stalin (1953), and the fall of communism (1989). That’s a lot of coincidence.
ZIZEK ACCUSES THE FILM ZERO DARK THIRTY OF NORMALISING TORTURE
Zizek wrote a searing article in The Guardian this week, arguing that Kathryn Bigelow’s lauded new film normalises torture: “One doesn’t need to be a moralist, or naive about the urgencies of fighting terrorist attacks,” he writes, “To think that torturing a human being is in itself something so profoundly shattering that to depict it neutrally – ie to neutralise this shattering dimension – is already a kind of endorsement. Imagine a documentary that depicted the Holocaust in a cool, disinterested way…Such a film would either embody a deeply immoral fascination with its topic, or it would count on the obscene neutrality of its style to engender dismay and horror in spectators. Where is Bigelow here? Without a shadow of a doubt, she is on the side of the normalisation of torture.”