Politics Australia

Steeplechase  is a form of horse racing and derives its name from early races in which orientation of the course was by reference to a church steeple, jumping fences and ditches and generally traversing the many intervening obstacles in the countryside.  (Wikipedia)


Updated 22 May 2014.

Frances Nelson and John O’Connor how can you justify the killing of these beautiful horses? Three horses have died already in 2014 jumps racing season. Shame on you. Only Victoria and South Australia still hold jumps races.

Below- Submission to State of Victoria, Members of Parliament, Dec 2008:

‘Jump racing is a form of horse racing generally run over longer distances than flat races and with heavier jockeys. As the name suggests, it requires the horses to jump typically  to  as many as thirty three fixed obstacles. For decades, jump racing has created a major horse welfare concern due to the cruel nature of the sport. This is supported by damning statistics and media exposure that has consistently reported the unacceptable risks to horses through frequent deaths, falls and injuries. It is not surprising that jump racing was described in the Australian media in 1991 as “the most disgusting of animal sports in this part of the world”, and more recently as “horrifically cruel”.  There are two types of jump races: hurdles and steeplechases. Hurdle races are normally run over 3,000 to 3,500 metres over low fences and at a relatively fast speed. Steeplechases are normally longer races run over 3,450 to 5,500 metres over higher fences and at a slower speed.

In 1995 jump racing was banned in NSW. It now only occurs in Victoria and South Australia. As a result of the unacceptably high death rate, falls and injuries, several reviews of jump racing have been conducted in Victoria in recent years. However changes that have been implemented as a result of these reviews have done little to improve safety for the jockey.’


An excerpt springs to mind from Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenin set in 19th Century Russia:

‘The steeplechase was an unlucky one: more than half the field of seventeen were thrown and hurt. Towards the end of the race everyone was in a state of agitation, intensified by the fact that the Emperor was displeased. Everyone was loudly expressing his disapproval and repeating a phrase someone had uttered “lions and gladiators will be the next thing,” and everyone was feeling horrified…’   Tolstoy describes the agony of the dying horse  as she and her rider stumble on the race track:  “All at once his [the rider’s] position had shifted and he knew that something horrible had happened… Vronsky was touching the ground with one foot and his mare was sinking on that foot. He scarcely had time to free his leg before she fell on one side, gasping painfully and making vain efforts of her slender sweat soaked neck to rise, and began fluttering on the ground at his feet like a wounded bird…had broken her back…Frou- Frou lay breathing heavily before him, bending her head back and gazing at him with her beautiful eyes…again she writhed like a fish, creaking the flaps of the saddle, put out her forelegs, but, unable to lift her back, immediately collapsed and fell on her side again…But she did not stir and, her nose nuzzling the ground, only gazed at her master with her eloquent eyes.’  She was then shot.


Although Anna Karenin is fiction, only a person who has witnessed such an event, could re-tell it with such heartfelt detail.You will never hear this type of description of a horse’s suffering from a jumps racing driver – he would be out of a job!


I really don’t see a great deal of difference in the cruelty of bull fighting and that of horse jumps (hurdles) racing.  Both are spectator sports where frightened animals are forced to do things in the name of human titillation and gambling.  All the power is in the hands of humans. Since this post was written, several more horses have had to be destroyed following falls at jump races!


Yesterday at a jumps racing event in Warrnambool at least six horses ditched their riders to make a run for freedom.  For so many horses to act in unison has to send a message to race organisers.  Horses have had enough.  Who or what gives humans the right to torture animals when we are all creatures on this earth; all special.  Horses are intelligent animals to be respected and allowed to live as nature intended.  Not whipped into jumping fences,  even though they are terrified and panicked; they are aware that they risk life and limbs to make the jumps at speed.

So far in the 2011 jumps racing season three horses have had to be euthanised because they fell during the jumps, breaking their necks and/or legs.  So many horses have died in recent years, that the public outcry has forced changes to hurdles etc.  But the carnage continues.  This event must be banned and there is evidence that opposition to the jumps is growing among the general public.


Another horse dies for spectators in Australia


Bull fighting has been banned in some parts of Spain, but is still a popular spectator sport in others. In 2010 a brave bull  mounted the spectator stands in one arena in Spain, absolutely enraged and terrified after incessant goading with a red cloak.  Needless to say, the bull was killed to protect the previously blood thirsty crowd.  At least this particular bull was saved from a long and torturous death, one with skewers hanging from him and blood pouring from his wounds.


The sickening torture of a bull in a Spanish arena

These glamorised bull fighters are merely animal torturers


The Romans killed hundreds of thousands of wild animals in arenas for public spectacle, driving many species to extinction in certain areas of the globe.  I thought we had moved on from those barbaric days!


See previous post: We Are Creatures Too


 Updated 17 September 2013

So, Tony Abbott, Australia’s greatest misogynist, is now Prime Minister of Australia, and he has only one woman on his Front Bench. Two less than Afghanistan’s!

While The Lodge is being refurbished, PM Tony Abbott is living in the ADF Barracks. With the sex scandals and misogyny alive and well in Australian Defence Force, is this a good move?

Australia’s first female Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, was vilified in Murdoch’s Press and by the Opposition led by Tony Abbott. His leadership of LNP focused on the fact that PM Julia Gillard was an atheist, unmarried and childless. And yet she proved to be an exceptional leader and Prime Minister.


“To be roused by a man means acknowledging  oneself as conquered”. – Wilhelm Stekel,  from ‘The Sexual Dynamics of History’.

Mr Stekel, in the early 20th Century, made it clear that he saw heterosexual sex, and specifically sexual intercourse, as a necessary and appropriate regulatory mechanism in the maintenance of male dominance and female submission.


Perhaps the above statement  is the secret mantra of the Australian Defence Force?  I wonder how these young men, and indeed, all the men that graduate from the ADF Academy treat the women they come into contact with on overseas missions.

The latest scandal to come out of the ADF is a reflection of, not only the culture within the Force, but also society as a whole.  One just has to read the latest news regarding the sexual misconduct of  AFL players and those of other male sporting codes.   A young woman is fair game sexually, and once ‘acquired’ is discarded and branded a ‘slut’, a ‘bitch’, or much worse.

The young ADF student, named ‘Kate’ in the media, was filmed having sex with a young man, also an ADF Academy student, without her knowledge or consent.  She believed it to be a private act, while he, on the other hand, had set up a web camera in the bedroom where the incident took place,  and arranged for six of his mates to view the scene from another room.  The film was then passed around the internet.  Mobile phone still shots were also taken by the men and passed around.

The whole incident came to light when ADF commanders were informed of it by another student.     One of the  Academy rules  states that students are not permitted to fraternise with each other at the Institution.  During a meeting with the investigators, Kate, by now feeling ill and embarrassed,  told them that she knew nothing about the filming.  All the males, from students to top commanders,  had all the power and none of the victimisation.  What an unequal forum; you would expect at least that the young woman would be allowed the presence of a female officer. However, the commanders considered that she was at fault for engaging in sexual activity with another student.   When Kate discovered that nothing was going to be done about the matter,  she contacted the media.  Since then she has been told to apologise to the young men and has been vilified and harassed by other students.  She has not been offered any counselling for the trauma we can only imagine she has gone through.  She has told the media that  when she read the statements by the seven young men involved, she had to run from the room, and was physically sick.

Kate is an 18-year-old student and was not doing anything that any other student wouldn’t do, as part of growing up, in any university or academy in the western world. She was away from home, in a new and challenging environment, and therefore was a vulnerable target.  The same cannot be said of male students at the academy; it is after all a male dominated one. The whole incident amounts to one of planned abuse.  The young man in whom Kate placed her trust, violated that trust, and systematically planned, along with his classmates, to sexually humiliate her. (The young men involved have since been convicted).

During research for my book,Whatever Happened to Ishtar? I came across many stories of deliberate sexual humiliation and sexual abuse of women and girls.  My family tree has many such stories, not least that of my mother, a vulnerable and lost woman who was preyed upon by three male members of one family.   The result was that she, the victim, was demonised, while the men lived on within the family without any recrimination whatsoever.   These stories didn’t come from inside institutions; they came from inside families, inside homes.  In other words, from inside our own society.  Recently, Tony Abbott, leader of the Australian Federal Opposition, stood in front of clearly misogynist signs at a political rally to vilify the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard,  about some of her policies.  However, instead of attacking the PM’s policies, he made derogatory remarks about her, and the placards behind him,  in full view of television cameras, gave him full support.   Standing beside Tony Abbott are two female members of his Opposition one of whom, Bronwyn Bishop, (front left in the photo below), he has made Speaker in his newly elected  government.

Oh, there was plenty of debate after the event, about Mr Abbott’s behaviour. But at the time not one person in the crowd protested the wording on the placards or Mr Abbott’s treatment of Australia’s first woman prime minister. How can we expect young men to respect women if this is the way politicians behave? I have yet to see these types of sexist statements used against male PMs. The use and abuse of females has been going on for centuries, and appears to be ingrained in our culture.  Kate is very brave to speak out, and by doing this, changes can be effected, albeit slowly and painfully.

Sexist Signs referring to PM Gillard supporting Leader of the Opposition, Tony Abbott

It is estimated that reported sexual abuse  is just the tip of the iceberg.  The embarrassment and shame women and girls feel about letting anyone else know what has happened to them, prevents them from going to the police.  I think that most of us can understand that stance.  However, nothing will change in our society unless this abuse and societal malaise  is dealt with openly.  Nothing will change if we continue to ignore the voice of women and elect  men such as Tony Abbott and his all-male-but-one Front Bench to govern our country.


See   The Problem Being Female

Female Sex Workers

Catholic Dichotomy of Females

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