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Alternative Law Journal

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Editors --- "'Sit Down Girlie'" [2003] AltLawJl 78; (2003) 28(5) Alternative Law Journal 254


Secret monkey business

Equality and justice! We all want it - even monkeys. Research published in Nature suggests that monkeys - like humans-are concerned about inequalities. Monkeys who observe other monkeys getting a better deal become resentful, especially the females. The desire for wage justice according to the researchers pre-dates humans. The re­ searchers from Emory University, Atlanta, Sarah Bronson and Frans de Waal put the monkeys to work. They were required to return a small token stone to the researchers within one minute. Their salary was a slice of cucumber or a grape. Apparently monkeys love grapes. Each was able to observe what the other was paid and big problems arose when one monkey was given a cucumber slice and the other a grape. The monkeys either refused to give back the stone or wouldn't eat the cucumber. When a monkey was given a grape for doing nothing a major ding dong broke out. According to The Australian (18 September 2003): 'Only female monkeys were used in the trial, as in earlier tests males seemed not to care who got what.'

Media stalkers?

In Victoria proposals for new anti­ stalking legislation have been criticised by sections of the media who fear that journalists could be prosecuted. Ac­ cording to The Australian (18 September 2003) television networks 7 and 9 and radio station 3AW have written to the Attorney General saying that journos could be prosecuted for potentially causing 'mental harm' to subjects of their reports. Existing legislation does cover journalists but only in situations where actual harm can be proven. The new proposals cover the publication of material that can potentially cause mental harm. The media representatives are therefore seeking an ex­ emption from the proposed law on the grounds of acting in the public interest.

Lap it up

According to the Herald Sun (18 September 2003) tough new laws in Los Angeles have caused some controversy. Lap dancing, VIP rooms, direct tipping and contact between customers and dancers have been banned by the City Council. The new laws also require a 1.83 metre separation between patrons and dancers with security guards on duty at all times and annual police checks. Supporters of the bans say they are designed to protect dancers. They also point out that neighbouring states don't allow similar 'entertainment' so Los Angeles has become the Mecca of 'skin business' or adult entertainment. Strippers make most of their money from tips tucked into G-strings but the new laws would prevent this. Club owners argue the restrictions will close them down and a lawyer representing 20 owners will challenge the laws. Perhaps if the owners paid their workers fair wages they wouldn't have to rely on G-string gropers.

Women's Weekly

The Women s Weekly is turning 70. Congratulations and happy birthday. Over the years the magazine has had its detractors as well as its supporters. It has been criticised for stereotyping women, for over emphasising beauty and slimming and for being too 'girlie'. Supporters say the magazine gives women what they want, recipes, household tips, a bit of sex and spice as well as entertainment. Girlie recalls howls of protest when The Weekly went monthly - mercifully it did not change its name at that time to The Women’s Monthly! It must, however, be doing something right as it continues to thrive rather than just survive and has won many awards.

A women's place is in the pub

If you want a good read get hold of Dr Clare Wright's fascinating book, Beyond the Ladies Lounge –Australia’s Female Publicans, Melbourne University Press, 2003. It is chockers with great yarns about women publicans and barmaids and dispels many myths of women being excluded from the last bastion of male dominance, the Aussie pub. Wright argues that women have al­ ways played a powerful and independent role in hotel control and culture whether as publicans or barmaids. Moreover, Wright points out that the Australian legislature was a leader in the Western world in providing the legal basis for women to rule supreme in many pubs.

Trolley nickers

Girlie reads with some bemusement of the amazing efforts of supermarkets to design trolleys that can't be nicked. The latest initiative is to introduce a trolley that won't leave the car park. At a cost of $700 million (Herald-Sun, 23 September 2003) some Melbourne super­ markets will introduce trolleys with electronic devices in the wheels to lock them when the trolley gets to the perimeter of the car park. How come then they can't put some effort into making the wretched things work? Every trolley Girlie tries feels like it has a permanent brake on. Girlie is sick and tired of having her shoulders wrenched out of the sockets during the bitter struggle to keep horrible little wheels straight as she is propelled across narrow aisles, mangling the feet of fellow shoppers with yowling, anarchistic two-year-olds, and is hurtled towards millions of jars of Vegemite and tomato sauce. Ironically the new trolleys are to be trialled at the site of the old Queen Victoria Hospital, which was a hospital run by women for women and, alas, is no more.

Women who kill

Why does it take so long to get fair laws for women who kill? The debate has been going on for such a long time and just about everyone recognises the in­ justice of having a provocation defence that favours men. The latest attempt to reform these laws is being made by the Law Reform Commission of Victoria in a Discussion Paper released on 23 September 2003. Marcia Neave, Law Reform Commissioner, Victoria, points out (as so many, including her, have done before) that provocation allows for hot blooded killings whereas women are more likely to kill violent husbands when it is safe to do so, like when they are asleep. Commissioner Neave says one approach would be to abolish a defence of provocation so that anger is no longer an excuse for killing.

Bellie Coase

Be/lie is a Feminist Lawyer.

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