Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Step Right Up Folks! Step Right Up!

Are you following along at home:

On Friday in parliament a Labor member, Kelvin Thomson, gets stuck into former Nationals leader John Anderson, over AWB. Tony Abbott interjects Thomson's speech with a motion - and I quote - "That that snivelling grub over there be not further heard." When the Opposition demands he withdraw the motion, Abbott - ever so witty, ever so droll - says: "If I have offended grubs, I withdraw unconditionally."

The Deputy Speaker - a Liberal - accepts this "apology" as tantamount to a re-wording of the original motion, that the member be no longer heard - the usual form of motion - and it is obviously supported with the government majority.

Later, Manager of Opposition Business Julia Gillard asks the Speaker, David Hawker, asks to clarify if it is acceptable, as in implicit in the Deputy Speaker's ruling, that when asked to withdraw "without reservation" a statement made in parliament, saying something along the lines of Abbott's frightfully amusing retort counts as a valid form of withdrawal. Hawker, obviously saving face for Abbott, does not explicitly rule either way.

So Gillard, cheeky monkey that she is, makes the same original "grub" interjection against Abbott today, and when asked to withdraw "without reservation", offers the same "withdrawal" as Abbott - ie about offending grubs.

The Speaker claims this is not adequate but Gillard, correctly, insists that she has acted in accordance with the Speaker's original ruling. She refuses to re-word her withdrawal.

Naturally, Abbott moves a motion for Gillard to be removed from parliament and is successful.

The AAP report of this claims that Gillard was kicked out for calling Abbott a "snivelling grub" but strictly speaking, that's not correct.

So, Gillard: cheeky? petty? clever? foolish? all? neither?

A fairly silly stunt, one she would have known would likely end up this way, but she does raise a valid point.

Even by senior Liberal minister standards, Abbott is egregiously arrogant when performing in parliament. He can be so because he has the numbers to be protected, both by fellow Coalition members as well as a speaker known to be corruptive, incompetent and shamefully biased in this role.

But it's not like this is unique to the Libs. The trash Paul Keating got away with in parliament with the aid of a compliant speaker was pretty outrageous too.

This is why both the major parties never seriously float or examine the idea of an independent speaker. They know that when in opposition a partisan speaker is a pain in the arse, but when in government, and the speaker's one of theirs, he or she's a positive boon.

South Australia briefly had a good thing going with a speaker, Bob Such, who was an ex-Liberal-turned-Independent nominted to the position after the Peter Lewis debacle. From what I heard and read, Such did the job he was employed to do - to ensure parliamentary rules and procedures were implemented and adhered to by both sides, and with reprimands issued equally or at least based on behaviour, rather than the political affiliations of the wrong-doers.

Hawker's a disgrace, but he's only symptomatic of a broader problem: a steady decline in the standards of our political representatives during Question Time. I don't know when the rot began in earnest - maybe during the Fraser or Hawke years - but it's certainly been exacerbated during the reign of Keating and especially Howard. Even the Senate, which is usually meant to be the more restrained, "professional" chamber, is now a circus since the Coalition majority has ensured no genuinely open and democratic dialogue between the government, opposition and minor parties. Absolute power and all that.

It's a pity Gillard's had to resort to such a cheap stunt to make a point, and I don't think it will actually be picked up by most people - they'll just read the part where she was expelled for "calling Abbott a grub". But this could be the perfect opportunity to float the possibility of an independent speaker, which could in turn be a significant step towards restoring some semblance of decorum and maturity in the House. After all, it couldn't get much worse - could it?

Monday, May 29, 2006

I'm Not Surprised

Erk!! Father forgive me, it's been a while since my last confession. This whole doing-actual-work-at-my-job caper is seriously eating into life's important things, like blogging and...shit.

Anyways, I had a particularly heart-felt email from a QP reader asking me my thoughts on the latest Daily Terror queer bash posing as investigative journalism. So my reply, cynical old bitch that I am, is:

I'm not surprised.

I wish I could say I was particularly shocked, angered or upset by the latest anti-queer campaign of that painfully abrasive brand of toilet paper known as the Daily Telegraph, but I’m not. The Terror has form when it comes to scaremongering over raising awareness within young children of sexual diversity, and its attack on the Tillman Park Childcare Centre at Tempe, for “daring” to educate pre-schoolers about the reality of families with two mums or two dads, is yet another chapter in its depraved manifesto of gutter “journalism”.

I’m not surprised, because the specific target of the Terror’s assault is Marrickville Mayor Sam Byrne, who has proudly and explicitly supported the centre’s choice of juvenile texts depicting same-sex families in everyday situations. The Terror’s editorial delights in reminding its readers that Byrne’s mayoral campaign was actively supported by the Greens, one of the Murdoch media’s preferred whipping boys of choice. The Terror’s real agenda here is revealed in the final line, when it claims that “this outrage shows anyone considering a protest vote (ie, in favour of the Greens) should read the fine print”.

I’m not surprised that our state leaders on both sides of politics (if indeed, one believes a left/right dichotomy even exists in state politics anymore) have fallen over themselves to be the peppiest cheerleader for the Terror. Premier Iemma, who does not “personally believe it appropriate for two-year-olds to be dragged into the gay rights debate”, is but an unamusing Muppet, with the Terror’s arm wedged firmly up his backside and determining when and what he should speak, lest he say one thing by accident that might actually cost him one single vote.

I’m not surprised that our federal government has jumped on board to fuel the flames of ignorance and fear with absolute alacrity. Federal Education Minister Julie Bishop – who, would you believe, is considered a “moderate” in federal Liberal politics – is literally echoing the Terror (see the editorial) when shrieking about the “perverse biases put into early childhood development”. It’s precisely the sort of rhetoric that’s music to John Howard’s ear and will keep her accustomed to the front bench of that government.

I’m not surprised that the actual reality of this situation – a pre-school educating young minds to diverse families in a council with a high concentration of parental same-sex couples – has been lost in the s-bend flush of sensationalist headlines that define our least favourite tabloid rag.

Opponents of minority sexualities are fully aware that young minds are the most malleable to tolerance and understanding. That’s why this assault is so fierce and well-resourced. Maybe I’m just an overly cynical sod, but I only wish I could say I didn’t see something like this coming.

But I'm not so cynical I won't put out a "chin up" to any same-sex parents out there genuinely saddened by this garbage or fearing for their children and the subsequent victimisation they may face now this gay-bashing has once again been validated. I genuinely believe that, like the cognitive aberration that fueled racial segregation, this mind-set of hate will - eventually - dissipate through natural evolution.

See? Not such a cynical bitch after all.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Journalistic Bravery

I'll qualify that I didn't know heaps about John Marsden prior to his recent demise. Obviously, I knew he was a human rights lawyer, a bum-troubler and was involved in an on-going defamation case against Channel 7. And that he was a target of Franca Arena and other anti-paedophile obsessives. But like Rene Rivkin, I think Marsden was one of those Sydney personalities that natural-born Sydney-siders assume is well-known across the country just because he's well-known in this city. But Adelaide had its own high-profile celebs to focus on, dammit! Like, umm...Nuala. And her mum, Dorinda. Yeah.

Annnyway, it seems pretty off to me that only a few seconds after the bloke's carked it, a couple of righty charmers salivating at the bit are swooping like vultures to shred his carcass to pieces.

From all accounts the guy sounds like the consummate operator, making all the right contacts and being friendly with the right people at the right times.

But why should his sex life be of such great importance to these commentators? If he was into underage boys and committing paedophilia - and please note I am neither suggesting nor denying he was, merely pointing out I don't know - then fair enough, he was breaking the law and deserved to be exposed and punished. But Chris Merritt claims that "trawling for rough trade in the back streets of Sydney (was the)...sort of trashy behaviour killed his credibility as a tribune for the higher role of lawyers and tarnished his message".

Why? Consensual adult sex with anonymous strangers is only illegal if it's in public places, and then it's a breach of acceptable behaviour in public places that's the issue of law, not what he's doing. (Perhaps Merritt wishes that homosexuality were re-criminalised.) So why was Marsden therefore a "duplicitous fraud"? He never denied his homosexuality, indeed never denied his proclivity for acts beyond the realm of vanilla. One's boat might not be floated by the sorts of waves that floated Marsden's, but that hardly makes him duplicitous, and it certainly wouldn't make him any less an efficient practitioner of law.

Paul Sheehan, meanwhile, implies that Marsden is as evil as the men who raped and murdered Anita Cobby because of his "friendship" with the Murphy boys. That's surely got to be the sort of stretch that would land Sheehan in court for libel were Marsden still alive.

And that's what annoys me the most: This trash is only being written now because the journos know they can't be taken to court anymore.

Can the lawyers out there in the studio audience inform me as to whether or not reputation can carry on through a deceased person's estate? That is, if Marsden happen to have been survived by a partner or other legal next of kin, would they be able to bring a lawsuit against Merritt or Sheehan? If not, I think that's an area of law definitely worthy of reconsideration. I know I would want to seek redress if shit like this were written and published about my partner/parent/friend/whatever, less than a week after they died.

Sheehan also has a go at Marsden over his original defence of Ivan Milat, "using the legal system's medieval treatment of rape victims to leave Milat free to resume his favoured pastime. At least seven people would die before Milat was finally caught." That is, according to Sheehan, Marsden was personally responsible for the murder of these seven people.

So what's Sheehan's alternative? Send all men accused of rape to him first before they appear before the court so he personally can determine their guilt and look into his crystal ball to see what they'll get up to should they not be convicted? Of course, Sheehan does not report Marsden's own admission of remorse about this time in his life, but the fact remains he was doing his job as a defence lawyer and zealously representing the interests of his client. Is this representation supposed to be qualified by the acts they may commit in the future - acts nobody outside of the movie Minority Report are capable of knowing anyway?

If Sheehan can't be sued by a dead man, perhaps he can be sued by a living one. His final line in this article is the most insidious: "And when his memorial service is conducted this week, he has requested that one of the eulogies be delivered by his friend and confidant, Justice Michael Kirby of the High Court of Australia."

That is, Kirby was one of Marsden's "partners in crime", right? Well, naturally. We all know every gay man is by definition also a paedophile, don't we? Particularly those egregious fags who have the nerve to be open about and proud of their sexuality. Someone's gotta be brave enough to take them out. Waiting until they're dead just makes this important job that much easier.

Friday, May 19, 2006

May Babies

And on the 20th Day of the month - tomorrow, on my blogging day off - was born Cher, Jimmy Stewart, Joe Cocker and the dude who played Balki in Perfect Strangers.

Also, apparently, Captain Kathryn Janeway (and I do mean Janeway, not Kate Mulgrew).

I'm mentioning this for a reason.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Any Insight?

Tuned into SBS's Insight program last night to catch the forum on same-sex marriage. I myself had already attempted to wrangle a couple of seats in the audience for myself and the man, but the two cards I had up my sleeve to play - my involvement in ACE and SX - ironically appeared to be the two very factors most likely to work against my inclusion. When I received a text from a friend of mine, a much, much more prominent and committed activist, informing me that once the SBS producers, after pumping him for contacts, told him they wanted "no (queer) activists", the producers' agenda became clear: The pro-ss marriage side was to be "non-political" couples - ideally, with a child - struggling against the day-to-day practicalities of legal discrimination. Essentially, they were humanising the queers, while the s-s marriage opponents would comprise of robotic politicians (Liberal Senator for the ACT Gary Humphries, who barely sounded like he believed what he was saying anyway, merely trotting out the Howard propaganda on auto-pilot) and spokespeople for two of Australia's strongest anti-gay lobby groups, the Catholic Church and the Australian Family Association. Oh, and Dreadnought was thrown in for novelty value.

As is the nature of this show, the debate denegerated about half-way through into people shouting over one another to be heard. Jenny Brockie does a reasonable job as moderator but there's only so much she can do in the face of such strong (and at times self-opinionated) personalities.

I guess I was disappointed with the forum for a few reasons. Firstly, the bulk of the debate ended up being more on whether gays and lesbians should be able to have/raise children, rather than how and why our relationships should be celebrated and formalised. This, of course, is the usual offensive of the Christian extremists, to confuse the issue and scaremonger with platitudes of "won't somebody PLEASE think of the children", because essentially it's impossible to otherwise argue against some means of legal parity for same-sex couples in long-term, committed relationships. It was wonderful seeing couples like Jason and Adrian and Deb and Lou showing the world that there are queers in the world willing and able to be amazing parents in the face of such adversity, and as one of these couples aptly pointed out, no child is born by accident to a same-sex couple, unplanned or unloved, as happens in many heterosexual encounters. However, I was more interested to hear from Gary Lowe, who with "two goldfish" has no plans to have children with his partner of many years but does want his relationship to be equal under the law. Gary's plea is more indicative, I would argue, of the bulk of same-sex couples and our demands. Unfortunately, however, they only got to Gary towards the end.

I would have preferred the parameters of debate to be defined not solely by whether queers should be allowed to get married, but by what legal model (interdependency, civil unions, marriage or something else again) should we have our relationships formalised. The argument put forward by the AFA and Catholic Church - that same-sex relationships should have no legal standing at all - is already essentially redundant in the face of existing state and federal law reforms that acknowledge and provide for such relationships. I guess my suggested parameters would not have made for such heated televisual debate, however.

Was also interesting to hear from former Chief Justice of the Family Court and outspoken same-sex marriage supporter, Alistair Nicholson, and the tremendously well-meaning member for Leichhardt, Warren Entsch. I believe Entsch when he says he believes he has the support of enough people in his party to get up his private member's bill for same-sex civil unions. I don't believe, however, that he actually has the support, merely friends of his in the Liberal Party for now telling him what he wants to hear. As always, the proof will be in the pudding, when his bill is stalled, undebated in parliament. I hate to be this cynical and I certainly don't mean to downplay Entsch's hard work and genuine concern for social justice - the sort of "fair go, mate" mentality Howard himself pretends to espouse - but I think he's about to receive a fairly unpleasant wake-up call on this particular issue.

Jon Stanhope was also a class act. I could play Jeanette to him any day.

Two-and-a-half stars, Margaret. A very well-intentioned but only partially successful attempt to raise relevant issues and present opposing viewpoints.

MrLefty also offers a good round-up of the show.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Song I Can't Get Out of my Head

No, I'm not referring to those puerile Austereo commercials with that goddamn annoying "hitsorcist". It's this song that not only can I not get out of my head this morning, it feels like it's been stuck there on auto-repeat since I first downloaded it to my iPod a few weeks ago.

Ordinarily I wouldn't be concerned. But as Clarice Starling was once warned that she didn't want Hannibal Lecter inside her head, I'm not sure I want Grace Jones inside mine:

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Yes, you know the song. the rhythmmmmmmmmmmmm...............

Sing along at home.

Inside your head now? Tremendous. My work here is done.

Any other song suggestions to defeat the evil Grace monster inside my head will be appreciated.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Better than Nothing

...Just: Civil unions now available in the ACT. This was the easy part, however. Now we wait for Attorney-General Burns to tent his fingers and purr "excellent" as he contemplates his sinful plan to piss all over the Act.

As I argued in SX this week - in fact, you can now read the PDF of my article (p 7) as it's published in the mag - the great irony of this is that one of the most fiercely anti-gay fundo lobby groups, the Australian Christian Lobby, actually ended up supporting a piece of legislation that would have recognised same-sex couples and allowed their relationships to be legally formalised. Granted, the ACL only did this through supporting the Tasmanian model as an alternative to the Stanhope Bill - the same approach of the ACT Opposition - but I dare say if you'd said 5 years ago the ACL does not oppose legal equality for same-sex couples - in fact, it actively supports this concept - there would have been much merriment, pointing of fingers and "pfffftbwhahahaha" from all sides.

Funny how things change, innit.

Oh, while you're at the "This Week" section of SX, check out the letters section (p 9), 2 of which have a go at me for my anti-David from BB piece last week. Indignant letters! I feel like the Devine Miss M...except, you know, human. And with a pulse. Although, Mingy did actually write a column this week praising Bill Shorten. Miranda, calling a union leader a "class act"? Miranda? Miranda Devine??!

Funny how things change, innit.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

I Feel Comfortable Using Financial Jargon in Everyday Life


Sorry for the extended lunch break between posts, have started my new job this week and trying to get my head around the new work environment (it's still essentially a Dilbertesque cubiclist nightmare, but with slightly better eye candy) and the financial as opposed to legal vernacular. Who'd have thunk that chartered accountancy could be so fascinating?

Oh, wait a sec. It isn't. D'oh.

Anyway, in what can only be considered good timing, I've started at this position during the same week as the budget, which appears to get these financial types with their woven silk ties and chequered business shirts pretty excited. (The editorial team I'm in, thankfully, is quite pleasant - all women, of course. I'm the only man in the village and I'm a big screamer. Go figure.)

My thoughts? Meh. Seems like a pre-election budget without the election bit. Nice of our beloved Treasurer to give us back some of that $4322 trillion (or whatever it is) surplus he keeps banging on about. Not sure tax cuts is the best way to go about it. Sure, it placates the Howard whingers in marginal outer-suburban seats who may have been entertaining the thought of changing their vote over high petrol prices and last week's interest rate rise, but in the longer term it doesn't seem so responsible - tax cuts ---> greater spending ---> inflation issews ---> further interest rate rises etc. But I guess that argument's a little too complicated for swinging voters whose interest lies solely in the perception of a chunkier wallet in the short term.

Is the whole investment in underfunded infrastructure thing really so unfashionable these days? OK, so the ABC - FINALLY - got a boost in funding (still well short of the KPMG recommendation to the government, by the way) and there's going to be a $500m one-off payment to pump some more gigalitres into the Murray-Darling, but nothing jumped out at me as being a particularly visionary or generous investment, even in the Coalition's favourite infrastructual play thing, roads.

I'm only a few grand off the salary range that would have got me an additional 20 bucks a month in tax cuts on top of what I'll now get instead. I guess that's what they call classic incentivisation for me. You know, one of those words made up by corporatia that doesn't actually exist.

The reduction of the top marginal tax rate only confirmed what we knew all along - that Howard is friend of the battler millionaires. But I dare say Labor won't tamper with this should they ever present a federal budget in the 21st century.

Overall, it's going to be hard for Labor to combat this one. It's a diabolically ingenious budget if nothing else, one in which all the townsfolk appear to be better off.

In other news: apparently there were some miners, or something, stuck in a mine somewhere in (I think) Tasmania, and now they're free? Honestly, the media could have worked a lot harder to report this - I hadn't heard a word about it until MsCynic mentioned something in passing.

OK, all sarcasm aside, 3 things: 1 - How are we supposed to make fun of Naomi Robson now? 2 - Was the miners' love-in with Kochie part of a grander scheme to lull him into a false sense of security long enough to do us all a favour and throw him into the hole? and 3 - I hope they invest their $1m wisely. I imagine they're in no rush to go down a mine ever again and I doubt there's a booming IT industry in Beaconsfield they can fall back on instead with a bridging TAFE degree, so they may need to look at this as their golden handshake. A gold "mine", if you will, because things might now get a "hole" lot worse.

Commence the pelting of rotten

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Her Life So Far

Kath Day-Knight, in summarising the Bolton twins, Kylie and Dannii - two of Kim's rivals for Brett's affection - said: "I know them both, pieces of work, both of them. But to give them each their due, they are go-getters, the pair of them."

The same might be said of Jane Fonda. One might think she is a piece of work, and the hatred and contempt that can sometimes be heard for or read of her now, over 30 years after the Vietnam War ended, is testament to the voracity of emotion she can still generate within her detractors.

But very few could argue Fonda hasn't lived a remarkable life or achieved some incredible milestones. How many other people can cite dual Oscar and Emmy-winning actress and film producer, anti-war activist who helped achieve a turnabout in US policy, and fitness guru who shaped an entirely new industry of video work-outs, on their CVs?

Fonda is also a woman of great contradictions. She identifies as a feminist, but was once the pin-up star of an exploitative, moderately soft-core pornographic cult sci-fi classic. She currently devotes much of her time to helping young disadvantaged women develop self-esteem, but battled her own eating disorder for many years. She opposes the capitalist regime that necessitates war, but was married to one of the world's wealthiest men. She speaks out against plastic surgery, but once had breast implants (now removed).

Many of these contradictions are explored, without necessarily being resolved, in her autobiography, "My Life So Far." She can easily add accomplished writer to her extensive list of skills, as the book is an engrossing and illuminating read, with clear, precise prose and only occasional lapses into self-indulgent, "self-help" jargon that seeps through when writing about how her latest "hobby", born-again Christianity, now informs her current perceptions and inner strength.

For the most part the book reads as honest and sincere, with more admissions of regret than one might expect from such a high-profile individual. She apologises, for example, for the image of "Hanoi Jane", subsequent to an interview with 60 Minutes last year in which she said: "The image of Jane Fonda, Barbarella, Henry Fonda's daughter ... sitting on an enemy aircraft gun was a betrayal ... the largest lapse of judgment that I can even imagine." This is not a woman placing herself above culpability or denying the broader impact of her actions. But her story does go some way to explain the motivation behind such a productive, focused and life-embracing woman.

Divided into 3 "acts", MLSF explores the complex and ultimately sad relationship Fonda had with her father, Henry. She describes how America saw Henry as its honest, upstanding and kind Everyman through his film roles, but in her reality he was a cold, distant father largely incapable of expressing love for and appreciation of his children. This, combined with the suicide of Fonda's socialite mother, made for a rocky childhood whereby Fonda idolised the "Lone Ranger" and determined to live her life accordingly, saving the world but gaining no friends or companions along the way. Her three marriages all demonstrate to some degree a level of paternalism and female submission, and though Fonda's image has always been of an independent, free-spirited woman, she would on several occasions allow herself to be overshadowed by dominant men for the sake of maintaining the charade of a happy marriage.

Being the daughter of Henry Fonda no doubt helped Jane get a foot in the door for film acting, but ever since her breakthrough dramatic role in "Klute" (for which she won her first Oscar), Fonda has usually been an accomplished and versatile performer. Films she starred in and produced remain among the greatest even today, including "Coming Home" and 2 of my personal favourites, "The China Syndrome" and "9 to 5". The most poignant chapter relating to her film career, however, has to be her recollections of working on "On Golden Pond" with Henry, in his final role, and another woman legendary for an image of pioneering independence, Katharine Hepburn. The parallels between the fictional, fractured relationship between father and daughter in the movie, and the real-life equivalent, make for moving reading, and although Henry does not die with a typical filmic moment of death-bed mea culpa for his sins, Jane manages to find some sense of closure and certainly appears to have forgiven him.

Many have argued that Fonda is a political sell-out and she seems to have pissed off both sides almost equally - the Right continues to demonise her as a traitor to the US while the Left seems to have given up on her the moment she married media mogul Ted Turner. But reading MLSF, you appreciate that her sense of justice has never wavered. Just because the media - and, indeed, the President and FBI - are now not scrutinising her activism as they did in the 1970s doesn't mean she's not doing anything. Her current political work involves raising awareness for people, young women especially, in underprivileged areas such as Mexico and India. Again, she cannot easily be dismissed, as so many Hollywood liberals are by the Right (or South Park), as an armchair critic offering merely lip service and no action.

The book offers a few "juicy" tidbits that may have been kept secret until now - her long-standing eating disorders, for example, or soliciting prostitutes in Paris for threesomes with her then-husband, Roger Vadim, or the admission of her own affair during her second marriage, to failed Senate candidate and activist Tom Hayden. But it's hardly a sensationalist tell-all; rather, an insight into the mind of a woman who has never sat on her hands and watched the world pass by. I've always insisted on having Fonda as one of my 10 guests at my ideal dinner party, and if the book is anything to go by, she's personable and easy-going, someone you could have a chat with without being surrounded by an entourage.

This is not to say I don't have a few reservations about both Fonda and her story. For one thing, born-again Christians always make me, as a gay homosexual, nervous. In her all work over the years with various oppressed and marginalised groups - women, African-Americans (via the Black Panthers), victims of war, the impoverished and so on - gays and lesbians are conspicuously absent throughout. Knowing as I do, that some of the world's greatest faith-based activists who've done amazing work with poor and disadvantaged people can also be the most homophobic, I find this omission glaring. I could be wrong, but this is something I'd certainly like to bring up between main course and dessert, after perhaps the third glass of grenache.

I also find the absence, in this story, of her opposition to plastic surgery rather telling. Though she does admit to the breast implants and their subsequent removal, she does not write about the times when she has spoken against plastic surgery - and frankly, although she is naturally a very beautiful woman, I'm pretty sure those aren't her original cheekbones on the cover of the book. I read somewhere she did admit to getting only as much work done as an actress has to in order to remain competitive in the industry, but to me this does not sit well with a woman writing in great length of all the work she is doing to make other women feel good about themselves.

One can be extremely cynical about the timing of this book, being published as it was around the time of her 15-year break from film acting retirement in the fairly average J-Lo movie "Monster-in-Law" last year (surely she could've waited longer for a better script?) But this doesn't make it any less of a good read by an intelligent and candid writer. Love her or loathe her, Jane Fonda is a remarkable person, and fully deserves this articulate and illustrative right-of-reply.