Suffer little children


Eugenics R Us

Here at Dodgy Perth we’re a little over hearing so much praise for St Edith of Cowan. After all, how seriously can you take someone who named herself after a local university?

Should we save her house? Probably. Should ECU have spent $715,000 on a tent to name after her? Probably not. Because she was Australia’s first female politician should we assume she was Gandhi and Mother Theresa rolled into one? Absolutely not.

What really gets us is the way everyone keeps going on about how much she loved all of the little children? Did she? Let’s take a look.

In 1929 the Government proposed a new law which would sterilise any girl who they decided was ‘mentally defective’. This was needed, it was said, because the ever growing number of mental deficients were “poisoning with their hereditary taints the lifeblood of the State”.

Edith Cowan, who loved children you’ll remember, was outraged and demanded the bill be changed. She didn’t think, of course, the bill was offensive, but that it did not go far enough. The proposed law said parental consent was necessary before sterilisation, and Edith thought this was wrong. Parents were being cruel by letting their idiot children breed, and “the moron girl should be so treated that she would not become a menace by reproducing her type”.

Fortunately, the bill was shelved and before the Government could reconsider it the Nazis had given that kind of thing a bad name.

Edith Cowan did many great things in her life, but she also held some extremely offensive views. Let’s not create a saint from her life story but remember her as an all-too-real complex human being.


“People do not want the smutty stuff”


Today, as our choice at the cinema is between a three-part Hobbit and yet another Hunger Games, Dodgy Perth asks: What Would Edith Cowan Do?

For thank goodness the first woman to be elected to an Australia parliament left us her detailed thoughts on the effects of movies.

In 1927, far too many movies contained exciting and thrilling incidents. Mrs Cowan was having none of this. She knew what was good for children. Pictures should be of the “clean, humorous type, devoid of criminals and crimes,” preferably “educational films, depicting industries, sports, travel, and adventure.”

In any case, she continued, going to the movies led to the medical condition known as ‘Fatigue of Brain and Body’ and damaged your eyesight. Worse still, movies could easily “stir into action the sexual side of the child’s outlook”.

“The majority of the people do not want the smutty stuff,” said Mrs Cowan. Instead movies should be such that a “child of eighteen” finds nothing in the film that they did not already know. (Today, I imagine there is little a child of fourteen does not already know!)

Frighteningly, some pictures suggested that married life was not always happy. What if a child saw something that changed their opinion on marriage? What if they started questioning whether mummy was really happy? These things could not be allowed to happen in Perth. Not to our children. Not to our married couples.

But let us not think that Mrs Cowan wasn’t thinking of the poor among us. She certainly was. Children should not be allowed to see movies which contained scenes of wealth and luxury in case it “accentuated the bitter class consciousness already fostered among them”.

Edith Cowan, Dodgy Perth salutes you and your quest to stop Michael Bay from making another frigging film.