Here’s a possible paradox. Can you be pro-life and call yourself a feminist? How much about one’s religious (or lack thereof) background should be disclosed when offering opinions on social issues?
Does it matter? These are just some of the questions ejected into the public debate this week after a wide-ranging profile on self-described feminist and anti-abortion activist Melinda Tankard Reist was published earlier this month.
The Sunday Life profile had this to say on the controversial campaigner:
“Melinda Tankard Reist is a woman of strong opinions. She is also a woman about whom people have strong feelings. If you’ve seen her proselytise on pornography on TV, read her opinions on the sexualisation of girls in the newspapers, or watched her go after do-badding companies on Twitter or through her activist group Collective Shout, chances are you have a few opinions about her of your own.
She’s a wowser. A no-nonsense political crusader beloved by both teenage girls and their mothers. A religious conservative in feminist clothing. A brazen careerist. A gifted networker and generous mentor.
Reist has threatened to sue (but has not yet sued) blogger Jennifer Wilson who writes under the name No Place For Sheep for penning a piece that questioned the believability of the profile if its author had never directly questioned Ms Reist about her alleged ‘fundamentalist Christian’ influences.
Ms Wilson wrote:
“Demands that her lawyer, Ric Lucas of Colquhoun Murphy, the firm that successfully sued Bob Ellis after his Abbott and Costello book, has insisted I must not publish, in another attempt to bully, intimidate and control me. Mr Lucas does not want me to reveal to anyone what those demands are.
The two statements I made that offended Tankard Reist, according to her lawyer’s letter, are 1) I stated she is a Baptist, which he claims in the letter she is not, and 2) that I expressed my opinion that MTR is duplicitious [sic] and deceptive about her religion.”