The ethics of hypocrisy

The concept of a “racist ethicist” would strike most as ridiculous yet the oxymoron designation “feminist ethicist” is accepted by the broader community without pause for thought.  Indeed along with “psychotherapist,” “feminist ethicist” is a descriptor used in the online biographies of prominent Australian radical feminist, Dr. Betty McLellan [1]. This is the same Betty McLellan we know as a presenter at the 2011 Perth SCUM Conference, contributor to the extremist Radfemhub blog and advocate for everyone’s human rights except those of men.

Her most recent published work is titled “Unspeakable – a feminist ethic of speech” about which she writes on the Radfemhub “the principle of Freedom of Speech is a sham. It’s a myth.” [2] Look no further then the comments policy on this public web site for proof of that:

The discussions on this blog are reserved for women. Female-born, women-identified women are welcome to take part. This means that no male-born or male-identified person is given a platform to speak in this space. An amazing thing happens when women-identified women have the chance to speak, away from the carnivorous and necrophiliac behaviors(sic) of men. Our conversations get deep, rich, interesting, and fun. This atmosphere is valued and will be protected.

Radicalhub.com is a site to which any serious ethicist should be loathe to be associated. McLellan, however, appears to celebrate her involvement. I recently wrote to McLellan pointing out the hypocrisy of her stance but not surprisingly have not received a response.

McLellans’ Townsville office has a plaque outside that simply states:

 

“Dr Betty McLellan Psychotherapist”

 

Now I gather Betty has a PhD, and hence her use of the salutation Dr. agrees with convention here in Australia, although on professional plaques it is most commonly associated with clinical practitioners.  According to the James Cook University where she holds an appointment as Associate Professor (Social Work and Community Welfare) she received her Ph.D. from Claremont CA in 1977 but I have been unable to track down the topic of her dissertation. [3]

Psychotherapist is a poorly defined designation in Australia. Unlike Psychologists, Psychiatrists, Medical Practitioners and other health professionals who must be registered with the Australian Health Practitioners Regulatory Agency (AHPRA), psychotherapists seem to be a law unto themselves. You will not find Betty McLellan listed on the AHPRA web site, nor does she appear in The Psychotherapy and Counseling Federation of Australia (PACFA)[4] listing of practitioners. The PACFA is an attempt to gather the disparate groups who practice “counseling” and “psychotherapy” [5] under a banner of legitimacy, and have them conform to a code of ethical practice. [6] Many submissions have been made to bring “psychotherapists” under the supervision of the AHPRA.

Mental health professionals, a group to which McLellan claims to belong, would also by convention advertise their affiliation with their professional body. For example,  a Psychologist might add in addition to their qualification, MAPS (Member Australian Psychological Society) as a post nominal, indicating that as a member of that group they abide by its Code of Ethical Practice. [7] This provides reassurance for potential clients of the mental health professionals qualifications and an avenue of redress if they feel that the professional breeches the code of ethics to which they subscribe.  McLellan has no such affiliations advertised in her phone directory listing or elsewhere that I can find. However, she does have a pretty, pink, albeit somewhat faded plaque outside her office. Perhaps indicating she is a female friendly practitioner?

McLellan fails to advertise her qualifications as a psychotherapist or any affiliations that would bind her to a particular code of ethics.   This is convenient for her because one must wonder how a person holding such extremist and radical views could be involved in therapy with clients in an impartial, non-discriminatory and non-judgmental way. The ethical standard for Psychologists listed under “justice” for example forbids members from “discriminating unfairly against people on the basis of age, religion, sexuality, ethnicity, gender, disability, or any other basis.” Further, they require psychologists to “demonstrate an understanding of the consequences for people of unfair discrimination and stereotyping related to their age, religion, sexuality, ethnicity, gender, or disability.” These are clear ethical standards to which she obviously does not subscribe.

One of McLellans books, HELP! I’m Living with a (Man) Boy [8] is described thus: “From wet towels on the bathroom floor to carelessness with money or outright abuse, the frustrations of women with immature partners are viewed here as genuine problems to be solved by better communication.”

A browse through this book shows it to be perpetrating the usual negative stereotypes of men whilst reinforcing the blameless victim status of women whose partners don’t communicate with them at the exact time and in the precise manner they demand.  Clearly not an ethical and unbiased view of relationships, embracing the above mentioned standards.

Beyond Psychoppression is another McLellan book promoted as a guide to therapy that explores the intersection between the personal and the political.  (Have I heard that line before?) The introduction to Beyond Psychopression:

Poor Men. I suppose we ought to feel sorry for them to some extent. In every generation, you see, men are sold a lie. In their socialisation, they are deceived into believing they are superior and that their superiority gives them unlimited power over women, animals, the environment, material goods, and all the worlds wealth.

Rather than cite contemporary research she continues to proffer patently false generalizations about men that cannot be substantiated. Naturally it follows that:

Because the personal experiences of individual women are tied so closely to society’s attitude toward and exploitation of women collectively, a therapy that recognises the political nature of our relationships must pay attention to both the individual and collective needs of women.

In other words feminist therapy needs to enlist clients into political action (feminism) to end oppression and discrimination against women collectively for an individual to progress in therapy. Sounds more like a treatise on how recruit for a cult than an ethical approach to psychotherapy. Still the experiences of unwelcome attempts to indoctrinate women into feminism via the abuse industry and women’s shelters staffed by ideological commissars are well known.

McLellan has, over the years. been an avid writer of letter’s to the editor, of our local and other newspapers. Recently the tragic murder-suicide deaths of a father and his child, after jumping from a bridge in Brisbane made headlines here.  The situation involved family breakdown and the man involved was ostensibly a normal and well respected member of his community.  McLellan wrote to the Townsville Bulletin:

Unacceptable ANOTHER day; another bridge; another father; another baby thrown to his death. Another heart-broken mother; another shattered community in total shock.  When will it ever end? Not until our society stops making excuses for men’s violence and makes it clear that such hideous acts of violence are totally unacceptable in a civilised society. BETTY McLELLAN, Railway Estate. 

Ok, does that sound like an ethical mental health professional trying to understand the complex determinants of human behavior with a view to remediation, or a radical feminist trying to score cheap political points from a personal tragedy?  A similar tragedy played out in Brisbane in September 2011 also making national headlines, a mother stabbed her teenage daughter to death then drove with her young son to the same bridge and jumped to her death whilst the son watched. The women apparently had a history of mental ill health, and the whole thing was quietly minimized and justified. Betty McLellan did not write to the local paper asking for a halt to women’s violence. Possibly in her view it was “patriarchies” fault, so more control of men would be the political imperative from this particular personal tragedy, not addressing women’s violence.

McLellan might be better described in her biographies, as a feminist bigot, and based on her published views such a descriptor would be fully deserved. The reality is her writings are about sexual stereotyping, feminist dogma, and gender discrimination and have nothing to do with the reality of ethical or moral discourse.  That archaic gender feminists such as McLellan still thrive in Australian academia is a sad reflection of the decline of academic standards and intellectual rigor in Australian universities.

[1] http://www.ias.uwa.edu.au/lectures/past/2010_lectures/mclellan

[2] http://radicalhub.com/2011/08/04/pornography-and-the-myth-of-free-speech

[3] http://www.jcu.edu.au/sass/staff/JCU_084363.html

[4] http://www.pacfa.org.au/

[5] http://www.pacfa.org.au/memberassoc

[6] http://www.pacfa.org.au/sitebuilder/resources/knowledge/asset/files/3/2012pacfacodeofethics.pdf

http://www.pacfa.org.au/sitebuilder/resources/knowledge/asset/files/3/pacfacodeofgoodgovernanceaug05.pdf

[7] http://www.psychology.org.au/about/ethics/

[8] http://www.amazon.com/HELP-Im-Living-Man-Boy/dp/1876756624/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1330241577&sr=8-1

[9] http://www.amazon.com/Beyond-Psychoppression-Betty-McLellan/dp/1875559337/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1330241577&sr=8-2

[10] http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/queensland/despair-ends-in-tears-and-tributes/story-e6freoof-1226277626545

[11] http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/queensland/murder-probe-after-teenage-girl-found-dead-at-house-in-paddington/story-e6freoof-1226131197282

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