Location: Coles – one of the major Australian supermarket chains.
Area: Magazine Section
In the past I have merely done this:

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But today – Wed 7th Jan – I decided I would say something, when I saw this on the second lowest shelf:

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I wrote to Coles to explain my experience in one of their stores:

In my visit to a Sydney Coles store this afternoon, I went past the magazine section and saw Zoo magazine (imaged attached) on the second lowest row – small child height – next to Peppa Pig. I asked a worker who was in the same aisle, who I could talk to about it and he directed me to go to the front desk. My children and I had a few items to buy so I asked the employee serving us in the express lane. I believe she was in a managerial position as she was making announcements over the speakers to coworkers. I explained what I saw and she said that everything had to be placed where Coles says and that there was nothing employees could change in terms of an item’s location – in this case, to put Zoo magazine high up (top) on the shelves. She showed me an example of this with a nearby drink refrigerator; pointing out the sticker which clearly indicates EXACTLY how it must be stocked. She also explained that a recent visit from the person who checks that it’s done properly, was VERY unhappy because it was incorrectly stocked. We – the Coles manager and myself – then moved to the magazine section and when we looked at the labels along the shelves (indicating where every magazine should be) – not one magazine was in its correct place. She removed the magazines and I trust (and hope) that the Zoo magazine ended up being placed high – if it has to go back at all. It would be fantastic if Coles takes the lead and sees the good removing magazines like Zoo from sale would do. It takes a village to raise a child and supermarkets – like Coles – are a part of that village. It also takes integrity. Consumers who want to see sexually, objectified women can access it everywhere – but it feels culturally oppressive when a magazine, sporting the image of a sexually objectified woman on a cover that matches its contents, is being sold at a supermarket chain, like Coles – placed low on its shelving. There were multiple copies of the magazine behind one another, so it was purposely placed there. Do you think it would be possible for Coles to stop selling Zoo magazine and any other magazines of its type? (In this particular store the only objectifying magazine that was on sale was Zoo, so I don’t know if there are others). Thank you so much for your time and consideration, and look forward to hearing from you. Paula Orbea

The following is a cartoon I’ve seen cross my Timeline from time to time, which asks a crucial question:

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Right? Another moment worth noting, was the response the managerial employee gave me when I was suggesting the magazine shouldn’t really be sold there in the first place. Her expression was one of raised eyebrows, looking at the cover, coupled with an expression (small smile?) that suggested it ‘wasn’t that bad’ – and said:

“I reckon you see worse on TV.”

“Yes”, I agreed, “but that’s a whole different issue.”

I don’t understand that kind of statement as an argument; that there’s something worse. There’s always something worse, and then something worse than that. And then worse than that.

That sort of statement argues that one shouldn’t stand and confront the ‘small stuff’ – like the soft porn industry, in this case; an industry that is heavily guiding younger and younger people toward an ocean of porn online (including terribly violent ones) – because there are *other* problems deemed more important for an activist attend to first…generally something in the ball park of, ‘Stop ISIS’ or ‘Get the girls from Nigeria back’.

What I find curious is how people who do *nothing*, suddenly presume themselves the Traffic Cops of Activism. In this case, the Coles employee removed the magazines, for the sole reason that they were in the wrong place. If it were to turn out that the Zoo magazines’ location – assigned by Coles – is smack bang in the middle of them all, I know that this employee would have put them in their ‘rightful place’ – as that is her directive. I’d like to add that this employee was courteous and professional in her conversation with me and that I appreciated her attention on the matter.

As I think of Maria in The Sound of Music teaching the children (through song, of course)about starting at the very beginning, as it’s a very good place to start – so must we. That is the only way change can truly occur – by getting to the roots of behaviour and action.

So have a look for yourselves – in the everyday world you and young people reside and ask:

Question #220 : What’s going on at ground zero?

What lessons and attitudes are being taught through consumption? Well, the selling of ‘soft porn’ (aka porn culture) in supermarkets is one thing, wouldn’t you say?

Deep breath.

PS This is the response I received from Coles:

Dear Ms Orbea

Thank you for your letter regarding the sale of magazines in our Coles stores.

Coles aim to provide customers with a wide range of products that appeal to a broad range of consumer tastes. We are very aware of our responsibilities in relation to the display of various magazines in our stores and we must comply with the guidelines set by the Classification Board and legislative requirements regarding the selection and placement of various magazines.

Magazines such as Zoo and FHM, do not have a classification rating, as set by the Classification Board, and form part of our men’s interest range of magazines.

Coles only sell magazines that are unclassified and to help ensure a comfortable shopping experience for all customers, these particular men’s magazines must be placed in our reading centres within our stores and are not to be sold from the stands next to the registers.

We are sorry to hear that you find these magazines offensive* and have forwarded your comments to our Merchandise Team so that they are also aware of your concerns.

Once again, thank you for taking the time to contact us. We appreciate your feedback and look forward to your future custom at Coles.

Regards

Patrick Chylinski
Coles Customer Care

*[Doesn’t sound like an apology]

For those who aren’t Aussie, ‘Cooee’ is a loud call which is used when one is lost – generally in The Bush; nature – or to attract attention. I’m using the latter.

I’m calling for reinforcements. A call to arms.

I’m calling on writers, politicians, people who know of Internet law – anyone – YOU ! – to have an intelligent discussion – to see if anything can be done.

I wholeheartedly believe that one of the biggest problems we face today, lies in two areas:
1. The ‘Freedom of Speech’ argument that seemingly has no limits whatsoever
2. The big companies that give hateful and violent perspectives a platform from where to spread their hatred. Like YouTube.

An abhorrent action happened a few weeks ago and it has been missed in the general conversation. Those who read my last post will know what I’m discussing here – the latest Redfoo song, and accompanying video, Literally, I can’t.

My first reaction was to ride the same wave for obvious reasons – its depiction of females to ‘toe the line’ and do as they’re told, i.e. drink, perform girl-on-girl action, dance (twerk), or be told to ‘Shut the Fuck Up’ repeatedly – and was something that incited a loud outcry; including my own.

I won’t write any more, as I have already expressed my thoughts about it and it has been covered extensively in social media.

But something even more sinister occurs within the video which, in my mind, encompasses everything that is wrong with pop culture today. Product placement has now become rampant in recent big name videos (a complete, greedy cop-out) and Redfoo’s video is no exception.

However, instead of merely advertising a set of speakers, Redfoo advertises a porn site.

So, we have a 39 year old ‘mentor’ on X Factor Australia, loved by many – especially kids and teens – advertising this porn site in his video, a video which ALSO (funnily enough) tells females to ‘shut the fuck up’ for not complying to their misogynistic ideals.

Question #216: Is this OK with you??

Well, it’s not for me and I started a petition to YouTube a few weeks ago:

>>> Here <<<

As I said above, this is not about Freedom of Speech because I am not saying Redfoo can’t make the song and video, I’m not even saying he can’t publish his song and video – what we have to stand up to are the companies like YouTube who give them a platform to spread their dangerous perspectives – like ADVERTISING PORN – regardless of their Community Standards. Facebook falls deeply into this category too.

Today, another example.
I viewed a YouTube video that is linked in a petition (which has since been won) – written by three survivors of male violence – to ‘family’ store, Target Australia, (which is advertising the R Rated 18+ video game, Grand Theft Auto 5, in their brochure for Christmas next to Peppa Pig) to take the product down.
Regardless of this rating, kids in Primary School often engage in talk about the prices for sex and blow jobs within the game because they play it; I hear this from first-hand accounts from various schools. I also know of a family whose 8 year old son had a lap dance performed on him, playing this ‘game’, witnessed by his 12 year old brother.

On offer with this version of the ‘game’, one can have ‘first person’ sex with prostitutes – and then kill them horrifically afterwards, if it pleases one.

(*TRIGGER WARNING* with this video. It is quite disturbing.)

If you don’t want to watch, I will tell you that there is a commentator going through this particular part of the game he’s playing and tells us that we’re going to see ‘Michael’ have sex. Some quotes from the commentary include:
“Michael is a married man but hey, a man has his needs”
“We are getting all three services from the prostitute. I don’t know her name, who cares what her name is, she has a job to do.”
The commentator then goes quiet as we watch – from a first person perspective – the sexual services performed. She – of course – acts like it’s the best sex she’s ever had in a car, in an alley, and even says to him in the end – “I feel like I can really talk to you, come back and see me?”
Finally the commentator says, as the prostitute walks off:
“Now in classic GTA 5 style – you can’t let her get away with your money, so we’re going to go ahead and back this bad-boy up” referring to his car as he runs her over twice – then sets her on fire, listening to her screams and finally shoots her with an automatic weapon. You may also choose a number of weapons to kill her with, including an axe.

My reason for this post is simple – just these two examples are proven to be embedded in too many young children’s social and pop-world lives – and they are on YouTube.
If the images and issues I’ve included here are shocking to you – then don’t you think something has to be done?

This is becoming the foundation of who we are as the human race because they’re the lessons that are truly getting through to our developing minds.

Why do companies like YouTube have Community Standards in the first place, if they’re not upheld? What’s the point of them?

It’s all slipping through the cracks and many kids in Primary and High School are being well and truly desensitised to the depravity they’re watching. These children will one day want to shape relationships and simply won’t know how because it’s been modelled for them in this toxic manner that surrounds them; it’s the common narrative.

Please sign my petition to YouTube. Maybe this isn’t the answer, but simply the start where we ask companies to have our back first and we’ll have theirs.

Question #217: Do you have any other suggestions on how we can have companies stand by their own standards?
[also MASSIVELY; Facebook]

Deep Breath…

COOO-EEEEE !!

>> Sign Petition to YouTube Here <<

Today

August 31, 2014

Today my 11 year old daughter and I attended our second march against our current government – March in August organised by March Australia – due to its marginalising decisions for Australians and their seeming complete inability to see the big picture.

Today was about many things for her and me – climate change, education, women’s issues – but we personally marched for those seeking asylum; how the horrors they have lived and seen are somehow considered null and void because they came here by boat (and after a particular date) and must logically be punished for it, suffering endless incarceration.

My daughter excitedly announced that she wanted to make her own sign; she decided on a slogan and did the writing herself. It turned out being so endearing because she realised too late that she forgot the ‘s’ at the end of the word refugee and had to place it underneath.

It even got on the news:

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I’m so proud of her. Again.

Later, whilst we watched the news on numerous channels, we were saturated with stories of global war and atrocities. That’s when our Prime Minister appeared saying he’s now committed Australia to weapons air drops in Iraq.
Lots of male voices and leaders pledging more violence; more fighting.
Fighting that will cause more of the displaced, who will most probably flee for their lives and seek asylum. Wouldn’t you?
Not here, though. Not here.

Today, however, hot on the heels of the disheartening stories and facts I listened to at the march – I read of something incredible and inspiring.

Four teenage girls from Nigeria aged between 14 and 15 years of age, created a generator that runs 6 hours of electricity on a litre of urine.

Isn’t that mind-blowing?

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Here are four human beings who see the big picture.
This invention is ingenious. They used intelligence.

Yet. These four humans are a part of this paradigm and hence have labels attached to them that will determine a probable dim future – they are African and they are female.
Not much is going to happen with this; the ‘system’ won’t allow it.

So, as I bathe in the wonderfulness of these girls and then glance up to the news, I wonder:

Question #210: When will the human race start to organise itself and start being intelligent about our global future?

When?

Why all the horror and injustice, just to make money at the expense of others?
It’s only blacking our soul as a species.

Today I marched with my daughter – heard about the continuing injustices in every corner of the globe, as well as in our own backyards – and experienced a sliver of hope.

Today.

What will tomorrow bring?

Deep breath.

To begin I would like to express my awe at the overwhelming and resolute support I received during the last six days, due to the petition I initiated. I am truly humbled.
I want to quickly address a few points, as I need to sit down and have a moment of normalcy again. The last six days have been a surreal mix of many emotions.

I started the petition for one reason only – to remove slogans, like the one that upset my 11 year old daughter, from the outside of Wicked Camper vans.
And they have complied.
Have they had a change of heart? Well, that remains to be seen.
But, as I wrote in my penultimate post – we must judge people on their actions.

Only time will tell – so give them time.

Under the law of Freedom of Speech, Wicked Campers are not obliged to take down any of their signage – which is why they had chosen to continue practising as they were, despite numerous attempts from the Advertising Standards Board to have offensive slogans, deemed to have crossed ethical and community standards, removed.

But this wasn’t about the law – it was about the standards we hold as human beings.

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Thanks to the staggering amount of people who supported this campaign – 127 752 signatures – in such a concentrated amount of time, we were able to send a clear message that this sort of signage was in fact not a standard we were willing to accept.

* For the clichéd response telling me (us) to ‘not buy it if we don’t like it’; I answer you with the fact that the ONLY person who doesn’t see the signage, is the driver him/herself – it’s the public that has it rammed in their face, regardless.

* For those who have said there are far more important issues to fight for – like the horror in the Gaza strip (for example) and where the petition for that is; I answer you in two ways.

Firstly, calling out misogyny is a paramount issue to fight.
Females around the planet are being sexually assaulted and murdered for the simple fact that they are female. This wouldn’t be happening if they were respected. One woman a week dies from Domestic Violence in Australia and a slogan that says ‘a wife is attachment you screw on the bed to do the housework’ degrades females to nothing more than that and it is hateful.

I also believe many slogans demean males too. Grooming males to believe they’re mindless and sex-obssesed, do no favours to our boys and, in turn, our girls. Slogans such as the following are disturbing – both the visual and what it’s saying:

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We would never see, ‘We’re here for your sons’ because we all know what the slogan above means.

Secondly, if one feels that there are issues out there worth fighting for and that a petition will do something, then by all means, create one.
I found it incredible that people provided me with a list of issues I *should* be fighting for – basically saying I shouldn’t be bothering with my daughter’s emotional response to the slogan she saw, but rather appease strangers and their vocal outrage that I had the gall to do it over other issues.
To you I say – Do something about it yourself. I did this for my daughter.

* To all those who said I gave Wicked Campers free advertising, I say to you that it is an irrelevant argument.
My motives never were, nor do they continue to be, about bringing down Wicked Campers – it was to remove certain morally offensive slogans. In fact, if this petition causes the company to reevaluate their business model to better fit the ethical standards of society – well, wouldn’t that be the best victory of all?

Only three days after releasing the petition I received a personal email from Ross, a representative for Wicked Campers, apologising to my daughter and myself. He wrote:

I wish to commend you on your campaign, I believe you’ve carried yourself with poise and intellect and kept your side of the discussion civilised (where others have resorted to physical threats)

I would like to say at this point, that anyone who writes to someone, saying they wish to incite violence against them (or anyone for that matter), is abhorrent and goes against the spirit of this petition.
I have also received graphically violent death threats due to this stance and it’s quite distressing and completely unnecessary. Noone deserves that.

Wicked Campers also included the following press release; sections which have now been used in a number of articles outlining the commitment they are making to do as the petition asked. This is the full statement:

Statement: John Webb on behalf of Wicked Campers Australia

First and foremost, we sincerely apologise for any distress that has been caused.

Anybody who is familiar with our brand would probably know that we are strong proponents of free speech and pushing the limits of humour – we are a ‘cash for chaos’ kind of company.
As is often quoted ‘A sense of humour is a sense of proportion’. And in this instance, we admit that we have taken things out of proportion and out of the realms of what is considered to be ‘socially acceptable’.

We are a small company, with eclectic, creative and multi-cultural staff. It is impossible for us to conceive that a throw-away message written on a van could have such far-reaching implications for the community at large.

Over the past few years Wicked has supported numerous charity endeavours including:

Free hires for Returned Servicemen & Servicewomen (2011 – 2013)

A Mardi Gras float for the Metropolitan Christian Church Sydney to promote social & religious acceptance of homosexuality in the community (2014)

Support for the ‘Free to be Kids’ Charity, whose goal is to facilitate child centered community development in Kolkata with the aim of improving the community’s capacity to protect children. Wicked Campers have donated over $70,000 to this organisation in the hope of improving the welfare of children in India (2012 – 2013).

Wicked Campers Owner, John Webb wishes to acknowledge the prevailing community opinion by REMOVING the slogan in question and making a commitment over the coming six months to changing slogans of an insensitive nature. Bear in mind however, many of the images presented in the media of our vehicles are from up to 8 years ago, and the vehicles simply do not exist anymore.

In the spirit of being ‘actionist’, Wicked Campers also invites anybody who feels strongly offended by a slogan to either paint or tape over it.

Mr Webb implores everyone to also focus their passions and energies on a worthy cause such as funding for women’s refuges and shelters around Australia.

“If everyone who signs this petition were to donate to a worthy charity – even just $10, we’d be closer to achieving something truly positive from this campaign.

It is easy to get caught up in the news cycle and the mob-mentality of the internet, but the fact remains, the world’s problems will still exist next week, long after this has blown over. Don’t forget the cause – it’s still there, hidden amongst the memes and useless drivel that pops up in your feed.

We’ve given and we will continue to give – so if you give to a women’s refuge or charity this week, send us the receipt and we’ll write you a personal apology for any offense that has been caused”.

Wicked Campers would also like to commend all petition signers for their passion and commitment to the cause – and their openness to actively working with us towards a compromise. Again, we apologise for any distress that has been caused.

For receipts for donations made, please email: marketing@wickedcampers.com
Many thanks

John Webb
Owner – Wicked Campers

Lastly, what is very important to note, is that this victory happened because ultimately, my daughter and I were respected throughout this journey – by everyone; the populous that cared more than it didn’t and joined the fight; the reporters – ALL of them (I thank you all for that, I still feel honoured to be asked); to being listened to by the business itself and even had a motion passed in the Senate.
In four and a half days.

We just achieved a really good thing. We stood up for a better standard.

My daughter is so happy…in her 11 year old way.

Thank you everyone. Thank you very much.

Deep Breath

 

A chilling experience.

May 29, 2014

Whilst discussing the need to look at the actions that are plaguing our existence, an illuminating response came from a wonderful follower and artist blogger, Godtisx.

In the big (mammoth) scheme of things, this is just one microscopic drop of an experience that happened to her.
But it’s not a small deal – because this seemingly ‘innocent’ interaction has happened to a friend; can and does happen to far too many females; it could happen to me.

Godtisx wrote:

You know the problem is entitlement, and society is now constructed in such a way that men feel we are partnering in their thoughts towards access. So many women are overtly sexualizing themselves in such a way who can have a reaction.

I.e. The other day I was in the supermarket, and this really handsome man (and well dressed too) came up to me and started chatting me up. Soon I wanted to get to shopping, so I tried to conclude the conversation with saying we’ll see one another around for sure. I was interested. But then he grabs my hand and starts saying stuff like I’m so attracted to you, are you attracted to me. *Awkward/forced.* So I even said you’re nice looking… but was already feeling uncomfortable w/ the sudden handling?

Then he says I wanna take care of you will you let me? So me being a bit of an introvert, didn’t catch it. I laugh and say, we’ll see each other around, see how it goes blah blah. Then he goes, I wanna take care of you just tell me what you want. So now I am confused. And he goes what do you want? Still not getting it.

Finally he goes I wanna f–k you. How much do you want.

I go — WHAT? You think I’m a hooker? Then I get, no no. I just wanna, and fumbling. I pull away and tell him with a different attitude now, I’ll see you around. With him, trying to apologize and me continuing to move away from him physically. But as I was leaving I thought, I better be careful. That’s the kinda guy that will wait around the corner for you or something. Every woman has to go through this kind of stuff sometime in her life. And unfortunately, it doesn’t turn out positive for some. 😦

How horrible. Seriously.
That feeling of wondering whether a person, who is so forward, is capable of more.
Can they get angry? Have I used the right tone with this complete stranger, to not trigger a negative reaction that may cause harm?

One simply never knows.
And it’s not that ‘every male is like that’, either – it’s that the statistics are stacked against us.
I think the tweet below explains perfectly:

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The other important issue (and the apparent white elephant in discussions), is the one thing that truly does separate the sexes, and that is that males are stronger (in general) than females. And that strength is used against us.
When I was attempted raped at university and the sobering moment hit – that it was actually commencing – I knew that the only chance I had, was to use my wits. He had already threatened me with his strength, saying he didn’t want to ‘get violent’ – so I knew I wouldn’t succeed that way.

#NotAllMen but #YesAllWomen

Question #206: Is the argument clear?

It’s urgent that people understand it because there really is no other way to put it.

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Deep Breath.

Not *all* men.

May 27, 2014

A fabulous Twitter hashtag firestorm has been born.
It’s #YesAllWomen – a powerful and indignant reaction to the murders committed in the US over the weekend and a response to the usual male cry, when crimes like this occur, of ‘Not ALL men are like that.’
This argument is the endless battle toward a sense of equilibrium. It exhaustingly halts all debate and progress, as the manner in how we tackle issues, like violence against women, becomes the focal point; predominantly how it’s Not. All. Men.
I remember discussing this with my husband because I couldn’t (and still don’t) really comprehend how that argument is deemed more important to deliberate, over the crucial issue/s at hand.

Yes, it is true. Not all men are violent; not all men are rapists.

But it must be understood that, Yes – all women live in an ever more dangerous world.
All females are at risk of male violence. 1 in 3.

The incident mentioned above, that occurred in Santa Barbara on this last Friday 23 May, has left the world in reeling shock. In case you’ve been on a media freeze over the last few days, 22 year old Elliot Rodger stabbed, shot and killed 6 people and then himself, after leaving a 141 page manifesto (with the date of his planned attack and how he was going to execute it) and various video blogs, obsessing about his virginity and loneliness.

He ultimately sought “retribution” on women in general; wanting to “punish” them for rejecting him. His manifesto outlines his desire to put all women in a concentration camp and sit in a tower to watch them all starve to death; saying, “If I can’t have them, noone will.”

My reaction was one of unsurprised horror – but not as much for the shooting and stabbing acts themselves (although my heart aches for those innocent lives – of both genders – cut short due to him) but for what he said, before following through on his hatred, in a kind of ‘suicide note’ on video.
The depth of bitterness this young man harboured and let fester, is psychopathic and his obsession over what he seems to deem is ‘owed’ to him – a woman’s body for sex – is what ultimately drives him to savagely murder and take his own life.

So now the debate begins – or does it?

Exhibit A:
There are those who defend this man and say he’s a legend. MRAs – Men’s Rights Activists.
A Facebook page was started called, ‘Elliot Rodger an American Hero’. I urged my followers on Facebook to report the page to them. It’s been taken down twice, but then the author just starts up a new page. The page creator has said he’s developing a game called ‘You can’t doge the Rodge’ and has asked for funding. (We all know who will get shot in this game).
According to him he has received $500 already. **

One responder to this page wrote:

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So we all agree this is all a tad evil, no?
One man; one crazy mind?
No. It’s much, much more. Just one person saying they may do the same as Rodger, due to females not allowing them access to their bodies, is terrifying. It could be anyone.
The sense of entitlement is crippling.

Not all men are violent; but all women live a life of risk.

As the usual method of debate is proving to be largely useless, due the heavy cloak of clichés and the status quo, I believe there are only two questions we need to be asking as a species:

Question #204: What is the action?

Question #205: Who is doing it?

Regardless of gender.

Once a problem has been identified – in this case, Violence – the only port of call is to look at who is doing it – whether male or female and punish according to the action.
Isn’t that logical?
Statistically – in this current paradigm – it’s males. Males are violent.
Is it conditioning? Absolutely.
But this is not to say that there aren’t males who suffer from violence – but again one must ask, Who is doing it? Some are females; more are males.

I leave you with the image below that I found on the Internet:

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Most (all?) females would feel a sense of dread in a situation like this.

The points to ponder are 1. Why do females feel this way and 2. how can perceptions and practices be changed so that all we see in this photo, are just people?

Deep Breath.

 

** At time of publishing this post, Facebook had taken down all pages associated with Elliot Rodger. The irony is that I reported many of the statuses within the post and I’m still receiving messages from Facebook telling me the hate speech on the page is not hate speech – on a page that doesn’t exist!

But never fear – IT’S BACK and this time they want a civil suit against the Sorority girls who didn’t ‘service’ Rodger. The email contact is a female – because that’s going to give the movement credibility now.
So I repeat – what is the action and who is doing it?

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I have grappled with the issue of pitting and comparing the actions and/or adversities of one gender by using the other to illustrate, for a long time – but it simply does not sit right with me.

It is like comparing apples with oranges.

For the most part, I believe the intention is generally a positive one (which is a refreshing step toward good), but when perceptions and customs related to gender are so profoundly entrenched, it falls short of accurately addressing the deep-seeded issues of gender disparity.

Exhibit A:

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This is a familiar visual representation that now seems to be common practice in highlighting gender-label ridiculousness – namely, a female’s.

There are two issues I have with this sort of juxtaposition:

1. Females have always been represented in this way – used as (sexual) ornaments. Males never have. So when we look at the females in the images, we see ‘normal’ and when we scan across to the males in similar poses, we see humour.

Steve Carell, Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert recently did a photo shoot, emphasising the ludicrous poses females are encouraged to do:

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Its intentions are admirable but – it’s not the same. It’s just funny.
That humour can (ultimately) also work negatively for the females they’re trying to help, by making them look stupid for participating in their own exploitation; for posing that way in the first place.

I recently saw a snippet of reality TV the other day – one that does renovations on houses. There was a moment where all the contestants had an impromptu dance-off, which lead to the inevitable circle where they strut their stuff in the middle. One of the women chose to be semi-provocative by doing some fetching grinding moves against her partner.
Next was a male. He also did a bit of a provocative dance. It was funny. Everyone laughed.

2. The biggest issue, however, is vulnerability.
When a female is posing sexually, she is vulnerable – her breasts may be practically exposed; she may be bending over something with a short skirt; she may be wearing impossible-to-walk-in-heels (not easy to escape anyone in high heels btw) – you follow my drift.
The males in these representations, however, are not vulnerable.
Their only place of vulnerability is their penis and that is (as always in this current paradigm) *fully* covered.

Everywhere; every time.

How ironic that we seem to find comfort in the male gender – dipped head high in privilege – outlining the woes of the ‘lesser’ gender. Double irony? In most cases it’s statistically males pushing females to pose this way in the first place.

OK, let’s turn the tables; in format as well as gender reversal.

Let’s look at how men are represented and doing the switch.

Exhibit B:

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The image above is from the show, Beauty and the Geek. Never before have I witnessed such a blatantly sexist prime-time show; super-gluing more gender stereotypes to an already fragile equation.
Female = sexy, hot and DUMB;
Male = be who you want to be, you can still get a ‘hot’ female.

Can you imagine a show – heck, a REALITY – where we see females who are daggy/geeky/nerds of various body shapes, together with ‘hot’ males?

I can – but know it’s a concept that is (for the most part) a flash in the pan.
I remember through ads that Glee had a moment where an overweight girl was coupled with the hot football player.

427px-Luck-Pizes

I wonder how many people were genuinely comfortable watching that visual?
I say visual because that’s all ANY of this is based on.
It’s irrelevant whether personalities gel or if people have a profound connection, because ultimately that’s not the message that wants to get taught; there’s no money to be made, if females are secure within themselves, after all.

I intensely wish for a more equal and balanced playing field for females and the bottom line is that females are more than just being the packaging for males’ sexual fantasies.

Question #199: Isn’t this world ready – YET – to unlock the wonderful array of possibilities – just by getting past that horrifically limiting idea of females?

I’ll leave you to think.

My next post is my 200th Question.
Bring your thinking caps along.

Deep Breath.

x

The penny has dropped for me.

It happened last week; the week that saw this blog turn two – a blog that was spawned from the chasm of questions I had about myself and the world I was navigating through with my two daughters. At risk of sounding like a colossal cliché, it was, in fact, my phase as a mother that really drove the creation of the blog…I was starting to lose myself in the label and rubber stamp that is, mother’.
The intention was to engage with others and make some sense of the madness; to dig down to the dark and selfish root system our species seems to be drawing its inspiration from an attempt to unpack the question: How did we get to this toxic point in time?
An online discussion with radical feminist, Sister Trinity, saw me reach a pinnacle in my thinking. 

The problem is gender; more specifically gender roles and labels.

Before I delve deeper into that nugget, let me explain the angle from which I am coming.
I’m currently engaging in an intensive workshop with my daughters these holidays, teaching them to be smart about the actions they take. From as simple as how to hang a wet towel out to dry, to more complex scenarios – basically everything, really.
I’m teaching them to think of the big picture. Think and be smart; unlock some ingenuity. Narrow the problem down to its core and then take action that’s intelligent. The big picture has to include their fellow human beings (from a starting point of kindness) and therefore actions must cater to others’ rights. It all starts in the home in how we deal with each other and extends out. I am also participating in this little workshop I’ve concocted with the girls.

The A-Ha moment
Up until last week I systematically accepted that men and women had certain ‘characteristics’. Sister Trinity’s words to me, however, finally ignited a long-awaited burst of clarity which resonated succinctly to me:

“There is no ‘female mind’  – sex is physical.
Our bodies shouldn’t define who we are IN ANY WAY.
This is what feminism fights (should fight) for.
The idea that we are born with essentially ‘feminine’ or ‘masculine’ personalities – not just male and female bodies – is deeply offensive; since if you look at what ‘femininity’ stands for, it’s clear patriarchy has assigned the inferior and submissive caretaker role to us.”  

BAM!
And we know it’s correct because we know we don’t teach  according to ‘gendered’ brains. I am not altering what I’m teaching my daughters (nor in my classroom) due to whether they have a male or female brain – I’m just teaching. As do you.

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I still think that nature (which always pushes for procreation) draws man and woman together, but that should be it. Everything else is a construct. An ever-shrinking label of conformity. Everything.

If you’re shaking your head and thinking (as I do at times),  ‘But I AM this way through my choice’, I would simply ask you to just ponder how much has really been your choice? It’s not black and white, I know, but it deserves thought. This is not the moment for the discussion of ‘choice’ but we human beings have to agree that we have little choice in our lives – planet wide – when you sensibly think about it…except on how to spend your money, of course.

Nature v Nurture? I think the majority of it, is nurtured.
If life is a complete construct and you’ve been told, since birth, how each gender ‘should’ behave and more importantly, what it should strive for in life (especially in the ‘western world’), then it only stands to reason that gender IS the root of many of the serious conundrums we’re facing today – stretching back through a very long and entrenched system.

To explore even further, my birthday question to you is:

Question #196: What IS a woman?

Really think about this.

Pretty? Dumb? Sexy? Hairless? Mother? Nurturer? Weak? Desperate? Emotional (crying)? Whore? Wants to get married to a man and have babies? Bitch? Can’t make her own money so has to marry a man? Credit card addict? Shopping addict? Likes pink? Squeals if she sees a mouse? Likes housework? Nag? Knows how to get stains out? Multi-tasker?

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Whatever you add, these are all simply labels (what gender roles basically are) and countless women will vehemently disagree with being pigeon-holed into these labels because we know that what’s inside us is unique and that the only thing women have in common is a uterus.

For that matter, what is a man?
The boss? Bread winner? Player? Intelligent? The Man?  Powerful? Ruler? Strong? Stupid? Emotional (violent)? Rapist? Detached emotionally? Hates the idea of being ‘tied down’? Under the thumb?  Needs a man cave? Handyman? Car hoon? Ejaculation obsessed? Blue wearer? Sports obsessed? Violent video games obsessed? Dickhead? Useless? Pants only?
Same goes here, as above. All constructed labels. The difference is that males benefit greatly from this list.

I'm Glad 8

The world we have designed is ludicrous. We have become stupid.
We have allowed this design to nurture an obsession with greed and to revolve around giving the penis full privilege in seeking out what it needs to gain satisfaction. Mainly women.

Whilst the subservient females fulfil their destinies as mothers and housekeepers, whilst juggling all the injustices and inequalities that are thrown their way – again only due to owning a uterus.

In short, we are suffocating the true potential of what we can achieve – for all – as a species.

This stagnant construct can change through how we raise our children. To quote Yoda, we have to ‘unlearn what we have learned‘ and give our children a basis that teaches that we all have unique and amazing bodies that provide natural functions and miracles, but it is our mind that can do, be and express itself in whichever way it wants – as long as the rights that one expects for oneself, are afforded to the rest.

To practise humanity.

We need to be smart about this.

Deep Breath.

x

Pass it on.

December 22, 2013

Does anyone remember the movie, Awakenings?

Based on a true story, Robert De Niro plays a patient – one of many – who is catatonic. They are all ‘awakened’ from their condition by a doctor (Robin Williams), testing a new drug which seemed to work…until it didn’t. I have this image in my head from the film, where De Niro’s character’s health is regressing and deteriorating; where the viciousness of his spasms cause his muscles to slowly seize, rendering them stiff and him catatonic, once again. (I cried for about half-an-hour after that movie ended, when I was at Uni. Head buried in a pillow.)

As of late, I’ve been experiencing moments where I feel mentally unable to move. The instances, and the related feelings that come with them, are happening a little bit more often as time passes.
I feel stiffened by the world – machine at work – people surrounding all of us and running the show. The drive to make excessive moneyat all costs, regardless of who or what suffers – sickens me.
And it’s not just in the dark, underbelly of life – it’s disgustingly in government and big business; hand in hand; cutting more and more corners at our expense. There is no escape from it – the Internet makes sure of that, of course; with pictures and everything:
Atrocities being done to people – predominantly women and children;
Atrocities being done to animals;
Atrocities being done to the planet;
By Bullies.

oppression

Question #194: Where’s the outcry?

There are many ‘regular’ people out there – wonderful people with courage – driven to do something and speak up. A common way to raise awareness is by starting a petition. My heart aches to see the flow of terribly unjust issues going on and on out there; as they appear in my Newsfeeds and emails. It’s so deflating.
Helen Razer recently posted a piece about her refusal to sign petitions (amongst other actions) saying:

“If you just want me to sign your online petition, I will not sign it until you sign my online petition declaring that the purpose of online petitions is to draw attention to the fact that one has signed an online petition.”

I don’t agree with her comment above. I think there are many petitions out there that, with a big enough *outcry*, can (and do) create change.

But again – where is it?

I write here; I call things out and discuss different perspectives with the few who indulge me;
I share petitions calling for actionsometimes they work, but on the whole people stay mute; I also started a campaign with my friend Lily Munroe, to ‘Lose the Lads’ Mags’ and we’ve collected some great support from Collective Shout and awesome activists like Steve Biddulph. We have been just about ready to go for a few months now, but have been temporarily halted in the search for legal help. When we get going, a petition will be launched.

This is the juncture, where we seem to hit the wall.
Regardless of what action is taken – one still hits that wall of indifference…or hate.
The change that’s urgently needed for a more just existence for all, seems near impossible with our current paradigm – an overpopulated one – where Greed and the attainment of excessive money is far, far stronger – even (especially?) amongst our common populace.

So here I am – finding myself slowly stiffening, due to the lack of change for things we all know have to. As I look one way and see an injustice being called out, I read the vitriolic labels, clichés and criticisms that ooze out of trolls and the ignorant, through their comments – inherently saying, “Shhhhhhh….”

This post took me days to write and I nearly scrapped it all together. I feel like I’m getting repetitive – which is, in actual fact, the point; if it’s getting repetitive, then we have a problem, right? But ultimately, my posts are possibly causing the same reaction in you, that the cruel and grim realities of so very, very many of our own kind, are having on me.

So I’m stepping back from the blog for a mo’. I’m going to enjoy this holiday period with my family and wish the same for you.
A little more kindness – that’s what I’m pushing with my girls in how they treat each other.

The world is thirsty for it too.

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I hope 2014 is the ‘Year of Action’ where we, the people, band together as a race and balance things out a bit. It’s getting hideous out there.

I still have a plethora of things to say but they’re just going to come, when they come.
In the meantime, there are nearly two years’ worth of posts on this blog, covering many an issue. I invite you to take a stroll back there – maybe even partake in a wee chat with me.

I wish you all a Christmas that is merry, safe and full of awesome!
Lots of love to you and your loved ones.
Pass it on.

Paula x

Deep Breath.

In the play, Threepenny Opera by Bertolt Brecht, a corrupt character named Peachum starts his first stint on stage by looking directly at the audience and declaring the lines:

“Awake, you sinners, awake!”

That’s aimed at us – Society – one that ‘sins’ through its compliant silence.

Brecht was a political playwright who wanted people to watch his theatre with intellect and reason, and not be deceived by the lure and grip of emotion.
Ultimately, he wanted people to leave the theatre with a sense of recognising the ludicrous injustices (still) going on in the world and DO something – to leave the theatre:

AWAKE!

Question #193: What does it take to stir the depths of society’s moral and ethical compass?

Last night was the first game – here in Australia – of the US inspired, Lingerie Football League. This is an issue I have fiercely argued about in the past.

It is with continued disbelief that, in 2013, we actually have these poor women – desperate for ANY sort of respectful attention toward their sporting and physical prowess – play with (essentially) virtually exposed breasts.
The image below is from the US league.

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I shudder to imagine the soreness and pain their breasts must feel, if that’s what they run in (no support) and smash into each other with.

 

Nope. Shaking my head. Gobsmacked.

 

AWAKE!

 

Women’s sport is virtually ignored.
Our screens are a deluge of men’s sport, 90% male commentary and male worship.

 

In David Penberthy’s article – Lingerie League an Insult to Sport and Channel 7 – he writes:

 

“It is pretty weird that at a time when our cricketers couldn’t buy a win, and were making headlines instead for being sent home after refusing to do their homework or decking a Pommy batsman in the small hours at an English pub, our women cricketers were quietly going about the business of becoming world champions, again.
Couldn’t name one of them.”

 

That’s the crux.
We don’t see women’s sport…unless they’re in their underwear?
Sexism. Pure sexism.

 

Last night the Lingerie Football League claimed two victims.

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Victim #1: Tahina Booth (pictured above), was taken away by ambulance due to injury.
One person on Twitter said she appeared in agony for a while before the ambulance arrived.

The following was Tahina’s response to a question from Andrew Webster from the Sydney Morning Herald:

There are a lot of critics of this sport. I have my own doubts. What would you say to them?
“I understand. I have a complex with the uniform. I don’t like it, and it’s not practical. But when you look at it, there are masses of people coming to watch … they realise it’s not for fun and these girls aren’t taking it lightly. A lot of feminists have told me I’m a disgrace. I tell them that I’m doing this for an opportunity. I
work so hard, it’s cost me so much money. I just want to be the best I can be.” *

How sad that here in Australia, women athletes like Tahina are simply not respected. That her ‘opportunity’ can only come from a form of undress.
 This is sexism at its purest.

The LFL responded today about her ‘injury’, stating she was merely dehydrated.
I sincerely hope that’s all it was.

Victim #2: Randy Perret – father to one of the players – wrote the following apology to Collective Shout, when his daughter was deemed ‘too fat’ to play, ON GAME DAY:

“I wish to apologise for the comments have posted lately regarding the LFL in Australia. i have known of Mitchell Mortaza and his reputation within the States but thought that maybe with a fresh start in Australia he may change his ways. Wrong. My 18 year old daughter has been told that she has to “lean out” to wear the uniform. That’s right. 
So yes LFL is all about how the girls look not how well they play the game. So now I have my 18 year old daughter down in NSW, shattered emotionally because at the last minute she has been told that she is too ‘fat’ to play his game. Send me any petitions you like and will gladly sign them. Also please forward any contacts as I wish to fight this all the way. 
We can not have our young girls thinking that you need to be skinny to play any sport in this country.”

She had already spent money on getting the prerequisite spray tan before the game.
Spray tan. Any Australian male footballers putting on their obligatory spray tan before a game?

No – the female athletes of Australia are not being respected. In this case, they are (mundanely) being exploited for their physical appearance. The fact that the audience is predominantly there for titillation through accidental nudity (something in the girls’ clause to play), is a truly sad indictment of our current paradigm.

Awake.

Deep Breath.

x

* Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/sport/cricket/shane-watson-knows-tons-talk-as-hostilities-resume-20131205-2ytyv.html#ixzz2mrtjMou9