Today a good friend of mine ripped out the article from her local Inner West newspaper and sent it to me. It echoes an article I shared last night on social media, about the fact that Wicked Campers is seeking council approval to open a depot on Church Street in St Peters, Sydney. This will mean that, being near a primary school, children will regularly see some of the more unsavoury and insensitive slogans that Wicked Campers pride themselves on. Local parents aren’t happy; well the mums taking a stand in the picture definitely aren’t.

 

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Eight moths ago, when I ran the campaign asking Wicked Campers to remove misogynistic and degrading slogans, there was outrage – OUTRAGE, I say – coursing through the Internet like hot lava. It spurred a little bit of hateful debate but for the most part, a sense of solidarity prevailed from both sexes; agreeing that Wicked Campers has some pretty offensive and degrading slogans driving around our public spaces. So much so, The Senate unanimously voted to condemn them and Wicked Campers themselves promised they would remove ‘insensitive slogans’. Their word; insensitive.

So with ALL that – where are we today?
Despite having broken their promise, showing their complete contempt, Wicked Campers are business as usual; having franchises throughout the world and will (possibly) soon be getting cozy with one of the Inner West’s communities of Sydney. Many have asked me how these things are possible and it reminded me of a quote form the film V for Vendetta:

‘How did this happen? Who’s to blame? Well certainly there are those more responsible than others, but again truth be told, if you’re looking for the guilty, you need only look into a mirror.’ V

All I can say is; The standard we walk past, is the standard we accept.

This Wicked crusade has been a fascinating, albeit depressing, social experiment in my eyes. July 2014? Fury and lividity. Fast forward six months, when I wrote of their contempt and loss of integrity – all I heard, was the sound of crickets. Few shared the update and when I contacted some of the news people who originally reported on this important ‘hot’ issue with fervour and expressed their equal indignation, I received a tepid response; with some referring it on to others, who never called me back. No stories were run. As a collective, Australia went on as a bystander again.

I don’t get it. Was all of that bravado over the exact slogan my daughter saw? Because there are terrible ones that are still out there, right now. I’ve recently updated the last post with recent sightings from around Australia – sometimes seeing the same van at different corners of the country. Appalling vans, like the following, and more:

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Question#224: Is this the standard we want to teach? 

And as for the absence of male voices and faces in the fight against all this; I believe that as a society – and more importantly, as a culture – we are not only teaching our youth that perspectives like these have our permission to advertise themselves, we are also teaching our youth that because males aren’t standing on an equally visible, vocal platform – it makes it doubly OK. 

When it comes to battles asking for a little more humanity, women hold the front line. Without resorting to blood-shed, women put them selves ‘out there’ none the less; feeling fear and vulnerability, and risk crossing paths with threatening and violent Internet trolls. Due to this campaign, I received two violent messages from the same person (amongst others) and had a Wanted style poster made of me – falsely identifying where I lived. Imagine if he had been right.
The irony? He published under an alias. Coward. (I know his real name, though.)
Neither Facebook nor the Police did anything. And here I was naively thinking it was against the law to threaten someone. With proof, no less.

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Lastly, noone – especially the women who publicly question – actually wants any of this. I put up an update because I thought people would want to be informed; you know, considering that initial reaction. But I’m tired. I’m tired of the walls and the apathy. I’m tired of feeling helpless because problems like this can’t be solved with just the ideas of a few – it needs people power to make change occur. And people power is simply doing something. Anything. Regardless of who one is or what position one holds. This includes John Webb, owner of Wicked Campers. (It’s never too late, John).

And to be clear – this is not about burning this business to the ground nor using threats or violence – it is about finding a solution to the problem, and that problem is that certain slogans need to come down.

Question #225: So what can YOU do? 

Write, call, gather, talk – whatever.
Down to earth blogger and all-round amazing human, Eden Riley, was active and did it her way; numerous people have written to me, telling me they have contacted camp sites to enquire about their policy regarding Wicked vans – some sites don’t let the vans in, if they have offensive slogans. Let backpackers know this. Others have written to their political reps.
And today I applaud the women who are going to tackle the fight at St Peters. I’m with you wholeheartedly.

[Insert own action]

Deep Breath.

Paula

Questions for *You*.

October 19, 2014

Just recently I had the incredible honour of presenting at the International Women’s Liberation Summit. It was an enthralling few days, hearing stories from such a rich pool of experience – not all nice, of course, but profoundly unifying.

The biggest issue I explored was the predictable and pedestrian narrative being spewed forth – one that has not deviated much, in essence, since the ’50s [Man = strong, brains, breadwinner, leader; Woman = weak, multi-tasker, housewife, follower] by the media and advertising at a ground-zero level; mainly through the common TV, the medium of choice, consumed by the masses.

My presentation – and my actual main concern with us human beings – addressed the way in which we perceive ourselves and categorise each other into labels; ever-restricting ones. I believe our obsession with labelling, will be our eventual undoing as a species.

It’s permeated every crevice from sex + gender through to race + religious beliefs; from what needs to be ‘tested’ in school to determine a student’s worth (label at the ready) through to perceptions of who a person is just from what job they have, where they live, clothes they wear, what they earn etc – all of which we know is ludicrous and non-sensical but something we sadly participate in (and consume), nonetheless.

The worst labelling by far, is sex; the label that hurts women and girls the most. It hurts us all, actually. We mustn’t forget the boys – because as easy (and true) as it is to say that males commit the most crimes, we must ask ourselves – how did they become the ‘monsters’ we keep reporting they are?

They were taught – just like girls are taught.

As the battle rages over what exactly a woman or man is, our media manages to showcase very strict guidelines as to how men and women are to be represented and perceived – this is the very labelling I want to debunk with our youth. They are our hope of change.

So I started a business to channel my activism toward them.

About three weeks before the Wicked Campers campaign in July, my business was born –  to present workshops about media literacy, how we relate to each other as human beings, resilience, consumption and more.

I’ve called the business Questions for You, as the questions will be the springboard toward healthy discussion – using critical thinking.
The central theme – and what I titled my presentation at the Summit – is:

The standard we walk past, is the standard we accept.

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I’ll tell you why our young ones are the answer. Recently, I had the privilege of seeing a volume of work, created by students, using film to tell a story. It was such an enlightening experience. I loved it. Some narratives blew me away and others reinforced stereotypes. The point is, however, that I saw a balance. And the incredible part is that I had no idea what sex had created what piece. Logic tells me that I saw sophisticated pieces equally from both males and females; all telling unique stories. This needs to be preserved and nurtured.

Turn to the TV and movie narratives, however, and we see something formulaic and banal. Our youth have the capacity to see beyond this but some need a guiding hand in helping them open their eyes to the ‘product’ they’re being sold – mainly what they’re being taught about each other and ‘how it is’. This sort of language will also be explored in workshops, as well as a lot of the clichés that keep humans bound to restricted perspectives; dealing equally with boys and girls.

Question #211: Does this sound like a program your school, child’s school, business or parents may benefit from?

My website: questionsforyou.com.au is ready for your perusal. Please peruse.

Action speaks louder than words, and this has never been more apparent for me. After 20 years of teaching, I feel a deep connection with our budding youth and have never felt more driven to do something, as I do with this.

I hope you’ll join me in this quest.

Deep, positive breath.
PS: Below is the back of my business card, which was designed by my dear friend Katy Donoghue of Giddy Up Graphics (I’ve known her since we were 7 years old). She rocked it. I do love it so. x Screen Shot 2014-09-26 at 12.46.37 am

What follows is how I see it; a manifesto of sorts. You can take it or leave it.

I am speaking to every single person who graces this post with their attention – regardless of gender (however you interpret that), race, religious persuasion, social standing and so forth.

I’m tired.

Aren’t you?

The attainment of money – that noxious contagion that has infected the psyche of our species – is the driving force of every human being, in some form or another, regardless of social standing.
One either works like a dog to attain it; ‘steals’ from the vulnerable to maintain ones wealthy society (and keep the status quo) or denies others from obtaining it, through enslavement – well, the last two points are heading up to the alter together, hand in hand.

This insatiable capitalist system, is destructively out of control.
We’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto.

We have utterly lost our way.
We are suffering as a species and so is the planet that sustains us.
Our humanity is vanishing before our very eyes.

At home, I am teaching my girls to ‘find a solution to the problem’ and telling them to really think about the varying factors, before making an intelligent choice.
{I get cranky when I find out that the way they continue to deal with their problem is by shouting, finger-pointing and/or lying to get the other one in trouble.
Kids, right? Ha. That’s what far too many ‘adults’ do.}

The problem with our current paradigm – in its core – boils down to labels;
gender – race – religion – class.

* We attach labels (along with their pre-determined characteristics) to everything;
* We bestow judgement and social stigma or exile upon those who don’t conform to said labels and behaviours;
* We use these labels in pedestrian, yet sadly effective ways, to target the basest of human wants, rendering our race stupid.

The toxic way we relate to each other due to labels, has become the crux of how we relate to everything – especially our planet’s ecosystem; becoming critically out of balance.

We manipulate, exploit and insatiably consume – with little (if any) foresight – thanks to the lustful procurement of money and/or power.

The label that is crippling us the most, is that of gender.
Both males and females bundled into Label A: Men and Label B: Women.

What is a man?
What is a woman?

BAM! And there in lies the problem of our existence.

In the western world, Government – Big Business – Media (with their basis in ‘Religion’ {however you interpret that}) suckle at the teat of these manufactured labels, for the benefit of the self-serving and privileged few.
Dividing us into Men and Women – and making those categories ever stricter but MASS PRODUCED – is their bread and butter.

SCREW THAT!

It’s time to evolve out of this cesspit of hatred and destruction; actually use our minds, think intelligently and do things a little differently.

I – along with so many others (of both ‘genders’) – have been involved in bloody battles on the Internet; calling out abhorrent behaviour and crossing paths with bitter and spiteful trolls (of both ‘genders’).
Gender, in essence, is irrelevant – either one is a good person (with a penis or vagina) or one is not.

My proposal:

We must look at THE ACTION of a person only – regardless of gender, race, religious beliefs and/or class; we must drop all labels.

Classifying people in any way only entrenches the stigma further. I mean, how has this been working for us thus far? It’s only digging that wedge in further.

‘All men are violent’

‘All women are bitches’

Question #208: What is the ultimate point of categorising a person, when it’s the action of said person that must be addressed?

I am an actionist.
Another label, I know, but one that encompasses a fight for a just existence for all human beings – regardless.

Of course there are innumerable levels of dangerous conditioning that need to be dismantled – so very many – which I will explore more deeply in following posts, but I believe being an actionist is fighting for equality via a different track and that gives me hope.

It doesn’t matter who you ‘identify’ as – you’re a mixture of a gazillion different nuances that make you, you.
Who you are has nothing to do to with speaking out against destructive behaviours – *especially* those done to others because it could just as easily be us.
Anyone can be an actionist.

Join me?

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Deep Breath.

 

 

 

 

Think ahead.

Arguments, however, by all those who troll the Internet and are given a platform to let their hatred infect – Think behind.

 

 

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.

*Serious Trigger Warning*

April 13, 2014

This post contains my 200th question; an important moment.

I have been avoiding writing it, to be honest – finding justifiable reasons why I should leave it till later. This question is a big deal and a hard one to articulate; but it needs to be heard.
It must be heard.

I’ve chosen this post to lay it all down, the best way I can, and hope it resonates in some – any – way…maybe even cause an awakening in some.

My question is:

Question #200: Who is looking after females? 

The attitudes, perceptions and (worst of all) laws revolving around females have worsened worldwide. Actually worsened.
The people who make up the largest chunk of the Bell Curve, however, don’t see it – they choose to watch the sensationalist, fear-inducing ‘Big Brother’ news on the TV; news that’s especially selected for viewing conditioning.
However, on a daily basis there are countless more examples of atrocities occurring to females in developing nations, war-torn nations as well as in the so-called ‘developed’ world.

Developed.
Now there’s a word that brings with it a whopping case of irony when used to describe nations with wealth. I don’t see we’re developed at all, especially when it comes to the equality of half the human race.
Seeing as wealthy nations are only about making a buck – and is ultimately the SOLE thing that’s respected in the mainstream mindset (something in which we all participate, to varying degrees) – females in this realm of enlightened living *cough cough*, are an urgently needed commodity; who are represented as being available ‘on-tap’.

The so-called ‘Beauty Industry’ is the developed world’s teat, off which a huge bulk of consumerism suckles. Of course there’s also the destruction of the planet and the cruelty to animals, such as factory farming, to add to the mix.
We consume, destroy and discard rubbish to within an inch of oblivion; all with a mindless privilege that sickens the soul.

The environment, animals and females – the merchandise for the making of money. Check.
That’s the ‘developed’ world.
Congratulations.

But what about something that unites us all?
In what way do we link hands, as a species, in a common practice around the world?

Porn and prostitution.
(Porn –> prostitution with a camera; Prostitution –> the raping of females)

Anyone who argues that the use of female bodies for the purpose of ejaculation (yes, as it is ultimately the only purpose it serves) is a-okay, is contributing to this insidious modern-day emergency – through direct participation, indifference or both.

Our ‘humanity’ is flailing in quicksand, as the toxicity of this violent and hateful underbelly spreads.

This is a small snippet of Gail Dines on Q & A, discussing porn and counteracting the usual, exhausting and typical argument – “I haven’t seen it, so the problem doesn’t exist.”

Gonzo Porn – as Gail mentions – is violent and hateful and constitutes most of the type of porn that is made and accessed today.
In the following tumblr post titled Porn Statistics – amongst the harrowing statistics, female sex workers describe their horrific circumstances:

The first shoot I did was with a man who was probably 40 and he was as thick as a soda can. He held me down and shoved it in me with no lube tearing my vagina. When I started to tear up and cry he flipped me over and continued from behind be so they wouldn’t get me crying on film. He pulled my hair and choked me over and over again even when I told him it hurt and I could barely breathe.”

While the pornographers say this:

“My whole reason for being in this Industry is to satisfy the desire of the men in the world who basically don’t much care for women and want to see the men in my Industry getting even with the women they couldn’t have when they were growing up. I strongly believe this… so we come on a woman’s face or somewhat brutalize her sexually.”

Recently, I read the most succinct and powerful piece by Fire Womon called:

Prostitution, Pornography and the Illusion of ‘Choice’

This piece echoes my exact sentiments about Pornography and Prostitution.

“My problem – and the problem for all prostituted women – is that there are feminists who claim to be ‘pro-sex work’, which basically just means you agree to women being paid fuckholes. Some of these same feminists claim radical feminists such as myself are ‘anti-sex workers’. I hereby state emphatically that not to be the case. I am anti-sex work. There is a huge difference.”

The face of prostitution and porn has changed since the Internet graced us with its presence.
It is more violent. It is more degrading. It is hateful.
It lusts for younger and younger girls.
(My most common search engine term on this blog is ’12 year old slut’. That doesn’t include the variety of ages like 10 year old slut that I receive, as well as more horrific searches such as, ‘put your dick in my 12 year old pussy daddy video’ {word for word})

The most frightening part? The consumer is insatiable.

Males.

From Prostitution; An Abolitionist Perspective, come the following harrowing statistics:

“In prostitution the conditions that make consent genuinely possible are absent: physical safety, equal power with customers and real alternatives.”

A 2004 study of prostituted women in nine countries (Canada, Columbia, Germany, Mexico, South Africa, United States, Thailand, Turkey, and Zambia)  89% of the women surveyed reported wanting to exit prostitution but did not believe they had any real alternatives. A 2005 study of prostituted women in Vancouver found that 82% were sexually abused as a child, while 72% endured physical abuse. 54% of the participants reported entering prostitution while under the age of consent. In addition 86% were currently or previously homeless. 95% of participants wished to exit prostitution but did not feel as though they had any other viable option.

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Choice?

There is little choice bar a small percentage of women. It’s not ‘Pretty Woman’. Those women are a microscopic minority and we simply cannot use them as an argument against the statistics of female, human misery at the hands of males and their drive to ejaculate inside them.

The following comes from an Open Letter to the UN asking for prostitution to be abolished:

You need only read or hear the testimony of women who have been bought for prostitution to find that, day in and day out, what men do when they buy women is “cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.” Men pay to ejaculate and urinate on women’s faces, to hurt and humiliate them with any other kind of sexual perversion they had in mind, to not wear condoms.

As no human being should ever be treated that way, it follows then that PROSTITUTION IS A CORNERSTONE OF ALL SUBORDINATION OF WOMEN AND DISCRIMINATION AGAINST WOMEN WORLDWIDE. It supports sexual exploitation which is what customers buy. It is a reserve labor force that allows the economy to not have to fully employ all women seeking paid work. Prostitution structures families differentiating between wife and whore, pitting women against each other in ways that protect male dominance in the family as well as on the streets and in brothels. The list is as endless as is male domination and patriarchy. It is based on the recognition that women are a class hence what affects women in prostitution affects all women. To that end, to see that prostitution is recognized as a universal violation of human rights is to assert the right to human dignity in all of its meaning….. whether or not it is chosen or coerced, whether or not it is trafficked or pimped or is self-imposed by women themselves.

Now for the difficult part.
The following is the link to a site that publishes the opinions of male consumers (‘Punters’ slang) of prostitution in the UK. It outlines how much they paid for their female vessel and discuss their rating of the sex-worker’s performance.

** I must warn you that this may upset some people – but at the same time, I think it’s imperatively important to read the reality of this situation – straight from the horses’ mouths.

The site is called The Invisible Men – Let’s talk about his choices.
The image below is an example of what appears on this site – some are worse. Please read.

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That poor wife.
Porn and prostitution always affect marriages and relationships – in a multitude of varying ways – but always none-the-less.

If one puts Internet porn aside for a moment (a beast that is completely out of control),  the ‘ground-zero’ for us is the popular culture that supports this soul-destroying industry; through consumption by the pedestrian masses – lads’ mags, ads, TV shows and movies that use hyper-sexualised females to support physically, intellectually and/or monetarily heroic males and a pop culture which dictates a fashion that pushes for a look that is sculpted from porn – labiaplasty (of all things!) and plastic surgery are sadly still on the increase.
The worst part for females is the abhorrent rape culture that now exists; as the realities of porn violence seep into the minds of males and are enacted upon the bodies and minds of girls and women everywhere.

Some of these factors are fantastically explored by Gail Dines (again) and Julia Long in the article, Moral panic? We are resisting the pornification of women. It reads:

But feminists who organise against pornification are not arguing that sexualised images of women cause moral decay; rather that they perpetuate myths of women’s unconditional sexual availability and object status, and thus undermine women’s rights to sexual autonomy, physical safety and economic and social equality. The harm done to women is not a moral harm but a political one, and any analysis must be grounded in a critique of the corporate control of our visual landscape.

So I repeat – WHO is looking after females?

I don’t fight for me – I fight for a balanced and equal existence for all.
I fight for my daughters – that they not suffer – and I fight for yours.

I also fight for your sons.

Deep Breath.

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.

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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.

emotional-intelligence1

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.

kindness-300x300

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.

LasVegasSin

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.

Tahina-20Booth--20131205225631214457-300x0

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

It has recently become more painfully apparent, that there is a common thread to what we consume when watching a screen – whether large or small.

Stories of boys and men. Males.

Please understand that I have no problem whatsoever with these kinds of stories – many of my favourite movies fall in this category – but over the last 10 years, it’s become a tad tedious.

Endless stories of boys coming of age – men fulfilling their destinies – older man taking younger man/teen/boy under his wing etc. etc. etc.

Screen shot 2011-02-14 at 10.31.15 AM

But where’s the female equivalent?

I recently asked my husband why he doesn’t watch women’s sport and he answered: 
“I only want to watch the best.”

I was dubious of this answer because I thought: ‘Women are the best of their sports too.’
 To explain, he used a sport he doesn’t watch – Boxing.
 He said that if he were to watch a boxing match, he wouldn’t watch a featherweight fight, he’d want to watch the biggest and strongest men battling it out. The best.

I actually understood. I even think most people would agree with that logic.

OK. Soooo…

Question #192: What do we worship about women on an equal level?

And it IS worship. Sportsmen with flames superimposed behind them on TV snippets, slow motion footage, both males and females equally celebrating them and what they do. Worship.

If men are physically strong and we honour that about them – what do we honour about women?

We can’t have a world where one half of our human race is continually watched, nurtured and guided to feel they can achieve ANYTHING and not have that same respect for the other half.

But that’s exactly what we have.

So what is there? 
I asked this of my husband but he had no answer or chose not to.

The only thing I can think of – is porn; there is nothing else.

Now, let’s have a squiz at what’s happening up on the movie screen.

The Bechdel Test comes from a cartoon strip by Alison Bechdel from 1985, in which ‘The Rule’ for evaluating films was explained:

In order to pass, the film or show must meet the following criteria:

  • It includes at least two women;

(Some make the addendum that the women must be named characters)

  • who have at least one conversation;

(Because of quibbles regarding what length of time makes a valid conversation, some have proposed the addendum that it last at least 60 seconds)

  • about something other than a man or men. 

(The exact interpretation of this can vary; some feel that it’s okay to mention a man or men so long as they’re not the primary subject of the conversation, while others will demand a conversation where men aren’t mentioned at all. Some make the addendum that the conversation also cannot reference marriage, babies, or romance)*

Most films – sadly – fail this test.

Have a look for yourself. TV shows too.

In her 1929 essay A Room of One’s Own, Virginia Woolf wrote what she observed in regards to the literature of her time:

‘All these relationships between women, I thought, rapidly recalling the splendid gallery of fictitious women, are too simple. So much has been left out, unattempted. And I tried to remember any case in the course of my reading where two women are represented as friends.  They are now and then mothers and daughters. But almost without exception they are shown in their relation to men. It was strange to think that all the great women of fiction were, until Jane Austen’s day, not only seen by the other sex, but seen only in relation to the other sex. And how small a part of a woman’s life is that; and how little can a man know even of that when he observes it through the black or rosy spectacles which sex puts upon his nose.’

How fascinating…and depressing.

Nothing. Changes.

So what is it with us?

Why do we find it so hard to watch women in equal (but different) representation to men and boys?

Deep Breath.

x

* http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/UsefulNotes/TheBechdelTest?from=Main.TheBechdelTest