Finding Mr Grey.

February 15, 2015

A while back, I had a chin wag with students about the fine line that is present in many a discussion about females – in that case, their dress. A recent example has been the great deal of to-ing and fro-ing over the release (on Valentines’ Day, no less) of the film, Fifty Shades of Grey. The argument surrounding this narrative has been bugging me in a similar way the aforementioned discussion with my students did. 

My understanding of this issue can be put into two simple points: 1. The books sold like wildfire and seemed to have predominantly titillated the ‘housewives of suburbia’ who saw a love story with consenting adults and 2. It brought to the fore, many psychologists, feminists and survivors of abuse, who have presented an alternate and more dangerous perspective; one that looks at a male grooming and trying to utilise complete control of a naïve female; a demonstration of psychological and physical domestic abuse.

I have not read the books and even wrote post at the end of 2012, asking those who had read 50 Shades to write their thoughts, without judgement from me; because I support women and fight for their complete agency to choose and participate in this world with freedom and safety. This novel is simply a great example of where – if anywhere – the line gets drawn between ‘sexy’ and ‘sadistic and sociopathic’. The issue of choice and consent is also smudged for me when grooming is involved as that’s what grooming does – trick people (and children) into thinking something’s OK, when it’s not.

The prevailing argument in its favour is that it’s just a fictional story and is just a fantasy. I completely understand this perspective and think, each to their own. If the sexual escapades of this novel pushed the saucy buttons of women worldwide, then I say, whatever floats your boat. The pro-50 Shaders seem to be more about the steamy, naughty, forbidden [insert own adjective] sex, not so much about the screwed up male (due to his prostitute [of course] mother) ‘discovering’ himself emotionally and physically through Ana.
But the two issues are married together – the psychologically disturbed man, comes with the sex.

So having heard all the arguments in various articles about this relationship and its representation of varying abuse, I simply want to ask:

Question #222: Why him?

Maybe there are women who want to escape their predictable sex lives and find this story does in fact help them do just that. But what about the man himself; not just his skill with a whip?

Maybe there’s also a secret want to have a rich and ‘powerful’ male be a dominant figure, in his expensive suits and play/torture dungeon.
Maybe women like the idea of ‘fixing’ a damaged male – that love will 
conquer all. That if she stays, he’ll get better – even if it means enduring a controlled and abusive existence .

Is that it?

What if Christian were, let’s say, a newsagent, would there be as much sexual excitement in finding one’s own Mr Grey?
In terms of the story, the sexual awakening would be the same for Ana, wouldn’t it?

What I’ve heard, from friends who have already gone to see the film, is that the sex wasn’t as ‘good’ as in the novel but found other differences. This is from a friend of mine in her 20s:

‘I found it uncomfortable to watch but didn’t find it uncomfortable to read. I’m not easily phased but it was unpleasant. Personally I enjoyed the development throughout the series. It was an interesting read. But seeing it in film was sort of next level. It was basically porn. The sex scenes were not overly graphic but the violence was too much. It made me feel sad.’

Isn’t the following image from the film, eerily similar to the very real Julian Blanc many found to be abhorrent in his behaviour towards women. The thought of being grabbed by the neck chills me. That’s because I have been grabbed like that. But it’s still not the reason all this bothers me.

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On one hand, Rosie Waterline wrote the following review for Mamamia, where she was shaken by what she saw and left the cinema nearly in tears, through to Mia Freedman’s review with her opposing take. One quote stood out in Mia’s piece, that came from a friend of hers:

‘If some women view Christian as a catch – that’s disturbing but it’s their call. The value of the books and the film is the accompanying conversation about what a healthy relationship looks and feels like. A healthy relationship doesn’t involve your partner dictating what you wear or eat. But the author isn’t writing about a healthy relationship! It’s the story of a messed up relationship!’

The first line encapsulates the problem for me – Christian Grey is being touted as a catch and someone to be dreamed of, despite being in a ‘messed up relationship’.
One example (of many) is this bus stop advertisement, of which I got a photo:

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This poster grooms – just like Christian Grey – for selfish reasons.
And that’s what bothers me at the core. How this narrative is being sold.
I think it’s dangerous for those – especially our youth, without the experience to know differently – to believe this is a relationship to aspire to – because it has sex in it that supposedly pushes the boundaries of pleasure?

There are adults who enjoy this story; those who enjoy BDSM (even though many are saying it does not accurately portray BDSM correctly); and that’s fine.

But ultimately there’s one thing that seems to be agreed upon:
It’s not a healthy relationship.

Question #223: So why is it being romanticised?

That’s grooming.

 

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

A few days ago, I went to pick up my 11 and 7 year old daughters from a holiday stint with my parents.

As we greeted each other with hugs, my 11 year old did not hesitate in telling me, with great concern, that she saw something terrible when she was in the car with my dad – a van that said something to the effect of all girls being sluts who want to try it just once.
I was stunned because only the day before I had put up images (again) of the type of messages that the car-hire business Wicked Campers revels in, on my social media pages – including (and especially) the one my daughter saw.

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So it’s official – something I personally called out had encroached and touched my family directly.

I was livid and went to file a complaint on the Advertising Standards Bureau.
The first thing you have to do is check if there have already been complaints made and whether the Board has made any previous rulings. Unsurprisingly, the list of complaints is long for Wicked Campers with a variety of unsavoury slogans and advertisements, like the following:

Wicked Campers online

Or there’s this sort of thing:

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Noice.
It appears the young, male, *haw-haw* demographic is well and truly being catered for; girls as sluts / women are nothing more than something to service males / guys with big cocks (to do what with, pray tell?)
The only problem is that it’s the everyday person that finds themselves face-to-face with these types of bulletin in the PUBLIC sphere, not the drivers themselves – that person merely announces their consent to what’s been spray painted on the back and ironically the only person who doesn’t see the moving billboard they’re driving around. Hilarious.

Step two was to file my complaint, as I didn’t see the slogan my daughter witnessed on the ASB list. There I hit a snag because I had to have seen it for myself, to be able to denounce them. I explained this to my daughter and she immediately sat up and said, “I’ll complain.”
And to be honest, I thought, ‘Why not?’
So she submitted it under her name and wrote as her reason for offence:

‘I am a little girl and I am not a slut.’

I’m proud of her.

I would like to now direct your attention to how a young male responded to my posting about this business on my Questions for Us Facebook page. You can see the full conversation there.

Comment on vans 1 Comment on vans 2

The usual waterfall of clichés start to roll off the tongue like honey:
* It’s just a joke;
* If you don’t like it, don’t buy it. (Which is actually my usual rule of thumb except when it’s in my face regardless of whether I bought it or not);
* I bet if it were about men we’d be all ‘feminists rule’;
* Comparisons that don’t compare (girl sluts and McDonald’s toys);
* Get out there and fight for something worth fighting for.

Suffice it to say I had a long conversation with this young man, reasoning that phrases like the one my daughter saw puts her and all girls in danger. He predictably responded that it’s not all men who would feel that way about women and girls and that the car rental business is not to blame for that.
Of course nobody ever says ALL MEN are a menace, but that Yes, All Women are at risk of harmful perspectives like these, crossing just one male’s mind – because it only takes ONE to enact those sentiments on an innocent girl. 

Rolf Harris ring any bells?
I think ‘all princesses being sluts’, would have reflected his sentiments succinctly.

There are many ‘ground zeros’ in fighting what commences the chain of abhorrent perspectives and actions in people, and we can’t ignore them because in the eyes of most, it doesn’t equate to the fight against the femicide of girls in China and India, for example, or bringing the girls back from Nigeria (things I also fervidly fight for, of course).

I live here – in Australia – in a capitalist cesspool that will stop at nothing to make money. There are horrors occurring around the world which I passionately call out against, but the rape culture my daughters are about to enter, is the here and now – and it’s real.

We shouldn’t turn a blind eye to the so-called ‘little’ things because as Paul Kelly sang:

‘From little things, big things grow.’

Question #209: How can we fight the big things, if the little things prove too difficult? 

It’s time to be Actionists, just like my daughter.

After quite the parley with this young man (which became more respectful as it progressed), I asked him where he (being smack-bang in the demographic he so eagerly defended) thought we should focus our energies to stop the perception of the hyper-sexualised youth and the halt of rape culture (which some slogans of this business purport), to which he answered the following:

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He didn’t really answer my question and went straight for the overseas problem but appreciated his honesty in not knowing – which is generally the case with most people who start shouting objection to the calling out of bad actions.

‘Wicked Campers aren’t out to make women inferior.’

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I respectfully, but wholeheartedly, disagree.

Deep Breath.

PS – I have started a Change.org petition to the founder of Wicked Campers;
Please sign if you are tired of being told what to ‘relax’ about.

>>> Sign Here

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?

keep-calm-and-be-an-actionist

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.

 

 

The oldest profession?

May 10, 2014

The newspaper, The Courier Mail from Queensland, published the following full-page article, this last Sunday 5th May, called:

Pie and Coke No Joke with the sub-heading Supersized Happy Hooker Deal.

Happy Hooker.
(shaking my hanged head)

This abysmal article is actually advertising the idea of ducking out in your lunch break (if you’re male) and having sex with a prostitute as a part of a meal deal:
A pie, a Coke and a POKE! – as they so disgustingly put it.

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The most malevolent part of this article, however, is one of the first paragraphs that reads:

‘The midday rendezvous is also discreet, enabling clients to duck out and still be home for the wife and kids in the evening.’

So it seems we have well and truly arrived, people – adultery is now something we are literally endorsing in the paper today.

Well…why not?
I’ll come back to that question.

This article encapsulates how the lines of ethical and moral behaviour are ever being erased by the human race for the sole purpose of making money.

On an even more profoundly disturbing level – we are the participants of a world which ensures males have every opportunity to immerse themselves in the sexual and objectified images of females, which in turn forges their perceptions of what females mean to them.

So in this skewed modern-day existence, which sympathises for a small stereotype and dictates we should empathise with the poor male who can’t get any sex with a ‘regular’ girl and needs to purchase a female body to penetrate, I ask this question:

Question #202: Why does ejaculation have to happen inside a female?

(or in her mouth; or in her anus; or on her face etc.)

It’s the sense of entitlement; that’s the problem.
Whether in a relationship or not, males (prominently, as a species) act as though they are owed access to female bodies – and in the way they want; to varying degrees, of course.
If one thinks logically, without emotion, and with use of reason – we know that, commonly, it’s deemed one has ‘had sex’ – when he has orgasmed and, generally, in her.

I find that what we quickly choose to ignore is that female bodies are on the frontline in prostitution; ‘servicing’ male, after male, after male and we ignore those who find themselves trapped in this insidious industry – one that too many have arrived at due to horrible childhood experiences or unimaginable circumstances. And it is insidious, when you see (like in this case) the words ‘fun recreational pursuit’ in the same article that’s promoting adultery.

When the demand (male) is SO high, the supply (female) has to come from somewhere.
Therefore – surely – only logic can deduce, at this point, that female bodies are ultimately being used as commodities for ejaculation. It’s just dressed up in different ways.

This is an ad for a perfume that’s visible at the front of many Myer stores around Australia at the moment.

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She is naked. She is painted like a gift. She has a bow-shaped bottle in front of her spread legs – ultimately, the gift. The perfume is even called Bon Bon – how delicious!
This subliminal messaging that every single human being absorbs as they walk past images like these, is palpable.
Adults – so desensitised they don’t even notice; Children – are learning.
Vaginas are for sale. The ultimate prize.

If we step away from prostitution and marketing and look away from our ‘developed’ world, we see that this dogma is sadly and tragically firmly rooted in our species’ psyche.
As I write this, it is highly probable that nearly 300 Nigerian girls are being sold off; making the hundreds of males who purchase them, very happy – some reports say for as little as $12 for each teenage girl.
We all know that once purchased, they’re only going to be treated in horrific ways – and just one of those ways will be to violate them repeatedly with a penis.

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Sex: All Female; Race: All Black

So back to the earlier question – why not endorse prostitution and adultery?
Well, it seems that the only ones who take the opportunity of using their free right to speak their thoughts, think it’s all just simply terrific.

Following are some of the comments (just a snapshot) made on the Courier Mail FB page. There were hundreds of comments left and most are like the ones that follow. An interesting observation to note, is that the popular philosophy seems to be shared by both genders, either through ‘humour’ or gender stereotypes.
I find most of these answers disturbing and have highlighted some phrases.
Spelling mistakes are their own.

* People have to pay bills too, and whilst a legal brothel isn’t illegal, what’s wrong with it? If women feel there husband is cheating on them, find out why? Is it because you don’t put out, is it because your hubby is no longer physically attracted to you due to all that chocolate ladies desire so much or do you have just one too many headaches that you really should get attended to by your Dr? (m)

* Chuck in a smoke and you’ve got a deal (m)

* Get a life! Its one of the oldest professions world wide. If it wasnt for brothels allot of people world wide would have to result to there hand forever and would never get some booty staying a virgin till they die lol so chill out and dont be so negative about it. (m)

* It’s one of the oldest trades in history. Been around a lot longer than any other job. It’s going to be there forever so people may as well just accept it. At least they have a job and aren’t on the doll sapping the money from the state (f)

* I think if you make the money work for you by paying bills etc. Why not? It’s clean, and nothing wrong with it (f)

* If the availability of prostitutes can help to reduce the amount of rapes and attacks on women and children, then I’m all for it..! (m)

* I would have thought given the circumstances a sausage roll would be more apt ?? (f)

* Same (f): Munch is on me! + Gives new meaning to the HONEY IM JUST GOING DOWN THE SHOPS TO GET A PIE AND A COKE haha

* What a great marketing tool. Thinking outside the box !!!!! (f)

* Why are people so harsh on hookers, if it’s what they want to do for a living then leave them too it, it’s not like we live in Cambodia or Thailand where children are abused. As long as they’re adults and consenting, leave them alone! (m)

* Oh for god sakes you angry nasty sexually frustrated woman …get over yourselves . These woman are working and pose no threat to your relationships . The skanky home wrecking hoes you are so threatened by are actually at night clubs, pubs and facebook lol…and they give it up for free in the hope of stealing your worthless unfaithful man . Instead of a linch mob …why not host a few lingerie parties and learn how to satisfy and keep your man at home and between your sheets? Or get a man who is satisfied by what he has at home ..some men will never be faithful. (m)

* Gives new meaning to a ‘Happy Meal’ (f)

* Can you get fries with that? (f)
Responses: Do you mean ‘flies’? (m) + Thought lice would be more appropriate (m)

* “Crack” the daytime market. LMAO (m)

* It’s a job bet half those putting these women down gave it out for FREE before they became stiff housewives with self hate issues. IF your hubby is paying for it chances are you can keep him unlike with the tarty women who steal husbands. (f)

* ha ha, two Pies for the price of one (m)

Question #203: So do we still have nothing to worry about?

I don’t think so. I don’t think so.

I’ll leave you with a comment that I saw on FB in regards to this article:

‘While Sweden, Norway, Iceland and France move towards defining gender equality in a way that prohibits men buying women, our country is believing the lie of sex sellers and moving further and further towards normalising men’s entitlement to women’s bodies. It is not a human right to purchase or get sex, prostitution is exploitive and the sex trade is dehumanising.
Have we reduced the act of sex to a product and a woman to the wrapping?’

 

Deep Breath.

My chat with an MRA

April 27, 2014

Last week, a video was shared with me that left me livid.

It’s a female from the United States saying she declares war on feminism and uses every clichéd, pedestrian and privileged argument to denounce the existence of things like rape culture – all because of her hate of radical feminism. She uses the tried and tested view of rape victim-blaming to drive that message home and it’s all delivered in a slow and patronising tone. Her final suggestion is that we arm all women with guns against a rape culture she just spent minutes saying doesn’t exist. Go figure.
I found it extremely difficult to finish watching, because of my growing indignation, but I needed to see the full package of dangerous delusion.

Take a look for yourself.

So I left a lengthy comment about her persecutive on rape because otherwise, I’m just like everyone else who thinks in the customary oppressed manner – that ‘nothing’s going to change with my opinion’.

I disagree.
It’s exactly our silence that is more crippling than those who regurgitate their ‘rightful’ toxic mindset.

I got a response; not from her but from an MRA – a Men’s Rights Activist.
Their arguments always revert to the same script, about how bad males have it too and how females don’t have anything to complain about – because we’re equal.

My basic argument was that I thought the video was a dangerous one when discussing rape and rape culture to which he purported simply does. not. exist. in the United States (ha!), that 50% of rapes are suffered by males and that I should stop being annoying about it all.
So I wrote the following (please note I call him ‘kind’ and ‘just’. Wrong.):

I’m not equating slut-shaming to rape culture; it contributes to it. So. many. factors play into this toxic underworld. The continual conversation, predominantly spotlighting the actions of the female only, also contributes to it – as this video also does.
The culture is an attitude and it’s very negative towards females; it’s created through a variety of avenues. Of course most people you know believe rape is abhorrent (as do all the people who surround me) because you’re probably a kind and just person and around likewise thinking people.
But in a stupid crowd – things are different. It’s always been there, but now it’s worse – it’s spreading. I’m a high school teacher who sees a lot of what’s going on in reality and I also research this topic.
In 1990, I was followed back to my dorm room (a walk across a small courtyard and into the building – 3 mins tops) by a guy I had never met before nor had spoken to at the party we were coming from. He used to live there and was visiting friends. I knew ‘of’ him. I made polite conversation thinking he was going back to his room – as I would if it were a female walking alongside me – aka another person.
He followed me to my room – innocently enough; it’s just another person, after all – a female in his place would be just as capable to hurt me if she wanted – but he then walked in after me, closed my door and locked it. He attempted to rape me and was pushing me down by my neck saying he didn’t want to have to hurt me.
I have never been more terrified in my life and he didn’t actually succeed. Imagine if he had? You have no idea of the violation I felt just with that experience and knowing that now I had real fear instilled in my future existence.
Some questioned my actions and I was also called a slut. I didn’t deserve that but you know what? It’s his word against mine; hers against his and today the general population (like the girl in this video) swings the way of the male – gives him the benefit of the doubt. Why?
What about the girl in Steubenville (US) who was carried around to different parties, unconscious, repeatedly raped, sodomised (filmed) urinated on, left naked on a lawn for dead, laughed about for 15 mins on a video by a male who watched that done to her egged on by his mate filming it (have you seen it? I have a link), a girl seen in danger by dozens of people at the parties, including coaches of the footballers and who call themselves ‘The Rape Crew’?  NOONE DID ANYTHING. The rapists got one year. One of the two got another year for publishing the evidence; THE EVIDENCE of brutal and unspeakable acts and they got ONE year. What does someone have to do to a fellow human being before there’s outrage? Not THAT obviously – Why? Because she was drunk. Probably a ‘slut’ too.
That’s rape culture. There have been too many stories similar to this coming from the US and – as a species – we argue for the males – the ones who suffer one rape out of the 9 women do (and that’s just on the reported ones).
Not 50%.
https://www.rainn.org/get-information/statistics/sexual-assault-victims
If you can’t understand from the above that this video perpetuates a very real rape culture by excusing it as not existing because it hasn’t been a part of her experience (although she has to carry a gun to protect herself against it somehow) – then I shrug my shoulders despondently and know there’s just one more person who won’t help.
He mocked my attempted rape and called him a ‘stalker’. When I expressed how insensitive that was, he continued to refer to him as a stalker. The brotherhood is strong.
To counteract his argument that in the US, rape is treated ‘worse than murder’ (Classic!) – I logically pointed out (above) that one of the most abhorrent cases of rape in the US (Steubenville) that went to court, saw the rapists only get one year and therefore is not treated at the important level he claimed.
But my retorts, which included rebuttals and a debate using statistics and personal experiences, (unsurprisingly) fell on deaf ears.
You can look at the conversation yourself (below the video) but it got so incredibly pointless that I just left it with him having the ‘last word’. He used words such as ‘proved’ and ‘debunked’ when he had done no such thing.
But the following two comments – in his ‘last word’ – encompass the MRA arguments to a tee:
‘I sure as hell don’t see any protests or anything substantial from feminists that involve ANYTHING related to helping men. In fact the contrary is what i find. Name the most important thing you did to fight for women in another country.’
(So I have to start fighting for the minority and also justify what I do for women before my argument will be taken seriously by this MRA)
and
‘If you think you have it worse than men you’re pretty ignorant to the bullshit men have to deal with too. I already proved to you all the things men have to deal with and you act like scantily clad women in the media is sooo bad. Give me a break. You’re equal and I demonstrated that this is true and you made no rebuttal to most of my points.’
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As I wrote in my comments to him – I fight for an equal existence for ALL, but when statistics look at how much worse it is for females to navigate through a world that is steeped in violence against them – I’m going to logically start there.

Are males oppressed? Yes – however, not as much as females.

Are males used unfairly for their strength? Yes but not as much as female vaginas, anuses and mouths are used for penises.

Are males raped? Yes. Out of every 10 rapes; 9 are female – one is male…and generally by another male.

Do I think males need help? ABSOLUTELY!
A conversation on social media had the following comment:

‘When you are surrounded by people who say the only way to do manhood correctly is to kill and maim and torture, is it a shock that some people would distance themselves from manhood out of shock and a deep-seated unwillingness to see themselves as being of the same class of people they’d seen held up as men?’

If we’re going to play the accusatory gender swap game, I still don’t know how males can complain that females degrade them in an equal fashion.
Clementine Ford expressed it perfectly when she wrote:

‘We live in a toxic culture, and violence crosses a broad spectrum of behaviours. I can’t think of any female codes that enforce the systematic physical and mental degradation of men and certainly none that are supported, accepted and even celebrated as part of mainstream culture.’

So true.

How do we participate in intelligent discourse when confronting big issues like rape culture?

I was told by everyone I mentioned this conversation to, that I shouldn’t waste my time with ‘people like that’. The thing is, though, that the people who commonly comment are ‘people like that’ – regardless of gender. Remember that the video is based on the perspectives of feminism by a female. It’s curious how THAT’S the moment males come out of the woodwork and say, ‘SEE? A woman said that!’

Are ‘people like that’ ultimately stupid?
If they are, then we’re doomed – especially if we’re not supposed to engage with ‘them’ and ‘they’ can spread their hate, while ‘we’ sit mute.

Question #201: Actually – why do ‘we’ sit mute? 

Well I’m not going to because my voice is all I have.
I’m still proud I said something.
The hope I have is that those who agree ALSO say something. Hope.

I have to say, though, that it perplexes and disheartens me as to why – if we’re such an intelligent species (apparently) – the conversation predictably goes like this:

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Deep frustrated 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

I’ve changed my name.

January 17, 2014

I have to say that this journey has been cathartic.
Looking back at who I was two years ago and the reasons for starting this blog – to hopefully find answers to the questions I had for myself about this life, why it was the way it was and how I was to navigate through it – along with my daughters, husband, family, friends and the big wide world – it’s quite incredible; I am quite a different person today.

My journey has seen me connect with such an extraordinary cross-section of inspirational and brave feminists – all with their unique angle of what the issues are for women and girls in this world and who work tirelessly to create some positive change.
I feel humbled to have met you all – you have had a profound impact on me.

So here I am – having just had my unoriginal epiphany about the chronic and habitual gender roles both women and men are assigned from birth – and I realised that I had a problem with the name of this blog.

Why did I name the blog Questions for Women? Because at the time, I understood women (and men) to be in categories. I myself (still) participate in it, although some shackles – like how I perceive beauty in myself and all those around me –  have been dropped.
But who are these ‘women’ I want answers from, exactly?

Since posting my last question – What IS a woman? (yes, we all know it’s a female adult, I mean in terms of the label) – it became abundantly apparent that, really, there’s no such thing.

So this blog will now be known as: Questions for Us – questionsforus.com

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The future can only be changed through our children / younger generation – by Us.
Being the ‘grown-ups’ of the equation means we have to step up – do much more than we are now.

Most of us adults are too far gone in our deeply-rooted mantras and practices to completely change the narrow gender moulds we’ve designed (and keep whittling at into smaller and smaller representations) but kids are different; essentially they are a clean slate.

Today, however, they’re a clean slate surrounded by a world selling them something sinister in its core and wallpapering their existence with it.

Question #197: Can we now embrace the phrase, ‘It takes a village to raise a Child’?

In my heart of hearts, I bloody hope so! We need it now – more than ever.

I sincerely hope to have you on board in discussions, as I don’t have all the answers – but I’m not blind to what I see and will question it.

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 are male or female – 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 critically reflect on 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. I once heard, on a documentary about genes and how they influence behaviour, that ‘Nature loads the gun and Nurture pulls the trigger.’ 

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 and girls have in common is (in the big scheme of things) a female reproductive system (functioning or not). 

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/system  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 (and ever more girls).

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 their biology.

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

The moment after Christmas dinners and lunches were fully consumed, my Facebook page got littered with images like the following:

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…from women.

No men indulged me with feelings of having to diet or comment on the weight they had gained over Christmas. Just women.
Then there was the plethora of women friends commenting on said images, also participating in the merry-go-round of the standard, “Oh, I KNOW! I’m exactly the same.” rigmarole – like it’s the secret password for entering an exclusive club.

And it is exclusive – only women seem to want to wholeheartedly enter.
Just listen,  especially around the ‘festive’ season (particularly when they’re around other women) and see how long it takes before kilos / stomach size etc. is mentioned – even for a moment.

It consumes females’ lives. C’mon…we’re smarter than that, aren’t we?
What does one gain from having the ‘perfect’ figure?
My real question is:

Is it all just for a compliment? 

Don’t get me wrong, I like to look unique to me and do my best with what I have and if that receives a compliment – that’s nice! – but it’s not the reason why I dress and groom myself.

There have been moments in my life when my weight has blown out a bit (74 kg being my heaviest) but as I am tall, I have always looked pretty good. This is because I have thin legs and any weight gain went on from my stomach and up – the legs and thighs never changed. To the outsider, my legs camouflaged what was going on up top to a degree. Funnily enough, all I could see was my rounded face when I was at my heaviest – which ironically is what I really notice about people; their faces, not bodies.

How do I know I looked good? Because I was complimented as such – even as so far as being called lucky; lucky for having thin legs.
On an intellectual level – isn’t that ridiculous?
I just want to state for the record that the only luck my legs have given me is their ability to take me from place to place – just like every other able-bodied person on the planet.
That’s it.

Furthermore, ever since being at peace with all my bits – which has been quite a few years now – I’ve noticed that if I ever mention anything about my body (not complaining), I am quickly interjected and shot down with phrases such as, “You have nothing to worry about” or “I WISH I had your figure.”
I have to say that it’s bloody frustrating not really being able to simply discuss changes one notices (and we know that it’s always happening with our complicated but wondrous bodies, ladies) without the obligatory “You’re fine” commentary.
There are parts of me that sag, bulge and roll; I have wrinkles and skin pigmentation on my face; I have dark leg hair which is the bane of my existence to remove (see? not so perfect legs) and I have no butt. Side on, my stomach is about the same size as my bottom – very ‘attractive’…
Etcetera and so on.

We’re women.
We all know our flaws (we’re good at believing what we’re told – that it’s how we think of ourselves) – and we all (yes, ALL) have them, because it’s personal and it’s entrenched.
But this is where I want to say that it is exactly our ‘flaws’ that make us unique and beautiful.

My body has not given me a free pass to anything – I have a mortgage (a 70s house in the western suburbs that I got aged 39; you’d think my body would have let me own a house sooner than that); I have a full-time job, two daughters to raise – who can both be very demanding; and the usual ups and downs of life. I can emphatically claim that my body afforded me no special privilege. Nothing.

The things I have gained in life have come from the person within (who is also flawed, by the way).

So if we are just looking for some verbal validation (from as many people as possible):

Question #196: Is it truly worth all this anxiety and self-hate?

Why not try something different when thinking of New Year’s Resolutions?
Please don’t let it have to do with altering yourself. So you over-indulged over Christmas and New Year; you know what to do to balance it out.

Walk tall, don’t negatively talk about your body and see the beauty in every female body you see – especially yours. Imagine the change, if our daughters saw the beauty on all sorts of shapes and sizes the way YOU do. Don’t judge other women or compare yourself, just cultivate your own temple.
How about we women, collectively, make the New Year’s Resolution to blow these soul-destroying and self-hating beauty standards out the window.

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I have been using a new word to compliment women and it’s not beautiful – it’s radiant.

Happy New Year, radiant ones!
Go forth and SHINE! x

Deep Breath.

PS I’ll leave you with a clip of Aussie ‘plus-sized’ model (which is ridiculous – she’s a goddess), Robyn Lawley. Forget what she looks like and just listen to her words. Soak them in.