Question #100

September 24, 2012

It’s time to practise what I preach. I am always telling you to sign, to stand up, to voice objection – well, I’m about to do just that.

I have something that’s been slowly stewing inside me. I’ve written about this before – but now it’s time for the next step.

Preamble: The pull that the television has on my girls, is strong – however, I want them to have as much of an ‘old school’ childhood (like I had), as possible.

Outside – drawing – playing.

Yes, TV was a part of my life growing up, but it was minimal – only 4 channels and transmission ended at around midnight. TV shows included, Play School and Sesame Street (Channel 2 – no ads) and then Romper Room, Humfrey B Bear and Fat Cat all on the commercial channels. In that time the ads were classified as well – all toy ads (pretty much).

Today: Not only are the classifications of shows going down the toilet – things that are PG now, would have been M when we were younger – or worse still – R…a rating that seems to have all but vanished nowadays.

I have a big problem with the ads television stations are airing. More specifically, I have a problem with the television shows that are being coupled with such ads.

A big problem.

The common, knee-jerk response to a comment like this, would be that I don’t have to watch television. I can just turn it off. Well, yes I can – but why should I?

We don’t have Cable TV here at home and we don’t have a DVD shop nearby. So when a good kids’ movie comes on, I think it’s nice for the girls to be able to watch it. Then the dread sets in because I know that I’ll have to be vigilant about the ads the station will air, while my 5 and 9 yr old watch. Sometimes I flatly turn off the TV during ad breaks and other times, we record the show and the girls watch it later.

But I repeat – WHY should I have to do all this??

It’s starting to really get under my skin. So much so, that I’m going to take action. I hope I can get people to take a stand with me.

The most disconcerting factor for me is that, for the most part, it’s not even what they’re saying that has me in this agitated state – it’s what we (and our children) see.

My level of indignation is growing daily because there are times when I turn to see my girls watching something like the following ad on Channel 7, promoting the show GCB – which translates to: Good Christian Bitches…yes, bitches:

Now I had to say to my eldest to stop watching, while I frantically looked for the remote, but it was too late. She saw a jealous woman (suspicious of her husband participating in some adultery) by giving him all he wants, by sticking some fried chicken between her breasts.

Please.

There were also the images of the protagonist working in a Hooters-type place (coming down a pole, no less); not to mention the way the women look and behave – plastic, overly made-up and jealous, catty and bitchy.

Fantastic role models.

And ALL this information from the ad above.

We therefore, DON”T have a choice – except to turn it off.

I wrote, in an earlier post, Ready, Fire, Aim!, about how an ad for the lead up to The Shire appeared as my girls and I watched The Sound of Music. How much more ‘G’ can a film be?

The ad for the following movie was everywhere – it has a teddy bear dry humping a super market scanner. This one was hard to avoid – it has a teddy bear in it!

A few days ago an ad for Puberty Blues appeared through an airing of Monsters v Aliens – on Channel 10. It also had a Thomas the Tank Engine ad – WHY BOTHER? They just witnessed a man about to cheat on his wife in the ad.

What about, Snog, Marry, Avoid? My daughter told me about this show – so it was on through the kids’ shows time.

OK, you get the drift. Hopefully you agree that it’s something we need to address…and actually make these VERY rich marketers take responsibility for what they show our kids.

These ads are not only promoting a show, they’re promoting a way of life. A mono-style of life where the pursuits are the same – vanity, greed, envy…sound familiar?

The Seven Deadly Sins

Question #100: Should ads have classifications, just like shows? Should we demand new restrictions?

I’m going to delve into a bit of research.

Then I’m setting up a petition.

Stay tuned. I need your help.

Deep Breath

x

PS I’m off to Japan in a few hours, as a chaperone to 19 students with the Japanese teacher. AAaarrrhh!! What an experience it’s going to be! I doubt I’ll have time to post anything…but we’ll see! I always get a bit twitchy when I don’t write for a wee while…

A few months back I wrote a post about the balance (or lack thereof) in our lives called – The strong, but stretched, women around me.

Recently I went through – and to some degree, am still going through – a very rough patch with myself, especially in regards to my daughters.

A lot of tiredness from work – both in my place of employment and at home – coupled with less patience and a shorter fuse, meant that things weren’t good.

And the GUILT.

Every time I faltered, I saw any efforts made to change things around (because it had to start with me), go down the toilet.

But my mind is just SO. FULL. It is a rare moment where there isn’t something to organise…coordinate…remind…do

…and from talking to friends of mine, of both sexes, there are a lot who are struggling for some meaning to it all because of how hard it seems to be at times.

In these more desperate moments, I have found myself stepping back and looking at how our society is structured and wondering how (or if) it’s contributing to all this.

Our society is pretty archaic. It hasn’t evolved much.

We have, in essence, been living the same sort of life for decades and besides some changes here and there – like there being more women in the workforce now – we are inherently still chasing the same sort of dream or blueprint to ‘happiness’ as past generations – go to school, get a job, buy a car, buy some type of housing, get married, have kids…and start all over again.

Which lends itself to make us question why we keep repeating the same ‘type’ of life, time and time again.

Even our school system, based on the 50s, hasn’t changed. In a YouTube video called Did You Know?, it states that:

“The Top 10 in-demand jobs in 2010…did not exist in 2004. We are currently preparing students for jobs that don’t exist yet…using technologies that haven’t been invented…in order to solve problems we don’t even know are problems yet.”

It’s gobsmacking, when you think about how technology, jobs and skills are growing at the speed of light – while we obsess about whether our child will ever be a success if they struggle with English, Maths and Science. Watch this following clip about our education system – it will blow you away:

So we’re in a circular, Groundhog Day, style of life that we pretty much pass on to our kids, with a few tweeks here and there.

Question #64: Is it possible to gain the right balance for both women and men in the important areas of our lives?

The following article: A Million Women Are Reading This, is absolutely fantastic!

I think it challenges us to think about the issues that affect all men and women, and whether it’s possible to change for the better – a change that matches the world we currently live in, not one from decades ago, when the decisions of ‘how life should be’ were made.

I’ve touched on a lot of the issues in this article, throughout my posts.

What do you think?

Deep Breath.

x

Nature’s balance?

April 9, 2012

I hope everyone had a great Easter. My brood and I headed up to my parents’ place up at The Blue Mountains. I love going up there – I find it so peaceful and I always have a moment where I sit on the back steps, look up at the trees and ponder…

The trees I’m talking about, are predominantly very tall pine trees that are on the property behind my parents’ place. Unfortunately, those owners have been fighting for years to have the permission to cut down around 300 trees on their property to build townhouses. Yep townhouses. Anything to make a buck, right?

It’s so unjust on so many levels. Besides the horror, mess and noise that will come of cutting so many trees down – the whole reason we treasure places like this is because of the wonder that is nature – for balance and peace.

Aren’t they beautiful?

And these three photos were all from this last weekend. Unique, different stages – sunset, full-moon and a foggy early morning – like watching Uluru (so I’m told *wink*). But a camera doesn’t truly capture their magnificence – or how much I love them. *insert heart symbol*

The reason I brought up these trees, is because I often think a lot about life’s challenges and how nature works, when I’m looking at them. I did a lot of this on the weekend.

I’m not ‘religious’ – although what does that mean exactly? I was raised in a home with no religion, but had a lot of it through Primary and High School. I find, as I approach my 42nd birthday, that I pretty much believe a lot of the ‘lessons’ that religion teaches us – I just don’t attach a deity to it.

I just believe in nature and balance. I see an organic, electric force that sends waves of good times and challenges our way – and the way we handle these moments and times, determines our experience on this short time on Earth. When my eldest daughter once asked my mum something about heaven, my mum said to her, “This can be heaven. Now. If you want it to be.”

I loved that. Why can’t this life be heaven?

Well…it can’t be while everyone’s idea of heaven is having lots of money. And this idea – a very strong one now – is tipping nature (which includes us) out of balance.

As a high school teacher, I feel like I’m part of the ‘machine’ that continues to educate our future in the same archaic manner – teach students in the same way (and predominantly the same subjects) as the 50s – so that kids can get a job and buy a house etc. etc.

Girls are encouraged to ‘have it all’ – find a man, marry him, have a successful career, have kids, run a household and start the whole process again with their daughters. Boys – well, they’re encouraged to be men – be powerful (in all areas of his life – which includes power over women, a lot of the time), and earn enough money for said house etc. and they also start the whole process again, with their sons.

OK, so it’s always been that way, to a certain extent. I agree. But if we take a step back, whoever we are and whatever our financial status is, and really look at what we’re being told and sold:

Question #29: Aren’t we creating a society (our children) obsessed with money?

Aren’t we now crossing boundaries to make it and teaching our children how to follow in our footsteps?

The reason I ask, is because this is the point I think that ‘heaven’ can’t be found in this developed world of ours. How can our kids find true balance in their lives when all that matters is money? Everything is buy, buy, buy! What’s worse, though, is that this way of life is moulding our society’s values and beliefs by telling us all what to buy, how to look and what life to aim for.

That last part is the scariest. It looks like everyone is a clone – including myself (big revelation there) – living the life we’ve all been told to aim for. I finished high school, went to uni, got a career as a teacher, travelled, married, had 2 daughters and bought a house….which we’ll be paying off for the rest of our lives. When I look around at my girlfriends from school, the only real difference between us, is our income – because the core of what we ‘have’ is the same. It’s the message that was sold told to us as teens in the 80s and it’s the same as what’s being told to the teens and children of today.

Is this what we want for our future? The same formula – over and over again?

Because it feels like the only lesson that’s being taught, is not in our schools, it’s in our world of consumption and all we are really aiming for is bigger and better than everyone around us.

School, is just a means to an end. School like the 50s (parental concerns of the time, included).

I wonder how I’m going to do it – raise two girls to be strong and unique, whilst navigating through the sludge of how women are represented. How do I teach them to stick to their individuality, when everyone around them is a walking commercial – owning all the ‘latest’ toys and gadgets or wearing the same types of clothes?

So, whenever I can, I look up at the trees – trees that will be cut down, to make way for making money – and wonder if there’s any hope of things truly turning around. Haven’t these issues been brought up a million times before over the decades?

The irony about these trees, is that the original owner of that massive lot – a loong time ago – didn’t sell off pieces of it, to be able to maintain its natural state and beauty, and left clear instructions that it was to be kept that way…but that was only maintained whilst it stayed in the family.

If you get a chance, listen to the wind go through pine leaves – it actually makes that eerie sound you hear in movies…I guess the current owners can’t really hear it over the sound of, ‘Cha-Ching!’

x

PS Tomorrow’s 3 months since the blog was born! Very exciting *HUGE smile*

A week or so ago, on the show The Project, they were discussing Pink Ghettos – places in the workforce where there are predominantly women (like Public Relations).

Firstly it addressed how it’s not good to have either sex feature predominantly in the workforce and secondly, it was looking at how it’s necessary for women to have good Maternity Leave – as it can mean the death of their careers, having to leave their job to care for the children. The irony was that the discussion was between a Joe Hockey (male politician) and Natasha Stott Despoja (former leader of the Democrats; and an awesome woman) – where HE was actually arguing that he knew what women wanted, more than the female, former leader of a party, with children sitting before him. I thought that was incredibly patronising. However, it generally seems that way; hardly the bat of an eyelid at the fact that a man is making the calls on what’s good for women.

The part that really had me gobsmacked, was that when Natasha was asked whether she had ever heard of Pink Ghettos, she said, “No, but Canberra is a pretty much a Blue Ghetto, with the amount of men that are there,” to which Joe Hockey replied, “I wish it were all blue.”

Yep. I bet you do, Joe.

Around the world, the average of women in parliament in 2007 was 18.3%* (couldn’t find anything more current – would love to know the figures today) and although the stats were a little better in Australia, it got me wondering WHY women are simply not up there at the top; in equal numbers to men – after all there’s a teeny bit more women than men worldwide.

Could it be that our girls have few aspirations to go for leadership roles (in many different areas) because it’s simply not modelled for them?

So, I thought I’d ask girls at my school, of different ages, who they look up to; who is an inspirational role model in their lives.

The first reaction was always the same – a long silence, looking up; trying to conjure up the faces of all the women out there who have impacted their lives.

One of the questions I was asked was, “Does it have to be a woman?” I gave her a cheeky ‘did-you-just-ask-me-that?’ look, as I didn’t know whether she was pulling my leg. She wasn’t. At the same time, what a telling question it was.

Even after I nudged them along with possibilities like singers, writers or personalities on TV…. a big portion of them said their mothers.

How wonderful. Or is it?
Hear me out.

I am a mother. I have ALWAYS wanted to be a mum, since I can remember. I was quite young when I kept asking my mum questions about marriage and whether she minded if I got married a little bit earlier than she did. She was 24. I was Suzie Home Maker. My best friend and I used to actually talk about the days where we’d be in our own home, married and ironing our husband’s shirts. PALEEASE!

Now, although I went to uni and ticked all the boxes – my ultimate goal was to get married and have kids. And I did.

I was blessed with two, very strong, daughters who drive me insane – you know what I mean – but whom I believe I was destined to have.
As much as I know they will ultimately respect me as a mother – is it all I want for them?

Question #24: Is motherhood the only way we can model strong women?

I asked the students if they felt there were any unfair things their mothers might go through, because they’re women and there was a strong chorus of, “YEAH!”

Through our following discussion, it seemed clear that, besides their mothers, there really wasn’t much out there to inspire girls – and if there are great women out there (which of course there are) – why aren’t we seeing them as much as the plastic, doll-like versions of our sex?

Why is there such a dim spotlight being shone on intelligent and inspirational women?

All is not lost, though. One of my older students said Gail Simone was an inspiration to her. I don’t know about you, but I said, “Who?” When I looked her up, I saw that she is great – a graphic novel writer. Amongst other suggestions, a popular choice was the singer Adele. When I asked how Adele inspired them, they just LOVED that she truly is all about the music – not about making a caricature of herself.

A gorgeous, gifted woman – what. a. voice!

We HAVE to get more of a spectrum of strong, intelligent women to be visible.

 

*http://www.humanrightsconsultation.gov.au/www/nhrcc/submissions.nsf/list/2AD5C6EC448A8B84CA25761500232FA5/$file/Stevie%20Martin_AGWW-7SHV8P.pdf

Feminist Shout Out! #1

February 17, 2012

I’m going to announce a Feminist Shout Out every time I put an observation that I think may not be your cup of tea…but I’m going to QUESTION it, anyway. I really hope you can let me know your thoughts – whatever they may be. Let’s talk. We can’t rely on our male-run governments to make all the decisions. Let’s make some here.

Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi (D-California) is sending around this photo from the hearing on birth control today. She writes: “At @GOPOversight hearing right now 5 men are testifying on women’s health: http://yfrog.com/10wg35j #WhereAreTheWomen?”

Yes, WHERE? ? ?

Tonight, I walked in to find a movie on the TV about the Bra Boys (a surfing gang). I’m not really watching, but I look up and see violence – boys fighting boys, men fighting men. And it’s not Hollywood fighting, where the injuries don’t reflect what’s been done to them, but ugly, bloody, VICIOUS fighting. It was shocking to watch actual footage of the fights – because they were real. A 14 yr old member tells how he had a gun put down his throat, over him selling Ecstasy and other horrific accounts. 14.

AND THIS IS WHAT OUR WORLD IS.

Men fighting men. Men being violent with each other, demonstrating what seems to be the ONLY way to globally solve problems thus far – except they’re NEVER solved and create SUCH devastation – and they’re violent towards women. Most of us are lucky enough to have loving male partners, but look at how women are being violently treated by the MILLIONS every single day.

As Dr Phil says, “How’s that workin’ for ya?”

We vote men in. WHY? We need a different dynamic in our governments – we need A LOT more women in government, girls MUST be educated worldwide – they will tip the world back into balance. Instead of financing wars, let’s finance education.

But it’s still just about being in power and making an astronomical amount of money. Qantas will axe jobs to keep their SHAREHOLDERS happy. One man has a family to feed and has just lost his job – while the other makes a mint….but he’ll just make less of a mint. Yep, let’s side with the guy that already HAS a lot of money.

Our world is a boys’ club.

Is this OK with you?

We still don’t have equal pay, all the major corporations in the world are run by men, and our young girls AND boys are being corrupted to satisfy the male fantasy – to make money. More people are becoming morally corrupted and we’re allowing this lesson to be present in our children’s pop culture. They’re becoming consuming monsters and they’re consuming over-sexualised girls, violent, bullying boys – with girls who think that’s ok etc. etc…and this is just in the developed world.

The women in the developing countries are suffering atrocities we can barely imagine and they NEED OUR HELP. We need to educate their girls so they can STAND UP and start to create change.

We need to create change – from our end. We must get women into government. It starts here – in Australia. It’s inconceivable that we continue to follow The US. That place is a cesspool of greed, gluttony and porn. And men run that country. That’s not saying there aren’t good people there – I’m sure they’ll follow us once we take the lead! We start here because we are intelligent and we know that it’s time to make our calm but persistent voice heard.

Calm and Persistent Voice.

Stop buying from shops, like City Beach, for selling pornographic products aimed at children (for example). Let them know you’re not shopping there anymore through their Facebook page – most have them. Money talks. Sometimes they listen – because they’re losing money. Let’s put our money to good use, rather than feed the monster, and be happy.

Get women into government.

I have a proposal: Vote women in from the party of your choice. There’s always going to be debate – but our current parliament meetings are run like men – fighting and insulting each other. WHAT IS THE POINT? Let’s just do it!

What have we got to lose?

Question #17: WHAT SAY YOU?

Please pass this on. With much hope. x

Where does it begin?

In my Year 7 class yesterday, we were discussing the different ways in which we communicate. In relation to their writing, I was explaining that if their brain gets used to typing ur instead of your, they’ll occasionally slip and write it the wrong way when they’re at school. A female student explained that when you’re chatting you need to do it quickly so that the other person doesn’t think you’ve left the conversation. At this point, a boy in the class calls out, “Or maybe they just think you’re fat.”

I was momentarily speechless (and for those who know me, that’s an uncommon occurrence).

There were a few things that didn’t sit right with me. The obvious one was that he managed to slip that irrelevant comment in, without thought for the girl he was talking to, but the most surprising part was that nobody in the class flinched or seemed to be overly concerned.

How did our kids become so desensitised at such a young age?

I made it very clear to this boy and the rest of the class, that that sort of comment is completely unacceptable.

So, how early are girls being initiated into the world classroom, where the lesson taught is, “Your worth is in your looks”?

I know that this is not the experience of every girl – but there’s a TV show (of course) that they can watch, where the subliminal messaging begins.

Three words: Toddlers. And. Tiaras.

The fact that the word ‘Toddler’ is in the title, just disturbs my core.

Now, I have only ever seen part of an episode, which I used for one of my Drama classes, and all I have to say is,

I – don’t – get – it.

Granted, I don’t know how it all works – for example, does every girl get a trophy? (there seem to be a lot). If that’s the case, then that would make it a pointless competition
….and there it is – the word COMPETITION.

Looks are fleeting. One day one may be deemed beautiful, the next one is not.
Then what?

What does a little 5 yr old feel when she’s told she’s not the prettiest?
Enter her again? And again?

What lesson is she gaining? That people will only truly love her when she’s dressed up and spray tanned to within an inch of her life? Dancing provocatively to adults?

I don’t get it.

Isn’t this a win for paedophiles? Seriously, they can access images like the following off Google. Why are parents (especially mothers) encouraging and exposing their babies in this way?

 

This most famous toddler star (who I saw doing pelvic thrusts on Sunrise when she was in Australia) is also being Photoshopped. Photoshopped! I found some other images of different girls, where the eyes have been made MUCH bigger, and together with the airbrushed skin, it made them look weird.
Why does the image on the left (below) need to be Photoshopped in the first place?

I have so many questions because there is no logic to this madness. I can’t even fathom the damage this would do to a person of ANY age – being told in a beauty pageant that they’re not beautiful – let alone with these young developing minds.

FUNNY PART
Let’s watch some satire.

The following link is very funny.
It’s Tom Hanks giving a satirical look at the ridiculousness of all this.

Now that you’ve had a laugh – riddle me this:

Question #12: What do mothers hope their daughters gain, from being subjected to this kind of ‘competition’?

A short post.

Question #7: Why are we allowing ‘consumption’ to be the most important life goal, being taught to our kids? 

Not only do ALL people have power over consumerism – women in particular, hold a unique market – THE BIGGEST!

It’s time to put that power into action – for the sake of our children – our girls and boys – who are being moulded since birth.

Yes, we’ve always had the push to consume – but….the reach it has now is unparralleled to when we were younger – I mean, I was in my mid twenties when mobiles and things like hotmail, were just taking off. There’s NO comparison, so our parenting and guidance has be both more aware and present.

Read this:

http://jennifershewmaker.com/2012/01/23/media-and-children-its-not-all-about-the-parent/