Current Issues

You’re right, Jon. This ain’t a love song.

I just went out to move my car so my dad could get his bike out of the garage (I’d say Midlife crisis, but he has always ridden motorbikes of some sort) and the song playing in my car was Bon Jovi’s This ain’t a love song.

I sat there waiting patiently for my dad to reverse the bike, turn it, fix his helmet and then exit the driveway, listening to the words and it struck me that here is another example of the poor, hard-done by man whose heart has been broken by a woman. So sad and lonely, so undeserving of the treatment, so dedicated he was to the relationship.

Yea right, Jon. You had no idea what you had until it decided it deserved better and left you. You rested on your laurels, having done ‘the hard work’, snagged her with promises, she’d moved in, and then it was business as usual for you. Meanwhile, she is now doing all the unpaid labour of the home, labour that you used to do ‘so well’ (aren’t I a good boy?), and probably used to ‘snag’ her, waiting for you to get your lazy arse of the lounge and take notice of her, perhaps even to *gasp* help clean the mess you helped create!

Yes, you should have listened when she said good night. Yes, you should have noticed ‘the end of summer’ in her eyes. She’s done with all of the bullshit promises you made, but it’s tough luck now buddy! You fucked up and now she’s off to greener pastures. Somewhere where her presence won’t be taken for granted, somewhere where she isn’t part of some ‘legend in my mind’ and part of an actual adult partnership.

But the part that really annoys me now, is that he was apparently willing to die for her. That’s sweet. You won’t pick your wet towel off the floor, but you’re willing to die for her? You sit on the lounge watching football while she is cleaning the toilet floor where you missed again, but you’d die for her?

Newsflash! Women don’t want someone to die for them. We can, and do, die quite nicely on our own thank you!

We want a man who will LIVE for us. We want a man who will LIVE WITH us. We want a man who will experience LIFE with us. What’s your death to me, but a reprieve from raising your arse? From picking up your shit off the floor? From putting your coffee cup in the dishwasher for the thousandth time even after we have had this discussion 500 times and each time you promise to do better?!

Please, death would be preferable to living with you in this case.

Women want someone who will emotionally support them. Someone who will hold us when we cry and not try to fix it. Someone who will be present with us through the mundane and the exciting. Someone who will ask ‘how was your day?’ and actually listen to the answer. We want someone who will provide assistance without having to be asked. We want a man who will be present enough to notice when we need space or a hug or a bubble bath and go draw us one. We want a man who will say ‘bless you’ when we sneeze!

You know why? Because we would do all of these things for you! And we do.

We do notice when you’ve had a bad day and need space. We do notice when you need help with something and we are there to give it. We do ask about your day and actually interact with the following conversation! We say Bless You because we heard you sneeze and we don’t want your soul to be broken and flying all over the place, god dammit! We have enough to clean up!

Now, I know this song was designed to get all the adult women of the 90s swooning and wishing they were this woman, because they would never leave him! He is so hot and rich and charismatic! What a bitch to have left him so heartbroken? I would love a man who was willing to die for me!

Not that I ever thought Jon was the hottest thing to walk this earth, I was raised on WWE and NRL, but I also fell for this line for the longest time. I used to think it was sweet that he loved this woman so much that he is so heartbroken at her loss.

But, guess what? No good relationship ends in a break up. (Probably the most insightful thing I have ever heard a man of my age say. Yes, a man said this ladies, I’ll wait while you pick up the device you have no doubt dropped……… oh, you’re back! Phone not broken? Excellent! We can continue.) Women (or men for that matter) don’t leave happy situations. Women don’t leave situations where they feel heard or loved or valued. They leave because you are a dick who took them for granted and treated them badly! Maybe you were even a bit of a sociopath, who knows?

People don’t leave happy situations.

It’s time, Jon, that men like you started to ask themselves what you could have done better in the relationship and learn from it. Stop blaming the women for your broken heart and own your actions. Take responsibility for behaviour and grow as a human being.

And basically, don’t be a dick.

Current Issues

Overcoming Rape-Culture, Victim Blaming and the Patriarchy

Yet again, a woman gets raped and murdered and it’s her fault.

Just a few weeks ago, 22 year old Eurydice Dixon was walking home when she was attacked and raped and murdered. She took all of the precautions, messaging her friends letting them know she was almost home safe.

This is the thing that gets me. She took all of the precautions.

Why should she have to take any precautions? Why was it her fault she got raped and murdered and not the fault of the man who did the raping and murdering?

Why should we have to make sure we are in groups or have rape whistles or be on our phones or even wear security underwear? Or worse, like the women in South Africa who have to wear anti-rape gear and equip their daughters from as young as ten.

And this isn’t the first time women have been told to be careful.

A recent article warned women to go out in groups as sexual assaults had risen on Queensland’s Gold Coast.

A few years ago in Far North Queensland a young girl was raped by her two friends, but they were acquitted because she was drinking with them and must have asked for it. This from a female judge too!! Just shows how far victim blaming has spread.

Again, if we took better precautions this wouldn’t happen.

Pfft. It’s patriarchal bullshit directed at us so they don’t have to feel bad about doing all the raping in the first place. It’s childish bullshit akin to ‘but he hit me first!’

This whole world is run by boys in men’s bodies and it’s total bullshit.

A man hitting a woman is like a sibling hitting them and yelling ‘she started it!’

Incels crying because they can’t get laid is like a toddler having a tantrum because Mummy took away his favourite toy.

Childish bullshit.

No wonder the world is in the state it’s in. It’s like the global version of Lord of the Flies – or maybe this was the point the author was trying to make? We actually have children running the world and screwing it up.

But, to get back on track, if men didn’t do these things, women wouldn’t be getting hurt.

This is kind of a given, although a lot of men still can’t bring themselves to think this way. They don’t want to ‘dob on a mate’, activity I see all the time in High School.

Which brings me to the ‘not all men’ argument.

Yes, it’s true that not all men rape, abuse and murder women.

But not all men would stand up against the abuser and tell him to stop.

Not all men would go against their mates and tell them it’s not ok to have sex with that unconscious girl at a party.

Not all men would ‘dob on a mate’ if they saw or heard them doing it.

Men need to stand up and be vocal too. Tell your mate his behaviour isn’t acceptable. Stand up for your sister or mother or cousin or aunty or friend. You have the power to make the change. We all do, if we all stand up and say it’s not ok.

We all need to stand up and change the culture, but the reality is men care more about what their mates think than the general population. They are subject to peer pressure just like the rest of us, even if we don’t want to admit it.

Please, for the sake of the women in your life, be that mate that says it’s not ok. Be that mate that teaches him what he should do. Be that mate that helps him be a better person and avoid going to jail (the very small percentage that do actually make it there and not through some bullshit legal loophole or some judge’s prejudice, but that’s another story).

Bad things happen when good people stand by and do nothing.

Are you that good person?

Current Issues

Do women need to be ‘whores’ to enjoy sex?

I started reading a book called ‘Finding God Through Sex’, by David Deida, ‘one of the world’s most insightful and provocative teachers of our time’, so the blurb at the back says. I have had issues in the area of sexual fulfilment myself, being influenced by the Christian society I live in (but am not necessarily a part of) and having what I would describe as guilt associated with sexual pleasure, whether with myself or a partner in whom I trust and love.

I had hoped that this book would help me to discover the divine in this area of my life and help me to embrace my sexuality more. I had hoped to gain more insight as to how I could honour my own divinity through sex. I had also thought it might help me to overcome some of my own negative emotions regarding sexual enjoyment.

I won’t say it has done nothing for me: I now understand that it is possible to become aware of the divine through sexual expression and enjoyment. In fact, it seems it is one of the best ways to commune with the divine and infinite love. I will be more aware of certain things I do in my future love making and see how it brings me closer to the divine and my own, and my partner’s, inherent divinity.

What I wasn’t prepared for were the several references to ‘whore’ he made throughout the book.

You can be a whore, making him beg for more. (Page 120*)

The offending passage...

This is just one example of the many references in the book.

My immediate thought was – why do you have to be a whore to know what you’re doing in bed? I haven’t had that many sexual partners in my life, but I would not consider myself bad in bed and I haven’t had any complaints. In fact, having an honest, exploratory, trusting, open and communicative relationship with one partner did more for my experience than the few randoms ever did.

Why can’t a mother, maiden or Goddess leave her partner feeling this way? And why is this term used in reference to a sexually experienced woman? Why can’t she just be a woman?

Also, why do you have to be a whore to make him beg for more? Why couldn’t you do this with the only person you ever slept with, if you know them deeply and understand what turns them on? I would much rather be ‘inexperienced’ and have my partner chomping at the bit, than have slept with a thousand guys to the same end. The point here is, the number of partners you’ve had doesn’t even matter…

Now I think about it, why has he not mentioned this term in relation to the men? Why is it that only women are referred to as whores? Most of the men I know have had many more partners than I have, why don’t they get called whores? Why is their ‘experience’ not making them more accountable for our pleasure?

Another ‘offending comment’ was the following:

You can be a demoness, tearing him apart.*

Again, another derogatory term in reference to a sexually promiscuous woman. Why do I have to be possessed by a demon to enjoy sex with my partner? Can’t I be a Goddess (Aphrodite?), or a mother, or a nerd, or (Gods forbid!) myself!! Why can’t it be the power of God/Goddess that moves me to such extreme excitement that I want to tear my lover limb from limb? Why can’t it be the power of the divine and my own love that gets me to such an extreme and pleasurable emotion? Why can’t it be my love of life and all it has to offer? Or simply the fact that our emotion centre is close to our aggression centre in the brain and the two often overlap… (first year Psych, coming in handy!!)

The answer is simple – the patriarchy.

Please, don’t get this confused with ‘men’, for men have been just as hurt and emasculated by the expectations of the patriarchy, as I have mentioned before . The patriarchy is essentially a certain group of men (usually white men) telling everyone else what to do, wear, be etc out of a misguided need for power. This has lead to many issues throughout the last 5000 years, including the oppression and subjugation of women, children and most racial groups. And, it has lead to the pervading rape culture and recent development of ‘incels’ who believe they are entitled to sex (Google it, it’s a thing…).

It is also the reason why women are labelled ‘whores’ if they are sexually active, experienced and enjoy sex. Why we have to be ‘demons’ in order to feel the strong sexual energy that most men feel on a daily basis is beyond me. I guess it goes back to the ‘Adam and Eve’ thing and the resultant repression of female sexuality. Why do women have to live up to certain archetypes in the first place?

Do we need to reclaim the term ‘whore’ like some racial groups have reclaimed their derogatory terms? I don’t think so, because I dislike this appropriation in all its forms. The intent of the use might be different, but it’s hard to erase 2000+ years of energy, no matter how well meaning you are. The negativity is built into the words, permeates them. This is not the answer.

For me, the answer is to stop using them all together. Not out of fun with our friends. Not in reference to women we don’t know. Not to women who dress a certain way. Not for anyone. Ever.

We also need to reclaim our sexuality. Make people (yes people, women are included in this as many of us seem to be as confused as the rest of the world) aware that women are sexual beings and that it is ok to explore your sexuality. It is ok to try new things and express this side of ourselves. We can be the goddess in the bedroom and it’s ok!

Also, we need to educate people on the true purpose of sex. Many people are having sex for the wrong reasons – myself included for a very long time. Sex is often seen as a way to be accepted and approved of by, not only the people they are sleeping with, but society as a whole. Men and women are using sex to achieve a state of belonging and love that in reality can only be found from within oneself. Again, I speak from experience.

I see this happening with teenagers at schools I teach in, girls who brag about sleeping with X amount of boys at a party and think this is cool. Teenage girls walking around asking the boys how big their dicks are. They get short term approval from the guys, but it never lasts and people need to be aware of this.

Maybe this last will be addressed in a separate post, as this has turned out to be a much deeper issue than I had first thought. The issues of derogatory terms, warping of sexual attitudes and the rule of the patriarchy are becoming more and more important to me. I have been affected and hurt by the all of these things in my life and I have a desire to educate people so they don’t have to be hurt by them either.

We have so much to unlearn about sex and sexuality, but we can do it. One comment at a time.

 

Current Issues

Australia Day: Change the Date

*Warning: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander readers are advised that the following article contains images of people who have died.

**Featured image from Ngurrbul Badhin.

In recent years, Australia Day has become quite controversial. I’ll admit that in the beginning I had no idea what was happening or why things were getting so heated. I just couldn’t understand all the hype, didn’t have a good grasp on what each argument was. Like most Australians the term ‘Invasion Day’ didn’t sit well with me.

Last year I posted on Facebook about being grateful for living in this amazing country. My exact quote was “whatever people say about the past, I’m just grateful to be living in this awesome country”.

How 12 months can change you.

In addition to teaching Rights and Freedoms for many years as part of the history syllabus, I had the privilege of teaching high school Aboriginal Studies last year. This experience has taught me a lot about Aboriginal culture and made more obvious the continuing hardship faced by Australian Aboriginal peoples. It has also opened my eyes.

Don’t get me wrong, I am still grateful to live in this amazingly, beautiful country, I also see how history is still affecting the people who lived here before white man came.

Why we should Change the Date

Simply put: to celebrate a nation on the day it invaded another lacks empathy and compassion. It trivialises over two centuries of oppression, violence, dispossession and forced assimilation of a people. It supports genocide; cultural and literal.

There is a lot about Australia’s history people don’t want to admit to, and this last point is one of them. When we say ‘Genocide’ we think of Hitler and the Aryan race. The reality is that the term wasn’t even around before or immediately after Hitler and it was created to define his actions, not as a title for them.

The dictionary definition of Genocide: the deliberate and systematic extermination of a national, racial, political, or cultural group. What happened in Australia was genocide. How could you intentionally give native people small pox laced blankets and not call it genocide? How can you massacre a people because they were in your way and not call it genocide? How can you force a people to assimilate to your culture in an attempt to ‘breed it out’ and not call it genocide?

3-generations
The caption under the original image states “Half-caste – along with terms such as caste, quarter-caste, “mix-breed” and others, as shown in the image – were widely used by the British invaders in their attempt to devalue, brand and classify First Nations people”

 

As a result of Captain Cook’s landing, the Aboriginal people experienced trauma that, up until the 1990s, was largely ignored in the History books.

During the 20th Century, children were stolen from their families or manipulated into giving them up. These children and the families suffered (and continue to suffer) significant emotional trauma, many spending the rest of their lives being unable to relocate their families. While in the missions, many children experienced physical and sexual abuse.

These children would grow up to be labourers or housemaids for rich, white families. They would not have direct access to their income, having to ask the Protection Board for permission to access their money, and they would be given much less than their white counterparts (if anything at all). Many of the women working as housemaids were raped by their employer and then kicked out once it was discovered she was pregnant. Later, this child would be taken from her as it represented the best opportunity for assimilation – the white blood was stronger than the black.

Aboriginal people were forced from their fertile land where they had lived for tens of thousands of years and onto barren reserves, unable to access traditional food sources. When they went into ‘town’, they were often ignored or avoided, but many experienced verbal insults and physical violence just because of their skin colour. They were often not served in the shops if there was a white person present and were asked to leave many establishments.

And this is just a few examples, merely touching the surface of the situation. I haven’t spoken of the massacres or frontier wars, events that lead to cultural distrust for doctors, police and other authority figures, the impacts of foreign diseases, the effects of the introduction of alcohol and other substances.

How can we choose to celebrate Australia on a date that has such a far reaching and perpetual impact upon the world’s oldest existing culture?

What date could we use?

The fact is, there are 354 other dates of the year we could look at. Captain Cook’s landing does not signify when Australia became a country or anything even remotely connected to who we are as a nation today. With this in mind, here are some I have thought of:

  1. 1 January: This is the day Australia actually became a country in 1901. Before this, Australia was a half dozen or so colonies with little to do with each other. This day marks Australia’s federation and, perhaps other than New Zealand (those guys do all the cool things first!), is the first country in the world to do so without bloodshed.
  2. 13 February: in honour of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s Sorry Speech. This may be less popular, as many Australians still believe we ‘have nothing to say sorry for’, but it marks the first step to practical reconciliation for Australia.
  3.  27 May: On this day in 1967 over 90% of Australians voted yes to including Aboriginal people in our constitution. This marks the first initial recognition of Aboriginal peoples as citizens, in essence giving them access to the same rights as the rest of Australia.
  4. 3 June: The date the high court of Australia ruled to overturn Terra Nullius and establish Native Title. This was one of the precursors to actual recognition of what had happened over the last 200 years, especially since Australian History in schools started at 1770… We now know the Aboriginal People were living here for much longer than that – longer than any other known civilization. The Mabo Case that lead to this decision was the first step in recognizing the existence and continuation of Aboriginal culture in Australia.
  5. 10 Dec: In honour of the UNDHR that Australia had a major hand in and has since been working towards fully implementing in policy. This would probably be my last choice, because while key Australian politicians were creating the charter in the 1950s, others back home were making policy in defiance of it or completely ignoring it in relation to Aboriginal people. Still, it recognises the prevailing and widespread existence of racism and discrimination on all levels.
  6. 1956 or 2000 Olympic Games opening ceremonies. Since sport is a major part of both cultures, this might be seen as a way of finding the common thread to bring us back together as a whole. These events showcased Australian culture, Indigenous and non-Indigenous (specifically the 2000 Olympic Games), to the world. The 2000 Olypmic Games and was one of the first times all sections of society worked together and were recognised as equal.

cathy freeman
Cathy Freeman lighting the cauldron at the 2000 Olympic Games. Trying to find a primary source for this image was so very hard – this one comes from an article written 15 years later, and not about her missing suit!

 

The reality is, there are dozens of more appropriate dates we could be using, some more than others. Many of the above could be argued as supporting one culture over the other, but the point is that the events listed promote positive relations between what appears to be the two sides of Australian society. The date should reflect positive aspects of our culture and serve to reconcile and ‘close the gap’ between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australia.

What we do need to do is find a date that is universal. In reality, it can’t be about the rights of one person or the lack of them for another. It can’t be a date that is significant for one people over another.

Perhaps we find a date when nothing of great significance happened and choose it, a ‘blank date’ and make it something great.