Thursday, March 13, 2014

To the Jerk at the track, from the Fatty.

There was a charming piece on my Facebook last night, shared by some athlete’s page, and linked to me because a friend “liked it”.it came from a site page here

When I read it my heart sank, because not only was it the usual bullshit fat tropes, but it expected me to treat the writer like a hero for realising fat people are, well… people.

This isn’t a news flash to some of us, and I was inspired to respond. I hope you enjoy it.


To the D-bag sitting on the side-line judging others….
There's something you should know: I know I rock, and you have NO IDEA.
Every shallow thought you have about someone else’s body, every insight you think you know about me based solely on my size, every hateful thought that flickers through your synapses when you see someone bigger than you… you are contributing to a stigma that stops people like me living better.

To go for a run people overcome a lot of things; apathy, discomfort, judgement, lack of time, fatigue. I had to start overcoming things before I even go for a run.
To go for a run I have to find a shop that sells size 18 or over running tops and shorts… comfortable ones that look nice and feel good and wash well. Ones designed to wick perspiration away from my body, because as you so kindly pointed out as you stared at me, I sweat when I do exercise (JUST LIKE EVERYONE ELSE). They don't often make them in my size, and when I go into those shops looking, people stare at me, because why does a fatty need exercise clothes?

Why do we need exercise clothes? Because we are out there, just like everyone else.
We are on your softball teams, in your gym, doing martial arts, in your dance classes. We are everywhere.
And if you came to the pool with me I would wipe my butt with you, because my buoyancy is epic (thanks to my fat!), my technique is amazing, and in spite of all your assumptions based on how I look, my cardiac fitness is pretty damn good.
My body is just bigger than yours. That weight isn’t "begging to be shaken off", it's part of my goddam body - stop wishing it away. What part of your life would change if there was less of me in the world? I can tell you no part of my life would change, because I’ve experienced life both slim and fat, and other than how the world treats me, my life is no different.

And since you so oddly speculated on my lack of headphones… When I exercise without music, I day dream. Your weird fantasy that I’m driven by self-hatred is SICK and you should look into professional help.
Without music, my mind wanders. I think about my amazing partner, I worry about work, I fantasise about what life will be like when I complete post-grad. I day dream about my last scuba dive, and think about when my next will be and where I will go.
My life is full and awesome, just like my body, and I don’t waste a second hating either.
It just makes me sad that without knowing anything about me you can project all that rubbish.

I know I’ve got this.
But thanks for making me realise that the world thinks LETTING ME EXERSIZE WITHOUT PEOPLE HATING ME is a prize winning moment.

Yours sincerely,

The fatty.


Thursday, December 12, 2013

Not bad for a bunch of internet perverts.

A little over 2 years ago my mum looked concerned at the idea I was meeting a few women for brunch who I had met on the internet. It wasn’t a date; it was just likeminded people, meeting for coffee, because we had got along really well on twitter.
Mum’s train of thought was that only perverts talk to strangers on the internet, how do you know they are really nice ladies, and not creepy dudes? And also, don’t you have REAL friends?
Mum is an accountant. Say no more. < note to self: insert smiley here in case mum reads this>

My train of thought was; these people are AMAZING, and we are so similar. I’ve spent most of my life feeling like the “odd one out”*, why would I walk away from the chance to find like-minded people?
So I went to coffee. I went to brunches. I went to tweet ups, to movies, and music in parks. I helped start an Auckland Feminist meet-up, We started a pub quiz group. I met the most amazing people. People, who don’t like bars, people who don’t like crowds. People I wouldn’t have met any other way, than through friends, or online.

These people were My People. They were Good People. They were broken, and ill and strong and opinionated. They were different ages, and stages of their journey. We didn’t all immediately click, and there were admittedly a few, who once I met them, I realised we weren’t so well matched after all. But mostly, this weird space on the internet that my mother was convinced was full of perverts was a gold mine.
These were my kind of “perverts”.

These perverts had the same kinks as me. It was like being on a platonic dating site full of witty, smart people who cared about the world they inhabited. Who took action for change. These perverts were willing to do a lot of weird stuff with me (like helping the community).
Most recently, one of my favourite internet perverts – Jackie Clark, started calling some of us the #twitteraunties. It seemed at first glance that it was a bunch of friends who enjoyed meddling in each other’s lives and being shoulders for each other. Then things stepped up to another level and the #auntymafia was born. These were Good People who might not even live in the same place, but were willing to come together to make a difference.
Last night some of the Aunty Mafia came together to coordinate, wrap and deliver food, presents, packages, technology collected for Te Whare Marama o Mangare women’s refuge. This wasn’t a spur of the moment thing. We had been meeting to discuss how to help, and the job seemed almost do-able by us on a small scale. We came up with a small plan, and Jackie took it to twitter and started asking for help. For some reason this captured people. They loved it, and wanted to help. Donations and food and gifts flooded in, people involved their corporations that they had links to, and networked among community groups. With enough strong backs, and loving helpers, we were able to harness all the resources available. It wasn’t small scale at all. What Jackie had started was small. What she had grown was HUGE.

I found last night overwhelming for a bunch of reasons. Partly because it felt like an honour, that at what could be one of the roughest times in someone’s life, we were able to make a difference. Partly because for every enthusiastic smile there, ten more people had contributed to the gifts and food we were wrapping. This was bigger than anything I’ve been so closely involved in, and although part of me was overwhelmed, a small voice was proudly chirping up in the back of my head…
“Not bad for a bunch of perverts off the internet”.

Thank you. Thank you all.

Further reading:
Jackie has a lovely thank you at her blog, acknowledging the sheer number of people involved, and saying thanks better than I have words for.

* My old friends are amazing, but we are united by love of each other and lives together, not similarities.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Chicago, Auckland Music theatre 2013, Scube's perspective

We booked a group of over 30 people to see Chicago by ATC on the strength of "Lucy Lawless is in it" and "Michael Hurst is directing", and to be honest I didnt worry too much beyond that.
It’s not often you go to an Auckland show and see a Shortland street actorSHHHH LET ME FINISH! See a Shortland Street actor AND take half the show to recognise who they are. Amanda Billings played the role of Roxy Hart, and was unrecognisable as her Sarah Potts. She blew my mind within her first number, with the assistance of the talented and physically phenomenal Mike Edward. As well as executing her part in the opening song fabulously, she and mike progressively stripped down to their underwear, and gave us a mesmerising perspective of Roxy’s affair and murder through a stunningly choreographed acrobatic dance sequence. I was left wishing she could kill mike again so I could see more, and lo and behold the rest of the cast was happy to fulfil my wish.
The cell block tango had been transformed from the Fosse choreography I am so fond of to something that had me clutching the railing and wishing it would never finish. Each of the girls stepped up and took the stage, building upon the work of the previous actor and repeatedly “killed” Mike in a myriad of acrobatic ways. The scene left him stripped to his underpants and swinging unconscious by his feet above the stage. A veritable human piñata. And  would you believe all this was unbelievably witty?

I had been warned it wasn’t the Chicago I was familiar with but at this point I sat up and took notice.

There were several levels of bravery to this production. It’s a fosse musical, and to be honest I wasn’t 100% enthused about the concept of a fosse without any bloody fosse, but I was willing to be convinced, and boy am I glad I risked it. They stripped back the choreography, the costumes, the set and the usual devices.
It turns out that once you have done that, what is left is a script and score ACHING to be used in a more subversive way, in a more intimate setting, and choreography that asks more of the performers as individuals. It was the difference between Hugh Grant and Alan Rickman reading a book on tape.  You *think* Hugh Grant is as good as it gets, but when you hear Alan Rickman, you realise there is a lot more out there than just shiny and entertaining.

In all seriousness, it’s Lucy Lawless, the blow up dolls, sexy costuming and smut that is making the media, but this show was sexy in so many less tangible ways. Mostly talent. Talent is incredibly arousing, and from the lighting in the ceiling to the painted stage, and all the skills used in-between, this show was pure talent. It wasn’t the hilarious blow up dolls or nipple covers that were titillating. It was the raw energy and power of the acrobatics, the dance, and the obvious love of music. I think the bit that made MY knees go weak was watching the audience respond to the almost constant eye contact, interaction and brilliant off side action from the ensemble. If anyone in that audience missed out on a smile, a filthy wink, a nod, a side eye, a prop, or just feeling like they were immersed, I will be very surprised. The cast were practically in the front row’s lap, and I suspect from about 15 minutes in the audiance members would have happily let them sit there.

Congratulations to the team and especially to Michael Hurst for his direction, Shona McCullagh for choreography that made strangers gasp in unison, John Gibson and the band for the music  that made me want to give the origional score a second chance at love, and those brave enough to let these decisions happen in an arts community as small as Auckland. I assume the sold out shows and extended season reflect that this show has been a financial success, and I hope it inspires more people to walk to the edge of comfortable and look beyond the usual.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

How could this happen? - T/W

T/W - Discusses rape, victim blaming, and the Roast Busters case.
How could this happen?

I’ve heard so many people in the last week ask “how could this happen?” “How could this go on for so long?”, “why don’t the girls come forward?” when talking about the news about the repulsive predatory behaviour of a group of young men.
Tragically, they usually answer the question themselves, and in a bitter aftertaste, most don’t even recognise thatthey are the answer.

The next step in the lunch room conversation is to speculate about the victims of sexual crime, and “young people today”. What women are wearing, where they are going, who they are choosing to hang out with.
Why is the next logical step in breaking down the cause of a crime to look at the victim? Why not the assailant?
Why not our culture, which allows young men to feel so entitled to sex that there is a socially acceptable term for a friendship with a WOMAN WHO WONT HAVE SEX WITH YOU. (Friend zone). Like having a friend is some kind of hardship.

What is wrong with us?
I sort of understand. If we can find some “otherness” about victims, then we can fib to ourselves, and be reassured that if we are not like them, we will not be hurt.
If we jump over cracks, and turn the light switch on and off, cover our knees, and do not wear high heels we will somehow be immune to the Bad Man, who is some mythical boogie monster.

We need to turn 180 degrees, stop investigating the victims like there is some kind of magic thing that makes them a good target, and start looking at why we have young men with repeat predatory behaviour by the time they hit their teens.
Why do men rape is an incredibly complex question, but why do they CONTINUE?

Because they can.
Because the victims are put on trial too.
Because being unable to say no is STILL being treated like the equivalent of yes.
Because people still truly believe that rapists are the bad man in the darkest corner of our public parks or night club.
Because when someone is attacked, we avert our eyes from the normal looking rapist, and speculate on what makes a victim.
Because the victim’s reputation is under attack in the media and their community as much as the perpetrator.

We are asking the wrong questions. We should be asking what makes a rapist.

If your response to these stories was any question about the nature of the victims YOU are part of what makes attackers stronger, more confident, and more likely to re-offend.

That's how this can happen.

Monday, November 4, 2013

The Baying Mob or How I carry a torch.

So, you are horrified by the “Roast Busters”, and want to make a difference, but what can you do? 

In my more frustrated moments, I would love to be that person carrying a torch at the front of a baying mob, crying for justice and making a difference to the outcome of a trial of people who have hurt someone else.
But we don’t live in a village of 100 people. These young men are not the only people out there perpetrating sex crimes. And we HAVE a justice system. It is flawed, but we need to use it so the flaws are SEEN, and changed, and our system can evolve with our understanding of right and wrong. An example of this is that rape used to be legal within marriage, and the laws evolved for the better with our societal changes.
We can’t nor should we, start a mob of people, so here are some ideas for how you can be brave, and carry your torch out into the community and really make a difference.

Be the light at the end of the tunnel.
Volunteer. Work on help lines. Or just be a strong and vocal voice for justice so that people see you as a safe refuge or support when they need it. Advocate for friends who need a voice. Speak for those still too traumatised to speak. Hold your friend’s hand when they decide they are brave enough to speak up, or pursue justice.

Be the voice of reality.
This issue is raising the topic of “what could possibly make young men behave this way.”
Remind people that 1 in 4 women are raped. This act is not a rarity and we live in a rape culture.

It is raising the question of “how to avoid being a victim”
That the rapist drinking is of more importance than the victim as far as causation.

Be the person brave enough to discuss “consent”.
People are often confused about what rape is. We need to start talking about the fact that rape isn’t what the media tells us.
Its subtle, it’s discreet, it is friends, it is family. It is quiet, it is dangerous, and it is under reported.
 You can inform them that in research when men are asked if they have “raped” most will say no. But when men are asked if they have “forced a woman who was not your wife or girlfriend at the time to have sex,” or if they had ever “had sex with a woman who was too drunk or drugged to indicate whether she wanted it.” 
That answer changes significantly.*

Be the person who knows the facts.
When talking about false reports, there are more false reports for stolen cars than false reports for rape. As a crime it is under reported and really badly dealt with.

                      This image from the USA is incredibly depressing, and NZ is no better off.

Be the killjoy.
Be the person at your work, or social gatherings who when someone makes a rape joke, you look blankly at them and ask why it’s funny. If they have to explain it, it becomes apparent very quickly the rape culture we are living in.

Be the support person.
Be the person who listens without judgement, believes the person talking about abuse, and helps them with WHATEVER THEY CHOOSE TO DO.

Be the person advocating body autonomy for the children and young people around you.
Ask before you hug or kiss friends, family or other people you greet.
When kids don’t want to give you a kiss or hug hello or goodbye, say “that’s ok, kisses and hugs are special and we can ALWAYS choose when to give them.” Empower young people to understand that touch is a choice, and their bodies are their own to control.

Be the person supporting those on the front line.
Donate, remind those around you to donate, and when there are competitions for funding, support organisations who help.

Not everyone can carry every torch and they are ALL important. Support the other torch bearers. Carry someone else’s for a while to lighten their load.  Accept that we will all need to take a break sometimes.
But as long as we are casting light in our own communities, that will spread, and other people will find the strength to start standing with us.

My love to everyone on the front lines.


*These quotes are from the WHO study, and are therefore gendered in this way.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Sinfest's Sisterhood.

Oh man, this is how I felt as I started to submerge below the surface of feminism and activism... the more you see...

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Online dating is for WINNERS. (also, people who dont like being vomited on)

My actual last messages on dating forums…
Try to imagine the chirp of crickets after each one...

I love opera

No, racism isn’t really something that I’m into.

No when I say I’m involved in community I mean I volunteer, not that I am involved in the TV show.

Um, I do identify as a feminist.

Have you tried geocaching?

I didn’t fill in the “kids” question because I think that planning children is more of a first date thing.

Sorry, I don’t collect miniatures (in response to a penis photo)

I’m going to stop you there. Domestic violence jokes aren’t as funny as let’s say, cancer.

Sorry, but your photo of you posing with a gun creeps me out

Sure, here is a photo of me.


Why do I BOTHER? My weird hobbies and high standards, and witty sarcasm are a good thing right?
The reason I have decided to try online dating.

Because actual last comments while meeting men in bars…

Please don’t touch me

Please don’t grab me

Get your fucking hands off me

I can’t understand what you are saying

Ewwww, gross (after someone vomited on my feet)


So yeah, I’m trying internet dating.
Don’t judge me, it’s not the worst option.