Monday, December 20, 2010

Why not innocent until proven lier?

Can I just say it again...

I don’t know enough about the Assange rape accusations and trial process to comment on the specifics of the case.

I don’t know whether he is guilty or not guilty.
At this point, I have to assume he is not guilty.
There are women who are accusing him of rape.
I have no idea whether they are lying or not lying.
Until they are proved to have been lying (essentially a guilty verdict for a crime) they are not.

I’m not choosing sides at this point because I DONT KNOW.

Neither do you I will bet.
There are only three people who know what happened and I bet you, yes You; the asshole who sent me, and my friends messages saying we're talking out of our asses are not one of them.

Consequently you must also be talking out your ass, if you have already come to a conclusion.

What I do take issue with is the large number of people using bullshit terms and phrases that have no relevance to the case to validate their opinion.
Check out the rape apologist bingo below for some absolute gold that has been being repeated on twitter, Face book, and in the media.

My issue is that I personally know three people who have been assaulted in one fashion or another and either not reported it, or dropped charges.
All three genuinely occurred. Two resulted in medical treatment being required and one was me.

There are a large host of reasons why women don’t report rape. The biggest one is that even after going through the process of reporting, opening yourself up to forensic examination, re living it to multiple police and legal staff and your friends and family, you might not even get to see the case in court.

We haven’t even gotten to the point where rape statistics are even known properly.
But wait – there are rape stats right?
Yep - Statistics show that Sweden has one of the highest rape rates in the world.
WOW! That must mean that they have more rape than anywhere else – right?
But hold on a minute.
The Middle East has one of the lowest rape rates in the world.
A place where in some areas women are seen as second class citizens, and have no legal voice of their own has the lowest rape rates in the world – REALLY???
Oh, but hold on a minute – those statistics are taken from REPORTS.
So what I can see is that rather than the Middle East being a veritable Mecca of safety for women, is that the women simply do not report rape when it occurs.

Rape is everywhere, and affects everyone.
How we talk about it is so important, because reporting is sometimes just as hard as the rape was originally.

My friend who was brutally raped by two men, including restraints and violence didn’t even make it to charges because their defence of “we didn’t know her drink has been spiked”, the fact they knew her, and the fact she had a history of online dating was enough to lower the chance of them being convicted to zilch. The police officer she reported to gave her the advice to drop it because she would be "dragged through the mud for nothing."

My experience was with an older more powerful, much liked man.
Not only would it be unlikely that I would be believed, he didn’t get to do much because I was lucky enough to catch him by surprise, fight back and get away. Proving that I knew he had intent to continue his actions to the point of rape would have been almost impossible.

I have had someone violate my personal space and deliberately try to hurt me.
My word as an honest human with nothing to gain was not enough.

These women in the Assange case are accusing someone well liked, internationally known, and powerful.
They either have an option of a future with new names, or are the bravest women I have ever heard of.
I have to wonder why they would put themselves at risk like this for a false accusation.

I hope your opinion will not matter to the women involved in the Assange case.

They certainly will not read your little Twitter account.
Or your blog.
They don’t check your Facebook page.

But women and men you know, love, and care about do.

Women statistically have a one in four chance, and men with a one in eight chance of having been raped in the past by the time they read your post.

People who will feel the bile rise into their mouths
Their hearts race.
Their throats tighten.
They may cry.

Because you, YES YOU, are just one more person who makes it difficult to report rape.

I would like to thank Sady for her writing here and here which inspired me to stop cowering in a corner, scared of the fallout, and write on this topic.
You are an inspiration.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Dear Kanye - THINK!

Every day I am pummelled by images of Woman, and what she ought to be.
She is smooth and slim and perfect, available and willing and witty.
She is the provider for the family and maternal in keeping home.
She is perfection in itself.
At 28 I have come to terms with the fact that the media hold a strong position in telling people what they should find attractive and sexy and I am happy to choose to ignore.
The majority of people are unaware of how successful the media is at glamorising certain images. Portia D’Rossi is a prime example of someone whose abnormal weight loss was normalised by the miniscule size of the women she worked around and the reactions of the media to her “amazing transformation.”
People try new products because of the beautiful people marketing them, and if a company wants a product used, they just put it in the latest ‘it girl/ guy’s’ hand.

Popular musicians and rap stars hold equal amounts of power when it comes to sending messages as far as trends, and what is the ‘in thing’ right now, whether it be a behaviour or the latest image.
Today I saw parts of Kanye West’s new music video.
It has had me in equal parts revolted and frightened.

For those who haven’t been able to see it I direct you to this site. Kt-Rae has done a great job of describing the video, linking to it and discussing her concerns.

I don’t feel I need to elaborate too much further on the video itself. Partly because I feel sick to my stomach and I really, really, really don’t want to think about it too much more.

Instead, I am writing an open letter to those involved in the making of the music video.
Feel free to use it and send it in yourself.

Dear Kanye West, Jay-Z, Nicki, MinaJ, Rick Ross, and all those involved in the making of the “monster” music video.

What were you thinking?

You hold more power to reach out to the world in your little fingers, than I will ever have in my entire life. Every song you sing, every video you make, will tell people what to expect from life, and how to live theirs.
What you glamorise, is then normalised. Swearing is made awesome, fashion trends are loved, and new lyrics are learnt and sung around the world.
When I see people who are as powerful as all this choosing to glamorise and sexualise dead and unconscious women I am extremely concerned.
Are you so separated from the world that you have lost touch with what is normal? With what is ok?
Are you so separated from the world that you think that a woman’s body is yours to touch, whether she is still in it or not?
Are you so naive to think that this video will not impact on the hundreds of thousands of young men, who desperately need role models?

Just think.

What the young woman who was raped while she was unconscious will think when she sees your lips on an unconscious woman’s hand while you leer at her body.

What someone’s sister who was date raped will think when she sees the woman splayed on the table while you calmly survey your domain?

What a mother will think when she see’s your video and wonders about her daughter who hung herself without an explanation.

What a father will be forced to remember about his little girl who was raped and killed.

By all means, raise awareness for the millions of women around the world who are raped, abused, living in fear, and killed before they even live for themselves.

But don’t sexualise them.
Don’t dress them up whilst you hang them up.
Don’t make a fetishism of their deaths.
Don’t get off on their pain.

And for God’s sake.
Pull this video before more people are hurt.
Men. Women, and those who need your leadership.

I for one will be boycotting your music until you do.

Kind regards,

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

We are on the same side...

“We are on the same side”.
A message received by me through twitter from one of the NZ girl editors.
No kidding!! Only an asshole is FOR breast cancer, that doesn’t give you carte blanche to do anything in the name of fundraising.

*deep calming breath*
Before I start – big props to the women who have the self control to write functionally while still pissed off (I waited ‘til today, so it wasn’t a jumbled spew of rage).
Rachael covers this whole thing very nicely; take a read of what she has to say here.
Boganette made into the news with her tweets, and her post combines her dark humour with a clear cut point.
For those who missed the memo, this post is regarding the NZ Girl website's warped idea of breast cancer awareness by asking women to post photos of their breasts, in exchange for money to be donated to the cause (this is a bit vague at this point).

One of the first computer lessons we teach young people is internet safety.
Don’t give out your phone number or address.
Don’t mention where you go to school.
Sure as heck don’t post photos of yourself that you may regret.
A good basic rule is to think of the person who scares you / creeps you out the most, and then consider if you would like THEM to see what you are about to post.

This is the one of the key issues about the latest "Breast cancer awareness campaign" – they are actively encouraging girls and women to send in photos of their breasts.
It may well be a good idea right now.
It might still feel like a good idea next week.
What about next year? Or in ten years?
Or when you realise the NZ girl site isn’t crashing because everyone thinks those pictures are ‘empowering.’
They just want to stare at real tits for free.
I find it very hard to believe that people marketing-savvy enough to run a successful site like this don’t realise that it’s not hordes of women leaping at the chance to rate breasts.
And I find it bloody irresponsible that a site aimed at ‘girls’ is exploiting them for ratings.

Secondly, and no less importantly. Breast cancer is NOT about breasts!
Breasts are lovely. Cancer is not.
Breast cancer affects men, and women whose breasts are barely discernable, it affects women who have already had their breasts removed.

As an exersize, I would like to suggest some other “cancer fundraiser” ideas.

‘Hit the Sack’ – submit an anonymous photo of a view of your gooch and ball sack in celebration of the preciousness of men’s prostates.

“Leggy ladies” – raise awareness for the 5th biggest in-patient killer in Oz – DVT, and the fact it is most prevalent in women. Send in photos of your legs.

“Don’t be an asshole – get a check up” - submit a photo of your O-Ring and raise Bowel and rectal cancer awareness.

"Feel the burn" – NZ has one of the highest rates of Chlamydia in the world – send in a pic of your swollen balls or discharging Vag, to raise awareness.
(Actually – at least that one is RELEVENT, as it would educate on what the symptoms look like)

If they seem stupid or irrelevant, maybe you need to ask why showing breasts aren’t.
Because they are fun?
Pretty? Hot? Sexy?


I also find it thoughtless that they used the term “pair” when referring to sending your photos in. A fairly clear insight into the fact they were NOT thinking about cancer survivors when asking for submissions.

Urgh, there is so much wrong with this particular “fundraiser” that it is not even funny.
And putting a post up 24 hours later with info on detection and the NZ breast cancer foundation doesn’t really cut it.

This post is shite. I’m tired and frustrated, and tearful.
Sorry that the words aren’t fluent, I’m finding this one a little tricky.

Get your Tits out for the Girls; the educational version.

In light of NZ Girl's freaking revolting campaign, I have decided to do one with the same name, but an educational version that people might actually learn something from.

Because, just as breasts differ, so do the cases of breast cancer.

Some catch it early...

and can receive a lumpectomy, keeping the breast.

For some there is no discernable lump, but they notice discolouration

For larger breasts lumps are less noticeable and so they are at higher risk for late detection

In the case of a later stage breast cancer a mastectomy is sometimes needed.

Or a double mastectomy.

Breast cancer occurs in Men more rarely (2% of all breast cancer) but has the same risk of fatality.

In later stages most cancers can become ulcerative – breast cancer is no different.

And it can metastasise out of the breast to the rest of the body, via the lymph nodes.

This is why women often have Axillary Lymph node dissections at the time of a mastectomy.

Please get your breasts checked by mammogram, it’s free in NZ if you are:

Aged 45 to 69 years of age
You have no symptoms of breast cancer
You have not had a mammogram in the last 12 months
And you are not pregnant

AND check them yourself regularly.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Just when you think you are having a bad day...

I went out to my car this morning to run some errands.
Bag on back, spring in step, head in clouds.
And, I should mention, car in secure underground car park.
As I walked past the back of my car I noticed that the back window was broken.
The actual words out of my mouth were not "gee whiz!" But for the sake of delicate beliefs, we will go with that.
I spent my morning explaining to insurance, glass repairmen and the police (I reported it in the case I had a known burglar as a neighbour seeing as it was INSIDE at the time of break in) what had happened.
A frustrating waste of time and hurtful that the person who broke in could be someone I say hi to each day. The stupid side of it is that the only thing they got was my GPS unit, and the window repair costs similar amounts.

The police see a higher number of domestic violence around Christmas time due to higher stress levels. This is well publicised in our media at this time of year.
What is less well publicised is the increased numbers of break ins and theft.
Especially theft targeting things like electronics and toys.
This is essentially stealing to order. Usually this is for someone who wants to on sell, and has a buyer requesting certain items.

At Christmas it is sometimes a little different.
To order in late November or December means there is someone at home who is dreaming of a Christmas that can’t be afforded.
People are stealing things to give as gifts.

I sincerely hope my GPS unit has been stolen to be given to someone who
A) Will use it every day like I do.
B) Doesn’t know it is stolen and genuinely loves it.

I also hope they wonder why it came without a power cord! AHAHAHAHAHAHA!
Ok, so I’m not a Saint, and I’m still pissed off about it.

To help put things in perspective for me, in the news tonight among my loved ones; my friend in her early 20s needed CPR after collapsing on Saturday night and my other, equally young friend has been admitted to hospital for the 3rd time in the last few months due to unexplained illness.

Fuck it,
It’s just a window, I shall continue on, spring in step, head in clouds.

Friday, November 19, 2010

My take on the “Birth Or Not” website.

This is probably one of the sickest ‘pro-life’ stunts I’ve seen in a while.
It’s right up there with their doctored photos and bullshit stories about imaginary women who had terrible lives and cancer after an abortion.
For info on what the site is about, go here.
I’m not linking people to the site itself, because I’m damned if I will give them more traffic.

I was trying to figure out why they have bothered?

They* already have a large amount of misleading info out there on fetal development.
They* already have “help clinics” for people seeking info on abortions that either manipulate the women to alternatives, or delay them so long an abortion is no longer possible.
They* already attack women in public and on internet forums for openly discussing abortion and their experience with it.

So why this?
What has been missing so far?

Answer: The ability to openly discuss and attack on a forum that will show an overall ‘winner’ in a clear definable final outcome.

This site offers them the opportunity to vilify abortionists and women who take the choice to abort. Anyone and everyone will comment and the way they have set this scenario up, very few people would select the abort option.

People who are informed and pro-choice would not select an option AT ALL because we are pro-choice. So the only people voting are those insensitive enough to find it funny, and want to wind the pro-lifers up, or the Pro-lifers.

The way this scenario will end up, the couple will keep the baby and thank those who supported them, anyone who voted abort will clearly be in the wrong (as they ARE, we can’t choose for someone else!). The sick comments recommending that they “kill the baby” (some planted, some actually written by people angry enough at the hoax to not think too hard about how their responses will be used against them) will be waved triumphantly in the air to prove how sick “pro-abortionists” are.

Several issues I have with the site (beyond it being a blatant hoax and one of the sickest concepts I’ve ever heard) is that they have missed the point completely.
I have yet to meet anyone who identifies as “pro-abortion”. This isn’t semantics, this is reality.

No one celebrates abortion.
No one looks forward to having one
No one looks forward to performing one.
But until women have 100% control over their reproduction abortions will be needed.
I am not going to get into this, as Julie over at the Hand Mirror expresses it more clearly and eloquently than I ever could

*The prolife activists on the internet

A message to those who have written the website or support it.

The opposite of anti abortion/prolife is not pro abortion; it is PRO CHOICE.
You have missed the point again.
We will not be voting on this. No one should be voting on this.
It is the parent’s choice what to do and no one else can make it for them because no one else has to live with that choice.

That means that this site isn’t actually hitting the supposed target audience at all, because no matter what the outcome, we don’t have a vote. There are only one (or two) votes that count when it comes to the choice of abortion.
To make someone keep a child, or carry one for 9 months, bond then give it up is just as sick as making someone abort.
Your website is bizarre, what is the role of the mother? Just an incubator while you expose her to the world’s judgment?
A black and white results Poll in a world of grey medical and life ethics is as irrational and irrelevant as the website you have written.
By writing this website you have hurt, frightened, and upset more people on the “pro-life” side of the coin than any other. I wish there was some way you could call each and every distressed person who really believes there is a couple that callous out there and apologise for using their beliefs and life experience to get good coverage.

Shame on you.

An overview of the “Birth or Not” website and surrounding hubbub.

There is a charming website on the internet that Boganette linked me up to.
I almost didn’t click on it, just the description alone made me feel sick. It is a blatant prolife propaganda machine, just another way to incite rage and allow people to rant about their points of view without seeming like they are aiming it at anyone in particular (specifically the vulnerable young people genuinely seeking information on thier terrifyingly real issues.)

I cannot be bothered playing into their game and linking to the site (and giving them more readers) but it is easily findable – just follow the trail of rage across the internet!
If you are interested the ministry of truth has posted about this site, and pretty much proven that is linked with another right wing political site, and the URL was purchased over a month before the supposed conception – talk about foresight!

The basic line is that a married couple in their early 30s who have had 2 miscarriages and are actively trying to start a family have opened up a site with weekly pregnancy updates (complete with scans WTF?)
And a public Poll on whether they should abort the child.
The original line was that it too could have genetic defects and spontaneously miscarriage and they wanted to avoid the heartbreak.
Now the pregnancy is further along they are clearing tests etc for birth defects (they specifically mention Down’s syndrome) with flying colours, and the fetus is healthy so I fail to understand why the question and poll are still up there.

The language used is so obvious it is pathetic. The words “the pill” are always in brackets and they use highly emotive language to describe the fetus while still claiming to be indifferent to the outcome of the poll.
They have given it a nickname and mention things like it sucking its thumb in utero.

Here are some of the messages on the boards, some are witty, and some are tragic and not unusual. They are breaking people’s hearts who actually believe in this scenario and people who cannot have kids are horrified at the public display of cruelty.

“I’m Pro-Choice, but I differ with most Liberals when it comes to WHEN you make that choice. If you are unable to figure out how to not get pregnant then you shouldn’t reproduce in the first place.
You showed us your mental capacity by getting pregnant when there are hundreds of ways to avoid it, then publishing this website for some insane reason.
Don’t listen to the poll. Please kill your baby.
Please spare the rest of us from your horrible gene pool.”

“My vote…Save the child, euthanize the parents.”

“I do not know if this is a hoax or not, but on the chance that it is not, I implore you to choose life. My husband and I have never been able to conceive, but have two beautiful children, thanks to the gift of adoption. I am so thankful for the courage and honesty of their birth mothers, both of whom admitted their inability and unwillingness to raise their children, but who were willing to continue their pregnancies and give their children life, and give us the opportunity to be parents. I am daily grateful for the gifts that they have given to us and to their children.”

“For anyone in genuine trouble, teen pregnancy, or carrying an unwanted embryo as a result of rape or incest PLEASE check your sources. There is a lot of info out there and some people have an agenda.”
For those of you sick enough to think you can make a life changing choice for someone else…. I hope you see the light one day.”

“It saddens me that you would even contemplate a forum such as this. The creation of a life is no simple daily task that should have input from anyone other than yourselves. After 2 miscarriages already, this should be a no-brainer that you would want to do everything possible to preserve this pregnancy. My wife and I have one wonderful son and have had 3 miscarriages since his birth. I do understand the hesitation for another try, as the miscarriages have tainted the whole experience and the hopeful joy of a parent during pregnancy – but to put this to a vote is a slap in the face to not only other parents, but God himself. This is between the two of you and God, and really no one else. I wish you great luck, and hope that you have a wonderful healthy baby.”

And lastly, my comment,

This is a sick “pro life” hoax.
The opposite of anti abortion/prolife is not pro abortion; it is PRO CHOICE.
You have missed the point again. We will not be voting on this. No one should be voting on this. It is the parent’s choice what to do and no one else can make it for them because no one else has to live with that choice.
Adoption is not an option in the poll because everyone would take it in this scenario (since your fictional characters are clearly too callous to be parents). And that would cause unity, not the massive arguments you want.
Nice try.
Abortion is not ideal but until women have 100% control over their reproductive life it is needed.
Who the hell are you to make a woman bear the fetus of her rapist, or a child bear a child? Or a make a woman who may die in childbirth carry on?
Morals are never black and white and cannot have a POLL because the answers are not black and white either.
Grow up.”

For a follow up opinion piece I wrote click here.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

#thingswomendontdoanymore. Or why twitter makes me want to kill.

A bunch of other writers and I had no small measure of frustration this afternoon when we realised there was a hash tag on twitter called #stuffwomendont doanymore.
It was an exercise in frustration; please check out the drivel we got to see below, if you ever question if feminism is still needed your answer is there.
Eventually I had to stop the steam coming out my ears and the hurt I felt for the women who are stuck with assholes who write this stuff.
I had to remind myself of the saying I use when getting wound up about other people’s opinions...
“Does their opinion MATTER to ME?”
The short answer was NO.
The long answer was that as long as they are people who are teaching their Sons and Daughters that they have “their Place” in the world and should stay in it, or they are subjecting their partners to these narrow minded archaic values then YES.
Very much yes.
Because although one idiot in Middle America doesn’t personally impact on me, they do impact on the community around them.
That is why I implore you to quietly point out when someone is out of date, out of a safe place, or just plain old out of line.
Below the “negative section” there is a “positive section”.
Cudos to the Women (and men) who got on there and tried to turn it to a more positive note.
And thanks to the Men in my life who said “yes you can, you will and we will get out of your way while you do!!”
I love you all.

The Negatives...

@GimmyKisses: #thingswomendontdoanymore: Stay at home cookin & cleanin. Guys be forced to do it sometimes.

@ike3467: #thingswomendontdoanymore buy condoms

@RKingPan: RT @Jay_2_da_Shep: #thingswomendontdoanymore cook n clean without being asked

@Futuristic24: #thingswomendontdoanymore use their mind

@MKBabyyy: RT @DrChokolate: #ThingsWomenDontDoAnymore know how to cook. They only kno how to make noodles and hot pockets now :(

@theoneeupper: RT @BrainsEatBeauty: #ThingsWomenDontDoAnymore ➜ Value our bodies. Stop treating yourselves like a public water fountain & letting everyone take a sip.


@MissCeeBitches: #ThingsWomenDontDoAnymore Wear Jersey dresses ..... It's gonna be a great season for the Lakers #TeamLakers

@corleone843: be domestic, keep a good man, and not complain so much #thingswomendontdoanymore

@ayosGalore: #thingswomendontdoanymore chase guys. its the 21th century #cantbedoingthat

@ftwprez: #thingswomendontdoanymore give a fuck

@LadiSandraMaria: RT @SofysS: #thingswomendontdoanymore: love guys xD!

@vivalaria: RT @BrainsEatBeauty: #ThingsWomenDontDoAnymore ➜ Value our bodies. Stop treating yourselves like a public water fountain & letting everyone take a sip.

@Nonyizie: #thingswomendontdoanymore fall for cheap male tricks.... so sad...

@kwhitfield5: #thingswomendontdoanymore be honest.

@Fab44Me: RT @Fab44Me: #thingswomendontdoanymore Have respect for those of us who stay home to raise our kids and care for our men. Haters.

@JordanIgth: #thingswomendontdoanymore WEAR THERE OWN HAIR.

@HigherGreen: #ThingsWomenDontDoAnymore - cook dinner for they man because they too busy being LAME by watching BGC

Paramore_Rocks #thingswomendontdoanymore be more days girls are showing too much skin. What happened girls?

Other than the obviously bad spelling, grammer and thought behind the comments, how freaking scary was that???

The Positives.

phased_bemused Get legally raped within marriage, since 1991

LadyNewsNZ have to listen to rules about what women should and shouldn't do

BiscuitCIB have to listen to arbitrary and outdated ideals of femininity, gender performance, sexuality and bodily autonomy

@YoFace_MyLap: Why would we?
In response to...
RT @cassius_cash: #thingswomendontdoanymore allow a nigga to experience a ike and tina relationship wit em

@radioactivejen: make men sandwiches because we discovered it's degrading. That is, unless we REEEEEEALLY like them.

@Jay_Says_: The #thingswomendontdoanymore are mainly because of the #thingsmendontdoanymore...

@iStreetLight: #thingswomendontdoanymore: Wouldn't it be rather sexist/patriarchal of me to include ALL women into such a narrow group?

@PickledBananas4 The #thingswomendontdoanymore trend on twitter is about 95% misogynist whining and 5% interesting.

@scuba_nurse #thingswomendontdoanymore put up with BS expectations of what women 'should' do. Instead living fullfilling livesof their own.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Humanists show the catholics they are not the only ones with a marketing budget!

I’ve tried to write something myself, but I can’t find words better than WOOOHOOO!!
So here is the media brief from their website

Humanists Launch Largest National Advertising Campaign Critical of Religious Scripture

Washington, D.C., November 9, 2010
A national multimedia ad campaign – the largest, most extensive ever by a godless organization - launches today and will include a spot on NBC Dateline on Friday, November 12, as well as other television ads, that directly challenge biblical morality and fundamentalist Christianity. The campaign, sponsored by the American Humanist Association, also features ads in major national and regional newspapers and magazines demonstrating that secular humanist values are consistent with mainstream America and that fundamentalist religion has no right to claim the moral high ground.
The ads juxtapose notable humanist quotes with passages from religious texts, including the Old Testament, the New Testament and the Quran.
The ads then ask the audience to "Consider Humanism."
One example is the following pairing: The Bible: “A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent.” I Timothy 2 (New International Version)
Humanism:The rights of men and women should be equal and sacred—marriage should be a perfect partnership.” Robert G. Ingersoll, in a letter dated April 13, 1878.

Another pairing is: The Bible:The people of Samaria must bear their guilt, because they have rebelled against their God. They will fall by the sword; their little ones will be dashed to the ground, their pregnant women ripped open.” God, Hosea 13:16 (New International Version)
Humanism:I cannot imagine a God who rewards and punishes the objects of his creation, whose purposes are modeled after our own—a God, in short, who is but a reflection of human frailty.” Albert Einstein, column for The New York Times, Nov. 9, 1930.

To see images and videos of the ads and find more information about the campaign please visit:

"Humanist values are mainstream American values, and this campaign will help many people realize that they are already humanists and just did not know the term," said Roy Speckhardt, executive director of the American Humanist Association.
"Humanists believe in and value love, equality, peace, freedom and reason – values that are comparable to those of moderate and liberal religious people."
In addition to the television ad on NBC, ads will also be displayed on cable channels. Print ads will appear in major newspapers, including USA Today, the Seattle Times, the Village Voice, the Atlanta Journal Constitution, the Independent Triangle, and the San Francisco Chronicle, and magazines, including Reason and The Progressive. Ads will also appear on Metro trains in Washington, D.C., on billboards on I-95 near Philadelphia and in Moscow, Idaho, and on buses in select cities.
"We want to reach people in every corner of the U.S., from all walks of life, to raise the flag for humanists and show others that they have more in common with us than with biblical literalists," said Speckhardt.
"It's important that people recognize that a literal reading of religious texts is completely out of touch with mainstream America," Speckhardt added. "Although religious texts can teach good lessons, they also advocate fear, intolerance, hate and ignorance. It's time for all moderate people to stand up against conservative religion's claim on a moral monopoly."
All quotes from religious texts were checked by scripture scholars to ensure accuracy, context and proper translation.
The Stiefel Freethought Foundation was the primary sponsor of the Consider Humanism campaign with a $150,000 donation. Another $50,000 was raised from supporters of the American Humanist Association for the launch of this campaign, bringing the total ad buy to $200,000 so far.
The American Humanist Association advocates for the rights and viewpoints of humanists. Founded in 1941 and headquartered in Washington, D.C., its work is extended through over 140 local chapters and affiliates across America. Humanism is the idea that you can be good without a belief in God.

Who is questioning whom?

Last week over a glass of wine I was subtly (or not so subtly) insulted by a friend.
Her question?
Do you ever worry that people will perceive you badly once they know you are a Feminist?
My response was “are you worried that I will perceive you differently having heard you saying that?”
She looked baffled, and quickly changed the topic.

I work in an industry where if we stop selling our products we no longer have jobs, and perception is everything.
We recently did a seminar on branding. Not just branding our industry, workplace and product but also ourselves.
It made me think about my own personal brand, how I dress, communicate and express myself with both my colleagues and staff that I am teaching.
Part of this is my identity and how much of that I give away.

Deliberately I don’t give much away at all. My friends at work know I am living with my male partner, that I am interested in musical theatre, that I love the beach, belong to a gym, write for a “women’s interest blog” and that I had a car accident in the past.
My colleagues I don’t socialise with know I have a partner, used to be a nurse in the OR and am based in *******. Further out from there and I hope all they know about me is my work ethic and education/professional history.

My beliefs have very little part in my workplace.
In the same way that when I was a nurse I had to give good, empathetic care to drink drivers and child molesters; in business I have to be pleasant to red neck assholes and over privileged men.
All of this is much easier if they don’t KNOW I think they are assholes.

Information is power, and the less people know, the more they will assume that you agree with them while you smile and nod, and the more they will tell you- therefore the more power you have.

So actually, yes, I do worry that people will judge me by the labels I give myself.
So I try not to use them.
For example I use partner, not boyfriend because it is none of their business what level my relationship is at, or who it is with.
I don’t discuss my politics and unless I am seriously pushed I don’t identify my beliefs.

I found it interesting that disclosing that she was concerned about the image of feminism revealed more about her than it did me.
I now assume she may not stand up for herself, that she may not put her career first, that she is perhaps not particularly interested in fostering mentoring in medicine and business for young women.

Not fair assumptions.
Certainly not positive.

It is interesting how much we give away just by questioning someone else’s identity.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Tits and Teeth, or why perverts have a lower IQ.

There is a saying in show biz...
“Tits and Teeth ladies!”
Translation? Don’t forget to smile and stand straight.
For a very cheerful person with an 14 E-cup rack like me it’s not something I have to consciously try for, and quite often something I get judged on without even realising it has happened.
Hunting for work clothes involves keeping eyes open at all times for items that cover without looking like I’m wearing a mumu. If I do find something both flattering, that fits, and that covers the girls I buy two or more in different colours.
As long as I look tidy, and shoulders, cleavage and legs are covered I'm happy.

Last week I was away at a work conference.
There was a black tie gala night where I knew there would be a parade of wealthy women in designer outfits, and there was an expectation of high level dress.
I tried on every dress in NZ (or so it felt) and even tried making one in a bit of a last minute rush.
Eventually I grabbed a basic dress which I planned to wear a top under because the bust portion just didn’t provide enough coverage.
While in Melbourne I found a dress in my size just like I was hoping for. Black fabric with a hint of shine and a heavy weight to support a curvier figure it ended at just above the knee and was a V neck with wide straps. With a bust reducing bra, it was just within the boundary of sexy but not inappropriate.

I was going to include a photo here but honestly, having spent the night being “slut shamed” I cringe at every picture of me, and feel that typical kick of adrenaline and taste of vomit in my mouth.

The dress was supposed to be worn with a bust reducing bra which accidentally got left in Melbourne in my hotel room.

So on the night I panicked... what to do?
Wear the other dress with the t shirt under? No –what a waste of the new dress
Wear the new dress with a t shirt under? No. That’s going to look silly.
Wear the dress without a bra and risk breasts heading south, or worse north when I dance? Not a chance!

So I put on the most appropriate bra I could find and looked in HORROR at my image in the mirror.

I looked lovely.
Knock out lovely.

Attract too much attention lovely.

This neck line would have been frumpy on a C-cup but on an E my bust was under pressure and so formed two globes (not in season this year ladies – far better to have empty drooping bosoms with bony clavicle between.)
So the dress wasn’t low cut, but it sure did show off the area.

I gave myself a pep talk in the mirror about it being no worse than a strapless dress on a skinny girl. I reminded myself that there would be plenty of stunning necklines and I wouldn’t be the only one and even measured the distance between my nipple edge and the neckline above it to reassuring myself that the fabric came right up to a good height (12cm/5 inches to be precise).

I held my head high and walked out the door.
Within 3 minutes of arriving (after saying hello to my boss but before getting a drink) a male co-worker who works not only in a different office but a different country was posing in a hilarious fashion for photos staring at my tits.

Gosh that’s so funny. Nothing quite like having to laugh at some ass-hat’s idea of a joke, when you are actually feeling harassed.
I jokingly posed for another picture holding his head straight in front and laughed to diffuse what felt like one of the more awkward moments in my life.
After that it was comment, after comment, after comment.

“Great cleavage”
“Nice to know you can party with the best of them”
“You are letting your hair down.”
“Your tits are AMAZING.”
And of course the visual jokes, ogling, pretending to motorboat etc.
A few of the women made comments – none ‘bitchy’ to give them a bit of credit.
Great assets”
“I wish I had cleavage like that”
“Holy cow, you are going to have all the attention tonight”

The thing was, I stayed sober, was behaving myself and didn’t know half these people.

The country manager bless her; looked me up and down and said “That dress is gorgeous – I’d ask where you got it, but I wouldn’t look half as good on me”.
Flattering; but not about one specific part of my body.

I spent the night wishing I had a shrug or shawl, and eventually went and cut it up on the dance floor with the girls, rather than sitting and waiting for the next (what felt like) attack.

What amazed me was that another woman wore a dress that was literally down to her navel – one of those glamorous ones that have a split between the breasts.
Not one comment.
Other than the fact that her dress had less overall coverage the only main difference was that she was almost entirely flat chested.

So I wore something not hugely different to anyone else but because of my bust size (which I can't choose) I spent the night feeling like it was my fault if I attracted men like flies.
They couldn’t possibly help themselves from being creepy – they were “right there”.

Interestingly enough the most brilliant men and women in the room, the ones in the top of the company were pleasantness in itself and held long and interesting conversations without once mentioning or staring at my breasts.

It seems susceptibility to creepiness is linked with a low IQ.

If I was giving myself advice I would be yelling about the behaviour of my colleagues and giving me big hugs.
But from this perspective I just felt ashamed and embarrassed.

In fact, I still do.

I’ve been very careful to say I “felt like I was being harassed” not that I “was being harassed”, because I did, and do feel like I was to blame.
What is wrong with this picture?

Friday, October 22, 2010

Ghosts in the theatre.

My brain is fried. I'm exhausted all day then get a second wind around 10pm which means I don't sleep til 2am.
My shirt may well be on inside out. I smell of sugar free V, grease paint, sweat and dusty costumes and the bags under my eyes are pudgier than my eyelids.
I'm forgetting words. I haven't seen my Mum in a fortnight or called my Nan in a month.

It must be the end of show season.

I had planned to elaborate further but I cant be arsed.
IOU one decent post about this show once it is over.

Oh, one funny thing from backstage. The performers have gotten all overexcited, and every time something goes missing (and yes, that's common in the backstage shambles) they blame it on a theatre ghost.
Seeing as the last three things have been ladies undergarments (either costume or personal) I was starting to wonder if thief ghost had been a dirty old man in the past.

Their theory is that it is Freda Stark.
Are you kidding me?
For a start she died old and happy fairly in 1999.
For a second point she danced NAKED...
Why in FSM's name would she want a bra??

Turns out they didn't know who Freda was but knew she was a famous dancer in the Civic in the 30's.
They were stunned to find out that she was in the catagory of exotic and was also gay to top it off.

And they thought I was mean because I laughed at them.
I wouldn't laugh if the weren't so Stupid!!!!

Ok that was mean. Sorry.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Grieving a child - A new resource for families experiencing loss.

Note: the base details of this write up were taken from the details of an interview with the Bay of Plenty Times.

I want to thank Liz, primarily for writing this incredible book, and also for allowing me to write this, I hope this will help market the book and allow the community to know about this new resource.
Please pass the word around. As activists in various different women’s interest
groups we are ideally set to pass the word around.


It is not often that a book comes out, and I want to;
A) Get it NOW
B) Buy multiple copies for my friends.

Recently I got a wee note from a friend of mine who wanted to let people know that his sister has written a book.
The number of books I have read because I know the author, and then wished I had that couple of hours back...
This is different.

For a start it is a book written to help families cope with bereavement and the process of a stillbirth.
Liz Tamblyn has self-published 300 copies. She hopes the book will be a valuable tool for people working with children dealing with grief .

Secondly Liz is the author and it is written in first person perspective, but
not hers...
The book is called Baby Sam and is in the voice of Baby Sam’s big brother Jack, who was 4 when Sam was stillborn.
Liz wrote the story soon after Sam's death four years ago.
"A lot of it is Jack's words. I read it to him seven or eight times and he corrected the bits I got wrong."
There are not too many times in your life you remember minute to minute. The day you realise your child is gone is one of those moments.

Sam was six days overdue when a check-up discovered that he had died. Liz had felt him moving just the day before.
She knew about stillbirth through her cousin’s experience 14 years before her, and what she had seen in the media, but nothing can prepare you for this.
What Liz’s book does help with is the process after. Grief, the experience of mourning as a family unit and the ways of remembering a child lost.
“The book tells how the family celebrated Sam's life with a special dance at his funeral and by releasing red balloons. Jack and his younger sister Sally received presents from Sam and had a birthday cake with a train on it to mark his birthday.”

This really hit home for me; we celebrated my friend’s son’s 18th birthday a few years back though he died quite soon after his 4th. The first birthdays were filled with the weight of grief, raw and unhealed. In contrast his 18th Birthday was a picnic on the grass; we each laid flowers on his grave and had our own private moments with him before joining the group for what was definitely a celebration. A celebration of his life and his family’s since his loss.

No one grieves the same way, or uses the same coping mechanisms, and so any resource to help support a child through a healthy and natural process of loss is highly relevant.
The BOP times reported that this is the only book on baby loss from the sibling’s perspective, which Liz has kindly let me know is incorrect.
In her words...
“There is another book put out by Skylight NZ, SIDS Wellington and Sands Wellington called "What Happened to Baby" (Which I highly recommend!). It is generic and could be any baby, for any reason at any age or gestation. The text has been carefully designed to fit a wide range of bereavement situations, including miscarriage, stillbirth, cot death and accidental or natural deaths of an infant or toddler. Ours is the only TRUE and PERSONAL story I have found on the subject.”
Liz who is also mum to Harry and Sally, found writing the book was extremely healing and therapeutic.
"It's almost like his life has left a legacy of helping other people through their grief. It's like a new purpose in my life, which I would never have had. I'd rather have him if I had the choice but I have to find the good things."

Mrs Tamblyn is a committee member for Sands, a support group for “families grieving the loss of a baby no matter the gestation or age or reason for death. (Not just stillbirth and newborn death).”

The book was officially launched at a private function in Tauranga last week.

To buy Baby Sam, email or visit

Friday, October 8, 2010

My angry, angry, angry breasts.

There are two Facebook messages/ updates going around that are bugging all hell out of me.
The first is that girls and women are updating their profile with
“I like it...” then stating where they keep their handbag.
Consequently it looks a bit dirty when girls
“like it behind the couch”, or “like it behind the door”, or even better “like it wherever I can be bothered.”
Witty! I thought it was funny until I got the (let’s face it) Chain letter causing this...

“Last year women on facebook played a game to raise awareness of October Breast Cancer Month. They each posted what colour bra they were wearing on their status. The effect was so widespread that it made men wonder what it was about and eventually made it to the news - increasing the awareness of breast cancer. This year's game has to do with your handbag or purse, where we put our handbag the moment we get home for example "I like it on the couch", "I like it on the kitchen counter", "I like it on the dresser" you get the idea. Just put your answer as your status with nothing more than that and cut'n paste this message and forward to all your FB female friends to their inbox. The bra game made it to the news; let's see how powerful we women really are..!


*cough* Several questions...
How does this raise awareness of breast cancer?
There are no links to sites with education, no ability to book a mammogram, no info on when and where to get a mammogram, and when they become free...
There are no links to the cancer foundation, no information about how to donate, or donate time to become a collector for collection day.
And how does this make women feel or appear powerful?

In fact, is this what it appears to be? A chain letter no better than; “pass this on or little sally will die of syphilis and you will never get a boyfriend”?

I’m disappointed and angry that this is not only happening but being carried on by smart, caring women I know.

The second is this one.
“October is cancer month. In memory of every cancer patient, family member and friend who has lost their battle with cancer and in honour of those who continue to conquer it! Put this up for 1 hour if you love someone who has or had cancer.”

It’s like “post this as your facebook status if you hate having a cold, and love money.”
Well DUH. Except there is a highly emotional level to this making it in essence, emotional bribery.
Considering roughly 1/4 of New Zealanders will get some form of cancer in their life time, and one fifth of all cancer deaths in women is from breast cancer*, your hit rate is pretty good.

It cheapens what people are living through and dying with, and I object that because my status update has nothing to do with cancer somehow that implies that I don’t ‘care’.

I care deeply.

I care so deeply that I don’t talk about cancer frivolously.
I sure as hell don’t use it for spam, or to emotionally bribe people to update their status to match mine.
I care, so I talk about it person-to-person and make sure I can see someone’s eyes when I talk about cancer, so I can see where those boundaries’ of hurt and fear are that I don’t want to accidentally cross.
I care; so as new research and education comes out I pass it on to my loved ones.
I care, so I check my own breasts, and teach other women how to check theirs.

I care for more than ONE BLOODY HOUR on Facebook.

I’m sorry if you forwarded anything on, or feel this posting attacks something you did out of the kindness of your heart.
I understand that most people mean well, but try to understand why these messages are thoughtless in so many ways.

For information on breast cancer specifically visit the breast cancer foundation of New Zealand

Or their ‘Take action’ page, if you want to *gasp* do something.

or join them on Facebook.

Go to this site to see Janelle Aitken, a National Breast Health Educator take you through a concise breast health presentation; covering basic breast awareness, healthy lifestyle tips and busts some of the myths that are floating around about breast cancer.

Or for info on recovery exercises (I think this may even be free) go to the ywca.

*data from the 90's needs updated stats, sorry.

Some info for your interest...

Breast cancer is the most common cancer among New Zealand women, with more than 2500 new cases expected this year - also approximately 20 men will be diagnosed1.

More than 600 women will die from the disease this year - making it the leading cause of cancer-related death in females.

1 in 9 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer during their lifetime2.

90-95% of women who are diagnosed with breast cancer have no family history of the disease.

Getting older is the most common risk factor: over 70% of new cases are among women 50years and over.

Women of all ages, especially those over the age of 40 years, need to be ‘breast aware'.

In being ‘breast aware' women should:
· Know what is normal for them
· Know what changes to look and feel for
· Report changes without delay to their family doctor
· Attend mammography screening if appropriate for their age

Changes in the breast that may indicate cancer:
· A new lump or thickening
· A change in the breast shape or size
· Pain in the breast that is unusual
· Puckering or dimpling of the skin
· Any change in one nipple, such as:
- a turned-in (inverted) nipple
- a discharge that occurs without squeezing
· A rash or reddening of the skin that appears only on the breast.

Early detection of breast cancer increases a woman's chance of survival. Today, close to 85% of NZ women diagnosed with breast cancer will survive 5 years or more, and the death rate has decreased by nearly 24% between1995-2005.

New Zealand's free, nationwide breast screening programme, BreastScreen Aotearoa, checks women with no breast cancer symptoms - ‘well' women - for early breast cancer between 45-69 years of age with a screening mammogram every two years.

Screening mammograms do not stop the development of breast cancer, but do reduce the chance of dying from breast cancer by approximately 33%.

Thermography is ineffective as a breast cancer screening tool or breast cancer diagnostic tool.

Breast cancer occurs with equal frequency in Maori and Non-Maori women. However, Maori women are nearly twice as likely to die from the disease as non-Maori; one important reason for this is they are presenting with breast cancer at a later stage of disease. The reasons for their presenting late are complex, but are shown by the low rate of attendance by Maori women for screening mammograms.

Pacific women in NZ are 20% more likely to die of breast cancer than other NZ women.


1. Ministry of Health (2008). Cancer New Registrations and Deaths 2005, pp. 18-19. Wellington: MOH.

2. Ministry of Health/NZHIS/BSA (2007). Personal communication. Personal Communication: Bercinskas,
L (2007) and Childs, J.(2009)

3. The National Screening Unit, the Cancer Society of New Zealand and The New Zealand Breast Cancer
Foundation (2008, Oct). Position Statement on Breast Awareness.. Ministry of Health: Wellington.

4. Ministry of Health (2008). Cancer New Registrations and Deaths 2005, p.35 Wellington: MOH.

5. Ministry of Health/NZHIS (2006). Data is average for 1996-2000 mortality.

6. The National Screening Unit, the Cancer Society of New Zealand and The New Zealand Breast Cancer
Foundation (2005, Jan). Position Statement: The use of thermography as a breast screening or
diagnostic tool. Ministry of Health: Wellington.

7. Cancer Control Council of NZ (Nov 2008). Mapping Progress 11: Phase 1 of the Cancer Council
Strategy Action Plan 2005-2010. p. 32. Wellington: Cancer Control Council of NZ.

8. Ministry of Health/Breast Screen Aotearoa (2009). Retrieved from the internet on 11 March 2009

Remember - early detection saves breasts and lives

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Insights from a crappy Tuesday Part 1/2

He’s a nice guy really...

My second revelation from a crappy Tuesday:
My friends are not as nice as I thought, and there is a disturbing undercurrent of racism in my beautiful country.

I’m sick of being attacked for my opinions this week.
I’ve had person after person either insinuate, or out and out say to my face that I am “too PC”, “soft”, am “being petty”, getting involved in something that doesn’t affect me, am letting “negativity win by getting involved in arguments, and have got too much time on my hands due to me;

1) Openly showing my stance against a prominent media personality who has repeatedly denigrated his guests on the show and viewers based on their sex, appearance, race, income, sexuality and appearance.
2) Signing a petition with regards to the above
3) Joining a Face book group to show support for the appropriate and lawful dismissal of said “personality.”

First and foremost, none of those things took much time at all.
I work a full 8 hour day, and am volunteering for a community theatre job 5-6 shows a week in the evenings, so I’m not just sitting around waiting for something to get all up in arms about.
I’ve taken my precious time to make these statements because I care deeply and this behaviour concerns me greatly. Do not undermine me by implying that I’m somehow not leading a fulfilling life because I took the time to take a stand.

Secondly, I pride myself of being a rather positive person. Those who know me personally will attest to a rather sick sense of humour and a strong awareness of the power of positivity.
I’m more worried about my job review this week, a speech I have to give tomorrow and the fact I won’t be at the theatre tonight (did I train my replacement well enough?).
Being able to vent real frustration in an appropriate fashion to make positive change in a genuine outlet is wonderful, therapeutic, and totally functional.
Don’t tell me what I can and cannot handle.

Thirdly... what the hell is “Too P.C?”
I understand that being “P.C.” can go too far. Where is too far?
No derogatory or defamatory terms in court?
No derogatory or defamatory terms in parliament?
No derogatory or defamatory terms on the news?
No derogatory or defamatory terms on news based television?
No derogatory or defamatory terms on the radio?
No derogatory or defamatory terms by lecturers or teachers in schools and universities?
No derogatory or defamatory terms in workplaces?
No derogatory or defamatory terms in restaurants?
No derogatory or defamatory terms in your own home?

Where is your cut off?
Where is the cut off for what is “too PC”
Chances are they are the same place. It is an opinion based judgement.

Be very careful of using the terms “too PC “, or “PC gone mad”.

“Political correctness is one of the brilliant tools that the American Right developed in the mid-1980s, as part of its demolition of American liberalism. . . . What the sharpest thinkers on the American Right saw quickly was that by declaring war on the cultural manifestations of liberalism — by leveling the charge of "political correctness" against its exponents — they could discredit the whole political project”
Hutton W, “Words really are important, Mr Blunkett” The Observer, Sunday December 16, 2001

The only statement you are making is that you aren’t willing to actually debate the topic, just discredit my reasoning with a blanket statement that I can’t argue because there is no basis in fact, only opinion.

Insights from a crappy Tuesday Part 2/2

As for my awesome pettiness...
When did caring about racism become petty? What about equal rights for all people regardless of their colour, creed, sexuality, beliefs or appearance?
Ok that was not functional, or appropriate.

Again, petty is an opinion based judgement.
My Grandmother happily assumes that anyone Pacific island or Maori in the Hawkes Bay must be unemployed, and wouldn’t question that statement on national television.
My parents aren’t too concerned when people make comments about Asian drivers.
Both of these make me cringe and yet I have my own inappropriate judgements – I assume that if a white man has an Afrikaans accent he will be both sexist and racist.
This is both incorrect and totally inappropriate for us to talk about these views in a professional or large public forum.
Is it petty for someone to criticise us if we do?

Once you have these ingrained beliefs, with no factual basis what you do with them is important.
Would it cause me to discriminate?
Would I hire a South African?
Marry one?
Vote one into a parliamentary position?
Pay one less than I would a New Zealander?
Assume a judgement of guilty if I was on a jury?
Would I use my beliefs as an excuse to hurt, or harm someone emotionally or physically?

The importance of what our prominent figures are saying comes in here.
Because people are abusing and marginalising every day, and if someone is being devalued due to their sex, race, income, sexuality or appearance I do not want that behaviour being backed up by the mainstream media.

I am getting involved in this because it DOES involve me. I take great pride in living in a country with free speech, equal rights, and the first place in the western world to give women the vote.
These are things that we have earned due to people speaking up when it was hard to. Going against the grain and believing in a better reality.
Expecting more than what we already have is the path to better things.

Think about why you have or haven’t bothered to take a stand on something recently and think again about the accusations I’ve had levelled at me the last few days.
“Too PC”, “soft”, am “being petty”, getting involved in something that doesn’t affect me, letting “negativity win by getting involved in the arguments, and have got too much time on my hands.

These are the same accusations that were put to those people who got involved in the Civil rights movement in the USA.

And that was a cause worth fighting for.

community announcement.

A reminder thanks to Julie at the Handmirror...
Have you had experience with Child Support through inland revenue?

The Families Commission would like you to participate in a focus group exploring the proposed review of the child support scheme and what this would mean in practical terms and also any other changes that may be required for child support.

You will need to be available on the evening of Monday, 11th October 2010, and we are able to provide $30 per participant to help with child minding and transport costs.

Please register on 376 3227 or Please do not attend without registering - thanks!


I had a few scary insights yesterday.
For ease of reading they will be split into different posts.

Number one was when I rocked up to the “Fire Paul Henry” demonstration outside TVNZ yesterday.
I was confronted with a medium sized (there were more people reporting, than in the protest) group of men frothing at the mouth, and occasionally into their beards yelling aggressive slogans into loud-speakers.
Most of them were carrying placards; few of them were related to the actual cause.
They were socialist union protesters and the boards varied from focused comments on the topic “Fire Paul Henry Now!”
To bizarre mixes of other campaigns. “Unions unite NZ; Ban racism.”
The slogans being yelled were loud, enraged, and frankly a bit scary.
There was plenty of spit flying through the air as aggression rang strong.
I leaned against a lamp post beside the media and eavesdropped.

“Good god, it’s the same banners and nutters from the protest last month, they just stuck 'fire Paul Henry' at the bottom”.
“Where are the normal people?”
“Clearly its only people who do this shit for fun that are enjoying getting up in arms about it”.

I watched and counted for around 30 minutes.
Over THIRTY FIVE people arrived in the area, stood on the outskirts, looked sad and left.
Most of them were wearing NZ t Shirts (as I was) and I suspect had planned to join the protest.
That would have not only doubled the numbers but also given it some credibility with Jo Public.

I suspect, like me, that they had no intention of standing by and allowing PH get away with marginalising yet another group of people and were making the most of the sway of public opinion to make their point.

To arrive and find that what you had thought was a human rights protest had three people from a human rights organisation (thanks to Global Peace and Justice Auckland) and a loud majority of angry, red faced, purple nosed, politically motivated men.

I don’t mean to undermine what they were doing. Every protest needs someone with a loud voice and a solid chant, but it was just too much to cope with, and it came across as them getting their rocks off being angry about something (could have been anything?) and undermined the fact that the issue is one affecting a wide range of Kiwis, not just the usual campaigners.

I was too scared to go and stand in the group.
One- I’m not a biggy for blatant aggression and you could smell the testosterone coming off the man nearest to me.
Two – I had no intention of being photographed or filmed by the media under a “socialist NZ” banner. I don’t like to parade my politics, and certainly don’t want to parade someone else’s!!

So after thirty minutes I admitted I was a coward, and fled.
Dinner did not taste good and I suspect the bitter regret flavour in my mouth was impacting on the butter chicken.

In case you were wondering, the insight was...
Im a coward.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Part one in my series on Community theatre - THE TEAM


There are Five distinct groups of people backstage.

The Performers:
These can be identified by several distinct markings.
They are light of frame, nocturnal of nature, strong in grandiose gestures, and like most in the animal kingdom, the male is gaudier in decoration. They are the focal point of each theatre, yet most are unaware of how their surrounds actually work.
They form strong attachments on immediate contact yet will forget people’s names within 5 minutes of leaving them. Consistency is important in their support crew as they are prone to panic and flap at the slightest changes.

There are four categories; Singer –dancers, singer-actors, actor dancers, and actors with no other talent. The latter is the most rare as their careers are often culled in infancy.

The Directors/choreographers / production team:
Like most predators these species are designed for stealth, they speak in hushed voices in the corridors, using cunning to catch their prey and ensnare them in the production. They use the power of words and reputation to lure a team of unsuspecting artists into their trap. The stalk the wings, glaring at any who dare slight the production or hinder its course. It is not until a team is in the trap that they raise their voices and begin to take charge.

The Technical team:
The grubby underbelly of the theatre. They wear all black and fight to camouflage with the surrounds.
They are the working class of the theatre, arriving hours before the show, and the last to lock up.
If you want to know where something is, how something works, or when things are happening, find someone in full blacks.
If you need something – anything; they can find it, make it, or steal it for you.
If they feel like it.

“The artists” Hair and makeup:
Often flamboyant and even more often out of their depth; these staff are often brought in from other areas such as film and television, or hair and makeup study centres.
Like beautiful trained pets; they are willing to please and keen to try anything, they are the talent of the tech team, but need reassurance and clear communication to avoid startling them.
Their plumage tends to be outlandish and fantastic, and they constantly smoke.

The groupies:
These people tend to be previous members of the performer community but are no longer performing.
Unwilling to wear black or get dirty, and unskilled in direction or art forms they generally hang around with a clip board fulfilling the “bad-guy” side of the “good-guy-bad-guy” team of the key members (director, producer etc).
Not particularly useful, they do strike fear into the hearts of all, and are good for ensuring fees are paid, the dishes are done, and the cupboards are stocked.

As with any species there is overlap. Isn’t a Mule a combination of a donkey and a horse?

The Mules:
In small towns or community theatres, many of the team are mules and will combine aspects of different team members.
They are generally as stubborn and loud as their name sakes.
An example would be I, a mule with a background of performing, lighting, sound, props, painting, backstage crew and makeup experience.
I wear black, know where everything is, boss people around, are generally smug about my knowledge, can convert to bright clothes and grandiose gestures at the end of the season, or in mating season. I always have a torch, safety pins, hat pins, sticking plaster and duct tape on my belt and can be called on to belt a tune in the Pitt if needed.

I take great delight in winding up and loving every member in the above team and am grateful to call them my Stage family.
Thanks gang.
And Break A Leg!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Racial blindness... a disability?

My Mother has a story that she loves to tell.
When I was 11 and started at a new school I was describing my friend Katherine to her. She couldn’t remember the kid in question, although she had met her when she picked me up previously.

I went through the stats again.
“My height, straight black hair, round face but skinny body, no freckles, great at art, wore her school uniform too big” (her mum knew she was still growing too).
Then Mum came to school camp and I introduced them, and Mum remembered her.
“SEEEEE Mum, You DO know her!”
Because she did.

Later in life when I was at Uni, mum was telling this story to a friend of mine and I assumed the punch line was Mums terrible memory.

No, it was my colour blindness.
They key visible feature of Katherine was that she looked Korean.
My first thought was; “But how do you describe that?”
“High cheek bones, no eyelid fold, awesome ability to tan, but no desire to do so?”

I was a bit saddened by the story.

Mostly because I have changed. Describing Katherine today it would be “My Korean friend from intermediate school”*.
I assume this change is because I have learnt to recognise different races, and it is the easiest way to identify a person to someone else.

Partly because Mum obviously did see people in terms of race as a primary distinguishing feature, and that’s a bit disappointing I guess.

I’m also confused. Presumably I didn’t naturally mark people out by race but have learnt to do so.
However, my own mother couldn’t recognise Katherine by the features I gave her without the racial information.
So where did I come from?

It took me a few years to stop being sad that I lost that part of me.
I have realised that to be totally blind to race and culture would be as bad as judging people solely on their race or culture.
Two ends of the spectrum, neither ideal.
As well as not identifying her by race I was probably assuming that Katherine loved vegemite, and playing at the beach and climbing trees. Because that was what I liked!
Katherine liked reading, drawing, had a close relationship with the catholic church and loved Kimchi (an acquired taste). Our friendship was all the more wonderful for the differences.

To see and respect the differences so you can learn from them, but not make the assumption of what they are by how they look is the challenge.

When we are watching a film my partner often says
“Where is that actor/actress from?”

I always hate the question because - how do you know?
How do you judge?
Why do you judge?
I could base it off an accent or colour, or clothing choice, but mostly it is guess work.

Where I am from, and my racial origins’ are such a small part of who I am.
I would love people to get to know ME, and the oddities that make up the culture of me, rather than make assumptions based on how I appear.

Where are you from, what is your culture, and why are you like that??

* I have more than one friend who is Korean, but only two friends total from intermediate school, so the oddity is the friend part of the sentence, not the Korean part!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Sorry, your shit is not the shit on my agenda to give a shit about today...

I snapped at someone yesterday...

Before I knew it they had mentioned to several people that I’m a meany.*
This was in the real world.
In bloggy blog land, while in the same mood I tend to tolerate fools less and write sharper responses to dim-witted or off topic responses to discussion points.
Consequently I come across as a bit of a ‘meany’ there too.

Next time someone snaps at you, pause, breath, and consider the fact that it might not actually be about you.
Unless they came into your space and started bullying you deliberately, there is a really high chance that it isn’t. Take it on the chin, and remember you are only one segment of their life.
Try asking if they are ok...
Chances are they will have a big melt down and need a cup of tea and you can go about your business feeling smug instead of a victim of some Meany!

Someone very close to me criticised me a few weeks ago about not being “caring” enough over someone’s breakup. I had made all the right noises, and was genuinely sad about said break-up; however the person I was talking to wasn’t actually involved, and had winged about the tragedy for over 30 minutes.
I had listened and then eventually pointed out that if someone isn’t in love any more, you can’t MAKE them stay with someone.
They got quite cross with me, and said I was selfish and hung up.
At the time I’d had news about one friend’s cancer, and another who had been admitted to hospital for unexplained cardiac issues aged only in his early 30’s.
I myself am quite busy with a big (non-work, so on top of my working day) time commitment which I spend roughly 4-5 hours at 5-6 days per week.
So at the very minimum I’m just plain tired.
At the biggest, I’m thinking about mortality, frightened of loosing yet more friends.
For me stressors are like wind, and once you get a few big ones you can’t hear anything outside the tornado swirling around you.
So I’m sorry if I can’t pull the right faces in response to a breakup/stressful day/ hole in your costume.
I can’t hear you over the storm in my head.

In conclusion;
Selfishness is an accusation from the perspective of someone else, concerned that they are not the centre of your universe.
And who’s selfish?

*Meany may not have been the exact term used.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Date Rape - (It’s not what you think)

There are no triggers to follow.

I am fully anticipating receiving at least one angry message about making light of date rape, by misusing the term.
I wish to first explain I am striving in my life to prove that feminist is not a bad word or a derogatory term and I apply the label to myself with pride.
Part of that is appreciating the diversity that comes with any group of people, feminists included.
And I’m a feminist with a dark sense of humour. So like it, or leave.

My partner and I have gotten to that lovely stage in a relationship where we have to organise to be romantic; otherwise we tend to work on our own computers, occasionally discussing plans for the weekend and negotiating chores.
What usually happens is around Thursday we divvy up the things we have to do on the weekend (work, rehearsals, training), stuff we have to do that is fun (birthdays, dinners, shows etc), and the stuff we want to do without being told to!
A separate section of this process is the negotiation of “date nights”. These are special; we wash prior. We don’t read the paper, or books. We turn off our cell phones. We find something we both want to do, and try to play nicely.

Organisation has kind of gone down the tubes in our house, due to the Man working all hours, and me being at the theatre or training most nights of the week.
So we trudge through treacle all week and know that we will both be busy all day on the weekends.
And all of a sudden it’s Saturday night.

A few weeks back we had nothing planned by the time we got to Saturday night.
We had a shower, got some food, and saw a movie.
We were walking home hand in hand and I said
“What a lovely date.”
He looked stricken.
“This is a date?”
I thought about it...
“Well, we are both clean, and outside the house, there is no one else along, and we are being nice- so yeah, I think so.”

“But I haven’t put much effort in! I wasn’t trying! You ought to give me a warning before we go on a date so I can bring on the A game.”

I didn’t have the heart to tell him I hadn’t noticed.
“It’s ok, we had a nice night, it counts, go with it.”

He seemed genuinely concerned that I had tricked him into unwittingly having a lovely evening...


Turns out, he is smart enough to know that date night is important enough to me that if he didn’t play the game I would be upset.
And if he doesn’t know there are expectations for an evening he could miss them by accident.

Fair enough.

I took him on a date, he didn’t consent, he wasn’t trying, and he had no chance to consciously agree to dating me and having fun.

Is that date rape?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Not A Morning Person.

For quite some time there has been a war going on in our home.

It has creeps up on me throughout the week, and on the weekend the battle intensifies.

As a little background... I am NOT a morning person.
It’s not that I am unpleasant once I wake (I don’t think so anyway), or that I don’t like mornings.
It’s simply that I genuinely struggle to wake up, and stay awake.

Generally if I can stagger upright I’m good to go, but keeping my eyes open and remembering to breath deeper so I can stand is sometimes a bit of a problem.

This comes to the great amusement of my full-time bed buddy (I really must think of a proper name to call him on here).
He seems to find it great fun to try to wake me up, and is totally amazed by my capacity to have interactive conversations which I then have absolutely no recollection of once I actually wake up.

So far he has tried being bossy and trying to MAKE me get up, stealing the blankets, going on about how “lovely the day is”, leaving the curtains open, talking at me, cuddling, turning the radio on... Even made me breakfast in bed!
All to no avail.

The poor man loves to get up and go in the morning, and doesn’t have a whole lot of excess time to waste waiting around for me to get my ass into gear, so it must be frustrating.

This morning he learnt a new trick.

I was doing my usual hit snooze trick when he started chatting to me.
I obliged by pretending to listen and mumbled intermittently when he paused for a response.
He then left the room and went downstairs.

I heard his feet receding off into the distance and relaxed back into my pillow.

From downstairs I heard his voice loudly proclaim –

I went racing downstairs thinking there was hail outside, or something equally interesting to see.

He just finally figured my strongest motivator...

Not greed, or shame, or self will, or love for him;

Just sheer curiosity!!

Me 12, He 1
However I think the war was just won.