Friday, December 2, 2011

Coming off anti-depressants.

For the last three months I have been taking anti-depressants. This was a first for me, but they were needed, and perhaps may still be(we will see), but the usual trend for me is that as soon as NZ starts getting some good long days of light I come back to my usual self.
So I had a wee chat to my doctor and we talked through the process of weaning off.
One month on a half dose, then down to nothing. If the half dose isn’t working out, I promised to go back onto full dose and we will review the situation in another month.

With my depression, it is a slow slide into it. Usually it takes a myriad of different symptoms over a decent period of time before I will accept that there is a genuine problem rather than just life/PMS/general low mood/stress/work/death causing me problems.
Because of this, and the fact I usually resolve the depression with non-pharmaceutical options, I never really had a clear view of how violently different I am when I’m depressed.

This week was my first week with my dosage halved.
With that came a very obvious change. A distinct lack of interest in anything, a drop in concentration, I lied about traffic and lay in bed instead of going to hockey.  I sulked. I had to bully myself into going to work. Once at work I was panicky, and I lost my temper easily. I even used sarcasm (for evil, not good) and this voice came back.
If you had asked me, I would have said that I have never experienced voices.
But there is one.

She is me, and I am her, but my goodness she is a BITCH.

It isn’t really a ‘voice’ as such. It is the usual inner monologue, just amplified, and apparently pretty pissed off.  A bit like having an earphone in your ears, and having a constant stream of negative updates. Imagine nav-man without the helpful directions.
Instead of “Turn right in 200 metres” It was “you are late, it doesn’t matter how fast you drive your shitty car, they know you are lazy, they know you hate coming here, they are probably talking about you right now”.
I actually sat in my car outside the hospital and said audibly “stop stop STOP” to try to stop the flow. My own physical voice cut off the inner for long enough for me to get a more positive stream going.

But it was hard work. I came home on Thursday and went to bed at 5pm, I was quite literally exhausted.

So to anyone out there, with that voice taking over.  Take a break.
When confronted with the stark contrast of “normal me” and this, it is no wonder people with depression or mental illness sometimes reach the point of self-harm or suicide.
That inner voice is a big jerk.  It tells lies. Worse than that, it twists the truth to expose the brutal cruelty in the world that we usually ignore.
Take a break; you don’t have to do this alone. Get some TLC, listen to music, go for a walk, eat good food, have a cuddle, masturbate, meet with friends, keep up your sunlight hours.
It won’t stop it right away, but keep fighting.

Seek help, talk to professionals
If the professionals don’t make you feel safer or better, find a professional who is good at what they do.

But keep fighting.

Life without depression is amazing and wonderful. It is like the difference between a grainy black and white film, and the latest full colour 3D masterpiece.
It is worth fighting for.

All my love,

Monday, November 28, 2011

An Ironic Juxtaposition:

jux•ta•po•si•tion / [juhk-stuh-puh-zish-uh n]
an act or instance of placing close together or side by side, especially for comparison or contrast.

An Ironic Juxtaposition: Twilight Vs. White ribbon day.

Some people will say “ahhh I have heard this rant before”. Some people may be on the “huh?” side of things.

When I read the first twilight book I had shudders. I read the entire series because A) they were easy to read, and B) I wanted to see exactly how dysfunctional things got.
If twi-hards read my blog, at this point I’m sure you are thinking “What the HELL!! This is TRUE LOVE, look what they GO THROUGH TO BE TOGETHER!!!” (More than three exclamation marks to a fan is as glitter to the vamps)

Actually, true love means doing the best for your partner. In the example of the twilight characters it would be him never talking to her and walking the hell away, since at their age difference it is essentially paedophilia.

Having been in an abusive relationship I know exactly how romantic it is.
The massive ups and downs. Having them tell you that they are sorry, it is just that they love you SO MUCH. After I broke up with him it advanced to more fully fledged stalking, and abuse. Even then there were 17 year olds cooing about how romantic he was. WTF is romantic about someone following you, or sitting outside your house and just watching?

Seeing as 12 years hasnt improved anyone's comprehension of romance vs dysfunction, I am going to lay out the stark facts. These thanks to the Sophie Elliot Foundation (I found her case terrifyingly close to home).

Early signs of abuse in relationships

Power and control
Is obsessive. Tells you who you can see, what clothes to wear, how to have your hair or makeup. Often says, “If you love me you will …”

Wants to know where you going, who you are with, when you will be home, and so on. Displays stalking behaviours such as following you, accusing you of being unfaithful, flirting, and so on.

Isolates you
Stops you or makes it difficult for you to see your family or friends. Sulks or is moody when your family or friends are around, and makes you feel uncomfortable until they are gone.

Is abusive to you, or about your family, friends or pets. Indulges in name calling, and physical and emotional threats. Says things like, “I will leave you if …”, “I will hurt you if ….”. Nasty behaviour towards pets is a frequent early warning sign.

Suicide threats
Says things like:
“I need you.”
“You’re the only one who understands me.”
“I don’t know what I would do without you.”
“If you leave me I will hurt myself.”
“I need help; please help me.”

Changeable/volatile behaviour
Is erratic – nice one minute or day, and abusive and nasty the next. Blames you for his behaviour. “You make me react that way”, “if you did this, or didn’t do that I wouldn’t get so angry.” You feel like you are walking on egg shells and constantly “trying to make him happy.”

Is coercive, pressuring you to do things you don’t want to. Takes no responsibility for contraception, seeing it as “your problem”.

Physical abuse
Says he loves you but then physically abuses you, by hitting, punching, choking, or pushing. Often has a history of previous abuse.

Is haphazard and unreliable. Leaves you to do the contacting and keeps you dangling. You are left confused and don’t know what he wants. Doesn’t appear to be telling you the truth about what he is doing and says “it’s none of your business”. Makes you feel crazy, or jealous, or insecure when that is not how you usually feel.

So with the above in mind, have a go at the quiz below… and let me know if you still think Edward should be held up as the ultimate boyfriend.

Some Facts about Abusive Relationships thanks to Living without violence NZ, and other references.

One woman is killed by her partner or ex-partner in New Zealand every four weeks. Approximately half of all homicides in New Zealand are family violence related.

66% of women seeking Women’s Refuge help are 17-35 years old. In 2009, 26.1% of refuge clients were aged 16 – 25 years old. (New Zealand Women’s Refuge 2006, 2010)

One in three New Zealand women experience physical and/or sexual abuse at the hands of a partner during their lifetime.

25 per cent of those convicted of ‘male assaults female’ in 2006 were 15 – 24 years old, with 44% of all those convicted being under 29 years old. (Ministry of Justice, 2008)

In any one year, one woman in five will experience physical and/or sexual abuse at the hands of a partner.

15-24 year olds are the age group most at risk of physical, psychological and sexual victimisation from current and ex-partners. (New Zealand National Survey of Crime Victims, 2006)

One in five New Zealand men are subjected to violence by their partners.

One woman dies approximately every 26 days at the hand of her partner or former partner. We estimate that over 20 women have been murdered since Sophie in 2008. (Roundtable for Violence Against Women)

93 out of every 100 domestic violence cases in New Zealand are male assault female.

In 2009, nearly 75% of the 29 female murder victims were killed by offenders identified as a family member or partner. (Police Statistics on Culpable deaths in New Zealand, April 2010)

About 10 children are killed every year in New Zealand by a member or members of their own family.

Women’s Refuge receive a crisis call every 9 minutes. New Zealand police receive a domestic violence crisis call every 7 minutes. (Its Not Ok, 2010)

The annual cost of family violence in New Zealand is at least $1.2 billion.

37% of protection order applications and 25% of respondents are under 29 years old. (Family Court Statistics, 2007)

Family violence is a major problem in New Zealand but by reaching out for help all of us can begin to change the cycle of abuse and violence.

48 per cent of couples at age 21 years old reported having been involved in physical partner violence. (Dunedin Longitudinal Study, Moffitt and Caspi, 1999)

NB: Please note that the above stats and info relating to “Male” to “female” violence is due to the current white ribbon campaign. Abuse can occur in the reverse and cisgender men and women are not the only identity included within this data.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Want less crack in your flaps?

With all the oil and water, and Phil and John, and Rugby being done, we could all use a wee laugh.
I found this link today and had my first serious laughing out loud alone on the couch moment in forever!
Check this out for a fantastic waste of money.
I could write a feminist analysis of why this is a load of arse, but I cant see for the tears of laughter.
Someone else wanna take this one?

yours in awesomeness!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Your morality is in the way of my rights...

One of the key arguments that are being thrown at me about abortion is that it "isn’t just about me".
No, it isn’t. However I cannot think of anyone other than me who should have the decision making ability in this situation. The choice to carry, birth and raise an entire human IS MY CHOICE and it should not be illegal, or unsafe to terminate, if I should choose to, just because YOU don’t like it.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

It's not about the Cup.

RWC is over, and if you dont love Rugby there is probably something that gets you fizzing… Netball? Rodeo? Gymnastics? Chess? Debating? Philosophy? Theology?

Now I know that a large number of you will jerk your heads up at my putting the latter two in the same list as sports, but I have my reasons.
Philosophy and theology allow one or two things similar to debates and sports. You pick a side and you stand there, fighting for territory. I was watching university students debate philosophy and realised that the back and forth felt like a game. Internet arguments can evolve into downright blood sport when you add a couple of gods in there.

I love rugby.
Not because it is the best sport in the world or a sport which appeals especially to me.
I love Rugby because of a long line of my family have loved it.
I love rugby because the smell of home brew and the sound of a whistle bring back fond memories of curling up between my grandparents and being jolted awake by them shouting at the ref.
I love rugby because my entire country loves it, the media follows it closely, and the people who impact my life choose to talk about the game at work.
I love rugby because it is a socially acceptable reason to scream and yell and cry and rejoice with my friends and family.
I hung off the side of a balcony last night and let loose with what can only be described as a primal scream when we won the world cup. With that scream I released frustration at needing medication for my depression. I grieved that this will be the last world cup my Nan will see. I howled at the unfairness of my previous job.
And I screamed with joy that I was surrounded by people I loved; all celebrating a win that helped us to all feel the same thing at the same time.

Last night we could hear what felt like the entire city going bat-shit at the same time we were. We gloried in the fact that while we were anxious, so was everyone else.
I felt content knowing that I wasn’t alone, and win or lose, tomorrow I would be happy or disappointed together with others.

So to all those who dislike rugby and the culture it brings with it, I understand.
But you need to understand that it isn’t about the Prize, the cup, or even the game...

It’s about someone else understanding how I feel. About hugging strangers, and being part of something. Superficially it is about the fight/conflict. On a far deeper level it is about being a part of something bigger than ourselves.
And after the year NZ has had, we could use a little unity.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

First world problems...

This may seem to be a similar quality of issue as this is titled but I have a bit of a rant.
The number of people who work well within the sphere of leftwing, humanist, caring, respectful groups blogging and tweeting who continue to choose to use the phrase " white whines" astounds me.
Can they not see how shite it is to be continuing the trope that only white people are that shallow. Or that only white people have that level of privilege, or that only white people will read their twitter and appreciate that they appreciate their privilege and therefore it doesn't count.
I've made a couple of comments on twitter in the hope it would stop. (not that I have any sphere of influence but sometimes these things are picked up on. But it hasn't.
It's really pissing me off.
Here are some alternatives to 'white whine'
"1st world problems"
"important to me"
"small yet annoying"
"bee in my bonnet"
"yuppy angst"
"Acknowledging my privilege" (yes it may sound pompous but let's be honest about what we are doing here.)

So there ya go.
Short but sweet.
I've left you with a solution, not just the problem.

Off ya go.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Women's Choice 2011 - Suffrage eve debate follow up.

A review of the questions and answers.

On Thursday the 22nd of September the Women's Choice 2011 Suffrage Eve Debate took place in an Auckland university lecture theatre with a wonderful mix of over 100 attendees. A speech was given by Dr Judy McGregor, the EEO Commissioner, who did a wonderful job of chairing the evening.

The party reps were:
National - Dr Jackie Blue MP
Labour - Carol Beaumont MP
Greens - Catherine Delahunty MP
ACT - Kath McCabe
Mana - Sue Bradford

Three minute stump speeches from each party, were given followed by written questions from a variety of women's organisations, as follows.

NB: I was trying to scribe this with no skills in shorthand, and didn’t do the greatest job. (partly because some pages were smudged with tears of laughter from a very entertaining evening!)
My apologies for any mistakes. The below is paraphrasing of key points as I could catch them, and sometimes it was a bit of a challenge!! If I have missed something or made mistakes, please feel free to email me with changes and I will update this ASAP
I hope you enjoy this review.
Scuba Nurse.

Q From the Campus Feminist Collective
What are the parties doing to empower people who are struggling financially, such as single parents on the DPB, to attain qualifications that will allow them to support themselves and their families? An example of such a a measure would be the discontinued training incentive allowance.

Labour - Carol Beaumont MP
Support for life- long learning.
Does not agree with cuts to education for those over a certain age.
The access for older people in training needs to be reviewed.
Restore funding for the training incentive allowance.

Greens - Catherine Delahunty MP
This is an attack on beneficiaries, stop this.
Being a sole parent is doing a job twice and people should have enough money to live on and get training.
Raise the status and value of the parent and sole parent.

Mana - Sue Bradford
Mana is respectful of training.
Reinstate the training incentive allowance.
Lower tertiary fees
Lower student loans
Total overhaul of the benefits system is needed
Universal tax credits.

ACT - Kath McCabe
Why has the quality of education gone down? (Audience member called out “It hasn’t!”)
Funding is going to the wrong end: funding is being spent on student loans not the education providers.
Need to review student allowances
Close to the maori party on some points here.

National - Dr Jackie Blue MP
Values education as a liberator
Early childcare available for those who need to get back to school/ work. Especially in areas where attendance is low
Training incentive allowance Level Four National Qualifications Framework courses or above no longer applies.
Focusing on basic numeracy and literacy as a focus.
Student support as a priority.

Q From the Working women’s resource center.
What will your party do to improve the working situation of women who are forced into casual and/or contract work rather than proper employment and who don’t get sick pay, holiday pay, parental leave, professional development or job security.

Mana - Sue Bradford
Collective bargaining is essential.
Unions have been undermined by national.
Committed to do everything they can.
The right to strike returned to workers.

Labour - Carol Beaumont MP
This type of work is becoming prominent, and this is deliberate.
We need to increase rights to strengthen collective bargaining.
The reason women are concentrated in a precarious environment is because they have to seek flexibility to care for families.
Flexible working arrangements to help families would go a long way.

Greens - Catherine Delahunty MP
The root of the issues is contracts. They are very bad for women.
Monitoring of women’s work situations is needed.
Collective bargaining should be improved
Equal pay
Not being allowed to discuss contracts means that inequalities continue without question.
Used the example of warner brothers.

ACT - Kath McCabe
Not sure that people are *forced* into casual and contract work.
People choose their work places and plenty of people don’t get sick or holiday pay – they are self-employed.
Used the building industry, and low work levels for said builders as an example of the above.

National - Dr Jackie Blue MP
The 90 day trial is helping with this. Migrants and youth and parents are positively affected.
Most people who get jobs retain them, it is working well.
It gives women a chance

Q From the Women’s health action trust.
The government currently has an amending bill in the house which aims to relax the provisions of the 2008 employment relations (breaks, infant feeding, and other matters) amendment act which required employers to provide breaks and facilities (where reasonable and practicable) to support women to breast feed while employed.
What is your party’s position on this?

ACT - Kath McCabe
The key here is “where reasonable and practicable”. Few women are making the hard vocational choices.
Her company has just hired large numbers of international engineers because "New Zealanders won’t take the hard jobs".
Dirty, filthy industrial sites are not appropriate for breast feeding, and women wouldn’t want to feed there.

National - Dr Jackie Blue MP
Under current law, mothers have the right to ask, and the employer must respond in a timely fashion.
If not, action can be taken.

Mana - Sue Bradford
The mana party would not support any weakening of the current laws.

Greens - Catherine Delahunty MP
"If we are going to discuss dirty high paid jobs, what about parliament?"
One woman breast fed there.
When we talk about support and what is reasonable and practicable, it needs to be what is reasonable and practicable for the BABY not others.
The problem is workplace leaders who don’t have tits and want to make a profit.

Labour - Carol Beaumont MP
Thought amendment being referred to is about workers breaks, rather than specifically breast feeding breaks, but unsure.
Women have kids, and would like to breast feed. We need to support this.
Clean up the workplace and make it safe, for EVERYONE, including breastfeeding mothers.

Q From the YWCA
How will you recognise and address disadvantages faced by our Māori communities’ especially young Māori women?

Labour - Carol Beaumont MP
Recognises gender and ethnic issues.
Policies need to recognise different needs.
When you break down the wage gap beyond simply gender, into ethnicity the disparity for Maori and Pacific island women becomes even more graphic

Greens - Catherine Delahunty MP
“Honour the treaty, don’t call me sweety”
Women are discriminated against in the system.
Address the issues and listen to tangatawhenua to ask what THEY want rather than having policy makers who are removed from the issues telling them what to do.
Go to the Hapu and Iwi to consult.

Mana - Sue Bradford
This is a huge problem and the whole of Mana’s policies are focused in these areas.
Respect and self determination
Education gives women a place in the world.
People need wages to live on and should not be separated from their home communities because the system said they cannot return.
Empowerment is key.

National - Dr Jackie Blue MP
Referenced the whanau ora policy.
Additional money is needed for additional providers.
Money has been reprioritised for sexual health, teen pregnancy etc.
On the recent media interest in Sex ed, having viewed providers, they were professional and innovative, with accurate info.

ACT - Kath McCabe
"Jackie covered most of it."
Upset by the way young Māori women are characterised by this question.
I know highly regarded women from the Māori community, (gave examples of many high powered roles)
Successful Māori are not celebrated.

Our 36 year old abortion laws are medically outdated, what action would you like to take to reform the law?

ACT - Kath McCabe
Personally supports decriminalisation.
It will be a conscience vote, and my choice is that it should remain a personal choice.

National - Dr Jackie Blue MP
As a former GP she helped many women decide what to do, no one does it lightly, it is a difficult decision.
Supports it being in the health act
Abortion is the choice of a woman and her health provider.

Greens - Catherine Delahunty MP
There should be a review, there is currently no Green party consensus.
Personally believes it is a health issue, not a criminal one.
Working on a Green party agreement.

Labour - Carol Beaumont MP
Supports the women’s right to choose.
Safe abortions are currently available but she strongly supports change to the current law which only provides safe abortions to those who are having to work with an unwealdy system, having to lie about their mental health.
Community clamour is needed for this to be reviewed.
Keep pushing for change.

Mana - Sue Bradford
There is no party agreement but she is personally pro-choice.
There is more support needed for pre and post counselling as there is not enough support for women who make that choice and have to go through such a hard time.

Q From the National council of women’s Auckland branch
What is your party’s strategy to reduce increasing poverty in NZ and to close the ever widening gap between rich and poor?

Greens - Catherine Delahunty MP
Not with tax cuts for the top 13% or financial bail outs for Canterbury finance that is for sure.
Commitment is needed
Work on the welfare system
Increase minimum wage
Job creation and quality education

Labour - Carol Beaumont MP
This is of vital importance for a fairer society
The gap is growing, there are kids in poverty.
Need to lift minimum wage
Take GST off fruit and vegetables.
1st $5 earned should be tax free
More collective bargaining
Putting funds into research and development and increasing jobs.

Mana - Sue Bradford
Economic justice to lift the income of those at the bottom.
Tax free income threshold for those below the minimum wage
One off hardship benefit by Christmas, which Kevin Rudd did in Australia
Trust routs need to be tackled – the rich are hiding income.

National - Dr Jackie Blue MP
Getting those back to work who can work.
Off benefits and back to work
Lift wages and increase economy
Want to keep entrepreneurs and companies here in NZ – supporting businesses.

ACT - Kath McCabe
Recognise that welfare is not for the upper and middle class.
Gave an anecdote of a wealthy family receiving money from “working for families”
Target welfare to those who need it.
GSC2 conditions with trading partners which means difficulty exporting and employing
State is poor at picking winners
Incentivise and assist.

Q From Auckland women’s center.
Given that MMP has drastically improved women’s political representation in parliament, why doesn’t the national party support MMP?

National - Dr Jackie Blue MP
That is incorrect. National believes that the choice of voting systems is up to the voters and has chosen to leave the choice to them, without comment.

Q From the Auckland coalition for the safety of women and children.
Many of the changes and cuts that national have made in the last three years have impacted negatively on women and also made it more difficult for them to be safe from abuse.
What will your party do to improve women’s lives and provide more safety for women?

Scuba Nurse: Massive apologies, but my phone ran out of battery and lost this page of notes when it closed unexpectedly..
Does anyone have this?

Q From the Women’s network of NZEI Te Riu Roa
What policies will your party have to help maintain quality public education?

Labour - Carol Beaumont MP
A strong commitment to public education, the first four years of a child’s life are very important.
Critical of cuts to ECE
No one would tolerate high schools where 30% of staff are unqualified, why tolerate it in ECE?
Pro training incentive allowance.
Scrap national standards, replace with REAL standards.

ACT - Kath McCabe
Support the institutions not students for funding.
Sweden has an process initiated by the political left where funding was given to parents, not to the students; and funds were wasted less.
Improved quality of education and empowerment of parents.

Mana - Sue Bradford
All levels of the system need support
John Minto heavily involved in writing their work with this.
Abolish national standards.
Reject public/private partnerships in education.
Recognise Maori/ pacific island special needs. These are currently under recognised.
Update Te reo Maori

National - Dr Jackie Blue MP
National values education as a liberator.
1.4 billion is coming to ECE
They are targeting communities with low participation.
1/5 of youth are leaving school without basic education – this is not good enough.
Student loans should remain interest free, but there should be criteria.

Greens - Catherine Delahunty MP
Student loans system is flawed.
National standards are not needed.
When they went direct to the users (10-17 year olds) they didn’t want national standards, or particular types of education. They wanted quality relationships with their teachers.
Education needs to be relevant.
Racism should be addressed in schools
Centres are closing due to funding changes, so how can national claim no funding cuts?

Q From Feminist action.
Our justice system results in an abysmal conviction rate for sexual assault. How would your party address this problem?

Mana - Sue Bradford
A special taskforce for sexual assault was discussed for a long time. If Mana was part of the next government they would pick up on those recommendations and get New Zealand out of the dark ages.

National - Dr Jackie Blue MP
The victim levy has been a success with $50 paid by perpetrators of crimes going towards services for victims.
The minister of women’s affair’s interventions have informed policy development
ACC is providing 16 counselling sessions to those affected by assault.

Labour - Carol Beaumont MP
The taskforce needs to be fully picked up and acted on.
Improve court processes
The current government haven’t done much.
ACC has been a traumatising experience for those who had to fight for their right to support.
Long term comprehensive approach is needed.
A commission should be made up from the special taskforce for sexual assault and the task force for family violence.

ACT - Kath McCabe
One problem is the police themselves.
After the unfortunate actions of the past, a commission of enquiry has gone some way towards dealing with the issue, but people don’t want to go to the police for help when they have their own issues.
A female minister of police is a good step.
When the accused can cross examine the victim, the system is appalling.

Greens - Catherine Delahunty MP
Special victims task force good hearing from minister, but not on the ground level.
After the recent incident with a comedian there is no faith in the system and people are having to think seriously about whether they want to put themselves or their children through this horrific system.
Simon Power has other ideas
Need a cross party consensus.

Q From the Tertiary Education Union’s women’s sector
The literature is clear that high quality early childhood education has significant beneficial benefits for those children and society as a whole. The funding for ECE however has been savages under National/ACT.
Will your party increase funding in this area, particularly in low socioeconomic areas where the impact of provision of high quality ECE would make the most impact?

National - Dr Jackie Blue MP
It wasn’t savaged.
This funding is the most the ECE has ever had.
Focus has been largely on areas with lower participation.
3500 new ECE places.

Mana - Sue Bradford
Mana has strong policy in this area and is passionate about increased funding for ECE and education led groups.
No public funding for profit led early childhood education.
Increase the provision of support for struggling areas.
Have ECE promote the link with schools in the same area.
Review and refocus on te reo Maori.
An annual audit on Te reo Maori providers is needed to keep a level of quality.

ACT - Kath McCabe
Don’t impose the governments will on the decision of parents to choose education providers
Struggling family’s need support and second income, and ECE supports both parents working.

Labour - Carol Beaumont MP
There is a big announcement coming, and so cannot speak too much on this.
20 hours free.
It is not true that there haven’t been cuts
Facilities with 100% qualified staff are being penalised under current funding.
Ensure that all children have the best possible start.

Greens - Catherine Delahunty MP
There is a profit industry of baby barns.
Mothers are being forced back out to work, and this is not a victory for feminism.
80% of Maori and Pacific Island are just applying to the nearest provider rather than choosing. The market is deciding, rather than it being parent driven.
Not good enough.

Q From the Service and Food workers union. Nga ringa tota women’s sector.
Pay equity is not about individual women negotiating a better deal for themselves but about whole groups of workers who are paid less simply because most of those doing their work are women. It’s about valuing the work women often do, like caring for our most vulnerable citizens.
What specific actions would your party put in place, should you be in government and in a position to implement these, to lift the wages of caregivers and other mainly women workers like cleaners?

ACT - Kath McCabe“I am going to rephrase the question.”
Met a Russian surgeon who said that in Russia the majority of surgeons are female, and truck drivers are male. Surgeons ended up lower paid than truck drivers because women’s work is not valued, no matter what it is.
This is a perception problem.
Adult rate for youth means less jobs for youth.
The issue is 2/3 the recession.

Labour - Carol Beaumont MP
Increase minimum wage.
Narrow the gap.
Promote equality in the workplace.
We need roles traditionally seen as women’s work valued. If women take “men’s” jobs to try to increase income, who will be the caregivers?

National - Dr Jackie Blue MP
Lift all wages.
Hard times, national policy is needed to strengthen national industry.
Boost the economy, support businesses and increase education and skills training.
Pay gender gap is because women are in low paid roles
The Gender pay gap is at 10.6% which is the lowest it has ever been.

Greens - Catherine Delahunty MP
The statistics mentioned by Jackie can be read in so many different ways.
Structural help is needed. Bring back recommendations and actually implement them.
Test wages.
A structural commitment should be given.
Pansy Wong says women need to talk about rugby and be a plumber, but women and their work should be valued in their own right.

Mana - Sue Bradford
The incident with Alasdair Thompson exposed how employers think.
We need to lift wages now!
Workers in sectors that are undervalued need support, they are “invisibilised”.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

4) Raising my hand for help.

Raising my hand for help. Written 1/8/11

I have four pages of scattered disjointed writing in my “latest blog” file in word.
It is all about my struggle with depression over the last few months.
I realised today when I sat down to start writing again properly that none of that was ever finalised and put into this blog.
So for all the people out there with depression, and for those who love people with depression; these posts are for you.
As the week progresses, more posts will go up, and they will be numbered, from earliest (furthest in the past) to most recent to make it easier to keep track.
I hope that they help you see light and hope, and possibility. Because even if it can’t be seen now, it is there, and you WILL find it. You just have to stick it out today. Tomorrow will come.

My depression has been hideous this year, so I went to the doctor today.
When the doctor asked me if I had been having suicidal thoughts I just looked at her and said “I can’t be bothered.”
That shocked me.
As soon as the words were out of my mouth I started back and stared at her.
“I think I need help, I can’t keep fighting this alone.” I said, and burst into (what was probably the 10th lot that day) tears.
I had expected her to question why I hadn’t been exercising, getting sun, getting sleep, eating well, keeping up with socialisation etc etc etc.
She didn’t.
When I raised it (hyperventilating as I listed the ways I had let myself down) she stopped me.
“If you haven’t been doing it, there is a reason; and you won’t start now you are this far along.”
Up until that point I felt like I was drowning. The cold water was making me shake and panic. I couldn’t breathe.
I was terrified.
I was so frightened that if I let go of tightly clutching myself and raised my hand above my head that I would sink completely under the water, and no one would ever find me.
The doctor’s sympathetic eyes and reassurance that I could do this made me realise that I could get help. A weight lifted off my shoulders. I wasn’t a failure. One winter of struggling in nearly TEN YEARS of maintaining a positive mental health with S.A.D. was a fucking victory.
And there are drugs, and professionals, and loving people just waiting for me to signal that they can step in and help.
It’s ok to raise my hand.

3) Frozen.

Frozen, written last week of July 2011

I have four pages of scattered disjointed writing in my “latest blog” file in word.
It is all about my struggle with depression over the last few months.
I realised today when I sat down to start writing again properly that none of that was ever finalised and put into this blog.
So for all the people out there with depression, and for those who love people with depression; these posts are for you.
As the week progresses, more posts will go up, and they will be numbered, from earliest (furthest in the past) to most recent to make it easier to keep track.
I hope that they help you see light and hope, and possibility. Because even if it can’t be seen now, it is there, and you WILL find it. You just have to stick it out today. Tomorrow will come.

Right now I feel frozen.
When depression has really set in, it is more like a grey fog than the traditional “black dog” for me.
I can’t find my way, and without a view, the point of moving forward is taken away.
Despite what feels like paralysing indifference to life, the universe and everything I am taking steps.
I’m seeing my doctor next week.
Resigning my job the week after.
Stopping internet contact, twitter, sad shit and trouble that makes me breath super heavy.
Right now that covers anything from making big decisions to watching poignant nappy ads, so this could be a bit challenging.
So I won’t be around on line, writing for the next little while.
I’m barely there in my real world at present.
Breathing is hard and waking is painful.
That blissful feeling of managing to drift off to sleep and the heavy weight in my heart that greets me each morning makes consciousness such a struggle right now, but I can and will fight this fucker.
See ya’ll on the other side.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

2) The anatomy of a panic attack

I have four pages of scattered disjointed writing in my “latest blog” file in word.
It is all about my struggle with depression over the last few months.
I realised today when I sat down to start writing again properly that none of that was ever finalised and put into this blog.
So for all the people out there with depression, and for those who love people with depression; these posts are for you.
As the week progresses, more posts will go up, and they will be numbered, from earliest (furthest in the past) to most recent to make it easier to keep track.
I hope that they help you see light and hope, and possibility. Because even if it can’t be seen now, it is there, and you WILL find it. You just have to stick it out today. Tomorrow will come.

I’m in a small room, waiting for the people I’m supposed to be meeting.
I started thinking about the things I need to get done, the stuff I haven’t got done. The things people are expecting from me and how I will disappoint them this week.
What a terrible partner I am to be so focused on my work.
My grandmother hasn’t seen me in ages and she is going downhill fast.
My friends seem distant – I need to see them more, but I’m so TIRED.
I flash rapidly between guilt and resentment. Nothing I am doing makes things better, I will never be good enough, I need MY space MY time.
Was this room so hot before?
Jesus, the room is so fucking small.
I can’t seem to get on top of things. Such a loser. Perhaps I should give up.
Gah, I can’t follow through on things. People will call me a quitter.
Even if they don’t, I will know.
Why am I so sweaty?
I can’t breath.
They should be arriving any minute now. I need to think about the work I’m about to present.
Keep calm, be professional. Shit I’m sweating.
Now I will have marks on my blouse and they will KNOW I’m not calm.
They will realise I can’t cope. They will know I’m not good enough, old enough, experienced enough.
Just not enough.
Why can’t I fucking breath?
My chest hurts.
I need air.
Don’t these windows open?
I can’t. I can’t do this. I can’t.
Weak weak weak weak. I can’t breathe, I can’t talk.

I can’t cope.

Sent out a message on Twitter.
Terrible jokes and messages of support allow me to step out of the vortex and think outside my own head for long enough to loosen the bands tensioning around my chest.
I get the job done and head to my hotel room to collapse in bed.
The next day I get up and it starts again, but today, you were my saviours.
I owe you my professionalism, my image, my mental health and my greatest thanks.

People who step up to an “I’m not ok” message do more than they ever realise.
Follow these people, they are awesome… and I send all my love and blessings to

With a very special mention to @StarrLitLove who not only responds to cries for help but oozes her fabulous positivity all over the internet at Courage Hope Strength.
I go there most mornings to start my day with a positive note.

1) Support in mental health

1) Support in mental health. Written June 2011

NOTE: I have four pages of scattered disjointed writing in my “latest blog” file in word.
It is all about my struggle with depression over the last few months.
I realised today when I sat down to start writing again properly that none of that was ever finalised and put into this blog.
So for all the people out there with depression, and for those who love people with depression these posts are for you.
As the week progresses, more posts will go up, and they will be numbered, from earliest (furthest in the past) to most recent to make it easier to keep track.
I hope that they help you see light and hope, and possibility. Because even if it can’t be seen now, it is there, and you WILL find it. You just have to stick it out today. Tomorrow will come.

I am what I would describe as a “maintenance phase” with my depression.
Every winter I get lower in mood, and every few years when all the shit collides at the same time, my ability to keep it at a “controllable level” is lost.
This has been one of those years, and this is the first winter with severe depression AND blogging.
To keep things functional and interesting and still blog about things I really care about has been a challenge.
On one hand, I haven’t blogged regularly, so I’ve sort of failed.
On the other hand, I haven’t lowered my standards, gone off the rails, or allowed topics to overwhelm me or my life.

I’m going to call it a win at this point.

Also on the winning side of the coin... My partner who has also experienced depression has the most wonderful gift.
Every time he looks at me he sees ME.
Me with a cold sometimes.
Me with PMS sometimes.
And at the moment, me with depression.
But always the primary focus is me.
That alone will make this winter a million times easier. One of the biggest challenges for me when I am struggling with depression is that the voice in my head isn’t really mine anymore and I sort of fail to see myself.
If I can see even the tiniest glimpse of who I REALLY am, even if it is just in his eyes, I won’t forget her, and I won’t give up.
Because I’m worth fighting for.
As are you.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The stuff they don't show you in medical shows.

I’ve recently returned to nursing, if you are squeamish don’t read this one!

Stuff they don’t show you on the TV medical programmes.

As a person who works in the OR it is almost impossible to have a cup of tea without also having a wee straight after.
Working with long surgery a LOT I got into the habit of going to the bathroom on any and all breaks I got, because you never know when the next one will be. Fluid balance must be maintained at all times so that in the worst case scenario, you won’t need to un-scrub to dash to the loo.
On that note, specialist OR nurses and doctors have ALL seriously contemplated secretly catheterising themselves to avoid the shame of being the first one to crack when you are at the table all day!

We listen to music while we cut you up.
One of my surgeons loved Jack Johnson, an anaesthetist has a large collection of humorous music for operating time.
Arguments are had over radio station, volume and whether to have it at all.
8-12 hours stuck in a room with the same people and a machine that goes *bing* every day would be CRAP without music, so please don’t worry that your team is unprofessional if the radio is playing when you are wheeled in.

You probably know from the TV that we fight over the “cool” cases, but did you know we play paper scissors rock to avoid the cranky surgeons?
If you are a surgeon and you have a constantly rotating team, it’s because you are a jerk and we are trying to avoid you. Bring a cake, and stop being an asshole.

We still get grossed out.
I can be up to my elbows in someone’s bowel for a case, and afterwards flinch when the tube is taken out and there is a wee bit of mucus at the end. We are people too, and have stuff that we don’t like. Generally as a team we are open about stuff we don’t like and negotiate to swap for the stuff we don’t mind.

We have a life.
We look forward to leaving work as much as an accountant or receptionist. We love what we do, but for most of us, it isn’t our whole lives. Friday is still Friday and don’t love a Monday morning any more than you do.

As a scrub nurse you will eat roughly 1 litre of snot each winter.
It is something people don’t think about, but when you have a cold in the office next time, count how many times you blow your nose. Now imagine that you have a mask over your nose and mouth and can’t touch it for roughly 2-3 hours at a time.
Yes; each and every person you know who works in an operating room knows EXACTLY what snot tastes like, and has ploughed on working regardless.
And you thought the SAS was badass.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The gift of Scruff.

I went to a shopping mall today to grab some birthday presents and do some chores.
While I was there I passed a stand designed to promote some kind of fancy-pants-hair-straightening-miracle- treatment-thingameebob. As I passed, looking completely disinterested and focused on something else, the two women working the stand went BANNANAS.
It was like a kid seeing candy in the checkout isle.
Like a girl spotting her crush.
Like a rugby fan in 2000 seeing Jonah Lomu.
Like a sceptic seeing a crack in someone’s iridology theory.
If my startled reaction hadn’t been to leap backwards, eyes wide and alarmed looking, I’m pretty sure they would have had me on the seat and being wrangled with the fancy-pants-hair-straightening-miracle- treatment-thingameebob in an instant.
As it was, they kept a bit of distance but began hollering at me (at the same time).
“Oh my god your hair is Amaaaaaaaaaaaaaaazing.”
“you would looooooove this product.”
“The curls are soooooooooooooo awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwsome”
“Do you love to straighten?”
“We can heeeeelp yoooooooooooooooooou.”

I vanished as fast as I could, trying very hard not to laugh.

One of the things I like very much with my curls is that I can deliberately appear homeless. If I don’t put product in it, it takes on a life of its own and develops a protective radius around me which strangers avoid.

I suspect they saw the hair and assumed no one would DELIBERATELY do that to themselves, and assumed they could save me from my ignorance.

Ha, I pity the fools.
The maintainance of hair that can look wayward and terrifying for doing chores, then look fab for tapas with my best friend tonight is ENTIRELY deliberate, and I feel sorry for you, only using your hair for good, not evil.

Embrace your inner anti-social hair, and enjoy the benefits you shall reap.
Shorter queues
Less annoying shop keeper questions.
No small talk (people assume you are having a REALLY bad day, and don’t ask)
People you know pretend they never saw you (see above)
Staff will help you efficiently without silly banter.
Clothing shop staff automatically direct you to the sales racks.

Brilliant. Have fun!

On an associated note, I went to go and put on make-up last night and couldn’t find my mascara or key pieces anywhere.
I found them in my work bag which I haven’t opened since I left almost three weeks ago.
No make-up in three weeks, and I didn’t even notice. I’m going to call it effective minimising of annoying chores while on holiday.

Mum raised a good daughter.

Life is one big scrapbook.

Righto, you may have noticed Ive been missing for a while.
No apologies, no explanation.
I hope you enjoyed the peace while it lasted!

I have had a fair bit of time on my hands recently, due to resigning my job and refusing to do any work until my headspace is better.
So I’ve been cleaning, cooking, catching up with friends, and doing stuff I’ve wanted to do in ages like go to the library, and catch up on organising my photos into scrapbooks.
The man pointed out the other night that there is a sort of irony that scrapbooking is considered a “girly” hobby.
Because “girly girls” are supposed to love pony’s…
And scrapbooking uses a SHITLOAD of glue.

…You do the math.

Just another reason for me to love scrapbooking as far as I’m concerned.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Speaking out about “yucky feelings”.

I was in my late 20s.
I was articulate.
I had the support of my parents as an equal.
My mother and I have a strong bond of trust.
And it STILL took me two days to say “hey, does X hold you too long when you hug?”
It took me two days to figure out how to verbalise it and get up the courage to say something about this lovely man whom we all respect.
It took me two days to figure out if saying something was worse than not saying something.

And I was strong and powerful and knew my boundaries and legalities and moralities and all the players involved.

The sense of relief when Mum said “yes, and you don’t have to hug him if you don’t want to” was palpable.
Not just from me, but from everyone involved in the conversation.
Because we had all been a bit worried, and no one had said anything.
It is strange to think that even as an adult I needed reassurance that if I didnt want to hug someone I didnt have to.

It made me think again about how hard it must be for adults or children who are not in a position of power or trust. Such as those who are in care for mental health or disabilities, or children, who’s’ voices are not heard as clearly because of their age.

Speaking out is HARD. You risk someone else’s reputation as well as your own.
You risk hurting others.
You risk being ignored and not being able to raise it later.

Next time someone's kid doesnt want to give you a hug or a kiss, dont let the parents tell them to do it. Let them raise their own boundries - because how else will they feel confident enough to say no when they need to, if they dont practice on safe people??

So I just want to say it again.
Because some people who read here are adults. Some are young. Some are people who look after vulnerable/young people.

If you don’t like it, it’s NOT ok.
And the response to “does X make you feel uncomfortable/ touch you funny / hold you too long / creep you out” should always be to supportively listen to the person raising concern, and allow them to choose their own boundaries.

Because we have them for a reason.
And that is ALWAYS ok.

Vegetarian death threats.

I came downstairs this morning to find a car windscreen that looked much like this but with more coverage...

I walked around the car to ensure that the red was contained only to the glass area and realised that the red splatter must have been done deliberately.

On initial notice it freaked me out, it isn’t every day my car looks like it has been in a hit and run with a feather free bird.
What was this creepy splatter?
Who had put it there?

Being a standard woman I immediately started finding reasons I might have “asked for it” (when will I grow out of that).
We are quiet neighbours, we never complain; always put rubbish in the bin...
I haven’t angered any of the local streetwalkers or glue sniffers (it’s a good neighbourhood).
Perhaps someone harbouring a grudge was trying to get a point across.
A scary death threat?

I went to inspect the red stuff, and in true nursing fashion went straight in with my finger then sniffed it.
You expected me to be more careful?
Do you think mobsters fuck around with DNA analysis?
Nope, it’s the old “touch, sniff and lick” test.
If it doesn’t seem dodgy you keep progressing until you figure it out.

Don’t sweat ladies and gentlemen – it was tomato sauce.

Why on EARTH would there be tomato sauce on my windshield?

I’ve decided that some local hipster vegetarians are sick of me coming home with burgers for dinner and have decided to scare me into submission.
Fuck you vegetarians, I’m having steak tonight!!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Auckland Slutwalk - thanks!

I am in a bit late to weigh in, but wanted to post these and say thanks to all those who were there.

Thanks to the women in fishnets and great jokes.

Thanks to Julie and her kids for offering a great distraction from tension just when I needed it.

Thanks to those who came and said ‘Hi’.

Thanks to my man who stood by me and held placcards, and babies, and my hand. You were afraid you would not be welcome, and your presence there meant so much to me.

Thanks to the police who escorted us with a smile and were patient when the short legs and complicated stroller had us lagging behind.

Thanks to the strangers who took the time to ask why we were marching, and then joined us.

Thanks to those who stood and stared and made nasty comments on twitter – opps no, sorry that was just one asshole who works in NZ radio. Forget him, he isn’t worth the time.

And because I don’t want to end on a negative, thanks to EVERYONE who showed up, you are brave, and awesome, and stood for something, and meant everything to me and to everyone else who showed up afraid they would be standing alone.
Enjoy the piccys.

Friday, June 24, 2011

An open letter to the NZ media about Slutwalk.

Dear NZ media.
I will be attending tomorrow’s “slutwalk” and I am so scared I am seriously considering not going.
I am scared that you will film me, and then use my image to misinterpret what is happening and why I am there.
I am scared that it will affect my job.
I am scared my boyfriend and I’s friends and family will think less of us.
I am scared that people who do rape and assault women will see me, and that will make me more of a target than simply being a young woman already does.
This march is TERRIFYING on so many levels.

But I will be there because I want to raise kids in a country where they do not have to drop rape charges just because they have had sex in the past, and their dating history is visible online.
I want to raise my kids in a country where the first question the police ask is “are you ok?” not “did you fight back?”
I want to hear that my kids can talk about their experiences of assault without the event being a mark on THIER reputation.
I want victim blaming to STOP NOW.

So let’s start with you shall we?
Here is how we will start.

Use our full quotes, don’t cherry pick my words to portray me as anything other than as how I present myself. My mother, great uncle, boss and friends will be watching the news.

Please accept that 99.99% of the attendees are not ACTUALLY marching for their right to wear a short skirt. We can already do that, as noted in all the judgemental footage of the viaduct that you use when covering the drinking culture in NZ.

Please do not only use footage of those dressed provocatively to cover the march – show footage of the wide range of men and women attending.

Please don’t show footage of us crying and call us victims. We are survivors.

Please don’t use footage of us shouting and make assumptions about why we are angry, or whether we should be.

Try for once to actually RESEARCH what we are marching about rather than just guessing by looking at us.

Make it very clear that we are not angry at one ignorance Canadian policeman.
Here are some nice quotes from rape crisis that you can use.

We are angry that we get judged for what we wear even though only 3% of offenders in NZ are actually strangers.

We are angry that people still feel comfortable saying someone is “rape bait” or “asking for it” because of what they wear or how they behave, when we would NEVER make the assumption that someone is a prospective rapist just because they have had a few drinks. What is the difference in judgement?

We are angry that the media spends very little time identifying that it is ok to set boundaries - even with people you love, and lots of time on what we wear when the majority of our offenders are blood relatives (30%) or a friend/acquaintance (30%) of the survivor.

We are angry that you waste time discussing where rape occurred as though we can prevent it by avoiding dark places. Those dark alleyways are in the minority of cases. Most rapes occur IN OUR OWN HOMES (61% of reports)

We are angry that you continue with thoughtless reporting, which adds to an environment where we feel so unsafe about this culture of blame that we DONT REPORT.
(56% were not reported to the Police)

Thank you for your time, I will see you tomorrow.
Kind regards,

Monday, June 20, 2011

Topp Twins in Toronto

This summer I had the opportunity to see the Top Twins live at Womad.
Their music set was fabulous and had me and all the rest of the crowd laughing, singing along and kicking up our heels to the great music.
But what I really enjoyed was ‘Ken and Ken’,
They did an hour long show on the food stage and their fabulous warm hearted characterization of the typical kiwi bloke was so neat to see live.
My partner had heard me rant about their political awareness work for nuclear-free New Zealand, the bastion point protests, and gay rights. I had tried to explain how most kiwis knew these twins who were gay, and they felt like family.
In essence, anyone with a TV could be educated out of fear of the “otherness” of gay people, by the sheer goodwill and approachability of these women.
I think I told him; “If you don’t love them, there is something missing in your chest cavity.”

He loved them.

After their food show I hovered by the stage hoping just to say hello and get a pic with either Jools or Linda. I was pleasantly surprised that when I approached Linda and she took the time to step away and grab Jules so they could both be in the picture.
I’ve met Zach Braff, Mandy More, Jon Cryer and a bunch of other celebrities and I’ve never felt out of depth.
With the twins I only just managed to stutter out an awkward blushing “I love you both – you are AMAZING” before they saved me from idiocy by making inane chit chat and posing for the photo.
I will treasure that photo forever.
While waiting to say hello, I saw a young woman throw herself at them and gush that they gave her courage to come out, and a heavily pierced woman break down in tears, unable to express exactly why they meant so much to her.
They have impacted an entire country.

I was pleased to see this write up on the Women’s media centre website by Emily Wilson.
An international audience is starting to sit up and take notice of the pair, now that their film “Untouchable Girls” won the audience award at the Toronto film festival.
It’s a shame they aren’t getting tvnz show spots for their shows, because the two of them are both still very keen to work, and it is simply a lack of interest from NZ broadcasters that stands between the NZ audience and them.

I will be very embarrassed if they get better recognition from an international audience than their own home, where they work so hard for their communities.

In local news...

In Local news...

I was heartbroken to see that the Naval and Family bar is now “Calender Girls”.
Men who wouldn’t usually have come within a block of family bar now loiter on a corner that used to hold a diverse group of men and women.

On the upside...

For a short while Campbell Orr at Caluzzi bar teased us with the concept of a board games/twister night* but apparently not everyone was down with the idea of getting down!
We are benefiting from the fact that Stephen Oats is now available as quiz master.
“Orr says punters can expect fun questions, with some surprises. There will be special rounds each week requested by the quiz attendees. He also promises great prizes, like the winning team will getting a $100 voucher valid for a month so they don't have to drink it all at once. There will also be prizes for second and third places.”

As soon as I’m not travelling so much for work, I’m THERE.
The first Caluzzi Quiz Night is Thursday 23 June.

*I may have been the only one keen on the Twister idea.

Not a nerd.

I am apparently “not really a nerd”.
I was discussing nerd stuff with a friend the other night and Doctor Who came up.
Doctor Who came up because I proud to self identify as a nerd, and we had been having some awesome discussions about nerd stuff...

Neverwhere vs. any of Terry Pratchett. – Bloody hard call but I gotta go with Terry for the politics.

Firefly – how funny is the fact that people actually started collecting money for Nathan Fillian seriously thinking that he would waste that amount purchasing the rights to a show??
(For those who have wanted to donate, Nathan suggests a good NFP – Perhaps a safe home for puppies against cancer in childen?)

Various nerdy podcasts (including Freakonomics – go get it NOW) and how much we love them.

When Doctor Who came up, I had nothing. As far as I am concerned it may as well be “Doctor Who?”, because the programme scared me as a kid, and bored me as an adult so badly I haven’t even bothered watching the new versions.
So yep, I don’t like Doctor Who.

“You don’t like Dr. Who? - you are sooooo not a nerd.”
“But I like Trek and Babylon 5...”
“Yeah but, jeeez. You really don’t like it?”

I just about had to hand over my coms badge and ray gun there on the spot.*

It made me laugh because for all the other nerdy things I do in my life, disliking one element that she was really passionate about was enough to undermine my identity in her eyes.

I didn’t really care; my nerd status has been pretty much set since WELL before nerd was trendy.
When I was 11 lunch times consisted of time in the library curled up with Stephen King, Terry Pratchett and the Alanna series.
Or when I was 12 and only had one real friend at school and we played chess all lunch time (A massive hug to Grover Boy at this point).
Or when at 13 I realised I was the only one who had already read all of Shakespeare’s comedies and tragedies.
Or at Uni, when I sat and read everything I could find on Fibonacci sequences, because I got interested in the maths behind art.

So yep, I didn’t really care what she thought.

Last week in yet another shitty mood that comes with this season I was sitting thinking about it...
How DARE someone undermine my self-identity?

It is called self identity for a reason, and if I want to call myself a nerd I can. If my particular brand of nerdiness isn’t enough for someone then they can bugger off.
Same goes with anything really.
I know it was just because I was in a bad mood that I cared what someone else thinks, but seriously – I will identify myself how I like, and that identity is flexible and my own choice.

*I don’t actually have a coms badge or ray gun. Or any other uniform. But I have friends who do.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Winter solstice and my SAD

I get seasonal effective disorder, so at this time of the year just putting my pants on and giving a fuck what I look like enough to walk out the door is a challenge.

But I am fighting.
I am railing against my hibernation instincts, the urge to be cranky, to push everyone away, to make rash decisions. To run like a dog and hide under the porch until everything leaves me alone. I am exersizing, even though the joy is gone, just for the endorphins.
I am working hard to ensure I can keep getting up, because it only takes one day to start the spiral.

It is winter solstice next week which is always my symbol that the sun is coming.
And this will get easier.
Makeup will be fun.
Bed will be an afterthought at the end of a day, not the wishful dream of an entire week.
Work will feel challenging not confronting.
I won’t want to lash out at anyone who doesn’t love me unconditionally.
I will invite you over, because my floor will be clean, there will be food in the fridge and I will be ok.

In the meantime, I will come to your place, you cannot come to mine.
I will listen more than I contribute.
I will lurk on the internet with fuck all contribution of value.
I will avoid triggers when I would normally push through.
I will force myself to keep this job, even though it gives me chest pains and I would rather bar-tend.

But my pants are on and I am present.
And that my friends, is a fucking victory.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

slutwalk LA speach from Hugo

Hat tip to Feminist Allies

This is why my partner and male friends will be attending Slutwalk Auckland.
Rape culture hurts everyone.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Paul Quinn's response to our outcry.

This post refers to yesterday's episode of Backbenchers and the post I wrote last night.

Other than a quick (not-sorry) tweet Paul Quinn has not fronted to the numerous people on twitter and other social media questioning his comments, today TVNZ (reported by stuff with video link) had the following response from him…

Quinn said he hadn't heard the slutwalk presentation (a great brief from Pollyanne Pena) and didn't understand why he was being asked the question.
He ''absolutely regretted'' the misinterpretation.
''I couldn't hear the speaker's presentation and I didn't know what she said. Wallace asked me what did I think of girls wearing short skirts at 2am in the morning in Courtenay [Place]. I looked at him and thought 'what the hell is he asking me that for?'
''Clearly rape is not justified for anything.
''I thought the question was around drunkenness on Courtenay Place at 2am. That's what I thought the discussion was initially about. Others started talking about rape and I thought what the hell are they talking about.''
He added: ''The mis-interpretation was around the fact that I hadn't heard what the discussion was about. I explained that to them afterwards.''

So let me clarify, you didn’t know what they were talking about, and so launching into a tirade about women still being out at 6am partying was the best response?

And then when Wallace Chapman clarified the question by saying ''Do you think there is something to this idea that girls ask for it...they'll be saying that?''
Then you STILL didn’t understand?
What did you think you were talking about?
Girls who go out partying and drinking til all hours are asking for:
A lecture?
A headache?
A bad reputation?
A pregnancy?
A theft of their purse?

What exactly DID you think you were talking about Paul? Because I cant think of anything that someone asks for by going and drinking other than (and this may surprise you):getting drunk.

And later, once it was VERY clear, and Trevor Mallard had very clearly stated that there is NEVER a reason for rape you felt the need to clarify.
At this point it should have surely been the clarification that you didn’t realise they were discussing assault?
No, what you said was…

“I should, I should say… Your question was aimed at women, so I responded to women – boys are just the same”
Yep. Don’t want to leave those boys out.
So men, if you get raped, it is probably because you were asking for it too.
And boys…
No I’m sorry, I’m not even going there.
I feel sick.

I think the country needs an apology, and an acknowledgement that this attitude is not ok.
I would love to see a live debate on one of our news stations, between several panelists, because the more we bring this topic out in the open, the quicker we can change this crap.

If anyone does want to write to Paul his email address is

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

I'm convinced that we need slutwalk here and NOW

I was willing to understand a police officer making a stupid comment out of genuine concern, at a small gathering. I get that some people who work in Law enforcement get tired of going to scenes of abuse and rape and would do anything to stop them, even try to protect people from the wrong direction.
I did wonder at times if slut walk was an over reaction to a small incident, and then I thought about all the jerks (and wonderful people) that I know who genuinely believe that what women wear has a part in whether they are raped or not.

Tonight’s episode of “Backbenches” sealed my resolve to attend and promote the Auckland branch of Slutwalk on June 25th.

I give the police a long leash, giving that they are on the front line of violence and the sicker levels of our society, but politicians are another breed altogether. By the time you have worked in high level corporate, and then had 3 years in parliament I would expect that you would
A) Have a good grasp of the smooth lines people want to hear.
B) Know when to keep your mouth shut if what you believe is blatantly misogynous.
Wouldn’t you Paul Quinn??

But no…

On tonight’s episode of Backbenches Paul (and the entire room and cameras) was told why slutwalk is occurring. He was asked to weigh in on women’s clothing choices and the link with assault.
And his response (I am waiting for a direct quote here and what follows is from memory – so please forgive any inaccuracy) was to reply that alcohol intake was more of a risk and women who went out drinking until all hours were putting themselves at risk.
He also made some disparaging comments about people in short skirts being out at 6am when he goes to the gym.
– Because us sluts really should be nocturnal, and we are asking for it – right?

This is someone who was being beamed out to the entire nation, who is in charge of policy decisions and represents the people of this country.
He didn’t even look EMBARRASED!

This is why we need Slutwalk, because the perception that victims are EVER to blame for an assault or rape is entirely wrong and incredibly sick.
And yet it is not rare, and this has proved that it is pervasive enough that even our political leaders feel comfortable expressing these themes.
And that is not ok.

Shame on you Paul Quinn, I feel sorry for you.

Monday, May 23, 2011

The support we choose

The case of children /young women using their school councillors as a resource to source options for an unwanted pregnancy has had a lot of time in the media. One of the trends in comments from pro-choice and pro “support in schools for all options” has been the concept that teens use the school because home is not a safe environment.
I balked at that, because my own experience of using school support networks was in preference to admitting to my parents that I was not coping. It was my first experience with depression and the first thing the councillor did was hold my hand while I called my mother and admitted I couldn’t do this alone.
I still count my blessings that my parents’ response was one of support, and my family stood by me while I made decisions around staying in school or not, remaining a prefect or not, continuing competitive activities or not.
So while I realise that many, many young people struggle to find safe places and supportive people in their lives, withholding information is not necessarily a sign of dysfunction or abuse.

So when we discuss children requiring the notification of parents before accessing an abortion I have to ask...
If it is so the parents can have a say, then no. No, no, NO!
I say no for so many reasons, and most of them have been expressed beautifully elsewhere.

Take a peek at Boganette

Or Anthea

Or Luddite journo

Or Ideologically impure

Or over on life is a feminist issue

There is a lot of murmur on the blogosphere around this topic and I don’t need to rehash it.

The other logical (and not unreasonable) reason is that young people going through an experience like pregnancy/ abortion/ adoption should have support.
This I support, but not in the form of “concern trolling” where people act like they are being concerned about someone’s well being in order to maintain control (would any one like to quote some patronising pro-slavery quotes here?).

If taken at face value the key element of support can be provided by any adult in a child’s life.
I’m a support to several young people who are family friends and I really hope that they would feel safe and free from risk of judgement if they came to me.

So why not require an adult (by all means legislate the age if needed) chosen BY THE YOUNG PERSON to be notified? (Not the sexual partner of the youth if under age).
This seems to fulfil all the needs of the group.
The young person is able to access all healthcare options available.
They have a support person to assist them through the process.
There is an adult in this process.

There are SO MANY massive issues with this.
Young people may not choose the most ‘responsible’ person around.
That person may not have the young person’s best interests at heart.
That person may be involved in the relationship that led to the pregnancy.
The person may be covering for a rape that occurred.
The person may use their influence to pressure the youth to make a decision that the youth is not fully comfortable with.

Like I said; a lot of issues.
The problem is that all of the above issues apply to parents as well.

So we are back to square one...

Anyone got any good ideas?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

I'm not just a vagina who likes men.


My name is Scuba. Danger. Nurse. – yes my middle name is danger. I am THAT awesome!!
I was born with a fully formed vagina.
As a child I self identified as female with occasional yearnings to be a boy, when I realised I couldn’t climb trees that well.
As an adolescent I developed late at around 16, with acceptable female hormone levels and a socially acceptable female mammarys.
I became attracted to men once the hormones kicked in. Previous to that they were there to take me for bike rides and make dinner (dad) or fight (every other boy).
I occasionally feel that being a lesbian would be an acceptable choice for me when I see a petite masculine featured woman, but don’t really feel like the sex stuff with them, which makes it all a bit half hearted really.
I am in a long term, committed relationship with a man, and if the cysts on my ovaries are not an impediment I would like to one day become a mother by means of sexual male-female reproduction.

Are you confused about why I shared all of this?
It all seems a bit freaking pointless really, since it tells you exactly jack about who I actually am.
It tells you nothing about my hopes, dreams, personality, ethics, morals, lifestyle, and sense of humour, strengths or weaknesses (unless you count climbing trees).

So why do people who are Gay/lesbian/bisexual/trans have to explain every facet of their lives?
Why, when someone comes out as Trans, do people feel an explanation is due as to what “level/stage” they are at?
Why do people feel that if someone is not straight, they can quiz someone on when, where, how and what they like as if they should validate what they feel?

People are people, no matter who they love, and what their junk is.
Let people tell you who they are, in their way, on their terms.
Find out the usual way, by leering at strangers in bars, and comparing notes on your favourite films.
Because my vagina and sexuality tell you zilch about which film stars turn me on, and whether I want kids or can have them, or what I want to do with my life.

Judge people by the sum of their parts. Not their parts, or who they bump parts with.
(sorry had to do it!)

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Baggy clothes are not a bullet proof vest.

For those of you who (like me) have been busy with work and play, you may have missed the flurry of conversation and bloggy wonder around the concept of a “Slut Walk”
There are some great conversations around what it means to individuals, and how they plan to express their own understanding of the slut walk.
Here is mine.

I will be there, and I will be wearing a pair of baggy blue cotton pants and a matching top – a set of surgical scrubs.

My understanding of the slut walk is that Toronto Police constable Michael Sanguinetti made an ill thought out comment that “women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimised”.
He has since apologised in writing for the comment but the fact of the matter is that the concept of a correlation between clothing/image and sexual assault is so deeply ingrained in our thought process that it didn’t even pause coming out of his mouth at a public speaking engagement in the line of duty.
This baffles me.
Most people (men and women) who are assaulted have to go through the questioning of what they did before and during an assault, and I understand the need to fully understand the crime scene so as to better bring justice.
This should always be done with respect and sensitivity.
I cannot comment on adult services, but in Auckland we have a wonderful unit for children, with specially trained nurses, safe places, soft toys, and a respect for the word ‘NO’ treatment and forensics takes as long the child needs to take.
Guilt on either side should not be played out in the media.
Who is a predator, vs. who is a prostitute on the weekends should not be a coffee group discussion by people with no knowledge of the case.
Assault and rape is not funny, and I cannot understand how people I respect have told rape “jokes” IN THE WORKPLACE.

The only reason these public conversations occur is because people do not realise how widespread assault and rape is, the assumption is still that it occurs solely to women, and certainly not women we know... good grief no!
It is those women, the ones with short skirts and night jobs... the sluts.

But it isn’t.
The people affected by sexual assault are your friends, your family, and the women you like and respect. The ballsey ones who don’t take shit from anyone.
And what they were wearing at the time is irrelevant.
A short skirt does not cause a good man to suddenly turn into a rapist.
Black eyeliner and voluptuous cleavage will not force a man into grabbing the aforementioned breasts.
My baggy scrubs will not protect me if a rapist decides that they need to dominate and hurt someone and I am there.

Clothing does not cause or prevent crime. And I LOVE that the slutwalk is starting these conversations.

For those who would like to join us in the slut walk please go to Slutwalk Aotearoha.