Friday, November 23, 2012

Royal Society of New Zealand 2012 Research Honours Dinner

The annual awards evening celebrating top NewZealand researchers was held at Auckland Museum on Wednesday.

Huge congratulations to Distinguished Professor Margaret Brimble, CNZM FRSNZ, School of Chemical Sciences, The University of Auckland, who last night became the second woman to win the Royal Society of New Zealand's Rutherford Medal.

She was quoted by Fairfax at

“I am personally very pleased that New Zealand has now recognised me, not for being a woman in science, but for my science.”

The Rutherford Medal was awarded to chemist Professor Brimble, for her world-leading contributions to the synthesis of bioactive natural products.  Part of her work in chemical sciences has been research benefitting those who have experienced brain injury by modifying a naturally occurring peptide found in the brain after an injury, which helps to prevent secondary cell death.

 If you are interested in reading more about her research, please go to the university website for more information.

Other women who won during the presentation of thirteen awards on Wednesday night were:
The Dame Joan Metge Medal for excellence and building relationships in the social science research community.

Professor Linda Tuhiwai Smith, Pro Vice Chancellor and Dean of the School of Māori and Pacific Development, University of Waikato, for inspiring, mentoring and developing Māori researchers.

Professor Janet Holmes FRSNZ, Chair in Linguistics, Victoria University of Wellington, for her outstanding contribution to linguistics.
Congratulations to all the winners on Wednesday night, you are inspirations.

I am going to try and focus more on the amazing work of New Zealand women, who, unless they are in film and television tend to slip through the cracks of NZ media, making small headlines no matter how outstanding their work is. Those who are already in their field appreciate them for the work they do, lives they change, and ideas they bring forward.
I will be recognising them here with the original drive due to the fact this is a feminist space, but in the hope that the circle of people who appreciate the work being done will widen. Please don’t hesitate to link to further information on the work these women are doing, or information about their achievements.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The end of another Decade

Image thanks to @AlastairJNZ
Every year I try and use my birthday as a marker point for “where I am at”. It’s a chance to review, and look back on how I’m doing, where I’m headed, and if I want to stay in that direction.
This year is a little different. Partly because I’m turning 30, and am old enough to see aging for the bitch it is, and young enough for decades to still mean a lot.
The other part is that this year has been really really hard.
I don’t mean, “oh yeah, work has been stressful and I hated my flatmates” hard.
I mean, “name an aspect of my life and there is a high probability that it has had to change substantially” hard.

I was sitting in training tonight with a phenomenal view over Auckland harbour. The light was pouring in from the west, and there was an enormous black cloud to the east, out over the harbour and covering the Coromandle and east Auckland.  There was some SERIOUSLY bad weather going on over there, the clouds blocked any kind of view, and it was clear the rain was torrential.
But from where I was sitting, and the way the light was hitting it, it was the most stunning sunset I have seen this year.
The clouds were lit up purple, the sea was a deep pearly grey black, and the yachts were lit up like fairies, flying across the water returning into safe berth. The sun was lighting the clouds over me from below, and they were breaking up and showing all different shades of pink and orange.
I sat there a bit stunned by the gorgeousness of it all, and stupidly overwhelmed with how well tonight’s sunset summarised my year.
Those big black metaphorical clouds, haven’t been long gone. I can still smell the rain in the air, and it’s going to take a while to clear up. But right now, having gotten past the storm, life is as beautiful as it has ever been. And sometimes that’s all you can ask.

This year in summary.

I have experienced Loss.
I have lost friends.
I have lost family.
I have lost a love.
I have lost a future that I held as certain as I have ever held any future.
I have lost the body I was proud of, the strength I was sure of, and the certainty of what my health will be in the future.
I have lost an element of hope and optimism, and I’m sorry to say my heart is harder than it was.
I have lost something deeply important to me, which I’m still not ready to admit or talk about.

I have Gained.
I have gained friends.
Oh my god. You guys are AMAZING. I have met the most vibrant, exciting, scintillating, fascinating, brilliant, kind and generous people this year. I have made more new friends this year than I did in the four years previous combined.
I have strengthened and rejuvenated old friendships.
I’m so so proud to say that the same girls that jumped up and down dancing like loons at my 21st will all be there on Saturday for my 30th. We have fewer things in common, but they are my sisters. They know my heart, and I love them so deeply.
I have gained a new space in my heart.
I became a godmother, my friends have had children and I have found a whole new space in my chest, all ready to adore these little people. Every time I see my godson and his sisters I’m surprised by the depth of how much I adore them, and I feel a great sense of honour that their parents allow me to be so much a part of their family. This participation means more than they can possibly know.
I have gained a career.
For the first time in my life I feel as though I have a career, not just a job. I have a sense of purpose, job satisfaction, I am making a very real difference, and I can see a career path that excites me deeply.
I have gained strength.
What feels like a cruel, bitter hardening of my heart right now will eventually soften, and these experiences have given me new skills, ways to cope, and resilience for the future.
I have gained pride.
I have overcome a lot this year and although I’ve had a huge amount of support when I called for it, I have essentially done it alone. No one else got me out of bed and into work. No one else kept me doing what I needed to do to keep my mind well through all that grief. I did it.
I fucking survived, and right now is the first time I’ve taken the time to feel proud of what I have made it through.
I have gained new skills.
I am learning new tricks, have passed a correspondence course, have started a new volunteer job and am learning an instrument.
Partly this is because some of my old hobbies have had to stop, with the Arthritis, but I’m genuinely excited about these new skills, and pleased to say in spite of all the turmoil, I’ve continued to grow and achieve.
I have gained independence.
I’ve always enjoyed and been good at being single, but the last year has been a real learning curve. For the first time I feel truly independent, less chained to what other people think, and confident enough to follow my own path.  I have maintained my sense of community, while realising that I can’t save anyone but myself, and to TRULY let that go was a challenge.  Living my own life, with integrity, is something I am feeling more confident in.

I feel like my world has literally been turned upside down.
It seemed like a bad thing when it was happening. But now, now I look at my life and it’s something I’m proud of. This plant may have its roots in shit, but it grew twice as fast and 10x as strong because of it.

I won’t ever wish for a smooth ride, because boring isn’t something I do well. But the ability to sail through a storm, and be able to use my support crew, and my own skills to get through it, that’s a hell of a gift.
To those of you reading this who have been there with me for the ride.
Thank you .
I can’t thank you enough.

Let me get you a drink and a hug on Saturday.
Image thanks to @PaulaAMelville

Monday, November 5, 2012

You dont have to...

This has been written from the perspective of someone who celebrates Christmas holidays, so it is ‘christmas-centric” but there are  many other celebrations that put stress on families at this time of year.

You don’t have to…
You don’t have to is one of the most powerful reminders of the end-of-year season.

You don’t have to buy gifts.
You don’t have to attend functions
You don’t have to write cards.
You don’t have to spend too much.

We are more and more prone to forget this, the later in the year we get. And it is heart breaking. My friend is about to have her child’s first Christmas, and rather than looking forward to showing the baby off and seeing all the family, she is in a panic state in November, because the obligation to host everyone who wants to come and see baby will bankrupt them while they are only on one income.

I just said, “Do you have to? And her head just about exploded. Mind. Blown. What else would she do, if not decorate, cook, buy gifts for, and host an entire family? When you take a step back, the expectation that a young family with a new baby would want to, let alone be ABLE to do the above is patently ridiculous.

Whatever your religion/spirituality or holiday schedule, there will no doubt be something at the end of the year that puts the pressure on you to deliver “perfection”.
I say, walk away.
This holiday season we are taking the family camping. No presents. No fuss. No stress.
I cannot wait. Yes, I enjoy carols and decorations so there will be tinsel and fairy lights on my tent, and my mum loves Christmas cake, so that will no doubt be in attendance. But once we were actually honest about what was causing stress, it was the cost.
Not just the cost of gifts.
The cost of time and pressure to achieve “perfect memories” every single December, regardless of what else is going on.
I’ve handmade dried orange and cinnamon stick wreaths, chutneys, sweets, truffles, and crafts in an effort to cut costs by making presents, and resulted in a wonderful haze of exhaustion by the time I actually got a holiday. Money isn’t the only cost to Christmas and more and more, as a result of my arthritis I am aware of not wanting to waste the precious commodity that is my strength and energy.

November/December without presents to buy is a special kind of heaven, and the end of year, without trying to bake and decorate is awesome.  What will probably happen is that I will feel like doing a little baking close to the time, and I will. But it will be because I want to and have the energy reserves, and that is how it should be. No obligations.

So go have a chat to your families. Talk about what is needed, what is wanted, and what is painfully pointless tradition.  Empower your family with their own traditions.

Our tradition until this year has been for everyone to bring one gift, and through opening the presents and “stealing” off each other, we finally get to keep the gift we can steal three times.
This Christmas I will be missing my Nan dreadfully, but I will have the memory of tears of laughter last Christmas where we did a “secret Santa steal” and Nan REALLY wanted one of the gifts, and people kept taking it off her. She used her wiles, sneakiness and a bit of blackmail to get it back, and the fun of the challenge was more important than the gift. I have a wonderful photo of her grinning like a loon and clutching something to her chest. Her smile will be one of my favorite memories for years to come, not the gift.

In fact, come to think of it, I can’t remember what the gift was.


Some gentle alternatives to consider.

Dinner at a RSA/Pub/Café where each person pays their own way.

‘Bring a plate’ Christmas dinner.

Perhaps a “progressive celebration” where each course is served at a different family member’s house?

A cost limit on gifts.

Instead of gifts, ask that everyone brings an offer of a service which they can provide and use it as a lucky draw to see who gets whose offering?

Why not hold Christmas day two days late, and purchase everything you need in the Boxing Day sales?

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Marriage equality talk at university of Auckland 24th August 2012

(Apologies for the lateness of this being posted, I've been sick. This is also up at The Hand Mirror, where there are some AMAZING posts on this topic, so head over and have a browse.)

I left Louisa Wall’s talk at the University of Auckland with some serious warm fuzzies. Within the room there had been a myriad of people, religions, and ages, all united in one single cause. The cessation of separation of human rights related to gender and sexuality.
Had we all gone to a café after and tried to have a conversation about any other topic, we would have struggled to include everyone without some serious bickering but in marriage equality, we were united.

Louisa spoke passionately and without notes. She spoke of her personal history, the history of rainbow rights in NZ and around the world, and she spoke about what this bill will mean.

If you want to hear the basics from her mouth, take a look at her speach today at parliament house.

If you would like to hear a more in depth discussion about what the bill means to NZ, including a very clear discussion on what it will mean for NZ churches (spoiler alert – NOTHING), take a peek here.

If you want to watch Colin Craig get OWNED on public television, check this out. *snort*

I’m just briefly going to give an insight into the questions session of the day, because that is the one thing you won’t see elsewhere.

In the questions.

A woman stepped forward and spoke about marrying into an interracial relationship only one year after Loving vs Virginia, and the hate that continued after that point.
She and her daughter pointed out the similarities in argument the social right use against gay marriage and against mixed race marriage. The fact we have grown past the latter, doesn’t mean the stupid arguments wont be re-used to hurt a new minority group.
They spoke of evolution and the fact both sides survived the revolution and they will both survive this one, but we need to ignore the bigots and keep fighting for what is right.

Aaron raised the fact that the media, and this includes the rainbow media, keeps calling the bill the “gay marriage bill”, the frustration was evident from his passion, when speaking about the fact that trans people are even more marginalised than the cis-gay community.
Louisa spoke compassionately to this point and clarified that this is why this is the bill is called the “definition of marriage amendment bill”.
She got a laugh from the group when she said
“this bill couldn’t BE ANY STRAIGHTER” and I know it wasn’t just me that choked up when she followed on
“It isn’t about being gay, or straight, or what your gender identity, it’s about being EQUAL.”
Section 32 will be highlighted when she speaks on Wednesday, and I for one will be watching.

Soraiya Daud stood “It’s been a long time since I sat in a room and been moved by a labour mp, and I’m IN the labour party.” Cue raucous laughter from the room!
“I hope that you can be an example to the rest of our MPs”

Finally Nathan, a Christian who has recently joined the salvation army stood up. He had a loud voice and after overhearing conversations from before we started I was terrified of what he was going to say. So much positivity was bouncing around the room, and I was so scared we were going to end on a downer.
He told a story about a Friend who texted him- “I’m gay, does Jesus love me?”
He said he thought about it, and said “Jesus does love you because you are made in his image”. He quoted “Come now for it is time to worship, come as you are.”
He said that his friend replied
“Thank you, I was on the edge of a bridge, and I have gotten off”
The room audibly sighed. To hear of people working within organisations who are in support of this cause was wonderful, and someone in the crowd shouted "Kia-Ora Nathan”.
He Pointed out that there ARE Christians out there who agree, but want to work within their groups, churches, leadership, they want to make their own boundaries.
Louisa nodded in agreement, and reiterated her points about the fact that this bill doesn’t change what the church can or has to do.
“Churches continue to be able to discriminate based on religious belief.”
What this bill will do is open bigger spaces for churches to have their own discussions, and this is already happening.

The discussion was thrilling, and I think most people wished they could raise their hand just to shout THANK YOU, but there wasn’t enough time.

I was there because the Marriage equality bill is in front of parliament Wednesday the 29th August.
I sincerely hope that this law is changed through this process. Partly because I honestly can’t see why it hasn’t been already, and partly because I don’t want any future generations to have to fight this rubbish. We should be raising our young people in spaces safe for all genders and sexualities. People should feel safe as they are, with who they love.
So as a person who feels passionately about this bill, and hopes that THIS will be the time for change, I want to soak everything up, be part of it, support those putting themselves out there, enable safe spaces for open conversation and remember this.
Because one day I want to tell my nieces and nephews, or kids, that I was there, I was part of this, I helped the change.
I don’t want to tell them I went out for dinner and don’t remember the specifics.
Because this… this is important people.
Sit up, take notice, write letters, talk to your family, talk to your friends, talk to your leaders, religious groups, community groups. Raise this issue.
Most hate is driven by ignorance, and change is hindered by apathy. So if you think you can’t make a difference, you can. 
It will be our generation who makes the difference, because WE are the ones who overwhelmingly support this bill. It is us who needs to raise its profile and put a loving face on the front of it.
Go to it people.

Monday, August 20, 2012

I got angry.

Tonight was a new low.
I left Auckland feminist drinks, also lovingly called Boner Killer Drinks* early.
Early, because I was so angry at a man attending, that I was scared of what I would say, who I would upset, and trouble I would cause.
So here is a little love letter to the guy involved, and perhaps the woman stupid enough to bring him along to something he was obviously opposed to.

I was angry when you made jokes about high heeled shoes and car washing fundraisers, because you obviously expected a rise out of us. And I’m really sorry, but the wide range of young feminists around the table have more valuable shit to worry about that telling other people how to dress.
Did you really think those jokes were fresh? Normal women have to hear that stuff all the time. As people who identify as feminists, we are targeted for crap like that daily. I can’t believe you thought you were unique bringing that shit to our table.

I got angry when you made jokes about “accepting our lord and saviour Jesus Christ into our lives” because that exact phrase is really triggering for me, and you didn’t know that because you didn’t ask, or care.
In fact, all you seemed to want was a response. When we deliberately ignored you, you kept going, but made it more offensive.
It didn’t matter that the response wouldn’t be interesting, or make better conversation, or expand horizons, you just wanted to get someone angry.

I got angry when I finally tried to shut you down by joking that “I’m sorry, I can’t hear what you are saying, I’m too busy objectifying your beard” your girlfriend fired up because someone else yelled “Yeah, take off your top”. (which by the way was very funny) .
So you can literally sit there and bait us, in our own safe place, but we can’t pick on you, because why?

I got angry when you tried to enter a philosophical debate about abortion by talking over the top of a history major, about the history of genocide.
When you talked over the top of the women trying to explain their point.
WHEN YOU TALKED OVER THE TOP OF YOUR OWN GIRLFRIEND WHEN SHE TRIED TO HELP YOU ARGUE. Why in gods name would you do that!? She was the only one out of the two of you actually qualified for the discussion, since she is the only one who has to get pregnant.

I got really angry when you said “urgh let’s go” and then DIDN’T GO!!
You could have just left. It was our meeting, our space, our time. Why the hell when you realised you didn’t like it, didn’t you just leave?
But no, you stood there arguing so long that I had time to get up and leave.

I got angry in the car on the way home. Angry at myself for not saying all this stuff, angry at you for talking over me when I tried. Angry at your girlfriend for bringing someone unsafe to our safe place.
So angry.

And then I got angry at not expressing it.
Because you know what? Neck beards like you exist in my life EVERY FUCKING DAY.
You are my boss.
You are the doctors I work with.
You are my family members.
You are the men on the street.
You are the jackass who came to feminist drinks and had a laugh at our expense.

You were the one person I COULD have shouted at, and I didn’t.
Because I’ve gotten really good at being angry and keeping my mouth shut.
At letting people like you talk over me, walk over me, violate my boundaries, and make me feel unsafe. And I just play nice and try to get away as soon as I can. I don’t want to be a “bad person” and give feminism a “bad name”. God forbid a feminist be angry, why would we be angry?

Mostly I’m angry at the fact I live in a society where one half of our country genuinely feels that their opinion is more valid/important/correct than the other half. And it’s so ingrained that you are probably going home thinking you did us a favour giving us something to think about.
We read about this shit, we research it, we debate it, we watch it, we work on political change, and policy documents. We work in sectors where we make a difference.
There is very little that you could have brought to that table that someone hadn’t heard before, and yet you assumed we would actually change our minds based on your awesome argument.

So please don’t bother coming back. Because I’ve figured out what made me angry. And next time I won’t just leave.

*or #AklBKD if you want to keep up on twitter

Friday, August 17, 2012

So, you’re coming to Rocky Horror?

So, you’re coming to Rocky Horror?  

You should probably know up front that there are STANDARDS! (I don’t have many, but Rocky Horror brings out the standards in me).
If you are a woman, bare minimum of dress up is at least fish net stockings.
If you are a man, bare minimum of dress up is at least fish net stockings.
Get the idea?
Singing along is encouraged and interacting is heroic.

Want to interact, but don’t know what’s involved??

Here is a “props list” of items you will need to interact with the film. 
NB: when it says “throw” please throw UPWARDS, not at the screen or other people!

Props List…

Water gun
News Paper
Lighter/torch /glow stick
Party hat
Noise maker
Rubber Glove

Rice: At the beginning of the film is the wedding of Ralph and Betty.
Enjoy throwing the rice along with the on-screen wedding guests.

Newspapers: When Brad and Janet are caught in the storm, Janet covers her head with a newspaper Do as she does!

Water pistols: The Audience uses their water pistols to simulate the rainstorm that Brad and Janet are caught in.

Candles, torches, glow sticks: During the "There's a light" verse of "Over at the Frankenstein Place, you should light up the theatre with candles, flashlights, lighters, etc. (at indoor screenings, please don’t use open flame!)

Rubber gloves: During and after the creation speech, Frank snaps his rubber gloves three times. Later, Magenta pulls these gloves off his hands. You should snap your gloves in sync each time to create a fantastic sound effect.

Noisemakers: At the end of the creation speech, the Transylvanians respond with applause and noisemakers. Go nuts!!

Confetti: At the end of the "Charles Atlas Song" reprise, the Transylvanians throw confetti as Rocky and Frank head toward the bedroom. You should do the same.

Toast: When Frank proposes a toast at dinner, members of the audience throw toast into the air

Party hat: At the dinner table, when Frank puts on a party hat, you do the same.

Other interactions (more common in the UK than NZ)
When the narrator is talking about Brad and Janet, the audience yell out “slut” and “arsehole”

I’m always dressed as Magenta in one of her forms, see ya there!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012


I’ve been tucking my chin in and getting on with things for a while now.
When you go through big life changes, like health issues, or bereavement, or the break-up of a relationship (or all three in a month) people tell you it’s “expected” to feel empty, or alone, or hollow or any other shitty feeling. They don’t tell you what’s missing though. It seemed rather silly to me, that when I had been relatively unhappy in a relationship for a while before it ended, that there would be such a huge gap after leaving. Why would the loss of something I didn’t want any more feel so huge?
And it was huge. But there had been a gap for a lot longer than the break up and part of my frustration was that even with another person, I still cried myself to sleep and felt terribly alone.
The other day I found myself smiling for no apparent reason. I danced along to music in the kitchen, that only weeks ago was background noise. One evening I did an epic slide in my socks in our hallway, rather than simply trudging to the toilet like any normal person.
This isn’t just mundane happiness, it’s a real spark, real hope. Real Joy.
I hadn’t realised it was missing until it came back, and god I had been missing it. I am naturally a very joyful person. I love life, and most of what it has to offer. Most of the time my natural inclination when offered something new to me is to clap my hands in excitement and give it my best shot.
How had I not noticed it missing? Bloody hell, I should have been sadder, more disappointed in myself, and life, that I had lost that spark. I didn’t even notice.
Now it’s back I want to stroke its hair and cradle it, and tell it that it was missed, and never to go again.  I’m sure there will be more times in the future without it, and with good reason, but I am glad I can appreciate it when it’s here. My entire being is glowing from a warmth that is stoked only by me, and my experiences.
In the last ten years those truly joyful times have happened at the start of wonderful things like relationships, or adventures overseas. It’s nice to know that simply having a fulfilling life is enough to bring me joy. Right now I am reliant on no one to make me feel whole, and my joy is my own. It’s a nice feeling.
I want to curl up and hug myself, because it’s good to be back.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

I am not my body

I found this in my blogging file and have decided "better  late than never" and put it up. This post was written before my separation and moving, changing jobs etc etc etc, so there are references that are out of date. My diagnosis is now formal, I have started treatment, and my chances of having biological kids is far less than it was. 

I have spent years on body positivity. Most of this has been a deliberate embracing of my body as it is. Rather than pretending I am not fat, or ignoring my skin condition, I love myself as I am and demand that others respect that. Body and mind working together for a holistic sense of self has been really important to me.
Recently I have been dealing with health issues around my body. This afternoon I came home with a tentative diagnosis and had a good cry. It’s not a big deal; I’m not going to die (until I normally would). I don't even know how much worse it will get.
Excuse the vagueness, it’s just that the condition that I have is rare enough that like my job, and volunteer work, I won’t be disclosing it on here for fear of outing myself.
There is a possibility that over time my body will become less functional faster than I would like. This comes with pain and difficulty moving, and the idea scares the shit out of me.
This body I love... It’s fucking failing me.
How DARE it!
The HOURS I have put into exercising, and feeding it well, and loving it, and only letting the BEST most wonderful people give it cuddles and love. This body has been nourished in every sense of the word, and now I find out that 30 years of good times with it, is all I may get? I am so ANGRY. I am well aware that there are people out there with prognoses that are a million times worse. With limited time, bigger pains and sadder stories. There are people with perfectly good bodies but hurts so great that they deliberately end their lives early. I’m one of the lucky ones and once I get past this news I know that I will realize that fully.
But right now I’m pissed off, and frightened, and sad.
At the moment I can’t really safely get down the stairs in the morning until I’ve had a hot shower and my pain has decreased, and that is totally ok.  But what will I be like in 5 years, when I want to (the fates willing) be getting up at all hours in the cold, to a hungry baby?
What about in ten years, when I take my kids canoeing down the Whanganui river, and I want to crawl in and out of tents scaring 7 shades of shit out of them.
What about in 20 years when I want to boogie at my birthday and embarrass myself trying to dance the old school styling’s of the Macarena?
What about…
What about…
But I don’t know. The future may not be much different to what it would be without this diagnosis.

Worrying won’t make a damn bit of difference, and even if I never had this, I could get something else in a weeks’ time. If life has taught me nothing else, it has taught me that shit happens, and all you can do is roll with it.
My new challenge will be to continue to be body positive even when it doesn't do what I want it to. To love it when it hurts me, to love it as it fails me. I think I'm up to the challenge.
But give me a few days of tears and anger before I settle into this, ok?

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Dr Miriam Grossman, lies, bent truths, and irresponsible medicine.

Miriam Grossman, and her bizarre take on sex education were the reason I was shaking with rage as I walked into work this morning. I was listening to the car radio and a woman was being interviewed about NZ sex education. Firstly, she had an American accent and kept referencing US websites that our Family planning isn’t affiliated with.
If you are going to take interviews in another country, at least do some damn research lady.
Secondly, every second “fact” that came out of her mouth, wasn’t.
For example “it is proven that Oral sex is linked to mouth cancer”
Uh no it’s not…
Saying that oral sex causes oral cancer is like saying that typing causes stomach ulcers.
Typing on a contaminated computer causes the transmission of the germs that in turn could cause stomach ulcers. There are other ways to cause stomach bug transmission, and the bacteria vector is not to blame. The bacteria, and following body dysfunction itself is.
Kissing babies doesn’t cause cancer – the politicos can breathe easy.

So who was this idiot and why was she being interviewed?
Within a few minutes I had found out that Family first had invited a certain Dr. Miriam Grossman to speak at their “Forum on the family”.

Ooohhhh I thought, that makes sense.
But hold on a minute… what kind of stupid doctor would be pushing such misinformation?
She is a clinical psychiatrist, promoting her new book about sex ed and youth sexuality called “you’re teaching my child what?” A quick zip through on amazon showed me that several of her research assistants are pathologically right wing, and NOT MEDICALLY TRAINED.
One is a journalist: Ashley Herzog.
Her qualifications in medicine? None.
Her qualifications in politics and gender? A charming little piece about “Wenergate” blaming the women who were harassed, for gagging for it.
Not much more I want to say on her.

So I thought, who is supporting this woman?
(Mum taught me to look at people who support concepts and decide if I wanted to be like them or not as part of my decision making)
Well Family first for a start *cough*.
Also she appears to be the conservative US media darling for all things sex related.

People I love dearly do NOT support her.  Such as GayNZ.
After seeing website write up- I started digging a little deeper into her anti human rights themes.

So I had a bit of a look at her take on homosexuality and gender…
For a start – take a peek at the following video. the California Senate Judiciary Committee voted to advance the FAIR Education Act (SB 48), a bill that would require state schools incorporate into their curriculum the contributions of LGBT Americans to development of California and the U.S, The good “Doctor” spoke AGAINST the legislation, mostly on the fact that transgenderism would frighten the children.

“It is our responsibility to protect children as best we can from exposure to facts and experiences that they are not equipped to handle… If this bill, SB 48 passes, I fear for the children of this state. More harm will come from this bill than good. Certainly, we can teach children the importance of respect and tolerance in a manner that is consistent with child development and biological truths.”
FFS… really?   Most children raised in a supportive home with decent sex and gender education understand more clearly than some adults that the “biological truth” is that sexuality, gender, biological physicality and identity are individual assignments and should not be a package deal.

Within the book she doesn’t tone it down all that much. In her references there is the following link to the website “mass resistance” it has the title “another reason not to send your kids to UMass Amherst"I would love to think that she just wanted a copy of the wonderful flyer, but if that were the case, she could have gotten it without using a hate group’s website to get there.
This is the flyer if you want to avoid going to a shitty site...

Another footnote that caught my eye was the following
“One notes how often the term “transgender folks” is used to get us to believe they are people just like you and I – they just want to be castrated, that’s all.”
What the actual FUCK??
There is nothing to rebut here because it is simply her very sick opinion that a group of people are not actually people. Surprising since as an orthodox Jewish person, that particular technique of fucktardery got a horrific number of her religious group killed in the second world war.

She also links to “Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays” where the following greeting is given.
“Welcome to PFOX
PFOX is not a therapeutic or counseling organization. PFOX supports families, advocates for the ex-gay community, and educates the public on sexual orientation. Each year thousands of men, women and teens with unwanted same-sex attractions make the personal decision to leave homosexuality. However, there are those who refuse to respect that decision. Consequently, formerly gay persons are reviled simply because they dare to exist! Without PFOX, ex-gays would have no voice in a hostile environment.”
If there was any shred of professional integrity left, the use of this link would have burnt it and stomped out the ashes.

That this woman is peddling hate speech under her professional title and selling books is of huge concern to me. Surely there should be a disclaimer.

May contain incorrect information, warped facts, skewed statistics, biased points of view, imbalanced reporting, and hate speech.

I firmly believe that freedom of speech is an important part of any healthy society. Integrity of professions is also very important, and I think it is about time the Doctor was investigated for unprofessional behaviour. Using her title and qualifications to convince people they are unnatural and unhealthy for having real, natural sexual urges, is cruel, dangerous and irresponsible.
Someone needs to at least complain to her governing medical body.

A big thank you to Rachel Hansen, and Richard Hills for their wonderful work with Sexuality education in NZ, and their great, positive interviews on last night’s close up show featuring Grossman.
A standing ovation to Katie Fitzpatrick who managed to be interviewed in debate with Grossman, without ONCE rolling her eyes, banging her forehead on the table or simply punching the good doctor. You are a hero to us all.

Just to finish off the fun, here are some quotes from Miriam Grossman that I actually filed under “stupid” in my writing page as I worked.

“unless you are a girl who is exclusively with other girls in which case the risk of STD’s is very low and HIV virtually impossible.”
Uh noooo, that is wrong. Blood to blood contact is required for HIV contraction and there is no reason why a woman couldn’t have that kind of contact with another woman.

Referencing twilight’s Edward as the ideal man (because conservatism is hip!)
“Not bad, huh? Now if only the professionals running our country’s sex education could figure that out. Because that’s what the Twilight craze is about: a guy who adores his girl so much, he’ll do anything to protect her. A guy who won’t allow his girl to get hurt, even if it means saying “no” to himself. That’s what girls want.

Has she read Twilight? I refer you to my post here discussing the issues around abusive relationships in twilight – but I guess its ok since they didn’t have sex.

“With the brouhaha over Bristol Palin’s pregnancy, here’s a plus no one’s considered: should this young woman go to college as a married mom, she’ll be spared four years of the campus hook-up culture.”
Yup, because once you have pushed something out, nothing goes back up there… darned if I know how people have more than one child.

Referenced in this blog post and NOT recommended by ScubaNurse, or indeed any nurse with half a brain.
Ref: Miriam Grossman: You're Teaching My Child What? A Physician Exposes the Lies of Sex Education and How They Harm Your Child: Washington: Regnery Publishing: 2009.

I know a bunch of people have written about close up interview - can you please link to your posts in the comments? Thanks!

Thursday, May 24, 2012


Hey Bank!* 
You just offered to increase my ability to borrow money by $15,000 dollars.
That’s more than I can repay. But you know that.
What you don’t know is that my partner and I recently separated, I’ve been diagnosed with an illness that will be costing me money, and my job at the time you offered me a card was not a stable one.
Why don’t you know? Because you never asked.
Why would a professional banking institution offer to loan money without checking if it can be paid back? Why would you send me ANOTHER credit card in the mail, if you don’t know what my income will be next week - it quite clearly changes in my bank statements.
The only logical reason I can think of is because you do better if I can’t pay it off. You get more money in the end by ruining my reputation and financial future.
I’m smart enough to know this, smart enough to cut up the cards, and refuse the increases.
I’m sure there are plenty of people trusting enough to think that a bank wouldn’t offer something out of their league.
I wonder if they are looking for a mortgage lender…
Because I am. And as far as I’m concerned, offering me something I can’t pay back, on terms that are not properly discussed, with a client you haven’t met… Well if it isn’t unprofessional or deliberately shitty, then it’s terribly stupid.
None of these things will result in you being the people who handle my home loan, when I decide I am ready for one.
So bank… quit being a douche. I’m on to you.

*to the tune of 'hey cow'.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Dear Comedians... we need to talk about rape.

Dear Comedians,  

I just wanted to have a wee chat about rape jokes. It’s the end of the NZ comedy festival for 2012, but it’s not too late to improve in time for next year.
As a basic rule of thumb, comedy thrives on taking awkward social situations and twisting them to make people laugh. Rape is not an awkward social situation. It’s a violent crime.
Some of the best comedians I have seen have told jokes about their own awful life experiences… I’m yet to see someone get up and do an anecdotal bit on rape. Possibly because of the fear that every time we make light of it, another person thinks what they did was ok. Possibly because most people never get to the point where it is a laughing matter and remain un-medicated.
Humor is one of the best survival techniques to trauma that I know of. Generally this is for stuff like, falling down, embarrassment, “stupid shit I have done while drunk”, self-destructive behaviour due to youth, addiction, stupidity etc. Not so much, stabbings, rape, domestic violence.
Also, I get to laugh at my trauma when I'm ready. What the fuck makes someone qualified to tell a room full of people that you know they should be desensitised enough to laugh at something as awful as rape.

Here are some basic rules of thumb about what is and isn’t funny.

If someone did something harmful to themselves, it might be funny.
If someone was hurt by someone else, it probably isn’t.

If someone tells a story themselves, to strangers. It’s probably funny.
If no one tells it in the first person, it probably isn’t.

If you wouldn’t use the phrase at a dinner party “go on tell the one about when you were raped”
Then don’t stand on stage and tell “the one about someone being raped.”

Because (and here is the bit where I get serious) every time you tell a joke about rape, rapists, rape victims, or just use the word rape to explain how hard your life is (it isn’t, shut the fuck up), someone in your audience got chills. Someone felt the hair stand up all over their body. Someone felt bile rising. That person who walked out, they probably needed to be sick.
One in about 7 people in your theatre would have been trying not to cry, or trying to remember to breath. Some would have been using self-talk to stop a panic attach. Some would have felt the urge to scream when the man behind them laughed throatily at your rape joke because… why? Why would someone laugh at a rape joke? Because they have done it and got away with it?
Because they knew someone who got away with it? Because they hate women/men so much they think they ASKED for it?
Every time you tell a joke with rape as a punch line or story thread, you are hurting survivors all over again.

So go on, tell the rape joke. And look and I mean REALLY LOOK at your audience. Look at who is laughing. But more importantly, look at who isn’t. And choose to never do that again.

And a big shout out to Rabon Kan, who not only had walk outs in his shows, but didn't learn from it, apologise for it, or indeed respect the complainants. 
I used to find you funny. Now you make me feel physically sick, and unwilling to be alone with you.