Thursday, December 12, 2013

Not bad for a bunch of internet perverts.

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you. Thank you all.

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

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

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Chicago, Auckland Music theatre 2013, Scube's perspective

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

How could this happen? - T/W

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That's how this can happen.

Monday, November 4, 2013

The Baying Mob or How I carry a torch.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My love to everyone on the front lines.


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

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Sinfest's Sisterhood.

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

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

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

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

I love opera

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

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

Um, I do identify as a feminist.

Have you tried geocaching?

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

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

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

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

Sure, here is a photo of me.


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

Because actual last comments while meeting men in bars…

Please don’t touch me

Please don’t grab me

Get your fucking hands off me

I can’t understand what you are saying

Ewwww, gross (after someone vomited on my feet)


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


Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Speech for the NCWNZ July 2013

  At the request of some attending the National women's council of NZ Auckland meeting, I am posting the following speech on my blog.
I was given the briefing that I would be on a panel talking about my interesting workplaces from a woman’s perspective, the barriers and challenges I face. Other speakers were unable to attend and at the last minute I changed my notes to a more formal speech.
I have thought hard about putting this up here on my blog, and some details have been cut or changed to protect my identity. I have no interest in mixing my work life with politics as of yet, and don’t feel safe as a pro-choice feminist writing under my own name until the threats stop.

Please note that this was a short, superficial speech for a group of cis women who ranged in age from mid 30s to their 80s. Different generations of feminists, different belief structures, and different moral codes and as a result it is a fairly “safe” speech with a very basic gender binary terms used throughout.  
Good evening, and thank you for having me to speak tonight, my name is *
I am a registered nurse working in operating rooms, in a part clinical-part organisational role. I also write under a pseudonym for the feminist blog The Hand Mirror, I volunteer for a rescue organisation, run a book club, and have an unhealthy addiction to a Wednesday night pub quiz, in spite of being a non-drinker!

My first thought when Julie asked me to speak tonight was that I couldn’t possibly.
Why should I speak? I have done no formal study on women, or women in the workplace.
I’m not smart enough, eloquent enough, experienced enough, old enough, or educated enough.
And then I thought, actually, I really can’t sit around complaining about a lack of women speakers if I myself refuse to speak up about interesting things until I’m 50 with a PHD in EXACTLY what I’m talking about.

So to cover for this feeling of “imposter syndrome” I’m going to do a very superficial chat about things I have observed in my different work spaces, I will pop a transcript of this talk up on my blog, and link to references of people who DO know what they are talking about and their research about the stuff that I’m really only discussing from an anecdotal perspective.

Out of curiosity, in response to a compliment about your work, a task you have done, or being asked to be a part of something, how many of you have felt like “urh, they have no idea, I’m really just faking it, I don’t belong up here”

(The response to this was resounding, and we had a bit of a pause to laugh at how united we were in having this experience!)

Ok, so this may be something called imposter syndrome. In the original research it focused on women in the workplace, but since then, we have realised that anyone who has been raised to think their place is elsewhere is prone to this feeling.
As a teen deciding on my career I was told I would make a GREAT nurse. No one ever mentioned that I should go beyond a degree, or beyond patient care. I certainly never comprehended a role where I would be educating and mentoring, let alone the goals I have for my future in management, politics, and leadership in healthcare.

I have the privilege of working in a very strong female environment. This in itself has been a heck of an inspiration to me. The fact that several of the highest leadership roles are filled by women was fabulous for me. I then realised that this shouldn’t be exciting or unique in a job where the majority of the employees are women, surely the majority of the leadership roles would naturally be taken by women.
In my job as a nurse I feel quite confident. I love what I do, I’m surrounded by inspiring women, it’s a nurturing environment for career development, and thanks to the mentoring of some senior staff at a national level in the organisation I work for, I’m setting out to start towards my masters next year.

On the other side of the coin, I also volunteer for an organisation where only 17% of the volunteers are women, and those who are out in the field rather than manning the phones, doing logistics, or helping behind the scenes are even rarer.
It’s an interesting contrast. I work with a large number of men who are wonderful, and welcoming, and supportive. There are also a scary number who genuinely believe that women are less able in a myriad of ways, at achieving what they need to, to accomplish the job we do.

I have had colleagues deliberately give me incorrect information, hoping I would make a fool of myself; with the explanation that “I should know what I’m doing, and if I don’t, I should know to ask for more information” like that is some sort of brilliant learning experience.

I’ve been in a CPR course and when I asked a perfectly valid clarifying question, to ensure the whole group understood a point, a man talked down to me and explained it slower in exactly the same way, when he KNEW that I am a specialist registered nurse, yet somehow the fact that he had done a first aid course before made him more qualified.

I was told in class that because I had done well in a test one day I could be a  “because we let women be now.”

I’ve almost wet myself on duty because the male members of a team can pee on the go, discretely, and I was too stubborn to ask that we stop at a rest room, I didn’t want to be the one “holding everyone back.”

It took me twice as long as the men I was inducted with to get onto a team, and the explanation was given to me that “only one woman per team”, which turned out to be a blatant lie, and to this DAY I have no idea whether the guy in just didn’t like me, or whether it was my gender holding me back.

When I sat my first major exam I was told I “did well for a girl” by one of my particularly patronising colleagues.
It wouldn’t have upset me so much but I got 100%
I didn’t do well for a “girl”. I did the BEST ANYONE COULD DO.
That made me realise I needed to stop worrying what people thought because the best I could possibly be, in their eyes would still be followed by “for a girl”.

Every day I step through the doors of my volunteer job I am 100% READY.
My uniform is correct, I have the right equipment, I’ve checked everything twice, I’ve reviewed my notes, and planned what I want to learn on my shift.
I think about what I know, and how I can professionally convey that.
I worry, that they will realise that I don’t belong there, or I will give them an excuse to hold me back. I worry that I would give some legitimacy to the claims that women don’t belong out there in the practical side of the organisation.

They are two very different work-places and I am two very different people at each place.

If I’m honest, I’m probably superficially a better employee at my volunteer job. I’m so scared of losing my place, or ruining it for other women, I try SO HARD. But I’m also twitchy, and when I’m asked a question I assume I don’t know the answer, rather than stopping to think whether I do.
I’ve been told I’m not good enough in enough ways, that in the back of my head my own inner voice has started echoing it. And this doesn’t make me a better worker overall.

At my nursing job I think outside the square, I innovate, I stick my neck out to take risks that have resulted in excellent learning programmes and quality projects, I work overtime, I go the extra mile, because I LOVE it. I know I’m good at it, and I know people know I am good at it. A bit of a self-fulfilling prophesy.

I think the important thing that has helped me, is realising that my “real” job has less gossip, less nastiness, less catty behaviour and less clicky exclusive groups of friends. It has a better learning environment, stronger mentoring, a bigger support network, and a higher calibre of expectations of learning.
And that is the majority women.
Women: The people my volunteer job tells me in a myriad of ways (very few of them directly) should not really be good workers.
Through working two very different jobs, I am learning what women bring to the work force, and the fact that because we are held to a higher standard, we generally reach it.
I am learning that I can choose the stereotypes I inhabit.
I am starting to understand that worrying about what other people think of me only holds me back, no-one else.

I’m also learning what women are doing to themselves to hold things back.

Please understand that I believe that systemic gender imbalance holds the majority of the control in issues like the glass ceiling, wage disparity, and lack of female leadership. But there are a few things we do to sabotage ourselves.
In my jobs I have had the responsibility of job interviews.
I have NEVER had to ask any male candidates about their role in a project, it is the primary information that they give as part of the spiel about something they worked on.
Often women will talk up a projects OUTCOME, and when I do ask about a female candidate’s role, it was a lead one, and yet they leave that out.
Please trumpet your achievements. Tell people. Write them on your websites, mention it in job interviews. If you are shy about it, Stick it in a brag book you can look through when you start doubting yourself again.

When asked about pay I have only had 1 female candidate in a job interview already have a number in mind. A lot of the time women aren’t getting less pay rises, we are starting on a lower salary. Why? Because your boss will pay you as little as you will accept, and if we don’t know our own value, why should we expect our bosses to?

As for worrying we don’t belong where we are,  or we don’t know enough…
How many people have heard of the dunning-kruger effect?
Dunning and Kruger proposed that, for a given skill, incompetent people will:
· tend to overestimate their own level of skill;
· fail to recognize genuine skill in others;
· fail to recognize the extremity of their inadequacy;
· if they are exposed to training for that skill, they eventually do recognize and acknowledge their own previous lack of skill.

Next time you are worried that you don’t know enough, aren’t good enough, have too much still to learn. Don’t panic. That insight is probably a really good sign that you are starting to get up there in your understanding, because you know how much you don’t know– if that makes any sense at all.
So next time that nagging feeling in the back of your head says “I don’t deserve this, or I don’t belong here” please try to remember that most other people, especially those who have been raised to be put in a different space in the world, feel that way for some reason or another.

Now we have realised that huge numbers of people pushing up far above and beyond where “their place” is, lets continue sticking our necks out, supporting each other, and looking past where we “should be” to where we “could be”.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Auckland Libraries brings the Fun!!

Keen to see the library buildings used for more than just reading and storage? Want to take back your local library with an event that makes you THINK?
Join Auckland Libraries as they question, challenge and celebrate sex and sexuality on the page, stage and screen with a special series of thought-provoking events for over-18s.
Dark night celebrates diversity across the borders of gender, sexual identity, and sexual orientation. I for one would love a strong feminist group in the audience, especially for the Thursday night panel, and the Dark Night cabaret, where audience input have the capacity to mould the tone of the evening.
The events are as follows, further info can be found at the Auckland Libraries Website.
I will see you there! - Scube.

Shame, a film.
Academy Cinema (next to Auckland city Library)
Auckland Library's events series "Dark night" launches with a special screening of Shame, a portrait of sex addiction starring Michael Fassbender and Carey Mulligan. Introduced beforehand by a panel discussion with psychologist Dr. Pani Farvid.
Price $10 or $16 - including a drink. Book online at 

Shelley Munro
Wednesday 26 June, 6pm
Leys Institute, Ponsonby
Join erotic romance author Shelley Munro in conversation.

The new erotica?
Central City Library, Whare Wananga, Level 2
800hrs Thursday 27th June.
From Fifty shades of grey to erotic fan fiction and the new burlesque, how has erotica changed at the dawn of the 21st century? A panel discussion with Dylan Horrocks, Sam Orchard, Karen Tay, and Tosca Waerea

Dark Night Cabaret
Grey Lynn Library

A night of sultry, saucy cabaret that includes burlesque performers and Fringe Festival stars, alongside frank explorations of sex and sexuality in fact and fiction.
Scuba Nurse will be Hosting the Q&A section of the night with the answers to all those sticky questions... If you would like to submit a question - go to Twitter and use the hash tag #DarkNight or drop the auckland library a line on Facebook.

Call Grey Lynn Library to book on (09) 374 1314.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Winners can’t be victims?

Massive trigger warning for rape and assault, domestic violence, and victim blaming.
Please note that I repeatedly use the term Victim in this piece. This is a term a lot of people choose to leave behind in their recovery from assault, domestic violence and rape, for the purpose of moving on, and empowerment.
Please understand that the term is used to point out the power imbalance in the scenarios given, and is not meant with disrespect.

Much love to those survivors out there.


There has been a lot of discussion on gaming and feminist sites around the rape joke at Microsoft's E3 Reveal. I have a few points I want to make.

Firstly, those two people were supposed to be showing how FUN gaming is, how great the new console is, and why people should buy it. They were supposed to be the epitome of what is awesome about gaming.
And rape jokes were a part of that.
This rubbish is so ingrained in the culture that not only did it happen, but it happened at a “show” about how fun gaming is. Could you isolate some of your audience any more if you TRIED?

My second point is less about this specific incident, but about the responses to it.

I found something very interesting with regards to the response in support of the “joke”.
In multiple cases, they pointed out that “in the end” the woman gamer won.


Can someone please explain to me what about winning makes an assault/rape/victimisation less real or awful?
Yes, that woman eventually won the bout (don’t even get me started on staging that) but at a point in time, the other gamer made a reference that most people in the room, certainly any rape victim understood.

“Just let it happen. It will be over soon."

There are phrases that I am very, verycareful not to use with patients. One of those phases is “it will be over soon.”There are few things more triggering than hearing the exact phrase an attacker used, coming out of the mouth of someone you thought was safe. I can only imagine that then hearing a ROOM of people laughing at that phrase would be truly sickening.

So I think some people agree with me that that particular phrase was Not OK. So what about the fact that she won, suddenly made it ok?

What about a woman turning around and stabbing her rapist makes what he did less of a rape?
What about winning a court case and sending some pack rapists to jail makes a teenage girl less of a victim, and more of someone who “stole someone’s future’?
What about a successful life makes someone an unbelievable victim?

The minimisation of the trauma of assault due to surrounding circumstances is common.

“She was asking for it”
“They were friends for a long time”
“He had a history of promiscuity”

But this whole “winners aren’t victims”thing is more subtle, and just as dangerous.

Bad things happen to successful people. Ask anyone who works with domestic violence cases. Some of the shiniest homes with the biggest incomes have hidden bruises inside.
People who are in the spotlight due to great success are not immune to the cruelties of the world.

And this is REALLY important people. The person who is smart, and eloquent, and able to fight back is NO LESS a victim than those who cannot. Rape is still rape.

It doesn’t matter how many fights, or court cases, or reputations you win back.
The person who perpetrated an assault, did something WRONG.
No matter how many rights happen after that, the wrong doesn’t go away.

Quit making this about the victim's actions, before, after or during the event. Let’s start looking at the perpetrators.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Equality, the final frontier. Where no man has gone before?

 I came out of the latest Star trek film feeling angry, and let down.
In a film set in a future that is supposed to be pretty damn idealistic (great tech, multicultural/multi-planetary teams, etc.) this film was behind the times NOW.
This film just felt like one big "Male Gaze" to the point where at times I felt physically pushed out of the moment of enjoying a story by the horrible realisation this film wasn’t made for people like me (that's 50% of the population BY THE WAY film industry). The concept of a film so overtly made by men for men is problematic for several reasons, sexual objectification being one, but my beef is that women have ZERO independent character development; they are defined solely by their relation to the male characters. Meanwhile male characters are given development both within their romance and out of it.
Urgh, it turns out that it is not space that is the final unexplored frontier, it is equality.
First up, in a meeting of senior leaders –out of all the entire table of a variety of species discussing plans, 5 women (mixed races and alien). A few characters are overtly alien. There are Eleven white humanoid men.
Really? In the future, we STILL don’t have gender equality, or racial diversity? REALLY?
Uhura has always been a favourite of mine, and I was looking forward to seeing her in this film. Unfortunately she only had one token scene that didn’t revolve around her holding up the concept of Spock's humanity. She bravely negotiated in perfect Klingon, and appealed to the enemy’s' sense of honour to try and save her team. it didn’t work, but it was a neat moment of one of the team showing their true colours and value. Pity it was the only interesting thing she got to do.
The first scene to make me realise that this movie was NOT going to make me happy, was the arrival of Carol Marcus. A young female member of the team is introduced to her new captain (and obviously, boss) – Kirk. On her arrival to the ship Kirk overtly eyes her up and down, makes a loaded comment about how he is happy she is on board, and proceeds to hit on her for the duration of the film.
So just to reiterate, a man who is responsible for hundreds of lives in a workplace people have to LIVE at, he feels confident enough in his own power, and consequently, her lack of power, to sexually harass her within minutes of being introduced.
When I mentioned this to people the overwhelming, and disappointing response was that the action was in character with Kirk, who is to be honest, a bit of a knob. He is endearingly reckless, thoughtless, and laddish. That’s what “makes” the film.
Talk about missing the point.
In the future, there will still be risk takers and creeps, I can totally understand that. But in this film, Kirk didn’t force her back to his cabin to marry him, and consecrate the marriage to make it legal to make an alliance with his commander’s family… why? Because it’s a ridiculous, outdated concept, based on the B.S. model that women are chattel to be passed from father to husband in some sort of sick ownership.
Star trek is set in the future. The future where I hope fervently the idea that workplace harassment and the idea that any leader has the right to treat a staff member like they are there for their enjoyment is ALSO not ok. JUST as silly as the idea of a man "owning" a woman.
We don’t just stop having creeps in this world, the entire culture around what those jerks are allowed to do to other people changes. This is evidenced by all human rights changes ever.
In the future, all will be equal, right? Star trek was the first show to have a woman of African descent in a non –menial role*. It is SUPPOSED to take strides and be forward thinking – the 1968 episode "Plato's Stepchildren" Uhura and Kirk kiss. The episode is popularly cited as the first example of a scripted inter-racial kiss on United States television.
This show is supposed to be thoughtful, provocative, and philosophical.
I’m well aware that the show has been problematic before now, and will continue to need to improve, but to see that NO progress has been made in this latest film, is as much of a kick in the guts as finding this out was…

*how the actress herself was treated is more problematic – Nichols was the only performer in the cast who wasn't originally offered a contract, but instead worked on a week-to-week basis.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Angelina Jolie, cancer, and why you might have privilege too...

I got severely shitty with the large number of “check your privilege” tweets on twitter today about Angelina Jolie’s news that she had opted for preventative bilateral total mastectomies due to her genetic risk for breast cancer. My reasons for being so grumpy went deeper than 140 characters could explain, so I kept my mouth shut and waited until I got home to write this.
The fundamental issue I had is that there is only one reason to have a preventative mastectomy, and that is to avoid a condition that could KILL you. So if you are worried about anything other than survival, when you read about Angelina Jolie’s choice, Check YOUR privilege.
YES, that’s right. If you didn’t get a cold fucking chill down the back of your neck, and that little voice in your head saying “I know why she did that”. CHECK YOUR FUCKING PRIVILEGE.

I’m not saying that you haven’t had to think about death, dying, or risk to your life.
In fact, most people, by the time they hit 50 have probably had some form of lump or bump, or scary moment that has meant they have sat down and written a will, and thought about their life-span and how long it may be.

But MOST of us had those moments thrust upon us.
I didn’t go out looking for trouble. It came to me.
My friend didn’t expect to find a fatal cancer, it was caught by her lovely GP.
My Uncle didn’t expect to start having seizures for no reason – but he did.
And THEN, and only then, did we start to take action to do with our own mortality.

It takes courage to look death in the face and make sensible choices. To take steps to decide to fight. Perhaps even to stop fighting, and make the decision to turn and face it and make the most of time remaining.
It takes bravery.
It also takes time, and support and endless cups of tea and good people.
A lot of people don’t look.
They avoid check-ups.
They skip prostate exams.
They delay mammograms.
They don’t visit the doctor, because “everyone has blood in their poop sometimes.”*
They make excuses, they look the other way. They avoid the issue.

Because this shit is HARD people.

And this woman didn’t just deal with something when it came to her, she anticipated it, sought out the hard truth about her mother’s death and faced her own mortality. Took some MASSIVE steps to avoid a bad outcome in the future, and has reduced her risk.
But this took courage, and the insight that her body wasn’t in her control. That her genetic code could eventually turn against her.
A real understanding that she could die.

And that’s not a privilege, that’s life. But I think you missed the point if you are worried about who paid.

*they don’t. Always check with your doc if your poop has changed or you notice blood.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Doing the wrongest thing for the right reasons.

Several times in my career I have had to do things to a patient so cruel that I was physically ill afterwards. Both times they were lifesaving measures. Something that made the difference between life and death, and something they had no memory of later.
At the time though, they experienced it, fought it, and lived that horrible moment.
But they lived, with good outcomes. They and their family were grateful for the care we gave and the interventions that were used.
I still occasionally have nightmares about one of them.
In my day-to-day practice I hold a person’s hand and talk soothingly to them until they are unconscious, whereupon I make a remarkable transition from a kind hearted person to looking at the patient to a nurse seeing them as a puzzle needing to be solved. Intubation tube in. Catheterisation done. Patient positioned as required for surgery. Dislocate the hip for better access. Suction. Diathermy. Sutures.
We do awful things to people
Well documented, fully researched, best practice, global standards of awfulness.
It’s not until I am at the pub and make a flippant comment related to “burning the patient” and have to explain that it was deliberate and totally ok, that I realise how truly messed up what we do is.
Actually, what we do isn’t messed up, it’s how we get our heads around it that is messed up. Everyone varies in how they cope. But I PROMISE that if you know and love a nurse, that they disassociate in some way, in order to do what needs to be done on a daily basis. The alternative is the disturbing concept that they are ok with doing what they do to a person that they get to know.
So next time you ask someone who cares about you to look at you like a patient, and diagnose or help you Please don’t get upset if their face goes oddly blank, and they give their answers in a way that doesn’t seem entirely like them. And do not get cranky with us because we are unsympathetic. You are asking us to do our job. To look at your body as a just a sum of its parts, a puzzle to be solved, a problem to be fixed. We can’t CARE how it feels. We can empathise, but not sympathise.
It’s an important differentiation.
They are looking at you like a patient, because if we cared when we had to do what we do, it would rip us to tiny pieces every day.