Sunday, November 21, 2010

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, November 19, 2010

My take on the “Birth Or Not” website.

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

I was trying to figure out why they have bothered?

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

So why this?
What has been missing so far?

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

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

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

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

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

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

*The prolife activists on the internet

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

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

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

Shame on you.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And lastly, my comment,

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

For a follow up opinion piece I wrote click here.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

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

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

The Negatives...

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

@ike3467: #thingswomendontdoanymore buy condoms

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

@Futuristic24: #thingswomendontdoanymore use their mind

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

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


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

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

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

@ftwprez: #thingswomendontdoanymore give a fuck

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

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

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

@kwhitfield5: #thingswomendontdoanymore be honest.

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

@JordanIgth: #thingswomendontdoanymore WEAR THERE OWN HAIR.

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

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

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

The Positives.

phased_bemused Get legally raped within marriage, since 1991

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

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

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

Humanists Launch Largest National Advertising Campaign Critical of Religious Scripture

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

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

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

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

Who is questioning whom?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Not fair assumptions.
Certainly not positive.

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

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I looked lovely.
Knock out lovely.

Attract too much attention lovely.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In fact, I still do.

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