Dymocks Reading Challenge – 04

Dymocks Reading Challenge – 04

I wanted to publish this post yesterday, 26 January – Australia Day Invasion Day, Change The Date Day. But honestly, I couldn’t find the words to finish it. So this post sat in my drafts, adrift, wanting conclusion. If that isn’t a metaphor for the racism in Australia, I don’t know what is.

I first heard about this book during Mr Grant’s interview with Osher Günsberg on his podcast in 2019. Here’s a screen grab of the episode from my phone, you can find the full conversation here. * Edited to add an article published by Stan Grant yesterday on the ABC; On Australia Day, how do we define national identity? Or is the exercise too dangerous?

Stan Grant, Better Than Yesterday episode 285

I’ve finished reading Stan Grant’s Australia Day, a follow-up to Taking to My Country. When I emigrated to Melbourne in 2008, I was horrified at the endemic racism shown in Australia – but the vitriol and bile specifically reserved for Indigenous Australians is on a whole other level. One of the most gifted players of his generation of AFL(M) players, Adam Goodes, was hounded out the game he loved playing. He called out being called an ape by a supporter at a game in 2013, she was removed from the ground. However, the most rampant of media decried him for doing it, as it was a 13 year old who yelled the racist slur at him. Her ‘future is at stake’, she ‘was just a child’, bayed the right wing, white, insufferable old male commentators. Never mind that in his last playing season, Mr Goodes had probably had a gut full of racism by then. What about his future when he was 13?

I sit here on Wadawurrung and Dja Dja Wurrung land. My husband and I are white, we are privileged as we both work, we have access to health care, we have a house, car, food in the cupboard, we’re saving up to build a house. We want to name it, but what do you call a house on stolen land? Even if the white laws mean that we ‘own’ that stolen land.

Using whiteness as our charger, we rode roughshod over indigenous areas worldwide, not just across Australia, but America, Canada, India. Not only the British, but that’s where my heritage lines are, so what I hold accountable. As Eddie Izzard said in her stand-up, Dressed to Kill, “We have a flag.”

We all used to live in harmony with the land, until someone long ago decided that owning the land was great, and the more land they had was even better. Because that meant wealth, as the price of land will only ever go up; which flows quickly into greed. Before that decision, now lost to the mists of time; we all only needed to work and live on the land as a community. There’s even a name for it in Britain, landed gentry; on the rung below peers, but still demanding of people to work for them, pay rent to them, on the land they had lived on, but was now bought and sold from underneath them. Sound familiar?

Yes that is a very simplistic view of the world, but it does explain how the Duke of Devonshire was able to own half of Eastbourne.

People in Australia are often furious that Chinese investors are buying up cattle stations, or investment apartments off the plan, that then sit empty with a national housing shortage, pricing locals out the market. *coughs in WASP*

One of our ‘honours’ this year went to Gina Rinehart, for services to ‘mining, culture and sport’. She pledged lots of money to the Olympic fund, so apparently that cancels out everything else her company has lobbied for. Including, but not limited to the installation of roadblocks to stall any ecological progress in attempts to restore the annihilated land, or to reduce carbon emissions. Only in Australia would you be given the highest honour for mining.

So here I am, incandescent with rage and fury at another bevvie of right wing, white, insufferable old men. Determined to carry on regardless, gerrymandering voting districts in a desperate bid to keep their tenuous hold on power and land. [Although, Grace Tame‘s face during the photos with Scott Morrison was a sight to behold. Ms Tame was our outgoing Australian of the Year, and a fierce warrior she is too.]

Land that was stolen, never ceded. Land that sustained life in harmony for over 40,000 years. The Indigenous Australia map is beautiful. The boundaries are not fixed, it is a representation of the cultural groups, nations and languages from different areas of the country. It’s a record of what has been stolen.

Stan Grant asks in this book, “Can we heal the wounds of the past? … After the struggle can we find a peace that all can share?” I don’t know, but while right-wing politics is in power, it’s unlikely. However, along with the great resignation, the past few years have awakened something.

I sit in shame at the actions of the past. I will continue to learn from elders how to repair the future, working with elders emerging to support the present. None of us can change what has happened, but all of us have a responsibility to take better care and make amends. Please don’t take my word for it, read Australia Day yourself. Learn and understand about why January the 26 should not be celebrated. Change the date.

Revisiting, #MeToo

Revisiting, #MeToo

Cover of Tarana Burke's book, Unbound: My Story of Liberation and the Birth of the Me Too Movement

I’m reading Tarana Burke’s Unbound: My Story of Liberation and the Birth of the Me Too Movement. It’s not an easy read; but the interviews Tarana’s been giving have told me, the book is a necessary one. It’s also a book that Brené Brown said in their conversation on Unlocking Us, “You start reading as one person, and end as another.”

I’ve archived my personal blog, but have been ruminating on cross-pollinating some posts to this website. On my walk this morning with Tarana’s words ringing in my head, and indelibly across my heart, here’s the first post I’m re-sharing.

Any posts I add to this website from my personal blog will be labelled ‘Revisiting’.


Originally published on 17 December 2017.

As we approach the festive season, it doesn’t matter what people wear, how they act or what they do. If they look uncomfortable, leave them alone. If they say ‘No.’ leave them alone. ‘No’ is a complete sentence, it does not mean ‘Convince me’. Don’t be one of those people who gets so drunk they think it’s funny to lurch, lean, grope, manhandle or even vomit over someone else.

– On the tube in London, a day trip up to go shopping. Probably the Circle Line as that swung past Victoria. I feel a hand on my bum, it brushed past it at first, then slowly crept round to touch it (me) properly. I grab hold of the hand, hold it aloft and ask “Does anyone know who’s this is? I’ve just found it on my arse”

– On the dance-floor in a variety of clubs, the rooms are hot, dark and people are rammed together. It would be an unusual weekend of clubbing if one or other of my friends didn’t get groped. Note to all you youngsters; talk to the club staff and bouncers, get to know them, be nice, polite and friendly – they’ll help you out no end. Until then, wear trousers as much as possible so you don’t get an attempted fingering on the dance floor.

– Drunk Portsmouth football fans on the train home after winning the FA Cup, smoking and drinking on the train. I’ve sat in the front carriage deliberately as when I get on the train at Waterloo, it’s nearly evening. The drunk fans start heckling and abusing me. Knock on the driver’s door to ask for help as I can’t walk past them out the carriage. He looks past me and does nothing as ‘I’m just the driver’ I ask about the guard instead and get told he’ll message him. No help arrives, heckling gets worse. Do I get off and wait for another train loaded with more drunk fans, I knock on the drivers’ door again. Ask if should I pull the emergency brake? He said if I did ‘It’s not an emergency sweetheart’ so I’d be fined. When I raise an incident form with South West Trains, I get told that “For the safety of their staff, the guard and driver chose not to approach the men on the train”. Luckily the Police were more sympathetic. Yes I should have called 999 (or 000, or 911).

– ‘You can’t refuse me, don’t you know that you stupid bitch.’ Yes, this did end up in One Last Hundred Chances

– ‘Come and take these notes, but write long-hand, I want to look at your legs.’

– ‘It’ll only take a minute, no-one will know.’

– ‘For a good-looking girl, you can look awful. You really should wear make-up every day.’

– The primary school swimming teacher who’d ‘check’ on how the girls were doing getting changed afterwards.

– That until I’d had counselling, hypnosis and EFT I couldn’t bear people breathing in my ear, but the smell of Brylcreem can still make me want to vomit.

– I’ve also lost count of men who think it’s funny or that other people won’t mind if they get their penis out in public. “Is that all you’ve got?” usually works well, or “Do you do that in front of your mother?”

enough is enough

enough is enough

We know it is ‘not all men’.

We know that he was a ‘just bad un’ in the Metropolitan Police force.

This is endemic and it has to stop. Politicians have to stop pissing about diluting rights and step up, because the cuts you’ve made to services and the lack of action is causing violence against women worldwide is at a crisis point. But when every single woman you know has either been verbally, physically or sexually assaulted; when do you say – this has to stop?

When it affects your family? Because someone in your family will have already been followed and made to feel uncomfortable when they were out shopping or walking.

When it affects a friend? Because your friend would have already laughed awkwardly at a joke about what they were wearing, saying, doing. When your friend tried to get away because she felt uncomfortable, they would have already been told to ‘lighten up love’ or ‘it might never happen’ or ‘frigid cow, can’t you take a joke?’

When it affects your sister? Because your sister has already been leered at in public. And now arseholes are putting tiny cameras in changing rooms and bathrooms, because leering at us in public isn’t enough for some people.

What about when your daughter has to have a tracking app on their phone active all the time, only wears one earphone, carries her keys in her hand as a weapon. They try not to walk at nigh;, but if they’re on a zero-hour contract and need to eat that week, they might not have the money for the bus if they get called into work a late shift, or the money for a taxi, an uber or a lyft. Even then, they could be locked into the back of the car and taken, drugged, abused, killed.

Please, as a male, link together that when you don’t call out behaviour in a bar, or in a chat group, or online because you are scared about what could happen to you; you have to multiply that fear for being a woman. Multiply that fear again for being a woman of colour. Multiply that fear again by being gender fluid or trans.

Intersectionality is a fairly new concept, but the data points are growing. If you are a straight, white, male, good for you. You’ve hit jackpot in this patriarchal, sexist, racist, misogynistic society. The chances are you are probably teflon coated, because you have an army of cronies who will vouch for your ‘banter’. You probably think the law and rules don’t matter to you, because there are a buffet of people in suits who will line up to defend your actions; while dragging the name, reputation and image of your victim through the mud.

If you’re a person who identifies themself on the LGBTQI+ spectrum, or is a person of colour, anything you do just to live in this world will be taken and used against you. Twisted as being corrupt or harmful to ‘the poor children’. Expressing yourself through make-up, ew! Wearing and having your hair, inappropriate! Falling over and hitting your head on a wall in your cell, you’re drunk and we won’t take adequate care of you; in fact we’ll drag you over your bed by one arm damaging your body further. Rainbows, that is the devils work. We must protect the children!

Although the churches and institutions will close ranks and protect the people in power to protect their reputation first.

It is not all men, but it will take all of us to stand up and call it out. To say ‘that is not ok’ and to be strong, resolute and not back down in the face of adversity. Because, we’re done.

We’re done with this bullshit.

We’re done with women being told what they need to do to protect themselves, instead of men being told to not be arseholes.

We’re fed up of being scared all the time.

We’re tired of being told we need to look like plastic dolls with our hair extended, lips blown up, false nails, fake-tanned orange skin, eye lashes extended, blue-white teeth, dieted to the bone, but with breast and butt implants, and don’t forget your need to draw your eyebrows on if they’re not up to expectations.

I want to go to the gym, do my work out and not be expected to arrive in full make-up. Or to have to fend off people who want to ‘spot me’. Or tell me that I’m doing it wrong, ‘here let me correct manhandle you’. Or film me.

I want to go for a massage without the workers there having to put signs up asking you to leave your underwear on.

I want to walk listening to an audiobook with headphones in both ears.

I want to feel safe to try clothes on or use a public bathroom, without having to check there’s a camera in the cubicle or hiding under the toilet seat.

I want to run to the shops without make-up on and not be told ‘you like tired today love, have you tried putting some make-up on’.

I want to be able to concentrate on something when I’m at work or out without being told to ‘smile’.

I want to be heard in meetings the first time I speak, not to have what I’ve said repeated later and then agreed upon as a good idea.

I want men to be able to stand up against a bully and be cheered on, not to feel scared that they’re going to get hit, knifed or shot.

I want everyone at any training session or match for any sport who falls over to be able to take note of what happened to them, without being yelled at to ‘get up you girl’.

I want professional male soccer players to stop falling over and pretending they’re hurt to get an advantage. You’ve got enough of an advantage.

I want trans people to be able to compete safely in their chosen sport.

I want men to feel their feelings and be brave enough to ask for help, instead of thinking they need to toughen up.

I want men to do household chores when they see dishes need to be done, not because they’ve been asked to do them. Because you are supposed to be an equal in the relationship, not a delegate.

I want people to be able to trust that if a police officer shows their ID, they know they are in the police force.

I want organisations and politicians to stop hiding their money in offshore accounts, so everyone can afford to go to the doctor, dentist, a good public school.

Times Up.