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be good to yourself.

Month

February 2016

Music to #FreeKesha by

It’s a ripple around the world that many of us are still reeling from: a two-year legal battle ended recently for pop supernova Kesha-certainly to be confused with pop supernova Ke$ha-whereby she sought to terminate her contract with Sony based the mental mistreatment and sexual abuse she suffered at the hands of producer Lukasz Gottwald- to be confused with producer Dr. Luke. She lost. Lack of evidence and Sony’s investment in her career cited as reasons to continue trafficking Kesha in the music industry. The photo of her collapsing into tears when the verdict was read has accompanied many a #FreeKesha tribute – led almost exclusively by female singers.

There is much to be finger-pointed as to why male musicians have maintained mum on this, but it’s entirely possible that it continues to be empathy that raises female musician’s voices, because this is by no means the first time a female singer has cloaked her own abuse in her own recording sessions. So while some of us commiserate, other plot, others do whatever it takes to absolve themselves of any responsibility and carry on their sleight-of-patriarchy lifestyle, here’s a #FreeKesha playlist to keep us pushing to see change in the systemic abuse of female creatives, caught between using their talents and tribulations to enrich the world and so few opportunities to do so on a large scale.

#10: Beyoncé – Listen

 

 

It didn’t seem too coincidental that soon after producing this song for the Dreamgirls movie, arguably this generation’s most powerful woman decided to separate from the man who had guided her music career: her own father. The flack she copped was intense for deciding to establish her independence and be a role model for aspiring female businesswomen. It would have taken monumental courage to fire her own father, and her success since the move is a true indication of how important it is to pursue your intuition at all costs.

#9: Rihanna -What Now

 

 

Their relationship was as profitable as it was powerful, until suddenly her battered face flooded the internet. The boycott of Chris Brown was sh0rt-lived and stories of how he was abused have surfaced in contextual isolation of what he did to Rihanna. She went back to him briefly, and upon her leaving him again, spoke to Barbara Walters “When I realised that my selfish decision for love could result in some young girl getting killed? I could not be easy with that…I couldn’t be held responsible for telling them ‘go back'”.

#8: Alanis Morrissette – Right Through You

 

 

It speaks for itself mostly, about how women are objectified by the domination of men in power of various industries. The opportunity for men to call shots according to personal interests is compounded by the fact that there’s no-one to contest them, because they’re surrounded by their peers. This song was the first callout of this kind I ever heard, over twenty years ago and how much has changed?

#7: Lily Allen – Hard Out Here

 

 

A bold song, a Meredith-Brooks-esque reclamation of the B-word. Hopefully by this point in the playlist, you’re not losing hope but galvanising and knowing that it’s all our part to play when it comes to equity in all industries. Whether Allen still has that hope is unclear as she’s retired several times in the face of what is happening to the music industry as a result of profiteering labels and consumer piracy. Buy music people, and not just Taylor Swift’s.

#6: Lana Del Rey – F*cked My Way Up to the Top

 

 

Lana Del Rey spoke in an interview about how this song is meant more to callout public perception that her career should be credited to her sexual relationships with music industry figures over her talent. Del Rey doesn’t deny sleeping around, but was very clear that not one of those relationships led to her record deal. Does this do more damage than good? You be the judge.

#5: Kelly Rowland – Dirty Laundry

Another former Destiny’s Child. Purely for its references to how Rowland’s long-term abusive relationship was long kept from the public eye by herself, her friends, her management team. The culture of victim-shaming does not discriminate.

#4: Tina Turner – Let’s Stay Together

 

Leaving husband and musical partner Ike Turner left Tina penniless and without access to her former hits. She released two albums post-split that performed dismally until this cover of Al Green began her climb back up to the top. I still find it a twist of the universe that a song about sticking with your partner through everything should re-launch a woman who left hers for the better. Perhaps ‘What’s Love Got to Do With It’ would’ve been a better inclusion.

#3: Tori Amos – Me & a Gun

 

Similar to Turner, Amos found herself in a state of needing reinvention when she returned to her compositional roots with the Little Earthquakes album. Me & a Gun is a raw rendition of what it feels and means to be assaulted, what strength of the mind it takes to recover. If there is one hope I have for the recording industry, it’s that they continue to allow these stories to be shared in this way. Now if they’d just stop being at the root of so many…

#2: Lady Gaga – ‘Til it Happens to You

 

A song that went unnoticed by most outside the Little Monster community, but an important message originally written for a film about rape on American college campuses. I imagine this one will need a few repeats for those who take liberty to comment about rape and sexual assault without having experienced it for themselves.

#1: Kesha – Don’t Think Twice, it’s Alright

Take as long as you need. Seek support if you need it, don’t let this event discourage you from having heart, taking a stand against those who would shame and suppress you. Men, women, trans, null, human, animal. We all can make changes if we step beyond our own fear and look at how we can lead by example in our homes, workplaces, schools, stores, streets.

If you are experiencing violence or suffering, do not hesitate to call 1800-RESPECT (737 732) or Lifeline on 13 11 14. If you know or suspect someone going through trauma, you can contact these services too to be empowered to reach out and show your support.

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“Don’t masturbate your relationship” and other advice I’ve given couples

Being gay and single isn’t a walk in the park. Especially at weddings, christenings, Christmas lunch, work functions, in actual parks…but for some reason the amount of insight you gain on relationships when you spend a lot of time studying them from the other side of frosted glass a la The Little Match Girl, you tend to pick up a few things. So as my gift to the people who actually read my stuff, as Valentine’s Day comes to a close on one half of the planet and kicks off its reign of terror over the other, I present to you some of the most common advice I dish out to couples of all kinds. xoxo.

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#1 You teach people how to treat you

I don’t think a friend of mine who has ever been in a relationship hasn’t heard this from me. You’ve all been walking through a supermarket and seen a parent do the dance with their child about what they can’t just take off the shelves. The child begs, pleads, holds their breath, cries, tantrums, bargains, begs again, threatens and eventually the parent caves. We single people stroll off with our mi goreng filled baskets shaking our heads because we know that the little genius has worked out how to get what they want and get away with what it took to get it.

I’m not saying your relationship is comparable to parent-child but I am saying that you can’t expect your partner to change their ways simply because you’ve grown tired of how they’re manipulating you or making you feel less than the awesome person you are. People get lazy, people cheat, people forget, people behave selfishly. When they do, you have to remember that how you react will colour their knowledge of you and give them a guide to how you’ll respond to certain things. So when things seem to be going wrong, don’t wait for disaster and don’t just knee-jerk everything. Talk it out, tell the truth.

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#2 There’s a difference between compromise and compromise

Relationships in trouble are frequently so due to the inability to learn the subtle difference between these identical words. Every individual is unique, thank goodness, and we each have through life experience, upbringing, social development among other factors fashioned ourselves into a person with core values, deal-breakers and the characteristics that make us, well, us-the jawbreakers if you will! Around those core things we’ve got a vortex of trends and friends and trivia, all the little things that make us shiny and even more unique from one another- the sprinkles! It is bound to happen that when relationships happen, the spark that ignites the passion and connection is based on a chemical reaction of what is similar and what’s different about the people involved. And this chemical reaction is always rebalancing and recalibrating to maintain the relationship’s stability.

But we aren’t chemicals, we’re human and we have the ability to start arguing about how the balance should work, we start minimising the value of certain elements to the mix. Here’s where the difference between compromising the core stuff, and compromising the little stuff is really important. People ought to be flexible enough to let the sprinkles in their life be mutable, but the jawbreakers, they can’t be so easily moved. Without something to replace those orbs of sugar goodness, we’ll find ourselves becoming nothing but sprinkles, no substance, no code. Now I’m keen for a treat…

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#3 Don’t masturbate your relationship

Understanding one’s own sexuality is crucial to the ability to develop a strong and safe sexual life with your partner(s), or you may work out you just like doing it on your own. The trouble is, most people are looking for the same kind of gratification they give themselves and expecting another person to sync in with that. When they don’t meet the expectations we haven’t actually expressed because the fact you don’t reply with 10 minutes should tell them everything they need to know, you start to pull back. Remember that although you may know how to please yourself, figuratively, physically, there is a different set of gears and wires in the person/people opposite you so be sure to find out how you can work with that. Just because puzzle pieces have a toggle and a void doesn’t mean they fit together.

Further, if your relationship is focused on the outcome, like masturbation often is, you’re bound to end up as alone as you are when you do masturbate. Have you ever actually made love to yourself? Treated your own body the way you would another’s. Sure some of the bits are harder to reach but it’s worth remembering that connecting with your partner on whatever level should be to create as many contexts, new environments, different parties, conversations. The saying goes that the best relationships evolve from friendship (yet they also say don’t screw your friends), so find a way to get give-take-give-take going for a more lasting anything.

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#4 The best relationships are the ones you look back on, not forward to

If I had a dollar for every person who told me that they just want to meet someone they’re going to be with forever, or a dollar for every person who told me they won’t pursue a relationship because they don’t think it’s going to last more than a couple months, or a dollar for every person who told me they’re not looking for a relationship right now, golly would I be rich. If I had another dollar for every relationship that failed for those people, I’d be richer. In the same vein as #3, individuals who are looking too far ahead to enjoy the present will lose their relationship in the madness of how much opportunity and distraction is out there while you’re off fantasising about white fabrics on the third date.

On the other side of this, is the fact that something about turning your head to look back over your shoulder automatically turns on the rose-coloured lenses. Relationships that are over, and need to be over, somehow look so much better from the other side. Many people friends of mine called jerks one week somehow became “really sweet actually when he wanted to be” after three weeks. We all want to rush back to the familiar, and some relationships screw us up so bad we don’t know how to start over fresh. But in the same way you should avoid looking too far forward when something new opens up a chance at happiness – no matter how sustainable – don’t look at what you’re running from.

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#5 Work through it, not on it

Have you ever heard someone say “you know we’re going through some tough times but we’re working on it” and pulled that awkward emoji but on your actual face but on the inside face where they can’t see you? I have. Think about the language there, it’s as if the future of your relationship is something you have to isolate and remedy like a wart or a math test. Relationships are healthy for their flaws that couples trust in each other to live within, adapt around and emerge through. If your relationship is in the midst of a snag, don’t avoid it or put it in quarantine. Get Vicks Vapo-Rub on that shit and sweat it out.

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#6 Sex matters (in whatever way you have sex)

Some people have sex like the last call at Woodstock. Some have sex side-by-side one hand holding their lover, the other themselves. Some people have sex ten-strong, others gently and respectfully one-on-one. Some people have sex with their clothes on opposite sides of the room watching television and laughing at the same jokes. Our interpretation of sex as we step out of the conservative nineties to early noughties and into the educated-but-still-somehow-ignorant twenty-teens is evolving, as it should. Relationships are all about sex, but sex shouldn’t just be the getting naked and plugging your partner in some way. Sex should be taken as whatever way the people involved in the relationship connect on a level that is both intimate and unique to those people. Find out what makes you want to be with that person/people more than any other and nurture those elements of your connection. Give them growth and depth and transformation. These forms of intercourse are the keys to a thriving relationship.

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Remember that the strive for real love is shared among us all and all of us are equal when it comes to the vulnerability and humility, joy and passion, pain and change of love. Don’t be a stranger, don’t suffer in silence. Big love to you all.

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What might Australians learn from the political prowess of #Formation

When I woke up this morning, this picture was everywhere.

beyonce-formation-video The song is another step onward from her R&B hook-heavy silky-smooth hit-a-minute days, and the video a staple in the new era of visual statements and moving-picture-vision boards to deliver stream-of-conscious access points galore for the patron. Beyonce has spent a good amount of time and money in shaping a vortex of uber-cool around her. Releasing the I’m-grown-up now self-titled album all in one kamehame-ha motion. Now, much to relief of the more intellectual listener who once took pleasure in her release from discourse in favour a good dance-out, she gives us Formation. A track political and prideful of African-American heritage and the countless cultural neurological pathways it has borne in the collective conscious of the planet. Now onto my umpteenth listen, and seeing the ripples deepen on social media to now include the reaction videos (why?), acquisition and development or merchandising, and intimation of the styles into civilian expression, it becomes important we approach this article abiding by the following:

DO NOT APPROPRIATE FORMATION IN ANY WAY.

Formation is a moment to allow to swell in the one direction it needs to: for the safety and equality of black people and people with black heritage in America today who need to feel the solidarity of the world as they take on modern-day colonialism that a black President couldn’t even coerce the people to demolish. What it has done is brought scrutiny and compassion which must now be leveraged to see reforms and discipline delivered. Queen Bey isn’t the only leader of the pack, and it is not her responsibility to do the work. It is her privilege to inspire and activate the masses. So get onto that.

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All that being said, music has the unavoidable gift of endearing worldwide interaction, and it remains one of the most powerful forces for communication across the world that is still chiefly used to encourage minors to have sex and promote the interests of singers whose financial and fame statuses deliver false goals to the public. Meanwhile in Australia, there is opportunity in Formation to be reminded of components of our patchwork culture that need remedying.

What is the formation, ladies? Is it in the streets outside parliament? Is it postering businesses with no maternity leave policy? Is it breastfeeding your children en masse in a public park? Australian women are in coordinate step with the rest of the world when it comes to inequalities; feminist philosophies and concepts do their own job, but many have lost sight of the synonymic relationship between feminism and women’s rights. The latter should be your way of taking action. Write a blog, make an art, start a conversation out of nowhere, bring it up on dates and in strategic meetings.

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Beyond women’s rights, we too have systemic and endemic problems in how our native and black culture is liberated in this country. That is to say that beyond Deborah Mailman, Jessica Mauboy, Yothu Yindi and other celebrity faces, our intrinsic relationship with the acknowledged ‘custodians’ of this land is arguably null, apathetic, and tokenistic. Conversations I have about Indigenous inclusions in positions of influence involve the placement of individuals within white systems and conformation to the parameters set by whites in those environments. Is that why we’re afraid to become a Republic? Because we’d lose the excuse of being run by Brits to let Indigenous people actually contribute to lawmaking? Black people in our country die in custody too, they are minoritised and for all their marvellous offering to art and academics, the current selection criteria still cordon them off and siphon their inspiration. Australia’s Minister for Indigenous Affairs was born in England.

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One of the things I love most about the song is how the titular lyric could be read as “now let’s get information”. Education around here still leaves lightyears to be improved upon. Being that our proximity to much of the political, economic, cultural powers of the world is reduced, Australia has long been left behind and influences outdated before they start embossing outputs. But times are changing, and the role of Australia and Australians in contemporary everything is increasing year-by-year. Education must be brought up to code for this influence to flourish, for Australians to access the intellectual hives and resume a position of leadership like it had when it offered its women the vote years in advance of feet-dragging London empire. It was once the case that Australia was like the start-up company innovating around the cumbersome corporates like England, China and America. Now we’re a joke, caught up in politics more in touch with the investors than the actual voting public, and public opinion driven too easily by media and social media motivated by sales over a responsibility to inform.

So start reading smarter, start trying harder, start connecting deeper. If a nation is only as good as its people, then Australians as people had best reinvest in what our nation should be party to. If a nation is only as good as its leaders, then come election time Australians had best vote for the well-equipped, not the well-recognised. What formation you know you perform at your best to make the change, now is the time to get into it.

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