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Feminism

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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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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I said a bad word.

So this time last week I was in trouble on social media for using the c word. Simultaneously, an article I wrote about the impotence of domestic violence campaigns was reposted by a very prolific current affairs website. They printed the word ‘cunt’ in full, no asterisks, and although they’ve now replaced it with ‘imbecile’ and taken it off facebook, I was galvanised by their inclusion. All the people who called me misogynistic, hypocritical and the many more who just told anyone who’d read it how abominable the use of the word was didn’t seem to understand (or care to) as to why I used it. I’m going to do my best to explain.

Before I begin, I’d like to point out how disappointing it was to see people take one word out of an article and brandish it around in turn as a weapon against taking any responsibility for what the article was really about. You know what’s worse than the c word? People who beat their partners.

I had never thought critically about the word ‘cunt’ until I heard it being reclaimed in Eve Ensler’s ‘The Vagina Monologues’. It was one of MANY things I learned in that show about women and vaginas, and I wholeheartedly agreed that we should use the word with more reverence and celebration. Pity of it is, I seemed to be the only one who ever carried through on my oath, and this is when I discovered something fantastic:

‘Cunt’ is the most powerful word in the English language.

Am I wrong? Can you think of any word that sparks more controversy and passion? I genuinely believe that regardless of its origins, ‘cunt’ is still a word that in spite of being reclaimed by many a staunch feminist, is still regarded with hush and uncertainty. When I wrote an article about how important it was to take any steps necessary to end domestic violence by disrupting abusers, I could think of no better tool to disrupt than the word ‘cunt’. And I was 100% right. The article has now been shared 742 times, and commented on over 100 times which is pretty impressive for a first-time-not-about-Amy-Schumer writer.

Addressing the word’s origins, legitimate are concerns that we would give negative connotations to female genitalia to abuse some of the lowest forms of human. I do concede that had I chosen a different word, perhaps the point would have had a better chance to marinate, which was my hope for the piece.

To be honest, I couldn’t think of much to be more empowering than discursively-weaponising women in this manner, by the word ‘cunt’ activating its power to defend itself against this dreadful state of affairs. I offered several alternatives to people wanting to share it or quote it, but in the end all of them stuck with ‘cunt’, no asterisks. There is no way advertisers or organisations would use the c word in their campaigns, but by reading it in my article they might think twice about just how hard they’re pushing the boundaries and holding abusers accountable. That was the point.

I am ever reminded how powerful language is, and thankful to those who could see past language and indignation to the actual purpose of the piece. I’m amazed by what lengths people will go to avoid taking action, and continue to write in hopes that I will someday disrupt even them to step away from their screens and start making history.

 

Anti-domestic abuse campaigns aren’t working. It’s probably because they’re crap.

Sorry. But Australian campaigns to stop domestic violence are ineffective, pussyfooting, and some I’d say are even misogynistic. I’m a man, converted to the cause, haven’t touched anyone in anger ever except my brother and sister when we were kids, and sometimes when they take the last Tim Tam. I see these attempts we’re making to stem the entrenched inequality experienced by women in our society, and I think they’re all but useless. They’re not good enough.

Case in point: what family-abusing man is put off his anger issues and routine beatings by nail polish? What does this even mean? I presume the idea is to create an identifiable community of men to activate some sort of peer pressure to not hit women or children.

Here’s an idea: keep the photo of Matt Cooper or Jarryd Hayne, but instead of the manicure, perhaps offer the phrase “If you beat your child you’re a cunt of a human/imbecile/wantwit and don’t come to my games”? Feature Malcolm Turnbull in there with a “If you hit your wife you’re a cunt of a human/piece of shit/danger to society and if you’re found guilty in court we’re suspending your right to vote”? Chuck the Australian Federal Police Commissioner in there for good measure with the quote “If you murder your ex-partner in breach of a restraining order you’re a cunt of a human/asshat/waste of skin and you’re going to prison, and then you won’t come out again”. Who are we protecting here?

Another case for your submission: definitely more on track, and yet still far more focused on how terrible a boy’s going to feel if he starts his reign of terror over his relationships early. No point showing how things turn out for the victims of domestic violence: the likelihood of unstable employability, serious psychological problems, perpetuation of violent behaviour in children, and the list goes on.

How about you show clips of a kid in juvenile detention, and how seriously uncool life is in there. Show more clips of disappointed family coming to visit. Show uncomfortable situations with future girlfriends having the talk with your concerned mates? Maybe a quick grab of a high security prison, because re-offending is REALLY a thing.

Bizarrely enough, the best advertisement against domestic violence I’ve seen is, is a commercial for better conditions for battery hens. How obscenely ironic.

If you’re looking for satire in my point, you’ll have to look awful hard, because although the tone of this blog is sardonic, I am deadly serious. Get it together. We all need to fight back against the offenders, their friends, the environments in which their prejudice is bred, and any party neutralising the cause with their “PR”. When the blood of women drenches our lives and stains our newspapers, there’s no applause for participation.

For those of you thinking my ideas are a molotov cocktail that might spark more problems, or they haven’t shown enough compassion for what men go through before they become violent, or any other #notallmen-esque evasive maneuver you’ve come up with, at least I thought of some kind of solution. How about you human up?

If you do know of a group spreading positive, proactive and effective messages, PLEASE put their name, hyperlink, initiative below. We need to know where they are.

 Author’s note: this article has been edited to include alternatives to ‘the c word’ at the polite request of some women and women’s support groups, the opinions of which I respected and were affirmed by in my choice to include not replace.

Joy. The oldest trick in the book.

I love film. Let me start there. I’ll continue with the caveat that this review is colored by my most recent film excursions, including the story of a woman overcoming tragedy and defamation to bring retribution on an Australian country town, and the story of a woman who loses house, home, income and reputation to bring about votes for women in the early 1900s. Joy is about a woman who must stand up to her family’s expectations (or lack thereof) and invent a mop. I left disheartened by these producers who promised me an uplifting, relatable tale of feminine strength and success, and did not deliver.

I can pinpoint three things about this film I thought did more damage than good for the causes its advertising proclaims to endorse.

  1. Every female character in this film is depicted as either weak-willed and self-doubting, or a manipulative, self-serving bastard. And what little bit of that felt like satire was patronising to the audience in its Luhrmann-esque opulence.  For all that Joy is a woman we can relate to: a goodhearted, hardworking mother with twentieth-century-disease. Flung along the milestones of marriage, mortgage and motherhood, her story is all too familiar; perhaps this is what the opening notes about how the story is inspired by countless women who have triumphed over adversity meant. But I call foul, and maybe I am wrong, because for all the obstacles, she did smarten up, she did stop presuming advice from those around her was good, she did end up in he big house with the kids who loved her and there was no love story. But I call foul: Joy is not the only woman in this film, and her story is one where her success is impeded by bitter people around her who never change, or feel like they should change and in real life, it shouldn’t be like that. Joy’s entrepreneurial spirit is the only good thing about this movie (aside from the nod to Joan Rivers) and it is continually drowned out by dream sequence and sickening scapegoating by the other characters. Which brings me around to…
  2. Some have said that Joy‘s intrigue and modernity are based around a lack of resolution in the film, it’s a real “real-life” picture. I call foul again because nowhere in the content do we find remorse or victory over the agonising-to-watch mistreatment of parent upon child in the film. Optimists like me in the audience will see that the fact Joy never cast out or reprimanded her father for his remarks on how worthless she was, nor her underhanded sister, nor her victim mother, is an indication that true resolution comes from abject forgiveness. Optimists like me will recognise that although Joy directly and violently cast the same cynicism and shutdown of self-esteem inflicted upon her to her daughter, the fact that they’re still the image of loving at the end of the film probably means she turned out OK too. But it matters what we say to our children, it matters what sense of hope or importance we foster in them – that is apparently the message of the film but the titular character continues the vicious cycle in the scene and this is never resolved or commented on.
  3. The grandmother narrator character was poorly constructed and poorly written. The cool speech from the trailer isn’t even in the film (fair because the film’s structure makes that speech redundant).

This film is a remark upon what must be overcome by women to achieve success, what expectations and crises of faith in oneself. And then it isn’t. See it for yourself, because I think films like this should be seen. And be entertained by it, for it is entertaining enough. But I believe we still have a responsibility to respect our audiences when we make abundantly clear the value of women in home, workplace, education centre and political stream. I fear this offering to the film industry’s representation of women is tokenistic, lazy and misguided. Joy is better than no joy. But Joy‘s lesson is hard to make out, and talking about things it only thinks it knows. Erin Brockovich would be rolling in its grave if it were anything close to dead. Now there’s a movie.

The cinema played this advertisement before the film about how terrible an adolescent boy felt after he hit his girlfriend as a deterrent to abuse. The whole ad was about how bad he felt. Think about that.

 

If you’re a woman who wants to do something great, check out these places:
http://www.goldmansachs.com/citizenship/10000women/about-the-program/index.html
http://thestoryexchange.org/
https://businessfamilies.org/en/education/?l=en&co=bff-prepare-propel-your-venture

If you’re the victim of domestic violence then you can speak to someone. It doesn’t to be physical violence to make an impact on your life. That is one thing to film makes clear:
http://www.whiteribbon.org.au/finding-help
http://au.reachout.com/tough-times/bullying-abuse-and-violence/abusive-relationships
http://www.amnesty.org.au/svaw/comments/2239/

Sisters Unite! A Review of ‘Suffragette’

When Suffragette opened in London, a woman I know was there, waving her banner and fighting with fervour for the rights to safety of women everywhere. When it came here to Australia, I waited three days and joined perhaps eight people to see the film that is part of revolution in cinema: films that gather and mobilise women in their production, their distribution and their attention. Eight wasn’t enough, but it was better than one, and better than none.

The film is wonderful, I suppose that’s why you’re here, to see if based on my opinion that the film is worth forking out a fair cop of money to see. And it is worth it, not because of my opinion, but because if you do spend the money, you’re telling conglomerates and industries that this is a good thing: telling these stories, hiring these women on merit and demonstrating what equal rights look like in the artistic domain.

The term ‘suffragette’ has been somewhat archived, though there are still suffragettes now, rightly so. The term refers to a movement of women (and some men) seeking the right to influence law and political leadership of the countries they work, produce children, and contribute to the sustainable environment of. In the film, we see the movement through the perspective of Maud Watts, excellently portrayed by zephyr Carey Mulligan. Suppressed actively by her boss and passively by her husband, Maud is haphazardly brought into the inner sanctum of the suffragette movement thanks to local insider Edith – yes Helena Bonham Carter can absolutely still act – and the encouragement of suffragette icon Emmeline Pankhurst, played by Meryl Streep. You could say she loses everything, but then having it was a fragile façade built with brick and paper by the men who thought nothing of her strength and importance.

Maud Watts isn’t everywoman, nor everyman; someone who sees the iniquities around them and for all their pain and pity, can’t muster the strength to stand up to those with more power, more influence. But with friendship, resilience, and a sense of integrity unable to be ignored, finds themselves doing the work in this life that will change lives beyond them. Maud Watts isn’t a reflection of each of us, for all that she should be.

The movie does not end happily, but you knew that already because we are living the ending: each day, where 1 in 3 women will be killed by her partner or ex-partner. The story of this film is true, and ongoing. There is bred in us a gentle apathy, cleverly painted with compassion and naiveté to fool our mirrors into throwing a picture of benevolence in our faces that we wear with pride, not knowing what Emperor’s New Feminism some of us parade the streets with.

Don’t mistake Suffragette for a period piece, nor a skewed biopic. It is a film to remind us how history repeats, and snowballs as it does. It is a film to enlighten us to the battles that bore a fruitfulness we greedily feast on, with the skirmish forgotten behind us in the newspapers, in our Facebook feeds. It is not a film to be heartened by, but one to be awakened by. One to walk away from calling our mothers, and sisters and friends to make sure they’re alright, to tell them they’re not alone in whatever struggle they face now. A film to go home from and start showing people our bruises, holding people accountable for their prejudices. We are ten times more fortunate than we can comprehend or be taught, and infinitely more than we deserve.

Many points are to be made about the rise of films that are led by female heroes, host female-dominant casts, and are made by female-dominant crews and financers. Much of the representation has balanced, but the inequity exists still in the shadows. I say the same thing to people talking about how much has improved for the gay community: it’s not better, it’s just quieter. The diseases of prejudice and discrimination aren’t dormant, they’ve merely become immune to the floodlights of social media and mainstream television. Violence against women, political and domestic, has only finessed into certain hours, certain rhetoric, certain communities and become slipperier to grasp at and tear apart than ever before. Injustice against women hasn’t reduced, it’s simply adapted, become better at hiding itself. Applauding our successes in doing whatever part we have, passively or actively, to create the environments for female-focused films is crucial to the continual pursuit of complete parity, not a laurel to rest on. Know the difference. Please.

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Let it last be said that I am a man, with a privilege that may be ingrained, but not impotent. I don’t intend to use what gifts I’ve innocently been born to against a cause that truly must be run by those it will provide equality to. But as someone who will benefit from feminism, my stance is in firm, active support. And if yours isn’t, whoever you are, and whatever disillusion you live under, then go see the film. Wake up.

 

Here are some places to learn about and contribute to the safety, agency and equality of women globally:
http://www.whiteribbon.org.au/finding-help
http://www.bigsteps.org.au/about
https://unwomen.org.au/
https://sistersuncut.wordpress.com/

Here is another review of the film I enjoyed reading:
http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/dec/29/suffragette-reminds-us-why-its-a-lie-that-feminists-need-mens-approval

Here is one I didn’t:
http://www.afr.com/lifestyle/arts-and-entertainment/film-and-tv/movie-review-suffragette-2015-20151224-glujye

Please share your comments, links and stories x

The Great Dim Sim Experiment or What I Learned on a Game Show

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Well that was the most bizarre thing that’s ever happened to me. Like seriously.

I have just finished watching myself compete on a general knowledge game show against two other deserving, wonderful individuals for the ultimate goal of $1M and making my Nonna tear up. I didn’t make it to the ultimate as some very kindly enthused to me, but I certainly did not embarrass myself as I think some people secretly wondered.

My brainwave to try my hand at being on a game show came the same way I’m sure it comes to most: I was watching Million Dollar Minute and decided that my at-home play was sufficient to warrant serious thought into contending. Usually I cast this impulse aside because I’ve lived in Adelaide where not much of anything is filmed. But this time, they even screened an email to contact. So I did. And I got an audition. I told almost no-one, so afraid of how mocked I would be if I was so bold as to big-note myself.

I arrived at the audition to see approximately 120 people milling around, gathering for a chance at the Million Dollar Minute. Fresh-faced, virile young men in suits, deadly-endearing older ladies, mums, couples with matching mullets, entrepreneur-looking millenials with clipboards on conference calls while we waited. One guy without any shoes on, one young woman reciting facts to herself alongside an apparent boyfriend with poor body language and facial expression playing with his phone (I suspected a Trivia app. Or Tinder). All of them had clipboards, and seemed infinitely more qualified and deserving than me. I considered going home. I phoned a friend and asked whether I should.

We were eventually filed in, and that’s when I noticed it. I noticed what was making me feel really unbalanced. As we started sitting down, countless people started calling out greetings to each other, ‘oh my god, Terry?! Haven’t seen you since Temptation in 2010!’, ‘Saw you on the Feud! Goes to show you can’t pick ’em hey?!’, ‘Dave, hard luck on Hot Seat mate, I never asked you, how sweaty was Eddie at your filming?! God he was reeking at mine…’

They all knew each other, this phenomenal community of game-show-gurus. I was entranced by this concept, even though I have a competition-crazy cousin (shout out). I sat down next to a lovely woman named Betty (not even kidding) who was up to her fourth attempt on the show, and had already been on Hot Seat, Temptation AND Contest which she found to be a lucrative way to supplement her retirement- “it’s great, you know you get to go out for the day, get your hair and makeup done, meet some new people and sometimes walk away with a stack of money. Beats sitting at home making jack!”. I couldn’t fault her, although if she hadn’t got in, I mightn’t have Buckleys. I’m embargoed from talking about the ways we get in, but somehow I made it through (Betty sadly did not). We were warned time and time again that we may not be called, we may need to try again, and it was at solely the producer’s discretion if we were M$M material. As it turned out, it would be only a matter of weeks before I was deemed so. FIRST LESSON: personality is not always trumped by genius.

Betty’s advice was that I make statements about myself that would look hilarious on television. Oddly enough they decided not to go with my moniker of “Hip-Hop Dancer for Jesus. Reformed.” nonetheless I arrived with my fancy blue shirts (OK they were mostly purple) and waited to be called up to play. We we warned again that depending on how things went we may not play all day, we may have taken time off work for naught. Which was OK by me, this was my first rodeo and I was giggling and getting involved like a modern-day Muriel Heslop “I’m going to be on a game show, and I’m going to be a success!”. And then I got called up first. To boot, they decided they liked the outfit I turned up in, scarf and all (“This looks more you, am I right?”-very astute dressing-room-maybe-producer-person). SECOND LESSON: be yourself. You’ll be more recognisable that way.

We had some preamble and dorky promo bits to do…..

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Then they sat us down to get to business. Three trivia rounds, cash prizes along the way. Now here’s the important bit of this whole journey.

There is no clarity like casting off your competitive instinct when in the midst of a competition.

I repeat, there is no clarity like casting off your competitive instinct when in the midst of a competition. Just before the first question was asked on film, I realised that I liked the champion I was against, and the young woman between us, likely had her own reasons for being in the room. I realised that the purpose of the show was not for me to win, but for me to enjoy myself, be real and honest, learn a few things and above all things, choose humility over personal gain. As it turned out, I believe this led to the episode being called “really good television” by the carryover champ, host, producers and friends who watched. I have no regrets about the outcome of the show because for the first time in my anything-but-athletic-twig-legged-life I was credited with “good sportsmanship”. And that was the real win for me.

Some will choose to take advantage of my small success, some others will choose to look at my experience as nothing more than win, lose, or could’ve done better. I made a conscious decision at the beginning of the show to just make peace and have fun with the two people on the journey. At the final round I decided to put myself first, and go for my own interest alone. And it was at this point that I lost. For whatever reason: maybe I wasn’t smart enough, maybe I panicked, perhaps they asked questions I was bound not to know, or the universe conspired for me to only win that much. Either way, I believe the outcome directly relates to the choices I made. And I’ve seen other people make the choice for glory over namaste and the character value of humility come to rub them on the back.

Check out this amazing kid, Jacob Williamson a spelling bee rain-man. He was born to win it, but he made a choice. And learned. And took it really well. And was made a better person, a better competitor, a better study, a stronger contender in all fields for it.

I love this other story from a more high-profile individual about what an early loss in her career has meant for her strength, her risk-taking, her ability to inspire, and her thirst for success. Not to mention the pseudo-feminist-anthem it has engendered thanks to Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and her TED-du-force.

When I first considered going on a game show, I aspired no higher than Fran Fine. This episode of jewel-of-my-childhood sitcom The Nanny, was about when she went on Jeopardy and although it pokes fun at her intellect, really you never know what can happen in that environment, and it was her own knowledge and simple desire to have a chance that got it for her in the end. Give the episode a watch. For old times’ sake. Franny and the Professor [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LfUQARsegw8].

So there’s the action plan. Compete, compete, compete but let the outcome go because the success really is in how present you are as you campaign for whatever success comes your way. And keep close the tools for being humble, you’ll never know when you’ll need to be. Good luck!!

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