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“Don’t wait ’til I put up a fight”-you can make Safe Schools

There is nothing harder than watching your community let hope slip through their fingers, the people who you share a common thread with, hearing their resolve unravel. Not even strangers fighting against your right to safety and winning is harder than your friends feeling barren of bravery in the streets and the schools to stand up for themselves. Today, we woke up to an Indian-giving government (much as I hate that phrase), who after stepping leagues forward in addressing struggles young people face in terms of identity, community, sexuality, gender and health, hit us square in the face with a 180-degree decision. To hack funding, squirrel away resources and place the weight on children to approach adults and ask for equality, effectively exposing themselves and gambling what social stability and trust in the mentor-figures they have. The whole thing is a crushing disappointment, a systemic betrayal and an anxious revelation for our entire population. But by no margin is it over.

The advantage conservatism has is that they’re community active where progressives are more individualistic, and so do not invest or provide as much content to the systems, political, educational or spiritual. At the end of the day, it is a blatant hypocrisy for communities that go door-to-door on the premise of educating and providing entry into a dogma to accuse a program of having an agenda, but no excuse or claim of “it’s unfair” will enact the change we need. What’ll do it, is you taking time off Facebook, not rocking up to Friday night drinks on time, skipping your spin class, or whatever it takes to repurpose your time and energy into solutions. Like it or not, Safe Schools is a wonderful program because it does the hard work for us so we can get back to living lives where the worst homophobia we experience is from a passing car.

So for those of us who still have the energy, for those of us who are galvanised not disheartened by this setback, for those of us who knew from the beginning this backlash would come and thickened our skin up, here’s a couple thoughts:

  • Forget shaming, name and acclaim your school if you made it out alive, and remind them how proud a student you are for what they did at the time, and what they can do now. Maybe write them a letter?
  • Tell your local school about the program, and ask them if they provide it. If not, ask why they don’t, and what alternative they suggest to people wanting to equip their kids with the skills for not being homophobes or bigots.
  • Parents ask the school you send your kids to whether it’s a Safe School and if it isn’t, ask them how they intend to support at-home messages of equality, compassion and understanding in a broader social context.
  • Potential parents let your catchment schools know you’re looking around and only want to send your kid to a Safe School if possible.
  • Provide pamphlets to your council, make sure libraries have a stock, throw them up on your neighbourhood noticeboard.
  • Daniel Andrews made a state-level commitment to fund the program independently of the Australian government. Write your local MP, or your Premier and demand the same. Get your mum, your Beyoncé-dance class, your gym, your boss to do the same. Better yet, write it for them and ask that they simply sign it if they won’t do it themselves.
  • Contact Safe Schools Coalition and volunteer to do their local admin. Funding isn’t required if the thing can run for free. I’m not saying that’s the answer but an interim measure? Yeah!
  • Get better at voting. Actually take your privilege seriously. Remember your elected officials make the systems, not the change. That’s our bit.
  • MOST IMPORTANT! If you’re a kid in question, know you’re not alone, we’ve got your back, and you have more power than you think. Just ask these peeps, or these ones, or these.

Stop taking no for an answer to a question you actually never asked. Stop arguing a case without knowing the opposing points. Be more critical, and get more involved than retweeting. Safe Schools is a boon to our community given by the people with the skills, know-how and drive to make it happen. I was there when it was made, I sat in meetings helping it’s branding. While those who can get behind it get behind it, do your part as a community, as allies to prepare your schools to receive it, prepare your local businesses to be chill, prepare your neighbourhood to understand it. While we sit on our laptops and use Caps Lock in forums and sign petitions, those who would see it all CTRL+Z are putting it in people’s faces, finding the latent people who don’t have an opinion and providing them one. Don’t declare war and leave the skirmish unattended.

I heard this song on my shuffle today and it occurred to me that before Safe Schools, we made safety our business. We used to have Safe Houses signposted, we used to hold meetings, and rallies and readings. If you can make Safe Schools happen without the program, then when it’s back on its feet it’ll truly be there for good. Don’t stop there. Interrogate your work to be Safe, speak to your uni about how Safe it is, is your favourite coffee shop Safe? Oh friend indeed, come build me up…

 

 

 

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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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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.

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

from facebook today: On Art and Terror

Seems like 2015 is a year we’re going to put Art right under the lights.

Isaac Newton told us every action has a reaction. John Lennon was made the martyr he didn’t wish to be by a man inspired by a book. Galileo was locked up several times for his astronomical discoveries. Journalists have been captured overseas for decades, only now are they simply not being released. The stereotypes and comedy instilled by wartime propaganda are still in effect today, around Jewish people, Asian individuals, homosexuals, women and the Nazi movement-regardless of what truth was ever contained therein. Some time ago now society at large watched in fear and resignation as Christians shipped around the world to concert or cull and they called it a Crusade. It is still called a Mission today and though they’re not killing your neighbours, it’s still happening. Sia made a pop music video which is being called out for promoting pedophilia because men over a certain age cannot interact with women under a certain age.

We see it makes no difference which religion it is, for it is the people who commit the crime. And then we can’t just chuck out religion in favour of “reason” because we haven’t removed violence, just the justifying foundation upon which violent people build their art. And those who use the same foundation for hope and salvation while bombs fall on their homes or troops roam their streets, well I guess it’ll just be tough(er) for them. A father tried to detonate his own daughter recently in Africa.

Charles Manson has as much of a message as Marilyn Manson. We know what risks we take when we create, we know what damage Art can do. Some of us are just hobbyists, some lifelong believers, fellows and preachers of the virtue of Art. Some try and extol Art’s value by running therapies and workshops. Some of us are preachers who take to mass media and wide followers to talk about our type of art and what it to be gained by avowing to it, making pilgrimages to where we’ve hung it up like a proverbial multimedia Jesus. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

Here’s the thing: stop living like this. Stop going to Syria to report on private politics without thinking you might be caught. Stop running documentaries on Eastern spiritualities shooting inside inner sanctums of churches you’ve been specifically asked to keep sacrosanct and then crack it when you’re kicked out. Stop going swimming in the oceans thinking that there’s no chance a shark will attack you for coming into his house. Stop drawing and writing about the Prophet believing you’re justified by the unwritten laws of “satire” that your offended audience don’t understand or have a word for. Stop provoking the Henny-Pennys by making a video with an underage girl and adult male in underwear and expecting they’ll get you (which she didn’t I’ll note. Good work Sia.). Stop commenting on these sieges and skirmishes like they aren’t part of a real World War that’s been going at large since America got involved. Stop saying we should just bomb the Middle East because we already are. Stop living like nothing has a consequence and that you can just do what you want without any repercussions or impingements on your life. I am not writing this blog thinking it will make much difference, and if I get shut down or put on a list well so be it because I’m not ashamed or unsure about my actions or their potential reactions.

I am truly saddened by the deaths of Charlie Hebdo cartoonists. But Charlie Hebdo itself is still alive and isn’t afraid. So we know what the possibilities are, we’ve been told the consequences of the free and unpredictable world and we’re making choices. We’re all going to offend someone at some point, and we’re all going to die someday. So be who you are, use your talent wisely knowing the weapon it can be, and commit to the way you use it so when it’s all over, you’ll know it couldn’t have gone any other way.

From Facebook today…When #VICVotes November 29 2014

NB: this post originated in sharing a status update of a particular party member, in which the first paragraph refers. The knowledge of who the candidate is is of no relevance to the message of this post. Further the identity of same suits the context of the content only to close friends and colleagues. Please stay with me on this:

I’m just going to leave this here. For those of you who’ve skirted around his hurricane before, you’ll know what he is to be reckoned with. I don’t care how you vote, and it’s sure no-one’s business but mine who I vote for, but I do believe that his demonstrated passion, productivity and personal connection are worth politicizing.

This is not propaganda, it’s a simple request: for the sake of all that is workable, futuristic and communal, ENROL TO VOTE. You have a power millions would (and have) die for, don’t throw it back in the face of the world that we are able to make the choices. If you think that “it’s all the same no matter who gets in” or “it’s just the lesser of two evils”, “it’s all corrupt” that DOES NOT mean you can’t make an impact. And if you draw a penis on your voting sheet, then that’s exactly how you’ll be considered by the people who work their nuts off to make something from this economy we’re blessed to live so successfully in. It’s called a donkey vote, ‘cos you’re an ass if you don’t contribute, because the consequences will wash as much on you as anyone if we allow mishandling.

If you’re mad, vote. If you’re in love, vote. If you think you can make a difference, vote. If you think you can participate in someone else’s difference, vote. If you are grateful you can read, vote. If you have a lock on your door, vote. If you’re scared of dying alone and unaided, vote. If you think genocide is a crime, vote. If you have the nerve to call yourself Australian, vote. Forgive, love, apologise, thank. #bg2yx.

Victoria will go to the polls on Saturday November 29th. Make a party out of it, and share this post with your own display of encouragement to vote. Take and tell your friends, provide handy links below if you need armour:
http://www.vec.vic.gov.au/
Upskill on the conversation #vicvotes
If you speak Auslan, please find those instructions here.

From Facebook today…on Transgender Day of Remembrance

Good morning girls, boys, and beyonds. In case anyone had missed it, we’re currently revering Transgender Day of Remembrance‬ for anyone identifying as a gender that disagrees with their physical. This is no disease or malfunction, but a beautiful expression of the soul beyond the body and between the sexes. I pray my lifetime will bear witness to, and lend itself to the end of discrimination, persecution, bullying, butchery or exclusion of transgender people, or indeed anyone outside the heteronormative in how they wish to identify, and who they might consent to love. There’s more than we think there is to this incarnation.

Best way to spend this day was in honour with Tori Amos who used her all request show to discuss gender and sexuality in her songs, and played Fire On the Side to commemorate the occasion. Let no more people be cast aside or dismissed, left to burn or fight for their rights in peripherals of society. Forgive, love, apologise, thank. ‪#‎bg2yx‬.

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I implore Victoria to consider the human rights of these PEOPLE, these SOULS, our children and siblings and mentors and lovers in your vote next weekend. Intersex and asexual people too. Don’t vote just for what you want, but for what’s right.

From Facebook today…On comparing and contrasting Australian Political campaigning

You know what?! I know quite a posse of people who bust their gut on a daily basis to create a personal connection by actually calling and chatting with their potential voters about what personally impacts them! Some are verbally abused, others drawn into intense political debate, most simply dismissed, but we persevere because we believed when our candidate said he needs and appreciates our help. So to call me from an unknown number and leave a pre-recorded diatribe about primary schools-regardless of how such a message might affect someone’s family situation, sexuality, potency, financial circumstance, and educational experience- was so unbelievably disingenuous that I feel newly activated to say that I genuinely have no desire to afford you any influence in how the country I’m very much personally attached to is so impersonally, ham-handedly, certainly inarticulately, operated by your party.

I’m aware this unbridled expression will give you cause to cast my opinion as not of your concern and onto the next, and I will thank you to prove my point by doing so.

Claims I’m overreacting-being that I’m usually diplomatically silent on subjects like these-will absolutely be considered, but absorbed with the knowledge that the devil is in the details just like these. I’m quite disappointed, and more so completely out of words.

I will finally request no-one read this and seek to make conjecture as to who I’m talking about, but see that if we get reductive about politics, it’s easy to see how true damage can be done from a global level right to the individual.

Forgive, love, apologise, thank.

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