Why I Can’t Understand People Who Say They Aren’t Feminists

I am writing this on a public bus with enough vigor to arouse the attention of the man behind me, who just read the title of my page and outwardly snorted. I hope he is still reading what I’m writing, the nosey parker. Nice shirt, mate. It really accentuates your bald patch.

Ignorance breeds ignorance. It is an endless cycle. 

In no way is this cycle of ignorance in society more apparent than in the general fear and dislike of the concept of feminism and people who call themselves feminists. Even the word itself has such ugly connotations of hating men or being stuck up and difficult.

I am stuck up and difficult but that has nothing to do with me identifying as a feminist. It’s more to do with my ‘resting bitch’ face and general awkwardness. 

Feminism is not what many people think it is. Feminism is something that all ‘good’ people should support. No exceptions.

Why? Because feminism is not about hating men. It is not about wanting to rule the world in a giant female girl band. It is not about reversing the patriarchy and putting Beyonce in charge as the undisputed Queen of the World (although, now that I think about it, that wouldn’t be such a bad idea…).

It is about equality. 

To say that you are not a feminist or that you do not support the feminist movement is a subtle nod to misogyny. To stand away from the concept is to leave the gender imbalance in place and continue to allow women to be abused, objectified and victimised. 

A major reason that people do try to avoid being linked to the word ‘feminism’ is that it has become a ‘dirty’ word. No, not like butts and balls and boobies, or even like mud and grime and mould. It has become dirty in its connotations. It has lost its meaning in the abuse of the term by many people who don’t support the movement and by a small group within the feminist movement who really do embody the connotations the word now has. People don’t want to be seen as being part of it. 

To say that you are a feminist seems to invite people to roll their eyes at you, to patronise you or, in extreme cases, to call you a bitch or a ‘feminazi’ or even threaten you. 

Just a quick public service announcement to the people who do roll their eyes, patronise, insult and threaten people for their feminist views: fuck you. 

(Quick little detour from the road to a feminist education: I absolutely HATE the term ‘Feminazi’. Are you likening the movement for equality in all areas of society for all genders to the oppressive Nazi regime? Are you really doing that? Are you saying that a person saying that they support gender equality and equal rights is akin to the psychopath Adolf Hitler? Are you kidding me?)

A dislike of feminism is, in the most part, due to a complete ignorance born from a societal lack of education on what it really means to BE a feminist. 

A lot (though, of course, not all) of guys view feminism and feminists themselves with disdain and negativity because they don’t understand the concept behind it. They think that to invoke feminism is to say that all men suck and all women are saints.

Take, for example, this recent video on how the treatment of abuse differs depending on the gender of the perpetrator:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u3PgH86OyEM

Reading the comments of this video, you see how misinformed people are with feminism.

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Feminism isn’t about throwing men under the metaphorical bus and calling them all bad guys. It also isn’t about saying that women are all saints who can do no wrong.

Feminism is about fighting for equality between sexes — not replacing the current patriarchy with a matriarchy.

Feminists are not ignorant. They do not think that all women can do no wrong and all men do nothing but. Rather, they are fighting for equality and do so from the perspective of the oppressed in a patriarchal society.

Feminists are fighting particularly against the gender roles in society. The very same gender roles that can entrap men as well.

They are not saying men are evil. They are saying that the society we are part of needs to change.

I understand that domestic violence is a horrible issue – but it is one that is less about gender and more about helping the victims and stopping the persecutors, regardless of their gender.

The views about feminism expressed my these commenters, and held by many more people, are straight up BS. To say that you don’t support feminism is to say that you think women should not have the same rights as men — it is to say that they should be second-class citizens and the ‘second sex’. I think, or at least hope, that a majority of society does not agree with this. I think that if more men understood feminism then there wouldn’t be such horrible connotations associated with the word. And the women and men fighting for the cause would not experience such backlash.

The lack of understanding of feminism as a concept can account for many of the women who shy away from the term as well. When asked if they consider themselves feminists, a lot of women say that they aren’t because they “love men.”

Wait, what?

WHAT?

As feminism is a cause for bettering those very womens’ lives, I struggle with the idea that they have not explored it enough to realise that that is really not what feminism is about.

Feminists do not hate men.

I repeat: Feminists. Do. Not. Hate. Men.

This kind of mislabelling of feminism is much more detrimental to the cause when it is done by people with a social platform that allows them to be heard by a great number of people. For example, the actress Shailene Woodley recently said this exact thing. This kind of sentiment leads to young girls growing up saying that they, too, don’t believe in feminism (the fight for equality) because they love men.

Real feminists (those who follow the core ideals of feminism) want equality and therefore their work does not get in the way of them loving men. In fact, it is helped by it.

Although there are a lot of people who do not support feminism due to their lack of education on the real purpose behind it, there are a whole bunch (yes, this is a highly scientific term) of people who do not support it because they simply do not want equality.

There are people who truly hate women, as seen by the mind-boggling sympathy and support for Elliot Rodger by some, who truly hate women, or at least see them as beneath men in their ‘role’ as a sexual object. They see women as something for them to possess, to own and to control. They simultaneously over-sexualise women from a young age and despise and blame women for the sexuality.

On a local level, it translates to emotional and physical abuse in the domestic home, or sexually predatory behaviour and intimidation in public.

Many people say that feminism is not necessary any more — that, in our current society, we have reached the perfect pinnacle of equality.

To those people I say get your head out of your — sorry, I meant that to those people I say educate yourself.
Do not operate from male privilege or the privilege awarded to you by your socioeconomic position in life (because feminism is most needed in underdeveloped countries where women do not have access to education or a semblance of free will in some cases).
Read the #YesAllWomen hashtag on Twitter.
Read the stories of everyday girls being assaulted, raped or intimidated with no consequences for the male perpetrators. (And, no, I’m not going to say the classic: “Imagine if that was your daughter/wife/mother/sister.” Because you shouldn’t have to imagine someone you know going through this to see its injustice.)
Ask yourself if you think that it is okay that rape victims are vilified because of what they were wearing when the assault took place.
Investigate the wage gap.
Read this: http://thoughtcatalog.com/nico-lang/2012/12/why-we-need-feminism/

The relative oppression of women is not only evident in such obvious ways but also in smaller ones — it can be seen in the derogatory terms with which some men refer to women (“piece of ass” or “bitch” or “slut”).

It can also be seen when guys say one of the most ignorant things in the entire world — that feminism is an excuse to hit women. Yep. That is a real thing.

There was a bunch of guys in my high school who would belittle us and then if we said anything about treating us equally, they would say, “Equal rights means that guys can punch girls, too.”

How about no one punches anyone, dumbass?

Newsflash: you are just twats.

If all you think of with the issue of equality is being allowed to hit women then you have some deep issues. Like, real deep. Like, Mariana Trench deep.

In this bunch of guys, I’m sure that not all of them had such prominent inferiority complexes that they were just bursting to be able to hit women, but they all conformed to what they saw as the norm. It is a common problem in guys particularly. They see their mates talking derogatorily about women and they are too scared to speak out against it.

Whilst I urge them not to fall prey to this form of societal peer pressure, I understand why it happens. What I don’t understand is when the same thing happens in groups of girls.

They call each other sluts and bitches and degrade and dehumanise each other in this way. By doing this to each other, it makes guys think that it is okay to do it to girls as well. Really, it’s not okay for ANYONE to do it.

These girls are often the ones who make fun of the idea of feminism.

But you need to understand — it is a cause fighting for YOU. To go against it is a tad ridiculous.

Whilst you as a reader may not agree with me, this is how I see feminism and, although nervous about voicing this opinion, I steadfastly believe that equality for all genders is important. In Australia, we should not have a man known for saying misogynistic things as the minister for women. We shouldn’t have any man as the minister for women. Even my 10 year old sister picked up on that. Come on, guys.

Educate yourself on feminism.

Stop treating it as a dirty word.

Fight for equality.

Eat mud pies.

(Just thought I’d see how far I could push it with the short, sharp sentences. Mmm, so catchy and effective).

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‘Nice Guys’ Finish Last: A BS Mindset

(This blog post is not about guys who are genuinely nice – which there are a lot of! It is about the minority — self-proclaimed nice guys who feel entitled to women)

Over the weekend there was another tragic shooting massacre in America, this time allegedly committed by a 22 year old on other young people at his college because he felt that they shouldn’t be happy when he wasn’t.

I pity the families of those who lost their lives, and the victims themselves for having their potential cut short for someone else’s problems. 

There are a lot of complex issues embroiled in this one horrible incident.

Firstly, the gun laws in America need to change. Yes, I know it’s extremely hard with their rigid constitution and the cemented interpretation of the right to bear arms, but how many more people need to die before the politicians, the NRA and the general voting populace realize it is time to make a change? I hope that the answer to that question is zero. Losing your child in such a horrific way is something that no more parents should have to live through.

Secondly, the alleged shooter had apparently been diagnosed with asperges and was being treated by psychiatrists, but was not taking the medication prescribed to him. There needs to be more support and accountability mechanisms for people with mental illnesses of this sort. 

But the issue that I want to talk about is the messed up mindset that a worryingly large amount of people share with the perpetrator of this crime — that they are nice guys who deserve love and sex from women. 

To feel as if you deserve the affections of someone is to take away their power of choice and assume a position of superior authority. 

To feel as if you deserve the sex of women because you are a ‘nice guy’ and if they don’t give it to you then they are ‘sluts’ is to be a misogynist and just a generally crappy human being.

Chances are that if you think you’re a nice guy and consequently deserve a woman, and that they are stupid and ‘all the same’ for going for ‘douchebags’, then you’re not actually a nice guy at all. You’re actually a twat.

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This ‘nice guy’ mindset is such an unhealthy mindset, not least of all because it is comes from a highly misogynistic place. 

‘Nice guys’ are not entitled to a girl’s heart or body just because they don’t make her feel bad about herself.

Some men (not, by far, all) cannot handle rejection from women because they are brought up thinking that they are god’s gift to women, and that they deserve women. When this does not square with reality, they can go pretty mental. Cue: guy shoots girl for rejecting his prom proposal. 

The really scary thing is that you see it all the time on a local level. It happens to girls all the time when they are out at night at clubs, or just walking down the street. 

When a friend and I walk along the long road next to the beach near our houses, we are beeped at and yelled at by guys in cars as they drive past. They objectify women and make them feel threatened. You may laugh it off or see it as a compliment, but to me it is offensive and it really stresses me out. When I’m walking down the street and a guy slows down next to me to whistle appreciatively or try to strike up a conversation with sexist terms, I feel threatened. My heart beats fast, I have adrenaline pumping through me, my mind is hyper alert. Why? Because they have incited my ‘fight or flight’ reflex. They have me scared. Because while 9/10 guys will see your disinterest in them and speed off, there is a chance I will come face to face with that one in ten guy – the one who follows me, whose advances go from sexual to mean, to calling me a “bitch” or threatening me. It happens to more people and more often then you probably think.

At clubs, guys feel as if by paying for a drink or talking to a girl then their ‘nice’ actions should be rewarded. That is not being a nice guy. Doing something nice for someone in the expectation that you will receive something back isn’t right. 

On my first night out with a friend of mine, we were enjoying catching up whilst sitting in a quiet corner of a bar with a drink each. Two guys, both older than us, proceeded to interrupt this conversation and sit with us. I am fine with that — I’m open to meeting new people. But these guys continued to buy us drinks and act as if they were entitled to our affection and attention because of it. When my friend and I said that we were going to leave, they decided to follow us. When we tried to say goodbye, they tried to link arms with us and physically keep us with them. As if that kind of behavior is going to make us have a sudden epiphany that these are the guys we want to be with. Eventually we were lucky enough to be overheard stressing about how to ditch these guys in the bathroom by one of the owners/workers of the bar we were in. She was just as creeped out as we were, and let us hang out on the DJ’s stage with her to avoid being near those guys. This didn’t stop them from sitting in the booths in front of the stage and taking photos of us. 

It worries me that this is ‘normal’. It worries me that almost every girl who has gone for a night out with a friend has had similar experiences. It worries me that guys feel entitled to the attention of girls, no matter how the girl may feel about them. 

It is a mindset born of misogyny and bred by a society that deals out the idea that girls are sluts if they wear certain clothes, or are ‘asking for it’ (‘it’ being sexual advances, wanted or not) if they show certain behaviors. 

More often than not, the rejection of guys by women leads to a sudden switch from “Why don’t women want to date nice guys like me?” to “Women are bitches and sluts and they all go for the wrong guys. I hate them.” 

Does it happen because of rejection? No. It’s there, underneath a ‘nice’ facade the whole time. 

The very idea that being a nice human being (which should just be a given) entitles you to women is unbelievably sexist and ignorant.

This is not how life works:

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It is an idea that is closely linked to the idea of the ‘friendzone’ which operates under the same principle — ‘nice guys’ are treated as friends by girls while they go off and date ‘douchebags’. 

It’s complete BS. If you are nice to someone and they don’t see you as a potential partner, but do want to be friends with you, then that is great. You’ve made a new friend, well done. 

“The friendzone is somewhere men put themselves when they use the pretense of friendship to try and get laid.”

If a girl dates a guy who isn’t you, it isn’t because you’re a ‘nice guy’. It’s probably because you spend so much time thinking you’re a nice guy when you spout thinly-veiled misogynistic ‘compliments’ that the girls decide to just go for someone who isn’t basing their opinions on girls on such ridiculously outdated ideas of femininity, ‘purity’ and chastity.  I hate to break it to you, but you’re probably the douchebag.

‘Nice guy’ entitlement is thinking that they are the victims of women’s “irrationality or cruelty” rather than realising that they just aren’t that nice of a guy.

You may not think that this is common. And I am not, by any means, saying that all guys, or even most guys, are like this. It’s a minority, but a vocal one. 

In response to the last YouTube video the alleged killer made which spoke about how his rejection by women meant that they deserve to die, a whole bunch of people actually supported his sentiments:

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What?

WHAT? 

This kind of ridiculous feeling is absolutely supported in society.

Our society leads people to ask “what was she wearing?” when they hear a girl was raped.  As if it is her fault. As if her sexuality is a dangerous thing. As if guys just couldn’t help themselves because she was dressed ‘provocatively’.

Our society makes female sexuality such a convoluted concept (virgins are these crazy untouchable ‘pure things’ but simultaneously frigid, and any girl who has been sexually active is a slut) that it leads some people to think that sex is owed to them. 

So take off your fedoras and look in a mirror, ‘nice guys’. NOTHING is owed to you. 

I recommend you get out of this BS mindset before you go down the same tragic path as the alleged killer did. 

P.S. Just because girls say “You’re such a nice guy and all, but…” when they reject you, it doesn’t mean you’re actually a really nice guy. She’s just letting you down easy, buddy. Wake up and smell the roses.

P.P.S. Apparently rather than stricter gun laws, help for those with mental illnesses or a change in societal mindset, legalising prostitution would have solved all issues:

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I can’t. I just can’t.

P.P.P.S. Please read both of these:

http://goodmenproject.com/ethics-values/dont-want-write-santa-barbara-shooter/

http://www.hannahettinger.com/fuck-the-patriarchy-guest-post-by-clare/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sophia-herbst/dress-coded-an-education-_b_5342040.html

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Why I’m Struggling With University

It’s hard to admit that you don’t enjoy an establishment that is marketed as a validation of your intelligence, and the only ticket to a good life.

To me, university was always built up to be this amazing experience that would enrich my learning.

The truth of the matter is that I’m not enjoying it. And it really is freeing to admit that.

I looked on it not only as a further fundamental step in my education, but as a whole new life. No wonder it has not met my absurdly high expectations.

I do love my university as a place — it is absolutely gorgeous. The University of Western Australia has beautiful grounds, amazing buildings and little niche spots that you only find by being here. Out of all the universities in WA that I looked at, it was the only one that inspired me. And it still does, to be fair. But not in a way that makes me want to study… It inspires me to write mostly. I have a notebook that I carry around and scribble in like a raving lunatic, and that’s lovely, but it certainly doesn’t lead to passing grades.

I have been thinking about why I’m not enjoying university, and I think it comes down to a lot of things.

Firstly, it is described to us when we are younger as an essential step in reaching our full potential in life. We are made to feel that we need to go to university and study something just to prove our worthiness or our own intelligence. For me, that led to me jumping head first into a course that I don’t particularly enjoy.

I wanted to become a teacher, but once my ATAR came back as higher than anyone expected for me (because for the amount of work I did and for how much care I put into my work, my ATAR should have been half what I got) people around me pressured me to change my mind to something seen as more important by society. Law, for example.

I don’t know if you know me very well, but I would not suit law in the slightest. I also would not suit psychology, which was also suggested to me.

I don’t like the idea that your achievement or the importance of your contribution to the world is directly equivalent to your wage, or how hard your university degree was.

In the end, I settled for a double major in Politics and International Relations/Communications and Media. To be honest, I’m not really enjoying it. I dread class, rather than look forward to it. And as much as people say that you can change courses as much as you like in your first year, $3000 is a lot of money to waste in just one semester.

When I picture myself in the future, I don’t see any particular career standing out to me. I don’t want a life based on a black and white career. I want to travel and be happy and do something I love, not for money but just because I want to. I think that is why I make YouTube videos and blog posts – because in some way I hope that that could end up being my future. Impossible goals, I know.

Another reason I think I’m struggling is because I was one of the many people who grew up thinking that they were special, and oh-so intelligent – because that’s what people told me as a child! To be suddenly thrust into the position of being the teeny tiny fish in a big ocean is petrifying! It’s really set me back a bit, which may sound absolutely ridiculous and privileged but it’s still how I feel.

Thirdly, I never studied or worked much during school and I was lucky that this didn’t affect me at all really. I read through the textbook before an exam and could remember most, and BS the rest…. and I ended up doing pretty well when I graduated. I got an ATAR score of 93.5 which isn’t amazing but it is more than I deserved with the amount of work I put in. (For those not in WA, an ATAR of 93.5 means that I scored in the top 6.5% of the state). Because of this, I never learned my lesson. I never had that ‘oh crap’ moment where you realise that you can’t just skate by in life without putting work in. So, I have no study skills whatsoever.

Linking in with this is the fact that I am the self-appointed queen of procrastination. I can waste a week staring at the walls rather than get down to study… so I’m being left behind at uni (entirely my own fault, I know!).

As well as the study, university has a big aspect of partying. I’m not a homebody, but I definitely don’t enjoy parties. As someone with anxiety, they make me very nervous, especially if the people I’m with are all drunk. I have only been to one party that I genuinely enjoyed. All of the others have made me nervous. At university, parties are on a much bigger scale. A rave I went to with a bunch of friends was so hectic that I had a panic attack (which is very rare for me). And that’s just a crappy feeling that I don’t want to have. I’m lucky that I had one lovely friend who came and looked after me!

Ultimately, it’s hard to fully invest myself into university because deep down I know it’s not really what I want to be doing. I want to be travelling, and enjoying my life, because I don’t want to die only knowing education from within four walls – I want to learn from the real world, and I want to be helping people and making a difference in others’ lives. I don’t feel like I’m doing that where I am.

I don’t know what I will end up doing. I may drop out, or defer, or just suck it up and finish the course. I don’t know.

But I know that what I need to do is do what makes me happy. It’s the time to kind of say to hell with what other people want me to do with my life, because I know that they mean the best, but I’m the only one who can decide for me.

P.S. I am not unhappy or anything – I don’t enjoy university, but I’m still doing fine in life, this is just me venting, rather than me breaking down!

Females in Film and Literature

We need more women in cinema.

Not women as love interests.

Not women as overly-sexualised heroines.

Not women as the token ‘ass-kicker’ sidekick.

Women in the same roles as men without the need to be sexualised to succeed.

It is fine for women to flaunt their sexuality or be confident with themselves in movies, just as it is fine for them to do the same in daily life. 

Women should be allowed to wear as much or as little as they like without it reflecting their sexual experience, ‘purity’ (as if such a concept existed) or ‘goodness’. 

But at the same time, there is a worrying absence of strong female leads that don’t need men to thrive. 

If a woman is the central character, nine times out of ten (warning: this is not a real statistic but it’s pretty damn obvious so leave it be) they are chasing or being chased by a male character. 

Even female superheroes in film often aren’t taken seriously. 

Before you get on your high horse with your cupid badge, I’m not saying it’s not okay for their to be films about love, or with love playing a prominent role. So don’t start. What I’m saying is that they have a monopoly on the female leads.

I’m all for a good RomCom now and then. It’s great for a girl’s night or to lift your spirits with some easy watching. I’m not denying that.

But what about when I want to see girls being the badasses they are? What about when I want to see girls in the same role as guys, without the need to sexualise them, dumb them down or give them a prominent love interest?

For young girls watching movies, this is the only image of women that they are being offered. What does that teach them? It teaches them to be the good, quiet girl in search of a man to validate her existence. 

I want girls to grow up knowing that whether they have a significant man or woman in their life is not as important as it is often shown to be — it does not validate nor justify them and it especially does not define them.

Often, it comes from literature as well.

Look at the franchises that have been prominent for girls in the last few years — films like the Twilight Saga and the Hunger Games.

Don’t even get me started on Twilight. I have a few bones to pick with the author of that. Not least of which is why the only female characters she offers are either completely dependent on men, ditzy or rude. How about some affirming roles for women? No? Okay.

But the Hunger Games is actually a brilliant trilogy. Not only does it have a lot of strong anti-consumerism messages, a warning against strong centralised government in the form of a dystopian future, and a strong female character, but it FEATURES love rather than focusing on it. (SPOILERS) She chooses her partner based on who she needs to survive. She chose for herself and was strong throughout.

But when made into films, the Hunger Games became very wholeheartedly about the romance and the ‘love triangle’ in it. Or at least the advertising did.

Where are the books and the films that help girls grow in understanding of themselves and the world around them?

Where are the books and the films that focus on females being strong for themselves, finding themselves and working for themselves rather than for men?

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I’m not asking for a token female character to feature in all movies. I’m not saying that at all.

I’m asking for an equal playing field for women.

In literature and film, a male is a female’s purpose. In life, that’s not the case.

In literature and film, men have the ability to play the whole spectrum of roles. Women are not given the same privilege.

Sure, have RomComs. Have females in search of love, or in love. Have bitchy girls and mean girls and ditzy girls and dependent girls.

But have other options as well. Don’t have that as the only means of referral for girls growing up to see what they should be like and who they should be looking for.

In other news, I have high hopes for an upcoming film to fit this bill:

It’s an action movie with a female lead with no need for the love interest of a man to keep her going. And it looks awesome.

A Post International Women’s Day Rant of Sorts

Girls are told time and time again to be pretty and refined. To be quiet, but laugh at a guy’s jokes. To smile with perfect teeth and laugh in a girly manner. 

We are given impossible standards that result in low self esteem and a bad culture between women themselves.

I hate that when I see a girl, I automatically case her out and pick out her flaws or the things about her that make me insecure. It’s a horrible conditioning that a combination of media outlets have led to. 

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We are pitted against each other through the justification of ‘slut shaming’ and the constant battle to be skinnier or prettier than someone else. 

(Slut shaming is the concept of condoning guys calling girls sluts — whilst labeling their friends legends for the same behavior — by ridiculing or looking down upon fellow females for what they wear or how they act, particularly in respect to their sexuality). 

A friend of mine recently told me that she was in a heated discussion with some guys about International Women’s Day. The guys saw it as unnecessary and ridiculous to even have a day for women in society. I mean, if women had a day, why shouldn’t men? 

Because women have been systematically oppressed throughout history, continuing to this day (as evident in the wage gap and through significant court cases regarding rape, abortion and women’s rights). 

That’s why we need International Women’s Day.

Because women should celebrate the women before us who have paved the way for the stable footing we have now. 

That’s why we need International Women’s Day.

Because feminism is now a dirty word that people don’t want to be associated with. The idea of standing up for women is now embarrassing, apparently. 

That’s why we need International Women’s Day.

More and more, an aspect of males in society have felt that they have the power to dictate what is and isn’t attractive in girls. 

As if we live to impress prepubescent boys with egos the size of their chipmunk-y head. 

Take this for example:

That’s why we need International Women’s Day. 

Because no guy should be able to tell us what we should be doing.

We don’t have to live in strict guidelines, because we don’t live for the sole purpose of impressing guys.

That’s why we need International Women’s Day.

We need more girls like this, and more freedom in society to highlight the ridiculousness of someone telling us how to be attractive:

Girls, always remember:

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The Small-Mindedness of Arrogant Patriotism

Nothing frustrates me more than a level of patriotism that exceeds normalcy to become arrogance and small-mindedness. Actually, that isn’t true. Dogs with human names, the Bachelor and girls’ obsession with thigh gaps and eyebrows frustrate me more, but it is a close fourth.

As a general rule, Australians are a self-deprecating breed closer to the ‘bogan’ side of the spectrum than our posh English friends. There is a love of the simplicity of our country but also an ability to find the high ratio of deadly animals and names ending in ‘azza’ funny.

Australians, then, are much less patriotic in the extreme sense of the world than the Americans across the pond. You know the lot — “We’re the best country in the world”, “America, F**K YEAH!” etc.

The overall arrogance in patriotism that a vocal aspect of Americans possess is often laughable to us. They are a country so proud of themselves that they have just swept the entire ‘We elected George Bush President and that was a monumental mistake’ thing under the nationwide carpet.

At least we can admit that Tony Abbott is an idiot. Well, most of us can. I still hold out hope for the rest.

America’s love for itself can often cloud its judgement. I mean, I think they might be the last ones to realise that China is the world’s super power now.

I see America as the annoying, but somehow lovable, older cousin to Australia. The one that you see during the Christmas break that you find hilarious for a short period of time, but couldn’t survive hanging around them too much longer.

And I know I’m stereotyping here, but it’s hard not to when the impression we get of America comes largely from reality shows like Toddlers and Tiaras and that one with Honey Boo Boo in it. Please tell me that’s not her real name.

Just as Australians are thought of as riding their pet kangaroo to school and drinking beer and goon straight from the baby bottle, America is the gun-toting, Southern-drawl ‘I love America, cultural diversity sucks’ kind of place.

And yet, for all our view of ourselves being so laid back we might as well be catatonic, Australia can be just as patriotically narrow-minded.

Evident in not only the thinly-veiled remnant feelings of the White Australia Policy behind Australia’s apparent fear of the cultural diversity and change represented by asylum seekers, we find it frighteningly easy to turn a blind eye toward overseas trouble.

If there is any hint of trouble within Australia, it is all hands on deck. But when there is mass unrest in the Ukraine, or serious poverty in Africa, we can happily down a VB and watch the Block without any hint of worry for those in need.

We are so lucky in that we have access to technology that provides us with worldwide information at the click of a button, yet we would much rather narcissistically post photos of our breakfast instead of using this amazing power to find out what is happening and how we can help.

I am not innocent of this; we are all guilty in our self-made cocoon of relative wealth and ease. The fact of the matter is that it is just so much easier to let someone else deal with the troubles faced by many in the world today. It is a case of ‘out of sight, out of mind.’

As frustrating as it is to see it on a wide scale, it is prominent in smaller disasters as well. Whilst there are millions dying of starvation whilst we chow down on McDonalds, it takes an Australian involved to get us to rally behind an issue.

It is our own patriotism working against us.

Recently a Malaysian Airlines flight went missing, with over 200 people on board. If it were 200 people dying of starvation in Africa, which happens every day, we wouldn’t be hearing about it. But as it seems closer to home (“Oh my gosh, catch airplanes – this is so scary!”) it has reached the national headlines.

While I think in relation to other crises right now it is of a much smaller scale, any human life lost is sad. That means that I pity all 239 of the unaccounted people on the plane, as well as the families and friends affected by this.

But in Australia, people instead worry for the handful of Australian people on board. I understand rallying around our people, but there are hundreds of others on that plane as well.

On social media I saw someone comment on an article that said there were seven Australians on the missing flight, “They’re now saying only 6 Australians on board, thankfully!”

… That still means that there are 233 other people missing, possibly in peril or dead. Just because one less of them is Australian, doesn’t make me any more thankful. That is still a horrible thing.

As much as we profess to be a multi-cultural country, we first and foremost worry about Australians, and rarely get involved in an issue if the people in trouble aren’t one of our ‘own’.

We worry infinitely more about those six or seven Australian people possibly injured, missing or deceased than the nation of Ukraine caught in the consequences of its establishment as an in-between country, or the millions dying of poverty, or the people being discriminated against, or the people who have to flee from their country just to survive.

We care so little about those people that we happily turn them around to face discrimination in a bordering country rather than helping them. We feel there is nothing wrong with making them spend years of their lives stuck in detention centres for the ‘crime’ of trying to survive. I will never understand how people don’t feel sick to their stomach when they support parliamentarians who say “Turn back the boats.” There is no queue for people fleeing for their lives. It is not illegal to seek asylum. Stop kidding yourselves.

This is where patriotism worries me.

This is where it becomes small-minded ignorance, to the point of outright discrimination.

This is where I worry for Australia.

The Nightmare Passenger

I read a somewhat controversial blog post recently that consisted of a real tossbag complaining about being stuck next to an overweight man on a flight. 

Whilst it made me question the decency of humans and the availability of the blogging medium for people whose ignorance is best unheard, it made me realize that there are much worse people to be stuck next to on a plane.

Like me, for example.

Despite having caught many flights in my life, I am absolutely hopeless at being a functional passenger.

Firstly, I don’t shut up. It never occurs to me that people might want to sleep on an early morning flight, or that – God forbid – they actually brought that books with them with the intention of reading it.

My advice is for people not to engage with me at all. Once you show the slightest crack by making a non-committal grunt or an affirmative nod, I assume all you want in this world is to hear the sound of my voice uninterrupted for five hours or more.

Headphones don’t deter me, and I don’t pick up on loaded glares. I just take it as a challenge.

I’m acutely aware of my own character flaw of being accidentally self-centered. If I don’t stop myself I’ll tell you my life story and even add embellishments if we have time. All to avoid the awkward silences.

So on flights I try my hardest to avoid talking about myself. Instead I pry into your life. By the end of the flight I will probably know your bank account details, home address and your darkest secret. I should sell my interrogation techniques to the secret service.

I don’t mean to be so talkative. It’s the byproduct of my outgoing personality when mixed with my intense fear of flying.

I’m that passenger who gasps and grabs your hand every time the plane slightly bumps. I have been known to cry and say my goodbyes in turbulence. Worse, I like to share my fears by telling you the flight horror stories that frighten me. If you’re not just as scared of flying as I am before the flight, you sure will be by the time we land.

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I am more scared on a plane when I can’t see what’s happening. Needless to say, I love the window seat. More specifically, the window seat just behind the wing. I can watch the world go by peacefully and be the first to see the plane’s wing fall off in the case of an emergency and thus be quick about getting a safer vantage spot. It gives me some kind of sense of control in a huge metal contraption that should not be able to fly. 

If I don’t get the window seat, I will lean over into your lap uncomfortably to watch outside the plane. It’s certainly not the kind of lap dance one hopes for. 

All in all, I am a much worse passenger to be stuck next to in the air than an overweight person. 

Personally I’d rather be stuck next to the overweight person than the cruel guy who wrote the post. 

But that’s just me.

He might even be worse than the guy I sat next to who watched porn on his phone, or the lady who kept telling me about how she was flying to and from Brisbane in one day just to ride a horse that she felt she had connected to telepathically when she saw his picture on the internet.

Yours truly,

The Nightmare Passenger

Smart Stunt Jockey’s and Their Silly Audience

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Image It has become difficult to determine what is pop culture and what is pop vulture – that is, the celebrities circling the remains of the work before them, salvaging what they can from the remains and getting naked to hide anything missing.

Looking to the past, music was about who could inspire people with their lyrics. The superstars from all genres were those who could produce a cult-like following from their audience with performances reliant on their musical prowess.

Now, success is judged not only on earnings and chart positions, but on video views. Gradually it has become obvious that to rake in the views, one must make a point. And it is simply easier to make a point while naked. It grabs attention and it’s probably super comfy as well. Not to mention the slashing of time spent getting dressed for a shoot.

With the prevalence of Youtube in the music world, there has been the birth of the musical stunt jockey. These jockeys ride steel balls naked rather than horses, and their reigns are on the video charts.

Between Miley Cyrus and Kanye West, the very essence of a stunt jockey has intensified. Now it is a case of who comes the closest to literally producing nonsensical porn to accompany their songs, rather than whose music speaks louder to people.

These stars have come into the pop industry and consequently our daily lives through our ever-blaring TVs “like a wrecking ball”, as a wise woman once told us.

But what do they teach us? Where can we go from here?

While I see no sense in Miley’s video from an art perspective, she is apparently a genius businesswoman. I mean, look at the facts. She has made millions because our society was simultaneously shocked and excited by her nakedness and sexuality. Our own chasteness has seen her laughing to the bank atop a gyrating bear.

It is the reaction to her videos and performances rather than the ‘art’ itself that interests me. It has brought to the forefront of society the idea of ‘slut shaming’. That is, putting women down because of their clothing, or lack thereof. This issue is something rarely talked about, but instilled in children from a young age. Girls are made to teeter between being too chaste and too showy, leaving a very fine line for them to walk. Girls are simultaneously shown through magazines and television that it is the thin girl showing off her body who succeeds, yet in life we have the image of the ‘slut’ brandished in front of us as a warning against the wild.

Similarly, public response to videos such as Kanye West’s ‘Branded 2′ highlight society’s immense talent in self delusion. People ridicule the video, and Kanye and Kim themselves, yet watch it time and time again. It is the same as people unable to help themselves but look at the graphic scenes of a car crash. There is some kind of beauty or appeal in these kind of car wrecks – which I am inclined to think Kanye’s video is.

Above all, people are fascinated by celebrities’ lives. Sad, but true. The more they show, the more we ridicule, yet secretly envy and covet. It’s the idea of the grass is always greener on the other side. But in this case, we like to mow down the grass every chance we get. And then watch it grow again.

Miley and Kanye may seem like egotistical nutbags, but they are smart enough to play on this monumental weakness of our society. They must sit down and think, ‘Alright, the last star got down to a g-string and went Platinum. I’d better go the full Monty for a Multi Platinum single.’

Arguably there is some genius in walking the fine line between racy and downright inappropriate. These stunt jockeys are redefining the art in music as well as society itself. They are playing on our weaknesses and thus highlighting the mix of jealousy and disdain warring within the Average Joe and his wife Joelle and their average kids Joey, Jolly and Joan.

Miley Cyrus has said, “For me, the movement needs to be something bigger than just a record. For me, a movement is something that represents taking over the world.” And, woe for us all, she seems set to do just that.

Perhaps our future is Beyonce and Jay Z ruling side by side as Constitutional Monarchs, with Kanye as the next President and Miley as the Treasurer. The ‘Twerking Queen’ (see: Queen of Cultural Appropriation) could show some butt to Congress to solve any debt crises. A naked stunt could solve world hunger!

I am both excited for and extremely worried about what is to come next – which next one-hit wonder country bumpkin’s daughter will shock the world in unflattering latex? * shudder *