Pop goes the weasel. Or, recognising adulthood when it slaps you on the back.

A year ago today, my back went pop. Yes, like the weasel in the song, I’d put it under too much pressure carrying heavy, awkward ceremonial shovels at work (don’t ask), and something had to give.

In my case it was the disc at L3, exploding into the space between it and the nerve, causing compression, inflammation and excruciating neural pain like no other, or sciatica as it’s often called.

This unpredictable pain lingers today, two months out from a successful back operation; a surgical procedure called a microdiscectomy, to remove the gunky bits of disc that my body refused to reabsorb, instead preferring to stick around for a 10-month long party, poking into my horribly angry nerve day and night, with all the regularity of a demented 70s disco beat.

If you saw me during this period and wondered why I looked as if I’d seen a poltergeist, I was certainly housing one in my right lower back, enthusiastically stretching its pulsating tentacles into my right hip and leg.

But, back to that ‘pop’. It was a visceral and audible sensation that I won’t forget anytime soon, as I woke with a locked-up back and stiffness I’d never before experienced, and decided to try and stretch it out. Wrong, wrong. WRONG!!!

It kicked off a long, fearfully sobering year characterised by pain, pain killers, loss of control, asking for and accepting help, multitudinous medical and rehab appointments, despair, identity crises, personal doubt and the eye-opening realisation that not everyone would stick with you along your pilgrimage of pain, but others would step up more than you knew they were capable of.

And to the moment that crystallised adulthood? This was not just for me, but for and via my daughter. Despite her young years, she has been experiencing her own pesky back pain, doing prescribed strengthening exercises and physio treatment with some, but not enough relief.

I may have suggested a couple of times that replacing the crappy mattress she inherited when she moved out, with a brand spanker, might help provide much-needed support for a part of her body that really deserves respect and care to get her all the way to and beyond 50, like me.

And bingo, one night, she did it! But spending $900 “made me feel sick, tbh”, messaged this fiercely independent girl. My response was classic mum – you should not regret spending sensible (and nonsensical) money on yourself, you are worth more than a measley (weasley?) $900, and yes mattresses are expensive but your back health is worth more than $900. Welcome to adulthood, I said. And that’s when the grown up penny dropped.

We graduate from childhood to adulthood slowly, moving forwards and backwards over several years, hopefully learning tips and tricks to smooth the way. But it’s when we own our shit, our stuff, our weaknesses and strengths and continue moving productively forward anyway, that progression across the border into adulthood happens, almost by osmosis.

Adulthood really isn’t a dirty word. It’s just saying yep, my back’s stuffed, I’m gonna spend $900 on it, and keep treating it, myself, with respect.

It’s about respect. When you consciously give your own health and well being top priority, adulthood has arrived. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, because ain’t no one else gonna do it for you. That childhood era is over.

So fess up. You’re a grown up too, aren’t you.

Now, where did I put my Harry Potter and Dr Who figurines…

When 1 DIK … is too many

  1. Funny is how 100% of the people I showed this bumper sticker to did not describe it, a photo of which I took a couple of weeks ago after tailing the vehicle into my own workplace car park. What luck!

And clearly I needed to write this blog, because I still can’t get the shitty contents of this graphic art triumph out of my head.

So why is it still bothering me?

Because 100% of the people I showed it to were just as offended as me, responding with either the word itself, or simply with an offended, uncomfortable grimace.

So why isn’t this creepy sticker as funny as the stickee believes it to be? Isn’t it a light-hearted dig at women/girlfriends/wives and their secret desire to be sex slaves within the consensual (oh, yeh mate, of course) confines of a loving hetero relationship? No, if it was, you wouldn’t need a bumper sticker to declare such a personal thing, surely.

But then we are dealing with a man’s ego here, as immature as the day it likely first reared its ugly head, during boyhood perhaps, when praised for not running like a girl or told to stop playing with dolls, because, only girls play with those. A pretty awful generalisation, I know, but so is this image.

Interestingly, the sticker was firmly adhered to the rear bumper of a family Toyota 4WD (another reflection of inadequate appendage size?) complete with window sock and baby seats.

Part of the time, this unnecessarily large car is very possibly driven by a woman – to whom this ‘innocent’ joke applies – and perhaps she has her reasons for condoning it. But on her behalf, I’ll call it out as redundant and inept in its crass, one-dimensional demonstration of how women deserve to be regarded in the community.

The driver was a husky man of about 30, wearing a baseball hat and keenly glued to his mobile phone as I spied him struggling up the stairs, probably to an appointment at a nearby private business – I doubt he was on his way to the adjacent library or seniors centre; I fear his intellectual offering may fall short of this demographic.

A gross reflection of base male thinking this sticker is, but is its grubby content an example of ‘toxic masculinity’?

No! According to US Emmy winning animator, author Mark Greene (don’t confuse him with the fictional yet infinitely more realistic television doctor character Mark Green of ER fame), it’s a product of a ‘toxic culture of masculinity’, not just ‘toxic masculinity’.

Talk about splitting hairs and sticking your head in the suffocating sand of men’s ancient history of inappropriate behaviour towards the female gender. Greene believes the term ‘toxic masculinity’ is likely further damaging men and we really shouldn’t speak this way! Because calling it out is rude and clearly not working.

Greene has recently penned an article called ‘Why Calling It “Toxic Masculinity” Isn’t Helping” at https://tinyurl.com/y77t7dcx or at medium.com

It pleads with us not to use such hurtful language because it is wounding our already terribly damaged and fragile men, who need compassion in these dark times of murdering female partners and mass shootings of innocents, often children.

How about ‘misleading masculinity’ or ‘consent-averse masculinity’ or ‘murderous masculinity’? I think ‘toxic masculinity’ is quite polite in terms of the damage some members of the male gender feel it necessary to inflict on society, daily.

But hey, we know you mean well Greene, just so long as the source of the compassion comes from the slavish section of society we like to call women. Who according to some of Greene’s other articles, if you read between the lines, are at least partly responsible for withdrawing physical contact from their sons during childhood, which causes them to need, nay demand, sex on tap from their wives later in life. Read this beauty here: https://tinyurl.com/yayrh7v2 or over at medium.com.

But back to the sticker – is this a typical display of how men with a bad case of ‘toxic masculinity’ see women/their girlfriend? Either as their mother (a boring A-line dress-wearing servant) or their slave (compliant and exciting, yet disposable)?

Well, now that I’ve been reminded of my place in our non-toxic patriarchal society, it’ll be so much easier to fit in!

I’m hoping as many women as possible see this wonderful piece of contemporary hieroglyphics, along with their sisters and daughters, as an edict of what’s expected in the potentially painful years of heterosexual partnering ahead, if that’s your jam.

But most of all, I hope as many young hetero-normative lads as possible store this little gem of wisdom away for future days, as they search for the pleasure-providing little women of their adulthood.

The rego plate beginning with the prefix 1DIK, is in no way to be misconstrued as the male driver’s true identity, even so far as the state’s transport authority is concerned.

jerk car sticker 3

Hypocrisy kills, Donald

The Australian, 7 Nov, 2017

Responding to a US mass shooting for the second time in six weeks, President Donald Trump said that it wasn’t “a guns situation” that was behind the slayings of more than two dozen worshippers at a Texas church a day earlier.

As he did following last month’s Las Vegas massacre of 58 people, Mr Trump resisted any discussion of gun control during a news conference in Tokyo, where he was beginning his first presidential trip to Asia.

Instead, Mr Trump characterised the shooting as a “mental health problem at the highest level.”


Yes Donald, it is, as you so presidentially put it just hours after another mass shooting in your ‘land of the free’, a ‘guns situation’.

It is also, obviously, a land of those in fear, and a land of the blind, with your propaganda around mental health issues copping the brunt of your blame for another US citizen’s decision to use a firearm to lash out in anger at his fellow humans and community members.

No. Having a ‘mental health problem’ is not a choice, but automatically identifying guns as a practical option to hurt people – an entire nation, the world even – physically and emotionally, to exact what can often be petty revenge, is a common choice, and seen as normal behaviour in your land.

Using and owning guns is a normal everyday activity in your country because despite the well-known lyric, yours is not the home of the brave. Yours is the home of the shit-scared, and with good reason.

13,203 of your countrymen, women and children have died from a gunshot so far in 2017, and devastatingly, by the time I finish writing this piece, that figure will be inaccurate because more people will have died due to a bullet fired from a gun by someone who saw it as an option to solve a ‘problem’, or accidentally because the gun was just ‘there’, not securely locked away or respected for the ultimate life-and-death power it wields when care is not taken.

For more sobering statistics, like the fact there have already been 307 mass shootings in the US in 2017, go to http://www.gunviolencearchive.org/

Donald, you continue to perpetuate this ‘solve my problems with a gun’ culture, by blaming everything else, even the pathetic ‘you are crazy’ line.

Guns do not solve problems; they create them. They are designed to cause death. That’s why people use them. That’s why armies and militia and terrorists and murderers use them – because they kill, efficiently.

Because successive US administrations have failed to exert gun control, it has become more and more entrenched as a way of life, and ultimately death. You choose this death culture by not owning up to controlling guns. We can’t always control people. We can control guns.

Look at Australia. Guns are feared and respected because they end life – life is sacred, isn’t that what you believe? Guns are rarely seen or used in Australia, except for the purpose they were designed. To kill or maim, or to warn that this could be the outcome if you disobey the operator. If you are an animal, you have no idea what is about to hit you or yours. We don’t have that luxury.

Look at the US. Mothers routinely ask the family of a child who wants to invite a new friend on a playdate, if there are guns in the home and if so, are they securely locked away. This is how she decides if little Johnny can play with his new friend Olivia. Is there a greater chance that little Johnny could be killed, either accidentally or on purpose, while playing hide and seek with his new friend Olivia? How chilling. How anti-social. How anti-human. How anti-life.

Because you all know little Johnny could be accidently or on purpose shot in a drive-by either before, during or after said playdate, or while he’s still at school, or even at church or doing the shopping. These activities – playing, learning, worshipping and shopping – are normal. Doing them with a gun is not.

Why is this so hard for you to understand, Donald? Or are you really as dumb as they say?

If guns were not seen as an option for dealing with a problem, your administration might better support organisations who are trying to provide all important mental health support to American citizens who need this help – that would be a normal thing to do. Having a mental health problem is a normal thing for most people at some time in their life – even you. Will you resort to using a gun to solve your problems? Or will someone take that option and use it against you? The stats show either is a strong possibility in your country.

Talking to someone, each other, reaching out, offering help would be a normal thing to do. Eating a healthy diet, participating in regular exercise and committing to belong to your communities would be a normal thing to do.

Not stocking up on ammo, sleeping with a gun under your pillow, buying the right suspender to discretely and fashionably tote an undergarment gun, or shooting a classroom of innocent children.

Do you get it yet? Your nation has a ‘mental health issue at the highest level’ which you are enabling: that gun ownership and use is normal.

It is not.

When Americans make up about 4.4 percent of the global population but own 42 percent of the world’s guns (according to a 2015 study by Adam Lankford, a professor at the University of Alabama) via http://www.nytimes.com, life is cheap.

You continue to nurture a nation of civil terrorists. And hypocrisy kills.


With profound sadness,

An objective outsider.


Image credit: Mario Tama/Getty Images

Men, this desolate truth, and its massive responsibility, lays with you

Yes, I’m a feminist. But you knew that, right?

I’m proud to admit it. There’s no shame in wanting equal rights for women and men, especially when there is so much inequality, much of it insidiously slipping beneath all our radars and the vast majority of it impacting women. But you knew that too, right?

But what about when people misunderstand feminism, thinking it’s an excuse for man-hypersensitivity or even man-bashing, and it colours the way we see men, their roles and value in general?

And then this affects the very minutiae of our lives, and those for who we are responsible? Like children; impressionable and sponge-like by nature, they learn by example.

I’ll admit to recently finishing Clementine Ford’s Fight Like A Girl, which gives a fascinating insight into how sinister patriarchy is, right from pre-birth with how boys and girls are innocently expected to look, think and behave in respect to one another.

The book is profoundly awakening, and I’ve been looking at things in a new way, grasping more of the roots of why and how I see myself as the woman I do.

Which is why my views on feminism impacted my reaction to a staggeringly sad story I heard the other day – one that left me shaking my head, pondering if in fact the demonization of men could be caused by a misunderstanding of feminism.

Here is the story: A childcare centre in a once working class now gentrified, affluent but bohemian Perth western suburb was recently compelled to send letters home to all its parents explaining the benefits of employing male carers to interact with their young offspring.

Why, you ask? Because it employs two young men as qualified carers (because men make up 50% of our community and also aspire to care for and educate children in a professional capacity), but some parents had requested their child/ren not be cared for by men at the centre, while others actually withdrew their child/ren completely because they felt it inappropriate for males to be employed in the childcare field.

A pervading feeling of sickness still lingers with me after hearing such a terribly woeful indictment of our times. But even more confusing was trying to work out where we as a society could look to find the reason for this, and then hopefully, a solution.

The mother who told me this story has a small son attending the centre, and was just as stunned as I, loving that her boy had established such a great bond with these male carers; learning how to count in a foreign language, enjoying the opportunity to be expressive and playful with both male and female adult role models in an educational setting.

How must these men have felt upon hearing that parents regarded them with suspicion? Rejected, hurt, defamed? I certainly felt gutted on their behalf.

In Fight, Ford talks about the temptation for women to go overboard in sparing men’s feelings when it comes to advocating for equality, and I’m sure we can all think of many examples where women have endured unfair attitudes/treatment in the workplace based solely on their gender. Does this story fit neatly within these parameters – are these men being unfairly targeted due to their gender?

Such a hopeless yet accurate reflection of where we are currently mired in this gender equality stand-off has been the subject of much personal rumination.

Could it be the fault of feminism that men are being rejected, and children the ultimate losers, of this worrying and seemingly unfair trend?

Could it also be a result of the ongoing Royal Commission into Child Sexual Abuse and its damning findings, which do nothing for men’s PR, but are so vital for victims, closure and healing?

Are we in the relative calm before a perfect man-hate storm?

I relayed this story to a man and his response was forlorn, barely there, just sad. And it does leave you feeling kind of powerless.

But surely, when the well-rounded education and care of children is at risk, despite women still making up 95% of employees in the childcare sector, isn’t it time we encouraged and welcomed strong, positive male role models into the lives of more young boys and girls?

We are all in this together – in all our diverse forms.

Shouldn’t we be striving to make it normal to see men and women in non-traditional roles if they are doing a bloody awesome job?

And how did we get here, anyway?

Disturbingly, after an awful lot of thinking, I came upon the only answer there is.

Men, this desolate truth, and its massive responsibility, lays with you.

It is men who have been responsible for the extreme majority of child abuse down through the ages, a chilling reality that continues today.

To pretend otherwise, would be to give men the benefit of the doubt, a free go, letting them off, again – something Ford says we’ve all been taught to do, thanks to patriarchy.

This week at UWA, WA Chief Justice, Hon Wayne Martin QC, will host the Symposium of Child Sexual Abuse Prevention.

He is quoted on PerthNow – Justice Martin said there were “too large a number” of child sex abuse cases before the courts and it is a “significantly bigger problem than people who are not in the justice system would appreciate”.

“There is a perception out there that it’s stranger danger that is the problem, whereas in fact, most of the child sex cases we see in the courts are either familiar or institutional.”


This means children are being taken advantage of in institutions or within the circles of family and friends, where we would hope they are safe.

In the same article by Belle Taylor, clinical psychologist Christabel Chamarette says most child sex abuse happens within families but many abusers could be helped, and even stopped, with treatment.

“Paedophilia really only applies to a small percentage of men, 10 per cent at most, who offend against children who are fixated and have a preoccupation with sexual offending against children,” Ms Chamarette said.

We cannot blame mothers and parents for feeling uneasy about having their children cared for by men, as sorrowful as this is.

We can all learn from past mistakes, this is how we perfect the art of being human, but surely we can’t as a society, also think it’s ok to throw men to the scrapheap when it comes to childcare and education. And we definitely cannot allow men to continue not taking responsibility for owning up to and fixing this travesty.

Lord knows child care is bloody hard enough as it is without it being considered undervalued women’s business only. And we women have been fighting for an eon to have men be more active in the vital and rewarding role of nurturer, if not for the sake of children, for men’s own benefit – men speak of being more in touch with their own emotions as a result of more time spent caring for their babies and children.

Men, it’s time to step up. Abuse of any kind, of any gender, is unacceptable. It’s doing your gender no favours, and severely damaging the lives of mainly women and children. And that’s without mentioning the astronomic male on male physical assault rates.

Please redress this dispiriting balance, to put an end to this pain, these gender wars, so we can unite.

Before this planet implodes and returns to the space dust it once was.

Fall from grace not a big issue in 2020

It probably takes a bit to make a seasoned vendor of The Big Issue blush, but I managed it a couple of Sundays ago. And he wasn’t the only one to feel the warm sensation of ruddy cheeks.

Popular local vendor Jarron was offering his national mag outside South Fremantle Shopping Centre as I finished my last minute grocery stock-up, so I thought I’d check if I had enough coins to cover the Christmas edition.

I noticed The Big Issue 2021 calendar was out too, and as my desire to have one of those ballooned, I grimaced, bemoaning the likelihood that I probably wouldn’t have enough cash to cover that as well.

And then Jarron, a twinkle in his eye, holds up the small white square pendant around his neck – a portable EFTPOS device! Ingenious sales tactic!

Thrilled, I gush “it’s your lucky day” while nursing my grocery purchases and simultaneously reaching into the irritatingly tight zip pocket of my weekend handbag to whip out my bankcard.

Flop. A bright blue condom packet falls bluntly on the ground between us. Pppfffffttttttt!

After a small but achingly awkward pause, there is no other option but to howl with laughter as we both turn bright red.

Lamely, I manage to sputter “I know I said this is your lucky day, but I promise I was not propositioning you!” He seems doubtful. I’m aghast at the prospect he thinks I’m a sleazy old tart, but that just makes me laugh harder.

My daughter arrives on the scene just in time to witness all this, and quickly bends down to pick up the offending item with an exasperated “muuuuuuum”.

Honestly, I don’t know what was more embarrassing. All of the above, the fact that I never got to use the condom or, much like its owner, it was well past its use by date having been in that pocket at least four years!

And where, I hear you ask, is the condom now? In the bin. Right alongside my dignity.

(Im)Moral of the story: Clear out your handbags regularly, and assume that technology will always move faster than your brain.

Merry Christmas, happy reading and give generously. xxx

Not a big issue, compared to a global pandemic…thanks Jarron! 

The tip of the iceberg: the ugly truth about Mt Everest

The longer I live, the less careful I am about offending other peoples’ sensibilities and opinions, by expressing my own. Lofty or otherwise.

I’m not 100% comfortable with making people less than happy to know me, but sometimes I think my borderline ‘old fashioned’ thinking might just be spot on. Worth sharing. If only to spark an interesting debate.
So, if you don’t care for others’ opinions, it might be time to check if the postie’s been, absent-mindedly make a cuppa or get back to picking that ingrown toenail. I think you’ll enjoy that a lot more than reading what’s next.
White, freezing, beautiful, neck-breakingly high at 8,848m, unforgiving, deadly.
White, mature, middle to upper class men (I know there are others, but they seem to make up the bulk of these questionable heroes), what gives you the right to defy the human body’s red flags plus the innate sacredness of this mighty monolith by ‘conquering’ it, knowing full well you could die or do yourself a massive injury while doing so, consequently leaving behind a bottomless pit of sadness for your long-suffering family and friends?
Am I making a mountain out of a molehill here?
For years I have harboured a deep, growing distaste of Everest climbers. I think they could be the very pinnacle of narcissism.
These affluent folk talk about the sense of achievement it gives, how important ‘summit-ing’ Everest is to them personally, how elusive/hypnotic/alluring this challenge is, how they’ve dedicated their whole life/bank account/spare time/family unit/job/sanity to this inane pursuit.
I. Don’t. Get. It.
To date, 300+ people have died climbing Everest. Countless of these remain on the slopes of this amazing landform, having died while trying to get to its summit or back to base camp. It’s uppermost section is called the deathzone for goodness sake!
And everybody talks about how terribly sad it is when someone suffers altitude sickness, loses multiple fingers/toes/nose tips to frostbite, or karks it mid way. Yet it’s entirely preventable.
Unlike diseases like cystic fibrosis which eventually leaves its patients unable to breathe, a lung transplant the only way to preserve their life.
All the while, shortness of breath and altitude sickness, are all relished as part of Everest’s macabre thrillseeking, death-defying adventure. Maybe I’m overstating it, but surely other testing hobbies – table tennis, petanque, underwater chess – carry risks that are not so deadly.
Those that don’t make it back leave behind devastated family and friends who rarely achieve closure because it’s too dangerous to recover the bodies of their loved ones to say a proper goodbye. Not to mention the financial cost of recovery expeditions.
I find that unutterably sad. Heart-rending. I can’t imagine having to doggedly support the person you love prepare for such a selfish activity knowing full well that serious injury or death are quite possible outcomes. And then they survive the ordeal, only to do it again from another angle?! The south face from Nepal or the north face from Tibet.
So many things in life involve risk. People are often shocked when I reveal that I’ve been skydiving. While three months pregnant. Yes, that was risky to me and my unborn child, who had no choice. Some would say it was irresponsible. Certainly if the ripcord didn’t pull, which was my doctor’s summation of my proposal. I’m trying not to be flippant. I know how this may offend some people, especially those who struggle to conceive.
But I feel like climbing Everest is a highly unnecessary activity. The last time no deaths were recorded was 1977.
This climbing season has been the most fatal in recent years, with 11 people dying up there as many others wait in line (even Everest has queues!) to take their shot at cheating death.
And the tonnes of rubbish left behind since George Mallory and Andrew Irvine attempted to climb up to the summit in 1924, is staggering.
Heroic expeditions this year, specifically to collect rubbish, recovered 4 bodies and three tonnes of rubbish. And that’s only the tip of the iceberg!
Poo is another pollutant stuck on the mountainside. Sherpas are supposed to bring it all down, but it’s such a shit of a job, much of it is covered by snow and left to freeze.
Now think about climate change, and its melting glaciers and polar caps. Everest is no longer such a pretty picture.
I don’t think climbing should be banned, but perhaps there could be better controls on who receives a permit, the numbers of these issued each year, and perhaps an upper limit.
I just wish these people would think a bit more deeply about this particular pastime and its empty reward.
A whole industry revolves around Everest. It’s big business, especially for the poor nations of Tibet and Nepal. But there must be a safer, more respectable way to enjoy this icy mountain that isn’t so exploitative.

Australia Day – I’m not feeling it

26 January 2021: I wrote the blog below two years ago and I am still questioning Australia Day.

In fact, I can no longer subscribe to it because I don’t believe in it.

This year’s theme, according to Auspire, is ‘reflect, respect, celebrate’. I’m comfortable with the first two, but not the third, as I said in 2019.

I can’t celebrate Australia Day until it stops being a glorification of the moment colonisation of this ancient nation’s people and lands kicked off. This is in the eyes of our Australian First Nations, and in the eyes of many other Australians, who are evolving and learning and starting to see things more clearly each year, me among them.

I want to see the date changed. I believe it will be in time. It has to be. Symbols are so important throughout culture and belief systems the world over, and so of course, 26 January is a day of mourning for our proud, stoic First Nations People. Why would we drag them though this torture every year?

The issue is so much bigger than this, than this day. So many changes still have to be made, and I believe change is happening, steady and sure. This will just be another one of those fundamental changes.

Our white privilege says it’s ok, in fact dictates, that we celebrate this nation on 26 January. But I, and a growing number of Aussie citizens say Not Today. And we are asking for many other fundamental changes, detailed in the 2020 Closing the Gap report are among the most pressing for our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples: https://ctgreport.niaa.gov.au/

I’m growing impatient, but all the while I’m making a difference in my own life, sharing my attitudes subtly and not so subtly. What’s a little discomfort for me, when our First Nation Peoples have been experiencing it multiple times daily for 233 years. And continue to.


24 January, 2019: I’ve been questioning how I feel about Australia Day. Have you?

The day before and after 26 January is more Australian to me than the day we have all been forced to give thanks for the privilege of calling this ancient island our home, or risk being seen as unAustralian.

Being Australian is a feeling, and I’m not feeling it as authentically as I’d like on this ‘gazetted’ day. All the other days are fine.

Why? Because it’s become a nationalistic circus that may as well be Valentine’s Day or St Patrick’s Day or some other meaningless consumer-focused pissant excuse for celebration.

And that’s the word I can’t reconcile – celebration. Australia Day is not a celebration, but they keep forcing us to see it that way.

It is a commemoration of our history, an acceptance of it, a recognition of its ongoing affects, the successes we’ve had in addressing the hangovers and what is still to be achieved in our evolution as a lucky country for everyone, not just the privileged, blinkered few.

If there is anything to celebrate at all, it’s the outstanding survival of our Aboriginal people, against all the odds. Now that is something to be proud of, and probably even deserves its own day, but that’s a blog for another time.

At this point, I must say that I also reject the notion of a combative ‘invasion day’ stance. Clearly, this and any aggro, does nothing for atonement,  forgiveness or positive progress.

I believe the culture and main messages around Australia Day must change to force growth and a more mature attitude around our identity. 26 January is a fact we can’t and shouldn’t ignore. It crystallises the moment Australia changed from how it was for 60,000+ years to how it’s been for the past 231. As we painfully know, this date is not one of celebration for Aboriginal Australians, and therefore neither should it be for us.

It should be a day of reverence, thanks, contrition, reflection, growth and a commitment to do better than what was inflicted on this nation on 26 January 1788. Not one where we arrogantly thank our lucky stars with shameless millions spent on fireworks that fail to mask the ills of what is really going on in this country – the ongoing pretence that we have said sorry, that we collectively mean it, look at all the wonderful things we’ve achieved in its name, so stop your whining and have a beer/cerveza/craft brew-shandy/cider/charddy-snag/lamb chop/lamb cutlet.

Like Anzac Day, there should be community events (a humble but dignified group hug, if you will), deep reflection, a feeling of optimism for what we’ve achieved and will continue to, all imbued with that easy dry Australian good humour.

Not a glorified ‘look at how fantastic we are now’ opportunity to show-off to the rest of the world. At the moment, Australia Day doesn’t feel like it’s for all of us – it feels like an empty, going through the motion for the benefit of onlookers. Maybe aliens? I’m pretty sure even they are aware that Australia has a black history.

Like Melbourne Cup Day, I’ve decided to disown it. Last year I said #nuptothecup. I don’t identify with anything to do with Melbourne Cup Day – the animal racing for human gain/entertainment, the animal cruelty, the gambling, the incessant focus on women’s fashion (if I see another cliche ‘fillies on the field’ headline, I’ll scream).

This year, I’m saying #AusDayNotThisWay. Parties are great, but nup, not the super-sized national inauthenticity that we are guilted into embracing.

Make no mistake, I love the quality family and friend time, spent at these events, the micro love happening with our nearest and dearest. But I’m wondering how many grown ups take it upon themselves to let our kids know why we have gathered, why we’re having a barbie, watching 30 minutes of self-indulgent fireworks. Are we telling our kids that were celebrating the dispossession of an entire nation? No, there’s a lot of glossing over the facts going on, if not the complete ignorance of it.

And here’s the rub – it’s not the date I have a problem with. Well, yes, there is the very obvious problem of what happened on 26 January … and the decades of heartache wrenched upon Aboriginal Australia ever since. I have a problem with that.

But I think we need this date in our faces to remember that very pivotal and sobering moment in our history. A history that bleeds into what happens in Australian society today. This is why Australia Day (on any date) is not a celebration – it’s a commemoration, a remembrance, an act of respect, a commitment to do better, a recognition of the good that has been done and how we are changing our culture to be more honest and compassionate. I’m not going to apologise for the repetition, here.

Move that date and we are conveniently sweeping the reality of what it will forever mean for this country, neatly under the shag pile. Honestly, I can’t understand why the right wingers aren’t already cynically campaigning for a new date.

So what happened to irrevocably change the course of early history on this continent 231 years ago on 26 January, 1788?

According to the National Australia Day Council:

Captain Arthur Phillip, commander of the First Fleet of eleven convict ships from Great Britain, and the first Governor of New South Wales, arrived at Sydney Cove on 26 January and raised the Union Jack to signal the beginning of the colony. Source: https://www.australiaday.org.au/about-australia-day/history/

Of course, we all know this is bland speak for the systematic invasion of the island nation already governed and cared for, for 60,000+ years by countless peaceful first nation Aboriginal communities.

Federation followed on 1 January 1901, the invasion continuing with Aboriginals not recognised federally in any form, only on a state by state basis as a burden to be managed, not to whom rights or recognition were asserted.

In 1962, the Commonwealth Electoral Act was amended so that all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people could vote. Source: https://www.civicsandcitizenship.edu.au/cce/ad4_what_rights_did_aboriginal_people_have_between,9589.html

Aboriginals were recognised in the Australian constitution via the 1967 Referendum which gave Commonwealth permission for Aboriginal people to officially be counted in a Census, finally making them federally visible – 179 years after the invasion.

An invasion that was plotted well before 22 August 1770 when Captain James Cook first raised the Union Jack on Possession Island, Sydney, claiming the eastern half of the continent for Great Britain.

Staying with 26 January is the only fair conclusion I can come to right now. I know this is a painful day for our first nation peoples but we can’t afford to forget the harrowing reality of what this has meant to the shaping of our nation and its indisputable role as a safe haven for boat people ever since, even if they were government-sanctioned to provide labour and grow the population of a fledgling colony. Which we remain – there’s no Republic here or on the horizon. We’ve got some serious maturing to do before that can even be considered via a credible nationwide discussion.

I’m also not in favour of referendums of any size asking people if we should or shouldn’t commemorate Australia Day on 26 January. This is a free ride for the polarising, potentially hateful re-eruption of the us and them mindset championed by the likes of those who really are Pauline Hanson in disguise.

And you don’t have to scratch too deep to identify that cohort. They are rife on countless community Facebook chat groups where true colours are on display faster than a threatened blue ring octopus. That’s the only place they deserve to be. Sadly, unless they read more widely and critically assess other perspectives, their narrow mindsets will remain frozen in time.

Mass media means misogynism

It’s finally happened. I’ve been MIA for some months, but today I’m up in arms enough about something that I had no alternative but to put fingers to keyboard and share my disbelief. And fury. And share an awesome learning opportunity!

What’s my problem this time, I hear you mutter? Misogynistic perpetuation in newspaper headlines – stay with me, it’s just the one headline (for now) but it illustrates how saturated western society is in the myth that women are second class citizens worth making a public joke of.

This is the headline (The West Australian, Page 7, 31 October 2017) that’s offended me – Ashamed Broad sorry for ’heartache’.

What does it say to you?

One the one hand you could interpret it as saying an embarrassed woman is guilt-ridden for causing distress and sorrow.

On the other it could be saying a shame-faced person named Broad is apologetic for the misery he/she has caused.

What it actually says is that a humiliated man named Mr (Nathan) Broad is feeling guilty over the misery he caused to a woman, or as some may think of her, a broad.

So why the need for the double entendre, the play on words, the cheap shot?

We all know the word broad can also mean ‘woman’. The use of ‘broad’ in this context apparently originated in the USA in the early 1900s, referring to a defining characteristic of the female form – their hips – which are proportionately wider (broader) than those of men.

According to Online Etymology Dictionary https://www.etymonline.com/   this use of the word may also trace to American English abroadwife, the word to describe a woman (often a slave) away from her husband.

It goes on to say that because of this negative association, and the rise of women’s athletics, the track and field broad jump (1836) was renamed long jump, circa 1967.

But back to the story and it’s tacky headline. AFL Tigers premiership player Nathan Broad has avoided sexting charges despite broadcasting via social media a photo he took of a topless woman wearing his premiership medal.

The act of Nathan Broad taking the photo was consensual but, as Insp Everett Moutsidis of Victoria Police pointed out, just because a person consents to having a photo taken does not mean they automatically give permission for it to be broadcast far and wide.

Nathan Broad will miss the first three games (oh dear, missing out on playing a few games of footy – harsh!) of next year’s AFL season and has apologised to the woman, whom he refers to in said apologetic statement as a ‘young woman who I cared about.’ Bless.

It’s a slap on the wrist for a crime many others have rightly been charged and convicted of, and penalised for. Forget double entendre, what about double standard! Reportedly, the young woman in question dropped her complaint to police. That’s her call but it doesn’t mean sexting without consent is acceptable – it’s a criminal offence.

And apparently it’s ok for a sub-editor and an editor of a newspaper to write and/or cast a blind eye over a headline, which they probably think is clever and witty, but which has a double meaning that demeans women.

Or perhaps they didn’t even recognise the double meaning? And this is the point I’m making – the negative representation of women in mass media is seen as normal in our society, in fact it’s so normal people don’t even see it when it’s right under their noses in bold black and white print.

Ignorance is no defence. The media continues to take advantage of these unimaginative, low opportunities while some of its reporters earnestly report on the damage misogynism has done and continues to do to generations of girls from the gender pay gap to being entitled to half the superannuation of men despite contributing to society by raising small children and caring for sick parents while either not earning a wage or working casual jobs with no security, for years lest they be shamed for seeking permanent fulltime work and the security it offers.

Yup. It runs that deep. Misogynism and its effects, I mean. Just ask Australian author Clementine Ford and West Australian blogger Constance Hall.

We did not need a headline that apportions blame at this woman’s feet by intimating she should be ashamed for having had her photo taken with her top off and a premiership medal around her throat.

No. She did it consensually. Nathan Broad was in the wrong. He sent the photo to his footy mates to brag about how good he thinks he is at winning over members of the opposite sex with his premiership bling. Or just to make the young woman he described as someone he ‘cared about’ feel and look stupid for the rest of her life.

End of story.

I love you, maaaate

I recently heard something so beautiful, it stopped me in my tracks. It wasn’t birdsong, or a baby’s gurgle. It was a man speaking openly and publicly of his love and friendship for some significant men in his life.

Even more strangely, the man doing the speaking was a high-profile AFL footballer, relating his affection for his fellow footballers during a media interview in the lead-up to one of last week’s Round 5 games.

It made me feel warm and fuzzy…no, not “that” sort of warm and fuzzy – refreshingly, I was filled with respect, relief and high regard, not to mention hope, happiness and humanity at the words of Brownlow Medallist and new West Coast Eagles midfielder, veteran Sam Mitchell.

Following injury the previous week, there was speculation whether Mitchell would be fit enough to play against his old team Hawthorn, where he spent his entire AFL career until six months ago, and where he has many old friends.

This is what he had to say:

“At the end of the game, you know, we’ll shake hands and have a cuddle and tell each other you love ‘em, but for the two hours before that, it’s footy and I’m going to do everything I can to help the Eagles win.”

If you don’t want to listen to the entire 12-minute video interview (unlikely, I know), fast forward to the 7min.14sec mark to hear the golden sentence.


Golden because men expressing love for other men out loud and in public, because!

Blokes rarely speak openly of their love for their male friends, and it’s a shame, because friendship is golden and it’s always nice to hear such heart-warming affirmations. Especially in a world full of online trolls, nasty jibes and just plain bad, sad news. Some of it unfortunately about the less than complimentary behaviour of men.

Yes, men love their male friends, should tell them that they do and hug it out to boot. Why? Because it feels great and should be normal social discourse, and not just with a few beers under the belt. We girls do it alllll the time!

Besides, science long ago proved the benefits of oxytocin, the hormone our bodies produce when we give, feel and receive love, including everything from healing burns, to strokes, high blood pressure, heart disease, kidney malfunctions, schizophrenia, and autism. Read more here: http://bit.ly/2poVlMy

Disappointingly, I only heard this clip played once on a radio news bulletin, but did see and hear many other snippets of the same interview played ad infinitum across the media landscape that day.

Personally, I found this the most fascinating, meaningful and memorable part of the entire interview.

Onya Sam Mitchell! I love your frank, open, honest, down-to-earth, emotional, straight-talking style, even if you are an Eagle 😉

Thanks to © 2017 The Roar – Your Sports Opinion for the awesome photo of Sam Mitchell enjoying a friendly onfield embrace from former Hawthorn teammate Shaun Burgoyne.

Telly’s fading light

We used to have a thing.

Me and the Telly.

We would meet every night, around 8.30 to bask in each other’s light until, satisfied with my daily bout of visual stimulation, my ‘just resting’ eyelids would dampen my consciousness into a helpless, exhausted slumber on the family micro suede lounge.

My Telly would watch over me, whispering sweet god knows what into my shell like (the one not crushed into pins and needles upon the lumpy cushion), standing guard until I’d finally manage to remotely kill it and drag my pop-culture drugged body and brain to my waiting bed.

This went on for a couple of years. I would hang out to give in to this always waiting nightly companion, to indulge its silliness or seriousness; it never stood me up…unless there was a power blackout and candles became my fairweather friends.

Granted, sometimes Telly was a bit boring and repetitive, but I forgave it and pushed through those times with gritty determination not to lose our connection, sealed with my inevitable petite mort.

Telly was my daily release from the stresses of full time work, accommodating the needs of growing children, keeping my mind off emotionally draining personal issues. Until…

Telly began to appear jaundiced, less interesting, untrying, no longer addressing my fickle changing needs. I’d seen and heard it all before, the predictable one-liners, ulterior motives, self-serving messaging and imagery. Our connection was waning.

And my head was eventually turned by another more soothing, dependable suitor.

My Bed.

Pimped with new linen, soft lighting, a plethora of bedside novels, my Bed and I began a torrid affair that continues to this day.

Some mornings I can barely drag myself away from my Bed and the hollow I’ve made in the very fabric of its soul. We eat together, read together and sleep together, often enjoying an afternoon delight I could never dream of experiencing with Telly.

Occasionally I flirt with Telly, and although I sometimes hanker for those old days, I know the magic’s all but….gone, like the pinprick of light in the centre of the screen when “there’s no more Telly, it’s time to go to bed, as Neil from the Young Ones was want to moan.

We know each other intimately, embracing each other’s faults and lumps, celebrating them no less! Bed doesn’t try to sell me new PJs to replace my old faves, instead becoming my bed clothes without complaint or jibe.

We even have our own song…Gonna live while I’m alive, and sleep with my Bed.

Thanks for the inspiration Jon Bon Jovi.original-philips-television-ad-retro-tv-1960s