Being A Girl

When did being a girl become such a bad thing again?

A friend posted the ‘Like A Girl’ video this morning. It’s been years since I watched it. I had a cry. Even I use language that is derogatory to girls or the perception of girls. And women. What the.

Why do I think that’s okay? Why am I not more conscious about the impact of my language?

I’m happy to be a woman. Proud to be me.

I’m soft. I’m fierce. I can defend myself. I can shower the world in love. I’ve been battered and bruised. I’ve risen. I am everything in one body, one soul. I’ve battled demons and triumphed. I’ve cried, raged and laughed. I’m funny. I’m smart. I’m beautiful. I’m me.

This past three weeks has been full on for my brain and heart. I have chosen to surrender my life to service, whatever that may look like. Whatever fulfills my life’s purpose, I am open to doing. I have no real idea what this will look like, but I’m open and I’ve surrendered.

I am saying yes to opportunities that sit right. And that’s about it. That’s all I can do in surrender. I am trusting that I will he guided to what serves me and the greater good, and I’m dismantling old ways of being and outdated patterns.

And, I’m a girl.

In so many ways, a blessing only.

I can cry and emote and gush, without judgement. I can get angry and scream, without judgement. I can be intelligent and carve my own path, surround myself only with support, and be impervious to judgement. I can be and do and choose whatever I want to be, do and choose.

I am strong – I’ve weathered many storms. I am not angry or bitter or twisted. I love, and I love fiercely, with all that I have. I choose peace over war, when war would sometimes be easier. I choose learning over staying ignorant, when ignorance can be blissful because it requires nothing from us to be. I choose me over others, because I am strong and worthy of all that is good in this life, in this realm, on this Earth.

I am strong. And, I am girl. Woman. Lady. Witch. Sister. Daughter. Aunt. I am me.

“Trauma not transformed becomes trauma transferred.”

Below is a link to a TED Talk presented by Ashley Judd. It has strong language content (including the c word) and some possible triggers for trauma in all its guises (in particular sexual assault and/or domestic violence). 

But it is amazing. 

Ashley Judd is a Hollywood actress and is outspoken. She speaks up. In fact, I should have introduced her as an activist first. That says something. 

Her talk focuses on gender trolling online and how that manifests in women’s real lives. Some of you may roll your eyes at this point, maybe stop reading, maybe not click the link. It will not only be your loss but also the world’s loss. She has some things to say that we all need to hear. And that we need to act on. 

Now. 

I have seen this gender specific trolling in comments on posts on Facebook (my social media addiction of choice). They appear whenever a woman voices an opinion. The trolling is designed to minimise the voices of women and terrify women into submission. 

It is disgusting. 

When we minimise, demonise or objectify women, we are changing the fabric and humanity of society. The consequences of this serve none of us in the long term. 

We all need to be supported to fulfil our potential and purpose in living. For anyone to intentionally bring another person down and corrupt this process is not only reprehensible but also exceptionally dangerous. When we are treated as less than, the ripple effect permanently changes the world we live in. Trauma not transformed becomes trauma transferred, and we are all responsible for minimising the impact of trauma as well as the incidence of it. 

I hope you ‘enjoy’ the talk. 

How online abuse of women has spiraled out of control https://www.ted.com/talks/ashley_judd_how_online_abuse_of_women_has_spiraled_out_of_control

The Times They Are A Changing 

I think that it must be normal that your childhood heroes start to die as you age. They are that little bit older than you, and most have lived hard lives. It does leave me questioning though, who are the childhood heroes today? 

Wake Me Up Before You Go Go is my first choice funeral song because I imagine the people I love in tears, and then wryly laughing as the music kicks in. I’ve had an amazing life, and more often than not, feel blessed and grateful. I have experienced so many incredible things and known amazing people. 

Not that I intend dying today. 

Carrie Fisher has died today (US time). The trailblazers are passing this year, in droves. The people that inspired me to be real, to stand up, to fight for what I believe in, are dying in the year that shackled me. The irony is not lost. 

For a young girl growing up during the seventies and eighties, Princess Leia was a mainstream, socially acceptable, strong woman. Carrie Fisher embodied these qualities in her own life, maybe not always socially acceptable, but definitely authentic and real, fighting the good fight. A true role model, a true hero. 

Emma Watson is a positive role model for young girls. I think I’m struggling beyond her though. Maybe I’m just too old to appreciate what young women offer. 

I was also blessed to have had exposure to the life and work of Audrey Hepburn, an attitude that subconsciously pervaded my role as teacher. Especially relating to where I choose to teach. Her elegance and grace touched me, not necessarily with the language I choose to use. I’m more Carrie that way. Lol. 

I have been blessed to have been touched by female celebrity as much as by real women in and through my life. Strong women who never give up, even when they want to. 

My mother is there. Not always right, but always fighting to survive, to look after us girls, and to live her life. She has been hurt but has never given up. She is real. Her struggles have been real. She endures. My first role model. 

My second took the form of a friend’s mother, becoming my second mum. She struggled with mental health issues in a time when mental health issues were nowhere near as acceptable and understood as they are today. She was there for me, validating my experiences, my reactions, my existence, when all I felt was awkward and insecure. 

Most of my female friends are strong women, living their lives the best way they know how, battling and surviving their demons. 

My third role model is one of my closest friends. I often denounce her wisdom initially, so that I can process it before embracing it, but I acknowledge that that is what I’m doing. And acknowledge this to her. I’m a rebel at heart. Lol. 

Like me, she grew up in dysfunction. She is strong and she is a fighter. She is strong willed and strong minded, whilst being vulnerable in moments of, for want of a better word, defeat. She is unashamedly and unapologetically, her. And she has stood by me, even when I’ve pushed her away, consistently. 

She, too, has been fighting her employer, and through that fight, has confronted herself many times over, resolving little pieces of life struggle triggered by the present fight. Similarly to George Michael and Carrie Fisher, her heart has struggled with the enormity of her fight, but thankfully, her heart has not succumbed. 

I continue to be blessed. I surround myself with strong women who are real. I grew up in a time when it seemed more acceptable for women to not just be tits and arse. And I have been open to the power of love and the desire to survive. 

It is women like my mum, Anne and Donna, and Carrie, who have forged paths that empower and inspire others, that I am most grateful for. And it is important that all of us women who follow, forge our own paths so that we may become beacons for those that follow us. 

Random Observations 

Ah, the joys of language barriers. I’m not sure what I’ve ended up ordering for breakfast. It started with talk about my tattoos and resulted in me saying yes to what I thought was orange juice but may actually be dosa. I don’t know what this is. No idea. And no Internet to check because I’ve checked out lol. I’m sure it will be fine.

Interesting thing to note this morning. I have been thinking about makeup. I haven’t worn any since I arrived. Not through laziness, not even the humidity, but because I feel no compulsion to hide myself. For some reason, when I look in the mirror here, I don’t see ugly or the necessity of a mask. Living authentically? Following my bliss? Joy? 

Interesting though. 

Some more travel tips. Oh, the dosa was divine. Potato and onion in a warm, crisp wrap with condiments to add. 

If you leave Delhi on a Sunday morning, leave extra time for the pandemonium of locals going home. By extra time, give yourself at least two and a half hours. The lines for security check, check in, and then the next security check are huge, especially if you are female (last security check). Having said that, it keeps your adrenaline going and there is not really any wait time. 

Also, be prepared for outbursts of random anger as people lose their patience in the lines. At one point, a soldier with a gun had to sort it out. And this was in the outside security check line. I heard one man scream at another, “You are being stupid Kunda!” I do not know what a kunda is, but I am quite positive it isn’t complimentary.

My driver this morning was very chatty. He lives Dharamshala and has been there three times; the air quality was the first thing he mentioned. And it isn’t surprising, Delhi is so polluted that even on a good day, visibility is poor. With Diwali having been last week, the air is even more contaminated than it usually is. 

India is an interesting contradiction. There is modern and there is ancient. The people tend to drift between the two. There is movement forward and there is stagnation, particularly with women and their rights. There is colour and then blandness. There is good driving and there is bad driving. The streets are dirty, filthy, yet the people are clean and fastidious with tidiness. There is warmth and then there is judgement. But it’s out there to be seen. Somehow it seems, at least on the surface, more authentic. 

But, I am a very short term visitor. I know there is darkness here. As everywhere. It devastated me, back to makeup, that in the beauty treatments on offer here is skin whitening. 

The women are beautiful here. 

What is it with our world that women are just not allowed to be what they are? Is our power really that threatening?

Suffragette

We have the right and responsibility to vote. But, I am not sure we have equality. 

We are still shackled by patriarchy. 

We must look a certain way or we are dismissed. 

We must behave a certain way or we are beaten, slut shamed, dismissed. 

We must still do as we are told, all under the illusion/delusion of freedom. 

I don’t think we were meant to stop fighting. But we did. We believed we had achieved equality and we dropped the fight. As a result, society is moving backwards. 

Young girls are sexually violated; the toys of men who make no attempt to control their animal urges. Young boys, too, violated to be controlled; the way to ensure the gender stereotypes.

Young women are raped, controlled, beaten; subjected to humiliation and degradation through music video clips and foul lyrics, their intelligence undermined by the social need to belong by not rocking the boat. Treated as sexual exploits by men who do not know themselves, and make no attempt to resolve their own inadequacies. 

Older women are ignored, dismissed, non-existent, unless they are sexually desirable. Only then are they seen, but only as a sexual toy, to serve the pleasure of men. 

We had a female PM. Mainstream media ridiculed her, reduced her, denied her. She was “barren”, “unmarried” and “big bottomed”. Her partner was demeaned, his masculinity questioned. The people bought into this rubbish. She was never judged by her merits, just her appearance and lack of sexual desirability. 

Teenage girls believe they must look a certain way, behave a certain way, think (or not think) a certain way, to be desirable, to be accepted, to be okay. 

To succeed. 

As what. Hmmm. 

We still have to fight harder to be heard and to be taken seriously. Society functions following male rules, male justice, male reasoning. Facebook refuses to block users that demean women with a voice. Social media perpetuates the mysogynistic fabric of our society. 

We have forgotten the women who came before us, those who started the fight for equality, and as a result, we have compromised their success. 

Feminist has become a dirty word and women shy away from describing themselves as one. 

Devastating. 

There is nothing wrong or dirty or less than in being a female. Nothing wrong at all. 

Dear Steve …

In the interests of full disclosure, there isn’t much that you say that I ever agree with. However, you have been on one of my favourite shows The Project for a long time and as a result I respect you. I definitely respect your right to express your opinions. 

Again, in the interests of full disclosure, I also don’t necessarily agree with everything that Van Badham says, or the way that she says it; however, I also respect her right to say it. 

I am also a feminist. I am not anti-male and I don’t hate men. I believe that historically there have been significant inequalities in opportunity for and treatment of women. I believe that some of these conditions still exist today. And not just for women, but for minority groups too. 

As an intelligent person, I have tried to educate myself. One of the areas that I have educated myself in is the history of the treatment of women with regards to mental health and autonomy. 

To call a woman hysterical, as Waleed pointed out to you, is historically loaded and associated with the dumbing down and silencing of women; taking away a person’s right to autonomy and self-expression. Historically, women were burned at the stake, beaten, raped, publicly shamed, shocked, drugged, im prisoner, stoned, and killed for fighting against the labels of woman and hysterical

Van was not hysterical. I thought she was well reasoned and calm. I think that you were concerned that she had grouped you in a behaviour that you would not partake in; this is not how what she said came across to the audience. 

Unfortunately, your response was a response typical of many people when their ego is feeling attacked. You came out swinging. And your blows supported the argument she was making and worked against what you were trying to convey. 

You attempted to silence Van, consciously or subconsciously, by talking over the top of her, not letting her finish what she was saying, and ultimately, by calling her hysterical. You attempted to dominate and let your ego do the thinking. 

Van did not say that men couldn’t feel as deeply as women about issues around Donestic Violence. She wasn’t attacking you personally. She did attack your friends. And as you acknowledge, their behaviour was highly inappropriate. And she did refer to those men as your friends as you had

Please, rewatch the footage in full. With a clear head. Research hysteria in the context of women. Understand that your response towards Van, a response that was demeaning in context, is not right and was your responsibility. 

Please don’t continue to blame Van for your response. Own your own behaviour and choices; convey your own evolution. 

Using the description of a woman as hysterical or aggressive does nothing to support decreasing the rates of DV in Australia. Instead it fuels mysogynistic attitudes towards women and fuels the cyber bullying strong women are subjected to hourly in this country. And that just isn’t right. Nor is it something I think you would like to be known for. 

Cheers, 

Tina 

PS. If you want to see the incident my letter refers to watch Q&A from Monday 11.7.16 on the ABC and then The Project’s interview with Steve Price tonight (12.7.16). Form your own opinion. 

Oh dear. 

Return of Kings SMH
The link will take you to an article published in the Sydney Morning Herald, a fairly reputable newspaper as far as newspapers go. I found it on a Facebook page that I love called Mad Fucking Witches

I really don’t know what to say; I’m a fair bit gobsmacked that a group of men can believe these ideas are acceptable, and even worse, important to congregate and fight over. 

The importance of feminism, I tell you. 

Feminist: A Dirty Word?

In short, no. Well, it shouldn’t be.

To be a feminist means that you advocate that all humans have the right to direct their own life. With that, comes an awareness that for women, and for some males (of colour or alternative lifestyles) this has not always been the case (and in a lot of places, still isn’t).

To be a feminist means that you care about others with an awareness of how the political and social structures in society can sometimes (often) erode the rights of ‘minorities’ or anyone that doesn’t fit the status quo or toe the party line.

To be a feminist means that you will advocate for the rights of yourself and others, giving permission for all people to make the choices that best fit their quests in life, free from judgement and/or persecution.

To be a feminist means that you are aware that being alive is sometimes hard for others because of ignorance and stupidity, and you will try to create a safer and more equitable world.

Some will argue that I have really oversimplified what being a feminist is. But I will disagree.

Feminism started with the suffragettes who fought for women to have the right to vote, equal to men, because women are just as smart and just as capable as men. It then evolved into criticism and looking at the power structures within society as they are reflected in social artefacts. But at its core, feminism is simply the striving or belief in a society where all voices are heard equally and all people have the right to choose their paths.

To be a feminist is not to hate men, nor is it to judge others for choices that are different to yours. It also doesn’t mean that you don’t wear a bra or shave your arms and/or legs. To be a feminist has nothing to do with the way that those who are intimidated by strong women  or alternative lifestyles depict them.

Feminism is not a dirty word. And I cannot believe how far Australian society has moved to demonise the word as well as to demonise women who speak out. And when I hear young women saying that they don’t believe in feminism, I shudder.

To move to a time when I cannot exercise my right to think, to speak, to feel, to choose, ohhhhh, kills my soul. Many women before me fought hard and sacrificed much for me to be able to have an opinion, to be educated, to be free. I honour them every day by living my life my way.

Before we demonise feminism and feminists, we need to think of the alternative society that would exist if we could not make our own choices and speak our mind.

Do we really want that.

 

 

 

Feminist

http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2015/jun/22/bridget-christie-feminists-sex-men-book-extract?CMP=fb_gu

Clementine Ford. I’m not a big fan. I find some of her ideas interesting but most a little too self-indulgent. This is quite probably because she triggers a mirror for me … I was once a Clementine. But as we age, we develop a stronger awareness of the ‘other’ and the much ‘bigger picture’. And some of our youthful idealism is sacrificed. Some. Not all. 

Last week she posted a piece on Facebook that was anti-victim blaming and shaming. Her post was spot on. 

Our society does blame women victims … All. Of. The. Time. It’s implied in the language we use and the expectation that women should change their behaviour to avoid becoming a victim. 
The problem with this is that it also marginalises men and strongly suggests that they aren’t capable of behaving appropriately. I’ve known enough men who do behave appropriately to know that this is unfair. 

Anyway, I’m breaking away from my point.

She was hammered for her piece. Metaphorically of course. But only because they couldn’t get to her, and I think they lack conviction. Men and women saying atrocious things. 

One man told her to sit on a butcher’s knife so that she couldn’t reproduce – it won’t be a surprise to you whom have followed my fertility journey to know that I could happily kill this man. 

She has been called a ‘whore’, ‘slut’, a ‘c#*+’, and her body and general appearance denigrated. She has been told she is fat and unfu*#able. Like, really! 

What has our society become? Sisters turning on sisters, and our ‘protectors’ violating trust. How did this happen? 

I am a feminist. It is not the sum of me but a significant part. I am so grateful to the women who stood up for basic human rights and later equality, so that I can write this blog using my own name, I can voice my opinions, I can  have dreads and tattoos and swear and laugh out loud and be WHO I AM without too much fear of persecution. I am a feminist because I own our collective pasts as integral to who I am today. 

I am a feminist because I am grateful. 

And all this means is that I believe in social justice, in equal opportunity, in equity, and in service that reaches far beyond the proverbial kitchen. 

I am proud of Clementine. She stood up and she fought, and fought hard, at a personal and probably professional cost. And she still fights. Whilst I am still not a huge fan, I have respect. And I stand with her … 

With her, and against misogyny, and against patriarchy, and against ignorance, in all its guises. 

Julia Gillard endured the same. And that devastated me. Likewise, I wasn’t a fan. But there is respect. 

Feminism is clearly needed … A new fight ensues.