More Voices Against Domestic Violence Is Needed

Trigger Warning: This post discusses domestic violence. Feel free to move on from this post if it’s distressing for you. 

On Tuesday, (or Wednesday?), I wrote a comment on columnist Andrew Bolt’s Herald Sun blog asking whether he saw the ABC’s Q and A special on domestic violence and his own thoughts. Not long after I sent the comment tone moderated, I thought I had been silly to ask the question, knowing he’s a vocal critic of Q and A at the best of times. However, i realised I didn’t regret the query. Simple reason; because it’s clear that the discussion of domestic violence needs to be discussed by everybody, regardless of political persuasion.

It’s only February, and already, around fifteen women have been murdered by a partner. Apart from the killings, there are  women and men who live in terror on a daily basis due to domestic violence, and not just physical, but also psychological and sexual as well. It’s estimated that one in three women over the age of fifteen will experience sexual or physical violence by her intimate partner in her lifetime.

The death of 11- year – old Luke Batty in 2013 again bought the issue of domestic violence into the spotlight. His mother, 2015’s Australian of the Year, Rosie Batty has since been a tireless campaigner against family violence. She was on the panel of Q and A last week. It’s such an important topic that needs both discussion, but even more importantly, more action. Unfortunately, family courts and DCS caseworkers are often stretched to the limit and the best decisions are not always made. Fear of legal repercussions on the caseworkers is also a barrier that is often faced.

It’s no doubt that reform is needed. I think slowly attitudes are changing, but we’re not there yet. In the meantime, I think it would be great if people in the media could keep the discussion happening and reform eventually happens. I think the Q and A special was a move in the right direction.

Did did you see the Q and A episode?

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Joan Jett

untitled I’m going to start off with a controversial statement here and say that Joan Jett is NOT the original queen of rock’n’roll. That goes and will always go to Suzi Quatro. However, Joan has done a lot and continues to do a lot in the music industry.

Joan Jett was born Joan Marie Larkin in Wynnewood, Pennsylvania, on the 22 September 1958, the eldest of three (she has a brother James and sister Ann). She started playing guitar at thirteen after she got a guitar for Christmas. She took a couple of formal lessons, but was frustrated that she wasn’t learning any rock songs. After that, she taught herself.

In 1975, age 16, she formed the Runaways, an all – girl punk rock group. While in the band, Joan and the other girls received abominable sexism, which she is very open about. After she broke away from the Runaways in 1979, she found it really difficult to find a record label that will accept her as a solo artist. In fact she was rejected by (by her own admission), twenty – three record companies that she wrote for, because they thought “women can’t play rock’n’roll”. (I’ve got to say, I feel so sorry for those people who thought that women couldn’t play rock’n’roll because they obviously haven’t headbanged to Suzi Quatro, which is kinda sad).

Long story short, she ended up setting up her own label, with long – time friend, Kenny Laguna. Blackheart records. Since then, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts have become a major rock band that have lasted over thirty years, she has produced 13 albums (not including “Greatest Hits albums). Blackhearts Records continues to support underground punk bands, which include: “Girl in A Coma”, “The Cute Lepers” and “The Dollyrots”.

 

Her lyrical style has changed by the 2000’s, as she admitted to Henry Rollins after her “Sinner” album came out in 2006. Instead of writing about personal stuff like relationships, the “Sinner” album was more political.

Her last album “Unvarnished” seemed to be social commentary. Well, the song “TMI anyway. Have a listen:

 

The BEST song ever was from her “Sinner” album called “Change The World”. Powerful lyrics

May she keep on rockin’!! Fingers crossed she comes back to  Australia soon. 🙂

 

What’s your favourite Joan Jett song?

Childcare

I’m currently studying Diploma in Early Childhood Education and Care, so I’ll say from the outset, yes, this post is biased. I just want to address some criticisms that chilcare, especially the government funding of childcare that often float around.

First things first, there is the argument that children should be raised by their parents/ carers, which is usually, although not always the mother. I don’t think anyone can argue that a child doesn’t need nurturing from their parents. Of course, that’s ideal. I’d say that the majority of mothers (in particular), would like to stay at home with their children if they could.

The problem is, it’s not always possible. Some women work long hours. Some people don’t live near extended family. That’s when childcare can come in handy. There some experts that argue that there are negative effects from long day care including disobedience. Accusations that long – daycare equates to child abuse by the likes of author Mem Fox back in 2008 had recieved criticism from some experts, claiming that it was too harsh. But just say for arguments sake; that there was solid evidence that childcare for babies under two was harmful, then what? Who’s going to help women and make sure they’re financially not too worse off? What about if she’s a single parent (or, for example the father, same thing)? People keep saying, “look after your own kids, Their not our responsibility”… isn’t what most parents are TRYING to do?

Let me defend childcare workers. Their role is to look after the children in their care. There are strict guidelines, the National Quality Framework (NQF) and the National Quality Standards (NQS) to make sure that the best interests of children are at the forefront. These Standards are mandated by law. Childcare centres, preschools, etc are regularly assessed by regulatory authorities.Different frameworks, such as Early Years Learning Framework: Being, Becoming, Belonging were created to ensure that childcare workers/ early childhood educators create the best environment possible for children in their care. Childcare workers are not just people off the street who just ‘babysit’ children. They are qualified, (at least Certificate 3; usually Diploma or above). They have an incredible responsibility for the health and well – being of children in their care. They are service to communities in case parents ned to work (even though, due to costs, some say that it’s not worth it. I’ll get into that shortly). To put it simply, childcare is needed because both parents need to work in a number of circumstances. I can already hear people say, ‘well, back in my day, we looked after our own kids’. With a 30+ year mortgage to still pay off? With job security being so unstable to say the least?

I’d believed since the start of the Abbott Government’s term, that one of two things were going to happen, either the Paid Parental Leave Scheme, or changes to childcare. Since the Paid Parental Leave was so unpopular  among both liberals and conservatives alike (I’d always thought it was too expensive and unfair), money and changes would need to go into childcare. One of the changes that need to be addressed is that of affordability, since many women are often spending a fair percentage of one’s wage on childcare with so little money left, it doesn’t seem worth it.

Whether we like it or not, childcare will continue to be a service that is relied upon. I Get that people disagree with childcare and wish to raise their children full – time at home.  To those people, I say kudos and wish you all the best. To those who feel like they need to use childcare, I can only hope that you find the best service suited to your child’s needs. Hopefully before too long, I may be one of the educators looking after your child/children.

Lawful Discrimination?

Yesterday, I read this post  on Mamamia about a Brisbane woman was fired from her employment at a Catholic social services organisation after it was found out that she was involved in polyamory. Her attempts to sue the organisation were unsucessful both times. Justice Salvatore Vasta highlighted why the case wasn’t successful, saying:

Sexual orientation is how one is, rather than how one manifests that state of being. The manifestation of that state of being can take many forms.

If the contention of the applicant were correct, many people who’s sexual activity might label them as sado – masochists, coprophiliacs,  or urophiliacs could claim that such is more than mere behaviour; it is in fact their sexual orientation.

Ok, BAD analogies all round. One thing: coprophiliia and urophilia are what their name suggests, they are philias. Coprophilia for example, was listed as a paraphilia – sexual devancy in the DSM IV. That’s not what polyamory is. Polyamory is when a person has more than one partner/ lover at once with the consent of everyone involved. It is, as I think he tried to point out clumsily, a lifestyle. It’s not an orientation…. well most people don’t think so (whether monogamy or polyamory is the “natural” state of humanity is heatedly debated, but I won’t got into depth about that now).

 

My main point is the issue of discrimination. Should’ve this woman be discriminated against because of her lifestyle? Now I haven’t been able to find anything just then, but I thought that religious – based organisations were actually exempt from some parts of the Equal Oppportunity Act and the Anti – Discrimination Act (1977) on issues that conflict with their own ethos, including areas such as sexual orientation. Anyhow, obviously this didn’t apply.

But should such organisations have that much autonomy over who they employ when other (secular) organisations don’t have the choice? Should anyone be discriminated against for any reason? My blood use to boil when I heard about discrimination. I thought it should be condemned, no matter what. Now, I realise, it’s not so simple.

How would you fit into a culture of a workplace when your own ethos obviously clashes with that of your employer and employees? Would you be comefortable (using the case above), if you could only bring your spouse to functions, Christmas parties, etc and leave your other partner behind? What if you are gay and in a relationship and the organisation has a moral stance against same – sex relationships? In socila situations, should the partner be involved, knowing the stance of the employers and other employees?

To me, it’s sticky issue when you are in a situation where your own values and private life and your professional life clash. I can see arguements on both sides to be honest. Yes, in an ideal world, discrimination shouldn’t exist, however, I don’t believe in forcingf someone to stand for something that isn’t in line with their own beliefs. Frankly, that’s why I have an issue with gay marriage being legalised in Australia (as in the Marriage Act 1996 being modified). In countries like ENgland, Canada and the US, people and organisatoins have been sued or publicly shamed because these individuals act within their own beliefs. That makes me really uncomfortable. If I was the person, I would prefer to work/ associate with an organisation who freely and is happy to work with me, rather than forcing someone to accept my perceived “lifestyle” or whatever.  I guess I just want everyone to be happy… which I don’t think is possible in these situations.

 

What are your thoughts on exemptions of anti – discrimination laws? Should their be any?

Is Partnered Violence Becoming Glorified In Fiction?

It’s no secret that the first “Fifty Shades of Grey” movie has hit cinemas and causing discussion. And debate. While it was originally celebrated for (allegedly) shining a light on BDSM culture, some critics, incluidng bloggers, have condemned the movie for glorifying abusive relationships and sexual violence.

I’ll be honest, I haven’t read the books and have no desire to. I won’t see the movie either. To be frank, I also don’t have any exposure to BDSM culture and no interest in it (no offence to anyone who is. I get it’s a way some people express their sexuality). However, the issue domestic violence in the context of the movie and the books has caught my attention and that’s what I want to talk about.

Before I do that in depth though, I just wanted to talk about the Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer. Now, I have read all four of the books, so I can offer some critique, unlke Fifty Shades of Grey. Ironically, Fifty Shades of Grey has been called “Twilight fanfic” online.

So, violence and the Twilight series. Everyone knows that Twilight was a story about a young teenager who falls for a vampire. Many people had slammed the series for being so poorly written (for me, the second one was the worst. The story just went dead until the end). There had also been criticisms that the male protagonist, Edward Cullen was emotionally abusive toward the female protagonist, Bella Swan, in part, because he stalked her. I have always looked at it a bit differently. The reason why Edward was hostile to Bella at the start was to protect her from his attack because he was so attracted to her scent. Right until the fourth book, Edward constantly fought the urge to attack Bella, even though, ironically, she wanted him to make her until a vampire and had begged Edwared until the end. Was their relationship healthy? I would say, no. Bella sacrificed EVERYTHING to be with Edward, even her own life. That’s too far. That’s just plain scary.

There is also the argument that both Anastasia Steele (from “Fifty Shades”) and Bella Swan (“Twilight”), are “cardboard cutout” characters that are too intertwined with their lovers (Christian Grey and Edward Cullen). This I do agree with. Like I stated above, I don’t believe that it’s a healthy dynamic. There are meant to be TWO individuals in a relationship, not one losing their identity in the process.

Like I said, I can’t say much about Fifty Shades. What I will say is this? Are authors, particularly female authors, aiming to make female characters strong or weak? Is this a dangerous path that popular fiction is going, taking away a woman’s individuality and life for a relatiounship? Because if it is, it’s not a good message for young girls (or boys for that matter). Respect in relationships should ALWAYS be paramount. Nobody has the right to control anybody. Maybe with all the controversy with the Fifty Shades of Grey movie it may be a good conversation starter about what’s a healthy relationship and what’s not. Because that’s what we need more of!

Have you seen/ read “Fifty Shades of Grey”? Do you think it promotes unhealthy relationships?

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Virginity, Sex and Misogyny

Trigger warning: rape, victim blaming, body shaming. Proceed with caution if any of these are triggering for you. If needed, please get help.

I’ve written in the past in my blog Asexuality In A Sexual World about my problems with the over – emphasis on the importance of both sex and virginity, especially when most of the pressure falls on women. In many conservative/ Fundamentalist cultures, the virginity of a woman is mandated until she gets married. Any woman who doesn’t remain a virgin is at risk of being shunned from her family and community, or even worse, executed.

This emphasis crosses cultural boundaries. The emphasis is present in both Fundamentalist Christianity and Fundamentallist Islam. Most recently, Indonesia has come under scrutiny when Sharia Law police demanded “virginity tests” on women before they can enter school (or I have heard also, before women can join the police force). This is meant to a humiliating procedure which basically includes insertion of a hand inside the woman… I’m guessing to see if the hymen is intact. Anyone with any medical knowledge would know that the state of the hymen is not a strong indicator of virginal status. Hymens can change and stretch (rarely snap or rupture), in sport, inserting tampons, horse riding or a number of other activities. With these activities, the hymen is likely to stretch to the point when a woman does have sexual intercourse, it isn’t guaranteed that she’ll bleed.

But has anybody actually wondered why this was ever an issue? Firstly, in many ancient cultures, a future husband of a woman was to pay a dowry (I think it was usually a monetary payment), to the father of the would – be bride. If she was a virgin, the dowry that the would – be husband offered was higher. Also, women were mandated to be monogamous to a single man so that he knew who his children were (pre – DNA testing obviously). So that would be why, even in cultures (including Islamic sects) that do permit polygamy, it’s always polygny ofr men (multiple wives) and rarely polyandry (woman with multiple husbands, although not completely unheard of, it’s definitely not as heard of).

 

So, come forward about a thousand or so years, and, let’s be perfectly honest, the issue is still there. Most recently, as I wrote before, Iran came under fire after a young woman was executed for “adultery”, when in reality, she’d been a victim of rape. There is still shame for rape victims in some Fundamentalist Chrisitan circles as well.

This needs to stop! HOnestly, it just does! Nobody should be put through any of what I noted up above. The plain misogyny (in these cases) is sickening. Why can’t people just stick to facts (about women’s bodies, etc) rather than myth and stop the humiliation and the evil treatment of women? It should just stop. Period! It’s 2015 for goodness sake!

Childcare vs Paid Parental Leave

Australia Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, has scrapped his controversial Paid Parental Leave and has promised to put the money into childcare. Not everyone is happy, saying that the parent should stay home and look after the children. Other people say that the tax payer shouldn’t have to fund it at all.

So, what do you think? Has Tony Abbott made the right move or should he have stuck with his PPL? Or should both have been scrapped?