Tuesday, August 10, 2010


I've been complaining a lot lately about dressing my daughter in pink. I've been arguing that it's limiting, it's narrow, it's only one way of being a girl. The more I think about it, the more I see it's about more than just performing femininity. It's about how women and men still do not have equal access to opportunity in this country.

It's not as if my daughter has any obvious disadvantages. She's rich - by world standards - fed, loved, clothed. She has two parents, seven grandparents and doting aunts and uncles. She's healthy, breastfed, no allergies (yet). She's living in one of the world's most developed and prosperous nations. No war, no famine, no violence, no sickness. Just wealth, comfort and security.

It's not enough. It only seems like enough when you compare it to what so many girls in the world don't have. But does the fact that so many girls are suffering make it okay that my daughter will grow up in an Australia in which inequalities still exist? Yes, it's better than many places. Yes, it's better than it was. But does that mean it's good enough?

This report shows that women in Australia still earn less than men, and the gap is widening, not getting smaller. More than a third of women in this report said that they had experienced physical or sexual violence from a partner. Less money, less power, less freedom, fewer opportunities and more chances of being a victim. This is not what my mother wanted for me and this is not what I want for my daughter.

Little girls get dressed (and choose to dress) in pink to mark out their difference from little boys. But if that difference means my little girl is going to grow up in a world where her genetics are a handicap, forget it. She's a person first, with all the rights every person in the world should have, and that's what I want to remind people when they see her. That it's just not enough to give us pink tutus. Girls and women everywhere deserve much, much more.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

New look, new title

As an unanticipated consequence of my subject about using technology in the language classroom I decided I should try to use my blog more often, more often that is than once every ten months which is how long it's been. I do have a good excuse, but I thought it was time to delve back into the pleasurable vanity of blogging as a handy procrastination tool. I am studying again, I have had a baby. Both these things mean I have no spare time (mostly the second one) and therefore it follows that I need something to do in all the spare time I don't have.
Clear as mud.

The reason for the new title is that I feel having a daughter has sharpened those feminist instincts I had as a feisty teenager and were dulled by early adulthood and other distractions. We live in a sexist world, sometimes so much so it hurts to look too closely at it in case you throw your hands up in despair and go and live in a cave. But a blog is a good way for me to point out all the things I don't like about the world without boring my loved ones to tears, and without sending myself to the asylum by keeping it all bottled up. Which is bad for you.

The first thing I would like to rant in a very unstructured way about is: breastfeeding. Not the act itself, which is pretty damn fantastic, but its sheer invisibility in the world. You never read about it, you never hear about it, you never see it in movies and rarely in life. I can't express milk in public because it's weird. Why is it that I can blow my nose, but not express milk for my baby? This Facebook site was a result of women reacting to the decision by Facebook to randomly delete pictures of them breastfeeding because they were deemed obscene. So, not only is it invisible, when it is out there it's seen as flashing your breasts. The fact that there is a baby involved is somehow so irrelevant to the primary issue which is of course, women as sexual objects. Get over it, world.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

On holidays

Spent the weekend in Canberra after spending the previous one in Cairns - my half-hearted attempt to tour places in Oz beginning with 'C'. It was lovely and cold, as well as cultural and Mum looked after me very well. Putting up with my self-centredness and even buying me lots of purple maternity gear, since the belly is growing and kicking away. I have booked my bed in the hospital and there's no going back now.

My favorite part of Canberra was the National Museum, which was free (excellent), vibrant (excellent) and pretty inoffensive (amazing). I was a little annoyed that the short film introducing the Museum and the story of Australia had no subtitles for speakers of other languages but I hope that eventually Australia will realise that our langauge is not always easy to follow, even if you speak fluent English. The First Australians exhibit also impressed me, as well as teaching me that the Tasmanian Aboriginies are alive and well - always good to actually learn something at a museum.

Funnily enough though, the best exhibition was from New Zealand about the journey to conquer the Pacific by 'the ancestors'. It was really well done and quite thrilling, to think that they had the navagational techniques to sail a canoe across the Pacific to find all those islands, some of which are tiny. I feel I have acheived something by managing the grocery shopping. Makes you wonder if we've really gone forwards at all.


Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Up the duff

Sooo I'm pregnant. The I can't believe it stage has given way to a weird kind of acceptance. It's a bit like being told you're going to the moon. You have seen it on TV and you have a basic idea about what it involves but actually doing it is extremely remote from your life experience. I keep looking warily at screaming children and wondering why I am doing this again. I suspect my desires and needs had nothing to do with it, this is my body just doing it's thing.

Which is pretty exciting really. I can't think of another time in my life when I felt so at the whim of the physical. Every day the bump gets bigger and I'm watching it like a facinated gardener watching their seeds grow into seedlings. Amazing that all that stuff I learnt in year seven biology is happening in my body. It works! Who would have thought all that life giving potential was lurking beneath.

Unfortunately, as thrilled as I am to be pregnant, I don't really look it, I just look rounder than usual. There is a sign on buses and trains for the people you should vacate the seat for and the prego lady is thin with a big bump out front. I am beginning to realise that that is not going to happen to me. I am slowly acquiring a waist that otheriwse copious doughnuts would give me. At the end I think I'll look more like a large bell than a stick with a bump. As a bonus, I also have enormous breasts and keep accidently flashing my students cleavage in tops which were previously quite chaste. So not only am I more voluptuous than usual, I'm also a bit of a poser. Not the serenly maternal look I was expecting.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

The daily grind

After much frustration, thanks to the lovely computer guy at work, I think I've finally worked out what the problem is with my computer being so agonizingly slow I have barely written an email over the last six months, let alone on this blog. And what do you know? It turns out to be the bloody anti-virus software that's slowing me down. Which, like a sucker, I paid eighty bucks for. I don't care if I'm invaded by hackers who destroy the hard drive, anything is better than staring at that little rotating circle and wondering if you should give up or just wait a few minutes longer to send that one email you've been trying to send for ten minutes...

The only reason I bought the software was that I accidentally deleted the software that came with the computer in a misguided effort to speed the damn thing up. Which proves I should not be left alone with a computer and a plan. Anyway cross my fingers, it all seems to work now.

Only two weeks till Christmas, which means two glorious weeks off work. Can't wait. I plan to ride my bike, cook, go out, celebrate and spend time with people in a relaxed frame of mind, with no work peering over my shoulder. Oh, and I also plan on watching a lot of TV, and a few movies. I saw Australia last week and loved the sheer excess of it. Wonderful scenes, music, comedy, drama. It was an all you can eat buffet and I gorged myself, even when I knew it wasn't good for me. Ah Hugh.

Today I was in Roseville paying my lovely dentist $10 a minute to take care of my teeth. Just before I had that privilege, I wandered into a shop which seemed to be entirely filled with upmarket party products. No waving Santas here. A woman in the shop with her toddler was discussing the difficulty of sending her kids of different ages to one of the states most elite private boys schools. "It's so hard when you have two boys," she said "because you've got to drive them to two different campuses." And people think the rich have it easy. Personally I went to a school when I was six, rather than a campus. I wonder what the difference is? Possibly the quality of the lawn on the tennis courts.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The more I see the less I know

Last night I went to see Micheal Franti and Spearhead at the Enmore Theatre and had a fantastic time. I'd forgotten how fabulous the theatre itself is, all deco and shabbiness, and we sat up the top so had a great view. The band came on with so much energy and never stopped, they are a combination of high-energy, inspirational lyrics and raw sex appeal. I haven't enjoyed myself on a Tuesday night like that for ages.
And they had many sniffer dogs, which gave me the sense of being part of some underground drug-fuelled anti-establishment swarming mass. A far cry from the staid English teacher I am during the day. Which is always nice.


Sunday, October 12, 2008

Three things

There are three things which have been a large part of my life this week. They are The Flight of the Concords, hay fever and two books which have made their way into my mental landscape. The Flight of the Concords is a wonderful show. I love it because it satirises many things I like to make fun of, such as men, women, pop music, homophobia, Australian nationalism, American culture and the idea that consulates do any real work. It also gives me hope that in the USA there are many who have an excellent sense of humour and couldn’t possibly vote for a female version of George Bush. The tracks are quite catchy too.
The hay fever is less welcome. I have itchy eyes, a snotty nose and every morning I wake up feeling unrefreshed and lethargic. The only thing the medication does is dry up my nose for a few hours. Every year it feels like my hay fever is getting worse, and for someone who’s never been allergic to anything, being allergic to spring seems incredibly unfair. I love spring. I also love plants and pride myself on my ethical diet and lifestyle. It seems like nature’s way of saying I’m not a real environmentalist. A real greenie surely wouldn’t have to medicate against flowers.
The books I’ve read are The Book Thief and Reading Lolita in Tehran. One novel, one autobiography. Both beautiful and a little self-indulgent. I loved The Book Thief from the first page when I realised it was written from the viewpoint of Death. There’s something about this device I find incredibly comforting. The idea that Death has a consciousness makes it so comprehensible and less alien. It would be so good to believe that Death cared about us, that when we die in terrible ways or simply when we die, that there is some being who notices it and registers the horror of it. Anyway I loved the book from then on. The other thing about it was that it was an unashamed celebration of books, as was the second book I read Reading Lolita in Tehran. Both books reminded me of the power of words to make life bearable, in fact even to give it meaning.
Now the lovely Kate B has given me Persepolis which is a perfect sequel to Reading Lolita in Tehran. There’s so much I don’t know about that part of the world. I love the way that learning about it is like watching a map become detailed while I look at it, things are illuminated I didn’t know were in the dark. I’m starting to understand something about Islam and women. The benefit of knowing very little about a subject is that it’s a perfect excuse to spend hours reading about it.