Thursday, 27 March 2014

thrifted thursdays: restyle2013's photo-a-day opshop challenge, part 2

last week there was part 1, this week I have roughly another 10 parts to recap from my attempt at last year's opshop challenge. great fun!

i missed prompt 11, which was colour block - more on account of the fact i wasn't home to get the colour-blocked things... that's my excuse.

12. floral - bracelet and flower-shaped pin from whistler, floral long-sleeved shirt $4 at lifeline, and the most gorgeous crochet clutch, $4 from lifeline, armidale.

13. tying the know- purple plastic beads from who knows where, dior tie around the wrist from reuseit, whistler, and belt, savers in brunswick for a few hot dollars.

14. wool - cardigan from savers, brunswick. i used to get so much wear out of this in melbourne winters, and it got left in a bag when i moved to canada... thankfully the moths did not make a meal of it, and now i can love it once more.

15. leather - belt from lifeline, $6

16. opshop love - this is all my favourite things from opshops, set off nicely by cherry blossoms.

17. neon - the best i could do. a badge i picked up at work one day at reuseit, whistler.

18. less than $10 - these shirts were $4 each from an opshop of forgotten name in strawberry hills, sydney.

19. black and white - all the things were from reuseit, whistler. the best place to work is oftentimes an opshop. although there are trying days... but mostly there is just treasure.

20 was 'cocktail' and there was just nothing in my wardrobe. again, i have remedied this situation... never fear.

more treasures to be seen next thursday... stay tuned.

Friday, 21 March 2014

Friday Feminism: Facebook debates

An interesting thing happened to me recently. I posted a thing on my Facebook page about masculinity, and the role of feminists in discussing masculinity. I had a response to the post that I couldn't decipher as either friendly, or trolling, or downright disagreement. It wasn't particularly clear. So I wrote something back to further clarify my point, and the response to that made it very clear that this person had all kinds of feelings about what was allowed and appropriate for the discussion of masculinity.

Apparently, there is no place for feminists in this discussion. Apparently, feminists should leave the discussion of masculinity, in all its problematic glory, and just stick to shit they know, like girl things including promiscuity and domestic violence. The girls can play on this side and the boys can play on this side.

I think what disturbs me the most about this whole idea is the suggestion that women cannot be a part of a discussion of men and how men view masculinity. That there might be such thing as a men-only area. That the discussion was only relevant to men. 

Women and femininity have never EVER been a women only area. Women have had to work for many years inside of spheres created for them by men. We have been told for years what it means to be a woman. We have been told and shown when we aren't acting the accepted feminine and womanly way. We have been told and shown how to move and act by forces greater than us. By men - the men who took and continue to take on powerful roles in creating consumer culture, the men who wrote and write the histories of the world. 

We, the women, have been beaten. We have been abused - physically and emotionally and mentally. We have suffered merely for being women. We have been yelled at by strangers. We have watched our children be beaten by men. Beyond that, because men can be beaten too, we have hoped and prayed for the safety of our brothers when they're out at night on weekends in country towns. We have loved those that have beaten us, or are beating us. We continue to pray and hope for no violence. No fear. No challenges. No upset.

There is a problem with the culture in Australia. I converse with friends on this issue frequently - headlines lately are full of king hits and deaths and proposed bans and curfews and solutions. It's been pointed out (most recently that I particularly took note of was Leigh Sales on the 7:30 report) that severe penalties put in place for alcohol related violence are well and good, but what of years of history of domestic violence? It's all violence, and it all deserves strict penalties.

The drinking culture of Australia paired with the hyper-masculine culture that exists in our country needs to be talked about. Who is trying to sell this version of masculinity, and why are we all buying it? What are the outcomes for us all in the face of such a mind set?

My feeling is that those men that fall into a hyper-masculine role are men doing their absolute best to fit in. But it does none of us any favours, because the fear of not measuring up to what is understood as an expectation only serves to feed the hypermasculinity. A desperate act to conform to an ideal which is frankly unappealing only perpetuates the constant need to measure up.

I might identify as a woman, but I also know men. I live with men. I love men. I have a father and two brothers, a stepdad and stepbrothers, best friends and family and a circle of male friends whom I love as fiercely as life itself. These men, they are not all one thing. They are not the tallest of men, but they are not the shortest either. They are neither the largest nor the smallest of men. They are not the politest, or the rudest, or the strongest, or the weakest of men. They are not always the bravest, but neither are they the most afraid. They can talk about the tough stuff or the silly stuff. They offer hugs as freely as high-fives and handshakes. 

Goddamn it, they are all just themselves and I love 'em for it, in spite of and because of it all.

These men I love, they are not without their flaws. They often don't realise they might make women uncomfortable. They don't call their friends out on sexist or misogynistic jokes. They have learned how to objectify women from countless experiences handed to them on the silver platter of popular culture, and so they do objectify women. 

This part of our culture, this is why I write my rants. This is the part I want us all to think about. But hey, listen in, and listen good. We're in this shit together, kids. All of us, men and women, live in this world. To think that men and masculinity exist in a bubble from which women and femininity are excluded is laughable, idealistic and short sighted. 

If our culture is problematic, then let's fix it. If traditionally accepted masculinity creates a cultural environment that causes problems for women as well as that we want to change, how is it ever an issue for women to contribute to the conversation? If we're raising a new generation of boys, which I really truly feel we could be - and which will help move us much closer to equality between the sexes - we need the mothers to be speaking and acting the same talk and walk as the fathers. Isn't that clear and obvious? Isn't that a no brainer?

I am fond of the parenting mindset that is encouraging of conversation; to bring up what your sons think it means to be a man, and to show them that being a man is many things. As a parent, male or female, the impact you have upon your kids gets written into them. To say "hey. You don't have to be the most powerful boy in the playground to be a real boy" may have a longer lasting reach than you realise. To say "hey. Even when the ads on TV and the movies and TV shows show the strong, fast, mean guy getting the girl and winning the race, don't forget that in real life you're allowed to pick the things you think are coolest, and that's a better win than any race", and all that message might mean to a young man.

So listen, friends. Feminism is not a dirty word. Don't let it colour your reaction to things people want to think and share with others. I think lowering your hackles and just thinking this through, you'll see what I mean. You'll see that men excluding women from the conversation leaves gaps that equate to a devastating loss for humans in general. I think the give and take of civilised conversation between men and women could be just what these issues need to gain momentum in the larger sphere of the world. And then we can all be the change we want to see.

Thursday, 20 March 2014

thrifted thursdays: restyle2013's photo-a-day opshop challenge, part 1

The challenge, should you choose to accept it: each day of August, wear something from an opshop that matches with the day's prompt. While August 2013 was quite some time ago, I always intended to share with you my varying degrees of success at this monthly challenge - it's the only challenge I've nearly completed.

The prompts.

1. Pink lace skirt from Lifeline. $4.

2. Polka dot scarf. Borrowed thrifted from a friend.

3. White shirt with double breast and peter pan collar, $3 at church opshop in Brunswick, Glenlyon St.

4. mixed prints - patterned white and japanese and anchor, from various places

5. accessorize - sunglasses gleaned for $6 from savers, brunswick plus awesome italian wool infinity scarf from reuseit, whistler

 on Day 7 (customized) there was nothing. but don't worry, I've customized some things in time for the 2014 challenge...

8. scarf - gloriously impractical (for new england in winter) purple and pink silk scarf from reuseit, whistler. plus my lovely friend kate, who also partook in the challenge... it was she who passed this challenge on to me, incidentally.

9. bag - this one was going to go into the bin at the reuseit centre in whistler, where I worked - i saved it and shipped it back to Australia, and i have no regrets. prettied up with a 50c scarf from vinnes, armidale.

10. blazer - $6 at vinnies, armidale. it has a few moth holes and fake pockets, but i love it anyway.

 stay tuned for another 10, in good time. i'm just warning you that when we get to the end, i'm going to make a strong suggestion that you play along too, when it comes time. you have til august.

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

secret: thoughts on Tuesday

i am sitting here, eating a kitkat and drinking a glass of red wine, and you know, it's quite nice. i am so pleased with myself right now that i thought a self-indulgent post with a numbered list might be just about right for this evening.

here are some observations i have made to myself today. lucky you, i am going to share them with you.
  1.  sometimes, cats and dogs really can be friends. i think the key is to introduce them to each other when they're tiny, and they haven't had a chance to pick up on that cross-species backlash you see so frequently these days.
  2. there is nothing so wonderful as buying new underwear, especially when afore-mentioned new underwear has flamingos on it. hot tip - if you want your underwear to match my underwear, swing by big w, because they are selling underwear with flamingos on it right now, and they're not even sorry.
  3. the country is not as bad as they say. this thought struck me this afternoon as it so frequently does when house sitting for my lovely mum, sitting on the verandah with cats and dogs being friends all around me, open space and the gentle background moo of the cow. and gosh there's a whole bunch of fresh air out here!
  4. sometimes you may think you've lost something important to you, but in fact it is safe and nearby, merely hidden from your sight. case in point: that time when i thought i'd lost my iPhone. be calm, people, for the technology does not really want you to lose it. nor does the god of iPhones, St. Apple. it's probably under some paper on your desk.
  5. bob dylan is the business: tonight's favourite is "shelter from the storm" from blood on the tracks. it's lovely, and i shall learn to play it on guitar before too long. i'm sure dylan has some kind of misogynistic sexist racist flaws, but until i learn of them, i remain a fan. turns out even my ex couldn't put me off, such is the talent of dylan.

Sunday, 16 March 2014

secret: when you finally stop, or, some broad generalisations of a traveller

there's that point you get to in life as a person who likes to travel about the place, having adventures, when you want to keep moving, but you also want to stay still.

there's the yearning for the new and unknown places, for the rush of foreign smells and noises and coins. that sort of travel-crack (by this i mean, the addictive rush of traveling) that keeps you moving, almost forgetful of the experiences before you've had them.

everything is unknown and nothing is certain and it's the most freeing thing, probably even more so for those who always loved to plan, like me. it's a revelation, especially the bits that you hate, or the traps you fall into, representing Australia in some unknowing way, those parts you end up loving.

it's freeing, to know that whoever you choose to be each morning is no less you than that other person you left behind either yesterday, or last country, or back in Australia so long ago. either way, a lifetime and an age have passed, and you're here and now seeing everything, loving it or hating on it.

and then.

it's that little voice that misses knowing which kitchen cupboard has the mugs in it. strangely, it's missing Australian dairy products. it's your parents, either bemused at your vagrancy or travelers themselves, who want to know where and how you are in a suffocating way (somewhat and sometimes) that you've caught yourself craving at least once.

it's coming home with a new lover, to show them off to your family and your hometown in a way that reveals unflinchingly that it either will not last, or it's solid gold. it's the broken heart you drag in the back door of home, too weary, too broken. or it's the trudging through visa applications and proof that you really do love each other, sometimes put upon you much too soon.

when you finally stop, you haven't really stopped at all. if you're lucky, you'll have travel mates who become lifelong friends to visit and be visited by. if you're really lucky, perhaps they'll stop to rest more than just a little while on your back door step, drinking beer and balancing out wishes for the future with the golden remember whens.

when you finally stop, you'll be searching for a place steady enough to plant your feet. you'll know it because you'll catch yourself smiling at that final crest in the road before you hit the home valley, smiling in recognition at that feeling, that undeniable warmth in your heart.

you do feel the warmth elsewhere - the top of a mountain on a bluebird day, or apres-ski, tired and happy with shredding buddies (why is it that places of great height inspire this warm glow?). i don't for a minute suggest that you can't belong somewhere while traveling, but my point remains:

when you finally stop, you know something. even if you don't have it mapped out or pinned down exactly, it's yours to know.

when you finally stop, you give thanks for all the other lovely bits. you want more, you want feet on and in the earth, like roots.

you shake your head in disbelief at the simple truth of it. you followed your heart around the world this whole time, giddy, and when you finally stop, there it is, and there you are.

Friday, 14 March 2014

Friday Feminism: “We need feminism because … Equality for Women is Progress for All”

I wrote this for the next edition of Nucleus, UNE's student newspaper - it should be out sometime this week, but this is what I came up with, anyway.

Because I'm out of practice with my writing, it took me a long time to figure out what I wanted to say. I didn't want to whine about all the things that are wrong, although technically I have pointed them out anyway, in this list. I also stole from the blog a little, but nobody reading it at uni is going to know that, unless you tell them.

Here is what I wrote:

March 8th was International Women’s Day. The official United Nations theme for 2014 is ‘Equality for Women is Progress for All’. For me, that means calling myself a feminist, and believing in feminist causes. 
When I call myself a feminist, this is what I mean: I'm 28 and unmarried, free to use birth control, believe in a woman's right to choose, am pursuing further education, work to support myself, spend my money how I please, spend my time doing things I enjoy (some of which have no conceivable contribution to society), have actively involved myself in contributing to society, have various friendship circles, have developed my own politics and life philosophy. I make big and small decisions based on what I want my life to look like. I do all these things wearing what I want. I encourage others to do the same, and I'm aware that as a white, middle class, educated woman, I am incredibly fortunate and privileged compared with many others in the world. I am knowingly lucky, and try my best to make the most of all this opportunity. I do my best to exercise compassion and care for others, regardless of our similarities or our differences, but I reserve the right to fail at these lofty aspirations occasionally.

I believe I deserve to walk in the world feeling safe, and heard, and respected. I believe every human deserves that right. I believe women and men should be equal, although equality may not look the way we think it does. In the world we all inhabit, sometimes we are equal, and sometimes we aren't.

If any of this list applies to you (particularly the last part about women and men being equal), well then, you're probably a feminist too. Oops. Feminism: it’s not just for girls.

So now I’ve established that all of us are feminists I assume the rest of my article basically writes itself. I am a privileged woman and I can only really speak for myself, but I do say this – the sooner that women and men are equal in all the ways, the happier the world shall be. And that’s this month’s theme, right? Happiness.

For the sake of a theme of happiness, I shall offer up some ideas about how awesome all the things might be for all the people in an equal world. It will be a numbered list, because that is something that makes me happy.

1.       The Celebration of Everything – Girls could play football in the mud and enjoy a spot of sewing pink dresses to wear. Boys could play house and have a thing for big trucks. Women could be strong and tough and cry in public. Men could confess their insecurities to their friends and make tough decisions under pressure. A person wouldn’t even have to call themselves a man or a woman if they didn’t want, and no-one would find that a threat. The thing that makes humans amazing is the many discrepancies. In an equal world, we would allow all those parts to exist. Heck, we would celebrate all those different parts of a person.
2.       Strengths and weaknesses would be re-defined, so that anyone could be a hero. So that emotional was no longer equal to feminine and logical was no longer equal to masculine. So that being emotional did not cancel out your stakes in the fight, but neither would logical responses make you unfeeling.
3.       Everyone would be a breadwinner and a stay-at-homer. And neither one would be worth more than the other according to the law, according to society or according to ourselves.
4.       An hour of a woman’s work would be equal to an hour of a man’s work.
5.       Everyone would walk safe in the world– women would not be targeted for attacks of a sexual nature, men would not be targeted for attacks showcasing a warped sense of ‘asserting masculinity’. Nobody would be attacked because they didn’t look or ‘act’ like a man or a woman. The makers of laws would show the same level of motivation in addressing victims of domestic violence as addressing victims of king hits.
6.       No would always mean no, and yes would always mean yes, and there would be no alcohol/attire/attitude-based excuses for misreading the simple fact of the matter.
7.       Nobody would ever be excused from unacceptable behaviour because of ‘biology’. Seriously, how is this still a thing? “Boys will be boys” should not equate to prevalent rape culture in male-dominated sports. “Throwing like a girl” should not equal with weakness, or second-best, or second-class.
8.       Bodies would be off-limits as a site of demonstrating power – women would make decisions about their bodies in real and meaningful ways. Laws would not be written removing women from their reproductive rights. No-one would die having needed to break a law just to make a personal decision.
9.       Anyone who was brave enough to put their hand up to run the world or the country or the state or the city or the business or the department or the meeting should be able to do it based on merit, and not on any other factor.
10.   Amazing popular culture that actually lead by example, teaching girls, boys, women, men and everyone else that their heart and mind are cherished beyond any physical characteristics. I believe this to be the biggest wish of them all…

You see, equality for women can be progress for all – a natural extension of this epic wish list is that any person who has been victimised or devalued or disempowered would step out of the margins into this same world and be equal. Homophobia and transphobia and racism and classism and any ism you care to name, gone the way of sexism. Progress! That’s what I believe feminism to be working for.

While we feminists are humans, and bound to get things wrong sometimes, just like everyone else, we have heart and passion and courage, too. The world, and women, need feminism, for the sake and passionate pursuit of equality.