The Price of Conformity

conformity

“I think the reward for conformity,

Is that everyone likes you,

Except yourself.” -

Rita Mae Brown

If this quote speaks to you then speak out,

Because the price that we are all paying,

For our continued silence,

Is simply way too high.

It’s time to teach our children,

That being different,

Isn’t the same,

As being bad.

It’s time to teach our children,

That it’s okay for them,

To be,

Exactly who they are,

In whatever way,

They are,

And that no,

One,

Particular way,

Of being in this world,

Is more valid,

Correct,

Or worthwhile,

Than,

Any other.

Gender equals Diversity – Diversity equals Flexibility – Flexibility equals Women – Equality equals Diversity = Diversity equals Flexibility…

Originally posted on Susanne Moore:

Userpage icon for supporting gender equality.

Userpage icon for supporting gender equality. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So this is the constant discussion I hear.  Gender equals Diversity – Diversity equals Flexibility – Flexibility equals (dialogues about) Women – Equality equals Diversity = Diversity equals Flexibility and so it goes around.  Problem is, Gender does not equal diversity.  Gender is a discussion about our constructed gendered roles and how those roles play out in society.  It is also about the way we see ourselves through our gendered lens of expectation.  Diversity is about the recognition of difference and how we value and respect that difference.  Organisational diversity is about leveraging that difference to improve business performance and business reach into new markets and new customers.

Flexibility is not a women’s issue, but I certainly understand the need and the push by many women to increase a level of flexibility in the workplace, and indeed, in society to…

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I know you will probably think I’m wrong but I’d rather see men marching against violence towards women than in celebration of past wars.

"North Hampton is a Domestic violence fre...

I’d rather see men marching,

Against violence towards women,

Than see them celebrating,

Openly,

Their male comrades,

Who’ve either fought,

Or fallen,

During our nations,

Past wars.

Every year on Anzac Day,

We are reminded,

To always show our respect,

For those who have gone before us,

Who have given their lives,

For our benefits,

But what about those who are still falling before us?

Whose lives aren’t being given willingly,

For some greater noble cause,

But instead are being stolen,

Within our own domestic war?

Isn’t it time we  see fit to dedicate,

The same amount of national space,

To the true survivors,

Of the on-going war,

Against domestic violence?

A war that remains,

Too silently,

Unacknowledged,

A war whose victims are too often,

Left defenseless,

By the very same governments,

Who foster,

Such National pride,

For its soldiers,

While it lets its women die.

Least we forget,

The many women who have fallen,

To the senseless acts,

Committed within domestic violence.

 

Parenting in the Digital Age. The Dangers of Mobile Phone Uploads and “Selfies.” A plea for teenage girls and their parents to become more aware of what’s going on out there in cyber space.

This is just one example of the phenomenon known as a “Selfie” ( a photo taken of oneself by oneself) that is beginning to flood the pages of Face Book, Instagram, YouTube and other various forms of social media.

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What’s disturbing about this photo, amongst oh so many other things, is that the girl in it is obviously quite young.

Young enough to not be posing for pictures like this in her underwear, (even if she is the one taking the photo of herself), and certainly not yet old enough to realize the dangers inherent in posting photos like this on the world-wide web, where anyone can download them and do whatever they want with them.

As a parent, I have to admit that I am shocked to see this kind of photo being posted regularly via links to my own daughter’s Facebook page.

As a mother, whenever I see these images, I wonder whether or not the girl’s parents are aware of what their daughters are posting on-line?

This is a very different response to the one I would have had less than a year ago, when I would have automatically condemned the girl’s parents for “letting their daughter’s take such photos”.

Now with the benefit of hindsight and a rapid education in the modality of our modern social media, (thanks in large part to my own children’s use of social networking), I am beginning to understand that such photos can be taken without a parent even so much as being aware that their children are doing anything more than playing with their iPod’s, iPad’s or mobile phones all within the safety and the privacy of their own bedrooms.

And of course, therein lies the rub.

We think that as parents, our children are safe when they are in the privacy of our houses or in the safety of their own rooms.

But the truth is….. Sometimes they’re not.

Sometimes, especially for teenage girls, privacy when combined with the ability of mobile phones, iPod’s or I pad’s to take photos and upload them instantly onto the internet, along side the peer pressure they face to  be cool, can  become nothing short of a recipe for disaster.

A disaster that anyone can download, copy and redistribute to as many different web sites, as many times as they like.

As if that isn’t a creepy enough thought already, my major concern in all of this is for my own daughter.

What happens if these kinds of photos appear often enough on her links that they become viewed as common place and no big deal at all?

Will she then, in time, begin to believe that it’s acceptable to post up similar images of herself? As if it is no ‘biggie’ to expose her face and her body in such a way to the world at large?

That if enough of her friends start doing it then eventually it won’t matter to her how many times I tell her that it’s wrong……. and that it is a big deal…..

And then maybe…..

Just maybe…..

The first time I’ll know anything about it will be once it’s already too late to take it back.

And perhaps the scariest part of this line of thinking is that when it comes to questions like this……

How do I know that she hasn’t already snapped a shot of herself like that within the privacy of her own bedroom?

With the phone I brought her to keep her safe while she’s out and about in case of emergencies.

The answer is….. I don’t know. And if even I have to admit that I don’t know, then there must be other parents out there who may also have to admit that they don’t know either.

So I think the days of believing that we as parents can control what our children do, show and say have well and truly been taken away by the digital age.

So we’d best get on with the job of understanding this and start looking at finding new ways of safe guarding our children’s best interests.

In the meantime here’s a simple truth for every teenager out there………

Once a picture has been posted on the internet you can never really get it back.

It is there to stay.

Yes sure, you may be able to delete the original copy that you put up……… but can you track down and trace however many people have downloaded it in the meantime?

Can you prevent them from sharing it?

Can you prevent complete strangers from downloading your photos?

You may think that you can….. But you can’t……

Unfortunately the photo at the top of the page is proof that anyone, and I mean anyone, can download your personal pictures from any unprotected social media sites……

Scared yet?????????

Because I know I certainly am.

The photo used in this post is the least offensive “selfie” shot of its variety that I could find. Believe it or not, this young girl is actually wearing more clothes than most of the others. Disgusting I know.

Free Form Human Beings ……………Life In The Androgynous Zone

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Do you ever just sometimes want to be able to walk out into the world, not as a gendered being, but simply as a human being?

A human being that isn’t defined by the otherwise hidden credentials harboured between your legs?

The very credentials that have become such important aspects in shaping both our place in the world and whether or not we are deemed to “fit” successfully within it?

I must admit that some days, as a woman, I long for the sanctuary of androgyny.

To be able to move freely amidst the sea of other human beings without the minds of others making automatic assumptions about me simply because of my gender.

Sometimes I just want to go out into the world as the person that is me. No if’s, and’s or but’s, just plain old me.

I’m not sure whether this desire to be viewed as gender neutral is something that’s becoming stronger  within me as I age, or whether it has more to do with constantly  feeling at odds with a world that endlessly seeks to tell me who I am and how I should be.

Whatever the reason, I feel the personal need to strike out against the ideological constraints too often placed on women in our society.

Not in a violent aggressive way, but in a silently self-contained  way.

A way that reflects who I am, not who I am told I ought to be.

More and more often, I find that I am drawn to wearing hats that conceal my hair, scarves that conceal my neck, long coats that conceal my body and tall boots the visually eradicate  the curve of my legs.

These items of clothing, I am discovering, are becoming my own modern version of a personal Burqaa.

A mailable barrier that creates a material shield which encapsulates me when I’m out in public, in a way that I find, comforting.

Liberating even.

In the past I’d heard Muslim women claim that they derive a sense of liberation from choosing to wear their Burqaa’s.

For years my western sensibilities denied the truth of such claims. After all, I reasoned, how can anyone feel free when they’re being forced to cover themselves up night and day for the benefit of others?

Of course the point I’d missed within it all was that the women making such claims were choosing to wear their Burqaa’s/ Hijab.

Now when I think about the concept of the Burqaa, sitting as it now does alongside my own desire to move about the world un-gendered and un-encumbered by all of the stereotypes that gender brings, I can appreciate and begin to understand how it may indeed hold liberating effects for women.

So now instead of wondering  why it is that anyone would want to cover up their gender, I find myself questioning why it is that our Western societies have taken something as personal and as intimate as gender and turned it into a trademark.

A trademark that has become both the stamp of admission and the marker of denial framed within the fine print on the passports that we all must carry in order to obtain our human rights.

A passport that for too many now offers up the personal judgements, condemnations and un-warranted rules and regulations that seek to constrain personal freedoms instead of ensuring them.

Perhaps if we stopped placing  gender at the centre of our being and instead re-instated our humanity, in all of its colors, shapes and diversity, as the single most important qualifier for accessing human rights, then all the division, intolerance, discrimination and hatred that has established itself so firmly within our world,  could be dissolved overnight?

Wishful thinking I know.

But some days it seems to me that if we removed all of the superficial and socially constructed constraints of gender from the passport of our humanity, we’d all be just that little bit closer to actually being free.

Free from banning girls from going to school.

Free from bullying young boys and girls for existing somewhere outside of the lines of a predefined gendered stereotyped way of being.

Free from having to try and delineate the terms under which love is legal.

Free from the weight of living in what is fast becoming a too unrealistic and overly sexualized world for our children.

I don’t know about you, but I for one think this world could be a wondrous place if we simply just let ourselves and others be free.

Free Form Human Beings. That sounds good to me.

 

The Name Game….. How do you refer to yourself when asked? Is it by Occupation, Social Status, Married, Single, Full time Mother, Stay at Home Mother, Father, Student or None of the Above?

How we define ourselves, the labels we use and the accompanying social judgments that ride along with our choice of words, speak volumes about how we are positioned in society.

I think for women, especially mothers, the question, ‘so what do you do for a living?’, no matter how casually asked,  has been a loaded one.

Should we define ourselves solely by our biological status as mothers, as so many women have done before us?

If so what type of mother’s are we?

Full time mother, part-time mother, stay at home mother?

Or should we strive to avoid the trap of seeking to quantify ourselves by the amount of hands on time we spend mothering in the first place?

On this issue I totally agree with http:// oneforthemummy.wordpress.com /2012/09/28/whats-in-a-name/  contestation over the use of descriptors such as ‘full-time mum’ or ‘stay at home mum’, when seeking to define ourselves.

I’m not sure why we as women still refer to ourselves in these terms, but we do. At least I know I have done and occasionally still do and probably will do again in the future.

Yet each and every time I do, I also know that I find myself becoming increasingly more uncomfortable about doing so.

To me the description of a mother as either a full-time mum or a working mum, automatically sets up that god awful, age-old debate concerning the roles of women in both the family and the workforce.

And apart from anything else, it also tends to rub in the even more appallingly ridiculous notion that being a mother and mothering, isn’t hard work at all.

Newsflash, mothering is hard work. Just because it doesn’t come complete with a recognized financial package and a demarcated award wage, does not mean that it is not legitimate work. It is and it deserves to be acknowledged.

Of course once you get past the whole full-time, part-time, stay at home debacle,  you are then faced with the more modern conundrum of whether or not you’re a married stay at home mum, a single stay at home mum, married working mum or a single working mum?

If we’re honest about it, we know that each of these patriarchal definitions arrives complete with their own unique brands of social baggage and more often than not, moral judgements.

Which  you might not mind  confronting so much if you were  simply honestly being asked whether or not you were a Miss, Mrs or Ms,…… but when the question is supposed to be a harmless social ice breaker like ‘what do you do for a living’……?  Somehow the automatic roll call involved  just doesn’t seem to fit.

Especially considering the fact that feminists worked hard to legitimise the title Ms, specifically so that women wouldn’t have to  automatically define themselves as either married or single, instantaneously.

Of course these days the term Ms has become synonymous with divorce, so that now it’s used primarily to define a woman as a divorcee.

So that particular piece of hard worn anonymity still hasn’t been able to purchase for women the same rights as men, who only need to declare the letters Mr before their name, on any and all occasions.

Quite simply  I find the inadvertent information that each additional label sends out, when applied specifically to women,  nothing short of astounding.

Not to mention a double standard of enormous proportions.

And I think we as women really need to ask ourselves whether or not, in this day and age, giving out that sort of information  to a casual observer  is really necessary?

I mean, even in today’s world, it’s still not a definitional issue that men are exposed to, as they  have always tended to define themselves by their employment status alone anyway.

Even if they didn’t hold that stop-gap ,  men are rarely expected to divulge  their status as either a full-time dad or a single dad with such an easily laid out , ‘what do you do for a living?’…. the way that women are expected too.

But I guess the bigger question is, why do we even feel the need to try and define ourselves by what we do?

Personally I prefer to define myself as a human being, who happens to be both a woman and a mother.

How do you define yourself?

 

Mother Lands

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Regardless of whether we inhabit a serene mothering landscape or a landscape perpetually filled with challenge after challenge, we are all walking the same Mother Lands and dodging the same societal landmines.

Though at times we could all be forgiven for undervaluing  our crucial interconnectedness.

With every debate that rages over breast-feeding versus bottle feeding or whether or not we should strive to be stay at home mum’s instead of working mother’s, there seems to be a gradual lessening of  common mothering ground to stand on.

It seems every aspect of motherhood these days is up for debate.

Yet always, within these debates, the role of men  remains safely tucked out of harms way.

There is no call to action against father’s who bottle feed their children.

Nor is there any debate surrounding whether or not father’s can adequately parent and work at the same time.

Mother’s it appears, are always the one side of the parenting equation, whose actions, beliefs and virtues are consistently being singled out for public scrutiny and divisive debate.

It was not so long ago that single mother‘s were being told they were to blame for the rise in teenage delinquency. That it’s  their fault that the lack of a male role model in a teenager’s life, leads to aggressive and insolent behaviors.

Even when the role of the father appears to be the sticking point, it is the mother who has her own lifestyle held up to ransom. Unfortunately there is nothing new in that.

In the 60’s and 70’s married stay at home mother‘s were being told that their own lack of ambition and levels of depression were to blame for their daughter’s outrageous sexual behaviors and overwhelming dissatisfaction with society.

Despite the fact that young men were also actively engaged in the same behaviors and exhibiting the same level of dissatisfaction with societies status quo.

In the 40’s and 50’s mother’s of children with special needs were being labeled  cold and uncaring,  ‘Refrigerator Mother‘s’, and told their detached mothering style was the to blame for their child‘s condition.

All of the above antiquated ideas are the same ideas that are now being successfully  inverted  to form the basis for the  latest wave of public  blame, crashing down  once again exclusively  on the backs of  mother’s.

Instead of being accused of creating maladaptive children through cold and detached parenting, mother’s are now being told that they fuss over their children too much.

That they hover like helicopters around their off spring  and in so doing prevent them from growing up into successful adults capable of taking responsibility for their own actions.

Mother’s who have staved off depression and found a sense of self-worth by showing personal ambition and engaging in the work force are now being blamed for creating confused young men, who are now said to be acting out in aggression due to the lack of clear gender roles that women’s participation in the workforce are said to have caused.

Yet on the flip side of the debate surrounding the supposed lack of gender lines,   mothers are now  being told that they are failing their daughter’s by letting them wear the latest, overtly feminized and sexualized, fashion trends.

Well who designs these fashion trends?  It couldn’t possibly have anything to do with the multitude of male designers and male arbiters who have for centuries decided what women should wear…. could it?

It seems the only constant variable in this never-ending re-invention of mother’s as the root of all evil, is the continuing denigration of single mothers.

Whom, despite the mounting evidence from their successful adult off spring, find themselves time and time again rolled out as the whipping posts for all of societies ills.

The chances are, that what ever you life circumstances, or style of mothering may be, you will at some stage have to face an endless list of mothering prejudices along the way.

So I think sometimes we need to be reminded, that no matter what our individual circumstances may be, at the end of the day,  we are all, each and every one of us, doing out best to dodge the multiple landmines of  mothering blame, laid out before us.

We are all walking the same Mother Lands and none of us knows who the next target will be.

The Sexualisation of Pink Balls Are teenage girls facing a crisis in femininity?

Rising rates in the number of teenage girls committing violent crimes and participating in  acts of bullying really do make me question just what is going on with ‘our girls’?

When I look at media representations of women all I see are  overtly sexualized images of what a ‘woman is supposed to look like’.

Yet accompanying these images is the idea that women are also supposed to compete with, and even beat men, at their own games of power and control.

There appears to be a new genre of female being portrayed within the media.

Women who look sexy, yet are nothing short of ballsy in their speech, mannerisms and attitude towards life.

Think of  pop stars such as Pink.

A woman who initially made her mark by dressing sexually provocatively,  yet who was at the same time singing aggressively about the need to  throw the traditional subservient  and distorted female ‘role ’ in the trash can in songs such as “Stupid Girls”.

Don’t get me wrong, I agree with the message that women should no longer automatically be seen as being subservient to men, but, when your  young teenage daughter  starts using the Pink ‘fuck you’ attitude to try to justify attempting to leave the house dressed like Paris Hilton on crack, one can only surmise that there is definitely something wrong with the way the messages of both femininity and female independence are being portrayed.

So what is it that is going so wrong?

Could it possibly be that those of us who live in the real world are clued into a secret that our daughters are yet to learn?

That as adults we all know that there is no way that a young woman who dresses like a proverbial tramp, ignores her schooling and instead engages in bullying or aggressive behavior,  is ever going to successfully compete with men in terms of either life or career success?

Unless you are a rock star, and even then, if the truth be told, this simply just does not happen.

Speaking of ‘it simply just does not happen’,  neither  does the ideal that women must  shout, speak up and speak out against female injustices by becoming as loud and competitively aggressive as men, win women any positive points either

If it did then we would all have by now seen a positive change  in the way females are portrayed in the media.

There has been no real positive change.

So here’s a simple truth:

Female aggression does not  cancel out male aggression.

Instead all it does is up the level of aggression occurring in society and lessen the existence of genuine care as a whole.

Yes sure we may now have some celluloid female role models but even if their attitudes are ‘kick ass’ such as Laura Croft in Tomb Raider, who beats the bad guys and saves the day, she still remains visually heavily sexualised.

So what sort of message does this form of representation send out to young girls?

That now, not only are they expected to kick mens asses, but  they must also look incredibly ‘hot’ and sexy while they are doing so or it simply won’t count?

Really it’s little wonder that young girls are getting the message of independence confused with the message that all successful women must also be some sexualised version of an aggressive dominatrix.

We need to be questioning  not just the overt sexualisation of young girls but the manner in which that sexualisation is also being presented hand in glove with the idea that being  aggressive (both physically and verbally) is the fastest way for females to achieve success.

In the real world the two messages simply do not go together.

 

Perspective: Feminism and the War on Housewifery

seventhvoice:

This is a great blog exploring some of the finer points of feminism in the modern age. I must admit that I often feel conflicted by the way in which feminism has come to represent the idea that all mothers must choose their careers over their children. I stay home to care for my autistic son and I hate the idea that some would view me as betraying feminism in doing so. I’m not sure exactly when it was that capitalism started defining feminist precepts but apparently it has. My idea of feminism is empowering women to have the right to make choices not dictating to them what those choices should be. To me feminism should be about honoring women and attaining human equality. Human equality does not necessarily mean working as many hours as men but rather being recognized for your contribution, what ever that may be, on an equal basis.

Originally posted on Chazona At Home:

housewife [derogation]

housewife [derogation] (Photo credit: the|G|™)

Before continuing, please note that I consider myself a feminist. I believe that women and men should be socioeconomic and political equals and that both should have the right to pursue their chosen career based on their merits and abilities alone. I believe that reproductive decisions should be left to individual families and not legislated by government.

Clearly for some, the definition of feminism is much more specific; and indeed, they use their image of a “true feminist” to lash out at any woman whose educated decisions diverge from their ideal. This is apparently the case for Elizabeth Wurtzel, whose recent article for the Atlantic, 1% Wives Are Helping Kill Feminism and Make the War on Women Possible, takes the example of a few highly wealthy housewives and uses it to critique the average housewife and stay-at-home mom (SAHM).

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The Law of Provocation

A white ribbon to commemorate the National Day...

An Australian man has been sentenced to 6 years in prison after openly admitting to killing his wife because he did not like what she was saying.

So what was she saying that provoked her husband to kill her?

According to the man his wife had been telling him that she was leaving him.

His apparently ‘legally legitimate’ response to this news was to run into another room, grab a box cutter (AKA Stanley Knife), return to his wife, stab her, slice her throat open and willfully leave her to bleed to death while standing above her and watching her expire.

I don’t know about anybody else, but as far as I’m concerned, this  is an act of murder.

To have this murder ruled as a reasonable attack response to a verbal provocation begs the question:

 Since when does a wife attempting to have a discussion about ending a marriage become  grounds for murder?

Given the husbands Indian heritage one must also ask whether or not this is a case of Australian law turning its back on what would have be seen as an ‘honor killing’ in the husband’s home country?

So how does this happen?

Under the law in Australia there are acts understood as arising out of provocation.

Quite literally the idea is that one person can be provoked , verbally, into losing control of themselves and attacking another.

In the USA I think the equivalent term may be the claim of temporary insanity.

In this case  however, there are clear indications of fore thought. The man had to leave the room in which the ‘offending discussion’ took place to retrieve the box cutter he later used to kill his wife.

Given this, how can his murderous actions  not be seen as providing clear evidence of fore thought, planning and a willfully controlled act of  murder on his part?

 As far as I’m concerned this should never have been a case in which the law of provocation was applied.

It should never be seen that killing another person  because you do not like, or are offended  or hurt by what they are saying, provides an excuse for murder.

Especially if that other person is smaller, weighs less, is defenseless and is a woman.

To me, the ruling in this case sends out a very dangerous message to all would be domestic abusers.

What do you think?