Sunday, September 26, 2010
On Friday night a group of us, including my Brazilian friends Brenda and Daniel, went to a Brazilian party at Number Five Bar. Really fun night. Towards 3am the bar closed, and a big group of revellers gathered out the front, partying with just a guitar and ourselves. After drunken conversations, pictures and loss-of-balance type mishaps, we called it a night and Brenda, Daniel and I started making our way across the river to Flinders Street (maybe stopping to have a pee under the bridge first I DUNNO SHUT UP).
That’s when Brenda realised all her money – a big wad of cash to the tune of $270, the pay check she'd recieved THAT NIGHT – was missing. We backtracked, stumbling back along the bridge, combing the street, retracing our steps, splitting up, checking the gutters, the railings, the water – not a single note was lying anywhere.
Brenda cried all the way home. I felt horrible since the poor thing works like a dog and in one moment a week’s worth of her money was gone. I managed to get us all a cab and arrange for us all to be dropped off. Once we pulled at my house, I rummaged in my bag for my money, secretly planning to pay for the entire fare, even though Daniel had loaned Brenda $50 of his own.
My wallet was gone.
I freaked out right there in the cab. The poor cab driver was probably thinking, “Not only do I have to deal with this crazy girl, she can’t pay me!” Brenda assured me she could pay, than rang Daniel sobbing, because for some fucked up reason she blamed herself for the whole night.
"I am so ashamed of my people!" she cried, "You've never even been to Brazil and all your shit got stolen!"
"Come on, Irmã, it could happen to anyone."
Having my money taken is one thing. Sure, it’s annoying, but cash is cash. I can pretend I spent it. Having my WALLET taken – my wallet has my fucking LIFE in it, my licence, my bankcards, student card, Myki, Priceline card, Myer one, Proof of Age (I always have a back-up ID, the perils of looking 16), Medicare card, ambulance membership…
The next day I got up, boiling with rage and barely having slept. I rang the club to see if the wallet was handed in. Nothing. So, I got ready for work, borrowed coins from Charm 'cos I didn't have a damn thing to enable me to get to work with all my money, bankcards and Myki card gone, and headed to the police station to report the thefts. I didn’t like our chances of anything being resolved, but I had to do something.
The officer was helpful, if a little unsure, and told me that although these things mostly went unsolved it was good to report the activity, and that the police could probably access security footage outside the club. So I was happy to wait fifteen minutes while he painstakingly completed the report. What does your wallet look like? How much cash was taken from your friend? Can you name as many items inside as possible? How much is the wallet itself worth? Between what hours did the thefts occur? Where were you at this time? What are your details? What’s your racial background? That one surprised me, actually.
Then he ducked inside to ring the club.
He came back out with a sort of patiently exasperated look. “Your wallet wasn’t stolen. It’s at the club, it was found on the floor. So you might want to go pick it up.” I didn’t even bother to defend myself by saying I’d already checked with the club and didn’t waste police time on purpose – I ran out of the station and all the way back to Number Five Bar to retrieve it.
“Thank God!” I thought, grinning while imaging the policeman shaking his head. “The cash will be long gone and I don’t give a fuck, I need all my cards!”
So I got to the club, a friendly bartender handed me my wallet back, and I strode out clutching it. Then I thought to myself, “Do I dare to dream?” and checked inside.
All my cash was still there. Every cent.
I have some damn good luck sometimes.
However, I left that last part when retelling the story to Brenda. I told her the wallet was handed in empty, and made up some shit about how they probably took the cash out and threw it on the ground. I feel so terrible about her lost money, I’ll just pretend I got robbed as well – at least she won't feel worse.
Close call, Cat.
Thursday, September 9, 2010
So Brenda and I were warming up on the back dance floor, testing the salsa waters, when a young guy sidles up to Brenda and in a loud, aggressively Australian accent slurs, “I couldn’t help but notice you girls are pretty good. Would you mind giving us guys some lessons?”
I notice his friend skulking around to where I’m standing, and sigh. The old wingman routine. Guy #1 engages Brenda under the pretence of wanting to learn salsa steps - the urgency of which suddenly disappeared as he picked up her Brazilian accent and started trying to "get to know her" instead. Guy #2 made feeble attempts at small talk with me, which I am immediately bored by. “So what do you do? Yeah I’m doing my engineering degree. Do you study? What do you study? Where are you from? Where do you work? How do you two know each other? Yeah... nah... yeah...”
Oh, YAWN. I’m here to dance, not die of boredom reliving all my first-year-of-uni conversations.
The band starts up and we make an excuse to lose them, itching as we are to actually dance, as opposed to standing around nodding politely while being chatted up. Later as Brenda and I are in the bathroom she says, "The guy who liked you was cute, didn’t you like him?" I was hard-pressed to explain the whole “turned off by the obnoxious Aussie college boy vibe” to someone with English as a second language, and simply said, “Um, too young.”
Later on in the evening as Brenda is cutting up the floor with a bona fide salsa dancer I found myself flanked by the same two guys again, joined by a third who plonks himself down in the chair opposite to stare from a respectable distance at his mate’s attempted conquest. I grin to myself as I realise the trio are like a Melbourne version of JJ, Freddie and Cook from Skins – "Cook" the bold first guy who used salsa as a way to weedle a conversation out of us, "JJ" the shy but curious outsider, and "Freddie" the dark-haired one hitting on me.
Brenda is dancing with a campy (and holy FUCK he could salsa) guy wearing a beret and scarf with a tank top, and Freddie decides the best way to engage me in conversation is by being a homophobe and assigning me as the sole representative of all womankind everywhere and thus obligated to answer his stupid questions.
“Can I ask you a question?" he begins. "Do girls honestly find that-” pointing disdainfully at beret guy as he swayed against Brenda, “attractive? I mean, how is that attractive? What do you think, the hat, the scarf…” the offending guy broke away from Brenda and performed a spinning spot turn, “I mean, look at that!”
And he got up and performed his own spot turn, waving his arms in an exaggeratedly feminine manner as his mates laughed. “Isn’t that just gay?” Cook and Freddie continue to mock Brenda's partner, complete with hoots and shoulder wiggles as JJ spins his chair around and perches on the opposite side, legs straddling the back like twelve-year-olds do when they think it's cool.
I know this game. This is the part where I giggle insipidly at the boys' incomparable wit, join in making fun of gay guys, and roll my eyes over how stupid the girls who like them are (duh, can't their silly ladybrains recognise boys who wear berets as unsuitable breeding partners?), while also assuring some insecure kid of his superiority and thus encourage his advances. Hell no, Freddie, you’re not tricking me into reassuring you of your manhood. Times like this I wish I'd just pretended I didn’t speak English.
Suddenly, an equally “metrosexual” guy cut into our circle (I like to think he saw my frustration), complete with his own beret and a vest over his t-shirt. He held out a hand for me. “Want to dance?”
I grabbed him straight away with a relieved, “YES.”
And off we sambaed, leaving Freddie, JJ and Cook behind to ponder further why all the gay guys were getting the girls.
Thursday, July 8, 2010
I KNOW that right at the end of this article, there will be reader comments. I say to myself, "They will not be pretty! I won't read them! Ok, maybe I'll scroll down a little and read the very first one only..."
And the very first comment went to the tune of:
Sarah, when a women gets away with slapping a guys bum saying 'find other ways to be naughty' as a way to advertise cream cheese, all your arguaments collapse. You can not have it both ways. - Bill, ACT.
OH FOR SHIT'S SAKE. Where in that article did McKenzie assert, "I want to have it both ways" you wanker? She said - and I'm paraphrasing - stop reducing women to tits and arse and glorifying sexual harassment to sell some shitty deodorant to college boys, you hacks. And I'm pretty sure she does not work in marketing for any cream cheese companies on top of her freelance writing, so it's not like she's responsible for whatever ad you're talking about. Oh, why do I bother, the dude can't even SPELL "argument".
I just cannot stand this shit. A woman says, "That is sexist." A man responds, "NO IT'S NOT YOU'RE SEXIST, SO SHUT UP AND STOP BEING SEXIST AGAINST MEN." Yeah, that’s logical.
Basically, this could have been avoided if I had just not scrolled down to peek at the comments in the first place. Like, Bill was pretty mild compared to some of the paranoid, violent shit some commenters spout at the slightest whiff of the word, "sexist". Why are you people so easily threatened by other people's opinions?
Wednesday, June 30, 2010
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
Then I looked down and realised I was slipping and sliding around in somebody's spilled drink. At least... I hope it was drink.
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
BUT travelling the world discovering ancient relics and breathtaking new landscapes, exploring civilisations and ruins, climbing mountains, rappelling down gigantic mausoleums, fighting mythological creatures, burning across the desert in a quad bike, diving in search of Atlantis, collecting priceless artefacts, solving puzzles, adventure, action… WHERE DO I SIGN UP?
What’s a girl supposed to do when instead of studying, all she can think of is doing silly dangerous crap like this:
Heh, I love that. “I don’t need climbing equipment or safety gear because I’m BADASS.”
But it’s not all scaling waterfalls in a push-up bra. Lara Croft can be a hardcore jerk sometimes. She pretty much barges into these wonderful heritage sites and steals stuff and kills endangered or mythological or general minding-their-own-business animals. Most disturbing is the nonchalant way in which she executes lethal force against every human being she encounters – including the native inhabitants of the remote Pacific Islands villages she is invading. Smells a bit like Imperialism.
And more often than not, the priceless artefacts she so fiercely pursues fit into some sort of personal vendetta. She will do anything (including murdering copious amounts of people) to get a hold of items that COULD-I DUNNO-MAYBE hold clues to the mysterious and tragic disappearance of her mother.
And the gratuity? Oh, boy. If I’m ever a millionaire adventurer archaeologist trudging through tropical rainforests and deserts and the like I’m going to forgo showing off my cleavage/bellybutton for the sake of basic protection from the environment.
But for all the shady morality and being reduced to a series of sexy body parts, I can’t help being filled with childish glee every time I see pictures of Lara Croft doing something awesome. As a teen the Tomb Raider series ignited a brief interest in archaeology – although I realise now that real archaeologists must get sick of young people brought up on the likes of Tomb Raider and Indiana Jones entering the field and getting puzzled by dusty digging and time-consuming bone-collecting. What the games and the character really ignited in me was that longing for action and adventure – a longing to explore the world in my own way. The kind of recklessness I can only safely indulge in using a Playstation.
So I guess my implausible adventures will have to stay safely tucked away in my imagination as I return to the reality of essay deadlines and waiting tables on Friday nights. But who knows – maybe if I invest in some khaki hot pants, a motorcycle, and a membership at that indoor climbing place on Swanston Street, maybe I’ll at least feel a little closer to being Lara.
Sunday, May 16, 2010
"Did someone order an ass-kicking?"
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
Monday, May 10, 2010
8-year-old Black Cat is playing! RUN YOU FOOL!
Wednesday, May 5, 2010
This is "old news" I suppose; truthfully I haven't had the strength to post about it until now. I kept getting too upset and not being about to write.
On the island of Mindanao in the Philippines on November 23rd last year, in the approaching Maguindanao provincial election (part of the national elections in the Philippines), vice mayor of Buluan town Esmael Mangudadatu was attempting to file a certificate of candidacy. Mangudadatu was politically challenging mayor of Datu Unsay, Andal Ampatuan Jr., running for governor and patriarch of the powerful Ampatuan family. After death threats from the Ampatuan family, Mangudadatu organised a convey of female family members, lawyers, aides and journalists to file the certificate for him, believing the women would not be harmed and that the strong media presence would be an added protection.
57 members of Mangudadatu's convey were butchered, murdered and buried in mass graves after an ambush by 100 armed men.
Of the 57 massacred, 22 Filipina women suffered brutal rapes and sexual torture before their murders. Some had their genitals slashed and bullets fired into their private parts. Mangudadatu's wife, three sisters, female cousin and aunt, died in this way. Two female human rights defenders, Attorney Concepcion “Connie” Brizuela and Attorney Cynthia Oquendo, were among the victims, as well journalists and one woman whose car was mistaken as part of the convoy.
The massacre of 57 people in Ampatuan town, Maguindanao goes beyond a rido or clan war. The sheer scope of barbarity, the brazenness of the murders betrays the perpetrators’ belief in being beyond the reach of the law. Women, lawyers and journalists – no one escaped the butchers’ wrath. Fifty-seven people killed in broad daylight. The murderers had planned the deed, down to the mass burial of victims. That is the mark of the untouchable.
"Untouchable"? Oh, we'll see about that, murderers. I might just be an angry little Filipino-Australian woman on her computer, while you might be an evil monster with a thousand faces and thousands of arms and legs, used to brutalising women like they're extensions of your enemies in your clan wars, supported by firearms, rich families and a culture where you enjoy raw power. I might just be getting started in this world, while you've been festering and growing and terrorising for generations. But I will find a way to fight you.
Starting with raising awareness outside of your world, where you can't silence me or those I love.
Show your indignation and protest by signing an online petition on Strike against Impunity, Strike for Peace and Democracy.
I condemn the brutality of the Maguindanao Massacre. I will NOT let this pass. I want the whole the world to know, especially the Arroyo government that we will not stop until justice is delivered to the victims of the Ampatuan Massacre (otherwise known as Maguindanao massacre) . I grieve for all the women, journalists and other innocent victims who suffered extreme violence and the brutal slaying.
I will make sure you did not die in vain. We should not let allow this to happen again and we cannot allow this climate of impunity to reign.
For more information read the Filipina Images coverage here.
Sunday, May 2, 2010
A Sydney jury has cast doubts during a sexual assault trial, claiming the victim's skinny jeans could not have been removed easily unless there was some "sort of collaboration".
What the unholy FUCK?!
I wear skinny jeans. I'm an Australian size six, and last I checked I weighed 40 kilograms. Since my jeans are the cheap stretchy kind you buy from factory outlets for $25, let me tell YOU, you disgusting misogynist pieces of shit jury-duty arsehole rape apologists, it is extraordinarily easy for me to take my jeans on and off. They SLIP on and off.
But according to you ignorant scumbuckets, I'm virtually unrapeable when wearing them. OH MY GOD, you guys, why didn't women think of this before? All this time we've struggled for hours trying to get into our skinny jeans ('cos all women, like the SIZE SIX rape victim, are such FATTY-FAT-FATS and couldn't POSSIBLY get skinny jeans on and off without lying on the bed, shaking our love handles around, wriggling, twisting, jumping, getting out a chisel, entering the pin code...) we never ONCE considered the possibility of skinny jeans as magical rape-preventors! GEE. WOW.
Maybe instead of donating time and resources to sexual assault prevention on a local, national and international scale, we should instead issue every woman everywhere with SKINNY JEANS. They're just like a RAPE VACCINATION!
And how could poor defenceless men with their poor man-brains EVER figure out something so profoundly difficult like how to undo somebody's jeans and take them off? CLEARLY, when skinny jeans are involved, THERE IS COLLABORATION. Case solved!
What other items of clothing could magically help ward off rape, I wonder? Those wet look leggings that are all the rage this winter? They're much more of a pain in the arse to wriggle into and out of than skinny jeans. Or what about those jeans with buttons lining the fly instead of a zipper? Talk about FIDDLY. Or how about tricky bling-type belts? "Why, the victim was wearing that chainy-belt-with-multiple-buckles-thing; how exactly did the defendant get it off without some sort of COLLABORATION? I hear there were even DOUBLE-KNOTS involved!"
And I love that the obnoxious tone of the jury is just OOZING from those notes to the judge: "[please explain] how exactly Nick took off her jeans... I doubt those kind of jeans can be removed without any sort of collaboration." Emphasis mine. Because can't you just imagine some sceptical rape apologist sneering, "How, exactly?" EXACTLY the kind of person we want on a serving on a sexual assault trial.
This "jury" and the defence counsel that ran with this shit? A fucking joke. Some people will do anything, ANY-FUCKING-THING, to blame rape victims, anything to undermine them, I swear to God. When you're grasping at straws trying to argue that a size six 42-kilogram woman could easily prevent a bigger, stronger man yanking her clothes off with brute force by virtue of her tight jeans... TRY HARDER, you slimy pathetic excuses for vertebrates.
Saturday, May 1, 2010
So after work tonight, me, Charm and Mack were on the train without valid tickets, and lo and behold, there were ticket inspectors. "FUCK," we collectively thought. "But! It is 11:30pm on a Friday night and the train is filled to the brim with drunken idiots, surely they will go for them."
They did not! The four burly inspectors made a beeline for us girls, sitting innocently with our groceries (and our invalid Metcards). Each of us had a 10x 2-hour trip Metcard with an expiration date of some hours ago. If we had bothered to swipe our tickets before boarding the train, the machine would print an expiration time of two hours from now, thus proving our tickets were valid for that trip. But we had opted for saving $3.70 in the hope that inspectors would be scarce at this time of night. Oops.
As we presented our expired tickets for inspection, the leader puffed out his chest impressively.
"AHA! This expired at 7pm! So did yours, young lady! Why didn't you validate your tickets? Where did you get on? Where are you going?"
Mack and Charm were too terrified to answer, and I was panicking myself, but I took a stand (a stand filled with lies). "We DID validate them!" I claimed, fraudulently. "We just finished work and were running for the train so maybe it didn't scan properly! We just got on at South Yarra, and we're getting off at Flinders!"
Ringleader: "If you girls validate those tickets at Flinders and they print out new times [thus proving our tickets weren't valid for the current trip], you will each get a $178 fine."
The inspectors didn't traverse any of the train, choosing instead to hover threateningly behind our seats, and I heard a group of drunk boys snickering as they jumped off at the next station scot-free. Typical! As we arrive at Flinders St station the inspectors SURROUND us three small girls, and march us to the gates like criminals (which I suppose we were) while EVERY SINGLE OTHER PASSENGER runs like the wind laughing their arses off in their escape. Poor shy Mack by this stage is almost crying.
We get to the gates and I go first, swiping my Metcard. THE TIME DOESN'T PRINT.
Charm and Mack follow. THEIRS DON'T PRINT EITHER.
The ticket inspectors snatch my ticket away and are befuddled. "This isn’t valid! The time is expired!"
Suddenly, for some reason – possibly inebriation – I jump onto my high horse and cling for dear life. "My ticket IS valid, just like I told you! You SAW me walk through the gate and validate it, for God's sake. Here, want me to show you AGAIN?!"
And I snatch the ticket back, swipe it, and the time doesn’t print.
The inspector starts to backpedal. "Well, sometimes the machine is faulty, perhaps YOUR ticket is faulty." He grabs Charm's Metcard and swipes it – the time doesn’t print.
I grin, sensing the tables turning. "I'd like to see each and every one of your colleagues' IDs, please. And what's YOUR name?"
"Why do you want to know?"
"Because you've unfairly set upon us, when we had valid tickets (LIES), and I have the right to know who I'm dealing with."
"Is there a last name that goes with that or what?"
He grimaces. "Donald Johns. Look, we're just doing our jobs, going by what we see on the tickets."
Me: "Yes, that's perfectly understandable; however in this case, you're clearly mistaken." LIES!
The group backs off. "Look fine, next time if the ticket doesn't print, take it to the station and get a replacement."
"I wasn't aware you could do that, thank you. Although it IS a little impractical to do so at this time of night, wouldn't you say?"
Female inspector, trying to maintain a shred of authority: "Well, do you still want all our names too?"
Me, airily: "Oh, it was an honest mistake, I'll let you off this time." The NERVE of you, Black Cat - you, who didn't have a ticket in the first place!
We go our separate ways. Once the inspectors are out of earshot...
Charm and Mack, crying with laughter: "HOLY SHIT CAT, HOW DID YOU KNOW THAT WOULD HAPPEN?!"
PS: Answer is, I didn't.
PPS: And I don’t condone being a smart-arse to ticket inspectors when you’re actually the one in the wrong. This was pure, unmitigated luck on my behalf. What was that about Black Cats and luck, again?
Wednesday, April 7, 2010
"We already knew Adam Carolla was an ass, but now is also a racist ass to boot. Join the Facebook group campaigning against his offensive remarks towards Filipinos."
I haven't seen the sketch, but it looks like what started as a tirade against boxer Manny Pacquiao (who also participates in Philippine politics) turns into a big old pile of racist shit.
[Manny is] “praying to chicken bones”
“Here’s how you know when your country doesn’t have a lot going for it: When everything is about Manny Pacquiao.”
“Get a fu**in life as a country”
“All you fu**in got is just an illiterate guy who happens to smash other guys in the head better than other people”
“Really, you want some guy with brain damage running your country? Why don’t you get your sh*t together?”
“All they have over there is Manny Pacquiao and sex stores.”
Yeah, 'cos the USA never idolises celebrity sportsmen of dubious intellectual capabilities who decide to dabble in politics. And they never have some guy with brain damage running the country.
Monday, March 22, 2010
I know it's all misplaced anger and stages of grief and all, but still. Nobody is responsible for the actions of another, and considering the police ended pursuit before the collision it's a bit of a stretch to hold them responsible for this tragedy. To demand police pursuits are "banned" and blame the deaths of this innocent family on the police... I understand anger, I understand not knowing what to do with it, but I don't understand the need to blame when it makes no sense.
Thursday, March 18, 2010
Turns out that's gonna cost him $3250, as that passenger just so happened to be Australian Disability Discrimination Commissioner Graeme Innes.
Thursday, March 4, 2010
He is so angry, that he begins by "quoting the wisdom of Orlando Bloom". Except he is actually quoting a line from Elizabethtown, the script of which Orlando was reading from, not writing, hence not directly responsible for its wisdom. But shush, Collin is an arbitrary person who has an opinion about a film, he knows more about stuff than you! Especially about being scathing towards 19-year-old actresses!
"[Mia Wasikowska has] got all the warmth of a refrigerated trout, and a face you'd expect to see Blu-Tacked to the inside of a London phone box. She's not a heroine - she looks like she's ON heroin. "
I can see his point: how dare she not be all sunshine and lollipops in this Tim Burton film! Burton is renowned and beloved for creating happy family-friendly films that aren't at all dark and quirky, like Sweeney Todd. Oh, did you see what he did there with the heroine/heroin? DID YA? DID YA? Johnny Depp also fails to impress:
"Johnny's Mad Hatter is a flailing, pointless idiot whose Scottish accent comes and goes like Ashley Cole on a US tour."
Apparently the idea of the Mad Hatter is a common misconception you guys; he is actually the Completely Sane Hatter That Serves A Clear Function, and should be portrayed accordingly.
Now, I'm sure none of you can be bothered looking that up, so I will helpfully paraphrase Robbie Collin's review for you:
"This was shit! Alice looks like a hooker, an unpleasant cheap hooker! Depp is a twat! Helena's only claim to worthiness is being Burton's missus! The animation looks like crap, I am an expert on such things! I made up the word "smugger", it means "more smug"! I HATED IT! HATED IT! Do I shock you? DO I SHOCK YOU? I'll even toss in a reference to a "Saigon execution"! Be shocked! Pay attention to me! Must have attention, must create controversy, GIVE ME YOUR ATTENTION! Blog about me, drum up page hits on News of the World, write about me in the SMH, follow me on Twitter! I AM A FILM CRITIC! THE WORLD WILL PAY ATTENTION TO EVERYTHING I SAY AND I WILL GO MAD WITH POWER!"
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
I didn't know you could do that! Free condiments, WHOOO! *steals soy sauce and cutlery*
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
Flicked to Dr Phil today, and saw the topic was "Abducted by a Predator", featuring guests whose children had gone missing or had been murdered. One throwaway line Dr Phil said - and I can't find an online transcript or corresponding video of this particular part, so I may not quote it correctly - struck me as odd:
[while advising college-aged twin girls and their mother about safety] These things do happen... I wonder how many girls who have been abducted, have the final thought in their minds of, 'My mother was right.' I shouldn't have been in the place, or spoken to that person...
I am lucky enough to have never (yet) had my safety threatened to that extent, but really, a victim's final thought being, "My mother was right"? Come on now.
Maybe, "Oh God, I'll never see my mother again", or "Somebody please help me", or "Why?" or "Please make it stop". And it makes me sick to write these, to imagine the ordeals of others. But I did it because I cannot believe someone would suggest a victim would take time out from the gripping terror and physical pain and pleading for one's life that comes with being abducted/tortured/raped/murdered, in order to chastise themselves for not listening to their mother. Even if they are in the "wrong" place, or talking to the "wrong" people, or wearing the "wrong" thing, or doing the "wrong" thing.
And of course, this is all making some major assumptions about all mothers everywhere offering the same "advice", and it being foolproof, and that everybody has mother figures in their lives.I mean, I don't know firsthand what goes through somebody's mind as they are attacked. I have come close, having been threatened and harassed before, in situations where some tut-tutting outsider could shake their head and sigh, "You should have listened to your mother about not sitting in the front seat of a cab/ walking on the street at night/ talking to strangers/ being impolite to strange men".
But in each of those situations - and only one escalated to the point where I experienced the pure, total fear I imagine the victim of a kidnapping/assault would feel - the last thing I was thinking was, "My mother was right!" I was thinking a lot of things, all of which are covered in those entries, but not that.
Taking safety precautions and listening to your guardian's advice is one thing. Skimming dangerously close to blaming (female) victims is another, Dr Phil. It's insensitive (to say the LEAST) to even suggest that the thought "my mother was right" or some variation of the victim-blaming sentiment should even enter a victim's head WHILE THEY ARE BEING ABDUCTED/ASSAULTED/MURDERED.
Seems like only yesterday I was addressing this very attitude... oh wait, it pretty much was!
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
I nearly peed myself when I saw Samuel L. Jackson in the post-credits scene in Iron Man.
While talking about action movies with a male friend of mine, we got onto the topic of The Matrix. I started laughing, relating the story of how Will Smith famously turned down the role of Neo for the lead in the horrendous flop Wild Wild West, saying, ‘Yeah right – computers taking over the world?’
My friend laughed, but after a contemplative silence goes, “Well, I don’t think Will Smith would have worked as Neo anyway. It would’ve been weird to have Morpheus and Neo as black.”
Before I could stop myself, I yelped, “What? Don’t you think that’s a bit racist?” Which was bad ‘cos he was immediately on the defensive.
“It just would’ve changed my perception of the whole movie.”
“What do you mean? You wouldn’t know any better if it had happened differently, right?”
“Just that Neo is… he starts off as a really dry sort of guy.”
“And dry default equals white?”
“You’re saying that Mr Anderson is meant to be an Everyman.”
“And an Everyman is a white middle class male?”
By now I can practically hear him rolling his eyes. “Yes… But what would I know, I’m just an ego-centric white middle-class male too.”
My friend has this way of sneering, ‘Yeah yeah, just ignore me, I’m just a white middle class guy who wouldn’t know oppression’ whenever I say anything about the ‘isms’. I jumped back onto why Black Neo would have been problematic.
He failed to give me an adequate response. Just kept going back to, ‘Well, Morpheus was black too. If both Neo and Morpheus were black it would’ve been… different.”
Is there a black leading guys quota I’m not aware of?
Is it really that much of a stretch to have two of three heroes (if you count the three heroes to be Neo – Morpheus – Trinity) as non-white in a major blockbuster movie?
Laurence Fishburne (Morpheus) is African American. Moreover…
Marcus Chong (Tank) is multiracial*.
Anthony Ray Parker (Dozer) is African American.
Gloria Foster (The Oracle) is African American.
The sequels included Jada Pinkett-Smith (Niobe) and Harold Perrineau Jnr. (Link) and Sing Ngai/Collin Chou (Seraph) and Randall Duk Kim (The Keymaker).
But if Neo was black that’s overstepping the mark?
WHY? Because we already have token black characters – we can’t make the hero of the whole movie black? That’s just way too different/unlikely/threatening? The hero has to appeal to EVERYBODY – failing that he has to appeal to the majority, the target audience for whom every conceivable thing on this planet is created to cater for – who just so happen to be white heterosexual middle-class men.
I just find it so weird that my friend would feel this way. I think I upset him a little (well, I more or less called him racist) but seriously? He didn’t specifically reject the actor for the role (although he did say Will Smith isn’t serious enough), it was specifically the race of the actor.
Is it that hard to have the hero of a major action movie someone who is Other? Someone who is not You – but might represent Someone Else?
I asked him to name some movies starring black action heroes. He came up with Blade and Shaft. Here’s mine:
- Samuel L. Jackson (HELL YES, particularly Pulp Fiction, Star Wars and Snakes on a Plane, and I am so loving him as Nick Fury)
- Bruce Lee (including general actors of colour)
- Jackie Chan
- Vin Diesel
- Jet Li
- Will Smith, even though he did turn down The Matrix, still counts with the likes of Bad Boys and I Am Legend under his belt
And yes, I realise this is not a ground-breaking realisation. White-washing in the media and racism in Hollywood and never casting people of colour as heros or solo stars in their own rights - all of this has been critiqued before. It's 'been done'. But no, it's not done, it's still relevant. 'Cos it's still a problem.
And yes, I realise this is not a ground-breaking realisation. White-washing in the media and racism in Hollywood and never casting people of colour as heros or solo stars in their own rights - all of this has been critiqued before. It's 'been done'. But no, it's not done, it's still relevant. 'Cos it's still a problem.
*I am not entirely sure of Marcus Chong‘s real ethnicity and can’t seem to find any information on it. I know he was adopted by Chinese-Canadian Tommy Chong and that his name was originally Marcus Wyatt. To me he appears to be of mixed descent.
Sunday, February 7, 2010
Try to guess what Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Simon Overland is talking about when he advises, ''Don't display your iPods, don't display your valuable watch, don't display your valuable jewellery. Try to look as poor as you can." Is he cautioning Australian tourists in foreign countries with high crime rates, perhaps?
Nope. This was part of his speech at an international students' safety forum, in light of recent assaults on Indian members of the community, some of which have been racially-motivated.
Look, it is one thing to take steps to ensure one's safety when in public. Most reasonable people do indeed take every possible precaution to prevent harassment, robbery, violence, victimisation.
But it is another to make demands that people must change their entire lifestyles in order not to be victimised - where they live, when they travel, where they work. And I am getting so sick of hearing it all. Whenever the news is playing in the background about another attack or attempted murder on an international student, I hear the same old questions over and fucking over again.
"Well, why was he/she walking to the isolated train station/through the park at night/on the street/etc?" I can't answer for every case out there, but I have to take public transport late at night because I work in hospitality and finish shifts at 11pm-ish, can't afford to take $25 taxi rides every time, walking isn't an option and at this stage neither is getting a car. And I get the alarmed "but girlies shouldn't be on the train late at night!" schtick from people all the time. What do you want me to do, wait for a fricken' pumpkin to turn into a horse-drawn carriage? I take as many precautions to ensure my own safety that I can: I am extra alert when walking the streets, I sit near women on the tram to give the illusion I am not travelling alone, I stick to well-lit areas and always carry my keys in my hand. But shit can happen, and if it ever did the first thing I'd hear is a lecture about "being more careful", as if I were running down King Street naked but for a bikini made of $100 notes screaming, "COME AND GET ME YOU PUSSY C&%TS!" rather than a member of public going about her damn daily business. And it shits me off.
"Why didn't he/she live somewhere else if it was that dangerous? Why did he/she move into that dodgy poor area?" Well, I don't know, probably because living somewhere else was not a viable option, methinks! I'm pretty sure if you had the choice between living in a dangerous-as-fuck area and moving somewhere safer, you'd lean towards the "safe" side of things! Maybe that seedy suburb is all they can damn well afford. Or they don't know the city very well. Or they are moving in with friends/family already established there. I know it definitely doesn't mean they want to be victimised in their own neighbourhood, as most people generally do not want that!
"Why were they working at 7-Eleven/driving cabs/working the graveyard shift at Hungry Jack's/as a bussie at that club knowing it would involve shift work, late-night commuting, violent clientele, and possible armed robbery attempts?" The same reason other people get their various jobs, I should imagine! Because the pay cheque outweighs the other issues, or they can't find anywhere else that will hire them, or they don't have the skill sets to enter a different industry, or they are part of a family-owned business or partnership, or it's close to home, or they have no choice in which shifts they are allocated, or because they like it.
Everybody has the right to feel safe; and just because they have a shiny watch, or drive cabs, or take the last tram at night, or live in a shithole, does not mean they "kinda/sorta" had it coming when they are violently attacked. Telling people to "look as poor as they can", and not show off items that could draw the attention of muggers at night, well that's one thing. That's all fine and dandy.
Except you can tick all the items on the Police Commissioner's little safety list, and still be the victim of a robbery, assault, rape or murder. And what then? There are things about some people that draw the attention of predators and, unlike iPods, can't just be hidden. Gender. Race. Size. Sexuality. Disability. Profession. And people will go to amazing lengths to blame the victim, because it's easier to jump on something they did "wrong", rather than admit it could just as easily happen to you, or admit that predators are actual members of your community, not just scary opportunistic shadow people.
I don't even have an answer here, I'm just sick of hearing all this shit about what you should do to protect yourself, and if you get stabbed on the street at night, well what the hell were you doing there in the first place? Some people are just fucked up and think it's ok to hurt other people just because they're there. And the ultimate safety tip - BE INVISIBLE! - well it's not really viable, is it?
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
I hate talking to the sales assistants, for starters – I can’t stand my body being scrutinised by a stranger, let alone a stranger who’s trying to sell me shit.
But the reason I hate bra shopping so much is because women at lingerie stores get my body wrong.
I’m a very petite person – tiny body, skinny limbs, short legs, small waist. It’s probably the Filipino in me. But I also have big boobs. Until recently I refused to buy new bras 1. Because I wasn’t sure if I was buying the correct size and didn’t want to waste money on ill-fitting bras, and 2. Because I was loath to seek help from fitting room ladies who acted like I didn’t know my own breasts.
A few years ago when the much-hyped U Plunge bras bandwagon rolled by, I jumped right on it and I eagerly went into Bras N’ Things to buy one. I have a few low-cut dresses where it’s not ideal to wear a bra underneath, but going braless isn’t really an option for me either. Those things get heavy, y’all.
So I picked the 10C and 12C out, and went into the fitting room where the salesgirl was alternating between myself and another woman next to me. She glanced at the bras I had selected – I explained the need for that particular style – then glanced at my size six body as I turned to face the mirror.
“Um,” she began loudly, eyes taking in my small frame with a smirk, “I’ll get you the B. I don’t think you’re that big.”
I cringed as she disappeared, wondering if the woman in the other stall was laughing at me. I outgrew a B-cup when I was thirteen, but I figured the salesgirl knew what she was doing. Maybe this bra style was designed with bigger cup sizes? How would I know?
I tried on the 10C and it didn’t feel comfortable. The salesgirl popped her head back in with the 10B, saying, “Yeah, it’s not supposed to sit like that. Try this one.”
I squeezed myself into the 10B and stifled a giggle. Now half my damn breast was hanging out each side, like someone had just slapped black duct tape over my nipples. The salesgirl looked in, and was just about to nod her head with approval when I turned and gestured at the unholy amount of side-boob. “I think it’s too small,” I announced drily.
I grudgingly changed into the 12C, but the bra itself (and the style is quite large anyway) was way too big and didn’t fit my body properly. The salesgirl came inside again and concluded with a frown, “You know, I just don’t think this kind of bra is made for you!”
She didn’t elaborate any further – like, why was this bra made for anybody with breasts except me? Were we perhaps getting the sizes wrong? Maybe she should actually step inside and measure me instead of snorting at me from beside the open door? But no, the gal was completely devoid of any helpful recommendations besides sighing and shrugging her shoulders at my amazing uncontrollable breasts. I thanked her and walked out, taking this message with me: There’s nothing wrong with the bra sizes or our products or my assistance, there’s something wrong with YOUR BODY.
And that’s about when I stopped buying new bras, instead wearing the same three favourites over and over again. But that kind of protest can’t last forever, and when those loyal old bras fell apart recently I was forced to face a fitting room again.
At a different store I was served by an older woman, to whom I explained I didn’t know precisely what size I was and that I wasn’t comfortable in most of my bras. She smiled kindly and said, “Ok, pick out some bras to try on and I’ll see what I can do. Just looking at you now you’re a 10 – what – B?”
I rolled my eyes to myself, mentally preparing for a repeat of the oh, I don’t think this bra is MADE for you... and she added, “Unless you’re deceptive underneath that big coat!”
As she joined me in the change room and properly adjusted the bra I was wearing she remarked with a laugh, “Ah, deceptive you are – you're a 10D. I'll get you one.”
And so I bought the first bra that has actually supported my girls properly in a long time. This older saleslady advised me I should always try a bra on and get fitting room assistance before buying it. It's bad for your breasts and your back to be wearing the wrong size, she said. It's our job to make sure you're wearing the right fit, she said. Don't be shy, always try, she said with a grin.
Pass. I figure I’ll just stubbornly cling to my new bras until I outgrow them years from now and have to do this all over again.
Saturday, January 23, 2010
She proceded to run around shouting, "E piccolo, Beckham" and ran alongside his car screaming, "You've taken us for a ride! How could you, David!"
She then told her camera crew for prank show The Hyenas: "Mmm, my God. I touched his balls."
I know The Age is all, "Italian pranksters" and "Haw haw haw, is Cristiano Ronaldo's bulge safe?" I know Di Cioccio works for one of those prank shows and it was all stemming from the "controversy" about Beckham's impressive bulge in his Armani campaign, but you know what? You need to be fucking arrested, lady. GROSS.
I mean, grabbing people by the genitals in public? You just don't do that, you pervert! Even if it's David Beckham!
And I just HATE the media coming off as, "OMG humiliating Beckham's manhood through sexual assault LOL!" It's not fucking funny, and this woman is an awful person.
Friday, January 8, 2010
Tuesday, January 5, 2010
While I, sitting over here examining my own chewed nails, wonder why if everybody's so damn beautiful and special, you just keep shoving the same specific body shape and beauty ideal down our throats again and again and again.
Prior to the release of their latest magazine cover featuring a nude and "untouched" picture of model Jennifer Hawkins in a bid to support the Butterfly Foundation (an Australian charity that provides support for people suffering from eating disorders and their carers), I imagine Marie Claire had a meeting that went something like:
Editor: We need something real for next issue, some serious lady topic that relates to our audience like no other. Perhaps with a tie-in to a charity organisation for a positive and hopeful angle!
Lackey: How about... eating disorders? That is a lady topic! How women constantly struggle with body shape and the insecurities associated with basing all our self worth on whether we meet a certain shallow criteria for attractiveness, and how this affects our physical and psychological health!
Editor: Yes! That has not been done before!
Lackey: And just throwing this out there but... what if - just this once, mind you - we have a cover girl who has not been digitally enhanced!
Other Lackeys: Gasp!
Editor: Brilliant! Showcase a real woman! Like that Dove thing a couple of years back! And, to further push the status quo... have her completely naked on the cover!
Lackey: You are a genius, madam. I will google Australian charities dedicated to fighting eating disorders right now.
Lackey: Any ideas on who the cover girl should be?
Editor: Well a popular and beloved Australian celebrity, of course, in order to raise awareness. And we have to actually sell the magazine so, y'know, preferably a model and beauty queen.
It seems to me that a charity organisation dedicated to fighting eating disorders - full of people who have seen the damage, devastation and death eating disorders cause - would point out that using a conventionally beautiful and thin model to raise awareness of the perils of negative body image might be problematic. But Julie Parker of the Butterfly Foundation has defended criticism of Marie Claire's choice of anti-eating disorder covergirl thusly:
"Jennifer sells magazines and she creates awareness. If Marie Claire had chosen to put on their cover an ordinary women [sic], say myself or a friend of yours, it would not have created the awareness it does."
Well, why not have an "ordinary" high profile woman on the cover, then? Magda Szubanski is a much-loved Aussie celebrity. When Kyle Sandilands bagged her out live on radio the entire country jumped to her defence. She's also a spokeswoman for Jenny Craig. I'm sure she'd have some perspective on negative body image issues and eating disorders.
Or Rebel Wilson? Awesome lady, confident and funny as hell. Have you seen her on Thank God You're Here? She's amazing. And suffers from weight issues.
Or Ricki-Lee Coulter? The former Aussie Idol contestant and singer/TV host has to constantly defend criticism of her body shape.
"I can't tell you the number of times people have told me if I just lost 10kg I could go much further in my career," Coulter said. "But I'm determined to show them - and other average-size women - it is doable and possible."
Now, I quite like Jennifer Hawkins - she seems very down-to-Earth, friendly and kind. I believe she is a good role model. And obviously as an actual model Jennifer knows firsthand the complex relationship between body image and self-esteem. It's great to see her here addressing the issue, and willing to take a risk to raise awareness.
But Jesus, surely a charity with a vision of living "in a world that celebrates health, well-being and diversity", and a magazine supposedly supporting this goal, could have selected a cover model that didn't just reinforce the same old narrow ideals of beauty they purport to be challenging.
White! Thin! Pretty! Young! Able-bodied! Blonde! Long legs! Big boobs! Perfect teeth! Tiny waist! Completely hairless body!
Imagine a young girl who already hates her body picking up this magazine and seeing the shallow message, you are beautiful just the way you are! See, naked former-Miss Universe here has flaws too! Because at sixteen, I knew I had no hope in hell of ever looking like that, I would've been like, "Wow, Jen's really positive and confident with her body - and I would be too IF I LOOKED LIKE THAT. WHICH I DON'T."
Having the same magazine with Ricki-Lee or somebody on the cover, along with the message, "My body is beautiful and I'm confident to embrace it. There's nothing to be ashamed of." ...that has more of the impact you want, Butterfly Foundation! Yeah, Marie Claire is ultimately about making money, and they're going to sell a hell of a lot more nudie pictures of Jennifer Hawkins than of somebody over size 8... but where's the challenge in that?
So, you really want to make a difference? You really want to raise awareness about eating disorders and promote diversity in the way women are portrayed in the media? You really want women to feel so comfortable with their bodies that one day eating disorders will be a thing of the past?
Then stop doing it half-arsed. Break your own taboos and showcase women who don't fit that beauty mould. There are plenty of 'em both in and out of the public eye. Don't tell me it won't "raise awareness". Don't tell me pointing out some dimples on a model's thigh is the best you can do. If YOU can't accept women outside the narrow convention of feminine beauty than you're doing nothing to promote change, no matter what the article says inside.
I know you're trying, but from here it just looks like you're running around in circles. Shallow, little circles.
Saturday, January 2, 2010
THE BLACK CAT sits on the couch, quietly wasting the afternoon looking up South American capitals on Wikipedia via her laptop. Enter MAMA CAT.
MAMA CAT: Cat, do you know how to defrag your computer?
THE BLACK CAT: No, what’s that?
MAMA CAT: Your computer is too slow, so this will delete all the files you don’t need and make it faster! Look up “steps to defrag Windows Vista” on Google!
THE BLACK CAT: (complying) Ok… (after a pause) Do I have to download this thing?
MAMA CAT: WHAT?! NO! DON’T DOWNLOAD ANYTHING! LOOK UP THE STEPS! THE STEEEEPS!! (exhales angrily)
THE BLACK CAT: Ok, ok! Here, “how to defrag your Windows Vista drives”.
MAMA CAT: Let me read it! (scrolls up and down squinting at screen without glasses on)
THE BLACK CAT: (actually reading instructions, begins going through the defrag steps)
MAMA CAT: WHAT ARE YOU DOING?! DON’T DO ANYTHING! DON’T TOUCH! I’M TRYING TO FIND IT!
THE BLACK CAT: (opens Disk Defragmenter program)
MAMA CAT: WHAT’S THAT?! STOP IT! DON’T DOWNLOAD!
THE BLACK CAT: I’m not downloading, that’s the program!
MAMA CAT: JESUS CHRIST! DON’T TOUCH ANYTHING IF YOU DON’T KNOW DON’T TOUCH IT! I’ll go to my computer and write down MY instructions. (storms off muttering) Don’t need to DOWNLOAD! DOWNLOAD!
THE BLACK CAT: If you do the exact same thing I did you are in so much trouble.
INT. BACKROOM, HOME – DAY
MAMA CAT is at her computer while THE BLACK CAT stands behind her.
MAMA CAT: (opens a webpage with exact same instructions THE BLACK CAT was following) Now, I’ll write it down, but just watch. You do this, and this, and click this…
MAMA CAT: (opens Disk Defragmenter program)
THE BLACK CAT: MUM, THAT’S THE EXACT SAME THING I DID ONLY SLOWER.