I Can’t Keep Quiet

A couple of things making me think.

  1. Friend comments that I really should start blogging again (thanks Nick!)
  2. Red wine.
  3. This:


So here is something that I truly believe. In these dangerous times, if you have an ounce of creative instinct in you, it is unethical not to create. Make good art.

This joy in protest, in the face of ugliness, this beautiful resistance. This harmony in the face of being torn apart. Personally this is my favourite act of protest that I have seen. What could be greater, what could be more glorious than this?

(There’s something ancient and undeniable in song. When you open your mouth and your throat and your everything and it comes pouring out like the purest fucking thing you’ve ever experienced)

What if this is opportunity? There’s a crack in everything, and that’s how the light gets in. What if this could be how the light gets in?

How dare I stop writing? Even for a moment. You have to write like you’re running out of time, because what if you are? Hard times require furious dancing.

And what if it happens here, what if this insane wave of neo-liberal-fascism comes to my country? It’s already stirring. If it can happen in America it can so just as easily happen here (let alone all the places around the world that are in even greater suffering), and the planet these days is just one big place, anyway, what’s an ocean or two in separation?

I gave up on this stuff for a while, I burnt out, I thought we got what we deserved, I stayed (relatively) quiet. Fuck you Tony Abbott.

… You know what? No.

No one deserves this.

That’s not good enough. Try harder.

We (earth, people, us, the pale blue dot) are better than this.

Time to re-ignite.

~

Cause I can’t keep quiet,
a one-woman riot.
I can’t keep quiet
for anyone.
No. Not any more.

 

Advertisements

#LoveWins

Except, no, love doesn’t win.

Love gets gunned down by a fanatic with a gun. Love dies screaming. Love bleeds out on the pavement. Love sends desperate text messages before falling silent. Love is killed. Love dies, and dies, and dies.

And even if it doesn’t die, it is scarred. Love is rushed to the hospital, pocked with bullets. Love loses blood. Love loses limbs. Love has nightmares about hiding under dead bodies. Love has PTSD. Love loses people.

Love’s legs are broken, and even though they’ll walk again the bones will never set quite right, they will always ache in the cold.

Love was just going about its business and trying to have a good time, to be kind, to get through life without causing too much harm. Love is not good enough for some people. Love does not convince people who are already so far gone they think that violent hate is the answer.

Love is mocked by our politicians and our political institutions. Love is lied to with platitudes and then stabbed in the back by conservative political donations and back-room deals. Love is dismissed and ignored by the powerful. Love is picked on in the playground. Love is called names. Love is hated by those who are blinded by their faith. Love gets fucked over again, and again, and again. Love cries itself to sleep at night because it feels like nothing is changing.

Love has to live in a world where Trump is an American presidential candidate and Cory Bernardi is an Australian Senator.

Love, quite frankly, is tired of this bullshit. And so am I.


I’m sick of people pretending that religion has nothing to do with it: IT DOES.

Almost all major religious texts preach homophobia. It doesn’t matter if you are religious person with humanist ethics who dismisses the parts of their Bible/Qu’ran that they don’t like. Your faith is no more or less valid than the people who read the same book and decide to blow up a building full of Filthy Heathens, or bomb an abortion clinic. Faith by definition has no basis in rationalism or reality, and there is nothing to stop it spiralling out of control. Faith does not and cannot stop radicalisation; only logical human morality can.

I’m sick of people pretending that homophobia has nothing to do with it: IT DOES.

Queer people are still, in the 21st-goddamn-century, treated unequally by our political and social institutions. If you’re a casual homophobe, congratulations, fuckwit, you helped Orlando happen. You are a bad person and you should feel bad.

I’m sick of people pretending that inadequate mental health care has nothing to do with it: IT DOES.

Logically, the majority of the world’s population follows a religion of some description, and yet the majority of the world’s population are not psychotic mass-murderers. If you hear voices in your head, you need psychological help, even if the voice calls itself ‘God’ and convinces you that eternal glory awaits you in the afterlife. (Hint: it doesn’t. You’ll just be dead. Sorry.)

I’m sick of people pretending that gun control has nothing to do with it: IT DOES.

This one’s just incredibly fucking obvious to most of the world.
WAKE UP, AMERICA. 


I know why people say that love wins. Love wins because in spite of everything done to it, love keeps on loving. It just keeps on doing what it does.

Is that going to be enough, though?

Normally I am inspired by solidarity, but tonight I feel like it’s just a hollow hash tag. There’s no glory here. Love doesn’t win. Love gets massacred.

Rules for Political Debate

1. Fuck diplomacy.

But…

2. If you are antagonistic, do not be surprised when people are antagonised.

 

This, I believe, is the only way to play.

The deep dark pit of cynicism

I have a confession to make: since the election, I have not felt the tiniest political stirring. I haven’t signed any petitions. I haven’t written any angry letters. I haven’t yelled at the news or even posted many links on Facebook.

The only exception was a couple of days after the election when Mr. Abbott effectively flipped everybody the finger by gleefully pronouncing himself the Minister for Women. The sheer outrageousness of that moment seems to have blown my political fuse, and now when it comes to our illustrious new government I can’t even manage to get my feathers ruffled.

This makes it sound all nice and peaceful but it’s really just depressing. I can’t bring myself to care any more because I am not represented by my government. The Prime Minister is supposed to represent the interests of the entire nation (not just those that voted the winning party in), but in this case, through either ignorance or malicious buttheadedness, he is not capable of doing so.

The headlines say that Carbon emissions must be cut ‘significantly’ by 2020 according to the latest UN report, and I can’t even be bothered to read the article. I feel like I have been reading that exact article for almost ten years now and nothing is happening and no one is listening. It doesn’t matter whether the scientific consensus on climate change is at 7% or at 97%; not a single fuck is given by Tony Abbott. Not even a single one.

And what am I going to do about it if untrained, unqualified, incompetent people are spouting their opinions about climate change all over the media as if they actually had a smidge of veracity to them? People with scientific qualifications are just promoters of ‘left-wing zealotry’, anyway, and what can you do when people have their heads buried so deeply in the sand that their faces are being melted off by the core of the earth?

Thousands of people are going to the climate change protest on November 17th and while I wish them all the best, I just can’t find the energy to join them right now. Nobody is listening. Abbott only listens to those who suit his political agenda, and there were enough of them to vote him into office so why should he give a flying hoot what anyone else says? Even if they have devoted a lifetime of study and careful scientific analysis to the area, I mean, what would they know about it, really?

Sigh.

Look, I’m sure this is just a phase and I will be back to writing angry ranty things on facebook in no time (cause that’s totally the best way to effect political change, doncha know). For the moment I have just given up.

I hope everyone else keeps fighting the good fight.

Nope.

Regaining Equilibrium

Over the past month or so I’ve thought of at least half a dozen politics-related themes to blog about, but in the end I’m not sure there’s much I can add to the swirling vortex of election debate already out there. So I thought I’d just record my subjective experience of it instead, because maybe it’s all I have to offer. What’s one more snarky facebook comment or witty tweet worth? It doesn’t come to much at this point. I’ve just got me.

The first election in which I was old enough to vote coincided with an end to the long Howard Years and the introduction of a (nominally, or perhaps relatively) left-wing government. This means that for the entirety of my voting life, the dice have more or less rolled my way. I have to acknowledge my luck in this, but it has rather spoiled me for the reality of politics, which is that there will not always be a political party that represents you in power. (Theoretically, the government is supposed to represent all citizens, but that feels so far from true right now that it’s hard to take the idea very seriously.) I’m just starting to come to grips with the associated feelings of frustration and political helplessness this brings, and recognising that, despite some of the Labor Party’s lurches to the right on some issues, conservative voters were probably feeling something like this for the last six years.

What do you do when you feel like the system has let you down, when it seems no one’s listening? How do you stop feeling alienated in your own country?

It’s stupidly simple, I suppose. Things go on. You wake up the next morning, a bit hungover maybe. You cook breakfast, go for a surf. Regain equilibrium. You talk to people who get where you’re coming from, so you don’t feel like the last sane person in a nation of crazies, or maybe the other way around. You remind yourself that no matter how horrific it seems, you are not actually living in a place where everyone thinks women or minorities are inferior, and despite how overwhelming it feels there are still plenty of decent people in the world, even most of the ones who voted for a party you don’t support.

Getting this perspective back is incredibly fucking hard.

It’s also the only way to prevent losing all hope in the human race. So it’s kind of important.

I am thinking of going off politics for a while. (I bet this idea will last all of about 3 days, but hush, let me at least contemplate it.) A little while ago one of my friends asked me, I think only half-jokingly, when I was going to enter politics myself, and I snort-laughed at the idea.

No, I thought, there are much better ways to attempt to change the world, if that’s your bent. Not to mention less soul-crushing methods.

So perhaps the next time a politician makes a thoughtless, throw-away comment reducing women to their sexual function, I will take a deep breath and pick up my copy of The Handmaid’s Tale.

Maybe the next time a politician admits that their God or the voices in their head told them to vote against gay marriage, I will renew my membership with the Atheist Foundation of Australia.

The next time a politician displays their ignorance of science and spouts their opinions of the Big Whacky Climate Change Conspiracy, I’ll engage my creative drive and write the parody short story I’ve been meaning to do for years, the one that has Evil Scientists dressing in black trenchcoats and dark sunglasses and doing commando rolls out of limousines, being super sneaky.

Earlier this year I attended a discussion panel at the Sydney Writer’s Festival about feminism in Australia and the wider world today, and something that one of the speakers said really stuck with me. Remember to look on the bright side, she said. Hold on to your humour and hold on to your humanity. “After all, Martin Luther King never said, ‘I have a nightmare’…”

… So.

Go outside and have picnics and write and take photos, disengage from the theoretical and re-connect with the real. Also abandon the real for short periods of time and lose myself in fiction, for the sake of my sanity and to re-charge my batteries.

It’s not like I’m coming up short for hobbies. There are so many things I could be pouring my energy into.

When things seem nightmarish, remember to keep dreaming.

And breathe.

You’re no good to anyone or any cause at all if you burn yourself out.

Why isn’t feminism taught in schools?

… Because it’s clear that there is a vast chunk of Australia’s population who fundamentally do not understand what sexism is. There are swathes of people (at least in internet comment sections) who cannot understand why calling a male politician a “fat man” is not considered sexist (just impolite), while commenting on the Prime Minister’s cleavage or the use of words like ‘bitch’ and ‘witch’ is sexist.

Just in case it’s necessary to elaborate: ‘fat’ is not a word that is limited by the person’s gender. Both men and women can be ‘fat’. So while using it is still potentially an insult (and problematic for other reasons I won’t go into here), it’s not a gendered insult. Perhaps what confuses some people is the use of the word ‘man’, but how can there be anything inherently insulting about calling a man a man? Calling Julia Gillard a woman is not an insult or sexist. Calling her a bitch or a cow is (dehumanising her by using terms for female animals), as is commenting on the shape of her ass and thighs.

“But men have thighs and asses too!” I can hear the indignant babble rising from the netherworlds of the internet already. The trick is remembering the context. The context is that women have been treated more or less as sexual objects for hundreds and hundreds of years up until a comparatively recent point in time, so really, this shouldn’t be that hard to remember. If you are struggling, try harder.

There are people who seem to think that even talking about feminism is a kind of reverse-sex-discrimination in itself, that the act of criticising men for being sexist is a sexist act. You have to wonder if these same people, a few generations ago, would be telling off black people for complaining about slavery (“What do you mean, white people and black people are equal?! That’s racist! How dare you!”), or criticising the gay rights movement for having the gall to say that being gay shouldn’t be a criminal offence (“How can you suggest that you’re being oppressed?! Stop being such meanies to the nice straight people!”).

Some examples of comments I have actually read, with my own commentary:

  • “The only reason Julia Gillard was Prime Minister was because she was a woman.” – Yes, because it is a well-known fact that thousands of years of patriarchy never happened, and women have always been socially advantaged when it comes to positions of power.
  • “Julia Gillard is way more sexist than the Opposition!” – Gillard is more sexist by herself than the whole of the Opposition combined! SHE IS THE GODZILLA OF SEXISM.
  • “The fact is: Julia Gillard has made gender an offensive topic, not Tony Abbott. She has set the tone and subject of debate.” – Damn womenz, actually talking about prejudice instead of doing the honourable thing and ignoring it like the rest of us!
  • “I must be a real incompetent twat [sexist insults should always be used when trying to prove how un-sexist you are] cos even though I am a guy, lots of women (oh geez I said the “w” word) at my work place gets paid more than me. [Perhaps it’s because of their superior ability to construct a grammatically correct sentence? I hear basic literacy goes down really well in the modern workplace.] Let me tell you, people get paid what they deserve and what they bring to the place they work for. [So back when slavery was still around, slaves didn’t get paid for their work because they didn’t ‘deserve’ it? Good to know that prejudice doesn’t exist cuz Some Guy On The Internet sez so.] Also, one gender over another has the privilege to bear a child. This is not a chore nor an obligation, it’s a natural privilege.” [Oh, hurray! I can’t wait to squeeze a squalling infant out of my uterus! LUCKY ME.]

This was the point at which I did a ragequit on the comments section. I never seem to learn.

* Quotes are plumbed from the reeking depths of the comments section on this article (although they’re fairly standard – pick any article about Julia Gillard and gender and you’ll get the same stuff). That’s right, folks, I read the comments so you don’t have to.

Rock on, Pussy Riot.

I have just read the closing statements of the three women from the Russian punk band Pussy Riot, whose trial has just been completed with an unsurprising guilty verdict.

These young women are phenomenal.

Some excerpts:

Yekaterina Samutsevich:

“I now have mixed feelings about this trial. On the one hand, we expect a guilty verdict. Compared to the judicial machine, we are nobodies, and we have lost. On the other hand, we have won. The whole world now sees that the criminal case against us has been fabricated. The system cannot conceal the repressive nature of this trial.”

Maria Alyokhina:

“I would like to point out that very similar methods were used during the trial of the poet [Joseph] Brodsky. His poems were defined as “so-called” poems; the witnesses for the prosecution hadn’t actually read them—just as a number of the witnesses in our case didn’t see the performance itself and only watched the clip online. Our apologies, it seems, are also being defined by the collective prosecuting body as “so-called” apologies. Even though this is offensive. And I am overwhelmed with moral injury and psychological trauma. Because our apologies were sincere. I am sorry that so many words have been uttered and you all still haven’t understood this. Or it is calculated deviousness when you talk about our apologies as insincere. I don’t know what you still need to hear from us. But for me this trial is a “so-called” trial. And I am not afraid of you. I am not afraid of falsehood and fictitiousness, of sloppily disguised deception, in the verdict of the so-called court.
Because all you can deprive me of is “so-called” freedom. This is the only kind that exists in Russia. But nobody can take away my inner freedom. It lives in the word, it will go on living thanks to openness [glasnost], when this will be read and heard by thousands of people. This freedom goes on living with every person who is not indifferent, who hears us in this country. With everyone who found shards of the trial in themselves, like in previous times they found them in Franz Kafka and Guy Debord. I believe that I have honesty and openness, I thirst for the truth; and these things will make all of us just a little bit more free. We will see this yet.”

(Interjecting here just to say – I love that. “And I am not afraid of you.” I can practically hear that echoing around a courtroom, I can hear it echoing from the other side of the world.)

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova:

“We were searching for real sincerity and simplicity, and we found these qualities in the yurodstvo [the holy foolishness] of punk.
[…]
Yesterday, Madonna performed in Moscow with “Pussy Riot” written on her back. More and more people see that we are held here illegally, on false pretences. This amazes me. I am amazed that truth really does triumph over deception. Despite the fact that we are physically here, we are freer than everyone sitting across from us on the side of the prosecution. We can say anything we want and we say everything we want.”

 

I’ll never believe anyone who says that artists can’t change the world. Rock on, Pussy Riot.

Time now for the Russian Spring.

Previous Older Entries