Thursday, September 13, 2012

Australia's Paid Parental Leave scheme is flawed

I was having a discussion with a group of people about Australia’s paid parental leave scheme, and we noticed that it is biased against families where the birth mother earns more than her partner. As someone who could potentially end up in this position in the future (depending on the timing of things and whatnot), I find this rather concerning.

The government webpage ( says “If you are the birth mother of a newborn child or the initial primary carer of an adopted child, you must lodge the claim for Parental Leave Pay .... if you wish to return to work early, transfer some or all of your unused Parental Leave Pay …. The person to whom you transfer Parental Leave Pay must lodge a claim for the scheme and meet the eligibility criteria. This person cannot be eligible for the scheme if the birth mother or the initial primary carer of the adopted child is not eligible.”

This means that for the partner to participate in the scheme, both members of the couple need to pass the means test.  For example, suppose there are two couples, A and B.  Couple A's mother earns $80k annually and her partner earns $155k annually.  Couple B reverses the salaries so that the mother earns $155k and her partner earns $80k.  Couple A will be able to participate in the scheme, but couple B will not, despite the fact that the two couples have the same income.

I realise that it might be a rare thing these days for a couple to be in a situation where the mother earns more than her partner and the partner wants to be the initial primary caregiver of their child. But, just because it is a rare situation doesn't mean it is all right for the scheme to discriminate against those people. Since the scheme was, in part, implemented to encourage women to stay in the workforce, I find it surprising that it can penalise mothers who earn more than their partners.

In light of this, I recently lodged  a complaint with the Department of Human Services. The woman I spoke to said she saw the hole in the system, and that the way these things get fixed is for people to lodge more complaints.

Please help get this fixed! You can lodge a complaint of your own here:
(phone number is 1800 132 0468 - select the option for centrelink)

Friday, June 29, 2012

Crochet cute

I'm bored of posting on my blog only when something bad has happened.

So today, I present the crochet dog I made. Just because.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Things not to do when waiting in line

[Content note: violation of personal boundaries, also foul language]

Dear denizens of the internet,

In light of an incident which happened to me when waiting for a table in a restaurant tonight, I'd like to give everyone who needs it a not so gentle reminder of waiting in line etiquette.

If you are waiting in line for something, and there is a woman, who is reading something on her phone while waiting in the same line as you, do not go put your arm around her and ask her if you can watch porn with her on her phone.

Now I know this might seem like common sense, but if you're unsure of why you shouldn't do that, it's because you come off as a creepy fuckwad who is invading her personal space. You will be setting off a million red flags in her brain which are there to help her avoid entitled assholes who are dangerous to be around. Even if you don't think you're dangerous, that's still what will be happening, because she can't read your mind. She gets to decide what sort of behaviour seems dangerous to her, not you. Also, even if you are "just trying to be friendly" by doing such a thing, and you can't see that you're being incredibly intrusive and rude, you're an idiot. If you can, and you don't care, then by gods you're a bigger jerkface than anyone could have predicted.

If you can't think of other things to do while you're waiting in line, try checking your own phone. Or talking to the group of friends you're with. Or staring at the ceiling. Or attempting to start a polite conversation that isn't about a sexually charged subject with a stranger. Or anything else that doesn't involve inserting yourself into somebody else's personal space without their permission.

If you do somehow find yourself in the embarrassing situation of having already put your arm around a woman who is a stranger to you, and she says "don't touch me", one thing you absolutely do not do is direct your apology to another man who happens to be standing near her. Most especially you do not apologise for "stepping on his toes".

I would have thought that this seems like common sense, but if somebody says to you "don't touch me", you generally apologise to the person you touched. There isn't anyone else to apologise to, since you are have invaded that person's boundaries, and nobody else's. A woman is not the property of her male partner or father, so you are not breaching any of their boundaries by touching her without their permission. A woman who goes out in public without her (male) partner or her father is not "free game to whatever to with impunity because she's out without an owner", because she owns herself. I really shouldn't have to remind anybody of this, but pre-school 101 still applies: keep your hands to yourself.

If somehow you're managed to invade a woman's personal space, and then apologise to the wrong person, and she and the group of people she's with get angry at you, you should know that "I was just trying to be friendly" and "I was just joking around" are not justifications for your behaviour. There is no justification. You don't get to touch people if they don't want it. That goes for everyone. If somehow you've got this far into the situation, and you're still trying to defend yourself, all I can say is "dig up, fool!". You've just perpetuated a nasty bit of retrograde sexism and rape culture which claims that women do not own their own bodies. You should be ashamed of yourself.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

A response

Receive article suggestion from university friend that I "might find interesting" (read infuriating), and much typing is done in procrastination.


(Yeah, I didn't think it was going to be good, but I wanted to respond)


So what I'm getting from that article is

"citation needed on your rape statistic [1]",

"I call bullshit on genetic differences in spatial reasoning and emotional intelligence, that's learned behaviour (so very difficult to measure a genetic effect), and citation needed",

"Good, you're a nice guy who doesn't rape people. Have a cookie.",

"I call bullshit on rape being universally condemned, for sure it is in name, but actions speak louder than words. [2]. Also you just described rape culture in your refutation of it existence. Whoops!",

"feminism has accomplished all it's goals? ROFL NO, explain the dearth of women in power in the upper levels of politics, business, etc, and excluding women who take time off to be a mother doesn't correct anything, why aren't men doing that too? Why is it that women on average still have a much smaller economic power than men?",

"wait, we have full reproductive rights? I guess the odious Right to Life [sic] group isn't actually trying to take away women's right to their own body or anything, also like, everything that's happening in American politics right now, and the 7-year court case the Right to Life [sic] group has been having with the NZ justice system to try and take away our rights to control our own body. Also New Zealand's abortion law is still in the crimes act. Yes, there's clearly not any need to advocate for reproductive rights anywhere in the west any more [3]",

"LOL you think the current justice system actually deals with rape well. Yes, for all other crimes it's debated that it wasn't a crime at all because of your past actions. Like, you gave away a present once, that means that you didn't get robbed, you just gave the robber a gift! LOL of course that doesn't happen", and

"I think you don't understand the point of the Slut Walk. It protests the idea that women "deserve" rape if they wear "provocative" clothing, which is something you claim to support",

TL;DR: The article seems not very well informed, even though I'll admit that it is better than most things that come out of the "manosphere". Comment #3 by Paul has some good points, and later Mark Neil also makes an informative comment.

[1] If you want some real statistics on rape, it's estimated at 18%, not 8%, using a very narrow definition of rape (this number only includes rapes by force or impairment using substances. Rape via coercion is listed separately at 13%). (This is from a US perspective, but the culture there is not so dissimilar from here). This is from 2010 results of the The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey from the US Center for Disease Control (pdf):

Fact sheet about victims and perpetrators of rape and sexual assault from the University of Massachusetts (pdf):

[2] You know, I'd type it all out and add more references, but Melissa McEwan's done it for me.

Also, even if rape weren't so common in western society, the way it's held over women to generate fear would be a problem in itself. See this thread for some examples of how the threat of rape curtails women's daily movements:

[3] Read any news relating to the American Republican Party, and their promises to "overturn abortion" and "fight contraception" and their all-male panel on contraception.

Right to Life [sic] (RTL) v Abortion Supervisory Committee (ASC) court case:

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Love letters

I've been very tempted to add the following to my profile at work recently:

If you're about to send me a love letter, or a note telling me you like me, or similar, stop.

It's very unlikely that it is appropriate to use your work email to do so, and if you don't have a personal address to send it to, then you probably don't know me well enough anyway.

Seriously, I'm flattered that y'all think I'm cool, but fuck off.

Case in point.

I won't really put that up, but seriously, I would have thought guys would have enough sense to realise that that's probably not a good idea.

Monday, March 5, 2012

When will you stop being a feminist?

When there is no net advantage to being a man or a woman in society. When nobody is telling me what I can and can't do with my body, and when it is my own to do with as I please (without anyone touching me without my permission). When my reproductive organs don't tell you anything about my personality, or why I might be disagreeable at any given time. When the number if sexual partners I've had is a non-issue. When becoming a mother does not put me in a position of weakness (with respect to a male partner or in society in general) and when it does not damage my career. When I can automatically be assumed competent in the workplace until proven otherwise, and likewise men in the home. When the rate of family violence is very low, and there is no shame in speaking about it, and rare cases are fairly and equally tried. When the rate of sexual violence is lowered, and there is no shame in speaking about it, and the rare cases of it are fairly and equally tried. When there is no longer a wage gap. When our leadership actually represents women and minorities, and does so with respect and upholds everyone's human rights. When women are properly represented in popular media. When being a homemaker is not to be looked down upon. When "you're such a girl" makes no sense as an insult.

I could go on. But most importantly, when all of this is true for every person on the planet.
Sadly, this is unlikely to happen in my lifetime. That doesn't mean I can't begin laying foundations towards a better future for the next generation.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

On romantic gestures

One thing that I find a little strange about dating is how some men feel like they need to make particular types of romantic gestures to earn my affection. Things like buying me flowers and jewelry. I don't have particular objections to flowers and jewelry, they just seem... kind of useless to me.

I'm not a huge wearer of jewelry (it somehow rarely occur to me to do so, even though I have a reasonable stash of mostly costume jewelry that I've acquired in various ways over the years). I also have a habit of breaking/losing things too, so then I feel kind of pressured into wearing this thing... often which I don't even necessarily think is that pretty, and then worry about losing it, or breaking it by forgetting to take it off before sleeping or showering.

Flowers... well they die. And you have to look after them for a while before they do so. Also they have a habit of making a mess and smelling bad before you get around to throwing them out. It's doubly annoying when the giver of the flowers hasn't even bothered to find out what sort of flowers I like first. (Red roses, especially when packaged with baby's breath, immediately come to mind. I'm not much of a fan because they were my grandmother's favourite, and I buy them to put on her grave sometimes, so they mostly just remind me of her. Not necessarily a bad thing, but it's probably not what a giver of flowers is intending with them.)

Another thing that bothers me a little bit about this sort of stuff early in a relationship is the feeling that I might owe somebody something for this... like, what do they expect to get out of giving me things? Should I give them something back? Are they asserting some kind of ownership by marking me or my desk with very stereotypical items of romance?

Or are they just doing it because they feel like they should because that stuff always works on TV and in the media? (You know, just like how women are the hive mind and all like the same things, and the media is always an accurate representation... yeah something like that.) Is it like, they think that they're supposed to "just know" what I like without asking me (and maybe that I'd be annoyed by being asked), so they're falling back on the obvious (and stereotypical)? I mean, if I was asked, I'd probably say I didn't want anything for my birthday/christmas/valentines day/<insert other event here>. And I'd really be fine with no present, or non-object things like spending some extra time together, or cuddles, or food. Seriously... I'd really prefer that over wasting money on things I don't care that much about any day.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Forty-Fifth Down Under Feminists Carnival

Hello! I've finally finished compiling the Forty-Fifth edition of the Down Under Feminists Carnival! This edition contains 57 feminist posts from bloggers living Australia and New Zealand, written and submitted to me in January 2012.

Thank you all for the submissions - it's been really good getting submissions on blogs I haven't read. It's  been very hard to decide on two posts per blogger - there are so many excellent writers out there! My apologies for being slow - in addition to having a bunch of work commitments show up at the last minute, I've been having a few issues with blogger. Also I did this gradually and may have forgotten to make notes of which links should have content notes/trigger warnings. I've also tried to categorise everything, but of course many pieces don't fit nicely in boxes. Please let me know anything I've missed/got wrong in the comments.


Good Gravey takes apart a panicky NZ Herald article about how many takeaways women eat.

You are doing that wrong compares the movie posters for the American and Swedish versions of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

Blue Milk writes a detailed analysis of the 2011 and 1971 versions Straw Dogs, centering around the rape scene. 
[Content note for discussion of sexual violence]

Anna at Larvatus Prodeo talks about the Melinda Tankard Reist debate.

Melinda Tankard Reist doesn't speak for Helen at the Cast Iron Balcony either.

Gladly the Cross-Eyed Bear writes a satiric argument in favour of exorcisms in response to an article against homosexuals and same-sex marriage.

Jo talks about the effects of "The Biggest Loser"s "Learn to Love Yourself" slogan.

Megan Wegan at Craft is the New Black is angry and articulate about a Slate article claiming that "small breasts could make a comeback".

Elizabeth at My Spilt Milk talks about motherhood and breastfeeding, and recent media representations thereof.

Jo at A Life Unexamined would like people to stop thinking her body is about them.

Julie Goodwin responds to predictable commentary on her health after wearing swimmers on a cover of New Idea magazine.

Sleepy Dumpling at Fat Heffalump talks about talking to Target Australia about their plus-size clothing range.

Sleepy Dumpling at Fat Heffalump is here to let everyone know that nobody needs to explain their body to anyone. (by the way, Fat Heffalump is awesome. I highly recommend reading)

Kelly guest posts at My Spilt Milk writes about how disappointing the dominant discourse on obesity and "eating healthily" is.

The News with Nipples is disappointed by the media misrepresenting the Teenage Parent Trial as for teenage mothers only.

Penni Russon wrote a poem about breastfeeding.

Blue Milk writes about her daughter and how girls learn to live in a sexist culture.

Elizabeth at My Spilt Milk writes about how she finds solace in giving and receiving kindness from and to her mother and daughter.

WillowDove writes a call for action for the International Day of People with Disability.

Lauredhel raises a resounding "what?" to a legal ruling that let Jetstar off the hook after refusing to allow Sheila King on a flight because there were already two people requiring wheelchair assistance on it.

Good Gravey has things to say about the Libra fail and how to give apologies.

Anthea at The Hand Mirror points out how dangerous the common failtastic trans* narrative in the media is.

Kassie Hartendorp guest posts about Libra's transphobic ad at The Hand Mirror.

TigTog at Hoyden About Town links to an article which reflects a little on how the privileging of male narratives over female starts at school.

Kerryn at Still Life With Cat has put together a list of ten random legendary bad girls of literature. There are even more good examples in the comments.

Chally at Zero at the Bone discusses how we disappear children's sexualities, and what that means for queer sexualities.

Queen Emily talks about the racism embedded in Australia Day celebrations.

Kim at He Hōaka is bemused by what sort of things the New Zealand government says it can afford.

Chally at Zero at the Bone writes about reading about race from white and non-white authors as a non-white reader, and her responses to such texts. (yes, this is the third one, but I really couldn't pick two lol)

stargazer talks about national days and how they promote racism and discourage global thinking.

A guest poster at The Hand Mirror reviews Colonising Myths—Māori Realities: He Rukuruku Whakaaro.

Reproductive Rights
Captiver at the ALRANZ blog takes on the idea that abortion is the cause of moral decline.

[Trigger warning: sexual violence] Queen of Thorns points out the big difference in the meaning of a headline when one word is removed.

[Content note: discussions of theoretical rape scenarios] LudditeJourno writes about using the terms unwanted, coerced and forced sex when exploring how how somebody understands an experience.

bluebec boggles at the statistics quoted by Melinda Tankard Reist, and investigates the study she got them from.

Blue Milk talks about why "pro-life"is anti-feminist.

Sex Work
Jane at Because I'm a Whore explains her choice to use the word "whore" for herself.

QoT writes about the panic over residential brothels.

Dorothy Dentata guest posts at The Lady Garden in response to a Dominion Post article shaming sex work.

Ms Eloise talks about being the "Feminist Friend" in a group.

Chally at Zero at the Bone writes about feeling like a failure when she didn't call out someone's sexist behaviour and how that guilt is part of the same coin that blames women for existing.

Scuba Nurse at The Hand Mirror writes about how it's sometimes intimidating for a newbie feminist to comment in a feminist space.

bluebec rebuts the trope that people choose to be offended about things.

Rachel Rayner guest posts at The Hand Mirror about cupcakes, and how they seem to be becoming obligatory at feminist events.

Emma at The Lady Garden writes about how we commodify "love" and "sex".

(A late addition!) Not big on dignity writes a personal account explaining why living as a woman means being a warrior.

Guides and 101s
Mary at Hoyden About Town writes a helpful guide to soliciting research participants.

Tammi Jonas talks about responses to responses to disagreement, and the comments talk about the above twitter exchange.

Scubanurse talks about the concept of spoon theory in relation to feminism.

tallulahspankhead writes about sluts at The Lady Garden.

Ada Camp
Danielle at Scrambled Tofu reviews her experiences at Ada Camp and Haecksen.

Scmaltz on Wry attended Ada Camp and was inspired.

Tammiois at Raw/Roar talks about morality and how it relates to our bodies and political views.

Imogen at Raw/Roar writes a moving account of her father's life and death, and the suffering of everyone involved.
[Content note - deals with the death of her father by suicide and family violence]

Sue Conde is the 20th of January's Friday Feminaust.

stargazer ponders the working conditions of a manicurist.

Some really interesting links at The Lady Garden.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Blog note

I'm working on putting together the DUFC this weekend, so keep watching this space. I've got a pretty busy week ahead of me (work commitments), so hopefully I'll get it done soonish.

Friday, January 27, 2012

On talking feminism

I love having everyone engaged in conversations. However, when discussing feminism, I often end up having the same conversation, again and again.

It could be with a man or a woman, who is often intelligent and educated and interested with the world around them. It's rather tedious to go through the basics of why women deserve equality, why women are equally intelligent to men, how consent is a good thing etc etc over and over.

The conversation usually gets heated, because someone is being asked to look at things with a different perspective than the one the dominant culture prescribes. Then since I don't always know the answers and I'm not exactly the most eloquent person around, I end up spending a lot of energy explaining what I mean and why what the other person said wasn't helpful/wasn't new/was completely wrong, and finding resources to back me up.

This conversation, quite honestly, is nearly always exhausting for me. Me being me, I have a tendency to avoid it for as long as possible, whether or not that is really to my benefit.

Sometimes though, I like to poke the status quo, and see if I can disturb it a little. Say, by posting a link I find useful to <insert social media site here>. Usually, because the filtering I have on who gets to see my stuff on social media, this begets some good and educational conversation. Unfortunately, there's almost always one who misses the point/feels like being a smartass.

Now, that would be OK if they weren't obnoxious about it and listened to what I'm saying to them. Usually, though, they get defensive, and escalate the discussion by objecting to my arguments on the point I disagree with them for, especially by taking the arguments very personally, becoming defensive and presenting absurd hyperboles which are not at all what I'm trying to say (for example, "please don't do that [say the tone of X feminist article was too angry]" has been interpreted as "you should never talk about any of sexism, racism, homophobia etc because I'm a straight, white man")

As an FYI, if I ask you to stop doing something in a particular conversation. STOP. Think about it for a while. If you're still confused, and you are close enough to me to be able to talk to me in private or private message me, do so. Every message or unquestioning spouting of mainstream opinion which continues the conversation in my space after I've asked you to stop just makes me think you're a bigger douchebag than before.

Well. At least conversations like these places an extra filter on who I should include in my life/on my social media when that happens. Let it be known that I'm judging all of you by your response to stuff ups.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Tone arguments

I've been considering whether or not I should post this, because the person it concerns knows of this existence of this blog, but what the hell. The person this post concerns has probably already written me off as some kind of crazy bitch who is dismissing him because he's a man, rather than disagreeing with him over the relevance of a particular type of argument in a discussion. And for the record, I absolutely believe that men should be involved in discussions of feminism. They just need to actually listen to what women are saying before they speak. Yeesh.


[This post contains sarcasm]

I was having a bit of a discussion about this post with some people on Facebook, until one guy I know decided to tell us all about how he thought the way the post was written was wrong. In his opinion, this post was written in a way which will "make guys become angry and spiteful". Apparently "it's such a shame she "just" wrote a rant post when she has "such a large" audience".

Oh my, haven't we heard that one before. Time to invoke the spoiling the afternoon part of the Terrible Bargain, and see what happens?

I gave him the 2-second 101 "it's not about you or "the guys", and she can write however she damn well pleases because there will always be somebody who gets pissed off. I ask him to please not derail my discussion.

Too late. Totally unpredictably, he gets defensive and escalates his derail.

Apparently, he's "simply" discussing how the blog "could have been better", and I'm derailing "his" discussion by saying "please don't do that".  Apparently there's no "big picture" where he's trying to derail "the system".

What is this I don't even ...?

Better for whom? Him? Because well... the author of the post obviously knows who he is and how to write in a way that will make him happy. Oh. Whose wall are we having this discussion on again? There's no big picture where women's opinions are often dismissed because they're too angry, too nice, too emotional, too detached, too simplistic, too complicated... really?

Apparently now I'm dismissing his opinion by telling him to stay on topic or I will remove his comments. Apparently I should let discussions on my facebook wall go on whatever tangent they go, regardless of whether I like where it's going. Yes, his derail is now 100% complete.

Welcome to The Tone Argument 101, posted on my wall with a tag for each of the derailer and his supporters (people who "liked" his posts). Of course, this is the opportune time to make a new tone argument; about how he think's I've been too harsh on him because he's a man (I asked him to check his privilege when talking about women's writing) and wah wah wah, it's all about him and his hurt feelings and how he's a feminist so I should shut up and listen to him.

Yes, that's totally how it works. Oh wait. No it isn't. In the slightest.

I know someone who doesn't know how to stop digging. Because. Because.

He has a problem when people want to end an argument "suddenly". Apparently I shouldn't direct comments on my facebook wall, and let people go off on whatever tangent they like. And wah wah wah, yes, it's still about how I'm derailing him, in a conversation I started on my wall. And about how "I'm right and he's wrong". And asking me if he should "just stop talking about feminism and sexism and homophobia and racism" etc and make all topics taboo". (As if! But you should listen to women, and homosexual people, and people of colour when you do talk about those things!)


Apparently I'm the one being angry and defensive. All for saying "please don't do that".


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

A guy friend of mine recently started calling every female friend of his "sweetheart" and "darling". Gah! Here's my opinion (again!) on people shouldn't do this:

It's overly familiar. This is the sort of language used to talk with a partner. People don't just get to be familiar with another person because of some combination of their genders. People have to earn that privilege. To behave as though someone is close to when they're not is to presume that you already know what they are comfortable with, which is a dangerous assumption to make.

It's patronizing. It's something you might use to talk with a small child. Need I say more?

It suggests entitlement. Entitlement of my affection, or entitlement to receive their affection. Which is hella creepy.


Sunday, January 15, 2012

Forty-fifth Down Under Feminists Carnival

I'm going to be hosting February's edition of the Down Under Feminists Carnival, hooray! Please send submissions via email as the blogcarnival submissions form is still not working. Submissions to wilddamon [at] gmail [dot] com.

Submissions must be of posts of feminist interest by writers from Australia and New Zealand that were published in January. I'll close submissions on February 2nd, so please submit your links by then! Spread the word!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


I think I might suppose to be pleased that a coworker gave me a rose and with a sweet little note. All I'm thinking is "nooooo, not again!".