"I don't think that being a strong person is about ignoring your emotions and fighting your feelings. Putting on a brave face doesn't mean you're a brave person. That's why everybody in my life knows everything that I'm going through. I can't hide anything from them. People need to realise that being open isn't the same as being weak."

- Taylor Swift

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

It Gets Better

Now Playing: Embers by Owl City (it gets better, just don't let the fire die)

So...I know you're supposed to do a video for It Gets Better, but I'm a blogger. And I don't understand technology.

So here goes. My non-video blog.

Just like I've been a feminist since before I even knew what 'feminism' was, I've been a gay rights activist before I could even wrap my head around the concept of homosexuality. It just didn't make any sense how something as inoffensive and beautiful as human sexuality in all its weird and wonderful ways could incite such hate and violence. So I took the It Gets Better pledge. Everyone deserves to be respected for who they are. I pledge to spread this message to my friends, family and neighbours. I'll speak up against hate and intolerance whenever I see it, at school and at work. I'll provide hope for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and other bullied teens by letting them know that it gets better.

I know that I am a cisgender heterosexual female and you probably think that I don't understand gay hate. Maybe I don't fully, but I do, some. I have been bullied about my sexuality before - not in my sexual orientation, but in how I choose to express myself as a sexual being. I have been called a slut, a whore, a man stealer, a tease, just for being who I am. I have been made to feel ashamed of my sexuality and how I feel about other people. I have been made to feel like there's something wrong with being me, with having hormones and nerve endings and normal, natural, human desires. I cannot even have a male best friend without people jumping to conclusions and harassing us mercilessly. I failed to conform to the hypocritical and suffocating standards of a sex negative society and I was punished for it. In that, I think, I can relate.

I have been bullied my whole life, for a variety of things. For being smart, for being fat, for being ugly, for being loud and bold, for being Asian, for not 'acting Asian', for wanting what people thought I didn't deserve, for not being what they thought I should be. Not a day goes by without a sexist remark or a racist taunt. When I was little the other kids at school would hold me down and stick pins in my arms - triggering my severe needle phobia - because they thought it was funny. When I was eleven the whole grade thought it was hilarious to tell everyone that I had lost my virginity to a tampon. I still cry about it sometimes, all the bullying. I have been put down by boys I liked and abused by people I thought were my friends.

I have tried to take my own life before because of it. I just wanted it all to end, I just wanted people to stop taking so much delight out of my misery, I just wanted people to understand me, to accept who I am and to give me the respect I deserve. I might not be gay, but I know what it's like to be pushed to the edge, to be made to feel so terrible and ashamed that you just wanted to do the world a favour by not wasting space. I didn't know that things would get better - I wish someone had told me. But every time, just before it was too late, I remember the beautiful things in life, the times when I'm not hurt or humiliated. I realized that it gets better, but only if I'm here to see it.

I guess I got a tiny, tiny taste of the extreme bullying that LGBT youth go through when I posted on my Facebook wall a few months ago something disparaging about the Australian Parliament's rejection of a bill of marriage equality. I go to an academically elite school that I thought to be relatively progressive and supportive of gay rights, but apparently I was wrong. The amount of abuse that simple comment sparked was bewildering. I was called all sorts of things, demonized for being a feminist, and constantly accused of being gay. I put up a fight, but I felt like shit. It felt like three hundred against one, and it's hard to feel like you're on the right side of the debate when you're losing so spectacularly. The amount of abuse I got because I was suspected of being gay, and because I had openly admitted to supporting gay rights, was staggering. And it didn't reaffirm my beliefs, at all. I just wanted to give up. I didn't realize what a monster I had unleashed. I thought things were relatively okay now, I thought people were less intolerant and more forgiving. I was wrong.

But there is a silver lining to every cloud. A day or so after that awful debate - which, if you're my Facebook friend, is still on my wall - a classmate sent me a private message thanking me for standing up for gay marriage and saying that it was inspirational that there were people like me who were brave enough to take a stand against bullying. And then an alumni of the school also sent me a heartwarming message. Their messages were balm on fresh wounds. They gave me strength, and faith that I was doing something right, that I was standing up for something good.

A few days after that, they came out on Facebook, announcing that they'd been in a gay relationship for months. It was beautiful.

This year I have battled to be fearless, and if you are a bullied teen - regardless of your sexual orientation - I urge you to do the same. It's scary. People will tear you down and try to hurt you. But there's nothing like being yourself. No matter what society or the law says, everyone has the right to be themselves, and live the dream, people. Be yourself, and be proud of who you are - as Katy Perry said 'you don't have to feel like a waste of space, you're original, cannot be replaced'. Don't become a carbon copy of every loser out there - celebrate what makes you different, what makes you special, what makes you, you. Humanity is beautiful, and sexuality is breathtaking. Don't let anyone else define you or pull you down. Because even when everyone seems out to get you and the world seems against you, even when it feels like it's easier just to end it all, it gets better. The bullying will stop, and hate will give in to reason. It might not be tomorrow, or next week, or this decade, or even in our lifetimes, but it will happen, it is inevitable, it gets better. You will find people who love you for who you are and you'll learn to drown out the haters and you'll find the strength to fight back against the abuse. It might not get better overnight, but I promise you, life is beautiful and you should be here, living it. Being afraid of the dark is nothing to be ashamed of, but never lose sight of the light at the end of the tunnel. It's always there, you just have to look close enough.

I've found - from being an atheist, an Asian, a feminist, a woman, a gay rights activist (basically the antithesis to the white heterosexual chauvinistic Christian male ideal) - that the scariest critics are those who dare to use religion as justification for hate and intolerance. As Lady Gaga said, 'I'm beautiful in my way, because God makes no mistakes' - Christians who hate on LGBT are mocking their God, because tearing down God's creations is tearing down God himself. Christianity has been interpreted to become such a sex negative religion that you can basically discount anything sex-related in the Bible, but even if you don't, nowhere in the Bible does it say 'God hates fags' or that LGBT people are exempt from God's commandments to 'love thy neighbour'. Don't take my word for it, that is exactly what one of my Christian, pro marriage equality friends has said to me. The Bible doesn't say that marriage is between 'a man and a woman' - what it does say is that marriage can be between a man and multiple women, a man, a wife and a concubine, and a rapist and his victim. You simply can't go around Bible bashing anymore, especially if you're not even citing the book correctly. People try and say that the mere existence of - perfectly normal, natural - people of alternate sexual orientations is a violation of religious freedom, but let me tell you this: their hate and intolerance is infringing on your religious freedom to not give a damn, and on your human right to live without fear of suppression. There is no religion that explicitly condemns consensual homosexual behaviour, and there is no religious person that has the right to use religion against you. Because these people aren't religious, and they aren't esteeming their God - they're being assholes, who use religion to cover up their fear and intolerance and unjustifiable hate. These people are hating on innocents and pushing them over the edge and don't even have the guts to think of a logical argument to back them up. You don't have to let them get you down. I don't. There are people out there that are better than these jerks. It's not that you're not worthy of them, they're not worthy of you. People get better than this. It gets better.   

Not fitting in to stereotypes and being stigmatized for it has taught me that everything exists on a spectrum and we should love everyone for finding their own place on the millions of continuums of the human experience. I have never seen sexuality as something that should be judged or demonized or used against people to discriminate and humiliate them. Love...love is difficult to describe. It's beautiful and dangerous and irrational and treacherous but it has absolutely nothing to do with genitals matching up like some bizarre jigsaw puzzle. Having a dick is not a prerequisite for loving women. I'd be a hypocrite if I discriminated against people who love men, because I love men too, and that has nothing to do with what my body looks like. Body parts don't make love valid or invalid, moral or immoral, good or bad - body parts don't make you any more or less of a person, or any more or less deserving of respect. You have the right to chase your dreams and chase the person of your dreams just like the rest of us. I have nothing but the highest respect for humanity in all its different shades of beautiful. And that means you, too. I love you to the moon and back, and hundreds of other people do, too. You are lovely and worthy of love, no matter what anyone tries to tell you.

It's a tough world out there. Everyone has something 'wrong' with them, something that has to be 'fixed' - or, at least, fixated upon to cause pain and suffering and humiliation. But it gets better. If you ever feel alone, or like you've had enough, know that there are people like me out there who are willing to - and have - put up with a lot of crap to stand up for you, because you are worthy of our love and we love you. If you ever feel like you need someone to talk to who doesn't want to lynch you or tell you you're a freak, talk to me. My heart is open to you. Contact me whenever you want, tell me whatever you want, and I will be there for you. I wish someone had said that to me, when I was down in the dumps, so I'm saying it to you now. I and thousands of others are here for you and you are not alone. We love and accept you for who you are and you don't have to change a thing. I just want to say that it gets better, and you've got to believe that. Anyone who's ever been knocked down, shoved around, pushed to the edge...it gets better. Please trust me on this.

I love you to the moon and back, whoever you are, whoever you love. Stay beautiful.

we all need role models.

Now Playing: State of Grace by Taylor Swift (love is a ruthless game unless you play it good and right)

It may have occurred to you, at some point, that I am a huge Taylor Swift fan.

I was first introduced to Taylor Swift in year eight, when someone sent me a low-quality version of Love Story. I didn't like it - mostly because it was low quality - but something about it stuck. I now have 3 albums and 102 songs on my iPod.

There are many reasons why I like Taylor Swift. Firstly I think she's talented and pretty and I admire her success. Secondly she does actually make some pretty good music, all you alternative hippies who  diss her because more than one person knows about her and I don't have to track down her albums on Etsy or in seedy alleyways in the red light district. But mostly it felt like someone understood all the million emotions that were racing through my head. For the first time I could read through the CD liners and see all my emotions, all my feelings, laid bare and clean and simple and pretty, not just a bunch of cliches. Taylor Swift was writing my life.

I'm the kind of person who listens to music in the bath, as I'm falling asleep, on the train, hiding earphones under my hair in particularly boring assemblies...and I remember everything. I remember when my year eight crush went out with someone else. Teardrops on my Guitar. I remember when he asked me out and I spent all weekend bouncing around singing Our Song thinking Everything Has Changed. I remember when I first got dumped and I couldn't believe anyone could be as Cold As You, you Should've Said No, and You're Not Sorry, and that was The Moment I Knew that you're just another Picture to Burn. I remember seeing all those Untouchable boys fall for the same girls and making the same mistakes and thinking that You Belong With Me. Every time someone tried to knock me down I picked myself up and reminded myself that things will Change. For all the times I kept myself Tied Together With a Smile when no-one understood. Knowing that I can't Breathe without you, but I have to. Even after all these years of being bullied I still remember to smile at those I love, and to remind them to Stay Beautiful. Taylor Swift was there when I was angry that someone would break A Perfectly Good Heart when you promised me Forever & Always. I drew I Heart Question Mark on the back of my hand every time the rumours got too much and everyone was being Mean. I remember cuddling my five year old niece and wishing beyond anything that she'd Never Grow Up. I have to keep telling myself that there's nothing wrong with trying to find A Place in This World, and that one day I will write The Story of Us. I had the comfort of knowing that it's okay to Jump Then Fall into Treacherous love when Sparks Fly, that you're not crazy when loving him was Red even though I Knew You Were Trouble, but the big thing to do after a Sad Beautiful Tragic love affair is to say We Are Never Getting Back Together, and then Begin Again. Because real love glows like Starlight and is a State of Grace, and I shouldn't always feel like I'm on The Outside wishing that you'd Come Back, Be Here. I Almost Do want to go Back to December and say that this love is Ours, it's too late for you and your White Horse to catch me now. This is The Last Time because you've got a Girl at Home and everybody knows that, but I'll always remember standing on Holy Ground with you. And one day I'll be able to say to someone who doesn't make me feel Invisible that when I was Fifteen I swore I was going to marry him someday, but I was Enchanted to meet you and this Love Story is the best thing that's ever been Mine and now I'm The Lucky One. But for now, graduation has made me hope that Long Live all the magic we made. Most of all, Taylor Swift inspired me to be Fearless.

In my school, it's not such a good idea to be a Taylor Swift fan. But I don't care. when I'm on the bus and I put my big clunky headphones on and hit my favourites playlist in a bad way, I'm happy.

We all need role models. Taylor Swift is my role model because she's a writer and she's made it big. Taylor Swift is my role model because she taught me you don't have to be pretty to be fearless, and even pretty girls get knocked down sometimes. Someone had the nerve to break her heart and someone had the nerve to break mine, but that doesn't mean it was okay and that doesn't mean we're both not amazing in our own way.

Last year a fourteen year old 'little monster' (Lady Gaga fan) took his own life because he was an out bisexual, liked Lady Gaga and 'feminine' things, advocated gay pride and was bullied for it. After his death the bullying continued. It breaks my heart that people drive other people to extremes through ignorance and violence. But the last thing Jamey Rodemeyer did was to tweet Lady Gaga, the 'mother monster', thanking her for being his role model and giving him strength. As much as I dislike celebrity culture, individual celebrities have the power to do great things, and to inspire people. Taylor Swift is my Lady Gaga, and we all need role models.

for those of you who know what i'm talking about.

Now Playing: Treacherous by Taylor Swift (and I'd be smart to walk away but you're quicksand) 

So I'll let you in on a little secret.

Sometimes it's hard not to feel a little used.

But not in the way that people keep insisting. I'm sick of people trying to force emotions on me when I have more than enough to deal with. I don't know what it's going to take to convince people that I haven't done anything that I regret. If I had a second chance I'd do it all again.

I am not someone comfortable with lies. I don't like liars and I don't like being complicit in someone else's incorrect versions of the truth. It's why I don't like secrets and can't keep them. I can be manipulative but I can't be dishonest. I don't like knowing that people haven't been told things they should know about.

I don't like having to be the nice girl. I don't like having to grit my teeth and smile at people I hate. I don't like having to pretend that I'm okay. I don't like having to apologise when it's them that should be saying sorry. And I don't like losing.

And I'm tired of feeling everything. It's exhausting. I wish I could never feel anything ever again, because all I feel is pain. Living for the sensory moments and rejecting anaesthetic...it means you can feel pain - bewildering, mind-blowing, heartbreaking, soul-destroying pain. Pain that has no beginning or end. Deserved, undeserved, brought upon or forced upon you. And then you get to the point when you're beyond angry, beyond furious, beyond sad. You're just bored.

Relationships to me play out like one long sinister deja vu. It's always the same. People come, people go, people take a piece of me with them. They all blur into one beautiful face and one sad story. There is so much I can do alone. Everything I have ever done I have done alone. I know how I far I can go by myself. But that doesn't stop me from feeling lonely.

I hate people who never see it in themselves to change, people who lack the humility to see that what they are as they are hurts people.  

So yeah. That's what going through my head when I'm feeling down. Not the kind of shame and self-hate people think I might deserve. But I don't know if I've got it any better than that.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Music Monday: Begin Again

I've been spending the last eight months thinking all love ever does is break and burn and end, but on a Wednesday in a cafe I watched it begin again...


1 day before it's due: Please, please, please don't come. I already have to deal with killer heels and tiaras and Gangnam Style.

Due date: Yay! Thank you thank you thank you!

1 day late: Dear PMS. You just made me treat a person who normally gets away with murder like he had actually murdered someone. And was not getting away with it. Thanks.

2 days late: Damn hormones

3 days late: GODDAMN hormones

4 days late: Maybe it's a good thing. It's a good thing. Convince yourself it's a good thing.

5 days late: It's just exam stress

6 days late: It's just period stress. Making my period late. Because that's legit.

7 days late: please please please don't come I forgot to put lady things in my purse...

8 days late: Well this is odd.

9 days late: I am so glad I'm a virgin or I would actually be worried that I'm pregnant.

10 days late: I'm pregnant.

11 days late: (this is when all scientific knowledge/sanity goes out the window) I know I shouldn't have looked at that cute guy...

12 days late: Although on the upside, I could buy those cute little booties I saw in Target

13 days late: I'M THE VIRGIN MARY!!!!

Day it actually comes:...well that was anticlimatic.

how I learned to be myself

Now Playing: Change (and you can walk away, say we don't need this but there's something in your eyes says 'we can beat this')

I didn't used to be as gung-ho as I am now. There have been countless blog posts - brilliant, funny, sarcastic, insightful blog posts - that I have deleted because it had a 'bad word' in it. There have been countless times that I have bitten my tongue and held my peace in conversations about things that really mattered to me, that were really important to me. There have been countless times when I have copied people and mimicked people and taken everything they said to heart, let everything dictate and crush me, because I was too afraid to be myself. I remember swearing that if I ever managed to get a boyfriend, or a friend who hung around longer than three milliseconds, I would be the most forgiving, compassionate person since Mother Theresa. I wanted to be for someone, for anyone, the kind of person I simply couldn't find. Anywhere.

I now know that people are not so inclined to opening up to all their inner kinks and secret fears when you're hellbent on becoming a carbon copy of the many people who tear them down on a regular basis. You don't win any allies by pretending to be the enemy.

I was too focused on what I thought other people wanted from me - not only was I wrong, but it was an utter waste of time. I realized - finally - that even if I did manage to act and dress and be a certain way that appealed to people, if they didn't appeal to me - or did appeal to me and then started putting me off once the sugar coating started to melt away - then nothing would ever work out. I have been so unbelievably forgiving to people being rather rude about what they didn't like about me that I forgot to recognise all the things I hate in other people. Not only could I not change who I was - I shouldn't. At all. I forgot that I was beautiful in my own way and that they could all go fuck themselves.

Actually, it wasn't so much that I'd forgotten, I was just too afraid to do that. I hate being alone - and I've been alone, a lot. I couldn't push people away because I needed them too much - and people can sense that, and take advantage of it. But I've never been very good at break ups - at all. I miss people too much. At any rate, I didn't even know breaking up with crushes or friends was 'a thing'. I wish I could have told fourteen year old me that yes, it is a thing - possibly even more important than breaking up with a boyfriend. Actually, if my girlfriends are anyone to go by... I still haven't really mastered that. My idea of 'breaking up' isn't so much 'breaking up' as 'throwing a tantrum that solves absolutely nothing in particular'.

So when all the boys were telling me that they'd never date an Asian, or a fat girl, or a feminist, or a nerd, or a bookworm, or a girl that they didn't have 200% certainty didn't have any sexuality/sexual curiosity/interest in sex and definitely under no circumstances didn't and would never masturbate or have sex or watch porn, I forgot that I would never date someone who would think that being an Asian or a feminist was a bad thing, that I would never date someone who called me fat and ugly, I would never date someone who didn't see my intellectualism as an exciting opportunity to have some intelligent conversation, for once, and I would never be happy with anyone who treated me as a sex object instead of a sexual being. I forgot that I didn't particularly like boys who smelled or picked their nose or swore incessantly or constantly made ignorant/dim/sexist/racist/homophobic remarks. I forgot that I had standards, too. I hate it when people are shocked to find out that I've turned down some guy, because they either think I don't have standards or I'm not worthy of being picky. I forgot that these people who made me feel cheap and unworthy and utterly worthless had their own turn offs - but at least mine were either changeable or not worth changing.

It is hard to explain how being a late bloomer has affected me. Because the truth is, being a 'late bloomer' is not something innate, but something forced upon you - and in my case, it was forced upon an 'early bloomer'. Puberty kicked in pretty early, as did all the weird and wonderful things that also kick in during puberty. The anticipation and curiosity was killing me but, for one reason or another, I was always passed over. And, being a proud sort of person who generally gets her way when she puts her mind to something, that pissed me off to no end, having no way to explore and express myself. And so I became, as they put it, 'clingy'. In a boy they would call it 'normal', but c'est la vie. But it was a vicious fucking cycle. This combined with non-stop bullying, deeply embedded insecurities and not having anything to prove me or any of the bullies wrong...it fucked me up, big time.

It's all very well to do this whole personal growth business. I was the one who started fearless. I was the one who said 'fuck it, I'll do what I want'. I was the one who, when presented with a new friendship, instead of pretending to be what I thought he might like me to be I was myself - not because I thought he would like it or that it would lead to a strong friendship (it did and I was gobsmacked), but because I was so tired, so tired of being a phony. I was the one who wrote posts about sex and sexuality and porn and abortion and gay marriage and I was the one who hit 'send'. I was the one who stood up for my gay friends on Facebook. Being fearless, being myself, that was all me.

And it wasn't so brilliant, to be honest. I slipped up a lot of times, and hid in the comforting default of being one-dimensional. I lost basically all my friends, most of which can't actually give me a better reason than 'you're loud and opinionated and smart' (which, last time I checked, wasn't a bad thing, only an intimidating one. Wimps.) I preferred 'we just don't like you and we never did'. At least that was honest.

But I did make a few amazing friends. I made friends who were crazy - crazy to the point of...probably need professional help. The kind of people who had that kind of fearlessness that I wanted so badly. The kind of people who could say anything about themselves so casually that I didn't even have a chance to be disgusted or offended. The kind of people who didn't object to my being so grotesquely human. To be honest, I've known my best friend for a long time and for a long time I was actually too petrified to even look him in the eye - because that's what you do when you're thirteen and you have a crush on someone (because that's totally how to reel them in ladies...it didn't work.) But a combination of being fearless and being beyond stupidly persistent, we get along better than I've ever gotten along with anyone else. I guess what I'm trying to say is that if people love you, they love you for you. If they don't, fuck 'em. So yes, I became fearless by myself. But to say 'fuck you', that was something I had to learn.

I credit my best friend a lot for making me fearless, and some people have given me some shit for that. They say you have to be independent and all that shit. Well, yes, you do. But you don't steal a person's crutches and tell him to walk on his broken leg. And once his leg has healed you don't tell him that he has to be alone for the rest of his life otherwise he's a pussy. I was a broken person, and I was a lonely person. Whether you like it or not...you need people to cure both.

I also had to learn that even though people thought I was proud and arrogant, it killed people that I was so unsure and insecure and hung up and shy. It killed the people I loved that I cried myself to sleep every night. I had to learn that the people who thought I was proud and arrogant were the ones who were making me dangerously depressed, and that these people thought I was proud and arrogant because they were weak and intimidated. I learned that there was no way that I was genuinely proud and arrogant when every day I looked at myself in the mirror and hated what I saw, and for every insensitive victory dance at a good mark on an essay there were countless other times that I cried over all my other failings and shortcomings. I learned that I was only coming off as proud and insecure because that's what they had reduced me to - a weakling hiding behind armour. I learned that it wasn't arrogant to be proud of myself, to be proud of what I can do. And It's not arrogant to think that I am above and beyond some asshole who treats me like dirt.

Do you know what else I had to learn? Well, re-learn - do it again and do it properly, Jenkins. I don't know whether it's a consequence of living most of my life in very very small communities - my primary school only had about 500 students and Perth Mod only has about 1000 - but I always had this idea that if people didn't like you at school or if you didn't get a high school boyfriend you were doomed. Because, ya know, high school is such a realistic representation of the big bad world. I was convinced that, because 1,500 thought I was a fat ugly nerd that I was a fat ugly nerd. 1,500 might seem like a lot. It did seem like a lot to me, when I was fifteen and stupid. But applying for unis and meeting new people (actually, that has reminded me how small Perth was. I befriended a boy out of school thinking 'hey cool, I'm getting better at this being friends with total strangers thing and then finding out that he's actually going out with one of my friends. but moving on) has made me realize how BIG THIS EFFING WORLD IS. AND THERE IS NO POINT IN BEING INSECURE. BECAUSE EVEN THOUGH I FOUND MY BEST FRIEND AMONGST THESE ONE THOUSAND FIVE HUNDRED PEOPLE I HAVE SEVEN MILLION PEOPLE TO GET THROUGH BEFORE I COULD ACTUALLY SAY THAT I WILL NEVER FIND MY SOULMATE.


Sunday, October 28, 2012

the reality of abortion: part II

Now Playing: Stay Stay Stay by Taylor Swift (this morning I said we should talk about it because I read you should never leave a fight unresolved, that's when you came in wearing a football helmet and said 'okay, let's talk')

I've said before that I've had problems with empathy in that when I was younger I was quite...intolerant. When people tell me their problems I can't always come up with an appropriate emotional response - it's not that I don't care, I just don't know how to care. And I've found it difficult to put myself into other people's shoes, especially the perceived 'hegemons' of society. It is much more difficult for me to empathize with someone white, heterosexual, male and Christian because they seem to have it all. My empathy is...flawed, I suppose.

But my empathy - or at least, my attempts at compassion - is borne out of sometimes getting the worst end of the stick. I know what it is like to not have choice, and I also know the absolute necessity to have the total freedom to make whatever choices you want.

I am lucky to grow up in a place relatively free and liberal. Here, I have formed my own opinions and attitudes and made my own choices. Some of them were arguably questionable and some were intensely regrettable - but the need for freedom was undeniable. I've made my own mistakes in my time and suffered the consequences of them, but the biggest mistakes and the greatest consequences I've had to face were decisions made for me. If I've learned anything it's that I may not always be right, but nobody else has that guarantee, either.

Growing up I felt like things were happening and I had no say in the matter. I grew up thinking I would end up at the local government school, which looked to me to be the most depressing place in existence - the only exciting thing was the big bridge over the highway, but knowing me and my mental issues that might have presented a health hazard. When I was eight my sister caught me wearing what I thought to be a relatively innocent T-shirt and berated my mother for not buying me bras and immediately afterwards I was presented with the ugliest, sweatiest, most uncomfortable crop tops in the history of the world and told to wear them, no exceptions. I cried when I pulled down my pants when I was eleven and saw the dreaded red stain. I felt used. I wasn't ready for any of this. I wasn't ready to deal with changes and sex and all that adult crap. I wasn't ready for the inevitable period bullying. I wasn't ready for the responsibility - I was the kid who could barely remember to bring my pencil case to school and I didn't want to worry about the constant headache of pads. I felt like I was being punished for being a woman, just like every racist taunt made me feel like I was being punished for being Asian and every sport carnival made me feel like I was being punished for having a heart condition. In primary school there were no school shorts for girls - there were pants, but in summer there was only skirts or dresses, and once a boy lifted up my skirt and put his head right under. I wore pants for months in the blistering 40 degree heat and cursed any God that might have ever existed for making me a girl, and therefore a half-human with no choice and no say in anything.

And so, I have learned to empathise. I have learned to be sympathetic and to stand up for people, because nobody showed me any sympathy and nobody ever stood up for me. I remember all the times I was trampled on and forced to do things I didn't want to do and stopped from making choices every time I defend someone gay, someone who wants an abortion, someone who wants to get married but can't, someone who was raped and is legally barred from dealing with the consequences how she wants to. I started to think 'okay, I'm not gay, and I'm not pregnant, but what if I was? Don't I deserve choice?'. I learned that no matter how strong my opinions were and how right I thought I was, I couldn't impose this on other people to deny them choice, and I couldn't endorse any laws that took choices and rights away from people. And to replace my previous lack of empathy was a deep compassion for anyone who didn't have the same rights and freedom of choice that I did.

Girls are constantly robbed of choice - by biology, by society, by law. The Republican Party is often accused of a 'war on women' and it's true - they claim that they're 'saving lives' and 'protecting families', but really all they're doing is suppressing female sexuality and female rights. Men have no idea what they're talking about, when it comes to female sexuality and the female biological function - and yet they think that they have the right to tell us what we can and can't do. 77% of anti-abortion activists are male. 100% of them won't get pregnant. And 100% of them don't show any empathy whatsoever.

We live in a society where we almost don't want women to exist at all. If we don't sleep around we're prudes, if we do we're sluts. You're a loser if you're a virgin but a whore if you're not. If you don't sleep with your boyfriend you're a tease, if you use the pill you're immoral, if you get pregnant you're an idiot and if you get an abortion you're a murderer. We live in a society where we punish people who do and don't have sex, pressure people into getting pregnant and then stigmatize them for it. Before I had my first kiss I was profoundly aware that people thought there was something wrong with me, sixteen and untouched, but then once stuff had happened people started whispering behind my back saying that I was reckless and setting myself up for trouble. You just can't win. I feel like society doesn't want women to exist at all - married or single, virgin or promiscuous, pregnant or infertile, mothers or spinsters, feminine or butch...we're all marginalized.

We seem to forget, when we're droning on and on about how a (non-sentient, incapable of independent thought, unable to exist outside the womb, unable to feel pain or emotion, high chance of naturally aborting) foetus has a 'right to life' and that women who abort are 'murderers' the huge responsibility and pain we are imposing upon women by robbing them of choice. No woman I have ever talked to has said that pregnancy is a walk in the park. Pregnancy and childbirth, even in this day and age, is exhausting, painful, and dangerous. It involves time and effort and money and endurance. It involves being stabbed with needles and uncomfortable vaginal examinations and people poking and prodding. It involves the very real risk of dying or sustaining major injury. Pregnancy and childbirth can be emotionally traumatic when there is a miscarriage, a stillbirth, or a severe congenital  defect. And child-rearing is a lifelong commitment that not everyone wants to make and nobody should be forced into. Women put themselves through all this pain and risk when they are ready, when they are educated, when they are supported physically and emotionally and financially, and when they want to. When we're harping on about abortion being 'the easy way out' - and it's not, it's still a medical procedure with potential dangers - we don't think about the alternative. Pregnancy and childbirth and child-rearing  is no longer a part of every woman's life. It is a choice, and rightly so. Because not every woman is willing or prepared for it, and we should respect that. And no man that I know of would go through all of that for a child that he did want, much less a child that they didn't want or, worse still, forced upon them in a criminal act of sexual violence. Every action has a consequence, fine, I'm not denying that, but what pro-life activists are denying is the right to choose how to deal with the consequences. Pro-life activists are using pregnancy and childbirth and child-rearing to punish women for having sex. Pro-life activists are stigmatizing, criminalizing and demonizing abortion to punish women for being...women.  

Sunday Wordle: Sex

Saturday, October 27, 2012

A Thousand Thousand Fearless Things #86

Now Playing: State of Grace by Taylor Swift (because you were never a saint and I loved in shades of wrong, we learned to live with the pain of mosaic broken hearts)

#814: Graduation!

#815: Hot party dress ;) 

#816: Thigh highs and killer heels

#817: The Class of 2012

#818: Ice cream for dinner

#819: I've spent fifteen years boycotting eggplant and now I can't seem to get enough of it...

#820: Red! Thank you Bonnie!

#821: You know you're a muso when you start liking a pitch altered song better than the original...

#822: 102 Taylor Swift songs

#823: I give in. I have Gangnam Style on my iPod. And Mitt Romney Style for good measure

#824: The night of nights

#825: Claustrophobia and crashes

#826: Spaghetti, cheddar and chilli sandwiches. Heaven.

#827: Cinderella bedspread

#828: I fell asleep dreaming of tiaras and fairy wings 

#829: Leavers shirt. Graffiti has never been so beautiful

#830: Sitting in a beautiful park in the middle of the city with the girls trying to look glamorous eating KFC and girl talking. I'll never forget. We do parks, ladies.

#831: Converting someone to the awesomeness that is Garfunkel and Oates

#832: Reading through an 80% paper and wondering how the hell it got 80% I would have given it 3%. 

#833: Victory

#834: #nosympathywhatsoeverforyearelevenproblems

#835: I have lots of Wordless Wednesdays scheduled. Like, seriously, until March. I crazy.

#836: Two As, four Bs. You can't argue with that.

#837: Red sparkly nail polish

#838: I went all crunchy and had a eucalyptus bath, used natural castile soap and rinsed my hair with rosemary infused vinegar. I am hardcore.

#839: Giving myself RSI organizing my iTunes library

#840: 오빠 and Belephant. Muchos love. 

#841: Good luck, everybody. YOWO. 

#842: Tried an insomnia cure - hot milk with honey and a dash of salt. It was disgusting. Slept like a baby, though

the silence of numbers

My imagination runs riot
As I stare at the grim page 
Twisted and defeated
By bureaucrats and fate

I'm tired of writing words in blood
And songs with no sound
I try to make you listen
But I'm too quiet, too loud

I'm not fighting the system
I'm crying at a broken promise
You're so casually cruel
In the name of being honest 

Numbers have no feeling
And can't paint my memories
But my cheeks flush red
At my hollow victories

I'm just an ink-splattered poet
And a tear stained girl
But I'm the unwilling martyr
Of a calculative world

I'm running in circles
I've been here before
They gave me a massacre
Instead of a war.

Click here for a discussion of the silence of numbers

Friday, October 26, 2012

just a quick little anology

Now Playing: All Too Well by Taylor Swift (you called me up again just to break me like a promise, so casually cruel in the name of being honest)

I will be blogging less now that WACE is looming - there will still be Music Monday/Wordless Wednesday/Video Friday/Sunday Wordles because they are quick and I can schedule them, but fewer polemics and rants. I will be back to renegade warp speed next year and I thank you all for your support.

I just wanted to give you a little food for thought because I am so sick of people saying that prostitutes 'deserve to be raped' or that paying a prostitute for sex also implies paying for consent, or all sorts of shit that connects rape and prostitution and money with 'okay'.

Think of a broker. A broker might love his job, he might hate it, he might be okay with it. A broker has to play with money to make ends meet, to pay the bills, to fund his lifestyle. A broker might be prosperous or he might plunge into poverty. A broker's job is all about money and people, but he can also use money outside of his job and he can also have non-professional relationships with others where no money is involved. A broker might donate money to charity and enjoy spending. A broker might enjoy money and might spend it or give it away with no strings attached. A broker might make his own stupid personal financial decisions outside of his job, and he might see money not only as part of his job but as a part of his leisure, too.

If a broker is robbed, it's a robbery. If a broker is assaulted, it's assault. If a broker is raped, it's rape.

Replace the word 'broker' with 'prostitute' and the word 'money' for 'sex'. Think of a prostitute. A prostitute might love her job, she might hate it, she might be okay with it. A prostitute has to play with sex to make ends meet, to pay the bills, to fund her lifestyle. A prostitute might be prosperous or she might plunge into poverty. A prostitute's job is all about sex and people, but she can also have sex outside of her job and she can also have non-professional relationships with others where no sex is involved. A prostitute might have sex 'for free' and enjoy sex. A prostitute might make her own stupid sexual decisions outside of her job, and she might see sex not only as part of her job but as part of her leisure, too.

If a prostitute is robbed, it's robbery. If a prostitute is assaulted, it's assault. If a prostitute is raped, it's rape.

(I'm using gender stereotypes, by the way. Of course there are female brokers and male prostitutes)

I do not understand how someone's personal choices and professional occupation negates the severity of crimes against them. Rape is rape whether the victim is male, female, cisgender, transgender, gay, straight, black, white, virgin, promiscuous - none of these things detract from the fact that rape is a violent act of non-consensual sexual aggression and that rape is a crime. And rape has never been excused if the rapist threw some money at the victim afterwards, so how is rape justified if someone throws money at a prostitute he just raped? Mugging someone and taking all their money is a crime regardless whether someone is dirt poor or filthy rich, and regardless of whether their job is about money or not. Same with rape and sex. A prostitute is paid for sex - she is not paid for consent and she is not paid to waive her rights as a human being. She is not paid to turn a blind eye to crime. Saying it's okay to rape someone because they have sex for a living or because they like it or because they have had sex 'for free' is saying it's okay to rob someone because they play with money for a living or because they like spending money or if they've given money to charity.

We've got to stop thinking of sex as something immoral and people who use sex for enjoyment or money are excluded from the protections of law and civic outrage at criminal offences. If you ask me, money is infinitely more corrupting than sex. I am so sick of ignorant, flippant, cheap humour that only thinly veils deeply misogynistic and sex negative thinking. People are people, and crimes are crimes.

Video Friday: Twilight

I used to be a Twilight fan.

Don't judge me. I was twelve and silly.

Four years, countless heartbreaks and a lot of growing up later, I don't like Twilight.

And this is kind of why:

Reasons I liked Twilight:

1. Escapism

I read Twilight at about eleven or twelve, and it was the first real romance book I'd read - there were bits and pieces of it in Harry Potter and such, but I hadn't read anything that was so explicitly romantic or sexual. Before I stumbled onto people like Laci Green to give me a healthier perspective of sex and relationships...novels and Dolly Doctor was all I really had to go on. Twilight was our Fifty Shades of Grey - if anything is commendable about Twilight is that the characterisation of Bella is flawless as a reader surrogate it didn't take much to think that we were her and live, through her, the thrills of being seduced. It was all very exciting as excitable pre-teens. Twilight presented what we wanted - or at least, what we thought we wanted - but not what we were getting.

2. Because it was cool

It hit like Harry Potter hit - the difference is that Harry Potter, for obvious reasons, has endured, and in my circles nobody can admit to reading Twilight and enjoying it. I was one of the first girls to get into Twilight - mostly because we were so young - but that was it, it caught on like wildfire. If anything, it officially K.O'd any remaining vestigials of 'boy/girl germs' and opened us primary school prudes up to sexuality - even if it was a totally unhealthy depiction of a romantic relationship.

That's...pretty much it.

Reasons why I don't like Twilight:

1. Edward

Edward is presented as one of those boys you don't really see anymore - the kind of boys who walk curbside and open doors for you and stand up when you enter the room. It's the kind of Darcy fantasy trap that girls like me fall into, all the time - Bella Swan is even depicted as a Janeite, which is something a lot of us could relate to. But he's also a creepy, manipulative, abusive stalker, all sugar wrapped in dashing good looks and fast cars - even Bond doesn't pretend he's an angel despite dashing good looks and fast cars. But this is glorified in Twilight, and his creepy, manipulative stalker behaviour is written to invoke thrill and excitement rather than disgust. Edward's dislike of Jacob seems almost to be racially fuelled (white sparkly vampires vs. dark-skinned ethnic werewolves), based on socio-economic status (sportscar-driving, Ivy League educated white patrician vs. blue collar plebs) and his jealousy over Bella and Jacob's relationship is not only unhealthy and largely unjustified, but glorified as proof of his 'undying love'. And I found it weird that Edward spends an entire book and some (Eclipse and New Moon) bullying Bella into marrying him - using sex and immortality as bribery and coercion - without ever giving a reason why. Does he think that he/she/both should be virgins until marriage? Is he so insecure that he needs a diamond ring to make it all official? Is he just a helpless whimsical romantic who actually thinks it's a good idea to get married fresh out of high school? It's never discussed, and is used as barter. It seemed cheap and creepy. Not that getting married 'young' is inherently bad or there is a 'proper age' for tying the knot - but any vows taken, regardless of age, without actual discussion, communication and mutual free informed consent is...dangerous.

2. Bella

Bella is pretty much the antithesis of anything remotely feminist. She constantly gets into trouble, constantly has to get saved, constantly has no opinion - or has her opinion overlooked by the protectiveness/horniness/creepy overprotectiveness of Edward/Jacob/Charlie, thinks that it is her rightful place to manage her father's house, gets bullied into getting married, and submits to Edward's authoritarian controlling psycho creepy stalker tendancies. She's constantly going on about how 'beautiful' and 'perfect' and 'flawless' Edward is, and how inadequate and unworthy she is of him, even though she's the one that stays honest and faithful and he's the one who fucks things up and has an entire book dedicated to how much he hurt her emotionally. When Edward is driven insane by bloodlust/normal lust it's always Bella's fault - 'it's you, your scent', her body, etc etc; and Edward constantly tries to earn brownie points for keeping his fangs to himself and his dick in his pants when really, that kind of self control is expected of everyone. Bella has no career, no means of making her own independent money, and no life outside of Edward and the Cullens. She has to endure months of depression when Edward leaves her but takes him back without a second thought. She lets Edward call the shots when it comes to intimacy, sex, even how they label their relationship. I wanted her to stand up for herself for once, I wanted her to have her way for once, I wanted her to put her foot down properly instead of sulking like a temper-tantrum toddler. I wanted her to embrace her initial characterisation as a down-to-earth, friendly, intelligent woman and recognise herself as Edward's equal and deserving of proper treatment...but all she did was lose her character, her personality, her future prospects and her virginity to him.

I liked Twilight because that's genuinely what I thought relationships were. And although we can use Twilight as a scapegoat the bare bones of it is just a reflection of the society we live in and the twisted messages we manage send to young girls without resorting to supernatural beings - that relationships are about money and good looks, a guy 'really loves you' when he sets all the boundaries, calls all the shots, never asks for and/or totally disregards your opinion and is manipulative and abusive. We send messages to young girls without Bella's insecurities that bleed onto every page that girls are not good enough, never good enough, and that you're lucky to get a guy - even a guy who bullies you into getting married, dreams of killing you, doesn't respect your needs as a person and as a person in a relationship and ends up hurting you physically and emotionally. Twilight tells us that it's okay to callously friendzone your 'best friend' and, worse still, to accept sexual assault from someone you consider a friend. We tell young girls that no matter how much of angsty feminist you are now as a boyfriendless pimply teen, there will one day be a man so special/creepy that he will force you into proscribed gender roles and totally change your views towards children and family and future for no apparent reason other than OMG HE'S UH-MAY-ZING I WONDER IF HIS BABIES ARE SPARKLY TOO. But we can demonize and villanize Twilight all we want - Stephenie Meyer is not (apparently) a raging psychopath, she's a part of our society and is simply reflecting the attitudes deeply ingrained into our society. And so the reason why I don't like Twilight is not because the movie franchise reduced Kristen Stewart's acting abilities to those of a sock puppet or that Robert Pattinson looks permanently constipated or because the book makes no sense and if you strip away all the fluffy language and teenage hormone-driven scenes that lured me in it has no point or purpose or meaning whatsoever. Twilight was not written in a vacuum, and it can't be dismissed as a one off. The reason why I don't like Twilight is that it reflects views - mainstream views - that are harmful, dangerous and backward in our own society.

To the Class of 2012

Now Playing: Change by Taylor Swift (these walls that they put up to hold us back will fall down, it's a revolution, the time has come for us to finally win, and we'll sing hallelujah)

To the Perth Modern School Class of 2012,

What can you say after four years of euphoric highs and crushing lows?

I'll never forget my first year nine English class. There I was, a shy, awkward little twelve year old, sitting quietly in a class half way through Term One, silently wishing I could disappear into the heavy books dumped on my desk even though His Dark Materials was possibly the most boring book trilogy in existence. I remember the curious stares, the confused mutters and bemused whispers, and all the questions. But what I remember the most was the smiles and the kindness. I'll never forget how nice people were to the year eight gatecrasher.

It wasn't always easy, being the year eight in year nine, spending two years in limbo and then struggling to fit in for the last two years. I wish I had been there with you from the beginning. Sometimes it was hard knowing that I didn't really fit in and I didn't really belong. I won't lie - not all of you were nice to me, and high school for me wasn't always sunshine and rainbows. There were lots of misunderstandings and rumours. But I've had the time of my life with you, and I wouldn't have had it any other way. I've made lifelong friends and you have taught me everything I know. High school isn't exactly a walk in the park and I sincerely hope that they weren't 'the best years of my life', but the ups and down of the rollercoaster were never boring. Thank you for making high school amazing. I love you all to the moon and back.

I apologise if I ever came off as insecure or annoying or arrogant. We've all had to battle our own demons, and I had my fair share. I've always been an ambitious, proud sort of person and I'm not going to apologise for that. I never meant to offend or insult or hurt anybody, and I apologise if I ever gave that impression.

Dearest Belephant, I love you muchos. Thank you for being an amazing punkasaur. Thank you for putting up with all my boy troubles and incessant whinging and circular trains of thought. Thank you for putting up with my crude humour and pointless debates. Thank you for all the fun times. Thank you for all the laughter from school to Warwick. You're so pretty and smart and nice and talented and amazing and wonderful and life will be beautiful, I promise, and I'll always be there for you. I love your smile and your eyes and your laugh and your ever changing hair and your demented fingernail. Thank you for keeping my secrets when no-one else seemed capable of keeping their mouth shut. You're the best lit/history buddy anyone could ever ask for, even if you did ditch me in Politics and left me on my own to face the sheer terror of the ever pedantic and stupidly idiosyncratic details of the Washminster system. Thank you for speaking up for me and sticking with me when times got tough.

오빠. I don't think anyone's had a weirder or stranger or more unorthodox relationship than you and I. I don't think anyone's made me laugh or cry more than you have. You're an asshole, you know. You drive me completely crazy. But you're the best friend I've ever had and I will always love you dearly, no matter what. I love all our late night talks and all the laughter in advocacy. I love how you always smile at me and I love your big bear hugs. I love how you never ever ever listen to anything I say. I love you for making me fearless, for making me believe in myself, for being there when things all got too much and I wanted to give up. Thank you for letting me cry on you and scream at you. Thank you for being my court jester and my best friend. Thank you for all the great times and the precious memories. The rumours and misunderstandings were hard and I know it isn't easy being my friend, but I couldn't have made it through this year without you. It hasn't always been easy and there have been way too many times that I had enough and wanted out, but I think you and I can make it through anything. I love you to the moon and back. Stay beautiful.

I admit I only realized how wonderful you all are at the dinner dance two nights ago. In the last hour I'm sure some of you saw me suddenly dive to the dumps and I'm sorry if I freaked you out - I was very high and excited and after the adrenalin rush there is always the crash, and I was tired and stressed and hormonal and my feet were killing me. But I still had the time of my life on the night of nights, I promise. But I realized that no where else would I find a better group of people, and there was no one else I wanted to be graduating with but with you. I realized that for all our fights, for all the outbursts and tantrums and hormonal craziness, we're all family, and I love you all dearly. I realized how beautiful you all were even when we were a sweaty screaming mass of stilettos and tuxes and smudged mascara. That's how much I love you.  

To the Class of 2012, I'll miss you all. I'll try and stay in touch as much as I can and I'm sure I'll see lots of you next year at uni. Good luck on exams and life and love and everything. It's only just beginning and I can't tell you how excited I am. YOWO and YOLO and all of that. ILY.

Long live all the mountains we moved, I had the time of my life fighting dragons with you. One day we will be remembered.

Stay beautiful,
Lady Solitaire

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

the reality of abortion

Now Playing: Treacherous by Taylor Swift (put your lips close to mine as long as they don't touch, out of focus, eye to eye until the gravity's too much and I'll do anything you say if you say it with your hands)

Myth #1: Women who don't use contraceptives are 'irresponsible' and deserve the consequences of unwanted pregnancies 

Contraception isn't as black and white as 'to use or not to use, that is the question'. In reality, there are many factors as to why women don't use contraception. I personally cannot use any kind of hormonal contraception because of my hormonal imbalances and my mental illness - both of which are often dangerously exacerbated by contraceptives such as the pill or the ring or implant. The reality is that it's not always about the responsibility of taking a pill every day - I have to think holistically about my physical and mental health. The reality is that I may have to use contraceptive methods that haven't got the security of 99% effectiveness, and I will be stigmatized for that. The reality is that contraception is a physical, emotional and financial nightmare - a nightmare borne out of our society's inability to recognise every woman's right to sexual freedom, sexual pleasure and reproductive rights. Other factors for improper use of contraception include pressure from partners, lack of education and cost concerns. Further, for all the widely accepted contraceptive methods, only one is specifically for men - the male condom. The rest are all for women - for women to bear the physical, mental and economic consequences. And the most important thing is that there is never any peace of mind - no contraceptive method is 100% foolproof, not even abstinence. In fact, over half of all women who obtain abortions were on some form of birth control.

Myth #2: Most women who get abortions are teenagers/shady/irresponsible/immoral (atheist)/sluts/don't understand what it is to be a mother etc etc etc

According to the Guttmacher Institute (these are American statistics) 1 in 3 women will have an abortion by the time they are 45. One. In. Three. Most women who have abortions are in their 20s - which makes sense, given that in the ruthless and predominantly male corporate ladder many women must sacrifice their most fertile years to establish a career, and that most of these women have been sexually active since their late teens. Teenagers account for only 15% of abortions, but teenagers under eighteen only account for 6% of abortions. 60% of women who have abortions already have children, and so understand fully what it is to be a mother - many cite the need to care for existing children as a reason to get an abortion. 75% of women who get abortions are religiously affiliated, and the rates of abortion amongst Catholic women are comparable to that of all women. Although abortion rates are increasingly concentrated amongst poor women, this is not due to sexual behaviour but limited access to contraception and education.

Myth #3: Criminalizing abortion will reduce abortion rates

There is little relationship between the legal status of abortion and how often it occurs. The lowest instances of abortion (12 in 1000) is in Western Europe, where abortion is legal and widely accepted. The highest instances of abortion are in Latin America (32 in 1000) and Africa (29 in 1000), where abortion is highly restricted. Criminalizing or severely restricting access to abortion only forces abortion underground and increases the chances of women dying or sustaining severe and lifelong injuries from backyard abortion clinics or attempts at self abortion. No matter what your stance on abortion is, no woman deserves to die a horrific, undignified death as a consequence of an unwanted pregnancy.

Myth #5: Abortion is wrong/murder/etc

Where do you draw the line with this? Many extremist and conservative religious sects cite 'wasting seed' as a reason to prohibit male masturbation - which suggests that some people consider eggs and sperm to be 'life forms'; you could argue that certain religious and cultural rituals surrounding menstruation are also derived from the concept of losing life. Some consider a fertilized ego to be a life form, others consider foetal viability such as the precedent of Roe vs. Wade. Many also consider that a child's rights do not outweigh those of the mother until it is born, and some cultures and religions do not consider a child to be a full human being with full human rights until a set period has passed since the birth, such as the Jewish tradition of not giving a child a full funeral if it dies 30 days after the birth and the Asian custom of not registering a child until it is a year old. The reality is that life and the potential for life dies all around us - women are born with one or two million follicles and produce 400 ovum in her lifetime, and yet many only give birth to one or two children - does that mean this woman has murdered two million people? No. 50% of all fertilized eggs are naturally aborted before pregnancy is even detected. 1 in 3 of all detected pregnancies end in miscarriages. Babies die in utero, in childbirth, in the first weeks and months of life. Every day we hear stories of life that ends before it has a chance to live. Many pregnancies have to be terminated for medical reasons and it is beyond stupid to criminalize this. Of the babies that do make it many are born with severe congenital defects, or are born into violent, abusive families. There are things worse than death, especially death before life has begun. Reproduction is not quick and easy and idyllic. It can be bloody and tragic and intensely complicated. But the abortion debate is not really about saving lives and we should stop pretending that it is - it is about people who believe women have the right to sexual freedom and the right to safely, legally and responsibly deal with the potential consequences of this, and the people who believe that women must remain at the mercy of men, of the government and of God. With all this knowledge of how fragile life and potential life is and how difficult it is to define 'personhood', I can't help but consider the pro-life stance to be about punishing women for expressing their sexuality.

From a purely medical perspective a foetus is the time between embryo and personhood - by definition it is not a human being, only a human to be. Put it this way. When a woman is pregnant, she and her husband don't call themselves 'parents', but 'parents to be', because their child is not a human, only a human to be. Personhood is defined as being able to survive outside of the mother's body, albeit with technological help - this is normally defined as the 22nd or 24th week of pregnancy, and contrary to popular belief about 90% of abortions occur in the first trimester, far before this time - abortion is not delivering a live baby and then killing it. Before this time, a foetus is not a human being in any sense of the word. It cannot think, has no emotional capacity, has no memory and cannot feel pain. If a fertilized egg fails to attach to the uterine wall, it is not committing suicide. If two fertilized eggs merge and become a chimera, it is not a cannibal. If a woman miscarries she is not committing murder and the foetus, although mourned, is mourned as a missed opportunity rather than a lost life. The potential for life is precious, don't get me wrong, but is also fragile and treated differently in our society than an actual human life - except for abortion, because of its (mostly unfair and illogical connection) to sex and promiscuity and irresponsibility. Ending life before it has begun is not murder. Some extremist pro-life activists would have you believe that a foetus can feel and remember everything and is put under extreme physical and psychological distress and it is not true - you cannot attribute human sensation to something that isn't human. Other pro-life activists claim that abortion doctors are murderers and women who obtain abortions are sadistic and heartless and this is all just fear-mongering lies. Every pro-choice activist sees the clear distinction between inducing a miscarriage and murdering a human being. Pro-choice isn't even necessarily pro-abortion - the definition of 'pro-choice' is to give women the right to choice, and there are no situations in which women are obligated to get an abortion according to pro-choice thinking.

So how will we reach a consensus? Choice. I am personally pro-life on abortion, in that I believe abortion is only appropriate in cases of rape, incest, risk to the mother's life or severe congenital deformities. I think this not because I think a non-viable foetus is a full human being, but because I recognise that the potential for life is precious and should not be flippantly discarded. I also acknowledge that I am lucky to have the socio-economic status to bring up a baby, that I have family and community support, that I am not likely to have an unexpected pregnancy and that I am, or very soon will be, physically capable of pregnancy and parenthood. This is my opinion and will inform my choices as I move into the next stages of my life. I also acknowledge that this is an opinion formed by a teenager who has never been in a relationship and never done anything that could have led to a pregnancy, and so if I have to eat my own words later on I reserve my right to do so.

But my opinions and my beliefs on abortion concern only me and my choices. I support pro-choice legislation on reproductive rights because it is every woman's right to make her own choices - her choice as to when abortion is and is not appropriate, and when something is actually a human being with full human rights.

Imagine this. Imagine if abortion was mandatory if you had a mental illness or you weren't married. I say this because this reflects a) hormonal contraception's impact on mental health and the real life sterilization and forced abortions of patients with mental illnesses in the past and b) the previous mandatory removal and adoption of children born out of wedlock. Imagine if you were forced to have an abortion even if your mental illness wasn't hereditary, was under control and would not impact your capacity as a parent. Imagine if you were forced to have an abortion even if you don't believe in abstinence until marriage or if you were forced into sex. Imagine if abortion was mandatory regardless  of your opinions, your values, whether you consider your child to be a viable life form or not, regardless of whether you wanted the child or not. How is this in any way fair? How is this in any way respecting human rights?

Forcing women to have babies is no different to forcing women to have abortions - it robs women of choice and rights. Pro-life policies force women to pay the consequences of lack of education, of socio-economic inequality, of sexism and sexual violence. It may be every child's right to life, but it is also every child's right to be safe and happy and to be born to safe and happy parents in a safe and happy environment. Pro-life policies rob women of the right to choose if and when to have children and the circumstances in which they build their own families. Pro-life policies disadvantage women and rob them of their right to sexual freedom. Pro-life policies encourage sexist and misogynistic attitudes towards contraception, sex, pregnancy and abortion. It's okay to be pro-life; I am. But it's not okay to impose your beliefs on others. It's not okay to have the blood of millions of women and children worldwide on your hands because you think you can make choices for other people. We can debate until the end of time when personhood starts, whether the mother's rights are more important than a child's rights, whether abortion is immoral or not. But we could end this here and now by saying 'This is what I believe and this is what I would do. I respect you as a human being to make your own choices. I wish for my choices to reflect my values and I respect your right for the same.'

Pro-choice policies do not force women to have abortions. It does not lead to an increase in abortions. If anything, access to safe, legal abortion procedures in conjunction to access to comprehensive contraception, education and healthcare have led to a decline in both unwanted pregnancies and abortions. They only allow women to make a choice based on their beliefs and their values. It's your right to consider every single tiny minuscule sperm cell a 'life form', but not to impose these beliefs onto other people. Criminalizing abortion only punishes women for exercising basic human rights, and leads to an increase in deaths and injuries associated with unsafe abortion procedures. Education, contraception and choice is worth more than all the slut shaming and demonization of women and of abortion by politics and religion.

Wordless Wednesday: Ladies!

...and gentlemen.

(image credit: Facebook Page [my alarm clock is clearly jealous of my amazing relationship with my bed]) 

Best Friends


I could tell you a lot of things.
I could say that he smiles at me every day
I could tell you that he makes me laugh and has half of my heart
I could say that he holds me when I cry
I could tell you that he makes everything better
I could say that he's always the highlight of my day
I could tell you that we stay up until half past too late
talking and talking and talking and talking

But all I will tell you
And all I will say
Is that he is my best friend.

Inspired by Stay Beautiful by Taylor Swift

* * *


i can't count

how many times

i have said

i've had enough

this is the last straw, don't want to hurt anymore

i can't count

how many times

i have cried

i can't count every little scar

i can't count

how many times i have said

to myself

in defeat

'forgive and forget'

for my best friend

Inspired by You're Not Sorry by Taylor Swift

* * *


words...fail...i can't even...begin...to say...

how beautiful, flawless, fearless

life is, my friend. 

and...i...can't tell you...just...

how blessed, thankful, grateful

i am, my friend. 

i love you to the moon and back



Inspired by Long Live by Taylor Swift

* * *


I am tired of faking smiles
What can I say,
To them,
Without 'I told you so'?

I am broken by living on borrowed time
A stolen kiss,
Robbed from you
Or me?

But I dread the inevitable goodbyes
Maybe I should let go
To find
Something more right than wrong?

We are missed opportunities
      And deafening silences
            And broken hearts
                  And sleepless nights
                        And breaking down
                              And could have beens

And best friends...

Inspired by Girl at Home by Taylor Swift

* * *

Inspired by T.S. Eliot's Preludes 
Click here for a discussion of Best Friends

Monday, October 22, 2012

Music Monday: this is why I don't like gangnam style.

I hate Gangnam Style.

You know why I hate Gangnam Style? Because I get it. It's such a perfect parody. I've been to Korea - I am Korean. Only a Korean who's spent time in Korea recognises how flawless Psy's mimicry is of the nouveau riche that are emerging in Korea's gadget-happy long boom - Psy himself said that only 'losers and wannabees' say that they have 'gangnam' style. I recognize every single one of the larger-than-life characters in the music video - even Psy himself. There are actually people like that in Korea.

The problem is that nobody else gets Gangnam Style. Everyone thinks it's funny to laugh at the fat guy making a fool of the entire Asian continent. That's what I don't like. Gangnam Style went viral because at the heart of Western society is a desperate need to outlet xenophobia. Psy's parody is wasted on a WASP audience - he's making a mockery, but only a mockery of himself. And that's what I don't like.

I mean, seriously, it would be like taking this video as a literal representation for contemporary American society. Admittedly, it's not much of a stretch, but if it wasn't so evidently a parody it would have been rather offensive. Nobody seems to understand that whilst they laugh at Psy's horse dance.

And then there is, of course, the objectification of women. When I went back to Korea I was about eight or nine kilos heavier than I am now - mildly chubby, but not an extreme cause for concern. I swear most of the hype about my weight and how I looked was purely because I was a girl - because I wasn't 'pretty' and couldn't fit into the 'pretty' clothes (read: the biggest size is about a size 8). If I was a boy it would be brushed off as a 'growing boy's appetite'. I saw this in how some of my other cousins was treated and I was like yeah, okay, I'm fat, but SO IS HE!

Psy is not exactly the contemporary Western definition of 'the hot guy' - and he's not the Korean ideal, either, if you look at how the more mainstream K-Pop stars are like. But he gets away with it. I did not see a single girl who could be his equal in girth in the entire music video. And the remix of Gangnam Style, Dakneh Style, featured some pretty full on dancing from Hyuna, who can't sing but that seems to be besides the point. I'm a sex positive feminist, I have no problem with sex in the media, but there's a difference between 'portraying sexy women' and 'objectifying women'. That video did not walk the right side of the line.

Do you know what else didn't walk the right side of the line?


The sad thing is, this is how the world sees Korean girls - I don't know whether Korea's uber-patriarchal and highly commercialized society realizes this, but this is how the world sees Korean girls. People don't believe I'm half Korean because I'm not anorexic and I don't dance like a pole dancer and pretend I don't enjoy it (I mean, I wouldn't enjoy it therefore I don't). People probably think I'm half Korean, half Jabba the Hutt, just to explain my distinct lack of Korean sex appeal. This is not a healthy image to broadcast to girls, and this is not a healthy image for Korean girls. Not all Korean girls like creeps on the internet talking about how much they jerk off thinking about them.Seriously, all the comments about this video has something to do with fucking Korean girls or wanking or getting hard ons etc etc etc. It's disgusting. The reason why I hate K-Pop is that it is so blatantly sexist - just look at the difference between the boy bands and the girl groups - and nobody gives a damn, because all this Americanized shit is so new and patriarchy (which is still a big thing over there) turns a blind eye. It's the boy bands who get the expensive Michael Jackson choreographers and the girl groups who are told their only appeal is sex appeal.

So this is why I hate Gangnam Style.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

A Thousand Thousand Fearless Things #85

Now Playing: Withdraw by Kimbra (I can't withdraw your heart from mine)

#801: On the bus in a fairy costume. No, I am not on drugs.

#802: Tardis robe

#803: Winter Melon Tea

#804: 93%. My baby. 

#805: eggplant love

#806: I'M UNTYING HER BRA!!!! (thanks, Belephant.)

#808: sleepovers ❤

#809: I lost my (burger) virginity

#810: rumour has it

#811: State of Grace

#812: I knew you were trouble when you walked in, so shame on me now, flew me to places I'd never been, but now I'm lying on the cold hard ground

#813: guacamole and tacos

Sunday Wordle: People

So here's a new thing...

I love Wordles.

Every week I'll be publishing a Wordle made from my blog - but it only really counts the first few posts, so it'll always be changing. I think it's a neat way to capture the mood of the blog and how that changes.

Stay beautiful.

(click image to enlarge)

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: beauty

It was pointed out to me by a friend a little while ago that whilst we are becoming more and more accepting and desensitized to violence, sexuality and nudity is still something that is heavily censored and stigmatized.

Look at how movies are classified these days. Explicit violence may get a PG or an M at most. One artsy love scene or more than five seconds of nudity and it's at least MA. Last time I checked a gun did more damage than a human body.

Put it this way. Safe, legal, consensual sexual activities? Probably not going to hurt anyone.

Walking around a safe, intimate environment with no clothes on? Probably not going to hurt anyone.

Stabbing someone?

...ya know, might hurt someone.

This is an image a classmate has on her Facebook page, and I think it is very beautiful. It is a realistic depiction of the human body, at least, and isn't overtly sexualized to the point of hardcore-porn stupidity. If you're offended by this image but wouldn't be offended if I posted a still from a movie that involves graphic violence (and I for one can name...a few...)

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

everything to me.

Now Playing: Hard to Say Goodbye (Naked) by Bryarly Bishop (I've got your melodies to keep me company, I've got your face on the screen, I've got these memories on my mind constantly, I've got myself resigned to waiting patiently)

Am I in too deep?

The reason why I am so introverted is that, in my experience, when I open up people start to think that I'm in too deep. I get attached to things, to people, too easily. I don't take a lot of things lightly.

If you ever see me at school, or in the library, or any place where I'm sitting by myself with my headphones and a vacant, dreamy expression, I am almost always reminiscing. I think the reason why I'm always 'in too deep' is that I remember absolutely everything, and my memory is very easily triggered by everyday objects.

I know I don't mean that much to that many people. And sometimes it's awkward, knowing that you're in far deeper than someone else. I can't give people the flippant, 'don't worry about it', black and white answers to difficult questions. It's not my fault that I can't explain away the way I feel.

They always say that you 'can't talk to boys about feelings'. Can you just imagine now many friendships, relationships, marriages etc have dissolved based on that stupid fallacy? It's a stereotype everyone hides behind. Boys and sex are so tied up with feelings it's absurd to say that you can't talk to them about how you're feeling.

There's still so much of me that nobody knows about, so much that I hide away, so much that I'm too afraid to show. It's easier to smile and say that I'm okay than to open up about everything that is raw and weird and vulnerable. It's easier to cry when nobody is looking. Even when I do open up it normally falls on deaf ears anyway. People don't want to hear what they don't want to hear.

Everyone thinks that I've done so much more than I've done. Everyone seems to forget that there is a first time for everything. In a way its endlessly frustrating, but it affords me a kind of emotional privacy that I find strangely comforting. I hate my insecurities, I hate them so much that I hate to see them in other people. Its why I've always been attracted to the bold and the reckless, the people who take what they want without asking. They have what I don't and I can't help but admire them. And I love what happens in the rush, in the heat of the moment, I love the excitement and fear of knowing that everything could so easily go so terribly wrong.

It's not too often that people think of me as an emotionally private person. I have a blog, for Christ's sake. If anyone's wearing their heart on their sleeve, it's me. But I'm only open because I'm tired of misunderstandings, I'm tired of the assumptions that come when you try and keep secrets. But in other ways I have...I have become private. I don't feel like anyone understands what I'm trying to say, so why bother explaining? Or it's not so much that they don't understand, but they don't listen. My stories are the same stories we all know, and I don't know why people think that I am somehow different, that I am without these stories, that I am not worthy of them. They treat me as if I don't have what everyone else has. Everyone asks me why I became so opinionated, so eager to let my voice be heard. The truth is, I'm not one of those people who can let other people speak for me - they always get it wrong. I have to speak just to remind people that I too am human.

Everything means so much to me. I can recall so many beautiful moments with perfect clarity. I have so many precious bittersweet memories in my heart and words can't describe how dear they are to me. But what is a milestone to me is next to nothing to everyone else. But if I let go as they do I have nothing; I would be empty. I have nothing else to fill my empty heart with.

It always baffles people why someone like me lets everyone else call the shots - why I can be so headstrong and stubborn and determined in some things and totally easygoing in others. I let other people call the shots because I don't want people to know how deep I'm in, how attached I am. I spend most of my time trying to make sure that the people closest to me don't know it. I've never understood how poeple work. I don't understand why people only want to be attached to people who keep running away from them. The second they stop and reconsider we suddenly become the ones who are running.

It's not like I'm not independent or incapable of self sufficiency. I work alone. I've managed my blog alone for four years and everything I've ever done worth talking about has been done single handedly. But this capacity for capability doesn't stop me from feeling isolated or insecure or lonely. I can explain to people the inner workings of my brain - everyone seems to want a piece of my mind. But its my heart that is harder to translate, especially to the people who mean everything to me.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Music Monday: Some Study That I Used To Know

...I'm sure we're all feeling this at the moment :)

Soooo tempted to write an essay on 'puritans are boring even when one is a slut'.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

on edge.

Now Playing: Hurts Like Heaven by Coldplay (cause you, you use your heart as a weapon, and it hurts like heaven)

Twelve years of school has taught me one thing.

I am always super super high at the beginning of the year and virtually suicidal by the end of it.

I lose sight of the bigger picture very easily. When I'm excited I forget the tears, the tantrums, the lows, the depression, the break ups, the fights, cheating and being cheated on. When I'm down I forget the rush, the thrill, all the nerve tingling anticipation, the euphoric highs and chocolate-induced giggle fests.

This is made worse by the fact that a) I'm silly and sixteen, b) emotionally I am a hop and a step away from FUCKING PSYCHO and c) it's the last/most intense/seriously godawful year of school I can remember

I think it's safe to say that everyone's pretty on edge at the moment.

I'm silly and sixteen. In an alternate universe I'd take as much time as I needed this year to just be sixteen - run around in converse sneakers and my ever-expanding collection of sundresses and talk boys and sex and feelings until the cows come home instead of trying to compress my entire emotional spectrum into the odd sleepover and endless facebook chats. In an alternate universe 'talk later' would be replaced with 'fucking WHAT?' and I'd never have to postpone a tantrum so that my poor unsuspecting victim could sod off to sit a spec exam. This is the first year that I've really felt like it is a lost cause trying to reconcile my school career with whatever the fuck is going on with hormones and people and etc. I don't understand either because I'm trying to do both at the same time. I can't shut off my emotions and I sure as hell can't shut off school. If you want to know the true source of my slightly unhealthy obsession with Taylor Swift music is that she conveniently sums up all the shit swirling through my head in neat, easy to swallow, three minute capsules.

Which is a shame, really, because I've always prided myself in being an excellent multitasker and quite good at getting my way.

I'm a romantic, aesthetic sort of person. I value all the things and feelings and people that I have stumbled across and fumbled my way naively through equally with my academic pursuits. Yes, I want to be a writer. I also want to fall in love and get married. I'm trying to work on both dreams at the same time because I value them equally and both have a time limit and both are absolutely killing me with anticipation. I know I will not be happy as an uber sophisticated college professor with more degrees than a thermometer but no baby in the cradle, just as I will not be happy as the uneducated frumpy housewife with a million screaming babies and a cheating asshole for a husband. I know I will not be happy with one or the other - I want it all. I feel like school and life and people are constantly forcing me to choose, and it's a choice I don't have to and don't want to make.

I have to daydream and fantasize just as I need to eat and drink and breathe. I live on the abstract and the bliss of satisfying curiosities and it is impossible to convince people of how real my need for these things are and how utterly bereft I am without them. Anticipation quite literally kills me - I can't stand it. It's exactly the same to me as the low dull ache of hunger and has me constantly on the verge of tears. I keep whinging about how this year has been horrible but it hasn't been horrible so much as horribly intense - the bullying got worse. The love got stronger. The friendships got weirder. The relationships got deeper. The stress went into overdrive and the hormones spiralled totally out of control. This is the year of blood and sweat and tears and I have no energy left for the papercuts and inkstains of final exams. I really should have timed things a bit better. I'm constantly telling my friends to time their 'harbinger of doom' moments around exams so that I don't totally lose my shit. The highs have been wonderful, too. But I've flipped from being totally starved of intensity or anything more emotional or passionate than LOL JKS from being whacked repeatedly over the head and heart with the intensity hammer.

And then, of course, there is the rumour mill. Telling me to ignore the rumour mill is like telling someone to ignore the pride when you're in a lion enclosure at the zoo. Sure, chances are ignoring them will help avoid a panic attack and knowing a lion's temperament they'll probably leave you the fuck alone, but there is nothing sane or wise or normal or feasible about ignoring a giant man-killing animal with teeth the size of carving knives. The rumour mill is like that. Ignoring it might allow me to indulge in the bliss of ignorance and chances are the rumours will just be like insubstantial if slightly annoying pokes but occasionally something big rears its fat ugly head and I thank God that I'm a sensitive emotional little shit because at least I had my eyes open.

I know it looks like I've just totally let myself loose and that I'm being totally open and honest about my emotions - I know I've been chucking tantrums every other day and crying more than a newborn and I've had more sugar-induced highs than is probably healthy. But the truth is I've been keeping a lot of things under wraps, pushed beneath the surface, 'later' and 'now is not the time or place' - and it's slowly driving me insane. I am so on edge I nearly burst into tears after my nail polish chipped. I'm not exactly seeing red, but to paraphrase Taylor Swift there is NOTHING BEIGE about what I'm feeling and doing and seeing right now.

And of course after all this mindfuck of the end of the year is over I'll be pumped for next year. Women never change.