March in March ~ Melbourne

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On March 16 30,000 Melbourne residents took to the streets, alongside thousands of others across Australia, to protest the Tony Abbott led Coalition government and their policies around refugees, the environment, education, the economy, gender issues and a plethora of other issues.

Images Copyright Neesha Bremner & The Storyteller Project 2014.

 

Living on the moon – Melbourne vs Kathmandu.

Arriving in Australia to live ( abet temporarily) in one of the country’s most affluent suburbs after four months in Nepal is like moving to the moon.

In Toorak, one of the most wealthy suburbs of Melbourne ,Australian Tax Office figures (2010) indicate the average annual income hovers around $132252. In Nepal the average income, according to World Vision, sits around $200.  Rather astounding that on average one Toorak resident earns the same as 661 Nepali’s. This coincides with a huge disparity in population density. In Kathmandu 13,225 people live per square kilometer, urban Melbourne is light weight in comparison  with 2010 Australian Bureau of Statistics figures placing population density  at 530.

But this is nothing if you look at quality of life, various pollution indicators, working conditions, access to medical care and education. The comparisons are actually pointless. Toorak is alien to the hustle and bustle of Kathmandu and the political miasma that engulfs Nepal’s capital, that said Ted and his resignation shenanigans last night is a step in the right direction.

It can be challenging coming back into the developed world and seeing all the blatant abundance and people having far more than they actually need. Do you really need a car in Melbourne that can take on all terrains in siege conditions? If your children are at Geelong Grammar’s Toorak campus apparently you do. School pick up time is projectile money flung on asphalt.Is that much car necessary beyond the point you are shouting your wealth at everyone else on the road? Not only is that excessive in comparison to Nepal but also to the majority of Australian’s. Particularly in Victoria as the state officially entered recession this week.

But I am being judgmental.

There is something very nice staying in a  safe leafy suburb cushioned in comfort. I understand why people aspire to live like this. And I am very appreciative to the friend who has facilitated this time of luxury. It is a time out from the raw honesty of daily life in Nepal though vaguely surreal. A time to charge the batteries, no load shedding here.

But I say this knowing I will be back working and living in the Global South in two months. For me Toorak is the moon or Disneyland.This is not real life, is it?

Dancing with gender anger

I feel angry.

I feel angry that as a woman it appears that I have no choice but to be a feminist in order to protect and defend my right to be equal because by genetic chance I was born female. I feel angry that by having a womb, breasts, ovaries, a uterus, a cervix and a vagina that I have to interact with a subtle latent secondary set of cultural and societal rules in order to justify my innate right of equality.

I am human and from my perspective all humans are equal regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, sexuality or gender. So why is it then this humanness of mine is constantly challenged by statements such as “No doesn’t always mean no,” by US federal agencies such as FEMA and by some political parties wanting to legislate what I can and cannot do with my body?

Why do I have to read about men discussing how my body can shut down the reproductive process if I have experienced a “legitimate rape”? Why do terms such as “emergency rape”, “honest rape”, “enjoyable rape”, “forcible rape” and  “gift from god rape” even exist as terminology?

Why does it matter what I wear and why can I not walk home alone late at night, why is that even questioned? Why is it I get told to “calm down” when expressing a valid cohesive perspective in the work environment? (When a male colleague two minutes later says the same thing and nothing about his emotional state is mentioned.) Why is a male colleague allowed to say to a female co-worker “you are being emotional” when he would never say such a thing to a male colleague? Why is it okay to comment on my age, appearance and weight? Why does my appearance even matter? Why is it I have to justify feeling angry about having to ask if a “women asked for it” when reporting on a rape story for a national newspaper? Why is it when a women defends herself after constant and ongoing subtle sexist and misogynistic comments she is called “attacking” by mainstream media? Why is it that though I have more consumer power then men, I  still generally get paid less and have less representation in business and in government? Why is my strength and intellect a weapon used against me and why am I sometimes feared and termed as “ball busting” when a male would be called a “go getter” or “analytical and progressive”? Why is it a friend got asked if she had a husband when applying for a job and then told  that as she might get pregnant there was no job for her? Why are essential products needed because I menstruate highly taxed in some countries? Why does it cost more financially to be a woman than a man?

I could go on but it seems redundant.

And let me be clear. Because I feel angry about this doesn’t mean I hate men, I love men, some of the best and dearest people in my life are men. I hate the fact I even need to state that.

Why is it that if I am angry about gender injustice some will argue it is because I hate men?

Why is it if I feel angry about gender injustice my sexually is  sometimes questioned?  Why is it okay to call me a “Fucking feminist”, “Fucking dyke”, “fucking cunt“, as if those things would be an insult if they applied , if I dare question the status quo?

Until recently I didn’t refer to myself as a feminist as I equated it with too much anger but now I do feel angry.I am fed up with the latent under currents I deal with, the justifications and hoops I sometimes have to jump through because of my gender.

I don’t want to feel angry – I want equity. I want that universally for all women and men – we deserve balance.

I don’t want to deal with comments. I don’t want to have to prove anything, to have evidence.

I don’t want to be denied justice because the hassle of reporting an incident to the police is adversarial and traumatic.

I want to be happy.

I want to be good at my job just because I am good at my job. I want to walk home at one in the morning because that is when I chose to go home. I want to wear a tight skirt because I like it and it makes me feel good. I want to have lovers and not risk being called a slut.

I want to live my life the way I want and it not be a big deal I’m not married and don’t have children. I want to live my daily life and not deal with harassment.

I just want to be happy doing what I am doing and for no one to comment. It’s not a big deal. I’m just a woman- get over it.