American Immigrant Podcast -Episode 3

In this episode we join Hamilton Pevec and his Nepali wife Devika Gurung as they navigate the Nepalese health system while preparing for the birth of their first child.

Can they get a non-caesarean birth?

Episode Three ~ How to Escape a Cesarean Section. Part One.

Written & Produced by Hamilton Pevec

Co-Produced by Neesha Bremner ( The Storyteller Project)

Please contact if you have any questions or wish to sponsor an episode.

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.


Gender & Language

How we speak and the language we use matters.
What are the subtle or transparent hegemonic themes you are enabling or engaging with when you chose to speak about a woman or man in a particular way?
What are the links to how you speak and how it is accepted or resisted?
 Are you engaging with how that links to emotional, physical, sexual, financial and legislative abuse of another because of gender?
Where is your  gender related behaviour motivated from? Love, fear, power or equality.Are you acknowledging the advantages you have because of where you are born, income, race, gender and belief system and what that enables in your life for no other reason than luck?Have you considered you live a privileged life because of those factors, that perhaps you do not see the huge inequities and power imbalances around you because you are protected from them?
Many aspects of language and everyday life have a latent gender bias. Stating this is not about blame but engaging with reality and deciding how we can act to address these inequalities from a place of acknowledgment and compassion.

These questions have been circulating around my brain: partly because I have been living in the developing world for nearly a year where gender disparities can be a little more blatant. But also because it feels that many do not engage with the intrinsic privilege that comes from the gender they are born into.  It is an assumed privilege, one that is not earned on merit, but by genetic chance.

This privilege is real and blatant, and also, in the developed world, subtle and underhand in articulation. As determined by gender, we engage in very real and different sets of expectations which affect access, power, agency and life quality.

This is illustrated through victim blaming, legislation, language that is gender assigned and has stronger negative connotations because of it, through how one can express one’s power or maturity, the standards you are expected to meet, your value in the market place (  Gender pay gaps are again increasing across the developed world – and up to 48 percent in Australia if you work in the health and community services sector) and influences expectations around appearance, career, how you behave, expressions of sexuality etc. Gender affects every aspect of existence.

And let’s be real here, the issue isn’t gender, its women.

Women  DO Not have real equality anywhere on this planet. Some places may be better than others but a true equality  does not exist when  by being born female you are engaged with from a hegemonic “women and other minorities” framework. Where our bodies are legislated against so we are unable by law to make decisions that affect every aspect our lives without it potentially being a criminal act. Where women who are successful are systematically targeted by the main stream media and their femaleness is targeted rather than their actions.

All of these things are connected to language, how power structures developed and predominantly male run speak, how men and women talk about each other, how dialogue around gender issues occurs and what the reaction points are.

Consider your language around gender – it is important – and is indicative of power and respect, love and fear. How you speak is how you think and that is indicative of everything when it comes to how your gender plays out in the world and how you live because of it.

Dancing with gender anger II – the audacity of women who dare to speak up to gender inequity

A few months ago I wrote a piece here about my growing frustration at rape terminology  being used as part of the American election campaign. The piece also touched on the general slippage occurring around gender issues. Or perhaps in a more nuanced explanation, how there seems to be a reluctance to engage with the gender issues that still remain in our society and culture.

This reluctance ranges from dismissal or that old classic in gender debates; a twisting of everything to make those speaking out about discrimination etc dance to prove the negative. And when you do, this is dismissed or an excuse is found not to engage with the evidence presented.  When these people are challenged to prove gender equality, equal representation, the twisting becomes more profound and in many occasions the debate then becomes personal.

A few days ago I posted Clementine Ford’s  International Women’s Day article Are Women’s Voices being Gagged to a New Zealand journalism Facebook forum Kiwi Journalist’s Association (KJA).

Essentially Ford argues the following;

 “If the media is a portal through which we see the world, how does the conspicuous  absence of women and their voices skew how people experience the world around them? Across the board, the facts show that women are significantly absent from that mirror the media reflects back onto society. Women operating in the public space are constantly reminded that their presence is a privilege, not a right – and that privilege can be taken away any time they break the rules.”

My reason for posting an Australian Fairfax created article in an NZ journalism forum was two-fold. One, the NZ media does not work in blessed isolation despite some of the protestations of those who objected to the article ( Fairfax owns a large percentage of the NZ media market), it’s posting and my defense of it. Secondly, the content of Ford’s piece is indicative of some of my experiences working in NZ media until I left the country in 2010 and I strongly believe illustrates the boy’s club type structure the media generally speaking operates from.

To clarify, my posting of the article wasn’t denying progress around gender issues but it was a statement that there are still considerable issues around gender  that the media industry in NZ has an obligation to address.

In some ways a majority of the reaction to my posting of the story is indicative of what I feel is the boy’s club mentality in action. That I should be grateful for what I have and to raise my head above the parapet and question the status quo isn’t the done thing. I am aware of the ramifications of speaking out and continuing to do so. There is an implicit risk to  speaking on gender issues; I will be labelled as difficult and I feel there are possible career implications.

In the discussion I was constantly asked to prove the inequality, which I along with a few other brave women journalists did. These studies were predominantly international and therefore were declared invalid by those protesting against Ford and our support of her argument. When NZ studies were produced these were also largely dismissed and then the statistics of the Massey University study were used as a justification for why there would not be parity and gender equally in NZ media for about 30 years ” because of the statistics.” When I asked, repeatedly for evidence of the gender equity and pay parity in NZ media none was offered and, in what I feel was a rather patronising tone, I was told I didn’t understand the argument.

I would like to post the thread in its entirety here but the KJA Facebook group is closed and by invitation only. Out of respect for my colleagues and the group  I will not post screeshots nor I will identify those who were particularly unhappy with my call for proof of equity in the NZ media industry. That said the administrators ironically proved Ford’s argument by closing the thread and “gagged” the female voices speaking out with evidence and experiential knowledge of how the NZ media can work for women.

I admit I hold KJA in far lesser regard due to the exchanges that took place in the forum and their lack of framework around gender issues that daily effect a large number of their membership. It also, from my perspective, speaks to the state of the industry that very few women spoke out about their concerns in an open forum and some male journalists felt free to behave in an unprofessional and sometimes bullying manner.

A number of women did contact me privately  and thanked me for speaking up and for confirming that they weren’t “going insane”. To those women, thank you for your support, it was an unpleasant run in which ultimately proved Ford right – I am appreciative of that. The article is not as one person stated “facts obscured by emotive, partisan twaddle.”

Here are some further links speaking to the  issues and general position of women in media. Please note all of these links were used  in the KJA discussion thread.

Te Mana and women.

Today a Feminist activist Boganette (link – posted a question on the Te Mana political party’s Facebook page asking if they had policy on sexual health and access to abortion and if they would be listing their positioning on ‘conscious’ issues.What followed can only be described as base sexism, misogyny, abuse, and trolling.

The abuse is pretty normal when discussing access to abortion or issues surrounding pro-choice, as is the hate against women who dare to ask uncomfortable questions. Being called a lesbian, a whore, (as if these are even fundamentally bad things), and being told to get fucked in various forms, is classic, if not run of the mill misogyny aimed at women who ask valid questions even without stating a position. What is important is knowing what each potential party stands for .It is surprising and extremely disappointing  that all this happened on the social networking page of a political party looking to gain votes not far out from a important election for New Zealand.

Many on the left in New Zealand feel disaffected and are looking for a place to put their vote on November 26. A party, even a young one like Te Mana, should be monitoring its social networking pages regularly and looking after its supporters, potential voters, and not letting one man loose with hate speech against women. It makes me wonder if his perspective is something the party membership are comfortable with. This may be unfair but when I asked Sue Bradford, on her facebook page, about what the party position on sexual health and abortion access was, my questions were ignored. This could be because she is busy with her campaign for the Waitakere seat. But I do wonder, in all fairness to Sue Bradford – does the party have a policy on these issues? Issues that are so important to so many voters?

I have asked the party to moderate their page, but from what I can tell the thread is still there with vitriol intact. I know abortion and sexual health can be contentious but it is also a fundamental policy platform. And potential voters should not be verbally attacked online for making a valid policy enquiry.

So I have some questions for Te Mana;

  • Who is in charge of the Women’s Affairs portfolio?
  • What is your policy on sexual health?
  • What is your policy on access to abortion?
  • Is Te Mana a pro-choice party?

Te Mana is a political party that claims to represent Maori, the poor and under -represented; many of those are women. This is a time when they need to stand up and be counted. Do they stand with women?