5 things my booty don’t do

13 Oct

Much like the early Portuguese, French and English explorers who managed to miss the extremely large lump of continental mass that has sat in the Pacific Ocean for millions of years, now known as Australia. The modern day media has just discovered the Booty. Land A’Hoy! traversing booty bumblers, two large bumpa-lumps have been spotted on the strangely named continent of Iggy Azalea. Land mass sightings can confirm the fissures in the mass, formerly known as the box gap have been sealed, and excess mass has been magically transferred to the spherical shaped stores in the continental derriere.

2014 is the year of the booty. 2012 was the year of the box gap. Unfortunately for me, I’ve never been qualified to celebrate or bask in the glory of either one. But I hope 2016 will be the year of ‘left boob bigger than the right boob’, I’d probably organize the festival, direct the video clips and be the face (or boobs) of the sexy campaign. Of notable appearance in the booty songs of 2014 including J-Lo’s “Booty”, Meghan Trainers’ “All about that bass” and Nicki Minaj’s “Anaconda”. The songs are catchy, and as hot as a 1987 Toyota on a 40 degree day.

Western media’s festishization of women’s bodies, in particular singular body parts, lends itself to the notion of ‘active’ anatomical parts- like their butts actively do things, apart from release gas and provide cushioning for bones. Nicki tames Anaconda’s with hers, Jenny from the block shakes the room with her ass (probably bending lighting fixtures) and Meghan’s ‘Boom Boom’ make men chase her. With all this chasing, rocking and shaking of rooms and inanimate objects surrounding it, I’m mildly surprised booty’s have not been labeled health hazards or formed into a troupe of super heroes. Well I’m here to tell you 5 things that my booty don’t do Photo on 13-10-2014 at 3.33 pm

  1. My booty can’t shake a room and cause fixtures to break

You know that slight over hang of ass at the bottom your underwear that creates a perfectly round, and lifted, silhouette of ass-with appropriate aerodynamics for shaking? No, neither do I.

  1. My booty can’t tame snakes

Not all booty’s were made equal. In fact my ass can’t apply discipline to anything especially not living creatures. Most of the time it just sits there. Maybe it should take up the ‘pungi’, also know as the snake-charming instrument.

  1. My booty can’t make a snack

Part of being an active and healthy creature is preparing healthy snacks like carrot sticks and hummus dips. My booty can’t do that. I wouldn’t be surprised if Iggy’s butt could prepare a quinoa and kale salad.

  1. My booty can’t start a Tsunami

Sometimes when I enter the water at my local beach or swimming pool, I worry the enormous pressurized impact of my butt might move earth plates or distrupt the earths core, like J-Lo’s butt. Fortunately I mostly just have to worry about regularly reapplying sunscreen to my incredibly pale skin.

  1. My booty doesn’t have a preference for music

I like to play the trumpet, which is in treble clef and sometimes I play trombone in bass clef. I used to worry that my ass would violently disagree with my choice in a treble instrument, like Meghan Trainor’s butt, who has a preference for bass. Luckily that hasn’t happened in the past 22 years.

My booty can’t move mountains and probably couldn’t take a on a super hero persona. It doesn’t carry enough #jigglewiggle to feature in Red Foo’s video clip either. But god damn, it provides a pleasurable seating experience.

The story of the very tall, very smart and very strong feminist high horse

24 Aug

 In the darkest, most damp corner of my back shed, where mildew garnishes the attic sheets and spider’s webs overlap into chains of nonagons and obscure hexagons, lives an old feminist high horse. She is steady on her hooves despite her inconceivably long, wirey horsey legs. Sometimes when I visit my feminist high horse to feed her a daily bucket of misandry, her brown horsey brow furrows at the sight of me- a young woman who looks defeated, angry and exhausted. She encourages me to hop onto her feminist high horse back and ride her all day. But I just can’t seem to reach.

A very long, long time ago, indeed, the feminist high horse lived in a magical queendom. In her queendom, the feminist high horse would parade her very long, very strong and very fine mousy brown tail to the other horses. Her average looking, yet exceptionally strong and accurate tail was made to swat and swipe away pesky man flies, who would try very hard to land on her very long, very strong body and make her feel itchy and uncomfortable in her own skin.

The feminist high horse was nothing spectacular compared to some of other horses, her abdomen was spotted black and rounder than the others, her flanks were thicker than the other horses and sometimes they would touch- unlike the other horses with flank gaps. The feminist high horse had legs that were longer and ganglier than a giraffe. She towered over the other horses and despite her less than spectacular exterior, the feminist high horse knew she had as much right to exist in the Queendom as the other flies and horses. 

The magical queendom, was truly a spectacular place. When the feminist high horse felt thirsty she drank from an ever-flowing, crystal clear trough of white cis man tears*. When another horse told her that her mane looked raggedy, and curly and she should try styling it like the other horses, she brushed her hair with bristles made of micro aggressions. With every stroke of her unruly feminist high horse mane, a bristle fell to the ground and tiny bristle screams echoed in the air, “why the long face?”, “only high horses hurt their calves”, “don’t talk to horses with long legs they will steal things”, they screamed. The feminist high horse continued to brush her entire body with the micro aggressive bristle brush, in the style that made her feel most comfortable and like the confident and smart feminist high horse she is. She brushed her hair so thoroughly that all of the little bristles had fallen to the ground and could no longer affect the way she thought about her own feminist high horse body or those around her.

The feminist high horse galloped all throughout the queendom draped by a bridle of voting rights and equal parliament representation. In the queendom over 50% of the horses in parliament were feminist high horses and the Minister for mares was in fact a female high horse too, and not a stallion like the previous minister. The feminist high horse lived in a magical equine world that would not tolerate sjambok whippings and violence towards 1 in 3 mares. The feminist high horse would neigh very loudly, huff and make a great deal of noise with her hooves when other horses told her she had taken her high horse feminism “too far”. Sometimes the other horses told her she needed to go back to her stable, stop clicking her hooves, eat some hay peppered by systemic misogyny. The very strong, very clever and very fast feminist high horse never let hurtful things other horses said control the direction she would gallop in.

Until one day a stallion who was quite familiar to the very tall, and very strong high horse told her, “you need to get off your feminist high horse”. According to the stallion, the high horse had taken her feminism too far. Particularly when she told the stallion that it is not okay to enquire about another mare’s relationship status immediately after the stallion had been informed that this mare is the most successful young business horse in all of the queendom. The feminist high horse, felt broken by the stallion. She felt as if her legs had been cut in half, and that she could not trot, swat or gallop around the queendom anymore. The stallion made her feel inferior for directing attention toward the mare’s achievements, rather than questioning why she has not managed to catch a horse partner.

Just like the broken high horse, I have also been told to stop riding my feminist high horse too. I imagine these people picture us as feminist cowboys- buckling up our saddles of responsibility (because feminists are expected to solve all the ethical problems), ready to ride through the idle deserts of misandry and shoot down every man in our “warped, and extreme tunnel vision sight”, (direct quote from person who suggested I get off my feminist high horse). Who has the warped sense of reality now?

The old and wise feminist high horse, who used to sit small in the dampest, coldest and most dark corner of my shed once again stood tall and straight. She wriggled her long mousy brown tail and asked me to hop on so we can ride tall together.

 Once someone tells you what you believe in, like gender equity, is inherently wrong or stupid -sometimes you start to believe it. Until the day where a woman wins a gold medal at the commonwealth games and her relationship status (or lack thereof) receives less attention than her sporting achievement or when you find out a young woman of 27 has reached a senior management position and earning of $120,000 a year in a field dominated by men and no one asks about her relationship status immediately after, that is the day I will come off my feminist high horse. Until then, you’ll find me amongst the tumbleweeds riding the feminist high horse, tall and strong throughout the feminist desert and queendom (and definitely not killing first nations people like a regular white cow boy).

*No men were harmed in the making of this story.

When your partner has depression

18 Aug

I used to joke that only men with depression were attracted to me, because that’s the only experience I have had with long-term boyfriends and a variety of short-term flings. I’ve never dated anyone who hasn’t been on anti-depressants or seen a psychiatrist in their life. Dark, brooding, introspective types fascinate me. I have always been able to empathise with this type of person as I have experienced my own difficulties with anxiety, bouts of light depression and am becoming a social worker. It is not until recently that I’ve been able to adequately actualize my thoughts, experiences and coping techniques one must employ when they are in love with somebody who probably cannot love them back in the same way.

I aim not to detract from the experiences of the person with depression, or even contend that my experience as a partner of someone who is depressed is remotely anywhere near as awful and lamenting as their experience. But to provide perspective to the many, many partners who have sat in silence with their loved one, watching them eat for the first time in 2 days because their brain has been a fog and their muscles hurt and their bed is the only safe space for them to hide in.

When you’re in love with someone who has depression, it can seem really life changing to connect with someone who was previously unable to connect with anyone else. You feel special because your presence makes their bad days less frequent and good days more common. When you’re in love with someone who has depression you swear to yourself that you will never see them for their illness but for the intelligent, dynamic and thoughtful person that they are. That chain of thought usually stays strong and true right until the end.

When you’re in love with someone who has depression, the seemingly lonely and isolating disease somehow manages to wrangle you in too. Their bad days become your bad days as well. Instead of going out on a date to the movies or going to a restaurant, sometimes your together time is just lying in your bed cuddling for three hours at 2 pm, because that’s all the energy they can muster. Depression depletes your energy and sends waves of lethargy and exhaustion crashing through both your bodies. When the person you are in love with has depression, you don’t sleep because the conversation you had with them earlier today went along the lines of them not seeing the point of being alive anymore. You don’t sleep, because life without the person you are in love with seems more excruciating than the pain you are feeling for them currently. And the anxiety this causes for you turns into compulsions- if you don’t think about them, their disease and caring for them, then bad things will happen to them. You feel the need to be constantly thinking how you can help them next.

When you are in love with someone who has depression, sometimes, but not always, your phone conversations for a week or two will revolve around them scheduling their appointments with a new psychiatrist, contacting the Disability Support Liason at University, their 3 doctors appointments and their visit to hospital for routine tests. You are their pillar of support, because you love them.

In retrospect it is easy to see that the way I tried to handle myself and my partners depression was not healthy or sustainable. By the end of several relationships, I was left feeling exhausted and depleted of my coping tools and ability to look after my own wellbeing. If your partner has depression, I can recommend seeking your own counselor who can equip you with some skills to learn to cope. Nobody teaches you how to look after yourself, when you look after others. And you cannot be the best support system for someone else if your own mental health is impacted from his or her depression. While I was in Canada I joined a 12 week Mindfulness Based Stressed Reduction course that helped with my severe and debilitating anxiety over my ex boyfriend’s depression.

I have never regretted choosing to pursue a relationship with someone who has depression, mostly because their illness is not what made them attractive to me. I do however regret not establishing firm boundaries and support networks when I chose to become someone’s lover and sometimes carer. Despite its symptom’s depression is not a solitary or selfish disease. It affects everyone in the individual’s support network and is by no means the individual’s fault.

Set your boundaries. Have your own support system in place. And understand despite how much you love them, how many hours you cuddle them for, you will never be able to cure them. They are the only person alive who holds the key to their own healing.

How university exchange has changed me

1 Apr

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The middle-class sabbatical of University exchange is something I’ve realized I’m not very good at. I’m good at plenty of things like getting people to reveal deep secrets, eating dumplings, singing and dancing to soul music. But I’m rather bad at doing middle class white girl rites of passage in regular fashion, like the time I went to ‘schoolies’ in Byron bay and joined a cult for a week or accidentally became a Christian for a while over the 2009 Christmas holidays. In irregular Lou fashion, my time on exchange has been, a quirky one at that.

You see I have really enjoyed my time overseas. I have met some inspiring, humans, like my manager at the Women’s Centre, Nadine- a woman who possesses a kind, fierce, super human soul and warms the room with every sincere word she says. Or the 90 year old Wiccan, first nations, tarot card reader who I happened upon in Seattle. Who up to this point has made some weirdly correct predictions about my life and my loved ones.

 But here’s a couple of reasons why my exchange has been a little different from what I expected:

I’ve nearly stopped drinking alcohol while on exchange

 That’s right, I’m an exchange student who has just about stopped drinking. Sure, it doesn’t sound too radical but the culture of university exchange is so embedded in what is technically considered ‘long term binge drinking’, a regular activities with my friends can consist of going to a pub/drinking venues on a Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday evening. To stop drinking, despite nearly all your social interactions with the greater university community relying on the presence of alcohol is a really difficult thing. Never in my life has bed at 11.30pm been so seductive.

 I have begun meditating.

That’s right, I started meditating, everyday. Who travels across the world ready for crazy party adventures and instead finds themselves in bliss and solitude? Me. My weekly 4 hour Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Class (MBSR…google it) has taught me so many skills to control anxiety, depression and homesickness. Without it, I’m not sure I could have lasted up until this point in time in Canada. I have managed a silent 6 hour meditation workshop, a silent weekend retreat is up next in Melbourne.

I suffered a bout of depression and anxiety

There’s a strange expectation (delusion?) when you go on exchange that many of your problems will simply dissipate or stay at home waiting for you. My anxiety while on exchange has probably been sitting at it’s worst in over two years. When you move countries, attend a new university, move into a new home, make new friends and then live through a Canadian winter, life can become extremely tough and disjointed. Thoughts about people in your home country ruminate and become obsessive, your new friends are lovely but you don’t want to burden them and the world despite all the beautiful privileges you have been given can become grey and lifeless. Luckily enough, everything passes. And what was a difficult time, on reflection was also a brilliant strength and coping exercise.

I learnt to play the ukulele

Yep. Having no job and studying on a pass/fail basis makes plenty of time for new skills. And as a result of learning the ukulele I’ve been asked to perform in a group at the Melbourne Fringe Festival in September.

 

I have three weeks left of exchange and my 3 and a half months in Canada could probably be compared to the Rocky Mountains, (which I had the pleasure of exploring over the past 4 days)- modulating, intimidatingly beautiful summits, cloudy, fresh and healing. I have met some of the most inspirational women who are leaders of their own fields at my University, like Habiba my gender studies teacher who is a middle age Muslim woman from Bangladesh who holds a PHD and rocks an admirable FTP attitude. She smashed down every engrained stereotype of what a muslim WOC is ‘supposed’ to look like or think. A true inspiration. The admirable, tough women I have met through my time volunteering at the women’s centre has been a constant source of inspiration and comfort whenever I felt lonely, overwhelmed by sexism or needed a cup of tea and a piece of cake.

My time is not quite yet finished here, and I have plans to tear the New Orleans Jazz festival up at the end of exams. But as I start to clear out my small room on residence I can say that my time on exchange was simultaneously difficult and rewarding. And I would strongly recommend it to anybody who has flirted with the idea of flipping their life upside down and moving across the world for 4 or so months.

P.s final word of advice; if you are in a romantic relationship either break up with your partner before you leave or go into it on an ‘open’ basis, so if you happen to kiss somebody or become involved with another then you’re not ‘cheating’. Of all the relationships that have kept on going while over here (and that’s not many) those are generally the ones in an ‘open’ style relationship . But then again, just because you’re on exchange doesn’t mean you’re going to get a whole lot of sexy loving’ cuddles from hot men/women. Trust me.

 

 

I’ve had it with ‘blue-balls’

25 Nov wpid-2013-08-31-12.12.26.jpg

Listen up I have some things to say; so gather your girdles, hold on to your ball sack and listen to the gospel- FUCK BLUE BALLS, conceptually not literally.

As a ‘boner-fied’ boner killer, it’s my public service to denounce tactics of foul sexual play and coercion, that have probably crept into your underpants at some stage in the not so fair game we call sex.
These ‘tactics’ may have made you feel used, pressured or guilted into sex at some stage or maybe you only engaged in sex or some form of interaction so your partner would leave you alone. Sure, you technically consented to the event, heck you may have even enjoyed it, but the tactics used on you are calculated and you’ve probably been sexually coerced. Maybe you haven’t, that’s great, well done on establishing a healthy, adult relationship with no power struggles, but you should continue reading anyway.

Sexually coercive behaviour involves the use of manipulative (i.e. seductive or verbal manipulation) or forceful (i.e. physically forceful) tactics to pressure another person into engaging in sexual activity despite their initial unwillingness to do so (Campbell, 2013). You don’t need to rape someone, or seriously sexually assault someone to be coercive. For example, persisting that your partner engages in sexual activity with you when they originally said ‘no’ and not stopping until they say yes, is a form of sexual coercion. Sexual coercion is not a binary, black and white concept, severity of coercive techniques range from less threatening off-handed comments to serious sexual assault. Therefore sexual coercion operates on a fluid, ever-changing scale, subject to individuals consent and understanding of the situation.

Up until 2 weeks ago I didn’t know sexual coercion existed, I thought it was either sexual assault or consent, in the eyes of the law. It did not occur to me the pressure I sometimes felt to engage in sexual activity with partners when I didn’t really want to is sexual coercion. It did not occur to me that every-time a male guilted me into having sex with them because they would get “blue-balls”, the build-up of seminal fluid in his tubes resulting in uncomfortable pressure, was sexual coercion. Well, BLUE-BALLS CAN GO AND GROW SOME HANDS AND JERK THEMSELVES OFF.

If you’re reading this, and have been in a situation where your partner complained about getting blue-balls because you wanted to stop engaging in some form of sexual activity, but you continued anyway, you’re dating a real ass-hole. Dump that jerk, go to the cinema and watch the new Hunger Games, emulate Jennifer Lawrence and nurture yourself. Be sure to nurture yourself real good. Honour and respect your body, it’s the only thing keeping us together.

If you’re a male, who at any stage may have even ‘joked’ about having blue-balls or not being able to sleep because you have a massive erection, well then, use those jerky hands and get yourself off, let her sleep. You Jerk.

Sexual coercion occurs in all types of relationships, whether that is in a queer or hetero setting. Women are often perpetrators of sexual coercion too. My experience as cis-hetero, white female  only lends to a particular set of experiences.

Sexual Coercion is verbal too- every-time your partner says things like,“You’re never in the mood” or becomes sulky when you won’t engage with them physically is a sexually coercive tool. It’s plain immature and selfish. Maybe you have experienced situations where you willingly engaged in a sexual activity, like it’s some form of quota, because,“that’s what happens on Wednesday nights”. Maybe you agreed to “just lie there”, because they were persistent and would not leave you alone. Maybe you agreed to let him enter you without a condom because he apparently, “can’t get it up”, and then you spent the next 48 hours fretting whether you should take the morning after pill- of course at your own financial cost.

Sexual coercion is too common. I hate it and find that it often results in immense feelings of disempowerment and guilt.

So let’s have a conversation about consent. Not 75% consent or 84% consent, but 100% consent. The butterflies in our stomach should flutter and flight because we’re excited and happy to have a magnificent human in our company, not because we’re fretting over taking a pregnancy test tomorrow morning after class.

And Blue-Balls can go and die in fiery pit of scrotums.

Lou ‘boner-slayer’
Mapleston

Andrew Bolt’s reply to my open letter “Re: Higher Education Cuts and student rally”

31 Oct
*Yesterday I wrote an open letter to right wing social commentator, about the large student demonstrations in Melbourne on the 30th of October against the Liberal Government’s attack on higher education. You can find that link here:  http://loumapes.wordpress.com/2013/10/30/an-open-letter-to-andrew-bolt/ Andrew replied swiftly with this response, childish don’t you think? * 
“You are  spoiled and selfish. You incited the violence, not police, with your tweets. I saw the police pelted with the shows you urged protesters to bring. Have the guts to take responsibility. Why should those men and women be attacked and humiliated just because you want more of other people’s money?
You say you are sick of being told so often you are greedy. Maybe you are told that so often because you are.Andrew Bolt

I think we should contact Mr. Bolt further and see if he can write a coherent response to any of the points I brought up in my letter!

An open letter to Andrew Bolt- Re: Higher Education Cuts and student rally

30 Oct

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Dear Andrew,

We don’t know each other personally, but seeing as you are extremely concerned that I’m trying to “grab more of your money” to fund my tertiary education I thought we should acquaint ourselves- like a world vision child and their sponsor, right?

I should introduce myself, it would only be rude not to; I am an ‘angry’, ‘ungrateful’, ‘childish’ university student. Apart from being angry, ungrateful etc. other name is Louise and I’m in my 3rd year of a Health promotion and Public Health degree at Monash University. I am a member of the Victorian Education Action Network and have been working solidly over the past year to defend students from 3 billion dollars worth of cuts to higher education and more recently Pyne’s plan to decimate student unions, cap university places and ensure students from disadvantaged backgrounds cannot make it to university.

Like all angry University students, on Wednesday I attended the public demonstration in the Melbourne CBD against Pyne and Abbott’s inquiry into higher education. But I think you know that as you borrowed my Facebook conversation and photo for your “Students menace Hockey to grab more of your money” (30/10) article yesterday- no worries mate. Wednesday’s demonstration quickly fell out of hand, as the police officers incited violence among protesters, many of whom were passively chanting in the background or filming the event on their mobile phones. It was upsetting and utterly distressing to see friends of mine be tackled to the ground, face in the concrete and forbidden from receiving medical attention when rendered unconscious. The violence was unnecessary and I hope to never witness a similar scene ever again.

I mentioned before that I was angry and like a kettle needing to blow off some steam I’m about to spout. I’m angry at members of society, like you Andrew, who are labelling young people of today ‘ungrateful’, ‘selfish’, ‘dole-bludgers’ and any other profanity that is deemed suitable for a Fu*k Tony Abbott T-shirt. Our right to an affordable tertiary education is in serious jeopardy, the last time an inquiry by the Liberals was launched into Higher Education HECS increased twice. I’m angry because many Australians complain they dislike their tax going towards welfare and public utilities like Centrelink, Medicare and various benefits. The link between welfare dependence, health outcomes and low-levels of education are extremely clear. Investing in higher education ensures all Australian’s can receive an adequate education and are less likely to be reliant on these public services in the future.

I am angry because I’m sick of being told that my peers and I are ungrateful for what we already have and should ‘go and get a job’ or ‘experience the real world’. I have two part-time jobs, maintain a distinction average at University and volunteer at detention centre, a local Lions club, the Victorian Education Action Network and work in children’s cancer wards as a fairy. My mother and father are extremely proud of me. My parents and many of my tutors at University never had a student debt and received a range of commonwealth assistance throughout their degrees. The Whitlam era ensured people like my mother, who grew up in working class Footscray could rise out of relative poverty and attend University. Pyne’s plan to drop targets for disadvantaged Australian’s to attend universities and cutting of start-up scholarships is only propagating a cycle of systemic, relative poverty.

I have been told to ‘shut up and stop complaining’, ‘things aren’t that bad’. Well if we don’t make noise, write letters or attend protests the state of Australia’s higher education will quickly deteriorate. I care about my education and so should you.    

Louise

 

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