Duality: Race Perception in Australia

As a white Australian, I feel ill-equipped to speak on behalf of an entire people. But, as a user of social media, I can confidently write that I am continually frustrated by the double standard of prejudice I see in the country I was born in.

It is a strange kind of irony that Australians show open disgust at the lack of diversity at the Oscars -an elitist awards event far removed from the everyday reality of Australians - yet show no real compassion for the segregation issues so often observed at home. But, there is hope in the artwork of ACT High School student, Ineka Voigt. ‘Stolen Dreamtime’ featured as the Australia Day logo for the world’s most used website. Google explained the logo choice; “In response to the theme of ‘If I could travel back in time I would…’ Ineka wrote “… I would reunite mother and child. A weeping mother sits in an ochre desert, dreaming of her children and a life that never was… all that remains is red sand, tears and the whispers of her stolen dreamtime”.

The sketch should remind non-Indigenous Australians of the cost others have paid for their privilege. Rather than reflecting the hateful “If you don’t live it, leave it” nonsense posted too often on social media, Ineka’s illustration artfully reflects what should be recognised clearly as the day of dispossession it is.

In the UK, Asylum seekers’ doors are being painted red to identify their houses to the community. Today a law was passed in Denmark allowing refugees to be stripped of their possessions to cover the cost of their asylum. To this day, Aboriginal Australians fail to be recognised in the country’s Constitution.

Left in the hands of an aging generation, it seems that legitimate respect for difference is getting further from possible. I look ahead and see all of the mistakes my generation will be apologising for. So, it is fitting that the truth of our history is best reflected on Australia day through the eyes of a child already disillusioned by the views and actions of previous generations.




Public Breastfeeding and Desexualising the Debate

Youtube star, Jay Salads recently posted a social experiment video that sought to highlight the duality between the use of breasts as sexual objects vs. their intended use; to sustain an infant.

This issue has been highlighted more frequently recently with Trollstation posting a video that went viral. An actress, Amina, can be seen being abused on the London Tube. A man (also an actor) aggressively harassed her for ‘exposing herself’. The experiment sought to understand how the public would react. Fortunately, other commuters were quick to defend Amina, arguing that she has the right to feed her child despite his objections. But do these social experiments raise more questions than they answer?

At what point did breasts stop being recognised as the natural source of food they are? Are breasts only acceptable as sexualised objects for male pleasure? Arguably, the media and the beauty industry have succeeded in objectifying women’s bodies, but at what point did common sense disappear from the debate? Why is what men deem appropriate still the measure for acceptable female behaviour?

Chantel Molnar writes for Huffington Post about this duality. “We don't seem to have any problem with the duality of our mouths, which can be for sex and for eating. We do not make people cover their heads with a blanket when they are eating in public simply because the mouth is frequently used sexually.”

A forum on Medical News Today sought to give equal weight to both sides of the debate. While one user stated that breastfeeding publicly is “natural and healthy,” another likened it to women urinating and defecating in the street.

Molnar asks, where do we make room in society for mother-work? Economically speaking, the role of breastfeeding threatens a mother’s role as an active market consumer. This places her at the mercy of big pharma-culture with the purchase of expensive, synthetic formula. Where, breastfeeding wholly empowers the mother, turning her from purchaser of goods to the sole producer of the food that sustains her baby.

WABA – the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action suggests that society as a whole simply fails to acknowledge a complete definition of women’s work which would successfully integrate the full productive capabilities and activities of women, including breastfeeding.

Perhaps, a fully integrated economic definition of the role that women play in the production of humans, would desexualise the debate once and for all.




The Power of 'Teeny-Bopper' Music

When someone asks you, “What music do you listen to?” the response may vary, but more often than not, you will avoid pop as the go to answer. Rock, EDM, Jazz, Classical music; anything is better than to say pop. And even if a person enjoys pop, it is better to say Beyonce, who everyone loves, or Taylor Swift, who everyone fears, anything but the blanket term, trashy identifier: pop. To listen to pop, unironically, is to admit that, in Bourdieu’s cultural capital, you are an uncultured swine. And what is the worse subgenre of pop, but teeny bopper music?

Teeny bop pop is music marketed for young teenage girls, or alternatively, what teenage girls listen to. For example, the popularity of The Beatles was elevated to standards not seen before, because of the passion teenage girls devoted to the boy band. This is reflected in the same global success that One Direction has received, success at the expense of the ‘teeny boppers’’ reputation and credit. One can listen to ‘What Makes You Beautiful’ with irony, because then, one acknowledges that pop music, namely teeny bopper music, is not ‘real’ music, and general consensus is reached. But to listen to One Direction, seriously and god forbid, passionately, is ridiculous. Why the stain on teeny bopper music?

Simply, anything associated with teenage girls, with their passions and their hobbies, is trivialised in society. And what better way to affirm it than in the disregard of music that they actively support and listen to? A man’s passion for a stereotypically masculine hobby, such as sports, is completely normalised. Wearing the jersey of your favourite sports team, going with your friends to the stadium, waking up at 5am to watch the Rugby World Cup; none of these rituals are ridiculed or teased about. Instead, wearing a One Direction t-shirt, owning any of their merchandise, following ‘trends’ that support One Direction and going to their concerts, is sacrilege. The top definition for teeny bopper in urban dictionary is “Stupid girls of ages 10-14 who squeal and giggle so much that Satan is willing to drag them back to hell…They like pink and listen to stupid bubblegum pop.” The fact one of their identifiers is they “like pink,” stereotypically associated with femininity, shows the very reason for the ridicule of teeny bopper music: it is aimed for a feminine audience, and therefore, it should not be taken seriously. No, unlike hypermasculine displays of gender in rock and metal, teeny bopper music, marketed for young girls, can’t be ‘real music’.

When I listened to One Direction’s recently released 5th album ‘Made in the A.M,’ I was astounded by how mature it was. Lyrics ,written by them, told stories of standard promiscuity, seen in ‘Love You Goodbye’ and ‘Temporary Fix,’ to surprisingly sombre ruminations, in ‘Walking in the Wind’ and ‘A.M’ to startling personal reflections of the boyband’s lifestyle “cameras flashing every time we go out” in ‘Perfect’ and the importance of their fans, and Zayn? (the fifth member that left in March this year) in ‘History.’ These lyrics aren’t mindless junk, churned out by a mass generator and applied to catchy riffs like you’d expect. They’re complex and subtle, with dark tones, like in Wolves: “headed straight for your heart/ Like a bullet in the dark,” and sometimes humorous, like the play on words, “I live for you, I long for you, Olivia” making ‘Olivia’ a pun for ‘I love you.’ The slow tempo of ‘If I Could Fly’ and ‘A.M’ juxtapose with the catchy anthems ‘Drag Me Down’ (already released as a single) and ‘Temporary Fix.’ One Direction’s teeny bopper music is surprisingly mature for something that is often undermined and cast aside.

If ‘Made in the AM’ is anything to go by, teeny bopper music deserves far more credit than what people have given them. It has provided a platform for teenage girls to express their passion, and to negotiate their identities in a society fraught with expectations. The ridicule given to ‘teeny boppers’ and the music they support, lies in the root of who we are; how we treat and devalue teenage girls, and what their worth is in society.





We’ve all heard it before, being told that we ‘throw like a girl’, ‘fight like a girl’, ‘run like a girl’, ‘cry like a girl – they’re all used in a derogatory manner to imply weakness and yet American company, Always have partnered with award-winning documentary filmmaker, Lauren Greenfield to create a video and social experiment questioning what the phrases mean to adults and conversely, to children.

While the adults act out exactly what we’ve come to associate with the phrases, accompanied by giggling, the children do something far more profound. All between the ages of five and thirteen, they respond with fierce punches, runs that start with a launch and a fearlessness completely absent in the adult group.

After being shown the younger group’s reactions, the adult group seemed shocked and are forced to reflect on their response and how the phrases have attained such a negative connotation

One participant says: "I think being insulted with 'like a girl' definitely drops girls' self-confidence and really puts them down’(via)

Another participant points out: "Why can't 'run like a girl' still mean 'win the race'?"(via)

Greenfield wanted to redefine the phrases: “I am excited to be a part of the movement to redefine 'like a girl' into a positive affirmation." (via)

Strong is the New Pretty

Photographer Kate Parker's images are enigmatic. Strong and fierce, her snaps (most specifically in her project 'Strong is the New Pretty' depict more than just her daughters going about their everyday life, they show the power of confidence, of childhood innocence and what Kate Parker describes as their 'silly, adventurous, frustrated, happy, loud, athletic, fierce, funny selves.'

Her project is all about determining worth based on something stronger and more important than looks. That strength and character should be the goal, not the proper application of makeup or how many protruding ribs you can count. She wants her girls, and all girls to be celebrated, not for being photogenic or for being this week's news but for being simply who they are. 

Check out the photos in this post and then view the rest at her website!

My Beautiful Struggle - Jordan Bone

After a slew of critical comments on her video blog about the way she uses her hands and holds her brushes, this beauty vlogger created a video for her taunters and for anyone out there who has been victimised via similar circumstances to reveal what she hides from the camera. 

A car accident a decade ago left her a tetraplegic with her hands unable to move. Unable to move herself or dress herself, she was determined to be able to do one thing really well, to still be able to show people the real her as she'd always appeared, if only from the neck up. 

She taught herself new ways to hold brushes, asserted new control over the parts of her body that previously defied it and now is a successful beauty vlogger. 

We think her journey is an incredible one and one that should motivate you, whatever your goal to learn that no matter the roadblocks on your journey, it just takes looking at it from a new angle, determination and creativity to find new ways to press on to that achievement. 

Watch her video below.