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Monthly Archives: June 2011

SlutWalk Aotearoa: a personal response

In the next day or so, Polly and I will be writing up an ‘official’ recap and response as organisers of SlutWalk Wellington for the SlutWalk Aotearoa website. But before I do that, I wanted to have a little bit of a personal reaction. There is much swearing ahead, and I apologise for that. I’m still buzzing.

SlutWalk was FUCKING AMAZING. Especially considering the drama I went through to get there — I was booked to fly with JetStar, who cancelled their flights due to the ash cloud… so on Thursday night I was booking an emergency flight with Air New Zealand for 11.30am the next morning, and I ended up ferrying from Wellington to Picton at the crack of dawn on Sunday morning and then BUSSING back to Christchurch.

It was so fucking worth it, though. I have never been hugged by so many strangers in all my life — some of them crying, some of them laughing, some of them both. The atmosphere was beyond incredible — I think this video on Stuff captures the feel of the crowd pretty well (trombones, roller skates, nun’s habits and corsets. It’s just another day for me!)

The speakers were so unbelievably fucking brave (and put my speech to shame well quick!), the crowd were supportive and encouraging and just fucking awesome. The media were generally respectful (although I wish they’d stop writing about scantily-clad protesters – goddamn!) and there was little backlash from the public. The weather couldn’t have been more perfect if we’d ordered it. All in all, a fucking incredible day and it was an honour and a privilege to be a part of it.

To Polly and Coley — I couldn’t have fucking done it without you, you are two of the most fantastic people I have ever met and I look forward to getting to know you both better as time goes on. I couldn’t have asked for more love and support from you guys — you two are what made SlutWalk great.

Bring on next year!

 
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Posted by on June 28, 2011 in SlutWalk

 

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Alasdair Thompson tells it like it is

Employers and Manufacturers Association chief Alasdair Thompson has answered a question feminists have been struggling with for years – why is it that in this day and age, women still earn less than men?

Well, gee. Could it be that employers always assume that women are in it for a job, not a career, and that job will be dropped the second they fill their womb? Is it that women are consistently undermined in the office and often have to work much harder than their male counterparts to gain the same acceptance and respect? Could it be that many large corporations are still, in many ways, an old boys’ club? Is it that women are always assumed to be the primary caregiver, at all times, and therefore employers automatically assume that the mother will be the one to take the time off when their child is sick/has an important event at school/etc?

Nope.

Alasdair Thompson is sticking by his claim the gender pay gap is due to women having monthly “sick problems”, babies and needing to take extra leave.

…oh. Right.

Leaving aside the blatant cissexism of that statement for just a moment (not everyone who has a uterus is a woman and not all women menstruate, kthx): say it with me, Alasdair Thompson: period. We get our periods once a month. We menstruate. If you have to use ridiculous euphemisms to describe it, then as far as I’m concerned, you forfeit your right to discuss it.

Not to mention, the majority of people who menstruate don’t have to take time off once a month. Most, even if they do experience some cramps, can pop a Panadol and make it to work anyway.*

And babies? REALLY? This may come as a shock to you, Mr. Thompson, but some parents SHARE the responsibilities of their children. Also, solo fathers exist. Should we pay them less, too? And if there are still a shockingly disproportionate amount of working mothers who are still expected to take full- or almost-full responsibility for childcare, rather than sharing that equally with their partner — then blaming and underpaying women will not fucking help that, goddamn.

The issue of working mothers and pay rates for women is a vicious cycle. Women are paid less than men because their dedication to their career is seen as lesser, because ladies, your first priority is and must always be babies — but because they’re paid less, they are often the ones to give up working if their family situation calls for it (because them giving up work, or cutting back their hours, will make less of an impact due to the lower pay rate) — which just convinces employers that women are less dedicated to their careers than men… and over and over again.

So Alasdair Thompson, it would seem that you are woefully misinformed about the realities of the pay gap between men and women. And why shouldn’t you be? After all, it’s not like in your position, you would ever have to think about these things. Or be expected to make public statements on this very issue. Am I right?

No, wait. I don’t think I am.

*I am not one of those people. I have severe PCOS and am absolutely crippled by pain at least one day a month – usually two or three. I take a TON of sick days, comparative to my colleagues — who are mostly (over 90%) female. And yet, it doesn’t make a damn iota of difference to my pay rate — if I use up my allocated sick days, I can either take annual leave or have an unpaid day (I tend to take the annual leave). While realising this is in no way an option for everyone, taking a few days of unpaid sick leave each year will NOT drastically affect your salary in the way that, you know, discrimination will. Just saying.

 
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Posted by on June 23, 2011 in Reproductive/sexual health

 

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Speech Writing

It has been a long, long time since I’ve written a speech. The last one I wrote was about 5 years ago, and it was my speech for Year 12 English (I got an Excellence and won the school speech competition, TYVM.)

I don’t think I’ve ever written a speech to be read in front of 1,000+ people, AND the media, AND (probably) YouTube. And it’s nervewracking. Not the speaking part, strangely. I have no problem getting up in front of a thousand people and speaking.

But what I actually say? That’s the nervewracking part.

There has been so much controversy over SlutWalk. There are going to be a lot of people watching us closely, waiting for us to fuck up. And that’s a scary thought. It’s a lot of pressure – say the right thing, don’t exclude, don’t speak for anyone, don’t fuck up.

And I’m saying a lot in my speech. Mostly, it’s around “Why SlutWalk?” – as an organiser, it’s my job to answer that one. There are so many differing opinions as to “Why SlutWalk”, and the only one I can offer is my own.

But as the speech stands now, I don’t talk about my own assaults. I’m not sure if I can do it. But I don’t know how seriously I’ll be taken as an organiser if I don’t.

I need to finish this damn speech already.

 
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Posted by on June 21, 2011 in Personal, SlutWalk

 

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