Monthly Archives: June 2015

Why Do Women Rape Shame? #RapeCulture No No!

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Women who blame survivors of rape have always confounded me. As rape is most often a crime perpetrated against women, you would think that it would be something that we would be more supportive of. And as the statistics of rape against women are so high, again, you would think it would be something that we women as a whole would empathize with. So when I encounter women who blame the victim in cases of rape I have always scratched my head and wondered why. How is it that there are a few amongst us that continue to point the finger at the victim rather than the criminal?

How could a woman, a human being who knows what a violation this would be, how deeply scarring to the victims psyche, and how overpowered they were, possibly even think to say it must have been what the victim wore? How could they say it was what the victim said/ate/drove/went/did? They know damn well that with rape it is one person totally overpowering another human being and it doesn’t matter where you are, when you are there, what you are wearing, or any number of trivial details, if that person wants to over-power their victim they will. Rape is not about clothing, or timing, it is about someone violating another human being. I’m not saying men aren’t out there blaming the victim too. It disgusts me. Men who blame the victim disgust me, but seeing how this is a crime that is so often perpetrated against women it horrifies me to the absolute core that a fellow woman could blame another woman.

And here’s the thing, it isn’t just repulsive, disgusting women, who are amoral who have blamed the victim. A good friend of mine said to me when I was in high school, “There is no such thing as rape. You either end up agreeing or you die. There is no rape. If it happened, she ended up letting him do it.” This was not an awful, bitchy, nasty, vapid, friend, this was actually a good friend, one of the sweetest people I know. So if she could come out with that statement then there must be a reason why there is this notion that women are ultimately to blame for rape. Why does Rape Culture run so deep in not just our society but all over the world?

Well, today, 17 years later, I finally have a reason. Rape terrifies women. It is something that is so prevalent in our existence that it is not something that can simply be ignored. In certain areas the statistics are as high as 50%. Not all areas, but some are that high. And nowhere, and I mean nowhere, are the statistics so low that they can be ignored. This terrifies us, because we know we could be a victim. The numbers are not on our side that everybody we know will escape unscathed. Either us, or one of our daughters, cousins, sisters, or friends will be raped. Someone close to home will be violated in a most horrific manner. We know this. We try to put it aside, but we know this and it sickens and terrifies us. Different people have different ways of dealing with fear. Some get sad, some, get hysterical, some get angry, some get cold and clinical. There are a myriad of ways of dealing with fear. Unfortunately, some women deal with fear in a Oh hell no that isn’t happening to me, it could never happen to me, it must be that person’s fault, they can’t be blameless, because if they are blameless then that really could happen to me, I refuse to believe it could happen to me, I am sticking my fingers in my ears and blaming the victims and refusing to face my fear, kind of way. It’s not nice, it’s not helpful, and it only serves to make a woman who has been violated feel guilty and ashamed. Victims are going through enough, you should feel ashamed to try to put more heart ache at their feet. Scared or not, you should feel ashamed.

I hope as a society we can come together and stop blaming victims of crime. If you forgot to lock your car door, that does not give someone the right to take what is yours; if you accidentally left your phone at a checkout, that does not give the checkout assistant the right to steal your phone; if you walk down the street, that does not give someone the right to slit your throat; if you wear red lipstick, that does not give someone the right to rape you; if you trust someone, that does not give them the right to violate you. If you haven’t heard it from someone else, it is not your fault. You are only responsible for the negative actions that you commit, you are not responsible for the ugly things other people do to you. Stay strong, be kind, be the better person, because unfortunately, society as a whole isn’t ready to be better yet. I am truly sorry. And I am truly sorry for the ugly accusations that my fellow women have laid at your feet. They were scared. I hope they get better.

NOTE: I would like to state that rape happens to men and boys too but by and large it is a crime against women. I am not neglecting other victims in my thoughts, I am not even remotely stating they should be blamed and just women shouldn’t. This blog would be far too long for me to write if I were to detail the whole existence and history of rape. I also do not have the time or skill to do thorough enough research on this matter, the topic is too large, and far too sensitive to be left in my clumsy hands. All I can do is shine a light on this one epiphany that I had today and hope it brings greater understanding to someone. Sexual violence is a hideous thing that has been used as a means of torture, destruction and demoralisation throughout human history. I am utterly disgusted by it in every format. It is not the fault of the victim, it is the fault of the criminal.

And as the poster shared widely from http://www.thisisnotaninvitationtorapeme.co.uk/ says:

Top Tips to End Rape:

  1. Don’t put drugs in a person’s drink.
  2. When someone is walking by themselves, leave them alone.
  3. If you pull over to help someone whose car has broken down, don’t rape them.
  4. Never creep into a person’s home through an unlocked door or window or spring out from between cars and rape them.
  5. If you are in a lift and someone gets in, don’t rape them.
  6. Use the BUDDY SYSTEM, if you are not able to control yourself from assaulting people, ask a friend to stay with you while you’re in public to stop you.
  7. Don’t have sex with someone who is asleep or unconscious. That’s rape.
  8. Carry a whistle, if you are worried that you might assault someone, blow on it until someone comes to stop you.
  9. Remember honesty is the best policy. If you are going to have sex with someone who you are dating regardless of how they feel about it, let them know up front. That way they can run in the opposite direction and never see you again.
  10. Don’t rape anyone.
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#bookclubABC Drinking Game, 7 June 2015 – Kids, Don’t Try This At Home!

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@thebookclubABC just got real, yo. With guests like @Alancumming and @HelenJMacdonald exploring Mario Vargas Llosa’s jauntily burlesque, The Discreet Hero, and Enid ‘I like lashings of (ginger) beer’ Blyton’s Five on Treasure Island, you know that you’re in for a rollicking good time, so let’s liven things up with a retro fabulous idea… the time honoured drinking game. Enjoy… responsibly and only if you’re 18+ (21+ in some countries).

 

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Sip when:

  • the words froth, frothy, frothing, or frothiness are said.
  • the words sex, sexy, sexing, or sexiness are said.
  • the word translation, translate, translating or translator are said.

 

Drink when:

  • Kim Kardashian’s book is mentioned.
  • you discover a new skill that Alan Cumming’s has.
  • someone talks over the top of Helen MacDonald.

 

Chug when:

 

Finish the bottle when:

  • the episode turns into a children’s adventure show.
  • you start thinking of Star Trek.
  • nobody else is watching.

Be what you wanna be. Do what you wanna do. Read what you wanna read. Yeah!

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You know what I am tired of? The need for articles coming out in defense of Women’s Fiction, Speculative Fiction, Genre Fiction in general. Every day my newsfeed has multiple articles on this phenomenon, and sadly, they are still needed. For some reason people just cannot seem to get the point that we do not live in an English classroom where book titles are dictated by necessity so that knowledge and understanding can be tested in a standardized way that the government requires. In real life people can read and enjoy whatever they want… AND WHO THE HELL ARE YOU TO TELL THEM THAT THEY CANNOT!

Sorry guys, I know I went all caps there. It got scary, I was even a bit scared of my own emotions but this book shaming is really starting to get my goat. And if there is one thing regular followers of this blog know, it’s that I don’t like anyone looking at or touching my goat, let alone taking it. Don’t make me go all Liam Neeson on your arse over my goat. I have a terrible Irish accent and nobody will benefit from this scenario. Now let’s get back to the heavy stuff. You’ve had your levity break!

This morning a picture captioned “A call for respectful discussion of Fifty Shades of Grey – It is okay to and welcome to criticize a book. It is not okay to be a terrible person” was on my newsfeed. Yesterday an insightful article by Marian Keyes entitled, “Please can we stop saying ‘chick-lit'” caught my attention. For the former here’s what I have to say, love it or hate it, you have no right to dictate to someone what they enjoy reading. I love reading James Joyce. People often tell me I am a shameless wanker and that Joyce is likewise a wanker and hence we should just die in wankerhood together. It isn’t going to stop me loving James Joyce. His writing just really sits well with me. As does Julian Barnes. It doesn’t matter what you say, I will continue to love them, and read them and reread them. And although I quite happily debate the merits of Barnes and Joyce with people and am fine with people not loving them, when people resort to name calling and put downs it’s a bit much. Those people are poo poo heads, yes I get the irony. Same thing with Fifty Shades, lovers, if it vibes with them, if they enjoy it, if it gives them a moment’s escape from their lives, go for it. Love it, read it. Get inspired, go read more books, yeah! Go ahead, don’t like Fifty Shades, criticize it, but when you start being nasty to people who like it, well you’ve lost the argument, you’ve lost respect, you’ve lost yourself.

As for Marian Keyes plea – please stop saying Chick Lit, I both agree wholeheartedly yet disagree at the same time. Does Marian Keyes, hate chick lit? No, of course not. Is she saying it sucks? No, of course not. Is she pointing out that the term is used as a put down? Yes. Is it a put down? Yes and no. The term Chick Lit is often used by men and women alike, to put down works that focus on women. Novels in this genre tend to have successful female leads, with professional ambitions and a quirky group of friends, add to this a man often comes along and catches the lead characters eye. Then things of course get complicated, job goes to shit, fall out with friends, love interest goes all skewwhiff, then the strong female leads, pulls herself together, gets her groove back, gets her job back, gets her friends back and then the cherry on the cake, last of all, gets her man. Sounds a lot like real life, professional woman + career goals + crazy friends + a bit of romance. Hardly something that should be put down. I mean people rave about the Bronte sisters. They write about the same stuff. “Oh it is just silly fluff, about love,” you hear people say. Yeah, because love is just so stupid. Having meaningful connections is just ridiculous and would never happen in great literature. Dickens, Shakespeare, Virgil, none of these dudes would ever write about silly love stories. To be honest, typically in Chick Lit the love interest is actually the icing on the cake. Don’t get me wrong, frosting is important, I like me a big chunk of butter cream. If I have the choice between frosted or unfrosted… well let’s just call me Elsa. But the female lead tends to have to sort out her career and friends first. That is the priority, it’s not that the love interest doesn’t get a lot of the word count dedicated to them, but the priority, the first things first, goes to career and bat shit crazy friends. Where would we be without out friends? How could we pay rent without our job? It’s a bit realistic isn’t it? Sure it gets mashed up with wit and humour but there’s a lot of deep stuff in Chick Lit, but there is a lot of truth and tragedy included. So why put it down? The answer is quite simply, because we live in a society that trivializes women and their experiences, and for women to get ahead they almost have to turn on their own kind. The bagging of the term Chick Lit is simply a manifestation of that. So as far as I can see you can call it whatever you like, Commercial Women’s Fiction, Women’s Fiction, Chick Lit, Clit Lit, Vagraphy (okay I made that one up, I just wanted to use vag somewhere for my own amusement), the same issue will arise. People will put it down. People, what a bunch of bastards. Hopefully society progresses, that’s what needs to happen, and we are getting there, but until then, no matter how many terms we throw at stories for and about women, they will get trivialized. They’ll sell, because us bitches be smart and good with the books and the learning and stuff, but it’ll be marginalized.

Whoa. Robin, what just happened? Did you just go all overt feminist on our arses. Yeah, I kind of did. Commercial Women Writers tend to do that. Sorry. We give you plenty of shits and giggles, but we give you a message too. Let’s just take a deep breath and hug it out.

There’s Something About @KateForsyth

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Happy birthday Kate. Geminies are lovely. My three year old is one. I’m not biased at all… Those are my baby boys in the pic.

Albert Einstein said, “If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.” Well it would seem that birthday girl, Dr of Fairy Tales Kate Forsyth, has made it her mission to make the world a more intelligent place one book at a time. She came to Fairy Tale notoriety when she published Bitter Greens in 2012 and has gone on to release The Wild Girl, about Dortchen Wild one of the sources that the Grimm brothers used, and most recently The Beast’s Garden. Now of course before she released these three tombs Kate Forsyth was a well established author with 20+ titles under her belt. Not only is she a writing juggernaut, but is also one of Australia’s most recognized and most well liked authors who regularly teaches fledgling writers. Even little old me. So I thought for today, seeing how it is fabulous Dr Forsyth’s birthday, we should show her some love back, lord knows she needs it, she must be exhausted from all the writing and teaching she does. So I’m going to share some of my favourite Kate Forsyth quotes that I have memefied (is that a word?). I would love to see yours too.

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That’s me reading on my honeymoon.

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@dougcoupland speaks to @mmccwill at the #SydneyWritersFestival

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imageDouglas Coupland,  unless you’ve been living under a rock you’ve probably heard of him. He’s the dude that coined the term Generation X. Turns out he went on to do a whole bunch of other profound stuff too… like write 14 novels and is an artist etc. Who knew. I was lucky enough to get a ticket to one of his talks at the Sydney Writers’ Festival, Writing that Defines Modern Culture. He was interviewed by Michael Williams, who is the same age as me and is director of the Wheeler Centre, what have I been doing with my life?

I found Douglas Coupland to be an amazing speaker, not only is his voice the opiate of the masses (his voice is so calm and lilting it nearly drugs you into blind acceptance), but also he is just so deeply profound. Either that or he’s an expert in delivering sound bites. I’ll give you a few of his amazing quotes at the end of this entry but first I’d like to really focus on one comment that he made that really got me thinking. Douglas Coupland said, “When one medium is eclipsed by another it allows the old medium to become an art-form.” Now he was talking about the Internet superseding television. We used to get our news, our water cooler talk, our quick entertainment from the television, these days we get it from the Internet. Sure the television is still there, just as are books, radio, and movies, but the Internet has really invaded our lives. And through this ability for the Internet to cater for our immediate gratification it has allowed television to really step up. We have so many gorgeous shows these days, written by novelists, starred in by film and theatre actors, composed by award winning musicians. Give Tom Perrotta a Google for a sterling example of a greater writer in any format. We’re having a bit of a golden age of television. And it’s fabulous. Sure we have plenty of crap on television but there is also some beautiful stuff that really makes you think.

Now part of the reason why this got me so interested, aside from my love of golden age cinema and television, was that this same argument could be had around paper books and epublishing. Many traditionally published authors have spoken critically (a few darn right cruelly) about epublishing. They have claimed it is the ruin of reading, and that through the end of traditional publishing. That people self publishing ebooks for 99c will bring about the apocalypse of books, totally devaluing reading and leading to a wasteland of illiterate morons who don’t know what good literature is. Good literature being what big publishing houses allow, and there is no room in this argument for it to be otherwise… Or is there? Does this rise of new epublishing quickies for 99cents give immediate gratification for those who want it? Does it allow the consumer to have what they want and the ewriter to produce what they want. Is it like a quick and wonderful friendship between consumer and producer where they are both giving and getting what they want? And is this bad for traditional publishing or good? Perhaps this rapid fire exchange has actually allowed the paper book to step up and become an art-form? It is time to put some of that old fashioned love and dedication back into traditional publishing. That same love that resulted in embossed covers, gilded pages, artworks of breath taking beauty. Now I’m not suggesting that this needs to be done again, just putting that same level of thought and dedication into the system will provide far greater accomplishment than any amount of finger pointing at new systems. As Douglas Coupland has said himself, “Blame is just a lazy person’s way of making sense of chaos.” Stop blaming, stop shaming, start loving and giving.

When the radio came out people cried that there would be an end to reading, when VHS came out people cried that there would be an end to the movies, when epublishing came out people have cried it will be an end to books and world order… How about we all just calm down. How about seeing new technology as an opportunity for you to use. Don’t quit, step up your game. And if you can’t, maybe your game wasn’t that good to begin with.

Now as promised, the awesome sound bites:

  • “Words are art supplies.”
  • “There is nothing that we make that isn’t an expression of our humanity.”
  • “We are in the middle of an attribution crisis.”
  • “Publicity has turned into extortion.”
  • “Looking people up used to be considered stalky, now it’s rude not too.”
  • “Younger people are different than they have ever been before, but so are older people.”
  • “Oh English Language, you are a minx.”
  • “People are predictably surprising.”
  • Researching Google is like, “crowd surfing this bath of humanity.”
  • Researching what people search on Google makes, “you want to give humanity a great big hug.”
  • “Things get better after you’re 40.”

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And finally, when I asked Douglas Coupland to sign my book he complimented my bag, which has an image of my family as Lego minifigures emblazoned on it. So Doug, this little pic is for you, because who doesn’t love disco?