Why Didn’t She Report It?

She did.

  • Because she was found, bleeding and crying, by someone who took her to security
  • Because the nice security guard asked her what had happened
  • Because the police came, and were gentle
  • Because the adults responsible for her came, and were sympathetic
  • Because she thought she was safe

Why didn’t she tell the doctor everything?

  • Because she didn’t want him to touch her
  • Because he was matter-of-fact, and she was embarrassed by the words
  • Because she had her period, and thought that would disguise what had been done
  • Because she had swallowed, and thought that meant consent
  • Because it had been a stick inside her, and she thought that meant it wasn’t rape
  • Because she had a headache, and was in pain, and needed to sleep

Why didn’t the police act?

  • Because it was her word against his
  • Because she and he had been laughing together the night before
  • Because she didn’t have the words to describe what had happened
  • Because she was unclear about the order in which he did the things
  • Because she was two days past her sixteenth birthday
  • Because he lived in another State
  • Because when she said she just wanted to go home, they believed her

Why didn’t she press harder?

  • Because she couldn’t remember all of it
  • Because she was away from home, and didn’t want to make a scene
  • Because rapists were strangers and he wasn’t a stranger and maybe she’d led him on the night before
  • Because she was asked ‘Why did you leave the path?’
  • Because she was asked ‘How many times did you say ‘no’?’
  • Because she was asked ‘Why didn’t you scream?’
  • Because it was 10 o’clock in the morning, in winter, in public
  • Because she was embarrassed by her period
  • Because it was her period that made him push her head down
  • Because it was her period that made him use the stick

Why didn’t she tell her friends?

  • Because they weren‘t there
  • Because they weren’t friends, just people who tolerated her
  • Because she didn’t have the words
  • Because they wouldn’t understand
  • Because she was ashamed

Why didn’t she tell her parents?

  • Because the responsible adults told her she didn’t need to
  • Because the police said she didn’t have to if she didn’t want to
  • Because she thought they would do things, and she just wanted it not to be real
  • Because by the time she understood how the adults had let her down, she couldn’t hurt her parents like that

Why didn’t she speak out later?

  • Because she didn’t remember enough
  • Because she was damaged
  • Because the damage was irreversible, even after she thought it was behind her
  • Because she eventually told the one person who counted
  • Because the doctor who told her she couldn’t bear children turned out to be wrong
  • Because her parents were still alive
  • Because she didn’t have the words
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The horror of conservative thinking

A couple of weeks ago, a young relative was shaking out her fledgling debating feathers. Like most early teens, her worldview is starkly painted in black and white, anchored by a belief that all ‘bad’ views can be counteracted and corrected by exposure to ‘good’ views based on ‘proof’.

I came across this excerpt from an article in The Daily Caller on Twitter yesterday (h/t @robrousseau). It reminded me of that discussion with my young relative. At the time, I thought she did a great job holding her ground, and that given time, her black-and-white worldview would blossom into riotous colour. Which is the way I think it should be.

But this article made me wonder: what if I am as stuck within my own worldview as the author of this piece?

And then I thought: well, what if I am? I don’t want to live in this woman’s world. I want a different world: one in which all people have a right to health, education and the means to feed and shelter themselves. This doesn’t make the author’s view invalid. I just disagree with it. Strongly. But she’s an adult, so I’m unlikely to change her view. I have to co-exist with it.

Children, on the other hand, are different. Their views are not fully formed. It’s important that we teach them, not to follow our own ideologies blindly, but to think independently and critically about the world. They are the drivers of change. The world is rapidly transforming, and we need our children equipped to deal with that, and to think in new ways that we struggle with, because our neural networks are well-established and new pathways are harder to construct.

Teaching our children to think critically may have unexpected consequences, like – oh heresy! – I might turn out to be wrong. But I still think we should be encouraging our young thinkers to progress from monotone to full-colour world building. Otherwise, we go nowhere.

Lunchbox Patrol

Nobody’s lunchbox ever

From time to time, a story pops up about how a childcare centre or kindergarten has taken it upon itself to assess the contents of a child’s lunchbox and found it lacking. A note, commonly pre-printed and often featuring frowny faces, animated fruits and/or other helpful illustrations, is sent home with the child advising that an item or items in the lunchbox is ‘unhealthy’ in some way and that in future a ‘healthier’ option should be chosen. Outrage ensues.

I seldom lend my voice to the chorus, but not because I don’t have an opinion on the subject. In fact, I feel quite strongly about it, although not necessarily for the same reasons that others do. The usual arguments cluster around (a) parental rights; (b) nanny state interference with those rights; and (c) what constitutes ‘healthy’. You may also find discussion of fat-shaming, socio-economic privilege, judgmental attitudes, power-tripping teachers and hyper-competitive parents, depending on the forum. At some point, inevitably, ‘political correctness run mad’ will make an appearance.

My take? Lunchbox monitoring is an exercise of limited utility, because it can only ever be part of a bigger picture which the carer or teacher does not see. Lunchboxes are only part of a whole day’s food, and that day’s food is part of a wider week’s food. Add in variables such as developmental stages, behavioural management strategies, family customs and gatherings, parental working hours and out-of-school activities, and the picture is much more complex than a carer or teacher can hope, or be expected, to be fully across. Continue reading

On Leia and Lightsabers

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Image source: Carrie Fisher’s Dog @Gary_TheDog

I would have been eight or nine when I saw Star Wars at the cinema. It was the last movie my family ever attended together. After that, it was kid or kids with mum or dad, but never all of us, ever again.

We kids were excited. We argued about what the promos meant. We were suitably alarmed by the dark helmeted, deep-voiced scary guy, who we thought was the titular ‘Star Wars’. No, it didn’t make sense, but we were kids in single digits. In the 70s. We’d only just got colour television and we weren’t even allowed to watch Star Trek because it was too grown up.

Needless to say, we loved Star Wars. We clamoured to see it again, we got Star Wars action figures for Christmas (well, everyone else did; no Leia, so I missed out) and we role played it endlessly with various groups of friends. We used yellow Mattel race tracks for light sabers, leaping on couches, racing up stairs and jumping out from around corners. We did a lot of shouting.
Continue reading

IRL is real

So, something just happened to me that I’ve only ever read about: IRL.

In Real Life. Sometimes referred to as meatspace.

I’d only been blogging for about 10 minutes, and suddenly I had a case of IRL. Nothing horrible, just utterly time-consuming. And inconvenient. I had finally sorted out a publishing schedule – sort of – and had 4 posts all but finished, when bam: IRL. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t carve out the time needed to take those posts from all-but-finished to completely finished.

I blog for me. I don’t need a schedule; I don’t need exposure; I just like to write. And as I get older, and my memory less reliable, it’s a way of keeping track of what has taken my fancy and how my thinking has developed (or not). So it shouldn’t be an issue that I can’t get near a blog post for a month. It’s just something I do for fun, in my downtime, in the spaces of my real life.

Except that’s not quite how I feel about it. IRL has been a nuisance, interposing itself between me and my writing. Time and time again, I’ve tried to snatch a moment to post, only to have that moment evaporate. I’ve snapped at my IRL family and colleagues; I’ve postponed sleep; I’ve sighed heavily at having to perform all those tasks necessary to the continuance of real life.

So, what have I been doing? Working two jobs, check. Cleaning up after a minor disaster on the homefront, check. Supporting a friend through a family crisis, check. Holidaying, check.

Holidaying.

I think I need to reasses my priorities.

Adventures in make-up: the problem with brushes

Make-up brushesI started my adventures in make-up with a large face brush, a blush brush, an eyeshadow brush and whatever applicators came with the few products I owned.

I thought I was doing pretty well.

I was quickly disabused of this notion by Google and YouTube. If you want to apply make-up artfully, they said, then you need the right brushes. The better the brush, they said, the better the result. And the key to a natural look is really, really good brushes and a hell of a lot of blending. They said.

Bearing in mind that my first visit to Mecca Maxima for a consultation on a ‘simple’ day look entailed the use of 11 different brushes and scared me silly, I approached this advice with some caution. Continue reading