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Showing posts from April, 2014

The Joy of the Shitkansen

You can hear their bravado; those who declare, despite the guffaws from friends, that they will be commuting from Newcastle to Sydney by rail. “No, five hours a day on the train is fine. I can read, watch movies, sleep. All that time to myself. Looking forward to it, actually.” Three months later, they are pale, glassy eyed,unable to read as they stare into middle distance; “no more”, they whisper, “please. No more.” They have been broken by the train journey known to locals, with a certain crude brilliance and no affection whatsoever, as the “Shitkansen”. For what sins have the people of Newcastle and the Central Coast been punished with such a rail service? When in 2012, the NSW government announced with great fanfare “the biggest timetable changes in a generation”, they were apparently referring to the “Greatest Generation” who survived the Great Depression and World War Two, as the journey from Newcastle to Sydney Central now takes longer than it did using steam engines in the 1930

Feminist Birth?

It amazes and depresses me that feminism, with it's (hoped for) support of a woman's bodily autonomy and right to choose, still has so very far to go when it comes to birth. As  this piece from New Statesman  points out, 100 years ago feminists were fighting the notion that a woman must give birth in pain to atone for original sin, and for the right to anaesthesia in labour. We've now come full circle. Google search "feminist birth", and you will see dozens of links to sites advocating "natural birth", without medical intervention or pain relief. Pain is how you get in touch with your inner warrior woman! Pain is empowering! Pain is GOOD FOR YOU AND YOUR BABY! And god help you if you want an elective caesarean. Her body her choice - unless you want a c-section without medical indication. Then you're just anxious, or a victim of the medico-industrial patriarchal system, or, you know, selfish ("it's not as good for baby"). Not only does f

Autism Awareness: We Have A Long Way To Go

Last week, fresh off the most dreaded day of the year for people with ASD (April Fools Day; it can be damn scary to not know when something is a joke or not, especially when others' take advantage of that) was World Autism Awareness Day. It's great to see autism getting more awareness, a view that it is a variety of normal. How I wish there'd been some of that when I was relentlessly bullied for being "an alien" in primary school! (And bullying awareness, too; there was a view then that if a kid was being bullied, it was their won fault really - have you tried making friends with them/staying out of their way? I digress). So Facebook and Twitter filled up with memes and posts relating to autism. But overwhelmingly, they were related to kids. I wonder how many of the people pleading for awareness of autism in cute seven year old boys would react if they tried to strike up a conversation with an autistic adult? What with the awkwardness and lack of eye contact? Not

Why Society Should Compel Mandatory Reporting of Sexual Abuse

Media storm erupted today, with columnist Joe Hildebrand labelled as an insensitive jackass for voicing his support for laws which could potentially see parents jailed for failing to report their partners for abusing their children. Mia Freedman chimed in her support for Hildebrand, and I found myself wishing it was someone, anyone, other than this universally reviled pair supporting the law. For, having been on all sides of the fence I agree with them, kind of, and the furore raises some difficult issues we don't as a society much like talking about. Let's start with a  look at the proposed law . It does not target mothers, or abuse in general; it is proposed in reaction to the Royal Commission into child sexual abuse by the Catholic Church, making it a crime to fail to disclose child sexual abuse. And who could disagree with that? Well, plenty, it seems, to judge from the many dissenting voices who raise the spectre of an abused partner too afraid to report. But leaving aside