Wednesday, October 29, 2014

You don't wanna talk?

Yes, it's the women walking in New York video. You've probably seen in already. You've probably expressed outrage and annoyance and sadness and you might even have come across a few folks on the Twitters and the Facebooks making all sorts of, absolute bullshit, statements about compliments and 'how are women supposed to know men are interested if men can't talk to them?' - someone actually wrote that. Yes, I know. 

This two minute video is the result of a collaboration between filmmaker Rob Bliss and the street harassment activist group Hollaback! Bliss' girlfriend Shoshana Roberts walked around New York for ten hours, with Bliss and a Go-Pro in front of her. What they recorded was a mix of annoying, aggressive, intimidating, creepy and downright scary behaviour.  

The video begins with a man asking Shoshana, 'How you doing today?', when she doesn't respond he follows up with 'I guess not good'. The man beside him calls out 'smile', twice. 

You know what is really annoying? Being told to smile, especially by a man. Because what is inherent in that simple word as request is that a woman should behave in a way that a man finds acceptable, and smiling is one of the things he finds acceptable. Particularly if that smile is aimed at him. 

Harassment is defined as aggressive pressure or intimidation. When the men in this video call out 'damn' or 'nice' or walk silently beside Shoshana for five minutes that is aggressive and intimidating behaviour. That is harassment. And it's also, very often, terrifying. 

The unwanted attention Shoshana received, like the unwanted attention women receive from men everywhere every day, is aggressive and intimidating and sexually charged. None of it is a compliment. And all of it elicits fear, fear that makes women scared of taking up space in the world.

Women have the right to walk down the street without being subjected to this type of harassment from strangers. Women have the right to feel safe. Women have the right to NOT smile. However, while women may have these rights, too many men don't believe they have to respect them. Too many men choose to not care or not understand how their behaviour impacts on the lived experience of women. 

But the comment that illustrates most clearly the issue here is the man who tells Shoshana that she should thank the men who are 'acknowledging' her 'for being beautiful'. What the actual fuck.

What is explicit in the statement that man on the street made to Shoshana about being thankful for the unwanted attention is the message that men are entitled to interact with women in any way they desire. What is explicit in this notion of being thankful for a stranger calling out to you on the street is that women belong to men. And exist only for men.

And you know what, we fucking don't.


Sunday, October 26, 2014

well, nothing. it's sunday.

A long answer to a short question; my response to a writing prompt on Medium this morning...

What’s in my pocket?

Well, nothing.

It’s Sunday.

Sunday is for early morning walks and quiet moments feeling the rising sun on your back, sweat sticking to your body, the sound of your own heartbeat in your ears, your breathing quick and heavy and louder as the ground rises. And it’s for empty pockets.

Sunday is for homemade granola with natural yoghurt and honey; for slabs of sourdough caked in butter. It’s for cups of tea you hold close to your face, feeling the steam wrapping itself around your mouth and nose and tickling your ears. And it’s for empty pockets.

Sunday is for laying in the shade, the damp grass rustling beneath you, your head resting on cushions that don’t really belong outside. It’s for laying out, head in a book, noticing the shade shift as the pages turn and the sun warms you. And it’s for empty pockets.

Sunday is for dinners around the kitchen table, it’s for smiling conversations and laughter with people you call family. It’s for tall glasses of cold water and shaking salt on your vegetables. And it’s for empty pockets.

Sunday is for early nights under clean sheets. It’s for breathing in the summer air through your open window and pulling your blankets to your chin, better to be swathed in blankets than close the window. And it’s for empty pockets.

Sunday is for nowhere to be but here. Sunday is for enjoying the moments that you otherwise ignore or pretend you don’t have time for. Sunday is for nothing and for everything at once.

Sunday is for empty pockets.

kb xx

Thursday, October 23, 2014

this week #4

Watching: Twin Peaks

Never let it be said that I'm one to see things as soon as they appear, a jumper of bandwagons, an ardent follower of the zeitgeist. I'd given Twin Peaks some breathing room, nearly twenty five years worth, and have only just downloaded the first season this month. And then of course chatter starts about a return of the series, which has been confirmed for 2016. I'm sure I'll get to the new series by 2040 at least. 

Listening: No Doubt 
Just A Girl

No Doubt’s Tragic Kingdom was one of the first CD’s I ever bought, back in the days when we bought physical CD’s and not space on our hard drives. Just A Girl, in fact that entire album, has been a favourite ever since that first spin on my little CD player. Don’t blame me if this trip down (my) memory lanes results in hours spent clicking from one No Doubt hit to the next. Because that’s exactly what I did. Don’t Speak, Sunday Morning, SpiderwebsExcuse Me Mr.

You’re welcome.

Reading: Simon Armitage’s Walking Home

I saw British poet Simon Armitage at the Melbourne Writers Festival (the session was recorded for Radio National and you can listen to it here) and though previously hesitant to engage in poetry found him, his work and his story of walking the Pennine Way as a troubadour, albeit the wrong way, capturing my attention. So I bought his book and have only now got around to reading it - it’s a large TBR pile that sits on my bedside table. It’s an entertaining read, a mix of travel and memoir and laced with a little of that self deprecating humour that appeals to me. Perhaps it is my yearning for, and indeed my impending, adventure, but Armitage’s walk along the Pennine Way feels relevant to me right now. Not to say I’m planning to tackle the 256 mile walk anytime soon, perhaps it’s more in the attempting of rather than the actual doing that feels relevant. 

Anyway, that's this week.

kb xx